Monthly Archives: September 2007

Near Julie’s house on the outskirts of Colosse there was a chiropractor that put up clever little jokes or insights on his sign to grab attention. It was successful as far as that goes. Had I needed a chiropractor, I knew where to go.

There is a hotel near where I work that puts up a different sort of sign. I remember the first one that I saw said “Made in the USA!” I thought it was a clever little joke because who the heck thinks that they’re mass-producing hotels in China to bring over here? The next one said something like “American-owned, American-operated!” I read that and figured that they were either simply playing up their American roots, though the thought was occurring to me that perhaps they were gently trying to say that you don’t have to worry about the hotel being one of those Indian-owned and operated outfits.

After that, the signs started to become more pointed. It went from “Serving Americans since 1957” to “Serving Real Americans since 1957”. They’d also periodically have one about not needing to dial one to speak to someone in English in their hotel and another that was up for a while that said “America is for Americans”.

I am all about free speech and all that. I do not begrudge them the right to air their views with varying degrees of subtlety on their signs. It’s not particularly likely that I’m going to let the political views of an establishment’s owner (however indelicately expressed) affect my choice with only rare exception.

That being said, I do have to question the wisdom of expressing such views at a hotel. A hotel only a few hours from the Mexican border, at that. Patriotism is great for selling cars, but it is really such a good idea for the hospitality industry? The town where I work has Mexican police conventions, Mexican business conventions, Mexicans visiting relatives, and conventions that bring in people from throughout the world. Is taking jabs at people that are not Americans really a smart thing to do? I can’t imagine if I were in France that I would be drawn to a hotel that said “France is for the French” or some variation of “Speak French or go home!”

It’s really quite bizarre.


Category: Downtown

My wife Clancy and I had pretty similar upbringings. We were both raised in somewhat conservative families, both taught that school was a priority and that we’d be going to college one day, both were raised with a hot-tempered and an even-tempered parent, and were expected to attend church weekly when we were young. But in that last similarity is a pretty significant difference.

Clancy was raised in Bavariana, the eastern portion of our home state of Delosa. Bavariana has a notable and distinct German Catholic population. It’s one of the most Catholic-friendly regions in the south. When you cross the county line from Rockford to Mueller, suddenly all of the town names are German and all the churches are Catholic. She was raised Catholic and was surrounded by people raised Catholic.

I was raised Episcopalian in the protest remainder of Delosa. Central and western Delosa have a hundred thousand denominations and while there is a strong thread of evangelical protestantism, it’s presence in the upper middle class community where I grew up, with families that moved there from all across the country, it wasn’t all that strong.

One of the earliest disagreements Clancy and I had involved the nature of organized religion. My view is on the whole pretty positive, hers not so much. I view them as a building block upon which society is formed. I see religion, even when I disagree with them, as an ultimate positive for society. Clancy sees them with considerably more suspicion.

It’s no accident that she was raised Catholic and I was raised Episcopalian. We were raised in churches that are very similar in form but quite different in function. The way we see church is inherently influenced by our experiences in the ones we belonged to. I don’t see organized religion as inherently restrictive because I attend one of the least restrictive denominations. She sees them as more authoritarian because she belonged to a church that was more authoritarian

I’ve noticed a pattern with my friends. Those raised in more devout families or in more demanding denominations or religions are the most and the least religious people that I know. Meanwhile, those that were raised where the household religion was non-existent, less prevalent, one more of ceremony and social brotherhood rather than gospel and doctrine are more likely to be non-practicing (or sporadically practicing) believers or quiet, respectful disbelievers.

The most angry anti-religionists I can name off the top of my head are those in Deseret. They either felt the pain of leaving the LDS church or of being surrounded by the influence of a church that they don’t belong to. Deseret was also home to some of the most devout believers I’ve ever met. Outside of Deseret, I think of Catholic Clancy and my friend Kyle who was raised in the Church of Christ.

Inversely I think of most of my friends from my high school and college years. My friend Dave was not raised to be religious (as far as I know) and he’s not a very religious person. At the same time, he demonstrates a degree of respect for religious as it pertains to moral and spiritual guidance, provided that it stays out of the way of science. A lot of people I know that grew up in ostensibly non-religious (to be differentiated from “anti-religious”) house have that kind of attitude.

An example closer to me is Clint. Clint was raised a staid Presbyterian and was, as long as I’d known him, something of a believer but not in the energetic sense. He displayed no particularly animus towards organized religion… until he went off to Southern Cross University in Gilead for college. Cross was a very religious institution and by the time he got out he was almost an atheist. The further he got from Gilead, the less scary religion became to him and he’s actually started about going to church again.

For those of us raised in more accepting environments, church just takes on a new meaning. Church was once and I’m sure will be a place for me to find spiritual solace. Whereas Clancy’s experiences with organized religion involve a lot of it telling its perishoners what to do and how to believe, my mental associations don’t involve that at all. Less a pronouncement and more an exploration. It’s a place that welcomes me even if I don’t quite believe everything that they tell me.

I’m not going to say that my church’s way of approaching faith is right and others are wrong, though of course I see it that way if you can get enough scotch in me to get me to admit as much. But rather the way that I see church, the role I believe it provides as a social institution and facilitator of spiritual reflection rather than an institution meant to control, is very much rooted in the experiences I’ve had with it. The good news is that it is amenable to people like me that would have a devil of a time trying to acclamate ourselves with a more rigid theology. The bad news is that it makes it so much easier to stray from the flock. It makes the transition out that it’s become difficult for the Episcopal Church to hold on to its adherents.

On the flipside, other churches make it much more difficult to leave. I’ve had conversations with disgruntled Catholics and have praised the virtues of the Episcopal Church and I hit a wall. There’s a certain “It’s Catholic or it’s nothing” vibe. Sure, some liberal Catholics do become Episcopalians and some conservatives become Orthodox, but almost all of the disgruntled Catholics are I know are, by definition, Catholic, and almost all of the former Catholics I know stopped attending church altogether. While the Episcopal Church may fit the definition of what they say they want (a more theologically flexible Catholic Church) it simply doesn’t fit their idea of what a church is supposed to do.

They see the church’s function as being what the Catholic Church was to them, similar to how I see the church’s function as being what the Episcopal Church was to me.


Category: Church

Megan McArdle has a post about the merits (or lack thereof) of cable channel unbundling based on a post on The Coyote Blog explaining why he doesn’t believe it should be legislatively mandated. I’m against laws mandating unbundling of channels, but I don’t have the time and energy to debate the subject (my benevolent Webmaster and I have done so on multiple occasions). If you want to know why I believe as I do, ask and I’ll let you know.

But I am going to explore one aspect of bundling, which is that because some people are paying for channels that they’re not watching, some portion of the cable-buying public is subsidizing the viewing habits of another portion.

In the comment section of McArdle’s blog, Shawn Levasseur proclaims the following:

That’s happening now with sports channels, especially ESPN. As it stands now, sports channels are subsidized heavily by people who don’t watch sports. Cable systems bicker every now and again, threatening to drop various sports channels, or demand that they become optional premium stations (like the movie premium channels).

I could go on about how major league sports’ growth is currently driven by forcing the non-fan to pay in many different ways, but that’s a bit too much of a thread drift.

While Levasseur is correct that major league sports growth is financed muchly by non-sports fans (particularly in publically-financed sports venues), I believe that he has it backwards as it pertains to cable television.

I would be willing to bet money that ESPN and the Fox Sports affiliates are among the highest rating cable channels. I also suspect that without those channels, cable subscriptions would drop considerably. If you have any contrary data, feel free to prove me wrong. But insofar as that is the case, it is actually ESPN watchers* subsidizing the rerun networks (TNT, USA, etc) and niche channels (the do-it-yourself channel, fighter plans channel, and so on) which I would wager garner much lower ratings.

So hate on sports all you want and complain as loudly as you like about how publically-financed sports stadiums and student fee financed collegiate athletic programs are unfair to non-sports fans. I’ll agree, for the most part. But insofar as cable and satellite TV is concerned, I believe that they are doing you a favor.

* – Sports fans aren’t the only ones. Cable news networks, for instance, do better as well. Popular original programming channels such as The Cartoon Network and Comedy Central also have large followings and are helping subsidize the less popular networks.


Category: Theater

I finally caught the end of Aaron Sorkin’s latest series, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Sorkin’s first major TV show (that I’m aware of) SportsNight caught the attention of critics though failed to ignite with the public. His follow-up, The West Wing, was a hit with both. His third effort, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, was canceled after the first season and it was considered fortunate that it lasted that long.

So the question is… what went wrong?

The biggest problem, I think, is that Studio 60 played to Sorkin’s biggest weaknesses while failing to get the audience along for the ride.

The biggest problem was the most essential: the premise. Why Sorkin and NBC thought we would enjoy a TV show about Hollywood producers preaching to the American people is completely beyond me. I think Hollywood in general has this notion that because we buy People magazine and care about celebrities that we care a whole lot about what goes on behind the creative process. By and large we don’t. But worse than the faulty premise, they took the behind-the-scenes approach and made it unattractive to even people like me that might be interested by making it half about the making of the show and half about the point of the show within a show which is the main characters’ crusade within the show to overcome the stuffy network execs and censors and tell us how we should think.

Which leads to problem number two: sanctimony. Sorkin seems to be a pretty bright guy. It’s obvious that he thinks about the issues that are important to him. He seems like the sort of guy that yells at the President and other political opponents when he’s giving a speech on TV. There is almost a pent up rage there wherein he will go out of his way to have one of the characters air some sort of political rant that you can tell Sorkin, and not the character saying it, has been to let out. He did this a lot on The West Wing, too, but it was more appropriate to a political drama than to this. The conceit that we should be as happy to hear a Hollywood producer or actor spout off self-righteous diatribes as we are to hear the fictional President of the United States do it tells us quite a bit about the inflated sense of importance that Sorkin and Hollywood have for their place in the political debate.

None of this is to say that I actually had a problem with the content of the rants themselves. But even when I very much agreed with what he was saying, he made his point of view sound the incontrovertible truth when I could easy come up with a retort. Sorkin’s at his best when he’s doing back-and-fourth dialogue. Sorkin forgets that sometimes. On West Wing he forgot it during the mock-2002 election between Jed Bartlet and Robert Ritchie. Republican Ritchie was nothing but a rhetorical punching bag wherein Bartlet could display his intellectual superiority over an idiot Republican. Somehow, though, he was actually worse about the one-sided political rants on a show about a TV show than he was on a show about the White House.

On some level Sorkin realized this shortcoming and he tried to compensate for it by self-deprecation. The Hollywood liberal jokes were ever-present, but it came across more as that sort of half-joke that the guy with the really bad temper has when he pretends to get upset about something and you think he’s joking but the uncertainty and familiarity of it makes you more uneasy than humor-filled.

The last thing thing he did was fail to let the show write itself. In the first season of The West Wing, Sorkin attempted to set up romantic chemistry between Josh and Mandy. It didn’t work. No one cared. Everyone was a lot more interested in Josh and his assistant Donna. After the first season Mandy was unceremoniously dumped from the program. that kind of adaptability was absolutely crucial and completely missing from Studio 60. Nobody I know that watched the show really cared about Matt Albie and Harriet Hayes. I frankly believe that they were better off without one another. But for personal reasons (it mirrored Sorkin’s own romance with Kristin Chenoweth) and the show suffered as a result. Their lack of chemistry became immediately apparent when two episodes after her introduction I was thinking that Matt Albie and Mary Tate should pair off. Just as with his political views, Sorkin was more interested in saying his piece than he was in showing or saying things that might really interest us. No complaints about Danny Tripp and Jordan McDeere. I thought they were cute together.

Before I move on, I should say that on the whole I did enjoy the show. If it were on again next year I would probably watch it, though I’d do like I did this year and be constantly behind a week or ten. Despite the rants and mismatched romances, I really did like most of the characters. Sorkin’s dialogue — that is when he has two characters talking — is still really good (though not as great as it once was). He also managed to capture an energy like had had in SportsNight that seemed beyond hokey when applied to The West Wing.

The good news about the show’s cancellation is that it may leave Sorkin free to pursue other projects. What I would actually like to see him do next would be to take the best elements of SportsNight and Studio 60, namely the energy of producing entertainment for the masses, and marry it with the best from The West Wing, intelligent political commentary in an appropriate venue. I would love to see him do a show about a cable news network. SportsNight sort of did that, but it was a sports program. I’d like to see an NBS Nightly News program or maybe a cable news network. One of the things I thought he did very well with The West Wing was the interplay between politics and news. I’d love to see him do it from the other side.


Category: Theater

I’ve mentioned on a couple of occasions the rank snobbery and spoiled nature of my high school. This week’s Ghostland will consist of two stories about such.

—-

My Freshman year in high school I was at a table where I overheard an upperclassman explaining how she hurt her wrist.

It seems that she was driving down one day and went through what she was sure was a yellow light. Out of nowhere, a car must have decided that even though their light was red (which is what it would have to be if the light was “definitely yellow” as the upperclassman was driving through the intersection) they would go ahead and dart into the intersection.

Upon seeing that they were entering an intersection on a light that was still read (as it must have been), the other driver slammed on the breaks. The upperclassman swirved to miss the car, dinged it, but went across the median into oncoming traffic where she hit an oncoming car whose driver “wasn’t really paying attention”.

No one was killed or anything, though the driver of the other car (the one that wasn’t watching for cars crossing the median, apparently) did have to go to the hospital.

Upperclassman girl was pissed. She was pissed at the driver for darting into the intersection and forcing her to swerve. She was pissed that the other driver couldn’t dodge her. Mostly, though, she was pissed off at her father. Why? Her father wasn’t going to buy her another car for a month. Further, Daddy was going to get her another Mustang rather than the car of her choice (can’t remember what kind she wanted).

Her friends, throughout this entire story, were completely sympathetic. One expressed dismay that upperclassman was going to be stuck with another Mustang when she wanted something else and they were going to have to replace the car anyway.

—-

My sophomore year I took a theater class with a group of cheerleaders. Bessy was a cheerleader and not among those that I cared much for. We would sometimes have class in the auditorium for whenever we needed to rehearse for something. The auditorium was cold and she was either wearing her cheerleader outfit or something else that wasn’t particularly covering her up. She put word out that she wanted a jacket if anyone would be so kind as to loan her one (she didn’t use that terminology).

Now ordinarily I would gladly loan my jacket to any young lady (or even a guy) that needed one since I was a pretty warm guy anyway and I’m a sucker for a damsel in distress. But not for Bessy. I wasn’t surprised that she never asked me for one as she made the rounds. But then she asked her friend Ally, also a cheerleader, to ask around as well. Now Ally I liked, though I’m not sure why. Anyhow, when Ally asked me for it I handed it over despite knowing that it was going to Bessy.

Bessy snuggled herself into my jacket and thanked Ally for procuring it for her. Then she asked whose jacket it was. Upon finding out it was mine, she yanked the jacket off of her and threw it onto the ground, saying “ewwwwwwwwwwwww!”

Ally shrugged and handed me my jacket back.

A couple years later my class looked at me in confusion when I said “Yes!!” to the PA announcement announcing that the head cheerleader was going to be Donna Lerner. No one expected me to be the type to give a rat’s patoot about who would be the head cheerleader. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have, except that Bessie was supposed to be the odds-on favorite and Donna was okay by me.


Category: Ghostland, School

“He opened up his eyes and snapped out in a groove
he saw both sides of everything and found he could not move.”

Shawn Mullins, Where’s Johnny

I believe that the Battle Hymn of the Republic is one of the greatest song ever written.

—-

I don’t like people that say that they are spiritual but not religious. To me, that comes across as every bit as arrogant as those that say “My church is more correct than your church”. Maybe even more arrogant because at least the churchgoer isn’t saying that they’ve found the answers on their own without help, which is the implication of those that say that they have a handle on spirituality without help. At the same time, I find the notion that any particular church has it exactly right to be… unlikely.

I was baptized and raised in the Episcopal Church (USA), which was a (forgive the pun) godsend for me. I would not have done nearly as well in the Catholic Church or Mormon Church because of the rigidity of their beliefs. The funny thing is, though, that I often wish I was the kind of person that could put faith in a church’s tenets. I wish that there was a church that I agreed with all the time. I wish that I could completely buy in to what they’re selling. Really smart people believe this stuff, so why can’t I?

I wish that I could believe, with a degree of certainty, that God Himself picked a group of people to act as the final word and arbiter of His wishes. I wish I could believe, with a degree of certainty, that there was this guy named Jesus that took the bullet for all of our sins and by virtue of his having done so cleansed us. I wish I could believe that if I read and lived by this book, it would have all of the answers.

In a similar way, I wish that I could believe that all of our problems could be solved by having the government take care of us. Or that everything would work out okay if we just let the free market do its magic. Or that the Republicans were right about everything or that the Democrats were.

I would love to be a partisan warrior, a religious crusader, and a harbinger of all that is right. I am attracted to the imagery of that in the strongest way. I’m a comic book reader. I like right and wrong, black and white, good and evil. I get immensely frustrated by the constant equivocations that people make to excuse that which is wrong and diminish that which is right. And the most frustrating thing is that they make sense to me.

This all makes me sound like a wishy-washy person, which I don’t believe myself to be. Some people around me will describe me as being a moderate guy, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone describe me as wishy-washy. But I make decisions because decisions have to be made and not because an overwhelming since of what is right tells me to. Whenever I am told anything, there is a voice in the back of my head that says “maybe this is not so”.

The spoils go to those who fight for them. Religions that stick to their doctrine and demand adherence succeed while those that foster independence fall apart at the core. Our wars are not fought by those that spend their time questioning why, they’re fought by soldiers that have it within them to just do what they are told. The leaders are not those that question their motivations but rather motivate others to come around to their own righteousness.

People like me watch and say, “Hmmm.”


Category: Church, Coffeehouse

“It was a cold dark evening, such a long time ago, when by the mighty hand of Jove… It was the sad story how we became lonely two-legged creatures,” -Hedwig & The Angry Inch

I’ve mentioned before that there are five television shows and/or movies that have had a profound effect on me. One of them is Hedwig and the Angry Inch. If you haven’t seen the movie and are open to a musical about a transexual rock star*, I recommend it. I won’t be giving too much away in this piece that isn’t already alluded to early in the film or that isn’t predictable from early in the movie.

Near the end of the film is a confrontation** between the protagonist, Hedwig, and her former love Tommy. Tommy did some really quite rotten things to Hedwig, moved on, became a star, and ignored Hedwig thereafter. When the two meet at the end of the film, the overriding feeling is that there is nothing he can say that will make what he did okay, and there is nothing that she can hear that will make the pain go away. Hedwig was left to confront that she had lost everything not only because of Tommy, but because of her inability to let go of him.

That was the part that I focused on when I first saw the film because I was dealing with the breakup between Evangeline and myself. The part I saw was the breaking up and moving on. Or trying to move on, anyway.

Several years later I find myself focusing on another aspect of the same scene. It was two people looking at each other, one destroyed and the other sorry. It was two people that obviously loved one another in their own way, but in a way that couldn’t ultimately be anything but destructive. Hedwig lost her identity; Tommy lost his soul. They each needed to get back what they had lost, but it was apparent that they would not be able to do so together.

“There’s too much to fix here. I’m going to Tahoe.” -Jack Gallow

I’ve mentioned that I have been gathering my thoughts on with Evangeline off and on since I found out that she was getting married. It felt sort of like my stomach settling. Things were rumbling around because some gas needed to get out. When I have relevent dreams it’s often a case of something on the periphery of my mind needs to be let out, so when I had the dream of Evangeline, I took it as a sign that I had some things to think about. Namely, why the happy occasion of her engagement discomforted me a little bit even though I was the one that shut the door on the relationship and I would not want to reconcile even if I weren’t well married.

When I decided to go forward with the marriage to Clancy, I closed the door on reconciliation with her. When I actually got married and moved to Deseret, the door was locked. When she ended up finally leaving her stable-but-unmarriable boyfriend Kelvin, my main thought was being thrilled that she wasn’t waiting for me to reconsider. It may sound egocentric of me to say that, of course, but it’s sort of what she said she would do, it’s what I might have done for her, and it’s precisely what my friend Tony’s wife Lara did for him when she waited years for Tony’s relationship with Julie to fail. Upon finding out that she was getting married, it wasn’t even the sound of a door being shut or locking. Rather it was an echo of the door closing years ago.

In that echo I heard the song Wicked Little Town, and I heard something that she once said to me.

“Between us there is so much more wrecked than right” -Evangeline Pierce

The gas that escaped was the realization that taking a broadside look at the relationship five years since its destruction that we each had a profoundly negative impact on one another’s life. I guess I knew that one some level, but I honestly never really looked at the tally before. And with each step away from it, I realize that all of those costs incurred will never be recouped. It will never be made good.

I am left to ask myself how it is that two people with such an intense connection and such strong feelings can end up in something so destructive. How can the rhythm in our hearts beat in such synchronization and yet leave us so ultimately incompatible with one another.

The connection I share with Clancy, and the foundation of our relationship, is one of similar values and thoughts. This past weekend at the Oasis we found ourselves thinking the exact same thing at least a half-dozen times. I don’t always agree with what she’s thinking, but I understand what she thinks and how she thinks and I have the deepest love and admiration for her.

The connection with Eva was something on a more emotional or spiritual level (this is why she thought the decision between them was a heart vs mind that lead to my alternate future). In the same way that I can tell what and how Clancy thinks, I had a remarkable intuition as to how Eva felt. I was pretty consistently able to figure out what she was going to do before she did it, when the choice came down to her emotions. She also had a unique understanding of a part of me that no one else really sees, much less understands.

You would think that that kind of empathy would lead two people close together, but it never worked out that way. It almost made the two of us too sensitive to be around one another. I could feel when I was hurting her and she could feel the same. We’d hurt, we’d pull away. Most importantly, we’d process our emotions differently. Then we’d expect the other person to understand because of how good they were at understanding us the rest of the time.

How could something so special go so wrong?

“What we lost here is something better left alone” -Matchbox Twenty

The answers to that question are legion. Those things that I saw of myself in her were those aspects of myself that I was least comfortable with. She had trouble accepting how someone that felt so similarly to her could think so differently. The passion of our emotions always outstripped the virtue.

And at the end of the day, we caused more harm to one another than good. I’m married and she’s getting married. Even if I wasn’t married, she is not where I would turn. It’s too late to ever change the score. To ever make things even. To ever make things good. Ever.

It’s not unlike attempts to quit smoking. The parallels between breaking up and quitting smoking deserve a post all their own, but I’ll explore an aspect of it here. I can stop smoking for weeks at a time and I do. The problem is that there’s something in the back of my mind that freaks out at the thought of never smoking another ever, ever, ever again. That echo of a door shut.

With Evangeline, it isn’t that she and I won’t be together again or anything like that. Rather, it’s that the potential we had will never be realized. I will not attend her wedding as she never attending mine. I will never meet her children and she will never meet mine. We will never be friends. I haven’t spoken to her in over a year. When we were together we wallowed in our weaknesses. I don’t know if it had to be that way or not, but it was. And like Hedwig and Tommy, we are at our best when we are confronting life apart.

Despite all this, I don’t regret having met her. I don’t even think I regret the wasted time and the anger and the sadness. I met her at a time when I was emotionally dead and she brought me back to life. It’s hard to regret that on the whole because it made me who I am. It made the kind of person that could make things work with Clancy. If it weren’t for her, there wouldn’t be a me.

Even though she and I will never be able to make things right, things ended up alright. I’m sure at some point in the future I’ll have another little burp of gas from the past. Some song will come on the radio and it will make me think of her. That’s the way things work with memories. With the latest news is the opportunity to recognize that our lives intersected on our way to happy endings. Separate endings, maybe, but who can ask for more than two happy endings?

And in the end, who could ask for more than two happy endings?

* – I was and am viscerally uncomfortable with transexuality, but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of this movie one iota.

** – I call it a scene, but it’s actually a musical number. The song is really good, but the dialogue-free acting is phenomenal. It was better than any standard dialogue could be.


Category: Ghostland, Theater

trumwill: I take it you heard about Robert Jordan?

quenkyle: Yeah. I expected as much, though.

trumwill: I never did get around to starting the Wheels of Time series. I wanted to know for sure that it would have some sort of ending.

quenkyle: Ironically it’s more likely that it’s going to be finished now that he’s dead.

trumwill: But if he’s dead, they may or may not hire someone else to finish it.

quenkyle: If Jordan were immortal, the chances that he’d end the series were still not good.

trumwill: I see.

quenkyle: I tried reading the 10th book in the series… 3 times. I couldn’t get past 1/4 of it before being bored to tears. It doesn’t bother me as much as other people… I got to read through 9 all at once without waiting, but he was definitely losing it. Most readers don’t give a rat’s arse about the history of the golden earring a random pirate was wearing on his right ear, and the political ramifications of his doing so. I’d much rather, I dunno… learn more about the *main freaking characters*.

trumwill: My ex boss said that the phone book has fewer characters and more plot than Jordan’s later novels.

quenkyle: Well I don’t know about the plot part, but the phone book definitely has less characters.

trumwill: Nonetheless, it’s a shame that he couldn’t finish his work. I can’t imagine putting that much work into something and not completing it.

quenkyle: I think he’s got different problems now.

trumwill: True. Being dead probably sucks more.


Category: Server Room

In addition to the issue of tattoos and piercings, a subject of much conversation was the decisions in bathing suits made by the various women there.

I came to the conclusion that bikinis are like master-planned community homes. Let me explain:

Ideally, a house is built to fit into its landscape. Windows are placed where the view is best. Architecture fits the motif of the area, if there is one. A house is built to blend in with its surroundings, such as a log cabin in a wooded area, stone in a rocky area, and maybe stucco in a dusty area.

One of the aesthetic problems with master-planned communities is that they are not built with their surroundings in mind. They are all designed in by some New York City architect or some guy in Toledo and then are exported to wherever it is that the developer sees a commercial opportunity. So a house in dusty Arizona looks like a house in swampy Louisiana looks like a house in rocky Colorado. I can understand and appreciate the amenities these houses have to offer, but I am spiritually an elite coastal snob when it comes to passing these places on the freeway because the terrain was redesigned to work with the house rather than the house fitting in to make the most of the terrain.

Some young ladies look outstanding in bikinis. Some look spectacular in 1-piece. Believe it or not some look awesome in those bathing suits with the little tutus. Some look cool wearing pants over a 1-piece. The list goes on and on. My basic point is that for every individual there is a bathing suit that brings out their best or shifts attention away from their worst.

But like the mass-production model homes, everyone seems to have shifted to a pretty standard model: the bikini. I would say less than 1 in 10 young women under the age of 30 wore a 1-piece and 7 of the ten wore a bikini. Some looked fantastic, others would have looked better in just about anything else. But by and large they went in the same direction.

There were three particularly disturbing groups wearing the more revealing outfits. The first is kids. It is apparent that there is no longer a minimum age in which a bikini is appropriate. For some of them I would have considered it less odd if they’d just worn male swim trunks they were so young. But in a way I actually find this the most understandable. Obviously they are not meant to compliment their completely non-sexual, prepubescent bodies, but they may have less control over their bladders as adults and I’d imagine that it’s a lot easier to get out of a pickle when all you have to do is pull bottoms down rather than wiggle out of a bathing suit altogether.

The second group are stick-figured girls. I honestly thought that the women carrying a bit extra weight looked better in the bikinis than did the girls without much breast and without much behind. Meanwhile, a tall, slender, and/or lanky figure can look great in a one-piece.

The third group is probably who you thought I was referring to prior to my delineation: chubby girls. I’m not talking about girls that aren’t a size 2 and I’m not even talking about young ladies that are overweight on the BMI scale. I’m talking about the women that have bona fide pot bellies or register in the “obese” category on the BMI. I really don’t like to just say “cover that up” but I’m not entirely sure what else to say.

Part of me feels a bit like a hypocrite for saying anything. My first day at the park I did not wear a shirt even though I’m not exactly thin and I have a 4-inch scar on my stomach that