Category Archives: Entertainment

Thank God!

That’s over. Another stomach churning season with the LA Lakers. Every year I tell myself I won’t watch again, but I have been following the Lakers since Magic joined the team in 1980. That’s 30 years, that’s a long time. I don’t know now that I can break the habit.

So I watched the game last night and it was a stomach churner. Sure I am pleased the Lakers won, but I am almost as pleased that IT’S OVER, THANK GOD!

I have watched at least half the games in any given season since 1980, some seasons more, rarely less. I am not entirely a fair weather fan. I watched during the Nick Van Excel years with dumb Dell Harris striding the sidelines looking like a department store manikin. I watched when Smush Parker played point guard, and who the hell was Cedric Ceballos?

I have come to my identification with the team honestly I guess. Though I have wondered how watching a bunch of guys run up and down a patch of hardwood while bouncing a ball in front of them could have such an impact on my emotional state. Though when I start wondering about that I am usually getting pretty depressed and losing any sort of hedonic connection to anything. And that’s what the Lakers are, I guess, a connection, hedonic or otherwise, to something. To my kidhood perhaps. I loved the game. It kept me sane and out of trouble in high school. And I kept playing pickup games into my forties, but had to stop when I started getting beat up all the time.

But, thank god, it’s over.

Back in Orlando after a victory, Dwight Howard thanked God; after the game seven victory, Ron Artest thanked his psychiatrist.

That’s the Lakers.

Thank God!

Pulse 1 (Kairo) , Pulse 2

Since as part of my teaching, I am always listening for signs of the direction of the consumer society, my ears perked up when I heard mention of the exportation of anti-depressants to Japan. According to this speaker, the sale of anti-depressants in Japan is a billion dollar industry.

This was not the case even ten years ago.

The Japanese knew of something called depression.

The nation [Japan] did have a clinical diagnosis of depression – utsubyo – but it was nothing like the US version: it described an illness as devastating and as stigmatizing as schizophrenia. Worse, at least for the sales prospects of antidepressants in Japan, it was rare.

So they had depression ten years ago, but it was devastating. Further the attitude of the Japanese people towards melancholy states differed from ours:

Most other states of melancholy were not considered illnesses in Japan. Indeed, the experience of prolonged, deep sadness was often considered to be a jibyo, a personal hardship that builds character.

What a novel idea: a personal hardship building character, sadness–not as something to run away from–but something that, if endured, might make one stronger.

Clearly, not an American idea….not anymore anyway.

Which is why the Japanese version of the movie, Pulse (the original version), is better than the American version. Both are about how technology is taking over our lives; things come out of our TV sets and over our phones and drain us of our life force. Slowly people start disappearing or killing themselves for no apparent reason. That’s mostly what was going on in the American film: technophobia. It had a lot of cool special effects; people turning into piles of dust and so forth.

And while technophobia plays a part in the Japanese film, something else was going on, something in a way more horrifying than anything a special effect could convey. The characters actually talked about “death,” what it was, what it meant for human existence, and but most importantly death becomes the ultimate symbol of the isolation or aloneness of the individual. That’s ultimately what the Japanese film was about and stated directly by the characters at different points: We are each of us alone. There is no way we can communicate with each, no way we can know or really understand each other.

The Japanese film was depressing. Yes, the heroine escapes on a ship headed to nowhere. But in the final scene, she says she has found peace sitting with her best friend, who, having been stricken by the ghosts, is now no more than a shadow on the wall. She is staring at emptiness. The American version just doesn’t have that edge. Both hero and heroine escape and are heading to one those places where there is no cell phone reception.

pulse460.jpg

Lala.com

Untitled Document

The web is pretty amazing. I was clicking around randomly as they say and came across this:

:seapagecaptgure.gif

I was startled. I didn’t know my CD had any relationship to something called Lala.com. But I did pay 35 bucks to CD Baby and they said they would handle digital distribution. I guess they did. So I clicked on the Links there in that picture and listened to those four songs for the first time in a long time. Not too bad, I thought.

You can’t click on those links here because that’s a page capture.

But you can listen to the first thirty seconds of all ten songs songs on the CD if you click on the links below.

This is the web for you, spreading like a spiderweb. I guess too Lala is engaged in what people call distribution or marketing. But the web is like a giant trash dump; you’re not going to find anything unless you’re looking for it in the first place.

Still, pretty amazing. Though I haven’t made a cent on the damn CD.  Wait! Except for a few kind friends who bought the CD to make me feel good. Thank you, kind friends! 

And, in any case, what’s really going on here is that I acting as an advertiser for Lala.

 

UCSB 1 Wofford 0

I think I have frozen my ass off for the last time this year, though I don’t know about 2010. But I wasn’t as frozen since I took the precaution of wearing a pair of sweat pants under my jeans, though that made for some issues in the going to the bathroom department.

The UCSB soccer team managed to beat Wofford College one to nothing. It was a cleanly played game with very few fouls; people were not littering the field in various states of pain, as has previously been the case. And the referees called a good game. The first half was back and forth. UCSB played like it was in mud. But they came out in the second half attacking, took charge, and scored their single goal with about 10 minutes to go. That was a relief since I didn’t want to sit through an overtime.

goal.jpg

Afterward we stayed to congratulate “the guys.” Their next game is this Sunday down at the University of San Diego, a Catholic school. The guys are a little beat up and have been struggling with the sniffles. They didn’t think they had played all that well. Though clearly victory is better than the defeat.

At the end the Wofford players were lying flat on their backs utterly depleted. They had come clear across the country from Spartanburg, SC, to Southern California to play their opponent on their opponent’s home field and the lost by 1 goal.

I spoke with a Wofford professor, I believe, who was accompanying the team. I am sorry I did not get his name. He was a little aggravated–I mean they had just lost–at the way UCSB students throw tortillas (like flaccid frisbees) onto the field after the team scores a goal. I don’t like it either. For one thing it’s a waste of good food. For another, I have seen players slip on those damn tortillas. The guy sitting behind me though in the stands said it was better than what students threw at Colorado. Marshmallows–that given the conditions–were frozen like rocks.

The Wofford professor immediately recognized my Honea Path sweat shirt, and said he knew where that was since he had gone to Erskine–which does not appear, on Google Maps–very far from Honea Path. He knew where Clinton was too. I said goodbye to him and wished them all a good trip home, trying in my own way to extend a little Southern Hospitality. 

UCSB and Wofford College

Carol and I have been going to UCSB soccer games. Turns out they have a pretty good team, not that I know anything about soccer. I kept yelling “good pass” when one is supposed to yell “good ball.” Lord knows why. I am still not sure what constitutes off sides.

We have been going to the games because a number of soccer players took Carol’s dance history class.

“The guys,” as we call them, live in the condo complex next to ours. We keep bumping into them. They are interesting people. Three are from Africa and the fourth guy is from L. A. His uncle drives all the way from LA to see his nephew play every game.

So they were doing really well in league play. The finished first in their conference and were ranked 4 in the nation.

Then…last Saturday night…as I sat there freezing my ass off…well, it was a really ugly game. One of UCSB’s coaches got red carded, as did a player, because the excessively sensitive referee did not like their language.  This annoyed me since after all it was soccer contest and not a clean mouth contest. So they lost the game, the conference title and an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

I was wearing gloves, a stocking cap, with my regular cap on top of that, a t-shirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, my Honea Path sweat shirt, and a thick jacket and I was still freezing my ass off.

Looks as if I will freeze my ass off one more time. UCSB got in the NCAA tournament anyway and will be playing Wofford College, which, can you believe it, is located as far as I can tell in Spartanburg, South Carolina. And Spartanburg is not that far from Honea Path, SC, where I got my Honea Path sweat shirt.

So I think I will wear my Honea Path sweat shirt as I watch guys from Spartanburg play against guys I know who come from Africa.

Talk about your small world. 

District 9

 Went to a matinee, in a really lousy mood with a clump of anxiety in my chest, and feeling slightly sick to my stomach, but still half way through I had the same feeling with "District 9" that I had when I first saw "Tremors (1990)."

Bingo. "Instant Classic."

district9

That thing will have a prolonged after life on cable. People will just want to see it again and again, for the over all story and the little bits.

Shartol Copley turns in a masterful performance, on par, almost, with the immortal Jeffrey Combs in "Re-animator (1985)." Both play rollicking good versions of the "worm turns." Combs throughout "Re-animator" reacts to the gore and mayhem he produces like a man utterly consumed with the thought that he might at any moment die of constipation.

Combs is doing a one-person show now as Edgar Allen Poe. Seems like a good fit. The show concludes with a recitation of "The Raven." I can just see Combs banging his head on the floor and screaming that last "Nevermore!" 

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!
 
vertical spacereanimator

Those Lakers Again!

My meandering disquisition (previous entry) on the practice of missing was part of my attempt as I was taking my afternoon walk to puzzle through the question: What is Wrong With the LA Lakers? I probably should have been thinking about: What is Wrong with the Economy. But that’s just too depressing and frankly I am clueless. So thinking about the Lakers is a less depressing option, if one must think about something, though in its own way depressing.

I have been watching that damn team for almost 30 years. That means I have made an emotional investment, and I have wished lately that I had not done so. Much like the stock market, the Lakers lately have seem to full of inexplicable ups and downs.

My aggravation coalesced when listening to the TNT basketball show with Ernie Johnson, Kenny "The Jet," and Charles "Chuck" Barkley. They were discussing, in light of the Laker’s recent performance, whether the Lakers had what it took to win the championship. They were far from sure about that, and then Barkley, rather out of nowhere, said, in effect that even if they did win the whole thing, they didn’t deserve to win.

The whole conversation for a basketball show then got weirdly serious. What the hell did Barkley mean? Surely, if you win the championship you deserve it. But no, Barkley said, the Lakers, he said, did not deserve it if they did win because they "did not respect the league." Now, what the hell did that mean?

Then Barkley got a bit more personal–some sort of psychological issue was involved for him. He never was on a team that won the championship, and he said he had never had the opportunity to play with players as good as Pau Gasol, or Andrew Bynum, or even Lamar Odem (all on the current Laker team), and it just pissed him off to see them playing so half-assed. He pounded the desk, as I recollect, and seemed almost to be growling. The others–EJ, "The Jet", and C. Webb (Chris Webber)–didn’t seem to get it either, or at least not enough to say whether they agreed or disagreed, although they did allow that something seemed amiss with a team that felt it could turn it on or off at will.

Here I was, at that time, feeling all messed up about my identification with the Lakers, and there was Chuck too involved in some sort of complex psychological relation to a team that awakened in him a sense of loss at never even had the opportunity to play as the Lakers might play were they ever actually to apply themselves.

In any case, that’s the Lakers for you.

Or, more precisely, that’s Kobe because he is the heart of the matter, and right behind him at the heart, is that strange fellow, Phil Jackson, sitting there in his elevated chair (that he needs for his back problem) looking like a wan and decaying Buddha

Sea of Love Tax Deduction

Tax season is closing in. I was happy to learn in that regard that I may be able to claim a deduction for the money I put into making my CD, "Sea of Love." Apparently, I am now an entrepreneur or business person, something I thought I would never be.

This arises simply from the fact that I have put the CD up for sale. For the tax break to work, I have to make a good faith and documented effort to sell product. And that I have done. "CD Baby" was a break through in the merchandising area. For a mere $35 they house hard copies of the CD and send them out for me. And they distribute the CD through the digital network. At present "Sea of Love" appears on the following sites:

Amazon
Ruckus
Napster
Rhapsody
Tradebit
iTunes
Inprodicon
PayPlay
Lala
GreatIndieMusic
Groupie Tunes

I have a page also on GarageBand and of course my own site at BandCamp, made by Sean McCue.

Because two old friends bought three copies of "Sea," I will not be able to claim a total loss on my investment (venture capital, as it were); still having sold something should serve to document my status as a true entrepreneur.

One person I spoke with said artist type people take this sort of deduction all the time and sometimes for years. As long as they get their stuff out there and try to sell at least, they can claim deductions for supplies even though they don’t sell anything.

Safety Patrol

I didn’t know Brother Dave had done it, but I knew Brother Steve and Brother Dan had.  So it turns outs we were all of us at one time or another operatives in the Casa De Ora Elementary Safety Patrol.  That meant, when we were in sixth grade, that we all left class a few minutes early and went to the Safety Patrol Room to don our red Safety Patrol Sweaters.  I think we had red Safety Patrol hats, of the kind used in the military, those useless things that cover a small portion of the head and can be folded up and put in the pocket.

Because I was the Sergeant of my Safety Patrol I got to walk in front of my two privates.  I carried a pole that was painted red and white, and I got to wear a whistle too.  I can’t remember if we had individual whistles or shared the same one.  My two privates carried poles about seven feet long or so with a metal sign attached to the end with the word “stop” written on it.  The poles couldn’t have been very long because we who carried them were not very large.  Kids in sixth grade back then topped out round five feet, five inches, not like those monsters you see now in 6th grade.  Hell I would go so far as to say we were “tykes.”  Not tiny tykes, but tykes none the less.

Then we walked down the hill from the elementary school on Aqua Dulce—I think it was—till it ran perpendicular into Campo Road.  On the other side of Campo, Aqua Dulce became Sweetwater Road (don’t ask me why); and there was a cross walk there painted on Campo Road to help children navigate from Aqua Dulce (which means Sweetwater) over to Sweetwater.

Campo Road, an old rural two lane job, was the primary artery through the area from San Diego on out to the desert.  Right before Sweetwater there was a pretty sharp jog in the road.  If you were standing on the Aqua Dulce side of Sweetwater by the Campo cross walk you couldn’t see past that jog in the road maybe 75 yards away to tell whether a car was coming.  Thus the Safety Patrol.

I would send one of my minions to that spot 75 yards away and he through a variety of intricate arm signals would indicate whether a car was coming.  I sent the other minion just off to my left about 50 feet. When the kids arrived and wanted to cross, my minion off by the jog in the road would indicate when a car was coming, and if a car wasn’t coming, I would blow my whistle—once I think—and my minions would stretch out their signs across the road or at least into it with the stop part of the sign pointed in the direction that cars might come from.  Then I would walk the tykes out into the crosswalk.  I would stand in the middle of the road until they cleared the cross walk and then I would blow my whistle twice and my minions would withdraw their signs.

I stood there keeping kids from the cross walk till I said so many, many times, and I don’t remember one rebellion or one kid just taking off.  Apparently my red Safety Patrol Outfit endowed me with great authority. Or perhaps they were afraid I might beat on them with my red and white pole which was clearly intended as a crowd control device.  I was not much of a Sergeant actually; my minions screwed around with their signs, occasionally jousting with them, or just dragging them along on the blacktop when they were supposed to carry them under their arms.  But when we got in eye shot of the school, I would say, OK, cut it out, and my minions would.

One day Brother Dave was the cross walk sergeant in charge and just as he whistled once to lower the signs and kids started to cross, he looked to see his minion at the critical jog in the road had abandoned his post and fled down the embankment having been attacked by a band of bees.  Consequently Brother Dave, as he tells it, had to put his life on the line and step out into the road making a car stop with only his trusty pole. 

But that was 40 years ago.  The jog in Campo Road is no longer there, wiped out by improvements and road widenings.  And Campo Road no longer has pride of place, having been replaced by a freeway. I would doubt there’s a safety patrol anymore at least at that intersection.  And kids don’t walk to school anymore anyway.  I wonder if insurers would even allow tykes to command the highway these days.

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Brother Steve made it to Tucson last night and at this time should be in New Mexico…. 

Name That Moon

I watched “In the Shadow of the Moon,” about the USA’s moon missions from 1969-72.  I was unmoved.  But then I was alive when the thing happened.  I waited three damn days to see if those guys were going to make it to the moon.  Maybe that’s why, but the movie just didn’t grip me.  All the time—it had interviews—I kept wondering where the hell was Neil Armstrong?  He didn’t show up in the film at all.

And then I got to wondering, as I watched, why the moon didn’t have a real, proper name.  Moon, yes, it’s a proper Noun but not a proper Name.  Other planets have “moons” too.  In my opinion our moon—just because it is our moon—should have a real name like the planets do.  Now Mars!  That’s a real name.  But moon is like generic corn flakes.  Sure we call it “the” moon to show that it belongs to us on earth.

But I think it deserves its own name.  We should hold a “name that moon” contest.  Personally, I prefer “Bob.”  I don’t know why I like Bob so much, possibly because Bob is not just a name but also a Verb, as in “Bob bobbed for apples.”  I guess I like names that are Verbs too because I am narcissistic, as in “Nick nicked himself with a knife.” Or “Nick nicked a knife”—nicked in this context being Brit for swiped.

So when we had a full moon we would call it a Full Bob and the Harvest Moon would be Harvest Bob.  And people would no longer moon each other; they would bob each other. 

And Kennedy could have said, “I propose that we land a man on Bob by the end of this decade.” 

Ok; so this is a lame idea.  Landing a man on Bob just doesn’t sound that heroic; and honestly who would want to be the first man to set foot on Bob.

And also as if this writing 1230 PT July 29 Brother Steve is well on his way to Tucson, Arizona…the first leg of his trip back to SC.