Saturday, December 22, 2007

Annual Offerings for Lord Kringus

Last year, I offered Lord Kringus a bunch of videos that aren't there anymore. I had Jethro Tull doing "Ring Out, Solstice Bells," Bill Nighy singing "Christmas Is All Around," a clip from a great Christmas episode of Justice League, Elvis singing "Blue Christmas," my favorite McDonald's commercial (the ice skating one), a clip from The Nightmare Before Christmas, "Christmastime in Hell" from South Park, the Darkness video for "Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End," the SNL video "Dick in a Box," that neat Coke commercial that uses the Beach Boys classic "Little Saint Nick," the entire great cartoon The Snowman (fom the Raymond Briggs book), John Denver and the Muppets singing "12 Days of Christmas," Bowie and Bing with "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth," the Pogues's "Fairytale of New York," Jessica Simpson singing "O Holy Night" (my favorite Christmas song) at Disneyland, Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You," Steve Martin's Christmas wish from SNL, "Hey Ya, Charlie Brown," John and Yoko's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," and Nat "King" Cole singing "The Christmas Song."

That's a lot of videos. And most of them are now unavailable.

So, catch this year's while you can. If you have a slow moment this weekend, enjoy some of these videos.

This year, I'm starting off glam. T. Rex with "Christmas Bop."


And to set the mood, this bit from The Muppet Christmas Carol. This is the Ghost of Christmas Present singing "It Feels Like Christmas," and is probably my favorite scene in the whole thing. God, I love this movie.


A Disney Silly Symphony: Santa's Workshop. Some of the humor is of its time (by which I mean, midly offensive), but I used to see this every Christmas when the old Disney Channel used to actually show old Disney cartoons.


Not enough? Here's another Disney cartoon: The Night Before Christmas.


Here's a weird find: a commercial from the mid-eighties for the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Atari game. Eighties commercials are like little treasures to me; I miss a lot of the holiday-related ones they used to do. These days, they're just not as eye-catching.


Somebody put up some great shots of Boston in the winter with a great Beach Boys song, "Winter Symphony."


Ah, what the hell. Here's that Tesco's ad featuring the Spice Girls. Hey, I liked it. It reminds me of what I used to like about the Spice Girls and why I even, yes, went to see their movie. In the theater. First run.


This kind of thing is why I watched the first season or two of Mad TV. When it was funny. Which it never was again. No, no, it wasn't. The parody Raging Rudolph.


"Weird Al" Yankovic's "Christmas at Ground Zero." Because I had to put it up sooner or later.


I went back to South Park; this time, I have Jesus and Santa singing carols in a bar. Love it.


Christmas Tauntauns. Remember those Star Wars toys for Christmas?


This takes me back. My mom used to cry at this sappy Folger's commercial from 1986. But now it makes me cry too, because it makes me think of my mom and of Christmas as a kid. It brings back good memories, and I wish they still aired it.


Another Elvis classic: "It Won't Seem Like Christmas (Without You)."


Here's a real treat: Richard Williams's Oscar-winning 1971 animated version of A Christmas Carol. This story is still a staple of my holidays, and is edging close to being my favorite story ever. This is a great version. I mean, come on, it's Richard Williams.





And as a note to go out on, it's Nat "King" Cole again. Someone merely filmed their fireplace at Christmas, and put "O Holy Night" over it. And it's sublime to me. Because this is my favorite version of my favorite Christmas song, and it's a song that makes me think of deep snow and darkness, but of warmth and the light of the fire, too. I love it. It's Christmas to me. And here it is.


Well, that's more than enough for this year. If you want more, get on over to Zaius Nation, where Dr. Zaius has been posting a lot of great holiday goodies. Happy whatever you're celebrating. Or aren't.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Friday, December 21, 2007

Early Prediction

As the internet continues to destroy any semblance of English grammer, within the next five years all communication will be done through LolCats.

How Are You Getting Your Music These Days?

Starpulse has an article up about the best YouTube music moments of the year. It seems to me that, for the most part, this was an exceedingly shitty year for music. There were a couple of decent songs, but I didn't rush out to buy any albums that weren't from between 1962 and 1977. I like how people are trying to use YouTube and MySpace to get attention for their music. Those sites have got to be good for something other than inflicting Tila Tequila and the "Leave Britney Alone" idiot on us, right?

Anyway, I think it's impossible now to look at the mainstream media outlets and say that anything other than product is getting through. Even if it's any good, it's still product. Since everything is owned by the same five or seven corporations, they're all locked in this incestuous union of cross-promotion. Only the stuff the corporations want to push is getting through. And I'm not talking about people who actively go looking for something, who really want to find interesting new music. I'm talking about the average person who used to listen to the radio.

It just seems, with the paucity of actual music played on MTV (maybe the "m" just stands for "media" now) and the same Top 40 bullshit VH1 pushes on people in an effort to force the same young female singer-songwriter with a different face into mega-stardom, that unless you get your song on an episode of Gray's Anatomy or an iPhone commercial, you've got zero chance of reaching a mass audience these days. Which is kind of sad, and why I tend to rely on real music freaks posting MP3's to find anything really worth listening to. If you let the media feed it to you, there's no variety.

Of course, posting an MP3 on your blog is something which the music industry will go after with a vengeance. Just another way in which the music industry is destroying itself--by discouraging posting and sharing, which is basically the same as discouraging word of mouth. But hey, you know what Apple is like. They just can't stand the idea of not knowing what we're doing with their products every second of every day. Even if it kills the music business.

Which, after hearing Ingrid Michaelson's hideous "The Way I Am" for even the second time, seems like a good idea after all.

The Biggest Laugh I Got This Week

I was discussing some kind of squash recipe I saw on the news this week, and I pronounced "star anise" as "star anus."

Becca nearly choked on her chicken sammich.

A Holiday Warning

Alright, it's the holiday season. And there are usually a myriad of holidays celebrated around this time of the year because, let's face it, most religions are the same thing. Sorry, but they are. Christians don't have a monopoly on the winter holiday season; they stole it from Rome and Germany, anyway.

I know this sounds weird, but Christians are making me hate Christmas. Every year, they whine about a so-called "War on Christmas," and it's always in December that the Christian anger at everyone and everything not Christian is most apparent. What more do they want? Every business is closed on 25 December; kids get their breaks from school for two weeks because of Christmas (they can call it "winter holidays" all they like, it was originally instituted for Christmas); everything comes to a halt in December because of the Jesus myth. That's a fact. That's not enough for them?

(And before I get anyone telling me that Christianity is fine and it's the people that warp it, I'm really not interested. What people fail to realize is that Christianity is not a philosophy or a lifestyle, it's an institution. An organized institution that has not acted very well throughout its history of intolerance, violence, and systematic hatred. Yes, people did it, but it doesn't mean that it's inherently good and ruined by people. You can't convince me of that. Hell, read the damn bible and all the passages where it encourages conquering and subjugating people who aren't like you, and just tell me how wonderfully happy it is. If you dig Jesus, I really don't care.)

Anyway, the warning.

Look, Christers, I know that it bothers some of you to your very core that not everyone in America is a fan. But my lack of belief in God does nothing to oppress you in any way. Leave me alone. Especially at Christmas. I don't want to hear it.

So when I tell you "Happy Holidays," I'm just being polite. Believe it or not, in public, more than anything, I'm polite. I don't assume anything about people. I don't assume you're a Christian just because you're white and you're shopping. So if I politely say "Happy Holidays" to you, don't get upset with me and throw it back in my face. Don't try and give me a whithering look and acidly say to me "Merry CHRISTMAS!" as if I'm a terrible person. Because if you do, I will punch you right in the goddamn neck.

You have been warned.

Happy Holidays, asshole.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

3000

I truly have no life. 3000 posts. Nearly 223,000 hits. Over 400 hits a day.

What am I doing right?

I should really be thanking Becca right now, because she was the person who said "I bet you'd really enjoy blogging." And she was right; I have enjoyed it.

Here's what some other people have said over the past three years:

"I am so sick of nerds who spend all of their time voicing their opinions about stuff nobody cares about. Nobody cares about what you think about the Grammys or anything else you write about for that matter. Get a life. Get off the computer."

"I stumbled upon your blog and think it's acerbically witty. I appreciate it when people use their words well."

"Living proof...that the Internet allows IDIOTS to post blogs and be their own voice of reason. Only they don't realize their voice is heard in a vacuum of pure silence. Thankfully."

"What kind of idiot writes this kind of bunk?"

"Thanks for publicly embarassing me." -- Oddly enough, written by Becca and not my mom.

"Actually you are not a dick, and your blog is a fun read but come on.... where's the innocence?"

"...Like a 21st century pastiche of 'Waiting for Godot.'"

"It was my pleasure aiding your erection this morning. Oddly, I am flattered to bring such an erotic image to your mind ... your embellishment made my day. You have a wonderful way with words. Now I need some 'alone' time."

"I don't think it was anything SHOCKING, per se. It was just damn weird."

"Too many words in this blog."

"YOU SUCK!"

"I sometimes forget how delightfully evil you can be sometimes."

"I am confused and scared. I go weep now."

"Why in God's name would you watch 'Monster In Law'. I don't care how hot Jennifer Lopez is, that is not OK."

"That's disgusting."

"Man... Your Blog rocks. Lots of cool stuff."

"I am so glad I linked your blog!"

"If you consider Eva Longoria not to be hot, consider yourself a god damned queer because that fiery Latin hottie rocks my socks."

"If you're going to rant about something, get your facts straight."

"I discovered your blog yesterday and think it's awesome."

"Keep it up, you're the Jonathan Swift of the day! (I belive infant cannibalism may have made its way into a post, but that could just be wistful dreaming on my part)"

"I just found your blog and wanted to say I like your snarky, smart take on pop culture."


"I'm sensing a pattern in your recent posts. A pattern of rage."

"Don't get me wrong: You're a smart guy, but this is a terrible, terrible idea."

"I am assuming you were not abused as a child."

"It's because of you that I know who Dita Von Teese is and you should know that I can't get her out of my head."

"I bet you are single LOL."

"Never in my life have I met another human being who used the word 'steatopygousness.' This is why I keep coming back."

"I come mainly for the hot chicks. Screw that intellectualist crap."

"Isn't it fun ranting about the quality of crap these days?"

"Hey! Your site is GREAT! I'll have to let it all sink in! Keep up the good work!"

"I'll capitalize you!"

"Thank you, SamuraiFrog, for hating Dane Cook. I don't feel so alone."

"That is a gross picture; why did you inflict it on us?"

"Thanks for these pics, I really had a good wank over them."

"You magnificent, everything-hating curmudgeon."

"Found you while browsing. You have a great, funny blog. Will be coming back for more!"

"Whore!!!"

"Love your blog! Your movie reviews are great. You've got a wicked sense of humor."

"Boring cliched 'criticism.' Guh, I guess that's why you seem to have on average one comment per post, though."

"Just as you have prejudices against Paris Hilton types, I have mine against people from DeKalb, Illinois. You are an idiot. You did the research and failed to turn in your report. How can you review a record, if as you say, you did not listen to all of it. Your prejudices totally overwhelmed the research. No journalist here. Undisciplined. This could have been good but you could not resist trying to be clever...You are nowhere near as clever as you think you are...this is now like hundreds of other reviews...IT SUCKS." -- This guy was angry at my lack of scholarly thoroughness in reviewing Paris Hilton's shitty album; hey, the onus was on her to make a good album, not on me to suffer through a bad one, pal.

"Until now I hadn't thought about the fact that Pooh doesn't wear pants; now it's the only thing I can focus on."

"SamuraiFrog, many thanks for this and your other posts on animation. They are always a good read."

"What about me? You've never heard me say that I don't have a crush on you."

"I have to say that to me, you are Superman - a blog Superman!"

"The tone of this post is weirdly hostile."

"Titillating!"

"A mix of old-school, soft core porn and cheese. Doesn't get any better..."

"Muah! Loving you back!"

"That's a hell of an accomplishment."

"Electronic Cerebrectomy has become part of my daily fix and you're turning me into a junkie."

"Que lastima que no tienes un foto de mi para poner en tu blog."

"Well god damn if those ain't some fightin' words."

"(((this is me giving you a big hug)))"

"It's just further evidence of how awesome you are."

"I've waited too long for a screed such as this. Thank you for being more intelligent and thoughtful than entire swaths of this country."

"Your posts are so long, I always end up getting annoyed and it takes me like three visits to finish reading them."

"I swear that your blog just doesn't like me."

"...Seriously makes me consider cancelling my feed to this blog."

"Frog, you said it all so much better than I ever could."

"I'm sorry, Frog, I'm normally a tolerant guy, but this post crossed the line. I'm going to write a letter to Blogger to have your blog deleted."

"I love you for saying all of that. Your writing is wonderful. You deserve a Pulitzer for your in-depth reporting."

"I'm forwarding this to ALL the Chicago newspapers, ok? So be expecting a job within the next few weeks ..."

"Beautiful words. I'm sure she'll compliment you at the restraining order hearing."

"The perfect blend of antiquated language and ancient carnal lust."

"I thought I told you: No more pictures of Carrot Top!"

"You rock huge."

"You gave me the best upper of my day."

"You are soooo bad and too twisted!"

"I suggest that you do some serious research before attacking a person you do not know, darling."

"I have to congratulate you, you have a knack for publicity, putting all those homoerotic drawings to help your point."

"WOOOOOOW. You need to get a LIFE. Please and thank you."

"I know that you are going to write something pitiful in response to protect your ego, but I would like to be the bearer of bad news and say that your conceit is lamentable."

"Bottom line, this was an ignorant little rant."

"Geeks make the most attentive lovers."

"You should be writing for the 'New Yorker.'"


3000 posts later, and I still get a lot of hateful comments. I like to think it's because I hit so close to home, but then again, my conceit is lamentable. All I know is, if you've got nothing better to do with your life than anonymously comment about how I'm an idiot because I've not liked a book or a movie or a political position or imaginary deity of yours, well... am I really the one who needs to get a life? Honestly, going through my old posts has kind of invigorated me. Especially when anonymous commenters fall into my trap. My favorite is when I say ignorant people will use such-and-such lame defense; that defense always ends up in the comments. I never get tired of watching me be right. Anyway, I still get a lot of very nice comments, too. Thanks for those.

Anyway, just marking this milestone. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting and emailing me lots of neat stuff. Thank you guys for all of the encouragement and support through what has been an especially rough year. Thanks for introducing me to online games, sending me books and Christmas cards, helping me with my health, offering personal help, including me in blog projects, the awards and tags, and challenging my arrogance. Thanks for everything.

So, on to the next 3000.

70 Years of Snow White

70 years ago today, Walt Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the world. Not neccesarily the first full-length animated feature, but the first one in America, the first for Disney. It premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater, released by RKO. Celebrities at the premiere included some of Hollywood's biggest stars, notably Charles Chaplin, Carole Lombard, John Barrymore, and Marlene Dietrich.

It was supposed to fail; it was supposed to be Disney's Folly. Budgeted at $250,000, Walt's ambitious project ended up costing $1.5 million. When the film was put into general release, it made more money than any other picture in 1938; it was the highest-grossing American film ever made for a year, until Gone with the Wind outgrossed it. Adjusted for inflation, it remains one of the ten highest moneymaking American films.

Six days after the premiere, Walt was on the cover of Time. The New York Times said, "Thank you, Mr. Disney." The film won an honorary Oscar. It introduced the world to "Some Day My Prince Will Come," now a standard and, interestingly, a number of great jazz interpretations have been recorded (my personal favorite is by the Dave Brubeck Quartet). Sergei Eisenstein called it a remarkable achievement in cinema; so did Chaplin. It inspired MGM to make The Wizard of Oz. And, of course, its success encouraged Disney to make more animated features. It was one of only two animated films on the AFI's 1997 list of the 100 Greatest American Films; the other was Fantasia. In 2007, Fantasia was dropped from the list. Snow White was added to the National Film Registry in 1989.

I've written a whole post about the making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (see my sidebar for the link to Animation History), so I'll just stop there. I wanted to recognize that today, 70 years ago, a major milestone in animation was accomplished.

Thank you, Mr. Disney.

The Subtle Knife

Okay, just like I did with The Golden Compass, I'm going to reveal plot points here, so if you don't want to know any details, don't read any further on this post.

Okay, The Subtle Knife. I'm not really reviewing it. I don't feel comfortable doing that because, here's the thing: I can't finish it. I know there are a lot of people out there who are Pullman fans and who love this series and who really love it, but I have to admit, I'm on page 96 and I just don't want to read anymore. It's really, really, really, really, really, truly, completely, and fantastically dumb, and I can't stand it anymore.

I was with it, despite Pullman's turgid prose and flat characters. I really wanted to see what happened to Lyra and who the man in the linen suit was and where it was all going. But I just find Dust to be a really silly concept, and the fact that it's being treated with utter seriousness makes me alternately laugh in frustration or roll my eyes in annoyance. And for Lyra to come into this world and have a serious conversation with a physicist about talking Shadows in outer space... no, sorry, you've finally crossed the line of believability. It's just presented in such a shallow way, as most of The Golden Compass was. It all amounts to: "Hi, I'm a little girl from another world and you're a scientist, and I already know more about your research than you do, and I'm stating this with utter seriousness." "Oh, well, alright then, let me hook you up to this expensive machine." Give me a break.

It's called verisimilitude. And there's none there. It's all just silliness. And not in a fun, we're-at-least-pretending-to-take-this-seriously Doctor Who way. It's just stupid. It's really, really stupid. I've tried to get back into The Subtle Knife, but after the disappoinment of the first book and the mounting dumbness of this one... no, I'm out. No more.

And please don't tell me that it all makes sense at the end, because I really don't care. And don't tell me I've got presuppositions about what makes an atheist novel or something like that, because I don't care either. I take every novel the same way: did it pull me in and compel me to finish it and in the process entertain and/or enlighten and/or interest me? And the answer in this case is no. It didn't.

Moving on to a new novel, then.

Why Yes, I Am a Super Nerd

I Am A: Chaotic Good Human Ranger (3rd Level)


Ability Scores:

Strength-9

Dexterity-13

Constitution-11

Intelligence-14

Wisdom-13

Charisma-11


Alignment:
Chaotic Good A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. However, chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment because it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.


Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.


Class:
Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.


Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus

Birthdays

Hmm. JoJo is 17 today, you say? Interesting, interesting.

Very interesting...

Um, I mean...

Happy 24th Birthday, Lucy Pinder!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And People Tell Me I'm Too Hard on These Idiots

"I'm more like the People's Artist--the same way Diana was the People's Princess." -- Fergie, apparently unironically being named Blender's Woman of the Year

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

INTERVIEW (2006)
Steve Buscemi directed this movie; he also stars as a reporter who spends a weird night interviewing a soap opera actress played by Sienna Miller. Miller and Buscemi are both very good (especially Miller, who's performance is either very brave or unfocused, I can't decide which), but it veers wildly in tone and finally becomes hard to watch. I understand that it's about intimacy and trust, but I'm still not sure it has any kind of point to make or any purpose at all. It's more of an exercise, and I know that Buscemi as a director is capable of better (Lonesome Jim, for example). Still, it's a movie I can't really dismiss, either. So no rating on this one; it's another one I need more time to absorb.

I KNOW WHO KILLED ME (2007)
This movie is so bad that it would be premiering late night on Showtime Extreme or something if it hadn't starred Lindsay Lohan. That'll be the last time anyone can ever say that, I bet. I'd be surprised if she was ever in anything released theatrically again; I expect her next starring role to be in something that goes straight to SCI FI Channel. Return of Mansquito, maybe. Anyway, she's pretty bad in this, and the movie is very full of itself for thinking it's clever, when it's actually insensible torture porn. Lilo plays the 21st century's umpteenth fully-clothed stripper. Dude, if you're not going to use your talent ever again, the least you can do is show us your nipples. In fact, I think you owe us for putting up with your bullshit. No stars.

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007)
I love these movies. I'm not sure how deeply they need to be analyzed, because the whole concept is a bit silly, but these movies are all fun as hell. Once again, **** stars.

PILGRIMAGE (1933)
John Ford directed this movie about a woman who tries to keep her son away from a woman she disapproves of by enlisting him to fight in World War I. At least, that's the set-up. It's really a movie about forgiveness and coming to terms with bitterness, and it's quite good. Ford's backgrounds are especially interesting; there's a real depth to the imagery. But on the other hand, the camera is mostly stationary, as though Ford is still setting his stage like a silent movie. Henrietta Crosman plays the lead, and she gives a great, great performance as a simple country woman who learns the error of her ways.

THIRTEEN WOMEN (1932)
Weird B-movie with Myrna Loy as a mesmerist and vamp who uses astrological charts to get revenge on the women who tormented her as a child. Irene Dunne stars as the woman she most wants vengeance from. Odd, vaguely racist, with a disappointing ending. ** stars.

HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941)
Beautiful John Ford film about a family of coal miners in Wales and what they go through and survive. What I mostly know this from is the film buff's lament that this picture beat Citizen Kane to the Oscar. I can see why it happened; Valley really is an excellent film, with great performances (especially Donald Crisp as the father), beautiful scenery (all shot on a backlot), and an absorbing story. Kane is very clever, and clever tends to go over the heads of most viewers. I know more people who are weirdly proud of not liking Citizen Kane because they dared it to be the greatest movie ever made. Anyway, How Green Was My Valley is also one of the best pictures I've ever seen, and one of Ford's best (which is really saying something). **** stars.

THE IRON HORSE (1924)
John Ford's great silent epic about the building of the first transcontinental railroad in America. Of course, there's a lot of melodrama, but it's pretty exciting and a damn sight more fun to watch than The Birth of a Nation. Ford sees the railroad as a real achievement, going as far as to imply that it was the real fruition of Abraham Lincoln's desire to unite the nation. But he's also critical of the people who built it, especially the easily-bribed, greedy landmen and landowners, and the drunks, prostitutes, and shady characters who inhabit the worker towns. Brilliant. **** stars.

STARDUST (2007)
Unbelievably awesome. I don't care, it was. Loved every moment and every thing. I thought it was a perfect fantasy and, even though it (like every modern fantasy) owed a hell of a ton of a lot to Terry Gilliam, there was some stuff I'd never really seen before. Funny, romantic, with a swordfight or two and a very beautiful Claire Danes. Good performances all around, especially Michelle Pfeiffer having fun as a witch, Robert De Niro having fun (but not sucking like he usually does in comedic roles) as a pirate, and Mark Strong as a prince. Loved it; loved it all. **** stars.

THE LAST LEGION (2007)
Really fun B-adventure movie that basically sets up the story of King Arthur. Thomas Sangster (I like him) plays the last Roman Emperor, Romulus. After Rome falls to the Goths, he is taken by his personal guard (Colin Firth, loads of awesome) and his teacher (Ben Kingsley, a magician) to find the last loyal Roman legion in Britain. I enjoyed it for what it was, and I also enjoyed very sexy Aishwarya Rai as a Byzantine warrior. Dumb, sure, but neat. *** stars.

Every Movie Looks Lame

This cinches it for me. I do not want to see Sweeney Todd. And not in some kind of "Bah, I'm too good and smart for this kind of crap!" way, either. I just have absolutely zero interest in this movie. I like Sweeney Todd. I like Stephen Sondheim. I like Alan Rickman. I used to like Tim Burton, until he became a hack. I used to like Johnny Depp, until those Pirates movies (and I notice he's using the same accent in this movie--the bag of tricks gets shorter as you get older, doesn't it?) sucked out his talent and made him a product. But I just don't care about this movie. I don't even have the curiosity of seeing what people whose talent I don't like will do to a great musical. I do not care.

It was the opening credits sequence, linked in the first paragraph, that really did it. Somehow, I never really realized that the opening credits sequence to every Tim Burton movie is exactly the same. Hell, take out the blood and put in chocolate, and the opening credits sequence from Sweeney Todd could be the opening credits sequence from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And that got me thinking about Tim Burton's new obsession with daddy issues, and how every movie he does is the same, and do I even want to see Johnny Depp in another movie after that third Pirates idiocy, anyway?

Why is it that nothing coming out looks good to me? I'm just not excited about anything this year, except for Persepolis. Next year has a couple of movies, especially The Dark Knight and Wall-E, but is that going to be it? Is everything the same only more cynical, or am I just more cynical? I like a lot of movies, but I think it means something that I couldn't even work up the energy to do a holiday movie preview post this year. I mean....who cares?

Oh, well. There's still a lot of movies from the 1930s that I haven't seen yet.

Mickey Mouse Keeps Trying to Kill Himself

The 1930s were a different place. [Source]

People Should Need a License to Have Kids

Jamie-Lynn Spears, Britney's 16 year-old little sister, is three months pregnant.

Where is the fucking line anymore?

What the fuck is wrong with Hollywood kids?

UPDATE 10:02 AM: I see a lot of people are making fun of the fact that Lynn Spears's parenting book is "delayed" because of this news. But my question is: Unless it was a book about how to exploit your children at an early age so that you don't actually have to get a job, what business did Lynn Spears have writing a book about parenting, anyway? Seriously.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Health Report, Year Two: Week 1

Wow; a whole year down. It's hard to look back and feel like there's been any real progress. I guess the whole year was one of those learning experiences they keep talking about. I learned a lot more about getting healthy that I really didn't know before. And I learned a lot about myself and my body. And, perhaps most importantly, I've realized just how bad my health is during brief flashes of health improvement.

So, where do I stand today?

Well, I'm still damn heavy. Too damn heavy. I've lost some definite size, but not much weight. I've actually managed to keep off most of the 15 pounds I lost when I was sick, so that's pretty decent. I need to lose about a hundred or so more, though. I stopped drinking soda (again), and I haven't had any in a week, and I don't find myself craving it. I've found all kinds of foods that I didn't know I liked and, really, wouldn't have tried if I weren't trying to take control of my health.

So, once again, I'm back on trying to take on my health. I know I've said that so much it's lost all meaning, but I am. I even shopped for myself this week, which is something I hate doing. I don't even like to cook for myself too much, but I went to the meat market and bought a mahi mahi fillet and cooked it. It wasn't bad. More fish, please!

I'm feeling better about myself this week. I finally got a paycheck from working (they sent it to the wrong address initially), so that made me feel more gratified in my teaching gig. There were some very sympathetic comments last week; thank you, Allen, for your email, which inspired me to snap out of it. I'm working on the eating, I really am. I'm controlling my fat and caloric intake like crazy. And hey, I'm eating so good that I'm even sleeping through the whole night again and waking up full of energy and raring to go. Even with this damn cold weather and the awful snow and ice.

I look it at this way, and I know people who hate that I think like this, but seriously: if I have to live, I might as well live well. I might as well trim down and get stronger and not be sick and coughing and tired all the time. I might as well be the kind of man that teenage girls want to do. Hey, it's motivational. How else am I going to get Scarlett Johansson to marry me? My awful personality? (Just kidding, but let's be honest.)

But you know what I read that really did a number on me this week? I was reading about John Candy, and how he basically smoked and drank himself to death. And you know what? It's painful to admit, but... I weigh more now than John Candy did when he died. By nearly 35 pounds. Jesus, I weigh more than Chris Farley did when he died (and he was just a year or two older than me); Belushi, too. Fuck, man. I don't want to die. I need to know how George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire comes out. I've got shit to do, man!

Yeah, I'm choosing life. Fuck soda. Fuck taking everything so seriously that any setback is a dramatic personal failure. Fuck that attitude. It's time to live. It's time to be healthy. It's time for a life, god damn it.

No more whining. Time to push myself.

An Open Letter to Charisma Carpenter That Will Never Be Answered

Darling Charisma,

I must admit, I wasn't too terribly upset over the recent news that you had split up with your husband of four years. I hope that doesn't sound too harsh, but you know how it is. What did upset me was hearing that, as a result of the separation, you're having a little bit of money trouble and, because of the WGA strike, you can't get any work. So I'd like to offer you a solution: come to Chicago for Christmas.

Seriously, come out here to rural DeKalb, Illinois, and enjoy the snow and cold that you probably didn't enjoy growing up in Las Vegas. Come on out and stay at my place; ride out the WGA strike in comfort and don't worry about not being able to support yourself because, frankly, I'm willing to do it for you.

Just think about it and email me. It's all I ask. I'm a big, big fan.

Love,
SamuraiFrog

Just One Flaw...

Since when were there 100 great songs in the 90s?

How You Know a Star Wars Fan Is Cool

I've been trying this one on recently.

If, while watching one of the original movies--Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, or Return of the Jedi--you suddenly start reciting Darth Vader's dialogue in the same flat, nasal, whiny monotone that Hayden Christensen used when playing Mannequin Skywalker, and the people you're watching it with think it's funny, then they're cool. If they get all irritated about it, they're taking it all way too seriously.

A Couple of Boobies

Monday, December 17, 2007

More Wild Things

The first Spike Jonze movie I ever wanted to see. And now it's been delayed until 2009. Damn it.

Incidentally, is this CGI? The reason I got excited about this shot is that the wild things look very Muppety. Remember those large Muppets, like Sweetums and Doglion and Thog? The wild things look awesome like Muppets. I would love for this to be Muppet good.

$45 Million? $45 Million? Are You Kidding Me?

For everyone who's wondered since 2004 how in the hell George W. Bush could be re-elected... do you really need to ask?

An Open Letter to Mitt Romney

Dear Mittwit,

Wow. Just wow. I didn't think, after years of the Bush administration and, frankly, growing up under Reagan, that any politician could say anything to truly offend me ever again. But you sure did it, boy. You offended me.

Why? Because you said this: "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom."

Oh, wow, where do I start with this?

Freedom requires religion? No, sir, it doesn't. Sorry, but you're just wrong. How do I know? Well, I'm free, and I'm not religious. You remind me of all those assholes who have ever told me in my life that I can't have morals without being a Christian. Conveniently overlooking the examples of crooked televangelists and child-molesting priests, of course. I mean, they had religion, so where was their morality? Freedom requires religion? So all of us who don't have any religion whatsoever, who foolishly believe that stuff about separation of Church and State, we can't be free? I mean, that is what you're saying, isn't it? As an atheist, I cannot be free.

And I'm going to vote for you why?

And religion requires freedom? Huh? Your religion (and most Judeo-Christian derivations) don't believe that gay people should be allowed to live or that women are anything above possessions. You believe, as a tenet of faith, that anyone who doesn't think the same way as you as an enemy. Sorry, not seeing the freedom in religion here. Of course, unlike a lot of Christians I know personally, I've actually read the entire field guide to Jesus, and a good deal of it is pretty much a list of things not to do. Unless you want God to kill you. Which he does. Often.

Take the tin foil off of your head, Mittens. Not all of us trust in your Aten knock-off. Doesn't make us bad people. But it does make you a bad person for telling us we're not free until we surrender our will to fantasy and myths.

Well, I'm sure you don't understand this, anyway. After all, conversation requires rational thinking just as rational thinking requires conversation. And you... well, you're not up to that level yet.

Get bent,
SamuraiFrog

Bird

Back in September, I took pictures of a bird sleeping on my balcony and asked if anyone knew what it was.

Now, thanks to this great book...
...I know that it's a common nighthawk.

Neato frito. I really want this book; it's really great, and it's 37% off on Amazon.

Happy Birthday, Milla Jovovich

I know she had the baby last month, but I never had any pictures of her up preggo, and she looks hella cute.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Song of the Week: "Waiting on a Friend"

Apparently this song was recorded in the early seventies, but it closes out the Rolling Stones's 1981 album Tattoo You. For me, this is the last great moment of the Stones. They've had a few decent songs since then, sure, but this was the real close of one of the greatest bands in rock music. Anyway, I love this song; the album version is two minutes longer. Lovely stuff, and very much where I'm at this morning.

Congress Has Too Much Time on Its Hands

Here's what our duly elected Representatives passed the other day by 372-9: a resolution that (1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world; (2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide; (3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith; (4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization; (5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and (6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.

This is similar to the resolution passed during Ramadan which recognized Muslims. And there was one for Diwali, too.

Seriously, Congress has time to fritter away on this kind of bullshit? Resolutions on faith? Seriously?

Okay, I know Nancy Pelosi has a lot to work on and not a lot of support to do it with. I really was giving her the benefit of the doubt on this one. But when things like this are taking the time that could be devoted to the myriad of problems we have now, I start getting angry. Did we really think, just a year ago, that electing more Democrats was going to solve anything? Oh, how wrong we were. Well, except for Christians who now find themselves recognized by Congress. Which, now that I think about it, is a wee bit unconstitutional, isn't it? (Answer: duh.)

Why does the government keep quaking before the supposed might of Christians? Seriously, it's like building a plane and then letting a drunk hobo with tin foil on his head inspect the controls for anything that might anger his invisible friend. I know some of you out there are in the Jezzy Creezy Fan Club, but seriously: Fuck Christianity. It has no place in the governance of a democratic country. Religion does not get in the door; an untaxed church does not get to bully their way into government decisions. Not everyone in America is a Christian; get over it and move fucking on with your lives. It's bad enough that we let those types of Christians whine and cry about how they're somehow being oppressed for their faith; that words like "Xmas" and "Holiday" are somehow offensive because not everyone bows to their sky god.

But that's Congress; they're constantly bowing to the Commander-in-Chimp, so why not bow to the country's biggest cult, too?

Here's some other things I hope Congress passes:
1. A resolution recognizing that bunnies are cute.
2. A resolution shunning those who don't accept that Orlando Bloom is just dreamy.
3. The "No, Seriously, Despite All Tangible Evidence to the Contrary, Two and a Half Men Is Really, Really Funny" Bill.
4. A resolution for Britney Spears to put some goddamn panties on.
5. A bill making High School Musical the official musical of America.
6. A Constitutional Amendment making "Git-R-Done" the new official American motto.
7. The transfer of all powers to TMZ.

After all, Congress knows what's really important.

What did I even vote for? So that this kind of unconstitutional lunacy could be done in my name? Isn't there some kind of budget issue Congress can be working on? How about some fucking health care? Congratulations; I'm sure every gay couple who still can't legally marry, everyone who lose a son or daughter or father or mother or husband or wife in Iraq, and every parent who loses a child because they can't afford to see a doctor will at least be comforted by the fact that Congress thinks Jebus Q. Kazoo is the ginchiest. Congratu-fucking-lations.

Fuck it; I'm writing in Howard the Duck this year.

Sunday Hottie 150

DANIEL CRAIG

90 Years of Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke turns 90 today. To celebrate, a post of quotes. There's going to be 90 more years, I hope.

"We stand now at the turning point between two eras. Behind us is a past to which we can never return ... The coming of the rocket brought to an end a million years of isolation ... the childhood of our race was over and history as we know it began."

"Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be!"

"I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent."

"The dinosaurs disappeared because they could not adapt to their changing environment. We shall disappear if we cannot adapt to an environment that now contains spaceships, computers — and thermonuclear weapons."

"As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying."

CNN is one of the participants in the war. I have a fantasy where Ted Turner is elected president but refuses because he doesn't want to give up power."

"I don't believe in astrology; I'm a Sagittarian and we're sceptical."

"I don't pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about..."

"I'm sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It's just been too intelligent to come here."

"If there are any gods whose chief concern is man, they can't be very important gods."

"It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true perspective as a single small globe against the stars."

"My favourite definition of 'Intellectual' is: 'A person whose education surpasses their intelligence.'"

"Reading computer manuals without the hardware is as frustrating as reading sex manuals without the software."

"Science can destroy religion by ignoring it as well as by disproving its tenets. No one ever demonstrated, so far as I am aware, the non-existence of Zeus or Thor— but they have few followers now."

"The best measure of a man's honesty isn't his income tax return. It's the zero adjust on his bathroom scale."

"The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion."

"The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information— in the sense of raw data— is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these."

"The intelligence of the planet is constant, and the population is growing."

"There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum."

"This is the first age that's ever paid much attention to the future, which is a little ironic since we may not have one."

"We seldom stop to think that we are still creatures of the sea, able to leave it only because, from birth to death, we wear the water-filled space suits of our skins."

"Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying."

Clarke's First Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Clarke's Second Law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Clarke's Law of Revolutionary Ideas: Every revolutionary idea – in science, politics, art, or whatever – seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases:
(1) "It's completely impossible – don't waste my time";
(2) "It's possible, but it's not worth doing";
(3) "I said it was a good idea all along."

Stop Going to See These

I just found this horrific poster online. This is going to be this year's Date Movie, Epic Movie, what have you. I don't know who it is out there going to see this stupid shit, but apparently someone is, because they won't stop making the goddamn things.

I'm begging you, stop going to see this crap. They're not even movies.

You notice how, whenever these parody movies come out now, they only parody stuff from the last 18 months or so? It's a mark of our disposable culture that they can't parody anything older, because people have already forgotten it. If a movie like Blazing Saddles came out today, none of the kids would get the jokes.

And I use the word parody loosely; these movies never parody anything so much as just fully quote. There doesn't have to be any humor, because most people will sit and clap like monkeys with cymbals when they simply see something they recognize. It doesn't have to be a joke; you could just copy the scene exactly, and people will laugh like idiots. I mean, why else would Family Guy still be on the air? Two reasons: people love references and stoners will watch flickering lights for three hours.

So please, don't go see Meet the Spartans. Don't go to see it, don't go to see it ironically, don't go to see it just because you need "a fun waste of time" (as if time spent having fun is ever wasted, and as if these movies are fun in any way). If you go to see it, you've contributed to the making of another one, and you are a complete idiot. When you see these things in the theater, all you're doing is telling Hollywood to keep unscrewing the top of your head and sticking their hard dicks in your brain. They don't give a shit about your opinion, just your money. So stop playing their game.

If you go see Meet the Spartans, you're not allowed to read my blog ever again.