Friday, March 23, 2007

Coming Soon--Angry Cat, in HD

NBC Universal and News Corp. announced yesterday that they are joining forces to create an Uber Mega Xtra Fancy online video network that will show full episodes from current NBC shows, clips, and even feature films.

"This is a game-changer for Internet video," Chernin said. "We'll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch. And for the first time, consumers will get what they want -- professionally produced video delivered on the sites where they live."

See, silly me, I thought that online video consumers were already getting what they want--jackasses falling off treadmills and Pug Bowling. But I guess what I really want is to watch network television on a teeny tiny screen with shitty sound. How could I not realize this! Thanks, NBC, for showing me the light!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Overheard in Our Car

Gianni: You know what? If you are a kid and you get too close to George Bush, he'll torture you.

Me: Really!

G: Yeah! Levon told me that George Bush tortures little kids.

Me: Who told Levon that?

G: His parents.

Anyone at the White House care to comment?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I'm Speechless.

In my continued effort to do as little as possible, I spent my Saturday afternoon tube-surfing while Gianni and Tea dumped approximately 10,000 Hot Wheels cars on the family room floor. Because there was nothing on, I flipped over to Bravo and caught an episode of something called The Real Housewives of Orange County.

Oh. My. God.

Has anyone else seen this show? It is freakin' terrifying. I need a long Silkwood shower after watching it. I can't even begin to describe it.

I really shouldn't describe it. Because I would just be mean.

Instead, read this blog entry. And this one. They really say it all.

I weep for our nation.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tony Blair's Creative Disorder

This guy puts kid art up on his walls. (According to Stephen Frears.)

I'm a little tired of this reality, so I checked out early yesterday and went to the movies. I saw The Queen. Short review: everyone is right, great great GREAT movie, go see it. I loved it.

All of the palace insider scenes were brilliant. But what I loved even more than seeing Lilibet giving her dogs walkies and slogging through a river trying to fix her Land Rover was Tony Blair's house.

Yes, that house, No. 10 Downing, or I guess No. 11 Downing in his case because that's the flat that's big enough for him to stow that big family. As an obvious contrast to the buttoned-up, no-tchotchke-out-of-place lifestyle of the royal family, Stephen Frears showed Blair and family living in what would politely be described as "creative disorder," and what might impolitely be described as a minor pigsty. Games and toys littering the floor and the shelves, breakfast dishes undone at the table, clutter on the countertops, you get the idea. If you've ever been to my place, you REALLY get the idea.

Blair has obviously had, ah, a spot of trouble since the time portrayed in the film. Let's just say that being Bush's Butt Boy does not agree with him. But watching the movie definitely gave me a nostalgic tug back to the whirlwind of his first year in office, and the first years of A Certain Other President on this side of the pond. Those were the days. Excuse me, I need to go weep for what has been lost again.

And if I may be sucked back into filmmaking fantasy again for a minute, despite Tony's own seeming departure from reality, I still feel that a PM who has the empty wine bottle from last night still on his kitchen counter in the morning can't be all bad. It gives me hope.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

This Whistle Sucks

We were at the Denver Museum of Science and History yesterday and there was an excellent Benjamin Franklin exhibit. I guess we always knew that Ben Franklin was a pretty versatile guy, accomplishing everything from American Independence to making dogs talk (okay, I made that up). But seeing it all laid out in front of us in one installation was pretty amazing. I want to retroactively party with old Ben.

And though the diplomatic wizardry, wacky gadgets, and turbo community-building were all fascinating, the thing that stuck with me the most out of the whole exhibit was a tiny presentation tucked away in the corner. In that corner, a mixed-media Ben, with a cute video and original documents, told the story of the Whistle. It's a story of stupidity, pride, and arrogance. In other words, it's my story.

The gist of it is: when Ben was a young boy, he got a little pocket money for his birthday. He went into town and saw a little boy playing with a whistle. He liked the whistle so much that he offered the kid all of his money for it. He took the whistle home and promptly began annoying his family with it (as it would be in the Polito family as well.) His brothers and sisters ganged up on him and told him a. to shut up, and b. that he was a dumbass because he paid four times as much as he should have for the stupid whistle.

On the surface, it seems like the story of a foolish kid and his whistle. But of course to Ben Franklin--statesman, postmaster, sexual deviant--it was much more. Ben likened "paying too much for a whistle" to giving too much for something that is not worth it, in all walks of life. A miser who lives in poverty so he can hoard his gold is paying too much for his whistle. A wife who lives a life of luxury yet is tormented by her cruel and rich husband is paying to much for her whistle (okay, it was the 1700s. There wasn't much talk about Gloria Steinem's whistle.)

Anyway, it made me think that we really need to look at our proverbial whistle and how much we are shelling out for it. In some ways we are extremely lucky. We own a home in San Francisco, in a terrific neighborhood. Rick has a job that he is good at that is pretty flexible. I have some freelance work. We have two beautiful kids, and we've done the school process here and not only survived, but done well. Life is good. It's a nice whistle, to be sure.

But. The price is high. We are outgrowing our nice little flat. We live on top of one family and squished between two others. Rick commutes up to two hours a day to go to work, more if he has a flat tire. I'm freelance, which means I'm on my own for better or worse, and getting work is like going on a job interview every week. Our son has sensory issues in a place where his senses are bombarded, constantly, 24-7. He is in Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Behavior Modification Therapy, sees a shrink, and he's still not perfect yet. Which wouldn't be a problem except that he's expected to be so he can keep up with the pressure. He's getting so many things fixed that we can't figure out what's not broken.

We don't know where our kids will go to school next year. Really. Our friends have all moved away and the ones that are left are too busy trying to keep their own heads afloat to keep in touch. I wake up every morning guarded, with a deep ache in my stomach, wondering how I'm going to get sucker-punched today. I go to bed every night and lay awake for hours, trying to do the equations over and over in my head, hoping that I can find a way for it to all work out.

Sure, we have the Gay Pride Parade, Golden Gate Park, streetcars, the Ferry Building, the Headlands, an amazing private school, and about nine zillion other things that the rest of the world does not. Yet, it's not doing us a damned bit of good if we're too tired, overworked, stressed, and sad to enjoy one bit of it. I've done more crying and less sleeping this year than at any point in my life. We've always been about the flow in our own lives, and if someone screws with us we just tell them to fuck off and keep going. But when there are kids involved, it all changes. Screw with my children at your peril, and mine. No whistle is worth that.

I love San Francisco. I assumed that we would be here forever, that our kids would truly be born and raised in this city. We have stuck it out longer than anyone we know. But with a little insight from my friend Mr. Franklin and a few last straws, I'm being forced to think. The price might be too high for this whistle. Financially, maybe. But definitely emotionally. We're paying and paying with our time, our energy, and our mental well-being and I for one am almost tapped out.

I dreamed about living here when I was a child growing up somewhere more boring, and it pains me to move my own kids to their own boring corner of the Earth and make San Francisco someplace for them to moon over, too. Or worse, Paradise Lost. But maybe a little space to roam and a little space to just be kids will be a paradise of its own. Hard to say. At any rate it might be time to let go of the dream and face reality.

It's a lot to think about. It's why I've been gone for three weeks. I've been thinking and thinking and trying to put it into words, and yesterday Ben Franklin did it for me. I might listen to him. The man invented swim fins, he must be on to something.