Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hello, hello - I am telling you that you should go. . .

If you have any affection for U2, or have never been to a real rock concert, or it's just been a while since you've heard loud music (and you like that sort of thing), I strongly urge you to see U23D. See it in all of it's IMAX 3-D glory, if at all possible.
U2 is a great band - the fact that they are now billionaire activists for Peace, Love, Justice, and all that stuff makes it all the easier appreciate that it's what they were about, all along. It's been cool to watch them grow into what they've become.
I had the pleasure of seeing the "Vertigo" tour twice. In many ways, this film is about as close as one could come to being there - in many ways, better - because the camera takes you onstage. Having been to these concerts, the film brought back a lot of the emotional substance. I don't know if one can really get the sense of what it is to see, hear, and feel an arena full of people dancing and singing In the Name of Love at full throttle, but you should at least be able to appreciate the moment in the film when Bono steps back from his mic and says, "Wow!" I am usually taken by The Edge's powerful solo lines, and the movie certainly provides those opportunities. They are veteran performers, but this movie also brings you into the circle, a bit, to see that they are still having a very, very good time.
The 3D is good, really good. There's some gimmickry, mic stands standing out, shots of Adam poking his bass neck around like he's probing a large, wet balloon - no, wait, he always does that. Larry Mullen's drum kit looks phenomenal through the polarized glasses. You can also see how hard he's working, something you tend to forget when watching him from a quarter mile away.
It has been a very long time since I've been 'wowed' at the movies. I knew that I was going to like the music, but the 3D really did make it a 'wow' experience. Don't wait for this to come out on DVD - I don't think it'll be quite the same. It's like the difference between listening to music in your living room vs. seeing it performed live. Except different.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Your stigma just dented my karma.

The "R" word has screwed up my weekend. Again.
My gaming clan. It's not really expected to be a politically correct arena. In the course of the last two days' events, I have learned that the word has been added to a ban list on the forum because of me, an action that I'll take credit for but am not particularly happy that I had to be the reason for. More on that in a moment.
One of my buddies posted a message asking that the word "Ree-tard" be ree-instated - "I find this word very useful, pleasing to the ears, and a useful tool on RO team chat. I have been using moron in various forms for months, but I miss the beauty of the original word."
Now, to my clan's credit, most of the responses to this were that it wasn't acceptable. I made my choice. I embedded Emma's birthday video, and typed "Joe, meet my daughter, Emma. . .

It's a big world, and this is a big clan. There's room for most of us. I have to vote no on this one though.Thanks Destroyer, VGER and others. You're much nicer than I am."

No tirade, no rant, just the facts. I've reached a point where there's no real sense of righteous anger, no alerting of the local cell of Amnesty International, no striking a blow for Mankind sort of feeling. Just calling an ass an ass. I had a bad feeling about this one, and I was proven right.
A couple of hours go by, some other posts in the thread, then a new post appears. Joe's resigning the clan - he's offended too many people. My response is the first one - don't quit, you were trying to be funny, yadda yadda. It appears that Joe's a pretty popular Old Fart. Posting a resignation isn't resigning, it's a popularity poll. If you're leaving, leave. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. Don't stand in the doorway exclaiming, "OK, I'm really going this time, no really, Bye!. . . . . Bye! Gotta go now. . . OK! He's not going anywhere.
This morning. Joe sends me a Private Message, explaining that he of course meant to offend no one. He goes on to relate that he has several in-laws with various conditions, and they enjoy calling each other 'retard' when they play games together. I have to share this:
"My wife's brother is half paralyzed and nearly completely brain damaged due to a car accident 20 years ago. We still call him Frankenstein, and our new favorite DroolBucket. No one minds, it's part of our way of interacting as it has been all our lives."

How lovely it must be to be Droolbucket! Surrounded by love and warmth and care. This is what I meant by my bad feeling. I've run into this sort of person before. Of course there's nothing wrong with using words like these, Joe. It feels like HOME. Alrighty then. Now I understand Joe. He still doesn't, and probably won't ever, understand me. There is the possiblity that he'll slide off into a tree while snowboarding and end up in the living room as Droolbucket II, but that's pretty much the only way he's going to get my drift.

Yeah, I'm angry. I always have been. I'm angry that my daughter has Down Syndrome. I'm angry at Joe's upbringing. I'm angry that I feel accommodated for - that it has to be me, that it wouldn't be, otherwise. I'm angry that many of my clanmates imply in their posts that it's no big deal, that I somehow overreacted by reacting at all. They have no idea, LAUGH OUT LOUD. I'm angry that - now that I've made it clear to the whole clan that I'm an oversensitive parent of a poor retarded girl - they're gonna treat me differently. I can't even leave the house, electronically, without this affecting my life. I'm angry that there are those that (no one ever says it out loud) think that our kind should just shut up and take my proper place in the isolated shadows of society, to happily accept "oh, I didn't mean you" when the dipstick makes a joke about taking the short bus.
I'm a compassionate man. I'm a loving father. I think I'm funny, most of the time. Today, I'm just pissed. I"m gonna go play with Emma for a while. She couldn't care less about any of it, and that's the wonder, the redemption, and the answer to it all.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's about the Mentos, and more

Here's the deal:
We've seen the original. We've watched Mythbusters do it. We've bought the kit.
Then Sam modified it. He's replaced the drop mechanism with two magnets, ala Adam and Jamie. Then, with the help of Old Dad, we made the tube and adapter. Witness the results:

This is so much better than Cub Scouts.
It's cool to watch him experiment, to facilitate his 'vision', albeit a goofy way to expel Diet Coke into the atmosphere. It's Dad-dom fully realized. It was all his idea. Makes me prouder than I could ever imagine.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Why do we constantly marginalize each other?
Politics makes me physically ill. This, I'm sure, is a character flaw on my part, borne of a gentle spirit, schoolyard bullying, the harmony of the modern evangelical church, and the fact that I am even lactose tolerant. I like "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln", where he describes the factors that would rend us asunder, then rises to his feet as only a pneumatic doll could, and brings us all back together before we head back out into the sweltering heat of Main Street, USA. I hate politics, because the discussion begins, in one form or another, with a declarative statement that immediately alienates a portion of those in the room. These days, if you hold a basic set of philisophical/political beliefs, to declare them as such instantly labels you and hangs a whole meat locker of smelly, disgusting issues around your neck by default, whether you're invested in them or not. This odor, now emanating from everyone in the room - because each 'party' (what a ridiculous name!) has plenty of stink to go around - makes everyone unhappy. More to the point, it causes artificial, unnecessary assumptions - let's just call it what it is - prejudice - to cloud, overshadow, dilute, poison the topic at hand. There are those that are very close to me who, I know, assume my positions on several subjects. I also know that they are wrong. One of the things that I think that is as sacred - and necessary - as the First Amendment to the Constitution is the secret ballot, including the right to keep those choices to myself. It's the power of the powerless. No one has the right to know how I voted, unless I tell them. I'm also quite afraid that, if they knew how I really felt on certain topics, our friendship could very well be at risk - a very saddening prospect. There would be no convincing, as well as no acceptance. Very sad, indeed.
This post has been percolating for a day or so. I know now that I'm not alone. Two nights ago(seen by me last night thanks to the miracle of Digital Recording), John Stewart was pointing out to Lou Dobbs that Dobb's own poll showed that 94% of his viewers were sick of the idiotic reporting of campaign and campaigner's minutiae, rather than the facts and the issues. I got a forwarded email, this week, telling me that Senator Obama -- I want to pause, a moment, for emphasis -- Senator Obama, a duly elected member of the second-most elite group of elected officials in this country, which makes him a high-ranking member of one of the two most powerful political parties, subject to their scrutiny, approval, and support -- I get this email that tells me (and I'm paraphrasing some of it here) that Senator Obama won't say the Pledge of Allegiance, went to hezbollah school, and will have us all hiding our McRibs under our burkahs come February. The creation and dissemination of that type of vitriol marginalizes everyone; sender, subject, party, recipient, country - it even slows down the internet, for Pete's sake. This week, I'm told that Ms. Clinton wins a political primary because she shows some emotion. I haven't seen it, don't want to, don't need to. IT"S NOT IMPORTANT. It could actually be true that some people actually changed their vote over this, but I sincerely doubt that this contingent of Americans made the difference. The error is in affording it more importance than it deserves, and by doing so, removing the focus from what is important. I truly do not know why anyone would put themselves under so much pressure and scrutiny in the first place. I don't know why I'd be interested in Britney Spears locking herself in her bathroom, either, but that's just more of the same.My point is simply this: Whether you're angry with the poor sot behind the counter at McSubWenTacoFiesta, or passing through the mid-band of your cable channels with the talking heads of 'news channels', ask yourself, "Why must we 'marginalize' each other?"Can't trust the media; can't trust a photograph - remember 'pictures don't lie'? Can't trust a sound bite. We can't trust our processes, either, unless we're willing to take some personal responsibility for how we treat each other. I do know that there aren't many places where I can enter into a discussion of many issues, these days, without somebody's feelings getting severely hurt. This needs to change, if we're to move in any sort of positive direction. I'm just sick about it.