Tap Tap… Is this thing on?

Every Thanksgiving I’m amazed at the shaming of consumers and particularly, how they “force” people to work on a holiday rather than stay at home with family. I have worked on a holiday¹, voluntarily, because there was work to be done and I needed the money. I valued the money I’d earn at least as much as I valued the free time I wanted. I don’t assume everyone who works retail on Thanksgiving is thrilled to do so. I don’t assume everyone who works retail on Thanksgiving is not thrilled to do so. This seems obvious to me.

I think that plays into a larger theme on Thanksgiving, and how we treat the preferences of others, generally. “What are you thankful for?” has an acceptable answer. “I’m thankful I live in a society where I can afford to buy quality products at a cheap price” isn’t it. “I’m thankful I have an opportunity to experience pointless cultural chaos on Black Friday because I enjoy the spectacle” isn’t it. It can’t be something trivial, and only the questioner decides what is and isn’t trivial.

I’ve shopped on Black Fridays in the past. Never early, but always on the day. I don’t now. My priorities have changed. I value my hours more. My needs have changed. I can afford to save time rather than money. Technology has changed. I bought my annual discounted iTunes gift card online² earlier this week. Why is saving 15% on money I’ll spend with Apple anyway somehow bad because I shopped near Thanksgiving?

I know I tend toward the margins of social opinion and preference. But we’re humans. We like rituals. I understand that. “What are you thankful for?” is less a question and more an agreement so we don’t feel alone. This value on rituals also helps explain Black Friday, I think, which is why I’d rather know the truth than participate in the script. I prefer your answer to the answer.

P.S. I almost apologized somewhere above for how tender and/or pretentious this probably is. Nah.

¹ New Year’s Day, so not exactly the same. And I was young and single. But I would’ve worked Thanksgiving and Christmas that year, if I could’ve. I earned $7.50 an hour as a recent college graduate. Every hour and dollar helped.

² I probably would’ve driven to Best Buy tomorrow afternoon in between making beer and watching hockey if it hadn’t been available online. It was, so I save the time and the money. If everyone did that, would the Best Buy retail workers like it?

Thankful for Capitalism

It might seem ridiculous to be thankful for capitalism today. It’s supposed to be about “important” things like family, health, and so on. I am, but so is everybody. But capitalism is how we’re able to gather together in comfortable houses, with food on the table, and football on our shiny HD televisions.

Today’s reprint of an old Calvin & Hobbes comic demonstrates this. The first panel:

I’m old enough to remember VCR rentals. Today, VCRs are obsolete, DVD players are cheap enough to be disposable, and our movies take up only a portion of a compact hard drive. Our lives are more enjoyable and more convenient because men and women have ideas and make them real. In an effort to make themselves richer, they make our lives better.

Life Lesson of the Day

I thought everyone knew this by now, but microwave ovens and metal containers do not mix. I’ve known this for twenty-five years. I also have second-hand experience proving this. I witnessed a beef sandwich quickly appear as its flaming foil wrapper melted away one evening while working fast food as a teenager. Yet, there I stood today in my office pantry, smelling the remnants of some food item burning inside an aluminum foil bowl inside the microwave. The fun was over before I arrived, but I established a mental note in the front of my mind to always know my location with respect to the nearest fire exits in my building. It appears I will need them at some future date.

As you were.

That’s true, that’s true.

While I’m being a little tender, reading blogs over the last five years or so has revealed an interesting demographic slant. Science-fiction loving atheists write almost 100% of the blogs I enjoy.

As I’ve learned, that’s a large population of libertarians, but it still seems strange to me. I’m not religious, in that organized religion is too interested in doctrine without concern for actual faith. I’m not much of a joiner, either. Still, I’m not an atheist. I move closer to that position all the time, but I doubt I’ll ever move further than my present agnostic-bent.

The love for science-fiction¹ is entirely new to me. I enjoy sci-fi movies like many Americans. I’ve just never given much thought to those stories in written form. I don’t know why. Probably the socially-awkward, introverted nerd stereotype blocked me, which is strange because, with a little more showering than the stereotype, I am the stereotype. But I’ve figured out that I should question my perception and be open-minded about it. I might like it. I’ve bought one audiobook novel, and I’ll probably borrow a few paperbacks from the library to give it a shot. (I’m open to suggestions for novels.)

I don’t find either of these mysterious. The connection to libertarianism is not only prevalent, it’s obvious. Reason provides the objective link to how individuals should be treated. I will abandon faith whenever reason demands it. And I love technology. I’m just amazed at how effortlessly, and without thought of wanting to know more about those two areas, that I came to having them both central in what I want to learn.

¹ I don’t foresee any future interest in Fantasy. Harry Potter is about as far into the fantasy genre as I can get.

I can (almost) die now.

I’ve mentioned a time or twenty-five that I love Alias. I’ve carried this love so far as to see The Paris Letter in New York, even though the Broadway cast did not include Neil Patrick Harris, because it starred Ron Rifkin, aka Arvin Sloane. The play was actually interesting, but that wouldn’t have mattered. With a primary cast member from Alias, my ticket purchase is guaranteed.

So it was with Cyrano de Bergerac. It does not star a primary cast member of Alias. During its 10-week run, it stars THE primary cast member of Alias, Sydney Bristow Jennifer Garner.

I purchased tickets the morning they went on sale for the first weekend, which happens to be this weekend. The show is in previews for the first two weeks, which meant there would potentially be “issues” with the show. That didn’t matter. Jennifer Garner. I’d pay to watch dress rehearsal, which turned out to be kinda what we saw. As Danielle recapped today:

… Kevin Kline basically carries the whole show, and is marvelous, but one man can’t carry an entire Anthony Burgess adaptation of the classic tale, y’know? At several points, when Kline wasn’t on stage or speaking, I felt like I was watching a high school theater club. After one scene change, the translucent curtain got caught and the entire production had to stop for ten minutes so some crew guys could come out and fix it. Quite hilarious and a first for me. We think we even caught Jennifer Garner starting to laugh. Even with all of its missteps and faults, the audience rose to their feet for curtain call, cheering Kline’s worthy performance.

Basically, the show is a disaster in its current form, despite the presence of Kevin Kline. The opening scenes desperately need a trim. The cast needs to act with each other rather than at each other. Someone needs to figure out how to operate the curtain. And so on.

But Jennifer Garner! And being a Broadway play, two more words come into play: stage door. I did not get an autograph like I recently managed from Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal while they performed in their return to Rent, but being up close was worth driving to New York to spend barely six hours in the city.

It’s August. Prep-work for the heartbreak must occur.

It’s that time of year again. Summer is winding down. The last whiffs of meat charring on barbecue grills are in the air. Temperatures are making a final push higher before their looming decline into autumn. School buses are getting waxed and refueled. The Phillies are making a push for the post-season.

For the better part of the last seven years, the Phillies have followed the same routine. Slump horribly in April. Play en fuego throughout May. Swoon rhymes with June for a reason. July brings an improbable hint of life. The last few sputters in the playoff engine burn out in the first days of August as the team pulls itself back into contention. Playoff optimism fever strikes the Phandom. And at some point, this always happens:

Despite every persistent, justified note of pessimism, the Phillies have a chance. The road to the playoffs is clear, lit up like Clark Griswold’s house at Christmas. Phans begin scanning travel websites to figure out the myriad of possibilities for traveling to the World Series League Championship Series Divisional playoffs. Optimism is the only rule of the day.

Yet, somewhere in the back of every phan’s mind, he or she knows. We’ve been here before. This time isn’t going to be different. The collection of tickets to playoff games that never happened litter the hidden memorabilia box in the closet, tucked into the original envelope because they’re too painful to look at every day. The hot streaks will come to a close somewhere in September. The details of the script aren’t set, although we can’t shake the feeling that our nation’s capital is now the swamp where Philadelphia’s October dreams go to die. How will it happen this year? That’s all we can think about.

And yet, this year is no different. We want to believe, so we let ourselves believe. We allow a brief glimpse of “what if this year is different?” slip through the cracks of our mental barricades. Maybe, we think, we’ll be able to look back on this team the way we look back at 1993. That team shouldn’t have succeeded the way it did. Even with the almost fulfillment of the goal that year, that was our team. “They” became “we”. We almost won it all. We could taste it. It was ours. We love those guys. We want these guys to mean as much to us as those guys. We wonder if it can happen again.

Like every other phan who’s checking scores from around the league every day to see how the Phightin’s are holding up for October, we know how this will end, except we allow ourselves to get suckered sucked in once again. We’re along for the ride, even when we expect it to crash horribly and, inevitably, far too short of the road’s end. We believe this year will be different.

Please let it be different this year.

Here’s something to lighten the mood.

I’ve been mostly unable to think of anything other than Virginia Tech this week. Regular blogging will return tomorrow or Friday. For now, I’ll content myself with going to the Phillies-Nationals game tonight instead of watching the media vultures continue to make irresponsible assumptions and conclusions.

Until I can offer more, enjoy this video of The Smoosh. Danielle and I adopted The Smoosh last summer from a rescue organization. The Smoosh was neglected and used mostly for breeding by an unscrupulous individual who found it more interesting to perpetuate a genetic mutation¹ than to respect animals. Anyway, her playful side breaks through her angry disposition sometimes. I captured this over the weekend. Enjoy.

¹ The Smoosh is a Himalayan Munchkin,so her legs are exceptionally short. Her primary difficulty is in properly cleaning herself because she can’t reach parts of her body.

Thought for the Day

I like this, from Annie Sertich’s blog, Jesus’ Favorite:

As I drove myself back from Hollywood tonight, I turned off the radio, got off the phone, and just made another car memory. One that involved just silence. And as I drove in silence, I heard my Dad’s tears. His regrets. His sadness. It broke my heart.

And THEN, just as I was pulling up to my place, I heard her. Her laughter from the passenger seat. Her singing along to Donna Summer. Her telling me. What to remember. “Don’t wait. Don’t fucking wait. Do what you want to do, NOW. Be with who you want to be with NOW. Believe in what you want to believe in, NOW. ‘Cuz in 6 months or 8 months or 7 years, it may be too late. “

They waited. They fucking waited. Waited until the savings account looked ok, and the job was done. But cancer didn’t. And now my Dad drives that car alone.

I don’t envy having to go through such experiences, but that’s great writing.