Sunday, July 30, 2006

Finishing up (and thinking about) old projects

Today I am going to invite you to indulge me one last time, reading my last two The Authority Speaks columns that I wrote as the sports editor of one of my old college newspapers.

The first one is a reflection on Arthur Ashe, who died the week before this column was published.

The second one was my last column. I wonder now if some of the things I wrote weren't unconsciously chosen by me to reflect my desire to end the job. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't fired or run out by the readers. I was burned out from trying to run too many things on a very small staff. I had no experience and precious little training at this job. I decided that it was causing too many sleepless nights and too much stress at a time when my school work was the main thing to be focusing on.

The other thing I am offering up to you today is a brief piece I wrote in response to Alton Brown's new show--Feasting on Asphalt.

I really enjoyed the show, but it got me thinking about roads not taken.

Friday, July 28, 2006

stuff

I have gone about a week with nothing to write.

My apologies.

However, I'll take a few minutes to drop some bits of wonder and thought on ya.

1. When did it become necessary to always use the adjective "zesty" with the word Italian? For instance, in my house right now is a bottle of zesty Italian salad dressing as well as zesty Italian croutons.

If I favored Italian dressing at all on my salads, the zest would be overflowing!

2. Remember WWYG?! Omnimedia? I still do!

3. Have you ever watched Veronica Mars? Neither have I . . . until I Netflixed season 1. It's awesome! The best show with a teenage girl since Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I'll stop there for now. Over the weekend I'll try to get back into stuff that's been sitting around but needs to be discussed.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Art and Auteurs

Does it seem darker than it should for July? Maybe that's because Night is falling everywhere you look.

I mean M. Night Shyamalan, of course. His latest movie "experience," Lady in the Water was out in theaters on Friday.

It seems that everyone has an opinion on Night--both his latest movie and more importantly, it seems, his "fitness" as a director and self-styled visionary. Most people that I have been reading lately seem to think that the bloom began falling off his rose when Unbreakable came out and that rose really began to wither with Signs.

A typical review along this line comes from Newsweek, which went so far as to declare that Shyamalan needs a Career Intervention.

Ross Douthat over at Slate.com is more charitable to Night's fate. While admitting that his recent movies haven't lived up to the promise of The Sixth Sense, Douthat finds things to admire and support in what Shyamalan does. I think what he is saying is that he's not a hack. Maybe he's got something of an overinflated sense of self-worth, but he's got talent.

At that is where Night's problems lie. He is so convinced of his own importance that he won't take no for an answer or listen to reason. And, just as importantly, he keeps getting the money he needs to make the movies he wants to make. I give him credit for sticking to his artistic vision, but sometimes, maybe he should consider what the overall value of that vision is.

You can get some insight into this with a recent Entertainment Weekly story that excerpts the book mentioned by some anti-Night articles which chronicles his trials in making Lady in the Water. People against Night say that it displays his hubris. People supporting him probably claim that it show's his determination to make movies his way and not be cowed by losers in suits that sit behind desks. (Wouldn't Wes Anderson say the same thing?)

So, what we're getting at here is expectations, right?

If The Sixth Sense had never done well and maybe if M. Night had taken this success differently (how?), then maybe he wouldn't have been tagged with the auteur label. And then maybe expectations wouldn't have been so high for his next films and come with the resultant disappointments . . .

Is Night supposed to be a successful film-maker or is he supposed to be an auteur? Does this article make it easier or does it complicate the whole question?

What is more important . . . success or art? Respect or self-respect? And is that even the result here?

Now, once you answer that question for yourself . . . where does THIS story fit into everything?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Birthday wishes

Today is Sarah's sixth birthday.

Sarah is six-years-old today.

She'll tell you all about it.

this is an audio post - click to play


Grace also had her birthday at the end of June. Why haven't I written about it? For the same reason that I didn't write about Lynda's birthday on July 1 or our 11th anniversary on July 8. (I don't have a good reason, really.) We've been traveling a lot and Lynda's been out of town a lot and . . .

At least I have some pictures of Grace's party. We haven't pulled off Sarah's party yet. (See aforementioned traveling--both for pleasure and business.)




I reckon I'll provide appropriate pictures for Sarah's party when it occurs.

Go on Grace, tell us how you feel.

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

An Arizona Story, the first day

After flying into Phoenix and sleeping overnight around the airport we had our breakfast at the Hampton Inn continental breakfast and set out for the first leg of our Arizona adventure--to parts north and the Grand Canyon.

Sure, I hinted about the differences between the Southern/Midwestern "humid" heat and the fabled Southwestern "dry" heat. What they neglect to emphasize, however, is the common element of HEAT!!

Hot is hot, I'm here to tell you. Though, if pressed, I might prefer the dry heat--which put me in mind of the heat you feel when you open an oven door . . . that kind of skin-puckering slap in the face--because it didn't make me sweat through my shirts all the time. If you aren't polyhydrotic like me, then that might not be a problem.

But, its not always about the heat.

Sometimes it's about snacks.

Or cactus (of various varieties).

Or maybe it's about getting higher and higher in elevation.

Or, possibly, it's about stopping and going to the bathroom (more often than you thought you might).

But, in the end, this part of the journey was all about one thing--

--one great honkin' hole in the ground!

See it; know it; LOVE it!!

Coming up next?

We head South, towards Mexico, more desert, more cacti, and more family!

Stay tuned!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lynda's debut, part TWO

Don't listen to this until you have heard the post below!!

this is an audio post - click to play

For more information on the Caverns, please visit this site.

Lynda's posting debut!

Well, after Sven's notice that my malady of "depressed phone voice" has hampered my ability to properly describe the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, I think it's time to let my lovely wife lend her dulcet voice to the proceedings.

this is an audio post - click to play

NOTE: I'm not REALLY upset about your comment Sven. Keep coming back!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Art and Exploitation

We're preparing to leave on a big ole jet airliner for Arizona later today.

I am hope finishing up some packing--of clothes, snacks, iPod, coloring books. Lynda is wrapping up some loose ends at work and probably should be home soon.

But . . . before we depart, I wanted to pass along some thoughts on an article I just read over on Slate.com.

The story, as you can see, is about a photographic artist that is presenting some pictures of young children in the midst of a tantrum. The artist justifies this with some reflections on how these images made her think about the horrible things that our government is doing and how it will put our kids in a world of hurt ("Their pain is a precursor of what is to come.")

I agree with the author's assertion that this "artistic" assertion is a whole lot of yada, yada, yada. It seems a bit too overblown.

But the controversy is about how these photos were taken. Apparently, in order to achieve the tantrum, the photographer teased, denied, mistreated? the kids to achieve the blow up. That, predictably, has others crying CHILD ABUSE and more overstatements.

First . . . does this rise to the level of child abuse? I don't think so. Is it a crass and contemptible way to achieve photos that have a pretty tenuous basis for artistic credibility? Seems that way. But everyone seems so ready to jump to the worst conclusions about the photographer.

Second . . . what also bothers me is the notion in the second half of the article that seems to indicate that any methods is acceptable if great art is the result. The specific quotes here are: "As Faulkner once said, 'If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies.' . . . [B]ad art neither deserves nor receives the kind of moral pass that Faulkner was endorsing. An asshole who makes great art is an asshole who makes great art; but an asshole who makes lousy art is just an asshole."

So, you can condemn the artist, but you have to acknowledge the art, even if it was achieved through disturbing means? Where does the art separate from the artist? How much time has to pass? Is this like baseball player Ty Cobb, whom everyone acknowledges was a world-class jerk and racist, but just happened to be a great baseball player too?

Thirdly . . . am I exploiting people by blogging about them and displaying their photographic image without their consent?

Discuss amongst yourselves . . .

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Inside My Parental Mind

Following Spec's wedding weekend, while Raisinette and I were walking through the botanical gardens and waiting for the reception dinner to begin, she asked me how I would describe being a parent, what made it a different experience than say, being single or having no kids.

There are countless ways to answer this question and an equal number of individuals who would provide different answers than I. Because, obviously, (and despite what reams of how-to parenting guides say) there is no right answer here. The answers are a description of how human beings interact with each other, teach each other, and respond to each other. Therefore, every response and every situation is different. Therefore, my answers are relative.

But, here are some answers--and an especially illuminating thought on this topic that I realized during my recent trip to Georgia.

First, here are SOME random descriptions on what being a parent means to me:

I wasn't burning up the party scenes prior to 2000, but kids will slow down the social life. The girls would rather stay home attempting to get me to let them watch "High School Musical" or creating imaginary games with Byzantine rules than hanging out with my friends.

If you are a bad, lazy parent like me, your familiarity with such things as Disney Channel, Noggin, Dan Zanes, Raffi, Young Einsteins, the Koala Brothers, Jack Johnson, the Wiggles, and countless other bits of the childrens' media empire become as familiar to you as the cost of a gallon of milk, what work meeting you've got on Wednesday, and all the other "important" stuff that we keep in our brains.
If you are a GOOD, THOUGHTFUL parent, then your brilliant child will be driving a Lexus and doing logarithms in their head while my kid graduates from state college and spends his/her spare time blogging during work hours.

ANYWAY . . . on to the illuminating thought.

While we were in the Atlanta area, Lynda and the kids and I tagged along while MSquared, VM, and their two girls attended their end of season swim team celebration. The event was trophy presentations, ice cream, and culminated with a slide show of photos of all the swim team kids at practice, at play, and at meets. (There were, for point of reference, about 70 to 80 kids attending this event.) I didn't know any of them other than my two nieces, so when the slideshow began I decided to try and pick them out of the photographic crowd.

And here is where the realization began. I noticed that I was calculating the separate number of photos for each girl as the came up on the screen. And then I wondered if this was something that MSquared was doing. Because, if it were my girls at a swim meet event like this, one that featured photos, I can bet that they would somehow notice if one sibling was shown in more photos than the other.

So, I guess, that is another aspect of parenting. Would you call it living in fear? Nah! Maybe it's just being paranoid; maybe it's just being prepared for . . . whatever might happen. Maybe this only reflects badly on me or something. But, it's an honest reflection of some of the thoughts that occur to me from time to time.

Make what you want out of it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Georgia Southern in the news?

(Click on the post title to be sent to the ESPN story.)

I am a graduate of Georgia Southern University . . . as any reader of Why Won't You Write?! already knows.

But GSU is a smallish school with a smallish sports program. It has won championships in Division I-AA, but that is a smaller division--a division that doesn't get media coverage.

So, then today I see this ESPN story about the death of a GSU football player that tragically died a few days after a motorcycle accident.

I don't intend to make light of what happened or to diminish the pain that the family is feeling, but I have to automatically wonder why this story got mentioned on the WorldWide Leading Sports website.

Call it the Roethlisburger Effect.

Back in the saddle

(I wonder if anyone will check my blog before they check my desk chair? Doubt it . . .)

We made it home yesterday.

What should have been about 11 hours of driving turned into around 13 hours of going and going and going. . .

Kentucky ruined everything due to very hard rain which led to slow (but safer) driving speeds and a resulting delay in transit speed. Plus we got stuck in crawling traffic in Kentucky as well. It never seems to happen in Tennessee and it always happens in areas where there are no alternative routes. It just slams right into you and you go nowhere.

But, home again, unpacked, tried to unwind a bit.

The house always has a bit of an unreal quality once you come back after being gone for a while. It feels a bit more staged than lived in. But then we start piling things up and it looks like home again.

I've got to catch up at work--at least I only missed two actual work days--and answer some important emails. Then I'll see if anything vital occurred in my absence. It doesn't seem so at this point in the day.

This afternoon I knock off work early to take Sarah to a dental appointment.

This weekend is the 11th wedding anniversary. I REALLY need to swing a babysitter so we can go see Superman Returns.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My Georgia fish story


Aaron's lament
Originally uploaded by PRPL33.
Well, here on our last day in South Georgia, I went pond fishin' with my brother Muleskinner.

We spent about an hour out by the pond and managed to catch a few largish bass in Muleskinner's friend's pond. We reckon this one (the first one that I reeled in) was about 6 pounds or so.

It was midday, so the fish weren't all that interested in biting. But it was a good time spent anyway.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Time to write

Coming to you live from beautiful Tifton, Georgia . . . where the humidity is high, the gnats are plentiful, and the temperature is always above 90.

It's been a good visit to this point. We had a (relatively) easy drive down to suburban Atlanta on Friday. We spent Friday night with MSquared (my oldest brother) and his family. Friday night was punctuated with a visit to the end-of-season swim meet celebration for my two nieces who are 10 and 7. The event featured a great many trophies for all the swimmers, plenty of ice cream, and a slide show of the teams greatest moments of the past five weeks. I think Sarah and Grace appreciated the ice cream a great deal and it might have motivated Sarah to work a bit harder on her swimming.

The next day we all caravaned down to Tifton, GA and began invading my parent's home. With my family of four, my oldest brother's family of four, and my sister MA's own family of . . . four, and Muleskinner's family of two (counting Rupert the Wonder Dog), its been a crowded house. Luckily, my sister lives a few blocks away, so there are other places to go. And Dad has a big yard (if you are willing to sit under the enormous shade of the pecan tree to escape the sun. Unfortunately, you can't escape the humidity. (It's a wet heat in Georgia, you know . . .)

Today (Sunday) was mostly spent at MA's house playing and swimming in her backyard pool. MA and EB provided a great spread of hamburgers and delicious grilled Greek chicken. Lynda and I spend some good time talking to Dad about his work experiences and comparing it to our own. It reawakened a desire in me to read more about the history of his company. (I once thought of making that the subject of a research topic, but I don't even know if it's possible. I think it would be interesting, however.) Tonight, after the kids had gone to bed, many of the adults played some poker with fictitious money. I ended the night with $20.50 more imaginary money than when I began.

Tomorrow MSquared and his family are heading back home to Greater Atlanta. It'll probably be more playing with the kids and spending some time talking and catching up with family. No commitment has been made to seeing Superman Returns yet, but I am sure that it will come.

I don't feel that I have spent adequate time providing illuminating details of the experience so far. I'll try to be more expressive next time.