May 28, 2004

Amnesty Day for... well, Jerks

A good and somewhat milder than usual column from Paul Krugman in today's NYT:

So why did the press credit Mr. Bush with virtues that reporters knew he didn't possess? One answer is misplaced patriotism. After 9/11 much of the press seemed to reach a collective decision that it was necessary, in the interests of national unity, to suppress criticism of the commander in chief.

Good point, and I think it's also true of a lot of plain ol' citizens as well.

People who can't seem to make the ENORMOUS mental leap that criticizing the administration during a war doesn't make you "unpatriotic" are a source of immense frustration to me.

In my darker moments I believe that if you ever made such an argument then you should have to have your words tattooed on your forehead as an indicator now and forever that when it mattered most, you were one of the guys that tried to shout down dissent.

But in my more positive moments, (which I admit seem to come with less frequency) I suspect it IS just a form of this misplaced patriotism Krugman talks about. Surely that vast number of Love-It-Or-Leave-It people aren't just a group of yes-drones?

We are now seeing the pendulum of national media attention slowly swinging to the idea that, especially when we're talking about military action, maybe every fact SHOULD be checked out very thoroughly! And I think there are a lot of people who could be moved to question things for the first time in a long while.

But I think it's understandably hard to make a mental shift from having rabidly supported the whole thing all along to looking a bit harder at the official reasons for Why We Fight. And part of what might make it tough is the anticipation of having to endure a big, long chorus of WE TOLD YOU SO AND HAVE BEEN TELLING YOU SO FOR THREE YEARS from the ones they've been saying hate America so much.

So I think there should be an Amnesty Day for such people. A time when they are allowed to change their minds without taking a world of shit for it.

Posted by Chris on 05/28/04

Another useful site

Episode listings, plot summaries, cast lists - I haven't been able to stump it yet.

Posted by Chris on 05/28/04

May 27, 2004

Hey, look

I used to work here:

The Old Faithful Inn

I cleaned hotel rooms for a few summers. Tedious stuff, but then I'd get off work and be... in Yellowstone National Park. Not bad. And, I'd rather clean hotel rooms than wait tables.

And where else would you have to wait for a herd of bison to clear the road before you could get to work?

Posted by Chris on 05/27/04

I, Shitheel

It seems like it was just last week when I said I was positive I'd soon regret my derision of someone who would organize a filmmaker retrospective and also use it as a chance to get his own films out there.

How correct I was. The filmmaker who organized "the Movieside" fest, a guy named Rusty Nails, found this snarky post of mine online, and responded with the most vicious, utterly anti-social, diabolical throat-punch of invective and abuse: he left a few extremely decent, totally professional comments.


As I retraced what must have been his footsteps through the pages of Google (my post showed up on page 16 of 32 links to the searchword "movieside"), it occurred to me that perhaps I should have been more aggressive in re-examining my claims of tackiness before I posted, as new evidence emerged—or failed to emerge - from the Google findings.

His shorts and a feature, all shot on glorious 16mm, have been all over the world, in festival after festival. Check it out: To date, mine... have not. Check it out: ___________________ See? There's nothing to check out.

Mea culpa.

(I STILL say repeat the questions, though.)
Posted by Chris on 05/27/04

May 26, 2004

Gee, thanks

The NY Times apologizes for dropping the ball, so to speak, in the days immediately following 9/11, as we geared up for war with our TRUE enemy (everyone else).

The Times and Iraq

OK, but it would have been nice for this paper - one that sets the agenda for several other news outlets - to have kept an eye on the ball at the very time it was most likely to be dropped.

Posted by Chris on 05/26/04

In Accordance With Biblical Prophecy

I guess I wouldn't mind our leaders adhering to an End-Times Evangelism so much...

... but I DO wish they'd just go ahead and tack "In accordance with Biblical prophecy" after all their speeches.

Posted by Chris on 05/26/04

Great article. I wouldn't mind the end-of-the-world nutters so much if they'd choose better source material when shopping for their beliefs. I'd prefer they stroll along Michigan Avenue in sandwich boards instead of running for office though.,5673,1195727,00.html

Posted by: Isaac at May 26, 2004 4:37 PM

News You Can Use

Bush is sliding in the polls, and as if on cue...

Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller will hold a news conference Wednesday amid intelligence that has increased concern over the possibility of a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Such an attack could take place as early as this summer, according to several U.S. officials.


Attacks might take place before the November presidential election in an attempt to affect the outcome, the officials said.

By "officials" I assume they mean "me," because I agree with that last line whole-heartedly.

Posted by Chris on 05/26/04

May 24, 2004


  1. During this movie I experienced the strange sensation of simultaneously wanting to provide Mystery Science Theatre-like commentary and also really really enjoying it for what it was. I could think of five million ways to make fun of it, but the movie's sheer earnestness really won me over. Any movie that can do the whole Trojan Horse episode with a straight face deserves credit.

  2. To the list of one-click movie scores that must be stopped I now add the "Fatima Ululates Mournfully Over Battle Scenes." To my chagrin this was not just another Danny Elfman module but from the baton of one of my favorites, James Horner.

  3. Standouts include Brendan Gleeson, Eric Bana, and Brian Cox, Brian Cox, Brian Cox. Petersen and Co. wisely realized that Helen was just the match that lights the fuse, and didn't try to turn her into more than that. Orlando Bloom does a good job in the unenviable position of the Trojan's Favorite Nancy. After he fails on the battlefield his costumes began looking more and more like mumus.

  4. I think Brad Pitt is a good actor; but he has a strange inability to sound convincing in anything but contemporary roles. Also - I wish the filmmakers had taken more pains not to travel in the "Legends of the Fall" grooves. And did I see a CGI tear roll down his face?

  5. Sometimes in movies I like to think ahead to what the action figures might be like, and what their "special action" might be when you press the button on their back. Here are my suggestions for Troy:

    Achilles - Special button: He leaps up in the air, and also glistens.

    Ol' King Priam - Special button: He dodders up the funeral pyre and lights it tearfully.

    Agamemnon - Special button: His voice rises slightly in pitch as he decries Achilles.

    Achilles' Number One Mermadon - Special button: Looks incredulously at Achilles when the hero announces that they are leaving.

    Also, the "Helen" and "Parris" action figures would feature embedded magnets which would draw them together.

    Posted by Chris on 05/24/04

May 21, 2004

Random quote

"The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance... logic can be happily tossed out the window." - Stephen King

Posted by Chris on 05/21/04

God (or Satan) bless Stephen King. But why do the leaders of men credit God, not Satan, when they unleash their hijackings or shock and awe?

Posted by: Isaac at May 21, 2004 4:35 PM

CNN Round-Up

Ol' One-Note Delay

Pelosi questions Bush's competence

...(D-California) Pelosi charged the Bush administration has proved itself wrong on a number of issues with Iraq, including its initial assertions that Iraqis would welcome U.S. troops and that Iraq itself could pay for much of the reconstruction effort.

"Rocket-propelled grenades, not rose petals, greeted them," Pelosi said of U.S. troops. "Instead ... of Iraq being a country that would readily pay for its own reconstruction ... we're up to over $200 billion in cost to the American people."

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay blasted Pelosi, casting her comments as detrimental to U.S. troops.

"Nancy Pelosi should apologize for her irresponsible, dangerous rhetoric," DeLay, R-Texas, said. "She apparently is so caught up in partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk."

You keep riding that horse, Tom! I just hope the Republicans have a plan for when the war is over, and people are again free to criticize the government without fear that their deadly carping will put our boys and girls in harm's way.

Be Alert For Undetectable Threats!

FBI warns of possible suicide attacks

In its weekly bulletin distributed to 18,000 agencies, the FBI says to look out for people wearing bulky jackets on warm days, smelling of chemicals, or even individuals whose fists are tightly clenched.


The bulletin also says suicide bombers may disguise themselves in stolen police uniforms or even as pregnant women.

Did I not say that a Pregnancy Registry would come in handy? And:

Officials say suicide bombers are often impossible to detect. There is usually no advance intelligence and so-called soft targets such as shopping malls are nearly impossible to protect from such an attack.

Just reading this is making my fists tightly clenched. AND I'm gritting my teeth! I'd better watch my step around the authorities today.

Posted by Chris on 05/21/04

Hey, let's not spread fear! Remember Bush is tough on terrorism. How many attacks have happened since he got into office? NONE! Zero! Not even anthrax! He's kept us safe. He wouldn't let an attack happen now, before the election, because that would be embarrassing and prove his words hollow. Won't happen.

And we have duct tape.

Posted by: Isaac at May 21, 2004 4:41 PM

May 20, 2004

And so it goes

Something from Vonnegut, via FattyFat:

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!

Posted by Chris on 05/20/04

fantastic point. And it's important to remember that Jesus came to do away with the antiquated laws of the Old Testament. Of course, the Ten Commandments are pretty hard to find fault with, at least 70% pretty much jibe with my personal views.

But things like don't wear mixed fabrics or work on Saturday or associate with a menstruating woman are to be banished. And that includes "laying with your brother as you would a woman" from Leviticus.

Although still, I hate being around menstruating women.

Posted by: christian friend jessica at May 21, 2004 10:03 AM

There is a Giant Squid right behind you

Way to go, New Yorker magazine. Just when I thought the nightmares were over, you've dragged them out of my subconscious again:


Why must we legitimize these squids by reporting of their cause in such a prestigious magazine? Can we not just all agree to disregard them, and maybe they will go away and haunt our nightmares no more?

How many Nautilus ships will they be allowed to devour with their hideous beaks? How many whales must be stained with their horrible inks? Before we are rid of this menace?

Posted by Chris on 05/20/04

May 19, 2004

Terrorist Aikido

I've avoided talking about the talk around the Nicholas Berg thing for a while, because surely there is some value in being the one spot on the internet that hasn't. But here is something that has been sitting in my Movable Type database as a "draft" for a few days. I may take it down after awhile, as my rants sometimes embarrass me later:

Something repeatedly comes up around these sort of things that seems extremely simplistic and a little self-serving towards a certain point of view: Where is the Arab outrage? Why are they not openly condemning this act?

I'd like to suggest something, and I beg forgiveness for the outrageous naivete in even uttering it: Let's remember that the "they" in this case are not the Borg, sharing one hive-mind, but millions of individual human beings.

And, as much as we'd like to hear a unified chorus from that fabled "Arab Street" that "they" are just as horrified and disgusted as America at the brutality, in all likelihood there are actually many many many Arab streets, upon which walk individual people probably operating on just as little information about us as we have about them. Glancing at three or four headlines on your way to work will hardly give you the full, nuanced reaction of millions upon millions of human beings you've never met.

Let's try to allow context into our reasoning once in a while.

I suggest that Americans ought to try not to judge all people in the Arab world by those killers in the Berg video, just as we ourselves would not like to all be lumped in with those soldiers with the video and digital cameras in Abu Ghraib.

I think a home run for a terrorist group like Al Qeida isn't just getting away with their murders - but having a government's reaction to those murders be wildly disproportionate, aimed not just at the terrorists but an entire region of the world. It's Terrorist Aikido - trick the big guy into taking an angry, uncontrolled swing at you, and he'll probably end up hurting himself more than you could have.

Who knows if that strategy was actually in al-Zarqawi or Osama bin Laden's mind, but the point is when our hawks behave as if this is a religious war, we are giving the terrorists a better result than they could have ever achieved on their own.

Posted by Chris on 05/19/04

A Real Creepshow

I had the chance to hear horror director George Romero speak at the "Movieside Film Festival" this last weekend. They were screening a lot of his movies - at least the zombie fare - and "Creepshow*," which is either on my top twenty list or top ten, depending on when I make the list.

The festival itself, though, was yet another one of these events that illustrates the huge divide between myself and other film people. These should have been My People, but instead I felt preppy, out of place, severely underpierced, and out-tattooed.

No surprise to learn that the organizer was himself a young filmmaker, and therefore even less of a surprise to see a table stacked with DVDs of his own horror movie for sale there, alongside the other memorabilia vendors.

If I continue on this career path I am positive I will one day mightily regret my derision of this self-promotion technique, but it seems tacky. As a filmmaker, actor, or a musician, you're constantly taught never to say never, never think you're above something or have too much pride, as you're always only one job away from dressing up like an elf down at Navy Pier (or shooting video of elves down at Navy Pier). You're never supposed to look down on someone doing something to sell themselves - but for now, from my high horse, I say if you're going to organize a film festival or a retrospective of Romero's career, let it be that, and not a chance to sneak your own work in front of people who came to see something else.

Especially if it's not that great to begin with.

Also: in this guy's Q&A segments, he strictly followed the Katie Couric school of interviewing, which is to say he did more talking than George Romero. Instead of asking questions he would deliver long personal anecdotes and recounts of things he had heard about the movies, then let Romero begin to fill in when he eventually, mercifully trailed off. Maybe he was going for an "intimate evening with George" feel, which would explain why he never repeated audience questions, so that people more than two rows away essentially got one side of the conversation, and he also situated himself and George on small chairs almost below the audience level.

Another big surprise: the organizer's favorite band played between some of the movies. I'm not unaware that a band might bring in people that wouldn't necessarily have come; but it also drove us out early.

*As I get older the creeps turn more to camp, but there are still PLENTY of creeps. I marvel at some of the things the movie does: the unassuming way it incorporates comic book visuals like frames for transitions (better than the Hulk did) or shock lines around the characters' heads, or the idea that Stephen King could actually star in the movie, and be good, and above all the way the movie balances horror and humor. The little kids in the neighborhood used to come over to my house to watch it, as I had taped it off Showtime and their mothers wouldn't let them see it. To complete this picture, even as I write this I am geeking out to the soundtrack, which I had searched for for many a moon and I finally found.
Posted by Chris on 05/19/04

Hey Chris,

This is Rusty from Movieside. Glad you like Creepshow. About the audience asking questions and our repeating them...
we have thought about that - but upon asking a few people about it - from a couple different shows we've been told that people can almost always hear the questions...
at the Troma thing in June I'll try the repeating the question technique.


Posted by: Rusty at May 26, 2004 11:39 AM

Sorry about the multiple posts above. My computer is crazy. Also, you shouldn't
worry about feeling to preppy. I talked to a whole bunch of the kids and they were nice - decent - intelligent people who like Romero's work like yourself... tattoos or not (and I have no tattoos or pierces).

Peace, Rusty

Posted by: Rusty at May 26, 2004 11:46 AM

And another thing...

... about our precious village idiots.

Posted by Chris on 05/19/04

Two Silly Incidents

I suspect the Riddler is behind these attacks, that fiend:

British P.M. Tony Blair Hit With Purple Powder

German Chancellor Slapped at Rally

This is serious: Someone is attacking world leaders in silly ways. If Bush sits on a whoopie cushion later this week I'm turning on the Bat-signal.

Posted by Chris on 05/19/04

Outsource ME? I outsource MYSELF!


Posted by Chris on 05/19/04

May 18, 2004

Whence Comest the Madcap?

ALERT! The city of Portland will soon be experiencing dangerously low levels of madcap and zany, as they've just lost a pair of shock-jock D.J.s to the absurd standards of the politically-correct mavens:

PORTLAND - The radio station KNRK at 94.7 FM is issuing an apology to its listeners after talk show hosts Marconi, Tiny and sidekick Nickie J. laughed at and ridiculed the beheading of American Nick Berg. The two, along with their producer, were fired and 'The Marconi Show' is off the air.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you: In the absence of Marconi and Tiny, WHO WILL MAN THE MORNING ZOO? WHERE WILL PORTLAND GET ITS ZANY? Do they really think sidekick Nickie J. will be able to do it alone?!?

Seriously, though. Is this the result of some antiquated law still on the books from the Colonial period? Must every village have an idiot? Must every city have an obnoxious D.J. and sidekick? Why do people champion these guys? Why in an article about the FCC and the First Amendment, does the Chicago Sun-Times seek out the opinion of "Mancow," a man with a sidekick named Turd?

But thanks to Janet Jackson's right boob, or more accurately, the boobs at the FCC, instead of being considered the bottom of the humor food chain, these guys get to be cast as defenders of our civil liberties - every time someone writes in to complain. That means that every time Mancow does a lesbian skit on the air (fulfilling his ambition to be Chicago's second-run theatre for Howard Stern's schtick), the story is not how he's boring, but how he's a rebel. He's out there on the boundaries of acceptability, dude! He's throwin' it in the man's face!

More from Portland - Marconi's "audio apology:"

"The real me went home after I made those comments and when I thought about it, it made me really sick inside. I made a mistake. I'm sorry," Marconi says in the recording.

Maybe the real Marconi could reapply for his job in the future.

Posted by Chris on 05/18/04

Fan Films

A great article in the Weekly Standard about the history of fan films, which features this fantastic quote:

"Right now, there are 200 15-year-olds all bugging each other asking how to make lightsabers glow. It's hard to believe, but one of those kids is the next Spielberg."

Although these fan films are unsellable in a legal sense, if not actionable, what demo or spec project really IS sellable? As long as they're not trying to sell these things, I think what they're doing is great and should be encouraged.

Posted by Chris on 05/18/04

May 17, 2004

The Hellbound Host

We had out of town guests this weekend, some of my in-laws, and while it's always good to visit - the weekend was fairly mind-numbing.

I don't know when I became this intolerant of guests. AM I intolerant? I did my GODDAMNDEST to keep a bright smile on my face and a light, airy comment on my lips, but HOLY LEAPING CATS was it painful. There was a tightness in my chest and I had a headache all weekend. These were two elderly members of our family, people who I like and am immensely grateful that I lucked into having for in-laws, but time slowed to a merciless, boring, unending crawl for me as I pulled every blessed little-known weather fact at my command OUT OF MY ASS to fill the enormous, yawning chasm that was the weekend's conversation. When did I become such a prick?

I am left feeling frustrated, ashamed of myself, and pissed off after each visit like this. Why can't I be more like my parents, or my wife, or NEARLY ANYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD, that seems able to derive some joy from guests?

Wife Ami senses it in me even though I am trying SO hard to hide it from her as well, and this is the worst part. Because she is doing her best to act as a hostess, and she certainly feels the void of conversation, too. But every time she makes a suggestion that we go out to get something to eat, I look at her and smile widely, lovingly, and although I don't say PLEASE DON'T MAKE THIS WORSE BY PUTTING US ALL THROUGH THE ORDEAL OF TRAFFIC, PARKING, GETTING INTO THE RESTAURANT, THE CRUCIFIXION OF ORDERING, THE SHEER INTERMINABILITY OF THE MEAL ITSELF, JUST LET THEM SIT THERE AND WATCH T.V. AND GO MAKE THEM SOME SPAGHETTI, DON'T YOU KNOW THAT THEY'RE NOT HUNGRY ANYWAY FOR CHRIST'S SAKE WOMAN CAN'T YOU SENSE THE PAIN YOU'RE CAUSING, I am pretty sure she picks up on it. Again: when did I get to be such a prick? I didn't mean to be this way.

To be fair to myself: these were, as I said, elderly guests. It's not so much, maybe, that I'm a bastard, as, when have I ever had elderly guests in my life? It IS hard. They come from the generation taught to believe expressing an opinion is to be rude. Therefore we spent the weekend guessing what they might like to eat. Or IF they might like to eat, since apparently seniors can get by on very little food and sleep. Or if they wanted to go anywhere at all, or just watch T.V.

I was put in mind of that Home Ec. exercise where they would give you a sack of sugar to care for as your "child." Imagine strapping an inert, opinionless human to your leg - that was the weekend.

And another thing, maybe the most important thing: our apartment is tiny. You have to duck your head in places. And most importantly, there is one bathroom. That links off of the kitchen. So that when everyone else is gathered there watching Ami make the meal that they really don't want her to go to the trouble of making, if I have to go pee then EVERYONE KNOWS AND WILL HEAR THE WHOLE THING. I'm a little self-conscious about it. And nothing drives me out of my mind more than not being able to go to the bathroom first thing in the morning. GET OUT OF THE GODDAM BATHROOM. A weekend with guests at our apartment makes me feel like we're the damn Anne Frank family hiding from the Green Police.

I KNOW I will go to hell for this. How could I not? But what will Hell be? HELL WILL BE SITTING IN MY LIVING ROOM TRYING TO MAKE SMALL TALK WITH OLD PEOPLE.

Let me be clear: I enjoy visiting with family. But is it a prickish thing to say that I'd prefer to visit some of them at their own residence?

Posted by Chris on 05/17/04

Punctuation Policy

My policy on "happy" punctuation: I am not one to pepper my sentences with happy exclamation points, but I WILL use complete sentences and correct grammar.

But if you are one of these people that are so busy that you can't be bothered to use nouns or even sign off like a human being, or if you communicate only in short, telegram-like utterances, then you are dead to me. You will receive no more of my punctuation. You know who you are.

Posted by Chris on 05/17/04

You realize, of course, that when a person says, "You know who you are," at minimun four innocent people who are not the person in question wonder if they are. And there is also only a 43-47% chance that the person in question, does in fact get the reference. I beg you to cease this kind of irresponsible blogging.

Posted by: is it me? at May 17, 2004 2:26 PM

But that's the point! EVERYONE should feel paranoid, and begin checking their messages for terseness!


Posted by: Chris at May 17, 2004 2:33 PM

Broadening the topic of communication, what's your policy on needless cutesy phrases and words when straightforward language will do? For example, saying or writing "24/7" when we mean "all the time".

Posted by: Isaac at May 18, 2004 10:14 AM

thx 4 the l33t nfo! i kno, is bd whn ppl dont use gud gramer. need hlp asap, i hlp u when u ask! :) ;) :)

Posted by: Grammar Guy at May 18, 2004 2:55 PM

Unless you are Prince or Stephen Hawking I think it's not too much to ask to spell out your words. Otherwise it's only a matter of time B4 we're all conversing just like the machines we use 2 converse.

Posted by: Chris at May 18, 2004 4:00 PM

May 14, 2004

"Revolve the Loaf" by Tyler J. Supermarkets

More wisdom from the Squarson A.I.:

Campbell R. Swearword said he wouldn’t live in America if Jesus was President.

Unbuckles H. Sexton sends "Fraternal greetings from the people's republic, darlin! :)"

Bookworm O. Constraint says that "the only sideeffect with Viagrax is that all the women in your city will want to get in the bed with u.."

Gonad K. Dallied asks "Did you know that fat women have a terrific sense of humour? Or that they are absolutely adorable? Oh yes, they are! And the most adorable and cheerful have decided to take part in our project!"

I'll spare you the details of the Gonad Project. Gonad goes on:

Still hesitating? Stop! And start enjoying!

From Competency Q. Gable: "What makes a housewife happy? At first these poor ladies thought the world was ruining. Until they have found a way to satisfy themselves, and give pleasure and satisfaction to their partners. The only problem was that their lovers were not their husbands! But as you’ll see, that’s not a problem anymore! Pleasure they are giving is all yours!"

The wisdom of Fathomless O. Specifications: "In the past, men created witches now they create mental patients."

And from Jekyll T. Unpleasant - "Landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed." Unpleasant then goes on to try to get me to visit his site, assuring me that "You are really anonymous!"

And the poem:

"Revolve the Loaf" by Tyler J. Supermarkets

Wally wanted: Upon upset worms, wipe not yet wipe slyly
Feminine the war demonstrated a poor child, well
Man lifts a close blade.
Until papers put down wordlessly, the day spills as tree,
Mice like failures break openly to entity, throwing out
When utterances hit in long torches, the utterance rots,
Disc had a war, which was not at all a rug.
Undoes invisibly, jokingly, like lamps striking, invisibly
Blue the linguist uncovered a smelly shade, negatively
For each case, yell of the beautiful cheese.
A page proves, cleaning woefully to a happy man,
Seduce the case! Revolve the loaf!
Pungent key as a blade cleans about the swell man,
Its corn went in the lizard of a bed.

Posted by Chris on 05/14/04

May 13, 2004

Space toys

Maybe Dr. Satcher will get to play with THIS little number, something I came across when Googling for him using "new" and "astronaut."

It looks like it might zap you a bit, though, if your lightsaber skilz aren't exactly mad. Your eyes can deceive you, Dr. Satcher - DON'T TRUST THEM.

OBLIGATORY BITCHING: Of course NASA is sitting on a goldmine with their little Personal Satellite Assistant, here - but do you think it would occur to anyone there to market it to the public - the non-floating version, of course - to maybe get the word out a bit? Nonsense. Utter poppycock! Nothing like this could EVER catch on!

Posted by Chris on 05/13/04

New Astronaut

Everyone loves a new astronaut, with that new astronaut smell!

Congratulations to is Dr. Robert L. Satcher, a surgeon from Chicago, and also the newest, bestest, coolest NASA ASTRONAUT.

I think in a time when it's a headline when someone is voted off of "American Idol," maybe we could spare a bit more ink for this guy. Because if you're an astronaut, you're basically the cream of the human crop. If NASA makes you an astronaut, it essentially means you're so good at what you do, that you could still do it upside down, or spinning in circles, or wearing uncomfortable flight suits, while the rest of us would be vomiting and begging to be let out.

You've got the good attitude, the great work ethic, you eat right, look good in a jumpsuit, can walk in heroic slow-motion towards the rocket with your buddies, and in short... you've got that elusive Stuff which is Right.

Congratulations to Dr. Satcher!

Posted by Chris on 05/13/04

Just the other day I thought we should have scientists and philosophers for our celebrities instead of plastic surgery enthusiasts.

When did astronauts switch over to orange spacesuits? It suggests the cosmonauts had it right all along.

Posted by: Isaac at May 13, 2004 3:51 PM

HA! I worked in his office at Children's Memorial for two weeks!

Posted by: friend jessica at May 14, 2004 2:31 PM

Really? And when he walked in the door, was it in a long, heroic slow motion shot? I don't want to hear anything bad.

Posted by: Chris at May 14, 2004 3:17 PM

May 12, 2004

This Blog, Safari Edition

Because Macintosh "Safari" browsers choose not to recognize the "absolute positioning" feature of stylesheets, (perhaps because of the immense security risk posed by elements of a webpage that aren't allowed to use relative positioning), therefore missing the delicate, exacting positioning of all the "fun" elements over on the left (the striking pictures, the comments, the handy calendar, the hilarious categories), I have created a special template for those of you using that browser to bookmark:

Safari-enabled blog.
(This link removed because lately I am basing the while template on tables. What you are viewing, friend, IS the Safari-enabled blog.)

Those of you with browsers that flagrantly ignore the positioning security breach will see no difference, but I assure you there are vast changes on a fundamental level. Namely, that the entire underlying firmament of the Safari-enabled blog has been shored up - BUTTRESSED, IF YOU WILL - with a reliable, security-sealed and time tested "table."

Posted by Chris on 05/12/04

I wonder to myself what;s wrong with the following:

#content {
#links {
padding: 15px;
width: 220px;
margin-top: 20px;
position: absolute;
left: 0px;
top: 0px;

Posted by: John at June 4, 2004 4:53 PM

May 11, 2004

All the spam

I could cut down on 90% of my email by just rejecting anything with the word "Viagra," but what if my friends are trying to contact me on some vital viagra-related matter?

What if my friends have discovered some breakthrough way to manage my debt from a Christian perspective?

What if they know of Hot Single Moms Just Waiting to Meet Me Now?

And, most alarmingly, what if they have a way of duplicating PSX2, DVD, and music CDs for just pennies a disk?

Posted by Chris on 05/11/04

Vampire Babe Rating: 7/10

My idea of the "Van Helsing" character is basically an elder retired professor advising younger men how exactly to do away with the Count. He doesn't so much do the running and jumping himself, he stays back at the manor and sharpens the stakes. Even Anthony Hopkins' turn in the role was a bit muscular for me. But! I'm always game to try something new, and the new "Van Helsing" looked to be a giant reunion of Universal monsters, and that could be fun.

Could have been, I said. I did not expect chills from this movie, but at least thrills. But no. Sadly, no. No.

The problems with the movie... are legion. It begins to unravel within minutes. There's not much to the story, no surprise there, but I also don't care much about the characters. And the CGI was laid on with a trowel. Computer Generated Image-wise, the movie is like a single fat-free cupcake with a wedding cake's worth of icing laquered on.

Do us a favor next time: dispense with the exposition entirely. Jesus Christ, it was like watching a porn film where you have to watch the studly pizza delivery man get the order, actually make the pizza, then go out to the car, verify directions, then make his way to the neighborhood with the house, and inside, FINALLY, the three blonds that are really really turned on by pizza deliverymen.

You could pick out the movies that Stephen Sommers cribbed from without straining, and in fact this is what I had to do to stay entertained. Yes, yes, he likes James Bond, so now Van Helsing is a 19th century James Bond working for the Vatican, complete with a secret Vatican "Q" branch run by monks. How clever.

Yes, yes, like nearly everyone else making fantasy movies right now, Sommers is unduly impressed by "Batman," which is to say, when the villain and hero finally meet there will be much talk of how their origins are intertwined. Dracula doesn't exactly say "I made you? You made ME!" at the climax, but he might as well have.

He was obviously taken with the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" as well, as he stuffs every movie monster except maybe the Invisible Man and the Creature from the Black Lagoon into the plot. And I was put in mind of "Return of the Jedi" a great deal, as Sommers uses Lucas's patented "battle on three fronts" set-up at the end, as well as a funeral pyre and ghostly apparitions of fallen comrades. He finds a way to work in his love for "Alien" films when Dracula and his brides have thousands of alien vampire babies that are stored in gooey, cobwebby egg sacs.

And, finally, although who could blame him, Sommers loved Francis Coppola's "Dracula." They really should have thanked Gary Oldman in the credits for Richard Roxburgh's performance.

And, the CGI. Wow. The problem with the CGI in the movie is the same with a lot of movies like this: they rely exclusively upon it for all effect.

Gravity is non-existent and everyone in the movie seems to be granted provisional superhero status. At one time or another, every single person in the movie is weightless. At one point a poor fellow is morphing into a werewolf (there is a lot of morphing in the movie), and he for some reason slides up a wall to the ceiling as he does so. No reason for it, except that they could.

If everyone can more or less fly, then it's not thrilling to see someone make a breathtaking swing across a chasm, for instance. I don't care if someone is going to fall, because I know they'll land lightly on their feet. Nor is there a need to worry about a character that has been punched in the face so hard that they fly through a wall - if it happens thirty times.

Remember the "Superman" tagline? "You will believe a man can fly." Well, I did, and I do, and I don't think it was just because that was a real man suspended by real wires. Chronic abusers of CGI should ask themselves if we will believe their vampire can really fly.

It fails on chills, thrills, story and character, so that leaves... the vampire babes. The brides of this Dracula rate a seven out of ten, ten being Monica Belluci & Co. in Coppola's "Dracula." Sommers again follows Coppola's lead by casting amazingly exotic European actresses as the brides, or the daughters, or whoever they are. One problem with the vampiresses: when they morph into harpy form, they also conveniently morph a set of modest full-body fur. What a shame.

The actors: Kate Beckinsale needs an injection of her former Shakespearean gravitas, STAT. She's done serious damage to herself with her latest vampire flicks. Who is she hanging out with that convinced her she wasn't alluring and sexy enough?

And the problem with casting Hugh Jackman as a dark loner! Looking for the secrets of his mysterious past! While fighting villains with amazing powers! is that he's really already done that. Twice. And very well. Sommers must have realized that on some dim level, but the decision to give Van Helsing a sensitive side does not come off at all.

Two stand-out annoyances:

1. We're in the Vatican Q Branch, and David Wenham as "Carl" the friar (Having fallen a long way from "Faramir" in Lord of the Rings, it seems) has been toying with a mysterious device that he has found. "It emits the light equal to that of the sun," he says. "But I don't know what it's for." YES. WHATEVER COULD SUCH A PLOT DEVICE BE USED FOR. OH WELL. WHY NOT BRING IT ALONG AS WE GO OFF TO FIGHT THE VAMPIRES.

2. The climactic battle between Dracula and the Van Werewolf. I don't mind so much the legend being rewritten so that Dracula can only be killed by a werewolf (sigh), but after all the CGI morphing into Maleficent the Dragon and flying away that Dracula has done throughout the movie, he chooses to follow Neo's Rules of Fighting for the climactic battle: Don't fly away, even if you can. Just stay on the ground and fight it out like a man.

Is this to be the CGI analog of the Marquis of Queensbury rules of fighting? No biting, no eye-gouging, all punches above the belt, and only sissies fly away. Now spit in your palm, shake, and go at it, boys.

Posted by Chris on 05/11/04

I so so so so wanted to love this movie, if only to preserve my love for Hugh Jackman, but as soon as I saw the 'too fluid movement' of Dr. Hyde, I was afraid we were doomed.

Indeed, I almost laughed aloud when Van Helsing said, with one Wolverine Eyebrow Raised:


We need a chorus of trumpets just then.

and...did you notice the subtle nod to wolverine at the end (or was that just another movie theft), when He turns into the werewolf and flicks his claws out with an audible SNIKT sound?

Come on everyone. COME ON!

Posted by: friend jessica at May 11, 2004 11:50 AM

I missed that reference, but now that I think about it, it could be nothing else.

Another bit of dialogue I'd put up there with WHO'S HUNTING WHOM is when we briefly pause the action for Kate Beckinsale to stare wistfully into the distance and remark how she's never seen the sea. Jesus.

Posted by: Chris at May 11, 2004 12:02 PM

May 10, 2004

Kickball report

Many people talk about playing the kickball, but some of us actually did something about it this weekend.

I have to say that going in I feared there would be those that took it too seriously, but this fear was quickly alleviated. However, perhaps I and my team ("The Mathletes") could have taken it a scintilla more seriously, as we were trounced by something like 25 to 0. So badly, in fact, that the opposing team didn't see the need in finishing the game with us. They tired of playing cat to our mouse after about seven innings of brutality.

My share of the blame is disproportionate: I missed a long kick by the other team to the outfield, in fact the only one to my part of the outfield, which resulted in a bases-clearing point bonanza for the other team. I marked that as the point when Mathlete morale truly plummeted. Sorry, team.

I plan to show up early next time to work on such skills as "catching" and "kicking."

It did not occur to me that a bunch of adults playing kickball - in a league! - would be seen as anything other than hilarious and goofy, until a friend urged me "to please not tell anyone" what I did this weekend. Too late - the word is out. I wonder how she'd feel if I told her I was thinking of organizing a Four-Square tournee?

Posted by Chris on 05/10/04

But you missed the best part of playing in a kickball league... The after-game BEER!!!

Couldn't really do that in 3rd grade. But it really helps to drown the sorrows of losing.

Make sure to follow through this weekend.

Posted by: Brian at May 11, 2004 9:15 AM

The silly thing was that I was headed up to the Davis theatre! If I'd remembered that The Wild Goose was literally just blocks away, I could have gone. WHY AM I SO STUPID. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID.

Posted by: Chris at May 11, 2004 10:38 AM

A thing of which I'll have no truck

People who begin an email or message board entry with "Ummmm..." or "Uhhhhh..."

This is the sign that the text to follow will be snarky, sarcastic, and superior, and should be skipped. Usually it has something to do with someone not following the precious posting rules on a message board, which followers of this irregular category will know is something also of which no truck shall have I.

Now that I'm about it, I also deny truck to all those that speak this way as well. Because it's certainly not confined to the electronic word.

Bottom line: Unless you are actually using "Ummmmm..." or "Uhhhh..." in its correct usage, which is to stall for time while you think of what you're supposed to say next, then it should not be employed at all.

Posted by Chris on 05/10/04

Well, sorry to pick such a tiny nit on my first trip here, but.

It's actually things WITH which you'll have no truck. Not "of."

I have no cite, unless you really, really need one. I'll dig one up somewhere. {sigh} :::runs off to find a cite for a phrase of which we are the only two possible users:::

Posted by: Michael at May 12, 2004 11:37 AM

NO NO NO - no cite needed. I believe you, I thank you, and am appropriately chastened. I declare this blog immune to all criticisms of its who / whom usage, however. THIS IS A WHO / WHOM-FREE ZONE!

Posted by: Chris at May 12, 2004 12:17 PM

Today's Statistic

Number of screwdrivers stored in office toolbox: 16

Number that still have the "bit": 4

Number of those bits conforming to either "Phillips" or "Flathead" specifications and not some sort of post-modern proprietary Alan-wrench configuration dreamed up by Compaq and useful only on one outmoded model of server: 1

Approximate size / spec of that one useful screwdriver: 1/32" (approximate) / Phillips

Size / spec of the one screw that needs to be removed in the first place: 1/4" / Flathead

Posted by Chris on 05/10/04

May 7, 2004

The Misunderestimated Man by Jacob Weisberg

Sorry to be a one-topic blog today, but occasionally an article comes around that is such a brilliant summation of what's going on, and so quote-worthy, that I want to have it up here in its entirety.

This is an article from Salon, "The Misunderestimated Man," which is taken from Jacob Weisberg's introduction to his book "The Deluxe Election-Edition Bushisms."

Here's the link, but this one is so well-written that I want it up here for future reference:

The Misunderestimated Man
How Bush chose stupidity.
by Jacob Weisberg

(Adapted from the introduction to The Deluxe Election-Edition Bushisms, published by Fireside Books/Simon & Schuster. Reprinted with permission; © 2004 Jacob Weisberg.)

The question I am most frequently asked about Bushisms is, "Do you really think the president of the United States is dumb?"

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is yes and no.

Quotations collected over the years in Slate may leave the impression that George W. Bush is a dimwit. Let's face it: A man who cannot talk about education without making a humiliating grammatical mistake ("The illiteracy level of our children are appalling"); who cannot keep straight the three branches of government ("It's the executive branch's job to interpret law"); who coins ridiculous words ("Hispanos," "arbolist," "subliminable," "resignate," "transformationed"); who habitually says the opposite of what he intends ("the death tax is good for people from all walks of life!") sounds like a grade-A imbecile.

And if you don't care to pursue the matter any further, that view will suffice. George W. Bush has governed, for the most part, the way any airhead might, undermining the fiscal condition of the nation, squandering the goodwill of the world after Sept. 11, and allowing huge problems (global warming, entitlement spending, AIDS) to metastasize toward catastrophe through a combination of ideology, incomprehension, and indifference. If Bush isn't exactly the moron he sounds, his synaptic misfirings offer a plausible proxy for the idiocy of his presidency.

In reality, however, there's more to it. Bush's assorted malapropisms, solecisms, gaffes, spoonerisms, and truisms tend to imply that his lack of fluency in English is tantamount to an absence of intelligence. But as we all know, the inarticulate can be shrewd, the fluent fatuous. In Bush's case, the symptoms point to a specific malady—some kind of linguistic deficit akin to dyslexia—that does not indicate a lack of mental capacity per se.

Bush also compensates with his non-verbal acumen. As he notes, "Smart comes in all kinds of different ways." The president's way is an aptitude for connecting to people through banter and physicality. He has a powerful memory for names, details, and figures that truly matter to him, such as batting averages from the 1950s. Bush also has a keen political sense, sharpened under the tutelage of Karl Rove.

What's more, calling the president a cretin absolves him of responsibility. Like Reagan, Bush avoids blame for all manner of contradictions, implausible assertions, and outright lies by appearing an amiable dunce. If he knows not what he does, blame goes to the three puppeteers, Cheney, Rove, and Rumsfeld. It also breeds sympathy. We wouldn't laugh at FDR because he couldn't walk. Is it less cruel to laugh at GWB because he can't talk? The soft bigotry of low expectations means Bush is seen to outperform by merely getting by. Finally, elitist condescension, however merited, helps cement Bush's bond to the masses.

But if "numskull" is an imprecise description of the president, it is not altogether inaccurate. Bush may not have been born stupid, but he has achieved stupidity, and now he wears it as a badge of honor. What makes mocking this president fair as well as funny is that Bush is, or at least once was, capable of learning, reading, and thinking. We know he has discipline and can work hard (at least when the goal is reducing his time for a three-mile run). Instead he chose to coast, for most of his life, on name, charm, good looks, and the easy access to capital afforded by family connections.

The most obvious expression of Bush's choice of ignorance is that, at the age of 57, he knows nothing about policy or history. After years of working as his dad's spear-chucker in Washington, he didn't understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, the second- and third-largest federal programs. Well into his plans for invading Iraq, Bush still couldn't get down the distinction between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, the key religious divide in a country he was about to occupy. Though he sometimes carries books for show, he either does not read them or doesn't absorb anything from them. Bush's ignorance is so transparent that many of his intimates do not bother to dispute it even in public. Consider the testimony of several who know him well.

Richard Perle, foreign policy adviser: "The first time I met Bush 43 … two things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was that he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much."

David Frum, former speechwriter: "Bush had a poor memory for facts and figures. … Fire a question at him about the specifics of his administration's policies, and he often appeared uncertain. Nobody would ever enroll him in a quiz show."

Laura Bush, spouse: "George is not an overly introspective person. He has good instincts, and he goes with them. He doesn't need to evaluate and reevaluate a decision. He doesn't try to overthink. He likes action."

Paul O'Neill, former treasury secretary: "The only way I can describe it is that, well, the President is like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people. There is no discernible connection."

A second, more damning aspect of Bush's mind-set is that he doesn't want to know anything in detail, however important. Since college, he has spilled with contempt for knowledge, equating learning with snobbery and making a joke of his own anti-intellectualism. ("[William F. Buckley] wrote a book at Yale; I read one," he quipped at a black-tie event.) By O'Neill's account, Bush could sit through an hourlong presentation about the state of the economy without asking a single question. ("I was bored as hell," the president shot back, ostensibly in jest.)

Closely related to this aggressive ignorance is a third feature of Bush's mentality: laziness. Again, this is a lifelong trait. Bush's college grades were mostly Cs (including a 73 in Introduction to the American Political System). At the start of one term, the star of the Yale football team spotted him in the back row during the shopping period for courses. "Hey! George Bush is in this class!" Calvin Hill shouted to his teammates. "This is the one for us!" As governor of Texas, Bush would take a long break in the middle of his short workday for a run followed by a stretch of video golf or computer solitaire.

A fourth and final quality of Bush's mind is that it does not think. The president can't tolerate debate about issues. Offered an option, he makes up his mind quickly and never reconsiders. At an elementary school, a child once asked him whether it was hard to make decisions as president. "Most of the decisions come pretty easily for me, to be frank with you." By leaping to conclusions based on what he "believes," Bush avoids contemplating even the most obvious basic contradictions: between his policy of tax cuts and reducing the deficit; between his call for a humble foreign policy based on alliances and his unilateral assertion of American power; between his support for in-vitro fertilization (which destroys embryos) and his opposition to fetal stem-cell research (because it destroys embryos).

Why would someone capable of being smart choose to be stupid? To understand, you have to look at W.'s relationship with father. This filial bond involves more tension than meets the eye. Dad was away for much of his oldest son's childhood. Little George grew up closer to his acid-tongued mother and acted out against the absent parent—through adolescent misbehavior, academic failure, dissipation, and basically not accomplishing anything at all until well into his 40s.

Dubya's youthful screw-ups and smart-aleck attitude reflect some combination of protest, plea for attention, and flailing attempt to compete. Until a decade ago, his résumé read like a send-up of his dad's. Bush senior was a star student at Andover and Phi Beta Kappa at Yale, where he was also captain of the baseball team; Junior struggled through with gentleman's C's and, though he loved baseball, couldn't make the college lineup. Père was a bomber pilot in the Pacific; fils sat out 'Nam in the Texas Air National Guard, where he lost flying privileges by not showing up. Dad drove to Texas in 1947 to get rich in the oil business and actually did; Son tried the same in 1975 and drilled dry holes for a decade. Bush the elder got elected to Congress in 1966; Shrub ran in 1978, didn't know what he was talking about, and got clobbered.

Through all this incompetent emulation runs an undercurrent of hostility. In an oft-told anecdote circa 1973, GWB—after getting wasted at a party and driving over a neighbor's trash can in Houston—challenged his dad. "I hear you're lookin' for me," W. told the chairman of the Republican National Committee. "You want to go mano a mano right here?" Some years later at a state dinner, he told the Queen of England he was being seated far away because he was the black sheep of the family.

After half a lifetime of this kind of frustration, Bush decided to straighten up. Nursing a hangover at a 40th-birthday weekend, he gave up Wild Turkey, cold turkey. With the help of Billy Graham, he put himself in the hands of a higher power and began going to church. He became obsessed with punctuality and developed a rigid routine. Thus did Prince Hal molt into an evangelical King Henry. And it worked! Putting together a deal to buy the Texas Rangers, the ne'er-do-well finally tasted success. With success, he grew closer to his father, taking on the role of family avenger. This culminated in his 1994 challenge to Texas Gov. Ann Richards, who had twitted dad at the 1992 Democratic convention.

Curiously, this late arrival at adulthood did not involve Bush becoming in any way thoughtful. Having chosen stupidity as rebellion, he stuck with it out of conformity. The promise-keeper, reformed-alkie path he chose not only drastically curtailed personal choices he no longer wanted, it also supplied an all-encompassing order, offered guidance on policy, and prevented the need for much actual information. Bush's old answer to hard questions was, "I don't know and, who cares." His new answer was, "Wait a second while I check with Jesus."

A remaining bit of poignancy was his unresolved struggle with his father. "All I ask," he implored a reporter while running for governor in 1994, "is that for once you guys stop seeing me as the son of George Bush." In his campaigns, W. has kept his dad offstage. (In an exceptional appearance on the eve of the 2000 New Hampshire primary, 41 came onstage and called his son "this boy.") While some describe the second Bush presidency as a restoration, it is in at least equal measure a repudiation. The son's harder-edged conservatism explicitly rejects the old man's approach to such issues as abortion, taxes, and relations with Israel.

This Oedipally induced ignorance expresses itself most dangerously in Bush's handling of the war in Iraq. Dubya polished off his old man's greatest enemy, Saddam, but only by lampooning 41's accomplishment of coalition-building in the first Gulf War. Bush led the country to war on false pretenses and neglected to plan the occupation that would inevitably follow. A more knowledgeable and engaged president might have questioned the quality of the evidence about Iraq's supposed weapons programs. One who preferred to be intelligent might have asked about the possibility of an unfriendly reception. Instead, Bush rolled the dice. His budget-busting tax cuts exemplify a similar phenomenon, driven by an alternate set of ideologues.

As the president says, we misunderestimate him. He was not born stupid. He chose stupidity. Bush may look like a well-meaning dolt. On consideration, he's something far more dangerous: a dedicated fool.

Posted by Chris on 05/ 7/04

I think it's clear: YOU. HATE. AMERICA.

Posted by: friend Jessica at May 7, 2004 3:10 PM

On the contrary, I'm looking forward to living under four more years! I love God, and hate science and vocabulary!

Posted by: Chris at May 7, 2004 4:11 PM


Posted by: friend jessica at May 7, 2004 4:15 PM

Golf is bad enough, but the president plays VIDEO GOLF. And he believes in angels (flying people). Isn't the electoral college designed to keep these "special" folk from getting elected?

Posted by: Isaac at May 10, 2004 1:53 PM

Isaac, answer this simple question


Posted by: friend jessica at May 10, 2004 2:19 PM

friend jessica, I might dislike the embarrassing dog's breakfast Bush Jr. has made of America but I love you, my foxy bitchy minx. And that's what this election should be about.

Posted by: Isaac at May 10, 2004 3:27 PM

Another one bites the dust

Do you know that argument that goes, "it doesn't really matter if they find WMDs in Iraq or not, because Saddam and Uday and Qusay had TORTURE chambers over there! They had rooms where they would sexually abuse people! THAT'S why we were really there! To stop that sort of brutality!"

You've heard people resort to that line of reasoning too? O.K., just checking.

Posted by Chris on 05/ 7/04

My favorite Bush-apologist response is, "You'd prefer it if Sadam Hussein were still in power?!" Because taking out one bad guy with irresponsible facial hair is worth the lives of 760 servicemenandwomen and countless newly liberated Iraqis.

Lord Tom McNally, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, put it best:

"If you wander away from the rule of law to fight a war, don't be surprised if your troops also wander away from international law."

Posted by: Isaac at May 7, 2004 2:10 PM


I try to avoid critiquing Instapundit's posts, because I also critique James Lileks' posts, and after awhile it feels like I'm just another person shouting in the big Blog Echo Chamber. But this is pretty egregious: He quotes his fellow blogger Donald Sensing on the call for Rumsfield's resignation:

Long-time readers of this blog know that I have no membership card of the Donald Rumsfeld fan club.

But the calls for his head are both idiotic and deceptive. . . .

Deceptive because Rummy is taking the fire, but Bush is the target. A more purely partisan, crass, politically-motivated campaign I have never seen. And yes, I include the Ken Starr investigation.

The Dems' hot rhetoric will backfire, I think. Look for Kerrey's numbers to drop.

Am I reading that correctly? Let me see if I can parse this: The call for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation... over the torture of Iraqi prisoners... is purely partisan and politically-motivated... moreso than the Kenneth Starr investigation of Bill Clinton's extramarital affair?

OK, I just wanted to make sure I got it right.

It's interesting: at least he puts the Starr Investigation in the category of purely partisan and politically-motivated actions. But one can't help but feel a certain lack of... oh, let's call it perspective here.

Folks, it's hard to know what the view from history is going to be like, but let's step back and try to imagine that view for a moment. When future historians turn to the "Week of May 2nd" chapter in their virtual books, they will see that some people were talking about torture... and some other people were finding the very talk of holding someone responsible for that torture all very political and partisan.

And I hope that they find it a bit amusing and quaint... since by that time the very words "Starr Investigation" will have become a catch-phrase for multi-million dollar partisan fishing expeditions which go on for years and result in the revelation of nothing very much... something which is summed up in another catch-phrase they'll use in the future, a "Monica."

Posted by Chris on 05/ 7/04

I appreciated what Mr. Bush said in his rebuke to the Defensive Secretary: he told Rumsfeld that he should have been told there were photos.

Pretty telling. Four months ago they told Mr. Bush there was torture going on. If they'd told him there were embarrassing photos too, he would have lept into action back then. But he waited, probably did a bit of landscaping like he did in August 2001.

This one's not worth getting the right-wing viewpoint. Their shills have been downplaying the homo-erotic torture as something akin to fraternity pranks. They overlook the fact that the insecure men who join fraternities pay and consent to their dry-buggering and homo-erotic humiliation.

Posted by: Isaac at May 7, 2004 2:00 PM

Sorry to hog blog here but another point flowed into my afternoon mind. Rumsfeld suggested the Geneva Conventions are outdated back at the start of the invasion. He should be fired.

Even if Bush grew bollocks and fired the man, he'd probably show up in some future administration. Remember efforts to bring back Kissinger, Poindexter, North,etc. I think that's what they mean by born-again.

Posted by: Isaac at May 7, 2004 2:16 PM

Supersize Me

Of course, we all have the information about junk food. No one is willing to make a case for how healthy it can be except for a lawyer or a McDonald's CEO. But still people go and eat there.

I am definitely one of those people, but I have not been back to a McDonald's since seeing "Supersize Me" in January. I also started going to the gym. Was it this movie that pushed me into action? Definitely.

The brilliant part of this documentary is that in addition to all the humorous criticism and perspective, it also tells the truth about McDonalds: and the truth is that their food TASTES GREAT. Their food is AWESOME. I could go ALL THE TIME. It's bad for me, I have all the facts, I know that we're one of the fattest countries around, and no, I haven't been there in months. BUT - that doesn't mean I'm not thinking of going today.

The flip side of this - and another thing that's great about the film- is the way it reveals how the "healthy" foods are so comparatively bland. I'm sorry, it's true. When the vegan girlfriend prepares a "last healthy meal" for filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, and when she is later preparing a "detox" diet, my thought was, yick.

This to me is the masterstroke of the movie. I appreciate people getting the information about healthy eating out there, but it pisses me off when they act like the choice is easy. Big Mac, or a cup of rice? Give me a break.

Coda: I don't want to come across like a born-again healthy person here. I may not have been back to McDonald's, but I HAVE been back to Metro's Pizza (source of the best pizza in the world, if that kind of thing interests you), Leona's for their wings, I discovered a place that sells Krispy Kreme near me, and various other restaurants.

So do I still eat junk food? Yes - but not NEARLY as often. More like as a Friday reward. But not every Friday. And not at McDonald's.

Posted by Chris on 05/ 7/04

brother, if loving a bowl of rice is wrong, i don't wanna be right...get me?

Posted by: friend jessica at May 7, 2004 11:41 AM

May 6, 2004

Change is good

Look, new color, new picture, and new category link-thingy at the bottom of the entries that have been categorized.

Posted by Chris on 05/ 6/04

What, no prayer? This blog should be led with a prayer, how else am I to follow a moral compass?

Posted by: Isaac at May 6, 2004 4:26 PM

May 5, 2004

Review: Godsend

I was so so excited about "Godsend." It looked to be another movie in the devil-child genre, movies which invariably scare me because of my natural fear of devil-children.

To be fair, I DID experience a slowly mounting horror during this film - but not in the way that the filmmakers wanted. Damned if they didn't expose their near-complete lack of understanding of what cloning or genetics is or can be; a real shame, since the plot basically hinges on it.

Watch this movie if only for the purely ridiculous, completely ludicrous scene in the church where the De Niro character - after rather implausibly suffering a man-handling from Greg Kinnear - reveals the true villainry he's been up to in the genetics lab. He may as well have turned to the camera and said "This plot resolution wouldn't have passed muster in a $16,000 Roger Corman film from the sixties. Please forgive me for uttering these words."

I can think of eight ways that the movie could have been rewritten to make it, if not good, then at least a loosely connective series of plot points, which is more than the "Godsend" folks could. This is the kind of movie that actually lowers the stock of the good actors involved.

Posted by Chris on 05/ 5/04

Wow II

Someone just sent me a report from Drudge, that cites a doctor who believes he treated Kerry for wounds back in Vietnam, one of the three for which he received his Purple Hearts:

The story he told was different from what his crewmen had to say about that night. According to Kerry, they had been engaged in a fire fight, receiving small arms fire from on shore. He said that his injury resulted from this enemy action.

Some of his crew confided that they did not receive any fire from shore, but that Kerry had fired a mortar round at close range to some rocks on shore. The crewman thought that the injury was caused by a fragment ricocheting from that mortar round when it struck the rocks.

That seemed to fit the injury which I treated.

What I saw was a small piece of metal sticking very superficially in the skin of Kerry's arm. The metal fragment measured about 1 cm. in length and was about 2 or 3 mm in diameter. It certainly did not look like a round from a rifle. I simply removed the piece of metal by lifting it out of the skin with forceps. I doubt that it penetrated more than 3 or 4 mm. It did not require probing to find it, did not require any anesthesia to remove it, and did not require any sutures to close the wound.

The wound was covered with a bandaid.

Now, look: I'll be the first to say it always gets a bit silly when candidates start comparing where they were during the Vietnam War. I'd be willing to completely avoid that topic and concentrate just on what these guys stand for today and what they've done as politicians. But since THEY brought it up...

Is military service really the battle a Republican wants to be making on this president's behalf? For all I know Kerry DID exaggerate - or even lie! - about the source of this particular wound. But the fact remains that he DID go to Vietnam while Bush was allowed to take a post in a service I would consider to be the rich man's son's equivalent of fleeing to Canada.

Something the White House still hasn't been able to prove that he did.

No offense against National Guardsmen - but it's not exactly the same thing as crawling around rice paddies in Cam Ranh hoping Charlie hasn't set up a trip-wire.

Posted by Chris on 05/ 5/04

Please say it wasn't Uncle Twiggs that sent you that! SAY IT!

Posted by: Concerned at May 5, 2004 1:53 PM

It wasn't. Uncle Twiggs has a more reasonable point of view.

Posted by: Chris at May 5, 2004 2:08 PM

Why I haven't seen Uncle Twiggs since back when Christ was a lance corporal.

:: chewin' on a hayseed::

Posted by: friend jessica at May 5, 2004 2:17 PM

Wow II indeed. Kerry must be evil if he was plotting fake war hero stories so he could run for president thirty years later.

I'm surprised anyone still reads gossip queen Drudge. How can he type with all that egg still covering his face from the retouched Kerry/Fonda photos and his pro-war stance?

And yes this is a battle the Republicans want to make because Bush's AWOL National Guard draft-dodging, sad as it is, is actually better than his record on the economy, jobs, foreign policy, the environment, terrorism and combing his hair. Bait and switch.

But hey, this is beside the point. Has either man considered cheating on his wife? There's the real issue.

Posted by: Isaac at May 5, 2004 3:04 PM

Which candidate LOVES THE LORD MORE.

Posted by: friend jessica at May 6, 2004 11:00 AM

The Party Shuffle

Can someone explain to me what functionality the "Party Shuffle" playlist adds in the 4.5 version of iTunes?

Posted by Chris on 05/ 5/04

In light of recent political and international events, Apple, who is guided by one Steve Jobs, CEO of another Pixar, oft-partner of Disney, thought it only appropriate to build functionality into iTunes 4.5 that would allow for "Party-specific" music.

For example, Republicans can rest easy, as that Nelly tune you downloaded for your girlfriend is swiftly filtered into your "Left Box", freeing your playlist for more conservative airlplay when collegues from your insurance office come over for Chardonay and Catch Phrase. No more embarrassing bass when your financial advisor comes over for a portfolio bull session!

Posted by: Pete at May 7, 2004 5:22 PM


I would have thought a better way to kill a film would have been to give it a measly release in N.Y. and L.A. only - not let it become a news story about corporate censorship.

Michael Moore story on

Michael Moore story in NY Times

Posted by Chris on 05/ 5/04

May 4, 2004

The Great Saucytalk Experiment

Some random thoughts about the premiere this last Sunday:

  1. If people would just make a point of regularly telling me that I'm funny, we wouldn't have to go through these little plays for attention every two years or so. Think of all the effort and expense that could be spared.

  2. Is it possible I could make a career out of making movies and only showing them to close friends? They're so much more forgiving. Note to self: Look into it - get some figures together.

  3. I sat in the stage manager's booth in the back and my hand did not leave the volume slider all night. I ALONE CONTROLLED THE SOUND LEVEL, which is how I would prefer to go through all of life.

  4. The hours leading up to premiere were a stark example of how the ordeal I went through to secure the theatre - though it seemed at the time a vast, epically noisy saga full of pain and fire and explosions - was apparently a private, very quiet affair that went unnoticed by many.

    Shocking, but true.

    For though getting the theatre was a subject of much interest to me, it barely registered with others. This stands for around four separate conversations I had that morning:

    ANY OF FIVE SEPARATE PEOPLE: Hey, it's _________ calling. Yeah, where was this place again where the movie's going to be?

    ME: (After a moment of stunned disbelief, because how can they not have this information imprinted permanently on their brain, after all I've gone through to secure this venue, all the unreturned calls, the heartbreak, the loss, the disappointment) Well, it's actually at Chicago Actor's Studio, which is... (I pause unnecessarily, as if to look up the information, trying to act casual, as if I don't have it memorized) located at 1567 N. Milwaukee.

    ANY OF FIVE SEPARATE PEOPLE: Wait - it's not at the Three Penny? I thought it was at the Three Penny!

    ME: (Careful not to speak through clenched teeth, because number one that's bad for your dental work, and number two this thing is supposed to be fun, and if I snap at this person then that would hardly be fun, and C, they're just not on my wavelength, they're just not on my wavelength, keep reminding yourself that they're just not on your wavelength, and that's OK) Actually, no. Did you not get the email I sent out? I mean, any of the last two emails? I thought you replied to one of them!

    ANY OF FIVE SEPARATE PEOPLE: I guess I didn't read it. Bummer! I've been telling people for weeks and weeks that it's at the Three Penny. Oh well!

    ME: (Not so much saying "I DON'T EVEN KNOW IF THIS PLACE WILL BE UNLOCKED WHEN I GET THERE TONIGHT BUT YOU'RE JUST GOING TO FLOUNCE RIGHT IN FIVE MINUTES LATE," instead saying:) Yeah! I guess the Three Penny will get some extra business tonight! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    What am I to make of this? That whole battles rage beneath this calm brow that people know not of? Is it possible that not everyone is aware of my internal struggles? That not everyone reads this blog faithfully every day? I was under the impression that I was a bit of a complainer. But could it be that in fact I am not complaining loudly enough?

  5. The movie was the first I've done that includes the "saucy talk" the kids are using so much these days. I'm no Michael Medved about counting curse words, but I feel sure it would take at least two hands to ennumerate the ones I put in there. I did it for a reason and stand by the Bad Words: I wanted it to sound like the way people - well, the people I know - actually talk when they get together.

    But did it feel weird when I saw that someone had brought youngsters to the show? Yes. Did I specifically not invite the parents to see this? Yes.

    Posted by Chris on 05/ 4/04

    I am going to misuse this comment area, and ignore the topic at hand in order to criticize the remodeling going on here. WHAT THE HECK?! Why is everything after your first entry so small and hard to read? Why is your left sidebar now at the bottom of the page? Why do you hate me and my blog-reading needs?

    Posted by: John at May 4, 2004 12:17 PM

    I blame myself. HTML / stylesheets for Safari is a rarified skill I haven't mastered yet.

    Dare I compare Safari to that one really slow-witted person you have to re-explain the joke to over and over until it's not funny anymore?

    Posted by: Chris at May 4, 2004 1:29 PM

    fight! fight!

    sorry i was late. well ... not REALLY late. i mean: it was dark, but you hadn't made the introduction, yet... if it makes you feel better: a) i didn't call you. b) i do faithfully read your blog. c) i had obstructed viewing and still enjoyed it. d) i'd still like to get a copy. e) did i mention you're a funny guy?


    Posted by: kjk at May 4, 2004 2:54 PM

    Wait. I thought the premiere is NEXT weekend at the ThreePenny. I'm Looking forward to it.

    Posted by: Isaac at May 5, 2004 10:00 AM

    Sooooo many swears.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 5, 2004 10:35 AM

    It sure was nice of your friend Thomas to travel ALL the way from NY to see your movie. When you see him, tell him I said what a lovely blouse.

    Carol Anne

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