Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Award for Me?

Erick at the wondrous Wonderful Wonderblog has bestowed upon me this Zombie Rabbit Award. (Actually, he did it a couple of days ago, and I'm thanking him ungraciously late.) With the Halloween Countdown coming up, I can't wait to see what the Wonderblog has in store!

I'm supposed to pass this along to 10 other blogs, so here are 10 that I've been enjoying a lot lately:

Adventures in Nerdliness
Byzantium's Shores
Calvin's Canadian Cave of Coolness
Culture Kills... Wait, I Mean Cutlery
Dear Bastards
Eclectic Banana
I, Splotchy
Monkey Muck
Other Side of the Door
Ramblin' with Roger

Thanks, Erick!

My Cinema Autobiography

Picking up where I left off, we come to 1983.

:: I didn't see it until I was a teenager, but I have to mention that Tootsie was released on 17 December 1982, and was the number one movie in America for 11 weeks. It finally got knocked out of the top spot on 18 March 1983 by, of all movies, High Road to China. That kind of thing does not happen anymore. Not at all.

But I didn't see Tootsie in the theater. I was six. The first movie I saw in 1983 was a reissue of Disney's The Sword in the Stone. I think we went to see that at the Ogden 6; it seems like most of the Disney movies we went to see played there, but I might be remembering that wrong. The movie played with a brand new cartoon, Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore, which was the first Pooh short since the early seventies. That's the one where they play "Pooh-sticks," which I remembered from reading on the original Milne books. Friends and I would play that game with pine cones, dropping them in the water to see which would come out from under the bridge first.

I thought I remembered The Sword in the Stone coming out in the winter, but it was the end of March. Still, in Illinois, it's entirely possible to have snow then...

:: That same weekend, Raiders of the Lost Ark was re-released again. Don't know if we went or not; we probably didn't. This was around the time we got our first VCR, which was a JVC and which worked fine for the next 20 or so years. Raiders was the first movie we ever owned.

The big movie of that year was, of course, Return of the Jedi. That came out Memorial Day weekend, and the Fox Valley Theater was packed. What really surprised me about the movie was the title; I had seen that Revenge of the Jedi poster that came out in 1982 teasing the film.

But that was the summer of Jedi. It was the only one of the Star Wars scores we actually bought--on record, no less, and I still have it--and I had so much merchandise from the movie. My favorite, which I no longer have, was this sweet model set of Jabba's entire throne room. That was my favorite part of the movie; I also re-created the whole thing with action figures. I had so many of them, before my Mom inevitably sold them at a garage sale when I was out of town, at Boy Scout camp or my Grandma's or something. My pride was having Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band, because I really wanted to build up as much of Jabba's Palace as I could. I had Jabba with Salacious Crumb, I had bounty hunters and aliens and Gammorean Guards and undercover Lando and Leia and droids and the Rancor... all kinds of good stuff. I guess I miss those...

You know the same weekend Jedi was released, E.T. had been playing for 51 weeks? Today, it would have been out on DVD the previous December.

My Mom particularly loved Return of the Jedi, and there were a lot of days that summer when Mom would just sort of say "You kids want to go see Jedi again?" and we'd be off. I lost track of how many times we saw it on its first release--7 or 8, I think. I didn't go see Octopussy or Superman III that summer, like a lot of my friends did, but I went to see Return of the Jedi over and over and over. It was 7 year-old heaven.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was reissued on 15 July; that would've been the weekend I turned 7. I'm pretty sure we went to see this.

:: You know, looking at the box office history of that summer, I didn't go see any other movie but Return of the Jedi, several times, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, one time.

Back then, it seemed like movies were a summer treat. We'd go see some movies during the year, but I'd get excited about the summer because I knew we'd be allowed to go more often.

... Wow, I'm starting to get a sense of why I remember each summer by a big movie from my childhood. I didn't go see any other movie in 1983. Huh. I remember my parents going on movie dates a number of times, though--I know they went to see a couple of movies that year that my sister and I wouldn't have been allowed to go to. We had some nice babysitters, though. I think Mindy and Marnie, the high school twins on the opposite corner, set the tone for my sexual hang-ups for the rest of my life...

:: I am 100% sure we went to see The Rescuers when it was reissued in January 1984, because I remember drawing pictures of Bernard and Bianca.

Splash opened on 9 March, and I think that must be the first theatrical movie I saw with any nudity in it. I remember the whole family going and my Mom being a little shocked that this was a Disney movie (the first Touchstone release) and it being a little more off-color than she expected. My Mom has a puritanical streak, though. Jayne enjoyed the movie because it had a mermaid, and I thought it was funny and that Daryl Hannah was pretty. I always found it funny, even then, that Tom Hanks tries to explain to Daryl Hannah why she can't call herself Madison, and yet he's talking to a woman named Daryl.

Also, there are, like, a thousand Madisons now. Thanks, Splash.

We did not, however, go see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which is personally my favorite Indy film. My parents must've heard that this one was shockingly gory and disturbing or whatever, so we kids didn't get to go. We had to see it when it came out on video. Kind of silly to look back on it now and think this was a controversial movie.

Most controversies like this are pretty ridiculous, and it all comes from a total misunderstanding of what kids can see and how they'll process it. Like this new thing where a perfectly innocent, pretty funny video of Katy Perry and Elmo on Sesame Street has been banned now because parents complained and the Children's Television Workshop stupidly caved because Katy Perry had cleavage. Seriously? It's not like she was doing a striptease, she was just wearing something that had cleavage. Is Sesame Street under Sharia law now, or something? Parents are worried about all the wrong things.

Wow! 8th June 1984 is the day both Ghostbusters AND Gremlins came out! I went to see both of those movies multiple times that summer. I was obsessed with both of them. Gee, Ghostbusters must have been the most swear-filled movie I'd seen at that point. That summer, I was busting ghosts and taking my toy Gizmo with me wherever I went (the one I lost track of, and a replica of which my fairy godmother found for me on eBay). We used to take our big, plastic Masters of the Universe swords, tie them to backpacks with jump ropes, and pretend those were our proton packs. That's quite a summer, man.

And then, on 13 July, both The Last Starfighter and The Muppets Take Manhattan were released. I went to see both of those as well, of course. The Last Starfighter must've been something we saw for my birthday, because I remember that after we saw the movie at a matinee, we went over to Toys 'R' Us, which was in the same parking lot, and we bought the board game Crossbows and Catapults. Does anyone remember this game?

This was some awesome stuff.

Also awesome? This:

This blew me away as a kid, and it still blows me away. Looking at it now, with Jim Henson dying just six years later and no Muppet movie made again in his lifetime, it adds a layer of sadness and memorial, especially to the lyrics "Days go passing into years/Years go passing day by day," and on the pullback shot where we see so many of Jim and company's Muppets in the same frame, including Traveling Matt Fraggle (nice touch). It almost feels like a goodbye to the Muppets, as Jim focused on other projects like Fraggle Rock and the characters became more familiar as Muppet Babies.

:: On 27 July, Disney reissued The Jungle Book. We went to see it, but I always thought this was earlier, like in 1981 or something. Weird. This was one of my favorite Disney movies. Still is.

:: You know, I didn't realize that Cloak and Dagger, with Henry Thomas and Dabney Coleman, actually came out in theaters. I saw it on local TV so many times as a kid I always thought it was a made-for-TV movie.

Then, for Christmas, we went to see the reissue of Pinocchio that profoundly scared me. This is another movie that I weirdly remember being on VHS, but I'm not sure it was. Was our video store renting bootlegs, or something?

Oh, children of today... my childhood at the movies was so much better than yours.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chicago Is Without Elephants

This girl is Joyce. She was the last remaining elephant in Chicago, but she was shipped home yesterday to her original owners at a Six Flags park in New Jersey. Her companion, Christy, died in December. The Lincoln Park Zoo's three elderly elephants died six years ago. Now, for the first time since 1889, there are no elephants in Chicago.

The Brookfield Zoo says they're going to renovate an indoor elephant exhibit and bring elephants back to the zoo, and I really hope this happens sooner. I worry, because the zoo has seemed a little depopulated the last few times I've been there. It's been bad enough that there were no walruses anymore, but a zoo without elephants? Jeez, why don't you just take the tigers away, too?

This is a depressing day.

Harlan Ellison Is Preparing for the End

I was a little nervous when I read that Harlan Ellison's original typewriter was being sold a week or two ago. Then Douglas sent me the link to this article in which HE announces that this upcoming MadCon, where he's the guest of honor, will be his last convention appearance because, he says, "The truth of what's going on here is that I'm dying. I'm like the Wicked Witch of the West -- I'm melting. I began to sense it back in January."

Harlan may be a happy guy--he says so in the article, and who can doubt him, as he's lived one hell of a life and lived it on his own terms the way he's wanted to--but I am very saddened to hear him say that. He feels he's finished his last piece and won't be producing any more writing. As the man is my favorite writer--fuck, he's my personal hero--I'm sorry to hear that, too.

But what a body of work he's got already! Jesus, the man is 76 years old, and as much as I want him to live forever--you know, physically--it was bound to happen that one day he either wouldn't or couldn't put pen to paper anymore. But I will always have his books, his stories, his essays, his columns, his recordings. He'll never be gone in my mind because he's been a giant of my life and a permanent fixture in my psyche.

And I'll always have the memory of meeting him at a convention... jeez, 14 years ago now. I shook his hand, he signed my books with his fountain pen, and I even made him laugh.

And he's not gone yet, so who knows what might happen in the future?

Still... the idea does make me sad.

TV Report: Returning Shows and Shit My Dad Says

:: I'm very glad to see that The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family and Cougar Town have returned intact. I didn't think Cougar Town really needed the stunt of Jennifer Aniston as a guest star--I don't care for Aniston and I hated Friends--but it wasn't too distracting, even though she's a shitty actress.

Also, I'm not sure about Mayim Bialik on The Big Bang Theory. Even though I thought it was hilarious that Penny ended up on a date with Sheldon and his new girlfriend, I think Bialik plays it a little too obviously and without Jim Parsons' wit.

:: 30 Rock was pleasant. It was funny, but not in the satirical way it was a couple of years ago. I didn't think last season was as bad as a lot of critics and bloggers did, but I think it's slid to the point where it's a pleasant, enjoyable show rather than a sharp, hilarious one. I loved Matt Damon as Liz's new boyfriend. I wonder how they'll handle his availability; I hope it's not a plot thread that just flaps in the breeze until it's forgotten. Still, handling it with Matt Damon as an infrequent visitor might be a good idea. Liz can sometimes get too pathetic in unraveling her relationships quickly, so having him there a little at a time might make for some interesting, funny plots instead of the same old.

:: The lip dub on the opening of The Office made me cringe. After last season, which had a gigantic share of terrible moments, lost threads, and unrealized potential, it seems like the show is still assuming it can do no wrong and that people love it. For me, it's just the opposite. The new opening credits sequence reflects where, for me as a viewer, the show's gone wrong: it's all about cartoon characters and wacky hijinks and no longer about characters or observations of office behavior. All the depth has gone out of the characters as every one of them tries to get sillier and sillier moments highlighted on every episode.

I think it's a real shame. The rest of the episode was so-so; I liked the idea of Michael actually having a family member work at the office, since his greatest fear is being alone and without loved ones, but I don't think it worked as well as it might have. Nice to see another former Phil of the Future cast member, though.

It worked a lot better when the characters were tweaked just a pitch above realism, and then watching them react to Michael's insanity or Dwight's ridiculous intensity. Now that Michael is a cartoon and Dwight is a psychopath, and every other character has become boring or over the top, I'm just not interested in what happens to any one of them. Erin is a cartoon with nothing to do. Andy is a cartoon with nothing to do. Kelly used to be funny because she was pitched so high and was so irritating; now everyone's at her level. The only adds I like right now are Daryl being in the office (which has yet to really be exploited for humor) and Gabe appearing more often. However, he's dating Erin, and I don't care about Erin.

This show is running on fumes. If it's still this bad in May, I'm going to just dump the show altogether since Steve Carell won't be on next year.

During that opening lip dub, Becca turned to me and asked: "Can a show jump the shark twice?"

Like I've said before, the days of Oscar having a Great Gazoo of his own are coming. Nothing's too over the top for this show. Apparently it just wants to be The Drew Carey Show now.

:: And then there's Shit My Dad Says.

Honestly, I didn't think it was the abomination most critics are making it out to be: it's just seriously, seriously lame. A really weak pot of coffee.

Really, it can only work as a Twitter feed. The Twitter feed is hilarious. Doing it as a sitcom... well, first they have to cover the title, then they have to tone down the language, then they have to hire writers to create feel-good plots about generational understanding around the one-liners, and then they have to shore it up with what seems like completely random casting. It's a thrown-together cash-in on a fad. So it's exactly what you expect it would be.

Now, that said, I really liked William Shatner on it. He's on a shit show, and I think he knows it, but he's giving a very interesting performance to me. They try a little too hard to humanize the character, reaching a little too far into the obvious instead of giving us little moments. And pieces of the script are timed pretty well. I'm not going to say this show's actually good, because it really isn't, but I just didn't hate it.

By far, the worst aspect of the show is the casting. The guy who plays the lead (I can't be arsed to look up his name right now) is terrible. He's unlikable, unsympathetic, and doesn't seem to have the concept of sitcom acting down. The fact that he's actually a recast is a little crazy to me, since I can't imagine anyone else being more of a blank hole in the screen.

But I'm going to watch it a bit longer because I liked Shatner on it. I know the show's lame, but hey, do I come down on you for watching Two and a Half Men?

Another Note on Sabrina and Hell's Kitchen

I don't know why this happens, but I received a comment on my earlier Hell's Kitchen post and when I went to reply to it, the comment had completely disappeared. I don't know if the person deleted it or not, but this is the comment:

Ok in response to your Sabrina comments. First off, it is not a faux wigger attitude. I grew up with her I have known her since the day I was born. There is nothing faux about Sabrina she is 100% real. And as to you calling her a cunt...THE SHOW IS COMPETITIVE!!!! She is supposed to be a bitch. Chef Ramsey is a total ass hole and no one says that they don't want to watch the show because of him. I am sure that his attitude just like Sabrina's comes completely naturally. All us little white girls from Moreno Valley come with attitudes and excuse me but what gang speak? If a black lady on the show says ain't does that mean shes using gang speak? NO! So why is it that Sabrina is using gang speak?? And another thing Lisa should have gone home because she was slow as hell in the kitchen and slightly slow in the head. Sabrina was the only one that was really fast in the kitchen. It's a competitive show and you are supposed to hold nothing back which is exactly what Sabrina did. And as a woman I find your use of the word cunt extremely offensive. Use a dictionary next time and find some more politically correct insults to use. If she was black you wouldn''t have said nigger so don't call her a wigger.

Well, first off, I don't think Gordon Ramsey is an asshole and I never have, because what he does on Hell's Kitchen is constructive. It has a purpose: to test potential chefs to see how they handle pressure. If he is on occasion an asshole, he's at least earned that right: he's one of the greatest and most successful chefs in the world. He's proven himself.

As to your assumptions that I think someone using "ain't" is gang speak, extrapolate it however you want. I get lots of comments telling me how impolite I am. They generally just tend to make me laugh, as they all carry the same attitude: they see me say something, make general assumptions as to my thought process, and then lecturing me for doing the same thing to someone else.

I find it hilarious that someone who dresses like the world's dowdiest librarian suddenly, when she thinks she's threatened, throws down with the wigga fingas and says things like "I think it shoul' be YO' ASS!" It's just funny to me. That kind of shit has always been funny to me, because it's all a front.

Yes, I actually said in the piece you commented on that Lisa should have gone home because she was slow. I agree with that. But I think Ramsey was right when he pegged Sabrina as selfish, and I want her to go home quickly because her selfish attitude is sabotaging her team and sabotaging her own chances. Sabrina was fast, sure--but she was too fast. She was so fast she set her entire team back because she wasn't listening and wasn't working with her team in a constructive way.

I'll be perfectly honest and say that the only evidence I have of Sabrina as a person is from two episodes of a heavily-edited TV show, so why do you assume I'm making judgments about Sabrina's worth as a person instead of, say, as a character persona on a television series. I don't know her personally--based on what I see on TV, I don't want to know her personally--but I can tell you my honest reactions to what I see on the show. And on the show, she comes across as a person who thinks she can do everything herself and that she's better than everyone else and doesn't need to listen or learn anything from anyone. It's an attitude I find unpleasant. It's rude and irritating. She appears to have no trust or faith in anyone else, and that is going to make it very hard for her to work in a team.

I'm sure you disagree with me, because you actually know Sabrina and I don't. But it's only an opinion of one guy on one blog and you'll get over it, because you know her and I can only go by what I see on television. Maybe she's a sweetheart who's just colorful. I'm not judging her as a person, I'm judging her as a reality show competitor.

Regarding the word "cunt," I said in the post itself that I knew women found it offensive. That was the whole point. I needed to use an offensive term to describe my total distaste. I'm not sure what the "politically correct" term for "cunt" actually is, but I don't really care, either. I choose my words for a reason. I don't need to use a dictionary--although a thesaurus is what you're actually referring to--to find another word. I used that word on purpose. Just like I chose "wigger" on purpose.

You can tell me that you don't like a word I used, but don't tell me what I would and wouldn't say.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

TV Report: More Fox Stuff

:: I watched Raising Hope, which seems like a cross between My Name Is Earl and Malcolm in the Middle. I don't think I'm going to be watching it again. It's too measured and calculated, a tired mix of characters we're supposed to be grossed out by, until the final act, when the sentiment overflows and humanizes everyone and we're supposed to feel all warm inside. Meh.

:: Running Wilde isn't a patch on Arrested Development, which I knew it wouldn't be as soon as people started hyping it up as the triumphant reunion of Mitchell Hurwitz and Will Arnett. Some genuinely funny moments, but it's also trying too hard to be all sentimental and nice, and it's not really earning it. Something about it seems like it's trying too hard. It's not terrible, and I'll probably watch it for a little while, but it has "early cancellation" written all over it. We'll see what happens when it's American Idol time again.

:: Speaking of, I saw the picture going around featuring Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson, and new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler... and that was the moment I knew I was completely finished with American Idol.

Hell's Kitchen Again: Some Thoughts on the Premiere

:: What is with these opening credits? This whole Gulliver's Travels theme is insane.

:: This whole cast is insane. It's like this cycle they decided to do a parody of a reality show instead of just a reality show. Barely anyone can cook, and their personalities are so over-the-top I'm really starting to wonder how much of this is staged now. (I've always assumed some, but this is the first time--other than Gordon's ludicrous disguise from a few cycles ago, riding in with the contestants on the bus--that it's been distracting.)

:: WHERE THE HELL IS JP? I'm sure James is a nice guy, but come on, it's just not Hell's Kitchen without Jean-Phillipe!

:: As usual, Gordon was... weird when it came to the women. First, he's "too distracted" by Emily's breasts to concentrate on food, then he basically terrifies Antonia into an ambulance and off of the show, and then, when faced with a chance to send home the two worst contestants on the show, he instead picks, surprise, the oldest woman in the competition. He lets a 49 year-old guy stay--a guy who seems on the verge of a complete mental breakdown--but sends the woman home under his usual "can't teach an old dog new tricks" reasoning...

(And yes, granted, Lisa was veeerrryyy sloooow, but still, it just keeps happening over and over that he sets his sights right on the oldest woman in the place.)

:: So, let's talk about Raj. Is this an actor doing some kind of weird improv piece, or something? I can't figure out what the hell is going on with this guy. He can't cook, he can't be a team player, and his exuberance seems like a front for a total lack of personality. The guy is nuts. He's a personal chef? To whom? I figure he's the personal chef of some kind of eccentric 18th century Arab chieftain who has real chefs but keeps Raj around as a sort of unofficial court jester because he finds this guy's antics so amusing.

Honestly, I think the only reason he didn't get eliminated is that the producers want to keep him around to see how bizarre it'll get. Insanity ensues...

:: I fucking despise Sabrina and her faux-wigger attitude. She's a spoiled, entitled little princess and she drops the gang-speak whenever she feels threatened. She is just awful, and she's going to end up stabbing everyone in the back, even Jillian (even though Sabrina's "her girl"), for as long as she's on. (And again, the producers are obviously keeping her there for dramatics.) I know you ladies don't care for this word, but Sabrina is truly a cunt.

"Nona snores, so she's good for nothing, blah blah, I'm a huge bitch." Oh, and telling Gordon that he should eliminate Lisa because Lisa's "spent" and "I'm young, the world is my oyster?" Yeah, cunt.

And are those glasses fake? She's always looking over them. She does seem to love the act of looking down on people.

And I also look down immediately on anyone who uses what I should call the Benjamin Critique: "You don't know anything about fine dining!" Oi, go fuck yourself.

:: I have no comment on Jillian's tattooed-on eyebrows. Maybe she lost the real ones in a fire or something.

:: Come on, we couldn't get just 60 more seconds of Iron Chef Morimoto making sushi? I know it's a competition show, but just spotlight the cooking just, like, a little.

:: Gail's "I'm so ka-YOOOT!" attitude is a little grating.

:: The second dinner service was somehow worse than the first. Jesus, Vinny, 40 minutes to take ONE ticket? And Raj, are you all there, or what? And then Vinny telling customers not to order sides... dude, selling out a co-worker that way always comes back to bite you in the ass. I'm amazed Vinny wasn't dismissed right then and there. And then Emily... doesn't know how to cook meat? Why did you come on Hell's Kitchen, then?

And all of the screaming and crap afterwards? And then it looks like someone, what, gets stabbed next week? What the hell, man?

:: So far, I know who I hate, but I don't know who I like. I'm digging Nona on the women's side. On the men's side, it always takes time to go through the egos, but I think Louis seems okay. I don't know.

Obama Getting Heckled (Again)

He's really losing the LGBT voters. In response to this incident, Obama said: "Some of those signs should be going up at the other folks' events, and folks should be hollering at the other folks' event. Because the choice in November could not be clearer."

Really? Because I think a lot of people see a muddled mess right now, and I'm really interested to see what the turnout's going to be in November.

Also: "When I was running for office … maybe we gave people the wrong impression about how change happens."

Political lesson for the day: don't make promises you can't (or won't) keep, because when you don't deliver, you lose your support.

Of course, ridiculing your base doesn't help, either...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Film Week

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

Unsurprisingly, it's even worse than the first. It suffers from a problem too many sequels do, which is that there are just too many characters. And in raising the stakes for some, others get pushed into the background. You can tell Disney spent more money on this one than they did the first one, but there are zero memorable songs this time and the characters are completely out of character. Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers aren't playing their characters from Camp Rock, they're playing their characters from their respective TV series. I didn't think they could go downhill from the first movie, which was really awful, but they sure managed to. There's not even a point or a cheesy moral lesson in this one; it's just there to sell CDs and merchandise, and to worship Demi Lovato for being Demi Lovato. Hell, they even completely reverse the point of the first movie, which is that the mean girl was mean for making talented girls just sing back-up; in this one, they just become Demi's back-up. A waste of space. * star.

Happy Birthday, Joan

Random Thoughts

"The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy -- a policy worthy of imitation. ...
"It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens ...
"May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants -- while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid."

President George Washington wrote that in a letter to American Jews during his first year in office. No Jewish temples were allowed in Manhattan until 1730. So, to use some right wing rhetoric here, tell me what you presume the "framers of the Constitution" would feel about an America that is actually having this offensive pretend controversy over whether Muslims can be "allowed" to build a community center in Manhattan around a prayer room that's already there?

They always claim to be so concerned with what the Founding Fathers meant when they wrote the Constitution, but when it comes to the parts about freedom and equality, they consistently prove that they haven't so much as glanced at the document. They want to find it offensive that Muslims would dare worship anywhere near the sacred site of Ground Zero, despite the fact (and they probably don't even know this) that there was a Muslim prayer room inside the World Trade Center and that over 100 Muslims died on 9/11--innocent victims of men who didn't care who they killed as long as they killed a lot of people.

The people who use this to further divide people and win the approval of the hateful and ignorant who continue to vote for them know exactly what they're doing, and they frankly don't care about anyone's feelings here. They only know that this is the kind of issue that will keep people distracted and screechy and watching Fox Noise and voting Republican. The bigger controversy to me is the idea of building a shopping center on Ground Zero. The remains of over 1100 people still haven't been found, but putting a Starbuck's on top of their ashes is a more fitting and sacred tribute to the deaths of thousands than a place where people will pray?

And this is coming from an atheist: I would rather have people--of any religion--praying for peace and love and tolerance or even for the Bears to win the Superbowl at the site of Ground Zero than another monument to greed and commercial interests.

But the idea that we're having a national discussion over whether or not American citizens should be "allowed" a fundamental human right that gets a pretty important spotlight in our Constitution is just beyond offensive. Is this America, or not?

I challenge anyone who's against the Islamic prayer room at the former Burlington Coat Factory to just be honest and say "I don't believe there should be religious freedom in America."

:: Speaking of discussions that make America look inhuman, I guess I'm not surprised to see the effort to repeal DADT get shot down. John McCain can seriously go fuck himself.

:: I don't really give a shit about Christine O'Donnell. Surprise, surprise, the Teatards went and found another pretty idiot to say wildly stupid things. (And by the way, she's 41 and never been married, and we're supposed to believe she's a virgin who never masturbates? Sure, whatever you say.)

Actually, the thing that I think is funny about her is all the talk from right wing pundits about how O'Donnell is going to have this big, upset victory. She didn't even get a majority of registered Republicans in Delaware. She got 30,000 votes. BFD. Let's have the media shut up about how O'Donnell is this new major player in politics and start calling her out for being a total moron.

A better focal point of outrage? Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier WWII historian David Irving is now leading lectured tours through Auschwitz, Treblinka, and the former site of the Warsaw Ghetto, which he believes is, get this, "less of a tourist trap" than Auschwitz.

:: Speaking of Nazis, by now you've heard some of the blithering stupidity Pope Ratzi was on about during his trip to Britain. Typically, he offered a hand of friendship while aggressively attacking atheism and secularism because, let's face it, less Catholics means less people paying to maintain his wealthy, pompous, medieval lifestyle. Maybe the news about the Church of England just hasn't crossed his desk yet...

Anyway, my favorite bit is where he claimed that the Holocaust happened because of some mythical Nazi desire to eradicate God. Yes, atheism caused the Holocaust because, as we all know, there were no Catholic Nazis.

I guess those bishops are there to somehow discredit the Vatican. The same Vatican that refused to condemn the Nazi invasion of Poland or publicly denounce the mass extermination of Jews and in some cases used the backdrop of the Holocaust as an attempt to gain converts.

This resulted in a protest against the presence of such an outdated thing as the Pope. A couple of my favorite signs:

An organization that STILL denounces gays while harboring criminals has no business talking about how it should have reign over people, and that only through it can people know goodness and morality.

And rewriting history this blatantly is just despicable.

:: Here's a fun number: 50.3. That's the percentage of pre-tax income that's accounted for by the top fifth of households in the US. But the right has still got thousands of stupid poor people demanding that those rich people--who took their Bush tax cuts and invested in the economies of other countries--should get even more tax breaks. You're fighting to keep yourselves poor, idiots.

One out of every seven Americans lives in poverty right now. And that's according to a poverty line that has always seemed totally misleading to me. The only thing keeping the poverty rate from being higher is extended unemployment benefits. And those are going to run out.

The New York Times is also reporting that a high number of unemployed are age 55 or older, and those numbers keep going up. Forget retiring; these people are going to end up living in boxes and eating dog food.

:: Well, the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan has hit the country, and I see that not many people are enthusiastic about it. Because the language regarding structure and coverage is vague, lots of states have brought in private contractors that are still charging huge monthly premiums, especially to the elderly. It does barely anything, and still the Republicans are trying to repeal the entire reform. They'd rather Americans be sicker and poorer than they already are.

When a Republican says they want "choice" or "competition," they are lying. If they wanted choice and competition, they'd want a public option.

By the way, the big insurance companies are already finding a way around the requirement of covering children with preexisting conditions: they're not going to offer child-only policies anymore. Anthem, Aetna, Cigna and Humana will no longer write policies for individual children. So there's your good faith corporate dealing.

It's being reported now that the White House is shocked and upset that private corporations would skirt requirements through loopholes in the name of profit, which creates the picture of an Obama that is just willfully naive. A rep from the White House said that insurers should keep their promises. Yes. Lots of people should.

This isn't the last time we're going to hear about something like this happening. Now that we're all, by law, forced to buy insurance from these same unscrupulous companies, we should all be a little scared right now.

:: "Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get — to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed — oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. [...] And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and — (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.)" -- President Obama

Let's review this excellent strategy, Mr. President: (a) ridicule your base just before the midterm elections, and (b) make sure to bring up health care reform and war, two places where your administration has lost the center as well as the left, while doing it.

That's not just "it's time to turn the page." That's just stupidly waving your genitals in our faces so that other people will laugh at you.

That's just being an asshole.

:: Do you suppose this jackass and his team of geniuses have any idea what kind of political strategy they need to enact now? A lot of us saw this coming when the Republicans started trying to obstruct just to obstruct. They're the party of irresponsible nihilism, and it was obvious when they started crying "demagogue" and "socialist" and "Kenyan" and "death panels" that they were going to lie as loud and as often as they had to. They want their power back, and they're destroying the middle class and the economy in order to do it, so it's not a big surprise that they're being taken over by Teatard assholes who are just flat out crazy.

Progressives are losing their credibility here, and it's because Obama is basically a conservative and he's letting the right trash him as some kind of ultra-liberal, and he's setting real liberal causes back at least a generation. The Democratic Party barely exists, anyways, and they're about to be wiped out by the most anti-democracy American movement of my lifetime.

I am just so sick of being denigrated by a president I voted for, and that I and the majority of people in this country handed a mandate to fix a lot of problems in this country. Obama has repeatedly ridiculed and ignored the problems and embraced timidity.

I am so sick of you, sir.

This kind of shit is what's going to get Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin elected in 2012.

(Just kidding.)

(I hope.)

:: Oh, and I didn't appreciate Joe Biden appearing on Rachel Maddow to tell progressives to "get in gear" and start helping the Democrats stay in power. "There's a great deal at stake." Oh, really? Nice of you to finally notice. If you have a second, can you tell the President that?

An "enthusiasm gap"? Hell yeah, there is.

If you want progressives to mobilize, how about giving them a truly progressive candidate? Or some truly progressive legislation? How about not ridiculing them when you get the chance?

"Get in gear."

You first.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TV Report: Some Random Stuff

:: Last night's season premiere of How I Met Your Mother was better than about 90% of the previous season. Granted, they've still got some work to do to get me to care again about the mother's identity--I still think it doesn't really matter much--but everything was just firing perfectly. Even the fake-out with the wedding (not Ted's, it turns out, and I personally believe it's Barney and Robin's, since he's still obviously in love with her) didn't bug me; I'm intrigued to see where that's going, though I imagine it'll be later in the season, so I hope they don't play with it too much. We're back to Ted's impossible search for love, Marshall and Lily dealing with married couple stuff in a way that isn't full of sitcom tropes, Barney showing more depth than just the cartoon sidekick, and Robin opening herself up to finding romance. Thanks for coming back, guys.

:: I watched Mike & Molly last night... meh. Some of the fat jokes were pretty stupid. I always like Melissa McCarthy (and Katy Mixon), but it didn't really find a balance between cringe-worthy dialogue and the sweet-but-funny romance it clearly wants to be. I think it went to the well of "Let's throw in a fat joke for the audience to laugh at, and it won't be offensive because fat people are saying it as a defense mechanism!" too often. It's typical Chuck Lorre, really: filler that's just funny enough to have on, but not funny enough to go out of your way to see.

:: Another season of True Blood must be over, because I see lots of whining about Sookie and Bill on the internet... I liked it, but if you don't go in expecting the show to be sleazy and dumb (in a possibly unintentionally hilarious way), then what's the point? I'm just glad Jessica and Hoyt are back together.

:: I have Boardwalk Empire sitting on my TiVo, but I haven't gotten a chance to watch it yet.

:: It was nice to see new episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Star Wars: The Clone Wars on TV again. And yes, I am excited that this week's Clone Wars is going to be a Jar Jar episode.

:: Did anyone else watch the premiere of Sym-Bionic Titan on Cartoon Network? I really dug Genndy Tartakovsky's new show almost as much as I dug Samurai Jack. Really good stuff. I usually don't go for shows like this, but it was really enjoyable.

Monday, September 20, 2010

More Nostalgia

Since riding the nostalgia train the other day, I decided to take a look just for the hell of it and managed to find a picture of the Secret of NIMH lunchbox that I had when I was a kid:

Obviously this isn't mine--I don't think mine survived in any kind of decent condition, since we used to just drop them on the ground and such--but this is what I had. Weird how this one especially stands out for me so vividly. I don't think anyone else at my school actually had this one. It's not like it was incredibly popular.

I also had this Dark Crystal lunchbox. I'm really not sure why these two stand out for me more than any other. It's probably because they were kind of unique; no one else had these. My whole life, I've always liked these weird movies that no one else did. I didn't know a single other person who liked The Last Unicorn, for example, until I met Becca.

Just for the heck of it, I also found a shot of the Clash of the Titans figures on the excellent Plaid Stallions.

I had Perseus and Pegasus. I think they used to end up being aliens when my Star Wars figures visited strange new planets.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Song of the Week: "Down by the Sally Gardens"

I grew up with Roger Whittaker's album Folk Songs of Our Time, and I get a nostalgic for it in the autumn. It's been cold and rainy here the last couple of days, and I needed to hear some of it. Since the album's never been on CD, I'm grateful to find this track on YouTube. Sure, it's not everyone's thing, but it means a lot to me. Just don't ask me why this clip (which is a still frame) goes on for six minutes when the song is barely two and a half minutes.


After seeing one of those commercials about patenting your billion dollar idea and then being surrounded by women and yachts and such.

ME: That's what I need to do. Come up with my billion dollar idea so random women will want to fuck me.

BECCA: You can fuck whoever you want as long as I get to share in this billion dollars.

ME: Oh, I don't want to fuck other women, I just want them to want to fuck me. Television has taught me that's the whole point of being rich. That's why I'm going to vote for Republican tax cuts, obviously.

Happy Birthday, Lita