Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbors Dog!

okay, okay, it sounds stupid. i caught myself coveting a person's dog(s) the other day. see, sometimes when i walk my dog, a person on my block also happens to be walking her dogs (twin huskies, pure bred).

i almost cower in shame when i see them though, because my dog is, well, mangey (without the that how you spell mangey?...pron. main-gee...), and her dogs are always well groomed and perfectly behaved.

my dog jumps all over any dog that she comes across (not in a sexual way, just in an "hey, it's great to see you!!!" kind of way).

my dog is whiney and barks a lot (and apparently sometimes howls when my wife and i go away). i have never heard a peep out of her dogs.

now, don't get me wrong, this woman clearly takes pride in her dogs and wants them to be neatly groomed. however, she has never once acted superior or condescending because i don't. she has never acted like her dogs are better than my dog, unlike a certain show poodle owner on our block.

but the last time i came across her on one of her dog-walks, i thought to myself, "man, it would be great to have such well behaved dogs!" it's not that i don't love my's just that...hell, i don't know what i'm trying to say...

is it wrong to covet my neighbor's dogs???

Hip Hop Confessions

i feel guilty sometimes. you see, there are certain things that our sterotype radar permits us without any nagging. for instance, it's fine for me to listen to pop, metal, punk rock, etc. these are some genres that i enjoy partaking in. however, there is also rap or even hip hop (i think i understand the difference between the two, but talking about it is neither the point of this post, nor is it really even important). this is where i sometimes hear a little voice that says, "uh...what are you doing?" the point is that sometimes my sense of stereotypes tells me i have no right. having grown up in a wasp-y, middle-class family, in good neighborhoods, sometimes i hear this voice in my head that tells me i shouldn't be listening to rap because i can't relate to the things that hip hop or rap artists relate in their songs, nor could i appreciate the value of them. of course, some of this was relieved when eminem got big, but he still talks about a life that i could never relate to. so what right do i have?

here's the thing...a few years ago i went to go see public enemy. now, as far as i was concerned, this was one of the biggest musical experiences that i would have possibly in my entire life. those of you who aren't interested in rap won't relate to this,'s...public...enemy! they've never been to my town before and probably never will be again, thanks to certain legal troubles that some of the members of the group have had. earlier in the year, run dmc did a show here, too. i missed that and i would be damned if i was going to miss public enemy. i mean, if you've ever seen "do the right thing" (and you definitely should...any interest you might have in movies BEHOOVES you to see that movie)...if you've ever seen that movie, you know the power that public enemy has to sweep you up into a world you've never experienced ("we've got to fight the powers that be!").

so i went to the public enemy show, wondering what the atmosphere would be like. now, like most good people, i hope and pray that i do not have a racist impulse anywhere in my entire being, but know that there may be a few that come up unexpectedly that i have to fight off. that said, i wondered if i would draw some stares, assuming i would be one of only a few white folks at the show. boy was i wrong. first of all, there were a lot more white people there than i expected. secondly, if any of the black folks (or even people of other ethnicities) had a problem with me, as a white guy, being there...well, i wouldn't have been able to tell. the atmosphere could not have been more comfortable. i didn't feel like an outsider at all, i felt like i belonged there.

i think the idea is that, whether you share similar experiences with an artist (be it music, film, or otherwise), the point of their artistic expression is to demonstrate the point of view that their experiences have informed/influenced/created. now, most of you may be saying, "duh!". but that kind of concept is not always as easy to apply as it otherwise might be. the fact that eminem has had the experiences that he has had probably did something to earn him some respect, but i think most of the respect he's gotten in hip hop has to do with his talent or skill to be an effective storyteller.

while i could never necessarily understand what it is to experience the violence, poverty, or even just desperation that hip hop artists describe in their music, i believe that it is possible to be closer to some sort of empathy or appreciation for that point of view if i listen to their music than if i don't. as far as i'm concerned, that compels to me to listen to it, and hear what they're saying. do i have a right? i don't know!...

i'm white, and i listen to rap.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

movies i hate

someone said something to me once that really pissed me off. he said, "it sure seems like you like a lot of crappy movies," (i'm paraphrasing, but the term "crappy movies" was definitely in there). of course, i got defensive...but i think that's what he was going for.

i guess if i was to look at it from someone else's perspective, that guy may be "right". see, i was at a job interview for a movie rental place not too long ago, and there were 2 "scenario" questions during the course of the interview. this is where the interviewer wants you to put yourself into a certain scenario and gauge your reaction against a range of things that he/she wants to hear.

the first scenario was easy, "put yourself in a situation where someone comes into the store and is thinking about renting a particular movie which you happen to have enjoyed. this person asks you whether or not you think they should rent the movie. what would you say?" i like a lot of movies, so that was easy.

scenario 2 was just the opposite, "think of a movie you hated." i froze. i just couldn't think of one. why is that? there are plenty of movies that i hate(d). true, i like a lot of them, but i'm not above seeing a movie and wishing i had that time back.

for this reason, here, now, is a list of movies i've hated (in some cases, i am listing only the title of a series of movies, if i hate all the movies in a given series). now, this list is by no means meant to be exhaustive. i've even included the name of a genre (no more than 1 at this writing). i obviously haven't seen all movies in the genre listed, but all the ones that i have seen have caused me to wish i was, instead, having every hair on my body torn out one at a time.

i make sweeping generalizations from time to time. but, for practical reasons, i have tried to make sure that my list is not characterized by sweeping generalizations (except the whole genre thing).

of course, i am listing only movies i have seen all/part of. i don't recall ever renting/paying to see a movie and stoping in the middle of the movie (unless i was with others and they left me no choice... i.e. it would have been stopped by a general but not unanymous decision), so for the most part these will be movies that i've seen all of.

with some of the items on the list, it may be the case that it was on TV and i decided not to suffer the duration, but these are mainly ones viewed in the context of "we're watching a movie now". at the top of the list i provide the date because occasionally i may be thinking and remember another that's not on the list.

perhaps a future post may contain the names of 3 movies that i love and why.

so, if you don't like that the name of a particular movie or series is on my with it! we live in a day and age when it's apparently no longer considered fashionable to be too concerned about the p.c. of one's opinions about film:

(July 19/04)
1. Star Wars
2. James Bond
3. Freddie Got Fingered (and i like tom green)
4. Bridges of Madison County
5. The Horse (Hoarse) Whisperer
6. Somewhere in Africa
7. Love Story
8. Dirty Dancing
9. Clockwork Orange
10. musicals
11. The Man Who Wasn't There
12. Citizen Kane
13. Casablanca
14. A River Runs Through It
15. Love Story (as bile rises in my throat)
(to be cont'd...)