This is the sort of thing that's so odd I can't believe I haven't seen it before. It's an unbelievably goofy music video ostensibly created in the late 60's to showcase the talents of Leonard Nimoy. Here he is singing the praises of everyone's favorite hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. He recounts the essentials of the story in electric-organ accompanied surreality. [Link: Spock on Hobbits]
I sincerely hope you all get to see it. It will either give you nightmares or goofy dreams. And this rockets to the top of my list for Things to include as hidden extras on the Return of The King DVD.
Reading Bil's post about Buy Nothing Day reminded me that I, too, missed out on spreading the word on Adbusters' annual day of focused anti-consumerism. The day after Thanksgiving (often thought to be the years busiest retail day, though it isn't), Buy Nothing Day is a day to put the breaks on artificially corporate-driven materialistic urges and reflect. It's a decent sentiment, but it truly can happen on any day, for any individual.
Adbusters is an interesting publication. Produced by the Vancouver-based Media Foundation, it exhorts folks to resist advertising memes and battle the mindset of rampant consumerism. Years ago I was a subscriber to the magazine, and one of its staples which kept me interested was the Culture-Jamming. Culture Jamming seems to run the gamut between harmless practical jokes with a message to vandalism. The vandalism bothered me, but Culture-Jamming seemed like a great idea when it involved jokes or especially parodies of adverts - turning memes against themselves.
I tried my hand at it back circa 1995 with a site which poked fun at a website promoting the fat substitute olestra. My counter-site was good enough to get me half a year's subscription to Adbusters, and they used one of my graphics on their site briefly (They used it without attribution, and without asking, but I didn't hold it against them. Really, folks - sometimes all you have to do is ask!)
Procter and Gamble later rang my phone regarding the olestra site - offering to fly me to their labs to talk to people who would educate me about the product. I declined, letting them know I wasn't on a crusade; I was just culture-jamming. But they never returned my emails asking if they'd like to participate in a forum about olestra at the university (including a representative from the anti-olestra crowd for balance)
Though I no longer keep up with Adbusters, advert parodies are still something I love. They're high up there on my list of "Things I'd Do If I Had The Kind Of Free Time I Had When I Was 20."
BTW - I took the olestra site down after about 8 years. It no longer seemed as funny without olestra being pushed. And the website it parodied had long gone. Perhaps indigestible food doesn't sit well with people.
11. Unacceptable things to say after doing a shot: Great, now Iím going to get drunk. I hate shots. Itís coming back up.
14. If you offer to buy a woman a drink and she refuses, she does not like you.
15. If you offer to buy a woman a drink and she accepts, she still might not like you.
16. If she buys you a drink, she likes you.
24. After your sixth drink, do not look at yourself in the mirror. It will shake your confidence.
Like other presidents before him, Bush has gone to visit the troops. Unlike other presidents, we'll probably get to hear about it over and over and over again from the supposedly liberal media. (How it was super-secret, how they planned it, etc.)
But it was a smart political thing to do, and the right thing. Morale is reportedly not the best, and the soldiers can use the boost.
I didn't think many of you would be visiting the site today, but a hearty "Happy Thanksgiving" greeting to you if you are checking in here this late.
And, as a reward, here's a discussion of why you feel so tired after eating Thanksgiving dinner.
I know why I feel tired. Even though we visit my parents', I usually carve the ham and the turkey and make my ultra-garlic mashed potatoes. This year, I also baked an apple pie. Mmmmmmm Pie. A good time was had by all. Instead of football (the Patriots weren't playing) we played no limit Hold-Em. For pride, not money. My family is competitive enough that it's almost like a game for real money. My Dad won, of course.
Aside from all the Thanksgiving brouhaha, real competitive poker makes you very tired. In one session at the casino I played for 6 hours (not a long stretch by most real poker player's standards) and was too focussed to attend to food or liquid needs. I felt like i had been hit by a truck when we left -- but I was ahead when I left.
Mr. Yuk was created in 1971 to help educate kids about products in the home that could harm them. Parents could get Mr. Yuk stickers to put on poisonous household products, and then tell their children that Mr. Yuk was a warning. (There was even a song).
I think it's a decent idea, but check out some antique bottle technology used to help people avoid accidental poisoning. I love the "coveted skull bottle."
(Brandon mentioned Mr. Yuk on Instick Musings)
Yep. It turns out Dubya doesn't have to get it right. The RNC will go back and fix it later for him. Any pauses or mispronunciations will just fade away into lost memories. It's the most slick revisionist history, now with a boost from the Republican version of Hollywood post-production. Imagine what ILM could do with Dubya's triumphant Mission Accomplished footage. Cobble together a sequel for ID4, perhaps? Arnold could co-star!
"Now there are some who would like to rewrite history -- revisionist historians is what I like to call them." - G. W. Bush
The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers Extended Edition DVDhas a hidden feature. It's Gollum's acceptance speech from the MTV Movie Awards. The Matrix Reloaded DVD has got the Matrix parody from that same MTV Movie awards. I'm starting to think if you buy enough DVDs, you can assemble your own 2003 MTV Movie Awards!
(By now if you're the sort of person who cares, you probably already know abotu the hilarious Council of Elrond parody that was on the LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring EE DVD. 2002 MTV Movie awards, of course.)
Well, when I spoke to Maggie on the phone last night on the way home from work, she wanted to know where the squirrel was. Apparently, the girls were tearing the house apart looking for that drawing. I think she was happy the kids were having a good time but not completely thrilled that I had left a ticking time bomb of untidiness to explode before I got home. (They didn't make that much of a mess, in the end)
The squirrel is now safely in custody, and it may even learn to like squirrel feed (if a drawing of a squirrel can).
A while ago, Chuck made us some premium squirrel mix. We put off using it and rediscovered it in the pantry recently. I let the girls spread it out on the front walk and all day we watched Rusty (our very real, very fat front yard squirrel) run up and down the tree, first eating the feed, than running for cover whenever anyone came near. This is the same squirrel that ate a whole pumpkin.
The following appeared on the Taunton Gazette's website today: At the time of this writing, it can still be viewed here, but that may change in the near future. I took a full browser screenshot.
How likely is it that someone would coincidentally put a photo of someone being crowned "queen" next to a story about an openly gay congressman? There is no story on the page having anything to do with that picture, so it is not just a question of screen layout. I wonder if the Gazette is going to show some integrity and get to the bottom of this?
Julie noticed this, and sent the link along.
I'm no PETA member, but I thought it only fair to include a link to this story this week.
Yeah, it tells about the poor treatment of turkeys. Perhaps that's not enough to get you not to eat turkey this holiday season. I know it isn't going to stop me. But the article makes a couple of other good points. Our Thanksgiving turkey is less and less tasty as a result of breeding and treatment. More importantly, it's not genetically diverse, perhaps to the point that an emerging disease could wipe out the turkey industry.
Will there ever be a large enough market to support healthier turkey growing practices?
Coming later in the week, the way to make mashed potatoes so that you forget all about turkey. (story via NYT, tip via Jim C)
I found out what the squirrel was needed for yesterday. My daughter needed a dangerous animal for her exhibit "Ciler Squerel." Later, she gave a tour of the exhibit, cautioning us not to get too close.
I took a photo of the cage. I've manipulated my daughter's sign to make it readable in the photo. I also circled where the squirrel is, but all you can see it the piece of paper it is drawn on. You can see the general exhibit setup. She's used the old children's safety gate as the cage and arranged it in one of the closets in the old part of the house.
This morning there was an escape from the exhibit! A reward is being offered! Stay tuned...
Last night, I finally saw the end of Devil's Rain, a schlocky 70's horror film with Bill Shatner, Ernie Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Tom Skerritt and John Travolta. Anton LaVey (of Church of Satan fame) even makes an appearance, and consults on the story).
Afterward, I searched the net and found there were plenty of concise, accurate reviews on this film already. I can't help but be a little repetitive in my treatment, because there isn't much to say about this film.
I'll give you the summary.
[Spoilers follow, but you're not watching this film for the plot -- trust me]
Shatner's dad is missing. The devil worshipers got him. They want a book that's been in his family for centuries. Why are they just coming after it now? Who knows? Shatner goes after them. That turns out to be a mistake. Then his brother and psychic sister-in-law join in the fun. Of course, that was a mistake, too. Eddie Albert is the only one who seems to know anything about handling Satanists, and Borgnine is having a grand old time turning people into eyeless zombies.
It rains, they all melt, surprise ending, roll credits.
What can you say about a film in which the second half seems to be completely dominated by one extremely long scene where a bunch of devil worshipers melt? I could point out the overacting, but I've already told you Shatner is in it, so you've made that assumption yourself. I could tell you that Earnest Borgnine himself is the scariest thing about this film - especially when he doesn't have the demonic ram-like makeup on, which ironically makes him seem a little less threatening (the petting zoo effect, I suppose).
Perhaps I can give you some advice. Don't see this film alone. Not because it will frighten you at all, but rather because you need someone else to commiserate with you, and to debate what the nonsensical ending means. It's so schlocky, it's almost a must see.
THE FATAL PREMISE: Evil is done by evil people; I am not an evil person and therefore . . . I cannot do evil.This shows up in the lies.com blog today and it's something I've wanted to talk about for a while, but haven't had the time to elucidate. In lieu of good old writing my own opinions, at least I can link to some good ones.
But perhaps I'll take a moment to add to this.
Stories are boring when the bad guy is simply bad to the core, from the very beginning. Much more interesting is when the bad guy is just like you or me and ends up doing evil. Or, better still, you understand him at first, but through a series of small, nearly justifiable decisions he becomes the kind of person who makes evil decisions very easily. In short, he becomes an evil person (which to me really means, a person accustomed to evil).
Why are those stories more interesting? Because they challenge us a little more. They happen to be more like the truth which faces us in our real life. But it may be a hard truth to face. We don't want to think that we're at all like those that do evil. No one wants to think that. Well, most people probably don't.
But, back to the words quoted above, what happens when we don't adopt an attitude of introspection?
I was recently thinking about this and how it related to the "blame america first crowd" comment you hear from FOX News neo-cons. The longer you hear that particular criticism, the more it becomes obvious what it really is. Obviously, no one blames America first for everything. You don't blame America when your throat itches, you stub your toe and your car won't start. No, we're talking about people who are perceived as "blaming America" on certain issues. (this eliminates the "first")
So, now we have "the blame America crowd."
So, what, exactly is blame? Blame is placing responsibility. Some people would like to place some responsibility on America.
Who are these people in the crowd? They are, many of them, Americans. So, they aren't placing responsibility on others, they are taking responsibility, collectively, as Americans. Or, at least, they are considering America's responsibility and considering their responsibility as Americans.
Considering our responsibility is exactly how you act responsibly. You can't be responsible if you shirk your responsibilities; nor can you do so if you shift blame.
The same conservatives who toss around "blame America first" lament the eroding of taking responsibility. Some of those same folks are in power at the moment. Yet, blameshifting is rampant in our current administration.
Does anyone else see a disconnect here? Shifting blame is a tactic used to avoid introspection. And when you avoid introspection, falling prey to the Fatal Premise is all that much easier.
Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, captured the spirit of the moment when he told NPR that the Republican National Committee should foot the bill for Mr. Bush's extraordinary security, the largest police operation ever in Great Britain. All this, he harrumphed, "just so George Bush can use a few clips of him and the queen in his campaign advertisements for re-election next year."(Link - Maureen Dowd, NYT Editorial)
There was a dispiriting contrast between G.W.B. shutting out the world and avoiding the British public, and the black-and-white clips this week of J.F.K. reaching out to the world and being adored by Berliners.
There was also a dispiriting contrast between the Bush administration, hiding the returning coffins of U.S. soldiers and avoiding their funerals, and the moving pictures of the Italian politicians and people, honoring their dead with public ceremonies and a week of mourning.
The Senate has OK'ed a lifting of the ban on Sunday liquor sales. I'm glad to see this, not because I think that people ought to get liquored up on Sunday, but because I think the ban is senseless. And it's more potential revenue for the state, which is hurting.
Along with that, they have supported the idea of a sales tax holiday (it will be August 14). Both the blue law repeal and the tax holiday have to pass muster with the governor. We'll see how that goes.
What is certain is that smoking in the state's restaurants and taverns is history. The senate banned smoking with a veto-proof majority. Julie was complaining about the smoke in Davy's Locker the other day. As of next summer, there should be nothing to complain about on that account.
I hate smoking, so I'm happy to see this pass. The libertarian side of me is drowned out by my concern for the health of workers. The law allows for places like "cigar bars" which make their money primarily from tobacco products. I don't see this as infringing on liberties much at all. I'd be opposed to a ban on smoking itself, but a ban on smoking in workplaces makes sense to me.
I recently ran across another blogger's bio, which had a link to a picture of the blogger as a child. There was a typically self-deprecating remark attached to the picture about it being the 70's and that the picture is "embarrassing". It made me a little bit sad.
I don't know if I was always this way, or whether it happened after I became a parent. But in many of the pictures of children I see curiosity, hope and beauty. I think of my own kids and their dreams, and I see that in the photographs of other kids. I saw, in this child's eyes, a brightness. A fire.
I suppose I feel awkward about my own childhood photographs. I look at my own picture and see my mistakes. I see what could be improved. I wonder why I wasn't self conscious yet about A, B, and C. I look at the child through critical adult eyes. I've clearly lost something. Is it something I can get back? Is it something I want back?
As a parent, I think of how I sometimes feel (wrongly) that my children are an extension of me. When they make a mistake, sometimes I feel my self-criticism extending to them. As if they have my experience... as if they have my self-consciousness.
Maybe I should be helping them hold onto what I have lost, if there was good in it. I should let them sort out what will serve them best as they learn what they have to learn.
Here's your reward for reading the post to this point. If you miss being a child, please read on. Relax for a moment. Do you remember your childhood? Do you remember the good parts -- the good parts of "you" at a young age? Do you remember the feeling of potential that you may have had, and perhaps that you sensed the adults in your life had for you? I want to tell you that nothing has changed. That potential is still there. Every moment is filled with it. Sappy platitude? No, reality. Some of your boundaries are real, others are just ones you've built up around yourself. Look at the picture of that child (in a photograph or in your mind's eye). Your childhood body merely symbolizes that potential -- it's with you for the rest of your life. You can surprise yourself and others right up until your last breath.
Now, go do something crazy.
Here is the best explanation of how a CAT scan works that I have seen.
It's illustrated by a number of Java demonstrations culminating in a great simulation of how one slice is averaged from many X-Rays.
For those generally unfamiliar with the technology, a CAT scan is Computer Assisted Tomography. The technology is used to get a 3D look inside something (a body, usually) by generating slices with X-Rays. Since X-Rays usually produce a flattened picture the way we're used to thinking about them, rather than a slice, the really fascinating thing for me was how the heck do they generate a slice from multiple X-Rays. According to the explanation I linked to above, it's not quite as complicated as I thought. Narrow X-Rays from multiple angles are stretched out and then superimposed on one another, and in the process of superimposition, an accurate picture of a slice forms. Check out the link and see for yourself.
I remember as a child, thinking this word was "teatotaller" as in someone who drinks tea, not alcohol. But the actual origin of this word makes it more versatile than that. Born of the Temperance movement, a teetotaller was someone who abstained from alcohol "t-totally."
As with many words, tho exact origin of this one is murky. The amusing part is that it may actually have first been coined as a result of someone stuttering. "t-t-total"
Whatever the exact circumstances, it is acceptable to use the word in non-imbibing contexts. With teetotal confidence. But it sure sounds silly.
Rambling post of the day award:
Researchers identify rare "Foreign Accent Syndrome". The afflicted speak in a foreign accent after a brain injury. In the case of one Florida woman, a british accent manifested after she suffered a stroke.
Next up, Monty Python Syndrome which causes geeky teens to quote Monty Python sketches.
On a semi-related subject, I decided to Google "Monty Python Syndrome" and found this screed by a disgruntled fellow who doesn't like Homestar Runner. He leads me to coment thusly, in list form:
And to stretch this post out even further, I'm really hoping this event comes to RI... to the Cable Car or the Avon. Rejected rocks. Mike had a posting on his blog revealing where on the web you can see "Fifty Percent Grey"... but an animation festival isn't the same for me if you're not walking up and down Thayer St. just before, and perhaps getting a Spike's Junkyard Dog.
The highest court in Massachusetts ruled Tuesday it is unconstitutional for the state to deny marriage to gay and lesbian couples, a move that could make the state the first to legalize same-sex marriages. (via CNN)
UPDATED: More stories on this, with reactions: Cautious optimism, dismay greet gay marriage decision (via Boston.com)
"Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman," Romney said in a prepared statement. [...]Equal protection... wouldn't that mean equal access to marriage? That sounds like the most equal solution to me.
"We feel that today's radical decision ... must be reversed," said Gerry D'Avolio, executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, which speaks out on public policy issues for the Roman Catholic church in the state. "As devastating as the ruling is, it will not end the debate." [...]
"This has been a ticking time bomb in America for the last several months that has exploded in Massachusetts," [said Ray Flynn] [...]
Sen. John Kerry, a Democratic presidential contender, said, "while I continue to oppose gay marriage, I believe that today's decision calls on the Massachusetts state Legislature to take action to ensure equal protection for gay couples. These protections are long overdue."
I left my cell phone in my jacket pocket last night, which is unusual. And, of course, I left the jacket itself downstairs far from where I could hear it. So, when the doctor's office called back with the CAT scan results, all I got was a message.
"Your test results are in. Please call back tomorrow during office hours and ask to speak with Rosie."
I only thought to check my phone after I got into the car. So I set up the hands free set and the car recharger and called away.
After waiting through a menu and a few minutes of hold, I got through to the office and asked for Rosie. She was occupied. It was back on hold for me.
As I sat there on hold waiting for Rosie, I thought about a lot of things. I thought of my doctor finding an unexplained swelling above my clavicle, possibly a fatty pad. I remembered him discussing the possibility it was cause by an excess of cortisol in the bloodstream, causing Cushing's Syndrome (a malady I'm closely familiar with from an observation standpoint). I remember how, when those tests came back negative, I wondered what the heck the supraclavicular swelling could be.
I remembered the first time I learned that Poland's Syndrome (a defect I was born with) is associated with lymphoma. And that it is unusual for a swollen supraclavicular lymph node to be something other than a tumor.
I had about 30 minutes on hold to think about all this before I got my results. Negative for lymph node abnormalities.
Positive for the rest of my day.
At first blush, this Bend It Like Beckham is like Sixteen Candles, noted Maggie while we were watching the beginning of the film. It's about a girl who is overshadowed by the details surrounding the commencement of her sister's wedding. But that is just one aspect of a surprisingly complex and heartwarming film. And it's not just the addition of soccer that makes it so.
Jess Bhamra (played by Parminder K. Nagra) is tied down by her family's orthodox Sikh culture. When footballer Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley) notices her skills playing in the park against some young men, she gets Jess involved with a young womans' football league. The events snowball from there, causing her to have to lie to her family increasingly to hide her activities from them. Eventually, it comes to a head.
Along the way, there is plenty of humor. Jules' family, though they are brittish, have their own problems with her footballing, different than Jess' Sikh problems. Jules' mother is a bit worried no man would be interested in her daughter, because of footballing. (please, suspend your disbelief)
This story does not go for the easy solution to Jess' problems. Although it does take a couple of Hollywood turns, we would be cheated if after all her struggling, Jess somehow saw that the sneaky solution was staring her in the face all along. No, when the house lights go up we need to know that Jess is still part of her loving, if overbearing family. Just as a child grows and matures, a parents love matures from something simple and a little selfish into something much more rich and beautiful. But look out for the growing pains.
Maggie and I were with Julie on Sunday evening for a little shopping trip to the Home Depot plaza in Taunton in Rte. 140. Maggie had walked from Kohl's to theStarbuck's because it was easier to take the short walk then to pile back into my Saturn's tiny back seat between the girls' two car seats for the short ride.
I drove up the hill slowly from the back of the vast, sprawling plaza, and that's when Julie noted that something was going on up ahead. There were police lights flashing at the entrance to the plaza, twinkling but quiet at this distance. Once Maggie had squirmed back into her seat, we approached route 140 and saw the remains of an accident.
"What's going on?" Mattie was curious.
"Don't look, girls." Maggie replied. Later she would say to me "There was blood everywhere. Didn't you see it?" I was driving, and trying to pay attention to the traffic. All I saw was some debris scattered in the road, surrounded by cars, and then one car that looked dented in the front.
It was an automobile vs. motorcycle. One of four fatalities this weekend in south Massachusetts due to three fatal automobile accidents. One of the other 3 accidents claimed two lives in New Bedford on Saturday
I feel less like posting something very negative when it is early in the morning. It's true, that I get up, hop on the internet feed and look over some of the news and often have a negative reaction to what I am seeing there. But if I had my druthers, I'd post about something positive the first thing in the morning. Too much negativity sits like a sour ball in your empty stomach, first thing in the morning.
As the day wears on and you hear from people you know, listen to the radio, catch a bit of TV, you are steeped more and more in the world around you. And, in my experience, this fills up my buffer to the point where I feel compelled to post something negative... about the president, about the world situation... whatever.
Regarding negativity about the president: after all is said and done, he is still our president. So shouldn't I cut him some major slack? If I were posting every single negative thought I had about the president here, then I would have little room for fun stuff. And, since I need that fun stuff, the president gets an automatic break. Enjoy it, Mr. Bush! Every time you see a non-Bush themed post, that's the slack I'm cutting you.
So, what does JP see when he pulls up the Google news this morning? Let's take a look at the damage.
Gov-elect compiles a Bipartisan Team - Groper or no, I think Arnold may have his heart in the right place. I don't know for sure, but he hasn't had a chance to prove himself yet. I think it's going to be mighty interesting. It's upsetting for a Bush opponent to think that Arnold may help the president get re-elected. On the other hand, I figure Arnold has enough loose cannon in him to make some trouble. We'll see!
Turkey Probes Istanbul Synagogue Bombings - Al Qaida, alive and kicking? Already at this point I'm ready to move on to doing something productive, rather than reading the news.
Didn't take long, did it? But let's push on valiantly.
Bill Gates unveils new spam filter - Wow - Bill Gates is going to do something Apple has already been doing with the OSX Mail client. And the word is that Microsoft is planning to create its own iTunes-type music store. Some things never change. I suppose that's comforting!
President leads mourning for Country's war dead - That would be Italy's president.
Even "Oddly Enough" is disappointing me today. The most noteworthy story is a downer. Hanging Corpse Admired as Sculpture on Campus. A suicide victim is thought to be art for a whole day before anyone thought to check whether it was a real person or not.
On second thought, perhaps it's good that they didn't, right at first, assume it was someone who had killed himself. Is there a ray of optimism peeking through this story?
Rob makes stuff, and he shows it all on his "Cockeyed" website. That kind of stuff does he make? Metallic wings, burning cat sculptures, wild halloween costumes, a hypno-wheel...
This guy is an artist, a craftsman, and a great source of ideas and inspiration. Makes me wish I had found his site before Halloween.
You could spend hours on the rest of Rob Cockerham's website, which includes all sorts of stuff I wish I had done.
If your eyes are tired, then just listen to the NPR interview. Scroll down to "How Much Is Inside."
Democrats have successfully blocked 4 of Bush's judicial nominees. 168 have been confirmed. Merely 4 were blocked -- 4 right ideological heavies.
Now the whining of the Republican Pity Party has begun. They cry foul regarding the fillibustering and blocking. They've dug up quotes from past years when Democrats have decried Republican attempts to block judicial nominees.
The Democrats seem to have taken a page out of the Republican playbook and used it successfully after concluding that it is the only way to add a modicum of balance to the nominaiton process. Is that so surprising? Aren't there supposed to be checks and balances in this situation, or is the party in power supposed to run roughshod over the judicial system while everyone just watches?
The Democrats chose not to fillibuster 98 percent of the confirmation votes which hit the Senate floor. 98 percent. The Republican Pity Party sees anything less than 100% of the pie as a reason to take to the air waves, wailing, rending their clothes and declaring "woe is me."
Neither party has cornered the market on childish behavior, but this is almost making me laugh, it's such an example of right wingnut spin. Only the most thirsty Kool Aid drinkers could look at this situation and call it unfair. And they are. (story found on Watchblog)
See also the children's book "The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Night" (in PDF) that the Democrats have written based on this whole business.
Blogger Support has official recommendations on what to do if your mom finds youf blog. Inspired by a story at The Onion.
Important News! A pint a day may keep the blood clots away. That's what a Wisconsin group has found through their research. As reported by the BBC, dogs given the equivalent of one pint of Guinness every day had a reduced clotting factor. The same effect was not seen when lager was tested.
It's good to be a dog in Wisconsin. (via daleynews)
Dr. Who is back, this time in online webcasts from BBCi. The latest story is Scream of the Shalka. Only episode 1 is currently available, with a new episode appearing each week.
I watched the Jessica Lynch interview the other night. Her situation does not need to be hashed out here yet again, though I will say that I agreed with her when she expressed the opinion that her story was overexposed and used:
They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It's wrong.No matter what her opinions are, Ms. Lynch is much more interesting as a real person (judging from the interview) than as a news story or a made-for-TV movie.
But let me tell you what really pissed me off. During this interview, while we are hearing about the death of 11soldiers who were also involved in that ambush, the local ABC affiliate flashed the following message up on the screen: Nude Lynch Photos; New at 11:00.
What the hell were they thinking? I won't go into the story that they were trying to hook viewers in with, but this strikes me as one of the more exploitative uses of Lynch yet. While the national ABC is making a pretty decent attempt at telling Lynch's story in a non-sensational way, they caption her with a nude photo story. Not only that, but they make it sound like they're broadcasting the photos at 11!
I've been offended before by local news, but this is a new low. Or, if it isn't a new low, then there appears to be a lot of room at the bottom of the barrel.
I completely spaced out jury duty once. I was just laid off, so I'd had a lot on my mind. When I called up the courthouse the woman told me just to come in the next day.
I went in the next day and the clerk was all snooty. "If you'd come in yesterday you would have been dismissed. Today we have a trial." I told her "Great! I just lost my job and I'm looking for something to do anyhow." Pthhhhh.
The moral of this story is, keep your schadenfreude to yourself.
(This post inspired by Beth's Jury-related post on dreaming in denmark.)
On the subject of Beggin' Strips, Steven @ The Sneeze says:Chuck Told Me Not To" post. And subsequent follow-ups.
Move over Angle Grinder Man and his ilk, as this post shows, there's a new breed of fed up citizen. This fellow admirably tracks down a blog spammer and gives him what-for! Is anyone else reminded just a little bit of that scene in Punch Drunk Love with Phillip Seymore Hoffman?
(Angle Grinder man, FYI, is the vigilante fellow in the UK going around freeing people from the Denver Boot. His website here)
When I say "as planned" I'm referring, of course, to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Scott Ritter writes of finding evidence during his search for WMDs that Saddam was preparing for just such a war as we are now seeing.
What I saw - and passed on to US intelligence agencies - were what might be called the blueprints of the postwar insurgency that the US now faces in Iraq. And they implied two important facts that US authorities must understand:Perhaps the Bush administration is aware of this, despite their public pronouncements. But the Bush strategy continues to baffle me. Wouldn't it be better to say you knew this was going to happen, prepare for it and then execute your plan? I expect so... unless you didn't expect and plan for it. And then the only way to continue politically is to slime and defend, spin and distort.
o The tools and tactics killing Americans today in Iraq are those of the former regime, not imported from abroad.
o The anti-US resistance in Iraq today is Iraqi in nature, and more broadly based and deeply rooted than acknowledged.
I think some things are going very well in Iraq at the moment. But how well will those things be going in Iraq if we're looking at a long term city-based guerrilla war being fought not by foreigners, but by Iraqis themselves (even if they are from the former regime)? If this war is a long hard slog, when does the actual peace and democracy begin? And when the hell do we get our troops home?
Behold the mighty tomacco. A man grafted a tomato plant to a tobacco root and got a hybrid that produces (likely lethal) nicotine-enriched tomatoes.
I'm sorry - tomaccos.
Inspired by a Simpson's episode, which was likely, in turn, inspired by a study in the 50's. (Thanks, Rui)
Billmon at Whiskey Bar has a post about how a certain segment of the media begins to turn its Lynch coverage from Hero to Zero as she has dared to assert herself as more than a propaganda sound bite.
The pathology of the conservative media drives it to have an easy judgement about everything. Easy judgement memes spread more easily than more complex conclusions. It's been a long time since color TV became the standard. Who knew that were headed for black and white radio and TV.
[Addendum: I don't like calling the crazed lunatics on talk radio "conservative media."It's not necessarily accurate. But I don't know what to call them. At the moment they're scoundrels who will spin anything to pursue an anti-liberal agenda. They are more anti-liberals and pro-Bush than conservatives.]
Today's (first) post is all cowbell-related. To understand this post, you have to have seen or heard of the Christopher Walken/Will Ferrell Blue Oyster Cult parody of "Behind The Music." (if you haven't seen it, and the link hasn't been removed, it can be seen here) It's another skit where Jimmy Fallon can't help but laugh.
Two weeks ago, after spending the day visiting the wounded at Walter Reed, the same hospital where Private Lynch recuperated upon returning to the United States, Cher, of all people, crystallized the game plan. She called into C-Span to tell of her experience talking with "a boy about 19 or 20 who had lost both his arms" and then asked: "Why are none of Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bremer, the president ó why aren't they taking pictures with all these guys? Because I don't understand why these guys are so hidden and why there aren't pictures of them."The NYT is running "Pfc. Jessica Lynch Isn't Rambo Anymore" by Frank Rich, discussing how Lynch was used.
I think Jessica Lynch is, in some ways, a symbol of this war, but not in the way the powers that be would have liked. Here you have a brave (though she'd probably deny it) young person who did her part to help her country in its time of need at great personal cost. We should all be thankful for what Ms. Lynch has done for us. At the same time, we have a cynical administration (and its neocon supporters) first using young people by sending them on this Iraqi errand and then using Ms. Lynch further by distorting her story.
I wasn't going to watch any fictionalized account of Ms. Lynch's rescue, but after reading the NYT story, I think I might consider catching tonight's "Saving Jessica Lynch" because Ms. Lynch's story is likely going to be part of the history of this war, and that history is still being written and re-written into the consciousness of America.
For those who haven't seen the trailers, it's a film about a man who was raised by Christmas elves, and subsequently seeks out his father in New York city.
The film is powered by Ferrell's energy and his wide-eyed wonder. It's cute, and quite a bit of fun. On the negative side, the plot of the film does not feel like it flows forward naturally, but rather as if it is forced. What saves the film is the sincerity with which Ferrell can pull off the Buddy the Elf character and how his kindness rubs off on the other people in the film.
Buddy's effect on people is summarized in his relationship with Jovie, played by Zooey Deschanel. At first, she's pretty weirded out by Buddy, but the kindness that underscores his actions shines through what he does, and she's quickly intrigued and then enamored of him. As an audience, we don't get too emotionally involved with him, there isn't time for it. The director sticks to the strength of Buddy, which is Ferrell's goofy portrayal.
As a Christmas movie, the message is decent. It isn't really about accepting Buddy, or believing in Santa Clause (which it might seem to be on the surface). It's really about believing in ourselves and letting everything else follow.
The kids enjoyed it, but it isn't paced as well as most kid movies. This one is better meant for young-at-heart adults.
Electronic Deposit of Tax Refund of $1 Million or MoreSo adjust your withholding, kiddies and you, too, could be lucky enough to use form 8302!
Purpose of Form
File Form 8302 to request that the IRS electronically deposit a tax refund of $1 million or more directly into an account at any U.S. bank or other financial institution (such as a mutual fund, credit union, or brokerage firm) that accepts electronic deposits. The benefits of an electronic deposit include a faster refund, the added security of a paperless payment, and the savings of tax dollars associated with the reduced processing costs.
Shots at Fox are like shooting fish in a barrel. It's cheap Friday blogcandy.
Nevertheless, this morning I saw two brief glimpses of FOX News, mere minutes each time, and realized that it only takes seconds of watching FOX's news organization in action before you see someone say or do something inane.
I turned the TV on and it happened to be on a FOX station -- I have no idea what program they were showing. Their morning news, I assume. There was a Limbaugh wannabee on talking to two other folks about Kennedy receiving an award from the GHW Bush library (previously posted here, another story about it here.) Okay - they were saying Kennedy didn't deserve the award. Typical fare, no surprise. But apparently that wasn't bad enough. The guy went on to say that Kennedy shouldn't have accepted the award. I'm paraphrasing here, but he said that if it were any other person, any respectful person would have said "No thanks."
Excuse me? A former president wants to honor your contribution to our nation and the respectful thing to do is to tell him to take a hike?
About an 40 minutes later I turned off the videotape I was watching and the same show was still on. The same dweeb was still on the show. This time he was making fun of a cameraman who fell over while he was covering a news story. The poor guy tripped on a fire hydrant. They showed it over and over and over again (I must have seen the fall literally 14 times in the span of about 4 minutes.) What made the cameraman's misfortune newsworthy for the FOX audience? He was covering a Kerry rally.
See the humor in it? Ha ha. Cameraman covering Kerry rally fall down go boom. You think there are many people in their regular viewing audience complaining about the quality of that programming. I bet not.
Then I realized that I had spelled it wrong in that previous post. It's "Cthulhu Fhtaghn!" That explains it.
But in the process I found this cute blog entry that was Cthulhu-related. You go, Judge Moore! Score one for the deep ones.
When my friends and I were but wee bairns, (OK, we were teenagers) we used to read H. P. Lovecraft, and eventually we came upon the Ed Simon version of the Necronomicon. (see it here online, at the time of this posting) We sensed it was a goofy joke of a book, but it was fun creeping ourselves out and making stupid references to it. We did have a few acquaintences who took it too seriously.
One fellow called Brian's house late one night in a panic because he had been reading the spells aloud at midnight and was worried that deep ones were going to materialize at any moment to drag him off to R'lyeh. Bill nearly made him wet his pants when he said "Uh oh" in response to pretty much every detail the poor fellow recounted about how he had gone about reading the book. Ah, the fun of a misspent youth!
Speaking of which, I have to dig up my ouija board to hide in the house somewhere so the girls can find it when they're 12 and have a giggle over it.
Okay, so I had a strange teenagehood. Don't make fun of me, or you'll find Yog Sothoth knocking on your door.
RetroCrush has a list of (in their estimation) the 100 scariest movie scenes. It's a great list really. Creative, too. Any scary film list that's got a scene from Dumbo in it has got to get your attention. And check out scare #61. Ewww. These lists are great for reminding you of movies you really need to watch again, or perhaps have never seen and need to rent. F'rinstance, I own Jaws on DVD but haven't watched it recently. That film needs to be watched again. The Wicker Man was on my long Netflix queue, and now I'm moving it up.
But no list like this can be complete. Where is the finale of Odishon on this list? There's a scary scene. Definitely not suitable for younger viewers, and worthy of anyone's freakish "movie scares" list.
I know we can expand the horizons. I want to produce my own list from my movie-watching experiences and those of my friends. The list will be "n" entries long. I don't care if it overlaps with the RetroCrush list, but I already know there will be scenes on it that they don't have. My readers are creative folks, and perhaps a little twisted. Send me your favorite scary scenes from film. Made-for-TV-movies count, too. Send me as many scenes as you can think of. Do it in email or as a comment to this entry. After an unspecified amount of time (probably within the next month) I will put together our list of scariest scenes onto a nifty blog entry, or perhaps its own web page.
Don't be shy. Send 'em along. Show the world that we can make cool lists. Cite the specific scene. I'll attribute your suggestions in the final list.
Snopes recounts the story of death notices requesting that donations in honor of the deceased be sent to any organization seeking the removal of GWB.
In other news, the NYT is running a story claiming that Iraq tried to reach out to the US to come to a peace agreement before the war. It reportedly included holding elections.
Mr. Obeidi told Mr. Hage that Iraq would make deals to avoid war, including helping in the Mideast peace process. "He said, if this is about oil, we will talk about U.S. oil concessions," Mr. Hage recalled. "If it is about the peace process, then we can talk. If this is about weapons of mass destruction, let the Americans send over their people. There are no weapons of mass destruction."
Mr. Obeidi said the "Americans could send 2,000 F.B.I. agents to look wherever they wanted," Mr. Hage recalled.
He said that when he told Mr. Obeidi that the United States seemed adamant that Saddam Hussein give up power, Mr. Obeidi bristled, saying that would be capitulation. But later, Mr. Hage recounted, Mr. Obeidi said Iraq could agree to hold elections within the next two years.
Chuck, a consummate watcher of bad movies (I said consummate!) knew the source of yesterday's quote:
The movie is "They Live". I think the most notable acting talent in the movie was the lovely Meg Foster. A fun movie overall which doesn't take itself too seriously.The IMDB entry for "They Live" contains some of the memorable quotes. While Chuck refers to it as a fun movie, I have to warn you that it's not one of John Carpenter's best efforts. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper stars in it, and delivers the previously mentioned line. But it's slow. The pacing is more like a 70's movie than something made in 1988. It's likely that was intentional.
If you want a fun John Carpenter movie that doesn't take itself too seriously, in my not so humble opinion you ought to take a look at "Escape From New York", or "Big Trouble in Little China". When he takes a film a little more seriously, you get Halloween or The Thing. But, "They Live" isn't such a bad way to throw away 93 minutes of your life, as long as you don't watch it alone.
Anyone have a favorite John Carpenter flick? Fess up in the comments. (and kudos to Brandon for at least guessing a different John Carpenter film. So close!)
The other day I raked the yard and made a few large piles of leaves. We only had two recyclable lawn refuse bags, so I shoved as many of the leaves in them as I could (standing on the leaves to compact them). I filled both bags easily, plus a barrel. And there are still a lot of leaves left over. The bags and barrel were left on the curb for the yard waste folks to pick up.
Yesterday, as I was pulling out of the driveway, I noticed that the lawn waste bags were gone, but the barrel was still full. I thought perhaps the yard waste puckup had rejected emptying the barrel for some unknown reason, but had picked up the bags.
However, they hadn't come by. When Maggie called me later, she told me that everyone else on the street still had yard waste out. My two quite-filled leaf bags were missing. They were heavy enough that the wind shouldn't have affected them much. We looked down the street to see if they had rolled away... the bags are nowhere in sight. They are gone... leaves and all. There is no pile of compacted leaves near where the bags were.
Why would someone take two, somewhat heavy, leaf-filled yard waste bags? Seriously? What happened to them?
An aggregator is client software which reads content from all of your favorite blogs and let's you organize it in one place for easy reading. There are a number of decent aggregators, but how one reads one's news is a matter of personal taste.
Blog authors often publish their content in (at least) two ways. The main way is, of course, what you see on my blog's main page. A second, machine-readable "feed" is often published in some format using XML. We call this "syndication." You can find the link to my syndicated feed in my sidebar under "Syndicate this site (XML)." I haven't made the link very prominent because my feed is extremely rudimentary (it only publishes an unformatted excerpt from my blog entries). Better feeds contain the whole entry, including links and formatting. These feeds are often referred to as "RSS feeds." Don't ask what it stands for.
Adding a syndication feed to an aggregator client allows you to see when new stories have appeared on a number of sites at once by simply launching (or visiting) your aggregator.
I have tried a number of aggregator clients, and if you're looking for an aggregation solution, you might be interested in some of them.
First, there is NewzCrawler. I bought this shareware product because it is so full-featured. It can keep track of sites that do not have a syndication feed. This is handy. It also can allow blog authors to post to their blogs. It's got a "publish" feature which lets you generate HTML pages almost as if it is a blogging client itself. I haven't figured that bit out yet. NewzCrawler is the most full-featured aggregator I've seen. It will even grab RSS feeds automatically while you're browsing the web (if you use Internet Explorer... I don't think it works with my darling Mozilla Firebird). One problem with NewzCrawler is it is a little daunting. It does so much. To its credit, it is not difficult to use. (Windows Only)
Recently, a friend recommended the SharpReader aggregator client. I've only dabbled with it a bit, but it is nice and simple. It's slow to start up on my machine for some reason, which made a bad first impression, but I htink it is an excellent choice for something small which gets the job done. And, it lets you use your favorite browser to view pages.(Windows Only)
AmphetaDesk has one advantage over some of the other aggregators. It's cross-platform. It uses a server running on your machine to server HTML to your browser, so you usually don't see the client running. I tried it on my Mac, but I think it was a bit overkill for what I wanted.
On the Mac, the best news aggregator appears to be NetNewsWire. I think it's quite good, actually a lot like SharpReader. It supports RSS autodiscovery, so you don't have to track down that feed link. All you have to do is give it the website's address.
Another cross-platform solution is to use software running on someone else's machine. A web-based solution. One I recently discovered is BlogLines. Bloglines has the advantage of not installing anything on your machine, and you can use it from multiple locations because all the info is stored on their server. My feed looks really crappy on it, but that's the fault of my feed (another reason for me to get off my butt and improve the feed).
No matter how many aggregators I try, however, the service I use the most is "blo.gs" Blo.gs watches for signs that a weblog has been updated (via a ping mechanism, or if that site appears on the weblogs.com updated list) and lists your favorite blogs in the order that they have been updated, from most recent down. I've found this very useful, except that there are a number of blogs which do not notify blo.gs, and therefore do not show up as updated, even when they are. Also, some sites aren't known by blo.gs (though you can ping them yourself and get them added to the list). You can view your blo.gs favorites in a tiny popup window, or (my favorite method) in a Netscape sidebar which acts as a little navigation bar -- linking blogs into your main browser frame. The best thing about blo.gs is that you're always viewing the blog through the blog author's main page. But it doesn't break out the stories for you, because it isn't an aggregator, just a notification service and a place to store your favorites.
Well, there's a not-very-in-depth summary of the aggregators I've tried. I haven't decided which I like best. None of them seem to really offer what I want -- a simple way to sort stories across blogs by date (mixing the content of multiple blogs). For now, I'm sticking with blo.gs and perhaps Bloglines.
This seems to cover it. You have the manic flash animation. You have the cute, but incomprehensible flash animation. And then there is the inscrutible and more than a little disturbing flash animation. All at the same website. That last one indicates to me that the author needs to contact a good therapist. Soon.
Who says irony is dead? An abbington woman died in an accident yesterday while talking to her friend on her cell phone. Her last words informed the friend that she was about to get into an accident... right before she ploughed her car into a Cingular cell phone store.
Yes, you read that right. Sadly for her and her family, according to Boston.com, this woman died in surgery afterward. On the bright side, it doesn't appear she took anyone with her.
Folks - be careful out there.
If you blinked, you missed this post.
Trent Lott is a well-known whackjob. Even the administration sent a strong message that Republicans should distance themselves from him. So it hardly seems worth the time to point out he's gone and said something stupid again.
"If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You're dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out."Trent - our man-on-the-spot with the genocide solution. Bonehead. It wouldn't be worth posting if I didn't think it wasn't a sentiment other people shared. Trent Lott is a loony, but I don't think he blurts something like this out unless he's found some sort of comfort level with it in the people around him.