Friday, August 01, 2008

Throwdown 8/1

Special "Yes, Orson Scott Card, You ARE a Homophobe Edition." Because I wanted to say more about Orson Scott Card's fearful, hate-filled diatribe against gay marriage. So, all quotes originate here.

1. These judges are making new law without any democratic process; in fact, their decisions are striking down laws enacted by majority vote.

Imagine that: judges interpreting the law. Why, that could almost be their job description. That'd be kooky, wouldn't it? I mean, how dare those selfish judges interpret laws to uphold civil rights for Americans? Any Americans? I mean, by Card's definition, the judges who upheld civil rights for black Americans less that half a century ago were also acting outside of their power against majority vote. I mean, if you want to go all the way back into total stupidity, the Emancipation Proclamation went against the majority vote: black people were officially three-fifths of a human being in the Constitution.

So, Card is also against civil rights for black people? Because it's literally the same argument.

2. It is absurd to claim that these constitutions require marriage to be defined in ways that were unthinkable through all of human history until the past 15 years. And it is offensive to expect us to believe this obvious fiction.

Fifteen years? Yeah, right, buddy. Ever hear the term Boston marriage before? Yeah, it's only been in the last 15 years that gay people ever wanted to be able to live together in a pact that was legally binding and protected their property rights and recognized their partnership.

3. It is such an obvious overreach by judges, far beyond any rational definition of their authority, that even those who support the outcome of the decisions should be horrified by the means.

Again, judges interpret the law. What's the conflict here? A judge who interprets civil rights laws to say that civil rights apply to all Americans is doing his job right. Ooh, horrifying. Freedom bad.

4. ...the courts upheld obviously unconstitutional limitations on free speech and public assembly: It is now illegal even to kneel and pray in front of a clinic that performs abortions.

You know what? I'll bend on that one. I think you have the right to protest at abortion clinics and pray in front of them. Who am I to stop people who are determined to make asshole spectacles of themselves? As long as you're not molesting passerby or physically stopping people from entering these clinics, you can stand around and make yourself as big a dick as you want. But you also have to accept that rational people have the right to completely ignore your ancient sky-wizard rhetoric and go about their lives. None of this laying down in front of cars shit, or we have the right to run you right the fuck over.

I think that also means that people should have the right to stand outside of your church and protest you and create signs of horrible, violent imagery to shame and goad you into giving up your beliefs and shout names at you and tell you what an asshole you are for your life choices. Because, see, the thing about free speech and free assembly is that they work both ways. People like me just don't do that because we're not total assholes about forcing other people to live the way we do.

5. Already in several states, there are textbooks for children in the earliest grades that show "gay marriages" as normal. How long do you think it will be before such textbooks become mandatory -- and parents have no way to opt out of having their children taught from them?

Wow, that's a lot of terror over a textbook. In my experience, schools have a hard time forcing kids to believe anything, unless they're very stupid, and a lot of kids are very, very stupid. Kids of a certain age will believe anything that any adult tells them. Again, I'm sure there was a lot of this 50 years ago too, only with black people. And there were ignorant morons then (and still are) who were pathetically scared that their children might learn that different races of people were people just like them. As yet, Card hasn't qualified why he has such a hatred for gay marriage and for children knowing about it. So far, he's been ranting and raving like a zealot with nothing to back it up.

6. Please remember that for the mildest of comments critical of the political agenda of homosexual activists, I have been called a "homophobe" for years.

That's probably because, like a lot of self-loathing closeted homosexuals, you're a homophobe. And I'm not just falling back on a typical "well, so are you" argument, Mr. Card. I'm hardly the first, or even the fortieth person to observe your obviously closeted status. And the sheer amount of terror you've already shown over legalizing gay marriage and the idea of a textbook "normalizing" gay marriage--and it's been fearful hate rhetoric disguised as genuine concern so far--kind of screams to me in no uncertain terms that, yes, you are afraid of gay folks having legal rights pertaining to civic recognition of their unions.

7. This is a term that was invented to describe people with a pathological fear of homosexuals -- the kind of people who engage in acts of violence against gays. But the term was immediately extended to apply to anyone who opposed the homosexual activist agenda in any way.

a. All terms are "invented." There is no naturally-occurring term.

b. Well, if you can argue against the "homosexual activist agenda" in a way that doesn't boil down to "I'm afraid of penis," I'll stop calling you a homophobe, homophobe. So far, no dice.

8. A term that has mental-health implications (homophobe) is now routinely applied to anyone who deviates from the politically correct line. How long before opposing gay marriage, or refusing to recognize it, gets you officially classified as "mentally ill"?

Again, Card is fear-mongering. He's saying that he's not afraid of boys who kiss each other, and then he posits a world where those who don't think boys kissing is wonderful are locked away in institutions because they're mentally ill. Mr. Card, you don't get it: it's not about "right-thinking" or political correctness (because God knows there aren't enough politicians standing up for gay rights, especially when they think it's going to hurt election chances), it's about civil rights. You don't think that people who live a lifestyle you find personally repugnant should be afforded the same rights as others. See, opposing gay marriage doesn't classify you as mentally ill to me, it classifies you as a total douchebag.

Again, the argument only boils down one way: you don't think all people are equally worthy of legal protection.

9. Here's the irony: There is no branch of government with the authority to redefine marriage. Marriage is older than government. Its meaning is universal: It is the permanent or semipermanent bond between a man and a woman, establishing responsibilities between the couple and any children that ensue. The laws concerning marriage did not create marriage, they merely attempted to solve problems in such areas as inheritance, property, paternity, divorce, adoption and so on.

Here's another irony: There is no branch of government with the authority to redefine murder. Murder is older than government. Its meaning is universal: the deliberate or accidental ending of the life of another human being, establishing the end of that human being's existence. The laws concerning murder did not create murder, they merely attempted to solve problems in such areas as accidental manslaughter, premeditated homicide, self-defense, execution, slayings, sprees, and so on.

Card's argument here is idiotic. Of course the government can't redefine what marriage might mean to someone individually. But you damn well bet the government can define and redefine what marriage means legally. Just like they do with murder and theft, or property rights and copyright ownership. This is the reason we have a government to make laws. We give them the power to do this in order to protect our rights. Yes, the whole point of the government is to protect the rights of people, not to enforce what one group finds a little icky.

10. No matter how sexually attracted a man might be toward other men, or a woman toward other women, and no matter how close the bonds of affection and friendship might be within same-sex couples, there is no act of court or Congress that can make these relationships the same as the coupling between a man and a woman. This is a permanent fact of nature.

Notice this douche keeps using words like "affection" and "friendship." He refuses to even acknowledge that the "affection" and "friendship" between a man and a man or a woman and a woman might be, I don't know, love. Of course, he also doesn't seem to acknowledge that such feelings exist between a man and a woman, either. To hear Card tell it, marriage is a legal arrangement that two people enter into for the noble, selfless betterment of society and the continuance of our overpopulated species. Love apparently doesn't enter into it at all.

Now we'll watch Card do one of the funniest things that hate-mongers always do: pretend they're scientists.

11. There is no natural method by which two males or two females can create offspring in which both partners contribute genetically. This is not subject to legislation, let alone fashionable opinion. Human beings are part of a long mammalian tradition of heterosexuality.

Okay, I will agree with you that X is X and Y is Y. But that only defines that a being is either male or female, not that what their sexual preference will be, any more than it defines their favorite color, what foods they like, how they're going to vote, or what beliefs they're willing to die for. It doesn't determine anything other than the basic biological fact of gender. What terrifies homophobes like Card here is the idea that sexual preference is not on a biological level. They might have to accept the idea that a man's longing for a woman might not be something that exists in us as a natural course, but just a majority preference necessary for species survival.

And while I'm on the subject of biology and Card's assertion that marriage is and can only be about rearing children, it's hardly essential that every human on the planet exist for reproduction purposes. In fact, if people want to have a few less kids, that would be fine. Our species is overrunning the place as it is and causing too much demand on our resources, to the point where the richest nation in the history of the world is seeing its own people out on the street, starving to death. Human beings have survived a very long time without every single woman birthing a child (or several) and all of those children surviving to do the same.

12. That many individuals suffer from sex-role dysfunctions does not change the fact that only heterosexual mating can result in families where a father and a mother collaborate in rearing children that share a genetic contribution from both parents.

And right there, right fucking there, Card defines homosexuals as people suffering from sex-role dysfunctions. And he was pissed that people who were against gay marriage were being maligned with a term ("homophobe") that implied mental illness. Meanwhile, here he is implying that gays suffer from a mental illness of their own. Nice work, homophobe.

13. Married people are doing something that is very, very hard -- to combine the lives of a male and female, with all their physical and personality differences, into a stable relationship that persists across time.

Well, the 50% or so who stay married, anyway. Because, remember, Britney Spears once got married for 56 hours or so, and the right for her to do that is much more sacred and defensible and god-annointed than the right of two people in a stable relationship that's lasted for years and years and who genuinely love each other and will be together until they die. Sure, not every gay marriage is going to work out, but neither does every hetero marriage. Card's right, marriage is hard work. I've seen lots of them fall apart. But why doesn't everyone deserve an equal chance to have a happy marriage? Just because they can't biologically have children together? People adopt all the time.

The problem in Card's eyes (and he goes on and on about this, I just don't want to quote all of this, but you can go and check for yourself) is that straight marriages create role models for all of society as to what marriage is supposed to be like (again, assuming dad's not a philanderer and mom's not a drunk and they both don't beat the shit out of you and lock you in the basement), and that they affirm "the universality of the pattern of marriage." Card doesn't come out and say it like this, but he thinks that society itself is going to collapse into ruin and anarchy because some kids might see gay parents and decide not to get married and have children. Because, as we know from all of those kids who jump off of cliffs to emulate Wile E. Coyote, kids believe everything, right?

14. If property rights were utterly abolished, and you could own nothing, you would leave that society as quickly as possible -- or create a new society that agreed to respect each other's property rights and protected them from outsiders who would attempt to take away your property. Marriage is, if anything, more vital, more central, than property.

Seriously, how many times does Card need to equate being married to owning something? He's making this gigantic, idiotic assumption that people only get married in order to protect society and perform a societal duty. Anyone here get married because they wanted other peoples' children to have someone to look up to?

15. We heterosexuals have put marriage in such a state that it's a wonder homosexuals would even aspire to call their unions by that name. Divorce is "no-fault," easily obtained on any pretext.

You're right, people in an unhappy, detrimental, dangerous, or abusive situation should be forced to remain there for the betterment of society and the propagation of the species. Is anyone else getting visions of Sterling Hayden in Dr. Strangelove talking about flouridation of water? So, see, it's not just boys kissing that is threatening society, but people who get divorced.

Can I just take a moment here to say that I find all of this pretty hilarious coming from a Mormon? Here are some points about Mormonism that are similar to the points he's arguing against here:

a. Card says that American law cannot change to redefine marriage; Card is part of an offshoot of Christianity that changed Christian law to redefine marriage.

b. Card says that marriage is a socially vital legal arrangement between one man and one woman; Card is part of a religion founded on the idea that marriage is a religious arrangement between one man and many, many, many women.

c. Card says that American law is forcing people to accept homosexual marriage as normal to be politically correct; Card is part of a religious sect that broke away from the fundamental pillars its original beliefs by outlawing plural marriage to force people to accept them as normal in order to be politically correct.

d. Card says that activist judges are just doing whatever they want without regard to reality; Card is a member of a religion founded by a man who literally pulled his religion out of a hat.

16. A vast number of unmarried men and women have such contempt for marriage that they share bed and home without asking for any formal recognition by society.

You're right. Becca and I have been together for almost 14 years, half of which we've spent living together, because we just have a total contempt for marriage. It's not that we don't care what society thinks, not at all; it's that we both find marriage so meaningful, so important, such a cornerstone in the lives of us all, that we hate it. We just despise marriage so much that we're making a statement about how oppressive it is by not getting married.


17. In an era when birth control and abortion make childbearing completely optional, the number of out-of-wedlock births shows the contempt that many women have for marriage. Yet most of these single mothers still demand that the man they chose not to marry before having sex with him provide financial support for them and their children -- while denying the man any of the rights and protections of marriage.

You really think childbearing wasn't always completely optional? You think there haven't been forms of birth control and abortion throughout history? Hey, man, even in Ancient Greece there were people throwing babies off of cliffs or exposing them to the elements when they were unwanted or something was wrong with them. Does it also anger Card that women can choose whether or not they want to get pregnant, instead of just having to deal with it whenever it happens like some animal? Is this another right he wants to deny?

And as for financial support from fathers: why not? I mean, is Card also saying that men don't have to take personal responsibility for their own children if the woman won't marry them? Is he really saying that?

The line he draws between wives and property is so blurry that my lens prescription can't make any sense out of it.

18. Marriage, to be worth preserving, needs to mean not just something, but everything. Faithful sexual monogamy, persistence until death, male protection and providence for wife and children, female loyalty to children and husband, and parental discretion in child-rearing. If government is going to meddle in this, it had better be to support marriage in general while providing protection for those caught in truly destructive marriages.

Card has also said in the past that anti-homosexual laws should be enforced "when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society." This is to "discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity's ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships."

In other words, you can be gay, you just have to realize that it's morally repugnant and wrong, wrong, wrong. You, gay man or woman, are an aberration that cannot be permitted and cannot be afford equal protection under the law, because it makes me feel all oogy. Gays aren't people.

What a dick. What a fucking dick.

19. Because when government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary.

Did Orson Scott Card just advocate the violent overthrow of the United States government? Because that's what it sounded like.

Again, this is the same argument the South made about freeing the slaves. "Since you don't support our intolerance, we're taking our ball and going home to form our own country."

20. Society gains no benefit whatsoever (except for a momentary warm feeling about how "fair" and "compassionate" we are) from renaming homosexual liaisons and friendships as marriage.

Again, he can't bring himself to say "love." Where's the love, homophobe?

21. Married people attempting to raise children with the hope that they, in turn, will be reproductively successful, have every reason to oppose the normalization of homosexual unions.

No, they don't, anymore than a Catholic couple has every reason to oppose the normalization of Judaism, Islam, or any of the more recent made-up bullshit like Mormonism and Scientology. Or anymore than a couple who love steak and hamburgers has every reason to oppose the normalization of veganism. One thing is not a threat to the other just because it's different.

22. It's about grandchildren. That's what all life is about. It's not enough just to spawn -- your offspring must grow up in circumstances that will maximize their reproductive opportunities. Why should married people feel the slightest loyalty to a government or society that are conspiring to encourage reproductive and/or marital dysfunction in their children? Why should married people tolerate the interference of such a government or society in their family life?

Boy, life must be a barrel of fun in the Card household. Imagine being reminded constantly by your husband that the entire point of your union is to better society through example and eventually have grandchildren. Yes, that's much more sacred and defensible than getting married because you love somebody.

You know, these assholes, these homophobes who are always saying that tolerance of gays will be the downfall of society... when is this supposed to happen? I mean, Elton John's been popular for over 30 years, and I still don't see the birth rate dropping to dangerously low levels.

23. What these dictator-judges do not seem to understand is that their authority extends only as far as people choose to obey them. How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn. Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.

Did Orson Scott Card just advocate the violent overthrow of the government for a second time? Yes, yes, I think he did. And he also said it was totally justified to overthrow a government because they've attempted to extend tolerance and rights to every member of society instead of just the chosen who have adhered to the marriage goals set forth in their ridiculous, used-to-be-okay-with-men-marrying-dozens-of-twelve-year-old-girls Mormon upbringing.

(And, it should be worth noting, the government has yet to do so: we have a president that has supported a Constitutional amendment to say that, as with African-Americans in the past, homosexuals aren't people with the same rights.)

Because the simple fact, Mr. Card, is that society is for everyone, and not for everyone who agrees with you and the other hate-mongers. You can bend over backward all you want in order to show that homosexuality is a detriment to society, but you can't really prove it. You certainly haven't, and neither has anyone else. Homosexuality is much older than just the previous couple of decades. And no matter what you think, it exists in nature. Watch five minutes of a nature film on bonobos, or walk to school past one male dog fucking another male dog in the ass, and you'll hip to it pretty quick. Homosexuality has always been there, and it always will be. And even if you choose, like a dick, to view it as an aberrant sexual role dysfunction, there's still no getting rid of it, no matter how many ways to suggest stripping people of their rights you can come up with. Society, any society, has yet to come to an end because of it.

Pet Food

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Disney and Pixar Teaser Trailers

The Princess and the Frog


Cannot wait.

From the Lap to the Plate

ME: So, do you think Peru's Guinea Pig Festival is like "King for a Day"? I mean, do you suppose those are the same guinea pigs that get dressed up and then eaten? They get this whole festival in their honor, where they're dressed up lavishly and treated well, then they're fattened up and eaten in the evening?

BECCA: God, I hope not! That's horrible!

ME: Apparently they eat 65 million guinea pigs a year in Peru.

BECCA: But not the pets! You can't eat something you've dressed up! It's just impossible! I'm sorry, but once you put a hat on a pig, it's a pet!

The Great Trucker Hat Debate

ASHTON KUTCHER: I'm soooo responsible for the trucker hat trend.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE: Naw, man, I've been wearing those things since I was 17. Y'alls copying me!

JOHN DEERE: Actually, I think I invented the trucker cap long before either of you abominations were ever whelped.

A BUNCH OF FAT DUDES FROM THE SEVENTIES: Yeah, and we wore them! You just think it's cool to look like Cooter from Dukes of Hazzard because people laugh at you honkies when you say you're "ghetto" and only had "white trash" to work with.


THE BROOKLYN EXCELSIORS 1860 STARTING LINEUP: Technically, the trucker hat is a baseball cap, and we were the first team to wear what ended up becoming the trucker hat. So we're responsible for trucker hats.

STEVEN SPIELBERG: Can I just say that me and my fellow directors were rocking this look in the eighties before it became trendy for dipshit kids with no identity of their own?

GOSSIP BLOGGERS: Ooh, catfight! Was it JT, or was it Ashton? Let's debate about it for days on end!!!!!!

THE ENTIRE REST OF AMERICA: We literally can't imagine anything less interesting to talk about.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Film Week

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

I find I don't really have much to say about this movie. It was alright, but I didn't like it as much as a number of other Coen Brothers movies. I can't really explain it, actually. Good cast (Billy Bob Thornton was especially good, I thought), fairly solid script, great cinematography (of course), and the black and white looks beautiful. But overall... meh, it's okay. **1/2 stars.

What a bizarre movie. A Maysles Brothers documentary about Jackie Kennedy's relatives Edith and Little Edie Bouvier, who are living in a run-down, flea-and-animal-infested mansion that should frankly be condemned. It's just a slice out of their lives, where they sit around and eat and wistfully talk about the past. The thing is, it's oddly compelling, just watching these two women live their lives and stubbornly refuse to do anything but eat, dance, and... well, not much else. It's heartbreaking; their lives are, honestly, sad and pathetic; the whole thing is kind of creepy and disgusting. They don't clean, they don't do anything to better their condition. They just live. But it's fascinating in its grief. **** stars.

BUS STOP (1956)
I found myself cringing more often than enjoying this movie. Based on the play by William Inge, a cowboy comes to the big city for a rodeo and ends up basically badgering, kidnapping, forcing, and shaming Marilyn Monroe to marry him. Don Murray plays the cowboy, and I could not stand this guy. Always theatrically whooping and hollering and yahooing at the top of his voice whenever he was the slightest bit happy. Both Murray and the character are shallow and unappealing, and it takes way too long for the people around him to realize he just needs to get the shit beaten out of him to calm him the fuck down. Marilyn is Marilyn, and I've yet to not like Marilyn in anything, but her Ozark accent is pretty ridiculous. Still, if she hadn't been in this movie, I don't know if I'd have made it to the end. **1/2 stars. Incidentally, this was directed by Joshua Logan, who directed the Inge play Picnic as a movie the year before. I saw Picnic just a couple of weeks ago and loved it; this was a disappointment, given that Logan was caught here between two great pictures, Picnic and Sayonara.

Much funnier than I was expecting, to be honest. I really thought it was going to suck (and I loved the first movie, it cracked me the fuck up). This was almost equally as good. And Neil Patrick Harris is just as hilarious as he was the first go-round; make sure you skip to the end of the credits. *** stars.

THE RUINS (2008)
Not The Descent, but decent. Huh, you see what I did there? Seriously, though, I thought this movie was really good, surprisingly so, very creepy and moody while not being incredibly boring or incredibly stupid. There's not much to say for the acting, but I did think Laura Ramsey was quite good (she had a lot of shit to go through). A nice little scary movie, atmospheric and weird. No more than that, maybe, but certainly no less. ***1/2 stars.

Not offensively bad, but definitely obnoxiously so. * star.

Orson Scott 'Tard

A while back, I posted a link to something Orson Scott Card had written about the J.K. Rowling lawsuit, which I was unequivocally critical of. In the interest of balance, here's a column in the Mormon Times (oy) that is considerably less thoughtful. In fact, it's the inverse distance from reasoned to thoughtful as Card's head is from the inside of his ass. In the column, Card says, in the first paragraph, that the legalization of gay marriage in California and Massachussets is "the end of democracy" and gets sillier and more hateful from there.

Asshole. Just keep the hate-mongering alive. Because that's what made-up religions are all about.

Oh, Oh, MileyCo

Was that a James Taylor reference in my store?

And the MileyCorp news keeps on rolling, and I keep reading it. I will say, a major part of my interest in Miley is my interest in Disney as a company. I keep armchair-quarterbacking their decisions, because I'm so interested in the company itself, and since Hannahmania hit, I've been curious to see how they were going to screw up their deal with her the same way they completely screwed up their deal with Hilary Duff. Part of my interest is that I also just think Hannah Montana is the lone funny show left on Disney Channel (I still miss Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens and Phil of the Future)--you knew I watched Disney Channel already--and I do like a bit of her music. And, yeah, there's the pervy side to it, too, I admit it. Everyone else is. There are a couple of observations I've been storing up, and I thought I'd unload them.

1. Disney has got to stop trying to hold on to Miley so hard, because she's just going to slip away. Recently, with Hannah Montana about to go into a third season (rare on Disney Channel), Miley said in an interview that she didn't realize that Hannah Montana had only been on for two, that it felt like much longer, and that she didn't think the show should go beyond a third season. Disney actually responded that same day and said that the third season wouldn't be the end. I know they desperately want to keep Hannahmania going, but it's probably got a very limited shelf life and the girl wants to go and do other stuff. I think Hannahmania has probably peaked. And I'm just gauging this by having been a substitute teacher in a grade school and having a 13 year-old sister and observing. They love Hannah Montana. They all went to see the concert movie back in February over and over again. There's a movie coming out next year, and they still love the show, but even they seem to be more interested in Miley Cyrus than in Hannah Montana. And with Miley doing her non-Hannah albums and starting to show more interests in film roles outside of Hannah (and outside of Disney), how much longer can they keep this up? If Disney's smart (and most of their decisions over the last 15 years show otherwise), they'll work with her to achieve the crossover so they can at least keep her on Disney records and appearing in occasional Disney projects. She's a moneymaker, and they can't afford to lose her they way they lost Hilary--it hurt both Disney and Hilary.

2. As far as photos like the above go, I'm using it to make some sort of point, because it's not a particularly flattering or attractive picture. Another thing I've learned from experience is that kids live visually. They barely read, but they watch a lot of TV and are online as often as they possibly can be. They all have cell phones with cameras, they all have mp3 players, and they all take pictures of each other in dumb poses. You know who else takes pictures in dumb poses when they're kids? Everyone else. Everyone. We all have stupid pictures of us fucking around as kids, and we look back and go Man, kids are retarded. I can't believe I thought that was funny. And then it brings back nice memories of hanging out or playing with toys (depending on how young you are in the pic). If Miley Cyrus wasn't famous, no one would give a shit about her private photos of her making faces, lifting her shirt, and making kissy-faces at the camera. In fact, there's really not many people who care now. What irritates me about it is that gossip bloggers keep posting them and keep acting like they're posting them because they're somehow news. I think they should just admit that there's two reasons they post these pictures: because gossip bloggers just hate the idea of celebrity so much that they love to tear into celebrities and judge them on some kind of imposed morality, and because they like the naughtiness of posting pervy pictures of a 15 year-old girl. Our culture gets more and more permissive of this every month, and it just keeps building. And it's really easy to be a morally superior hypocrite with the right to lecture everyone else from behind a computer, isn't it?

3. Apparently, because Miley Cyrus is famous, it's okay to talk about her sexually, anyway. Man, I remember when Britney Spears did it, the majority of people at least waited until she was 18. But this week alone I've heard Jesse McCartney (whose desperate attempt to hold on to his teenage years is kind of embarrassing) talk about how he wants to date Miley, and Katy Perry (of "I Kissed a Girl" fame, don't even get me started on how stupid that fucking song is) tried to set up a performance on MTV where she would kiss Miley, Britney-Madonna style. Miley was smart to say no.

4. At the same time, Miley is trying to hard to grow up and show the world she's not just some little Disney kid. She's trying to pull away from all of the other Disney stuff that's so popular with kids right now (High School Musical, the Jonas chumps, the talentless Demi Lovato) and stand out on her own as Miley Cyrus rather than a Disney brand name. And I can understand that. I mean, look what happened to Shia LaBeouf. He started at Disney (a couple years ago I called him the next Kurt Russell and was shouted down; nice to see history proving me right yet again). But posing half-naked for Vanity Fair in an effort to make us comfortable sexualizing teenagers (and I guess that worked for Brooke Shields, so what do I know?) and then turning it into a mini-controversy and then not shutting up about it is just stupid. Saying she wants to be in a movie with nude scenes is just stupid, too. Although the amount of intense speculation over this that I've seen on blogs (and not just gossip blogs, but movie sites) gives you yet more free publicity, so maybe it's genius. I just wish she could publicize herself with tools that don't involve sex and nudity. How'd that work for Britney, then? Is there nothing else a teenage girl has to work with, even with three hit albums, a hit movie, one of the highest-grossing concert tours ever, a popular Disney Channel series, and a face that graces seemingly every product under the sun?

5. What Miley especially needs to shut the fuck up about is her whole chastity promise. Any kid you know that makes a promise to remain chaste until marriage is a fucking liar, or they will be. They will not make it out of their teens. And just so you kids know, head is not first base. Head is sex. Get over your moral bullshit. I mean, I know she's 15 so she's supposed to be all delicate and young, but I don't believe for a second that she's a virgin. And I don't believe the Jonas Brothers are, either. They're getting too much young pussy thrown at them to still be virgins. Everyone needs to shut the fuck up about being chaste. I don't know why we have to put up with them talking about it at all, either way, chaste or not. Britney lied about it too.

6. That said, Miley should take up Lifestyles Condoms offer to be the spokesperson for their product. If we can all grow up here, we know teenagers are fucking. That's just reality. They need to wear condoms to protect themselves. If she really wants to do something for her fans, she should stop pretending she's a virgin and that the right thing to do is wait, and instead just be honest about the fact that teenagers do a lot of things parents like to pretend they don't and just tell the little dopes to wear rubbers. Seriously, what's the debate?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Running Up That Hill

Not a recent picture, but nonetheless
Happy Birthday, Kate Bush!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Health Report, Year 2: Week 33

So, this is probably my first step to becoming a housewife, but I'll just say it: I was inspired to do something by watching daytime TV. I know, I know, but I have to admit it. It's true. I was watching daytime TV last week, and I was inspired to do something.

See, I was unemployed for about 18 months after university. And while I was applying for jobs and getting my confidence knocked around and trying to straighten my health issues, I ended up watching quite a bit of TV (which is nothing new, I've always been one of those people who watches too much TV when he's down). I had a lot of free time, and a lot of time to gain more weight than I ever had in my life. This is, of course, part of the reason I started the Health Report in the first place: to motivate me to lose weight and get my health up.

Needless to say, it hasn't been the most successful thing I've ever done, but it has given me a sort of journal-record of where I've gone wrong, what habits I've broken, and how I've tried to expand myself and make myself a better-rounded person when it comes to my health (I mean mentally and emotionally, not physically--when it comes to my physical person, I'm expanded and rounded enough, thank you). But last year was... last year was just an awful shake for me, complete with suicidal moments and deep depressions and other unpleasantries. This has been turning around this year, and I've been feeling good.

So, anyway, back to Rachael Ray. Which is where I was going. At some point in 2006 or so, I started switching over to Rachael Ray. I think what happened is that there was nothing on and she had on someone I liked (a woman, of course), and I ended up leaving it on Rockford channel 4 and watching Rachael Ray pretty much every weekday. And I kept watching her. I don't know, I used to be ambivalent, then she annoyed the crap out of me, and then she worked some kind of magic on me and now I actually enjoy watching her show. Like I said, I'm becoming a housewife. But I enjoyed watching her cook and she's kind of cute so there you go. I'm an easy-to-please guy, and she's not The View, so I watch Rachael Ray during the summer and on days when I don't work (or only work in the afternoon).

I was watching her show last week, though, and got an idea. She had on some young chefs, I think they were all 17, and one of them said something that really struck with me. She said she was overweight in junior high, and that the way she'd lost weight was by becoming interested in cooking and in eating healthy and making cooking for herself one of her drives in life. And that made sense to me, too. I want to lose weight, and I've not been doing an excellent job of it, so why not do what this teenager did and just get interested in cooking? Make it a hobby, or even a necessity. Stop titting about and just do it.

See, ever since I was in high school, probably since I took home ec in junior high school, I've wanted to cook much more often than I do. And I can cook some things very well, but in the way most guys cook--hamburgers (which I make so moist you don't need condiments at all, thank you) and breakfast foods. But I'm always looking at food in the store and thinking that I want to be one of those people who gets involved in food and cooks meals and spends time making it work. Instead of the most common way I cook for myself: with a phone and a debit card. And I just looked at that teenage girl and thought, Well, are you going to fuck around with this forever, or are you going to just shut up and do it, already?

I'll take the second option.

Basically, I've set myself up a challenge: I'm going to get one of Rachael Ray's books (because I've seen her cook almost every day and her recipes don't look too incredibly complicated for a novice such as myself) and cook everything in it. Over time, of course, but everything in it. I'm going to make more meals than I order or heat up. I'm going to learn about food and what tastes good outside of my realm of experience and keep my damn kitchen clean because I'm using it more often than I do now.

(Actually, I was going to get a Rachael Ray cookbook, but I was telling my mom about this on the phone the other day, and she just out of nowhere ordered me one from Amazon while we were talking, told me after the fact and said it was a late birthday present. So now I have Rachael's 30-Minute Get Real Meals to work on. So thanks, Mom, the book came today.)

Becca and I started off already. She probably suspected this was another thing I say I'm going to do and then never get around to, so she told me to find one of her recipes online and we'd make it on Sunday. I picked out a burger recipe because, well, burgers aren't too far from my circle of familiarity (this is part of my problem when it comes to picking out healthy food to eat--I've eaten the same basic, junk-laden menu for my entire life, and I don't really know what else to choose from, so this is also an exploration of foods for me). Becca and I cooked together, which we haven't done in a really, really long time, and it was a lot of fun. The burgers (no buns) were mixed with grated garlic and parsley, there was a provelone dipping sauce that we made from scratch, and it also called for an arugula salad (with roasted tomatoes and shallots). I'd never actually had arugula before in my life. Or shallots. Or mixed anything in with hamburger meat. Or made a sauce (with flour, milk, and cheese). So the whole thing was pretty new for me. And it tasted fucking great, too. It was so good that we used the leftover food to make it again last night.

I like cooking for myself. I always have. What I need is the drive to do it much more often than I do now, and with much more varied dishes. This, combined with taking walks and exercising in the morning, is really helping me feel good.

So, wow. Daytime TV actually had a positive effect on me.

Happy 50th Anniversary, NASA

Thank you for daring to look up. I hope things get turned around for NASA in the future (and I think they will, what with private enterprise making real strides and NASA smartly invested in it). I hope things get turned around for all of us.

This Post May Be Illegal in Chicago

It is now illegal in Chicago to walk and text at the same time. You get fined for it now. For walking and texting at the same goddamn time.

It is illegal in Chicago (or was) to serve foie gras.

It is illegal to smoke in a public building or a restaurant in Chicago.

It is illegal to drive and talk on a cell phone at the same time in Chicago.

It is illegal to drive a car without wearing a seatbelt in Chicago.

It is illegal not to spay or neuter your pets in Chicago (sorry, dog breeders).

Is there a reason that we've stopped letting the natural course of events weed out the stupid and decided we can successfully legislate common sense? I mean, it's so easy to cry out words like fascism in these situations, but where does it all start and, more importantly, where does it all end? Are we going to see laws now against the wearing of hats in public? It's on the same level of lame and useless. People are still going to smoke, they're still going to drive without seatbelts, they're still going to talk on their cell phones. So fucking what?

These kinds of laws are completely useless, but they allow some state senators to feel like they've really done something to help people live their lives a little better. I mean, why try to lessen things like crime or help education when you can tell people they have to wear seatbelts? It's all so easy, isn't it? See, Chicagoans, the problem isn't all of those shootings we have every other day or so, it isn't the failing public schools... it's that some barbarians out there are serving foie gras to people! Villainy! We've stopped it! Hooray! Parade!

Give me a fucking break.

Still, at least I get to know this kind of utter stupidity and attempt to control peoples' lives isn't centralized here in the Midwest. In California, they're banning the opening of new fast food places to encourage new healthy eateries. How do you even make that distinction? I mean, Subway's a fast food place, but those Jared ads have everyone fooled into thinking that their food is pure health and weight loss between two carbs-a-poppin' pieces of bread. Will Subway be allowed to continue to spread their shitty, rotten, bland food all over the state, or must they also be stopped because they're a fast food place? This ban seems incredibly arbitrary to me.

And don't hit me with the shit someone always brings up. "But this is to help people! Are you against helping people?! What's wrong with you?! Don't you know how many people die in car accidents every year? Don't you know about the dangers of secondhand smoke? Don't you know that obesity is a national epidemic? If you don't engage in any of the above behaviors, what do you have to fear? What kind of liberal, hippie monster are you?!?!?!?!"

I don't know, the kind that thinks it's incredibly futile to try and regulate peoples' behavior and make their decisions for them. Lawmakers need to get over this. We get it; you have to do something to justify your job. I know, because I've worked with all sorts of managers who make stupid, arbitrary, self-serving decisions that fuck up everything because they need to prove to their bosses that they're doing something. It seems to be the main point of the Bush presidency.

But, maybe, every so often, you could do something useful instead.

Because Anticipation Is the Best Part These Days


The trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is supposed to go online tonight.

103 Years

Clara Bow

Thelma Todd

Two great stars of the screen, both born today in 1905.

This Is All True

Sorry, that was a lie.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Miss Universe Is a Little TOO Happy to See You

The Electronic Cerebrectomy Film Festival

There's a meme going around now where you get to pick 12 movies to program into 6 nights at a theoretical film festival. And JA tagged me on his, which had some great selections (including a number of movies I still need to see, dammit!). So, here are my own choices, out of nowhere, that I would choose to program. Are these 12 movies I think everyone needs to see? No, not really. But they're 12 movies I think are interesting, and I don't meet very many people who actually saw them, so here they are.

Oh, the rules (from meme-originator Piper):

1) Choose 12 Films to be featured. They could be random selections or part of a greater theme. Whatever you want.

2) Explain why you chose the films.

3) Link back to
Lazy Eye Theatre so I can have hundreds of links and I can take those links and spread them all out on the bed and then roll around in them.

4) The people selected then have to turn around and select 5 more people.

Here are my choices, then.

Knightriders (1981, George A. Romero)
Chicago Cab (aka Hellcab, 1998, Mary Cybulski & John Tintori)

Two films about having no place in the modern world. Knightriders is about a man so obsessed with ideals of nobility and honor that they consume him, while Hellcab is amout a man who wants to be outside and finds himself unable to act whenever he's drawn in. (Incidentally, Hellcab, which is a somewhat episodic drama based on a play about a Chicago cab driver, has one of the worst movie posters I've ever seen. Why does it look like a horror movie?)

Histoires extraordinaires (aka Tales of Mystery and Imagination or Spirits of the Dead, 1968, Frederico Fellini, Louis Malle, Roger Vadim)
Scarlet Diva (2000, Asia Argento)

My psychosexual horror movie night. I wanted to get an Argento movie in there, it just ended up being an Asia Argento-directed movie (and I do think it's a horror movie, and one of the best I've ever seen.)

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926, Lotte Reiniger)
The Adventures of Mark Twain (1986, Will Vinton)

I was going to have to have a night of animation in there somewhere. These are two that I think need to be seen and need to be more famous. Prince Achmed is an amazing silhouette-animated film, and Mark Twain is a surprisingly dark and moving film in clay animation.

Valentino (1977, Ken Russell)
Electra Glide in Blue (1973, James William Guercio)

Misunderstood, or justly derided? Well, you tell me. I think they're both interesting films, but what do I know? Electra Glide in Blue has one of the best last shots I've ever seen.

Willard (2003, Glen Morgan)
Even Dwarfs Started Small (1969, Werner Herzog)

More creepy movies about outsiders who basically succumb to madness in order to gain control of their lives. That does leave the night on a bleak note, especially with the fade out on Dwarfs, but why not a little bleakness every once in a while?

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973, Sam Peckinpah)
The Straight Story (1999, David Lynch)

And ending on a familiar note; it's pretty obvious to anyone that movies about men who have lived past their time is a theme that resonates with me. I guess that's that.

Now, to tag five other people who haven't been tagged yet.

Allen L.

Sudden Car Commercial Aside

Why do so many local car dealers insist on putting their family members in their commercials? Their aging mothers, their children and grandchildren, with those family members telling you to by a car from their trustworthy and honest patriarch. What exactly is the response this is mean to engender? How am I supposed to feel here? What's the response you're looking for? Am I supposed to drop everything and rush out to look at some used cars because your mommy thinks you're an angel? Gee, never seen a mom with that attitude before. Are you trying to make me feel guilty because you've got a grandkid to feed? Or am I just supposed to think it's a cute, family-oriented place to get ripped off?

Please, explain to me how those kinds of ads are actually supposed to work.

Red Sonja

I haven't exactly been excited by any of the news coming out of ComicCon over the week--there's probably a long post about the current state of genre stuff coming up soon--but the one thing that did kind of interest me was the news coming from the Red Sonja panel.

Now, I've been pretty down on this whole relationship between Rose McGowan and Robert Rodriguez, mainly because Robert Rodriguez is one of my favorite directors and it just looks for all intents and purposes like he's completely willing to get all Peter Bogdanovich and run his career into the ground making vehicles for his Cybill Shepard. And I'm also not excited by the prospect of a new version of Red Sonja because I don't have much respect for the character and the old Brigitte Nielsen movie really, really, really sucks. Even for a De Laurentiis movie, it sucks.

But I don't know, after seeing the teaser posters and reading a transcript of the interview, damned if I'm not starting to look forward to the idea. I mean, if it doesn't get made it, I'm not going to lose sleep over it, but still, if it came out next year, I'd totally go. There are a few factors here:

1. Back when I was still buying monthly comics, someone or other (Dynamite Entertainment?) did a newer, more serious version of Red Sonja that was very (one might say directly) influenced by Dark Horse's excellent Conan comic book, and I was enjoying the hell out of it. That was a better Red Sonja than I'd ever seen (even, I have to say, better than most of what was done in The Savage Sword of Conan).

2. Robert Rodriguez is co-directing and producing the film, and I'm still a huge, huge fan of his. He may have made movies that didn't completely satisfy me, but he's never made a movie that really disappointed me (except for The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, which I recognize is for children, but still... I see lots of movies for children that aren't, you know, dumb). So I'm willing to give nearly anything he does a chance.

3. This seems to be in lieu of the much-touted Barbarella remake with McGowan, which the two are no longer involved with. Good; I'm not interested in seeing a Barbarella remake, not with anyone in it, not directed by anyone, but especially not directed by a guy who I think would be wasting his time on it.

4. I have to admit that Rose McGowan isn't exactly my first choice for Red Sonja, but I did love her in Planet Terror and I always liked her on Charmed and in most of what I've seen her in. Frankly, Robert Rodriguez is one of the few modern directors who's earned my trust with actors I don't like (Peter Jackson and Kevin Smith are also directors I trust). So I don't have any reservations about her being cast because I trust his judgment. And in the interview transcript I read, McGowan seemed quick-witted and personable, which I like.

5. With Rodriguez involved, it's my fervent hope that Danny Trejo will appear in the movie somewhere.

It does seem like they're serious about making this movie. Rodriguez is also still planning on making Machete, and is apparently going to produce a Conan movie. I've got more questions about Conan that I wish someone could answer, because I've been hearing for years that they're going to make a Conan movie, and all anyone could ever do was dick around about whether or not it would be Conan 3 or whether anyone could just man up and make their own movie. But I keep hearing now that there's a script and Djimon Hounsou is supposed to be in the movie... so, is this thing on or not?

The other stuff I'd love to know from Rodriguez is this: where is Red Rocket 7. Is he going to make Red Rocket 7 or what? And where is Sin City 2? Is that just off now? I know they were waiting for Angelina Jolie to play Ava Lord, but there are other women who could've done it just fine (Rose McGowan, even) and now Frank Miller is doing other movies. Is the time just passed now?

Well, either way, I'm not one of those movie fans to whine too much about what doesn't get made. I'm looking forward to Red Sonja now, and given the look of the posters, I'm kind of hoping that it's done like 300 or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow in that computer-environment style that pisses people off so hilariously. (Current Fanboyometer: slow motion, fakey scenes from The Spirit=bad; slow motion, fakey scenes from Watchmen=good.) I'd be cool with that.

I just want to see another Robert Rodriguez movie.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Song of the Week: "Hello Goodbye"

This song doesn't make me want to shop at Target, but it's always made me smile. I came across the film clip recently and really liked it, so here it is. I like the Beatles' individual, playful senses of humor, which I really do think (and George Harrison said it once) was an influence on Monty Python. How about that George Harrison? I have to say, he looks really hot in that pirate hat. Faux-military band costumes, John Lennon looking amused, bouncy meter, lyrics that don't remotely matter, a smattering of nonsense, and gratuitous use of hula girls. That's a winner in my book. What's not to like?

The Ultimates 2

I finally managed to sit down with both volumes of Mark Millar's The Ultimates 2 (read: they were finally both in at the library at the same time). Back in the late nineties when I was still buying comics every week and the Marvel Ultimate line began, I was surprisingly excited by the whole idea. The conceit, of course, was that this line of comics, separate from the decades old Marvel Universe, was starting the characters over again. It was another one of those desperate moves comic book companies make in the hopes of bringing modern relevancy (and more readers) to their characters.

The fact that so many comic series are so old (over 40 years for most of the characters being reimagined here) has really put a damper on my appreciation of comic books over the years. They're not really telling stories so much anymore, they're just trying to keep their media properties alive by running more and more continuity details, and the characters get bogged down by the weight of keeping everything straight so that everything seems clear. (See my constant bitching about everything DC Comics has done to make me no longer buy DC Comics.) I had hoped the Marvel Ultimate line would be a chance for people to tell new stories without all of the fannish expectations placed on them in their own titles. I was hoping someone would have the artistic guts to do whatever they wanted with the new line and make something interesting and new.

Turned out that was too much to hope for. And with comic book properties it often is.

For example, Brian Michael Bendis's Ultimate Spider-Man was interesting at first, even fun, but he couldn't keep himself from throwing in every single ancillary character from 40-odd years of Spider-Man, plus practically every single character from the rest of the Marvel Universe, into the pages of the new title. Bendis's problem, really, is that he too often writes just to show fans how clever he can be, so he spent a lot of time teasing readers with the possibility of familiar storylines, then getting bogged down in his pet characters: the Kingpin, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Shang-Chi, and everyone else vaguely seventies-ish and Mafia-related that he can throw in. Sure, Spidey's a great character, but I don't know that his dealings with the mob or the legal system or the Punisher or freaking Moon Knight is all that interesting. He stopped writing a book about a character and started writing one of those fanboy wet dreams that's all based on establishing or explaining continuity.

Mark Millar's Ultimate X-Men was far worse. Again, too many characters milling around right away, and none of them even likeable. Not a single one. I don't know at what exact point it happened, but somewhere around 1998 or 1999, fans started to take their entertainment far, far too seriously. They got so precious and priggish about everything being cool and dark with no room for humor or frivolity or fun, and Ultimate X-Men reflected that far too well. All of the characters were self-obsessed brats. And I'm sorry, but having Wolverine throw Cyclops off a cliff in an attempt to kill him so that he can steal Jean Gray is a dumbass character move. It's just so that Millar could prove he was being badass and not softening Wolverine (we liked some of the softness, it made him human and noble), but it also made Wolverine impossible to like or sympathize with. It was a stupid thing to do, and Millar's entire run on Ultimate X-Men (which I read in graphic novel form for far too long) was equally pitiful, if not worse. Immediately, right off, continuity-obsessed.

Unfortunately, Millar was given The Ultimates, Marvel Ultimate's version of The Avengers.

Well, guess what? None of the characters is likeable. With the possible exception of Tony Stark/Iron Man (whom Millar seems to go out of his way not to characterize) and Bruce Banner, who is more pitiable than interesting, there's not really a lot in the way of a sympathetic lead. Actually, I do like Thor, who may (we're kept in suspense for a while) be a Norse god or an environmental activist who just thinks he is. But there's too much time spent on whether Thor is who he says he is, and they treat him like another pathetic stooge who overreached. (Millar treats a number of the characters this way, including Banner and Hank Pym.)

By far the worst character is Captain America. I guess it's interesting that Cap, frozen in ice in 1945 and woken up, still young, in 2000 or so is so out of his time and so at odds with today's permissiveness. But he's also a humorless hardass and impossible to like or sympathize with. He's into moral absolutes--something is either right or its wrong--and is therefore quick to believe the worst in everyone. His inflexibility could be an interesting story point, but we're not allowed into the reason he's so inflexible at all. There's no character motivation; it's as if Millar just assumes that's the only way a guy from the forties could act and leaves it at that.

And really, as I keep saying in different ways, that's the problem with The Ultimates: we're not let in on who these people are, only on why they're cool and how tough they are. There's no dramatic tension because there's no drama because there are no characters. If it's the ultimate anything, it's the ultimate example of everything that people stereotypically think a comic really is: devoid of any story value, simply supermen in costumes running around and beating each other up thoughtlessly and endlessly, for no real reason except that, for reasons I don't understand, people will buy it.