Saturday, November 11, 2006

This Is What Happens When I Get Left Home Alone and There's Nothing on Television

So, I got a little bored and decided to do this MyHeritage face recognition thing that everyone thinks is so cool. Basically, you feed your picture into it, and the program scans celebrity faces and tells you who you look like. But first I had to take a good picture of myself. Well, a picture of myself. A good one isn't really going to happen, especially this late in the day. So I took this one:

Ooh, ouch. Look at that haggard, tired visage. Wake up, motherfucker! Then I got a little too animated, and this one came out:

Mug for the camera, bitch! Actually, I kind of like this one. If I'm stuck looking like this, I might as well enjoy it.

And just for the hell of it, here's one where I tried to look scary. Sadly, this is what my driver's license photo looks like:

Lumberjack drifter slays vacationing family of five in log cabin terror! Just look away... It's not pretty...

So, here are my celebrity lookalikes.

Fat guy looks like Robbie Coltrane; that's not too obvious. I'll try it sometime when I've actually shaved and see if it yields slightly different results. Well, at least now I have a really stupid icebreaker with Patricia Arquette. But dude, from now on I'm totally going to tell the girls I meet online that I look like Beyonce. Boys, too. If anyone has Jonathan Rhys-Myers's phone number, let me know.

The Bible Summarized by a Smartass, Part Seven: Deuteronomy

Argh, this reiteration of the law is taking forever! And since nothing different happens in Deuteronomy, let's blow through this at a fair pace.

Chapters One through Four
Moses, knowing he will not cross the Jordan with his people, recaps the story of the last three books for those Israelites who have yet to receive the print version. He places emphasis on God’s laws.

Chapters Five through Ten
Moses reiterates pretty much every law we’ve already read in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. The reason to keep God’s laws is not, once again, to make the world a better place, but because God has that whole murdering-everyone habit. He makes it clear that God considers everyone too stupid to achieve anything on their own, and that man lives not by bread alone but by the word of God, which seems truly impractical. Unless the word of God can pay my student loans, cuz that would be great. Moses, like most old men, starts to gripe about getting the credit he feels he deserves. Fear God and love strangers.

Chapters Eleven through Thirteen
Except the strangers in Canaan. Kill all of them. And don’t drink any blood (Moses and God are really hung up on that one). Don’t trust people who want you to worship their Gods. Like Jehovah’s Witnesses? If some religious guy comes to your door to convert you, throw Deuteronomy 13 on them and watch their brains shift gears without the clutch.

Chapters Fourteen through Sixteen
Man, they could have cut nearly this entire book. This is all the same stuff about laws, consecration, and Passover that we’ve heard before.

Chapters Seventeen and Eighteen
Moses affirms the power of the judges and the divine right of kings as chosen by God. He sets the Levites apart as some sort of thug class to carry out the will of the priests.

Chapters Nineteen through Twenty-One
Moses blahs the blah to the boogedy bee. This is like being trapped in a really boring civic planning meeting.

Chapters Twenty-Two through Twenty-Five
Just like all religious leaders, Moses can’t resist making a bunch of weird, creepy laws about sex. Women aren’t allowed to wear men’s clothes (it’s apparently “abhorrent” and not “dead sexy”). Sex before marriage is punishable by death. A man with no penis is dead to God, as are bastards (to the tenth generation). Also abhorrent? Men remarrying the same woman. You’re supposed to cut off a woman’s hand if she grabs a man’s genitals, instead of holding her close and making out with her. There’s also an implied threat that God will turn people into lepers for not keeping the laws.

Chapters Twenty-Six through Thirty
The Israelites agree to honor God’s laws and Moses details (very minutely) the punishment for not doing whatever God says. It’s all pretty violent and awful, all culminating in a return to slavery in Egypt.

Chapters Thirty-One through Thirty-Four
Moses reveals he will die soon and makes Joshua the new leader. Then God comes to Moses and, instead of comforting his dying servant, tells him that the Israelites are going to fail anyway. They write a song about how great God is and what jerks the Israelites are, and there are long passages about God’s violent curses. Then Moses blesses his people and dies without ever getting to see the Promised Land he worked so hard to get to. So, to sum up the entirety of Deuteronomy: All the laws you already knew, plus the foretelling of another prophet and the death of Moses. Thanks, then, I guess.

There, it's done. Now enjoy your Saturday. Choose life, not the Bible. Next week: The Book of Joshua. Finally, a new lead character! Please, will something just HAPPEN already!!!

Trailers the Fourth

Judging movies by the crappy lead-in ads.

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (11/10)
My biggest problem with the trailer is that they refer to the director of the disappointing, desperate-to-be-conventional, ruined-by-a-shitty-phony-ending Secretary as a “visionary.” But as much as my instinct says to stay away from this movie, the preview was absolutely intriguing. Hey, it’s a movie about freaks, how am I going to not see this?

Casino Royale (11/17)
How can the full trailer be even more boring than the teaser? Sorry, Bond, but we’re through.

Happy Feet (11/17)
The longer trailers have been making this movie look a lot better than the teasers did. Although, once again, I have to point this out as one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen:


Déjà Vu (11/22)
You know, I think in this case, I could just make a list of things I’d rather try to pass through my bowels than be subjected to another awful Tony Scott movie.

The Fountain (11/22)
I’m still not sure what to expect from this, and I don’t really care for Darren Aronofsky, but the trailer is absolutely fascinating. I really, really want to see this movie.

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (11/22)
Boy, Kyle Gass looks good with that hair. There’s no way I wouldn’t go see this, frankly. Rock ‘n’ roll and Jack Black, man.

Deck the Halls (11/22)
Ah, for a second I was worried that we weren’t going to get this year’s fascist attempt to force everyone into being as miserable as the Jesus Enthusiasts by celebrating Consumermas. But here it is. I think in all good conscience, if you really care about your fellow man, everyone should just stop going to see movies like this.

The Nativity Story (12/1)
The teaser has absolutely nothing in it, but I’m intrigued by the names involved alone: Catherine Hardwicke, Keisha Castle-Hughes, and Shohreh Aghdashloo.

Blood Diamond (12/8)
My first reaction is that this is going to be too silly to take seriously. But I want it to be good; there’s something about the quality of the trailer that pulled me in to it. Plus I love Djimon Hounsou, and I hate it when he ends up in crap. If it’s not too preachy or too cartoonish, it looks like it might be interesting.

Unaccompanied Minors (12/8)
Oh, what fresh hell is this? And why does it have Lewis Black in it? He’s supposed to be too funny to be in crap about kids stuck at the airport with no adults! This looks like one of those late period John Hughes pieces of junk, only somehow dumber. Maybe because those movies are 20 years old and modern filmmakers are supposed to know better.

Eragon (12/15)
You know, it wasn’t that long ago that I was lamenting that there wouldn’t be any big budget fantasy films anymore. And now they’re so common that they’re actually starting to look fatuous, silly, and boring to me. This movie looks like Star Wars Episode 7: The Lord of Harry Potter’s Matrix, and frankly it doesn’t look that good. This movie is based on a book written by a smug child, as adapted by the triumphant screenwriting team who subjected us to The Legend of Billie Jean, The Jewel of the Nile, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, The Desperate Hours, For Love or Money, The Beverly Hillbillies, Mercury Rising, Mighty Joe Young, Planet of the Apes, Mona Lisa Smile, and Flicka. This couldn’t look worse if Uwe Boll were directing. In fact, it might look better that way.

Charlotte’s Web (12/20)
I read this book, unaccompanied by an adult, when I was five. I’ve loved it ever since. Now someone’s chosen to take it and load it with fart jokes and new characters so that annoying actors can have pointless cameo voices. The trailer alternates between being full of itself and ineptly trying to add modern touches for today’s ignorant viewers. The trailer also, um, steals a lot of the Babe trailer, right down to the use of Saint-Saens’s Carnival of the Animals on the soundtrack. And casting Julia Roberts as the voice of Charlotte A. Cavatica? A death sentence. In my head Charlotte doesn’t have a passionless, cold, dead, mumbling, self-important, condescending voice with zero inflection.

The Good Shepherd (12/22)
This movie about the origins of the CIA looks much more interesting to me than the new James Bond movie. I sat there riveted to the trailer alone, and if the movie manages to work up that level of interest, I’m set. Plus the cast is potentially top-notch. Do you realize this will be Joe Pesci’s first movie role since Lethal Weapon 4? That’s eight years, folks.

Dreamgirls (12/25)
Besides being able to guess the entire story from the premise, much less the trailer, I just haven’t liked what I’ve seen from Beyonce as an actress thus far. This is from the director of Gods and Monsters, though, so it warrants some attention, I think.

Catch and Release (1/26)
I like Jennifer Garner, and I remember thinking the movie looked okay when I saw this trailer, but know I can’t remember a single thing that happened in it.

Spider-Man 3 (5/4)
As I said yesterday: squealed like a little girl. And did you hear Bruce Campbell cameos as Mysterio?

50 Questions About Music

Another music meme. I’m a man of limited interests.

1. What are you listening to right now?
Brian Wilson, “Life Is for the Living.”

2. What song makes you sad?
Oh, lots of them. I’m one of those dorks who gets terribly depressed over “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” Any of the songs they played at my sister’s funeral will do it, especially Jessica Simpson’s “Angels.”

3. What is the most annoying song in the world?
So many Black-Eyed Peas songs to choose from…

4. Your all time favorite band?
The Beach Boys, of course.

5. Your newly discovered band is?
There’s not a band I’ve really discovered recently that I can think of. I’m more of a seventies man.

6. Best female voice?
Susanna Hoffs.

7. Best male voice?
David Bowie.

8. Music type you find yourself listening to most?

9. What do you listen to, to hype you up?
Psychedelic sixties music.

10. What do you listen to, to calm down?

11. Last gig/concert you went to?
I’ve only been to one concert in my life: Siouxsie & the Banshees.

12. Band you find yourself listening to the most?
The Beach Boys, or the Rolling Stones.

13. Most hated band?
Most of the new emo shit. And the Black-Eyed Peas, who are endlessly worthy of hatred.

14. Song that makes you think?
All of it does. Everything reminds me of something or lends me a possibility in my head.

15. Band that you think the world should love as much as you do?
Pick any underappreciated glam band from the seventies. The Beach Boys between 1966 and 1976. Most of the psychedelic bands from the sixties.

16. Coolest music video?
A certain part of me wants to say any video with Gwen Stefani in it… Probably my favorite music video of all time is David Lee Roth’s “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody.”

17. Can you play a musical instrument?
Not yet.

18. Ever been in a mosh pit?
No. I have many other ways to abuse my high blood pressure.

19. Are you in a band?
I wish. Band names: Earthling; Peppermint Dykedelic; Ant Rap; the Electric Twangers; Super Karate Monkey Death Car; Hyperactive Cartoon Hardcore.

20. Ever dated a musician?
No. But I always thought I’d make a great boyfriend for someone like Patti Smith or my darling Bebe Buell.

21. Do you wish yourself that you were a musician?
Yes, and not just any musician: Jack Black.

22. Last song that you heard on the radio, etc?
What’s a radio?

23. What do you think of classical music?
God, I love classical music. It fills me and powers my blood. If you opened my chest, Bedrich Smetana’s Ma Vlast would come out.

24. What do you think of country music?
Real country music or Nashville pop? Because Nashville pop sucks.

25. What do you think of death metal?
Meh. Sounds a little forced.

26. Do you listen to music in foreign languages?
Yes, a fair amount. Being into Bowie I like the sort of cabaret Jacques Brel sound. And Seu Jorge did an excellent collection of Bowie in Portuguese.

27. What famous musician would you like to have sex with?
Where do I start? Did you miss my recent posts on Britney? If I had to pick just one musician to have sex with, it would easily be Debbie Harry, hands down. Or Susanna Hoffs… No, wait, Cherie Currie! Ooh, Tina Turner! Dammit, we need to come back to this one.

28. Worst concert moment?
Of the one I went to? Nothing, really.

29. Funny concert moment?
Man, I’m boring…

30. Sad concert moment?
Again, nothing.

31. Best local act you can think of?
Nothing comes to mind.

32. If you were a musical instrument what would you be?
Nancy Wilson’s guitar.
33. Do you watch music TV?
I flip on MTV Hits a lot. I like music videos, it’s a good way to hear new music without actively seeking it out. Of course, new is a relative term.

34. Do you follow the music charts, like the top 40?
Passingly, but not often.

35. Have you met any famous musicians?

36. Are any of your friends/family etc musicians?
Not professionally.

37. Lyric that best describes your feelings right now?
“And when I go anywhere, I see love, I see love, I see love!” – The Beach Boys, “This Whole World”

38. Lyric that describes your life?
“They say I got brains, but they ain’t doing me no good; I wish they could.” – The Beach Boys, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”

39. Do you know the names of all the band members that you listen to?
No. Are you crazy?

40. Does a musician’s physical attractiveness play a role in the music that you listen to?
Not especially, although, like most men, I’m very willing to listen to a pretty girl.

41. Favorite movie sound track?
I like a lot of soundtracks, but no single one stands out.

42. What music do your parents listen to?
My mom likes folk music, some electronic music, some seventies hard rock, and a lot of New Wave music from the eighties. She’ll fall in love with anything in the minor key regardless of quality. My dad likes classic rock, Willie Nelson, and that’s about all.

43. Do you wear band T-shirts?
I don’t have many. I have a Beatles T-shirt I like to wear, but that might be it. Becca’s mom gave it to me for my birthday one year.

44. What music sub-culture do you feel like you belong to?
I’m uncomfortably close to the white guy music snob for my taste…

45. Do you sing in the shower?

46. Would you rather marry a musician or be one yourself?
Why not both?

47. How important is your partner's taste in music to you?
Very. My life comes with a soundtrack, and I want my partner to contribute things I like and accept stuff she doesn’t. Yeah, it’s a whole give and take. I take what I like, and I give her what she’d better like. Gallant!

48. Hanson moves in next door to you, do you go introduce yourself, or do you arrange to beat them up?
Their music seems so far in the past, what’s the point? I’d say hi if I passed them on the sidewalk.

49. Sex, Drugs or Rock 'n' Roll?
To quote This Is Spinal Tap, as long as there’s sex and drugs, I can live without the rock ‘n’ roll. Seriously, though, why split up a perfectly good trio?

50. Now what are you listening to?
T. Rex, “Light of Love.”

Friday, November 10, 2006

Throwdown 11/10

15 random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. Rest in peace, Ed Bradley.

2. Neil Patrick Harris is gay. It’s not really a surprise, but for some reason he seems like a much cooler guy to me now.

3. I have to admit, the new Spider-Man 3 trailer made me squeal like a little girl.

4. Future generations may find this hard to believe, but Anna Nicole Smith was once really, really hot. Then we found out she was pathetic and crazy. But I’d like to ask her right now, in the name of all that is good and beautiful and holy in this world, please, please, please shut the fuck up and go away. My God, I have seen this opportunistic bitch on TV more times in the last several weeks than I have ever seen her before collectively in my life. Does she really think it’s a good idea to have video of her giving birth on television? And to keep going on TV and talking about her mom? Or to have video of her son’s autopsy? Man, she was so easy to ignore before, but now I really, honestly believe that she’s using her son’s death to claw her way back into the spotlight. And I think it’s fucking disgusting.

5. Jessica Simpson has been trying to meet a man on the internet. Unfortunately, the last guy she met turned out to be a male escort, which led to some kind of blow-up and has apparently turned her off to the internet altogether. Poor girl. Don’t give up on the internet, Jess! Will somebody just please give her my email address already, for Christ’s sake?

6. Trouble brewing. And when did Ashlee Simpson start copping Ashley Olsen’s look?

7. If Cameron Diaz is so eager to show us her tits, why did she put that guy in prison for taking nude pictures of her? You’re sending me mixed signals, here, you hypocritical, untalented cunt.

8. Lindsay Lohan doesn’t really get this media thing, does she? And she doesn’t know how to use it to her advantage. Just own the comment, what can Paris Hilton really do to you? And it’s not like you’re wrong, right? Figure it out.

9. Does Paris Hilton’s lazy eye ever creep you out?

10. I knew I should have gone to that Kim Cattrall book signing… Seriously, embiggen the picture.

11. Cindy Margolis can eat my ass, and not in a good way. I’m so sick of listening to her. Her only claim to fame is that she calls herself the Most Downloaded Woman on the Internet (she isn’t, Danni Ashe is), which is not really an achievement. And now she’s patting herself on the back for being “brave” enough to be in Playboy. I’m sorry, is this a major step for a woman who’s done nothing but use her body to make money and nab attention, and then pretended she hasn’t, or that she was somehow classier because she never took her clothes off before? And I’ve seen the pictures, they aren’t very good. For someone who made her money modeling, she really has no idea how she looks on camera. Where are the poses?

12. So, two drunken frat boys are trying to sue the people behind Borat over their drunken appearance in the movie, during which they apparently make sexist and racist remarks. The lawsuit alleges that the boys “engaged in behavior that they otherwise would not have engaged in.” Um…bullshit. See, being drunk removes your impulse control, but it doesn’t actually go inside of your head and change your thoughts. A person who says sexist and racist things when he’s drunk is a sexist and a racist, and their societal inhibitions have been worn down by drink. And that’s that. I’m sorry. You guys drank, you guys said those things, and you guys signed the release form, so that’s what happens. My advice for these kids, and for Mark Foley, and for Mel Gibson, and for every drunken ass is this: don’t get drunk in public. Do it inside, where you belong. Being drunk does not excuse your behavior; in fact, it only makes it worse. We don’t think you’re innocent bystanders who got fooled into bad behavior by alcohol. We think you’re assholes. If you want to drink yourselves stupid, be my guest, but be adult enough to live with the consequences.

13. Damn, Britney! Look at you! You look amazing! It’s like falling in love all over again! And you broke up with Kevin in a text message? You go, girl. You rock me down to my soul.

14. Speaking of Kevin Federline, here’s a check that got returned to him for insufficient funds. Hilarious! No wonder he’s asking for spousal support. She’s leaving him, and he’s still trying to live off of her. Loser.

15. Oh, and since we all had a hard week with the politics, let’s relax with this. That tape that cropped up the other day that was purported to be Britney Spears giving head? Well, it wasn’t Britney Spears. But you know what? I don’t care. Not only does this girl really, really, really know what she’s doing, but she looks a hell of a lot like Britney Spears. So, of course, we’re all watching and pretending she’s Britney Spears. I don’t lose control often, but I totally had to jerk off to this video. Seriously. I love it. I played it over and over again. See it here.


How I long to love Helen of Troy,
Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette.
It would give me such ultimate joy
Could I only move backward and get
The great beauties of history's pages.
Think how my greatly resounding my name
As I top all the belles of the ages.
How eternal and gilt-edged my fame!
Yet though that is my whole life's ambition;
Though I'm handsome and wealthy and clean;
Though I laugh at the poor competition;
What I lack is just one time machine.

I Belong to Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson: "I Belong to Me"

I love Jessica’s passion in this video. She’s always giving it her all, and I love her for it. I love her so much, in fact, that Becca and I had this rather pointless conversation this afternoon.

ME: You know, if the impossible actually happened and I could actually go out with Jessica Simpson and she wanted to get married, I would totally leave you for her.

BECCA: You know what? I could understand that. It would suck, but I’d understand.

ME: Her and Britney Spears. And possibly Christina Aguilera but, let’s face it, I could never pull Christina. Britney might be my level, though, I mean she did marry Federline. But oh man, Jessica

BECCA: Jeez. You know, I can’t think of a single celebrity I would leave you for.

ME: Daniel Radcliffe.

BECCA:… Never mind.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Writer's Block: The Worst Ten Minutes of His Life

Quotes of Isaac Asimov, one of my heroes Posted by Picasa

"Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not."

"Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today—but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept around which it revolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all."

"It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be … This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking."

"I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time."

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster."

"Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centures since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly."

"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."

"It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety."

"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right."

"There's something about a pious man such as he. He will cheerfully cut your throat if it suits him, but he will hesitate to endanger the welfare of your immaterial and problematical soul."

"Now any dogma, based primarily on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user."

"Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise — even in their own field."

"Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night."

"I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don't have to waste your time in either attacking or defending."

"I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse."

"If I am right, then [religious fundamentalists] will not go to Heaven, because there is no Heaven. If they are right, then they will not go to Heaven, because they are hypocrites."

"There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death."

"To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today."

"Creationists don't want equal time, … they want all the time there is."

"Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived."

"One would suppose that the battle for religious liberty was won in the United States two hundred years ago. However, in the time since, and right now, powerful voices are always raised in favor of bigotry and thought control."

"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome."

"A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value."

"If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them."

"Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is."

"Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know – and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance."

"The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom."

"The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing."

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere."

"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do."

"When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself."

"Where any answer is possible, all answers are meaningless."

"I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn't, I would die."

"Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers."

"Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put on an orgy in my office and I wouldn't look up. Well, maybe once."

"I do not fear computers. I fear lack of them."

"Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest."

"And above all things, never think that you're not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning."


It’s me. I know we haven’t talked for some time, but I know you’ve been busy pushing your album and making your new video (which I adored, by the way). But since we last spoke, a lot of stuff has happened, hasn’t it? Your second movie, Employee of the Month, was released and I confess, my darling, that I didn’t go to see it. I’m sorry, but, Jesus Christ, it has Dane Cook in it. You finalized your divorce, which I really was sorry about (although no one believes me). You turned 26 (and looked beautiful doing it, if I might try to make you blush). You shot a video which, I confess, I didn’t think was the greatest. Seriously, what is it with you and Andy Dick? Do you really think he’s that funny? You expanded your footwear and hair lines. And, though it made me very sad, I criticized your direction and your album, which has grown on me a lot after the initial, well, disappointment. There was the unfortunate John Mayer episode and the lovely new haircut.

And even more, recently, there’s been the talk about your insomnia and how you’re looking on internet dating sites to meet people (and I know I’m not good enough for you, but how do you do? I’m people). You were snubbed for both of the roles you went out for in Dallas (though ultimately that will be a good thing, trust me) and you had to endure Nick talking (yet again) about how your father and Newlyweds ruined the marriage. You fired your publicist and publicly apologized for the John Mayer story, which I thought was very classy and responsible of you. And I see a few too many pictures of you walking around looking sad. Still.

But let’s look at the positives together, baby. You have a new interest in photography. You’re going to do a show at Dollywood, and I can’t tell you how perfect the pairing of you and Dolly Parton is. I think Dolly is wonderful, and you are too. I think you should play her in a biopic, I really do. You’re working out this Blonde Ambition movie, although you cast Andy Dick in it (why, Jess?). I missed the call to be an extra, but that’s the story of my life, and you don’t want me hanging around and bugging you. And I totally would. Blockbuster Total Access just made you a spokesperson. See, Jessica? We still love you.

And you’ve resisted the weird addiction to plastic surgery that’s overtaken your poor, formerly beautiful sister. What’s that all about?

The only thing that I would caution against, and I know I’ve said this before and I don’t want to harp on it, but I really would dump your father as your manager. I don’t think he’s well-liked around town, and based on what I’ve heard about the difficulties getting Blonde Ambition cast, it seems like that’s going to hurt your business pretty soon. After the John Mayer thing, no one’s going to cut him any slack. And don’t try and defend the comments he makes about your boobs. Yeah, I’m sure it’s just him being a dad and all, but people think it’s creepy. I mean, he did take this picture:He just leaves himself open to comments when he does this sort of thing.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I still think you’re the most beautiful thing on this planet. And despite some of the lapses in taste (and I really do think the direction of your movie career needs serious reconsideration), I’m still with you. And just because I flirt with Britney, it’s only because I think you’re above me and would never go out with me in the first place. Unless you like guys from the Midwest…or feel lonely at night…

Love you, queen of my heart,
SamuraiFrog Posted by Picasa

Far Beyond the World I've Known...

I think Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is the dumbest fucking thing ever. I think every other show produced by Glen A. Larson -- Alias Smith and Jones, Battlestar Galactica (it's a Star Wars rip-off, Starbuck fans, get over it), BJ and the Bear, Magnum PI, The Fall Guy, Knight Rider, Manimal, Automan -- are the dumbest fucking things ever on television. But I do absolutely love the theme music from Buck Rogers. In that spirit, here's the title sequence from the pilot movie, which has a different take on the music.

Two minutes into the pilot, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is already the dumbest fucking thing ever. What was with that ridiculous opening? I mean, thank you so much for putting Erin Gray and Pamela Hensley in those outfits (those ladies both did a LOT for my development), but come on. The dumbest fucking thing ever.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Slaying the Beasts

Good morning, America. I love you.

It happened. It finally happened. After 12 years, the Republicans no longer have control over Congress. Hopefully we will soon learn that they no longer have control of the Senate (as I write this, Virginia is still in contention). Way to send a message to our politicians, America: this hate and violence has to stop. Now all we have to do is stay on top of the Democrats and make sure that they do what we want them to do instead of rolling over for the president yet again. We live in a strange time, when any questioning of our policies is seen as tantamount to treason.

But for the moment, we have our victories. Nancy Pelosi is about to become the first-ever woman Speaker of the House. And though the evil “Denny” Hastert may not be out of Congress, he isn’t going to seek the position of Republican minority leader in the House. This election was about the people telling Washington that we no longer want the war. Washington has listened. Even Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down. How’s that for hope? Yes, evil can die.

And speaking of evil, that big deal about banning all abortion in South Dakota? Defeated. Congratulations, South Dakota, for making a choice for human rights. And in Missouri, where they elected the Michael J. Fox-endorsed Claire McCaskill, they voted to allow stem cell research. Imagine that, Rush Limbaugh doesn’t know what the people really want. Maybe all that Oxycontin put him out of touch somewhere along the line.

The other piece of lingering evil that bothers me is that seven states voted to ban gay marriage last night. That makes 27 states now where it is illegal for two consenting adults to love one another. But I would tell my gay friends that there is hope on the horizon: the margins on those votes were very narrow. Less and less people are for this ban every day, and one day those laws will be repealed. Americans may be slow to change, but they tend to move in the right direction. More and more young people are born and raised without the shadow of bigotry on their souls. This institutionalized prejudice will pass out of history one day and probably within our lifetimes. Hey, Arizona rejected the ban last night. That’s one.

Let’s rejoice, America. A new day is dawning. The world may respect us again. We may spread peace in the world. All that is left for us is to make sure the people we elected help us to do it. Posted by Picasa

Film Week

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

I think the Halloweentown series of films is pretty cute. This is the fourth entry in the Disney Channel saga of the Cromwell family, and what it mostly suffers from is the change in casting. Kimberly J. Brown is Marnie Piper, and Sara Paxton is…well, just Sara Paxton. Besides which, Debbie Reynolds is relegated to two cameos. It’s too bad, because the plot is still pretty good, it’s still top-tier Disney Channel, and they obviously spent quite a bit of money on this one. And those Sinister Sisters…heavily made-up Asian triplets with magical powers and attitudes? Me likee. *** stars.

PRIME (2005)
I don’t know what to make of this movie. First off, it was a huge mistake to sell this as a comedy, which it clearly is not. The director takes it far too seriously for it to be a comedy. And second, it’s such a contrived, lame story. Alright, there’s this young guy (23 years old) who falls for Uma Thurman, and they have a relationship. And this is perfectly fine with me; they have a nice relationship, if not an especially cinematic one. And Uma is luminous, as always. Man, when I was a young man, I would’ve loved to have been in a relationship with an older woman like Uma. Hell, I’d still like a relationship with an older woman… (Susan Sarandon, you know I’ve always loved you). But the screenwriter doesn’t develop their personalities near enough, mostly because he’s adding this contrived plot where Meryl Streep is Uma’s therapist and, wait for it, the young man’s mother. And she knows this the whole time it’s happening, and doesn’t say anything for a long time because she hopes she can get her son to dump Uma. And why? The biggest problem she seems to have with Uma is that she’s not Jewish. Oh, so I’m supposed to sympathize with racism? Kids, please, happiness is happiness, and if it makes you happy, work it out together. As for them movie? *1/2 stars; it’s not bad enough to be deplorable, nor does it have enough potential to even be remotely likable. It's just nothing.

Lifetime has made a lot of movies about women and cancer, but this is one of the few that actually stops mucking around with over-the-top tragedy long enough to put in some real character development. Sarah Chalke stars in a very good performance as Geralyn Lucas, and yes, it’s a true story. And unlike a lot of Lifetime movies, it’s competently made and pretty brave about telling the story of a woman who isn’t quite a hero, but who is a survivor. Charmingly unpretentious, it still grabs you and tells you something you need to hear. ***1/2 stars.

Francois Truffaut’s film about a two best friends who fall in love with the same woman. It’s a complex film, but Truffaut manages to put it forth in a straightforward, emotionally honest manner. You ever notice how intellectuals in movies are always being undone by sex? You just can’t intellectualize it, nor can you intellectualize love and friendship, as the characters learn. A fascinating, deep, nearly perfect movie. **** stars.

One of Ingmar Bergman’s many masterpieces, this may be his supreme achievement. Bergman’s long (but never boring) film follows Fanny and Alexander, young siblings whose lives change with the death of their father. The first part of the film is sumptuous, a constant joy full of sight and sound. At a party on Christmas Eve, we get to know this family of actors which is eventually torn apart by death. When the children’s father dies, their young mother marries a bishop, and the children are transported to a life that couldn’t be more starkly different from what they’ve know their entire lives. This is a masterpiece of emotions, of highs and lows, of enfolding love and cruel barbarity as seen through the eyes of children. Of particular note is Sven Nykvist’s cinematography, which is beautifully contrastive and probably his greatest achievement (at least in color). **** stars.

Robert Townsend made this movie about a black actor who is wrestling with the decision to play a stereotypical role in a film. Through the course of the movie, there are some very funny comedy vignettes. Keenan Ivory Wayans co-wrote this movie, which is basically a test run for In Living Color, only funny. And it makes a great social point. And it has John Witherspoon in it, who is always hilarious. ***1/2 stars.

Two men sit down to dinner and have a conversation. And that’s all that happens for 110 minutes. But in those 110 minutes, director Louis Malle and actors Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn peel back layer after layer to reveal themselves and the realities of human nature. The simplest of plots, yes, but it’s all in what Wally and Andre are saying to each other and how they say it. They talk about art, philosophy, and the way people live, and Wally and Andre criticize one another’s views and lifestyles very subtly. And it is absolutely riveting to watch these two talk it out over dinner, saying everything and nothing, conversing about the many ways life can be felt: through emotion, through art, through experience, through learning. And by the end, even if you’re not sure what it is, you really feel like you’ve learned something about people. An engrossing, beautiful film that I just fell in love with. **** stars.

DUMA (2005)
Meh. I like Carroll Ballard very much (I count The Black Stallion, Never Cry Wolf, and Fly Away Home among my favorite movies), but there was just something emotionally closed off for me in this story of a boy and his pet cheetah. It just didn’t do it for me. The film did have Hope Davis, who I’m not a fan of as an actress, but after seeing the naughty eyes she’s giving in the picture on Tomthedog’s index, I do have a certain new appreciation for her… What were we talking about? Oh, Duma. ** stars.

Crappy horror movie that is boring and predictable but at least has the grace to be under ninety minutes and the courage to end on a down note. A total waste of Anna Paquin, but Lena Olin seems to bring this crap on herself. * star.

LA JETEE (1962)
A short film that is probably most famous now for having inspired 12 Monkeys. In a mere 28 minutes of still-frame photography, Chris Marker manages to create a believably shadowy post-apocalyptic future, be a thoroughly engrossing love story, and touch on the subjects of time, memory, and history in meaningful ways. It’s also depressingly relevant in its depiction of the future as a place which has slid back towards the Middle Ages. It’s proof that concision is an art form, being as short as it is and yet better than most science fiction films (especially of recent years). But more than that, it is something wonderful. **** stars.

I don’t know how it works, but it does. This is some sort of post-postmodernist story that is delightfully absurdist. To wit, this film tells the story of a film crew trying to make a film version of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. Therefore, we have fun, self-referential scenes from the book depicted, but we also have the behind-the-scenes work, with Steve Coogan starring as a hypertextual version of himself. Boy, I didn’t think it would be that hard to describe… It sounds, on paper, like the most irritating, self-indulgent shit, but it comes alive thanks to director Michael Winterbottom and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, and the wonderful cast. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play themselves, actors starring in the film who are prone to rivalry. Coogan, meanwhile, is dealing with a girlfriend with whom he has had a baby (Kelly Macdonald, always lovely), a pretty but vapidly pretentious production assistant with whom he is having a flirtation (Naomie Harris), and a tabloid reporter who has a steamy story but is willing to trade it for a personal interview (Kieran O’Brien). The cast is excellent. Jeremy Northam plays the director; Ian Hart plays the writer. Shirley Henderson, Dylan Moran, David Walliams, Mark Williams, Stephen Fry, and Gillian Anderson all appear. It’s rare to see a movie this willing to play along with the audience’s intelligence instead of just throwing things at them; it’s a postmodern masterpiece. **** stars. See it.

Oh, this was a hard one to watch. Michael Winterbottom directed this docudrama about the Tipton Three, three young Muslim men from Birmingham, England, who went to Pakistan for a wedding and were rounded up as prisoners during the invasion of Afghanistan. Actually, there were four of them, but one died in Afghanistan. Shafiq, Ruhel, Monir, and Asif go to Pakistan so one of them can get married, but end up deciding to head to Afghanistan to see if they can help the Muslim community there. What kind of help is never explained. Then the Americans invade in retribution for 9/11, and the four of them are caught up in the panic. Monir disappears, never to be heard from again. The other three are put in a prison until an American soldier discovers they’re British citizens. Then he sends them to another camp, and from there it’s on to Guantanamo and a total lack of civil liberties. What is depicted in this film is absolutely, utterly horrible. People from the American government try repeatedly to railroad these men into naming themselves as al-Qaeda terrorists, something they refuse to do no matter how many stress positions they are put in or how much noise they are subjected to. It is disgusting what we have done in the name of freedom and democracy. We have sunk to the level of the Viet Cong and the despicable actions we spend the eighties decrying. Anyone with a POW/MIA sticker on their car who supports our nation doing the same thing has no principles. This film will not be gotten through without tears. Winterbottom never once relieves the tension, never allows us a moment to catch our breaths and steel ourselves for what is to come. It made me feel ashamed. It should make you feel the total lack of decency with which America is currently treating the world. **** stars. This is an important film, especially now that the Democrats have won Congress. Educate yourselves.

(2004)Quite simply, a mourning of soldiers lost in Iraq and how their families are dealing with accepting that loss. How many more of them have to die? *** stars.

Brian Herzlinger made this movie with a camera from Circuit City (returned at the end of the 30-day money back period) and $1100 dollars he won on a game show. He’s just a guy who has resourceful friends and, like me, has had a crush on Drew Barrymore since he was six years old. He sets out on a quest to get a date with her. It sounds retarded and stalkery, but as you watch it and get caught up in his journey, it starts to become a victory for anyone who’s had a crush and for anyone who wants to make a dream, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, come true. In the end, it warmed my heart. *** stars. Now, does anyone want to put up some cash to finance my film about getting a date with Britney Spears? It’s a first step.

This documentary presents the case of Arnold Friedman and his son Jesse. Arnold was a teacher and a respected member of his community (Great Neck, Long Island, NY) who taught piano lessons and computer classes out of his home. He was also a pedophile who liked to look at foreign child pornography. And when the police discovered that he was a pedophile who worked with children, the investigations began, and Arnold and his 18 year-old son Jesse found themselves charge with over 300 separate counts of child molestation. The interesting thing about the movie is that it doesn’t side with the family or with the police, but plants an enormous seed of doubt as to what really occurred in the Friedmans’ basement. The police involved in the case are certain of their guilt; other professionals who have looked at the investigation see coercion, misdiagnoses, hypnotism, and a total lack of physical evidence. Some former students deny everything; some admit they lied; at least one corroborates the alleged abuse, but is so over-the-top and vague that I can only assume he’s lying. There are a few people who, over the course of the film, seem to reveal themselves as liars. But the most moving portrait is that of the family itself, a family that was, in its way, just waiting to fall apart and which will probably never be put back together again. It also forces the viewer to separate what is a fantasy and what is a reality; for example, just because a man likes to look at children, does this mean he is going to act on that? Or does he keep it locked up somewhere inside and not let it out? And finally, the film does point out that people are much more quick to believe the worst of people than to rush to their defense, or even to rush to finding out the truth. A powerful, moving film. **** stars.

A nice, simple documentary about a family of Mongolian camel herders in the Gobi Desert. There’s not much to it, but it’s a beautiful little movie. ***1/2 stars.

Kirk Alyn played Superman in this serial. They obviously didn’t spend much money on it, and it gets old pretty fast. It’s silly and fatuous, the characters are all pretty badly drawn (and acted), and the villains are just lame. The use of animation in place of many special effects is interesting, but this is really stuff for very young kids. Otherwise, it’s just stupid. *1/2 stars.

Once again, a movie about porn that manages to shy away from nudity. And it has Amy Smart in it. Why the fuck do they keep sticking Amy Smart in everything? She’s not attractive, she’s not talented, so what the fuck is the point of Amy Smart? No stars.

A bizarre, riveting movie about a 13 year-old girl (Jodie Foster) who is very mysterious about where her father is. She runs afoul of the nosy woman who holds her lease (Alexis Smith) and Martin Sheen, in a crazed and scary performance as a child molester who won’t stop until he gets what he wants. This is another movie that can’t be described; it has to be seen and felt. The message is clear: Don’t fuck with kids. They can take better care of themselves than you can. **** stars.

VERBOTEN! (1959)
Samuel Fuller is one of my top favorite directors. His combat films deal with an emotional truth and a hard-edged realism that give his movies a sort of rough poetry; he’s above the macho posturing of Hollywood and the bullshit mythologizing and phony awe of movies like Saving Private Ryan and Flags of Our Fathers. This film deals with the love of an American GI and a German woman at the end of World War II. The woman’s brother is a Hitler Youth who is part of a secret organization that is trying to continue the war. The film is great on its own (Fuller is an excellent portrayer of human character), but what really tops the movie off is the use of archival footage of the Nuremberg Trials, which depicts far better than any fictional device the full inhumanity of the Nazi regime. **** stars.

Armchair Copyediting

I can't help it, but I keep copyediting commercials in my head when I'm watching TV (which is fairly often). I just can't stand to hear the English language constantly abused and murdered to come up with catchy slogans that, frankly, don't even work. The biggest one that's bothering me now is Walt Disney Theme Parks's "Year of a Million Dreams" campaign. The copy runs like this:

There is a place where the ordinary is always extraordinary, and where once upon a time happens once upon a day. Come live your dream this year, during the Year of a Million Dreams, at the place where dreams come true.

Oh, man, that bugs me. What horrible copy they've given this talentless narrator (who pauses for breath at the wrong time, so it sounds like come live your dreams, this year during...) to read. Can someone please get to fixing this?

For instance, let's take the first sentence: There is a place where the ordinary is always extraordinary, and where once upon a time happens once upon a day. That's just awkward. I see the parallelism the copywriter is going for: ordinary with extraordinary and once upon a time with once upon a day. But the first part is a little unwieldy. There is a place where the ordinary is always extraordinary hits a wrong note in the ear. And where once upon a time happens once upon a day is far, far too precious. I would propose the following rewrite:

There is a place where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and where once upon a time happens all the time.

There, that's much easier to say and, if I may say so, a little prettier without being too cute. Plus, it seems more active to me: becomes instead of is always. Once upon a day is just such a stupid, stupid sentence.

Now let's take the second sentence: Come live your dreams this year, during the Year of a Million Dreams, at the place where dreams come true. Ouch. If I had turned that sentence in, my old writing professor would have crumpled it up and, very likely, thrown it in my face. His biggest problem, of course, would've been the constant repetition of the word dreams. Three times in one sentence? That seems excessive. That needs to be cut down right away. And two instances of the word year almost right next to one another. Plus, it seems to have almost nothing to do in the first sentence. Try this:

Come live the Year of a Million Dreams at Walt Disney Theme Parks, the place where dreams come true.

Well, I'm still not happy with that one. Let's try this one instead:

It's the Year of a Million Dreams at Walt Disney Theme Parks.

Well, that at least solves the problem of the first sentence; the second sentence answers the implied question of the first. All you need is a final sentence at the end, and that's it. So here's what I propose:

There is a place where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and where once upon a time happens all the time. It's the Year of a Million Dreams at Walt Disney Theme Parks. Make your dreams come true.

That flows a little better for me. It's not perfect, but it's better.

Does anyone want to offer another suggestion? If so, it would be most welcome.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


No sooner did Britney Spears get a sassy new haircut and a tight body than she finally sobers up, has a moment of clarity, and files for divorce. I know that I shouldn't revel in the pain of others, but I haven't been this happy about Britney Spears since she and Justin Timberlake broke up. According to reports, Kevin didn't do just one thing to push her away; it was "a string of events." I imagine those have something to do with Kevin being the biggest loser alive and her suddenly, finally, realizing what the rest of the country's been saying.

Britney's seeking custody of both of their sons, and she's got a pretty iron-clad prenup this time around. Good girl. Now what did we learn? Right, sweetheart, we learned that when you meet a man whose girlfriend is pregnant with his child for the second time, that is not a respectable candidate for marriage.

But I'm not here to throw this in your face, Brit Brit. I'm just here to be there for you, to offer you help in this time of need. And I know I've said this before, but I don't harbor any secret ambitions to be a rap star. I'm not the kind of guy who feels unmanned if his wife makes more money than he does. I just want to write. I would be happy just to be supportive of you and to raise the children. You need someone who's going to be there for you instead of worrying about his own need to be famous.

I'm just saying. You know, give me a call. And please tell me that this isn't some sort of half-assed publicity stunt for Kevin's album. Posted by Picasa

TV Report: Ratings and Special Guest Star Salma Hayek

Certainly the most interesting recent news involving television was the reportedly imminent cancellation of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Though NBC had ordered an additional three scripts, the news was going around that cast members were already telling their friends that the show was over. I wasn’t surprised to hear it; I know the ratings for the show have been terrible. And it’s been an interesting ride. I’m not talking about the show itself, of course, the show is absolutely terrible. The interesting part has been watching critical and public reaction. It was the most-anticipated new show of the season, the best-reviewed pilot of the new season, and had a pretty decent premiere rating (13.4 million viewers, not a wildfire but certainly not bad for a Monday). Since the show premiered a mere eight weeks ago, the ratings have been cut nearly in half and regularly comes in third in its time slot. Which might not look so bad if it weren’t for the fact that Heroes has quickly become the highest-rated new show of the season, and as its numbers go up and up it’s only making Studio 60 look worse and worse. Everyone I know (or know of) who loved the premiere has now gotten to the point where they actively hate the show.

NBC was quick to refute the story, though, so it looks like they’re going to limp along with Studio 60. Apparently the show pulls in those affluent viewers that the advertisers just love. But the fact is that Studio 60 is losing over half the audience from Heroes. And to add to the indignity, NBC pulled Studio 60 last Monday and ran their ratings-challenged Friday Night Lights, which drew higher ratings.

I’m guessing that people just aren’t that interested in what goes on behind the scenes of a sketch comedy show, because 30 Rock is failing pretty hard, too. I actually enjoy the show. I think the absurdist bent is funny. Alec Baldwin cracks me the fuck up. But only 4.8 million people are watching it a week on average, so the vultures are beginning to circle. Too bad, I think it has a lot of potential. And where was Jane Krakowski the last couple of weeks?

To my surprise, Shark not only continues to be enjoyable, but people actually like it. It’s one of the highest-rated new shows this season, and just got renewed for the whole season. The show pulls in about the same amount of viewers as Heroes does.

And if I didn’t already love Ugly Betty as much as a human being possibly can love a television show, this would have finally turned me:

Gracias, Salma. I almost burned out my TiVo watching these 17 seconds over and over.

Now that, my friends, is how you get me to watch a program.

And finally, the last episode of Lost for three months or so is airing tomorrow night. I’ve been with it this whole time, and a lot of my faith has been restored. I still hate Jack, Kate, and Sawyer, and don’t really care what happens to them, but I like that they’re starting to expand the periphery (they have to, they’ve killed everyone else: seriously, one character in the first season, at least three last season, and last week, another one; what the shit is going on with these cunting writers?). What really gets to me on the show, though, is the cruelty behind the Others. All of this terror just to get Jack to perform an operation? They couldn’t have, I don’t know, asked him? That one really pissed me off. I’m sure there’s more going on and Ben’s operation is just one aspect of it, but the cruelty just seems excessive to me sometimes and I’d be really happy to see that stop. If there’s one thing I hate in this world, it’s bullying. Hopefully, the finale is going to wow us.

It's Election Day: Go Vote!

Two days ago the British had Guy Fawkes Day. Guy Fawkes was part of a conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament during its State Opening, thereby killing King James I, his family, and most of the aristocracy. This was a Roman Catholic conspiracy, an attempt to execute the Anglican heads of state.

Today we have a chance to send our own message to our own Congress. And I hope that message is in favor of the people of this country. A message to stop the war, stop the hate, stop the factionalism, stop us as we head towards the bizarre free enterprise police state that our leaders seem to desire for us. The Republicans have held Congress since 1995, and though there are some Republicans who are moderate and good politicians, there are also some crazy fundamentalists who have absolutely no problem with the world going up in flames. They breed contempt and vile hatred, they allow guards in Guantanamo Bay to commit the same kinds of prisoner abuses that were committed against our soldiers in Vietnam. They make the rest of the world think of us as one giant nation of rednecks with speech disorders. They dared to call Kerry a coward, even though their own dark lord could barely even pronounce Vietnam, much less go there to serve his country. Even now, they're daring to make Kerry look like a fool because he tripped over a punchline. This from the party whose candidate once said that it was hard for people to put food on their family. They really don't want to get into a contest over who said something stupid, do they? Not the party of the man who once lamented that nobody ever asks the question: Is our children learning?

This is not a partisan issue, either. Good people want peace. Most of us want peace. We are at such a contentious time in history, and it's easy to paint the Democrats as weak and cowardly and the Republicans as insane and evil. There are good men and women on both sides. There are men and women among us who will vote today to make the hurt stop. To make the hate stop. To vote out the people who are too weak to make their own decisions, and the people who allow George W. Bush to be the world's biggest bully. Who allow him to use his mad scramble for oil and foreign become another Saddam Hussein.

Please, if you love your family, vote today. If you love your country, vote today. Make the right choice. In V for Vendetta, which is certainly Guy Fawkes-inspired, the main character tells us the people should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people. Your vote is a weapon that can be used against them. Go and make them scared.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Your Vote Matters

I want to tell you a quick story about an election that changed American history.

In 1842, a farmhand in Indiana named Henry Shoemaker realized it was election day and he had forgotten to vote. Shoemaker was a man of his word, and having personally promised his vote to Madison Marsh, he wanted to make sure Marsh received his support. Marsh was the Democratic candidate for state representative. Shoemaker refused to break his word, so he jumped on his horse, rode to the polling place, and cast his ballot. We know about this vote because it was contested. There was no ticket listing all of the candidates Shoemaker wanted to vote for, so rather than just accepting his limited choices, he simply used a knife and cut out names from four different tickets. The inspector threw this vote out.

But then something happened. A tie occurred. There were hearings and testimony, but it was a dead heat between candidates. Finally, Shoemaker’s vote was counted, and Madison Marsh was elected by just one vote.

In 1843, the lawmakers of Indiana convened for an election of their own. At that time, state legislators elected US senators. Madison Marsh voted for the Democratic candidate, Edward Hannegan. Marsh’s vote was the decider; Hannegan was elected to the Senate by just one vote.

In 1845, the US Senate voted over whether or not Texas should be admitted to the United States. Even though it would mean war with Mexico, Senator Hannegan cast his vote to admit Texas. The deciding vote. Texas was made a state by just one vote.

In 1846, many in the US Senate wanted to declare war on Mexico, and the caucus vote was deadlocked. Senator Hannegan was absent that day, but was called in to cast the deciding vote. He voted in favor of the war which would eventually give California to the United States. This was set in motion by just one vote.

One vote by a farmhand in 1842 made a difference in the history of the United States. Never, ever assume that your single vote doesn’t matter.

Today and tomorrow are days when your participation matters a great deal.

Tomorrow, there is a chance that the control of Congress could swing to the Democrats. I don’t count myself among them, but I can bear no more Republican rule. The Republicans have been in control of Congress, and what have they given us? A soaring national debt. Funding decreases for education and government services. An endless, pointless war based on a lie that has killed 2800 of our soldiers. Of our sons and daughters. Of our wives and husbands. Of our mothers and fathers. Of our cousins, or aunts, or uncles, or friends. 2800 people, human beings with families and dreams who did not have to die.

The Republicans know this. And they know we know it. They know that almost 60% of America does not approve of what George W. Bush has done in our name. And more people than that are opposed to this war. But don’t think this is going to be easy. It is going to be an uphill battle to throw the warmongers and the corporate toadies and the ones who sent your children to be slaughtered for oil out of office. Remember when Democrats won the popular vote in 2000? Remember when they were ahead in the exit polls all day in 2004?

It’s because the religious fundamentalists and neo-conservatives who have hijacked the Republican party are ruthless. And they will do anything they can to once again rip this election away from us.

Your vote matters. It counts. And all you have to do is go and make certain your voice will be heard. Your ballot is what gives you a voice in this country. Make your voice heard tomorrow. Make it heard today. Do these things today:

1. Go through your address book on your cell phone and computer and call/e-mail everyone you know. Tell them how much it would mean to you if they vote on Tuesday. If they don't know where to vote, help them find their polling place.

2. Contact ASAP. They will connect you to the folks who need you to make calls.

3. Contact your local Democratic Party headquarters. There are close races in nearly every state. They'll put you to work -- on the ground or on the phones. Or go to the local HQ for the Dem candidate running for the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate and say, "Put me to work!"

The rest of the world is depending on you. And me. And I’m not going to let them down. Are you?

The above voting actions are from Michael Moore.

Sherry has some pertinent information as well. Get educated, and get voting.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Song of the Week: "I'm Not Sayin'"

I love this single by Nico almost as much as I love Nico herself. This single was recorded in 1965 for the short-lived but entirely wonderful Immediate label. It was written by Gordon Lightfoot and produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, manager of the Rolling Stones and the man who started Immediate. Brian Jones and Jimmy Page (in his session days) play on the track as well.

It's lovely, and Nico is glorious. The video quality is sketchy, but the song is too perfect for that to matter.

Memes: A Great Way to Pretend You Have Something to Say

What do you eat when you raid the fridge late at night? Strawberry yogurt. Or at least I try to. I don’t like to eat past 7; I wake up sick if I do.

What is your secret guaranteed weeping movie? I’m a soft touch; I cry in a ton of movies. Though in 2005, there were only 4: ‘Grizzly Man,’ ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played,’ ‘Lilo & Stitch 2,’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain.’ Because I’m such a nerd, I even teared up a little at the end of ‘Batman Begins’ (“You’ll never have to”). Of all the movies I’ve ever seen, though, the end of ‘The Iron Giant’ fucking destroys me.

What is the little physical habit that gives away your insecure moments? My eyes darting around. Sometimes I’ll take in a sudden through my nose or cross my arms, too.

Do you know anyone famous? No, I’m far too boring for that. But if anyone has Jessica Simpson’s MySpace name…

Do you know how to play poker? They always ask this question. Can’t men get over themselves without spilling their testosterone all over the place?

What do you miss most about being a kid? The complete and utter lack of responsibility.

Are you happy with your given name? Yes.

How much money would it take to get you to give up the Internet for one year? We’d be in the millions there.

What color is your bedroom? White. But Becca still has those Hilary Duff posters.

What was the last song you were listening to? Seriously? ‘Abraham, Martin & John.’ The Leonard Nimoy cover.

Do you talk a lot? Incessantly.

Which musical instrument do you wish you could play? The piano or a face-melting guitar. For melting faces.

How do you eat an apple? Uh, with my mouth... Don't you?

Do you have tattoos? No, but I can think of a few designs I’d like, such as the Superman logo or the number 42.

Do you drive a stick? No. I don’t ride in a horse-drawn carriage, either. Are there any other outdated means of transportation you’d like me to try?

What's one trait you dislike in a person? The smug intellectual superiority and arrogance I tend to display constantly.

What kind of watch do you wear? Columbia. And I like to look at an analog rather than a digital.

Do you consider yourself materialistic? Are you kidding? Completely.

What do you cook the best? Pancakes, which, I know, are not difficult.

Favorite writing instrument? A fine point ink pen. I tend to stick with the Precise V5 Pilot.

What kind of books do you like to read? History books, books about animation, science fiction novels, literature, what have you. I just love to read.

If you won the lottery, what would you do? Pay my student loans, pay my bills, buy a new car, and just relax with a huge weight off my shoulders.

Burial or cremation? Viking funeral, preferably. I’m serious.

How many online journals do you read regularly? I read about 10 or 12 different blogs in the morning. I also get my news from online versions of print papers.

What's one thing you're a loser at? Life, mostly. And fucking video games!

If you don't like a person, how do you show it? Lots of disapproving “you’re an idiot” type looks.

Do you cry in front of your friends? Whenever I have, it’s been uncomfortable. Thanks for the support, Carl.

When's the last time you cried? I cried recently while watching a movie. Surprised, I know.

Favorite type of music? I love almost any kind of music, except for emo. That shit's embarrassing.

What are your kids’ names? I don’t have any kids, but I have lots of names floating around in my head.

Do you watch a lot of television? Too much, probably. But what else am I going to do, work for a living? Ha ha ha ha!

Do you like to shop? I used to. Now I can’t buy anything, so it’s not as much fun these days. Still…

What is your hidden talent? I’m much too much of an egomaniac to keep any of my talents hidden.

Would you die to save the life of someone you deeply love? Yes. Absolutely.

How long have you known your best friend(s)? I can’t believe it, but I’ve known Becca for 12 years and Carl for considerably longer. I don’t want to think about it, actually, because then I’ll remember that I graduated high school 12 years ago, and I’ll just feel… oh my God, is that a liver spot on my hand?

Is he/she married? None of my friends are married, and neither am I.

Do you own a Bible? Yes, something like four of them. I got one for Confirmation, one for this big Lutheran gathering in 1994 (they handed them out). I think they’re both NRSV. I also have a Bible that someone gave me where you read one passage every day. And I have a Gideon Bible. Know thy enemy, I guess. Or maybe I just like to study mythology...

Do you play chess? Yes. I enjoy it a lot, though I’m not great at it.

Do you like the rain? I love the rain more than the sun.

Do you like thunderstorms? Yes. You know what goes good with storms? Breton music.

Do you believe in God? Christ, no.

8 Favorites:
Favorite Color: Purple and green.
Favorite Food: Pizza is nature’s most perfect food. Ask Harlan Ellison and he’ll tell you.
Favorite Song: ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me’ by Mel Carter.
Favorite Movie: ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ is at the top of an enormous list.
Favorite Sport: Baseball, though I’m not much for sports.
Favorite Season: Fall.
Favorite Day Of the Week: It’s always been Thursday for some reason.
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Chocolate.

9 Currents:
Current Mood: Guardedly happy.
Current Taste: Huh?
Current Clothes: Blue shirt, white socks, and grey sleep pants with, yes, Popeye on them.
Current Desktop: This absolutely gorgeous picture of Michelle Marsh. Here it is:

Current Toenail Color: Yellow, except for that one black one. Just kidding, they’re all black.
Current Time: 11:05 in the ay-em.
Current Surroundings: I’m in my living room, so living stuff: couch, chair, desk, some paintings, table, a couple of boxes, stacks of magazines, an immense music collection, and the whole TV-DVD-VCR-stereo-cable-TiVo-Playstation 2 thing.
Current Annoyance(s): Being in debt and unemployed.
Current Thought: Boobs. That’s usually what’s going on up there.

5 Firsts:
First Best Friend: Kevin, I think. Or Shane.
First Pet: A hamster of some kind. My parents had a Siamese cat when I was born. Siamese cats are evil.
First Piercing: None for me.
First Crush: Daisy Duke.
First Music: My dad's 8-track collection: Beach Boys, Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens and other good stuff like that.

5 Lasts:
Last Cigarette: About five years ago, after I’d already made the switch to cherry-flavored cigarillos.
Last Car Ride: A couple of days ago.
Last Movie Seen: ‘Duma,’ yesterday. A disappointment. Last time I was in the theater? ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ also a disappointment.
Last Phone Call: My ma called on Friday.
Last CD Played: Brian Wilson, ‘Smile.’ I know, you’re shocked.

4 Things You've Done Today
1. Ate breakfast.
2. Watched TV.
3. Updated my blog.
4. Pretended I couldn’t hear Becca when she asked me to take the rent check to the office. I mean, I didn’t hear her.

3 Things You Can Hear Right Now
1. Music.
2. The breeze outside.
3. Me typing.

5 Things You Can't Live Without
1. Music.
2. Art.
3. Boobs.
4. Rage.
5. Love.

2 Things You Do When You're Bored
1. Read.
2. Fill out memes. Posted by Picasa