Sarah H. Haught is Pediconferencing [Fierce Anticipation]

Fiercely Anticipating… June 24th

What happens on June 24th you ask? Well then you clearly don’t have the borderline-unhealthy Aaron Sorkin obsession that I do. That’s right kids, the Emmy and Oscar Winner’s latest TV offering, The Newsroom, premieres on HBO in just a few short weeks, and I, for one, can’t wait. The pithy banter, the speechifying, the pediconferencing (walking and talking, for the uninitiated), the orchestral music swelling under climaxes of righteousness and do-goodery… What’s not to love?

OK, yes, that’s not how people really talk. But don’t you wish it were? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all walked around our respective workplaces engaging in informed and witty discourse on the moral and ethical dilemmas of our day? Everyone in Shakespeare’s time didn’t speak in iambic pentameter and incessantly debate the nature of the soul, but that guy’s plays were still wicked popular. I’m not saying Sorkin is Shakespeare (though the authorship debate is so whack-a-doodle I bet someone out there is), but there’s something to be said for theatricality, especially when it renders entertainment that is thought-provoking rather than mind-numbing.

That being said, nobody likes being preached at, and Sorkin is at his worst when ideology trumps character-driven storytelling (hostage negotiations from the green room of a sketch comedy show? Seriously Studio 60?). But The Newsroom, much like The West Wing before it, places its characters in an environment where big issues are the order of the day. After all, the news shapes our view of the world. I certainly hope the people that broadcast it are conscientious and concerned. And if the current spat of cable news programs seems to indicate otherwise, at least in Sorkin’s newsroom we’ll be able to pretend.

Trepidatious About… My Birthday

Don’t worry; this isn’t one of those whiny one-year-older-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life posts. Au contraire. Being new to Los Angeles, I’ve decided to mark the occasion by going to the Getty Villa for the first time.

So why is a day strolling amidst Etruscan antiquities in gorgeous Malibu not in the Fierce Anticipation category? Because I am one of the rare breed of freak that does not own a car in L.A. (We really do exist!) and it’s going to take me almost two hours to get there on the bus.

Normally this wouldn’t bother me. Public transit allows ample time for reading and research, and the pleasures of smooth pavement and those comfy Metro seats are not lost on me (I’ve spent a lot of hours “off-roading” in the developing world). But I can’t help but worry whatever birthday peace of mind I find in the beauty of ancient art and artifact will be crushed by the unmedicated schizophrenic who will inevitably sit next to me on the ride home.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s often great wisdom to be gleaned from the passionate monologues of these folks. I’m just not sure that I’ll be in the right headspace after my idyllic afternoon to really appreciate that “Slaves stole from the Masters that’s why Bruce Lee fought Chuck Norris.” Maybe I should just get a Zipcar. But that would cost a lot more. And besides, if I’m driving, no one can school me in “beatin’ them bitches in small claims court.” Now that could come in handy some day.

Not Looking Forward To… July 1st

Because that is the day that California’s foie gras ban goes into effect. Now, I have neither the means nor inclination to eat foie regularly, and while I have been called a foodie (does that word bother anyone else?), I could really care less about the argument that California chefs will fall from the heights of the culinary stratosphere because of this handicap.

What bothers me is the principal of the damned thing. According to the New York Times, former California legislator John Burton (who wrote the law) has likened the centuries-old tradition of foie gras to waterboarding and female genital mutilation. I want to smack him and say, “Except those latter two are done to HUMANS, not ducks or geese, you moron!”

OK, that might be a bit harsh, but come on, aren’t there better things we could be legislating? Do we spend our time and money making piddling laws like this because we’re too scared to deal with the complicated notion of making the world better for the people in it? I know, I know, animals are cute and sweet (except ducks, ducks are assholes) and innocent, but so are children. Why don’t we transfer some of our righteous indignation (and funding) toward helping them, at home and abroad?

Hey, I have an idea! Rather than ban foie gras, just tax the shit out of it. This will reduce consumption (it worked for smoking) and in so doing allow more time and TLC to be spent on the subsequently smaller number of ducks and geese used for the purpose. Then chefs and food snobs can still partake in this holy grail of cuisine if they are willing pay handsomely, and that money can, in turn, be used for something that’s actually useful, like getting my friends on the bus their pills.

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