lovehate: how it ends

It's becoming clearly evident that the older I get, the more willing I am to accept the unusual in the art that I view, listen to, or otherwise consume. Actually, I'm hoping for unusual these days. It's with this view that I revel in the unexpected. From Samuel L. Jackson "biting it" in Deep Blue Sea to the school bus take out in Mean Girls, I almost want to get up and cheer when the truly unique happens. And sure, I'll admit that just going weird for its own sake can come across as contrived, and going persistently weird for its own sake gives you the name of David Lynch.

One of the things I've hated for years was songs that fade out. That artists can persistently allow producers to rob them of the ability to find creative endings to songs is deplorable. I get the fact that being "radio-friendly" demands a no-nonsense way for even the most inattentive DJs to figure out when to start turntable number two, but the fade is quite simply the most uninventive and banal way to finish a song. I'll concede that there may be rare times that a fade can be used as a thematic device, but certainly not on 90% of every song recorded since the 50s. In fact, the first recorded fade was used in "Neptune, part of the orchestral suite, The Planets, by Gustav Holst.  Holst stipulate[d] that the women's choruses [were] "to be placed in an adjoining room, the door of which [was] to be left open until the last bar of the piece, when it [was] to be slowly and silently closed", and that the final bar (scored for choruses alone) [was] to be repeated until the sound [was] lost in the distance." Apparently the thought of the fade didn't cross Holst's mind as a way to provide a smooth segue into the Eye in the Sky traffic report during afternoon drive time.

But there's a strange corollary for every song that I wish could be wrapped up and finished, and for every photograph and painting that has neither beginning nor end, and every television show or series that ends unsatisfyingly derivative. I want the musician to complete the thought, even though the ending may be abrupt or odd. I want the director and screenwriter to complete a vision that suits theirs and not my sensibility. No one questions the painter for taking a slice of life and allowing the viewer to interpret the story before and after. So why does mainstream "art" have to be wrapped up in a neat little packages to be acceptable. Must we demand from our art and entertainment a sense of completion that does away with the snippet of real life that film or television represents?

Beckett explored the the existential reaches of redundancy with Waiting for Godot and is celebrated 50 years later. Joyce completed an esoteric wraparound in Finnegan's Wake with a final sentence that "riverran" flawlessly into the opening sentence. Bob Ezrin contructed Pink Floyd's The Wall with a soft voice that began the disc with "...we came in?" and finished it with "Isn't this where...." The Coen's adaptation of No Country for Old Men had a brilliant understated conclusion that surely pissed some people off, but in its open-ending was more satisfying and thematically-pleasing than any contrivance that might have made for a happy audience.

After all, such neat little wrap-ups are the essence of Shakespearean comedy and children's stories. The evil get screwed, the good get rewarded, the fools get their ass kicked and run away, and the true lovers get married. Beyond this genre, I fail to see why we should have any right to expect any specific ending for a story or a song. The concept of poetic justice has trained our collective media minds to expect the bad to get punished, the good to triumph and all loose ends to be wrapped up - but this is not reflective of life. If art is supposed to be a reflection of life, let's allow for art to include the strange, the bizarre, the unexpected, the flawed and the needlessly tragic. If we can't find beauty in representations of ALL aspects of life, we are shortchanging ourselves some of the greatest stories that can be told... or, more realistically, that can be bankrolled in order to be told.

lovehate: blame games - user error

This lovehate comes on the heels of the recent death of a 15 year old boy near Barrie, Ontario who ran away from home because his father took away his copy of Call of Duty 4 for the last time. The teen had been spending every waking hour with online friends playing the game and, after hearing his father's threat, left his family only to be found two weeks later. The event is tragic. The family's loss is indescribable. And when people look for the scapegoat, we all know what it's going to be - video games.

I don't know enough to say the behavior of either side in this specific case was flawed or not, but let's look at the facts. A boy spends countless hours engaged in an activity that has become completely normal for millions of teens around the world. The only X factor in the equation is the time spent. And if the only line crossed is that of time, why blame the game?

The push to censorship or restricting personal freedoms is never so at risk as when a child dies. While the tragedy is real, there should never be any occasion to blame a song, songwriter, singer, band, book, author, video game or website. Society has to stop blaming the painting done in dog feces at the modern art gallery for the gallery goer's discontent, blaming the Judas Priest song for the teen suicide, blaming the internet for the death of social intercourse. Society needs to take a strong look at itself and realize that redefinitions of cultural standards have been ever-evolving.

While parents and grandparents hearken back to a day when children would play stickball in the local sandlot or save up their money for a couple of grape kneehighs at the weekly box social, they have to remember that the social free time children have had over the past 150 years in Western culture were not the norm before that. We are not that far, historically-speaking from children working the land 16 hours a day in the summer and 8 hours a day while going to school. We are not that far from free time being a luxury only enjoyed by a small upper class. We are not that far from a child's worst indiscretion being a late night, blanket tent read of D.H. Lawrence. I daresay that if I had a child that wanted to spend their free time reading D.H. Lawrence today, I'd be a proud parent.

Indiscretions and social taboos are not static or sacrosanct. What does scare me, on a regular basis, is lobby groups that seek to ban, restrict or change things because users are too oblivious, obsessed or stupid to treat a hobby as enjoyment instead of entertainment.

Maybe, with the example of network gaming as our guide, instead of bemoaning the death childrens' relationships, we simply need to redefine them. Is there really something more pure to a 15 year old egging a house or sneaking a joint behind a local strip mall than using strategy in an online battle simulation? Is there an advantage to having teens bored out on stoops and corners looking for shit to disturb? Are there any real reasons teens are retreating to online relationships instead of braving the great outdoors? And lastly, are we getting close to that line where we can stop talking about "online" relationships and simply consider them relationships?

While I can't say that I love everything about moving all relationships to the constraints of broadband, I'm certainly not going to fight the future. Mail, games, music, movies, banking, shopping, and even work is done online from home, yet we are loathe to allow for this advancement with our children?

Sure, there are lines that should not be crossed with any technology or tool. Addiction, of any sort, is a real problem and something parents and all of us should be aware of, but the times are a-changin' folks. I foresee the teens of today maintaining over 90% of the relationships in their life though online networks. Teach them how to embrace technology, not fear it. Teach them restraint but not revulsion. Allow for your past to be YOUR past and their futures to be THEIR futures. And, above all, don't blame the technology based on its users.


thinglets: chicago school code of conduct - 1921

1921 children

Manners of Conduct in School and Out

my favorite excerpts...

Girls, the word lady should suggest, ideally, a girl (or a woman) who keeps herself physically fit, her thinking on a high plane, and her manners gentle and winsome.

Boys, the word gentleman means, ideally, a fine, athletic, manly fellow who is an all round good sport in the best sense, and who has manners that do not prevent other people from seeing how fine he is.

If you are well brought up, girls, you will not loiter on the street to talk to one another; much less to boys. Street visiting is taboo.

Boys, a gentleman does not detain on street corners a girl or woman friend. If he meets one with whom he wishes to speak more than a moment, he asks permission to walk a little way with her. During the moment that he does detain her, a gentleman talks with his hat in his hand.

Girls, if a seat is offered you, accept it at once with "Thank you." Don't explain that you don't mind standing.

The chewing of gum in a street-car, in church, or in any other place outside of your own private room stamps you at once as "common."

Boys, it is not necessary to help the girls mount the stairs in school unless they are blind or crippled.

Girls, it is better not to twine your arms about one another in the corridors and on the stairs; also, not to kiss one another tenderly if you separate for a few moments. Love your friends dearly; but be sensible, not sentimental.

When you enter your classroom, as well as when you leave it, glance towards your teacher and, if she is looking, bow pleasantly.

If the function is a dance, boys, avoid too many consecutive dances with the same girl. Confining your attentions noticeably to the same girl makes her conspicuous and mars the general pleasure.

Avoid looking at a boy with your soul in your eyes. A girl holds the key to the social situation. She should keep such a situation at school on a cordial but wholly matter-of-fact basis,—absolutely free from sentimentality.

Boys, you can easily tell what girls would have you sit very close to them, and hold their hands, and put your arms around them. But, be manly. Always protect a girl; protect her from yourself, even from herself. If she does not wish to be so protected, avoid her as you would the plague.

Use a fork when eating vegetables and salad,—and ice-cream, if an ice-cream fork is provided.

thinglets: Paul Lynde, Center Square

Paul Lynde

Okay, I'm showing my age a bit here, but I remember Paul Lynde from the center Hollywood Square for many years. I also remember him as getting way too many laughs for jokes I didn't understand as a very young child. That said, in reading some of his best lines in retrospect, either this guy, the writers, or a combination of both were comical wizards when it came to one-liners and double entendres. Often set up by Peter Marshall 's questions, I now get why Lynde was so loved for so many year.

As a side note, I always thought the voice for Roger the Alien on American Dad was a dead ringer for Lynde... kudos Seth. Here are some of my Paul Lynde favorites:

Peter Marshall: In "Alice in Wonderland", who kept crying "I'm late, I'm late?"
Paul Lynde: Alice, and her mother is sick about it.  

Peter Marshall: According to Tony Randall, "Every woman I've been intimate with in my life has been..." What?
Paul Lynde: Bitterly disappointed.   

Peter Marshall: What is a pullet?
Paul Lynde: A little show of affection...  

Peter Marshall: Prometheus was tied to the top of a mountain by the gods because he had given something to man.  What did he give us?
Paul Lynde: I don't know what you got, but I got a sports shirt.  

Peter Marshall: It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps.  One is politics.  What is the other?
Paul Lynde: Tape measures.   

Peter Marshall: True or false, the navy has trained whales to recover objects a mile deep.
Paul Lynde: At first they tried unsuccessfully with cocker spaniels...   

Peter Marshall: When you pat a dog on its head he will usually wag his tail.  What will a goose do?
Paul Lynde: Make him bark.  

Peter Marshall: Burt Reynolds is quoted as saying, "Dinah (Shore)'s in top form.  I've never known anyone to be so completely able to throw herself into a..." A what?
Paul Lynde: A headboard.   

Peter Marshall: In one state, you can deduct $5 from a traffic ticket if you show the officer...what?
Paul Lynde: A ten dollar bill.  

Peter Marshall:  If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
Paul Lynde:  Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.  

Peter Marshall:  What did James Watt invent after fooling around with his wife's tea kettle?
Paul Lynde:  James Watt Jr.  

Peter Marshall: It is the most abused and neglected part of your body-- what is it?
Paul Lynde:  Mine may be abused but it certainly isn't neglected!

Peter Marshall: In the Bible, who was found in a basket among the bulrushes?
Paul Lynde: Colonel Sanders.

Peter Marshall:  Now listen carefully, Paul...during the time of the hula hoop, the yo-yo, and Davy Crockett hats, who was in the White House?
Paul Lynde:  I'll say the yo-yo!

Peter Marshall:  Eddie Fisher recently stated, “I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for them both.”  Who or what was he referring to?
Paul Lynde:  His fans.

Peter Marshall:  According to the old song, "At night, when you're asleep, into your tent I'll creep."  Who am I?
Paul Lynde:  The scoutmaster!

Peter Marshall: Is it possible to drink too much water?
Paul Lynde: Yes, it's called drowning!

Peter Marshall: True or false, Guatemala once declared war on Germany.  
Paul Lynde: Yes, and it's a good thing Germany never found out!

Peter Marshall: Paul, why are forest rangers in remote locations ordering goats as standard equipment?
Paul Lynde: Because the sheep are wising up?

Peter Marshall: You have a bunch of unwanted hair. According to Dr. Thotusen, what is most often the cause of unwanted hair? A bunch of it?
Paul Lynde: Running over a llama.

thinglets: Hallowe'en and the Ten Things Wrong With It


Is it just me or does Hallowe'en seem more culturally devoid every year? I know. I get it. I'm kidless. And while baby goats shouldn't be a consideration for one's love or hate of Hallowe'en, I'm thinking back on my own childhood at memories of All Hallow's Eves gone by and realizing that there really aren't that many fond memories. I'm not saying I hated the event, in fact I remember, at the time, having a certain anticipatory delight in thinking up costumes and gathering free candy. Quite simply, the costume/candy ritual was fun, but did not inspire near as many found remembrances as other holidays.

Let's take a sobering look at Hallowe'en: pre-pubescent, confused children try to hide behind dollar store Transformer masks as they threaten homeowners with vigilante violence unless they fork over individually-wrapped sugar confections. Clearly then, Hallowe'en has come to serve several purposes:

1) attempt to feed disenfranchised children once a year and allow for governments to forgo actual food subsidies.
2) satisfy the powerful dentist lobby, where 4 out of 5 dentists agree more candy is a good thing... no, bad thing... well, privately, a good thing.
3) seeks to encourage indentured servitude of cane workers in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
4) bows to the snack food lobbyists who don't have tons of money, but keep the assistants of government officials knee deep in Junior Mints.
5) endorses gang swarming for the purposes of intimidating the middle class.
6) allows our vampire overlords to come out one night a year and feed on Blood Red Twizzlers.
7) makes lower class kids feel inadequate when they have to wear their Superman Underoos as a costume.
8) enables the rarely-seen-at-other holidays "razor-blade-in-the-apple" lunatics.
9) forces adults, who would never otherwise think of dressing up, to participate in a drunken costume party ritual.
10) remind me, that despite all else, for two years I had the coolest stormtrooper costume in town.

thinglets: the evolution of roshambeau

Sure, everyone knows "Rock, Paper, Scissors".  And sure, some of us "experimented" in university with the occasional drunken binges of throwing "dynamite" or "gun" into the mix, but the folks at have taken Roshambeau to a fantastic new level. Three options have expanded to twenty-five; this is no longer a game for drunken escapades.

You may have to make saving throws against spells or find ways to build your armor class... Gygax Beware!  Sorry... became a geeky teenager for a second there. Expand your Roshambeau and party it up with friends.