Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hell No, We Won't Go: Stop the Lockout

I am sick of bureaucracy. At the top of my list right now is the potential NHL lockout. I am a puckhead hockey fan all the way. I don't care if it's minors or majors, the hometeam or not--when it comes to hockey, it's just fun to watch. And right now, the ridiculous owners and the not-quite-as-ridiculous-but-still-ridiculous players are debating how much money gets distributed among them all.
    The reason this one gets under my skin is I was old enough to remember the last lockout. I was in 11th grade, and I even wrote an English paper about how stupid I thought the lockout was. (If I ever find it, I'll repost it here--me at 16 is probably pretty funny.) Back then, I blamed Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL. Today, I still kinda do. This guy's on a path to have 3, count 'em, 3, lockouts during his tenure, and the ones who suffer aren't the owners or the players--it's the fans.
    We support our teams. We buy their stuff. We watch their games on TV and when we can, in person. We love those guys. And when somebody says they don't get to play until they come to an agreement about cashflow, we get angry. And you don't want to see hockey fans angry. You wouldn't like us when we're angry.
   
What in the hell do you expect millions of hockey fans across the US and Canada to do when their teams don't get to play this winter? We would watch minor league hockey, but unfortunately, not all those games are widely televised. We could watch basketball or football, but we don't like basketball and football nearly as much as we like hockey. They're poor substitutes for a fast, fun and crazy sport we know as hockey.
    What really gets me is that the teams are still promoting the new season like they have no reason to think it won't happen. Come on, buy your season tickets! Check out opening night! Buy a new jersey for the 2012-13 season! You know what, you settle your petty financial differences and guarantee me a season first, and then I'll feel better about handing over my money for a few games.
    So, there are a few angry hockey fan movements rising up: one girl has started a petition to get Bettman to resign. There are Twitter and Facebook accounts cropping up, @againstlockout, @stopthelock2012, @unfollowNHLSept are just a few.

Check out these articles and blogs for more info:
  • http://www.boston.com/sports/blogs/shesgamesports/2012/08/gary-bettmans-remarks-about-nhl-fans-nice-try-but-wrong.html
  • http://nyrnation.net/nhl-fans-plan-social-media-protest-of-potential-lockout/
  • http://unfollownhlsept15.tumblr.com/
    The Unfollow NHL September 15 group is one of the largest, with almost 2,000 fans in just a short period of time (I think I read a week, but don't quote me on that). These guys are asking fans to protest the lockout by unfollowing and unliking NHL accounts, team accounts, and player accounts, as well as boycotting NHL and team websites, and avoiding purchasing official NHL gear.
    While the group doesn't think their efforts will actually prevent a lockout, it's more about making a statement. The kind of statement that says, hey, we matter. We're your paycheck. Don't forget it. That, I'm all for. Hockey players already make a hell of a lot less than most major league teams, but that doesn't mean they're poor. They make good money. The owners make better money. And that's probably the way it'll always be. But for the two sides to get greedy and demand more, not only that, ask for cutbacks from the other, they're not hurting each other. They're hurting the fans that pay into the pot where all that money comes from.
    So, if you're a hockey fan like me, whether you support the Avalanche, the Kings, the Rangers, or whoever, stand up for your love of the game and join in on the protest of the potential NHL lockout this season.
Go Avs :) Hope you get to play this year!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On the Fringe

  This weekend, I got the chance to attend the Boulder Fringe Festival for the first time. I like theater and culture and festivals, so I thought it'd be a good opportunity. Luckily for me, I applied as a reviewer, and in exchange for reviews, I got a free press pass, allowing me to see all the shows for free :D Plus, the reviews would link back to my website--bonus! Five to seven shows in four days--I figured I could handle that. 200 word reviews, not bad at all. How very wrong I was.
    First things first: the festival started on Thursday, a day that I had already agreed to meet a friend up in Fort Collins. I didn't get back home until 9 or 10. Thursday shows were out. Friday, I just didn't go, and that was my bad. Little did I know, I'd have so many things trying to prevent me from seeing the performances over the weekend.
    Being the balanced person I like to think I am, I decided to see not five or seven shows, but six--three Saturday and three on Sunday. But the universe had other plans. Saturday morning, I agreed to drive out to Evergreen to meet the bf for breakfast--One World Cafe, if you haven't been there, it's really good food, and beer for breakfast :) I left at about 1pm. I thought I'd given myself my plenty of time to get from there to Boulder by 2:30, the start time of the first show I wanted to see. I still had to pick up my press pass, so I allowed for extra time for that and parking as well.
    But the 2:30 show wasn't in the cards. There was an accident on I-70 east and my GPS and the road signs told me to exit and take an alternate route, which I did, but US-40 wasn't going any faster. In fact, being it's only one lane, I think it was actually going slower. By the time I got out of the traffic on US-40, it was after 2 o'clock. I still had to get through Golden and head up 93 to get to Boulder. There was a little traffic in Golden too, as it turned out, and apparently I wasn't going fast enough for the speed demons on 93, so I got passed quite a few times.
    When I finally got to Boulder, it was three. I parked my car about halfway between the main theater and the main box office, which was at a coffee shop nearby. However, GPS got me lost again, thinking the coffee shop was farther up the street than it actually was.
    Once I had my pass, I had to sit down and rearrange my schedule for the next two days. Getting the press pass, I was assigned to see 4 shows, and then see at least one additional show to write a review on. Luckily for me, the assigned shows still had times left to see them by the end of the day on Sunday, though it meant I'd have to see a much later show than I had originally intended.
    I saw the Saturday shows, and wrote my reviews that night. One I loved, one was just ok, and the other was really not so great. I tried to be nice in my review, but I couldn't ignore some of the bigger flaws.
However, time was not the only thing against me: our crappy Century Link internet has been flickering on and off for the past week or so and of course, when I actually have something that I'm supposed to get done--something for someone besides me--it decides to go down and not come back. I know everybody hates Comcast, but they do have better, more consistent internet even if there are other flaws in their system.
    So, with no internet to go home to Sunday night to finish my reviews, I decided to write them in between the Sunday performances and type them up and email them from my Kindle using a free wifi connection. Unfortunately, the Boulder Public Library closes at 6:30 on Sunday and my last show was at 9:30-10:30. I headed to the nearby shops and found a Panera where I sat until after 9 typing up my reviews on the tiny, wonky Kindle keyboard. I had one more to type and one more to write by the time I had to go to the last show. When I got out, you know what I discovered? Panera shuts down their wireless after 10:30, which I had intended to use from my car in the parking lot which was still within range. I drove around the shopping center hoping for someone else to offer wifi after 10:30, but I wasn't having any luck.
    Fortunately, I was rescued. My bf called to check in and offered to let me come up to Longmont to the house to use the internet. I got all my reviews in, mostly on time (it was after midnight by the time I finished, but it was before anyone was at the office to read them, so I figure that's on time), and went home.
    While it was fun checking out shows that normally I wouldn't have the time or money to see, I will be a little more careful about signing up for things like this in the future. I definitely would have preferred picking more of my own shows to review and even though I technically had four days to see them in, I think I would have preferred more time. Of course, things were working against me this weekend, but now that I know my way around and know how long stuff takes, I will know how much I can really handle the next time around.
On the plus side, the internet's back.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Working 11 to 2 (am)

  I never thought I'd be so busy being unemployed! Technically I'm not completely unemployed, because I'm running the social media for a product website. Plus, we're in the middle of a redesign of the site which at the moment is creating more problems than it's solving. On top of that, I'm working on marketing one book and wrapping up formatting and production on another. Needless to say, I've got just as much on my plate as when I was working full time, if not more. I just don't have anyone giving me deadlines.
    It's nice getting things done on my own time, but it's definitely challenging setting my own hours and due dates because there's no one to reprimand me for it if something isn't done.
    One of the problems I'm having is finding time to write. I'm writing this, but I'm already working on a new (hopefully) novel, and I haven't had time to work on it lately. With any luck, this redesign will be done by the end of the week and my "project coordination" role in the website's development will be on hold for a while, though maintenance of the social media stuff is going to be ongoing. It's not that I mind doing it, I just wish I knew more about the strategy and process of it to do it more efficiently. That way, I'd have time to work more on my writing and marketing my book(s).
    As far as a paid job goes, I'm still being picky. I don't think I'm being unreasonably picky, because I'm insistent on not ending up with another job that I have trouble getting up for in the morning. I can handle pretty much anything if I know it's just temporary, but since I have no idea whether the next one is going to be temporary or a place I'm in for another ten years, I think I need to be picky enough to find something that's at least a pretty good fit even if it's not perfect. Who knows, eventually, it might evolve into something that is really great.
    As to the new book, I keep thinking it's done and then I change something and it throws my whole schedule off. I'm still shooting for a September release date, but we'll see if that works out. I'm waiting on yet another proof, but if I don't add any new scenes or catch any more anachronisms--you believe that? I've read through this thing probably 5 or 6 times by now and I found an error like that--it should be good to go soon.
    Seeing as I'm writing this at 2:40 in the morning, I think it may be time to call it a night/day.
Who needs normal hours when you're still getting stuff done?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Say Hello To My Little Friend

  If anybody needs to talk gun control, Tony Montana is one of them. But, in light of recent events, I figured I'd throw my hand in as well. I'm referring specifically to the movie theater shooting  that occurred in Aurora, Colorado at the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. While I didn't know any of the victims or their families, this hit me a little too close for three reasons: 1) Aurora's not too far away from where I live; 2) I am a major Batman fan; 3) I love the movies and the movie theater.
    I think what bothered me most about the incident was that it took place in a movie theater. The movie theater to me is like my home away from home. I have seen so many beautiful movies and met so many amazing characters in the movie theater. I've laughed, I've cried, I've been on the edge of my seat. I saw LOTR Two Towers seven times on the big screen. It's my safe haven when I'm having a crappy week or when I'm stressed out; the one place I think to go that will make me feel better is to the movies. All that changed when some guy decided to murder a bunch of people inside a theater.
    As to the guy, I don't think he's crazy the way some people think he is. I don't think he wasn't crazy like he had voices in his head or he was abused as a kid. I think he knew exactly what he was doing and he obviously planned it out pretty thoroughly. In short, I have serious doubts about his insanity plea. It seems to me that he's overacting trying to get people to believe it. However, having said that, there is the possibility that he was "manic" in the sense of being obsessive. Maybe he was so obsessed with the previous movie that he wanted to act it out. That's an explanation, but in my book, it doesn't make him crazy enough to use an insanity defense. Mental illness doesn't always make someone incompetent or ignorant of what they're doing. In this case, I don't think that he ought to be able to use mental illness as a defense even if mental illness is the explanation for his actions.
    The big issues that came out of this event were gun control and movie censorship. Even after something like this, I don't believe censorship is the answer. It's not Hollywood's responsibility to limit their storytelling because of a few idiots or crazy people that take their stories a little too seriously. It's the individual's responsibility. I may not take Independence Day as proof of extraterrestrial life, but that doesn't mean I should ignore that guy over there who does take it as proof. To offer a comparison, we don't ban the Bible when someone says God told him to kill somebody. (Think about it before you think about berating me in the comments for that one.)
    We as a society have become so out of touch with each other that we allow--yes, allow--this type of thing to happen. We all go around thinking: sure, I have a creepy neighbor or a creepy classmate but it's not MY problem. It's somebody else's problem. It's their problem. You know what I have to say to that: wise up. There are just too damn many of us for us to ignore someone who we think might be dangerous or have a problem because we think that, if we ignore them, they'll just go away. I'm not talking about a witch hunt--that would be entirely counterproductive and probably cause more situations like this than there already are. I'm saying that we have to take it upon ourselves to be responsible citizens--responsible for our fellow humanity, no matter how weird, creepy or dangerous we think they are, and try to get them the help they need. Whether it's just saying hello to someone who feels invisible or whether it's telling the landlord that the person in 6B just walked in with a bunch of rope and gasoline, we have to stop thinking that all of the bad things in the world are somebody else's problem. They're not. They're everybody's problem.
    I didn't want to get into the gun control thing too much because I don't have a whole lot of background on the issue to take sides. Yes, guns are dangerous. On the other hand, people who know how to use them in times of crisis can save lives. However, it seems ridiculous to me that someone can buy all the stuff to stage a miniature Armageddon on the internet. People hide behind their computer screens, once again, thinking it's not their problem if they sell the bullet that killed a kid at a movie somewhere six states over. Tell you what, ammunition wholesale guy: it is your effing problem. Maybe 99.99% of the people you sell to use their weapons for recreational use and all their ammunition ends up in a bunch of beer cans in a field somewhere. But that other, albeit, minor percentage of people you sell to who do use their weapons and their ammunition for violence are your problem too. Even if only in a karmic sense.
    I don't have all the answers. I don't know if the government should impose stricter laws on gun sales or background checks or whatever. I don't know if it would make a difference. What I believe is that when it comes to a gray area like guns and gun control, it comes to each individual as to what the right thing to do is. Sell to the suspicious guy in the trench coat or don't. Tell a teacher or a cop or a doctor or whoever about a person's overzealous ambition to be just like Don Corleone, or keep it to yourself (sidenote: no disrespect whatsoever meant to Brando or Coppola, but the don was a bad dude).
    When something like this happens, we have to stop trying to place blame. Oh, it was his parents' fault or it was the movie's fault, or it was the law's fault that it happened. It could be a result of one, all three, or none of them, but even if all those things went along right as they were supposed to, it's still up to each of us to take the initiative and protect our fellow human beings, whether they are the would-be victims or the would-be perpetrators in such a violent scene. I'm not trying to blame anyone for why this happened, or why I now feel like a rat in a cage when I sit down in a movie theater. I'm not saying anyone could have or should have done anything different. But in the future, we can keep in mind the possibility that if we make it our problem, if we offer up a little more care and compassion towards friends and weirdos alike, we can change how things turn out--hopefully for the better.
TDKR was good--you should see it if you haven't done so yet.

+Constant Writer

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