Wednesday, August 31, 2005

And they would probably bludgeon Hank Williams Jr. to death

A small injection of levity for these incredibly grim times:
23,000 Superdome refugees boarding buses for Astrodome
How much do you want to bet that these people, when it's finally all over, won't want to even hear the word "Football"?

Postscript: My bad. The Astrodome is mainly a baseball stadium. So lets just say these poor folks will be off sports in general for awhile.

Chicken Caesar Review: Sticky Fingers

Mrs. Mosley thought I was touched in the head to be ordering a Chicken Caesar Salad at a great BBQ place like Sticky Fingers, but dammit, I've got reviews to write! Their Grilled Chicken Caesar, which costs $6.99, include slices of grilled breast of chicken heaped atop Romaine lettuce and garnished with tomatoes, croutons and fresh Parmesan cheese.

First off, I should mention that you can get the salad with BBQ chicken instead of grilled. That would have made an interesting salad, but I wanted to be consistent with my other reviews. Second of all, there were no croutons. I decided long ago not to mention things like this to the waitress because they should have made it right the first time. Third, they committed the cardinal salad sin: it was not tossed. Instead, we have a bed of fresh lettuce cut into large-ish pieces surrounded by small tomato slices, sprinkled with cheese and chicken, with dressing on the side. The individual ingredients are all very tasty, but it's a pretty boring salad over all. The strongest element is the chicken, cut into strips, which has a very tasty wood smoke flavor.

They try to be arty with this salad, but it really has no style of its own. I suppose it's forgivable, as these folks specialize in great BBQ, which is what I suggest you order if you ever find yourself there.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

No witty title. Too busy thumping my head against the wall.

Well, "Intelligent Design" has taken a turn for the depressing:

Dinny the roadside dinosaur has found religion.

The 45-foot-high concrete apatosaurus has towered over Interstate 10 near Palm Springs for nearly three decades as a kitschy prehistoric pit stop for tourists.

Now he is the star of a renovated attraction that disputes the fact that dinosaurs died off millions of years before humans first walked the planet.

Dinny's new owners, pointing to the Book of Genesis, contend that most dinosaurs arrived on Earth the same day as Adam and Eve, some 6,000 years ago, and later marched two by two onto Noah's Ark. The gift shop at the attraction, called the Cabazon Dinosaurs, sells toy dinosaurs whose labels warn, "Don't swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution."

The Cabazon Dinosaurs join at least half a dozen other roadside attractions nationwide that use the giant reptiles' popularity in seeking to win converts to creationism. And more are on the way.

"We're putting evolutionists on notice: We're taking the dinosaurs back," said Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian group building a $25-million creationist museum in Petersburg, Ky., that's already overrun with model sauropods and velociraptors.

"They're used to teach people that there's no God, and they're used to brainwash people," he said. "Evolutionists get very upset when we use dinosaurs. That's their star."

You know, I don't like to make these kind of points about certain people's religious beliefs, but these people are forcing me to. Are they trying to tell me that the existence of Angels today is believable and credible, but the existence of Dinosaurs more than 6,000 years ago is an absurd concept?!?!?!? If so, let me express my feelings to them in words that they are sure to understand:


(On a related note, check out Nathan's dealings with some similarly deluded individuals)

Sitcom plot convention #5783

Yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call from Mrs. Mosley. She had just checked our phone messages and found one from a friend of ours. She related the message that another friend, Will, had suffered a heart attack last week and had undergone quintuple bypass surgery. It should be mentioned that Will is 33 years old and skinny as a rail. He also gets very little sleep, has odd eating habits and a very stressful job, so the heart attack wasn't all that improbable.

Needless to say, this news freaked me out. Will is one of my oldest friends from college and the thought of him getting this close to death is really distressing. Naturally, I called him up soon after getting off the phone with Mrs. Mosley. He answered at home (he's between jobs right now) and I started in with a purposely mundane, "So. What's new?".

And so the conversation went. I asked if it was stress, food, genetic or a combination of any of the above. He said mostly genetic and food, which surprised me. I asked all the other questions you'd expect: How are you feeling? How's your wife holding up? Is there a special diet prescribed by the doctor? And so on. During the conversation, he repeatedly referred to himself in the third person in terms of being a heart attack victim. I thought this was a little odd, but went along with it. Will can be weird like that, and I can imagine someone wanting to psychologically distance oneself from the person fragile enough to suffer something like this.

Anyway, I eventually said my goodbyes and promised to get together with him in a couple weeks after my vacation. I went about the rest of my work day, carpooled with Mrs. Mosley back home, and started to get ready for a trip out to the mall that night. As I did this, we talked about our day and, naturally, Will came up. I once again expressed my bewilderment that such a thing could happen to him. She responded kind of bewildered herself, saying that she didn't realize I knew the guy that well.

"What do you mean I don't know Will that well?" I asked incredulously.

"Not Will," she replied. "Will's DAD."

I froze where I was standing as comprehension hit me. It hit her as well, and her reaction was instinctual and expected: she busted out laughing. I immediately tracked down the cordless phone and punched in his number, all the while she was in hysterics and asking me how in hell both Will and I could conduct an entire phone conversation talking about two different people.

Will answered on the third ring and I said, "Hi. Did you find anything odd about our phone conversation this afternoon?" I then went into the whole explanation and comprehension dawned on him as well. "Yeah, I did notice there was something odd about the way you were speaking, " he said. Well, we all had a laugh at this (Mrs. Mosely continued to laugh hardest of all). I told him my relief that he was OK and expressed my sympathies for his father. I again promised to see him soon and said goodbye.

All this because she said "Will's Dad" and I didn't hear the "s Dad" part. Our only regret? We both wish that mine and Will's phone conversation was an online chat session so we would have a record of how the damn thing was structured. Pity.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I hope Brooke Shields was worth it

So Matt Dillon was recently asked if he regretted turning down a role in the 1980 hit Blue Lagoon. His reply was "No", for which he cites a number of reasons.

But never mind the reasons. Why was this question asked in the first place? I mean, we're talking about Matt Dillon, who this year has had a critical successes (Crash) and a commercial one (Herbie: Fully Loaded). The guy is a fairly well known celebrity who has done some very good work (Including, I might add, a bitchin' audiobook version of Jack Kerouac's On the Road).

Christopher Atkins, who was the one who eventually took the role in Blue Lagoon, had his last big success with ... um ... er ... hold on. I'm checking through the IMDb credits right now. There's, uh ... hmm ... Ah, there's ... oh no, I was thinking of something else ... uh ... does a Red Shoes Diaries sequel count as a success? No? Ah, well ... let's just say that I hope the Blue Lagoon DVD is selling well.

Spam, Baked Beans, Spam

Whoa! Since when was my blog a popular spam target? I got hit in a major way today, so I have enabled the Word Verification option for my comments section.

Skippy of the Day: John Loftus

The quote:

"Mistakes happen...I'm terribly sorry about that. I had no idea. That was the best information we had at the time."
The story:

A couple whose home was wrongly identified on national television as belonging to an Islamic radical has faced harassment, and police are providing special protection.

After the report ran on Fox News on Aug. 7, people have shouted profanities at Randy and Ronnell Vorick and spray-painted "terrorist" (spelling it "terrist") on their property.

"I'm scared to go to work and leave my kids home. I call them every 30 minutes to make sure they're OK," Randy Vorick said.

John Loftus, a former federal prosecutor who appears on the Fox News segment "Inside Scoop with John Loftus," gave out the house address during the broadcast.

He said the home belonged to Iyad Hilal, whose group, Loftus said, has ties to those responsible for the July 7 bombings in London. But Hilal moved out of the house about three years ago.

Police have patrolled their house since the day after the broadcast and now have a squad car across the street. Police Capt. John Rees said the department was "giving special attention to the family to make sure they're safe."

The couple sought a public apology and correction.

"John Loftus has been reprimanded for his careless error, and we sincerely apologize to the family," said Fox spokeswoman Irena Brigante.

Loftus also apologized and told the Los Angeles Times last week that "mistakes happen. ... That was the best information we had at the time."
It's common knowledge that FOX news has a lot in common ideologically with the Bush administration. Now they have something else in common: A piss-poor ability to gather accurate and current information.

Three things concerning Katrina

Number One: It goes without saying but I'll say it anyway. First and foremost, our hearts go out to those folks in Louisiana and Mississippi. Mrs. Mosley is grateful that all of her family is in the northern part of Mississippi, but both of us are thinking of you folks in the south. Take care and be careful.

Number Two: OK, we live in an age of satellite tracking and computer imaging and whatnot. I think that reporters can stop going to places like New Orleans to report about the storm. We know it's there and we know it's bad. We don't need you risking life and limb because of it. So please, Carl Quintanilla, get the hell out of there!

Number Three: George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential debates -

"What I think the president ought to do is he ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say we expect you to open your spigots. One reason why the price is so high is because the price of crude oil has been driven up. OPEC has gotten its supply act together, and it's driving the price, like it did in the past. And the president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price."
Gas Price statistics for August -

08/01/05 - $2.291
08/08/05 - $2.368
08/15/05 - $2.550
08/22/05 - $2.612
The EIA doesn't have information for today yet, but most likely it will be much higher due to Katrina. I think it's time Dubya stop taking hand-holding walks with the leader of Saudi Arabia and start applying pressure, or "jawbone" if you prefer, for more oil output. Otherwise, we'll be seeing $3.00 a gallon gas before Christmas. Enough is enough, George.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Bush Tapes

Last week, I posted a brief link to an article from Capitol Hill Blue that discussed how our President may just be losing his mind. As convincing as the article was, I took it with a grain of salt. Now comes a follow up that's even more brutal than the last one and paints our current commander-in-chief as b*tsh*t insane. Here's the first five paragraphs (and I've placed asterisks where appropriate):
While President George W. Bush travels around the country in a last-ditch effort to sell his Iraq war, White House aides scramble frantically behind the scenes to hide the dark mood of an increasingly angry leader who unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him.

"I'm not meeting again with that g*dd*mned bitch," Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet again with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. "She can go to hell as far as I'm concerned!"

Bush, administration aides confide, frequently explodes into tirades over those who protest the war, calling them "motherf*cking traitors." He reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore "bullsh*t protectors" over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to "tell those VFW assh*les that I'll never speak to them again is they can't keep their members under control."

White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President's honesty.

"Who gives a flying f*ck what the polls say," he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. "I'm the President and I'll do whatever I g*dd*mned please. They don't know sh*t."

There's more. Oh brother is there more.

Do we dare believe such things? This website news publication has been online for over a decade and apparently has a reputation of being non-partisan and brutal. Indeed, briefif look through their archives show they were no friend of Bill Clinton. They are equal opportunity journalists that always go for the jugular and count as a point of pride their devotion to backing up their stories with credible, albeit anonymous, sources.

What the article does bring to my mind is what I believe is the only real way that Bush's hard core supporters will ever sway from his side. Namely, if he ever makes a spectacle of himself like this on tape. When it comes to all the wrong things he has done and all the bad things that have come from his decisions, Bush supporters will rationalize it to their last dying breath. A true showing of his character, however, would be a different story.

I don't really want to make a comparison to Nixon here, because as shocking as people found Tricky Dick's cursing in those infamous tapes, the times have changed to the point that swearing alone wouldn't do Bush in. But if he comes through as a cold hearted bastard and egomaniac, as he does in the article, that would make people think twice about having him as the leader of the free world.

So in the end, if I'm right about this, the fate of the Bush presidency is ultimately not in our hands (i.e. the Few, the Proud, the members of the Reality-Based Community), but in theirs. The best we can do, in our finest Tom Cruise A Few Good Men fashion, is keep up the heat until Bush finally blinks and lets out the brutal truth. Let's hope it comes soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Missing...a celebrity quotient

Here are three headlines for today:

'Sleepover' actress missing: Scout Taylor-Compton may be runaway (later found)

Olivia Newton-John's boyfriend missing: Patrick McDermott left on fishing trip June 30

Mystery of the missing music producer: Topanga thriller includes frantic phone calls, a chase, Internet scam

Stay tuned for more headlines including another trio of missing persons: A guy who was nominated for Country Music award back in 1992, Corey Haim's cousin, and 'Woman at Auction' in Marci X.

Anything but "Intelligent"

Via Daily Kos, we learn of some scientists that are really beginning to get pissed off at all this "Intelligent Design" misinformation that's being spread about by the (cough) "Discovery Institute":

"It's laughable: There have been millions of experiments over more than a century that support evolution," he says. "There's always questions being asked about parts of the theory, as there are with any theory, but there's no real scientific controversy about it."

Davidson began to believe the institute is an "elaborate, clever marketing program" to tear down evolution for religious reasons. He read its writings on intelligent design - the notion that some of life is so complex it must have been designed - and found them lacking in scientific merit.

Then Davidson, who attends First Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, heard a sermon in which the pastor argued it's foolish to try to use science to understand God.

Science is about measuring things, and God is immeasurable, the pastor said.

"It just clicked with me that this whole movement is wrongheaded on all counts," Davidson said. "It's a misuse of science, and a misuse of religion."

"Why can't we just keep the two separate?"
Indeed. My suggestion is this: Alert all ambulance drivers in the Seattle area to question patients if they work for the "Discovery Institute" and if they believe in "Intelligent Design". Drive those you say "yes" to a church instead of the emergency room. If they disrespect science so much, then let's see them go in for some faith healing, instead.

Six Degrees, Actually

Last night, Mrs. Mosley decided to watch Love, Actually which was one of the DVD's she got for her birthday. Perhaps because I was still wiped out from Staff Development Day, I opted out. I like the movie enough, but it just wasn't the sort of thing I wanted to watch at the time so I retired to fiddle on the computer.

Two hours later, I came back to the living room to sit with Mrs. Mosley as the film was finishing up. She then handed me a spiral notebook she had been writing on. Apparently, while viewing the film, she decided to diagram the relationships and character intersections throughout the film. And if you've ever seen the film, you know what a complicated diagram that would be.

I had a number of thoughts when I saw this. First, I thought this was a very cool thing to do, and made me remember how much I adore her. Second, I thought this was also a very "Genealogist" thing for her to do (which makes sense, since she's a Genealogist and all). Third, I figured if she could diagram such a film like this, maybe I should sit her down and show her Short Cuts. Now that would test her abilities!

A bizarre side note: Shortly after I mentioned Short Cuts to her, she went back to the main menu screen for the Love, Actually DVD, which prominently features a red heart that has been slashed into a dozen pieces and roughly put back together...kinda like the Criterion cover for Short Cuts! Freaky.

La-La Land Library: The Stage Show!

Well, not really. Yesterday was Staff Development Day, which is an annual thing where all the libraries in town close and the staff converges at the convention center for speeches, classes and such. This year, instead of taking two afternoon classes like most people, I chose to instruct classes for both sessions. Namely, I taught a class about film and television research on the web using links included in my La-La Land website.

Naturally, I was nervous as hell. For the most part, though, it went smoothly and was well received. I actually ran out of time in the first session and had to trim some material for the second. All the important stuff got covered, including a lengthy session on the IMDb. It's freaky to think that there are people who haven't even heard of the the IMDb, much less used it. I suppose all of us have blinders on when it comes to sites we become familiar with that aren't necessarily common knowledge.

One discovery I made in the sessions was the miracle of the water bottle, which I had brought to keep from getting dehydrated. This function was successfully served, but it also served as a weight balance in my right hand as I gestured to the screen and pointed things out. In other words, it was a great prop to use. Good thing to keep in mind for the future.

So, it's all over now and I am greatly relieved. I have enough stuff going on in the coming weeks and months that it's good to have this piece of stress behind me. Included in the activities is the big vacation in D.C. and the move from the old library building to the new one; both are activities I'll be posting about. Maybe, maybe come January, I'll actually get some relaxation in.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

There's got to be a morning after

Yesterday was Mrs. Mosley's Birthday, and a fair time was had by all. I prepared a special lunch for her of walnut encrusted chicken breast, sweet potato casserole and cheesecake. We then spent an afternoon at one of those paint-your-own-pottery places before departing for a showing of Ladies in Lavender and uncharacteristically consumed the big-ass tub of popcorn, complete with liquid fat...err...butter topping. From there it was a stroll on the beach and dinner at the popular Beaches restaurant Ragtime.

For the two of us, that's a lot of activity. We're both now tired and stuffed, even twelve hours after the fact. And my work is not yet over. Tune in on Thursday for the details.

Friday, August 19, 2005

My cup floweth over

I'm wrapping up the week before kicking off a three day weekend to celebrate Mrs. Mosley's birthday. Here are some items I didn't hit this week that deserve mentioning:

From Capitol Hill Blue, an article detailing how Bush is "losing it", and I don't mean the Iraq war. I can understand how some Bush supporters would dismiss an article like this out of hand, coming as it does from a guy studying Bush from a distance, but the arguments are compelling.

From The New York Times, "Democratic" Iraq: Now with hangings!

From the Sun-Sentinel, we learn of distressed parents who have been told at airports that their infant cannot board with them because their name is on a terrorist watch list. Yep, that's a efficient system of security we have at airports nowadays. Meanwhile, knives and razor blades are back!

From the Waco Tribune-Herald, we learn of a 59 year old veteran who on Monday night jumped into his truck, drove to Bush's Crawford ranch and ran over a line of crosses on the side of the rode set up by protesters. Pretty much the textbook definition of "assh*le", dontcha think?

And then there was this from the Washington Post, which really should have gotten more attention from the major news outlets but, of course, didn't. Basically, the White House, as embodied by this unnamed official, is finally recognizing that their grand experiment is not coming anywhere close to the success they were hoping for. It's an admission of failure by any other name, and it was sad to see. Not surprising, mind you, but sad.

Have a nice weekend, folks. See you on Tuesday.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Feel free to use this, Mr. Groening

I was talking about an office party with some coworkers several weeks ago. They mentioned my cheesecake, which I had made from scratch and brought to previous parties. One asked me if it was my cheesecake that ultimately lured Mrs. Mosley into my romantic clutches. I answered that she didn't know about my cheesecake-making abilities until after we were married. I said further, without a shred of modesty, that I was enough all by myself to enchant Mrs. Mosley and that the cheesecake was just gravy.

At that exact moment, I could hear Homer Simpson in the back of my head, in his classic style, drooling and moaning out the words, "Mmmmmm...cheesecake gravy".

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I'm guessing Ranch will outsell Balsamic

It's about time someone came out with something like this. I'd like to see some statistics a year down the line on people who try this and how much weight was lost.

Fuel alternatives

One of my favorite moments from the Beavis & Butthead TV series was when they got a dollar bill and decided to use it to buy gas. Unfortunately, they didn't have a vehicle or container to put it in, and the gas station attendant tries to explain that to them. Beavis simply responds, "Put it in a bag or something". I can't help laughing every time I think of the concept of a paper bag filled with gasoline.

Well, it looks like the whole "bag of gas" concept isn't so ludicrous, after all.

Reviews: Oscar Nominated Shorts Program

One of the coolest things about going to the Jacksonville Film Festival back in May was the chance to see short films in a theater. Prior to that, I think the only shorts I had seen that way were those preceding Pixar films. Anyway, last week the San Marco hosted an Oscar Nominated Shorts Program that showcased eight live action and animated shorts from around the world. Mrs. Mosley and I caught the last showing on Thursday night.

Gopher Broke (USA) is a CGI short in very much the Pixar vein with some old fashion Warner Brothers hijinx mixed in. A Gopher on a country road digs a hole in order for some produce trucks to spill some of their contents for his supper. Unfortunately for him, he has competition for the tasty loot. The folks behind this have a lot of fun with the concept and it was a great short to begin the night. Eight out of Ten

Two Cars, One Night (New Zealand) is an arty black and white film that's hard to get into, but pays off in the end. Two boys in one car and a girl in another wait while their respective parents visit a bar nearby. One of the boys and the girl get to talking with the boy being rude at first. Eventually, they warm up to eachother and exchange some awkward but sweet words. The dialogue itself, thick with Kiwi accents, is hard to discern some of the time. In fact, Mrs. Mosley and I are pretty convinced the first three or so lines weren't English at all. It eventually grows on you, though, and was worth seeing. Seven out of Ten

Birthday Boy (Australia) turned out to be my favorite of all eight shorts. A young boy in war torn Korea plays amidst the wreckage of planes and bombed buildings while his parents are away. Near the end, he receives an unfortunate present for his birthday. There isn't much that is spoken here as the boy is alone for most of the film, but the visuals speak for themselves as we put together the back story and figure out what's going on. Incredibly well done and touching. Ten out of Ten

Little Terrorist (India) has a Pakistani boy venture into a minefield to retrieve a cricket ball, only to be fired upon by the guard towers and find himself on the side of India. He is given shelter by a local school teacher and his niece while they figure out what to do with him. Considering most of the West's ignorance on the cultural differences in this part of the world, this story had a lot of significance. Particularly with these two countries, between which there is a huge amount of tension yet receives very little press here in the States. Good stuff. Eight out of Ten

Ryan (Canada) (Review re-printed from JFF post) was actually the Oscar winner for Best Animated Short earlier this year. The technical achievement is amazing as the narrator leads us through a mirror and we see characters in terms of their mental states. In the case of the narrator and an older animator he goes to interview, their creative output has been troubled and this is represented, among other things, by thickets of colorful wire that explode from their heads. It's a very surreal piece where the young animator takes audio recordings of his interviews and then reinterprets the interviews with his own visual style. Nine out of Ten

7:35 in the Morning (Spain) is one of those films where you immediately want to watch it again to pick up what you might have missed the first time round. The story starts off simple as a woman enters a cafe for some a pastry and coffee, then she starts to notice everyone there acting stiff and rather odd. As the film progresses, and gets progressively weirder, she and we figure out what's going on. All this mystery and nice choreography, too. Eight out of Ten

Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher (USA) is the animated tale of all American hero Rex Steele who, along with his trusty sidekick Penny, ventures across the globe to foil the Nazis in all their nefarious plans. This short has it's tongue practically firmly in cheek as we watch this interpretation of classic Saturday morning serials. I love how these particular Nazis choose to emblazon the swastika one every conceivable item they use (including blowdarts). Funny and over the top. Eight out of Ten

Wasp (UK) is one of those uncomfortable, close to the bone personal portraits that British director Mike Leigh is fond of. In this case, we have a single mom named Zoe who lives a rather destitute existence with her four kids in Dartford. We learn real quick that she's far from a good mother, and she proceeds to justify this snap judgment by bringing her kids along to a bar where she meets an old high school friend. The kids, dirty and malnourished, sit outside for hours while she drinks beer and plays pool. It's a very moving family portrait, and the director successfully makes the mother, if not sympathetic, at least pitiable. Nine out of Ten

To Apollo Cinema, who organized this little release, more of this please. We thank you.

(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A No-Brainer

In terms of Supreme Court justice nominee John Roberts, there are issues we can and should debate on what position he has on them (i.e. Abortion) and then there are issues that shouldn't even be issues. In this case, the concept of women getting equal pay that men do for equal work. Apparently, Judge Roberts thought back in 1984 that the concept wasn't an absolute good.

Forget all the other issues; Just look at something so fundamentally basic as this in terms of a deal breaker during the confirmation process.

UPDATE: From Daily Kos, the quote is a bit out of context, apparently. My apologies.

"Frozen Solid"

The more I read about the Tragic (and that's "Tragic" with a capital "T") crash of that Helios Airlines Boeing 737 in Greece, the more it chills me to the bone and makes me want to curl up in the corner into a fetal position.

You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. There's just something about stories like that: a group of people trapped in a place where their fate is very much assured and there's nothing they can really do about it but wait for their death while watching people around them drop one by one. The details emerging from the story build a narrative in my mind that brings me to the brink of depression. No one, and I mean no one, deserves to die as those 121 people did.

Those of you who have visited my blogger profile will notice a book called A Prayer for the Dying. It was recommended by none other than Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly and turned out to be one of the most haunting novels I have ever read. Elements of this news story remind me of that book and makes me wonder if I should revisit it soon. I give it my highest recommendation.

That's it, folks. No funny ending to this post. Nothing funny to this at all.

(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)

Better than Ginger: Remote Control Lawn Mowers

First off, I apologize for having started what was to be a series of technology posts back in January and then never getting around to do another one. I hope to remedy that by doing these every month or so, starting with this one.

Second, I'd just like to say that brilliant ideas aren't necessarily radically new ones. As George Carlin once said, "If you nail together two things that have never been nailed together before, somebody out there will buy one". In this case, it is the merging of a remote control vehicle with a lawn mower, resulting in the RCLM2006S. The concept is so bloody obvious that you really have to wonder why these suckers aren't in mass production. Oh yeah, they currently cost $2300 a pop, that's why.

But just like DVD players and flatscreen displays, let's hope these become real common real soon, and thus the price goes down. Because we folks down here in Florida sure could use an affordable model we can pick up at the local Home Depot.

Monday, August 15, 2005

More sanity from another military man

Via Demagogue, we get an analysis of the current Iraq situation from retired Army Colonel E.W. Chamberlain III:
Our goal of bringing democracy to Iraq, while worthy, is unattainable. The Shiite clerics won't stand for it.

The clerics, who have taken on the same titles as those used by the Iranian Shiite clerics when they toppled the Shah, have won the elections.

The grand titles being used in Iraq right after the elections, "Ayatollah of the Revolutionary Islamic Council," for example, should have some people in Washington sitting up and taking notice. The Iranians already have visited the newly elected clerics, and it will be but a short time before some agreements between the two countries are formalized.

Washington persists in seeing Iraq as, well, full of just Iraqis.

Washington doesn't differentiate between the religious sects in Iraq, nor does it understand that the concept of a state called "Iraq" was arbitrarily devised by the British and the French in the Balfour Declaration at the end of World War I as those two victors divided the spoils of war.

People in Iraq and Iran are Shiite first, and Iraqis and Iranians second.

Again we get the straight story from a man who actually knows the region of which he speaks instead of some simple-minded yahoo that thinks it's as easy as (to paraphrase George Carlin), "Here's some democracy, now cool it for awhile, will ya?!"

Skippy of the Day: George W. Bush

This little tidbit has been commented upon by all the usual suspects (Atrios, Blah3, Daily Kos, Think Progress) and with good reason. Here's the quote:

Bush said he is aware of the anti-war sentiments of Cindy Sheehan and others who have joined her protest near the Bush ranch.

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job," Bush said on the ranch. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say."

"But," he added, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."
I would be surprised at this, but then again this is the son of the woman who said she didn't read about American casualties because she did not wish to "waste my beautiful mind on something like that". But at least she's not running the country.

Dubya, however, is. And like it or not, this is his life. Maybe after he leaves the White House and the Iraq war is far behind him can he justifiably say something like this, but right now he's the guy in charge who has put troops in the field. They are his responsibility and he cannot shirk it that easily, even during his five-week vacation. Getting on with his life means getting on with the presidency and all that entails, including the repercussions of his decision to go to war. He is never off the clock.

It is often said that though the President runs the country, the American people are the boss he must answer to. One of them is speaking right now outside his well-protected estate in Texas. She's not some kook, but rather one of many parents of slain children that simply want some answers. She wants to talk. That's all. Dismissing her and many others out of hand may seem to him to be the best option as he rides his bike and clears brush, but he shouldn't think for a moment that he's doing the right thing. Instead, as always, he's doing the easy thing. After all, what's the good of being President if you can't seal yourself off from your problems.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

If it ain't broke...

Scott McClellan speaking on Iraq, 11/12/2002:

"And we will do so forcefully and swiftly and decisively, as the President has outlined. But the President continues to seek a peaceful resolution. War is a last resort."
Bush speaking on Iran, 08/13/2005:

"As I say, all options are on the table. The use of force is the last option for any president and you know, we've used force in the recent past to secure our country."

Well, some people were stupid enough to fall for it the first time, so I suppose he thinks those same people will fall for this horsesh*t again. One can assume that, if there is a memo this time around, Dubya will have every copy tracked down and brought to him so he can personally shred and swallow them.

Does Dubya pray there a lot?

I'm learning the most interesting things while researching our trip to Washington D.C.

For example, did you know that when Cathedrals run out of gargoyles, they start using Dark Jedis?

The Picture.

The Backstory.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Who's minding the store?!?!

Jesus on a rye crisp! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!?!

New York Times story on Monday:

Armed men entered Baghdad's municipal building during a blinding dust storm on Monday, deposed the city's mayor and installed a member of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia. ...

"This is the new Iraq," said [Alaa al-Tamimi, the deposed mayor], a secular engineer with no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal." ...

The man the group installed, Hussein al-Tahaan, is a member of the Badr Organization, the armed militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq [the political party of Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari].
Press Briefing on Air Force One Wednesday:

Q: Trent, the mayor of Baghdad says he's been deposed by armed gunmen and replaced by a member of a Shiite militia. Is the President aware of that? Is it a point of concern for the administration, in terms of how Baghdad is being run?

MR. DUFFY: I don't have anything for you on that, Bill. I can check into it.

Cleaning up the Desktop

Alright. Time to clean out some of the shortcuts that have grown like weeds on my computer at work. Here's some of what I'm getting rid of (and technically retaining since they'll be in this post. Ain't blogs great?!):

Brick Journal - The announcement of a LEGO magazine for grownups. I just dropped my subscription to Entertainment Weekly, but I may just pick this one up with the money I saved.

Waterfalls of Western North Carolina - A page that came up while search for a picture of Moore Cove Falls, a great waterfall we hiked to while in North Carolina last month.

Partners in Rhyme - A fabulous public domain sound effects site I came across while trying to find sounds for a powerpoint presentation I'm doing.

Conservation Resources International - Boring Library stuff, but in this case it was for some research on a story idea I was working on.

Florida Education Standards Commission - Earlier this year, the local alternative paper broke a story about Sam Ward, a local High School principal and all around shmuck who refused to print the graduation photo of a lesbian student in the yearbook because she wore a tux instead of the lace wrap thingy they usually get girls to wear. Several months ago, they reported that Gov. Jeb Bush was appointing Ward to the FESC, a ruling body that decides if educators have been engaging in unethical behavior, such as wrongly singling a student out for punishment. Jeb's appointment was not the end of it, as it has to go through several more processes before Ward gets there. The shortcut was there to remind me to check on this story now and then.

Abandoned Irish Castle, Abandoned Russian Factory and just plain Abandoned - More links from my interest in ghost towns that started back in May.

Eric Holmes - A profile of a game designer friend of mine.

Atamacher - We end as we began: With LEGO! This time, it's the gallery of one really brilliant designer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Miss Ewing? Feh! She'll always be Midge to me.

You know, I'm a huge fan of Hitchcock's Vertigo, but I think I speak for movie geeks everywhere when I say that I would have taken Barbara Bel Geddes over Kim Novak any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

RIP, Barbara

Whatever happened to a moment of silence?

Nope, we sure can't have anything tasteful for the fourth anniversary of 9/11. We've got to have a big honking patriotic country music concert. I will, however, give them credit for choosing a genuinely nice guy like Clint Black. It would have been really over-the-top to choose Toby Keith, who would have reminded us of his solemn delight in wanting to break off his foot in some Muslim ass.

Besides, a moment of silence would make us look like wimps. And with more and more Americans distrustful of Bush and disliking the Iraq war, we've got to make some noise and get some people excited about killing people in the name of 9/11 again. U S A! U S A! U S A!

Postscript: Via Demagogue, I discover that old Clint had done his own little paean to Bush's war called, ugh, Iraq and Roll. No doubt he'll play this tune at the ceremony, which means that they'll be once again linking 9/11 to Iraq when there is no link and making this little shindig more about the current war than about those who lost their lives four years ago. Nice going there, Clint. Besides, I just realized that when I made the "genuinely nice guy" comment, I was confusing Clint Black with Garth Brooks. Sorry there, Garth. My mistake. Loved you on "The Muppet Show".

Movie Quotes: Sexy Beast

I have previously reviewed Sexy Beast here at Acrentropy and have praised Ben Kingsley for his ferocious performance. Oddly enough, the showcase scene for his malicious character is not yelled, but instead almost whispered. He's just been kicked off a plane for refusing to put out a cigarette. When confronted by an airline official, he immediately reels off a monologue that get's him off the hook.

Don: Have you ever been sexually assaulted? No, neither have I, until today...on that plane.

Spanish Official: What?

Don: Yeah, that's what I said. There's me putting my bag up in the cupboard next thing ya know, I feel hands on me. Someone's touched me, touched my front bottom. I can't believe it, I've gone all cold. I look around, he standing there isn't he? That steward with the guilty look on his face. I was shocked, I didn't know what to say. I had to sit down, I was that perturbed. Then his mate, the other one who was giving us all lessons on what we do if we land in the sea. How to wear your life jacket etcetera; He starts off, he starts looking at me all funny...suggestive. Now I don't know if they're wanting me for a twosome or something, I don't know how they work it. But I'll tell you what, it scared me. I was shaking like a leaf, so without thinking I lit up a cigarette to calm me nerves. I was trembling, I was very emotional and that when all the rest of it happened. It's very regrettable. Now, I don't want to kick up a fuss, right, press the British embassy. I'd rather not pursue those channels, that's not my style. I'm not that sort of a bloke. I don't want the man to lose his job, and I'm sure he's not representive of all you Spanish people.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Scent of Manure

I made a wonderful discovery this past weekend about something wonderfully awful.

You see, for years I have encountered men in various work and social situations who have chosen to wear, for some unfathomable reason, an aftershave scent that is closest to the smell of burning dogsh*t. I wish I could be exaggerating, but I'm not. And for these same amount of years, I was completely in the dark as to what this scent was called. I was embarrassed to actually ask these particular individuals just from fear that merely invoking the name would knock unconscious every living being within a three mile radius. Yes, it's that strong.

But this past weekend, while looking for some new incense sticks and smell-testing each in turn, I came across one pack called "Patchouli" and I sniffed.


According to the ever-popular Wikipedia, the oil has become popular despite some people's reaction to the scent as "offensive". Sorry. "Offensive" simply doesn't cut it for me in terms of degree. That's like watching your entire family get gunned down by criminals and proclaiming the experience "disquieting".

I'm far from what you'd call an expert on how to attract women, yet I'm going to make a broad, recklessly unresearched proclamation: No man in the history of the universe ever got anywhere with a woman while wearing this stuff. If I were a woman, then I'd sooner aim a firehose at you than come anywhere near your personal space.

Variety is the spice of life, guys, and you'd be better off experimenting with some other fragrances if Patchouli is your scent of choice these days. If you're not swimming in cash, then do yourself a favor and grab a store-brand bottle of vanilla from the grocery store. Put a drop behind each ear and smell like a cookie all day. Now that's what I call enticing.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Chicken Caesar Review: KFC

Sooner or later, I was going to have to recognize the efforts of fast food restaurants to offer healthier fare. In this case, I started with KFC (which was once known as Kentucky Fried Chicken to us old-timers). Their Caesar Salad, which costs a paltry $3.99, comes with either crispy or roasted chicken. I chose the roasted to keep in line with the other salads I have reviewed. It also includes fresh lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded Parmesan, garlic croutons and creamy Parmesan Caesar dressing.

Like the Chicken Caesar offered by Boston Market, this salad was not tossed. However, the size of the bowl and the finely chopped ingredients make it easy to do this yourself with the pouch of dressing included. This brings to mind one difference between this and restaurant salads that was very welcome: the chicken was actually cut into bite-size pieces. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, as one would expect from KFC, and was easily the best part of the salad. The cheese and the dressing are both very strong and come close to being overwhelming. The lettuce is Iceberg, not Romaine, and the tomatoes (not a traditional Caesar ingredient) are numerous enough to add an acidic quality to the salad as a whole. This is not exactly a criticism as I did enjoy the salad, but these two elements detract from this salad being an authentic Caesar. Finally, the guy putting together my to-go order forgot the croutons, so I'll just assume they were average for the type that come in a plastic pouch.

I'm not sure what I expected from KFC, but what I got was a very good salad for the price. The flavors may be a little too strong (which was also a fault of Boston Market) and the tomatoes too dominant, but the salad still deserves a strong recommendation purely from the value you get for your money.

"I've run out of stock"

Ladies and Gentleman (and all you Lost fans), may I present The Sawyer Song.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Creepy Crawlies

It's been a long week and, barring some breaking news story I feel the need to comment on, I'm folding up shop until Monday.

I leave you with, for no reason whatsoever, the Insect Shop. Go forth and multiply.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

From the Home Office in Wahoo, Nebraska:

You know, Top Ten lists like this one make me wish I was still staying up late to watch Letterman. Oh well, that's what the Internet is for:

Top Ten Rafael Palmeiro Excuses

10. "Pete Rose bet me I wouldn't do it"
9. "There wasn't a Starbucks around and I needed a quick pick-me up"
8. "I enjoy the fresh minty flavor"
7. "Uhh, I lost it in the sun?"
6. "Somebody must've slipped something into my Viagra"
5. "Steroids illegal?! Since when?"
4. "Heard steroids give your mustache a glossy coat"
3. "Memory loss from steroid use made me forget I was on steroids"
2. " 'Roids rule, dude!"
1. "How am I supposed to keep track of every single thing I stick up my ass?"

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

And your "Insert your own punchline" Headline for the day is:

Koreans produce world's first cloned dog

I'm not touching that with a twenty foot pole. As for you folks, be my guest.

Having a war in Iraq is like having your baby teething

Interesting little Explainer on Slate today pertaining to the decision process involved with waking the President in the middle of the night:

It varies from president to president, but the task usually falls to the national security adviser or the chief of staff. In the White House, a small team of "watch officers" - drawn from the CIA, the military, and the State Department - keeps an eye on incoming news and intelligence reports 24 hours a day. If something important comes up during the graveyard shift, the watch officer in charge gets in contact with the national security adviser or chief of staff, either via their deputies or a with a direct phone call. The watch officers typically have standing instructions on what sort of news merits a wake-up; President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, for example, has said he wants to be awakened for any overseas incident in which Americans are killed.
I'm guessing Card really meant to say that any Americans who aren't in the military. Otherwise, Andy isn't getting a helluva lot of sleep these days.

Review: War of the Worlds

I'm rarely left this speechless after a film, so allow me to quote another review of War of the Worlds I read recently: Steve, I never knew you had it in you.

Indeed, I would have been hard pressed to believe before hand that Spielberg had the cojones to make this brutal a film. Granted, this is the same man who brought terror to the water in Jaws and directed the D-Day sequence in Saving Private Ryan, but this is a whole different area here. I walked out of the theater shell shocked, and it didn't help my state of mind when I saw dark clouds outside that were eerily similar to those above New Jersey in the film. I'm left after the film not able to do one of my conventional reviews, so allow me to touch upon the high points (Here be spoilers):


Show of hands: How many people noticed that Cruise's character works in a high tech machine that stands very high off the ground and picks up objects (kinda like a tripod)? I'm not exactly sure what this is supposed to signify, but it was a neat little detail.


It's been said that Steven Spielberg's Jaws, as good as it is, is largely responsible for the Summer movie phenomenon that now dumps oh-so-many big budget travesties into our local theaters every year. The same kind of complaint can be said for John Williams in that, as good a composer as he is, his work has influenced others to simply drown out films in music, leading audiences down every emotional cue. You must give him and Spielberg credit, then, for practicing some restraint with this film. Their faith in the visuals and sound effects have allowed them to draw back and let these elements speak for themselves. A lesser director would have made the horrible mistake of putting in some "exciting" music during Cruise's escape from the first tripod as people are zapped into dust around him. Thank heavens Spielberg isn't one of them.


Spielberg does a very nice circular camera shot around the moving minivan. I know it was probably done with the help of CGI, but I'd still like to see the "making of" when the DVD comes out to see exactly how they managed it.


Way back when, some friends and I rented John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness. The film was by no means perfect, but one concept intrigued me: The reception of grainy video footage ... from the future. The footage is of the front of a church with a dark figure standing in the doorway backed by a flood of light. There's nothing incredibly original or spectacular about this, but the format itself made it seem more real, and thus more frightening.

Since then, I've seen this technique used for a solitary scene (Signs) or an entire movie (The Blair Witch Project). It was also this element that drew my appreciation of the Firefly series, when Whedon would purposely have footage of the ship go out of focus and zoom in and out, like someone was on the ground capturing this with a camcorder. One might infer that Spielberg was simply adapting a method that had already worked: Orson Welles captivated the nation in a broadcast with no spectacular visual effects or indeed any visuals at all, just the medium of radio and a straight faced interpretation by his troupe of actors. It worked then and it works now.


I suppose one can never know the effects of mass hysteria until one is in the middle of such an experience. So when we see the scene at the ferry and all that happens there, we sit gaping at the breaking down of the rules of civilization and wonder if this fictional representation could be accurate? The only gripe I had was everyone running for the boat. Seems to me the last place I would want to be when being pursued by agile killer aliens is on a slow-ass boat, made slower by the weight, in the middle of a river. C'mon people, split up!


Acting-wise, Cruise is on a higher level here, registering the fear necessary for the role. The one drawback was near the end when he yells some advice to a soldier. The yell sounded just like his "Red Light. Green Light" at the end of Mission: Impossible, and given the campiness of that previous role, I couldn't help but giggle when Tom did it again. Tim Robbins puts forth menace when his character could have easily laughable. He's helped in his confrontations with Cruise by the fact that he's a full ten inches taller than him. As for Fanning, this is actually the first time I've seen her in a film. She's mature and very good here; close to Sixth Sense good.


Do you get the feeling that Cruise and Spielberg got some serious deja vu while shooting the basement scene? Cruise silently eluding the snake-like surveillance camera personally reminded me of the spider-robots scene in Minority Report.


There are different ways to terrorize an audience, and one of the more chilling is a scene where people are held captive and absolutely helpless while awaiting their fate. The scene inside the metal baskets underneath the tripod was along these lines and brought to mind The Second Renaissance, Part II segment of the Animatrix DVD. Granted, Cruise saves the day here, but those initial moments will stay with me for awhile.


Spielberg wisely leaves a lot of questions unanswered when it comes to the invaders. Only the scattered and sometimes contradictory rumors are what we and Cruise hear (not counting Morgan Freeman's narration). Do they actually drink blood or is it used for some other function? Can they also use animal blood? What other purposes did they have on the planet? What was with the creeping red vines? Were the vines actually part of the aliens themselves?

The biggest question for me was as to when exactly the ships were buried. If we are to believe one character, it was millions of years ago. This leads to the most confusing series of thoughts when trying to make sense of it all. If they were here so long ago, why didn't they take over then? If they needed to wait until we evolved for the purpose of harvesting, then this means they must have done this with other planets in order to survive, which means that they should have encountered the germ thing previously. And on and on and on.

Ebert apparently had the same objections, and he gave the film only two out of four stars for it. I think this is way too harsh. A rating this low is only deserved if the film is boring and tedious enough so that you dwell on such inconsistencies while viewing the thing. That was not the case with myself or any of the audience members that I saw it with. We all pretty much held our breath for the majority of the film (well, not literally, of course. That would be messy, and the floors are sticky enough).


And then there's that happy ending. I suppose we can't have things be totally bleak in a Spielberg film, and I was willing to roll with that. Lord knows the main three characters had been through enough hell to finally have some sun shine upon them at the very end. I've read so many complaints about the plotholes and the ending, but I can't give this thing anything lower than a nine. It's just too damn well made for it to receive anything less. It's an experience, plain and simple. See it in a theater while you can.

Nine out of Ten

(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)

What do Rob Schneider, Mel Gibson and Kevin Bacon have in common?

Answer: They have all benefited from the words of David Manning.

The good news is that now you can too:
"Following a class action suit, Sony Pictures is obliged to refund $5 to any cinemagoers who went to see Hollow Man, Vertical Limit, A Knight's Tale, The Animal or The Patriot at the cinema, as they might have been influenced by quotations on the poster attributed to the fictional film critic 'David Manning'."
The bad news is that you have to admit to having paid full price to see The Animal. Tough call.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

To "Wit", Mr. Mosley

the Wit
(56% dark, 21% spontaneous, 16% vulgar)
your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean you're pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer. Your sense of humor takes the most effort to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

AND FINALLY -- after you rate my test with a sweet, sweet '5' -- you must take this test next: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Test. It's not mine, but it rocks.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 53% on dark
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 7% on spontaneous
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid

Tell Ed Harris to suit up

I read the news today. Oh boy.

This got me to thinking: Now that Romero has finished his fourth Dead film, maybe he can do a remake of Knightriders. If he hurries, then he get it into theaters by next year in time for the 25th anniversary!

Chicken Caesar Review: Crispers

This is the first time I'm reviewing a salad at a place that actually specializes in the things, so expectations were quite high. Their large Caesar Salad, which costs $6.95 with chicken added, contains Romaine lettuce, marinated chicken breast, grape tomatoes, seasoned croutons, Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing.

Well, it should go without saying for a place like this, but I'll say it anyway: They actually tossed this salad. The dressing, which was a very nice balance between not-too-strong and not-too weak, was evenly distributed throughout. On top was sprinkled fresh grated cheese and a sliced chicken breast. These strips require further cutting, but they are incredibly tender thus making this task a breeze. Both the lettuce and tomatoes are fresh, and the croutons are also freshly made and crunchy.

There really isn't a downside to this salad. Crispers does their reputation right by preparing a proper Chicken Caesar, and my thanks goes out to them for it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Keith David Quote of the Month: August 2005

It certainly isn't the most well-made action film I've ever seen, and it wasted talented people like Don Cheadle, but at least it had Keith David yelling at people in it. "Volcano" was one of two volcano action films to be released in 1997, along with Dante's Peak. Both did poorly and justifiably so. From the wreckage of that film, however, we have dredged up this quote where David plays a police lieutenant organizing a barrier of freeway dividers only to find out that the truck driver hasn't brought enough to do the job.

Roark: Where's the rest of 'em?

Truck driver: What "rest of 'em?" This is it!

Lt. Fox: Hey, there only about eighty here!

Truck driver: Eighty-two; everything else is stuck on the 5 and the 10.

Lt. Fox: We're trying to keep the city in one piece, pinhead. Eighty rails ain't gonna do it!

Truck driver: So what are you blaming me for?

Lt. Fox: Convenience, ok?