Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Happy New Year, all.

And while I didn't hate Return of the King as much as a friend of mine thought I did, I'm making an official policy statement right here and now: the next person who tells me they cried at the end gets a boot to the head.

(And this, from someone who started tearing up during 8 Simple Rules About Dating My Daughters the other night...)

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Belated Happy Holidays to all. (Still New Years to come, so it's not totally late.) Don't feel like writing much. Bitching about politics gives me a headache, TV's all in reruns (although I have discovered the joys of Degrassi: The Next Generation on Noggin; when are they putting all the original stuff out on DVD instead of VHS?), so all I can really talk about are movies. Saw the new Peter Pan movie on Christmas, since Paycheck was sold out. I had wanted to see Pan on the big screen, since the commercials made the effects/cinematography look very Brian Froud, and it didn't disappoint. Loads of fun.

Can't say I had nearly as much fun with Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, which I also saw on opening day. Clearly, I wasn't in the mood to see a three-hour, humorless fantasy epic that day, because an hour into it, I wanted to hit pause and go get something to eat. But, since I was seeing it in the theater, that wasn't an option, so I sat through epic CGI battle after epic CGI battle, waiting for someone to make a joke that didn't sound like they were reading it off some translated stone tablet, and hoping that, at some point, the hobbits would quit whining and crying. I really liked the first two movies, and I'm pretty sure this one was good, too. But I completely failed to connect with it when I went to see it, and while I'm willing to concede that that's partly my fault... well, I'm not taking all the blame, is what I'm saying.

Still, there's still Paycheck for me to look forward to, I still kind of want to see Haunted Mansion, though it's not a burning desire, and I want to see Big Fish, though I'm trying to read the book first. And, in February, there's Kill Bill Volume 2 to look forward to, and in April there's Hellboy... And next fall, I can get Return of the King on DVD and watch it in manageable chunks, and probably enjoy it a great deal more that way.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Yahoo! News - Paris Hilton Beats Bush in TV Ratings

Me, I was watching Navy NCIS. But I finally saw a couple of episodes of The Simple Life last night, and if American TV viewers had to choose between shows about rich, clueless people with complete and utter contempt for the ordinary folks around them... well, at least the Paris Hilton thing is more up-front about it.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Denny's Menu

Clearing out a bunch of old email, I realized I had never gone to this site, which a friend had sent me. Check out the one called "Kid's Book."

Friday, December 12, 2003

Peter David - Writer Of Stuff: "THE RETURN OF SPYBOY
For you Spyboy fans, Dark Horse has scheduled a new four-issue 'Spyboy' series for later next year, which I'm in the process of writing. Since I tend to treat every Spyboy outing as if it's the last one (because whoever knows anymore?), this time we're going all out. Time has passed, and this time Alex Fleming (aka Spyboy) will be going to his senior prom, graduating high school, learn the truth behind the identity of his mom, and go head to head with his newest and ultimate opponent: Spyguy.
PAD "

I like Spyboy, so... cool.
The Story of John Titor: "A person going by the name of John Titor and claiming to be a soldier on a mission from 2036 presented a considerable amount of information on the Web beginning around November 2000 about his mission and time travel machine, his perspective on our society, how our society is going wrong, and how society as we know it will end in a very short but massive intercontinental nuclear war in 2015. He's gone now, back to 2036 he said he was going in his last posting on March 24, 2001, and the threads he left across the Web are slowly evaporating. "

Well this is just... odd. And I sort of wish I'd heard about it before now, because it might have been fun to watch unfold.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

BBC - Cult - Doctor Who - Scream of the Shalka

Just the usual reminder that the new episode--Episode Five--is now online. Just one more to go...

Friday, December 05, 2003

Here's something for fun: go to Google, type in the words "Miserable Failure," hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, and enjoy the results.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

BBC - Cult - Doctor Who - Scream of the Shalka

Just a reminder that the fourth episode is now online...
Misleader.org: Daily Mislead: "More Photographic Dishonesty from President Bush


In the most famous picture from his trip to Baghdad, President Bush had himself artfully photographed to look like he was serving turkey to the troops.1 The image was emblazoned on front pages throughout the country - and now appears to be an entirely false depiction.

According to the Washington Post, Bush was actually holding 'a decoration, not a serving plate.'2 In other words, he was holding a prop, not real food, and thus only pretending for the cameras to be serving up the holiday meal. "

How completely sad and pathetic is this?

Monday, December 01, 2003

Couldn't get to sleep again last night, so I was flipping channels after The Shield. Starz was just beginning to show Punch-Drunk Love, a movie I had wanted to see since it came out in theaters, but quite got around to seeing. (Adam Sandler is hit-or-miss with me, but I've enjoyed all of Paul Thomas Anderson's movies.) So, not wanting to let an opportunity pass, I settled in and kept watching. All I can say is: Sandler is definitely redeemed after the mess that was Eight Crazy Nights, and I can see why his fans stayed away in droves. (Calling this an Adam Sandler movie is like calling Sense & Sensibility an episode of the Star Wars Trilogy.)

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Yahoo! News - Woman Knocked Unconscious While Shopping: "ORANGE CITY, Fla. - A mob of shoppers rushing for a sale on DVD players trampled the first woman in line and knocked her unconscious as they scrambled for the shelves at a Wal-Mart Supercenter. "

Can I just say, once again, how embarrassed I am for America?

Friday, November 28, 2003

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. Me, I had dinner with friends, which was nice. Before that, though, I watched the Adam Sandler cartoon Eight Crazy Nights, and I'm not recommending it to anyone. Now, I'm not the biggest Adam Sandler fan in the world, but I usually get a laugh or two out of most of his movies. This one... Got it for free from the library, and I still feel like someone owes me something.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Adding to the revivals mentioned last night: the comics company 88 MPH Studios is bringing back, in comic book form, two more childhood favorite movies: Tron and Ghostbusters...
BBC - Cult - Doctor Who - Scream of the Shalka

Just a reminder that the third episode is available.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

It's apparently Nostalgia Month for me. DC Comics is putting out ElfQuest comics again (just reprints for now, but I don't have them any more, and some of this stuff I never read, and there's new stuff coming...). There's a new Sgt Rock graphic novel just out from DC/Vertigo, and it's drawn by Joe Kubert, written by Brian Azarello, and it's really, really good. Dark Horse Comics is starting a new Conan series, and it looks like it'll be pretty good, too. The BBC is bringing back both Doctor Who and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And the SciFi channel is bringing back Battlestar: Galactica, a show I was a huge fan of as a kid. Tonight, I caught the "making-of" special on SciFi, to get a taste of what the upcoming (December 8) miniseries would be like.

Apparently--and I already knew this--the new show is a complete reimagining of the concept, starting from scratch instead of continuing where the original left off some twenty-plus years off. Judging from what I've seen online and comments from the show, this has really upset about six people. Me, I'm okay with the changes. When I was a kid, buzzing with excitement from Star Wars and looking for anything similar, the original Battlestar: Galactica was the coolest thing. I've seen reruns of the show more recently, and while I guess I can see where my adolescent mind would have been excited back in the late 1970s, when there was nothing else like it, the show just doesn't seem to have aged well. (Not compared to the timeless qualities of, say, good Doctor Who...) So something that slavishly duplicates the original show wouldn't appeal to me, because the original no longer does. No, I want something that'll excite the mid-thirties me the way the original did the ten-year old me, and it's quite possible this new version might. (Or, at least, it'll be a couple of hours of fun TV, with cool spaceships flying around blowing stuff up and crap like that. And they're continuing the Battlestar: Galactica tradition of Hot Chicks in Space, so I'm all okay with that.)
Thanksgiving in a bottle: Turkey and Gravy soda: "A new Turkey and Gravy Soda tastes, well, pretty much like you would imagine. But that's not stopping people from buying it.
Even the producers of the Thanksgiving-themed beverage at Jones Soda Co. were surprised by the demand. They sold out all 6,000 bottles online within about two hours last week. "

Okay, I'll try just about anything, but...

Gross!
Tim Truman, of Odin the Wanderer, Interview

Always nice to hear that artists I like are working on new stuff...

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The TV Drones On -- In a Library, No Less (washingtonpost.com): "The TV Drones On -- In a Library, No Less

By Bob Levey
Thursday, November 13, 2003; Page C11
I hope the hinges on your mouth are in good shape, because your jaw is about to drop open -- wide.


The scene was a public library branch in Silver Spring. As Cathy B. Johnson entered, she was 'astounded' to see a television set in the main lobby. It was muted, but it was very definitely on, and it was spewing pictures as only a TV set can.
Cathy saw red. She marched over to a librarian and asked why library patrons -- and young patrons in particular -- 'couldn't have one place in the world where they were not bombarded by TV.'
According to Cathy, the librarian pointed out that the set was aimed at a waiting area, where people sit until they get a crack at a public computer terminal.
The TV was on, Cathy says the librarian told her, so that those lying in wait 'would have something to do.'
Open mouth.
Gape in astonishment.
As Cathy promptly said to the librarian: 'They couldn't read a book?'
Sorry, your gaping isn't done.
Cathy quotes the librarian as replying: 'Internet users don't like to read.' "

So many possible things to say... I want to believe that nobody in a library would be so stupid and tactless as to say something like that to a patron, but know in my heart it's possible. And who says it was a librarian that this Cathy woman spoke to, anyway? Not everyone who works for a library has their library degree, you know? (I worked hard for mine; let's not just let any circulation assistant claim the same status...) But finally, once again, this is the sort of article written by rich white folks for rich white folks who have computers and the Internet at home, who have probably not set foot in a public library for the last ten to fifteen years, and don't realize what they've become. We aren't the quiet places for books and research and nothing else any more. We're Blockbuster Video for people without money and internet cafes for people who don't shower. You don't like a TV set in the library for people waiting to use the computers? The solution isn't writing a newspaper column bemoaning the fact; the solution is writing a newspaper column urging the rich white voters in your comunities to vote to support their libraries, so they can build more computer centers and buy more computers, so people don't have to wait, and they don't have to find something to do while they're waiting like watch TV. Pay attention and use the goddamn brain in your head, or shut up and go away.

Jeez.
Microsoft fires worker over weblog: "Michael Hanscom began keeping an online journal, commonly known as a weblog, several years ago. He started his job as a contract worker in Microsoft's print shop last year. Last week, he mixed the two.
This week, he's looking for a new job, after becoming an unwilling case study in the fine line walked by corporate employees who write about work in their personal weblogs."

And this would be why I don't usually talk about work (or my personal life) here...

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Misleader.org: Daily Mislead: "Bush Drops Push for Energy Bill Provision That Would Help Solve Long-Term Reliability Issues


President Bush praised Congress for passing his long-sought energy legislation, saying, 'America will be safer and stronger with a national energy policy that will help keep the lights on, the furnaces lit, and the factories running.'1 But the energy legislation now moving toward final passage is viewed by many experts as 'minuscule compared to what needs to be done to have any impact.'2 "

Monday, November 17, 2003

Yahoo! News - ABC's 'Sisco' Sits as 'Mole' Digs In: "LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - ABC is doing the midseason shuffle, putting struggling freshman drama 'Karen Sisco' on hiatus to make room for 'Celebrity Mole Yucatan' and 'Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital.' "

Okay, the news of WB canceling Tarzan didn't break my heart, but this is disappointing... but not unexpected. (And the Stephen King thing will probably be worth checking out, anyway. But I'd rather they kept Karen Sisco on the air.)
Sun-Sentinel: Features: "Drunken sailor may have gone a little overboard"

A follow-up to the guy selling his "ex-wife's" beanie babies on eBay... (see the October 30 entry for that link, which may be dead by now)
THE MEATRIX

Thursday, November 13, 2003

BBC - Cult - Doctor Who - Scream of the Shalka

Okay, it's not going to be back on TV for another year at least, but it's nice to see some sort of new broadcast Doctor Who--not a novel, not an adventure on CD--for the 40th anniversary. And that it stars Richard E. Grant is icing on the cake. And that the first episode is pretty good is even better.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

UPN

Go here to fill out a survey for a free DVD of episodes of the UPN series Jake 2.0. I saw the first episode of the show when it aired, and it was just okay. I hear it's gotten better, but it's on when I'm at work, and when I'm taping Angel. All things being equal, I'd rather see Angel, since I love it so, and I've been watching it for the last four years. Still, free DVD...
reviewjournal.com -- News: INTERNET DIARIES: School discipline questioned: "'Kill Alaina!'
The throwaway comment about an irritating friend is one that former Valley High School senior Wesley Juhl wishes he had never recorded in his blog, a personal Web site he used to chronicle daily life.
At the end of September, a month after he first posted it on his personal computer while in the privacy of his home, Juhl found himself sitting in the dean's office facing disciplinary action.
That journal statement, and another that included a vulgar comment about a teacher, earned Juhl an in-school suspension and a required parent conference. The disciplinary action also brought to light the fact that Juhl did not have a current zone variance to attend Valley. As a result, Juhl was sent to Chaparral High School, which is the school zone he resides in.
Juhl, 18, is still wondering what authority allowed the Clark County School District to punish him. His journal was not a school assignment and was not posted using a school computer or a school message board. "

I heard about this on the radio last week. On the one hand, according to one of his fellow students who called in, he was a stuck-up bullying little poop, and that's why his fellow students turned him in to the administration. On the other hand... well, there doesn't seem to be another hand, really. He's not being punished for what he wrote, he's being sent to the school he's supposed to go to. Is it a free speech issue? Maybe. As someone who writes fairly regularly in his own blog, often critical of a government that could very easily be reading those selfsame entries, I'm interested in news about people receiving negative consequences for what they write in their blogs.

Ultimately, though, let's be real: post-Columbine or not, expectation of anonymity or not, joking or not, if you're stupid enough to make something that sounds like a death threat against someone in a forum as private as the freaking Internet, you're a complete moron, and you pretty much deserve whatever happens to you. And if you go around whining about it, then you're just a baby.
I was a little bored yesterday...

Secretary
You must like to spank or be spanked, because your
romance is remeniscent of Secretary. A truly
modern love story, it shows that you don't need
to be conventional to be normal. You're
probably the type that owns a whole lot more
leather than what's upholstering your car or
sofa. Yeah, you know what I mean.


What Romance Movie Best Represents Your Love Life?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, November 09, 2003

TheStar.com - Denmark to recognize worshippers of Norse gods: "'To me, it would be wrong if the indigenous religion of this country wasn't recognized,' Tove Fergo, the minister for ecclesiastic affairs and a Lutheran priest, said this week."

I smell an official US Government-sponsored "Protection from Pagans" week coming up.

Friday, November 07, 2003

ComiX-Fan Forums - COMIX-FAN NEWS BRIEFS - NOVEMBER 2, 2003: "NEWSFLASH! The November 2003 issue of Maxim magazine featured a tidbit that will interest Masters of The Universe fans. According to the mag, Daredevil star Jennifer Garner is apparently up for the plum role of She-Ra, Princess of Power, in a planned live-action Masters of The Universe movie."

See, this is sort of a litmus test for how big a Jennifer Garner fanatic I am, and I think it proves I'm not a complete lost cause. Because, much as I love her, nothing could get me to see a Masters of the Universe movie.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

BBC - Cult - New radio Hitch-Hiker's - News story: "Production is under way on the Tertiary Phase of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with episodes due to begin airing on Radio 4 in spring 2004. "

And another childhood favorite returns...

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

New reality TV show asks: `Can YOU be a Pornstar?'

Ah, my tax dollars effectively at work...
Protection From Pornography Week, 2003: "NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 26 through November 1, 2003, as Protection From Pornography Week. I call upon public officials, law enforcement officers, parents, and all the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs and activities. "

Now THIS really reflects an appropriate use of my tax dollars...

Monday, November 03, 2003

We hear the playback and it seems so long ago

This quiz, sent to me by my pal Jen...
Yahoo! News - 'Judging Amy' Reaches 100th Episode with Lively Style

Not a dark and edgy show, and therefore not likely to get the acclaim and attention of something like the Shield or Nip/Tuck, but damn it, I like it, and I'm glad to see it getting some ink. Or pixel, or whatever.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Here we are, a few weeks into the new fall TV season, and these are the new shows that I'm still watching:

Carnivale on HBO, Sundays at 9. Thanks to there just being too much stuff to watch on Sundays and my working twelve hours on Mondays, I'm a couple of episodes behind on this one, but I love what I've seen so far. What I love best, in addition to it being well written, well acted, and beautifully shot, is that there's nothing else like it on TV. As good as HBO's other shows are, you can look at The Sopranos and see its roots as a soap opera, or The Wire as a cop show. But how many other shows are there about the supernatural battle between good and evil played out against the backdrop of a small-time Depression-era freak show?

Tarzan on WB, Sundays at 9 as well. It's an entertaining show. I like the stories, I like the cast, I like the action and the adventures and all that. But it's not really Tarzan, is it? I mean, the focus of the Tarzan novels wasn't the developing romance between him and Jane, and it wasn't his adventures in New York... Let's face it, this is a pretty radical reimagining. Much more so than Smallville, even. But it's not a bad show to watch, so I don't mind watching it.

Navy NCIS on CBS, Tuesdays at 8 is a show I haven't wholeheartedly embraced. It's a spin-off of JAG, which I'm probably not supposed to admit to watching and liking, but I do. So there. Navy NCIS is very much the JAG version of CSI and CSI: Miami, but set against a military background. Like the CSI shows, the main character, played here by Mark Harmon, is a quirky, grouchy, antisocial, anti-authority maverick. Harmon is a good enough actor to carry it off, but at times it feels like he's being shoehorned into the mold of the sorts of characters played by William Petersen and David Caruso in the CSI shows, and his own natural charm is being stiffled. He's assisted by a couple of younger investigators: an attractive, competent former Secret Service agent played by Sasha Alexander, who makes a decent foil for Harmon, and a young turk played by former Dark Angel leading man Michael Weatherly. Weatherly's character, a cocky former Baltimore homicide detective with a voracious sexual appetite, is played a little too broadly, and could stand to be toned down a little. Also in the regular cast are two oddball forensic specialists: a pathologist played by TV great David McCallum, and a TV-goth chick lab tech played by Pauley Perrette. I like the show, but I want to like it better. The problem so far is that the crimes haven't had the same strong ties to the military that make JAG interesting to me, and the characters haven't been fine-tuned enough yet. On the other hand, it's a strong cast. And these are the folks who produce JAG, a show which went through four leading ladies before settling on the cast and format that won me over. So here's hoping they'll keep working on this one until it's just right.

Karen Sisco on ABC, Wednesdays at 10. Whenever I talk about what I'm watching on TV, I try to make it clear that it's just my opinion. People should watch whatever they want to watch, and I'm okay with that. We don't all have to agree, because it's all good, and it's all crap. However...

If you're not watching Karen Sisco, you're just stupid.

Yeah, I know it's on at the same time as Law & Order. Law & Order is always on. It's on like every other hour on TNT, and you know the formula. So watch Law & Order some other time, and watch Karen Sisco on Wednesdays. Because Karen Sisco is just cool. It's witty, it's sexy, it's hip. It's got warmth and humor and humanity and none of the self-importance or arty pretention of a CSI or Sopranos or Six Feet Under. It's just a cool, great, wonderful show about a tough female US marshall, and I love it.

Joan of Arcadia on CBS, Fridays at 8, is the sort of show that I should probably hate. It's heartwarming, it's about a family, teenage girl talks to God... but like I mentioned a few weeks ago, it manages to not be stupid. It manages to not be completely cloying and heavy-handed and, well, all Touched By an Angel, you know? It's actually pretty clever, and down to earth, and very watchable. And Mary Steenburgen plays the mom, and she's just great. And Amber Tamblyn, who plays Joan, seems like a real teenager. And I don't even mind that Jason Ritter, who plays the oldest son in the family, reminds me way too much of Jim Carrey. Even the God stuff isn't too intrusive, because they manage to keep God from being too religious.

So those are the new shows I'm watching this season. For the record, those go into the mix with these other shows:

Sunday:
The Office
American Dreams
Alias

Monday:
Third Watch

Tuesday:
Gilmore Girls
NYPD Blue
Judging Amy

Wednesday:
Smallville
Enterprise
Angel

Thursday:
CSI
What I Like About You (Don't judge me)
Without a Trace

Friday:
JAG

Saturday:
1-800-Missing.
eBay item 3146042998 (Ends Sep-22-03 08:37:31 PDT) - Collection of 26 Beanie Babies from Ex-Wife

Not my auction, not even something I was shopping for, but read through all the sellers' comments and pity this man.
Yahoo! News - ABC Picks Up New Comedies, 'Sisco' Fate Unclear: "LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - ABC has ordered full seasons for all its comedies which debuted this fall and two of the new dramas, the network said on Thursday, in an early vote of confidence for its new slate of shows.

The future of revamped police procedural 'LA Dragnet' and critically acclaimed, quirky crime drama 'Karen Sisco' are still up in the air, although the network has ordered four more scripts for 'Sisco,' said Kevin Brockman, spokesman for the network owned by Walt Disney Co ."

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Misleader.org: Daily Mislead: "SPECIAL AFTERNOON MIS-LEAD: Additional Money for Iraq Not Needed Until Spring, According to New Study


As Congress is preparing to vote on the administration's emergency $87 billion request, a new study is challenging the immediate need for the funding.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld asserted two weeks ago that 'the funds the president requested are vital to our success in the global war on terror and to our ability to finish the job in Iraq.'1 But that position is being undermined by a Congressional Research Service (CRS) study that has found that Iraq military operations have sufficient funds until May of next year. "

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Yahoo! News - Iraq War Swells Al Qaeda's Ranks, Report Says: "LONDON (Reuters) - War in Iraq (news - web sites) has swollen the ranks of al Qaeda and galvanized the Islamic militant group's will, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Wednesday in its annual report.

Reuters Photo


The 2003-2004 edition of the British-based think-tank's annual bible for defense analysts, The Military Balance, said Washington's assertions after the Iraq conflict that it had turned the corner in the war on terror were 'over-confident.' "

Monday, October 13, 2003

Misleader.org: Daily Mislead: "Bush Tried to Take Funds from Military School Kids to Pay for Iraqi-Afghan Policies


President Bush attempted to slash money from the program that pays to educate the children of military men and women even while saying, 'Our men and women in uniform give America their best and we owe them our support.'1

At the same time the President lauded the 'great courage'2 of the soldiers he sent to Iraq, he requested major cuts in the Impact Aid3 program that provides funds for the schooling of the 900,0004 children of military families. Bush tried to take $172 million from Impact Aid5 and shortchange its funding by $583 million under the No Child Left Behind Act. The cutbacks would have directly affected children of troops currently deployed in Iraq.6

The cutbacks were part of Bush's budgetary effort to find $87 billion for his policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, which include $40 million for school programs to benefit Iraqi children.7

Congress defied the President on his cutbacks, however. The House added $223 million to Impact Aid, and the Senate slightly less. Apparently, Bush will accept the funding rather than resort to a veto. "

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Yahoo! News - NBC Shuffles Friday Lineup in TV Season's 2nd Week

With typical irony, the first "show I like" casualty of the new fall season is a show from last fall: NBC's Boomtown, the critically acclaimed but low-rated cop show. Figures.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Planning on writing something about the new fall TV shows sometime soon. In the meantime, one of my new favorites is Joan of Arcadia, which manages to prove that Touched by an Angel didn't have to be the heavy-handed, cloying, overly-sentimental thing that it was...

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Saturday, September 20, 2003

I move into the house next Friday, and still can't focus on much else. But I got this in my email tonight from Warren Ellis's mailing list, and liked it a bunch, so I'm going to post it here, completely without his permission.
--
You want to talk politics? Do we have to? I want to steal
more of my asshole ex-boyfriend's stuff.

Listen, if voting could change anything, it'd be illegal. Doesn't
matter who you vote for, the Government will get in again, you know
what I mean?

Am i an anarchist? What's the point? Anarchists are people who don't
get it. They form organisations. Anarchist organisations. I mean, why
even let those people into the room? Libertarian? Get away from me.
Libertarians are fat white guys who don't want to pay taxes but who
expect highways for their fatass SUVs to like magically appear
nonetheless.

You know why we're really scaring people, man?

I haven't eaten in a year.

I haven't even taken a shit in six months.

And I've been generating enough electricity to run this place since August.

The rules don't apply to me any more.

Monday, September 15, 2003

So tomorrow morning, I sign the papers for the house. So I can't really think of much else right now. However, this has been sitting in my inbox for a little over a week, and I've been meaning to post it here...

MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT:

*I attacked and took over two countries.

*I spent the U.S. surplus and bankrupted the Treasury.

*I shattered the record for biggest annual deficit in history.

*I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

*I set all-time record for biggest drop in the history of the stock market.

*I am the first president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.

*I am the first president in US history to enter office with a criminal record.

*In my first year in office I set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president in US history. After taking the
entire month of August off for vacation, I presided over the worst security failure in US history.

*I set the record for most campaign fundraising trips by any president in US history.

*In my first two years in office I allowed over 2 million Americans to lose their jobs.

*I cut unemployment benefits for more out-of-work Americans than any other president in US history.

*I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

*I appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in US history.

*I set the record for the fewest press conferences of any president since the advent of TV.

*I signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any other president in US history.

*I presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed.

*I presided over the highest gasoline prices in US history and refused to use the national reserves as past presidents have.

*I cut healthcare benefits for war veterans.

*I set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest me (15 million people),
shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind

*I dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.

*I've made my presidency the most secretive and unaccountable of any in US history.

*Members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in US history. (The 'poorest' multimillionaire, Condoleeza Rice,
has a Chevron oil tanker named after her).

*I am the first president in US history to have all 50 states of the Union simultaneously go bankrupt.

*I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud in any market in any country in the history of the world.

*I am the first president in US history to order a US attack and military occupation of a sovereign nation, and I did so against
the will of the United Nations and the world community.

*I have created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States.

*I set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any other president in US history.

*I am the first president in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from the Human Rights Commission.

*I am the first president in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from the Elections Monitoring Board.

*I removed more checks and balances, and have the least amount of congressional oversight than any presidential
administration in US history.

*I rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant.

*I withdrew from the World Court of Law.

*I refused to allow inspectors access to US prisoners of war and by default no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions.

*I am the first president in US history to refuse United Nations election inspectors access during the 2002 US elections.

*I am the all-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations. The biggest lifetime contributor to my
campaign, who is also one of my best friends, presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history
(Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).

*I spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US history.

*I am the first president to run and hide when the US came under attack (and then lied, saying the enemy had the code to Air
Force One)

*I am the first US president to establish a secret shadow government.

*I took the world's sympathy for the US after 911, and in less than a year made the US the most resented country in the world
(possibly the biggest diplomatic failure in US and world history).

*I am the first US president in history to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view my presidency as the biggest
threat to world peace and stability.

*I am the first US president in history to have the people of South Korea more threatened by the US than by their immediate
neighbor, North Korea.

*I changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

*I set the all-time record for number of administration appointees who violated US law by not selling their huge investments in
corporations bidding for government contracts.

*I have removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in US history.

*In a little over two years I have created the most divided country in decades, possibly the most divided that the US has been
since the civil war.

*I entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years turned every single economic category
heading straight down.

RECORDS AND REFERENCES:

*I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving record has been erased and is not available).

*I was AWOL from the National Guard and deserted the military during a time of war.

*I refuse to take a drug test or even answer any questions about drug use.

*All records of my tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to my fathers library, sealed in secrecy and unavailable
for public view.

*All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for
public view.

*All minutes of meetings of any public corporation for which I served on the board are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for
public view.

*Any records or minutes from meetings I (or my VP) attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and
unavailable for public review.

Spread it far and wide, esp. about one year from now when he's 're-applying for the job'..........

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Penguin from ``Bloom County'' and ``Outland'' returning to comic pages

Oh, look. Something worth taking the time out from packing to post about...
So it's been a couple weeks since my last post. Pretty much all my attention and energy since then has been taken up with buying a house. I started looking just before the last couple of posts, and found one almost immediately. Since then, it's been a complete whirlwind, and any time that would have been taken up with writing entries for this journal--or watching TV or reading or anything except going to work--has been filled with doing stuff for the house purchase or packing for the move. I'm also way behind on my email, with almost a hundred unread messages in my inbox. I have a couple of funny bits friends have sent me that I want to post here, and I'll probably do that Monday night if I have time at my more mellow part-time job (shh!), but otherwise, don't expect to hear much from me until October.

Which is a shame, considering that the Republicans and the Criminal Bush are doing a pretty good job at destroying democracy in this country, and I'm just itching to say something about it, only I don't really have the time right now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Yahoo! News - Biel Vamping in Third 'Blade' Film

This is nice; it means I can finally see a movie with Jessica Biel without feeling completely embarrassed. (I keep trying to watch the baseball thing she's in with Brittany Murphy when it comes on HBO, because it's got her and Brittany Murphy in it, but it's got Freddie Prinze Jr in it as well, and that's a pretty big stumbling block for me to get over.)
Yahoo! News - Attacks in Iraq Kill 2 U.S. Soldiers, Wound Three

Not too shabby, considering Hand Puppet Shrub declared the war over at the beginning of May... (Best I can do today; I feel like crap.)

Friday, August 22, 2003

Yahoo! News - Newhart Sets Sights on 'ER' for Guest Arc

Good for Bob Newhart, and good for ER. Don't know if I'll actually watch this; I love Newhart, having fond memories of watching the original Bob Newhart Show with my parents during its original run, and it still holds up when I see reruns on TV Land, but I haven't watched ER regularly in forever. Not that there's anything wrong with it. It'll go down in history as one of TV's greats, but it's a setting and group of characters I'm just no longer interested in following in the long term. But these three episodes, I just might check out...

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Got this in my email today:

Impeachment. The 2000 Election. The California Recall. The pattern is becoming clear: there's a group of men in power who will do anything to consolidate that power, including undermining our democratic institutions. We've got to fight back. In Texas, they are fighting back. And while the world is focusing on the California mess, they are fighting alone. They need our help.

A partisan plan pushed by Karl Rove and Tom Delay will redistrict up to 7 Democrats out of Congress. Right now, 11 Democratic State Senators are hiding across state lines -- with the Texas Governor calling for their arrest -- to prevent this illegitimate plan from being strong-armed into law. They have put their reputations and careers on the line for all of us. A letter below from State Senator Rodney Ellis explains the situation in detail. Please read it, and then please help us launch a hard-hitting ad campaign to fight back in Texas. Whether you donate $5 or $5000, you will be helping to hold accountable reckless leaders who think they can get away with anything. Please contribute to this effort now:

http://moveon.org/texasads

The Texas special session that was called to gerrymander the Texas congressional districts ends early next week, and the pressure is building. These courageous leaders need to see real support now, or they won't be able to hold out.

Our numbers our great enough now to fight back effectively against these attacks on democracy. Please get even more people involved by forwarding this email to everyone you think would like to help.

Thanks,

--Zack and Wes
MoveOn.org PAC
August 20th, 2003

Below is the letter from State Senator Rodney Ellis.
___________________
August 18, 2003
Dear friends,

I am writing to you from a hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I and 10 of my colleagues in the Texas Senate have been forced to reside for the past 20 days. If we return to our homes, families, friends, and constituents, the Governor of Texas will have us arrested.

I know, it sounds more like a banana republic than the dignified democracy on which we have long prided ourselves. We are effectively exiled from the state due to our unalterable opposition to a Republican effort -- pushed by Tom Delay and Karl Rove, and led by Texas Governor Rick Perry -- that would rewrite the map of Texas Congressional districts in order to elect at least 5 more Republicans to Congress.

You may not have heard much about the current breakdown in Texas politics. The Republican power play in California has obscured the Republican power play in Texas that has forced my colleagues and me to leave the state.

Recognizing that public pressure is the only thing that can break the current stalemate, our friends at MoveOn have offered to support our efforts by sharing this email with you. In it, you will find:

Background information on how the situation in Texas developed;
Analysis of what's at stake for Democrats and the democratic process; and
How you can help by contacting Texas politicians, signing our petition, contributing funds, and forwarding this email!
The Republican redistricting effort shatters the tradition of performing redistricting only once a decade immediately after the Census -- making redistricting a perpetual partisan process. It elevates partisan politics above minority voting rights, in contravention of the federal Voting Rights Act. It intends to decimate the Democratic party in Texas, and lock in a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. And Republican efforts to force a vote on this issue by changing the rules of legislative procedure threaten to undermine the rule of law in Texas.

We do not take lightly our decision to leave the state. It was the only means left to us under the rules of procedure in Texas to block this injustice. We are fighting for our principles and beliefs, and we can win this fight with your support.

Sincerely,

Rodney Ellis
Texas State Senator (Houston)

Background

During the 2001 session of the Texas Legislature, the legislature was unable to pass a Congressional redistricting plan as it is required to do following the decennial Census. A three judge federal panel was forced to draw the plan. Neither Governor Rick Perry or then Attorney General John Cornyn, both Republicans, objected to the plan, which was reviewed and approved by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 2002 Congressional elections, the first held under the new redistricting plan, resulted in a Congressional delegation from Texas consisting of 17 Democrats and 15 Republicans. However, five of the 17 Democrats prevailed only because they were able to win the support of Republican and independent voters. All statewide Republican candidates carried these five districts. Most experts agree that the current plan has 20 strong or leaning Republican districts and 12 Democratic districts.

Meanwhile, the 2001 redistricting of Texas legislative seats (which was enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislative Redistricting Board, after the legislature again gridlocked in its efforts) resulted in wide Republican majorities in both the Texas House and Texas Senate. Now Tom Delay has made it his priority to force the Republican-controlled Legislature to enact a new redistricting plan to increase the number of Republican-leaning Congressional districts. Republicans believe they can manipulate the districts to elect as many as 22 Republicans out of the 32 member Texas Congressional delegation. They achieve this by packing minority voters into as few districts as possible and breaking apart rural districts so that the impact of independent voters will be reduced and suburban Republican voters will dominate.

During the regular session of the Texas Legislature, Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives exercised an unprecedented parliamentary move to prevent the House from passing Tom Delay's redistricting plan. While Democrats are in the minority of the House of Representatives, the state constitution requires that at least 2/3 of the House be present for the House to pass a bill. Because it was clear that the Republicans would entertain no debate and brook no compromise in their effort to rewrite the rules by which members of Congress are elected, the Democrats were forced to break the quorum to prevent the bill from passing. Because the Republican Speaker of the House and Governor called on state law enforcement officials to physically compel the Democrats to return, the lawmakers removed themselves to a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma -- outside the reach of state troops(1). In there effort to apprehend the Democrats, Tom Delay officially sought the help of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Justice.

The House Democrats (nicknamed the "Killer D's", based on an earlier episode in Texas history in which a group of Democratic state senators called the "Killer Bees" broke the quorum in the Senate over a similarly political stalemate) succeeded in stopping Delay's redistricting plan during the regular session, returning to Texas after the legislative deadline had expired for the House to pass legislation. However, because the Texas Legislature meets in regular session only every two years, the state constitution gives the Governor the power to call a 30-day special legislative session at any time between regular sessions. Despite statewide protests from Texas citizens who oppose Tom Delay's redistricting plan, the Governor has called two special sessions(2) already this summer to attempt to force the legislature to enact a new plan.

The first called session expired in a deadlock, as 12 of 31 Texas Senators(3) opposed the plan. Under Senate rules and tradition, a 2/3 vote is required to consider any bill on the floor of the Senate, giving 11 Senators the power to block a vote(4). The Republican Governor and Lieutenant Governor then determined they would do away with the 2/3 rule, and called another special session, forcing 11 Democratic Senators to break the quorum and leave the state.(5) These Senators have spent the past 22 days in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Governor has indicated he will continue calling special sessions until the Republican redistricting plan is enacted, despite the fact that the Republican-controlled Texas Supreme Court recently rejected the Governor's writ of mandamus filing to compel the Senators to return to the Senate. Meanwhile, eleven Democratic state senators are exiled from their state, unable to be with their families, friends, and constituents, for fear of being arrested as part of a partisan power play by Republicans. In the most recent indignity, Republican Senators voted to fine the absent Democrats up to $5,000 per day, and to revoke parking and other privileges for their staffs as long as the Senators are away.

What's at stake

At stake, on the surface, is whether Tom Delay will succeed in exploiting Republican control of the Texas Legislature to add to the Republican majority in the United States Congress. But deeper issues are also at stake.

If the Republicans succeed in redrawing the Texas Congressional lines to guarantee the election of five to seven more Republicans, it will ensure that Republicans hold the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for the entire decade and will likely result in Tom Delay becoming Speaker of the House.(6)
The Republican advantage would be gained by removing many African American and Hispanic voters from their current Congressional districts and "packing" them into a few districts that already have Democratic majorities. The voting power of these minority voters would be dramatically diluted by the Republican plan, in contravention of the federal Voting Rights Act. If the Republicans succeed, over 1.4 million African American and Hispanic voters will be harmed. It would be the largest disenfranchisement of minority voters since the Voting Rights Act was passed.
Redistricting exists for the purpose of reapportioning voters among political districts to account for population shifts. The purpose of this reapportionment is to ensure a roughly equal number of voters in each district, to preserve the principle of "one man, one vote."(7) For this reason, redistricting has always been conducted immediately following the U.S. Census' decennial population reports. Tom Delay now proposes a new redistricting plan two years after the Census report simply because Republicans gained control over the Texas Legislature in 2002 and now have the power to enact a much more Republican-friendly plan than the one drawn by the federal courts two years ago. This is an unprecedented approach to redistricting, one that subordinates its original purpose of ensuring the principle of "one man, one vote" to the purpose of perpetual partisan politics. Redistricting, in this model, would never be a settled matter, and districts would constantly be in flux depending on the balance of political power in the Legislature.
The Texas Legislature has traditionally been defined by a spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation. This issue has polarized the legislature in a way that threatens to destroy that tradition. The Republicans have effectively exiled their Democratic counterparts in a power play that makes our state look more like a banana republic than a dignified democracy. The arbitrary decision to discard the 2/3 rule in the Senate sets a precedent that undermines that body's tradition of consensus and cooperation. The deployment of state law enforcement officials to apprehend boycotting legislators erodes the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government, and diminishes legislators' ability to represent their constituents as they see fit. The unilateral Republican effort to penalize Democratic Senators and their staffs
What is needed

The Democratic Senators currently in Albuquerque have two critical needs. The first is to generate increased public awareness of the situation. By all reason, every day the Senators are out of the state this story should get bigger. Instead, news media have gradually lost interest in the story. The California recall has dominated the attention of the national media, and the Texas media has largely lost interest in the story -- out of sight, out of mind. Without public attention to this story, the Republicans have all the leverage -- if it does not cost them politically, it costs them nothing(8) to continue calling special sessions until the Texas 11 are forced to come home.

The second critical need is funding. The cost of hotels, meeting rooms, staff support, and public relations efforts is mounting. In addition, the Senators must defend themselves legally against Republican efforts to compel their return, while also filing legal claims against the Republican power play. The Senators are actively raising money for the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus Fund to offset these costs and prepare themselves for a stay of indefinite duration in Albuquerque.

Notes

1. A recent Department of Justice investigation chronicled Republican state officials' illegal attempts to use federal resources -- including anti-terrorism resources from the Department of Homeland Security -- to compel the Democratic lawmakers' return. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A51520-2003Aug12.html for a news report on the Justice Department investigation, or http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/03-08a/final.pdf for a copy of the complete Justice Department report.
2. At a cost to taxpayers of over $1.5 million per session.
3. House Republicans passed a redistricting bill in the special session despite an outpouring of public opposition in hearings across the state. All 12 Democratic state senators opposed the plan, along with Republican state senator (and former Lieutenant Governor) Bill Ratliff.
4. The "2/3 rule" requires the Senate to reach broader consensus on difficult issues than a simple majority vote. It is a combination of official Senate rules and tradition. The rules of the Senate require a 2/3 vote to suspend the "regular order of business" to consider a bill that is not the first bill on the Senate calendar. By tradition, the Senate has always placed a "blocker bill" at the top of the Senate calendar, so that every bill requires a suspension of the regular order of business to be considered. The process requires compromise and consensus to achieve a 2/3 majority on each bill. One Texas insider has said that the 2/3 rule is "what separates us from animals."
5. In fact, the Governor and Lt. Governor attempted to "surprise" the Senators by calling the second special one day early and "trap" them in the Senate Chamber. The Senators were able to escape the Capitol with literally minutes to spare.
6. Republican party activist Grover Norquist, head of the Washington D.C.-based Americans for Tax Reform, was quoted as follows in the August 17 Fort Worth Star Telegram: "Republicans will hold the House for the next decade through 2012 if Texas redistricts…It depresses the hell out of the Democrats and makes it doubly impossible to take the House and probably depresses their fund raising…Anything that helps strengthen the Republican leadership helps DeLay become speaker someday if he wants it."
7. Established in the landmark case Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962)
8. Notwithstanding the millions of dollars it is costing taxpayers.
Click on this link and read it.

Made me smile.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

This is just odd...: "BATMAN has done a flit from Gotham City. Last night police in Oxford were hunting the Caped Crusader after he knocked a man unconscious in the street.
A police spokeswoman, familiar with the exploits of Gotham City's Dark Knight, said: 'It was really a case of 'Kapow!''"

Friday, August 15, 2003

Apparently, my guess about the Tremors season finale being the series finale was correct... I'd feel sad, if it had been a better series. Still, it was fun...
Stampede Entertainment - News Roundup: "Tremors The Series will not return to SciFi but Tremors 4 will be here Christmas 2003. (8/8/03)
To our loyal Tremors Fans -- GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS. Well, fans, the numbers are in and Tremors: The Series didn't quite hit the demographics and
market share SciFi was looking for (it was SO close!). We're sorry to report that the rumors are true, the show will not be back for a second season.
But the Good News is that Tremors 4 will be coming soon. It's all new, all different, and Universal is extremely happy with it (as are we at Stampede, of course). They like it so much they moved its release to near Christmas, so you all know what's going to be in your stocking this year. "
Blackout's Box LIVE! is on TONIGHT!

And they said it wasn't an act of terrorism...
Victorian Sex Cry Generator

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Which Lord of the Rings Character am I?

Just more useless crap on a day I don't feel like writing much...
The Blackout
Check out the Great East Coast Blackout, live, as it happens!

Friday, August 08, 2003

Check out artbomb.net for a preview of a new historical crime graphic novel by two of my favorite creators. I'm really looking forward to this one, so please, check it out.
Tonight , the Sci-Fi Channel is showing what they're billing as the Season Finale ofTremors, a show which doesn't seem to have set the world afire, ratings-wise. Me, I kinda liked it. Wasn't a great show, but in these days of every show being a copy of every other show, it was kind of nice to see something that wasn't being duplicated anywhere else. Not brilliant television, but easily the best "people getting et by giant underground monsters" series currently out there.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Neil Gaiman: "It occurred to me today that the biggest problem with the way the future is visually presented is it's either hi tech or low tech; whereas most things are a sort of hodgepodge. This is the kind of revelation that occurs to one when staring at an iPod that only works properly when the headphones are attached by a rubber band to a piece of plastic cutlery, which pulls the connector into the right position...."

Friday, August 01, 2003

I was at the Suncoast Casino buffet for lunch, and on my way back to my table, I had to push past a big (read: fat) guy waiting at the dessert counter eating a plate of fried shrimp he was holding. While he was standing at the dessert counter waiting to be served his dessert. So, two thoughts: One: They have tables for that; get out of my way. Two: Take a break, man! Geez!

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Got this in my email today:

Why did the chicken cross the road to Baghdad?

GEORGE W. BUSH "We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either with us or it is against us. There is no middle ground here."

COLIN POWELL "Now at the left of the screen, you clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road."

HANS BLIX "We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed access to the other side of the road."

SADDAM HUSSEIN "This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it."

BILL CLINTON I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What do you mean by chicken? Could you define chicken, please?

RUSH LIMBAUGH "I don't know why the chicken crossed the road, but I'll bet it was getting a government grant to cross the road, and I'll bet someone out there is already forming a support group to help chickens with crossing-the-road syndrome. Can you believe this? How much more of this can real Americans take?

JERRY FALWELL Because the chicken was gay! Isn't it obvious? Can't you see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side." That's why they call it the "other side." The liberal media hides that fact from you.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY To die. In the rain. Alone.

DR. SEUSS Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed, I've not been told!

COLONEL SANDERS I missed one?

MARIA MONTESSORI The chicken was responding to a directive from its inner psychic being which manifested itself in this spontaneous, independent action. What is marvelous is that it crossed the road again and again, with no prodding or urging from anyone but its own inner voice. ("Help me to cross the road by myself!")
Yahoo! News - Vatican Slams Moves to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Which would have some meaning and carry some weight in a universe where the world was ruled by, you know, the Pope...

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Damn. Just read an email from Warren Ellis where he says that Spooks chokes in its second season. Which is a shame, because I've really been enjoying the first season.

On the other hand, Mr Ellis and I have disagreed on what makes for enjoyable TV many times in the past, so I'm not really going to worry about it...
USA NETWORK | The Foreigner

Steven Segal's new action movie premiering as a USA Original? About damn time he found his own level...
Yahoo! News - Bush Sees New Al Qaeda Threat, Democrats Critical

"Oh, geez, has my approval rating dipped a precipitous amount? Did I just come out in public against gays? Are even the dullest members of the public starting to wonder about this whole 'weapons of mass destruction' thing, and why so many American soldiers continue to die in a war I declared over months ago? Oh... I... Oh... shit... I... Oh, look over there! Terrorists! Really!"
Yahoo! News - Bush Rejects Calls to Legalize Gay Marriage
That's okay. I reject expensive, unjustified, unpopular, poorly-planned wars. I reject politicians who lie to the American people. I reject legislation designed to rape and pillage our natural resources in the name of making the rich industrial cronies of Our President richer at the expense of our children's futures. I reject the notion of tax cuts for the rich while schools are digging under the couch cushions for spare change to buy books for their students. And I reject a president who insists on putting his own religious beliefs over the basic freedoms from religious oppression that this country was founded on.

Ordinarily, I pretty much reject the whole Judeo-Christian mythos thing, because dickweeds like this fucking hand puppet believe in it so ferverently, they give it a bad name. But sometimes, I really, really hope that it turns out that there is one big God, one Heaven, and one Hell, and that their God is really, really pissed that all these self-righteous, "Oh, I completely support everyone's freedom to believe whatever they want, as long as it's my way!" mother fuckers have taken Her word and gotten it completely wrong. And I hope there really is a Hell, so that all these folks can find themselves slow-roasting over an eternal barbecue pit with roasting spits shoved up their arses.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Weapons of Mass Redaction: It's nice when the New York Times writes my blog entries for me...

Friday, July 25, 2003

Okay, not saying that Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life is a great movie, or even a good one, but damn, did I enjoy it. I was in a lousy mood when I left the house to go see it, but by the time I exited the theater, I had pretty much forgotten all about the whole "brand new email address from Cox Communications Complete With Fifty Brand-New Pieces of Spam Sent to An Address I've Never Given Out Ever" thing. And it was way better than the first Tomb Raider movie.

The cardinal sin most of these movies commit is way too much plot, way too many complications heaped on top of complications, just to prove that they're so much more sophisticated than the typical adventure movie or their video game source material. The result? A frelling mess. Look at the Street Fighter movie, which takes place in a James Bond villain's headquarters and is almost totally devoid of street fighting. Or Mortal Kombat, devoted to way too many details about some universe-saving something-or-other and nowhere near enough mortal combat. Sometimes, simplicity and clarity of plot is better. I mean, I can tell you what the goals were in each of the three Indiana Jones movies, but I can't for the life of me remember what happened in the first Tomb Raider flick.

Fortunately, this sequel has learned from the first's mistakes. The plot is straightforward and elegant. The complications arise organically and naturally, rather than being grafted on. We don't get sequences shoehorned in because they come from the games, or because they look cool. The movie doesn't stop dead for ten minutes while Basil Exposition fills us in on information that should have been emerging from the story as it went along. The movie doesn't stop dead to shoehorn in romantic scenes just because there's a male and female lead. (There's a romantic subplot, but it's kept confined to its proper place within the overall story, instead of feeling like it's there to prove that Lara Croft isn't a lesbian.)

Best of all, Angelina Jolie is great. This is the second movie I can think of this summer featuring an Oscar winner playing an action heroine (the first being Halle Berry in X-Men 2), and she proves that she's really trying. It's the opposite of Willem Dafoe in Spider-Man playing Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever playing Jack Nicholson in Batman, apparently believing that he doesn't have to really try since he's in a comic book movie. Jolie sells Lara Croft as a real, full-blooded, three-dimensional human being, and that goes a long way to making the movie work for me.

It should be obvious, from this and the other movies I've written about this summer, that this is a season of escapism for me, and I'm not going to make excuses for that. True-life thought-provoking works of drama that illuminate the human condition have their place, but that place isn't on my cinematic agenda right now. The big, action-packed explodey, special-effectsy, stunt-filled spectacles do, and that's what I'm interested in seeing. The quiet, human dramas... that's for television, for shows like Red Cap and Spooks, and for the books I read. Cradle of Life managed to completely deliver exactly what I asked of it, and better than I had expected. And, considering that this week's other choices included surer bets like Pirates of the Caribbean, Seabiscuit, and Spy Kids 3-D, that's a good thing.
Lacking the energy to write something this morning, I instead post this bit of email wackiness...

Time Killers at WalMart

Fifteen Things to do at WalMart while your spouse/shopping partner is taking their sweet time:

1. Get 24 boxes of condoms & randomly put them in peoples carts when they aren't looking.

2. Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5 minute
intervals.

3. Make a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the restrooms.

4. Walk up to an employee and tell him/her in an official tone, "Code 3 in housewares"...and see what happens.

5. Go to the Service Desk and ask to put a bag of M&M's on layaway.

6. Move a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.

7. Set up a tent in the camping department and tell other shoppers
you'll invite them in if they bring pillows from the bedding department.

8. When a clerk asks if they can help you, begin to cry and ask 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?

9. Look right into the security camera, use it as a mirror and pick your nose.

10. While handling guns in the hunting department, ask the clerk if he knows where the anti-depressants are.

11. Dart around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the theme from 'Mission Impossible.'

12. In the auto department, practice your "Madonna look" using different size funnels.

13. Hide in a clothing rack and when people browse through, say "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

14. When an announcement comes over the loud speaker, assume the fetal position and scream "NO! NO! It's those voices again!!!"

And last but not least:

15. Go into a fitting room, shut the door and wait a while and then yell loudly "Hey! You're out of toilet paper in here!!"

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Two stories about librarians as action figures... I should probably be irritated at yet another reinforcement of the traditional stereotype, but, to be honest, I can't really be arsed. I do feel sort of sorry for the woman they modeled the thing on, however. I mean, they've pretty much said to her, "We want someone who's as close to the traditional--if misguided--image of the mousy old woman with her hair in a bun librarian that we can find, and you're it, baby!"

Much more interested in the upcoming TNT TV-movie, The Librarian, from Stargate/Independence Day/American Godzilla producer Dean Devlin. I'm sure it'll be about as accurate a depiction of librarianship as his film Stargate was a depiction of Egyptology and linguistics. But if my profession is going to be misrepresented, I'd rather it be as a two-fisted adventurer than an old biddy with her hair in a bun.

Other stuff, briefly: I recommend fans of Buffy and Angel check out Peter David's new comic, Fallen Angel. It's clearly influenced by those shows, without being overly derivative. The first issue is now on sale, and it's well-written, well-drawn, and a good debut for what looks to be a dark, possibly supernatural thriller series.

New must-see TV for me: Red Cap on BBC America. It's about British MPs on a base in Germany. Sort of the UK version of JAG, only darker, harder edged, and better. (And I like JAG.) Also highly recommend a "new" series on A&E, starting this week: MI-5, about British counterterrorist operatives. I just received the British DVDs of the first season (called Spooks in the UK; I hadn't realized A&E was getting the show when I ordered the set, but it's got all sorts of extras that make it worthwhile), and the first two episodes were great. Check it out.

Also enjoyable, though nowhere near as compelling, was the premiere of My Hero on BBC America last night. A romantic comedy about an ordinary woman and the superhero from another planet who falls for her, this one was nothing new. I suppose Red Cap and Spooks aren't really anything new, either, but they're presented with a bit of style and flash. This could have been made any time between 1970 and 2000, and... well, it's Mork and bloody Mindy, really. But the leads are relatively charming, and it's that point in the summer where there's nothing else on anyway. And it's only a half hour.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Okay, my biggest complaint about the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen isn't that it takes huge liberties with a comic that I really, really enjoy. I had expected that, and to be honest, after just a few minutes into the movie, I had pretty much stopped comparing the two and accepted this as something completely separate. In fact, when the movie suddenly veered back to the comic and revealed the surprise identity of the master villain, I was actually caught off guard, because I hadn't expected them to suddenly become faithful to the source material. No, the big problem is that it's just ordinary.

It's pretty sad when you've got a movie featuring Allan Quartermain, Mina Harker from Dracula, Captain Nemo, Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer, the Invisible Man, and Doctor Jeckyll/Mr Hyde, and come away feeling like it could have starred any six action heroes. But that's exactly what happens here. Sean Connery is just fine playing yet another bad-arsed aging, jaded, world-weary tough guy called back into the fray for one last battle, forced to grudgingly help/work with a bunch of younger partners... you know, just like EVERY OTHER FUCKING MOVIE HE'S BEEN IN FOR THE LAST FIFTEEN YEARS. He plays the part just fine, but at this point, these roles should be an autopilot setting for him. Naseeruddin Shah manages to bring a certain amount of heroism and dignity to the role of Captain Nemo, but every review I've read just talks about his beard. Jason Flemyng, as Dorian Gray, appears to be channeling Johnny Depp.

Ultimately, how pedestrian and unimaginative the movie is feels summed up in the lack of use of the Invisible Man. The most obviously gimmicky character in the whole ensemble, and the movie gives him nothing to do. Instead, we get car chases, explosions, gunfights... Oh, there's a CGI fight between Mr Hyde and another big transformed fighty guy, but that's about it. It just feels like this movie fails to ignite. It's not horrible, and I didn't feel like I'd completely wasted my time and money... but for a movie like this, with the source material being so wonderfully thought out, "not horrible" just isn't good enough.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!

Total Doctor Who fanboy/geek excitement going on, but that's okay. Something has to make me smile, right? More later.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

I think I now have a theme to furnish my new home, when I eventually buy one.
I literally just finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I feel like I've run a freaking marathon. Two good things I can now say: I enjoyed it, and I can stop yelling at people to shut up around me whenever they start talking about it. I know some people have told me they were disappointed with it (and then I told them to shut up, because I didn't want to hear anything that might influence my own response) and I can probably guess their reasons for their disappointment. Me, it was pretty much the book I was expecting, although the actual events and details surprised me, so I was pleased. And if the next one takes another three years? Fine. I've got other stuff to read until then.

Saw Terminator 3 the other day. I hear it's getting lousy reviews, although the two I've read seemed to appreciate it for what it is. Again, I enjoyed it. Well-directed and well-acted, with a plot that actually caught me by surprise in places. Claire Danes, as the female lead, wasn't particularly special, showing little of the quirky style she displayed in My So-Called Life or Romeo + Juliet. Nick Stahl made an okay hero, but both were saddled with lines so stiff, they could have been written by Terminator creator James Cameron. But newcomer Kristanna Loken was every bit as impressive as the evil female T-X as Robert Patrick was in Terminator 2. And Arnold Schwarzenegger? It's like he's hardly aged a day since the original movie.

Interestingly, the movie feels more like the low-budget original film than the big-budget sequel. So I guess that makes it an art-house movie, like The Hulk is an art-house movie. I don't know; it was a nice, big, noisy, explodey action movie very much in the spirit of the original movies. I thought it was a worthwhile sequel, and I'm still a fan of Jonathan Mostow as a director.

Monday, June 23, 2003

So, it's official: according to the highest court in the land, it's no longer okay to look at porn at the library.

Okay, I hear America saying, so what's the big problem? Pornography isn't readily available at bookstores or video stores or on library shelves. How is insisting that libraries install filters on public-access computers to block pornography any different?

Just so we're clear: I'm pro-good porn, anti-bad porn, and pretty much anti-any creepy dude that's so desperate for his/her porn fix that s/he needs to go to a public library to view it. And if that porn fixation leads to them feeling comfortable enough to then lead a kid into a bathroom somewhere and act out their wildest fantasies... well, I'm thoroughly anti that as well. I also don't believe that anyone has a basic right to view porn at the library. Most public libraries have their public access computers out in the open and, well, public. Not everyone wants to look at porn, and quite a few people find it offensive, even if they don't want to abridge an individual's right to choose to view it in the privacy of their own home. If we're supposed to support the right of someone to look at hot nekkid Asian chicks performing fellatio on '66 Mustang engine blocks, then we also need to support the rights of the folks who don't want to have to catch a glimpse of that while sitting next to it trying to register for community college classes online, or send email to their grandkids.

I'm also not entirely comfortable with the semi-official library stance that this is a censorship issue. The thing is, we libraries practice a similar form of censorship all the time. For example, our library has a fairly large selection of videos, which grows larger every week. However, it doesn't include a great deal of pornography. We don't get Hustler Magazine, either. We make excuses for exclusion (don't have the budget, don't have the space, not enough demand, blah, blah, blah) but we're still not catering to anyone's freedom to read/view whatever porn they want.

The thing is, we're not talking about pornographic videos or books or magazines here. We're not talking about a self-contained physical unit that a library can choose to include or exclude from its collection. We're talking about the Internet, and that's another beast entirely. (Actually, to be pedantic, which is de rigeur when talking about all things computerized, we're talking about the World Wide Web, which is yet another beast, but let's not get too bogged down in details.) The Web is pretty much an all-or-nothing deal. We (libraries) can either choose to provide access to it, or not. So much information is available electronically through the Internet and the Web, it has become impossible for libraries to ignore it. But once you decide to accept the Web, you have to accept all of it. That means the useful, authoritative information sources, the crappy Hello Kitty and B2K Geocities pages made by eight-year olds, the nerdy Doctor Who message board sites, the pointless rambling blogs by childrens librarians who should be reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, shopping sites, and porn. You can't pick and choose which parts you want, because it's all interconnected, which is why it's called the World Wide freaking Web in the first place.

So the thing about this Supreme Court decision is it's just stupid and ignorant. It treats the Web as something that can somehow be partitioned up, and completely ignores reality. It treats filtering software as something that works, that effectively blocks all offensive sites and doesn't block anything else. And that simply isn't so. Software gets outdated. Web developers will come up with new and interesting ways to defeat the blocking. And the software will continue to block sites that have nothing to do with pornography. (In the children's library, our filter routinely blocks students from accessing their school sites. Go figure.) And it doesn't take a lot of research to support this.

And yet, the highest court in the land chooses to behave as if it makes sense to require libraries to install blocking software. Instead of doing the research and acknowledging that this doesn't solve the intended problem, and in fact creates others, and consequently proving that the Court possesses some understanding of technology, they choose this path. This namby-pamby decision that shows that they side with religious conservative whiners who can be easily placated by non-solutions that they can cram down other people's throats rather than taking a greater view of the whole situation. And that's why this whole thing bugs me. Not because of what it means to libraries, and not because I'm shocked at yet another whittling away at American freedom. (I'm becoming pretty numb at this point, actually. But only in the sense that it means I can fight harder if I can't feel the pain.) It's just another sign that our decision-makers don't care about looking at the big picture and making what's ultimately an informed decision. I don't have to agree with everything our government does, but that's okay, as long as they can show real, logical reasons for what they've done. Once again, they've failed to meet that test in my eyes.
I didn't have a whole lot to say today. Working on an entry raving about the new Special Edition DVD of Disney's The Love Bug, but mostly, I feel like I should be reading the new Harry Potter book. (It's 900 pages long, and I know two people who have already finished it, thus offering further proof that I don't have enough time to do all the things I want to do.)

But there are some links that were meant to be shared...

Saturday, June 21, 2003

To follow up on my Hulk comments from yesterday: Last night at Borders, I heard some people talking about it, referring to it as an "art-house" movie. This morning, I read a review from the New York Post describing it as "artsy." What, just because it's not balls-to-the-walls action? I mean, come on, we're not talking Chien Andalou here. This isn't the Babette's Feast of Hulk movies, for God's sake. Is this what we've come to? Is any movie that isn't just plain stupid now an "art-house picture?" You can't have a movie that appeals to mainstream audiences that isn't dumb as a bag of hammers?
So it's about 12:30 in the morning, and I'm waiting at Borders for my copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I got here at about ten to midnight, and I'm number 232 in line. The place is packed with kids giddy with enthusiasm, some wearing costumes, makeup, or cardboard Harry Potter glasses. Some cute college girls in witch outfits. And there are some twenty-something guys making farting noises, but I guess that's to be expected.

And then there's the parents. For the most part, they seem pretty well-behaved. But I swear, I just heard someone say, "They better hurry up!" Like they're willing to haul themselves out to Borders at midnight for the book, but that's it. If they have to wait any longer than that--at a store which usually closes at eleven--it's a huge inconvenience to them. Please.

(Written on my palmtop.)

Friday, June 20, 2003

As might be expected from the complete comics/film nerd, I saw The Hulk today, opening day. I saw it at 11:00 in the morning, in a mostly empty theater, with a bunch of families with large numbers of kids. When I saw Daredevil, my quickie, high-concept review was that it was Spider-Man for grownups. In that spirit, The Hulk is The Hulk for grown-ups. Which makes it pretty unfortunate that there were so many kids in the theater, because this is by no means a big super-hero action movie in the Spider-Man vein. Which is fine, because the Hulk isn't that kind of character.

The thing about the Hulk (the character) is that he isn't some guy who develops super powers and goes out to fight crime. He's this guy who can't stop himself from turning into this uncontrolable creature of pure primal emotion, mostly anger and rage. Something happens to Bruce Banner, he turns into the Hulk, havoc is wreaked because the Hulk isn't a rational being--which is the whole point--Banner eventually regains control, and he tries to go on with his life. It's a people story, and Ang Lee's movie is a people movie. It's a two and a half hour long movie about people talking and relationships, and periodically one of them turns into this big green guy who goes on a crazed rampage, smashing up buildings and helicopters and tanks and so forth. And the movie really works. It's a good Hulk story, and it's a really bad movie to bring kids to if they're expecting wall to wall Hulk action. (Trust me; I was witness to this.)

Word on the 'net, which, as what regular readers I have will know I give very little credence to, is that Universal Studios were upset that this film is, well, what it is, and not, say, Spider-Man. And I suppose they should be upset, because this isn't necessarily a big, crowd-pleasing actioner that'll bring in huge audiences and guarantee multiple sequels. I could have told them this going in, and I don't work for Hollywood. You can make Spider-Man movie after Spider-Man movie, because he's a crime fighter. In the first movie, he fights the Green Goblin. In the next one, he fights someone else. In the third, he fights someone else again. Same with Daredevil, same with Fantastic Four, same with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and so forth. The Hulk? There's one big movie-sized story for him, and that's his origin. He's not a big action movie franchise character, and assuming that he is, just because he has his own Marvel comic book like the others is just narrow-minded and stupid. And if that's the sort of reasoning Universal went in with, well, they deserve whatever disappointment they get.

So, enough of the studio politics stuff out of the way, and on to what I thought about the actual movie: I really enjoyed it. And not just because Jennifer Connelly is in it, although that's usually enough for me. No, this movie impresses because it feels like an honest effort to make a real movie, with a real story about real characters. It has one or two over-the-top moments, mostly courtesy of Mr. Nick Nolte, but for the most part, it's a very human film. It could, arguably, be trimmed in places, but compared to the rushed feel of Daredevil's final act, I think I'd rather have too much than too little. Comics purists will, no doubt, be upset with the changes to the Hulk's origin, but then, complaining about that stuff in public probably doesn't make them any less likely to get laid, so I guess there's no harm done. Within the context of this story, it all works.

While this is the least super-heroic of the three recent big Marvel movies, it's the one most consciously designed to look like a comic book. Many scenes play out with multiple images appearing together on the screen, a la TV's 24, and--according to interviews with Lee--is meant to resemble comic book panels on a page. For the most part, the effect works, creating some effective and distinctive transitions, unlike what we normally see in a major motion picture. Every now and then, it doesn't quite work--at one point, we see the same character from two different angles, something not normally seen in a comic--and the technique draws attention to itself. Still, I give Ang Lee credit for attempting something that worked most of the time rather than making a movie that looks just like every other movie.

And then there's the CGI Hulk... He works. Obviously, you have to go in understanding that you're seeing a movie called Hulk, and it's about this big, green guy. If you aren't prepared to accept the green guy, if you need the movie to completely convince you, if you aren't prepared to at least meet them part of the way... well, you still might be surprised, because he's pretty effective. Especially when we see his expressions in close-up. Considering he could have been, well, Shrek, this is impressive.

In other news... Well, there isn't much other news. Looking forward to the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix tonight at midnight at my local Borders. And Tuesday, Michelle Branch's new CD comes out. I suppose I'm supposed to be all hip and independent and looking down on populist entertainment like the Harry Potter novels, pop artists like Michelle Branch, and even movies like Hulk. But that's okay; I'm planning on watching episodes of Spaced this weekend, and I'm looking forward to not one, but two new Paul Magrs novels this summer. So there. Still won't be shaken on the whole pop music thing, though...

Monday, May 26, 2003

The other week, I was at Wal-Mart, helping a friend buy a car battery. (By "help," I mean I gave him a lift; obviously, he couldn't drive himself, since he needed a new car battery.) While waiting for him to pay, my eyes were drawn to a combination corn-dog/Twinkie maker. Curious, I investigated further. Apparently, it isn't a thing with which you make your own twinkie cakes. (You know, the delicious golden sponge cake gently cradling a tasty cream filling.) No, it's a device for deep-frying corn dogs and twinkies on sticks. Because, it seems, this is a new snack craze sweeping parts of the nation that aren't Las Vegas: the deep-fried Twinkie.

And I have to wonder: who comes up with this stuff? I mean, it's not like the Twinkie was at the forefront of the health food charge to begin with, but who suddenly thinks, "Hey, you know this concoction of sugar and chemicals that's so bad for me but tastes so good? I wonder if there's any way I could possibly make it any less healthy for me... I know! I'll dip it in batter and fry it up in a vat of hot grease!" Brilliant! I mean, you could eat a hamburger and a Twinkie, but that's two steps where only one is needed. (I now have a vision of the meat-filled twinkie.)

And, incredibly, it doesn't stop with the Twinkie. No, according to a CNN article from last year, the deep-fried Twinkie is actually a further development from the deep-fried chocolate bar. Because, you know, it's almost like those fancy desserts you see in fancy restaurants, all prepared and cooked from ingredients and stuff, but way easier, you know?