21 November 2006

Back to Basicks

It occurs to me that both of you loyal Roman Numeral J readers may have, in recent days & posts, been disturbed by the blogs tendency toward the overly political -- Whether it be solving social secuity, finding deep political arguments in juvenile comedies, or pointing out the persecution of atheists going on all across the world (by which i mean america).

But, i am now announcing a turn toward the undead... again. As i put my PhD applications together, making statements of purpose justifying my year spent thinking with zombies & editing and rewriting my Romero paper. Also, i will try to turn the blog back toward the momentary and incidental (everything is momentary and incidental, i suppose, but i'll shoot for what most would consider trivial)...

On that note, i had some tawny port tonight... after work. Watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the first third with subtitles (which i initially thought were part of the movie... thinking it 'really arty'). Now i'm hanging out with my guinea pig for a while. Yeah. that's exciting...

but, in an exclusive announcement, i'd like to toss out some feelers for a Christmas Party... December 16th? who might make it? An exclusive (and by exclusive i mean hardly anyone will show up unless you readers make it sweet) party at the Martha house... anyone... anyone...

17 November 2006

Fix and Foxy

Yesterday, as i was working for the great green god i spied an old guy. He was walking out of the store with his wife (old lady) and he made me pause (what does it mean to give me pause? he may have done that as well). He was wearing a sweet sky blue jacket, with a brown fur collar and a large ABCthis...is abc television logo on the left breast. It was possibly the coolest piece of retro clothing i've ever seen.

When i saw it, it occurred to me that i have, singlehandedly, solved the social security problem that we aren't facing. Any young hipster out there, who is walking around in the world, if you see an old guy (or lady) wearing an article of clothing that is really cool, you offer to buy it for some exorbitant sum of money, say $100, something it's absolutely not worth. Soon, old folks will have all the money they need for food and medications and such. Of course, it won't work for you all to continue to buy these things at the Salvation Army or garage sales, as you won't be handing out enough money.

Of course, because we're doing all this for the betterment of society, we will be able to deduct whatever amount you pay out for these awesome items from your tax income. But, you'll need proof of the purchase... if the old-time doesn't give you a receipt (note: you must pay in cash)... snap a photo. Send this photo in with your next tax return. I love the idea of thousands of photos showing up at the IRS next April. It's gonna be great. So get out there. Buy that fantastic fur hat you've had your eye on. Go for the piebald pants you see scooting by every Taco Tuesday. Just Buy It.

13 November 2006

Alls That

Sacha Baron Cohen's brilliant character Borat worked perfectly when translated to the big screen. I'm overjoyed to see this morning that it took first place at the box office for a second straight weekend. The satire is biting, hilarious, and completely relevant. If you haven't seen this movie yet, you must. Not only is it so funny you'll embarrass yourself by how loudly you're laughing, but is also at times haunting at how dangerously ignorant, bigoted, and gullible Americans can be. The film, in my view, points out not how backward Kazakhstan is (as the anti-defimation League & Kazakh government officials have claimed), rather it points out how backward the U.S. is.

Baron Cohen clearly has a political agenda in the film (a valid & well thought-out one, but still definitely there) in who he chooses to interview and how he treats them, but comparing scenes where he talks to young black men late at night deep in an inner-city ghetto to his scene riding along on an RV-road trip with a few white frat boys is truly telling.

After seeing the film, i'm amazed Baron Cohen is still alive and free. The number of times you think he must have been arrested or utterly torn apart by a mob is astounding. I suppose someone might make an argument that it demonstrates the exceptional civility of Americans, how they can take a verbal assault without resorting to violence, but i think it's more likely a product of the sheepish American tendency to bend over and take whatever is doled out to us.

I see a parallel with the stolen election of 2000. Pundits called it a credit to American democracy that we didn't take to the streets and shut down the world, but it was instead a credit to the American plutocracy. Borat's comic bullying is only possible, because of the incredible ignorance displayed by the Americans he finds that are willing to believe that the Borat character is a real, viable representative of a true Kazakhstani. The film is, at its core, a fairly accurate representation of how American's view people from other countries (or counties for that matter) as cardboard cutouts. They are statistics, news stories, and maybe causes, but surely not real flesh-and-blood humans. The film explores (and to an extent explains) how we can accept people dying of AIDS or hunger or poverty in other parts of the world... how we can care so much about 2000 some dead American soldiers and so little about tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

But seriously... it's really funny. Go see it.

09 November 2006

Membership Drive

A new feature on Roman Numeral J, where i attempt to recruit new readership by telling stories about people using their full names, thereby making them "find themselves" when they randomly google themselves. Today's subject: Ryan Gjerde.

As a side note for this new feature, the stories told are not necessarily "true", but they are accurately retold from my memory of the occurance. It was the fall of 1998 & my roommate miron & i were throwing another really quite terrible party. In attendance, besides miron & myself were my girlfriend Brooke (i think), Ryan Gjerde & possibly Sandy (or maybe Toni {or maybe & Toni}). The party was so bad that conversation had turned to Ryan Gjerde's middle school journals he had made for a grade in 7th or 8th grade. He'd been describing something he'd done in them, and then said suddenly, "Want to see?"

We all did, of course, and he ran accross the hall. Only years later does the question really occur to me, why had Ryan Gjerde brought his middle school journal to college with him, particularly, because this was his senior year... I mean, i can sort of see it as a freshman thing, with the thinking that it might be "an interesting conversation piece" and helping to "get to know people", but three years into college, it seemed an odd thing to have along...

[please permit a short aside about Ryan Gjerde - this may be the part where things i say are not entirely "true", but at least they're "truthy". - Ryan told a family history story, about how in the 1800s (or earlier... or later) when his family were living around in Iowa, they were being discriminated against because of their foreign heritage & Norsky sounding name, so they decided to change it. Their family officially changed their name, in an effort to seem less ethnic, from Gjerde to Knudson, no joke (though possibly a lie). After a few years of seeing this hadn't worked, they went back to their original name, Gjerde]

So, Ryan returned to the party with his middle school journal and read out two very memorable pages, the first words that almost rhyme with silver (pilfer, sliver, gold), followed by words that almost rhyme with orange (door hinge, cringe, gold). Both of these lists were incredibly long, very funny, and well constructed (particularly for a middle schooler). Shortly thereafter some more people showed up and the party rose from totally lame to kinda crappy.

And so, faithful readers, we come to the end of the membership drive, with the hopes that Ryan Gjerde has found us and will continue to enjoy the blog about once every 6 weeks, thus tripling readership. Also, this feature reminds me of two separate blogs i'd considered starting, but never got around to. One would be a blog called "After Further Review" (or some similarly terrible punny name) and would be reviews from everything from coke blak to plastic corpses to Hollywood blockbusters. The other would be called "This One Time..." and people would tell stories about other people they know. Both would ideally be open enrollment sort of blogs where lots of people would submit, but i only want to start them if anyone is interested in writing at least occasionally.

08 November 2006

Awkward Off-Rythm Clapping on Both Sides of the Aisle

Alas, the finest of the candidates in some races didn't win through, but a moderately non-bad result to the evening's elections. The Democrats control the House of Representatives and the Senate is still up in the air as of this writing, but much closer than it was. Overall, it seems that people were slightly swayed by the story that they were displeased by "the way things were going", but some of the most interesting races have turned out disappointingly.

First off, all you Texans, shame on you for not electing Kinky Friedman as your next governor. What the hell, a former country singer and mystery novel writer & you pass? Granted, he refused to raise any money, not wanting to take part in the absolutely necessary bullshit of electioning, but still, Texas, i thought you were better than that.

And then the Republicans successfully re-elected their man, Joe Liebermann, to the Senate over pretty cool guy Ned Lamont. This win, i think, simply comes down to the fact that republicans, who have no souls, can vote strategically much more easily than Democrats (or even us Greens). They came out in great numbers (enough to elect a Republican governor soundly) & voted for Lieberman without even holding their noses, i think, because they knew, he was their man. Well, Connecticut, i'm sorry for your choice, it was the wrong one, but i know it wasn't the true sentiment, it was a team Right ploy that worked well.

I also found out, only just tonight, that Malachy McCourt was running for governor of New York. How could you not have chosen him, NY? he's Frank McCourt's brother. In all seriousness, though, this qualifies him to be a public servant more than most any other politician, republican or democrat, can claim.

In Nebraska it was a less-depressing experience than usual, with many of my local choices winning, several of the ballot Initiatives (Nebraska had more than any other state... that may or may not be true) going the right way... & even our house seat, still up in the air, though Esch will likely lose before the morning... He was so much closer than anyone thought he would be. Also, Doug Patterson appears to have garnered 5% of the vote for Secretary of State, thus giving the Green Party official status in Nebraska. Next cycle they can actually run candidates full time, rather than spending so much of their resources on ballot access. I hope that sticks. All in all, it's been, as i said, a slightly non-depressing evening of election results. It's hard to get very excited about anything that goes on with people that are so almost entirely opposed to the things i am for, but yes, the pseudo-left has won tonight, and that's better than the whole-assed right, so hooray.

Everyone go see Borat to celebrate...have some deviant sex, mock a deity, and wear some American Flag Underwear. This isn't a win, it's one of those wins where the other team misses the field goal in the closing seconds and you just say, whew, now we have to get serious (or else you lose to the Dolphins two weeks later).

07 November 2006

I - Am - Job

My former employer, Metropolitan Community College has decided to bring me back into their fold, handing me a part-time teaching job beginning December 1st. Actually, i start sooner than that, writing up a syllabus and "preparing", but my first day of actual class teaching is the 1st.

They had me in for an interview and on the very same day handed me two Comp II classes (writing a research paper) and a film history and appreciation course. I'm so terribly excited i can hardly stand it. I can choose, i think, any film i "deem appropriate" for the film class, although texts have already been selected. Basically, i can put the classes together how i want. Now all i have to do is figure out how to teach. Any suggestions?

04 November 2006

I Enjoy the People

It's another lovely evening in Wisconsin. I've given 4 hours of my life to Barber Shop related causes & spent the balance of my evening out in the boondocks near Brodhead, hanging out with most of my Wisco folk.

What it mostly makes me recall is how much i love having friends about. I hate being in a city that everyone i know doesn't live in. I wish i was one of those people who knew only people that lived within golf-shot distance (golf-shot distance has become my favorite distance measure, because it's so arbitrary & really makes you seem like a better golfer than you are). And so we come again to my commune idea... Granted, the franchise commune plan that i've devised doesn't put everyone i know within a decent 3-iron, but it does surround myself with people i like & gives people the chance to do just what they like...

So, here's the plan, in summary. We (and by we, i so far just mean me, but also mean anyone who wants to join me) begin to accrue. While most communes are founded on left-y ideals of sharing and community (and ours will rather be, too) we have to start with building up the empire. So when one of us finds an old farmhouse or sweet house in the city (or perhaps we'll start with an RV) and buys it, it becomes the property, at least in practice, of the commune. And we spread out as we accrue more properties & people. So, for example, let's say i finally purchased that decked out 70s era RV that's been parked at the Greek restaurant in Millard for years & simultaneously, Lee buys an old house in Brookings (i believe Lee is really the only person vital to this whole plan working, at least of people that i know, because he can turn a pile of garbage into a moped & relocate doors at will). If Lee wants to take a vaca, he puts in for transfer to the RV & if i want to be in Brookville for a time, i take his spot there. We trade places & both get to experience a new life for a while.

Now, imagine this on a much larger scale, where there are tens or hundreds of folk moving around the world to the different places we own. Eventually, you'll be able to summer in Greece & spend a couple weeks a year at our condo in Playa del Carmen (right near where the guy makes the seashell lamps). It's going to be sweet, but so far, all i have is me & a mid-sized refrigerator box.