Friday, January 09, 2009

Well I've got a gal, she's as cute as she can be. She's a distant cousin but she's not too distant with me.

Oh noes! I missed noting Elvis's birthday yesterday. Happy birthday big guy. Here's a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich for you.

Also noteworthy is that today marks only eleven more days of having to endure the monkey juggling the hand grenade. Yay!

I see the Florida Tebows won the BcS "championship" last night. Thanks AP voters for supporting that bullshit. I am rooting big time that the Utah AG's potential lawsuit breaks up that joke of a system once and for all. Playoffs!

Lockwood has a link up to a great nerd test. I scored nerd god. Bow down before me my fellow geeks.

I'm with randal graves. I thought it was kind of cool that bands began releasing music on vinyl again but my daughter got me an old style album for Christmas and I'm still still scratching my head as to how I'm going to get it to play. I have a turntable somewhere but will it even work with my super modern stero equipment.

Swinebread wrote a nice little post about the classic film "The Warriors."

Ubermilf picked on rich people who don't know how to put cream cheese on a bagel. Like it's so damned simple to spread that stuff.

Don snabulus wins the "Simultaneous Hope and Bile" award for his post that contained this: "With that said, I think the passing of Dubya, like a painful kidney stone, is worth celebrating, so the inauguration will be time for joy at Rancho Snabulus."

Dguzman uses that mathy thingy to prove Bush was a failure. I don't need math to tell me that. Any man that chokes on a pretzel is not a man to be trusted with nuclear secrets.

Distributorcap NY is still taking nominations for Douchebags of the Year. Harry Reid rightly leads the pack.

Monkey von Monkerstein has his own plan to revive the economy. His best idea: "Keep all the proposed stimulus money out of the hands of banks, financial professionals, and anyone connected with any Wall Street institution."

Enigma asks a question I've been wondering myself: "Dear Mr. Bush, did you give your blessing for the violence in Gaza that's killing women, children and refugees?" Israel doesn't make a move without consulting the United States. Besides being an enormously immoral act, this comes across as the Bush administration's version of removing the letter"w" from keyboards on the way out the door. Only in their version people die.

Pissed Off Patricia has spent most of the week sipping martinis. I'm so jealous.

Thoughtcriminal makes the clever observation that, if you predict something has a roughly 40% chance of happening, you will never have it held against you if it never happens.

I wrote similar responses to this post by Liberality apologizing to the people of Gaza and this post by franiam asking about the definition of "peace." Here's why I sigh and shake my head when I watch the violence like that which has recently erupted in Gaza--

I believe that there are two types of people in the world.

In the first category falls the majority of the world's population. Whether they live in Senegal or Syracuse these people can be defined as having no other goal than wanting to live their lives safe and unmolested.

These people (and I count myself in this category) simply want to spend their days going to work, whether it's a factory or a farm, come home to watch a football (or soccer) game, make love to their husband or wife (or SO) and go to sleep with a satisfied smile on their face.

They have no larger goals in life other than celebrate the addition of children to their families, share the joy as those children beat life's challenges and dance at the weddings or graduations of those same children.

The other type of people are unfortunately a little more driven (type A?) which often puts them leadership positions within whatever society they inhabit. They tend want to believe something so strongly that they're willing to start wars over that belief. Sadly, these wars are ultimately fought by the rest of us who just want to live our lives in peace.

If we could just get this second group of people out of power the world would be a much better place.

(In case anyone is wondering- Elvis falls into that second category but he was the rare form of benevolent dictator.)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

So you lied to me! And you admit it without shame!

For longer than I can remember the readers of Oregon's only daily newspaper have had to suffer through the insipid mental driveling of conservative columnist David Reinhard. Reinhard was sort of a cross between George Will (sans intellect) and Rush Limbaugh (sans attempts at humor.) Talentless, humorless and lazy, Reinhard's columns read like he'd taken the words directly off the GOP blast fax for the day and simply rearranged them into something he could loosely call his own.

Reinhard seemed to exist on the pages of the Oregonian for one reason only- to maintain, along with liberal columnist David Sarasohn, the faux sense of balance so popular among the media these days. A balance, I might add, that tries to level right wing fantasy with center left moderation. To this end Reinhard excelled at his job- peppering his column with easily dis proven lies both big and small.

So it was with cautious optimism that I greeted the announcement just before the end of the year that Reinhard was retiring his column. Surely this action signaled a recognition by the Oregonian that the country, and their metro readership, had grown tired of the right-wing pablum that has poisoned the public discourse over the course of the last few years. The paper would have to acknowledge that the America of Barack Obama would be vastly different than the American of George W. Bush.

Unfortunately, when faced with these new realities the Oregonian opted instead to paint the pig. They hired "independent" and "center-right" columnist Elizabeth Hovde to fill Reinhard's two right shoes. She begins with the paint--

Like many people in this great, green, soggy region of independents, I am not partisan. Subscribing to the platform of just one political party feels as awkward as dressing up for church in Portland, a city where many pastors preach in jeans.

She's just a regular Tom McCall. Only less partisan.

How does she define this independent, non-partisan POV of hers?

I am conservative, however. I'm pro-life. I am anti-bailouts. I think unions are outdated, overly political and that every state should have a right-to-work law ending compulsory unionism. I oppose Oregon's Death With Dignity Act; I oppose even calling it the "Death With Dignity" Act. I am skeptical of some of Portland's Smart Growth policies and believe they've helped create massive sprawl just across the river.

She is anti-woman, anti-union, anti-land use and anti-personal/ regional responsibility.

I worry that many public schools teach sex education in ways that undermine parents. It's maddening to me that minors can't get tattoos in Oregon but they can receive abortions without a parent's knowledge, care or guidance. I grow weary of government safety nets that not only comfort those in true need but also become hammocks for those with an ability to be self-sufficient.

She believes strongly that one should keep one's head firmly up one's ass when dealing with the realities of teen pregnancy. She further believes that it would be better for the poor to die and decrease the surplus population.

I believe government's job is to support an equality of opportunity rather than an equality of outcome. That's why President-elect Barack Obama's talk about being your brother's keeper scares me silly, and his cradle-to-grave vision for education makes me clutch my wallet. At the same time, I feel hopeful when he speaks and am glad he's rejuvenated so many Americans.

She thinks Obama is a socialist and taxes are teh bad.

I supported the Iraq invasion in 2003. Heck, I even voted for George W. Bush -- twice.

This speaks for itself.

It's ridiculous that the Oregonian would replace one intellectually lazy, conservative dimwit who wears their stupidity like a badge of honor with another who shares 99% of the same views but calls herself an "independent" and then try and pass that off as change. It's more of the same and it's an insult to their mostly center-left readership which they continue to refuse to cater to.

I used to be sad at the prospect of traditional print newspapers going the way of the dodo. Not anymore. It's become clearer and clearer that they have no one to blame but themselves for their situation. They treat their customers like morons and then are surprised when their customers start looking to alternate outlets of information, most notably the Internet, to get their news. Feigning surprise at this turn of events just makes them all the more pathetic.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

You're so... French.

One upside of being snowed in for a week was that I got to watch a lot of DVDs. Here's a few mini reviews---

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

This French spy film parody was the best film I've seen in a while. Perhaps the easiest way to describe it is a cross between the Sean Connery James Bond and the Blake Edwards Pink Panther films. French spy Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath (OSS 117) is sent to Egypt in search of a missing colleague and finds himself enmeshed in plots involving everyone from Islamic radical groups to British Secret Service to secret Nazi cells.

OSS 117 is as clueless as he is culturally insensitive. He has a hard time stifling his laughter each time his Egyptian love interest Larmina El Akmar Betouche describes her Muslim faith, telling her "you'll grow up." He insults the Egyptian ambassador to such a degree he's thrown out of the embassy. In short- the character is a great send up of the Western arrogance towards the Middle East that still exists today.

Everything about the film is done "old school.' Driving shots have backgrounds projected behind them. The camera was pretty static with not a Steadicam to be found. The music was a perfect send up of the old Bond scores with lots of horns and strings accentuating the action.

There were two, perhaps three gut-busting scenes in this film and laughter pretty much straight through. I'd highly recommend this film if you're a fan of James Bond or just need a good laugh.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season Three

I've been sort of waiting anxiously for the kids to get old enough to watch this show as it does have an abundance of mature situations despite it's comic book title. When this show originally aired I avoided it like the plague simply based on that silly title alone. Thus, I missed most of the first three seasons and am discovering them along with my brood.

The third season of the show brought the character of Faith the street smart Slayer and the evil Mayor antagonist. There are a lot of standout episodes but the third season episode that I think epitomizes why so many people love this show is actually the Xander episode "The Zeppo."

In "The Zeppo" Buffy's friend Xander is going through an identity crisis trying to define his role to the Scooby Gang in fighting evil. What follows is a crazy evening that has Xander shuttling around a street gang of zombies in his uncles borrowed Chevy convertible, hooking up with the badass Faith who is way out of his league and ultimately stopping the high school from being blown up by the zombie gang.

What makes this whole thing so cool is how Joss Whedon and the other writers on the show here dealt unconventionally with the normal structure tv shows. Typically, if you focus on one of the supporting characters you still have the main character go through some sort of minor arc. In "The Zeppo" they basically have Buffy and the major characters literally dealing with the end of the world in the background story while Xander deals with his own drama in the main story. The show deconstructs and pokes fun at itself in the process.

Mamma Mia!

First- my chick flick bonafides. I enjoy the hell out of "Bridget Jones Diary." When Bridget gets drunk and sings along to "All by Myself" I can't help but get a little choked up. I love the Hugh Grant/ Colin Firth fight scene, Bridget's dad and a heap of other stuff make that film a classic.

I also it find it necessary to point out that I have quite a few musicals on my great films list. Albert Finney in "Scrooge" is a wonderful that I absolutely HAVE to watch every holiday. The scene in "the Sound of Music" where Captain Von Trapp fires Maria and then goes into the house to see his children singing to his fiance gets me every time. Don't even get me started on "Shall We Dance?" in "The King and I."

That preface is necessary because, when I say I didn't enjoy "Mamma Mia!" all that much I wan't it to be clear that it's not genre that turns me off. If I had to put my finger on the biggest thing that stunk up this movie for me it would be the music. Let's face it- Abba just weren't that good.

But it wasn't just the music. My problems with this musical were the same problems I had with the recent "Across the Universe," a film in which I very much enjoyed the covers of Beatles tunes. My issue is that the music felt "shoehorned" into the story rather than flowing naturally out of the narrative. In both cases I'm certain this is a product of neither writing the music for the story, nor being able to look to more than one artist to find the right song as in the case of the far superior "Moulin Rouge!"

Worst of all my wife loves the flick which marks one of the few times we disagree on entertainment stuff. It means I'm going to be subjected to "Take A Chance On Me" for years.

The price we pay for love.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Now we English are a practical people. I've no intention of drowning with you.

"What I did on my Christmas vacation" by Vernon Wormer.

Mostly I read, relaxed, caught up on movies and ate.

I did have a couple of eventful things happen.

We were invited to a formal, black-tie party on New Year's Eve at the Hilton. My buddy who owns the local paper had talked the guy organizing the event into comped rooms and tickets in exchange for advertising in his paper.

The thing was insane. There were six bands each playing in different ballrooms and representing different eras of rock from Motown to grunge. Booze and food flowed freely (we had set up a mini bar in one of the hotel rooms.) We had a freakin' blast.

Unfortunately the other big event wasn't as much fun. It's still snowing here and we've had flooding in the little creek that runs through the property. The house has been okay but the goat pen was almost completely flooded with just the little goat house being the only thing above water.
So I had to wade out into the creek (now about three-feet deep) with a shovel and try and divert the thing around the goat pen. All the while Little Joe was standing in his house bleating at me---

"Meh! Meh! Meh!"

Which translated from goat means "get the water out of my pen you stupid, hornless fucker!"

After several hours I was able to divert the rapids without even a "thank you" from the fat little bastard. The neighbor won't be too pleased with the new course of the creek, but that's his problem.

Anyhoo, it's nice to be back in my cushy office sipping my java. Work is more relaxing.