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Jeffrey Hitchin

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Please look up "tolerance" and "free speech" because you don't quite grasp the meaning [Nov. 21st, 2014|01:52 pm]
Jeffrey Hitchin
[mood |mad]

Recently, people on Twitter have started a campaign to show support for a certain reality TV show family known for their reproductive habits and their religious views. Because of some recent political touring by the parents of the family as well as one of the eldest children taking a job with the Family Research Council (an anti-gay hate group), many people have asked The Learning Channel to take their show off the air due to the resulting anti-gay rhetoric.

While the ultimate decision is up to the network, what's been making me nuts is seeing people say things like, "You keep asking for tolerance. Why can't you tolerate this, then?" and "I suppose you liberals don't like free speech when you don't agree with it."

First off, the First Amendment only guarantees the right to not be jailed by the government for things you say. That does not mean that if you spout off something that riles a lot of people that consequences will not happen. Remember the home improvment show that was canceled before it started filming because the two hosts campaign for criminalization of homosexuality? They're still going to malls and preaching about it, are not in jail because they're saying it, but yet not getting a TV show due to their incendiary rhetoric is a violation of their free speech. Sorry, guys, it's not. This tired, hackneyed argument keeps getting thrown out every time something bad happens to someone with an unpopular opinion and I really wish people would just knock it off and understand what our free speech rights actually are.

Then we get to tolerance. Tolerance, to me at least, means you live and let live. If you believe that gays shouldn't be allowed to marry and that they should be jailed for just being gay, that's your right. Believe it all you want, I know I cannot change your mind so I'm just going to let you live your life unimpeded and will expect you to extend to me the same courtesy. In this case, these people are actively campaigning to nullify my marriage and in the case of the FRC, criminalize my very existence. So I'm supposed to tolerate people attempting to subjugate my rights and possibly arrest me for just being who I am?

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
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Why "Christmas in the Stars" didn't make my list of bad Christmas music [Nov. 18th, 2014|03:28 pm]
Jeffrey Hitchin
[Tags|]
[mood |okayokay]

I don't know if you've been fortunate enough to have heard the travesty of Star Wars memorabilia that is "Christmas in the Stars" but it's on par with the "Star Wars Holiday Special" in terms of overall horrible badness. There's one cute track on it ("What Do You Get a Wookiee for Christmas [When He Already Owns a Comb]?") but the rest of it is pretty painful.

So why did this not make my list? Because you never hear it on the radio. You're not going to walk into a mall and hear Jon Bon Jovi warbling, "R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas" anytime soon. Whereas "The Christmas Shoes" will still crop up in the mall and on the radio when you least expect it and when you certainly do NOT want to hear it. If you're listening to anything off of "Christmas in the Stars" you made the choice to do so, so it's your own fault that yours ears are bleeding.
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It's not over yet, not even close [Nov. 16th, 2014|10:03 pm]
Jeffrey Hitchin
[Tags|]
[mood |okayokay]

Tonight my sister and I were having a quick chat over Facebook instant messaging where she told me she had been at a talk with Benedict Cumberbatch about his new movie where he plays Alan Turing. She had heard of Alan Turing in relation to computing, but she had not known about his final days, and how he committed suicide because otherwise he would have had to either be chemically castrated or go to jail for simply being a homosexual. She said, "I can't believe that kind of thing went on back then."

I blinked, then typed back, "It's STILL happening!" I followed this up with information on Uganda, Russia and India. While I might be married with full marriage benefits here in the US, there are still places where being gay is a crime.

While I think she had some idea of what has been going on in the world, I don't think she really got it until she talked to me tonight.
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On the front lines during the holidays [Nov. 14th, 2014|10:18 am]
Jeffrey Hitchin
[mood |okayokay]

Like every year of late, there has been a push by some folks to not shop on Thanksgiving. Stores have taken to being open at midnight, then 9 p.m., and nowadays even earlier for "Black Friday" sales, even though it's still Thursday. On social media, most people I know fall into one of two camps: 1) All retail should be closed on Thanksgiving; 2) Retail can be open because some people need the money that working on a holiday would provide, but I won't be shopping.

Back when I was doing retail and customer service work, I worked every Thanksgiving and Christmas. First I worked at a cell phone company and you'd better believe there was an onslaught of calls on Christmas by people who couldn't figure out their phones. I then worked at an internet service provider and we were open on holidays there because people were paying for a service and management decided that someone should be there to take care of them in case someone days call, though it was a shortened work day. In both cases I got paid extra for working the holiday and every one of those dollars was needed at the time.

So I definitely fall into camp 2. In my perfect world, retail workers would get paid more for working the holiday, and there would be little to no foot traffic going on during that time perioed. Of course, I'm not naive enough to think that people are going to stay home and not visit these sales. I've seen the videos of rampaging hordes of people running into a store when it opens. I've read the stories of workers trampled to death as the tsunami of bargain hunters overtakes them.

But I've been there. done that as far as working the holidays go.  All I can say is these folks do not get paid nearly enough for this kind of thing.
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A little yuletide murder [Nov. 13th, 2014|12:01 pm]
Jeffrey Hitchin
[Tags|, ]
[mood |okayokay]

Having grown up with mystery novels surrounding me, I have, of course, read many books that take place around Christmas. For some odd reason, none of them stick out in my head with a couple of exceptions.

Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod
This is the first Peter Shandy novel and is one of the better books in the series. At some point around The Curse of the Giant Hogweed the series descended into complete silliness and seemed to forget the mystery part of the plots. In this book, though, Professor Shandy, fed up with the requirement to decorate his house for Christmas goes way overboard on the lights and loudspeakers and then leaves town. When he gets back, the librarian who demanded he decorate is found dead in his house, and it looks like she was killed while attempting to remove the decorations.

We Wish You a Merry Murder by Valerie Wolzein
This is the third Susan Henshaw novel, but the first that was a paperback original. The reason this one sticks out in my head is Susan actually figures things out herself and there's even a "gathering of suspects" scene at the end where she lays out the solution. Most cozy mysteries, even at the time this was published in the early 90's, would have the "detective" poke around until the killer decides enough is enough and attempts to kill the protagonist. Ther's no actual detection. This one has detection, and it's cozy east coast suburbia.

Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke
One in the long line of Hannah Swensen books that take place in Minnesota, revolving around Hannah's bakery The Cookie Jar. In this case the local Christmas tree lot owner is murdered and the ensuing investigation. This one sticks out because Hannah makes a plum pudding out of actual plums. Yes, it is explained what plum pudding actually is and why she used actual plums. The Mike and Norman back and forth romance thing with Hannah has already gotten a bit stale by this point, but the recipes are always fun to read and the book is breezy and goes by quickly.
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The holidays bring out the worst. In music, that is. [Nov. 12th, 2014|01:58 pm]
Jeffrey Hitchin
[Tags|]
[mood |okayokay]

Yes, Thanksgiving is within spitting distance and Christmas is just around the corner. Some places I've been to are already playing Christmas music, and this year, like pretty much any year, I'm dreading hearing certain songs:

"The Christmas Shoes" by NewSong
Patton Oswalt has a routine about this song which you may want to find and watch as it is funny, although crude. My objection to the song is the melodrama is way overdone, the vocal quality is pretentious (it's what I call conspicuous singing, in that the singer sounds like he's trying to say, "Look at me! I'm SINGING!" by going overboard on the vocals) and the ending is so arrogant on the part of the singer that it sets my teeth on edge. One should feel joyous after a good Christmas song, not mad enough to slap somebody.

"Christmas in the Northwest" by Brenda Kutz White
This one is more cloying than anything else. With lyrics like, "Christmas in the northwest / It's a dream we all can share / Christmas in the northwest / It's a child's answered prayer" it never fails to give one a cavity. Besides, I've heard the prayers of many children in my time and none of them ever looked like Christmas in the northwest. The artist also tries to rhyme "tree" with "green" which is a bit slanted for my tastes.

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo & Patsy
While many view this particular song as a classic, I do not. I didn't particularly like it when I first heard it back when it was initially released, and I don't like it now. Somehow, having an elderly woman getting killed on the way home in a bizarre sleigh accident, then describing the injuries in graphic detail doesn't quite say happy holidays to me. I know people like it, and I know of at least one caroling group who learned it purely because it gets requested, but I really don't like this song.

"Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney & Wings
This is on a lot of people's bad Christmas song lists for various reasons, but the reason it's on mine is it's repetetiveness and the bridge which has a lot of "Hoo! Hoo! Hooo hooo!" which grates on me.

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A period of inactivity [Nov. 11th, 2014|11:37 am]
Jeffrey Hitchin
[Tags|, ]
[mood |sadsad]

Last week I did something I didn't think I would be doing at this point in my life: I told SAG-AFTRA that I was no longer actively looking for union work. This does not mean that I can now take non-union work; I didn't resign from the union, I just said that I was not going to be actively looking for union work. This means I will not owe union dues while at the same time not being able to work on anything else.

Why, you might be asking, would you do this? Well, in the first place, I haven't gotten any SAG-AFTRA work in a while and there is none on the horizon in the next year at least so there was no good reason to continue paying dues for absolutely nothing. In the second place, it's not like there's mountains of non-union work here, either. The non-union work out here is mostly unpaid and I'm not doing that. Not anymore.

Yes, this depresses me. At this point, I now have no hope of any acting in the short term. For those of you who don't understand why this is so depressing, think of something you love doing way down in the core of your soul. Something you do all the time. Something that gives you joy. Now think about not being able to do it again. While it's not like having an actual limb amputated, it still feels like something is missing.
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Something stage actors will catch that others may not [Nov. 5th, 2014|12:14 pm]
Jeffrey Hitchin
[mood |okayokay]

I recently ran across the BBC video of "God Only Knows" that has a crapton of famous singers in it. Because I've done so much stage singing, I now notice how often people sing "choo" instead of "you" in these songs. For example, Brian Wilson sang it, "God only knows what I'd be without you..." Whereas several of the other singers (many of whom I couldn't identify) would sing, "God only knows what I'd be withow choo..."

I was disabused of singing "choo" (among other word smushes) when I did choral work at first, and then when I did my sole Gilbert & Sullivan show this came up again so now I say the ending consonant of the previous word and sing "you". I'm quite deliberate about it. When I did a production of "A Christmas Carol" last year and we were singing a wassail song, I remember almost singing staccato during "our bowl it is white" just so bowl and it wouldn't smash together into one word.

This does not help when singing other languages, however. In Spanish (for example) if a word ends in a vowel and the next word starts with one, the last syllable of the first word and the first syllable of the second word get munged together. Oh, and words that start with h count since h is silent in Spanish. For example, in "Eres Tú" there's a line "como el fuego de mi hoguera" which on first blush would require ten separate notes to sing, one per syllable. But you only get eight because como and el are smushed together (sung "coh moel") and mi and hoguera are smushed together (sung "mio guera").

And this, folks, is why I love language so much.
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Seriously, you could wish that on a 14-year-old? [Nov. 4th, 2014|01:03 pm]
Jeffrey Hitchin
[mood |okayokay]

My sister sent me a snippet of a review posted somewhere about "Madam Secretary" where the poster praised Tea Leoni's performance and said that he or she loved the cast with some exceptions and especially excepting Evan Roe "who I'm hoping will be soon smothered by a cat as he lays in his sleep."

Now, first off, the verb lay is missing an object, but that's beside the point. If you don't like the performance, just say so. But to wish death on a fourteen year old boy because you think he is playing his part poorly or possibly too well (in that the poster could not separate the actor from the role) is just chilling. What kind of sociopath do you have to be to believe that imprecation of this magnitude is appropriate?

Okay, okay, full disclosure: Evan Roe is my nephew and of course I feel protective of him. I'm proud of the job he's doing on the show and he has had some great character moments that show he knows what he's doing as an actor. In the most recent episode I found the character of Stephanie McCord to be particularly obnoxious. But I would not wish death on Wallis Currie-Wood. On "Grimm", I would prefer that the character of Adelind Schade not keep cropping up. But I sure as hell do not want Claire Coffee to die. She's doing a fantastic job with the role even though I wish the character was not on the show.

A friend on Facebook stated that Steven Moffatt "NEEDS TO DIE!" today as well. Okay, I get that you don't like the direction he's taking your favorite show in, but come on. Why is this almost normal?
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When bad judgement meets Halloween costumes [Oct. 29th, 2014|10:25 am]
Jeffrey Hitchin
[mood |okayokay]

I, like a lot of my friends and family, are sick of the "sexy" Halloween costumes trotted out every year for women. Someone must be buying them if they're still for sale. Still, on the bad judgement scale, it's only hovering somewhere in the middle.

What completely flummoxes me are the folks who think it's funny to dress up as a person convicted or suspected of domestic abuse and the victim of said abuse. This year, for example, I have seen photographs of several men dressed as Ray Rice along with either a woman with bruises and scrapes, or with a life-sized doll that has been beaten severely. To say this is not funny would be a gross understatement, at least for me.

Maybe someone else can explain why a person would think this a good choice of costume, but I certainly can't.
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