April 29, 2005
The Late, Great Dennis Miller
I rant, therefore I am. ~ Dennis Miller
I happened upon Miller's Crossing today. It's as dead-on-balls-accurate now as it was when I first read it.
Once upon a time there was no man higher on my CILF list than Dennis Miller. He was smart and cocky and sexy and glib. He knew geeky references you can't look up in books. Even when his writing was obviously aided by others, he carried it off. When his rambling started to skew more smug than fun, that Cheshire cat grin of his just continued to work for me. His anchor time on the SNL news segments will never be equaled as far as I'm concerned. Hell, I was even one of the three people who enjoyed him on Monday Night Football.
He was never a true liberal, although many try to remember him as one. He was an equal opportunity ranter and his politics were down the center. That was okay with me. I am not above laughing at the liberal party. It's very laughable, more's the pity.
Then came 9/11. And something in Miller's demeanor started to go horribly astray. The angry-young-man turned smug-middle-aged-smart-ass was, quite, obviously, frightened by the world he was trying to mock. Because of that, his punchlines started sounding more like the American hate-mongering that was so prevalent at the time than the smart "don't try and bullshit me" smugster he'd once been. Yosemite Sam replaced Bugs Bunny in the Looney Toon of Miller's life.
I remember very distinctly watching an episode of the last season of HBO's Dennis Miller Live with Alec Baldwin as the featured guest. The topic was supposed to be "Truth in the Media" but Miller ended up, well, going off on a rant. In fact he was borderline psychotic, casting out ridiculous notions like nuking the Middle East ("sand and fire make glass"). It had never been more obvious that somewhere, deep down, what he was saying wasn't meant to be funny. He wasn't kidding. No, he didn't think we would really nuke the Middle East, but it was clear it would have been okay with him if we had.
Baldwin said something along the lines of "we really have to try to heal some of the anger people like you are feeling because it's scaring the rest of us." I've never been a big Alec Baldwin fan, but I think it was possibly the smartest sentiment he's ever voiced.
After 9/11 I was less afraid of terrorists and way more afraid of Americans. That remains true to this day. Terrorists can only take my life. What my fellow Americans can take from me is far more dear. It was clear that Miller's fears and mine weren't on the same wavelength any longer.
What followed was a horrible path of zig-zagging on his part. He embraced George Bush as a great leader for reasons I'll never be able to fathom. He began spewing GOP talking points as if they made sense. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I believe he grabbed a memo and told Karl Rove he'd suit up, exactly. I just think he was hanging out with too many people who say the same things to each other over and over. It infiltrated his dialog and invaded his sense of humor. His funny was no longer funny. It was just downright depressing.
I have never been a fair-weather fan (my football teams are the Dolphins and Saints for all that's holy. Trust me, I beg for the occasional bout of fair weather!), so, I held on as long as I could. But after an HBO stand-up hour where I didn't laugh but twice (and I think that was more out of sympathy than genuine humor), and a showing on Bill Maher's Real Time where he got served by Ariana Huffington of all people, I was starting to lose my respect for the man. The last nail in the coffin as far as I was concerned was the first episode of his CNBC talk show. Somewhere around the time he started blowing kisses at his pet ape, I felt ill. I made it to the end, and then decided to mourn what was gone and move on. I really haven't thought about him much since.
I couldn't help feeling pleasantly surprised recently when he popped up on The Daily Show. Of course, that "happy to see you" feeling was not to last. There was Dennis, riffing off old stock jokes, defending George Bush and explaining once again how he thinks global warming is a non-issue in one-liners that really do make sense if you're comfortable thinking in two-dimensional terms instead of the three that are required for complex issues. But what I found most interesting (and disturbingly piteous) in the interview was the almost apologetic way he kept repeating "Hey, I'm a libertarian." I don't watch his CNBC show, but I'm of the opinion that if you have to brand yourself two or three times over a five-minute segment, you're trying to make up for something. At the end of his appearance I couldn't help thinking, "I obviously haven't been missing much."
I must admit, I caught a glimpse -- just a glimpse -- of something familiar. It might have been hopeful thinking. It probably was.
Among with all else that was lost on 9/11, I have to say that it pains me just a touch to have lost Dennis as well. I continue to hope he heals enough to buy his soul back from whatever machine he sublet it to. Although, it's been my experience your soul is something that, once hocked, is damn hard to buy back.
Then again, I'm not sure Mr. Miller would give a fig about the opinion of your average everyday American phone slut ;-)
April 28, 2005
The Girl I Am
Girls have an unfair advantage over men: if they can't get what they want by being smart, they can get it by being dumb. ~ Yul Brynner
Why do I take such foolish pleasure in silly quizzes that cannot possibly measure the worth of a person or deliver any sort of real insight? Who knows. Well, I always take them twice and I always come out with two different results each time. So, I'm apparently somewhere between:
Think this is dumb? Blame Ray.
April 27, 2005
Walk Down the Right Back Alley in Sin City, and You Can Find Anything...
Burt Shlubb and Douglas Klump. Two any-dirty-job-there-is thugs with delusions of eloquence. ~ Bruce Willis as Hartigan (via Frank Miller)
For a long time now geeks like me have had to watch our beloved comic books and graphic novels churned out into a celluloid holocaust of trash. Hollywood has, by and large, never understood the medium and rarely bothered to try. They see the bright colors that depict gritty explosions and their coal-lined hearts translate them into dollar signs before they bother to think about the subtext or the core of the stories and characters. We've seen a horrendous succession of mediocrity thrust at us. Ben Affleck as Daredevil being perhaps the lowest moment we had to suffer. And if the cast is right, the script is vomitus (can you say X-Men, boys and girls?).
Hollywood sees these as million-dollar jerk-off fests to showcase popular stars and special effects. And it's always the GREAT ones they rape. There are a LOT of bad comics out there. Do they go and fuck those up into film fodder? Nope. Bastards.
For years now I've been holding my breath in terror that Neil Gaiman's Sandman would come up on the block. That it hasn't is perhaps one of the last remaining possibilities of evidence that there may be a benevolent God. I think if I had to endure seeing some flavor-of-the-month star like Ashton Kutcher play Morphus, I'd really lose it and end up climbing a bell tower with a hostage and some automatic weapons. And I'd be justified.
So, when Sin City was announced there was that familiar dull sick feeling that cued Queen in the back of my mind ("Another One Bites the Dust").
I'm fiendishly, wickedly delighted to be wrong.
Sin City got it right. Rodriguez/Miller/Tarintino NAILED IT. They didn't make a movie about a graphic novel. They recreated a graphic novel using film as the medium. Every moment of the movie is poetry translated into visual splendor. The acting is spot-on. The atmosphere is eerily effective and from the opening to the ending you are on a journey that doesn't play by rules or phrases like "Hollywood ending" or "plot arch" or "star time."
It's gritty. It's dank and dark and dismal. It's hopelessly fragile and painfully beautiful. It's passion and loathing. It's goddamn glorous.
The moments of elegance in the film are of gut-wrenching beauty. And, like in graphic novels and modern comics, happiness is tentative, hard-won and often nothing more than a random gesture from a stranger. As with many in real life, the characters in Sin City find their joy to be fleeting and the rest of life is just about pacing the cage. Yeah, there are caricatures and bad-asses, but they are true to the form and not simple guns ablazin' white hats. Sweet complicated twisted webs are woven in the inner thoughts of the main characters and you are privy to them all.
The good guys aren't nice guys. Sometimes they're just the least maniacal of the maniacs. The bad guys aren't always criminals, but senators and cardinals and people in positions of power gone terribly corrupt. Because in the real world criminals can cause a little trouble, but we all know corrupt individuals in places of power do the real harm with their puppet-master mindsets. Take that game to the extreme and you have the basis of Sin City.
And the women! The woman are all that is right and wrong with graphic novels and comics. They are sympathetic and brutal and often both on a whim. They are on pedestals as angels, or wallowing in recesses with the darkest of devils. They are goddesses and Valkyrie; easy to get for a dollar, or unattainable for any dime. They are worth killing for, dying for, going to hell for...and sometimes that's just the prostitutes. They are the best and worst of the female animal as seen through the eyes of men. Sure it upsets a few feminist feathers in my soul to watch the damsel in distress card get pushed even further at times by this type of story-telling, but that's the way it goes. When a man tells the story, it's his eyes you see the world through. Doesn't make it right or wrong. It just makes it the story.
This film is brutal and bloody and unapologetic. It's also carnal and venereal. The sexuality isn't cheesed out of it like with Cool World and it isn't diluted to nothing for a PG-13 rating that will allow more under-aged asses into seats. It is the bar by which all others that follow it will be judged. And for those of us that have been waiting too damn long for someone to get it right, it is a welcome fucking relief.
And, for those of you who might have motivations far less complicated than mine, let me just say that Carla Gugino naked is worth the price of admission all by her scrumptious self.
Seraphs and saints with one great voice
Welcomed that soul that knew not fear;
Amazed to find it could rejoice,
Hell raised a hoarse half-human cheer.
~ From "A Ballad of Hell" by John Davidson
April 23, 2005
Football players, like prostitutes, are in the business of ruining their bodies for the pleasure of strangers. ~Merle Kessler
Well, we needed a RB. I'm not sure how to feel about Ronnie Brown. On one hand, he looks like a good catch -- low mileage on those legs, good instincts in college play, and impressive stats when he was able to play.
A hamstring injury already under his belt. In a league where injuries are getting worse and worse. On a team where injuries have murdered us season after season.
I'm not an idiot. I wasn't expecting a Marino or a Larry Csonka, and Brown seems like a possible break-out. But, you know, once burned, twice shy. What happens when you've been burned for ten seasons running?
April 21, 2005
The purpose of man's life...is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question. - Ayn Rand
What is it about zombie movies? Why do they have a higher creepiness factor on the baseline of my mind than any other incarnation of Hollywood horror?
Now before you start thinking I'm just some shriek queen girly girl, allow me to present my credentials.
I grew up in the heyday of hack and slash cinema; the years when Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers embodied the term "unholy trinity." I *still* remember being in my bed one night as a wee lass and hearing the theme music from Halloween for the very first time (emanating out of the Betamax in the living room). It gave me gooseflesh from toe to crown and I loved it.
It started out innocently enough with Creature Feature on Saturday afternoons. A Bride of Frankenstein here - an Invasion of the Body Snatchers there. But before long, I was on the hard stuff: The Omen, The Exorcist, The Fly. Then I graduated to the big leagues renting stuff like Suspiria from the back shelves of video rental stores (back when video stores had porn and gore in seedy back rooms and no one had ever heard of Blockbuster). I was still in pigtails when I got into a furious argument with some idiot clerk who didn't want to let me take out Faces of Death 2 without my parents present.
And it wasn't just all about the movies (or the, erm, predecessors to rotten.com). In my pre-teens I was a well-established horror genre veteran likely to be spotted reading King, Koontz, Higgins-Clark, Straub, and anthologies with titles like “Year’s Best Horror Stories: 19XX” (I did manage to grow out of all those authors except King). You have no idea how many times some random adult looked at the cover of the book I was reading and then glanced at me and shook their heads muttering something along the lines of, “you shouldn’t be reading that kind of thing -- you look like such a nice girl.” Heh. If only they knew. Of course I learned creative ways to hide those covers (which came in handy later when I discovered Nancy Friday books).
I couldn’t get enough. You have to remember -- horror films were interactive in the 80’s (RHPS experiences aside - that’s a whole other entry). There were screams and lurching in seats and funny comments shouted at the screen in a very "got to break the tension" way. No one minded. You were, in fact, expected to yell "don't go in there!" at least once per film. It was pre-MST3K, but community interaction was born into the experience. The formula was well-established. In fact, I distinctly remember going to see Candyman in the theater and thinking “not enough time after the scare for the start of that dialog.” Because if you were going to pull the gross card or try the “something’s gonna getcha -- oh, no, it's just the cat" routine you had to allow for the screams and laughter to die off before having meaningful conversations between characters. Kinda like the way you let the sniffles die down in E.T. type tug-at-yer-heartstrings movies by cuing the John Williams music before moving on to critical dialog.
All of this is just a long-winded way of explaining that I earned my "you'll have to do better than that" indifference to most horror venues a long time ago. A director/writer/monster make-up artist has to work to scare me or trigger my "ewww" reflex. You have to try something I haven’t seen before (or do something classic VERY well). Gore doesn't affect me in movies and the fake-out bathroom-curtain billowing trick was old when I was six. It's not always a good thing. Thrillers that terrify the hell out of other people merely interest me and I don't get that feel of a roller coaster scare-thrill like I did as a kid. The Ring? Loved it, but it didn't scare me. Sadly, most films have a maximum chance of barely tipping up to “slightly creepy” on my personal scare-o-meter. The vast majority don’t even skirt my edges.
But zombie movies and stories have always been different. Other than the original 1963 film, The Haunting, no movie has ever scared the piss out of me that wasn't a zombie movie. And the grand pappy of them all is still 1968’s Night of the Living Dead (aside - fuck the remakes of both Haunting and NOTLD, they suck). As far as books go, Pet Sematary remains the only King book that scared me to shivering. I actually stopped reading it halfway through and vowed not to read another word (a resolve that I obviously broke).
Now, yes, you can always argue in favor of the disturbing social statement made by Romero, adding real-life horror to the mix of movie-horror. But it’s more than that. There is something fundamentally disturbing about zombie stories. Even when they’re stupid-silly (and, let’s face it, the vast majority of them are) they have a disquieting scene or two that just triggers my creep meter. Hell, just playing Resident Evil freaked me out to the point where I had to pause and walk away more than once.
Why? Do they set off some deeply buried human taboo reflex against cannibalism? Is it the violation factor? They aren’t merely going to kill you, they’re going to infect you and thus make you drink from the ultimate bowl of Kool-Aid. Brainwashing is for pussies as far as these monsters are concerned. Is it because we all fear losing the few ticks of intellect we are allotted? Eternal life with eternal knowledge equals sexy vampire juju, but undead sacks of flesh behaving like rabid animals is just jeepy creepy. Maybe there is some human instinct to by appalled by such a display of reverse evolution. Some ancient kick in the head that forces us to live in fear of losing that which keeps us reared up on two legs and able to conjugate verbs.
Maybe I'm just over-thinking an irrational fear, or maybe it’s a combination of all these things.
Whatever the reason, in 2002 28 Days Later re-introduced me to the horror fetish of my childhood by chilling me to the bone; it rekindled (just a spark or two) the love of all that was gnarly and horrible. All that tragic horror cheese that I’d placed on the back burner of my entertainment fare. I couldn’t resist it. These were not Romero’s “limping along doing the zombie shuffle” critters. Garland/Boyle’s highly infectious zombies could hunt you, run you down, and end you before you even knew what was happening. 28 Days Later maxed out my creepy meter and pushed me to that “maybe I'll sleep with the light on tonight” high. And, as with Romero, the film cultivated the real horrors of the dark side of humanity within the film horror to yield just that perfect resonating pang of "even if the monsters go away we're still fucked."
I was sorta hoping for another 28 Days Later when I watched 2004’s remake of Day of the Dead. Watching the film inspired this entry because even though it managed to trigger my zombie creepy reflex, it just isn’t anywhere near as powerful. Compared to the original spin on the genre of 28, it isn’t even a blip on the radar.
Which reminds me: who is Ving Rhames’ agent and WHY does said agent still have a job? This movie is so beneath Ving I spent most of the movie assuming it had to be a look-alike. Sorry, I digress...
But even as I sat watching this cheesed up action/horror monstrosity (barely interested and completely aware of the formulaic plot development), I could feel myself getting the chills. I instinctively turned on a light or two more than I normally have on in the house. I ridiculously double-checked to make sure I’d locked the front door when returning from the little girl's room (because zombies would bother with testing the knob rather than just kicking the damn thing in, right?). I found myself in that state of hyper-awareness that only fear triggers. That moment in all the horror books when the person about to die says to themselves “this is ridiculous, why am I frightened when X can’t be happening.”
It’s a dumb movie. Lackluster horror at best. And still, it got under my skin.
April 13, 2005
You Say It's Your Birthday? It's My Birthday, Too
A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age. ~ Robert Frost
The soothsayers opine on my big day:
April 13, 2005
Don't let a momentary distraction pull your attention away from what's really important to you. Not that you can't give anyone or anything new a quick glance -- you wouldn't be you if you didn't. Just keep your eye on the ball.
April 13, 2005
Take some time to do whatever is necessary to make yourself and others comfortable with the coming changes. Others may mean well today, but sometimes they promise more than they are able to deliver. Do not expect everyone to follow through on their promises. Stop searching for what you think you don't have, Aries.
ARIES - 04/13/05
This is another fine day for affectionate ties to grow stronger. Your high energy must be directed into productive goals, or frustrations will occur. Your hypnotic eyes will capture the hearts of those who interest you.
Your Birthday Horoscope for 04/13
If you are born on April 13th, then you know that you are a motivator, one able to get things moving, and you are often credited as doing so with grace and charm. The ruling planet for this birthday is Uranus which adds a dash of eccentricity to your generally tenacious demeanor. You continually unearth new approaches to that which most others pursue in traditional ways. As a mate you are well-balanced, if hesitant to show vulnerabilities. You give and receive about the same, although your habit to only see the good in those you love can be an exploitive loophole in your customarily well-secured defenses. Your mate must be a person possessed of patience and the desire to see through your hard and highly polished outer shell; they must connect with what is special about you. While they will find it easy to take shelter in your acceptance and forgiveness, they must also be disciplined enough to not take advantage of your generous nature.
Be on the watch today and remind yourself that confusion can only take place if you're too stubborn or embarrassed to ask for clarification.
Wednesday, 13th April 2005
Everything, these days, comes with a health warning. Even chocolate bars have to alert us to the slight risk of 'contamination' from nuts. Weirdly, though, there are no signs or signals reminding us that it can be hazardous to cross the road. Nor do tax demands come with letters advising us that financial anxiety can be stressful and may be bad for us. The big issue in your life now contains a real hidden danger. But be aware... and you'll be fine.
Disneyland in Legos
Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. ~ Walt Disney
This will only be cool to a small subset of people. I am one of them.
Legos. Disney. Huzzah.
April 12, 2005
Tell your friend a lie. If he keeps it secret, then tell him the truth. ~ Portuguese Proverb
I'm not sure whether Post Secret is ultimately fascinating or disturbing, but it is often both for me. It reminds me somewhat of MTV's late "Love Line" where you had the impression 80% of the questions weren't legitimate, but were being asked to give the person what they thought of as their five minutes of fame.
But it's the other 20% that gets me. When you see confessions like:
"I liked myself better as a boy."
"I started shooting heroin again."
"Everyone who knew me before 9/11 thinks I'm dead."
"I haven't told my father that I have the same disease that killed my mother."
"For years I hurt myself so that he'd notice me."
And you think: "...if just one of those is true...."
Police say that the urge to confess has helped solve more cases than fingerprint identification.
So, I'm not sure. Is it more cynical to believe the majority of these are true, or to think of them as bogus, even when the potential "fame seekers" have little to gain attention-wise?
April 09, 2005
Shameless Plug for Works in Progress
The artist is the creator of beautiful things. ~ Oscar Wilde
Ever since Jack started his Jack Henslee Member's Only Gallery, I have been loving his "On the Drawing Board" section where he allows you to see the preliminary studies of his works as well as the stages of pieces that are currently in progress. The first thing you discover in this section (which is only a small part of his comprehensive site) is that he does a hell of a lot more preliminaries than he does final pieces and it's fascinating to catch a glimpse into the mindset of which pieces get priority. Second, watching the pieces develop over time and go from pencil sketch to layers of color and shading to final work of art is just nothing short of amazing.
Yes, it is a pay site (unlike Jack's two free galleries), but the prices are low (mostly because the membership fee is basically just a way of paying the bandwidth on the high-resolution images that cost a fortune to display for free). Membership prices are well below typical adult membership sites; only $15 for a one-month look around, or $35 for a six-month membership with updates.
Yeah, Jack's a beloved associate of mine so I'm biased, but I believe you give playmates kudos when they are well-earned.
On a more annoying note, in light of yet-another on-line billing processor being pressured by Visa to stop allowing vendors of adult materials to sell their wares, Jack's prints are back to only being available via personal check and money order. Gift memberships to JHMO are thus turning into my preferred way to send boons of Jack's artwork to fellow admirers.
If you like Jack's painted ladies as I do, there is no other place to see this behind-the-scenes yumminess.
Fortune makes him fool, whom she makes her darling. ~ Francis Bacon
A friend forwarded me a bio of Brian Darling from a couple years ago. For those of you not yet familiar with the name, this is the lawyer/staffer who is taking the fall over the Schiavo memo. The one that all the neo-con pundits claimed was another forged liberal document to make the right look opportunisitc. Which was fine until Mel Martinez had to cop to it and give Darling the heave-ho.
Darling has been a busy little bee it turns out, doing far more than memo writing. The idea the right is trying to spin that he is just some over-zealous intern is yet another in-your-face lie that politicians today don't seem to have any problem telling. Can we please go back to the days when the lies politicians told had to at least be plausable to anyone with the most minimal research capabilities?
Darling was a partner in the Alexander Strategy Group, according to stories which pre-date this the memo thing (do a Google). To make it even more fun, The Alexander Strategy Group was founded by -- wait for it -- Tom DeLay's former chief of staff and employs (or employeed) Christine DeLay, Tom's wife. Although it's not perfectly clear who she worked directly for, she was being *paid* by the ASG.
And while you're running a Google on these topics, throw in the word "Enron" and possibly the word "lobbying" as well. Enron was ASG's biggest client.
(I love the way neo-cons keep saying that Tom DeLay is being tried on nothing more than than guilt by association. Wasn't their basis for exploring the Clintons that too much shady association needs exploring? You don't hear a lot of that "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion" lip service so much from their camp these days.)
ASG's website doesn't list Darling as a current partner, but he was listed in February 2004. Kinda makes you wonder if he'll head back there now that he's written the memo of shame.
Props to Molehill
Odds and Ends of Interest
If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good. ~ Dr. Seuss
There are some nifty sites I've been slowly compiling over time thinking "oh, I've got to blog about those" and, well, it occurs to me that most of them are groovy, but don't necessarily need their own individual entries. They do, however, need their own category. So that is what Groovy will represent. Interesting stuff that is worth a look, but that doesn't necessarily generate a great deal of comment otherwise.
First, the obligatory Google Maps. I'm not sure if this is a Volcano in Nicaragua or what, but if it is a volcano, there appears to be a lake inside it and I think that rocks.
But, if we're going to talk rocks, here is The Balanced Rock Art of Bill Dan. You remember building houses out of cards? Yeah, well this guy pretty much buries balancing uniformly sized objects.
And speaking of balancing -- want to know what happens when you give seniors at Texas Tech University way too many pennies? Visit fincher's Pictures of Pennies and find out.
Now, this next might be hard to swallow at first, but a friend of mine who scouts the network54 message boards dug up a forum topic about the Color Photos of World War I. More of the story of these incredible photos can be read here.
Now, for a bit of wicked inappropriate fun, you should visit Sexual Moments in Video Game History. Surely the programmers didn't intend...or did they?
And, finally, for a twisted way to look at song lyrics, you need to visit quantz's livejournal entry on song lyrics in outline form. The outline of America's "Horse With No Name" kills me.
April 08, 2005
John Doe Volcano
BOUNDARY, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other. ~ Ambrose Bierce
So, okay, I'm officially obsessed with Google Map's satellite pictures for the next few days. No need to send a search party, I'll come out when the novelty wears off. What I'm most enjoying is testing the limits of my geography memory and trying to find things outside the US where you can only zoom in about halfway.
I found this volcano somewhere in Mexico. No fucking clue which one it is. Any ideas are welcome. Am I alone in wanting full zoom power for the whole world like right now? I want to see:
* The Pyramids and Sphinx
* The Colosseum
* The Taj Mahal
* Angkor Wat
* The Moai Statues
And in the most obnoxious Veruca Salt impersonation I can muster: Don't care HOW I want it NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW.
Also, I found Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant in Miami. I used to head out boating from the boat ramp here. It's crazy that you can see the two massive chimneys and the cooling water canals where all the crocodiles live. And how amazing is it that you can see the trenched channel so clearly that cuts out into the ocean through the shallow water?
Oh, and just in case you think I've completely lost it, just remember, I'm completely sane compared to this guy. He's finding things in corn fields for Pete's sake.
April 07, 2005
Pope on a Rope
Stupidity is also a gift of God... ~ Pope John Paul II
I have to admit that even though some of the people I love are Catholics, I have no respect for the institution. I, like Bill Maher, find the choice to adhere to an out-of-date and hypocritical religion to be a form of mild mental illness.
How you can read and study the Bible and come up with the doctrine of the Catholic church bewilders and stuns me. How you can be in a mindset that is hundreds of years behind the evolution of mankind and still have a large chunk of the world population by the seat of their collective guilt -- well, that's just emotional blackmail, not spiritualism.
So when all the blather began about the legacy of Pope John Paul II, I started to cringe. And I just kept on cringing. Then, today, I went to catch up on Andrew Sullivan and I remembered why I started reading him in the first place. Andrew may frustrate the hell out of me from time to time, but he says a lot of things that mainstream pundits are afraid to say. His critical analysis of the real legacy of this pope needs to be shouted among the wailing.
This will not stop him from being canonized and it certainly does not make him 100% a monster, but it may be that a little perspective could be one more step in realizing that just because we want someone to be a hero, that doesn't make them one.
Key facts Andrew reminds us of:
"Under John Paul II (and his predecessors), the Roman Catholic church presided over the rape and molestation of thousands of children and teenagers. Under John Paul II, the church at first did all it could to protect its own and to impugn and threaten the victims of this abuse. Rome never acknowledged, let alone take responsibility for, the scale of the moral betrayal...Here was a man who lectured American married couples that they could not take the pill, who told committed gay couples that they were part of an "ideology of evil," but acquiesced and covered up the rape of minors."
"Since 1975, the number of priestly ordinations in the U.S. declined from 771 a year to 533 last year. (In 2000, the number hit a low of 442.) When you adjust for population growth, in 1975, 771 newly ordained priests faced a Catholic population of 49 million; today, 533 emerge for a total of 64 million Catholics. Essentially, per Catholic, we saw a 50 percent drop in vocations under this Pope...The number of parishes without priests went from 23 percent of all parishes in 1975 to 25 percent in 2000. In the U.S., weekly church attendance has slowly but inexorably declined to well below 50 percent of all Catholics. The decline in religious orders has been particularly steep: down by over 30 percent. And all this understates the crisis facing the American church, because almost half the current priesthood is over 60 - and their replacements are in shorter and shorter supply."
The Worst TV The PTC Has Ever Seen
Censorship, like charity, should begin at home, but unlike charity, it should end there. ~ Clare Boothe Luce
The Parents' Television Council has strummed together a bunch of clips they deem as the worst television moments from 2001-2004. They've removed all context and included a long-winded "we're warning you, no, we're REALLY warning you, and just to be sure, we're warning you again," introduction. Maybe it's just me, but if these clips are the worst TV has to offer, I'm failing to see what all the fuss is about.
However, I do plan to play the clip ten or twenty times a day off the site to run up their bandwidth. Maybe it'll be one less dime they can spend on their other plans.
Most of this is off-color humor (South Park), pushing-the-envelope sex (Nip/Tuck) and violence (The Shield), or just bad reality TV and award show antics. Oddly, no news clips of subject matter concerning things like the torture scandal of Abu Ghraib were included. Apparently, sex and violence and off-color humor isn't offensive if it's real.
According to the PTC, children could watch this stuff and grow up to have sex, engage in violence, and/or develop a taste for bad reality TV. Their goal is that this must be stopped at all costs. And, while discouraging future bad reality TV junkies is admirable, think of what this kind of energy could accomplish if it invested itself in something like, say, education programs that teach kids conflict resolution, or alternative after-school children's physical activity programs so that kids aren't camped out in front of televisions for hours on end.
No. Because of course, that doesn't stop the adults that want to watch this stuff. And that's what really cheeses these people off. It's not that kids could see this stuff -- kids see this stuff and worse on network news. Kids squish insects to see what guts look like. Kids in inner-cities and places of crisis see visions on their own street corners that make this stuff look like a Disney movie. The PTC uses "we must protect the children" as their mantra, but what they really want to do is limit the freedom of other adults to engage in watching sex, violence, and bad reality TV.
When I was a kid the screams of woe (and, sadly, the insanity came equally from Democrats and Republicans alike, along with their annoying spouses) largely centered on Prince music or the concern that we were all going to grow up and kill people because Bugs and Daffy and Tom and Jerry made violence funny.
Inexplicably, the vast majority of us grew up without sporking the lunch lady or masturbating to magazines in hotel lobbies (Hilton children aside).
I don't think anyone believes that children should be watching most of these clips. But as any parent will tell you the age at which a child is a child varies with the individual. I was reading Stephen King at 9 and drinking in horror movies during the height of the hack and slash era long before any of my peers. As for sex? Well, yeah, I got a jump start on that, too. And while my current manner of employment might be controversial, I never plotted to blow up a state building, or have orgies with the high school football team. I did, however, grow up to have a very successful corporate consulting career before altering my lifestyle and settling into the only lucrative work-at-home industry that truly exists. I pay my taxes and vote in elections. And you know what? All my friends do, too.
And the only people in my life that I have lost to drugs, violence, and/or mental instability? They were all raised in religion-focused family units where shame was emphasized as a staple of daily life. So, you'll forgive me if TV profanity takes a backseat in my book to the dangers of irresponsible parenting or the social pressures of hardline religion.
Obviously most kids shouldn't come into contact with hardcore pornography or ultra-violence scenes. But some children will and when they do, the answer isn't banning it across the board, but being a rational adult putting the sex and/or violence into proper perspective and minimizing whatever small traumas might have taken root. That it may be difficult and/or slightly embarrassing comes with that whole parental gig. Where did these people start thinking it was all little league, spelling bees, and Disney trips? Apart from letting your kid be a kid, you're also preparing them to enter the real world where sex and violence happen every day and have since caveman Oog and cave woman Goo first realized it felt good to rub their naughty bits together.
All of this, of course, is in addition to the notion that it is the parents' actual responsibility to monitor what their child watches, regardless of whether or not they think the task is monumental. The television networks are not babysitters and if they are, there is a larger problem at work than what's on TV.
Oh -- and that argument about not knowing what your kids are watching at their friends' houses? That's another one of those things you're supposed to do as a parent -- check out the places where your kids spend time.
With all the childproofing tools available today from cable boxes and v-chips and other such nonsense, is there any doubt that fundamentalist Right organizations like this one are only sending millions of complaints to the FCC as a means to do nothing more than impose their morality on the rest of us regardless of whether or not the children are protected?
America needs to wake up and curb the FCC's power now while we still can and we need to send a message to organizations like the PTC that if they really want to protect children, then they need to go do that. There are a million different ways to improve the lives and minds of today's youth without infringing upon the rights of adults.
By giving a government agency the right to censor and impose morality via fines at the behest of organizations such as this, we're surrendering the right to our own judgment little by little.
April 06, 2005
It’s a Small World After All
If you can dream it, then you can do it. ~ Disney Imagineers (via EPCOT’s now defunct Horizons)
When I was just a little girl (I asked my mother, what would I be...) I led a very privileged life, and it was not at all unusual to go to Walt Disney World ten times a year. And that’s a very conservative estimate.
I am not the Disneyphile I was in my teens or in the years that followed. Once, on a dare, friends blindfolded me in the passenger’s seat of a car and challenged me to navigate Disney property. I won.
These days, well, I want to stand outside and throw hissy fits when I see Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride morphed into Pooh’s Great Adventure…or whatever the fuck it is. And what they’ve done to the Enchanted Tiki Room? Well that’s just goddamn blasphemy.
So I don’t go and when I do, I irritate people by calling the Buzz Lightyear ride “If You Had Wings.”
I’m sentimental in a ridiculously insane way about the park I knew as a kid. Before it became its own country. Like Rod Serling’s obsession with the carousel he rode as a boy, I just want to go back for a little while and pet the horse Fred that conveyed me down Main Street a hundred times.
I thought I’d shunned WDW like the childhood playmate that stole my Donny Osmond doll and pretended it was hers (purple socks and all, the little cunt).
But, come on. How cool is this:
Other Cool Google Maps:
April 05, 2005
There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide. ~ Samuel Adams
I love "World of Knives."
April 04, 2005
Monday Morning Deadwood
I'm going to just start posting my favorite Deadwood quotes on Mondays. It's my blog, I can laud if I want to.
From the lips of Al Swearengen:
“You got gall – coming before me prettier’n ever.”
“Bedridden I know more’n you.”
Contender for Jane’s best insult:
“You frog-faced fuck.”