November 29, 2005

A post about people queuein' up

What's up with people still waiting in line at the box office? Why am I the only one using the automated ticket machine with my debit card? Apart from those older non-chain revival houses, I don't think I've been to a theatre without one of the do-it-yourself swipe-your-debit-card ticket machines for five years.


Posted by Chris on 11/29/05

Did I ever tell you about the time I killed a man with my mind?

Posted by: Ben Jammin' at December 1, 2005 11:12 AM

You did. And frankly, I always thought it was just a case of that man coincidentally having a fatal stroke at the same time you were thinking angry thoughts about him. But because I wasn't sure, I kept it to myself.

Posted by: Chris at December 1, 2005 1:41 PM

Hitchens says we can debate now!

From David Rees, author of the brilliant Get Your War On, a brilliant article in the Huffington Post:

Oh boy, how did I miss this? One of my favorite writers, Christopher Hitchens, has recently announced that it's time to "have a real debate about the Iraq war." SWEET. I was thinking maybe we should wait, like, another three hundred years, but sure--I guess it couldn't hurt to start debating now!

Posted by Chris on 11/29/05

November 28, 2005

House of Five Owls

We moved over the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm not sure I'd recommend a holiday weekend as the ideal time for such a thing, not that you usually have a choice. Although we moved only five blocks, because of the business holidays + weekend it was comparable to the cross-country move in terms of being outside the operating hours of move-related businesses like rental trucks, phone companies, internet providers, locksmiths, etc. Also without television or internet, we felt like pioneers cut off from the world in the middle of the city, and the long holiday blurred into one painful, exhausting period.

The new apartment has twice as much space, has two levels, and is the first place we've lived where we didn't feel like the kids in the basement. It's also well past the rental price I said I'd never pay, because why would anyone throw this kind of money out the door every month when you could be paying on a mortage? Mm-hm.

A few things about the new place:

  • Like many buildings here, the management has affixed plastic owls around the roof, meant to terrify other woodland creatures out of the notion of nesting or crapping on the building. But I count five such Terror Owls, which means either someone has a phobia or at some point this building was the focus of a sustained aerial attack by pigeons and gulls.

    Also - rather than nail the Terror Owls to the roof, they have actually been lazily hung by their necks over the side. So in our courtyard a plastic owl is dangling at each corner like an executed criminal, which to my mind serves mainly as a warning not to pigeons, but to other owls. MESSAGE TO YOU OWLS! DON'T YOU BE COMIN' 'ROUND. THIS IS WHAT WE DO WITH YOUR KIND HERE.

  • When you walk into your new place with that first box, it's bittersweet. Yes, you're moving in, but all that open space just melts away. Also, say goodbye to all those electrical outlets. In a few hours they'll go back to being concealed for years right behind - and in the very middle of - the shelves and the couch.

  • One of the whole points in moving was to get off the very busy street we lived on. It turns out that our new street is not quite as busy, but - our windows are also much closer. Also, it's a favored venue for Bumfights on Friday night.

  • Construction in the lot next to our building started this morning.

    Posted by Chris on 11/28/05

    Bless your hearts! You have a suburban parardise in AZ anytime you want or need it. Can't wait to visit.

    Posted by: Vickery at November 28, 2005 10:10 AM

    I just hope you've room in the alley to dump a couch.

    Posted by: simon at November 28, 2005 3:57 PM
  • November 22, 2005

    Yet another act of charity for the world of business

    Again I find myself in the position to bestow a great boon on the world of business, for free. So numerous have these ideas become that I have now consolidated them into a separate category, Open Source Ideas for Business.

    Why do I not seek to improve my own fortune from these ideas? Why do I merely throw them out into the world of commerce without thought to personal gain? Because I am a believer in open source innovation. And when you read the idea you will agree that the benefit to all mankind is too great for one man to horde it all.

    I am calling for the invention of a thing I like to call the Waiter's Notepad™.

    The Notepad™ is a marvel of engineering that will forever eliminate that awkward negotiating over the bill at the end of a restaurant meal with a large party. No more will you have to open a tedious investigation into who ate what, who drank wine and who had water, who tried some of the appetizer but then hated it so you're not charging them, all in order to divide the bill up in the fairest way possible. Because someone always ends up getting screwed anyway. I'll sometimes pay extra just to end the madness and get the hell out of there.

    It will also remove the need for some beleaguered server to have to practically maintain an accountant's ledger for a table should they agree to split up the check.

    The Waiter's Notepad™ is basically a PDA that features an electronic schematic of your party's table, and is programmed with the entire menu. When you place your order, the server taps your seat on the screen, then enters your choices, and these are instantly transmitted back to the kitchen via some fancy wireless protocol.

    Then: When it comes time to settle the bill, waiter leaves Notepad™ for everyone to pass around. Every seat at the table has a total already beside it, along with a list of all the items ordered. And any of the items can be divided up in any way between any number of other seats. You guys shared an appetizer? Then drag that over to the "Shared" column. These two are a couple and are paying together? Then use the "Group" option for those two seats. Myrtle is a vegetarian so she didn't have any of the chicken wings? Then take her out of that group.

    The Notepad™ will suggest polite tip amounts, but these can be left off.

    Once it's all divided up, everyone swipes their Universal Currency Card* in the slot on the side, the transaction is dealt with wirelessly, and THAT'S IT. NO MORE does the guy who had only soda and a salad get screwed. NO MORE does one person have to act as Impromptu Accountant for the table. NO MORE waiting for the waiter to come back and pick up a stack of credit cards to run.

    The Waiter's Notepad™ makes dining out easy, and fun.

    *Adoption of Universal Currency Card by society required.
    Posted by Chris on 11/22/05

    I concur. However, your plan has left out one important twist. It will never work. Why? Cuz it makes sense. Citizens of the world and of our country specifically, don't do things that make sense. Sorry.

    Posted by: klugula at November 22, 2005 12:40 PM

    WHAT! And no more does that arrogant jerk who reaches for bill first get stuck calulating AND make up the difference while I make my trademarked "cow with a lobotomy" look at the mention of basic math. I actually was RAISED by math teachers. But I don't tell that bastard! Ha, and I didn't throw in for the extra two Coca-Cola's! HHAA! HA. No,no, this idea, this idea needs to disapear. Don't make it easy for that asshat.

    Posted by: fattyfat at November 22, 2005 2:11 PM

    I would also like to point out that I miss the Anti-Chris. Things just aren't as exciting without him attacking my sexism and my spelling. Maybe, if he's too scared to come back, Chris could post a schedule? And we'd each be the Anti-Chris for a week? And the rest of us not on duty could rhetorically beat the crap out of him again?

    Posted by: fattyfat at November 22, 2005 2:14 PM

    If 6 poeple were there than each person pays 1/6th. That's my deal - so you might as well go ahead and have that second cocktail cause you are paying for it either way. :)

    Posted by: Vickery at November 22, 2005 3:41 PM

    I'm taking a risk here by voicing print my greatest inovation for restaurants today. It has nothing to do with the bill.

    But why do waiters not have little blackberry like devices that communicate directly with the kitchen...that way as soon as I say "Chicken fajitas hold the tomato" THE KITCHEN IS ALREADY EXPEDITING THAT ORDER because the waitress (yes that's sexist, I'm sure she's a smart woman) doesn't have to march over to a register, gab with KikI and wait to put my order in.


    Posted by: friend jessica at November 23, 2005 8:58 AM

    A PDA-like device that wirelessly transmits orders back to the kitchen? What a great idea!

    Posted by: Chris at November 23, 2005 1:04 PM

    you will absolutely not believe this, but my brain ABSOLUTELY skipped that portion of your post. I was totally caught up in the bill splitting portion of your idea. I CANNOT believe it. I CANNOT.

    But I'll tell you this..

    I came up with this EONS before you did.

    Posted by: friend jessica at November 23, 2005 4:51 PM

    Don't. JUST... don't.

    Posted by: Chris at November 28, 2005 9:46 AM

    November 19, 2005

    Note to the Fox Executive that Cancelled "Arrested Development"

    No one blames you. The reality is the show failed to spawn an overnight Seinfeldesque / Cheers-like franchise, with all the attendant movie, T-shirt and cultural catchphrase tie-ins that it should have, without any significant marketing help from you. And you held out as long as you could.

    As extensive watching of "T.V. Land" documentaries has taught us, just about every "smash" show in T.V. history, from "The Simpsons" to "Seinfeld" to "M*A*S*H" to "All in the Family," was the result of one creative executive with a vision pushing for the show and championing it to the network even when ratings weren't immediately there. But never mind that.

    Also never mind the Emmys. Because Emmys (and good writing and acting) don't equal ratings, do they? Ratings, as we know, are those vital numbers generated through extensive polling of families I have never seen but who clearly are more "Raymond" people than "Arrested."

    You put forth a heroic effort.

    The truth is, and this is not your fault, you live in a different rhythm than the rest of us. You are the Human Mayfly - you have maybe twelve weeks within which to be born, live, mindlessly flit about in a field mating, green-light as many instant blockbuster franchise television series as possible, and then die. Hell, thirty minutes to the rest of us is like 2537.62 hours to you - and how can anyone be expected to sit through a 2537.62-hour show that has a quirky sense of humor without worrying that it's going to be a mega-hit before the first commercial break of the first episode? You did the best you could.

    Asking you to have the attention span necessary to cultivate a show like "Arrested Devlopment" is like asking the most ADD-addled Ritalin-addicted kid in the third grade to have a book report on Joyce's "Ulysses" by Monday. The fact is, those index cards on the Fox Programming Line-Up board just BEG to be shuffled around every week. Maybe you should move the show to Monday instead of Sunday? And then how about Thursday next week? And! You can air two new episodes back to back!

    It takes guts for anyone at Fox - with your history of killing T.V. classics in the crib ("Family Guy," "Firefly," "The Ben Stiller Show," "Action") - to hit the CANCEL button, but you did the hard thing and strangled another one. The fact that you have not moved to all reality programming all the time is a major victory for human endurance and OOO! Something shiny just entered your field of vision! OOO! Pretty! Run! Catch it!

    Yes, go and chase that shiny thing for a while! Quick, get it! Leap for it! Run, Fox TV Executive! Run! Chase that shiny dream!

    Posted by Chris on 11/19/05

    Amen, brother.

    Posted by: Just Pete at November 19, 2005 6:57 PM

    Shiny? Shiny? Where? Ooooo ...

    Posted by: relpek at November 19, 2005 8:39 PM

    I didn't know they cancelled the show. I was afraid some intelligent humor was beginning to creep back into societies conscious. Kudos to the exec who stopped it before it was too late. May the bird of paradise fly up his ass.

    Posted by: Ben Jammin' at November 21, 2005 10:45 AM

    Gotta make room for warmed over shit like "The War At Home"

    Men: Aren't they the worst? AM I RIGHT? With the remote and the burping? Oh MAN that's comedy.

    Posted by: friend jessica at November 21, 2005 11:15 AM

    November 17, 2005

    Fooled Again

    From an interview with Mark Crispin Miller, author of Fooled Again, in American Prospect:

    The great thing about America is its basis in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. I think liberals and conservatives can ultimately agree on that much. The differences come from how we interpret those ideals, but we conservatives and liberals alike differ markedly from the theocrats who’ve hijacked the country because they do not believe in the ideals on which this country is based. They have a kind of racialist and religiously fanatical ideal in mind, and they want to police people’s personal behavior. ‘Christian conservative’ is a complete misnomer. This is a radical theocratic movement. In its way it’s just about identical to the Islamist movement, which is why I call it Christianist in Fooled Again. Because it’s not Christian in any way that I can see. [And] they’re not conservatives, there’s nothing conservative about them.

    Emboldenment mine. (And italicizing, too, if you want to get technical.)

    Posted by Chris on 11/17/05

    There seems to be much overlap between the pro-theocracy crowd and the folk who remind us it's important to maintain our level of Cold-War military overexpendeture because "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance" and "freedom ain't free", etc. It would be nice for them to see the forest, not the trees, for once and understand that selling our freedoms, democracy and values out to the big business known as religion is no freedom at all.

    Failing that, doesn't Iran serve as a good case against mixing religion with government? How about pre-occupation Afghanistan? Anyone who thinks "yeah, but Christianity is better than Islam" might want to listen to some of Pat Robertson's and the pope's more vile statements.

    Posted by: simon at November 18, 2005 4:25 AM

    November 16, 2005

    Junkyard Prosecutor

    From CNN:

    (Bob Woodward) said the disclosure of Plame's identity had caused "quite minimal damage" at the CIA and called Fitzgerald "a junkyard dog prosecutor."

    "He goes everywhere and asks every question," Woodward said.

    Thank God someone is, Bob. If only we had "journalists" to do that kind of thing now. Kind of like you did once upon a time with Watergate?

    Also: I'm sure Nixon considered you and Bernstein to be "junkyard dogs," or worse.

    Posted by Chris on 11/16/05

    How's that spread of democracy going?

    Very well, thanks for asking! One way we're spreading democracy to the world is by trying to abolish "habeus corpus" for people the administration deems to be enemy combatants. "Habeus Corpus" is a very confusing and unpatriotic thing in Latin that forces us to give people we just KNOW are guilty the chance to have a trial.

    Please! If they were innocent, why would they be in prison?

    If they deserved a trial, then why would the administration have deemed them "enemy combatants?"

    The very fact that they would ask for a trial in a time of war, which of course gives aid and comfort to our enemies, says it all. Kudos, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), for sponsoring the bill.

    Another great democratic thing we're doing is having a series of secret prisons for these people that we just know are guilty. These are great because, who can ask for an unpatriotic trial if no one knows you're in jail or why they're there? Also, this means that we'll have plenty of time with prisoners to convince them we're #1 and spread democracy to them.

    If only this editorial writer saw it this way. Maybe he should listen to what our President says about it.

    Brushing aside international criticism of the CIA-run prisons set up in eight countries, Bush said that the nation is at war with an enemy "that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet, we'll aggressively pursue them, but we'll do so under the law." Bush, who spoke to reporters during a brief visit to the capital of Panama, also asserted, "We do not torture."

    Bit of a screw-up with that last bit, though, because V.P. Cheney was almost simultaneously arguing before the Senate that we SHOULD be able to torture prisoners if we want to, and not be subject to any "bans." He made

    an unusual personal appeal to Republican senators this week to allow CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terror suspects in U.S. custody, according to participants in a closed-door session.

    Further, Cheney said

    the administration needed an exemption from any legislation banning "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment in case the president decided one was necessary to prevent a terrorist attack.

    Now, folks, getting information out of people you just know in your heart of hearts are terrorists is like making sausage. (Sometimes literally, if the pictures are to be believed! Ha! Ha! Ha!) No one wants to see it done, but everyone enjoys that sizzlin' smell of fresh enemy intel in the morning! And with a side of eggs and democracy!

    And it's not as if our administration would use the idea of a terrorist attack as an excuse to do anything they wanted. Don't be absurd. I'm sure they would only do this when it was REALLY necessary.

    Secret prisons, suspension of basic human rights, allowing torture. When those other, backwards countries see how great it can be from our example, democracy will catch right on!


    Posted by Chris on 11/16/05

    The reality that this administration will be in power until 2008 seems like a very long, disturbing dream. America please wake up!

    Posted by: Vickery at November 16, 2005 12:37 PM

    The word spread always seems dirty.

    Posted by: friend jessica at November 17, 2005 9:20 AM

    November 14, 2005

    My prescription for SNL

    I think people have been offering Lorne Michaels advice on what's wrong with Saturday Night Live since the very first season, what was it? Fifty, sixty years ago? And the show has just kept rolling regardless. I think it's ready for the Vault, but here's my two cents on how to improve it:

    1. No more retrospectives on how the show began. No more anniversary specials. Yes, we know the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players were the most brilliant ever. They were comedy Gods, yes yes yes. But I think the hilarity of this show is inversely proportional to how much of a legendary institution it is. Give the congratulations a rest.

    2. There's barely enough material to fit the time slot. If you took out the musical guest and the amazing number of commercials how much do you have anyway? The show should be one hour, not an hour and a half. Note that Mad TV does it in an hour and is funnier.

    3. I know Lorne Michaels is super-proud of his chaotic writer's room, but I maintain it has always created sketches that are more miss than hit. In addition to reducing the show by a half hour, devote maybe a third of the night to showing classic skits from the past. There's an amazing library that's been amassed at NBC - so use it.

    Now you're down to almost just thirty minutes of original material a week, considering commercials, which surely can be done. If it's a particularly poor writing week, the ratio can be changed in favor of the classic skits.

    Posted by Chris on 11/14/05

    You are absolutely right. It is high time that viewers start giving MAD TV their valuable attention. I have not watched SNL for many years. I caught some the other night and was not at all impressed. MAD TV on the other hand, continues to grow and get better each season. MAD TV's actors are completely underrated, and thank God they have yet to make any character movie spin offs.

    Posted by: klugula at November 14, 2005 12:08 PM

    SNL seems to move in waves, like pro sports teams, where it's really good for a year or two, followed by several "rebuilding" years. I agree, MAD is very good on a regular basis, but I think a great number of people stick with SNL because of market recognition. I know that sounds ridiculous, but, as Arrested Development has proven, the American Public are a fickle bunch in all aspects of American life.

    One more note, then I'll be on my way. It seems as though SNL is always more funny after the shows are a few years old and some of the actors in the "classic" skits have gone on to bigger and better things. I remember that I didn't think Sandler was particularly funny during his tenure on SNL, but, looking back, he's still not all that funny. I do like him in some of his movies, though, so please, no personal attacks against me if you're a Sandler fan.

    Posted by: Foley at November 14, 2005 12:47 PM

    I really liked Sandler in "Punch Drunk Love." It seemed like a real risk to put him in that role, and I thought he really nailed it. I also think things like "Wedding Singer" and "50 First Dates" will probably be fondly remembered. But in general, I know what you mean.

    Posted by: Chris at November 14, 2005 2:06 PM

    Well said, and those are the most pratical bits of advice regarding the show. So many critics try to mimic the old edginess of the show itself by calling for a quick death. The headline "Saturday Night Dead" seems to run in TV columns every five years.
    Michael O'Donahue himself called for a Viking funeral in 1979.
    After Michaels came back, the show had ceased to be "something the country does together." And TV shows hold that title for only a few years. I include All in The Family, M*A*S*H, and more recently The Sopranos and Desperate Housewives. After a few years, the country finds something else and the fans stay. In the case of SNL, each sub generation passed it to the kid brother and little sister. By post college, they'd forgotten about it. I don't think SNL markets to us. We've been out of their radar for a long long time. Especially you, Chris. I think Wil Farrel is fantastic, but I never knew I felt that way from watching SNL occasionally. It wasn't until he broke into film that I could see how great is was. But I posit that 17 year olds still quote the show, still stay home to watch it, and still repeat the sketches at school the next day the way we did. I sleep with alot of 17 year olds and they all tell me that.

    Posted by: fattyfat at November 14, 2005 5:53 PM

    November 11, 2005

    ~ Desiderata for a Residential Landlord ~

    Go placidly amid thy noisy tenants, Residential Landlord, and remember what peace there may be in doing the exact minimum to fulfill your legal obligations.

    On that day when misfortune finds you, Landlord, and even a crust of bread would help: Know that there is a two-month deposit on my mercy, and the credit application is lengthy.

    Landlord: Even though you saw my advertisement for a simple word of kindness in the paper, upon ringing me up ye shall find it was rented two months ago. I just haven't bothered to update the ad, sorry.

    Do not make haste, O Landlord; for if you should stumble near my sight, no other thing would cause more mirth.

    Lo though you come to my door with your hair afire, and though my bladder be full, I shall not loosen my fly to quench the flames.

    Do not find yourself within the reach of my arm, Landlord. I shall not extend it to slap thee but neither shall I stay its swing if you happen to stray too close when I am "stretching."

    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. Because I think I have plans that day.

    On that day when you are at your darkest hour: I have a guy that is coming by to change out the lightbulb any day now, so just sit tight.

    LANDLORD! Question me not on any matter! For I shall answer thee in monosyllables and hang up.

    Lo though you may be near to death from thirst, I shall not have correct change to give you for the vending machine. Well, I do, but I'm saving those quarters for your laundry machines.

    Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery - oh, hang on. Look who I'm telling this to!

    Yes, I have jumper cables, Landlord, but I don't like to get them dirty.

    When you find yourself struggling with five pieces of luggage up the stairs to the train platform, and it's raining, and crowded, and I pass by and my arms are empty; good luck with that.

    When we are then both at the top of the stairs, lo though your arms pinwheel frantically for balance, I shall not push thee; but neither shall I extend a hand to steady you.

    Above all, Landlord, be yourself. Actually - scratch that.

    Posted by Chris on 11/11/05

    Question of the Day

    Would the "White Album" still be just a bit creepy had I never heard of Charles Manson? And why did the jury in the eventual murder trial ask to hear the album? Weird.

    Posted by Chris on 11/11/05

    November 10, 2005

    Truly, he is a man of God

    Powerful holy man Pat Robertson has just issued a blanket denial of God's love to the entire town of Dover, PA:

    On today’s 700 Club, Rev. Pat Robertson took the opportunity to strongly rebuke voters in Dover, PA who removed from office school board members who supported teaching faith-based “intelligent design” and instead elected Democrats who opposed bringing up the possibility of a Creator in the school system’s science curriculum.

    Rev. Robertson warned the people of Dover that God might forsake the town because of the vote.

    "I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover. If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there."

    Truly, if the 700 Club can withhold God's glory at will then they are a force to be reckoned with. Let's hope they don't also have access to the Ark of the Covenant. Because then what army could hope to stand against them?

    Posted by Chris on 11/10/05

    It has become clear. He must be destroyed.

    Posted by: klugula at November 10, 2005 6:43 PM

    I can't believe you referenced him by name! You know that, as orthodox bloggers, we are only to acknowledge him as "He who is blameless". Chris, you really need to revisit your faith.

    Posted by: Just Pete at November 11, 2005 6:01 AM

    When I saw that on the news today I just shook my head. I have one question for Pat - what would Jesus do?

    Posted by: Vickery at November 11, 2005 10:14 AM

    I'm no Biblical scholar, but it seems likely to me that What Jesus Will Do when He returns is spend about a week just puking at what the flock has been up to in His name.

    Then, after that, I'd guess there'll be a lot of smiting.

    Posted by: Chris at November 11, 2005 12:30 PM

    As of late, I just think Jesus is sitting at his desk, pinching the bridge of his nose and sighing.

    Posted by: friend jessica at November 13, 2005 7:27 PM

    You know the thing I like about Pat Robertson - no wait... that was Pat Sajak.

    Nevermind. My mistake.

    Posted by: Ben Jammin' at November 14, 2005 8:15 AM

    I’m probably not going to express this well – certainly not as eloquently as some of the other “bloggers”, but it is on my heart so –here goes.

    As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am constantly aware of how we often do the right thing in the wrong way. Just today I was reminded of the story of David moving the Ark back to Jerusalem. As you know, the presence of the Ark was vital to victory and blessing. He was definitely doing the right thing – read II Samuel 6: (two dots) 1 – 8. God was angry and killed Uzzah because he reached out to catch the Ark as it began to fall from the cart during the relocation. To Uzzah, it seemed like catching the falling Ark was the right thing to do. But looking back at Exodus 25: (two dots) 10 – 14, we find that God had a specific way to transport the Ark. David did not follow those specific instructions.

    In the same way, believers are often guilty of doing the right thing the wrong way. We are commissioned by Jesus himself to “go everywhere in the world and tell the Good News to everyone, but anyone who does not believe will be punished.” This instruction comes right from the Top! Additionally we are commissioned to speak the truth in love to those who have strayed. In the case of Pat Robertson, I believe he was doing the right thing. But he did it in the wrong way. There didn’t seem to be much “love” in his speaking. The emphasis was on the wrath of God – which is a very real, very awesome thing. There is a time when God will turn his back on a people who refuse to repent and continue in worldly ways. But I am also reminded of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God told Abraham his plan to destroy these two wicked cities. Yet he listened as Abraham pleaded for the people. He asked God if he would save the cities if 50 good men were found there. Abraham bargained all the way down to saving the cities if only 10 good men were found there. God’s heart’s desire is that people will come to him, not destroy them. Not to limit them. Not to restrict them. Not to take away from them. Not to saddle them with impossible laws and orders. God wants everyone to come to him so that He can love on them. That same voice that spoke the world into existence longs to whisper into each heart. Those same mighty arms that hold us up when the world beats us down are just itching to give us a hug. One of my favorite verses is Zephaniah 3: 17:

    “The Lord you God is with you;
    the Mighty One will save you.
    He will rejoice over you .
    You will rest in his love;
    He will sing and be joyful about you.”

    In this context the word “joyful” means to spin about wildly with joyful anticipation. Our Awesome, Holy Heavenly Father loves us so much He turns cartwheels over us!!!

    All throughout history God has sent prophets to warn His people. The message in invariably one His people did not want to hear. But what loving parent does not correct and discipline their child? Sometimes we just have to look past the messenger and hear the message.

    Posted by: lvm at November 21, 2005 6:18 AM

    Being kind and generous has always been your sweet nature, but I think you are being too kind and too generous with Pat Robertson.

    I agree there is a time to look past the messenger at the message, but there is also a time to stand up and call down a consistently hateful man who claims to speak for God. I don't think someone should get blanket support on any sort of behavior just because they claim to be a spiritual leader.

    And let's recall that his rebuke came over the Intelligent Design debate. Not for nothing, but even the Vatican just issued a statement saying Intelligent Design wasn't science.

    At a time when American school kids are hardly #1 in the world, I think it's dangerous to send them the message that if they don't care for something they're learning, they can just claim it's not in God's plan.

    Believe me - if in high school I thought I could use this argument, I would never have bothered with Algebra at all!

    (On a side note, I always thought the guy in the Old Testament that got zapped for reaching out to steady the Ark of the Covenant got one of the rawest deals in the Bible. I suppose it would have been better to let it fall over and spill the tablets? And then everyone's faces would have melted as they scooted around trying to put the lid back on! Let's at least ask the Catholics to appoint this guy the Patron Saint of the Raw Deal.

    Why he got zapped and Pat Robertson hasn't, I guess we have to chalk up to God's mysterious ways.)

    Posted by: Chris at November 21, 2005 10:39 AM

    I am a Christian and a good friend of Chris's and I argue with him on these topics like clockwork...The largest problem I have with Evangelical leaders of the present day Christian Church, is that, much like the Spanish Inquisition, it's predicated on Fear. Fear and Surprise.

    Fire and brimstone and what amounts to hate. Jesus told us that the greatest commandment was to love the lord your god with all of your heart soul and mind, but ALSO - to love your neighbor as yourself. I have never seen Pat Robertson love a sinner. He has nothing but love for the 'perfect christians' of the world...but it's the Sick who need the Doctor, not the well.

    I express the love of Jesus through example, I believe, and while I haven't frightened many people into accepting the Lord into their heart, I have shown people through my life and actions, that Christianity brings joy,hope,peace and compassion.

    Your son is so great and so loving and compassionate that while he may not believe it himself, I think he echoes many of Jesus' teachings on a daily basis.

    Posted by: friend jessica at November 21, 2005 11:13 AM

    12 years of Catholic school, and this is the first time I've ever heard the name "Uzzah."

    And to think... I almost went to the seminary after highschool. But I loved the ladies too much.

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at November 21, 2005 2:24 PM

    November 9, 2005


    Will I be going to the Screenwriter's Expo this weekend? I just don't know if I can muster the will. There will be no greater concentration of cheeseballs on the entire globe, unless a Magic Morning Zoo Convention happens to be going on somewhere.

    Last time I went I seem to recall doing a great bit of wandering around the convention center itself, which can be very lovely, at least those parts not given over to cheeseballs.

    Let me guess what I will experience if I do go: A seminar on the 12 Basic Character Arcs, in which they will discuss what Hollywood executives are buying these days; an intensive session on How To Hone Your Story Pitches, in which they will discuss what Hollywood executives are buying these days; a discussion about The Mythic Journey of Film Characters, in which they will discuss what Hollywood executives are buying these days; a neat one called Your Life Is Your Movie: Tapping Into The Unique Screenplay That Exists Inside All of Us, in which they will discuss what Hollywood executives are buying these days; and of course the What Hollywood Executives Are Buying These Days seminar, which will be unavailable because it was oversold.

    There will be many entertainment-biz branded baseball caps in evidence. There will be many handsomely-printed business cards changing hands. There will be much parsing of what screenwriting God Joss Whedon had to say. There will not be much smiling as people "network" with one another.

    It is not that I don't have so much to learn, but at what cost? At what... cost?

    ($65 entry fee, $10 per session, giving up the weekend, a portion of my very immortal soul)

    Posted by Chris on 11/ 9/05

    I'm proud of you for going.

    Do something every single day to further your career. SOMETHING! No matter how small.

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at November 10, 2005 9:08 AM

    It seems to me that most of the things I went ahead with when I didn't really want to do them turned out to be the best. It's all in the attitude! And you just never know.....


    Posted by: Mom at November 10, 2005 12:27 PM

    Comment #2....

    And just what ARE the big studio exec's buying these days?? Inquiring minds want to know!!!

    Posted by: Mom at November 10, 2005 12:28 PM

    November 8, 2005

    CSI: Cheeseball

    The CSI: Miami people are back, and this time they have installed fake metal detectors in our building to assist them in their drama-making. Maybe I'll see a certain red-haired actor, smoking an expensive cigar while waiting to barely hold in his outrage in the next scene?

    As always when I see a TV or movie production, I am always baffled and weirdly offended by the sheer throngs of people and large numbers of tractor trailers someone felt were necessary. There are always the Sunglasses n' Cellphone folk, all of whom very much like their hair, having VERY serious conversations in the inner circle near all the expensive stuff, and then in the outer ring near the trucks, the Weathered Gypsies and security guards. Are all those people really necessary to make with the movie magic? I wonder.

    But the reality is, I am coming at it from the angle of having to personally carry all that equipment, and personally call all those people individually to make sure they remembered we were shooting that day. And of course that's just not how it works. There is some middle ring of people there, near the craft service cart, that exist to handle all those functions, and in general to serve as buffers between the Inner Ring people and the rest of the world, and also to be fired by them when anything goes wrong.

    What cheeseballs they all are. How I long to one day be their King.

    Posted by Chris on 11/ 8/05

    I know you will be the king one day...
    Every king needs a jester. That's where I come in. Make it so.

    Posted by: klugula at November 8, 2005 1:05 PM

    I too BELIEVE! And look very forward to being part of your entourage.

    Posted by: Vickery at November 8, 2005 2:26 PM are my only hope for early retirement. I'll handle the lunches!!


    Posted by: Mom at November 9, 2005 7:14 AM

    I like my hair too. Possibly, not enough.

    Maybe that's why I can't get work.

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at November 9, 2005 8:29 AM

    November 7, 2005

    Recipe for disaster

    Last weekend a rare mood of domesticity came over me, and I decided that a good treat for Wife Ami and myself would be biscuits and mushroom gravy on Saturday morning.

    The ladies in my family seems to be able to whip them up out of thin air and memory, but for me, to make this most basic unit of breakfast I must make a shopping list and then go to the grocery store. Twice. The process began at 7:30 and by 8:15 I remembered why Bisquick had been invented. What a disaster.

    Baking for me is hard because I am dealing with things that appear identical, but are different in invisible, yet vital ways. There is general purpose flour, and there is self-rising. There is baking powder, and there is baking soda. Things can be measured in Tsp, or the slightly different TBsp. Sometimes yeast is used. Combine these things in the correct fashion and fluffy, buttery, delicious biscuits spring forth. Get it wrong and you have just fashioned a tasteless hockey puck.

    Is there anyone else in the world who could begin a recipe, have bowls filled with items ready to go, utensils arrayed, oven pre-heated, and then find that there was no salt in the kitchen? No, just me. No kitchen in the history of the universe has ever found itself missing salt - except mine, on Biscuit Making Day!

    Because biscuits are so simple and easy, you will find about 400 recipes in any Basic Cookbook, but they are written by people for whom the act of making them is as effortless as breathing. A typical step one might go, "Get your dough ready." Imagine writing out how to breathe for someone new to this world, and you'd probably make assumptions, too.

    I picked one recipe at random, and in two steps had made some fundamental error. I followed through, however, and by the end I seem to have invented some new form of tasteless, unleavened bread. These were not biscuits but the kind of thing that some particularly strict religion might grudgingly allow its adherents to subsist on during long and frequent fasts, in honor of an angry, merciless God.

    Or perhaps I had remade something that an ancient sea-faring people might have packed for long journeys, to keep them from starvation without reminding them of the joys of "food."

    Whatever it was, not even jelly, generously applied, could save them. We tried to break some of them apart with mallets in order to get them down, but finally we gave up.

    And the gravy? Don't get me started. As Felix Unger memorably said, "Gravy doesn't just COME." No, it doesn't.

    Posted by Chris on 11/ 7/05

    At least you tried. At least you tried...

    Posted by: klugula at November 7, 2005 5:07 PM

    Here again I nearly lost a large gulp of my perfect tempature vanilla caramel 1/2 caff into the HP Keyboard! Damn, you are funny. Funny how? You amuze me infinately. Thanks. Next time try Perfect Portions - they are oven ready.

    Posted by: Vickery at November 8, 2005 7:44 AM

    Dear to your MOTHER. While I am queen of poundcakes, she has the royal diadem for biscuits!

    Posted by: annie mai at November 8, 2005 7:57 AM

    I am totally surprised at your difficulty in creating regular biscuits when you are definitely the king of angel biscuits. Here you go....there are two versions that are sure fire hits. Both require White Lily SELF RISING flour, which may or may not be available to you. Let me know. The Aunt Inez method: Use a pyrex pie pan and pour just enough cooking oil in to cover the bottom. Now, use about two cups flour and just enough milk to make a stiff dough (start with a little and add more if you need it). Roll and cut. Remember it's important to handle the dough as little as possible. Put the biscuits in the pan and turn over - oily side up. Bake at
    425 til brown. Mine: 2 cups self rising flour, 1/8 cup butter flavored Crisco, milk. Put the flour and Crisco together and cut in with a pastry blender until coarse. Add milk...again start with a little and add more if needed. Cut out on floured surface and place in greased baking sheet. Bake at 425. That's all I can do for you!!!! Come to B'ham and I'll make you some!

    Posted by: Your Mother at November 8, 2005 12:30 PM

    Once as a young man I proceeded to make cookies. I had obviously added to much 'something' because they were so hard you could not bite into them. At the time we had a wood stove so I just through the cookies in there to scorch them from existence. The recipe I followed was obviously God's recipe for wood as my cookies, when burned, actually left coals.

    Posted by: Ben-Jammin' at November 10, 2005 8:54 AM

    November 2, 2005


    The next time someone says that they don't make good movies anymore, or in any way goes into that old harangue about all the crap at the cinema these days (a harangue which began about one minute after the first showing of "Train Pulling Into the Station" in 1895), you just invite them to come off their artistic high horse and remember that we live in the time that Cameron Crowe is working.

    I am not putting Crowe on the Cinema God pedestal, but his movies have all been consistently excellent: "Almost Famous," "Jerry Maguire," "Singles," "Say Anything...," and I'm not crazy about "Vanilla Sky," but there it is too.

    Like other great writer / directors, he works a little less frequently, but you know when one of his films comes out it's going to be something special. "Elizabethtown" is not a perfect film, and does not equal "Almost Famous" or "Jerry Maguire," but there is absolutely no reason not to see this, and every reason to go. It's just rare to get to see a movie of this quality.

    The first third or so of the movie is so right-on perfect that it will be the kind of thing screenwriters study. Orlando Bloom gives the best performance I've seen from him here, and to Kirsten Dunst can I just say, you had me at hello. You had me at hello five movies ago. Crowe has put in the same effort in making Dunst's character his vision of a perfect woman as he did with the 'Penny Lane' and 'Dorothy Boyd' characters.

    The movie does not remain at this high level throughout but we're still well in the black, even up to the predictable, almost stand-alone homage to rock music and road trips that Crowe inserts. Susan Sarandon has a misplaced monologue that felt five times too long, unadvised and unearned for her character, but that is the only thing I'd change.

    And when did Alec Baldwin go from being a dashing leading man to a guy who could make me laugh the minute I saw him onscreen? Seriously, which movie was it? "Outside Providence?"

    Like "Jerry Maguire," and also like some of the recent James L. Brooks films, Crowe's movie unfolds without great economy, but you shouldn't much care because even when it strays and rambles, it's great. Of note also is how this movie treats the South, which I'd say was just about the most perfect depiction I've seen.

    Posted by Chris on 11/ 2/05

    As you know, I am something of a home theather snob, but I think you may have inspired me to go out in public for this one. Michael used to live In Elizabthtown don't you know. It's a "character" building kind of place.......

    Posted by: Vickery at November 4, 2005 12:30 PM

    Impressions of the West Hollywood Halloween Parade

  • The difference between going to the parade in costume this year and going without one last year is immense. This year we were both spectators and participants. We couldn't stop grinning. A little disconcerting at first to have people stare, but it's part of it.

  • "Jeannie and the Major" were a hit. We knew it was working when even the guys in drag wanted our picture. People clapped, strangers wanted pictures of us. Mostly people wanted a picture of just Jeannie, but sometimes with me too, which was fine. (Ultimately I ended up looking a bit more like Milkman Dan from "Red Meat" than a military guy anyway.)

    A few roving reporters wanted our pictures, too. At least I hope they were reporters - we may be featured on some fetish web site even now for all I know.

    We definitely fell into the "Cute" category, as opposed to the much more prevalent "Risque" classification. The typical reaction came from girls, who would look at us and say "Awwwww! It's Jeannie! OH AND LOOK THE MAJOR!" Or we'd hear as we passed, "Did you see Jeannie and Major Nelson?" Weren't we cute.

    One person memorably just said "Look, it's Jeannie and the Man." We also got one "It's Jeannie and... and the Professor!"

    Next year: Hi and Ed from "Raising Arizona."

  • There were many, many queens dressed as Marie Antoinette.

  • In the "Risque" category: Lots and lots of ripped, mostly naked guys dressed as demons, or angels, with full body paint, pitchforks, bat-wings, etc.

  • One of my favorites: "The Bride" from "Kill Bill" surrounded by about ten of the "Crazy 88s." They walked through the crowd, occasionally breaking out into a well-choregraphed sword fight with one another. Then they'd pick themselves up and run off again.

  • The most elaborate: Two guys dressed as Katrina refugees. They each wore half of a house, and stood beside one another. Their torsos poked through the roof, with fake legs stretched out as if they were sitting up there. They held up signs that said HELP US and WHERE'S FEMA?

  • Related: Two guys dressed as Katrina and Rita. They stood in the middle of the street, spinning, with 20-foot swirling arms coming out that had "debris" caught up in them. They also squirted anyone that came near with waterguns.

  • A great moment: when we ran into the only other Jeannie. Also when the Mom from the Incredibles and Ami passed each other and both said "Great costume!" at the same time. We also got great pictures with not only a Ricky and Lucy but several Pimps n' Hos, a Devil Lady, and some awesome superheroes.

  • There was a Travelling Disco that held up foot traffic for blocks but was pretty well-done.

  • There were four guys in drag as the girls from "Grease" - Rizzo, Frenchie, Marty, and Bad Sandy. They liked our costumes too.


  • A guy in drag, dressed as I THINK Tippi Hedron. He wore a tall blond wig and a fur coat, and attached to the coat all over were a few dozen mechanical black birds, their wings all flapping. In his matching purse was a hidden speaker that broadcast the sound of birds screeching.

  • There was a priest with an "altar boy" attached to the... ahem, lower front part of his costume. Facing in.

    Posted by Chris on 11/ 2/05

    I went as a zombie this year. Big surprise right? Actually, it has been a few years since we really got decked out in the Halloween spirit. I was very pleased w/ my makeup job. It was a nice mixture of rotten flesh, and bruised, multi-colored stages of decay. I added several fake flies to my face as well. I had to paint my arms and neck as well, and am still finding various specks of green/brown rotten colors on my arms. No amount of showering and scrubbing has deleted them completely. I wore a med outfit; all turquoise blue. It came w/ the shirt, pants, hat and stethoscope. I added much blood and many flies around the crotch area of my pants. I wanted to add some other bodily fluids around various nether regions, but was unable to get it done. Don't you lose bladder and bowel control when you die? So the flies gave you the idea.

    Posted by: klugula at November 2, 2005 12:33 PM

    I almost feel like I was there thanks! I went as a human size piece of candy corn - definately in the "cute" catagory. Nakedness is soooo overdone!

    Posted by: Vickery at November 3, 2005 8:49 AM

    Pictures! We need pictures!

    Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at November 4, 2005 8:56 AM
  • May the Plot Be With You

    Interesting (if maybe a bit simplistic and apocryphal) deconstruction of the six Star Wars films, taken as a whole, on Slate. Kudos to the editors for resisting some title like "What You Don't Realize About Star Wars."

    Post done; cue comments on how George Lucas is evil and Joss Whedon / the Wachowski brothers embody the forces of Good.

    Posted by Chris on 11/ 2/05

    Where are the promised photos??? Your description has just whetted my appetite!!!!


    Posted by: Mom at November 9, 2005 7:20 AM

    November 1, 2005

    Thought for the day

    Some thoughts from Lance Mannion on whether or not these are the worst of times:

    The man asked, "What kind of government have you given us, Mr. Franklin?"

    And Ben replied, "A Republic. If you can keep it."

    Oh great, now I've got that Dennis DeYoung song in my head.


    A better quote to lift from the post would have been:

    I can go on and on, through the Labor Wars and the Red Scares of the early 20th Century, through the Depression and World War II, the Cold War and McCarthyism, Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate, Newt Gingrich and the Contract on America, the Impeachment Crisis, all the way up to George W. Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito. It's always been and will always be the worst of times for the Republic, because, frankly, most people just aren't up to living in a Republic.

    There's always a sizable minority who want to live in an aristocracy, a plutocracy, an oligarchy, or even a monarchy, anything but a democracy, because they want power over everybody else. And the majority doesn't care what form of government they live under as long as their bellies are full and their kids are safe and there's something good on Fox tonight.


    I am informed that the song I again cannot get out of my head is technically "Styx," not just Dennis DeYoung.

    Posted by Chris on 11/ 1/05

    The democrats need to do or say something. While they're sitting on their hands the republicans are screwing us Left and Right. At least the Right gets the reach around.

    Posted by: Ben Jammin at November 2, 2005 8:35 AM

    A good friend of mine used to say, "If you're not getting the reach-around... It's damn near rape."

    Ah Casey. I remember him well. Now... he sues puppets for a living in LA.

    Good times.

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at November 2, 2005 8:50 AM

    "I'mmmm saiilll-ing a-way ..."

    Posted by: Just Pete at November 2, 2005 10:05 AM

    "Thank you very much-oh, Mister Roboto ..."

    Posted by: Just Pete at November 2, 2005 10:06 AM

    Agreed about the Dems. I spend a lot of time raking the GOP over the coals, but let's not forget who let them do it. And above all, they need to pass that Puppet Tort Reform Bill right away, as Brian alluded to.

    Posted by: Chris at November 2, 2005 11:37 AM