Sunday, June 29, 2008

Occupation: Foole

So, it appears that Fred Phelps is taking time out from protesting the funerals of American soldiers to pay a special visit to George Carlin.

First off, I'd imagine George would be honored to be so singled out. Second, I bet he'd be laughing his ass off if he were there to see it. I mean, It's one thing to protest dead soldiers and the emotionally fragile friends and relatives in attendance. But when you go to George Carlin's funeral, those in attendance will bound to have a different take. Fred Phelps is going to show up and put forth the kind of despicable church figure that George always railed against, and it's going to be hilarious.

Remember folks, not only is laughter the best medicine, but sometimes it's also the best ammo.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

And now for some weekend gloating

February 2005:

With Bush re-elected, Rove is thinking long-term. He intends to use both politics and policy to create a permanent Republican majority. He designs a legislative agenda that he hopes will lead to future Republican gains.

June 2008:

Karen Hanretty, communications director for the NRCC, reacted to the private report by acknowledging the difficulties confronting her party.

"This is a challenging environment," she said. "Any Republican running for office has to run basically on an independent platform, localize the race and not take anything for granted. There are no safe Republican seats in this election."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ten observations about Battle Royale

After contacting my underground sources, I finally procured a copy of the infamous Japanese 2000 film Battle Royale. For those unfamiliar with the story, it concerns a Japan in the near future where an annual national lottery chooses one ninth grade class to go to an island where they are instructed to kill each other until there is only one student left. Here are my thoughts (Spoilers Ahoy!):

1) First off, let's clear up the big rumor: Battle Royale was not banned in the United States. It never made it into theaters here mainly due to money problems (though it must also be said that Columbine probably deterred the big studios in its own way). The movie is available for purchase on DVD in this country, but you cannot rent it through Blockbuster. Apparently, they're giving it the full Last Temptation of Christ treatment.

2) In terms of the controversial content, allow me to compare it to the Brazilian film City of God, which came out two years after this one, was nominated for four Oscars and encountered no controversy when it came out in the US. In that film, we have children children (not just 9th graders as in Battle Royale) running around with guns and shooting each other. Furthermore, City of God has been said to be an accurate portrait of real life in the Rio slums. Yet the over-the-top Japanese future-fantasy film catches all the flack? Not very fair, IMHO.

3) One of the two recognizable faces here for Western audiences is Chiaki Kuriyama, who on the strength of this performance earned the role of Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill. One irony I noticed was that she dies wearing a yellow track suit; precisely the outfit Uma Thurman is wearing when Gogo attacks her in Kill Bill (I know the outfit in Kill Bill is an homage to Bruce Lee, but I don't know if that's the same intention in Battle Royale).

4) The other actor I recognized was Takeshi Kitano, who starred in Brother. I read that in 1995, he was in a motorcycle accident that resulted in major reconstructive surgery to his face. As a result, he has very little facial movement, which he has used to his great advantage in his portrayal as poker-faced killers. Much the same here, though he showcases a lot more humor here than in Brother.

5) My favorite subplot concerned the three hackers (well, one hacker and his two gofers, actually). And though I knew they were all probably doomed, I loved how their own narrative threads ended. They certainly died much better deaths than some of their classmates.

6) Each student is issued a supply pack with a random weapon inside. The filmmakers seriously stacked the deck against our two lovesick protagonists by giving them the two of the most pathetic: Binoculars and a pot lid. Actually, the psycho kid Kiriyama also gets gypped with what appears to be a paper fan, but he's badass enough to find real weaponry in no time flat. My favorite "weapon", though, was the GPS that could track the movements of all other players. If I was in this game, that's the one I would want. In the words of Robert Duvall: DE-FENCE!

7) And speaking of Kiriyama, the first weapon he absconds is a machine gun. I can't remember the last time I saw such a blatant case of "unlimited ammo" as with this guy's weapon.

8) The biggest gaping plot hole is one that most people won't think about until afterwords. Despite the fact that the Battle Royale was initiated through an act of government, is broadcast in major media, and has been going on for at least three years now, the class is completely ignorant of it's existence. It's as if they lifted a class from real life Japan and dropped them in the film. This ignorance is solely for dramatic purposes, of course. The most memorable bit in the film is during their indoctrination when they are graphically shown the procedures of the game. You can feel the terror and panic in the dingy faux-classroom where their contest begins.

9) What bugged me during the film was not the ignorance of the students, but the lack of actual juvenile delinquency, which is supposed to be the impetus to the Battle Royale in the first place. Aside from one scene where the teacher is stabbed in the butt (and even that looks like an accident), we see no evidence of such youth out of control. Even given the possibility that the lottery on this particular occasion chose a rather benign class (and their behavior on the bus and in the basketball game flashback seems to confirm that), the film could have at least included some footage of other schools throughout the country where the kids are out of control. Something like the opening sequence of Lean on Me would have been perfect.

10) And, finally, my review: Pretty damn good. The film is gorgeous to look at, the young actors are uniformly solid with such difficult material, and the story will suck you in. Definitely recommended (if you can find a copy, that is).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Finally: An interesting use for Segway technology!

I've already done a post on monocycles once before (which I can't friggin find right now, otherwise I'd link to it), but this is just too cool not to showcase:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reason #342,692 why British TV programming is better than ours

"Teach the Controversy"

Ah, now here's a lovely set of muckraking T-shirts for all to enjoy (via Metafilter):

The point of these shirts is to show how silly the whole ID "Teach the Controversy" argument is because, unlike the Theory of Evolution, there's nothing scientific about it. Thus, ID is in the same league as the "Space Aliens built the Pyramids" theory and the "World is on the backs of four elephants, who are in turn supported by a giant space turtle" theory. I doubt that Christians would want ID placed alongside such theories as these, but they all share the commonality of having no scientific validity.

The problem here is with the top center design above. If you can't make it out, it's a picture of the Devil (in work overalls, no less) shoveling dirt onto some dinosaur bones. Most supporters of Intelligent Design would disapprove of all these designs ... except for that one. For them, the theory that Satan planted dinosaur bones in the earth so as to sew doubt in the minds of believers is completely plausible. It shares the unscientific nature with the others presented but, unlike the others, some Christians would have little problem with it.

So basically, you might very well find Christians wearing that top middle design without any humorous intent. Which makes me wonder if the manufacturers were cunning enough to actually plan that.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yet another hat

Alonzo Mosley: Blogger, You Tuber, and now Fanfic author.

Quick backstory: Mrs. Mosely became involved in L&C fanfic last year, so I decided to contribute something when I got inspired a couple of months ago. Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"...and I just said, 'Pffft, fuck that, I'll just have another heart attack."

If I had a black armband, I'd wear it.

The Master has died.

I hesitate to do a tribute to the man. Not for lack of love, but for the fear that I would ramble on incessantly about him.

But he himself was in love with words, and he passed that love onto me at an early age. Everyone today will be citing his most famous routine in the obits; the one that led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling. But instead of repeating the legendary seven, let me take an excerpt from the very beginning of this routine:

"There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are 7 of them you can't say on television. What a ratio. Three hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety three... to seven. They must really be bad. They must be outrageous... to be separated from a group that large. All of you over here, you seven... Baaaaaaaaaad words. And that's what we call them, right? 'That's a bad word!' Awww... No bad words. Bad thoughts, bad intentions, and words..."

I could wax poetic about language from this point, but I'll refrain. George said so many things that needed to be said about language and communication that I could never hope to measure up to. And when he receives his (posthumous) Mark Twain Prize for Humor this November, it's going to be one hell of a tribute to a man we were damned lucky to have as long as we did.

Goodbye, George.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Ed Woods Guide to Filmmaking"

OK. I lied. This is my last post before the weekend. It's my latest YouTube project, which I just completed last night. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The War Against Straight Answers

I'm tapping out for the weekend. To hold us all until Monday, I'll leave us with some Get Your War On, which I had wandered away from last year but am glad to have rediscovered recently:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bottom One Percent?!?!?!?

Of course, I believe George Pickett graduated dead last from West Point, but still. I had no idea about John McCain's performance until a friend of mine pointed me to it today:
Some of the unreleased pages in McCain's Navy file may not reflect well upon his qualifications for the presidency. From day one in the Navy, McCain screwed-up again and again, only to be forgiven because his father and grandfather were four-star admirals. McCain's sense of entitlement to privileged treatment bears an eerie resemblance to George W. Bush's.

Despite graduating in the bottom 1 percent of his Annapolis class, McCain was offered the most sought-after Navy assignment -- to become an aircraft carrier pilot. According to military historian John Karaagac, "'the Airdales,' the air wing of the Navy, acted and still do, as if unrivaled atop the naval pyramid. They acted as if they owned, not only the Navy, but the entire swath of blue water on the earth's surface." The most accomplished midshipmen compete furiously for the few carrier pilot openings. After four abysmal academic years at Annapolis distinguished only by his misdeeds and malfeasance, no one with a record resembling McCain's would have been offered such a prized career path. The justification for this and subsequent plum assignments should be documented in McCain's naval file.

I had no idea he was such a royal screw-up both in School and the Service. Boy, he and Bush really do have a lot in common. There's much more in the full article, so I urge you to go read it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Life imitates Futurama

Could this be the future of our fuel needs?

Er, sorry. I mean, could this be the future of our fuel needs (via Crooks and Liars)?

"Ten years ago I could never have imagined I'd be doing this," says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. "I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into."

He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls "renewable petroleum". After that, he grins, "it’s a brave new world".

Monday, June 16, 2008

Do I make a Ben Hur or a Road Warrior reference in the post title?

My drive to work takes me through an Interstate exit that is a popular rest stop for truckers. While I was stopped at a light this morning, I looked in my rear view and spotted something like these on the truck behind me:

(Picture courtesy of sheogre over at Flickr)

The truth about this little addition to the wheels is much more mundane than you would think: They are "Chrome Plastic Lug Nut Covers - Spike Style". In other words, there is very little danger of these babies tearing up your tires should you piss off the driver.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mmmm. Enjoying that PB&J, Dad?

I realize that this is an odd thing to post on Father's day, but it's a prime example of poor parenting that i can proudly attest does not resemble my own wonderful parents in any way.

I don't know if this ever actually happened or not, but I can guarantee you it's at this very moment being forwarded to the email addresses of obnoxious mothers and fathers who don't have enough gray matter to fashion an argument that makes any logical sense.

I only hope that when I become a father, I won't be using piss-poor analogies on my children who aren't developed enough yet to realize that it's total BS (Of course, I'm not enough of an idiot to think that a couple of swear words in a movie will scar my child for life).

Oh, and kids, if you do happen to have a parent who performs this little exercise on you, then treat that smug paragon of virtue to the Wonders of the Internet. ENJOY!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"We got CLOUDS, BABY!"

I'm leaving you with this before I depart for Atlanta tonight. Y'all have a good weekend. Bye!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And you thought the Boston Tea Party was bad.

Busy busy busy. And it will be more of the same as I depart tomorrow night for a wedding in Atlanta. In the meantime, I offer an earnest plea to voters out there to keep in mind the important issues when casting your ballot in November:

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Nickel plated awesomeness

Long ago (before I got into the Library biz), I trained to be a mechanical drafter. I still have some fondness of those days, and that came rushing back as I beheld this stunning work of art (via Boing Boing):

I once worked at a table similar to this, but not nearly as gorgeous. And to think this was made in the 1940's blows my mind. If anybody wants to send me $20,000 to buy this thing, drop me an email.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"Why don't you say that to my face, Joe."

On the last post, I presented what I hope will be an indicator of McCain's performance in the coming general election.

Now allow me to present what I hope will be Obama's performance from now until November 4th:
Furthermore, during a Senate vote Wednesday, Obama dragged Lieberman by the hand to a far corner of the Senate chamber and engaged in what appeared to reporters in the gallery as an intense, three-minute conversation.

While it was unclear what the two were discussing, the body language suggested that Obama was trying to convince Lieberman of something and his stance appeared slightly intimidating.

Using forceful, but not angry, hand gestures, Obama literally backed up Lieberman against the wall, leaned in very close at times, and appeared to be trying to dominate the conversation, as the two talked over each other in a few instances.

Still, Obama and Lieberman seemed to be trying to keep the back-and-forth congenial as they both patted each other on the back during and after the exchange.

Afterwards, Obama smiled and pointed up at reporters peering over the edge of the press gallery for a better glimpse of their interaction.

Obama loyalists were quick to express their frustration with Lieberman's decision and warned that if he continues to take a lead role in attacking Obama it could complicate his professional relationship with the Caucus.

In short: Don't be an asshole (Republicans and Conservative pundits have that role covered), but don't take shit from anybody and let them get away with it without giving them a piece of your mind.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Popcorn Time!

A preview (we hope) of the next five months:

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The manhood that doesn't move

Congratulations on your ownership of a limited edition, three ton BOULDER:
Today, General Motors announced that it will be closing four truck and SUV plants in North America and may discontinue its Hummer line, citing the slumping sales of large vehicles brought on by high oil prices. Sales of the Hummer were down 61 percent last month, and May was also the first month in which cars outsold the Ford F-series truck since 1992. In place of the Hummer, GM CEO Rick Wagoner announced that the GM board has approved production of a new small automobile and a new electric car. As CBS reported, Wagoner "said the change in the U.S. market to smaller vehicles likely is permanent."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Really? After all this time?

So this is how it works: When there is a news story on one of the IMDb's news services, they grab the name of the article's subject and find their picture through their IMDb profile to go with the story. If by some bizarre chance that person does not have a picture uploaded to their profile, then they use a picture of someone else named in the article, which leads to something like this:

Magic bullet or not, I doubt there's much left to operate on.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Giancarlo Esposito Quote of the Month: June 2008

In the hilarious commentary track for The Usual Suspects DVD, director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie let loose on all sorts of topics concerning the movie. When Giancarlo pops up as FBI agent Jack Baer, they point out how he's dressed not like a modern FBI agent, but like some film noir detective with a dash of beatnik thrown in. At the same time, they don't really apologize for the anachronism because Giancarlo looks awesome in his outfit and does a great job with the character.

Here he is talking to Sgt. Rabin (the equally awesome Dan Hedaya) about what he knows of the mysterious Keyser Soze:

Sgt. Rabin: You've heard of him?

Baer: Where? On the street?

Sgt. Rabin: Yeah.

Baer: A few times. You know, outside stuff. Somebody working for a guy who worked for a guy who got some money from Keyser Soze. Shit like that. (pause) It could be an old badge. You know, a hex sign. Keep people from fucking with you back when a name used to mean something.

Sgt. Rabin: But you're here.

Baer: Well shit, yeah. I got a guy trying to walk out of a hospital on a fried drumstick because he's afraid of Soze. Yeah, I'll run it up the flagpole.