Monthly Archives: February 2007

Apathy…and a great article

Reminders like this are why I feel so apathetic towards American life lately. The less I follow the so-called news, which is a bunch of baloney, the better. What in the world do I care about dead playmates, doped-up aging teeny-boppers, or what movie is going to win an Oscar when ex-coworkers of mine are getting shot at on a daily basis?

I found this article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2019344,00.html

Better dump the Oscars

It’s an embarrassment that we pause for movie awards – and treat war and peace as a game show.

David Thomson
Friday February 23, 2007
The Guardian

We are in the culture of “non-binding decisions”. What I mean by that is that, at this moment, you can measure the hallucinatory experience of living in the US according to a range of decisions that don’t matter. For instance, who is the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby? Who will win American Idol? Will Barry Bonds take over the home-run record of Henry Aaron? How high will the sea level rise if global warning sets in? And, this week, what is going to win best picture at the Oscars on Sunday?

Article continues
Anything else you can think of? Oh yes, do we support the “surge” in Iraq, or not? Don’t worry over your answers; we don’t worry any more. It’s more than anyone in America can endure, to ask the people to live in real doubt or agony. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were ruined by leading in war, you could see it and feel it in their beings. Bush is still a kid, riding high on his own “non-binding decisions”.

It’s not that the questions I have listed are without resonance. If you are Anna Nicole’s child you are going to care, and there are lawyers who will care for you in advance with over $400m at issue. You can dismiss Barry Bonds as someone who has already done his bit to destroy the integrity of baseball and its records. You can say, seriously, that there isn’t a movie this year worthy of best picture – apart from the German film, The Lives of Others. And, yes, you can say that Iraq matters a lot, as well as global warming.

But this is a culture where any cursory examination of the media as February closes shows the inordinate amount of money being spent to praise this movie or that performance. The language offered by the House and Senate on Iraq – the decision to make their votes “non-binding” – is part and parcel of the pusillanimous fear over all decisions. One way of measuring a nation or culture in decline is to point to its preference for frivolous decisions over important ones, and to its degrading of its own important choices.

You see, it doesn’t matter whether Peter O’Toole or Forest Whitaker wins best actor. I’m a film critic and I think that O’Toole’s old man in Venus means more to more of us than Whitaker’s clever but somehow irrelevant Idi Amin. I agree you can’t compare performances. I would happily abandon the Oscars. I am fond of O’Toole and I could bear to see his decrepit elegance hanging on a stick as he utters a sweet word of thanks. O’Toole might be magnificent. But it doesn’t matter. He could as easily die with eight rejections as seven.

It matters that we got into Iraq, all of us. It matters, enormously so, that our “intelligence” led us there, or was led. And in any rational society there would have been firings and resignations in those areas to make the troops shudder. It matters that from the outset we sent troops in without language, a plan, local knowledge or body armour. It matters that our leader said, let’s have a war over the most serious issue of our time but don’t let’s act serious about it – don’t let us tax ourselves more gravely, don’t let us have a draft, don’t let us ask for universal service. Let’s “surge” instead of think. Let’s pass over as fit only for praise that 3,000 of our troops have been killed, 20,000 maimed and unknown numbers of bystanders wiped out. Let’s act as if it’s a game show. Don’t, under any circumstances, upset the American public.

It is an embarrassment that we pause for the Oscars, as well as an anachronism – the great majority of the public gave up the habit of movie-going a long time ago. And it is monstrous and disastrous that we play footsie with non-binding decisions.

· David Thomson is author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film

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My Reply to Political Emails

Brain G Age 7
I get political emails forwarded to me. A LOT of political emails. Too much for any one person to handle. They are not from one side or the other. I would have to say most of them are bashing Sen. Clinton, but a near-equal number of them bash Pres. Bush. I created a form letter to reply to anyone who wishes to send me these “useful” emails that clog up my inbox every week:

NOTE: That this is a “Form Reply”, meaning that this is not directly addressed to you, simply you as a sender of the content of the email in which I am replying.

Please do not send me any more politically slanted emails. I am relatively politically neutral. I do not hate President G.W. Bush. I do not hate former President Clinton nor Senator Clinton. I do not hate Sen. Obama. I am not fully in support or against either of the two major political parties in this country because neither represents my views. Please do not send me any more politically slanted emails.

Thank-you.

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Buy my stuff! Buy my stuff! Buy my stuff!

Note: As of August 2008…I still have this crap. *sigh*


Ugh…so there’s that Ebay thing…

As some of who who have known me a long, long time, I’m a packrat. I’m no longer an active packrat, but I still have loads and loads of CRAP from years ago. So, I’m digging around in one of my 3 boxes of comics (numbering around 400+), and what do I find? My complete set of Hunchback of Notre Dame toys from Burger King!

When I lived in Sioux Falls, I used to work for Gateway 2000, as it was called back in the day. Well, I used to get into severe lunch habits, where I’d eat at one place, and only one place, for months at a time. It started out with the Subway on North Cliff Ave.

It was all well and good. For 4-5 months, I’d go in, order my Cold Cut Combo on Wheat (6-inch) with Onions, Green Peppers, Olives, Salt & Pepper, Hot Peppers, and Mayo. Over and over I’d order this thing. The breaking point was when I walked in, and the staff started to make my sandwich before I’d order it.

And it wasn’t the whole “in a rut” thing…it was that anyone that I didn’t know personally knew me well enough to know the complexities of something I ate. That weirded me out, so I naturally had to go somewhere else.

The first thing I tried was the Subway at Rentchler’s Truck Stop (now a Pilot Truck Stop) on even more-northern Cliff Ave., Sioux Falls. Well, that ended up being a full $1.20 (give or take) more for the same sandwich less than 2 miles away from the other subway. No-can-do.

I decided on Burger King. See, this was 1996, and there wasn’t a McDonald’s yet, and I don’t think there was even an Arby’s out there either. Just the Subways, Perkin’s, and Little King *might* have still been there, but if I wanted a sub, I’d go on the cheap and head to Subway.

Being that this was 1996, the latest Disney craptacular opus, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, was in theaters. And there is a cardinal rule with kids meal tie-ins. If the movie is supposed to be GREAT, the toys will be at McDonald’s. If the movie is supposed to be BAD, the toys will be at Burger King. I don’t think this ‘cardinal rule’, as it were, was fully realized in my head when I launched my master plan.

Somewhere around that time, Beanie Babies were the RAGE. People were paying hundreds, thousands of dollars for these beanbag toys. I mean, the company just sort of came out of no where. No one knew the “TY” company name. What would happen if I had the ENTIRE set of a toy, based on a movie put out by a very, very well known company? RICHES!

I went about buying a Kids Meal every day (with an additional Cheeseburger, Ketchup Only Please), getting the toy from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (being careful not to repeat), and putting it away. I figured a couple years would be ample time to wait for these toys to just explode in value. And just to be the hep-cat that I was, I also did something unthinkable. I bought two complete sets of Eight Toys(!), opened up one set (thus nullifying their value) and put them up in diaramas on my desk at work. Probably with some Transformers in some battle over the control of Paris during the Renaissance. You know, to entertain my cubical friends.

After an estimated 16 work-days (about 3 weeks) of this, I apparently grew sick of all the burgers. I was truly getting sick of Burger King. I realized that I had to go back to Subway. Even before the whole Jared Diet thing came about, I knew that Subway was a Heck of a lot healthier than BK was. Sorry King. You taste great. I just didn’t want to have a coronary at age 20.

After a time, upon cleaning the toys out of my desk cubicle, I put all of the toys, opened and unopened, into a box, which then went into one of my comic book boxes, never to see the light of day.

Until now. (…pausing for dramatic effect…)

Upon cleaning out the garage a little bit, I found this little stash of toys buried in the comic book box, and decided, “Cool! I can finally realize my dream and sell these on Ebay! RICHES!” So I pulled them out, took a nice (not blurry in the least) photo of the toys, and put them on Ebay. I figured that maybe there was a nice sucker out there who would buy these gems, and I should price them high, but not too high. $20 for all eight. Perfect, I mean, I have a complete set after all. These will just fly out of my hands. I’ll have them pawned off in no-time.

A couple days….No Bids. Crap. Time to knock off a couple bucks. I obviously overestimated the stupidity of Disney memorabilia buyers. Besides, Hunchback was a horrible movie. Even Demi Moore said it was bad, before it came out, and she was IN it! So…time to slice off $5.00. Now it’s only $14.99. Cool beans.

Another day…No Bids! Crap crap crap! This simply will not do! $10 it is. I have to get a bid out of these stupid things.

And another day! NO BIDS. This is serious. I’d rather break even with these stupid things or even lose money than to have this go to the end of the week without a bid! I must sell these things! So, I take drastic measures:

1. I dropped the price to $1.00.
2. I changed the short item description to list Disney FIRST.
3. I changed the detailed description to this:

Or (in Comic Sans, bright Red):

“UNTOUCHED FOR TEN YEARS!

Complete set of all EIGHT Burger King Kids Meal Toys from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame!

Mint condition! Just the thing for any Disney Collector!

Includes: Quasimodo, Esmeralda (with goat), Frollo, Phoebus, Clopin, Victor, Hugo, and Laverne.

THESE ARE A MUST FOR ANY DISNEY MEMORABILIA COLLECTOR!!”

It’s horrible. It’s everything that annoys me about Ebay…but it might just work. I just felt bad enough about this experience…that I had to share it with all of you! Thanks for being there, silent though you are! I love each and every one of you!

That’s about all the story I got for today, kids. Here’s the link to my wonderful product: Hunchy!

Piece out, -A

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Washington’s Farewell Address, translated into "today speech"

Washington: ‘sup

This is George Washington’s Farewell Address, translated into “today speech”. I rather wish that more of today’s politicians would know to leave when shown the door. (Clintons anyone?)

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The Logical Conclusion of the Movie "Ice Age"


I was watching the movie Ice Age the other day. If you don’t know what it’s about, Ice Age is a computer animated story of a sloth, a wooly mammoth, and a sabre tooth tiger trying to bring this neanderthal baby (whose mother was killed) back to its tribe. The tiger is a bad guy, trying to lead the voyagers into a trap, but ends up doing good deeds in the end.

And here’s where I’m ruining the ending, by the way. However, Ice Age came out nearly 10 years ago. If you haven’t seen it by now, don’t get mad at me about it.

Now, the movie ends with the crew successfully returning the baby to its human father, and there’s a touching moment when the father is just about to throw a spear at the mammoth when Manny (the mammoth) reaches his trunk onto his back, plucks the baby by it’s tunic, and delivers him to the dad.

Now…this scene might have had lasting effects on the man, and the tribe in general. I believe that this ultimately forced the men to turn a new leaf, start vegetarian diets, and stop killing the kind-hearted mammoths and other animal fauna like those featured in the movie.

Since the ice age was preventing plant growth from occurring in most areas, the neanderthal men starved to death, thus becoming extinct. And so did everyone else, for the most part. The end.

Interesting trivia fact: every animal and human offshoot featured in that movie is from an extinct species. Nice touch, animators.

By the way, I haven’t seen the sequel. No real plans to, it looks bad. Is it? Comment if you feel like it. -A

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Things that should not be, but unfortunately are

1. Bon Jovi songs on the radio. There is no good reason to play Bon Jovi on the radio. Seriously. The only reason I can see to play any Bon Jovi song is to play “Bad Medicine” so that I can sing along, “Thoreau is like Ralph Emerson. Ralph Emerson is what I need.”. Tell me, is this a good reason? I don’t think so. Neither do my co-workers.

2. The Country Music scene. It sounds like a bunch of bad radio jingles. For that matter, so does the Pop Music scene. I was subjected to the local top-40 country station for most of today at work, and it’s pitiful.
When I was growing up, I didn’t really want to get my license. My pal Jason had his license first, so we just rode along with him all the time. (By the way, I still owe you and your family hundreds of dollars in gas money…something that doesn’t occur to someone that doesn’t drive.) Well, in Jason’s car we’d listen to weird stuff, like Classical. Atypical for a high school student. There’d be operas, NPR “hits”, and so on. On the other hand, in my Mom’s car, it’d be country, nothing but country.
Because of both incidents, I have a secret (or not-so-secret) fondness for both musical forms, Classical and Country, but not a true love of either one. I can listen to them, and sometimes I HAVE to listen to them, so that I might get ‘centered’ once again. But in neither form do I have a great deal of historical knowledge, or any real knowledge of “hidden finds” that I do in other music forms. Here’s a for-instance: The Butthole Surfers are not an utterly fantastic band, but a really good one. However, their version (or complete revision) of the song, “Hurdy Gurdy Man” is, to me, one of the absolute great songs, one that is overlooked except for the fact that it was on the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack, along with the song Crash byt the Primitives…although I must say the original version of Crash that occurs on a previous album is much superior to this version…

Anyhow, sauerkraut, I digress. I once heard that Brian Wilson hired an ad-jingle writer to help him flesh out the words to the songs on the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds”, but I truly feel that Country Music has done this and worse. Every song sounds very plain to me. Every word is sung on beat, or the same distance pre-beat on every verse. Every song is…tame. It doesn’t “mean” anything anymore. Throughout the course of the craptacular display of music, out of the blue, the station played an old Patsy Cline song, “Walking After Midnight”. Now granted, Ms. Cline had one of the greatest voices of any genre, past, present and future. But even besides that, the delivery, the sly connection of words and beats in a predictable but not too-predictable rhythm blows away any of the competition from todays music. While there are many talented singers out there today…none of them seem to “mean” anything. Maybe it’s the corporations who own all the music stations today, I don’t know.

The same holds true with the rock stations. The only stations I can stand to listen to these days are Z92 (classic rock that I’ve heard a million times before) and The River (great, great alternative, metal, 15-year-old grunge, and other junk mixed in, with a very local Omaha flair). I usually throw a pop station on the presets to try to get into today’s culture…but my tolerance is very thin. I just can’t do it. It’s too hard to listen to.

….I suppose I should move on. See, I took notes, little notes, today at work when things were slow. I wrote down 6 items to talk about in the blog, amidst trainwreck ramblings and whatnot. The train of thought going down the wrong track, tumbling down a cliff, that sort of thing.

Let’s see…ah, Ford. Sad pitiful Ford. Ford, see, has only put out one truly interesting mass-produced car in the last 30 years, and that’s the Ford Mustang. So pretty, so hot. Just a gorgeous car. But only since the mid-90’s. Until then, like most of their other cars, they pissed all over semi-ok ideas. The Probe, for instance. Besides sharing a title with something that goes up your ass during a rectal exam (or an alien abduction), it was an interesting idea that was poorly executed in the body stylings. My sister had one, and it was a very fun car to drive. It had a cockpit like a Corvette, and it drove like a sports car should, close to the ground, and with a feeling of speed even when you were driving slow. But what an ugly car. Just a big goopy blog…an excretion from somewhere…maybe there “was” a reason why they called it a Probe after all.

Moving on…I guess this is the last bullet point for the night. The movie “What About Bob?”. A movie that really shouldn’t have been made. See, I hate embarrassment humor. This is why I hate Ben Stiller, because it seems as if the only movies that dick puts out are embarrassment humor “comedies”. But “What About Bob?” is worse than that. It takes three great comedic actors, Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfus, and the girl from Airplane, and puts them together in this excruciating, uncomfortable crapfest of a film. The main point of the film is for psychiatrist Richard Dreyfus, unlikable in the film as it was written, to be put in embarrassing and unnerving situations by patient Bill Murray. I feel nothing for Dreyfus, so I want him to fail, but I’m also embarrassed for the stupidity that he produces. It’s like Wiley Coyote, except you have no sympathy for the guy. It’s just sad…The whole movie is sad. What’s worse is that this was the first of a string of horrible movies for both actors, and the last notable movie for that Airplane girl altogether. It was like a precipice before a steep cliff. Dreyfus didn’t really come out until Mr. Holland’s Opus, an okay version of the Dead Poets Society (in and of itself an overrated movie, but still a favorite in my book. Flying writing tables and all.) Murray didn’t come out until he got together with the Royal Tennenbaums guys. It was just a bad movie for all concerned. I wish that bomb hadn’t destroyed the house, but all the characters involved.

I don’t know how to wrap this up, but as always, I’m all over the map. Sleep deprivation I suppose, since I only slept for 4 hours last night. This of course doesn’t explain the other ramblings I have done in the past.

Until next time, fare thee well. Oh, and email me if you want to read my very greusome chapter of a story I’m writing. s’fun. TTYL.

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