Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thoughts on the Royal Wedding

So Prince whats-his-face married Mrs. Who-ya-call-her over in jolly old England. Most of the English speaking world either flocked to London or turned on their TVs, radios, computers, or whatever to watch as this well-to-do couple tie the knot in what the media has touted as "a fairy tale wedding."

To be sure, the ceremony was impressive to watch. All the colorful uniforms, the pageantry, and the old WWII planes even made me a little teary-eyed for old Albion (you see that? I go to college and learn fancy words). But, as an American, I have no real interest in the lives of royalty from any country. It's like driving down a country road and spotting a cow chewing on grass. It's fun to look at, but I have more important things to worry about, like watching the road and not crashing into the big rig in front of me and become a paraplegic for the rest of my life.

I have nothing personal against Prince William and Miss Catherine Kate; I hope they have a happy life together. I just don't care what Kate was wearing or that William picked his nose when the cameras weren't on him.

How about you all? Did you watch the wedding? If so, what did you think of it?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter in San Francisco

My family and I attended Easter service at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco today. Alan, my younger brother, was hired to play his trumpet for them and got a nice $430 check out of it (woo hoo!).

I didn't drive to San Francisco, oh no. I have sworn to never ever drive anywhere in that town. The streets are suicidally steep and the locals are just plain nutty. Fortunately, my mother lived in this city before and got us to the cathedral in one piece.

The cathedral was impressive. I kept looking around at the architecture throughout the ceremony like a gawky tourist, but this Missouri boy couldn't help himself. It was that impressive.

The ceremony itself was fine, but what I enjoyed the most was watching my brother playing with the small brass concert. He was the youngest out of the group of six musicians, which says a lot about his skills.

It's good to see Alan doing well with his music. He's still going to school and pursuing a music major. He hopes to one day play his music for movie soundtracks, particularly movies done by Pixar. I wish him the best of luck with his musical career.

Oh, and here's some pictures I took:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Is TV really to blame?

A gentleman from Berkeley said to me that I "would be a better human being if I threw out my TV."

Sounds like a good idea, but I'm not totally convinced yet.

I agree that most TV shows nowadays lack creative substance and are designed to sell products rather than to entertain or enlighten, but that doesn't mean quality television doesn't exist. Shows like Dr. Who, House, and Community are a few examples of shows that are superbly written and poignant. And who can forget Star Trek: TNG and Tales from the Crypt from decades past?

And then there's the news. There are just too many so-called news programs out there that are more concerned with sensationalist drivel rather than reporting facts. It could be worse, I suppose. At least we still have newspapers (you remember those, right?).

So what do you all think?
Do you think that you would lead a happier life if you threw out your TV?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Protest and Survive(?)

Because governor Jerry Brown couldn't get his special election, the universities of the golden state face massive cuts to, well, everything. As a result, students and faculty have called for a state-wide walk out to protest the possible evisceration of higher education.

I didn't join my fellow students-in-arms to fight the man because I was at home, reading The Blithedale Romance and Howards End for my English classes.
You know, something called homework.

Did I want to spend my day waving signs and shouting?

No. I didn't believe it would have been a good use of my time.

I was turned off by the heavy atmosphere of fear and anger over the potential budget cuts. The battle cry for these protests was "get angry," but I didn't agree with this approach. People should get passionate about the things they care about, but getting angry doesn't help anyone.

A great Jedi master had something to say about fear and anger:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Beer, Bowling, and Baseball

A friend of mine had his 25th birthday today. To celebrate, we got together at a bowling lane and had a couple of games. Some friends from his philosophy class came by as well and I had the pleasure of meeting them for the first time. We indulged in a pitcher of beer and a basket of french fries as we knocked down pins and had a few laughs (I stuck to water because I was a designated driver).

About an hour into our bowling session, we took a break so that our friend could open his presents. Now, it should be known that our group is a motley crew of gamers and geeks, so the gifts given to our friend were unconventional, to say the least. One present was a bar of chocolate bacon (or was it bacon-flavored chocolate?). I had a taste of this and found it very...odd. First, there was chocolate, warm and smokey moving down my tongue and then, when it hit the back of my throat, bam! Bacon (I'm still not sure if I liked it or not). Another present was a small, homemade straw figurine of Polynesian design. Evidently, it was a statue to a goddess of oral sex. Don't ask.

Soon after the gift giving, an announcement was made over the intercom: The co-owner of the bowling lane had died just a few hours ago. We were asked to stop bowling and have a moment of silence. All the noise in the building came to a slow halt. After several seconds of silence, they thanked us and asked us to continue bowling. The noise gradually returned as if an invisible hand were adjusting the volume of the world around us.

Finished with bowling, we got into our cars and drove to a nearby pub for dinner. The pub was packed with people watching the Giants play against the Cardinals on the wide screen TVs. Fortunately, we were able to find a table large enough to seat us. A pair of musicians were strumming guitars in the corner as we ate and drank more beer (ice tea, for me).
The band played Don McLean's American Pie.
The crowd sang along:

So bye, bye Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry

And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye

Singing this'll be the day that I die

This'll be the day that I die

While eating our meal, we watched the baseball game. It was the bottom of the ninth and the Giants had a man on first and second base. The Cardinals were leading, two to one. The batter for the Giants stepped up to the plate. He swung and popped the ball into the air down center field. A pair of catchers for the Cardinals were directly underneath it, ready to grab it. At first, it looked like they had caught it, but then an incredible thing happened.

The ball fell right out of their hands.

The Giants had won, three to two.

The crowd in the pub exploded with cheering and shouting. It was like an eruption of pure joy. Everyone was on their feet clapping, cheering, and laughing.

At the end of dinner, we sang the happy birthday song for our friend as he ate a slice of cheesecake. We then spent about half an hour just shooting the shit, catching up on old times and talking about whatever. Once we had our fill of food and conversation, we wished each other a good night and went our separate ways.

Driving home, I thought about how strange and wonderful life can be sometimes.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Be One with the Shoes

There's something about shopping for a new pair of shoes that makes me groan and gnash my teeth. I think it has to do with the atmosphere.

Mellow, sleep-inducing music with a distinct country flavor filled my ears as I navigated the men's footwear aisle at Kohl's today. I examined boxes of Flias, Sketchers, Avias, Vans, and New Balance shoes, trying to decide which pair would fit me the best.

On the walls were portraits of handsome athletes playing basketball, jogging, or swimming. Other portraits have them just hanging out, smiling and laughing as if they heard the funniest joke in the world and had died laughing soon after the picture was taken.

Looking at these portraits, I was reminded of what an English professor once told me: "all things created by people are an argument."

Unfortunately, these portraits could not speak, but if they did they would say, "don't be satisfied with how you look. We are the ideal images of physical perfection and if you don't buy from this store then you won't be as good looking as us. You want to get laid, right?"

Another portrait, in the teen section, showed a group of young girls hanging out in the back of a car, taking a photograph of themselves. The focal point of the image was, of course, on the bright shoes they were wearing that matched their bubbly personalities. Argument: Our shoes are cool and your friends will like you better if you buy them. Your friendship is only as good as the shoes you wear, so buy, buy, buy! Repeat after me: Be one with the shoes. Be one with the shoes.

The pair of shoes I finally decided on were on sale. Hey, at least I saved some money.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

And Suddenly...Goats.

Every Spring the city of Benicia hires out this gentleman to bring in his herd of goats and use them as all-natural lawn mowers. I took this picture of the goats from my backyard just before heading off to school. It was funny to watch them jump all over the branches of those trees.

This is a brilliant idea. Not only do they help prevent grass fires and keep the hills nice, but people love to bring their kids and watch them as they eat.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Happy Late April Fool's Day

I have this love-hate relationship with April Fool's day.

On one hand, I love it because people can get really creative with their pranks and make me smile. I am not talking about immature high school pranks such as spray painting a giant penis on campus (still not impressed with that, class of '06). I'm talking about carefully crafted yarns that are ridiculous but believable. They draw you in because they are so over-the-top and make you wonder "is this for real?" But then it dawns on you that you've been had and (guess what?) been made a fool.

On the other hand, I hate the day because I always end up as the fool.

I suppose I'm just a gullible kind of guy. If I trust the person I'm talking to, then I am usually inclined to believe what he or she says. Sometimes people have gone too far and played some dirty tricks on me (which I will not get into), but for most of the time they do it in the spirit of good jest.

I once had a Spanish teacher who got me pretty good on April 1st. He showed me a picture of himself from a vacation in Florida. In the picture, he was standing on a street corner. Behind him was a street sign with his same last name. He told me that he got the city to name the street after him. "Wow," I said, "how did you do that?" He then smiled and admitted this wasn't true. Ha, ha. Nice one, Dr. G.

So here's a late toast to the Day of Fools. Cheers.