Friday, May 30, 2008
“Hey, man.” David said, raising his hand up to give me a high five.
“What’s going on, David?” I responded and held my hand up.
He dropped his hand down right before I could give him a high five. He stumbled away chuckling.
“Asshole,” I mumbled under my breath.
That confrontation sums up how many of my friendships with that group of friends deteriorated. They thought they were so cool. I wanted to be cool too, but there was a problem. I seemed cool enough to have around, but not really part of the inner circle so I was the brunt of jokes and often a recipient of the cold shoulder.
I never really understood it, but it broke my heart. I think that same day I ran into David I went out for Chinese food with my mom to Hunan. I broke down sitting in a corner booth of the restaurant. I told her how these guys, which have been my friends for seven years, treated me like crap. I didn’t know why. They teased me all the time, never failing to mention my height, which, I am sure, just intimidated the crap out of them. They were teasing and taunting what they were jealous of, or what they didn’t understand. I suspect they might have wanted to be a little taller. I also was more mature than them. I don’t know why exactly, but I was. I was interested in things like reading and learning (extraordinarily rare activities for them). These were interests that I probably shouldn’t have held if I wanted to run with that crowd in 10th grade.
These friends were all talented in one sport or the other and they seemed to have girls figured out. They also weren’t that eager to make any new friends. They had their circle; it was complete and exclusive, so why look to befriend others? I remember the social awkwardness around them when I spoke of my friendship with Ben. Ben was off limits for them. He was a year younger, clearly not interested in sports and he was way too honest about his true interests. I would often avoid stories if they somehow involved Ben. I was afraid of being an outcast—the way they viewed Ben. I renounced my friendship with him on several occasions, or at least passed him off as an acquaintance and just a neighbor in an attempt to remain in their favor.
I was interested in basketball and swimming, but I never made the basketball team in Fort Collins. For some reason, much smaller people than me were chosen for the squads. The selection of the basketball team in Fort Collins was very political. In a one on one game I could have trounced 90% of the guys that made the team, but I was never given the chance. I didn’t even make the first cut when I tried out my sophomore year. This changed the dynamics among me and the rest of those guys. Through the lens of an early high school kid they had it all: money, the attention of the girls, a spot on the basketball team and all the coolest kicks. What a funny list. That stuff actually determines who is popular in high school. Then, in college, not as much, but after college it regresses back to a high school measurement of popularity.
I decided there would be one last hurrah for me and basketball. I tried out for the team in my new hometown. Following weeks of shoot arounds and open gyms I was given a spot on the JV squad. This was a little humbling, but I was a junior and I still had another year to go for the Varsity squad. Boosting my spirits was the fact that the new high school’s team was better than the Fort Collins team. After a while in the program I felt like I was a good addition to the team. I never had that feeling in Fort Collins and that program was made up of a bunch of short, white boys.
The new program clearly took basketball seriously. Its squads were made up of guys that weren’t all white. I know, hard to believe. The coaches actually took anyone into consideration.
Although I was selected, I suffered under an extremely incompetent coach. He happened to be more than a foot shorter than me. By my junior year I was 6’8” and rail-thin, but I had potential that was obviously visible to the coaches that selected me for the JV team, but not visible to the JV coach himself. His coaching decisions were inexplicable, and my dad, who played ball at Portland State, quickly developed a strong dislike for this short man.
Really, why I tell this whole story, is because the ending has an ironic and redemptive twist.
In Fort Collins I was essentially kicked out of the jock group. When it was time for college I, the slightly nerdy outcast, was the one that got a scholarship to a D-I athletic program. I never saw most of those guys after I left Fort Collins, but I secretly wished I could have this conversation with them.
“Oh, hey there.”
“Hey, Bryce. How’s it going?”
“Oh, you know, just taking it easy before the season starts.”
“Yep. Season. I’m on the swim team at UW.”
“Yeah. Where are you playing ball?”
“I decided not to.”
Which in sports talk means that he wasn’t good enough. Snap. Zing. End of story.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I was full of doubt when I heard Cloverfield was a love story. But after watching it, I saw that at its root, Cloverfield truly is a love story that gets bogged down by a completely predictable monster. The movie begins with a farewell party for Rob, who is going to
The party goes on for twenty minutes, nearly a third of the movie, before the monster makes an appearance. Heard and felt by all, the party moves to the roof to position for a better look at the source of the noise. They get it. The monster quickly comes their way after throwing the head of the Statue of Liberty down the street. From there the party is thrown into chaos and all residents of
At best, Cloverfield is intriguing. I am aware of its cult following—mostly by Lost fans—and after watching only a few minutes of the movie I understand that it could only be loved by a ravenous group of fanatics and not beloved by the whole world. Much like the Star Wars prequels are to most people—overwhelmingly disappointing—Cloverfield failed to meet my expectations.
As probably all do, I spent the first few minutes of the movie settling into the movement of the camera. The cinematography, “shot” completely by the characters with their indestructible video camera, is rarely focused on what I wanted to be seeing. It certainly achieves the feeling of watching a homemade video because it made me yearn for a traditionally shot film. Ever heard of a camera track?
The camera work isn’t the only area of the movie that has the homemade feel. Unfortunately, the acting reminds me of one reason why I go to the movies—for quality acting—because it just isn’t there in Cloverfield. You’ve got to hand it to the cast though; they do a great job acting like they aren’t acting, thus, making them aggravating to watch.
There are things to love in Cloverfield. The monster could have easily been reminiscent of Godzilla, but it has a refreshing appearance…if a 30-story tall monster can have that. We see enough of it to peak our interest, but there is a lot about the monster and what the military knows about it that isn’t revealed, leaving the option for a sequel.
It must have taken a considerable about of work to maintain the feeling of a homemade video and the integrity of a believable monster stomping through the streets of
Although there are some unexpected twists in Cloverfield—like the little creatures that drip off the big monster—they are coupled with predictable elements like an infection carried in the bite of the creatures that deflates the movie of ingenuity. The contagious or deadly bite is used too often in virus/vampire thrillers which are a completely different subset of movies, but unsurprising nonetheless. The scene in which Marlena gets taken away by military personnel in HAZMAT suits was seen a mile away.
Another cheap thrill was the rash celebration in the helicopter after the B-2 Stealth Bomber drops its payload on the monster. The explosion of the bombs and the collapse of the monster create a massive cloud of dust. There is a short delay before the monster jumps at the helicopter cutting off Hud’s premature exclamations of victory. Surprised? No, not really.
The only dialogue in the movie that feels thought through is Hud’s, the man behind the camera. Throughout incessant yelling and cumbersome noise were Hud’s dry and smart-alecky comments.
When Beth sees the monster for the first time she yells, “What is that?”
“It’s…It’s a terrible thing.” Hud replies, injecting some much needed humor into a painful script.
In another scene, Rob, Lilly and Hud must cross from one building to another via a precarious bridge. “I’ll go first,” Rob says.
“Okay. I’ll…I’ll document,” Hud says.
But Hud’s humor can’t hold the movie together and it slowly falls apart while we race toward the ending where we already know what is going to happen. There was nothing done to protect us from knowing the conclusion of this movie. We know from the beginning that the tape is found in
It was a love/hate relationship, all 73 minutes of it, and when it ended I thought of a scene, featuring Beth and Hud, for which the dialogue is an appropriate reaction to the film.
“What the hell was that?” Beth asks.
“I don’t know. Something terrible.”
Saturday, May 24, 2008
No, Hillary, it is because you are losing!
I can't take much more of this.
Friday, May 23, 2008
It is sissy. It is blame-gaming, whining, a way of not taking responsibility, of not seeing your flaws and addressing them. You want to say "Girl, butch up, you are playing in the leagues, they get bruised in the leagues, they break each other's bones, they like to hit you low and hear the crack, it's like that for the boys and for the girls."Brilliant.
And because the charge of sexism is all of the above, it is, ultimately, undermining of the position of women. Or rather it would be if its source were not someone broadly understood by friend and foe alike to be willing to say anything to gain advantage.
Hat tip: My Aunt in Phoenix.
I could critique the list, but I've already written that I haven't even finished a tenth of the books on the list. Who would take that seriously? So, I was happy to find this critique of the book. This guy fesses up to having read a third of the list. That's pretty damn good.
Music: I purchasized Narrow Stairs, the new Death Cab For Cutie, this week. It is getting a lot of play. That's all I'm going to say.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
4pm - I hear a helicopter outside. I look out the window and notice it is hovering right above the fire. I go back to the computer and wonder why a helicopter is hovering over a ditch burn. It occurs to me that from the height the helicopter is hovering at it could be filming traffic on I-94.
4:15pm - The helicopter is still there. I go out on the deck and position myself for a better view of the fire. I notice nothing extraordinary, but I do see that it isn't a ditch burn. There is a mound of plants burning and I notice some men fueling the fire with additional greenery. There is a thick smoke surrounding our whole apartment building.
6pm - The fire dies. The helicopter has left.
9pm - I'm watching the local news with Kate. The lead story is about a fight on a school bus in Milwaukee today. Everyone on the bus was fighting. When three kids couldn't find the boy they were looking for in the mess they turned on the driver and beat him up. The second story is about a drug bust in Oak Creek--where we live. The cops uncovered a massive homegrown project. The marijuana found--its worth estimated at over $3 million--was grown using the traditional heat lamps and fans to maintain the humid environment necessary to grow the plant. All the walls had turned black from mildew caused by the humidity in the house. We were shocked by the amount of cannabis that was grown in the house featured in the story. It is enough to fill a small warehouse.
At the end of the story they show a beautiful aerial shot of a small fire in a field. The reporter says that the cannabis was moved to a "remote location" and burned. The "remote location" was pretty much our back yard. The mystery of the helicopter comes full circle and I regret not spending more of my afternoon outdoors.
I read today that Obama was sure to not claim an overall victory last night during his speech to supporters in
My response to
I get the whole honor thing. She doesn’t want to let her supporters down by pulling out now before everyone has been heard. She thinks she is doing the democratic process a favor by staying in. But even the democratic process has rules. Even though dropping out when you can’t possibly win isn’t one of them, it should be one now.
My favorite political footage of the last two weeks is a tie between Bill Clinton’s red face after the
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Some notable artists at Summerfest:
Rascal Flatts – I list them because I am going to this show with Kate and a few other residents (girls). There might be another guy coming along.
John Mayer – Who is just got selected by the shuffle feature on my iTunes. “Covered in Rain” from Any Given Thursday. Good song.
The Police with Elvis Costello – So want to go to this show.
BoDeans – Definitely catching these guys.
Less Than Jake
…and at the
Boyz II Men – What the hell?
I approve of William Safire and his NY Times Magazine column “On Language.”
This is slightly dated, but I especially enjoyed this one.
My name is William Safire, and I approve on this message. (Nah; sounds as if I’m dumping on it.) I approve of this message. (Sounds elitist, out of touch, like a blessing given by the Charles River Gang.) Ready? I approve this message. There; that government-approved, preposition-free usage has an executive tone, as if the speaker were running for chief executive. If you can cut earmarks out of the budget deficit, you can cut the needless word out of the sign off, and it saves a fraction of a second, which—multiplied by thousands of TV spots—adds up to real money.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Now to the care…Once Kate and I decided to seek professional help, which didn’t take long given the whole loss of taste and facial paralysis thing, we were able to get a neurosurgeon to order a CT without a prior visit. This was the first of many perks of being married to someone in the health care industry. Kate knew someone who knew a neurosurgeon that did a big favor for us which eliminated the usually necessary visit to the doctor before a CT is ordered. That saved us $350. If you are wondering, that is after insurance. We did have to pay for one visit with this neurosurgeon so he could tell me that there was no visible tumor or huge problem with my brain.
This same doctor wrote a prescription for dexamethasone a few days later when it was determined I had Bell’s palsy. This prescription was written without a consultation—another perk. Although there were those perks and a few others, namely having a nurse practitioner as a mother-in-law and an anesthesiologist as an uncle and a wife who is a pharmacist (who also could double as a MD sometimes), I can’t say the perks drastically improved the quality of the health care. In the long run the perks saved us some money and some appointments by bypassing some health care bureaucracy.
The range of doctors I saw was a direct consequence of not having a diagnosis. Being sent from a neurosurgeon to a neurologist, to an ophthalmologist, to an ENT doctor, to a rheumatologist and to a family practice doctor is the unfortunate path of a patient with an undiagnosable illness. That journey wasn’t a byproduct of poor care, rather it was a byproduct of a health care industry that needs reforming. And with that thought, maybe it is a sign of poor care. Let me elaborate. With all the doctors I visited I came to realize how hard it is to find a choice doctor. There are many doctors out there, but few see patients as anything besides a chart or can remember why the heck you are seeing them for the second time that week. I went to more than one appointment where the doctor was hesitant to order tests or prescribe drugs that they sent me to another doctor even though they knew that ordering that blood work or giving me that drug is going to be the end result. When there seemed to be risk involved, half the doctors covered their asses by referring me to a doctor with the fortitude to order the test.
This slowed down the process of actually getting the care I needed or the answers I sought. It is a practice that prioritizes one thing—the doctor. Not surprisingly, the doctors that were referred to me by the doctors too afraid to make the call were always significantly better. They asked a lot of questions. They sat quietly while listening to my answers and I could see the wheels turning. There was much more patient-doctor dialogue. Probably most importantly, I felt like they were concerned about my health like it was their own life on the line. The care I received from these doctors was also more efficient. In one appointment the doctor quizzed me about my whole ordeal, came up with a list of likely problems/issues, and acted on one of these issues right away by ordering an x-ray. I got the x-ray, waited fifteen minutes and was able to meet with the doctor to discuss the results five minutes later. Let me remind you that this was all in one visit and, if you haven’t figured it out yet, not ordinary.
In stark contrast to the doctors that truly cared about me, there were two who were certifiable assholes. The first, an ER doctor that was convinced I had cluster headaches. She put me on oxygen, prescribed fiorocet, and discharged me from the ER. It was an agonizing few hours. We realized she wasn’t going to do any more for me so we obeyed her orders because that was the quickest way out of the ER that afternoon. The second, an ophthalmologist, was the worst doctor either of us has ever encountered. This guy met and exceeded all of my expectations of the crappiest, most arrogant doctor. He always seemed to know more about my health than I did. He would ask me questions and interrupt me while I was answering. Kate was often along on the visits to this doctor and on the last visit her patience with the doctor expired. She was beginning to ask a question of him and after she got out the first two words, not nearly enough for the doctor to know what she was asking, he held up his hand and stopped her and said, “No.” Kate started again, putting some frustration in her voice. This time he let her finish but immediately said, “No.” Again, he gave no explanation.
These two doctors represented some of the lows throughout my sickness. It was hard to imagine how they might have loyal patients. They consistently did the minimum in order to expedite the process. For the eye doctor, it was all about the money. You could tell he didn’t put much thought into his work. Sad to say, but he was a bitter, crabby, old man.
In addition to the poor doctors, the lack of diagnosis was the most frustrating factor to deal with, but that wasn’t necessarily a sign of the quality of the health care. Although at times I forgot that. With that said, I still think the care I got was only mediocre. Kate and I have great health insurance. We are in a highly rated health care system. However, this health care system appears to be very bogged down by bureaucracy and a few silly rules that are probably in place to ensure that patients can’t work the system. That’s a shame. It is also a shame that I ran into a few doctors that seemed reluctant to use the powers they had at their disposal. Why do they do this? Well, I assume some don’t want to be accused of a misdiagnosis or ordering unnecessary procedures. I don’t have the answers, but maybe some of them are just too afraid. It might be as simple as that. Or they could be deliberately passing me on to a doctor that they believe is better than them. Fine, but that process is slow and expensive. It might mean weeks between appointments and even longer before the next test is ordered or the next drug prescribed, thus making for an agonizing wait for a diagnosis or a result from a test. In this system there is no quick route to a diagnosis even if from the beginning the patient’s symptoms match those of a specific disease.
Friday, May 16, 2008
It was a quick interview. The job wasn’t offered to me on the phone. I should know within a week whether or not I am selected. It might be two days or a week. I can’t remember exactly. Anyway, I had to answer questions like “Why Obama?” “Do you think you would excel in this position?” “What organizing experience do you have?” For that last question, I had to get a little creative.
So that’s where I stand on that front.
I have been posting almost everyday since I have been back in
I don’t have to work until Tuesday and Kate has the weekend off. Sweet.
Also, I haven’t had much to say on here lately about politics. It has gotten to the point of certainty, certainty that Obama will be the nominee. Hillary won’t drop out before June 3. The Edwards endorsement helped. It is all the obvious and I don’t have that much commentary on it besides generally agreeing with things I have read on the blogs in the past week. I don’t want to rehash everything into my own ideas.
By the way, it is bike to work week. I rolled the bike out yesterday and got air in the tires and will probably bike to the Bucks for the rest of my time there. I love my bike. I love that it isn’t fueled by $4 gallons of gas. Yes, gas has it 4 bucks-a-gallon in
Last week, I read Enger’s new book, So Brave, Young, and Handsome in three days. The man’s ability to write a story is absolutely amazing. A review will be up soon. Read the book. It was so beautiful I wept.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
This isn't a helpful map when trying to abolish stereotypes. Race is definitely a factor.
Hat tip: Everyone.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I should sound old in this post because I am going to write a little bit about seeing a live recording of A Prairie Home Companion in
Garrison Keillor always starts off the program with a little nod to the location he is broadcasting from. (Read: it was time to make fun of
Another favorite was Keillor’s reference to
The musical guests were the Bodeans, from
Well, anyways. They are still singing and making albums and are pretty chill and refined now. They got a lot of applause and Kate and I feel completely naïve for not knowing about them because we definitely recognized “Closer to Free” when we found it on iTunes.
Leon Redbone was also on the show. Redbone always performs in a Panama hat, sunglasses, and bowtie. He is quite the mysterious figure. Even Wikipedia can’t scrape up that much information on the dude. He was a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His disguise and ability to hide his true identity from the media and fans led to rampant speculation that he was actually Andy Kaufman or Frank Zappa. However, those men are dead now and Redbone still performs. Redbone survived a plane crash in 1979 and travels to “engagements exclusively by car.” His sound is very unique. I didn’t expect a rumbling baritone to come out of that small man. His voice can also be very smooth. I didn’t love his music. It was too folksy for me. The best comparison I can make is to Louis Armstrong.
Anyway, we had a wonderful time and I know that performance will remain fresh in our minds for a long time because Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion, whether you listen or not, are certainly slices of
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I've been asking around and it turns out a lot of people in the Midwest don't know who Garrison Keilor is. Shocking really, considering he is a pretty accurate embodiment of Midwest folk. At least, that is my impression so far from spending ten months here.
In other news, an old college friend wrote on my Facebook wall and insisted that I not vote for Obama. He says it is a big mistake. He also told me to trust him. I inquired about an alternative and have yet to hear back from him, but this blog will feature most of the correspondence, unless of course it is sent via Facebook message. I guess then it is private communication. We will see.
Friday, May 09, 2008
"She [Clinton] is tireless, she is smart. She is capable. And so obviously she'd be on anybody's shortlist to be a potential vice-presidential candidate," he [Obama] said.
I hope he wouldn't select her because he thinks that is his only shot at winning in November. There are better choices.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
A long time ago I left two friends in the summer night
The lasting image of them never fades
Their faces lit by orange streetlamp glow
A night filled with unknown lasts
Tonight, that image haunts me
As two hooded bodies walk up the street
Into the night shade of cottonwoods
I fear the darkness that turned them into one before
I fear not meeting the two on the other side