Sunday, June 27, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11... Some Thoughts

Humor can make people think. Bill Hicks, Chris Rock and numerous others can make an audience laugh their asses off while pointing out the flaws of our society. It's human nature to think about society, but not to have to work too hard at it. This is why the Daily Show is so popular-- it's easier to swallow the truth with some humor than dry. Michael Moore is the extremely liberal version of the conservatives Rush Limbaugh; he is unapologetically in his views, and he tries to win people over to his opinions. While Rush uses ad hominem attacks and his radio soapbox to scream at people, Moore uses documentary-style movies to prove his point.
I enjoy Michael Moore's old TV shows "The Awful Truth" and "TV Nation." You can buy or rent these on DVD, and it's well worth the money. It's less of Moore's heartstring manipulation that he uses in his movies and more of the puckish political pranks he plays. Whether it's hiring people in Puritan dress to read the Starr Report on the back of a flatbed truck, or attending a party celebrating the execution of a mentally retarded murderer in Texas, Moore is best when he lets the dark comedy of a situation play out.
I enjoyed Bowling for Columbine. I remember sitting in the theater and laughing at the sight of a bank in Michigan giving away guns and crying while watching the kids being executed. Moore plays 911 recordings over the security camera tapes from Columbine, and some of the 911 calls are from the media asking when they can get interviews. Moore wasn't so much on a partisan tear in Bowling for Columbine as he was curious about why American culture can breed such fear and violence.
Today I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. I wanted to see it on Friday, but at all three theaters I went to it was sold out. I bought my ticket on Fandango and got in to the standing-room only showing.
All the hype around this movie made it a letdown. If you've read Dude, Where's My Country?, you know what's up in Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore hates Bush. Bush is an idiot. Bush is an asshole. The Bush family has many connections to the Saudi Government. The Bin Laden family was flown out of the United States on September 13th without any interrogation. All shady goings-on for sure. But where has the humor gone from Michael Moore?
He takes the current administration's failures seriously, but I want more of the good old rabblerousing Moore. He makes some valiant efforts; reading the Patriot Act over the loudspeaker of an ice cream truck and asking Senators to enlist their children in the Army. But for most of the movie, it's Michael Moore narrating footage of the President looking stupid. There's also a woman who lost her son in Iraq who goes to Washington DC and talks to a protestor, and another woman comes by and tells her that the whole setup is staged and that "lots of people other than your son have died." I spent more time trying not to cry in front of the transvestite sitting next to me (insert "liberals are all crazy, see?" comment here) than laughing uncomfortably. I see enough weeping mothers, wives and children on the evening news. I don't see enough civil disobedience and protest, which is why we need Michael Moore. The funny prankster Michael Moore, that is.
I don't think Fahrenheit 9/11 will change anyone's mind. People who hate Bush will hate him more after seeing this movie. (I also hate Army recruiters more now that before.) People who love Bush will argue that Moore's movie has selective facts. Either way, you should go see it, if only for the few funny moments and to get yourself pumped for voting in November. Which y'all better do, or I shall hunt you down and drag you into the polls myself. But you can vote however you'd like since I'm all about democracy.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Public Transport Etiquette: Chapter One

Thanks to all for the apartment etiquette feedback. It's funny how kvetching about roommates can make one feel much better. Another aspect of urban living that desperately needs to be discussed is riding public transportation. Nobody looks forward to riding it, and if we could all live like J.Lo, we'd have perky round asses, many alimony payments and private cars/limos/rickshaws to bring us around. Sadly, we're all poor city dwellers and need ride the T system at least occasionally.
I enjoy the T. When I first moved to Boston it was a novelty. I liked trying all the different lines to see where I could go and hearing the drivers announce "Ahlington Street." Now it's become more of a chore since I need to fight the office drones who are desperate to enjoy the few hours that are theirs in a day and the out-of-town Red Sox fans who are convinced should they move two steps away from the doors they will be whisked away into oblivion and never able to return home.
My coworkers and I usually begin our days with a discussion of proper T etiquette and the freaks who completely don't understand it. I hope to get a commission from Mitt Romney to make a small pamphlet of about 100 pages to explain the rules of the T. Maybe people just need a refresher. Or maybe they were raised by monkeys. Either way, let's begin the lesson:

*It's OK to move away from the doors. You will not miss your stop should there be a crowd in front of you. Simply say "excuse me" and people will move. In four years of living in Boston I have missed a stop once because I was too far back, and that was because the jerk in front of me stood on the steps by the open door. "I thought you were just getting ready for the next stop," he said with a somewhat satisfied smile.

*Don't be an asshole and stand in the doors while people are trying to leave the train, then look happy when they miss their stop and are late to aerobics class. Jerk.

*Let old people and pregnant women sit. They are more tired/sore/unable to stand on the jerky train that your nimble young self. Even in the heels that give you blisters.

*Also offer your seat to young children (7 and under). They may sometimes decline, but perhaps the parent who has dragged them around the city all day may want to sit.

*Personal grooming ANYWHERE in public is a no-no, but is especially egregious when you're subjecting others to the smells and sounds of your beauty routine. Here are some particularly offensive behaviors:
*Clipping finger and toenails. Ew.
*Applying/Removing nail polish.
*Applying perfume
*Foundation/rouge/concealer/eyeshadow/mascara application all at once. Don't you people have homes? Do it there.
*Putting on mascara for FOUR stops. If you put on that much mascara it will look like you are shielding your eyes from a nuclear attack. Not very natural. (Thanks to Kerri for that story.)
*Shaving. Nobody wants to see you do it in your car, nobody who sits near you on the T wants to pick the hairs off their clothes all day.
*Using scissors to cut the peach-fuzz from your face. First it's creepy. Secondly, see above. (Thanks to Kendra.)

*Do not glare at people trying to move by you on a crowded train. One time I saw this fat guy was complaining because he was standing near the door and people were trying to disembark. If people cannot get by you, kindly move into the train, away from the door, or step out of the train and wait near the door until everyone who wants to get off is. Do not hurl obscenities and make like you are greatly inconvenienced. If you hate people, take a cab, fatty.

This is all I have for now. Again, please post any grievances here and I'll bring you along for the book signing.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Apartment Etiquette 101

It has come to my attention that some people lack skills for survival. I'm not talking about hunting/gathering skills, but how to clean up after yourself so your roommates don't kill you. Instead of having kids in high school carry around sacks of flour like it's a child, perhaps we should teach them how to properly wash a dish or scrub a toilet bowl.
My apartment is not pristine. It would take many layers of paint and buckets of bleach to kill the mildew in the bathroom to make it so. But we have some ground rules that need to be reviewed. We have a subletter who is very nice, but I get the feeling she lives in a dorm so she needn't worry about dishes or shower cleanliness. So in case any of you have a roommate who doesn't get it (or maybe you don't get it) let's go over the basics:

*Your hair in the shower drain is unappealing. There's nothing more disconcerting than sleepily opening the shower curtain to see a small furry creature staring up at you from the drain. To remove the hair, when you're done showering simply use toilet paper or a paper towel to pinch it up and place it into the trash.

*We exist in a world of three dimensions. This also applies to dishes and silverware. Not only the part of the dish where the food was is dirty; oftentimes the underside of the plate or outside of the glass has smudges. Be sure to use a soapy sponge to wash the messy part, then rinse the food bits off the sponge and wash the outside of the glass/dish/tupperware, paying special attention to greasy spots. Rinse thoroughly and place on the drying rack. Place the sponge back in the sponge holder to avoid a funky smell and bacterial growth.

*If you live in an apartment with a dishwasher, be sure not to overload the dishwasher with crusty dishes. If you overload, your next pint may have last week's fried rice floating on top.

*Please lock the front door when you leave. Your roommates have stuff they don't want stolen.

*Keep the music down after 10:30. You may have a lame-ass neighbor who enjoys reading and sleeping at night.

*Have the courtesy to remove your empty glasses from the coffee table. At least move them to the sink, where the dishwashing rules apply.

*There is a time limit for how long dirty dishes can sit in the sink waiting for a cleaning. Please wash the dishes after 48 hours, or at least refresh the water standing in them.

*Remove trash before it overflows and a strange sticky consistency develops on the floor.

*Remove hairs from the edge of the sink when you're done brushing your mane. Nothing worse than leaning in to spit out toothpaste and seeing traces of the same furry animal that's growing in the shower.

That's all I've got for now. If anybody has new rules they'd like to add, feel free. Soon my coworkers and I will review T etiquette, because a lot of people apparently just don't get it.