Friday, December 01, 2006

Random Friday Ten

After a brief respite, here it is again, the Random Friday Ten. Post yours over at American Idle and feel good about it.

1) Terminator - Sevendust
2) Fuck the World - Insane Clown Posse (Don't bother to analyze these this song I say FUCK 93 times)
3) Hold It Now, Hit It - Beastie Boys
4) Worlds Apart - Hatebreed
5) Aenima - Tool (A more arty interpretation of the sentiments in the ICP song)
6) Loud Love - Soundgarden
7) Equinox - John Coltrane
8) Unity - 311
9) Mood Indigo - Louis Armstrong
10) 30 - Karma to Burn

That last one, woah. If you've never listened to Karma to Burn, give this track a shot. A power trio more powerful than Rush, with no words and numbers for song titles. It crushes!

Consuming Adhesive

The report hasn't been released yet, but it seems the Iraq Study Group has already concluded that the best course of action for the US in Iraq is...cutting and running. Only they don't call it that. They call it "phased withdrawal."

That kind of shit didn't even work when I was a kid.

"Don't eat paste!"

"I'm not...I'm consuming adhesive."

Perhaps those who so vociferously called the "declare victory and leave" crowd "cut and runners" think that by changing the terminology, no one will notice. It's unlikely they'll concede that Bush's plan --alternately called "bring em on" or "stay the course" or "they stand up, we stand down" -- just didn't work, and by pigheadedly sticking to a failing strategy, we are left with "phased withdrawal" as our best alternative. (Conveniently wrapped up by early 2008, no less.)

On another note, Charles Krauthammer inadvertently exposes the fatal cracks in the President's war plan, and openly admits that all that "freedom and democracy" talk was a smokescreen for good ole American imperialism. He writes:
What do people think we've been doing for the past five years? True, the president's rhetoric has a tendency to go soaringly Wilsonian, e.g. the banishing-tyranny stuff in his second inaugural address. But our policies of democratization in Iraq and Afghanistan and Lebanon have been deeply rooted in the most concrete of American interests.

If we really had been in the grip of "idealism," we'd be deep in Chad and Burma and Darfur. We are not. We are instead trying to sustain fragile democracies in three strategically important countries -- Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon -- that form the geographic parentheses around the principal threat to Western interests in the region, the Syria-Iran axis.

We are trying to bring democracy to Iraq in particular because a pro-Western government enjoying legitimacy and popular support would have been the most enduring means of securing our interests there.
It doesn't take a genius to realize that the Iraqis, with their various factions and interests of their own, would resist such efforts to be the pawns of "Western interests."

Would you like to be the pawn of "Islamist interests?" Doubt it.

Of course, it's easy to say out of one corner of your mouth that "man is an end unto himself" and then out of the other corner, say "except when that man interferes with my interests."

It's another thing entirely to admit that in a complicated world of competing interests, imposing your own through force is often counter-productive.

How's that old saying go? "You catch more bees with honey than vinegar."

Sad that a fortune cookie aphorism contains more truth than the entire "conservative" intelligentsia, who bends over backwards to make excuses for a war that was fatally flawed not only in execution, but in conception as well.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

It Was All Just a Dream

I had a dream last night that I was lost in Texas. For some reason, I was looking for a strip club (?!) that I knew was in the shadow of Texas Stadium. Why this task was so important, I have no clue. I have no problem with strippers, but rarely do I actually seek them out, even in my dreams.

I stopped off at a gas station to get directions to the stadium, figuring that if I found that I'd find the club eventually. But this wasn't an ordinary gas station. It was part gas station, part pawn shop or something.

Inside, while waiting for the shop keep to come back with directions, I asked the lady standing next to me to hold my digital video camera. I got the directions, and when I asked the lady for my camera back, she handed me a cordless phone set-up.

"No," I said, "I want my camera."

She pretended that I had never given her a camera, but had that vaguely guilty look in her eye. This must be their racket, I thought. They steal things from tourists and sell them in their shop.

But I wasn't about to let my camera become their next hot ticket item, so I made a big stink about it. I grabbed the lady's wrist, even as she tried to hide my camera behind her back.

Finally, she called over her shoulder, "Buffalo!" Summoning a big Texas brawler like Agamemmnon summoning Achilles, this big bruiser rounded the corner and came at me.

I struck first, sweeping his legs out from under him and taking him down. I mounted his chest, straddling his arms with my knees. He was strong, but I was pissed. He struggled and I flattened his nose with my fist. I mean flattened. When I was done with him he looked like a washed up palooka who tried to win one too many prize fights.

But Buffalo still had some fight left in him, and he threw his leg up, trying to hook me into a UFC submission move. Just as I was about to counter it, I looked up and noticed another strongarm coming around the corner to rip off my head.

Fuck this, I said. Realizing this must all be a dream, I shook myself awake. And to my relief, it was all just a dream.

Five Signs of a Lousy Job

I found this article somewhat funny. This time last year, all of these things would have definitely applied to me:

1. You dread going to work.

Then: Sometimes I would dread going to work, I would call in sick. Then call in sick two more times, giving me a nice five day weekend, then I'd show up the next day. See, all better.

Now: I dreaded going to work the first few weeks because it was all so new and unfamiliar and I had new guy syndrome. These days I have a reasonable grasp on what I'm doing and sometimes I even look forward to going to work.

2. You get no enjoyment from your day-to-day responsibilities.

Then: The job was boring and repetitive. Pushing buttons, basically. And to top it off, there was no sense of accomplishment. You'd do your piece and leave the rest to someone else. You never actually accomplished anything. Trust me, there was nothing to enjoy.

Now: I wouldn't say I enjoy my responsibilities so much I'd make them my hobbies, but there are times when I enjoy what I'm doing.

3. You are uncomfortable with the company culture and environment.

Then: I worked for a huge publicly traded company which also happened to be a public untility. The company culture was to treat you like children. Your bosses were the parents and you did what you were told...or else.

Now: The company culture is amazingly laid back. If you've ever watched the special features on any movie with a huge CGI budget, you'd get an idea of what the culture is like. Think the animators from Star Wars or The Incredibles. Creative, casual, with energy and life.

4. Your relationship with your boss is turbulent.

Then: Turbulent was a good way of putting it. Think parent-teenager relationship. Mom and Dad don't know a damn thing about your life, but they're going to make sure they try to control every aspect of it. That's bound to create some conflict.

Now: My bosses are both very cool, very funny guys, and they trust me more than they probably should. Not only that, but they are absolute gurus at what they do. They didn't become bosses because of their supervisory skills. They became bosses because they know their shit.

5. You see no opportunities for career advancement or enhancement.

Then: I reached a dead end at my old job. I didn't know enough to move around and there was no where else to go where I was at. There were many times when I thought I was in a quicksand pit and it was slowly sucking me down...

Now: I see opportunities everywhere. Not only is the company growing at an amazing rate (digital cinema is the way of the future, after all), but I'm learning about all kinds of things. HD broadcasts over satellite, the movie business, the ad business, not to mention all the technical stuff a junior NOC engineer needs to know.

So I guess I have a pretty good job, considering.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Short Cuts - Political Edition

I wonder...if environmentalism was a pet right-wing cause, would Glenn Beck and Neil Cavuto have such strident criticisms of the animated penguin movie Happy Feet? Doubt it.

I wonder...what would have happened if Jim Webb had actually slugged the President. (I can totally picture Bush's smug little smile as he came up to Webb and said, "How's your boy?" And I can understand Webb's urge to deck him.)

I wonder...if Bill O'Reilly were a pagan, would he be bitching about the war on Saturnalia?

I Got Tagged!

Yes, indeedy, I got tagged. A little survey fun. And no, I didn't write the questions, even though I'm sure some sevey from Horace Greeley Junior High did.

Here goes:

DO YOU SNORE? I'm sure I do, but not all the time and not as bad as a buddy of mine!

ARE YOU A LOVER OR A FIGHTER? You mean there's a difference??

WHAT’S YOUR WORST FEAR? Amputation. Paralysis.

AS A KID, WERE YOU A LEGO MANIAC? Kinda, but GI Joes were cheaper and we sure as hell weren't rich.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF “REALITY” TV? That it's not very real...or very good.



IS THE SINGLE LIFE FOR YOU? 1) Real answer: Not really. I'm not really liking it all that much. 2) Smart ass answer: It's a pirate's life for me.

WHAT COLOR IS YOUR KEYBOARD? Black, like my heart.

DO YOU SING IN THE SHOWER? Shower? Sometimes. Most of the time I'm still half-asleep, so there's really just a bunch of waking up going on in there.

HAVE YOU EVER BUNGEE JUMPED? No, and I never will. I cried like a little girl on the Superman ride at Six Flags Over Texas, didn't I, Jimmy? Me and heights don't get along all too well.

ANY SECRET TALENTS? No, my talents are on display for all to see.


CAN YOU SWIM? Underwater even.

HAVE YOU SEEN THE MOVIE DONNIE DARKO? Oh yeah, many many times. I like the Director's Cut better, though.


HOW MANY LICKS DOES IT TAKE TO GET TO THE CENTER OF A TOOTSIE POP? No clue, but I know a cartoon owl who can do it in three.

CAN YOU SING THE ALPHABET BACKWARDS? Sure, which language would you like me to do it in? Ancient Greek? Sanskrit? Quechua? C'mon, man! Gimme a hard one.

DO YOU PREFER ELECTRIC OR MANUAL PENCIL SHARPENER? I prefer a roller ball pen. I don't write with anything else.

WHAT’S YOUR STAND ON HUNTING? Could be fun, I guess, but ultimately unneccesary. I'll tell you one thing, though...Dick Cheney doesn't hunt. He just shoots at things. I don't know any hunters who call that kind of thing hunting.

IS MARRIAGE IN YOUR FUTURE? I'd like it to be, but I doubt it. If so, it'll be my first. Her second. That's my guess anyway. I ain't no spring chicken anymore. I'm thirtysomething now.

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Sure. If I didn't, I'd change it.

WHAT ARE YOU ALLERGIC TO? Dust. Going to church.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAID, “I LOVE YOU”? Last time I talked to my Mom.


HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS? As ingredients. If I had to eat an egg, though, I'd eat it scrambled or deviled. None of this over easy shit.

ARE BLONDES DUMB? No, but their hair smells funny.

WHERE DOES THE OTHER SOCK END UP? In the portal that leads to John Malkovich's head.

WHAT TIME IS IT? Time to get ill.

DO YOU HAVE A NICKNAME? Jaime. Jamey. Jimmy P. The Railsplitter. (Okay, I made that last one up.)


WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE IN A CAR? On the perilous drive home.

DO YOU PREFER BATHS OR SHOWERS? Showers, but a good hot bubble bath with a book is great. If only I could fit in the bathtub...

IS SANTA CLAUS REAL? Is Bill O'Reilly an asshole?

DO YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR NECK KISSED? It's alright, but I'd rather be the one doing the kissing.


WHAT ARE YOU ADDICTED TO? Caffeine, nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol, truth, and beauty.




IS DRUG FREE THE WAY TO BE? What was that? Free drugs??? Where?



DO YOU LIKE YOUR LIFE? It's alright. If I have any complaints, you'll hear them, that's for sure.

ARE YOU PSYCHIC? I knew you were going to ask that...

HAVE YOU READ CATCHER IN THE RYE? Yeah, it was an easy read, but I didn't really like it all that much. Some dude walked around the city, saw some people, drank some booze. What else happened? I don't know.

DO YOU PLAY ANY INSTRUMENTS? Guitar, not very well.

HAVE YOU EVER STOLEN MONEY? Yep. Not since I developed morals, though.

CAN YOU SNOWBOARD? No, but how hard can it be?

DO YOU LIKE CAMPING? Yeah, except when the camp nazi goes crazy.

DO YOU SNORT WHEN YOU LAUGH? Only occasionally.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? I believe in the Magic of Powerful Thinking.

ARE DOGS A MAN’S BEST FRIEND? Yes, because woman sure as hell isn't! Ha!

YOU BELIEVE IN DIVORCE? I believe most marriages end in divorce. But do I think divorce is a good thing? No.

CAN YOU DO THE MOONWALK? Does Michael Jackson like sleeping with boys?

DO YOU MAKE A LOT OF MISTAKES? More than I'd like to.

IS IT COLD OUTSIDE TODAY? As cold as an Eskimo's balls!

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A smothered burrito

DO YOU WEAR NAIL POLISH? Only on my toes, and only when applied by a lovely female.

HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU LIKE RIGHT NOW? See...this is the junior high question. What the hell do you mean, how many people do I like right now? Like as in I want to go steady? Or like as in, you know, a generally favorable attitude?

WHAT’S THE MOST ANNOYING TV COMMERCIAL? The Brinks Invasion of the Door Kickers commercials. Anything featured Jared from Subway.

DO YOU SHOP AT AMERICAN EAGLE? That's at the mall, right? So no.

FAVORITE SONG AT THE MOMENT? Cherry Waves by the deftones.
Now fold this in the super secret way and pass along before Miss Maplethorpe sees it and sends you to the principal's office.

Home Depot Picture

I took this picture as research for my garden project. See, I need some more pressure treated lumber for the garden beds I've been building this off-season. I'm also going to be putting up a fence to protect the whole garden area from the dogs. My idea was to go to Home Depot, see what they had, see how much it was going to cost, then come home and formulate a plan.

As soon as a Home Depot representative saw the flash from my camera, he came over to me and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't allow cameras in our stores."

I looked at him with a bemused you-gotta-be-fucking-joking-man look and said, "Okay."

He kept giving me the eye. His gaze dropped to the camera still in my hand. "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to put that away."

"Okay," I said, wondering what other things I would have to say to get this guy to go away. He just kept looking at me.

I put the camera away and decided I might as well get my lumber elsewhere.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When It Snows...the Idiots Drive

It didn't take me an hour to get home, but I have to echo the Cat's distress with people who lose the ability to drive as soon as the streets get sloppy.

Here's a tip: When the highways are slicker than the Gotti boys' hair, do not, I repeat, do not tap your brakes when you want to slow down. There is no better way to go spinning out of control, slamming into all the cars around you and ruining the commute for a lot of people.

This is what you do. Take your lead foot off the fucking gas, moron, and let friction do the rest. You will slow down and chances are you won't go spinning off through oblivion in the process.

Yeah, I'm talking to you in the Corolla.

And always remember your Aesop: Slow and steady wins the race.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What's So Civil About War Anyway?

Matt Lauer had the gall to come on TV and say that Iraq was in a civil war. The White House disagreed vehemently, pointing out that "civil" means "Of or in accordance with organized society," and as such the word cannot be applied to a chaotic Iraq ripping itself to shreds one suicide bomb at a time.

Instead, the White House official language refers to the war in Iraq as just "the war." And though the headlines proclaim "the war" a disaster, White House officials insist that "the war" is just a war.

When asked about the Sunnis who were burned alive in response to an attack that left 215 Shiites dead, outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "Stuff happens." He was also careful to note that this incident shouldn't be seen as further proof that Iraq is slipping into civil war because "Sunnis and Shiites having been killing each other for years."

In the meantime, President Bush made a diplomatic sweep through Latvia and Estonia, seeking to shore up support for US involvement in Iraq's civil...ahem...not so civil war. Once considered former Soviet backwaters, Latvia and Estonia (combined population less than 4 million, roughly equivalent to the population of Miami) are now thought to be the United States' strongest allies in the War on Terror.

In other news, fresh off his cover-story for Newsweek (which in all seriousness is worth a read), insurgent leader Moqtada Al-Sadr announced plans to team up with Taco Bell to unveil a new culinary delight to Americans with a taste for faux-Mexican food. Called the "Tostada Al-Sadr", the latest item on Taco Bell's menu features refried beans covered in cheese, topped with a delicious sauce made of Sunni blood and genuine Mesopotamian crude. The Tostada Al-Sadr will replace the Gordita, which many consider to be offensive to small fat Mexicans.

And now...our top story tonight: Michael Richards apologized to Jesse Jackson for calling someone else the N word........

Skanks For the Memories

Celebrity skanks have been getting lots of ink these days. Britney Spears has been palling around with fellow skank Paris Hilton and even got caught with her panties down. (I would put that pic up, but you know, it's NSFW and's kinda gross. In case you were wondering, excessive tanning doesn't hide stretch marks too well.)

In other skank news, Pamela Anderson is dropping Kid Rock. Only God Knows Why. I mean, she has such good taste in men...

For his part, Kevin Federline isn't too sad about his impending divorce. He's enrolled in a skank-replacement program and already found one to spend the holidays with. Those boobs sure are big...but are they really boobs or just big balls of saline solution?
I hate to say it, Pam, Britney, Paris, and K-Fed, but when it comes to porn stars, I prefer the real thing.
You don't see Jenna Jameson putting out a crappy record to justify her skankiness.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thank Heaven I Don't Have to Go to 7-11

I'm done with 7-11, at least the one by my house.

Despite horrible experience after horrible experience, I kept coming coming back, giving them chance after chance. But finally, I can do it no longer. I'm done. If I ever need gas, or cigarettes, or pop and candy, I will go anywhere but 7-11.

Here's why: It's terribly inconvenient to go to this 7-11. Yes, it's inconvenient to go to a convenience store.

The straw that broke the camel's back was this: During my last trip to 7-11, I was standing in line with a 12 pack of Pepsi, some sunflower seeds, and my wallet. Only one of the two ladies who work there was behind the counter, the other lurking by the candy taking inventory or something. About five minutes into my interminable wait, the phone started ringing.

The lady at the register didn't answer it. Ring...ring. She's too busy ringing up the guy in front of me, taking about a minute per item, oblivious to the urgent ringing of the phone.

Instead, it seems the inventory lady, who put down her clipboard, sighed heavily, and began waddling around the counter, would answer the phone. And she waddled slow.

Ring...ring, she made it around the donuts. Ring...ring, ooh, she passed the nachos now. Ring...ring, rounding the corner, getting close. Ring...ring, by the cigarettes now. Ring...ring, wow, made it to the phone, but she's just staring at it. Ring...ring. Now she picks it up.

I don't know how many times the phone rang before she finally got around to answering it, but it was over 7 and somewhat less than 20. Think about the time it takes for a phone to ring 7 times. Think about how far it is from the candy aisle to the phone in your average 7-11.

I don't know if that lady has corns or brain damage or something, but one thing is for certain, she doesn't have a sense of urgency.

None of those people at that 7-11 do either. They act like you the customer have nothing better to do than spend all day in a 7-11 with them. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The entire appeal of a 7-11 is running in and out, the convenience.

And I'm not sure how it is in 7-11 land, but if I let the phone ring 7 or more times at my job, any job I've ever had, I would be fired. Wouldn't you?

Unfortunately for the franchisee who hired these incompetent 7-11 employees, we live in a capitalistic society where gas and cigarettes and candy and pop can be purchased at any corner gas station with a minimum of effort. So why go to a slow poke 7-11 where the service is unfailingly bad all the time?

Here's the short answer: You won't.

Denver Sports

If you are lucky enough to get the NFL Network and happened to catch the Denver-KC game on Thanksgiving, you probably know that the Broncos were creamed. Not even a minute in, Jake Plummer got getting picked off and try as they might, the Broncos never quite recovered. They not only lost the game, but their spot atop the AFC West. (I told ya the AFC West was competitive.)

And now it seems Plummer has lost his starting job. Yep, Jay Cutler, first round draft pick, heir apparent to John Elway's legacy, will get his first NFL start next Sunday against the Seahawks.

It's not a bad move, considering Jake's mistake-prone play, but I wonder if changing quarterbacks mid-season really is the jumpstart the Broncos need. How about a consistent running back? An offense that allows some pocket passing rather than relying on sneaky bootlegs? How about a tight end threat even?

I guess we'll see if these things materialize with Cutler under center. It seems obvious that they weren't going to under Jake...

In other local sports news, the Nuggets scored 140 points to beat the Golden State Warriors. That's not a typo. 140 points. J.R. Smith got 31 points. Carmelo Anthony had 30. It's still way too early in the season to start making forecasts, but if the Nugs keep up this level of play, they could go on to do great things.

Kenyon Martin who?

The Fountain

If you go see Darren Aronofsky's new movie The Fountain expecting a straightforward science fiction epic, you're going to be sorely disappointed. It's anything but straightforward and has more mythical/mystical elements than anything scientific.

If you've seen the commercials, you're probably vaguely aware that The Fountain's main conceit is that it tells three stories in three different time periods. The first, a story about a Spanish conquistador searching the jungles of New Spain for the mythical Tree of Life, whose existence is confirmed by Mayan myth as well as biblical fiat. The second, a story of two lovers, one (Rachel Weisz) dying of a deadly brain tumor, the other (Hugh Jackman) desperately trying to find a cure. The third, and the strangest, is Jackman's character floating through space in a bubble with the Tree of Life on an interstellar quest to reach the heart of a dying star.

Confused yet? You shouldn't be. It was never intended that these stories be told in a linear way, which is why the film intercuts between them throughout, and if you were to take any one of these stories out, you would destroy the entire meaning of the film.

Consider, for instance, that the "main" story, the "real" story, is the one about Rachel Weisz dying and her husband seeking a cure. It takes place in "real time," in the modern era. For lack of a better word, I'll call this the "reality" story. The characters are only fully alive in this story, and the situation they have to deal with provides the crux of the entire movie.

The story which opens the movie, the one about the conquistador, appears to be a product of fantasy, a novel Rachel Weisz's character is writing in her last days as her husband spends all of his time developing a cure. Based on history and myth, it's a vaguely allegorical account of how the Weisz character views her husband, the brave conquistador searching for the secret of eternal life out of love for his queen. With that said, this story isn't "historical" at all, and shouldn't be considered to have actually happened. It's allegory, it's myth, it's pure imagination, an alternate universe where alternate versions of the main characters work out issues of fear and courage and love and dedication.

The third story, the one that seems most fantastical, about the Tommy character floating through space in a huge bubble with a chunk of earth and the Tree of Life, is an extension of the "real" story, but it's the "mystical" aspect of it. Here we are confronted with blaring images of Tommy floating through a nebula in the lotus position, head shaved like a Shaolin monk. His mission: to become reborn in the heart of a dying star.

As the film jumps from story to story, these different aspects (reality, myth, and mysticism) collide in an explosion of meaning. Clues are dropped throughout to help us understand. The Tree of Life we realize isn't the tree of myth, where the Mayan First Father sacrificed himself to bring the world into existence. It's a strange species in Guatamala whose sap has anti-aging properties. The tree floating in Tommy's 26th century bubble isn't the Tree of Life, it's one of these mysterious trees that Tommy had planted on Izzy's grave, which having been sustained by the decay of her mortal coil, takes on her spiritual essence.

So while 25th Century Tommy floats his way into the cataclysm of a nebula, we know that he's doing it to emulate First Father, whose death as a man and rebirth as the symbolic Tree of Life brought the world into existence.

I know, I know. It still doesn't make any sense! Of course not. Movies like this exist in a vacuum where "sense" doesn't exist. It's not an attempt to show us reality, what might happen if a man finds the secret to eternal life, but instead an artistic rumination on life and death, loss and the acceptance (or nonacceptance) of loss. And as such, it's a film like no other.