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

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    Mission Impossible
    A Dangerous Method

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    The Life & Times of Tim

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    by George R.R. Martin

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Sunday, February 19, 2006  
The Passion of the Pest
For those people who don't know what my stance on relgion is, it's, in short, the following: I don't believe that someone is sitting in the sky somewhere judging each and every one of us but if someone else does, I completely respect it... unless it's imposed on me against my will (much appreciated, Dubya). The fact that the concept of organized religion just doesn't fly for me doesn't change the fact that people are entitled to their own beliefs and faiths. With that disclaimer out of the way, I shall address what many UCLA students (and I assume on other college campuses across the nation as well) are enduring everyday... our campus is under siege.

Walking across campus on an ordinary day, one must be extra cautious for there are prowlers amongst the vast crowd of students and tourists. These lurkers are affiliated with several organizations. They may be just handing out flyers for some party or club event or they may be trying to leech money out of your bank account for some noble cause or they be trying to preach the word of Jesus to you, against your will. Over the past couple years, I have learned how to avoid confrontations with these numerous people. You don't sit in any high profile areas (such as in front of Royce Hall) unless you've scouted the area for prowlers earlier. You have your MP3 or CD player headphones in your ears at all times, whether the battery has run out or not. If you have chosen to sit somewhere, you must be reading something other than the school newspaper and looking miserable while doing it. And finally, if you do end up in a conversation with an offender, you use one of several excuses: you're late for class, you've already spoken to someone else from their organization earlier, you're Jewish/ Muslim/ Jedi (I'm screwed on that one), you don't speak English (French/ Italian/ Middle Eastern accents are a plus) or you're a radical who doesn't believe in anything. Now granted, sometimes one of the flyer-hander-outers of some sort do appeal to my interests and I do stop to talk to them... briefly. But for the most part, it doesn't work out that way.

A two hour break between lectures plus an Ipod with a dead battery plus cold weather plus a high profile location plus a non-hostile mood led to an encounter this past week. I brought it upon myself. I didn't barricade myself inside the computer lab, library or student union, like a wise person would. I sat in front of the Inverted Fountain. I had forgotten to charge my Ipod so the battery ran out but instead of keeping the earbuds in place, I stuffed the entire unit into my back pack. It was cold out so the majority of the people accustomed to warm Los Angeles weather fled indoors to flee the freezing 66 degree temperature. But not me, I remained. I was one of maybe 4 people in the entire area. The others had learned to bury their heads in textbooks and look agitated to dissuade any approachers. I decided to read a book, not of the text persuasion. If this was a baseball game, I'd have struck out probably 4 times (I don't follow baseball that much so I could be off).

The perky-looking, God-loving, privacy-hating intruder had spotted me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him coming, but there was no time to flee. He had me in his trap.

"Um, hello."
"Shit... Hi."
"May I sit here?"
"Fine, be my guest."

Normally, I would've said anything to get him to leave me alone but I felt like this encounter would be at least somewhat amusing so I allowed is intrusion. This person, let's call him Jesus, began to ask me what my views on the Christian faith were. I told him outright that I believed that Jesus Christ existed and was a sort of revolutionary thinker in a sort of Ghandi type way, but I didn't buy all the supernatural noise around him.

"Alright. Right on. Totally.... but do you know what all his supernatural acts came from."
"No, please tell me."
"Well... maybe a drawing would help me explain it."

I thought Jesus was about to pull out a titanium cross to beat me over the head with. Instead, it was a piece of paper and a red pen which he folded in an odd manner.

Jesus began to tell me the basis of his teachings and what the bible is all about etc. and I outright told him that I believed that the core morals in the bible are right on. That one should be a good person who does good things for others but that those basic points are buried in all these stories and new testament this and old testament that, and that people take the myths in the bible so seriously that people overlook the core principles. Jesus looked at me and said simply that he completely agreed with me. Ok, maybe we're getting somewhere.

"I mean, couldn't the bible be like 2 pages long, just stating what people should do to lead good an honorable lives? Then the rest of the stories, which make for good, fictional literature, can be published separately so they won't confuse the main ideas behind the bible."
"Right... well if you'd look at John 5:24..."

Anytime that Jesus and I seemed to be entering an intelligent, philosophical conversation about the nature of humans and the world... he'd pull out his stick and slapped me with another quotation.

"Yes, Ok, fine. Sinners should be punished. They should be sent to jail, locked up somewhere, whatever."
"And their spiritual death as a result of their sinning will damn them to hell."
"Yeah great... but shouldn't there be different degrees of sin? Like if I'm a bad person who murders someone in cold blood, that's first degree sin. But if I have a mental disorder like schizophrenia and cannot help what I'm doing then that's second degree sin... you know?"
"Yeah totally... but if you'll read this passage..."

I began to think that Jesus' goal wasn't to have an intelligent conversation or debate, but he just wanted to preach what he believed. He said he agreed with everything I said but did he really? Or was he just trying to move on to get to his next quotation or passage? In the end, after 45 minutes, we ended up with this elaborate diagram (do you notice how the heart on top breaks if you unfold it but when you close it, thereby eliminating sin, the heart is whole again? Adorable).

In the end, I didn't really think I could convince a devoted, church-going Christian that what I was saying was logical and well, right... I mean, hell, Jesus might be right about the whole damn thing. We each have our own set of beliefs and the difference is that he wanted to impose his beliefs upon me while I wanted to bounce both our beliefs off of each other. He was a nice guy so I didn't call him on it, but this is the basic reason why so many people who have difference spiritual belief systems cannot reason with each other. When someone has a code of beliefs imbued in them at birth, it's not going to dissipate. There'll be peace in the Middle East when people stop shoving their own beliefs down other people's throats. That's why a good ol' Christian democracy ain't gonna work in an Islamic regime and why an ancient Jewish civilization isn't going to compromise with an ancient Muslim civilization. When these people stop saying that they're right and that the other person is wrong, then maybe some progress can be made. But not when people like Jesus won't listen to a set of beliefs that are different from his own.

Jesus said he wanted to talk to me further but I sensed that any future conversation would lead to a dead end as well... so I gave him a fake email address. Sometimes when you can't reason with someone, you've just gotta cut them off at the source.

7:38 PM


Monday, February 13, 2006  
Comedy is the Hardest Thing
That's what a lot of comedians say... it's easy to make someone cry but the toughest thing is to make someone laugh. The reason for this, I think, is that humor varies from person to person. What would make one person keel over from laughter wouldn't phase another. Also, something a person might find hilarious one day, might not the next. (You may have to work in drunkenness as a factor in that case.) Anyway, the point is I value comedy as an art form, both observing it and utilizing it to my advantage when I can.

When I was flipping the channels late at night a while back, I stumbled upon a "movie" which I didn't watch (but would've if I was 12) but I read the description of it (thanks to our good friends at Adelphia) and it just made me laugh really hard.

The porn industry is known to bring smiles to countless people... that and more. But who knew that amidst the sleaze, the grime, the grossness and the hotness lay such creative talent. The Sex Spa. There's no mystery as to what's going on in that particular establishment or in this movie. Chloe. Simple, and yet appealing. One name. Like Madonna. Or Kal-El (shutup). Dale DaBone. Just absolute genius. It flows off the tongue (so to speak) and is just so pertinent to the material. And the actual plot to the film. I don't need to watch the program to know it has high production values. And finally, the plot summary is framed in two descriptions: "Adult Program" and "Drama." I mean, how much versatility can a motion picture have. That's like having steak and shrimp.

The point is, a program that is meant to keep the lonely and the romantically challenged (ahem) company can be turned into an object of unheralded comedy. Dale DaBone. You can't write this kind of material for comedy if you tried... well maybe you could, but that's not the point. Someone over at Comedy Central didn't write it... someone over at the Skinemax division of Cinemax did. They probably thought it was catchy and assigned it to an actor. It then turns into an actual actor's name... it's not a character... it's a person. Dale DaBone becomes something real, which is what makes it so much funnier.

Some of you may be staring at this mindless post thinking that not one thing I've cited is actually funny which proves my original point: comedy is not universal. It depends on each individual. At midnight, on a weekday, on 6 hours of sleep or so, that sort of thing is hilarious to a stupid 20 year old college student. To another, it might be idiotic, even offensive, but to me... it's comedy gold. I say we try to find the Dale DaBones in our lives that make us giggle and guffaw at all hours of the day...... I would try to make that sound a lot less gay but I'm tired and busy giggling at how stupid the Olympic sport Curling is.

And yes, that is Vince Young in that picture talking to Jay Leno.

Fuck $C.

3:25 AM


Monday, February 06, 2006  
The Linguistics Bowl
It's the day after the Super Bowl so, naturally, the testosteroney (the San Francisco treat) energy flowing in me begs me to write something about sports today. It doesn't matter whether I could care less who won this year's Super Bowl or that it was really boring and predictable or that I just watched so I could have an excuse to have chips and salsa for lunch or that Mick Jagger totally creeps me out. Now for those of you worried that I'm going to talk stats or something like that (I couldn't if I wanted to), fear not, this post will haave at least some sort of complaining which may or may not be entertaining.

I didn't really get into sports until coming to UCLA. I would watch the Super Bowl every year, sure and the occasional Laker game, but I didn't really know any of the rules or intricacies of the sports. I wouldn't pay attention to the football games in highschool because I didn't know what the hell was going on most of the time. But, in college, since I started to attend every football game and a lot of basketball and volleyball games as a result of being in the band, I learned the bulk of the rules and could watch games with some understanding and be able to enjoy them more. I'm now pretty enthusiastic about college sports, as you may conclude from my inclusion of the UCLA basketball record and future games on my blog. With that said, I don't think football is a proper sport. Basketball is, and a really good one at that. But, I digress.

Football, to begin with, does not have a proper name. Football, as it's known in every other country in the world, is soccer, which makes sense. You're only allowed to use your foot to make the ball go. No hands are involved, for the most part. In American Football, the foot is used to kickoff at the beginning of the game and after scoring and to get extra points. That's why I move that football be known as something like tackleball or rushball or something else that makes more sense to the game. Second, the players shouldn't be allowed to wear all that padding. If they went out onto the field in jerseys and regular pants, then that would be a sport. Actually, I think that's called rugby.

Other sports have names that make sense. Baseball, basketball, dodgeball, volleyball (I guess), raquetball.... but other sports don't even involve the word "ball" which is confusing, I think. Golf. Where the hell did they come up with that name? Golf should be called puttball from now on. Or wimpball. Tennis. I enjoy tennis but the name makes no sense. Netball. Wackball. Those are all more catchy. Squash. That's just ridiculous. Isn't that one just raquetball but more dangerous? Raqball. Raquetdeathball. All better names. I think the involvement of a ball is what throws off the namers of sports. The sports that don't involve the use of balls (no pun intended) are pretty straight-forward names. Swimming, pole-vaulting, track, wrestling... Nascar is not a sport folks, not even close.

In any case, I guess my point is that the vernacular of sports just gets too complicated for the casual watcher to follow. I've gone to every damn football game at UCLA and a ton of basketball games over the past 3 years and still do not understand all the fouls and technicalities of the games. At some point, these sports have to be stripped down and simplified. If you Google the NCAA Basketball rules, for example, there is a manual online that is about 200 pages long. There is no need for there to be rulebooks that long for any sport. If any sport is that complicated that it needs an encyclopedia to be able to play, then that sport is not a sport. We have to start small, though, with the names. If we start small by changing the names of sports to make them more universal, then the rest will come. If not, then all we're left with is literature and nature. The horror, the horror.

Programming Note: I know the Olympics opening ceremony is this Friday and we all want to see how gay the designers have made it this year, but please, at least Tivo the 2-hour series finale of Arrested Development. I'm confident that Showtime will pick it up, but who knows when that'll be.

3:28 PM


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