16 June 2007

My college wasn't like this

Good God, I love Dr. Diana York Blaine so much. I am forever thankful for the controversy over her naked breasts that took me to her blog.

In Southern California, it is popular to bag on USC (also known as "University of Spoiled Children," for instance). It is like the Harvard of the west - people who went there let you know within 5 minutes of meeting them that they are alums. Annoying as hell. But the fact that she teaches there makes me hate USC so much less, and that is saying something.

15 June 2007

A photo insult

No time to post...I finished covering my SIXTH graduation for the newspaper last night and now I am done in more ways than one.

So here's a photo and an insult for you.

Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of...elderberries!

(Yes, I am a geek, in case you were wondering.)

13 June 2007

One True Faith

No one believes in journalism like journalists. Ask one and you'll see. Journalists believe that they truly are the "Fourth Estate," the one group in society that cares for the sake of caring and not for filthy lucre.

And who can blame them? Newspaper reporters get paid for shit. TV news reporters in anything but the largest markets get paid somewhat less than pet groomers. And radio newspeople, if they exist at all - fuhgeddaboudit.It is sick. Most journalists don't make it out of their twenties or early thirties in the business. They can't afford to. They sell out, go into PR or marketing or technical writing (ahem) because they have families and bills to pay and food to put on the table.

But some people persist. They persist because they believe in the power of watchdogs, the power of letting people know the truth. God bless our ink-stained wretches. I wish I could bring myself to be one of them, which is why it galls me to no end to read shit like this comment on a friend's blog:
Actually, I don’t think there are any fair an balanced journalists out there.
That kind of talk raises my blood pressure. I know it is a popular view, a view that is encouraged by those in power and also by the crappy quality of news, especially TV news.

But realize this, people: those in power love your cynicism. They feed it. There is a reason they are always trying to inject skepticism about journalism, about schools, about government, into our lives. Right-wing talk shows and certain news channels are all about destroying our beliefs in these things, because if we become cynical, we quit participating. We quit reading the newspaper, we take our kids out of the schools, we don't vote. All of those things are great for the powerful, because the less we participate, the less they have to do to gain the upper hand.

Who else is there to keep an eye on things? Business and government aren't going to police themselves. Is journalism important? Only important enough that the founders mentioned it in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Anyone who doesn't believe that journalists try to be fair and balanced should spend some time in a newsroom and listen in on the conversations and see the lengths people go to to get the other side, even if the other side is a bunch of nutballs (I always use the example that if there is a group that is against killing puppies, your editor wants you to get a quote from the one loco who thinks killing puppies is a fabulous idea). The reporters I worked with lived and breathed and bled for fairness. 90% of them were true believers, people who tried and tried and tried some more. And the others weren't bad, just tired and depressed.

Do I think journalism is in trouble? Absolutely. But IMO it isn't because of the mass of idealistic, hard-working journalists. It is because of the corporate media conglomeration and cutbacks in budgets. Pay journalists well and give them a decent expense account and THEN see what kind of reporting you get. But if we did that, they might dig up some REAL dirt, the kind of dirt that takes time and money to find...no, better to report on Paris Behind Bars.

In the meantime, I'm not asking you to read the paper or watch the news, but I would like to ask you to examine knee-jerk reactions like "there are no fair and balanced journalists" and try to figure out where that came from. Perhaps you are being manipulated and don't even know it.

12 June 2007

My new business venture

My friend Alicia asked me out to see a show at a club, The Troubadour, for my birthday next month.

Gotta love Alicia for thinking of me, but I had a few problems with this suggestion:
1. I had never heard of the band
2. The show is at the Troubadour, where one gets to stand on a concrete floor
3. It is on a Wednesday night
4. In Los Angeles, 60 miles south
5. Doors open at 8, which means the crappy opening band starts at 9 and maybe the opening act manages to haul their lazy butts up on stage around 10
6. I get up at 5:15 a.m.
7. I am 1000 years old
8. I am a cranky beeyotch

Yes, I will freely admit it in front of the whole Internets: I am officially too old for this shit. (The other part that I hesitate to admit is that I have pretty much always been too old and cranky for this shit, but at least I used to pretend I was enjoying myself as my eardrums melted and I was forced to be the cheese in a bobbing sweaty-hipster sandwich).

Here's my idea: Concerts for the Old and Cranky

Here are my promises:
1. Your ticket entitles you to a seat. An assigned, comfy seat. There will be room to dance, but it will not obstruct the view. Your ticket is your admission. There is no drink minimum or other surprise charge.
2. The show starts on time, which is early.
3. There is no crappy opening act.
4. The volume will not cause immediate and permanent hearing damage.
5. The show will end on time, which is early.

Is anyone with me? Great, because I have Jimmy Slovotnik and the Polkatones booked for Friday. Be there!

Next: Airline Travel for the Sane (featuring staff that actually checks the size of carry on bags and kicks off people who have tuberculosis or other contagious diseases).

In other news, I had dinner with VenturaMom and her cute daughter, The Girl (who is "almost 4" years old) last night. VenturaMom claims to be a "sassy dork" on her blog. She is a little sassy and not at all dorkish. And The Girl is a wonder. We taught her to ask for the dinner check by making the little writing motion in the air and she pulled it off perfectly and made the waiter laugh hard in the process.

It was a good evening.

10 June 2007

Sunday driving, yeah

Goldie and I decided (ok, greyhound mutts are not much on the decision-making process, so I decided) to see where we would end up if we drove exactly an hour from our house. We left at 2:57 p.m.

These yellow flowers lined the road for hundreds of yards at a time. They perfumed the air so it smelled exactly like lovely corn tortillas. Yum. I am not sure what they are, but my sister would have answered "Castorbeanii californica." Works for me.

At 3:57 p.m., we arrived here. It is what we call "the Sespe," north of Ojai, in the Los Padres National Forest. Not many people around. It is pretty quiet out here.

We saw beautiful wildflowers like this lupine. I tried to remember what Dr. Shirley Pimentel said at Cal Poly about lupines during the two hour lecture she gave my plant taxonomy class on the subject. Man, I was lucky to be taught by an international lupine expert. I wish I could recall something, anything, she said. That would make this post so much more interesting, don't you think? Oh, the little petals on the bottom are called the "keel"petals. And lupines are related to beans and peas, but they are poisonous to cattle. Thanks, Dr. P.

We saw some fauna, too, like this giant carpenter bee. Go ahead, correct me, all ye entymologists.

Goldie got to wade in a creek.

We saw the Matilija Poppy (the fried egg flower) in its native habitat.

We did a little hiking. Goldie led the way. We did not break the digital camera, though we tried. It is surprisingly tough.

What did YOU do on Sunday?
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