Saturday, March 27, 2010

My 30 Favorite Pixar Characters

Since I did Disney characters last week.

30. Rex
29. Knick
28. Mr. Potato Head
27. Luxo Jr.
26. Geri

25. Fungus
24. Slim
23. Doc Hudson
22. Nigel
21. Bullseye

20. Hamm
19. Heimlich
18. Mater
17. Jesse
16. Gill

15. M-O
14. Mike Wazowski
13. Crush
12. Sally Carrera
11. Buzz Lightyear

10. Marlin
9. Helen Parr/Elastigirl
8. Collette Tatou
7. Woody Pride
6. James P. "Sulley" Sullivan

5.Alec Azam
4. Carl Fredrickson
3. Dory
2. Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible
1. WALL-E

Brokenmeme

Ganked this from Tumblr.

Hi, my name is: Aaron.
Never in my life have I been: Pushed in front of a moving vehicle.
The one person who can drive me nuts is: Probably a political mouthpiece.
High school: Was like being in prison with a night-break.
When I’m nervous: I grind my teeth without thinking about it.
The last song I listened to was: Whatever was on the iHome when I woke up this morning. I can't remember.
If I were to get married right now my best man/maid of honor: Too late; already married. And I didn't have a best man.
My hair is: Freshly shorn. Finally got a haircut last week, so it's nice and short.
When I was 5: I was Jeffty
Last Christmas: Things were too snowy and icy to go anywhere. Becca made meatloaf and it was fantastic.
I should be..: Napping. Seriously, I'm yawning like crazy.
When I look down I see: My keyboard.
The happiest recent event was: I finally opened up World 6 on New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
If I were a character on ‘Friends’ I’d be: A new character who showed up at Central Perk with a submachine gun and opened fire on everyone. I fucking hate Friends.
By this time next year: I hope to be in a more financially stable place and weigh a lot less.
My current gripe is: America's political stupidity.
I have a hard time understanding: World 6 in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
There’s this girl I know that: Makes me cookies, but unfortunately is at work right now.
If I won an award, the first person I would tell would be: Becca.
Take my advice: Don't take so much crap so seriously.
The thing I want to buy: New tires for the car.
If you visited the place I was born: You'd be bored. I mean, it's a hospital.
I plan to visit: Disneyland, one day... maybe.
If you spent the night at my house: You'd tell me to stop all of that snoring.
I’d stop my wedding if: No, it's too late for that now!
The world could do without: People.
I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: Try and eat kiwi again.
Most recent thing I’ve bought myself: A SATA to IDE adapter because I'm trying to get all of my files off a malfunctioning external hard drive.
Most recent thing someone else bought me: Becca bought me dinner the other night. That was nice.
My favorite blonde is: Kristen Bell.
My favorite brunette is: Kat Dennings.
My favorite red head is: All of them.
My middle name is: Robert.
In the morning I: Woke up feeling like P. Diddy.
The animals I would like to see flying besides birds are: Monkeys.
Once, at a bar: I got a bunch of lap dances.
Last night I was: Having a criminal dream involving Dakota Fanning and a snooty hotel.
There’s this guy I know who: Did something with someone, or some such.
If I was an animal I’d be: A dog.
A better name for me would be: That shut-in whose house you shouldn't trick or treat at.
Tomorrow I am: Spending the day with Becca watching Kurosawa movies.
Tonight I am: Probably going to make a couple of burgers, because my life is a whirlwind of excitement.
My birthday is: 17 July.

Dick Giordano 1932-2010

I've had a lot of fun times because of him. Sorry to hear of another comics legend passing.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Despicable Me

This is another animated movie I really want to see this year.

Prolificity

The Cave of Cool has honored me with an award. And this time, I'm not even going to be modest about it. I deserve the Prolific Blogger Award. Because I am a prolific blogger: I have no life and won't shut the hell up. So there.

Bill Donahue's Defense of Child Rape Is Laughable

Have you read Catholic League president Bill Donahue's attempt to pass the guilt of child-raping priests on to therapists? It's as hilarious as it is offensive. Here, translated from the bullshit into English, are his main points (with my commentary in italics):

1. Sexual molestation is terrible, sure, but this is an internal matter. (Here he's confusing sexual harassment with the rape of children. While sexual harassment, in LIGHT cases, can be an internal matter, the rape of children is a CRIME.)

2. Everybody does it and has been doing it for a very long time, so why single out only a few to take the punishment? (The typical religious response: well, it's some kind of tradition, so that makes it understandable. Again, we're talking about raping and sexually abusing children.)

3. Therapy failed, so any continuing child abuse by Catholic priests is the fault of the cultural zeitgeist of 30-40 years ago. (That's... that's just stupid.)

4. When Cardinal Ratzinger decided to make it official Vatican policy that child predators not be dealt with by the law but instead be moved to fresh hunting grounds and the parents hushed up with money and/or threats... come on, that was three decades ago! Let it go! (In other words, the official Catholic League position on those who assume--and are given--moral authority then breaking that trust and molesting and raping little kids is "Get over it.")

5. If a police report wasn't filed 30 years ago, there is no crime. (Okay...)

6. The media focuses too much on the Catholic Church's sex crimes, when Jews do it, too! (Don't look over here, look over there! Look! LOOOOOK!)

7. Public school teachers who abuse kids are transferred around or assigned to administrative work, and the media never reports on it. (Uh, yeah, that's why we never hear about teachers who have sex with students, right? Those people lose their jobs, go to jail, and are removed from having any dealings whatsoever with children. And even if it were the case that public school teachers are getting passed around, that doesn't actually make the sex crimes of the Catholic Church any less than they were. Nice try at moral relativism, but we see right through that.)

8. It's "selective justice" to focus on the Catholic Church over other sex abusers. But, as always, those of us not beholden to the Catholic Church hate it so much that we'll just make up whatever we can to bring it crashing down. (Another tired and typical religious argument against people who aren't religious: we all just love focusing on the imperfections of the Church because we supposedly hate it so much.)

So, in essence--and you can read his piece if you think I'm being unfair--Bill Donahue's defense of the Catholic Church really just boils down to "Sure, the Church raped and molested a bunch of kids, but so what? Other people do it, too."

The Catholic Church has lost any claim to moral authority, if they ever had it (I don't think so, but I'm one of those atheist God-haters). What Donahue should be indignant about is not the investigation into priests who abused dozens, even hundreds of children, but that any of the abuse happened, continued to happen, and that it became the official policy of the Catholic Church to do nothing more than to transfer priests to areas where they would rape and abuse again. He should be upset that an organization which preaches compassion and faith and human dignity could do something so awful, so destructive to community, so inexcusably evil as this.

Instead, Donahue proves that, in reality, too many people (especially those in power) are beholden not to the words of the faith or ideology they pretend to follow, but to the organizations they want to protect. If the Catholic Church has a cancer of the massive, systemic, and officially sanctioned cover-up of criminal child abuse, then it seems to me that anyone who really believed in the Catholic faith would want nothing more than to have that cancer cut out of the faith. If the body is corrupt, it must be healed with honesty and by the law in accordance with the severity of the crimes.

But Donahue just makes excuses. And so do many others. And the Pope simply ignores it.

Donahue, I notice, won't even use the word "child" in his editorial. He knows he's full of shit. He knows what he's defending. And he's a scumbag for doing it. Only someone with no morality would try and excuse and defend the rape and abuse of children. And only someone trying to assuage his own conscience in doing so would put this at the feet of liberals and atheists and a news media that mythically hates Catholics for the sake of hating Catholics.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Once Again, I've Given America Too Much Credit

The other day, I said that this long national "debate" over health care had exposed a dark, ugly, selfish side of America. I was certainly right about that. But I also said that my opinion was that the Teabaggers would crawl back inside their holes now that they had lost, and that was, sadly, very wrong.

Certainly the Teabaggers are being spurred on by people like John McCain, who is so butt hurt over not being the President that he's vowed not to work for the rest of the year. And while the image of John Wayne McCain stamping his feet and putting his fingers in his ears and wetting his diaper and holding his breath until he turns blue is hilarious, the fact that he handles disappointment this way--by throwing a temper tantrum and not doing his actual job--is yet another reason why I'm glad he didn't win the election.

But even with McCain and the rest of the Republican Party acting like babies, and even with Beck and Limbaugh and the usual clowns going on and on about their warped idea of selfish fearfulness disguised as patriotism, I didn't think we'd be seeing immediate violence against people who voted to extend medical care to sick people. These misguided fools who are so deluded as to believe that taxes are higher now than they've ever been have gone from well-meaning, uninformed tools of the right wing to full-blown fascist thugs.

The Virginia Teabagger who posted the address of Rep. Tom Perriello's brother (by mistake; he thought he was posting Perriello's, complete with the advice to "drop by") was engaging in a very familiar Neo-Nazi tactic. We're getting bricks and stones thrown through windows. We've had a death threat against Rep. Louise Slaughter's children.

And we've seen this labeled as "civil disobedience" instead of what it is: terrorism.

And the Republican Party's statements so far have been to the effect of "Oh, that's terrible, but the Democrats had it coming." They haven't denounced the violence. They are simply egging on these homegrown, right wing terrorists who keep talking about starting a civil war and, in doing so, condoning, even endorsing this violence.

These people are idiots, but they're turning into dangerous idiots who have no problem descending into fascist thuggery simply because they can't get their way. They are led by dangerous idiots like neo-fascist Sarah Palin, who tells her supporters "Don't Retreat. Instead -- RELOAD" and puts up images of rifle scope crosshairs over districts of Congressional Democrats she wants to "fire" and then wonders why people criticize her rhetoric as inciting violence.

Look at the results of a new Harris poll: the majority of people identifying themselves as Republicans believe Obama is a socialist (67%) who is going to take their guns away (61%) because he is a Muslim (57%) and unconstitutional President (55%) who wants to turn over the US to a one world government (51%).

And 24% of these people--nearly a quarter of them--seriously believe that Obama "may be the Anti-Christ."

How the hell are you supposed to reason with people like this?

This is the sad reality: most of the people willing to oppose an issue like health reform that doesn't even do much to extend health care or have much in the way of reform... they don't oppose Obama on policy, either because they are clearly too stupid to understand policy (especially since many of the idea in the health bill originate with Republicans like Mitt Romney) or just won't take the time to form an ideological position. These people hate Obama because he's black, because they think he's a socialist or a Muslim or a non-citizen, and because their stupidity and lack of reason and frustration with the issues this country has yet to resolve have been hijacked by the right wing and the faces of the right wing media and turned into fearful thuggery and violence.

This country is circling the drain faster and faster all the time.

Well, You Knew I Was Going to Defend Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus was the first celebrity mentor on this season of American Idol, and a lot of people thought that was just some kind of travesty. How dare some 17 year-old talk about music and voice and stage presence on this show which historically has always been so very, very serious about music?

I'm not going to go into the fact that I think Miley's a great singer. You all know I'm a fan; if you aren't, that's just your subjective taste vs. my subjective taste, and only posers and teenagers worry about that shit, anyway. And I'm not going to go into the idiot dismissal I've seen all over the place of Miley Cyrus as someone who relies heavily on auto-tune, which is just stupid.

No, what really made me laugh is the people who think it's hilarious and even somehow anger-inducing that a 17 year-old could be "qualified" enough to give advice on music. It made me laugh because those people obviously are still laboring under the delusion that American Idol is a singing competition. How many times do people have to say it? American Idol is not now, nor has it ever been, a singing competition. I don't care how often the judges claim this to the contestants: it is NOT a singing competition.

Probably the best non-music-related moment on this season happened during the auditions, when the always insufferably self-loving Kara DioGuardi was fobbing off about how much she liked some hopeful's "story," and Katy Perry (of all people) chimed in: "This isn't a Lifetime movie, this is a singing competition." Thanks for pointing out the total bullshit conceit of the show: it's not a singing competition, it's a marketing ploy.

American Idol has never been about anything more than finding someone with just enough personality and just enough talent to be really, really marketable. That's why the most talented people like Adam Lambert or Jennifer Hudson or this season's Lilly Scott don't become the next American Idol. They're talented and interesting, and whatever is the most marketable is naturally going to be a little blander and less interesting and more predictable, because that's what has the widest appeal. If this weren't true, no one would ever have heard of Dan Brown like nature obviously intended.

So it did make me laugh when people were so upset at the notion of Miley Cyrus--media superstar, one of the most successful touring artists of the decade, and the youngest-ever multi-platinum recording artist to have four consecutive number 1 albums (in less than three years), with nearly five years of experience in the music industry--mentoring the contestants on American Idol. When, come on, a Miley Cyrus is exactly what the judges keep looking for year after year, and keep trying and trying to push America to vote for.

I mean, did you really still think American Idol was about music?

And look at it this way: at least Miley Cyrus can talk about music. Ellen DeGeneres sure as hell can't.

This Is Relevant to My Interests

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lost: Good, Evil, and In Between

Last night's episode of Lost, "Ab Aeterno," was a superb example of how great this show can be. It finally gave us some context on the balance of good and evil on the island and why so many people are drawn there. So, while I'm happy to know why Richard never ages, how the Black Rock got so far inland, and what happened to the statue--and those mysteries were much more intriguing than, say, where Jack's tattoos came from (groan)--I'm much more interested in why the characters have been running through this lab rat maze for the last five and a half seasons than anything else.

So the answers we have now are, basically, that the island is holding back some great evil personified by the Man in Black, and Jacob stands as both guardian (to keep the Man in Black from leaving the island) and teacher (bringing people to the island over and over to, apparently, illustrate his point that not every person is corruptible). Of course, this raises other questions, but it's good to know that some of the theories we've had over the years--everyone's dead and the island is hell was an example the show played with last night--were incorrect.

How this ties into the Dharma Initiative, I have no idea. I don't know if we'll find that out, or if they weren't originally intended as part of Jacob and the Man in Black's rather Book of Job-like contest. (And by the way, I also dug the nature of the conflict; sure, the Man in Black is trying to kill Job, but when he's beaten, he doesn't cheat his way out of it. He simply goes back to planning instead of being truly evil and taking some kind of vengeance. This is what makes him--either in this form or Locke's--such a compelling character. He's basically straightforward, and after seasons of seeing people manipulated by Ben Linus or Charles Widdmore or Jacob himself, it's refreshing. It gives the appearance of honesty and lends credence to the theory that the Man in Black is Satan himself, since Satan's powers are supposed to be pleasing and seductive. It's not in a dangerous way, but in a comforting way, which makes him more dangerous.)

So we see now that we're at a critical junction: with Jacob apparently dead and no candidate having taken his place as jailer, now is the Man in Black's chance to get off the island and out into the world. Which explains why Widdmore is building another of those sonic fences to keep him contained. Which means Widdmore's role here may be more critical than simply wanting control of the island for some sort of power grab.

(And what do you suppose he's got locked on the sub? Lots of people think Desmond or Walt, but Aaron must be a possibility if he's got some role in this, right?)

And something else that's been nagging at me: why would Jacob have Richard tell Ben Linus to kill all of the Dharma people? When Richard came to Ben as a child, was it really Richard, or was it the Man in Black in the guise of Richard? I think one of the clues here is that when Ben and Richard meet, Richard looks the same as he did hundreds of years earlier--harried, with long hair and wearing disheveled clothes--instead of the short-haired, well-groomed, even urbane man that Sawyer met in 1977. Something to wonder about, anyway.

Something that relieved me greatly was finding out, once and for all, that whatever kind of god or immortal Jacob is, he doesn't impose his own will on others. So everything that's happened hasn't been predetermined, but is a result of the free will of the characters. I was going to be so disappointed if we found out, at the end, that no one was making choices of their own, but instead reacting to some preordained drama.

We got answers, we got a thriller, we got great character drama--this was Lost at its best.

I wanted to mention, too, how weird I find it that people are so frustrated with this season. As no stranger to Lost frustration--I mainly bitched my way through season 3 and hated season 4--I understand where those people are coming from, but this season? This season has been incredibly entertaining, as much as it was in the show's landmark first season.

A lot of the hatred seems to be directed at the show's flash-sideways, as if by this point we should be getting nothing but answers and not having to figure out what the flash-sideways, if anything, have to do with the drama on the island. The thing is, I finally do have faith in the show's creators that their connection will become apparent; I don't need it all spelled out for me right away when the show is as engrossing and entertaining as it is right now. But when people complain about such things, I have to wonder if they grow frustrated reading a book and, when each chapter fails to sum everything up, getting angrier and angrier that they have to read more and more to get to the point, since they seem to want everything spelled out before hand. Why pick on a show because it won't ruin its own drama with unearned payoffs?

Granted, I've complained a lot about the lack of answers in the past, so this may be the pot and the kettle, but if seasons 3 and 4 had been so compelling to me, I would've felt differently. I just find it amazing that people are so frustrated here in season 6, when the show is once again at its greatest.

It's actually gotten me to the point where I'm going to miss Lost even being on.

Illinois Is Going Bankrupt

There's no way around it, I think.

The education funding crisis is so bad now in Illinois that in Chicago they're actually closing down preschools. They're only funding schools with poverty rates of 93% or greater next year, which should affect 10,000 kids in Illinois, many of them with special needs. Some students have to be pulled out of early education centers unless the parents are able to pay a $4,000 tuition.

Governor Quinn's proposed budget eliminates over 450 Illinois State Troopers as well.

Look for more and more services to be cut.

What, exactly, are our taxes going to pay for? And what are we going to be left with?

Film Week

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

DEFENDOR (2009)
I love that, with the superhero movie so firmly entrenched as a genre, we're now starting to get the movies that are much more thoughtful and introspective about the genre, what it means, and how it's constructed. This is an excellent movie starring Woody Harrelson in a great performance as a road construction worker who tries to fight crime as the superhero Defendor. He's also got severe mental problems, and the movie makes no bones about it. He takes in a young prostitute (Kat Dennings, fantastic performance) because she tells him she can find his villain, Captain Industry. It's an at times very delicate, but very multi-layered movie, and is equal parts a compelling character study, a questioning of the ethics of crime-fighting, an examination of the harmful effects of escapism, and a deconstruction of superheroes. **** stars. Deserves to be seen.

KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (1949)
Exceptional film from Britain's Ealing Studios. I can't believe it took me this long to see this film; I plan to see it several more times in the future. This is a witty, distinctive film about a distant poor relation to a family of the British gentry, the D'Ascoynes, who seeks to take his place in the list of heirs. Dennis Price is excellent and direct as that relation, Louis Mazzini, whose mother was disowned for marrying beneath her station. With only 8 people between himself and the title of Duke, Mazzini decides to insinuate himself into the D'Ascoynes lives and murder his way to the title. What's interesting about this class struggle is that the viewer is immediately sympathetic to the murder plot, without even realizing it consciously at first. And the movie doesn't necessarily condemn his actions, either (although a twist at the end is as funny as it is ingenious). Alec Guinness plays all 8 of the D'Ascoynes, and plays them so well that it doesn't come across as a gimmick. I mean, it's funny, but he imbues each character with a distinction that doesn't call attention to the gimmick for its own sake. This is a special, clever, incisive film. **** stars.

GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST (2009)
This is a much, much, much worse film than it looks like it's going to be. And it's yet another movie that treats true love as the object of life, but does it by treating all women as weak in some way or another. When is Mark Waters going to get his shit together? For every film of his that I love (Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, The Spiderwick Chronicles) there's one of these, or there's a Just Like Heaven or some such crap. I basically watched this because I was home alone, bored, and Emma Stone was in it. But it wasn't worth it. Oh, Lord, no. No stars.

Olivia Munn in Complex (with Animals)

I know that as a geek I'm supposed to be all over Olivia Munn (at least, that's what the internet keeps telling me), but I'm really not that into her. This photoshoot, however, is really cute and funny. This is something much more interesting than a lot of magazines usually do, and it's kinda sucky that this is an exception rather than a rule.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TV Report: Sonny with a Chance and Castle

Disney Channel's Sonny with a Chance was one of my favorite shows in 2009. It was sharper and funnier than I expected a show like that to be, and enriched with great comedic performances from Demi Lovato, Tiffany Thornton, and Sterling Knight. So, two episodes into the new season, my disappointment is magnified by how great the show was in its first season.

I hope this is a slump the show pulls out of, but the first two episodes were so poorly written and poorly structured--they were basically how lame and cutesy I thought the show was originally going to be a year ago. It used to be true that Disney Channel shows started slow in their first season, then got much, much funnier in the second. Last year broke that trend with the very confident, strong-right-off-the-bat Sonny with a Chance and the surprisingly funny Jonas (which got much, much better after those first 5 or so episodes). So I was hoping to get knocked out right off by Sonny. And to be fair, I did, with the first episode's opening "Sicky Vicky" sketch, which proved Demi Lovato is still capable of being a great comedian.

But the rest of the episode was awkward, poorly-written, and didn't even utilize the full cast. (As I've predicted numerous times, once Allisyn Arm got past her awkward stage, the show had no idea what to do with her--she has yet to appear this season, despite still being in the opening credits.) The second episode in particular was terrible, with it's overused premise of a tiny little poor country (which nevertheless has its own airport) with funny accents and a totally unfunny misunderstanding. It was like watching a junior high school version of Borat with all of the teeth removed. The writing on this show has just gotten so lazy, and no matter how much the actors flail around to whip up energy, it ain't working.

But I think the real problem with the show is that, while Sterling Knight and Tiffany Thornton remain almost effortlessly funny, there's been some kind of a weird change in the way Demi Lovato plays Sonny. I can't quite put my finger on it, but somehow Sonny's sweetness is gone and replaced by an edge that feels almost cynical. It doesn't help that she now dresses and even sort of acts like her friend and former rival Tawni Hart, because it removes the core of what made Sonny so easy to like and relate to: that she was a simple Midwestern girl who genuinely wanted to be on her favorite show and was just so happy to be on it. Now it's kind of routine and she's all glammed up and, frankly, Sonny just isn't likable anymore. It's kind of sad to see.

I'm with it for now, but if it gets much worse, I'm just going to stop watching.

:: I wanted to mention something that happened on last night's (very good) episode of Castle: I don't expect any realism from the show--in fact, that's one of its charms for me-- but there are some things you see on cop shows that are too unbelievable. So I was surprised and pleased last night when Detective Beckett got a phone call from a serial killer and they traced it even though the call was so short. None of that "keep him talking while we trace the call" crap that they too often still love to do in procedural dramas. I mean, jeez, how long has caller ID existed, fellas?

I remember once, around 1994 or 1995, needing to call the police station late at night to let them know that a car would be parked on the street overnight. I accidentally called their emergency line because, rather stupidly, it was the only one listed in the phone book. The woman who picked up answered "Woodridge Police, what is the nature of your emergency?" For some reason, in my 18 or 19 year-old stupidity, I panicked at my mistake and quickly hung up the phone. A second later, my phone rang and it was the same woman, asking if I had an emergency. I said I'd dialed the wrong number and apologized, feeling like an idiot. But, you know, if this was happening to me 15 years ago, don't expect me to buy the "keep him talking" false suspense builder.

So thanks, Castle, for not trying to pull that old saw.

Weird

This needs to be real, damn it!

100 Years of Akira Kurosawa

Today is the centennial of the birth of one of the greatest directors who ever lived. TCM has been showing his movies every Tuesday this month--today, they're showing his films for 24 hours. I urge you to catch as many as you can.

Monday, March 22, 2010

We Were All Thinking It

So We Have a Health Care Bill

I'm too weary of this thing to be in any kind of celebratory mood about it. You all know I think the bill was little more than a watered-down corporate bailout disguised as law and purposely mislabeled reform. I'm not really sure how I feel about this, and there's a lot more work to be done on it that I hope actually gets done.

Predictably, the passage of this bill has been hailed as historic. But all I can see is a lot of politicians dealing in bad faith, whittling away at the idea of health reform because their access to free government health care isn't in danger, but their political futures are. I see Democrats who threw every special interest group, progressive cause, and minority under the bus in order to make this bill more palatable to Republicans who were never going to vote for it in the first place--and who, in the end, didn't.

I see Barack Obama, a candidate who promised transparency in negotiations and a public option on health finance, once again fail to go the distance as president when it mattered, instead making closed-door deals with insurance and drug companies to not only maintain the status quo, but to deliver the insurance industry federally-mandated new customers. And, for some reason, doing it in the name of his pet cause: bipartisan compromise. Well, who are the ones compromising here?

I see a lot of wasted time and energy trying to take the Teabaggers seriously as the spit on those who disagree with them, shout racial epithets at Congresspersons, mock and patronize sick people, and carry the threat of violence around with them to protests and town hall meetings. At least for a while, those people will go back to being good little consumers and shouting their blithe cruelty and inane selfishness at the television or on Facebook, because at heart those people are lazy and ignorant. For now, my own opinion is that they'll quiet down until the Republicans stir them up again in October with their inevitable attack ads regarding the individual mandate. And quite frankly, the Democrats deserve to be attacked on that evil.

I see a woman's right to choose traded away once again to appease a few men who will never, ever get pregnant. (And if they did, hey, they have government health care.)

I see a Congress concerned with their jobs and their money, but no one else's.

I see states doing their damnedest to nullify the health care bill in state constitutions, prepared to fight the thing in court. In some cases, they're attacking the individual mandate as unconstitutional, and I think they should; since when does a free country mandate through legislation that citizens become customers of private corporations? (And corporations which have been legally granted a monopoly, at that.) But in other cases, it seems like Republicans whipping for support from people who, honestly, don't even seem to know why health reform is "bad." The Republican Party has abandoned all pretense of serving the people and attempting to address the nation's crises.

I see a "reform" bill that has no real cost controls and almost no enforcement, which discriminates against immigrants (cruel, immoral, and fiscally irresponsible) and does not create competition. And it does nothing to address the real flaws in our health care system, like lowering premiums. And while I won't claim that the bill does nothing to provide some genuinely needed fixes to the system, the fixes don't go far enough. And I think a lot of this is because of a President who lacks the political will to keep his promises and fight the greed of the insurance companies that he rails against even as he uses the power of his office to shield those companies from any accountability. And who also not only lacks the political will to follow through on his promise to repeal the Hyde Amendment, but who has released an executive order reaffirming his commitment to it.

I see an insurance industry that will now be fined a mere hundred dollars a day if they deny someone coverage for having a pre-existing condition. So it's still cheaper for them to simply wait for patients to die.

I see over 15 million Americans who still won't have medical coverage after this "reform." And many who are now covered are only covered because they're now mandated to buy health insurance or else face a 2% penalty from the IRS. I see employers now switching to plans with higher co-pays and fewer covered services because of the excise tax.

I see a lot of my fellow bloggers thrilled that this thing passed and we can now get to the "fixing it later" they've been mentioning for some time, and I sincerely wish that I could be that optimistic about it. I think too many people in Washington are going to wipe their hands, say "Job done," and never touch this political hot potato again. (Except for the Republicans who will start a movement to repeal the as-yet-unsigned bill--they've already started.)

And I see a government bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists who now control it. And I think it stinks. And I know I'm not saying anything anyone else hasn't said, and probably better. But I needed to say it. And after all of this carnage and all of this weakness and all of this wasted goddamn time, I'm not in the mood to celebrate.

Kristen Bell Mondays


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Song of the Week: "O-o-h Child"

No music makes me feel as incredibly good as soul music. And whenever I need some cheering up, this song always make me feel as if, indeed, things are going to get easier and be brighter. It's nice and sunny here, and I'm feeling good, but this song is no less great because I'm not in a shitty mood. Here are the Five Stairsteps on Soul Train in 1971. (Hey, did you know that there was a Soul Train YouTube channel? Well, there is. Awesome!)

Eight Tens

Via Sunday Stealing.

TEN TO START.

1. Are you single? Nope, married.

2. Are you happy? Generally, yes. More than I was last year, at any rate.

3. Are you bored? Not right now; I'm blogging.

4. Are you naked? No, I'm not. Admit it, you're not disappointed.

5. Are you a blonde? Depends who you ask. My wife insists my hair is a dirty blond, but it's brown, baby. When I was a toddler, my hair was so blond it was practically white.

6. Are you moody? Not as much as I used to be, what with the Lexapro.

7. Are you a lover/hater? It's situational.

8. Are you hot/cold? I'm one, then the other. I'm yes, then I'm no. I'm in, then I'm out; I'm up, then I'm down. I'm wrong when it's right, it's black and it's white. We fight, we break up. We kiss, we make up. It's a yo-yo, but that's how Katy Perry likes it, so what do I know?

9. Are you Irish? Partly.

10. Are you Asian? No.

TEN FACTS.

1. Name: SamuraiFrog

2. Nicknames: Big Papa Smurf. Not really, I'm just trying to sound cool. I don't have any nicknames.

3. Birth mark: None.

4. Hair color: Brown.

5. Natural hair color: Brown.

6. Eye color: Blue

7. Height: 5' 10'' (One nurse told me 5' 10'' and a half. Weird.)

8. Facebook Mood: I don't exist on Facebook.

9. Favorite color: Purple.

10. One Place to Visit: Only one? Australia.

TEN THINGS ABOUT YOUR LOVE LIFE.

1. Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes.

2. Do you believe in soul mates? I think so.

4. Have you ever been hurt emotionally? Of course, many times. Who hasn't? Lives there a man with soul so dead?

5. Have you ever broken someone’s heart? Yes.

6. Have you ever been cheated on? Yes. (Fuck you, Christy.)

7. Have you ever liked someone and not told them? Yes.

8. Are you afraid of commitment? No.

9. Who was the last person you hugged? My wife.

10. Who was the last person you kissed? My wife.

TEN THIS OR THAT.

1. Love or lust? I do fine with both. I have love. What I want is lots and lots of young lust.

3. Cats or dogs? Again, I like both. If I were getting one now, I'd get a dog, because I consider it something of a triumph because I was so afraid of dogs when I was a little kid. Plus, I've had cats in the past, and I'm not sure any cat could be better than Sam was.

4. A few best friends or many regular friends? I like all kinds of friends. I'm tranquil with the wheels of life. Like they said on Hannah Montana, some people come into your life for a reason, others only for a season.

5. Television or internet? You can get TV on the internet, so internet.

6. Chinese Or Indian? What? Food? Language? History? Architecture? Women? To visit? They're all so fascinating. (For the record, I've never eaten Indian food. Not sure why.)

7. Wild night out or romantic night in? I usually opt for a night in playing video games or watching movies with Becca. It may not sound romantic, but it is for us.

8. Money or Happiness? Money. I can buy happiness. Or rent it at a reasonable rate.

9. Night or day? Depends on what we're doing. I do my best work in the morning.

10. MSN or phone? Phone.

TEN HAVE YOU EVER.

1. Been caught sneaking out? No, but I've been caught sneaking back in. Give me a break, Ma, I was 18.

2. Been skinny dipping? No. No one wants that.

3. Stolen? Yes.

4. Bungee jumped? No.

5. Lied to someone you liked? Yes. Usually to get them to go out with me. And it never worked. Now I'm honest to a fault.

6. Finished an entire jaw breaker? I've never even started one.

8. Wanted an ex bf/gf back? Never. That's why they're ex.

9. Cried because you lost a pet? Yes, every time. Brownie, Bourbon, Sam, Cleo, Robin, Brutus, Samson, my hamsters, even my fish.

10. Wanted to disappear? Who hasn't?

TEN PREFERENCES IN A PARTNER.

1. Smile or eyes? What? What kind of... I don't understand. The person you love will have eyes and a smile that are beautiful to you. Is there someone who actually looks at their partner and says "God, what an ugly smile"?

2. Light or dark hair? It doesn't matter. I'm all about a good person, not hair. Anyway, Becca changes the color a lot, and I don't care if she does.

3. Hugs or kisses? These questions seem weirdly shallow.

4. Shorter or taller? Don't care.

5. Intelligence or attraction? Intelligence is attractive; ignorance is not.

6. Romantic or spontaneous? Doesn't matter.

7. Funny or serious? Okay, well, funny helps. Becca's hilarious.

8. Older or Younger? Don't care.

9. Outgoing or quiet? Don't care. Becca is both at different times.

10. Sweet or Bad Ass? Don't care. Becca is both at different times.

TEN HAVE YOU’S.

1. Ever performed in front of a large crowd? Yes. It's nerve-wracking, but you get past it.

2. Ever done drugs? Yes, but nothing too hard.

3. Ever been pregnant? That would be quite a feat, wouldn't it? You'd have heard about it by now. It would me a headline-getter: actual man without womb and uterus pregnant.

5. Ever been on a cheer leading team? No.

6. Ever Been on a dance team? No. I can't dance. Don't ask me.

7. Ever been on a sports team? Yes, when I was younger. I did soccer one year, and football another. My football team was undefeated. I played right guard.

8. Ever been in a drama play/production? Yes.

9. Ever owned a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Escalade, Hummer or Bentley? Nope. I can't afford any of those.

10. Ever been in a rap video? No. Random question.

TEN LASTS.

1. Last phone call you made: Called my mom yesterday. And I called my dad. I'm almost a good son, kind of.

2. Last person you hung out with: Does Becca count? Because, well, I don't hang out with anyone else anymore. All of the friends I had live elsewhere.

4. Last time you worked: Far too long ago.

5. Last person you tackled: Heh, Becca.

6. Last person you IM’d: I can't remember. I don't really IM anyone anymore. I had Yahoo! Messenger and it was crashing my browser, so I stopped using it a long time ago.

8. Last person(s) you went to the movies with: Jeez, I can't even remember the last movie I went to go see. I think, maybe, it was when Mom and Becca took me to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for my birthday.

9. Last thing you missed: I don't know, I miss a lot of things. That's kind of vague to me.

10. Last thing you ate: We had a big Sunday breakfast today: apple cinnamon French Toast (with real apples; Becca makes it), buttered rum-flavored coffee, scrambled eggs, a tiny bit of bacon, lots of fruit, and some Juusto cheese. Good stuff. I won't be able to eat until dinner, though, but so what?

The Mystery Box

Sunday Hottie 268

KRISTEN STEWART