Friday, March 23, 2012

Pardon Our Dust

Hi everyone!

I'm sorry for the lack of post this week, but I've been working on getting my Disney blog up and running.

I fully expect to simulcast my first Disney post this week.

I sincerely hope you all tune in to the launch. I've rarely been this excited for a completely inconsequential thing.

While you wait... some random thoughts.

- I'm running myself ragged right now working on directing The Crucible for my local theatre group. This is the first experiment with being fully involved with a show while working my overnight shift at work. I'm fine most of the time, but I have very little extra time to like... DO anything. It's a good thing it's almost done. We open in just over a month.

- The Cincinnati Bearcats ended their season last night with a tough loss to Ohio State. It's been one of the more enjoyable seasons of basketball in my memory. I wouldn't place it with the iconic early 90s seasons when there was nowhere to go but up, but it was a lot of fun, and they proved themselves worthy of wearing the "C". I loved this team far more than I expected to at the start of the season. Hopefully, we're on another great upswing.

- I'm starting to wonder if all of my Disney blog planning is a great idea for my psyche. I normally can get a solid 8 months of satiation from a visit, and this most recent one in October was a particularly long visit, so I was hoping the hankering would hold off for a year... Sadly no. I'm in full-on Disney-Reverie. I feel bad for the Tofu Muchacha... We're not planning to go until January of 2014. I'm not sure I'll be able to take it.

- I'm super excited for baseball season to get started. I'm feeling good about the Reds this season, and I think I'm going to be at a fever pitch for a good amount of the year. It'll be fun times. I'm very excited about Mat Latos.

Anyway... More blogging coming soon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sad Face

I went to a movie on Monday, and I found myself getting a little weepy during the trailers. That’s right… The trailers.

Well.. One trailer specifically. It was for a movie called “Bully”. It’s a documentary that addresses the growing issue with bullying in our country, and specifically focuses on a young kid currently dealing with being bullied as well as the families of two young men who killed themselves over excessive bullying. One who suffered from Aspergers Syndrome, when he was 17, and one who hung himself at age 11. Fucking ELEVEN.

What can I say? I was affected.

I better clarify right off the bat. I was never, myself, truly bullied in school. I was always a nerdy, overweight kid, but I had just enough sports aptitude and just enough ability to bullshit that I was never the biggest target in any room, and I normally fit in adequately enough to avoid being the brunt of any bullying attack.

That said, very few things make me more profoundly sad and angry than when I hear about kids being so upset by bullying that they take their own lives.

Sometimes I wonder if maybe kids today just simply aren’t as equipped to handle themselves as they were even as short a time ago as the late 80s and early 90s when I was a grade-schooler. The more I think about it, though, the more I think the bullying actually is worse, and I start to wonder what life would have been like.

I never had a friend kill themselves because they were bullied, and I don’t remember even hearing about it happening anywhere at all, but I also didn’t grow up in a time when you can’t escape your bullies, even in your home.

I recently had a birthday where I was so overwhelmed by the positive messages I received that I declared Facebook the greatest thing to ever happen to birthdays. That may be true, but the advent of instant messaging and social media has had an ugly side effect where kids can’t escape their bullies.

Once upon a time, we were all told that the best way to stop a bully was to stand up to them. Maybe give them a good pop to the mouth. It’s not so easy anymore. Bullying can not only be remote, but anonymous. I know that when I get a negative anonymous comment on this blog, it upsets me, and I have the ability to recognize that people who hide behind their anonymity are way sadder than I’ll ever be. Try telling that to a 10 year old who’s suddenly had their Facebook page bombarded by cruel comments. I used to sort of laugh at the notion of internet bullying, but I don’t anymore. I have come to see how oppressive something like that can truly be. And it makes me sad.

It makes me angry too. It makes me angry that in spite of the growing evidence, that schools continually chalk up bullying to “boys being boys” and “girls are just mean at that age”. Honestly, if they believe it’s just part of growing up to be harassed and tormented, I’d like to put them through it for a while and see what it’s like when “Men are being men, and women are just being mean.”

So anyway, I’m watching this movie trailer before the start of this dumb comedy that I didn’t even get to see all the way through because of a power outage, and I find myself crying. There’s nothing quite like sitting alone in a movie theater and crying at a fucking preview.

It’s okay… you can make fun of me for getting emotional. If you don’t get at least a little gut-kick feeling when you see old photos of a kid who’s now dead over something so fucking preventable as being pushed around on the playground, I feel sorry for you.

I’m still not to my main point…

The movie has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which means that any kid under 17 can’t get in without being escorted by an adult, and even worse the film won’t be able to be screened in Middle Schools and High Schools without permission slips being sent home and signed. That is… the worst thing ever.

Everything about this bothers me, and I’m not alone. A 17 year old girl in Michigan started a petition to get the rating changed to PG13, and has garnered over three hundred THOUSAND signatures. Among the signers are state governors, CEOs of movie theater chains, and many movie stars. The MPAA has so far declined to change the rating.

I started thinking about how myopic the MPAA has decided to be on this issue, and how offensive that is to me…

It’s easily arguable that the most important demographic to see this film are 13-17 year olds. How many hundreds of bullied kids could benefit from just the thought that they’re not alone in the world, or that people care about them?

Maybe there are just as many bullies who could see a real family, truly affected by the death of a kid who was mercilessly bullied. Maybe just one or two of them will realize that telling a kid they should be dead isn’t the best way to conduct themselves.

Maybe, and excuse me for being dramatic, but a life would be saved.

It makes me so sad to think about those kids who probably just wanted to go about their lives, and get through the high school with the least amount of friction, just like the rest of us. How they were threatened and tormented, and taunted until they couldn’t take it anymore.

A quote from Tyler Long’s (the 17 year old) father breaks my heart…. “They took his pride from him. He was a hollow person.”

I’m sorry, but no 17 year old kid should be hollow. Especially at the hands of some other 17 year old kid who, had the breaks gone slightly another way, could have been in that same position of having the never-ending gall to be different.

It just seems to be getting worse, and more pervasive, and aggressive, so the fact that the MPAA has decided to be sticklers on this issue of content offends me to my core.

I remember when I was 15 being showed Schindler’s List. I defy a single parent to say 15 is too young to learn about the Holocaust. I guess I needed a permission slip, though I admit I was just as likely to have signed it myself at that age. I don’t remember either way.

Kids should have to watch “Bully”, just like I had to watch “Schindler’s List”. Don’t get me wrong… they should have to watch both, really. They should be forced to hear the pained interviews of friends and family when they talk about Ty Smalley, who was 11 years old when bullies made his life so miserable that he hung himself after school. And yeah, I’ve read that the kid could give as much as he could take or whatever, but fuck that. He’s the one who they broke. It should never have happened. I don’t care if he was a Junior Hell’s Angel. He’s the broken one at the end.

I don’t want to belabor a point unnecessarily, but think about your life when you were eleven. I was in 5th or 6th grade. I had my first kiss the Summer in between. I performed in my first play. I had crushes on various girls I don’t even remember now. I had some good teachers, and good friends, a cat named Chip and 2 crazy-ass beagle dogs, and generally my life was pretty solid.

If someone told me a kid in my class had killed themself, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have totally even understood the concept. How does that happen?

How does it happen?

The kids who are causing this insurmountable pain need to see. They shouldn’t be allowed to wait until they’re seventeen based on the MPAA. They should be forced to watch as Ty Smalley’s father says this:

There's answers out there. ... I don't know what the answers are, but there are people who do. There are people that have the answers. We need to get the world involved. We need to find those people. We need to find that one person that can make a difference. And if we can't find that one, we're going to find 100,000 of them. And we're all going to put our heads together and we're going to come up with a solution ... if you really want to learn what suicide by bullying is all about, talk to the people who are living the nightmare. We haven't done Ty's last load of laundry, because it still smells like him. We haven't washed his sheets because I can go in there and lay on his bed and still smell my boy. You want to learn what bullying and suicide is all about, you talk directly to the people that it affects the most.
First and foremost I hold myself completely responsible for what has happened to my son. Ultimately my son's safety rested in my hands. I was responsible for my son's safety. I'm his DAD! ... It's my job to protect him. No matter what. No matter where he was. It was my job to protect him
I’m sorry this is a little rambling, but I’m upset. I don’t understand how the stupid MPAA can be so obtuse about this. It’s not South Park they’re talking about. It’s a documentary about kids being bullied. It’s a real thing. A problem.

I admit that I find some of the celebrities speaking out about this to be somewhat disingenuous and maybe that’s my own cynicism, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. They’re, in fact, completely right. The MPAA needs to adjust this. Make the movie unrated. But the fact that they’re saying things like “It’s our job to warn parents…”. It’s bullshit. It’s offensive. For my money, there’s not a single parent out there who should object to their kids seeing this movie.

For the kids who are bullied, I’ll say it again… They need to know they aren’t alone. They need to know that people in positions of power care about them, and they need to know that they’re safe. Not just when they go to school, but when they log-in to their computers in their homes to do homework or even to watch videos of great dunkers on YouTube. They should be safe not to fear a constant barrage of torment.

Just as importantly, the bullies themselves need to know they aren’t protected from punishment just because they fall back on the excuse of “boys will be boys”. They need to see the consequences.

So that’s enough. I’ve vented, and now I want you to think about it, and if you agree with me, click through here and electronically sign the petition to lower the MPAA rating. I realize you may not have seen this movie. I’m stating my opinion that it doesn’t matter.

It should be shown.

Click here to Sign

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

All the Wasted Time

And to think, I could have been smoking meth all this time.

All these years, the pull of crack and meth was strong, but the one thing that deterred me was that old thing they tell you about how your teeth fall out.

If I'd known that my teeth would just pop the fuck out of my mouth all on their own, I'd have picked up the pipe long ago.

So... You all might recall my previous post about my issues with my dentist (the aptly named "Crotchety Bastard" and my teeth.  It seems that despite all of the work the old coot put in on my one problem tooth, that low and behold he fucked it up, and suddenly... without pain or warning, my one-year-old crown just decided to rebel from my jaw and fling itself free from my mouth altogether.

Now, I don't mean to be all dramatic and whatnot, but let me just tell you that there is nothing quite so jarring as your teeth falling out with no inkling ahead of time. I think I'd prefer to be in a knife fight. At least that's a voluntary violation.

So there I was last week, getting settled in at work, when my crown pops the fuck out. I call the Old Crotchety Bastard to make an emergency appointment, and in what may turn out to be the most fortuitous happenstance of all, I come to find out that the OCB doesn't take my new employer's insurance. Glory-fucking-hallelujah. Finally, I have an excuse to leave that old mother fucking crotchety bastard.

Here’s where I find that almost everyone else on the planet freaking LOVES their dentist. I posted about my dental despair on Facebook, and got a dozen dentist recommendations within 2 hours. It was amazing.

I decided, after long and careful thought, to go with the TM’s dentist. Partly because she’s got no complaints. Partly because he had an appointment miraculously open THAT DAY, and partly because he DOES take my new insurance.

All that decided, off I head to my new tooth-man, with my old crown clickety-clacking around in a disposable condiment container, because I’m nothing if not classy. I could do nothing but keep my fingers crossed that the new guy wasn’t also some shriveled old coot with nothing better to do than to mouth-violate me.

Things started off promisingly enough… As I entered the office, I noted that his examining room was festooned. Not with the candid shots of the recently empained, but rather with framed news articles, autographed photos, and other commemorative material surrounding my beloved Cincinnati Reds. “This…”, I though to myself, “…is a good sign.”

I won’t accuse my new guy of a good bedside manner, because that would be false. He’s a younger guy, and tall and stocky, much like your very own Beefy Muchacho. He took a cursory look at the tooth in the plastic container, and then an even more cursory look at the gaping chasm in my mouth where said tooth once resided, and he said…

“You just got this put in a year ago?”

(Oh… I should pause here to mention that my new dentist sort of talks like Shaquille O’Neal does in interviews. All low resonance, and fast words, and hard to make out at first. So, picture Shaq saying this stuff to me while you’re reading. I have to admit that I found the notion that for the first time, the guy with the fingers in his mouth was the one who was easier to understand. )

Back to the conversation….

I replied, “Yeah, almost exactly.”

“Who? I mean… Who did this?”… I could sense the disgust in his voice. His deep, mumbly voice…

“Dr. Crotchety Coot Bastard, DDS… up in Coot Land.” (I’m paraphrasing here. )

“I don’t understand why… He should have known this would never last. I am surprised it lasted this long.

They don’t do it this way any more, because it just doesn’t last.”

This was, obviously, not what I wanted to hear… I really didn’t want to know that not only did the Old Crotchety Bastard have a less-than-light touch when it came to literally everything, he was using fucking antiques on me. Like… apparently just for fucking fun.

What would he have done with me had I stayed his patient forever? Would he have started shoving tooth-shaped pebbles into my mouth? Would he have asked me to pick up a good whittlin’ stick on the way over to his office, so he could “Carve me a chopper?”

Or maybe he’d go the other way, and just be all:

“You know, son… We seem to be having considerable trouble with this one tooth. I say we just yank-em all out. I’ve already got you fitted for the George Washington 5000 model dentures… Now lean back and listen all about how Mitt and I are old fishin’ buddies. This is gonna hurt!”

In about 10 seconds, my new dentist, who I’m going to call “The Big Orthodontal” or “The Big O” in honor of his Shaq tendencies, was able to tell me that The Old Coot had fitted me with a fucking bygone era war button or something, and now the real man was going to fix me all up. Only… it’s gonna take a few weeks to hear from my insurance company to see if they’ll cover the implant he’s gotta put into my jaw.

In the meantime, The Big O's plan was to just stick the old musket ball back into my mouth as a place holder. As he was reading the area, he kept making these mentions about how I need to be careful with it, or I could possibly knock it out in my sleep and choke on it.

As I was thinking about how I could possibly avoid doing something in my sleep, (especially after I asked him if I could use a bite guard, and he said no…), he took one final look at the bit of triceratops bone the Old Coot carved out for me, he tossed the idea and told me to just go Santorum (Toothless) while we waited.  There’s just too much risk that I could lose that fucking crown down my throat. Or, you know…  choke to death. Apparently in that order.

So, here I am. A toothless, grinning idiot. A yokel. And I have no crack., and this is pissing me off. 

More to come... I'm sure.