Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Pepsi Method

When I usually make a roast in the crock pot, which I like to do from time to time, I put in the roast, some mushrooms, a couple of bouillon cubes, the meat, and a can of Pepsi.

Yes, it's delicious.

This time I decided to switch it up a little. I bought a big bottle of Mexican soda on my last trip to the grocery store --strawberry-- and poured about a half cup of that in instead.

I think I'll stick with the Pepsi. It gives the roast a hint of sweetness and a little tenderness. The strawberry soda serves the same function, but it's more intense.

I still made the foodgasm face when I tasted it, but I prefer the Pepsi method.

Thank You, Conor Friedersdorf!

Here's a guy who "got" Avatar:
With regard to this film, I think their varying takes share a mistaken premise: Avatar strikes them as a simplistic denunciation of capitalism and humankind generally, whereas I see it as a thought-provoking if imperfect exploration of an imagined world that is, more than anything else, different from our own.

If you go into Avatar thinking that everything is symbolic of something else, you're not going to fully experience, or enjoy, the movie. It must be taken on its own terms, not shoe-horned into your own biases and principles.

His headline says it all: "Avatar Offers Us a Unique World Where We Can Reflect on the Inescapable Conflicts Man Always Has And Always Will Face."

And that's why I think Avatar "works." Rather than being a thinly veiled polemic against capitalism, colonialism, or militarism, it's a fantasy that taps into age-old themes to tell an entertaining story.

Besides, if Avatar had any intended deeper meaning, it's to make a lot of money by appealing to as broad an audience as possible.

Friday, January 08, 2010

On Rambo and the Forgotten War Hero

I watched First Blood for the first time in years the other day. It's back when Rambo wasn't so roidy. He had a cool knife, survival skills, and a lethal attack. But he makes a big deal out rats crawling all over him, screaming like a pussy, and then at the end, he's crying and moaning and snot's coming out of his nose.

Not to take anything away from Rambo. Back then, Rambo -despite the girliness with the rats- was as hard as they came. You couldn't mess with Rambo.

Look at him ride that motorcycle. Look at him climb that mountain. Dig how sharp his knife is. It can cut paper!

Does the movie hold up? As an entertaining movie for the ages? Not really. As an interesting document of its time? Then some, and more.

The post-Vietnam malaise of Jimmy Carter's America is on display full throttle. Rambo's kicked out of town, mostly because he has long hair (what?) and is wearing an army jacket with a flag. The flag is explicitly alluded to.

As in, get your army jacket and that flag out of this town.

This whole encounter is what sets Rambo off, but not only is it the first plot point in a line of many, it's the thematic undercurrent that runs through the whole thing. Rambo, scarred by Vietnam, dehumanized by his experiences there, comes home only to be dehumanized again by people in his own country.

A lot of Vietnam vets -or vets, period- feel that way, justly or unjustly. (Rambo, I'd say was in the "just" category.) But it got me thinking.

There's nothing more pathetic than a war hero. Their feats are often things that in any other context would make people puke: killing, mutilating, destroying everything around you. You can't be proud of what you've done without acknowledging that on some level it's evil, all this death and destruction. Your victory is tainted by the guilt and the memories you carry inside you.

You once did unspeakably great things that you can't talk about, shouldn't talk about maybe, and now, you're just another dude in the world. No one wants to know how many enemies you killed. In fact, that whole line of have to change that.

In the civilian world, other people aren't trying to kill you, you can't kill other people, and there are no uniforms to let people know who you are and what you've accomplished. You're just kind of adrift for a while, the forgotten war hero, until you become something else.

Salesman of the month, perhaps. Or like John Rambo, a fugitive from the law.

Sympathy for Balloon Boy's Dad

I kind of feel bad for Richard Heene. He's such a weirdo, but I think he's kind of getting screwed over. He went on Larry King again, where the Balloon Boy sage first started to unravel, and still maintains his innocence. This, after he plead guilty to criminal charges.

Now he's obviously an idiot. The time to maintain your innocence is in court. Don't plea guilty and then go on TV and say you didn't do it. Because when it really mattered, you copped to it. Who am I going to believe? The guy who stands up in court and says he did it? Or the dude on Larry King who says he didn't?

C'mon, Dick. You can do better than that.

As for the criminal charges, the felonies and the huge fines and the jailtime and the years of probation, I think it's too much. Give him the fines and the probation, but a felony? Jailtime? Sure it's only 90 days, but let's put you in jail for 90 days and see how you like it. The prospect of doing 5 days --nonconsecutively even!-- got me to take the bus all year.

Now perhaps this will deter the next reality-show weirdo with a balloon and a big plan to create a media event, but maybe Richard Heene is the only one we've got. And we're going to throw him in jail? Our only balloon-weilding weirdo?

Or maybe it's payback. He threw egg all over a lot of people's faces with his hoax: the authorities, the media, his family, everyone who ever believed in him, himself.

But who did he hurt? What malice did he intend?

The taxpayer, who now has to pay for every "I'll save that child" do-gooder who mobilized to help, and that other dude's field, again, destroyed by the cavalry, prospective heroes of the day.

Cry me a bloody river. Restitution is in order, not jailtime.

Contrast Balloon Boy with Tiger Woods. Different states, different laws, but we all know Tiger Woods wasn't going out for ice cream at two AM and just accidentally hit that tree.

We know his wife found out he was a scumbag, took to his face with a golf club, then chased him out of the house, screaming like a banshee. She didn't break the back window trying to rescue him. She broke the back window trying to beat his brains out.

But what happened there? No false reporting charges. (Tiger would plead not guilty anyway and let the state make their case.) Tiger didn't even have to talk to the State Patrol.

They kept coming, but no, he's sleeping. Can you come back later?

Sure, ma'am. No problem. What time would be good for you?

No jailtime. No felony charges. No huge fines. No years of probation. I mean, in theory, the authorities could have threatened to deport Tiger's wife, like they did with Heene's wife, but no. Private matter.

It's too bad for Heene that he doesn't have Tiger's money. He could have settled with the field-owner and bought the state some new fire trucks. Sure, he'd be out some dough, but he wouldn't be a felon.

But here he is, just another dumb guy with dreams and no money, getting fucked over worse than the rest of us.


You know what would be nice?

If it was spring.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Leave The Lights On

So I have these ideas for writing projects, and one of them involves the construction of a totally green off-the-grid house down in the Four Corners region. So I've been researching stuff like "Build Your Own Underground Home" or "Home Made Power Plant" to get some juicy details to include.

In the article called "Home Made Power Plant," it includes this bit of wisdom:
There is no point going to all the effort of making a wind or solar generator if you are going to leave lights and power points on when the appliances are not being used etc.
But hold the phone.

That's the whole point. If you're creating off-the-grid electricity using wind and solar power, who cares if you leave your lights on?

You're not burning coal and releasing carbons into the atmosphere. You're not taxing the grid and "wasting" energy that could be better used elsewhere. You're not supporting some far-off dictator with an oil derrick up his ass.

You're generating your own energy from a free and abundant resource. Hell, leave the lights on all night.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Divine Intervention

To all those who were wondering, the song from the "contest" is by Slayer. It's called Divine Intervention and it appears on their Divine Intervention record.

To be honest, I didn't think anyone would get it. I just wanted to trick you into listening to Slayer.


PS. I'm donating five dollars to the Paralympics for Michael from I Am Playing Outside. He refused to even listen to the song (smart man) because American money is worthless in Canada.

And five bucks goes to Rock the Vote for Katrocket, who gave it the "old college" but still missed by a mile. Yes, she can rock. Never deny her that, else you'll find yourself staring at the bottom of her boot heel in the moshpit.

PPS. I'm not really going to donate to the Paralympics or Rock The Vote. I'm going to endow that ten bucks to the James Pearce Appreciation Society. Headquarters needs some new furniture.

As Jim Mora once said, "Playoffs?"

All season long I've been wanting the Kansas City Chiefs to score more touchdowns. You see, I love their radio guy, Mitch Holthus, and his trademark way of announcing a touchdown.

"Touchdown!!!! City!"

This is usually followed by the player's name and some commentary. "Touchdown!! City! Dwayne Bowe on the slant!"

My intent at the beginning of the season was to record all of them and compile them in one big sound file, a season's worth of Mitch Holthus touchdown calls in compilation form. (Here's a tiny sample from week 1.) But I didn't make it past week 3.

The truth is the Chiefs sucked this year. They couldn't score. They couldn't win games.

So I gave up. I didn't even want to sit through the highlights (lowlights?).

Today? Today they scored a lot, 44 points, and they won, putting the final nail in the coffin of a Broncos season that has also sucked. Did I watch the highlights?

I don't know, did you put red-hot pokers under your fingernails this morning? Oh, so I guess you're not into torture either...