Life's our oyster and we're gonna suck that bitch down with a champagne chaser.

  • Behavioral Therapist
  • MA Developmental Psychology, Columbia
  • BS Psychobiology/ French, UCLA

  • Movies to See:
    Mission Impossible
    A Dangerous Method

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    The Life & Times of Tim

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    Game of Thrones
    by George R.R. Martin

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    El Camino

  • Person to Hate:
    Newt Gingrich

  • Group of People to Despise:
    Fox & Friends


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Thursday, November 24, 2005  
Viewer Discretion Advised
I don't think you'll be surprised to hear that the world that we grew up in, a world filled with Care Bears, Teddy Ruxpin and a non-Bush administration, is a much different world from the one we live in today. Kids are privy to many things that we as the children of Generation X (are we Generation X? I can never remember) had no access to. Perhaps this is because of the state the world is in with respect to technology and education or perhaps it's just shoddy parenting, but the last time I checked the wee ones aren't really supposed to be able to watch porn on their iPods, hell they shouldn't even have iPods to begin with. Do you know how many sweaters I lost when I was a kid? Imagine how many iPods are being lost everyday. And more importantly, they shouldn't even remotely know what porn is...yet. There is a time for that and the time is not when you're just out of diapers and learning your times tables.

In a world of R-rated movies that push the envelope into NC-17 territory, TV-MA, LSV tv shows that belong on HBO and M rated video games, there are too many outlets for the kidlets to be corrupted in. Now, I'm known as a relatively liberal guy. I think it's ok for the average 15 year old to be able to watch an R rated movie and be able to play Grand Theft Auto. However there is a difference between the 15 to 18 age gap and the 11 to 15 age gap. Perhaps the senators are being too harsh on the video game industry for selling GTA to kids under 17. But the real issue is selling to the young, impressionable kids under 12 or 13 years. Anyway, instead of going out on a tangent about the politics of censorship and child protection, I'll get to the reason I started writing this drawn out post: my encounter with a 5 year old boy at Best Buy.

I had some time to kill before the Basketball game on Saturday night, so I decided to stop at Best Buy in Westwood to utilize my excellent coupons to purchase a new memory stick and maybe a dvd. After I finished browsing the length of the store in an attempt to waste time so I wouldn't be really early to the game like I always am, I discovered the glowing box in the corner of the store. It's beauty was incomparable. It was the Xbox 360. As I picked up the all too familiar controller I felt young again, a welcome escape from my 87 year old body. What demo shall I play. I hadn't played video games in so long. (I tell myself not to play video games during the school year cause it'll take away from my study time...I now realize that's bullshit) I decided on Call of Duty 2, an epic World War II first-person shooter. (To those non-video game oriented people, i.e. the ladies, a first person shooter entails you controlling an avatar from a first-person perspective so you're basically a hand with a gun shooting at everything that moves) The graphics were almost too realistic for comfort. As I found myself surrounded by Nazis and my old brittle fingers were trying to orient themselves in order to throw a grenade or something, I heard a voice behind me..."HEY MISTER, PRESS THE L TRIGGER TO THROW A FLASH GRENADE!!!" It honestly took me at least 10 seconds to register not only what the voice said, but what the pitch of the voice was (extremely high) and what age group would be associated with that voice. As I peered down upon the 2' 1" boy who couldn't have been older than 5 or 6 years old, he bellowed once more. "DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE L TRIGGER IS MISTER?!"
"What? Oh, yeah yeah."
"Otay." (The kid looked like Buckwheat, what can I say)
"Good now go around the corner...yeah...WATCH OUT!!!"
"You've played this before?"
"Oh right right."
"Oh shi...I mean...darn."
"Yeah, sure."
His precision was impeccable. He nailed every single Nazi soldier straight between the eyes. His tactics, his was awe-inspiring....IF ONLY HE DIDN'T JUST GET OUT OF PRESCHOOL!!!

When I was 5, I was watching Care Bears and Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers and playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES. I can't even imagine how many gory video games and movies this kid had encountered. He didn't seem to be a "problem-child" of any sort. He was very polite and well-mannered. It's just that...he was playing this game that was not meant for him. His little hands barely reached around the controller to hit the buttons.

The real question is, we all probably agree that a child as young as that should not be playing a violent game such as Call of Duty 2, but is playing a video game going to mold him into a violent 6 year old, 7 year old, teenager, twenty-something...? Some may say yes, some may so no, some may say it depends on extenuating circumstances, such as the child's environment growing up. I happen to be a believer of the stance that not one thing can mold a kid's mind early on. It is a combination of multiple factors that will determine what sort of a person a young
child will become. I, personally, do not think I have been profoundly affected by playing Super Mario Bros. for hours on end when I was younger. I was never disciplined for jumping on turtles, eating mushrooms and hitting my head against bricks. Of course, if a kid learns to kill Nazis, is that really a bad thing?

Address all letters of complaint to:

2:15 AM


Thursday, November 17, 2005  
Stupid is is Stupid Does
From the time I took that ridiculous G.A.T.E entrance exam in 4th grade, I've been told that I'm in possession of some sort of above-average intelligence. While my mom insists upon this to this day, I believe that I am an idiot. Perhaps I write a nice essay here and there or can solve a few calculus problems somewhere else, but truly and utterly, like every other human on earth, I am stupid.

My 4th grade teacher, Miss Zanka, has always been one of my favorite teachers. She was enthusiastic about teaching us wee ones and was generally a very nice person. I always remember her Cuban boyfriend waiting out in the hallway before recess. He would smile at us and we would wave. Come to think of it, that was kind of strange. Anyway, like any 3rd or 4th or 5th grade class, we got assigned ridiculous projects and essays to do. One that I had forgotten about until recently was an in class essay about the Iroquois Indians and whatever bullshit they did whenever they did it. I remember writing about the fighting tactics they used, namely guerilla warfare. After turning in our papers, we proceeded to do whatever 9 year olds did in 4th grade, pouring glitter on something, coloring in a picture of a herd of moose, eating paper, whatever and Miss Zanka read our papers. When she got to mine (I knew she had because my desk was right in front of her desk), she started laughing hysterically. I thought that I had infused my paper with some sort of ingenious humor that altered my otherwise dull paper on the Iroquois Indians into something special... It turns out that no, this is not what happened. My tiny 9 year old mind, instead of writing about guerilla warfare, wrote about gorilla warfare, the practice in which the Iroquois Indians would employ fighting tactics similar to apes in order to defeat their enemies.

Now, perhaps many children thought that Native Americans did indeed fight like monkeys, but the fact that I thought that my paper was so outstanding that my teacher would laugh out loud and give me a B+ because I was such a genius is not only naive, but downright stupid.

Maybe I'm being too harsh on my young self. I was really adorable and relatively smart given the goo of the crop that attended Horace Mann Elementary. (To any Horace Mann alums reading this, you are not included in this classification) But this utter stupidity carries over to the person I am today. A few months ago I get an email from Paypal asking me to verify my credit card information for them in the email. "Oh gosh golly willickers that seems legitimate," I thought to myself. A week later I get a call from Washington Mutual telling me that someone was trying to withdraw a couple hundred dollars from my account but was not successful. Consequently, I had to open a new account and learn about "phishing," the practice of extorting credit card information through fraudulent emails, from a pamphlet courtesy of the bank. So, now, instead of having people steal my money, I freely give it away to the likes of eBay, for useless crap I don't need, and the UCLA Store, for ugly jackets that I do not want.

Losing your car keys, I'm told, is something that everyone does at some point in their lives. If you detach the first part of that sentence and insert any other action, the phrase can be used to comfort someone. Defecating in your trousers is something that everyone does at some point in their lives. Throwing up on the Prime Minister of Liechtenstein is something that everyone does at some point in their lives. Being eaten by Star Jones is something everyone does at some point in their lives. (A'thank you) Needless to say, this faux-comfort line did not ease my woes after I lose my car keys at the Rose Bowl last week. In fact it made me even angrier because it just reassured me that I am indeed as stupid as everyone else on this planet.

Gifted and Talented Education, indeed.

3:57 PM


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