Memorial Day 2010

Right, so today’s the day we celebrate and honor our armed forces for doing what no one else is willing or able to do: defend the country. I’m generally a pacifist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who put themselves in harm’s way on the order of someone who’s never actually been in combat. It’s not their fault that the war(s) we’re fighting isn’t (aren’t) just or right. They swore to go where they were called to go, and they have. Veterans and active military personnel alike deserve our respect. (As my aunt, who’s in the Navy, mentioned: supporting the troops does not mean necessarily supporting the war.)

It seems, however—and I’m guilty of this as much as the next person—that Memorial Day has become a day of parades and candy, hot dogs and burgers on the grill, pool parties and drinking, and fireworks when it really should be a day of mourning soldiers fallen in battle. To quote another website, “Memorial Day used to be a solemn day of mourning, a sacred day of remembrance to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Businesses closed for the day. Towns held parades honoring the fallen, the parade routes often times ending at a local cemetery, where Memorial Day speeches were given and prayers offered up. People took the time that day to clean and decorate with flowers and flags the graves of those the [sic] fell in service to their country.”

LCHS Band marching in the Memorial Day Parade
La Canada High School Band in the La Canada Memorial Day Parade in a past year;
I didn’t get a picture from this year. (Click photo for larger.)

I went to a parade this morning with my brother in the city where my parents live, which is affluent and semi-secluded, at least for a suburb of Los Angeles. I grew up here, and I even marched in the annual parade when I was in high school as part of the band. There are very few people in this city who join the military because they have to. That is, most kids around here go to community college or (even more likely) a four-year college and/or chill out and live on their parents money. It’s got them this far, after all, why not help them out a little further? It’s not a city of people joining the military in order to escape a worse situation or climb the social ladder.

Anyway, the point of me saying all that is that we, as a community in this small city, have an aging set of veterans and very few “fallen heroes/angels/soldiers” (insert whatever positive sacrificial noun you want after “fallen”), even if you expand the definition to include police officers and firemen killed in the line of duty. I’m not saying I’m any better about honoring the dead than any of the rest of this city with its fireworks and “Miss La Canada Flintridge” and preschoolers walking in the parade with the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. (Seriously, there were like seven preschools represented in today’s parade.) Maybe we should think more seriously about what Memorial Day really represents?

What the hell. Pass me the ketchup and pickles.

Planes, Trains, and…

Oh, wait. Just planes.

Have you ever been on a private jet?… Yeah, me neither. I’ve flown across the country more times than I can seriously count, and I’ve even flown first class a couple of times (mostly because I used my sky miles—whatever you call them—and the “cost” for a first class seat was the same as for a coach seat), but I’ve never had my own private jet. My father’s flown an airplane solo, but it was a small plane with a private flying license. He’s not me, but that’s about as close as I’ve come to hoity toity flying. My family may be upper middle class, but we’re definitely middle class in that way.

In fact, it’s never even occurred to me to ever be a part of a company that would have a business jet charter or company plane or something. I guess maybe big corporations have private jets, and the Backstreet Boys do… or, at least, they did at one time, so there’s that, if it means anything. And I remember watching a movie about… something… I think it was Barbarians at the Gate. In one scene, the main character takes his private (company) jet across the country with his dog, and then the pilot flies the dog back across the country alone. (Imagine my reaction to that extravagance.)

Still, it’d be way cool to fly in a private jet even just once.

Yes, I know

Remember this to do list? Yeah, well, let’s see how much I’ve completed in the last two and a half weeks.

—be social with family (ugh)
—wash/dry/fold laundry [which will have to be done again soon anyway. ugh]
—write report/paper on Ai (an American poet who died in March)

—figure out which poems to show professor
—clean/declutter desk top
—figure out cosplay for Anime Expo
—finish (and finish reviewing) CANAAN (dammit!)
—watch/review Pocahontas, Precious, and The Sky Crawlers
—finish review of Return of the Joker (which I started like month ago! agh)
—figure out what to do with the music I don’t listen to (delete? save for later? eh?)
—watch/review Cowboy Bebop, Princess Tutu, and Trapeze

A few thoughts: I’ve gotta just give myself permission to give up on CANAAN or else just marathon through it because there’s no way I’m ever going to finish at this rate. At the top of my list (along with CANAAN) should be finishing the damn Return of Joker review because a friend recommended it to me like three months ago and I watched it like two months ago and I should just bang it out and be done with it so I don’t have to think about it anymore. As for the movies: I just want to watch Pocahontas because I’m feeling nostalgic; I’m not sure I want to sit through Precious if it’s as depressing as I’ve heard; and I heard that The Sky Crawlers was the best anime movie of 2009 so how can I turn that down right? Well, none of those are my top priorities, obviously, or I’d’ve made more progress. ::sigh::

Figuring out what to do with my music is just a matter of steeling myself and dumping large portions of files I no longer listen to under the assumption that I won’t miss them when they’re gone. (I guess I could always re-download them if I do miss them, right?) And I’ll be the laughing stock if I don’t watch Cowboy Bebop, apparently, because it’s one of the best animes ever made. ::sigh:: As for the other two animes: they’re on the list on recommendation or personal interest, and I’ve downloaded them already, so I might as well watch them eventually. Thing is, people seem to think that my watching anime is a waste of my time or something, so they think it’s okay to interrupt me and/or be asshats about it.

Also, I’ve still got to declutter my desktop so I can move my computer back upstairs and gather the courage to show my professor (with whom I’ll be taking another class this summer—this time an actual writing class) some of my poetry. There’s potential that he might publish a poem or two in the school’s literary journal. And Anime Expo is creeping up on me, so I either have to find someone to make me a costume for cosplaying, or I have to just scrap the whole idea and go in normal (boring) clothing. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen. Booooorrrrrring.

Honestly, I’ve spent most of my time writing this stupid critical paper on Ai (which I finished early yesterday and is due today, Wednesday, at 10:30 local time) and watching Nostalgia Critic and Nostalgia Chick movie reviews. I need to stop watching reviews of movies (TV shows, whatever) and start watching stuff to review myself. Since, you know, that’s all this journal seems good for anymore. … the Dr. Horrible review notwithstanding.

The Past Week via Twitter: 2010-05-23

  • @Bill_Howe that link sends to a Facebook page that says "content unavailable". fyi… do you have another link? in reply to Bill_Howe #
  • @Bill_Howe never mind. it fixed itself. in reply to Bill_Howe #
  • wriiiiiiite. #
  • @debaoki honestly, I think it's just for fun, and to drum up more readers for all the blogs, regardless. doesn't seem that bad to me. #anime in reply to debaoki #
  • mom & dad at work; sister & brother at the beach w/ friends. which means I have roughly 5 hours to get this paper DONE with no distractions. #
  • can I do it? let's find out! #writing #
  • this: only longer and I haven't won a single damn game. genius. complete genius. #
  • omg. you can play Pac-Man on Google's Doodle ( today. seriously. so fun. ^_^ #
  • even in the darkness, every color can be found. #

The Joy of Printing

And by that, I mean printing out my work from a computer to write all over in red pen and then input my edits back into the computer. There’s something about reading a piece of writing—dot-matrix printercreative or not—in hard copy rather than on the screen. Seriously.

While actually finding and buying printers can be a pain, using them generally (hopefully) isn’t. I’m not the most computer-literate person, but I can get around a web browser and Word document just fine. I write poetry and nonfiction and have printed out entire manuscripts with the intention of editing on paper rather than on my screen. And without a printer, that couldn’t happen.

I’ve had some pretty crappy printers in my time—I wear them out faster than computers, to be sure—but generally, as long as I keep the ink cartridges full and don’t run out of paper, I don’t have a problem. I’ve never worked with laser printing except professionally, so I don’t have the luxury of awesome (super fast) printing like that at home. But inkjet printing is just fine for something I’m going to seriously markup anyway.

Haha, I remember my first printer. It was a dot-matrix (something similar to what I had is shown above) that was, at the time, pretty up-and-coming in the computer market. It wasn’t the most cutting-edge thing, but it wasn’t like it was old, either. I remember sitting there watching the paper being fed into it when my dad printed something really long. It had only black ink ribbon cartridges (is that what they were even called back then?) and was super loud when it was printing.

I don’t think we have that printer anymore, and we’ve gone through quite a few since then, but it was a big deal at the time.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Yesterday afternoon, I was forced strongly encouraged to watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (wiki). I’d never watched it before yesterday, and I never really had the inclination to. I didn’t read reviews about it; I didn’t eagerly await the DVD release; I didn’t memorize all the songs from it. In fact, I started out watching it not even knowing how long it was. It wasn’t that I had anything against it, but I just didn’t care one way or the other.

Now, I like Neil Patrick Harris (who plays the title character, Dr. Horrible) just fine, though I’ve never watched any other show/film he’s been in, either. I really like Felicia Day (who plays Dr. Horrible’s love interest, Penny)—I’m a huge fan of The Guild, actually. And you could say I’m a fan of some of Joss Whedon‘s other work, most notably Angel (wiki). Dr. Horrible(As for the guy who plays Captain Hammer: I could take ‘im or leave ‘im because [1] his character is a total asshat and [2] I’ve never seen any of his other work.) Knowing all this, my brother and sister were sort of incredulous that I hadn’t seen Dr. Horrible, and my sister was possibly more incredulous that I hadn’t taken any action to rectify said problem. Like I said, it wasn’t like I was actively avoiding the show, it was just that I had better things to do with my time.

Well, no more. My brother sat me down and had me watch all three acts at once. The first act was okay; I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, and the songs are kinda catchy. By the second act, though, I was getting bored. I mean, I paused at the part where Penny starts singing in the laundromat about being lonely. It’s a decent song, I guess, but honestly. (Though I’ll admit it has one great line: “Even in the darkness, every color can be found.”)

I finished out the third act because—why the hell not? I knew if I didn’t finish, even if it was just out of boredom/”eh”-quality, my sister would be on my case until I did. So, in the third act, Captain Hammer is giving a bullshit speech (singing it, actually) about being a hero and Dr. Horrible comes in and freezes him with his freeze ray with the intention of killing him. But the tables are turned and Captain Hammer gets the death ray gun and turns it on Dr. Horrible. Dr. Horrible tries to warn him that the gun has been damaged, but he shoots it and the gun explodes. Captain Hammer runs off like a jackass and then Dr. Horrible discovers that Penny was fatally wounded by the flying shrapnel from the exploding gun. There’s a montage of Dr. Horrible doing horrible things, and then the credits roll.

WHAT THE HELL? Captain Hammer is an ass, Penny dies, and Dr. Horrible just goes on with his life of evil AND THAT’S IT? And not only does she die, her last words are, “Don’t worry, Captain Hammer will save us.” SERIOUSLY? I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR A FUCKING TRAGEDY, PEOPLE. Dr. Horrible is supposed to be a comedy—at least, that’s all I’d heard about it. And neither my brother nor my sister felt like it was necessary to WARN me about the ending? Seriously? I yelled at them for it and my sister said, “I didn’t want to give away the end.” And I said, “Telling me, ‘the end is sad’ isn’t going to give it away! Jesus; I wasn’t in the mood for a tragedy. You could’ve at least warned me it was going to be sad.” UGH. UUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHH.

That is all.

As a side note: Dr. Horrible outright fails the Bechdel Test. Just thought I should mention that, especially since Whedon is known for writing strong female characters (most notably Buffy) and has been honored because of his commitment to equality for women… or something.