Friday, April 20, 2007

Let's go, Hokies

I feel like I have no business commenting on the Virginia Tech tragedy. Not that that stops me. I'm not affected, I know none of the victims personally. It's a horrific event, to be sure--I am moved and appalled...but who gives a damn what Random Mid-Thirties Blogger thinks about it? My thoughts bring nothing new to the table, but I'll launch them into the cyberfray anyhow:

1. The media are vultures (and shame on you, Slate, for choosing as a cover image the photo of nutbar Cho aiming a pistol directly in my face, thanks a lot).

2. Gun culture in the U.S. is entirely out of control. Conservative pundits' assertions that the victims were cowards for fleeing, and that they should have all been armed to drop their assailant in a wild-West shootout, physically sicken me.

3. It doesn't have dick to do with video games, seriously. Tell it to Charles Whitman.

4. It also doesn't have to do with crappy creative writing. If I had a spree killer to associate with every grotesque, gross-out, shoddily written story I've endured in various workshops and slushpiles...well, I'd be dead. Gory fiction is not a direct indicator of mental health, or Quentin Tarrantino would obviously be property of the nut factory.

Cho was obviously deeply disturbed, and the university did the best it could to get him help. Ultimately, they failed each other. Numerous faculty tried, Cho resisted...and he was 23 years old, a grown man. A sick, deranged man who was solely responsible for his own terrible actions, in the end.

Anyway. Salon covers the creative writing angle very well here; Erin also has a good roundup from teachers and writers. (I see she's added the Salon article too, so we can create a Mobius strip of linkery.)

Meanwhile, over the last few days I've had a few conversations with colleagues, openly wondering if such a thing could ever happen here, at NerdCo...and, honestly, why it hasn't happened yet. It's a huge company in a deliberately collegiate "campus" setting, and chock-full of smart, creative, obsessive, borderline-Aspbergers-type people. Actually there's a strong enough Ren-faire contingent that I would less surprised, I guess, if someone ran amok in here with a broadsword.

On the back of each office door hangs NerdCo's little tablet of emergency response guidelines. A couple of us dug into that, this week. Instructions are provided for medical emergencies and creepy mail, hazmat spills, fire, and both severe snowstorms (sadly, "do not drive like an asshole" is not listed) and "volcanic eruption"--a nice feature of our particular location on the Pacific Rim. (The floor is made of LAAAAVAAA!)

The first recommended response to workplace violence included locking your office door. Interesting, because unless you are a super big deal in the management structure, these doors have no locks. Also a large floor-to-ceiling window next to each door, facing the hallway. Hmm.

I contemplated jumping from my second-story window, leaping for the spindly tree outside. The trees that border my building are notorious for whipping savagely about in the least breeze; it occurred to me that, should I launch myself into the tree, it would no doubt bend dramatically and then slingshot me back into the room, directly into the path of the hypothetical crazed gunman.

Okay, I don't have a point. Unless it's that random violence is, in fact, random. In the fraction of a second I might have to make a decision, if my life were at stake...well, there aren't really any good decisions to choose from. The advantage, sadly, is with the homicidal maniac, for whom it is far far too easy to get all the guns he pleases.

Oh no, guns don't kill people...people kill people. Frequently, deranged fucking lunatics WITH GUNS.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I get no kick from cremains

Oh, Slate's Explainer column. I do enjoy learning about things I never wondered before, but will lie awake fretting over for many nights hence (yes, still haunted by the "how to pop out your eyeball" episode).

This week's column addresses the rumor that Keith Richards purportedly snorted a combo of cocaine and his late father's ashes, and speculates on whether that might be bad for him. Let's find out!

Only if he made a habit of it. There are diseases and conditions that can occur from getting small particles in your lungs, but they develop after repeated exposure—for instance, coal miner's lung occurs after years of breathing in coal dust. Experts say Richards should be more concerned about the health effects of the cocaine, his cigarette smoking, and past drug use.

The column goes on for another four paragraphs, further detailing other health woes that might befall Mr. Richards under the circumstances: traces of embalming fluid, the risk of mercury poisoning from any of Pop's dental work, etc. It's exhaustive and very sincere, which delights me no end...because who are we discussing here, again? That's right, KEITH FUCKING RICHARDS. The "concern for health effects" ship HAS SAILED, my friends, likely well before I was born. LOOK AT THE MAN! Inhaling his dead dad, taking a header from a coconut tree: all in a day's work for ol' Keith, I'm thinking. He should team up with the indestructible cheerleader from Heroes, maybe.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

In two weeks you'd have a diamond

A series of observations upon witnessing Ferris Bueller's Day Off on cable, over the weekend:

1) My God, everyone is so, so, so, so YOUNG.

2) After careful consideration, I must reaffirm that kind of a dick. He bullies and nags his friends into playing along with his schemes! He scampers off unpunished, leaving literal chaos and destruction in his wake! That's no kind of friend, man, seriously. I still would much prefer Cameron as my mopey, no-doubt devoted boyfriend, because PRETTY and because of this exchange:

"What are you interested in?"


3) Provided, of course, that Cameron's father didn't simply KILL HIM OUTRIGHT, later that afternoon. Twenty-one years later, and I'm still a little bit genuinely afraid for him, fictional character or no. I know collector-car people, and they are batshit crazy.

4) Even so, the "Twist and Shout" parade sequence is one of my favorite movie moments ever, period. What I wouldn't give, to have been there dancing for however long it took.

5) Ben Stein. Same schtick, two decades of steady employment. Who saw that coming?

6) Must get on iTunes and acquire some Sigue Sigue Sputnik immediately.