Monday, January 23, 2006

All ages. No cover.

It's the second best reason to love the Westside after the Pacific Ocean. My first encounter with the (then unopened) newly remodeled Santa Monica Public Library was that crappy day in November when I crashed my car right in front of it. My second was Saturday, third - Sunday, fourth - Monday. This library is not like any you've ever been to before. It's excellent for so many reasons. The building itself is pretty cool and chic with lots of windows and easy access to the outside. There's a courtyard with a moat-like thing and a coming-soon cafeteria. It's just like Barnes and Noble but the magazines are in better order and no one is getting coffee on the newspapers. The entrance to the kids' section looks like Chuck-E-Cheese. There's free wireless, outlets built into the tables, and Mac users aplenty. About 100 computers fill the computer section and a liter board tells you when it's your turn. There are private study rooms with white boards. Non-lame DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks are available for you to check out. I found myself doing actual work over the past three days just so I could peruse the magazine section afterward.

If you were ever needing a reason to visit me in LA, you now have it. Best. Library. Ever.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Come on, what do you really think?

So here's how to NOT win friends and influence people. . .

This guy in my program messaged me on OKCupid, this personality test/dating site thing that purports to cater to sort of hip nerds, but really only to 23 year olds trying to make it and to balding men over thirty who are in neuroscience or program video games.

His first message was just kind of like, "haha! I see you!" Fine, whatever. I wrote some kind of acknowledgement back. But THEN, he writes this back to me:

"so - did you intentionally put less than perfect pictures of yourself up on this profile?

you are way hotter in person, and i doubt it's a non-photogenic thing. trying to screen out the guys who are interested in looks only? :P"

What kind of not-overly-backhanded compli-sult is THAT? You have bad pictures, in fact, they're so bad that anyone who cares about looks is not going to message you.

Are you kidding me? How could you expect to win favor with someone by starting off by telling them that their pictures suck? Maybe the idea is that I would suffer such a severe drop in momentary self-esteem that by the time the compliment appears, sandwiched between insults, I feel so desperate as to decide that actually, yes, what I'm missing in my life is someone just like him. And second, it's not like we're even friends -- tough love is not sanctioned for acquaintances. Social skills, however, are always in order.

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's good to have a plan B.

Message in my OKCupid inbox today:


my name is aaron.

i like u and i want to be your boyfriend.

i live in australia.

why dont you call me.

Everybody likes a little affirmation now and then.

Today is a "holiday," which means I don't have to feel especially guilty for not getting anything done. It's a beautiful, this-is-why-people-love-Southern-California kind of day outside, the kind that makes you ask yourself how anyone could get any work at all done on a day like today. Oddly enough, although I think
working inside is inappropriate, I strongly endorse napping.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

If it's not consensual, it's not foreplay.

Big news folks - we have some crime going down on the Westside. See what happens when the LAPD spends too much time killing black kids and not enough monitoring the comings and goings of tanned undergrads traveling from Starbucks to Coffee Bean in designer leggings and mullets? It's this guy:

Yes, this computer-generated mansimilie (he's really White, about 22 years old and between 5'7" and 5'11" if that doesn't come through from the picture) has been linked to five bear hugs/gropings on campus in recent weeks. Unlike my friends who actually do their work during the day, I read the notices from the building manager, only to learn on Wednesday that this guy walks up behind girls on the West border of campus, reaches around them from behind, squeezes their breasts, and runs away. Weird, huh? I mean, when push comes to shove I'd rather have this guy with a squeezing fetish on the loose than someone with a sawed off shotgun fetish roaming around. But still.

Required Viewing

Set your TiVo, silence your cell, and proceed to your nearest theater to see After Innocence, Jessica Sanders' documentary following seven wrongly imprisoned men on their re-entry to society following exoneration through DNA testing. An avid watcher of Reading Rainbow and fan of Lavar Burton - I endorse the "you don't have to take my word for it" school of thought: this movie won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance last year and a slew of other impressive awards.

I attended a screening and Q & A with the director (who, by the way, was wearing a great jacket), her co-producer (who's pretty cute himself), and an exoneree (in fact, an entire panel of good looking, well-dressed folk). Like all the men in the film, this guy's story is heartbreaking and frustrating. What's really incredible about all the men, though, is that none of them are exceedingly bitter about the injustice of spending so many years in terrible places, under terrible conditions, for crimes that they absolutely didn't commit.

Herman Atkins, an exoneree, attended the screening and took part in the Q & A tonight. At the time of his release in 2000 the state of California "offered" (if you knew who, how, and exactly how to hold your breath when asking for it) $10,000 in compensation to people who had been exonerated on the basis of DNA testing. He became active in efforts to improve this compensation - I certainly agree that $10,000 doesn't exactly make up for spending 13 years in prison. Remarkably, these efforts paid off and the compensation for people wrongly imprisoned is higher now. Also remarkably, when he filed for his own compensation under the new laws, the state told him that the statute of limitations had run out and he wasn't eligible to be compensated.

The exonerees are from all walks of life, all colors of skin, all brackets of taxes. One exoneree featured is a white police officer who spent 6 1/2 years in jail before the real killer turned himself in and confessed to the police to reopen the investigation. What's also surprising is the reluctance (at best) and defiance some prosecutors have toward DNA testing that will free innocent people from prison or death row.

Enough. Go see it! If you live within driving distance to an airport this film is coming to a theater near you in the upcoming months. Put it on your calendar!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wedding Fix 2006

Last week I received an email from one of my cabinet members about the diminishing number of female peers amenable to partaking in the occasional, short-term romantic encounter (i.e., random hookups). Fittingly, I was checking my email from the hotel room where I spent several days leading up to the wedding of another one of my nearest and dearest.

Because I don't have anything especially pithy to say about the decline in the number of people I know living fast and loose, I'll tell you about the wedding. . . FANTASTIC!! Instead of the standard 3-hour affair of impersonal ceremony and small talk with people vaguely known through your date, this wedding was an intimate production: 100 guests and 5 days of fun -- fancy and meaningful.

Here's what went down at Wedding Camp:

Wednesday: The bridesmaids had the traditional 'bridesmaids' luncheon' over tapas. (At the rehearsal dinner, the generation Y assistant pastor kept asked me to repeat that phrase, giggling over the aural similaritiy with "topless." Geez. I guess it's the little things that count when you're of the cloth.)

Thursday: We moved from the bride and groom's townhouse to the hotel where all the out-of-town guests lodged. The four bridal grandparents took the bride's entire family of about 30 people (and the bridesmaids!) to dinner overlooking the city and featuring a country and western band, sawdust on the floor, a slide inside the restaurant, and a waiter named "Stretch" who hit on the bride.

Friday: All the womenfolk around the hotel had our nails done before meeting up with the rest of the guests that continued to arrive for an open house and lunch at Krista and Scott's townhouse. Then a few of us took a Martha Stewart moment to set up the centerpieces at the reception venue. The head server was intent on debating the appropriate number of tea lights per table to prevent napkin fires. Wedding rehearsal and more free food courtesy the groom's family at a local Mexican restaurant!

Saturday: We were able to get a late start before pre-wedding grooming and dressing. IMPORTANT INNOVATION: The entire bridal party and families of the couple took pictures BEFORE the ceremony. Then the wedding, by which point 70% of the attendees were familiar faces. Krista's grandfather is a retired bishop so he conducted the ceremony with the younger assistant. The reception was a good time with dancing, drinking (too much), and a sparkler send off. After all this time with the family and new friends I had met throughout the week, the reception was actually JUST LIKE the end of session dance at summer camp. I had had a great week. I hoped to keep in touch. I danced to seminal jams like SHOUT! and 2Legit2Quit.

Sunday: Unfortunately, I had to miss out on this part due to exceeding the fun (umm. . .alcohol consumption) threshold at the reception, but Krista and Scott resurfaced at the guests' hotel to join them for a late breakfast before the guests' departure.

My only problem (well, aside from the self-imposed) with the whole endeavor is that it was slated to happen only once a lifetime. Krista does have 3 siblings, so I'm putting in my bid to attend those wedding camp sessions early.