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That Unrelated Conversation With My Dad

The scene:
A kosher vegan Chinese restaurant. I'm enjoying my birthday dinner when my cell phone rings. It's my Dad. We briefly have our usual conversation (Dad: Is everything OK? Me: Yes. Dad: What took you song long to answer the phone? Me: ??? Dad: Is everything OK? Etc., etc., etc.). Then he starts talking about Pittsburgh:

Dad: I want you to come to Pittsburgh.
Me: OK.
Dad: ... permanently.
Me: Uh ...
Dad: I don't know why you won't move back to Pittsburgh.
Me: Because I want to be successful.
Dad: You can be successful in Pittsburgh. And it's easier, because there are less people here.
Me: That's not ... you just ... ::headtable::

From that point on I was dumbstruck by my inability to articulate that he had essentially made my point for me. I want to be a fabulous writer. I am by far the most fabulous writer in this room (given that the choices are between me and my cat, Muchi). I'm the best writer in this apartment -- maybe even in this whole apartment building. Does that mean I'm successful?

Writer's Block: An intimate portrait

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

"My Life: A Cautionary Tale"


via vulgarweed

Ick.

Yeah, no.

I had to google what it meant. Gross.

It's official: I find this contest super annoying. I should probably be focusing on my real writing homework anyway.
The first three words that came to my mind when I read this week's prompt: Occupy Wall Street.

It's kind of awesome, this little movement that could. I remember when it began. I'd only heard about it from Vince. For those who know Vince, he's an aging hippie/yippie who's very much a fixture back in my hometown. If there's something that needs protesting, or something that he can chain himself to, you can bet that Vince will be there. So getting facebook invites from Vince didn't exactly make me expect that this was going to be the movement to watch. Boy was I wrong.

It began around the same time as Rosh Hashana, and I was not there in the early days primarily because I had other things to do. Classes. Shows. I missed Day 1 because I was on the other side of Lower Manhattan, performing with the NYC Gay Men's Chorus in a mini flashmob. And then something funny happened around the time that the cops moved in to bust some heads and put an end to this thing: People started to take notice.

Maybe it was the memory of Egypt last February, or more recent demonstrations in Libya. Either way, the press went (and I'm stealing this joke from John Stewart) from "blackout" to "circus." Suddenly, there was Geraldo in his leather jacket, his windswept moustache glistening in the light of the TV camera.

Maybe it's because I'm still somewhat traumatized from my own trip to jail, but I've not really spent any time down there. I went to the Occupy Times Square demo, but snuck away before they started bashing heads in earnest.

Last night, on my way home from the Matthew Sweet show, I very randomly ran into holzman and his wife on the subway platform. They were coming from Occupy Wall Street, having been there with Steampunk Emma Goldman. I'm starting to feel less than noble for my lack of participation. I'm thinking I need to be doing more than just signal boosting online.

I can't cook.



I didn't make that post card, but I could have (well, I could have two years ago. I'm 40 now, going on 41). It appears on this week's PostSecret post, and I am horrified by how many people have already leapt up to say that looking down on people who can't cook is absolutely A-OK.

You know what? Fuck you, that's what.

As I said in the one non-judgmental thread, growing up, my Mom worked full time, and my Dad didn't cook. We had Stouffer's and Lean Cuisine for every meal. My Mom makes Lean Cuisine spaghetti for crying out loud. It wasn't until college that I even knew that not everyone lived like that. I thought making meals from scratch was something that only fake moms like Carol Brady and Shirley Partridge did. In college, I saw people making meals from ingredients and I was floored. I seriously didn't know that people really did that. Not on a daily basis, at any rate (my Mom could make a fancy recipe for a holiday dinner, but that was a Special Occasion).

So here I am, 20 years later. Yes, I can cook some things. I can do grilled cheese, and various egg things (scrambled, fried, et al). But if you gave me tomatoes and onions and a bunch of other similar ingredients, the only thing I could reliably create would be a sandwich of some sort. And I am beyond horrified that apparently that means I'm worthy of ridicule. I'm sure there are lots of people who don't know how to do certain things because they were never taught as children, whether cooking or sewing or whatever. But if there's one thing I've learned from everything I've read about being fat, it's that it's NEVER OK to judge somebody else for their food choices, and that you should NEVER allow anybody to do it to you.

So to everyone in that post who wants to judge others for eating processed foods: FUCK YOU.

Best. Idea. Ever.

OMG I just figured out how to do sketch comedy writing classes and still have a life: Write stuff ahead of time! Through all my other classes, I'd been waiting for the assignments, and then frantically cranking out the work each week while trying to look for a job, hang out with friends, do whatever else needed doing, etc. Yesterday, it finally dawns on me that when I have an idea I should just sit down and crank out a first draft -- doesn't have to be perfect, or even complete, but just to have it written. Then, when I get an assignment, viola! I don't have to reinvent the wheel. I can just do the much less time consuming task of rewriting something that I already took the first swing at. OMG why didn't I think of this before? I've already got two out of three ideas written, and I think they're both funny to boot. Class doesn't even start until tomorrow and I'm already prepared through the first three weeks. How awesome is that?

FoxNews, You Got Some 'Splainin To Do.

I've been meaning to write about this for a week or so now. Part of what's held me back is that it's just so mind-numbingly over-the-top hideous that it's kind of hard to know where to start. Let's start with this quote:

“For women, frump isn’t funny any longer. The new female comedian has to be the sexual aggressor, sexually provocative, dominant and successful," says entertainment expert Patrick Wanis. "Hollywood is now portraying women as the dominant force – the boss, the rescuer, the heroine, the hunter. Now women are being sexually provocative and sexually aggressive, rude and funny without the femininity or the class. Lucille Ball would never have played the aggressive, domineering nymphomaniac that Jennifer Aniston portrayed in ‘Horrible Bosses.’"


I, for one, think it's a good thing that Lucille Ball wasn't playing "aggressive, domineering nymphomaniac[s]." Are aggressive, domineering nymphomaniacs funny? Because I think most people will agree that Lucille Ball was funny. Also, everything I've heard points to Horrible Bosses being a terrible movie.

Last night, I went to see a screening of Miss Representation (those of you with cable TV should check it out on Oprah's network this evening). One of the concepts that this movie crystallized for me was that of "the fighting fuck-toy." The term was coined by Occidental College associate professor Caroline Heldman to describe the female heroes of action films who are supposedly empowered, but who are dressed and presented in a way more akin to inflatable dolls than powerful heroes (see Lara Croft, Catwoman, Charlie's Angels, et al). I don't remember who asked the question initially, but who would wear those outfits if they were planning on kicking butt and saving the world? Who in their right mind prefers to fight crime while wearing a push up bra and stilettos?

For me, it's yet another disheartening reminder that the thing I love (movies, film, television, comedy) is still very much a boy's club. It's a lot of why I burned out on production work a decade ago. I started out, fresh from film school, in 1992. I was going to change the world, or at least the film industry. My first mission was the electrical department. See, the electrical department is one of the most entrenched boys-only clubs in the production business. The next time you're at a movie or watching a DVD, stick around for the credits. Look to see if you see any female names under the headings of "Gaffer," "Grip," or "Electric." The IMDb page is less than complete, but even Miss Representation only had one or maybe two female grips listed. As a matter of fact, do you know what they call the head assistant in the Grip and Electric departments? "Best Boy." Seriously.

I have one single "grip" credit to my name: "Solstice" (which was a great crew to be on, BTW. I have very strong memories of the knowledgeable electrics being very willing to teach the novice grips). My next gig (whose name I have blocked out), I was a Production Assistant ("PA"). I showed up on the first day and was told to go make coffee. More recently, a month or so ago I volunteered to help Upright Citizens Brigade get UCBeast ready for opening night. I walked in to find the all-male crew hanging lights and painting walls. "I'm here to help!" I declared. They showed me to the vacuum cleaner.

In both of those cases I did what I was directed to do, but in both of those cases (and neither, sadly, were isolated incidents) I found it profoundly disheartening. UCB is one of the few (if not the only) places in comedy where being a woman doesn't mean I'm in the overwhelming minority. I'm well aware that I seem to have chosen yet another boy's club to try to break into.

And now FoxNews, that bastion of equality, has declared that it's a happy happy day, because the new Hollywood comediennes "all combine funny bones with bangin’ bodies." "Hollywood doesn’t want a woman that is not sexually enticing like Rosie [O'Donnell]," they declare (I'm guessing Rosie's not a virgin anymore, so presumably she's sexually enticing to someone). But my favorite quote has to be this one:

"People are realizing that you don’t have to have a penis to tell a joke about one."

Because it is all about the penis, right?

"When you pray, move your feet"

Oh dear.

I've committed myself to participating in therealljidol and already I want to bail. See, the very first topic is "When you pray, move your feet." Now, I understand that this is a proverb and that it shouldn't necessarily be taken literally, but ... ugh. I've been single for a little more than two weeks now and one of the great things about no longer dating a religious person is that I can shovel all of that God-type-stuff right out the door. This morning (as an example) I realized that I no longer had to keep my iTunes crammed full of Matisyahu. I am now free to admit that when I hear him say "the eventual building up of the third temple that we're waiting for," my gut reaction is "are you SERIOUS?!? You really take that crap LITERALLY?!?"

So when I pray ... well, I don't. And when I hear other people talk about praying I think that they're mentally ill. It's mythology, people. It's not real. And when you indoctrinate your children to believe that it is real (like I'm sure all those wig-wearing, baby-bearing, Orthodox ladies that I see at Target are busy doing), in my opinion it's a form of child abuse. You're teaching your children to waste their lives by focusing on a bunch of arbitrary and ridiculous rules designed to keep some invisible boogeyman in the sky happy. The fact that otherwise intelligent (I'm looking at you, Dr. Sharon Moalem) people fall prey to this superstition just boggles my mind.

So move your feet, sure. But pray? Thanks, but no thanks.

Housing Crunch.

Damn it.

My realtor has finally come up with a house in Polish Hill for me, and it's the worst possible timing. Well, maybe not the worst timing, but I've got no job, almost no savings, I just signed a new one-year lease on my current (New York) apartment, and I've just signed up for another round of classes at UCB as well.

Why couldn't she have found me a Polish Hill house a year ago?

We are the 1%

I'm signal boosting 1withthe99, which is the syndication of this fantastic site.

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therealljidol

Motivated by elionwyr, I have signed myself up for therealljidol. I have to admit, after having scrolled through several pages of links about it, I don't fully understand what the fuck that means. Do I have to write a certain number of public posts every day/week/month? Who the fuck knows. Every FAQ is about how joining will let you win friends and influence people.

But what the heck -- let's see what happens.

Mississippi Personhood Amendment

This came to me by way of bishopjoey, badrahessa, and several others:

Okay, so I don't usually do this, but this is an issue near and dear to me and this is getting very little no attention in the mainstream media.

Mississippi is voting on November 8th on whether to pass Amendment 26, the "Personhood Amendment". This amendment would grant fertilized eggs and fetuses personhood status.

Putting aside the contentious issue of abortion, this would effectively outlaw birth control and criminalize women who have miscarriages. This is not a good thing.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only place women can get abortions in the entire state, and they are trying to launch a grassroots movement against this amendment. This doesn't just apply to Mississippi, though, as Personhood USA, the group that introduced this amendment, is trying to introduce identical amendments in all 50 states.

What's more, in Mississippi, this amendment is expected to pass. It even has Mississippi Democrats, including the Attorney General, Jim Hood, backing it.

The reason I'm posting this here is because I made a meager donation to the Jackson Women's Health Organization this morning, and I received a personal email back hours later - on a Sunday - thanking me and noting that I'm one of the first "outside" people to contribute.

So if you sometimes pass on political action because you figure that enough other people will do something to make a difference, make an exception on this one. My RSS reader is near silent on this amendment. I only found out about it through a feminist blog. The mainstream media is not reporting on it.

If there is ever a time to donate or send a letter in protest, this would be it.

What to do?

- Read up on it. Wake Up, Mississippi is the home of the grassroots effort to fight this amendment. Daily Kos also has a thorough story on it.

- If you can afford it, you can donate at the site's link.

- You can contact the Democratic National Committee to see why more of our representatives aren't speaking out against this.

- Like this Facebook page to help spread awareness.


Writer's Block: Riddle me this

What is something that just doesn't make sense to you?
When women participate in their own subjugation. I see women on TV play stupid and wear next to nothing and allow themselves to be paraded around as ornamentation, only existing for the excitation and pleasure of the male viewer. How does a woman apply for a job at Hooters when she knows that the exchange for the tips and paycheck is her dignity? How do the stars of the new Playboy TV show handle knowing that the men they parade around in front of think of them as something less than human, an "entertainment item," to be used and then discarded. How did the real life "bunnies" deal with that? I actually knew a woman who was a former Playboy Restaurant Bunny, back when I lived in Chicago. She became a junkie and a prostitute, and died from AIDS in the late-90s. She gave me a small box of her earrings, which I still have. She was warm and kind, but always very, very sad.

Try as I might to wrap my head around it, it just makes no sense to me when women are active participants in their own subjugation and degradation.

Penis Envy. Except Not.

Comedy is pissing me off today.

Last night I went to see NBCUniversal & UCB Theatre's Advanced Improv Diversity Scholarship Finalist Showcase. Eight performers (including my friend Nicole) who were the finalists to receive a scholarship from NBC/Universal for classes at UCB. Now, I'm all in favor of diversity, and of seeing my friends perform. Nicole didn't win, but apparently the non-winning finalists at least get discounted classes at UCB. I thought about it and did some math: The average class at UCB costs around $400, and lasts eight weeks. From the beginning of May until now (5 months, give or take), I've taken three classes. Even if the winner crams ten classes into a year, that's a $4,000 scholarship. NBC/Universal, with all their billions, can afford to shell out four grand to further diversity. Ooh, I'm impressed.

I get pissed off by how white and male the world of comedy (and TV/film in general, really) is. Working on my homework, I thought I'd take a break and watch an episode of Funny or Die. Watching the end credits, there were NINE writers credited. You wanna guess how many of them were women? Yep. Zero.

I actually got pissed off by something very similar in the book I was reading yesterday. A character, a 20-something woman, is a pre-med student. She's talking to her father, a lawyer. He goes on a rant about women choosing college majors that lead to low-paying jobs ("Education. Social work. English.") versus men choosing majors that lead to high-paying jobs ("Engineering."). He then says "And then they wonder why women don't make as much money as men... These girls do it to themselves." Now, maybe the author's intention is to paint him as a sexist jerk, but if so, then why didn't the daughter respond with what my brain was screaming: That maybe we, as a culture, should reassess how we value certain jobs. Engineers aren't paid more than teachers because engineering has some actual intrinsic value greater than that of teaching. Engineers build bridges. Teachers build the minds of the people who will later build bridges (and create art and invent medicines and do everything else). Maybe we should be paying teachers as much as engineers. Maybe we should be paying teachers more.

This folds back on what I hear and see so often in my day to day life: Women are ornamental. Women aren't funny. Women are the flash, men are the substance. I work on shows where the men and the women on the crew and in the cast are perfectly fine with treating each other as equals as individuals, but once those cameras roll, the women are in shoes that make walking impossible and dresses that make breathing impossible, and the men are still comfy and casual. True story: Walking in to the UCB Theater last night, I hear one young man tell another young man "You'll like her -- she's cute." And I think, is that really all we're worth?


It's likely this will be x-posted to feminist_rage

And Now For Something That Pisses Me Off.

Last night I happened to catch a bit of ABC's Nightline. This is not a show I usually watch, but they were doing a story about a top women's fashion model who was actually a teenage boy, and this concept intrigued me. The story: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/genderless-worlds-popular-male-model-walks-runways-heels/story?id=14522370

The interviewer -- Juju Chang -- is straight out of the 1980s with her preconceptions about gender and sexuality. When she finally sits down with model Andrej Pejic, the entire interview can be summed up in one phrase: "Pick one." Were you a boy or a girl? I was a child. Well, pick one. Do you see yourself as a man or a woman? I see myself. Nope, you have to pick one. Are you attracted to men or women? I haven't decided. I'm sorry, you're going to have to pick one.

To Pejic's credit s/he doesn't allow the interviewer to force hir into a corner. When asked "Do you think of yourself more as a man or as a woman?" Pejic responds "I like to keep my options open," and Chang looks like she's about to lose her mind. "What does that MEAN?!?!" she wails. It means you don't get to define someone else's gender, for starters.

Chang looks REALLY frustrated with Pejic's response to the question of sexual orientation. Chang asks "Are you gonna marry a man or a woman?" and when Pejic responds "I hadn't planned that," Chang flips out. "Most of us have a general idea (ha ha ha)!" Key word there is "most," Ms. Chang. For starters, you're asking a teenager to state unequivocally what their lifetime sexual orientation will be. I can't tell you how many folks I knew with one orientation at age 19 who have a completely different orientation at age 40. And second, ever hear of bisexuality? Because I assure you, it exists.

The part that's missing from ABC's website: On TV, the story ended with the newscaster saying that Australia (where Pejic is a citizen) has recently added "Indeterminate" to the list of gender options available for their Passports. Now, I don't love the term "Indeterminate," but I do love the fact that Australia has added a third option. Hey Juju Chang: If Australia can figure out that there may be more than two possibilities, why can't you?


x-posted to feminist_rage

Random Technical Question:

What does one do about one's purse/wallet/etc. if one is involved in a flash mob that requires choreography?

I guess the simplest answer is "bring a friend with you," but, barring that, any ideas? Leave it where you were sitting/standing and hope that no one nicks it? It's all but 100% that I'll be wearing a dress, so pockets are out.

Alternately, anyone wanna come with me next Saturday to hold my purse while I dance with a flashmob? I'll have to be there for about 3½ hours, although really, I'd only need a purse watcher for the last hour.

Well, THAT was frustrating.

Well fark.

I was just offered an internship with Upright Citizens Brigade which I had to turn down because my current state of unemployment means that I don't know if I'll be able to stay in New York or not. The good news is that if I am able to stay, it sounds like they'd be glad to re-offer me the internship at a later, more stable date. But it was tremendously frustrating to have the offer in my hand and not be able to jump at it.

Khaos

I am hearing through the grapevine that khaosinc has died. I'm searching online for independent verification before I completely break down, but judging from the serious cardiac event that he suffered a year or so ago ... well, let's just say that I'm not overly optimistic that a mistake has been made.


ETA: Independent Verification: http://www.molesfuneralhome.com/index.cfm?do=obituary&obiD=3309

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Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Well, here's a new twist to add to the dilemma: UCB sent me an internship application, essentially inviting me to apply since I volunteered with this year's Del Close Marathon. It would be one 8-hour shift a week, and in exchange I would get two free classes, not to mention networking like whoa. It's a great opportunity ... but not if I move to Philly.

I mean, I guess technically I could still do it if I lived in Philly, but it would mean multiple NYC commutes per week (for classes as well as for my internship, not to mention the show requirements that come with each class). But if I stay in New York I'm back to needing an excellent job pretty much immediately or else facing certain financial ruin.

I've got one month to figure out what to do with my life and I haven't got a clue what to do about it.

Chicago Update.

I'm really glad I wrote this post because I feel like it gave me the motivation I needed to refuse to take no for an answer from the airlines. Long story short: I found a flight at 9:30 am and, while I got no sleep, I *did* get to Chicago.

And I also got to see vulgarweed! We had dinner and walked around the old 'hood and just generally tried to catch up on the last 20 years or so. We tried to get divinetailor to come out and join us but we were unable to track her down. Hopefully next time we'll get that planned out early.

Look for pictures on facebook. :)

Beyond Upset.

After an hour and a half on hold, it's starting to really dawn on me that I'm going to miss Daryk's wedding. My flight was scheduled for 12:40 pm and the FAA is closing the airport at noon. All earlier flights are sold out. All flights to an alternate airport are sold out. Amtrak is sold out too. I'm really going to miss Daryk's wedding. That's just not even possible. Daryk. Daryk.

Philadelphia.

OK, let's talk about Philly.

Yesterday, while waiting for class, I got to talking to Darryl. Darryl is one of my classmates, and Darryl commutes to NYC from Philly every week on the MegaBus. "Tell me why I should move to Philly," I said, and we got to talking about cheaper rent and yummy pretzels. "Do you guys live in Philly?" asked a man who'd sat down behind us. Turns out he does too. And once he chimed in, a woman sitting across the room piped up that she also lives in Philly (well, Exton). Three people, taking Monday evening classes at UCB, all commuting from Philly.

Suddenly this idea didn't seem so wacky anymore.

So talk it up people: Should I move to Philly? If so, where in Philly? Where should I be looking to live? Where should I be looking for work? What's a fair price to pay for rent? My current lease is up on October 1, so whatever I end up doing, I need to be doing it by then (it's worth noting that what I could end up doing is begging my building's management company to let me stay for an extra month, although I would still be needing to make a decision about what to do after that).

Philadelphians: Hook me up!

It's the health care, stupid.

I'm watching The McLaughlin Group again (I know, why?). They recently had a brief discussion on the stats that being unemployed makes women 30-some percent and men 70-some percent more likely to die. They couldn't believe it. How could unemployment possibly be a terminal disease? Maybe it's depression? I dunno, on to the next topic.

Um, no, it's about access to health care, dummies.

You pundits are so far removed from the reality of non-wealthy Americans that you're going to bash Obama for the health care bill because he should have been focusing on employment, and then totally miss the fact that the two are fucking related. It's a goddamn motherfucking safety net, assholes.

Meanwhile, I'm sick. And with the sorry state of my health insurance, my only options for medical care at the moment are 1.) Drive 7 hours to Pittsburgh, 2.) Pay a $2,500 deductible at an emergency room, or 3.) Do an "eVisit." I chose the latter. 40 minutes after trying to describe my headache on an online form, I got an email saying the doctor was calling in a prescription for cough syrup with codeine. For my ear infection. I won't bore you with all the awful details. The long story short is that I drove my fevered, delirious, nightgown-wearing ass to CVS and finally got some antibiotics.

And I'm one of the lucky ones.

My COBRA runs out in January. What then?

Of course, I'm fairly likely to be a 40 year old dependent of my parents then, as I have yet to find a job. Oh, and I don't have to worry about the debt ceiling affecting my Unemployment, because as of today, I've exhausted my benefits anyway. Yippee! The actual good news is that maybe since I filled out my claim today, I might get tossed into the process for another Federal extension before the government implodes. I do have another job interview tomorrow, but it's for a part time thing, so at best it will delay my becoming penniless rather than prevent it.
If the Federal Government can't get their shit together by Wednesday, I'm not going to get any more Unemployment benefits, right?

But even if they can't pay me, I still have to pay my landlord, right?

Huh. Well this is going to be interesting...

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This weekend has been jam-packed, news-wise. On Friday night there was the news of bombing in Norway, followed almost immediately by the story of the massacre at the camp. Before long we learned that they were connected. Then, Saturday morning, the news of Amy Winehouse's death. I can't speak for anyone else, but my facebook exploded. The majority of posts were about Amy Winehouse, and the majority of those were of the "Too soon. So sad. Not a surprise, though." variety. I had no problem with those, but I did take issue with the "Shoulda gone to rehab. Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk." jokes. I was more pissed at the "friend" who said "No sympathy for Amy Winehouse...she had the world in the palm of her hand and pissed it away to get drunk and high..." although I was even more pissed at the friends of my friends, one of whom went on a lengthy rant about how when people struggle with addictions "...it cheapens the whole issue of *genuine* mental health problems..." And then, of course, there was the recurring theme of "I'm more offended that we're talking about Amy Winehouse than the people in Norway."

People. Come on.

1. First of all, Amy Winehouse did go to rehab. Repeatedly. Like most people. You know how when people decide to quit smoking cigarettes, it often takes them a few tries to really quit smoking? Yea, well, drugs and alcohol are usually the same way. Good on her for continuing to try. I'm sorry that she lost her battle. madamjolie says it better than I could.

2. Ah, infighting among marginalized groups. Someone who's "really" mentally ill thinks that people with addiction issues are somehow "cheapening" mental illness. I briefly argued with this person, but when they posted a 700+ word rant about how they're better than an addict because they struggled with depression but chose to not self-medicate, well, I figured it was time to walk away.

Most people know I've had my issues with addiction. The worst of it is more than a decade in the past for me, which makes it much easier to talk about. Seeing the video of Amy Winehouse stumbling, confused onstage in Serbia last month, I absolutely knew where she was coming from. I've been there. It's scary, but also a strange feeling of safety. When you're in that condition, you have to trust the people around you. It's almost like being a child again.

Of course I can't speak for Amy Winehouse, but I can only guess that the media's ridicule made it exponentially worse. How it must feel, to have that gorgeous voice, to win all of those Grammys, and yet still be the butt of the joke.

3. I have said this more times than I can recall in the past 24 hours, but being saddened by one tragedy does not negate being saddened by the other. It reminds me of my first and second grade homeroom teacher, who would always admonish us to clean our plates at lunchtime because there were starving children in China (a few years later this would change to Ethiopia). As if whether or not I finished my chicken pot pie made any difference to whether a starving child elsewhere would be able to eat. Had that been a legitimate concern of our teacher or our school, the better lesson would have been to teach us to listen to our bodies' hunger, take only what we actually needed, and then save the leftovers to donate to a local soup kitchen or shelter.

Yes, I was horrified when I saw the news on Friday night. Yes, I put myself in the place of those teenagers, and wondered what I would have done, had it been me (of course, I would have hit the water. I'm a swimmer. It's even money whether that would have been a life-saving choice, or whether it would have guaranteed my certain death). Yes, I am disgusted that Muslims who kill large numbers of people are terrorists, while a Right Wing Christian who does the same thing is mentally ill, a lone extremist.

But no, writing about Amy Winehouse's death does not make me a bad person just because something worse happened in the world during the same news cycle. News stories do not need to rise to the level of massacre to be worthy of discussion.

Luckily, today there is something to feel happy about. As I write this, gay and lesbian couples all over New York State are getting married, legally. As soon as I finish writing this post, I'm grabbing my bubbles and heading to Borough Hall to clap and cheer, at least until the heat becomes too much to bear.

Oh, and one final rant: I've just received my second pre-recorded call from ConEd, asking me to reduce my electric use so the power grid doesn't fail. Now, I've been running my air conditioner at 78°, the temperature they suggest, on the energy saver mode, so that it cycles on and off. I've been making doubly sure to turn off the lights if I'm going to be out of any given room for more than a few minutes. Meanwhile, every time I turn on the local news, there's Times Square blazing like the gaudy tribute to capitalism that it is. Now, according to this, many of those signs are LED, lower energy using lights, and hey -- that's great. But I still think that during a heat emergency, maybe NBC should be asked to turn off the giant lighted display in the NBC Experience store before regular schlubs like me are asked to read in the dark.

SAT Analogies.

Lady Gaga: Madonna as Katy Perry: Cyndi Lauper.

Discuss.

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Stressed Out Mommy.

Tino had surgery today. Nothing super major -- he had some cysts on his lip which were removed and are being biopsied. He's home now and I'm a stress bucket. He's got one of those awful e collars on, which he hates (of course). There's been some blood and I've already called the vet once, though it sounds like the amount of blood was pretty normal (normal, schmormal, it scared the fuck out of me). I can't seem to stop checking on him, though at least I've gone from following him around to checking on him every five minutes to now checking on him every 15 - 20 minutes. Tino, meanwhile, has managed to cram himself under the bed, which is where he seems to want to stay. But holy fuck am I being a worried mom. I was going to go to register myself with Central Casting tomorrow and now I'm second guessing it. I think what will likely happen is that I will go and register but then I'll immediately come back home. My poor little baby.

What comes around ...

So now that my leg is healing nicely, aaronbenedict has broken his.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

Bin Laden, New York, Stress, Etc., Etc.

This post all but makes me nauseous. Hearing the news about Bin Laden, it didn't really occur to me that now I live in the world's biggest target, and maybe just maybe some folks may have retaliation in mind. Good thing I don't live in the Jewish area ...oh, no, wait -- yes I do. Urp.
Originally posted by heeroluva at "Suspicious comments" and "Spam comments": LJ decision to 'block' spam is a big FAIL!
So I've been noticing in both my own journal and communities that I haven't been able to see some comments even thought it says there are more comments there than are actually showing up. Instead I'm getting a place holder that says (Spam comment) or (Suspicious comment).

Why are these showing up like this you may ask? In their rush to fight spam LJ has created a new filter that're AUTOMATICALLY TURNED ON in ALL journals and communities, which screens comments that are made with 'suspicious links' ie links that are not on their safe whitelist, so pretty much the majority of the internet. There is no noted way to add to the 'whitelist'.

What really gets me is that they didn't inform people that they were doing this until a week after it was done and that it was automatically turned on.

So how do I turn it off you might ask.

That's simple. Go to your Settings, click on the Privacy tab, and half way down where it says Spam Protection uncheck the box next to "Comments containing a link to a non-whitelisted domain will be marked as spam and moved to a special section." This applies to both personal journal and communities and the opinion has to be manually changed in each one.

While I understand how this could be a good idea, I think they went about it in a very backhanded way, and have implemented it poorly. There was no message to anyone that the link has been screened. It's automatically done. This went on for over a week before they said anything about it. There is still nothing in the FAQs about it even. The only way I found out about this way going through the support pages where people were reporting similar issues.

Please share this!



ETA: This link really illustrates the problems.

April 24, 1990

It's been twenty one years now. Twenty one years since the worst day of my life, the day that changed everything.

Trying to make the best out of it.

I've signed up for a sketch comedy writing class at Upright Citizen's Brigade, something you can only do in New York or LA (or Chicago or Toronto with Second City). I was in no small part motivated by reading Tina Fey's book, which pointed out to me how startlingly similar our lives' trajectories were up until a certain point (so to speak). Born in 1970, grew up in Pennsylvania, lots of theater, giant dorks. College, then Chicago. Clueless. When I was at Facets she was at Second City. And then I completely derailed myself while her career was just starting to really take off. Great plan there, hopita.

Speaking of Tina Fey, I was also going to sign up for this improv class at UCB, but then I found out that Tina Fey is scheduled to host SNL that weekend. I could do the 3:00 pm Friday class, then camp out all night, then do the 12:00 noon Saturday performance, and then try to catch a nap before coming back to 30 Rock by 10:45 pm, but something tells me that I'm going to want to at least try to see Tina Fey, which means that, at best, I'll be giving less than my all to my insanely expensive classes (at worst, it means I'll fall asleep on the subway, miss the performance, and wake up lost in Brighton Beach). So I'm going to do sketch writing, which starts the day after Tina Fey, which means that if I actually do get in to see her host SNL, I'll be super psyched and motivated to start the class. The improv class is still on my "to do" list, though, just at some later date.

As long as I'm gonna be in New York for a while, I may as well make the best of it, right? So maybe I'm never going to get asked to write for SNL. At least I'll be able to say that I studied with Upright Citizen's Brigade, which in and of itself is kind of awesome.

To Clarify One Point:

Re: This post:

I don't mind Andy Samberg getting two tickets for his parents. I didn't even mind Rita Wilson going up with a friend, as I'd heard her husband was on the show last night. Those four people were all on their way upstairs by 11:00 pm. As an added bonus, Rita Wilson was friendly and gracious to us nobodies huddled behind the ropes.

What I did mind was Alec Baldwin showing up with an elevator full of people five minutes before the show started. Though at least he was friendlier than Steve Martin, who snarked at one of the fans behind the ropes. Maybe he was just trying to be funny -- who knows. Either way, it's bad form when you're showing up with an entourage and taking seats away from people who slept out on the sidewalk all night to fucking snark at them.

And then after we're told that we're not getting in, and we're all filing out past security, the guard says to us "At least you got to see Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin." Ooh. Lucky us. We got to stand *this close* to the people who prevented us from getting in and seeing the show. It really cemented that feeling of being a peasant.

Thinking Out Loud.

Wouldn't it be cool to start a foundation encouraging non-wealthy folks to use their money for other non-wealthy folks, as opposed to handing it over to people who can't even spend what they've already got? Things like on the page opposite an ad for tickets to Charlie Sheen's Masturbatory Tour, running an ad saying "Rather than giving Charlie Sheen another $20 (and something tells me tickets were probably more than $20), why not give that same $20 to [our organization], where we will use it to help other non-billionaires to buy food, pay for medicine, etc." Of course, the first thing that would happen is that we'd get sued by Charlie Sheen's tour promoters. And if we used the money to buy medicine, we'd just be aiding in further lining the pockets of big pharma (USA! Where one in five people don't fill their prescriptions because they can't afford to!). But I still really like the idea of encouraging people to give money to each other, rather than handing more and more to the super rich.

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