Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman

Paul Newman finally succumbed to Cancer, and died at the age of 83. I have a fondness for Paul Newman the actor — not just in his performances, but in the risks that he took as an actor.

Initially dubbed as a Brando knock-off, Newman quickly grew into his own. From Cool Hand Luke and The Hustler to The Verdict and The Color of Money, he inhabited characters that had the potential for greatness, yet were mired by their own failings and weaknesses. Roles in The Sting, Butch Cassidy, and Slapshot showed the otherside of Newman - the wry trickster who was able to get you to laugh at and with him.

Whereas Brando's performances were outsized, so were the roles he demanded. Newman broke from this, playing more understated characters. Brando may have amazed us with his realism, but Newman's performances were believable, and inhabited cinema realities that were equally credible.

His strength as a performer was potent, and his impression was clearly felt on a generation of actors, from greats like Robert Redford and Robert Deniro to almost greats like Burt Reynolds and Mickey Rourke.

In a time when politicans are throwing around the word Maverick like cheap rice at a wedding - Newman was a true maverick - from his choices as an actor to his humanitarian pursuits. With his passing, one more of the movie star greats has left us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I was discussing homophobia the other night, and I have some views on this for the record. I have some theorize on why homophobia is the way it is.

Paranoia of Others
I feel as though homophobia has a different shade of bigotry than other types. Unlike ethnic and cultural biases, homosexuality can occur in any society, in any race, and in any gender group. So in a sense "gayness" can happen anytime, anywhere. Someone could come out of the closet at any time. So there's a paranoia of others.

Paranoia of Self and "the Spectrum"

We were in agreement with the concept of a sexuality spectrum. Few people are "100% straight" or "100% gay". I think I'm on the spectrum enough to recognize a guy that women would find attractive — I wouldn't confuse George Clooney for George Costanza. And I think most people who fall into a homo or hetero bucket are similarly on the spectrum.

This is in contrast with what society has been telling itself — until recently, we've lived in a cultural landscape populated with John Wayne on one side, and Richard Simmons on the other, with no gray area inbetween. For one to have thoughts that puts oneself on the spectrum, yet be shaped by this black and white dichotomy creates a tension. There's a paranoia that if you aren't "The Duke", you must be the guy in leotards, making sweating to the oldies with limp wrists.

And the pressure is high, because of the stakes that society has created. Homosexuals are marginalized, the victims of prejudice and violence. Outing yourself as a homosexual has long been the social equivalence of bankruptcy. You lose everything - your friends, sometimes your family. You essentially have to rebuild your life from scratch. I can see why that is terrifying - ignoring the fact that these pressures are created by the intolerance of our own society. I do feel this paranoia crosses gender lines, but is generally more pervasive and vitriolic among men. And I do feel that masculine stereotypes in western culture is tied more strongly to heterosexuality, then feminine stereotypes.

Introspection and transcending the Spectrum
When I was in high school, I had some very private and tense moments, where I simultaneously couldn't stop thinking about homosexuality, while being terrified that that meant I was gay. At the same time, I wasn't aroused by the thought of sex with men, and I was very aroused by women. Still, I was shaken to say the least.

In time, I realized that introspective people consider all ranges of human existence. Part of intelligence is to consider that which you are not. What would it like to be Asian? To live in Ancient Rome? To be a tree? To kill someone? To win the Nobel Prize? To eat a live octopus? How can we not consider these situations at some point in our repose. And when the consideration is aimed at wondering what being gay would be like, the questions are pretty specific and graphic. What would it be like to live with someone of the same sex, to have a sexual relationship with them?

But because of the self-paranoia, this specific type of consideration is terrifying in our culture. We wonder - does this mean I'm gay, and I just can't accept it. In the John Wayne/Richard Simmons world - simply thinking about gayness means you are gay.

Ultimately, I matured to a point where it just sunk in that the physical act of homosexuality was totally unappealing to me on a visceral level - like the idea of eating a live octopus is totally unappealing to me. And the crisis passed. Of course, the difference is that there is no cultural paranoia that I might secretly want to eat octopus.

Preventing Introspection
I believe that people are either fundamentally introspective, or they are not. non-introspective people do consider other possibilities, but I would say those considerations are more pragmatic, and often subconscious.

For this group of non-introspective people, considering alternatives is probably like the edge of your peripheral vision. Those things are there, but they just don't ever get examined or pursued - it just fades into grayness. By not considering these things consciously, you are unable to follow the train of thought to its conclusion.

When it comes to homosexuality, that means a subconscious consideration that is never fully completed, and therefore a crisis that is never resolved.

To deal with the paranoia of this particular unresolvable crisis, firewalls are created. There is a "I'm not going there" mentality. But in doing so, the paranoia is actually heightened - because rational thought is not allowed to hold court. In the void of rational thought, the paranoia takes over.

And you see it in heterosexual relationships. We catch each other, and issue warnings. "You sound like a fag." "What are you, a homo?" "I'm not gay, but..." It's like we create this linguistic warning system to make sure we stay in the John Wayne tent.

Catching Gay
There is a perceived immorality about homosexuality, despite the fact that its been poven to be largely biological. This misunderstanding is based on the unresolved crisis, and a self fear that one could still be gay, if the firewall were to be breached. To cope with that incorrect assumption, homosexuality is characterized as an immoral act, and that its some type of cult. This actually reinforces the latent fear that one could become gay, and that a homosexual person would want to turn you gay, like some type of vampire.

At the end of the day, you can't catch gay. You are either gay or you aren't. I'm speculating here, but the compartmentalization one does to avoid thinking about homosexuality is probably light years away from the type of self denial and compartmentalization that occurs when somebody really is gay, and is exerting maximum force to prevent consciously accepting it.

Fear based silence on issues
The paranoia runs so deep, that to talk about gay issues seems to automatically implicate somebody as secretly gay. I'm sure somebody reading this post might come to that conclusion about me. It's unfortunate, because its the type of reactionary panic that prevents more open dialogs about homosexuality and homophobia. The kind of dialog that would allow better acceptance of not just homosexuals, but for heterosexuals to accept themselves. After all, if the paranoia is that you could be turned gay, or choose to be gay, doesn't that actually weaken one's own tie to "John Wayne" straightness - its like a broad based, cultural insecurity. One that has left millions emotional and physical casualties in its wake.

The future
My personal wish is for homosexuality to be accepted as a biologically initiated characteristic, like left handedness. I don't want our friends and our children to have to grow up in a world where if they are gay, that it becomes a stigmatizing event. I don't want to see a world where being called gay or a fag is an insult - just like I don't want to see racism.

Unfortunately, unlike these other prejudices, homosexuality is one rooted not in fear of others, but in fear of what may be lurking in oneself. Even more sad and ironic, that fear prevents the type of self exploration that would lead to a reassuring and anti-climactic conclusion. It seems as though we as a society are becoming more tolerant, but that we still have a long way to go in the self-honesty department.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Hi guys. Thanks Jo - I'm sure I'll do better than your crap ass posts.

Let's get things started with a little MJ to melt your brain. He may or may not be a monster, but while the jury is out, let's watch some of the sickest footwork I've ever seen...

and through that I found some asian kid who one ups the moonwalk... I'm not even sure what I'm looking at here - but that's sick, yo!


I'm passing over the reigns to brant, a good friend of mine. I think you'll see no dip in quality, since there wasn't any to begin with. I'll pop back in from time to time, but I'm leaving it in his capable hands.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

In logolounge

Logolounge publishes an annual selection of 2000 logos. My logo for front range vista got in from over 33,000 submissions. So next summer, unless disaster strikes, I'll be able to head down to Barnes and Noble and find my logo on the shelf. I could pretend I don't like to toot my own horn, but we all know that's BS.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Palin's Speech

8:37 - Sounds gracious, and enthused about McCain (of course).

8:38 - Painting McCain as maverick. Making pollsters and pundits (media) the enemy.

8:40 - McCain military service - tied to success in Iraq. Makes mother of soldier connection ("I'm one of you" moment). Makes her own family's service record known.

8:41 - almost angry "USA" chants.

8:42 - Calls out her kids, and references her current family challenges.

8:43 - Uses her husband to establish blue collar credentials, and her wholesome life choices.

8:44 - Acknowledges women's rights.

8:45 - Connects her "heartland" upbringing to Harry Truman (former Vice President).

8:45 - Hockey mom/Pitbull joke - insinuates her toughness.

8:46 - Rips on Obama as community organizer. "Guns and Religion" comment. Accusing Obama of flip flopping, and apparently that "Rookie" Obama is also an elite insider.

8:48 - Why are these speeches about getting people to boo.

8:49 - Now she's teeing up on the press.

8:50 - Challenge the status quo? With four more years of republicans in the white house?

8:52 - She is reaffirming her commitment, and referencing her history as reformer. It's unsettling that she sees the executive branch is in need of reform. I can agree with her on that.

8:54 - Power of veto. Her record showing vetos to save half a billion dollars. Claiming her fiscal acumen. "Bridge to Nowhere"; she opposed it, (but she didn't mention than when she was running for governor, she supported it)

8:56 - Fighting for offshore drilling. These guys are all ready to stoke the coals of the Cold War. Because that's what we need right now. Will she acknowledge that it doesn't make any short term difference? I guess not. How is that energy dependence? Apparently not drilling is "doing nothing at all".

8:59 - Rips Obama on not authoring laws. Rips him for not referring to Iraq with the term "victory". Rips on the Democratic set (okay, we deserve that one.) Associates him with unsafe relations to terrorists. Rips Obama for wanting human rights accorded to enemy combatants. Associating him with Big Government and money. Here comes the "TAX Attack" - don't polls show that Americans are more worried about benefits right now? "A massive tax burden".

9:04 - "Change to Promote Career" = Obama; "Career to Promote Change" McCain. Getting nasty again. People keep promoting McCain as bipartisan, but then the speaker makes incrediblly partisan statements. Wow - really natsy, and painting legislature as weak, do nothing. "path to Presidency is not supposed to be journey of personal discovery". I can't even keep up with the shots being taken.

9:06 - There was any fear that she was going to be all smiles, she's dispelled that. I think she's succeeded in eliminating any question from the minds of Hillary supporters. Pretty nasty - not as bad as Rudi.

9:10 - It's pretty hard to take positive statements and negative statements, alternating so rapid fire...


Watching the convention... Rudy Giuliani is really getting nasty and personal. He's also objecting to statements that the press, not the Obama campaign, made, yet the latter the credit for making them. That's pretty disappointing. Mrs. Jones just got in, heard the speech on the radio, and had a similar reaction. Policy aside, that's wasn't a very classy move as a convention speaker. Rovian politics, here we come...

Problems with Palin & Abstinence Training

The McCain camp is coming out swinging hard. I understand (if I don't totally agree) that the personal lives of candidates should be off limits. But what I've seen is journalists asking questions about her lack of experience are getting snapped back at. If she is the reformer, outsider - journalists should have the right ascertain if the label "neophyte" is also applicable.

The next issue is her daughter. Look, early pregnancies happen all the time - I'm not going to judge that actions of teenagers. What I will be critical of is Palin's staunch pro-abstinence education stance. It didn't work here, and it doesn't work in most places. In 3rd world countries, its even less relevant. Children can be a blessing for the right people, but if they aren't, there's no putting the genie back in the bottle. And I haven't heard of people who are applauded for deciding to keep their STDs.

Abstinence is lifestyle decision. You can't enforce it - I was listening to NPR this morning and a female delegate interviewed was quoted as defending Palin's stance, saying essentially: Look you can teach it, but kids go off and make their own decisions. Exactly; but then what is the point? So that you have the moral self satisfaction of leading the horse to water, and then be blase about the fact that it died of thirst in front of the trough? Bravo.

As a parent, if you want to impart those values, fine (although that didn't seem to stick here), but in terms of education, protection is what is going to work. It accommodates not just choices - like abstinence - but people who are born homosexual. A christian, right-wing diatribe on abstinence is going to fall on deaf ears if gay and lesbian students feel ostracized already. of course, there is the latent insinuation that whatever happens to homosexuals not practicing abstinence is their own fault. Or what if your parents don't share the same values as a school with a right-wing agenda. Certainly the parents can fill that void with proper education - but then the school is doing a disservice to its students.

I'm getting a little tangential here, but the main point is this: the right to teach value-based abstinence is questionable, but its failure is not: In the past 8 years, money to fund abstinence has gone from 60 million to over 176 million (source - Advocates for Youth). Mathematica Policy Research Inc., a non-partisan group found that abstinence does not lower the rate of teen sexual activity. If supporters are going to fight for the right to teach it, shouldn't they be held accountable for both its failure as a program, and the money that's been tossed down the drain. Of course, that money is probably spent every 3 days fighting the war in Iraq, but one rant at a time.

If teens are going to ignore or fundamentally disagree with abstinence training, to engage in sexual activity without understanding the importance and logistics of protection - then we're just punishing them. It's the equivalent of telling your teens not to drink and drive, but when they call you drunk from a party at 1AM, you decide not to pick up the phone. Roll over and go back to sleep good parent: they can get home some way - and you've done your part; any trouble they into is their own fault for not listening. Maybe some kindly date rapist with abstinence education under his belt will give your daughter a lift home.


Bringing this back to my original beef with Palin - I respect that she may have been picked in part for her conservative views, to appeal to moral conservatives and the Christian Right. What I don't respect is this shell game that the McCain camp is playing, expecting Hillary supporters who were enthused to elect a female to the white house to suddenly drop their values and IQs, by voting for somebody who's policies couldn't be more different. The gender card is definitely being played here, to the detriment of everybody, including the McCain campaign.

The liberals get slammed as being intellectual elitists - I'll wear that badge with pride as a smart, smug asshat. But being a moral elitist? A holier than though hypocrite who believes the only help needed to be given by the government is in the form of morality brainwashing, and that services shouldn't be funded that can benefit those who haven't fully adopted those values? A sink or swim mentality to your own constituents?

Yeah, I'll take the intellectual elitism, thanks. Not that the past 8 years haven't been fun.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Snap Judgements: Don't hide the bromance, bro.

At first this looked like the back of any X-Games watching, pseudo counterculture participating meathead's truck.

But wait a minute... what's that in the window?

That's so cute!