Hey! It's May First and I still don't have a job! D'oh! Oh well... Today's rant isn't about anything in particular, it's just a running commentary about what's on my mind as of right now.
First off, I'd like to thank my wonderful wife Lori once again for everything that she's done and is. Without her, there would be no me.
Next up, I'm happy. No, scratch that. I'm really happy. Lori bought me a book last night. Not just any book. It's the book adapatation of a movie that's coming up. Not just any movie. And not by just any author.
The movie is Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
The book is written by R. A. Salvatore.
So in summary I have a brand new book by my favorite author in my favorite sci-fi universe. How could I not be happy about this? I haven't been this happy about a book since... well, ok, since Salvatore's last book. But I eagerly wait years to read anything he writes. To this day, one of my most proud moments was meeting him at the San Diego Comic-Con in 1997. While I don't pretend that there's even a slight chance that he'll see my pages, this note, and/or even remember me, I want to send him my greetings once more, and my thanks for all the entertainment and joy his books have provided me. In addition, I want to thank him for all the influence he's had on my own writing, whether it gets published or not.
I'd also like to extend similar greetings and thanks out to George Lucas. Few have been the times that I have wanted to live any place else than the United States, and earth in general. But with each new story in the Star Wars universe that I experience, I want more and more to live in that fantasy world. It's a great tale that you began, Mr. Lucas, and I pray that you and others will continue to tell it for many years to come. More over, I hope that you allow someone to pick up the reigns and make movies of some of the events after Return of the Jedi. In particular, the Heir to the Empire/Dark Fleet trilogy by Timothy Zahn, or the New Jedi Order series by many authors, including Mr. Salvatore.
Next up, I'll shift over to music. (I think my giddiness about Star Wars has taken enough of this page for the moment.)
This goes out to Eminem, also known as Marshall Mathers or Slim Shady. This is neither a condemnation, a review, nor blind worship of the guy. This goes out as a message of concern and appreciation.
Coming up on thirty years ago, I was born in Detroit, Michigan. Yes, I am a true Detroiter. I wasn't born in the suburbs. I didn't relocate there. I was raised in the city, and frankly I love the place, even though I'm now two thousand miles away. I want to be buried there. While the only relevance this has to Eminem is that he also touts Detroit as his city, I just wanted to emphasize that I appreciate his music simply because he does indeed seem to know a lot about Detroit and the way things work there.
I don't doubt he's from Detroit, or at least the Detroit area, in the least. I think it's funny, cool, great, whatever, that he mentions so much about the place in his songs.
You might be thinking that I'm getting to a "but", but (damn) I'm not. Other than the Detroit connection, I like Eminem's music because it appeals to me. I like the beats, I like many of the words, though I don't always agree with the subject. The thing is, what most people don't seem to understand is that he's applying a ton of psychology through his songs and into people's heads.
Is he a "gangsta"? I seriously doubt it, especially because he's making fun of the lifestyle in his songs. He is making fun of all the rappers and musicians out there that claim to be "gangstas", and only really seems to glorify violence as a means to sell records, attract attention, and generally fit in with the current genre of hip hop music. He said it best in "The Real Slim Shady": "Will Smith doesn't have to cuss to sell records, but I do". Certain musical artists simply can't sell records based on their gifts, so they have to step up their performances by being controversial. Madonna did it for years by wearing lingerie in videos and on stage. How's this any different? You should sit back and ask youself if you would buy any record without some reference to drugs, violence, or sex. If not, you need to look in the mirror and reevaluate yourself. Would I buy Eminem album without those? Hell yes. The guy has skills. Someone high up in the music industry, who does not directly profit from Eminem, should thank Dr. Dre for bringing him to light.
"Eminem is a homo-phobic son of a..." This is a little more tough to deal with. I'm not going to defend the gay-bashing in his songs. I'm not homo-phobic myself, but I can hardly believe that he'd urge violence against homosexuals any more than anyone else in this country. Some of the worst homophobic comments come out of the politicians we put in office, rather than from the people we give our entertainment dollars to. Still Eminem, if you're listening out there be careful. Too many musicians have died in recent years because of bullshit like this. Not necessarily over sexual orientation, but from comments aimed at particular people or groups that were just plain unnecessary and cruel. The world still misses Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G., I don't want to have to say in ten years "Yeah, Eminem had a lot of great songs, but he's dead because he was stupid."
Finally, on the Eminem thing, I have to say that I like his music because it pisses people off. One of my good friends, Dennis Finley, once said that he liked songs that piss people off. In this case, he was referring to Public Enemy, but the comment is just as applicable to Eminem. I'm beginning to learn that change, particularly for the better, doesn't come about unless people get pissed off. It takes an act of evil or hatred to unify us for the common good. (I needn't, though I am, reference the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, to emphasize my point.) This isn't the way it should be. We should be working together to overcome society's ills, instead of making it necessary to push the right buttons to make people upset about something.
Eminem has succeeded, at the very least, in arousing the FCC's ire. Why is this important? See Amendment I on this page: http://www.nara.gov/exhall/charters/billrights/billrights.html This little bit of information comes from the United States' National Archives and Records Administration's copy of the "Bill of Rights", which in turn is a part of the United States Constitution. Congress may not have done it directly, but the Federal Communications Commission routinely censors our daily lives. Aside from [paid] subscription based cable (and, for this purpose, satellite) television, the internet, and relatively small run newspapers or newsletters, what we hear on the radio, see on television, and possibly even read in newspapers or watch on movie screens is carefully censored "for our protection" by the government. Even our video games are being censored now, and must carry ratings. While I agree that this is somewhat necessary, I don't agree that the government must do this.
Upon turning eighteen we are given almost the full measure of our rights. Note that I did say "given", and I did say "almost." Among the few that we are not given, is the responsibility to govern directly what we and our children are exposed to. Yes, there is a modicrum of control, such as changing a channel or station to avoid what we don't want to hear. But what about the things we never learn or experience because the government says that it's too inappropriate for television or radio? How does the government know that I'm offended by Eminem's lyrics when the government doesn't ask me? Why does the FCC impose bans based on the comments and suggestions (some would say demands) of some people when some others either don't mind/care or don't even know? Why take something out of the "media" because group A doesn't think it's right? Why doesn't group A just change the channel?
What I'm saying is that it's our responsibility to choose what we listen to. If we don't like it, we can change the channel. The government shouldn't have any say in that. The record companies, movie and television studios and networks should all be allowed to broadcast whatever the hell they want to broadcast, AS LONG AS THEY NOTIFY THE VIEWER/LISTENER OF ANY CONTENT THAT MIGHT BE UNSETTLING, DISCOMFORTING, OR CONTROVERSIAL. This is supposed to be the land of the free. Let's get back to that.
Well, that's enough political discussion for the moment, maybe I'll get back on this subject later. Like when I finally get around to setting up my "Rodgers for President 2008" page [again].
To summarize: give me a job; R. A. Salvatore, George Lucas, and Eminem all rock; my wife is the greatest; Dennis is a pretty cool guy at times; Go Wings, Lions, and Tigers!!!; and government can be bad. M'okay.