Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ramblings for the Evening (11/17/07)

I find it fascinating that as I prepare to return to anonymity, more people want to get to know me and want to read the blog. It's Murphy's Law: you tell people they can't have it or won't get it anymore, and they desperately need it. Keep it there, and no one cares.
Let's get to it.
So, without further ado: REXIE
Around the Interweb:
When I get Insomnia, which is frequent, I start searching around the web for interesting facts, tidbits, and sites to read.

I don't use
Twitter. There are a few people I know (including some readers) who Twitter constantly.
However, I can see the value in it.
That's why I present an interesting link to the Writers' Strike.
You can get an interesting look at how things are going from
this link.
Otherwise, you can find some resources for the strike

Let's say, however, that the whole shutdown is not your thing. Maybe coffee is your thing. In the modern society, people have begun to stop going to coffee shops and make just single servings of coffee (The Leab Lair currently has a
Keurig). If you want more information about the machines and coffees available, then I recommend The site gives you reviews, recipes, and everything else you might need.

Finally, I recommend
DVD Verdict. This site has reviews from viewers like me about DVD releases. The best part, however, is they tell you whether or not you should buy the DVD. For example, as the holiday season approaches, movie studios are putting out shiny new versions of already released films. The reviewers will tell you honestly if the upgrade is worth it.
Do You Hear that Cliquing Sound?:
I am a very reasonable person, but I find it fascinating that Cyberspace is almost exactly like real life: people get into cliques and have a really hard time getting out of them.
Look at
MNSpeak, for example. If you're part of the clique, then more links appear to things that you write. If you aren't, then you're nothing more than a lurker or a troll. I've been a part of the site ever since Rex put me on a link, but if I comment or try to post, the piece is either ignored (including a wonderful comment of "Who the hell is this guy") or it turns into a stupid troll fest where the end point is nowhere near what was mentioned.

It's sad but true that life is really like high school. You will fall in with like people, you will have a group that you shun or shuns you, and people are afraid of ideas that challenge their beliefs.

I find it fascinating that many of the MNSpeakers take shots at Hipsters...and then act just like them. It's the kids who get bullied and then when they have power...bully other people.
Look, I like the site alot, but if the point is to not only get information across to the public, but also bring Minnesotans together, it's failing. The originals are starting to abandon the site.

And as I finish this piece, I would bet someone from the site will read it and bitch. Maybe I'm wrong, but it had a different feel only a year ago.

And finally....
It Burns:
Warning: the following story is not for the faint of heart or those afraid of the dentist. If you are either of those, skip this piece all together.

You've been warned.

I had to return to the dentist to have the tooth from the
last time I was there checked on by the doctor. It pretty much hasn't stopped bleeding since the root canal, but that's not the point right now. It needed to be checked and a filling needed to be put in on my rear-most tooth.
As a surprise, everything was going well, though it looks like I will need to schedule a second surgery for July (along with another surgery for myself that I'm not going into right now).
So the dentist finishes the tooth and all looks well. Now the hygienist steps in and begins that final process of making sure the bite is even. If it isn't, she has to grind the tooth down. This is what was happening as the problem occurred.

The dental light was tipped too far forward, so the heat was not able to escape and went right at the bulb. As the bulb gets hotter and hotter, the heat inside needs to be released. If the air can't go up and out, it cooks the bulb until it literally breaks.

Or in my case, it explodes. This is what happened as I lay there.

I warned the woman that something was wrong, I could see smoke wisping out. I pointed, but it was too late. The bulb exploded and glass showered down over me and the hygienist...and it burned.

Worse still, the hygienist had to cover herself, which means she jerked and the grinder/drill went into my cheek.

So, my head is burning where the glass landed, and my cheek has been twisted by whatever tool dug into the flesh. The other hygieniest, who happened to be passing by in the hallway, freaked out and ran to get a wet towel. I almost think that she (and the rest of the office) were afraid that I was badly burned and would sue.

Honestly, I felt worse for gal working on my mouth. While I just had hot glass on my head and arms, she got some down the back of her neck. Not so easy to shake off. I hope she's ok.

It just goes to show you:

1. I'm not supposed to be at the dentist. Bad things keep happening to me there, and

2. Sometimes when a client not in the know tells you something is wrong, be prepared.
Of course, what do I know? I don't listen when a student says, "I'm too dumb to get this." I could be wrong.
Thirteen days.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ramblings for the Evening (11/13/2007)

The countdown continues. Roughly seventeen days until this blog goes dark...kind of like Broadway, but that's another story.
Let's get to it....
So without further ado: BOOGIE!
The Cost of Politics:
By now everyone knows the story about Stephen Colbert and his attempt to run for President in only South Carolina.
What I find fascinating is the immense difference in the filing fee.

Democratic filing fee: $2,500
Republican filing fee: $35,000

The almost $33,000 difference illustrates the problem with modern politics: he (or she) with the most money will almost always win.

Now maybe this will be wrong, but so far I believe the last few elections have worked this way. Examples of cash can be seen here.

So, if the race is truly about money, here's my idea: do away with the whole election process. The electoral college is unbalanced, the whole "absentee" and "electronic" ballet issue means it's easy to cheat, and most people don't like to wait in line in order to decide. With the writers on strike (more on that later), I propose a 13 episode reality series along the lines of Project Runway (which my wife is anxiously awaiting with bated not so much). This can go one of two ways (and this is all copyrighted, so no stealing...Hollywood...I'm watching).

1. We get 12 candidates: 5 GOP, 5 Democrat, and 2 Independent (numbers work this out right). Each candidate has exactly thirteen weeks to raise as much money as possible through a series of challenges. The first challenge could be actually walking the street and trying to get money from the people. Businesses, however, cannot dump huge chunks on these people (sorry Oil, Special Interests, and such). Each week, a candidate is released after he or she fails to raise enough money (lowest goes..and so on). In the end, there will be two candidates, and here is where America gets to decide. This can be done in one of two ways as well.

A. Each person gets one phone call. Whoever has the most calls, wins. No phone banking, no repeat dialing. Or...

B. Everyone in America gets to donate $1 to the candidate of choice. Whoever has the most money, wins.

Now if this ideas doesn't sound pleasant, let's try...

2. A la Project Runway, we have a panel of ex-presidents, presidential candidates, and respected journalists (such as Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ross Perot [the sassy voice on the panel], and Walter Cronkite). We then follow our candidates through a series of challenges and debates. One could be talking to a room full of people registered for the other party, for example. In the end, three candidates are left (here it's preferably a GOP, a Democrat, and an Independent, but you never know), and they face off in debates, and a big challenge: convincing their worst enemy or political foe (for Democrats, Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter; for Republicans, Al Franken and Bill Maher) that the candidate is the right man or woman for the job. The panel then picks the winner, and we have the next President of the United States.
It would work. If only we could work in Tim Gunn....
Seven/Ten Split...or Strike:

Both ends of the spectrum are on strike. In Hollywood, the writers have walked out. At the same time the stagehands walked off the job. Again, this seems to be happening at the right time for certain shows and horribly wrong time for others. Let's start in L.A.

The writers walk, taking some actors with them, and now many of the networks are spinning up cheap replacements in the form of reality shows. What's interesting is that many of the networks seem to want to use these reality shows. It's pretty easy to see why:

Advertisers have already bought the ad time, so the networks have the money. With the shows on hiatus, the networks have cheaper replacements that cost little to make and have high revenue. No wonder Newscorp keeps vetoing any contract talks. They want the money.

Just look at some of these shows:

Celebrity Apprentice: "Stars" compete for Donald Trump's thumbs up.

Amnesia: Dennis Miller (why?) asks contestants to recall moments in their lives.

Farmer Wants a Wife: (My favorite) A farmer gets to choose a city gal to be his betrothed.

American Gladiators: It's back...with Hulk Hogan. Woot?

Do You Trust Me?: Ironically enough, the host is Tucker Carlson...oh and the show is about contestants having confidence in each other.

It just keeps going. Personally I love this strike, because it means that bad movies will be on hold, TV shows can take a moment to think about the scripts instead of rushing them, and maybe now...people will read more...or maybe go to the theatre...WAIT A SECOND.

On the opposite coast, the stagehands walked out of most shows. There are only eight still going:

1. “Cymbeline”

2. “Mary Poppins”

3. “Mauritius”

4. “Pygmalion”

5. “The Ritz”

6. “Young Frankenstein”

7. “Xanadu”

8. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

What a boon for these shows that they have a separate union contracts and can continue. As for the rest...well...many people have been getting refunds, and after a few days, Broadway is asking for financial help.

Now as a techy, I see why they're striking. They want better pay and new work rules that keeps them safe. Isn't that what everyone wants? Good pay and a safe place to work. How could that be wrong?
Two (Sadly) Down:
Two people that I admire died recently.
The first, though it may sound funny, is Robert Goulet.
The second is Norman Mailer.
Goulet was one of those guys who really had no problem making fun of himself, and he was a genuinely nice guy. For the modern generation he'll probably be remembered as nothing more than the guy in those Emerald Nuts commercials, but he had quite a voice.
Mailer is different. He may not have been the nicest person in the world, but he wrote one of, if not the best, World War II stories: The Naxed and the Dead.
If you haven't read the book, do it now. Stop reading this, and go pick up the book.
Mailer, in the fiftieth anniversary of the book, mused on Tolstoy and explained his reasoning behind creating characters that struggle to retain dignity in the face of war:
"Compassion is of value and enriches our life only when compassion is severe, which is to say when we can perceive everything that is good and bad about a character but are still able to feel that the sum of us as human beings is probably a little more good than awful. In any case, good or bad, it reminds us that life is like a gladiators' arena for the soul and so we can feel strengthened by those who endure, and feel awe and pity for those who do not."
How can I possibly follow that up?
Seventeen days.