Friday, September 30, 2005

Fewer bad actors and more integrity...please!

Amadeus. I watched this film last night. (Please note the use of the word film rather than "movie." This implies film snobbishness and therefore a greater credibility level on my part. Now that we've established that...) The timing was rather appropriate given my recent musical experiences. I've seen it a few times, and with each viewing, another layre is added. Mozart's music is absolutely beautiful. It makes you want to shut everything else out in order to experience its fullness. Unfortunately, with this viewing the new layre was less than beneficial.

Elizabeth Berridge. Where do I begin? How do I even attempt to describe her performance? It was horrible. Rumor has it that she was sleeping with the director. Honestly, there's no other sufficient explanation. Okay, maybe I can come up with one or two other possiblities. Back in 1984 it wasn't nearly as popular for actresses to artificially "enhance." The actress playing Costanza (Mozart's wife) needed to have a rather large rack for the role (see photo above). Given the small talent pool, Berridge got the part. Other possibilities...well, I'll stop there to avoid cruelty.

The point is that she was so terrible in the role that I grew to loathe her and each scene in which she had a part by the end of the movie. There we are, in Vienna, and "Stanzie" has bits of her upstate, NY accent peeking through. Her lines are delivered in a near monotone and her mannerisms are stiff and unconvincing.

Dear Hollywood "film" Directors,

I am concerned about the choices you are making. I understand that many of you are physically unattractive, but you must have some alternative means to getting laid. Here are some suggestions:

1. Buy sports car. The flashier and louder, the better.

2. Start rumor about the size of your member. Remember, size does matter. Any woman who tells you otherwise is simply trying to boost your confidence and is probably laughing with her friends about you.

3. Get into the porn industry. This way your criteria for choosing an actress is actually appropriate and appreciated.

4. Mail order brides.

5. Alcohol. Go out, get 'em liquored up and strap some beer goggles on her!

I appreciate your consideration of these options. I fully understand your urges, but I think we can turn this into a "win-win" if you simply pick one (or two! Double your poontang!) method and use that. This way, you will not deter from innocent movie-goers' (such as myself) entertainment experiences.

Yours Truly,

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mandolins from Jefferson, GA

I am a musician. I can't even comprehend life without music. If anyone asks me when I started singing, the answer is "always." I played the piano, had a short stint in violin and switched to flute in the fourth grade. I loved it. I was dedicated. I haven't played my flute for months (and not regularly for years).

A few months ago I decided that I was going to learn to play the guitar. This would support my secret aspirations (brought on by too many roaring and writhing crowds) of becoming a rock star. My dad was eager to donate his first "real" guitar, a Guild D55 from about 1982. When it got to Athens, the action was way off and I was directed to "Tony in Jefferson" who could reset the neck for me.

Jefferson is not physically far from Athens, but it's a different world entirely. Athens is a liberal college town (go dawgs) with a population that waxes and wanes with the school year. Students have an array of bars to choose from on any given night and there's almost always some sort of special available for those who like beer, but don't have a ton of cash. I believe that one could eat wings on special every night of the week.

Jefferson is 20 minutes down a two lane road. A railroad runs parallel for a good part of the way. When your car passes through a cloud of dust, you almost expect to see a tumbleweed on the other side. Downtown is the crossing of two main roads. One left turn later, is Tony's street. I drive around back to a shed, otherwise known as "the shop." Tony welcomes me with a smile and a beard that belongs on a certain Christmas favorite. He immediately clamps the neck of my guitar onto his cluttered workbench, removes the strings and tells me what a nice instrument I have. Tony is a man who loves what he does. He goes on and on about fixing up instruments and how it was supposed to be more like a hobby, but he has more customers than time. He was featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and his work has been displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. He's more excited about the time that a bluegrass legend (don't ask me what his name was) played one of his mandolins. He then hands me one, not completely finished, and tells me to play it. I don't even play guitar yet, but this thing is beautiful. I tell him so, and he croons like a proud father. He then shows me "the" mandolin played by our hero who's name I cannot recall. Tony is passionate. Tony is sort of my hero at the moment.

As I drive home, without guitar for at least a week, I'm buzzing. I'm completely inspired. I've got Air in the CD player and my song comes on. This is the kind of song that makes me shudder it's so good. There have always been some chords that do that to me. I used to cry in choir. Barber's Adagio for Strings has the same effect. It's impossible to describe, but it's something so beautiful that you can only hope others might experience that same kind of feeling. The combination of the perfect chord and the slight buzz of a great expectation have me closing my eyes and rolling down the windows. The air is at about 90 degrees and my hair is standing completely on end. The smell is a subtle combination of dirt, grass and construction. This is wonderful. I am so happy.

Thanks Tony.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Katrina: First to Market

I don't mean for this to sound like an "I told you so," but I suspect my intention isn't going to make the difference.

As I was watching the news (in subtitles) from my eliptical machine at the gym this morning, I was struck by a funny thought: Katrina has the first mover advantage. Rita isn't going to get the same attention or helpful response simply because of the timing. It seems that Rita has caused her fair share of damage yet people are still focused on Katrina. As a current marketing student, I couldn't help but compare this situation to free market competition between two businesses. The first to market with a new product often is the one who gains the largest market share. They simply beat the competition to the punch and therefore are able to seize the bulk of existing demand. When the second mover enters often consumers are already loyal to the intial company/product and do not wish to switch.

Now imagine that consumers (in this case, those who responded to Katrina and tried to help) have invested resources into the first product when the second mover enters. Not only do they hesitate to switch because of loyalty, they also do not have the resources remaining to invest in another product that is minimally different from the one they already possess. As discussed in an earlier entry, those who have donated to Katrina victims now have less with which to help the victims of Rita.

Does mother nature understand economics?

Sunday, September 25, 2005


one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi...

A moment's despair seems like an entire lifetime.

Bounty is endless. Famine is forever.

Einstein said that everything is relative. How can one interpret a single moment without understanding the relation of surrounding moments? What meaning does one piece have without the rest of the puzzle? Where does one step next when there is no discernable purpose behind forward momentum? Without reason do we become masses of kinetic and stored energy?

Eventually we won't get up that next hill. Slumped in a dip of the tracks. Taken by inertia. Awareness only reaching as far as a single breath.

A gust of wind. A wave of cool water. The flip of a fin towards the top of a mountain. All I can remember is motion. All can feel is now one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand...


Friday, September 23, 2005

Paris vs Jessica

Hmmmm, how can I put this gently and subtly....


I really do. At first I thought these feelings would fade. My knee jerk reaction to her name/image would cease to be. My intensity was simply a reverse infatuation and could not sustain itself. It turns out though, that my feelings are the same today as they were a year ago (and even further back).

As I share my feelings in conversation, the comment that I invariably hear is, "You must really hate Paris Hilton too." Not at all. I have no problem with Paris or any of her little posse. I do not care for her, and would not wish to befriend her. However, she does not embody the evil with which I associate Jessica. "But both Paris and Jessica profit from their stupidity!" They exclaim. I agree, but the problem is more complex than this.

A series of questions should suffice to explain what I see as a glaring difference:

Does Paris claim that she is wholesome?
Do little girls buy Paris' album?
Do little girls look at Paris' life on TV with her Barbie dream house and Ken-doll husband and think how they'd love to live that fairy tale as well?
Does Paris EVER say she's a role model?

It is not even relevant to further argue about Paris' shortcomings because we see that Paris is honest. Is she a little bit skanky? Absolutely. Does she try to pretend that she is not? Never. She goes out, drinks a bunch, gets "some" and all this while fielding an onslaught of phone calls regarding the cuteness of various accessories. Never has she tried to be an example for our girls. Never has she implied that she should be emulated in any way. She's just doing her thing.

Now let's talk about Jessica. There are two possibilities which might explain her mental process. First, perhaps she really is that stupid. If this is the case, then I simply feel sorry for her. The responsiblity is in the hands of the producers etc.

The second (and more likely) possibility is that she is actually playing a part. It has been suggested to me as if this actually excuses her behavior. I would argue that this makes her all the more vile. She has placed herself in a position where little girls and boys want to be like her (or be with a girl like her). She is sending the message to children that it is cute to be stupid. That boys will like you if you act stupid. Helplessness is virtuous.

Jessica was once asked in an interview whether or not it was an act. Her response was, "When I was growing up, boys always liked it when I acted this way." This is the clincher. She knows what she's doing. She's making money off of it. She's damaging impressionable little girls. Jessica Simpson is evil. She is decieving people for her own profit. She is without integrity.

I protest. Stupid is not cute.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Effects of Friction

It felt like popping a blister. She placed pen to paper and her insides gushed out. She didn't even know she had so much to say. She wrote until the callus that had finally healed formed anew [The callus was caused by too many A-B-Cs in elementary school]. What she found though, was not relief. Instead, a new drug. The rush that came from creating something so clean and honest fed another, guiltier pleasure.

Page after page she began. One or two sentences at the most and she found herself without another word left to say. The blister had been drained and what remained was an empty pocket that stung her. To apply any pressure to the wound yielded nothing but dissatisfaction and a cruel reminder of past pleasure.

She vowed that she would treat it in the morning. Neosporin and some comfortable shoes for a week should just about do the trick. After that, she'd climb the monkey bars and see if she could rub enough inspiration from the cold metal into a new bubble on the palm of her hand.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Trash and other heroes

When my grandmother died, the only thing that kept be going was the fact that the garbage still had to be taken out.

Grandma had a heart attack. Test on Monday - better study.

The doctor should have had her on blood thinners. Do some dishes.

I'll never see her or speak to her again. Laundry needs to be folded.

Those little nuisances...those daily annoyances became the only things that could make me feel normal. I was consumed with grief, but the garbage reminded me that life would continue. I'd better keep going too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Labor of Man

My father was a painter.

I once asked him why he painted. He told me that he had never really enjoyed it. Each painting was an excruciating process. He would close himself into a room and paint, almost continuously, until he had completed his work. He would eat little and sleep little. Hunched over a canvas and palette he would bear great physical pain. Tired muscles, cramped from holding the same [unnatural] pose for hours on end, were only moments [mixed with ounces of will] away from giving completely. Each painting was a challenge. Him against the impossibility of perfection. Each stroke would take him closer, but like the graph of f(x)=1/x desperately outstretched towards an axis, perfection (seeming decievingly within reach) was a cruel goal. The painting would eventually take its final shape and he would emerge from his prision, tired and hungry.

I once told him that I thought that men tortured themselves because they couldn't create life. I told him that men subconciously wished that they could construct something as perfect as another human being. To substitute, they would find these alternate creative outlets; outlets which in some ways simulated the pain of labor. In my father's case, he would create works of art, but the process of doing so was often nearly unbearable. He accepted that he would experience pain so that he could create this near perfect "life." In fact, he seemed to relish the pain. He laughed at me when I told him this.

I later asked him how he felt watching my mother go through labor. Was it hard? He told me he was glad it wasn't him.

My father was kind of an ass.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The psychology of a heartless bitch

How do I feel about Katrina?

Do I care? Of course, but I'm just not that upset. What kind of ass doesn't care that thousands of people have died and are currently dying? A psychologist friend told me that this is normal. Apparently there are two kinds of people:

1. Those who are vulnerable to anxiety
2. Those who are not

It turns out that I'm not. The thought process goes a little something like this:

Event occurs. Person observes event and experiences emotional reaction. Person then responds to emotion with attempt at action (action is intended to right the situation). In the case where person finds that no action will have a real impact, person then resolves to accept the situation and move on.

In contrast, the person who is vulnerable would diverge at the point where he/she finds that no action can help. this person would be distraught and wracked by guilt.

The common perception is that person number one (our heartless bitch) is without sensitivity or compassion and is therefore a selfish person. The reality though is that both people are equally compassionate. The first person will only expend efforts where those efforts will actually reap a benefit for the victim. The person posessing said vulnerability would expend efforts regardless of result. One might argue that more efficient efforts will be made if one is selective with one's efforts. In addition, more resources (time, money, strength of will) are available with which to help. Imagine a person has $100. She can help 50 people for $2 a pop or she can help 2 people for $50 a pop. Which of these contributions will make a difference? By being selective and rational, resources will become more abundant. Now our rational person has achieved the ability to help out more often and with more impact.

Rational does not mean without heart. Rational is the controlled response to one's heart which resuilts in positive contributions. What help can one give if she is a pile of nerves?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Without any regard to the box - whatsoever


The best decision of my life.
The best decision of my life?

What have I learned? How to calculate the time value of money. How to shake a hand. How to measure a human being. How to stay "outside of the box" (and in so doing, remain safely within the confines of groupthink).

I came here to do something more. I came here to find (or sharpen or use--whatever) the tools that would help me to improve the state of the world. Let's start though with the understanding that I already percieve the world as an amazing place. I don't mean amazing as in, "Halle, your dress is absolutely amazing!" or "Where did you get that fabulous pink handbag? It's amazing!" I mean amazing in the perfect science and order of it. When I think about evolution and the near perfection of the human body - That is amazing. When I think of all the little things we take for granted (like gravity or any sensation...touch, taste, love)--amazing. So amazing and so wonderful that the mind reels.

PREMISE: The world is already amazing.
CONCLUSION: It would therefore take something pretty spectacular to improve it.

And I thought that business school would be the right path?

Perhaps my heightened awareness will allow me to work within the confines of the [broken] system. I will shove my crowbar (or dynamite) into the cracks and watch it crumble. What will remain? Ideas and people...and now they will have no boudaries or red tape (or good ol' boys) to stop them. Of course I'll do all of this in my skirt and pumps...

...content to wear my secret tattoo and ready to ask anyone who'll listen if they'd call their sick newborn an "opportunity."