Friday, March 25, 2011

Where Do I Go to Sign the "Burn the Fairgrounds" Petition?

South Nashville must be full of idiots. Except me, of course. And Stoker.

There's a lot to love in the area. I'm not kidding, though it may be difficult from time to time to see, because, well, there are A LOT of used tire shops in the area. Some of them in former banks, which is very architecturally incongruent when you can see the tires piled to the ceiling beyond the beautiful glass store front and the columns lining the sidewalk. But hey. You can't lose with architectural columns.

As well, there's no shortage of used car lots ("BUY HERE, PAY HERE!!!!!" "WORLD'S FIRST DRIVE THRU USED CAR LOT!!!!"). And there are plenty of title loan stores and instant cash places. And pawn shops. Plenty.

Beyond these questionable aspects are the cool things. Like the FIRST EVER Krispy Kreme donut shop. Some might want to firebomb the place for having turned donut-making into a Henry Ford assembly line, thus ruining the art of the donut. Not me. Of course...others.

But since we're on the subject, I prefer REAL donuts, like those you can get at The Donut Den in the Green Hills area of Nashville (aka, the RICH AREA). Once in a while a Krispy Kreme donut is OK. Like when they're right off the assembly line. They have that new car smell.

Anyway, there's also La Hacienda, which serves the BEST Mexican food in Nashville. I'm not lying. There's a tortilla factory out back too. I've written about this stuff before, I think, so I'll spare you.

In any case, there's a lot to love. And lots of people are saying (or were saying, anyway) that this area was gentrifying. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But I'll tell you one thing that's really not helping.

The idiots who want to "save our fairgrounds."


Let me get this straight. These people would choose to KEEP a pile of crap Pinto rather than trade it in for a Mercedes? Essentially that's what they're saying.

You know what MIGHT happen if we got rid of those stupid fairgrounds? That piece o' shee (to quote my sister) tire recapping shop, whose lot looks like a biohazard (I swear sometimes I think, "I'm seriously going to call OSHA." I don't even know if OSHA cares about stuff like that, but this Dumpster looks like a nuclear waste site at the end of the day, every day), might actually GET LOST because it sucks so bad, and without the lame race track at the fairgrounds, I'm pretty sure the dude who runs the shop will want to move it closer they need a tire recapping shop.

And if we got rid of the nasty fairgrounds, perhaps then some PRODUCTIVE businesses might decide to move in. And maybe property values would increase. Yeah, I know that would increase property taxes, but at least south Nashville wouldn't look like Germany after WWII, for once.

Honestly, I don't know what it is about the fairgrounds that this part of the city would resist the change. It would be an upgrade.

Is the flea-market seriously THAT important to the economy of South Nashville? Is it? Because, you know, the flea-market wouldn't have to die should the fairgrounds disappear. If the flea-market is so necessary and important and beloved, it will survive. It might have to move, but it would survive.

Same with the teeny-bopper races or derby or whatever it is that sounds like a swarm of bees during summer nights.

And, Tennessee, I hate to tell you, but the state fair is kind of crappy. One would think that a state with such a long history (in terms of U.S. history) and so much agriculture would have one of the largest, most kick-butt state fairs in the Union. It should be as wicked-awesome as a musical, like State Fair (that musical has an awesome state fair in it, doesn't it? I've never actually seen it. But with a name like State Fair.....), with people driving all the way from Knoxville just to get a look at the best pig in show. And all that. You would think!

But no. I went to the state fair last year and it was the most dismal affair ever. It was weak. If it was going to wrestle (Greco-Roman style), it would be in the lightest weight class. Like 110, if that. I know. That's like junior high weight. That's how pitiful the Tennessee State Fair is compared to other state fairs.

What fairs am I comparing it to? Well.

I'm from Utah, as you've probably noticed. When I have gone to the state fair in Utah, there was so much to see and do that I couldn't get to all of it in one night. The Tennessee State Fair? Yeah, it took me a half-hour, if that, to see what there was to offer.

Unfortunately, this map doesn't show topographical changes. If it did, you'd just stay home. It does, however, show how small the event is. The gray stuff is parking.

Plus, it's on a dang hill. Several rolling hills, really. So you walk up a huge hill to the two ticket booths (that's all they need--two ticket booths), pay, and walk up more hill, to the six rides. Then you walk past those to the tiny building where canned things are and the displays about honey and whatnot. There's also a little building for the kitschy, fun things, but there are only like five booths there. Beyond that is a children's play-house size building for the farm animal things. Next door to that there are three rides for the kiddies.

I exaggerate. But only by a fraction. It feels more like a tiny county fair. It really is the smallest state fair in the world. I bet Rhode Island has a bigger state fair.

So, you might be thinking, well heck, what about the gun shows? Yeah, what about them? I've gone to the gun show at the fairground twice and both times it was crap. The actual gun show could be hosted in a banquet hall. I'm sure there's a better venue for the gun show. And, if it's so economically fantastic for gun shop owners, it won't die. It will just move. That's how these things work.

Saving a tired, worn out, ugly site for the mere sake of saving it stunts changes that could be much better for the city and its residents economically. Especially when you consider what a large swath of land the fairground consume just by its mere existence. And for the larger part of the year, that land sits there empty, looking like an eye-sore.

I don't really understand why many of the residents around the fairgrounds are so eager to "save" it. I can only guess. And my guess is that they lack vision.

I wish I could go talk to Karl Dean and tell him, "Don't give up, man. Rip those hideous fairgrounds out and put in a park, a shopping center, ANYTHING. Anything would be better."

Maybe if they can move the state fair to a better location (read, not on a couple of mucky hills), the fair can improve. And compete with the awesome Utah State Fair*.

And finally, to demonstrate the stunted thinking of people around Nashville, I refer you to this site that features this quote:

How do I feel personally about the closing of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds? Well, if you don't already know by now, I think it stinks. This wonderful ole place, one that has given Nashvillians so many great memories, family fun, and plenty of racing history is about to be wiped away in the name of progress. To me, progress would be to improve on the existing property in a way that would also preserve its historical value as well as incorporate and blend with the local neighborhood.
I would wager that Jan Duke doesn't live in south Nashville, near the fairgrounds. Though I might be surprised, since there are plenty of backward thinking fools in the neighborhood sporting "save our fairgrounds" signs. Anyway, it's nice of Jan to give us her opinion. Maybe she can come live next to the fairgrounds, if she doesn't already, so she can reap all the blessings of the important racing history, with all its joyful sounds.

p.s. The "local neighborhood" has largely been stunted by the presence of the fairgrounds. So, in addition to the few homes in the area, there's the Coke bottling plant, several industrial type complexes, dismal and run-down looking liquor stores, a plot of land that seems to store rail-cars, and a mobile home park (that was wiped out during the flooding last year). So, yeah, let's BLEND the fairgrounds with the neighborhood. Real great idea, Jan.

*Lest you think I'm simply full of home-state pride, my friend from Kentucky said the Kentucky State Fair is also a million times better than the TN State Fair.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Pro Red Cross Post

I want to throw out my support for the Red Cross right now, as events unfold in Japan.

I know everyone is most likely pro-Red Cross, but before last May, I wasn't. I mean, I wasn't anti-Red Cross, I was just skeptical. And I know admitting that will only further your suspicions that I'm as insensitive as I always joke of being, but it's worth the risk to convey that I'm now a Red Cross supporter.

Before last May, I was suspicious of what the Red Cross did with their donations. I had seen a pie-chart somewhere that showed that a large portion of donations went to administrative support, and that bothered me for some reason.

After the flood in Nashville last May, the first group to notice what was happening and rush to our assistance (at least, they were the first group I saw) was the Red Cross. I remember driving down Franklin road and seeing their vans and trucks at a church and feeling enormously grateful to have them there. I might have cried a little (sometimes my icy heart melts).

View of downtown Nashville from East Nashville after the rain stopped during the May 2010 flood. 

When you can't simply pack up and leave because you LIVE in a place that's just been destroyed by a natural disaster*, the presence of someone from the outside world (so to speak) is a source of comfort and solace. Someone has noticed and is there to help. As resourceful as an individual can be and as prepared as they might be before a disaster, there's a point when a person can't do much more and must rely on assistance.

I know this because even though I had practiced emergency preparedness before the flooding last year, water can wipe out all you've done very quickly. It comes without warning, almost. And if you've put your emergency supplies in the basement, and the basement is the first thing to take on water, unless you can move it quick, the water takes it (this happened to us).

The same goes for tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, which can dismantle all your careful preparation in a matter of seconds.


The day Stoker and I saw the Red Cross at that church, serving my city, my heart changed. I think I said as much to Stoker and I told him about the pie chart I'd seen depicting where donation money went and he said something like, "Well, an organization that's going to be first to respond like they do is probably going to need to spend a lot on administrative work. So let them spend it like that, if it's going to help them get to the scene quicker. After this, I'll give them money any time they need it."

And it's a good point. He's right, and logistically, an organization that responds as fast as they do (and I've seen it with my own eyes; they're FAST), is going to have some serious overhead to deal with.

It was good to feel like someone had noticed what was happening in Nashville. No one else did, really. I remember that the Tide, Loads of Hope trucks came eventually and helped people wash their clothes (so I think they're great too), which was also invaluable, since water was being rationed because one of the water treatment plants was down. So many people had no clean clothes after the flood. Their houses were wiped out before they could pack up and run (many people had to swim to safety).

In any case, I'll never be stingy when the Red Cross is asking for help. I never paid close attention to natural disasters and relief projects until I had gone through my own. I know Nashville was fairly overlooked last May because there were a bunch of other good stories for the media to focus on (read: stories that could be used to further political agendas), such as the sinister-sounding Deep Water Horizon crisis and the bomb scare in NYC.

I'm not saying those things weren't scary or important. But I tend to think that because the flood in Nashville couldn't be attributed to a specific political party in some way, it was overlooked. No one whined about being a victim. There was no way to turn it into something that could help the liberal or conservative cause. It just happened and it sucked.

The problems in Japan are incredible. It's frustrating and sad and my prayers are with them. The media is going wild over it not only because of the amount of devastation, which is truly horrifying, but also because it will inevitably be angled against nuclear power, not that this has anything to do with the Red Cross. I just had to say it because it's true and it was waiting for me to say it. And I took the bait.

Anyway, I think the Red Cross is great. I know the people of Japan will be thankful for them.

*In case you're skeptical of the amount of damage middle Tennessee endured because of the 2010 May flood because you never heard about it, here's the Wikipedia entry (which has some statistics), video montage, and some news footage.

More Reasons to Cancel Your Facebook Account

Perhaps the best part of Facebook is the fact that you can gawk at the apparent traffic accidents of your friends and family's lives as they crash and burn. And, not only that, they essentially televise it for the entertainment of all their connections in some kind of proud display of their total awesomeness . . . so, that's even more heartening to think about.

This only works, of course, if you have an opinion about what people ought to be doing and the choices they ought to be making. So the safest way to approach Facebook is sans opinion, and since I can't do that, the few moments I check in to Facebook, I often end up selecting "hide all posts by X."

I know. I'm such a jerk that I would want to shield myself from the torture of thinking, "Holy crap! What on EARTH are they thinking? WHY WHY WHY, FOR THE LOVE, WHY ARE THEY DOING THAT?"

Also, I'm such a judgmental toad to think that my values, ideas, and expectations are right and not totally unrealistic. These are, after all, just people being people. Right?

Sorry. But I take a different tack on that kind of stuff.

People aren't just people being people. There is good, bad, and evil (as I covered in my recent Charlie Sheen post), and when you sow good, you reap good, and so on. And no, this isn't just "the human condition" as I used to think while still in college. Yes, yes, believe me. I was one of those naive idiots who worshiped the notion that there's really something beautiful about human suffering, existence, and "the condition."

I went to movies at the art cinema in Logan, Utah and thought deep thoughts, spurred by the artistic statements being made by truly creative independent film makers. I'd go for walks late at night and stare at the glow of windows emanating from the houses lining the streets and weep to Wilco's "Sunken Treasure" (because, I mean, that's a great song. And I still think that. But I also think, "Buck up, man!" so, yes, I am probably an insensitive jerk if I can think that about such a gorgeous song) as I pondered my place in the universe*.

So, I've been there. Done that. I want you to know, because it's imperative to understand that I haven't just arrived at this location on my lifelong trajectory without having passed through my own valleys of shadow and whatnot. I've got SOME experience. I've made lots of insane choices and suffered lots of undesirable consequences.

But luckily, most of those choices were made before Facebook existed. So no one had to feel like they were right there with me, watching me being a complete moron. I mean, I'm sure my mom and dad saw some of that and it probably ripped their hearts out, and for that I'm sorry (for real). I wish I had always been such a stellar individual and had my head on straight one hundred percent of the time (or at least, seventy-five percent of the time). Heh heh.

Which is the big problem with Facebook. One of them, anyway. Right now I'm thinking about this one, where I get to log in and witness the final descent before someone's life explodes into burning wreckage. The key is that it's because of their choices, not happenstance. Happenstance is sad, but forgivable. It's not their fault.

But consequences for stupid decision-making . . . that's just frustrating. Irritating (they KNEW better, how could they do THAT?). How hard can it be to not make dumb choices? I find it devastating. Too difficult to watch. And with Facebook, if I don't defriend or cancel my account, I have to deal with it nonstop.

Isn't getting away from the destructive behavior of certain friends or family part of the relief of growing up and moving away from that person? Not that we intentionally run away, but unless we want to surround ourselves with constant pain, something's got to be done.

So hide their updates. Do it. It will set you free.

That's what I tell myself.

And really, all I want is for everyone to not be naive and realize that their choices and actions don't occur in a vacuum. We are all watching each other. We see and feel the suffering of our friends and family. We share their joys and disappointments. And sometimes it's absurdly obvious when someone is sowing manure (while thinking, I suppose, that they're planting corn). They're going to end up with a pile of crap and you know it. How can they not see it too?

*I don't mean to imply that the human condition isn't interesting and sometimes, in a way, beautiful. Because there are moments that are transforming and inspiring, and it's quite nice to see a film or read a book that catalogs this in a breathtaking way and makes you feel like the spirited individual can triumph over whatever obstacles they face. However, the dark side to the "human condition" stuff can be the notorious ripple effect. And Facebook magnifies this problem.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Head Staples

There's a serious problem in the world today. I can't fix it. I wish I could, but, sadly, I'm just one woman. And this problem is an avalanche.

What is that problem, you ask? I know. You long to hear about problems because you haven't enough in your own life. You love whining. You love listening to people complain about avalanches, snowballs, and landslides of problems.

So that's why I'm going to tell you. Also, it does me good to get it off my chest. I can barely breathe and it's not just the baby being all selfish with the limited space in my torso and crushing the air out of my lungs (can you believe this baby?!).

The problem is clarity. Let me give you an example. This is from a story I read on a news site:

Meanwhile, C____ H_____ received seven staples in his head after the car nicked his right shoulder as it went airborne into the front porch. Doctors put his arm in a sling. His wife, S____, is still reeling from the experience.
I took the names out, obviously. I don't know these people and besides, I might complain about the entire story and I have nothing against them as individuals. It's the quality of the story itself and lack of a theme. Lack of everything, really.

I know I tread on dangerous ground to criticize someone else's writing. It invites scrutiny of my own writing and I'm sure there are several areas where I could improve, however, I'm not being paid to write. Nor am I part of the machinery of the AP or any of those behemoths producing material for the news agencies.

And I understand that journalists are often given assignments they resent. I'm sure it's crappy to have to create an article from material you don't care about. That's why I'm not a journalist. I did it for a few weeks, loathed it, and quit.

So this paragraph I shared with you. It's so horribly done, I can barely stand it. So C.H. received seven staples in his head, you know, like when I receive a package in the mail. Aside from receive being a terrible choice of words here, what's worse is the stupid doctors apparently didn't realize the real wound was in his shoulder! Where the car nicked him!

Then, of course, the doctors put his arm in a sling. I think somehow that must be related to the shoulder wound, which got scant attention after his head was stapled seven times (for no reason whatsoever). I imagine the shoulder will heal, because of that sling, but I don't know how long his recovery will take. Shoulder-nickings are on the rise, yet no studies have been done to determine lasting damage and whatnot.

I jest. Surely this is no laughing matter, surely. But the poverty of writing skill demonstrated in the article steals the attention. I'm sure you didn't even notice that what happened in the paragraph is that A CAR WAS FLYING THROUGH THE AIR AND NARROWLY MISSED C.H.

Yeah. That's right. It was difficult to determine the exact details, but what I gathered from the badly tangled story is that a family was out in their front yard on Sunday when a vehicle, recklessly careening down their street, bounced off a couple other stationary vehicles, soared through the air over the small gathering (nicking C.H. in the shoulder) and crashed into the house.

But don't expect such a concise summary of what happened in the original story. If you read it (after somehow finding it, bwah ha ha ha), you'll feel like a prisoner of the labyrinth, picking up a scattered trail of breadcrumbs, which lead you nowhere. It's like the minotaur sneezed and you've got to find where the crumbs were originally placed. That's how scattered the details are.

Originally, Ariadne used a ball of thread to help Theseus in the labyrinth. But for my purposes, bread crumbs have an inherent comedic element that thread lacks. Should you find yourself in a labyrinth, I suggest you follow Ariadne's lead.

Of course, you might argue that C.H.'s head injury is implied by the fact that it received seven staples. So there's no need to clutter up the paragraph with unnecessary details like the fact that while his shoulder was simply nicked, his head bore the brunt of the impact. Like, you know, his shoulder was nicked by the passenger-side mirror and his head was smashed by the windshield.

But if that's the case, wouldn't the greater injury demand more attention? And while I agree that it's clever and interesting to leave some mystery in the telling, there's an immense difference between clarity (bringing back my original complaint) and obscurity. And besides, news articles are hardly the place to concoct a mystery for eager readers to solve. We don't read the paper to get the satisfaction of deciphering meaning. That's the job of fiction.

There are more offenses in the original story. Another paragraph:

On Sunday, police say A____ G____ J____, 20, recklessly drove a Cadillac down [a street], hit the H____’s parked Honda Civic, and then hit a tree. That catapulted the vehicle J_____ was driving on top of a Toyota Corolla and Jaguar parked in the P___'s driveway. Then it hit their house, further impacting their lives.
So, there are a lot of blanks in there, but you can just substitute any names in. The Civic was C.H.'s car. In a line before this paragraph, we learn that C.H. and his wife were forced to move in with his wife's parents because they've been having difficult health problems.

The main point of the article seems to be that this couple is living the story of Job. Any possible complication that could happen has happened. And then out of nowhere, a car flies through the air and nicks C.H. in the shoulder (requiring seven staples to the head). It does seem rather implausible, but I'm not questioning that. I am, however, questioning the sentence structure of this paragraph.

First of all, sometimes people TRY SO HARD (bless their hearts) to use active verbs that they sacrifice (once again) clarity for ACTION. As though I read the newspaper to get a rush. Yes, the active voice is great. I agree. But what's even better than that? Making sense.

Maybe there's no way to write this paragraph so that it reads smoother*. There are, after all, several makes and models of cars and about a million names. It's like proper noun city in this paragraph. To complicate matters, the writer appears desperate to relate the sequence of the accident while also making sure to paint an accurate picture of the types of vehicles (very important!), but, not only that, he/she also wants to litter the sentences with exciting words like catapult. I question the use of catapult.

Here's why I question the word catapult. Stationary object becomes a projectile....

The first time I read it (and I had to read the paragraph several times to understand it), the thing that stuck out the most was the Jaguar. One of the main points of this short article is to let readers know that a fund has been established to help these people out. But, then there's a Jaguar in the driveway.

I'm not saying it belongs to C.H. It probably belongs to his wife's parents. And if they can afford a Jag, cool. No big deal. But there's a Jag in the driveway. And then there's a fund where I can donate money to help them out. But there's a Jag in the driveway. A Jag. And it's a Jag. Starting at $50,000 for the low-end models. A Jag. In the driveway.

My point is, it doesn't make sense. I'm not saying the writer should lie about things, but too many unnecessary details weigh the story down and all the active verbs in the world don't help me slog through them. And especially it doesn't increase my sympathy to the point of donating when I read that there's a Jaguar in the driveway.

It's like all the scammers in Nashville. One time, Stoker and I were in a parking lot, sitting in our truck and a van with a family in it pulled up. Stoker was on the phone with a client or his boss, but that didn't dissuade the female driver. She left her van to come to our window and asked us to help her out. She needed money for gas to get to Atlanta. Her husband remained in the van, on his very nice cell phone, and the lady left her van running. She'd been driving around the parking lot. Quite a bit.

We didn't have any cash. She left. My question for scammers like that is, how do you afford that cell phone? It's a luxury. If you have no money, sell what you have. Cut back. It's not that difficult.

So when an article asks for my money, but there's a Jag in the driveway, seven staples to the head and an arm in a sling doesn't illicit enough sympathy for me to donate. Perhaps I'm a cold-hearted jerk (I totally know that's not true, but I had to say it, you know, so I don't look like a jerk), but that's not how the relationship works.

I work hard to earn my living, and yes, I know I'm blessed and that it's not all me. Nevertheless, to make me want to part with (basically) my blood, sweat, and tears, you're going to have to show me that your need is desperate. And a Jag or a cell phone tells me things aren't quite as bad as you're trying to portray.

Anyway. Perhaps the author of the article WANTED me to feel like C.H. doesn't truly deserve my money. If so, bravo. If not, maybe, I don't know, the writer should sign up for some writing courses. Or don't. You're not the only one (you, meaning the writer) suffering. You're in good (or bad?) company. The entire community of journalists is on a swift course downhill in terms of good writing. It's an avalanche.

*Police say A____ G____J_____, 20, drove a Cadillac in a reckless fashion down D____ street on Sunday, careening into C.H.'s parked Honda Civic and a tree, which launched the Cadillac onto two other vehicles parked in the P___'s driveway. But the Cadillac didn't stop until it crashed into the P___'s house where it (describe the damage in a three words). 

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Neverending Story = Best Kid's Show Ever

Oh man.


Someone posted a commented on a blog post I did in 2007 and of course I went to respond. Then, unfortunately, I noticed that a bunch of my old posts from that month were missing their first lines because as usual, I'm an idiot and I got all fancy with the formatting so that when I changed my template (which I do regularly. It's like rearranging the living room), the formatting didn't change and so certain colored fonts mysteriously disappeared.

Very frustrating.

That's when I ran across this post.

Which of course led to this music video:

Can you resist the Neverending Story? If you were born after 1972 but prior to 1990, the answer is that NO. YOU CAN'T. Because it's perhaps one of the single greatest movies for children EVER.

Watching the music video but ignoring all the embarrassing 80s pop hair moments and bad acting of the singers, the clips of Falkor, Atreyu, and even the obnoxious Childlike Empress with her irritating pout (sorry, pouty faces bring out the boxer in me) reignite my longing to help Atreyu overcome the Nothing.

I HATE the Nothing!

But really the Nothing was more than just a scary werewolf who wants to kill you. It's Nothing, man. NOTHING . . . I think you have to smoke a lot of weed to understand it. 

I can't remember Atreyu's horse's name (Artax?), but the scene in the music video where the horse is sinking in the quicksand KILLS me. KILLS ME. I've never had my own horse, but if I had one, there'd be one condition the horse would have to swear to: TO NEVER DIE. And especially, especially to avoid the blasted quicksand. Atreyu's scream as the horse just stands there, sinking, killed me. Yes, yes, I know. After they overcome the Nothing, everything is restored.

Right? It's been so long since I last watched it, I hardly remember the ending.

Now, I know there will be plenty of people who disagree with me. They will say, "No, the greatest kids movie ever was Goonies." Or, "Pish posh. Best movie for kids was Willow*". Or, "Nawwwwww, Dark Crystal. So classic," I would expect to even hear a "No no no no, best kid's movie is Princess Bride."

My only question for those who want to throw out other best kid's movies is, "Does it have a luckdragon?" If it doesn't have a luckdragon, there's no competition**.

The answer is yes, I have always wanted a luckdragon.

All these movies are from my youth, of course, therefore recent films are not even being recognized. So please don't try to judge Then against Now. Because if you do, Now will utterly fail. Movies from Now don't even COMPARE. I'm not sure what they were thinking in the 80s, but something was going on and we were rewarded with shows like Goonies, Princess Bride, and the NeverEnding Story.

These days all they can do is produce crap like Agent Cody Banks. Spy Kids. More like Crap Kids and Agent Crappy Banks. Not to be bitter. I just enjoy substituting random words with the word crap from time to time. It makes me laugh.

Not that crappy kid shows matter to me, yet, because I don't watch them anymore and my first kid is still gestating. But I'll tell you what he's going to watch when he's old enough. NeverEnding Story.

Luckily, the Childlike Empress's fate wasn't in my hands. I have no respect for pouts of this magnitude, especially not perma-pouts, as hers seems to be. 

*Seriously? I mean, "Willow" was good. But not THAT good.
*This can be expressed in an equation: (Film title) + luckdragon = Best Kid's Movie Ever. Conversely, (Film title) - luckdragon ≠ Best Kid's Movie Ever. I know. It's simple. I made it that way on purpose for all those Hollywood execs looking to cash in on family-friendly kid's movies.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Charlie Sheen Becomes Charlie Parker

 Partying like a rock star has been shown to age a person beyond their years. 

It's probably a chicken/egg argument, but am I the only who makes the connection between Charlie Sheen's hedonistic lifestyle and the fact that he played a hedonistic bachelor in Two and a Half Men (aka "the worst comedy series ever to last so long")?

I'm taking the view that he couldn't play such an incorrigible role without it bleeding into his real life. What a miserable guy. I actually feel bad for what an unhappy man he appears to be. I think he thinks he covers it up with his aggressive interview tactics, but it's fairly transparent, isn't it?

Ok, and what about David Duchovny in that HBO show (which I never saw, but heard about) Californication? So he plays a guy with a sexual addiction (amongst other addictions). Several years later, his marriage is falling apart because . . . why? He's got a sexual addiction.

Apparently even birth-control glasses couldn't prevent continued infidelity.

Y'ello? Is there a trend here? Could it be impossible to portray a character with such troubling demons for a long period of time without those attributes seeping into that actor's reality? It doesn't seem out of the question to me, but perhaps I'm superstitious or something.

I often wonder how actors act in films that reek of evil without feeling like they're treading into hell. I guess it comes down to what you call evil. I think the current trend in our culture is that there is no evil. It's just a bunch of people being human. And, you know, that's not evil, man. That's just people, having a human experience, man, which is good, you know?

But, in my opinion, that's just a candy-coated lie. Evil is obviously selfishness. What's more evil than putting your own needs over the needs of others? Even the tribes of American Indians believed in evil, and selfishness was what evil was generally thought to be. This is true, at least, of the Navajo. If someone in your tribe or clan was becoming wealthier than everyone else, that person was obviously practicing witch-craft. They manipulate the wheel of fortune to bring fortune to themselves at the expense of the rest of the tribe.

There are two kinds of evil: selfishness (no illustration necessary); and primordial evil, like Cthulhu. There's no way back from Cthulhu, once you're caught: madness. Selfishness allows for repentance. Here that, Charlie?

Not a bad definition of evil. But, I'm not trying to espouse communism or socialism, because I don't believe that's the answer to the problems of the world (at least, not government forced charity). I'm just making the case that it's not totally old-fashioned to believe in evil. There are lots of forms of it. I'm sure many people would agree that exploiting or hurting children is evil.

So then, why can't I say that Hollywood makes evil movies and wonder how the actors reconcile themselves to participating in such graphic and uncomfortable portrayals of evil? Because I really do wonder. They must have absolutely no conscience. Which is sad, because that's the only way to navigate the often troubling waters of our lives, you know, with Jiminy Cricket right there, guiding us.

I'm personally not comfortable with portrayals of extreme evil on television or film. Shows like Criminal Minds really disturb me. And I'd have to say, in fact, that it's refreshing to me to find out that others are likewise uncomfortable with certain subject matters. For example, Mandy Patinkin, who played one of the profilers on Criminal Minds, left the show after two seasons because he loathed violence on television and was uncomfortable with certain scenes in the show (source).

Mandy sought a six-fingered man as Inigo. As Jason Gideon, he sought criminals who might eat human fingers for breakfast. Which do YOU want to see? The Spaniard on a quest of vengeance? Same with Mandy.

So some people do have consciences! It's really a revelation to me that there are people in show business who have morals. So, thanks Mandy. I honestly wish Hollywood was better at producing fiction that could give me hope, rather than just making me laugh or feel utterly depressed. I must be in the minority, however, otherwise I'm sure the ratings would have shown as much.

At some point, I fully expect to bow out of consuming television and film. I'm almost there. Charlie Sheen's tantrums and embarrassing displays don't help me feel encouraged about what's happening in the entertainment industry. In fact, I'd sort of be happy if the whole system imploded. But I'm sure the executives would only blame piracy, rather than taking a microscope to the trash they're producing and try to fix it.