Thursday, May 31, 2007

 

Lost In Translation At The Movies



Lost In Translation is a semi-regular feature at SouthCon. It's a simple concept: Now and then I amuse myself by taking blocks of familiar text and running them through the Babelfish translator at altavista.com. I translate the text to a foreign language (or two) and then back to English and laugh at the way the software garbles the words like Eddie Vedder on a three-day bender.

Software, for all it's wonder, can't quite master the nuances of human communication. As an amateur student of language, I like that. I like knowing that our ability to communicate with each other is a refined art and that, if for that reason only, no machine will ever really be able to duplicate the music of human expression.

Usually I use blocks of text from my favorite blogs for this experiment … but today I'm going to borrow a theme from a recent popular meme and use well-known phrases from popular movies. If the translated phrases below don't ring a bell right away, you can click them and see the original as it's posted at IMDb.



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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

 

Yellow Ledbetter



I've never been able to figure out the lyrics to Pearl Jam's Yellow Ledbetter. Eddie Vedder sings the song like he's drunk and has his mouth jam-packed with peanut butter. Anyway, this video does a better job of deciphering the lyrics than I've ever been able to. It made me laugh out loud.



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Friday, May 25, 2007

 

Memorial Day Weekend



This is Memorial Day weekend. It's more than just the start of the summer, more than just another three-day weekend. Please take some time this weekend and do something to express gratitude for the brave men and women who've gone beyond the call of duty to ensure our freedom.



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Thursday, May 24, 2007

 

Hound Dog In Love



I'm ready to kill our basset hound, and I might try to do so if it hadn't been made clear to me over the past eighteen months that it's impossible to actually harm a basset hound. They're impervious to pain, they have no concept of "no," and based on some of the situations I've seen Chester get himself into over the last year and a half, they seem to be indestructible.

Here's what happened.

Wendy and I watched an old John Wayne movie last night after the kids got to bed, and decided afterward that it was too warm and gorgeous a night to let pass by without sitting on the porch and sipping a beer. While we were enjoying our beer, Chester was in an absolute frenzy for some reason. He was running around the house, running back to us, barking his head off and trying desperately to tell us something.

I'd have investigated, but some of the terribly urgent situations that Chester has tried to alert me to in the past have included the following:


So I ignored him.

But when we came in and decided to get ready for bed, Chester was still absolutely all to hell.


A little background on the two dogs might be relevant. Tilda, our brittany, is going on five years old. Tilda is a registered purebred Brittany and she's a bit ostentatious. She's been fixed and she's generally disinterested in most things that happen outside the fence. Tilda sleeps beside our bed and, if she had her way, that's what she'd do most of the time. Chester, our basset hound, is almost two years old and has not been fixed. We tell ourselves that maybe we'll breed him someday. He is the most stubborn dog I've ever seen. He refuses to sleep anywhere other than one of two places: My recliner or his crate. Since he's been known to leave "surprises" in the living room if he's trusted to spend time there by himself, we have him sleep in his crate at night.

But Chester refused to sleep in his crate last night. Wendy put him in his crate and he sat and barked and barked and barked. After a short while we decided that he probably had to go to the bathroom again, so Wendy let him back outside. Once out there, he sat at the back fence and barked and barked and barked and barked.

I decided to get the flash light and go see what was going on. Heck, maybe this time something serious was in the works. Maybe something was really wrong. Once I got outside, I figured out what was up pretty quickly. See, on the other side of my back yard there's a vacant lot with a creek that cuts through it. Beyond that is my neighbor's house, and my neighbor keeps hounds. Coonhounds. He hunts with them and he breeds them and, I'm pretty sure, one of his females has gone into heat.

At least, that's what I was picking up on from Chester. Now, as you can tell from the picture to the right, Chester doesn't seem to be a full-blooded basset hound. (I think his breeder was less than scrupulous.) Chester looks like he has some black-and-tan in him, and I can't help but believe that he was able somehow to pick up on love in the air, coming from the female hounds across the creek.

Chester was running along the back fence, looking toward the neighbors dogs and howling his head off. There's a Hardees about a quarter mile from here in the small town 'round the bend and I'd bet you anything that people in the parking lot could have heard him. I became convinced at that point that there had to be a female hound in heat across the creek and Chester was in the throes of passion, howling the hound equivalent of "How YOU doin'? You live around here? That collar is YOU, baby. How's about I come over to your place?"

We brought him inside and waited for him to calm down, hoping that he'd maybe fall asleep beside Tilda in our bedroom. Nothin' doin'. Wendy and I laid in bed trying desperately to fall asleep while Chester sat beside the bed barking his fool head off: "You can't keep us apart! You can't stop our love! This thing is bigger than all of us!"

Finally, we stuck his butt back in the crate where he howled for another half an hour and finally dozed off. As I write these words he's asleep about four feet from me. He seems to feel dejected. Crestfallen. Defeated. Alone.

It's amazing, really, that we had the energy this morning to get up and try a breakfast recipe that's been going around the blogosphere for a while. We got it from B13, circa Jamie Dawn (who posted it in his comments section), And Jamie Dawn got it from Alison. If you look at Jamie Dawn's picture and B13's picture, it's obvious that Wendy and I did something wrong. I'll tell you what we did wrong: For one thing, we were unpleasantly surprised to get up this morning and realize that we were out of all purpose flour. I only had bread flour and tried to make the recipe with that. It obviously makes a difference. For another thing, both B13 and Jamie Dawn doubled the cooked apples in the recipe, and we didn't have enough apples to do that. So our version of the Oven Apple Bake doesn't look quite as tasty as Jamie's and B13's … but, trust me, it was lip smackin' good.


Between Wendy and Liam and me, we almost finished it off. There is, however, a nice, big section left. I don't know who's gonna get it … but I know one hound dog who I ain't sharin' NOTHIN' with.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

 

Dark Knight Stuff



MCF's links this past Monday mentioned a new viral campaign for the upcoming sequel to Batman Begins, called The Dark Knight.

Here's a brief summary: If you visit the website I Believe In Harvey Dent, you see a campaign poster for Harvey Dent, as portrayed by Aaron Eckhart in the upcoming film. (Batman fans know that Harvey Dent is the District Attorney in Gotham and that he eventually becomes the villain Two Face).

OK, that's fun enough on it's own ... but it turned out that if you also visited the website I Believe In Harvey Dent Too, you'd see a hacked and defaced version of Dent's campaign site, and you'd have the opportunity to enter your e-mail address and participate in the hacking of the site.

Once the site was completely hacked, the Dent campaign poster was slowly dissolved to reveal the first official picture of Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight. It's a darker, scarier version of the Joker than we've seen on the screen (or in the comics), featuring a "smile" that's a scarred version of the "permagrin" and a haphazard, sloppy version of the Joker's face paint:


Neat, huh? But it gets better. After a couple of days, the image of the Joker was taken down and replaced with a simple page not found message. Except things aren't as they appear. Now, if you visit I Believe In Harvey Dent Too and highlight the whole page with your mouse, you see a ramshackle series of Joker style laughs, something that'll look familiar to Batman comics fans everywhere:


Oh, and it gets even better. Some fanboy with more patience than this fanboy poured over the page and noticed a series of characters that don't belong in an otherwise simple series of ha ha ha's. These characters, when strung together, spell out the phrase See you in December.

There's been speculation that this is an indication that we'll see the first official Dark Knight trailer in December (the movie itself is about fourteen months away). Somebody even checked and found out that the url SeeYouInDecember.com has already been registered by the same company that put together the I Believe In Harvey Dent net campaign for Warner Brothers.

So what have I found out by personally exploring?

Well, the website December.com has long been familiar to me, since it's a resource for all kinds of stuff, including HTML coding, and I use it to get hex code for colors.

What I didn't see until today, though, is that on the front page, the word December is misspelled Decembur. So what do you see in the u in December? Well, if you click on the u, you get an eight second video of...

Just kidding. I made all that up. Except the part about December.com being a great resource for HTML code and stuff. I really have used it for ages.

Meantime, I'm eating up this viral marketing thing. The industrial metal band Nine Inch Nails did a great viral marketing campaign for their most recent album, and I enjoyed it. The viral marketing for Batman Begins is probably going to be even more fun. I've been wondering why nobody as yet had attempted to really cash in on potential generated by the internet success of the Blair Witch Project.

This kind of thing makes anticipating the movie as much fun as watching the film(maybe more fun than watching it ... see Spider-Man 3, for example.) According to IMDb, there are even official Dark Knight posters out already. That's one to the right. Wheeeeeee!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

 

The Movie Keyword Meme



First of all, let me say that I think that the challenge of this meme is really hard. Unseen has done it, MCF has done it twice, and in all three instances I found myself thinking I could guess the answers, only to be wrong ... and then found myself shouting "DOH!" when I saw some of the correct answers and realized I should have gotten them all along. Especially Darren Aronofsky's Pi, a favorite film of mine which Unseen gave us a lot of hints for and which I still couldn't get.

I'm just not good with stuff like this. Give me even one keyword and my mind wanders all over the place.

Anyway, here's how it works: I go to IMDb and look up ten of my favorite films. I provide the IMDB's keywords for the movies, and you have to guess what the films are. And for those of you who, like me, find this frustratingly hard, I'm going for fairly obvious keywords. Leave your guesses in the comments. Ready? Go.

  • #10: Mafia, Cocaine, Person in car trunk, Foot blown off, New York

  • #09: Iraq, Satan, Child in peril, Fall down stairs, Dispair

  • #08: Orphan, Farmer, Underdog, Friendship, Character name in title

  • #07: Graphic violence, Omaha Beach, Loss of brother, War, English teacher

  • #06: All male cast, Real estate agent, Vulgarity, Employee theft, Based on play

  • #05: Black comedy, Political satire, US President, Pentagon, Soda machine

  • #04: Alabama, Brother & sister relationship, Lawyer, Single father, First day of school

  • #03: Cricket bat, Stonehenge, Military base, Graceland, Spontaneous Combustion

  • #02: Fight the system, Defiance, Cigarettes, Nurse, Lobotomy

  • #01: Widower, Revenge, Prostitute, One last job, See you in hell


I hope someone finds this as entertaining as I found it difficult. ;)

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Monday, May 21, 2007

 

El Corazón Y El Pelo



It's been an interesting, fun packed few days. The department where I work at our paper mill has been shut down for at least eight days for some urgent maintenance, so to get ahead of the work hours I'd miss I worked as much overtime as possible last week.

Today Wendy and I decided to get to work in the yard and try to make our house look like people actually live here. So we went to the local Wal-Mart to pick up a few things and while we were there I saw a guy with the most amazing, intense mullet I've ever seen. This mullet was a thing of beauty. I'd never seen anything like it in my life and I couldn't resist the urge to grab a couple of cellphone pics to share with the blogosphere. I'm telling you, this guy is the undisputed Dark Prince of Mulletvania. I really wanted to walk up to him and say "Dude, you totally RAWK." But, of course, he knows that he totally rawks, so it would have been pointless.

I gotta say, I actually kind of admire guys who walk around with mullets in this day and age. They have got to know that mullets are the single most unfashionable, frowned-upon hairstyle in the world right now. You can't log onto the net, for instance, without coming across website after website after website dedicated to mullet mocking. So to wear a mullet these days is the ultimate way to thumb your nose at modern culture. I almost wish I had the nerve.

After our Wal-Mart trip, Wendy and I went to San Juan, a local Mexican restaurant that has, in our opinion, the best food of any kind in a sixty mile radius. I'm a huge chimichanga fan and rarely order anything else, so Wendy was amazed when I got adventurous and ordered something from the unchartered parts of the menu. I asked for a combo plate, and although I was pretty sure I knew what I was ordering, when my plate arrived I was perplexed to see a taco, an enchilada, and what appeared to be a deep-fried human heart.

Since I couldn't identify it and since Wendy seemed simply amused by my predicament, I ate my taco and my enchilada and kept an eye on the "heart" in case it started beating. Once I got the nerve to try a fork full, it turned out that it was, in fact, a stuffed Poblano pepper. It was stuffed with cheese and rice and covered with a spicy sauce, and it was delicious, just like everything at San Juan always is.

Mmmmm.

So I guess the point of today's post is: be adventurous. Don't let society's expectations or your own habits cause you to get stuck in a rut. The happiest man in the world, I'd imagine, is the man who has the nerve to grow the back of his hair half way down his back and sit in a restaurant eating what appears to be a deep-fried human heart.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

 

Dang Overtime



No posts for a while; I have a lot of overtime to work over the next four days. I'll be back to my regular annoying self somewhere around May 21.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

 

Cruel And Unusual?



Maybe sending Paris Hilton to jail for 45 days isn't really the ideal way to punish her. I've been thinking about it and I've come up with a few possible alternatives; punishments that might seem cruel and unusual to Paris, but I can live with that.




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Monday, May 14, 2007

 

The Eve Of Distraction





His mind began to wonder as soon as he noticed that the choir director was playing a didgeridoo during the opening hymn. "Have we always had a didgeridoo in our choir?" he thought. "And is that, in fact, a didgeridoo? I've never seen one in person before, so I can't be sure. Playing that thing looks painful."

This was followed by a swift, internal reprimand. "You're here to focus on God, not on the choir," he reminded himself. "The music is supposed to support the mass, not detract from it. Just ignore the parts that distract you."

And he did pretty well … until the hand clapping started during the Gloria. Then the same old questions raised their ugly heads. Should we be clapping our hands during the Gloria? This is a Catholic church, after all, not a Pentecostal church (not that there's anything wrong with that.) We're old school, right? We're reverential and subdued. Doesn't this bopping and clapping seem, well, irreverent?

But he reminded himself that not everyone shares the same sensibilities. Not everyone felt that Church music should be understated and sober. Most of the choir at this church … most of the congregation, in fact … were people in their late 40's to early 60's. Baby boomers. People who wanted their church music to sound like the Mamas and the Papas, the Byrds, the Beatles. This was their version of "contemporary." They liked it. They liked to verge on dancing during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. They liked to clap and smile. They'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company. And that's OK.

So he went back to trying to focus on God and forced himself to look for references to God in the lyrics of the "hymns," which wasn't easy because references to God were vague and entirely subjective in this music. In all honesty, this was music for people who enjoyed novelty more than contemplation of the eternal. This was music that wasn't really about anything other than itself. A cappella sections, bongo solos, tambourines and all.

He got distracted again during the ukulele solo in Lamb Of God and started pandering to his own bad nature again. "Why don't we just give the whole church to the baby boomers? They've already got the music, why don't we just give them everything? Hang beaded curtains in the doorways, take the candles off the altar and put up lava lamps, replace the sign of the cross with the peace sign, and take down the crucifix and hang an oil portrait of David Crosby?"

This was followed by another sharp internal reprimand: "What's wrong with me? Why can't I just leave my bitterness out in the van on Sunday mornings? Who am I to decide what is or isn't appropriate church music? It could be worse. Just wait until today's young people are in charge and all the music in church sounds like Nickelback. Won't that be great? Singing Halleluiah Halleluiah to the tune of Hey, Hey, I Wanna Be A Rock Star.

And what is THAT sound? Is that … is that a kazoo?"

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

 

... And THIS Makes Sense, Too



I enjoy reading items at Snopes, the Urban Legend Clearing House, from time to time. I'm amused at the things that people will believe, given the chance ... and I'm also amused at the odd items that turn out to be verifiable by the good folks at Snopes.

Like THIS odd story, which Snopes verifies:
When the new chocolate-coloured sofa set was delivered to her Brampton home, Doris Moore was stunned to see packing labels describing the shade as "Nigger-brown."

She and husband Douglas purchased a sofa, loveseat and chair in dark brown leather last week from Vanaik Furniture and Mattress store on Dundas St. E.

Moore, 30, who describes herself as an African-American born and raised in New York, said it was her 7-year-old daughter who pointed out the label just after delivery men from the Mississauga furniture store left.

"She's very curious and she started reading the labels," Moore explained. "She said, `Mommy, what is nig ... ger brown?' I went over and just couldn't believe my eyes."

She said yesterday each piece had a similar label affixed to the woven protective covering wrapped around the furniture.

"In this day and age, that's totally unacceptable," Moore said...


I think that Romesh Kumar, manager of the store that sold the sofa, speaks for us all when he says "That's terrible, that's a racial ... something..." Oh, boy, is it ever. It's one of the most racial somethings I've ever seen.

Unless it's not.

According to Snopes, the word is commonly used in Asia and other parts of the world with no racial connotations at all. It's used simply to describe a shade of color:

While Western society has now eschewed the word, in some parts of the world it continues to be used as a descriptor of an item's color.


Now, I suppose that Ms. Moore has the option of explaining to her daughter that the word in question has been used hurtfully by ignorant people in this country many times ... and, yet, in other parts of the world, the word is a harmless way to indicate a specific shade of color. But why would she do that? By doing that, she'd be robbing herself of an opportunity to be indignant! In America, unless you're a wealthy white guy, your right to be indignant is fundamental.

See, in America, the use of the N-word for ANY reason is the equivalent of throwing a hand grenade into a room. It doesn't matter if you're having a Michael-Richards-style breakdown or if you're actually discussing the word itself, or any circumstance in between ... unless you're a member of the race which hates to hear the word, you're not allowed to say it. If you ever hear someone who isn't a member of the race who hates to hear the word actually say the word, behave as though it actually were a hand grenade. The safest thing to do to run away as far and as fast as possible, screaming that you're not a racist.

Snopes offered a link to proove that the word is innocuous in certain contexts; a Yahoo! directory ad for a boot that describes the boot with that exact word to denote the shade.

I looked around and found two other similar shoe ads (this one and this one) that promote products that are available in that same shade. I even found a website dedicated to catfish of all things, which describes a kind of catfish that's typically found in that same shade. The World Journal Of Gastroenterology even described a cellular compound with that same phrase.

Wow.

That blows my mind.

You know, in a way, that might be a good thing. Can you think of a better way to remove the incendiary power from a word than by taking it out of a hurtful context and relegating it to a common-place, even boring context? The N-word would cease to be controversial and become very hum-drum if it was no longer an attack and was, instead, a shade of beige.

I think that's a great idea, and I'd like to propose a list of hurtful words that I'd like to see similarly disarmed. I'll provide examples to prove that these words can be used with no politically incorrect context at all.

WOP: Formerly an insensitive term used to degrade Italian Americans. I think this term should now be used exclusively in terms of flat tires: "Hey, I got some glass inna my two front tires, ana all da way home, dey juss' go 'wop, wop, wop.'"

SPIC: This word has often been employed as a slur against people of Latin heritage. I think it should be used from now on as simply a way of denoting a small, minuscule bit of material: "Geez, man, I bit into that taco and it cracked, you know? And I got a spic of the shell in my eye."

CHINK: We've all heard this stupid sounding word used hurtfully against Asian Americans. That's not appropriate. Maybe it should be used from now on only as a way of describing a crack or a chip in an item: "You no going to be able to stir fry that beef in that wok. That wok got a chink in it."

DRUNK: This is a word I've heard used over and over again to coarsely describe my own Irish American ancestors. I'm sick of it. I think that this word should be used from now on to describe empty bottles: "Those Guinness bottles were empty since I drunk 'em all, and since Tommy wouldn't give me another one I punched the bastard."

Then again, I have a sense of humor and I grew up on Blazing Saddles, so maybe I'm way off in left field, here.

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Alright, THIS Makes Sense



Just a few ground rules that I think we can all agree to:



Sounds good, right?

I'm on the subject because of Robert Baswell, a future-rocket-scientist who decided to take a quick nap in a dumpster in Palm Beach:

West Palm Beach Fire and Rescue officials said the apparently homeless man was sleeping in a dumpster when the trash bin was picked up by a truck making its daily rounds.

The truck continued on its route and even compacted its load several times before one of the crew heard someone screaming inside…

Baswell was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for minor injuries. He's expected to make a full recovery.


As you might imagine, Mr. Baswell had been convinced that he needs to sue. I mean, where does the city of Palm Beach get off, acting like the things in a dumpster are garbage?

The law offices of Steinger, Iscoe & Greene will be representing Robert Baswell, a homeless man who was crushed while seeking shelter from the rain in a dumpster…

Suffering broken legs and ribs, Baswell was trapped in the bin for 30 minutes before firefighters were able to extricate him from the garbage that was compressed against him. Baswell, who suffers from a disability, had recently moved to Florida to be closer to his 94-year-old grandmother, who recently passed away. He believes that his grandmother was watching over him and had a hand in saving him from being crushed to death.


So who was looking over him when he crawled into a friggin' dumpster in the first place? I guess granny was on her lunch break.

“This is a horrific incident, and Mr. Baswell is still suffering from this ordeal, both physically and emotionally,” said attorney William McAfee of Steinger, Iscoe & Greene. “Our client is still receiving medical attention, and the extent of his injuries is yet to be determined. We are ready to help our client get the help he needs to recover.”


I'd say that "the help he needs" consists of two things:



A couple of quotes come to mind… one from the movie Better Off Dead:

Damn shame, folks be throwin' away a perfectly good white boy like that.


The other, of course, is the old chestnut from Shakespeare:

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.


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Friday, May 11, 2007

 

Mow Tunes



I'm in the lurch between finishing the graveyard shift and starting second shift, so for the last few days I've had little time and/or energy for blogging. My apologies to everyone I usually visit with comments, it's just been a crappy, groggy couple of days.

The rainy season seems to be on temporary hiatus in this neck of the woods, which meant I found myself with a lawn in desperate need of mowing ... or a hayfield in desperate need of baling, depending in your point of view. I just got done with all the mowing I'll have time for today, since I start second shift this afternoon.

I wonder if it's possible to ride a Segway while pushing a push mower?

Meanwhile, if you have to mow grass yourself this weekend, and if you're looking for a good "mowing mix" for your MP3 player to help pass the time, I heartily endorse the following tracks, and in the following order:
Foo Fighters: Everlong

Amy Winehouse: Rehab

Ministry: N.W.O.

Modest Mouse: Dashboard

Stone Temple Pilots: Sex Type Thang

Soul Asylum: Black Gold

30 Seconds To Mars: The Kill

Queens Of The Stone Age: Go With The Flow

Bad Religion: Leaders And Followers

Better Than Ezra: In The Blood

Corrosion Of Conformity: Vote With A Bullet

Everclear: Heroin Girl

Filter: Hey, Man, Nice Shot

Jane's Addiction: Pigs In Zen

Jet: Cold Hard Bench
(I think that's what he's singing ... it's a song about Little League and not getting to play much, right?)

Local H: Eddie Vedder

Incubus: Megalomaniac

Paw: Jesse

The Ataris: San Dimas High School Football Rules

Weezer: Hashpipe

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

 

Conservatives, Liberals and Libertarians: A Primer



Lately, there has been a tremendous clamoring for me to explain the differences between conservatives, liberals and libertarians. The urgency, the enthusiasm and the desperation of this outcry has become such that I can no longer ignore it, in spite of the fact that it is a figment of my imagination.

Therefore, I've decided to post something of a primer on these distinct social philosophies.

I realize that, at first glance, much of what I've written below will seem like a collection of ill-informed generalities. I can only beg for the reader's patience. Read my ideas, consider my point of view, and I'm sure that you'll find that what might have seemed at first to be a set of generalities is, in fact, a pack of irresponsible lies.

Conservatives, Liberals and Libertarians;
A SouthCon Primer



What is a conservative?
Conservatives are people who value God, country and family above all other things. It is sometimes said that conservatives "hate and fear change." This is almost correct. In fact, conservatives welcome necessary changes that benefit the common good. However, they do resist changes that seem spurious and random. For instance, most conservatives are still miffed about the whole New Coke thing. Conservatives believe that it takes a family, not a village, to raise a child. They believe that Paris Hilton deserves at least 45 days in jail. They also believe that there'll never be another TV show as good as Andy Griffith. It's possible that conservatives need to get out more. A list of noteworthy conservatives would include Abe Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Sowell, Batman, Moses and Ted Nugent.

What is a liberal?
Liberals are people who believe that all of society's ills can be cured by the creation of new laws, an increase in government spending, and several hours spent in a drum circle. Liberals like to use the word "plight" a lot. They reject outdated notions, such as patriarchal rule, religion, individual accountability and personal hygiene. Liberals believe in peace and kindness, and they frequently show it by gathering together in groups and throwing rocks at police officers. Liberals live by many creeds, most of which can be found on their bumper stickers. One classic liberal creed is If you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, then you damn well better be a card-carrying member of the teacher's union. A list of well-known liberals would include Alec Baldwin, Hillary Clinton, Rosie O'Donnell, Lisa Simpson, Michael Stipe and Wavy Gravy.

What is a libertarian?
Libertarians support the preeminence of individual liberty and the free-market system. Generally, libertarians reject all forms of government that limit personal freedom in any way, and many advance the belief that the best form of society is a combination of capitalism and anarchy. This belief is technically known as "dumb." While there is a relatively small and innocuous political party in America known as "The Libertarian Party," most people who consider themselves libertarian aren't members of that party. Apparently, they aren't that dumb. A list of famous libertarians would include MTV's Kennedy, Murray Rothbard, Dr. Evil, Penn Gillette, Garfield the cat and Satan.

Conservatives, Liberals and Libertarians
On The Issues



Government

The Conservative Position
Conservatives believe in limited government. Since government generally does what it does badly, conservatives believe that the less government does, the better.

The Liberal Position
Liberals believe that the government could, if it chose, solve every problem in the world. Typically, liberals believe that most problems could be eliminated if the government would create a bunch of new laws and enforce them, across the board and equally, on all wealthy white males.

The Libertarian Position
Libertarians believe in the individual's complete and universal freedom, and that all individuals have the right to have this kind of freedom imposed upon them whether they want it or not.

Religion

The Conservative Position
Conservatives typically adhere to religions traditionally described as "orthodoxy." They practice these religions by worshiping God.

The Liberal Position
Liberals typically adhere to religions traditionally described as "universalism." They practice these religions by worshiping trees … or whales … or stars … or staplers … or whatever you might have lying around the garage.

The Libertarian Position
Libertarians typically adhere to a religion described as "atheism." They practice this religion by worshiping a dead, adulterous novelist named Ayn Rand.

Altruism

The Conservative Position
Conservatives tend to rely on the decency of the individual to provide for the impoverished. They believe that, while charity begins at home, once the means become available, it shouldn't end there. Nonetheless, conservatives believe that education and the development of self-reliance are the best gifts you can give anyone.

The Liberal Position
Liberals believe that the best way to help the poor is to take everyone else's money and distribute it among those who aren't as well off, thereby creating a cycle of dependency that insures that the poor stay poor and dependent.

The Libertarian Position
Libertarians subscribe to a philosophy known as "objectivism," and therefore tend to care very little about the poor. Objectivism is a combination of indifference, greed, and hedonism … albeit a kind of hedonism that doesn't involve bikinis and venereal diseases.

Taxes And Spending

The Conservative Position
Conservatives believe that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes, but many conservatives believe that a flat tax is the fairest system. Conservatives tend to see the democratic process as the best method by which to determine how common resources will be employed.

The Liberal Position
Liberals believe that the government makes money out of thin air and that it has a zillion billion gazillion dollars squirreled away in a cave somewhere, and that it could spend that money making everything all better, but it won't because of those damned Neocons.

The Libertarian Position
Libertarians don't believe in paying taxes. They believe that the roads will be maintained by Civil Service Fairies who will come out at night and sprinkle Magic Paving Dust.

Drug Abuse

The Conservative Position
Conservatives believe that drug abuse is destructive, and that the government, as an agent of the people, should try to prevent people from harming themselves (or vulnerable young people) with drugs.

The Liberal Position
Liberals believe that the purple cockroaches crawling out of the sink will go away if they just cool out, think happy thoughts, and enjoy the trip, man.

The Libertarian Position
Libertarians believe that personal liberty should include the right of the individual to indulge in recreational drugs if he or she wants to. Libertarians might experiment with drugs themselves, but nobody likes them well enough to tell them who's holding.

Popular Culture

The Conservative Position
Conservatives refuse to accept that everything done in the name of "art" is worthwhile. Conservatives tend to think that "gangsta rap" is stupid.

The Liberal Position
Liberals refuse to accept that Pearl Jam has completely sucked since 1993. Liberals tend to think that NASCAR is stupid.

The Libertarian Position
Libertarians refuse to accept that Atlas Shrugged is so boring that many people who've tried to read it have died from B.I.H. (Boredom Induced Hemorrhaging). Libertarians tend to think that you are stupid.

The Media

The Conservative Position
Conservatives like to listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck and Laura Ingraham.

The Liberal Position
Liberals like to listen to "Weird Al." That's Weird Al Frankin, Weird Al Sharpton and Weird Al Gore.

The Libertarian Position
Libertarians like to listen to Neil Boortz. They also like to listen to the faint, shrill sucking sound of their own souls imploding.

Lifestyles

The Conservative Position
Conservatives believe in the nuclear family, in marriage as a loving contract between a man and a woman, and in the sanctity of life.

The Liberal Position
Liberals believe that Heather has two mommies. Unless one of those mommies decided that she didn't want Heather and had her killed in the womb. Then, liberals believe that Heather never really existed in the first place.

The Libertarian Position
Libertarians believe that all human relationships should be whatever we want them to be, and that sex is what we make of it. Some day, libertarians hope to actually have sex with someone.

The Eastwood Example

As with most things, I've found that everything that you really need to know about conservatives, liberals and libertarians can be learned from watching Clint Eastwood movies. I'll close with these character summaries from Eastwood films; summaries that explain it all as well as anything else:

Clint The Conservative
Clint's character Harry Callahan, from the movie The Enforcer, is the ultimate conservative. Harry Callahan believes in law and order and he's willing to risk his life and do what he has to in order to maintain law and order … even if that means getting his hands a little dirty.

Clint The Liberal
Clint's character Frankie Dunn from the movie Million Dollar Baby embodies much of what defines modern American white liberalism. That is to say, he believes in assisted suicide and he bitches and complains a lot.

Clint The Libertarian
Clint's unnamed character from the spaghetti western A Fist Full Of Dollars is a classic libertarian. He doesn't care about anyone but himself, he plays both ends against the middle, and he ends up laughing all the way to the bank.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

 

Spider-Man 3 Review At film geeks



If you want to read it, it's posted ... and it's spoiler free, although it does include a link to all the spoiler-filled ranting anyone could want from me.

It is, of course, the highest grossing first-weekend movie of all time:

My lord, what an obscene take. I predicted $120 million, around 7 million more than the PREVIOUS record holder, Spider-Man. (And, by the way, Spider-Man 2 is number two.) I thought $120 million would be an obscene take, but it was what I expected. I'd never have guessed almost $150 Million. This thing will earn back every dollar they spent making it in two or three weeks.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

 

Spidey Briefly



MCF was right ... sort of.

Now granted, not everybody is as much of a geek as I am, and MCF is, and Otis, too, for that matter ... so there are probably people who don't care about the SM3 minutia we'll all debate over the next few weeks ... so I apologize to those of you who just don't care.

And since I have to leave for work in a few minutes, this post will be VERY brief.

In short, it didn't suck. At no point did I roll my eyes, at no point did I find myself getting bored, and I wasn't ready for the movie to end before it did.

Neither did I ever feel exhilarated or thrilled ... and Otis didn't have to sit through one of my many "Go see this movie right now!" answering machine messages tonight. If I see something I REALLY love, I call him right away, and since he's never home, I leave a message. I didn't have to leave such a message tonight.

One thing MCF said was sooooooooooo wrong. He said:

At the very least, it's as good as Spider-man 2


I read that line a few minutes ago and said "What is he thinking??!?" I couldn't disagree more. I'm torn between Spider-Man 2 and Batman Begins as my choices for the two best superhero movies ever. I'm amazed that two superhero movies that good came out so close together. With those two films as my standard for superhero supremacy, I'd say that this new Spidey film is nowhere close to being in that league. SM3 really is, however, as good as Tim Burton's two Batman movies, and as good as the second X-Men movie, and a little better than the first Spider-Man movie or the first X-Men movie, but not as good as the third X-Men movie and not as good as Ang Lee's Hulk.

Let the screaming begin! ;) I can just imagine the other fan-boys who'll read that last paragraph and say "What is he thinking??!!?"

MCF then said:

and visually from the opening credits to the insane final battles, it's the best-looking of the three.


Oh, without a doubt. Probably the best special effects I've ever seen. Every penny spent on the production of this movie shows up on the screen. It looks great and the action sequences are outstanding.

So, no, I didn't love it. Yes, I thought it was pretty good. And I hope there's no fourth movie in this franchise. Let it lay for a while until some new Chris Nolan comes along and sees the Spider-Man story in a whole new fresh way.

More Spider-Man babbling, as you might imagine, to come...

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Friday, May 04, 2007

 

No Funny, No Money



Yesterday I gave up a chance to try to win ten thousand dollars:

It's raining here, it has been for days, and the front yard is a giant mud bog. It's impossible to get through it without getting mud somewhere you don't want mud. It's pretty bad. I’m talking Woodstock '94 level mud.

I'm working the graveyard shift this week, which means coming home around 7:00 AM and sleeping, if I can, until the early afternoon. Yesterday I had to make sure I was awake in time to greet the kids when they got off the school bus, since Wendy is finishing up the semester at school, and she had to be gone all day. That meant that while I was here asleep yesterday, with Wendy gone and the kids in school, Chester and Tilda had to spend the day outside. In the mud.

So the alarm goes off at 2:45, fifteen minutes before the school bus is supposed to drop off the kids at the front gate … and I stumble to the living room and look outside and see two muddy dogs, both of whom are staring intently toward the corner where they'll first glimpse the approaching school bus.

See, we have a daily tradition at our house. Every afternoon, Willow and Liam get home from school and come through the front gate … and, every day, Tilda and Chester greet them like returning war heroes. This involves a great deal of jumping up by both dogs and a great deal of yelling by both kids, neither of whom enjoy having their bookbags knocked into the dirt by the delighted pooches.

So it occurred to me yesterday that the best thing I could do would be to get the video camera and simply tape the fun as the two kids came through the gate into the mud bog and the two dogs, literally trembling with glee, knocked them into the mud. I couldn't imagine anything funnier than the sight of the four of them rolling around in the mud and the pouring rain together. I was sure that, if I videotaped that, I'd have the greatest guaranteed money-winner in the history of America's Funniest Home Videos.

But then reality set in. The thing is, the videos that make me laugh on AFV are never the ones that win. What kinds of videos make me laugh? People jumping out and scaring each other. People falling down. People falling off boats. People farting. Show me a video of someone scaring someone else so badly that he farts and falls off a boat and I'd literally laugh for days. I'm a simple man, I have simple needs.

Of course, the videos that actually win on AFV are never the ones that make me laugh. The ones that win usually involve babies laughing or babies with spaghetti in their nose or toddlers singing the Mickey Mouse Club theme or toddler's acting up. Look, I like those kinds of videos just fine … but those videos aren't funny. Those videos are cute. They're endearing. They're even valuable in terms of what makes life wonderful. They just ain't funny. You want funny? This [click here] is funny.

So I realized that my hypothetical video of the kids and dogs in the mud wouldn't win on AFV unless the kids, while rolling in the mud, were simultaneously screaming "M-I-C!! K-E-Y!! M-O-U-S-E!!" and shooting pasta out of their noses.

Crestfallen, I just did my best to de-mud the dogs and get the kids through the door without incident. I still feel, though, that I missed out on a wonderful opportunity. If nothing else, I'd have had a video clip that would have kept me in stitches for ages.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

 

An Inconvenient Fact Check



So I was all set to blog indignantly about the hotel that had removed the Gideon Bibles from all the rooms and replaced them with copies of Al Gore's book about global warming:

They call California the land of fruits and nuts for more than one reason. Proof is presented every day and front and center comes from a Bloomberg Report that details that visitors to the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa won't find the Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. Instead, on the bureau will be a copy of "An Inconvenient Truth," former Vice President Al Gore's book about global warming.

Got that. If you want to read a bit before bed and get a little inspiration, instead of scripture you get to read some alarmist propaganda from a man that worships the earth while traveling around it in a private jet.


But then, inconveniently, the truth reared it's ugly head:

Dear Bloomberg reporter,

We need to correct a mistake that ran in Bloomberg last Friday re: an article on Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa.

The article implied that Gideon Bibles were being replaced by Al Gore's book, "An Inconvenient Truth".

This is not the case.

Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa is a new hotel, the grand opening was held on March 30, 2007.

Gideon Bibles have been ordered for all the rooms and will be made available to guests...

Sincerely,

Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa


Dang it. I'd already put together my fun little graphic and everything.

Nonetheless, I maintain that the fact that there are people who actually take Al Gore seriously is the most inconvenient truth of all.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

 

Spidey Senses Tingling ... In A Bad Way



Spider-Man 3 will be in theaters this weekend (we're seeing it Saturday) and lately I've had a whole host of bad feelings about the movie.

If you read this blog from time to time, you know that I'm a HUGE Spidey fan. I have been since I was a kid. I've been waiting with baited breath for at least a year, anticipating what I hoped would be the best film of the franchise. However, as the movie's actual release grows closer, little things are giving me some bad vibes.

There are, of course, a number of legit reasons to have bad vibes about Spidey 3. This movie will feature Harry Osborne's first outing in Goblin gear, and it will introduce The Sandman, the Black Symbiote, Venom and Gwen Stacey to the movie series. Any one of those characters/elements is significant enough in Spider-Man history to be the focus of an entire movie. Plus, Gwen Stacey's presence in this film, alive and breathing while Pete is dating MJ, is a real head-scratcher (if you have to ask, nevermind). Why not throw Black Cat, Firestar, Mysterio, Toxin and Kraven The Hunter in there as well?

Still, I've been telling myself that it's possible for the movie to be fun even if I have to talk myself into enjoying it. I had to do that to some extent with the first film in the series, so I'm prepared to do it again.

Yet, there have been a number of distractions that have been popping up, and I'm afraid that they're going to become superficial elements in an ultimately negative Spiderman Movie Experience.

For instance, there's the undeniable fact that the star of the movie is kinda sorta a real prick. Check out the way Tobey interacted with a fan who tried to sneak a quick picture on the street:

I admit, the fan didn't take the most tactful approach to trying to get a picture of himself with a star ... still, the fans are the people who put you where you are, Macguire, and we can put your ass back where we found you again. So check the 'tude, pal. As a matter of fact, the more I read about Topher Grace, the more I wish he'd gotten the starring role in the first film.

There there are the reports that Kirsten Dunst, as Mary Jane, will be singing twice in this film. Why? Is it because the money people are trying to get us ready for the rumored Broadway Spidey production? No kidding, they're really talking about Spider-Man on Broadway. Yeeesh.

I'm a little worried, too, about this movie's $350 million pricetag. It is officially the most expensive movie ever, and that doesn't sound good. Hollywood has a tradition of throwing money at bad scripts to try to fix them, and it never works. Think Waterworld. Think Heaven's Gate. Think all three crap movies in the most recent Star Wars trilogy.

If Spidey 3 doesn't suck, it'll be a success. It doesn't have to be great, it just has to not suck. If I'm able to enjoy it in spite of all the things that bug me about it, it'll be a huge success in my mind. My only hope now is that I'll leave the theater saying "It wasn't bad."

Is that too much to ask?

Maybe it is. Maybe it's time to just start salavating over Nolan's next film stick to seeing the Web-Slinger in the funny pages.

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Crunch



Somehow, the Japanese packaging for Doritos leaves me without much appetite:

What might the advertising slogan be? "You Eat Snack Product Now Or Man Dressed As Teletubby Will Crush Genitals With Boot!"

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

 

An MCF Two-fer



It's time for another edition of MCF's Perilous! As always, he provides the answers and we have to figure out what questions he's looking for. His answers, followed by my guesses at the questions, are below:

1. 6.66.
If hell freezes over, what will the temperature be?


2. “No, I want to be a father!”
Do you want to be a mother?


3. Mystery Sock.
Who was the star of MCF's failed puppet show?


4.Eleanor.
Which member of the Roosevelt family does MCF always refer to as "The bootylicious one?"

5. My frisbee.
What does MCF serve dip in when he throws a party?


6. As a reminder.
After deciding to live life with "no regrets," why did MCF get the tattoos in the picture to the right?


7. William Devane.
Which actor does Darrell occasionally confuse with Willem Dafoe?


8. Giddy.
What comes before "up?"


9. My own helicopter.
From what vantage point is it safest to throw water balloons?


10. Tim Minear
Who's worked on a whole bunch of TV shows that MCF watches?


The other day, MCF posted his answers to an age-old blog meme, this one involving a number of common questions which the blogger has to answer with the names of songs by one band or artist. I've done this meme before, and since MCF's answers involved song titles by my favorite band, I decided to change things up a bit. Instead of answering the questions with song names, I decided to answer the questions with snippets of lyrics from my all time favorite rock album.

Ten SouthCon bonus points, which can be redeemed for absolutely nothing, will be awarded to everyone who correctly identifies the album:

1. What is your occupation?
...the cross I'm bearing home is indicative of my place...


2. What color are your socks right now?
...something that mommy wouldn't wear...


3. What was the last thing that you ate?
...the air I tasted...


4. What are you afraid of?
...how quick the sun can drop away...


5. Favorite drink?
...I'll ride the wave where it takes me...


6. Pets?
...we unleashed a lion...


7. Favorite food?
...lemon yellow sun...


8. Favorite day of the year?
...on the edge of a Christmas clean love...


9. What do you do to vent anger?
...I got a bomb in my temple and it's gonna explode...


10. What is on the floor of your closet?

...sheets of empty canvas...


11. What did you do last night?

...bit the recess lady's breast...


12. What inspires you?
...ponders his maker, ponders his will...


13. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
...all the pictures have all been washed in black...


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