Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Last Thursday I saw Rilo Kiley at the Glass House in Pomona. The smallness of the venue was great and so was the high-energy sold out crowd. But what made this stand out most compared to the other three times I'd seen the band was the sound. Jenny Lewis's voice was better than I've ever heard it. The most beautiful indie girl next door in the world is one of those people who's sexy because she's wicked talented and seems so secure in who she is. And when her voice was ringing loudly, clearly and sadly well, it was hypnotizing.
The highlights would be Capturing Moods (an older song not played often), A Better Son/Daughter (ultra passionate), With Arms Outstretched (a small show in middle of nowhere Pomona brought out true fans so the singalong was great) and The Good That Won't Come Out (an even rarer oldie).
But for me the show got weird at the end. They closed with Portions for Foxes, one of the band's two rip-roaring rock songs (along with Spectacular Views which they ended up blending into). Portions led off the encore, which it had been at previous shows on this leg of the tour.
Luckily as the encore lead off some people had left so there was a little more room for fans to dance around. Some had even squeezed into newly created fan gaps, including two fans behind me.
As soon as Blake ripped into his guitar intro I felt limbs against my back. I figured of course that the personal space invader(s) would move back after realizing they struck me. But after about 20-30 more seconds of my back getting acquainted with these people's arms I take a small step forward. No biggie, I had the room. And they were clearly enjoying the show and/or each other. As I glance back they're sucking some pretty hard face while gyrating.
My step forward works though—they have room to dance and I have room to enjoy this very high-energy version of one of my favorite songs. I feel another brush of a hand or limb. And then another. These are brushes, so I ignore them. They grow more frequent and much more forceful when suddenly it's not a brush but a grab ...
of my ass.
And I mean grab. A full on grasping with digits applying pressure.
I hop (literally) forward a step filled with a mix of weirded out/confusion/and yeah a little "it felt good."
As I turn back I see that the girl has her back to me. Now the confusion overwhelms all other feelings. Obviously, she didn't grab me, because who reaches behind them when they're making out with someone? And so that leaves him. But who would get so confused while making out with someone that they'd reach the wrong way to grab a butt? I mean if someone is facing you and you're going for a butt squeeze you would turn your hands so that your palms face you, right?
To grab me, his hands had to be facing out!
My friend Amy had the best explanation ... the heart wants what the heart wants.
So beginning yesterday I am going on a diet, along with my friend Amy. We're dumping the Internet for at least two hours every night (unless work-related, like a freelance project or a deadline editing assigment. For instance, last night I flash checked my work email at 10 p.m. to make sure a student, who will be interviewing her principal later today, hadn't asked me questions about conducting the interview) once we're home. The starting period is 9 to 11 p.m. every night. This will likely mean a slight decrease in blogging, because I am also going to try my damndest not to cheat by writing blog posts in Pages and then cut and posting at 11:01 p.m.
I feel good about this. It's in line the clothing and material goods purge. As I was thinking about that today I realized that I'm going to go through my closets one more time to make sure I dumped the unnecessary clothing and that I still have to sort and toss the shit under my bed.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
What has me so encouraged is the newspaper staffs' comments:
Responding to [PTSA president] Tramiel's assertion students should have turned in the vandal -- who removed space-bar keys from library computers and littered the room with thousands of print-outs of Chairman Mao in January -- [Co-editor in chief] Blake said such an action would violate journalistic integrity.
"When a source comes to us in anonymity, they expect that we will keep them anonymous and if we don't that's ... kind of lying to the people who have trusted us. And secondly, it means in the future anonymous sources will be less likely to talk to us," he said.Of course in a glaring example of an adult underestimating a teen, here was the PTSA president's response.
Tramiel said students kept the vandal's identity secret to look cool.
"They wanted to be cool journalists more than they wanted to be responsible citizens, and I wanted to remind them of that responsibility," she said of her threat to cut funding.
It's a real shame when students are acting ethically and professionally and getting criticized for that. Any wonder why most adults don't have much credibility with teens? FFS.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Why do news organizations continue to write and report that Hillary Clinton won Texas? True she won the Texas primary, but Barack Obama won the caucuses and ended up with more pledged delegates overall, because his caucus winning margin was more than her primary winning margin.
On March 11, 2008, the following headline ran on CNN.com's Politicalticker blog:
"Caucus win gives Obama more Texas delegates than Clinton."
Yet today (April 23) at 1:21 p.m. CNN's Jack Cafferty posted on Politicalticker:
"Posted: 01:21 PM ET
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Barack Obama missed another chance last night to knock Hillary Clinton out of the race. He beat her in Iowa, she came back and won New Hampshire. He reeled off eleven wins in a row, she came back and won Ohio and Texas."
I am not accusing CNN of a pro-Clinton bias, but I am curious why CNN's own political blog would propogate this error.
Thank you for your time.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, said, "While American consumers are dealing with spiking fuel prices today, these costs would pale in comparison with those they would face if radical jihadists or the Iranian regime gained the upper hand in the Middle East."
So in the end we are in Iraq to ensure cheap oil prices for Americans?
And at what ulimate cost:
More than 4,000 American soldiers dead; Tens of thousands wounded and many ignored (see Walter Reed)
Likely several hundred thousand dead and infrastructure destroyed in a country that had NOTHING to do with 9/11
Near record-high gasoline prices in the United States
No nukes, chem or bio weapons found, but we gave billions of dollars to Pakistan, a country that is proliferating nukes in the world.
Near record budget deficits in our country
Deterioration of America's leadership in the world because though our appointed-by-the-President Attorney General equates
waterboarding with torture, we keep waterborading, er torturing.
Meanwhile, Bruce Springsteen endorses Barack Obama! Maybe that will help Barack remove the "elitist" tag. But as Jon Stewart said ... I want a President who is smarter, wiser and more experienced than me.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
The first was about the construction of the world's biggest and most powerful supercollider, which could potentially theoretically create a mini-blackhole some scientists fear could destroy the Earth, but more importantly lead to the discovery of the theoretical Higgs particle and answer a fundamental question about the origins of the universe.
I love this story because it's about something that literally could help explain one of the answers to the BIG QUESTIONS about the universe and existance. And the always amazing John Johnson of the Los Angeles Times wrote it. He does a great job of writing about science for the layperson, without offending the scientists (I would think).
And I love that the Los Angeles Times put this story on the front page. It's newsy, important, surprising, interesting, well-written, fun. Bravo!
New atom-smasher could fill gaps in scientific knowledge -- or open a black hole
April 13, 2008
"If it were just crackpots, we could wave them away," the physicist said in an interview at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym, CERN. "But some are real physicists."
At the peak, the hydrogen protons in the new collider will reach 99.9999991% of the speed of light. Each packet of protons will complete 11,245 laps around the collider every second and carry as much power as a speeding train.
The collider will consume as much energy as all the households in Geneva, running up an annual electric bill of $30 million.
The huge burst of energy in particle collisions becomes a kind of time machine, transporting scientists back to the first microseconds after the Big Bang.
The universe was only about 200 million miles wide, consisting of a viscous cloud of quarks and gluons floating in a searing plasma. As the universe expanded and cooled, the quarks combined to make protons and neutrons. The gluons held them together to form the nuclei of atoms.
Harvey Newman, a Caltech physicist who was one of the discoverers of the gluon and is leader of the U.S. contingent on the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, said the collider could theoretically produce a mini-black hole by packing a tremendous amount of energy into a tiny space.
But he said the black hole would pose no threat because it would last only 10-27 seconds before decaying -- hardly enough time to start gobbling up the French countryside.
Critics are not convinced. Just last month, Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho filed suit in U.S. District Court in Honolulu to block the start-up of the new collider until CERN produces a comprehensive safety report.
It's just as possible that the tiny black hole would be stable and start chewing up normal matter, he said.
It could take years for it to become large enough to gobble up the Earth, but there's no evidence that can't happen, he said.
"Before each new accelerator started, there has been some panic," he said. Wagner, in fact, filed suit in 1999 to stop Brookhaven National Laboratory's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in New York. It went ahead and the world survived -- just as it will this time, according to scientists from Mangano to Newman and Stephen Hawking.
"Look," Mangano said, leaning forward in his chair at CERN's sprawling complex, "what if I told you tomorrow when you shave you will blow up the world? You laugh. You say that can't happen. But how do you know?
"The only thing we know is that there have been about a million billion shaves since people started shaving and the world is still here," he said. "So all we can say is the probability of you blowing up the world when you shave tomorrow is less than one in 1015."
The other piece that had me thinking a lot was written by Anna Gorman, another Times all-star to me. It's about liver transplants and illegal immigrants. According to California law, the state will pay for transplants up until age 21 for illegal immigrants (and really anyone) and after that care is taken over by the counties. Most counties lack the funds (about $450,000 per transplant and then tens of thousands in follow-up care) to pay for transplants after that. But they provide meds and follow-up care.
However, if patients declare themselves as being in the country illegally they can get care, provided they show that they're not about to be deported. That's the gist.
With the state facing a nearly $5 billion budget deficit, how can we justify paying for medical expenses of people who are here illegally? Especially considering school budgets are getting slashed with parents being asked to donate to make up the difference, and transportation and other social services are getting cut, too.
But then again ...
Medical ethicists said doctors and hospitals have a duty to continue treatment for their transplant patients unless they can find them comparable care elsewhere.
"The worst ethical violation a physician can commit is abandonment," Arthur Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, wrote in an e-mail. "Physicians and institutions do have a duty to these patients once they transplanted them. . . . Insurance running out is no excuse for abandoning them."
Caplan said UCLA doctors were under no obligation to perform liver transplants on the illegal immigrant children knowing that their insurance would run out at 21 and that their livers would probably need to be replaced.
Wesley Ford, director of children's medical services for Los Angeles County, said his office works with patients before their 21st birthdays to make sure they are covered. But that is more difficult for illegal immigrants.
"It's not that we want to deny care to these kids," he said. "It's required by state law that we discontinue care at age 21."
I am not sure where I stand on this one. I think if faced with a sick patient in front of me I wouldn't have the hard-heartedness to turn that person away. At least I fucking hope not. But at the same time, to pretend that there aren't economic consequences that will become human-life-affecting consequences is ignorant.
It points to an acute need to start fixing immigration and international economic policy yesterday. In the meantime, do no harm, right?
Friday, April 11, 2008
So this morning as I counted down to the Radiohead ticket sale, I got a pit in my stomach (even though today was just a limited-availability presale and I'd have tomorrow's general sale as a backup). Careful planning with Amy meant that we'd each have a high-speed Internet connection and a KROQ password so that we could each try to score a pair. I was going for the 8.24 show, she was going for 8.25 so we wouldn't be competing against each other.
I went to the Ticketbastard website around 9:52 a.m. (for a 10 a.m. ticket release on the KROQ pre-sale). I logged into my account around 9:58 a.m. Then I changed it up—rather than an endless clicks of the "reload" button, I pressed "back" to leave the individual show page and go back to the Radiohead listings page. This took a little longer than reload so I did this only about 30 times instead of 75.
At 9:59 nothing. Apparenlty my computer's clock wasn't slower than Ticketbastard's. 10 a.m. still nothing. Apparently my computer's clock is faster than Ticketbastard's. 10 a.m. and several second ... BINGO! I fly through selecting the seats I want and then ...
... Processing ... This should take less than five minutes ... Processing ...
Less than five minutes becomes less than two minutes in about 1 minute. But then less than two minutes takes another 2 minutes to become less than 1 minute, which seems to have stopped time ...
Processing ... This should take less than one minute ... Processing ... Hitting "back" or "reload" will make you lose your place in line ... Processing ... This should take ... Processing ...
I am thinking only about how at least I have tomorrow, at least I have tomorrow when ...
The buy your tickets page comes up! Yay! And long story, longish, I get two tix, which is doublebubble good because Amy comes up snake eyes. When I IM her that we scored she says that she's still "Processing ..."
But now I'm faced with a bit of an ethical dilemma. (For some bizzaro reason I read that in a cockney accent I was typing it and it was quite a jolly good time, try it.) Should I go for another pair tomorrow? The I-work-at-a-non-profit-and-live-in-debt part of me says hell yeah. While the true music fan in me is conflicted. Clearly, if I score them some other fan might not. Duh. But perhaps if I score them I could be really ethical and sell them for virtually face value to a true fan thereby ensuring a broker doesn't squeeze the little guy/gal. Hmmmmm.
I feel like having majored in philosophy hasn't prepared me for this. This is what happens when the senior level ethics professor takes a sabbatical during your senior year.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I suck. I am the bad chicken.
Monday, April 07, 2008
So far today ...
Seven t-shirts (all at least large and several extra large). One pair of jeans. One pair of dress pants. One long-sleeve t-shirt. One button down shirt. And that was the quick beginning. All the clothes are headed to Goodwill.
I just pulled three more CDs, to go with the 11 I have already allocated for getting rid of. The best thing with these is that I can rip the songs I want into my iTunes library and get rid of the hardware. Speaking of that I need to add to the three. I just added nine more. The comprehensive list:
The Tragically Hip: Up to Here -- Love these guys. But I've owned this for years and listened to it once? I have lots of others by them that I listen to more.
The Thrills: So Much for the City -- Liked this. Robert Hilbun, legendary LATimes pop music critic really pushed it. But never really took off for me.
Best of the Thompson Twins -- I'll iTunes "Hold Me Now" and "Doctor, Doctor."
Britney Spears: Oops! and Baby One More Time -- I'll iTunes the singles. But there is some real filler crap, just like most pop CDs.
Sarah McLachlan: Remixed -- I love Sarah and have since she was 19 and no one had heard of her and long before she became lite rock. This remix album is weak. I'm not huge into remixes. My old default position of owning everything by an act I love is coming to a close.
Isobell Campbell and Mark Lanegan: Ballad of the Broken Seas -- I expected lots more from the former Belle and Sebastian singer collaborating with Screaming Trees guy. Kinda boring.
Dramarama: Cinema Verite -- A landmark band. "Anything, Anything" is one of the best songs ever. The rest of this album isn't that memorable to me. I'll iTunes it though.
Indigo Girls: Come On Now Social -- Love the Indigo Girls. This one didn't resonate. Not the really memorably melodies.
My Brightest Diamond: Bring Me the Workhorse -- Pitchfork really liked. Sufjan had her open. Another album lacking in memorable melody and kinda bored me.
Tennis: Laundromat -- This was sent to us for free. It was less bad than the usual. I took that as me liking it.
Melissa Ferrick: Massive Blur -- Bought this in college when I listened to anything recorded by a woman sending off an alt-rock vibe. This is bad chicken though.
Sadly, I am dumping only one DVD. Spider-Man Deluxe Edition.
The rest of today's efforts will include going through boxes in my closet and under my bed. Today I am dumping the clothes at Goodwill and archiving on iTunes. The media get resold at Amoeba on 4.19, which is national record store day.
Nationwide, there are more colleges offering undergraduate philosophy programs today than a decade ago (817, up from 765), according to the College Board. Some schools with established programs like Texas A&M, Notre Dame, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, now have twice as many philosophy majors as they did in the 1990s.
David E. Schrader, executive director of the American Philosophical Association, a professional organization with 11,000 members, said that in an era in which people change careers frequently, philosophy makes sense. “It’s a major that helps them become quick learners and gives them strong skills in writing, analysis and critical thinking,” he said.As a philosophy major, I remember feeling so esoteric compared to my college friends—most of whom were music education majors. I had zero friends in the philosophy department, largely my own fault, and yet the dean of the College of Fine Arts recognized my face.
I am honestly encouraged by this story (and thank you NYTimes for having legit research to back up your this-is-a-trend trend story). The pursuit of a sharp mind and the exercise of analyizing one's analysis, considering the role of purpose, the importance of intent, the ethics of even having ethics ... that makes existence more meaningful.
I am indebted to my 10th grade social studies teacher, John Marvin, who had his honors class study philosophy. I wrote a report on George Berkeley, one of the three empiricists along with John Locke and David Hume (incidentally, Berkeley, pronounced like Sir Charles, not the lib school in NorCal, is the only not a character on Lost). I didn't do particularly well (like a B maybe B-), but I loved it. For once the notion of questioning the fundamentals of daily assumptions, like how do I know I exist and that I am acquiring knowledge through experience and what does that acquisition tell me about the nature of the universe, was encouraged. And being allowed to question those things was like permission to question everything.
Probably a huge influence on my becoming a reporter ultimately and a passionate believer in the First Amendment guarantee of Free Speech. It's really very chaos theory. Marvin was the butterfly flapping his wings in China. I am the rain on the plain in Spain.
It's funny though, there's one part of this story that I disagree with. At the end ...
Jenna Schaal-O’Connor, a 20-year-old sophomore who is majoring in cognitive science and linguistics, said philosophy had other perks. She said she found many male philosophy majors interesting and sensitive.
“That whole deep existential torment,” she said. “It’s good for getting girlfriends.”Yeah, that didn't happen so much. At least not at Arizona.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
"Don't puke on me, puke in the aisle."
I had the extreme misfortune of getting stuck next to that girl at the Cat Power's near sold-out show a couple months ago.
Curtis and I had tickets in the reserved seating section, which is upstairs at the Wiltern. I was pretty psyched because I'm old and honestly, I don't love standing anymore. And since this was Cat Power (smokey-loungey vocals with a folkish-jazzy vibe), standing didn't seem necessary either. As we made our way to our seats we noticed that the space between the rows (barely any) indicated the age of beautiful art deco building at Wilshire and Western. (Wil-tern, get it?) We wedged ourselves into our seats and were chilling through the opener.
Noting that the show was virtually sold out, I suggested moving to our actual seats for Cat Power's performance. Our seats were third (me) and fourth (Curtis) from the aisle. I'm sitting next to a very young looking (at this point in my life that means 21) girl and her boyfriend. They're crushing snacks, including Doritos and thus harboring Nacho Cheese Dorito breath and M&M's, and also drinks. She's not only young, she's tiny. At one point, boyfriend brings back something green.
"It's an alien secretion," he tells his obviously alcohol-inexperienced girlfriend. I had one on my 21st birthday. Her lack of knowledge of this very sweety, young kids' drink has me wondering whether she's even 21. She downs hers pretty quickly. This followed a beer and a previous mixed drink or so. They were there before us, so who knows what they had earlier. May I also point out that drinks at the Wiltern are like $8 minimum.
Fast forward to Cat's performance. In a word, "fab." My only wish was that they vocals had been turned up a little more—smokey-voiced vocals can get lost in large theaters. She's great though, interacting with the audience, doing goofy dances; she's nothing like her alcoholic days when her performances were often bizarre, bad or abbreviated. Curtis and I are digging, especially when she took a song like "New York, New York" and totally reworked it melodically and rhythmically.
The girl next to us (and guy when he was there) were also digging the show. She clapped loudly, whooped a few times and did a little sitting-in-her-seat-dancing/squirming. She even came close to kicking the patrons in front of her and me, too, but no contact.
Then about 35 minutes into the show it was undersized alcohol near-virgin meet falling-off-the-cliff. Suddenly she's sticking her head between her knees, doubled over in her seat. There's a faint moaning coming from my left. I know this moan. I've done this moan. Perhaps even in public at a Denny's in college post-some-party. But not an event held in a gorgeous building that cost me $30.
Though I want to listen to the show my attention has been diverted by a combination or morbid curiosity and fear of vomitous-contamination. And of course, BF is nowhere to be seen. He's probably on one of his smoking breaks?
After a few minutes of quiet moaning, she mostly seems to be hanging on, things turn. The shoulders start shuddering and her upper body/neck/head start lurching forward in syncopated jerks. Weird coughing-esque sounds ... what do we have? ... the dry heaves!!! Trouble. Because unless you're me in college, the dry heaves almost always lead to puking.
After a few minutes of dry heaves, I can hear something different. Oddly, despite being at a concert, my ears became quite attuned to what was happening. Those wondering why I didn't go for help, I couldn't. We were wedged into these seats with no escape. Believe me, I wanted to get out of this precarious situation.
The coughing sounds "richer" somehow, like it's coughed with air with solid matter. Double trouble.
Then it's SMELL TIME. Nacho Cheese Doritos + Chocolate M&M's + vomit = double bubble trouble and puts me officially on the "will I puke?" clock. And the worst part, my watch says that the show is about 50 minutes old, which means probably a good 45 minutes left of being trapped next to vomitgirl. I decide that I'm becoming Curtis's new best friend and using as little of my chair's left side as possible. And I also decide to start breathing through my mouth with my hand cupped over it.
Meanwhile, her fall off the cliff continues. She's now sorta flailing a little, trying to contort herself into a position in which she won't feel as nauseous or headachey or both, perhaps? She at one point has her head resting on the arm rest between her chair and her BF's. She's still moaning and coughing sporadically, btw. Eventually BF returns.
And here's the real kicker. HE DOESN'T TAKE HER AWAY. Insider a chorus of "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING MEs" are singing. He puts his arm around her trying to comfort her. The guy in front of them starts sorta explaining what had been happening, but I can't hear a thing. Guy in front's GF has now assumed a permanent extreme forward lean position to avoid any vomitous contamination.
Nevertheless, the worst appears over. He's got his arm around her as she assumes the trying-to-be-perfectly-still position. Then ...
"uhhhhhh." shouldershudder/cough. cough. shoulder shudder.
"Don't puke on me, puke in the aisle," he says, as if him not being puked on will make this a good show.
I've been farted on at shows (and had the perps (girls) laugh about it), surrounded by drunken idiots who can't sing but are dying to profess their fandom through yelling and dancing, watched a near fight break out over seat-stealing, but this is by far the worst.
At this point, there's a weird gestural conversation happening between the BF of the puker and people in front. There's an inordinate amount of shrugging from everybody. And for some reason, no one on the aisles is getting up!! WTF?
Eventually, the main set ends and the BF disappears. Cat Power now plays "The Greatest," which is one of my favorite songs of the past few years. I don't enjoy it, though. :( I'm sitting on about 40 percent of my seat and with a and soaked in exhaled moisture.
The encore ends and the BF is nowhere to be seen. I start talking to the guy in front and now that the houselights are on I can see that the BF's velvet seat is COVERED in non-red liquid.
"Dude, he was sitting in it the whole time!" I note to guy in front of us. Not wanting to waste the money and so refusing to help my girlfriend, as insensitive and inhumane as that was, I can at least comprehend. But I don't know you sit with a puke-soaked ass for a half hour. HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW DOES THAT FUCKING HAPPEN?
Guy in front gets up and he and his friends leave the aisle. Curtis and I avail ourselves of the first exit opening since this began and hop a row down and also exit. As people are filing out, I am thinking about getting an usher as soon as were to the doors that lead back to the upstairs lobby, when finally BF appears.
We leave having been witness to what was for 45 minutes a great performance and was probably in reality a 90-minute great performance. But also the worst show of my life.
Sorry, Cat Power.