Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto's just a rock, and that rocks

I, for one, am happy that the International Astronomers’ Union decided to strip Pluto of its designation as a planet.

It isn’t so much the science of the thing, though I agree there, considering that leaving the designation would have required also granting planet status to some decidedly un-planetlike objects kicking around the solar system. And it isn’t merely the subversiveness of the move (Topple the dominant cosmological paradigm! Burn the motherfucker down!), or the fact that opponents were waving plush Pluto the dog toys and bringing sentiment and even kitch into a scientific discussion.

It is that we need these occasional reminders that knowledge is not static, that deeply and widely held beliefs can prove to be wrong.

All your life there have been nine planets. It has been a fact. And now it isn’t. Now you’ll have to learn some new mnemonic (my favorite – My Very Erotic Mate Joyfully Satisfies Unusual Needs Passionately – is an easy edit), and maybe help out at your kid’s school sawing that last arm off all the solar system models.

But, you have been reminded, facts are just falsehoods waiting to be uncovered, and maybe that reminder will bubble up through your subconscious at the right time, when the fact in question really needs subverting.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Would the last Seattle sports icon to leave please shut off the lights?

Jamie Moyer has left Seattle.

Yeah, doesn’t mean much to you, unless it does, unless you already understand the world in which the story lives.

Moyer is a small man by pitcher standards, smaller than me, and weird, and aloof. He is the Mariners career leader in wins, starts, and innings pitched, the only Ms pitcher to have two 20+ win seasons, and at forty-fucking-three years old is respected around the league as the craftiest no-stuff-havin’ leftie veteran you can hope to face.

He has a veto on any trade, chooses where he goes, because he has damn well earned it. He and his wife run the best sports-related non-profit in the city, and get millions of dollars to people in need, especially children.

Moyer is one of the last, check that, THE last old Seattle sports icon in the city. Nobody else could leave a Seattle team with more history in tow than Jamie.

But, he’s gone to Philly for a couple of prospects. I heard it on the way back from work last night as the final, almost toss-off, clip in the ESPN radio update.

See, given who Jamie is, this means some things. It means he’s done pitching after this season. He isn’t going to start a season as anything but a Mariner at this point in his career. So, why go to Philly at all? Why not play your final games for the organization in which you built your legacy?

Because the veterans of Moyer’s caliber understand and respect this game differently, both more purely and with more compromises, than fans. It is late August, he is given the chance to pitch a month and a half for a contender and get his home team, his real team, some young blood for the future. It is the right thing to do, mainly because to refuse would be the wrong thing, would cross the line to selfishness that a career team athlete just can’t accept.

Fans are going to be upset, but it happens. We’ve seen this before. When GM Bill Bavasi announced the trade, he spoke of Moyer almost as a lost legacy, as though we had to be reminded that he was once a Mariner. No, we’ll have to be reminded, some day, that he was once a Philly, much as San Francisco 49 fans will have to be reminded that Jerry Rice was once a Seahawk. Patrick Ewing ended his career here, Vince Lombardi coached the Redskins after he had achieved icon status in Green Bay, and what was the last jersey that Jordan wore anyway? Moyer will still be remembered as a Mariner.

But, there is something poignant there, regardless. Because he didn’t get to finish the perfect string. It was a shutout, but not a perfect game. He’ll always be ours, but we’ll remember how close he was to being that rare athlete that gets to stay home until the very end.

We may never again see the superstar athlete that retires from the team that drafted him. John Elway got to. Larry Bird. Magic. Better sports geeks than I could extend the list, but might be hard-pressed to name the most recent examples. We settle for players like Brett Favre, drafted by Atlanta, but 13+ years becoming a legendary Green Bay Packer, and though we’re willing to forget if they play a final season, a last few games, in another uniform, it still stings.

Moyer will be remembered as a Mariner in years to come, but we’ve all just been denied the chance to see the final tip of the hat in our stadium, in our colors.

Makes me sad.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I coulda been pithy without this pain

Growing up in upstate New York, John Gotti was a mythopoetic figure, especially in my life. My stepfather’s father was first-generation Sicilian, and I always believed he “knew people.”

John Gotti had a nickname that had to be shared in exactly this way. It demanded it, because it was so satisfying.

Someone mentions Gotti, and you say “Ah, yes, the Teflon Don.”

And then you wait. And after a pause…

“The Teflon Don?”

“Can’t make anything stick.”

Y’see that? Satisfying.

My job shares this quality in way. I work the monkeycage at Seattle Repertory Theatre.



“Yeah, because a reasonable intelligent monkey can do my job.”

Buh-dump baaaah. Satisfying.

The monkeycage is the tiny hut-like office at the stage door entrance of the theatre. During the day, it operates as the main administrative desk, but I and my fellow simians work the off-hours. Sometimes, the incredibly off hours.

I have been here two hours, and I have received a single phone call from the guy working before me telling me he had walked off with the front door key, and have buzzed two people in. They are the only souls I have seen or heard, and it isn’t likely to get hopping any time between now and 10:30 when I finally lock the place down. I’ll be back here tomorrow, Sunday, morning at 9, and could well see nary a hide nor hair until my relief comes at 4.

I’m going batshit crazy already.

Granted, much of the allure of this job is the solitude and almost utter lack of responsibility. If the place doesn’t burn down, it’s been a good shift. I can read and write without 35 pounds of small child hanging off my arm. I’ve been known to drink on the job, often at the behest of my supervisor, and in fact have a bottle of Beaujolais sitting next to me at this very moment.

But, damn, did I mention the batshit crazy part?

It’s a terrible price to pay for a pithy nickname for your job.

I knew I shoulda asked Grandpa Tony for an in. Then I coulda been pithy and cool.

“Jim Jewell. Ahh, yeah, the Oily Whore.”


“Oily whore?”

“He’s a slippery fuck.”


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Happy Fucking Birthday To Me

I turn 34 today. It may well be the least significant possible age to turn. There is little essential difference between a 33-year-old and a 34-year-old. There are no milestones attached. I can't even run for president yet.

To top it off, I kinda mortgaged this birthday. My mother gave me a little cash in July to help fund my Vegas gambling kitty, and Liv and Tricia bought me golf sandals last week. So, no big surprises - I was very capitalistic with my birthday this year, turning it into goods.

But, the girls are still working it. Livvie climbed into bed with me this morning and sang a very quiet Happy Birthday, then brought me the card she made for me, and then led me into the living room where Happy Birthday Daddy! and We Love You! were written on the windows in those bitchin' washable window markers I bought Liv this week. Very cool. And I got a peek at my cake, which was going to be a plain double-stacker, but then the top piece crumbled and Tricia managed, with the help of some of those cob-shaped corn-spearers, turned it into a way cool monster head. Pretty sweet.

And, I imagine I'll be getting rather drunk later.

Just been a bit blue lately, and unable to motivate myself to write much, which always makes me bluer. Staying on top of house chores and Liv trips and projects, but that's about it. I suppose I could force my birthday into a turning point, but that just feels a little more pathetic.

OK, I'll try.

Look out 34! Here I come! It's a whole new woooorld!

*sigh* Yeah, that'll work. Maybe the Jameson will do the trick. 8 hrs and counting down.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Defense of Marriage Act II: The Vendetta

This Whole Gay Marriage Thing

I’ll tell ya, it is finally pissing me off. I haven’t been terrifically invested in the issue because I was never particularly invested in the concept of marriage (as opposed to my specific marriage, which I am totally invested in, but as a relationship more than an institution). I believe in equal rights and equal protection no matter what, but don’t really care how that is achieved; I’m onboard with states throwing open the doors so everyone can get married or getting out of the marriage business and only conferring civil unions that are accessible to anyone, letting the churches do what they want with marriage. Whatever. I want loving couples of any makeup to be able to adopt and share insurance coverage and receive survivor benefits, but as causes go it just has never ranked high on my agenda.

But, the rationales provided when courts in particular (because I expect spun rhetoric from legislatures) uphold gay marriage bans, as they did recently in Washington State, has sufficiently rattled my cage. Because when official bodies, with a straight motherfucking face, start laying out self-righteous arbitrary bullshit, it is information warfare, and the only tactic is to slice up the arguments, peel the skin back, expose the black heart, and feed it to ‘em.

What really gets me is the disingenuous nature of the arguments. If they just stepped forward and said “Listen, we don’t really like gay people and neither do most of the voters, mainly because gay sex skeeves us out and gets our juices flowing at the same time, so we’re just not going to let them marry,” then fine. They're douchebags, but at least douchebags that admit their small-mindedness and petty hate.

But, noooOOOOOOooooo, they gotta go and start talking about procreation, make that the link, play it like a fucking trump card. “Gotcha there! That’s the one thing you fudgepackers and carpetmunchers can’t do, so we’re going to make it the basis of the decision.”

This from the majority opinion in the Washington case: "The Legislature was entitled to believe [when it established the law] that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation is essential to the survival of the human race…” Forget the twaddle about the benefits of living with biological parents that follows, which is not supported by the research (stable, loving homelife IS a benefit, but regardless of the blood relationship). Survival of the human race? Are they fucking kidding me?

Listen, it seems perfectly reasonable to believe that we won’t be around in a hundred-some years, but insufficient hooking up of dicks and pussies is not going to be the cause. We have more than enough people in the world. I’d vote too many.

But, further, the claim, the connection, is just bullshit. As Dan Savage points out in his recent NYT op-ed, his 60+ grandfather didn’t remarry for procreative purposes or to ensure that his (fully-grown) children had both mommy and daddy. Procreation and marriage aren’t in any way necessarily connected, meaning that a marriage without procreation is still considered a marriage. But, should it be?

Maybe the WA Supreme Court and everyone else that has trotted out this thin veil to throw over institutional homophobia are really on to something. If lack of procreative ability is reason enough to deny gays marriage, then it is reason enough to deny any non-procreative couple their license.

Let’s put some balls on the fucking Defense of Marriage Act. Those pussy Republicans didn’t go far enough. You want to get married, show that you can have children, period. Too old? Too bad. Shooting blanks? You’re flying solo. Post-hysterectomy? Cry me a river, spinster.

But we can’t stop there. The Lord don’t love no shirkers nor cheats, after all. Marriage should be provisional until the procreation happens. Can’t make the magic happen? We’re sending you back to living in sin, and you can buy your own damned insurance when you get there. Marriage is for the baby-makers.

Think I can’t get support for such a measure? Then you don’t understand the quiet contempt parents hold all childless couple in, with your sex whenever and especially wherever you want, and your going to movies and plays and concerts, and your vacations and your disposable income. We hate you for not suffering along with us, almost as much as the WA Supreme Court hates man-on-man lovin’ and the thought that a precious, precious egg or seed might go wasted in mankind’s relentless war against extinction.

Dudes, I’m fucking serious. This is their argument, and they are totally safe making it, because there are too many people like me, that damn gay marriage with faint praise because they aren’t gay, they don’t really care, it doesn’t really affect them.

Let’s make it absolutely fucking clear what their rationale means, and hold them to it. Applying their argument in any way short of universally, which suddenly implicates a lot more people, falls illegally short of equal protection.

Fuck ‘em with their own twisted logic. Now excuse me while I go paint up my “Marriage is for breeders” sign and prepare to march.