Monday, January 30, 2006

Someone Else's Headline

So this is the headline that blew my mind today: ""5 States Consider Bans on Protests at Funerals." They have also protested at the funerals of those killed in the Sago Mine explosion. To make matters more ridiculous (in case you were unsure where I stand on this) none of these people who's funerals they are protesting at are - to their knowledge - gay.
A spokesperson for the group said that they feel these are not private funerals, they are patriotic pep rallies, so apparently that gives them the right to try to horn in on whatever media spotlight there is. They apparently have signs that include such sentiments as, "Thank God for dead soldiers."
Now I am all for free speech and I have participated in protests (though never at a funeral) and I don't want to get into a discussion here of the right to political expression at whatever time you deem appropriate. And I recognize everyone's right to believe what they choose to believe. But I am still scratching my head over this. But I have to ask - what makes it okay for a grieving family to have to walk past a sign that says, in essence, thank God your relative is dead?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Someone Else's News: Skirt Power!

The student in New Jersey has been given permission to continue wearing kilts and/or skirts (he is protesting the dress code that forbids shorts wearing but allows skirt wearing during winter months). And the kid in Missouri who wore his kilt to a dance got a favorable school board decision also! Yay!

Robin Givhan has an article talking about who should wear skirts (and how) from an aesthetic perspective.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/26/AR2006012602013.html

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Words I Despise - Part I

This will be an ongoing (if intermittent) series. There are quite a few words out there who's common usage drives me batty.
First up, we have ethnic. According the Dictionary.com, ethnic means "a. Of or relating to a sizable group of people sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage. b. Being a member of a particular ethnic group, especially belonging to a national group by heritage or culture but residing outside its national boundaries: ethnic Hungarians living in northern Serbia. c. Of, relating to, or distinctive of members of such a group: ethnic restaurants; ethnic art. "
It appears to be definitions b and c that cause the problems. I hear media refer to people as ethnic Chinese or ethnic Albanian and I understand that for some reason they have chosen this description because it is handier than saying people of Albanian or Chinese descent (and perhaps a little more accurate). But it always leaves me wondering - as opposed to whom? The non-ethnic Chinese? And since - in these scenarios we are referring to people of a culture, race or country that is different from their current residence - do we need the ethnic?
And the one that really gets me is referred to in definition C. You hear people talk about ethnic food, there are signs for ethnic hair products. Here's the thing. All food is ethnic. It may not correspond with your ethnicity or it may correspond with the primary ethnicity of the area in which you live - but that is still an ethnicity! It wouldn't bother me as much if people were talking about ethnic Chinese food (for example) - although I would still wonder if there was non-ethnic Chinese food. But people seem to think ethnic is shorthand for minority. Which is how we end up with ethnic hair products.
So stop the abuse of the word ethnic. It has a wonderful purpose. But if it gets used incorrectly too often, it will go the way of ironic and metaphorical - words that people don't really understand well anymore.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I Have Had to Learn

Feeling contemplative today, so...

I have had to learn:
  • In the words of Debbie Allen in "A Different World" - Relax, Relate, Release! (In other words, though no less original, let it go!)
  • That sometime people have to make mistakes to grow. Myself included.
  • That not doing everything that interests me does not make me a slacker.
  • That I can do more than I often give myself credit for.
  • Other people's choices don't have to work for me. And vice-versa. (With the do no harm caveat, of course).
  • There is nothing wrong with leaving time in my schedule to do nothing.
  • That everyone is weird or different in their own way.
  • That worrying has its purpose, but worrying about things outside your control will only drive you crazy.
  • The older you get the more you learn that things you thought were silly high school things permeate the adult world.
  • Just because technology allows you to be connected to people 24/7 doesn't mean you have to be.
  • The simplest things are the hardest to say.
  • You don't have to answer every question people ask you.
  • There are very few certainties.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Not Really Vintage After All

Okay, so like many people, I watch award shows in small part with my unearned fashion judge hat on. And I have a soft spot for Reese Witherspoon (I have adored her since "Man in the Moon" and just wish her all sorts of good things) but that was not enough to make me like that silver and white boob splitter she wore to the globes. (For a picture and a more detailed description of what is wrong with the dress go here: http://gofugyourself.typepad.com/go_fug_yourself/2006/01/golden_globes_f_3.html)

Well - now it turns out there is a bit of a scandal. Reese and her peeps were apparently told that the dress is/was vintage. Now first of all the word vintage is one of those words like pure and unique and ethnic that has been battered and beaten until nobody really knows what it means anymore. But I think we can agree that in this scenario the expectation is that vintage meant the dress was from a prior line and hinted that it was likely from at least a decade ago.

Well it turns out the dress is from about three years ago, because that's when Kirsten Dunst wore it to something or other. Which has caused a scandal of sorts (of the not really a scandal sort if you ask me but, I am still typing about it so what do I know) due to two things. The first being the potential faux paus inherent in Reese wearing something that had already been worn. Even though the rest of us live in a world where other people can buy and wear the same stuff that I wear - this is considered possibly tacky when red carpets are involved. Also, the question seems to have been raised whether Reese was lying or simply mis-informed about the vintage of her dress.

Well, her people have confirmed that they had been told the dress was vintage and that they had not been informed by the Chanel people that the dress had been worn to another picture-worthy event by a famous person. And that while it was a regrettable error (although I think the error was that two separate people were both deluded enough to find it flattering, but I digress) they will continue to consider Chanel in the future for fashion. Well, that's a relief.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ownership

Let me confess from the start. I really don't watch "American Idol". But, I do have the latest Kelly Clarkson album. So, I clicked on the article that I saw today stating that Kelly Clarkson is refusing to allow her music to be used on the show.

Now I am the first person to go out there and say you have to remember where you came from. When Kylie Minogue (who I never really liked anyway - true) started dissing the stupidity of her early music I did not see that as self awareness or self-deprecation or whatever she may have been going for. No, it's fine to say you've grown, but don't diss the music and therefore the fans who got you started. A perfect example of doing this correctly (in my opinion) is Madonna. Her early music is very different from her more recent stuff. But I have never heard her talk trash about the early years, she just says she was is a place in her life where that was how she chose to express herself and wasn't that wonderful and today she is in a different place.

But to get back to Kelly Clarkson - buried way down in the article - well after the dissing from Simon Cowell - was the point that Kelly may not even be aware of this decision. How is that possible? Well, my guess is because Kelly doesn't actually have the rights to the songs she sings since she didn't write them. So, it is the copyright holder who's permission was asked for. And it is the copyright holder who has decided not to allow licensing of the music.

And since Simon has worked in the music industry - he should know this. Now it is possible that he does know this and was simply trying to suggest that Kelly should respect her fans by appealing to the appropriate folks. But, if so - shouldn't he have said that?

Edited to add: Apparently a deal is being worked out between the appropriate folks and some songs will be available. Which is not a shock since in the previews on last night's episode one of the contestants was singing "Since You've Been Gone".

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Someone Else's Article

An interesting article comparing the state of TV and film today. http://www.dailynews.com/ontv/ci_3389295

The article is no longer available online. Apologies.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Learning to Drive

Yes, I'm in a ranting mood these days. So I am going to turn my picking on it powers to a song. "Jesus Take the Wheel", currently being sung by Carrie Underwood. First, I want to clarify a few things. I do not (yet) have a problem with Carrie Underwood. I do not have a problem with the person who wrote the song (my lazy search has not yet turned up that information). I do not have a problem with Jesus.

But. Jesus should not be the only one driving you car. Okay - the person is the song is driving along. It is snowing, she is speeding and is low on gas. (We'll get back to that). She hits some ice and skids. So she throws her hands un in the air. What? You're not really supposed to take your hands off the wheel anyway, but especially not when you are skidding. Your are supposed to turn into the skid a bit, wait for the car to regain traction and then steer back to wherever you're trying to go.

So she says (while skidding, with hand not on the wheel), "Jesus take the wheel". Argh! I realize this is supposed to be allegorical or metaphorical. That she has lost control and is turning it over to Jesus. But here's the thing, Jesus (assuming that is your deity or son of deity of choice) needs you to do a little work to. Especially since the second verse reveals there is a baby in the backseat. (To say nothing of the other drivers out there who would probably appreciate her trying to do her own driving.

Now I recognize that there are things in our lives that we do not have control over. For example, it may be that no matter how well I eat, and stay in shape, I may still face a health issue (or two or three). Only pieces of that are in my control. I understand that it helps people to turn to their faith, to give up trying to control the things they can't and leave it in some else's hands.

I see that in some ways this song illustrates that cleverly. But I personally am completely unable to get past the fact that driving a car is not ever a scenario in which you should give up control. (Unless of course you're not the person in the driver's seat - in which case - go ahead give it up).
I realize the statement about being low on gas is supposed to represent more - likely being low on funds. But if you are low on gas, speeding is actually dumb. (Almost as dumb as speeding in the snow). Because your car is more fuel efficient when you are not speeding.

And the addition of the baby is probably supposed to make me feel that this is more poignant. But no - I'm that much more frustrated. That baby needs you to figure out how to drive that car! Or get out (of the car).

Jaywalking Rules

I recognize that there are times in life, when due to circumstances jaywalking may be or seem preferable and/or more expedient than crossing at the designated time with the light. As a walker I have on rare occasions been known to do it myself. As a driver, it often - well - drives me crazy. So I have a list of rules that should help make it better for us all.

  • Be aware of the progression of lights at the intersection. Often people will decide to start walking because they can't see who has a green light from where they are standing. But it may be that there is a green turn signal and they are walking right into the traffic.
  • Don't attempt jaywalking if you cannot move quickly. If you have a walking aid or other physical restraint - jaywalking is not a good idea. It is also not a good idea when you are carrying a heavy or awkward load or when pushing a stroller. And don't walk in a leisurely fashion.
  • Be extra cautious when visibility is lower. Remember, cars that can't see you - won't stop for you. So if it is dark or rainy or foggy, you need to take additional care.
  • Remember you are the one breaking the rules. Not the cars who are progressing through their green light. You didn't want to wait, which means you do not have the right of way.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

John Spencer 1946-2005

As you may know, the actor John Spencer passed away December 16th after a heart attack. This isn't really going to be a proper obituary. After all I was not fortunate enough to ever meet John Spencer. So, I knew him as that guy on the TV screen. Or the movie screen (he was great as the hateful FBI guy in "The Rock"). Although he was on television starting in the 60's, I first remember him as Tommy Mulraney on "L.A. Law". Tommy was one of those guys you underestimate, he looked like a slacker with his real tan and his aloha shirts and his seemingly simple approach. But then, he would get you.
His character Leo on "The West Wing" - which he played for six years - was a little different. As chief of staff, Leo always wore suits. But he still seemed like a guy you could talk to. And Leo was always striving to hold himself (and everyone) to the highest standards. He saw the good that government could do, and despite the missteps and other errors the administration committed, he remained convinced (and convincing) that working in and for the government was a wonderful and awesome privilege and that they should always work to remain worthy of it.
Now you are wondering why I am talking about the fictional characters that John Spencer played. Partly, it is because they are my John Spencer experiences. And partly it is because part of John Spencer's gift was making you believe he was not acting, but just being. And this was added to as pieces of John Spencer's life - such as his struggle with addiction - were incorporated into his character of Leo.
And so, I have a story to tell about how I came to be a fan of "The West Wing". I was in a singing group that rehearsed Wednesday nights, so had given up Wednesday television. So I missed the debut season of "The West Wing". As it turned out, my birthday fell on the day they aired the first episode of the second season (they ended the season with shots being fired, so it was a cliffhanger). My sister was over to celebrate with me, but as we sat to eat she told me we needed to be done in time for "Dawson's Creek". Never having watched the show, I still felt qualified to inform her that we were going to eat as normal and she could catch up on the goings on at the Creek some other time. She conceded that but then said that she could not miss "The West Wing" and explained that shots had been fired and she needed to know if anyone was hurt. I had not heard of "The West Wing" (although I was a fan of both Aaron Sorkin and John Wells). So, my sister was my guide that evening as I was introduced to "The West Wing". And I'm still watching today.