9 + 11 = 19

John Stewart’s first Daily Show opening post-9/11; a very moving moment.

I’ve run across a lot of the 9/11 conspiracy sites. I’m fascinated to a shallow level with these sorts of things — how Kennedy was assassinated by shadowy groups of ultrapowerful political types, of how America never landed on the moon, of how 9/11 was really crafted in it’s entirety by the Bush administration to get popular support for the eventual war in Iraq. I say shallow level, because the insanity and idiocy that you can find on the fringes of these discussions will make your head swim.

On the surface, though, there’s some interesting points brought up.   Inconsistencies in the reports of how things went down, weird responses from within the government… All this to say that there’s enough in these discussions that — maybe it’s a little fuzzy around the edges, but it invites and prompts further questioning and examination.

Do I believe that 9/11 was caused by the government?  I don’t think it’s something that is above or beneath our government, on some levels — which is to say, big business, and the people who worship the bottom line more than the common man.  But I don’t think that this is to their credit (or blame), because our government is, generally speaking,  incompetent.

Yup, I really believed that the picture of Bush reading to the kids upside-down might have been for real.

I do think that the administration should be held to the fire for its poor response(s), for silencing critics of its actions with accusations of antipatriotism, for using nearly 3,000 victims of a cruel attacks as an excuse to further its own interests (be they political, financial, or personal), for making political slogans instead of real and valuable change.

I commonly mention that 9/11 didn’t really affect me; I’ve never been to New York, I didn’t know anyone who was hurt or killed in the WTC or the Pentagon or Flight 93.  But then I realize that we all — every American, every Muslim in the entire world, and every Arab now viewed as a terrorist because of their skin color, every airline passenger — were affected by the events of that September day in 2001.

And years later, I don’t know that it matters too much who is responsible for it.  The lessons to be learned — the most valuable ones, to me — have more to do with preparedness, with watching our elected (ha!) leaders more carefully, with not blinding ourselves behind a veil of patriotism.

And in the meantime, I should mention that as long as the victims are remembered and their stories repeated, they will never really be gone.

Theory in action

I’ve long had ideas about web design and development — one idea, specifically, has been bumping around in my head for well over a year at least.  And pursuit of those thoughts has led me into new areas — information architecture, bleeding-edge technology versus the limitations of the lowest common denominator, etc.

Web design and development (as well as implementation) has long fascinated me, and I realized today that that’s in part because it neatly balances the hemispheres of the brain.  There’s a lot of logic involved, as well as a lot of creativity.  You can get by in the profession lacking one or the other, as long as you specialize — I’ve got many creative friends who can design well but can’t implement their ideas in code, even with a Dreamweaver or FrontPage; just as I have friends who can program sleek and clean code but couldn’t design their way out of a paper bag.

I’m good at both without being great (just like all things in life); unfortunately, companies want specialization, without realizing that both sides also have huge egos, and getting them to meet in the middle (which is necessary to make websites work) is not a fun proposition.

At any rate… Having toyed with these theories of information architecture for all these months now, but not really progressing, imagine my surprise to find out that my ideas are currently being implemented, and in a very sexy way. It’s both bleeding edge and conforms to best practices and standards of the community.  It’s – well, to be redundant but verbose, incredibly stimulating.

I’m not sure what’s more disturbing — how overwhelming all this is to me, or the fact that I refer to (and think of) computing as “sexy”. Not that I’ll be buying a bouquet of roses for my PC, but a nice dinner seems almost in order…

Clothes make the man (less naked, maybe)

I like to laugh at people who get caught up in fashion trends.  I’m speaking and thinking specifically of miniskirts in combo with those stupid eskimo boots with superfuzz on top, but this applies in a more general sense, too.

I think I’m really acutely aware of this because I work in a bar that serves college-aged kids, and I work also on a college campus (coincidentally, we also cater to college-aged kids).  I like to think this is more of a high-school thing, but I witness every day that it follows you in adulthood, too.

If a trend catches up with you, people will generally spot your honest intentions.  Just because suddenly everyone is wearing exactly the same things that you’ve worn for twenty years — because you’re comfortable in them, not because it’s kewl and trendy —  that’s one thing, and it’s okay.  Even if you’re the hideous woman who started the miniskirt and eskimo boot thing.

It’s when you’re dressing to impress that I laugh (or worry, or maybe both).  Who exactly are you trying to impress?  What does dressing like everyone else say about you as a personality?  And how can you afford to shift your wardrobe every year?

My views stem partially from necessity — I’ve never had the kind of money required to be overly self-conscious of what I’m wearing.  I could, of course, have taken the alternate route — the road littered with the refuse of a million slackers — and shopped exclusively at thrift stores, going for that “GenX/Skater/Too Cool for You” look.  But I never really wanted to look like Ethan Hawke, or anyone else from Dead Poets Society, for that matter.

Odds are pretty good that you’ll find me in a t-shirt  and jeans — maybe ripped, maybe not.  Depends on how old they are, and if I’ve felt like buying clothes in the last six months.  I own a fair number of button-down shirts, some sweaters, courduroy pants, shorts, even a tux — and you might catch me wearing one or more of the above.  Perhaps I’m in the mood.  Probably not.

My clothes can tell you a lot about me, if you’re perceptive and careful to analyze.  The only thing the trendy person’s clothes tell me about him or her is that there’s not much of a personality underneath.

MUCKFUPPET world premiere: Saturday, 9/23/06, The Alabama Theater

This just in:

MUCKFUPPET, the short film from the 2006 Sidewalk Sidewrite Grand Prize winning script, will be showing at the Alabama Theater (the 1800 block of 3rd Avenue North, you uncultured heathens) as part of the Alabama Shorts number 2 block of films.  Also included in this block are Yuri Shapochka’s WAITING, the production prize winner from Sidewrite, and Jennifer West’s PIECE OF CAKE.

MUCKFUPPET stars Melissa Bush and Scott Ross as two friends meeting for lunch and conversation.  I would tell you more, but at just under 8 minutes long, do you really need to know more than that?


Okay — it’s a romantic piece, there’s no twist, and not a single element of gore or horror.  I know — how unlike me, right?  But it worked.  Let’s see — it also features an amazing look, thanks to the cinematography of Chance Shirley, the lighting of Chris Hilleke, and 16mm film.

That’s right: this film was shot on film.  You don’t see that every day. Probably because it’s painfully expensive, but ignore that.

Better yet: don’t ignore it.  Come see it, and then tell the stars and the crew what a great job they did, because this was an expensive venture.

Saturday, September 23, 1:30 PM at the Alabama Theater. See Sidewalk Film Festival for more details.

To dream, perchance to sleep

A cowboy once said, “You know more than you speak, and I speak more than I know.”

I see myself in characters on the movie screen, on the printed page. I find a little of myself in every piece of art, every entertainment, high to low. Sometimes in heroes, sometimes in villains, always in a key (if not highlighted) role.

Looking back, I have yet to find you in those stories. A bit here, perhaps, and a hint there, but no muse has ever inspired a character quite you. The songs I hear don’t wrap the feelings in the right words, don’t wrap the right feelings in words. The daydreams inspired by movies and comic book arcs don’t hold the grandeur that I feel laying next to you, wondering if this is real, if I’m dreaming, why I am so lucky.

“It seemed natural,” you purred sleepily.

For all the changes, for all the holes in me that your luminescence uncovers, I am fulfilled, or perhaps at peace. Knowing that — no matter what else comes — I was not wrong all the years, determined to believe that my waking dream existed. And if the most unbelievable and romantic can come to pass, can be found in the material world, hand in hand with sunlight and open eyes, then nothing else that I can imagine is impossible; anything and everything is out there, waiting to be discovered with patience and open eyes and a heart filled with belief.

What a wonderful world, I think to myself. So the song goes…

For Every Season: Turn Burn, Burn, Burn

My friend Trixie writes a nice post about the coming of autumn, a metaphor for the changes in her life. In response, I’m going to shit all over her well-worded ponderings by complaining that, by the gods, summer will never end.

There’s something funny about this apartment.  I’m wagering on some sort of haunting or somesuch; every night between about 9 and midnight or 1 AM, no matter what the day’s weather, the air conditioner stops working.  It’s not broken, I mean; you can hear the motor whirring, and if you put your hand by the vent, you can feel the oh-so-tempting tease of cool air coming out.  But it’s hot in here.  Hot.  Not quite Auschwitz on Cullom Street hot, but enough.

It’s not just me.  CL has noticed it, independently.

And the leaves are turning yellow, and beginning to fall from their branches and gather on the ground, but I think that’s just the trees’ way of saying goodbye, fair world, it’s too fucking hot for us around here.  We’re packing our shit and moving up north.

Even the squirrels around here don’t really have the usual bushy tails, so I’m betting it’s never going to be cool here again.


All I really want is to be able to wear my long-sleeve t-shirts without dehydrating in five minutes. Is that too much to ask?

To Be The Best

Being the best is a matter of technical ability, which can be gained through intense study and practice.

Being the best requires ambition, perserverance, determination. Discipline can be taught; if the desire is there, the necessary tools can be adopted.

Being the best requires some amount of gift, of talent, of birthright. Some are more given to a field than others; if you’re lucky, your gift matches your dreams. If you’re unlucky, you’re among the majority.

Being the best at some point becomes a matter of the opinions and tastes of the outside world. There is no pinnacle, only a plateau that holds space for a select few. At that point (as with any superlative), ranking becomes an issue decided by the leanings of the masses.

I often wonder what it would have been like to be among the elite, to be considered the best.