Sunday, May 15, 2005

Cheerleaders to remain Bootylicious

Cheerleaders to remain Bootylicious: "News 8 Austin reports that Rep. Al Edwards (D-Can't Handle It) Bill to ban sexually suggestive high school routines has dead ended in the Senate. Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said her education committee has more important things to consider. Rep...."

Hurdle Cleared

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Friday Night Rights, Flagging the Cheerleaders

The headline: Texas House to Cheerleaders: Don't Shake It by CNN.

We take our football very seriously in Texas. It's more like a religion than an extracurricular activity. Under those Friday Night Lights, high school heros are made. Sometimes, it's a kick-off return for a touchdown, sometimes it's a fumble recovery, and sometimes it's just a completed pass for a first down; in a small town, each is more important to the community than to the athlete.

When people ask me where I'm from, I say Temple, but only because the town I actually lived in was known more for the small racetrack hidden behind rows of trees along the river the city is named after than anything else. In Texas, the only way a small town can get state-wide notoriety is if the local football team repeatedly makes trips through the state playoffs and collects a trophy on occassion. It's not the strength of the academic team or the band or the volleyball team - it's the large-town sports page headlines the football team claims.

For people like me who didn't have the talent to compete on Friday nights, going to the games as anything other than a spectator was the next best thing. I was in the band, like the cheerleading squad and PTA, I was at every game - home and away. I was part of the tradition, if only in its shadows. The games were social gatherings; even student spectators dressed-up in clubbing-like clothes - you never knew who would come up and ask you to a Saturday night movie...an entire week of school comes to a head on Friday night. Parents go to support their children; students go to be recognized.

The guys on the field represent the heroic males we wish we were and the cheerleaders symbolize a fragile, puberty-stricken innocence growing up. Now, the State of Texas wants to set vague and obscure limitations on this innocence like a parent scared of letting go to their college-bound child.

The law and commentary here by the Burnt Orange Report.

A faculty member sponsors the cheerleading squad, plans the routines, and advises the girls on what is right and what is inappropriate - let these sponsors do their jobs; let them teach. Instead of legislating morality and tying the hands of these sponsors behind their backs, the Texas Legislature needs to focus on why the Texas Education system is one of the worst in the country.

What goes on during a Friday night football game is lot bigger than just suggestive dancing; it's adolescence - a part of growing up. Whether or not this legislation makes an impact on Friday night football is not going to affect what happens after the lights go out by the river. Worry about what the instructors are teaching in class from Monday thru Friday. Worry about what happens after the game. Cheerleaders do not dance in front of the Texas Legislature, they dance in front of their parents, the parents of their friends, and the entire community. If we have to legislate what goes on in front of the public eye, then we have much larger problems.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Bohemians Not Getting Lost in the Rabbit Hole

Dome Improvement: "Pop quiz: What's behind the surprising rise in IQ? (Hint: Stop reading the great authors and start playing Grand Theft Auto.) By Steven Johnson from Wired magazine."

This may very well be largest second step in the history of ambitious short people - the first was more symbolic of a child trying to walk in a pair of his father's boots for the first time. It was in this Mother Jones article that my infant foot first stepped. The article reviews Steven Johnson's book, Everything Bad is Good for You, about why Americans are getting smarter, more intelligent despite seeing standardized test scores, such as the SAT and ACT, dropping.

I'm breaking this post down into different angles and will be posting to my alternate/media-specific blogs (Flat Screen Reflections), but some general statements and personal background should be included as a sort of prologue.

First, I'm a Bohemian. Initially, I claimed this title because my roots are, in fact Bohemian - meaning from the Bohemian kingdom in the now-Czech Republic. My father was also proud of the distinction and used to joke that his sometimes-frugal behavior could be attributed to his heritage. Then, a few years ago, I bought Baz Luhrman's Moulin Rouge and was formally introduced to the term's second meaning; one that explained or justified my creative/artistic urge to write. I've become addicted to the lifestyle and proud of the label - I've read a wide array of books (Among the Bohemians, The Book of Absinthe, and The Picture of Dorian Gray) to get a better feel for the sub-culture - but still aspire to be a successful, productive member of society rather than someone so completely absorbed with my own art and creativity that I cannot see the art of everyday living by everyday people. Because, the truth is, art has changed.

An artist is no longer just a painter or a writer, but with the advent of the internet and other technologies, artists can be computer programmers, car designers, and architects. And it is around individuals like these that major cities continue to grow. There's more to this - see this article and read his books.

Where was I going with all this? - Use your left brain to think and your right brain to do. We as a society are beginning to utilize the strengths of both halves in conjuction with the other, not necessarily out of a desire to do so, but as a way to keep up and compete with the rest of the world. We are witnessing another phase of evolution.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My Top Ten

100 people who are qualified to carry the "Bad Mothafucka" wallet besides Pulp Fiction's Jules Winfield.

The Lizard King compiles a lengthy list of superhumans. I do not agree with all of them, but some (Mr. Miyagi, TMNT's Raphael, and R2D2) made me cringe in jealousy and blush with admiration for the King. But, the King did not include some of my boyhood (and adulthood) heroes.

I've come up with my top ten, not included in his list...they are:

10. Peter (Ron Livingston), Office Space
9. Martin Blank (John Cusack), Grosse Pointe Blank
8. Roland from Stephen King's Dark Tower Series
7. Number 5, Short Circuit
6. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), Casablanca
5. Mikey Walsh (Sean Astin), The Goonies
4. the Bride (Uma Thurman), Kill Bill
3. Lt. John McClane (Bruce Willis), Die Hard
2. President John F. Kennedy
1. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford)

Advocating the Devil's Advocate

When other little boys played with remote-controled cars and Nintendo, I sat in my room and wrote love letters that would never get delivered. My sense of romanticism was full of the juice even before I could produce it. I used to idolize the perfect relationship - sans arguments. Now, I require them.

The only way to really get to know someone is by finding that something that they are really passionate about. Tell a pro-choice woman that abortion is murder and you'll see her tear at you with teeth, nails, wit, and statistics ripping you a new asshole before you know what's happening. Tell an anti-death penalty mother that her murder-convicted son should be shown the same treatment that he showed his victim and she'll make you question how much you truly love your own child. That's what I'm talking about. These days, passion is no longer found in the bedroom; it's found in the voting booths.

The disappointing thing is that all of this passion is kept locked away until someone else personally opens it. Protesters these days are viewed as unemployed radicals with nothing better to do than stir up trouble. But every time you defend your personal position, your standing in a one-man/woman picket-line. Which brings me to the biased media.

Yes, it is biased. As Jim Cavan exlains in his column, Politics, Public Relations, and the Future of Journalism, a reporter's and a newspaper's bias can be seen by anyone looking for it. The problem is that the public is looking for these biases as if they were the hidden bunny on each cover of Playboy magazine. It's become a hobby for people that don't have hobbies.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, FoxNews...they are all biased. It's an advertising thing. It's an internet-related niche. It's the evolution of American media. Throw in partisan blogs such as Instapundit and Daily Kos and you have a whole lot of subjective, strategic fact-checking. They are all forgetting the most important factor of all: the intelligence of the American public.

The American public is comprised of inteligent human beings with their own biases looking on the internet and channel-surfing for the stories that they want to read. The truth is, each media is just giving their audiences what they want where they want it. They're just looking to satisfy their buyers. These media do not come out and blatantly support one candidate or another. Yes, they imply their preferences, but that's the beauty of a democracy - the people are not being required to read/watch these reports.

As a journalist, the first rule I ever learned was objectivity; the second was seeking the right angle. There are an almost infinite number of angles a reporter can take with a single, given fact. Maybe that angle is biased, but there will always be unexpected holes. The role of the reporter shouldn't be to report the story objectively, it should be to prove his personal bias false.

Recently, I read Men in Black; a constructionist's view of how the Constitution and the Bill of Rights should be applied in Supreme Court cases and how current justices are pushing through legislation through their liberal agendas. I don't necessarily agree with either approach, but reading this obviouslly biased book forced me to question my personal beliefs.