Surly Snobby

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Coffee Talk

Although I am not a morning person – have I mentioned that once or twice? – it’s still my favourite time of day. I like the relative quiet, relative in that I live on a somewhat busy street and it gets much less quiet as the day progresses rumble rumble screech rumble, and I like the feeling of slowly easing myself into the day.

Along with cat attacks and The Shower of Agony and Lava (which lately has been The Antarctic Shower of Blizzards and Sleet for some inexplicable reason), one of my jarring morning rituals is the regular torture session of news reading. This is where I’m punted from dopily contented coffee drinker into melancholy Earthling. All these cruddy newspaper editors want us to know about is the horrific events of the world, from abuse in a certain Middle-Eastern prison, to rocket attacks in Gaza, to the murder of pregnant Israelis and their children, to why a certain formerly voluptuous American starlet who is famous simply because she married an old, rich, now-dead gentleman is feuding with a very obnoxious American radio host.

As I meander into my day I am treated to graphic pictures and descriptions, which, in the case of that prison, I had to see to believe and now I never need to see again. But had I truly wanted to know how long it took for that young American’s head to be hacked off or what noises he was making during the process, I would have found the video on the net. It wouldn’t have been too hard. I will never understand why we think these kinds of details are news. A human being was butchered horrifically. This is no Tarantino movie.

So I usually rush through the news as rapidly as possible and dive into the Comment section. I am fascinated by people think of the news they’ve just learned. The Letters to the Editor is my favourite section (not just because I’ve had three published in the past six months). In this mystical realm, the outrage over a misused hyphen or American spelling grows to the same proportions as that over my southern neighbour’s government’s foreign policy. On this plane of reality, the comments of some irritating hockey commentator with bad fashion sense are as weighty as those of the American Defence Secretary trying to justify a reason why he still has a job. I suppose this is why people like the formerly voluptuous starlet become famous: people don’t want to know what really happens in the world. Instead they want a background upon which to superimpose their fatigue and frustration. It’s like religion. It gives us a feeling of belonging and of purpose, no matter how unrealistic the basis.

Today there were two editorials I quite enjoyed. The first, in true Classics professor style, tries to find meaning in the events in that Middle-Eastern prison by relating it to The Iliad. It’s a dead school of thought, but he makes some interesting points. Plus he talks about Brad Pitt’s butt (There. That should temporarily increase my readership) so how can you go wrong?

The second was on yesterday’s ruling in Massachusetts that initiates that state’s joining with Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec as North America’s first major constituencies to extend marriage to same-sex couples – and the first in the US – on Monday. It also explains, yet again, why civil union is a barely tolerable option. Anyone who has thoughts and opinions on this matter might get something from this.

Such an enigma the US is. It has some of the most progressive societal attitudes in the world – those of us, in the West at least, who scoff at out American cousins would not be we are right now had American students not gone on their collective acid trip in the 60s in reaction to another ill-conceived foreign invasion – yet it has some of the most repressive attitudes (masquerading as patriotism) towards self-expression, especially these days. But don’t get me started on their government’s foreign policy (NB – their government’s foreign policy, not their foreign policy)…

Two hundred and fifty thousand years ago when I was deeply entrenched in my adolescent closet, such an editorial in the paper would have been unthinkable. And here I am, sipping coffee in North America’s first major constituency to extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples. Reading the news isn’t all bad.

Postscript

(Thanks for reading this far) As I write I am grooving to Metric (who have finally updated their site) and to my latest discovery, controller.contoller. Toronto has some great music! I’m not taking that job in Montreal.



Haphazardly thrown together by Surly
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