Thursday, June 30, 2005

Pope Bilbo

This is some great casting. And allow me to be one of the first to use the title "Pope Bilbo". It's just a great pairing of words. It rolls off the tongue so well.

Pope Bilbo Pope Bilbo Pope Bilbo!


Strange bedfellows

It's a weird concept, but I suppose if James Carville and Mary Matalin can be happily married, then these guys can enjoy playing a round of golf together.

What I want to see is Bush and Clinton uncover a conspiracy against them formulated by Dick Cheney, then they can go on the run through the Southern Appalachians. News coverage of that is bound to be more interesting than the runaway bride or missing teenagers in Aruba or whateverthehell they decide to focus all their friggin airtime on next.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Lord of the Hissy-Fit

I have just enough time during the day to write posts for this blog, but I sure don't have enough time to be playing with graphics in photoshop. Fortunately for me and everyone else, people like this guy have us covered.

The 1st anniversary is "paper", so fork over the books!

Today marks one year since I started Acrentropy. Here are some statistics:

Site Redesigns - Twice since the original blogskin

Chicken Caesar Salad Reviews - 14

Movie Reviews - 66 (plus 13 shorts from the Jacksonville Film Festival)

"Skippy" of the Day posts - 25

Better than Ginger posts - 1 (gee, that blogging series really caught on like wildfire, didn't it?)

Yaphet Kotto quotes - 7

Keith David quotes - 6

General Movie Quotes - 11

Recycle Bin - 2

Lyrically speaking - 1
Looking back on the year that was, I notice several things.

First, I've slacked on the Movie reviews. Most of the reviews I did early on were films I loved and had lots of things already to say about them. I've run out of those for now and have yet to be inspired to write another one, though I will eventually do so. As a side note: In lieu of a full length review, allow me to say that Batman Begins kicks ass.

Chicken Caesar reviews also petered out, but I plan on gearing up on those again. It all comes down to visiting new restaurants and remembering to order a CCS when I do.

I've really enjoyed doing the "Quote of the Month" series. Most likely Keith David will be retired after December and be replaced by someone else. Being an African American actor with a cool voice is not a requirement, but it will weigh heavily in favor of any possible replacements (If all else fails, then Samuel L. Jackson will be chosen as default).

And that's about it. I hope to be here another year at least, and if all goes well, my general readership will double in that time ... making it about six people. Bye!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Giant among Historians has passed on.

Story here.

Mrs. Mosley, who hails from Mississippi, has often said that had she spent more of her childhood in that state, she would have a gentle, charming southern accent like Shelby Foote. Indeed, listening to him tell stories in Ken Burn's "The Civil War" is one of the pinnacles of that massively accomplished work.

Rest in Peace.

"Pissed away"

It was easy to go apocalyptic on Karl Rove last week. The man has come to symbolize everything that is hateful and wrong with the Bush administration. Fortunately, cooler heads than I have the media dais, so to speak. Listen to Molly:
Find me the offer for therapy and understanding in that vote. Anyone remember what actually happened after 9-11? Unprecedented unity, support across the board, joint statements by Democratic and Republican political leaders. The whole world was with us. The most important newspaper in France headlined, "We Are All Americans Now," and all our allies sent troops and money to help. That is what George Bush has pissed away with his war in Iraq.

The vote on invading Iraq was 77 to 23 in the Senate and 296 to 133 in the House. By that time, some liberals did question the wisdom of invasion because: A) Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 and B) it looked increasingly unlikely that Iraq actually had great stores of weapons of mass destruction, since the United Nations inspectors, who were on the ground, couldn't find any sign of them -- even though Donald Rumsfeld claimed we knew exactly where they were.

Since my name is Molly Ivins and I speak for myself, I'll tell you exactly why I opposed invading Iraq: because I thought it would be bad for this country, our country, my country. I opposed the invasion out of patriotism, and that is the reason I continue to oppose it today -- I think it is bad for us. I think it has done nothing but harm to the United States of America. I think we have created more terrorists than we faced to start with and that our good name has been sullied all over the world. I think we have alienated our allies and have killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein ever did.

I did not oppose the war because I like Saddam Hussein. I have been active in human rights work for 30 years, and I told you he was a miserable s.o.b. back in the '80s, when our government was sending him arms.

I did not oppose the war because I am soft on terrorists or didn't want to get Osama bin Laden. To the contrary, I thought it would be much more useful to get bin Laden than to invade Iraq -- which, once again, had nothing to do with 9-11. I believe the case now stands proved that this administration used 9-11 as a handy excuse to invade Iraq, which it already wanted to do for other reasons.

Monday, June 27, 2005

A note with sincere love to my wife, Mrs. Mosley:

If we ever go to a movie again, as we did this past weekend with Batman Begins,

And If we see that shrill commercial beforehand featuring Fanta's version of the Spice Girls,

And If we enjoy the movie to the extent that all that was shown before, even the trailers, were forgotten due to the superior quality of said film,

And If afterwards in the car on the ride home you start singing, for no particular reason, that tune "FANTA! FANTA! DON'T YOU WANNA? FANTA! FANTA! DON'T YOU WANNA?",

And If on the following Monday your impromptu singing brings that tune, like a horrid sleeping beast that has been roused from his slumber, back again and becomes STUCK IN MY HEAD FOR HOURS ON END,

If, IF this ever happens again ... we're gonna have to have some words.

(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)

Gee, what would Patrick McGoohan think?

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

"Mama don't like no Fritos in a bowl!"

I mentioned once before on this blog a page called 5ives: A website with a long series of hilarious top 5 lists that is periodically updated. I found myself going through it again the other day and thought I'd pass along my top five favorite lists from the site:

Five ill-advised giveaway nights at the ballpark
1. Chinese Throwing Star Night
2. Loaded .22 (with scope) Night
3. Guess Your Cholesterol and Get a Free Footlong Night
4. Leaky Bag of Urine Night
5. Nickel Absinthe Night

Five great reasons to buy a Hummer
1. You've been wanting to buy much wider groceries (but have been stymied by the timid width of your Escalade)
2. You and your make-believe wife were thinking of having 11 or 12 imaginary kids
3. You're sick of always being the environment's g*dd*mn*d bitch
4. You could totally put a keg back there and just drive around and sh*t
5. They were all out of penises

Five donations that, frankly, the food bank has had just about enough of
1. O'Hurlington's Beet Majesty in Unrendered Goo: 12-oz. Can
2. Generic-brand 12-Bean Ranchero Puffs with Cornsilk Dip'n Sauce: FunPak of 5
3. Mysterious Lady Friend's Pork Torquelinas in Brine: 14-oz. can (with attached Brinevelope)
4. "No F*ck*ng Way is This Flan!" (aka N.F.W.I.T.F.): 12 4-oz. pellets
5. Shiftless Jose's Organic Taco-style Shell Product with Embarcadero Cheezey Drizzlin's: 15-piece "Bueno Suerte" case

Five requests with regard to my eventual death
1. If it happens that my death occurred in some public place, there is to be no ersatz memorial created on that location comprised of teddy bears, mylar balloons, or terrible poems written on posterboard in pink Magic Marker. This is very, very important.
2. If you choose to have any kind of service "memorializing" me, there will be no use of the phrase "looking down on us."
3. At no time is any outraged friend or family member to appear in public looking indignant and holding up a framed photograph of me.
4. If you refer to anything I've ever done as "brave," "courageous," or "special," I will personally come back from the grave and sh*t angry ghost turds in your coffee pot.
5. If the resources exist and the weather is fine, I'd prefer to have my remains torn asunder by vicious dogs while "Tusk" is performed by an enthusiastic high school marching band.

Five odd things my hateful stepfather consumed in large quantities
1. Dutch Masters cigars
2. Turkey Salami
3. Tab
4. Head Cheese
5. Human souls

(Blog title is from this list, which recieves an honorable mention)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Here! Here! Well spoken, Bruce!

The Internet is a-buzz over Rove's insipid comments about Democrats. I truly hope he gets his ass in hot water over this. Perhaps the best comment I've read so far was made by Eschaton:
For the record, my motives aren't to get more troops killed. If those were my motives I'd ship them off to a war on false pretenses without sufficient equipment to keep them safe.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Skippy of the Day: Karl Rove

Karl Rove, often called "Bush's Brain" (and called affectionately by Dubya himself "Turd Blossom"), let loose on Liberals recently at the New York State's Conservative Party dinner:
"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Rove said Wednesday night. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."

Rove said the Democratic Party made the mistake of calling for "moderation and restraint" after the terrorist attacks.

"Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies."

Oh boy, where to begin? Let's look at the word choices:

"Indictments": Yeah. Call us crazy, but we're awful proud of Due Process and all that American legal system stuff. You know, the kind of stuff that makes America great. But we all know how Republicans, especially those in the South, are so fond of a good old fashioned lynching party.

"Therapy": I don't know where Rove got this concept. Oh wait, I do know: He pulled it right out of his ass, that's where. Another effort to paint Liberals as soft and Conservatives as...well...killing anything that moves. Democrats did not want therapy for the bombers if, for no other reason, that they were already dead. Rather, we wanted those others involved that were still alive to be prosecuted under the full extent of the law and thrown in prison for life. That includes Osama. Remember him?

"Moderation" and "Restraint": Yeah, again, we're not all about the "blind rage" philosophy that apparently guides the Republican party. That's the sort of thinking that gets a lot of innocents hurt. And as far as I remember, such terminology as this could only be used for Democrats in response to Iraq, not the 9/11 bombers. Moderation and Restraint should be used with a country that had no role in attacking us, after all.

"Understanding" and "Understand": This root word is used twice for a reason. Again, it's the painting of Liberals as soft. Republicans view that any reaction to the attacks short of homicidal mania is something akin to weakness. Sun Tzu, that great old man of War and Philosophy, said "Know yourself and understand your enemy". Rove paints "understand" and "defeat" as mutually exclusive concepts when they are anything but.

Last night when I got home from work, Mrs. Mosley was watching that popular "Super Nanny" show. I sat down with her and watched the rest of it (I'm a sucker for British accents). At some point during the show, my wife criticized the parents who did not inquire with the child why they were doing something wrong and instead just punished them straight away. I mean, how else do you get the child to stop if you don't know what is motivating them to do it in the first place. Thus we have via my wife incontrovertible proof that Republicans make sucky parents as well as sucky political leaders.

Rove is considered one of the most brilliant men in the White House. Personally, I think I'll stick with Bush's nickname for him.

Well, half of it, anyway.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Unburned flags help magically protect our troops from shrapnel.

Let me see if I got this straight: At a time when our troops are lacking sufficient armor, weapons and even pay, our big concern is passing a constitutional amendment making the burning of the American Flag illegal. Is this what conservatives mean when they say the Republican party has the right priorities?

You flag waving conservatives better slap a few more foreign-made yellow ribbon magnets on your cars, cause lord knows those are doing a fat lot of good to support our troops. Christ, for once I'd like to see these people make any physical effort to support our troops beyond the slapping of cheap crap on their SUV's and saying that they've done their part.

Personally, I'm with George Carlin on this:
"I don't get all choked up about yellow ribbons and American flags. I see them as symbols, and I leave symbols to the symbol-minded."

It could be worse. They could be filled.

I'm willing to bet that most of us have a moment in our initial experience with the Internet where we came to the sudden realization on how vast and screwy the available content could be. For me, that my moment came when I ran across this page a little less than nine years ago.

And as a further commentary on this particular site: I initially found it way back when while browsing through the Yahoo directory for "Recreation - Hobbies - Collecting - Weird". These days, it has it's own category.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Loss For Words

There are approximately 290,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition). Yet despite some increased interest in the National Spelling Bee, we as a culture are not all that interested in adding to the vocabulary we already know. We stick with what works, and that goes for journalists as well. This makes sense since they're seeking to reach a wide audience, so they put things in the most basic and understandable terms possible. They're not going to throw in an epuration when it could drive away readers to some information sources less taxing to their brains. So though I understand the essence of this, I still wish they would vary their word choices a little more.

I did a Google News search covering the entire month of May searching only the headlines of American news sources for several separate keywords. Here are the results:

"Slams" - 302 results

This word does have some natural uses in terms of the subject matter. Baseball stories have batters who slam homeruns, and accident reports have cars that slam into each other. Mostly, however, It's famous people who slam news stories, official reports or accusations from other people. The IMDb news services are particularly guilty of this. In one sense, it allows the actions of overexposed celebrities and slick politicians seem more exciting than they really are.

"Blasts" - 454 results

We get some of the same stuff here. Blasts is understandably used in sports stories and, unfortunately, in the descriptions of explosions in Iraq. But then we also have China blasting the European Union, Pat Tillman's family blasting an Army report, and Tom Delay blasting a Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode (really, get a life, Tom). I don't know. It just seems to me these overused words that can be retired. Break out your Thesauruses, for crying out loud! How about a "castigate", "clobber" or "criticize"? Try out a "lambast" or "lash", just for a goof. If the people are acting really childish, bring out a "drubbing" for a descriptive flourish. And if you're feeling really quirky, then try on a "shellac" for size!

There is one more overused term that doesn't denote violent action. In fact, it's intention is the opposite:

"Shrugs" - 145 results

Although this term is not monopolized by the White House in news stories, it is most commonly found paired with George Bush or one of his senior staff. It is a gesture that immediately communicates to people, "Like I'm supposed to give a sh*t". In this, I cannot really ... ahem ... castigate the press too badly. You can change your terminology, but you can't your reality.

An amusing side note: the folks at have a word-of-the-day feature for people wanting to expand their vocabulary. Their word for today? Dissemble. Never let it be said that these folks don't read the papers.

(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Ruler of None

One last quickie for today. A headline from Yahoo! News:

Report: Saddam Insists He Is Iraqi Leader

Allow me to quote the perceptive wit of Ash on this subject:

"I got news for you pal. You ain't leading but two things right now: Jack and sh*t, and Jack left town."

Meeting the locals (Internet and Otherwise)

Alterations to Acrentropy continue unabated. The latest is a brand new link category on the right side for local bloggers. This came about when I discovered late last week that a blog completely unknown to me had posted a link to Acrentropy. Apparently it's by virtue of (a) my being from Jacksonville and (b) my having an unusual devotion to Chicken Caesar Salad. This young chappy (well, he's three years younger than me, so that'll do) is himself a resident of Cowford-That-Was, and I invite you all to go visit him and the other four new additions.

In other news, my weekend was consumed with two major activities: Visiting the new neighbors and three of their friends on Saturday night, and an expedition with some of my college friends to an Orlando computer show on Sunday. The later took up most of the day and ended up in my purchasing my first laptop: a used IBM Thinkpad with all the bells and whistles for $350 plus tax. My two college friends, who have far more knowledge in this area than I'll ever have, diagnosed the hell out of it before purchase to see if everything was kosher, so I'm pretty confident this little baby will serve me well for a good while.

As for the former event, it was a nice dinner of Paella, Sangria and a combative game of Cranium. Me and the other two guys defeated Mrs. Mosley and the women, and this was all the more astounding as I was the only one of the three of us who's first language was English (Portuguese and Danish for the other two). Mrs. Mosley has been trying to make friends with our neighbors, and I have complemented her on her efforts. It's good to know and share company with people that live only four houses down. If nothing else, it's very convenient when your tipsy on Sangria to be able to just walk home.

Quick: What do Jay Leno, potheads and Saddam Hussein have in common?

They're all nuts about Doritos!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Tid Bits

This week has been very light in terms of actual content on Acrentropy. What with the redesign and other things going on (plus the fact that I have had little to write about), I've resorted to just links. So allow me to continue this tradition with some completely random links to inform the general populace (i.e. Mrs. Mosley and anyone else who randomly stops by):

A book that Mrs. Mosley persuaded me to read years ago is getting adapted for the screen. The Children of Men, based on the novel by P.D. James, is to star Clive Owen and Julianne Moore and be directed by Alfonso Cuaron. There are a number of reasons to rejoice, here. First, the casting of Owen is great for such a dark, brooding story. Second, the director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a great choice for this film for the same reasons. Finally, the story concept itself was so rich in the story and will be equally so in the film. For those who have not read it, it's the near future where the human civilization is slowly dying out due to everyone on earth mysteriously becoming infertile. I have high hopes for this film.

Tourism for Cheapskates.

A victory for libraries today as the House of Representative voted to restrict provisions of the Patriot Act that allows FBI access to library records. Speaking of libraries, I attended a class last week called The Invisible Web about accessing corners of the web that most Search Engines do not go to. The class website has tons of very interesting and helpful links.

Bad clothes. Bad hair. Just...BAD.

I recently got my copy of Brian Froud's latest Goblins book, and it's as great as everything else he's done. Froud is the guy who worked with Jim Henson on the designs for The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. His books are along the same line and, therefore, incredibly creative and funny. I just discovered that Froud has his own website. But then, of course, doesn't everyone these days?

Finally, one of my latest acquisitions to be soon added to the La-La Land Library collection: Pimpadelic Wonderland. The name says it all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Flash of Brilliance

This is the most hilarious, surreal g*dd*mn thing I've seen in quite a while. If only all cross-marketing schemes were as wonderfully screwy as this one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Repairing & Reposting

I'm not sure if it was something I did that did it, but the line spacing problem seems to have been solved. And there was much rejoicing.

On a separate note, I've revised my previously posted Uber-review of The Lion in Winter over at Blogcritics. Go check it out.

Feeling my pain

I do still love my job, make no mistake, but there have been more customers lately of the "don't-seem-to-be-all-there" variety. It's times like these that a quote from Garrison Keillor rings true with me:
"Librarians...possess a vast store of politeness. These are people who get asked regularly the dumbest questions on God's green earth. These people tolerate every kind of crank and eccentric and mouth-breather there is."
It gives me comfort that someone out there knows what this job can be like. Somehow I think Keillor has an even better idea of it than Laura Bush does.

Monday, June 13, 2005

New digs

So how do you like it? It certainly is...grayer.

But I'll be tinkering with the colors later on. I also seem to be having some spacing issues with this new template. All my posts that had a single blank line between paragraphs has crammed them together when I view it from work. At home, it looks normal. It may be a IE vs. Firefox thing, but I'm determined to fix it.

More later.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A is for Arlene

Well, It's been about five months, so I guess it's time to change the blog design again. Look for the change over the weekend.

In other news, Hurricane season has begun, and the whole of Jacksonville let loose a collective moan of dread at the news of Arlene heading through the Gulf. The good news is that, at least with this first hurricane, it looks like the most Jacksonville will suffer is a few ruined cookouts. Ah, but the season is still very young. We're all strapping down here, and Mrs. Mosley and I plan on stocking up on some supplies this weekend with our new BJ's club card. We certainly hope we don't have another whole week without power like last year, but we'll prepare for the worst.

Have a good weekend. And to those poor folks in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama: Stay dry.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Glengarry Glen Grunts

There's a side of me, a trusting side, that believes Bush was sincere when he balked at the idea of reinstating the draft. This side theorizes that he believed things would get better before they got worse, and the flow of body bags back to the states would do little to deter young men to sign up. Whether or not this was his theory, it's turning out to be wrong.

The shortfall of new military recruits is becoming more and more dire. But before we get to the drastic step of a draft, we must have the stage where Dubya and friends insist that everything is fine (or just cover up the numbers), while the recruiters themselves twist in the wind to make quotas. I suggest they update David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross for the 21st century by replacing the desperate real estate salesmen with military recruiters. But, hey, instead of stealing valuable leads from a safe, they could bully then kidnap an 18 year old into the service!

Ridiculous? Maybe not:

Marine recruiters began a relentless barrage of calls to Axel as soon as the mellow, compliant Sedro-Woolley High School grad had cut his 17th birthday cake. And soon it was nearly impossible to get the seekers of a few good men off the line.

With early and late calls ringing in their ears, Marcia tried using call blocking. And that's when she learned her first hard lesson. You can't block calls from the government, her server said. So, after pleas to "Please stop calling" went unanswered, the family's "do not answer" order ensued.

But warnings and liquid crystal lettering can fade. So, two weeks ago when Marcia was cooking dinner Axel goofed and answered the call. And, faster than you can say "semper fi," an odyssey kicked into action that illustrates just how desperate some of the recruiters we've read about really are to fill severely sagging quotas.

Let what we learned serve as a warning to other moms, dads and teens, the Cobbs now say. Even if your kids actually may want to join the military, if they hope to do it on their own terms, after a deep breath and due consideration, repeat these words after them: "No," "Not now" and "Back off!"

"I've been trained to be pretty friendly. I guess you might even say I'm kind of passive," Axel told me last week, just after his mother and older sister had tracked him to a Seattle testing center and sprung him on a ruse.

The next step of Axel's misadventure came when he heard about a cool "chin-ups" contest in Bellingham, where the prize was a free Xbox. The now 18-year-old Skagit Valley Community College student dragged his tail feathers home uncharacteristically late that night. And, in the morning, Marcia learned the Marines had hosted the event and "then had him out all night, drilling him to join."

A single mom with a meager income, Marcia raised her kids on the farm where, until recently, she grew salad greens for restaurants.

Axel's father, a Marine Corps vet who served in Vietnam, died when Axel was 4.

Clearly the recruiters knew all that and more.

"You don't want to be a burden to your mom," they told him. "Be a man." "Make your father proud." Never mind that, because of his own experience in the service, Marcia says enlistment for his son is the last thing Axel's dad would have wanted.

The next weekend, when Marcia went to Seattle for the Folklife Festival and Axel was home alone, two recruiters showed up at the door.

Axel repeated the family mantra, but he was feeling frazzled and worn down by then. The sergeant was friendly but, at the same time, aggressively insistent. This time, when Axel said, "Not interested," the sarge turned surly, snapping, "You're making a big (bleeping) mistake!"

Next thing Axel knew, the same sergeant and another recruiter showed up at the LaConner Brewing Co., the restaurant where Axel works. And before Axel, an older cousin and other co-workers knew or understood what was happening, Axel was whisked away in a car.

"They said we were going somewhere but I didn't know we were going all the way to Seattle," Axel said.

Just a few tests. And so many free opportunities, the recruiters told him.

He could pursue his love of chemistry. He could serve anywhere he chose and leave any time he wanted on an "apathy discharge" if he didn't like it. And he wouldn't have to go to Iraq if he didn't want to.

At about 3:30 in the morning, Alex was awakened in the motel and fed a little something. Twelve hours later, without further sleep or food, he had taken a battery of tests and signed a lot of papers he hadn't gotten a chance to read. "Just formalities," he was told. "Sign here. And here. Nothing to worry about."

By then Marcia had "freaked out."

She went to the Burlington recruiting center where the door was open but no one was home. So she grabbed all the cards and numbers she could find, including the address of the Seattle-area testing center.

Then, with her grown daughter in tow, she high-tailed it south, frantically phoning Axel whose cell phone had been confiscated "so he wouldn't be distracted during tests."

Axel's grandfather was in the hospital dying, she told the people at the desk. He needed to come home right away. She would have said just about anything.

But, even after being told her son would be brought right out, her daughter spied him being taken down a separate hall and into another room. So she dashed down the hall and grabbed him by the arm.

"They were telling me I needed to 'be a man' and stand up to my family," Axel said.

What he needed, it turned out, was a lawyer.
And as a side note to close this out: If you truly believe any of that "apathy discharge" BS in the age of Stop Loss, then I have some swampland in my backyard to sell ya.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Five Year Plan Redux

Somebody who shall remain nameless (cough) was raising quite a bit of fuss last month over the use of Soviet colors and emblems on clothing sold at Target.

I wonder if there would be similar outrage over this in the Baltimore/DC area. Of course, it's for Homeland Security, so it must be OK.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Letting facts and anger get in the way of blind worship

This is the basic truth: You cannot trust George W. Bush. He made numerous statements affirming his desire to solve the problem with Iraq without war. At the same time, he was doing his damnedest behind the scenes to manipulate data in order to justify going to war.

I'm not saying anything that numerous other men and women have laid out on their own blogs already, but I'm saying it anyway. His half-assed, not thoroughly thought out plan for Iraq has resulted in so many dead that I should say something. I'm not some extreme left wing nut comparing him to Hitler or Mussolini or some other damn despot. The truth (and the problem) is we don't who the hell he is. He's not some good old boy from Texas who understands the common man, that's for damn sure. His motives are unclear and his methods reprehensible.

Again, nothing terribly original about this post, but sometimes you just have to reiterate the truth to ease your mind back below the breaking point.

Keith David makes the "Hey! It's That Guy!" list

The subject of Acrentropy's quote-of-the-month series for 2005 has made the beloved character actor listings at Fame Tracker.

Alas, Yaphet Kotto remains unlisted.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Dark Tower: Reflections on a series

Years ago, I picked up The Gunslinger and was enthralled. I sped through the first three books of Stephen King's Dark Tower series only stopping because the fourth had yet to be published. It was a year after that when Wizard and Glass came out and I found that I no longer had the burning desire to read any more. The flashback structure put me off, and I went no further than Rhea of the Coos.

Then, back in November, I decided to go back to it again for two reasons. One, all seven books were now in print, so there would be no waiting after I finished one to get to the next. And two, all seven were available in audio form, which I thought would be a great way to enjoy the entire series. So now, after approximately 140 hours of audio CD, I've come to the end. Some thoughts (And there are necessary spoilers here, so Dark Tower virgins be warned):

For years after I initially read the first three books, I'd occasionally have an impulse to tap my throat three times with two fingers and say "Thankee-sai". Aside from this being a real geeky thing to do, the more extraordinary part of this is I had absolutely no memory of where I picked this up. It's an illustration of what I most admire from the books: the unique expressions of language used to create this world. Not only unique but also natural. The speech patterns are therefore quite credible as everyday language. "Do you ken it?", "Do you say so? Then let it be so." and "Long days and pleasant nights" are just some of the turns of phrase that I'll carry with me long after I have finished these books.

My first impression those years ago when I stopped at the fourth book has carried over to now: Wizard and Glass is the weakest link. Primarily, this is due to the flashback that makes up the bulk of the novel. It's too drawn out for it's own damn good. You could argue this was on purpose as Roland and his friends bided their time in Mejis, but I think it goes beyond that. I think King fell too much in love with Susan and Cordelia and Eldred and Thorin and so on so that it just got too unwieldy for its own good. I think King forgot his big piece of advice from his On Writing text: Kill you darlings, Kill your darlings, Kill your darlings.

And one other note on Wizard and Glass: It also has the least satisfying ending. The Wizard of Oz thing was a little too much for me, more so than any of the other literary and cultural allusions used throughout. And it was also disappointing that a vicious, interesting villain (i.e. The Tick Tock Man) was brought back into the picture at such great effort only to be shot dead within the first few pages of seeing him again. Gee, thanks for the cameo, Andrew Quick.

As if to make up for all this, the first section of The Wolves of Calla was the most satisfying beginning of the series. This whole portion does a wonderful job of introducing Tian Jaffords, Andy the Robot and the story as a whole. The exposition never feels forced, and I am left eager to know the further details of this little community full of farmers and ranchers eeking out a living and the horrible fate of their children. Also, of all the fantastical and strange names that King comes up with for this world, my favorite was given to a barren tract of land mentioned in this intro: "Son-of-a-bitch"

I remain undecided on the whole Meta turn the books took in The Wolves of Calla. It did make me glad that I had read (twice, in fact) the aforementioned On Writing, as his views of the writing process and details of his accident were great supplementary material to the later books. It seems clear that the Dark Tower series is more personal to him than any of his other works, so it must have seemed natural for him to insert himself into the proceedings. As a result, we get a portrait of the man himself to go along with Roland's inner demons.

In terms of the format I used to experience this epic, the voice work was top notch. Aside from a recording of King himself doing Drawing of the Three (more on this in a moment) Frank Muller did the first four books. Stephen King actually inserts a note about Muller in the fifth book recording and expresses his sadness at his death and how he would not be able to complete the series. George Guidall picks up where Muller left off for the last three books. Both did very well with the characters and had sufficient range to paint distinct portraits of all the myriad characters of New York, Midworld and everywhere else.

When I was ready to read the second book, the only audio copy available at the library was the King read version, recorded back in 1991. These days, King is well practiced in reading for audiobooks (for the third time, let me invoke his On Writing, whose audio version is read by King and is excellent), but this was apparently not the case back in 1991. It could also just be chalked up to poor production values, but the bottom line is that it's a rough listen with a lot of audible breathing and such. Still, these are King's characters and who better to bring across their manners of speech. The only drawback is King's Eddie, which sounds so much like vintage 1970 George Carlin recordings as to be distracting.

And then there's the ending to the series as a whole. As those of you who have read it know, there are actually two endings. The first shows the fate of Susannah after she enters the door to Central Park. This ending was fine with me, and was a nice way to wrap up the story of the other Ka-tet members. The second ending, that for Roland, is preceded by a commentary from King on the nature of journeys and the persistence of fandom. He further states that his revealing of Roland's fate might be upsetting to his readers. To this I say, if he really didn't want us to see what happened when Roland entered the tower, he need not print it. He yields to the psychic arm-twisting of his fans and concludes the story of Roland for us.

To Mr. King I have to say, he need not have worried about our reactions. Anyone who has the patience and persistence (Not unlike Roland's dogged determination. What does that say about us?) to get through almost 4,000 pages of text must have a feeling for the themes and characters that have been laid out. With that in mind, Roland's ending inside the Tower was just as fulfilling as Susannah's, if not more so. After all, Ka is like a wheel.

(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)

Literary Excerpts

It's going to be a busy day today, so I leave you with some choice quotes from my favorite books:

The Last Dancer by Daniel Keys Moran - "The young tend to be concerned with dying well. Personally I worry more about when; I expect to go out screaming and shooting and generally comporting myself with a lack of dignity."

Unlikely Stories, Mostly by Alasdair Gray - "The saint was small, paunchy and bow-legged. He squatted before a crack in a rocky cliff, grinning and blinking mirthlessly, like a toad. The emperor told the soldiers to wait, went forward, knelt before the saint and talked about the problem of empire."

The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable by Terry Pratchett - "I DON'T HOLD WITH CRUELTY TO CATS, said Death, putting it gently on the floor."

Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates by Tom Robbins - Are you kidding? I can't pick just one! Just go out and read the darn thing!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Grunt, the Reverend and the Mogul

Here are some stories about three individuals that deserve all the recognition they can get.

Via Demagogue, we learn of Sgt. Robert Stout who was recently wounded in Iraq. He received a Purple Heart for his wounds...and a discharge for his sexual preference. He expressed his desire to remain in Iraq and do his duty, but he was honorably discharged due to his being an open homosexual. Considering the recruiting nightmares that the military is experiencing, it shows how f*cked up the priorities of conservatives are when his being gay trumps his being a patriotic American wishing to do his duty even after getting a face full of grenade shrapnel. In Ken Burns' The Civil War, we hear about the barrage of questions Dorothea Dix used when choosing nurses for her field hospitals. Near the end of the war, the only question she had was, "When can you start?".

Via Daily Kos, we hear from Rev. Dr. John Lentz, who has brought to light some nefarious practices going on in Ohio churches. The brave few like this pastor are trying to talk some sense into these other churches, but I don't know if it will do any good. However, if churches want to insert themselves and their flocks in the political process, then they need to go ahead and give up their tax-exempt status. To quote George Carlin: "If holy people are so interested in politics, government and public policy, let them pay the price of admission like every body else! The catholic church alone could wipe out the national debt if all ya' did was tax their real estate holdings!"

Via Blah3, we listen to Ted Turner as he gives a speech to a group of CNN employees. He speaks of how the network, which he no longer has a controlling interest of, should cover more international news stories and less "pervert of the day" stories. A perfect message for a network that has lost its way since the glory days. It will probably fall on deaf ears, but this story does affirm a fact about millionaires and political parties: We Democrats may have far fewer rich guys on our side, but at least ours have a lick of common sense.

And on a lighter note, via Boing Boing, we have two very choice links to furniture and shirts that are beyond cool. Though I'd certainly be willing to own and wear that shirt myself, I think I'd pass on the furniture for fear of waking up in the middle of the night and thinking I was trapped in a Tim Burton movie.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

"Spinning Seizures"

I'm not much of a video game player as I used to be. The only thing I play semi-regularly is Delta Force, which is perfect for fulfilling that occasional need for military mayhem. Still, I found a lot to like in this article about gaming pet peeves. I swear, this one line had me laughing for ten straight minutes when I first read it:
"Look at the little guy. The one on the left. The one who's just a head. I mean, let's face it: strategy is all that guy's got going for him. He has no limbs and he's already on fire."

Keith David Quote of the Month: June 2005

Keith David has had a lot of big roles in big films, but I think my favorite line of his comes from a smaller film titled "Dead Presidents". In this story, a couple of childhood friends go to Vietnam and survive, only to have trouble adjusting to life back in the old neighborhood. David plays Kirby, the local pool hall owner who in one scene is assaulted outside of his place. Kirby ends up using his artificial leg to beat the crap out of the mugger, all while he hops around on his one good leg. The line he utters after this is over is priceless:

Kirby: Everyone in this town knows I've only got one leg! And that m*therf*cker grabbed the wrong one!