Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My best birthday present

I celebrated a birthday a couple weeks ago (Oh, thanks, that's very sweet of you to say something. That's not the point of the post, but yeah, thanks, still.) I had a ton of people offer best wishes on Facebook, which is always nice. My favorite was this one, which showed up the day after;
"Happy Belated! I saw Graham about 3 weeks ago as we were saying that working at the Cinema was awesome because we genuinely liked everyone we worked with." - Sabrina Hamady
Some background: What now seems like about three lifetimes ago, I managed this little movie theater in Sarasota (seen above). I was hired because of my concessions background in sports while another guy was there to manage the projection booth. That didn't really work out and I ended up responsible for the whole operation fairly soon after the theater opened in 1993. We had three screens, with a total seating capacity of 346 people. We showed artsy, independent and foreign films and served fancy concession items like cappuccino and pastries along with the standard popcorn and soda, which really wasn't done in most movie theaters at the time. It was a small theater but we were always pretty busy, working long hours, so at times it could be a difficult job. Because of the exposure to culture, it should have been a rewarding and fulfilling experience for all involved, but it largely wasn't. That's because the owner of the place, Dick Morris, was the most miserable, temperamental and despotic person I ever had the misfortune of working for. He was the kind of sicko who got off on being hated and often went out of his way to make that happen. His only "friends" were people who had something to gain by kissing his ass or were afraid of him or both. Ultimately, I was neither which is how I eventually got fired (although, I guess a paycheck qualifies as something to be gained, albeit I'd argue that it was earned).
I mention all this for one reason: to justify my focused efforts to staff the place with good, intelligent, hard-working, creative, high-character people who could work together and maintain a pleasant disposition. Most of them were college kids from nearby schools, either the Ringling School of Art and Design or New College. I love surrounding myself with people like that so part of it was for my own comfort, but I sincerely wanted them to not only work as well as possible with each other but to actually enjoy the experience, so chemistry among the staff was always very important when I hired people. I rejected a lot of people who probably would have been okay movie theater employees for that reason.

Sabrina was one of those I did hire and it's extremely gratifying all these years later for her to take note of that. Sabrina went to Brown (Ivy League!) and is a very talented photographer. She referenced Graham Brice, who is now a musician with a wife and kids in Brooklyn. I haven't kept in touch with all of them, but of those I do keep tabs on, they're all doing well and seem happy. That's gratifying too. Not that a silly part-time job they had a long time ago or my role as their supervisor had anything at all to do with it, but it confirms my instincts about them as individuals when I hired them. I think so, anyway.

Anyway, that was nicer than a piece of cake.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Whose side are really you on? And who's really on yours?

This incident happened here in Tampa last week:
"A lesbian couple leaving the Jimmie B. Keel Library on Monday night said they found a harassing note on their windshield..." (read more by clicking here) - ABC Action News (WFTS TV, Tampa)
A friend of mine, who is a lesbian, was understandably alarmed and posted the article above as well as the following comment to her Facebook wall:
"This happened here. What a complete coward and ignorant moron."
That's it. That is her comment on the situation in its entirety.
Here are the first two replies she received in response from friends...
"I'm a republican, but not all Republicans think that way. There are many very narrow-minded people out there, both Republicans and Democrats... John Q Republican [alluding to the anonymous signature on the note mentioned in the story - CB] is a ball-less human being."
"Horrible, but do not lump us Republicans in together. These are just people with limited ability to be compassionate and tolerant. Unfortunately, I see this kind of behavior on both sides of the aisle."
That's funny. Nobody said anything about Republicans. Anybody else find it an unnecessarily defensive reaction from these two people to defend the Republican Party, in spite of the fact that there are no references to any political party (other than the faux "signature" on the note mentioned in the story), critical or otherwise, in the story or my friend's re-posting of it?

More troubling, to me is that they felt the need to do that first, instead of acknowledging that their friend has a legitimate reason to be pissed off/worried/disappointed etc. about the incident itself. Rather than offer comfort and support to a friend who has expressed apprehension about a pretty clearly expressed threat, they chose to stand up on behalf of their party affiliation. The only reasonable explanation I can come up with for feeling the need to do that is a guilty conscience. I wonder if they believe that their 'side' would have their back if they were threatened, to a greater extent than an actual friend (without the quotes). If so, I pity them. For one reason, they're sadly mistaken and there's no way to learn that than the hard way. Second, obviously they have no real friends.

Regardless, making something not about you by making it about you (or some group with whom you choose to align) isn't showing compassion or tolerance. It's preemptively covering your ass because you're more worried about getting some stink on you than you are about the legitimate concerns of somebody you label a 'friend'. And if that's you, you're at least as much of a coward as the piece of shit leaving anonymous hate notes.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Memories: Not what they used to be

We're all getting older. All of us! Even the young folks. Each and every one of us is older now than when we started reading this. Naturally, our memory is rapidly going to seed. There's proof that this is happening to us on a mass scale. There are people who sincerely believe they saw a movie titled "Shazaam" starring Sinbad as a genie that doesn't exist. I mean the movie doesn't exist. Sinbad does, although he is not a genie. But "Shazaam" never happened, in spite of people's convictions that it totally did. Just last week, White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway cited a massacre in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that also never happened.
This does not qualify
Some might refer to this phenomenon as "misremembering". Or perhaps "not knowing what the hell you're talking about" or "lying". Regardless, it tends to happen a lot. Just look at this list of famous movie quotes that you've been getting wrong all this time...

The Empire Strikes Back
You remember: “Luke, I am your father.” 

But the actual quote is: “Luke, it is I who is the person that am your father."

Apollo 13
You remember: “Houston, we have a problem”
But the actual quote is: “Oh shit, Houston!”

Dirty Harry
You remember: “Do you feel lucky, punk?”
But the actual quote is: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Because if not, there's really no point in buying a lottery ticket, punk.”

The Graduate
You remember: “Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?”
But the actual quote is: “Mrs. Robinson, you’re the subject of a well-known Simon and Garfunkel song. Aren’t you?”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
You remember: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall - who is the fairest of them all?”
But the actual quote is: “Magic mirror, on the wall, the reflection of light off a smooth service is a simple scientific principle and not so 'magic' after all. Punk.”

She Done Him Wrong (with Mae West)
You remember: “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”
But the actual quote is: “Why don’t you comply with the restraining order and stay at least 500 feet from me, punk?”

Casablanca
You remember: “Play it again, Sam.”
But the actual quote is: “Play 'Free Bird', Sam. Wooo!”

Jaws
You remember: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!”
But the actual quote is: “We should be in a helicopter with automatic weapons. Being out here in a boat is just stupid.”

Field Of Dreams
You remember: “If you build it, they will come.”
But the actual quote is: “If you build it, you will have a full-sized baseball diamond in your yard. Pretty sweet!”

All About Eve
You remember: “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
But the actual quote is: “Fasten your seat belts, it’s the law.”

The Wizard of Oz
You remember: “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.
But the actual quote is: “Toto, thank God we’re not in Kansas anymore!”

Gone With The Wind
You remember: “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.”
But the actual quote is: “Frankly, punk, I don’t give a damn.”

Silence of the Lambs
You remember: “Hello, Clarice”


But the actual quote is: “Well, howdy-do, Clarice!”

Mommie Dearest
You remember: “No more wire hangers, EVER!”
But the actual quote is: “No starch! No starch EVER!”

Planet of the Apes
You remember: “Get your stinkin’ paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”
But the actual quote is: “Take your stinkin’ dirty damn paws off me, you damn stinkin' dirty ape!”

…And Justice For All
You remember: “I’m out of order? You’re out of order! This whole courtroom’s out of order!”

But the actual quote is: “Your mama out of order! Oooooohh!! (dabs and blasts air horn)”

Sunset Blvd.
You remember: “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”
But the actual quote is: “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my selfie, punk.”

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The choices we make define who we are

The other day, on his morning commute, a co-worker struck and killed a seagull with his car.
"It was just standing in the road and didn't move! If I had swerved, I'd have hit some guy riding his bike! It was awful."
You read that right; he had a chance to hit a bicyclist with his car, and he chose to kill a bird instead!
"B-but why didn't the bird move? I don't understand why he didn't just fly away."
Maybe he was busy. Maybe he was eating some french fries. It's none of your damn business. None of that matters. You killed him to spare a bicyclist.
"I had no choice! A bird or a human being!"
A bicyclist. A worthless, dime-a-dozen, zero-contributing-to-life bicyclist. Travels around in packs, annoying people at the beach bicyclist. A begging for food at picnics, constantly squawking, pooping all over the place bicyclist.
"You don't know that. What if he was a good person? What if he was a doctor?"
If he was a doctor, why wasn't he in an operating room, saving someone's life?
"Maybe it was his day off."
It wasn't the seagull's day off. He was clocked in, doing his job: being a seagull.
"Yeah...but..."
Let me ask you a question; was he dressed like this?
"Yeah, he was. So?"
Jesus, man.
"That's what bicyclists wear!"
Why?!? What's the point? Optimal work out performance results? Rocky Balboa won the world heavyweight boxing championship by working out in this ensemble...
You can't argue with history.
I just hope this doesn't blow back on you some day.
"How would it 'blow back' on me?"
What if some day, you find yourself stranded alone on a desert island, starving to death? Who is more likely to find you, recognize your plight, fly back to the mainland, pick up some french fries, fly back and drop them in your mouth? A bicyclist or a seagull? Keep in mind, the seagull can do all of this without squishing up his private parts and cramming them into a spandex romper, strapping on his helmet and filling up his $85 titanium water bottle with a charcoal filter.

"Does a seagull even have private parts to squish up?"
Maybe the seagull is a female! Ever consider that possibility? Sexist!
"I don't believe a seagull would ever do something like that for another living creature. They're gluttonous scavengers, motivated entirely by keeping themselves fed."
Yeah, well, at least they aren't bicyclists!!