Stop It!

Why have I come out of my semi-blogging retirement on this fine September day? As always, it’s because I am so annoyed by something that I just can’t go any longer without complaining about it. I find my little Internet corner a great place to complain about the behavior of people without having to confront any individuals. I may be annoyed! But I super hate confrontation, even when people are being dumb.

Here is the issue du jour: it seems to be common in certain circles (okay, lots of circles. Way too many circles, frankly, even here in SF) to claim that not only are “Asians” bad drivers, but that it’s not racist to think so. Just in case you don’t recognize an instance like this, it usually goes something like “I’m not racist, but Asians can’t drive!” or “Asians are the worst drivers. It’s not racist, it’s just true.” Or, in reaction to a traffic infraction: “Oh, figures. ASIAN.”

I am not going to explain why it isn’t true that “Asians” are bad drivers. And it isn’t. It just isn’t. I am not interested in arguing over this point just because you happen to have some anecdotal evidence about a neighborhood you know about where driving seems to be bad and where there are a lot of people who have a connection to a continent. Let’s just agree that anytime you make a blanket statement wherein you claim that one racial group is “bad” at something (or, for that matter, “good”at something else), it’s racist. That’s pretty much the textbook (and I know me some textbooks) definition of racist.

No, I am not going to try talk you out of your racism. If this is something you really believe in the marrow of your bones (as opposed to something you just say casually, without thinking, which isn’t admirable, but I’m sure I’ve done things like this and worse), I’m probably not going to change your mind. And let’s be honest: this is no where near the top (or even the middle, maybe) of the most damaging racism going on in the U.S today, never mind the rest of the world. But it is racist. Racist is racist.

So: if you really, really super believe, in your heart of hearts, that people of Asian descent are somehow genetically predisposed to be poor drivers,  the next time you want to express this opinion, do me a favor and be honest. Say: “I’m a racist! I believe that Asians can’t drive!” Or “Asians are the worst drivers. I believe this because I am prejudiced” or “I figure that person who just cut me off is Asian. I am going to assume this before even seeing the person in question, but when I do see them for a fraction of a second, I am going to be able to determine their racial identity for sure!”

 

Very Short Reviews of the 60 (Well, 59) Books I Read in 2013

Around this time in 2013, I made a little goal for myself, via Goodreads.com, to read 50 books by the end of the year. Unlike just about every other goal I’ve ever set for myself, I did it! In fact, I read 60! I win! I get the prize! Because this may be the only life-goal I ever reach, I decided to commemorate my accomplishment by listing all 60 books and telling you what I thought about them. Since 6o is a lot of books, and because some of them I remember more than others, my reviews will be very…terse.

Without further ado, then:

1. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan: Set in San Francisco, twee. 

2. The 19th Wife,  David Ebershoff: Dude, I read this years ago. Goodreads done messed up. I guess I only read 59 books in 2013.

2. How to Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran: Feminism is HIP!

3. Going Clear:  Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Lawrence Wright: Scientology is messed up, yo.

4. Standing in Another Man’s Grave,  Ian Rankin:  Ian Rankin wrote a series of detective stories about a detective named John Rebus. The series ended a couple years ago. Then this book, about John Rebus, came out.  Whatever it takes to pay the bills, I guess.

5. Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer:  To be honest, I read this for the second time in 2013, I hope that counts. Bookclub pick!

6. Word Freak, Stefan Fatsis: To be really good at Scrabble, you should be good at math. This explains a lot in my life.

7. The Middlesteins, Jami  Attenberg: Good n’ sad. My favorite combo.

8. The Book of Mormon Girl, Joanna Brooks: Ehhhh…I was not the target audience for this book.

9. Lost at Sea, Jon Ronson: I heart Jon Ronson.

10. Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir, Melissa Francis: BOOOO. It sounded so meaty, but nope.

11. People who eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman, Richard Lloyd Parry: Awesome and scary!

12. After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story, Michael Hainey: My memories of my feelings for this book have become lost.

13. In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson: Who wants to go to Australia with me? You? Do you also want to buy the tickets?

14. The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach: Everyone loves this book but me.

15. Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle, Thea Cooper: If you find medical history interesting, you might like this. Or. you might like this if you are a sad liveabetic. By the way, have you checked out my other blog?!

16. Diabetes: The Biography, Robert Tattersall: See above.

17. Life after Life, Kate Atkinson. Maybe my favorite book of all time. Literally. Definitely the book I wish I could write.

18. The Astor Orphan, Alexandra Aldrich: I think it’s better to have come from a family that never had money than one that lost all its money.

19. The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend, Glenn Frankel: Good book, but I hated the movie it was about.

20. Dead Ever After, Charlaine Harris: Thank god these books are done now.

21. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Mary Roach: I love Mary Roach, but I always forget all the facts from her books as soon as I’m done.

22. The Cranes Dance: Meg Howrey: Chick lit! About ballet and being sisters! But pretty good, honestly.

23. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson: Ugh.

24. Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics,  Joe Klein: So topical.

25. NOS4A2, Joe Hill:  Weird. Stephen King’s son changed his name so as not to ride his dad’s coattails, but then wrote a copycat Stephen King book.

26. The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World, Nancy Jo Sales: The mistake here was expanding from the article it was based on.

27. World War Z, Max Brooks: Way better than the movie, but also completely unrelated to the movie. It’s like two for…two. I guess.

28. The Pretty One: A Novel about Sisters, Lucinda Rosenfeld: I have very little memory of reading this book, I had it confused with number 34. That one’s better.

29. The False Friend, Myla Goldberg: Memory is Tricky

30.  The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel,  Elizabeth L. Silver: Meh

31. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery,  Robert Kolker:  Scary! Now I will think twice about becoming a Craigslist prostitute.

32. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, Piper Kerman: TV show is so much more fun.

33. The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jon Ronson: JON RONSON.

34. Sisterland, Curtis Sittenfeld:  Just a touch of the ol’ supernatural to spice it up. Loved it.

35. Tinkers,  Paul Harding:  This book is the opposite of what I enjoy in literature.

36. Ghost Hunters: William James and the Scientific Search for Proof of Life After Death, Deborah Blum:  Dryer than you might think.

37. Sleeping Murder, Agatha Christie: I had never read any Agatha Christie till we tackled this in bookclub. At the end, Miss Marple tells a character not to thoughtlessly accept men calling women sluts. Love it, Agatha!

38.  Visitacion Street, Ivy Pochoda: Plodding.

39.  Cries Unheard: Why Children Kill: The Story of Mary Bell,  Gitta Sereny: So, so, sad. On many levels.

40.  The Complete History of Jack the Ripper, Philip Sugden: I now have encyclopedic knowledge of Jack the Ripper lore. Or I would, if I could retain thingsI read.

41. The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes. No good.

42. Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie: OH MY GOD THEY ALL DID IT. Spoilers!

43.  Niceville, Carsten Stroud: It’s a combo ghost story/detective story. Love it!

44. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, Elizabeth L. Cline: Read this if you’re feeling like you don’t have enough to feel guilty about.

45.  She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me: Emma Brockes: Great memoir about a mother-daughter relationship.

46. The Silver Star: Jeanette Walls: When I saw this on the list, I thought it must be a mistake, because I really didn’t think I had actually read it. Then I looked up the synopsis and realized I did. Take that for what it’s worth.

47.  Never Mind:  Edward St. Aubyn: This is the first in what seems to be the most depressing ever series of books. A 5 year old gets raped, so you know.

48. 4:50 From Paddington, Agatha Christie: Oh, Miss Marple! You’re so cool!

49. The Homecoming, Carsten Stroud: This is the sequel to number 43. Same thing goes here.

50. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt: Everyone says they really liked Donna’s first book, but  hated the other two. I like them all. And she only writes one every 10 years, so thank god for that.

51. Coming Clean: A Memoir, Kimberly Rae  Miller: Not everyone should be writing memoirs, you know?

52. Son of a Gun: A Memoir, Justin St. Germain: Not this guy, though, his is good.

53. Tampa, Alissa Nutting: Holy crap!

54. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, Sheri Fink: Heartbreaking.

55. The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side, Agatha Christie: I figured this one out before the end!

56. The Body in the Library, Agatha Christie: I came to Agatha Christie pretty late in life, considering how much I like mysteries in general.

57. The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton: The form is quite impressive

58.  Lucy in Real Life, Deb Perry:  I didn’t really like being a kid, but I wish I could go back to being a kid and read this book as a kid. Love it.

59. And Then there were None, Agatha Christie: For a shocker, look up what the original title of this book was. 

Star Trek Gives Me a Hug

You guys, I have a confession to make: I really like Star Trek.

Does this not seem like something I need to confess to? Are you sure? Because this is the nerdiest of nerd things, recent blockbusters notwithstanding. Star Trek is not hip. I know I shouldn’t care about these things anymore, because I am very old now and by definition lame, but I still feel a little nervous about putting it out there. Listen, can we still be friends? I will not make you watch Star Trek with me. Just gently humor my addiction.

It all started when my parents started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation when it first appeared on TV. As I understand it, they watched it because Jan Holloway super liked the original series back when she was in college or something. As I interpret it, she mainly watched because she was hot for Spock. I mean, I’m kind of hot for Spock, so I get it. Anyway, I was pretty into it, and that was okay, because I was still in elementary school.

Then something really bad happened. Yes, that’s right:  I was forced to attend middle school. Okay, sure. No one likes middle school (or junior high, if you went to junior high instead. I’m not really sure what the difference is, but I didn’t go to junior high, I went to middle school), but I think my special blend of social awkwardness and emotional imbalance made middle school especially trying for me.  Need evidence? See this, and this. Oh! And this photo:

sixthgrade

(Thanks to Mikie for this photo; identities of the less awkward have been protected)

So, there I was at this horrible school, with no idea how to peg my pants properly or how to make my bangs into a wall, and the people I was kinda friends with in fifth grade were nowhere to be found.  I could go on a lot about my feelings as a nascent sixth grader, but let’s just boil it down to the above, plus a single anecdote: during the first week or so of school one of  my teachers told my class I was going to die tragically young  as a result of diabetes while I was in the bathroom or something, and everyone just seemed bemused when I got back.

Then, one day, I met a couple of nice girls who watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, too.  Actually, what I think happened was, one of the girls had a set of parents who were REALLY into Star Trek. In fact, I think they were full time Trekkies/Trekkers/Whatsthedifference, and I think their children absorbed their all-consuming love, while  the other two of us were more casual fans looking for an outlet.  And collectively, we were really, really not having fun in middle school. We needed friends, and we needed an interest, and boy howdy!  Aren’t you glad I didn’t meet the kids who like, super liked drugs?  We had sleepovers to watch episodes, we went to a Star Trek convention, we trick-or-treated. I can only imagine that I, like my two friends, would have had a Star Trek themed costume if Jan Holloway hadn’t taken over that year. Then there was that thing where I had a crush on Data (never mind his evil android-brother Lore: can you say H-O-T?) but told my friends that I had a crush on Worf, because that seemed more acceptable. I love robots to this day, bless their little metal guts. Good times, friends. Good times.

IMG_20131001_0001_NEW

In case you thought I was making my awkwardness and my trip to the Star Trek Convention up, here I am with one of the Next Generation stars. YOU’RE WELCOME.

After a few months, my little Star Trek  friends club broke up: the superfan-daughter was yanked out of school because Coastside schools didn’t teach the Prime Directive, and the other girl’s family moved away. I managed to shove my way into another group of lovably awkward girls (or awkwardly lovable: both work) and I developed other interests more in sync with those of the majority: interests such as Broadway show themed-outfits and VC Andrews.

I never really got over my Star Trek thing. It’s weird, because I don’t especially like other science fiction. Aside from Battlestar Galatica (which was more about the HUMAN CONDITION than sci fi, amirite?), it might be my least favorite genre. I have serious issues with most of the original series (except my boy Spock, yup) and even find my beloved Next Generation a bit hokey about 60% of the time. I hadn’t even seen most of the last few series (no Data, what was the point?) until this article inspired me to give Deep Space Nine another go (still deciding who to have a crush on, will report back). I find the idea that in a couple hundred years Earth will be a paradise with no war, no money, and no prejudice so silly as to be ridiculous; I could go on and on.  All that said, I just love it, it’s one of my favorite things. I get real excited when I find out someone else likes or has liked Star Trek and feel an instant connection with them. I own the box set of Next Generation, even though I’d seen every episode multiple times when I bought it, and it cost an arm and a leg (I used to have three of each).

What I’m saying is that Star Trek is like a big huge hug from Santa for me. I’ve been thinking about this a lot this last week, as the world mourns the loss of Breaking Bad. I mean, everyone loves Breaking Bad! You can talk to everyone about it, it’s cool to like Breaking Bad.  In fact, if you haven’t seen Breaking Bad, you’ve probably been out of the loop and feel alone and sad. You know what I suggest? Give Star Trek a try. I can lend you a DVD.

A Generic Recommendation Post

I’ve been having a hard time coming up with topics for fantastically witty blog posts in the last few days. I might have just waited for inspiration to win out, but since I just rebooted the damn thing a couple weeks ago, I felt that it was important that I kept things going. But, listen: I’m really having trouble. The only ideas I’ve come up with are “Rape is bad, and rapists are evil”, “Non socially-acceptable things I do because I live alone”, and “Why does my cat have so many digestive issues?”.  As poignant as all these topics may well be, I feel that to expound upon them may  ruin my allure. So, instead, I’m counting on the old fall-back “recommendation” post. I don’t have enough recommendations in  the area of books/movies/tv shows/cat digestive disorders, so this list is kind of a potpourri of awesome things. Also, I totally intended this post to be a bulleted list, but I couldn’t figure out how to format it in a way that pleased me, so no bullets. I apologize. I know you enjoy bullets as much as I do.

Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson
This might be the perfect book. It’s real good. I was going to chose it for my book club pick, but I was scared someone wouldn’t like it and then I would have to listen to bad words about it.  As I’m typing this, I begin to suspect I’ve already blogged about this book. But who cares?  Better that then raping rapers and their rapes, amirite?

Jordan, Jesse, Go!
This is my favorite podcast, although I also like Answer Me This and Throwing Shade.  And obviously This American Life, but that’s a full-on radio show, so I’m not really including that.  I don’t know if many of you listen to podcasts, but they are a good thing to listen to when you have a stupid long commute on the world’s worst public transportation system, and you can’t read on it or you might hork. I like Jesse Thorn, he’s from San Francisco, and he went to the cool kids’s high school, where some cool kids from HMB went because who wants to go to school in Half Moon Bay? I also like Jordan, and I had a little crush on him, except he talks about sex too much, which makes me uncomfy. If you actually want to know what this show is about, you can go check out the website. I don’t feel like explaining.

Putting your shopping cart back in the shopping cart area
I think this is pretty self-explanatory. SO WHY DOES NO ONE DO IT? God, I’m grumpy.

Babies, especially those my friends have recently birthed
You know, I thought I didn’t like babies until my more life-successful friends started popping them out left and right.  I received some pictures of one friend’s new baby girl this morning, and couldn’t focus all day, and had to go back and look at the pictures every few minutes. Let’s put it this way: I always knew I wanted to put baby feet in my mouth. I didn’t realize until now that I kind of want to put a WHOLE baby in my mouth.

In a loving, non-harmful, non-consuming way.

Agatha Christie
I just read my first Agatha Christie book. It was a real late one, so maybe it wasn’t even the best. My! It was quite diverting! This is great, because I hear she wrote a few others.  Also, there was a an awesome feminist theme in it, which I found surprising and delightful. The anti-rape, if you will.

Crab Sandwiches at AT&T Park
I just went to what is probably the last Giants game of the season I will go to. I took a friend who showed me where they have delicious crab sandwiches. Listen, if you have one of those suckers, the hot dogs won’t be as appealing anymore. But I am probably not going to show you where the Crazy Crab Shack is, because I don’t want it getting too crowded. What? Oh, yes.  I’m aware I’m a jerk.

Portlandia skit about the Evite reply comedian
I guess this skit isn’t as popular as some of the other Portlandia skits (you know, your “But a BIrd on it”, and “I Can Pickle That”), because I can’t find a nice link for you, but this latest season had a skit guest staring Patton Oswalt as a guy who’s Evite responses are really funny.  Oh man, this hits the nail on the head. And just to come completely clean, I’m always trying to be that guy. Oh yeah, I am. I really am.

My friend’s awesome website about walks in San Francisco
sfuncovered.com
Although, to be honest, if you’re reading this blog, you doubtless already know about it. Anyway, it’s pretty cool unless you are home-bound or don’t live in San Francisco. Also, I think she did all the coding herself, which, WOW.

Sitting with your legs together on Muni if you are a man because other people need space, too
I just really, really doubt your genitals need that much space, and listen: I AM BIG BONED.

Trader Joe’s Tamales
So tasty! And quick.

RoboCop
I thought about this because  I saw a trailer for the remake.  LOUD EXHALE. Ugh. How can one improve on perfection? And unlike Face/Off, it eally holds up! I know that my interest in this movie is okay, because it was an assigned film in one of my film classes. At, you know, the university I went to to major in humanities despite it’s renown as a science school. So it’s a classic, right?

My other blog, which is about diabetes
Did you notice that all off the references to my favorite chronic condition disappeared when my blog went legitimate and got it’s own domain name? No? That’s too bad.  Anyway, I also have another blog! It’s about diabetes! Because of how the other diablogs don’t cater to someone with as quirky a world outlook as I have. If you aren’t diabetic, I don’t know if you will like it (also, I may only have…ah…three posts up now) but you probably know someone who is diabetic. Or maybe, um. I’m the diabetic you know. Anyway! Feel free to recommend it around:.

Jury Duty!

I spent my mornings this week at jury duty. I feel that San Francisco residents get called to jury duty more often than people who live in other places. This is just anecdotal, but it sure seems like everyone I know here has been called up at least a few times, if not every single year. More than that, when you get summoned to jury duty in SF, it appears to be a given that you’ll actually have to report, and may actually be on a jury (again, anecdotal; I know we shouldn’t rely on anecdotes, but the Leata Blog is not subject to the rigors of the scientific method, so just go with it). I was registered to vote in San Mateo County for a total of 9 years, and only got called for jury duty once; and that jury duty consisted of calling once and being told I didn’t have to show up. I’ve been here in San Francisco for six years, and have been called twice. The first time, I was on a jury, and this time, I was in a jury pool and sat through three days of jury selection.

When I first reported in person for jury duty a few years ago, I was very, very excited. I’ve always thought being on a jury sounded really interesting. I was the last non-alternate juror picked, and I danced out of the courtroom that day with glee and told everyone I met how excited I was. I dismissed all the eye rolling as jealousy, and prepared to enjoy the heck out of the experience. Obviously, I ended up broken hearted, let down by the San Francisco Criminal Justice System. It’s like it dumped me over text message! And then started dating my best friend! The case was full of people who had sad, sad lives; it was pretty clear that it wasn’t going to involve a lot of justice, and that it shouldn’t have gone to trial. Further, the judge was, well, a jerk! He made fun of the case and the lawyers. He didn’t appear to care if justice was being served. He started an hour late (at least) each day. The case that was supposed to take a week took three. At the end of the ordeal, I had a lot of funny stories (most of which I’ve forgotten, sadly) but no desire to be on a jury again.

I didn’t make on the jury this week, so it was a better experience. And I have some funny stories, this time, too! And suggestions! And some general observations! And some mouthing-off to do! And because it’s only been a few hours, I still remember all these things, and will share them with you. You’re welcome!

Judge Kathleen Kennedy, My Hero
Unlike Jerk Judge of a few years ago, the judge on this case was, like, totally awesome. She was very well organized, and given that we were going to be there a few days, she made things as convenient as possible for us potential jurors. She was clear in her instructions and started on time. She questioned each potential juror who brought up “issues” thoroughly, to determine if the person was just trying to dodge jury service, or if they had actual “issues”.  And perhaps most importantly, she is Jerry Brown’s niece! The truth is, I just found this out now when I googled her (because I followed instructions clearly and did no research on the case or the people involved while in the jury pool). I never see celebrities! I’m aware that she’s not actually a celebrity because her uncle is governor of California, but close enough. Shoot, if I’d known, I could have gotten her signature. I swear I liked her before I found this out.

Some Numbers

  • Number of initial jurors in the juror pool: Approximately 200
  • Number of jurors present on day two after hardship excuses were considered: 69
  • Number of people who made it to the jury box for questioning: 34
  • Number of people who are “you know, against domestic violence, so I can’t be on this jury”: 20
  • Number of alternates, who have to sit through the whole trial without talking to anyone about it, and can’t even deliberate when they are done, and so must be the most frustrated people ever: 3
  • Number of people on the jury who I, personally, think are responsible and intelligent enough to do so: 4. Well, 2. But that sounds harsh(er).
  • Number of people who initially didn’t want to be on the jury, but then thought to themselves that maybe this case would be better than the other jury they were on because the judge was awesome, but kept waffling about their desires, because the trial was projected to last over a month and only be in the mornings, Monday-Thursday, which would actually be more disruptive to life than  full days for a week or two, but then considered that being at work a half day was better than all day but won’t say anymore than that because it is inappropriate to blog about work: 1

Entertaining Story Number 1: Confrontation in the Jury Waiting Room
When you first report to the Hall of Justice in San Francisco (remember! Read my Yelp review. You’ll be glad you did! Possibly), you go to this huge room where you sit with everyone else who is reporting and watch a video from the 80s which explains what you’re about to go through. It’s pretty good, by the way: did you know that many jurors keep in touch after the trial? No? Me neither. So, this room was packed when I arrived, even though it was 10 minutes early because I am always early! Filled to the gills! Overflowing! People were standing, people were sitting on the floor! At some point, I looked up to hear a man asking a woman sitting at a table if the bags taking up the chair next to her belonged to someone else, or were hers; and if they were hers, could she move them?

“Where would I put them?” she asked him.

“You could put them on the ground,” he helpfully suggested.

“Huh! I’m not doing that!”  She said, and continued to read her magazine.

In a very calm, non-confrontational manner, he told her that he needed to sit down because he wasn’t able to stand very long on his foot, as it was injured. With a very large, audible sigh, but with her head still buried in the magazine, she moved it. On top of the table. The man thanked her, again without a hint of anger or annoyance.  Meanwhile, me and my neighbors were exchanging looks. Because, well.  How could you not have feelings about this?  One lady took it a step further, though.

“Well, that’s just horrible!” she said, quite loudly.

“Mind your own business!” magazine reading jerk-lady said.

Now, here is where things get kind of weird. The man told magazine lady to not worry about it, that people were commenting on a situation that only involved the two of them, and she should just ignore it. He said it in a tone of voice that smacked of professional conflict resolution training, or perhaps hostage negotiation experience. As if he realized she was ridiculous but his first priority was keeping anyone from getting shot. Sadly, the observer lady who just had to comment would not be silenced.

“It is my business when you are rude to a fellow juror! Doing his jury duty, in this crowded room!”

“You’re so annoying!” magazine woman said, still nose to glossy pages.

So: the weird things were this weirdly calm man, and this woman with these jerky tendencies who wouldn’t look up from her magazine. She never did!  I guess being called annoying was enough, and the commenter didn’t say anything else. By the way, the guy with the injured foot ended up in my jury pool, and was in the first 24 people called up to the box, and I was SURE he was going to be on the jury, since he didn’t claim he couldn’t be impartial and was generally pretty quiet and didn’t know any of the witnesses and also didn’t have a harrowing domestic violence story. But I was wrong.

Tragic Story Number 1: Violence
This case seemed to have something to do with domestic violence. Actually, the charges had to do with breaking a criminal restraint order, which apparently is only put in place when someone is convicted/admits a crime. At some point, the prosecutor asked some questions which led me to conclude that the victim in the original domestic violence case had requested/initiated/instigated the meeting that led to the order being broken. Oy! So many issues and feelings. Obviously, though, potential jurors were asked if they had any personal history with domestic violence. Here are some of the stories I heard:

  • One woman’s sister had an abusive husband who murdered his child and then committed suicide (more on this later).
  • Another’s sister had been in and out of mental institutions after being in an abusive relationship.
  • One man had to testify in court at the age of ten after seeing his father knock his mother’s teeth out.
  • One man watched his father hit  his mother throughout his childhood.
  • One woman was beat up in a BART station for no reason.
  • Another woman had a neighbor who was set on fire by her boyfriend.
  • One man’s best friend was stalked and raped by her stalker.
  • Several people had relatives that had been in abusive relationships.
  • And, lastly: two men had experience with women who abused men, but the men were accused unfairly and the evil women got away with it, both these men felt that probably a lot of men were unfairly accused of abuse. I’ll just keep my thoughts about this to myself.

This was in a group of 34 people. I did not get the feeling that any of these people made these stories up.

My Impressions of the Defendant:
This is totally inappropriate, but when I first saw the defendant, I was like “hey, that guy’s pretty cute!” But then, he turned around and he had the world’s stupidest haircut. It’s one I’ve seen before: it’s sort of buzzed everywhere except for this patch at the back of the neck that’s left longer. When I found out he was accused of something related to domestic violence, my first thought was “figures, look at that haircut”. My second thought was “Oh my god, I thought he was cute. I was attracted to this horrible abusive person, what does that say about me?”. My third thought was “Wow, I really am self involved!” Then I started to ponder how I would have said that I was a great potential juror, but that clearly, I, too, have “issues”.

Some Jerks in the Jury Box:

  • Guy who pretend that he didn’t believe police officers could lie.
  • Woman who claimed to believe that everyone who got hit probably deserved it.
  • Man who said he’s unable to tell when people are lying so he shouldn’t be on a jury.
  • Girl who said she believed in the presumption of guilt, not innocence.

Entertaining Story Number 3: The Guy Who Was Late
This morning, we were instructed to be in court at 9:15; both the 24 people who were called up to the jury box the day before as well as the rest of us sitting in the pool. Unlike the other two days, they didn’t take roll, so maybe a bunch of pool people didn’t show up, but the two people who were in the jury box who didn’t show up, well, that was obvious. The first person came a few minutes late and looked ashamed. We all sat around doing nothing for 15 more minutes, and eventually the judge told the clerk to report the no-show (one of the men who felt that women get away with a lot of abuse, by the by) back to the jury department, and we got started. About 10 minutes after that, he strolled in, book and coffee in hand. He was ejected from the jury. So I guess being really late is one way to get out of jury service. Of course, I got the feeling that he was going to be…punished.

My Advice to People Looking to Get Out of Jury Service
Look, I think it’s wrong to say stuff just to get out of jury duty.  I think you should tell the truth, and do your jury service like a nice person. I suppose if you really do “hate black people” or “can’t be impartial because obviously that guy is guilty” you should say so. I just doubt that most of the people who say those things actually mean them (although it takes a special kind of person to “pretend” to be racist).  However, if you are going to go that road, you gotta carry through. You can’t claim to be unable to be impartial because you just don’t believe cops lie or that someone who was arrested could possibly be innocent AND come off seeming like a reasonable person. If you’re choosing to make yourself seem unappealing, GO FOR IT. Because if you waiver, then the attorneys and judge have to spend 15 minutes questioning you. So, as horrible as the woman who claimed to believe that a) domestic violence should be kept secret and b) that if a person got hit, they deserved to was, she was in and out of there without wasting anymore time than necessary. She went All. The. Way.

Entertaining Story Number 4, Tragic Story Number 2: The Defense Attorney
The defense attorney seemed like a really jovial fellow. He was always putting his arm around the defendant and patting him on the back and such. He also completely misunderstood the testimony of  the potential juror who’s brother in law murdered his child and killed himself was telling. Maybe he took bad notes? Maybe he was dumb? Keep in mind (and you are just going to have to take my word for it) the story she told initially was very clear. It was something like “I have personal history with domestic abuse. My sister’s husband was abusive and killed their son and then himself”.  There was a bit of time between when she initially told the story and when he questioned her about it, so there’s that, but here’s approximately how it went down:

“Juror number 8, you mentioned your sister abused her son?”

“No, actually her husband abused her.”

“Ah, and you have a son? How is he involved?”

“No, I don’t have a son.”

“So…”

“My sister’s son was killed”

“Oh! I see. As a result of the violence in the household?”

“Yes, his father killed him.”

“I see. I’m very sorry to hear that. Did the case go to court? What was the outcome of the trial?”

“Um. There was no trial. It was a murder suicide, so…”

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m sorry, so the son killed the father then himself?”

(and on and on)

The really special thing about him was his metaphors, though. My favorite was the “Now, if you asked an airplane pilot if they could get you to your destination safely, when you were already on the plane, and they said, they’d try, how would you feel? How do you think the defendant feels with you saying your are going to try and be impartial?” Wow! Good analogy! It’s just the same. JUST THE SAME. He also was really fond of saying “put yourself in the defendant’s shoes! Would you want you for a juror?” Now, of course, it would be good if all jurors could think about how they’d like to be treated if they were on trial, but no one wants to think they’ll ever be accused of a crime. Also, yeah, I’d want me as a juror! I’m awesome, and I’m pretty sure I’d find me not guilty. Duh.  Also, he had a laptop and an iPad, and was using both at the same time even though the jury pool couldn’t even have our phones on. Lame!

My Surprise at Who They Picked for the Jury
When I left yesterday, I was pretty sure I knew who was going to be dismissed: I counted 6 people. Boy, was I wrong!  They got rid of 10, including all the stupid-excuse people and the people with personal history with domestic violence. So, then they had to call a bunch more people up. These people, who had all been watching carefully, knew exactly what to say to seem unappealing. I began to think they’d all get dismissed too, and even more people would be called up! And there weren’t many of us poolies left! But then, something weird happened. The prosecutor, who had passed most of his chances to dismiss people earlier, started dismissing all the people  from the first group who I thought were shoo-ins. The people who were quiet, or did not report any conflicts of interest or history with domestic violence. He let all them go! The final jury was made up of people who said they had difficulty understanding that it didn’t matter if they were against domestic violence as long as they could hear this case out fairly, people who claimed they couldn’t be impartial because their 4th cousin once removed had gotten slapped once, etc. I was shocked! I don’t know if this means I would be a bad lawyer, or they wanted stupid people on the jury, or they were rewarding the reasonable people (at the expense of the defendant?) or what. But it blew me away!

I think if there’s one thing I gained from this brush with jury service, it’s that it’s best to never, ever find yourself on trial, because chances are, the jury is awful. And they’re are judging your haircut.

Lady Police on TV

While I’ve been waiting for the latest seasons of all my favorite shows to become available on Netflix streaming, I’ve been maintaining my TV series binge watching habits with a few shows I might not have otherwise watched. (By the way, I’m pretty sure Netflix corporate strategy involves never having the most recent season of a TV show available, even years after it airs; why is that?) Weirdly, all three of these shows I’ve been watching are crime dramas featuring female police detectives. Obviously, I said “weirdly”, because women are weird, and it’s weird to feature them in TV shows. Amirite? Anyway, here is what I think about these three shows I watched. This might help you if you are also out of other stuff to binge watch on Netflix, or just really like crime dramas.

Top of the Lake
This show is about Peggy Olson if she had been born forty years later, in New Zealand, and became a police detective instead of an advertising copywriter. Not really, but when I started watching this show, I was pretty sure that I would have a hard time seeing past Elisabeth Moss’s famous role. But I didn’t! I guess this means she’s a good actress. Anyway, this is about the disappearance of a pregnant 12 year old in a tiny rural New Zealand town. I enjoyed this, but it was pretty hard to watch, since it’s about a PREGNANT 12 YEAR OLD. There’s all sorts of weird stuff going on in this town, and it’s one of those things where the setting is as much a character as the wacky personalities are. And shoot! These people are wacky. All of them. The main character has to deal with a lot of stuff (and I can’t talk about what without some spoilers, and I’m against those puppies, as you know) that reaches beyond the “boy, it’s tough to be a lady policeman!” stuff. I also managed to be surprised by the ending, but all the clues were there: I could have (should have) figured it out. Although I feel dumb when I don’t figure things out, it’s kind of cool, too. This was a mini-series, I think, so you can watch the whole thing now!  And you don’t have to wait for more, because there never will be any more! Go, go do it!

The Killing
I kind of remember when this show came out, but I recall thinking that it looked kind of unoriginal and boring. I gave it a chance, though, after watching Top of the Lake, because it seemed tangentially related. It started out okay. Okay, but not great. Good enough so that I kept watching, because I can only watch a few episodes of Extreme Couponing in a row before my bone marrow starts dripping out my eyeballs. As I said, it started out okay, but then it got really bad. Really fast. I think this happened around the second to last episode of the first season, but I hung in for the first few episodes of the second. This show is about the murder of a teenage girl and the investigation into it, by the way. It focuses on how a few different groups deal with the death and investigation: a team of detectives, the grieving family, and, you know, a guy running for mayor. Because, you know. Politics. Anyway, obviously the female detective is a BAD MOTHER and obviously the murdered girl was a SLUTTY PROSTITUTE with SO MANY SECRETS and then the mayoral candidate’s girlfriend lost faith in the mayor when it seemed like he was the murderer BECAUSE WOMEN AREN’T LOYAL and the grieving mother leaves her family and has some casual sex and IS MEAN TO HER HUSBAND.  And obviously all these women deserve to come to a bad end. You know. Anyway, save yourself some effort and don’t watch this. Boo, hiss. I note that the third season is out, but not yet on Netflix, so thank god none of us care. Because that third season will never, ever appear.

The Fall
I have no idea how this ended up in my queue. It looks like maybe it was a “Because you watched…” suggestion, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that originator was Top of the Lake. This show is about Dana Scully if she was about the same age as she always was, but was British and went into the police force rather than the FBI. Actually, I always found Scully a bit annoying, because although she was obviously the tougher, smarter of the two, she was always letting Mulder “protect” her. Anyway, this show is about a serial killer in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Gillian Anderson plays a top-dog police person from London who goes to straighten out the investigation into one of the murders. The gimmick is you know who the killer is from the beginning, and the show follows him in his life (he has a family! And a normal job! And is very handsome, but weird) in as much depth as it follows the investigation and the people involved. I am really enjoying this show: the bad news is that the first season was only five episodes, and just came out, and the second season hasn’t even been filmed yet, making the time till it appears on Netflix streaming approximately endless. I love Gillian Anderson’s character; she’s in charge of herself and her reports, and the show doesn’t show her struggling with herself to demand respect because she is a woman. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, but it’s pretty cliched, at this point. At first, I thought the part of the killer had been really miscast, but by the end of the last episode of the season, I had decided it was brilliant. Anyway, this is great. You should watch it, and then add it to the list of things in your queue that you’ll wait eons for the next season to appear.

Leata’s Thoughts on Summer Blockbusters

Some movies came out this summer, and I saw some of them. Mainly the big, action-packed, robot-sciencey-effects ones, because I figure these are the only kind of movies that are actually better in a theater. Amirite? So, you know, most of these movies aren’t in theaters anymore, and if my careful and thoughtful reviews make you want to see them, too bad! Well, except I guess they’ll be on DVD soon, if people still use DVDs. Or I hear that people are stealing movies from the Internet, which is really no good. I don’t do it. And not just because I’m fairly sure I’d be the one person who gets caught doing so and thrown in jail to teach the world a lesson. That is only about 82% of the reason. Anyway! Here we go, in no particular order, except for the order of the list I found on the Internet to help jog my memory about what movies came out in 2013 which might in fact be in order of how much money they made.

Also, sorry for the ridiculous number of links. Yes, I will apologize, but not remove them. Feel free to ignore.

Star Trek Into Darkness
This was pretty good, I guess. I’m okay that they’ve rebooted Star Trek, sure. I liked it better than the first one. I think whatshisface is a good Spock. Hey! Did you know that Benedict Cumberbatch’s fans are called Cumberbitches? I think they call themselves that. I hate that. Oh! Also, I guess people are upset that the character he portrayed (who I won’t name even though everyone knows who it is by now, because hey, spoilers are mean) was played by a white guy. This is weird. Because in the original boot of Star Trek, this character’s last name was typical  of a nationality the actor wasn’t. So, what are people looking for here? Sheesh. This explanation would have made more sense if I hadn’t worried about spoiling the spoiler. Sorry.

Man of Steel
Guh, this was pretty bad news. I actually liked the LAST reboot better. What is UP with all the reboots, anyway? Also, Superman will always and only be Christopher Reeve, to me. So, suck it, dark and angsty Superman.

Elysium 
I wanted to love this, because I loved District 9. But it was just so…obvious. Although, I’m glad the poor Earthlings were all trying to get up to paradise to get healthcare. Healthcare is a good focus for this kind of metaphor. Also, Matt Damon is pretty cool, even if I do often get him confused with Marky Mark (but check it! I’m not the only one, but I was doing it waaayyy before this), but how come all the Earthlings were non-white except the hero of the film? Huh? HUH? (I thought of that myself. Look at me, seeing racism everywhere. Except for Star Trek).

The Conjuring
I like me some scary movies and things, as I’ve discussed. This wasn’t just not scary, It was also trite and cliched. Now, maybe I just didn’t get grabbed from the get-go by the possessed doll, Annabelle, because I grew up with this monstrosity IN MY BEDROOM:

Horrible Doll

But in in any case, it didn’t do it for me. By the way, I successfully fobbed this horrid doll family heirloom off on Jan Holloway’s sister. I feel pretty bad about it, but I think she likes it. Also, when I was a kid, it had a way tattered, scary outfit on, so it was worse. WAY WORSE.

Human Centipede 2
How many times do I have to tell you guys to stay away from this bullshit? Why do you insist on discussing it? It’s disgusting.

Pacific Rim
I loved, loved, loved this movie. I know it didn’t get good reviews. I know. But who cares about reviews by experts when you can get Leata’s opinion? At first I just kind of loved it (Bob Holloway and I went to see it in a a fake IMAX theater with real IMAX prices), but the more I think about it, the more I love it. The love just continues to grow. Why? Here’s why:

  1. Giant robots.
  2. IDRIS ELBA IDRIS ELBA IDRIS ELBA.
  3. Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, even though, let’s be honest, his acting range is…limited.

I may or may not be about to ask my hairdresser to give me a hair cut like Mako Mori, which may or may not be a really bad idea because I don’t have the bone structure or hair-type as Rinko Kikuchi, but I may or may not care.  Also, I’m pretty sure that real-life kaijus are starting to appear.

World War Z
I really think that the producers could have saved themselves some money and made this movie under a different title, and not had to pay for the movie rights of the book. The two have nary but a few lines of dialogue in common. I imagine that wasn’t the original intention, but you know. It gets an “eh”. The book was pretty good, though. I don’t like these zombies, either. Also, amputation scene. NO GOOD NO GOOD.

Iron Man 3
I kind of think I saw this in the Spring, not Summer.  I also think I’m over the Iron Man franchise, but I guess this one was okay as far as Iron Man movies go. You know what? It’s been 3 or so months, and I have completely forgotten the plot. That can’t be a good thing. I do remember that there is too much Gwyneth Paltrow in it, but to be fair, any Gwyneth Paltrow is too much Gwyneth Paltrow. For me.

Updates! Updates!

As you probably noticed, because  you had to click through from some other place to get here, I recently moved from Blogger to this here domain name on WordPress which I bought with some of my hard-earned money.  Actually, I bought the domain name about a year ago. As you can see, it’s taken me a while to get everything just right! Nothing but the best for you guys! If anyone is still paying attention! Anyway, as part of the process for moving things from there to here, I did a little sorting and organizing and proofreading and chuckling and grimacing and editing.

As a way to jump back into the blogworld, I thought I’d share some of the thoughts I had on some of my old posts. I’ll just go ahead and add some links to the original discussions, because you probably have a few hours to re-read (or dare I hope, read for the first time? NEW READERS?).

  • I wrote a lot, and then some more, about Chobani Greek Yogurt. One of the most exciting things to happen was that I got some comments (sadly, my blogger comments didn’t make it over to leatawren.com because I am very, very lazy) from marketing companies from competing Greek yogurts AND strangers. STRANGERS.  Since then, Greek yogurt has become a cultural force. It’s pretty annoying.  There’s also the small issue that maybe Greek yogurt is hurting the environment.  I still like it, but now I feel guilty. Luckily, I enjoy guilt.
  • Paula Deen is a racist creep. There used to be a post about her, but I didn’t move it over from Blogger.  I defended her! I feel glum about the whole thing.
  • Speaking of racism, you’ll recall I posted about Game of Thrones. I don’t like it any better than I used to, and I’m tired of seeing headlines about people watching that one scene where everyone dies at a wedding. I experienced that when I read the book, and I didn’t pee my pants or whatever, so there. Anyway, now I can’t decide if the constant rapings or the racism is a bigger problem for me.  I’ll let you know what I decide.
  • As you may have heard, Susan G Komen For the Cure, host of that semi-arduous event I did,  is in the shithouse because they tried to screw over Planned Parenthood. This was a while ago, now, but I still pretend that my failure to sign up for anymore walks is because of that, and not a decision I made before that whole thing went down. But seriously, though.  LAME.
  • I am still a baseball fan. We’re going on four years now! Am I legit yet? Also, this.
  • I still like Toddlers and Tiaras, Words with Friends, and making fun of Twilight. Speaking of, that very post got a really exciting hate-filled comment from what I presume was tween a few months ago. It was full of things phrases like “u suc” and “i hate u” and “i hope you die”. Good times!
  • Nothing much has happened in regards to Craigslist, but goddamn it, that’s my favorite post of all time!

 

Scariness and Spookiness: Some Thoughts

One reason I love Halloween (and listen, there are many, many reasons. At least eleven, and only five of them are candy related) is that all sorts of “scary” stuff gets put out. I’m putting that in scare quotes (oh man! I’m on FIRE) because most of it isn’t actually scary. But! Good, non-quoted scary stuff is the best. Scary might be my favorite genre of stuff! Now, this material is available year-round, but there is a much higher concentration around Halloween. It’s time consuming to sift through books and movies and political ads at this time of year make sure you find something scary! I thought it would be helpful, therefore, for me to provide a list of things I find especially and actually non-quotes-scary. You’re welcome!

Here are some things which you should check out now:

This Story I Found on the Internet by this Guy Kris Straub

Yesterday I was noodling around checking out this cool list of freaky Wikipedia entries. I don’t remember how, but that led me around until I ended up reading this story, called Candle Cove. Now, okay. This is just super well-done. I don’t want to give anything away until you’ve read it (go do it! Go do it now!) but apparently it spawned a whole bunch of YouTube videos and stuff and a group of people claiming the show the story describes is real. This dewd created a little urban legend, all by himself! This is almost the perfect modern scary story to me. I wish I could write this. 

Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project

Okay, so. Yes, these are mainstream movies (that’s why I’m putting them as one entry, so you don’t think I’m a complete tool), so you might be poo-pooing them. But listen, these movies are really, really scary. On a first viewing, anyway. Maybe only on a first viewing, but so what? I think the “found footage” thing really works in these movies (but….pretty sure it’s done now. Stop, okay?). Neither one features any movie stars, and the characters look like actual people that you could meet on the street (this probably explains why none of them became movie stars after being the leads in hugely successful movies– although, there’s this girl). All this furthers the illusion that it could actually be some crap shot on a home video camera. Also, the sound! Scary noises! This probably goes without saying, but these movies both have several sequels. I do not vouch for them. Even though I saw them. Maybe in the theater. Whatevs. 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I think I’ve written about Shirley Jackson before. I’m too lazy to go back and look, but I think so. Anyway, she’s my favorite! She wrote a ton of scary-butt short stories, and she was really a short story writer, but one of her novels is this book. It’s one of those “is the house haunted, or is that girl just really effed up?” kinds of stories. I hear a lot about The Turn of the Screw, but I just can’t get into that. This I can get behind. Also, there are a few movie versions of this. They aren’t good. Don’t see them.

This Dream I Had One Time

Check it out, this dream I had one time when I was like, 9, was super scary. I dreamed that I was alone in my house (or was I?!) when I saw an arm reach out of a room down the hall and grab a box sitting there, in the hall. I’m reading this back and realizing it doesn’t sound that scary, but listen, it was. I’m getting chills even now. I mean, way scarier than that dream I had when I was 4 years old and I lied one night about brushing my teeth before I went to bed and then had a nightmare about a blob of toothpaste attacking my head. WAY WORSE.  

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Actually? A lot of this book is pretentious meta-bullshit. There! I said it! But the story-within-a-story about a house that…grows…or something is terrifying, I think because it’s a pretty novel haunted house concept. The walls move, the house is bigger on the inside than the outside…something about it really scared me; the thought of a solid structure growing. And I’m not even sure that scariness was the point. Honestly, I’m torn here. I don’t know whether I should tell you to read this or not. I know! You decide for yourself. How’s that? 

The Colour Out of Space by H.P. Lovecraft

I kind of hate cthulhu. But our buddy H.P. Lovecraft wrote some really scary short stories. This is one of them.You should for sure read it, but see if you can maybe find a copy somewhere for free, so you don’t have to read any cthulhu bullshit by accident. This isn’t about a haunted house or ghosts or demons or anything, either. It’s about a meteorite that crashes. There’s no axe wielding or blood or anything, either.

Finally, a note: if you find any of the Saw franchise scary, just forget all the above suggestions. You and I are on a different wavelength.

Update! Sports in Leatalife

So, remember back when I used to actually update my blog? With me so far? Good. Okay, now, remember that one time when I wrote about baseball? No? Why not? Some friend you are! Anyway, if you don’t remember, check this out. Done? Okay, now that you’re all caught up, I wanted to give you an update on my feelings about sports.

First of all, here is how my feelings on baseball have refined themselves:

  • I now know what the Ks stand for.
  • I still like the shorter pants better.
  • I still only really like the Giants, but I have respect for the As, too.
  • And the Mets, mainly because I am anti-Yankees.
  • Bob Holloway and I watched a 50 hour long documentary about baseball called Baseball, so now I have a fairly shallow understanding of the history of the game.
  • Based on that shallow knowledge, I am outraged that Ty Cobb is in the Hall of Fame and Pete Rose isn’t.*

What has really changed in the last year-and-some, though, are my feelings about football. As you noted in your careful re-reading of THIS POST (just another gentle reminder that to enjoy this post at its maximum level, you should read THIS POST first), I have never liked it. A few months ago, I decided maybe I should re-evaluate my stance. Why? First of all, I guess last year the 49ers almost did good or something? I remember hearing about that. And that seemed to fit with my bandwagon-jumping on approach to getting involved in sports fandom. Secondly, I watch the entirety of, and really enjoyed the TV series Friday Night Lights. I mean, coach was awesome. Also Matt Saracen. So, I started thinking about maybe starting to appreciate football. What did I decide?

It turns out I hate football even more than I used to! Here is why!

  • I just figured out that while professional baseball teams play approximately 30 games a week,** professional football teams only play one. I mean, anyone getting paid millions of dollars a year to play a game should at least have to play that came A LOT. Even if it does cause brain damage.
  • Football gave Webster’s dad dementia and then he died.
  • Friday Night Lights made me think that my conviction that the football players from my high school were scary and mean was unfair.
  • But then I looked at my old yearbooks, and realized I was right all along: those football players were pretty mean and scary!***
  • I kind of understand the rules now, and I am pretty sure it is the stupidest game ever.
  • Michael Vick. I mean in general, and also the fact that he gets to play again after murdering and torturing some dogs.

I know I should probably be more open minded about football, since I’m so into baseball (for three years and going strong!) but listen: my mind is closed for the apocalypse.

Just to cap things off, I’m still about the same on gymnastics, ice skating and the Rangerettes. I don’t like hockey or basketball any more or less than I used to (although I think a lot of the boys who played football at my school played basketball, too, so there’s that). And I still defiantly like soccer.

 

*I’m not even going to write about why, because I just doubt anyone who actually is interested is reading. But if not! Give me a holler!

** No, I know. This is an exaggeration.

***On the REALLY REALLY off chance that some ex-football playing classmate of mine is reading this…uh…GO COUGARS?! Ha?