A trivial rant

Isa kept both me and Alfred from working on our papers. We felt bad for her because her boyfriend got sick or something and her plans for the evening fell through. I understand, I felt pretty bad after the game1 too, but then Alfred and I got some chai latté’s and Thai food. I conveniently blocked out any knowledge of a football game and concentrated more on being warm.

Rather than go out, Isa, Alfred and I stayed in and played the 90’s Time Capsule Edition of Trivial Pursuit. Isa bought the game a while back, but we’ve only played once. We’re rather competitive, and in that game the ugly side of our competitiveness manifests itself. Isa kept threatening to hit me because I was answering more questions correctly (and probably gloating about it). I threatened to kick Isa out of the apartment since she isn’t technically on the lease. I can’t determine whether our meanness was just a side-effect of our mini rivalry or the alcohol, but it wasn’t good.

Last night, Alfred kinda cheated and he and Isa teamed up to help each other out so I wouldn’t win. Still, there were no fights or nasty competitiveness. However, Trivial Pursuit still left a bad taste in my mouth. Early on, these three questions came up in the important — “hard news” — categoy almost successively. Alfred, Isa and I each answered a different question.

What nation’s drug cartel hit-men gunned down countryman Andres Escobar for booting a ball into his own net during a soccer World Cup loss? (card 140)

What imprisoned drug lord was miffed to learn his brother’s million-dollar stallion had been adbucted and returned castrated? (card 295)

What drug kingpin, dubbed the “world’s greatest outlaw” was gunned down while fleeing one of his homes in Medellín, Colombia? (card 56)

We didn’t get any other questions about Latinos or Latin America after that except for one about Jennifer Lopez.

It seems like a coincidence. I mean, they can’t be deliberately trying to make Latinos look like drug lords? When I went back to the cards we had gone through I found a few other references to Latinos. Another in the viewing category, “the stuff you watched,” referenced Jennifer Lopez. Rubén Blades and the outcome of the 1994 Panamanian presidential election was the subject of another question. There was yet another question pertaining to drugs: What nation supplied 4 out of every 5 grams of cocaine consumed in the US?

Did other people of color fare better? Not really. We didn’t answer any questions about Native Americans or Asian Americans. The questions in reference to African Americans mainly concerned rappers, athletes, and crime.

What color did Dennis Rodman dye his hair in support of women with breast cancer, in 1996?
(card 266)

What gangsta rapper had just attended a Mike Tyson bout before he was fatally shot? (card 266)

Whose death did many believe was payback for the murder of Tupac Shakur? (card 269)

What rapper from the Wu-Tang Clan tried to change his name to the more accessible “Big Baby Jesus”? (card 270)

What rapper died before he could give the world more poignant songs like Fat Girl, Hit the Hooker, and Just Don’t Bite It? (card 101)

I probably have my Chicana/o Studies major and Critical Race Theory hats on too tightly. The unduly negative and stereotypical representation of Latinos and African Americans sucked out the fun of something that is “just a game.”

Oh well, at least Nelson Mandela was mentioned in a positive light: what Nobel Peace Prize winner said meeting the Spice Girls was “one of the greatest moments of my life”? (card 32).

Related: Still not a fetish.

[1 The game: yes, I know about the game. Yes, I watched it. No, I did not kick and scream. Yes, I know the score. You do not need to mention the score or anything about Reggie Bush ever again. I am sure Daily Texican will be glad to know that I am now a UT Longhorns fan. Come January 4th, I’d like to see UT have another Rose Bowl victory, but this time it will be for a national championship. Go Vince Young and UT!]

Ninety days

When my dad left the rehab center in Costa Mesa, he knew he was going to have to do 90 meetings in 90 days. The 90 day period was critical for some reason, but I forgot about it until last weekend.

Rather than do my assigned readings, I read a book that caught my eye in the library a couple months ago, Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. I’ve never been depressed, nor have I contemplated suicide. It’s about four people who meet New Year’s Eve on a roof. Rather than jump off — as they all had intended — and end their lives, they come down and form a gang that functions more as a support group. I like Hornby’s writing, so choosing A Long Way Down over something on academic capitalism was easy.

One of the Topper’s House four, Jess, brings up the notion of the critical 90 days.

“The other night, I was going to tell you about something I’d read in a magazine. About suicide. Do you remember? Anyway, this guy reckoned tgat tge crisis period lasts ninety days.”

“What guy?” JJ asked.

“This suicidologist guy.”

“That’s a job?”

“Everything’s a job.”

“So what?” said Jess.

“So we’ve had forty-six of the ninety days.”

“And what happens after the ninety days?”

“Nothing happens, I said. “Just… things are different. Things change. The exact arrangement of stuff that made you think your life was unbearable… It’s got shifted around somehow. It’s like a sort of real-life version of astrology.”

The ninety days came and went on Friday. All week I kept telling myself that I was finally going to do something regarding the situation with my estranged ex-roommate. I’ve put off talking to her for a few reasons. The primary one was because it was too difficult. It’s so much easier to put it off.

I considered writing a letter, but discarded that idea. I completely agreed with Oso in his explanation of why he believed he was not blessed with the art of gab

It just so happens I am not gifted at the art of gab. When I get in arguments with friends, which luckily is rare, I always find myself writing them letters instead of talking it out. The art of sincere conversation has never been mine… I cannot articulate my thoughts, not as I want them to come out. So I resort to irony, sarcasm, and total absurdity. No one takes me serious when I speak, certainly not myself, which is why the written word is a special refuge for me. My cave of sincerity.

I left a comment telling the story of what my friend, Chispa, told me a few years ago. She said, “Cindy, you should just stick to writing, because when you speak it just comes out all wrong.” I was slightly offended, but Chispa was right. She’s known me for seven years, and she’s felt me say mean and off-handed remarks.

A few years later, in an Atlanta elevator looking out towards Piedmont Park, my beau at the time admitted, “I’m crazy about you.” Without missing a beat, I responded “You’re just crazy.” I didn’t even know I was being mean until I told my sister, Lori, about the conversation. Lori is my litmus test and lets me know when I’ve crossed the line. It was only then that I realized I was an ass.

That is why I write. I’m less mean and more honest. If I try to have a difficult discussion with you in person, I’ll shut down when the conversation starts getting tought. Sometimes, I don’t completely stop talking, but it takes me several minutes to make a simple point. And I do get mean, just ask el Venado.

Oso’s post and the discussion in the comments helped me to figure something out. Sure, there are pros to writing letters, but as Abogado wrote, “they tend to be calculated which makes them devoid of passion.” Oso agreed with his co-blogger, “even though writing a letter is easier for you and me, a phone call is more fair, more honest, and more meaningful for the majority. We like the written word because we can be so exact, precise, clever, detached and thought out without interruption, but it’s also a safe way to hide from our friends’ deserving emotions.”

Today, I decided not to hide anymore from my voice. I still haven’t picked up the phone, because I thought just calling out the blue might be a little rude.

I may not have complete control of my tone of voice or what words come out, but ninety days have come and gone, and I need a resolution. Hopefully it won’t take another ninety days.

Blogueando con los angelitos

True blue Today’s LA Times Calendar section featured a piece called Blogging L.A. I read about it first on the group blog I contribute to, Blogging.la which also pointed out some omissions. One of the b.la contributors, Heathervescent, was featured on the cover in a beautiful photo. The piece itself is okay. It’s pretty short to actually cover the world of LA blogs. There’s only so much you can write about the media-watchers, political pundits and the individual bloggers who make the mundane readable. If you want to check out other LA-based blogs, you can also check out the sidebar featuring about 40 blogs broken up into categories like personal, food, neighborhood, politics and art.

Now, I got to admit. I was a little disappointed with the article. Writer Scott Martelle left out some great LA blogs, like Lotería Chicana! There’s a part of me that wants recognition, to be known and loved and fawned over. I want a cute and flattering photo in the LA Times. Just kidding… sort of.

I would have liked the article a little more if I felt it truly represented the scope of LA blogs. I know that’s hard to do with so many out there, but if Martelle had at least mentioned something written by Raza in a city where we make up a plurality (46.53%) he would have more accurately shown the “daily face” we LA bloggers show to the world.

My additions for some more notable LA-based blogs (I’ve never read the majority of blogs Martelle listed):

  • Noti Los Angeles: the first blog on politics in LA written in Spanish. Jaime Olivares doesn’t just write about City Hall or what’s going on in Sacramento. He also writes about national issues like immigration reform. A caveat, if you’re not bilingual, you’ll be missing out.
  • Art for a Change: Mark Vallen admits that he doesn’t focus on the art scene in LA, but it doesn’t matter. He has a lot of great insight on art and its relation to politics and general societal issues. I’d like to think that Chicana and Chicano artists have had a greater purpose than just painting pretty pictures, and I think Mark exemplifies that.
  • Tan Lejos y Sin…: Royrak, originally from Mexico City but now a resident of Simi Valley, puts my Miércoles de Mil Palabras photos to shame. His photoblog features tiny things like ants on a leaf as well as people dancing in Venice or simply living.
  • La Bloga: everything you wanted to know about Chicana/o and Latina/o literature, and more! Really, RudyG, Manuel Ramos Michael Sedano, Daniel Olivas, and Gina Ruiz often make me sad that most of the reading I do now is either blogs or stuff for classes. Most of the bloggers are from the LA area (Pasadena and the Valley). If you ever want recommendations on literature for any redear, even kids (Gina Ruiz’s specialty) then you must visit La Bloga.
  • Sleepwalking through life: Brenda is a fellow UCLA alumna who doesn’t update as often as I’d like. She comments here enough and often lends an ear when I need someone to listen. (Sidenote: I just realized she has a lot of chisme on me… oh well). Most of her entries are personal, but the types of things you can relate to even if you don’t know her. Plus, I’m generally enjoy well written pieces, even if I don’t know know the author or subjects. Recently, Brenda wrote a long and beautiful piece about her abuelita Chole. She writes, “She was an incredibly strong women, who managed to balance tradition with change, and wasn’t afraid of what people would think of her, or her family.” La abuelita Chole seems cool, she even called Robert Smith el Greñudo.
  • Kick Some Soul: I know she’d rather be in New York, but she has some interesting things to say and show (nice photos!) about life in this city.
  • Xispas: the companion blog to Xispas Magazine based in San Fernando. Xispas is “the place to learn about Xicano culture, art, and politics. We deal with culture, history, indigenous traditions, books, opinions, and social criticism.” The CyberAztec posts frequent pieces on upcoming events in and around LA, such as the Aztec Corn Festival in July.
  • LAist: okay, so it’s not by Raza and I don’t think they have any Raza on staff, but Jason Toney is the editor and he does a great job of trying to cover what’s going on in and around the city. Plus, Martelle also left them out and that just sucks.

I wish this list was longer. I’m still on the look out for more Blogotitlecos in LA.