October 31, 2005

Screenplay #4

Time to open some champagne - I finished the rough draft of Feature-Length Screenplay #4 last night. It's called "The Q3 Numbers" or maybe "Zogby's Constant," and is subtitled "An Adventure in Advanced Radical Economics." (Seriously.)

Did I say rough draft? It's VERY rough. WAY rough. You could exfoliate with this thing. You could sand down the sharp edges on that handrail leading up to your porch. Last night I definitely hammered in the Golden Spike that finally connected the east and west coasts of the plot, but it won't be a very comfortable train ride for a few drafts. Another writing metaphor: Last night I threw the switch and the Monster stirred to life, but it can barely make it off the slab without collapsing and going into convulsions.

But, it's a finished draft. Kind of disturbing that it's only my fourth feature-length. (#1: "Planet 9 is a Huge Brain," #2: "Night Job," #3: "Intervention") Also disturbing how long it took me. (Although I did take a few months off during the writing and wrote a short)

In celebration - and perversion - of National Novel-Writing Month, I'm going to try to slam out #5 in 30 short days before going back to rewrite this one.

Posted by Chris on 10/31/05

Get me a copy of that Monster - STAT!

Posted by: Vickery at October 31, 2005 2:47 PM

Congrats. I am still wallowing away in my screenplay hell. And this is only my first! Good times.

Posted by: KLUGULA at October 31, 2005 4:12 PM

I'm a big fan of very, very rough drafts. I like to just get it out there on paper so that it actually holds some level of existence beyond just being an idea in my mind. I then will go in and make notes all over it, adding new ideas and such, so that a more thorough second draft may be born, then a third, and perhaps even a fourth. So, no worries about it being extremely rough. Congrats on moving forward, and good luck!

Posted by: Foley at November 1, 2005 9:40 AM

Klugula - I'm telling you, schedule a reading of that thing, even if it's not done! The deadline will do it. Bring everybody over into that palace you and Elwood have made for yourselves and make a shindig of it. Give yourself a month to complete it - it will be at least a month before a window opens up in everyone's schedule.

Posted by: Chris at November 1, 2005 10:20 AM

Foley - I agree. Even though I already knew that most of what I was writing would not end up in the second draft, I guess it still had to be put down on paper* in order to get it out of the way.

*Screen, actually.

Posted by: Chris at November 1, 2005 12:12 PM

October 28, 2005

They're doing great things with fabric - at Jo-Ann Fabrics!

You thought the Major Anthony Nelson costume was done? Nay. Nay.

I did not mention before that the one appropriately fitting jacket we found in L.A. county was missing the epaulets*, a word by the way that existed in my mind totally divorced from its pronunciation, and which means the little flaps over the shoulders where Certain Shiny Things are sometimes pinned.

(But why am I telling you this? I am sure I am the only one that did not have this knowledge already tucked away in a cluster of brain cells towards the back.)

My big idea was to go and find a cheapie raincoat of the same color at a thrift store and snip the belt for use on this franken-costume. But one does not go "looking for things" at a thrift store, one simply goes and takes what one finds, so it was decided that a fabric store might have something.

A FABRIC STORE. Turn the ship around, it turns out that the one thing you need is in the worst possible place in the universe.

We went to Jo-Ann Fabrics, and let me say that it marked the first time in my life I have ever willingly entered a fabric store. The last time I went to a fabric store, I believe I was nine, and I'm fairly sure I was spanked because I made such a scene begging not to be there. I HATED the fabric store as a kid. I LOATHED it. I BEGGED not to be taken there, and once there, I pleaded endlessly to be released.

Why? I have come to realize as an adult that there really is something almost supernaturally dull about fabric stores. I wasn't just being a bad kid. They are like the Phantom Zone for children. They are formless voids, completely without sensation and creativity. If ever Superman decides I have committed crimes too horrible for humanity, he will lock me in at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Fabric stores are physically, psychically, universally repulsive. Do not defend them. There is nothing in a fabric store - no shiny thing, no item, no concept, no packaging, no person, nothing - that my mind can take hold of and consider.

I could walk into any number of specialty stores that I'd normally not be in - Discontinued Auto Parts, Unethical Medical Supplies, Only Books About Fly-Fishing, Restaurant Surplus, Unsorted Ball Bearings R Us, Mismatched Industrial Washers, Unclaimed Obsolete Manifestos, and find something of interest. Not... in fabric stores. I walk around looking at buttons and threads and zippers and cloth and just think, WHY. WHY. WHY. NO. NO.

It's a little like a mental isolation chamber in there to me. I don't know why. My mind turns in on itself, desperate for something to occupy it. It's like an anesthetic has been applied to the right side of my brain. I begin to panic. Get me the hell out of here.

The spirit of Jo-Ann hung heavy over this particular franchise. She called out to us from every aisle to take some fabric and fashion it into a Holly Hobby costume, or why not Raggedy-Ann and Andy? Get back, devil! Get back, Jo-Ann! We stayed on task and found some sort of ribbon to make into faux-epaulets. Then we had to stand in line to get someone to clip some off.

In the 32 years it took for the line to move, and absent any sort of stimuli at all, my mind started fashioning absurd useless slogans for the place.

They're doing great things with fabrics - at Jo-Ann Fabrics!

I've got a notion - to go to Jo-Ann Fabrics!

It's just "sew" fine - at Jo-Ann Fabrics!

Buttons and zippers and yarn and doo-dads and needles and thread and fabric and crafts, oh my! It's Jo-Ann Fabrics!

Get me the hell out of Jo-Ann Fabrics!

Why is it perpetually twenty years ago in these places? Who keeps the buttons straight? Why am I even here? Why are they selling all these little knick-knacks that you'd never think to find here? What would you possibly use this particular furry fabric for? Why are there seven people in line ahead of me, all with solid yellow fabric? Is there a school play that calls for a Chorus of Bees right now? Why do fabric stores suck so completely, so terribly?

*Perhaps the original wearer of the jacket had been stripped of his rank in a dramatic humiliating ceremony, and then he had to walk slowly away, the rest of the platoon turning their backs to him. What happens at Tailhook stays at Tailhook, traitor! That will teach you to talk! I think once again I am conflating branches of the Armed Service, but you get the point.

Posted by Chris on 10/28/05

While I do indeed share your sentiments about fabric stores... I did manage to find a rather large 3 wick candle at a Jo-Ann Fabrics for a very in-expensive price.

That might very well be the gayest statement I've ever made... aside from "Give it to me big boy - yes YeS YES!!!"

No - definately the candle one...

Posted by: Ben Jammin' at October 28, 2005 4:47 PM

If you found that then you have found the Last Useful Thing at Jo-Ann fabrics, and now we can shut 'er down.


Posted by: Chris at October 28, 2005 5:21 PM

Another Goodie to start my Halloween off right! Please do post a picture of the completed uniform. Hope you do not find a gift card to Jo-Ann in your candy bag..........

Posted by: Vickery at October 31, 2005 7:55 AM

You didn't mention that all the shoppers looked like clones from the early 70's who still have early American decorating themes.

Posted by: Annie Mae at October 31, 2005 2:44 PM

You are cracking me up ! I can still remember the bi-level Hancock's that we frequented on a regular basis. You forgot to mention the SMELL that fabric stores always have...that musty,starchy smell. And then you have to throw in the plethora of potpourri offerings and their malodorous, migraine-inducing properties. Must stop thinking about it....bye

Posted by: Aimee at October 31, 2005 5:15 PM

Annie Mae is right - even the people IN Jo-Ann Fabrics look like they come from 20 years ago. Maybe they've time travelled into the future to see if any advances have been made in yarn technology.

And how could I have forgotten the bi-level Hancock Fabrics? I must have repressed it. Two levels of musty, mind-numbing glory.

Posted by: Chris at November 1, 2005 10:18 AM

October 27, 2005

Let's hear it for the rapists and the rednecks

It seems likely that Charlize Theron, Richard Jenkins, Sissy Spacek, and / or Frances McDormand might receive a lot of recognition and maybe awards for their performances in "North Country," and that would be great. (Especially Jenkins - I think he's overdue.) It's a very good movie, it's a moving story, and their acting is top notch.

But let's take a minute and give a shout-out to the rednecks, the rapists, the average small-town dumbass yokels, the girls with big hair, the obnoxious teenagers, and the regular ol' folks - those people that make up the textured background of this story. These are not showy roles, but the thankless ones, and ones that sometimes inspire genuine disgust, pity, and even hatred.

These actors pulled off their roles without giving a hint that they were just actors and that, secretly, they weren't like this. Nothing against the leads, but it occurs to me in a movie like this, the folks in the background are often ignored. And each of those actors absolutely make this movie.

Check out this movie and look at Jeremy Renner as Bobby Sharp, who you will hate. Also, how hard would it be to play that same character as a hateful kid, as the little-known Cole Williams did? Notice the guys that pushed the Porta-potty over, or the Union guys that basically just glowered. Check out Michelle Monaghan as Sherry, Jillian Armenante as Peg, and especially Amber Heard as the young Josey - she handles what has to be one of the toughest scenes an actress can have very well.

ESPECIALLY check out Brad William Henke as the high school teacher in that same scene. Could there be a more thankless role? As you watch him are you thinking about how good an actor he is, or how much you'd like to kill him?

Posted by Chris on 10/27/05

Wait a minute...I'm from a small town! No wonder all these big city folk give me the stank eye!

Posted by: Foley at October 27, 2005 11:32 AM

If only you'd stop harassing those women down at the mine - but no.

Posted by: Chris at October 27, 2005 12:04 PM

Easy there, Chris. You know Foley loves hanging around the shaft.

(Gob) Come on! (/Gob)

Posted by: Just Pete at October 27, 2005 2:13 PM

Oh, no you di'ent!

Posted by: Foley at October 27, 2005 2:18 PM

October 26, 2005

Special Citation for Supercilious Civilian Interaction

I'd like to award a Special Citation for Supercilious Civilian Interaction to the veteran of a foreign war working the counter at the Army / Navy Surplus Store on Lincoln last week.

This man patiently helped me put together my halloween costume, even though he had to coax me into letting him.

Last year Ami and I attended the Halloween Parade in West Hollywood as ourselves, but it was so fantastic we swore we never be just spectators again, that we would get costumes for this year. We wanted the outfits to be couple-themed, and after some months of brainstorming, it was decided that Jeannie and Major Nelson would be the best bet.

The Jeannie costume was easily procured. The whole thing came in one convenient package at the first stop. Major Anthony Nelson, not so much.

No costume store had anything resembling a military uniform. The first three Army / Navy surplus stores had them, but in sizes suitable for very wee people. It was as if at some point in the past our Armed Forces had been planning on opening up Officer's Training to nine-year olds. And you'd think in Hollywood you could rent such things from any number of professional shops, and you'd be right, but only at great expense and only for movies or shows. I began to get frustrated.

Finally a semi-suitable jacket and hat were found. Now I needed some shiny things to pin to the front, as pictured in the photo I was using as reference. Back to Army / Navy, and the "medals" counter.

I was trying to do this quietly; even though these things were clearly for sale, I felt a little weird and embarassed to be buying them for a costume. I certainly didn't want to ask for help from any of the burly, gray-haired guys dressed in faded camo who worked there, who had probably actually earned some of the medals I was handling.

I was discreetly checking my Larry Hagman printout when one of the older guys approached.

"Can I show you anything?" he asked.

"Um... I... I'm just looking for some stuff... for... um..." I stammered.

He pointed out some random ribbons, medals and insignia to me, making brief comments on the meaning of each. This made me realize that all the items I was looking at were actually for different branches of the service. Oh.

"I'm actually putting together something for an Air Force outfit," I said finally, trying absurdly to avoid the words HALLOWEEN and COSTUME, as if people just came in and put together Air Force ensembles to wear casually, as if that would be better than a Halloween costume I suppose. Mainly I just wanted to get something that looked like a shiny "wings" pin for my jacket and get the hell out of there.

"You got a picture there we can go by?" he asked, pointing at the printout I was folding into a smaller and smaller square. As he took it from my unproffered hand, I felt my face turning red.

"Hmmm," he said. "Well, this guy was a Major, as I recall, so you'll want these clusters over here. The ones you're looking at are for a General. And you'll need a few eagles."

"Oh, OK." I said.

"And - he was in the space program, too," he said. "Isn't that how he found Jeannie? So those wings you've picked out are fine, but these over here are actually for astronauts."

He set to work, walking me through picking out eight pieces of insignia and medals for the costume - Major clusters, U.S. pin, eagles for hat and lapel, pausing to speculate with gentle seriousness on what sort of medals Maj. Nelson might have earned in his career. (We settled on Distinguished Service, Defense Meritorious Service, Air Force Commendation, and Basic Military Training Honor Graduate.) He checked carefully to see if I minded when some of the pieces were mismatched - one eagle was for a Colonel, one for a Major. And then he rung me up with a smile.

I am not sure a Citation for Supercilious Civilian Interaction for veterans exists, but it should.

Posted by Chris on 10/26/05

One question...

"Army / Navy Surplus Store on Lincoln"... IN CHICAGO?!?!?!?

If you were here in town again, and didn't tell me... again... FRIENDSHIP OFF!!!

Posted by: Big Fat Brian at October 26, 2005 9:22 AM

There's a Lincoln that runs diagonally through town here, too, believe it or not! It has an Army / Navy, too! There must be some sort of Federal stipulation. No sighting of the Lincoln Tap, though.

Posted by: Chris at October 26, 2005 9:44 AM


You're of the hook.

Friendship... ON!

Posted by: Big Fat Brian at October 26, 2005 9:58 AM

WHEW. That was a close one. I wouldn't want to be on the "Dead to You" list.

Posted by: Chris at October 26, 2005 10:00 AM

Another day maker - I loved it!

Posted by: Vickery at October 26, 2005 10:12 AM

The Wisdom of the Past

Sometimes I like to reflect on the wisdom of our elders, remembering the clarity and insight of their words. You know, things like:

Bill Frist (R-TN): To not remove President Clinton for grand jury perjury lowers uniquely the Constitution's removal standard, and thus requires less of the man who appoints all federal judges than we require of those judges themselves.

I will have no part in the creation of a constitutional double-standard to benefit the President. He is not above the law. If an ordinary citizen committed these crimes, he would go to jail.


Henry Hyde (R-ILL, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee): But when circumstances require you to participate in a formal court proceeding and under oath mislead the parties and the court by lying, that is a public act and deserves public sanction. Perjury is a crime with a five-year penalty.

Let us remember their brave words from the past - perhaps they can guide us in a troubled present. Check out the whole amazing list compiled by firedoglake.

Posted by Chris on 10/26/05

Note to my Subconscious

Dear Subconscious:

Enough with the disturbing dreams this week. I've had my fill.

Sunday night: I accidentally stumble into the secret city all the homeless criminals, carnies, and villains have established at the top of all the skyscrapers, and even though I try to act natural they won't stop looking at me.

Monday Night: Perfectly ordinary dream interrupted when three devil-people pull up in a car and try to hand me terrifying devil-brochures. (I suspect these three had come down from the Secret Homeless Criminal City.)

Tuesday Night: Again, a perfectly fine dream, but then at the end I discover a body tangled in debris at the edge of the lake.

I think I've earned either a simple flying dream tonight or undisturbed rest.



Posted by Chris on 10/26/05

I'll see what I can do.

Posted by: klugula at October 26, 2005 7:04 AM

Also while you're at it, please do something about that paralyzing fear of spiders. Thanks.

Posted by: Chris at October 26, 2005 7:14 AM

May the essence and spirit of Rosamund Pike visit you this eve.


Posted by: Big Fat Brian at October 26, 2005 8:38 AM

Tip - do not watch Batman Begins right before bed time.

Posted by: Vickery at October 26, 2005 10:14 AM

To that I would add, do not read any news of politics right before bed.

Posted by: Chris at October 26, 2005 10:36 AM

October 24, 2005

An Odd Thing About Crest Whitestrips

In using them I discovered accidentally that there is actually a sixth impression that I can do:

6. Cloris Leachman as "Nurse Charlotte Diesel" in "High Anxiety."

In the thirty minutes twice a day that I was supposed to leave the Whitestrips on, I tried not to talk, and I also kept my lips clamped tightly to my teeth so the disgusting strip wouldn't move around. The result was that when I DID have to say something, it was terse, to the point, and clumsily, slowly over-articulated. It was the exact intonation of Leachman's S&M nurse.

Eureka! I'll need to review the film again to get some good lines. On the other hand, I finished the run of Whitestripping. But can your teeth ever be too white?

As you can see, the implications for further impression development are huge. What OTHER artificial speech impediments could be employed to unlock other impressions? If I put cotton balls in my cheeks can I do Marlon Brando as the Godfather? Will being under the effect of a local anesthetic after a dental appointment open up any new vocal vistas?

And most importantly, what is the thing I have to use and where do I put it to make a Walken impression available to me?

Posted by Chris on 10/24/05

Those strips really do work and no, teeth can never be too white. That would be like saying Bill Gates has too much money.

Posted by: Vickery at October 24, 2005 11:29 AM

I have to say I have been amazed. I thought with my teeth I'd have to double up, and then maybe just keep some extra strips around to chew like gum, but there IS a noticeable difference. I also cut out coffee and Coke that week too, though, which I'm sure helped.

Posted by: Chris at October 24, 2005 11:42 AM

October 20, 2005

A Constitutional Crisis

James Wolcott on Fitzgerald's investigation of the Valerie Plame case:

I don't know what indictments, if any, are coming down the pike. But I promise you this: If there are high-reaching indictments from Fitzgerald's grand jury that threaten to rip out several vital organs of the Bush regime, the same milksop Machiavellis who extol "hardball" as the Beltway's favorite sport will suddenly start worming their fingers together in major fits of nervous handwringing and warning us these trials risk "tearing the country apart" and becoming a "terrible distraction" to more "urgent problems facing the nation."

Hey, maybe they can even claim that it puts us in a Constitutional Crisis!

Posted by Chris on 10/20/05

My fear is if the Dick Cheney has to resign (and it will only remain news until it's promptly replaced by an orange-skinned starlet getting into a fender bender with paparazzi, a new flavor of Coke or Doritos, or a millionaire sport jock tearing his groin "news") we'll get saddled with another person Bush chooses from his cache of crony-capitalists. He'll talk about a lack of litmus test while installing another predictable regressive sharing the same cynical worldview, desire to turn back the clock on human rights and freedoms, and favor for the dollar over life.

Probably his brother. If that happens, I'll be convinced the whole "revolution" thing in 1776 was less about overthrowing a European monarchial system and more about adopting a similar, less noble (based on mere wealth rather than duty) pattern closer to home.

Posted by: simon at October 20, 2005 3:20 PM

there's a new flavor of doritos?

Posted by: friend jessica at October 21, 2005 2:22 PM

Mmmmm.... a Doritos revolution...

Posted by: Ben Jammin' at October 21, 2005 2:47 PM

October 18, 2005

Seven Steps to Passable Wine Talk for People Who Don't Care About Wine

I enjoy a glass of wine now and then, but I have to admit the affectation and ambience that comes along with it is the larger part of my enjoyment, more than the drink itself. It usually comes out at a meal someone has worked hard on, or in a bar that's just a notch classy, and not so much about T.V.s blaring at you from every corner.

I do have likes and dislikes in styles, but my palate seems to be stuck on something really lo-res like 16 Possible Tastes. When you talk to wine folk, though, they seem to have a very advanced palate, capable of 32-bit tasting and millions of possible flavors.

Or... do they?

I'm not trying to bust up some sort of conspiracy here. I'm just saying what I have found with wine people is that it's not so much the drink, as the drink-talk. And that can be faked.

But why would we want to? Because we enjoy a sip now and then, and more importantly we enjoy the people we sip with, even though we cannot keep up with their lingo, not that we want to. And what else are you going to do while they're talking about what this would go with and that time they had the perfect bottle?

There are seven steps to passable wine talk, and the first two cover how to choose a wine if you are called on to do so:

1. Pick a wine that is not the cheapest, but is one level, even two levels up from that. You can base all the following steps on something in the $10 range.

2. Pick one that has a cool label.

That's it. You've picked a wine that's just as good as anything the wine people would spend twenty minutes selecting.

Now, for the imbibing. I don't suggest all these steps are necessary every time you crack open a bottle, but if I sense the conversation is veering over into matters of the vine, and I feel like playing the wine-talk game, I use these as starting points:

3. Smell the wine before tasting it. Don't feel you need to swirl it or check the light. Although, extra points if you do so.

4. Now, for the Things This Wine Would Go Well With, Or Smells Like. After you've had a few swallows, look thoughtful and come out with one of these. They come in three types:

A. Mention an obscure type of cheese the wine would go with, that you tried to find at the shop but couldn't. I like to use "Jarlsberg" because I remember it from Python's "Cheese Shop" sketch. "Edam" is right out because of "Sideways" (As is asparagus). Extra points if you make up a cheese.

Above all, and this is important for each step, KEEP A STRAIGHT FACE. Remember, the point is to see if you can insert yourself into the milieu without letting on. We're not mocking our wine friends, we're just having fun here.

B. Mention two from the following list: vegetable, fruit, spice, flower. The more obscure the better. Does your wine smell like cloves? Don't you taste the pepper? A hint of strawberry? A note of cilantro? A waft of rose petals? Yes, you smell all that stuff in there. Why not. BUT JUST MENTION TWO. If someone finds something in the wine you hadn't thought of, take a moment, smell it again, and then agree.


C. Detect something you would NOT normally want in a consumable. Pencil lead. Moss. Grass.

5. Mention a dish it would go well with. Something a little offbeat, something maybe a little ethnic. It doesn't have to be real.

6. Mention the cute little wine shop you found the bottle in. The "discovery story" is key. Go on about the little owner and his accent.


7. Mention how this bottle is slightly uncharacteristic of that type. (Glance at label before saying this to know what type)

That's it. Make an acting game of it. BELIEVE you taste that moss in there. SEE that cute little Bosnian wine shop guy. TASTE that dish you once had that complemented this vintage so well. Swirl your wine and be thoughtful.

Posted by Chris on 10/18/05

Again you brighten even the darkest of work days. Thanks.

Posted by: Vickery at October 19, 2005 2:30 PM

Often those wine enthusiasts remember the event where they had "the wine" and assume the wine was extraordinary when in actually - it was the memories they love!

Posted by: annie mae at October 20, 2005 7:13 AM

Indeed! But let me assure certain parties who read this and detected sarcasm - WHICH WAS NOT INTENDED! - that I bow to their wine expertise, their culinary skills, no I do not think they are "faking" the wine talk, rather it's me that is just not getting it, and I'd never play the wine-talk game with them, and I'll see you tonight after work, honey.

Posted by: Chris at October 20, 2005 9:07 AM

October 16, 2005

Note to Anti Chris

I'm not going to bother to respond point-by-point to your latest, because it looks like you didn't read me very carefully anyway.

But tell you what - one of these days, when you CAN spare the time, go ahead and reply to the ridiculous points in my list. I'd really love to hear what you have to say - on any of them. (And yes, I WOULD like to get you started on the Kyoto Protocol thing!) If it's going to be such short work for you to respond, then have at it.

I look forward to how you'll deal with the whole of each problem, with all their complexities!

Or: you could just ignore that and make more generalizations. It's up to you.

Got anything besides "All you do is Bush-Bash!" or "You're a dumb liberal!" or "You misspelled that word?" Then now's your chance.

Take your time. Call yourself whatever you want. We're always open.

(If anyone missed the beginning of this thread, check out the appearance of "Anti Chris" in the comments here. Just scroll down until you get to the part where someone deals with the whole problem of Katrina, with all its complexities, in a few sentences about personal responsibility and that'll be him.)

Posted by Chris on 10/16/05

Fabulous head butting! Give me more!

Posted by: klugula at October 17, 2005 7:58 AM

You're not going to bother to respond?! That's what we do! We bother to respond! Klugula (a.k.a. “our fan”) is begging you to respond!

Actually, I can’t, in good faith, retort your list until you reply “point-by-point” to my latest. Them’s the rules, mate. Quid pro quo. (Also, I’m going out of town now for several days, so I really can’t reply for awhile anyway.)

Couple of other things for you to chew on:

1. You changed the italicized text at the bottom of your October 16 posting. In referring to our “conversations,” you used the word “interesting” in your initial post, and then removed it. Did our chats get less interesting to you as your Sunday wore on?

2. It’s not “Anti Chris,” it’s THE Anti Chris. Believe me, this isn’t a minor point, considering the licensing and merchandizing that could come out of this… I’ll be forwarding contracts to you soon for your perusal… And I’m meeting with Disney next week too…

3. In all seriousness (for once) Fattyfat’s sexist comments are deplorable and beneath your blog’s standards, Chris. I mean, come on… I’m sure you don’t marginalize women like that, and I hope you consider removing his comment, or at least adding a declarative that he does not speak for you.

And with that, I shuffle off this “mental” coil…

Posted by: The Anti Chris at October 17, 2005 8:56 AM

Run away! Run away!

Don't forget to take your ball with you.

Posted by: Big Fat Brian at October 17, 2005 9:48 AM

Chris, you have an alternative universe "Anti-Chris!" This is a fantastic development in the burgeoning field of metaphysical ethics. As an observer in this field, I posit one of three modal possibilities in how this came about:

1. The Anti-Chris is an alternative universe version of you, a la Star Trek. As such, he looks just like you, except that he has a goattee:


2. The Anti-Chris is from Bizarro World and looks just like you, except for that weird, cracked complexion:


3. The Anti-Chris actually budded from your neck and then split apart to excecute his own nefarious agenda, as in Army of Darkness:


Posted by: olmy at October 17, 2005 10:06 AM

Why do these conversatives always try to take away my right to sexist free speech?
I still think you wear a frilly pink dress, Auntie Chris.
And you're a baby. A giant non-argument-having baby.
Shut up, baby. Big lazy baby.

Posted by: FattyFat at October 17, 2005 10:11 AM

I pray to my personal savior that I didn't lead this troll to your doorstep Chris. The text of the Anti Chris reads very SDMB, and it would be my greatest tragedy if I infected your blog with such crap.

Posted by: friend jessica at October 17, 2005 11:42 AM

I don't know. "Anti" COULD be a human being from "Straight Dope," or it could just be some kind of advanced spam engine. All it seems to be doing is going off keywords, automatically taking an arbitrary contrary position, and throwing in the occasional randomly annoying non sequitor.

Then when I try to follow up, it just reflects my statements back at me:

You're not responding? I'M not responding!

I'm making generalizations? YOU'RE making generalizations!

I'm out of order? YOU'RE out of order, THIS WHOLE PLACE IS OUT OF ORDER!

You could probably program that sort of thing in Javascript without too much trouble. I mean, if you think about it, it's really not much more sophisticated than one of those Tic-Tac-Toe-playing chickens.

I don't know - time will tell. If it tries to sell me some Rolexes or Christian Debt Management later on, we'll know.

Posted by: Chris at October 17, 2005 12:22 PM

I grow weary of the inflammatory grammar police. Is Auntie Chris going to add anything to the conversation, or just fill up your blog comments with mean spirited crap? I know it’s easier to throw out a couple of non-sequitors and diversionary comments than it is to write a full paragraph, but come on!

P.S. We’ll stop getting all of our news from the Daily Show when you stop getting yours from Ann Coulter.

Posted by: relpek at October 17, 2005 12:42 PM

It's a well known practice of desperate trolls to drag out spelling and syntax when they have nothing else to contribute.

You could write a 5,500 word treatise on middle east democracy and the troll would come back with:

"uh, learn how to spell theocracy and get back to me, jerk"

Posted by: friend jessica at October 17, 2005 12:47 PM

I'm with olmy, I think this is some reverse doppleganger who cracked through the anit-universe. You have to admit though, everyone's pulse really shot up. If there's an Anti-Foley out there, feel free to drop by. I could use the excitment, as well as comments from more than the one high school girl who frequents my site. Good luck with THE Anti-Chris. I'd hate to find out she was just a spam program. She seemed so committed to whatever purpose she was serving.

Posted by: Foley at October 17, 2005 1:13 PM

If I recall, you corrected many of my spelling errors in previous comments, Jessica!

To Chris...just wanted to let you know I borrowed a copy of "The Plant" from Brian and Jessica. Elwood and I watched it last night, and I just again have to give you kudos. That was a brilliant concept and it was presented w/ out a hitch. Hysterical, I say. Just a bit to brighten your day. You rock!

Posted by: klugula at October 17, 2005 1:14 PM

Oh, crap. I spelled "anti" as "anit." THE Anti-Chris is gonna hand me my ass now...

Posted by: Foley at October 17, 2005 1:14 PM


Talk about how great I am in it. Talk about ME!


I hate Chris and all that he stands for.

THE Skinny Brian

Posted by: Big Fat Brian at October 17, 2005 1:28 PM

Pay no mind to the post above. It was not me!


Just read my signature below. This IS me. I'm the BAD one.

Posted by: Small Skinny Brian at October 17, 2005 1:31 PM

Your brilliance in that piece goes w/ out saying, Small skinny Brian...or Big Fat Brian...whichever. Your first glance @ the Plant in the beginning of the showdown scene, was priceless. You rock too!

So, with all of this opposite-ness going on, what kind of person should I be? Completely satanic and violent? A human being on the verge of becoming something other than human? Not capable of rational thinking, remorse, love? Cuz God knows I am completely pure, tactful, loving and wonderful now, right? Right? You bastards!

Posted by: klugula at October 17, 2005 1:46 PM

Well, if this is all a semi-sophisticated tic-tac-toe javascript, you know know exactly what to do, Chris. HAVE THE ANTII-CHRIS PLAY ITSELF! Yes, set number of players to "1", hit "Enter"! Soon, Anti-Chris will be spewing faulty argument after faulty argument against itself, over and over, faster and faster .... until....


"The only way to win is not to play."

Don't thank me. Thank Matthew Broderick.

Posted by: Just Pete at October 17, 2005 2:42 PM

My... GOD, Just Pete. It's BRILLIANT! It's almost fiendish it's so brilliant! He'll enter a feedback loop that will finish him off forever!

I just wish there was some way to reverse the polarity so this whole thing wouldn't be necessary.

To Klugula: Such kind things you have said about the movie! The Anti-Klugula would have pointed out that it was 10 minutes too long and didn't get accepted into a film festival.

Posted by: Chris at October 17, 2005 2:59 PM

By the way, fellow villagers - thanks for rushing out of your fields to help me. Next time any of you have a barn to raise, let me know - I'm there.

Posted by: Chris at October 17, 2005 4:26 PM

I loved the English Patient and I hate Peanuts Cartoons!!!!

Posted by: The Anti Jessica at October 17, 2005 4:56 PM

I'm away from your blog for a few days and you spawn an Anti-Chris? Marvelous. I love the personal responsibility argument thrown up everytime the poor folk get nailed (which happens a lot when we have a trickle-down mythology believer in the white house). What about the personal responsibility in collecting emergency funding tax dollars to rebuild an unnecessary additional ocean-front property in hurricane target zones? What about the personal responsibility in the government's opening up federal dollars to insure bank loans in building these "second homes" in risky areas, because the banks wisely wouldn't take the risk without our tax dollars backing them up. I realize corporate welfare doesn't really intrude into the personal responsibility argument because conservatives don't care for corporate responsibility (hence the willfully blind narrowing of which responsibility they focus their targes on). What about responsibility, without the qualifying word? Who'd have voted for Bush Jr if they wanted responsibility though?

Things will get better though if we just follow the conservative way: hatred for gays, government sponsorship of medieval superstition (religion), funneling our society's wealth to those who control it, and an unquenchable thirst for more powerful weapons. It works for Iran, so well we want to bomb them.

Posted by: simon at October 19, 2005 4:32 AM

Drat, I erased the t from the word target above. Never mind. Because I misspelled a word my entire argument is wrong. I should just become a conservative because the rules against progressives don't apply to them. Then I could feel hatred again, yippee!

Posted by: simon at October 19, 2005 4:35 AM

October 14, 2005

Good Night and Good Luck

With "Good Night and Good Luck," George Clooney seems to be interested in not cluttering his film with manufactured drama, but to get right to what made Edward R. Murrow the gold standard for journalism. In keeping with this, he makes the unique decision to not use an actor for Joe McCarthy, but actual footage of the Senator in action. And he also gets right to the best part, David Straithairn's amazing, simple intonations of Murrow's "See It Now" commentary.

The effect is that we don't get merely a modern dramatic interpretation of the McCarthy / Murrow story, but a simple narrative of Murrow's battles with not only McCarthy but CBS. Thanks for that, George.

At the showing we went to, there was spontaneous applause at the end of three of Murrow's monologues. George Clooney's movie might be a bit heavy on montage, but he deserves heaps of credit for bringing us the exact words of this extraordinary newsman at a time when we deperately need to hear them again.

Posted by Chris on 10/14/05

October 13, 2005

Count 'Til You Hear the Thunder

Everyone knows the trick of how to tell if the storm is coming towards you or moving away - after you see the lightning, start counting until you hear the thunder. If you can count higher every time, it's moving away.

There seems to be a similar time-delay reaction between bad news for the Bush administration and scary terror alerts. Only the storm seems to be staying right in place over our house.

Something happens to give the Bush people a jolt, and two days later, ALMOST TO AN INCIDENT, a terror alert is issued.

In the most recent example, although NY authorities had knowledge of a threat to their subway system, they were asked by federal sources to withhold the announcement a few days. And then Rove was called to testify before Fitzgerald's grand jury. Bush gave his speech on terror, and then - WHAMMO! Specific info that the terr'ists were going to target the trains.

This sort of thing is not a surprise to anyone anymore. I've heard it referenced in more than one comedy routine in the past year. But to give some perspective, Ken Olbermann at MSNBC has indexed thirteen such instances. In every case, the two-day delay between poll dip and terror alert is borne out.

The text of Olbermann's column is here, and video (courtesy of Crooks and Liars) here.



Posted by Chris on 10/13/05

Oh, thank heavens! For a second there, you had me crapping my pants about terror alerts! I didn't actually technically read your post, but I saw the word "terror" used several times throughout.

What I did read was the bold stuff in all caps. And, as I now understand, everything is A-OK. Thanks for keeping us save, Chris.

Posted by: Just Pete at October 13, 2005 1:08 PM

Pete, you just keep watching this space - all important announcements in BOLD!

How's the world of Podcasting?

Posted by: Chris at October 13, 2005 3:16 PM

Let me just put it this way: however much money you're making in blogging, I'm making 10 times that in podcasting. You do the math.

Posted by: Just Pete at October 13, 2005 9:12 PM

Todd From Marketing Finds The Hidden Coin Level

The end of the fiscal year was near, and as usual Marketing was busy putting together some materials on how the company was doing for the next Board meeting.

"Anyone got the final on the Q3 Numbers?" asked Mary.

"I'm sure Accounting has it," Todd replied. "I'll go grab it."

He went to the elevator, and took it three flights up. Marlee's office, where he was going, was at the very front of the Accounting level. As always when he found himself up here, Todd found himself a bit intimidated. He unconsciously moved a bit more quietly, as if in a library. In general he found accountants to be secretive and formal. He could always swear they cut conversations off right when he arrived, as if they had been in the middle of discussing the secret world of money and figures he was not privy to.

Todd entered, said hello to Marlee, and asked after the company's quarterly brief. She smiled and pointed past MaryAnne's desk, into the media room. He'd been up here enough that he could find it on his own.

In the media room he shuffled through some press releases. Just as he was coming to the relevant information - he dropped the papers. He bent down to pick them up, rapping his head sharply on the file cabinet.

"Dammit," he said quietly. He went to his knees to gather the papers. Rubbing his head, he stood up - only to bump his head again on the bottom of a drawer that had slid out.

Todd stifled another curse, and laughed softly. Thank God no one was here to see that, he thought-

-and then he was falling, falling, falling...

Todd was in a shadowy room he'd never been in. Enormous pipes crawled across the walls, up from the floor, out the roof. And covering the floor were what looked like... CDs? Suspended in air? Spinning?

What was this? Where was he?

As he moved closer, Todd saw that they were not CDs at all - they were coins. Hundreds and hundreds of oversized coins. They were the size of plates! They all floated about a foot above the floor, arranged in neat, regular rows, spinning in place. Even though it was dark in the strange chamber, the floating coins gleamed.

He bent down to examine one. It was perfect, without mark or flaw - like the ideal proto-Coin all others were based on. It was beautiful.

It's the Hidden Coin Level, thought Todd.

Tentatively, he reached out a hand to touch one of the spinning golden coins. Just as he made contact there was a sudden bright DING! of a bell somewhere - and it was gone.

Todd was now one coin richer.

He could not help himself. He ran his arm through a whole row of them, sweeping them away with multiple dings.

Soon he was jumping, kicking, ROLLING in the coins. His score went up, up, up. The invisible bell dinged again and again, its tone becoming one long stutter.

His revelry was interrupted by a voice behind him: "Oh SHIT." Todd turned to see MaryAnne and Marlee watching him.

"How did you get in here?" said MaryAnne. "You're not in Accounting, you're in Marketing, HOW DID YOU LEARN THE SECRET COMBINATION MOVE?!?"

"I swear I didn't-" started Marlee, but MaryAnne held up her hand, cutting her off.

Todd didn't know what to say. What had he been doing? To be caught like this! He'd lost control. He was mortified.

MaryAnne said something to Marlee that sounded like codes and numbers - and Marlee quickly moved into the shadows. In a moment she returned with something enormous slung over her shoulder. It was a huge hammer, easily as long as she was tall.

"No, please," said Todd. "That won't be necessary."

"It won't hurt," said MaryAnne. "You'll just go back to the beginning of the level."

Marlee raised the hammer.

"Wait!" Todd implored, hands raised. "Just tell me - is it true there's also an Unlimited Lives level hidden somewhere, too?"

Marlee paused at the top of her swing, frowning at MaryAnne.

"How should I know?" said MaryAnne. "I'm not in Human Resources!"

Marlee brought the gargantuan hammer down on Todd's head. MaryAnne had lied - the pain was immense, complete, filling his world.

For one moment Todd was perfectly flat on the floor of the chamber, and the next he was at the very front of the Accounting level. As always when he found himself up here, Todd found himself a bit intimidated. He unconsciously moved a bit more quietly, as if in a library. In general he found accountants to be secretive and formal. He could always swear they cut conversations off right when he arrived, as if in the middle of a discussion on secret money matters he was not privy to.

Todd entered, said hello to Marlee, and asked after the company's quarterly brief. Marlee smiled and handed over a copy, as if she'd been expecting him.

Posted by Chris on 10/13/05

October 12, 2005

Tom Delay Explains His Indictment

From DeLay launches media blitz to counter prosecutor, indictments on CNN.com:

"I know when you stand up for what you believe in, this kind of thing is going to happen," DeLay boasted on a Houston radio show. "It's part of the fight. I know Democrats hate me and they hate what I believe in and they hate the amazing things we've been able to accomplish ever since we've been in the majority."

He's right - that's a lot of hate focused on poor Tom. Hard to explain, when you consider the amazing things they've been able to accomplish since they've been in the majority:

  • Used questionable, underhanded tactics in Jeb Bush-controlled Florida to get George Bush elected in 2000, including spreading misinformation in black districts. President eventually selected by Supreme Court, despite credible claims that the electorate was defrauded.

  • Used 9/11 as pretense for war in Iraq, despite intelligence showing no connection between Bin Laden and Hussein. (Bin Laden still at large.)

  • Shifted rationale for war from 9/11 to presence of WMDs in Iraq, but cut Hans Blix and weapon inspectors' efforts to find same off. Later still shifted rationale to presence of WMD programs; which meant we were then looking not so much for Uranium as pieces of paper saying Saddam would really like to have some Uranium. Despite this, still didn't find any. Rationale later shifted to "humanitarian reasons." Then, Abu Ghraib.

  • Had intelligence titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S." prior to 9/11.

  • Blocked independent investigation of 9/11; restricted information available to eventual investigation - which did not convene until 2002. In contrast, Pearl Harbor, the Titanic, and the Challenger shuttle disaster all had multiple, unfettered investigations and were convened within weeks, if not days.

  • Instituted absurd color-coded terror system that eventually fell into disuse. Issued terror alerts to distract from their own wrong-doings.

  • Vice President's "previous" company Halliburton continues to receive no-bid contracts. Despite this advantage, still overcharged the government $61M for work in Iraq.

  • Gave country's top richest percent permanent tax cut in time of war.

  • Short-changed soldiers on quality, amount of armor.

  • Cut veteran's benefits.

  • Appointed Alberto Gonzales, who wrote memo defending use of torture, as Atny. General.

  • Amended House ethics rules to allow majority leader Tom DeLay to remain in office though he was being investigated for fund raising fraud - again. (See following line-item)

  • Issued "hard" White House press credentials to GOP shills posing as journalists - including Jeff Gannon - to provide soft-ball questions to President.

  • Routinely manipulates the scientific process and distorts or suppresses scientific findings not consistent with policy. (Ex: Only faith-based, abstinance-only sex ed. programs receive funds, Kyoto Treaty unsigned, etc.)

  • Bush-appointed Sec Interior says drilling in Arctic Wilderness will have no impact on environment. Senate passes law opening Arctic Interior for drilling, despite experts' claims that any oil from the refuge would meet only a tiny fraction of America's needs.

  • Mobilized with righteous speed around Terri Schiavo crisis, ("The pro-life base will be excited...this is a great political issue...this is a tough issue for Democrats."), not so much around Katrina crisis. (See following line-item)

  • Other nominations of note: Outspoken U.N. critic and anti-diplomat John Bolton to diplomatic U.N. post; chief architect of Iraq war Paul Wolfowitz to World Bank, with no economic experience; college friend Michael Brown to F.E.M.A. (See following line-item)

  • Leaked name of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame to press as payback for her husband's statement that he could find no evidence that Iraq tried to obtain yellow-cake Uranium from Niger.

  • Major U.S. port city turned into the equivalent of a third-world country due to botched response to hurricane Katrina, not to mention diverted levee funds and National Guardsmen.

  • Entire GOP leadership under investigation at one time. (Senate majority leader Bill Frist - insider trading, House majority leader Tom Delay - campaign finance fraud, White House - leaking CIA operative's identity for political retribution).
  • This is just the list I've made of the negatives. To be fair, I should also call out some of the positives:

  • Still no recorded blowjobs in the White House.

  • Posted by Chris on 10/12/05

    You are so right on!

    Posted by: Vickery at October 12, 2005 10:43 AM

    Delay and his kind are amazing. We should find out what that bubble he's living in is made of, maybe it will protect us from hurricanes and deadly UV rays.

    Posted by: Chris at October 12, 2005 10:50 AM

    I think you missed one Chris. Another positive, they haven't yet found evidence of VP Dick Cheney torturing kittens... have they? :-O

    Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at October 12, 2005 12:36 PM

    That's only because he hasn't come across any kittens in possession of oil.

    Posted by: Chris at October 12, 2005 2:39 PM

    AND, the "deal" struck between Rove (devil-incarnate) and Dobson (no words to describe) on the nomination of H. Miers, who thinks Bush is the greatest man ever. The Bush administration obviously has watched (even though Mr. B says he doesn't) too much TV. West Wing had this same script last week....However, I would prefer Jimmy Smits as commander in chief over Bush.

    Posted by: Annie Mae at October 13, 2005 6:25 AM

    Rove and Dobson deserve each other. Can't we send THEM to Iraq? There must be so many sinners there Dobson can work on. And so much human goodness that Rove can convert into misery.

    Posted by: Chris at October 13, 2005 10:00 AM

    Great list Chris. I would add one point concerning ammending the House Ethics Rule allowing majority leaders to remain in their post while under investigation: this was a GOP rule pushed through to remove Dan Rostenkowski from his leadership post back in the early nineties (or was it the late eighties? I don't remember because the city I was living in at the time gave more "news" time to wastes like Mike Ditka than to actual news). Shameless.

    Posted by: simon at October 13, 2005 6:28 PM

    October 11, 2005

    Why Slate Article Headlines Annoy Me

    Because they're always in the same sensational style:



    Posted by Chris on 10/11/05

    Note to My Doctor Concerning the Ergonomics Brochures Given to Me Yesterday When I Mentioned My Back Pain

    When I come in and say I have pulled a neck muscle, and it's something that happens periodically, and in response you hand me some xeroxed sheets listing Common Facts About Ergonomics - that is the equivalent of you completely ignoring me.

    I'd rather you just tell me to suck it up and take the pain like a man than give me that stuff.

    Just so you know, I wasn't trying to hint around to get a scrip for the hard stuff. You probably realized that after I requested a recommendation for an over the counter remedy the next time I do pull a muscle and am unable to turn my head for two days.

    I mean, a remedy other than maintaining a 30 degree angle between my field of vision and the monitor, as helpfully illustrated in your brochure.

    Posted by Chris on 10/11/05

    I have been given similar things from my doctor, for stretches etc. Does anybody really keep up on those things, or do them at all?

    Posted by: klugula at October 11, 2005 11:23 AM

    It's not that I think ergonomics is useless, but come on - if I've pulled a neck muscle, it's too late to adjust my posture or get one of those jelly keyboard rests.

    Posted by: Chris at October 11, 2005 11:40 AM

    Of course none of it is useless, but these things are helpful before the injury to keep it from happening, not while the injury is keeping you in bed, crying and moaning. I don't understand why that is hard for most doctors to understand.

    Posted by: klugula at October 11, 2005 12:09 PM

    Plus, this guy wasn't even going to offer up any ideas on OTC remedies - I literally had to stop him on the way out the door.

    Posted by: Chris at October 11, 2005 1:40 PM

    So does the jelly keyboard rest really actually help for those pulled neck muscles? I never believe in those hokey folk remedies... what do you do, rub it on the pulled muscle? Boil it and drink the extract, something like that?

    Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at October 12, 2005 12:30 PM

    It really works best on toast.

    Posted by: Chris at October 12, 2005 2:25 PM

    October 10, 2005

    Carlin's New Orleans Rant

    This got sent around in email this weekend. It's a rant by George Carlin on the New Orleans stuff. Yeah! He'll set it straight! YOU TELL 'EM, GEORGE!

    Subject: George Carlin on New Orleans

    "Been sitting here with my ass in a wad, wanting to speak out about the bullshit going on in New Orleans. For the people of New Orleans... First we would like to say, Sorry for your loss. With that said, Let's go through a few hurricane rules: (Unlike an earthquake, we know it's coming)

    Ha ha! Carlin's Hurricane Rules! This is going to be good! (I think.)

    #1. A mandatory evacuation means just that...Get the hell out. Don't blame the Government after they tell you to go. If they hadn't said anything, I can see the argument. They said get out... if you didn't, it's your fault, not theirs. (We don't want to hear it, even if you don't have a car, you can get out.)

    Ha! HA! HA! Ha... ha? Hmmm. Wait.

    That doesn't sound like Carlin, really. Don't blame the government? We don't want to hear it if you don't have a car? I... hmmm. Oh well, let's keep going.

    #2. If there is an emergency, stock up on water and non-perishables. If you didn't do this, it's not the Government's fault you're starving.

    Well. The words NOT THE GOVERNMENT'S FAULT coming from George Carlin. I suppose all things are possible. But it also seems a little... heartless for him.

    #2a. If you run out of food and water, find a store that has some. (Remember, shoes, TV's, DVD's and CD's are not edible. Leave them alone.)

    #2b. If the local store has been looted of food or water, leave your neighbor's TV and stereo alone. (See #2a) They worked hard to get their stuff. Just because they were smart enough to leave during a mandatory evacuation, doesn't give you the right to take their stuff...it's theirs, not yours.

    Somehow, the Just a Place for Your Stuff routine isn't as good, when the place in question is underwater. Hmmm. George? Is that really you? I mean, I can see a LITTLE bit of crotchetiness with the looting, but the Carlin I know is a bit more of a populist, really.

    #3. If someone comes in to help you, don't shoot at them and then complain no one is helping you. I'm not getting shot to help save some dumbass who didn't leave when told to do so.

    #4. If you are in your house that is completely under water, your belongings are probably too far gone for anyone to want them. If someone does want them, let them have them and hopefully they'll die in the filth. Just leave! (It's New Orleans, find a voodoo warrior and put a curse on them.)

    You know, not only is it not really funny at all, it's also sort of poorly written. I... I just don't think that's George.

    #5. My tax money should not pay to rebuild a 2 million dollar house, a sports stadium or a floating casino. Also, my tax money shouldn't go to rebuild a city that is under sea level. You wouldn't build your house on quicksand would you? You want to live below sea-level, do your country some good and join the Navy.

    OK, it's official. This is NOT George Carlin. Not the famous comedian George Carlin, anyway. Maybe someone found his dumber, Republican namesake somewhere? I'll going to spare you the rest.

    I was suspicious by the end of #1, so I went to Carlin's site. What would you guess is at the top?

    He seems pretty laid back about it. I'd be furious, but then what are you going to do? And anyone that knows Carlin should be able to spot it as a fake fairly quick.

    What kind of person writes this and then tries to pass it along as a Carlin rant? The kind that looks at Katrina and New Orleans and wonders why people just didn't leave, I suppose.

    Posted by Chris on 10/10/05

    Does this mean that you are against the troops?

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at October 11, 2005 8:30 AM

    Duh. A great big pinko. But seriously, who sent you the faux Carlin?

    Posted by: fattyfatty at October 11, 2005 11:52 AM

    Someone that didn't know Carlin very well, but who does now, BELIEVE YOU ME.

    And to Brian: the troops are still OK with me - JUST SO LONG AS THEY ALL LEFT NEW ORLEANS IN A TIMELY, ORDERLY FASHION.

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

    I knew this couldn't be Carlin. As Chris said, he is a populist. And, unfortunately, populists abhor personal responsibility, so he couldn't have written this. (Ooops! Was that "mean spirited"? I'm sorry! I forgot it's mean spirited to expect people to take responsibility for their own actions. I must stop doing that...)

    Posted by: The Anti Chris at October 14, 2005 6:57 AM

    That's OK - I'd use an alias too if my big take-away from Katrina was lack of personal responsibility.

    Don't feel bad - a LOT of people have problems dealing with complexity. That's what broad labels are for - you can use them as shortcuts to thinking!

    Posted by: Chris at October 14, 2005 9:59 AM

    “Shortcuts to thinking?” I assuming you meant “alternatives to thinking.”

    “Shortcuts to thinking” would suggest that despite my conservative nature (which is incompatible with logical thought or even sustainable brain activity), I’d still be able to actually think. I’m sure you didn’t want to give that impression.

    That’s liberals in a nutshell: 1) anyone who doesn’t completely agree with them is stupid, and 2) they can insult anyone, but no one can insult them. Maybe that kind of unwavering unwillingness to debate or analyze complexities, and your boorish condescension, is why you people can’t seem to win an election.

    P.S. “Towards” is not a word, genius.

    Posted by: The Anti Chris at October 14, 2005 1:30 PM

    Well! It didn't take long for you to bring out the well-worn List of What All Liberals Think. Who could accuse you of taking mental shortcuts now?

    And! You've found a grammatical error as well. Can anything I say really be valid now? Truly, your work here is done.

    Interesting that I'm described as boorishly condescending, but you're the one who looked at Katrina and shook your head sadly about personal responsibility.

    Can't analyze complexity? Unwavering unwillingness to debate? You have to be kidding. Your entire statement is filled with the same kind of Bizarro-world statements made by Tom Delay earlier this week.

    So your side of the fence has an "unwavering willingness to debate" and to analyze complexities? I'm sorry, but that's completely at odds with the evidence. This is the group that champions Intelligent Design and faith-based initiatives, right? This is the group that made "Why do you hate the troops" a rallying cry.

    And you're still anonymous. Well. Like everything else in your statement, it's certainly easier.

    Posted by: Chris at October 14, 2005 4:13 PM

    Your comprehension scores keep declining… I did not say “my side” has an “unwavering unwillingness to debate and to analyze complexities”. I said your side does. Geez, try to keep up, Skippy.

    And a “List of What all Liberals Think” is an indication of taking mental shortcuts? Actually, that makes sense, since my inspiration for such a list was your October 12 missive. One of these days, when I have the kind of time one particular mentally intenerate blogger has, I’ll reply to each one of your ridiculous claims in that list. (Actually, it shouldn’t take too long since each of your points is fairly rudimentary and sophomoric. Honestly, do you get all your news from The Daily Show? And don’t get me started on that whole Kyoto Protocol ruse. Really, you people will believe anything!)

    I did not look at Katrina and shake my head sadly about personal responsibility. I shook my head sadly at the entire mess: a mess made worse by the federal government, the state government, the city government, AND many individuals who made poor choices concerning personal responsibility. That is where our views diverge: I chose to look at an entire problem, with all its complexities, while your lot only views any current event for its potential for indulging in more Bush Bashing. (And when you can’t find a current event that will do the trick, you create one. “Chris: Dan Rather is holding on line one for you!”)

    I apologize if I made too many multi-syllabic choices for you. Then again, I hadn’t guessed you received your only formal education in front of a television watching old Seinfield reruns. Should have, but I didn’t.

    Why do you have such a grudge against faith-based initiatives? Who cares if it gets the job done? Oh I forgot: You’re a liberal. Can’t embrace religion in any form. It’s against the State and your creed: “From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs.”

    Wait… maybe that’s the Communist Creed.

    Oh what’s the difference.

    I chose to remain anonymous, because, well, it irritates you. Besides, I thought “The Anti-Chris” was rather clever… not to mention accurate.

    Posted by: The Anti Chris at October 16, 2005 12:24 PM

    Why yes Auntie, you are so clever. Who's a big girl? Auntie Chris is! Now run along before you get that pretty dress dirty. Let the grown-ups talk now.

    Okay, bored now. Going back up to the top of the blog.

    Posted by: fattyfat at October 16, 2005 2:33 PM

    October 7, 2005

    Back to you, Tina

    What is the term in the broadcast news world for that last line a field reporter says before sending it back to the anchors in the news room? The one where they pause ever so slightly right before the end, and then say something to wrap it all up on a wry, ironic note?

    One thing's for sure - when it comes to sudden life changes, the residents of New Orleans... might just be able to tell us a thing or two. James Kimball, reporting from the Astrodome.
    . . .

    With just four weeks to go before midterm elections, Congress may just be wondering if they're going to have... their OWN unemployment problem. This is Tina Gregg, on Capitol Hill. Back to you, Scott.

    . . .

    Despite the ongoing official probe of police misconduct, residents of one South Central neighborhood may be left thinking, which is worse - the gangs... or the LAPD? Back to you, Paul.

    I'm going to guess it's something like The Zinger, or Eyeball. Or maybe The Snap! or the Oh No You Di-in't.

    Posted by Chris on 10/ 7/05

    Al Gore's Speech

    From Talking Points Memo:

    I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse . I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America's fabled "marketplace of ideas" now functions.

    How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it's almost as if America has entered "an alternate universe"?

    Posted by Chris on 10/ 7/05

    My Mom says that all the time!

    Posted by: Vickery at October 7, 2005 1:37 PM

    Come on Chris, you know Al Gore's the bad guy because he's angry, progressive and grew a beard that one time.

    You should get behind president Bush because he claims God talks to him, and who would lie about that? Hearing voices doesn't mean you're crazy, even if they tell you violence is the best way to approach your problems.

    p.s. hi! I miss reading this while I "work"

    Posted by: simon at October 7, 2005 4:41 PM

    October 5, 2005

    I Dance the Dance of Shame

    Due to an innate physical awkwardness and a crippling sense of politeness that weighs me down like a lodestone, I often find myself doing that little awkward two-step when I try to walk past people in a tight corridor. He goes right, I go right. Try again - he goes left, I go left. Uh oh. Repeat. Repeat.

    Usually it's just the equivalent of a little two-man Vaudeville soft-shoe interlude that's embarassing but over in seconds. But I just came back from a record Dance of Shame incident that seemed to go on forever. Compared to the usual soft-shoe this was practically a complex tango routine. I should have presented the guy with flowers when we finally broke free.

    And all the worse because it was in the bathroom.

    What is wrong with me? I see that I'm approaching someone, and in my head I say STAY TO THE RIGHT STAY TO THE RIGHT, YOU'LL BE OK IF YOU STAY TO THE RIGHT, but then the moment comes and I step aside a bit to let him pass, but he does too, then I go in, but he does too, then we both step aside, then he moves to his left, AND THAT'S MY RIGHT AND THAT'S WHERE I WAS GOING TO PASS, and now I'm confused and embarassed and suddenly we're doing a little dance. I always end up mumbling an apology because it's clear that I'm the one that started it.

    I'm telling you this was the longest recorded Dance of Shame in history. God, I thought we were going to have to call someone to help us break free of the loop. It was so complex I should have been wearing sequins and a ball gown. I can never look this guy in the face again.

    Posted by Chris on 10/ 5/05

    Let's just hope that aliens observing us from outer space don't consider this a sort of complex mating ritual.

    Posted by: Foley at October 5, 2005 12:11 PM

    I feel certain those aliens have long since given up and left our solar system. If you're talking about the ones that were waiting to give us hyperdrives and cancer cures.

    But if you just mean some other aliens sitting around watching us like some sort of sad galactic Jerry Springer show, yeah, I can see the Dance of Shame being misinterpreted.

    Posted by: Chris at October 5, 2005 12:40 PM

    I'm fat and mean looking. People always move out of my way.

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at October 6, 2005 6:30 AM

    Yeah, well I am gay, and people know that from a mile away. They always move out of my way, even before I come into view. They sense something sinful is coming.

    Posted by: klugula at October 6, 2005 7:47 AM

    I very nearly spit a large gulp of coffee onto my VeiwSonic I was laughing so hard when I read this. Thanks - I needed that!

    Posted by: Vickery at October 6, 2005 9:11 AM

    If I could only make one person spit a beverage per day, I'd be perfectly content.

    Posted by: Chris at October 6, 2005 12:42 PM

    October 4, 2005


    I somehow have managed to miss all of Joss Whedon's oeuvre so far. I've seen bits and pieces of a few "Buffy" episodes, maybe two "Angels," and a few minutes of "Firefly." I'm not bragging that I've been able to resist it in the face of so many friends being die-hard fans. I'm not one of those people that disdains something if it seems really popular. I understand that it's a gap in my pop culture exposure.

    I like to say that I try not to get hooked on shows because TV execs have repeatedly slapped me down for it, moving or canceling a show just after I've become attached, but I think the reality is more that my attention span has just been whittled away by the Internet. I have trouble sitting still at the same time every week, and in these post-Tivo times I miss a lot.

    I have to admit to a 2% hope that "Serenity" would be no good at all. The die-hard Whedon fans intone the legends of their saviour's suffering at the hands of unbelieving executives ad nauseum, and I sometimes feel it my obnoxious duty to point out that he has hardly been the first in all of entertainment history to be dragged around, misunderstood and abused. I also feel some measure of sympathy for anyone who didn't immediately apprehend the whole vision and arc of a character named "Buffy" who was also a vampire slayer. I mean, I think I'd picture the Kristy Swanson movie too.

    But it seems "Serenity" will be my entry point into the World o' Whedon (or at least the "Firefly" DVDs) because it is a complete, exciting, funny, dramatic sci-fi tale of the type that we haven't seen in a while. You can enjoy the whole movie without having any background from the show at all (all I had was the oft-repeated chorus of how Fox screwed him over). There is an interesting backstory to these characters and their situation but you don't need it; more likely if this is your kind of thing you already know it or you'll be asking for it yourself like I was.

    Whedon makes many smart choices in the movie: When you think about it, the "Reivers" are really nothing more than zombies, which we've seen before, but by modulating what and when we see them, they become dreaded and ominous; The mercenaries aboard the ship sometimes use a sort of futuristic frontier slang which, had it not been executed perfectly, would have been laughable; I learn from a friend who's a fan that the reason they curse in Chinese is because China and the U.S. were the last remaining superpowers at this point in the Serenity timeline.

    "Mal" could be compared to another science-fiction mercenary with a battered ship, but he is very much his own character, a man who has an interesting code and interesting contradictions. The film is smartly written, solid, and exciting - a rare movie treat.

    Posted by Chris on 10/ 4/05

    I had barely noticed this movie, but now I think I may go see it - thanks.

    Posted by: Vickery at October 5, 2005 8:47 AM

    October 3, 2005

    A History of Violence

    There is nothing in this movie that is not done more thoroughly and to greater effect in "The Unforgiven." Imagine if William Munny's wife had still been around and she had no idea that her husband was a notorious thief, and killer of men, women, and children - and there you have the basic plot of "History of Violence."

    The movie takes a few efforts to send us down a blind alley of identity confusion, even making a slight feint towards some sort of split personality idea, but it's all a ruse. It ends up being much less than its title promises - a surpringly unsophisticated tale of men who use violence without much consequence.

    Because I like Viggo Mortensen, I am sad to say that he does not give a shining performance in this film. Unfortunately it was flat to the point that I wondered if he was the right man for the job. Never are we given a hint that he is anything other than what wife Mario Bello thinks he is. After his cover is blown there might have been a slight change in inflection to his voice, nothing more.

    In contrast, everything comes alive when Ed Harris comes onscreen, and his take on the scarred mobster Fogarty is so oddly (yet effectively) cartoony that in his scenes the movie seems full of promise, as if it's not just about a man's violent past catching up with him, but about some alternate comic book dimension intruding on small town reality. Another performance to call out: Ashton Holmes as the teenage son.

    Is this going to be one of those films that fans maintain exists to show the true consequences of violence? No, that movie would be, again, "Unforgiven," or "Dead Man Walking." Tom Stall is forced to confront his violent past, but it seems to me that through more violence he pretty much overcomes it. The sequences of Stall defending himself are slick and emotionally satisfying. Tom was supposed to be a mobster but seasoned C.I.A. operative or master ninja is more like it. He doesn't just put his attacker down on the ground, he twists their arm around with lots of crunching sounds, then puts them down and then stomps on their neck; or karates them so effectively and repeatedly in the nose that the cartilage is shoved up into their brain. (Twice after he is done the camera looks down at someone's ruined face, and I'm thinking, was this guy's mob nickname "Overkill?")

    I know we're supposed to be concerned that the son is using violence inappropriately when he stands up to the bullies - but is he really? Seems to me they deserved the professional ass-kicking he gave them, case closed. Are we supposed to feel guilty for rooting him on?

    Posted by Chris on 10/ 3/05