Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mitt Romney to Ron Paul: “No fair! Stop it! Seriously, that hurts. I’m gonna tell!”

So Mitt Romney has requested, or pitifully demanded, that Republicans vote for whomever has an R next to their name in the upcoming election instead of supporting grass-roots, Tea Partiers, Libertarians or any other “beatnik weirdo longhaired third party”* candidates. (* may not be an actual Mitt Romney quote) Oh, the Ralph Nader sting we felt back in 2000. But here’s the problem with that, Rommers. And I do hope you don’t mind if I call you that. See, people tend to support third party candidates when they feel like their party has veered focus off the issues that actually matter to them. Real simple stuff here, Rommers.

Now, I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday (I’m trying to appeal to the folksy demo like Sarah Palin). I understand that this isn’t about party solidarity. It’s about you soiling your temple garments over the thought of the base being so fractured that a clear majority is impossible and you will actually have to scrap for the nomination. Tough stuff, homes. Listen, I am pretty unabashedly liberal in almost all areas. So don’t think I don't get a little case of joyshorts just thinking about your party imploding on itself. And that’s not to say that Democrats do a tremendously superior job to Republicans, as the differences between the two seem to be dwindling.

But here’s the thing. I’m your demo. I’m your target audience. Provided all my vaccinations are up to date and I can stop eating raw hamburger meat, I probably have another few decades of voting years and elections cycles left in me. And don’t think that I, like my grandfather, am just a straight-ticket Democrat. I can mix it up. I like people who, as middle management might say, think outside the box. Even if there is something other than a “D” after their name. And that, my friend, is where you have screwed the pooch.

I know a fair amount of people my age who are conservative. And, while I hesitate to put words in their mouths, I would venture to say that their concern is not that gay people might be able to legally marry and tear a grapefruit-sized hole in the space time continuum by doing so. They seem to be pretty okay with stem cell research. They don’t, by and large, care about music with explicit lyrics ruining our children, a statue with a boob hanging out or Harry Potter turning all youth into mini Anton LaVeys.

What they do seem to really care about is government spending, bailouts, jobs and the feeling that the federal government has gotten out of control. They probably are really interested in things like state’s rights, though your mileage may vary. In short, they kind of hate you. A lot. Now this is a bit of a curse for them as they seem to be willing to support people based purely on the fact that they have very little experience. Because “experience” to them now denotes someone who has been a cog in the Washington machine for far too long and is part of the problem. That’s a bitch. Seriously. I would imagine that if I spent the better part of my adult life working my way up the ranks to represent my constituents in a local, state or national forum only to then be told that I suck because I spent all that time doing so and not hurling Molotov cocktails at the IRS headquarters, I would be mega-pissed.

But there’s one part of this whole thing for which you, Rommers, are completely culpable. And it’s not just you, homeboy. Your main (non-third-party) rival for the nomination is Mike Huckabee. Now there’s a dude who loves him some social conservatism. He makes you look like Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank splitting a plate of fois gras aboard the SS Socialist. Yes, you’ve got your Republican baby boomers to whom social conservatism might still be of paramount importance. But what about this: you’re a 20 or 30-something conservative. Which of these things keep you up at night: the idea that the government is raising your taxes to help out big companies that operated recklessly at the same time that you are trying to buy your first house and start a family or the idea that Dave and Mike down the street might get married legally in your state in the near future?

Again, I am not too much of a fiscal conservative but I can always see where they are coming from and respect it. But as someone who is on the outside watching this whole thing go down, I have to shake my head and wonder what in the world the Republican party is thinking. Not to be sweepingly dismissive but I generally think your Tea Partiers are kind of batty. I also realize they are a growing and increasingly frustrated movement. And they don’t like anything that seems too “government-y” to them. So you telling them that they should totally vote for the incumbent Republican no matter what just for the sake of the Grand Ol’ Party? Full of fail. Clearly you haven’t seen how self-righteous and indie some people my age get when the name Ron Paul comes up. That guy is like the Wes Anderson of young conservatives.

Hope some of this helps, Rommers. I look forward to your reply. Also, that Scott Brown guy rented a truck. You might want to think about that and maybe call around to Avis and Enterprise and Budget and get some quotes. Maybe get a bloodhound dog to ride in the truck and name him Reagan or Buckley, too. Seriously, man, I’m just trying to help.

Someone Who Was Never Going to Vote for You in the First Place

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Desperate Plea for Help

I need your help. I am desperate. This is not a joke. Please help me!

I need to add to my jogging playlist because the weather’s nice outside and I have found myself working out longer than I apparently was working out last time I was working out. Working out. Anyways, I am taking any and all suggestions. To give you an idea of what I like to listen to when I work out, and to discourage any hipsters from setting up camp and making my brain hurt with their Belle and Sebastian suggestions, here’s my current jogging playlist: (and please, do not for a minute entertain the thought of “Oh look at Amanda trying to show how obscure/ironic/schtick-y her music taste is”, ok?)

“Driver’s Seat” – Sniff n’ the Tears
“Just Got Paid” – Johnny Kemp
“Death of Autotune” – Jay-Z
“Buffalo Stance” – Neneh Cherry
“Genius of Love” – Tom Tom Club
“Two of Hearts” - Stacey Q
“Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga
“When the Lady Smiles’ - Golden Earring
“Boom Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back to My Room)” – Paul Lekasis
“Bat Out of Hell” – Meat Loaf (HI MOM!)
“Disturbia” - Rhianna
“Why?” – Jadakiss
“Horror Business” – Misfits
“Vision Thing” – Sisters of Mercy
“All Too Vivid” – Vega
“More More More” – Andrea True
“Everywhere” – Fleetwood Mac
“Blue Sky” – A-ha
“Freedom ‘90” – George Michael
“I Decided” – Solange
“Kiss You All Over” – Exile
“Call Me Up” – Gang of Four
“Who’s That Girl?” – Annie Lennox
“English Boys With Guns” – Deaf School
“I Know There’s Something Going On” – Freda

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Missed the Boat on Reality Television

I have very little shame in admitting that, as an impressionable youth, I was a fan of The Real World. I liked it when folks stopped being polite and started getting real. I like pegging who was the slut, who was the party animal, who was the one with the “alternative” lifestyle. The show started to lose me when it became one big extended spring break. It’s hard to get into a show when you don’t root for anyone. You’d just rather see them all be confined to some VD clinic or contained in a Biodome, ensuring mankind’s well-being. It seems that my disinterest in the Real World intersected perfectly with the explosion of reality TV’s popularity. I have not only missed the boat, I have run from the pier in the opposite direction screaming.

First there was Survivor and Big Brother and Fear Factor, none of which interested me because I couldn’t find the backstabbing and immunity challenges and alliances interesting in the least. But the next wave of shows were the ones who nailed my reality television coffin shut for good. Laguna Beach and The Hills didn’t just manage to bore me but they actually annoyed and enraged me. Why in the world would I care about the (obviously staged) drama of the very spoiled, very dim, very white and very selfish? I can’t keep my Kristin Cavallaris apart from my Audrina Patridges and the name LC still only conjures a vague and hazy picture of a skinny white girl with a large handbag who drives a much nicer car than me.

As you can tell, I am aware of the existence of these people. I’m not one of those types who scoffs at anyone with a working knowledge of empty pop culture as some unenlightened Neanderthal. Also, I’m a big gossip blog reader. I just can’t keep them straight. And the fact that those two shows gave the world Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt makes my head hit my desk with terminal velocity. This is what we’ve come to, folks. People who take hot knives to their face in order to sell 600 copies of their self-produced pop album or make the cover of a tabloid weekly which will be thrown away by an airline cleaning crew and forgotten next week.

While I don’t enjoy the shows, I am fascinated by those who do. I think there are genuinely people who watch these shows to see all the twists and turns of the cast members, as if they really are just going about their lives with the small intrusion of a discreet camera crew shadowing them. I assume this is the same mentality that keeps professional wrestling going. But far be it from me to begrudge anyone their “stories”. What interests me more are people I know who, by and large, believe the shows to be mostly fiction but see them as a guilty pleasure. I don’t think anything is actually a guilty pleasure (maybe outside of heroin or the spoonfuls of butter flavored Crisco I used to sneak into the kitchen and enjoy late at night as a kid) if you actually like it.

Some shows, like The Amazing Race, I do understand the appeal of. Not for me personally, but I can understand rooting for your favorite team. But then there’s a show like The Bachelor. I know plenty of people, almost all female, who admit to watching The Bachelor regularly. This blows my mind. Even if they claim they watch it in an ironic, smirking kind of way, how in the world is that show anything short of complete science fiction? So you’re going to fill a house with women who will go to various bases with one “hunky” man, all in the hopes of being the one to get the rose or the ring or the Chili’s coupon or whatever the final token is? And then you’re going to pick girls to root for and girls to “boo! hiss!” based on the footage you are shown. And these friends of mine are intelligent people who surely understand that anyone, with a little creative editing, can be made to fit whatever character mold a show’s producer thinks would be most entertaining. Blows my mind.

Then, while on vacation visiting family in Georgia last week, I saw my first episode of American Idol. I have never had a negative opinion, or for that matter any opinion really, on American Idol. I think that some of the people who have won or come close to winning (Jennifer Hudson springs to mind) are fantastically talented. I even have quite the burning crush on Simon Cowell, based on his appearances on my reality show of choice, Top Gear. In fact, I always wonder why people go on and on about how mean he is. He’s playing a character, one who elicits strong reactions from viewers. I think the man might be borderline genius. And since I had never watched AI before last week, I didn’t ever see a clip of him saying anything that was either heinously mean or grossly untrue.

So my family likes American Idol. And I thought I would watch a bit. And I officially find its’ appeal as mystifying as Area 51 and the Bible. I don’t hate it. I’m just so confused by it. So so confused. So the point of the show is to find the next great entertainer? Obviously, as it is a TV show and only pretty people should appear on TV, I understand the need for all contestants to be young and, for the most part, nice to look at. But the songs! And the singers singing those songs! Maybe I caught a bad episode but it was like listening to buckets of wallpaper paste audition to be entertainers on a Carnival cruise line. There’s a guy who plays a guitar, like a mall Santa version of Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, John Mayer et al. There’s the edgy “could be country/could be pop” girl with streaks in her hair. There’s soulful black guy/girl.

Bearing in mind that on a good day, I can maybe carry a tune in a bucket with the assistance of a Radio Flyer wagon, I have no criticisms to offer on their actual singing. In fact, the clips that I have always seen of the first few weeks of Idol (when we all get to laugh at the silly people who have been told by loving relatives that they really do have a nice singing voice) always leave me looking around the room. Wait, was that a bad one or a good one? I know I’m supposed to laugh at William Hung or the Pants on the Ground guy. But there’s a big grey area where I can’t tell if the girl singing the Mariah Carey song, replete with histrionics, is going to be pitied or told they’ve made it to the next round. It’s a razor thin line between awful, laughable singing and the next Maria Callas apparently.

I thought that American Idol was supposed to be like singing summer camp with the added humiliation of being run down by millionaires on national TV for fun. I thought that if you showed enough promise and potential, the American Idol juggernaut would chisel you into a (jazz hands) true all-around performer. So why is it that 80% of the show’s focus is how the judges get along, which judge is nicest, phone numbers and nuclear codes you should text into RIGHT NOW so that you are a living, breathing cog in the machine and you have done your small part to make someone’s dreams a reality. The performers and their performances that I saw on the show seemed to take an obvious backseat to Ryan zinging one of the judges or one of the judges breaking rank and issuing forth their gems of wisdom. Because apparently being a stand-up comedienne turned sitcom star turned talk show host is what makes you a good voice coach.

I don’t want to sound too “shaking my cane at neighborhood kids” about all of this. I’m sure that there’s something I’m missing. But I can’t summon up the interest to pull for any of these kids. I don’t care how that one person that’s not Randy, Ellen or Simon gets along with either Randy, Ellen or Simon. The fact that I’ve been able to write this many words about it means that there is obviously merit to the show. I just can’t understand the appeal. Maybe I’ll give it a shot again when The X Factor starts up since the wider spectrum of contestants might make things a little more interesting. But I’ll probably just watch a few episodes to objectify Simon Cowell with my eyes and gaze at his pretty teeth.