Wednesday, April 01, 2009

 

100 Movies To See Before You Die



Because you won't enjoy them as much after you die.

Yahoo! has put together one of those lists. I've seen 65 of their 100.

It's a source of great shame for me that I still haven't watched Lawrence Of Arabia. My buddy Otis gave it to me for Christmas five or six years ago and I still haven't watched it. Because I suck.

HT for the link: My friend, Kelley, who doesn't keep a blog but does have a Myspace page. Kelley's a huge movie buff, too ... but he and I never like the same movies.

Wait, I take that back, we both liked Training Day quite a bit. Other than that, if we agree on any given movie, it's usually because we both think it stinks.

Kelley even found some good things to say about Rob Zombie's Halloween, a movie I hated. Deep down I think he's only doing that to mess with my head. ;)

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

 

Quotes From The Big Screen



Scott at Good News Film Reviews has been posting some excellent movie quotes lately and it's got me thinking about some of my favorites.

Here are some of the ones that have popped into my head. Some will be very easy to recognize, some are obscure, and many of them won't make any sense at all if you aren't familiar with the context. I'm not saying these are the best movie quotes of all time, I'm just saying that they've popped into my head lately. You can click the quote itself to see the source. Think of this as a little trivia quiz.

Have I done this before? Probably. Heck, I've probably even used these same quotes before. Anyway ...


Hope that provided somebody with some shits n' giggles.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

 

Jack Ruby And Frosted Flakes



Somehow it makes perfect sense to me that the guy who owns Jack Ruby's hat also bought a Frosted Flake shaped like Illinois for $1,350 on e-Bay.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

 

Elbowed Squid



In case you haven't seen it ...

A Shell Oil remote-controlled deep-sea camera videotaped this strange squid about a mile and a half down in the Gulf of Mexico. This guy has elbows:

The squid is kinda noteworthy because it's a Magnapinna. The squid family Magnapinnidae (named because of their large fins, also visible in the video clip) only has four known species as of now. Science has only known about this family of animals for ten years or so.

Shell is one of many oil companies that collaborates with marine biologists, contributing to the scientific communities' understanding of these squid and other species of oceanic life. Because, you know, big oil doesn't care about the environment, etc.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

 

Fun With Chickens



I'm a country boy, I grew up around chickens. I always thought they were stupid animals. Thanks to this video, I now realize that they're not stupid ... they're friggin' aliens, man:

Of course, I never once picked up a chicken to see what kind of neat chicken-head-tricks they could do. If I had only tried that, even once, I'd have been suspicious of chickens all along.

Note to self: Remind kids to never give me a chicken for Father's Day.

Oh, and if you liked that video, two things: One, you're weird, like me. Two, click this for the sequel, a video with 100% more cute baby participation.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

 

RickRolling Macy's



You had it coming, America:

It's neat to see that this guy has a good sense of humor about himself and the RickRolling phenomenon.

By the way, I have never been RickRolled. Not as of yet, anyway. But Wendy got RickRolled just the other day and I thought it was hilarious.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

 

It Boggles The Mind



Hat tip to Jerry at From On High for pointing out that Planned Parenthood now offers gift certificates.

I. Do. Not. Get. It.

Maybe if everyone at the office goes in on a gift certificate, we can surprise Shelia with that abortion she's been wanting?

Does it come with fries?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

 

MCFAT XXIV



MCF's latest round of probing, exhaustive inquiries.

1) Is it good or bad when sitcoms feature celebrity guest stars?
I don't like sitcoms. I tend to feel that the writing, acting and directing in sitcoms is generally bad to awful. So when a movie star makes an appearance on a sitcom, my gut reaction is to wonder that he or she apparently needed a paycheck badly. Or maybe that he or she owed someone a favor.

That's different, though, when celebs show up as guest voices on the Simpsons. The Simpsons is the best thing American TV has ever produced, and well worth the time of anyone with actual talent.

Of course, all of this is just my opinion, and I insist that you brush it off and disregard it. I clearly don't know what I'm talking about and should never be taken seriously.

2) What is the most shocking thing you've seen on the internet?
Some of what comes to mind would include the following:
  • Most recently, a blogger who shall remain nameless (except to assert that his name is and has always been Michael Wayvid Whorenelli), posted a link to what turned out to be a series of upsetting photographs of dogs who had been mutilated "in the name of science" by insane Europeans.

    As a dog-lover, I had a terrible time looking at those pictures and I'm still suppressing the urge to get revenge by gathering up some scientists, chaining them to a tree and forcing them to "do their business" in the yard.

    In the future, I'd like to suggest a new web-speak acronym for these kinds of posts. You know the kinds of acronym's I'm talking about. Stuff like NSFW (Not safe for work) or OMG (Oh, my God!) or ZMOG (Zebra meat on grill!) Posts involving links to mutilated dog pictures should include something like


    WBC
    TLYMU
    SPOAAMD
    AMFTUTTE
    TYHTSTROTER
    AITFWYODUYFBA
    WYUSBOTCASIOMWW
    STBKATHHOLFOMBSDPP*.

    *TWLEOTFAHAIPFLOT"A"



    Obviously, that would stand for "Warning, by clicking this link you might unintentionally see pictures of abused and mutilated dogs and might find that unbearable to the extent that you have to spend the rest of the evening rolling around in the floor with your own dogs until you feel better about what you've unwittingly seen because of the crass and shocking indifference of Michael Wayved Whorenelli, soon to be known as the Hugh Heffner or Larry Flint of mutilated-by-scientists dog-pictures pornography.*

    *Though with less emphasis on the first amendment. He's apparently involved purely for love of the 'art.'"



  • One of the first "dark side of the internet" sites I ever heard about was the infamous Rotten.com. I remember spending half an hour or so looking at that site for the first time. You have to be very careful about what you click there. Maybe you'll see something relatively harmless or silly ... or maybe you'll see something altogether different that will make you want to jump up, run outside and scream for the neighbor to come close your browser window for you so that you'll never risk seeing it again.

  • The hanging of Saddam Hussein was a bit of a net sensation. It bothered me and I wrote about it.


  • I understand that there is also a video out there called "two girls one cup." I haven't seen it, but I have had the video's action described for me by an enthusiastic young man who seemed to have (barely) more teeth than braincells. About fifteen seconds into his vivid description I had to request that oxygen and an epidural be administered if I were going to have to hear any more. Since nothing of the sort could be provided, I opted to walk away, even though doing so meant going back to the work I was supposed to be doing at the time.

3) Is it possible to have too much free time?
If you've read anything ... ANYTHING ... at this blog, you know that the answer is yes.

4) Inspired by a recent Dwight Shrute monologue, I ask you: what's your perfect crime?
Inspired by Guns N' Roses, I'll answer you thus:



"You wanna f--- with me? Don't f--- with me.
I'm what you'll be, so don't f--- with me."



SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: What (animated) fictional town offers a whirlwind existence, race cars, lasers, airplanes, mystery-solving, time travel, and more?

Well, it's not fictional, but it is "animated." You've just offered a perfect description of Iron Gate, Virginia.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

 

I'm Freakin' Out, Man



Tonight's web surfing turned up some neat, freaky, ghostly stuff.

These images are probably just instances of pareidolia; when the mind and eyes try to turn vague colors and shapes into something familiar and significant. Nonetheless, they're friggin' creepy, dude.

The picture below was taken in November, '95, in England. It shows a house burning to the ground. There was no one in the house when the picture was taken, and neither the photographer, nor other witnesses, saw the apparition that shows up in the photo with their naked eyes.


Here's a closer look at what appears to be an unhappy young girl with long hair and a white gown, standing in the fire:


Far out, man.

Here's an antique picture that appears to have a bearded face right in the middle; a face that looks a whole lot like the popular image of Jesus:


A page at Binnall Of America examines the picture with some detail. The altered version below uses different colors to make it easier to see what's actually in the picture:


This next one creeps me out the most. This one is from Argentina, and features what appears to be a ghostly little girl in the shadows to the left:


I think it's the "little girl's" posture and the way that she appears to be peaking out from the darkness that ups the creepiness in that one.

Here's a picture taken at a wedding reception with a particularly "goth" looking "ghost" in the lower right:


He's returned from the grave ... to audition as the drummer for 30 Second To Mars!

And this last one is closer to my neck of the woods ... it originates in Lynchburg, Virginia. It took me a minute to really see a "ghost" in this shot, but once I did I thought it was a really creepy one:


Kind of a joker-like smile on that one.

I'm not saying I believe that any of these pictures documents an actual ghost. Nor am I saying that I disbelieve.

I'm just saying I'm interested in stuff like this, and these are some of the creepiest pictures I've seen.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

 

Happy Birthday, Megyn Kelly



Wendy and I are both big fans of Megyn Kelly. I like her because of the way she goes after weasels in interview segments:



The fact that she's clearly conservative (if I read her correctly), smart as a tack and friggin' gorgeous doesn't hurt, either.

Today Drew at Ace Of Spades HQ reported that Maxim had named Megyn the second hottest news anchor on TV. (The first hottest is some lady named Amy who is kinda cute. You'll have to go to Maxim yourself to see the list.)

Wendy and I were talking about that a little bit ago and one of us said "I wonder how old Megyn Kelly is, anyway..."

So we went to Wikipedia and looked it up, and whattayaknow? Today is Megyn Kelly's birthday. She's 38 years old today.

So happy birthday, Megyn Kelly. Keep goin' after the weasels and you'll always have a couple of fans in Virginia.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

 

MCFAT: Ecks Ecks Eye Eye Eye



MCF's latest round of questions:
1) Do you like Halloween? Why or why not?

Yeah, I love it. I just always have. I do enjoy horror movies, ghost stories, etc ... but probably no more than many other people do. So I like Halloween because the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, et al, do all those specials with names like The Fifty Scariest Places In South-West Detroit. I eat that stuff up. That's what Tivo was made for.

2) What is your favorite sound effect?

The Wilhelm Scream is a fun one, if only for trivia purposes. But I have to admit that I'm not that good at spotting it when it comes up in movies.

On a more personal note ... every year, about this time of year, I edit our year's worth of home movies down to one half-hour or so of highlights. Then I put it on DVD with all the amenities: Opening credits, sound effects, background music, etc. We send the finished product out with our Christmas cards.

I've learned from all this editing and producing that you can't go wrong by adding Yakety Sax to the soundtrack of just about anything. Here's a demonstration, a video that prominently features one of our dogs. I uploaded this to YouTube almost two years ago:

Yakety Sax is my go-to music for just about any video footage. If you speed up a bit of video and add that song to the mix, you usually end up with comedy gold.

I thought about this for a while a little earlier, and I asked myself, is there any video footage that isn't improved by adding Yakety Sax to the background? I decided to do a little experiment:

The jury is still out on the results. Nonetheless, for my money, Yakety Sax almost always brings the funny.

3) How do you feel when studios recast roles to different actors in sequels to popular films?

It depends on the reason. If an actor holds out for more money and the studio says "Screw you, pal," I usually side with the studio. No actor is irreplaceable.

Having said that, there are instances where a given studio has gone with a more "bankable" star, and with disastrous results. I'm thinking about the first Batman movie franchise.

And as a Batman fanboy, I'm so happy with Christian Bale in the current films that I'd hate to see him replaced.

But no actor should own any given role purely as a matter of principle.

4) Fire or Ice?

Neither.

SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: Who is Zsaji?

Uh ... ZsaZsa after a few too many?

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

 

Mad Dog 20/20



I saw a clip of the comedian Tracy Morgan on the David Letterman program, and he told a joke about drinking Mad Dog 20/20.

The mention of Mad Dog surprised me for some reason. I hadn't thought about that particular ... ahem, "wine" ... in ages. And I realize now that I'd kinda always thought of it as a regional thing. I'd assumed that Mad Dog was produced in and probably for just a few select states ... and that Virginia was one of the "lucky" few.


For those of you who might not know, Mad Dog 20/20 is a cheap, bottom shelf wine that tastes like cough syrup mixed with antifreeze and exists primarily for the purpose of getting young people really drunk, really fast. It's marketed in bottles with a label that says "MD 20/20", and after your first experience with it, the mere sight of those distinctive bottles might be enough to make you feel sick.

It's godawful. The flavor is terrible and drinking Mad Dog always lead to feeling awful the next day. I never liked to drink it even when I was a 20-something kid and drinking very irresponsibly. As I remember it, nobody ever pretended to enjoy the taste of Mad Dog. The only reason to drink it was to get drunk quickly.

I always wondered what the MD on the label really stood for. And what's the 20/20 all about? Now, searching for trivial information like that is what the internet is for, right? Here's what I've learned:


And with that I plan to go back to not thinking about Mad Dog at all.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

 

Words Can Not Describe...



I'm pretty sure that this stuff is the best thing that I have ever eaten.

Ever.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

 

They Were Right



It turns out that MCF was right. Every song really is better with more cowbell:

  


(MoreCowbell.dj is easily the greatest invention of the past five thousand years.)

And B13 is right, too. Virtually vandalizing walls is fun:

And if you thought I'd figure out a way to work Metallica references into both of those items ... well, damned if you weren't right, too.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

 

Mouse Turds N' Porn



I don't blog much about local stuff. There are a couple of bloggers in my blogroll who do a great job of it, though. Roanoke R&R covers local happenings from a perspective that I always enjoy, and The Roanoke Slant keeps an eye on the fishwrapper that passes for a newspaper 'round these parts.

But there have been a few things that have popped up in the local news recently that I thought I ought to mention.

Historic downtown Roanoke is a great place to visit if you want to tour some interesting museums, meet some interesting people, and eat some interesting mouse feces:
On Friday, the health department discovered a rodent problem in the food court located in the city market building. As a result, the department suspended the food operation license.

While the inside was being cleaned, the city left little explanation as to what prompted what they called a "fall cleanup."

As it turns out, however, there was a lot more to Saturday's closing than a routine cleanup. Roanoke Mayor David Bowers calls the situation "serious."

...When News7 asked Mayor Bowers if the city was misleading downtown visitors by calling the cleaning a "fall cleanup," he responded "I don't know."
"I don't know" is Roanoke politics-speak for "Please, please don't ask me no more of them hard questions, mister."

Then there's this bit from Floyd county, Virginia:
Floyd County school officials are investigating a display of pornographic images during a student club meeting.

The incident occurred Friday during a Students Against Destructive Decisions club meeting at Floyd County High School. A laptop computer used during the meeting displayed several seconds of pornographic images before school officials intervened.

Principal Barry Hollandsworth sent a letter to parents notifying them of the incident, which Hollandsworth said he regretted.
Given the gravity of the situation and the serious questions raised, the Students Against Destructive Decisions club issued a statement that read "WHOOOOO HOOOOOO!"

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

 

My Awesome Music



After more than two weeks of literally listening to nothing but the outstanding new Metallica album I finally got a little tired of it. So today when I sat down to read blogs n' junk, I threw together a quick playlist for the Media Player.

About half way through it I began to realize that it was a REALLY, REALLY GOOD playlist. Not only the best one I've put together in a long while, but one of the best playlists I've ever even heard.

And as I sat there contemplating the talent in this playlist that I'd put together I only had one clear thought in my head: "Damn, I'm awesome."

I finally decided that it would be downright irresponsible not to share this playlist with the world. Here's a quick, sloppy screen-grab. Just in case you're ever trying to assemble the worlds most awesomest playlist, these are the songs you'll need:

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

 

New Old Games



I'm the worst kind of gamer. I'm not sure what kind of nickname the hardcore gamers have for guys like me, but it's probably something like "lame old fart."

For starters, I prefer to play games on consoles, not PCs. I do play a few PC games, but I'm a product of the Atari generation and I believe deep down that if I'm not holding a controller in my hand, I'm not playing a game. Keyboards and Mouses (Mice? Mices?) are for work. Hand-held controllers are for gaming.

Probably my biggest sin as a pseudo gamer is that I'm stingy. I can't justify buying games for fifty and sixty bucks. It just seems like an outrageous price to me. So I wait for the prices to go down and by the time I get games, they're old.

And what's worse, by the time I spend five or eight bucks on an old game I typically put it in the console once for ten minutes and then take it out and never play it again.

And I'm really only loyal to a couple of franchises. I love the Halo games and I love the Splinter Cell games. But I love both of them for their stellar single-player games, not for the popular online multiplayer. See, I'm too cheap to spend the fifty bucks to get Xbox360 Live. So I've only ever played Halo 2 on line once and I've never played my favorite franchise, Splinter Cell, on line at all.

Splinter Cell, by the way, is the greatest video game series of all time.

But, yeah, I do see used copies of well-reviewed games for a couple of bucks on clearance now and then. And I've bought a couple of them. And this summer, thanks to two immobile months spent recovering from bladder cancer, I did have time to play a few of those untouched "classic" games that had been gathering dust on a shelf here. Thankfully, they were backward-compatible and would run on our 360 ... and, thankfully, the were still as good as their long-ago raving reviews indicated.


XIII (pronounced "Thirteen") is a first person shooter that's based on a comic book and it actually incorporates comic book style story-boarding and graphics into it's action and story. It's a first-person shooter with a little more than the basic "run and gun" repetition that makes games like Doom get old quickly. Some of the challenges are the usual kind, shoot the bad guys, protect the innocent, keep alive til the end of the game. But other elements of the game reminded me of Half Life in that you sometimes had to solve puzzles and gather information before you could advance.

The story of XIII is good enough that it kept me genuinely interested in which pieces of the puzzle would be revealed and what new twists would take place in each new level. The conceit is that you're a Jason Bourne type secret agent. You have amnesia, but pieces of your memory come back to you with each level you complete. So the story's forward motion and the character's backstory develop at the same time. And the game boasts some surprising big names in the voice-over rolls. Actors like David Duchovny, Adam West and rapper/actress Eve.

The games visuals are very steeped in comic book tradition, and if you don't like comics, you might find the game annoying. Panels pop up to show action, words are conveyed in speech balloons, and there are even visual representations of sound effects: THWK! Wham! TAP TAP Tap tap... I enjoyed XII. As of now I'm at about the half-way point and will probably go back to see the story through.

One complaint is that when I play XIII on our 360, I can't load my saved games from the saved games menu. Every time I try it takes me back to the beginning of the level. It's a pain in the butt, especially if in your saved game you'd made a lot of progress. I think this is a 360 glitch with this specific game, but I haven't found anything on the Interworld Wide Web-nets.

By the way, XIII has been turned into a TV miniseries with Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer, and it'll hit the tube some time next year.


Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time provides a next-gen update of the original Prince Of Persia from the late '80's. This is a third person game that requires that you control the main character with some stealth, ingenuity and creativity. As a Splinter Cell fan, there was a lot here to appeal to me.

Basically, in Prince of Persia you spend half of your time fighting off hordes of badguys (sand monsters) and the other half of your time solving puzzles wherein you figure out how to navigate a room full of traps, perils and blind corners. The puzzle solving part of the game was what really hooked me. The battles, on the other hand, eventually began to feel repetitive. If it weren't for the fact that succeeding in battle is one way to level up, I'd have seen the battles as as an annoyance.

Another complaint I had with ...Sands Of Time is that the camera control is buggy. If you've played Splinter Cell, you probably know that a Splinter Cell addict like me is used to having total control of the game camera. I twirl the right thumbstick to where I want it and I see what I want to see and the view never changes on it's own, no matter what I do with the character. That's not the case in ...Sands of Time. Sometimes the camera movies to certain preset positions whether you want it to or not. This can really screw up your ability to execute the intricate button/joystick combos that are necessary to make certain moves and reach certain areas.

But then again, this is 2003 game with at least two sequels ... and I bet that camera control is better in the later titles. Just like XIII, it turns out that Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time is being adapted for the screen. It features Ben Kingsley and Donnie Darko and should hit theaters in May of 2010.


Armed And Dangerous is one of those games that tries to combine run and gun gameplay with humorous dialogue, madcap characters and silly situations. That's usually a bad idea. Games like that usually get old quick, the jokes wear out through repetition and the game play is usually bland enough to indicate that game design took a backseat to the writing of the jokes.

I'm happy to say, though, that Armed And Dangerous gets it right. The gameplay is engrossing and challenging, with enough variety and creativity to keep you wondering what the next level will hold. And the silly characters and funny story are, for the most part, actually funny.

Most of the humor comes across in cut-scenes, and if you're like me, most of the time you're only willing to sit through so much of a cut-scene before you're jabbing the A button, ready to move on. Nonetheless, I found the cut-scenes in Armed And Dangerous to be funny and interesting enough to actually watch. There's a heavy Monty Python influence on the creative team behind the story, and it shows. Some of their Pythonesque gags are actually fairly fresh and funny.

And some of the gameplay is funny, too. Weapons like the Shark Bazooka add a great twist to combat. What could be more fun than launching a shark into the earth, watching it's dorsal fin break the surface as it makes a b-line for the bad guy, finally to launch up Jaws-style and devour your nemesis?? Forgetaboutit. It's a riot.

Unlike XIII and Prince of Persia, Armed and Dangerous is not currently being adapted for the screen. And it's just as well. Any such adaptation would live forever in the shadow of John Candy's masterpiece.


Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, long have you ruled. I've never played a better game. So with the next chapter in the Splinter Cell franchise pushed back until the second quarter of 2009 at the soonest, I decided to replay the game that I've enjoyed more than any other.

It might have been a mistake. I didn't enjoy Chaos Theory near as much the second time through as I did when I first played it a few years ago. Part of the problem was that I kept surprising myself with how much I remembered. I'd find myself thinking "Oh, yeah, that door is gonna burst open and five bad guys are gonna fly out ... let me get back here in the shadows and roll a grenade that way." On one hand it's kinda cool to have one up on the badguys that way, but on the other hand it totally lacks the surprise and excitement from the first runthrough.

I remember thinking the first time I played Chaos Theory that the Seoul level was extremely hard. This time it was just pure fun and I went through it twice on the harder settings. And I remember thinking after my first Chaos Theory trip that the final level had been far easier than I'd expected. This time, beating the last barrage of badguys was like shooting fish in a barrel. One smoke-grenade and it's a whole new world.

By the way there is still the prospect of a Splinter Cell movie, but it's in development hell and will probably never happen.

And that's just as well. What's the point in turning good video games into bad movies? Some "art" should be left in the medium it was created in. Reinterpretation in another medium is just unnecessary.

Still, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory remains my favorite game. Only time will tell if the next iteration in the Splinter Cell series will claim the crown. And, unfortunately, that length of time just seems to keep getting longer.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

 

MCF Is Double-X Rated



It's time for MCFAT XX:

1) Are you offended when a film or television show lampoons something close to you, be it nationality, faith, gender, etc.? If so, how do you respond?

I don't like it when southerners are portrayed as universally inbred, stupid, closed-minded, racist, etc. Bet you didn't see that coming.

I'm reminded, though, of Chris Rock's explanation of why it's OK for black people to use the N-word but it isn't cool for whites to use that word. He explained it this way: It's OK for me to get frustrated with my kids and call them "dumb kids," but it's not OK for you to call my kids dumb. I can say it and know that there's a love there that conditions and qualifies what I've said. But when someone else says it, that love isn't a given.

So with that in mind, I don't mind it when the awesome Richmond, Virginia metal band Lamb of God puts rednecks on notice with a song called ... well, Redneck (language warning). But when movies, TV shows, etc, present a biased, uneven and heavy-handed view of southerners, it tends to get on my war nerve.

And, for the record, I call myself a redneck all the time in self-deferential jest. And I don't mind when my friends call me a redneck. I know they're doing it in fun and without malice.

And, besides, I am a redneck.

(See? It's a real inner-conflict kind of thing.)


2) If you were granted with superhuman intelligence and or abilities that had the unfortunate side effect of ending your life in a few days, how would you spend your final hours?

Geez, I don't know. I guess I'd try to find Osama? Or see how many tacos I could eat. Or both. (See? Redneck to the bone.)


3) If someone you knew repeatedly demonstrated poor hygiene, would you ever broach the subject and tell the person?

What are you trying to say? What do you mean "poor hygiene?" What do you mean "you southern people?" Huh? Hold on while I go get my pool queue.


4) Who are some of your favorite television characters that originated one one series before being spun off into another?

Has The Simpsons spawned a spin-off? No, I guess not. Futurama has a connection to The Simpsons through Matt Groening, and King of the Hill has a connection through Greg Daniels, but neither of those are spin-offs.

South Park hasn't spawned a spin-off, either.

I think House and The Office (US) are both decent shows, but they're both fairly new and neither has produced a spin-off. Does The Office (US) qualify as a spin-off from The Office (UK)? Does Fawlty Towers count as a spin-off from Monty Python's Flying Circus?

Ah, crap. I'm saying Joanie Loves Chachi. And my favorite character is the bitter, misogynistic 45 year old guy.


SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: What was the name of my first pet, and what was it?

MCF's first pet was a woodlouse named Pillbug.


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Warwickton



This is kinda neat, and it gives me an opportunity to borrow a page from Rhodester:

The movie Sommersby was neither a commercial blockbuster, nor a big critical success. It was a post-civil war story about a returning soldier who might not have been who he claimed to be. It stared Jodie Foster and Richard Gere, but apparently star-power alone isn't enough to turn a movie into a masterpiece.

I kinda like the film, but I'm biased. It was filmed in and around the part of Virginia where I live, and the summer of it's production brought a lot of excitement to the area.

A number of local people got to be extras in the movie. That's kinda cool. It's a bit of a distraction, though, when you're watching a movie set around the Civil War and find yourself saying things like "Hey, that's the guy who works the window at McDonnalds!"

After the filming I visited Warwickton, the period mansion where much of the movie was shot, and took a few pictures.

I took these pictures with an extremely cheap 35mm camera. And I scanned them with the first scanner I ever owned, which was about the size of a VW bus. I don't know why I saved such small scans, but these are the only ones I have. I came across them tonight while looking through some old media and deciding what to throw away and what to keep.

Above is the mansion itself, looking exactly like it does in the movie.

The slave quarters weren't authentic. In fact, if I remember what I was told correctly, the actual original owners of Warwickton weren't slave-owners. But some of the people in the story of Sommersby were slave-owners, so period-authentic slave quarters were built and they're still there.

I took this picture from the porch of Warwickton, looking toward the slave quarters.

During the filming of the movie Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford supposedly came into town and saw Sister Act at our local tiny little theater. That's far out, man.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

 

Us, Manga



MCF posted a link to a manga avatar maker, and we had fun putting together manga versions of our family:





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Saturday, August 09, 2008

 

Celebrity News



I don't do celebrity news, it's not my thing. I just don't care. But I did think that Morgan Freeman's accident was startling enough to warrant a mention earlier this week. The latest on Freeman is that he's out of the hospital and recovering, and I'm glad to hear it.

As to the other news about Freeman that came out this week, I won't comment other than to say that I don't think it's anyone's business.

I was sorry to hear that Bernie Mac passed away this morning. To be honest I wasn't a Bernie Mac fan. Not that I had anything against him, I just never watched his show and he never made an impression on me one way or the other in the movies. Still, I feel bad that he died ... especially considering that even very shortly before his death he seemed to be getting better. The guy was only 50. That's too young to die from pneumonia. It really sucks.

The third celebrity story that caught my eye today was this one, and it caught my eye because it's the creepiest thing I've seen in ages. I mean really creepy. Michael Jackson level creepy. Mick Jagger in bed with David Bowie level creepy. Creepy beyond belief. I'm talking about Clay Aiken...

... and the baby he conceived through artificial insemination with his platonic baby-making partner.

Is it just me, or does Clay Aiken look like a lesbian? I'm not trying to mock lesbians ... heck, I don't even mean to mock Aiken himself ... but the guy looks like a lesbian. He has a real k.d. lang quality going on:

And for what it's worth, k.d. lang (who spells her name without capital letters, in case you didn't know) has a few songs I like. I'm not trying to knock her. I'm not trying to mock Aiken for looking like her. I'm just sayin', you know?

But this whole platonic artificial insemination baby making partnership thing ... man, it's just creepy.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

 

I'm Not The Only One!



As usual, The Onion is brilliant:
Local Idiot To Post Comment On Internet

HAZEL PARK, MI—In a statement made to reporters earlier this afternoon, local idiot Brandon Mylenek, 26, announced that at approximately 2:30 a.m. tonight, he plans to post an idiotic comment beneath a video on an Internet website...

"Later this evening, I intend to watch the video in question, click the 'reply' link above the box reserved for user comments, and draft a response, being careful to put as little thought into it as possible, while making sure to use all capital letters and incorrect punctuation," Mylenek said...

Mylenek, who rarely in his life has been capable of formulating an idea or opinion worth the amount of oxygen required to express it, went on to guarantee that the text of his comment would be misspelled to the point of incomprehension, that it would defy the laws of both logic and grammar, and that it would allege that several elements of the video are homosexual in nature.

Read the whole thing. Soooo, soooo funny.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

 

McFat Strikes Back



McFat XIX, MCF's questionnaire for his loyal readers:

1) Should film critics be genre-specific? Why or why not?
Nah, I don't think so. Movie fans aren't genre-specific, so why should critics be? Well, most movie fans aren't genre specific ... but, now that I think about it, one of my best friends steadfastly refuses to watch anything other than comedies and horror movies.

Besides, just being a film critic kinda is genre-specific. It's not like film critics regularly cross over and review CDs, restaurants, etc.

2) What are some of your favorite movies and/or episodes of television shows depicting time travel?
My favorite is The Simpsons' Time And Punishment from Treehouse Of Horror V. Featuring Homer's immortal line: "Oh, I wish, I wish I hadn't killed that fish."

I also really enjoyed the indie sci-fi film Primer.

Back in the early 90's I thought that Quantum Leap was a pretty good show.

Of course the 1968 Planet of the Apes (as opposed to the crap Tim Burton remake) is a classic, and you find out at the end that time travel is a key to the story. (Ooops! Spoiler in the previous sentence!) The novel is better than either movie, though.

My favorite episode of The Twilight Zone, called Spur of the Moment, kinda dances around the concept of time travel.

I saw and enjoyed the first two Terminator movies, by the way. Never saw the third one and I don't care to see it, but the fourth one looks interesting.

Donnie Darko is a decent time travel movie.

Idiocracy is often hilarious. Mike Judge knows funny.

Slaughterhouse Five is an OK movie, but the novel is much better. It's Vonnegut, after all, and Vonnegut could do things with the printed word that transcended the limits of visual mediums.

I love A Christmas Carol, though I'm hard pressed to decide which production I've enjoyed most. Every one I've seen has had it's charms and it's flaws.

I liked the time travel sequence in the fourth Harry Potter movie.

Does Groundhog Day qualify as a time travel movie? I liked Groundhog Day a lot.

Oh, yeah, and I can't forget 12 Monkeys and Jacob's Ladder, I love both of those movies, and both of them have loose time travel themes.

3) At this exact second, how did you get where you are in life?
Well, my health isn't great, and that's my fault since I smoked for twenty-six years. But I stopped once for three years back in the '90's, so I know I can quit smoking. And as of this minute I haven't had a cigarette in nineteen days.

That's kinda the major preoccupation of my life right now, so I'll leave it at that.

4) Will there be sex in heaven?
You want a serious answer? I'd say that my faith teaches me that the question is answered in the last part of the 22nd chapter of the book of Matthew.

My gut-reaction answer, though, would be something like this: Sex is our earthly way of making a connection that we will make in an even more fulfilling way in the world to come. The idea of heaven without sex kinda sorta sucks ... but that's because we're thinking with earthly minds and we only have earthly experiences to form our context. There's not only more to our existence than we imagine ... there's more to our existence than we can imagine.

I'll throw some song lyrics out there, while I'm at it. I've always thought that the Tool song Parabola is a song about the spiritual elements of monogamous sex. If I'm interpreting the lyrics correctly, then I have to say that I like what the song has to say.

SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: What is “that” one thing Meat Loaf wouldn't do for love? I'll accept both humorous and serious responses.
That question is answered in the lyrics to the song. The female vocalist sings "Sooner or later you'll be screwing around" and Meat Loaf sings "I won't do that."

By the way, according to IMDB, Meat Loaf's real name is Marvin Lee Aday. But to me, His name is Robert Paulson. His name is Robert Paulson. His name is Robert Paulson. His name is Robert Paulson. His name is Robert Paulson. His name is Robert Paulson. His name is Robert Paulson.

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Barack And Sascha



Two disparate items, relevant to nothing:

Some people think that Barack Obama is the next John Kennedy. I personally see him as the next Jimmy Carter. But, then again, this YouTube clip might be evidence that he's really the next George W. Bush:



Total change of topic: I noticed the other day that our cat is pretty well camouflaged when she naps on our desk chair:



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Saturday, July 26, 2008

 

Bring It On, Kids



I'm pleased to learn that, even with my current medical problems, I could kick the butts of at least seventeen five-year-olds in a fair fight.

You know ... like, if a bunch of rabid five-year-olds were to attack me or something. Or, like, if they were zombies. I typically wouldn't go looking for a fight with seventeen five-year-olds, but if I had to, I could open up seventeen little child-size cans of whoop ass.

17

If you haven't taken the quiz yourself, you can click here and find out how many five-year-olds you could smack down.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

 

Via MCF: Proust's Questionaire



I feel like blogging, but I don't feel like writing anything about bladder cancer. I'm friggin' SICK of writing about bladder cancer. So I'm going to borrow a page from MCF and answer the questions from the famous Proust Questionnaire:



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Monday, July 07, 2008

 

How Cool Is This?



OK, first a qualifier, I'm not Andy Stitzer, I'm not one of those grown men who amasses action figures and has a huge collection of them setting around the house. I'm a nerd, I admit that freely, but I do draw the line somewhere.

Having said that, I just found out about a line of action figures that I would actually buy (if I had the expendable income) and proudly display in my living room for all to see.

I mentioned the other day that I'd been enjoying a Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel. I tivo'd some of my favorite episodes and burned them down to DVD and a little while ago I got curious about who wrote some of those episodes. (The best ones are usually credited to Serling himself, but the legendary Richard Matheson penned most of my favorites.)

Anyway, I was reading some stuff on the net about various episodes (this website is outstanding) and Googling more info, and I came across these guys:

That's right, a collection of action figures based on characters from the original Twilight Zone series. As you can see above, the set includes the gremlin from Nightmare At 20,000 Feet, one of the astronauts from The Invaders, the medical team from Eye of the Beholder, and Kanamit from To Serve Man.

Gnarly! As much as I like 'em, though, I don't think I should try to buy 'em. Most of the sites that sell them have very expensive prices ... and I don't think I could handle the embarrassment when someone finally busted me playing with them.

I'd write more, but I'm gonna go hide and play with my imaginary toy doctor and nurse. ("Conform! Comform! Ugliness is treason!")

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

 

Current Distractions



Just a quick note; I'm still alive, still waiting for my bladder to heal post-surgery, still dashing to the bathroom every seven seconds (or so it seems).

Here's a quick list of the distractions that have been preoccupying me for the last few days. Consider these the reasons I haven't been blogging much.



Hope everybody has a good 4th! I'll blog more when I have fewer distractions.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

 

Getting Veeeeery Sleeeeeepy....



It's hard for me to believe it now, but when I was a kid I had to be FORCED to do two things: eat my dinner and go to sleep. As an adult I'm the exact opposite. Once I do either of those things I basically have to be FORCED to stop.

The worst thing about my current health issues is that I've had a terrible time sleeping for the past week. Between last Monday morning and yesterday evening, I hadn't had more than an hour of sleep at one time. My bladder keeps me in the bathroom day and night, usually three or four times in an hour. There have been a few spells when I've had to go to the bathroom literally every five minutes for two or three hours at a time.


And the pain I'm experiencing keeps me from sleeping, too.

However, last evening I fell asleep and actually stayed asleep from about 7:30 until 10:30. Three hours! Three blessed hours of uninterrupted sleep! I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was a God-send to me last night. When I first woke up again around 10:30 PM, I felt ready to take on the world. That feeling faded pretty quickly, but those three hours of sleep really did me a world of good.

I've been awake since then, though ... like every other night this week. I used to be a night-owl when I was younger, and there was a time when I'd have used this awake-time productively. Instead, this week I've used my surplus waking hours doing things like watching TV, listening to music, and watching YouTube videos and turning them into blog posts.

I've also read about bladder cancer and joined a discussion board for people with bladder cancer ... and I've read a little bit about sleep, sleep deprivation, and dreams.

I took a quiz that's designed to assess how healthy my sleep habits are, and I answered all the questions truthfully, based on my current condition. I didn't provide answers based on my usual sleep habits. According to the quiz, I currently likely suffer from sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome. Whoo hooo! I hit a grand slam!

There are a lot of sites on the net full of interesting info about sleep, such as this one and this one and this one and this one and this one.

Here are some of the interesting trivia tidbits I've learned about sleep, sprinkled liberally with nuggets of BS I made up. Can you tell which of these items are actual facts and which ones are SouthCon hogwash? I'll tell you what's real and what's not in the first comment.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

 

Man, What A Fox!

I want one. Maybe I'll get the package that comes with the deer, too:

In the second clip, when the lady fusses at the grouchy dog, does it sound to you like she calls the dog "Darrell?" That's what it sounds like to me. But maybe I just like the idea of there being more than one grouchy old dog named Darrell on the internet.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

 

Fun With Morphine

Morphine, Morphine, what made you so mean?
You never used to do me like you do.
Where's that sweet gal I once knew?


--Gillian Welch, My Morphine

I had my first experience with morphine the other day, after my bladder surgery, while I was in the hospital. I was given a spinal anesthetic for the surgery, and it took several hours to wear off. So while I was still numb from the chest down I felt no pain at all. But when the anesthetic wore off, the pain came on all at once.

All of a sudden, my bladder was on fire with pain.

I asked the nurse to bring me something for pain and she wanted me to rate the pain on a scale of one to ten. I couldn't really think in those terms, so I simply said "Well, it's WAY above a five." That must have been enough for her. She brought a syringe and injected it into my IV tube.

I asked her what I was getting and she told me that it was "synthetic Morphine." I had just enough time to think "Oh, wow, I'm gonna really feel this stuff..." and then WOOSH!

It was like I had hyper-warped across the entire universe and back to where I started in a about half a second. And I felt REALLY weird. I don't know how to describe it, really. I didn't feel like myself, for one thing. And my speech and hearing was strange. It felt like there was some sort of time-gap between when words would form in my mouth and then leave my mouth and then travel to my own ears.

My wife, mother and step-dad were visiting me when I got the morphine and they seemed to be slightly ahead of me in time. It was like I was struggling to keep up with what was going on around me and lagging behind. I kept apologizing and saying I felt like I'd been drugged. Mom reminded me that I had been drugged. I'd asked to be drugged.

For the rest of the afternoon, until the morphine wore off, I constantly felt like I was out of sync with time. I was either slightly behind time or slightly ahead of it. I know that sounds weird, but it's the closest I can come to describing what I felt.

I was also itching all over. Especially my nose. I could NOT get my nose to stop itching.

Oh, yeah, the morphine knocked the pain out completely.

I didn't get morphine again for the rest of the time I was in the hospital. They brought me lower-grade pain-killers when I'd ask for something for pain. And I'm glad, really. I can understand how morphine would be addictive for some people. If you like the experience of having reality chemically altered, you'd REALLY get a sense of that with regular use of morphine.

Here are some fun facts about about morphine from the net:



So there you go. I can now add morphine to the list of drugs I've experienced. And I honestly hope to never experience it again. Partly because it's so disorienting. Partly because of that itching. But mostly because I hope I never have pain that's severe enough to warrant the use of morphine again!

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Monday, June 16, 2008

 

Just So's You Know



I'm still alive, everything is cool. Just busy at work and getting ready for surgery Thursday. The golf ball size mass that has been living in my bladder is going to be evicted. Good. I don't like it.

On the urging of a reviewer I trust I'm reading the first Dean Koontz novel I've ever read, Intensity. I have to say, much to my surprise, this book is really, really good. Good on a number of levels. It's an actual book, not pulp, with subtext and character development and an engrossing plot and subtlety and a lot to recommend it. I look forward to writing an enthusiastic review when I finish it, as long as it doesn't come apart in the last 80 pages.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

 

Click Here ...





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Thursday, June 05, 2008

 

George Brownridge Is THE MAN!
Or, Not.



Hat Tip: Wanus Maximus.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

 

A New Face



A few weeks ago I allowed the pro-feline lobby here at the house to talk me into getting a cat.


I'm not a cat person. I'm a dog person, as I've made clear at the blog. But Wendy and the kids like cats, and so it was put to a vote, and then it was vetoed, and then my veto was overturned. A small, gray, year-and-a-half-old cat was adopted from the local humane society and added to our two-dog home.

The cat's name was changed a number of times. First it was Makoto, a name given in honor of an athlete from a Japanese TV show that Wendy and all three kids love. That name didn't stick for a number of reasons. For one thing, Makoto is actually a male name, and this is a female cat. For an other thing, I could never remember the name and often referred to the cat as Kimono, Komodo, Tornado, etc.

Then the cat's name became Sophie, a name that always seemed kind of "Eehh" to everyone here.

For the record, I wanted to name the cat Turnip. I lost that bid in a debate that went something like this:

Me: We should name the cat Turnip.

Everybody else: Why? That's a terrible name for a cat.

Me: It's a perfect name. After all, she is a gray cat.

Everyone Else: But turnips ARE NOT gray!

Me: They are eventually.


I thought the logic was bulletproof, but Wendy and the kids shot it down.

So the cat's name became Sascha, for reasons I'm still not sure of.

After the initial period of adjustment as Sascha and the two dogs got used to each other, she eventually got comfortable in her new home and got in the habit of coming upstairs and depositing herself on my belly as I reclined in front of the TV.

So I got used to the tiny, gray ball of fur sleeping on my belly, purring quietly. I got used to it, and I kinda got to like it.

Now I look forward to it.

Sascha is still a cat, clearly inferior to dogs ... but she'll do.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

 

Just Havin' Ya On



Judging from a few notes in my inbox, I think yesterday's April Fools' Day prank was a bit too obtuse. But then, my sense of humor often is. If you tried to visit the SouthCon main page today, you ended up here instead. Har har har.

Then again, nothing I came up with for an April Fools Day post would have been anywhere near as cool as this turned out to be. Especially for the lucky few who actually got hold of the Joker's balls.

Click here to read a summary of what I'm rambling about.

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