Monday, July 30, 2012

Birthday playlist

1. The Endless Enigma Part 1 -- Emerson, Lake & Palmer

2. J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva) -- Green Day

3. Time -- Pink Floyd

4. Hold On -- John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band

5. Hard Times -- Bob Dylan

6. No Earthly Good -- Johnny Cash

7. Passionate Kisses -- Lucinda Williams

8. Top of the World -- Shonen Knife

9. Red Rubber Ball -- The Cyrkle

10. A Church is Burning -- Paul Simon

11. I Won't Back Down -- Johnny Cash

12. Hard Times -- Bruce Sprinsteen & the E Street Band

13. God's Gonna Cut You Down -- Johnny Cash

14. Help Me to Help Myself -- John Lennon

15. I'm Still Here -- Yvonne De Carlo, from Follies

16. The Endless Enigma Part 2 -- Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Friday, July 20, 2012

This Present Dark Knonsense

I wasn't going to comment at all on the surprising events in Aurora, Colorado last night where a young guy opened fire in a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Crazy events are troubling, but they are the exception and not the rule. Every now and then some radical will do something horrific in some unexpected setting. It is the way of the world in this present darkness. However, to blame the movie for it or to take drastic actions across the country because of a clearly isolated incident is foolish fearmongering; and to discuss it too much brings the danger of making this guy famous.

It's reasonable for people to be shocked, and it is reasonable for news to be covering it, as it is a major story that deserves coverage. But it should end there. A paranoia has ensued. People who bought tickets already have refused to go to screenings of the movie today out of fear. Yet there is no indication  that there would be copycats or that there were any more than one man working. This film was screened at midnight last night in thousands of theaters across the country and this is the only incident. Furthermore, it is reasonable to presume that the "event" nature of the midnight screening attracted him in the first place, and I consider it unlikely that any subsequent screenings will bring further actions from other people elsewhere. Theaters have now banned anyone from coming in costume, as if that will ensure safety. Yes, the guy was wearing body armor but the real issue is that he had guns on him and no one else did. This is just as ridiculous as when schools were banning black coats after Columbine. There was also talk of Warner Bros. pulling screenings of the film, which is ridiculous and I'm glad they aren't going to do so. The movie is not to blame. Even if you want to blame Batman (and claims that the shooter referred to himself as "the Joker" might lend credence), this film in particular isn't responsible. It would have to be the previous film, a suggestion which is still dubious. Yet Warners has decided to edit the trailers and remove all images of guns from them.

These sorts of events are rare but they do happen. The public often wants to jump on the blame train and find some cause that they can eliminate. But look, crazy people are crazy and do crazy things. There was a stabbing (I think it was a stabbing; might have been a shooting) at the theater in Framingham about ten years ago at a screening of the (now forgotten) horror movie, Valentine. It was nowhere near this massive an assault, but it happened. There may not have been any prior signs he would act this way, or there may have. Now everyone who knew him will try to qualify their interactions with him, second guessing every little conversation, glance, statement or lack of one. While some of these are natural human reactions, my biggest problem is with the way the media will foster them.

And so it is that the primary reason for this post will be mentioned. Tonight, CBS preempted its usual programming to air an hour-long 48 Hours special: "Tragedy in Aurora." It contains interviews with people out in Colorado, discussions of the victims, speculations on the shooter, and all the sorts of things you'd expect. And yes, I might even expect this type of thing after a national tragedy eventually. I'd have a problem with it then too, but not nearly so much as I do at this moment. This event occurred early this morning. It has only been about 20 hours before this piece was aired. That means that CBS News spent the entire day flying out to Colorado, shooting and editing content all to put this piece on the air. This is beyond simple nightly news reporting; this is flagrant exploitation and it sickens me. They have to be the first ones to air this thing. It JUST HAPPENED! Simple reporting is one thing, but for the television news cycle to swoop down and make content from it that no one has demanded that very day is astonishing. Let Aurora grieve, let the police do their job, let justice be served, and stay out of the way.

I recently watched the Billy Wilder film Ace in the Hole (also known as The Big Carnival), which was a fairly prescient movie about the media circus that surrounds tragedy. And this television special strikes me as being in that same vane. I do highly recommend the film, by the way. Kirk Douglas puts in a great performance. I have seen a lot of television reaction to tragic events over the years. I remember Fox pulling the broadcast of Independence Day that was scheduled for the weekend after September 11, 2001 and running Mrs. Doubtfire instead. I remember the special news magazine programs that dealt with the Columbine shooting or other similar events, often on anniversaries. But I have never seen a network so quick to pounce as to air something the very day of a massacre. Shame on you, CBS.

"Upset the established order and everything becomes chaos." - The Joker, The Dark Knight

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Regarding Omens

I read on Sunday that a white buffalo had recently been born. I immediately wondered about its significance, either to me personally, or on a bigger scale.

A white buffalo is an extreme rarity. So their births are seen as portentous. But beyond that, among many indigenous American peoples, the white buffalo is a sacred omen of renewal, a powerful symbol traced back to legend. Among the Lakota (and I think other tribes, but I'm not expert), there is the legend of the White Buffalo Woman. She was a beautiful woman who appeared and taught the people many things, and when she was finished she turned into a white buffalo and disappeared. So in the years since, whenever a white buffalo is born it is seen as a sign by the tribe; a special holy event. There is going to be a special naming ceremony for this particular buffalo at the end of the month.

But the ominous nature of it was greater for me when I read that this particular buffalo was born to a farmer in Goshen, Connecticut. First, Connecticut seems an even more unlikely locale for an already unlikely event. And secondly, I cannot shake the significance of the name Goshen. That was the region of Egypt where the Israelites settled, were ultimately enslaved, and Moses was born. For the Lakota, a white buffalo is almost like the second coming of Christ. Add that with Goshen, a name calling to mind the rising of Moses, and I wonder if there is some reason for this. I don't hold to the truth of American legend, but this time I can't help wondering if it is an omen of some sort. Or was it simply something that I was meant to see; a sign to me personally? An indicator of good change finally coming?

It may not mean anything and may be purely coincidental. But I was gladdened to read this news on Sunday because it felt important. Whether it is or not, I know at least that the Lord does work in mysterious ways...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Only In Dreams

Last night I had a dream wherein I was visiting the web site of some nonexistent popular singer. Said singer had a stage name, but her real name was provided on the site as well, and that name was Angelina Sherpickle. When I woke up, there was something so oddly familiar about that name. I did not remember where it had come from, but I had a feeling that I had not created it; I was certain that it had simply been stored from some time previous and recalled by my unconscious mind in dream state. So the first thing that I did was to go to Google and search the name. At first, I misremembered it as Regina Sherpickle, but there were no results found. When I remembered the correct name, I tried again, but to no avail. I tried searching variant spellings, but all results came up void.

What then could this mean? Have I indeed concocted a strange name that I have some memory of in my own mind? Is said memory a vestige of prior dreaming? Or perhaps the name exists somewhere beyond the scope even of Google? Wikipedia was similarly no help.

I don't know what to think about this, but I found it curious. It is unlikely that anyone else knows anything about an Angelina Sherpickle, but if perhaps someone does, I'd be interested. Maybe it's Angelica Sherpickle? No, that can't be. Now, should anyone search the name this post will be the lone result. Odd the things we remember in dreams.

But when we wake
It's all been erased
And so it seems
Only in dreams