Saturday, November 15, 2008

From Michael Jackson to Cleveland School

I was reading through awfulplasticsurgery today, and I found a few posts on Michael Jackson. For some reason, this sent my mind to Cleveland School in Stockton, CA, because Michael Jackson visited there in February of 1989, shortly after the shooting there occurred in January of 1989.

I was five years old when the shootings occurred, and I lived in Stockton as well. The day of the shootings coincided with the first time that I ever saw my father cry.

I remember it vividly. I came out into the backyard, and my father was sitting at the bottom of the slide on our backyard swing-set, and he had his head in his hands. He was crying. I'd never seen my father cry, and it scared me. What had happened that could make this big, strong, invincible man cry?

I went over to him and said, "Papa, why are you crying?"

My father picked me up, sat me on his knee and cuddled me, and told me, "A bad man went to a school today. He shot a bunch of children, and he killed some of them."

I started to cry as well.

Looking back, I'm sure that my father was crying not only for the children who were wounded and killed, but from fear, as well. Cleveland school was only miles from the school that I attended. When friends and relatives who knew where we lived, but didn't know the name of the school we attended heard the news, they frantically began to call my father and mother to make sure that my sisters and I were okay. What parent wants to think of the possibility that his child is not safe when she goes to school? It's terrifying.

I was in kindergarten and the time, and I remember talking about it in school. I remember my teacher asking us what we should do if a man came into the playground and started shooting? We were told to drop to the ground and stay still. What kind of a world is it when we need to drill five-year-olds on proper procedure when under gunfire?

I haven't thought of Cleveland School in a long time, but I looked up stories on the internet. Five children were killed that day, all of them under nine. Twenty-nine more were injured, and one teacher as well. I went to middle school and high school with some of the children who attended Cleveland School. I knew the son of the teacher who was injured. I had forgotten how it felt when I heard the news, but today I cried. I cried for a long time.

I have a four-year-old son now. I guess that any image or story involving children in horrific situations affects me more than it used to. I cry every time I read a story about dead or kidnapped children. These children died almost twenty years ago. But I still mourn their deaths.

I understand now why my father was crying.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Star Wars"/ John Williams Tribute

I can't stop watching this. I laugh out loud even after five viewings.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What!?! Zac Efron on Firefly?

It's crazy, but true! I've been watching Firefly today, and in the episode Safe, River Tam has a flashback to her early life. As I was watching, I thought, "Boy, that actor playing young Simon bears a striking resemblance to Zac Efron. I wonder who does play him, anyway?"

So, I looked it up. Lo, and behold, it is Zac Efron! I've had my mind blowing experience for the day now. I can't find the clip, but you can watch the full episode here, on Hulu.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

I'm still pretty young, so I didn't get to see the best Mel Brooks movies in the theaters (thank goodness for VCRs), but I distinctly remember going to see Robin Hood: Men in Tights in the theater when I was 10 years old. Cary Elwes was my first (actually, probably only) celebrity crush, and my sisters and I had already worn out several VHS copies of The Princess Bride from so many repeated viewings. I remember seeing the trailers for this film on TV, and just going absolutely batshit giddy with excitement over it. I think that this was the first movie that my mother ever just dropped me off with a friend to see. It was a milestone: my first in-theater Mel Brooks experience, my first "grown-up" movie experience, and the first movie that I over-played on VHS that I actually got to see on the big screen.

Let me tell you though, I had to tape record that movie off of some abc family night special or something, and I missed a few scenes in my repeated viewings. I didn't even remember them until I finally bought the DVD as an adult. These kids with their interwebs, and youtubes, and pirated movies don't know the pain we went through, the commercials we had to fast forward through, and the utter hopelessness of the dreaded tape-eating VCR. Ah, yes, the good old days...

Anyhoo, this isn't the best scene in the movie by far, but it's very funny. I also developed a crush on Will Scarlett O'Hara over the course of my 10,000 viewings... to bad he hasn't done much I've seen since.

More Lighthearted Geek Fun

I saw this one on youtube, and I just couldn't resist sharing it.

More Prop 8 Bad News

Well, it looks like it's official. They've officially stopped issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in Los Angeles County.

This is striking a very personal chord with me. I lean mostly toward straight, but I have been involved with women before. I hope to someday find a soul mate, but that person may not necessarily be a man. Does that mean that I may not be able to marry my one true love in the future?

Even taking my personal future out of it, I'm just sickened that people are HAPPY to be taking away the rights of others. For the life of me, I will never understand why there are so many people that want to run the lives of everyone else. Worry about your damn self, and stop concentrating on whom you consider to be "sinners," for god's sake. I'm sick of it. So what if your Bible says that homosexuality is a sin? It also says that eating meat on a Friday is a hell-worthy offense, and, oh yeah, to love your neighbor as yourself! If you're going to quote the bible at me, please bother to read it first. If loving your neighbor means calling him/her a fag and killing abortionists, then hate me. Please.

A commenter on Feministing today mentioned how the hate that the prop 8 supporters feel cannot stop the love between her girlfriend and herself. I believe in that. I believe that love is stronger than hate. I believe that we can overcome bigotry. It may take longer than we would hope, but in the immortal words of Obama himself, "Yes, we can." And we will.

On the Lighter Side...

I love me some funny or die!

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Tell me that's not hilarious. I dare you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Prop 8 Update

Apparently as I write the margin between yes and no on Prop 8 is only 400,000 votes, out of 10 million cast, and there are still about 3 million absentee ballots to count. Technically this vote is still too close to call, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Is this really California?

California has long been the leader of the country in passing controversial laws, and the rest of the nation often follows our lead. While I am very happy that Barack Obama won the presidency, I'm am literally sick to my stomach at the passing of Prop 8 in California, keeping the right to marry from gay and lesbian couples.

Seriously, folks? 52% of Californians are still stuck in the 1950’s? This is discrimination, pure and simple. Remember anti-miscegenation laws? This is just another one of a different name. Keeping one group from doing something that everybody else is allowed to do, merely because they are on the “fringe” is discrimination. While we’re at it, why don’t we give the queer community their own water fountains? Scared of exposing your children to homosexuality? Send the children of gays to their own schools. While we’re at it, why don’t we send “at risk” children to their own schools, and keep them from infecting the other children? And I couldn’t possibly share a public swimming pool with a fag. Yuck.

I’m sorry if I sound upset, but I really am. I’ve got tears leaking from my eyes as I write this. I just can’t get behind this at all. This is a step in the WRONG direction, California. On the day our nation elected our first president of color, I thought we were better than this.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Truth is out there...

My roommate and I disagree on just about everything. Luckily, we generally like and respect each other, but we argue pretty much constantly. If I make a statement, he generally disagrees, and we argue. If he makes a statement, I generally disagree, and we argue. In fact, I think that the only thing that we have ever agreed upon is that Volvos are good cars. That’s pretty telling.

The problem is, we have a huge fundamental disagreement, and that is this: he does not believe that there is such a thing as ultimate truth; he thinks that there is no point in arguing with people’s beliefs, because their beliefs are true “for them,” although he constantly refutes his own belief by arguing with me. I don’t believe in subjective truth. I believe, no, scratch that, I know that there is such a thing as objective truth. Just because I don’t know what it is, doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

Let me give an example: Copernicus and his ilk believed that the earth was the center of the universe; that the planets, the stars and the sun revolved around it, and the earth stayed stationary. This was a belief that endured for many hundreds of years, and it was believed so fervently that Galileo was persecuted for presenting his theory that the earth and planets actually revolved around the sun, and he eventually recanted. Because it was believed that the earth was the center of the universe, did that mean that it was true? No. They were just wrong. In fact Galileo was wrong too, because the Sun is not the center of the universe either. Now, we don’t know what the center of the universe even is, but that doesn’t mean that Copernicus was right, and that the earth was the center of the universe.

Another example: At one point in time, it was widely believed that the world was flat (of course, this belief persisted much longer among the uneducated, but that isn’t the point here). Does this mean that the world actually was flat for them? No. They were just wrong. They believed the earth was flat, but it wasn’t. It is round, and it always has been, whether or not people believed that it was.

It used to be believed that the four elements (earth, wind, water, fire) were the fundamentals of all things, but that didn’t make it true. Now we believe in atoms, and quarks, but that could be wrong too. My point is not that we know the truth. My point is that believing in something doesn’t make it any truer, or more false. There is a truth, whether or not we know what it is. Even if everything in the world is just a dream, then that’s the truth, even though we think that it’s reality.

It may be true that nothing can be proven, or known absolutely. But we try. We learn from our mistakes, and maybe we’re getting closer to knowing the absolute truth about things. Maybe we aren’t. It doesn’t matter. It’s there, even if it’s unknowable.

I’m agnostic. This doesn’t mean that I don’t know whether or not there is a God, this means that I don’t believe that the existence of God can be proven, or disproved. It is a simple matter of belief. You can argue about the bible, but that doesn’t prove the existence of God to me. It proves that there were people who believed in God a few thousand years ago. Conversely, you cannot prove to me that there is no God. But either way, there either is, or there isn’t a God, and neither my belief, nor your belief is going to do anything to change it.

I can’t even prove that the world is how I perceive it. I believe that I live on earth, and that it is made up of millions of people, and that there is a sun, and a universe, and I drive my car to work, and type on my computer. But I could be wrong. This could all just be a dream. I don’t know. But if it is, then that’s the truth, and my beliefs, and your beliefs are all wrong. The only thing that I can prove to myself is that I exist.

Descartes said it best when he said “Cogitot, ergo sum.” “I think, therefore, I am.”

I may not be able to prove my existence to you. You may not be able to prove your existence to me. But I can certainly prove my existence to myself, because the very fact that I can consider my existence proves to me that I exist. And that, my friends, is the truth. Believe it or not, but think about it.