That’s the longest phrase I’ve ever been able to make with those triple-letter acronyms. I never use them in real life. I’ve never given in to emoticons, either, which has caused a number of misunderstandings over the years when I’ve sent sarcastic texts that weren’t backed up with a wink or a smile. Fuck it, I’d rather take the flack. I just can’t do them. They are too twee, too saccharine, too Disney. I don’t mind a few Xs after a message to my female friends, but no smiles or winks. The only emoticon I would conceivably use is the one for ‘fuck you,’ which according to the humoristic Encyclopedia Drammatica is something I don’t even know how to make with symbols from my keyboard, much less with my Blackberry. Either it’s not too popular, or the sugar plum fairies who invented emoticons just don’t want you to send such filthy symbols.
The phone call is dying, according to a piece in the Times over the weekend. Awwww. As you can no doubt tell from this blog, I like to talk. I am loquacious to the point of logorrhea. I shall miss the phone, but I realize I already do. Gone are the days when I could spend literally hours gassing about anything on the phone with a friend, watching TV on the phone with a friend, nodding off on the phone with a friend. And I don’t just mean when I was a neurotic teenager trying to work out this terror-ific thing called life. Well into my twenties I could churn out some seriously meaningless verbiage down the horn.
Then circa thirty it all just seemed to stop. When cell phones first came in, we used them sparingly; the minutes were so expensive. Those were walkie-talkie conversations with the normal phone niceties tacked onto the front and at the end. But even now in the cheaper world of unlimited friends and family rollover nighttime prime-time minutes, I’ve had to lower my plan to a basic amount a month because I’m just not using the phone, and those minutes are usually consumed by what few business calls I make. And if I think about it, it’s mostly hold time with some customer service demon or other.
This is great news for writing. Not so much for writers because now everyone is scribbling, which has lowered our rates to even more unreasonable levels for things like internet content. I was all excited about signing up as a writer for InteractMedia, an online agency that pairs you up with companies needing content, until I discovered they were paying .85 cents a word, i.e., less than a penny. Not only that, but you have to bid on the job. I mean, I could go out with an empty coffee cup and stand with my schizos outside the 7-Eleven on the corner and rake in more than that during the time it would take me to write the copy for some malpractice shyster’s website.
People lament the butchering of the written word by text messaging, but like everything in life, language evolves, nothing to do about it. It was not, as the creationists believe, handed to us fully formed by William Shakespeare. Writing changes with the times, revel in it or perish. I personally won’t use the triple-letter acronyms, nor emoticons, and I probably won’t date you if you do, which tells you something about the sorry state of that scenario for me right now, but by all means go ahead. As long as the written word is back in power in some form, things are looking up for me.
Seriously, if a guy writes “LOL” in a text, or puts a smiley face, I will cancel the date or bow out of it somehow. This is very limiting because, well, the bottom bitches love their smiley faces, it seems. But I would rather take holy orders and wear a chastity belt than be with a man who thinks like a teenaged girl.
I thought I had it down with this blog. I would lead with an entertainment piece, then slip something in about me-me-me, then finish with a political mash-up of some kind. Regrettably, the entertainment news mill is rather dry today. As my mother used to say while tossing aside the New York Times, “Nothing ever happens on a Monday. Such a waste of paper.”
It seems the major entertainment news today — provided you don’t count Kevin Costner’s attachment to the next Superman movie (snore) — is news negation: Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch says that James Franco wasn’t high during the Academy Award ceremony this year, as rumored. He knows, he asked him. Vilanch also slid in a telling remark to New York, in which he said that Franco was not only under-rehearsed but “he had a bunch of people writing for him.” This is Vilanch fobbing off responsibility for one of the main problems with the ceremony, which was the shitty, musty writing. Bet he won’t be doing it next year. Or should that be: Bette, he won’t be doing it next year!
Yuck, yuck. Very slow news day.
I can’t tell if Franco is gay or not. At first I thought, of course he is. He’s in drag half the time, he runs with some serious Gheys, his art and films are flagrantly homoerotic. But our new style correspondent Tuttle says not, that he’s just playing the gay card for shock value. So maybe Franco’s Twitter response to Vilanch, complete with Photoshopped image (that must have taken some time and thought) written in pink, “James fucked up the Oscars. Trust me, I know comedy. I mean, come on, I write for Bette Midler!” isn’t really a bitchy queen retort. It’s just the usual flame-out all straight guys have once a month, you know, their men-struation.
While the battle to push back time and try to reclaim precious lost territory in Libya continues, events seem to be moving swiftly and peacefully towards constitutional reform and elections in Egypt. What a difference in scenarios. Here are two countries that share the same terrain, a border, the same language, religion, the works. Both ruled by dictators. Egypt’s revolution was a paean to Gandhian non-violence, the most moving event since the fall of the Berlin Wall, while Libya’s is a turgid, hellish mess with no end in sight.
It reminds me of when I used to do the Los Angeles to Tijuana run to cop prescription meds, back when I was popping more painkillers and Xanax than Limbaugh (only to take the edge of everything else I was doing). I would often stop off for a nooner with some hunny or other I was semi-seeing in San Diego, and was always struck by what an incredibly pleasant place that is to live. Then you drive a few miles south and cross that Border of Despair, and POOF! there you are in some William Burrough’s hallucination of a badlands, anarchic shithole with this massive, hubristic Mexican flag waving over it. “Bienvenido al infierno, amigo!”
Same terrain, same stretch of coastline. Driving over from San Diego to Tijuana is like being hurled through the looking glass into a dystopian vision of Southern California.
It would be great if the other Arab nations followed Egypt’s lead, but it doesn’t look like their governments will let that happen. If only there weren’t so much money involved. This is like watching the relatives of a deranged, moribund tycoon moving in for a division of the spoils, a slice of the power no matter what the cost. How will the family business be distributed, who will control the trust? Will the deserving minority shareholders take over, or will the dysfunctional family members, lifetime power junkies who will surely die without their fix, continue with their mismanagement and abuses?
A sidebar to the Libyan crisis is the surging refugee problem piling up on Italy’s shores. As my Cuban friend Ricardo said the other day, “Gaddafi is the Castro of North Africa.” At first I disagreed, but in many ways he’s right: they’re both demented dictators who won’t let go. How do we allow this to happen? How do the Cubans and the Libyans allow this to happen, is the real question. I am inclined to believe that Castro is a slightly lesser evil than Gaddafi. But the distance from Havana to Miami is actually ten miles longer than the journey from Tripoli to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, midway between Sicily and Libya, where there are now over four thousand refugees. Another hell on earth. Except, knowing the Italians, I’ll bet at least they have the good taste not to fly a super-king-sized flag over it.