Decent article on our culture of haterism.

“And yet we derive our own identities from the act of hating. We connect on the things we are disappointed in.”   -Patrick Stump, Fall Out Boy

I would have used different examples than Mr. Stump used, and that’s alright.  The message gets across.

“Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to go around playing nice and never admitting that they dislike things. That’d be ridiculous. But perhaps we as a culture have exhausted (at least for a little while) whatever can positively be gained by ignorantly dismissing things as loudly as we can.”

Our new culture of negativity is so tiring for me (yes, I seem to be hating on haters), and I do hope that the next hipster fads are good manners and tact.

Read the entire post on his blog:

Fear not, people of Korea! AKA: My foray into Korean television.

(This is seriously, no joke, a post about a Korean soap opera.  Like the rest of my blog, this may be worth skipping.)

I hear you like to be called Korea, Korea.  So, instead of South Korea, or the Republic of Korea, I’ll just call you by your first name.  I hope we’re close enough for that.

Anyway, Korea, I just wanted to let you know that I won’t be judging you or your people by what I see on the soap opera Winter Sonata.  There’s no way that a civilization which has supposedly been around since 2333 BC has that high a percentage of emotionally retarded  inhabitants.  I mean, seriously, I’m getting sick of characters insisting that Yujin not grieve for Junsang for the sake of Sanghyeok’s iddy-biddy feewings.  Grow a pair, Sanghyeok.  So, I won’t judge you by Winter Sonata because that would be like you judging me by episodes of Days of Our Lives (though, I was thinking of burying a beautiful young woman alive.  Hmmph.)

I have to say that I really am enjoying the show.  I’ve watched seven of the hour-long episodes and I plan on finishing all twenty.  I point this out because I really figured I wouldn’t care for the show at all and that I’d give up on the first episode half way through.  I just wanted a little exposure to some Korean television and lucked out by finding this title on Netflix.

*Spoilers ahead!*

Team Pacey.

I can’t help but compare the first couple of episodes to my favorite teen soap opera, Dawson’s Creek.  In short, Yujin, our leading lady, has known her best friend Sanghyeok her entire life.  Enter Junsang, the handsome new-kid-in-school.  Everyone insists that Joey … I mean, Yujin, should be ga-ga over her BFF, but she’s falling hard for the new guy.  While it’s not an exact match, I couldn’t help but be annoyed by the Dawson Leery like assumptions Sanghyeok has made about what’s best for Yujin.

What’s worse is that everyone in the show acts the same way.  Male and female characters alike continually insist that Yujin and Sanghyeok are soulmates, and, worse, that Yujin should never, ever, ever show any sadness when reminded of the death of her first love.

If Winter Sonata is the norm, Korean dramas involve more buffoon-type comedic characters than American shows.  I think there are four characters who exist only to be made fun of.  Maybe that’s just what the place is really like, which really makes me want to visit.  Furthermore, if this show is really a glimpse into Korean culture, 80% of Korean people bleach their hair once they become adults.  It’s like smoking is in America, without the coughing fits and stained teeth.

Another thing that’s killin’ me is that none of the female characters seem to be able to hold adult conversations with men, especially if they disagree with them.  Korea can’t be that patriarchal, can it?  Neither Chaerin (conniving twat, though she is) nor Yujin can do much but nod and agree with their respective male partners.  Why shouldn’t Chaerin be upset when Minhyeok is flaunting his flirtation with another woman in her face?  What is with all the deference and obvious silent suffering?

I also can’t help but wonder why the writers of Winter Sonata seem to want me cheering on, at least what I understand would be, an incestuous relationship.  My subtitle reading can’t be so bad that I misunderstood that.  Unless the writers of this show are much more talented than I am giving them credit for, Minhyeok is Junsang with amnesia.  Gross.

OK, this is actually pretty steamy.

But I am – cheering it on, that is.  Winter Sonata is addicting enough that I want some good old Korean brother-sister lovin’ to go down.  Not that “lovin’” means over there what it means over here.  Two characters that are engaged can barely hug each other with out feeling guilty afterward.  Someone from Korea, please email me and explain whether or not this is true-to-life Korean culture, or just plain old TV-style morality.

One thing translates though; it may be our major shared cultural experience.  Sanghyeok’s mother despises Yujin, though I cannot figure out why.  I guess the crazy daughter-in-law hating mother is a universal stereotype.

So, I’m about to start the eighth episode, and I’m sure lying, sinister little Chaerin and annoyingly Dawson-like Sanghyeok are about to get their hearts broken.  Even if I don’t get that wish, I will forever be satisfied knowing that I watched a Korean TV drama that used Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat while a character was daydreaming about his love interest.  Now you know the real reason I can’t stop watching.

In which I use curse words to write about Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater

Look at how I'm topical, hip and ironic by using a meme to discuss music from the 1700s.

Since you’re all so curious, I’ll let you know that Pergolesi’s is my favorite setting of Stabat Mater.

Before I get rambling, I’m going to give you a preemptive tl;dr version of this post: Whenever I complete a task that I think is awesome, or get to the end of something where I feel I did a particularly good job, I sing the “Amen” chorus from the final movement of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater to myself.  If I’m not in a place where I may sing aloud, you can rest assured I’m singing in my head.

On to rambly-talk about religious music:

While I’m not Roman Catholic, I was raised learning my fair share of Mariology.  We like to call her Theotokos, though, ’cause we’ve got cooler words like that.  Now, I know I’d get some grief if I don’t mention that Stabat Mater is not an Orthodox hymn, but, if you take the time to read it, that should be fairly obvious.  For one, the prayer doesn’t mention the resurrection.  It takes a completely different tone than an Orthodox prayer, kind-of missing the whole light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel, joyful-in-Christ thing (bonus points if you got the Orthodox choir director pun in there).  Doesn’t matter, though, I love the thing.  I’m a sucker for over-the-top emotion, and, like the good poetry it is, Stabat Mater never fails to please in that realm – especially in Pergolesi’s setting, and especially accompanied by organ.  The only thing Pergolesi didn’t realize is that this masterpiece was meant to be performed (as it is today) by women!  We are singing about Mary here, after all, Sir.  Grown men singing in a soprano register freak me out, anyway.  Go ahead; call me sexist.

Yes, we "Alleluia" during Lent. Matthew said to ... pretty much.

So, on to what I was getting at.  My favorite movements are Inflammatus et Accensus and, the final movement, Quando Corpus, which ends with the most magnificent “Amen” segment of all time.   I have been blessed in that I’ve been able to perform these both twice in my lifetime.  The first time I got to perform these pieces I was only twelve years old and participating in the Florida All-Sate women’s chorus.  Talk about a system set up to instill a love for music in kids (hometown pride!).  Anyway, just as any good church-going choir kid knows that a particularly stirring Epistle reading should get a a fancy “Alleluia,” such did Pergolesi know his Stabat Mater needed to end with a fantastic “Amen.”  I mean, can you imagine singing your heart out for over an hour about the pain Mary felt watching her son be crucified, only to end the thing with some shit “Amen” marked “PLAIN” in the upper-right-hand corner?  No!  “Pergolesi doesn’t do plain,” I’m sure he said to himself … but in Italian.  He knew that, in order to drive the mourning and sorrowful, yet somehow joyful, Stabat Mater home, those guys were going to have to sing “Amen” at least fifty times over, and in cut-time.  He filled the fast-paced last minute of his masterpiece with some beautiful harmonies that showed great respect to voices in the mezzo and alto ranges (of course, his mezzos were men, but I’m trying not to go off on that again, aren’t I?), and ties it off all cleanly with a vocal unison.

If you’re a musician, especially a vocalist, or if you’re just prone to overly excited outbursts of song for no reason whatsoever, I suggest you get yourself an “Amen.”  Heck, who says it has to be an actual “Amen?”  Semi-related: when I worked at a coffee shop as a youngster, I’d celebrate weekdays at ten PM with Semisonic’s Closing Time and not feel an ounce of shame (though, I kinda do now.  Hmmph).  I’m sure lots of folks sing We Are the Champions or Eye of the Tiger every time they’re impressed with themselves.  More traditional folks may sing a little bit of Handel.  Musicians, though, heed my advice (if you’re not doing this already): find yourself a unique tune for your self-aggrandizing.  Use that B.A. in music theory to get yourself something cool, for once.  Church kids, if you’re stealing it from a hymnal, nothing marked “PLAIN,” OK?

And listen to Pergolesi already, would you?

Pergolesi – Stabat Mater. Quando Corpus (Amen begins @ 3:52)

“Blow the stacks.”

That's an impressive blowing ... er ... cleaning job.

I really should just change the name of this blog to “Stuff Charlie Says.”

So, this past Tuesday at 10am, the fifty year old smokestacks at Progress Energy’s P.L. Bartow power plant on Weedon Island came down with a thunderous roar.  It was so thunderous, in fact, that both Charlie and I thought some sort of international crisis was beginning right here in north St. Petersburg, Florida.  Thanks to a record breaking Crohn’s flare, I was asleep until the bed started shaking.  And I mean shaking.  This whole deal was much more than noise.  I shot up out of bed and, the way I remember it, hit my head on the ceiling.  Charlie was just staring at me.  He was obviously very concerned, and when I tried to reassure him that this had to be a freak thunderstorm, he didn’t seem to believe me.  So I popped open my laptop and went to a local news station’s website.  Sure enough, the answer was on the front page, so I told Charlie, “They blew up the smoke stacks at Weedon Island.”  We spent some time laughing and talking about how silly we were for being scared, and wishing we’d been there to see it happen.  A few minutes later, the conversation was over, and we started our morning.

Is it weird that I miss these?

Later that day, Charlie and I were driving back home from some errand I’ll never remember (see above re: Crohn’s flare), and I glanced over and commented about how strange it was to look towards Gandy Beach and not see the smokestacks looming in the distance the way they did, like the setting for some horror movie with an industrial, post-Chernobyl motif.  Charlie looked over and said, “hey, wait, why are they gone?”  I reminded him about that morning’s near apocalypse, all the while becoming very concerned for his neurological health.  “You do remember that they blew them up this morning, right?”

“Blew them up?  I thought you said they ‘blew the stacks.’  You know, cleaned them out.  Like on a ship.”

The best part about this is something that I wish I could share.  The look on his face when he saw that they were gone was just priceless.  He was shocked!  This isn’t some half-wit, we’re talking about.  Charlie will have his master’s degree (should I mention the “with honors” bit?) any day now, and it happens that his specialty is maritime business.  I can almost see where he’s coming from.  That’s what makes this so great.  Charlie lived through (what we assumed was) the house nearly falling down, and then spent the entire day thinking that they’d simply blown some steam up through fifty year old stacks at a non-functioning power plant like it was the Titanic, or something.

Now, something almost completely forgettable has become a pretty funny story (that we still haven’t stopped laughing about), all because of Charlie’s interesting assumption.

NSFAnywhere. Just don’t even read this. Worst story/joke of all time. Gross. Offensive.

"You're going to Hell, Ms. Sisko."

I really do need to preface this post by saying that I am a vegetarian who is probably just used to seeing all of those terrible factory farm photos (which, of course, disgust me).  I am also never one to shy away from an offensive joke.  Yup, I’m sure you’ve it figured out by now; this is going to be bad.  It’ll also be very stupid, gross, and immature.  Just go to Cake Wrecks right now and laugh at sad deserts from your local Publix bakery.  Cake Wrecks is a very funny site, and you’ll thank me for sending you there.  Forget this horrible place exists, at least for the next few days. Continue reading

Mafia nicknames: When you’re not as clever as you’d hoped you were.

"I thought I'd be safe in my car, but they've sent JIMMY THE LOCK!"

So, I was watching Quantum Leap last night and Sam said something like, “Hold on, I’ve gotta jimmy the lock.”  I was immediately struck by the notion that “Jimmy the Lock” would be a fantastic gangster name.  I mean, wouldn’t it?  OK, maybe not for a Corleone, but perhaps for the type of guy featured in Netflix’s word-of-mouth favorite Lilyhammer.

I then decided that I’d try to be clever and come up with other overly descriptive, phrase-like gangster names, but I haven’t done so well.  Bill the Room works … I guess … but what does that make his gangster super-power?  Capping whatever the plural of “mafioso” is while delivering their room service?  Charlie came up with Philip the Tank, which I like.  I’m thinking he works around the corner from the boss’s headquarters in a state like New Jersey, where citizens aren’t trusted to pump their own gas.  He secretly fills rival gang member’s tanks with sugar or, worse, E85.

The more you know you're an idiot ...

When we finally decided to give up on phraseology we came up with Randy the Perv, Bernie the Arson, and John the Guy-Who-Likes-Hookers.  Then we looked at what we had and gave up all together.  Nothing quite had the ring of Jimmy the Lock.  We learned a lesson, too.  Some people, despite a few good ideas here and there, just aren’t as clever as they’d hoped.

Where the blogger woefully laments her lack of posts; vows to change.

Even blogs that don’t get read have authors who are ashamed of how little they post.  This blog is no different.  In an attempt to jump start things around here, it’s time for some randoms!

"Your mama promotes Mexican boy-on-boy love!" Buuuuurn!

Tu madre!  I recently rewatched the gem of a film Y Tu Mamá También and, against my better judgement, shared the experience with Charlie.  This is worse than the time we watched He Knew He Was Right.  The go-to comeback in my house in my house will be “y tu mamá también” for at least the next six months.  Joy.

American Victory: Did you know?  Perhaps you do know that Tampa is home to SS American Victory, which, in this life, is serving as my favorite type of museum – the museum ship.  For only ten dollars, folks can spend as much time as they like wandering around an actual WWII Victory cargo ship. For the record, this is about fifty times cooler than it sounds.  Did you know that the United States Merchant Marines saw a greater degree of loss than any other branch of service during WWII?  Not the Marines with the guns and the haircuts; the ones that drive the ships.

I don't need to go. I've obviously already steered the ship and retired from duty.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the United States use of the most advanced logistics methodologies of the time, German U-boats were specifically targeting cargo in an attempt to put a hole in the Allied supply chain.  Here in Tampa, we have one of the ships that made it through the war intact, and she lives on to us tell her tale.  While you may have known all that, did you know that on March 24 that ship is going on a cruise, and if you’ve got one-hundred-and-ten bucks to spare, you can go with her?  Though I don’t have the cash to spend, I will be watching her sail off (probably through tears; I’m known for being a weepy sap when I witness awesome things), and I’d like to be waving to you!  If you’re a ship’s captain (making that fat bank), a history buff, or you just love the United States Merchant Marines, take a trip on the American Victory, and be sure to tell me all about it!

"A rising tide lifts all boats." Of course, I think they have to be in the water, first.

Oh.  The Boat.  The only search terms that get people to my blog are “Compass 47″ and “penis hangs to the left.”  Since I’m no longer interested in Dr. Oz’s genitalia, I figure I should write about the Compass.

So, that there to the left -  that’s where she is.  Still.  For the last four months.  I could make updates about painting the bilge and varnishing the v-berth, but I’m not moved to do such.  I was, though, ready to post about the repowering project, which, had it gone off as planned, would have been completed in the beginning of January.  I can’t complain too loudly, though.  We’re at a boatyard where we’re being treated like family, and we’ve been able to complete a few small projects while we’re on the hard.  We want that new sixty horsepower Beta Marine in though, and we want the boat in the water.  I promise I’ll post about the boat this week.  To be honest, I’m itching to write about her, almost as much as I’m itching to sail her.

My only friend?

… and, finally:  I have been looking for one of these on and off for years.  This guy is a genius, and my hero.  I’m trying really hard not to post awful Internet-isms like “squeee,” though I can’t help but think them.

This all leads me to thinking how obviously a little nightlight wouldn’t have been able to guide in the Argo, so this feathered guy shouldn’t worry too much about living up to the high standards set by his ancestors.

See that, I can’t help geeking out right before your eyes.  I’m ashamed.

In defense of Floridians and the Florida State Fair.

I’m not going to say there weren’t questionable characters roaming about at the fairgrounds this past Monday.  I had my suspicions about a few folks, but I’m uppity like that.  As a lifelong Floridian, I’m aware of a certain reputation folks around here are saddled with, and, as one would suspect, supposed evidence of this reputation abounds at the Florida State Fair.

Look at her, eating that corn with no shame! And with her hands, no less!

First I want to say that I’m completely comfortable with the stereotypes.  I guess that as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that, most of the time, I have a choice as to whether or not I allow myself to be offended.  As a youngster it was such an automatic reaction that it seemed almost metabolic in nature.  Age has certainly softened me, and now I’m likely to get a laugh out of the strange, often misguided, and sometimes downright rude things people say about us here.  That’s the Internet age, though – people snark online in a way that they wouldn’t dare to people’s faces.  Especially not now that handguns are back in at the fair!

Apparently lots of people think Florida folks are a strange breed.  The stereotype falls somewhere in between redneck-meth-cooker and lazy-beach-bum-(probably-also-meth-cooker)-fisherman type.  For example, when you imagine a Floridian, you probably envision them wearing flip-flops. Not in that California intentionally-sloppy-but-pedicured-and-fully-made-up way, but more in the ashy-heels-with-dirty-soles-and-toe-hair way, which is an important, character defining distinction.  There is a term a lot of people use (abbreviation “W.T.”) which I dislike for a lot of reasons, but it does typify the general image I believe many pessimistic non-natives associate with Floridians.

“They’re not southerners,” I can imagine a stereotypical northerner or midwesterner saying.  “They’re worse.

I’m pretty sure I can’t even fully comprehend what’s supposed to be wrong with us here because, as a Floridian, I’m probably the epitome of some terrible assumed archetype that I’ll never even be aware of.  Maybe you should take my opinion with a grain of salt.  Afterall, I did grow up in Ruskin, and while I’ll spare you a recital of the fascinating history of that town (… this time), I will admit that it’s pretty typical rural Florida.  I may not be an impartial judge, but, shocking as it may be, I have to say it:  I saw nothing weird at or about the Florida State Fair. 

What I didn’t see:  First, I didn’t step on any meth pipes or hypodermic needles.  For some reason I feel that needs saying.  Not one single carny did or said anything to me that I felt the need to report to the police (full disclosure: I did most of my early schooling in Gibsonton, so, grain of salt and all of that). I witnessed no men beating their wives, no wives beating their children, and no children beating small animals.

What I did see:  People around me wore cowboy boots along with T-shirts promoting their favorite metal bands.  There was chewing tobacco, and there were poorly drawn tattoos.  There were very young parents, along with some very, very young grandparents.  There was even the ubiquitous pregnant woman in a half top.  I saw farmers.  I saw black, white, and Mexican families eating food that should probably be illegal.  I saw people hold open doors, look each other in the eyes, smile at and converse with strangers, and, for the record, everyone of these people had on shoes.  Speaking of conversing with strangers, I was kindly asked why I ate my corn con mayonnaise y chile-y-limón, which began a very nice conversation with a fellow fair-goer.  I see these kinds of exchanges all the time where I come from.

I saw my fiancé eat a burger between two halves of a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

This is OK because I love freedom. America. F' yeah.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve learned to embrace the stereotypes and ignore the Florida bashing.  You know, etiquette-wise, I do wish folks would be a little kinder in their language and less ass-holish in their delivery, but I can’t really change the behavior of others.  This is another thing which, with age, I’ve begrudgingly come to accept.

So bash away oh, ye-who-are-better-than-me!  Point out everything you see that is wrong about Florida while you’re on vacation at our beaches, or after you’ve moved here to escape the snow.  I don’t like it, but I can take it.  I just spent a day at the Florida State Fair basking in the glow of the folks who, if you believe the hype, are supposed to embarrass me.  I loved every minute of it.  I love being one of them.