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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Is Obama a Bling Killer?

The only thing I love about Mickey Kaus is mocking him. He's not a very good pundit, but he is good for a laugh or two.

Case in point, I heard about this post before I read it:
...I kind of hope Obama's election will kill off much of hip-hop, at least the gangsta-inspired parts. But just killing off bling and gangsta fashion would be a start...
And after reading it, I wonder if Mickey Kaus has been drinking too much ketamine-laced Kool-aid or what.

Mickey, Mickey, Mickey. Where did you get this one?

Yes, we've heard so many times that JFK single-handedly killed off hats for men when he didn't wear one at his inauguration. But come on, man. Everyone knows that it was Dwight Eisenhower who signed the death warrant. (I keed, I keed. Actually, I think the Great Depression and WWII had more to do with making the hat unfashionable than any president, Eisenhower, JFK, or other.)

But does Mickey really think that gangsters have been sitting around waiting for a black guy to get elected so they can follow his fashion sense?

At any rate, it seems that of all the wide-ranging powers the Leader of the Free World has, changing fashions isn't one of them.

Do you wear a flag pin on your lapel? Me either. And I don't even own a suit. I'm not sure if that says more about Dubya's stature as a trendsetter or my status as a fashionista...

(Although I don't think it says anything at all.)

Call me crazy, Mickey, but I think the only thing that's going to kill the baggy pants and bling bling look is going to be the next trend, one that I'm sure Mickey will find just as objectionable.

(I was going to link him, but apparently I forgot. It's a good thing, too, because I also "forgot" that I don't link to Mickey Kaus.)

The Crappening

In case you were wondering, everything you've heard about M. Night Whatever's new movie The Happening is true. It's really bad.

Before you read any further, I should warn you that I'm going to be giving out spoilers as I snicker at the badness. Take comfort from the fact that I'm doing you a favor by spoiling it.

First off, you should probably know what's "happening": Apparently plants have decided that humans are a threat, so they release a poisonous gas or neurotoxin that causes people to kill themselves.

This is one of those ideas that a writer might get real late at night. It'll end up as a few lines in his notebook and when he comes back to it with a clearer mind, he starts asking himself the important questions that his audience is going to ask.

Wait, plants have no brains or sensory organs, so not only is it unlikely they would one day decide that humans are a threat, it's likely they're not even aware of humans. I'm going to go one step further... Plants aren't even aware they're plants!

But okay, whatever... Let's just say that we accept that part like we accept that Spiderman can walk on walls or Superman can fly. What about this poison gas?

A poison gas whose effects are not just a general range of physical symptoms, like nausea, blindness, or hysteria, but a specific behavior like committing suicide? Please.

I'd accept a poison gas that caused a quick painful death, or even a slow painful death. I might even accept a poison gas that turns people into frothing-at-the-mouth homicidal maniacs. But I can't accept a poison gas that makes you kill yourself anymore than I can accept one that makes you stand on your head and juggle.

What, plants don't like juggling?? I mean, from the plant's perspective, it seems like it would make no difference if mankind were juggling or dead, as long as the threat to plantkind was neutralized. Granted, an outbreak of juggling is a lot less cinematic than an outbreak of suicides, but it makes just about as much sense.

But you know, M. Night's biggest crime isn't that he didn't vet his idea thoroughly. That seems like something the money men in Hollywood should have done for him, if he couldn't do it himself.

M. Night's biggest crime is his complete disregard for the intelligence of the audience. Take The Village, for instance. It's not enough to reveal the 18th Century world in the movie is a 21st Century illusion. You must also explain that William Hurt's character pays to keep the airspace over the Village clear of all airplanes.

Because the same people who made up fictional monsters to keep people from leaving the village couldn't come up with a story to explain those weird moving lights in the sky? Right...

But back to The Happening. It's being marketed as M. Night's first "R-Rated movie," hopefully trying to convince you that it's scarier and more intense than his other films. In some respects, this is true. There are some startlingly effective scenes of bloody violence. The part where people leap off buildings, that's competently handled and definitely chilling, but the biggest scare of the movie is little more than a cheap sound effect.

Many horror movies will throw in a cheap scare, you know, the hero walking through the dark haunted house and then BAM, something jumps out at them. It's not Jason or Freddy or Michael Myers, though. It's just a cat. A cheap scare, but a legitimate one.

But M. Night doesn't even have the sense to throw in a cat. He just wants to scare you with loud, unexpected sound effects that have no correlation to anything you're seeing on screen. There's no art in that. No fun either. (In fact, it kind of pissed me off.)

And I won't even comment on the ominous shots of wind blowing through tall grass and trees. Note to M. Night: You can not, not even with creepy music, moody lighting, and a thousand renderfarms worth of CGI, make wind blowing through grass scary.

M. Night, perhaps anticipating the reaction to his crappy movie, has called "The Happening" a big B-movie. "This is the best B movie you will ever see," is the full quote.

When I heard that, my first thought was "Better than Army of Darkness?"

But beyond that, I don't believe that M. Night set out to make a B movie. I think he set out to make a scary movie that has something important to say. One gets the impression that M. Night is trying to use his horror film to make some kind of environmental statement, but the statement is so ridiculous, so poor in conception and execution, that it's a complete failure.

You know what you call that? No, not a B movie. A pretentious movie.

If anything the last few years have proven about M. Night Shamalyan it's that The Sixth Sense was a fluke.

I Think It Would Be Great If My Last Word Was 'Oops.'

Interesting profile of Don Becker, a one-armed psychotic local comedian/performance artist, in this week's Westword. I never heard of this guy before, and now that he's dead, I feel like I kind of missed something. I read the whole thing and feel wiser because of it, so you should too.

But if you've got better things to do, then just read this poem:
Sometimes Love Is a Class 4 Felony

Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, and I really try
but there are still a few adversaries I would like to sodomize
with a claw hammer, and blind with knitting needles, and castrate them
and force them to eat their own testicles, and put M-80's in their assholes
and have them beg for mercy while I am torturing their loved ones
with a cattle prod.
I would, of course, never do this, and I try not to dwell on these
seemingly antisocial musings
But deep within me lurks a demented brute, so ugly that I can't
believe in a loving God, or personal redemption
Only my ugliness is real.
My damnation is certain.
The feeble urge towards goodness is merely the egotistical fear of my own face.
I learn to pull my own strings,
And smile,
And sympathize,
And comfort,
And console,
Because I'm trying to teach you that God has left us
and all we have is each other,
and maybe love is still possible,
but it would probably be better for both of us
if you don't piss me off.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

La Pequena Hillary Clinton

In case you were wondering, your favorite cross-dressing Chilean midget is mad, mad I tell you, that Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic primary. If you have never heard of the bonafide international Youtube superstar named La Pequena Hillary Clinton, then you're really missing out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Appeasers...

Appeaser alert! Appeaser alert!

And here's another one!

I love this part:
"Obviously in any compromise there are compromises," Rice said during a surprise visit to meet Lebanon's new consensus choice for president.
I think Condi needs to catch up on some sleep.

(PS. I should clarify that I'm satirizing the whole appeaser meme here.)

Myths of McCain: Episode 1

Watching the news this morning, I've heard John McCain and his surrogates (Carly Fiorina, to name one of them) claim several times that "small businesses are the growth engine of this economy."

Seriously? You're telling me that with a straight face? I don't mean to laugh, but that's hilarious!

Here, let me list a few reasons why I think that's a bunch of bullshit: Blockbuster Video, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Appleby's, telecoms, Wall Street banks, et cetera, et cetera.

But don't take my word for it. The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, seems to back me up.
# CW: Small businesses are the chief driver of the U.S. economy.
# Fact: The concept of “small business” as an analytical category is rather useless. It is not small businesses per se that are important for economic growth, but flexible, innovative, risk-taking businesses, which tend to start small. It is the next Apple or Amazon.com, not the next mom-and-pop store, that will create jobs and boost our economy.

Why I'm Voting Republican

This video cracks me up.

It's kind of a cheap shot against Republicans, but it's also startlingly accurate. Especially the "stay in Iraq/Go to Iran" part.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thoughts on Our Next President

I find that my reactions to watching a Barack Obama speech and watching a sporting event are very similar. There's a lot of fist pumping and randomly shouted Yeah!s.

He has the fire of a preacher but without the brimstone. I like it.

Super Chiller

A method to chill those warm beers sitting in your garage in three minutes flat using nothing but science.

My field test confirms that it works.

The comments are funny, too:

* Kirschbaum

No, salt doesn't "react" with water. Odie has the right idea above, salt lowers the freezing point of the water so it can be at ice temperatures without freezing.

* werries

it doesnt "react" technically, but dissolving is endothermic, yes.


* mikeaz

Dissolving is not a chemical change, it is a physical change. It is not endothermic, it only allows the heat to leave the cans and enter the cold water in liquid form faster than it could in it's solid form, ice.
Got that? It's a physical change, not a chemical change.

I Hate Cancer

Saturday morning I found out that a lady that I work with has been diagnosed with kidney cancer. As if that wasn't depressing enough, I read this in Wikipedia:
The classic triad is hematuria (blood in the urine), flank pain and an abdominal mass. This is now known as the 'too late triad' because by the time patients present with symptoms, their disease is often advanced beyond a curative stage.
In this case, I hope Wikipedia is wrong because that's exactly what she's got.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Herb Goes Railing Again

In another thread, Splinkster asked: What's wrong with Republicans? My somewhat lengthy reply can be read here.

One thing I neglected to mention is this annoying tendency to be completely reactionary in the positions they take. I'm thinking specifically about two issues, global warming (or environmentalism in general) and Hurricane Katrina.

If you're a global warming skeptic, hey, that's fine. I am too. It's a scientific fact that planetary climate change predates human beings. You ever heard of the Pleistocene era? The earth's history of climate change has been preserved in the geological record and the story goes WAY back before the first human ever opened her eyes.

But, and I guess this is where I part company with the skeptics, I think that if humans are fucking up the environment, we should stop. If we're dumping toxic chemicals into oceans and rivers, we should stop. If we're creating landfills full of plastics that won't degrade for thousands of years, we should stop. If we're releasing too many fluorocarbons into the atmosphere, we should stop.

This isn't about having the serenity to accept the things we can't change. It's about having the courage to change the things we can. And the Gore-hating deniers don't have the wisdom to tell the difference.

The other reactionary tendency that bothers is the thinly veiled contempt that many wingers have for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

By way of example, I offer this post from TigerHawk, who wrote:
Katrina has become a metaphor for many things beyond natural disaster, including governmental and individual incompetence (depending on your point of view). In Iowa there is a 500 year flood, but the people are not paralyzed, whining, or looting. There will be no massive relief effort from around the world, and nobody will step up to help Iowans except for other Iowans. Yet years from now, there will be no Iowans still in FEMA camps.

The difference is not in the severity of the flood, but in the people who confront the flood.
Yes, I'm not making that up.

Just like that, thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina are written off as whiners and looters who can't take care of themselves. Oh, and Iowans are better.

In the comments, my nom-de-guerre Herb asked about that contempt, and when a commenter responded that "some people deserve contempt," Herb went off.
Yes, some people do deserve contempt...but an entire region? Of your own country??

I do not think things are as simple as that. The victims of Katrina are white and black, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, lazy and hardworking. If you wanted to quantify them with one word, that word should be Americans.

You know who cheers on the deaths of American citizens and the destruction of American cities? Terrorists.

You know who doesn't? Patriotic Americans.

Which one are you?
Strongly worded, I admit, but I have had my fill of the smug dismissal of Katrina victims by partisan wingers who can't see beyond their own ideology.

I find the idea that Katrina victims deserved their fate because they were poor or black or voted Democrat or lived below sea level or because they relied on FEMA or any other reason to be disgusting, immoral, and un-American.

No one deserves to have their lives or livelihoods destroyed by natural disaster. It happens, and when it does, we should let our human decency determine our attitude, not our political affiliation.

The victims of Katrina were our people living in our country. It's ironic and hypocritical that those who endorse an open-ended commitment of blood and treasure to help the people of Iraq are loathe to do anything to help the people of the Gulf States hit by Katrina.

If that doesn't make you question their patriotism, it should make you question their judgment.

Beyond Parody

Maybe it's just me, but when you're reduced to taking an idiom literally, then you really don't have anything and you should probably go find something else to do.

Case in point.

When Barack Obama says, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," don't think he's got his concealed carry permit in his back pocket and a gun in a shoulder holster.

If you clicked the link above you probably saw:
A couple thoughts from McCain HQ on this. First, Barack Obama has a long track record as a proponent of stringent gun-control regulations--to the point that a questionnaire filled out by his staff, and with the candidate's handwriting on it, stated that Obama favored a ban on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of handguns. Can we assume that Senator Obama now opposes efforts to ban the possession of handguns?

Second, would Obama be carrying a concealed weapon to this fight? Will he have a permit?

And finally, we're having second thoughts about our proposed series of town halls.
Seriously? These are the cogent thoughts "McCain HQ" got from Obama's turn of phrase?

If McCain HQ is trying for comedy here, they were successful. I giggled a little when I read that.