Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reality: the crappier perspective

I seen the commercial for a reality show called "Doctors" the other day. I think, in the episode that I seen the ad for, someone was getting beauty surgery of some sort for their face. This came right after seeing the news reporter say that store chains such as Macy's, I think Bergdorf's, and some others were closing down due to weak returns in holiday spending. I mean, even as I sit here, there's a ticker under the running episode of CSI saying that on my cable service, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, MTV, VH1, Spike and some other channels will be cut from the air. There is a number they show that I can call to help put a stop to this. It doesn't say that it has something to do with the recession, but I'm pretty sure it does. But this is not that much here or there.

I'm now reading on Wikipedia that the premise for the reality talk show "The Doctors" was that there would be discussion of medical and health issues amongst professionals in various medical fields, and people would ask these pros questions that they were too embarassed to ask their own doctor. Yes, because if I have a humiliating problem, I'd much rather ask strangers on national television than my own familiar doctor in the privacy of his office. Makes perfect sense.

This show is at least one of the more wholesome ones in its intent, but I was wondering if some people really think that reality shows are some substantial way to disseminate information to the public? Do they, the fans and the networks, think that there is some sort of visual nutrition going on in the interaction between viewer and the reality show? Or perhaps, that since the people, inevitable arguments stemming from overblown temperaments, and wastes of footage showing people just sitting there talking about garbage is real, it's entertaining?

People are obviously interested in this eye trash, but I seriously don't hope they think there's something redeeming happening whilst watching it. Maybe some content would be adequately and most accurately shown in the reality show format, but for the most part it is just the product of lazy producers and cheap studios who have found a way to entertain the mass asses without the costs and anxiety of hiring creative writers. Some college student is trying to make it to the NBA? Slap a camera on him and follow him around. A housewife in the Hamptons has the I.Q. of astroturf? Let's let the world be amused by how insipid she is! A washed-up actor is fighting his addiction to bestiality and vicodin? Let us hungry studio execs cash in on his despair and suicidal tendencies!

When I was much younger, I was very much into MTV's "The Real World" and wanted to go on there to be in the house and be surrounded by the delectable women they always cast. I always said that I'd pretty much stay in the background and would avoid the constant bickering and arguing that erupted on there regardless of social context. And then I found out that they purposely cast people who fight with each other. So, not long afterwards I stopped watching it forever. But the background manipulation of the shows isn't a major rejection point for me, it's the lack of anything even remotely substantial in all of it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cold Coffee/War, Native Americans and Robert Ludlum

Parental Advisory: Written while drunk.
Holidays a-comin'. Gifts a-givin'. Egg nog a-drinkin'. Credit card companies a-owin'.

On a complete, and I mean starkly contrasted, subject, I found out an interesting tidbit about my manager the other day. As it turns out, when he was younger, he was held prisoner by communist Russians during the Cold War. How did this come up, you probably didn't ask? Simple. I was on the verge of finishing "Watchmen", which graphic novel I recommend everyone in two to three worlds to read because Alan Moore is one of the greatest writers of all time (it's the only graphic novel of Time Magazine's 100 greatest novels ever), and one of the primary plot elements in the story is the Cold War. America and Russia are on the verge of playing chicken sh** against each other with nuclear missiles and millions of people's lives while the story plays out. So, being the curious and information-hungry person that I am, I asked my co-worker and intellectual salon participant [Fred] a bit about the Cold War, and he told me to ask my manager because he has first hand experience.

I was told that my manager explained that, whilst he was in his prison cell, Communist guards gave him cold coffee. So, in order to warm it up, he cut open electrical wires and warmed his coffee with electricity. I never got a chance to ask him how this process was performed, but there you have it. Warming your coffee with electrical wiring. For some reason, everytime I think of this, I imagine the coffee tasting "pewter-y". Yes....pewter. The color that street lamps put out. The color of corrugated metal. Pewter. I don't know. I can taste pewter, or I remember a taste and imagine that that's what the color pewter would taste like. But I digress. In the future I must ask him about his early life. I'm sure he has stories upon stories.

In other news, apparently my co-worker [Ron], the carpet salesman who works upstairs, is a big-budget espionage novel fan. Big-budget like the works of Robert Ludlum, Ted Bell, probably Ian Fleming and the like. If you've read the post I wrote long ago, you'd see that I like the book and film franchise "The Bourne Identity" a lot, but I cannot get into the international, clean-cut, women-magnetic spy thingy. A super-stunning woman who is completely willing to do whatever the protagonist wants everytime out of sheer sexual throb for him, super intelligent bad guys that he outsmarts everytime, no wear or tear on his chiseled face and perfect abs even though they age and experience realistically traumatic events; I can't continue to read this stuff on a regular basis. Give me abstract, intelligent and possibly moral stories about underdogs or the cultured and bright dregs of society. Give me Chuck Palahniuk, Paul Auster, (now) Alan Moore, Agatha Christie and some other authors of the like.

But anyway, almost everytime I see this guy, he reminds me that I should pick up and read "The Matarese Circle", another novel by Ludlum. I'm, of course, completely willing to try it out, but I must first finish "Last of the Mohicans". I told him this, and he told me that I should dump that crap and head straight for Ludlum first thing. Now, everytime he comes around, I (jokingly) call him a racist for expecting me to throw away a narrative about a Native American tribe for some militaristic white writer who was quite well off financially from cashing in on the the adventurous, international, well-trained American modern warrior. Not happening. Of course, "Last of the Mohicans" itself was written by a white guy and is titled contrary to the fact that there are plenty of Mohicans living today, but, in the toss up of half-truth, I'd rather go where attention to the subject makes some sort of slight difference.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just babbling.

The people in the upper crust of the business I work for have their sniper rifles cocked and ready, loaded with pink slips and aiming at various people to fire. So, there's supposedly pressure on us lower employee folk to step our game up and somehow magically make tons of money pour into our registers from all the customer purchases, although there's no customers. People are hardly shopping anymore because they don't have jobs. And so the stores start letting go of people. I'm not up in the upper crust, so I don't know how money is being handled, but with the guy I work for, I'm pretty sure he cuts jobs to save his profit and not to pay bills. But, do many companies or the rich ever think to take the little bit of money they have and start re-opening jobs so that people would have money to shop? Nope. Of course, that question and answer gets a lot more complex than what I've typed.

Meanwhile, my co-worker [Laura] has now earned the full brunt of my dignified anger and will now be reported everytime she does something stupid. I've never had the energy or drive to pursue this campaign against her before; as she is always doing stupid stuff like talking to my customers fully knowing that they are my customers or telling me to pick up or clean stuff that she can do herself, although she's not my boss, and I ignore it. But I'm sure she honestly believes she's my boss, because she believes she knows everything. Her own experience is the only, and I literally mean the only thing she knows, and she believes that what she knows is absolute law. She has the inability to learn or think of anything else. So, with this said, a good, solid majority of the employees in all three stores of this company believe she is mentally disabled (yes, we've all had problems with her). To then ask whether her behavior is her own fault or not is quite another post.

Me and some managers and her had a meeting, with the manager [Howard] basically saying that he doesn't want us arguing on the selling floor anymore, and that if there's a problem, to report it to him. He says if there is problem, try to talk it out first with each other. And while this is quite the diplomatic notion, it shows that he is massively ignorant and unexperienced with attempting to talk things out with this idiot. Me and the other manager, [Daniella] have already attempted this multiple times, and multiple times the idiot just keeps talking over us or just works to shove her viewpoint down our throats. Furthermore, even though he says he knows this, he fails to seriously consider that she has been the center of arguments with many employees that have erupted ever since she started working here. In this meeting, I have two days off where she works alone and she has two days off where I work alone. The pair of days are back to back. I have off Monday and Tuesday. But in this meeting, she said that she would appreciate if I left the floor clean when I was done with it, so that when she came in on Monday and Tuesday, it'd be in sellable condition. She "has that respect for me. It's simple." Mon and Tues is after Sunday. On Sunday, we're both working. So how am I the only one that leaves the selling floor crappy? Sounds like she's just trying to get me in trouble, to put me in front of the sniper rifle. And I may go there, but not without letting Human Resources have a piece of my mind.

I say to The Disturbed One in text message:

Me: I'm GODDAMN REPORTING THIS BITCH! Sent: 12:39

I explain, and then say:
Me: She's gone or I am. Sent: 12:41
Me: I'm attacking full force. Sent: 12:41
Disturbed One, The: Dag samurai. Sent: 12:42

We converse about whether it is wiser to stay and deal with these unbearably oppressive conditions everyday in order to be able to pay bills and eat. Or to leave this and pursue bigger and better things, even in economic conditions such as these. I say, yes, you pay bills and eat, but your life also has the value of a small pile of cigarette ash. If not to strive for rational happiness, if not even to strive for something simple like a better job (which could just as easily mean working the same position somewhere else, or another job with the same pay), what is the point of living? I'm afraid the Disturbed One believes in shifting life around the main goal of sustaining yourself. I believe in shifting your sustenance in order to better pursue a better life. This is an age old battle that never has a solidified resolution. Ah well.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Amsterdammit!

I’ve seen on “Attack of the Show” today that Amsterdam, as of last Saturday, is officially starting a plan to close down some cafes and brothels over a 10 year period. In order to clean the image of Amsterdam up a little bit, they want to move the weed cafes and brothels to city centers. This is nice in a moral perspective, except tourism is a huge part of Amsterdam and the cafes and brothels were THE ONLY REASONS PEOPLE EVEN WANTED TO GO OVER THERE!

That and Japan were the two countries I’d have liked to visit. Yes, for the cafes and…..well, for the sake of prudence, I won’t speak on the other asset, although I’m sure you can draw somewhat accurate conclusions (I’m a terrible bastard, I know).

As I’ve said, the image that Amsterdam has now is what was bringing in the tourist money. The things that have city planner Lodewijk Asscher worried is that these places also attract many members of organized crime and are near schools. In 10 years time, they better develop something that will replace the cafes and brothels in terms of income. Perhaps they could somehow get their hands on top cars designers and start exporting. Or have a few programmers and developers start a software company over there, particularly in video games (that industry hasn’t been touched at all through the last 6-7 years. As a matter of fact, it’s flourishing now more than ever). Perhaps lower the taxes and build a few soundstage studios so that big budget film directors can pay to make their blockbusters there more often. I don’t know.

I didn’t even realize Organized Crime was really a problem like that in Amsterdam. You never really hear about it being so. As far as the marijuana goes, the guy on T.V. said that marijuana prohibition is quite the problem causer. It’s expensive and it victimizes responsible adults. I don’t know about the victimizing adults thing, but I can’t say I’ve heard or remember any terrible things happening as a result of smoking weed, aside from laziness and loss of purpose. Nothing a smack in the face and a boot out the house until you’ve come back hired somewhere can’t fix. He says introducing marijuana as a taxed, regulated and controlled substance commodity would be the way to go. I guess. I don’t see what’s wrong with this, although he’d have to bring up cold, hard scientific evidence against those who solely believe it’s a gateway drug.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Hancock"

If you were to look on the listings for the credits; the names of the people who were the cast and crew for the film, you'd see Peter Berg (The Kingdom, The Rundown) listed as the director and particular names for the writers of the film. But I think the writers' names were put as a way to legitimize the film; it appears evident to me that it was really written by Peter Berg's 9-year-old-son as an English paper for his Junior High School class.


I had this conversation/argument with my mother and cannot repeat the content of it here for fear of spoiling the film for you, but it basically concerned the realism of the story, an element which was obviously never part of the plan, or was but was then taken out. This does not cater to those who don't take any superhero or fantasy story seriously because it concerns made-up fantastical elements (people flying, aliens, superhuman powers, etc.) Those people simply can't think outside of the box and miss the whole point of fiction. This concerned the point that if you are going to put forth said fantastical elements, you have to explain logically how these elements react to and are effected by the world as we know it.

Sometimes, all it takes is a simple explanation. Ex: Peter Parker was bit by a radioactive spider. We don't know what would really happen to someone who was bit by one (we don't know what's in the radiation), and it's safe to assume they won't get powers if they were bit, but that area of reality is vague and uncertain enough for writers to fill it with their own mythology. The point is, he was bit by a radioactive spider, and his biologics reacted through giving him the abilities of a spider and that explains why he has his powers. You'd be hard-pressed to find this simple explanation in "Hancock". You be hard-pressed to find an explanation period.

In spite of the film having CGI the quality of which me and The Disturbed One could've simply made with Adobe Photoshop and HTML, besides certain scenes being rushed and ruined in the process, besides having a temporary villain that was completely worthless to the film as a whole (the film really focused on the three main characters.....or tried to anyway), it was fun watching Will Smith's character Hancock. He had a certain charm in the constant scrunching up of his mouth, his complete sloppiness and alcoholism, and his interaction with Ray Embrey (played by Jason Bateman) and sometimes with Mary Embrey (Charlize Theron). But this is about all I can say for what good elements the film had.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Who is truly the freak?

I watched a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode the other day where they investigated the murder of a young man who was extremely hairy. Hair on the face, knuckles, chest, legs, thighs, everywhere. When they autopsied him, they found he was shot with a silver bullet. You can guess what impression this was supposed to give. At any rate, they investigate and find that the victim has a twin sister. They visit the house he lived in, look around for clues and find a hidden room in the house, hidden behind a door that looks like one of the living room walls. Inside they find the sister, Allison Ludford, who was suffering from the same rare genetic disorder as her brother, hypertrichosis (extreme hair growth)(note below). In everyday living, she flees to this room when her brother brings over visitors or when unexpected ones come over, and basically stays in there and does not venture into the outside world for fear of the way society will treat her. But here's the part of the investigation that stayed in my mind.................

They start to look into where these youth's parents are. Allison said that her mother was dead. This is what her brother told her. The CSI officers begin tracking the parents down for themselves. The father does not turn up, I think he had ran away to be in another marriage after his newborn infants appeared hideous to him in birth. They do find the mother however, living just fine in another part of Las Vegas (where the show takes place). Wil Grissom (head CSI officer) and the mother talk, and the mother explains that, when Allison was young, the mother tried to keep Allison locked up inside the house so that she wouldn't be embarrassed by "having a freak for a daughter" in public. Allison wanted to go outside anyway, and the mother didn't like that. So, one day, the mother packed up her things and ran off, leaving the children in the house to fend for themselves. She later called the brother and told him to tell Allison that her mom died in a car accident, so that Allison wouldn't come looking for her. As the mother explained all this to Grissom, I judged her intensely.

Now, as you may already know, I'm not a fan of children, regardless whether they're hairy or model status, but my mind went back and forth on this as a moral issue. I thought, this woman threw her child away because she didn't look normal and therefore wouldn't have a "normal" life amongst her neighbors and the empty, decrepit criticisms of a society who has a standard for something that's out of people's control. Who is truly the freak here? But then again, to live under those circumstances, amongst such ignorance and sh**-mindedness would be pretty difficult. I tried to put myself in the mother's shoes. But this is your child that you chose to bring into the world and provide with unconditional love (well, in this mother's case, it was not unconditional at all, nor was it love), why should it matter if it will be difficult or not? Responsibilities like child-rearing cannot should not be simply ditched because they're "too hard". And ditched, furthermore, by telling your daughter, who is already suffering at the hands of superficial critics, that the one of the two people that she could truly say she's attached to, is dead? This (hypothetically: making pretend this was a real person) occurred to the mother to say because it was a reflection of her own heart: her own daughter was already dead to her, so she reversed the situation in reality.

I'd be more likely to attend to and take care of this child than most other children. It's this kind of child that requires more love than some polished brat who could float flawlessly amongst society's public fabric. Of course, things could get tough and confusing in this choice of path, and the real difficulties set in. Being a parent means passing down to your children those morals and core beliefs (you believe) are needed to get through in the world and enjoy life. And although I don't know everything, I'd try to teach Allison, as I raised her, to adhere to doing the right things as best I could.

I can't be there for her during the times when other kids would make fun of her in school and embarass and shun her. I won't know what to say when Allison kicks some other boy or girl in the teeth because she's angry from being called names and ostracized and I completely understand why she lost her temper. I won't be a good example for her when I throw someone else's parent or teacher or principle out of a 10-story window for disrespecting my child or allowing that disrespect to happen. I won't want to hurt her when I accidently scream at her in rage after she asks me for something or wants me to hold her because I'm confused and tired from having to defend her from the public constantly. When a bunch of hell-sent jackals beat her up, pull some cruel prank or attempt to kill her, how can I be a good parent after going to jail because I've turned into The Punisher? Our lives would be a bit tougher than most others, but I would stay by her side.

I was going to put who killed her brother and why here, but I don't think it's really that relevant and I don't want spoil anything, even for the small chance that you'll come across that episode and watch it even though you're not a fan of the show. My point was, being a parent to that child would be super tough, extremely tough, but after making the decision to bear the child, how relevant is the difficulty of being her parent anyway? Even in dealing with my child having a mental disorder, which I will fully admit would be especially hard for me to deal with, I realize that I would have to train myself to take care of them accordingly and try my best not to treat them condescendingly. The bottom line is, that child would need love just like any other would. More love actually. It's these children we should be running to, not running away from.

(note) Although I have to admit, I did ask myself as to why Allison simply didn't just shave on the regular basis. But I remembered that people with much smaller amounts of hair are usually too lazy to even shave that on a normal basis. How can I expect her to constantly shave her whole body?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mariposa's Meme

Ok, I was, like, totally, tagged in this meme by Mariposa, and I, like, totally, promised her I would do it on my own blog. So, like, totally, here it is and stuff and crap and stuff. Totally.

Here are the rules...
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Random thingy-things
1) I would like to know why the world has never seen Eminem's teeth.
2) I could spend hours at a time watching Pop-Up Video on VH1.
3) I spend weekend nights, sitting on a bamboo mat, cleaning and repolishing my sacred blade (have you forgotten that I am a samurai?).
4) My lifelong dream has been to travel to Japan. And Amsterdam. Then I'm finished with the world.
5) I'm fully aware that the CSI series is written by knucklehead, caveman conservatives who think the police should rule the world, but I watch it anyway.
6) When eating pizza, I take off the crust and sop it in the grease on the slice itself and eat that first, then eat the cheese-and-tomato sauce combination.

Who is tagged for this post: anyone who reads. All of you.....meme.....meme away to yonder bliss!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bah.

"Together we made it! We made it even though we had our backs up against the wall!" 10 pts. if you can tell me which song this is from.

Ah, fresh from crossing the finishing line in NaNoWriMo, I am much more rejuvenated to attend to my blog and your blogs. With that said, I must also confront the excuses as to why I had stopped tending to these respective blogs as much as I did before.

For one, when I want to post something on my blog I usually try to have it as structured as I can before approaching the keyboard. The blog is about the dynamics of life, and since this entails just writing about whatever occurs to me to write, I thought that it was important to have some structural order in the ideas I put forth, so that these dynamics in their individuals natures and relations could be comprehensible by whoever takes the time to read. The thing is, I'd come up with stuff but wouldn't post it because I didn't feel that it was expression ready. I'd put the thoughts down in my special Ernest Hemingway/Bruce Chatwin/caught-by-Barnes-and-Noble-marketing-to-wannabe-writers notebook and never get around to organizing them, whether it be from laziness or that tiresome/repulsive feeling you get from being too blog-involved for periods of time. However, I think NaNoWriMo has taught me that it'd be better if I were a bit more loose with writing. A bit more, not completely.

For two, NaNo started on November 1st. And after that point, everytime I came, with piping hot mug of coffee, to my keyboard, I'd consider writing these things I had planned for the blog but then say to myself "I could be using this time to add words to my novel", and I'd just go and do that instead. I'd kick myself for missing out on reading you guys' blogs, but could only rarely find time to do so in between writing the novel, going to work, then coming home and struggling to keep from slicing my wrists after remembering that I have to go back into that stupid job the next day.

But alas, NaNo is done and I'm back here with a new mug of caffeine, refreshed, renewed, still depressed, and still without having seen "Quantum of Solace" or read "Twilight". Although, I will get to that book after finishing "V For Vendetta" and "Watchmen" (only because he is one of the GREATEST writers of all time. Those who prefer Frank Miller should throw themselves off the edge of the Earth, which Miller probably still believes is flat). At any rate, I will write the things I had planned on writing, like, a month ago, and then normal blog service will resume.

Be well in your travels, and Thank You For Smoking.