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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?

Just saw this video on Boing Boing and it further convinced me that the OWS protesters need to hold a serious strategy meeting. Watch the vid first.

You can't tell what proceeded this event in the video, but from the get-go you can see a guy who is clearly being braced by several cops. His response: "I'm not doing anything wrong."

That may be true, bud, but righteousness couldn't save Jesus. It's not going to save you.

Then the cops start choking him. Cue the ineffectual dissents from bystanders. A guy says, "What's the chokehold for?" Answer: Control.

Later, same guy says, "You're choking him," and a woman says, "You're hurting him." Thank you, Captain Obvious. Force is surprisingly effective, innit?

Of course, the guy getting arrested tells the cops "You're an enemy of the state. Fuck you!" Actually, Bob, the cops choking you out? They're tools of the state. At this unfortunate moment, you're the enemy of the state.

Bob is then carted off and sent to jail, while the crowd yells and records the encounter for the eventual upload to Youtube. Not one of them steps in to help Bob. Considering the consequences, I can't really blame them. They would only suffer Bob's fate...or worse.

I just wish they would extend their definition of "peaceful protest" beyond submitting to authority. Gandhi didn't do that. Martin Luther King didn't do that. One can be peaceful and still fight back.

So fight back!

Less Activists, More Action

I went to lunch downtown with my Mom today and ran smack dab into the Occupy Wall Street protestors marching down the 16th Street Mall. On approach, we saw riot squads geared up on both 15th and 17th, but they didn't move in.

By sheer coincidence, we happened to be on the same block as the new H&M store that opened up, the first one ever in town. There was a line around the corner and they were letting people in like a club, really milking the pent-up demand.

And then here comes Occupy Wall Street, holding signs, shouting slogans, the guys with megaphones yelling at the people in line. At one point the crowd started chanting about child slaves. It was quite the spectacle.

And after having witnessed it, I wish I could say I support the movement. But I don't.

Oh, I support their goals if it means addressing income inequality and the many ways corporations fuck us over, but I can't condone the methods. Some of the protesters were harassing the girls in line for H&M and I felt like telling those guys to buzz off, say, "Look, dude, they just want to buy cute clothes. Leave them alone."

One of the girls threw it right back. "Where'd you get your clothes?" she asked one of the more obnoxious ones, and c'mon, we know the answer to that one. He got his clothes from the same place we all get our clothes: some Asian country.

And this is why I can't really get behind OWS. The ire is all over the place. They're mad at the government, at corporations, at the cops, all for good reasons, but then they're also bitching out teen girls who are only guilty of a a Saturday afternoon shopping trip. How is that productive?

I'm staring to wonder how effective non-violent protests like this can be in the 21st Century. The authorities aren't scared, I can tell you that. If there had been any kind of confrontation, the protesters would have been crushed. I saw bandanas and Guy Fawkes masks on the protesters. Body armor, helmets, and weapons on the riot squads. Guess who showed up with winning a fight on their minds.

This is what the protesters thought they were doing: registering their disapproval, taking a stand, raising awareness.

This is what they were actually doing: They were being herded like sheep down the Mall until they could be set out to pasture at Civic Center Park. Let me repeat the point for emphasis: Herded like fucking sheep.

Now I'm not saying they should be more violent, but they should be less docile. And by "less docile" I don't mean "more obnoxious." I mean, think strategically. Take actions with a desired result in mind. If the desired result is to feel good about yourself for doing essentially nothing, then by all means...follow the shepherds with the rest of the herd.

If the desired result is to change the world, well, that's hard work and it will take time. You can't do the work and you won't have the time if you're too busy waving signs and marching.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day Shoutout

Speaking of self-sacrifice...

Suck it, Objectivists.

Atlas Smugged

Ha! This is funny:
The company behind the film Atlas Shrugged Part 1 is replacing 100,000 title sheets from the film's newly released DVD and Blue Ray versions because the copy writer incorrectly described the late Ayn Rand's 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, as a story of "self-sacrifice."
Ayn Rand famously believed that self-sacrifice is a moral failing and that self-interest is the grease that lubricates the world. Oh, sorry. Rational self-interest.

Point to an example of raging self-interest that's not so great --say Moamar Gaddafi or Bernie Madoff-- and the average Randian will say, "Well, that's not rational." Of course it's not.

Neither is having children, and yet people have kids all the time.

Of course, I once knew a raging Objectivist who argued that having children was a self-interested activity. "You're spreading your genes," he said. Yes, that's true, but I don't see how that's exactly self interested.

After all, my genes are not my "self." They are, in a very literal way, a record of all the other "selves" that proceeded me. You want to get real technical about it, there's very little of "me" in my genetic code and spreading my genes around doesn't do me any favors. Oh, great...

Another mouth to feed. A separate, individual mouth that (oh shit, irrational lizard brain kicking in) that I might think more important than my own.

Self-sacrifice isn't a moral failing. It's the strength of our species. It's the strength of any species.

The Power of the Drums

It's taken me several years to realize that the reason I love heavy metal is the drumming. Vocally, metal leaves a lot to be desired. And while I do like guitar riffs and muddy bass lines, the truth is that I love the pounding, explosive quality of metal drumming. Love it.

And so it is that I must give a huge shout-out to Mastodon's Brann Dailor. I haven't been able to put their new record down, it's that good. If you're looking for hit singles, yeah...look elsewhere. But if you're looking for something that sounds like a machine gun shooting up a metal factory, you found it.

I've had this little bit of vocal swimming in my head for days. The lyric isn't so original; you've heard it before:
Heavy weighs the crown, low hangs the head who wears it.
But listen to those drums. It is a full-on furious assault of some awesome-ass drumming.

Just face it. His hands are moving faster than your brain can process it.

Pointless

I don't see the point to this story. We all know Brett Ratner is a douchebag with a big mouth. He also happens to be a spectacularly talentless director.

Quentin Tarrantino, on the other hand, may be a douchebag with a big mouth...but he has actually made a few good films.

And if you've ever seen one of his movies, you will not be surprised that he once used the word "faggot" in front of polite company. This is, after all, the same guy who cast himself in Pulp Fiction as a guy who rants about how his house should not be used for "dead nigger storage."

He said faggot too? OMG.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Last Circus

I watched The Last Circus Sad Trumpet Ballad last night, the Spanish movie I heard about in June, and I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

It was a visually stunning film but like most films, there's a whole cultural context it takes place in, and in this case, I don't know enough about Franco's Spain to truly "get it." All I had were the images, the characters, the story, but the images are dark, the characters nearly inscrutable, and the story is unevenly paced. I kept seeing glimpses of things that would probably resonate with meaning if it weren't for my own damn ignorance about the subject matter, but alas I didn't "get it."

Never Again

Today's my birthday and while I resolved some years ago never to work on my birthday, I violated that principle today and worked a half day. Last time I'll do that...

I spent 15 minutes trying to get this guy to plug his shit into a hot power outlet and the whole time I'm thinking, why am I doing this on my birthday? Oh, that's right. It's the whole work ethic thing. Damn work ethic...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Don't Be a Freakshow

Check out this pic of a fat guy shaving.
Yes, that's Chaz Bono and I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in her...I mean, him.

I think at heart there's a semi-benign motive behind this photo. It's meant to be humanizing, and it is in its own way. But behind all those good intentions is this strange freakshow quality that I'm not sure I'm fully support.

Would Chastity Bono have been invited to be on Dancing With the Stars if she he hadn't begun the whole female-to-male transition thing? Doubt it.

Would this photo be published? Again, doubt it.

I could show you a picture of me shirtless and shaving and it wouldn't humanize me in the slightest. It would just be a picture of a dude shaving: mundane, boring, the kind of thing that happens in bathrooms on a daily basis for every cleanshaven male on the planet.

Add the breast-removal scars and the hormone-induced stubble, though, and you're getting pretty close to PT Barnum territory...

Gaylord

The city of Aurora is the asshole of this state. By that, I mean it smells like shit and looks like a wound. Since I moved here, there hasn't been a day that I haven't regretted it. You go anywhere in the Denver-Metro area and say the word "Aurora," you will be met with a crinkled nose and a frown as if someone just farted.

That's because Aurora is the asshole of this state...but I repeat myself.

If you or I wanted to build a hotel, or even a house, do you think the city government is going to give you money to do it? Do you think they'll declare vacant land "blighted" so they can hand it over to you at a discount?

Hell no. Not even grudgingly.

But if you're a big entertainment company that owns hotels and TV stations, they will bend over backwards to "hook a brotha up." And hey, I get it. Shopping around for the most desperate community with the most generous tax breaks is a proven recipe for success. Just say you're going to create some jobs and watch the gubmint money roll in.

And that shit is starting to bug me. Yes, I too confess to getting stars in my eyes when we're talking about creating new jobs, but it must be remembered that creating "new" jobs doesn't mean creating new positions. IT administrator? That's a "new" job, considering that 50 years ago there was no such thing. A hotel maid? That's just a new position.

So I'm glad that Denver is doing their best to break up Gaylord's rent-seeking "entrepreneurship." These corporations need to know. You want to be a capitalist, be a fucking capitalist. Borrow your funding from investors. Use your own revenues. Pay market rates. If the numbers don't work, the numbers don't work.

Just stop trying to rip us all off.

Asking taxpayers to contribute $300 million to a private company so they can build their hotel? That's ripping us off. Stop it.

No one in this town is going to even stay at your crappy hotel. So why you want us to pay for it? Pay for it your own damn self.

Monday, November 07, 2011

American Horror Story

Speaking of Dracula, if you've been watching the FX series American Horror Story (it's pretty good, so you should be) you might have noticed a familiar musical cue...

Courtesy of Wojciech Kilar and his score for Coppolla's film:

I recognized it immediately because, well, I love that score.

Original Notes for Dracula

For today's glimpse into the writing process, I give you some of Bram Stoker's initial notes for his novel Dracula.
What's interesting about this document is how Stoker's ideas evolved. Here he has Dr. Seward as Lucy Westenra's fiance, and while Dr. Seward is one of her suitors in the book, Lucy is actually engaged to Arthur Holmwood (who is missing from the list entirely).

Renfield is there, identified only as "Mad Patient."

Count Dracula's original name was "Count Wamphyr." (Imagine if that one stuck!)

Also interesting is that it seems that the character of Van Helsing is a composite of some of these characters, my guess would be "A German Professor - Max Windsfoeffel" and "A Psychical Research Agent - Alfred Singleton." The "Texan" is not "Brutus Maris," but Quincey P. Morris. And am I to believe that Arthur Holmwood (who in the course of the story is declared a British Lord) started out as a painter named Francis?