Thursday, August 6, 2009

[insert sarcastic comment here]

Well, isn't this a depressing chart. From a recent University of Maryland survey, that asked respondents in several countries how high a priority the government should place on climate change.

Please note that China and India are sky high (8.86 and 7.52 respectively). Granted, those countries are the ones whose governments are resisting action on climate change...

Where are we? oh, that's right...4.71. Who else couldn't get or barely got a majority?

Iraq and the Palestinian Territories.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Auto tune the news rocks....

So the new Auto Tune the News was released a few days ago. #7!! if you haven't seen them, do yourself a favor and set aside a half hour to do so.

Musically, its not as good as #s 6 and 3, but, the meta ironies abound.

The lyrics they interject are for the most part about or a comment about the disparate treatment and conidions of whites and blacks. From there, they go into race relations.

Race relations!

oooh, the ironies.

Firstly, the Gregories and their friend are rapping, which is steeped in Black American cutlture: from the funk rap of Grandmaster Flash, to the East Coast, West Coast rivalry, to Topac to Biggie Smalls, to P Diddy, Lauren Hill, to Kanye West, and on and on. Whats more, its an auto-tuned electronica rap, a style popularized by T-Pain and Kanye West.

This is the musical genre a bunch of white kids chose to talk race relations.

ooooh, and it gets better.

They then feature Congressman Dan Lungren, and his speech on the house floor in which he rewrote the lyrics of "Trouble" from the Music Man. This is an - probably unintentional - homage to white's rap roots, and a time when Meredith Willson profited from the popularization of an early form of rap.

And to cap it all off, the end with setting Katie Couric on auto-tune and letting her run wild. (remind me, next time i need a melody for something, to just auto-tune Katie). Whats her topic? Texting. A Millenial mode of communication. Go figure...i saw a Gen-Y connection and i pointed it out =p

And yet...

this discussion ends playing on a Gen-Y matter/device. And when seen through the prism of the Millenial's Laissez-faire multiculuralism, the three white kids rapping - dressed in their rap/hip-hop finest and spouting "Shawty" - doesn't seem out of place at all.

I swear, this thing is an unintentional college thesis on cultrual integration and race relations waiting to happen.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

A follow-up to Police Abuse of Disorderly Conduct Arrests

1st Amendment Rights vs. the Police. Who wins?

The Police, apparently.

More people should have a problem with this. Cops have dangerous jobs. I get that and i appreciate them keeping the peace.

But are they really so thin-skinned as to stoop to using their very measurable power to arrest those who simply insult them? That's sad. In the words of Amy Poehler as Hilary Clinton: "Grow a pair. And if now, i will lend you mine."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Srsly Birthers? wtf? Are you moronic, or just pretending?

So, i waited a few days to say anything about watercooler-talk-de-week...indeed, The One Near Colombia, The One In Brooklyn and I talked about it over wings and beer on monday at Barrow St. I'm talking about the whole thing with Henry Louis Gates, the professor who was arrested in his own home. oh, i'm sorry...on his porch.

(heh, you thought i was going to say the Birthers, huh? well. i got nothing to say on them. My forehead hurts with the number of times i've facepalmed over them. well, i'll say that they and Lou Dobbs are freaking morons, and should come back to the reality based community)

I just had one gut reaction to this whole thing: umm...Gates was in his own home. it had been established he was in his own home. established. Crowley had been told and had it confirmed that the home was indeed Gates'. Once the police know that it wasn't a break-in, that Gates had just been locked out and had to force his way in, they have no further reason to be there.


Here's a thought. I pay taxes. Gates pays taxes. Policemen and women are public servants...we pay their salaries. Crowley had no grounds - whatsoever - to arrest Gates. I don't care if Gates was being annoying and yelling at the cops (a point that is, in fact, disputed by the tapes of the 911 calls). Its called the first amendment. These are public servants, and we have a right to let them know exactly what we think of them.

And we have the right to do it without fear of being arrested. Insulting an officer is not a crime, and not an arrestable offense.

So, in the words of Obama...yeah, the police acted stupidly.

Now, you'll notice i have said nothing about race. Do i think Crowley is racist? no. But i think there were racial influences.

lets be honest. the transcript of the 911 call shows that the caller said nothing about the two people "breaking in" being black. That was an assumption on the part of the police when they reached the scene.

Now, i don't think that's racist. that was, partly, them suspecting who was at the scene when they arrived. however, i do think its an underpinning of race relations in this country. Is that sad? eh. buts also reality. And thats where we live.

Unless you're a Birther. Then there's just no hope for you.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ricci and Godwin's Law

ok, this is a little dated, but i felt like posting something, and this has been in my thoughts for a while.

Have you ever heard of Godwin's Law? Basically, it says that the longer an online conversation goes on, the probability of an analogy involving Hitler or the Nazi's approaches 1. It is the ultimate way to win online, hands down. If the other side makes an inappropriate or nonsensical analogy to the Nazi's/Hitler ("well you know who was a failed painter? HITLER!!"), you just claim Godwin's Law and you win. done.

I feel we need something like that in political discourse for 9/11.

When the Ricci case first came to national attention (i offer no opinion on it only because the Supreme Court has ruled on it, and i am of the opinion that once they rule....well, thats that. They've been wrong before, but lets be honest. They rule, we follow. its the way we go.) when it first came to attention, i was watching Hardball with Chris Matthews and he and his guests were discussing it. If you don't know the Ricci case, go ahead and learn something. the internet will wait patiently for you to return.

It was a good conversation, with, ya know, interesting points being made. but at the end, Chris said something to the effect of "And lets not forget that many of the guys who rushed into those buildings on September 11th were Irish." And he said it as if he was making the ultimate point in the world.

i'm sorry...what? What the hell does that add to the conversation? Say what you will about him, Chris is a pretty smart political talker. how the hell does 9/11 fit into a conversation about reverse discrimination? It was an out of left field comment that had cursury - at best - influence on the conversation.

And i think we need a Godwin's law for 9/11, so someone could have called it right there and put Chris and his ludicrous comment in his place. Done and done.

So in honor of Chris and Sarah Palin and most politicians, i propose the following:

"The longer a political discusion continues, the probability of a reference to the Troops or 9/11 approches 1."



Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oh Billy Elliot, How Did You Win the Tony?

oh right. its fixed to give increased sales.

So, i saw Billy Elliot last night with my Uncle and a few others. It was good, i'll admit that freely. I enjoyed myself, i felt for (some of) the characters, i liked the dancing.

oh, and there was a plot and a backdrop, too.

Ok, that last statement is a bit unfair. But perhaps the biggest flaw in the show was its was just too long! I like long shows, but when they deserve it. The first act had a movable plot, things happened, characters changed, etc etc...but the second act could have been 30 minutes shorter and told everything it needed to. Especially a few completely useless scenes, but i'll get into that.

First, what i liked!

Like Chicago i found myself enjoying aspects of the show, rather than the whole. Like the dancing, and a few of the songs, and part of the plot.

The Angry Dance? In context, its a little bit devastating. (Though, out of context and as a matter of form, the Electricity Dance is better suited) And Tommy Batchelor dances really, really well. Does he dance better than me? umm..yeah, he does. that should be obvious. But there was always a feeling i had during, and looking back on, Billy's actual dances where i just felt like i wanted him to let loose and go crazy, ya know?

But he's 13, and that may not exactly be something one can ask of him. And in the end (to use the shows vernacular) he is one sodderingly talented kid.

The other dance (and one that i felt got short shrift by the audience) that i truely enjoyed was the Grandmother's "don't lift a finger." "We'd go dancing." [thank you, anonymous and insulting commenter for correcting the title of that song. i didn't have the program in front of me] Its a hazy, smoke-filled, memory driven song, in which you can barely make out the 10 or so dancers faces. The dance uses the vastness of the stage to great effect, slowly shifting chairs to each other and making their entire journey over the course of the song one in which they simply cross the stage. Just breathtaking.

I'll also note that that particular song was...oh, 20, 30 minutes into the show. it was the 3rd listed song, and the first one i found the least bit interesting. Bad sign.

And then came a chorus of policemen (whom i half expected to break out into Pirates of Penzance) and the song "Solidarity." And i thought "oh, so the music gets better as it goes along. i can swing with that." yeah, that was wrong.

Anyways, the dance for Solidarity was one of the highlights of the show. Billy in the ballet class full of girls looks out of place. and then he starts to improve. As the song goes on, the police and coal miners start dancing as well, i ntheir own world. But they are dancing ballet...and they look extraordinarily out of place. And when the kids - including Billy - join them in the ballet, they look even more awkward. And Billy, who a moment before seemed out of place, looks quite natural, like he was supposed to be there all along.

it was a nice bit of staging and juxtaposition.

One last positive thing i would like to highlight. And this is something i don't think i've ever said about a show before but...the lighting. omg the lighting was genius. Making use of the ample bare wall at the back of the stage, two low spotlights shone up onto Billy, casting 2 huuuge shadows behind him as he danced. And moments when billy was trapped in boxes of light in the Angry Dance or elsewhere. Or backlighting so Billy is only a sillohette. Or no lighting at all, just lights on mining helmets as they slowly sink undergroud for the final time. Well deserving of the Tony.

And the Negative...

Ok, now that i've got my positives out of the way...Look, the show didn't deserve a Tony for best Musical. Plain and simple. 1/3 of the show was brilliant, but thats not enough. Thats enough to be on Broadway, but not enough to be called this year's best new show. 1/3 was brilliant, 1/6 was just good, and 1/2 was just boring. the show dragged! a lot! especially in the second act.

I've never seen the movie, but i didn't have to. Was there any doubt, ever, in my mind, if Billy's father would come around? That they would take the scab money to get to London? That Billy would be accepted? that his father would end up being proud, and that Billy would leave in the end? NO!! None whatsoever! And while Billy's dad sure as hell acted his ass off to make it interesting, thats just not enough. The plot moves all of 2 feet in the second act, and it takes forever to do so.

oh ho, but thats not the most mystifyingly bad part of the show.

Look the play was basically realism (as realism as you can get with, ya know, a music with people breaking out into song). But it was when the show left these broad, realist strokes and indulged in gay-fantastical flights of fancy that the show really just got weird.

You're going, Ok, realism yes, i'm with you, i'm with you...oh, how cute. the little friend is a cross dresser and is getting billy to do it too. the song is kinda cute, in a "you gotta have a gimmik" kind of way....wait....why are there vaudeville lights on the stage now? waIT!! WhY iS there a shimmer curtain now!? WHY ARE PEOPLE DRESSED AS DRESSES DANCING ONSTAGE!??!

ugh...and why is the audience clapping for that? though i will say, for an understudy, the kid who played Michael sure knew how to milk that applause...

And then in the second act, with Billy dancing with his older self? that was a 6 minute useless segment that could have been cut, and then i would have has a little less time to think about the dinner i just had and how i should go back there.

Finally, i'll just say that it was an overall...weak cast. Maybe i just didn't see the right Billy. But the Father and Grandmother weren't enough to bring the show along, and i just felt the power of the cast is definitely lacking.

Oh, and the ending was obviously supposed to make you feel something as Billy walks down the aisle and away from his old life for good. But i swear, by that point i was screaming Monty Python at them: "Just get on with it!"

SO! to Sum up...

Dancing = good, but makes for a slow plot in which there is no suspense. 1/3 brilliant, but the rest was just too lackluster to make up for it. And a seemingly weak cast didn't help that much. The Angry Dance is a little devastating on context, but looking back i can't help but want to see it a little more wild, or maybe in the hands of a more experienced, older dancer. "Solidarity" and "Finger" "Dancing" are the highlights of an otherwise forgettable score, including a few songs that should have been cut. And don't delve in to kid's imagination in the middle of a show you are protraying as gritty just doesn't flow.

And he's 13 years can that kid dance.

But in the end, N2N deserved the tony. Bubble? you've been burst.

Monday, September 8, 2008

a pair of pieces

The One in Kentucky asked for these, and i realised that i never posted these online. So i figure i'd post 'em, and ya'll can make fun of me for it =P

they're meant as bookends, fyi

"To Fall"

The sky, like lips, opens wide
to take our breath
and rain down its promise:
a kind of weeping kindness
in which the heat is rent.

A little hope is found; rebounds,
resounding in the dark and empty hall,
filled with trunks and unhung lights.
We stand - tiny taped off boxes mark the spaces.
We stand - tiny, empty, taped up boxes.

A flash of light, like rain laid out
in words upon a novel.
We fall: to feel the breeze.

No more. We shall unlock the door.
We shall not be afraid

"The Breeze Ends"

The sky, as lips, closes again
reclaiming its bounty and promise.
No more the storm, again the dry.
There is peace in rain, a great release
that sweeps away the pieces of sand
that play in little boxes.

So long it took, so long.
The rain still in the air, and the ground
had yet to dry.

But now the rooftops shimmer
as forgotten, secret places -
more the one than the others.
The heat returns - no longer
rent by rain.

We fall: to feel the breeze.
It is a lesson, taught and learned.
No more afraid, but again the way is locked.
And yet, i beg the storm to come again.