Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I love to promote me some me (or at least my job)

I've had my job, which I consider the purrfecto match for who I am and what I want, for nearly five years. It's the longest I've ever done anything in my life. I still am as excited about going to to work every tomorrow as I was the first day. Yet, despite probably close to a dozen mass-email updates about my job and its rewards, I find that many of my friends don't have a particularly concrete understanding of what I do. That's my fault mostly, because I assume too much about others' available time to dive into the Web site, And also, I think that most of us really don't know what our friends do. I couldn't explain what most of them do, except for the teachers and writers. But unlike most people, I got really lucky and someone else decided to explain my job for me.

The Voice of America radio network very recently did this five minute feature about L.A. Youth. It's pretty good. We're all proud of it, except perhaps how we sound. Each of us interviewed claims that everyone else sounds great, but that we don't sound like ourselves.

Here's the link to the Web version, which you can read.

Here's the link to the listenable version (complete with our voices!)

A teeny, tiny bit famous / This is what I do

This is a story the Voice of American radio network did about L.A. Youth, the teen newspaper I work for. If you click on the story link, you'll also get a chance to hear me--this is radio after all. I don't hate the sound of my recorded voice, which is pretty much a first, though I wish I had slowed down my talking. I am also very envious of Laura's quote ... much stronger than mine. At least I used "ironically" correctly, and even got recognized for that by a friend. As someone who spent much of his life sincerely believing he was smarter than most everyone else (like a fucking idiot, btw), I appreciated the ego boost. I don't know if this qualifies as the new blogging style, but this is breaking news, which I said might interrupt the re-thinking hiatus.

Youth Newspaper Gives Los Angeles Teens a Voice
By Mike O'Sullivan
Los Angeles
24 July 2007

A student newspaper in Los Angeles called "L.A. Youth" is giving a voice to teenagers, free from censorship by school officials. Mike O'Sullivan reports, the paper deals with controversial issues from sexuality to violence, and such ordinary problems as getting a date in high school.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Another movie for Michael Moore or Robert Greenwald

Though I haven't seen it and would likely disagree with some of how Michael Moore portrayed and potentially distorted things in Sicko (his new film about healthcare in the States vs. other countries), I agree with his underlying premise. How is it that the by-far wealthiest and most powerful country in the world can do something so vital like health care so badly? How is our infant mortality rate not the lowest in the world? Why do we have so many uninsured? Why are so many senior veterans lacking necessary medical treatment? Granted, it could be very expensive, but these are our World War II veterans? Our greatest generation? (continued below ad) ...


According to Paul Krugman, economist and Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, it's insufficient government regulation and essentially myopic worship of the capitalist free market. In today's column he brings up another technology/science related area in which the United States is lagging—high-speed Internet. I'll allow him to explain:

The numbers are startling. As recently as 2001, the percentage of the population with high-speed access in Japan and Germany was only half that in the United States. In France it was less than a quarter. By the end of 2006, however, all three countries had more broadband subscribers per 100 people than we did.

Even more striking is the fact that our “high speed” connections are painfully slow by other countries’ standards. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, French broadband connections are, on average, more than three times as fast as ours. Japanese connections are a dozen times faster. Oh, and access is much cheaper in both countries than it is here.

As a result, we’re lagging in new applications of the Internet that depend on high speed. France leads the world in the number of subscribers to Internet TV; the United States isn’t even in the top 10.

What happened to America’s Internet lead? Bad policy. Specifically, the United States made the same mistake in Internet policy that California made in energy policy: it forgot — or was persuaded by special interests to ignore — the reality that sometimes you can’t have effective market competition without effective regulation.

You see, the world may look flat once you’re in cyberspace — but to get there you need to go through a narrow passageway, down your phone line or down your TV cable. And if the companies controlling these passageways can behave like the robber barons of yore, levying whatever tolls they like on those who pass by, commerce suffers.

America’s Internet flourished in the dial-up era because federal regulators didn’t let that happen — they forced local phone companies to act as common carriers, allowing competing service providers to use their lines. Clinton administration officials, including Al Gore and Reed Hundt, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, tried to ensure that this open competition would continue — but the telecommunications giants sabotaged their efforts, while The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page ridiculed them as people with the minds of French bureaucrats.

I am a paradox—both initially shocked by the United States' role as follower, but yet not at all surprised that our country, especially under the Bush administration's "leadership" (or should I say "followship?") has fucked this up. The irony of the WSJ calling telecomm regulation the work of "French bureaucrats" is probably my favorite aspect of this column (purely looking at it as a writer).

Whoever becomes the next POTUS, please remember that government should be there to protect against humanity's less benign genetic instincts—vengeance, unabashed greed, unchecked power.

[Not that anyone cares, but, this entry does not mean that blog brownout has ended. Ther more personal stuff is still under review.]

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I'm not really planning to discontinue blogging; I'm too much the self-indulgent ego-maniac for that. But I am going to re-evaluate the blog—it's purpose, content and most importantly writing style after receiving some undesired, but trusted criticism, which was requested through an invitation.

Back soonish.

Btw, I've read Deathly Hallows after fretting ingloriously over being spoiled beforehand, but I shall respect the fans' cones of silence for another week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Muggle blog VIII -- in re: Shell's Muggle musings

Here are my responses to another diehards ideas (which are way more important than beliefs) ...

IF SNAPE IS GOOD ... how is the greater good served more by Dumbledore getting killed rather than Severus, which would have happened had Snape not honored the unbreakable vow? I am still debating very tightly whether Snape is bad. iIm still at about 55 percent bad. But I'm coming from a spot of 85 percent good. That's a big swing. And while Dumbledore is rarely wrong, he said himself that he has been wrong and because of his brilliance, when he's wrong the consequences are BIGTIME WRONG. I forget which book that's in, but I remember that distinctly.

And Snape has never exhibited any signs of love or even respect particularly for Dumbledore so if he was hating himself for what he had to do, it seems like Rowling failed as a writer to provide a single clue about that. Then again, the entire victories in Books 1 and 2 were not foreshadowed in the least.

But regardless, I feel like Severus' tale is the biggest loose end that had better be tied up save for the big stuff.

as for Horcruxes ...

1. Locket, which is in the hands or R.A.B. (could be destroyed). Is this Regulus Black? Could be.

2. Diary, destoryed

3. Hufflepuff cup (MIA). Given that this was a Pensieve memory seems for sure that this must come up again.

4. Nagini (alive and kicking). Wonder what special circumstances warranted Nagini's getting so honored? since Dumbledore conjectured that Voldemort's horcruxes were significant.

5. The Ring, destroyed. That's why Dumbledore's hand was fucked up.

6. ???? Seems like it's gotta be a longlong Ravenclaw object, since Godric Gryffindor's sword it's not.

Btw, Harry says at the end of six that he's going to head to Godric's Hollow, where his folks lived, right? That's also gotta be named for Godric Gryffindor, right?

Are we gonna learn that Harry is a Gryffindor heir? I don't think so. And the true story of the breakup of the original four? I hope so. What choices did they all make that led them to our current circumstances? Less likely.

And lastly, I would prefer Snape to be good ... but it seems like in writing these books evil needs someone else besides Voldemort to counterbalance how many protagonists and protagonists' assistants we have. And Draco clearly seemed too much the pussy to be the other evil, which to me is Rowling's biggest flaw with these books. Draco should have been a kick-ass villain who grounded some of Harry's and Ron's and Hermione's travails in a more relatable reality.

And finally finally, my Order of the Phoenix Death Pool ... two major characters are going to die. What are the parameters of major? And does that mean major, period, or major good guys?

My guesses (after having read 1-6) are one of Hagrid/McGonagall; a Weasley (not named Ron or Ginny or Bill). The book cannot start with Bill's wedding and include him in the funeral procession. Also, he's not particularly major. Remus I think lives b/c his life has already been so cursed. My saddest guess is Neville Longbottom, who dies incorrectly believing that the ultimate sacrifice is the only way he'll ever live up to his parents. I think Luna lives on as the sort of lighthouse keeper, even if it's for a rag. Btw, how amazing was Evanna Lynch as Luna? Brilliant.

My hopes ... Hermione comes back as the youngest professor ever. Harry semi-retires like Sydney Bristow in Alias and Ron reforms the ministry. Ron, I hope, has a huge role in the big plot this time. Hermione has Robined far more than Ron; it's she and Harry who turn time in Azkaban and she and Harry who lead Umbridge into the woods to get stomped by the Centaurs. Rupert Grint deserves more. At the beginning he was clearly the strongest actor of the big 3, and in the Phoenix movie he was marginalized.

And lastly, I am quite certain (and would wager at 100 percent) that Harry will not die. This is ultimately a brilliant, spectacular, wonderful child's tale. Evil cannot win in the end. It shall not be vanquished entirely, because Rowling is too smart to underestimate her readers like that. But the big bad will be defeated. And though in HBP, Dumbledore explains how the prophecy became a prophecy only because Voldemort made it so, I feel like now Harry is also choosing to make it so. And if one cannot live while the other survives, it seems like Harry has to triumph. But I just had a thought ... perhaps since CHOICE and being judged on actions not bloodlines and pre-destinies are HUGE THEMES the final reconciliation in this book will be Harry opting NOT to hunt Voldemort to the death. Perhaps as he found mercy for Pettigrew and spared his life, Harry will find a certain wisdom in not hunting to kill?

Hrm ...

Addendum at 12:42 a.m. My knees FUCKING hurt. I hate arthritis

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Never yet found a more important reason to blog

On May 15 I discovered the most important blog I've seen on any news organization's Web site: The Homicide Blog on In it, reporter Jill Leovy tries to chronicile every homicide in Los Angeles County. Sometimes it's just a name with a short description but often it includes at least some extra bio information and some reporting to provide context and a face of the fallen. It's incredibly sad but also moving.

The most recent entry might be the most heart-breaking, even though it's not about a murder victim. In this one, Leovy re-visits a story she wrote about Loved Ones of Homicide Victims—a non-profit that provides grief counseling services to families of murder victims. In a county with one of the highest murder rates in the world, I can't image many services or organiztions doing things more important, honorable or valued. The organization was struggling to keep its doors open because they couldn't attract funding.

Well, three years later the problems remain. Here's the first half of Leovy's entry; there's no way I could improve on her spare and powerful writing ...

n a city criticized for self-absorption, you might think that those who toil selflessly would be rewarded.

They aren't.

Consider the Rev. Ferroll Robins, above. She is the head of the nonprofit Loved Ones Victims Services, formerly Loved Ones of Homicide Victims, an organization that provides grief counseling for people whose family members are murdered in the Los Angeles area.

It's not a job for the weak. Ask any police officer, detective, trauma surgeon, or prosecutor in this city: Nothing is harder to deal with than grieving families of the murdered.

Families who scream when notified that their loved one has been killed. Families who remain mute through bewildering proceedings, politely offering thanks from behind blasted eyes. Families who call detectives for years on end asking about languished cases.

Loved Ones Victims Services focuses exclusively on this difficult work, an island for the grieving, an organization that wades into the messy aftermath of homicide when everyone else seems to want to look away. Among charities, Loved Ones is "the only one I know of" with this mandate, said Capt. James Craig of LAPD Southwest Division--the reason its link is on this site.

Fingerprint smudges inside Loved Ones' Culver City offices offer a clue of what such work is like: The paint is sullied by a parade of clients who have quite literally staggered in, bracing themselves on walls to avoid collapsing from grief.

Robins is the force behind Loved Ones. She stepped in in 1993 and eventually took over the organization. She has given much of her adult life to it, scrambling for funding year after year, always on the brink of closing.

For years, the group has struggled to get so much as a single, tiny, community-development block grant from the city of Los Angeles. The city freely doles out such grants to scores of arts organizations and service groups of all stripes. But not for homicide. Loved Ones went at least three years without a city grant before its recent move to Culver City.

The paragraph starting with the fingerprint smudges moved me the most. I've interviewed people who have lost relatives in car accidents, fires, to drunk drivers and murder victims. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. Period. It never got easier, though fortunately I got better at it. I learned to approach the victims' families more sensitively, to ask more thoughtful questions and be more respectful, but I never had to put myself on the line the way the people who work here do.

I hope that this post catches at least a few eyes and sparks people to do something.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Immigration discrimination against same-sex couples

I much prefer NOT cutting and pasting from other publications, namely newspapers, especially as the L.A. Times prepares to start selling ads on its front page to make more money. Newspapers need people going to their sites and subscribing to home delivery and I want to promote that. But at the same time, people need to KNOW things. And if I can help people learn of injustices then I'm going to break my defenses of copyrights. I know, to those of you whom I refuse to give music, I'm a hypocrite. But if someone stumbles upon this and writes a letter to a senator or congresswoman or congressman then this will be worth it.

At least the current editor imported from Chicago, James O'Shea, fought against imported Chicago publisher David Hiller's idea. Though of course he lost. Hiller and people in Chicago seem to think that a newspaper is nothing more than a physical environment for advertisements and that bylines are just getting in the way of Macy's ads. Newspapers CANNOT cut their way to profitability. I have very sadly considered discontinuing my L.A. Times subscription and just going with the New York Times, which has a FAR better Web site, nearly must-read Op-Ed columnists and lately more stories piquing my interest. Even the L.A. Times sports section, which blows away the NY Times, has been faltering lately. It's getting thinner and thinner and they couldn't hold onto local boy J.A. Adande.

But then the Los Angeles Times publishes an amazing story like this one by Teresa Watanabe—a story that shows how American society, the beacon liberty and freedom in the chaotic world of fear and terror, is really so far behind other countries in promoting civil rights and human decency.

I'd merely pass along the link, but people need to be able to read this for a long time. However, L.A. Times, if you find this and ask me to take it down, down it will go.

From the Los Angeles Times

Line in sand for same-sex couples

Unlike a heterosexual spouse, a gay U.S. citizen cannot sponsor his or her noncitizen partner for a green card.

By Teresa Watanabe
Times Staff Writer

July 16, 2007

The American and Australian met in London. They fell madly in love. They got together, got a dog, got a house near Venice Beach.

But there is no happy ending in sight for Tim Miller and Alistair McCartney. That's because the couple is gay, and U.S. immigration law does not allow the Whittier-born Miller to sponsor McCartney for a green card as heterosexuals cando for their husbands and wives. Federal law reserves immigration benefits for those with "valid marriages" to U.S. citizens, defining them as unions between a man and woman. It supersedes state laws that recognize civil unions or, in the case of Massachusetts, same-sex marriages.

Miller, a performance artist, and McCartney, a writer, are reluctantly contemplating moving to Britain as the clock runs out on the Australian's teaching visa at Antioch University. Miller would be forced to leave behind his family and friends, a thriving career and two art centers he began that, he said, has employed hundreds of people and generated millions of dollars in revenue.

"U.S. laws are creating pointless heartache for thousands of American citizens," Miller said.

The immigration difficulties faced by same-sex binational couples are explored in a documentary, "Through Thick and Thin," which is scheduled to premiere tonight at Outfest, the annual gay and lesbian film festival in Los Angeles.

It marks the gay community's latest effort to bring attention to the little-known issue, following a seven-year campaign for federal legislation that would bring the United States in line with at least 16 other countries and extend immigration benefits to same-sex binational couples.

New York filmmaker Sebastian Cordoba, an Argentina native, said he made the film as a "tribute to the couples who fought [the system] and stayed together." His own relationship with an American broke up in part, he said, because of constant stress over the uncertainty of his visa issues.

But their cause faces widespread opposition.

"It's one more area of trying to get privileges and benefits for relationships other than marriage," said Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "And marriage ought to be reserved for a man and a woman."

About 36,000 same-sex binational couples were recorded in the 2000 census, although researchers believe that figure could be undercounted by anywhere from 10% to 50%, according to an 2004 Urban Institute analysis conducted for Immigration Equality, a New York-based advocacy group for gays and lesbians.

The analysis by Gary J. Gates, now at UCLA's Williams Institute, showed that nearly one-third of the couples live in California, and that Mexico was the home country for the largest number of foreign partners, followed by Canada.

Same-sex binational couples say the legal restrictions cause them financial and emotional devastation. Some couples endure long-distance relationships, spending thousands of dollars on flights, phone calls and legal advice on how to obtain visas to reunite.

The problems don't end for those lucky enough to obtain a visa, however. Visas expire, and then what? Some foreign partners go underground and live in the United States illegally. Those who refuse to do so face a wrenching choice: Break up or leave the country.

Aaron Ashcraft, a 67-year-old retired auto executive, chose to leave Laguna Hills last November to live with his partner, Tomas Milian Peiro, 32, in Barcelona, Spain. Ashcraft came out eight years ago after his wife of 32 years died. He began a relationship with Milian Peiro, then a computer science student at Cal State Fullerton.

Ashcraft said he was livid when he learned that he could not sponsor his partner for a green card. Milian Peiro is a talented software engineer who could contribute to the nation, he said, and he himself had more than enough financial resources, including homes in Laguna Hills and Colorado, to ensure that his companion would never become a public charge.

Milian Peiro refused to stay in the United States illegally, Ashcraft said, and returned to Barcelona in 2004 without him. Heartbroken and miserable, Ashcraft said he decided to sell his homes, leave his family and friends, give up his charitable church and civic activities, and join him.

The experience has embittered him. The lifelong Republican said he would not vote for his party's candidates again since the leadership had failed to support gay immigration rights. Ashcraft also said he had soured on American idealism, saying that patriotic songs now "turn my stomach."

"When I hear the words about liberty and justice for all, I just say that's a complete fraud," he said. "They've singled us out and said we don't get the same rights as everyone else."

Rita Boyadjian, a Los Angeles entertainment marketing executive, is also facing hard choices. Her partner, who is seven months pregnant and asked for anonymity for fear of reprisals by immigration officials, is studying to be a chef in Santa Monica. But her student visa expires next year; unless she can get a work visa after that, the pair will have to move.

Boyadjian said she researched, at considerable expense, different legal ways for her partner to stay in the United States. None panned out. An investor visa requires her partner to put up her own money, not Boyadjian's. An H1-B work visa is difficult to obtain. Boyadjian's partner has turned down offers by men to fake a marriage because they don't want to skirt the law.

The pair has reluctantly decided to relocate to Canada, if necessary, with Boyadjian commuting weekly between there and Los Angeles. But Boyadjian said she resented the specter of having to spend so much time away from her family, possibly missing her baby's first steps and words. It will be costly, too, to pay for weekly flights and maintain two households and offices, she said.

"I'm angry that I'm a U.S. citizen, born in L.A., and I may have to leave my own country as a refugee," Boyadjian said, adding that her parents emigrated from Egypt in 1969 to escape persecution as Armenian Christians. "The whole thing has been a nightmare, quite honestly."

The couples themselves aren't the only ones who suffer. Families and friends do too. Some same-sex couples, forced to leave their home countries to stay together, must abandon aging parents, or siblings and friends in need. Cordoba's film, for instance, chronicles the life of one man agonized at the thought of leaving a disabled sister, whom he regularly visits.

"It's not pleasant feeling your children have been exiled," said Anne Throckmorton, a San Diego real estate broker whose son, John, had to move first to France and then to the United Kingdom to stay with his partner.

Throckmorton described herself as a born-again Christian who doesn't understand why secular laws on immigration should have anything to do with religious beliefs about homosexuality.

"Our sons and daughters are having their rights taken away from them, and I don't quite know what that's based on," she said. "This country believes in separation of church and state."

The battle over immigration rights for gays and lesbians has been fought in Congress and the courts for more than four decades. U.S. immigration law banned the entry of gays and lesbians in 1952, amid the Red Scare that linked homosexuals with Communists as subversive, according to a report on the same-sex immigration issue last year by Human Rights Watch and Immigration Equality.

The ban was repealed in 1990. But HIV-positive gays and lesbians are still barred from entry.

To turn the political tide, gay and lesbian activists and their friends have turned to lobbying, networking and greater public outreach on the issue.

The biggest push is in support of federal legislation by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to allow Americans in a same-sex relationship to sponsor their "permanent partners" for legal residency in the United States. The Uniting American Families Act, which was first introduced in 2000, would require that applicants be adults in "committed, intimate relationships" who intend a lifelong commitment to one another.

According to Nadler's office, at least 16 other countries grant immigration benefits to same-sex couples, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

In California, the San Francisco-based Out4Immigration advocacy group has focused on local advocacy. In 2004, the California Assembly and Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution supporting immigration benefits for same-sex binational couples.

The group also has joined broader immigrant-rights marches and held workshops on how to apply for different visas, said Doug Haxall, a board member.

The cause has yet to catch fire — the federal bill, for instance, has not managed to gain one committee hearing so far.

But activists say they will not give up.

"It's outrageous that U.S. citizens are forced to choose between their country and partner," said Chris Haiss, another Out4Immigration board member. "What's so threatening with people wanting to live here with their partners?"

Muggle blog VII

I just finished the sixth book and am caught up and indescribably awaiting the end of work Saturday.

Upon this second reading of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I am now leaning toward Snape being bad, maybe 60 percent. Ironically, Shelley and I agreed that Alan Rickman played Snape as good in Order of the Phoenix (at least I think this was a discussion I had with her, apologies if it was someone else), but to me he seemed bad in the book.

I go to the description of the look on Snape's face as he used the killing curse: "Snape gazed a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face."

After that Dumbledore says: "Severus ... please ..."

It's the words "revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines" that set me off. Rowling is a damend good writer with a great editor in this book, which I agree with many critics is the best purely written book. Words like "etched" as a verb are very powerful. Though I was once woefully ignorant of the painstaking efforts of great word selection, I get it now. If he's good why such "hatred?"

There were no mega reveals in this book and to me of all the books, this one perhaps had the least tidily concluded story arc. This book was very much a to be continued. But that's OK. When one finishes it a second time a week before the next book that works out.

It seems obvious that in Book 7 we've got to get the full accounting of why Dumbledore trusted Snape implicitly, even though no one else in the Order of the Phoenix knew (McGonagall notes that after Dumbledore dies). But add up how convincing he was in explaining to Bellatrix why he didn't "act sooner" plus his taking the unbreakable vow plus the description of the hatred and it seems like a tough one now to believe he's good. I was so sure before that he would be ultimately good, but now maybe 55 percent bad. Yeah, that's already 5 percent less than when I started this entry. And in Book 5 he's clearly a good guy it seems.

Oddly, I was not sad in the way I felt during parts of Azkaban, Goblet and Phoenix. No tears. But I think that's because Dumbledore's death was still shocking. Like I'm literally kind of numb inside. Wow.

More soon, because with Horcruxes, Snape's undiscovered past, Neville, the remaining professors, R.A.B., Godric's Hollow and what Harry might find there, Luna, the Weasleys and which might die, there remains much to discuss. It's funny how much a book can affect someone. I was ready to type in a snarky joke about the Weasley and which one might die, but like honestly I felt like it would be rude to be so callous toward such honorable people, even if they're fictional. And one more thing, how together will Ron and Hermione get?

Will Harry return to school? And what will Malfoy's fate ultimately be? It seems to me that Snape has a much better chance of being truly evil than Malfoy, who seemed exposed as something of a hack in this book. Perhaps Moaning Myrtle's confessional toilet chats with Malfoy will reveal something in Book 7?

Friday, July 13, 2007

I want to join the Order of the Phoenix

To David Yates, Michael Goldenberg, David Heyman, J.K. Rowling and the stupendous cast thank you all for making a damned great movie for any season, not just summer blockbuster season.

Real review coming this weekend.

Bad college re-live

I had matching luggage last night—the two biggest bags under my eyes since a ridiculous hangover while helping a friend film a movie in college. I forced myself to bed earlier. I hate growing older. DAMMIT!

This was a weak ass post, I know. But since installing the counter, I feel an obligation to post at least something new at least four to five times a week now. This weekend I should have real occassion to post as I'm off to see Harry Potter this evening! I cannot wait. I suspect that this will be the best movie thus far. The final 200 pages of Order of the Phoenix are a kick-ass action movie and then some great reveals. So this movie has plenty of great screenplay-ready-adaptable-material to work with.

On a quickie musical note ... I've been retro-izing lately listening to lots of HS and college stuff: Belly, The Cure and tonight some Black 47, Veruca Salt, Luscious Jackson, Auto-era R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs, Curve, The Sundays. That was some good shit and just think that MTV turned me on to most of those bands. What the hell happened?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Everything I need to know I learned from television

Know-it-all postman Cliff Claven was right: the secret of life is comfortable shoes. And after literally more than 12 years of yearning and searching I have finally found (more or less) found MY SHOES.

Back in the summer of 1994 (if memory serves) Converse produced a pair of low-cut Chuck Taylor All-Stars in a reddish-maroon made out of vinyl. I loved these shoes, but didn't quite feel comfortable enough in my own skin to be so bold as to buy them. (I hadn't seen Almost Famous yet, b/c the movie was about six years away.) When I got to college that fall semester someone did have them and they looked fab on her.

Owing, to what appeared to be tepid sales of these shoes, they were quickly discontined apparently permanently. I have regretted not buying them ever since. I've spent hours online looking, even e-mailing a guy who runs a site about the history of the shoe to see if he had any leads. Snake eyes.

But then just a few minutes ago, Google helped me roll the hard 6 ...

Now this isn't precisely the shoe from back in the day, which had a white star and even a white > shape in front of the star. But who cares? These are so close and in fact, I like them a little better with the off-white soles and the black star. I've lost several hours of sleep the past few nights trying to find great new shoes since I haven't whimsically bought shoes from desire in more than five years. That's a good thing in that it means I haven't been depressed. Shoe shopping in Albany was all about fixing a bad mood. But still ... it's THE NEW SHOES.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Re-pimping my job

Please watch! and pass it on and have them watch. Please. Please Please.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Muggle blog VI

I interrupt my right wrist injury to try to quiet the unnecessary "Save Harry" chanters who are publicly pleading that J.K. Rowling hasn't killed off the Boy Who Lived. I'm forced to wonder whether they really read The Order of the Phoenix. The big Prophecy clearly states that Harry and Voldemort will fight to the death.

Granted, prophecies needn't come true, especially given that one of the HUGE themes of the books has been choice. Harry choosing Gryffindor despite having many natural Slytherin tendencies and Hermione choosing Gryffindor over Ravenclaw despite being the cleverst witch her age. And of course Snape earning Dumbledore's absolute trust because Dumbledore judged him on his actions, not his House allegiance. So choice has seemed to trump everything else. In fact, the reason I didn't microblog Order of the Phoenix is because there didn't seem to be clues about the future, just bald statements, one being the Prophecy. One will kill the other. Period.

Granted, J.K. has shown no aversion to killing off beloved major characters, but I can't believe she would kill Harry. First off, the prophecy. Secondly, if the prophecy holds and Harry dies then evil wins, which she couldn't do. That's a choice seemingly no author could ultimately make. But if it's a sacrifice for others thing, well, I just can't foresee that. Harry does have a hero complex but I've never seen it as a sacrifice complex. He didn't fly to the Ministry of Magic to die trying to save Sirius. It was to save Sirius. He didn't enter the Chamber of Secrets to die saving Ginny, it was to save her. Harry, like so many in youth, acts as though he believes one can have his cake and eat it, too. There's nothing wrong with that.

In fact, I suspect that none of the big three (Harry, Ron, Hermione) will die, though it's been revealed that two major characters will die in Book 7. In the Buffy series finale it was only Anya who died in the fight against evil. In this case, it could be Ginny, Neville, McGonagall, Snape (in the ultimate proof of his goodness), a Weasley parent, Draco, Hagrid, Lupin, Moody. Granted some of those might not qualify as majors, but my guess is one of McGonagall/Hagrid /Snape will die. And then a Weasley or Neville. :(

Friday, July 06, 2007

Blog stats

Not to pimp myself too much because most of the visitors spent a second or less on the blog, but it's cool to see the "World" part of the Web.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday

My country turns 231 today, well sort of. Though we declared independence that many years ago, we didn't adopt the Constitution for another 10ish years. I should know but don't feel like looking it up right now. Blog going quiet for a few days, or at least until my wrist is healed.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Good and bad music news about the same artist/album

The good news: The amazingly talented Gemma Hayes says that she has finished her third album, according to her latest post on her MySpace blog. Yay! The Roads Don't Love You is one of my fave albums of the last few years. She's a dark melodist, strong lyricist and has a beautiful and different voice. She's not mainstream singer-songwriter or pop princess at all. But she creates fucking great music.

The bad news: She doesn't have a record label. This might not be bad news. Perhaps she bailed on her label because she wanted to. But at the same time, her blog post basically said that she's going to try shopping it around, but that she might release on her own. To me her being labelless is bad only because it means that idiots out there can't recognize talent. And that's a problem. The older I get the more attracted I am to talent, beauty and brilliance. And dammit, she nails all three in fact.

So please Gemma, we want that album!


More music tidbits:

You can see the video to a new Rilo Kiley song here. It comes at about nine minutes in. The song is called "Moneymaker." It's very different, but very cool. Dark and sexy as someone describe on a fansite thread.

And another discovery: Blair. She's more typically singer-songwriter, but she's strong. And she's so small and humble that she e-mailed me after I ordered her EP. At least it seemed like her Yahoo! account. There exist smarter people than I who might know how to configure auto e-mails upon a PayPal order, but I am going to assume it was her telling me about her Hotel Cafe show on Aug. 2, which I'm going to. Cool thing about her: her first EP is called "Pluto" in reference to controversy regarding that heavenly body's on-again, off-again planetary status.


Finally, more than halfway through (close to 2/3) Order of the Phoenix and nothing jumping out. But I know that this book backloads LOTS of stuff.