Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Utterly Ridiculous

The NCAA has announced its sanctions of Ohio State today. Among others, OSU is prevented from playing a bowl game in 2013, and they lose 3 scholarships per year for the next 3 years.

All because 5 players sold memorabilia that they EARNED to a shady character because it was the only way they could see to make a profit of the INDENTURED SERVITUDE that was forced upon them by the ridiculous NCAA rules they have to abide by--Namely: College athletes receive NO monetary payment of any kind.

Baseball players go into the Major Leagues right out of High school. Basketball players spend only a year in college before being draft eligible. And that's only because CBS wanted to make sure that their ratings for the NCAA tournament broadcast stayed high.

I realize that football is different. It only takes one play for a top college athlete to go from top prospect to undraftable due to injury. And the average career for an NFL player lasts 4 years.

But the NFL enjoys an advantage that no other Pro sport has: The free Minor League system that the NCAA provides. And if the top athletes of the NCAA don't like the teams that draft them, they have almost no way of escaping them.

So when the NCAA punished an entire program for the actions of a few players, they merely reinforced their hypocrisy.

I sincerely hope that whoever was responsible for these sanctions spends an eternity burning in hell. And I hope that the OSU athletic director joins them. Instead of appealing them, he will make the school bend over and take it. And tell them "Thank you Sir, may I have another?!"

Sad. These guys sold memorabilia they had earned. They didn't party with hookers on yacht parties organized by drug dealing boosters, or rape young men in the shower.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My New Favorite Word!

Today I came across a new word, and it has officially become my new favorite word of all time:

Teahadist

Don't you just love the way that rolls off your tongue?

And while I can't claim credit for inventing the word, I would like to make a stab at giving it an official definition. So, without further ado, here goes:

(Clears throat)

Tee * HAHD * Ist (n.): An uninformed member of the American voting public (usually a Republican, but not always) who believes that the teachings of the secret corporate creators of the American TEA party should be followed 100% without deviation, even when those teachings are designed to harm the very people that follow them. (emphasis added).

How about it? I mean, what is really the difference between a person described above and an actual Islamic Jihadist? Do not both follow the misguided directives of those in power who have taken a mostly benevolent organization and twisted its teachings in order to achieve their own sinister objectives?

The only difference I can see is that the corporate organizers of the TEA party are far more sinister than their Muslim counterparts, for the damage they can achieve can be far greater and far longer lasting (see "George W. Bush, Presidential administration of". See also "2008, Great Recession of", and "Election, 2010 Congressional").

Also, neither the Teahadist nor the Jihadist can be persuaded to change their views via logic, reason, or any other form of intellectual argument. And they believe so strongly in their cause that they are willing to do almost anything to further it.

Teahadist, by the way, replaces my old favorite word:

In * ter * nut (n.) 1. Any person who takes any information they receive via electronic mail or read on the internet as the absolute gospel truth without checking to see if the information is at all factual. 2. Any person who immediately spreads such information to as many others as possible without first checking to see if it has any basis whatsoever in fact.

I claim credit for inventing THAT word, as well as its definitions.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Just When I Think We've Hit Rock Bottom...

Someone hands us a jackhammer and we start digging deeper.

By now, you've surely heard about what happened with the Coca-Cola company's campaign in support of the Polar Bears. If you haven't, well, if I really have to tell you people again that I ain't your damn search engine, then you really should stop reading this blog!

The gist of it is that when Coke decided to do a limited marketing run in support of the Polar Bears' habitat, one of the things they did was to offer Regular Coke in a white can. For each can purchased, the CC corporation would donate to the World Wildlife Fund's efforts to save the Polar Bears' habitats.

The first problem encountered was when folks bought these drinks thinking that they were Diet Coke. Folks, apparently, can't tell the difference between silver and white. They also can't realize that if the word "Diet" doesn't appear on the can, it's not Diet.

The second problem encountered was when folks apparently decided that the drink tasted differently, despite it being the exact same drink.

So the white cans are DOA. I managed to secure a case of the white cans before they disappeared from the shelves. Maybe they'll be collector's items someday.

By the way, I've tasted the white can Coke. It tastes EXACTLY the same. Strong, bitter, sugary, and able to remove rust from a car bumper.

(OK not really, but that's what has been claimed in the past)

And Coke is back in the red cans. And I continue to weep for the dying IQ of this nation.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It Had to Happen Eventually.

I suppose it was inevitable. Ohio State lost its head coach to a scandal, the magnitude of which PALES in comparison to the scandals coming from Penn State and Miami.

The potential Senior Quarterback left for the NFL.

The interim head coach looks like Adam Sandler (and coaches like him--in his "Waterboy" persona).

Michigan had a strong offense and defense (it only took them 11 years) and was playing at home.

Michigan was desperate for a win after 7 straight years of losses (and 9 out of the last 10).

So Ohio State lost to Michigan. Big. Deal.

I can't say I didn't expect it. If Michigan didn't win this year, they were never going to. And I can't say I wasn't impressed with OSU's efforts. They showed more offensive prowess in this game than they've showed in just about all their other games this season combined.

Next year, OSU will have a new coach. Probably Urban Meyer (which I REALLY don't think is a good idea.) They will have an experienced sophomore QB with an experienced corps of receivers. They will have an offensive coordinator who knows what he is doing. And they will be playing in Columbus.

In other words, the playing field will be much more level.

But hey, I won $100 in the office squares pool for the game. I won the 3rd AND the 4th quarters. That definitely takes some of the sting out of the loss.

(Don't tell the IRS.) (Oops! Forget I said that!) (Really!)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Perhaps...Cue Cards?

By now, you may have heard about former "American Idol" contestant Lauren Alaina forgetting a line of the National Anthem before today's annual Detroit Lions pounding.

An aside: It seems to be an annual tradition anymore. On Thanksgiving day, we gather with family, eat turkey, and watch the Lions get drubbed on national television. The Lions haven't won since 2003 (when they beat the Green Bay Packers, ironically enough) and they often lose by big margins.

But I digress, as usual. My point is this: This is the second time in less than a year that a major celebrity singer has blown the singing of the National Anthem in a nationally televised NFL game. Aguilera's flub is probably the more egregious, since hers occurred before the biggest game of the NFL season.

I understand the pressure that can be in this situation. You are singing on national, possibly international, television, in front of an audience of possibly billions. The audience is completely quiet. Every eye in the stadium is on you. And you're singing a song that you don't sing very often, if you sing it at all. And while you may know the song, there's that possibility of that random brain fart occurring at the worst possible time.

So may I make a modest suggestion for the next big televised NFL game with a celebrity anthem singer?

Thank you. It's this: Try. Cue. Cards.

Keep them discreet, of course. Surely you can find a way to hide them from the camera.

Unless, of course, you want this to happen a third time. Or a fourth.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shame!

By now, if you haven't seen the viral video of Police in riot gear at UC Davis pepper spraying peaceful protestors, then here it is:



I can only think of six words for this: You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding.

I'm really not sure what the worst part of that is, but I think the top candidate for that award would have to be the casual way in which the cop with the pepper spray casually walked back and forth along the line of protestors, spraying them liberally while showing as much concern for their welfare as he might if he were spraying insecticide on a colony of ants.

I have a few questions for this cop: What, exactly, were you thinking when you did this? What was going through your mind? Were you explicitly ordered to treat your fellow human beings like roaches at the bottom of a trash can? How the hell do you sleep at night?

Also, did you night take into account the fact that EVERYONE has a cell phone with a camera these days? And that your abusive actions would soon make you the most infamous internet celebrity in the country?

Shame!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Suck it, Cornhuskers!

The University of Nebraska officially joined the Big Ten conference this season. And they joined with the same swagger that Penn State had when they joined it in 1993.

Penn State figured they would immediately dominate the conference. They were, after all, considered one of the strongest independent football teams in the country. The Big Ten had a few strong teams (Ohio State, Michigan) but they were in not in the same league as PSU. Or so they thought.

They learned the hard way that's not how things work in the Big Ten. And while they have managed respectable records, including 3 Big Ten championships, they have been far from the dominant force they were supposed to be. They have had some truly abysmal seasons as well, including a 5 year span from 2000-2004 when their combined record was 26-33 and they attended only one bowl game (which they lost).

Nebraska came in this year with much the same attitude. The swagger was there. Every pre-season sports prognosticator picked them to be this year's Big Ten champions.

However, with today's 45-17 shellacking at the hands of Michigan, of all teams, they won't even be playing in the championship game. They'll be lucky to get a New Year's day bowl game.

So go cry in your corn, Nebraska! Better luck next year. Or not.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Issue 2 Has Been Defeated

Tonight, in an historic referendum about the rights of workers, we voters of Ohio have soundly rejected State Senate bill 5, which would have stripped all public workers of the right to collectively bargain for any rights other than how much we would be paid (and really, in today's economy, how much do you think that would have been?)

I voted against this bill, as I'm sure did just about every other bargaining unit employee in my office.

It's not surprising. The amount of money poured into trying to pass this bill from business groups and other out-of-state organizations was at a level not seen since business groups tried--and succeeded--to bring Casinos to the state. This time, though, these groups faced a massive effort to defeat them on a REAL grassroots level, not like the astroturf movements that the Cock--er-I mean KOCHE brothers used to create the TEA party. (Yes folks. The media has renamed the Koch brothers--whose name WAS pronounced "Cock"--the "Koch" brothers. That, by the way, is pronounced like the the word "coke". That's about as close as those brothers will ever be to being associated with normal people).

The Pro issue 2 groups outspent the groups against it by more than 2 to 1. But in the end, they could not match the boots on the ground that the anti-issue-2 groups were able to muster. No matter how many TV ads they bought, they could not counter the REAL grass roots effort waged by the anti-2 campaign.

For this I am VERY glad.

Here is the "FOX news" story on this. When even they can't put a positive spin on a defeat like this, you know they are acknowledging a true ass-whuppin'!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Issue 2 Polling

Issue 2 comes down for a vote tomorrow. This is an issue to vote down a State Senate bill that will severely curtail the rights of me and every one of my fellow public employees.

According to every poll taken since this issue got on the ballot, it will lose by merely a 2 to 1 margin.

My problem is this: Pollsters are simply not doing their job correctly. They are asking questions that are too complicated.

If you want to take an accurate poll, you need to do 2 things:

1) Ask the respondent if they know what issue 2 is.
2) Ask the respondent if they will be voting yes or no.

If you don't know what a push poll is, then take the time to look it up.

If you really want an accurate poll, keep your questions simple.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

No E-Readers Please!

I won't use a Kindle. Or a Nook. Or any other E-Reader on the market.

First of all there is the obvious reason: I accidentally drop a book on the floor, I reach down and pick it up. I drop an E-reader on the floor, I look down and see how many pieces it is in, then think about how expensive it will be to replace.

Second: I stop reading a book, I place the nearest convenient scrap of paper where I left off. Or I set it face open upside down on the nearest flat surface. Then, later, I pick it up and resume reading. I stop reading my e-reader, I power it on again, and hope I can somehow navigate to the last place I was reading before my 15 minute break is up.

Lastly this: I rarely buy any book if it's not a paperback. Most books I read once. This is not because I hold a dislike for any particular book--it's just that once I've read one, I have little desire to read it again, particularly if the book is fiction.

We as a people have to get away from converting all of our written history to digital information. Digital storage assumes that we will always have a way to access it. I have yet to meet anyone who can tell me that will always be the case.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Congrats, You Cardinals!

The St. Louis Cardinals are the World Series Champions

The Texas Rangers are denied for a 2nd year in a row.

An aside: I couldn't be happier about that. I hate Texas and everything and everyone in it. Texas produced both Presidents named Bush. Both of whom did everything they could to make sure the 1 % got richer and the 99 % got poorer. But I digress

I live in a city with a professional sports team that has earned a recent championship. In 2005 and 2006, our own Toledo Mud Hens claimed the Governor's cup, the title of the International League, which contains the triple A farm teams for 14 of the current Major League teams. What that means is that players who play for the Hens are only one step away from playing in the big leagues.

This can have both advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is, of course, that these players are often Major League quality players, who are one step away from "The Show". Of course, this is also the biggest disadvantage, since Triple A managers can never be sure which players will be available to them on any given day. A Triple A manager can suddenly find himself faced with the loss of one or more key players at the worst possible time. I've seen this happen firsthand.

Fans, however, don't care. Ten years ago, the city, along with the team owners, spent considerable money, time, and resources to build a new stadium in downtown Toledo. And for nearly every game, despite the team's current record, the stadium is sold out. It has brought in tremendous revenue for the team and the city, and all loans involved in its construction are expected to be paid off early. Basically, the better the Hens do, the better for my city.

Which brings me, in my usual roundabout way, to my point: It is FUN to watch your home team win a championship in its own ballpark. I was there when the Hens won it in 2006. I screamed myself hoarse. I hugged and high-fived total strangers. I whooped and hollered right along with those same strangers as we walked back to our cars to go home.

Our celebrations were mild compared to what I'm sure is happening in St. Louis tonight. But I don't begrudge them that by any stretch of the imagination. What the Cardinals did in this World Series was extraordinary, and is sure to go down in history as a classic. And it deserves to.

Good job, Cardinals!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just Doing My Job

Hi. Let me introduce myself. I'm a greedy public servant, one that's sucking the lifeblood out of Ohio's economy. One whose rights as a worker will be severely curtailed if Ohio State Issue 2 passes.

This issue, by the way, is interesting. As he is required to do by law, Ohio's Secretary of State posted the full text of all 3 statewide issues in each of the major Ohio Newspapers, along with professionally (read: outside interests) prepared arguments for and against each. Issue one, which would allow older judges to stay in office, took up half a newspaper page. Issue 3, which calls for allowing Ohio to opt out of Obamacare, took 1 page.

Issue 2 took almost 58 full-sized newspaper pages. Four columns per page.

I'll say that again. Fifty. Eight. Pages. Of. Newsprint.

That, in itself, should give anyone pause. And based on the latest poll, it has. Opposition to Issue 2 is currently running 57-38 (with 19 percent undecided apparently). So barring massive fraud (not beyond the realm of possibility), this issue will fail.

So I will probably keep my job. And it's a job I'm proud to keep. Today I helped a county employee get some important paperwork where it needed to go. And when he reacted with surprise at how quickly I was able to do it, I simply told him, "It's what we do."

In other words, I was just doing my job.

I see it as my job to make sure I do whatever I can within my limited area of responsibility to help make peoples' lives easier.

I once read a book where a character talked about how there were two kinds of paymasters: ones who showed you where the book says you aren't going to get what you are entitled to, and ones who go out of their way to make sure you get what you need even if the book says you can't have it. I try to be that second type. I don't always succeed. But when I do, it feels good.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sad, Really

So. Earlier today, a couple of my co-workers were discussing the death of Qaddafi (Khadaffi? Kadaffy? Daffy Duck? Meh. Whatever)

At any rate, at this point, one of my co-workers piped up with the question (paraphrasing): "Who's Gadaffi?"

Holy. Hell.

This, by the way, is a woman who can recite the names of every member of the Kardashian family, and holds parties for every season premiere of "Jersey Shore". Which, actually, explains a lot.

I suppose I shouldn't be all that surprised. This is an office where people are more interested in who gets voted off American Idol that who gets voted onto city council or the legislature. and this is the office where, a few years ago, someone asked me what a mushroom cloud was.

I wouldn't normally have a problem with that except for the fact that I work in a political office. I expect the people I work with to take an interest in things that are slightly more important than the latest loser on some "reality" show.

But maybe I'm expecting too much. After all, my previous post just lamented on how focused even the news media is on things that don't really matter. If they don't care, why should anyone else?

I weep for the dying IQ of this nation.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

And I Should Care Because...?

So. Amanda Knox's appeal was successful. She is free from her Italian jail cell and safely home in the arms of her loving parents.

I gotta tell you--it's a load off my mind. I'm sleeping easier these days after knowing that justice has been served.

By the way, in case you missed it, I'm being VERY sarcastic.

I really don't give a flying fuck about this girl. Fact is, she probably did it, and will go to bed every night from now on giggling about how she got away with it. And she will probably parlay her case into a seven figure book and movie deal.

What really bothers me is that with all the other events going on in the world, the international news media focuses all its attention on this one vapid white girl from Seattle.

Libya remains embroiled in a civil war. When's the last time you saw a story about that?

The Syrian government is executing its citizens in the streets. Seen anything about that lately?

Somalia remains a lawless, leaderless wasteland whose main export is international piracy.

American troops are still dying on an almost daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But none of that matters! We have an American girl facing the injustice of a foreign legal system! We must focus all of our attention on her.

I weep for the dying IQ of this nation.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Last Few Minutes With Andy Rooney

Last night, I was one of the people who was privileged enough to watch the last commentary by Andy Rooney. Rooney, at the age of 92, finally decided to call it quits.

And who, really, can blame him?

To say Rooney has begun to show his age is to say that the surface of the sun tends to be a little bit on the warm side. And while he still possesses his distinctive voice, it's hard not to notice the fact that he can only get out a few words at a time before having to draw a labored breath.

But while his body may have been weakened by age, his mind has obviously never been sharper. If you doubt this, just listen to his final interview and commentary. (If, at this point, I have to tell you people to look it up--I ain't your damn search engine--then you really haven't been reading this blog enough!)

It's hard to explain what keeps the mind of a 92 year old man, whose body may be failing him in every other way, as sharp as a tack. But perhaps it's due to the fact that for more than 60 years, this man NEVER stopped using that mind. He wrote. Constantly. And it's something he enjoyed doing more than anything else.

The best job you can have is one that pays you to do something you love. And for most of his adult working life, Andy Rooney did just that.

More importantly, he was able to do it as long as he wanted to. And when he decided he didn't want to do it any more, he was able to leave on his own terms.

Andy, you have my never-ending respect. You got paid almost all of your life to do what you loved to do. And, in the extremely unlikely event that I ever meet you, I will simply shake your hand, say "Good job", and go on my way. Just like you asked.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Hometown

During a recent conversation with my dad, the subject of hometowns came up.

My dad was born in Virginia, Minnesota, a small town in Northern MN. He spent his childhood there, and graduated from high school there. And while the average winter temperature there might be -20 degrees, he still considers it his hometown, and he probably always will. With reason.

I do not feel the same way about where I was born. I was born in Decatur, Illinois, a medium-sized city in Central IL. I do not, however, consider it my home town.

We left that city a day after my first birthday. I have literally zero memory of the place. And on a recent trip back there, I was just as lost as I would have been if I'd been plunked down in the middle of Prague.

We lived in three other places before settling here in the Toledo area. And since moving here, I've put down roots and will probably end up spending the rest of my life here.

I have lived either in the Toledo area or in the city itself for more than 3 times longer than all the other places I have lived in combined. Most of my friends and acquaintances live around here. The members of my immediate family either live here or are within less than 2 hours drive from here. I got most of my primary education here, and finished my college education at a local university.

Toledo IS my home town. It may not be where I was born, but it will most likely be where I die someday.

In my opinion, a person's home town does not automatically have to be where they were born. A person's home town is where they feel most at, well, home.

I feel at home here in Toledo. I'm proud to live and work here. That, more than anything else, makes it my home town.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

John and Joe

For those of you who are unaware, Storycorps is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to collecting spoken interviews with ordinary Americans. These interviews are collected and archived in the Library of Congress. They are also broadcast weekly on the NPR program Morning Edition.

These interviews are usually quite touching and can also be very heart-wrenching. And one of their biggest projects is to obtain at least one interview with someone whose life was directly affected by the death of one (or more) of the victims of the September 11th attacks.

The most recent interview broadcast on NPR was the interview with John Vigliano, Sr. His two sons, John and Joe, a firefighter and a police detective. Both were killed responding to the 9/11 attacks.

Since John Sr. Said it far better than I ever could, here now is his story in his own words:
(Note: Don't let the cartoon fool you. Watch, listen, and cry.)



If his story doesn't move you to tears, then once again I say you need to turn in your credentials as a human being and go back to whatever planet you came from.

Also, this is Storycorps's website. Feel free to listen to more of the 9/11 stories. Just make sure you have a good stock of tissues handy. You will need them.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Why? WHYYYY?!

Recently, footage has supposedly been leaked from the new Blu-Ray release of The original Star Wars trilogy.

Apparently, in the re-re-re-release of Return of the Jedi, During one of the final climactic scenes, as Darth Vader watches his son being tortured to death by the Evil Emperor, dramatically utters a silent "No!", and then a more prolonged "NOOOO!"--much as the character did in Revenge of the Sith--before grabbing the Emperor and tossing him over the edge into the reactor core.

See it here:



George Lucas, apparently, doesn't seem to have any problem with taking a dump all over his original creations. After all, he already made the most controversial change of all, having Greedo shoot at Han Solo first.

I remember that scene well. I was amazed. This was one of the first times I had seen a supposed good guy play dirty. After all, shooting someone under the table is one of the dirtiest tricks in the book. But later, as I thought about it, I realized that it is just the sort of thing a criminal would do. He wouldn't stay alive long if he couldn't do that.

But Lucas, never one to let a good thing stand, has once again incurred the wrath of his rapidly dwindling fan base.

Including this fan.

George, if you were counting on me to invest in your new Blu-Ray release, stop counting.

And if this is one of your tricks, like the whole "Revenge of the Jedi" prank, well, then, let me just say that it didn't work the way you may have intended it to. Proof of that will come from your depressed Blu-Ray sales.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Expanding on a Theme

I continue to watch in stunned disbelief as (p)Rick Perry's poll numbers continue to climb, and as the media continues to annoint him as the Repuglican front-runner. I also watch with disbelief as Michelle Bachman's numbers continue to climb almost as high.

This is a man who, based on everything I have seen, heard, and read, is only marginally more qualified to be President of These United States than George W. Bush was. And that's not saying very much. I am more qualified to be the President.

And this is a woman whose sole qualification for office is her ability to appeal to the most extreme right element of the Repuglican party.

But maybe that's the point.

I've pointed out before how stupid we are becoming as a people. And if we, as a nation, are collectively stupid enough to elect another dumb-ass governor from Texas, or a crazy Congresswoman from Minnesota, as POTUS, then I swear that this country does not deserve to exist.

Poeple in this country seem to enjoy feeling like they are smarter that the POTUS. George W. Bush was elected twice for that exact reason.

But there is a problem with that idea: No matter how unswervingly stupid the President may be, and no matter how superior Americans may feel to the man (or woman) they elect as President, there is one crucial difference between the President and everyone else in the country:

The President can launch our nuclear weapons.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And This Man...

...Wants to be the President of these United States...



This is the Repuglicans best prospect lately?! Seriously?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Disturbing. VERY Disturbing

Another Movie Review (sort of).

I have recently watched the "Mockumentary" movie: C.S.A.: Confederate States of America.

This is a movie, made about 7 years ago, that describes what would have happened if the South had won the Civil War.

The victory would have come about as a result of the South getting the English and French to be their allies in the war. The Battle of Gettysburg ended in a decisive victory for the South, thanks to the intervention of those two countries. The Confederacy captured Washington. Lincoln fled the Capitol with the assistance of Harriet Tubman. They were both captured in their attempt to flee to Canada. Tubman was executed. Lincoln, after his capture, was pardoned, and exiled to Canada, much in the way Jefferson Davis was. He is depicted as having died a lonely and bitter death in exile.

Blacks are still slaves. Women cannot vote.

The CSA goes on to conquer Central and South America, at an extreme cost, as part of its expansionist mindset.

During WW2, the CSA agrees to remain neutral in the war in Europe. However, due to its fear of Japanese expansionist ideals, the CSA attacks Japan on December 7th 1941.
Although it suffers heavy losses, it wins due to the atom bomb.

President John Kennedy, a Republican (!), campaigns on the idea of ending slavery. After his assassination, this idea is abandoned.

The CSA suffers from isolationalist trade policies, constant terror attacks from "abolitionists" in Canada, and a general malaise of its citizens.

But it continues to survive in the modern world. The long-running FOX reality show "COPS" is re-imagined as a regular TV show called "Runaways" (containing videos of the "CBI" (what the FBI is called) capturing runaway slaves. Commercials featuring racist themes and depicting slavery as a normal way of life air as regularly as normal commercials do today.

This movie was made with a very limited budget and no popular actors.

It had a very limited release.

It made very little money.

I classify this movie with Idiocracy as one of the most important movies of my generation.

If you, the 3 readers of this blog, wonder why I tell you this, then rent it from Netflix or Redbox and watch it.

Then ask me that question again.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

One out of Seven

(p)Rick Perry, Repuglican candidate for President, has proposed seven changes to the U.S. constitution.

The first one I happen to agree with. I've seen the damage that can be done by Federal Judges who have lifetime tenure. One need only look to the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned the McCain-Feingold Campaign finance law to see how poor an idea it is to allow Judges to serve as long as they want.

Our current Supreme Court currently contains three completely unqualified members. All three were appointed by Presidents with the last name of Bush:

1) Clarence Thomas, who reportedly has NEVER asked a single question during any oral argument before the court. I'm not sure if this is because he's already made up his mind before he hears any case, or if it's because he is fantasizing about what every female in the chamber looks like naked.

2) John Roberts, who is apparently so stupid that he can't remember the Presidential Oath of Office, 35 words that EVERY Federal judge should be able to recite in his or her sleep, since he or she can never know when they may be called upon to administer it.

3) Samuel Alito, who may as well be sitting on Scalia's knee with Scalia's hand up his back, dictating what Alito will say.

These 3 Justices are the best arguments I can think of for Federal judicial term limits.

I understand why they exist. Initially it was so that Judges would not answer to anyone once they were appointed. And when it was initiated, living past 50 was the exception, not the rule.

But that's not the case today. A federal judge appointed today can expect to hold his or her post for 50 years or more if they want to.

By the way, this isn't the first time I've expressed this opinion. See this.

However, just because I happen to agree with (p)Rick Perry on this one point does not mean he will ever get my vote.

Why? Because every other idea of his that is detailed in that article is so preposterous that anyone even thinking about voting for this man needs to have their head examined.

One out of seven = 14.29%. That's a failing grade in anyone's book.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why do I do What I do?

I am a public servant.

I've been in this job for more than 15 years. More than half of my adult working life. More years than I spent in all of my other jobs put together.

I never intended to stay here so long. When I first took this job, it was because I was out of work, and I needed employment. A friend of my father knew that I was looking for work, and he recommended me for employment.

An aside: This is not at all unusual. Few people who work in my office did not obtain their jobs without help from someone.

This job was, at first, simply a stopgap until I could find something better.

But I came to like it.

My mother spent most of her working life as a public schoolteacher. In case you are unaware, that is NOT a career you enter if you want to become rich. The only reason anyone takes that career path is to educate children.

I would've loved to follow in her footsteps. But, sadly, I fear I would never have had the patience or tolerance to do so.

But when I came into my current job, I found a niche. I am able to do a job that helps me contribute to the well-being of other people.

I'm never going to grow rich in this job. And I'm certainly never going to be famous.

But I can help make people's lives easier. Try to find something that feels better than that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Best. Pictures. Ever.

Taking a...um...bite...out of the Republican party?



How ironic is it that they're advertising "Footlongs" behind her?



(By the way, is that John Boehner behind her?)

Memo to Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry: Whoever it was told you it was a good idea to be photographed eating a 12-inch corn dog, you should probably fire that person.

No, on second thought, keep them on. And please listen to them and do whatever they say!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A New Feature

I’m going to start something today that I hope to make into an occasional regular feature. And while I know this feature may give you, the 3 readers of this blog, more fear than you would have if Edward Cullen showed up on your doorstep on a sunny day and asked you if you wanted to hang out, here it goes: I’m going to start reviewing movies. I realize I’m no professional movie critic. However, since most movie critics nowadays are simply paid hacks studios throw tons of money at in order to generate glowing review quotes for the crapfests they turn out, I don’t see how I can do any worse than they do. And since I would never sell myself out like that (unless they offered me a LOT of money), you can count on my honest opinion.

Do not fear, gentle readers. It won’t happen very often, if for no other reason than I don’t go to see movies very often in theaters. After all, there are very few movies coming out of Hollyweird today that are worth paying ten bucks and sitting for 2 and a half hours to see them. And I don’t see that trend ending any time soon.

But enough stalling. On to the review.

Today’s movie: Captain America: The First Avenger
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Starring:
Chris Evans: Steve Rogers/Captain America
Tommy Lee Jones: Colonel Tommy Lee Jones
Haylee Atwell: The Hot Chick
Directed by Joe Johnston

Ah, The Comic Book Movie. Fast becoming all Hollyweird seems able to come up with these days. Why, just this summer alone we’ve already been treated to Thor (mediocre) and X-Men: First Class (good) from Marvel comics, and The Green Lantern (ridiculous) from DC. And now we have this latest entry from Marvel, which takes a look at the origins and adventures of America’s first real superhero.

An aside: I suppose the latest Transformers movie could also be called a comic book movie, since that’s where the series originated in the first place. But I digress.

I suppose it was fairly predictable that the comics would be fodder for Hollyweird. After all, most comic series have fanatical fan followings whose members spend millions of the dollars they save not paying rent by living in their parents’ basements on issue after issue of any given series.

This, unfortunately, is where the problems usually start. Y’see, these fans can be...let’s just say, a bit...um...fickle. And, thanks to the internet, Facebook, Twitter, and other networking sites, they aren’t shy about sharing their opinions. With EVERYBODY. And those opinions can have sharp knives. And those knives can tear into any tiny flaw in any comic book movie adaptation and turn that flaw into an enormous sucking wound that can kill a movie quicker than a movie producer telling a studio head he’s gone over budget. Twice.

Fortunately, as far as I can tell, this movie stays faithful to the C.A. storyline. For the first one-third of the movie, Chris Evans’s head, carried by a much smaller body, spends his days getting rejected at the Army recruiting centers, getting beaten up in back alleys, and striking out with women. Then, after his fifth attempt to enlist is noticed by a German-American scientist, who is apparently impressed either with his determination or his stupidity, or possibly both, the scientist (Stanley Tucci) allows him to join a special unit of the army.

This unit, led by Tommy Lee Jones playing his trademark gruff, no-nonsense character, also features a hot chick who is also, of course, as tough as nails herself, but with a tender side (naturally). The goal of this special Army unit is to provide the U.S. Army with a regiment of super-soldiers who will, in the words of Jones, “Escort Adolf Hitler straight to the gates of Hell.”

Naturally, Evans’s head is chosen to be the first subject of the super-soldier experiment. He undergoes a Mad-scientist style lab procedure in which, apparently, they remove Evans’s head from the much smaller body and put it back on Evans’s real body, which is much taller, stronger, and about 10 times more buffed. This is done by injecting the smaller body with an experimental serum and then bombarding it with “Vita-Rays” (whuh?) until the smaller body agrees to give up the stolen head and give it back to Evans.

OK not really, but that’s what a comic-book movie novice might think.

At any rate, the experiment works. Rogers/Cap A. is now 5 times stronger, faster, and more agile than any normal human. His body does not age and constantly regenerates itself, allowing him to heal damage quickly and completely. The only downside is that he can no longer get drunk, which would make me wonder if it was worth it.

All well and good, until a nefarious Nazi nogoodnik (whee!) destroys the lab, steals the only remaining sample of the supersoldier formula, and kills the German scientist. Rogers then chases the agent (barefoot!) along the streets of Brooklyn, finally catching him just as he is about to escape. Unfortnately, the stolen serum is destroyed, and the spy kills himself, but not before bragging about the extensive reach of HYDRA, the Nazi division he works for.

It seems that Hitler is the least of the Allies' worries. HYDRA, apparently, is a secret Nazi research division, led by Johann Schmidt/Red Skull (played by Hugo Weaving, who is very good at being a very bad man), that is determined to win the war by harnessing the powers of the Norse Gods (I'm NOT kidding). Red Skull has already taken a dose of the supersoldier serum and it has made him just as strong and powerful as Rogers. Unfortunately, it also left him severely disfigured, and, apparently, an insane megalomaniac. Seriously. This guy makes Hitler look like Winnie the Pooh in comparison. And that’s saying something.

At any rate, the U.S. Government, now worried that they have lost the secret of the serum for good, wants to keep Rogers in a lab and experiment on him to re-discover the formula. Some other government types, however, have a different idea, and decide to put him on display in a series of War Bond tours as “Captain America”. This, by the way, is one of the best parts of the movie: It shows just how ridiculous the war bond tours were during WW2, and at the same time how effective they were (my dad, who was in the audience with me, remarked about how authentic the tours looked. And he would know.)

And this is fine with Captain America, until he travels overseas to entertain the troops and sees just how different the real war is from the sugarcoated version being fed to the folks on the home front. This is one of the most poignant moments of the movie, as Rogers realizes how little he is actually contributing to the military side of the war effort.

Then, after learning the unit containing his best friend has been captured, he decides to infiltrate the HYDRA base they are being held in. There, he liberates the prisoners while simultaneously learning the extent of the danger HYDRA really poses, and how dangerous Schmidt really is. So Rogers and his unit set out to destroy HYDRA. Naturally, this is where the movie devolves into the usual cliché-ridden action fest that is typical of a summer movie.

I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. You don’t go to your average summer blockbuster to see Shakespeare. You go to be entertained.

And it is entertaining. At my first viewing, I was transfixed. I sat for two hours enjoying nearly every minute. It was only after I went back to see it again with my dad that I viewed it with a much more critical eye. And began to spot the obvious flaws. For example, how did HYDRA obtain such vast resources and so many able-bodied men in war-torn Germany? Surely someone was keeping track of such things.

Of course, the largest flaw is the lack of credibility. I realize that watching a comic book movie requires a certain suspension of disbelief. But in this case, you have to blindfold your disbelief, tie its hands, put a noose around its neck, and hang it until it’s dead. Then you have to toss it off a cliff. I know that, by most accounts, the Nazis were probably 10 years ahead of the Allies technologically, but come on! They used devices in this movie we don’t even have today, more than 70 years later.

Obviously there won’t be any best acting Oscars for this movie. The dialogue, while cliché-ridden, does has some very funny moments. And the special effects compliment the movie rather than overwhelming it, as they do in some movies (Green Lantern, I’m looking in your direction).

All in all, however, I found the movie to be very enjoyable, and I look forward to the Avengers movie that is coming next year, which will unite the Marvel characters introduced in Marvel films that have come in previous years.

UPDATE (7/28!2): Cap A. is now available for streaming on Netflix. Just as a trivia excercise, I counted the number of shots fired by the Hydra spy from his standard 9mm Luger pistol before he ran out of ammo. This is a pistol that holds 9 rounds. You can count the exact number for yourself, but it's just a little less than twice that number.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Disturbing Comment

I have a regular barber. I've been going to this guy for over 10 years because he knows how I like to have what little remains of my hair cut: Short, simple, and hassle-free.

He also charges a reasonable price.

However, at my last haircut a couple days ago, our attention was drawn to a national news program, which was discussing--big surprise--the downgrading of the credit rating of the United States.

An aside: The fact that these banks, most of whom received billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money to bail them out during the last financial crisis, had the gall to downgrade the U.S. credit rating, really grinds my gears. But that's another story for another time.

At any rate, my barber, watching how screwed up our political system is, remarked that he wished there was simply one person who controlled the government and made the decisions for everybody.

The fact that this man, who is old enough to know better, would make a comment like that, disturbs me.

I immediately reminded him about what happened in Germany in the 1930's. He seemed to remember this, and reconsider his opinion.

I was reminded of the quote by Winston Churchill: "The best argument against Democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter."

Case in point.

Of course, Churchill also said: "Democracy is the worst form of government--except for all the others that have been tried."

We're stuck with what we've got. It isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but until and unless someone comes up with something better--and many have tried and failed--we're going to have to stick with it.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Humbled

Today, I stand before you, the three readers of this blog, completely humbled.

Contrite. Chastened. Overshadowed. Awed. Stunned.

Yesterday, if you look at the post, I lamented the fact that the progressive generations of humanity were growing dumber.

I was not, apparently, the first one to recognize this trend.

Not by a long shot.

The brilliant TV and film producer Mike Judge, recognized this trend more than 6 years ago.

It was then that he produced the brilliant film called Idiocracy.

This film, which Judge conceived and brought forth while apparently also producing the series King of the Hill for Fox, depicts a world 500 years from now as being so ridiculously stupid that a man with a completely average IQ (of 100) is considered to be the smartest person in the world. And his ideas, which reflect the most basic tenets of common sense, are ridiculed by the general population.

This hypothetical future world of the massively stupid comes into being for one simple reason: The stupid reproduce at an astonishingly higher rate than do the smart.

If you doubt this premise, then I invite you to take a trip to the Creation Museum that I talked about yesterday.

Needless to say, this movie by Judge, which I enjoyed immensely, enjoyed only limited release by its parent corporation Fox, which is a corporation dedicated to promoting maximum degrees of dumbassness (yes, I often make up words) on all levels, as far as I can tell. Lately, anyway. It didn't do well.

I'm not surprised. Dumb people rarely enjoy having a mirror held up that reflects their stupidity.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Discussion in the Lunchroom

I work in an office with a large number of people. Several of those people often take their daily lunch break in our common lunch room.

Most times, I ignore the usual lunchroom chats like the plague. To me, my lunch hour is a sacred thing. It's the one hour a day I have during the work week when I can totally unplug my brain from my work environment. For our lunch period, we are completely free from the constrictions of work.

So my usual routine, once I have consumed my lunch (which usually takes less than 20 minutes), is to find a comfortable chair in the corner of the lunch room, plug in my headphones, find a good classical music channel, and bury my nose in a book. And when I say bury myself, I mean it. The entire building could fall down around me when I read and I doubt I would notice.

Occasionally, however--usually if I'm reading a boring book, or at least a boring section of a book--I take notice of the conversation around me. And I sometimes listen in, and contribute the occasional nugget of wisdom. I don't participate very often, since in order to dumb myself down to the usual level of discussion therein I'd have to hit myself on the head with a hammer 10-15 times.

(If at this point you haven't yet figured out that I'm a conceited SOB, you haven't read enough of this blog.)

This brings me, in my usual roundabout way, to my point: The discussion on the day in question veered into the topic of the Creation Museum.

This museum--which is located only a few hours drive from me, by the way--is dedicated to proving to all visitors the truth of the Creation story, as provided in the book of Genesis. This, despite reams upon reams upon reams of scientific data that has been collected to contradict it.

The fact that this museum exists, only a few hours' drive from my house, is not the scary part. No, the scary part is this: This museum has hosted over 1 million visitors since it opened. And this flow of visitors shows no signs of slowing.

This leads me to one inescapable conclusion:

We are getting dumber.

Over the course of history, each subsequent generation of humans has surpassed its predecessors in terms of intelligence. Until a few years ago. That's when this trend reversed itself.

I think it started when George W. Bush was elected President. This man was the poster child for how an unqualified underachiever could achieve position far beyond what he was qualified for. And it inspired everyone else in the country to believe that they could do the same.

I'm not saying this has never happened before. History is filled with examples of people achieving postitions they weren't possibly qualified to hold. The difference between then and now was that most of the time those people went no farther. They were shamed out of their positions.

This doesn't happen today. Today, people who are underqualified for the positions they hold are propped up by various means until they believe they ARE qualified. This happens in all walks of life, from celebrities, to politicians, to corporate executives, to religious leaders.

If you have any doubts about the dumbing down of humanity, I invite you to watch an Episode of Jersey Shore.

And watch how its audience continues to grow from year to year.

We used to publicly ridicule people who regularly demonstrated how stupid they were. Nowadays, they get their own TV reality shows.

Progress? I have serious doubts.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Spider-Man Reboot

As you the 3 readers of this blog may or may not be aware, thehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif trailer for the new Spiderman movie is out.

From what I can tell, this movie is a complete reboot of the Spiderman movie franchise.

But why?

I watched and enjoyed all three of the Sam Raimi-directed Spiderman movies. They were quite enjoyable, and I loved watching the character portrayed by Tobey Maquire mature from irresponsible teenager to responsible adult, who learned important life lessons along the way.

I was disappointed when it was announced that Raimi would no longer be directing the SM movies.

But I was even further disappointed upon seeing this apparent reboot of the entire franchise.

Movie franchises have been rebooted before. Sometimes, as in the case of the Batman movies, it was successful. And necessary. Seriously. If you can find anyone who thinks that Batman and Robin wasn't the cinematic equivalent of used Porta-John, please let me know.

It was for this reason that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight exist. That second movie became one of the highest grossing films in history.

There have, of course, been other series reboots that failed miserably. Superman Returns comes to mind.

But the last Spiderman film was not a failure, as far as I'm concerned. So why the reboot?

The only reason I can think of is that Hollyweird has come to view the attention span of the average person as negligible. How else can you explain the vast acceptance of movie audiences who watched skyscrapers toppled in the latest Transformers movie with little discomfort, less than ten years after September 11th?

Food for thought.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

If I Could Have Said It Any Better...

I wouldn't have, because I don't think that's possible.



I have no way of knowing if this man's statement is authentic, but based on my visual analysis of the picture he seems to be the right age.

Please note that I am willing to provide disclaimers. Something that cannot be said of the right wing keyboard brigade.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The National Pastime

I recently overheard a conversation between two of my co-workers. They were lamenting about the lack of on-field fireworks that occurred during last week's Baseball All-Star Game.

They believed that baseball was doomed in this country.

They couldn't possibly be more wrong.

Baseball is unique among all other sports. It is the one sport where every single statistic is computed to the third decimal. It is the one sport where hitting only 3 out of every ten balls thrown at you in the right place makes you an All-Star. It is the one sport where players willingly stand with a piece of wood in their hands and face hard objects hurled at them at speeds often greater than 90 miles per hour.

And it is the one sport where it is easy to realize very early in life that you have absolutely no talent for. This realization came to yours truly about the tender age of 8 or 9. It was when I realized that I had absolutely no ability to hit a thrown baseball. Or catch one. Or throw one with any degree of accuracy.

The only skill I was able to contribute to my little league team was my ability to get on base. Y'see, I was (and still am) short, so my strike zone was so tiny that few pitchers in my league could find it. So, most of the time, I would simply stand at the plate, take four pitches as balls, and be on first. I would then immediately steal second, then third, in short order (I was small, but I could run like hell. It helped me escape bullies.) I would be in scoring position in the space of two pitches. The only times I ever struck out was when I actually swung at a pitch.

It takes a special kind of talent to hit a baseball. You have to be able to see a mud-covered (look it up) baseball traveling at you at 90+ miles per hour, from a height of about 2 feet above you. You have less than half a second to determine if said baseball is going to be in an area where you have a reasonably good chance of making contact if you swing at it.

I don't have that talent. I never did, despite the efforts of my little league coaches. The sort of talent required to do that on a regular basis does not exist in 99,999 out of 100,000 people. Maybe more. It's something you are blessed with from birth. Practice helps, but it can only hone what talent already exists. The minor leagues of baseball are filled with people who are almost talented enough to accomplish this feat. I see many of them every time I attend a Mud Hens game.

Which brings me, in my usual extreme roundabout way, to my point: The aforementioned co-workers were lamenting that being a great baseball player is something kids in this country don't look forward to any more.

The refutation of that thought can be found in the tiny town of Blissfield, Michigan, and the surrounding areas.

Blissfield is a tiny town. So is just about every single town around it. And yet, the Blissfield Royals high school baseball team wins. A lot.

Baseball is cyclical. It always goes through periods of pitching dominating hitting, and vice versa. This past Friday I witnessed a Mud Hens game that was an extreme pitching duel, until one swing of a bat (a grand slam home run) changed the entire game (Unfortunately, the wrong team got the winning hit. But that's another story.)

Baseball has earned its appellation as the National Pastime. It has weathered scandal after scandal. It has had its highs and lows. People scorn players accused of doping. Yet they worship players like Babe Ruth. By all accounts, Ruth was a drunk and a boor. And yet he is held up as the gold standard of baseball players, even though Hank Aaron, who broke Ruth's MLB home run record after playing in the Negro League before being signed in the MLB.

And it may be true that baseball has lost some of its sparkle lately. But it will always be there. Take a 20 minute drive along the streets of any major city, and tell me if you don't see at least 5 baseball fields.

Baseball is a sport that is unique to this country. And don't try to tell me that it evolved from Cricket. I've seen Cricket matches, and they're not even close.

Baseball will survive. It may go through rough patches over the years, but it will still be there.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Cynic

I've come to the realization that any person who reads a few entries on this blog may think I'm terminally depressed. I know. What a surprise, right?

It's not true.

I'm a cynic. There is a strong difference.

Cynicism has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks. Look it up. Do I really have to tell you people again that I am not your damn search engine?!

I don't believe that I am destined to live a life of happiness. I believe that I am destined to live a life of contentment.

I am content when I sit and enjoy a good movie or a good book. I am content to enjoy a meal of food that I like. I am content to have a job that pays me a living wage and affords me benefits that ensure I will remain in good health, and enjoy a comfortable retirement once I've worked long enough to ensure I have earned that privilege. I'm willing to enjoy the companionship of friends, family, and others if they are willing to offer it to me.

These are things I am willing to work to earn. I don't object to doing so.

What I DO object to is people, be they politicians, pundits, religious leaders, or corporate titans (too often, many are more than one of the above) trying their best to tell me that by doing everything I have described above I'm in the wrong. That I should be doing things differently. And who try to take my right to act as I see fit away from me.

As a cynic, one of my refuges is sarcasm. It's a tool that's been around nearly since the origin of the English language. And it's helped me more times than I can possibly count.

My other refuge is honesty. As a public servant, I've had the opportunity to meet more than a few polticians. And I've always offered them my honest opinion, if I was asked. It hasn't happened often. Honesty is the enemy of politics.

Being a cynic means never being unhappy, or worse, depressed. You can be displeased, disgruntled, or angry, but never unhappy or depressed. Being unhappy or depressed means that you've given up on thinking that things will always be alright. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but never broken. I will never think that. And I will continue to make fun of people who think that. These are the people who slit their wrists or pop too many pills.

Those people need professional help. Help they'll never get if the folks who are currently in power have their way.

Food for thought.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Strangest Dream

This morning, I woke up from what was quite possibly the strangest dream I've ever experienced. I was, for some inexplicable reason, a reporter reporting about a summer camp that was exclusively for HIV infected children.

As happens with all dreams, the exact details were very fuzzy. But as my brain awoke from its sleep-fogged state, it began to fill in the the details, as often happens with most dreams that people remember.

You have to remember at this point that we do not remember 99% of the dreams we have. That is simply because most of the dreams we experience happen while we are in deep sleep. Many have theorized about the reasoning behind this, but I believe that it is simply our conscious brain's way of protecting us from the thoughts that lie in our sub-conscious--thoughts that are far too dark for us to know and remain sane.

But we do remember the dreams we happen to experience just before we wake up. Most of the time, those dreams have limited detail and those details tend to fade quickly.

But occasionally those dreams stick in our minds.

And this one did.

For some reason--and I'm still trying to figure out why--my mind realized a 3-month-long summer camp, with every slot available in this camp reserved strictly for an HIV positive child.

This camp would be staffed only by counselors, administrators, and medical personnel who were also HIV positive. All of whom, of course, who had passed criminal background checks.

At this camp, the children there--many of whom would be orphans, by the way--would be absolutely unstigmatized by their peers, since they would all be in the same boat. And no staff member there would be the least bit uncomfortable about working with those children, for the same reason.

Also at this camp, these children would, first and foremost, have fun. But they would also learn self-reliance, confidence, and the feeling of peer acceptance.

I wish I could explain where this dream came from. I am certainly not HIV positive, nor do I know anyone who is. And I know from a web search that there are already summer camps in place that cater specifically to HIV infected kids.

But my idea goes farther than a week-long visit. I apparently envisioned a 3 month program, far more complicated than anything I've seen that currently exists.

I've woken up with strange ideas stuck in my head before. With no idea where they came from.

Maybe that's where the ideas that changed the world came from. Not always for the better. And not always for the worse.

At any rate, if anyone out there happens to discover this post and has the resources to make what I envisioned happen, please let me know. I'll be glad to help out in whatever way I can.

The Colbert Report

When Stephen Colbert split from The Daily Show to start his own satirical show, called The Colbert Report (The last T is usually not pronounced), it was intended to be a satire of such Fox News blowhards like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck.

The problem was, just like host Jon Stewart's show, people began to take the show WAY too seriously.

Stewart held a tremendous rally on the Washington Mall last year, one that attracted hundreds of thousands of people. And one in which he gave a rousing speech that implored his audience too stop taking news commentators so seriously, and to start treating other people with respect, even if you disagreed with their views.

His message may have been diluted, however, by the constant interruptions of Colbert.

I applaud Stewart for not trying to capitalize on his achievement by seeking more fame, unlike some people.

But Colbert, as much as he may have attempted to make his broadcasts parodies, seems to have underestimated the stupidity of the American public.

People are taking his satirical broadcasts at face value, and are holding him up as a beacon of ridiculous conservatism.

I learned a long time ago to stop asking the question: "How stupid can people get?"

Apparently, no one else did.

Friday, July 01, 2011

If You Don't Cry When You Watch This...

You need to turn in your credentials as a human being and go back to whatever planet you came from!

My Age is Showing--Again.

So. I went and saw the new Transformers movie today. In 3-D.

By the way, when they ask you to "recycle" your 3-D glasses, what they really mean is "Give them back to us so we can charge some other poor sucker an extra $4.00 for them".

(And, if they want this 3-D thing to be successful, then they need to come up with a way to get rid of those damn glasses. Seriously. 2 and a half hours of them can cause a seriously raging headache.)

At any rate, one of the robots is voiced by Leonard Nimoy. And, at one point, his character says (paraphrasing): "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

Upon hearing this, I laughed uproariously.

I was the only one.

The theater wasn't that crowded, but still. Was I the only one who spotted the reference?

Apparently.

This has happened before. A few years ago, in the G.I. Joe movie, the character General Hawk utters the line "...And knowing is half the battle." I laughed out loud. People looked at me like I was crazy.

The movie, by the way, was typical Michael Bay: massive explosions and even more massively bad writing. And yet another gorgeous female lead with the acting ability of a butternut squash. This time, however, at least they played to her strengths, or should I say, strength: Her ability to look good. DAMN good. Scorchingly, blisteringly, massively good.

By the way, I was 2 years out of high school before she was even born. As if I needed further proof I'm getting old.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Valentine Film Series

In my home town of Toledo, there is a grand theater known as The Valentine. This theater sat abandoned and languishing in downtown for years, until there was a push to restore it to its former glory.

And I gotta say, it succeeded.

I've been to a few events in this theater. Plays, Operas, and, most importantly, showings of vintage Hollywood films.

Downtown Toledo does not have much to attract. Department stores and shopping centers that once attracted thousands of customers have long since moved to the suburbs. About the only people that still hold regular jobs in downtown Toledo are the people that work in City or County government like me. And the only people that don't hold that kind of job work in the restaurants that serve those employees.

But our city fathers keep trying. They work to ensure that the few remaining businesses that stay downtown draw in as many people as they can. Like the Toledo Mud Hens. And the Toledo Walleye.

And the Valentine Theater film series

And, as I sat and enjoyed Jaws yesterday as part of the VFS, I laughed as dozens of audience members screamed after that face popped out of the sunken boat.

(Look it up. How many times do I have to tell you people that I'm not your search engine?!)

I think that it is impossible to express how proud I am as a dweller of a major urban area of the folks who try to keep urban areas thriving. It's an uphill battle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

As if I needed any More Proof...

There's a movie coming out next month: Friends With Benefits.

As far as I can tell from what I've seen from the trailers and media reports, this movie's plot is almost identical to the movie that came out less than half a year ago. You may recall it: No Strings Attached.

May I also point out some other similarities?

NSA starred Natalie Portman, the Oscar-winning actress from Black Swan. Her co-star was Mila Kunis.

FWB stars Mila Kunis. She was the actress who appeared opposite Natalie Portman in Black Swan

NSA featured Natalie in numerous sexual situations, while exposing her to no actual nudity.

FWB appears to feature Mila mostly the same.

Both movies feature male and female friends who attempt to engage in purely physical relationships. Against the advice of their friends.

Both movies show that such relationships are impossible.

And again I point out that both movies appear less than half a year from each other.

Further proof that there are no original ideas left in Hollywood.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Pledge Allegiance...

This may be the funniest--and scariest--thing I've seen in a long time!




I love the "Now come and get your Ritalin" at the end!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

My Favorite Expression

It has always been the one mostly attributed to the Spanish-American Philosopher George Santayana, who wrote--paraphrasing--"Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to relearn them:.

Those are not the exact words attributed to him.

But wiser words were never spoken or written.

And no words have ever been been more ignored.

Take a look back through history, and think a minute about how many times variations of the same events have been repeated throughout the history of humankind.

Take one of the more recent examples: World War 2.

Only a little more than 20 years after World War 1, a cataclysm that claimed the lives of half the population of Europe, another, even bigger war started--World War 2. And this war claimed even more lives, and was responsible for unleashing the Atomic bomb, currently the most frightening weapon of mass destruction known to the world.

The world now sits in dread of what might happen when and if World War 3 comes.

We, as a species, do not seem to be able to learn from our mistakes. Even mistakes that nearly wipe us out.

This is not the behavior of a rational race. And I fear that this behavior may be our doom.

On the other hand, however, we have survived these errors in judgment for centuries. Maybe someone IS looking out for us. For our own good.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Disconnect From Reality

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with family and friends at my Sister's house. There were upwards of 25 people there. A big barbecue occurred, along with much chaotic activity by the younger generation.

As the evening approached, the weather began to turn nasty. Thunder and rainstorms approached. Tornado sirens wailed off in the distance.

The normal response when hearing tornado sirens by any rational person is to immediately seek secure shelter, preferably in the basement of whatever structure you happen to be near or in. It really doesn't matter if a tornado will actually come. The point is that when and if a tornado comes, there's very little you can do to protect yourself once it's there. So the rational thing to do is to make sure you are already protected.

So what was the response of everyone there?

Nothing!

Everyone (but me) reacted like tornado sirens were something they heard every day.

Ask the citizens of Joplin, Missouri, if that's a good idea.

After the storms had passed--without incident, thank God--I began to ask myself why no one treated this incident as an emergency.

I can come up with several reasons, not the least of which is that the parents in the group did not want to cause panic among the crowd of youngsters, most of whom were younger than 6 years old.

But I don't think that was it. Arguments like that were used to rationalize George W. Bush's lack of action after being told about the attacks of September 11th, when he sat there looking like someone had hit him in the face with a shovel for seven minutes. I didn't buy it then, and I don't buy it now.

No, I think the real reason is more insidious: the people who dwell in the privileged world that my sister, her family, and her friends currently live in do not believe that anything bad could ever happen to them.

This is understandable, to a certain extent. It's been a long time since my sister or any of her friends had to realize the experience of living from paycheck to paycheck. Or worrying about which expense to put off until the next month because you can't afford it. Or being one major financial setback from living on the street.

I pray that they never have to find out what that feels like.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Back-Pedaling

Now that the supposed date of The Rapture has come and gone without incident, the billboards have disappeared, the people who gave away their life savings feel stupid, and, of course, the 89-year-old radio pastor who created all this hoopla in the first place has admitted, for the first time, the possibility that he may have been wrong.

What a surprise.

Of course, the man, Harold Camping, is shocked, SHOCKED, to find that gambling is going on he--I mean, to find that the apocalypse did not happen after all.

The only surprising part to me was not that people believed this Quack's doomsday predictions, but that TENS OF THOUSANDS of people believed them.

Actually, it's not that surprising. P.T. Barnum was incredibly naive. There are hundreds of suckers born every minute.

How else do you explain:

Pyramid schemes.
Bernie Madoff.
Salting mines.
Gold-painted bricks.
The Nigerian Scam.
The Irish Lottery.

(How many times do I have to tell you people that I'm not going to link to those. I ain't your damn search engine!)

I really shouldn't be surprised that Mr. Camping used religion to create the biggest scam of all. Nothing has ever been used to fool people more than religion. And that fact should scare everyone more than anything else in this world.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rapture Watch

It is now officially 45 minutes past midnight EDST as I write this. I'm still here. My dog is still here. Nobody's been taken bodily into heaven yet, at least as far as I know.

If anyone needs a further display of how silly the doomsday prediction was, please stay tuned.

Updates will be continued...

UPDATE: 11:30 a.m.
One half-hour 'til noon, EDST. Still waiting on the rapture. As far as I can tell, none of my neighbors have been taken, including the pastor who lives next door. I figure he would've been one of the first ones to go...

Meh. Whatever. I'm still waiting.

To be continued.

Update: 2:30 P.M. EDST

Still here. So are all my neighbors. So is everyone else, at least judging by the traffic and by the number of people shopping at Costco. And I doubt people were stocking up, because if they thought they were still going to be here, they'd just wait until the others had left and then just loot the store...

Update: 7:00 P.M. EDST

Still here. So is the traffic on the street. Haven't seen my neighbors, but it is Saturday night, it is raining, and I can't expect them to be losers like me. It will be midnight here in 5 hours. Another 6 hours after that it will be officially midnight on the International Date Line. At that point, May 21st, 2011 will officially disappear into the history books. So, Rapture, if you're reading this, you'd better get a move on. You've only got a few hours left!

Update: 11:50 P.M. EDST

In honor of the predicted apocalypse, I got seriously drunk. It is now 10 minutes to midnight EDST. May 21st is about to disappear from my time zone. I'm gonna wake up tomorrow with a major hangover.

Or not. The Rapture has 6 hours left to happen before May 21st crosses the international date line and ceases to exist. Attention Rapture: You have six hours to take me into Heaven before I wake up cursing you on every possible level for doing this to me!

Good night folks! See you tomorrow. Or not. Depending on what happens in the next 6 hours. This update officially ends VITC's rapture watch. I'm going to bed.

FINAL UPDATE: May 22nd.

Well, surprise, surprise. Nothing happened. That's the good (and not unexpected) news.

The bad news is that now I have to go back to work tomorrow. Dammit!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rich Idiots Should Give Me Money

I recently heard the news that the cast of MTV's Jersey Shore are demanding $10000 per episode for their "performances" in the series.

So. Now, not only are these people complete idiots--they are now going to be rich idiots.

And I have a plan for them.

As everyone knows, people who are rich need to invest their money. So to you, the rich idiots of the world, I offer you an investment plan. If you send me all of your money, I will invest it for you. I will not invest it in anything that will keep your money safe and secure. I will invest it in my personal expenses. I will invest it in things that will make me happy. In other words, I will use your money in a way that will bring you no security whatsoever. You will lose every dollar you invest with me.

But you won't care. Because you are idiots. You are fools. You know the saying about how a fool and his (or her) money are soon parted. You have an obligation to live up to that saying.

So here are the terms:
1) You must be rich. No one whose personal net worth is less than $10 million need apply.
2) You must be an idiot. The most apt pre-requisite for this requirement is to be a cast member of a reality show. Note: All cast members of Jersey Shore are pre-approved. All other applicants will be judged on a per-case basis.
3) You must realize that any money you invest with me you will never see again. As an idiot, I fully expect that you will have absolutely no problem with this requirement.

If you meet these three requirements, please leave a post in the comments detailing how I may contact you. Please include your name, Social Security number, Mother's maiden name, bank account numbers, credit card information (including the three-digit security code on the back of the card), and anything else you think I might need to access your money.

And don't worry. I will take care of you. And your money. You will get everything you deserve.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Provide for your Pets!

As the 3 readers of this blog may or may not be aware, this Saturday (May 21st, 2011) is the rapture.

And, as per usual, someone has found a way to take advantage of this.

Of course, the thing I am most pissed off about is that I didn't think of this idea first.

There are an extremely large number of unbalanced, naive, and gullible people out there.

(By the way: did you know the word gullible is not in the dictionary? Look it up!)

By and large, enough of those aforementioned people are just stupid enough to fall for this scam.

And, of course, their rate of customer enrollment must be greatly increasing thanks to this latest prediction, spurred on by a massive advertising campaign.

Ah well. As a Christian, I'm sure I'll be taken in the Rapture anyway. Right? Right?!

Phooey.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Last One

Claude Stanley Choules. Born 3/3/1901. Died 5/5/2011. Age: 110.

This man, an Australian, was the last surviving combat veteran of World War I.

World War I was called "The War to End All Wars". At the time, it was a global cataclysm that engulfed nearly every industrialized nation in the world. It decimated the populations of Europe, England, Russia, Turkey, and other countries. It unleashed methods of destroying human life like the world had never seen before.

More importantly, it should have been a lesson to humanity about the terrible price to pay for allowing ourselves to think all of our problems could be solved with violence.

Only 31 years after the end of WW1, another global war began. It took humanity no more than a single generation to forget the lessons learned from the first one.

Since the end of that conflict, there has rarely been a moment in time where there was not war somewhere in the world. Why is it that humanity is unable to learn the lessons of history?

By all accounts, Mr. Choules became a lifelong pacifist after his service. He refused to march in Veterans' parades, or participate in any commemorations of events of the war. He thought that war should not be celebrated. He was right.

The man lived a full and rich life. All 110+ years of it. He had 3 children with his wife of 76 years. He knew how to be happy.

I wish we could all learn how to do the same.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Me Like!!

Obama displays some first-class comedy chops...



And turns Donald Trump from possible Presidential candidate to national joke literally overnight.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

They Got Him

As I write this post, American news organizations are jubilantly announcing the death of Osama Bin Laden.

This is nearly a decade after he organized the destruction of the World Trade Center.

This is nearly a decade after George W. Bush declared that we would find him "Dead or Alive".

So now what?

Explain to me how this will end terrorism?

Explain to me how this will fix the world's problems?

Explain to me how this will make him anything more than a permanent martyr?

I once saw a Warner Brothers Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoon. W.E. chased R.R. into a pipe that got smaller and smaller. At the end of the pipe, they both came out tiny. W.E. waved R.R. back into the pipe. Back at the big end, W.E. came out still tiny, while R.R. was back to full size. W.E. then held up a sign that said this "You always wanted me to catch him. Now what do I do?"

We can now celebrate the death of this ruthless madman. If he truly is dead, I sincerely hope he rots in hell for all eternity, and then for a few centuries after that. But I have sincere doubts that his death will have any effect on the long-term terror problem.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Birth Certificate

So it has finally happened. President Barack Obama has finally released an official copy of his birth certificate. And here is his reason:



"We do not have time for silliness."

Truer words were never spoken.

Dear Republicans: Please nominate Donald Trump as your presidential candidate next year. And tell him to select Michelle Bachman as his running mate. I can't think of a better way to ensure that your party takes a 50-state beating.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Maundy Wednesday??

So, the latest bombshell dropped on Christianity is that The Last Supper actually happened on the Wednesday before Good Friday.

Apparently, Jesus, who was Jewish (Try to find the argument against that), practiced his faith according to an older calendar that recognized that the festival of Passover (Yes, the last supper was a Passover dinner--look it up!) as happening on the Wednesday of the Jewish Holy week, rather than Thursday, as has been long recognized in the Christian and Jewish faith alike.

My question is this: Who gives a flying f*&^?!

The date of the Last Supper really isn't all that important, don't you think?

What counts most for those of us who are practicing Christians is that on the Friday after the Last Supper, Jesus allowed himself to be painfully tortured and killed, so that we might all be redeemed from our lives of sin. All that was asked of us in return was that we try to follow his example of selfless sacrifice as best as we could. It's not something that many of us succeed at doing, but we can only try our best to do so.

For me, the whole timeline of the life and death of Jesus is a little farfetched. How on earth is it possible that a man can be welcomed into a major city as a savior on one Sunday, and then, less than a week later, be condemned as a traitor to the ruling government, one to be put to death in less than a day? And how is it that someone who was quietly spreading as many controversial ideas as he did came to the attention of the authorities of the day as quickly as is stated in the scripture? Remember that this happened about 2000 years before the creation of the internet and CNN.

I think it is far more likely that Jesus taught his ideas for weeks, months, or even years before he was put to death. And he was executed for spreading unpopular beliefs among the subjects of the government in power. As have been many others throughout history.

Regardless, I find my belief in Jesus comforting. It does not matter to me whether he was killed 2 days after his last supper or 2 years after it. The mere fact that there was a man willing to sacrifice himself in the hope that he could save others makes me believe that our species is destined to be greater than what we have become. Our history is filled with stories of those who willingly gave their lives to save others.

I hope that never stops happening.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Upstairs Downstairs

When I was a young boy (yes, I was young once), I can remember my mother excitedly tuning in to every weekly episode of the series Upstairs Downstairs that was broadcast on our local PBS station every week.

When the original series aired, I was far too young to really understand what it was all about. I had a vague idea that it was about people that existed in two different worlds: The privileged people who lived the high life "upstairs", and the poor folks who worked "downstairs" to ensure that the lives of the people "upstairs" were not disrupted.

I don't pretend to understand the appeal of this show to my mother, but I can make an educated guess: My mom was never rich by any stretch of the imagination. She grew up in a small rural town, on a working small farm. She was one of the first children in her family to go to college and get a degree. In other words, she worked very hard to exceed all expectations.

She used her degree to become a school teacher; to enrich young lives. It was a career she continued throughout her working life. When she first stopped working to raise me and my sister, she went back to teaching after she first left the profession. It was a career she continued until her cancer forced her to retire.

Perhaps coincidentally, the time she took off from her career was right around the time the first episode of Upstairs Downstairs aired in the U.S. And even if she had to watch it on a tiny Black & White TV (look it up, sparky!) with a fuzzy signal, she had to have appreciated how important it was to see how much the lower class people made sure the upper class depended on them.

Perhaps not. Maybe she was just a fan of well-written, quality television shows (a rarity in this day and age).

At any rate, a sequel to U-D is going to air this Sunday in the U.S. I plan on tuning it to watch it. In honor of my mom, if for no other reason.

God save the Queen!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

An Economics Lesson

These are $15.99 Ohio State steel reusable water bottles (sorry about the poor picture quality):



This is a $3.00 steel reusable water bottle, bought at a local Grocery Store:



This is a sheet of Ohio State vinyl stickers, costing $1.99:



This is now an Ohio State steel reusable water bottle. Total cost: $4.99:



Take that!

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Ears Are Bleeding!

I don't want to go on living!

Three words: Rebecca. Black. Friday.

Gah!

I will spare you the three readers of this blog the punishment of listening to this song for one single second. However, here is a version of the song and video that is approximately 450 times better than the original:



Utterly PERFECT synching! Gots ta love me that Death Metal! I'm still laughing my ass off!

(By the way, who is the black guy, and how does he fit into the whole thing?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of New York City.

I must confess: As an ardent supporter of Labor rights, I was unaware of this tragedy until I heard about it on NPR's Morning Edition earlier today.

For those of you too lazy to follow the link above, let me give a brief description: A fire broke out in an NYC garment factory (Shirtwaist is a fancy way to say Woman's blouse) during a Saturday work shift (yes, folks, back then having Saturday off was unheard of).

The factory owners had locked the main exit doors, ostensibly to prevent theft. The exact cause of the fire is not known, but the fire started on the 8th floor of the building. The one fire escape that was open quickly collapsed due to heat from the fire and overcrowding. With no way out, many of the workers leapt to their deaths to escape the flames, while many more were killed by the fire and smoke. Elevator operators in the building saved as many as they could, but the elevators soon became inoperable due to heat damage and to victims jumping into the open shafts. NYFD members could only stand by and watch helplessly as people leaped to their deaths, since their ladders could not reach the engulfed floors. I would imagine the first responders at the World Trade Center knew how they felt that day.

Most of the victims were women, and when I say women I should say girls who were ages 16-24, most of whom were Jewish immigrants from Europe and elsewhere.

It was the worst industrial tragedy in the History of New York City, and one of the worst industrial tragedies in the history of this country. 146 people died, with 71 injured. The factory owners were--of course--acquitted of manslaughter charges thanks to their lawyers, but I am sure they are roasting in hell today, forced to watch for all eternity the people they killed jump from their building time and time again.

Some good came from it, of course. A number of workplace safety laws sprang from this tragedy, and it helped spur the unionization of garment workers.

Why, though, does it always seem to take a tragedy before we work to change something that is unsafe? Are we as a people unable to learn the lessons of history until they have bloodied our noses time and time again?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Out of Ideas

Hollyweird has no new ideas left.

Doubt me? Well, then try this little test:

Think of any movie you've seen within the last 5 years or so.

See if it doesn't fall into one (or more) of the following categories:

1) A Sequel
2) Based on a comic book
3) Based on a book (or short story)
4) Based on a TV show
5) A "RomCom" whose plot you've already seen 10 times
6) A sports movie where the underdog wins (or almost wins)
7) An action movie where the hero (or anti-hero) seeks revenge for a past wrong.
8) "Based on" or "Inspired" by true events.
9) A remake
10) Based on an underage character displaying maturity beyond his or her years.

Let's look at the Oscar nominees for Best Picture from last year:

Inception: People entering other people's dreams to discover secrets buried in their subconscious = Dreamscape
The Fighter = Rocky + Category 8 above
Black Swan = Any movie where talented virtuoso driven crazy by pressure to perform.
The Kids Are All Right = Children of a lesbian couple seek their biological father. Category 8. Many, many times
The King's Speech = Category 8
127 hours = Category 8 strikes again!
The Social Network = Cat 8. The gift that keeps on giving.
Toy Story 3 = Category 1
True Grit = Category 9
Winter's Bone = Category 10

If anyone has a different view, I invite you to share it here.