Friday, March 27, 2009

Energy In Hate

I've been spending some time lately reading comments on blogs, stories, and videos I find online. What a remarkable age we live in! Even the semiliterate and possibly unmedicated can voice an opinion and have it accessible by the entire world.

Controversy provides interest. That's why bloggers vie for high comment count, right? Tons of comments must mean something interesting happened. I read a comment once in which a blogger confessed to bypassing blogs with low comment count, because surely nothing interesting could be said on a blog hardly anyone cared to comment on.

I know I feel this way sometimes on a discussion board I frequent. Sometimes I will skim through the archives and look at the page count. A post that has elicited 15, 20, or 30 pages of responses is generally much more likely to contain that magic of the internet: anonymous (or nearly anonymous) snark. When the topic has 22 pages of responses and has been locked, I know I've hit pay dirt. Some pretty nasty snark usually has to happen for a topic to be locked after 22 pages!

All of this is fine, but I've begun noticing a phenomenon that is bothering me more and more: online hating.

I define this as someone who goes to great lengths to seek out groups of people who love something, and then bash it in the most offensive, objectionable terms possible. These terms may or may not include obscenities; I'm referring more to the personal insults.

I'm not really including things that are up for general comments, like news stories. Those are designed to elicit opinions from all sides, and though you often see snark there, it seems to be welcomed by those asking for the comments. I'm talking about finding a website, forum, or blog dedicated to the love of something, and then posting about hating it, even returning to the site again and again to post about their hate.

An example would be going to the Eggplant Lover's discussion forum, registering for membership, getting a user name, and then responding to posts with comments like, "Eggplants are the dumbest vegetable. Only complete losers would waste any time with eggplants."

I have learned, in my time on the interweb, that sometimes these are "trolls," that is, sad, lonely people who just like to make other people angry, so they submit posts designed to infuriate. "Don't feed the trolls" is an oft-quoted aphorism many groups and discussion boards, and with reason. But I don't think they all are trolls. In fact, I'm starting to think many aren't. They are intelligent, otherwise reasonable individuals who are allowing themselves to become obsessed with something they hate, and that makes me sad.

If I, for example, saw a movie I disliked, that I thought was a bad movie, that I thought sent negative messages about femininity or sexuality or relationships, I might go to Rotten Tomatoes or Amazon and write a review. If the movie came up in discussion, I would express my opinion of the film, but in such a way as to not malign the people who liked it. I understand that we all see art, news, current events, and people differently. For example, I have yet to find someone who agrees with me on the misogyny in Independence Day. That being said, I would not watch the movie over and over, noting its flaws, even those unrelated to my case, and post them to Independence Day fansites. I wouldn't write nasty personal things about the writers, directors, producers, or actors, implying that they were somehow defective emotionally or personally because they produced a piece of entertainment I don't happen to enjoy. Why is this now "okay?"

It is the internet that has made all of this possible. In the old days, what could you do? Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper? Tell your friends you hated the movie? Forbid your children from watching it? That was it. And most of us were satisfied with that. Most of us didn't become so obsessed with what we hated that we allowed it to consume huge chunks of our time. We couldn't. If we had, no one would have listened to us, and we wouldn't have been invited to parties. Now, by giving us an arena to vent about what we hate, what we hate is overtaking us and growing beyond all proper proportion.

It makes me sad, sometimes. How many wonderful things are passing these folks by, unnoticed because they have to post to another Star Trek forum about how the new movie is going to be terrible? How many good books have some people missed because they feel they have to re-read Twilight to count all of the typos?

Now, please excuse me. I am working on a frame-by-frame analysis of Pootie Tang. Expect my next blog to expose the truth behind this supposed "classic." I suspect it may contain some cultural sterotypes that may damage the next generation!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

An Inconvenient Food

I confess: I love tacos.

I mean, who doesn't, right? Who doesn't love the crispy shell, the warm, succulent meat, the crisp lettuce, tangy tomato, and melty cheese? What's not to love about that?

I'll tell you what's not to love about that: dignity. One cannot consume a hard-shell taco with dignity.

Today, our school cafeteria featured hard-shelled tacos for lunch. I recieved a glop of meat (two dollops = one glop), two shells, and a thimble of cheez. I have not misspelled "cheese." What I received was, in fact, cheez, a yellow, tasteless, soft substance that is impervious to the elements and chuckles audibly when sprinkled on food.

I carefully spooned a dollop of meat into the first shell, said a prayer, and took a bite.


As I'm picking bits of taco shell out of my Andy Rooney-like eyebrows, the question occurs: who thought this was a good idea? Let's take greasy meat and assorted condiments, put them inside something so hard and brittle it barely holds together, and then make it large enough to require at least 8-11 bites to consume in its entirety. It sounds like a joke. A hidden camera prank, perhaps.

Wouldn't bite-size taco shells be neat? Just a mini shell, enough to hold about a teaspoon of meat, that you could load up and stuff in your mouth all at once? That would be great. And the time it would take you to build each taco would stop you from wolfing the whole thing down so quickly.

Of course, you can do soft tacos. Wimp. But here in Texas, we know the way tacos ought to be done. If you're in no danger from shrapnel when eating with a friend, it just ain't tacos.

I can't wait to see if my afternoon students are picking shells out of their eyebrows, too.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's Like It Was Meant To Be

I cannot ignore all of the signs telling me that Rob Pattinson and I are destined to be together.
Not "together," together.  I am happily married, after all.  No, by "together" I mean that Rob and I are destined to be best friends, and that I will be the ideal, unattainable woman who he will admire his entire life and, while dying, pay tribute to in song.  I will be Clara Schumann to his Brahms, if you will, except Sven won't have to go to a mental institution.  It's an ideal situation for all concerned.  

Sign #1: I took the quiz "Which Celebrity Will You Marry" on Facebook, a scientific tool designed to match celebrity men with the women who admire them in a purely intellectual way.  My result: Rob Pattinson.  I cannot ignore this scientific evidence that we are ideally suited for each other.

Sign #2: Rob is a musician.  He sings, plays piano and guitar, and composes music.  I am a musician.  I sing.  I play the piano.  I can play a couple of chords on the guitar.  I have written music.  It's fate.

Sign #3: In his commentary for the Twilight DVD, Rob heckles.  He heckles himself, he heckles the extras, he even heckles other major players.  His heckling is so good, it renders any I might offer superfluous at best.  He heckles his eyebrows, speculating that Edward's depression may manifest itself in overgrooming.  He refers to Edward's hairstyle as "the bouffant" and imitates himself using a very prissy voice.  He even stole some of my lines.  (Guys, stop eating the cookies.  We're vampires.  Read the script.)

How can I ignore this?  Rob Pattinson, you and I are destined to be together in a totally platonic non-physical way.  Call me.

Inside My Head

The following takes place inside Deb's head between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.:

8:00- Well, it's 8:00.  Time for me to get to bed.  You know, I should just take a quick shower, I haven't slept much lately, but I really want to take a bubble bath.  That sounds nice, a long, warm bubble bath, write a blog entry...I can still be in bed by 9:00.

8:07- Okay, waiting for Princess to get off the potty.  She's hollering in there, something about the toilet paper needing to go into time out.  How long can she take?  Sven, just tell me to go on up.

8:10- I hope Sven's not mad that I just came on up.  Okay, bubble bath time!  In this beautiful garden jetted tub that is...completely full of children's bath toys.

8:15- Okay, the tub is clean, the water is running, I'm brushing my teeth...what am I forgetting?

8:17- I'm pretty sure this bubble bath isn't supposed to be grey.  I guess it's been a while since I had a bubble bath.  This Huggies Lavender and Chamomile Baby Wash ought to do it.

8:18- It doesn't seem to be making a lot of bubbles...let's just squirt some more in there.

8:19- Okay, putting my book on the edge of the tub, turning on the jets, now I'll turn around and take the five steps to the tub...


8:20- Okay, turning off the jets, everything's fine.  No need to panic.  Look, your book is right here, covered in devil bubbles.  It will be fine.  You do not need to buy another copy.

8:22- All right, new copy of the book is ordered from Amazon, time to get in the tub.

8:23- Draining all of the water from the tub, as my presence displaced enough water to fill the bathroom with bubbles.  Hopefully no one will notice the bubble marks near the ceiling.

8:25- Bubbles are uncomfortably warm.  Filling the tub with cool water.

8:27- I am now swathed in bubbles, like a woman in a movie.  You know, those scenes where the heroine is supposedly naked in a tub, but covered in bubbles so thick there's no way to be sure?  I always doubted that could happen in real life, but now look at me.  Should I go and get the camera?  It would be a good picture for the blog.

8:28- Okay, no picture.  My mom reads this blog, and I'd never hear the end of it if I posted a naked picture of myself, bubbles or no.  Not to mention Calliope, Happiness Incarnate, and all of my other church friends... clearly, my better nature has won for now.

8:29- Or has it?

Okay, it has, that's not me, but it's pretty close to how covered with bubbles I was.

8:35- Getting out of the tub and into the shower.  Wash the hair, rinse off the bubbles...

8:40- Out of the shower.  Ah, I know what I forgot... towels.  All of the clean towels are downstairs.

8:45- Okay, now I really need to get out of the shower.  Maybe there's a semi-clean towel out there somewhere.

8:47- Nope.

8:52- Okay, a quick check in the mirror, make sure my makeup is off, and then a blog entry.  I have eight whole minutes.

8:53- Why do I think of Andy Rooney whenever I see my eyebrows?

8:54- Okay, blog entry... how about Andy Rooney?  No, forget that.  Just free associate, the ideas will come.  Andy Rooney.  Mickey Rooney.  Mickey Mouse.  Mouseketeers.  The Three Musketeers.  Chocolate bars.  Junk food.  Heroin.  Twilight.  Rob Pattinson.  Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Andy Rooney.

8:59- Just give up.  You'll be able to think of something tomorrow.  After all, you wouldn't want a whole blog entry of just the junk floating around in your head, right?

9:18- Rob Pattinson... zzzzz....