Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Your life's theme song

Apparently mine is Can't Help Falling in Love by UB40, because it was number one on my 18th birthday.

Number one on my actual birthday was Jive Talkin' by the BeeGees, which is on the Funkle Ester set list. I find that amusing.

What are your songs?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Six Degrees of Obscurity

The other night I was watching the alternative videos show on VH1 Classic, and an old video by a band called X came on. I thought I recognized the lead singer.

Turns out, I did. His stage name is John Doe, and he's also a character actor who has worked in tons of movies and tv shows. I specifically remembered him from Road House. Yes. Road House. Major guilty pleasure of mine.

Back to the six degrees. The female singer in X was his wife at the time. After they divorced she married Viggo Mortenson and had a son. I just think that's kind of interesting. She and Viggo Mortenson have also since divorced.

And I can't think of anything else to write about today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

By the content of their character

Seems that this latest generation of folks - one behind us slackers/gen-x types - are more and more diverse in their relationships - friendships and intimate relationships. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream is becoming a reality.

Ryan Knapick and Josh Baker have been best friends since fifth grade. Colette Gregory entered the picture in high school. She and Josh are dating now. Knapick is white, Gregory is black and Baker is half-Hispanic. To them, race doesn't matter.

"People are finding people with common interests and common perspectives and are putting race aside," says Knapick, 22, a May graduate of Indiana University who works at a machine shop and lives with his parents in Munster, Ind.

For some, though, this is a problem. And you might (or not, depending on your cynicism) be surprised by whom this threatens.

"People think this sort of colorblindness is a kind of progress, but I see it as more pernicious than that," says Tyrone Forman, an associate professor of African-American studies and sociology at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

His research, based on data from the University of Michigan's annual Monitoring the Future survey, suggests a troublesome side to racial colorblindness.

Even though young people report having friends of other races, Forman says, those friendships don't necessarily lead to a reduction in negative attitudes toward a racial group, because people view their own friends as an exception to whatever stereotype may exist.

Such feelings, along with studies that show less concern for racial issues among white high school seniors in 2003 compared with 30 years ago, makes him believe there should be more and not less talk about race, Forman says.

Did you know that often, I think people are stupid? I don't think my own friends are stupid, of course. But in general, people are stupid. Does that make me prejudiced against people? Sure, en masse, but not against individuals when I meet them. We all traffic in stereotypes, and we all exclude ourselves and our own social circles from those stereotypes. This is a human condition, and has nothing to do with race, specifically, but the general tendency to stereotype. It happens to everyone for many reasons besides skin color.

Do you know what other improvement Mr. Forman thinks is bad?
"In 2003, 17% of students said they were 'never concerned' with hunger and poverty, compared with 7% in 1976, he says. And on race, 27% were 'never concerned' three years ago, compared with 13% surveyed in 1976."

Seriously, fewer children have grown up wondering if they're going to eat every night, and this is bad? And I wonder what the racial breakdown is of those who said they were "never concerned" with race? What if there are black people among that 27%? That means this is an even bigger improvement, socially speaking. If someone is black and hasn't been "concerned with race," wouldn't the implication there be that they haven't felt discriminated against because of their race?

Don't worry, though, the author is sure to point out that Mr. Forman is black and is married to a white woman. And another white contributor to the article who is concerned about this "problem" used to be married to, and has a son with, a black man.

So as people become less and less concerned with race, and we all continue "mixing" on a grand scale, what then? Do we still live by the old "one drop rule" of heritage? Used to be that was the way racist people maintained as much power over others as possible. I imagine that in the near future it may be the only tool a whole different set of racist people have to maintain as much power over others as possible - and the only way the people who make a living off of racism will be able to keep their own jobs.

Thanks again, to The Agitator.

Herman Cain

I voted for Mr. Cain in a primary for either the Senate or House in the last election. He didn’t win, but I’m proud to say that I voted for him. He sometimes subs for Neal Boortz, and it’s always a joy to listen to him. He subbed last Friday, and I wanted to blog then, but just haven’t had a chance. Anyway, check out his site if you have a chance. We need more people in this country like him.

Some excerpts:
They Think You’re Stupid
A wakeup call... Work on the right problems to achieve the right results for issues that are vital to America's future. Both political parties are failing the citizens of this country. There is a solution. We must innovate and not just renovate in order to sustain the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In addition, the dynamics of wealth building and individual achievement have changed dramatically in just the last 20 years. Upward mobility from generation to generation is the norm. Today's white collar workers and small business owners are the sons and daughters of yesterday's blue collar union members. Women now make up a significant percentage of the workplace. Racial minorities are more upwardly mobile and represented in every aspect of society. Over half of the U.S. workforce owns financial investments such as stocks and bonds. More young people have college educations and advanced degrees than ever before. The marketplace for goods and services, ideas and innovations is global in scale. Perhaps most important, history has shown us the inefficiencies of centralized government programs and command economies. Yet, due to political pressures and a lack of leadership in most corners of state and federal government, we continue to place band-aids on an infrastructure that requires major reconstructive surgery.

What I learned yesterday

What I learned today
Did you know that "perk" is derived from the word perquisite? I didn’t. Some context from here. It wasn't until the end of the second paragraph until I realized what they were talking about. They are talking about perks.

Perquisite problems
Another benefit that companies might shift away from as a result of the proposal is offering perquisites. Many executives and experts argue that the SEC is going too far by lowering the threshold of perquisites that need to be disclosed from $50,000 to $10,000. "When you look at the total scope of executive pay, $10,000 is nothing," says Robbi Fox, a consultant at Hewitt Associates.

Experts expect that many companies will protest this requirement because it is too time-consuming to catalog. Further, only a few companies offer such extravagant perquisites.

Of course, about five words later, they said perks. I'm just glad I figured it out before then.

Of Memories and Music

On my way home tonight, I was listening to the music on my new toy (paid for by our overpayment to the US and GA governments). I like the album shuffle feature, because, well, I like albums. The play all songs is fun sometimes, but I really like to get into the groove that is an album. (Kindof ironic that this toy may spell the end of albums. whatever.) So the American Graffiti soundtrack came on. Something I find interesting about where this took me is that this is the music of my parents’ childhoods originally, not mine. But they’re straight baby boomers (OK, Dad was a few weeks early), and in the mid-eighties, with The Big Chill and the boomers getting all nostalgic, this became some of the music of my childhood, too. So I was instantly transported to the parking lot of what I think was Horseshoe Bend Country Club in Roswell. I’m in my dad’s Alpha Romeo Spider with the top down, listening to oldies while my parents are playing in their Alta matches. It must have been 1986 or 1987. I remember so much detail.

And it made me wonder about when we get all nostalgic for the 80s. We already have, but I wonder if there will be a Big Chill type movie with our stories when we’re hitting our early forties. I’m sure we’ll listen to eighties music all the time, then, like we do now. Will our kids remember that as music of their childhoods, too?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

For the love of Jake Ryan and Lloyd Dobler (an internal conflict)

SO, thanks to The Agitator, I found this article about the undying love for Lloyd Dobler that so many women our age have. In the opening, the writer mentions an article two years ago about Jake Ryan. I have to admit that Jake Ryan was my first movie love, so there's a special place in my heart for him. But I also love Lloyd, and certainly Say Anything.

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought or processed, or repair anything sold, bought or processed. You know, as a career -- I don't want to do that."

And don't forget that Eric Stoltz and Jeremy Piven are in it, too.

There's not much I can say about the article that isn't already said better than I could, so I'll just leave this with some quotes. But I do have to argue with the comment about being in love with Lloyd Dobler, not John Cusack. I'm also in love with Martin Blank. Probably more than with Lloyd.

Two Valentine's Days ago, in the Style section, it was discussed at great length why women still think about Jake Ryan -- the cool-mannered, Porsche-driving, completely fictional hunk from the 1984 teen flick "Sixteen Candles." Then came the e-mail. Women (and some men) wrote in for months, mostly affirming this fantasy. One dreamer in Dallas talked about the lady down the street with toddler sons named Jake and Ryan. There was much linking and blogging. Even now, once in a while, Google will lead the Jakelorn our way. A New York documentary filmmaker came by last summer and set up lights and rearranged furniture and interviewed me -- she was making an entire movie about Jake Ryan.
"But what about," she finally asked, "Lloyd Dobler?"

Shawna Shepherd, 28, an associate TV producer, agrees. "I am always on the hunt for the Lloyd Dobler type. Unfortunately the ones I've dated so far pale in comparison to the Hollywood character," she says. "Sure they were quirky, and the mix tapes award-winning -- I still listen to them -- but a shower and a treat to dinner every now and then would have been nice, too. And let's face it, if a guy stood outside with a boombox playing music outside my window, I'd be unimpressed and slightly freaked out."

Chuck Klosterman, a complicatedly dorky New York rock critic who has ascended to omniscient pop-culture sageness (more powerful in his observations than even the combined forces of all those loudmouths on nostalgic VH1 shows), makes quick work of Lloyd Dobler in the very first pages of his 2003 book "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs":

"Fake love is a very powerful thing," Klosterman observes. "I once loved a girl who almost loved me, but not as much as she loved John Cusack. . . . It appears that countless women born between the years of 1965 and 1978 are in love with John Cusack. . . . But here's what none of these upwardly mobile women seem to realize: They don't love John Cusack. They love Lloyd Dobler. When they see Mr. Cusack, they are still seeing the optimistic, charmingly loquacious teenager he played in 'Say Anything.' . . .

Monday, February 13, 2006

Chuck Norris bandwagon

The guys at Best Damn Sports Show booked Chuck Norris, and had him read some off the list. He's clearly embarassed by it at some points, but he's a great sport. YOu'll have to find the link on the website, cause I couldn't find a direct one. Sorry.

Friday, February 10, 2006


OK, I watched Scrubs in its first season, but was turned off by one episode in particular and stopped watching. Then a few people at work commanded me to watch Scrubs again, and The Office. And you know me, I just go along with the herd. That, and the fact that Arrested Development is no longer on (after tonight's season/series finale - yeah, seriously on a Friday night at 8pm!) and I need a random comedy fix, brought be back to Scrubs. (I'm enjoying The Office, too, but that's not what this post is about.)

So anyway, today I'm asking for help. Can someone out there please help me find a clip of Turk's Air Band audition to Bel Biv Devoe's Poison (you can hear a sample at this Amazon.com link, too - just scroll down a little ways) online, so that I can link to it. First of all, it's hilarious. "Why is it hilarious?" you might ask. First of all, the song selection is priceless. The lip-synching was perfect. But what really put it over the top is Donald Faison's amazing dancing. Seriously, this guy is incredible. I've probably watched it five times already. And it will stay on the DVR for some time to come.

To aid in the search, the episode title is "My Half Acre."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Doing what you love or loving what you do

We’ve all heard it said that if you do what you love, it won’t seem like work.

You know what’s funny, I’ve had a couple of experiences and found out that with me, when I do what I love for work, it just makes what I love seem like work, and ruins both the thing I love and my work. So that stinks.

I guess that means that I didn’t love writing or photography enough. But if that’s the case, then I don’t love anything enough to want to make a career of it.

So what is one to do?

What if there is nothing that you see yourself dedicating everything to, besides your spouse and family? What if there is nothing you’re willing to make such sacrifices of time (and money) for. What if you love something so much, but the talent just isn’t there to make a living at it? Or you aren’t smart enough to think of a way to turn whatever it is into a career?

So I guess the key is to find something you love that you do well (two steps, not just one). But what if you don’t even know what you love enough to do all day every day? I do envy those people, like my friend Jenni who’s known since she was 12 what she wanted to do, and she’s doing it. And this guy.

Of course, knowing what you love and going for it all can be a huge risk. But if you love it so much that you’re willing to take that risk, then you’re half-way there.

So that leaves me, at this stage, with loving what I do. Well, I don’t love it in the sense of that described above. But I do like it enough to enjoy myself at work and enjoy the people I work with every day, and yeah, I’m pretty good at it (even though I think I just fake it really well). This is a huge blessing that many people don’t have in their lives. I recognize that, and I’m thankful for it every day. So maybe I’m one-third of the way there.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's about time...

It seems that plans are in the works to build a Victims of Communism Memorial in Washtington DC. Unfortunately, it won't have as prominant a location as many of the other memorials, but at least there will be something.

This column in the Wall Street Journal Opinion section details several other sites around the world, as well. I think the most interesting tidbit is the mention of how quickly many in Eastern Europe switched from Fascist to Communist at the end of WWII. Those two may seem rivals in ideology, but are certainly not so in practice. They simply seek to control people using different propaganda. But the goal was always the same - domination through oppression and fear.

Quick poll: If you haven't hit the link, do you know how many deaths have been attributed to Communism?

The Communists clearly out-classed the Fascists in death-toll category, partially due to the longer term of widespread "success."

But of course, let's not forget that Communism is all about equality, even if as George Orwell so astutely pointed out in Animal Farm "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". Many will tell you that Communism's 100 million death toll only "happened" because it hasn't been done right, yet. It really is a good and wonderful theory (in the non-scientific definition of the word). Never mind that it's antithetical to human nature, and any such system can only be implemented through - guess what - oppression and fear.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Pure Poppy Goodness

VH1 Classic has quickly become my favorite channel, since getting digital cable. As a matter of fact, I have the DVR set up to record Pop Show every time it comes on, and I watch these episodes in the morning while I'm having breakfast and getting ready. And whenever there's nothing on TV, I go to the DVR for relief. And there are my five or six episodes of Pop Show (and Edge of Country from GAC). Oh, and just let me mention that next week on CMT, Lyle and Bonnie Raitt will be playing on CrossRoads. I haven't seen an episode this season, but I know Radney Foster used to do the interviews. I don't know what I'm going to do if Radney and Lyle are on the screen together. I can't wait. But that is SOOO off topic.

I started this post because of the pure poppy goodness that was the January 28th episode of Pop Show. Almost pop perfection in its ability to take me back to so many great times. These are the videos in order of appearance:

"One More Night" Phil Collins, 1985
When I was in the forth and fifth grades, I thought this was one of the saddest songs I'd ever heard. I mean, I was 9, and I knew it was depressing. I was right. It still is. Actually, looking through his singles list on Billboard, I'm realizing that Mr. Collins sung a lot of damn depressing songs.

"Tell It To My Heart" Taylor Dayne, 1987
You have to be kidding me! This song? Look at that hair. The extensions don't even match the rest, and the bangs are crimped - CRIMPED. Did anyone wax their eyebrows in the 80's? She's in a black dress with what looks like a plastic chastity belt of some sort. But I can't help but be taken back to 1988 and want to dance at some horrible middle school dance in the cafeteria. Yep, that's right, not the gym, but the Cafeteria.

"La Isla Bonita" Madonna, 1987
It's never going to stop. They're dragging me through my childhood here with infinitely danceable tunes. True Blue was one of my first albums. I still have it.

"She Don't Use Jelly" Flaming Lips, 1995
Whoa, slow down here! You just hit the skip button and jumped right into college. Seriously, we just went from early Madonna to The Flaming Lips? This is great. I haven't fast forwarded through a song yet.

"Ironic" Alanis Morissette, 1996
Yeah, yeah, we all know it isn't ironic, after all, but I still can't bring myself to fast forward through this one, either. All four years at Georgia were so incredible, and this is one of those songs that takes me right back there in two seconds. I'm walking back to Myers from Park Hall, weaving my way through bus stop traffic in front of Tate with the headphones in and whatever mix tape turned up so loud that there is nothing else but the music, the sidewalk, and hundreds of feet in my periphery.

"End of the Road" Boyz II Men, 1992
Alright, slight rewind here, to the end of high school. Yeah, this is a break-up song, but we all know that songs relate to where we are in our lives. We were at the end of high school. I think this was actually Spring 1992 (is that right, Stacy?), and this was a senior song everywhere (we were juniors). I don't know that our senior class used it as theirs, but I do know it was in the yearbook slide show for the Seniors section. I think there were even some pictures of couples that had broken up. Or something like that. I may be making that up. It was in the slide show, though. That was a great slide show. Anyway, some of our friends were leaving for college, and we were about to be seniors. What a great time. That summer between junior and senior years is one of the best times of my life.

"I Wish I Was Your Lover" Sophie B. Hawkins, 1992
Wow, right about the same time. Again with the bushy eyebrows. You know, she's not an unattractive woman, but she's all butched up for this video. Of course, they were the days of flannel. This was a scream-along-with-the-radio-in-the-car song. Should I be ashamed of that?

Halfway through, and still haven't fastforwarded yet. This is the longest streak yet.

"I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" Hall & Oates, 1981
We're way back on this one. I'm in Dad's station wagon (olive green with wood paneling). I think it was a Plymouth Volare. And we're driving at night in the rain. "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbitt puts me in the same place.

"You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" Leo Sayer, 1976
Yup, there had to be one that made me fastforward. This is it. That horrible falsetto and white man's afro. Good grief.

"Don't Leave Me This Way" Thelma Houston, 1976
Yeah, yeah, it was released in the disco days, and I don't remember it from my childhood, but well, it's all about Funkle Ester here. If I wasn't typing, I'd be dancing. I absolutely can't help but dance to this song. I was once in NY and had to wake up at 5:30 AM. This was the song on the radio when the alarm came on, and I had no problem waking up that day. Where's my shaker?! Damnit, Funkle Ester better play soon.

"Kiss" Prince and The Revolution, 1986
He's such a tiny little person. What are those heels, 4 inches? And his waste, 24? But just damn. Great song, great delivery. He's just fantastic.

"Young Turks" Rod Stewart, 1981
Video replete with terrible 80's choreography trying desperately for a West Side Story vibe. "But there ain't no point in talkin' when there ain't nobody listnin'" Wow, 1981 really does sum it up nicely.

"Cruel to Be Kind" Nick Lowe, 1979
This was somewhat alternative for my parents' taste when I was a kid, so I didn't discover this song until much later. Probably after college, actually. But it's just a great song, and Nick Lowe has aged really really well. Also, this actually had a narrative video. In 1979, where did these air?

Oh, we're at the end. That was the best hours of music videos I've seen in ages. Thank you VH1 Classic.

Being lazy and quoting others today

Most people would rather be certain they're miserable than risk being happy.
-- Robert Anthony