Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rules to Comment By (Bigmouths Strike Again)

I was kind of disturbed a few weeks ago when I read some comments someone made in response to my friend, Mr. Rat's blog, This person, I believe, unfairly criticized him. Severely criticized him.

The internet is a great place with all its freedoms and anonymity but it can also be an unforgiving and vicious place.

Over a year ago I became Facebook "friends" with a young artist in London who provided knowledge and often video coverage of the protests that were occurring in Iran. He is very talented and I rarely communicated with him, but occasionally I would post something on his wall-usually in support of his photography or poetry.

Once, he posted "Jesus Christ Superstar." Although he was referring to a band he liked by that name, I responded (or tried to respond) with a line that came from the song from the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar." The problem was that I was quite young when the musical was out in the movie theaters and I misquoted the line. The actual line is: "Jesus Christ, Super Star. Do you think you're what you say you are?" 

I posted what I thought were the correct lines from my misquoting eight year old self: "Who in the hell do you think you are?"

Well, this guy thought that I was a crazy religious nut and that I was asking who the hell he thought he was! So he responded by saying something to the effect that I was not nearly as intelligent as he was not fit to lick his boot, so to speak.

I am embarrassed to admit that it hurt my feelings. Not the intelligence part. I thought that it was he who was sensitive about that. He needed to feel intellectually superior. It was the fact that I had no way to explain myself. He blocked me, so I could not apologize-yes, apologize or explain what happened. I just did not want to be misunderstood. I had hoped it was something that could have been laughed at. 

I never even told my husband about it because it upset me and I thought that if I talked about it it would upset me even more. It kind of worked. It does not hurt me in the slightest now-especially since I am pretty much purging right now.

The reason I tell you this tale is just to illustrate the delicate nature of comments-especially comments made online. 

I developed the following rules for myself, but share them with you if you are interested:

1. Never assume how you picture anyone online is how they actually look. Even if they have a photo. We all know that a photo means nothing on the internet. Anyone can be anyone else. Don't be quick to be dismissive of anyone. You might be commenting on the words of a poet (Morrissey) or a fool. You never know.

2. Remember that tone can be hugely difficult to convey in short bursts, or even longer bursts. Don't assume you understand the tone. It may seem sarcastic or full of ridicule, but the person who you are responding to may not have meant it in a harmful way. Assume the best of people when possible.

3. Don't make a comment if you are angry. Wait a day or even a few hours. You may have every  right to tell people to fuck off, but if you give it more time, it will more likely be more effective than if you are too impulsive. Trust me, I thought twice about the Jesus Christ comment, but should have at least looked at the lyrics to the song before posting what I thought it was.

4. Stick to the subject. Go for the jugular. Don't go for the jugular and then the balls and then the intestines, etc. Your comments have more weight and validity if you stay with the topic at hand.

5. Stay above the belt. For example don't ever criticize someone's parenting skills. Trust me. On Friday, I sat outside a courtroom for Jovanny and Miguel's custody review (we are their guardians). I could hear all sorts of things going on with "bad" parents. When you are sitting outside a courtroom and a lawyer starts telling you what you need to do so your kids don't get put up for adoption, its time to assess your life but people are going to criticize you, let's face it. Anything less than that, is up for self-evaluation, especially if you have never even met the person you are criticizing.

6. Be "gentle and kind." Assholes don't get this. So if it is not seemingly effective, do something else besides fiddling with the internet. You have better ways to spend valuable minutes of your life.

I am sure I have forgotten something else important. But you get the general picture. The internet would be a much better place if people thought about what they put out there more often.

Bullies feel safe hiding behind their anonymous facade.

Morrissey Update 
On Friday he played Vina del Mar festival in Chile to a very polite and subdued crowd. But he looked happy. 

I watched the whole thing. Click below for the link to the entire festival.
Or here is a link to Morrissey's portion (just the first three songs):

It reminded me of watching Spanish TV with my great-grandma in Long Beach. She was from Mexico and just the flashy type of shows she watched on Sunday afternoons were so similar. 

Great-grandma had every reason to be unpleasant having survived the Mexican Revolution but she was most definitely "gentle and kind. "

Be strong.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Throw Your Homework Onto the Fire

I have to be perfectly honest. I am struggling with something to write about. I have made a vow to myself to write weekly (at least) no matter what. But not much has happened. 

Friday I went to have a "girlie" drink called a Pink Lotus Martini- with two teacher friends.The drink contains cotton candy and alcohol, how can you go wrong? 

One of my fellow teacher friends has left teaching to write a book and is considering coming back next year. I tried to convince her not to come back because she will get sucked into "the vortex". 

The vortex is the addicting nature of teaching. You can become easily addicted to planning and plotting and the emotion of students and school life. It can become all-consuming.  At a certain point you forget who you are completely. It takes summer vacation or Christmas break to find your way back to yourself.

Other ways to avoid the vortex include hanging out late at Irish pubs and playing drunken tambourine--but I wouldn't know about that.

Just my little way of figuratively "throwing my homework onto the fire".

Take My Hand and Off We Stride
Roland and I managed to go to Hollywood last night after having dinner at a place called The Fish Market in Los Alamitos. It was kind of limiting because there simply was not much on the menu for a non fish eating person. So I opted for some pasta with vegetables.

 It was not so easy to feel motivated to head to Hollywood since we were both exhausted. I am the one who wanted to go. It was just that my mom was watching the two older boys and we rarely have the chance to go out on a Sunday and I just thought that it would be exciting perhaps to go to Hollywood to the Cat and Fiddle and listen to live music. I just wanted "music, people and they're young and alive", etc.

Why we were exhausted: Our day included, waking up at 5:30, spending five hours at a swim meet and then heading to Long Beach to sit through the parent portion of the sex ed class we have subjected Jovanny to, taking Oliver to violin, dropping him off in Tustin for a sleepover, then heading to Buena Park to my mom's, then heading to Los Alamitos and  Hollywood.

It seems like every time I go to an English pub in Los Angeles in the evening I am tired beyond belief. Before I was married I went to The King's Head in Santa Monica with my friends Moe and Richard. There was an English musician playing there-advertised on the board outside as "Britain's newest sensation." Of course I can't remember his name. 

Anyway, the music was anything but lively so I hung dearly onto a pillar while this musician played I think David Gray-like tunes- I was literally falling asleep standing up. I even began to slide down the pillar as I nodded off. Moe and Richard were kind of annoyed. 

I so wanted to feel even slightly daring and somewhat "cooler" last night by hanging out in Hollywood on a Sunday evening that it was possible to appear as if I was not secretly longing for the security and comfort of my pillows and blankets. I tried desperately not to think of how wonderful it would feel to just close my eyes and imagine the soft, cold comfort of my pillow.

We enjoyed the Cat and Fiddle, by the way. We sat outside in the courtyard drinking our beer and listening to a Latin Jazz improvisation and watching people. The fairly lights were up. Roland asked where it looked like where we were at and I had to say it looked like Spain-or what I think Spain looks like. Roland thought it looked like Disneyland-by the New Orleans Square area.

I took pictures but they did not come out well at all. I desperately want/need a new camera.

The ride home was a snap. It took us all of thirty minutes to get back to the OC. It always seems like LA is so far, but it isn't when there is no traffic. I did not see Rasputin, Jesus or Spiderman. Too bad.

As I was writing this blog earlier while listening to Smiths music, with Mozipedia beside me on the bed, my husband asked, "Don't you think you are a little obsessed?" Umm. No. No. Not at all!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mystery Moz Specs

Morrissey wearing mystery specs

I woke up Saturday morning with a pair of glasses in a glass case on my night table. It is very mysterious because we don't know where they came from. They are not my husband's because before we were married he had the same glasses that he'd been prescribed back in 1995 from on optometrist on the High Street in Newport, IOW. In fact his nephew, Ben (who is now 19 or so) had bent them completely apart when he was a toddler and I had stepped on them a few times getting out  of bed before he was ready to part with them. Those were the last pair of glasses he owned before his current pair--and they were beyond keeping.

I thought, perhaps, they were Jovanny's. When he and Miguel became part of our family a little over a year ago he had lost his prescription glasses. We always thought he'd left them at his last home or that his former caretaker (who wasn't the best) hid them or took them out of spite. But when I found these specs, I theorized that these were his long-lost glasses. 

But Jovanny said they are not his.

The only other person who wears glasses is me. And I know they aren't mine. 

The only clue is the optometrist's name and address on the glass case. It is in Corona, CA. I honestly don't know anyone from Corona.  

I know there must  be some reasonable explanation for these mysterious specs, but I can't think of one.

They look a bit like Morrissey's glasses from the 80s. Don't you think?

My unreasonable theory is that I have such vivid Morrissey dreams that, he left his glasses on my night table once my dream had ended.

He has a lot to answer for!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Evening With Russell Brand--Kind Of

The rose for Russell
On Monday night I went with my "other half" to Hollywood to see Russell Brand. My mother graciously offered to babysit and even though it was a school night we knew we had a sweet deal. We checked out the venue- The Central Comedy Stage at the Hudson Theater and learned that there were only ninety-nine seats.

My Mission Impossible
I spoke to Mr. Rat before we went and asked if I should wear a rose or something. He suggested bringing a white or a red rose and present it to Russell telling him it was from the Morrisseyworlders. I thought this was a brilliant idea and was quite happy to set out upon my mission.

I have always envisioned the worst case scenario in life. I have lived long enough to realize that one should not count on anything happening the way you want it to because it never does. My worst case scenario in this incident was that I would not be able to give Russell the rose. Or that I would not be able to speak to him in order to give him our message.

That was when I thought of the idea of attaching a tag with a written message just in case I had to just throw it on the stage or something. So with my son, Jovanny's help, we made a tag for the rose with the following message: "With love from Morrisseyworlders at the Twitterdilly Arms. Your messenger, @awillo9658" Of course I hoped to speak to him, but if not, he would get the message and perhaps even tweet me a 'Thanks.'

                                                     The Journey
One of the nice things about the journey to LA without children in tow is listening to music. On the way to there, we listened to The Milk Carton Kids, which is an acoustic duo from LA we saw back in September at McCabe's in Santa Monica. They are kind of somber in tone, but when we saw them live, they were hilarious. 

Below is a video of The Milk Carton Kids singing Permanent.  Great lyrics.

Jesus, Spider man and Rasputin
I always see interesting religious figures (Jesus) or superheroes (Spiderman at a bus stop in Santa Monica) when I leave behind the Orange Curtain and enter the "dangerous" territory of Los Angeles. This time I saw Rasputin at a bus stop on Santa Monica Boulevard looking quite serious-as he should. I know I need a better camera. And I need to have it primed and ready for shooting the unusual so I might share.

The Show
We learned soon after arriving that  Russell was performing for so low a price and such an odd night and in such a small venue because he is going to have his own television show and was practicing the format. What a treat we had. How lucky to be one of the 99 people.

I made sure we sat close to the front so we actually were in the second row. The venue was so small it felt like the theater at school when we have a staff meeting. It was intimate which was wonderful but at the same time scary for a shy person like me trying to find a way to present a rose to a very not shy performer. It was so small that had an audience member had to relieve him or herself, they would have had to cross right in front of Russell to get to the loo.

Nobody went to the restroom for the entire hour and a half.

Of course he was hilarious. He began by reading an excerpt from an article from the Daily Mail claiming that their sole aim is to create bigotry in the minds of their readers. So he went on reading about a vampire who fell in love with a cannibal in Sweden. I can't possibly retell any jokes because I don't recall them specifically and part of the joke lies in the delivery. He is just funny in his demeanor so I can't recreate that. 

I loved when he made fun of the name Grand Old Party (GOP-Republicans) for several reasons. I won't tell you what those reasons are so as not to offend anyone. The name 'Grand Old Party' really does sound like it should be said or sung by Al Jolson.

Several people have asked if he made any references to his ex. He did in a most subtle way. He spoke about how some people are soooo boring that you just can't believe you are listening to them. He then said sarcastically, "That's never happened to me, of course." But everyone knew he was talking about Katy Perry. He then said that he was sure there were journalists in the house. He seemed rather tired of it.

I wanted to ask him if he gets tired of being funny. I mean, he must feel pressured to be funny all the time. It has to be tiring. Even being naturally funny. Doesn't he just want to not HAVE to be funny?

The Rose with Many (figurative)Thorns
I have to admit that during the entire performance I had moments when I just wondered when and how I was going to give him this rose. I could have jumped up and said, "Hello Mr. Brand. I have a rose for you." But it was his performance and I did not want to ruin it for him or the audience.It also would have been really awkward. There was a little voice inside telling me to wait. That the best time would be when the audience was clapping. I could just walk up and hand it to him. 

So I waited and towards the end he wandered around the audience and talked to people and I was dying to give him the rose but truthfully scared shitless that he would try to engage in conversation and I just knew my brain would freeze up and I would turn into a blithering idiot. I would turn into one of those boring people he spoke of-like Katy Perry!

The end finally came and we applauded and I held up the rose very close to him but he did not see it most likely because of the lighting. So I immediately followed him close to back stage. Roland said, "That's a shame." And I thought, "I am NOT leaving here without giving him this rose." So a stage hand or sound man said, "Oh. Did you want to give that to Russell? I'll give it to him if you like." I thanked him and left with Roland. 

I kept kicking myself for not being more assertive but to be honest, it just isn't me. Despite the fact that I am a teacher, I am kind of shy. I was truthfully afraid to speak to him. So afraid of the thought, in fact, that I noticed I was shaking as we exited. 

I was so disappointed for my Twitterdilly friends I seriously considered lying and just saying, "Yeah. Gave him the rose. Gave me a cuddle. He's awesome." But I hate lying unnecessarily. I have faith that the Twitterdilly Arms will still accept me.

I never received a thank you from Russell (not too surprised) but I feel in my heart that he received the rose. I received a tweet from a Sherrie Brand from Manhattan Beach CA mentioning the event to me specifically. I don't know if she is a relation to Russell, a dedicated fan, or a fan who happens (coincidentally) to have his surname. In any event she retweeted my comment that my face hurt and I had to chip away dried tears of laughter on the way home--all very true!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It Was So Lonely on a Limb

Yarmouth Pier IOW Calender

Take Me Anywhere

I have included a photo of my calendar because last night I had a virtual meeting with fellow Twitterdillians (although I just waved, really) at Yarmouth Pier to say good-bye to Mr. Rat's blog, which we really did not need to say good-bye to because he has decided to keep writing the blog anyway. We were told to wear blue roses and light candles. We did.

I then went to my kitchen and noticed our IOW calendar was still on January, so I flipped it over and there before me was Yarmouth Pier. It was kind of odd.

At last count, we have 4,659 followers on @Morrisseysworld. When I say 'we' I just mean those involved in the effort to drum up more followers. Hopefully we get to read those tour diaries soonish. 

We felt so lonely without Rat for a whole 24 hours.

Superbowl or Super Sex Education Sunday

Today is the big American football game-the Superbowl. All it means to me is food, beer and  commercials. I have a problem with sports that don't have constant action. American football has so many fits and starts, I just lose interest and I begin to eat more or drink more beer. 

Its a drag for Jovanny (15 years old) because Roland and I enrolled him in a sex education class through our church. Its not one of those churches that tells you to abstain and he isn't going to make a virginity pledge or go through some strange ceremony, etc. We are Unitarians and Unitarians are religiously not religious. We are religious enough, I suppose, not to cancel a sex education  class on the day of the Superbowl.

Anyway, its an eight week course. Honestly, I think he'll be able to tell us things we didn't know. 

He has complained a lot about it and its one of those things that a parent makes their kids do even though the kids don't really want to do it. It may be lame, it may be dorky but we can only hope that he will learn things we may miss in our little "chats." For us, the "chats" don't happen if someone doesn't ask a question. I'm not embarrassed but I am embarrassed to bring up the subject randomly.

Although Jovanny  has no interest in football either, I feel kind of guilty that while we are watching the game eating corn chips and dip and sipping our drinks, he may be looking at slides, discussing human sexuality, feeling slightly awkward perhaps.

(By the way, he has given me permission to write this as long as I drum up some sympathy for him.)

Clearly I have turned into the parent no one ever wanted to be. I never realized how lonely it would be until I got here.

I wonder if Morrissey's parents had "the chat" with him. I kind of doubt it. I imagine it was a very Catholic approach, which in my own experience, is basically no approach. Everything is bad and will make you die.

Morrissey sex quote:
“I’d like to free the world of sex stereotypes. I am interested in sex and genders. I consider myself a sort of prophet of the fourth sex. The third sex has been tried out, but it failed. I want something different. I’m bored with women and men.” 

There are better Moz quotes on the subject but without my copy of Mozopedia I am seemingly at a loss.

Before he left, Jovanny asked if he could get a soda and some snacks at the AMPM shop when they have a break. I gave him five bucks and as happy as Larry, he smiled wistfully and said, "I don't mind now."