yrmencyn: (bananas)
Well.  Jeez.  It's been almost a week since I wrote anything here, has it?  Oy.  Let's see.  I spent a lot of time in the last week watching the Democratic National Convention, which was mostly boring with brief interruption of stirring/exciting (I actually haven't yet watched Obama's speech; it's DVR'd).  I don't know if I'll be watching the RNC.  On the one hand I kind of want to, just to know what's going on (and to see if/how Hurricane Gustav affects their discourse), but on the other hand I think I might try to rip my eyes out and puncture my eardrums.  It's not that the Democrats don't say ridiculous, out-of-context, entirely unfair things about the Republicans, it's just that, uh, I tend to agree more with Democratic rhetoric.  On the third hand, I really do want to see this out-of-nowhere woman that McCain has chosen as his VP.

Anyway.  I didn't see the Obama speech because I went with some members of the New Things Club to Cocktails at the Conservatory.  The Franklin Park Conservatory has started this new thing where they open up the rooftop gardens on Thursday nights.  Wine, beer, cocktails, hors d'oeuvres.  Drinks are pretty reasonable, and there's no cover.  All in all it was a nice change of pace to stand around in the cool evening, watching as the sun set and "Light Raiment" (James Turrell's changing-colors light installation in the Conservatory's glass roofs) powered on.  They're going to keep doing these events through the end of October; I suspect I might end up back there.

There was a whole debacle with post-cocktail noshing, wherein only half of us ended up at Tip Top, but that did lead to a magnificent moment wherein David knocked over a large water glass, and we all watched, immobile, as a good pint of water sluiced across the table and into Lauren's lap.  Because really, what is there to do except accept your watery fate?

I spent Friday with [livejournal.com profile] moomoogal87, who was up from Louisiana visiting a grad program here at OSU.  We did lots of driving around and talking, doing our best to reconnect.  It's so much more convenient to have personal conversations at a coffee shop than in whispers at the end of the hall, trying not to wake up the [young] Session A campers or be overhead by the [teenage] Session B campers.  We also spent some time hacking away at half-frozen ham, andouille, and vegetables the better to make a nice big pot of red beans and rice, which I'm pleased to say was mostly consumed by about 6 people (of course, there were still probably 5 cups of beans left -- a pound of beans makes a BIG pot).

On Saturday I sat around in Mac's ignoring OSU's ritual slaughter of Youngstown State before retiring to Jess and Jen's for a viewing of Divorzio all'italiana an Italian film from the 60s that was... eh?  It was ok?  It had its moments.  The baroness was extremely annoying (and yes, she was supposed to be, but good GOD).

Finally, yesterday I went to Kevin's brother's wedding in Dayton.  It was really good to see John and Erin again -- their wedding was simple and sweet (it reminded me a lot of rosepurr/thunderstd's and purple_phys/tbec's), and I was glad to be able to celebrate their love along with their friends and family.  Erin made me promise to stay in touch, and I hope I manage to.

And now here it is Labor Day, and I need to do laundry.  Unfortunately my washer's been broken for a couple weeks now, so I guess it's time to schlepp my clothes across the alley to Elisa and Francis' place.  They're out of town, but I need to water their plant anyway.  Might as well abuse my laundry access at the same time :)

------------------

On a more serious note, I'm worried about all of you down in Louisiana.  I'm glad to see that Gustav has decreased in strength, but it's still a good-sized storm, and it's coming in at a totally bizarre angle.  At least it trended a little more west; at one point the projected path showed the distinct possibility that the eye could go right through New Orleans and manage to clip both BTR and Lafayette (like I said, bizarre angle).  So, I guess, be safe?  It's a little late to be getting to higher ground (and hell, there's a good chance you won't see this until after the storm's gone through, if at all), but I hope you're all well.  You're in my thoughts and prayers.
yrmencyn: (armadillo)
Just a couple of things stewing around in my head tonight.  The second one in particular shows the central tragedy of a liberal arts education: it gets harder and harder to enjoy things qua things.

-----------------------------

I think it's so interesting to see the marketing machine at work.  There's a musical artist I've really grown to enjoy, name of Corinne Bailey Rae.  She's a young woman from England, plays guitar and sings some of the silkiest, smokiest lite R&B, all with this lovely light lilt thanks to merry old England.  I first ran across her... 9 months ago or so?  It was through an ad on the All Music Guide that included an audio component, in this case the lead track off her self-titled album ("Like a Star").  I listened to other clips, decided I had to have it, and ordered it used from some 3rd-party Amazon seller; the album hadn't even been released in the States yet.  So a couple months went by, and I kept seeing her crop up.  First when her album was released in the US, then a couple of quick features in tv ads, you know, light marketing stuff.  And now finally, she was the featured musical artist on the in-show ep of Studio 60 during tonight's ep of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.  [Apologies to non-viewers, for whom that sentence may be confusing; there's this show-within-a-show thing that gets a bit tricky to enumerate.]  It's just fascinating to watch the machinery unfurl, is all.  Plus I think she's quite talented, so I'm glad to see Ms. Rae get so much exposure.

--------------------------------

I'm not sure if I can deal with Margaret Cho anymore.  It really pains me to say this, because that woman has made me nearly piss myself with laughter more times than I can count.  But it's her gay politics that are throwing me off.  Now, this will sound odd to anybody who has even a passing familiarity with Cho's work, because she's militantly gay-friendly.  She is a gay icon, folks.  But her brand of gay pride is just... ossified.  OK, this isn't making any sense, let me do it by way of an example.  In the last section of her show Revolution, which I was listening to as I washed a mountain of dishes tonight, she talks about how she would love to have a gay son.  And at one point, she makes this joke [light paraphrase, due to cloudy memory]: "And he would be a boy scout.  And he would teach the other boys how to light a fire with nothing but two sticks and a back-handed compliment."

First off, cards on the table: it's a funny line.  I laughed.  And hey, I'm all about gay boy scouts lighting fires with aptitude and whatever skills they bring to the table.  But it's also a really telling line, because it's rooted in a very particular, stylized conception of the Catty Gay Man.  Like most of the rest of her gay-based humor (and arguably the rest of her humor as well, but I'm not approaching that point here), it has recourse to a set of fixed stereotypes.  One could argue, of course, that this is the nature of the beast: in Anglo-American stand-up, much of the discourse is mediated by a certain caricatural lens that enables the comic to make broad statements out of particulars.  The excuse wears thin in Cho's case, however, because her purpose is not solely comedic; she also, in her own words, would like to start a liberal revolution of tolerance.  This means that she can't complacently expect her words to be evaluated only in the venue of comedy; they're subject to broader social pressure.

And in the light of the broader social pressure, it's not a beneficial discourse.  Rather than promoting a true equality, in which individuals would be free to express themselves in whatever manner they deemed fit, Cho ends up positing a system that defines a limited number of roles.  Instead of making a principled break from the constraints of society, she just ends up reinforcing a new orthodoxy.  And for those of us that aren't particularly enamored of the roles available in her system, it's no less restrictive than the old one she wishes to depose.

Backhanded compliment, indeed. 
yrmencyn: (armadillo)
I had thought that I might type about the fabulous day I had today, with all its craziness, and the boats made of cardboard and duct tape, and the firemen making jambalaya and spraying their hoses on us, or the jam session in the boys' lobby.

Or I had thought I might write about the current geopolitical status, and how it scares me but absolutely, positively, fails to surprise me in any way.

Instead, I'm going to write this little brief and bitchy open letter, because I just read a long entry from an old, dear friend that set my teeth on edge, and because I don't want to pick up the phone and THROTTLE YOU ALL TELEPHONICALLY, I'm going to use this as a cathartic outlet.  I have campers to teach and mold into sane, socially and personally responsible members of society tomorrow, and I'd prefer to get this out of my head, thank you very much.

Dear Jeff:  Cut the crap.  I know that writing is more formal, but really?  Come on.  We've talked a lot, man, I mean a whole damn lot, and I like to think that I know your thought process pretty well.  And you couch it in these technical phrases of enlightenment and big pictures, but jesus christ, it's a big fucking linguistic barrier, are you not getting this?  You scare me, you honestly do, because this Jeff that shows up in your entries is not the man I know, and I hate -- really, truly hate -- to think that the guy that I know and love and trust has somehow lost himself inside the overanalyzed persona that falls out onto the page.  We've got very different styles of dealing with life, the universe, and everything, and I know and respect that (to the best of my occasionally inadequate abilities), but there comes a point when it feels like you've gone off the deep end and I would be the worse a friend not to say so.  This is that point.  "I don't care what I eat, or who I have sex with, or blah blah blah so long as it gets me through to the future"? [Obviously paraphrasing and summarizing there.]  Jeff, what's the point of living for the future if all that means is you slog through the bleak, vacant wasteland of the present?  What about when you get to that mystical land of milk and honey, The Future?  It's going to be the present, and then are you just going to slog through it like the current one?  That's no way to live.  At some point you've got to decide that you're in a present worth engaging in.  Take the advice you gave Jan, and decide to actually live your life.  I love you, and I'm looking forward to seeing you in September, and I hope that I can be a part of that life.

Dear world:  OMG, teh dramas.  OK, I've been informed innumerable times in the past that I'm a Pollyanna, forever lamenting, "Why can't people just get along?"  For the most part, I've gone along with the implicit judgment that I'm a silly, silly little boy to have my cute little fantasies of people being nice to each other and just getting along.  You know what?  I am so through with that bullshit.  I am not wrong here, people.  Fine, great, not everybody's going to get along.  Hell, I don't get along with everybody, I'll be the first to admit it.  But in general, I look at people around me, and I just do not understand why everyone takes everything so goddam seriously.  There are certain things in this life that are deathly serious, and they should be regarded with a great deal of respect.  The list of deathly serious things?  Really quite short.  I won't even attempt to enumerate it, since it's different for different people, but I'm reasonably sure that most people's personally compiled list is FAR longer than it needs to be.  Chill the fuck out.  Get along, like normal civilized people.  And I don't mean just put a nice face on it and smile at cocktail parties, I mean really and truly let it go.  The really, really, really important things?  Strive for them.  The rest?  Dross, and distractions.
yrmencyn: (armadillo)
OK, so.  Network Neutrality, and the possible advent of a tiered access system.  I've been hearing about this for a while, but if MoveOn's wading into the fray I guess it's a big enough issue for me to write about.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you should read here (there's some definite bias in the write-up, but it's the best I have at the moment).  And you shouldn't just read it because it'll enable you to understand what I'm blathering about, you should read it because it's an issue which is of vital importance to all of us as internet users, no matter what side of the issue you're on.

Me, I don't know what side I'm on.

I realize that as a good little party-line liberal I'm supposed to go "Fire bad!" when MoveOn waves its magic wand, but honestly my first reaction (when I read about this in some opinion piece somewhere) was to say "meh."  Seriously, "meh."  Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe in the free and unrestricted flow of information in a society, since I believe that that is what leads to an informed public, and therefore to a more open and tolerant society.  See, I still have my lib cred.  But there's another side of the coin here.  I'm not, in fact, a good little party-line liberal.  I believe not only in free and unrestricted information flow, but also in a free market.  And in a free market... money talks.  And if money wants to buy better services, well, that's not new.  This has been the case in almost every industry for quite a long time.  And I'm sympathetic to the telecom companies, because I do realize that network traffic is on an astronomical upswing, and despite what we the consumer would like to think... bandwidth is far from a limitless resource. 

So here's the deal: you don't want tiered access, right?  You want everybody on the same access level, equivalent to telephone's common carriage laws?  Amen, brother.  But if you don't allow telecom companies to gather more income by offering expanded services to a subset of users, something else has to give.  One option is to raise prices across the board, because that's the flip side of common carriage: common pricing.  Another option is to give some (more) sort of government subsidy, or, casting our hypothetical nets further, state control.

Am I just misreading the cards?  Because it seems as if this is a no-win situation.  Something's going to happen that we're not going to like.  The question is merely one of determining the least of the evils.

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December 2009

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