Friday, March 27, 2015

Random Rant 158: A Random Day

I went to the lake today. It was one of those perfect Arizona days. The sun warmed your back while the cool breeze was chilly enough to give rise to a light smattering of goosebumps. As always there were planes coming and going from Sky Harbor and nearby vehicles on the 202, but it was peaceful regardless. It may have been because I decided not to wear my hearing aids too.

I shared my french fries with an adolescent gosling. He was so small, but his feet were enormous. When several others of his flock joined us, he decided he preferred their company to mine. He swam away and took his flock with him. I was out of fries anyway.

I saw a chihuahua in a life vest riding a kayak. Its owner stood before it paddling and its little body lurched with every stroke. I resumed reading after they sailed by. It's Vonnegut today. Hocus Pocus. I've never read it before. It's funny and dry and very direct. I can already see its affect on my writing. I love when that happens.

I have no reason for writing this, except that it happened. Today happened. I often sit and think about all the days I've observed that, for some reason or another, I've forgotten. So thus my observation of today. Will I do this regularly? I tell myself I will. But I probably won't. I know me. I'm lazy and I never have enough time.

I walked after my butt started to hurt from the warmed concrete I sat on. I walked until the sun ended. Basically where the Arts building blocked the afternoon sun.

There were lovers under the train bridge. Dogs out walking their humans. A boy who found immense amusement quacking at the geese. An older father, at least ten years senior to his wife, comforted a crying baby in a striped onesie. There's a sweet elderly couple walking hand in hand that makes you wonder what their story is. And a young couple, laughing and smiling, but sitting so far apart they might as well be on different continents. Although I saw them kiss twice.

Runners jog, their footfalls like steady heartbeats when you know their own heart really races two or three times that.

There was a pregnant woman on a yoga ball with weights, a man, presumably her partner, behind her and rubbing her back. And a teenage boy, of like mind with me, sitting atop a concrete hill, writing.

I left when the temperature shifted a discernible degree or two, the sun beginning it's descent. Admittedly I have things to do anyway. Groceries. I'll need to eat at some point. Besides I'm uncomfortably cool now and the car will be warmed from sitting in the sun.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Storytelling? by Joe Schwartz

A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Storytelling?

Being in a band is no different than being in a marriage except instead of having to take just one person’s crap, you’re taking BS from three other people. But so what? The downsides are no more awful than if you are a lawyer or construction worker. You do it either because you love it or the money is great, but every day you get up and give it your best hoping today will be better. 

Musicians, by nature, are anti-social. And if they are successful, then they are real egomaniacs to boot (see: asshole). I spent years chasing a music dream that was less likely to come true than winning the Powerball… twice. But money isn’t everything. Sometimes having a cool story to tell while passing the old peace pipe around with your buddies is worth it. Cool never goes out of style and is rarely forgotten among dudes. You can be sixty years-old, attending your kid’s college graduation or your mother’s funeral, and goddamn if one of your friends doesn’t ask you to tell that story again about that time you served breakfast to Journey and then went to Illinois on a beer run for them at 4am. The currency of such things is impossible to forget, unless, of course, they happened to you.

Think about this, even if you work for a famous musician, like Elvis or Michael Jackson, you can be famous by proxy. Cashing in when a star dies is almost as American as apple pie, baseball, and Chevrolet. The morbid curiosity, the re-examination of every miniscule moment no matter how irrelevant, seems not only morbid but disturbing. 

But what if you were the star, the object of affection, or derision, then what?

That was a jumping off point for me to write Ladies and Gentlemen: Adam Wolf and the Cook Brothers – A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Rock&Roll. I personally have been in a few good bands, tons of awful ones, and roadied for a few guys along the way. You think its all champagne and blow-jobs when you have a number one record, that is until you find yourself pushing road cases for a guy whose brother drives the bus, mother sells the t-shirts, and big sister books the gigs. That he has to do 200+ gigs a year to break even; everything from State Fairs, theaters, and auditoriums to bars and private parties. And yet, those terrible details are the things fans want to hear about as much as what it was like to win a Grammy for Album of The Year, or to have been in a movie, literally in a background scene as the band, for which the dudes got a thousand dollars, minus 15% for their useless manager, and the production company gets the right to use the band’s name in perpetuity on every movie poster like a drunk whore uses lipstick. 

As someone who has had to split a Happy Meal between three other guys, who has had to sell his car to get music gear and weed only to later having to sell said gear when the band broke up, I wanted to give readers possibly the most intimate experience they could hope to have without having to learn how to keep time or string guitars. 

The thing I think the non-musician will find most unappealing about running with a rock band is that it’s just work. Sometimes it can be fun to do, but at the end of the day, whether you’re paid in grass, ass, or cash, like Huey Lewis and The News said, “I’m taking what they’re giving ‘cause I’m working for a living.”

As for all the real McCoys out there, the guys hustling in bars playing covers and rehearsing in their basements, I hope they will see that I took the same care in writing this book as any of them ever have a song. I told the truth as I understood it, a story that will be as much an invitation as a warning to the next generation of wide eyed dreamers and ridiculous stoners just brave enough to think that they can make it in this insane business of music despite the overwhelming odds of never getting out alive. 

            My name is Joe and I write stories for men. Of course, some of my biggest fans seem to be women who seem to find my writing insightful, even a bit shocking, as to how men really think. I assure you no matter how awful a thing I’ve written about, worse things have been done by your friendly, next-door neighbor.”

Joe Schwartz has written three collections of short stories and a previous novel. He works as a booking agent for a public library and in his spare time he likes to lose video games to his kids, watch movies with his wife, and read. All of Joe’s stories happen to people in the City of St. Louis. According to Joe, you can walk in any direction for eight blocks and everything will change. ‘It is not the evil men do that is fascinating,’ he says, ‘but the almost dire, predictable outcomes.’ Life is short. Stories are forever.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Random Rant 145: #DeafGirl Issues (pt Dos)

A little while back I posted about some issues that, as a #DeafGirl (or hearing impaired), annoy the crap out of me. The first one was inaccurate closed captioning, and it can be read here. In the same article however I mentioned I have a second issue I frequently run into amongst the land of the hearing/speaking.

People who continue to try to talk to me even once they've found out I can't hear them.

Don't be one of these dicks. If a person indicates they can't hear you, especially if they toss in the words "I'm deaf", don't speak louder, try to get in front of them so they can read your lips (you're an ass for assuming they have that skill, by the way), or ask them to stop what they're doing so you can write down a message. 

Seriously, if a person indicated to you that they were blind, would you insist on showing them the picture you're holding up?
  1. If someone is truly deaf (or in my case can't hear certain tones or frequencies), they aren't going to hear you no matter how loud you talk. I mean, can you hear a dog whistle if I amplify it through a loud speaker?
  2. No wants to walk into a human wall. Do you like it when someone steps directly into your path, invading your personal space?
  3. Imagine what it would be like if you had to stop and wait for every person who wanted to say something to you to write it down. Then imagine if that something is as unimportant as 90% of what most people say to each other every day. You'd be annoyed, wouldn't you? So are we.
I am willing to bet (and have past experience to back it up) that, unless my hair is on fire or I am in imminent danger of being harmed, anything you felt you absolutely needed to say to me, even after I've indicated I am deaf, was something you could have said to/asked anyone else; that it probably wasn't case specific to me. So continuing to ask/say it to/of me is pointless. And if you're one of the jerks who commit one of the above trespasses...

You're an asshat.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Random Rant 128: Leonard Nimoy

Many, many, many, manymanymanymanymany people know I am an avid 'Star Trek' fan. Whether it's original series or the newly rebooted movies, I am a Trekker (or 'Trekkie' depending on which term you prefer). I recall how, at the age of 6 while watching an episode of original series on re-run, I turned and said to my cousin, "I'm going to marry that man some day," and pointed to one Mr. Spock of Vulcan.

Sadly I never married Spock or Mr. Leonard Nimoy. Even worse was that I never even got close to my dream by meeting the man. To break a nerd girl's heart further, Mr. Leonard Nimoy (87) died peacefully at his home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, with his wife Susan Nimoy by his side.

Mr. Nimoy had an ambivalence toward his role in the popular 1960's 'Star Trek' series,
where he played human-alien hybrid Spock of Vulcan. In the 70's he wrote an autobiography 'I Am Not Spock', but then followed it up with another autobiography 'I Am Spock' in the 90's. But his passion for artistic pursuits was always clear. Leonard Nimoy was an avid poet, with volumes of poetry to his name, and continued to perform in theater (most notably as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof"). His spoken-word performances were often met with both zeal from fans and confusion from critics; and he produced records, even recorded a pop song for 'Star Trek'.

Prior to acting professionally, Nimoy was in the US Army, and also worked as a soda jerk, a movie usher, and a cab driver. While in his 40's, he returned to school and earned a master's in Spanish; later the same university would award him with an honorary doctorate. 

His career in television, movies, and theater could be best recounted as prolific. In addition to his cult-following for the Spock character, Nimoy also directed the movies “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”, which he helped write. The same year he resurrected Mr. Spock on two episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Mr. Nimoy was also the executive producer and a writer of the movie “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.” And a little remembered fact was that Nimoy directed the 80's comedic hit "Three Men and a Baby".

An avid support of the arts, there is a theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan named the Leonard Nimoy Thalia theater. He also published an additional book besides his autobiographies; a book of poetry entitled “A Lifetime of Love: Poems on the Passages of Life”. As well as several other works: "Shekhina" (a photography book of Orthodox Jewish women), "We Are All Children Searching For Love", "Come Be With Me", "Will I Think Of You?", "You and I", and "Warmed By Love".

Yet Leonard Nimoy found himself back time and again at the role of Spock, despite his other pursuits, whether it be conventions, lectures, voice acting, or crucial cameos such as the remake "Star Trek" (2009) and "Star Trek: Into Darkness" as the role of Spock Prime. Years after the original series ended, Nimoy once wrote:

“To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior.” But he discovered it was a good thing. “Given the choice,” he wrote, “if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.”

It is clear to so many, not just myself (although a portion of my heart grieves for the loss of my favorite childhood icon), that the loss of Leonard Nimoy as a person and a Star Trek icon is a devastation. In fact, fellow co-star and well-known 'Star Trek' personality, George Takei, tweeted on the day of Mr. Nimoy's death:

"In all the souls I've encountered in my travels, his was the most...human." (Re-quoted and slightly modified from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”, Kirk's line, originally delivered by William Shatner)

Perhaps the best tribute to Mr. Leonard Nimoy anyone could give.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Random Rant 155: #DeafGirl Issues (pt Uno)

There are many annoying things about being a #DeafGirl. I miss my favorite music. I miss not being able to hear new music the way it actually sounds, but only how my hearing aids interpret it. I miss being able to jump into a swimming pool without concern of destroying $5Gs worth of hardware, or being in a swimming pool and being able to follow/carry on a conversation. I miss wearing a pair of earbuds (because, let's face it, the sound quality is so much better unless you're wearing some big, bulky headphones designed specifically for sound quality). But there are major annoyances to being hearing impaired or deaf.

  1. Inaccurate closed captioning;
  2. People who insist on talking to you even once you've pointed out you're deaf and can't hear a word they're saying.
The second one I'll Random Rant on later. Today is all about inaccurate closed captioning.

Ugh. There is little that burns my ass more than close captioning (or subtitles) I clearly know are wrong, or missing huge chunks of information. How do I know they're missing information? I still have near perfect hearing when I wear my hearing aids, or "ears" as I call them. But I enjoy having the captions on because, well hey in a few years I'm going to rely on them exclusively, ears or no ears.

I understand the limitations of closed captioning. Especially in a real-time setting like live telly. There are going to be inaccuracies, "shorthand", and missed information. People talk on average of 110-150 wpm (words per minute); professional typists type on average of 65-75 wpm (words per minute). That's half of the rate at which people speak. So it's understandable that there is going to be lag in a live performance: inaccuracies, short hand, or omissions. What I'm talking about are blatant inaccuracies or omissions in recorded programs.

There isn't anything more annoying than hearing a character in a movie or on a show say, "Hey, we've got something over here" and reading, "Over here". Not to mention seeing their lips moving away at what is clearly more syllables than just "Over here". What's worse are when things are entirely left out and not captioned at all! Imagine watching a person's lips moving but not getting any sound at all? Frustrating as hell! Then you spend the next five minutes of the movie trying to puzzle out what the character said based on their lip movements and you miss other parts of the movie.

Some movies and television shows take the time and spend the money to ensure accurate closed captioning or subtitles. Others don't. All I can say to those who don't bother, from a #DeafGirl standpoint, is:

You're asshats.