Saturday, July 21, 2012
By now you've all heard of what the media is sensationally calling "The Movie Theater Massacre" in Aurora, Colorado. Almost everyone I know has been writing about it. I honestly didn't feel compelled to. I try not to be as cynical as I claim to be, but I find that, deep down, I've become used to such tragedies. Are they an outrage? Yes, goddammit, yes. They are awful. I'm as thankful that no one I know was affected as I am saddened and horrified that it happened at all. But what did I actually have to say about it and, honestly, did I even need to say anything at all?
I know there's a human need to make sense of the nonsensical, to rationalize the irrational, and to find order where none exists. I'm glad that not everyone is as inured to this kind of madness as I've become. I'm cynical because I know how the cycle goes: the media reports on it, it becomes politics, everyone starts blaming violence in entertainment, there's the inevitable debate over gun control that goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing, and then something else happens and the media forgets, we forget, and those unfortunate enough to have been there or lost a loved one there are left to piece together lives that have been forever altered. It's how things work. Nothing will change except for those who had it forced upon them by James Holmes. Unless they decide they have to put metal detectors and bag check areas in movie theaters now, which wouldn't surprise me.
I don't want to get into the debates about violence in entertainment (which is bullshit--what violent video games did Genghis Khan play?) or about gun control (though, isn't it a little sad and a lot pathetic that Colorado hasn't changed it's gun laws since Columbine?). At the end of the day, all I have to say is: fuck this guy.
Seriously. That's my whole statement. Fuck James Holmes.
Fuck that asshole right in the face.
I get it, Jim. You were hurt. You were damaged by life in some way. Guess what? Most of us are. I've been so damaged not only by life, but by how I've responded to it, that every single time I think I've finally understood the extent to which I've been damaged and can work on smoothing the crumples back out, I find more damage waiting underneath. But you know what? I've never hurt anyone. I've never killed anyone. I've never left booby traps waiting to kill someone just for walking into my apartment. I've never gone through the process of buying guns and ammunition to slaughter people, just so the world finally notices how fucking angry and hurt I am.
No one has that right.
No amount of hurt and pain and anger you've suffered in your life gives you the excuse to murder people.
Don't tell me I don't understand the impetus, because I certainly do. A lot of us have had fantasies of committing acts of violence in our anger and frustration. I certainly did, especially when I was a teenager. I have rage that goes deeper than anyone even imagines. I could tell you about the time I almost hit my own mother in the head with a hammer because I was so frustrated. I've punched holes in walls. I stabbed a kid in second grade without even realizing I'd done it until immediately after (and instantly I felt sorrier than I had in my life). Did I have the right to stab Derek in the arm because I was annoyed by other things? OF COURSE NOT. I've never forgotten exactly how that felt. It was horrifying to realize I was capable of something like that.
It's a struggle to keep deep-rooted anger issues in check. I've been fighting it all my life. I don't want to give the impression that I'm some simmering cauldron of rage who could snap at any moment. I recognize when it gets to overwhelm me, and I have a lot of methods I try to use to keep it from doing so entirely. But there's never a moment, even when I'm irrational, that I think the right thing, the satisfying thing, the just thing to do is to hurt or kill another human being. I don't understand where that breaks inside of someone. I hope I never do.
James Holmes wanted to hurt a lot of people, and he did. And he probably wanted to hurt even more people. I don't know what made him snap, but I don't have any sympathy for him. I just don't. I'm tapped out. My compassion is with his victims. I make no apologies for that. I have sympathy for a person who is internalizing all of their anger and in desperate need of help and understanding. I have none for a person who hurts others.
Fuck James Holmes.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Good. That's a good place to attack Romney, and this ad is pretty simple and elegant. The thing about Romney is, you don't have to scratch the surface too hard to uncover the hypocrisy and the lies and the general incompetence.
But if you wanted to: here's the leaked McCain opposition file on Romney on Google Docs. Just skim it. Look especially at his record as Governor of Massachusetts. I find it chillingly weird that he was so intent on imposing fees on, say, blind people (for being blind), but did so much to derail spending on a database of sex offenders. It doesn't line up for me. Like, "Damn those blind people and their free ride, it's time to start charging them for the privilege of gaining access to state programs specifically to aid blind people! Oh, we lost track of a third of sex offenders? Eh, no big deal. Here, let me take half the money set aside for creating a database of those criminals and use it for something else." What the hell is that all about?
Mitt Romney: Protecting Child Molesters Before Joe Paterno Made It Defensible by College Idiots.
But really, isn't the fact that John McCain took a look at all of this and felt Sarah Palin was a more viable candidate more than a little sobering?
And after demanding to see Obama's birth certificate, isn't it more than a little indefensible that Romney won't release his tax records? (He demanded that Ted Kennedy release his back in 1994 when he was running against Kennedy for Senate.) It's because Romney knows it's all over when people see the real extent of his greed.
I'm with Mark Hamill on this one: Mitt Romney "only imitates human behavior. He's not actually human himself."
Related: Ezra Klein's spot-on 14 Reasons Why This Is the Worst Congress Ever.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
SILENT HOUSE (2012)
Another movie that attempts to be a real time thriller, but which does go one better by setting the whole thing in what feels like (I'm not sure if it actually is) one single, continuous take. I'm not really sure what makes real time such a fascinating experiment to filmmakers, especially since it never really works that well. I felt about this movie pretty much the way I felt about Martha Marcy May Marlene: there's a kernel of an interesting idea here, and the movie almost pulls it off at times, but ultimately it just doesn't work. Oh, and Elizabeth Olsen is very good in it. I really expect her to be in something great someday, but it sure hasn't happened yet. **1/2
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (2011)
How is it possible to have no expectations of something and still be disappointed? I guess because Jason Momoa seems like potentially a good Conan, but the film is so overwrought, histrionic, and just badly made to do anything with him. It's just shit. *
JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (2012)
I had a really good time with this one. I did with the first one, too, but I liked this one better (mostly because I just love Dwayne Johnson and my perfect Vanessa Hudgens is in shot after shot perfectly designed for maximum sexy cuteness). I appreciate that these movies don't concern themselves with logic (it helps that they don't pretend to be smart, either), but just embrace their own preposterousness and go with the set pieces. I had more genuine fun watching this movie than I've had probably since The Avengers. ***
Well, I guess that's goodbye to Josh and Stacey. I was a little surprised when the voiceover called Josh one of the front runners in the competition; I felt like I was still waiting for him to emerge. I was excited about it, honestly; I wanted to see what he could do when people like David and Becky were out of the way.
Speaking of David and Becky, how about that sushi disaster this week? I love how the judges were so angry and offended that David and Becky couldn't pull off that tag team stunt, as if that's something any chef would ever be called upon to do in any cooking environment except for a stunt on a reality show. Loved the Monti/Felix team-up, though.
Snarky little observations:
:: Really, Gordon? They were cooking for 101 cowboys? Because all I saw were a lot of tourists on a day trip on a nature trail. You're already overselling everything, try not to leak embarrassment all over yourself like a cracked reactor oozing nuclear waste.
:: Look, I'm never going to buy produce to make a gourmet meal at Wal-Mart, no matter how many bags you shove in front of the camera. I know network reality shows are commercials, but this new quest Wal-Mart is on to re-brand themselves as a place where you can get "theeee most. Amazing. STUNNING. PHENOMENAL." meat and produce is total bullshit. Sorry, but you were beat to the punch there by literally every other grocer in town. When we first moved out here in 2001, we tried to buy some produce and meat from Wal-Mart, and it was thee most. Awful. BLAND. DISGUSTING. thing I've ever tried to eat. If I went somewhere for lunch and they told me I'd just eaten a Wal-Mart steak, I'd react pretty much exactly the same way Chris Farley did on that old SNL parody of those Colombian Coffee commercials. "You son of a bitch..."
:: I thought the egg challenge was interesting. I love eggs, but I have actually never had a poached egg or a soft-boiled egg; I have had sunny side up and omelets, but never made either. I've always seen poached eggs made on cooking shows and wanted to try it, so today I just got off my ass and decided I was going to try it out. They turned out great! I think I'm forever converted to this. I've always loved my eggs over easy, but these were even better. I'm glad I just went for it.
Speaking of eggs, I just dug this:
:: Can I just say that I hate the way this show is scored? Are we really supposed to be this emotionally involved?
:: The first half of the second episode this week was nightmarish for me to get through, because it had Paula Deen on it. I guess we were all supposed to be thrilled by this, but I just can't stand her. Not at all. The cackling laugh, the idiot catch phrases, her voice, just looking at her... Is Jim Henson in hell? Because her existence only makes sense to me if Jim Henson were in hell and Satan forced him to create the most irritating celebrity chef caricature he could come up with. Something with no redeeming value.
:: Anytime you guys want to rid us of Becky, please be my guest. It was nice to see Becky acknowledge Monti as major competition instead of running her down for being a mom and making value judgments. A rare moment of honesty? She must have been under the weather that day.
Couple of Hell's Kitchen notes:
:: Thanks for finally getting rid of Tiffany, who is awful and has no quality standards and ultimately didn't give a shit about doing her best.
:: Little Steven--er, Robyn--kept saying that she was "set up for failure" because cooking squash blossoms was beyond her ability. She seemed to really believe that it was Justin's fault for putting them on the menu in the first place. I can't wait to use that excuse if I ever get into a car accident again. "Sorry, Officer, but I was set up for failure by the crew that constructed this road."
:: Okay, when are we going to stop piling on Barbie? I get that she's all black and everything, but what does she actually do as a cook that's so unforgivable? Seriously? It's just more racism, and I'm sick of it. I'm just calling it out. Putting it out there right now. They don't like her because of her "attitude"? Seriously? Because it took her two hours to clean mussels, that somehow made Kimmie unable to cook duck? I'm not buying it. "It's just her attitude and her looks." What they mean is that Kimmie has an attitude, Tiffany has an attitude, but Barbie is being "uppity" and they can't take the affront. Just say it. Just fucking say it. I dare you. I double dare you. Just say that you're upset because the field hand is giving you looks when you fuck up and you can't take it. Because saying it's her "attitude" is just cowardly coded speech. Because when Kimmie is yelling and threatening to hit people, it's always Barbie's "attitude" that is just unbearable to be around.
I hope she outlasts every last one of you, because fuck you.
I had some respect for Christina, too. But you chose Barbie over Kimmie (who actually did fuck up) because of her "attitude"? Go to hell.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
I didn't have that thing a lot of people have where they spin out and feel depressed when they turn 30. But when I turned 30 I was in my final semester at NIU and about to graduate. So it all hit me when I turned 36, instead.
36. How did this happen? I don't feel 36. I feel 23. I feel like I'm a kid who has accidentally been given adult responsibilities. Surely someone will realize there's been a mistake?
As depressed as I've been, today I feel fine. Downright good, in fact. So here's to a weird birthday.
That picture is me on the day I was baptized. 2 months old. Man, I was a happy baby and happy little kid. This year, I'm going to try to be happy like that again.
Incidentally, I've been doing a new blog on tumblr where I'm putting together old pictures and events of my life, together alongside history and pop culture. It's the world's most indulgent and inclusive scrapbook, maybe. If anyone's interested, here's my new project: The Autobiography of a Frog. It's been interesting so far; I haven't even made it a year into my life yet. But I'm already pretty inspired thinking of times when I wasn't so afraid and wasn't so angry. I think it's going to help me recapture the point.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
1967, from the Stone Poneys, featuring lead singer Linda Ronstadt, who turns 66 today. I've always thought this was a beautiful little tune, made more so by Linda's vocal performance. Mike Nesmith wrote this song before he was in the Monkees.
Anyway, interesting poster. I hope the movie ends up being not Superman Returns.