Monday, February 04, 2008

Effing freezing!

Last week, before I fell ill to what seemed like the plague, I was supposed to meet some friends for dinner, but after half an hour of waiting at the bus stop for the right bus, I couldn’t feel my toes. Unwilling to pay upwards of $15 for a cab and hypochondriac that I’ve always been, I immediately envisioned myself hobbling around toeless for the rest of my life; I called the hostesses with my apologies and hobbled home to veg out in front of my laptop-turned-TV. (And it took almost an hour for my toes to regain their senses...)

Spellbound was the cutest documentary ever! It brought back nightmares about my own spelling bee experiences though, including one at the district level that had me and my cousin competing against each other. Suffice to say the farthest I ever got was the state championship, unlike the kids in the documentary, who were shoo-ins to breeze past the regionals to get to the national bee. Some of them were even repeat participants. And they broadcast on ESPN! That is totally cool.

One thing I found fascinating was that a disproportionate number of the kids featured were children of immigrants. No idea if that's what the filmmakers wanted, or if that's who responded to a general call for portraits. Regardless of nativity status, though, the parents were almost as hard on the kids about practicing as the kids were on themselves.

The other documentary was F*ck, an exploration of the not just the notorious F-word itself, in all its glorious meanings and subtexts, but of censorship (particularly from the FCC) and social meaning. The format was basically snippets of interviews with a lot of celebrities, interspersed with some text, and a lot of music. It was good, especially when it got into the FCC-are-hypocrites side of things. (Like when they ruled Bono's on-air use of the phrase "fucking brilliant" was an adjective and not worthy of fining, then caved to outside groups and recast it as offensive, but then let Saving Private Ryan air uncut and unpenalized, fucking swear words and all.)

The film addressed the entire gamut of the word "fucking" -- from seeming proliferation of the word in recent times to its vague origins to what is "polite" to class implications of word choice in general to the controversy over censorship. It was kind of funny -- Alan Keyes was the first interview clip they showed. He was hilarious, but at least articulate. The same could not be said of Pat Boone. Other great clips from both sides of the various issues were Hunter S. Thompson, Janeane Garofalo, Sam Donaldson, Ice T (who cracked me up with a comment about why he loves free speech but doesn't care about the framers of the Constitution), and Alanis Morrissette.

Good times. And if I can convince my Econ group that our project should be about regulation of the airwaves, it would make the rest of the semester so much more interesting! That would be one topic I could get jazzed about for our presentation on economics, law, and regulation. Let the market totally decide!

Then, in a remarkably weird parallel week, an old college friend and I headed to see our presidential candidate of choice at a pre-Super Tuesday rally. We got to the convention center an hour before doors opened and found there was already a line stretching over a mile. (We know it was at least a mile because we Google-mapped it beforehand and walked there, then had to walk back almost to our starting point...)

Since both of Massachusetts' U.S. Senators were also speaking, I think the security was extra-tight. At any rate, it meant the line moved at a snail's pace, to the point where we only moved about ten yards in 30 minutes. I'd learned from last time how to dress appropriately; however, my toes started to freeze again after 45 minutes of waiting out by the piers. We reassured ourselves that it was heartening to see so many people there, that hopefully they all wouldn't be too tired or frozen to vote tomorrow, that it was great to see so many young voters and families out ... and then promptly bailed! I've already seen the candidate speak multiple times, on both coasts.

My toes are not worth sacrificing for a pre-primary political adrenaline rush. It's almost sandal season. I'll need them soon.

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