March 14, 2002

Machine Gun Memories

It's 3:00 in the morning. I haven't slept well in weeks. Machine gun memories. I have never had them before.

The movie is playing backward in my head again. What act, what scene?

One after the other after the other after the other.

Rat tat tat tat tat. rat tat tat tat tat. rat tat tat tat tat.

"Hold your fire!" I cannot make it stop.

I'm 36, I'm 30, I'm 26, I'm 22, I'm 18, I'm 16, I'm 12, I'm 9, I'm 6, I'm 3.

Backwards in time.

I'm in the house with the turret, the one in the city, my father's baby grand sits at the bottom of the winding staircase for three years because no mover will bring it up past those stained-glass windows, relics of another age.

I'm in the perfect brick ranch, where nothing is perfect except the brick facade, a year in Virginia like a life sentence.

I'm in the house with the pool that no one wants to clean and it isn't the only thing that's dirty.

I'm in the house by the Lake, my room all arches and charm, my closet full of gobblins.

I'm on the farm, I don't swing from the hayloft--if you fall through the trap door you'll die.

What is this movie and why am I in it?
Who are these people--I don't remember them.
I don't remember playing this part.
This wasn't how the story went.
My gut is on fire.
My lungs burn.

I can't get close to my daughter this week--I see me standing there, not her, and I'm not ready. I will be ready? For now I am glued to my own rapid fire memories. Forgive me. Baby, forgive me.

I wan't to go back and reshoot these scenes, the ones that are haunting me now, my rage building now.

What were they thinking?

Patches and patterns.
Pieces. Falling to pieces.

How could they let this happen to me?
How could they let this happen to me?
How could they let this happen to me?
How could they let this happen to me?
How could they let this happen to me?
How could they let this happen to me?
How could they let this happen to me?
How could they let this happen to me?

Villian, villian, hit your mark,
The spotlight's coming your way.

March 13, 2002

And someone is watching us.

RageBoy points us to an article by Henry Jenkins (let's all use his name) that should tickle all bloggers right down to their, well, shoelaces, if we were wearing shoes. It builds nicely off my previous, now pre-historic post, which points an older article that puts words around the journalistic chasm that bloggers are now bridging.

Oh joyous noise. We are making such joyous noise.

Henry Jenkins writes: "Broadcasting will place issues on the national agenda and define core values; bloggers will reframe those issues for different publics and ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard."

See, we are Fixing the World!

I feel like I will sleep like a baby tonight. Why? I don't know. Some unnamable burden has just slipped of my shoulders. I wish I knew what it was so I could really enjoy it.

Journalists Are Fixing the World, Bloggers Are Fixing the World

Over on the Cluetrain List, one discussion is revolving around Marek's and Ann C's posts on the broken state of our world. I'm not so sure how broken it is considering RageBoy woke up happy this day. But I wanted to point to a 1997 Columbia Journalism Review article that shows some optimism for the world, and maybe even predicts our part in making it better--us, the bloggers.

The author, Mike Hoyt, says journalists play a key role in fixing the world, making it right again. I think his thoughts, which could be dated, aren't. In fact, they speak as much about the power of bloggers as they do traditional journalists. For example, Hoyt says:

"Why these tales lifted me, I think, is that they are molecules of affirmation of some connection between journalism and generosity. It's not that journalists are selfless, God knows, or that they need a tour of duty in Calcutta. But the best of them, the ones you remember the day after next, tend to be people who want to fix the world. They run on the usual fuel mix - ambition, curiosity, anger, whatever - but like the best cops or doctors, the best journalists also have a strong urge to make things better, to heal some wounds and wound some heels. This is not discussed. It might be considered naive by the wise sophisticates. But at a time when journalism's worst qualities are paraded and discussed everywhere, why be embarrassed about this one?"

Right. Right. And Right again. Hoyt points to that oft-demanded journalistic "objectivity" as one reason why the good journalists aren't given their props on trying--sometimes at great personal peril--to make things better. And Hoyt goes on, almost prophetically, to set the stage for blogging, for the state of the world in 2002, in his last paragraph:

"One student - a compelling writer and a dogged reporter - asked me in an moment of insecurity whether I thought she would ever find a corner in today's media world to do the kind of work she wants to do, which is to dive into some of the knottiest problems society has to offer and write lively and clearly and at some length about them. I told her yes you will. That's my leap of faith."

The best bloggers--the ones I compare to streakers and flashers in a post below--draw me in, as I said, because they expose. They expose something personal or something universal. Something incredibly just or unjust. Something perplexing or reassuring. And they are always interesting. I think blogging can fix things, is fixing things. With dialog, conversation, concern, and the emergence of understanding all things are possible. I only hope we're not too late.

God gets a bum rap

Sorrow begets many questions. And mostly, we direct them at God.

Raised Catholic (I am not now), I was lectured to frequently in school about how brave Job was. How stoic. He was a role model. He never questioned God. Right we all said. Like Job, I'd Like to Be Like Job. We shouldn't question or wonder why God threw Job these challenges.

One day, recently, I read the Biblical account of Job for myself. Holy cow, thought I. Contrary to what I had been taught, I saw that Job was all about questioning, all about asking "Why me?" In fact, that Job was almost whiny.

Many faiths, too simplified, too much interpretated for the benefit of the interpretors.

And in many of our interpretations, God sure gets a bum rap.

Our world is a battleground of diametrically opposed forces. Human nature? Scientific? Mathematic? Archetypal? God vs. Satan? However you look at it, with good comes evil, with sorrow comes joy, with the bloggies come the anti-bloggies. Why don't we see this when it comes to God? Why do we assume that the loving and innocent who die, those who are murdered, war among the axes of evil and good, are all His doing? I say, cut God some slack.

When my father died I was 5. He was just 36. Did he deserve the agony of pancreatic cancer? No. To miss his children growing up? No. He was a very gentle and good man. Yet, as it was explained to me in the only way my family could muster, my father was needed in heaven. God apparently had an important job for him. Since my father was a bassist and grocer, I couldn't imagine what God needed my father "up there" to do. But I thought about it a lot. Sometimes it even made me laugh.

Even so, I don't hold God accountable. When my cat was stolen and never found, didn't even occur to me to charge God with the crime. When my dumb dog choked my smart, sweet dog to death with a choke chain, God didn't even pop into my mind. When I almost lost my own life, I prayed a lot for God's help, but I didn't ever think He was the reason I was where I was.

With absolute good and absolute justice comes the antithesis--one that isn't as comfortable to ponder or as easy to explain away. I'll leave it at that. AKMA is a lot better at this than I am.

Did ya see that???

Wow, while Blogger goes all goofy on us, YACCS went and added a funky new feature that lets you link to specific comments... Suddenly a percusionist has joined our universal blogging band--think of the tunes we can play now. Holy-take-blogging-up-a-notch batman. Just right click on the number now associated with the comment and copy that address into your post like any other link. Like this. Super Groovy. At how many levels can we converse before we implode? I think maybe six more. I can't wait to go scout around for good comments now.

March 12, 2002

i must go to bed

I appologize to all my team blogs, and I hardly knew where to post this because I'm wrapped up in so many blogs, so I thought I'd post it here. I have two posts waiting--one by Tom Sugart on Gonzo Engaged and one on by Val Elchuk on Blog Sisters that are really interesting and that I want to respond to, but I'm too tired. So consider them bookmarked. Blogger friends, respond to them for me if you are awake in your respective parts of the world.

Also, big fricking revelation to me thanks to a comment left by Phil Ringnalda who lives here. He pointed me to a Blogger FAQ, and did you know that to get the proper link for a post you're looking to link to (compared to what I've been doing with my own posts, which is clicking on them and copying the link from the browser address line, which usually only gives me the right week, not the specific post I'm trying to link to), you can just right click on the link (be it "permalink" or the "time" or "date/time") and go to properties, and you'll find the address to the exact, specific, real live post right there? Also, there's a bit of code you can put in your template to make your post links work like post links and not links to some week somewhere in the vicinity of the post. Crap I'm tired.

So thanks again Phil! (One problem though--it didn't work when I did that with gonzo engaged and copied it in. so crap. but anyway, Phil notes a good FAQ down in one of my comment boxes you should look at. Don't take my word for any of this. I can barely post these days.)

Good night.

And RageBoy, wake up. I need an EGR send.

March 11, 2002

Southern Exposure

Why is it that the blog posts I like best are those like Mike Golby's of the other night? What draws me to bloggers that are willing to show me how and where they live? What they really believe?

The answer that came to me just this evening is "exposure."

Open your trench coat, show me what you've got. Give me a reason to look, a reason to care, a reason to come back. Give me a laugh, a tear, or rifle my feathers; the only way you are going to do that is if I know you are real. If you expose yourself to me. Let your guard down. Open up.

In one sense, we bloggers are online streakers. We expose ourselves to whatever crowd we imagine is gathered, and we do it because it is exhilerating, freeing, fun, and I think, healing. We also do it because we can.

Doris McIlwain, a lecturer in Psychology at Macquarie University, describes the appeal of streaking: "The streaker is breaking a taboo, and the shock of that is what makes us laugh. Nudity is a great leveller in a way. The streak itself is a form of protest as well as fun; it's usually a challenge or a dare. It's also about power: 'I can do this and no-one can stop me'."

And no one can stop us.

Obviously, though, we aren't exposing our flesh like the streaker, or even the more compelled flasher. So what are we disclosing here on the net? What are we showing the crowd if not our bodies, the family jewels?

Perhaps we are revealing our souls.

Charles Hayes begins his article A Materialist Notion of Soul and Spirituatlity with this:

"In a recent television interview best-selling author Tom Wolfe suggested that soul is the sum of one’s human relations. This struck me as a very profound statement and as a big surprise, coming from Wolfe. Still, it seems right, although the notion needs to be greatly expanded. It’s useful to think of soul not just as the metaphoric sum of one’s human relations but as a model applicable to all relations. In other words, we can think of soul as the sum of relating to people and to everything and anything one can relate to. This way, a person’s life can be thought of as a project, as a work in progress, a spark in a dark void, something worth doing, a life worth living."

Well it struck me too, Tom Wolfe's little suggestion. The soul, the sum one's human relations. Human relations encompassing online relations as well as realworld relations. The way Hayes carries Wolfe's notion along--proposing that the soul is the "sum of relating to people and to everything and anything one can relate to"--is also relevant to blogging, isn't it? The sum of the blog universe is just this: relating to people and to everything and anything we can relate to.

If we are streakers, daring to display our souls instead of our flesh, that does not mean that all posts must expose as fully or dramatically as Mike's did? Surely, the net would collapse under the emotional strain of millions of posts like this one. Exposure does not always have to look sombre--it can be funny, it can be outrageous, it can be many things. Universally, though, it is always interesting. We are the streakers of the net, compelled by an overwhelming need to expose, disrupt, and elicit a reaction from the crowd. We are removing our masks, revealing ourselves, to anyone who will watch.

No wonder it's so damn much fun.

Peter Pan Propaganda. And other thoughts.

I've taken to blogging in Notepad. Yes, it's come to this. Blogger has been completely unreliable since the last upgrade, and it wasn't so hot before that, oh say, for the last four weeks. Or, ever since I paid for it. I am finding this to be more and more true as a life rule. It's like those couples who live together for a thousand years before they get married, and then they get married and six months later you hear they're divorced. Go figure.

Just got back from seeing Return to Neverland the sequel to Peter Pan. Our daughter begged us, and my husband and I said okay fine, the popcorn and candy will make it worth while. I meant to bring Stupid White Men (the book, not acutal stupid white men) so I could sneak in a couple of chapters when the lighting would allow, but I forgot it. So I was stuck watching the movie, which was mostly bad. The beginning was, well, wartime propaganda? I'm trying to figure out if they came up with this shlock pre or post 9-11. I have my guess when the dramatic opening scene popped into their heads.

It opens in London with what I think was WW2 hot and underway, bombs falling, air raid sirens blaring, father leaving for the War, and frightened "Jane" trying to make her way home to Wendy, Jane's mother the heroine of PP1. Lights go out in the windows of the houses still standing amid the destruction of previous bomb blasts, and, after what's left of the family emerges from the bomb shelter in their back yard, an official goes door to door announcing that all the children of London are being taken to the country, away from danger and their families, to wait out the war.

For crying out loud. Okay? My daughter's four. I thought this was all about pixie dust.

But of course, everyone's willing to do their part for the War Effort--that axis of evil has existed for a really long time; different players, same deal--and our Wendy prepares
to tell her daughter she'll be the one looking after her little brother in whatever camp they're taking all the children to. At this point Wendy falls fast asleep and has an Ecstacy-induced dream where she straddles the back of Peter Pan, who flies her around Neverland before taking her to his crib, where she sits on his bed and meets all the boys who hang there.

And so it goes. There were probably six or so kids in the theater (it's not pulling them in in droves, in other words), and I heard a few crying, but none laughing. Everything turns out alright in the end (this is Disney), but only after Tinkerbell almost dies.

Skip it if you want my advice. Especially if you're looking for an uplifting fairy tale. Go see Snow Dogs instead. At least you'll chuckle.

Blogger is sucking lately

I can see my blog, but I can't post. Or I can post, but I can't see my post. I've taken to blogging in other bloggers' comment boxes. I didn't feel as badly about it when it was free. Now I'm actually getting pissed. Not to mention, there's nothing much new to read since most of my blog-buddies are on Blogger too. But thank God for Doc and David and Kent. I'm not thanking God for RageBoy because he hasn't blogged since Friday. But I'm gonna start using his comment boxes to blog in if he's not going to be using his blog for the good of mankind.

Okay, now let's see if this fucknozzle posts.

An example of blogging at its best

A post I almost missed is this one by Mike Golby. This single post is a tribute to so many things, I'm not sure I can wrap words around it that capture its essense or beauty. Read it. Bathe in it. Let it wound you, and maybe, if only for the time it takes you to read it, heal you.

This is blogging at its best--the convergence of the personal and the universal. Blogging done right unleashes truths, putting type-to-screen and hyperlinking it across our webbed universe. Although these truths we share would be easier, though not better, left buried, the blog lets us share, discover, dress our wounds in public, and ready ourselves for another day of battle with the imperfections of the real world.

Doc, live at the scene

Those of us who checked in on Doc's blog last night were treated to a real-time report of the SXSW award show, complete with winners, losers, and Doc's valiant and humorous attempt to keep up with the action, especially given his failing batteries. Absolutely fab--it was almost like being there.

I can't wait to hear more about what a Fray is--Doc describes it as live blogging, which sounds to me really cool. I imagine a bunch of bloggers in the room vibing real time off of one another's posts, but I have no idea if that's what it is.

Doc also touches on the notion that blogging may already be uncool. As long as search engines like google and yahoo and daypop continue to track bloggers, the proof is in the pudding. Four months ago google brought up 1 search result on my name. Today, that number is 3,600. That can't happen with a Web site. It's all about the linking, the conversations, the repercussions, and the resonance. It may be uncool for the too cool, but for the rest of us, it's just cool enough.

Can't wait to hear more about Doc's adventure and his perceptions when he returns.

March 10, 2002

I'm adding this one to my blogroll

Thanks Denise Howell for this terrific blog resource called Law Meme, where Yale Law School students blog about current legal issues.

Oh, so this is conkers

Mike Golby tells us more about what Conkers is, how you play it, why we should care, and then discusses the cultural implications of this child's game in his usualy witty way, which wanders in and about the subject at hand:

"The Brits will skewer anything given half a chance. They've been doing it for centuries and nothing and nobody is considered sacred (if you've seen 'Braveheart', you've seen the British - the place hasn't changed a bit). They will skewer the Church, the Queen, and Prince Harry the Potter. Their press is currently skewer-in-chief and is said to enjoy Prince Phillip's particular favor. He had the media moguls do the job on that Diana woman. When it comes to their sporting heroes, the media are particularly vicious. "Pathetic", "crushed", "humiliation", and similar words are reserved for reports on sporting events in which they take part."

Mike, you're a bloggers' blogger.

In the hippie dippy tradition

The Hippie Brain Explosion will be fun to play with at the hotel, which I assume will have high-speed Internet access.