Friday, October 31, 2008


I'm mildly disappointed to discover I did not invent this word, even though its about as sad an example of internet nonsense as could possibly exist.

I'm more disappointed that "Choose Your Own Blogventure" was already taken as well. Though, honestly, if there's a phrase out there that hasn't had "blog" dropped into at some point, I haven't heard it. If someone remotely famous said it, someone has reworked it in order to spout their deepest, most brilliant feelings about the deep, soul-searching life of being an ad rep for Milwaukee's third-largest local bank. It's numbing. As FDR once said, the only thing we have to fear are blogs themselves.

Speaking of which, pundits often comment on how "the number of blogs to humans is approaching 1-to-1." This is always followed by "the Apocalypse is near." (side note: Ablogalypse?) This is idiotic reporting and means almost nothing. Their methods of counting are so suspect that it's remarkable no one calls them on this.

For example, I write and maintain this blog. So that's my one contribution to this statistic right? Wrong. Since editing the templates on these blogs can be tricky, I also have a blog that I started at the same time that I use to test out any HTML changes I make. There was also a brief period I was trying to separate out my music and movie reviews into separate blogs, and both of those blogs are still alive. So that's four blogs on Blogger right now, just for me. And I'm not the only one with this system.

For a while, I was copying these posts over and reposting them on Xanga. No longer, yet my Xanga account still exists, even though essentially no one uses that website anymore. I have forty or fifty friends with long-unused accounts left on Xanga's derelict servers. How many Wordpress users have unused Blogger accounts, or vice versa? How many keep switching back and forth?

Plus I have a MySpace account, which has a "notes" function, and a lot of people or bands use this as their blogging space, so that counts as a blog as well. I also have a Facebook, which automatically imports my notes from Blogger. But even if it didn't, it still has that "notes" function. So that one counts as well.

I'm up to seven blogs without breaking a sweat, and I've still got half a dozen different websites I use that have blog functions as part of what they do, and so can be counted as "blogs" by any media member who want to make their story sound more impressive.

Speaking of "making a story sound more impressive," I would really like it if newscasters stopped saying things like "...with some polls having him as far as twelve points down" or "...with some polls having him as close as only four points behind" when covering an election. That's bad reporting and everyone know it. If there are 12 polls in the field, and the four most reliable have him between 7 and 9 points down, then use those numbers. Or, even if you want to use all polls, even the one done by the Omaha Herald, then please - please - use mean or the median number. If the polls have a candidate down by 4, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10, and 12 points down, the important numbers in that sequence are not the 4 and the 12. Stop relying on the outliers. I'm sick of bad polling being the most newsworthy piece of information to news directors.

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The Blogventure Remains...

I said I'd finish the Blogventure with a Halloween Blogventure Blowout, a veritable Blog-a-Palooza, but that'll have to wait until tomorrow. If I haven't covered your posting request yet, never fear. You are not forgotten. You just happen to be at very tail end of my to-do list, which should probably tell you something.

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Dave Barry VS. Bill Bryson VS. James Thurber

This one I'm just not doing. I know, I'm supposed to do all recommended blog posts, but I can't compare these three authors, there's just not a good post here. They're three of my favorite authors, they're all funny in different ways, and there's no really amusing way to compare them.

Instead, I'll make a recommendation: if you have never read anything by one or all of these authors, don't go another week without reading one of these:

In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber
Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys by Dave Barry

You won't regret it.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why No One Should Read "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" in High School

Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility. - James Thurber

James Thurber is one of my all-time favorite authors, a world-class humorist, one of the few examples - and certainly one of the first - of a humor writer who could be known almost entirely for his short stories. Almost entirely blind from a childhood game of "William Tell" gone wrong (an example my siblings and I could certainly have heeded better), he nonetheless became a famed cartoonist for the New Yorker, sketching his works on giant sheets of paper until he was left with drawings of stunning freshness in a style that Dorothy Parker referred to as having "the semblance of unbaked cookies." He was an absolutely original talent, the greatest American humorist since Mark Twain.

When I was younger, my dad would read me selections from some of Thurber's best works, My Life and Hard Times or Thurber Carnival, pieces most people only discover in their mid-twenties but seem to be written just for children. Hard Times, in particular, is one of those works that jumps beyond Thurber's reputation as a "funnyman for intellectuals" into the realm of perhaps one of the best pieces of American humor writing of all time. To this day, My Life and Hard Times is my go-to present for people whose tastes I respect (or those whose tastes I am trying to improve). His style feels remarkably fresh today, perhaps because we have grown into his style of self-deprecation and wry sensibility - as Thurber himself noted, "The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself. "

I bring this up because while anyone who stumbles their way through high school is offhandedly introduced to Thurber through "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which is a grave mistake. Not because "Walter Mitty" is anything less than a brilliantly evocative short story,but because high school English classes are no place for getting introduced to anything. It's completely the wrong atmosphere.

See, English classes are supposed to introduce you to new and exciting pieces of writing that you would never have read before. What they actually do is help you make the worst possible first impression of every writer in the history of the English language. English teachers think that they can assign humor writing and their ninth graders will find it funny, which they don't, because they're reading it to figure out the answers to the questions at the end of the chapters. Then they're scouring the story and looking for "themes," and reading the tiny bio of Thurber at the beginning looking for hints on how they're supposed to have responded to the work. Finally, they return to class, feeling that the whole exercise was entirely pointless since they don't feel particularly impressed with the story at all ("It was supposed to be about mankind's isolationism, but I just thought the guy was kind of a loser"). At this point, the teacher, who didn't really see the point in reading the story anyway ("it's all kind of silly. Let's hurry through and get to Pearl Buck."), gushes insincerely about Thurber's capturing of mood and the human condition for half a class period, and then moves on. And everyone is left with this vague recollection of this bumbling guy and how he was never paying attention to anything, which just gets filed away in the same distant mental shelf you keep the time you watched Dudley Do-Right on an airplane with no headphones.

Instead, paperback copies of My Life and Hard Times, along with a collection of Thurber's cartoons, should be handed out in senior English, in one of those random breaks between sections where there's not enough time to start something new before the end of the quarter. The teacher reads "The Night The Bed Fell" aloud to the class, then the students read the book over a weekend and try their hand at drawing a Thurber-esque cartoon. A small writing assignment will be assigned, having each student write a story of something that happened to them in a Thurber-ish fashion, and the stories will be read aloud. Whoever gets the biggest laugh gets bonus points.

And that's the sort of introduction Thurber deserves.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Muppet Movie Update

Information is slow in coming on the new Muppet movie, which probably means almost nothing is done on it yet. Jason Segel and Nick Stoller have given basic details: it'll be like a Muppet movie of old: "hilarious, fantastic, heart-wrenching, beautiful, nostalgic and remarkable." I'd settle for fun and not particularly disappointing. Anyway, the plot is as classic as it comes: an evil newcomer wants to tear down the Muppet Theater in order to drill for oil underneath, so they have to put on a show to save it. Sounds great.

By the way, odds Seth Rogen ends up in this movie: 2-to-1

By the way, I don't know if this is true or not, but here it is. If it's true, it's crazy.

Can you say GIGANTIC!

You really need to know who Chris O'Donnell is to get this, but... oh, man, I don't think I've laughed so hard in months:

It's Chris!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The election is a week away, and the press has run out of ideas.

Has anyone else noticed that Sarah Palin has entered the Michael Jackson/Mike Tyson Zone, where any news report, no matter how out of left field, is now accepted by the public without a bat of an eye? I was thinking about this as I was watching the news coverage the $150K clothes story, because apparently neither I nor CNN had anything better to do. They could have said anything while filing that story - that an additional $20K was spent on an investigation to make sure that the clothes had not been manufactured in sweatshops, that the tailoring of the clothes was carefully monitored so as to make sure that it would emphasize Sarah Palin's chest, that the clothes were partially paid for in bear meat - and we would probably have believed it.

While I'm commenting on this story, can we all just agree that this is a nonsense story? The governor of a small state where stores are habitually restocked by shipments sent on small commercial planes is suddenly thrust into the limelight, and the RNC overspends in order to get her a wardrobe that doesn't say "L.L. Bean" anywhere on it. If you just change how the story is told, it instead becomes a Cinderella moment, but current public perception of Palin just won't allow it.

All news outlets are pumping a "can we trust the polls?" story endlessly, which is cable news code for "we know the race is over but we're still flogging this horse race story because it's all we've got." It is great fun to hear inapplicable poorly-sourced evidence about polls being read one way and then the election going the other, though, especially when it's told as unlikely anecdotes - "I remember a mayoral race in Utah that looked like it was all heading towards this one black candidate..."

Speaking of news coverage, I've finally figured out how the three major cable news outlets break down:
1. CNN is six inches left of center but thinks it's only one, maybe two inches left of center. Every time it thinks this, it moves another inch to the left.
2. Fox News thinks it is two feet to the right of center, and is very proud of this - the lone conservative voice in an increasingly biased world. This is why it hasn't noticed that it is actually four feet to the right of center.
3. MSNBC is three feet to the left of center but thinks it is actually exactly on the center. It also thinks Republicans are stupid and should be taken to task, or at least talked down to. It hasn't worked out yet that these two thoughts might be mutually exclusive.

I separate them out according to this: I turn on CNN if I want to know what's going on, I turn on Fox News if I want gleefully biased coverage, and I turn on MSNBC if I want to huck my remote at the television.

Speaking of gleefully biased reporting, Rolling Stone's latest issue features Barack Obama on the cover. Again. For the third time in six months. Here are the covers in case you missed them:

I remember when I first got Rolling Stone as a teenager how there was always one article per issue that was something wildly partisan and just generally outrageous - there'd be at two-page spread that would just be a picture of a clear-cut section of the Everglades, and a small inserted picture cropped out of some photo shoot of George Bush holding an axe. The title would be "Why Bush Hates Nature: How The GOP Is Working To Destroy The Air We Breathe." And the article would go on for 9 to 14 pages. I remember as a sixteen-year old reading the first of these articles and saying "it is embarrassingly ludicrous for a national magazine to be writing something like this." But the rest of each issue was always good, so I just learned to skip the article each week and just move on.

I re-subscribed to RS about a year ago and have been disappointed ever since. One article has spread to two, and then to three. I don't mean that their heartfelt love of all things Democratic has spread to only three articles, naturally that covers the whole magazine. I mean those articles that are so insultingly inaccurate and accusatory that you only read the description under the title and then just skip over them. On the past three issues, I have made it from the table of contents to the album reviews without finding anything worth reading. I can now finish an issue in about ten minutes. I think I could get more deeply involved in an Us Weekly at this point.

This issue is particularly note-worthy as they savor the results of an almost certain election. Keep in mind I did not make these articles up:

Can The Republicans Steal The Election? The GOP is at it again, detering new voters and discarding Democratic ballots.

Death of a Red State: One rural Colorado voting district is poised to turn left. Is America outgrowing the politics of bigotry?

The main article is of course the Barack Obama interview, the description of which says "Obama's Moment: The Democratic nominee for president talks about how George W. Bush screwed up, why John McCain turned ugly and what he's learned from Bill Clinton." Very tame for them, of course, but the questions in the interview include such robust entries as:

"Were you disturbed by the disdain [John McCain] exhibited towards you during the first debate?"

"In the last two elections, the Republicans worked to supress the vote, especially in Democratic precincts. Reporting by Bobby Kennedy in "Rolling Stone" has raised questions about whether the Republicans stole the 2004 election in Ohio. Are you worried about those kinds of tactics this time around? And what are you doing in advance to keep that from happening?"

[After Obama answers with a 'you said it, not me, but yes we're doing a lot' reply] "But John Kerry said the same thing in 2004. Lawyers are mainly useful after the fact, when it's too late. Is there anything you can do before the fact to keep the vote from being tampered with?"

"Looking back over the past eight years, what's the thing that Bush screwed up the worst?"

Fortunately, they balanced their hard-hitting questions with more standard Presidential questions, like "What did you get Michelle for your anniversary," "what does your staff tease you about," and "if you could install in the White House just one play toy - bowling alley, water polo - what would it be?"

The best is naturally the photo selection, which features the highlights of any good Obama puff piece: a two page spread of a black-and-white photo of Obama gazing out a plane window with a newspaper on his lap, a wide shot of him walking away from a podium with thousands behind him cheering, another black and white picture, this time a shot of him energetically teaching class at the University of Chicago, and him and Biden laughing and slapping each other on the back as they order ice cream in Pennsylvania. Loads of fun.

Reading the article, I was struck by two things - one, that it's a lot easy to take shots at your opponent when the interviewer does all the heavy lifting for you. Whenever the interviewer would say something insulting about McCain/Bush/Hillary/whoever, Obama would give a 'let's all try to be very human and understanding but yes, yes, you're right, that person is absolutely terrible" answer. He comes off looking gallant every time. And two, the greatest failing the Republicans have had this election was to underestimate Obama as a politician. No matter what he did, no matter whether he was right or wrong, he always managed to play his cards correctly on every hand. He transformed an election that was shaping up to be about experience versus change, and made it about change versus lack of experience. The number one worry voters have with John McCain is the inexperience of his vice presidential candidate. Can we just all pause and consider what a master stroke that was? I have no idea how he did it (though, did anyone else notice he's stopped dying his hair?). Even if the press did it for him, he still managed to work everything so that it never bounced back on him. None of the last three debates dealt with Obama's lack of experience. It became a dead issue. That's remarkable.

There's a small box in the new Rolling Stone discussing how the Republicans will likely be losing more seats in the House and Senate again this year, the second election running. You have to ask yourself, how is it possible that Congress could swing left, tally up the worst poll numbers in history, and swing left again? How bad is the Republican political machine these days that they can't make political hay out of the fact that the Congressional poll numbers were within the margin of error?

Something to think about. In any case, tomorrow afternoon I'm doing early voting. There's always hope.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Grover Vs. Jasper: The Showdown

My brother wants me to compare my cat to his, I think hoping that it will end up being a matchup of the titans. But instead this is closer to the Dream Team vs. Redeem Team argument that bloggers keep bringing up, where people keep ignoring that one of these teams almost lost to a team that started a 17-year old point guard in a game where Marc Gasol (!) was the best big man on the floor, whereas the other team featured Bird, Magic, and Jordan right around their primes. In short, it's not a real argument worth having. Neither is this one (not that comparing cats would ever really be an argument worth having). Still...

Let's do it.

Category One: Name Selection
Jasper's full name is Jasper McBook. His first name taken from a cat character in Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing With Dragons series, one of my all-time favorites, his last is from the fact that a series of expensive surgeries the cat suddenly required (one neutering plus four following surgeries to fix the problems that happened) eliminated all of my laptop budget. Grover's full name is Grover Cleveland, our 22nd and 24th president.
Advantage: Grover. Nobody names cats after lesser known presidents with impressive mustaches anymore.

Category Two: Vitality
Jasper spends his days trying to claw my legs apart and his nights running wildly around chasing plastic bags across the floor. Grover is now in his golden years and so spends his days like this:

Advantage: Jasper by a landslide. Though my legs could use a break.

Category Three: Wiliness.
Jasper sometimes tries to sneak up on me. From the front. While I'm looking at him. And then he seems really amazed when I manage to grab him and toss him away. And he tries sneaking up on me in the exact same manner. Grover, meanwhile, once managed to trap one of my brothers under a Christmas tree and claw at his face for a solid six or seven seconds. Admittedly, it was JA who he trapped.
Advantage: Grover by a landslide.

Category Four: Fighting prowess.
As we've determined, Grover is wily. Still, fighting is all Jasper does. It's how he spends his days. It's how he greets new people. It's how he shows affection. It's... actually.... all he ever does. Here's a standard picture of Jasper:

My camera has no zoom, so that picture is actually taken about seven inches from Jasper's face. He didn't notice.
Advantage: Jasper.

Category Five: Personality.
Grover has a clear personality - he's ornery and should never, ever be antagonized, which is why it's great to see JA interact with him, since antagonizing is the ideal way he interacts with anyone. Jasper, meanwhile, is nothing but personality. He's so eager to play that if I haven't gotten up in time, he starts meowing and headbutting the door until I get up. When I do get up, he wraps himself around my legs and gnaws as I brush my teeth and gather my keys until I leave for work. He's nothing but personality.

Maybe too much personality.
Advantage: Jasper.

So, as you see, a clear victory for Jasper. Just as I predicted.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I like it.

Being an uncle is a nice thing to brag about, especially when your niece is this cute.

I am cautiously very hopeful that he cuteness holds up all the way through her teenage years, since my brother and I were both similarly cute when we were younger, until things took a turn for the worst at about 13. I'm hoping she avoids that.

Seriously, look at that. Look how adorable she is.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sorry, Oliver, but...

Movie reviewers acting in congress alert:
When Oliver Stone releases a biopic on George W. Bush at the height of his unpopularity, with the extreme-left leanings that the vast majority of movie reviewers naturally have, and that movie still doesn't get good reviews, then you can know that the movie is no damn good.

If you skim Rotten Tomatoes review collection, it's full of comments like "George Bush has many flaws, so it's appropriate that W. would, too" and "Yes, it's a mess, but it's a fascinating mess." Comments that scream "I really wanted to like this movie but, gah! Yuck! I just couldn't." And those were from the reviews that RT marked as "positive." Stay away.

Also, reviewer code:
If they refer to you as an "ambitious director" while reviewing a movie, that's code for "a director with indie cred who we love." If the movie's good, all the praise will go to the director, but if the movie's bad if and they absolutely hate it, they will still go lightly on the director. Usually they come down hard on the leading man instead. Making a bad movie with an up-and-coming director can be complete death for a young actor, everyone will blame you.

However, if they refer to your movie as "ambitious," that means that it was spotty and all-over-the-place, and sometimes completely terrible, but they don't want to come down on the movie for whatever reason. Maybe it's an independent film, and they want more people to go to independent films, so the worst insult that they'll give is "ambitious." Maybe they generally really like the director and don't want to come down on him for a movie, even though the plot was completely incomprehensible. Or maybe it's a negative movie about Bush that's a complete shambles. All that to say, a number of reviewers dropped "ambitious" into their reviews.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Palin Fatigue

I'm sorry, I've just got to say it... I'm exhausted by all this Sarah Palin coverage. I just don't want to see anything else about her. I'm done.

She's become a national obsession, and everything new that comes out is just more nonsense. Endless articles about Sarah Palin's moustache. Her latest minor gaffe while speaking. Bristol's ultrasound results. Pundits explaining the odds of McCain dying and her taking office. Various celebrities explaining in interviews how much they hate her. The constant anti-Palin blogging. Conservatives racing each other to jump off the bandwagon first. The Palin-themed porno that's about to be released (really! It's gone this far!). It's gotten unbelievable.

I can deal with the nonsense that might have some connection to whether I want to vote for a candidate or not (Jeremiah Wright), or the things that probably don't but could be considered telling anyway (John McCain's house count). That's all fair game. Let's sort the Bill Ayers from the overhead projectors from the "let's bomb bomb bomb Irans" from whatever else we've got lying around. I can deal with that.

But why did the election have to become a feeding frenzy over Palin? AVI would probably say that it's a tribal difference - the Arts and Humanities crowd recognizing one of what Christian Lander at Stuff White People Like would call "the wrong sort of white person." She hunts and participated in beauty pageants and likes being a mom and has questions about evolution and has probably ironically said "neat-o" several times in her life. She is the sort of person that the A&H tribe pretends not to despise. Unsuccessfully. Or rather, the sort of person that the A&H tribe pretends to hate individually rather than hating everyone similar to her. Unsuccessfully.

The selection of Palin was obviously going to be a controversial one anyway, but not for the reasons it ended up being. The question was supposed to be having a candidate so inexperienced after McCain attacked Obama so consistently about not being ready to be President. Instead, the debate became how McCain could select someone like her to be Vice President.

But naturally, the experience difference between Obama and Palin is embarrassingly small. And people's strong reaction to Palin's nomination should have, but did not, spark a great debate. Why is Obama so strongly considered an acceptable nomination for President but Palin is so strongly not considered one? What qualities does Obama have that Palin lacks? What qualities are we looking for that we're so certain one has and the other does not?

I wish the press debate had been about that. I wish we could have debated what it was about Palin that so divided America. But that was never the discussion. Instead, we talked endlessly about her difficulty with interviews and whether Tina Fey's impression of her would shape the campaign and the shape of her glasses.

And I'm just done with it.

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Aw, c'mon!

I miss one Sox game while working late and it has to be this one?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"The Terror"

I don't post much about work, since no one really cares about someone else's job, unless you're a government agent who trains rodents how to disarm robots in the event that they rise up against us. Still, I've been working on a 3-D horror spoof film here at the church for several months, and it plays tomorrow (God willing). I'll let everyone know how it went.

Here's the trailer:

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Latest Fortune

I didn't even eat Chinese food this time, someone just stopped by with a leftover cookie since they knew of my talent with fortunes. This one was a weird one, though:
"Alas! The onion you are eating is someone else's water lily."
I don't really know what that means, but I'm pretty sure it's a bad sign. Of course, it's usually a bad sign if your fortune starts out with "alas!"


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Favorite Blogs

I was asked to make a list of my favorite blogs, so that everyone can learn where my good taste comes from. I don't need to point you to the friends that I have already linked to on the side; though if you haven't checked them out, make sure to do so, particularly my dad's, Assistant Village Idiot, which continues to improve daily in quality and depth.

In all honesty, I don't troll that many blogs - I keep up with the ones that my friends update, and then I've got maybe a dozen or so more that I subscribe to, some of which never really update all that often.

Still, I'm awfully fond of the ones that I do frequent. Here are my top 5 blogs, in no particular order:

1000 Tiny Things I Hate - A comedy writer at the BBC1 decided to begin cataloguing, day by day, all the things that got on his nerves. It started with the way the man sitting in front of him was eating his carrots ("If Satan has a ringtone, this is it"), and continued on through Glastonbury, the 'hey everyone, I got that intellectual joke' laugh, tall grandmothers, shower radios, people who live next door to serial killers, goths who go to Disneyland then act all miserable, and the sentence "you should write a sitcom about this!"

Here's a link to #80, Photos of Girls With Their Friends. Oh, and just for fun, #95, 'Wogging.'

Stuff Christians Like - I'm a much bigger fan of the original, Stuff White People Like, but as soon as Christian Lander snagged that book deal, the site declined precipitously, and new material is rare these days. Still, of all the Stuff ____ Like sites out there: Stuff Educated Black People Like, Stuff Jewish People Like (check out "Remembering The Holocaust." Wow.), Stuff Nobody Likes, and Stuff God Hates - I'm fondest of SCL, probably because it hits closer to home for me. Jon Acuff's toned down his frantic overposting habit that was clogging the site - an audio-minded friend of mine noted "the signal-to-noise ratio's not so good" - and the site's finally fully hit its stride. Plus, Acuff seems to be an overall nice guy - he adores his readers and loves giving credit on items sent in. I emailed him with a small critique early on in the site's history, and he wrote me back immediately in cheery agreement with a "thanks for the help!" I've posted from the site a coupla times before, so I'll just link to one of my new favorites, #394, Dressing up for Sunday lunch in college so it looks like you went to church (Yeah, I've totally been there), as well as his self-deprecating post after his SCL meet-and-greet failed completely.

Surviving Grady - As a Sox fan, I'm fortunate to a) have a team that's suddenly consistently competitive, and not just competitive enough to break my heart in September and b) support a team that has hordes of fans across the whole country. But it doesn't hurt to have a good Sox blog to help one through the tough times, like tonight's shellacking. Yeck. Between liveblogging important games, waxing nostalgic over Sox teams of old (even bad ones), inventing new Pedroia-themed drinking games, and proposing wacky sitcoms starring various Sox members, Surviving Grady chronicles daily the obsessive live of a pair of die-hard Sox fans. Read their post-mortem on the Manny years from the night we shipped Ramirez out west.

Pajiba - The tagline is "Scathing Reviews For Bitchy People," and it passionately strives to live up to its word. A collective of outrageously insulting and extremely well-educated film snobs who know exactly the debts modern-day horror directors owe to Jean-Luc Godard and hate them for not knowing it too, yet spend a good portion of their day trolling the web for any news item that demonizes Katherine Heigl. In a sentence, brilliant and maddening all at the same time. Urban dictionary defined the site as such:
A pretentious movie site that looks down upon places like Ain't It Cool even as they steal news from them. Reeks desperately of writers wishing they had the talent and/or the determination to write movies themselves, alternating with lazy douches content to make snarky, obvious jokes in the hopes of eventually getting paid by Gawker, the Onion AV Club, or Entertainment Weekly. Visitors consist primarily of liberal, Obama-loving, Weezer-glasses (or Lisa Loeb) using, sweater wearing, office dwelling, coffee drinking, iPod listening, twee expression using hipsters that are the downfall of society. You know, the type of people who type thing like "I heart Jim from the Office", "Christian Bale is teh sexy" and *reads about new Judd Apatow/Joss Whedon/Wes Anderson project* *squees* *hides in office giggling*.

Those people.
Pajiba's response to the post was "seems about right."

The site is the best place to find buzz on smaller, underground or web-based projects by some of your favorite actors or directors, plus purely random pop-culture tidbits. Check out the daily "Pajiba Love" for the choicest bits, though it's gotten Palin-bashing obsessed these days. So here's the review of this weekend's Quarantine, the first paragraph of which the reviewer uses it to explain how the film refutes Marshall McLuhan's most famous proclamation (he's wrong, but I do give him credit for trying).

Animal Review - The guy reviews animals. He looks at a platypus, gives it a score on a scale of one to ten and then explains his decision. That's all it is. I love it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's Time.

I have a rule that I only buy DVDs when they're $7 or cheaper - I can Netflix whatever I want, and all DVDs end up in the bargain bin at some point, so whatever it is, it's always worth waiting on.

I bought a $5 Titanic DVD a coupla weeks ago and watched it tonight. Can we finally agree that Titanic is no longer the most overrated movie of all time and may now be one of its most underrated?

It's no longer considered proletarian to admire Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, frankly, it probably just means that you now watch a lot of indie movies. Winslet's been nominated for 5 Academy Awards, for chrissakes, DiCaprio's been nominated for three. And James Cameron hasn't made an ass of himself for a full decade now. He even showed enough humor to mockingly play himself on "Entourage" as the director of an Aquaman movie (and if James Cameron actually made an Aquaman movie, I would totally see it, and so would you). And it was the last time we ever saw Billy Zane? Remember Billy Zane? I miss that guy.

There just aren't that many really epic movies crafted with such loving care anymore, even Peter Jackson and Ridley Scott can be hit or miss these days. But Cameron weaves a love story around through a disaster film chock full of excellent turns by dozens of character actors, giving a sense of both the scope and the heartbreak of the sinking. Remember the musicians playing as the boat sank? The officer accidentally shooting a passenger, then committing suicide? The gentlemen asking for brandy as they waited in the parlor room for the end to come? The captain standing alone at the tiller as the water shattered the windows? Remember Billy Zane using a kid as leverage to find his way onto a lifeboat? Man, you wanted to smack him so hard (by the way, count the amount of times someone is suckerpunched in Titanic sometime. It's well over a dozen).

If Titanic came out for the first time tomorrow, you would be remiss if you didn't go out and see it. It's an event movie, and we don't have enough.

Though you would still be wise to leave before Celine Dion started singing over the end credits.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Six Records You Must Have Right Now

There is a multitude of music out there for free or for very cheap, and most of it is pretty bad. But when you can find a truly great record for $2 or less, you'd be a fool not to jump on it. All of these records fit that description. I'll give you links for guidance.

Matthew Perryman Jones
Throwing Punches In The Dark

Cost: Free
This record is unbelievable - one of those albums that whenever you talk to someone who has it, they immediately start gushing with you, thrilled to find somone else who enjoys it. Jones an introspective singer-songwriter who's accented some fairly soul-bearing tunes with crunchy electric guitars and anthemic choruses. It's available on Noisetrade, a site a lot of indie Christian acts are using these days, where you can either pay what you want or email five friends about it. I emailed five friends, but now I feel that's not enough. I might go back and send along some cash. The album's worth it.
Download: 'Emily's Song,' 'Breaking Out The Windows,' and 'Waiting On The Light to Change.'

Jack's Mannequin
The Glass Passenger
Cost: $1.62
Immediately after recording their debut record, Jack's Mannequin vocalist Andrew McMahon went to the hospital to check out some throat problems he'd been having, and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He started chemo immediately and the band sat and waited to see the results. Three years and a clean bill of health later, The Glass Passenger finally arrives, and it's hear-wrenchingly sweet to hear it. McMahon's always been a singer prone to desperation and bravado, but hearing him sing it through waves of honest doubts of his mortality brings it closer to the bone. "Even if your voice comes back again," he ponders on 'Crashin,' "maybe there'll be no one listening." With songs as rawly emotional as this, that shouldn't be a concern.
Download: 'Caves,' 'Crashin,' 'Annie Use Your Telescope,' and 'Hammers and Strings.'

The Killers
Cost: $2.43
Killers fans seem to divide into two camps: people who think that that their first indie rock record was brilliant and their second album was nothing more than overwrought Springsteen worship, and people who think that Sam's Town was the first time big, anthemic rock has sounded alive in a very long time. I belong in the later camp, but whichever side you pick, Sawdust has something for you. One of those B-sides records where it's more of a lost tracks collection, the record is a bit hit-and-miss, but the highlights are some of the Killer's finest tracks.
Download: "Tranquilize" (featuring Lou Reed), "Under The Gun," and "Show You How."

Jakob Dylan
Seeing Things
Cost: $1.35
I want to live where Jakob Dylan lives. I'm not sure exactly where that is, but it seems to be some combination of the South and Middle America in the 1920's. Everyone seems to be a coal miner sipping three-day old coffee or farmhand unwrapping cornbread from wax paper with their feet propped up on a potbellied stove. Considering his parentage, it's unsurprising Dylan grew up in a way where that's considered a normal way of life, but there's something authentic about Dylan's songs, as if maybe this perfect untouched America exists somewhere else other than his own mind. I hope so. I'd like to see it sometime.
Download: 'Everybody Pays As They Go,' 'Something Good This Way Comes,' and 'This End Of The Telescope.'

Derek Webb
The Ringing Bell

Cost: Free
Webb's always been a consistently good singer-songwriter, though he had a long stretch where he considered the sound of his speaking a more appealing sound than his singing, and so his concerts got a little self-aggrandizing. Still, Webb's always been a unique voice in the Christian world, cutting and insightful, demanding to be heard. The Ringing Bell is well named, an album that calls the listener to action, a battle cry of Christian love and peace, with previously untapped pop hooks bouncing underneath Webb's plaintive vocals. Of all the recordings of Webb's short but prolific solo career, this album may be his finest piece of work.
Download: 'Name,' 'I Want To Marry You All Over Again,' and 'This Too Shall Be Made Right.'

Sixpence None The Richer
My Dear Machine EP
Cost: Free
Sixpence broke up about four years ago, figuring that the time had come and it was time to follow other musical pursuits. Everyone went off and did their own thing for a little while before they all realized that the whole band was much greater than the sum of its parts, and got back together again. Good choice - Leigh Nash never sounds quite as good as when she's singing Matt Slocum's earthy, melancholy tunes. The EP will fill you with hope for the band's triumphant return.

The album. It's only four songs long.

Total Cost: $5.40. Really, you can afford that.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I thought about it.


Why My Generation Doesn't Vote

The leadership team at the Loft had a meeting with a polling expert from our church. We’d done a fairly extensive poll to try to get a rough picture of what our church was doing right and wrong, and he was interpreting the results for us. We were talking about the incorporation of young adults into the church and trying to get them to sign up and become official members. It was at that point he said something really interesting:

He said that young people today – people in their mid-twenties – generally refuse to incorporate in any aspect, which is why Obama will likely have some sort of trouble on election day. The people that are his strongest supporters are also the least likely to show up and vote for him.

I imagine he’s right. I am in no way a typical anything, but I comprehend exactly the difficulties Obama faces. The problem is not passion, but rather diligence. Twenty-somethings will expound passionately on the reasons Obama is a better candidate, or the problem with government today being greed/warmongering/stupidity/etc, or Bush’s general evilness, but find actually registering and going to vote a chore they need not take part in. Registering makes you part of the system. It makes you part of the problem.

Ultimately, we’ve become a generation that believes it’s more important what you think than what you do.

Whether Obama wins or loses, part of the election day coverage will focus on Obama’s turnout being weaker than expected. No one will focused on the general disenfranchisement of the younger voting set. Instead, Fox News will call it “people waking up and realizing that they just can’t vote for a feeble, ill-equipped candidate like Obama,” a strategy Bill O’Reilly will refer to as “common sense.” CNN will call it “closet racism rearing its head,” and do specials on it for a week. MSNBC will call it “out-and-out racism,” and then find a way to mention Bush’s name in the same sentence.

The first “are young people going to go the polls or not?” article should be appearing in your local paper/subscription to Newsweek in about two weeks.

Thanks, Taylor.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

McCain-Obama Debate Live Reactions

All times Central.

8:07 Brokaw asks McCain who he'd nominate for Treasury Secretary. McCain quips "not you, Tom. Sorry." Probably the last life of the night. And not a big laugh.

8:10 McCain is going after Obama.

8:14 Obama says "I've got to correct some of McCain's history. Not surprisingly." McCain starts force-laughing. Man, they're gonna be gunning at each other tonight.

8:14 Obama wants to make Warren Buffet Treasury Secretary and thanks him for his support. Shedding that celebrity label, eh Barack?

8:15 Obama stops pointing fingers for a moment to say "you don't want to see politicians pointing fingers."

8:17 New Drinking Game: Drink every time McCain says "croneyism."

8:20 New Drinking Game: Drink every time Obama puts Bush and McCain in the same sentence.

8:21 McCain almost said "maverick" but didn't quite.

8:22 "Pork-barrel!" Everybody drink.

8:25 McCain said "clean coal technology" and Obama visibly flinched. I think he wanted to hit him on it, but he doesn't get to because of the rules.

8:26 Drink every time Brokaw reminds the candidates about the rules.

8:27 Obama sent out an aide to check the gas prices in the area. Smart.

8:27 Brokaw motioned Obama to wrap up and he smacked him down. "Just one point I want to make, Tom." Ooooooh.

8:27 Brokaw reminds everyone about the rules! Everyone drinks!

8:28 There's a question about sacrifice and the American Dream. Obama's gotta be breathing a sigh of relief that McCain is going first. You never want to go before the Vietnam vet.

8:29 McCain spends no time on sacrifice and the American Dream and instead talks about earmarks for two minutes. The message being "no sacrifice needed! I've got this under control. Elect me!"

8:30 Obama invokes 9-11. This is either a kill punch or a huge mistake.

8:31 It's neither. Obama reminds everyone how terribly Bush did during the 9-11 crisis. Weirdly, that's not how I remember it.

8:32 Obama's now talking about energy incentives. Do you get the sense that both candidates have only two or three issues they're going after tonight?

8:33 Woah, rules comment! Everybody drink!

8:33 Brokaw asks a question with Bush in the question. Little bit of a softball there.

8:34 Obama defended earmarks. He probably shouldn't have mentioned that earmarks are 18% of the federal budget. That is not helping.

8:35 McCain just invoked both Herbert Hoover and Protectionism. No one there has any idea what he's talking about.

8:37 I like Obama's little head twitch whenever he can't respond. It's killing him not to say anything.

8:37 Woah! Take eight drinks! What happened there? Obama tried to respond even though it wasn't his turn, so Brokaw slapped him down, but Obama kept going anyway, so Brokaw started reading a new question anyway. I think Brokaw's getting pissed at Obama's cavalier attitude toward the debate rules.

8:39 Obama has now completely ignored the question and started talking about tax exemptions anyway. Maybe Brokaw will call him on it.

8:40 Obama hits McCain back for his "overhead projector" crack. Saw that coming.

8:40 McCain wants to answer the question and to respond to Obama at the same time. He's so excited he's not sure where to start.

8:41 McCain's getting Mavericky up there.

8:41 Oooh, base closings. Hitting the tough issues.

8:42 No one broke the rules and Brokaw made a rules comment anyway. Take two drinks!

8:43 McCain makes Lieberman reference. Take a drink.

8:43 Am I the only one that thinks that McCain makes it sound like he and Lieberman are perhaps some sort of superhero duo traveling the world proposing alternate energy solutions?

8:45 Obama struggles when he goes first but kills when he goes second.

8:46 Technical director miscuts again. Welcome to prime time, rook.

8:47 Both candidates have this look when the other one is going that says "man, look at this hack dithering away with all this nonsense."

8:47 Huge rules smackdown! Obama takes a potshot. McCain does all but wink at Brokaw. I think he's enjoying that he and Brokaw look like a matched set up there with Obama looking like the odd man out.

8:49 McCain getting cute, he just referred to Obama as "that one." You know that's going to be quoted out of context constantly on MSNBC this week.

8:51 Obama talks health care and only talks about women's issues. Smart.

8:53 I really feel that McCain is winning so far tonight, but I might be too biased to tell. He's certainly extremely well-prepped tonight, and he's throwing heat. But with Obama having a strong lead in economic issues, to undecideds he might look a little desperate more than passionate.

8:55 McCain just booted the health care question. Not good.

8:56 Obama going second on health care is gonna be rough for McCain. He's gonna eat this one up.

8:56 Obama invoked his dead mother. Ooh.

8:57 Obama hints that he thinks it might be possible that John McCain hates children. He's really gunning for him.

8:58 Woah, Obama just took a shot at the great state of Arizona. Don't bring that business up in here, sir.

8:58 New Drinking Game: take two drinks every time Brokaw makes a rules comment and then McCain makes a joke about it.

9:00 "We don't have time for on the job training." Then he turns around and stalks back to the chair. Woah.

9:02 Obama calls McCain a "cheerleader for Bush." That's two drinks.

9:03 Obama says we can't help Darfur until we change John McCain and George Bush's foreign policy. That seems mean of us.

9:05 Darfur reference #2. And wait, the problem is that McCain can't rally international support, but Obama can. Well, he can when he's President. That's when he will receive that magical power.

9:06 McCain wants a cool hand at the tiller. I feel that if you're in charge of steering the boat, you should be allowed gloves.

9:08 McCain just referenced "his hero," Reagan, while also pointing out that he knew more than him about the military. Gutsy.

9:09 Obama might be right. All our problems might really be that we never finished hunting for bin Laden.

9:11 McCain just flip-flopped and said that Teddy Roosevelt is his hero. Reagan or Roosevelt, McCain! Pick a side.

9:12 McCain and Obama can't even agree on how to pronounce "Taliban." Obama pronounces it "TAL-lee-ban" and McCain calls it "TAHL-eh-BAHN."

9:13 Obama just smacked down Brokaw again, and kept going, so much so that Brokaw said "well, I'm just a hired hand here." Someone is not going to be invited to Brokaw's famous Halloween party and bob-for-apples marathon.

9:14 Obama says that McCain calls him "green behind the ears." It does sound like McCain.

9:15 McCain said that he could totally catch bin Laden if he wanted to. He's probably just feeling a little sluggish today, that's all that stopping him.

9:17 Drink every time McCain references General Petraus. That's at least four drinks so far.

9:18 The candidates sound mad at each other. Like, a fight might break out. Quick poll: who's the most likely to hurl their microphone at the other in anger? I think it's tied.

9:19 McCain just said that we're not going to have another Cold War with Russia. Yeah, but that's probably what the last guy said.

9:20 McCain wants to show Georgia "moral support." Just what they're looking for.

9:21 Obama also feels that Georgia could use some moral support. We need to do something about that poor nation's self-esteem.

9:24 Brokaw just asked a "yes or no" question. Nice try.

9:24 McCain said that if he answered "yes" to the question, he would start another Cold War with Russia. The stakes for this debate are high, huh? Also, five minutes ago there was no chance of a cold war, so, this seems like an empty threat.

9:25 McCain just patted an Navy officer in the audience on the shoulder in a decidedly grandfatherly manner. Good work in the Middle East, sonny. Swing by for pinochle sometime.

9:27 Obama went over to the Navy officer to shake his hand, but I think he didn't want to look unoriginal, so he's just standing too close to him, instead.

9:29 Foreign policy is not treating Obama well. He's got his one point ("I hate Iraq. And Bush."), and the rest is a lot of tap dancing. I think he's happy the debate is finally leaving this subject.

9:30 Obama referenced his wife, his grandmother, and his single mother, then swung back and referenced them again. Finish off whatever alcohol you have left.

9:32 The question is "what don't you know?" and both McCain and Obama's answer is "pretty much nothing."

9:34 Oh, a steady hand at the tiller. The guy must've gotten gloves.

9:36 How much does this shaking hands with the audience at the end of the show montage look like the end of SNL each week?

9:40 The "that one" comment is going to be the the story of out this debate. It's gonna be at least three or four news cycles. Guarantee it.

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Go for it!

If you haven't tried the Sarah Palin Name Generator, go for it. I got "Chevy General Palin" and "Pick Beef Palin," depending on how I typed in my name.

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Everyone's favorite 80's video...

Apologies for not posting last night, I'll do a double post today. Plus, if I can swing it, I'll try to watch the debate and comment on that one. Last chance for McCain.

Every wish that songs just sang what was happening in the music video? Well, now they do!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Secret of Barack Obama's Appeal

Right after the Mets collapsed down the stretch, I was watching ESPN throw it around to various baseball personalities who were explaining how sad and pathetic their swoon was (these same people, had the Mets won one more game, would be referring to the Mets as "resilient" and "gritty"). I can't remember which particularly blase personality was explaining that the Mets collapse was shameful and embarrassing, but he said something that stuck out to me.

Bland-o was saying that the Mets had to make changes, any changes, just because their fans needed to believe that this team could win next year, just because "change means hope." And suddenly Obama's appeal became clear to me.

I remembered growing up as a Sox fan and that complete sense of desperation that slowly crept over you each year as the team would flame out each September. The Yankees lead would be at two games, then three, then five, then seven, and the Indians would start to run away with the wildcard. And suddenly the season would be over, and there'd be that silence, that sad deadness that follows a season when you realize that despite all the time you'd spent convincing yourself that your team had what it took, deep down you always knew that they just weren't quite good enough to make it.

But then there'd be the postseason, and you'd start to believe again. The Sox would send a few prospects away for a talented-but-underachieving second baseman, and Nomar would start talking about how his wrist felt much stronger and he felt his power would be better this year, and all of a sudden no one could stop talking about how the big change was adding Dante Bichette or Shea Hillenbrand or Carl Everett or Reggie Jefferson or whoever our vain hope for that year was. It buoyed you, it brought the life back to talking about your team to friends and cashiers and homeless men on the street (don't ask). We'd believe, once again, that we'd made it over the edge, that we were deserving, that we were contenders, champions, that we had the trappings of greatness.

I think that's why it's so easy to believe in Obama. Nothing he's saying is anything new, it's all the same lines we've always heard. We see that he's clearly a politician through and through, he's strongly Democratic and almost never breaks with his party, he's just a less-experienced version of everything we've seen before, but... there's that newness to him. That sense of excitement. That feeling, creeping over you as you hear talk about him in coffee shop and in line at the supermarket: hey, this might be our year. This might be the time that everything changes. He's gonna be the guy who pushes us over the edge, pushes us to where we've always belonged. Pushes us to greatness. Believe it.

We know that it's probably not true, almost certainly not true, and we're fools for even thinking it. But we just want so badly to believe it, just for the sake of having hope again. We'd rather be fools blindly clinging to hope than doubters scoffing on the edges, we all would. And that's why we choose to believe in Obama.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Best 5 Shows On Television

Patty asked me to rank the top five shows on television. At first I was torn between trying to decide between my favorite five shows and what I considered the best five shows, but it turned out not to be an issue. Times have changed, and the critical darlings that I appreciated but never managed to warm to ('The Sopranos,' 'The Wire') are now retired, leaving the difference between what I and admire the most and love the dearest completely negligible.

Also, I generally think that whatever I like is probably what’s best for America. Onward!

With apologies to: ‘The Office,’ ‘Family Guy,’ ‘Entourage,’ ‘House,’ ‘Flight of the Conchords,’ ‘The Colbert Report,’ and ‘Weeds.’

5. (tie) ‘Pushing Daisies' (ABC) and ‘Friday Night Lights.’ (NBC and DirectTV)
The two shows couldn’t be more different: one’s a fanciful, vibrant fairy tale about a man who can bring back the dead for 60 seconds, the other a cinéma vérité look at Texas high school football. A year ago it would’ve been FNL by a landslide (a year ago “Daisies’ wasn’t on the air yet, so I guess the point is moot), but FNL’s second season maintained its excellent direction and writing but lost narrative direction, to say the least – by the end of the season, it was inexplicably a show about girl’s volleyball. Still, hope springs eternal, and with promise by its creators of better focus this year, it remains a top-five show. Meanwhile, ‘Daisies’ remains the most original show on broadcast television – a little Harry Potter, a little Amelie, all in sparkling highly saturated color. Extra points for breakout stars Anna Friel and Houston’s own Lee Pace

4. 'Californication.' (Showtime)
This one was a shock to me, but Showtime’s rather purple take on a struggling writer’s attempt to win back his ex-wife turned out to be one of the best shows I watched last year. David Duchovny found a role that fits him even better than Fox Mulder – as Hank Moody, he’s profane, narcissistic, and vicious, yet in a quiet, self-loathingly Zen-like manner that seems almost admirable. The James Dean of failing authors. Having a show on HBO or Showtime is often a boon – the shows spend more money over less episodes in order to keep quality high, and on shows like this one, it’s definitely clear that the strategy is working.

3. 'Mad Men.' (AMC)
Brilliant and verbose, with picture perfect culture landmarks to envelop the viewer into the world of advertising in the 1960’s, ‘Mad Men’ is everything to me that ‘Sopranos’ never could be – quiet, slowly developing, completely gripping intrigue. John Hamm is perfection as Don Draper – a dapper, self-absorbed yet completely brilliant ad exec – somehow managing to win the affection of the audience while holding them off with one hand. By the end of the first season, you feel that you both barely know him and know him better than he knows himself. Remarkable that this is AMC’s first ever narrative show.

2. 'Lost.' (ABC)
We have now crossed the threshold completely – after a below-par second season and an up-and-down third, ‘Lost’ broke out and completely reinvented itself, moving the narrative so quickly that the show has become a tornado of half-answered questions and dizzying plot devices. You are either entranced or you’ve given up completely, and I find myself in the first category. One way or another, the series finale will almost certainly be one of the most debated and rehashed television events of my generation.

1. '30 Rock.' (NBC)
Both one of the most sharply written and consistently funny shows on television, they have with their triumphant Emmy sweep now become its standard bearer for comedy. Somehow managing to be both NBC’s signature comedy (even over ‘The Office’) and yet remain a cult show (low ratings will do that to you), ’30 Rock’ seems willing to go anywhere for a laugh – the ensemble cast appears and disappears without conscience, only appearing if they actually fit into a storyline, a decidedly original strategy for sitcom television. Throw in virtually every good celebrity cameo on television this year – 7 out of the 11 nominees for Best Guest Actor or Actress in a Comedy Series were from ’30 Rock’ – and the selection’s a lock.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Take THAT, McCain.

I'm not in favor of the phrase "pork-barrel" spending. I just think it sounds too tasty. I understand that it's actually an old pre-Civil War custom where owners would give their slaves a barrel of pork and let them fight over it, but to me it seems like the sort of thing that I would eat at a Renaissance Fair (apologies, Renaissance Faire). As in, "whenever you've finished your honeyed mead, Jim, I'd like to go and get some rinds out of the pork barrel before the joust." It could even be the name of a really good backwoods BBQ joint, The Pork Barrel, famed for its unbelievably juicy ribs and how the log floor creaks alarmingly when you walk on it.

The sign would unquestionably be a picture of a pig with a barrel for a midsection, and the pig would have cartoon eyes and be smiling.

Update: I found a Pork Barrel Restaurant, but unbelievably, it serves seafood and seems to have no sort of homegrown charm about it.

Internet Connection Lost

My internet's been screwy, which is why the posting hasn't been as consistent as promised. I will, however, make sure that everyone's topics keep getting covered by the end of the Blogventure™.

Send in your request to

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tasty Fun for the Kids of all Parental-Supervised Ages!

This ad makes me deliriously happy. Heidi's favorite part was the line, "with adult supervision, even kids can make them all by themselves!" Personally, though, I think the highlight has to be this kid:

I had that exact expression through the majority of my childhood. A particular highlight would be the time my parents had trustingly left my brother and I alone one evening with instructions to "make ourselves dinner." To their credit, we were more than old enough for that to be acceptable, though they certainly came to regret it.

We tried to make waffles but only succeeded at somehow melding the waffle iron together. Leaving it smouldering in the sink, we tried instead to make Swedish pancakes, which involves a special skillet and common sense, only one of which we had.

To make long story short, my parents have to keep one end of their kitchen table permanently covered in order to hide an extremely noticeable burn in the shape of a large, dimpled skillet.

For the record, everyone agrees that using the microwave to make S'mores is out-and-out cheating. You brave the dangers of the open flame and toast the sucker, even if the S'more ends up being about 35% carbon by the time you choke it down. That scared kid had the right idea all along. Attaway, kid.

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The Blogventure Begins!


Latest Fortune Cookie

I got a really good one the other day, something about how I was superior to all my friends. It was quite something, but I got up to use the restroom and somebody cleared the table, including said fortune, in my absence. Now I've forgotten the details.

Speaking of details, I received a surprisingly specific one today:

"You naturally accumulate knowledge and look at its broader implications."

Well, it's nice whenever my clarity of big-picture vision is appreciated like that.


The obligatory financial crisis post. Yay.

Here’s what I think.

When a government is in economic trouble and they plan on giving $700 billion dollars of taxpayer money to people with whom we now have absolutely no confidence in, it would probably be wiser if they made absolutely sure no one called it a “bailout.” It should be termed a “stipend.” Or a “stimulus package.” A “money explosion.” “experimental money packages.” “The First Annual Presidential Lottery.” “Christmas.”

The root problem is that it’s difficult for the average person to see exactly how this money gets to them, which I’m pretty sure is supposed to be PR rule number one for politicians whenever a government is handing out huge chunks of money. Every time I’m watching a television someplace and news of the crisis comes on (so, every time I’m watching a television someplace), inevitably another person nearby will say something like “man, I wish the government would give me $700 billion every time I screwed up.” Then we’d all laugh. Except for me, of course. ‘Cause I’m not an idiot.

I’m fine with the fact that the government has to give money to companies led by executives who completely failed to forecast this disaster. That’s the way things work sometimes.

What bothers me is that the reason the lottery (or whatever) didn’t pass was that massive amounts of people who evidently have a different opinion poured in emails and angry phone calls to make their opinion known, and that was the difference maker.

I’m not questioning their opinions. I’m questioning the dozens of Republicans who saw which way the wind was blowing and ignored their own judgment and voted against the bill.

I remember in middle school, the teacher questioned us whether an elected official should be expected to vote his conscience or the will of his constituency. I felt passionately – and still do – that while the official was elected to represent their district, in moments of conflict, they should always do what they believe to be right.

Now, honestly, I have no idea if this bill is any good. I’ve heard some damning critiques, mostly from people who have something to gain from its failure – Dave Ramsey, the Christian financial consultant whose primary advice is “pay cash for everything,” has sent out an email advising all Christians to pray for the wisdom of our Congressman to reject this bill and instead enact the plan he, Dave Ramsey, has developed to fix the crisis. I’m sure it’s a winner.

Regardless, I’m just disappointed that even in economic crisis, when all eyes are on the government, when both their President and presidential nominee urge their support, when the time for posturing has clearly past, the only thing the Republicans can manage to do is run for re-election. How excellent their chances shall be.

After all, there’s no chance of the Democrats swinging this crisis to their own advantage, is there? I caught Obama’s speech today, in which he looked young and energetic and full of new ideas. And then I heard his content. He promised to reach across the aisle, doing whatever possible to fix this crisis, promising to find ways to make sure this money made its way back to the taxpayer, and listing ways our government could cut back the pork barrel fat. It reminded me of someone…

Obama may have played this better than anyone. McCain returned to Washington to help fix the crisis. A bill was proposed, both Obama and McCain voted for it, but it didn’t pass. But now, since Obama is already back in Washington, he jump into the fray, make several key appearances, knowing that if we immediately pass a new bill, he is going to look very, very good.

Thanks to Jonathan for the request.