Saturday, June 05, 2010

Meme Minus Ten


1. It's 2AM and you are not home. You are more than likely: Dead somewhere. I'm not a night owl.

2. What's the last thing you spent more than $100 on? The power bill.

3. What do your bank checks look like? They're just regular bank checks.

4. Where did the shirt you are currently wearing come from? Wal-Mart. It's just a gray Hanes shirt.

5. Name something that will be on your Christmas wish list: Financial stability.

6. What color is your toothbrush? White with a red stripe.

7. Name something you collect and tell us about it. Pieces of my childhood, I think.

8. Last restaurant you ate at. Who were you with? How was it? Last time was IHOP. Not really, like, a restaurant-restaurant, but it was a nice meal. I tried those stackers pancakes with the cheesecake filling in the middle. Good stuff; like a miniature dessert for breakfast. (They're smaller than they look, so it's not so much that it makes you sick.) Me and Becca went while she was just on vacation; she had a coupon for a free entree. It was a nice treat.

9. Who was the last person you bought a birthday card for? I have no idea. I don't buy them. I try to make them, but I don't always remember.

10. What is your worst bad habit? Other than forgetting about birthday cards? Laziness.

11. Name a magazine you subscribe to? Playboy.

12. Your favorite pizza toppings? I used to look only cheese, but now I like a lot of different things on pizza. My favorite is pepperoni with jalapenos and green peppers or black olives or onions.

13. Whose number were you looking up the last time you used a phone book? A data recovery specialist.

14. Other than family, who is the person that you love most? My wife.

15. What is the last thing you cooked? Me personally... I don't remember.

16. Name something you wouldn't want to buy used? Underwear.

17. Which shoe do you put on first? The left, for some reason.

18. What is the last thing you remember losing? Well, if I remembered losing it, wouldn't I still have it? (I know, I know, not necessarily, I don't care.)

19. What is the ugliest piece of furniture in your house? It's all pretty ragged.

20. Last thing you bought and ended up returning? Some meat.

21. What perfume/cologne do you wear? If none, why? I don't generally wear cologne. I do wear aftershave when I shave; I wear Skin Bracer, which isn't fancy but has a sort of sweet, almost baby powder-like smell. I know I wear it because that's what my Dad used to use when I was a kid (I don't know if he still does or not). The smell reminds me of simpler times.

22. Your favorite board game? Trivial Pursuit.

23. What was the last board game you played? Um... Risk, maybe.

24. Where did your vehicle come from? A strange world on the outer rim of the Crab Nebula... a factory, where do you think?

25. If a movie was made about your life what would the theme song be? "Dare to Be Stupid" by "Weird Al" Yankovic.

26. You're sad, who can cheer you up easily? The Muppets!

27. What was the color of the bridesmaid dresses of the last wedding you went to? I have no idea; the last wedding I went to (other than mine, which had no bridesmaids) was in 1995 or something.

28. What house cleaning chore do you hate to do the most? Doing the dishes.

29. What is your favorite way to eat chicken? Fried.

30. It is your birthday. You hope the cake is? Yellow with chocolate frosting. Or a pie! I love pie...

Friday, June 04, 2010

"I Want My Life Back"

BP CEO Tony Hayward said "I want my life back."

Gee, I really feel for you, Tony.

You know who else probably wants their lives back? Well, let's take a look.

:: The brown pelicans who dive into the oil because it makes the water look calmer.

:: Four species of endangered sea turtle that live in the Gulf of Mexico. (And yes, as much as BP is desperately trying to downplay their environmental damage, the turtles are already washing up on the shore.)

:: Dolphins who have been following the boats in the response crews straight into the oil slick.

:: Bluefin tuna, a staple of the American fish diet and American fishing industry--the Gulf of Mexico is home to one of only two bluefin tuna nurseries in the world.

:: Sharks, whales, oysters, passing birds... you name it. Jesus, look at this:

You want YOUR life back?

You know who else wants their lives back? Entire coastal communities whose economies are going to be devastated this year by your greed. Fishing communities, people whose entire lives depend on Gulf fishing, are going to lose their homes because of this. They've lost their livelihoods, and who knows what's going to happen to these people.

BP has destroyed the Gulf of Mexico, the creatures that live in it, economies that live off of it, and people who depend on it.

My suggestion? Sign this petition to tell the government that this is all BP's financial responsibility, and not ours.

I don't know about you, but I don't want my tax money going to bailout British Petrol. It's their mess, they need to pay for their greed.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Make It Sir

Patrick Stewart is knighted. One of my favorite actors.

An American Was Killed in Israel's Flotilla Assault

Usually, when a ship is attacked in international waters, they call it piracy or terrorism. When the Israelis do it, it's just security.

It is apparently also the policy of the US that's acceptable for the Israeli government to kill American citizens in international waters with no judicial process as long as it's in the name of pretending every Muslim is a terrorist.

To his credit, President Obama has suggested an international investigation into the flotilla massacre. Biden thinks Israel should conduct the investigation, so that says it all.

The US will continue to condone everything Israel does, which is basically doing everything they can to make sure every Palestinian will die within a generation. Usually they call that genocide, but Israel has a free pass to do whatever they want in the Middle East, so any killing they do will be supported by US money and US weaponry.

It makes me sick.

Until people on both sides are willing to sit down and be fucking rational about what's going on there, it makes me sick.

Rue McClanahan 1934-2010

That's too bad. I always liked her.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Film Week

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

I tend to like Rob Zombie very much as a filmmaker. I thought his first Halloween was excellent. This sequel isn't really necessary, though, and has no clear idea what it's about. Scout Taylor-Compton is very good as Laurie Strode--the kind of actress I love in horror flicks, who seems game for anything--but she's in the service of a plot too convoluted for its own good. It doesn't really add much to the plot of the first movie, and instead feels like a very slow epilogue. The thing is, this really tries to get into the psyche of Michael Meyers and doesn't find much there. The first movie was accused of doing the same, but I never thought it did--it simply showed you that Michael started out as a child, like we all do, and went wrong along the way for reasons that were never clear. If anything, the point of the Dr. Loomis character was to show how there were no easy, pop-psych answers to explain Michael, something expounded on at length (but not very compellingly) in the sequel. A lot of the film focuses quite a bit on Laurie, but it seems like Zombie doesn't know what to say about her, either, and the characters just fall apart. *1/2 stars.

COP OUT (2010)
I know it's a race for some people, but this is the worst movie Kevin Smith's ever been associated with. He didn't write the script, and that's the problem: without his being there from inception on, he doesn't feel very attached to his story, and it becomes clearer than ever that as a director he doesn't have much going for him. The scripts, the dialogue, the characters were always the strong points of Smith's movies: he just needed to point the camera in the right direction and not get too flashy. Here, the script is all flash and no substance, and the flat direction makes it seem even more dull than it already is. The plot--about a couple of suspended loser cops--is pointless and not worth following, and with the exception of Seann William Scott (to my surprise), all of the actors are bad. Smith clearly wants this to be his Beverly Hills Cop, right down to Harold Faltermeyer doing the score, but he seems to have forgotten that while Axel Foley was a smartass and unconventional and did things his own way and all of those other cliches we've become far too used to in movies, he was also a really good cop. These guys are just idiots, and they're not entertaining enough to make this watchable. No stars.

I'm still not sold on motion capture. Zemeckis partially succeeds here--they way he did in Beowulf--by choosing a compelling story and getting a good script out of it. The thing is, motion capture is so unnecessary, and adds little to the story. It's not animation, and it's not live action. It's a grotesquerie, however. Aside from Ebeneezer Scrooge--whose appearance is stylized--every character looks like a terrible mockery of a human being with a too-large head that sort of floats on its own laws of physics (they still can't get weight right, I see). It takes you right out of the story and puts the focus where it shouldn't be: on the painful limitations of what are basically elaborate special effects. What works here for me is the general atmosphere. This is a version of A Christmas Carol that remembers that Dickens' story is a ghost story. But it also gets in a lot of bits that are too often cut out of other versions--such as the appearance of Ignorance and Want--that I think are essential to Scrooge's change. This is one of my favorite stories ever, and I reject Harlan Ellison's claim that the novel is about how society gangs up on Scrooge and bullies him into celebrating Christmas; I think it's about forgiveness and community, and how withdrawal can make us hard and intolerant. So there were parts of this movie I loved. Then there were other things that made it too hard to focus on the story, or the purely unnecessary action sequences--including a chase that adds nothing to the appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come--that are trying too hard. As for the acting... well, is it acting? Except for some over-the-top moments--it is hard to reign him in--Jim Carrey does some of the best acting I've ever seen him do. Or does he? How much of the performance is his, and how much of it is special effects manipulation? See, this is another reason I despise motion capture. The whole thing is a mess that could've been so much more if they had just done it in live action or in real animation. **1/2 stars.

The true story of Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) who goes to great lengths--fraud, embezzlement, impersonating a lawyer, forgery--to hold on to the wide-eyed boy he loves, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). The problem is, he's really, really bad at it and he always gets caught. On one level, it's a sweet romance, and on another, it's an exploration of identity--Steven works so hard at his illegal activities and criminal impersonations in order to make Phillip stay with him, but in doing so he loses himself and turns into someone no one could really love because there's no longer a personality there. It's also a very funny movie. Why it hasn't been released is beyond... well, no, that's not true: it's because the powers that be and too much of society is scared shitless by the idea that two people who love each other who are also the same gender. We're being told once again that same-gender love is illicit and not a part of America's "normal" life. Seriously, if you think the sight of two men kissing is unacceptable, you need to get over yourself. It's too bad America's hang-ups have made a martyr of what is, honestly, just a very funny, very good movie. ***1/2 stars.

Unwatchable, even for a Jennifer Lopez movie. No stars.

ACCUSED AT 17 (2009)
Nicole Anderson stars as a high school student framed for murder by her friends. I like Nicole Anderson. Of course, this being a Lifetime movie, it's really about her mother and how her mother deals with her daughter's tragedy, but it was fun in the way Lifetime movies are incredibly stupid fun. ** stars.

Gorgeous-looking Francois Truffaut movie about Victor Hugo's daughter. Isabelle Adjani plays Adele, who follows the British soldier she is obsessed with across the Atlantic to Halifax. Adjani is excellent as a woman tortured by nightmares and lies, and an obsession that is tearing her apart. Truffaut wisely doesn't try to make Adele sympathetic, but instead lets the audience see someone noble who frustrates us with her self-destructive behavior. She's not caught in a grand romance so much as she is single-minded and being driven mad by it. It's a compelling character study. **** stars.

Cecil B. DeMille directed this melodrama about a British man who takes the rap for his partner's crimes, then heads to Wyoming where he marries an Indian woman. The trivia here is that it's DeMille's first film and one of the first made in Hollywood. The trivia is more interesting than the film, which is histrionic and as painfully earnest and predictable as a cheap romance novel. An interesting example of an early Western, but not much more. ** stars.

RAMONA (1910)
Mary Pickford stars in another predictable movie--one less than 20 minutes long--as a white woman who falls in love with an Indian. Everyone's LAMENTING TO THE HEAVENS!!! here. * star.

This movie looks great; you can tell a lot of attention was paid to the setting, as there are gorgeous wildernesses in the background. The story is compelling, and Wallace Beery is intense as the villain Magua, especially compared to some of the hammier actors. Great to look at and absorb. **** stars.

This Is the MIT Science Fiction Society's Entire Review of Twilight

I Don't Defend Massacres

Every time I say something critical about Israel, I have to deal with the "but, but, the democracy" or the "but, but, the bible" comments from people, and I don't feel like having an argument right now. So I'm going to recommend that you go and read what Dr. Monkey has to say about the flotilla massacre. It's everything I would've said about the situation and more.

For No Reason, Here's a Picture of Scarlett

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Hell's Kitchen

God, I love this show. I have just a couple of very brief observations.

:: It's getting more and more obvious that the producers are overloading this thing with passionate amateurs who have no hope of winning, just to make the thing more dramatic.

:: The gender-based teams are getting boring; every cycle of this show since the second one breaks the teams up into men and women. The first dinner service went terribly, with something like half of the contestants sent upstairs to chill out and get out of the way. What would've been pretty interesting this time around would be to break the teams up that way: the ones who did poorly on one team, the ones who stayed and finished service on another team. Just to mix it up.

:: Worst fake Italian accent since Peter Griffin grew a mustache. Boppitty-boopitty?

I Have Never Loved a Video Game Commercial More

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

I'm sure this is going to piss a lot of people off, but it's my blog and not yours, so deal with it.

I think it's important to set a day aside to honor those who gave their lives in service to this country. But I don't need to be told what to do about it.

If some people want to regard Memorial Day as merely a day off of work or school, or the start of the summer, or the opening of the summer movie season, or just an excuse to gather the family and have a cookout, I don't really care. It's their deal. It's not anybody's job to bully them into being more reverent on Memorial Day. It's certainly not my job to care how people spend their holidays. What people do on a day like Memorial Day doesn't lessen how I feel about it, and doesn't affect how I choose to spend it.

I also don't need to be told about the importance of what soldiers have done in the history of the country I was born in and have lived in all my life. I don't disrespect that at all.

I take issue with the hero-worshiping sentiments, however. I take issue with the ever-increasing fetishizing of military personnel as automatically exempt from the mundane bonds of their humanity. I do not abide by the thought that "for just one day" we should all put aside our beliefs and ideals--oh, excuse me, "politics and bickering"--just because the calendar has set aside a day for people to remember military sacrifice. Military sacrifice is relevant to our lives every day, not just one day a year. And if you honor what people have fought and died for, if you honor the ideals of this country, then it is absolutely important that we continue to demand answers when that sacrifice has been misused and dishonored.

Who dishonors the sacrifices of soldiers more? Me, for being angry that Afghanistan is now officially our longest-fought war, that our government lied to us and send soldiers to die and kill in Iraq, and that we keep reacting to all of this freedom we supposedly have by entertaining discussions about taking away the constitutional rights of US citizens? Or the Bush Administration for demanding a media blackout on military coffins returning to the United States?

I do honor my soldiers. I honor them so much that I don't want them to die for lies. I don't want them to be sent to die because the Bush or Obama Administrations don't know how to conduct criminal investigations against terrorists and instead throw the military at countries they don't know how to deal with. I honor them so much that hearing we've passed the 1000th American casualty in Afghanistan makes me sick.

If you think I blame the military for the mistakes of our government, there's no reasoning with you.

If people want to misread that, I really don't care. People are going to overreact to whatever they want.

Have a nice Memorial Day. We have a thunderstorm here. It's your freedom, do whatever you want with it. People died so you could have it.

UPDATE 4:32 PM: Yes.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

This is the movie I'm most excited for this year. This trailer is spot-on, too. I'm amazed how well the comic book seems to translate.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Song of the Week: "Your Love Is My Drug"

Fuck it, I like Kesha. I like Kesha a lot more than I like Lady Gaga. Maybe because Kesha seems to know that we all know it's an act, and has fun with it. She seems like a person, something Gaga has yet to be able to fake convincingly.



26. Have you ever been stung by a bee?
Yes, once. When I was about 11 or 12, I was walking around the duck pond looking for a good place to fish. Some asshole kids were throwing rocks at a beehive that was in a weeping willow, and suddenly a cloud of bees was everywhere. I was just on the edge and escaped with one sting, in the chest, through the shirt--more like a little pinch. Thanks to my clothing, the stinger didn't embed itself in me.

27. What's the sickest you've ever been?
I've lost track of that... I've had a number of really, really bad illnesses in my life, but mostly they were severe flus, stomach viruses, or, one time, walking pneumonia. Since I started substitute teaching, though, I almost never get sick anymore, unless I eat something bad.

28. What's your favorite form of exercise?
I like just walking.

29. What's your favorite Cyndi Lauper song?
"Time After Time." Cliched choice, perhaps, but it is her best song.

30. What did you do for your 13th birthday?
I went with my friend Carl to see Weekend at Bernie's, because it was the only PG-13 movie playing (other than Batman, which we'd both seen multiple times already), and I was under the mistaken idea that you had to be 13 to get into a PG-13 movie.

31. Are you afraid of heights?
Yes, all my life.

32. Have you ever taken dance lessons?
No, but damned if I wouldn't like to. I'd love to learn to dance.

33. What's your favorite newspaper?
If I am going to get a newspaper, I usually get the Chicago Sun-Times, mainly because it has Roger Ebert and used to have Irv Kupcinet.

34. What's your favorite Broadway / West End musical?
West Side Story.

35. What's the most memorable class you've ever taken?
Art History 101 in my freshman year of college is my favorite class ever. I had the most wonderful teacher, Dimitri Liakos, who actually appreciated it when students would talk to him with questions after class. He was kind of a whimsical man, and his passion for art history was boundless. I took another class with him, focusing on the Ancient Greeks, and he told me he was very pleased with my work on that class. Made me feel exceptional.

36. What's your favorite knock-knock joke?
I don't care for knock knock jokes.

37. What's your least favorite commercial?
Um, like, almost all of them.

38. If you could go to Disney World with any celebrity alive today, who would it be?
Kristen Bell, of course. (I know, you're shocked.)

39. Do you prefer baths or showers?
Both have their place.

40. What's your favorite newspaper comic strip?
I don't ever read strips in the paper, I read them online. My favorite strip is PVP. I also love Wondermark, Andertoons, SinFest, xkcd and Cyanide and Happiness.

41. What's your favorite breakfast food?
What isn't? I think I love breakfast food more than any other, um... genre(?) of food. I love pancakes, waffles, French toast, eggs, bacon, hot cereal, cold cereal, hash browns... not all at once, of course, but I love it all. I'll eat it for dinner.

42. Who's your favorite game show host?
I tend to have an irrational hatred of game show hosts. I put them on the same level as daytime talk show hosts. Or worse, morning talk show hosts. The fact that GSN did a reality series about Chuck Woolery is insane to me. Who gives a shit what that guy's life is like? He reads cards for a living.

43. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Just one? I always hate this question. I think it would be super speed, though.

44. Do you like guacamole?
It's okay. I prefer salsa.

45. Have you ever been in a food fight?
Yes, and it was over quickly. It was just one guy and I, and we were about to start punching each other before it got broken up by a teacher. That guy was a douche.

46. Name five songs to which you know all the lyrics.
There are too many to name; I can't pull just five out of the air. I can sing along with all of West Side Story, for example.

47. What's your favorite infomercial?
Gag me.

48. What's the longest you've ever waited in line?
Maybe 45 minutes to get into Attack of the Clones and all three Lord of the Rings movies.

49. What's on the cover of your address book or day planner?
Do you honestly think I plan my days?

50. Have you ever taken a picture in one of those little booths?
No, but I did have sex in one at the Brookfield Zoo. Excelsior!

This Makes Me Look More Together Than I Probably Am


-- Personality Disorder Test --
-- Personality Disorder Information --

Another Winner from Arizona

My Dad and I had a discussion a few weeks back on the "Papers, Please" law in Arizona. I called it outright fascism; a law that is racially motivated and empowers and encourages the police to harass Hispanic-Americans without cause. My Dad's feeling--and I've seen this echoed all over the internet--was that it was an attempt to enforce a federal law that, many think, is actively not being enforced.

(This brings up a whole other discussion about immigration law and the financial solvency of government organizations, which leads to Wall Street vs. the rest of the United States, and I'm not going to go off on that tangent right now.)

As I've said before, I acknowledge that there's a problem in this country with illegal immigration. And I'm man enough to admit that I don't know what the solution to the problem is. But, once again, I'm pretty sure the answer is not to write racism into policy and keep taking us steps further into police state totalitarianism.

See, what adds further to my opinion that this new law in Arizona is not policy-motivated but instead racially-motivated is that the author of that law, Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, said in an email that he "intend[s] to push for an Arizona bill that would refuse to accept or issue a birth certificate that recognizes citizenship to those born to illegal aliens, unless one parent is a citizen."

Now, we can possibly argue about whether or not the "Papers, Please" law is unconstitutional, but Pearce's newest brainstorm runs directly contrary to the 14th Amendment.

Don't these people have to take an oath to uphold the US Constitution?

It's terrifying how many people in the federal and state governments in this country are supportive of legislation--blatantly unconstitutional legislation--that would strip rights, privileges, and citizenship away from US citizens. And basic dignity away from anyone. And if we allow this to continue, there's no telling where it's going to stop.

Stop writing racism into law. (And yes, to repeat myself again, I know this isn't an inherently racist law, but the motivation for this law seems clear as day to me.)

When did reason--calm rationality, discussion, debate, an attempt to find solutions--become something no one considered? Instead, we go right to legislation.

It makes me sick.

Happy Memorial Day tomorrow. Remember the people who died to protect your right to take freedom away from others.