Friday, June 22, 2007

Pay not attention to the man behind the Curtain

Sometimes I worry a lot that I'll always be stuck in between the realms of the uninitiated and the expert. This seems to be a theme with me. Everything I get praise for, it's usually things that I know I don't do well enough to be seriously good at, just good enough to draw praise from the rubes like, say, a bright shiny object. Guitar, photography, public speaking, pretty much everything...I can pull a couple old tricks that make people with no experience think I'm I'll strum some song in open chords on the guitar, and to someone who can't play the guitar that's pretty cool. But someone who can actually play knows its crap. Or photography...I might take a picture that's flawed in terms of GOOD photography, but it is enough to impress people who aren't really into photography. Or I know enough about computers to fix your mouse driver, but a real IT person knows Jack of all trades syndrome I suppose, but I just feel like a charlatan a lot. It would be nice to really excel at something. Something where I'm really a pro, not just a little better than average. I haven't found that yet. I guess it's good that I realize just because someone who knows nothing about subject X is impressed by my meager effort, it doesn't make the efforts good in an absolute sense.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Goin' to the chapel and I'm....

...gonna be pen-ni-less now....

The American wedding industry continually amazes me. Let me preface this by saying I grew up in a small town. 900 hard-working, god-fearing, deer-huntin' folks. I never heard anyone discuss their registry at Macy's. Or complain about the inability to find a decent set of silver toasting goblets.

Weddings were a simpler affair. You got married at the church you went to every sunday. You had some friends and family there, not the western hemisphere. You had a small reception at the fire hall, or at a relative's home. It was intimate, and informal. I mean, it wasn't as simple as clonking a girl on the head and dragging her back to your cave (though that is an apt description of our proms...) but in relative terms, our weddings were about the bride and groom.

I'm in the midst of planning my own wedding now. We've decided a simple wedding just wouldn't be enough challenge. So, girding myself for battle in armor composed primarily of the contents of my once-thriving bank account, I waded into the arena of modern weddings.

Oh, the humanity. I find it hard really to express my hatred of the wedding industry at this point. Not that I'm so upset that I can't think's more an academic exercise in trying to find a word or phrase that truly encapsulates how I feel. I started with "shocked", then moved on to "seething", with a brief stopover at "complete disbelief". I settled into "a fury not unlike the white hot burning radiance of the stars" for a bit, and now I'm drifting along to "quiet desperation".

The amount of money people pay for things like photography ($4000.00, which is on the cheap end of our choices) or dresses (several thousand...I'm not allowed to know the exact amount) makes me think that their eyes have bypassed the under-utilized feedback loop of their brain, and are connected directly to their wallet, which in the white lace haze of wedding frenzy, seems magical, never-diminishing in funds. When I question the exhorbitant prices of some of the more esoteric items the wedding industry tells me I NEED, I am often met with the answer, from all sides, that "that's just what it costs". No, that's what little girls raised on some bizarre suburban barbie dream are willing to pay for it because we've lumped approval and identity and status into what should be a ceremony about committment. Instead, we are left with nothing short of a Crusade. And not the "hey we might actually win, look we just retook Jerusalem" version, but the ill-thought through "hey lets send the CHILDREN to fight because they're so innocent" type of Crusade. Instead this time, the Children actually make it to the battleground where they are slaughtered under the sharpened swords of the wedding industry.

China is what really gets me. Here we are....7 years into a new millenium, with a new lifestyle, a new virtually interconnected world that is ironically more physically isolating, and yet we are still regsitering for gifts based on some sort of 1940 Housewife's juicy dreams. China is the perfect example. Unless one 1) holds elegant dinner parties on a regular basis, 2) is landed aristocracy, or 3) has a plate fetish, why does the average couple need china? Hey, lets pay a LOT of money for excessively fragile dishes we will only use for one or two meals a year, if that, in order to live up to some housewares-as-archaic-status-symbol lust we inherited and never questioned, even though they don't really look that much different from the average corellewear fare one might find at establishments that also sell such finery as singing fish plaques. China seems to me the most useless investment ever, but under the unblinking Sauron-esque eye of TRADITION, we all happily register for it, pack it away, and get back to American Idol like good little consumers. Can you imagine this Price:Use ratio for any other good? "Hey, I'd like to buy the best TV you have....but I'm only going to watch VERY SPECIAL programs on it, like twice a year. The rest of the time I'll use my day-to-day TV". see?

This could be error.

Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to get married, it's going to be great. It's just the plague of material wedding "necessities" that are eating at me in an endless Promethean manner. getting married by Vegas Elvis seems saner with every passing week. There's no pretense or gouging with vegas Chapel Elvis. He is pretty much what you see is what you get. Vegas Elvis is like unto a paragon of virtue compared to the scum and villany of the Wedding industry. When I found out Boone had worked for a wedding company, part of me started cheering for the Others.

I love my fiance. I love getting married to her. I love having a party for my friends and family. I don't like the twisted excess of the american megawedding.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In Media Res

So, a good half decade or more after the advent and flurry of blogging, I have dragged my late-adopting self into the virtual frontier and staked my claim on 40 acres of intarweb wilderness. (I believe I was supposed to receive a mule as well, but have attributed my lack of donkey to the overwhelming allocation of jackasses to the blogs on the right side of the blogosphere...)

My name is Justin Bower.
I shoot pretty pictures,
drink good beer,
tell bad jokes,
wander in the woods a bit,
occasionally write things,
and try to be good.

Everything else is details.