Friday, December 28, 2012

A Kiss Is Still A Kiss

Think about what society has made out of the kiss. It's something that happens so naturally, is so beautiful, and yet we toss it around, several times in one night for the frivolity and feel of it. The actual purpose of a kiss has been lost by many, and I too have fallen. For a long time, I just wanted physical affection and I ached for someone else's touch. It hurt that I wasn't being held! I wondered if there was something in me that was too unlovable for this world.

But someone invented the kiss, and they knew how it would impact the earth. William Goldman, the writer of the Princess Bride (book), understood the kiss in true depth and showed it through wonderful writing. The problem with this world is that The Princess Bride hasn't permeated society the way it should have. So there are people that go through this life without the full realization of a kiss's purpose, because they must rely on this corrupted society to tell them what kisses are.

It's a little difficult to swim your way out of the mainstream, much less stay afloat. I'm not entirely sure who it was that threw me a lifesaver, and, assuredly, I'm grateful to them. But I'm a little preoccupied with watching the muddy river and wondering how I can save them. It occurs to me to use the dying art of literature, but the sad fact is that few people read an actual page these days, so my only alternative is to use that glaring screen to my benefit. So I'm going to try and write a sensible sort of statement, detailing the way I feel about kisses.

I've had a lot of time to think about what a kiss means. The kind of things you express when you give someone a peck. The kinds of things you're saying when a kiss on the cheek somehow becomes more steamy than was originally planned. I love how you can tell what a man thinks of you by the way he kisses you as well. There are those kisses where you don't say anything and the two of you sort of... lean in to it together and meet up halfway. I like it when he asks for permission.

But a kiss is far more than just something to be enjoyed. It's the single most effective way to communicate to someone how you feel. Other than hitting... And there you have two opposite ends of the spectrum. As far as "brutality" is concerned, a smack can range from a playful "love tap" to defending your honor to disrespecting someone. A kiss, however, is fairly straightforward. It's a sign of attraction. At least it should be. The world is the ultimate, all-time, highest level, grand master of corrupting original purposes. Shakespeare has reminded us that "the Devil can cite scripture for his own purposes," and I think everybody's caught onto that and applied it to their lives.

To me, a kiss is the highest form of respect any person can give to the opposite gender. I don't kiss someone unless I respect them entirely. That's why I can get excited about kissing/being kissed because I treat it better than the rest of my high school classmates and a few of my college associates. To me, a kiss allows me to be close to someone. I willingly let myself be vulnerable to them, so it's a sign of trust. As anyone close to me will know, I have the tendency to get myself hurt. I made mistakes in deciding to trust people, so to the battle-scarred and worn Hannah, trust is sort of a big thing.

Maybe I would be happier if kisses didn't mean such a big deal to me. Maybe if things were all nice and  consistently non-commital, I wouldn't get my hopes up and subsequently hurt all the time. Or maybe I can hold on to the one shred of decency I can find in this world. When you realize that things are only as special as the worth we give  to it, then you can bring importance and purity back into an otherwise messy and undignified world.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

If Ann Rice Knew What She Started...

Hi there. So, I've decided that analyzing literature is my life calling, so I'm creating a blog specifically for those intents and purposes. It's called "The Literature Grill" and I'm transferring this incredibly popular post over to that. Please be sure to check there for more literature hate, soon to follow!! At the end of a couple months, I'll be taking this post down (which will make me sad because LOOK AT THE VIEWS!) but it will be for the benefit of all.


From the second you meet Bella, she's being a martyr. In fact, all the way through the first couple of chapter, she's a pale, whiny martyr, that for some reason is incredibly (oddly) intriguing to the male population. This is reaffirmed by the way Bella reacts to Edward's behavior throughout the series. When he leaves her, she falls into a disabling depression that could have easily been remedied by writing a horrible, emo poem in her journal and then getting over herself. And Edward... but mostly herself. So, maybe Meyers wanted to convey just how deeply Bella felt? By describing how hollow she feels?... FOR FOUR MONTHS?! Isn't that just the LEAST bit excessive? This is how we know that Bella is NOT a strong female protagonist.

Well, Bella soon discovers that she imagines Edward every time she's in mortal peril. Does this make it the plan to place herself in danger all the time? If she truly loved Edward, then she would have valued the way he treated her life (which, admittedly, he didn't do so well BUT for the sake of argument, we'll say he truly loved her.) Point is, she wouldn't have been so childish. Definitely wouldn't have been childish enough to use her "friend" Jacob like a tool while playing on his emotions for her. Let me ask you guys something, is that appealing in a woman? Because if it is, I now know why I don't get too many dates nowadays. She pays little attention to her friends and, in the end, hurts them in emotionally cruel ways.

Bella isn't a strong female protagonist for another reason: she refuses to be herself. The entire series, she's begging Edward to "change her." If there's one thing I learned from High School (Musical) is that it's "Be an Individual." Nothing but pain comes from changing who you are physically or metaphorically. What I expect from a strong character is someone who is confident in who she is. Anyone that chooses Bella Swan as a role model must be some sort of crowd-pleasing sycophant. Harsh? What Bella could use is some tough love because she refuses to move on from her emotionally abusive boyfriend. That sounds like Abused Woman Syndrome. Can I get a psychologist to back me up on that diagnosis? In sum: Bella is the most selfish, immature and childish character EVER. More than Voldemort. More than Sauron. More than Senator Palpatine. Because at least Voldemort magicked Peter Pettigrew another hand when he cut it off for his Dark Lord. THAT'S how you keep your friends, you trampire!


Because at least Hamlet had the good sense to tell Ophelia to "get [herself] to a nunnery!" (And that came from the same guy that stabbed her father through a curtain.) Edward can't even do that, he just passively tells Bella that he's no good for her, the subtext here being "I will crush your skull and drink your blood from a sippy cup." But he's too selfish to actually think about her safety, until, you know, "it's too late" and he makes her a target for a powerful, vampire mafia. Not only does he put her in danger constantly, but when the time comes to save her, he's to weak to do it. If Meg can risk being crushed by a pillar to save her boyfriend (Hercules) AND if Hercules can risk drowning forever in a river of death, I think it's perfectly acceptable to expect some self-sacrifice on Edward's part. Even as he attempts to save her, he's too weak to stop gulping her blood. What a weirdo.

Speaking of being a weirdo, has anyone head/read his internal monologue when he and Bella meet? (in Midnight Sun, the book of Twilight told from Edward's view) He meticulously plans out how to kill an entire classroom of students. The only people that think of that are the writers for Saw and comic book villains. Wait, why was Edward committing 3rd degree murder in his mind? To tear into Bella and fill that sippy cup with her life blood. Which brings me to my next point, are we ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that Edward ACTUALLY loves Bella? Or is it just an incredibly sick and twisted fascination? All couples have their nicknames and whatnot, but I'm not so sure that being referred to as a dangerous drug is healthy for relationships. Actually, I'm positive. You want to know WHY it's not real love? Because their intimacy is based off of pure hormones.

Ah. Listen to the screams of pre-teens. How they shriek out in vague and indecipherable arguments.

They tell me I am misunderstood, that they are in love! Oh really...? How many pre-teens do you know that have a complete perception of love? Actual love, I mean. Look, I know college kids incapable of a love to withstand the storms of artistic differences much less pre-teens. ARGUMENT INVALID.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that, despite all of Edward's "warnings" and whinings, he doesn't consider changing himself to become better. He just goes on, complaining about how he's going to Hell and then just sits there and does nothing. Not a thing for his damned soul. He's just as passive as Bella. So maybe they are meant to be together... Well, one thing's for sure, and that's how much Edward wants Bella to be HIS and ONLY HIS. Because he alienates her from her friends and family. At the end of the series, it's just Bella and the Cullens, having sex and monstrous birthing sequences that scar me for life. But just before Bella's turned into a vampire, Edward has this thing where he just LOVES to remind Bella how fragile and human she is, that he could kill her at any second... I'm gonna go ahead and let that be the last creepy habit of Edward's that I talk about and I'm not gonna mention the whole "coming into her room at night, regardless of her father's parental rules."

Not sorry.


Well, now that I've revealed the two main characters for what they really are, let's move on to the story! As I've already mentioned in this here rant, Stephanie Meyers is really good at writing in the way that candy is really good for your teeth. It tastes good, you can eat it all day long (they have a Holiday for that now) but when you go to the dentist, he'll tell you that you've been eating empty calories that give you cavities. And that's pretty much what the Twilight series is: empty calories. It is literally a story about an abusive relationship that culminates in the complete moral degeneration of the main character. Nobody would read that if they knew that was what is what about. These days, I'm not sure what constitutes a good book, but as far as I'm concerned, if your character is degrading, it must make a poignant effect on the reader and not make for a dissatisfying and hollow character.

As I also said before in the aforementioned rant (the link to which is up there in the beginning of that paragraph) I was watching a flame war on the internet and someone perfectly summed up Bella's character. He went through the series and pointed out that Bella changes into a monster, is cut off from her true family and friends, and has degenerated from her "more pure state." If Bella was meant to be a heroine of the story and a role model to girls the world over, then Meyers has failed to do her job. And this is Meyers's first flaw in the book is that her female protagonist has too much moral degradation too be a strong, inspiring character. She could have gotten away with too, if it weren't for that meddling story line.

See, having a character that self-destructs isn't uncommon and it's rather fun to write mental breakdowns if I do say so myself. Anna Karenina, Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, they're all great books with the poignancy needed to drive home that message of the destruction caused by human error. But Twilight can't even hope for the fiber and strength to carry the weight of an anti-hero because it's a YOUNG ADULT VAMPIRE "ROMANCE" NOVEL. The story's theme is about how important it is to have a boyfriend at whatever costs. The premise and general summary of the main character is enough to create a very depressing but passable book. Instead, Meyers does what she does best and writes worthless fluff.

The motifs of an eternal love or ineffectual, because they're centered around an abusive relationship. Even though Twilight isn't as graphic as its devil spawn, 50 Shades of Grey, it still carries the motifs of sadism and masochism. Not necessarily in a sexual way, but on a social level. The worst offense (as far as motifs go) is the fact that Meyers used VAMPIRES. VAMPIRES. Ever since Ann Rice, people stopped fearing these blood-sucking parasites and started to sympathize with them. And by sympathize, I mean romanticize and sexualize. That's the final strike against the Twilight series. If you take out that pithy vampirism stuff, you get a girl who, albeit a whiny martyr, was a good and nondescript girl. She got into a horrible relationship that she couldn't escape and was ultimately forced into marriage by an intimidating family that spawned an insensitive, abusive creeper. She was then impregnated, and gave birth under horrible circumstances that almost killed her. In the books, Bella actually dies. But is "brought back to life" by, literally, POISON that is injected directly into her heart. When she wakes up, she's not the Bella at the beginning, she's a monster and void of humanity. That there is pretty powerful when you say it bluntly.

Stephanie Meyers is no "god of writing," as she calls herself. Unless, of course, she meant to write about the moral degeneration of a simple girl and veiled this through stuffy and unhealthy "romance" and that vampire crap. If that was her intention from the beginning, then I'm sending her a postcard with my deepest apologies for underestimating her power. I just don't think it's within her brain to come up with something as worthwhile and deep as a modern version of Anna Karenina.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Act Well Thy Part

I can see why you might think that this blog's theme is love and theatre. It's just something that is incredibly relevant in my life and a lot of self-realizations come from it. I suppose as soon as show season is over, I'll go back to the other part in my life.


The latest theatrical realization is actually pretty darn important and it's a shock that I haven't come to it when I started theatre because it's sort of important when you start theatre that you know why you're doing theatre.

At the beginning, I was always interested in theatre. I was taken to shows as a child and had the soundtracks for a dozen classic shows. Even though this was the world I was born into, I'm really not sure what drove me to pursue the theatrical life. It was just a joy for me to perform and the more comfortable I was on stage, the more I was able to do. I fell completely in passion with every aspect of theatre and even though she's a struggling mistress, she does me well. We just have a chemistry together. But there was never a personal or heartfelt reason or purpose.

I've asked many of my actor friends why they continue in theatre. Most of them say it's simply for pleasure or fascination. But there was one actor I met that impressed me with his reasons. He told me that he doesn't perform for himself.

'Well, obviously, " I said. "You don't dance in front of a mirror, that's not theatre."

"No, I mean, I don't perform for selfish reasons. I perform to give my gifts to other people. It's for them."

Up to that point, I had believed that theatre was MY moment. I shined, I danced, I sang, it was the time that I could ask the audience to look at me and they would. For a long time, that was my internal monologue every time I danced. I would think "LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME" until the energy and ferocity shone out of my eyes and gave me, what I believed to be "star quality." I'm ashamed to admit it, but that really was why I did theatre. I wanted to be loved and admired and looked at. So the idea that performing was a selfless act was a very new idea to me.

But I liked it. I saw the difference between those actors that wanted the focus to be on them and the actors that just wanted to make someone laugh or smile. It inspired me into the actor and writer that I am today. I desired a greater purpose for myself, a bigger reason to be on stage than to just be looked at. For once, being a pretty thing no longer satisfied me.

This principle has been working well for me for a couple years, but it still hadn't hit that "home run" in my pathos. I hoped that my work touched those I came into contact with, but nothing had been affirmed. Until several days ago.

One of the shows I'm working on right now is a children's theatre piece called "Clever Jack and the Pirates." It's a simple, sweet show, meant for nothing more than to make children laugh. For those of you that don't know, an audience full of children is probably one of the most gratifying feelings in this world. They let you know EXACTLY what they think of you and if you're doing what you're supposed to do, they'll fill the theatre with their laughter. Well, as I'm sure you could guess from my build-up, my purpose came from a child after one of these shows. Friday's show to be exact.

After the show, the cast members have the chance to wander into the audience, interacting with the kids, answering questions, having fun, giving high fives, all manner of fun. One small boy in particular came up to me and another one of my fellow cast members. He told us (and I quote) "you guys memorized your lines really well and you were magnificent." I could tell that he was a special needs kid, which automatically brought him closer in my heart. His teacher waved him on to go with the rest of the class as they were boarding the bus, but she stayed behind to tell us more. She thanked us for our work and then told us the story of that little boy.

Apparently, he had a little panic attack when he got into the theatre. He didn't want them to turn off the lights and was incredibly scared for the moment when we would. His teacher pinned him to his chair and promised him that it would get better. And from the moment the show started, he drew out of his panic attack shell. He smiled, laughed, we made him feel better and he wasn't scared anymore.

As a cast, as a production, we changed this little boy's perception of theatre but most importantly, we made him happy.


That is why I'm in theatre. While I harbor a love for drama and intensity, while my favorite thing to do is kill off the most likable character (that's called pulling a Joss Whedon) if there's one thing I love, it's making people laugh.

Now, I've heard actors say some of the most beautiful prayers. From pleading with God for energy and focus to praying for protection for a specific cast member who had a scary stunt, actors really know how to ask an all-powerful entity for what they need. Not what they want, but what they know that they need. My best lines have been said backstage in the quiet moments when I've asked a kind and loving Heavenly Father to take away that pit in my stomach. But the best way to sum up how I feel collectively for my job as a performer and the roles and duties that go with it, is in the prayer of one of my cast mates. He bowed his head reverently, the entire cast in a circle.

"I guess what I'm asking for God... is to help us forget ourselves." he said.

I work with the most selfless people on this earth. They're constantly giving and giving of themselves with little return. They wake up early, stay up late, risk a lot, and we never know what the audience left with, what they thought. Sometimes they'll send us letters of offense (assuming that we care for their small-minded opinions). But most of the time, we judge what they thought of us based on their laughter throughout the night. There's only one reason why I continue to suffer through the pain, soreness, stress and occasional good times and laughter and it's of no benefit to myself. There's only one reason why my fellow actors put themselves through a lemonade diet so that they know what it's like to be hungry for character research and development. It doesn't do us any good, whatsoever.

Whether we act to teach or to entertain or to just see someone smile, the theatre was and never will be for the self-centred people of this world.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Story Time: Benson Diaries Episodes 1-5

Benson is my technical theatre professor. He's a very smart man and VERY good at what he does, but more than that, he's an EXTREMELY funny man. I've taken the liberty of making a few notes, and I've compiled some stories that are too short to be individual blog posts themselves. But with their magics combined, they make for such delightful vignettes. Without further ado, I present, The Benson Diaries, Episodes 1 through 5.

Today, Benson did the “as;lksdnf;jdn;fjA;SFJB;dogub;dojgb;sdjbg;ajfbg;a” to my keyboard. Then walked away laughing maniacally. He says “I grew up once, but I didn’t like it. So I went back.” He’ll be doing this sort of thing well into his 70’s. His wife must be so patient. 

Benson’s wife gave him a cane-sword; you know, where the cane is the sheath, hiding a slim blade? Kind of like Watson’s in the RDJ Sherlock Holmes. Well, he chased Chloe Myers up the stairs in the Snow building, brandishing his cane, yelling “GET BACK HERE.” All for a mother duck and her ducklings. In his defense, they were very fluffy. 

Benson’s a “bad man.” He has a skull ring. To demonstrate his level of hardcore-cery, he burst through the Black Box theatre doors, sunglasses, purple shirt and a tie rather reminiscent of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” He sauntered towards me and Chloe Myers, then threw-tipped over a chair. He looked at our mirthfully twitching bodies, then proceeded to kick over some safety cones a la Jackie Chan style. A flurry of karate kicks and the caution tape was wasted. 

“I’m a bad man.” he said. 

In New York, Mormons have the occupational hazard of getting asked silly questions. Benson’s aware of this. His favorite thing to do is make the people that ask him foolish questions feel silly. When they ask him “how many wives do YOU have?” Benson would reply “One...” then look at the questioner’s wife or daughter and say “But I’m always looking for more!!” Lesson learned: don’t gaud Benson into these kinds of tussles and fights. 
“Because... I will always win.” said he, as he threw a pencil at the ceiling. 

It stuck. 

“Sleep deprivation is for everybody.” says Benson after a long night of programing light cues. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Story Time: I Almost Died Today; Again

I fell off a tall stage platform today. 

Short Story Longer: For the curtain call on my show, the actors come from backstage out the the front three platforms (we're in a black box theatre). From where I finished the show (because I do finish the show) I'm on the top platform on one end of the stage. (this would be so much easier if I had a picture to show you). There are about 4 steps down to the next platform. Getting down isn't so much the problem, but I have to get back up the stairs after I bow in pitch darkness. 

Now. The way the platform/stairs were built, there's about a square 1/2 foot to the side of just nothing. If you can't see the stairs and follow them, you can easily fall off as there are no guard rails/ 

DO you see where I'm going with this? 

So, I miss the step. My toes had found the platform but my heels hadn't. When I put my weight on my foot, I fell through the nothingness. Somehow, I managed to catch myself on the ledge as I was falling. Didn't break anything, but when I hit the floor, my knees gave out from adrenaline so I really was clinging to the edge of the stage by my fingertips. 

I fell during the blackout, so all people heard was a thud and my two co-actors yelling my name. The lights come back up and I'm hanging onto the ledge, practically swinging, yelling "I'M ALIVE! I'M ALIVE!" 
The director and stage manager ran over to me and were like "youokayyouokayyouokay" and I was like "yeah dudes, I'm fine. Fallen from a lot worse, you know? I'm good." And I felt really cool cuz I thought people cared about me. 

Turns out that they were just really freaking out about the potential accident form that they would have to fill out if I had twisted something. Thanks, guys. I feel cared for. 

The best part is... I barely remember it. Because I fell during a pitch blackout, I can't remember anything but the feeling of falling and even that is fading away by the minute. The worst part of it was that I have no scars or anything. Just some bruises, a scrape here and there, and some soreness in my legs. 


Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Theatre Department Heathens

Brigham Young University-Idaho is a college full of orthodox Mormons in a small bubble known as Rexburg, Idaho. The theatre department of BYU-I is a collection of people from every location and we stand out from everyone else in the bubble. It is not our habitual late nights and stereotypical loud-mouths and energy that sets us apart. It's the way we treat the world around us. It's the way we feel about politics, art, literature, all the humanities. I'm not saying we're all crazy liberals-- most of us are Republicans! What I'm trying to say is that we, as a department, offend some of our patrons.

I don't want to be "ungrateful" for our unalienable right to freedom of speech, but I think that there are those who take it for granted. Or they use it far too much at the grievance or annoyance of others. I'm a self-proclaimed heartless she-demon, so I don't mind saying this... But I think that these people actually believe that we want to hear what they're saying. There are few people in this world that I will listen to, much less inquire after their opinion. For instance, I don't much care for the opinions of those who pay to come to shows and then send the theatre department Letters of Offense. We have a lot of enraging stories, here in the 'Burg... Many of which are infamous.

There's the one about a play that featured murder and rape. There was also a scene in which the protagonist drank coffee for breakfast. The letter of offense that we got for that was that this certain audience member was appalled that we would have coffee references in our show.

Not outrageous enough? Well once, we decided to do The Scottish Play. And because it's Macbeth (DEVIL BEGONE) everything went wrong. People were injured, sure. Believe you me, those injury stories are worthy to be saved for another blog post. But among everything else, audience reaction went... Well, wrong. For those of you new to literature, Macbeth (DEVIL BEGONE) is a play about murder and mayhem and ghosties and women that wish they were men so that they could have metaphorical cahones. Well, when you say it with THAT attitude, it's no wonder someone was offended by such devilry. Yes, somebody was offended by the murder. In a Shakespeare show.

Theatre is-- as all art should be-- a representation of life. Sometimes, plays and musicals are set in a different world, a different place. Sometimes it's too fantastic to be anything normal. But underneath those gaudy costumes and high kicks lies the fundamentals of human nature. Tragedies and dramas are even classified by the way they treat universal truths (no really, it's in the books.)

So then, If theatre represents life, why shouldn't some plays be hard to deal with? Now there's a difference between being intentionally raunchy and crude and simply displaying those harsh facts of life. I can spot the difference because, when you think about it, it's not that hard.

What makes me so sad is when people are so caught up in their piety that they can't take a representation of life on the stage.

I did Drowsy Chaperone a year ago and there's a wonderful "rousing anthem" that takes alcoholism and likens it to the stumbling that we do in order to get through life. When you listen, it's more than funny words put to bright and beautiful melodies. It's the truth: we stumble along on life's crazy journey.

Well some people can't handle that. Some people only see the alcoholic references and that's that. They walk away so appalled that a bunch of college kids are "praising" the act of drinking booze that they can't even see the inspirational message. Endurance, right? That's a thing we preach in our Christian religion. That's something in our manuals. Something in our scriptures...

So when I say that "the show I'm working on will get more letters of offense than Santa has Christmas wishlists," it's because I know people will be blinded by the fact that our production uses the words "lesbians" and "dammit" that they won't see why we've got them in there.

Our directors are pretty in tune to possible uproar from the audience because we've had this problem for a while. Sometimes, they'll even change a word. But the intentions are always there-- because they should be.

I've been writing this while sitting on the floor of our Black Box Theatre, where the play, "Bielzy and Godfried" will be performed in about a month. I'm currently watch the actor playing Bielzy (the devil character) talk to the director about how to portray a line that's significant to the play, significant to life and manages to break the fourth wall in a very intimate way. The line says "You might see things that might shock you, amuse you... And we want to know. Your response says a lot about you."

The director pulled the actor aside.

"This line might be more important than any other in the whole show and this is a collection of morality plays," says my director. "It's said right to them and, if you do it right, it'll make them think. You HAVE to make them think! Once, we were doing a Standish play. We got letters of offense because people were so furious that 'the Lord's University' would DARE do a play written by a homosexual. And they completely missed the purpose of the show. Make them think, Dave. Make. Them. Think!"

He pounded the stage, punctuating the plea of all of us that "dare" do an "offensive" show.

Are you people the same kind of people that believe the Venus di Milo is porn? Are you the same people that think Picasso's Battle of Guernica is too violent to belong in any museum? Are you the same people that complained about Modern Family's use of "profanity" in the episode Little Bo Bleep? Then you're probably the same people who shouldn't be reading my blog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Story Time; Come At Me, Bro

I don't think my truck's rear windows are so darkly tinted that the outside can't see into the interior of the car. I learned this in the worst possible way.

Back a while, I was taking a couple of friends and my brother to a party up in a ranch (of rich Santa Barbara residents). To get to the ranch resident (of a particular Santa Barbara native), I had to merge from an on-ramp onto a bridge and then I'd go up a pass into the ranch (of wealthy Santa Barbara denizens).

First of all, I hate merging. If I'm so pressed to actually MERGE, I will be so careful. SO meticulous, I get a crick in my neck from the millions of times I check to make sure I can get into the next lane. After making sure I was clear, I got into the next lane.

Now, the car in front of me must've been having some problems. Because it didn't actually go with the regular traffic. The driver was probably a fan of "going at their own pace." You can do that in life, but the road isn't the best place to implement what you learned at your stress-management seminar. Naturally, I was a bit peeved, but I can get over myself. Oh, that there were more people that could just let things roll off their backs. I wish that there were more people like that on the road.

The guy behind me could not take that. No. Everyone must go at his pace. And because I wasn't willing to rear-end the guy in front of me, he honked at me. This startled me and I expressed my displeasure for the entire cabin to hear.

"What's that guy's problem? Come on!" I said, having been so irked.

All was clear-- so I get onto the pass and I start the road to get up into the ranch (of moneyed Santa Barbara townsfolk). And then, I see this grey-as-a-blob Jeep Cherokee zoom up to my far fancier bright red Ford F-150 5.4 Triton (his name is Chanteclier). I look over to see this troubled driver start giving me the bird and giving me all manner of glares and evil eyes. I wasn't gonna deal with that, so I engaged in some old-fashioned street-racing up the road and cut him off. He turned off before we could get into the lush greenery (of the ranch where flush Santa Barbara live).

I start commenting (rather loudly) at how incredibly rude and unnecessary this all was for my passengers to hear. Silence commenced for a bit and we listened to the radio. When suddenly, from out of the blue, a small voice was heard.

"Hey, are your back windows tinted really dark?" asked my brother.

"Notice how the sun has a hard time of getting through." I replied, not exactly in the mood for shallow conversation.

"No, like really dark. Like, so dark, that people standing outside the car can't see inside."

"Um… I'm not sure." I hadn't researched my car as thoroughly as I had thought.


We got to the home (of the monetarily-endowed Hope Ranch homeowner) and my brother pulled me aside.

"I think I know why that driver was so mad at you."

A look of slight suspicion crossed my face.

"Enzo. Why was that guy so mad at me."

"I… well… I… I sort of did that… 'Come At Me Bro' thing. You know. After he honked."

I guess we learned the hard way that my windows aren't tinted dark enough for the outsiders to see in.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

[censored]; The Meaning of Pinterest and a Vulgar Childhood

There's been a lot of excess angst recently over censorship and privacy in my recent Facebook news feed and I chose to stay out of most of this. But yesterday was the day when the very last two drops of water made the dam burst, releasing the tsunami and giving birth to my first rant in a year;  Modern Family and Pinterest.

At first, I didn't really understand the SOPA or PIPA bills. And I didn't think I'd have to worry about it. Until I logged onto Pinterest and found out that SOPA would result in the "foreclosure" of my most beloved website. I can't bear to loose Pinterest. I've sorted everything I ever want to own, become, and style on that website into specific little boards where I can click on the link and get amazing recipes for Enchilada Pasta and Crock Pot soups. If I lost that website, my future would be full of home style magazine cut-outs and interior designer expenses or white.

Just…. White. Everywhere.

I'd also loose my credibility among peers as a good cook and pastry chef. Like any magician, a chef will have her secrets. My intense secrecy is based off that constant, Mormon sub-culture popularity competition among housewives, neighbors and extended, marriage-rooted family. And if I didn't have Pinterest, I'd be stuck with Betty Crocker, and I can't afford to get fat on her decadent Banana Cream pie. Point is, Pinterest is the only way I can be a successful, respected housewife. A nice home and great food pretty much equates respect.

Imagine Superman without Louis Lane. Imagine Batman without his mass (and oddly regenerating) wealth. Imagine Frank Sinatra without his voice. There are some things that go together better than PB and J-- and nothing should separate that bond. A powerhouse and her source of strength should be respected. So get your grimy, government nose out of my personal affairs!

So some people feel that SOPA/PIPA isn't so much a crack-down on internet piracy as it is a censorship act. And, because we live in a world that likes to skew and garble words over the decades, censorship isn't the bar across the occasional nip-slip, it's a restriction of freedom. In high school, there was this really weird poster in my Journalism room of a guy with holes cut out of his eyes and mouth. The caption read "CENSORSHIP; THE DIRTIEST WORD OF THEM ALL." And I never really understood it.

Until now.

Modern Family is now under fire for latest episode, "Little Bo Bleep." Protesters have been claiming things like "it encourages profanity," "they're setting the wrong examples," and stuff the like. But given the warm, family tone, the lack of explicit profanity, sex, etc, and the goal of the show, I cannot support these claims and have to disagree.

Modern Family is riotously hilarious and light-hearted, showcasing an odd-ball, mixed up family with gays and foreigners and ADHD kids. The mix of these allow for scenarios and conflicts that happen to almost everybody. I think that part of its appeal comes from the commonplace situations in each scenario of each episode. The characters allow for a broad range in audience; age, gender, sexuality, nationality…
There's nothing this show doesn't humorously cover. And because of the good nature of Modern Family, the episodes are capable of teaching morals and being a good source of entertainment. In fact, my family watches Modern Family together and everyone of us can laugh without the worry of unsavory content.

As to the nefarious purpose of "encouraging youth profanity," I have this to say to you all:

"When have you yourself heard your son/daughter/sibling swear, ignorant of the meaning, yet somehow learned of the word?"

There are infamous moments in my family's life where all 3 of us children swore, whilst retaining innocence. Let's start with my own "indecorous" past.

When I was young, I like to point out the things I saw and use my burgeoning vocabulary by excitedly pointing and declaring its name. Once upon a time, I was in San Francisco with a large American flag. And, like any child, I had my speech impediments. Mine was that my 'L" was virtually non-existent. It wasn't that cute "w" sound, it wasn't even a "y." It just wasn't there. So, there I was, happily situated in my stroller, making things awkward for the unreasonably sexuality-sensitive people of San Fran.

Along the same lines, my youngest brother didn't put together the pronunciation of "tr." To him, "tr" wasn't "tr," it was, inexplicably, a "fff" sound. When he loudly told my church what kind of fire-prevention vehicle was depicted in a children's book, he put that one inane joke to new meaning.

You know, the one that's all:

B: Uh…
A: FIRETRUCK! *derp derp derp derp*

At this point, your argument might be something like "Well, that's just uneducated kids sayin' things the wrong way, there ain't no shame in dat."

1. Fix your grammar. You're using a double negative, an apostrophe in place of a 'g' and a 'd' in place of a 'th.'
2. I'm not done shaming my family's mouths.

My second brother was given a hands-on training lesson in the art of obscenities by my godmother at the sensitive age of 2. He was a little aware that these exotic words were something you said when you stubbed your toe. However, at the age of 2, he was oblivious to the darker definition. It took just a little while to correct this habit and teach him less offensive phrases in place of the more flavorful.

Going back to the bigger theme of Modern Family, I think this episode empathizes with parents that have dealt with embarrassing children, loudly displaying their colourful vocabulary.

How could you even claim to be a family show unless you showcase the unflattering sides? Modern Family is a comedy of errors! Not an idyllic suburbia! Everyone loves to see mistakes. It brings us together and helps us remember our pathetic humanity and wide margin for erratum.

In the back of my mind, I recall another kid show familiar with just about everybody who doesn't live under a rock…. Does anyone remember that Spongebobe episode where Spongebob and Patrick learn how to cuss? So how come no one made a big deal about him "not setting the right example?"