Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Good TV

Well, if by good you mean alternately horrifying and depressing. I've been watching the History Channel's feature on the Tsars of Russia. We hit the Romanov high spots--Ivan, Peter, Catherine and Nicholas and conclude with the Bolshevik revolution and the beginning of Communism--I guess the idea is we all know what happened next.

The main thing I took away from the series was that no matter who was in power, the one expendable resource they all counted on was the Russian people. They seem trapped in some sort of repeating loop of history--sieze power, become tyrant. Hand rule off to inept fool by accident. Another person comes along to sieze power, become tyrant. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. But what a fascinating country and history. May have to do some reading, as the only thing I remember from 10th grade world history was the Catherine and a horse story.
Gratuitous Whining Self-Indulgent Post

Here's my week thus far:

  • Eyeball is swollen--I know not why. It doesn't hurt or itch, the lid is merely swollen and droopy. I look like I'm drunk or insane--no comments, please.

  • Evil fairies have replaced my darling boy with a whining, petulant, demanding, tantruming doppelganger who hates everything but doesn't know why. Helloooo, terrible twos three months early. He's so advanced. I'm so proud.

  • I cannot figure out how to get past the freaking Nazi tank on screen three of Medal of Honor. You would think this would be a small consideration. You would be WRONG.

  • My boss is an idiot. And not the way you're thinking. I mean he's really, actually an idiot. He overexplains the most menial tasks, and still manages to get all the details wrong, so that I spend 50% of any job going back and retracing the steps he took and then trying to extrapolate what it is that I'm supposed to do. Example? Okay. Hypothetically, let's say my boss wanted me to build a fire. The conversation would go like this:

  • Boss enters office, notices that I'm obviously EATING LUNCH, sits down (heavily) and sighs (heavily).

    Me: (irritated glance trying to pass itself off as politely quizzical) Yes?

    Boss: We have a new project. (pregnant pause)

    Me: (swallowing bite of Hummus wrap) Yes?

    Boss: Well, see, a few millenia ago, there was a thunderstorm. And lightning hit a tree, causing it to ignite. And some cavepeople came by and noticed the flaming branch and thought that it would be a good idea to take it home to warm their caves, so they did. And they figured out ways to keep the fire going, but one day it went out, so they had to try and figure out how to create the fire from scratch.

    Me: So what do I need to do?

    Boss: Well, eventually they figured out that flint was good for creating a spark, and so was rubbing sticks together, so that was good. And they came up with the myth of Prometheus to explain how we got fire--that was a good one.

    Me: Oooookay, so the new project involves fire?

    Boss: Sort of. There's this pile of sticks that came from I think a pine tree. They should be dry by now, although we did have that rainstorm last night, so they may be kind of wet.

    Me: (gritting teeth in a feral pseudo smile) You want me to build a fire?

    Boss: Well, Dr. L thinks that the department would really move ahead. I mean, it's in our compact so we should get cracking on this.

    Me: Deadline.

    Boss: Well, I don't have a firm....

    Me: Is next week okay? I can do it Tuesday morning. Is that early enough?

    Boss: It just needs to get done. Here, call Fred.

    Me: (never having heard of this Fred) Fred who?

    Boss: He's in Environmental Health and Safety.

    Me: Why am I calling Fred?

    Boss: He originated the project.

    Me: Okay.

    Boss Leaves. I search the directory for Fred, and realize that there is no employee by that name in that department. There is, however, a Frank, so I call him and discover that not only did he NOT originate the project, he has no idea what I'm talking about. After a 15 minute, embarrassing conversation, I am informed by the secretary to the department head (also NOT NAMED FRED) that the project in question is actually a bonfire to be built three months from now. So then I go check with Dr. L, who also looks at me like I'm insane and wonders why we'd be working on this so early.

    I return to my desk and take a bottle of Tylenol to dull the pain.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Neo. And I Ain't Talking Matrix, Here.

So in this whole post 911, Republican in the White House, dusting off the military and getting involved in furrin affairs world, it seems like writers and pundits are trying to define and redefine the shift in American sensibilities from "laissez-faire, hey let's hug a tree or whatever" politics to "don't make me come over there, grow the hell up and let's get moving" politics. In other words, the chattering classes can't seem to figure out why being attacked might cause some folks to re-examine their world view, so they start doing what they do best--parsing words. The latest example is the neo-con kerfluffle. What is a Neo-Con? Hell if I know. I've heard every explanation from "term that was in vogue for 15 minutes in the seventies and is being dusted off again," to "Eeeeevillllle! Pure Eeeeeeeevilllle!" So I took the liberty of consulting some friends of mine...

Me: Thank you all for coming. I had nowhere else to turn regarding the meaning of the whole "Neocon" thing.

Irony: Don't look at me.

Hyperbole: Nope, me neither, although there is some fun hysteria out there that I must modestly take credit for.

Irony: (Rolls eyes.)

Similie: It's kind of like a conservative, only new.

Irony: Thank you, Captain Latinate.

Metaphor: It's merely a mask, a cover, if you will, for the new brand of conservatism--fiscally conservative, socially pretty liberal.

Me: Not according to this chick, it's not.

Metaphor: She misunderstands the basic premise. For her, conservatism is a noxious cloud, preventing those she sees as fun-loving and morally superior from raising taxes, pooh-poohing SUV owners, and feeling smug.

Similie: Noxious cloud? More like a wet blanket.

Metaphor: But you cannot extend the wet blanket comparison as well as you can the noxious cloud. With noxious cloud you can make allusions to "piercing the veil," "drawing a breath," and other...

Me: Ooookay, let's reel that in and get back on topic, shall we?

Irony: Can I go home?

All: NO!

Me: Frankly, if I have to be here, you all do. So metaphor thinks the neo-con label is a smear?

Metaphor: A smear. Yes, yes, I could do things with smear.

Similie: Yo, metaphor. We're not writing a novel here. We're defining a term.

Hyperbole: So why didn't you, like, consult a dictionary? Helloooo! Shiny book on shelf? Lots of pretty words?

Me: It's talking about a movement that started in the 60's, and leaves me as confused as ever about WHY people are so obsessed with it now. I need my labels to be definitively defined and to make sense, dammit, not just be whatever the pundit of the day wants them to be. Look, do any of you have ANYTHING helpful to add?

Irony: It's stupid and needs to die on the vine.

Metaphor: I can get behind that.

Simile: It's like this--yeah, I guess Irony's right.

Me: Okay, so the term neo-con has been hereby banished from our collective consciousness?

All: Hear, hear!

Hyperbole: Great! Now can we talk about this Eagle stuff from Andrew Sullivan?

All: NO!