dimanche, mai 17, 2009

Lost Party

We're all pretty well sucked into Lost. We talk about it. We get together to watch it. We make video parodies of it and post them on the Internet.

At the, ahem, explosive season finale party, we invited some charming people who hadn't seen the show before. Halfway through, one of them says: "at least it isn't a soap opera." It was a funny, smart observation that made me stop and think: "Wait a minute, this whole thing really is off the rails and melodramatic. Am I only forgiving it because their kool-aid was so excruciatingly delicious when I drank it in season 1?"

I've tried not to think about it since, but it has become undeniable. There are aspects of that show that are maudlin enough, and twists that are bizarre and inexplicable enough, to qualify it as a soap opera. On the surface of it, this can't be good. Just like the summer I baby sat my Aunt Terry's kids in the mid-80's, I am addicted to a soap opera. But is Lost simply the Young and the Restless with cool special effects, a super sexy cast, and and even more convoluted multi-year story line?

Even if it is a soap opera, it is a glorified, enhanced, power punching prime time version that no midday ham handed hack job ever approached.

Hence, to all detractors I can only say: You can't come in the middle. Watch the first and second season on DVD. They EARNED this soap. They crafted this opera. Watch it. Do yourself a favor. Once you smoke that crack, I can promise that you'll stand and say with the rest of us: I KNOW WHAT LIES IN THE SHADOW OF THE STATUE--ME.

mercredi, mai 13, 2009

K.I.S.S. me goodbye

When I die, I have but one request: Keep it simple.

I've never thought death was a big deal. It is, i realize, the only REAL existential crisis; but that doesn't mean it should be complicated or difficult. Like EVERY OTHER PERSON who ever lived, I'll be here one minute, gone the next. My affairs will be in order. I will have lived a full rich life, even if it happens tomorrow.

So I'm asking you, please, to keep the funeral arrangements simple.

A shovel is all you'll need. No maudlin fanfare. No mourners. No bogus recaps of "a life well lived" or well wishers pretending I had some great effect. Just a hole and a pile of person. Toss me in it and go.

Except of course, I've always loved the sea. Sadly, as with so many other aspects of my life, she didn't love me back. She always made me throw up all over her. Come to think of it, that might have more to do with her hatred of boats. At any rate, it was a complex relationship, and that's the only real reason I can think of that I was overcome with paralyzing fear every time I got near her. So perhaps, if only for poetic reasons, I'd like to be buried at sea. Simply, without pomp, of course, and without circumstance, but definitely at sea.

I don't know what that entails, permit wise. It might be complicated, which would go against the general tenor of my wishes. Perhaps you could just do a Weekend at Bernie's thing: sneak my lifeless corpse out on a whale watching boat and dump me unceremoniously overboard. I hope there are no legal ramifications for you.
Come to think of it, go ahead and get the permit. That sounds less complicated than an extended legal wrangle.


As long as you're having to go through the rigmarole of the permit, we might as well go ahead and get a casket. On land, a pine box would be more than enough. Too much even. But I'm afraid that might float. I think this one might have to be steel, or iron. That sucker will sink like a rock. I hope that isn't expensive. And you know what would be cool? A window. A round one, like on a ship, right over my face. That would be cool for some scientist someday in a submarine to discover this tank of a casket, with this withered corpse staring out of the window. Plus, on the off chance that I'm not actually dead, but paralyzed like that guy on the Twilight Zone, I'd at least get to watch some interesting stuff on the way down. And you know what? As long as I'm going to the bottom of the ocean, it might has well be the deepest part of the ocean. The Marianas Trench. That's it. Find that--somewhere off the coast of Monterey--and drop me out there, in my iron casket with a submarine grade window.

Speaking of submarines, it might be cool to have one follow me down, just in case I do wake up. Plus they could film it, and it could be part of an awesome reality show about people's final wishes. Call it "Death Wish," or "Finality Follies." The profits from that will certainly off-set any expenses you might incur carrying out my simple wishes for my very simple funeral.

vendredi, mai 01, 2009

I Hate You(r hypocrisy)

Ceteris Paribus.
This Latin phrase, meaning, "all things being equal," was to be a simple way of comparing two ideas, or situations, or individuals. I used to enjoy the act putting two divergent contingencies on equal footing, so as to compare them by their actual merits. The result was almost always a deeper appreciation of both sides of the story and the various adherents to either one.

But then you came along. You partisans. You ideologues.

The sad thing is, I know in advance exactly how you will react to what follows. I know, with absolute assurance, that you are not capable of analysing this situation. As soon as the idea that your Man might not be perfection incarnate, you abandon your right and your responsibility of rational thought. I've seen this too many times to try and deny it now. So, essentially, I might be writing this for myself; I don't think you'll get to the end.

That said, let's take baby steps. First, let us establish that I am no fan of the former president--and not just because I have never been nor will I ever be a fan of ANY politician. It is not just because it is intellectually reprehensible, morally infantile, and against the founding principles of our country to position one's self as an acolyte of any public official or personality. No, I was no fan of his because he was objectionable, domestically ineffectual, and was in a position to embarrass his country when he embarrassed himself. He spent too much of the people's money and used a crisis situation to overstep what the Constitution says a president can do. That's why.

With me so far?

Then let me admit that I also do not HATE the former president. Neither am I stupid enough to conjecture that he is stupid, or evil, or that he wanted to destroy America in a mad quest for power. Moreover, he had no effect whatsoever on me personally. In NO WAY, NOT EVER, did anything he did ruin my day, or effect my level of optimism. I'll admit that my sphincter did indeed tighten a little when he misspoke. But other than that, THIS IS AMERICA, I'd say to myself, and HE'S JUST THE PRESIDENT.

Hope I didn't lose you there.

Now let us utilize our imagination. I want you to imagine that the press, and, more importantly, the PEOPLE of this great nation treated all politicians equally. Picture that. Take a minute and try to wrap your head around both sides of what that contingency might entail. Now let me present you with a situation or two. Keep in mind that I am not going to present my opinion. Not once. I am only going to present some facts, and ask you to ask yourself some questions.

*What do you think might have been said, or thought, about Bush if he had refused to turn over ANY records, from his college transcripts to his birth certificate? Might there not have been a media circus? An outcry for disclosure? Conspiracy theories?

*What if, as governor (because he was not a senator) had secured a large grant for a hospital, which then proceeded to hire his wife for a well paid, (and by some accounts, bogus) position with almost no responsibilities--a position that ended promptly when he began his run for president? Might a reporter have asked him a question about that? What might you have thought? Would you have an opinion about people in power securing money and position for family members? Might you have gotten out your thesaurus and used the word "nepotism?"

*What if Bush had once been contracted to write a book about the Constitution (I know, I know, Bush is too dumb to have even written a birthday card, let alone a book. Ha ha. Done yet? This is hypothetical. Let us move on.) Imagine he had signed on to write said book, about the CONSTITUTION, and had instead written a book about his dad. Do you think that people would have let that go, no matter how good the book was? Can you admit that the fact would at least have been raised for scrutiny? We know it's illegal for a public official to sign a multi-million dollar book deal. What if Bush had smartly taken advantage of the brief period between the election and the inauguration (when he would have been technically unemployed), to sign a very lucrative deal? Might someone on MSNBC have mentioned it, at least in passing?

*Imagine that Bush had nominated lobbyists and tax cheats for his cabinet (after promising to eliminate the same). What might the media and commentators and columnists and Daily Show writers have said?

*Imagine that Bush had said in a press conference that his administration was working hard to "put an end to privacy," (as a certain current president said after shooting three Somali venture capitalists in the head, we know he meant "piracy"-was the teleprompter wrong?). Imagine the late night talk show jokes and scoffs of coffee house faux intellectuals. Speaking of teleprompters . . .

*Imagine, if you will, that Bush had a well known almost total dependence on a teleprompter, and took it everywhere, and had several embarrassing gaffs that occurred when said teleprompter done him wrong. (As in "And let me--wait. I already said that. Go ahead and move it up." An exact quote from the current president.) How many comedians would be ALL OVER THAT?

*Pretend for a second that Bush had made a beautiful campaign promise to post all legislation on-line before signing it, thereby giving the people a chance to scrutinize it and comment. Then imagine that he proceeded to sign several pieces of legislation with no apparent thought toward his promise. Is it possible that you might have been slightly embittered? (That is, if the press even bothered to mention it.)

*Imagine that a candidate, any any candidate, had spoken out against a foolish and mismanaged war. Then, as president, had suddenly had a change of heart and (silently) stuck to the previous guys plans almost to the letter? Would you change the face on your anti war bumper sticker? And what if he had railed against the way the previous regime had intruded upon the privacy and civil rights with, say, warrant less wire taps, but then, upon becoming president, decided (curiously) to extend (and perhaps EXPAND) said wire taps? Might you angrily shake your fist in protest against the oppression? Might you make a you tube video with myopic caricatures of the president and his jingoistic cronies?

*What if a candidate made an INSPIRING promise to scour the budget, to go over it with a fine toothed comb and eliminate waste of all kinds. Then imagine said candidate reiterating said promise as president. Then imagine his people spending $328,000 dollars on a photo op. Could Bush have possibly gotten away with that? And what if that photo op was of Air Force 1 and two fighter jets fly very low over the city that will never forget how similarly low flying planes killed thousands of people and traumatized millions. Imagine that the president's "people" had INEXPLICABLY demanded total secrecy about the photo op, thereby insuring that the city be traumatized. If that happened to be Bush, and not Obama, might you not have a passing thought about the bungling insensitivity of the people in the Whitehouse? Would you expect that Keith Olberman would tacitly accept a tersely worded "apology?" Really?

*How did you react when Bush sought the support of the international community to attain his international ends? I remember. It was ridicule. It was contempt. What might you have for a newer president who seeks out help with his militaristic ends on another front, and finds his request tossed unceremoniously in his face by every single potentate and political entity in the world? Where is your contempt for a president who seeks to enlist help, even with economic issues, and meets with almost no cooperation whatsoever?

*And what if Bush had spontaneously, creepily laughed out loud when he talked to 60 Minutes about the failing auto industry? What if Bush had insulted developmentally disabled people on Jay Leno? What if Bush had promised jobs in his first week, and 100 days later unemployment was at record highs? What if Bush had stated he didn't want to "micro manage" the failing auto industry, and then consistently did JUST THAT until they were bankrupt? AND WHAT IF BUSH HAD SENT THE NATIONAL DEBT TO RECORD LEVELS, NUMBERS UNHEARD OF IN RECORDED HISTORY? Might you not have a negative opinion about the inevitable inflation? Might you not worry (as Bush's detractors did so vehemently) that the president is bankrupting our children?

And what if Bush had been given a free pass on ALL OF THE ABOVE by his followers, party members, and the press? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that would bother you. Well, you may (or may not, sadly) have guessed that all of the above were all perpetrated by your superstar president Obama. They are the hallmarks of his first 100 days.

I know what you said about Bush every day for eight years. I accept the validity of your opinions, though my ears are still recovering from your shrill, panicky tones. But much as I welcome your relative silence on a sonic level, on a moral level I have to ask:

Where are you now?