welcome back, Kotter

...yeah, so I've been more than a little negligent in blogging...I've been by turns busy, lazy, or just plain not feeling it, but I felt bad about letting my blog just languish, so here I am.

Nothing much is really going on right now, just as nothing of note has really happened in the last few months. I'm trying to buy a house, but I've been concentrating on things other than the housing search, so that's fallen by the wayside a little. I've been trying to cram this summer full of fun stuff, so my weekends have been jam-packed with "doing stuff." Now that I think about it, that might be something to, ya know, write about. But the "big" events (trip to Hawaii, a Depeche Mode concert at the Hollywood Bowl) are yet to come, so I'm kind of saving it up. :)

Anyway, just checking in and letting everyone who might read this know I'm still alive. I'm trying to decide on a name for a new knitting blog, because I let my old knitting blog REALLY languish, and I feel bad about that. If anyone has any ideas, drop me a line....
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killer bronchitis

So I'm going to keep this really short and sweet.

I've had bronchitis ever since I got back from Chicago, and I just spent a pretty miserable weekend at Disneyland for my mom's birthday. I can't think of a trip to Disneyland when I've felt less like being at Disneyland and more like being curled up under the covers. I've been coughing, wheezing, short of breath and just generally miserable for days. I spent the entire weekend rallying my spirits to help my mom celebrate her birthday, but I still felt like death warmed over.

And I still feel like it. I'm not as bad as I was - the coughing's not as severe and the wheezing has subsided (it hasn't completely gone away, but at least I can walk more than five feet without wanting to collapse), but I'm still tired and feeling icky. I'm going to bed in a couple of minutes; I feel like shit, but hopefully a little over 8 hours of rest will help me feel less like shit....

I'm tired of being sick. This is the third time in like 2 months that I've been sick, and it's the sickest I've been in a while...

thoughts on "Twilight"

So I finally broke down and read "Twilight," by Stephenie Meyer, just to see what the hype is all about (and yes, "New Moon" is sitting next to me right now, but I haven't cracked it open just yet). Full disclosure, I did download the movie soundtrack a couple of days ago, and I think Rob Pattinson is full-on adorable; I wouldn't mind spending a year in his pants. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to go see the movie, though. Honestly, I'm not very impressed. I liked the book OK, but I can't figure out why grown women are going crazy over this book series. Granted, I'm grown and I went kind of nuts over "Harry Potter," but that had a little something to do with how much stuff there was to find in the books. These books don't look to be much more than brain candy. Which is fine, but Stephenie Meyer is hardly the next J.K. Rowling. I find her to be a fairly average writer at best.

For what "Twilight" is, it's perfectly acceptable, but I can't figure out why the hype. I can understand the appeal of a hunky bad-boy outsider (you can't get much more "outsider" than a near-feral creature of the night, can you?); I can see why teenage girls go crazy for these books. But I honestly don't think "Twilight" was that great. Stephenie Meyer is no great shakes as a writer; she's got a gift for banter, but beyond that, her writing is very plain, mostly style with very little substance, and at times it felt like she was gratuitously throwing in SAT words to score points with the parents of her teen audience. I was really surprised; I was expecting these books to be much darker and a bit...deeper. I mean...vampires! I don't need kinky vampiric pr0n or anything; I know Meyer's Mormon background wouldn't allow for that, anyway. But I could have used a lot less emo wangsting from Bella and Edward both.

I've seen postings online here and there about how the relationship portrayed in these books is nothing less than abusive, and I'm a little (not wholly) inclined to agree. I think I can fanwank it a little, because after all, Edward hasn't been human for the better part of nine decades. If you've read the unfinished manuscript of "Midnight Sun," which is "Twilight" as told from Edward's point of view, you can see how hard he has to work to maintain that human façade. The thing is, this book was not "Midnight Sun," and the story is told from Bella's point of view, so the reader doesn't get the benefit of knowing Edward's thought processes. He's a bit passive-aggressive, but I think what Meyer intended to show was that he was forceful and dangerous. Didn't work.

Which isn't to say that I totally hated the book. I do like that Bella readily loves and accepts Edward despite his being "different," although the way he's described, it's not really all that hard to love people who are easy on the eyes. Bella's annoyingly angsty and obsessive, but she's not a total Mary Sue. So I can forgive. I'm not sure why everyone in Forks thinks Bella's the greatest thing since sliced bread (and maybe one of the later books will explain exactly why Edward is so taken with the scent of her blood - I hope, because that's driving me crazy). But at least she's not a total Mary Sue who thinks she deserves to be praised simply for existing.

I'll keep reading the series, because the first book WAS escapist and fun. Even if I do want to smack Bella at times, I think the book's got a pretty interesting premise and I'm looking forward to finishing the series. Even if I don't think the hype is quite merited.

America is not the world

So. The election. Yeah, everyone's talking about it (still!) and quite frankly I'm sick and tired of it, but of course I wanted to post about my own reaction to a couple of issues.

Firstly, President-elect Obama. This was bound to be a historic election regardless of whether he or Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination, but I can't think offhand of many places in the world where the leader was someone of mixed heritage, or from an ethnic minority, etc. Female leaders of nations are old hat by now, although I would like to see a woman president in the White House in my lifetime (just please, NOT Sarah Palin!).

Secondly...*dun dun DUN!* Prop 8. I am SO disappointed.

I'm disappointed in the special-interest groups from out of state that poured money into the campaign. I'm disappointed in my neighbors who had those "Yes on 8" signs on their lawn. I'm disappointed that, in an era where we can send a person of mixed heritage to the White House, we can, with the other hand, treat another group of human beings as second-class citizens. Replace "same-sex" with "mixed race" or "interfaith," and we're right back at Jim Crow or even Nazi Germany. Do we really want to travel down that path?

Personally, I don't see what preventing same-sex marriage has to do with "preserving the sanctity of marriage," when heterosexual couples have been making a mockery of the institution since as long as it's existed. I'm the last person who believes in the "sanctity of marriage" because one of my parents made a mockery of his own marriage (which is not, incidentally, to my mother). I believe it SHOULD be sacred; I believe it SHOULD be about two people who love and respect one another enough to make a lifetime commitment to EACH OTHER, and each other alone. What I don't believe in is that it should only exist between a man and a woman. If "God is love," as most faiths teach us, then it is not up to us, mere mortal humans, to judge one form of love as superior to all others, and to decry others as "wrong" or "a sin." We don't decide what sin is. Only God decides.

I'm very live-and-let-live, and I frankly don't care what people do behind their closed doors. I'm straight myself, but I've never believed it's my job as a straight person to decry the lifestyles of my gay friends as "immoral" or "wrong." It's not my business to do so. It's also not my place to strip them of an essential human right, to strip them of personhood or make them feel like they are less than me for being who they are. It's not right, and I wouldn't want it done to me, so I don't do it.

Getting away from the moral aspects, Prop 8 is flat-out illegal. It's illegal to make an amendment to the California constitution via popular referendum; that's the job of California's legislature. Given the state of our economy, I frankly think the Legislature has bigger fish to fry than to worry about the gender of people's spouses.

More to the point, I may be wrong about this, but Prop 8 is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, the highest law of this land. The Equal Protection clause is supposed to guarantee equal protection under the law to all persons, not just some. "Separate but equal" was recognized to be anything but, in the case of schools for persons of color. The same applies to "domestic partner" status, which in no way confers the legal rights that marriage does. Gay people deserve just as much protection under the law as their straight counterparts do.

The other thing that Prop 8 skates dangerously close to is violating the separation of church and state. Under the First Amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." This applies to Federal law, of course, not state law, but this still makes the Defense of Marriage Act indefensible and wrong.

I've spent too much time thinking and talking about this election, and now that the coverage of it has died down a little bit (except for the tinderbox that Prop 8 continues to be), I can finally process some of what I feel about some of the issues that faced us. I don't want to think or talk about politics again for about the next fifty years, though, since the brouhaha surrounding this election was nonstop, and it felt like the longest election cycle ever.

Here's hoping the 2012 elections will be a bit quieter.


OK, in 24 more hours, I'm going to need to be asleep (granted, I need to be asleep now, but I can't), and I will be SO unable to. The day is almost here!

I mean, yeah, all right, I need to live through another day of work (and it's been irritating as HELL this week, you have no idea) and I made no provisions to leave early tomorrow, so I'm sort of stuck. I've been packed since Saturday because I'm trying to avoid last-minute packing, and also I'm just a nerd like that. Well, no, I just want to avoid forgetting something vital at the absolute last minute. I find that if I have my packing done ahead of time I'm less likely to go airheaded at the last possible second and, say, forget my toothbrush. OK, OK - I'm a nerd! There, I said it. :p

This time tomorrow night I'll be in San Leandro, staying at my cousin's house because he's closer to the airport than I am, and he'll be dropping me off at 5:30 am (eek). I have a brief layover in Long Beach (fucking JetBlue, taking me south to go north), then it's another few hours from there to Chitown. At least I'm flying JetBlue, so it's bound not to be too uncomfortable of a flight, and I'll get slightly more than peanuts out of it.

I'll be doing a lot while I'm there, but I'm going to try to do some blogging while I'm in town, just to keep anything memorable fresh. Sunday I'll be at "Wicked," so that will be a blast.

I can't wait I can't wait I can't wait!!! It's been SO long since I had a vacation, even as brief of one as this one is going to be.

random 2 a.m. thoughts

I'm waiting for my iPhone to sync up new versions of several apps (after a couple of crashes and false starts - it's not supposed to take damn near 3 hours to back up and sync, is it? Especially with 2.0.2?), and I need to stay awake till it's done, so here I am.

I haven't been up to very much in the run-up to my Chicago trip...I've made quite a few plans with many people and it looks like I will be surrounded by old friends when I get there, and it looks like I'll be making new friends, which is always good. Pity that they'll be far away when I leave, but that's what emails and IMs and text messages and free evening and weekend minutes on cellphones are for. I'm notoriously bad about keeping in touch (I just called a friend back tonight, 10 days after I last received a text from her - yeah, I suck), unless I just like to call/email and bug you. I do that to Paulie a lot, poor tolerant soul. Although he always lets me know when enough is enough.

Speaking of Paulie, we went and saw "The Dark Knight" last night at the IMAX in Dublin. We didn't get a whole lot of time to hang out after or before the movie, to chill and just talk like we're wont to do, but he did say later that he regretted not asking me to stick around for a drink or something. It was fairly nice last night; it's been really hot, and at around 10:00 p.m. it was still around 85 degrees out in Dublin (back home in Antioch, when I got there an hour later, it was still 91 degrees. And fairly humid). It kind of reminded me of evenings in Vegas, what with the neon signs from all the restaurants around us, and the warm night air. Except without the guys in red shirts handing out calling cards for $300-an-hour hookers every 5 feet (and thank God for that, because seriously? Ew).

Anyway, "Dark Knight" was...well...because it was on IMAX, it was magnificent. I had a feeling that that large a screen might leave me feeling a little sick and dizzy, especially in the scenes where great heights were implied (after all, we are talking about the Batman here, and although in many of his incarnations he doesn't actually fly under his own power, he does so here). I was right, but I was also blown away. Christian Bale isn't as believable as Batman as I'd like - the growly, gravelly Batman voice can be a bit much. He's more believable as Bruce Wayne, especially when he pulls the arrogant-prick act. Christian Bale is a past master at that (see: Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho" and Thomas Berger in "Swing Kids"), but at least in this case he's a (mostly) moral person, to make up for it. Although I do love me some Christian Bale - yeah, I wouldn't want to run into Patrick Bateman even in the safest of suburban environs, but I love Christian Bale.

On to Heath Ledger (RIP) as the Joker, though. In a word: MAGNIFICENT. In more words: frakkin' awesome, omg. I had always found Heath Ledger endearing and charming. Here he's anything BUT endearing, but there's still an undeniable undercurrent of charm, even as sleazy and slippery and scungy (not to mention psychotic!) as he was playing the Joker. You didn't get the sense that under all the makeup it was Heath Ledger playing a part; it was, through and through, the Joker, par excellence. I was blown away.

I'm always drawn to Heath's characters, because he tends to embody them so completely and so naturally (especially Ennis Del Mar in "Brokeback Mountain"). And this was no different - I was drawn to this one, but at the same time, utterly repulsed by him. I couldn't wait to see what act of mad genius he'd get up to next, and that was half the fun of the movie, that he could be creepy and psycho and just...ew, but still intrigue me. It's obvious that Heath really did his homework for the role, he really pulled out - SOMETHING - from some dark, hidden corners of his soul, and just laid it all out on the table. It was a bravura performance, IMO, and something we rarely get to see in comic-book movies. He could have easily devolved into caricature (as Jack Nicholson gleefully did as the Joker in Tim Burton's "Batman"), but he kept the performance tightly controlled and delivered a character that was larger than life and cartoonish, but still layered enough to keep you guessing, and surprisingly intellectual.

It really is a shame that we lost him so young, but he deserves every honor that can be bestowed upon him posthumously for this performance. Well, truthfully, I thought he deserved the Best Actor Oscar for "Brokeback," because he hit that one out of the park as well, but I'll settle for a posthumous Best Supporting Actor or something for "Dark Knight." I never paid him much mind before "Brokeback" (and truthfully, I was watching that one for Jake Gyllenhaal, but it was Heath who ultimately captivated me), but that was when he won me over.

Anyway, the iPhone is finished syncing and it's nearly 4 am. Time to catch some shut-eye, although I'm finding it harder and harder to sleep (or focus on much of anything) as the Chicago trip draws nearer...