Thursday, February 28, 2008

My evening with Bill O'Reilly

I watched The O'Reilly Factor today, but I don't have that much to say about it. After the idiocy of Hannity & Colmes, it seemed like some real quality TV.

What can I say that I and many others haven't said already? It's the "No Spin Zone," but it's all spin. He pretends that he's impartial, but he clearly isn't. I wouldn't have such a problem with his politics if he was just a little bit more transparent about it. Whatever, nothing new here.

The only thing that gets me is his comparing of people to the Nazis. That crap is getting old. When people wrote into his show to call him on it, he told them that they should "look at the history." Well, I know my history, and I know that O'Reilly plays a lot of the same games that the Nazis did as well. Yeah, like he doesn't demonize a group of people with his whole thing about "secular progressives." Meh. Comparisons to Nazis are completely losing their punch. I declare a moritorium for the next ten years, from either the left of the right.

That's all. Next time, it'll be Olbermann's show.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reflections on Hannity & Colmes

Okay, I know that I already wrote two blogs on it, but I've been stewing on this stupid show all day. I actually recorded another one, but I went ahead and deleted it. I'd rather watch marathons of The View and The Nanny back-to-back then see that bunch of nonsense again.

I tried to be open-minded. I honestly did. As my friend/colleague/secret gay lover/fellow Daywalker Andrew Nolan said (I'm paraphrasing), I wanted to give it a chance since I felt that I was only judging it based on soundbites, but little did I realize that the whole show is nothing BUT soundbites!

Is it possible that they just happened to air the two shittiest episodes back-to-back and if I kept watching, I'd see something worth seeing? I suppose, but I'm not going to devote any more of my time to it. I mean, I've never really tasted dog shit, but it is safe to assume that it's bad. In the case of Hannity and Colmes, there was a whole bucket of dog shit, and I actually took a couple of bites. I feel as though that probably was more than enough.

I was going to watch the O'Rwellian Factor today, but I need a bit of a break. I'll try it next week. I'll also try Kieth Olbermann's show. Beyond that, it may be enough. I mean, am I missing something if I don't watch Scarborough? I'm probably not missing anything as it is,

If anything, it's made me appreciate the wit and intelligence behind The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I've been stewing on a tribute to Colbert blog for awhile now. Watching O'Reilly might just push me over the edge to finally write it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hannity & Colmes - Day 2

Today I'm blogging as I'm watching, as I feel as though I'm wasting too much time by watching this show in the first place. I'll also be paying close attention to Willy and Oliver, and I'll let you all know if they do anything interesting. (Oliver is currently sitting at my side, and Willy is sniffing around randomly. Doesn't look like much will happen here.)

The show starts off with Colmes interviewing Newt Gingrich. Newt actually asks some fair questions regarding what's going to happen if we leave Iraq. Colmes, while saying things that are basically correct (like how we should have gone after the people who actually attacked us before going to Iraq), dodges Gingrich's points. But what can you expect when this show is basically formatted in a way that all you can do is answer in soundbites? 'Cause sure enough, Hannity gets into the mix, and he's still harping on the whole thing about what Obama's wife said and what she wrote when she was in college. YAWN! Hannity, how long are you going to play this tune? His wife isn't running - get over it. Also, Hannity is saying the exact same mantra regarding Obama's church. Again, it's worth actually looking into, but nobody's actually looking into it on this show - they're just repeating the same questions.

And blah blah blah, Colmes gets into what Obama's wife said too...ugh, who cares.

Dammit, they're talking about the same shit they talked about yesterday! I bet that I'll learn nothing from this too. What the hell is my cat up to? Dangit, he's in the computer room with my wife.

After Gingrich, Colmes is talking to a couple of people about Clinton's floundering campaign. Meh. I don't like Clinton anyway, so I don't care. Now they're arguing about whether the Republicans or the Democrats had a greater diversity of viewpoints with their candidates. Now Hannity is using "liberal" as an insult, like conservatives like to do. It's a good way of avoiding any issues when you can dismiss a person with a label.

And Hannity is also going on about how we shouldn't pull out and declare defeat in Iraq. There is a bit of a point to that, but I have to wonder, just how long and how many lives does this war need to cost us? That's the counter that conservatives don't seem to want to deal with. My dad once said that when the Iraqis had elections that Bush should have then declared victory and got out. Works for me. Let's just find some other arbitrary victory benchmark and use that.

In the second half, they're interviewing some radio host named Bill Cunningham. He's one of those people who likes to say "Barack Hussein Obama." That's such a douchebag move, and he keeps saying it. It's like something the schoolyard bully would do.

Jesus, this Cunningham shouts everything he says. Is he at a rock concert? Holy crap, this guy is a nut.

Now Colmes is talking about how this Cunningham once called him "Barack Hussein Mohammed Obama". Who gives a shit? This guy is an idiot. Who are they going to interview next? The guy who hangs out behind the 7-11? Ugh...why does this guy even get airtime? Is this shit for real? And they continue to talk about who this guy calls by their full names and who he doesn't. This is a news show?

I feel as though this show is making me dumber. Next thing you know, I'm going to start putting apostrophes on plural noun's. What really gets me is that this thing has the pretense of being a NEWS show, and even a DEBATE show. I see little of either.

Now they're talking to a focus group, and none of them can name an accomplishment of Obama when Hannity asks them to do so. One of them does though, and Hannity ignores what he says.

It's after the break, and they're still talking to the focus group and they're talking about the picture of Obama dressed as a Muslim when he visited Kenya. All of the people are saying, "Who cares?" yet the guy interviewing them is still pushing the issue. he's talking about the middle name thing. Are you fucking kidding me? Is this really something that we need to be talking about?

Oh boy, Hannity's going to ask a question. I bet it'll be douchey. Oh yeah, now he's talking about how Obama's pastor gave an award to Farrakhan, and he's saying the same damn thing that he said at the top of the show and asking the group about that.

They end off with who Obama would want to play him in a movie.

This show is stupid, and I'm done with it. I'm not going to waste my time with another. I guess it's the "No Spin Zone" next time.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hannity & Colmes & Hannity

Okay, so today I began my Week O' Punditry. I watched an episode of Hannity & Colmes and an episode of Hannity's America.

As for H&C, I found myself paying more attention to my cat and my dog, who were playing with each other. The beginning of the show dealt with the statements that Obama's wife said about "being proud to be American for the first time." It also touched on how the rhetoric of the Clinton campaign seems to be that of a campaign that's floundering. Okay, fine.

I didn't find any fault with the first half, although I felt like Colmes was trying a bit hard to get his guests to argue when there wasn't really an argument to be had. Later, they did the thing where they split the screen up four ways and they all talked over one another. Again, Colmes tried to make a mountain out of a molehill by questioning why Republicans and the Clinton campaign are asking questions about Obama's religious affiliations (apparently, the leader of his church may or may not be some kind of black separatist - had an article on the guy awhile ago, and he seems harmless enough.) Personally, I think it's fair game to look at a candidates religious beliefs. Whatever, there was nothing really going on there.

Then Hannity threw himself into the mix and he got into it with some guy and another guy talked over both of them and nobody was really saying anything. Could I be more specific and go into what they were actually saying? I suppose I could, but I could also give you a rundown as to how stinky my cat's litterbox is. Just take my word for it, okay? It stinks.

So, I guess it's supposed to be a debate show, but I didn't really see any real debate. I saw people disagreeing and talking over one another about things that weren't really very significant.

As for Hannity's America, I could sum that up as:

Agh!!! Aghhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! The illegal immigrants are coming over the border and they want to take your jobs, destroy the country and rape your pets!!!!!!!!!!! AGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don't get me wrong, as I do believe that something needs to be done about the immigration issues, but this was fear mongering of the worst kind. One story after another about Mexicans (and yes, it was continuously pointed out that they were indeed MEXICANS) and "The Price We Pay." All sorts of quick cuts, ominous music, etc. to make the common citizen frightened were included. There was even a bit about some city near Dallas where they were getting some new sort of "Cheese Heroin" and it was killing the kids. Of course, this was coming from MEXICO!!!!! Agh!!!! Hannity made it sound like it was some kind of epidemic that was bound to kill every kid you know.

Then he went into how the reason why so many Mexicans are hopping the border is because their government is corrupt and that there are many business owners here who are more than happy to take advantage of them. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Oh, my side! Bwah ha ha ha ha!!!!! I'm just bullshittin' ya! He didn't even mention that!

I'll watch at least another episode of H&C, but I think I've had it with Hannity's Hour of Yellow Journalism, even though next week he's going to cover how those lousy Spanish sunk the Maine.

Ugh. I'd say that I was feeling dumber, but then I watched a little bit of Mythbusters and I learned that it's actually possible to create a grappling-hook device like the superheroes use. Bitchin'. I'm gonna get on that in case any Mexicans attack me tonight.

People are dumb, seriously...

A lot of people, even my fellow Americans, like to point out the stupidity/ignorance of the average American. Personally, I don't think that comments like that go far enough. People in general are pretty stupid, as evidenced by the following:

Yup, the French are just as dumb. In case you didn't want to watch the whole thing, it basically comes down to it that the game show contestant didn't know what revolves around The Earth. More than half the audience thought that the sun went around The Earth.

What the hell is wrong with people? Do they just sit in a cave all day watching reality TV? How can you go through life being THAT ignorant? Ugh. It hurts my head.

I remember watching Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" segment one time, and he asked a couple of college graduates whether the moon or the sun was bigger. They went with the moon. He also asked how many planets were in the solar system - they went with about 1,000.

Is it any wonder why half the population doesn't believe in evolution? Clearly, they're too dumb to understand it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Yesterday I went to WonderCon, as I mentioned that I would in my previous post. Kirsti and I had a good time, but I'm starting to feel more and more overwhelmed by the crowds every year that I go there. This was the 22nd year in a row that I've gone, and I remember when it was just a little thing (comparatively) in the Oakland Convention Center. Now it's a huge affair at Moscone Center in San Francisco.

I've enjoyed the conventions of the recent past, but it'll be tough to top the ones that I went to when I was a teenager. For one thing, Marvel Comics, which for some reason hasn't had a presence at the Con in about a decade, used to be there, and they'd have panels and booths with all sorts of information about upcoming Marvel stuff. This was chance to meet many of the creators who were behind some of my favorite comics, and to me, they were just as important as any actor/actress/director/etc. Marvel would also try to liven up the panels by making game-show type presentations, and I recall winning a year-long subscription to Daredevil one year. Good times.

It's only been in the past five years or so that they get a big-name Hollywood celebrity to show up. It all started with Tobey Maguire's appearance to promote Spider-Man 2. Since then, they've had the likes of Christian "Batman" Bale, Brandon "Superman" Routh, Gerard "King Leonidas" Butler, etc. Kirsti and I were hoping that this year would follow suit, and since the big summer movie that was being promoted was Iron Man, we were hoping for Robert Downey, Jr. No such luck, but the director, Jon Favreau, was there, and I've been a fan of his since Swingers.

This year, Steve Carrel and Anne Hathaway were there to promote Get Smart. I'm not so sure that the movie will be anything great, but it was cool to see them anyway, as I've enjoyed their work in other stuff. Roland Emmerich was there to promote 10,000 B.C. and in all honesty, I doubt that I'll be seeing that one. This is the guy behind Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, so he's a bit of a hack, and I'm not interested in seeing another one of his overwrought films.

The exclusive trailer for Iron Man, however, looked really cool. Aside from the coolness of seeing a live-action Iron Man, it has a great cast, and the director is interested in not only telling a good story, but in keeping it faithful to the comics.

Speaking of which, I find it interesting that comic book movies have improved drastically over the past decade, and why is that? Mainly because they're getting people who are fans of the source material to make them. So, I know people who will eagerly go see the movies in the theater, but they look at me like I'm recommending anthrax when I suggest that they check out the comics as well. Oh well. (And yeah, I know, there have been some clunkers in the way of comic book movies. Still, the recent Punisher is Citizen Kane compared to the old, Dolph Lundgren version. The new one is bad, but it doesn't fail on pretty much every level like that one did. Don't get me started on Batman and Robin.)

So, I had a good time. I managed to spend a lot of money as well. I bought about $90 worth of books at half that price, so I did well.

Speaking of which, I'm trying to unload a large chunk of my collection. I'm not looking to make a lot of money off of them, but it'd be nice to get a little something. (Like a dime a piece, like I got at Comics and Cards, the comic book store that closed down last year.) Anybody interested in a ton of cheap comics? There's some decent stuff in there. Let me know before I just go ahead and just donate them.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Geeks in costumes

I know that I've covered this before very briefly in another blog, but since tomorrow's WonderCon, I thought I'd give it its own blog.

WonderCon, for those of you who don't know, is a comic book convention. As a fan of comics, it's a big deal for me, and this will be the 22nd annual show, and I've been to all of them. Unfortunately, and even at the lunch table where I work, people look at me like I'm going to a leper colony when I mention that I'm going there. They mention all the comic geeks and the people who dress up. They even ask me what I'm going to go dressed up as. Well, I'm not going to dress up, and I never have and I never plan on doing it. And while it's true that the convention attracts a lot of people who have nothing in their lives outside of comics, there are more people there who are simply like me - fans of comics, and comics are important to us, but we do have other things going on in our lives.

So, even though I don't dress up, it still irks me when people make fun of those who do. Now, I'll admit to poking fun at the people who dress up in really lame costumes that look as though they just slapped them together. However, people make fun of the guys (and girls) who wear the really elaborate, movie-prop quality, costumes. The notion is that these people obviously must not have a life since they were able to spend so much time making a costume.

Personally, I think that if that's your attitude, then you are an asshole. What's wrong with doing something that you enjoy? It's not for me, but if somebody wants to spend time making a costume, that's their business. I mean, I spend a lot of time making beer and watching movies - something that wouldn't interest others, but is my time really better spent doing those things?

Not only that, but the people with the really nice costumes attract a lot of people who want to have their pictures taken with them. Years ago at San Diego, my friend Scott and I brought a camera. We posed with some cool people who made some pretty cool costumes, including Captain America, Catwoman, Boba Fett, and Wolverine. These people weren't socially awkward, social misfits. They were just doing something that was fun, and they were sharing that fun with fans of those characters. I have also seen them pose with little kids, and who doesn't remember the thrill of getting their picture taken with Mickey Mouse when they were little? Same thing.

So, if you want to make fun of those people, realize that you're making fun of somebody who brings a little bit of fun and happiness to others. Also, ask yourself - what was it that YOU did that was so constructive lately? Watching TV? Getting drunk/stoned? Playing video games? Not that I judge people who do those things, (as I do a few of them myself) but is that a better use of one's time than doing something that's creative? Probably not.

So yeah, they may be nerds, but at least they're not assholes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Don't trust the media

Years ago, during the whole Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky brouhaha, I was working a rinky-dink job in the now defunct cybercafe, Internet Alfredo, in San Francisco. The day that all the salacious details went out online is one that I'll never forget, because we were bombarded with media attention. Okay, "bombarded" might be a bit extreme, but I fielded at least a couple of phone calls (one was broadcast on BBC radio) and a news crew came in to film.

Why were they coming to us? Is it because I'm a former boyfriend of Monica Lewinsky? Of course not, but the assumption was that everybody was going to be going online to check out all the details about Bill's cigar and Monica's hoo-ha. Realize, this was when the Internet was still catching on then, and I actually knew some people who didn't have email back then. So, the kinds of questions that I was being asked was, "Are people packing the place to read all the details?" I hated to disappoint them, but I think that there was only one person who came by for the express purpose of checking it out. Business was slow in general at that place, and it hardly picked up that day.

What really got me was the news crew that came in. The reporter actually said that people were "riveted to their computers, reading the news." they weren't. Still, she came there for a story, and I guess she wasn't going to be bothered to look for something that was actually happening.

It was pretty eye-opening. If that "story" was pretty much made up, then what else is?

Not only that, but on the rare occasion when the news reports on something that I really know a lot about, like comic books, they almost always get something wrong. Now, maybe comics aren't important, but if they can't get their facts straight about that, what else are they goofing?

Don't even get me started on how my local paper actually gave some legitimacy to people who check out crop circles in the hopes that aliens created them. (They didn't, get over it. We know that regular people can do it, so asking if aliens did it makes about as much sense as blaming leprechauns for your missing car keys.) Even more recently, they had an article about "psychic" phenomena and how supposedly there's a neighborhood that's haunted and some idiot's going to talk to the ghosts. Ugh.

There's a lot of criticism of the media. I don't really buy the whole thing about the media being "liberal." I'd be more inclined to agree with that if some tougher questions were asked about Iraq BEFORE we went in. (Like how we were going to deal with the sectarian animosities - why weren't they all asking that? Shit, I know that I thought of it, and I'm hardly an expert!) Of course, there's Fox News, which is most definitely NOT liberal. I wouldn't mind them so much if they weren't so Orwellian with their doublespeak about being "fair and balanced." I'd respect them if their motto was, "Conservative, so what are you gonna do?"

I've been badgering a conservative blogger lately, and we've been going back and forth on the pundits. He did, quite rightly, point out that maybe I should actually watch their shows instead of just referring to YouTube clips and when Stewart and Colbert lampoon them. Now, I don't take back the things I've written, because when Bill O'Reilly says something that's clearly false, then it's false no matter how much of his show I did or did not watch. Still, maybe he says a lot of good stuff too - I don't know.

I don't think that I'm going to watch all the pundit shows from now on - I might just have to kill myself if I even try that. What I will do is pick one a week and then write my thoughts on that. I will try my best to give an objective analysis of the show, and I'll try to leave my personal politics at the door. If somebody's on my side but using logical fallacies, then I'll point it out. If somebody on the opposite side makes a good point, then I'll point that out. Of course, to pretend that my biases will not have an effect at all would be the acme of foolishness. But I'll give it the old college try.

The show for next week? Hannity and Colmes. I'll set the ol' DVR for it. Let's see if I can make it to Tuesday without losing the will to live.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I got a new job

Lots of stuff swirling in my head today, but it's hard to put it down.

I wrote a blog some time ago on MySpace about They Might be Giants and how awesome they are, so I don't want to cover that ground again. Still, I've been listening to their new cd again, and again, and again, and's easily one of their best in some time.

One song in particular seems to be speaking to me right now. I don't want to explain it, as I doubt that I can, but for some reason this just seems to capture how I've been feeling. The lyrics are below. You'll either get it or you won't, but I warn you right now: you probably won't. (At least, you won't get how I relate this to what's going on with me lately.)

Below that is a totally random music video. TMBG didn't actually make one, but some random person on YouTube made a music video using the song and a clip of himself drawing a picture. It's a creepy picture of a zombie girl eating some nasty guts or something. Well, the song doesn't have anything to do with zombies, but I like zombies, so I guess that's better than nothing. Until TMBG makes their own video, I guess that's what I'm stuck with.

I can't talk, I got to go
Don't call me back, I won't get the door
Got to focus on the job
'Cause I got a new job climbing the walls

I was grinding my teeth, I was wasting my youth
And using up my teeth
Now I'm done chewing my nails
Hanging my head, chasing my tail
It got so bad I quit my job
Then I got a new job climbing the walls

Too much junk, too much junk
Can we please clear out this house?
In the trunk, in the trunk
And then we'll take it all to the dump

Then we won't need the car
'Cause we'll stay where we are
And I'll have all this room
I got tired of pacing the floor
Sick of it all, I'm done with the floor
Walked away ever since I got a new job climbing the walls

I was grinding my teeth, I was wasting my youth
And using up my teeth
Now I'm done chewing my nails
Hanging my head, chasing my tail
It got so bad I quit my job
Then I got a new job climbing the walls

The deep end, the deep end
People talk a lot, but they don't know
They pretend, they pretend
They don't really know how deep it goes

Now I misunderstood,
Thought the wall was just good
For staring blankly at
I got tired of pacing the floor
Sick of it all, I'm done with the floor
Walked away ever since I got a new job climbing the walls

Now I'm done chewing my nails
Hanging my head, chasing my tail
It got so bad I quit my job
Then I got a new job climbing the walls
Got a new job climbing the walls
Got a new job climbing the walls

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ruminations on Eagle-Man

I enjoyed writing about Eagle-Man so much on my blog that I've decided to start a new, separate blog where I can get out all of my thoughts and ideas for the stories in my head. You can find it at: . I will continue to post other random bits of detritus here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My repressed id

As anybody who reads my blog knows, I've certainly been blogging a lot. I'm not sure why I feel the constant need to write about everything that's been buzzing around in my head, but it's been some pretty good therapy for me. The thing is, I'm awfully tempermental when it comes to writing. I have at any given time about five different ideas swirling around in my head - for instance, this one has been knocking around in me for about a week now. However, whenever I sit down, I can only seem to write about what's right in the front of my brain. Not only that, but I need to keep writing until I'm done, and any distractions or delays make me somewhat irritable.

So, I've been writing. That's a good thing. Once upon a time, I fancied myself as a writer, and I had aspirations of writing a series of either novels or comic books featuring a character called Eagle-Man. Not that those aspirations are gone, I'm just having a hard time getting these stories told.

The whole deal with Eagle-Man began when I was working on The Talon, which was my high school's newspaper. I did a comic strip for it, and instead of doing your standard strip where everything led up to a gag at the end, I made it more of a comedy/adventure strip, and the humor came more from the absurdity of the situations than some sort of punchline. It took place on the campus of Clayton Valley High School, and Eagle-Man was a student there. He battled the villainous Teacher X, who was basically a guy with a bag on his head with a smiley face drawn on it. He once even duked it out with Baldwin, the school's mascot, in a fight that crashed through the panel borders and into the horoscope, covering up what my friend Scott had claimed would be the key to happiness. (I should point out that he looked pretty different from the picture on the left. He was more of a "bald" eagle and he wore something that was more like a superhero suit.

So, with the end of high school came the end of Eagle-Man. There didn't seem to be any point in continuing anything with him, as his adventures were tied into my high school life. Still, there was something in me that wanted to write superhero stories. (Why not continue to draw them? I eventually did wind up doing that, but I'm not really an artist, and I drew more as a means to an end, so I'm not really going to get into that here.)

There was something about life at San Francisco State University that made me feel like lashing out. I felt as though I was constantly around people who really pretentious but not informed enough to justify their pretentiousness. I was also sick to death of "coffee culture." People simply could not shut the hell up about "espresso" and "cappuccino" and whatever. When I went back home, I wanted to lash out at the "cowboy" culture of the Concord/Clayton area and the phoniness of "Young Country." Basically, I had issues, and I had a long, angry rant in my head about it.

That rant started to come out in stories about Eagle-Man. This was a different guy though. He lived in a place called Suburbia City, and he fought villains like The Piercer (who was behind the whole body piercing craze and put mind-control devices in the various ear/lip/eyebrow/navel rings) The Frozen Yogurt Enforcer (a health-food nut) and The Cappucinator (the owner of a chain of coffee shops who wanted to pave over Suburbia City and create "New Europe." The Eagle-Man wasn't interested in being a hero, and basically used his power and secret identity to smash coffee shops and raised pickup trucks. He also would beat the crap out of the local White Supremecist groups of Suburbia City.

My first story with him was basically one long rant. I don't remember exactly where I went with it, but I seem to recall him dying and ranting in the afterlife. My short story writing teacher hated it. To be fair, it probably wasn't very good for anything other than me letting off steam, but this teacher sucked for other reasons.

I followed up that with another one where I introduced his girlfriend, Mopey Chick. She was a goth-type girl and acted as his conscience, lecturing him on how he shouldn't just use his powers for letting out his frustrations on the world. He was reluctant to listen, but he had a bit of a heart to him. In the story, he beat the snot out of a guy who was making sexually degrading remarks towards a woman (something that still sits uneasy with me today - especially now that Kirsti and I are looking to adopt a daughter.) My teacher hated that one too. So did most of the class. A few people got it though, but the rants turned people off.

The next story I wrote was for another class and it was entitled "What's the Deal with Wayne's Bag?" I kept the first person, present-tense narrative, but I toned down the ranting. Mopey Chick was still there, and he was still reluctant to be some sort of a hero, but his basic good heart kept making him do the right thing. He didn't beat anybody up in that story. Instead, he talked to a kid who was holding his class hostage at gunpoint and got him to surrender his gun. (The kid was bullied, and it reminded him of his own time in middle school. Mind you, this was written years before Columbine.) He also opened up to a local weirdo named Wayne who idolized his Eagle-Man persona. I had a different teacher, and he seemed to like it. Some of my classmates were a bit confused, but many of them seemed to enjoy it - a remember quite a few saying that they laughed out loud. (Which was intentional - in parts. He has a conversation with a cop about how he doesn't know whether he's invulnerable to bullets or not, and he doesn't really want to find out!)

Following that was "Margaritas con el Asesino del Dragon" (Margaritas with the Dragon Killer.) This was more straight-ahead superhero fare, and the elements of satire were toned down. He teamed up with his good friend, George the Dragon Killer to battle a guy called The Harbinger. I tried to bring humor into it, but this time it came more from the situation. George was trying to outdrink Eagle-Man, not realizing that E-M could physically not get drunk. Mopey was in this one too, as she was the one who convinced Eagle-Man that he should open up to his friend and let him know his real identity, as George had revealed his some time before that. That one got an even better reaction than the last one.

For yet another class, I tried to get away from the first-person, present-tense narrative, and did a straightforward third-person, past-tense story. It was Eagle-Man versus The Piercer, and it was the earliest story in the timeline. That one felt awkward when I wrote it, and it didn't go over well.

The next one is the one that I was most proud of. It was called "The Stick Shift of Destiny", and it took place after an epic battle between Eagle-Man and a dragon that was out to destroy Suburbia City. In the story, he was offered the chance to work for the government, which would finally solve his money problems and enable him to propose to his girlfriend. (He didn't feel right about asking her without an engagement ring.) In addition, the city had commemorated his achievement with a giant statue in the middle of town - something that didn't sit right with him and made him feel like he was walking on his own grave. The main battle occurred when a mysterious man known as The Eagle came to him and revealed his true origin, and told him that he'd be taking his powers away for his own. Eagle-Man fought against his benefactor/malefactor, despite The Eagle's claims of it being "destiny." Eagle-Man won, and later when given his first assignment which was to assassinate a Middle Eastern dictator, he turned down the offer and smashed the statue. It ended with him deciding to ask Mopey to marry him anyway. This one went over really well, as convoluted as it was. I remember one guy commenting that Eagle-Man was his "own worst enemy" which is pretty much exactly what I always wanted him to be.

There's more, and I eventually wrote the epic story of him teaming up with a gaggle of superheroes and defeating the dragon. I'm proud of some of the ideas in that one, as he is sent to the Underworld, where he's assisted by a decidedly Greek guy named "Nobody" (That would be Odysseus, for those of you who don't know the story.) He tries to make his way out but is boggled down by the beaurocracy of the system, so he responds by causing a riot. The forces of hell unleash an army comprised of soldiers from every battle from Thermopylae to Antietem, but the heroes of Elysium, which include everyone from Achilles to Elvis Presley, fight alongside Eagle-Man. Jesus, of course, decides to sit it out.

The problem is, over the years, is that not only do I no longer have creative writing classes that force me to produce, but I'm having a hard time finding the right line between humor/satire and adventure/mythology. I've had a lot of false starts over the years, including one that I hope to get back to one day called "Left Upside the Head," which parodies the Left Behind books and the absurdity of the Christian Fundamentalist version of the endtimes. Basically, the rapture happens and Eagle-Man decides that the Tribulation must be stopped because it would be a "total pain in the ass." Part of the theme is that he's much more powerful than he realizes, and he's able to easily trounce the anti-Christ, and eventually he has to go toe-to-toe with God Himself, as he's screwing with divine prophecy.

I also have started a prequel of sorts about an "Eagleman" who's a hero of World War II. I patterned his story after Shakespeare's tragedies, and his story ultimately ends with, big surprise, his death. I like what I started with that, but I found myself having to deal with too much exposition, so I might take another crack at it one day. Also, it doesn't have the same "voice" that I enjoy so much with Eagle-Man.

What's his voice like? It's like me, or as my former roommate once described it, my "repressed id."

I'm thinking that all these blogs are a sign that the id wants to get back out again. Perhaps Eagle-Man will need to be redefined yet again. (I already changed Mopey's name to Monica.) Not only that, but he'll need to take more of a turn from my life, as a happy marriage is great to live, but it would be pretty boring to write about it.

I miss him, and I hope to find him again one day. I'll worry later whether anybody wants to read it or not. I suppose I could force my students to read it, but that would be a bit obnoxious on my part.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Maybe O'Reilly really is the world's worst person

I should start off with a bit of honesty here. I don't actually watch Bill O'Reilly's show. I've never seen a complete episode, but I have listened to his radio show. What I know of him, I've seen in interviews and clips on YouTube. Oh, and there's also all the times that he says ridiculous shit that gets made fun of on The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. I also don't watch Keith Olbermann's show. Even though I agree with his politics, I found myself to be somewhat bored when I watched his show. I guess I don't need a show that "feels the news at me" as Colbert says. Well, unless the guy is consistently making me laugh, that is. My experience with Olbermann is pretty much the same as the one I have with O'Reilly, except he doesn't have a radio show as far as I know.

I'll start with O'Reilly. He's an idiot. I'd like to just end it there, but then I'll be doing what he basically does. For starters, he touts his show as being a "No Spin Zone." If you believe that his show has no spin, then I have a bridge for you. I mean, the guy is constantly giving his opinions on what's going on in the news. He insults his guests. (I don't have specifics - do a search for O'Reilly on YouTube and try to deny that he does this.) His show is NOTHING BUT spin!

He also seems to be factually challenged. Al Franken refers to him as "Bill O'Liely" and I'm thinking that's pretty accurate. I actually have a specific on this one. When interviewing Jon Stewart, he referred to Stewart's audience as "stoned slackers". The funny thing is, shortly after he said that, a study was done on Stewart's audience and O'Reilly's audience. Guess who was more educated and informed on what was going on in the world? Stewart's, dammit.

Okay, so Bill made a mistake. But guess what? Sometime later after he had Colbert on his show, he was talking with some people about the popularity of the comedy/news shows and he AGAIN claimed that Stewart's audience was made up of "stoned slackers." What's worse, he referred to the study and said that the study confirmed that! Ummm...actually, it confirmed the EXACT OPPOSITE. Somehow I doubt that most of his audience bothered to factcheck him on that one.

This brings us to Keith Olbermann. He apparently targets O'Reilly quite often, the most damning is the following:

Okay now, maybe I'm just partial to anybody who can make a Simpsons reference back-to-back with a classical allusion (Sideshow Bob and Sissyphus, in case you're not well versed in either.) Still, the facts speak for themselves on this one, don't they? It's pretty impossible to defend O'Reilly's actions on this one - especially what Fox did on the website (and Orwellian is most certainly the right word for it!)

Olbermann goes after O'Reilly quite often - I do a YouTube search at least once a week, and O'Reilly is frequently named the "Worst Person in the World." Is this over the top? Yeah, probably. Is it vitriolic? Sure. But everytime Olbermann goes after him, he points out an instance of O'Reilly being FACTUALLY INCORRECT. (And at least Olbermann doesn't make a pretense of being impartial.)

Does Olbermann have his detractors? It sure looks that way, and there's even an Olberman Watch website. I've looked through it a few times, and I'm pretty unimpressed. I mean, I suppose that I can understand somebody not liking Olbermann, but I couldn't find any instances of Olbermann making any factual errors, especially not any on the level of O'Reilly's. Shoot, up on the site right now are a bunch of articles about something that some other guy said about Chelsea Clinton. Ummm...okay.

So, I'm hardly an Olbermann fan, but O'Reilly fans who are upset about Olbermann's constant attacks on him are focusing their anger in the wrong direction. Perhaps if O'Reilly didn't consistently say things that know...WRONG, then Olbermann wouldn't have so much material to use against him.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Does evolution matter?

Mike Huckabee, who doesn't seem to have any hope of clinching the Republican nomination anymore, has received a lot of flack for raising his hand when asked at the debate "Who here doesn't believe in evolution." He gets a lot of ribbing for it on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for that. Jon Stewart skewered him a bit this week:

Yeah, the guy wears his faith a little too much on his sleeve for my taste. That's fine, for the most part. As an atheist, I pretty much have to expect that I won't see a President in my lifetime who's not a man of faith. Still, his comment about how the 10 Commandments "cover it all" is foolish no matter how you look at it. What about rape, Mike? It doesn't cover that one! And if the 10 Commandments were all they were cracked up to be, then why does the Old Testament and the New Testament have a bunch of other rules? I don't even think that Moses himself felt that those ten rules covered everything!

Back to the evolution thing, I did a bit of YouTube searching to try and get his comments in context. Here's a clip of him on Bill O'Reilly's show:

I suppose that I could live with it if a President said much of that. I'd have a much harder time with somebody who insisted that the Earth is only 6000 years old and that (un)Intelligent Design should be taught in a science classroom.

Still, one thing that I REALLY take exception to, and I'm absolutely sick and tired of hearing theists say is the false dichotomy of how either a deity created everything or everything is just an "accident" (or "random"). Ummm...I don't believe that everything's random or an accident. I've read books by many prominent atheists, and they don't use either one of those words. It's a total strawman argument. So, what do I believe then? I believe that the universe and the Earth just is - you know, much as theists believe that God just is. The universe has always been here in some form or another, and this is where we're at now. As for the species, there's absolutely nothing random about Darwin's theory - adaptation happens to allow a species to survive. Hardly an "accident." So, any theists out there? Stop saying that atheists believe it's all random. We don't. Nobody's even saying that, so don't argue it.

Even though I don't find Huckabee's comments regarding evolution to be offensive, it still doesn't sit quite right with me. If it was between him and another candidate, and everything else was equal, but the other one accepted modern science's stand on evolution, then I'd vote for the other guy.

The thing is, I'd like to have a President who is informed on some basic issues regarding science. Evolution, despite what some will tell you, is a very basic part of modern science. You can't teach biology without teaching it. You can't talk about the human genome without addressing it. Want to break down what's in our DNA? Better get ready to hear how you're related to a fish, 'cause we have genes in common with them too. Much of the problem is that most people don't understand the basic definition of the word "theory" as they don't understand that when a scientist uses it, he or she is referring to something that's as close to fact as anything in science can ever be. (No sacred cows in science - which is why it appeals to me.) Gravity is a theory. The Earth spinning on its axis is a theory. Evolution is a theory in the same sense, and when ID proponents insist on "all the theories" being taught, they fail to realize that ID is NOT a theory no more than astrology or alchemy are.

So, if a candidate is going to ignore the basic fact of evolution, what else is he or she going to ignore? Global warming? (Not much of a stretch there. How large a percentage of the scientific community needs to be in favor of this before the deniers finall call it quits? 'Cause there's always going to be some yahoo whose paid off by the oil companies who'll say otherwise.) The Earth being round?

So what then? Do those things matter? Well, who has more influence than The President? And if he's going to deny scientific reality, what other aspects of reality will he (or she) deny?

Perhaps it's a slippery slope, and perhaps not believing in evolution shouldn't be the deciding factor, but it most certainly should be a factor.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Let's not toss the baby out with the bathwater

If the statistic that Bill Maher mentioned (in the clip that I posted a few days ago) then 20% of people under 30 are "rationalists" and don't subscribe to any religious set of beliefs. I'm skeptical of statistics, as 73% of them are just made up, but let's just go ahead and go with that and assume that it's true. Not only that, but let's say that it reflects a growing trend and this country is getting further and further removed from religion.

As an atheist, free-thinker, rationalist, blah blah etc., I'm not entirely too sure if I should feel good about this. Now that might sound odd, but it's true.

With my seniors, I teach a unit on the Bible, focusing primarily on the Gospel stories. One thing that I say at least once a day until we're done is that they don't have to choose between believing that it's divinely inspired or believing that it's worthless. There's a middle ground. I make this appeal to the kids who are nonbelievers, and I even straight out let the kids where I personally stand so they don't think that I have some sort of hidden agenda. I actually have a pretty blatant agenda, and that's to show them the value of the stories of the Bible. I try to give the kids who see it as divinely inspired some new ways to look at it (as I say, I try to ADD meaning to it by looking at it the same way we look at any work of literature) and the nonbelievers a sense of it being relevant and important.

Now, as I'm free to be a bit more blatant and uncensored on my blog, I think that the stories of the Bible ARE stupid - when taken literally anyway. I always point to the story of Samson and Delilah, as it's completely absurd to believe that one but to then think that something like the story of Achilles is "just a myth." Jesus turned water into wine. Literally, that's a magic trick. Metaphorically, it has much more resonance.

I recently read a really interesting book entitled No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan. In it (and I'm surprised some fanatic hasn't pronounced a fatwa or two on him for doing so) he states, in regards to the Quran, that it is mythology. (He claims to be a devout Muslim, mind you.) He then explains, "It is a shame that this word, myth, which originally signified nothing more than stories of the supernatural, has come to be regarded as synonymous with falsehood, when in fact myths are always true. By their very nature, myths inhere both legitimacy and credibility. Whatever truths they convey have little to do with historical fact. To ask whether Moses actually parted the Red Sea, or whether Jesus truly raised Lazarus from the dead, or whether the word of God indeed poured through the lips of Muhammad, is to ask totally irrelevant questions. The only question that matters with regard to a religion and its mythology is 'What do these stories mean?'"

I was nodding my head as I read that passage, as he put into words pretty much what I've been thinking for some time now. And this brings me to my point.

I fully plan on teaching my child (I don't have one yet!) the stories of the Bible. Well, some of them anyway. I remember thinking that Abraham having to sacrifice his son was pretty screwed up even when I was little. (Yeah, I know how it ends.) My child will be well versed in the stories of Noah, Moses, and Jesus. I mean, I'll teach about Achilles and Odysseus too, but those Bible stories are important. I had a book called My Book of Bible Stories when I was little, and I remember many of the stories quite fondly, and I spent many hours going through that book.

If we are becoming a less religious society, I hope that we don't completely bury these fantastic myths. And I use the word "myths" in the same way that Resa Aslan does. They're all true, just not literally true.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Respect Beer, or else!

I'm not sure what it is, but for some reason the things I like are the things that are the most maligned. For instance, comic books - that's one thing that most people scorn (even though they usually don't know the first thing about them.) I'm going to post a whole blog on that one of these days, but this time I'm going to tackle a more recent obsession of mine: beer.

First of all, the phrase "Respect Beer" isn't mine, as it's the motto of, a website devoted to all things beer. It's a great place to learn everything from different styles to food pairings to glassware. Of course, I am a member, and I even have a few reviews up there. I'm still quite the novice though, as there's lots more left for me to learn.

Anyway, their motto is a good one, because for some reason, beer does not get the respect that it deserves. Actually, the reasons are pretty obvious, and I'll get to them in a moment. Still, it's a bit annoying when I've had friends imply that wine is somehow "better" than beer. (I'm not saying that beer is better - they're different, but equally capable of great quality.) It's also frustrating to see people drinking out of the bottle when glassware is readily available, and you know that they damned well wouldn't do that with wine. (The reason you don't do it with beer is the same reason you don't do it with wine - being able to smell it enhances the flavor! It's simple science, dammit!)

The image of the beer drinker has obviously been tarnished by the fact that Bud Lite is the top selling beer in the country. The reason why it's popular is because it's easy to get down and you can drink a lot and maintain a level buzz without getting totally plastered. That's fine, I guess, but that shouldn't be the standard that ALL beer drinkers are judged by. Many of us are more than happy drinking one beer, enjoying all the subtle (and not so subtle) flavors that it has to offer. Of course, Bud Lite's not going to do that, but we're not the type to drink that stuff anyway.

According to a book that I have about beer, there are, according to scientific analysis, "as many aromas and flavors" in a glass of beer as a glass of wine. There's also a whole art to beer and food pairing (just as there is with wine, of course.) Not only that, and anybody whose had my grilled chicken can attest, beer makes for a great ingredient in cooking. While Kirsti and I were touring the North Coast Brewery, the head of the company gave a really detailed explanation as to why beer is actually a better pairing for cheese than wine is. I don't really drink wine, but I know that some of the fine English, German, and Italian cheeses I've had have been ehanced by drinking a beer alongside them.

All this, and still some people I know who think of themselves as being "beer drinkers" don't think that it deserves the dignity of a glass or of being seen as something other than soda for grownups. What a shame.

So, not only should beer be respected, but American beer, dammit, should be respected! Somebody asked me recently why American breweries can't make beers that taste like the ones that they have in Germany. Personally, I don't care, as I think that there are some great beers made right here in the U.S. Sure, they're not like the German beers, but it's an exciting time to be a beer fanatic in this country, as after a long, dark time when only the macrobreweries had any offerings, American breweries are experimenting and finding their way. While it's true that our styles are variations on pre-existing ones, some styles are definitely coming into their own in a uniquely American way (like IPAs and Porters). That's not so strange though, as it's not like the Germans (or the English, for that matter) invented beer, and their styles began as variations on existing styles as well. Don't get me wrong, I eagerly await the day that I can return to Germany so I can have some more of that awesome German beer, but I'm not exactly going to go into withdrawal here. Want suggestions? I'll give them to you, so long as you're over 21, that is. (Shoot, from what I understand, the Germans are actually drinking more and more dumbed down beers lately. I mean, Bitburger is their best selling beer? I like it, but come on! Hardly the best the country has to offer!)

One last point, and I'll have to shoehorn it in here, as it's not enough to merit its own blog - at Kirsti's high school reunion, there was a "selection" of beer that included Bud, Bud Lite, Coors, Coors Lite, Miller and Heineken. That is not a selection, dammit, and I almost punched the guy when he said, "We have all the best!" Bud, Coors, and Miller are all macrolagers and while supposedly people can tell the difference, they're all the same style. Even Heineken is basically the same, even though it's the European version of the macro lager. There's nothing particularly "Dutch" (Hollandian? Netherlandian?) about it. They're all basically just a watered-down version of a Pilsner. (Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed a Miller GD on more than one occasion - I'm not saying that they're necessarily BAD, just less flavorful than an actual Pilsner.) As for the light beers, well, yeah...there ya go.

Peace in our time

This will probably be my last update regarding the peace process between my indoor dog, Willy, and my new cat, Oliver. By the picture above, you can obviously tell that they've become quite comfortable with one another.

To think that the first time they saw each other, Willy's nature was to tear after Oliver, and Oliver's nature was to tear Willy's face off. Now, when Willy comes out of the bedroom, Oliver races up to meet him, even greeting him by rubbing up against him the same way he does to a person.

They still need to be supervised a bit, as their play can get a little out of hand, but I've been able to sit and watch a movie or have my lunch with the two of them in the same room without having to constantly pull them apart. (Maybe just once or twice.) Eventually, they're able to just lie down near one another and just chill.

While this wasn't the goal, I think that getting Oliver has been good for Willy. It gives him somebody to play with, and likewise, that's good for Oliver. It's definitely a different dynamic than with Willy and Tyson, my female cat of 18 years whom I had to put down a few months ago. Oliver, instead of running away when Willy is being too aggressive, will turn around and slap him all about the face. He'll even leap up at the dog with a right-hook. Thankfully, the claws aren't out though, as I'm sure Willy'd be pretty bloody by now.

Seems to me that once a cat accepts the idea of a dog, the idea of dogs in general becomes okay. I brought Argos in the other day, and Oliver and he had a nice little greeting. Ollie wasn't ready to rub up against him, but he wasn't afraid of him. This might also be because Ollie will sit up on the windowsill while Argos peers in at him.

Of course, if the affections between Willy and Ollie get out of hand, I will have to inform them that they're going to hell. Not only is this interspecies fraternization unnatural, but they're both boys. Neutered boys at that. Why must all my pets be sinners?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

This is how I sometimes feel...

Now, there are a lot of religious people that I have a lot of respect for, and I don't think that being religious makes you stupid. However, I can't help but relate to what Bill Maher has to say here:

Only a Sith thinks in absolutes

A week or so ago, in my living room, I rewatched Revenge of the Sith. Watching it made me realize something: I love this movie. The thing is, when it comes to Star Wars, I'll readily admit that I have certain blinders on, and I can't seem to critique them on the same level as I would any other film. For the most part, I like The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones in spite of their shortcomings; however, I really won't try to defend them too much. Watching Sith again though, I did not feel that the blinders were necessary.

I will wholeheartedly admit that after walking out of The Phantom Menace for the first time, I was totally stoked. Between the podrace and the lightsaber duel, I was totally pumped, and the way I described it was that it felt like I was eight years old again. That's what it did to me, but with that came a lack of discerning its shortcomings like the wooden dialogue. I didn't care for Jar Jar Binks, but I didn't (and still don't) think that he's anywhere near as bad as most of my fellow twentysomethings (I was in my twenties at the time, ya know!) seemed to think he was. Don't get me wrong, I'd cut about 75% of his "humorous" bits if it was up to me, but the whining and creating of "anti-Jar Jar" websites was far more annoying as far as I was concerned.

So, with subsequent viewings, I was able to see the problems with Menace. I still like it though. Now, coming out of Attack of the Clones, I didn't have quite the same reaction. The dialogue bothered me much more, and upon repeat viewings, I have to fast-forward through all of the love talk between Padme and Anakin. It's far, far, more objectionable than anything Jar Jar did in the previous film. What's even worse, there's absolutely no good reason for her to fall in love with him. Anakin falling for Padme makes perfect sense - but why would she love him? The only thing that really redeems this movie is 1) seeing Jango Fett do all the cool stuff that I knew Boba Fett could do, and 2) the big Jedi battle at the end, which fulfilled my imagination's desire from when I was a little kid (kinda like the Fett thing).

Oddly enough, I didn't feel too impressed with Sith upon my first viewing. Unlike the other two, which got worse upon subsequent viewings, this one has only grown on me. By no means is it a perfect film, but dammit all to heck if the time doesn't fly by when I'm watching it. The first time I saw it, I felt that Anakin's turn seemed too sudden, and while I think that an argument for that can still be made, that really doesn't bother me too much. I mean, it is hinted at throughout the other two, and even the beginning sequences of this one. It's clearly established that he has the fatal flaw of being unwilling to let his loved ones die, so I completely buy that he'd screw over his life, especially once he killed Mace Windu (because after that moment of passion, he was already screwed.) I'm not saying it's Shakespeare, but it works in a B-movie kind of way.

And that's what it boils down to for me. It's an awesome B movie. The original movies were all glorified B movies, with their roots in pulps and old-time cliffhangers. Arguably, A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back may have transcended that a bit. While Sith doesn't, it works damn well on that level.

Here's what I love about it:

The dialogue. What the hell? Dialogue is the worst thing about the Star Wars movies! True, there are some clunky lines in this film. Thankfully, the love dialogue is over right at the moment when I'm ready to fast-forward though. But there are some gems in there, mainly delivered by The Emperor and General Grievous. As The Emperor/Darth Sidious/Chancellor Palpatine, Ian McDiarmid is probably the actor who is best able to deliver Lucas' prose. He's as slippery as the serpent who tempted Eve in this picture, and I love the fact that finally somebody acknowledges the fact that Yoda is little and green! As for Grevious, everything he says is WAY over the top, and I absolutely love it. He's a comic book villain come to life, and it's plain classic when he says thinks like, "Army or not, you must realize, you are DOOOOOMED." Again, Shakespeare it ain't, but dammit if it doesn't make me grin.

R2-D2. Jar Jar wasn't funny. C-3P0 wasn't funny (in Clones, anyway) but I absolutely loved watching R2 kick some butt. It's been well established that he's a fiesty little guy, and his scenes at the beginning make me smile.

CGI Yoda. A lot of people praised the Yoda/Dooku fight in Clones, but I was underwhelmed. The Yoda/Sidious fight though? Bitchin'. I'd go so far as to say that Yoda looks the best in this movie. Yoda's appearance, in descending order of quality, goes like this: Sith, Empire, Jedi, Clones, Menace.

"Only a Sith thinks in absolutes." Brilliant. No wonder so many conservatives thought Lucas was pointing a satirical finger at them. Finally there's a phrase that sums up the folly of their world view.

The space battle at the beginning. Again, this is the sort of thing that I dreamed about seeing as a little kid. Great stuff, and even better than the space battle in Jedi.

Obi Wan Kenobi. He's a badass in this movie, and McGregor finally seems to be able to handle Lucas' dialogue. It's still clunky, B-movie dialogue, but he gives it with conviction, and genuine pathos when he apologizes to Padme, as it's clear that he knows that he'll have to kill his best friend.

Oh, there's lots more. Please, no emailing me about lame parts. I know that there are lame parts, but the cool parts more than make up for it. And before you think I'm totally off my rocker, 80% of the critics at Rotten Tomatoes agree with me. So there. (Look up the other two prequels - you'll find that they're not quite as hated as you'd expect.)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

They're gonna make me gay marry

Okay, I've covered the gay marriage thing before, but lately I've been harrassing a fella named Gary Fouse on his blog. I met him online years ago when he was doing research on my mother's hometown and he came across the website that I had made about my grandfather. Gary's a good guy, but a wee bit too fond of Republicans for my taste. (I've linked to his blog in the links section.) He seems to know what he's talking about, and I'm not into politics enough to debate him too strongly on certain issues. However, when he pointed out his blog about his opposition to gay marriage, I became like my dog when he sees a squirrel, only there's no leash on me.

I recommend that you read it for yourself, and it's his blog for Wed. June 13, 2007. I'm not going to post it here, rather, I'm going to address his points, but I won't be directly quoting him, as they're things that I've heard before. So, this is more inspired by his post than a direct response (which I already commented on, so why do it here?)

Before I proceed though, if you're not going to read his original post, do not think that he's some sort of homophobic bigot. In his blog, he stresses equal treatment for all. Well, equal for everything but the "m" word, anyway. Still, don't bombard him with hate mail calling him a homophobe, 'cause he isn't.

Okay, the first argument that I'd like to point out is the "why can't they just call it something else?" You know, give them the same rights, but don't let them call it marriage. What do you care what they call it? If you're willing to give them all the same protection under the law, then let them call it Super Mario Brothers. Are words really so important? If to you marriage is between a man and a woman, then only get married to the opposite sex. So what if somebody else has a different definition? How's it hurting you? Wait, I'll save you the effort - it isn't. To me, Bud Lite isn't beer, but that doesn't give me the right to tell others that they can't call it that.

The next argument is the "it's been between a man and a woman for thousands of years." Ugh. I hate the "it's been around for thousands of years" argument. That doesn't mean anything, because if you're going to use that as a criteria, then we should still have slavery. Also, people have been drinking their own urine for thousands of years as a cure-all for various ailments for thousands of years, but I shall continue to just flush mine, thank you very much.

Next up, "marriage is for the protection of children." Ummm...sure, it can be, but is that really what it's all about? I've taken an anthropology class, and it seems to me that traditionally it's been more about transferring ownership of a woman from her father to her husband. That's why the father "gives away" his daughter, don't you know. The more I think of this though, the more it hurts my head. Let's just say that it's true. There are gay partners out there who are raising children. Do those children not deserve the benefits of having married parents?

Personally, as a married person, I find it offensive that people try and define what marriage is "intended for". To be fair, Gary didn't say this, but I can't stand the whole "Marriage is for the purpose of having children." Okay, so senior citizens should no longer be allowed to marry. Having kids is part of the plan between Kirsti and I, but it wasn't the purpose of us getting married. I married her because I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her. Everything else is a side benefit.

My personal favorite is the, "if we allow gay marriage, then we'll have to allow polygamy, etc." we don't. Why must one thing follow the other? Allowing women to vote didn't lead to chipmunks voting, did it? (I'm pretty sure it didn't, but I don't have time to look that one up.) Two people of the same sex getting married has nothing to do with somebody marrying multiple partners. Ugh...lack of logic...hurt...head...

There's also the argument that the "institution of marriage" is declining in areas where gay marriage has been legalized. Well, this is the old fallacy of assuming that if something happens at the same time as something else, it's therefore the cause of it. Personally though, I'm not too impressed with the "institution of marriage" in this country either. What's the divorce rate anyway? Come on. We need to stop treating marriage like it's some kind of sacred institution. Maybe it should be, and it certainly is for me on a personal level, but as a country? Puh-lease.

There's more stuff, but I won't get into the whole "Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve" sorts of arguments because...well, they're too easy, honestly, and Gary didn't stoop to that sort of debate anyway. The bottom line is that I have YET to hear a SINGLE argument against gay marriage that didn't disintigrate with the application of just a little bit of logic.

Okay, so what if logic isn't your thing? Can I go the pathos route? How about this: I saw on TV a lesbian couple who had been together for over thirty years. Who the hell is anybody to tell them that they can't define their relationship as marriage? They can't, but Liz fuckin' Taylor can call all eight of hers "marriage"? Give me a break. The hypocrisy is astounding. Ted Haggard can be "married" and have sex with meth-using male prostitutes on the side? Puh-lease.

And to pull out the whole "won't somebody think of the children" card - The fact is, there are gay people out there who are trying to have families and be productive members of society. These aren't people who are hanging out in bathhouses and leaping from one partner to another. They're trying to make life-long commitments and have a chance at happiness just like everybody else. Helios bless 'em, I say.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

So dumb it hurts my head...

I'm not in the mood to write much today, but I just overheard the song, "Life is a Highway." Dear Lord, but that's one the dumbest songs ever. Now, I don't believe that every song needs to have some sort of deep meaning or intellectual significance. However, if you're going to use a metaphor, have it make some sense.

"Life is a highway, I want to ride it all night long." What the flipping hell does that even mean? How does one ride life all night long? Please, don't explain it. If you have to explain a metaphor, then it's either 1) not a good one or 2) too clever for the person who doesn't understand it. I make a living explaining the metaphors of Shakespeare, so forgive my hubris if I don't think that it's the latter explanation. (See, I use words like hubris! That means I'm smart.)

I mean, does he just want to live life all night long? Are highways typically the sort of thing that one wants to ride on all night long? Does he enjoy being stuck in traffic?

I'll clue you in. It doesn't mean anything.

People should be licensed before they're allowed to use metaphors.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hope for the Screwball Comedy?

Among my all-time favorite movies are some pretty silly comedies like Blazing Saddles, The Naked Gun, and Airplane. Those movies are great, and I love how they pretty much throw a gag at you every few seconds, and if the first one doesn't make you laugh, there's one that'll get to you that's just around the corner.

What's even better is how you'll have people giving deadpan deliveries to completely ridiculous lines. My favorite is a bit from The Naked Gun where Lt. Frank Drebin is warned to not cause any trouble. His response is, "Well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas, stabbing a man in the middle of the park in front of a full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy." His superior then informs him that it was a Shakespeare in the park production of Julius Caesar, and that he shot actors. That's funny enough on its own, but what really caps it is the look on his face. It's as though he just found that out for the first time. Priceless.

Alas though, that genre seems to be dead. I saw the first Scary Movie, and the only thing that made me laugh was "Principal Squigman." Everything else seemed labored and too obvious, with far too many reaction shots, which I don't understand the humor of at all. It's better when something funny happens and everybody just carries on like nothing happened.

Nowadays, it's Epic Movie or Meet the Spartans, and since absolutely nothing in the previews, which should be the best bits, makes me laugh, then it's safe to assume that nothing in the movies will make me laugh either.

There is a glimmer of hope. Perhaps it's because my standards have gotten so low. Perhaps it's because I so desperately want to laugh like I did the first time I saw The Naked Gun. I don't know, you tell me, but the trailer for Superhero Movie had me grinning a bit.

First of all, despite the name, it has no relation to the Epic Movie people. Secondly, unlike those, this one actually seems to be following some sort of a narrative, pretty much by following the storyline to the first Spider-Man movie, from what I can tell. Anyway, here it is, followed by what I thought was funny:

#1. The wedgie. Those are always amusing.

#2. The bus pratfalls. The first one was obvious. The second was amusing. By the third, it was comedy torture, which I happen to like.

#3. The nail gun bit. Okay, there's too much time devoted to the pain of the guy who got hit, but it was funny how nonchalantly his "Uncle Albert" tried it out.

#4. The wall crawling. The breakdancing was lame, but the cat running past made me laugh.

#5. The stabbing at Thanksgiving. It's funny how nobody else pays attention to how much pain he's in.

#6. The glove on the face. Really stupid, but it made me laugh.

#7. The death of the old lady. Too bad he reacts, but at least nobody else seems to notice.

Am I being stupidly optimistic here? Could this possibly be good? I'll wait for the reviews.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sweet dog or Nazi terrorist?

I just got done taking my dog, Argos, for a walk. You can see him there on the right, and for those of you who haven't seen him in person, he's a big ol' 90 lb. Shepherd/Rottweiler mix. I take him for a walk pretty much every night, and on the weekends, I walk him down to the park where I play fetch with him. I frequently get compliments on him, with twice having people pull over in their cars to tell me what a good looking dog he is. He's also quite friendly with people, and he acts calm and sweet when little children come up to him. (In all honesty, he used to bark at children, but he hasn't done that in several years now, and he's now entirely at ease with them.)

When I was walking him just now, I came across a guy whose reaction was to quickly move out of the way and go, "Whoa!" You know, as though Argos was going to tear off a limb or two. Now, there wasn't anything that my dog was doing that would give a person cause to be afraid, but I've seen this kind of thing before. Not only that, but there was a common denominator.

What's the common denominator? They were all African Americans. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of black people who have made friends with him, and he's smooched a Nubian face or two. However, I've never seen a white person act this way. I've never seen anybody but African Americans do this. There must be a reason, and I don't think that it takes much to figure out what the reason is. Obviously, whether they've been taught this from their parents, or they have experienced it firsthand, they are wary of white people with big dogs, as there are white people out there who have trained their dogs to go after black people.

Pretty damned sad, and it shows that we still have a ways to go in this country, doesn't it?

I sometimes hear white people talk about trivial things like how it's unfair that blacks get a Black Entertainment Television, but there's no white equivalent. Well, my first question to them is, "What's the matter? Feeling like you're not being represented as a white person in this country?"

Now I'm going to tell them that we get our own network when so many African Americans don't feel as though they should be scared of my dog.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Just tell them that they're wrong

On my old MySpace blog, I've written a few times about how there's this attitude that everything's all a matter of opinion, when in fact, some things are a matter of fact. I realize that this will be two for two in attacks upon religious conservatives, but oh well, something in my last entry made me think of this once again.

People who claim that the Bible is inerrant, or that they "believe" that the Bible is inerrant need to be told that they're wrong. It is very much errant. I mean, I can "believe" that Shakespeare's Macbeth is inerrant and historically accurate, but I would be wrong. The same is true for these clueless dolts.

I could write a great deal on all of the various problems and contradictions, but how about just one? After all, you just need one error to make it not inerrant, right? Here goes:

Matthew 1:2-17 gives a geneology for Joseph. Luke 3:23-38 gives a different, contradictory one. They both can't be right. Therefore, one is wrong. Ergo, the Bible has a mistake in it. Want more? Look up "Gospel contradictions" or "Bible contradictions" on Google. Or, you know, read the damn book for yourself.

So, you can think it's inerrant all you want, but your "opinion" is up there with believing that the moon is made of green cheese. You're wrong.

Now, don't get me wrong. I realize that there are plenty of devout Christians who recognize the errors in the Bible and this doesn't hurt their faith whatsoever. That's fine, and I have no problem with them. My point isn't to say that The Bible is stupid or worthless. Shoot, even if you don't believe in the God of the Bible, it still has a great deal of value to it.

I'm just picking this one point. And I'm right, dammit. No "matter of opinion" about it.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Purpose Driven Horse Crap

Supposedly there's a book that's been around awhile called The Purpose Driven Life that many Christians seem to have gone all nuts over. I've seen it in the bookstore and I've flipped through it a little bit. From what I could tell, it's a bunch of feel-good pablum about how some all powerful being has put you on the Earth for a purpose. Whatever. I don't need a deity to give my life purpose, so it has little appeal for me.

Then I saw the author on the Colber Report. Here's a clip:

He seems like a nice enough of a guy, and his ideas aren't as out-there as guys like Pat Robertson, from what I can tell. Still, and maybe it's because I read Christopher Hitchens' book, God is Not Great, but I couldn't help but feel somewhat bewildered and slightly outraged even at what the guy was saying.

First of all, I don't know how a grown person who has actually read the Bible can say that it's inerrant. Yeah, a donkey once talked. And even though the Gospels give contradictory accounts of Jesus' last days on Earth, they're all right. Come on.

That wasn't the worst though. His whole thing about what makes "God smile" is just outrageous. Where the hell is he getting this stuff from? I'll tell you. He's making shit up. It stuff that sounds good, and it makes people feel good, so nobody wants to call him on it.

I realize that this is hardly an original way of looking at things on my part, but let's just say that we all accept that there IS this all-powerful deity out there that created everything, okay? Now, to presume to say that YOU know what that being wants is the height of arrogance. And to think that such a being cares about the trivialities of your life is the height of head-up-the-assness.

And don't even get me started on the whole bit about how God put the Earth on its axis so life could exist. He's flippin' GOD, isn't he? He can do whatever he wants, right? Why couldn't he create forms of life that could survive on a planet that DOESN'T tilt on its axis? Geez, is this guy really talking to adults, or are most adults a lot like children?