Beautiful Resignation.

Posted in WhatNot on September 16th, 2014 by Diva

I don’t care for most poetry, but there are rare instances I find some that just works for me.

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

Just an excerpt of Japanese Maple by Clive James, found in this week’s New Yorker. The full poem may be read here.

Before you click through to read it, though, take note: Mr. James is terminally ill.

Something in your eye, too?

The Parkway.

Posted in WhatNot on September 12th, 2014 by Diva

One of my favorite things about living on a parkway is seeing out our front window.

Picture Window 9-12-14

On a cold day like today – it’s 45° at this writing – it’s nice to sit on the couch closest to the view with a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Today, I read articles and blog posts related to how atheists process grief after the death of a loved one.

One of my favorite things about living on our particular parkway is the proximity to Fairmount Cemetery. During summer, my love and I ride our scooters over to check out the many markers and mausoleums of people who once were.

View of Fairmount Cemetery in Denver, Colorado

On a warm day like tomorrow – the forecast says it will be in the mid-70s – we pack a snack and some tasty beverages and wander about the place both on wheels and on foot. We’ve done this for five summers and always found some new beauty, tragedy, or oddity there amongst the dead. Today, I reminded him we should make our annual trek before the weather gets too inhospitable for scooter rides.

But one of my absolute favorite things about living on our particular parkway is sitting at my front picture window and seeing a funeral procession headed to Fairmount.

Victor Hugo Funeral
They look nothing like Victor Hugo’s 1885 funeral,
but it
is a copyright-free image.

On a day with any weather – because death continues, unabated, through all seasons – it’s fascinating to see the hearse, limousine(s), and parade of mourners in vehicles go by. I always wonder about the deceased and feel for the families, but I mostly find myself counting the cars and contemplating my own mortality.

But not today. I just can’t.

No.

(Another) Battle for the Net.

Posted in SoForth, This I Believe, WhatNot on September 9th, 2014 by Diva

And it’s just as serious as before, if not more.

See, this is what the Internet will look like if we don’t step up and fight for Net Neutrality:

Net Neutrality

Seriously. Cable and phone companies are trying to throttle the free and open web so they can charge people more to have faster Internet. That means users who can’t afford to pay more will no longer have the access we all democratically enjoy right now. From the folks at the forefront of this fight, Battle For The Net:

Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.

Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?

Keep the Internet Weird

On September 10th [TOMORROW], just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.

If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here.

Everyone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown.

No Seriously People

Just be sure to do SOMETHING to let the greedy behemoth corporations know:

The free and open Internet genie is NOT going back in the bottle.

#InternetSlowdown

I Didn’t Do It.

Posted in SoForth on September 7th, 2014 by Diva

Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural.
~ William Makepeace Thackeray,
Vanity Fair

Everyone wants those who have done them wrong to pay.

Beware the fury of a patient man.
~ John Dryden,
Absalom and Achitophel

It takes a lot of bullshit to get some people to thoughts of vengeance.

Years of abuse, sometimes.

If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, do we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
~ William Shakespeare,
The Merchant Of Venice (Act 3, scene 1)

The victim isn’t always the initiator.

Sometimes there is family. A large one. Global, even.

People should either be caressed or crushed.
If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge;
but if you cripple them there is nothing they can do.
If you need to injure someone, do it in such a way
that you do not have to fear their vengeance.
~ Niccolò Machiavelli,
The Prince

Never leave anyone with nothing left to lose.

Just sit back and watch as they lose it anyway – usually by their own hand.

Was it worth it?

Can We Talk?

Posted in WhatNot on September 6th, 2014 by Diva

So Joan Rivers died this week.

Of course I loved her. Wry, brash, acerbic, and just about as politically incorrect as anyone could be. She never quit, even after being dropped by her friend and hero Johnny Carson and her husband’s suicide, both of which happened within months of each other. She was the living embodiment of my mother’s saying, “I’m either going to laugh or I’m going to cry, and dammit, the bastards are never going to see me cry.”

Best of all, she never let up. Compare her jokes from 25 years ago …

… with jokes from 2013.

That is some longevity in style right there. Not to mention some fantastic clothes.

If you haven’t, see the 2010 documentary A Piece of Work sometime. It’s eye-opening and inspirational to see just how hard that woman worked to get where she was. Remember, she rose to the top in a male-dominated profession, never hid her many plastic surgeries from the cameras, never took herself so seriously she wouldn’t poke fun in an episode of Nip/Tuck or in commercials, and didn’t take any shit from anyone. Just two months ago she stormed out of a (vapid and uninteresting, in my opinion) LIVE interview on CNN. What’s not to love?

Her passing gave a moment to reflect on the old guard of comedy. Sid Caesar died last year; Phyllis Diller and Jonathan Winters not long before that. There aren’t many left, but we have a few. Don Rickles. Shelley Berman. Dick van Dyke. Bob Newhart. Mort Sahl. Betty White. Shecky Greene. Carl Reiner. Mel Brooks.

Rather than mourn when they go, let’s celebrate they’re all still here. Carl Reiner maintains his own active Twitter account. So does Don Rickles. Even if they don’t, it wouldn’t take but a moment to wish any of them happy birthday or tell them thanks for all the laughs via any social network. Hell, send an email to their management or agent. Fan letters are still a thing, even if we no longer snail mail them. I started with a happy 85th Tweet to Bob Newhart’s profile a day or two ago.

I even re-Tweeted Norman Lear yesterday. Seriously. Norman-freakin’-Lear.

Meanwhile, what has turned out to be the final episode of Fashion Police – this year’s Emmy edition – sits on my DVR. I haven’t watched it yet. I’m saving it for a depressing double feature with the upcoming PBS Pioneers of Television tribute to Robin Williams.

Something in my eye …

Seize the Day.

Posted in WhatNot on August 21st, 2014 by Diva

Goddammit, Symphony of Science.

Goddammit.

Snap Out of It.

Posted in WhatNot on August 19th, 2014 by Diva

I’ve never – not once – asked a mutual friend how an ex is doing or where they are. It’s none of my business. My job is to get on with my own life, not live vicariously or obtain Schadenfreude through theirs.

Move the Fuck On

So if you’re looking to hear stories about someone you used to be close to, or find you get some kind of satisfaction in their failures, you should probably know how sad that is.

Mr. Rogers

Can’t say you’d be happier if you stopped comparing your life to those of people who no longer speak to you, but it might help. Or at least stop talking about it, privately or publicly, because mutual friends are rarely happy with bearing the queries, my friend.

I know because they said so.

Shaddup

And if you think for 10 seconds this post is all about you, well, it just might be.

Anne Lamott Quote (420px)

But probably not.

Move along, nothing to see here.

That’s Not Funny.

Posted in WhatNot on August 18th, 2014 by Diva

I donated to a crowd-funded movie project by Mike Celestino last year. As a comedy fan and a huge proponent of free speech, I thought the film and its premise would be a good bet.

That’s Not Funny, “a dead serious documentary about comedy,” looks at so-called taboo humor. You know, jokes on race, 9/11, Hitler, rape, and other subjects some folks find anywhere from uncomfortable to outright offensive.

It was completed a few months back and has only played in three cities thus far – Los Angeles, Orlando, and Denver – while Celestino (presumably) enters it in film festivals and shops it around for distribution.

If you live in the Denver area and are wondering why you haven’t heard of this film or its recent local screening, I only caught it by happy accident myself. Sometime Saturday afternoon I saw a Tweet it would be part of the films brought by the visiting Freethought Film Festival Foundation at the Colorado Secular Conference.

And there we were, already at the conference – sweet serendipity!

Let me just say I couldn’t be happier with the investment. Celestino, as host and narrator, walks the viewer through a history of vulgar-yet-funny, hilarious-and-not-so, awesome-and-sometimes-just-awful politically incorrect humor, from blackface through The Onion and beyond. Nothing is sacred, save perhaps the patron saints of subversive stand-up, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Richard Pryor. The film doesn’t even back away from the problems with the recent on-stage tirades of Michael Richards, Daniel Tosh, and even Joan Rivers.

Of course, I am reviewing this as a comedy nerd who could name each and every movie, actor, TV show, and comedian in the film, sometimes down to the release year and episode number. As with all entertainment, your mileage may vary.

And I certainly want comedy fans to see it, but honestly, we’re the ones who get it already. We understand you don’t heckle at a live show – comedians are professionals who will OWN you by the time it’s over, regardless of the occasional (and rare) Richards- or Tosh-like crash-and-burn moment. We’re the folks who read and nod along to Patton Oswalt’s treatises on comedy without feeling the need to comment or correct haters and we don’t bother to write long posts about the worst of humanity we find on 4chan. We are fully aware humor is subjective and what one person finds funny another will find desperately offensive.

We are the choir – we don’t need the preacher.

Who does? The people who take comedy – and/or life in general – waaaay too seriously. You know them. They’re the ones who heckle jokes they don’t like, boycott TV shows they don’t understand, cry out for social justice because they personally find a subject too taboo for jokes, or walk out on an Oxford professor’s talk because they’re offended.

Meh. As with all such things, the people who need the lesson most will probably skip it. It’s just as well, too; to paraphrase Matt Dillahunty at the very same conference I saw the movie, no argument alone will draw a believer out of belief. Or, as my favorite living stand-up, Doug Stanhope, puts it, “That’s like trying to kick water uphill. It ain’t gonna work.”

I know it won’t. Kick when necessary and dream meanwhile.

Sometimes you run out of bubble gum.

This One Might Take Awhile.

Posted in WhatNot on August 13th, 2014 by Diva

I’ve added several links to my immediately previous post about Robin Williams. They’re in the comment section and most are from fellow comedians.

Lest anyone think I’m overwrought, I’m not. I just find what the best funny people in the business have to say about one of my all-time favorites endlessly fascinating. I should note the first comedy album I bought with my own allowance cash was this one:

Robin Williams Reality What a Concept (crop)

It took me years to get all the jokes on it, which is cool, because it meant the recording was new to me every few years I listened. It’s like re-watching any MST3K after fresh input and new learning – you get a lot more of the jokes than you did the first time around.

I’m not mad at him. I didn’t know him. I don’t know what he was going through. No one does, not even those closest to him in life.


This is just one of those strange moments when, as a non-believer, I find myself wishing and longing for an afterlife, if only so he can see the outpouring of love and grief.

A whole human life is just a heartbeat here in Heaven.
Then we’ll all be together forever.
~ Robin Williams in
What Dreams May Come (1998)

RIP Robin Williams.

Posted in WhatNot on August 11th, 2014 by Diva

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

~Walt Whitman

“Thoreau said ‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation …”

Unfortunately, some do resign to that.