Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Off My Chest

Due to technical difficulties (semi-solved through no help whatsoever from Blogger or Google), I haven’t been able to post for what seems like ages. Just a few things that have been on my mind:

Damn you Posh Spice.
I find you loathsome, yet I can’t get the tune “If you wanna be my lover” or the word “major” out of my head.

India elects its first female president. And in the same week, a mass grave is discovered in the country, filled with the bodies of infant girls—discarded by parents who were hoping for a boy. So let me get this straight—a country that places little value on the lives of young girls still manages to find a woman worthy of the presidency. Yet in the U.S., where we tell our daughters that they can grow up to be anything they want, we’re still debating whether a member of the fairer sex is up the demands of the job of Leader of the Free World. Americans are usually so eager to claim supremacy—we like to be #1 and we like to be first—yet when it comes to electing a woman to the position of president or prime minister or chancellor or any other word that means “we trust you to be our head of state,” Great Britain, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Pakistan and Chile (and I’m sure others that don’t immediately spring to mind) have all beaten us to the punch.

Minimum wage hike. During college, I had an internship that paid $5 an hour, a good dollar over and above the going minimum wage, which, at the time, was either $3.35 or $3.85 an hour. That was back in 1989. This week, nearly 20 years later, the federal minimum wage was raised to $5.85 an hour. Because I was an English major, I can’t do the math on the percent increase of 2 bucks over 2 decades, but I think “pathetic” would be a fair assessment. Particularly in light of the fact that back when I was making my paltry salary, goods and services were exponentially cheaper. I swear, gas cost something like 70 cents a gallon and tuition at my state-run university was under two grand a year. Those numbers sound quaint, like something from a bygone era. So why are we still paying minimum wage workers a bygone salary?

The Emmy nominations. It seems stupid to care about an awards show that honors individuals and an industry that already get more than enough attention. I guess because I spend so much of my time watching television, I look to the Emmys to validate my choices. Yes, TV is a vast wasteland, but I like to think that I’m at least discerning enough to tune into the few gems that cross the airwaves. I imagine this is why so many people were pissed to see their favorites left of the list of nominees. Most of the angst, from what I gathered, centered on the exclusion of “The Wire” (don’t have cable, never seen it, can’t say that I care) and the perennial snubs of Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop of the now-canceled “Gilmore Girls” (huge fan, agree wholeheartedly). A number of people put forth an excellent idea—create a “dramedy” category for those programs that deftly mix drama and comedy yet utterly confound voters (see: “Northern Exposure.”) My personal thoughts:
*“Lost.” A certain vocal segment of fans likely cost the show a Best Drama nod with their constant carping about a drop in quality. The rest of us thought the majority of episodes—particularly the run up to the finale and excepting anything featuring Nikki and Paulo—were stunning. We just don’t spend a lot of time posting to message boards or trying to find the hidden meaning behind the Hanso Foundation. On the other hand, I was sorry to see Michael Emerson nominated in the supporting actor category, as it will only encourage “Lost”’s writers and producers to continue featuring the character of Ben over our beloved original Lostaways.
*“Jane Eyre.” While everyone was busy rushing to “The Wire”’s defense, I didn’t see anyone calling foul in the Miniseries category. So I will. Granted, I haven’t paid much attention to the miniseries since “The Thorn Birds,” but “Jane Eyre,” a pedigreed PBS production courtesy of Masterpiece Theatre, was television at its riveting best. Charlotte Bronte’s story is a classic for a reason—it’s a damned good tale—and Toby Stephens’ portrayal of Mr. Rochester was by turns cruel, impish, and surprisingly sexy. (I’d have married him, crazy wife in the attic and all.) I thought he was lock to take home the trophy, yet he wasn’t even nominated, a victim, I suspect, of the William H. Macy Syndrome. WHMS is a disease that causes Emmy voters to check off familiar names in unfamiliar categories. Haven’t actually seen a single miniseries? Go with the known entities, in this case Robert Duvall, Tom Selleck, Jim Broadbent, Matthew Perry and, wait for it, William H. Macy. I’m not saying these gentlemen aren’t fine actors or that they didn’t turn in fine performances. I’m just saying that Stephens’ work was brilliant—he absolutely knocked me out in the same way Daniel Craig wowed me in “Layer Cake.” Craig went on to bigger and Bond-er things, let’s hope Stephens does too.
*“Grey’s Anatomy.” I know. I know. Isaiah Washington is the big, bad boogey man who allegedly uttered a homophobic slur against castmate T.R. Knight. That might make Knight the better man, it doesn’t make him the better actor. If I at all planned on watching “Grey’s” this season, I would sorely miss Washington’s portrayal of Preston Burke, which was infinitely more deserving of an Emmy nomination than T.R.’s George.

Not so fast BP. I wrote earlier of British Petroleum’s plans—approved by the state of Indiana—to increase the amount of toxic waste the oil company dumps in Lake Michigan. Chicago’s Mayor Daley was similarly appalled as was Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who appeared at a petition drive and rally over the weekend, calling for action to stop BP in its tracks. And whither Barack Obama, the junior Illinois senator who actually hails from Chicago? Whose home actually draws tap water from the imperiled lake? Iowa, perhaps. Or maybe New Hampshire. But most definitely not representing the concerns and interests of people who put him in office two years ago.

“I” as in…. Sure-fire signs that your computer tech support “help desk” is not located in the U.S.:
*When you say you’re from Illinois, the analyst asks, “Is that near Florida?”
*Instead of “how’s the weather?,” he wonders “what is the climate?”
*When spelling out instructions for the user to type into the computer, he says, “f as in Frank, g as in George, i as in India.”


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