Saturday, July 31, 2004
I am educating myself about political issues. I've been reading books and researching websites. But I am saddened when I find that I can't talk about current events to most of my friends. I even looked to older acquaintances of mine, but found the same indifferent response. I mentioned politics to my boss Robin, and she told me that she doesn't follow politics. I couldn't believe it. At a time like this when our country is at a point of making major world decisions that will not only affect Americans but people across the entire world, she doesn't "get into it."
And to make matters worse she said that she doesn't even watch the news! I'm not talking about some college kid who spends the majority of their time finding out where the next party's going to be at. Robin is in her late fourties; has a husband and child; and holds a respectable job as a restaurant manager. She has so much on the line. Does she not care that her daughter's college tuition rates are going up. And that the threat of terrorism on our homeland is also increasing. Or does she just not care.
I've seen that attitude before. "If I don't watch the news than nothing bad is happening." It is proposterous! I thought like that when I was sixteen years old.
So after being outraged like that I got the idea of going around and educating people about the importance of voting. I thought of starting out at my church and eventually go to other churches in the community. From there, travel across the US urging citizens to use their voice and vote. Go on talk shows and radio programs to promote the November elections. Maybe meet President Bush and John Kerry.
Then I came back to earth and realized that No one is going to listen to me. And that I'm too young to talk to older voters. And that I'm not smart enough about the issues to hang with pundits. I'm too narcissistic to realize that my inflated sense of self sends me to fantasy land. I'm just an average joe and am probably gonna stay that way. I'm average! That's why the average is average, because most people are it.
Oh well, I guess I'll meet Bush and Kerry in my dreams. We'll travel cross-country together registering voters. And then Diddy will combine forces with me and we'll make this election the biggest one ever! Yeah right.
I heard about Control Room from Roger Ebert. It is a documentary which follows the Al-Jazeera news network during the Iraq War. After reading his review, I decided to check it out. It was really good. I liked how the filmmakers stood back and just observed the reporters without much interference. I would recommend this documentary to anyone who is interested in the continuing crisis overseas. And I would especially recommend it to anyone who wanted to experience some of the insights found in Farenheit 9/11, but wants to avoid Moore's politics. A-
The battle for the white house is on. The democrats have just finished their convetion and have started on a 21-state tour. The republicans are moving also-- getting ready for their convention August 30 through September 2 in NYC.
The DNC was a success. There were many great speeches including dems like rising-star Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Rev. Al sharpton, John Edwards, and John Kerry.
I really liked Obama's speech. He kept on the theme of a unified America. He also mentioned issues of race. One line in particular that got much applause was, "...They know that parents have to parent, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white." Being black and having been on the receiving end of that exact slander, I agree whole-heartedly.
The rabble-rouser of them all was the Reverend Al Sharpton. Now I read the speech transcript that he handed in, and boy did he ad-lib. He addressed President Bush directly saying, "Last Friday, I had the experience in Detroit of hearing President George Bush make a speech. And in the speech, he asked certain questions. I hope he's watching tonight. I would like to answer your questions, Mr. President." He went on to criticize Bush and the war in Iraq.
But what impressed me the most were the quotables: The issue of government is not to determine who may sleep together in the bedroom, it's to help those that might not be eating in the kitchen.; and: If I told you tonight, "Let's leave the FleetCenter, we're in danger," and when you get outside, you ask me, Reverend Al, "What is the danger?" and I say, "It don't matter. We just needed some fresh air," I have misled you and we were misled.
And the big one:
Mr. President, as I close, Mr. President, I heard you say Friday that you had questions for voters, particularly African- American voters. And you asked the question: Did the Democratic Party take us for granted? Well, I have raised questions. But let me answer your question.
You said the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule.
That's where the argument, to this day, of reparations starts. We never got the 40 acres. We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres.We didn't get the mule. So we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us.
It was a good one.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Someone once told me that life is willing to teach as long as I'm willing to listen. So whenever I learn a new lesson, I blog it.
I have had the privelege of discussing politics the past couple of days at my restaurant with the other servers-- business has been pretty slow. Many opinions were given, as would be expected when talking about a heated subject like politics. There was one girl in particular that piqued my interest. Jenn is a "hardcore" republican. She told me that she supports Bush. She also said that she's glad that we're at war with Iraq. Her reasoning was that America would look like pussies if we didn't go to war.
This wasn't the first time that I heard idiotic comments like that thrown around by uninformed citizens, so I didn't let it bother me. But it did bother Keith. Keith and I were the democratic voices of the night versus the right-wingers. He was so pissed off by what she said that he stormed off. I was hurt by what she said also, but I knew that I had the oppurtunity to help her and couldn't let my emotions get in the way.
I explained to her that yes it was important to go after someone, but who? Where does Iraq come in the picture when talking about 9/11. She couldn't answer. She rebutted with the tired arguement, "Saddam was a bad man." I let her know that there are many bad dictators out there who are oppressing their people, why Iraq? Again she had no answer. But at the moment I saw something in her eye. It was something that I had seen before but couldn't quite remember where.
She told me that she was willing to listen. I began talking and felt a flow of thoughts, points and ideas entering my mind. I was able to clearly and concisely deliver my arguement. As she was nodding her head in agreeance, I got that feeling again of familiarity with the situation. But again I couldn't remember where or when. After listening to what I said she went on her way.
Later on that night Keith, Jenn, and I were standing near each other and Keith made a comment about republicans. He looked at her expecting a reaction. She turned to him and said, "I'm not sure if I'm a republican anymore." He couldn't belive it! And at that moment it hit me. I realized what that feeling was that I was feeling earlier. It was the process of persuasive arguement.
I have been cultivating my skills as a persuasive speaker for much time now. When I used to go to church (more on that later), I remember the debate settings where I had to argue and try to persuade the other side to see the situation as I did. After a while I became very proficient at clearly and comcisely arguing my points. It even got me into trouble.
I have been liberal for a long time. I remember my dad used to call me The Liberal and I didn't even really know what he was talking about. In my later teen years I began criticizing many of the things the pastor and the church administration were doing. Many policies that they formed and enforced seemed wrong. And I received much flak for being so outspoken. And it didn't help that the pastor was my dad.
But I distinctly remember arguing my point-of-view and seeing a twinkle in the eyes of some of my listeners. It was like a light had went off in their head. They knew that what I was saying was right. But they wouldn't back me up. They just left me to be ostracized and alienated for my beliefs. But after the altercations people would always pull me aside and privately reveal to me that they believed me. At my lowest and most vulnerable point these individuals were where I found my strength.
But I didn't think that I would be able to transfer my arguing abilities to endeavors outside of church-- until I talked to Jenn. Her reaction was a reaction that I have seen many times. I just never saw it outside of religious discussions. So what should I make of this?
I am not really sure. I don't want to be a politician. I don't want to argue issues for a living. I do not need the answer right now though. I will let life guide me.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
As I said before, being a student of the dating game I can really appreciate and learn from dating reality shows. MTV has a new show called Wanna Come In that sets up hot girls with bumbling losers. The losers have the assistance of resident playboys who give them tips via wireless earpieces. With that setup alone I thought the show could be pretty cool; watching how guys who look geeky can still get the girl-- proving that attraction is more based on the things we say and do, and not just on our looks. And on that level the show delivers.
The playboys tell the guys to do things that they would have never done left to their own game, or lack thereof. But there's a twist (as there always is), there is a game-show factor involved to which money can be won. Two losers are teamed with two playboys; one playboy for each loser. Each playboy wants his loser to get invited inside the home of the hottie at the end of the date (hence the name 'Wanna come in'). If the playboy can successfully get his loser invited into the hotties crib he and his loser will win $1000. Now the fun begins.
And thats not all folks. Throughout the date the baby Hefs can raise the prize money by getting the losers to complete various missions. Some missions are simply getting personal information from the hotties like weight, and bra cup-size ouch. And some involve doing ridiculous antics like having the hottie switch seats with loser and then switching back within a minute.
Thats where the magic of reality happens. Even though the show has its obligatory staging and coaching from the producers, like most reality shows, there is always some true reality that squeezes out. And on this show it comes out during the antics. When the guys do all the weird stuff, the girls react, and that's all the guys need to win the hotties over. Let me explain.
These losers naturally have no chance with these girls. And you gradually learn why hot girls don't go for losers. Yea I hear you, 'we all know why they don't'. But do you really know specifically why. This show teaches you, if you pay attention, at least one reason why. Because losers can't get reactions from hotties. Most guys, through their nervousness and intimidation, can't show much personality to regular girls, much less hotties.
Case in point, the losers started their dates rather plainly. They expressed how nervous they were and acted like fans. The hotties weren't impressed, as they never are, with the drueling admiration. They want someone that they can see as an equal or above them. So the guys failed on the first impressions.
When they got to dinner the missions began and changed the dynamic. The first mission was to get the girls to switch seats and then get them to switch back within a minute. Loser A got his girl to get up and then said he wasn't comfortable and got her to switch back. Mission accomplished. Loser B just switched once and failed. Loser A came off as odd but secure. Loser B remained at odd.
For the angle of this post, Loser B will no longer be discussed. He basically failed at the missions and didn't get invited in to his date's house. Loser A exemplifies what I am trying to explain. Basically what he did was throw her for a loop. At the beginning of the date she felt in control. But when he made odd requests and asked personal questions the leverage moved to his side. By the middle of the date she didn't control him anymore, they were shootin eye-to-eye.
And it seemed to give him more confidence. Eventually his sense of humor came out and she was won over. As long as he didn't do or say anything really creepy she went along with him. Later on he got to her house and she invited him in. And as I look back at the game tape I realize more and more why he succeeded-- his actions created mystery, and mystery breeds a challenge. And as we all know guys, every girl wants a challenge.
So how can average joe benefit from this observation. Next time you are out with a girl don't be afraid to change it up. Throw her off her game a little. Hold her hand for like fifteen seconds and look into her eyes. Don't rock her entire universe by joking to her that you're really a space alien from the planet Zordon looking for a human bride to breed a colony of offspring with. Just nudge her off of her high horse and maybe then she'll be the one trying to do the impressing.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
The Assistant (MTV)
I have loved Andy Dick for a long time. I believe that he is one of the most gifted comedic talents in the industry. So when I hear that he has a new show out I know it is going to be funny. I just caught the first episode and I was not disappointed-- it's fucking hilarious. His comedic style is unique and very interesting. He's comfortable making fun of himself, and that shows that he is very confident and comfortable in his skin. He is also very bright, but shows it with subtlety. I am really looking forward to next week's episode.
I Love The 90's (VH1)
VH1 has done it again. After the hit show I Love The 80's, they followed with I Love the 70's. So naturally they had to come back with a special featuring the 90's. Being 23 years old, I was able to identify with most of the subjects in the 80's show; few in the 70's special; but I'll be familiar with just about every thing they talk about in this special. Not only do I like reminiscing on the 90's trends, but I absolutely love the comedic commentary. VH1 has figured out that the simple fact that comedians are very funny. I f you show them clips they'll be able to joke about them. Here's an example: The segment was about mayor Marion Barry getting caught doing crack. And one of the panelists said that Marion Barry wanted to put the Columbia back into District of Columbia. Hilarious shit man.
And I will talk about MTV's new show Wanna Come In on a separate blog so that I may go into more detail about it.
Monday, July 12, 2004
One of the biggest things to happen to me was watching Farenheit 9/11. Michael Moore's movie has affected very much. I can't even decide how exactly I feel about the movie. Whenever I find it hard to put a movie into words I turn to the critics for guidance. After reading many reviews I can usually find a critic that felt the same way I did but is able to put the experince in a clear effective style. I haven't really found that with this movie. I would simply say: Go see the movie and draw your own conclusions.
As a result of watching 9/11, I have been much more interested in the war in Iraq; I have several international newspapers bookmarked on my browser(Iraq.Net, Iraqi Newspaper with links to great Iraqi blogs;Khaleej Times, from United Arab Emirates; Arutz Sheeva, Israel; Arab News, Saudi Arabia; and Aljazeera the English Version)I pay more attention to international news segments; and I have a deeper appreciation for the losses and sacrifices being made overseas. 9/11 has successfully shown me a side of the war that I have not been shown or have not been paying attention to-- there are real lives being changed. It is not just some abstract concept of war and death; but is a concrete display of the atrocities of human conflict.
I have also bookmarked the blog of a photojournalist in Iraq named Stephanie Sinclair. I first saw her in a PBS special. She and many other journalists are risking their lives to report on the war firsthand. Her photos are both scary and beautiful-- and at times simultaneously. I appreciate what she is doing out there.
I also recently took a trip to New York. I stayed with my old friend Alaska. He recently moved out to New York to pursue a career in modeling and acting. New York is beautiful. The city-life is for me. The hustle-and-bustle of the noisy streets; the wide-array of people and style-- it was all just wonderful. We partied hard and managed to do some sightseeing. Times Square is more amazing than I imagined it would be. It was so humbling. And I couldn't help but feel that I was in the center of the cultural universe. So many of the shows that I enjoy are filmed there. And the vast majority of tv ads that I watch are concieved there. I can't wait to go back.
I registered for the fall term at PBCC. I don't like it there but its a means to an end. I am saving money being at home. And although many of the liberties that I would have on my own are not present, it still works out better for me. My parents aren't that harsh anyway. But the main reason why I wanted to move out was because of the stigma of living with the parents. Whenever I tell girls that, they seem to hold it against me. As if I haven't proven myself as a man until I move out on my own. But I don't want to do it when I'm not ready just to get some ass from the hoochie at the local hangout. I would rather suffer now, then get my degree and bag fly shorties and bring them to my penthouse flat, na' mean.
I also have some life organizing to do. I want to get my finances straight for the fall school term. So I am going to work my ass off for the next couple of weeks. I also have to get into shape. I have to join LA Fitness down the street and pump up. I know it is going to take discipline that I don't have, but I figure now is the best time to build it.
I'll keep posting. And I'll try not to leave any big time gaps anymore.