Thursday, September 28, 2006

 

Unabashed Right-Wing Lunacy



I suppose I should offer something of an apology to my left-leaning blog friends… and to my blog friends who just hate politics in general… and to my blog buddies who're just a little slow… but there is an election little more than a month away and I'm currently obsessed with politics.

Yes, that means the irresponsible, ignorant, baseless, fanatically extreme and grossly misleading right wing rants will continue for a while. I'll go back to writing about Metallica and The Simpsons and religion and popular culture about mid-November.

Anyhow...

Nationally, I don't think this is going to be a good year for conservatives. We're going to lose seats in both houses of congress. The question now is how many. My precise prediction is a bit odd, but I correctly predicted that Bush would beat Kerry in '04 by two points ... and that here in Virginia, Tim McCain (D) would beat Jerry Kilgore (R) in the Governor's race by at least six points. So I'm feeling a little confident with the prognostications and I'll throw this out there: I think that the Republicans will narrowly retain the Senate and that the Democrats will get the House. Yes, I'm predicting that rarest of rare birds, a congressional split.

I also predict that the subsequent gridlock will do more to damage the liberals than the conservatives, and that, in the end, it will be beneficial to the Republican Presidential candidate in 2008.

Now here's where my predictions get a little hazier. I'm less confident of these predictions, but I'll throw them out there because they just "feel right," right here, right now.

The presidential race in 2008 will come down to Barak Obama Vs. George Allen, and Allen will win decisively.

Read that again. I know, you think I'm crazy, but read it again and think about it.

Both parties will run their mass appeal candidates, and that's Allen for the Republicans and Obama for the Democrats (Hell, even I like Barak Obama, and I disagree with him about almost everything).

John McCain has made far too many enemies to have a serious chance of being the GOP's guy. Hillary Clinton isn't a serious candidate, and once the heartland has a good look at her, the Democrats will drop her like a hot potato. Jeb Bush might want to run, but he won't try so close to the second term of his unpopular brother. Colin Powell is perceived as having the wrong stance on Iraq by both sides. Condi Rice simply doesn't want to run. My personal pick, Michael Steele of Maryland, is bogged down in an ugly Senate race and I don't see him making a Presidential bid in '08. Charles Rangel and Nancy Pelosi both want to be President, but they're both unmarketable outside of their decidedly liberal home bases.

All that's left for 2008, baring something unforeseen, is an Allen / Obama race. Fortunately, for conservatives, Allen is an outstanding choice.

George Allen will win in '08 because his policies are simply better than the unified, blind stubbornness of the Democrats.

The Democrats realize that even now, which is why they have nothing to attack him on during the current Virginia Senate race. Nothing other than trumped up, phony bologna charges of racism. Honestly, the current debacle is just funny. This is, after all, Geraldo level stuff. Not serious politics at all. The libs are desperate; can't attack Allen's stance on the actual issues because they realize that his stance on the issues makes more sense than theirs.

In case you're unaware, here's the deal: George Allen called one of his opponent's campaign workers a "Macaca," a nickname he apparently had in the back of his mind because he'd heard someone on his staff apply it to the same guy. (I wrote about that in the last entry of this news roundup.) Allen used the word "Macaca" in a taped, public setting… so it's obvious that he didn't realize that the word is a racial slur in some parts of the world. Nobody with half a brain would think he'd intentionally use a racial slur in public. Only Democrats are allowed to do that and get away with it.

Would Allen use a racial slur knowingly in private? I don't know and I don't care. I don't expect the guy to be perfect, I just want a President with a good head on his shoulders.

Besides, I'm sick of the double standards. Black liberals are allowed... even encouraged... to attack white conservatives simply because they're white. It's just silly, and it's a non-issue in my opinion. I just do NOT care.

Now, Allen stands accused by others of having used the word "nigger" at some point in the past. Others accuse his Democratic opponent of having done the same thing, and the issue has turned into a joke. This is the way Democrats campaign. It's a desperate attempt to get blacks and other minorities to vote based on a negative gut reaction rather than considering the issues themselves and voting for the best candidate. It's insulting, and I'm sure that I'd feel all the more insulted if I were black.

And, if you're wondering how the racism charges against Allen are playing here in Virginia, here's the deal: We Virginians aren't stupid, we know a bait-and-switch racket when we see one. Allen will win the senate race decisively, with only the Tidewater and Northern Virginia areas leaning away from him.

Bet on it.

The libs will abandon the racism charge after this November when they see how disastrously it failed them in the Senate race. They'll then be forced to attack Allen on his actual voting record and leadership abilities, all of which are rock solid. Allen will come out smelling like a rose. He is consistent with the same common-sense policy POV that kept Dubya in the White House in 2004, but he has a much better ability to convey it. George Allen is downright Reganesque, and he'll win 2008 decisively.

I mean, after all, we reelected Dubya in spite of his difficulties "working a room." We reelected him because we realized that his administration's stance on foreign and domestic issues simply made more sense than the Democratic party's muddled meanderings. That hasn't changed since 2004. The Democrats are still miles away from any actual ideas in '06… and they'll still be a mess in '08. Obama, likable as he is, will lose the election because his initiatives simply aren't as good as Allen's are.

I'll credit Obama this, though: he's a serious candidate. He's no dummy, he comes as close to common sense as anyone in the Democratic party is capable of, and he'll run a damn good race.

I don't think he'll allow personal attacks of Allen as a racist to muddle the waters, either. I get the impression that he's going to be above that. Obama's has campaigned on race relatively few times, and mostly in relevant ways. One of the few areas where I'm familiar with him having made charges of racism, off the top of my head, is the death penalty. I happen to agree with him on that matter. Not only is the death penalty morally wrong, it really is applied to blacks far more frequently than to whites who are convicted of the same charges. Just look at the numbers.

Obama may disappoint me and run a campaign based entirely on the color of his skin, but I honestly think the guy is beyond that. I may be a fool. It may be that, from my perspective, he's simply rose colored.

Anyway, just felt like ruminating on politics a bit today.

I'll wrap with a slight change of topic from Jay Leno. I got a real kick out of this:



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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

 

Scum



The guy is just arrogance personified.

Really, I should just stop visiting Hot Air. Every time I do I end up seeing further evidence of what a sleazy, arrogant bastard Clinton has always been... and every time it makes me sicker and sicker.

Click here to see the piece that set me off today, a 2004 interview featuring Slick attempting character assassination against the late Peter Jennings and ABC. Jennings mentioned to the former President that a C-SPAN panel had ranked him 41st our of 41 Presidents in terms of moral authority. Slick flatly said that he didn't care. His response, in fact, was redundant and a bit unhinged:

They're wrong about that. They're wrong about that. You know why they're wrong about it? They're wrong about it.


Jennings wouldn't let him brush the C-SPAN panel off. He told Slick that he could tell that it did bother him, that his outrage was palpable.

Slick's reply:

You don’t want to go there, Peter. You don’t want to go there. Not after what you people did and the way you, your network, what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every little sleazy thing he leaked. No one has any idea what that’s like. That’s where I failed. You want to know where I failed? I really let it, it hurt me. I thought I believed in a, I thought I lived in a country where people believe in the Constitution and the rule of law, freedom of speech. You never had to live in a time when people you knew and cared about were being indicted, carted off to jail, bankrupted, ruined because they were Democrats and because they would not lie. So I think we showed a lot of moral fiber to stand up to that, to stand up to these constant investigations, to this constant bodyguard of lies, this avalanche that was thrown at all of us. And, yes, I failed once. And I sure paid for it."


The hubris. Really, can you imagine the fantasy world this guy lives in? I suppose it's easy when you're insulated, surrounded 24/7 by sycophants and hangers-on.

What an arrogant, paranoid, petty little man. It's disgusting. It makes me want to puke. The fact that this guy still has fans among the "literati" is totally beyond me.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

 

Network Review



This is my review of Network, as originally posted at film geeks:



On paper, Network should be unwatchable. On paper, this Sidney Lumet-directed, Paddy Chayefsky-penned classic from '76 should be a convoluted, pompous mess of a movie. All of the things that ruin lesser films are present, here: Characters deliver long monologues in the pretense of conversation. The plot goes from stark realism to outrageous fantasy by the middle of the second act. Many of the principle characters themselves are so extreme as to seem cartoonish. It shouldn't work. On paper, Network should be the kind of film that people don't even finish watching.

The reason Network not only succeeds but actually triumphs is that the film is the product of a director, writer and actors all working at the peak of their considerable talents. Thirty years after it's release, Network not only endures, it actually grows in relevance, power and importance. There hasn't been a better film than Network in the past fifty years, and only a handful of movies are it's equal.

The two disc, 2006 special edition of Network is a treasure, and every second of footage on both discs is worth the watching. In a day when the very idea of special editions is devalued by two-disc sets dedicated to films like the Texas Chainsaw remake and Oliver Stone's already bloated Alexander, this set is peerless. You can't send nineteen bucks in a better way than in the purchase of this edition.

Like the best satire, Network presents itself with a straight face and wide eyes. The film never winks at the viewer. In fact, Chayefsky insisted that he hadn't written the script intending satire, but rather as a straight reflection of what he saw in the present and future of America's TV news media. Given thirty years to reflect, Chayefsky seems as much a prophet as a playwrite.

The film tells the story of major network news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch), who's informed by his boss and old friend Max Schumacher (William Holden) that the network is going to fire their anchor due to poor ratings. Beale takes the news badly, and announces on the air that he plans to commit suicide on an upcoming live broadcast. The network's PR people scramble to undo any damage that Beale's rant may have done to the news department's credibility … but then, something strange happens. Network head honcho Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall) learns that Beale's suicidal rant has actually boosted the network's ratings. Suddenly, for the first time in ages, the network's news department is drawing a viable market share.

Because of the ratings, credibility takes a back seat to marketability. The news department is placed under the direction of the entertainment department, and the clearly insane Beale is allowed to keep his job and stay on the air. Beale's ranting and raving continue, and continue to draw more and more viewers… and the network begins to build their news department around Beale's insanity.

Implausible? No. Don't dispense with the notion that a major TV network would allow a clearly demented figure to head a major news broadcast in the name of ratings. Consider Dan Rather. Consider Bill O'Reilly.

Watching Network today is almost eerie. As Beale's program gets increasingly weirder, incorporating stained glass windows and psychics, your instincts might be to balk. No network news program would become something so perverse, right? Well, think about it. Beale's deranged program only lacks one thing that today's modern TV network news broadcasts have retained: attempted subtlety. Just like in Network, today's TV network news programs have replaced objective reporting with an odd form of info-tainment that incorporates circus clowns and soothsayers of doom. Today's news anchors are every bit the circus ringleader that Beale is, marketing outrage to a culture that can't get enough of it. Just like Beale's audience, America's primetime news viewers love to get mad, even if they're not sure why their mad, or exactly who the targets of their anger should be. We're not interested in the details. Minutiae is boring. Outrage isn't.


Peter Finch won a well deserved posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of Beale, and his performance is matched by everyone in this steller cast. Holden, the displaced news director, is weary and authentic as a man drawn slowly into a madness that he no longer wants to fight. Duvall, cast against type, is a convincing and hateful villain. Best of all is Faye Dunaway as Diana Christensen, the network's entertainment director. Dunaway is devastating and beautiful, here; perfectly conveying the youngest member of the cast as a product of the first television generation, the first age of people to be turned back into the machine that created them. Christensen is unable to think about anything other than ratings and marketing, even coldly studying her own psychological problems as though they were the elements of a failing sitcom. Dunaway's performance in Network is unforgettable.

Other elements of the film perfectly parody TV's coverage of '70's touchstones such as the Patty Hearst kidnapping and self-styled revolutionary Angela Davis. If you're old enough to remember those people and events, the movie's sly observations will strike home. If not, then the way TV deals with (and creates) news in the film will resonate on it's own.


In Network's best known sequence, Howard Beale encourages his audience to go to their windows and shout to the world that they're "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore." The streets in towns and cities across the nation reverberate with the shouts of Beale's sheep, doing his bidding as commanded. But what, exactly, is everyone mad at? Beale's muddled attempt at an explanation for his rage only confounds the situation. Only Diana Christensen recognizes the situation for what it really is: simply one more sign of a ratings triumph. Beale's followers have bought his outrage and they're eating out of the palm of his hand. Thirty years later, Chayefsky dire vision of the American news media... and, more importantly, it's audience... has been realized. In 2006, TV news depends on an audience willing to believe anything the info-tainment department wants to sell us, as long as it's outrageous. Thirty years later, we're still dumb as hell, and we'll take all of it we can buy.




Watch one of Howard Beale's vulgar, nutty and
absolutely honest rants about television...
and how his audience just doesn't get it:



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Monday, September 25, 2006

 

"Liar, Bully, Conspiracy Monger And Abject Failure"



Those are Michelle Malkin's words to sum up Bill Clinton, and they are dead-on perfect. Michelle was inspired by Clinton's raving attack on Chris Wallace when the Fox newsman asked him about his administration's many flat refusals to capture or kill Osama bin Ladin.

If you missed it Wallace's interview with Slick, basically Clinton threw a fit that would make Howard Dean look demure. Here's a transcript, and here's a video of Slick's blow-up. Click here to here Drudge's aghast reaction to the way Clinton actually physically poked, prodded and pushed Wallace … and you can click the graphic below to watch Malkin's brilliant Hot Air summary.

You can also click here to hear Wallace talk about what happened after the interview; how Clinton continued to fume and threatened to fire his aides for putting him in a position that made him look bad.

And why, by the way, does Bill Clinton put all his eggs in the Richard Clarke basket? Richird Miniter knows.

Why is this important? Because the country must never forget that the root cause of bin Ladin's successful attack against the US on 9/11 was Boomer-Age Democrat Party policy. It was the outdated and unreasonable philosophies of Boomer Democrats that lead to the Clinton age pie-in-the-sky world view of a "bridge to the future." It is the oeuvre of Boomer Democrats to believe that they have, as their birthright, a better understanding of the world around us than anyone else. They have believed for years… and still believe… that they simply have a better grasp on reality than the rest of us. They believe that if we only have the good sense to give them the power, all the world will be so inspired and awed by their innate understanding of everything that we'll all (every generation, every nation, every color, creed and religion) just naturally fall in step with them.

And, as we saw on eight to ten different occasions during the Clinton administration, when it comes to making the hard decisions and risking the blame, Boomer Democrats turn into spineless blobs of jelly. God forbid they take an action or make a choice that might lead to unpopularity! God forbid they do the right thing in the face of objections from the French, the Germans, etc. God forbid they ever put themselves in a position to have their wisdom questioned! Any excuse to back away from those decissions will do. After all, if they made those tough choices, they'd end up feeling less like their idealized 1960's heroes and more like this guy. And that just wouldn't do, would it? I mean, after all, the current president isn't popular.

We must never forget the inherent failure of the Boomer Democrat world view because Boomer Democrats are still out there, they still haven't learned a damn thing from 9/11, they still believe that the world will toe the line if only we get the chance to ascertain their wisdom, and they are still as power hungry as they've ever been.

Remember this on election day this November… and make damn sure you remember it in November, 2008.

NEVER, EVER, EVER FORGET. The Clintons, indeed everyone from their age group with their political and social inclinations, are liars, bullies, conspiracy mongers and abject failures. They had their shot. They blew it. The world has moved on.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

 

Gimme That Old Time Pagan Religion




If you're like me, some of your fondest memories of childhood involve celebrating pagan fertility rituals with your family

So I was thrilled to find PaganParenting.com, a great source for godless heathen couples who wants to make sure that his and her (or her and her ... or his and his) children grow up worshiping pinecones and whatnot. At this website you can pick up some nice tips for making pagan springtime rituals fun for your toddlers … you can get household necessities, such as your very own I'm Pagan And I Vote Tiled Beverage Coaster … you can even learn to cross-stitch a good old fashioned pentagram, just like the ones grandma used to make.

Now that's fun for the whole family.

And what home is complete without a pile of rocks and sticks in the living-room corner, lovingly built to attract your very own colony of faeries?

Honor Faeries by making them new homes with natural and windfall supplies building materials. Faeries ARE the natural world, so "Sticks and stones will make Faerie homes!!" (Isn't that better than the other saying?!?) Let your lil' one pick out materials either in the woods a local park or craft store - and let her make the Faerie home, ONLY help if asked. Then place the new residence in a cozy corner of your home if you want to attract faeries, or outside if you already have a family you want to honor.


All of this pagan fun is courtesy of Rey, who I'm sure is, at this very moment, engaged in a circle ritual designed to summon an Earth spirit. Or, possibly, not.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

 

Three Saturday Quickies



Three quick things:




 

Night Of The Lepus



This is what happens when they let potheads write the scripts for candy commercials. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing.


Be careful what you trade your Skittles for. You may end up sleepy and bleeding in the rain. That's always been my motto, by the way.

By the way, Nehring The Edge is holding a blog carnival:

We're looking for movie reviews, DVD reviews, screenwriting tips, industry news, opinion pieces...anything relating to cinema. High brow or low brow, Hollywood or otherwise let yourself be heard.


This oughta finally get me off my butt and reviewing at film geeks again.


Friday, September 22, 2006

 

Blog-Bomb Rhodester?



Here's an idea. See what you guys think.

I know that some of the folks who read this blog are, like me, fans of The Chronicles Of Rhodester. Like me, you might be bummed that Dave has abandoned the blogosphere for some kind of online Sims-like game.

Wendy and I mention to each other every couple of days or so that we miss his blog. He's a great writer and his stuff was always fun and/or insightful. Plus, we just miss his general presence in the blogosphere… his comments, his smartass remarks, etc.

So here's the idea: You know how we right-wingers are, we think all problems can be solved by bombing the hell out of something. Let's blog-bomb Rhodester.

We pick a day and each of us who are Rhodester fans hit his last post with a plea in the comments section for him to return to blogging. We each also post an entry about his blog, maybe referencing a favorite post or Rhodester blog memory, and we each encourage all of our readers to stop by that month-and-a-half old last blog post and also leave comments asking the guy to come back to us.

Any takers?


 

Friday... For Some



After years of saying "I've eventually got to read that," I'm finally knee deep in The Watchmen. I'm also working graveyard shift, so I don't have a ton of free time right now. I'll probably devote the remainder of my free time this weekend to reading this acclaimed graphic novel, so this'll be the last you'll hear from me for a while.

Just a few things worth mentioning:


Thursday, September 21, 2006

 

Out Of The Closet



OK, so I make it clear that I'm pretty anti-TV. I think TV eats our brains and ruins our lives, etc, etc.

Having said that, I must admit that tonight's episode of The Office was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. I laughed until I was in tears. This show is often outstanding, and tonight was a great example of The Office at it's best.


 

Tingly Feeling



You know that tingly feeling you get when you see a preview for a really promising movie? I got that feeling tonight. Twice. Click below and tingle all over.

Clint Eastwood's
Flags Of Our Fathers



Frank Miller's
300


As cool as the 300 trailer is, I think my favorite thing about it is the brilliant use of my all-time favorite Nine Inch Nails song, "Just Like You Imagined". Like "Closer (Further Away)" in Se7en... like "The Mark Has Been Made" in Man On Fire... and like "Burn" in Natural Born Killers, this looks like another brilliant use of NIN as movie soundtrack music. NIN's stuff is so cinematic sounding anyway, I'm glad to see turn up in good films.


 

This Week That This Week Was (So Far)



Just a few thoughts on the news items of the week:


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

 

Reality On Television



At 9:30 on the morning of July 15, 1974, Christine Chubbuck began her regular morning news program, Suncoast Digest on WXLT (Now WWSB) in Sarasota. Earlier that morning, Christine had taken her crew by surprise by announcing that she was going to begin her program with a news recap. Typically, the first half-hour of Suncoast Digest was informal, almost unscripted, focusing on guests and light features. This morning was different.

For about the first eight or so minutes of her news wrap-up, Christine was her usual self: pretty, professional, measured, but friendly. She summarized three national stories from the day before and then read a piece about a shooting at a local restaurant the previous evening. Chris's crew attempted to run footage from the story about the shooting, but a technical malfunction prevented the footage from airing. Jean Reed, the camerawoman who was working that morning thirty-two years ago, later recalled becoming nervous. Christine had a reputation for not responding well when technical problems caused her to come off badly on the air. News director Mike Simmons considered Chris "very emotional."

Jean queued her anchorwoman: "Chris, the film's not going to roll." "Not going to roll," Chris repeated with apparent wry amusement. Jean later remembered having time to feel relief that Chris didn't seem angry. The crew cut back, live, to the newscaster. The things that Chris Chubbuck said and did next weren't soon forgotten by those who witnessed them, whether at the WXLT studio or on live regional television.

Queued, on the air once again, Chris said the following:

"In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living color, you are going to see another first -- attempted suicide."


With that, Chris Chubbuck raised her right hand from below the desktop. In it, she held a .38 caliber handgun. Placing the gun to the bottom of the back of her skull, she pulled the trigger. A quick-thinking video-director immediately cut the live visual feed, but WXLT's audience heard the gunshot that morning. It was only when Chris's twitching, contorted body fell to the floor that everyone in the studio realized that what they'd seen hadn't been a tasteless prank. Blood-soaked on her anchor's desk was a story she'd previously written long-hand: the story of her own suicide attempt with prophetic details about her transport to Sarasota Memorial Hospital and her "critical condition." Within 14 hours of her arrival at the hospital, the 29 year old local celebrity was pronounced dead.

Chris Chubbuck had committed suicide on live television.

By the time the networks picked up the story that evening, Chris's last words resonated in almost every household in the country: " the latest in blood and guts and in living color…"




Christine Chubbuck's life was no different than most; quirky in some ways, nondescript in others. The child of a wealthy family from Hudson, Ohio, Chris had moved to Sarasota to pursue her career in television and had taken up residence in the family's vacation home in that area. By July of 1974, the 29 year old was sharing the home with her recently-divorced mother and her brother, a sickly interior decorator.

Chris had a difficult time reaching out to people and found it almost impossible to form relationships with people outside of her immediate family. It's said that she spoke self-depreciatingly of the fact that she'd reached the age of 29 a virgin, and that she considered her mother and her brother to be her best friends. It's also said that she dryly mentioned the desire to kill herself to even casual acquaintances, but that nobody took her seriously because she exuded such command. Christine Chubbuck was known as a "tough cookie."

Bob Keehn, WXLT's regular evening news anchor, remembered Chris as "someone with very deep feelings… what seemed to concern her was her involvement with the human condition. She would express a negative reaction to people and the way they treated each other." Sports reporter Andrea Kirby said that Chris "came on so heavy, so intense." Jean Reed said "she had a great sense of the absurd, almost a macabre sense of humor."

If Chris's co-workers didn't always know what to think of her, her family sometimes found themselves dumbstruck. Chris's mother, Peg Chubbuck remembered her daughter this way: "There was a haunting melody in Chris. She gave so many presents, spent so much money, not to buy their friendship... but because she wanted to. It's almost like her life was a little out of gear with other people. She was the only person I ever knew who would walk into a room and every head would turn... yet nobody ever came over and asked for her phone number. It's been like that since she was 13."

Lacking even the most rudimentary social life, Chris's existence revolved around the home she shared with her mother, brother and pet poodle… and her job. In fact, Chris's work in television became her focus. According to her mother, "She had a job that she loved. She said constantly that if it ended tomorrow she would still be glad she had had it. But she had nothing else in her social life."

Andrea Kirby recalled after Chris's death that she'd once told her that she "'would like to have, just for one week, someone I really loved, who really loved me.'" Nonetheless, Chris's mother speculated that Chris didn't have more than twenty-five dates in the last ten years of her life. Shortly before her death at the age of 29, Chris had to have an ovary removed for medical reasons. Her doctors told her that her chances of having a child would be exhausted within a couple of years.

Lacking the prospects of a family, Chris Chubbuck threw herself into her job; into television. Television became her parent, her lover, her one trusted friend. Television became her savior… and it ate her alive.

About a week prior to July 15, 1974, Christine contacted local police departments, ostensibly to gather information for a story on suicide prevention. One question she asked was which methods of suicide were the most successful. An officer told Christine that the most foolproof method of suicide involved using a "wadcutter" slug (which explodes upon entry), fired from a .38 caliber revolver, to the lower back of the head.

When she died by her own hand on that July morning in 1974, Chris related a warning to each of her viewers. That might be fitting. Who better to show us what television really is than someone who's seen it from the inside out? "The latest in blood and guts and in living color."




Two years later, in Paddy Chayefsky's brilliant satire Network, washed-up newsman Howard Beale announced his intentions to finish his career by killing himself in an upcoming live broadcast. Later in the film, as Howard's nightly rants became ratings hits, viewers tuned in by the millions to see what the "mad prophet of the airwaves" might say next. In 1976, Network played like broad and grandiose satire. Who, after all, would have the audacity to propose suicide on live TV? It's possible that in two short years, the lonely death of Christine Chubbuck had already slipped from the national short attention span.

In January of 1987, caught up in a tempest of trials and political corruption, Pennsylvania State Treasurer R. "Budd" Dwyer called a press conference and killed himself with a handgun before a cadre of television cameras.

In 1994, in one of his rare moments of clarity, Oliver Stone directed Natural Born Killers. A searing indictment of our television obsessed culture in the early '90's, Natural Born Killers plays like A Current Affair or Hard Copy would have looked, had their producers ever been completely let off the chain. Drenched in the blood and guts that viewers demand, openly worshiping the killers and criminals that the TV generation obsesses over, Natural Born Killers held a gore-dripping mirror up to the national conscious and asked if we liked what we saw. It may be ironic that many of the same shows that Stone seemed to be accusing of sensationalism delighted in reporting so-called copycat crimes.

David Fincher's brilliant 1999 Fight Club, based on Chuck Palahniuk's novel, introduces us to "Jack," a protagonist who's life literally looks just like an Ikea commercial... except for a duel personality that inserts porn clips into the children's films he projects at a local theater, makes soap out of fat salvaged from liposuction clinics (and sells his designer product back to the rich housewives who've had the fat extracted) and prowl's the streets at night looking for someone to connect with. Someone to connect with with his fists. The prospect of connecting in any other meaningful way is lost on "Jack." Having grown up without a father, and ostensibly having been raised by the warped television perspective that's shaped his Ikea value system, "Jack" just wants someone to shove. It played like satire in '99, but it was really insight.

In 2001, NBC debuted Fear Factor, a program that would go on to include footage of contestants eating raw animal entrails and blood, maggots and insects for money. The show continues to be a ratings hit, and "celebrity" editions allow viewers to see the rich and famous sinking to unspeakable levels of humiliation.

In retrospect, the desperate death of Christine Chubbuck doesn't seem quite so odd.

Maybe a bit early, yes… but not all that odd.

"We suffer at our sense of loss, we are frightened by her rage, we are guilty in the face of her rejection, we are hurt by her choice of isolation and we are confused by her message." - Reverand Thomas Beason at Christine's funeral

"And when they found our shadows
Grouped around the TV sets
They ran down every lead
They repeated every test
They checked out all the data in their lists
And then
The alien anthropologists
Admitted they were still perplexed
But on eliminating every other reason
For our sad demise
They logged the only explanation left
This species has amused itself to death
No tears to cry
No feelings left
This species has amused itself to death"

-Roger Waters


See also:

Washington Post article on Christine Chubbuck by Sally Quinn

Everything2 Article on Christine Chubbuck




Tuesday, September 19, 2006

 

Apology Etiquette





I saw this at Cowboy Blob's, where I've become a regular lurker.

Do people still say "lurk" and "lurker," or did that get left behind in the old usenet days?

Anyway, the cartoon originated at Attack Cartoons, which also had some other interesting stuff.


Monday, September 18, 2006

 

Monday Miscellany





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Sunday, September 17, 2006

 

Surreal



I think it's the tongue that freaks me out the most.



Hat Tip: Rambler.


 

Football



Here's some video (about 40 seconds) of my son playing football yesterday. He plays left inside tackle, Number 51 in green and yellow. He blocks his man like a champ!




Saturday, September 16, 2006

 

Those Darned Formal Valet Greeters



This is just one of the laughs I got this morning when I visited Cowboy Blob's Saloon And Shootin' Gallery.


Friday, September 15, 2006

 

Another Reason To Hate Heath Ledger



For the record, I'm still opposed to Heath Ledger as the Joker... and stuff like this just makes it worse:

Already a controversial choice, Ledger continued that ordinarily taking a part in a super-hero film wouldn't interest him. "I actually hate comic book movies, like f***ing hate them, they just bore me s***less and they're just dumb."


Well, then.

Heath can go back to throat-kissing Donnie Darko as far as I'm concerned.


 

How To (Pretend To) Make It In (Cyber) Hollywood



The LonelyGirl15 thing is really pretty funny. Weird, but funny, and I'd say it's harmless. Maybe.

If you're not up on it, here's what happened:



The All-American Girl-Next-Door, right? Except she's not. She's a fraud:

To millions of fans across the globe, she's Bree, a rebellious and often-naive teenage girl who has become an Internet sensation, starring in a series of YouTube video blogs under the handle "lonelygirl15." But as it was revealed this week, Bree isn't really Bree at all — she's Jessica Rose, a 19-year-old actress struggling to make her way in Los Angeles.


Weird. It gets weirder.

In a video posted a week ago titled Bree The Cookie Monster, Bree and Daniel rate batches of cookies they said they baked.

Bree's purple monkey puppet holds up score cards. The first one gets "10", the second "12" and the third one "06". Why "06" and not "6"?

Viewers point out that the sequence makes a date 10/12/06 - or October 12, 2006, using the US method of writing dates. October 12 also happens to be the birth date of the late occultist Aleister Crowley, whose picture can be seen on a wall in Bree's room.


It might be a bit soon to sum this up, but maybe the Blogger News Network has hit it on the head:

… what did they hope to accomplish? Bree's YouTube videos... about 2 to 3 minutes long is a story about a young girl and how she lives and she spiraled to the top becoming "the second most suscribed to channel on YouTube.com. " I would say that is quite an accomplishment for an aspiring actress.

Okay. I get it. They set out to make an internet show starring a young girl and to make it interactive so viewers could up load their own thoughts and feelings and actually be able to tell the girl in the movie, "Don't go upstairs! The killer just went up the stairs!" And she'll hear you. Genius.


In the meantime, I'm declaring a moratorium on all internet usage until we figure this out. Sign off and turn off your PC. I'll call you and tell you when you can sign on again.

That's all for now.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

 

The Daily Show Delivers (For A Change)



I can't remember the last time that The Daily Show made me actually laugh lately... but I admit it, this bit made me laugh out loud. And it's just under a minute, too... so it won't eat up a big chunk of your day:

Hat Tip: Top That.


 

Ten Reasons To Love Killswitch Engage






Wednesday, September 13, 2006

 

It Just Feels Right...



Are you one of those people who just never found a church that feels like the right church?

Looking for a church without all those outdated, patriarchal rules?

Or maybe you don't have a problem with "Jesus," it's just this whole "church" thing that you don't like.

Or maybe you don't need the hassle of giving God an hour of "me time" on Sunday morning.

Well, have I got the church for you.



Hat tip: American Papist.


 

Web Rage



A brilliant article by Florence King in the last National Review offered the best explanation of the internet's left-wing barking moonbats that I've ever heard.

Reflecting on the bloggers enraged by GM's "Restore Your Manhood" ad for the Hummer, King writes:

I googled HUMMER MANHOOD AD, and sure enough, I was not alone. The bloggers and their hit men — there were almost no female respondents — had pounced on the subject with a vengeance but with a paucity of ideas. Of the several dozen I read, only a handful said anything interesting or even coherent. A vet challenged the tofu buyer, “Join the army and drive a real one!” A snob observed loftily, “The only kind of men this ad could persuade are those who can’t afford the $48,000 sticker price.” And an earnest family-values booster droned on about being a good husband and father in a tract consisting entirely of clichés.

The rest was nothing more than an adolescent cleverness contest couched in a monotonous stream of obscenities that pulsated with brutal, mocking anger. The consensus of opinion was that any man who bought a Hummer must be under-endowed, rendered by many respondents with the juvenile phrase “a teeny-weeny wienie.” It all boiled down to the S-word, the F-word, and a list of everybody and everything that sucks: driving, not driving, eating meat, eating vegetables, Bush, supermarket scanners, Cheney, card-swiping machines, Rumsfeld, plastic bags, and people who make a point of asking for paper bags in a loud voice to advertise their eco fides when they’re really destroying trees SUCK BIG TIME! TURN THEIR F***ING CHAIN SAWS ON THE F***ERS!

It had nothing to do with the Hummer ad. It was Web Rage, virtually indistinguishable from every other site treating of a controversial subject: the same tightly wound frustration, the same vicious outbursts, the same inarticulate vulgarity, and the same overabundance of males revealing the same things about themselves that they reveal in similar eruptions of Road Rage. American young men are mad, as mad as hell, but they have little choice about whether to take it anymore. Products of a society that views adult manhood as a politically incorrect threat to be held up to ridicule and rendered inadequate, they are incapable of the towering rage of Lear or the baleful imprecations of Achilles. Infantilized by a hostile culture, they cannot rise above the sputtering, foot-stamping tantrums of Rumpelstiltskin.

Our feminized public schools know how to stamp out foot-stamping males. Operating on the principle that the XY chromosome is a genetic disorder, they use Ritalin to soothe the rumpled beast. When it wears off, our feminized counseling industry stands ready to remake maleness in its own image…


Earlier in the article, King had put her finger on the ad's appeal:


As the ad continued to air, my interpretive juices flowed. Next I decided that Hummer was appealing to the silent majority’s seething resentment of political correctness. Most Americans agree that it’s wrong to use outright slurs; what galls them is having to flag their vocabulary to avoid the landmines set to explode when someone trips over a subtle undercurrent. For example, it’s okay to say “masculinity” because you might be getting ready to condemn it, but you can’t say “manhood” because whatever you say next is bound to be something good.



It's writing this good that justifies the National Review's subscription price. If you don't subscribe… why?


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

 

Superliminal Messages



This is how it works. I worked in radio for eight years, and I know, so you can trust me on this.

Top 40 music is not, per say, music. It isn't made up of "songs" written by "songwriters" with the intentions of artistic expression. Top 40 music is, in fact, mechanically designed in labs by scientists for the flatly obvious purpose of making it's listeners stupider. The albums and singles themselves are actually produced by evil music industry cyborgs. The scientists don't want to expose themselves to the music itself, of course. It would make them stupid. It's kinda the same principle by which a drug-dealer won't mess with his own stash. You don't want to end up hooked on something that you know is bad for you. Leave the product for the suckers.

It's kind of a circular process, but it works. It works all too well. Like this:



The dissemination through Top 40 music that makes you stupider is not hidden in subliminal messages. Ooooooh, no. That would be too obvious, wouldn't it? You'd be expecting that. No, Top 40 dumbs you down with superliminal messages. It's kind of a Purloined Letter situation. The dumb messages are right there, right on top, in the very lyrics to the songs themselves. Once they've got you to the point where you're sitting in your car, happily singing along with these superliminal messages, that's it. It's over. They own your ass.

This is on my mind today because I had to have some work done on my car yesterday and I had to drive a loaner to work and back today. The loaner didn't have a CD player or even a cassette deck. Just an AM/FM radio. In the twenty-odd minutes it took me to drive home from work I was assaulted by the stupidest, most blatantly superliminal idiocy you can imagine. The only radio station that comes in clearly in these mountains is a super-powered regional Top 40 station… so they had me right where they wanted me.

I was able to fight it off, though. I was able to keep it from making me too dumb… or at least not much dumber than I already am… by white-knuckle-gripping the steering wheel and screaming "NOOOOOO!" at the top of my lungs while the radio played.

The first song I heard was the new Justin Timberlake single in which he repeatedly insists that he's "bringing sexy back." At first I welcomed this as good news since I haven't seen Sexy in the popular culture in ages. Have you noticed, like me, that Sexy has been missing? Where's she been? Oh, I've seen Skanky. She's everywhere. So is Trashy. I've also noticed that Empty and Freaky are on TV and in the news constantly … but Sexy has been missing in action for a long time.

Then I actually listened to the lyrics that Justin was singing and realized that it was undeniable superliminal manipulation at it's best:



Them other boys don't know how to act
I think it's special whats behind your back
So turn around and I'll pick up the slack.


Wait a minute. That's not Sexy. Justin fooled me. That's not Sexy… that's Stupid. Justin is actually bringing Stupid back. But that's not really accurate, either… because Stupid hasn't been gone. Stupid has been here all along. What Justin is actually doing is Bringing Stupid Further.

I'm not sure why the scientists didn't simply have Justin be honest and admit that it's Stupid and not Sexy that he's celebrating. There've been a TON of hit songs that have celebrated stupidity… such as this one and this one and this one. It's every easy and very simple to have a hit song singing about stupidity. Justin's handlers should have simply been honest about what Justin was actually doing.

The next "song" was called Buttons and I have a hard time keeping straight exactly what the "band" behind it is called… but it apparently has something to do with dolls and with Vincent Pastore's character on The Sopranos.

The lyrics to "Buttons" are, partially, as follows:

I'm telling you loosen up my buttons baby (Uh huh)
But you keep fronting (Uh huh)
Saying what you going do to me (Uh huh)
But I ain't seen nothing (Uh huh)


Apparently a song about sexual frustration. The singer wants the person she's singing to to come through with a promised carnal exchange.

Now, the grammar is awful, so there's that. But what's worse is the pronunciation. These women slur their words like the drunks you might find leaving a club fifteen minutes after closing time.

The last two lines quoted above actually come out like this:

"Sane Whachoo Gandooda Me,
Buh-Ah-Ain-Seen-Nu-in."


It's hard to hear the song without imagining the guy she's singing to fending off the advances of the local drunken slut.

And this is a HIT RECORD! This is what people WANT to hear!

Next came a cross-over country hit by the band Rascal Flatts. I don't know if this country cross-over hit is purely a regional thing or if it's getting national Top 40 airplay… but I do know that it's obnoxious. It's four or four-and-a-half minutes of this loser whining like a... well, like a big Pastore... about how miserable he is because the woman he loves left him. He whines and cries and bitches and moans and whimpers and blubbers about how lonesome he is… and, to add insult to injury, he seems to be insisting in the chorus that his woman left him because he wouldn't express his feelings to her.

Great. She couldn't get him to express his feelings and I can't get him to stop.

Then, I suppose because four brand-new Top 40 hits would be just toooooo much, the radio station threw one at me with the old school flavor by playing Kid Rock's Cowboy. In this masterpiece, Kid Rock expresses that he wants to

Start an escort service
For all the right reasons.

At this point I was literally pounding on my forehead with my fist to try to keep the stupidity from seeping into my brain and causing me to veer off the road into a ditch simply because I'd become to stupid to drive.

So what are the right reasons for starting an escort service, Kid? What, exactly, would be the wrong reasons for starting an escort service? Has there been a rash of escort services that were started for patently and obviously wrong reasons? Has someone, for instance, started an escort service for theological studies… or for hovercraft maintenance… or for martial arts training?

At that point, thankfully, I made it home.

So be careful. Be careful driving around out there with the radio on.

Don't say I didn't warn you.


Monday, September 11, 2006

 

The Fifth Anniversary



"Many is the time I've been mistaken.
And, many times confused.
Yes, and I've often felt forsaken.
And certainly misused.
Oh, but I'm alright. I'm alright.
I'm just weary to my bones.
Still, you don't expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home.
We're so far away from home.

I don't know a soul who's not been battered.
I dont have a friend who feels at ease.
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
And driven to its knees.
Oh, but its alright. Its alright.
For we lived so well so long.
Still, when I think of the road were traveling on
I wonder what's gone wrong.
I cant help it, I wonder what's gone wrong.

And I dreamed I was dying.
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly.
And I dreamed I was flying.
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea.
And I dreamed I was flying.


We came on the ship they called the Mayflower.
We come on the ship that sails the moon.
We come in the ages most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune.
Oh, its alright. Its alright, its alright.
You cant be forever blessed.
Still, tomorrows going to be another working day.
And I'm trying to get some rest.
Thats all I'm trying ... to get some rest."


-- Paul Simon, "American Tune" (1973)



Sunday, September 10, 2006

 

McFAT's Sweet 16



It's hard to believe that there have now been sixteen McFATs… but there have, and here are my answers to Number Sixteen.

1) What's your worst and/or funniest drinking experience? If you never drink, it can be about someone you know, and if you don't know anyone, move on to the next question.

Disclaimer: I can't remember the last time I had more than two beers at a time. It's usually just one at a time. Wendy and I usually make a six-pack last for more than a week between us, and we might buy a total of four six-packs in a year. I'm totally paranoid about drinking much at all, even in the comfort of my own home, for fear that some child will get up and manage to fall down the steps and knock a hole in his or her head and then it's up to me to get them to the hospital. So I hardly drink at all, I never drink anything other than beer (actually ales and stouts) and when I do, it's very, very little.

There was, however, a time when I drank far too much and behaved very irresponsibly while drinking. I no longer do that, having put that lifestyle behind me more than ten years ago… and having spent a period of my life going to AA meetings in order to make sure that the last nail was in the coffin of that part of my life.

And so I want to make it clear that I do not endorse drinking to excess, I do not endorse driving or behaving irresponsibly while drinking, and I do not endorse basically everything I ever did before my son was born.


OK?

Now, having said all that, I suppose the funniest thing that ever happened to me while drinking would be the time that another blogger who frequents this blog… a guy I used to work with back in my radio days… well, he and I worked at a radio station together and we decided to basically change the station's format and broadcast times while we were drunk on the air one night.

Drinking while on the air was fairly commonplace back during my irresponsible radio youth. Anyway, me and this other guy (a blogger in my blogroll who I won't identify… if he wants to do so in the comments, that's up to him) used to work at a small-time local radio station. It was really small time. Not even a 24-hour-a-day broadcast station. We signed on every morning at 5:00 AM… played country music and gospel music all day… and then signed off at midnight. Yep, it was one of those little AM/FM stations that you might dial in while traveling through the south just to get a kick out of a little slice of Americana.

Anyway, me and this other DJ used to get fairly good and drunk fairly frequently during the evening shift… and one night when it came time to sign off for the evening we decided that, dang it, we weren't gonna do it. We decided that instead we'd stay on the air and play the kind of music that we enjoyed… stuff like Metallica and the Michael Schenker Group and the Grateful Dead and NWA and James Taylor and… oh, you name it. If we liked it, we'd just throw it on the air. And between songs we'd go on the air and tell ribald stories about our co-workers and stuff like that.

So about an hour into this illegal, immoral and unintelligible broadcast, our station manager called us and demanded to know why we were still on the air. Turns out that he'd been out clubbing and got in his car and turned on the radio, which just happened to be tuned to our frequency… and before he could get a cassette tape in the tape deck he noticed that we were still broadcasting and that we were playing some sort of highly vulgar material.

Anyway, the station manager calls us and demands to know why we're still on the air and one of us… I can't remember if it was me or the other DJ… told the manager that he needed to shut up, go home and go to bed.

The next day the other DJ and I were called in to the station around 10 AM or so and we were curtly and unceremoniously fired and sent packing.

However, by one or two that afternoon when it became obvious that there was nobody to work my afternoon shift and the other DJ's evening shift, we were called and asked if we'd like to have our jobs back. So we said sure, what the hell, we didn't have anything else to do and since we were just gonna sit around and drink and listen to music anyway, we might as well get paid to do it.

There are a bunch of other stories that I could tell that begin with the line "This one time when we were drunk on the air…" but I think I've incriminated myself enough.

2) Inspired by some of the insect images I've seen lately at B13's and Unspace, what are some of your more horrific encounters with the insect world?

Have you ever seen a House Centipede? These aren't regular run-of-the-mill centipedes… these things are hideous. Monstrous. They look like some sort of joint project created by Todd McFarlane and Satan. Every time I see one I shriek like a ten year old girl and run outside waving my arms around, crying for help. I'm TERRIFIED of these things. I'd honestly rather go up against a bear, armed only with a Bic pen, then have to face down a house centipede. We get them from time to time in the fall. It's getting close to the time of year when they'll be coming out. I live in fear of them at this time of year. If you want to see one, you can click here… but I'm warning you, they're hideous.

3) How would your life differ if you woke up one morning with no arms?

I guess the main difference is that I wouldn't have ANY #@&N$!"!NG ARMS… but other than that, I guess the change would be nominal.

Speaking of arms and radio… I was once reprimanded by a program director for saying on the air that I'd give my right arm to be as good a drummer as that guy in Def Leppard.

4) Born in the mid 1970s, a lot of the classic rock I've heard used as jingles for beer, trucks, and other appropriate products was my first exposure to those songs. Do you think some of these songs were ruined by becoming advertising elements? What songs from your formative years could you see being sampled for commercials some day, and for what sort of products?

I LOVE the Iggy Pop song Lust For Life, and I HATE hearing it in car commercials. I also remember hearing The Faces' I Know I'm Losing You in a commercial for something or other and being bummed out by that. I really love that song, too.

I am surprised, I must admit, that I haven't yet heard Iron Maiden or Judas Priest in commercials for Honda and Nike. Our generation made those bands huge, and our generation is a prime marketing demographic, so it's only a matter of time until those bands are turning up in commercials. In fact, I have a vague memory of having heard You've Got Another Thing Coming in a commercial… but I can't remember the product and it might be that my mind is playing tricks on me.

Now that I'm one of many old fat men driving around in a minivan and listening to Metallica, it's only a matter of time before we hear Metallica songs in commercials. I suppose Duracell will co-op Battery just to be funny. Maybe Verizon will use For Whom The Bell Tolls.

And, of course, customizing the lyrics to match the product will continue as a marketing trend. I can't wait to hear a Dominos commercial featuring Dave Mustane wailing Pizza Sells… But Who's Buying? Maybe Slayer will sing the praises of a Tupperware Ensemble.

SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: I started blogging on October 13th, 2004. Last year some of you may recall my Best Blog Party Party, guest posts, year in review, and revealing photos. What sort of things should I do for this year's Cloakfest?

It's time to go ahead and do that nude photo-spread you've been promising us for so long now. Nothing raunchy, mind you… I'm talking about tasteful photos… but something bold and liberating. It might be nice to pose with a live tiger, if you can get access to one. The one article of clothing that I'd say you definitely should wear is a tweed fedora… and maybe a huge gold chain. Just you, the lid and the chain, the tiger and an expression of sassy bravado. It'll be the most popular Photo Blog Wednesday ever.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

 

Regarding The Path To 9/11



I guess it is a little odd that I'm not among the bloggers talking about the upcoming ABC miniseries The Path To 9/11. It's a little odd because the topic combines two of my favorite subjects, movies and politics.

If you've been in a cave, here's the uproar in a nutshell:

  • ABC makes a miniseries inspired by the 9/11 Report about the events (and non-events) that lead up to the September 2001 attack on the US.

  • Word gets out that the movie is blunt in it's portrayal of mistakes and inaction on the part of the Clinton administration… mistakes that enabled and emboldened Osama bin Laden and other terrorists.

  • Leftists and Clinton groupies go out of their minds (like here and here and here, for instance).

  • Former members of the Clinton administration goes into full-tilt retro-spin.

  • ABC asks that people see the film before they judge it, but then does begin to cave in, re-edits the film and agrees to run a disclaimer that the movie is partionally fictionalized (a claim they'd never made while producing and promoting the movie).

  • Meanwhile, some of us plan to actually watch the damned thing and then make up our minds about it.


Today I took a look at the IMDb page for the film, and I was surprised to see that, so far, only one IMDb user has left a comment about the movie. His name is Ed, and his comment is as follows:

Regardless of ones political leanings, I think it is despicable for 9/11 to be fictionalized and history rewritten simply for political gain. Does ABC have no shame? Are the nearly 3000 lost souls of that horrific day just political tools, now?

I have no problem with a FACTUAL documentary on the events leading up to 9/11. There is plenty of blame to go around, to both democratic and republican administrations. Telling the truth is always a great way to go. But to completely falsify information, and then LIE about falsifying it, especially about an event still so painful to many people, is just way below acceptable.

I seem to recall when CBS tried to "fictionalize" a Reagan "docudrama", the conservatives and republicans were so incensed that the program was finally pulled. Are those same people going to be equally incensed about this "swiftboating" debacle?


Well, since that was the only comment, and since I am a registered IMDb user, I decided… what the hay… I'll throw my two cents out there, too.

So I left the following IMDb user comment, which I suppose will pop up on the site as soon as it's approved:

The ruckus raised by Clinton supporters and leftists over this movie has been surprising.

In a previous comment, IMDb user "Ed" wrote "Regardless of ones political leanings, I think it is despicable for 9/11 to be fictionalized and history rewritten simply for political gain." I'd ask Ed a number of questions: How does broadcasting a movie qualify as rewriting history? In your opinion, do movies such as Fahrenheit 9/11, for instance, qualify as rewriting history? Have you seen this TV movie, read the script, read a treatment of the script, or had any access to this material prior to the movie's upcoming broadcast? For years, the American left has been sympathetic to any artistic expression that offends conservatives or religious people. Now there's a movie that, according to some, might portray their Golden Boy, Clinton, in a less than amorous light. None of us have seen the movie yet, but at the mere suggestion, the left is up in arms.

I'd suggest that those on the left take the same advice they've given others for years: "If you don't like the content, don't watch the movie." I'd also suggest that you'd be ahead to see the film before you decide if you like it, if it's factual, etc. Meanwhile, there are many people who are interested in seeing the film, who remember the historical events (pre and post 9/11) that it proposes to portray, and who are capable of checking other resources and deciding for ourselves if the movie is accurate or not.

Any movie about this subject matter is going to encourage debate. I'd ask those on the left who don't want this movie shown to consider the transparency of their actions. Why is the prospect of debate so threatening? Why do you want the debate strangled before it starts? Are you afraid that it's a debate you can't win?

Ed writes: " But to completely falsify information, and then LIE about falsifying it, especially about an event still so painful to many people, is just way below acceptable." I'd like the chance to see the film and decide for myself if that's the case, Ed. Why do you find that prospect so threatening?

Honestly, Ed, the idea that Hollywood (of all places) would really do anything to tarnish the legacy of their favorite President is, at best, amusing.


And so, until I've actually seen the movie, that's all I've got to say about it. Besides, now I've said it in two places.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

 

Couric's Closers, Papal Panache, Marital Muslim Mistreatment, Etc...






Wednesday, September 06, 2006

 

Two Conversion Stories



Two quick links... a couple of really great, enthusiastic conversion stories from The Journey Home on EWTN. Because of my background, these two really resonated with me.

Michael Matthews is a former Fundamentalist, an Independent Baptist Minister who, because of his great love for Jesus Christ, was called home to the Roman Catholic Church.

Mike Cumbie was called to the Catholic Church from the Pentacostal tradition.

Both of these fellas are Southern boys, like me, and both also came from Fundamentalist backgrounds. These are the kinds of conversion stories that resonate most with me.


 

Wednesday Wandomness (And Awful Alliteration)



Just stuff...




Tuesday, September 05, 2006

 

The Armchair Apologist: My Reasons For Disagreeing With Sola Scriptura



The Armchair Apologist is a series of posts at SouthCon dedicated to matters of faith and religion. Click here to see an index of Armchair Apologist posts. You are welcome to comment on any of these items, but before commenting, please READ THE RULES. To suggest a topic or make a comment by e-mail, send your remarks to armchair@darwen.us




(A note: In the discussion following my last Armchair Apologist series, I learned a lot from Pastor Scott. Specifically, I learned, I hope, not to tilt at straw men. However, learning and applying what I've learned are often worlds apart. I hope I do a little better job with this entry. If not, please forgive me. I am, I remind you, a rank amateur... and God knows I often enjoy being cocky.)

Sola Nonnulla Scriptura

One of the principle protestant justifications for disregarding the teachings, traditions and authority of the Roman Catholic Church is the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura is the principle that holy scripture alone (i.e., the Bible) is the sole Christian authority. According to those who adhere to Sola Scriptura, the Bible must be believed in it's entirety, and the Bible is the only accurate and righteous guide for Christian living, beliefs and teaching.

I think that, of all the five solas that prop up Protestantism, Sola Scriptura is the most obviously erroneous. The other "solas" can be called correct in principle… but they've been twisted by years of protestant tradition into something more than what they say. Sola Christus, for example, is the belief that Christ is the sole and acceptable mediator that saves man from sin. That is correct, but it has been used perversely by many protestants to justify their neglect (and often disrespect) for the Saints in Heaven. Sola Fide teaches that it is our faith in Christ that saves us. Fine, but Sola Fide is easily perverted into a justification of antinomianism (thanks again for the word, Pastor Scott!), the rejection of Gospel law and moral behavior.

Sola Scriptura in practice turns out to really be Sola Nonnulla Scriputra, the belief in the authority of only some scripture. Because protestants reject the authority of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and reject (for the most part) the traditions of Catholic Christianity, they've had to manipulate and twist the Bible, removing and reinventing verses that support Roman Catholic teaching. The great irony of Sola Scriptura, a pillar of protestantism, is this… only the Roman Catholic Church really recognizes the authority and teaching of all of the Holy Bible.

The Partial Protestant Bible

Many protestants are as surprised as I was to learn, as I did during my discernment of Roman Catholic Christianity, that protestant churches don't even preach from the entire Bible. There are seven books in the complete Christian Old Testament that were removed from the Bible during the reformation.

You read that correctly. The reformers literally removed books from the Bible.

Those seven books, often called the Deuterocanonicals, are 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, Tobit, and Judith.

A cradle protestant, first looking at a Catholic Bible, might be surprised to see these books. His initial reaction, as mine was, might be to ask why the Catholic church had "made up" these books and stuck them in the Bible.

Here's what happened in a nutshell: After Jerusalem’s destruction, Jamnia became the home of the Great Sanhedrin. Around 100 AD, a council of rabbis there established what has become the final structure of the Jewish Bible, and along the way they pruned several books from the canon. When the reformers decided to start "from scratch" and rebuild the Christian Bible, the Old Testament they eventually adopted was the one established by the Sanhedrin around the year 100.

Think of it. The protestant Old Testament is, in fact, a canon established by the Sanhedrin… the very judicial body that campaigned for the execution of Christ. That fact alone is chilling.

If you're like me, that's sufficient to shake Sola Scriptura to it's very core. I remember shuddering when I learned about this quiet deception. It directly contradicts 2 Tim. 3:16: " All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness." I asked myself just how the protestants who'd raised me could claim the authority of scripture alone when protestant's had actually found excuses over the years to actually remove scripture from the Bible. And, make no mistake… this truncation of Scripture was a political maneuver, not something guided by the Holy Spirit. That becomes obvious when you study the history of the protestant Bible. Martin Luther, for instance, included the Deuteronocanonicals in his first German translation of the Bible. Those books even show up in early King James Bibles and in the Guttenberg Bible, published a century before the Council of Trent. I had to ask myself, what was hidden in those books that someone somewhere didn't want me to see? Or, was it simply one more sly way of usurping the authority of the Church Christ actually established? I'll leave it to you to decide for yourself… meanwhile, you can read more about the Deuterocanonicals here.

Christ Came To Build A Church, Not To Write A Book

Another simple fact about the Catholic church that many protestants never learn (and certainly something I was never taught) was that the Apostle Peter was the first Pope (or, Bishop of Rome) of the Catholic Church. Peter's authority in the early Christian church was established by Christ himself, as is well documented in the scripture. I'll get to that in a minute, but first let me quickly deal with the silliest and most obvious protestant objection to this simple and basic fact of Christian history.

Many protestants I know simply flat out deny the papacy of Peter because, as they point out, it doesn't specifically say in the New Testament that "Peter was the First Pope." The problem with that line of reasoning is that it treats the New Testament as though it were a work of fiction rather than a historical document. In a work of fiction, if there isn't a passage that details any given action by one of the characters, then it's safe to say that the character never participated in said action. In any historical document, however, the people described are real, flesh-and-blood human beings who walked and talked actually did things before and after what you find in the text. No, the New Testament doesn't say that Peter went on to Rome after the last account of his actions in the book of Acts. Nor does the New Testament say that Peter was born of his mother's womb, lived as a child, and grew to be a man. It's common sense that Peter did those things, though… just as it's common sense that Peter didn't simply disappear after his last described actions in the book of Acts. Remember, Peter was a real person, flesh and blood. He really existed, and he did more things than what's documented in the New Testament.

For details on Peter's papacy, I'd refer you to a number of documents from the early Church. You can read relevant excerpts here. You might also be interested to know that even the early reformers never doubted the papacy of Peter. Even John Calvin saw the first six hundred years of the Church as "pure and undefiled" (Rob Bennett, Four Witnesses, page 303). No, much like the theory of the Rapture, doubt about Peter's papacy is a relatively new invention by Catholic haters.

And so, where in scripture is the papacy of Peter established? See Matthew 16, verses 16 through 21. I suppose it might be necessary to mention that Peter's original name was Simon and that he is sometimes mentioned by one name or the other and sometimes by both names. Let's examine those verses:

Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah. From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.


It may be that I read that passage for the first time when I actually sat down and read the entire book of Matthew during my discernment of Roman Catholicism. (The first clergyman to suggest to me that I read the Bible was a Roman Catholic Priest. Baptist and Fundamentalist clergymen had always pointed me toward books by Bruce H. Wilkinson, Rick Warren, and that pablum-peddler, Max Lucado.) Anyway, I certainly can't remember ever having heard a single Fundamentalist sermon on that particular passage. I'd suggest that the Fundamentalists of my youth avoided that passage for one simple reason: In that passage, Christ clearly and unavoidably establishes the authority of Peter, the first Pope, to lead the Church after the passion, resurrection and ascension.

Let's examine the words of Jesus a few at a time:

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.


Clearly, the Holy Spirit was working through the apostle. Simon Peter the simple Fisherman hadn't figured out on his own that Jesus was the Christ. God himself had chosen Peter and given him special understanding by which to discern the truth.

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church


And there you have it: The papacy of Peter is established. Even the tradition of changing one's name upon receiving the mantle of Vicar of Christ is established right off the bat. Most importantly, though, make sure that you note that Christ said that he was going to "build his church" upon Peter. He didn't say "write my book" or "establish my scripture." The words are right there, in black and white (or, depending on your printing, red and white.) You might even say that it's… ahem… Fundamental.

… and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.


The Church that Christ established, right then and there, has stood for 2000 years, hasn't it? The papacy of Peter, Vicar of Christ, is still with us today. Of course, today, instead of the weather-worn face of a Judean fisherman, the Vicar of Christ is present in the wise and gentle eyes of a German scholar. There it is, though, just the same. There is the rock upon which the Church has stood, and nothing on Earth, nor in Hell, has prevailed against it.

Now, that is emphatically not to say that every Catholic, every Priest, every Bishop… nor even every Pope… has been perfect and flawless. The people who make up the church are humans, subject to sin, and often subject to the worst kinds of sin. Just search for the right terms at Google News... or read about the crusades... or do a little research on the Spanish Inquisition. No, the people who have made up the Church have often been terrible sinners. That includes some of the ones who've worn Peter's fisherman's ring. Nonetheless, the office itself... and the Church as an eternal body established by Christ... still stands. Even when Hell would tear it down from within, it is powerless to do so.

Back to those verses from Matthew:

I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.


Peter was a human, a mere mortal, and he was entrusted by Christ with the keys to Heaven. A mighty responsibility, right? I don't envy him… nor do I envy any of his successors. I'd never hope to be responsible for that kind of authority. And yet that authority was granted by Christ to a simple Jewish fisherman. Why? Again, the power of the Holy Spirit was clearly at work in Simon Peter.

Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.


Wow. WOW. Read that again. Christ could not have spoken more clearly. Peter, through his bishopric, has been burdened with TREMENDOUS responsibility. Simon Peter must have been loved and trusted incomparably by the Lord himself. In spite of his failures (See Matthew 26:69-75)… in spite of his frequent thickheadedness (right after the establishment of his bishopric, Peter slips back into obstinacy -- Matthew 16:22-23)… even though he often had to be taught the basics repeatedly (John 21:15-17 and Acts 10:10-34… the number three seems to come up a whole lot with Peter!) … in spite of all this, Christ entrusted Simon Peter with the power to bind and loosen on Earth and in Heaven. That's amazing authority.

That, pure and simple, is the power of the Church that Christ established. Not the book, not the scriptures, and not the verses printed in red. The Church. The Church built upon the rock of Peter. Go there and you will find Christ present this very day.

Who Is To Interpret?

The Canon of the Christian Bible, established by the Holy Spirit through the Catholic Church, is without a doubt the most important book in the home of any Christian. And yet, without the guidance of the Church Christ established upon the rock of Peter, it has been twisted, manipulated, pruned and dressed up in every possible way by protestant churches ever since the reformation. Every protestant church picks at least a few verses to change or deny, some more than others.

When I first sat down and tried to read the Bible… actually read it rather than listen to selective interpretations of a few cherry-picked Sunday morning verses… it became clear that there is only one Christian Church that teaches the whole thing. With this we come full circle on Sola Nonnulla Scriptura: Teach some of the Bible and you can justify just about any protestant faith you want. Only one Church can tech all of the Bible.

Here are a few verses (besides the obvious passage regarding Peter from Matthew, quoted above) that present an exclusively Catholic understanding of Scripture when taken as a whole. I'll present the ones I've come across in my own reading of Scripture first… and then a few I've heard mentioned by other converts.

Holy Mary

Luke 1:41 -- When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant (John The Baptist) leaped in her womb.


The mere presence of Mary caused tremendous joy in the as-yet unborn John The Baptist. If you're like me, you might have assumed that this was because of the Christ-child growing inside of Mary. Not so. Imagine my surprise when I got further into the book of Luke and read this:

Luke7:18-22 -- … John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?"


Even late in his ministry, John was unsure if Jesus was the Messiah. Wow. I had to ask myself, if John had doubts about Jesus even shortly before his (John's) death, why had he leapt at the presence of Mary before his very birth? It could only have been the presence of Mary herself, the holy and blessed virgin, the arc of the new covenant, that excited the unborn John so much. How ironic: Unlike so many of today's "Baptists," the original Baptist knew a holy and godly Saint as soon as he was near her.

The Law and Faith

Romans 3:31 -- Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not! On the contrary, we are supporting the law.


All my life I've heard Fundamentalists say things like "We no longer live under the law but under the spirit," which I suppose they support with verses like Galatians 5:16-18. The above verse from Romans makes it clear that our faith is not intended to cancel the law. It is intended to support it.

Behavior Around Non-Christians

Romans 14:22 -- Keep the faith that you have to yourself in the presence of God; blessed is the one who does not condemn himself for what he approves.


Believe it or not, I've heard fundamentalists argue that their behavior around non-Christians… or around those who don't know that they profess Christianity… shouldn't be held to the same standard as their behavior around other Christians. I'm not making that up, that's a common fundamentalist belief. It is, of course, a belief that contradicts that verse from Romans.

And, besides... The Man Himself gave us pretty clear instructions about how we are to convey our Christianity to the world around us:

John 13:35 --"This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."


Denominationalism

1 Corinthians 1:11-13 -- For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe's people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided?


That's still going on today… only now it's "I belong to Martin Luther" or "I belong to John Calvin" or "I belong to Jerry Falwell…" etc, etc, etc. Of course the denominationalists don't use the word belong… but talk to them and ask yourself, who is their real Savior, Rabbi and King? With some folks, it seems that they really look to someone other than Christ.

The Real Presence In The Eucharist

Obviously, Christ established the meaning of the Eucharist in the sixth book of John. It's tacitly impossible to come to a Calvinist understanding of the Eucharist as a purely symbolic gesture without twisting John 6 into something strange and unChristian. I believe that those who celebrate "communion" as a mere symbolic memorial are, to be blunt, explained in the ominous sounding John 6:66, which reads:

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.


Remember, Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to cast it aside. Judaism is and always was a highly sacramental understanding of man's relationship to God. Naturally, the religion established by God in the form of a human Jew would be just as sacramental, just as reverent, just as tangible and immediate as the faith described in Exodus and Deuteronomy.

Therefore, it's not surprising that the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is described not just in John 6, but throughout the New Testament. Here's a favorite passage of mine, describing an encounter by two disciples with the Resurrected Christ:

Luke 24:28-35 -- As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.


I choke up when I read that. It's so clear… it's as plain as the nose on my face. "He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread."

Have you ever read anything more beautiful in your life? Imagine what it must have been like for those two disciples, to receive the Holy Eucharist, the real and eternal presence of Christ, from the hands of the Master himself. Here, in plain and simple terms, we see the Eucharist of our Lord, Jesus Christ, celebrated by the risen Christ himself. It takes my breath.

If you need it spelled out more clearly, read 1 Corinthians, 11:29:

For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.


And, just for the record, that's why non-Catholics aren't invited to take communion at Catholic Mass. It's not to exclude non-Catholics. It's to protect them from the damnation that accompanies misunderstanding of what takes place at the Holy Eucharist.

Marcus Grodi's Observations

Marcus Grodi of the Coming Home Network is a former Presbyterian pastor and a convert to the Catholic faith. In a recent episode of his program (The Journey Home on EWTN), Marcus pointed out some other biblical passages that were key to him during his own conversion:

1 Timothy 3:15 --…you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.


Note that it is the church, not the Bible, that Paul calls the pillar and foundation of truth.

Proverbs 3:5-6 -- Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; in all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.


The emphasis above was mine, and I think it's self explanatory.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 --Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours


Traditions! Oral statements! Duh! :)

The words of Christ from Matthew 28:19-20 -- "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."


The Great Commission. Go forth, make disciples, baptize and teach. That is what Christ expected of his followers. He wanted them to play an active role. He most emphatically did not say "Go and write down all that I have told you in a big book." Christ established a Church, not a book.

And that Church, that very specific, historic, precise and exact Church, still stands today.


Monday, September 04, 2006

 

Bashing Baby Boomers, Saving Catfish, Mourning Irwin, Etc



Just a few random things that caught my attention today... beginning with one of my irresponsible, reprehensible, unforgivable right-wing tirades:





Sunday, September 03, 2006

 

Awwwwwww, How Cute



We own two dogs, a Basset named Chester and a Brittany named Tilda. We're currently catless... but we're thinking about adopting the cat in the video below.

It's a short, 30 second-or-so video. Take a look and see what you think... who could resist a kitty this adorable and with so much love to give?




Saturday, September 02, 2006

 

It's A Bird! It's A Plane!



We had some fun today playing with the Hero Machine, so, once again, thanks to MCF for turning us onto it.

Each member of the family designed his or her own super hero secret identity… and here they are. Think of them as The Incredibles, ala darwen.us.




Up first is Thunder Giant, as designed by Liam. We're at a loss to explain the Star of David, but Liam wanted it to be his character's insignia, so that's what Liam got. I suppose it's possible that Thunder Giant has a particular sense of dedication to Israel.

Thunder Giant's powers are super strength, power to generate lightning, and breathing fire. His dragon friend is named Gilasaur. Thunder Giant is from Pluto. He's 5,000 years old, and his favorite food is a bowl of ice cubes.




Next is Kitty Cat, the super hero identity of Willow. Kitty is easily the most colorful character designed by our family today. Plus, she has wings, a cape and a feathered tail, giving her more flight options than the rest of us put together.

Kitty Cat's super powers are the ability to talk to animals, she's super strong… and, of course, she can FLY. Her brown, blue-winged cat is named Angel. She can and will bite. Hard. Kitty Cat is from Animal World and she is 20 years old. Her favorite food is cat food. She's working that out with her therapist.




This hero is The Fire Bird, the secret identity of Joseph. His cape is obviously flame retardant. The Fire Bird can fly, throw fireballs, and is super strong. His animal companion is an Eagle named Phoenix. Phoenix can fly extremely fast and can blast fire out of his mouth.

The Fire Bird is from the sun and he is 25 years old. His favorite food is char-broiled charcoal. He goes through a lot of antacids.




Up next is Heartsen Flowers, the super hero identity of Wendy. Heartsen Flowers has snakes for hair, which means she has to condition after every wash. Although she is heavily armed with a knife, broadsword and a gun the size of Rhode Island, Heartsen is very concerned about her public image. She wants to be thought of as "nice."

Heartsen Flowers has the ability to make trail mix appear in thin air. She is anti-handgun, but doesn't have a problem with big-ass arm-canons. She doesn't have Kitty Cat's ability to talk to the animals, but she can give them insinuating glances. Her ring doesn't have any special powers, but it is made from 100% recycled materials. Heartsen's squirrel friend is named Rocky, and he stays with her out of total fear. Heartsen Flowers is from Vermont and is 18 years old. She drives a hybrid car and thinks you should, too. Her favorite food is tofu.




Here you see Mill Man, the alternate identity of yours truly. During most of the day I'm a mild mannered blogger, but for eight to sixteen hours a day I transform into Mill Man, a hero with the ability to be overpaid for menial tasks.

Mill Man can make paper and will occasionally leave the break room to do so. His hands are protected by heat resistant gloves and his feet are protected by steel toed boots. His butt-crack is protected by nothing whenever he has to bend over and pick something up. He is seen here with his sidekick and shop steward, Baboon Bill. Mill Man is from the planet of Virginia and is 37 years old. His favorite food is whatever's in the fridge.


Friday, September 01, 2006

 

Otis-Man: Coming To A Theater Near You



A number of new super hero movies are just over the horizon in 2007. Of course, Spider-Man 3 is my main obsession, and I can't wait to see the film in early may. Ghost Rider will come first, though… and I'm not convinced that the film's February release date is necessarily a bad sign.

Other super hero movies in the works include Iron Man, the Fantastic Four And The Rise Of The Silver Surfer, and Dark Knight, a sequel to Batman Begins. I'm interested, to one degree or another, in all of them.

None of them, however, pack the promise of the new project that Marvel and Universal Studios are developing: Otis-Man… the story of a super hero and his super pug sidekick.

I can't divulge my sources, but I've been fortunate enough to get a copy of an advance treatment of the script. I'm unsure if leaking any of it on the net is a good idea or not, but it looks really promising… So I'll go ahead and post some of it, just to try to build a little advance hype for what I'm sure will be a remarkable film:

Otis-Man:
An Advance Script Treatment Of The Opening Sequence



(Opening scene: A young man walks through a dark and grungy paper mill. The scene is unexceptional, just one more industrial setting in one more corner of the United States. The young man is unexceptional, too. Just one more "dumb laborer," as he might call himself, doing one more "dumb job" before quitting time, headed toward yet one more unexceptional doorway. His name is Otis. As he travels, unbeknownst to him, a seemingly unexceptional cockroach sits beside the doorway he's approaching. Neither the young man, nor the cockroach, are aware that they're about to have a meeting that will change one of them forever.)

OTIS: (singing) "Can't touch dis… NAH Nuh Nuh Nuh… nuh nuh… nuh nuh… Can't touch dis… NAH Nuh Nuh Nuh… nuh nuh… nuh nuh…"

(Suddenly the cockroach scurries from it's informal post by the doorway, directly toward Otis.)

OTIS: (singing) "My, my, my, my MUSIC makes me so HAHD… Makes me say OH MY LAWD…"

(The cockroach stops in front of Otis, prepared to defend himself with every degree his white-hot cockroach fury. He raises up as high as possible on his spindly legs, shakes himself and hisses with rage. So does the cockroach. It is clearly too late to avoid confrontation. The cockroach launches himself toward the young man.)

OTIS: "Stupid cockroach!"

(With that, Otis stomps the cockroach and continues on his way.)

OTIS: "Who did that bug think he was messing with? I'm too legit!"

(After a few more steps, Otis stops. His conflict with the roach has stirred something deep in him. He remembers Abby, his trusted canine sidekick. Like the roach, Abby is just another animal. Like the roach, Abby had once been an obstacle to Otis. Yet he'd treated these two animals so differently. He'd simply stomped one of them. The other, he'd spent months training and working with closely. After long weeks of ceaseless instruction, love and attention, Otis had trained Abby to do many great things. Like Otis himself, Abby was capable of making complex associations between menial behavior and a reward system. Like Otis himself, Abby had come to learn that doing something that was expected of her, no matter how inconvenient, would lead to personal compensation. Like Otis himself, Abby was capable of doing poo poo in the backyard. The paper mill where Otis worked was swarming with cockroaches… so-called dumb animals, just like Abby. Why had he recognized potential in one kind of dumb animal and simply disregarded the other? Maybe… just maybe… he'd made a mistake. Suddenly, it all became clear to Otis.)

OTIS: "Hey, I know what I should have done! I should have just stomped Abby! Word to your mother."

(Otis continues on his way. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, Abby is at home chewing up his C&C Music Factory CD……

….to be continued...)


(Thanks to MCF, who's link to the Hero Machine made this retaliation possible… and apologies to anyone who didn't get the multiple in-jokes.)


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