Oh, will.you.is.so.crazy!

I really think there needs to be a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode for the Superbowl Halftime show. Who wants to help? Come on. I know a lot of you are Tom Servos in disguise.

“Wait…did Christina…no way!”

“I think they’re setting a new world record for most people on a football field doing the Running Man at once.”

“Slash is probably taking the Silkwood shower of a lifetime in all that cash he just made from his duet with Fergie.”

“It’s all downhill after Janet’s nippling, I guess.”

Russell even texted: “Fergie is pitchier than week one of of American Idol,” and, “You’d think they could have hired a decent sound guy if they had ten less dancing robots.”

For me, the real magic was more about the Black Eyed Peas’ wardrobe. That getup was like an Austrian techno Tron and Beyond the Thunderdome mash-up. I thought we buried all that with Tupac’s “California Love” video. Guess not.

by Russell...duh.

Regardless, Fergie is totally hot. I don’t care if she pees in her pants on stage. I don’t care if she likes to hit the bottle. I don’t care if she can’t sing. I don’t even care if she wears Tina Turner’s leftovers from 1984. That girl is completely-on-fire-superhero-good-looking, BUT watching her with Slash was painful on a variety of levels. I felt like I was being subjected to Glee and sports bar karaoke at the same time, except…with Slash, who seemed like he was trying hard not to acknowledge that he was sharing a stage with Fergie. She needs to write Christina Aguilera a thank-you note for running interference by (a) forgetting the words to the national anthem and (b) wearing that awful wig.

There is something kind of WOW about watching the Black Eyed Peas yell, “MAZEL TOV!” It makes my brain cringe. They must be surrounded by an army of yes men these days, kinda like when Madonna decided to play guitar and rap, but worse.

Luckily, for those of us who found the halftime show a little too Olympicky and Thunderdome-y, the BEPs staged a second performance. Sweet:

That really was the sound of a zillion people chanting, “FERGIE, FERGIE, FERGIE, FERGIE!!! ” Ah, the sound of our free democracy! All of that and Jim Carey, too. Dessert is served, ladies.

All joking aside, I was seriously offended by Michael Douglas’s intro. And, man, I like Michael Douglas. Superbowl filmmakers, how dare you exploit images of women’s suffrage and Martin Luther King, Jr., soundbites from landmark American speeches, the space shuttle, immigrants tipping their hats to the Statue of Liberty, Iwo Jima, 9/11, etc., and sum it all up with:

“And tonight here we are, united, to see their journey…”

Football is American, yes — in an apple pie way, not in a people-freaking-died-for-this way. The analogy is absurd and grossly inappropriate. The journey of two teams might be a fantastic, amazing story worthy of passing down amongst generations. However, the extreme sacrifice of America’s history-making radicals and patriots, scientists and blue collar workers, is NOT an appetizer to your chip-and-dip party. So, up yours with that one, Superbowl.

Harumph.

Thank god there were at least dancing robots. A good robot can always unruffle even the most furrowed of feathers. I don’t know what they were doing with the Peas, but I’m sure Tom Servo will be able to shed some light.

When banality collides: Kings of Leon vs. Glee

This morning’s world news: Egypt continues tripping all over itself in dangerous crisis. Over twenty people die in a Columbian coal mine explosion. An army of heavily gunned men in the Congo rape over 60 men, women, and children — again. Ryan Murphy of Glee (and Nip/Tuck, Running with Scissors, Popular) and Nathan Followill from Kings of Leon piss all over each other’s egos.

Get over yourselves. There's important stuff happening elsewhere.

 

(Oh, brother.)

Although it’s comically petty in contrast, I’m relieved to live in a part of the world where fighting words between titty babies would even be considered news.

In case you don’t know, Kings of Leon is a mediocre band popular with the generation behind mine. It’s that sort of safe, middle-of-the-road fare I don’t mind my kid loading onto her iPod. Outside of that, their music is real suburban mouth-breather fodder.

You probably most remember Kings of Leon from the bird poop incident last year in which the band walked off stage three songs into their set. It was “the venue’s fault,” they said. Fortunately for fans of both opening bands, neither The Postelles nor The Stills felt the need to make any sissy escapes. (Hey, even Justin Bieber kept going after he broke his arm onstage, for chrissakes.)

Moving on.

In the opposite corner…Ryan Murphy, creator of Glee!

As with Kings of Leon, I’ve tried to give Glee a fair shot. My mom and kid love this show, but I can’t get into it to save my life. It’s exactly like watching Barney, except instead of a purple dinosaur, there’s a high school Spanish teacher and an even bigger dosage of political correctness.

Enter controversy: Murphy wanted to use Kings of Leon’s song “Use Somebody,” a track I can’t seem to duck to save my life. Luckily, Kings refused to allow their music to be sung on Glee. Maybe the band realized that bringing the two together would’ve created some kind of black hole of banality? Whatever the case, it’s turned into a pretty hilarious media spectacle between the egos of a pot and a kettle, and I love what Brett Warner has to say about it all:

Dear Mr. Followill,

I’d like to think you’re above this, sir — but then again, you play the drums in the most disgustingly safe, inoffensive “rock” group of my generation.

Not to be outdone by:

Dear Mr. Murphy,

[…] Just remember — you gave Julian McMahon breast cancer, so enjoy the current creative success while it lasts.

(Read Warner’s entire witty editorial here, as well as his open letters to both offending parties.)

Now, let’s get back to Egypt. And Columbia. And the Congo.

 

Jean Paul [even] Gaudier

Oh, it was pretty bad the first time around, but seeing this outfit again on poor two-year-old Mia from TLC’s “Toddler’s and Tiaras” this evening sealed the deal for me. I don’t ever need to see another metallic Gaultier cone bra for the duration of my life.

Yeah.

Two things:

  1. Is this some kind of early onset, weird, wardrobe aversion therapy? Where do you go from here? At this rate, Mia’s mom isn’t gonna have much of a leg to stand on when her kid wants to step out in a thong and pasties at fourteen. I feel like I just watched a prequel to “Sixteen and Pregnant,” and that makes me want a Silkwood shower;
  2. The Learning Channel? Really, guys? Quit trying to fool me here. You’re just Bravo for Republicans.

Off to boil my eyeballs now.

Great Ruth

“So what do you do in here?”

“I think about things.”

“Which things?”

“Things I never stopped to think about the first ninety years of my life. You know.”

“I don’t know. I haven’t made it any further than 37 yet.”

“Nevermind. We’ll get back to that. Right now just help me out a minute here, KK.”

“Ok–”

“See that lady?” Nods toward a woman with lots of gray and white curls. “We have to look her down. She irks me.”

“Grandma, are you serious?”

Silence.

“Grandma.”

“Shh, I’m looking her up and down. I told you! Turn around and help me out!”

I can’t believe this.

“Ok, I am looking at her. She appears to be staring you down, too.”

“So what. She’s about to leave. See? She’s leaving. What did I tell you? Hmph.”

Then Gran turned around and glared the senior lady right out of the nursing home’s dining hall.

“So you haven’t changed much since we stuck you in this place.”

Immensely satisfied: “Nope.”

“Feisty.Old.Bat.”

Smirk. “Now, we were talking about things to think about, right, honey?”

“Yes.”

“Well, there is something for you to think about then.” Wink.

This certainly gives new meaning to “fighting with your family at Thanksgiving dinner.”

 

Perfect Chemis-what? Oh, pleez, tween book writers!

After dinner, Russell took Bella to the bookstore so she could pick out some new wordy rappinghoods for making straight A’s.

“Hey, are you next to your computer?”

I was…duh.

“Can you look up a book or two?”

“Sure. What did she pick out?”

In his super-secret library voice, Russell explained it was something called Perfect Chemistry, to which we both kinda cracked up over immediately.

“Dude, really? Perfect Chemistry? Gag. Ok, looking through Google…searching…here it is.”

And that is when I discovered the total deal breaker for Bella (but the best thing for me since the 2009 Gathering of the Juggalos Infomercial). As I watched the accompanying “rap” video for the book Bella selected — no doubt, with her fists clenched in tween hopefulness — my inner, non-fiction soldier ranted mercilessly at my right brain as it cowered in the corner of my cranium.

“Russell?”

“Yeah? And?”

“Tell her to put that crap back on the shelf.”

In the background, I heard Bella mutter, “Ok, ok.” She knew.

Whew.

What happens at the prayer pole stays at the prayer pole, right?

My kid goes to public school. We pay fifty gazillion dollars a year in property taxes, so it’s not exactly a free resource. I expect her to come home every afternoon with a wrinklier brain than when I kissed her goodbye that morning. Otherwise, I’ve wasted my money, and the school has wasted her time.

When we converge at the end of her school day, I try to always inspect my kiddo’s middle school noggin for traces of the day’s edjumacational learnin’:

“…and then we began the section about the Comanche Indians after lunch. You know, Quanah Parker is on my book cover this year.”

“Outstanding. It is Texas History. How were your morning classes?”

“Great! Oh, I joined the Christian prayer group around the flagpole this morning, by the way.”

[Insert very loud sound of needle skipping across record.]

My seventh grader proceeded to describe something that sounded like a fundamentalist version of Lord of the Flies around the school’s flagpole. What the holy hay are they thinking up there?! Isn’t this why there’s a freaking Christian school down the street?

My daughter has grown up in an unprejudiced home, and I’m proud of that. Her grandfather is a retired Methodist minister, but her uncle and his family are Jewish. Her cousins are Muslim, as are her two best friends. Her father is Atheist. Her other grandfather is Pagan. I’m still looking for an answer, but I’m pretty sure it has more to do with numbers and lab experiments than anything else. All the same, I encourage her curiosity as long as it’s sincere and not rooted in societal pressure.

My kid reassured me, “Mom, I know what you’re thinking, and I just want you to understand they invited us all to pray to any Lord.”

“Satan, too?”

“Of course, not! Mom!”

“Well? There is probably a kid in your school who is afraid to pray for his or her god(s) from fear of not fitting in with the Flagpole Society. Look at how hard it was for your friend to be Muslim at school. They gave her a terrible time, remember? It’s impossible for prayer to be all-inclusive at a middle school. I just want you to consider that.”

I promised I wouldn’t call the school or do anything rash or similarly ignorant. I mean, we are in America (!) the Melting Pot of Every-freaking-thing-on-the-planet. I accept the terms.

I want my kid’s school to also accept the terms. Student led prayer in school is religious gang warfare if everybody isn’t given the same playing privileges. Warriors, come out to plaaay. Let’s be realistic about this prayer thing.

Muslims, grab your prayer rugs. It’s cool at the school.

Can we get some Buddhist prayer rollers up in here?

What about some morning mantras to begin our Hindu day at school? (Still comfortable, Flagpolers?)

Is that the bell? Wait, here come the Jewish kids. They should get a time slot around the pole, too. Jesus was a Jew and all. Only fair! (This should only tack on ten more minutes, don’t worry.)

Ok, everybody needs to leave so the Wiccan kids can have a solitary moment around the flagpole. Thanks. (This is still cool with the school board, yeah?)

Did you hear an E-Meter? (Oh, God. This is going to take all damn day. Hey, at least this is prohibiting students from learning about evolution. Look on the bright side.)

The Prince of Darkness, y’all! Kinda early for costumes, but we’ve got to give everybody an equal chance to hit up the pole service, so…yep.

Sweet! These guys are ON IT! What do I have to do to get my lightsaber?

Look, there’s nothing wrong with following the beat of your own drum. There’s also nothing wrong with following the beat of a billion drums. However, Flagpolers, your constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of religion don’t mean you get to trample on the same rights of others. If you’re going to host group prayers in which you invite classmates without parental consent or consideration, be courteous enough to understand that your decade here on earth doesn’t bestow you special powers to convert or exclude, especially in a taxpayer environment.

This is your final warning, Lord of the Flies Prayer Group. Push me any further, and I’ll make sure to go up there for a pole-side Darwin homage with my kid just to balance things out a bit.

Amen.

Get the frac off my lawn, Gashole!

Featured

“Mom, there’s a man at the door who says he can make you rich. Can I answer it?”

I almost felt sorry for the guy. Almost.

Hey, is it cool if I make a direct pathway to your house? I'll pay you...

Rushing the opening segment of his spiel, he announced, “I’m from Chesapeake Energy, and I’d like to include you in a special offer to –”

” — to have my community ruined in exchange for a minuscule amount of money? No thanks, dude.”

“Wait. What are your concerns?”

“Basically the same as those of Congress and the EPA:  contamination of water, the earthquakes, the site spillage, plus all the loud noise…want me to go on? Last week when I said I was worried about unsafe chemicals in my drinking water, you told us we ‘receive [our] water from Dallas anyway’ — which we don’t according to my water department — as if that’s supposed to make it all okay.”

The kid issued a robotic answer to every one of my concerns: “Frac drilling hasn’t been proven unsafe and has been going on for decades;” “There’ve been no earthquakes in this area proven to be a direct result of hydraulic fracturing for resources;” “You can receive a signing bonus!” Blah, blah, blah.

It’s the same dog and pony show each time one of these folks comes around. On the days when I have time to dig deeper, so to speak, the door knocker’s speech always unravels into: “I’ll have someone from the company contact you with further information,” but I always seem to just get another snake oil salesman instead of anyone who can show me tangible proof that frac’ing is going to paint a giant rainbow over my north Texan community.

Let me backup a few years, though, when all the aggressive frac-a-lacking began.

As the derricks started popping up en masse all over DFW Airport’s Barnett Shale property in 2007, I wasn’t sure what was going on. My co-workers and I observed the gigantic structures during each phase of erection. I remember someone saying, “Wow, that’s one way to ruin the sunset, isn’t it!” Others were asking if it was a permanent inconvenience, if it was safe having such huge assemblies “right next to the runways,” if there was any risk working around “whatever-they-are,” if the intolerably bad odors we were noticing came from the drilling, if the water weirdly bubbling from cracks in the concrete was toxic production, etc. My main complaint at that time centered around the unique noise, which resembled what I thought a dying T-Rex might make. Whatever the case and for whatever the reasoning, nobody liked anything about those beasts, except for the 181 million bucks and 25% profit sharing the airport received from the energy company.

As if the odors and the loud noise and the eyesores weren’t enough, shortly after the drilling mania initiated around the airport, an unprecedented series of earthquakes occurred. The companies like to maintain this is completely without basis and unproven. I’m not a geologist, so, luckily, the USGS is full of unbiased, left-brainers who like to generate exciting earthquake data for the rest of us. Goody!

Earthquakes within 62 miles of DFW Airport in the one hundred years BEFORE the drilling: ONE.


Earthquakes within 62 miles of DFW Airport in the three years since drilling began: TWENTY-FOUR.


So why are we allowing this to happen? Because everybody who doesn’t own an energy corporation is hurting in this recession, and when one of their energy ants, as I like to refer to these door-to-door nimrods who make irritating trails that are difficult to eradicate, comes along with a special signing bonus worth a few thousand dollars per acre, it seems like a good way to get caught up on the bills. At least, that’s what Dawn Nolan thought when the ants came-a-calling in her neighborhood several years ago.

“They said they wanted to drill for natural gas and that they’d be willing to pay me thousands of dollars and a percentage of the earnings. I got a check at first, so I let them go ahead. Who can’t use the extra money?”

During the process, the drill began producing incredibly loud noises right outside her daughter’s bedroom window. “There was all kinds of equipment and stuff they were using that was blocking the driveway at times and making a mess — mud everywhere. The one down the street made a really bad smell, too.”

I asked Dawn how far away the closest drill was from her home. “Oh, gosh. 100 feet? No more than 150 feet for sure. I didn’t know they could drill so close to a home until it happened.”

After everything was said and done, the Nolans’ check finally arrived in the mail for their percentage of the wells’ profits. It took months after drilling ended to get the company to send a grand total of $73.00. To top it off, she reports similar safety issues echoed by many families who’ve also experienced drilling within close proximity to a water supply. “We drink well water here, and in the past year or so, we’ve never had so many health problems — lots of headaches and stuff like that. I don’t know what’s going on.” Dawn has missed work due to doctor’s visits for herself and her children, and the loss of hours has taken a toll. “I’d like to figure it out,” she says.

Dawn is certainly not the only one with complaints. In Flower Mound residents have pressed for additional studies to detect why levels of childhood leukemia seem to be increasing in the zip codes within closest proximity to frac drilling. Benzene and other contaminants proven to be cancer-causing have been prevalent in areas where unconventional shale drilling has occurred. In addition, studies have demonstrated that frac drilling is taking effect on food production in areas where spills, which are common, are unable to be maintained properly. In one article, a farmer admits he is concerned about selling produce which has been contaminated by frac water. In other reports, livestock have inadvertently been killed and contaminated after drinking fluids used by companies like Chesapeake for hydraulic fracturing. Making things worse, Weston Wilson, formerly an environmental engineer with the EPA who is now working to resolve hydrofracking issues under Congressional protective whistleblower status, has issued the following statement regarding findings of airborne benzene:

“If that is an effect of oil and gas drilling, of fracking, it’s systemic, it’s endemic. It’s evaporating from the reserve pits and the condensate tanks. It’s not as if the current state of the art protects the public health from those volatile organics.”

The way I see it, these are possible side effects that involve not just the immediate communities, but also any creature who eats food, drinks water, or breathes air.

Things have gotten so terrible that Congress has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to open a complete investigation into the safety concerns of hydraulic fracturing. This involves requesting full disclosure of the mystery chemicals used in frac’ing around for natural gas from the nine largest energy drilling companies. You might be asking yourself, Does this mean that the only people who know what is being pumped into the ground along with trillions of gallons of water and sand in order to break the shale and expose the gas to the surface are the ones who own the companies profiting from drilling? Yeah, I know it sounds like crazytown, but yes. And guess what? They don’t have to clean your water after they contaminate it; they’re exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act thanks to Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force of 2005 (and to Barack Obama’s “yes” vote). Let’s be non-partisan about it, though. We’ve fudged this one up as a team effort.

Natural gas is not the enemy here, of course. However, we’ve got to fight for regulations of the chemicals used in current frac drilling processes so that we can achieve a level of environmental safety that meets our need for more efficient fossil fuels. BJ Services’ David Dunlap, Chief Operating Officer, says his company incorporates “green” fluid alternatives in offshore frac drilling due to specific guidelines set forth by the EPA, so there is a way to lessen the risk, but he adds, “…the chemistry costs more and is justifiable to shareholders only because the regulations for offshore drilling left no choice.” That’s a nice way of saying the energy companies choose to frac drill on land using chemicals that are not proven to be safe because they’re cheaper. There’s loads of money to be made in drilling practices by Montgomery Burns’ Greedy Gashole Army, so why not cut as many corners as possible, right? Sad face. Come on, guys.

Last week my daughter and I sat in on a Fort Worth City Council meeting in which a swarmy Chesapeake Energy rep addressed the council regarding the improved safety and whatnot of drilling practices. In the same breath, he bragged about how the company was planning upon planting trees and other landscaping improvements along the site (so we can pollute those with frac water, too, I guess). When he concluded his rehearsed presentation, Mr. Safety took a seat next to me and breathlessly said, “Hello.” I responded by looking at my kid and saying, “See this guy? He works for the people who put those giant dino-rigs all over the place — the ones that drill with all the chemicals they wanna keep confidential.” She responded by writing on the meeting’s agenda, “The ones we could hear across the highway?” I nodded, “Yeah. THOSE.” She leaned over, gave him the once over, and whispered, “He looks greasy, Mom.”

“That’s because he is covered in snake oil,” I told her.

So until further notice, if you’re knocking on my door with your pen and your signing bonus, Chesapeake, et al, I’m totally disinterested. Quit interrupting my life by pounding on my door every five seconds. Quit calling my husband all the time on his work phone. Quit asking my kid through the door if her “Mommy and Daddy are home.” My god, you’re more invasive than all of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Kirby Vacuum salespeople, and Anti-drug Candy Bar peddlers I’ve encountered in my entire life — combined! I don’t care if every single one of my neighbors makes fifty bazillion dollars from your frac-a-whacking; I’d rather sleep soundly at night knowing my conscience is free from greed and that I took a stand for what is right rather than what “leads us into temptation.”

I invite you all to do the same until drilling and energy companies are forced into utilizing similar, more ecologically friendly hydraulic fracturing fluids in our American land as are enforced by the EPA in offshore practices.