I recently got an angry, hate-filled email from a fan of Biff Rose (whose music I recommend here). Aside from the fact it was not suitable for a family web site (of which this is one) it also wasn't very well written or even slightly amusing or entertaining in anything but a rather pitiful way (I will have to say one thing for Biff: he generates more email than anything else on this site with the exception of our cats. There may be something cosmic in that statement, but I doubt it).
I've actually corresponded with Biff and I think I could safely say he would not be pleased by this fan's email to us, nor would he be angry or concerned over what we wrote about him here (remember: we like Biff, although it's the early Biff that gives us joy). But the email did contain a relevant message, which I'll paraphrase in one sentence: "You are not qualified to critique Biff's recent work because you have not produced anything of the same quality nor achieved any of the same success."
This is certainly a legitimate opinion to express, and is actually a familiar refrain of many (although usually the artists themselves and not their fans :>) Basically it boils down to the old "Those who can't do, criticize" school of thought.
Artists and critics have for years squared off against each other, each believing in the truth of what they are offering to the public. It's somewhat paradoxical in that a critic is also an artist of sorts: and thus (in an ever spiraling meta storm of confusion) can themselves be critiqued. If one wanted to neatly wrap this up in a sophistical knot I could point out the emailer has no right to respond to me in such a negative manner since they themselves have not produced anything of the same quality or success as this web site.
But what concerns me is not the criticism but rather the anger behind it. Why so much anger? I think the answer is in the nature of the web. Nowadays the web stands as the modern day equivalent of a newspaper, and this email was certainly invocative of the old "Letters to the Editor" that Steve Allen used to read so amusingly on his show.
In the case of the monolithic newspaper, people saw themselves as essentially powerless to respond, to reach the same audience, so they would fire off their angry missives in an effort to vent this helpless feeling they had. Ironically, by publishing these letters, the newspaper actually provided a forum in which these same people found themselves empowered.
I won't do this here. This is neither a newspaper nor a democracy, and I remain the sole arbiter of what should and shouldn't be published. It's nice that thousands of people each month continue to visit this little corner of the world, but I would hope that those who come here realize this should be a place for joy and caring. In a world so in need of love and understanding, it's a little sad that many of us find the only way to express ourselves is to behave in such a childish fashion. As (the younger) Biff would say, "Fill your heart with happiness."
Thereís no American who has not experienced some deep feelings about the terrorist attacks that happened in New York City. Not to disparage or ignore other nationalities, some of whom have experienced similar attacks (although nothing approaching this scale has occurred anywhere else). But something unique to the American experience has occurred, and as other far more learned individuals have written, the world for us will never be the same.
Millions of words have been written (and will be written) on this subject, and Iím not going to bring new insights to this situation. Both the similarities and differences between Pearl Harbor and this latest horror have been discussed and reviewed, with the principle emphasis being that with Pearl Harbor we at least could identify our target for retaliation with a degree of certainty that is lacking now. Itís also worth nothing, however, that another big difference is Pearl Harbor was primarily a military target. For right or wrong, if the planes had hit the Pentagon only I suspect the mood in this country would be far different.
Iím going to continue to post images on this site: too many friends and family want to see the latest. Iíll even continue to provide movie reviews as well as information about digital photography. Iím not sure, however, when or if Iíll be writing any light-hearted pieces here. My heart isnít light anymore, and I donít know if it can be anytime soon.
Life will go on. We will all live and laugh and love and enjoy the pleasures this world has to offer. We human beings are resilient, and even in the face of the Holocaust the Jews were able to maintain their spirit. Indeed, much of our humor today comes from the Jewish experience, a people who have truly suffered like few others have suffered and yet were able to laugh about it. In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye is talking with God. ďI know, I know. We are your chosen people. But, once in a while, canít you choose someone else?ĒNowadays I know exactly how he felt.
I'm having trouble getting DSL service. It isn't that it's not available in my area -- that technological hurdle was jumped a few months ago when my entire city (small that it may be) was wired for it. No, my problem is organization.
Through a series of twists and turns so elaborate it's painful for me to recount, it will be at least another week or two before I'll be able to surf the net like our forefather's never intended. The bottom line, as Kristy (my Nevada Bell DSL rep) so nicely hinted at, is the breakup of Bell into all the baby Bells. And the breakup of these into even smaller pieces of pie, until we're left with a system so convoluted even the Chinese (those brilliant inventors of Bureaucracy) would not understand.
All of which is well and good (well, it's neither well nor good but I split hairs here) but it got me to thinking about how whenever anything is a problem or goes wrong The Phone Company (who, after all is said and done is still a Monopoly) just blames it on The Breakup.
I don't think this is bad -- actually, I quite envy this ability, and thought I'd start practicing it in my everyday life. After all, I've had breakups of my own, albeit mostly in the far past. But time hasn't stopped TPC (The Phone Company, in homage to The President's Analyst) from continuing to use that excuse. After all, a breakup is a breakup, and time doesn't wound all heels.
"Oh, sorry boss, but that report isn't ready yet. Yes, I know it was due today but... well, you remember that I'm divorced from my first wife. Yep, fourteen years ago, and my life hasn't been quite the same since. I just can't find out where she put those pictures. And what the heck books did she take with her?"
"Honey, I'd really like to get you that new oven but there's a problem. Do you remember me telling you about how my mom made me clean my room and throw away all my comic books? Well, those would have been worth a fortune today, and we would have been able to afford nearly anything. Unfortunately, the only ones she let me keep are my Mad Magazines, which aren't worth the paper they're printed on, particularly since she made me keep them in the garage where they got rained on when the roof leaked and now you can't get most of the pages apart. Sorry."
"I really apologize, but I'm finding it real difficult to get my phone bill paid on time. It's that darn separation I had from my first job -- I was working as a dishwasher, and the summer ended and they let me go, but I've never really gotten over it. I keep thinking there was something I could have done. The thing of it is, they called me on the phone and let me know. So now whenever I think of the phone, I think about that first job and, well, I just want to put off having anything to do with it. But you understand, right?"
"Gladiator star Russell Crowe has picked up another major award - a week before the prestigious Oscars ceremony. The Epson Salt Industry Council awarded Crowe their award for Best Feet In A Film after seeing them in the Roman epic."IMDB, March 20, 2001
This is a terrific disappointment to me. While I had been no huge fan of Cast Away, I really thought Tom Hanks' foot performance was tremendous. The hardships those feet faced, the tremendous adversity they overcome, well, they were clearly the best feet this year (I'm also told there were no stunt feet used in the making of that film -- Hanks took over six months off between filming the opening and closing scenes so his feet could grow the required calluses).
Once again, politics has raised its ugly head when it comes to the ESIC (Epson Salt Industry Council). Who can forget last year's stunning upset of Joseph Finnes's stocking clad feet from Shakesphere in Love again snatching victory away from Tom Hanks' Army booted appendices in Private Ryan? It was obviously Miramax's shameless ad campaign right before the awards that erased all thoughts from the Council's mind of the earlier, much better performance. "Feet to die for" indeed.
I'm not sure I'm even going to bother watching the ESIC awards next year (the fact they are only telecast on public access channel 57 does nothing but reinforce my determination to avoid them). If Best Feet in a Film (along with Best Supporting Heinie in a Musical or Variety Film, won by J-Lo now three years running) continue to be treated like a popularity contest, then what's the point? I know for a fact there are much better performances by feet and heinies in many films that were overlooked by Council voters.
Don't be fooled by that golden statue -- the true test is time, and I'm sure decades from now we'll all think back over the year 2000 and Tom's feet will stand clearly in our minds.
Week 1, Day 1: Men's Magazine has article on how to improve body in 12 weeks. Ah, just the ticket. I'll get in shape for summer and finally lose that weight. Good New Year resolution.
Week 1, Day 2: The article is very interesting. It has a number of different options I need to consider. Just exactly what body type am I? And what type do I want to be? I don't know if I need to look like Arnold, but I'm not exactly happy with looking like Benny Hill. There must be a happy medium.
Week 1, Day 3: It looks as though I'll need to buy some different food. No where on the diet plans are there any calls for shoestring potatoes, or ho-hos, which is apparently all we have in our cupboards right now. I hadn't realized up until now that there was a diet component involved. I don't mind exercising -- but if I do all this exercise why do I have to watch what I eat? I'll get to the store tomorrow and buy some of the stuff they recommend.
Week 1, Day 5: I didn't get to the store until today, and then I was so tired from shopping I just came home and watched some TV. I'll get started tomorrow.
Week 2, Day 1: No sense trying to start something at the end of the week. Now it's a clean slate, I have all the food I need for the diet (although there seems to be an alarming lack of protein in the recommended food substances) and I'm raring to go. Luckily I still have all those weights from when I was in shape during my college days. I'll drag them out of the garage and get cracking!
Week 3, Day 1: I'm just about able to walk without too much pain now. Getting those weights in the house nearly killed me. I won't be able to start the exercise program just yet, but I'll start on the diet stuff now that I'm not feeling so sorry for myself that all I could do was lay around and eat ho-hos and shoestring potatoes.
Week 4, Day 3: I had so little energy from all that salad stuff it was all I could do to make it through the day. I've decided I'll need to eat a little more carbs than they recommend if I'm to keep up on the exercise regime -- shoestring potatoes and ho-hos seem like just the trick. But that's okay -- they were probably talking about someone who didn't have quite the same metabolism as I have.
Week 5, Day 1: Today I start the exercises. They seem pretty easy. Too easy for me, I can take a lot more. I realize this article was written for people not used to lifting weights, like I did back in college. I do a lot more without much effort.
Week 7, Day 2: I'm just about able to move without too much pain now. Obviously I overdid it slightly when I was lifting those weights. My college days, after all, were a few decades ago. It's clear that I need to take it easy. In the meantime, we're all out of ho-hos and shoestring potatoes, so I'll need to go to the store.
Week 9, Day 3: I'm thinking now that I really only need to lift weights about once a week. The article was probably written for someone who doesn't have to work all day at a desk like I do. That can really wear you out, and about the only time I have the energy to do this stuff is on the weekend.
Week 10, Day 6: I'm reading the article again, and I'm not sure it was meant for me at all. They keep talking about things like "renewed vitality" and "dedicated commitment" and none of these things make any sense.
Week 12, Day 7: After twelve weeks my goal has been reached. I have a completely different body -- apparently I've put on a great deal of muscle, so much that my shirts no longer fit me. My pants don't either, so I guess my legs have gotten much larger with all those trips to the store for shoestring potatoes and ho-hos. The only problem I have now is that going to the store wears me out so much that I need to rest on the couch the rest of the day and watch TV. But I do think it was worth it (note to self: cancel subscription to Men's Magazine).
I'll be a grandfather in a few months, which bothers me more than I'd like to admit. Not only do I not feel like I'm nearly old enough, but the only thing I can think of when I think of grandfathers is Grampa Simpson.
Abe Simpson's (Homer's father) main distinguishing characteristic, aside from being old and wrinkled, is a distressingly funny habit of wandering off the track of whatever topic he's started ("We're having turkey? In my day we used to call it Walkin' Bird. Of course, that was back before the Liberty Dollar, and we had to save our wooden nickels, called dimes back then, so we could afford to ride the coaster at Cooney Island. Coasters make me dizzy. Hey, I'm dizzy now! I can't get out of the car. The president is a demmycrat!"). Like someone driving around in an empty parking lot, Grampa can't seem to find an exit.
I've always enjoyed laughing at the elder Simpson, except that it's now a little too close to home. It's not just that I'm soon to be best used as a babysitter when the kids need some quality time to themselves - no, the problem is that I recognize in myself the same distressing inability to stay on subject.
I didn't used to be this way. In my college years I was renown for my prowess in debates (the formal kind - not the usual college sitting around BS sessions). I was nearly always anchor and I could wrap up a summation with a lighting wit and razor sharp arguments that cut to the quick and sent the other team down in flames. Which reminds me of the time we won that match in LagunaÖ
Oops, there I go again. The essential thing that differentiates the present me from the me of old is that back then I had no life experiences. Of course my mind didn't wander - where was it to go? The biggest events in my short existence were all awaiting ahead, rather than behind me as they are now (and receding far in the distance. There was a time when I was pretty famous for my software designs, making the covers of all the major database magazines, being courted around the country (and world) for seminars and consulting gigs andÖ yipes, there I go again!).
And that, in a nutshell, is the problem. As we get older and our life enriches we have so many memories crammed upstairs that the minute we start thinking we run into them. And, like old friends we haven't seen in many years, we want to stop and greet them, let others meet them, and soon we've completely forgotten why we were in that particular part of the brain in the first place. Like wheels within wheels, I become trapped in the Windmills of my mind, while all around me people are amused, bemused or confused.
It's bad enough in day to day existence, but it's started to infect all of my writing now. Parenthetical thoughts abound, and then parenthesis within parenthesis until even I can't figure out what the heck the paragraph was supposed to be (but I don't think it's just me. I've begun to notice a lot of magazine articles are this way. Not only that, but Time now has so many sidebars I can't finish an article. (Sidebars are another way of doing parenthesis, in a more formal manner. Sidebars, of course, are related to sidetracking (and does anyone remember the sidecars that attached to motorcycles? Do they even make those anymore? That always seemed like a good idea to me. (Which is another aspect of old age - things always seem better. That's because we tend not to remember the bad things, or if they are bad they are really terribly bad. (Then again, it would be pretty dull if you started to reminisce with something like "I'll never forget that average day so many years ago when nothing really important happened. Oh no, I think I've lost track of where I am! Let's see if this makes it better)))))).
Sigh. I just hope my future grandson will understand, as I lead him down to the fishing dock (note to self: must learn how to fish) and begin to tell him about the good old days and wander off into the golden pastures of my youth. Grandpa Kelley isn't senile - he's just spinning his wheels in the parking lot of his mind.
The problem with this is that it's so far removed from my world that I just can't get into it. Even if I did find myself on some sort of fantastic island with beautiful women on it, they wouldn't look twice at me (unless they needed someone to carry their bags). No, if this trend is to succeed we need shows that represent more of my world. So, offered for free to any Fox executives who may be reading, here are some sure-fire reality shows for this coming summer:
The Postal Zone
Workers are placed in the most dismal working conditions ever -- small cubicles, demanding bosses, low pay and mind numbing jobs. They are passed over for promotion and subjected to hours upon hours of time-wasting meetings. They are constantly reminded of how worthless they are.
But -- and this is the catch -- the break room is stocked with Uzis, Browning shotguns, grenade launchers and lots of very sharp knives. How long can they resist?
Fantasy Health Club
A dozen middle-aged individuals, struggling to stay in shape, are stranded at their favorite health club by the worst snowstorm to hit the area in years. The fun comes when a large vendor machine refilling truck slides out of control in the street in front and crashes into the entrance.
Who will be the first to jump, headfirst, into the mound of twinkies and ho-hos?
Ten men come home after a hard day at work and are fed a good meal and sat down in very comfortable recliners. In front of each man is a T.V. set, tuned to the latest Fox offerings.
How long will it be until the first falls deep asleep?
They keep sending me emails referring to me as a "loyal beta" when in reality their beta program is so screwed up they never reply to those applying for beta status in the first place (despite my repeated emails).. I'm beginning to become convinced it's merely a troll for customers.
In that particular case it makes sense -- no one I know would trust Iomega products for their backup needs. They are notoriously unreliable, and their latest product, FotoShow, is too little, too late. So I guess they're getting desperate for new customers.
Oh, did I mention the email they sent to me was so misformed the major portion was 100k of garbage. It takes an awful lot of incompentence to screw up an email.
It's a business axiom that the quality of any organization is reflected in every department. Trust me -- run, don't walk, away from anything made by this company.