Friday, January 25, 2008

Pickin' and Grinnin' on Religion

Lotsa fun stuff happening in the world of religion lately.

First, we have variant versions of the Quran popping up, which by definition can't exist.

Y'see, it's supposed to be the direct word of Allah, so if there are different versions of the same thing, either one's not true, or someone made the whole thing up! (ahem)

For the record, that was the thing that got Rushdie in so much trouble: fictionalizing an event that supposedly really happened where one of the scribes changed the words that the big M had spoken, and when he read the changed version back for verification, got M's blessing on it being correct. Which implies M just made it all up.

Moslems maintain two primary things about the Quran: 1) it's the actual word of Allah rather than a diluted, second-hand collection of misreported stories like the Bible, 2) proof that it's true is the fact that the poetry in which it's framed is so good that only Allah could've been the author.

So, if an old copy of a Robert Frost poem cropped up where he stopped by the woods on a rainy evening, well that would make all the difference. 'Specially if said poem was supposed to be from God's own lips.

You can almost smell the Jihad from here.

I personally don't consider Scientology a religion any more than I believe paint randomly thrown at a canvas to be art - even if they managed to convince the govt. they are (in both cases). But Scientologist think they belong a religion rather than an elaborate monetary scam, so I put this stuff here in a religion post, just to attempt to avoid being "fair game" (assuming the above note doesn't get me fatwa'd first).

Behold: the beginning of their self-destruction that began this historic week:

First, what started it all: this great video of Tom Cruise that betrays how, oh ... pffft, zing!, HAHAHAHA!, right in there! ... freakin' vapid he is. Scientology immediately jumped on to take it down claiming it was copyrighted material, which of course caused it to be put on about every video service there is.

Here's a little lexicon to decode the Scientology gobbledygook Tom's spewing out of the very large hole in his head.

Then came the spoofs:

Then came the "Anonymous" war:

Is it me, or does this remind you of that truly creepy "transmission from the future" in the otherwise silly Prince of Darkness, too?

Then came the call in Britain to actually go harass a Scientology "church".

If that hasn't been enough fun, the Gawker is having a lot of sport with this.

Wonder if we'll see Scientology sink to the bottom of the cult pond in our lifetimes. They do wear nifty sailor costumes in all of their enclaves, so it appears they're prepared.

I LOVE this response to one of your basic atheist twits who equate believing in God with guaranteeing the destruction of the planet and all humankind. How someone can claim to be a brainiac yet draw that dubious conclusion astounds me. If they can make such specious leaps in logic, can you really trust their scientific abilities, ya wonder? (Though I have to admit at being impressed with their gift for delusional hyperbole.)

Finally, let's take a whack or two at my beliefs.

Speaking of hyperbole, this honestly made me snicker inside a little bit.

Let's give this a try, shall we?


The act where one animal inserts their excretory organ, which is engorged with blood, into another animal's body cavity, that is also an excretory organ which is lubricated via viscous secretions of bodily fluids that have a pungent odor, and then moves it back and forth until globs of gelatinous secretions are expelled, which contain millions of tiny things that are swimming. Grunting, moaning, and screaming are sometimes involved. Sounds like fun!



Where the reproductive fluids of chickens are removed from their crushed container and heated until they solidify, served with the crushed innards of a citrus seed pod, and a slice of wheat combined with an organism that literally farts itself to death, baked until spongy, then toasted until it's brittle, and smeared with the melted viscous product of mammary glands that has been combined with a mineral and stirred so long it has coagulated. Yummy!

Finally, this is only obliquely, tangentially related, but I caught the tail end of a Simpson's episode where a main plot point was Flander's boy climbing one of the climbing walls, and as the episode ends we pan up to heaven to see his deceased mom and God watching him.

Bob Hope walks up and says, "I haven't seen climbing like that since Dudley Moore married Susan Anton."

The Simpson's haven't gotten a laugh out of me like that in a while.

Then God says to Bob, "I don't know why I waited 100 years to get you up here!"
Song Composed from Car Crashes

Via Attu sees all (a NSFW site)
Support Our Troops

I recently got an email from a good buddy that warned of how terrible things would be for the military if a Democrat got elected. I also work with a couple ex-military wingnuts who said they'd never be in the service under a Democrat (though I've since put together that's when they were in the service, and haven't been when Republicans have taken us to war ... can you say hypocrite?).

So, here's a little reality patrol from "Rolling Stone" Ish. 1042/1043, Dec. 27 - Jan 10, pg. 88:

Be Less Than You Can Be

How the Pentagon supported the troops in 2007

- Required that soldiers discharged early because of battlefield injuries repay their enlistment bonuses

- Sent the longest-serving National Guard unit home after 729 days of combat in Iraq -- one day shy of the 730 that the soldiers needed to qualify for education benefits

- Omitted 20,000 cases of brain trauma from the official tally of troops injured in Iraq

- Denied medical benefits to 22,000 veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress by discharging them for having enlisted with "pre-existing personality disorders"
Uh, is that a fart heart to her right there?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Atlantic Monthly

As reported on, Atlantic Monthly now allows you to read all of its content for free on the web.

This means you can now read the faboo article David Foster Wallace wrote a while ago on talk show hosts: Host. (Click the colored boxes to read the footnotes.)
The four major music labels are now available on

(Isn't it sad that there are only four labels any more?)

I'm a bit late in posting this, so this might've been bigger news a couple weeks ago, but things just get in the way, donchaknow.

Anyway, most of the offerings from the big labels are now up on the MP3 store.

Thus, let me suggest a purchase of the best recording ever of the oft-covered Fleetwood Mac song "Oh Well." This version just shreds.

It was Peter Green's baby, but Lindsey Buckingham just owns the motor-scooter* in this version. Heretofore, it was available only on the CD of their live set from the 80s, which has always been too freakin' expensive to buy for one song - the set still clocks in at $23 on Amazon. Oh, the other songs are great, but the studio versions are better. However, if you like the live vibe, this is one of the better live albums out there, and (finally) reasonably priced as an MP3 download at $10.

(*my family's PC version of motherf___)

Here are some other great songs that live permanently on my MP3 player that you might like:

Captain Kirk by Bob Schneider - I've recommended this one before, but now you can just snag the single.

Rainy Season by Aztec Camera - probably the best song in this list; I never hit the "next" button when this one queues up.

Lovely Day by Donavon Frankenreiter - another previous recommendation; team this one with "Captain Kirk" above and you've got a great start to a "how jolly can ya get" CD mix.

Maureen and The Girl I Can't Forget by Fountains Of Wayne - hilarious songs, both.

Knockers, Hazel Eyes, and Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time by The Darkness - more funny.

Get The Funk Out Ma Face and Thunder Thumbs And Lightnin' Licks by The Brothers Johnson - some funk from the 70s I originally encountered on the soundtrack to Mother, Jugs and Speed; which is fortunate because out on the lily-white Midwestern plains, nothing like this was ever played on the radio until the Commodores and Earth, Wind and Fire came along. True story: I was cranking the first song in my bedroom after getting said cassette, when I began to hear thunder making its way toward me through the house. My mom burst into my room, popped the cassette out and grabbed the tape itself to yank it out and destroy it - she had a no tolerance policy on obscenity. I yelled, "Mom! Look at the title of the song!" She did, let go of the tape, handed the cassette back to me, stabbed a finger at me and said, "Don't ever play that outside." I have to admit, It does really sound like the OTHER word. Tres fun.

Love Everybody and Tiny Explosions by The Presidents Of The United States Of America - I love pretty much everything the Presidents have done, and they are one of my definite "desert island" groups; however, these two tunes I suspect will be irresistible to nearly everyone.

When I'm Gone (Sadie) by No Address - the "la doddy doddy doddy doddy doddy dim dim dim" chorus is a brilliant hook, and the lyrics are a snort. Oh, and it doth rock.

Viking by Los Lobos - a wall of garbled feedback over a killer beat.

This last one's a lark. I put some of my kid's songs (the ones that I can stand) on some of my mix CDs for my car so when we're going places they don't whine too much about the music selection. Well, if you have kids from ages 4 - 13 you know that the biggest thing right now is the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie and album. One song, Coast 2 Coast, is actually pretty catchy. So catchy in fact that I was sure it was a cover and went to look for the original, but nope, it's a new song. So, if you've got kids and want a song that won't drive you too buggy, check it out.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Don't put your butt over your head

I keep forgetting that eventually everything ends up on Youtube. One of my favorite extrapolations on aging is from Gallagher, and I thought only now to look it up. Had I not heard this at some point in my life, I would've wondered why at some point my love for roller coasters turned into loathing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ephemera, 01-14-2007

One of those trailer re-imaginings: American Psycho - Romantic Comedy

The facts on Bottled Water

Saw Bucket List

Plot and story-wise, it's your basic Hallmark Channel quasi-weepy, but starring two of the biggest movie stars alive right now.

Yes, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson give great performances, but that's like saying it's windy on Mt. Everest.

It's worth a DVD rental, but don't bother with the theatre unless you specifically dig that voyage. (At this point in my life, I prefer the environment of my own living room for movie viewing.)

One great line, though. Nicholson offers his young assistant some advice about old age:

"Never pass up a restroom, never waste a hard-on, and never trust a fart."


Roger Ebert didn't like it at all. His points are valid. You start off with a HUGE leap to maintain suspension of disbelief in that a bazillionaire wouldn't just set up a hospital room at home and forgo the hospital altogether.

Also, Rick C. writes in to point out that the quote is "A combo plagiarization lifted from Robert Heinlein’s 'Notebooks of Lazarus Long' and one of Dan Jenkins’ football books."

You know this is going to be a reality someday.

(Click for full-size image.)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Well hell

To my immense surprise, I really like the most recent Kid Rock album Rock and Roll Jesus. When I realized this, I thought of Whisky's recent plug for Alice Cooper's latest, which I agree is another good set that you wouldn't think to pick up in the first place unless someone suggested it.

Two things influenced me to borrow it: 1) the title was provocative, and I'm always interested if an artist has any finesse in managing loaded religious terms, 2) it was getting some surprisingly good reviews.

Happy to report - even though I'm sure fundies would flip - the use of "Rock and Roll Jesus" is actually clever and not (that) inappropriate, though a bit egotistical (but of course, this is Kid Rock, that's part of his vibe).

The good reviews were right on, too. Though there is this review on the usually-dependable All Music Guide where something got stuck up the reviewer's posterior, and he inadvertently makes a good case for why it's a good rock and roll album. I kinda researched the guy, and I completely agree with most of his "desert island" stuff, so I wonder what went wrong...

Oddly, or not so oddly, I can't get folks to listen to it; and these are people who've given Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, or even the Mosquitos a try. Funny how an artist's image can influence people's open-mindedness. Oh well. Their loss.

TLD: The first time I got it from the library, the disc was missing. When I took it back and showed the librarian - kind of a humorous grouch in her 60s - she said: "That just pisses me off. Why can't they just copy it like everyone else, and bring the disc back?" Y'know, when even librarians have that take on things, you'd think the RIAA could get a clue.
Recent Reads

In my continuing stroll through rock autobiographies, I read Rolling Stone Ron Wood's Ronnie. Kinda dull and accomplishes the interesting feat of making the life of a big rock and roll star seem mundane.

There was one great quote tho: "I know that anger and disappointment blow out the candles of the mind."

Gonna put that one in the quotes collection.

Also scan-read Marley and Me by John Grogan as research for a project. Dear Lord, it was as precious as I feared it would be.

However, it's probably the most dead-on portrait of a certain stripe of modern American family. I know so many people like Grogan and his wife. This book is valuable alone for the picture it paints of this time for future historians.

As a book about pet ownership, I consider it a guide on what never to put up with. Pet ownership should be a pleasant thing. Once an animal goes bad, or destructive, or (worst of all) bites, then perhaps - if the behavior can't be truly corrected - it's time to introduce the animal to eternity.

If you think that's harsh of me, even Grogan mentions that in Barbara Woodhouse in her No Bad Dogs: The Woodhouse Way gives pretty much the same assessment.

Read some of the reviews on just to see if others felt like I did about the book, but most of the 1 star reviews are by people who don't think the Grogans were patient enough or caring enough to the dog. "How dare they lock him up in a kennel to prevent house damage!" is a common lament. Wow, folks, get a grip.

(Keep in mind I was raised in the Midwest around farmers, whose view of animals is they should be treated humanely, but they are animals and not people, and if they are a hazard or problematic, out behind the woodshed they go.)

The best of the recent lot is My Horizontal Life by stand up comedian Chelsea Handler.

I once caught the tail-end of her show on E!, and got a kick out of her lovable grouchy demeanor. It also helps that she "has a face with a view," to quote the Talking Heads. So I got her book.

She's a freakin' hoot. Who knows how much of these supposedly true stories are exaggerated or made up (if at all), but reading her is like finding the person at the party who tells the best stories and having the additional good fortune of doing it early so you're entertained all night.

Just hunt her up on Youtube to get a sense of her humor. Bet you'll dig her, too.
took a minute

But once I figured out what this was, I had to laugh.

(Click for full size.)
Cowbell Hero!

(References - one - two - for those of you in the cheap seats.)
Childhood phobias

Boy, when I happed across this (#10. Novelty Drinking-Themed Toys), the ole goosebumps just flashed.

My grandparents had one of these, and I was scared to death of it. It's the first thing I remember being terrified of. Besides its face going red and smoke coming out of its ears, it would make this horrible grinding whistle when the smoke shot out. The memory is still vivid. (I still don't recall why this thing freaked me out.)

So, that got me thinking about first phobias and what caused them.

My wife's was German Shepherds because before she could talk (talk about a good memory, eh?), a German Shepherd found her diapers set out for the laundry service, tore into the bag and scattered them everywhere. My wife remembers feeling so violated. Later, they ran across another German Shepherd in the park, and she freaked. Her mom, one of the more clueless people I've ever met, couldn't figure it out, so her brother who was a mere one year older than her said, "[sister] don't like no bowwow." I find it interesting that my wife knows WHY she has the phobia. (In an odd coincidence, I was attacked by a German Shepherd when my wife was standing next to me. The thing went right for my throat, but I'm such a spazz (and I prefer the term "strong flight response") I managed to shield myself and knock the dog away in the same motion. I spend a year getting past being nervous around big dogs.)

My eldest daughter was afraid of blow-up toys until she entered grade school. It's my fault, too. We had this life-size blowup Frankenstein. It was more cartoonish than scary, and I had learned that kids aren't afraid of a lot of things until you teach them to be. When I first started blowing it up, she was having a ball crawling around and tugging on it. But as it began to take on the proportions of a person lying there, she got quieter and quieter, finally slinking over to the wall with her eyes glued on the thing. Then I stood it up. Dear Lord. She practically levitated with fear and screamed so loud it made me jump, which made the blowup Frankie jump, which made her convulse and scream louder. I couldn't get it out of the room fast enough. We ended up storing it in the basement until Halloween. Both my wife and I got startled by it even though we knew it was there. When we absent-mindedly went down for something, and flicked on a light and THERE IT WAS, it always made us jump. Our poor baby would cling to us like an abused rhesus monkey who was raised by a washcloth if we carried her anywhere near the stairs. Later that year I bought her a huge blowup jack (the six-pronged things you plays jacks with using a ball), because she was pulling herself up and I thought it'd be perfect for her to us for that, plus she could push it around and practice walking. Of course, she wouldn't go NEAR the thing. So, I am responsible for my first daughter's first phobia.

Lucky for me, my wife was responsible for our second child's first phobia. They had gotten stickers at the doctors after an appt., and for some reason my wife stuck them to her arm (or allowed her to do so). Well, the glue in these stickers was a Gorrila Glue reject, and even after we pried the stickers off (a couple days later) the stickum remained. After about a week, we decided it was time to clean it off, and I discovered the miraculous face wash for Nordic-descent folks like myself, Cetaphil, dissolved the glue. But since then the poor little thing will not let us put play tattoos on her, and she barely tolerates Band-Aids.

Alas, though, as I produced her second phobia. We were at the zoo, and she was trying to go to sleep in her stroller. She was still fussing, so I knew she was awake. A beautiful peacock walked in front of us, so I raised the blanket to show it to her, and this alarmed the peacock, so he lowered his head and squawked so loud had we been holding wine glasses they would've exploded. The only thing louder was our baby's scream in response. She can't even stand them on TV now.

Any good phobia stories from my gentle readers?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ephemera 1/2/2008

- Why knots happen. The other day I set down my MP3 player headphones near the power chords to the family's cell phones; 5 freakin' minutes later when I went to grab it, it was so tangled in them it took a minute to free it.

- Top 100 Science Stories. Lotsa cool stuff.

- Man, if this isn't dead-on: 50 Things Men Wish You [women] Knew. Being a guy, I can't vouch for the women's list.

- If you didn't get enough of this oddly compulsive activity in during the holidays, here ya go.

- This guy reduced 8 films down to a graphic comprised of 1 frame per second of film. Doesn’t result in much of anything stirring or useful, but still a tad interesting.

- I finally had to cave and buy the now-illegal pseudophederine (Sudafed) for one of my babies who had a cold during the holidays, and sure enough, I had to sign the FBI form and give them all my personal information to do so. I grumbled at the pharmacist that I knew it wasn't her fault and such, but back when Ronnie Raygun ratcheted up Nixon's drug war, I knew this would be one of the eventual results. My fellow 'Mericans - enough of this shite already. Let's lean on our govt. to end this silliness.
Holiday Movie Viewing

Black Snake Moan (and some unsolicited advice for young men)

I think that one (unspoken?) truth of blogdom is that everyone who blogs feels they have a novel lurking inside them somewhere. Or a script.

Too bad that the story lodged inside of the writer/director of Black Snake Moan broke loose and made it to the screen.

I watched the movie before discovering eventually what was under the surface. I already thought it was silly (fun silly, though), and then I listened to some of the director's commentary.

Well, before I go there, let me tell you the one scene I truly enjoyed.

The premise is that Christina Ricci (Rae) is a nympho; Samuel Jackson's wife has just left him for his brother; Ricci - after screwing half the town the day her fiance leaves for basic training - is beaten and dumped for dead by the fiance's best friend, right outside Jackson's house. Jackson finds her the next day and, while fixing her up, uncovers her reputation. So he chains her to his radiator to cure her of her <cartoonish southern drawl>sickness</cartoonish southern drawl>. (Let us pause to snicker.)

Here's the scene I enjoyed: A teenage boy comes by to take some produce that Jackson has said he could have, and Ricci (Rae) does her best to resist her urges, but he has the bad fortune of finally just opening the door after he hears her chain rattling. She gets up from clutching the radiator (her pillar of strength), rips off her top while running across the room to jump on the boy; when she does, she also kicks the door closed in the same motion she uses to jump on the kid. I laughed out loud. And I admired the dexterity needed to perform that maneuver.

So, we come to find out in the commentary that the director/writer thinks he's created this heartfelt docudrama about damaged people and their need for each other (that is, people so co-dependant that even parasites would balk at being so fused to the host). He tells a story about how he and his wife are kind of like that, how they can't function without each other, plus various other details like "safe songs" they use together as refuge from the world (hence the blues musician angle in the movie). At that point I felt like I could benefit from a shower.

While watching I wondered what could motivate someone to make such an absurd, awkward movie. I'm embarrassed on behalf the writer/director that it was an honest attempt to justify outrageous behavior because the person they're addicted to is not within clinging range. Even the great Samuel Jackson couldn't save this gobbler (from being unintentionally funny).

(Btw, if you are the writer/director of this movie and you read this post, and I've assiduously avoided stating your name in hopes you won't via a Google vanity search (we all do it), I do apologize for the harshness of my views here. I typically write things so that I wouldn't be ashamed if the person I'm talking about were standing over my shoulder reading what I'm writing. This is one of the few times I've just taken the gloves off. Sorry. I just thought your movie was a failed attempt at what you were trying to convey. Perhaps if you'd told the real story of your wife and yourself, that would've rang true.)

By the way, a cute thing happened after I told my wife how much the movie did suq. Our three-year-old was playing on the floor nearby and as any parent can attest, they are ALWAYS listening. Later, when the family was discussing which movie to watch, she suggested "snake in the mood," inadvertently getting closer to the theme than the actual title does.

Personal aside: I was in a relationship with a nymphomaniac once. She had (and still has, I'm presuming) a strong resemblance to Christina Ricci; they could be sisters they look so much alike. So watching Ricci play one was a little eerie for me.

For all the young dudes: nymphos are fun for the first three months (presuming you're young, haven't been around the block much (if you get what I mean and I'm sure you do), have a lot of energy, and don't mind the lack of sleep), but then after that they're work.

If I were to give advice to boys on such things, I'd have four essential ones:
1) Avoid nymphos (again, fun at first, but you eventually have to scrape them off your shoe). Sex is like any transient thing that is great (chocolate, beer, movies, you name it), it's better in moderation; too much always diminishes the glory of it. Like Rita Rudner once put it (in responding to one of her friends being in labor for 36 hours): "I don't even want to do anything that feels GOOD for 36 hours."
2) Don't be a "playa"/slut/"stiff-dick-no-conscience" (a phrase we used back in the day)/pickup artist; none of the guys I've known like that have ended up well; it serves your getting laid but destroys your trust and ideas of intimacy, plus most of them got addicted to it and couldn't shake the taste for strange; and oddly every one of them married badly (some a few times).
3) If you are going to do anything deviant, remember that everything you put into your head (the one on your shoulders) stays there, and "everything is worth trying once" is a lie invented either by drug pushers or someone trying to get someone else into bed. And keep in mind that these days regrets can end up on the web to be played over and over by strangers laughing their collective asses off at you. The only thing I do recommend that's out of the ordinary is having a temporary relationship at some time with an "older woman" (at least 7 years older than you), should the opportunity arise. When you do, make it clear the relationship has a built-in stale date - not that it still won't make the ending messy, but at least you can say you were honest up front. Those troubles aside, what you'll experience will most likely benefit you a lot, and not just in bed. And at least she'll have fun for a while.
4) The girls do the choosing whether you like it or not; it'll be much easier meeting and dating girls if you pay attention to those who seem interested in you in the first place; chances are one of those is someone you're interested in, too. I cannot tell you how much angst and ego-shattering you'll manage to avoid by following this simple rule.
5) This should go without saying, but never chain a chick to a radiator.

The Number 23

A little walk through bad movie hell from the hack Joel Schumacher. The second I saw his name on the director's credit, I groaned and looked at the clock.

Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen do a decent job with their roles (and it was fun seeing Bud Cort of Harold and Maude pop up), so there's that.

The movie is essentially a retread of Angel Heart without the menace and charm, not to mention a nekkid Lisa Bonet (instead you get Carrey thrusting away on top of various women).

Skip it and watch Angel Heart again.

I Am Legend

I guess I'm just gonna have to read the book.

This movie is boring, then loud, then boring again, then loud, ad infinitum.

The creatures are so blatantly CGI I just wondered if the boys and girls who sat in front of their rendering stations spent so much time in the dark they simply forgot how people look. They didn't even get to the edge of the uncanny valley.

Perfect Stranger

Glossy sorta-thriller with Bruce Willis and Halle Berry that breaks one of the biggest rules of mysteries: nothing about the actual mystery is revealed until the last 5 minutes. The primary thought you're left with at the end is "how stupid."


A fun little popcorn horror movie with the always awesome John Cusack. My only gripe is gratuitous use of a dead child as a plot device. I read recently (but can't find the reference) that Gene Siskel hated movies where children where put in peril. I'm the same. The only thing that tugs me out of a movie faster is either really graphic sex (because then I think of the actors' moms, dads, and SOs) or just a truly bad movie - see above.

Samuel Jackson's in this one, and he does improve things when he's in the scene; BSM (above) is just a fluke.

Whoopi: Back to Broadway - The 20th Anniversary

Here we come to the ONE thing I watched that I enjoyed unreservedly (outside of the "making of" documentary that comes with the new Blade Runner DVD set).

This set contains Whoopi's original one-woman Broadway show that put her on the map as well as her return show sometime in 2004-2005. Both are fabulous.

If you've never seen the original, start with that one. If you have, watch it again second. It's still good as it ever was.

It's really too bad that there hasn't been a film yet that taps her ability to do a character the way she does in these shows.