Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Thought You Were a Vegan

Doesn't this violate the code, or something?

Saturday Playlist

1. Duran Duran: A View to a Kill
2. Freddie Mercury: Made in Heaven
3. Devo: Working in the Coalmine
4. OK Go: Here It Goes Again
5. Patti Smith: Glitter in Their Eyes
6. The Korgis: Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes
7. Michael Andrews: Clem’s Theme
8. Madness: Overdone
9. Lynn Anderson: If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away)
10. Grateful Dead: Touch of Grey

1. Starting off with one of the best Bond themes ever (and sadly in one of the worst Bond movies ever).
2. Another mournful, beautiful track from Freddie Mercury.
3. I always enjoy this, but I think as far as Devo's "devolved" covers go, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is miles ahead.
4. Not a bad single.
5. Always love me some Patti Smith.
6. Nice melancholy tune from the eighties. I prefer the Beck cover they used in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to this one.
7. Sublime track from the Freaks and Geeks score.
8. One of my favorite bands ever.
9. Me? Probably you'll just encourage me.
10. This was my first exposure to the Grateful Dead. I've never been into them overmuch, but I've always loved this music video, with the skeleton puppets on stage. I think I was 10 or 11 when that video hit MTV. Good times.

Bea Arthur 1922-2009

I'm incredibly depressed to see that Bea Arthur has died. I adored her every time I saw her, and she was never not funny. I'm going to miss her.

Friday, April 24, 2009

These Eyes

About a week and a half ago, I was tagged by Splotchy on a very simple meme:

1. Post a picture of your eyes.
2. Tag a few people.

So simple it took me forever to finally do it. And I chose two different pictures, just to be difficult. So there.


Terrifying!

I tag:

Becca
Darius Whiteplume
PJ
TheMom
Johnny Yen
The Dude
JD
Kat Dennings (Ha-HA! I'm droll!)

The Throwdown Is Going Away

Probably for good this time. I don't really enjoy writing it very much anymore. It takes hours to write sometimes and just takes over an entire Friday, and I'm pretty over that. Plus, it's not something I sense a lot of people dig, and what few comments I ever get on them anymore are mainly directed at blaming me for how depressing the news in general is. It's become an annoyance in my life, so it's gone for good.

In its stead, I've started this new feature called Cynical Six, which is basically a short version of the Throwdown. I'll do these a couple of times a week or so, just to get out things that irritate or amuse me or upset me in the news, but at my own pace. Saving it all up for one day of the week, during which time some stories become irrelevant or too annoying to deal with or no longer interesting, is just taking up too much of my time for something that I don't really have an investment in other than, well, time and my own enjoyment.

I remember when I started this blog, in January 2005, and I only posted once a day. Now it's several times a day. And a lot of those posts are pretty short. I guess that's the mode I'm working in now, or something, and doing the Throwdown just seems like too much effort. Especially when people either seem to just skim it (I can't count the number of times someone has corrected me in the comments, or reminded me of something else, because they're too busy reading the first and last sentence of every item to notice that it's something I've already said) or only read my blog for the once a week hate-fest. I didn't start doing this to get attention or build some kind of fan base or anything. I started the blog for the same reason most people start blogs: boredom.

So, anyway, sorry if you dug the Throwdown, but it's no longer a feature here. Hope you enjoy what is essentially a smaller, more manageable, more sporadic version of it.

Ironic Words, Mr. President

Here are some pull quotes from President Obama's speech for the Holocaust Remembrance ceremony yesterday. Bold/italic=emphasis mine.

* It is the grimmest of ironies that one of the most savage, barbaric acts of evil in history began in one of the most modernized societies of its time, where so many markers of human progress became tools of human depravity: science that can heal used to kill; education that can enlighten used to rationalize away basic moral impulses; the bureaucracy that sustains modern life used as the machinery of mass death -- a ruthless, chillingly efficient system where many were responsible for the killing, but few got actual blood on their hands.

* While the uniqueness of the Holocaust in scope and in method is truly astounding, the Holocaust was driven by many of the same forces that have fueled atrocities throughout history: the scapegoating that leads to hatred and blinds us to our common humanity; the justifications that replace conscience and allow cruelty to spread; the willingness of those who are neither perpetrators nor victims to accept the assigned role of bystander, believing the lie that good people are ever powerless or alone, the fiction that we do not have a choice.

* They remind us that no one is born a savior or a murderer -- these are choices we each have the power to make. They teach us that no one can make us into bystanders without our consent, and that we are never truly alone.

* How do we ensure that "never again" isn't an empty slogan, or merely an aspiration, but also a call to action? I believe we start by doing what we are doing today -- by bearing witness, by fighting the silence that is evil's greatest co-conspirator.

* The story goes that when the Americans marched in, they discovered the starving survivors and the piles of dead bodies. And General Eisenhower made a decision. He ordered Germans from the nearby town to tour the camp, so they could see what had been done in their name. And he ordered American troops to tour the camp, so they could see the evil they were fighting against. Then he invited congressmen and journalists to bear witness. And he ordered that photographs and films be made. Some of us have seen those same images, whether in the Holocaust Museum or when I visited Yad Vashem, and they never leave you. Eisenhower said that he wanted "to be in a position to give firsthand evidence of these things, if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda."

* But we must also remember that bearing witness is not the end of our obligation -- it's just the beginning. . . . Today, and every day, we have an opportunity, as well as an obligation, to confront these scourges. . . . [W]e have the opportunity to make a habit of empathy; to recognize ourselves in each other; to commit ourselves to resisting injustice and intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take -- whether confronting those who tell lies about history, or doing everything we can to prevent and end atrocities like those that took place in Rwanda, those taking place in Darfur. That is my commitment as President. I hope that is yours, as well.

* So today, during this season when we celebrate liberation, resurrection, and the possibility of redemption, may each of us renew our resolve to do what must be done. And may we strive each day, both individually and as a nation, to be among the righteous.

Ironic, since Obama's real commitment as President seems to be to ignore what happened and move on, rather than bearing witness and fighting the silence. And I'm hearing precious little from the same bloggers who were demanding Bush and Cheney be held accountable on the charge of Obama deciding they don't have to be.

Bullies

Bullying is one of the things in life I just cannot abide. I know all too well what it's like to be bullied, so it was with a lot of sympathy that I read this story on CNN called "My bullied son's last day on Earth." You should read it. It's about a boy who was being bullied in school and, despite all appearances to his mother of being a happy and well-adjusted child, was worn down by kids at school calling him names--one of which, unsurprisingly, was "gay"--and hanged himself by his belt. The kid was 11 years old.

That's fifth grade. And that's usually when the bullying starts to get really severe. It was for me, and it is for a lot of kids. I see it all the time at schools, and no one ever really does anything about it.

I know the thing to do generally is to say that kids need to toughen up and have a thicker skin. And yes, kids do need to learn that some things people say don't really matter. But I think it's almost impossible to do in schools. Schools are so preoccupied with telling all kids how much they matter and how much their feelings matter and how equal everyone is that the message becomes confusing and, I think, inadvertently gives weight to a lot of the criticism that comes from bullies. If everything is valid, then surely being called names constantly has some sort of validity, too. It's not until you're older that you really come to realize that things bullies said come from somewhere else--from fear or anger or other problems or testing the limits of what they can get away with or, frankly, just being assholes--but by then it doesn't matter, because the bullying has already had its effect.

I was bullied. Terribly. I felt like I didn't have a friend in the world for years, and mostly just because I was the fat kid or the kid who still watched cartoons or the kid who read comic books. And the kind of fat I was in school... believe me, I'd love to still be a "monstrous" 190 pounds or 210 at 5'11". To this day, I still don't expect people to like me--or, more accurately, I still don't expect people to not dislike me. I couldn't open myself up for a long, long time. I didn't become this open and honest until I decided that, ultimately, I didn't feel it was worth it to prove my worth or my coolness or anything to anyone. That's all because I was bullied so badly in school.

And it was bad. I was a popular kid when I was in the early grades, because I was good at soccer and really nice and polite and made up great games on the playground and was imaginative and could draw better than anyone else. And then I gained some weight after a steroid shot (I kept getting ear infections), and suddenly everyone didn't want to be friend anymore. I went from liking school and being a generally happy kid to being depressed and friendless and trying to avoid even having to go to school. And I think I'm a pretty smart guy--when I apply myself I always get high grades--but my high school grades were awful because I just wasn't focused. I was more worried about staying out of everyone's way. And that became a weakness that was just exploited further.

I'm really saddened that Jaheem Herrera, an 11 year-old fifth-grader, felt that the only way to stop the teasing was to take his own life. That's a concept an 11 year-old should find completely foreign. But they don't. I know, because I almost killed myself when I was 11. And when I was 13. And when I was 16. And lots of other times. And, hell, when I was 31. And I'm not talking the "wishing you were dead" routine. I'm talking about sitting there with a knife and trying to come up with a reason why your life helps anyone you know. I'm talking about filling your toilet with toxic cleaners and trying to will yourself to put your head in and breathe deeply. I'm talking about sitting on train tracks and trying to think of the things you'll miss.

Jaheem's poor mother is confused and destroyed, and doesn't know why he stopped coming to her for help. But I know why. I've been there, too. It's because too many adults tell you to be thicker skinned and not take it so seriously. And it's a conflicting message that always runs up against "Everyone is special" or "All ideas have merit." It happens because schools stopped teaching facts and critical thinking and started teaching feeling good about yourself.

And I'm not presuming to imagine what Jaheem's mother said to him about the bullying; I'm just saying that after a while it seems like no adult can help you, no matter how concerned they are. Schools say they have programs to stop people from bullying, but there's really nothing they can do about it. Kids don't have the experience to imagine that what you say to a person can sometimes stay with them for the rest of their lives. Adults are always so surprised that bullying even happens, but it does, everywhere. And it often leads to some kind of violence, either against oneself or against others. What do you think Columbine was? If you write off school shootings as just the acts of people with loose screws who are somehow desensitized to violence, you're so wrong it isn't even funny. The spark for something like that is always some kind of trauma that leads to fear and resentment, and, tragically, an inability to see human beings as people--most often because they're not allowing you the dignity of relating to you as a person with thoughts and feelings, but as an object of ridicule. Some people lash out. Others cope. And many get backed into a corner and see taking themselves out of the equation as the only way to make it stop.

Jaheem didn't hurt anyone but himself. But that makes what happened no less tragic.

My heart goes out to the boy's family. An innocent life claimed just because a bunch of kids couldn't imagine not being cruel.

Considering a New Line of Work

I could so do this for a living, come on.

Ken Annakin 1914-2009

This is an unfortunate week for long-serving British professionals in film. Now Ken Annakin, also 94 years old, has followed Jack Cardiff and passed away. It's fitting that the two of them worked together on at least one film off the top of my head (The Fifth Musketeer).

Annakin was one of the figures responsible for making Disney a market force in live action family filmmaking, and directed three of my favorite Disney movies: The Story of Robin Hood, The Sword and the Rose, and The Swiss Family Robinson. Thank you for those, sir.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cynical Six

1. I can't wait to see what President Obama's speech at the 2009 National Holocaust Remembrance Commemoration is going to consist of. This year's theme is "Never Again: What You Do Matters." Ironic considering that Obama's response to evidence of America's illegal torture agenda is "Let's get over it already." So, to recap, someone in power commits a crime, and does so knowingly, and the President's response is to do nothing? My disappointment in Obama deepens every day.

I basically agree with all of this (via Bleeding Tree):



The insanity of not wanting to prosecute someone for creating a system to harm other human beings actually hurts my brain. No wonder no one takes laws seriously in this country anymore; even our presidents ignore them.

2. Porter Goss has said that he and Nancy Pelosi were part of a group of Congresspersons who were briefed on America's secret torture policies: "Not only was there no objection, there was actually concern about whether the agency was doing enough." Sort of makes Nancy Pelosi's calls for a Truth Commission ring hollow. Maybe she feels guilty. It's all liars and hypocrites, only the team name changes.

3. I was very surprised, and pleasantly so, to see Fox News' Shep Smith getting so upset about America's torture (a word that Obama won't even say now). (Video via Andrew Sullivan.)



I'm glad he's pissed off. Everyone should be this pissed off. Obama and Rahm Emmanuel should be this pissed off, but they're not. That we are actually having a discussion about what degrees of torture are acceptable or whether or not the torture worked--rather than asserting that torture is wrong and that 24 is not a documentary--is beyond the pale. I am so fucking disappointed in this country and in our leaders.

4. By the way, you should read today's Greenwald. Apparently Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, says that Obama's decision to immunize CIA torturers is a violation of international law. I also agree with Greenwald's implication that it's hypocritical of Obama to have argued in his campaign that Bush's ignoring international conventions and legal obligations was wrong, only to do more of the same himself. It's becoming clear, I think, that torture was used to justify a war of choice that would lead to more torture. Another chapter in the dark and brutal history of stupid, stupid American imperialism.

5. By the way, why have I not seen any of the more political blogs talking about the fact that the CFO of Freddie Mac killed himself yesterday? I think that says a lot about how fucked we really are. I think we're way more fucked than anyone's telling us.

6. The only thing dumber than Obama's unwillingness to uphold the law and the reputation of America as a country that believes in the law is the politicization of this whole thing. The right is just spinning into a sort of abject stupidity you almost didn't think human beings were capable of. Calm down, idiots. This is not an attack on you. This is a demand that lawbreakers be prosecuted, regardless of party. Oh, and Miss California is not being persecuted because of her ignorance, she's being ridiculed. It's a free country, and people who believe that that freedom extends to everyone do have the right to think she's a bigoted idiot. Especially since she demonstrated it so well. I know you guys have been wallowing in your racist, prejudiced, criminal, backwards mudpool for the last decade or so, but that's over. Join the 21st century or get out of the fucking way.

Tura

There's a nice, succinct interview with Tura Satana up at Gasoline Magazine. In it, she talks about having dated Elvis Presley and Joe DiMaggio. For some reason, I'm always interested in hearing women talk about dating Elvis. Humanizes him, I guess.

Jack Cardiff 1914-2009

Jack Cardiff was an accomplished cinematographer who photographed one of my favorite movies (and one of the most beautiful to look at movies ever), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Red Shoes. He's just passed away at the age of 94, and I felt I should mention it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wolverine Leaked Online

Oops, My Mistake

Film Week

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

LADY OF THE NIGHT (1925)
Norma Shearer plays both of the leads in this film; I'm not sure why, since the plot doesn't really require it, but it is interesting to see Shearer playing two roles. She plays Florence, a good girl and judge's daughter, and Molly, a bad girl and the orphaned daughter of a thief. Molly is much, much more interesting than Florence--she's close to the underbelly, surviving by her wits and toughness, but filled with a sort of basic decency. I wish Shearer had played more like Molly in her career. Anyway, Molly falls for a young inventor who wants to market a safe-cracking device (okay...), and Molly steers him to a group of investors--including Judge Banning, Florence's father. The inventor immediately falls for Florence, and what follows is one of those tragic, oh so tragic love stories that is enlivened by Shearer's dual roles and the pathos they brim with: Florence thinks Molly has a better claim because Molly was there first, but Molly believes she isn't good enough. If you're a fan of Shearer, I recommend it. (Also, apparently there's a longer version with a two-strip Technicolor sequence going around; the version I saw on TCM didn't have this and only ran an hour.) *** stars.

THE DIVORCEE (1930)
Norma Shearer again, this time in her Oscar-winning role as a woman whose marriage is torn apart by infidelity. This is yet another movie of the time concerned with upper class carousing and partying, but I enjoyed more than I usually enjoy these movies. Probably because Norma Shearer is so good and sympathetic as Jerry, a socialite who decides to marry Ted, only to disappoint Paul, who gets drunk and wrecks his car, disfiguring a friend, Dorothy, whom he marries out of sympathy. As the years go by, Jerry and Ted's marriage becomes more and more unhappy; both of them cheat, he becomes an alcoholic, and she becomes a party fixture. Things don't end depressingly, but it can be quite a depressing movie at times. It's also a bit of an indictment of the New York in crowd scene, arguing that their lifestyles are ultimately destructive. The film has dated a bit stylistically, mostly because of the time it was made--talkies were still new, and there were technical limitations. The acting style is pretty stagey, too. But it doesn't really detract. **** stars.

HER FIRST ROMANCE (1951)
I saw this movie because I like Margaret O'Brien. I don't think she fares very well here, though. What came across as precocious and charming when she was little comes across as stilted and occasionally irritating as a teenager. O'Brien plays a WASPy suburban girl who falls for a new boy in school and follows him to summer camp to get him to like her. She's vying with another girl (pretty Elinor Donahue) for his affections, which leads her to do all manner of stupid, stupid things, including breaking into her father's factory and stealing money. At every turn, she's willing to lie and put herself (and her little brother) at extreme risk in order to get this boy's attention. The thing is, the boy isn't even worth it! Poor Margaret O'Brien; she was so good in the forties. Here, she follows the boy and chases him down like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. ** stars. Apparently, this is very, very loosely based on a Herman Wouk novel called The City Boy. Hollywood can turn anything into pap.

HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE (2009)
Disney really had a chance to do something with this, and they're only partially successful. Spoilers, if anyone really cares. I was pleasantly surprised by how much money went into this movie. I expected something more like The Lizzie McGuire Movie, which looked pretty on-the-cheap and tried to hard to be exactly like the TV series it was based on. For the most part, Hannah Montana is a real movie. Disney got a real director, a real cinematographer, and a real production design team, and the movie looks much, much better than you'd expect. And, unlike too many movies that are extensions of TV shows, Miley doesn't find herself involved in some kind of caper or something. (Remember the Family Ties movie where the Keatons went to England and found themselves wrapped up in a spy plot? Ugh. Even Charles McKeown couldn't save that one.) What happens is, Robby Ray decides that Miley is becoming too wrapped up in Hannah Montana and edging further and further away from her dream--to be a pop star but to also enjoy a normal life--so he forces her to take a two week vacation in small town Tennessee at her grandmother's house. And there, of course, Miley reconnects with who she really is, falls in love, learns some life lessons--the usual. But it's decidedly more charming than I've seen in a lot of these movies. The film starts out like the TV show, with a lot of wackiness and over-the-top pratfalls and that kind of garbage, but with the supporting cast out of the way (Mitchel Musso and Moises Arias basically have cameos, and I didn't miss them at all through the movie), the film slows down and becomes less of a cartoon. The film is so determined to be more realistic and more believable than the TV show that they even recast Miley's extended family--instead of going to visit the Stewart side of the family, which we know from the show (and which includes Vicki Lawrence, Dolly Parton, and David Koechner), Miley visits her mother's side of the family, which feels less like a movie family and more recognizable. At least for me. My family's from Iowa, not Tennessee, but they're not that far removed, really (some of the nicest strangers I've ever met were in Tennessee), and Miley's grandmother reminded me of my own late grandmother. I'll admit, there's a tenuous connection I felt to the movie based purely on memories of my grandma and my late sister, who would have been 17 just last month if she'd survived cancer. So this movie sucked me in pretty easily, and not in an artificial way. In fact, I was enjoying the movie so much that I didn't even mind the silly subplot--the people of this small Tennessee town are trying to raise tax money to save the town because a developer (Barry Bostwick) wants to build a mall. Why this was seen as so evil I'm not sure, and the movie wisely doesn't delve too deeply there. Unfortunately, saving the town means getting Hannah Montana to perform, so into the plot comes best friend Lilly (and Emily Osment is always good on the show, but doesn't have enough to do here) and a publicist played by Vanessa Williams (who really needs to do more comedy). And then the TV show wackiness just started seeping back in, and not in a really successful way--in a movie this good-looking, it becomes idiotic that no one can figure out within five seconds that Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana are the same person. Overall, though, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and I'm a fan. Billy Ray Cyrus follows in the tradition of country stars who don't try to act and therefore come out looking good; he gives a winning performance (and even gets a romance with yummy Melora Hardin). Miley, on the other hand, needs to unlearn those bad habits kids always get from being on the Disney Channel, where acting isn't the concern. She's still Hannah Montana, but you can see the limits of her abilities. Emily Osment has nothing to do, and neither does Jason Earles as Miley's brother Jackson. As so often happens on the show, Jackson is left out of the family bonding and just floats in and out doing little gags. If there's a sequel, Earles needs much more to do; dude's funny and unfortunately he feels superfluous to the plot. But will there be a sequel? Well, that's ultimately what bothered me about this movie. Once again, I'm not digging the message Disney is sending to kids. See, I think most of what happens that convinces everyone that Miley is getting too Hannah-fied isn't actually Miley's fault. She's sort of railroaded into feeling like she has to decide whether or not she can keep being Hannah, and she kind of gets dumped on the whole way through and made to feel like she's not a good person because her professional commitments get in the way sometimes (which is true of any profession). And no one is willing to try and understand, with the exception of her father. I have to admit, I really love Billy Ray Cyrus on Hannah Montana, not only because he reminds me so much of my own dad (he loves cheesy jokes, my dad, and he's got the same sort of rambunctious humor), but also because he's one of the few really good dads I see on TV. He lets his kids figure out for themselves why their behavior is bad by giving them opportunities to do good or to see themselves through the eyes of others. And here, it kind of broke my heart when he was willing to give up his budding romance with Melora Hardin in order to keep Miley's secret and help her get where she wanted to go. He was the only person willing to make a sacrifice for family, and in the end, Miley gets the same opportunity. She reveals her real identity to her home town and seems content to rid herself of Hannah Montana in order to be honest with the people she loves, and that is a big deal. And, in a movie that cared more, Miley would have been allowed to make the sacrifice and go on being a singer because she would have matured to the point where she didn't need the fantasy double life any more. But, instead, Miley is allowed to have it both ways; she can unburden herself, but her extended family and fans are so understanding that they want her to go on being Hannah Montana, too. And that was just phony. After all of Miley getting dumped on and being forced to grow up, she makes a real sacrifice, and the power of it is just taken away. Not only is that just bad storytelling, but the girls in the audience learn... what? I think what could have been an interesting ending was lost to Disney ultimately not wanting to endanger their franchise, when this could have been a meaningful end to Hannah Montana and positioned Miley (and her audience) to keep growing. So, overall I enjoyed the movie, but some of the silliness and especially that shitty message just stick in my craw. *** stars.

17 AGAIN (2009)
Two movies with Melora Hardin on one Sunday? Man, I wish every week was like this. So, Zac Efron plays a star basketball student who gives up his chances of a scholarship and stardom in order to get married far too young and improbably turn into Matthew Perry. As a grown man, his wife (sexy, sexy, wonderful Leslie Mann) is divorcing him and his kids (Michelle Trachtenberg and Sterling Knight) hate him. He's living with his nerdy best friend from high school (Thomas Lennon, very funny and with a house full of geek treasures). Then a kindly old wizard or something (Brian Doyle-Murray) turns him back into Zac Efron, and he goes about reliving his glory days and trying to get his family back. Nothing really surprising happens--you've seen one body switch movie you've seen them all--but there was a little gravity to it. Or, you know, maybe I'm the right age or something. Melora Hardin plays the high school principal. Hunter Parrish from Weeds plays Trachty's scummy boyfriend, and I so wanted to see him and Efron get it on--er, get into a fight. Zac Efron is getting a lot better as an actor; I'd like to see him in some kind of science fiction adventure movie, though. It's interesting how the world of comedy is sort of welcoming him in; this movie has not only Lennon, Hardin, and Mann, who are members of the club, but also Jim Gaffigan and Margaret Cho (and I think I'm forgetting one or two other appearances). More power to him. He's charming here in a movie that was harmless and enjoyable. *** stars.

Portraiture 2

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Health Report, Year 3: Week 19

This week is going by so slow. My television's been broken since Friday (which reminds me: I have a new Positive Cynicism up, which is partially about not having a TV) and things have been pretty quiet. For the first time ever, I listened to my entire iPod yesterday in one sitting. The good news is, though, my head's been pretty clear and I've been able to get a surprising amount of writing done. I've been working on a longish short piece or shortish long piece for some time, and I've been really moving on it the last couple of days, since sub jobs are pretty dry this week.

Question: why would I have a Dairy Queen Blizzard and then feel like my heart is beating too fast afterwards? What the hell is in those things? So much for a treat on a Sunday afternoon. I haven't felt that bad after eating since that can of Spaghetti-Os that nearly killed me and led to the doctor's appointment which diagnosed me with high blood pressure back in, like, '03 or something. Disturbing.

Still, a couple of improvements: I realized that I haven't been really badly sick in a long time, even with being around kids. Is the legendary teachers' immune system finally kicking in? Also, I've been wearing those Breathe Right strips, and they're not only helping me to not snore so much, but I also feel better in the morning. Less phlegm in the throat, for example. Getting better in small increments. Better than nothing.

Still, there are days when I feel like I need some of what this anteater is getting.



Well, he's drinking apple/cranberry juice. I need something a little stronger than that.

But other than the loss of the TV--and that's even got a positive side--nothing to complain about.

Except, you know, the lack of work.

Why Do They Keep Making It So Easy?

Does that make "ascent" the lowest form, or something?

Pregnant Women Are Smug

It's a Robot!

Ash is a goddamned robot! A goddamned robot!

Got Milk, Tovarich?

The Russians sure are better at selling milk than America. Images via English Russia.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy 4/20

Snopes: 420.

UPDATE: Stop stealing my thoughts hours before I've had them, JA.

Cynical Six

Trying out something a little different here.

1. I read this story on io9 about extreme Twilight fans (Twihards--how easy they make it). Anyway, these Twitards are apparently committing violence against people who don't like the books. I don't know how many of these incidents are true, but I know those people are out there. I've felt the hate in person. So I think I'm probably taking my life into my own hands doing "Twilight Summarized by a Smartass." But I'm still going to do it when I finally get my hands on a copy.

2. Meh. This first image from Robin Hood looks like more of the same from Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe to me, and I'm sick of both of them. Why do they keep making Robin Hood? Haven't they gotten it right yet? I don't think anyone's going to top Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks, or Richard Todd at this point. I do love that Scott has been saying his film will be a more historically realistic take on a person who may or may not have ever existed, "like Gladiator was." Gladiator is about as accurate a depiction of Roman history as Xena: Warrior Princess, so let's not make that claim.

3. Headline this morning: "Sadly, Zac Efron and Miley Cyrus beat Jason Statham at the box office." Well, it makes sense if you know two things. First, that the majority of people who go to the movies are kids and teenagers who prefer to see movies aimed at them. And second, that a lot more straight Americans are comfortable with their homosexual feelings now and don't need a closet outlet like Crank: High Voltage to make them feel tough about it.

4. Apparently, Oprah Winfrey has canceled her show on the anniversary of the Columbine massacre because it focused too much on the killers. But, how does America know how to feel about national tragedies without Oprah to put it in perspective for us?

5. Another headline this morning: "Perez Hilton embarrassed by Criss Angel." Join the club, pal. It's called Humanity.

6. Why does the media coo over Madonna's child abductions like buying a kid is cute, but comes down on some Indian guy for wanting to sell his daughter who was in Slumdog Millionaire? Isn't it the same thing? I mean, Madonna pays for those Malawian "orphans." So, it's cute to buy but inhuman to sell? I can't figure out this whole double standard. Did you know 11 million children are abandoned every year in India? And yet, Mother Theresa kept telling them to have more. Why bother?

Happy Birthday, Crispin Hellion Glover

Not sure if he's the kind of guy who does "Happy Birthday" or not, but nevertheless, it's his 45th, so Happy Birthday.

J.G. Ballard 1930-2009

"All over the world major museums have bowed to the influence of Disney and become theme parks in their own right. The past, whether Renaissance Italy or ancient Egypt, is reassimilated and homogenized into its most digestible form. Desperate for the new, but disappointed with anything but the familiar, we recolonise past and future. The same trend can be seen in personal relationships, in the way people are expected to package themselves, their emotions and sexuality in attractive and instantly appealing forms."

"The uneasy marriage of reason and nightmare which has dominated the 20th century has given birth to an increasingly surreal world. More and more, we see that the events of our own times make sense in terms of surrealism rather than any other view..."

"I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that's my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again ... the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul."

"I began to become an adult when I was 24 and got married and had children. That matures you, but I wouldn't say I was fully an adult until I was in my forties. The trouble with the whole adult debate is that if you're asking 18-year-olds to go out and fight wars for you then you can't deny them adult rights even though in sorts of other ways they wouldn't qualify until they were about 25. These days adolescence stretches much further into adulthood than it used to. There's no longer any encouragement to be mature."

"My brief stay at the hospital had already convinced me that the medical profession was an open door to anyone nursing a grudge against the human race."

"We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind - mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the preempting of any free or original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. For the writer in particular it is less and less necessary for him to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer's task is to invent the reality."

"Science and technology multiply around us. To an increasing extent they dictate the languages in which we speak and think. Either we use those languages, or we remain mute."

"Human beings today ... are surrounded by huge institutions we can never penetrate: the City, the banking system, political and advertising conglomerates, vast entertainment enterprises. They've made themselves user friendly, but they define the tastes to which we conform. They're rather subtle, subservient tyrants, but no less sinister for that."

"Perhaps our own fin-de-siecle decadance takes the form, not of libertarian excess, but of the kind of over-the-top puritanism we see in political correctness and the assorted moral certainties of physical fitness fanatics, New Agers and animal-rights activists."

"The technological landscape of the present day has enfranchised its own electorates - the inhabitants of the marketing zones in the consumer society, television audiences and news magazine readerships, who vote with money at the cash counter rather than with ballot paper at the polling boot. These huge and passive electorates are wide open to any opportunist using the psychological weaponry of fear and anxiety, elements that are carefully blanched out of the world of domestic products and consumer software."

"Modern technology offers an endless field day to any deviant strains in our personalities."

"Electronic aids, particularly domestic computers, will help the inner migration, the opting out of reality. Reality is no longer going to be the stuff out there, but the stuff inside your head. It's going to be commercial and nasty at the same time."

"The advanced societies of the future will not be governed by reason. They will be driven by irrationality, by competing systems of psychopathology."

"The American Dream has run out of gas. The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It's over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now: the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Vietnam."

"Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century."

"Twenty years ago no one could have imagined the effects the Internet would have: entire relationships flourish, friendships prosper…there’s a vast new intimacy and accidental poetry, not to mention the weirdest porn. The entire human experience seems to unveil itself like the surface of a new planet."

Susan Boyle

This is a genuine internet sensation, so I'm sure everyone's seen it already, but since a blog is really like a big scrapbook, I felt I needed it here in mine. Besides, someone who digs Electronic Cerebrectomy forwarded this to me this morning, and I like to encourage people to send me stuff. This is Susan Boyle's amazing performance on Britain's Got Talent, and an excellent lesson in not judging people on their appearances. Beauty can come from anywhere, which the entire audience learns here. I've watched it a few times now and been moved to tears each time. Thank you, Susan, for sharing your voice with the world.


Disturbing Strokes

Caught this one going around; someone's taken the opening credits of Diff'rent Strokes and set them to music from a horror film called The Dorm That Dripped Blood. Hilarious and scary all at once; a great lesson in how music can direct the mood of a scene.

Kristen Bell Mondays


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Congratulations, Nora

Word has come in this morning that Nora O'Sullivan, Horror's Girl Next Door, made it all the way to the Fangoria Spooksmodel finals. Sadly, she didn't win, but she made it a lot further than a lot of other contestants did. Lots of blogs (including mine) have had links up for Nora in their sidebars and on posts to support her, and I think we're all very happy for her for getting as far as she did. She's the Fangoria Spooksmodel in our hearts.

Congratulations, Nora, for getting so far!

There's Always Room for Defending Ewoks from Dolts

Via JA, originally from here, comes this gem:

The Ewoks do not suck. "The Ewoks suck" is the kind of thing Star Wars nerds who are insecure about being Star Wars nerds and feel like they have to be tough guys about it--the worst, most insufferable kind of Star Wars nerds--say in lieu of whipping their dicks out and measuring them and yelling "see?!?!" The Ewoks are awesome. They look like teddy bears and fight like the Viet Cong. If given the choice between living among humans for the rest of my life and living among Ewoks, the choice would be it's not even a choice. Ewoks every time. What I'm saying is that the Ewoks are better than you.
Right on. Right effing on.

(Of course, they're no Hoojibs, but no one's perfect, right?)

Song of the Week: "Love, Reign O'er Me"

The Who, Quadrophenia, 1973. A stunning album with one of the most powerful and beautiful closing tracks I've ever heard. It just popped into my head today. A contrast to last week's "Afternoon Delight," today is deeply dark and rainy. I need the power of Roger's voice, Pete's arrangements, John's bass, and Keith's drums to counter the outside.

Sunday Hottie 220

JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT

Happy 31st, James Franco

I have a gift for you, if you're into it...