Friday, June 27, 2008
According to the ruling, schools and government buildings can remain gun-free zones. And states can limit a person's ability to carry a concealed weapon. That's good, right? But nevertheless, this is bad chicken for our nation's capital which has rampant poverty and violence.
Where were the conservatives decrying the Supreme's legislating from the bench? Where were the cries of judicial activism to advance ideology? So it's damned important that we make sure the government does not encroach on our ability to own a lethal weapon. But it's fine for the government to monitor my library records, phone calls without a warrant, create watch lists, imprison people without charging them for years in horrible conditions, send them on special planes to Kazakhstan and other places to be knowingly tortured thus absolving ourselves of a dirty conscience. For fuck's sake.
This Op-Ed by UC Irvine law school dean Erwin Chereminsky says it far more eloquently.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Now Sonny Landham, who played Billy in Predator, is running for a U.S. Senate seat in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I don't know what it is about that movie, but politicians were born, dammit. The guy who the producers couldn't get insurance for during filming of Predator is running as the Libertarian Party candidate. I learned today that he also starred in porn in the 70s. Wow. I don't even know what to say.
I remember watching this movie in the back of my friend Jeremy's family's conversion van when we used to go out during high school. I never imagined that this really fun, well-executed, yet mindless action flick would produce such gravitas.
So with all that pedigree it seems a very appropriate time to post this ...
Monday, June 23, 2008
In a moment of oldness, I realized that I prefer small clubs when they're not sold out, because that means I can see better, won't be as hot, and won't have my personal space violated. I am OLD.
During our grad school reunion I was a little stupid and forgot to bring my digital camera to the coyote ugly-lite, bull-riding bar, so I shot Zapruder footage on my cell phone. And while we were scamming around Newhouse III (complete with sponsored conversation areas) I also found myself good-cameraless. So again, cell phone cam to the rescue.
Afterward, of course, I wanted to send these photos and the bull-riding video to my friends who also attended the reunion. This meant signing up for Sprint's data-sharing type service, which is like $5 a month beyond my normal service. I authorize this through my phone and then proceed to email myself the video and the pictures.
I opened my cell phone bill yesterday. Usually it's about $50 a month (with taxes), this time it was ...
I was charged per 3 KB of data that I transmitted. In the end, that meant $74+ in data plan fees. I am not angry at Sprint because I feel as though I were deceived or misled. I failed to do the research on the data plan I activated. I see this whole episode more as a case of me not being meant for data plans. Or iPhones, which Dave was pushing me (his token Macphile friend) to buy today.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I felt very sad during many songs. There has been buzz going around the Net that this could be the LAST Rilo Kiley show. Honestly, I don't believe that at all. I think that there will be a large gap (three years) before the next record as the band members work on side projects/solo careers and let RK-specific juices recharge and bubble.
Evidence: Blake Sennett's band The Elected is working on a new album, Jenny is done recording her second solo album, Pierre just released one and even Jason is off playing in Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band this summer. In interviews they've said that Under The Blacklight took a while because they weren't going to release a record until they had what they considered a damn good record. I would pray that they continue to hold themselves to that standard (whether UTB meets it in fans' eyes is another argument. In the end I give it a B).
But during the show, the emotionality of music outweighed my logic. Jenny seemed super emotional. During "I Never" she stared right at Blake when she sang "and been ungrateful for what I had" and when she sings "I never loved somebody else the way that I loved you" it was like rip-your-heart-out sad. After finishing that lyric she was playing the keyboards and then she bent over so none of us could see her face. She stayed bent at the waist for about 10 seconds. I honestly wondered whether she was crying.
During "The Absence of God" Jenny Lewis just poured her heart into "And Blake I'll teach you how to swim, if you turn the bad in me into good again." It was like literally breaking my heart practically. Was she apologizing for her solo experiments? Fights?
And when they played "Pictures of Success" she changed the lyric from "we have never been back there since then" to "we will never be back here again."
Of course this could be RK having some fun with us, knowing that the fans who read the boards obsess over the rumors of breakups and hiatuses (which honestly is all I really think is coming up). And during many points in the show she and each member of the band seemed really happy. But this was also the least chatty with the audience and each other that I've ever seen them--and this was my fifth show of theirs.
Jenny also left the stage first during the encore, a full few minutes before the guys. And just before she left she said "Nice knowing ya."
I never been so emotionally moved by a show, granted much of that could have been me reading into the situation things that weren't there, but still.
But if that's ultimately how they go out (and I don't expect it to be so) then damn, that was the most emotional concert I've ever been to.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Amy and I were talking recently about the power of the mixtape and how it's a fave gift to give and get. I hope that never changes. I've been thinking lately that gift clusters of a book, mixCD, movie and drink recipe or microbrew would be the best gifts ever (maybe along with an action figure, too).
Anyway, here's the mixCD (technically three) that I made with some remarks about why each song was chosen:
“The Bleeding Heart Show” -- The New Pornographers, Live from Soho -- At 2:44 it becomes obvious why this song would lead off a playlist. It’s the soundtrack to every bold step taken down the path of future uncertainty.
“From A Million Miles” -- Single Gun Theory, Like Stars In My Hands ... -- A fave song from high school and one of the first songs I loved that out-obscured EVERYONE. Thank you CFNY (the alternative radio station in Toronto).
“More Than This” -- Roxy Musc, Avalon -- Classic new wave that has influenced just about every newer band that I like now.
“Sons & Daughters” -- The Decemberists, The Crane Wife -- (Cinnamon + aluminum) in one song = optimism.
“85” -- Rilo Kiley, The Initial Friend (EP) -- The saddest song ever written?
“Feed The Tree” -- Belly, Star -- Another high school fave. I fell in love with Tanya Donelly and it’s criminal that she and her band aren’t considered one of the ALL-TIME bands of the 90s, because this album could only be made by one of the all-time bands of the 90s.
“Express Yourself” -- Madonna, The Immaculate Collection -- One of the first pop songs I could admit to loving when it was totally uncool to love pop music.
“Little Bones” -- The Tragically Hip, Road Apples -- Aggressive rock from Canada, too bad this band has since gone soft. Not many better songs to play at a large party; no one will know it, but I think everyone will like it.
“Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” U2, Zooropa -- A song that gets better with the video. Go watch Wings of Desire right now.
“A Million Tears” -- Kasey Chambers, Barricades & Brickwalls -- OK, a rival for “85” in the saddest song ever territory. I think Kasey’s girlish voice makes this lament even more melancholy.
“When Smokey Sings” -- ABC, The Best of ABC -- I hope I’ll never not be a sucker for catchy British pop music.
“Short Skirt/Long Jacket” -- Cake, Comfort Eagle -- Not just a hilarious song, but incredibly well-constructed. The video was shot in Venice to boot and is the funniest music video EVER.
“Spin The Bottle” -- The Juliana Hatfield Three, Become What You Are -- MTV used to show videos and when it did there was a show called Alternative Nation. This video was on a lot. It was a good time to love both music and MTV.
“1979” -- Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness -- I wonder if the 70s captured the 70s so well.
“The Drinking Song” -- Moxy Fruvous, Live Noise -- I fell in love with these guys because of CFNY. A way better Barenaked Ladies. The highests and lowests of drinking. Recorded in Buffalo!
“Let’s Get Out Of This Country” -- Camera Obscura, Let’s Get Out Of This Country -- High school is over!
“Drawn To The Rhythm” -- Sarah McLachlan, Solace -- More Canada. I used to watch this show called Good Rockin’ Tonight late night on weekends. That’s where I discovered Sarah McLachlan. Before she became queen of easy-listening she made really interesting and insightful music about youth pondering its future.
“Here's Where The Story Ends” -- The Sundays, Reading, Writing And Arithmetic -- Alternative Nation again. A band that never received near the acclaim that it should have. If you can cite these guys then you’ll forever have cred with people born in 1975.
“Me & Bobby McGee” -- Janis Joplin, Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits -- A tip to history. I have a weakness for the Lilith Fair days. There’d be none obviously without Janis. I know she didn’t write the song, but from anyone else one of the wisest lyrics ever doesn’t sell. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
“Why Can't I Be You?” -- The Cure, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me -- The band probably most responsible for taking me from hair metal/metal to where I am right now musically.
“Work It in Black” -- Nelly w/ Justin Timberlake // AC/DC -- My favorite mashup ever.
“Keep Me Here” -- Gemma Hayes, The Roads Don't Love You -- The Irish section of the playlist starts now. She’s one of the most aesthetically beautiful people I’ve ever seen in person. The way she sings about love and heartbreak (and what else is rock n roll for?) proves that her music is even better than she is beautiful.
“The Minstrel Boy” -- The Corrs, Forgiven, Not Forgotten -- Traditional folk song. War doesn’t create heroes only sad memories.
“Cannonball” -- Damien Rice, O -- Still being Irish, which means deep depths of sadness and an indomitable spirit to endure.
“Fanatic Heart” -- Black 47, Fire Of Freedom -- This band’s revolutionary ideals and Irish-infused rock and fusion is pure passion. Another discovery thanks to Alternative Nation.
“Bad” -- U2, Wide Awake In America [Live] [EP] -- I can’t imagine how a band can write so many songs that could compete for my favorite-song-by-that-band. This one’s about heroin addiction.
“Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” -- Broken Social Scene, You Forgot It in People -- I wish this song had been written when I was in high school.
“Worn Me Down (EP)” -- Rachael Yamagata, EP -- Along with Rilo Kiley and Stars one of my three favorite musical discoveries since moving to Los Angeles. Her smokey-voice captures the hurt better than anything.
“If She Knew What She Wants” -- The Bangles, Greatest Hits -- 80s pop song. Nuff said?
“Acid Tongue” -- Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins, Live at the 9:30 Club 10.15.06 -- My favorite Jenny Lewis song. I am praying that it’s on the second album.
“Born Of Frustration” -- James, Seven -- The band is most famous for its song “Laid,” which is incredible, but this one’s better.
“Would?” -- Alice In Chains, Dirt -- One of my 10 favorite songs in high school. I spent hours driving the roads of Amherst, NY to this song with my best friend in his mom’s Plymouth Sundance.
“I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” -- Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot -- I didn’t “get” Wilco the first few times I listened to them. Then I did. I hope everyone does someday.
“Symphony No. 1 (In Memoriam, Dresden, 1945)” -- Dan Bukvich, Univesity of Idaho Wind Ensemble -- War doesn’t create heroes. It reminds us only of the worst of what humanity is capable of. The German words being shouted mean “smoke,” ”fire tower,” “fire” and “help.”
“The Last Song” -- Elton John, The One -- This song plays over the closing credits of And the Band Played On ... (which is about the rise of the AIDS crisis in America). It’s the saddest and most redeeming song I’ve ever heard.
“The Scientist” -- Coldplay, A Rush Of Blood To The Head -- If the band wrote songs only like this, they wouldn’t be ridiculed by the music snobs. One of the most intelligent songs I’ve ever heard.
“Favorite” -- Neko Case, Canadian Amp -- Is there a better voice in any genre recording today? I think she loves being a little obscure. I think I love her for that.
“Political” -- Spirit Of The West, Labour Day -- Another gift from CFNY and Canada (this time Vancouver).
“Frozen” -- Curve, Pubic Fruit -- Dreamy and optimistic in its electro-muddiness. Another thanks to Alternative Nation.
“Mascara” -- Killing Heidi, Reflector -- Albany, NY did get one decent radio station, WEQX from Vermont. These kids from Australia are finished as a band, but I still heart this song.
“Elevator Love Letter” -- Stars, Heart -- The soundtrack to urban love. I could listen to this song 1,000,000 times and still love it like the first.
“Samson” -- Regina Spektor, Songs -- I’ve seen her evolve from stage-timid and shocked people knew her songs to leading sing alongs. Yet she still seems amazingly sweet on stage and this song is all sadness and regret, which makes it great.
“Poison Oak” -- Bright Eyes, I'm Wide Awake It's Morning -- Today this was my favorite song from this perfect album. I wish I felt every emotion as Conor Oberst does on this album. Then again we’d probably have life spans measured in days if our lives were felt this intensely.
“Edge of a Broken Heart” -- Bon Jovi, 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong -- This is sincerely my fave Bon Jovi song ever, more than Wanted and Livin on a Prayer.
“Love U More” -- Sunscreem, 03 -- This song was MTV’s bringing techno to the suburban kid masses in 1992-3. I would play this at my wedding right now.
“Such Great Heights” -- The Postal Service, Such Great Heights - EP -- A perfect song? ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY.
“Pictures Of Success” -- Rilo Kiley, Take Offs & Landings -- My favorite song ever.
“The Boy With The Arab Strap” -- Belle & Sebastian, The Boy With The Arab Strap -- Them ending their Hollywood Bowl show with this is one of my fave concert moments ever, so it seems a fitting end to this mix.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
In the meantime, I re-post this, since it's been removed from YouTube and even my old blog post apparently.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
"Although we weren't able to shatter this highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before," she said.
"It is this belief and optimism that Sen. Obama and I share," Clinton said. "That has inspired so many millions of supporters to make their voices heard. So today, I am standing with Sen. Obama to say, 'Yes, we can.'"The policy differences between the two candidates save for the gas tax holiday weren't that stark. Even health care was similar, though I honestly favored Hil-Rod's plan more because it was a little less far from the socialist plan that I favor. I supported Obama more because he inspired me. This Hillary might have inspired me.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Popular physicist Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe, wrote an Op-Ed in the June 1 edition of The New York Times extolling not just the importance of science in education and in people's lives, but more importantly it was an Op-Ed that tried to spark the joy of discovery that lies at the root of inquiry, which is the genesis of science, period. Sadly, it seems that only the Gray Lady would publish something like this.
But I digress, allow him to explain (at least in part) ...
... And when we look at the wealth of opportunities hovering on the horizon — stem cells, genomic sequencing, personalized medicine, longevity research, nanoscience, brain-machine interface, quantum computers, space technology — we realize how crucial it is to cultivate a general public that can engage with scientific issues; there’s simply no other way that as a society we will be prepared to make informed decisions on a range of issues that will shape the future.
These are the standard — and enormously important — reasons many would give in explaining why science matters.
But here’s the thing. The reason science really matters runs deeper still. Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that’s precise, predictive and reliable — a transformation, for those lucky enough to experience it, that is empowering and emotional. To be able to think through and grasp explanations — for everything from why the sky is blue to how life formed on earth — not because they are declared dogma but rather because they reveal patterns confirmed by experiment and observation, is one of the most precious of human experiences.
As a practicing scientist, I know this from my own work and study. But I also know that you don’t have to be a scientist for science to be transformative. I’ve seen children’s eyes light up as I’ve told them about black holes and the Big Bang. I’ve spoken with high school dropouts who’ve stumbled on popular science books about the human genome project, and then returned to school with newfound purpose. And in that letter from Iraq, the soldier told me how learning about relativity and quantum physics in the dusty and dangerous environs of greater Baghdad kept him going because it revealed a deeper reality of which we’re all a part. ...
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------The other piece I read that made me fall in love with newspapers again was very different in tone, yet just as interesting. Julia Feldmeier writes in Sunday's Washington Post about "The Friend Zone," the place that has trapped millions of people in human history, the place in which personA in a friendship like-likes personB, but personB views personA as "just a friend."
Because I'm worried that the article will be taken down soon ... I post it here (but if anyone from WashingtonPost.com asks me to take this down, I will immediately).
Can a Platonic Relationship Turn Passionate? And if It Could, Would You Want It To?
By Julia Feldmeier
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 1, 2008; N01
My best guy friend is sitting across from me as I type this, playing footsie with me under the table. We've been friends for 10 years, since college, and we've grown closer with age. We can talk for hours about things big and small; we can also sit comfortably in silence. He makes me laugh, always, but has sincere words when I need a lift.
It's the perfect relationship. Except, of course, for when we split ways and I go home, try to mentally decode the meaning of footsie and then turn to my roommate or my sister or anyone who'll listen and say, "UGH! WE'RE SO PERFECT TOGETHER, WHY AREN'T WE DATING?!" And other sane things like that.
Pop culture abounds with examples of friends who've navigated (or attempted to navigate) the path to romance. Think "Friends," in which Monica and Chandler get together. And "Little Women," when Laurie longs for childhood pal Jo March. Or, most famously, "When Harry Met Sally . . .," which explores the muddy waters of sexual tension to determine if, in fact, men and women can be friends.
So let's start with that controversial question: Can men and women be friends? I mean, can they really be just friends? Okay, yeah. Yes. And yet:
"All friendships, even same-sex ones, have ambiguous and changing boundaries," says Linda Sapadin, a clinical psychologist and author of "Now I Get It! Totally Sensational Advice for Living and Loving" (Outskirts Press, 2006). "You may think somebody's a best friend, and they just consider you a casual friend. How it's perceived is not always the same."
In other words: Your perspective can shift. Suddenly you see a friend as desirable, but he or she still sees you as only a friend. Which leaves you with two choices, Sapadin says: You can try to change it to a romantic relationship. Or you can learn to live with it so that there's flirtatious banter -- footsie, anyone? -- but nothing else.
It's sexual attraction without acting on it. And the primary reason many of us don't act is fear: the worry that if our friend rebuffs us or the move from platonic to romantic fails, the friendship is irrecoverable.
Such was the outcome for Amy Ewen. She and her co-worker Peter were close friends -- the kind who prompt others to say, "Oh, you guys should be dating." But they never did until just before Peter left to spend a year traveling in Asia, when they enjoyed a whirlwind romance. The day after Peter departed, he sent Ewen a dozen roses.
"I was so happy, but it was really bittersweet because he was leaving," Ewen says. Her expectations were realistic, she says (she wasn't expecting them to stay together long distance), but they split with the assumption that there would be something on the other side: a continuation of their friendship.
Ewen, inspired by Peter, left her job to travel, too. When she returned after five months in New Zealand, where she'd met someone else, Peter was back as well, and she wanted to reconnect with him as a friend. He never returned her phone calls.
When she finally ran into him one evening in Adams Morgan, he was standoffish. He shook her hand as though they were business acquaintances and then blurted out that he wasn't in love with her.
"I was remembering how things were when we were good friends," Ewen says. "He thought I was thinking about being his girlfriend. It's sort of a shame, because we got along so well."
It is a shame, right? That things can't just go back to the way they were. But there's a comfort to friendship that often gets destroyed when romantic feelings are raised, an awkwardness that accompanies the transition into, and out of, these feelings.
"It feels very uncomfortable when somebody likes you more than you like them," says Ellen Sue Stern, a relationship expert and author of numerous advice books. Hence, she says, making the transition is "always a risk. You should be really sure you want to take that risk before you make that move."
* * *
Another quirk of dating a friend is that you know them well -- the opposite of romances in fairy tales. This prince, he's not a stranger. As for Cinderella? Forget the glass slipper. You've watched her clip her toenails.
Kathy Werking, author of "We're Just Good Friends: Women and Men in Nonromantic Relationships" (Guilford Press, 1997), interviewed dozens of opposite-sex friends when researching her book. Many reported that, when looking for a romantic partner, they sought someone with an air of mystery.
"There's a lot of fantasy involved when we meet someone," Werking says. "We create a fantasy about what our lives will be together and what this person is all about. It's not as exciting to be around a person who knows you thoroughly."
When you're single and meet someone new, you size them up to determine whether they're datable.
"At a certain point in life, you already have your friends," says Greg Behrendt, author of "He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys" (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2004). "So you're not looking for friends. You're generally looking for something more serious."
Call it a superficial calculation, but it's nonetheless deliberate. Friend romance, by contrast, seems almost Freudian.
Take Lynne and Kwame DeRoché, for instance. The Herndon couple, who celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary in April, say that when they met, they never considered each other as anything but a buddy. An office confidante.
Then came the slip. They were talking on the phone one weekend, planning to meet up that evening, when Lynne concluded the call by saying, "Okay, love ya. Bye."
Kwame didn't skip a beat. "Love you, too. Bye."
Neither acted on those words until a happy hour three months later when, fueled by booze and perhaps pent-up emotion, Lynne kissed him. That act wasn't so much a matter of crossing the boundary between friendship and romance; it was more a matter of erasing it.
"Everything that had happened before that was us dating," Kwame says. "We'd basically been dating for six months and didn't know it."
* * *
Alcohol, of course, can be a powerful agent when it comes to guiding friendships into sexual encounters. But unless both parties are ready to make the mental switch, the romance ends with the hangover.
Falls Church residents Melissa and Rob Floyd were friends for three years in the most platonic sense. She used his washer and dryer; he cooked for her; she cut his hair. He had a girlfriend, and she thought of him as nothing more than a good friend.
By 1998, both were single. Melissa was living abroad but returned home to celebrate New Year's Eve, and arranged for herself and Rob to stay overnight at the party house. Cut to the scene with Melissa standing at the top of the stairs, open bottle of champagne in hand, saying, "Well, we can't let this go to waste," before turning to head toward the bedroom, with Rob following. (Such is his memory of the event, at least.)
This is the Hollywood part where we edit in fireworks and mood music. And yet, nothing.
Turns out, when it comes to friendship-turned-romance, timing and context are key.
"Generally, sparks happen when they're supposed to," Behrendt says. "Can you come back and meet somebody and they're in a different place? Sure. But now you've met a different person."
For Melissa and Rob, the timing wasn't right until a few months later. She was still living abroad and he often traveled overseas for work, so they decided to meet in Turkey for a vacation.
There, driving down hairpin roads rimmed with goats and donkeys, "we were essentially completely alone, completely relaxed," Rob says. "It environmentally allowed us to realize and think about what we meant to each other and what a life together could be."
"I like to think I grew up in that heartbeat," Melissa says of that trip. "He was a really good friend and someone who probably knew me better than almost anyone at that time. I think I just realized that's what I wanted: I wanted that person who knew me so well and loved me because of that."
"Plus," she says, "he's cute."
* * *
The right timing often is paired with the maturity to understand the difference between what makes friends compatible and what makes romantic partners compatible. When Melissa and Rob reconvened after Turkey, each came armed with a list of things to discuss, both small (her cat, his goatee) and big (did they want kids, and where would they live?).
These kinds of talks, so pragmatic and seemingly unromantic, are imperative to saving a relationship.
"The friend definition is very different from how we define our romantic relationships," Werking says. "We have different expectations. Flaws that are okay in a friendship may not be okay in a romantic relationship."
But if the flaws are benign and the spark is there, well, that's a great place to be. After all, Stern says, "the healthiest relationships are those that are maximum safety and maximum passion." Friendship: safety. Romance: passion.
Which brings me back to my footsie friend. Passion -- as much as I like to think it's there, hidden in his subconscious -- is missing.
There was a short period after a drunken confession of my feelings when it seemed as though he was thinking about it, this notion of us. He was flirtier, looking at me differently. I looked at him differently, too -- in a way that made me freak out. Was this seriously someone I could see myself being intimate with?
And then things snapped back to normal, back to being really good friends, with me thinking, still, that we'd make the perfect couple. Perhaps that's just the nature of our friendship, the unalterable dynamic between us.
Anyway, he's dating someone now and seems happy, so as his friend, I'm okay with that. Besides, I've got someone new to like. He's a great guy -- and I know that because, alas, we're friends.