Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Swing-and-a-Miss South Carolina

Hello there. I know, I said I was going to make an effort to update this more often, and then I dropped the ball for about two weeks. Last week I had intended to write a little ditty about Karl Rove's resignation, the legacy he leaves behind, what it says about the future of the Bush White House, etc, but such a post really required more focus and overall brain cells than I was willing to commit, so it sort of fell by the wayside. I'll just do the Cliffnotes version real quick: brilliant strategist...no commitment to morality...gave us the equivalent of political pornography = all message, no substance...West Wing quote: "Don't we want leadership to sound and feel like [vision], instead of appealing to our least expensive - however legitimate - desire to feel good about ourselves?"

But today I want to talk about South Carolina.



Have you seen this clip? By now you should have. Everyone's getting a kick feeling smug and superior to this bumbling beauty queen. Really, though, isn't this how we want our attractive people? To be incoherent and uninsightful? To appeal to our least expensive - however legitimate - desire (see above) to feel better than them in some way, shape, or form? I know I do.

In Miss South Carolina's defense, it was a pretty stupid question. Why can't 1/5 of Americans locate the U.S. on a world map? What possible answer could you give to that? One-fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map because the moon is made of cheese. Because the terrorists hate freedom. Because Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Obviously the only answer is because our education system has failed them, because we don't place a satisfactory emphasis on international affairs.

And I'm sure that's the inherent problem with Miss South Carolina's answer. I don't watch beauty pageants, but I'm pretty sure they're coached to always be bright and upbeat. Positive energy wins you that crown. And there's no positive answer you can give to that question. Even the Bush Administration couldn't put an optimistic spin on that statistic. It's because America's education system sucks. That's the only correct answer. And who wants a Miss America who thinks our country sucks? I think poor Miss South Carolina got sandbagged.

What I really like about the clip, though, is her bizarre focus on South Africa. Clearly someone just learned about apartheid in school. Her focus on the maladies of the South African education system specifically seems to imply that the rest of the Dark Continent is doing okay. Somalia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Zimbabwe...their educational systems are chugging along nicely. It's just that darn South African one that's problematic. If only we could fix it, everything else would fall into place.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Way to go, God

Oops.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Have your steak and eat it, too

My mom sent me an article today from the New York Times. It's about women who order beef in order to impress their dates. To show she's not dainty, that she's a guy's girl. It's unclear to me if they order The Beef because they actually enjoy it or whether they do so solely to land a man, but it seems like a lot of thought has been put into a pretty benign activity. If it's a good date, I really don't care what you order. And if it's a bad date, I'm paying more attention to the price tag than which demographic of the food pyramid it covers. Settle down with that basket of dinner-rolls and I'll be happy. Now watch me eat this salmon.

The thing about the New York Times is, I feel like The Paper of Record is sometimes writing in a secret code that only the very astute will pick up on. Like if you keep your eyes open you'll be able to extract a hidden message within the text of the article, whereby the author sends a camoflauged insult at one of her subjects. For example: "It seems wimpy, insipid, childish [to order a salad]," said Michelle Heller, 34, a copy editor at TV Guide. "I don’t want to be considered vapid and uninteresting.”

Now maybe I'm reading too much into that, but I read that sentence and couldn't help but admire the notion that someone who worked at TV Guide would live with serious concerns of being labeled vapid and uninteresting. Someone who spends their life writing about TV line-ups, vapid and uninteresting? Can you imagine! That's like someone from Microsoft saying he doesn't watch Star Trek anymore because he doesn't want people to think he's nerdy. Take a look at your resume, dude.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Once in a lifetime

So I finished The Screwtape Letters and have moved on to Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. A lot of my friends list David Sedaris as one of their favorite authors, but honestly, I've always found him to be a bit overrated. I wouldn't so much say I actually find him funny, as much as I'd say I want to find him funny. He's certainly irreverent (not to be confused with a revenant) and irreverency is supposed to = funny (again, not to be confused with a revenant, which are decidedly not funny). But reading David Sedaris a lot of times is like watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: it should have been good - I wanted it so bad to be good - but it just wasn't.

That being said, I'm enjoying Dress Your Family so far. For example, "[My father] demanded and received an extended lifetime warranty on the refrigerator, meaning, I guessed, that should it leak in the year 2020, he'd return from the grave [speaking of revenants] and trade it in." An extended lifetime warranty. I like that. Sort of like when I was in sixth grade and the local 7-11 had a special going whereby you could buy one candybar for 15 cents or six for a dollar. You wouldn't believe how long it took people to figure out they were getting screwed.

Monday, August 06, 2007

But in Narnia he'd only be 25

I was just entering The Screwtape Letters into my Facebook Books application. This is one of my favorite applications on Facebook. It offers you a podium to brag to the world just how many smart and intelligent books you read (except, of course, when you don't). Plus it provides a competitive rationale to read as many books as possible - so you can keep adding more and more entries to your profile. I do enjoy this demographic that treats reading like a competition. "I read this book in 3 days." "Well, I read it in an afternoon." Really. You read 900-pages of Harry Potter in an afternoon? Good for you. You should have tried spending some of that time in the sunshine instead. It's good for you.

Anyway, I just added The Screwtape Letters, and the lone user review observes, "This young author has definite potential." Are you joking? It's C.S. Lewis. And he's been dead for forty years. Sort of an important contributor to modern Christian literature. You should really look him up on Wikipedia.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Dude, where's my credit card?

Over the weekend a friend of mine lost his credit card at a bar we went to, and he had to call his credit card company the next day and close the account so as to avoid any fraudulent charges. There's no real point to this story, other than it made me realize that Saturday and Sunday mornings must be credit card companies' bread-and-butter for customers calling in to close their accounts. That, and Mardi Gras. There are probably a lot of telecommunication centers in India that become heavily staffed during the 10 am - 2 pm EST timeslot.

A friend of mine once said you know it was a good Friday night when you can't remember what happened but there's $40 missing from your wallet. I guess she just saw the glass as half-full. Personally, I don't think a date rape-and-robbery is the makings of a good time.

Miss Underestimate

Tim Russert just said "misunderestimate." Wow.

Friday, August 03, 2007

That's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight

Here's a quandry: why do they call it "losing your virginity?" You don't really "lose" it. It's not like, "Oh shit, I can't find my virginity!" I suppose you lose it insofar as you once had it and now you don't, but the term "lost" implies that you want to find it again. Lost keys. Lost wallet. Lost Ark. To say nothing of the entire cast of Lost. And really, I don't know many people keen to get their hands back on their virginity...some Catholic girls, maybe.

I can tell you, from a legal terminology standpoint, it should really be referred to as "abandoning your virginity." Property, ie virginity, that is "lost" is property the rightful owner intends to continue to assert ownership over, having lost it involuntarily and through negleigence. Property that is "abandoned," however, is property the owner "intentionally and voluntarily relinquishes all right, title, and interest in." That last one is particularly important. Once you lose your virginity, do you remain interested in it? I don't think so. The only problem here is that "abandoning your virginity" seems to imply a conscious commitment to a life of celebacy, rather than its otherwise intended meaning.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

We're better than London Bridge

Remember me? Now that I've got the bar behind me and nothing to do except apply for jobs, I suppose it's time to see if I can revitalize the whole blogging thing again. Right now I'm reading Jeremy Blachman's Anonymous Lawyer and I'm partly wishing I'd been able to turn my law blawg into a post-law school career, too (even though the book's not exactly a work of literary note).

I feel like I should say something about the Mississippi bridge that collapsed yesterday. First of all, clearly, I wasn't on it. I was a little disappointed that none of my friends outside Minnesota bothered to find out if I was on the bridge or was, in fact, okay, but I guess they're just hoping to get dibbs on my surround sound system if I go the way of the Dodo.

Anyway, to be perfectly honest, I find myself oddly unaffected emotionally by this catastrophe. I'd feel worse about that if most of my friends felt different. Some of my friends started making jokes about how inconvenient life will be without the vital artery connecting Minneapolis with the lands north of the river, while others kept texting and emailing me to make sure I was safe. I think the difference is whether you use the bridge or not. My friends who used it with some frequency seemed to be more upset by its collapse than those of us that didn't. There's another bridge I use to cross the Mississippi every week, and if that one had gone down I'd probably be thinking, "My god, that could have been me on there." But in my three years here I've probably used the 35W bridge maybe five times (although I did use it three days ago).

I was feeling bad about not being more upset, so today I went down to get a first-hand look at it. I thought maybe if I saw the bridge in all its collapsed glory it might sink in emotionally (no pun intended). Unfortunately, the rescue operation was still going on so they'd blocked off most of the vantage points. Here's the best I could do:



This would have irked me much less if I hadn't found out tonight that Matt Lauer and the Today Show are broadcasting from the bridge tomorrow morning. I mean, seriously? I live here and I'm not allowed to go down to witness the havoc wreaked upon my fair city, but let's be sure to cordon off a five-block radius so faux-news poster child Matt Lauer can fly down from New York and get a first-hand look. The guy's probably never even been to the Midwest, let alone Minneapolis, but now he smells a story, so he's gotta rush down here and pretend like he gives a shit...New Orleans, anyone (again, no pun intended)? If he doesn't once use the word "terrorism" tomorrow (if only to dismiss the possibility thereof) I'll buy you a brand new pony.