Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year in Review--2009 Edition

Well, here we are at the end of 2009, and I feel obligated to give you the 3 readers of this blog my traditional year-end review, so here goes!

Best Movie of the Year:

Winner: AVATAR. Cliched plot aside, I've never been so transfixed by any movie, and I have to say that this is one movie that lived up to the hype.
Runner up: TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE FALLEN. I don't care what the critics thought. I liked it!

Worst Movie of the Year:

Winner (sort of): 2012. I've never walked out of the theater after a disaster movie laughing my ass off. Until this movie.
Runner up: Knowing. If there was ever a better example of the Oscar curse than Nicholas Cage, I'm having a hard time thinking of it.

Most Disappointing Movie of the Year:

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. This movie was like watching a live action version of Team America: World Police. Seriously. As if the French needed another reason to hate us...
Runner up: Tie: Star Trek. I'm not sure why J.J. Abrans thought he needed to take the entire Gene Roddenberry ST universe out to the courtyard, tie it to a post, and shoot it, but that's what he did. And that is not a good thing...
Tie: Watchmen. After reading the full graphic novel, I was impressed by how faithful the filmmakers were able to follow it--right up until the end...

Movie I wish I'd seen:
Up. Why can't I get over my fear of seeing animated movies in the theater?!

Movie I'm glad I didn't see:
Inglorious Basterds. Why is it that critics think that everything Quentin Tarantino touches turns to gold? Trust me when I say that they are WRONG!

Best Sports moment of 2009:
OSU 21. UM 10. Nuff said
Runner up:
OSU 24, PSU 7

Worst Sports moment of 2009:
Texas 24, OSU 21
Runner up:
Stanley Cup game 7: Pittsburgh 2, Detroit 1

Well, that's all I've got for now. Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Things you Miss

When you don't have cable TV (Yes, I'm the one!)

Didya catch that? "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during Bush's term".

Um, Okay.

Well, I suppose you could say she is right in one way: We did NOT have A terrorist attack on our country--we had THE terrorist attack.

Or, perhaps you could spin it another way: We didn't have one during his SECOND term...

Ah, who am I kidding?! She's a MORON!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ted Nugent, You. Are. An. Idiot.

Rocker Ted Nugent recently made this statement to Royal Flush magazine:

"I think that Barack Hussein Obama should be put in jail. It is clear that Barack Hussein Obama is a communist. (Former Chinese leader) Mao Tse Tung lives and his name is Barack Hussein Obama. This country should be ashamed. I wanna throw up."

Me too.

I am waiting for the same type of uproar that happened after Natalie Maines comment in a concert in England, wherein she said she was ashamed that George Bush was from Texas (paraphrasing).

Seriously. People destroyed Dixie Chicks CD's. DJ's were suspended for playing the Dixie Chicks. The three women in the band received death threats.

So will the same thing happen to Nugent? Judging by the cheers heard at his concerts--especially after he exhorts President Obama and Hilary Clinton to "suck on his machine gun (again, paraphrasing)--I have serious doubts.

So I will simply say this: Ted Nugent, you are a moron. I don't own any of your albums, and I never will. And in the future, if I hear one of your songs on the radio, I'm switching to another station.

Because that is my choice. I am an American, not a communist.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


It's a movie.

It's a good movie.

It's a GREAT movie.

I highly recommend this movie to you the 3 readers of this blog. And see the "Real 3D" version if you can. I won't tell you to go see it--now! I will simply say that I don't think you'll be disappointed if you do.

I will admit, I was skeptical. I have grown increasingly nearsighted as I grow older. As a result, I must wear glasses if I want to see anything clearly that is farther away than 15 feet. This means that when I go to see a movie in a theater, I either have to sit in the front row (a guaranteed recipe for a head and neck ache) or wear my glasses to see the movie clearly. This of course, brings me in a roundabout way to my point: I had to wear the Real 3D glasses over my own glasses if I wanted to get the full effect. This was also a guaranteed recipe for a skull-splitting headache.

But it sooo didn't matter.

For nearly 3 hours today, I sat in a movie theater and was transported into another world.

This was the first movie I've seen in a theater using the Real 3D technology, and I think this was also the first movie that REALLY made use of the technology. And I have to say that if the brainiacs working this technology ever figure a way to make it so the audience doesn't have to wear the glasses to experience the effect, there will never be another major motion picture made without it.

Of course, after I got over my awe over the movie technology (it took about 2 hours after I got home), I began to dissect this movie with what I hoped was an objective eye. It has a rather standard plot, as I know has been pointed out by various critics: The Evil Humans invade a lush paradise populated by an initially peaceful indigenous species. After their initial efforts are repulsed when said species fights back, they try a different approach: send in infiltrators to study the culture and determine its weaknesses. Of course, said infiltrators naturally come to sympathize with the indigenous species' cause, and over the course of such become its greatest champions and fiercest defenders.

The fact that the plot is cliched, I believe, does not detract from it. It's a well-known fact that any number of tragedies of human history are the result of one race of humans wiping out another. And if it takes a $200 million+ movie with some of the most spectacular special effects seen in a loooong time to drive this point home, then I have no problem with it.

In the meantime, this movie was the most entertaining movie I've seen in a long time, and I may do something that I haven't done in over 2 decades: I may go see it in a theater again. It was that good. And well worth the 3 minutes I sat in the theater afterwords massaging my temples to try to ease the headache caused by the glasses.

So again I will say to you who read this: If you see it, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

You can't say that about many movies these days.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's the End of the World as we Know it.

Can someone please explain to me humanity's fascination with the end of the world?

Both the Old and New Testament of the Bible have vividly described apocalyptic events. The end of the world exists in the History of the Greek and Roman Gods and Norse Gods. The Qur'an predicts the end of the world.

Uncounted fiction writers have predicted the end of the world, caused by everything from tiny viruses to thermonuclear war to Alien conquest. As have numerous Hollyweird movies. Roland Emmerich has gotten extremely rich by destroying the world no less than three times by my count. I think to top his latest opus he may actually have to literally destroy the planet. Seriously. The man decided that a limo driver/failed author would end up being the savior of one quarter of all surviving humans on the planet. It's hard to imagine where you go from there.

So why the fascination with the end? Why are we as a species so obsessed with how things will end for us?

I have my own theory.

It is this: The poem The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot ends with the four line stanza:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

My opinion is that it expresses the idea that our world will not end with some biblical apocalypse, but will simply fade away. We will all die because we have either fallen victim to some virus that will destroy us all gradually, or because we have simply exhausted the resources our planet has to offer us, before we can find some way to replace them.

And while some may survive this end, it's not the kind of survival that anyone will enjoy (Which has ALSO been the subject of many movies and video games. Which are also often bestsellers--but that is another story).

So I believe we enjoy watching movies and reading books that detail humanity's spectacular end simply because we dislike considering Eliot's alternative.

If you have any doubts about this theory, then please consider the box office difference between 2012 and The Road.


Saturday, December 05, 2009

My Problem with Wikipedia

I'm sure all 3 readers of this blog are familiar with the on-line encyclopedia site known as Wikipedia. In case you aren't, the site is a totally free, user-created on-line encyclopedia with fourteen million plus entirely user-created articles in ten different languages, on every subject from Aardvark to zygote and all points in between.

It is an incredible achievement. The bulk of the articles are thoroughly researched, cross-indexed, footnoted, and well-written with few if any grammatical or spelling errors. There are no ads on the site (other than what might appear as a by-product of certain article topics), not only a rarity in this day and age of internet commerce, but almost unheard of. The site operates entirely off revenue donated by its on-line users. It's truly a remarkable feat.

But I do have one problem with it: Links like this one (WARNING: Link leads to female nudity!!!!)

Now, I realize the old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" has never been more appropriate when trying to describe an article of clothing. And I am a healthy, heterosexual human male, so I enjoy looking at pictures of young, gorgeous, topless women (I'd be VERY surprised if that surprised anyone). That's not my problem.

My problem is, anyone, and I do mean ANYONE, can access this page. And hundreds, if not thousands, of other pages that are even more explicit. There is no filtering of the pages, no "adult" content warnings, no ANYTHING.

And believe me when I say that the page I linked to above is far, far, FAR from being the most explicit page available. If you doubt me, then go to Wikipedia and search for the most sexually explicit thing you can think of. Odds are pretty good that you'll be able to find it.

I'm not disparaging Wikipedia at all. Far from it. I sing its praises regularly, to anyone who will listen. I'm just saying that maybe a few adult content warnings and/or a little bit of control might be in order.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Harmonium

What is a Harmonium?

For those who are unaware, the Harmonium was once referred to as the "Poor man's Pipe Organ". It was a complicated musical instrument capable, on a lesser scale, of replicating the sounds created by a full pipe organ, without the pipes. The larger versions could even take the place of organs in churches. The instrument was hand and/or foot-powered, and ranged from a simple handheld keyboard instrument to a full upright piano-sized instrument.

It is unknown what was the inspiration for the creation of this instrument. It served no useful purpose, other than creating a cheap replacement for pipe organs in churches that could not afford such instruments. And, with the development of electronic organs, it became obsolete and is no longer used.

What could inspire someone to created such a thing? Something that would have limited use at best, and something that could be easily replaced by soemthing much smaller and more efficient?

Throughout history, invention has been at best an inefficient process, with highly inefficient creations preceding the more effective final (assumed) versions (think of the steam engine vs. the internal combustion engine). Rather than making the best of ourselves, invention is plagued with what are assumed to be numerous mistakes that are corrected before the final result.

But the mistakes can produce some pretty spectacular results...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Commercial Creeps me Out.

I wonder if any of you the 3 readers of this blog have seen the latest Michelin commercial...

Well, if you haven't, let me describe it, if I can: It starts with a dark country road. It is a dark, cloudy, rainy night. On this road are dozens of cute, fluffy, animated bunnies, squirrels, and various other cute critters.

All of them in varied ROADKILL POSES!!

Seriously. These animals have flattened stomachs, legs, and various other body parts, all with tire treads across them. The only thing missing is the blood (Maybe I shouldn't give them any ideas...)

Believe me, it's worse than this makes it sound.

Then, of course, out comes the Michelin Man to save the day, by throwing Michelin tires at a car as it is about to run down yet another defenseless animal.

OK first of all, whoever was the "creative" mind behind this creepy commercial, I desperately implore you to seek professional help NOW!

Second, to the Michelin exec that approved this ad: I really don't see a big Christmas bonus in your future.

Memo to Michelin: The best way to sell a lot of tires is NOT to feature ROADKILL in your commercials!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Roland Emmerich Hates us All

By my count, Roland Emmerich has now destroyed the world, or at least a major portion of it, no less than 3 times now. He's done it with aliens, Global warming, and now, in his latest pile of crap, 2012, a complete polar shift.

As usual, the science is suspect, the writing is terrible, the effects are eye-popping, the ending is predictable, and the cliches are flying right, left, and center.

You know, it's usually not a good sign when you leave the theater after a disaster movie laughing so hard you nearly piss yourself, but I simply couldn't help myself. This was, hands down, probably the silliest movie so far this year. And that's saying something. After all, this is the year of G.I. Joe and the new Star Trek movie.

Just so you don't waste your money, let me spoil a few things for you that you might think would make this movie worth seeing.

* John Cusack does not die.

* You don't get to see Amanda Peet naked (for a change).

* Arnold Schwarzenegger does not play himself

* Woody Harrelson dies spectacularly--er, wait, that's a good one. Strike that.

It's a typical Emmerich movie in other words: $200 million spent on effects and about a buck-fifty on the script. Other than some truly spectacular effects which will surely win the Oscar, this movie has nothing else to recommend it. Take my advice and save your money. They really aren't worth it.

Want an example? OK Sparky, you asked for it. Here's my prime example of how dumb this movie was: Over the course of this movie, the magnetic poles shift over 200 degrees of latitude, California falls into the ocean, Ultra-volcanoes erupt and cover the surface of the planet with ash clouds, 100 story skyscrapers topple, and 30000 foot high tsunamis surge over the top of mountains in the Himalayas. And yet, through all this, people's cellphones still work just fine. Not a single structure still stands on 5 of the 7 major continents, and yet the cell towers are still there.

Yeah. That's what I thought.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I am Older Than Sesame Street

Sesame Street is 40 years old today.

I am 42 years old.

I'm older than Sesame Street.

Fuck,I'm old.

Apologies for the coarse language. It's just that HOW THE HELL DID I GET SO OLD?!!!

Anyway, I grew up watching Sesame Street. I loved the characters. I loved the Cookie Monster. I loved Grover. I loved The Count.

Most importantly, I loved Oscar the Grouch. He fit with my personality so well. I am, you may have noticed, grumpy, cranky, and cynical. And, despite what others have told me, I come by this naturally. Part of it comes from my natural disposition, and part of it comes from always having been younger than my classmates when I grew up.

You see, when I started school, You didn't have to be 5 before you started, as long as you turned 5 within the school year. When we moved to a state that didn't allow this, I was allowed to stay at my current level of education. So I was younger than almost all of my classmates.

As a result, I started out with a big chip on my shoulder. Add to this buck teeth and being short by nature, and I became a world-class grouch. So imagine my joy when I could tune in every day and see a character who was, without fail, cranky, grumpy, and almost impossible to cheer up. Just like me.

And it has brought joy to my grumpy heart that over the years, with all the changes to Sesame Street, Oscar has remained consistent. He wakes up cranky. He lives in a garbage can and will never move. He is reluctant to join in with the other characters in their songs. And while he may be a grump, he secretly has a heart of gold and will always be loyal to his friends.

So here's to you, Oscar! May you always keep Sesame Street honest.

(And oh, by the way, if you should ever decide to leave your beloved garbage can for a Recycling bin, I will hunt you down and cut out your worthless fucking felt heart. Consider yourself warned!)

(Again, sorry about the language, but it does happen...)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Learning all the Wrong Lessons

As expected, the Republicans and their neo-con talking heads are currently crowing over their electoral victories in New Jersey and Virginia last Thursday. They claim the elections were a repudiation of the Obama administrations policies and that this is the beginning of the end of the administration.

They are wrong.

In the first place, Virginia is a typically red state that swung blue last election mostly due to fatigue over Republican policies. And the New Jersey election was so close it can hardly be called a sweeping victory.

No, the race that they SHOULD be paying attention to is the New York 23rd Congressional district. This is a district that has voted Republican since there WAS a Republican party. And yet it was won by a Democrat.

Why? Because the Rush Limbaugh/Sarah Palin wing of the Republican Party took over the election. And swung it to the Democrats with their extremist views. They embraced a 3rd party conservative over the moderate Republican candidate who had a strong chance of winning. And they handed the election to the Democrats as a result.

This is the exact same sort of infighting that is the main reason only 25% of the electorate identifies itself as Republicans. The Republican party is being taken over by the extreme conservatives, and as a result they are driving people away.

And I couldn't be happier. I can't think of a better way to ensure Republicans never win another election.

Advice to Republicans: Stop listening to Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity. They're steering you in a direction that you REALLY don't want to go.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why I will Never be a Catholic

I'm a single Protestant male living in Toledo. I'm surrounded in many places by Catholics, in my workplace, my social circle, and my regular daily life.

I've been asked why I'm not a Catholic. It's for many reasons, but chief among them is their treatment of women.

I have never been able to understand why any major organized religion would ever suppress the contributions women are able to make. Throughout history, no organization or civilization that ever suppressed the contributions that could be made by either gender has ever prospered.

But that's only one of my complaints. Another is the prohibition against marriage by the members of the clergy. In nearly every other major organized religion, the members of the clergy are not only allowed but encouraged to marry and reproduce. They see it as one of the most sure ways to ensure their religions continue to survive and thrive. It also prevents those same clergy members from falling victim to deviant thoughts brought about by repression.

But perhaps my most basic reason for my opposition to the Catholic faith is its utter inability to accept any other faith as valid. I strongly believe that there is a God, but I believe just as strongly that He doesn't care one way or another how we worship Him (or Her!)

If Catholics learn to accept that premise, I'll learn to accept them. Until then, I won't.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Pickle Jar

Recently, a co-worker of mine forwarded me an e-mail called "The Pickle Jar". It was written anonymously. It details the story of a young child who grows up in a small unnamed mill town. It seems that every night the father of this young child would drop his pocket change into an empty pickle jar on the nightstand beside his bed. When that jar became full, the coins would be sorted, rolled up, and taken to the bank to be deposited into a college fund for the child.

When asked about the jar, the father always told the child that he (or she) would have that money in a bank account someday and would never have to work in the town mill as a result. The jar would never be raided, even in times of desperate financial crisis. The jar was a way to ensure that the child would always have a better life than the parents had.

Afterward, once the child had reaped the benefits of that carefully saved college fund, the Pickle Jar disappeared. Years later, when the child had a child of his or her own, the Pickle Jar magically re-appeared on the nightstand, and a new tradition of saving pocket change for a college fund began.

Naturally, this bit of e-mail glurge is often dismissed by cynics like myself. It is often accompanied by expressions of blessing that causes people like me to dismiss it.

Obviously, this story is at best imagined from vague childhood memories, but it is a lesson that should be learned: Saving your money is the best way to invest it.

I recall an episode of The Simpsons wherein Homer was asked to create a "Swear Jar" which he would contribute a dollar to each time he swore while trying to build a homemade doghouse. By the time he was done with it, he had saved enough to buy a custom built doghouse.

If a fictional cartoon character can learn such a basic lesson, why can't we?

It is rumored that the late Roy Rogers once said that the easiest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

My own father is now living a very prosperous retirement because he saved his money.

I will pass on the story of The Pickle Jar to anyone I know. Minus the sickening sweetness of course.

Maybe it will inspire some folks to do what is sensible with their money: Save it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Once upon a time, I relied on the daily newspaper comic strips as my only source of daily animated entertainment.

To a certain extent, I still do. I borrow a newspaper from a co-worker, read Non-sequitur, and Dilbert. then I hand the paper back.

And then I go on-line, and first read the daily webcomic Least I Could Do. Then I go and see if Nuklear Power has a new comic up. Then I go to Order of the Stick.

These are just a few of the regular webcomics that have managed to make it as commercial successes. And they all did it with no support from any traditional media whatsoever.

None of these webcomics became well-known by advertising in traditional media either. All have popularity spread by word-of-web.

The same thing happened with comics since before the turn of the 19th century. All of them have spread because they were more popular than the medium that carried them. Editorial cartoons have and will long outlast the original medium that carried them.

If the traditional media wants to survive, they will realize and adapt to this fact.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski has been arrested. Apparently, all parents of 13 year old girls can sleep easy.

At least, that is what the L.A. District Attorney's office would apparently have us believe.

Polanski was arrested for drugging and raping a 13-year old girl. It was a crime. One to which he pleaded guilty. And spent time in jail undergoing psychiatric evaluation for.

He had been able to arrange a plea bargain with the state to avoid major jail time. I don't know the circumstances of this agreement, but apparently Polanski had found out that the judge in the case was planning to refuse it.

So Polanski did what anyone else with the means and the opportunity to do so would do: he fled.

He spent the better part of the next 40 years living abroad, never able to come home again. In the years since, Polanski has made dozens of films and won Oscars that he has not been able to accept. Meanwhile, his victim has gotten on with her life, is married and a mother, and had probably hoped that this particular part of her life would never be dredged up again.

But it has happened.

Some ambitious L.A. DA, hoping no doubt for bigger and better things in the future, arranged for Polanski to be arrested while in Switzerland. And the whole can of worms pops open again.

So, Roman Polanski will now spend months in jail fighting extradition. His victim, who thought this was behind her, is dragged into it again. And the news organizations of the world focus their attention on this story.

And they ignore the stories about other 13 year old girls being raped, or worse.

THAT, my friends, is the real tragedy of this story. Today, now, even as I write this, there are crimes being committed against young girls all over the world that are tens or hundred times worse than what happened to Polanski's victim. A good portion of those crimes are probably happening right here in the good old U.S. of A.

Nobody will care about these, of course, because the perpetrators and victims of these crimes are not famous. Not worth reporting about.

Not worth caring about.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What is the Alternative?

We are slaves to fossil fuels.

And why not? They are currently the most efficient producers of energy. Be they coal, oil, natural gas, or whatever, there is currently no viable alternative.

Doubt me? Consider.

Wind power: I recently went on vacation through Ontario. I saw what wind farms look like. Giant towering turbines that thrill on first glance, then simply become eyesores that produce little return for great investment.

Solar: A pipe dream. Unless and until the energy eggheads develop the perfect solar panel that can defeat cloud cover, it will never work.

Nuclear: Will always be dangerous and toxic. Nuclear power will never be safe until Fusion is here. Fusion is the energy of the future--and it always will be.

So we are stuck with burning our fossil fuels until they run out. We don't have an alternative. And when they do run out, we will be forced back into a simpler existence. Maybe not within my lifetime, but it will happen.

Maybe not. There may be some egghead someday soon that will solve this problem, hopefully before my nephews are forced to deal with it.

God, I hope so.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009



What do I see when I tune my non-cable television?

ABC: Obama's speech to Congress.
CBS: Obama's speech to Congress.
NBC: Obama's speech to Congress.
PBS: Obama's speech to Congress.
FOX: So You Think You can Dance.

If anyone at this point thinks that Fox is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, please consider how many times Fox didn't show a speech and/or Press conference given by George W. Bush.

Monday, September 07, 2009

A Trend I'd Like to End

I have a bad habit.

I have this notorious tendency to avoid seeing CG animated movies in theaters.

This habit has caused me to miss seeing any number of quality films over the last 2 decades. They are, in no particular order: Toy Story (1 & 2), Shrek (All), The Incredibles, Cars, Finding Nemo, Bolt, Monsters Inc., A Bug's Life, and many, many others.

(I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not gonna link to those. I'm not your damn search engine!)

You see, I am a reasonably mature adult, and I have this deeply embedded fear of going to see any animated movie in a theater, for fear that I will be labeled a juvenile.

It's a fear that I am sure is shared with many other adults, and one that I and others need to get over.

Typically, these CG animated features are of the highest possible quality, if for no other reason than that the sheer effort involved in producing them ensures that no CG project will be greenlighted if there is no assurance to the producers that it will profit them. Seriously. These things typically take over 2 years to produce and can involve dozens or even hundreds of people, an investment of time and effort practically unheard of in Hollyweird.

Now. I have seen all of the above mentioned movies at home, on DVD. And they were all tremendously entertaining. I can't imagine what it must have been like to see them on a Movie screen.

So the next big CG film that comes out, I will be there. I promise. Really.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Great Lakes

Recently I was on a vacation trip to Manitoulin Island in Ontario (Canada)

(In case you wondered what or where that is, check here).

It's a very nice place. It can get a bit cold at night, which is not surprising considering it is roughly at the same latitude as Northern Minnesota and Michigan's Upper Peninsula (places where summer typically lasts about a week and a half). But there are several nice beaches and plenty of sights to see, and a whole lot of isolated spots for folks who want to get away from civilization (the largest town on the island contains roughly 1800 people--there are more deer than people living on this island.)

Or, at least, there WERE several nice beaches.

You see, the Great Lakes are at their lowest level in decades. So all over the island, what were once pristine sandy beaches are now mosquito-infested, goose-crap covered swamps, teeming with bacteria (I picked up a bacterial infection from one of them that landed me in the emergency room.)

This fact should scare everyone on a number of levels. The Great Lakes account for roughly 22% of the world's supply of fresh water. They supply water to nearly every state and province that touches one of them. And they are being heavily overused.

They also act as a conduit for international shipping, which is a source of invasive species that threaten their delicate ecosystems.

Anyway, to make a long story short: Humans are slowly and systematically killing the Great Lakes. And if we don't stop doing it, the Great Lakes region is going to face a water crisis that is going to make what the western states are going through look like a 2-week drought in comparison.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shout Them Down

Lately I've been lamenting the effectiveness of the tactics of the astroturf teabaggers who have been disrupting the town hall meetings on Health care reform between members of congress and their constituents.

I think I have the solution.

You see, tonight, I watched my favorite movie, Casablanca, again.

My (and many other people's) favorite scene in the movie (and perhaps the best scene of the whole movie)is when an inebriated group of Nazi officers in Rick's cafe have commandeered a piano and are loudly singing "Die Wacht Am Rhein"(Watch on the Rhine). Victor Laszlo, the resistance leader, storms into the room and orders the cafe band to play the French national anthem "La Marseillaise". With the tacit approval of Rick, the band begins the song, and the largely French refugee patron crowd begins loudly singing along. The Nazis are drowned out by sheer numbers and are forced to sheepishly sit down. It's a truly stirring and touching scene, and it's the scene that makes it my favorite movie of all time.

It has also given me an idea. So here is my plan: If you happen to attend one of these town hall meetings, find a group of people who are with you. Then, pick out the astroturf hecklers and surround them. Then, when they get up, simply stand up around them and out-shout them with any variation of "Sit down and shut the hell up".

There are a lot more of us than there are of them. It's time we showed it!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

G.I. Joe

I have been to see the new movie G.I. Joe.

I enjoyed it.

It was fast-paced, stupid, explosive, stupid, silly, stupid, cliched, stupid, fun, stupid, and just all-around entertaining.

An aside: My biggest laugh probably came when the character of General Hawk gave the line "Knowing is half the battle". I cracked up for a full ten seconds, while people around me stared like I was nuts. I should point out that the people around me were mostly under the age of 25--they had no experience with the PSA's that appeared at the end of every episode of the G.I. Joe cartoon series that aired back in the 80's that ended with the line.

I acknowledge that the acting was wooden, the characters forgettable, and the exposition was mere filler in between the mind-boggling action sequences. What did anyone expect from a movie that features Dennis Quaid as the lead?

With a few rare exceptions, you cannot expect more from a summer blockbuster. You expect cheap entertainment, while the major studios expect strong opening box office returns that they can use to finance the "art films" that gain them the Oscars. They will then make up any losses from the movie by releasing the expanded 2-disc DVD of the movie 6 months later, with enough contained extras that people will want to own it. How else can anyone explain why 3 versions of Pearl Harbor were released on DVD?

Meanwhile, these movies, that often are the People's choice award nominees, typically outperform the Oscar nominees at the box office by a figure of more than 5 to 1. Sensing a trend, anyone?

We go to the movies in the summer to be entertained, and to spend a few hours in air-conditioning that we don't have to pay for. If we get a little education from it, that's just a bonus.

If critics complain that the new G.I. Joe movie wasn't screened for them, well maybe that's because the producers didn't want it to be savaged by the critics who panned Transformers 2 for being the exact same thing that this movie is.


Ask the folks who come out of G.I. Joe and Julie and Julia how much fun their movie was...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

It's Official (Again)

Well, if I needed any proof that Hollyweird has run out of ideas, I've gotten it.

You may recall a few months ago that I pointed out ABC's remake of the series Cupid. At the time, I laughed at it, because it was a remake of a show that had failed spectacularly less than a decade earlier. Of course, I ended up liking the show, mostly because it was well-written and well-acted, a rarity in this day and age of reality TV

Well, now ABC has announced a remake of "V", a miniseries and then TV series that aired about 25 years ago on NBC.

The premise of the show was simple enough: A large number of giant spaceships appeared over Earth, with the inhabitants looking to loot Earth's natural resources. The miniseries and series was eerily similar to the movie Independence Day that appeared about a decade later, only instead of dropping giant blue beams of antimatter that obliterated entire cities prior to stripping the planet of its resources, the aliens in question infiltrated our society by disguising themselves as humans and pretending to come in peace and goodwill.

The show failed of course, mostly because it was poorly written and acted, and was prohibitively expensive to produce. Not unlike NBC's previous Sci-Fi series Battlestar Galactica (the original series).

Nowadays, of course, hi-tech Sci-fi shows are easier and cheaper to make, mostly because of advances in digital technology.

But this does not change the fact that this new show is still a remake of a failed TV series that lasted less than one season, and only originated in the first place due to the minor success of two massive miniseries that were successes because there was little else to watch at the time.

I have long held this theory: Decades ago, at the dawn of Hollywood, thousands of writers, directors, producers, and other film and TV people created this giant vat full of ideas. As movies and TV shows were created, those ideas were drained out of this vat and used as necessary. And new ideas would be tossed into this vat by others, thus keeping the vat full.

But as more and more movies were made, and television went from four networks broadcasting eight hours a day to 400 networks broadcasting 24 hours a day, that massive vat of ideas got drained faster than it could be filled.

And then the ideas ran out. And the remakes began. Expect to see movie versions of Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy within a decade.

I blame our education system for this. Our education system which has systematically cut funding to art and music education, which are the keys to stimulating imagination, which in turn is the key to creating new ideas.

Imagination has died here. When I was growing up, the books I read in elementary school envisioned a world where today we would be driving flying cars, colonizing other planets, and moving from one side of the planet to the other as easily as we walked across the street. Tell me: How much of that is true today?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

It's Insidious

Yesterday, you the 3 readers of this blog read my report on the teabagger disruptions of the Town Hall meetings on health care reform.

I dismissed them as a lot of Sound and Fury and signifying nothing.

Today I'm not so sure.

You see, these disruptions are having a profound effect on the reporting of these events. Notice that I do not say the events themselves, but on the reporting of them.

Because at the many events that I am sure are being held around the country with no disruptions, there are no reports made of them. Because it's not sexy. It's not news. It's not something that will grab attention.

No, the disruptions of these events by the teabaggers are being reported because they make for great ratings.

Of course, the worst part is that the people who disrupt these meetings are utterly clueless to the fact that they are being manipulated by the corporate entities that are desperately trying to keep health care reform from being enacted in the first place. Sad, really.

You know, it is unfortunate that these sad people are getting so much attention. I am beginning to see eerie parallels forming between our nation and 1930's Germany. A minority party, using the tactics of fear and rhetoric, somehow managed to seize control of an industrial nation by taking advantage of the complacency of the working class. They hijacked the government and plunged the world into a war that it took decades to recover from. And it was all because good people stood by and did nothing.

So if any of you the 3 readers of this blog are at one of these meetings in the future, find one of these disruptors and stand next to him or her, and when he or she gets up to shout, start singing "We Shall Overcome". Hopefully, they will be so surprised that they will stop and sit down, if only in confusion if nothing else.

It's the only way we can overcome this threat.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Teabaggers are Back!

Yes, folks, those crazy teabaggers are back again!

The tens of tens of people who protested the stimulus plan on April 15th are back, protesting at town hall meetings with members of Congress who are there to talk about the proposed health care reforms blundering their way through the government.

By the way, all I can say about Health care reform legislation is this: It's in the hands of Congress. God help us.

The strategy of the teabaggers is apparently this: Show up at the Town Halls, spread out as widely as possible, shout pre-arranged slogans designed to disrupt speakers, and generally cause as much distraction as possible. In other words, to paraphrase Shakespeare, Tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

You see, these people have no ideas of their own. They followed the teachings of a happy idiot for 8 years, and the world watched as this country fell deeper and deeper into a quicksand lake of economic ruin and destructive wars overseas, all while the rich elite who pulled the strings sat back and laughed as they got progressively richer.

And now that there is a man in office who is trying to fix all the problems caused by his predecessor, they can do nothing other than try to disrupt his planned reforms any way they can. Of course, they have no ideas of their own on how to fix things. That would require thought on their part, something for which they are not known for.

It's simple, really. These. People. Are. Idiots.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Swine Flu

Swine flu is horseshit.

There. I said it.

And yet, American and Global news agencies are crowing about this like it will cause the end of the world.

If the latest figures are to be believed (and I have serious doubts), then approximately 80,000 people around the world have contracted this particular strain of virus. 327 people in 121 countries have died from it.

Doing the math, that means that out of a population of approximately 6.7 billion people in the world, about .0001 % of them have contracted this virus. I didn't bother to calculate the percentage of people who died from it.

Global pandemic?! Pah! 6 times more people are killed by lightning strikes every year. Your odds are better of winning the lottery than catching this virus.

Granted, viruses have been known to mutate and become more deadly. But such viruses tend to die rather quickly, simply because they kill their victims too quickly to spread. Viruses that survive do so by becoming LESS deadly, because they don't kill quickly, or even at all. Most victims survive the flu, simply because the flu tends not to be fatal, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for the victim at the time. The ones who DO die are often the ones who are the most vulnerable: The old, the very young, the weak, the already sick, etc.

I have to believe that any super-virus that comes our way that destroys us will come out of a test tube in some madman's laboratory, and nothing we do will stop it. It's not going to come from a pig pen.

Monday, June 29, 2009


This weekend, I went to see the new Transformers movie. I saw a trailer for 2012. The trailer, among other things, shows a series of global disasters that take place on or about December 21st, 2012. This, supposedly, is the end of the world, according to the Mayan Calendar, which does not go past this date.

Much has been made about the end of the world. Many Christians believe it will end with The Rapture. Most believe that God will end the world with all the righteous souls taken bodily into heaven, with the unworthy left behind to rot.

My own personal belief is that when and if the end of the world happens, it will be entirely of our own making. Perhaps by a virus, or a nuclear holocaust.

The fact is that I have real problems with thinking that the world will end on some predicted date because some Mayan astronomer 4000+ years ago decided to stop calculating dates that would occur 4000 years after he was dead.

Of course, 3 years and six months from now, give or take a few days, if I am proved wrong, well then boy will I have egg on my face. Except no one will be around to rub it in.

If I am right, I win. If I am wrong, I still win. Either way, I win!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fear Once Again Raises its Ugly Head

President Obama (I never get tired of saying that) has nominated Sonja Sotomayor to replace retiring justice David Souter to the Bench.

This may be the most significant first decision made in the first days of the young administration. By all accounts, she is a moderate to liberal judge, who tends to err on the side of doing what's right by cases she hears--i.e. she tends to believe that if an injustice has been done, it is the duty of a judge to undue said injustice.

She may come by this attitude naturally: She was a Prosecuting attorney for years, and she has to know that both the state and the accused MUST be represented fairly.

But now she has an appointment with the Big Bench. And the Conservative fearmongering attack machine has geared up full force to fight her. Led, of course, by Rush "Bounce Bounce Bounce" Limbaugh.

They are using the tactics of fear: "She will ensure that no white person ever holds a position of authority again" "She will negate prostitution's illegality." "She will never support the right of a man to exercise control over a woman's body."

Never mind the fact that if the Democrats had any sort of a spine, they would ramrod her selection through the Senate without so much as consulting Republicans.

But hey, why should they do that? It's not like the Republicans did the same thing with the nominations of Chief Justice "I can't remember the words to the Presidential Oath of Office" Roberts or Justice "Scalito" Alito.

Oh, wait...

Sunday, May 24, 2009


The Indianapolis 500 will start in a few minutes.

I can't say as I care much for the race itself. First of all, How anyone can derive any enjoyment from driving 500 miles and getting nowhere is beyond me. Second, the eventual outcome of the race is rarely in doubt. Typically the winner will be one of five individuals who win the majority of all the races in the season.

There is no suspense in the pits either. Unlike NASCAR races, all 4 tires can easily be changed at once on the cars, thus eliminating the decision of whether to change all four tires or only two at a time.

Not that I am a fan of NASCAR either, but still.

But what I do enjoy is the pageantry that takes place before the race. The National anthem. The Military flyover. The military ceremony (the race is on Memorial Day weekend). The singing of "Back Home Again in Indiana" (By Jim Nabors--never been able to explain that one). And the words, "Gentlemen: Start your engines!"

It almost makes me wanna watch the race. Almost.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dick. Cheney.

Is. An. Asshole.

OK, so let's examine the track record of the Cheney/Bu--er, Bush/Cheney administration.

1) Allowed, through a series of intelligence blunders, the worst terrorist attack on American soil in history to happen.
2) Used said attack to justify the invasion of a country that had NOTHING to do with said attack.
3) Prolonged that invasion into an occupation that caused that country to degenerate into a cesspool of violence and destruction that claims the lives of American troops on almost a daily basis.
4) Completely ignored the TRUE planner of that attack.
5) Shredded the Constitution, and removed all restrictions on Federal surveillance of American citizens, in the name of "preserving freedom"
6) Imprisoned hundreds of people in a specially constructed prison without charges, trial, or any means of due process whatsoever.

And the Obama administration is the threat to national security?!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Susan Boyle

For those of you who have been living in a cave for the last 2 months, you should know that Susan Boyle is the surprise contestant who appeared on Great Britain's version of "American Idol", and wowed everyone, including the judges, the audience, and just about everyone who has an internet connection with her stunningly talented voice. Seriously. This woman has a voice that would make Lena Horne, Maria Callas, and Renee Fleming sit down and cry.

The trouble with this woman is this: She looks like, not to put too fine a point on it, she took a nose dive out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

Oh, this just in: I'm a shallow, insensitive prick sometimes. Deal with it.

As a result, no one took her seriously. Not the judges, and certainly not the audience. Until they heard her sing.

Nowadays, everyone knows who she is and what she can do.

But it won't last.

Let's face facts: This woman is never going to go on a concert tour. She is never going to star in a series of movies. She will never be featured in a music video. She will fade back into obscurity, simply because there are too many people who don't like how she looks.

Okay, so I get that today's society is obsessed with looks. (Let me say at this point that there is a good reason I don't have any pictures of myself on this blog.) It's the price we pay in today's 24/7 media obsessed world. Nobody likes to look at ugly people, no matter how talented they may be.

Don't believe me? I will make a bet with you the 3 readers of this blog: A year from now, ask any ten people you know who Susan Boyle is. If you get anything but a blank look, I'll give you a dollar.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Star Trek

I have just seen the new Star Trek movie. Not to give too much away, but it does involve stripping away nearly the entire Roddenberry Universe and starting over from scratch. Seriously. Roddenberry's ashes must be spinning in his grave.

In the process, of course, the groundwork has been laid for a whole new series of movies, and maybe even a new TV series. This movie is an attempt, in other words, to attract a whole new generation of Star Trek fans. To attract the "Twitter" generation.

The movie also employs the time-travel/Alternate reality theory. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, let me cite an extreme example: Suppose a time traveler went back in time to 1939 and supplied the Nazis with the designs and lists of materials needed for the Atom bomb. Nazi Germany conquers the world in days. Our world is changed forever.

This scenario, and variations of it,has been explored at length in any number of movies, TV shows, and books, from Back to the Future to It's a Wonderful Life. They even dealt with a variation of it in the original Star Trek series ("City on the Edge of Forever") and in Star Trek: The Next Generation (Yesterday's Enterprise)

Of course you always run into the problem of the time-travel paradox as well. For example: The grandfather paradox. You travel back in time. You happen to meet your own grandfather. You have a violent argument. You kill him. Thus you will have never been born. But if you were never born, how do you travel back in time to kill him?

Of course both can happen at once. Take this: A man travels back in time. He hands the lookouts on the Titanic binoculars. They see the iceberg in time to warn the bridge. The ship never hits the iceberg and never sinks. No movie is ever made about it. As good as it Gets rightly wins Best Picture that year. However, as a result of the safe voyage, the time-traveler's great-great grandmother never meets his great-great grandfather on the ship that would have rescued her. Thus, the time traveler is never born. But if so, how did he go back in time to save the ship?

It's usually at this point where my head explodes.

But in this new movie, they have taken the concept to the extreme level. The alternate reality and the time paradox theories have taken the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek universe out into the courtyard, tied it to a post, given it a blindfold and a cigarette, and executed it with a full firing squad.

It will be interesting to see what comes next.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Banning cell phones

A small town in my area is contemplating a ban on the use of cell phones while driving.

I have to say that I have mixed feelings on the subject.

I use my cell phone on occasion when I drive, but I always use a hands-free device--a bluetooth or other similar device.

I've been driving since I was 15. I haven't had an accident (knock on wood) in nearly 18 years. I'm a good driver. And I am fully capable of talking into a bluetooth earpiece while maintaining awareness of my surroundings.

I am also fully aware that there are people who are not capable of such awareness. I see them on the road nearly every day. Some of them have nearly hit me.

So this is my proposal: Instead of an outright ban on cell phone use while driving, do this instead: give everyone a new driving test.

Just like everyone took when they first got their drivers' licenses, make everyone take a supervised test. Give an instructor your cell number, then have him or her call you and engage you in a spirited conversation while you perform a basic driving test supervised by another instructor. If you are able to pass it while talking, you will be allowed to use your phone while driving.

And I think that using a handheld phone while driving should be forbidden, plain and simple. With the wide variety of hands-free devices cheaply available nowadays, there is no excuse for not using one while driving.

If anyone can think of a simpler solution, I am open to suggestion.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Live Action Comic Series

There have been a number of movie series that have come out in the past few years. These movie series are, in no particular order: X-Men, Spider-Man, Transformers, Fantastic Four, and The Hulk.

(I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not gonna link to those! I'm not your search engine!)

Most of these movies have been made possible by the advent of highly advanced CGI animation, which has made it possible for comic books to come to "real" life.

But what has made them even more possible has been the movement of my generation into what is called the "Money Demo", the coveted 18-49 year old age group that traditionally has the most money to spend.

You see, I came of age watching the various animated TV series that were created from the comics mentioned above. I had such a hardcore geek love for all of them that I never missed an episode. And now, as I am an adult, I am now experiencing those same series being made into live movies.

And I can't get enough of them.

Apparently there are a few folks in Hollyweird who still know what they are doing. That gives me a bit of hope.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leave it to Fox

Four out of the five major TV networks covered tonight's press conference by President Obama.

Guess which one didn't.

That's right. Fox.

I'm not talking about Fox News channel. It's a given that any news channel HAS to cover a presidential PC in order to maintain any semblance of credibility. I'm talking about the Fox television network.

They chose, instead, to show an episode of their series "Lie to me". I've watched a few episodes of this series. I wasn't all that impressed. And, judging by it's ratings, not a whole lot of other people are either.

So, basically, Fox believes people would rather watch a poorly rated TV series than the President of the United States answering important questions.

They are quite dumb.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grocery shopping

Today I went shopping for Groceries at both Costco and Kroger.

I go to Costco about once a month to stock up on non-perishables that I consume on a regular basis, and I go to Kroger about once a week to buy perishables and other stuff I run out of regularly.

I don't know if anyone who reads this has ever been to Costco, but if you haven't, let me try to describe it. For an annual fee, you can enter a shopping warehouse the size of four football fields, filled with every product imaginable, from fresh fruit to batteries to soda pop to lawn fertilizer to frozen dinners, and everything there is in between. EVERYTHING is sold in bulk. You cannot buy anything in small quantities. The store also has a full pharmacy, a photo lab, an optometrist, a tire store, and a cell-phone retailer inside.

The biggest danger that comes from shopping there is that you might buy too much. I often do, but I have never failed to use everything I bought there. It may take a few years, but it gets used.

Kroger, by the way, is no slouch. You can buy nearly everything there as well, but you can usually get it in much smaller quantities, which is why I buy my perishables there.

You may be asking what my point is in all this. Well, Sparky, my point is this: We live in a nation of abundance. At any given hour, on any given day, in just about any place in this country, we can go to any grocery store or retail store and buy anything we need or want.

It was not always thus. In fact, this situation has only come to be within my lifetime. When my parents were born, they had no opportunity to do this. If they needed or wanted something that wasn't available, they simply did without.

I have to wonder how long our current situation will last. We as a species are facing a rapid depletion of our natural resources, a depletion that is destined to occur far faster than our current ability to replace them.

Hopefully, someone soon will be able to find a solution to this problem.

If they can't then God help us all.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Sad Anniversary

Those of you the three readers of this blog may or may not remember that April 19th (yesterday) was the anniversary of the Oklahoma city bombing.

I was at home when it happened. I had come off a night shift at the current crappy job I was working, and I was sound asleep when it happened. I was deeply contemplating quitting said crappy job. Too many night shifts in horrible working conditions, with low pay and no benefits.

So, when I woke up, I turned on my TV. I saw what had happened. I watched, stunned, as did most of the rest of the nation, and a large portion of the world.

Over the next few days, I saw in the coverage the picture of fireman Chris Fields carrying the body of Baylee Almon from the wreckage. The man's face is shrouded in shadow and we cannot see the expression on his face clearly, but I cannot begin to imagine what he must have been thinking as he carried that tiny, burned, bloodied, broken body from the wreckage. The photographer who took it won a Pulitzer Prize for it, and it has come to be the defining image of this tragedy.

And I remember thinking to myself that, no matter how crappy my job was, at least my job would never require me to do anything like carrying the body of a one year old dying toddler from the wreckage of a destroyed building.

It's things like that that can really give you a renewed sense of perspective.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Two Teabags Please! (pt. 2)

I watched Rachel Maddow's coverage of the Teabaggers. She was barely able to contain herself.

What was the Genesis of this event?, I wonder.

"Hey, the Boston Tea Party. We are anti-tax. TEA. Tax. Enough. Already. No, no. TAXES Enough Already. No, no. TAXED Enough Already. Yeah! Let's go teabag them!"

If there was ever a more graphic demonstration of how out of touch the Republican party was with modern society, it is today. I mean, come ON! I'm a forty-one year old man who was raised by small-town parents, and I know what tea-bagging means. And please, to the single reader of this blog, PLEASE don't look it up on the web--oh, to hell with it. Look it up. If there was ever a time when the whole nation is going to know what this term means, it is now.

Laughing. Harder. Than. Ever.

Two Teabags Please!

Today, on tax deadline day, the right wing blogosphere has created an astroturf movement calling for millions of folks to protest the Obama stimulus plan by holding T.E.A. parties (Taxed Enough Already). To (snicker) protest (chortle) the plan (LAUGH UPROARIOUSLY OUT LOUD!) by "teabagging"!

For those 2 readers of this blog who know what teabagging means, please insert your own joke here. For the other reader, please, in the name of all that is Holy, don't ask, and for the love of God don't look it up on the web--you'll be in for a very unpleasant surprise.

We had our own little protest outside my workplace today. Here's a picture, taken from the window of my office:

Quite a crowd, eh? There must be at least 70 people! Most of the folks in the crowd looked like they were unemployed, meaning that they don't pay taxes at all. And they were there for about 20 minutes. But hey, in their defense, it was cold and rainy (not an unusual thing in April in the midwest.)

MSNBC, CNN, and others have had no end of fun with the "teabaggers". They are led by Dick Armey! Fox has blown a load of money! The movement could get too testy! It might blow up in their face!

I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Saving TV shows

I just read an article on 10 TV shows that need to return next fall. I have to say that I agreed with most of their choices (but definitely NOT all of them). And I'd add a few of my own to the list, if I could.

My problem is this: TV shows live or die by the Nielsen ratings, a system developed back in the 1950's whereupon approximately 1500 homes would receive boxes that would record the TV viewing choices daily, and thus these people would decide which TV shows lived or died. There were also the so-called "Sweeps" when in certain months thousands of homes would receive diaries, in which they would record TV viewing choices during peak months.

There are any number of complaints about the antiquity of this system. Not the least of which is that it was designed to measure TV viewing when there were 4 networks, not 400. The second biggest complaint is that people are often inclined to falsify the diaries, with people claiming to watch "Masterpiece Theater" when they are in fact watching "Rock of Love" (Don't even get me started.) There is also the complaint that it cannot measure internet TV viewing, which is becoming more and more frequent, especially given the variety of devices that can now display TV.

The Nielsens have been responsible for cancellation of a number of shows I felt deserved better. Just to name a few at random, in no particular order: "Firefly", "Las Vegas", "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", "Commander-in-Chief", "Dharma and Greg", "Joan of Arcadia", "Sports Night", "Ed", "Action", "Titus", "Rodney", and "Eli Stone".

(Look, I'm not gonna link to all those. I'm not your damn search engine!)

Those of you who recognize the above shows may realize that, with a few exceptions, they were all aimed at persons with above average IQ's. Almost all of them were well-written, well-acted (OK, OK, I liked "Las Vegas" for the hot women), and actually left their viewers waiting for what came next.

The problem is that with so many viewing choices, the advertisers cannot depend on the Nielsen ratings to determine if a show lives or dies. There has to be a new way of determining this. The new Fox show "Dollhouse", created by Joss Whedon, was created as a late season replacement and has been on for only 8 episodes, and has been dropped into the Friday night TV graveyard. And yet it already has its own fan-created wiki site, with over 100 articles on it, entirely written by viewers of the show (which are obviously numbered in the thousands).

We. Need. Something. New.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Life on Mars is Over

The TV series "Life on Mars" ended an hour ago.

I was a fan. I watched, and waited, while the writers struggled to create an explanation for why a modern-day NYPD detective was suddenly transported to NYC in 1973 after being hit by a car.

It turned out that the cancellation of the series was announced soon enough that they were able to write an ending to the show that they thought would be plausible.

It turns out that the main character of the show was an astronaut, in suspended animation, part of the first manned mission to Mars. and the "co-workers" in his world were his fellow astronauts, headed there too. They were all in their own computer-generated virtual reality fantasies, and the main character's was interrupted by a meteor strike (the car crash).

ABC advertised this series finale as "shocking".

I described it another way.


Seriously. I laughed for ten minutes after it was over.

You are a writer on a show. You have been informed that it is canceled. You do not try to come up with a rational explanation for a mystery that is set to evolve over the next 5 seasons.

You walk away. And you hope that there will be enough outrage among the fans of the show that someday you will be able to bring it back as a late season replacement (please see previous blog entry).

Monday, March 30, 2009


Tomorrow (3/31/09) a series called "Cupid" will premiere on ABC.

The premise of the show is that an institutionalized mental patient claiming to be the fallen Greek God Cupid must match 100 Earthbound couples using only the abilities he possesses as a human being. This he must do in order to return to the Pantheon of Mt. Olympus.

My problem with that is that its been done.

This show was a series 11 years ago.

It was a first run show then. It's a replacement show now.

Don't believe me? Check this out.

I liked this show. When it was on TV 11 years ago. Mostly because I was and still am a great fan of Jeremy Piven, who played the title character, and who is, in my opinion, one of the most unappreciated actors in Hollywood.

The problem was that this show died. A horrible death. As have many shows before and after.

And now it's being resurrected. With not a shred of new premise.

It is official. Hollywood has run out of ideas.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

There is no Limit...

To how low AIG will stoop.

AIG, currently the most hated brand name in America today, has committed itself to going the distance in the hated marathon.

Apparently, AIG has REMOVED THEIR LOGO AND NAME from their main headquarters building.

Seriously. What. Were. They. Thinking?

This isn't like Philip Morris changing its name to Altria to try to make people forget their primary business is making cigarettes. This isn't like Kentucky Fried Chicken changing its name to KFC to de-emphasize the word "Fried". No. This is the most hated company in America trying to enter its own version of the witness protection program.

Let's all try to shine the light on this. They can run, but they can't hide!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blogging the press conference (2), pt 2

More translation of what Obama is really saying:

8:38 PM: "Hey, lets try WORKING with our allies for a change, instead of DICTATING to them! Another refreshing concept!"

8:43 PM: "Let's try giving the ordinary people the same tax breaks as the rich people, just to shake things up a bit. How about that?"

8:47 PM: "Yeah, please, ask me a race question. Never mind that our economy is in the shitter, and I've spent every waking moment of my presidency so far trying to fix it. Seriously, are you people nuts?"

8:48 PM: "Leave it to a Neocon paper (The Washington Times) to ask a pandering question (Stem cells). But in answer to your question: This research has the potential to make people well. Why are you f&%kheads opposed to it?!"

8:52 PM: "Why is it always the foreign correspondents who are the only ones who ask about issues outside of North America? Have you people forgotten about the rest of the world?"

OK folks, I'm out.

Blogging the press conference (2), pt 1

My translations of what he is telling the press tonight.

8:20 PM: "OK, repeat after me: I DID NOT cause the current fiscal crisis, and I inherited these problems from the previous administration. I am trying to fix it! Get the hell off my back!"

8:22 PM: "Health care costs a LOT! We need to fix that!"

8:25 PM: "I can't wave a wand and magically fix everything overnight! Give me a break! And maybe a little time."

8:27 PM: "I'm having enough trouble fixing the problems in THIS country! Now you want me to fix Mexico's problems too?!"

8:35 PM: "You don't like government spending?" So what is the alternative? Doing nothing? We tried that for 8 years. Look where it's gotten us."

8:37 PM: "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak. Isn't that a refreshing concept?"

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I have seen Watchmen

I have read Watchmen

I am impressed.

It cannot be easy to faithfully adapt what may be the most popular graphic novel of all time to the movie screen.

The original was a 12 chapter, 400+ page graphic novel, with complicated text inter-chapter expositional sidestories. The movie did a fairly good job of relating these sidestories with the opening title screens, set all to the tune of Bob Dylan's "The Times, they are a'changin'".

The rest of the movie was very faithful to the novel, with the few exceptions coming in places where it was necessary to make sure the movie wouldn' be rated NC-17 (NC-17 = Death at the box office in America--don't even get me started).

But then they fucked it up at the end.

I have to believe that the the movie might have been better received if it had been faithful to the original all the way through to the end credits. Fans of the novel would have been more positive, and the viewing public in general may have been willing to forgive the movie's foibles.

Instead, the film has met with mixed reviews and average box office scores.

My opinion is generally, "meh".

Yes, they were faithful to the original, and that was a good thing. The original novel was enormously exciting, to the point where I couldn't put it down. And I was breathless during most of the movie, right up until the end.

So how the hell did they fuck up the ending so badly?

Why am I asking?! Hollywood can fuck up anything.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Adventures with Air Travel and Big Brother.

I recently came into possession of a book by Steve Alten entitled "The Shell Game". It's a book that details, in no particular order, the impending oil crisis, Neocon plots to steal elections, faked terror strikes on American soil, global warming, and the excesses of the government under the USA PATRIOT act.

It is, of course, a work of fiction. But it's also just about the user's manual for every questionable crazy cook conspiracy theorist out there.

As I continued to read, I became thoroughly convinced that Mr. Alten was six kinds of crazy in hearts and spades.

However, recently I've re-thought my feelings.

Because I have traveled on a domestic flight.

Let me detail what happens with modern air travel:

First, you must check in. The size varies by airline, but generally if you are carrying any bags larger than 24 X 14 X 10, you must check them. Again, depending on the airline, you may pay up to $25 extra for checking the bag.

Second, you must then endure the security checkpoint. Please remove your shoes. Empty your pockets. Your carry-on baggage is subject to search, including childrens' backpacks and womens' purses. You have no choice in this matter. Turn on your laptop. Open your wallet. Do not object or resist. We know where you live. We know where your family lives.

Third, if you manage to make it past security (no liquids, sharp objects, medals of honor allowed) you may board the plane. Please not that this is far easier said than done. You see, most domestic carriers opt for the smaller, more fuel-efficient (if such a thing can be said about a commercial jetliner) planes to carry passengers, and they book their flights as full as possible.

They have also made the seats smaller. MUCH smaller. Legroom? Ha! I checked. There was not enough room to fit the aforementioned hardcover Steve Alten novel between the front of my seat and the back of the seat in front of me.

They have also stopped serving free non-alcoholic drinks. My father paid $3.00 for a 12 ounce can of cranberry juice. I didn't even ask how much alcohol cost, or if it was even available.

Then, we, the very definition of a captive audience, were subjected to a commercial announcement for the Airline's credit card.

Please notice that I have not mentioned the specific Airline in question. I don't want to be sued, or renditioned.

It would seem that everyone EXCEPT the air travel industry has realized that nothing like September 11th will ever happen again. After all, the cockpit doors are now sealed at all times. The only way a plane will ever be flown into a skyscraper again is if the pilot or pilots are in on the plot from the beginning.

And if that is the case, no amount of security will stop it.

The only reason for the increased security any more is to keep us like the cowed sheep we seem to have become.

Big Brother is watching.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Blogging the press conference, pt 5

On torture:
Torture IS illegal, we WILL follow the Geneva convention, and if you break the LAW, you WILL be held responsible.

On being held responsible:
For example, if you leak the name of a covert CIA agent to a Washington reporter because you didn't like what her husband said about you in an Op-Ed, you will be PROSECUTED FOR TREASON!!!

I'm just sayin'!

On the "bipartisanship":
(Paraphrasing) "We HAVE to do something, because the American people can't afford for us to do nothing. I'm getting tired of reaching out to Republicans who slap me in the face.

"And I'm getting REALLY tired of being lectured about responsible government by people who DOUBLED THE DEFICIT and who STARTED THE DAMN CRISIS IN THE FIRST PLACE!"

Well, folks, I'm not feeling well and I'm getting tired, so I'll sign off. I can't wait to see how the Right Wingnuts respond to this.

Blogging the press conference, pt 4

Good Lord! You mean Helen is still alive and kicking, and still asking presidents questions?

Blogging the press conference, pt 3

Wow, a president who actually ANSWERS THE QUESTIONS HE IS ASKED! What a concept. And he doesn't have to wait for Dick Cheney to whisper the answers into his earpiece.

Yes, I think they should start showing footage of the coffins coming home. People seem to have forgotten the human cost of these misguided wars. Maybe it's time to start reminding them of it again...

UPDATE (8:48 PM) Man, is it refreshing to finally have a President who is willing to not only admit he made a mistake but also to admit he has no idea what someone is talking about!

Blogging the press conference, pt 2

Wow, what a concept. It might be better for government to DO SOMETHING, rather than DOING NOTHING.

Gee, banks taking enormous risks with other peoples' money? The hell you say!

Blogging the press conference, pt 1

Pretty good opening statement. Telling folks what he's learned from talking to real Americans. I can't think of a better place to find them than in Elkhart.

8:15. OK, you need to shorten your answers. The answer took longer than the opening statement.

Update (8:25 PM EST): Seriously, you need to shorten your answers. And keep hammering home the fact that you INHERITED this economic crisis. You DID NOT cause it. And you're bending over backwards to WORK WITH REPUBLICANS to try and fix it!

Keep telling these people you're WORKING TO FIX THE PROBLEM!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Do Not Separate.

So. Gay marriages have been outlawed by the conservatives in California. Possibly the most liberal state in this union.


What do these people have against it?

What is wrong with them?

Do they really think that gay marriage is destroying traditional family values in this country? How is that possible, when their most recent presidential candidate divorced his first wife in order to marry his mistress?

Family Values?! Scoff!

My mom and dad were married for over 40 years, and they produced 2 fine children. In the time they were married, they were exposed to at least 3 gay couples that I know of, and God knows how many more I don't know of. Not once did either of them say, "hey, that looks like fun! I'm gonna try that!"

Gay marriage is not going to destroy values in this country. Not any sooner than anything else.

Please don't get me wrong. I think homosexuality is repellent in every way (except when 2 hot girls are going at it :)) But it's not my decision to regulate how people behave. Nor is it anyone else's.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Capital Clampetts

So. Tom Daschle has withdrawn his name for consideration for Cabinet Secretary of Health and Human Services. He joins a steadily lengthening list of potential Obama appointees who have fallen by the wayside.

It seems to me that the early days of the Obama administration are going the way the early days of the Clinton administration did: Potential cabinet appointees dropping like flies, legislation getting redrawn repeatedly, blunder after blunder being splashed all over the "liberal media".

Well, Clinton was able to endure the mistakes, and he emerged from the mess to be one of the strongest Presidents we've seen lately. And he did it in the face of a hostile opposition Congress that ended up impeaching him for cheating on his wife--apparently a much worse crime than starting an unjust war and occupation of a foreign country, letting an entire city drown in a hurricane, and flushing the entire Bill of Rights down the toilet.

The difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration, however, is that Obama is not afraid to admit he made mistakes. So, while as with any new Presidential administration, there are a few bumps and bruises while the President leaps onto the rapidly moving roller coaster that is a White House during wartime, I have high hopes that President Obama will be able to shake off these first few punches and get down to the business of lifting our country out of the shambles it is in.

If he can't then God help us.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Memo to Democrats:


I know it may be hard, after 8 years of total Republican control over everything, but knock it off!

You people are acting like a bunch of battered women who refuse to stand up to the men that have been battering them. You are not the minority any more. You have commanding control over both houses of Congress, and a President who is more than willing to sign the legislation you send him.

I realize that partisanship has divided Washington for almost a decade. There's a reason for that. That reason is that the Republicans responded to all of your input with a message that basically amounted to "Sit down and shut up!"

It's time to return the favor.

It's time to let them know what it feels like to be on the losing side for a change. It's time to let them hear the voice of the people. It's time to be strong.

Just don't forget the people who got you where you are. Do that, and you'll end up where the Republicans are now.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Who are These People?

After my post of a day ago about The Dark Knight being robbed of its deserved Oscar nods, I've had a chance to read up on some of the takes of the year's films by the so-called "respected critics" that populate our culture.

I have to ask: Who the F&*K do these people think they are?!

For some reason, these people think they are better than the average moviegoer. Why?

Because they have been published? Please! I've had 3 letters to the editor published in my local newspaper. Believe me, that doesn't make me any more special than the kooks that have been published lately.

Because they are on TV? People get featured on TV every Saturday night. On a show called COPS. It is nothing to brag about, believe me.

Because they receive free passes to local premieres? I've been to local premieres for free thanks to promotional tickets I've won. Big Deal.

Because they are "members of the media"? I am a member of "the media". I publish an on-line blog that is read by maybe 3 people. Again, big deal.

My qualifications as a critic are the same as any other movie critic, in a newspaper, on-line, or on television. Zero. And my opinion is as valid as theirs. The only difference between me and them is that a few more people will see their opinion than mine. It doesn't mean they are better critics than me. It just means that more people will see their reviews than me.

Which matters not one bit to me.

Friday, January 23, 2009


So. The Oscar nominations were announced. So how many of the major categories is The Dark Knight nominated for? One! A measly one nod for Best Supporting Actor for the late Heath Ledger.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy he was nominated. I'm ecstatic he was. And I'm sure he'll win.

Let's face it: It can't be easy to take a character from a 2-dimensional cartoon drawing and turn it into a 2-hour 3-dimensional performance. Jack Nicholson did a good job in the original Batman movie, playing the character much darker than it had been before, with just the right touch of violence. But his character was still largely cartoonish in nature, and somewhat comedic, and you never took his scenes too seriously.

That was NOT the case with Ledger's Joker. His portrayal stripped away all traces of the comic book. There was nothing to laugh about here. His Joker was an anarchic agent of chaos and death, uninhibited by rules of either law or society. His Joker would just as casually shoot you as look at you. And, unlike the Jokers of the past, Batman could not defeat this Joker, not as long as he held fast to his own rules. In the end, the only way Batman can beat him is to sacrifice his own reputation.

But Ledger's performance was not the only thing to admire in this movie. There were excellent performances elsewhere as well. Christian Bale has, for me, become the character of Batman. Michael Keaton did an adequate job in the first two movies, but his performances could not match the sheer intensity portrayed on-screen by Bale in both of the latest movies. Val Kilmer? Forget about it! George Clooney? Two words: Bat. Nipples.

Aaron Eckhart also did well as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. His fall from shining white knight to murderous disfigured vigilante was easily believable. And Maggie Gyllenhaal did a much better job than Katie Holmes. I know Katie hails from my hometown (Toledo, in case you were wondering) but she just doesn't have the talent. Sorry Katie. Gary Oldman as Lieutenant/Police Commissioner Gordon does well in a largely thankless role as an honest cop trying to play by the rules pitted against an enemy who has no rules. And As far as Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are concerned, well, by my count they have 11 academy award nominations and 3 wins between them. 'Nuff said.

And the direction is spectacular! Many of the scenes in this film were shot using IMAX equipment, so the visuals are stunning. (I never managed to see an IMAX version of this film, unfortunately, something I hope to correct at some point in the future.) The movie itself, while over 2 hours long, never drags or lacks for action or suspense. And when a movie can make a theater full of people sit in stunned silence no less than four times (by my count), you know it is effective.

But, like all summer blockbusters, the movie was robbed of the Oscar nods it deserves. Oh sure, it got its share of nominations for the less prestigious categories: Editing, make-up, sound editing, etc. (And it should win the make-up category hands down based on Two-face's make-up alone), but those are minor in comparison.

Oh well. I can console myself with the fact that the movie swept nearly every category in the People's Choice awards. For my money, those are the REAL Oscars, since the winners of those awards often tend to out-earn the Oscar winners by a factor of 5 to 1, or more.

And the producers of the movie can console themselves by sleeping on the huge piles of money they made off the second-highest grossing film in box office history.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen...

The 44th President of these United States:

Please note that is was Roberts who got the oath wrong initially, NOT Obama!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Diving Headfirst Down the Slippery Slope

Recently, the Supreme court ruled that evidence against a man could not be excluded because the evidence was obtained in a bad search. In this case, the suspect was pulled over because the arresting officer had been told--erroneously--that there was a warrant for the suspect's arrest outstanding.

It was, according to the police, a computer error. An innocent mistake.

An. Innocent. Mistake.


So. I'm sure the proof was there. I'm sure the evidence was secure. I'm sure all the ducks were in a row.

This time.

The U.S. Supreme court, under the command of an ultra-conservative chief justice, has just set this country on a rocket sled down the slippery slope towards a police state.

How long before there are more "innocent mistakes"? How long before more "computer errors" happen? How long before the requirement of a search warrant is dropped altogether?

Think it will never happen? I'll bet you never thought the rules against evidence obtained illegally would be dropped...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Why I am a Union Member

This is a relatively simple post defining why I am a member of an Organized Labor Union.

I believe in the labor union for one simple reason: it is the antidote to fascism.

You see, a fascist government relies on the complete cooperation of every sector to maintain its hold over the people. A fascist government already controls the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of that government, if they even exist.

A fascist government controls the media. The whole idea of a free press is an unknown.

A fascist government controls all business. The few businesses that are not state-controlled are headed by cronies under the thumb of the government.

The only aspect of a civilization that cannot be easily controlled by the government is the workforce. And if that workforce is organized, it can wield a power that cannot be controlled by any government. That is why organized labor is the only antidote to fascism. And that is why labor unions have been fought for decades by governments, corporations, and the media.

You see, if the workforce of any group of people is united under one voice that represents THEIR interests, and no one else, then there is no force, either governmental, judicial, corporate, religious, or other institutional form of control that can stand against them.

That is why Labor unions are feared.

That is why they have been fought so hard.

That is why they must NEVER be destroyed.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

2008 in review

I know I'm a couple of days late with my (sorta) traditional year-end year in review post. I could say I was busy, but I've really just been too lazy to get it done.

So here we go. Where to start? Ah yes...

Best Moment of 2008: President-elect Barack Obama.
Runner up: Watching George W. Bush ducking shoes thrown at him by an angry Iraqi reporter.

Worst moment of 2008: 700$ BILLION dollars given, no questions asked, to the banking industry.
Runner up: Almost NOTHING given to the American Automakers, who have contributed far more to this country than the banking industry

Best Sports-related moment of 2008: OSU 42, Michigan 7. 'Nuff said.
Runner up: Detroit Red Wings: 2008 Stanley Cup Champions.

Worst Sports-related Moment of 2008: LSU 38, OSU 24. Again, 'nuff said.
Runner up: Detroit Tigers AND Toledo Mud Hens both finish at the bottom of their respective divisions.

Best Movie of 2008: The Dark Knight. Possibly one of the best ever.
Runner up: Iron Man

Worst Movie of 2008: Doomsday. Seriously. When the high point (or possibly low point) of a movie is one of the heroes being barbecued alive, well, that should've been a clue... Oh, and by the way, what the heck was the deal with the medieval knights? Little tip, guys: A bullet is always gonna beat a suit of armor!

Runner Up: The Incredible Hulk. OK, so this movie wasn't as bad as Ang Lee's Hulk movie, but come on. That's like saying being shot in the foot isn't as bad as being shot in the gut...

Movie that disappointed me most: Hellboy 2. Seriously. Ron Perlman was so good in the first one, but it seemed like he was just phoning it in this time. I guess maybe if he'd had another decent script to work with...
Runner-up: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. OK, it was a great movie--right up until about the last 10 minutes or so. Seriously, WTF?

Movie I wish I'd seen in 2008: Wall-E. For some reason, I can never bring myself to go to see a Pixar movie in a theater. That's something I need to get over, considering the number of perfect Gems they've put out so far.

Movie I'm glad I DIDN'T see in 2008: Speed Racer. By all accounts, this movie sucked dirty ass water.
Runner-up: Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Seriously. George. Buddy. Time to give the franchise a rest. Go back to your ranch and sleep on your huge piles of money.

Thing I'm most proud of from 2008: Still having a job.

Thing I'm least proud of from 2008: Still have a dead-end job.

Thing I'm most looking forward to in 2009: The administration of President Barack Obama.
Runner-up: X-Men: Origins

Thing I'm LEAST looking forward to in 2009: My next eye exam. Can't wait to see just how badly my eyesight is degrading.

Well, that's all I've got for now. Here's to 2009. May it be better than 2008 (nowhere to go but up!)