iRant: Two Wrongs Making Right?

I'm a video gaming fan and spent more than my fair share of time at arcades as a teenager. You know, back in the day when arcades were at their prime. We're talking the whole arc of Pole Position to Rampage to Street Fighter and the Mortal Kombats. And so so many more. Then, much like video killed the radio star, console stations killed the arcade star. An era ended.

But hark! The arcade spirit has been revived, possibly in the worst way conceivable. That's right, I'm here to diss the "participation" games that boggle the mind and bog down my strength -- Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero.

First off, I want to say that Nintendo is totally immune to this rant. First off, they were kicking it cool way back in the 80's with the Nintendo Power Pad, that orange gun, and the Power Glove. And now they revolutionized gaming with the Wii console, which even old folks enjoy. Bless you, Nintendo for doing your own thing : )

Compare that to Dance Dance Revolution. Which is basically Exercise Exercise Revolution. And while this country desperately needs such a thing, let's call it what it is. Cuz I've seen people stomping around on those things. And that ain't dancin', Sally. Not only is it a Power Pad rip-off, but people already lacking rhythm can muster up the perceived confidence and hope that they can bust a move. Problem is, off the dance pad, you'll look like (more of) a jackass doing your new-age hopscotch. I'd even take line-dancing over this, which is saying a lot. Aaaaaand I just vomitted in my mouth.

And damn you Best Buy for prominently featuring Guitar Hero in every single store you operate. I can't browse new CD's or movies without having to elbow past the lurking crowds of Guitar Hero on-lookers. And I can't decide what's more lame - playing the game, or being fascinated by watching someone play the game. First off, there's nothing to watch, except a Star Wars "Long, long time ago..." scrolling representation of "guitar tabs." Wow. Moving sheet music. C'mon, people! Someone has managed to make air guitar MORE lame and profit from it! Which is the basis of capitalism, sure, but I don't have to like it! Secondly, guitars have strings, not four giant colored buttons -- that's called a toddler's toy. Which is probably the aisle of Toys R Us where that faux-tar belongs.

So I've decided the only way to respect these games and their gamers is if someone can master them both... simultaneously. That's right, I propose Dance Dance Guitar Hero as the next sensation. People must coordinate guitar moves whilst dancing out a certain pattern... whilst on drugs. That's right, if you really want to shred like a rocker, you need to be on a poorly balanced regimen of booze, pills, and blow. Then you can bust out your phrenetic "Dance Fever" moves until you smash your guitar into your equipment, cuss out your fanbase, and have casual sex with several groupies. Then you wake up hammered, apologize on national television about your inappropriate behavior, and declare you are going into healing.

Then, and only then, will you be a true Dance Dance Guitar Hero. Otherwise, get the hell out of my way at Best Buy. Dorks.

The Rabbit-Hole to Home

Sunday I fell into a vortex.

I found myself in a sea of colors and shapes. They appeared in combinations and forms that were dazzling. The gravity was keeping me there, but I didn't fight it, no. I was content. I was elated. I was visiting Ikea.

Every showroom was a presentation. A possibility. My bedroom could look like that. I could be sitting on this couch amidst the accent lighting and the artistic color patterns and shelves and cabinets that seemed to float in mid air. My packing problems were solved. My spatial understanding of the world erased and redrawn. Each showroom, a promise of novelty. Each showroom, another finished puzzle in which all pieces snapped perfectly. If I could fit all those pieces in my car, surely I could complete my puzzle back home.

But why leave? When I entered the model apartment of a mere 377 square feet, I thought it was an illusion. How could they complete a living space like that? It was engineered perfection, every nook with a purpose or a function. Space had been mastered. I wanted to kick these strange people out of my home, close it off from the showroom, take it away and put it in my ideal neighborhood. It was mine now. MY-kea.

Jay and the Bus

It's high time I let you all in on my newest musical and movie obsession, which are co-linked, co-mingled, and co-ol.

A while back I had read up some buzz on an indy flick called "Shortbus." Being a fan of good indy films, I couldn't resist checking it out. Of course, I now know why this film never was or will be mainstream. Because it's too good. But more to the point, it has unsimulated sex scenes that don't leave the imagination much material.

So I know this isn't everyone's movie. And that's fine. But a few things to dispell as readers will no doubt jump to conclusions (like the floor game in "Officespace"). First off, it's not softcore porn. Porn has sex for the sake of having sex. Or for arousal purposes. This movie doesn't use sex in that way. It's difficult to describe, but I honestly cannot imagine this movie without it. It would feel like a cop-out. And I just realized I could rearrange that sentence to come up with "cop a feel." Gutter mind.

Serially though, it's an honest portrayal of sex. From the couples counselor who has never had an orgasm to the dominatrix who just wants a real connection with another person, there's honesty in this movie. And the sex isn't pretty. It's messy, it's awkward, and it doesn't always end with two people showing their "O" faces in a simultaneous climax (because that happens so often). And now I've made it sound like this movie is nothing but intercourse. Which is not true.

The characters and the dialogue have heart. My favorite person in this movie is Jay Brannan, who plays Ceth. There's something so inviting and charming about Jay. His smile and his laugh can ease my darkest mood. And then I found out he's a musician. The song he sings in the movie (Soda Shop) is intercut with one of my favorite scenes because it's funny and touching. It's just about a conversation between three people. Jay's voice sets the mood, and it's beautiful. After the movie was over, I hunted him down on the internet and found out he has a ton of videos on YouTube and songs for purchase on i-Tunes (including "Soda Shop"). God bless modern distribution technology.

There's so much more I love about this movie. It's set against this rather memorable moment in recent history (I remembered it, at least), but I won't give it away in case you want to see the movie. Some of the best lines go to Justin Bond, who runs the sex salon called Shortbus, a place for the gifted and challenged, as he puts it. The soundtrack really rocks in a "Garden State" kind of way, only with less-known artists. A few highlights include "Language" by Scott Matthews and "If You Fall" by Azure Ray. And of course, "Soda Shop" by Jay.

This movie really affected me. It made me think about a lot of things. And I feel the decision to have explicit sexuality was a way to make the actors, and thus, the characters more vulnerable and accessible. And that takes guts and guile for those folks. And it makes the experience more real in a way the mainstream can't reach. I appreciate it for that.

So check out my new Fake Boyfriend Jay! I've included links to a few of my faves:

- Body's a Temple (official video)

- On All Fours (with some Jayspeak)

- Soda Shop (from live show)

- Blowin' in the Wind (Bob Dylan cover)

The Intersection at the End of the World

Okay, if I have to creep forward into the middle of an intersection just to see around someone’s SUV Monstrosity so I can make a right turn, I’m going to scream. Leave the land barge at home, you jackoff. Or better yet, why don’t you pull up to stop lights, throw your tank into Neutral, drop your foot on the accelerator, and pump all those noxious fumes into the air. Maybe we can combat global warming with global dimming, and all will be well, so long as American Idol isn’t interrupted by some far-off school shooting. Oh look, a celebrity did something human. Let’s watch!

So this non-targeted rant was just a precursor for what is truly pissing me off. Stupid people who think this idea of global warming is a hoax, farce, and so forth by liberal scientists and God-less tax raisers. In case you’ve missed it, we don’t live in the Dark Ages anymore. Well, maybe we really do.

I mean, basically almost every country in the world (160 to be exact) has signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol. That basically means that all those countries will play by the rules and take active steps to limit their greenhouse gas emissions. But wait, the two biggest gas bags of the world haven’t gotten on board with reality. China, for one. No shock. And guess what, President Stay-The-Course won’t ratify the treaty either. Because China’s exempt. Yeah, that's mature. You know, it’s like, “Billy dudn’t have to wash up before supper, so why should I hafta?”

Way to lead the world there, Jackwad. Isn’t this country supposed to be about progress, leadership, and moral values? I guess morality doesn’t extend to how we treat this planet. You know, our true Mother. I guess morality doesn’t extend to respecting our elders, like the oceans, the forests, the drinking water, and the limited natural resources. I suppose morality is reserved only for phony wars, political favors, and Jesus. And if you don’t believe me, here’s an insight. About 150 of those employed in the Bush Administration are graduates of Regent University, founded by the illustrious Evangelical profiteer Pat Robertson himself. Can I get an Amen? Or can I get a Holy Shit!? Maybe we’re being run by a shadow Theocracy after all. And in this Theocracy, holy water has been replaced with holy sweet crude.

But let’s get away from conspiracy and politics and focus on some facts. The statistics are (of course) my own brand of generalization:

- We are dumping assloads of CO2 into the atmosphere.
- We are sucking oil out of the earth at a continually increasing rate.
- Glaciers are disappearing at a more-than-glacial pace.
- There are islands of trash (flotsam and jetsam) floating around in the oceans.
- The oceans are becoming more and more acidic.
- The Southern Ocean “sink” is literally clogged. It can absorb basically no more CO2 at the current rate.

No logical person can dispute these observable events. And how many can we brush off as non-human influenced? You may like the politican spin, but I prefer to get my spin from a know-it-all. Like a non-partisan atmospheric scientist who didn't graduate from Messiah College. I'd rather hear ideas from someone who's paid to empirically investigate, not someone who's paid to push agendas. Everyone take their places and stay out of shoes you cannot fill.

I take pause to look around me and want to break down. People have the audacity to pretend there's no issue? Or better yet, claim conspiracy? And who would do such a thing? Loyalist Conservative Republicans? The same people caught in a big fucking bottomless pit of quagmires? The same people running this country…into the ground?

And who’s letting them? Consumers. Producers. SUV drivers. Did you know that states with emissions checks for automobiles are unable to properly test the Toyota Prius? And why’s that? Because the Prius cannot be registered by the instruments. That’s right, the car fails the test because it’s a super ultra low emissions vehicle (SULEV). It emits almost nothing. Look at the emissions guides on the sticker next time you check out a new car. Look at the Chrysler 300. Or the Lincoln Navigator. Or my favorite, the aptly named Nissan Armada. If you choked at the abysmal results, maybe it wasn’t surprise that strangled you. Perhaps it was a smog cloud.

So call the Prius ugly and its driver a hippy. And call the person who buys into reality a conspiracy theorist. And call the person who carpools, takes the bus, or finds ways to limit consumption, an idealist. But call the people who ride their bikes when they can (you know, that Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) you have in the garage)... call them contributors to a healthier society. And if it saves a few dollars by not consuming gasoline, I’d say this sounds like a policy any conservative would get behind, right? Wrong.

Because we don’t have those kind of conservatives in power. We don’t have those kinds of conservatives as the majority of the American consumer public. I’m talking about the fiscal conservatives. The conscientious spender. You remember them don’t you? Along with the dodo bird? What we need to spend more of is time. Time spent thinking about the decisions we make. Because the lure of shiny objects is blinding. And the deep pocket of credit debt is a siren’s song. And It’s calling us to shore, but worry not about running aground. For the shores are eroding and the glaciers are melting in an acidic cocktail stirred by super-hurricanes. We won't stop until our existence is the shithole movie that was "
Waterworld." And that, friends, is one sobering possibility.

So drink up, whilst you still can. Because the next war will not be fought over oil. It will be fought over drinking water. Soon, that $2.50 bottle of water will be little more than the mirage in the desert.

Here’s to you, global warming non-believers. Your ignorance is bliss.

Here Comes The Judge

So I'm here to report another fascinating visit with Therapist. This time around, I had packed up my emotional baggage and dropped it at her curbside. "Porter, help me with my things!"

Anyway, we got onto the topic of social evaluation. For many reasons, I'm hyper-sensitive to being evaluated negatively or criticized by (and here's the strange hitch) people I don't know. Most of that stems from being born with alopecia and having basically little to no hair until fifth grade. As I'm sure we all have experienced, kids can be relentlessly cruel for anyone who stands out. Sometimes it made me want to disappear. Oh yeah, and being nerdy and a late bloomer didn't help either!

Enter the coping skills. I have become a consummate self-monitor and understand my obsessions, faults, and quirks so well. To the point that when I realize I'm overanalyzing too much or being grouchy, I'll make sure to verbally recognize that part of me. I do it so that other people don't have to say it, and if they are thinking it, they know I'm aware of that character flaw. How kooky is that?

Therapist agreed that it had a protective function for me. It's my way to garner acceptance and maintain self-esteem. She called it The Judge. See, The Judge is a part that starts off with a purpose. I listened to The Judge, befriended him. But soon The Judge became something more sinister and malevolent. He tries to take over the true self, gain power. He's digging down into my core, trying to become the real me.

I can totally see this. I'm hardest on myself, but I'm hard on other people, too. It's easy to point a finger, roll eyes, and pound the gavel. Guilty. It's easy to sit in that high leather chair and look down at people from behind the oak monolith desk. But is that really me?

I think I mentioned that Therapist utilizes Gestalt techniques. Primarily, it's important to Gestaltists that people work toward a unified, whole self. That's my crisis. It's me and The Judge.

But how do you erase those old tapes? You hear the voices so much it becomes a song you hum in the shower. The annoying pop song. You don't think about the lyrics, you just sing. And though you can't stand it, something catchy won't let it vanish. The brain is hooked. So what to do? Record over it? Flip it over to the B-side?

I told Therapist it was like being in a fun house of mirrors. I can point fingers all I want, but the reflection is always me. Now I realize it's The Judge who is pointing back. He's the reflection that looks at me and sees the flaws. The imperfections. And in every direction, he's there.

Now that I know what he really represents, it's time to keep him in check. Limit his authority over me. And kick him in the junk. I've had enough of his poisonous whispers. This head isn't big enough for the both of us.

My Baby's A Winner!

I know, like, two people will care about this post. But then, only ten people consistently read this thing, so whatever!

Like a proud father, I've just learned that my lil' darling Andrew is a true winner! The Mazdaspeed 3 was pitted against some steep competition by - MINI Cooper S, Honda Civic Si, and the Volkswagon GTI. And my car was king of the streets : )

Of course, Andrew is black (the only color worth having)

I don't know why, but it made me feel better about my purchase. I'm by no means a gearhead, but I certainly appreciate a car that performs well. And because I enjoy the experience of motoring, I like to know I'm doing it in a machine that is well-balanced and fun to take through the bends.

AND it's ironic because I sold my MINI for this car. The funny part is that many folks at the MINI discussion boards are conceding the truth about the Mazda, which is odd because MINI people are big-time believers in their cars. I know, I was one of them.

Anyway, that's about it. If you're interested, here a link to the Motoringfile website that will take you to the full review. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to grab some pavement.

Happy motoring!