Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Stupidest Generation

Watching CNN this morning and there is a story about how people in south Florida are having a hard time getting gas for their cars. With electricity still out in a lot of places the pumps won't work. So in the story they go to a gas station that has power and there is a half-mile long line going down the street waiting to get fuel. Now this is understandable, a hurricane just swept through and all, and it can take a while to get power back up and running. Plus, you know, they need to kind of prioritize. Hospitals I would imagine would be toward the front of that list, way ahead of getting power back on at the local Stop & Go. But that's not good enough for some of the people in line at the gas station, as we found out when CNN interviewed some of those in line.

Here's one that really stuck out when I saw it right before leaving this morning. A woman, a twentysomething girl really, in the line was sitting in her car and they show her saying that the situation is just terrible and that it's like living in a "Third World country". Yes, she compared her life to living in a Third World country. And she said this while sitting in a car that appeared less than 3-4 years old, with a mouth full of thousands of dollars worth of orthodonture, a Starbucks cup sitting in the cup holder, and she was holding a cell phone to her ear. I'm not making this shit up. And I'm willing to bet she had an iPod in there too. Let me say it again: She said it was like a Third World country.

I'd like to say this to the young lady. Listen, you stupid bimbo, do you know what in America is like a third world country? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!!!

You were in line to get gasoline, not clean water or a small bag of rice. You were chatting with your friends while waiting, not trying to comfort your AIDS infected baby or throwing up from cholera.

You were in line to buy gas somewhere you could also grab a Diet Coke. It was not a line to sign up for open spaces in the refugee camp. It also wasn't a line to see if one of the bodies in the recently discovered mass grave was your husband or father.

The Americans of my generation ("X") and later (whatever stupid name they've given that one) are in serious need of a wake-up call. Another Great Depression might do us a some good. A little perspective is just what the doctor ordered. I don't know how our grandparents can stand to be around us.

The people in the Third World would love to have our damn problems. Think about that the next time your DSL connection goes down for three minutes or when there's not enough chocolate in your Frappuccino.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Always Low Morals. Always.

Open up the New York Times today and there is this article about Wal-Mart. It seems that the $10.5 billion in pure profit they make every year is just not paying the bills and they want to do some belt tightening. Now it won't be easy, but the executives at Wal-Mart are up to the task. How will they do this you ask? Lower bonuses and stock options for the CEO and president and other VPs and execs? Oh goodness no, that would be inhumane. No they are going to go after the excessive benefit packages they give to those spoiled employees. It's going to be tough, but with enough hard work and creativity, maybe the CEO can keep all of his vacation homes. What a fucking tragedy it would be to have to decide which one to give up. I mean come on, could you choose between Aspen or Rome? Swiss Alps or Nantucket? Poor guy must know how Sophie felt, tough choices and all. But hell, why choose at all? There are much better ways to fix Wal-Mart's cash flow problem.

First of all, having health coverage for almost 45% of their employees is such a burden. So they'll have to cut benefits (because they were just waaaaay too generous) and raise the employee contribution. Hey, they're making almost $18,000 a year now, so they won't mind shelling out $2500 for out of pocket health costs. They'll get by with the $15,000 left over (before taxes) just fine. They'll just have to get another roommate in their residential hotel room. With their employee discount (except on sale items of course) they'll even be able to easily add another hotplate and double the size of their kitchen. And with Wal-Marts new bunk cots you won't even notice 8 people sharing a one room apartment. And with the extra health care cost they'll more easily qualify for food stamps. So you see, Wal-Mart is helping their employees more and more.

And what the hell is with people working there too long. Don't they understand that their yearly 25 cent raise is hurting the caddies tips at the management outings? Won't someone think of the caddies?!?! You would think with all the incentive given to associates (Wal-Mart's term for serf) to move on and get another job, from union busting to spy cameras to drug testing to sexual harassment, no one should want to work there for more than Wal-Mart's goal of a few months. Getting all employees to quit before they're due for their first raise you would think would be a pretty easy goal to achieve. But nooooo, these damn people have "rent" and "groceries" to buy. Dammit, where are these people's priorities? Selfish pricks putting food on their table without a thought of what it's doing to the shareholders. The fucking nerve of these damn people. Some poor stock owner somewhere is having second thoughts about buying the fourth Hummer because of the horrible financial straights of Wal-Mart, and these damn "workers" are only thinking of themselves.

Combined with lowering the 4% contribution to the 401(k) to 3%, weeding out these long term employees and not hiring any more fat people (except for the seniors who open the door - they've got Medicare) will help this poor, poor company hold off on raising the price of plastic laundry bins by a nickel. It gives me the shivers just to entertain the thought. Oh the humanity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Great Pro-Life Smoke Screen

OK, so another Supreme Court nomination for Dumbfuck to name and a new round of bitching back and forth and a lot of rhetoric over abortion, which apparently is the only issue the Supreme Court will ever deal with again in the future. Now of course I don't want to see Roe v. Wade overturned and the rights of women set back once again, but there are other issues when it comes to the Supremos and the left is losing sight of them all because of both sides' inability to see these nominations as anything more than their referendum on abortion.

And that's exactly the way Dubya wants it. All of this blind screaming about abortion is making him a happy camper. If there is one thing I know about this idiot, it's this: George W. Bush doesn't give a shit about abortion. He doesn't care if there are three trillion abortions a year. It's just a bunch of bullshit to rally the religious wackos into voting for him, just like that thing he said about Jesus being his favorite philosopher during the first campaign. If that didn't smell like a lie from a mile away I don't know what would. Personally, I agree with Thomas Jefferson when he asked why, if Jesus was such a great philosopher, didn't he actually write down any of his own thoughts and instead have other people do it for him? Now someone like your neighborhood priest or reverend might come up with a defense for that but Bush hasn't even given that any thought. Why would he? No one in the media would think to have him defend or expand upon a pre-planned answer anyway, so he doesn't need to worry about it. I'll let you in on a little secret. Bush doesn't even have a favorite philosopher. I would guess he couldn't even name a real philosopher, hence the Jesus answer. He probably had that as his stock answer for several things that stump him. Like if he's asked to name his favorite poet he'd probably name Jesus again. When in doubt, go with Christ.

And just like the Jesus nonsense, this anti-choice stance is just another smokescreen to keep everyone focused on something besides what is really going on. And it works like a charm. Everyone on both sides of the abortion issue is so worked up into a frenzy that it is clouding the real agenda being pushed. Listen up people! The Oilman isn't trying to overturn Roe v. Wade. If you think that's his agenda, well I'm sorry, but you are just duped no matter what side of the issue you fall. Georgie Boy is no friend of the fetus. He is a friend of big business, and that's who he's trying to help with the cronies he's putting on the court. Exactly what kind of person is he trying to put on the court? Constitutional scholars? Longtime professional jurists? No. What kind of lawyers are both Roberts and Miers? That's right, corporate attorneys. This is no accident. Bush isn't watching out for the unborn, he's watching out for the CEOs. Getting pro-business lawyers on the court will go a long way in pushing the agenda of the Texas Twit for years to come. If it's good for big business then it's good for America is the marching song of the corporate right and there is no telling how far down a dark road this will lead us.

You think the right to abortion is what you have to worry about? Not even on his radar. Dubya is much more interested in striking down clean air and water laws, getting rid of protected wilderness because it's standing in the way of drilling for something, getting Social Security declared unconstitutional, striking down the minimum wage, and tons of other evil shit I haven't even thought of. The right of union workers to collective bargaining could be at stake in the future. And if your company wants to take a DNA sample from you as a condition of employment, which side do you think a Supreme Court full of corporate attorneys is going come down on? Right to privacy will stop at the company door.

Don't get too caught up in the anti-choice nonsense. The abortion issue is the guy they send to the front to get slaughtered, a sacrificial lamb to the bigger goal. And that goal is a world where the rights of corporations trump yours and mine.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Apocalypse Soon (Brains Of Darkness)

So I have seen the signs of the coming apocalypse and it is not pretty. You may think it is the recent glut of disasters like the hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires, floods and the like. But you would be wrong. No, to see the real signs of the end of the world just stay up late at night and watch VH1. I'm talking about these insane "celebrity reality" shows.

Have you seen these thing? I stayed up late one night and started flipping through the channels and came across them at about 1:00am or so, and I can't believe the idiocy. First off, let's deal with the term "reality". From Survivor to whatever the name of the show that Paris Hilton is on, there is nothing real or unscripted about these shows. But that's the media term for them, so you know what I mean when I refer to them, it is by no means my endorsement of their "reality".

The first one I saw that night is called My Fair Brady, and as you might expect it features a former cast member of the 2nd crappiest show ever (the first being Gilligan's Island - We get it already, you'd be off the island by now if you would just murder Gilligan and he would stop ruining the escape plane/boat/bike/surfboard/pod), The Brady Bunch. Specifically the guy that played Peter. Now the premise of the show is his relationship with some bimbo he met while living in the Surreal Life house last year. Now if there was any show of this genre that I thought had promise, it would be the Surreal Life. Put together a bunch of washed up actors or other 15 minutes of fame people and watch the self respect go flying out the window. Any show that can have Tammy Faye Baker and 70s porn star Ron Jeremy living in the same house must have potential. So I guess Peter Brady was on one of the incarnations of the show, and he ended up getting jiggy with some woman who was on another reality show called America's Top Whorebag or some shit like that. I don't know if she was the winner or not, but she seems like the perfect model, as she has an IQ that barely registers on the scale.

So I watch some of this and I just can't believe what I'm seeing. She moves in with him in LA and they have all these little self-created dramas (she should get her own place, she should get a car, he should propose, blah blah blah), and they show them going out on the town getting fucked up and doing stupid shit that rich people with too much time on their hands do. Like him trying to French-kiss Jane Wiedlin of Go-Gos and PETA fame at her birthday party. Seriously.

And to top off the evening I saw this show, he invites Mom Brady to come over and meet his girlfriend and to give them relationship advice. Turns out that Mrs. Brady is a licensed therapist! I'm not, but it seemed to me she should have been talking to Peter about his Oedipal Complex. Creepy.

But what is really the creepy thing is what the show basically is. A pathetic middle-aged guy, whose life/career peaked over 30 years ago, trying desperately to hang on to the remaining shreds of fame hooking up with someone about 25 years his junior who is trying desperately to cling on to his remaining fame to get some for herself. And neither person seems to care how pathetic they look. Apparently, pathetic and famous is better than not being famous at all. Fame for the sake of being famous. And that's all this girl wants obviously. And him too, why else would he have gone on the Surreal Life show to begin with? Used to be that a person with no brains or talent who wanted to be famous would just go into porn, but now they have reality television. I wish they would just stick to the porn, like the guy who played the kid in the Richard Pryor movie The Toy. But I would imagine he's probably already working on a deal for his triumphant return to pseudo-credibility on Surreal Life 7: Flick's Revenge.

And then after the Brady nonsense comes Breaking Bonaduce. There's not enough space in my blog to talk about this show about the ex-Partridge going to marriage counseling, you just have to see it for yourself. What a shocker though, that two people who got married on their first date would end up in counseling. Just when you didn't think Danny Partridge's life couldn't sink any lower than his boxing match with Donny Osmond a few years back, you get this train wreck of a show. The best (worst?) part had to be when he went on his radio show (how does this guy have a radio gig anyway?) and told the world that he cheated on his wife. Classy.

I suppose that just like blue is the new black, Loser seems to be the new Winner. Thanks a lot Beck. Though I trace a lot of the blame back to Kato Kaelin. The idea that brainless, talentless twits could become big stars had to come from some TV producer seeing Kato become a household word.

Sad and pathetic really. Like, oh I don't know, starting a blog even though you're not really a writer. But who would do that?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Just A Thought

After reading that Harriet Miers is 60 years old and single with no children, am I the only one who's wondering how long it will be before the lesbian rumors start?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Silenced Guitars

Today I am sad. August Wilson died yesterday. He was only 60 years old. Along with Arthur Miller, who also died earlier this year, I consider Wilson to be one of the two greatest American playwrights of the 20th century. The New York Times obituary in the link will give you a great sense of who he was and what he meant to American theatre and, possibly more important, to black culture. I can't do him more justice than they have. I can only share what he meant to me.

As a young theatre student at a college in Middleofnowhere Illinois, I first came across his magical work. I was in my first directing class and was considering if that's what I wanted to do with my life. I had gone to school as an actor but got the idea to give directing a shot. I wasn't sure if it would be something that I could do or not. The first assignment I received was to read and analyze Wilson's Fences. From the moment I read it I knew that I was going to be a director. A play with amazing depth and characters that stand toe to toe with those in Miller's Death Of A Salesman. And it spoke so well to the experiences of real people, and seemed to be written with the idea that it was just about those people, but for them. I sought out the rest of his plays soon after. For those of you that don't know, as I didn't when I first read Fences, he wrote a cycle of ten plays that each represented a decade of the black experience in America. At the time I first read his work he was only through five of them. His first would open in 1981 and his last just earlier this year. Two of them won Pulitzer Prizes, which in my mind means he was robbed eight times.

I saw him speak in person twice. Once at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival and the other time at Chicago's Printers Row Book Fair. At the first he just read scenes from his plays for an hour, which would bore me to tears if anyone else did that. But I was as riveted as if I were at a full production.

But don't take my word for it. If you don't know his work, go to the library and check out his plays. You won't be sorry.

Although I have yet to direct one of his plays, it is the kind of theatre he brought to the American stage that inspired me to stick with this unforgiving career choice. I hope one day I can repay him by putting on a spectacular production of one of his works that would make him proud.

Thank you August. And Goodbye.

The plays of August Wilson's ten play cycle, in order of the decade in which they take place:
(Descriptions courtesy of Associated Press)

1900s — Gem of the Ocean A haunting, ghostlike play, conjuring tales of slave ships and the black man arriving in chains in the New World.

1910s — Joe Turner's Come and Gone Set in a Pittsburgh boarding house, the children and grandchildren of slavery grapple with a world that won't let them forget the past.

1920s — Ma Rainey's Black Bottom A volatile trumpet player rebels against racism in a Chicago recording studio.

1930s — The Piano Lesson A brother and sister battle over a family heirloom, a link to the slavery in their past.

1940s — Seven Guitars The final days of a Pittsburgh blues guitarist, telling the story of how and why he died.

1950s — Fences A father-son drama of dreams denied and how that denial affects the relationship between the two men.

1960s — Two Trains Running The displaced and the dreamers congregate in a dilapidated Pittsburgh restaurant scheduled for demolition.

1970s — Jitney Another father-son tale, set in a gypsy cab station, as the owner of the cab company squares off against his offspring, newly released from prison.

1980s — King Hedley II An ex-con attempts to get his life back on track despite the desperation, despair and violence that surrounds him.

1990s — Radio Golf A successful middle-class entrepreneur tries to reconcile the present with the past.