May 31, 2005

Last Ride

Yesterday we stopped by the Honda place and promised to send them a lot of money every month for years if they'd give us one of their new cars. Cars are not really a big deal to us, thank God, but everyone loves that new car smell, and actually we HAD to do it. The old Tercel's tag would have expired tomorrow, and it was never going to pass California's smog tests.

The Honda people graciously accepted the '92 Tercel on trade-in for $100. I say graciously even with that paltry amount because it would have cost a lot more to hang on to it and try to figure out what to do about an aging Tercel I had no parking spot or tag for.

To say I was a bit sad while we were doing this would be an understatement. I loved my little red car. It must have been showing all over my face at the dealership because Ami kept asking me if I was OK. I WAS OK, but the kind of OK where I'd be OK only if nobody asked me if I was OK. During the financing section I realized they'd need the car title, which was back at home, so I went to get it while Ami stayed behind - I wanted to take a last ride. (Unfortunately by the time I got back, most everyone in the dealership knew I was not OK, which made it all the harder.)

How many places had that little car taken me? Cross country, twice. For two seasons it knew the road between Yellowstone and Jackson Hole so well I could let go of the wheel and arrive safely. I fit the props and set for an entire theatre production in its back seat one summer, shuttling them back and forth from suburbs to Chicago every weekend. From Roselle to Chicago a thousand times. More than a few times almost the length of I-65 to see family, always with a stop in Indiana to get a speeding ticket. Early on, following too close gave it a slight bend in its hood in Birmingham, but luckily it came after my full-on Destructive Period in driving; it had taken a Jetta and a Mazda truck to teach me to keep a few car lengths between me and the next guy. The Tercel had been a graduation present - Mom and Dad had given me a copy of Dr. Suess's "Oh, The Places You'll Go" and taped to the last page was the key.

So, after 13 years and 139,609 miles we drove away and left the little red car there. I'd had to install about four right headlights on it for some reason. The back left speaker wire had torn off because the stereo guy in Montana did such a shitty job. I'm convinced the red paint they used on Toyotas in '92 was from the dregs of the barrel, because I've never seen a paint (even of such advanced age) dull so much, and so uniformly on other Toyotas of that year. The guys at Reliable in Chicago put two new alternators in it. The brakes had started to make that scary scraping sound. But what a car - I'd have driven it until it stopped.

Posted by Chris on 05/31/05

I know that feeling as well.

My first "real" car was a '71 VW Beetle. I LOVED that car. I was far too big to be comfortable in it, but I didn't care. I loved to drive it with the windows down and the stereo up. I had it for 2 summers at Cedar Point (an amusement park on the beach of Lake Erie). People in other beetles beeped at me as if to say "hi... I'm a beetle too!" It was great!

I was furious when some wannabe Beastie Boy stole the hood ornament off of it in my college's parking lot that was over a mile from my dorm. I fumed all the way back to my room, called the campus police, then called the city police since the campus jag-holes were of no help.

The sadest day for me was not the day that I had to sell it for a more reliable car. Instead, it was 2 weeks later when I found out that the 16 year-old that bought it from me had totaled it.

That car was 20 years old at the time. A Classic.

I miss my little bug. And I feel for you, Chris.

Posted by: Big Fat Brian at May 31, 2005 12:54 PM

I drove a bug for a while too! After the totalled Jetta, before Tercel.

I inquired as casually as possible what would happen to the Tercel after the trade-in, even though I was sure I knew. The Honda man said it was "going bye-bye." He could have at least taken off his hat when he said it. He could have at least worn a hat so he could take it off when he said it.

Posted by: Chris at May 31, 2005 1:25 PM

My first car was an 81 Plymouth Horizon. I did a lot of work on it when I had it, about 4 years. It was a ten hour drive from home to college, and never once did it die en route. That had to be about 4-5 round trips per year. Not bad. Sure, while I was there @ college, or home for the summers, he gave me many issues. But I had pride in my little junker. His name was George Wonker, and he was a good kid. All of my friends had a fondness for him too. I ended up selling him to a coworker, who then later bounced his check to me. He claimed I sold him a lemon. I thought my price was fair, with the incredible amount of work I put into him. I took the guy to court and I won, but never saw my bucks! I don't know what happened to my silver and maroon buddy after that. I am sure he is resting in peace (or pieces). So my heart also goes out to you Chris, but the memories will make it ok; eventually.

Posted by: klugula at May 31, 2005 4:33 PM

I wish I'd known you did work on cars before we left! Why did you hide that from me?

Posted by: Chris at June 1, 2005 12:17 PM

Forgive me, for I have misled you. I reread my notes. "I" did not personally do the work, for the various mechanics, with their grimy hands and knowledge of all things mechanical, performed the operations. "I" was meant to state that I had to get alot of work done on my little car. Me, fixing cars? You've got to be kidding? I can barely turn on the DVD player w/out instructions. Oy.

Posted by: klugula at June 1, 2005 1:12 PM

I remember the day you got that car - the keys neatly tucked into the back of a Dr. Suess book. Ah - the memories.

Posted by: Vickery Salomone at June 2, 2005 9:21 AM

In fact I think you were the one that secretly moved it into place!

Posted by: Chris at June 2, 2005 10:17 AM

Let's Curb Our Dogs

Spotted in the neighborhood: A pile of dog poop on someone's lawn, and a sign planted right behind it offering $200 to anyone who can name the owner of the dog.

He's mad as hell and not going to take any more crap.

Posted by Chris on 05/31/05

What if I claimed to be the rogue pooper? Would I still get the $200?

Posted by: Big Fat Brian at May 31, 2005 1:07 PM

My legal opinion is yes. But at what cost? This pile of poop has been on this guy's lawn as Exhibit A for quite a few days. I pity the fool that steps forward!

Posted by: Chris at May 31, 2005 1:16 PM

May 29, 2005

Adam McKay wants to know...

What were we fighting over again? In the Huffington Post:

Now where have we lost each other? I'm baffled. We all support the troops, want our nation to do well, love the children, love nature, love a good pitcher's duel, love the TV show Amazing Race and we all love black lab puppies and a good Burrito or the movie Tootsie... So why are some of us "liberal gay hippies" and others "Cracker Racist Fascists?"

Posted by Chris on 05/29/05

I'm in trouble here. I've never seen Tootsie OR the Amazing Race.

I'm a cracker hippie.

Posted by: friend jessica at May 31, 2005 10:03 AM

Yes, avoid Tootsie at all costs. Why would you see such a pile of crap? $200 to anyone who can name the owner of that pile of crap. I spit on Tootsie.

Posted by: Chris at May 31, 2005 12:31 PM


Posted by: Chris at May 31, 2005 12:32 PM

Oh, thanks for the shout out, Christopher. Hollar back to your "peeps", as well.

Posted by: Just Pete at June 7, 2005 1:33 PM

May 27, 2005

Won't someone save the Hentai girls?

A brief review of the some 800 pieces of spam waiting for me in my email box:

  • Terrible, I mean AWFUL things are happening to the Hentai girls. How did things ever get so bad for them?

  • In my absence, the college girls have apparently not found self control. No big surprises there.

  • I can now meet PPL in my area, which is just great!

  • In addition to the ubiquitous Jackrabbit Vibrator and many Rolex offers, there is also an ominous thing called THE EXTENDER out there that I could buy. This sounds like the kind of thing you'd use to reach items on a high shelf, which is no doubt why they say it will being such pleasure to the lady of the house.

  • I have been asked to "Please confirm everything." I feel this is a pretty tall order and am going to need a few days on the "Atlantis" portion alone.

    Posted by Chris on 05/27/05

    and of course, I'll be receiving a writing credit on that Atlantis joke, no?

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 27, 2005 12:28 PM

    I THOUGHT I CAME UP WITH THE ATLANTIS PART. Let's not let this turn into some "legal" thing over who said what to whom. Let's just admit, it's quite the joke and God's blessings on everyone involved.

    Posted by: Chris at May 27, 2005 1:17 PM
  • Revenge of the Sith

    I'm sure Lucasfilm and the entire blog universe is dying for me to weigh in on this movie, so here goes.

    What a thrill. In a way this movie could almost stand alone as a prequel to the original trilogy. Anakin's dilemma is laid out neatly, and for the first time we truly get to see not only his conflict but some unmistakable examples of how bad he will become. This was the guy that could destroy a planet, torture a princess, and freeze a man in carbonite and make him a big worm's wall-hanging.

    In a movie filled with thousands of details, there were still some that stuck out. For the first time after a spaceship explodes I saw a body floating away in the debris. The little vulture-droids in the exciting, lengthy, and uncharacteristic opening scene were a great idea. I liked the way General Grievous's whirring lightsabers gouged scars in the deck. I liked how a crowd of the "mouse" robots that crawl the floor were scooting to get away from Vader when he showed up to clean house in one scene.

    The last two films have had ups and downs, but a definite constant has been how solid Ian McDiarmid is, and this is his movie. The scenes with the Chancellor manipulating Anakin are the best. I've wondered just how Palpatine would transform into the Emperor we know and love, and the moment he made his move, revealing his true day job to Anakin (I'm not just a client of the Sith, I'm also their Dark Lord!) and then telling Mace Windu to STEP OFF in a big way, was fabulous. Worth everything in the movie. I loved the way the big moment with Mace, Anakin and Palpatine echoed the big moment of the entire series in "Jedi."

    If there is one overall thing I would change in the last three films it would be the tendency towards bringing old characters back to tie everything together. I seem to remember that the droids were always going to be a constant, but to give them an origin in common with the central character makes them too prominent, I think, and raises continuity questions that could be avoided. And I am just as thrilled as anyone to see Chewbacca onscreen again, but having him know Yoda somehow shrinks the Star Wars universe. I enjoy that little Luke gets dropped off on Tantoine (obviously the absolute center of the Universe, despite what he will think later) in front of a familiar double sunset, and that the droids end up on the very ship we first met them on, but I didn't need for this film to take me right to the very doorstep of "New Hope."

    Still, the movie delivers on scenes that any true fan or geek has wondered about for years, and that's no small feat. The big Obi Wan v. Anakin duel was not a disappointment. And I will always count hearing James Earl Jones' voice at the end as one of the big movie thrills of all time.

    CODA: I think Lucas is uber-savvy to deny that the film is a commentary on current politics, and I believe him, but when one of the Emperor's lines is exactly the same thing that Tom Delay once said, and when a climactic battle takes place in the very house of government, literally dismantling the Senate... come on.
    Posted by Chris on 05/27/05

    I found the opening scene to be just a little bit too Michael Bay Action Movies for my taste. I love R2, and I think he's cuter than all get out...but the whole bruhaha with the communicator being too loud, and him hiding and fighting with other droids and the quippy one liners from ObiWan and Anakin had me nervous that the rest of the movie would flat out suck.

    But I did get goosebumps at the end when Beru was holding baby Luke on that planet.

    The only thing that could have brought it all home was if someone had gone to the Tashi system for some power converters.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 27, 2005 11:26 AM

    The opening scenes did all have a very loose feel to them, unlike the stately sort of introductions he's done in the past. But I have to admit I liked it, despite the fact that Artoo has developed yet OTHER powers - the ability to hop out of his spaceship seat, and spurt oil.

    What if the very secret of cheating death that Palpatine spoke of had to do with power converters found only at Tashi Station? What if the man he spoke of was none other than Biggs? Now THAT would have been tying it together.

    Posted by: Chris at May 27, 2005 11:35 AM

    I was particularly sad when li'l R4 got his head blown off, which leads me to my call for protective droid sheilds on these space cars!

    And also, do you think they made Ewan McGregor "Red Leader" because his uncle was Red Leader in A New Hope?

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 27, 2005 11:53 AM

    I agree regarding Ian McDiarmid, it was great to see him take a larger portion of the story and bring his full weight to bear. His voice is like evil honey.

    Lucas was right: this is the one everyone wanted to see all along. Seeing the Republic crumble and the jedi slaughtered I was struck with the feeling I no longer wanted to see it; I wanted the happy Republic back again.

    I like the echoes in the series, whether it's a repeated camera angle coupled with a particular action (Palpatine crouching over burned Vader reminded me of Obi Wan crouching over beaten-up Luke in IV) or entire sequences repeated. I also like that a later film subtley alters the meaning of moments in earlier films.

    Overall, it was clever having IV-VI first because we identified with the rebels. Seeing I-III and the birth of Empire makes the series quite a relevant and cautionary myth for our times.

    Seeing it in a red state, Chris, was there an outcry of 'liberal bias' that the sith have red lightsabres and the jedi have blue?

    Posted by: simon, not isaac at May 27, 2005 12:32 PM

    How DARE you add a coda???

    What line are you talking about?

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 27, 2005 12:43 PM


    I DID see it in a Red State, but fortunately no thematic breakdown of the film was requested or offered.

    Posted by: Chris at May 27, 2005 1:20 PM

    May 25, 2005

    In Medias Hiatus

    Returning to LA tomorrow after a tour of the Southland; expect many new innovations for air travel in this space.

    Posted by Chris on 05/25/05

    You tease...

    Posted by: Foley at May 26, 2005 12:18 PM

    May 18, 2005


    Going on hiatus for a week, probably, as we take a vacation.

    Everybody enjoy the movie...

    Posted by Chris on 05/18/05

    Wait, Chris, the oven! Did you turn the oven off?

    Enjoy the southern hospitality, but don't convert. That's the dark side down there.

    Posted by: isaac at May 19, 2005 7:18 AM

    Enjoy the vacation!

    Posted by: Foley at May 19, 2005 12:26 PM

    Is this about creative differences? Is Fox not paying you enough??

    Posted by: Just Pete at May 19, 2005 8:15 PM



    Posted by: friend jessica at May 25, 2005 8:21 AM


    Posted by: Ben B at May 25, 2005 1:57 PM

    Let's get some perspective

    In these divided times of nuclear options and unending conflict, perhaps what we all need is a little perspective. And Jeff Russell is the man to provide it.

    He's not afraid to ask the hard questions, like: Which is bigger, the spaceship from "V," or the Federation space dock?

    God bless you, Jeff. If you're going to geek out, this is the way to do it.

    Posted by Chris on 05/18/05

    I just ate my own head.

    Posted by: rich at May 18, 2005 7:55 AM

    Which no doubt was only 1/750,000,000,000,000,000,000 the size of the "Centauri Primus" ship from "Babylon 5."

    Posted by: Chris at May 18, 2005 8:00 AM

    What about the Imperial Star Destroyer? Or better yet, the Death Star?

    Posted by: Foley at May 18, 2005 11:10 AM

    Stop it! All of you! I cannot fathom such things!

    Posted by: at May 18, 2005 2:16 PM

    What about the Nostromo? or the Sulaco?

    Posted by: at May 18, 2005 2:17 PM

    I have seen all of these craft of which ye spake on the site, Foley and The Nameless One.

    Posted by: Chris at May 18, 2005 4:35 PM

    That was me. I guess I did not see that it did not take my id! Hmmm. Some sort of conspiracy.

    Posted by: klugula at May 19, 2005 8:25 AM

    I was surprised to see vessels from Macross (Robotech in the U.S.) It took me from being the thirty-something geek right back to a seventh-grade geek.

    Posted by: isaac at May 19, 2005 10:38 AM

    Well, I can honestly say that no one else that visits this site could be self-described as a geek;)

    Posted by: Foley at May 19, 2005 12:28 PM

    May 17, 2005

    The Moral Clarity Merit Badge

    Troop 156 descended into a rocky, arid valley. Heat radiated in wavering lines off the stones. A tiny stream struggled through mud, brackish and thick.

    Scout Nonny Marrs, on point for the Troop, looked at the map, then his compass, and then pointed to a rocky "clearing" a few yards away. "That's the rendezvous point right over there!" he said.

    Scoutmaster Phil doubted it. There was nothing in this little valley but scrub and stinging bugs, and not a picnic table or fire-pit in sight. Oh, well. It looked like Nonny wouldn't be earning his Map Skills merit badge today after all.

    "THIS isn’t it!" whined Timmy Mapleson. "We're nowhere NEAR the picnic site!"

    Phil had to move quick. These boys were hungry and tired, and all it took was one to start sniveling before they all joined in. He was reaching to take the map out of Nonny's hands when he noticed the boy's compass. Suddenly everything was clear.

    "Oh, NOW I get it," said Scoutmaster Phil. "Nonny, you led us here using your MORAL compass!"

    Nonny looked down at the compass with surprise. "Well of all the-!"

    The rest of the troop gathered around to look. Instead of the four cardinal directions, the needle of the Moral Compass was spinning around a single word: "RIGHT."

    Soon the rest of the troop were laughing and slapping each other on the back, their hunger forgotten.

    "Well, look at it this way," said Timmy. "We may not be in the 'correct' place, but at least we're in the place that FEELS the best!"

    The End.

    Posted by Chris on 05/17/05

    Scott McClellan Drives a Sunset Orange Pearl-Colored Honda Element

    Maybe another advantage offered by a coat of Sunset Orange Pearl on your car is that it keeps you from exploding out of the sheer irony of your own stupidity.

    White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the discredited Newsweek story about interrogators at Guantanamo Bay desecrating a Muslim Holy book

    “has done damage to our image abroad and it has done damage to the credibility of the media and Newsweek in particular. People have lost lives. This report has had serious consequences.”

    But Keith Olbermann at MSNBC speaks for the trees when he says:

    Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about ‘media credibility,’ I strain to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press room and called on him all those times.

    Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing to damage to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will - and at what human cost.

    How much do they pay McClellan to stand in front of them with stuff like this? He should be wearing those neon black-and-yellow stickers on his head like a crash test dummy.

    Posted by Chris on 05/17/05

    May 16, 2005

    Sunset Orange Pearl

    Is there a more unfortunate color for a car than this orange I'm seeing these days on Honda Elements? It's called "Sunset Orange Pearl," and like most ill-advised auto colors, it seems to be based partially on baby poop.

    Please tell me that the paint somehow converts sunlight to electricity, or deflects police radar, or resists all forms of dirt. Is there some sort of rebate off the sticker price if you choose this color? If I wear special glasses will some sort of message pop out? And I thought that two-tone "mood" paint job several years back was bad.

    And it's not just the Element - I feel like I'm seeing it on every other make and model. How in a million years did this become THE car color for 2005? Did Britney Spears wear a Sunset Orange Pearl dress at the big Car Paint Expo this year?

    Posted by Chris on 05/16/05

    May 13, 2005

    When America was on its knees...

    ... they looked to a horse to give them hope. Seabiscuit.

    And then later, when America was on its knees AGAIN, one man gave them hope. The Cinderella Man.

    Is this to be the standard intro to period sports movies? What other periods has America been on its knees at the same time a lone sports hero gave us hope? THINK, people! There have to be some! Surely some basketball player gave us all hope during Vietnam? What sports were they playing during the Civil War? Anything good?

    Posted by Chris on 05/13/05

    There weren't sports games during the Civil War because the fellas that invented them hadn't been freed yet.

    Posted by: isaac at May 13, 2005 11:57 AM

    I'd be remiss if I didn't make some sort of dick/blowjob joke at this point.

    But I can't even come up with a good one.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 13, 2005 3:54 PM

    May 12, 2005

    The Amityville Horror

    It sounds strange to praise a movie for how authentically cruel one of the characters is to children, but as in "The Shining," the divide between the father and the family is central to this story, moreso than the supernatural elements. And Ryan Reynolds as the stepfather gets it mostly right. So often movies will tend towards a cartoonish villainry when meanness towards kids is required to show us they don't really mean it, but for the most part "Amityville" takes it seriously.

    It's not to say Reynolds doesn't take it TOO far occasionally. It seems like Reynolds, a mostly comic actor, could be perched right on the edge of moving into a more serious, high-profile kind of role, like Jim Carrey. His missteps over the edge felt more like the kind of thing a stronger director would have helped him reign in. Here's hoping he starts spending less time working on the abs and more on moving into the circles of very good directors and good scripts.

    Speaking of authentic meanness to kids - the few scenes with the drop-dead pot-smoking babysitter who casually tortures the kids with a ghost story were spot-on. I can't find the actress's name, but watch for her, she's perfect.

    This remake is in some ways better than the original, in some ways not, although the original is no great shakes. Still, if every era is going to have its classic haunted house story, the strange tale of the Lutzes and their short stay in Long Island may be the proto- story of the 70s. Perhaps the fact that it has endured (although whether it truly has is a matter of debate) is not due so much to the supernatural elements but to the much more common dilemma the characters face - the horror of buyer's remorse. George Lutz has committed his life to not only a strange new piece of property but also a strange new family. Certainly anyone can relate to feeling completely overwhelmed and possessed by such a thing.

    When the film is concentrating on the family, it exceeds the original, but towards the end when it speculates a new origin for the evil of the house, (which would make a great story in itself, just not here) it feels as if it has strayed from the core.

    Posted by Chris on 05/12/05

    May 11, 2005

    The New Science

    There is an organization called The Creation Science Association for Mid-America, which seems to be trying to build a bridge between the Godless theory of evolution, or "facts," and pure Creationism, or as I know it, "the history of the world for children."

    I am intrigued by this new science, and I wish to subscribe to their newsletter! What seems to matter is not what facts you can prove, but what facts you are comfortable with. Isn't that nice?

    The Creation Science people are willing to concede that, OK, things like dinosaurs existed, and NO, fossils aren't fake, but for them the sticking point for some reason seems to be the whole "millions of years" things. Like a squeamish virgin, they can only face it if it happens really really really fast. In this way, they have come up with theories like Rapid Fossilization.

    There are a number of incidents in recent history that demonstrate that fossilization does not and cannot require a long time, but that speed of fossil formation is dependent on conditions, especially mineral content of the fluids around the specimen. Most of us have seen or read of at least one or more very rapid fossilization events: miner's hats, bat in a cave, coke bottle, etc. But a recent issue of the Lancet Medical Journal had a striking report: a 92 year old woman whose autopsy revealed a dead child in her uterus, which had reached 31 weeks of age, and had become calcified -- turned to stone by means of calcification.

    That's right! Why use carbon dating when you can instead rely on old wives' tales. The CSAMA even has Creation safaris, where presumably you can discover fossils that were formed maybe last week.

    Also, the CSAMA, God bless their hearts, is willing to accept that dinosaurs walked the Earth, but only if they did so at the same time as man. According to them, "History is Full of Dinosaurs." How do they deal with the dinosaur question?

    1. You must realize that you cannot learn when dinosaurs lived or died by studying their fossils. The so-called fossil record is not a record of life on earth, but an essentially random set of "photographs" of a very unusual form of burial ... one capable of mineralizing the dead. This process virtually never happens on earth today.

    2. If you want to learn the truth about men and dinosaurs, there is an incredibly simple way to do so, study history! If men and dinosaurs lived together you should be able to find out about it in the writings of the men.

    And it's really easy to find the evidence of dinosaur / co-existence in the writings of men:

    Look for pictures, statues, carvings, or written descriptions. Attempt to associate names with them. Try to find the names in other places. Try to obtain more descriptive material. Realize that, even as today, local names will vary. But, if you are genuinely interested, you will find dinosaurs everywhere! Europeans called them "Dragons," Chinese and Japanese called them "Lung," Scandinavians even had species names for them, including, apparently, for Tyrannosaurus Rex. You will find the Apatosaurous/Diplodicus (they are likely the same) unmistakably described in the Bible book of Job 40 (Behemoth), as well as a large marine or carnivorous dinosaur in Job 41 (Leviathan). Leviathan is mentioned several other times, but, like the bear in your letter above, not described again.

    This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere! Tell me again how ram's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes!

    I encourage you to check out the CSAMA F.A.Q., as it is filled with such wisdom. Ever want to know why the light from distant stars appears millions of years old but really isn't? It's in there. (Hint: it's God) Ever wonder how Steven J. Gould's "imperfection" theory was wrong? It's there. (Hint: He hated Christians and was a Marxist) Ever wonder about the so-called link between modern birds and dinosaurs? Wonder no more - it's in there. (Hint: no feathers have ever been found on a dinosaur. Duh!)

    Posted by Chris on 05/11/05

    On behalf of Christians everywhere, please enjoy this t-shirt:


    Is it impossible to believe that God had a hand in evolution? Sort of a guiding force with Nature? Because that's what I believe.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 11, 2005 1:32 PM

    I'm sure these Nouveau Christians you speak of will be out in force in Kansas this week, all wearing hip T-Shirts, protesting as the court essentally redoes the Scopes Monkey trial.

    Posted by: Chris at May 11, 2005 1:38 PM

    If dinosaurs didn't co-exist with man, how did Fred Flinstone get so much work done at the quarry? Ah-HAH.

    Posted by: isaac at May 11, 2005 1:41 PM

    Dinosaurs COULD NOT have existed with man. Did no one but me see "Jurassic Park?" The fence wouldn't hold them! The raptors were too smart! NATURE FOUND A WAY!

    At the rate this nation is going back in time I expect women will be losing the right to vote in about a month.

    Posted by: Chris at May 11, 2005 1:46 PM

    But what about Dinotopia? I didn't see it but I saw some pictures. Those dinosaurs not only lived with man, they were happy to help us build and shape our society.

    And the first ever animated film, by Windsor McKay, featured a line-drawing of a dinosaur that picked up the cartoon's creator. Do you think he just made that up?

    Of course women can't vote; they have to keep an eye on the house slaves.

    Posted by: isaac at May 11, 2005 2:23 PM

    Well cripes Chris, there's only about ten of us in the world and I can't make it to kansas this weekend. Gas prices you know...

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 11, 2005 2:41 PM

    If this retraction of basic simple liberties means I get a longer maternity leave in the guise of unemployment, I'm all for it.

    Bush in '08

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 11, 2005 2:42 PM

    Once upon a time in Dallas, I read a billboard that said:

    "If humans evolved from apes, there would be no more apes, right? Our children are not monkey flesh!"

    Posted by: olmy at May 12, 2005 4:36 AM

    If humans grew from babies, there would be no more babies, right?

    Olmy makes a good point. The prime contention among those who reject evolution seems to be that we came from apes. We didn't come from apes, that was just part of the journey.

    I recently saw a comment from a scientist suggesting the people who will be around to witness the demise of the Earth in the distant future will be as different from us as we are from bacteria.

    Posted by: isaac at May 12, 2005 6:38 AM

    Unless Jesus comes back tomorrow isaac. Are you ready to die and meet your final judgement?

    I have some pamphlets for you to read about the evils of evilution, alcohol, and HAVING SEX WITH A WOMAN YOU ARE NOT MARRIED TO.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 12, 2005 7:08 AM

    I more worried about the Sleestacks.

    Posted by: rich at May 12, 2005 8:07 AM

    Hulk mad!

    Posted by: Rich at May 12, 2005 8:09 AM

    Humans co-existing with Sleestacks? It could work, as long as there are plenty of Pylons nearby.

    Humans co-existing with Hulk? It's tough, because he's so unmanageable. But what choice do we have?

    Posted by: Chris at May 12, 2005 8:29 AM

    Wait, death is the final judgement? I hope I don't get one of those activist judgements. Is there nothing then after the after-life? What's the incentive to be good in Heaven?

    Are there Hulk angels?

    Posted by: isaac at May 12, 2005 9:08 AM

    Hulk smash evolution!

    Hulk smash activist judges!

    Hulk kick parishinors out of parish for no vote Bush!

    Hulk go heaven.

    Posted by: rich at May 12, 2005 11:17 AM

    I saw Hulk at lunch. Hulk has stripey umbrella.

    Posted by: isaac at May 12, 2005 12:12 PM

    Hulk say shhhhhh.

    Posted by: rich at May 12, 2005 12:13 PM

    To Rich, for bringing up the Sleestacks. I salute and admire you. There are simply not enough Sleestacks references in todays world. As Chaka would say, "Sa-ree-sa-ta-ka". Good times.

    Posted by: klugula at May 19, 2005 12:47 PM

    Analysis of my Haircut's Retreat Strategy

    Conflict Analysis: Recent analysis of my haircut's strategy of retreat from the forehead theatre has revealed that perhaps the haircut is not as willing to fly the white flag as we may have thought.

    While there is no doubt the battle has long been lost at the front-lines, (leaving the forehead to serve as a sort of reflective beacon), the hair continues to grow as thick as ever - and certainly higher - in the central-rear region.

    A classic flanking strategy? Perhaps.

    For the net effect is not so much that the hair is being lost, as it is simply relocating in toto farther back on the head. To visualize, imagine a wig simply being adjusted backwards by two inches or so.

    Conflict Background: It's speculation, but I have long believed that my primitive ancestors lived in an extremely cold, windy climate - but that the winds came primarily from above and just behind them. That would explain the strange strengthening of the forces in the rear.

    Next steps: I recently discovered a comfortable middle ground of hair products between the powerful but unmanageable "wax" and the weak and slightly effeminate "mousse" - in the form of the quaintly-named "pomade." I'm not sure why pomade is not "gel," or maybe it is. The pomade has served as an effective policing force against the tendency to bouffant.

    Unfortunately, much like the conflict between my allergies and most common remedies, my hair has proved exceptional at shifting its strategy over time to counter these measures, and I have developed an immunity to two brands of pomade already.

    At this rate it would just be simpler to employ post-hypnotic suggestion on each and every person I meet, planting subliminal directives to subtract ten years from my appearance, much as I do with my own body image.

    Past haircut status reports: The Curse of Liza Minelli. The Myth of Pyramiditus.

    Posted by Chris on 05/11/05

    I don't want to startle you...but Pomade is an excellent product...



    Posted by: friend jessica at May 11, 2005 1:30 PM

    Tell that to one Mr. George P. Clooney. (In "O Brother Where Art Thou")

    :: resting case ::

    Posted by: Chris at May 11, 2005 1:51 PM

    Damn! We're in a tight spot!

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 11, 2005 2:40 PM

    May 10, 2005

    King of the Idiots: Ch. 4

    The Ultimate Weapon

    Despite the Congress and President's certainty of the Yeti threat, there were still some that doubted the country should take such an aggressive stance towards them.

    "What evidence do we really have that the Yetis are going to attack us?" asked the newspaper editorials. "Does the Yeti not prefer to roam the polar regions in solitude?"

    But then the President came on the television with a startling announcement.

    "I have just been informed that the Yetis have built a terrible, Sun-Stealing weapon," he said in grave tones. "And although I urge everyone to remain calm, the Yetis plan to demonstrate the awesome force of their weapon - TONIGHT, at 7:44 PM."

    The intelligence was accurate. That night, the nation watched in horror as the sun slowly faded from the sky - just as the President had said.

    The nation cowered in total darkness for the next 10 hours.

    At 5:56 AM, the Yetis relented - the Sun was restored to America. Relief spread across the country - followed by resolve. The switchboards of Congress and the White House were instantly flooded.

    "The President has our full support," went a typical call. "We have to blow those Yeti bastards back to the iceberg age."

    "We have to show them we're number ONE," said the A.M. talk show hosts.

    The End.

    Posted by Chris on 05/10/05

    May 9, 2005

    Nonsense on Stilts

    Here's a question: if it was useless to drill for oil in a wildlife refuge, why would you do it?

    If reputable sources are saying there isn't that much oil there to begin with, then what's the point? The CATO Institute (a conservative think tank, but they are also known to hide in your closet and karate you when you come home) has said that

    President Bush's claim that Arctic oil would reduce gas prices or American dependency on foreign oil [is] "not just nonsense, but nonsense on stilts."

    And even the oil companies are saying there is not enough oil there to justify going in:

    The major oil companies are largely uninterested in drilling in the refuge, skeptical about the potential there. Even the plan's most optimistic backers agree that any oil from the refuge would meet only a tiny fraction of America's needs.

    I know we don't do "science" in this administration but doesn't it have to enter into it at some point? I mean, I'm no expert in oil-drilling, but don't you have experts you consult that say where the oil might be? You don't just wander in the woods with dousing rods, do you?

    According to Molly Ivins, writing for

    The energy bill just passed by the House is a classic example of frittering away precious time and resources by doing exactly nothing that needs to be done about energy. The bill gives $8.1 billion in new tax breaks to the oil companies, which are already swimming in cash.

    ExxonMobil's profits are up 44 percent, Royal Dutch/Shell up 42 percent, etc. According to the business pages, the biggest problem oil executives face is what to do with all their cash. So why give more tax breaks to the oil companies? Makes as much sense as anything else in this energy bill. Nothing about conservation, higher fuel efficiency standards or putting money into renewable energy sources. It's so stupid, it's painful.

    And their genius answer to "energy independence"? Drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Look, the total oil under ANWR is 1 billion barrels less than this country uses in a year, according to Robert Bryce, the Texas journalist who specializes in energy reporting. The bill is just riddled with perversity: We continue to subsidize people who buy Hummers, but no longer grant tax rebates to those who buy hybrid cars that are more than six times as fuel efficient. This is not how you get to "energy independence."

    Full disclosure: I have never been to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But I understand it's where we keep a lot of our caribou and bears and wolves and other snow-critters. And again, no expert on oil-drilling I, but from the pictures I've seen, it's not a nature-friendly process. Isn't the idea of a "refuge" a place where you go for protection?

    I have been playing "Rise of Nations" lately. It's one of these "develop your tiny camp into an empire" games, and in it, if you need oil, you generate a Worker unit and send him up to a spot on the map that has a little "oil" icon. That's it.

    More and more, I think that's the way the NeoCons view the whole world.

    Posted by Chris on 05/ 9/05

    This weekend when I read some news about Bush opening up some protected forests to be chopped up and burned and probably peed on and salted, the article said "thus undoing one of Clinton's last acts in his presidency"

    And I wondered, maybe Bush just has this little checklist of undoing any sort of good that was done by the democrats, like unchecking check boxes.

    I mean, who in the name of sweet pete WANTS forests to be destroyed? I don't GET IT.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 9, 2005 2:56 PM

    I heard Rush Limbaugh justify tearing up ANWR because "nobody goes there".

    If we impose fuel efficiency standards on motor vehicles, to around 30 miles a gallon, we'd sooner save more oil than can be pumped out of Alaska. The GOP opposes this and any other effort to make industry better for society (like Clinton/Gore's efforts to put locks on airplane cockpits).

    The strategy is clear: it's inevitable we'll switch to sustainable, efficient and cleaner fuel but they want to squeeze as much profit out of the remaining oil first. It makes sense on the reckless greed level.

    Instead of leading the new wave of innovation (Iceland already has hydrogen powered buses) we'll be struggling to catch up. This is a first for America. But we don't really need another technology-driven economic boom, do we?

    But enough of my soapbox. Chris, why aren't you at the bread and circuses anymore? You should be concerning yourself with Brad Pitt exchanging his wife for a hotter, more intelligent model. Or Britney Spears, you know she's eating for two now.

    Posted by: isaac at May 10, 2005 6:59 AM


    I am a Mozilla Firefox guy, and usually I forget to check this site on Internet Explorer to see if everything's lining up well. But since I changed things around this last weekend, it occurred to me to check and HOCHEE MAMA were things off over there.

    It wasn't exactly the Picasso version of my layout, but how long have you people been reading this site and not telling me the entire thing is centered, including all text? I blame you - all five of you.

    Actually I blame my Stylesheet, which does not so much Cascade as lie there in an Ungraceful Heap. It is a lot like this blog - I add things as they come to me and don't bother to take out the stuff that contradicts. It's a Frankenstein assortment of directions and poorly-degrading references, and although Mozilla could figure out the spirit of the agreement, I.E. assumed that by default I'd want to everything centered down the middle. Nice. Maybe it's revenge for all those pop-ups it never gets through anymore.

    Can someone let me know if the fancy javascript thing I included to close / open all comments at once (Who's a big boy to figure it out? Me, that's who) is doing something obviously weird like making the whole page go away? I assure you, that's not my intention.

    Posted by Chris on 05/ 9/05

    This isn't QVC? Well, any chance you'd have some Lynda Carter Special Edition Charm Bracelets?

    Posted by: Rich at May 9, 2005 1:12 PM

    I thought it's symbolic of your new centrist worldview.

    Posted by: isaac at May 9, 2005 1:24 PM

    I thought you were trying to copy McSweeneys.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 9, 2005 1:28 PM

    You've got FIVE people reading your site! I'd kill for five! Oh, how greedy those with fame become...

    Posted by: Foley at May 9, 2005 5:20 PM

    A tense elevator ride

    I bet a tense elevator ride in the Fox building is when everyone else has gotten off and the only people left are the head of the news division and the head of the entertainment division. Could there be two more opposite poles? Between the "Left Below" parody on "The Simpsons," then "Family Guy" and THEN "American Dad," I was out of breath from laughing all night.

    Seriously, what keeps these two opposites from exploding on contact in the Fox building, like matter and anti-matter?

    Posted by Chris on 05/ 9/05

    Hmmm...There are some who say Fox News is a comedy as well...

    Posted by: Foley at May 9, 2005 11:28 AM


    "So, adding ANOTHER night of American Idol, eh Steve? Brilliant programming maneuver."

    "Shut up, Gary."

    Posted by: Just Pete at May 9, 2005 11:38 AM

    Maybe I'm just imagining things, but it seems like the only time Fox News is referenced as a reliable news source is on OTHER Fox shows (i.e. 24, O.C., etc.).

    I'm guessing half of the Fox News schedule and budget is devoted to creating fake, scripted news for an all-new One Tree Hill.

    Posted by: Just Pete at May 9, 2005 11:43 AM

    May 6, 2005

    An obscure flaw

    There's a bit of a confessional quality when I go to the eye doctor. He asks me if I'm wearing my disposable contacts too long, I lie, and then he literally looks right in my eyes and know the truth. He makes warnings about what will happen to me if I don't lay off the contacts, but when I ask him if I will go blind he ultimately offers reassurance. I leave a new man, fully intending to treat my eyes better, to not spend so much time "seeing" things.

    And anyway the reality is I'm already a few miles down that road. This time I asked as I always do if my vision was still correctable within present disposable contact technology. As always, the doctor laughed, but admitted I am still right at the edge of what they make. I use a -9 in one eye and a -8.5 in another.

    And now you know my secret, obscure weakness - my sight. I warn you, though - if you are planning on using this knowledge to attack me, I have spent a lifetime honing my remaining senses and I will be ready for you. Well, not my hearing - I'm told I'm pretty deaf. And due to sinus problems I can't really smell things. But I'm telling you - make a move against me and my powers of satire will render you useless from humilation.

    The doctor also told me that Lasik seems unlikely for me. This is a bitter disappointment but I have suspected it for a while. Soon it will be coke bottles for me, and I'll be forced to work as an addled old professor, cobbling together useful gadgets for the hero of the story.

    Posted by Chris on 05/ 6/05

    Or you could be a cop with the NYPD, just struggling to get a chance to prove that you've still got it.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 6, 2005 11:03 AM

    JUST GIVE ME A CHANCE. That's all I ask.

    Posted by: Chris at May 6, 2005 11:46 AM

    That's the man! I'd know that cabbage smell anywhere.

    I once wore my contacts for so long that my blood vessels started to grow into my pupil. The doctor said I would have gone blind if I had kept it up. I hope my cautionary tale is not too late. If it helps, change me into a fox and the doctor into some grapes. Now learn.

    Posted by: rich at May 6, 2005 11:58 AM

    I am planning on lasik, but I am concerned about the long term effects that may still not be known. If I have my contacts in for more than a half day, I start to get irritated and irritable. And we know what that can lead to...murder.

    Posted by: klugula at May 6, 2005 2:08 PM

    Before someone gets on the ball and disses me, I meant that my eyes get irritated, and I myself, get irritable. I was not being redundant.

    Posted by: klugula at May 6, 2005 2:26 PM

    I think we all learned from the simpsons that what happens is ten years later your eyes crust over completely.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 6, 2005 2:43 PM

    You are right. Thinking back, is there any valuable lesson in my life that was not given by The Simpsons?

    Posted by: klugula at May 6, 2005 2:52 PM

    So... what you're really saying is... tho' Chris might loose his SIGHT, he'll never lose his VISION?

    That's quite comforting. I was ready to blame the Yeti Mind Poison if anything went bonkers.

    Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at May 9, 2005 9:37 AM

    All I'd have to do is to develop some kind of sonar skills and the ability to swing from buildings, and I'm on my way to Daredevilhood.

    Posted by: Chris at May 9, 2005 10:34 AM

    Which, in my opinion, was a film very well done. Make fun of Bennifer II all you want, but Daredevil wasn't bad. I wish more comic book movies stuck with the essence of the character.

    Posted by: Foley at May 9, 2005 11:30 AM

    May 5, 2005

    Rapture Index Up 9 Points

    OK, now I'M worried that we're living in the End Times. Because when even George Will starts writing columns about how political the religious right has become:

    The state of America's political discourse is such that the president has felt it necessary to declare that unbelievers can be good Americans. In last week's prime-time news conference, he said: "If you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship."

    So Mark Twain, Oliver Wendell Holmes and a long, luminous list of other skeptics can be spared the posthumous ignominy of being stricken from the rolls of exemplary Americans.

    ...then surely it's got to be one of the Final Signs.

    Posted by Chris on 05/ 5/05

    Did you know that revelations wasn't even considered an eschatalogical (or how ever you spell it) writing until the middle of the 1800s?

    I learned that on the straight dope!

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 5, 2005 10:22 AM

    My God - how the tract industry must have suffered!

    Posted by: Chris at May 5, 2005 10:36 AM

    In the same news conference Mr Bush also mentioned wishing he had a magic wand to make the high oil prices go away.

    A belief in the supernatural and magic wands doesn't make a person more moral or more fit to govern.

    Posted by: isaac at May 5, 2005 10:38 AM

    I've got your magic wand RIGHT HERE.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 5, 2005 11:17 AM

    Oh, you do? Great, I was looking for that-


    Posted by: Chris at May 5, 2005 11:23 AM

    How else do you think they were able to stack the Abu Ghraib prisoners in such a perfect pyramid? Magic. Wand.

    Posted by: Just Pete at May 5, 2005 11:33 AM

    May 4, 2005

    The Assistant Ellison position is filled

    Is there such a job as Assistant Ellison? Someone to take over the asshole duties if Harlan Ellison isn't available that day? Because that would be a good position for Orson Scott Card to fill.

    Posted by Chris on 05/ 4/05

    Chris, I really don't see why you're so upset with Card. Other than the fact that he applauds "Lost" as a science fiction series, which I disagree with, and also praises Smallville, which I think is a load of super-crap, I thought he made several points that were entirely justified. I'd really like to know why his article upset you so much.

    Posted by: Foley at May 4, 2005 9:52 AM

    I wouldn't say I'm upset at Card, but this is not the first essay I've read by him where he comes across like an irritated old poop. I enjoyed his "Ender" books but he seems like a bit of an ass.

    (Nowhere near Ellison levels, of course, but then that's why he's only qualified for the Assistant Ellison role.)

    :: cue discovery of this post by Orson Scott Card himself, or perhaps Harlan Ellison ::

    :: initiate superpolite response by one or both of them here ::

    Posted by: Chris at May 4, 2005 9:59 AM

    Exhibit A: One of his personal websites, "The Ornery American" -

    Exhibit B: His essay on "Million Dollar Baby," Chris Reeve, and Terry Schiavo:

    Exhibit C: His essay on gay marriage:

    I don't think it's just his politics - it's his arrogance that chafes. But hey, it's just my opinion.

    Posted by: Chris at May 4, 2005 10:11 AM

    I appreciate your reply, and I respect your opinions on Card. I read through the link you provided on Reeve and Schiavo, and I honestly thought he made a lot of sense.

    I haven't had time to read through the gay marriage link yet.

    I'll agree that he can come across as arrogant, but I think that anyone who creates art is arrogant to a large degree. Otherwise, why would we ever put our creations out there for the world to see? We must think we have something important to say or create that will benefit those who read/see it! It's the nature of the artist.

    By the way Chris, I'm a high school English teacher, as well as a writer, and I want to thank you for providing a site that always stimulates my interest and gives me a sounding board for expressing myself intellectually with other adults. I've enjoyed this site immensely since discovering it. Keep up the great work!

    Posted by: Foley at May 4, 2005 12:29 PM

    I've tried to write this three times without flying off the handle. For me, it's Card's politics, definately, followed by his arrogance that make me spit. I've read some of the Ender books, and after the first book, anything else I read seemed like the same book. So, not a fan, and I don't like his opinions, so his arrogance chafes. Ellison, a dick sure, but he's influenced all mediums in regard to science fiction and he can be thoughtful as well as arrogant. Given all that he's done and produced, I want to know how he thinks in regard to other issues, even if I don't agree with him.
    As far as Card and the first column Chris mentioned, The "Star Trek" comments that were made, c'mon, that's the logic of a pissy teenager, a young one. The people that made Star Trek a cultural milestone were people that lived and breathed science fiction of all kinds, and to even indulge the idea that they were too stupid to have read any of "the good stuff" is infantile. Good Stuff like a millitary genius in footie pajamas who isn't playing a simulator....HE'S PLAYING WITH REAL LIVES! Yahoo.
    Arrogant is using a non-argument to dismiss a collective, collaborative body of work that spans 30 years. That's arrogant, lazy and retarded. Hmm, and it looks like I just flew off the handle again.
    I will say that as far as Sci/Fi fantasy goes, I like the novels of David Eddings, who's writing style is repitious, and whose idea of character development is giving each character is very own single adjective and pinning it to his jacket. Awful. And I love the world Eddings created when I was a teenager, I remember it fondly, and I'm glad he doesn't have a column.

    Posted by: fattyfat at May 5, 2005 7:37 AM

    I would rather Card had just disappeared sometime after 'Ender's Game' and 'Speaker for the Dead' and leave me to remember him in happier days.

    I believe he deserves all of the praise heaped on his Ender series (at least the first 2, then everything goes to hell), they remain a fabulous example of young adult fiction. Just don't think about them too deeply as an adult or you'll be forced to wonder why he can't create 3 dimensional characters anymore and why everyone has to be married with children to be happy. And please, for the love of God, don't read his Earth series which read like a sci-fi version of the Book of Mormon.

    Anyway it is Card's politics and religious beliefs that cause me to ignore him now. You can have whatever beliefs you want but the moment you become lazy and start substituting them for real character development, I'm out.

    As for this curmudgeonly essay? It's the least of his problems.

    Posted by: john at May 5, 2005 9:06 AM

    An English teacher? Enjoying the site? I am going to send this post to Mrs. Martin back at Crumley Chapel Elementary. I told her she'd regret giving me that C-. "THE C MINUS YOU GIVE ME IS GOING TO BE THE JAIL YOU ROT IN," I said to her, which perhaps explains the C- in the first place. (It was a test on metaphor.)

    Seriously, thanks for the huge compliment, Foley...

    Posted by: Chris at May 5, 2005 10:42 AM

    May 3, 2005

    The Fig Leaf Brigade

    It is difficult to argue against these movie-sanitizing companies like "CleanFlicks" because the ledge they've found to peddle their purified wares from is on a pretty slippery slope. And like most defenses you might stage against the armies of chastity, it was already an uphill battle. Invariably you find yourself in the position of arguing the artistic merit of the films of Michael Bay.

    CleanFlicks, you may know, is a company that edits movies to make them more "family friendly." "It's about choice!" their website says without irony. "We remove all profanity! Nudity! Graphic Violence! Sexual Content!"

    Although this seems on its face pretty repulsive, I have to stop short before hitting it with my OBVIOUSLY WRONG stamp. CleanFlicks is a voluntary service, and renters of these edited DVDs obviously know what they're getting. Also, it's not as if the company is pirating. They're buying copies of the original, unclean DVDs just like Netflix would - I suppose.

    Further preventing me from getting on my high horse is the fact that movies are already being modified all the time. They are dubbed, reframed, interrupted, and shortened on T.V. Airlines serve up an express version that seems to run about an hour, and sometimes the copyright holders themselves don't seem to mind. Directors themselves sometimes re-edit their older films to satisfy their latest sensibilities. Sometimes what constitutes an “official” version is a matter of dispute between creative parties.

    Even though I prefer to take a hard line on alterations (it even pisses me off when T.V. squishes the credits all over to one side and runs them at 10X speed) I recognize that there's a matter of degree here.

    And it’s hard for me to argue that any change whatsoever to a movie is wrong when I am on record as saying the idea of Phantom Edits is kinda cool.

    But whatever happened to "if you don't like it, don't watch?" Is that just something liberal losers like myself say?

    Also: Movies are art. They are not links of sausage from which you can take as much as you like and leave the rest, or change it around. It's somebody's expression of an idea, and when you change it for big or little, you're messing with that. It's something an artist made, and so you leave it alone.

    Funny - whenever the conservatives called for a movie to be banned or started up the old "Hollywood Is Babylon" chant, my response was that they should make their own movies. Who knew I'd have to qualify that statement?

    (Peter Rojas in the Village Voice, in addition to giving a great overview of the issue, points out that maybe the net result of this conservative editing will be to empower people to be more creative. I hope so - but I find that pretty optimistic.)

    The folks over at this rather random discussion forum are also talking about it, but to my mind they miss the point by a wide mark. Amongst their comments are:

    As long as the artist can release it in its original version in one way or another, then I guess everyone can be happy.

    . . .

    The directors may be a little miffed, but I suppose crossing their palms with extra bucks will satisfy their needs as "auteurs."

    While I'm not surprised a company like CleanFlicks would have little respect for art, it's disturbing to me how little the average Joes up there do as well.

    And no, I don't think just keeping an "original version" out there will do it. Tell you what: since Jesus Christ and the emperor Caligula were more or less contemporaries, I was thinking I would take Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" and Bob Guccione's "Caligula" and cut them together. You know, edit it into one big 4-hour historical epic. So every now and then I cut away from Jesus being tortured to Malcolm McDowell having his way with the bride AND the groom.

    No problem, right? The original is still out there.

    One other project I have in mind: I was thinking of re-editing both “Ten Commandments” and “Jesus of Nazareth” for that under-served audience, the Skeptics. I plan on removing any scenes containing “miracles” or any other phenomena that cannot be explained by science.

    Let us pause for one second to imagine the firestorm of protest that would rain down on my head, and the highest most official corridors of powers from whence it would come.

    Speaking of official corridors of power, Frank Rich in the NY Times says that

    Last week President Bush signed a Family Entertainment and Copyright Act that allows "family-friendly" companies to sell filter technology that cleans up DVD's of Hollywood movies without permission or input from the films' own authors and copyright holders. That sounds innocuous enough until you learn that even "Schindler's List" isn't immune from the right's rigid P.C. code. As the owner of CleanFlicks, the American Fork, Utah, company that goes further and sells pre-sanitized DVD's, once explained to The New York Times: "Every teenager in America should see that film. But I don't think my daughters should see naked old men running around in circles."

    Although I don't want to come down on CleanFlicks because of my obvious political leanings, I think there's a difference between changing a movie because you think Jar Jar Binks is dumb and changing a movie because you think boobs and swearing are evil. I think one comes out of a belief that if they don't want to see something, then no one should be able to, and one comes out of annoying but harmless fanboy tinkering.

    I think it is also worth noting that the Phantom editor did not set up shop to peddle his "corrected" edits of Star Wars to an audience of eager fans.

    This kind of thing may be legal, but I will side with the artist. Yea though that artist may sometimes be Michael Bay.

    Posted by Chris on 05/ 3/05

    I was wondering why Basic Instinct was only 10 minutes long. I loved the scene where they were walking.

    Posted by: Rich at May 4, 2005 6:39 AM

    It's elective censorship for the lazyman. Rather like 'Freedom Fries', instead of boycotting the offending product we'll adjust it so we don't have deny ourselves anything.

    The morality market is hot right now, but let's not confuse it with altruism.

    Posted by: isaac at May 4, 2005 6:55 AM

    I consider myself an artist as well, and my gut reaction to this was, "Well, what's the big deal if they take out a nude shot here and there or a curse word every once in a while." But, then I started thinking about what my reaction would be if people cut out sections of my stories without asking permission and then profited from their actions. That did not settle well with me. I like to think that I write to satisfy a thrist I have for creating art, it's not really about making money. BUT, I'll rot in hell before I let someone dice up my art and profit from it without even seeking my permission! Which leads to another thought, "Well, is a movie like 'Con Air' really art?" The answer to that is: not to me. But, perhaps to the people involved in the making of it, yes. I'm sure there are people out there who think my writing is the work of a total hack, despite my own noble intentions of creating art. I don't consider myself a liberal, but I certainly don't agree with censorship that fails to compensate the artist in some manner. Thanks for enduring ramblings.

    Posted by: Foley at May 4, 2005 8:30 AM

    Foley, I agree. I, too am a writer, and I was pretty f-ing close last year to having one of my books sold. It had climbed the editorial ladder and the last person said,

    "Do me a favor, take out the incest and the bondage and we'll talk"

    What? I decided I'd rather leave my story intact how I intended it than chop it up to please Joe Lunchpail, who all of us hate, I gather.

    Probably won't ever get published, but I take pride in knowing I created it and kept it how I wanted it even though it'll just sit in a box for fifty years until my grandkid publishes it and makes a cool five million, wasting it all on blow and gambling.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 4, 2005 8:59 AM

    I don't hate Joe Q Lunchpail but I might ask him to eat a different table.

    Foley makes a good point: what's the big deal if they take out a nude shot here or a cussword there? Most of my favorite Hollywood films come from the period when the Hays code was still in effect. It prodded artists to make their points in more clever and subtle ways, with innuendo and suggestion.

    On the other hand: a nude shot or a cussword, what's the big deal? I've seen far more destructive behavior portrayed in car chases and 'justifiable homicide', and these aren't the sort of 'graphic violence' the whitewashers oppose.

    Jessica, I'm glad to hear you stuck to your guns and left the soul in your story. Good for you. It must have been a difficult choice on some levels, particularly after going through so many stages of acceptance. It's a sad feature of our culture that there's an entire industry devoted to forcing art through the bleaching wringer of commodification.

    Posted by: isaac at May 4, 2005 10:12 AM

    I am 100% behind the "don't watch it if you don't want to." On the other hand, since the regular versions are out there, then you still have the choice. But what about the young kids, who are seeing something like "Shindler's List", with all of the degrading nudity in the showers, taken out. Will they walk away with a sense of, "the holocaust wasn't all that bad, what's the big deal?" Certainly there is enough in the picture to portray the insanity of all that happened, but w/out certain sections, it doesnt paint the entire nasty picture. That to me, is just stupidity. "Basic Instinct" or any of Verhoeven's other films should not be put on the list for Cleanflicks viewers. They are about sex and violence. Those are the selling points. Cut out those two things, and there is truly only the characters walking around. Pointless I tell you!

    Posted by: klugula at May 4, 2005 2:39 PM

    Tech Support Knock-Knock Joke: Recording a Focus Group

    Knock knock.

    Who's there?


    The End.

    Posted by Chris on 05/ 3/05

    I just told it to Beata. She loved it!

    Posted by: Rich at May 4, 2005 6:35 AM


    Posted by: friend jessica at May 4, 2005 9:01 AM

    And somehow, in an odd twist of fate, the Vortex found it's way here to Chicago of all places! Just this was here.... looking for "that thing, you know, the one that takes in like, multiple video signals, like, ya know, two or something, thru like that what-cha-ma-call-it-rca-thingy and lets you, ya know, like, watch and mix video from two feeds or something, like from two cameras. like picture in a picture, but not. a feed. video. you know, that thing you know, it was here like 3 years ago..."

    Stunned silence from us here. I figure it was some kind of Yeti mind poison or something. Perhaps it was the heretofore unknown Sasquatch First Strike capability being put into effect, who knows. I was just shocked to see an echo of your Vortex here - I thought that only happened with, what, like the parallal universe thing and the ripples across space-time and all.

    Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at May 4, 2005 11:10 AM

    GOD! The elusive, legendary Picture in Picture Video Splitter device! They have been looking for it in Chicago since five minutes after they first bought it in 1999!

    Posted by: Chris at May 4, 2005 11:50 AM

    I can't breathe in here from all the nerd.

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 4, 2005 2:11 PM

    May 2, 2005

    Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    I dearly love these books but do not have them memorized. I knew they were adding some characters and plot points and I looked forward to see how they'd do it. But some of the True Fans are enraged. However, these guys wake up that way each morning and there's nothing we can do for them.

    It's best to realize that with the "Hitchhiker's" series there probably is no such thing as the Definitive Version anyway because Douglas Adams himself loved to tinker and modify things with the story every time it reappeared. I get the impression it's O.K. if you don't own the radio show, the books, the T.V. series, the comics, the other books, AND the Grecian Urns, because this thing is constantly changing.

    The movie could not have been better cast in a million years, from Stephen Fry as the narrator to Sam Rockwell as Zaphod to Martin Freeman as Arthur to Alan Rickman and Bill Nighy, and the list goes on. I liked the new John Malkovich character. And to my knowledge, the movie comes up with the first rationale for Zaphod having two heads I've heard.

    The Vogons are the most amazing movie creatures the Jim Henson people have ever done, and their ships, offices, and devices are absolutely hilarious. They're worth the entire movie. Another thing I loved was that some of the other aliens had a slight "plush" look to them, as if they weren't trying for realistic so much as cute.

    The unfortunate but predictable addition is the enhancement of the "Trillian / Arthur" love story, which is atypically unclever of the movie. It ends up distracting from the amazing way the seemingly random elements of the plot are tied together by the improbability engine. I'd give this whole movie a B, but I do fear it may be for fans only.

    Posted by Chris on 05/ 2/05

    I've never read the books, but I've really been looking forward to seeing the film. I hope it's not for pre-fans only! Thanks for the honest and helpful review.

    Posted by: Foley at May 2, 2005 12:26 PM

    I agree with you here. My favorite parts were the Vogon side comments. Douglas Adams worked on part of the movie script and changed a lot of the lines and plot points himself. The other writer, Kilpatrick I believe, worked on the crappy love story.

    My favorite parts were the Vogon side comments.

    Posted by: Rich at May 2, 2005 1:58 PM

    Did you like the side comments? By the vogons?

    Posted by: friend jessica at May 2, 2005 2:00 PM

    Rich! You went without me?


    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at May 2, 2005 2:09 PM

    Oh, man!

    :: Goat totally jumps out of Rich's arms and trots over to greener, Friend-Jessica-ier pastures ::


    Posted by: Just Pete at May 2, 2005 2:18 PM

    I have to applaud the opening 40's style musical number with all of the dolphins singing "So Long and Thanks for the All the Fish!" Very inspired and very Douglas Adams-like without ever actually showing up in one of his books. I will shamelessly admit to a great big cheshire cat grin on my face for the first 20 minutes of the film just because of that.

    Posted by: olmy at May 3, 2005 5:02 AM

    Did I mention that I liked the side comments from the Vogons?

    Top drawer!

    Posted by: rich at May 3, 2005 9:12 AM