Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Selfie… Please Make it Stop.

           I’m home sick with Ebola (actually just the cough from hell, but Ebola is way more fun to say), so naturally what else is there to do but sit on my computer. I have been trying to watch Clerks for the umpteenth time, but my Netflix connection keeps timing out. I wasted some time on Facebook, and that was about as boring as repeatedly poking a rock with a stick. It did bring up some ire about something that grinds my gears on multiple levels. Can we talk about how annoying the concept of the “selfie” is and the narcissism of the people who are regularly making them?
Now THAT is a self-portrait. Man Ray.
            First of all, “selfie” is NOT a word. Don’t believe me? Type it in a Word document. See that little red line that pops up underneath it? That is proof that is made up nonsense. Like smurfage or pafoegsiuf. Not words. It is clearly an attempt at a coy, cutesy, abbreviation of the more substantive “self-portrait.” The idea of a self-portrait even implies a more substantive media, not something taken in a wink of time with a telephone.

            At best, I am an amateur photographer. When I think about the times I am inspired to take photographs, two come to mind: for posterity, so that I may remember a moment, or to show a different view of something normally seen. Since “selfies” are a regularly taken picture of someone’s face, the different view concept is a wash. It must be for memories then. “Remember that time I ate a piece of chicken?” “Hey remember when I rode in that car and took a picture of myself with sunglasses on?” “Remember that time I was in the bathroom?” “Oh snap, remember that time I was wasted and decided everyone should see what a hot mess I was?” “Remember when I was sitting at my desk?” Right. Events to be cherished for a lifetime.
            Do people not understand that we don’t want to look at pictures of their face all the time? I don’t want to look at my own face that much. It’s not particularly interesting. It’s on my head and facilitates communication and eating. Why would I want to see you in a car? Or eating a piece of chicken? Or sitting at your desk at work? I DON’T. Believe it or not, I don’t care what you are doing at every moment of every day. And I most definitely do not need a photo journal of it. I’m sick of your face! I see these repeat offenders with their “Look at me!” attitude and just wonder, how is your life that empty? In that moment you chose to take a picture of yourself doing something not the least bit interesting, you could have seen a bird fly by. You might have witnessed an act of kindness between less narcissistic people. You could have paid more attention to your driving and not rear-ended the person in front of you!

The people of Instagram don't seem to understand that ANYONE
in the world can see their photos. I deleted her face. OOPS.
The bathroom shots are really my favorite though. I might be inclined to take a picture of myself in front of a monument, mountain, castle, work of art etc. (again, those would be for the purpose of memory). In a bathroom? What is so incredible about a bathroom? Stalls are picturesque, I know. And that smell you often encounter in public bathrooms – too bad you can’t encapsulate THAT in your photo. And no one ever wants to forget the moment in the bathroom when you realize there are no paper towels left. Really, though, “I just took a dump, let me stop and take a picture of myself in the mirror.” That shit happens.

Friday, July 18, 2014

It's Fashion Friday!: Of Mercedes And Messy Men

           I must confess immediately that I am slightly inebriated. It has been a while since I’ve written a fashion post… to quote Rhett Butler, “Frankly, Scarlet, I don’t give a damn.” (I was required to read that god-awful book before ninth grade English and the scars are still there, all 1000+ pages worth). Honestly, I’ve been trying to be less judgmental. Well, not trying, have been. I was inspired by my friend Leslie – she just doesn’t give a shit. It’s not in a negative way either. It’s pragmatic. She and we all have more important things to worry about. Back to my being inebriated…
            I just had a belated birthday dinner (complete with three cocktails loaded with whiskey and Aperol! HEAVEN!) in one of my favorite restaurants. On the way out of the restaurant, I was given the  
A Simple Guide from Note
that in the "X" example the shirt tail meets the thigh gap...
blessed sight of a wedding party taking pictures to my left. They looked lovely. And, entering the restaurant, I nearly collided head on with a trio of gingers with sticks so far up their asses that their posture rivaled that of newly planted telephone poles. This was not a family of meager upbringing, no. They came out of their oversized Mercedes SUV, dropped off as close to the door as possible (it can’t be comfortable to walk around with posts up your bum), and had the most miserable angry expressions on their faces. SMILE KIDS. You’re going for dinner! Goodness. The one left in the car, the driver, the kingpin of ass-pole stardom, was the most ridiculous specimen of them all and the winner of “Fashion Friday Blog Dusted Off” inspiration.
            To be fair, I am not a man. Given that obvious fact, I do my best to keep the berating of men’s fashion choices to a minimum. I judge, but I keep it inside. You know what? That’s a complete lie. Last week I asked a teen boy’s friends if the boy was homeless. They looked at me like I was insane so I continued speaking. “If your friend isn’t homeless, WHY doesn’t he have SHOES on in a restaurant?! That’s GROSS.” I was in Chipotle, and it was gross. Judging by the color of the affluent child’s feet, he hadn’t had his shoes on for several hours. I digress. Mr. Ass-Pole, as I will call him, got out of his fancy car and walked towards the restaurant, stopping to check whatever important things were happening at his mobile device. This is when I noticed his attempt at casual attire and scoffed.

Brad Richards in a Medoc shirt from
(Photo from their website)
            Khaki pants ordinarily would work quite well with an un-tucked button down shirt. I myself can’t stand wearing tucked in shirts. It’s not comfortable. Who wants a shirt getting stuck under their bum when they sit down, wrinkling, moving all around…. to hell with that. My problem is that this man was wearing his button down shirt un-tucked, but it was a DRESS SHIRT. I once before wrote about this for ladies, in a much gentler manner. 
           If you stand on the side of someone wearing an un-tucked shirt and it is not straight across, but instead looks more like a round-bottomed w, it should be tucked in! These shirts are specifically tailored to be inside the pants. Wearing such a shirt outside the pants does not make the wearer look casual, but like a slob. This is SUCH a problem that upon Googling “mens shirts tailored untucked” I even found an ENTIRE WEBSITE of button down shirts designed specifically for that purpose! Clever. (They are even endorsed by Brad Richards. And while he may not be a Bruin, he is a hockey player. That's good enough for me). If you want a fancier shirt of the Brooks Brothers persuasion and you insist on wearing it outside of the pants, TAKE IT TO A TAILOR. If you can afford to shop at Brooks Brothers, you can afford a $12 hem/crop. And most CERTAINLY, if you can afford to drive a Mercedes GL Class SUV ($63000+), YOU CAN AFFORD TO WEAR THE RIGHT DAMNED SHIRT.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

If I Can't Drink Out of The World Cup, Then It Is Not Useful To Me.

  I’m seeing an awful lot of “football” posts on Facebook right now (and by “football” I mean soccer), and I find myself overwhelmed with pangs of “Who cares?” I generally feel that way about most things that people post on Facebook, but the World Cup Who Cares 'WOOO!'-athon makes me laugh a little bit too. Since when do all of you people actually watch or care about soccer?
THAT'S the trophy?! It looks like
a crystal ball on a dragon talon! Where
are the Dungeons and Dragons folk?
            This is beyond the ridiculousness of the Super Bowl bandwagon, the “I care about curling (even though I’m not Canadian)” feigned excitement, and even the “Oh I MUST watch the Oscars (but I didn’t go to the movies a single time in the last year and have no idea what they’re talking about)” falderal. Soccer. World Cup. “But it’s the WORLD CUP,” I hear people say (ahem, read people post). If only people were so quick to jump on to following important current events. Can you imagine? “I HAVE to pay attention, it’s MOSUL! People are DYING!” It would be funny, except it’s not because it is true. Or how about "Soccer players are hot!" Unless you have a REALLY big television, don't they just look like little fast people running around with a ball? 
            All these bandwagon World Cup fans seem also to not be aware of how many indigenous people were displaced to build the parking lots around the stadium. At least, if they ARE aware, then their World Cup support is a little bit disgusting. And let’s not even talk about the poverty in that country. I remember when I was there in 1997 and from a bus window saw a kid being beaten up for stealing a Coca Cola. I think it has only declined since then.
            If you genuinely like watching football and support teams, I don’t think it’s at all odd for you to be excited about the World Cup. Let’s face it though. If you fall into that category, you are probably not American. Americans don’t even call it the right name! Soccer. Sacher. I prefer the latter. It makes me think of cakes. (Sacher is the name of a Viennese hotel, which created an amazing chocolate torte).
           I’m just rambling… none of it REALLY matters. It just makes me chuckle. I’m proud to say I don’t watch football/soccer. I don’t know what’s going on at the World Cup. I don’t know when it will be over (though I’m sure my Facebook feed will let me know).  And, I don’t care. It does strike me as extra hilarious, however, that Facebook alerted me to the fact that one of the things “trending” yesterday was people reminiscing about OJ Simpson’s high-speed car chase. At no point have I or anyone else I know done any reminiscing about OJ Simpson’s high-speed car chase. Who are the people thinking and talking about this? They have to be about 1000 times more odd than the fake soccer fans. From what I remember, it wasn’t even exciting. It was an SUV driving down a highway…. Don’t these people know that the World Cup is happening?

Friday, May 9, 2014

NO You May NOT Have Cheese With That Whine.

I don't know who created this, but I concur. 
I walked forlornly to the break room to get yet another cup of coffee and found myself wishing I was retrieving a shot of Jaeger….. at 10am. What could possibly drive a grown ass woman to feel the need to anesthetize with shitty liquor at 10 am on a Friday morning? I’ll tell you what. WHINING MEN. I’m pretty certain that a propensity to whine might be the most unattractive quality in a grown man, or really any male over the age of 9. (Okay. Perhaps lack of cleanliness, dishonesty and pedophile mustaches are less attractive, but that’s splitting hairs). After that age, you need to get it together and put your big boy pants on. I’m not saying whining is more tolerable in grown women. For me, however, it’s not an issue of attractive or not, it’s just plain annoying.
            So, perhaps said male needs a juice box and can’t find one so he’s whining thinking his mommy is listening, but I’m not his/your mom and don’t want to hear it. As I am not into polygamy it is most likely I am also not said male’s girlfriend/wife either. Again, I don’t want to hear it. And if I were the girlfriend, not only would I not want to hear it, I would probably make fun of you for the whining. Well, frankly, I might just do that anyway.
             The topic in whining that has been grating my last nerve lately is that of work. Perhaps I have a different perspective on work in general being a musician who has a “day job.” We collectively call these jobs “day jobs” and it is understood by the entire professional music community that this is a thing we do during the day which we’d rather not be doing that pays the bills. We only take these awful things when our true interest and skill set is not providing ample cash flow. I’m a horn player. I want to do that. When I go home from my “day job” I still have to do my real job, which is to keep practicing my instrument for no pay until someone calls me and offers me an acceptable sum of money for it. When I get up to go to work in the morning, my attitude is such that I will certainly work hard at work and do my best, because that is what I am paid to do. Sure, I'd rather be at the beach or the spa, but the employers and I have a mutual agreement that I will do what I was hired to do and then they will give me a check. It works out quite well and I don’t see anything wrong with the situation. I certainly don't waste my energy complaining about it. So, why do people come to work and complain about having to do work at work?
            Is this a problem that comes from people having never had to work in service jobs or other thankless jobs where you work extra hard and get paid not very much? I’m referencing things such as retail, food service, cleaning houses…  Or are these nitwits taught in university that they are smart and shouldn’t have to do much or anything in a timely fashion? I used to drop my jaw in disbelief when I heard about how many former schoolmates at Harvard would get extensions for papers and projects. You know what happened at Indiana University if you asked for an extension or any special treatment? They laughed in your face. Oh, you were sick? No one cares. Oh, someone died? Show me a death certificate. I'm not joking. People were asked to see death certificates for missing rehearsals/concerts. Real life training.
So these WHINERS who spend more time whining about how busy they are and how much work they have to do than actually DOING the work seem to have this idea that people are interested in listening to their “sob story.” They’re missing some key knowledge of workplace dynamics – everyone knows who’s making more money than he is. If you’re whining to me about how much work you have to do at your job and how much it is inconveniencing your desires to be on Facebook or eat peanuts, I am sitting there thinking, “Buddy, you make more money than I do to do that stuff, so shut your trap.” And trust that many people who make less than you do and are at lower level jobs are not there because they aren’t smart enough to do YOUR job, but because they’re smart enough to know they don’t WANT to do your job. And if you’re whining to your boss, your boss is probably thinking, “Well what the hell am I paying you for? If you don’t want to do your job, maybe I should find someone else to do it.”
There is enough negativity in the world. And there are things going on that are distressing that matter. The fact that you forgot your big boy pants and think that I want to listen to you whine does not matter. Not in the least. Stop contributing to the bad juju with your bitching! Nobody wants to hear it. If I have to hear it before I’ve had ample amounts of caffeine, I can’t guarantee you that I won’t come after your face with some mouth-shaped foam packing and a piece of tape.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I'm Not Afraid of The Darkness Anymore

            It’s so odd how people will assume they know a person without ever getting to know them. They’ll see someone smile and interpret their easy-going demeanor to mean that their life has been just as easy. I’m not the one that loses when you make assumptions about my life or judge me. My yoga teacher told me that when they first tried to grow trees in the Biosphere, they all flopped over because there was no wind to blow them around and strengthen them. Strength doesn’t come from sitting on the sidelines.
            The other thing about strength is that you have to work for it. I look back at how far I’ve come and I know how hard it was to get to a place where I woke up in the morning feeling gratitude instead of wishing I were dead. Sometimes I don’t know how I’ve come that far. Surely, someone must have carried me – but no. I carried myself. You have to carry yourself. No one else is going to do that for you. I wish I could tell you that my faith in God got me through it all, but it didn’t, though I hope that works for you. What did was the intervention of a few very special people and a realization that the sun and the birds keep rising every day no matter what has happened.
            You find a way to move yourself through the pain of whatever situational horrors you’ve experienced. Feeling it makes you stronger. You learn something from being a victim. The pain hardens into scar tissue, and if you’re lucky, you can figure out a way to melt that back into a place of love and acceptance for others who struggle. Again, people see you smile and they have no idea what or who has hurt you. And they won’t know, because you just don’t. Want. To talk about it. Any more. Rehashing the past no longer serves you. You’ve walked away from whatever tore holes in your psyche. You’ve healed your own wounds and there’s nothing more to say.
            Strong people still have dark days. This depression that lives inside me still fights like hell to win. Kill it one day with an ax and it comes back another day as a rock. It’s like the Hindu story of the Warrior Goddess Durga fighting the evil God Mahisa, who changed into many different forms throughout their battle in the hopes of confusing her and winning. Only time will tell if I will win like Durga, so I keep fighting. Most people will never understand. Most people don’t even notice. If by chance they do, they’re never satisfied with the answer to “What’s wrong?” when it’s “Nothing,” or “I don’t know,” or “I’m just having a hard day.” Or God forbid, “Mahisa came back as a rock today.”
            Empathetic friends are nice. I don’t want or need your pity. I’m not a charity case. I’m not an invalid. I sure as hell am not fragile. I feel I have a debt to repay, to those who pulled me out of the water when I was drowning. It’s impossible to pay someone back for saving your life. The best thank you I can give is to have my friends’ backs, and I do. I won’t try to fix your problems. That wouldn’t help either of us. I will stand by you while you fight your battles.
            Still, I’ve stopped keeping it all inside. It’s exhausting to hide sadness and joy behind an empty expression, so I don’t do it anymore. Maybe it looks like I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve. I just think I’m being honest. True, some people aren’t ready to hear what I have to tell them. Maybe it’s scary to let someone care for you, especially when it’s offered without a request for anything in return. I’ve been told these people just have walls up. I understand - I have them too. I’m a warrior, remember? Belonging to no one, living in a marble fortress. I just put doors in mine to let you in. It’s up to you to walk through them. I’ll leave the light on.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sorry Ukraine, You're On Your Own

Oh yeah, that guy scares really easily.
 They say you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. This is a pretty accurate observation. You also can’t win a war if you don’t participate. Most people would probably consider the end of the Cold War to be signaled by the dissolution of the USSR at the end of 1991. I am certain that the US government considered this the end, and thus discontinued their participation. I, however, have an entirely different view on this whole scenario – while the US stopped playing, Russia did not. Russia kept playing. We lost the Cold War, back in June of 2013, when Obama decided the US could cut back on its stockpile of nuclear weapons and then SUGGESTED that Russia do the same.
            It’s hard not to laugh at that last statement. It’s hard not to laugh at the idea that Vladimir Putin would get rid of his nuclear weapons stockpile just because his nice friends in the US decided to get rid of theirs. It’s hard not to laugh at the fact that someone could be SO NAÏVE as to think that any surface conversations with someone who was KGB for 16 years would be honest and gentle. It’s hard not to laugh that anyone thought the Cold War was over when you examine that the current president of Russia made his move from KGB to government official in the same year the USSR lost so much ground. And then, I think about what is going on in Ukraine, and remember that Russia still has stockpiles of nukes, and think about how many people died when Russia decided to invade Georgia, and I stop laughing. Not only do I stop laughing, but I feel ashamed that the man who is supposed to be leading our country and military recently went head to head with Russian ally Bashar al-Assad with warning of crossing his red line – which for all intents and purposes was a pissed line in the snow.
           Russia lost Ukraine in the breakdown of the USSR. Now they’re taking it back. Despite what the news-watching Americans may have been led to believe, this action was YEARS in the making. If you don’t know who Yulia Tymoshenko is, it’s safe to say you don’t know your head from your ass about what’s going on in Ukraine. She is pro-Ukrainian nationalism, against a customs union with Russia, doesn’t support violent uprisings, and up until about a week ago has been in prison since not long after she questioned her loss by only 3% to the most recent president Viktor Yanukovych. What does this mean for the US? Absolutely nothing.
           No one in this country lacking ties to Ukraine batted an eye about Tymoshenko being in prison or in ill health. This country sat idly by, talking about the Kardashians and having their leader appear on late night television. The only problem with this is that in 1994 Ukraine was guaranteed territorial integrity by the US, Russia, and Britain in exchange for renouncing nuclear weapons (The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances). Russia has clearly decided that there was no real commitment there. RUSSIA DOES NOT PLAY BY THE RULES. I keep seeing op eds on places like Forbes and Huffington Post saying that Putin loses if he takes Ukraine. This won’t end well for him, etc. This isn’t a card game. And Putin is not playing for laundry money. Putin will get what he wants. And there is NO ONE to stop him. He is not afraid of Obama. He is not afraid of the EU. He’s KGB and he just won the Cold War. He’s also just sent a warship to dock in Cuba – uninvited. Go ahead. Talk about grave consequences. What could possibly scare that man? We flat out told him we were getting rid of our nuclear weapons. Oh and by the way, Syria’s chemical weapons have not yet been destroyed. Is there a real man anywhere in the US government or are they all 13-year old babysitters with no clout? You can hate the game, but I’m going to go ahead and hate the players.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Friends Don't Let Friends Argue With Fools.

Love this. 
         I am officially titling my lifetime, at least what has evolved in the last decade or so, “The Age of the Specious Argument.” There’s a whole lot of debating going on about a lot of things, and the more I read, the more I find that not a damn thing anyone uses to “argue” has any teeth. Not even baby teeth nubs. We’re talking Grampa Gus before the water was fluorinated and denture paste was readily available. In general, I find that arguing with someone who has presented their point accompanied with specious arguments is a total waste of time. Those who find this an acceptable way to state or rebut, usually don’t have a clue what’s going on in the first place. And the more you try to intelligently tussle with them, the more their thought process breaks down into a level of crazy that should only happen within the walls of a psych ward.
            I would first like to address this misconception that has arisen as the popularity of the paper newspaper has declined. An article is something written with facts. NOT ARGUMENTS. FACTS. Primary source information is usually present. For instance, If you picked up the paper (I realize that I might be the only one who still picks up papers – granted, I tend to only do this in Europe as the quality of American papers has reached an all time low…), a piece speaking about how many people died in Syria yesterday referencing locations of explosions and a survey of who set of the bombs or was believed to have set off the bombs would qualify as an article. It shares factual information. A piece that discussed why a person thought the UN or US government should take a certain course of action based on accumulated statistics is EDITORIAL. It is not an article. It is an Op Ed (as they used to be called) – that first abbreviation referring to Opinion. ALMOST EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET IS EDITORIAL. This blog is editorial. Half of the things you find on Huffington Post are editorial. Anything that can be found inflammatory is usual editorial. If someone has imbued his writing with opinions of his own, it is NOT an article. It is an editorial. Subjective. Not fact. Up for debate. Theory. I don’t know how many more ways I need to describe this.
            The debate (using that term loosely) inspiring this particular post is over the death or survival of classical music in America. I’m not interested in taking a side in this, that is not my purpose here (though I will say, you can’t kill art, but you can kill a business). Some knucklehead penned an EDITORIAL for about how he thought classical music is on death’s door. Mark Vanhoenacker’s entire piece is specious argument. He references things like decline in audience and ticket sales for classical organizations, cuts in arts funding, discontinuation of classical programs on the radio. If you look at any of these things in context, ticket sales are down but so are a lot of mainstream stock holdings like Best Buy and Sears. So there’s not a whole lot of music in education right now; there’s not a whole lot of education in education right now. Have you talked to any young people recently?! In speaking with my 13-year old horn student the other day, I discovered that she couldn’t tell me anything about the Renaissance except that it was a long time ago. And how many people do you know who listen to the radio anymore? I can’t tell you the last time I listened to the radio. I’m a classical musician and I wouldn’t go NEAR the classical station here because all they play is boring shit. BORING. 
            Like I said, holes with kisses. The thing that really gets me, though, is how many people felt compelled to push back at this inflammatory, poorly written editorial. And with MORE SPECIOUS ARGUMENTS. I would see things and find myself saying, “you may say classical music is still alive, but is living in a coma really living?” Sure, people are buying audio files. But, do they listen to them? There are plenty of new groups popping up, while the Memphis Symphony Orchestra just announced that they’re pretty much through at the end of the season. Nothing gives value to an argument like an irrational rebuttal. It’s like the guy who cheats on his girlfriend. “I swear I didn’t! Those are lies people are telling you! That underwear was my mom’s!” Where as, the innocent party wouldn’t even dignify the accusation with a response. “The sky is RED! It’s not blue it’s RED!” Do you think I would stop and argue with someone that the sky is blue and not red? No. Why? Waste of time. The person is obviously either crazy or suffering from some sort of opthalmological issue. I feel the same way about the hubbub over the Bill Nye vs. creationist debate. No matter what either of them believes, neither was alive when the earth was created. Neither of them knows for sure. Maybe aliens cloned themselves to create the human race. It is all theory.
            I think the prevalence of the specious argument has something to do with the level of importance this society gives itself in this day and age. I actually read somewhere that the UN folks came to some sort of pact that they would limit the rise in temperature on the earth to 2 degrees C. I completely agree that we shouldn’t be wasteful and destroy the environment. Thinking that we have control over the degree to which the earth warms, however, is farcical. If we could actually implement that kind of control over the climate, I would assume we could also keep it from snowing during commuting hours. Opinions don’t become facts just because someone who thinks they are special speaks them. Oprah could tell you that Justin Bieber needs to be deported. While I'm sure we can all come up with evidence to support this statement, it's still not a fact. 

            So, can we quit it with the subjective nonsense now? If you want to start a discourse on a topic, please use facts. And if you want to talk about things that have no factual basis, it’s called a philosophical discussion. It’s valuable, but acknowledge it for what it is. If it can be argued, it is not fact. And until that point is understood, there is no starting point for conversation.