Buffalo Bulletin bloggers

The Bulletin staff sound off on local issues, pop culture, and everything else under the sun. Read posts by staffers and write comments of your own.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Golden Globes preview

At the end of the year Hollywood likes to take a second to congratulate them selves on all the formulaic and over budget films they managed to create, by hosting as many formulaic and overdone award shows as they can.

While these shows range from the very specific (read as dull) to the overly glamorized (read as the same Oscars you saw last year) they always provide a great base for water cooler gossip.
This seasons nominations for the Golden Globes have already come out and most all of their choices are terrible. I could hardly make it thought the ballot, without gagging at how strange some of the selections were.

I mean come on, tell me they didn’t put this summer’s wildly popular comedy “The Hangover” solely to look cutting edge and hopefully get a few younger viewers. The film is hilarious in parts and will find some cult status, but to consider it one of the top comedies of the year is ridiculous.
Further down the list you get not one but two nods for Sandra Bullock, one for the “Proposal” a film best known for being a complete rehash of every other romantic comedy and “The Blindside” which the studio is trying to pitch as “Remember the Titans.” While “Blindside” is getting some great reviews, it's hard for me to picture a scenario where a film that has Bullock mugging for laughs with Ryan Reynolds could be taken seriously.

This list does get some picks right, nominating the sleeper hit “The Hurt locker” for a number awards is spot on. And, Christoph Waltz’s turn as a Nazi SS leader in “Inglourious Basterds” was one of the best this summer.

Despite these short comings the show will undoubtedly be entertaining, as British comedian Ricky Gervais hosts this years version. Gervais, who made his name on both the UK's version of "The Office" and the Emmey award winning "Extras" which are both wildly popular despite being off air currently.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jarrard on PCP

J.R. Logan and G.R. Smith have been heard around the office marveling at the fact that there have been no outside comments so far on their Point/Counterpoint wise-assery. Allow me to counter-counter-pointificate.
The Boys of the Bull had me at “no-holds-bar.” I log on every week to see what these two living tributes to the Buffalo Bulletin’s proofreading system have to say, and also to feel grammatically superior. I use Count/Pointercount to suppress my inner haggard old bat that’s always whining about the pressure to keep up with these whippersnappers who have won the hearts of most they’ve encountered. Smugness washes over me as I read their work, basking in the youthful carelessness that creates such phrases as “so many woman,” “harry-backed stud,” and “the numbers has been elevated beyond two.”
But then my inner softie wept for the dignity of Mr. Logan as I listened to him apologize repeatedly for his butchering of a gentleman's name in an article.
These guys, however young, are in possession of brilliant minds and worldly insights. They’re a ton of fun to work with and I do believe they have only the best of intentions. That they remind me of my younger self is both endearing and disheartening.
Not only does Pount/Cointerpount provide a bouncy-house playpen for my inner conflict re working with this truly dynamic duo, it also offers a forum by which I may help them hasten their development into the kind of writers a person can feel good about taking seriously. By calling attention to all the stupid mistakes I know they’re smart enough to avoid if they’d just put down the crackpipe for a couple minutes, I am giving them the gift of tough love, and simultaneously, indulging my secret desire to make myself look good at their expense.
However, I must admit, even as I read my own extra-contextual quoting of their errors, all I can do is giggle and think, “Aw, just look at those darling little typos. Our boys are so precious.”
Anyway, I believe these two are immune to humiliation. Their superior brainwashing skills are matched only by their ability to laugh at themselves.
They’re better at that than I am, which brings me to my second gift. Now that I have engaged in point/counterproductivity, I am wide open to any barbs Logan and Smith have an urge to fling my way.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Right is right

Lou Dobbs rarely mentions Point/Counter Point but if he did he would say "Ladies and Gentleman we have ourselves a pristine example of true American intelligence. These boys are bright, driven and full of moxie. I would sacrifice my colon if it meant fostering the spirits of these two lads."
And of course we would accept the praise and inform Mr. Dobbs to check out this week's installment concerning right hand turns.

Due to an illness in the family, Bulletin Reporter Grant Smith was unable to contribute to this week’s point counter point argument, filling in for Mr. Smith is a precocious twelve-year old child with attention deficit disorder.

Leaves turn colors.
Cooks turn pancakes.
Robert Redford turns tricks as a charismatic crook in the 1940’s flick The Sting.
But Grant Smith only turns right.
Is it a symbol of his political leanings? No.
Is it a faulty steering column? No.
Is it an obsessive compulsive tendency? No.
The reason is that Grant Smith hates to wait.
Many a times there’s been comment from passengers,
“Dude, just chill out and take a left.”
What they don’t understand is it’s not a matter of being chill, Grant has been chillin’ like a villain since 1992 but he doesn’t want to sit idly by when he could be driving and seeing new sights.
Buffalo is an amazing town to view. The people are so quaint and all the main street establishments are gorgeous, it’s like a scene from a Laura Ingles Wilder book every time you venture out.
Why not take it all in?
It might take Grant twenty minutes to drive from the Bulletin Office to the YMCA but the sights seen make the journey really, really valuable.
Oh look, something shiny!

Life in the fast lane

Sinistraphobia- the irrational fear of turning left.

Man, over millions of years and through varies stages of development, has risen from the stinking swamps of primordial ooze and climbed head over foot to his rightful seat at the head of Mother Nature's dinner table.

He is a bipedal miracle of physiology, capable of great feats of strength and stamina. His physical prowess is further enhanced by his ability to design and create machines that defy the very laws of nature.

Yet there are those within the species who would spit in the face of our creator and refuse to enjoy the gifts with which we have been blessed. Of these ungrateful sods, the most boorish and despicable are those who refuse to make left hand turns while driving.

Is it impatience that leads to their dextral tendencies? Is it fear? Fear of having to judge traffic and make that instantaneous decision that sends their automobile hurtling into traffic, threading the needle between oncoming semi trucks and old ladies with bad eyesight? Is it hick ignorance born out of small town isolation and the luxury of a slow paced life that dulls the mind and the senses?

Probably the latter. But even hayseed hysterics can't explain the needless cowardice that some hillbillies display when confronted with the busy intersection at Bennett and Main. They panic, lose their nerve, and push that turn signal lever down, it's gearing worn from the abuse of thousands of such imbalanced behavior. It's sad.

These right-leaning losers will claim that there is no hurry. They'll preach the value of a journey well traveled and the joy of the simple life.

The reality behind their quaint musings is that they are scared. Scared of efficiency and scared of progress.

So while those who would stunt the evolutionary growth of the species are out spinning clockwise circles in traffic, I'll be making that oh-so-sexy left hand turn onto the freeway of the future.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Love the ONE you're with

No man is an island but neither is he a nation.
Thusly, the beloved sanctimony of marriage should be between two people and two people alone.
There’s no room for additional interests.
A case in point comes when a haggard J.R. Logan stumbles through the door after another high intensity day of covering breaking news stories in Johnson County.
“Honey, did you remember to pick up the dry cleaning?” a sweet dulcet chimes from the bedroom.
“Dry cleaning,” ponders Logan. “Golly-gee I just plumb forgot.”
“Baby, did you remember to get the cat from the vet?” a second, equally sweet voice beckons from the kitchen.
“We have a cat,” muses befuddled J.R.
“Sugar-bomb, did you send those thank-you cards to our dear drag-queen uncle Mildred in Jackson Hole?” the third question comes from the entry-way to the two car garage slightly muffled by the sound of an orbital sander.
Yes, that’s right, this would be a nightly occurrence if Logan elected to live the life of a polygamist.
Can you imagine?
Neither could he, his argument is based on fantastical imaginings of multiple limbs and long lived love affairs but it’s not how reality runs.
Unicorns and talking Koalas with a great alacrity for hugs and snuggling are more likely.
It’s difficult to provide the sufficient love and support that is necessary to water the sprouting bulb of any nascent or long lived marriage i.e. running the errands, offering that strong shoulder for support when a tear needs to be shed, or searching for coins under the sofa in order to provide that precious gem of your heart the ample funds necessary to purchase some Zima.
It would prove downright impossible to attempt to adequately furnish this same support to multiple wives.
Considering our nation's high divorce rate, I think concentration needs to be focused on maintaining the ever-brittle sinews and tendons of a sole relationship between two people, not looking for avenues to multiply, and subsequently increase the difficulty, of that said equation.
Now maybe everything is going smooth between the two legally conjugating couple.
It would be at this point Mr. Logan would ask, “Can I have seconds? “
No you can’t have seconds because it’s just like ice-cream, once you have your first serving, greedy grabbing will be less pleasurable and undoubtedly cause a cold headache.
If you like variety in your life, then don’t look for commitment.
It’s called being a playa.
Polygamists are not playa’s because they try to incorporate an aspect of fostering anddedication that is impossible once the numbers has been elevated beyond two.
To borrow the time honored phrase from Rocker Stephen Stills, “Love the one you’re with.”
Not two or three but one.
And who can argue with Stephen Stills?

It takes a village (or) the more the merrier

Let's face it. Any nitwit with half a brain and no spine can get hitched. Look around you. Even the most unbearable mutants obnoxiously stumbling their way through life manage to trick some member of the opposite sex (or in states like Hawaii, Bubba and Bubba or Jane or Jane) to spend the rest of their meaningless lives with him or her.

Certainly, there are instances where two attractive, interesting, capable people find one another out of this sea of degenerates and manage to give hope to the human gene pool by procreating through that oh-so-holy union of marriage. I'm not so cynical as to discount these infrequent exceptions. I'm just not convinced they happen often enough.

It is because of these exceptions that the act of polygamy should not only be sanctioned, it should be demanded. Clearly, we can't have the humpbacked nincompoops spreading their seed across God's creation, tarnishing the well for everyone. But because it would be considered "cruel" or "immoral" to sterilize these dim brutes, it is up to the rest of us to overwhelm the numbers in our favor.

Unfortunately, heretofore in the United States this has not been the case.

Thousands of years ago, in that dry litter box of a region known colloquially as the Middle East, enlightened royalty were well aware of this fact. A ruler's duty and obligation to the well-being of his country and family was to gather a well-proportioned, diverse harem worthy of bearing the fruits of his divine loins so as to create a super crop of beautiful, refined offspring.

Yet due to the egalitarian and downright illogical prudishness of European religion, we Americans have inherited a society in which the only people bright enough to realize that "more is more" are the uber-prudish Mormon extremists. These guys won't drink a Coca-cola but they will marry half their kids just to make more kids. In the end it all comes down to numbers.

Modern arguments around polygamy usually revolve around three themes:
1. True love can only exist between two people and adding a third, fourth or fifth wheel cheapens a genuine relationship.
2. It is immoral for a man to demand the services of so many woman, to whom he cannot possibly devote adequate attention and
3. Who in the hell would want several wives when only one wife can be a complete pain in the ass.

Essentially, my rebuff to all three claims is one and the same. For a man, a real man, to be able to satisfy the needs of more than one woman is obviously a prerequisite for the kind of people who should be participating in this project. I don't advise any limp wristed sissies who can't cowboy up to the task of doing the rounds to take on the project. You're the kind of person we're trying to weed out in the first place. If you do your job right, your ladies should be more than happy. What's more, they'll probably be happy not to have you around farting and leaving your dirty underwear on the doorknob to the bathroom all the time.
Secondly, polygamy is not a habit exclusive to fellas. If there's a lady out there willing to take on the task of more than one harry-backed testosterone-pumped stud, be my guest. I only ask that you be choosy in your mate selection. We don't need another Screech or Barbara Streisand ruining things for the rest of us.

Point/Counter Point Vol. II

We return this week with another provocative installment of Point/Counterpoint, the open debate forum in which any number of topics are put up for discussion between polarized Bulletin reporters Logan and Smith.
Dubbed the "most awesome display of raw energy and engaging rhetoric in Johnson County," Point Counterpoint has quickly become the WWF cage match of intellectual grappling.
This week Point/Counterpoint takes on the contentious issue of polygamy- posing the question "Is less really more?"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Point, counter point: What defines a single living organism?

Point, counter point: What defines a single living organism?
The burner has been turned to high on this weeks ever captivating, always stimulating never ending, debating series that pits normally amiable Buffalo Bulletin reporters against each other in a no-holds-barred intellectual death match.
Remember to weigh in with your own perspective and your vote for the argument of triumph.

It’s an easy answer: genetics.
If an organism consists of all the same genetic make-up, then, by nature, it is one single living organism.
The difference in genes is what differentiates one living organism from another.
Genetic make-up develops unique characteristics e.g. a duck bill is caused by a certain genetic make-up specific to ducks where as the luscious, supple lips of Farrah Fawcett are caused by another set of genes specific to stunning women with great lips.
This is why I think of the beautiful actor as one living organism and the dirty city-pond animal as another — their personalized characteristics set them apart and those characteristics are caused by genetics.
My opponent will argue that it is space that makes a single living organism.
“If that organism is all connected then it can be considered as ‘one’,” he will say.
Foolishly leveling that an aspen grove in Utah possessing a single root structure is ‘one’ giant living organism despite the fact that some of the trees possess different genetic make-up.
What folly.
If this case were to hold any water, you could consider a blood-sucking leech that had attached itself to your underarm after an afternoon skinning dipping as the same organism as yourself.
But you wouldn’t because you have a mind and you think things through rationally.
The fact is that genetics are responsible for developing the body, and the space it takes up, that’s why some of us are short, some tall, some ugly and some, like myself, mirror images of famous 1940 movie stars.
Those features are what distinguish organisms and those features are the results of genes.
The problem arises when we discuss clones.
Is the clone of an organism the same organism?
That’s the value of having a clone.
Why would you want a copy of your late Grandpa Earl if it couldn’t be considered the same organism?
You could go pick up the closest looking man and that would qualify as having your grandpa back.
The value of cloning comes from having the same organism as what existed before. A clone is the same organism from whence it came.
Genetics distinguish a single living entity from another and they define what we consider ‘one living organism’.

Organism? One body, one mind one soul

Point, counter point: What defines a single living organism? The burner has been turned to high on this weeks ever captivating, always stimulating never ending, debating series that pits normally amiable Buffalo Bulletin reports against each other in a no-holds-bar intellectual death match. Remember to weigh in with your perspective and your vote for the argument of

I'm afraid Mr. Smith is fighting an uphill battle from the get go with this week's Point/Counterpoint. An organism, by anyone's standards, is by definition a SINGLE entity, one that functions as a SINGLE system that utilizes energy and is capable of metabolic functions.

Take our friend Mr. Smith. By powers unbeknownst to me, Mr. Smith is able to survive off of a simple diet of cigarettes, Ramen noodles and Maker's Mark. He separates the three into meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner respectively) and by some metabolic miracle, his self-contained and self-sufficient body is able to produce the energy he needs to slump and sidle his way from place to place.

Upon closer review, we find that Mr. Grant's case is not so surprising. In the kingdom of what we call "living organisms," there exist many species that use chemical substances that, though extremely poisonous to other species, suit the organic needs of that creature. It is the symbiotic nature of existence. Humans inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide while plants do just the opposite. By reasonable deduction, we can infer that Mr. Smith is, in fact, not at all human. He is instead a strange unidentified organism probably born in a Waffle House somewhere.

Nonetheless, the noodles, smoke and alcohol that enter Mr. Smith's body (or the organism we will call "Spaceship Grant) are converted, through the work of his team of bodily functions, into energy that he can uses to continue to imbibe, inhale and ingest. The waste, via yet another system found aboard "Spaceship Grant," is expelled in any number of ways, each of which is found to be equally offensive to his nearby coworkers.

Doing our best to keep ourselves out of the technical jargon that inevitably traps most scientists struggling to create a de facto, universal classification, we will employ simple reasoning to conclude that "Spaceship Grant," as a single entity, can be suitably classified as an organism. To be led astray by arguments founded in DNA theory that try to define an organism as anything but a SINGLE entity capable of the above-mentioned processes is, in the end, a pointless exercise in academic blathering.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Everybody, GET HER!

People seem to think they know better how perfect strangers should be raising their kids. I believe it’s important to consider what I don’t know before judging someone on what I think I do know.
From the time her son was very small, people have been making nasty remarks and saying hurtful things to my aunt because of what they perceive as her being a bad mother.
I caught a glimpse of a mild case of the effect my aunt and cousin’s relationship has on people during a family camping trip in Colorado. He was 18 years old at the time, and she went into the men’s room with him at a truck stop on the way to the mountains. What people saw was a woman in her 40s going into the bathroom with her adult son. After a minute or two, she came out and he stayed in there. Several more minutes passed. The line to the men’s room was getting longer. My aunt knocked on the door and called her son’s name, ordering him to let her back in.
A man standing in line said something along the lines of, “What do you think you’re doing?”
Maybe at this point you’re thinking the same thing.
My aunt said, “My son is in there.”
“I think he can handle it himself,” the man said with an unmistakably accusing tone of voice.
My aunt said, “He has autism.”
Whether out of embarrassment or fear that this “autism” thing might be contagious, I don’t know, but the man bolted from the truck stop without another word.
My cousin’s autism was diagnosed when he was very little, after his behavior and inability to interact with others confounded everyone for quite some time. Back then, autism wasn’t as easily recognized in children as it is now. My cousin’s condition is severe, rendering him what is often called “low functioning.” Determined to go through every trial right along with her son, she endured situations most would consider nightmarish.
His father split on her, and so she was a single mom, raising one autistic son and his older sister on her own. Dating couldn’t have been easy under the circumstances.
During a period when my cousin was excessively violent, she figured out he was sensitive to several food products. Once she painstakingly narrowed down which ones were affecting him and removed them from his diet, his moods evened out. Grocery shopping was a challenge until she was able to easily recognize brands he could tolerate and stores that carried them.
Bathrooms like the men’s room at the truck stop are filled with wonders for my cousin, who is easily distracted by flippable switches, pressable buttons and turnable handles. It often takes at least two interventions on my aunt’s part to get him through using a public bathroom: One to get him started on the task at hand and one to tear him away from the room when he’s done. In between, she gives him his privacy.
She has had to figure out ways to keep him safe in a world he doesn’t understand, and when it comes to communicating with him, it’s got to be in his language. All education has to be custom-tailored to his way of understanding things. There is no meeting in the middle.
For over 20 years, my aunt has poured her heart and soul into working with her autistic son, and she is committed to doing so throughout his adulthood. What may appear to a bystander as condescending, smothering, or rough, to me is the picture of patience and love. She is one of those unsung heroes you rarely get to meet in a lifetime – let alone share some genes with – and I will always respect, admire, and question the mortality of my aunt.