This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Survivor Quick Hits

A few random thoughts on Survivor last night:

  1. I'm so, so glad they voted off the annoying English Teacher lady. Something tells me they knew that was going to happen. Do you ever get the feeling that some contestants are just there to punish the others?
  2. First Survivor bad guy of the year: Stephanie. Mark my words.
  3. Hot. White. Young. Anyone else need not apply, because you're fighting for one or two spots.
  4. I would think that Coby is totally faking being gay if I could think of any advantage it brings him. I mean come on, a pink shirt? Laying it on a little thick, aren't we?
  5. Person(s) I so far am rooting for? Ian, because he seems really cool, and James, because you never know what hillbilly saying is going to come out of his mouth. Also Kim because she's, well, smokin'.
  6. Bobby Jon? Come on.
  7. That voting two people off right away brought up memories of The Benefactor and Joe Schmo Two. Only one of those is good. Actually, it would have been exactly JS2 had they chosen to vote off Ibrahem and Jolanda there.
  8. People on the TWOP forums have said this, and it is so true -- James is the illegitimate son of Ross Perot. Now, if they can just get him to say, "A vote for me is a vote for yourself" or bust out a line graph or something. I would pay-per-view to see that.
  9. One thing you don't do on days 1-3 is paint a target on you. Witness the first two immunity winners, Ian and Jo, and how they handled things after that. Ian deferred leadership in his new tribe to Tom after picking a woman who just seems nice as opposed to pretty or athletic. Jo took charge when nobody asked her to, and made bad decisions that contributed to her team's loss (not really, since they can't steer a boat anyway, but they seem to blame her). Jo practically begged to be sent packing, and it was no surprise when she was.
  10. Is Angie this season's Chris? She did have a rough start, being the second-last girl picked and all, and getting three votes at Tribal Council. Still, and happily, no.
  11. Early pick to win: Ibrahem.
SIYDWS(Sorry If You Don't Watch Survivor), smell ya later.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Bad Terminators and Confessional Lutherans

Yeah I don''t feel much like blogging tonight, I feel like sitting back, relaxing, and watching TV. I watched the season premiere of Survivor tonight and was sucked in again. It's hard for me to explain, but I'm interested in these fame-seekers. They always seem to get some weird ones in there. This year, there was an insane English Teacher lady, but she got voted off the first day. I felt sorry for her, but it's probably good she got voted off now and avoided become America's punchline.

There are way too many good looking people, though. At least it's a little easier to tell them apart this time, because none of them look alike. My wife and I miss Dolly.

Work Keys in Crisis: Day Two Update.
My key now works in the door to my closet, but not in the door to the room that my closet is inside. We're halfway there! More details will be posted as I get them.

I found a bunch of Confessional Lutheran Blogs and they really got my shorts in a wad. If I were going to be a racist against something, it would be that group of people.* The thing is, I pretty much share all of their beliefs, I just can't stand what they emphasize -- doctrinal purity over love, Lutheran Confessions over the Bible, calling other people hypocrites over recognizing their own hypocrisy. Those who know me know that hypocrisy is not a word I use lightly -- I am always railing against misuse of that term. People today use it to mean, "those who draw a distinction between moral and immoral in a certain place." The most familiar misuse came into full focus when Janet's boob happened, and lots of people were called hypocrites for just saying they don't want star boobs on tv.

The people in question are hypocrites because the second they can they are attacking the other side -- the "conservative" Lutherans -- for not being loving towards them. And they themselves are cold, baby. All they do all the time is rail against the "conservatives", often in terms that imply that they're dumb, evil, wanton, etc. Seriously, I have heard what is said behind closed doors. They demonize the opposition (in their minds) like nobody I've ever seen, even in politics. In their minds, they are just speaking the truth, and therefore hold the moral higher ground, I suppose. Speaking the truth gives them the ability to be a total A------- about everything, for Jesus' sake, apparently.

I'm being intentionally vague here, I have a history with these people that's causing this reaction. They're like that Bad Terminator, you can't reason with them. They are Doctrine Machines. Can you imagine Jesus talking about doctrine all day? Now, the sad part is, Confessional Lutherans would probably claim that he was talking about doctrine when he said things like, "I am the way and the truth and the life." But that's not all doctrine, that actually implies something to those who believe it. People try to tell that message to others, and sometimes they can get the particulars wrong, but at least they're trying something out of love. Doctrine becomes an object of worship for these people -- it's doctrine glasses that they view the world through, instead of Jesus glasses.

Of course, some people go the opposite way and come up with whatever doctrine they want to. That's way worse, but I'm not going to discuss them right now.

America, I'm afraid Jesus doesn't have a preferred worship style. I'm sorry if that ruffles any feathers out there. I'm no Theologian, but I've read the Bible and had a lot of training, and I'm confident that this is true. It's incumbent upon us to find ways to worship God that are pleasing to Him, and if we come with a desire to worship, I believe God loves that and even works in and through it. So there.

This went on too long. Shorts in a wad, indeed.

*If one of them ever comes across this rant, you can be darn sure they will discount anything I say because I don't love them enough. See next paragraph for an explanation of why that's absurd.

Two Words:

Teal Jams.

(also, two posts down, my Sweet Sixteen IV post is fixed. Thank y'all for your interest and understanding)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Everybody Likes Community Quick Hits, Part Part.

Yesterday I got to work after having a well-deserved day off and I couldn't get into my office. No, I hadn't been fired, my key just wouldn't work in either of the doors I need to pass through to get to my closet. I had to get a manager to open my doors for me. Then last night the locksmith came back and was working on the doors, but when I came in this morning my key still did not work in either door. There is literally nothing in this world I hate more than imposing on people or asking them for help. Nothing. And they're making me do it every day. Gurgle gurgle, that's bile in my throat. I guess I shouldn't make such a big deal about this, but my closet is supposed to be a secure area -- that's why it's tucked away and has all this cool stuff in it. I now have to keep it unlocked all day, because there is no way in heck I am going to ask somebody for the same help twice in one day. Nuh-uh. So that's mildly frustrating.

All indications are I'll be moving again in a month or so back towards where I was before, if not in the exact same spot. At least I got to show off my skills last weekend during inventory. I won my part of inventory, and got much congratulations. I can't tell you any more than that, because I am very sensitive to work's needs for privacy. I will just mention that inventory exists, and I rule at it.

My Super Sweet Sixteen's first "season" is almost over. Next week is the finale, and that means it lasted 6 shows. What will I do on Tuesdays at 9:30 CST now? I think I'll take up smoking. Anyway, if I forget to say it: MTV, congrats on another really stupidly entertaining show.

I still haven't gotten used to watching one Alias a week yet. I've found a good site to "time-shift" it since I work on Wed. nights. I started something about Season Three then forgot about it. I hope I can find it! Ok, starting now, I will have better organization. What I really need is a secretary. A hot secretary. I wonder if my wife is available to do that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My Stupid Sweet 16, Part 4

My Stupid Sweet 16, Part IV -- Hart of Crap

When MTV promoed the show (incessantly on Tuesday night – does any network spend as much airtime self-advertising as MTV? I think not), they highlighted the quote from Hart’s dad, “You’re 16 years old now – you make the decisions.” I’m thinking that this is such a recipe for disaster, but it turns out he was being sarcastic and asking it as a mocking question. It’s good to mock your kids. I’m getting off track here, but the disingenuousness of the promos really bothered me. It’s like they were playing the angle of this dumb kid being in control of his party so 12-year-olds with delusions of party grandeur would watch and dream about controlling their own Sweet Sixteen parties, so they totally made the quote mean the opposite of what it actually meant. That sentence did make sense, read it again.

(part of the brilliance of this show is the simultaneous playing to two diametrically opposed audiences -- the dumb kids who are dreaming of having their own parties one day, and us folks who want to mock those dumb kids. Think about how often MTV makes these people look insane, and how little of what the subjects actually say in a day gets on camera. MTV is not only editing to provide drama, but also to make these people look bad. I say, "GO MTV!")

In other news, it’s week four and I still can’t decide whether to capitalize Sweet Sixteen Party or not. I think I will, and scowl at the capital letters every time.

The show starts by introducing us to Hart Callahan, the average kid (despite what believes about him -- see their recap) with a rich dad and a soap-opera name. Hart lives in Pennsylvania with said dad and my first impression of the family is that it is semi-affluent but not "Ava" rich. It turns out I was totally wrong on this – they’re filthy rich, they just look dirty Upper Middle Class, which makes them seem trashy for purposes of this show.

Hart says he needs to be the best at everything “except school”, which is odd. My translation of that would be: Hart’s very competitive at sports and stuff, but he’s also lazy and can’t concentrate on anything that’s not exciting or flashing or blinking. This is probably pretty typical of boys his age, but that’s still sad. A few years from now, Hart’s dad will get him into a frat which will complete his laziness in all areas of his life except drinking, sleeping, and objectifying women. The MTV show about his sweet 20 party (which is not capitalized since it doesn’t exist) will feature a quote to this effect. Maybe I’m being too harsh on him considering my mindset about school when I was sixteen, i.e. I had just figured out that by trying just a little bit I could get a GPA of 4.0 (Up until that point I had been not trying at all and ending up with a 3.3 and vague feelings of disappointment). So we’ll cut him some slack and just call him an average (there’s that word again) kid with no real direction.

The next funny quote from Hart is that he “doesn’t think Sweet Sixteen Parties are girly”, which is up there with “I don’t think Springsteen is better than Lipps, Inc” and “I don’t think Keanu is that bad an actor” on the scale of opinions that make you sound out of touch with reality. Hart is literally the first boy I ever even heard of that has thrown one. It’s just so obviously a girl thing (starting with the name – Sweet Sixteen. When boys turn 16, are they referred to as “sweet”? “Sweet Sixteen” has even become part of out seedy vernacular, referring to what used to be accurately described as “jailbait”), you wonder where he got the idea…

Enter Hart’s dad, a millionaire party-thrower (I’m sure his official title is like “Event Planner”, or “Overtanned Moron”. Maybe not the second one) with tons of disposable cash and lingering guilt over spending too much time with Hart’s stepmom when Hart was growing up. Hart’s Dad (hereafter referred to as Dad) is just insane about parties, and has very specific ideas of where this Sweet Sixteen Party is going. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Dad proposed the idea to Hart, who saw it as an opportunity to, well, you’ll see what Hart does with the opportunity. It’s not just about reconnecting with Dad, let’s put it that way.

Hart, like all the other subjects before him, wants the power to exclude. He snarks to the camera at some point, "If you're not on the list, get out." I can understand the desire to have control over a list people want to be on, although considering his later problems getting people to this thing he seems to be jumping the gun a bit.

Throughout the 23 minutes of the episode, Dad gives (shoves down his throat) several insane and damaging life-lessons to Hart that you may have missed if you weren’t paying attention. Let’s explore them, shall we? We’ll start with:

1) Looking cool in front of your rich neighbors is more important than making your child happy during their Sweet Sixteen Extravaganza -- Hart expresses interest in having a stretch limo take him to the party. Score, right? Dad acts as though Hart had asked for an AMC Pacer or Le Car, because he says that's "so 80's", and instead not-so-gently commands the boy to use a different car (which I didn't fully hear the name of, but it sounded like Mybag) because "god forbid that goes by my house and the neighbors should see it." He clearly wants God to forbid Hart to do that. This floors me, first of all because stretch limos are still cool to us not living in the constant party atmosphere of...Pennsylvania (a state so unhip it's electoral votes went to Bush for pete's sake), and second of all dad just told his son he couldn't have something perfectly reasonable (in a sweet sixteen kind of way) because he was afraid the neighbors wouldn't think he was cool enough. Do they live in some sort of gated community where instead of keeping out black people they keep out people seen in uncool cars? When somebody else comes down his street in, say, a stretch Humvee, does he look down on them because that's "so last year?" The thing is, Hart thinks it's cool, so Hart's friends probably think it's cool. This is all about dad and his social position. Kill me now.

2) If you can't get somebody to do something, bribe them -- Hart is concerned because only 5 people have RSVP'd, and after dad mocks his son on camera by saying that Hart basically only has one job and he's failing at it (largely because the Professional Party Planner and Son set the date for the exact same night of a dance at Hart's school -- the ominously named "Can Dance"), he sets up a situation where Hart and his weird-looking friend take a bunch of girls to a store and they pick out "tops" to wear to Hart's party. Hot Stepmom apparently runs this store, and she's now pulled into the guilt-expenses. It's hard to say, since we see this woman only once in the entire episode, but in this relationship I'm sure dad is pulling the strings. Hot Stepmom looks about 26. Real mom can't be happy about that, but we never meet her, so she doesn't exist.

The girls put the "tops" (clearly, they are not shirts -- I don't know when it happened, but shirts refer to something more specific than just shirts now. When they kept saying tops, I thought I'd being seeing girls spinning around or wearing a black singing group on their backs or something. Not so.) on and model for Hart and friend, and Hart does his best to keep the whole thing from being as creepy as it should have been. Seriously, this is every 16-year-old hormonal boy's dream, if he would even dare to dream it. I was totally clueless at age 16 about such things, and even I would have jumped at the chance to have a gaggle of girls from school model tops for me. The girls love free clothes, and they all hug Hart. They seem to genuinely like Hart, though, and for this reason he's about 100 times the person Ava from week three was. The girls call him a "pimp", though that's hard to imagine. He'd need to dress differently. Oh, wait, my people are telling me that "pimp" means something else now, too. It's so hard to keep up with these kids today. I'm glad Hart doesn't beat up the girls so they will turn tricks and give him the money for it, though.

3) When you think your son is being unreasonable, sarcastically mock him -- So they are scoping out locations for this party, and they come to what looks like a driveway in front of a nondescript white building. Dad comments that this is "white trailer trash", which is not explained at all. Were there a bunch of toothless people hiding behind the building that we couldn't see? Was tumbleweed rolling down the street? We will never know. Next thing you know, they are on a balcony overlooking tennis courts, and Hart says he wants a tennis court in the middle of his party. Dad is skeptical, and says the famous much-hyped line, "You're 16 years old now -- you make the decisions?" It's an attempt to play the "I'm the party planner here" card, and it causes friction between Hart and dad. It seems like Hart's used to this sort of thing. Later on dad says there's been friction in the house since dad got divorced and married stepmom, and from the way he says it you just know that it's the type of situation that would cause Dr. Laura's head to a-splode. Dad has been paying a lot of attention to stepmom and not enough to Hart, it seems.

Hart still thinks he has something to do with the Party planning, and he comments that, "it's gotta be my ideas and not his." So there's friction. As they are on the balcony overlooking the tennis, I LOL when dad says, "Stop looking at those guys play." Dad has what seems to be an inferiority complex or hypersensitivity thing where he has to be the center of Hart's attention constantly. He's a hard dude to figure out. Or easy.

4) Objectifying women with your teenage son is ok if you pay them money, or if they're on a public beach -- In the course of his illustrious Million Dollar career in Event Planning dad has come up with a concept called the "jump to conclusions mat", er, I mean, "crawl room", where go-go dancers (clothed, of course. Barely.) writhe around on platforms like it's Soul Train, causing the party to be whipped up into a frenzy. It seems to me that this concept has been done before. However, Dad is really really proud of his "idea", and he and Hart go to find some hoes. I guess we know where Hart learned to pimp, eh? Dad has a girl named "Sunshine" (she claims that's her real name. Kids, don't let your parents be hippies) dance for them, and they both like her cuz she's real wriggly, like the field. One of the great features of My Super Sweet Sixteen happens whenever they show something the subject (in this case, Hart) thinks is totally cool: Sparklies. They did it for Ava's hooker dress last week, but they topped that this week when they did it for both Sunshine and her partner-in-dancing (Tamiko, who claims to have once danced for Puff Daddy, which means it was about 5 years ago when she was 13 and Puff Daddy was still the man's name. Oh, and she was probably stripping). It's so seedy. And MTV wonders why old people hate them. It's not censorship when you suck this bad. That's not actually in the Bill of Rights, but how was Jefferson supposed to anticipate somebody like Hart's dad?

5) When your son doesn't respect you or pay attention to you, throw a temper tantrum -- They find the room they're going to use for the party (which looks no more or less "white trash"to me than the parking lot earlier. I guess that's why dad's a millionaire) , and Hart starts asking questions to dad's employee, which causes dad to stomp upstairs and out of the room like a five-year-old. Seriously, this is the one thing in the whole episode that trumped everything else. Hart basically has to go and find out what's wrong, and you know that dad chewed that employee out for answering Hart's questions. Dad says, "He's acting like someone else is his father -- what the F___ is that?" It's not hard to understand why Hart would look for a new father, since he seems to have to babysit dad, and you just know this is a common occurance because of Hart's nonchalant "there he goes again" reaction. Later on dad patches things up by using lesson number 2), the one about bribery. He takes Hart to Miami in a private jet with what appears to be caviar, and they go to the beach and do number 4), only this time they don't pay the girls they are ogling. But then again, they're not wriggling around like tofu this time. It's at this point that dad busts out another of his signature lines, let me try and get it right: "How does it feel to be 16, Hart, out of the beach with yer daad?" He extends the word "dad" in what seems to be an attempt to sound like a surfer. It's disturbing, really, how much affirmation from Hart dad seems to need.

Hart says that he and dad have been having troubles lately, but expresses hope for the future: "Hopefully things will be like before my Sister and (Hot) Stepmom showed up." I don't think I even have to comment any further. Hart's comments just summed up this show better than I ever could. For MTV editing purposes, Hart and dad make up and dad pledges to take him to Miami every week so they can bond over caviar and babes.

6) When your son disappoints you, tell MTV's cameras, but when it turns out he didn't actually fail, clam up like, well, a clam -- The party finally happens, and kids are very slow to show up. The camera pans across all these old people, and it's like the "Dance of the Dead" on the old Lawrence Welk show. There is one reason for the no-shows and one reason only: like I said, it's the same night as the "Can Dance", so everyone gets to the party after doing their time at the lame school dance where they dance around cans. Now, if they were trying to raise money with this "Can Dance" somehow, like collecting cans, the school is probably not happy with dad and Hart for their scheduling Professionalism, but that's pure speculation on my part. Dad repeats that Hart had one job and he failed at it, and Hart pays no attention to Dad and gets in a Red Bull drinking contest with his buddy. This is Hart's worst idea yet, because he drinks too much and gets sick* just as the girls arrive in their bribey "tops". Stepmom, who is way too young and hot for dad, gets her one moment of glory in when she comments to dad that the tops look "nice". Quick question: At this point what is dad thinking?
a) Not as good as you do.
b) Not as good as the girls in 'em.
c) Where are Sunshine and the Tofu Club?
d) Please stop talking.
I vote for d), but that's just me being harsh. It could be any of them.

Overheard at the party: Hart saying, "Hells yeah!"; some kid saying, "I want some P___ (word that means cat) tonight. How pleasant.

Hart's Red-Bull-ified brain recovers and the sluts (not the school dance crowd, the real ones) show up, which does indeed cause quite a stir in the old parking garage, with guys literally standing 2 feet away and watching the girls dance (except for MTV's footage of one bald possibly albino kid, named in my notes as "Cancer Kid", who says, "Everyone's going crazy", but since we don't know who he is it could have been stock footage of a totally different party for all we know), and Hart's nice young bribed girls freaking out and saying, "get those sluts off the stage." Hart says he doesn't understand why the girls were so mad, because Hart is 16 and has learned sensitivity and empathy from his dad, which is to say not at all.

In 20 minutes apparently things calmed down and the party succeeded despite Hart's best efforts. You know dad was thinking, "If I wouldn't have stepped in, it would have been just Hart and 2 hopped-up friends in that white-trash tennis club drinking Red Bull all night and ogling one dancer each constantly and taking turns riding down my street in that accursed limo and I'd have to listen to my wife talk some more." That's the kind of person he is.

I just about died when the party was over and dad added up the cost of the party...$250,000! He spent more guilt money than even Ava's dad did, and that's including the $35,000 Range Rover. In retrospect, it seems Ava's not spoiled after all. This is just the going rate for these things. Gosh, how sad is that? How much did they pay to rent the parking garage, $50,000? None of this makes any sense when you think about what was actually at the party. Did they bribe the school to end the dance early, or to make it so lame all the kids would be driven away? You just know dad considered doing that. I mean, the expenses were: rented room, decorations (including superfluous "glow" tennis court), music, hoes, tops. That's it, right? Did dad pay Hart to be there? Is he counting their private jet ride to Miami? Did Tom Cruise make an appearance without MTV's knowledge?**

Hart and dad and stepmom and non-existent real mom and hoes and school chums will all go back to the anonymity they had in Pennsylvania. That's the great thing about MTV: as annoying as these people are, we'll never have to see them again, except in nightmares or Real Word-Road Rules Challenges, and that's only the people from the Real World and Road Rules, so that doesn't apply here. Whew. Another week gone. I don't know how many more of these I can take. Stay tuned, because next week we get to see a girl that is thought of as "hot". What a change from the first three weeks, eh? Actually, the second girl wasn't so hot -- not that I judge people like that, it's just she was a bit...unusual-looking for MTV, shall we say. Anyway, next week (actually, about an hour from now) a hot girl has a party and people are climbing the walls to get in! Just like me! I can't wait!

* Not on alcohol, however. As Brian has stated in the comments section, Red Bull has no booze in it, which is good because Hart's 16. I didn't say he was drunk, but I sure did imply it, and truth be told I was thinking it, and was confused when Hart recovered so quickly. My confusion stems from the fact that Bud and Miller simultaneously came out with competing "Red" beers in the 90's, named Red Dog and Red Wolf, and I was assuming it was one of them. How unhip am I?

** Also in the comments section Brian reminds me of the steak, lobster, pheasant, and sushi. Plus, how could I forget the unlimited Red Bull. I still say that they overpaid for what they got, but then again I don't live in...Pennsylvania.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Tide Us Over

The new laptop burns CD’s real super great. My desktop’s burner always cuts off tracks and kills people. I hate that.

Today I played basketball for two hours, which was about one hour too many. I am incredibly sore right now in my legs and back…I don’t even want to think about how I’m going to feel tomorrow morning

Speaking of basketball, I determined today as I was playing that it’s the best sport ever, so much better than all the others. I understand that this is just my opinion, and that my opinion does not count. Now why do I think it’s so great? Creativity. When you have the ball in your hand with teammates cutting and defenders getting in the way, you don’t always have time to determine the best course of action. Not only that, the defenders are themselves trying to determine what you’re going to do, and trying to take it away. You have to be creative in order to get past the defense and get the ball in it’s proper spot. It’s constant decision and adjustment from split-second to split-second. You have to know both your capabilities and your defenders’, so you can beat them properly. I don’t know if this paragraph makes any sense, but me feelin’ it was the reason I played basketball too long this morning.

Last night and today I re-watched just about all of The Office, as well as Napoleon Dynamite (twice, the second with the commentary track). Now I’m watching Saturday Night Live with Jason Bateman. I’ve pretty much been laughing all day. That “Monkey Poop” skit made me laugh hard. I wasn’t quite LOL, but it was close. “Why is this seat covered in plastic?” Hee.