Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Wednesday Junk N' Stuff
- Federline Rocks!!
You know, I really expected the debut album from Kevin Federline (husband of Britney Spears) to suck… but this first single really rocks!
- Kyra Phillips Got A GOOD Man
This is Kyra Phillips, one of the talking heads at CNN. Kyra has a great husband. I know that she does because the good folks at CNN didn't turn off Kyra's microphone when she went to the bathroom during President Bush's recent Hurricane Katrina anniversary speech. Kyra's mic was on the whole time she was in the ladies room, and her audio drowned out the President's speech. Among the things CNN viewers learned were that Kyra's husband is "handsome and he is genuinely a loving, you know, no ego--you know what I'm saying. Just a really passionate, compassionate great, great human being." Viewers also learned that Kyra's brother is married to a real "control freak." CNN offered an apology to everyone who might have been offended… but, personally, I am far more interested in hearing about Kyra's husband than I am in hearing the same old "mistakes were made, human tragedy, people working hard, yadda yadda yadda" speech again a year after the fact. You go, Kyra.
- Nutball Vs. Nutballs
It's hard to know who to root for when it's PETA Vs. Performance Artist for the UK's Grand National Flake Championship of 2006:
A naked performance artist who says she experienced fantasies of "interspecies metamorphoses" while working with dead pigs has angered British animal rights activists.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals criticized an exhibition where artist Kira O'Reilly sits naked for hours with a dead pig, planned for Friday evening at the Newlyn Art Gallery in Penzance, southwest England…
The exhibition is called "Inthewrongplaceness" and is described on the Tract Live Art Web site as a "slow crushing dance with a pig for one person at a time." About two dozen people have booked to see the exhibition people watch the performance alone, for a maximum of 10 minutes gallery director James Green said.
What I want to know is, where's the usually vocal London Muslim population in all this? I mean, come ON! We've got a naked woman and a pig ON ONE STAGE at the SAME TIME! I guess the London Muslims are busy wrapping their heads in duct-tape turbans to keep them from exploding because of this.
- Sympathy For John Voight
Hey, when your estranged daughter is the ever-goofy Angelina Jolie, you're bound to slip up now and then:
Angelina Jolie's estranged father Jon Voight sent a shout out to his grandkids Saturday, but it seems like absence makes the memory grow weaker -- he royally screwed up one of the names…
At the fourth annual BAFTA Tea Party (BAFTA is the Oscars for Brits), Voight was talking with a reporter on the red carpet when he decided to send birthday wishes to Maddox, Angelina's five-year-old child… Voight also sent well-wishes to "Shakira" -- problem is, he was talking about Angelina's 1 1/2-year-old daughter… Zahara.
You say Zahara, John says Shakira… Shakira, Zahara, Tequila, Mufasa, let's call the whole thing dumb.
- Toonces Is Alive And Well
The story was actually about a dog trying to drive a car… but the accompanying photo at Cube's blog indicated that Toonces the Driving Cat is alive and well and trying to merge to the right.
- Daniel Edwards Sticks To What Works
Sculptor Daniel Edwards is currently making headlines with two controversial sculptures. One is supposed to be a solid gold true-to-life reproduction of the first bowel movement produced by Tom Cruise's and Katie Holme's newborn daughter. The second one is a topless bust of New York Senator Hillary Clinton:
When asked for an explanation, Edwards said "What can I say? I'm just inspired by over-rated turds."
Monday, August 28, 2006
- Bless The Vine And Branches
I think I might have mentioned before that my back surgeon is also the owner of a regional vineyard. I'm not sure, but I think I mentioned that. I am sure that I've mentioned that he looks like George C. Scott, which I think is completely awesome. Well, today the area newspaper ran a story about him having had his vineyard blessed. I thought that was pretty awesome, too.
- Snake's On A Plane!
…knocked Snakes on a Plane far off its perch. How far? A stunning first-to-ninth drop, down 58% to only 5.9 million and a dismal $1,648 per screen, horrible for a second week. The highly buzzed Samuel L. Jackson flick has only claimed $26 million to date and doesn't look like it will be able to fly significantly higher than a disappointing $30 million.
Hey, this is no surprise to me. I always thought that Snake's On A Plane was a flimsy premise for a film. Disco Stu's On A Plane would have gone over much better.
- Same Burr, New Burgh
Actually, it's the same burr in no Burgh at all. Pastor Scott of The Burr In The Burgh has officially moved from Pittsburgh to Fort Wayne and he's considering suggestions for a new name for his blog. Stop by and see what you can come up with. You're bound to come up with a better suggestion than mine.
- A Religion Of Peace? Bull.
In 2004, Iran executed a 16 year old girl for crimes against chastity. The Iranian government has been covering up this heinous state-sponsored crime ever since. However, a few brave souls who are familiar with the incident have started speaking out about it. If you have time, watch this documentary about Atefah Sahaaleh, a young girl who had her whole life ahead of her until she fell victim to the theocracy of Iran.
And, by the way, the next time I hear some loud-mouth liberal hippie wack-job talk about how America has become a theocracy because Dubya is a born-again Christian, it's going to be a real struggle for me not to punch said moron in the teeth. If these people were really concerned about stamping out brutal theocracies, they'd campaign for war against Iran around the clock.
- Oh, So Now Reality TV Is Bad?
MCF mentioned in today's Phantasmic Links that the new season of Survivor is all about racial profiling. From what I've read, a number of people think this is in (gasp!) bad taste.
CBS announced Wednesday that Survivor: Cook Islands (Sept. 14, 8 ET/PT) will start off with a controversial bang: 20 contestants will be divided into teams by race, pitting whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians against each other…
"We have more than enough polarization in the country right now," says Jacques DeGraff, former board member of economic empowerment group 100 Black Men and reverend at Canaan Baptist Church in New York. "To promote this even as a game or sport is to encourage a dark side in our American psyche…
Oh, yeah… and up until now, Survivor has done so much to encourage and advance the best elements of our nature. Right.
Look, "reality TV" should be more properly known as "unscripted smut TV." It's dumb, it's made by dumb people, about dumb people, and it's purpose is to make us dumber. So it is, so it's always been. But now we're supposed to think that it's unacceptable because it's exploiting people based on race? I suppose it was acceptable when it was just exploiting people based on sex, greed, scandal, vanity and voyeurism?
Jen Chau, co-founder of New Demographic, an anti-racism training company (says) "If the producers are splitting the contestants up by race, it's clear they want to show racial tensions, and they want the usual competitive trash-talking to devolve into racial slurs… I don't buy that they are merely trying to do the right thing by presenting a more diverse cast."
The producers of a reality TV show aren't doing the right thing? Say it ain't so!
- A Meeting Of Amazing Minds
Kim Peek is possibly the world's most famous savant. The inspiration for the movie Rainman, Kim is a friendly, fascinating man with amazing abilities. If you tell him your birth date, he can tell you immediately what day of the week you were born on and what day of the week your birthday will be on this year. Mention your home town and Kim can tell you the zip code, area code, major highways and local radio stations. He's read and memorized the information in some 12,000 books. It takes him about ten seconds to read a page of text. Kim has trouble with the minutia of day-to-day life… but he absorbs, retains and references data like a super computer.
Daniel Tammet was born in 1979 in England. Like Kim, Daniel has an amazing ability to retain and recall data. Daniel's ability to function socially is somewhat more refined than Kim's, but his memory is equally astounding. Daniel can remember and recite Pi to the 22,514th digit in about five hours. He's fluent in English, French, Finnish, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Estonian, Icelandic, and Esperanto. It takes him about a week to learn a new language.
Here, the meet for the first time:
Friday, August 25, 2006
Otis Strikes Back
On a much lighter note than my last entry, I'm honored and horrified to be the subject of the first Fractured Fairy Tale at You Know, For Kids.
Of course, you know this means war.
This is like something from a horror movie... except for the whole "truth is stranger than fiction" part:
VIENNA, Austria (CNN) -- DNA tests have confirmed the identity of a young Austrian woman believed to have been held captive in a basement "dungeon" and sexually assaulted over an eight-year period.
Police said Friday the woman -- found roaming in a residential area near Vienna earlier this week -- is Natascha Kampusch, who vanished in 1998 at the age of 10.
And in a twist to one of Vienna's most notorious and mysterious crimes, Kampusch's alleged kidnapper committed suicide by jumping in front of a train shortly after she escaped on Wednesday...
Photos released by police showed a small, cluttered room with narrow stairs leading to a small entrance. They showed a bed, sink and a toilet, as well as children books.
Click the picture for CNN video.
Words fail me.
Keeping My Comments To Myself
STUPID, STUPID STUPID BLOGGER won't let me leave comments today! I'm writing this on Word, as I always do, with the intentions of posting it at my blog, but I very well might be wasting my time because STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID BLOGGER, as likely as not, won't let me post it!!
Anyway, I made my usual blog rounds today and wanted to leave a few comments, but Blogger was, as always, acting screwy… so it wouldn't let me leave my comments. There were a couple of comments that it did let me leave, maybe… and I'm pretty sure that the comment I posted at Lorna's blog actually DID post. The rest of 'em, who knows?
So since I can't post 'em there, I'll try to post 'em here.
These are the comments I wanted to leave for some of my fellow bloggers.
- The Burr On The Move
Pastor Scott at The Burr In the Burgh and his family are in the unpacking stage of having moved from the Pittsburgh area to Fort Wayne (The Burr In The Fort?) Anyway, Pastor Scott wrote, among other things, that:
Jacob is sweating bullets because we have not yet located his Playstation games. Unless you have an 11 year old boy in your house, you do not realize the gravity of this problem.
To which I tried to respond as follows:
I have a nine-and-a-half year old, and I fully realize the gravity of not being able to locate video games. Not because of the conduct of my son, but because of the way I'd go all to pieces if Halo and Splinter Cell were temporarily misplaced.
And I would, too. I'd tear this place apart like Sam Fisher looking for Suhadi Sadono.
- Plan B Abortion Pill
Dymphna has the Plan B pill on her mind today. I was going to leave her a comment to make sure she saw this post at the American Papist. Paul, the Regular Guy was thinking about the topic, too… and he wrote that
The Bush administration doesn't get it. Despite its claims of being pro-life, despite Democrat threats that electing or re-electing Bush would imperil "the right of a woman to choose", despite the President's one veto of federal funding for ESCR (not to stop any ECSR, just federal funding of it), the Administration -- and the GOP -- doesn't understand what's at stake for us pro-lifers….
Next time, I swear, we must elect a real conservative. Not a another dynastic, "my turn", "electable" compromise nominee. A real honest-to-God conservative who cares about our issues because they're his issues.
I share Paul's frustrations. I still think that Dubya was the better choice in 2004, but he's really compromised his base in many ways and I believe we're going to pay for that in 2008. Heck, we might pay for that this November, too, if too few conservatives are energized enough to vote. I was going to tell Paul that
I feel what you're saying, too. Bush has been weak in many areas that are critical to conservatives. I'm still not over the Port Authority issue, for one. I think Dubya's attempts to handle immigration have been a please-everybody plan that's pleased nobody in the long run. He's done far too little to keep the country informed and abreast of the situation in Iraq, and he's spent money like a Democrat at a Las Vegas Prostitute Convention. I really hope we don't end up in such a mess that we have to go through another national liberal learning experience before we get back on track.
- Mysterious Cloaked Dragons, Planets, Etc
MCF wrote about a number of things today, including the demotion of Pluto from Planet to Dwarf Planet. That left me wondering if there were Elf Planets and Nymph Planets. Then, after discussing ducks and the cost of televisions, the Cloaked One filled us in on the Eragon movie:
For those of you who don't know, Eragon was a novel, the start of a trilogy, written by a Christopher Paolini when he was a teenager.
He also posted a link to the movie poster, which is how I came to realize that Jeremy Irons and John Malcovich were in the film. That got me interested in the rest of the cast, and, as I'd have told MCF:
This movie looks like it might be fun. I was checking out the cast and saw that the lead actor is, apparently, an unknown. The lead actress, Sienna Guillory, looked familiar, but when I looked her up at the IMDb I realized that I've not seen her in anything. I thought that one of her films, In The Bathroom, might have been a logical sequel to this film, but nothin' doin'.
- Hot Fuzz
The 35 weeks pregnant Kelly filled us in on Hot Fuzz, the latest film from the makers of Shaun Of The Dead. It looks good, and I'd have told Kelly as much, if STUPID STUPID STUPID BLOGGER had allowed me to post a comment.
In the comments section of that post I saw that MCF and Kelly had chatted a bit about Beerfest, a new comedy I'd had no interest in until I found out that it is a parody of Jean-Claude Van Damme films. If you ask me, that guy's movies are all pretty Van Damme stupid, so a parody of his stuff might make me laugh. Plus, I read somewhere that the movie is like Fight Club for beer drinkers, which also strikes me as a funny premise. The movie is getting middling advance reviews, but who knows.
- One Last Thing
This bit isn't a comment for someone else, it's just something I stumbled across. I bet you a zillion million dollars that you can't guess who this guy is without clicking this link and reading the news story:
So now that I know that Blogger won't let me post comments today, I'm off to see if it'll let me post blog entries? Who knows? See ya, maybe, on the other side.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
This Was The Week That This Week Is
The week isn't quite over yet, so I guess it's technically a little soon to do a weekend wrap-up, logically speaking. However, I pride myself on never allowing logic to come between my blog and me.
- You Started All The Wars, Mate
I'm still not sure how I stumbled across this:
A 41-year-old man has appeared in the Perth (Australia) Magistrate's court accused of making abusive and harassing telephone calls to Jewish community groups.
(The man) is alleged to have made numerous calls to interest and welfare groups over a month-long period starting in June…
He was not required to plead to the charges and was released on bail to appear in court again in November.
Hmmm. Australian man. Jews. Belligerent tirade. There is, of course, an easy joke to be made here, but I'm trying very hard not to make it. The punch line would be extremely easy to put across, too… just grab a couple of pictures with Google Image Search and do a quick cut-n-paste job and there's the whole joke, ya know? I'm not going to do it, though. It just wouldn't be right. I'm not going to do it.
DOH! Now, how did that graphic get up there by the news story?
- Those Bad Ol' Traditional Catholics
Man, I just can't get enough of this kind of crap:
This is the transcript of a news story from Australian ABC radio about very Traditionalist Catholicism. You can listen to it on MP3 here. It begins, after an narrative introduction, with the sound of the Christian Mass being conducted in Latin. After that sound clip, an announcer says "Catholics who grew up prior to the second Vatican Council, held in the 1960s, would know exactly what they're listening to, a Mass conducted in Latin.
Among the many changes stemming from Vatican II, Pope John XXIII did away with the Latin mass, but there is a small minority within the Catholic Church who like things the way they were.
At the extreme end, they call themselves Sedevacantists."
The news story then goes on to detail the odd (to my way of thinking) beliefs of Sedavacantists. It would be fair, I think, to say that Sedavacantism is peculiarly anti-Semitic. Now, keep in mind that Sedavacantists are a schismatic pseudo-catholic group that is not in communion with the church of Rome and is not representative of other people with Traditionalist Catholic beliefs. Yours truly, for instance. That distinction, though, is intentionally blurred in the news story... it begins talking about Traditionalist Catholics and then moves on to describing a fringe group. It's called listener-manipulation. I worked in radio for eight years and I know all about this game. During the news story, an ex-priest named Paul Collins (that's right, ex-priest, so right away, you know that he's not really a reliable source on Catholic doctrine) describes Sedavacantism this way:
They tend to insist on the necessity for Latin in the mass. They see that as a kind of sacred language. They are also highly critical and non-accepting of any reforms to the liturgy and the worship of the Church. So they want to say mass in the old style. They tend to hang onto old style vestments - all that kind of thing.
And so, with one broad stroke, everyone who enjoys hearing the mass in Latin, who believes in old-style liturgy, and who prefers older vestments is painted as a Jew-hating Sedavacantist.
Here's how it works: The average schmuck who doesn't know much about Traditionalist Catholic beliefs hears this news story. Then one day he hears a Traditionalist Catholic say something about how beautiful the Mass is when said in Latin. At this point, Joe Schmuck remembers the news story he heard and believes that the Traditionalist Catholic he's talking to is some sort of fringe lunatic.
Media magic, folks. Michal Moorism at it's best. If you tell the truth acrobatically enough, you can twist it into something entirely inaccurate.
I'd site sources and references to explain why this view of Traditional Catholics (or Catholics in general) is wrong and bigoted, but the successful selling this kind of "news" hinges on three kinds of people:
- Those who hear this kind of crap and know better, so they don't believe it.
- Those who hear this kind of crap and know better, but they hate Catholics and/or the Catholic church simply because they enjoy that hatred, so they choose to believe and/or perpetuate this garbage.
- Those who hear this kind of crap and don't know any better, so they believe it because, hey, it was on the news so it has to be right. Right?
If you're one of the first two kinds of people listed above, you already know that this crap is wrong, so I won't waste your time explaining it.
If you're part of the third group… well, I won't waste my time explaining anything to you. Just keep listening to the media. They'll do your thinking for you.
If, however, you really don't know much about Traditional Catholicism and you'd like to learn about it, there are a few things you can read and a few things you can do. Start with the New Testament. That's the earliest volume of writings that the Church ever collected, as guided by the Holy Spirit, to explain what her dogma really is. You might already have a copy around the house somewhere. You may have even heard a few verses from it taken out of context and twisted in hateful, unChristian ways. Don't let that discourage you. Read it. Pick one of the Gospels (Matthew is my favorite) and just read it. It'll take you maybe an hour. If you read some of it and like what you read, attend Mass and talk to a Priest. He can get you started in the right direction from there.
- Metallica On The Simpsons
When The Simpsons season opener airs on September 10, Metallica will be the featured guests. Hey, you got your metal in my comedy! You got your comedy in my metal! The Simpsons and Metallica! Two great tastes that taste great together!
If you're curious about what the band will look like Simpsonized, look no further:
- Jerry's Doesn't Show His Guts, George Takei Spills His
Recently, a discussion about Jerry's innards devolved, of course, into a sidetrack discussion about George Takei. I suppose that makes sense. I've found that it's nearly impossible to discuss any surgical procedure without bringing up George Takei. (!!??!) In that discussion I referred to Takei as one of the "creepiest" celebrities out there. If you need a better understanding of why I feel that way, you can click the pic and watch a YouTube video. For the record, my repulsion to Takei has nothing to do with his homosexuality. I could provide you with a list of homosexuals that I like and admire, but I don't want to out anyone. So, no, it's not his gayness that creeps me out. It's Takei's utter creepiness that creeps me out. (I think it's the laugh. I'm shuddering just thinking about it).
- Speaking Of Chinese Things…
Click the graphic below for a YouTube video that only an uber geek (like me) could love:
And speaking of fortune cookies, the other day Wendy and I had to have tires put on her car and we ended up with time to kill. So we had some Chinese buffet food for lunch. (If I had to explain my weight problem in two words, those two words would be "Chinese Buffet") Anyway, at the conclusion of our lunch, this is the fortune that Wendy ended up with:
Neither of us are sure what this means. Exactly how and/or when will these birds become entangled in Wendy's feet? And will the men in question be entangled in the tongues of the birds or in their own tongues? Either way, it sounds messy. I hope this happens while I'm at work.
- When Ficus Attacks!
When it comes to wooden-gun waving, vegetable people, there's NOBODY in the same league as the Hebron Palestinian Security League:
We in the west aren't even on the same planet as these people, are we?
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I thought about posting this at film geeks, but I'm trying to post more reviews and fewer sundry collections of junk there… so here's the junk where it belongs, at SouthCon.
Wendy and I watch movie trailers on the internet a whole lot. Like everyone. There's a thousand trailer websites on the net, and it's hard to see them all. Tonight I accidentally stumbled across Video Detective. The thing about this site is that it shows you the trailer you select, and then just starts a random stream of trailers after the one you chose. So, if you're like me, before you know it, you've sat through 50 trailers, all the while saying "just one more, just one more, one more and I'll quit, OK, this is the last one, alright just one more…"
Thing is, you can't embed the trailers at Video Detective, and I've yet to find a way to really link to them in a way that I'm happy with. It seems that the link it creates relies on the cookie on your individual PC… so I've gone to the trouble of finding other sources for the movie trailers that caught my attention.
THESE are the movies I hope to see in the next few months:
- Running With Scissors
The trailer reminded me simultaneously of two of my favorite films (The World According To Garp and About Schmidt) crossed with The Royal Tenenbaums. If the movie is as good as the trailer, it ought to really be something, because the trailer itself made me laugh out loud three or four times:
- Happy Feet
I can't remember the last time I wanted to see a kid's movie, but I have to admit, this one has me interested. It looks like it combines the best elements of The Lion King and Ice Age. By the time the preview got to the little penguin singing Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now", I was won over. Late in the trailer I heard the unmistakable voice of Robin Williams, and I have to say that I'm sick to death of Robin Williams at this point. Still, with Elijah Wood, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Hugo Weaving in the cast, there's a lot of potential.
This film looks like it might just be my kind of thing. A Scanner Darkly never appealed to me… but this one looks Frank Miller-esque, with maybe a bit of Aeon Flux thrown in. Promising? I think so.
- The Namesake
This is simply not the kind of movie I ever get interested in. So I'm at a loss to explain to you why I think this movie looks so damn good.
With a January release date and a poster that looks kinda silly, this film just didn't seem to be anything I'd care about… but the preview conjured up childhood memories of how much I liked the Conan the Barbarian films. Plus, this movie looks all dark and grungy and cool and stuff… so now I'm all, like, I dunno… maybe I'd actually enjoy this movie…
- The Departed
I love Scorsese, but it's been a long time since I was excited about a new Scorsese film. For one thing, I'd like to think he's capable of making a movie without DiCaprio. Nothing against DiCaprio, but does he have to be in every friggin' film Scorsese makes? Anyway, The Departed looks like a return to the Scorsese I love. The same guy who made Cape Fear, Casino, and one of my all time favorite films, Goodfellas.
Monday, August 21, 2006
The Freefallin' Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan's list of accomplishments (both notable and dubious) is considerable:
- From his earliest recordings, Dylan was writing songs in opposition to the war in Vietnam. That's notable regardless of your feelings on Vietnam. Dylan wasn't cashing in on the anti-war rock movement of the late 60's. The point is, Dylan was writing and singing about the war while the rest of the rock world was doing the twist.
- As soon as he'd established a following for his acoustic folk sound, he changed it up in 1965 with an electric performance at the Newport Folk Festival. It's the stuff of legends. Apparently the crowd booed him, but every time the story is retold, the crowd's reaction is worse and worse. The last time I heard a version of the story it ended with a hippie running onstage and stabbing Dylan through the heart with a wooden stake. Damned hippies!
- His golden period (beginning with 1965's Highway 61 Revisited through the early 70's) turned out some of the best songs in the history of rock and roll.
- His soundtrack to Sam Peckinpah's 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid was (I think… maybe…) the first instance of a pop-rock star scoring all of the music in a major Hollywood film.
- Dylan confounded his fans toward the end of the 70's by converting to Christianity and releasing a string of Christian albums, none of which are very good.
- In the 80's, Dylan embraced the elder statesman of rock role and toured in sort of a patron saint roll with the Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, and others. Nothing from that period was especially good, either. The "Dylan and the Dead" recordings are particularly excruciating listening experiences. Imagine a group of confused elderly men on stage simultaneously hallucinating and attempting to assault one and other very slowly with musical instruments.
- Later day accomplishments (if that's still the word) have included a bewildering and brief speech at the Grammy awards... an absolutely bizarre ad for Victoria's Secret... a return to Newport, where he performed looking like some sort of kung-fu cowboy rockstar (the picture above is from that performance)... and a universally panned movie called Masked and Anonymous.
Now, according to Parade Magazine, Dylan's life is about to be adapted for the screen, and six different actors will be playing Dylan. The movie, called I'm Not There, will feature these six actors, each playing Dylan in different stages of his life:
- Christian Bale
- Heath Ledger
- Richard Gere
- Ben Whishaw
- Marcus Carl Franklin
- Cate Blanchett
The cast listing at IMDb has some differences from the list in Parade magazine… so we'll see. If Parade is correct, these are the six faces of Bob Dylan, as he'll be represented in I'm Not There:
You can read more here.
I shouldn't prejudge the film based on this information… but I can't help but expect it to be as disjointed, rambling, strange and ostentatious as the most recent years of Dylan's career have been.
Friday, August 18, 2006
This Was The Week That This Week Was
Just catching up a bit on the news items I've missed over my busy week:
- Virgin Chocolate?
Some people think this hunk of chocolate looks like the Holy Virgin Mary:
I don't see it. It kinda maybe sorta looks like Darth Vader, but really not even that. Maybe a melted Darth Vader?
By the way, here's an idea: How about looking for the Virgin Mary in the Bible? Check the book of Luke, it's full of wonderful stuff about the Mother of God. Of course, there's always the option of looking for images of Mary in ourselves and in the people around us. Saintly behavior and devotion to Christ is everywhere, though sometimes fleetingly, if you just look for it. Maybe nacho pans, grilled cheese sandwiches and bricks aren't the best place to find images of the Holy Virgin.
Just a thought.
- Death By Chocolate?
A guy in Wisconsin darn near died in a horrible, wonderful way this week:
Authorities say a man fell into a tank of chocolate early this morning at the Debelis Corporation.
Witnesses say it looked like the man was trapped in quicksand or cement.
The man was trapped waist deep for two hours. He says he went into the vat to unplug it.
After two agonizing, delicious hours, the man was rescued by a strange, top hat wearing man and a group of orange midgets:
- Advance Word About Snakes On A Plane
The Onion has the word from the street:
- An Idea For The Sequel:
How About Two Headed Snakes On Two Planes?
(World Aquarium officials in St. Louis ) hope an exhibit that opens next week and runs through Sept. 5 will prompt the creation of a Guinness World Record for the most two-headed animals on display. So far, the aquarium has lined up 10 two-headed snakes and turtles.
Yikes! Who'd want to go see that? I mean, who in the world would be interested in looking at bizarre, unnatural pairs of things that Mother Nature never intended?
- Oh, Yeah…
Canadian actress Pamela Anderson stands on the deck of a boat before her wedding ceremony aboard a yacht in St Tropez, southern France, July 29, 2006. Anderson is wedding U.S musician, Kid Rock.
Congratulations to the famous couple.
Congratulations to Kid Rock, too.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Now, where was I?
Oh, yeah… a week ago, the Unseen Blogger tagged me with a book meme, and I committed to completing it.
Along the way I noticed that MCF had done the meme, but he'd changed it to an 80's animation theme instead of books since he vaguely remembered having done the book variation in the past. Then Otis got in on the action, doing the cartoon version as well.
Then I remembered that MCF definitely had done a version of this meme before, and that he'd tagged me with it, too. So, since I'd already done this kind of thing once before, I decided to change it up myself. Instead of books and instead of cartoons, my version is about albums:
I'm going with Tony Rice's amazing Cold on the Shoulder. Before I heard this album, I was just like every other uppity dipstick when it came to bluegrass music. I thought I knew what it was all about, I thought it was all about these kinds of people, and I looked down my nose at bluegrass in general. Then I heard Rice. There was no getting around the fact that the guy was a remarkable musician. I don't think I appreciated his absolute mastery of song, though, until I heard Cold on the Shoulder. There were moments (the best example is the track "Wayfaring Stranger") when I sat in wide-eyed disbelief at the inexpressible beauty of what I was hearing. I've been an unabashed and enthusiastic bluegrass fan ever since. And, here's the thing about bluegrass fans: Often when two of us are together and hear someone else mocking bluegrass, you might notice a sly exchange of glances. It's an exchange that says "Remember when we were ignorant a-holes, too?"
My favorite album, Pearl Jam's Ten. I absolutely love this album. I can't be objective about it. It's just my album. It was the perfect album, released at the perfect time, with each perfect song written and recorded perfectly. I have so many associations and memories with this album. I can remember specific times in my life when it was the background music… specific instances when one song or another from this album was on the radio. I can play each solo on the album in perfect, synchronous air-guitar. I know and can sing along with each of Vedder's grunts, moans and fricatives. And this is an album, not a collection of songs. In case you had any doubt, the band opened and closed it with a brief instrumental bookend piece. It is meant to be heard as a whole, and I hear it as a whole quite frequently, even all these years later. Oh, if only Pearl Jam had ever done even one other album that was half this good. If only they'd concentrated on the music and less on the politically ostentatious posturing. If only, if only….
Yes, Ten is my favorite album… by my favorite band is and will likely always be Metallica. Yes, I'm aware that Metallica sold out, Metallica sucks, Metallica are a bunch of irrelevant old men, Metallica are yadda, yadda, yadda. Just shut your yappin' pie hole, OK? I don't want to hear it and I don't care. Metallica is my favorite band. The thing is, It's like I'm Metallica's battered wife. I keep taking them back because they used to be so good to me. They still love me… I just know they do, and they'll show it again one day! So in spite of pointless sets of cover songs and blatant instances of hubris and otherwise wonderfully written and played albums that were ruined by an incompetent producers, I keep going back. If I had to pick a single Metallica album to take on a desert island… a place where time stands still, where no one leaves and no one will…it would have to be Master of Puppets. I'll just never get tired of it. It's their high-water mark, they're standard by which I judge every subsequent effort, and an album I could listen to any day of the week. The band created that album by following their instincts, not a trend… and it will go against the grain until the end.
And if you can name the two songs from the album that I quoted in that paragraph (WITHOUT Googling the lyrics), you get ten bonus SouthCon points.
When The Darkness released their album Failure To Launch, I got what they were doing. I didn't enjoy it, but I got it. They were trying to be heavy and be funny at the same time. Some music critics thought it was impossible and that the band could only be seen as a joke, but I knew better. I knew better because of SOD's outstanding, hilarious Speak English Or Die. This 30 minute blast of thrash metal from 1985 was simultaneously heavy-as-anything and also extremely funny. Even in 1985, SOD recognized the political correcting of rock and roll that was taking place (Rock Against Drugs, anyone?) and they were having no part of it. Speak English Or Die is a thrash metal classic with enough riffs and monster leads to satisfy any metal fan… but with lyrics that literally caused my buddy John and I to have to pull over to the side of the road the first time we listened to the album because we were laughing so hard. Songs like The Ballad Of Jimi Hendrix and Chromatic Death and the blistering title track were so much fun. In much the same way as This Is Spinal Tap from the year before, Speak English Or Die both mocked and celebrated everything that is big and dumb and loud and stupid and wonderful about heavy metal. It remains a cherished favorite of mine to this day.
When Layne Staley of Alice In Chains died, my immediate reaction was cynical disgust. I'd been a fan of the band for years, but I'd also heard all the stories about Layne's frequent overdoses and rehab stints. I wasn't surprised to hear that he'd finally OD's and died. "Stupid junkie," I thought. "If he couldn’t clean up and quit taking the drug that he knew was killing him, why should I give a damn? Just one more dead junkie, right? If somebody is bound and determined to kill themselves with drugs or drink or alcohol, then so be it. Screw 'em. Let 'em die."
A year or so after Layne died, I happened to be listening to an old favorite of mine, the Alice In Chains EP Jar Of Flies. It may be that for the first time I actually paid attention to the lyrics on that particular day… or it may just be that I was just a little more sensitive and a little less cynical than usual for some reason. Anyway, the hopelessness and utter sadness of the lyrics hit me for the first time. Songs I'd always liked, such as Don't Follow and I Stay Away… and, most especially, No Excuses… hit me like a ton of bricks. The honesty, the desperation and the pitiable pleas in those songs overcame me. I found myself actually choked up and wiping away a few tears for Layne and for everyone who was ever swallowed whole by an addiction. There but for the grace of God go I.
A live album by The Sleestacks would have been awesome.
There is one artist… one and only one, about whom I can say the following: I absolutely can not stand a single song she's ever recorded. I hate, loathe, and despise every one of her songs… at least every one of her songs that I've heard. I make a great effort to hear as few of her songs as possible. And so I can say, for certain and without qualification, that I wish every single album and/or song ever recorded by Shania Twain had never been recorded.
I don't suppose I'll ever get tired of Johnny Cash at San Quentin, maybe my favorite live album of all time. Everyone knows and refers to the Folsom album.. and, granted, Folsom really is a masterpiece… but I can't help but prefer San Quentin. This is one album that has so many layers and so much rich texture that I don't think I'll ever hear all of it, appreciate it entirely, or really fully get it's significance. The music itself, of course, is outstanding. Everyone knows A Boy Named Sue, of course… and, yes, it is indicative of the rest of the album. However, it's only a scratch of the surface. There is so much on the San Quentin album. There's an energy… an urgency… about this recording. It might come from the prison crowd, obviously thrilled about the rare occasion of a night designed to entertain them. It might come from Cash himself, only a year or two into his own sobriety and his marriage to the great love of his life, June Carter. It's probably a combination of the two. Songs like "I Don't Know Where I'm Bound" and "Starkville City Jail" make the rapport between Johnny and his audience palpable. The centerpiece of the show, two back to back performances of the protest song San Quentin, literally make my spine tingle… and the closing gospel set of songs wraps it up with an honestly hopeful finale. God bless the record execs at Sony who decided to finally make the entire recording available in 2000. This is a once-in-a-lifetime set, and I get something more out of it each time I hear it.
At Christmas in 2003 I gave Wendy Brand New's album Deja Entendu, and, shockingly, we both enjoyed it very much. It's rare that we both enjoy an album. I can only think of five or six examples. Anyway, both of us liked Deja Entendu and, somewhere along the line, one or the other of us acquired Brand New's previous album Your Favorite Weapon. I remember listening to it once or twice and thinking that it was really good, really solid, and that I'd probably end up enjoying it quite a bit if I'd just keep listening to it. You know how it goes, though. Sometimes an album just falls through the cracks. Now and then I remember that Your Favorite Weapon is among our music collection and I'll feel guilty about not listening to it more than I have. I'm sure that I'll really enjoy that darn CD… if I only give it the chance to win me over!
10. Tag some others:
My usual standby: If you read this and you're inspired to write something similar, consider yourself tagged.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
The Face Of The Earth…
…Just so you'll know, I haven't dropped off of it. It's just been a very busy week. I'm working the day shift this week and we've been busy in the evenings. I can't remember what we were up to Monday evening, but we had something or other to do. Yesterday (as my fellow Catholics know) was a Holy Day for church goers, so we went to church and when we got home, all I was up to was a quick, slanderous graphic that I threw together at film geeks. Today we're getting together with friends, so there's no time for blogging today, either. I hope to write something tomorrow. Maybe. We'll see.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
I'd happily encourage everyone to go see the post about Abby at You Know, For Kids... but I'm reluctant to knowingly send my readers to a post that I am fully aware contains a picture of a dog turd. So if you're reluctant to see that image, you can simply click this next link and watch the associated wonderful video.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
This is my review of The Descent, as originally posted at film geeks.
Statistics show that the movie industry cranks out a new horror film every 40.7 seconds. They throw 'em together like Big Macs and serve 'em up to an unthinking, uncaring audience. In our death-obsessed culture, horror films are the artistic equivalent of fast food. All filler, no substance… cheap, processed, unexceptional and bad for you.
And then there are films like The Descent.
Seeing The Descent is like enjoying a gourmet meal at a restaurant that usually serves junk food. This is the kind of film that reminds me why I will not settle for substandard horror movies. This one is good. Very good. It's a keeper, and I can't wait for repeated viewings on DVD.
Now, notice that I said that The Descent is good. I didn't say that it was pleasant. I didn't say that it was nice. It's not. This is that rarest of rarities; a horror film that's actually scary. In fact, The Descent is downright upsetting at times.
And, like the best horror movies, The Descent is a roller coaster. It works best when you don't see the curves coming. That's why I'm going out of my way not to give anything away in this review. I encourage horror fans to go out of their way to learn as little as possible about this movie before you see it. Don't go on line and watch the preview; the preview gives far too much away. Don't read detailed reviews or opinions on the internet. I'm not even including my usual IMDb link in this review because even the basic page there simply gives away too much. See this movie with all of it's scares left intact. They are worth savoring.
All you need to know about the plot is this bare-bones outline: Five adventure-seeking female friends from the UK go to visit an American friend for a caving expedition. Shortly after they enter the cave, a rock slide traps them inside. Fear and confusion lead to panic and paranoia, and maybe to delusions. Soon, the women are as motivated by long held, unspoken grudges (both major and trivial) as they are by the drive to survive. And, just as it seems that things couldn't get any worse, things literally go all to hell.
So what can I tell you about The Descent that might make you want to see it without giving away too much of the plot? I can tell you that The Descent is
- The best flat-out scare-fest of a movie I've seen since Signs in 2002.
- The most unsettling movie I've seen since Se7en in 1995.
- The best written, directed and acted horror film I've seen since 1991's The Silence Of The Lambs.
- As smart and observant about human nature as last year's brilliant, dread-tinged The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
- The scariest movie I've ever seen in a theater.
I've carefully thought about all of those superlative statements before posting them in this review, and each of them is honest and accurate. I've seen scarier films than The Descent, (such as The Exorcist and Alien) but that's a short list and I never saw any of those films in the theater. I was too young when they were released. Comparing this film to The Exorcism of Emily Rose (my favorite film from last year) is also valid because this movie really is smart and razor-sharp, just like E of ER. It's that good. I'm going to have to rethink my list of my favorite horror films. The Descent belongs on it somewhere.
My recommendation does come with two caveats, though.
For one thing, this is a very gory film. If strong, bloody violence isn't your thing, you might not want to see The Descent. Having said that, let me also say that I've made it clear how I feel about gore porn, and this is not a gore-porn film. This is a movie with a real story, believable and interesting characters, and not one second of gratuity. There is a great deal of gore, but all of it is natural and organic to the story. Had this story been told without gore, it wouldn't have worked.
Beyond that, I have a very specific complaint with the film regarding four exact instances of dialogue. These four instances of dialogue were so bad, so silly, that I'm withholding a star from what I'd otherwise consider a flawless film.
I'm not going to mention three of those instances here in this review because to do so would be to give away intricacies of the plot. I will mention one of them, though: I, for one, would like to call a moratorium on the use of the word "Shyte" in films featuring characters from the UK. Can't movie makers come up with some other contrivance to convey to us that a given character is trendy, hip Euro-trash? The "Shyte" pronunciation of the word "sh*t" has been done to death. It's clichéd, it's a cheap gimmick, and I'm tired of it. So I'm officially putting moviemakers everywhere on notice: cut the shyte.
Now, if you've seen the film and you want to know what my other three complaints were, you can click the link at the end of this paragraph. Let me restate, though, that I can't voice those complaints without giving away significant elements of the plot… so DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK UNLESS YOU'VE SEEN THE FILM.
No, The Descent is not flawless. However, it is a genre masterpiece, and it's as good as (or better than) any horror movie that's been released in the past fifteen years. If scare-fests are your thing, go see The Descent. Buy your ticket, get your popcorn, and brace yourself for one hell of a white-knuckle drop.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Cynthia Slides Out, Movies Slip In, And A Story That Just Can't Be Real...
- So Long, Nutball!
Michelle Malkin has put together a great video tribute to exiting black female negro African American Nubian woman feminine ebony-tinted congressperson Cynthia McKinney. Click the pic to watch the video, it's a hoot.
Cynthia McKinney has spent her time in congress cooking up conspiracy theories, quoting black African American Nubian ebonic rappers like Tupac, doing the electric slide, smacking cops, and just generally serving as a total embarrassment. Cynthia's behavior is the reason she's gotten the boot. So who do her supporters blame? Well, of course, they blame the Jews. Keep in mind, this isn't drunk-driving, out-of-your-mind anti-Semitism we're talking about, here. This is the real thing. Political and cultural anti-Semitism. The kind that gets people killed.
So if there's nothing else to celebrate today, at least we've got this going for us. One fewer maniacal, self-obsessed, opportunistic grifter on the Congressional payroll. Now if we could figure out a way to get rid of the other 534 of 'em, that would be REAL progress!
- Horrific… If It's Real
I've been looking around for other sources on this story. I'd like to see some other reports besides one from a site that is dedicated to the pro-life cause. I can't help but be skeptical about something this evil. It just can't be real.
Women from around the world are traveling to clinics in various locations that are now offering face lifts and cosmetic surgery using tissue from babies who have been killed by abortions.
Pro-life advocates are strongly condemning the practice and saying the taking of human life is never warranted -- especially for such a self-serving purpose.
Women like Susan Barrington, a 52-year-old housewife from England, are heading to places such as Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Moscow and Rotterdam to obtain the treatments.
She has been given the final go-ahead form a local clinic to travel abroad for the treatment that promises to make her look 10 years younger and doesn't mind that lives have been sacrificed to enhance her beauty…
This can't be real. Can it?
HT: A Catholic Life
- Too Soon For Movies?
There's a good post and some good discussion now at Strange Culture about films like World Trade Center and United 93. Is it too soon to make those films? Is there such a thing as "too soon?" MCF has the topic on his mind today as well.
- Little Or No Blogging For A Few Days
Wendy and I have a lot going on this weekend. It's unlikely that you'll hear or see anything else from me before Monday. Have a good weekend.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Spidey Stuff at film geeks
Not much going on here today... but I did post some Spider-Man 3 on-set pictures at film geeks today if that's your kind of thing.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The Doobie Brothers, Apologetics, Tom Cruise, DNA and BLOGGER SUCKS!!
- You BET That Blogger SUCKS!!
I have no idea if this thing is going to post or not. I'll try again later. If you're seeing this, it means that it did post. I just spent the past 90 minutes writing the post below (assuming you're seeing it) and now I can't get the %&$#@#$ thing to post. I am SICK TO DEATH of constant problems with Blogger. Once again, let me urge ANYONE who's thinking about starting a blog to use ANY BLOG SERVICE other than Blogger.
- Lyrics Through The Wendy Blender
So, we get up this morning, make coffee, feed the dogs, make breakfast… and then I sit down here at the PC and Wendy turns on the television. As she flips channels she flips past VH1 Classic and they're playing "What A Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers. Wendy says something about not liking that "racist song."
So I enquire "Huhh?"
You know, this song where they're singing that "The white man has the power."
Of course, if you know the song, you know that the lyrics are "No wise man has the power." Turns out that, ever since she was a kid, Wendy has thought that this song was about white power. This was made all the funnier for both of us this morning when she saw the video and realized that the Doobie Brothers are a multiracial band.
Misheard lyrics are a classic Wendyism. Here are some other examples:
The Ben Folds Five, "Kate"
Real lyric: "Her mix tape's a masterpiece."
Wendy heard: "She makes tapes and masturbates."
(That may, in fact, be the case regarding Kate. However, Ben Folds didn't go into that much detail.)
Gwen Stefani, "Holla Back Girl"
Real lyric: "I ain't no holla back girl."
Wendy heard: "I ain't no Harlem black girl."
(Gwen Stefani, by the way, is clearly not a black girl. Have you ever seen her? If she were any whiter, she'd be translucent.)
Gwen Stefani, "Holla Back Girl"
Real lyric: "Let me hear you say, this s**t is bananas."
Wendy heard: " Let me hear you say, this s**t is bananas."
(Wendy heard correctly. Turns out that the real lyrics really are that stupid.)
- More Apologetics
Pastor Scott is discussing Sola Fide at his blog, and, as always, it's well worth your time to read what he has to say. By the way, I've had another Armchair Apologist post coming on for a few days now. Last week's episode of The Journey Home was a great one, Marcus did the whole thing by himself. He mentioned ten key Bible verses that were roadmarks along the way during his own journey home to Rome. Some of the verses he mentioned were new to me… some were verses I'd read myself during my own discernment, and I was on the couch shouting "Yes! Yes!" with shared joy. I also had several verses of my own that were key to me that weren't mentioned on the program. I'm going to write a post about the ten verses that Marcus mentioned and throw my own key verses in as well.
- It's Official: Tom Cruise Is Over
From the daily news at the Internet Movie Database:
Hollywood megastar Tom Cruise has reportedly been given a pay cut in his production deal with Paramount Pictures. The actor and his business partner Paula Wagner's previous deal allowed them a budget of up to $10 million a year to cover overheads and develop films through their company Cruise/Wagner Productions. … Paramount funded Cruise's latest movie Mission: Impossible III, which is expected to take up to $400 million in the international box office, but due to Cruise's expected profit margin, the studios will only just break even. The actor's lawyer Bertram Fields says, "We received an offer and we are digesting it. We will sit and talk about it."
It's never official until the studio hits 'em in the pocketbook. So now it's official. Tom Cruise broke Hollywood's golden, unspoken rule: Don't jump on the couch. It's time for Tom to buy that time-share with Sly Stalone, Kevin Spacey and Burt Reynolds.
- Your Body: Property Of Pfizer
Recent bathroom reading on my part lead to some genuine outrage. It sounds like something out of one of Phillip K. Dick's nightmares, but it's true.
A few years ago, UCLA geneticist Wayne Grody was working hard to help deaf children. Grody was conducting clinical tests on Connexin 26, a human gene linked to deafness, hoping it would lead to more effective treatment for kids. Then one day he received a letter from Athena Diagnostics, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company. Grody says the letter informed him that Athena owned a patent for the Connexin 26 gene -- and he could no longer perform tests on it himself. Instead, he would have to pay thousands of dollars up-front and send future gene samples to Athena for testing. He had no choice. "I had to stop," Grody says. "The cost was out of sight." The clinical tests ground to a halt.
It may sound bizarre, but it's true: A company can actually "own" human genes. That's the brave new world of gene patents, where big biotech firms are claiming rights to our genetic blueprints and guarding them with teams of lawyers. And the result, say scientists like Grody, is stalling vital medical research, perhaps even delaying lifesaving cures.
"I don't think most people realize what's occurring," says Lori Andrews, a law professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology who specializes in the subject. "People find that the genes within their bodies have been patented without their knowledge and consent."
Remember, these are the very same people who want us to allow them to farm humans in embryonic form for stem cell research. Do YOU trust 'em? What are they really campaigning for? Life saving research or just future copyright profits?
Think about it. The most outspoken political proponent of stem cell research in recent years was John Edwards… remember him and his famous campaign promise about stem cell research and Christopher Reeve walking again? John Edwards really wants stem cell research. John Edwards is also a trial lawyer, the kind of guy who stands to make huge money on patent suits.
I'm not presupposing a conspiracy theory, here. I'm just calling it like I see it. It's pretty transparent. Lawers + patent laws + drug companies = medical progress? Riiiiiighhht.
Monday, August 07, 2006
- I'm Dumb, But I Think About It
MCF is a genius. If you don't believe me, go check out this week's Phantasmic Links.
I took the same IQ test that MCF took, but since I scored lower than he did, I won't be posting my results here. Instead, I'll post the results of my Personality Type test:
- The Write Ultrasound
Jerry and Mrs. Write are expecting! Go look at the early baby pictures and congratulate the family.
- The Last Word On Mel
As of now, I'm done talking about the Mel Gibson debacle. I suppose I've made my point, but if you missed it, I'll sum up here: Mel screwed up and screwed up bad. Mel then apologized and seems to be going out of his way to do the right thing. The Christian thing to do is forgive him and drop it, but there are lots of people (many who call themselves Christians) who aren't willing to do so. Oh, well. Those people who've been sober and hateful are far worse examples of Christianity than Mel himself was, if you ask me.
Hollywood Secularists (of Jewish descent and otherwise) are piling on, attempting to drum the maker of The Passion Of The Christ out of town. Ho. Hum. Mel has reached out for forgiveness and help, both with regard to his alcohol problem and his inner demons regarding the Jewish people. His apology has been warmly received, for the most part, by the people who matter. That's good. That settles it. The right thing for a Christian to do now is to pray for Mel and his family and to just drop it. Of course, there are bloggers out there who are just feasting on this issue, and they'll continue to do so. Again, oh well. As he usually does, Pastor Scott has summed it up with more eloquence and accuracy than I could ever hope to. Read his post and consider the topic SouthCon history.
- They Don't Call It Sin City For Nothin'
Props to Lorna for pointing out the heinous new law that's gone into effect in Las Vegas... and, what's worse, I've found myself in the awkward position of agreeing with the ACLU on something:
The City of Las Vegas is being sued over its no feeding the homeless policy. The ACLU says the city has no right to deny people the chance to feed hungry citizens who are homeless.
The Mayor says he's ready for this fight and he says this issue is not about letting the homeless starve. He says he doesn't want the homeless to starve, but says feeding them in city parks doesn't help - they need to come to the shelters to eat.
The ACLU is firing back. They announced Wednesday afternoon that they're filing a lawsuit against the city.
"If they want to sue us, the ACLU wants to sue us? Then come on baby, because I make my living defending lawsuits," said Goodman.
I have never in my life felt any desire to go to Las Vegas. I want to now, though. I want to load my car with canned goods and coolers full of drinks and to go Las Vegas and get arrested for feeding hungry people. OK, that's hyperbole, but you get my point. This law makes me furious. I mean, OK, sure, it's one thing to do things that encourage people to continue self-destructive habits, but feeding people is outlawed? Come ON!!
I can see a distinction, here. Giving ten bucks to a crackhead is probably a dumb idea. Giving a sandwich and a little friendship to a crackhead, though... that's essential Christian behavior. I hope that this law is stricken down quickly and irrevocably. Not just because it is wrong and hateful... also because I hate being on the same side as the ACLU on any issue! ;)
- Mess Me Up For Life!
I can't believe it, but I've actually talked Wendy into seeing The Descent with me. We are going to see it on my day off this Friday! Oh, if only this movie lives up to the hype. The scariest film since Alien?!? The best horror movie in twenty years!?! Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please... let it be, let it be. Let this be the movie that forces me into therapy. Let this be the movie that keeps me up at night for years. Please, oh please, let this movie scare me into a quivering mess.
I know I'm doing the wrong thing by buying into the hype this way. When Otis and I went to the theater to see 28 Days Later a few years ago, we both left the theater feeling let down. The hype had really undone our appreciation of the film. One of the major critical taglines was "this movie will scare the hell out of you." Well, the film didn't scare either Otis or me, so we left the theater ticked off. Only when I saw the movie again on DVD did I appreciate that, artfully, it is actually a very good movie. I'm going to make a serious effort not to let the hype ruin The Descent for me... but at the same time, I'm seriously hoping to spend the rest of my life cowering behind the couch after I see this film. Oh, how I LOVE a good scary movie. Emphasis on the "good" part, there.
- How Is The Headline Relevant?
I don't know if you'll care about this, but check it out and see what you think. Read this story about a man accused of horrible crimes (rape, murder) and explain to me how the trivial matter of the jacket is worthy of mention in the headline:
It looks like this guy really is guilty, no question. It's not like the West Memphis Three, who were (I believe) convicted of crimes they didn't commit because of their taste in music and clothing.
Yeah, I admit I'm sometimes overly sensitive to this kind of thing. That's likely the case with this story, too. Still, the whole thing smacks of an unfair stereotype, if you ask me.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Last May I got a speeding ticket, 43 in a 35. I kinda sorta felt like the officer could let me slide on that one, it's not like it was a Go, Speedracer, Go kinda thing… my speed just crept up on me. Anyway, the cop wrote me a summons and the judge gave me the option of scheduling Driver Improvement School instead of being found guilty and getting the points on my ticket.
So I scheduled driver improvement class. I took the class today and I passed it. I are driver edumacated. Now I just have to remember to mail the completion certificate to the court or it will all have been for naught.
Surprisingly, I did learn several interesting things during the six hour class. Some of them were very surprising to me. For instance, did you know that one person is involved in a motor-vehicle accident every four minutes in the state of Virginia? Whew! They wouldn't tell us the guy's name, but I definitely wouldn't want to get in a car with that dude.
I've posted a list of things I learned in class below. Sometimes we got off on a few tangents, but our instructor, a very nice police sergeant, answered our questions gladly. One of the things in this list is something I faked; not really something we learned in class. The rest are all genuine facts, at least in the state of Virginia. Can you spot the fake?
The answer will be left as the first comment to this post.
Which of the following is not a genuine factoid I learned in driver improvement school?
- When riding a bicycle in public, you are subject to all of the rules of the road that apply to a motor vehicle. The only difference is the DUI laws. You can't be arrested for DUI on a bicycle.
- When a driver displaying road-rage is behind you and clearly wants you to pull over and let him or her around, it is now the law that you must pull over and let them around.
- It is illegal to blow your horn to alert someone that you're there to pick them up. You can only legally blow your horn to warn someone of danger.
- The safest day of the week to drive, statistically, is Sunday.
- There is still a law on the books in Waynesboro, Virginia, which makes it illegal for a woman to drive a car up Main Street unless her husband is walking in front of the car waving a red flag.
- When I was taught to drive, we were taught that the proper place to keep your hands on the steering wheel was in the "10 & 2" position. Nowadays, however, it is considered proper to keep your hands in the "9 & 3" position.
- It is now just as illegal to drive while fatigued or "emotionally impaired" in the state of Virginia as it is to drive while intoxicated.
- With regard to homicides, statistics show that firearms are the weapon of choice just over 50% of the time. Vehicles are the weapon of choice about 30% of the time, and the remaining approximately 20% is divided between blades, blunt instruments, poisons and everything else.
- People with little to no formal education are arrested and convicted of fewer DUI's than people with college degrees. Also, Southerners are arrested and convicted of fewer DUI's than Northerners. So, all in all, us dumb Southerners tend to get good and loaded at home. Keep it in the family and all that. ;)
- The class included discussion of several actual accounts of fatal accidents that have happened in the state of Virginia in the past ten years. I recognized one of them from the unique circumstances involved… and it was the fatal accident that killed my ex-wife's best friend.
- When telemarketers call your house to solicit money for police departments, police-related charities, sheriff's associations, etc… more than 80% of the take goes to the telemarketing agency and NOT to the charitable agency itself.
- Radar speed detector's respond to metal. In states that require cars to have both front and back license plates, most of the time it's because many modern cars have fiberglass front ends and the radar detectors rely upon the front plate to detect your speed.
- Alcohol breath testers can only pick up on the alcohol in your system. They can't pick up on any other drug. Once, a local police officer was confident that a woman he'd pulled over was very high on cocaine. He had her take an alcohol breathalyzer test, which showed no alcohol in her system. However, he lied to her and told her that the test showed no alcohol in her system, but did show a high level of cocaine. He then asked her if she'd just admit to it and turn over the rest of the cocaine. She admitted that she was on coke and handed the officer the rest of the cocaine. He then admitted to her that he'd lied about the breathalyzer, that breathalyzers can't really pick up cocaine, and he then arrested her. The moral of the story: It is illegal for us to lie to the police when they are conducting an investigation… however, the cops can lie to us all they want!
- A meth lab was recently discovered in our area in the bottom of a Salvation Army donation drop-off box, like the ones pictured here. It was highly explosive and dangerous, and could have possibly caused an injury to someone innocently dropping off a donation at the box.
- If a police officer is driving down your street and sees you mowing your grass on a riding mower and suspects that you are drunk, he can investigate... and if it turns out that you are drunk, he can arrest you for a DUI!
So which one is it? Which factoid above is fake? Check the comments to find out.
I Actually Want To See It
I had presumed that the new Oliver Stone film, World Trade Center, would be from a political perspective that I'd not share. It doesn't seem to be a political film, though. Based on the preview (posted below) I find myself really wanting to see it.
Otis Gets Ornamental
Everyone go check out the new look of You Know, For Kids, the new blog by my real life friend, Otis. He's really souped it up, and if it wasn't obvious before that the theme is inspired by his favorite film, it ought to be obvious now. So go take a look already.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Comic Relief For Mel
Rob Schneider, star of cinematic milestones such as The Animal and The Hot Chick has taken out a full page ad (I'm not making this up) in a Hollywood trade paper, announcing that he'll never work with Mel Gibson because of Gibson's DUI arrest, during which Gibson made anti-Semitic remarks:
The ad stated: "I, Rob Schneider, a 1/2 Jew, pledge from this day forth to never work with Mel Gibson, actor-director-producer and anti-Semite."
Schneider also supported Hollywood talent agent Bernie Brillstein for disassociating himself with Gibson, claiming: "I just don't like bigots."
Oh, well… so much for Mel's planned epic "The Passion Of The Gigolo".
Of course, we can only fear that things will get worse from here. Who knows, maybe Carrot Top will be the next big star to boycott Gibson.
A number of legitimate Jewish groups have reached out to Gibson following his apology for the remarks he made during his arrest. Of course, these groups are largely made up of people who practice Judaism as a religion and a way of life, rather than Hollywood Jews who merely see their religion as a political trump card.
Of course, Jews aren't the only ones taking the "Holier Than Thou" route with regard to Mel's mistakes. Just look around the blogosphere, hypocrites are crawling out of the woodwork everywhere. ;)
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Muslim Fun Day Canceled??
It was with tremendous shock and dismay that I heard today that the Alton Towers Amusement Park in London has canceled "Muslim Fun Day":
Britain's biggest theme park announced it has called off the country's first "National Muslim Fun Day" because of lack of interest.
Alton Towers in central England was to open on September 17 for Muslims-complete with halal food, a strict dress code and prayer areas.
Music, gambling and alcohol were to be banned for the day and theme park rides such as "Ripsaw," "Corkscrew" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" would have been segregated by sex.
This is just so hard for me to accept. I mean, if there is one mental image that just spells FUN in big red letters in my mind, it's the idea of a group of bearded, turban-sporting men, waving automatic machine guns and shouting "There Is No God But Allah!" on the "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" ride.
…The park says the event's organizers, Islamic Leisure, who rented the park for the day and were marketing the event, had called it off due to "insufficient ticket sales."
Insufficient ticket sales? How can this be? If there are two words that are linked together inseparably in the modern collective conscience, they've got to be "Islam" and "Fun."
In a statement, the park says, "Alton Towers is disappointed that the planned Family Fun Day Sunday 17th September has had to be canceled," with a park spokeswoman assuring Islamic Leisure would refund those who bought tickets.
Organizers had hoped to fill a niche for Britain's 1.7 million Muslims, some of whom may be uncomfortable with mainstream entertainment.
But the fun day had caused some controversy: a non-Muslim couple scheduled to hold their wedding at the park's hotel complained to newspapers that event organizers told them the bride and female guests would have to cover up.
The park promised the party would be exempt from the rules. A park spokeswoman said the wedding would take place as planned.
In an unrelated story, the Four Little Pigs Bar-B-Que restaurant in Benton, Kentucky has canceled their planned Jewish Buffet Day, scheduled for August 24th. No explanation had been given at press time.
(By the way, this isn't intended in a bashing-all-Muslims kind of way... this is intended in a Don Rickles kind of way. I'm not a biggot, and I am not anti-Semitic. Nor am I drunk, nor am I a movie-star.)
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
As I've covered ad nauseum here, I'm a Catholic Convert in the mostly Baptist South. That makes me an oddball.
I’m also an unapologetic heavy metal fan in the culturally conservative South, which doesn't make me an oddball particularly… there are quite a few other heavy metal fans 'round these parts.
The thing is, I'm as socially and politically conservative as any good ol' Southern Red Stater. What separates me from most of my cultural contemporaries is, for the most part, the minor issue of musical preference.
I like heavy metal. Most of my peers like current country music. I absolutely loathe country music.
Well, I loathe what passes for country music these days. The crap that they play on country music radio. They can tell me that it's country music all they want, but I know the difference. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard. I know the difference between real country music and the Shania Twain / Rascal Flats / Toby Keith garbage that is marketed as country music these days.
Here's why I'm on this rant today: Now and then, one of my cultural contemporaries will let me know… either subtly or overtly… that he or she doesn't approve of my taste in music. Nine times out of ten, what happens is this: some rabid fan of modern so-called "country music" will make it clear that, in their opinion, if I were a real conservative, a real Christian, a real whatever, I wouldn't listen to Metallica and AC/DC and Black Sabbath.
My response is always to insist… usually futily… that most heavy metal is harmless and that the really irresponsible and dangerous lyrics are the ones in modern country music. I honestly believe that. When it comes to lyrics, metal is silly, fun, harmless music for the most part. The lyrics of modern country music, on the other hand, are an awful influence on impressionable young people.
That's my thesis… and that's what the following experiment is designed to prove.
So here's the setup… I'm going to post a brief summary of the lyrics to a given song… after the summary, I'll pose the question… have I summed up a metal song or a modern country song? You can click the link to find out the specific song I'm referencing.
So check out these song summaries and judge for yourself… which kind of lyrics are really the worst possible influence on young people?
Example #1: "I had my first sexual experience when I was under-age and drunk. I remember it fondly."
Country or Metal?
Example #2: "I like women who listen to Bon Jovi and get drunk and naked in public."
Country or Metal?
Example #3: "Don’t let peer pressure or material concerns prevent you from confessing belief in God."
Country or Metal?
Example #4: "If a woman is in a relationship with an abusive man, she should murder him and cover up her crime."
Country or Metal?
Example #5: "If a woman is involved in a relationship with an abusive man, she should murder him in the most grizzly way imaginable."
Country or Metal?
Example #6: "Teach your children that prostitution is a viable alternative to poverty."
Country or Metal?
Example #7: "America is a great country and worth fighting for."
Country or Metal?
Example #8: "I've met a woman who would like to build a relationship slowly, but my goal is to screw her and dump her."
Country or Metal?
Example #9: "Mortal leaders are corruptible, but their power is nothing compared to the peace of Heaven."
Country or Metal?
Example #10: "I have come to this establishment to get drunk and arrange a one night stand, and I won't leave until I've been forced to do so."
Country or Metal?
Apology Made, Apology Accepted
Mel Gibson issued the following apology regarding anti-Semitic remarks he apparently did make during his DUI arrest. I found it at the American Papist, and I'm reposting the whole thing here:
"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.
I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.
The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God's child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.
I'm not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.
I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery.
Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.
This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have. It's about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad."
How has the Jewish Anti-Defamation League responded? They've accepted the apology. ADL director Abraham Foxman says:
"This is the apology we had sought and requested. We are glad that Mel Gibson has finally owned up to the fact that he made anti-Semitic remarks, and his apology sounds sincere. We welcome his efforts to repair the damage he has caused, to reach out to the Jewish community, and to seek help. Once he completes his rehabilitation for alcohol abuse, we will be ready and willing to help him with his second rehabilitation to combat this disease of prejudice."
Now if only all the secularists, Christian haters and self-righteous hypocrites in the world would accept his apology as well we'd really have... well, ya know, on second thought, screw those people.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
McFat @ 15
MCF is grilling us for information again.
1) Your life is going to be a graphic novel. Who's writing it, and who's drawing it?
Frank Miller and Frank Miller. I don't know why anyone would want anybody else to do the art or the story.
In fact, Frank and I have actually been working on a treatment for a story about my life for some time now. We're slightly modifying the title from one of his previous works.
2) Weather patterns are shifting every year. Wars are exploding across the globe. When and how do you see the world coming to an end?
People worry about that kind of thing all the time. I guess I just don't think it's relevant and that it's a waste of time to think about it.
I've heard all kinds of answers. For the first thirty-some years of my life I was taught a colorful pseudo-Christian science fiction story that had been invented by an Irish lawyer, and I made an effort to believe it… but it all struck me as simply silly. It was a major relief to finally learn as an adult that none of it is actually Scriptural, nor is any of it taken seriously by legitimate theologians (like this guy) as opposed to notorious fabulists (like this guy). I know that it might be hard for readers in other parts of the country and/or world to believe me, but there are people in this area of the country who really take this stuff seriously. The rapture, the political rise of the antichrist... they swallow it all.
I'll put it this way: The Left Behind books and Da Vinci Code are one in the same: Both claim to be fictional works based on fact, but both are laughable works of fantasy based on lies and desperate misinterpretations… and both are terribly harmful to the real message of Christ. Read and believe either at your own peril.
I've also seen and read every possible secular idea about the end of the world (like this one and this one and this one) and I noticed that all of them hinge on the supremely vain idea that man is actually capable of destroying the planet. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy some of those movies and books, they weren't without artistic merit… but they aren't to be taken seriously, either.
How will the world end? It's a silly question and it's pointless to ponder it. The real matter I need to consider is that my own life will end, and I'd better be living right when that happens.
3) What, if anything, would turn you into a supervillain?
You mean I'm not one now???
4) Let's try another showdown question: TMNT vs. The Kurgan; who wins?
I don't know what either of those things are. I'm gong to have to look it up.
OK, I've learned that Kurgan is a Northern or Central Eurasian burial mound. I've also learned that TMNT is a contributor to the Urban Dictionary, and that his sole contribution to the dictionary is the word "edumacated", which he says is street vernacular for "educated."
So now, what was the question again?
Alright, who would win in a battle between a guy who can't pronounce the word "educated" and a burial mound in an indistinct area in either Europe or Asia?
I suppose we've all pondered that at least a time or two in our lives.
I'm having a hard time picturing the battle in my head. I just have an image in my head of a fairly inarticulate young man jumping up and down on a mound of dirt, yelling "Edumacated! Edumacated!" I suppose that in the end, you'd have to declare him the winner… but in battles such as these, does anyone really win?
SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: The year is 3994. What’s a Mok?
I suppose that a number of things might have gone amok by that time. I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for, though… so I'll say that in the year 3994, culture, politics and the arts will all be amok. By the way, you should start spell-checking the McFats before you post them. Your spelling of "amok" was all weird looking.
Oh, crap… I've just gone back and looked at your original post so I can post a link to my answers. I just copy and paste your questions to a Microsoft Word document when I write my answers. Anyway, I now see that you provided links to TMNT and Kurgan, and they had nothing to do with my answers, did they? Regardless, I'm sticking with my original answer: The inarticulate guy would win.
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