July 31, 2006

Now that's a shame

By way of DVD Dossier and MetaFilter I learn that

In a court order signed last Thursday in Denver, U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch said that CleanFlicks - of American Fork, Utah - could no longer create edited versions of popular films by removing profanity, sex and violence.

I don't even have to check the Apocalypse Meter to see we must have moved at least three ticks closer to the End Times.

Allow me to quote Maude Flanders. WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?!

Previously ranted on here.

Posted by Chris on 07/31/06

If you go to the site, you'll find a going out of buisness sale in progress. One of the titles to be liquidated? The Libertine. How long could it be? Thirty-five minutes?

Posted by: fattyfat at July 31, 2006 7:03 PM


Posted by: Big Fat Brian at August 1, 2006 11:12 AM

July 26, 2006

Lady in the Water

Well - at least he showed us the monster this time. I can say that for M. Night at least.

But even as much as I've been leading the charge against Shyamalan in the past, I'm not ready to join in now. I don't feel this surge of negativity towards his latest film that everyone else seems to. Maybe it's just that he lowered his own bar so drastically over the last two films that anything would do for me.

Don't get me wrong - I would not recommend this movie to anyone, but I enjoyed the simple sweetness of it, even as others around me were leaving the theatre halfway through in disgust. The billing gets it exactly right - "Lady in the Water" is a bedtime story. A bedtime story that he made up as he went along. For very young kids. Oh, and starring himself.

I am not offended that he not only stars in his own films but also gives himself good roles. His movies are so idiosyncratic, so weirdly particular to him (and not always in the Great! Fantastic! way of other directors who put heavy stamps on their works) that by the time he himself walks through a scene, it almost just seems like the natural thing to happen. He's no Paul Giamatti, or Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis, but neither is he the worst actor I've ever seen, either.

Is it egotism? I don't know - I assume a certain amount of ego is required to keep up the "written and directed by" label anyway, so I'm not sure where I draw the line. Put it this way - it's not as if his presence marred an otherwise perfect film.

He is so firmly into his own world, visually, thematically, stylistically, I wonder now if I even stand by my own prescription for him, which was - get help with the writing. Maybe he should just continue to explore his own interior Shyamalanaverse.

Whatever else you think about him, he's certainly an interesting case study (along with Kevin Smith) of what happens when a director hits it really, really big with their first film, and then is mobbed by hundreds of yes-men. If only they had assigned at least one no-man to the throng.

Bottom line, I'll see another of his films. But I AM ready for him to leave this "fable" stage and give us a good, simple horror film. He has a talent for that.

Posted by Chris on 07/26/06

But Chris! There was a LADY! IN the WATER!

Posted by: Big Fat Brian at July 27, 2006 12:07 PM

I beg all of you to donate the money you might be considering spending on a ticket to this wretched and offensive movie to your favorite charity. Seriously. I truly wish I had.

It even irks me to think about the dollars wasted on popcorn eaten during the movie's first 40 minutes. Oh, the pain!

Posted by: Wife Ami at July 27, 2006 5:52 PM

One way he could have made the movie better was by adding Cylons. Can you imagine how big a blockbuster it would be if there were Cylons running around?

Posted by: Lee Adama at July 28, 2006 1:26 PM

"Shyamalanaverse" is now my new favorite word.

Posted by: Ben Jammin' at July 31, 2006 11:28 AM

Today's Headlines Discovered in Ancient Book

A construction worker has found a medieval book of psalms in a bog in Dublin. Amazing find, partly because of the unlikelihood that it was saved. Also amazing - or perhaps not - is that the the book

was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which God hears complaints of other nations' attempts to wipe out the name of Israel.

My, how we've advanced in thousands of years!

Posted by Chris on 07/26/06

July 24, 2006

Ketosis at the County Fair

We have been trying to get to a county fair for years and never seemed to be able to make it work. They have always been one of my favorite seasonal events. This year we managed to get to the fabulous Orange County Fair, which puts many other festivals to shame. I've never seen such a clean and gleaming fair - even the livestock pens were neat. The rides even seemed to be somewhat trustworthy, with all their screws well-tightened and no one getting decapitated very much. All the swarthiest carnies had been removed from view.

The food selection was also easily three times as large as any other fair I've been to. Lucky for me, then... that I re-started the South Beach Diet a week ago. That means I'm still in Phase I, which means I can have mostly cheese sticks and pork rinds and water and nothing else if I'm to get this ketosis thing going.

Oh, there are other things I can have - but none of them readily available at, say, a county fair. What good planning on my part that I started this diet when I did!

The long, long, LONG row of food options at Orange Co Fair was staggering: funnel cakes, candied apples, caramel apples, hot dogs, hamburgers, Texas doughnuts, Mexican, Italian, turkey legs, ribs, beer, soda, cotton candy, more beer, fried twinkies, pretzels, chocolate pretzels, Icees, Slurpees, ice-cream, deep-fried avocados (yuck, but - OK), deep-fried anything, things with sugar sprinkled on them, deep-fried sugar... in fact you even had sugar sprinkled over you when you walked in the gate if I recall.

Truly, that is where I will go when I die. It was one step away from Willy Wonka's warehouse.

The temptation was strong that day, my friends. With every step inside those fairgrounds I began to think that to be there, to even be NEAR there, was simply absurd. Why put myself through it. Even the pellets they were feeding the prize chickens began to look tasty to me. But - I prevailed. I resisted them all. It was torture - I almost titled this post A MAN CALLED DEEP-FRIED HORSE - but I did it.

P.S. Another something about fairs, and really any sort of outdoor festival: why the need for radio stations to set up outposts at these things? Why the need for radio stations to set up outposts really ANYWHERE, when you think about it. There's some jerk sitting in a small tent, and his station's logo is everywhere. And he's playing music REALLY REALLY LOUD. That's his contribution to the day.

Why is there a need at any random outdoor event for the radio station to have a presence there and be louder than anything else? It's like the goal is to be just as classless and obtrusive as possible. DO NOT WANT. PLEASE DELETE.

Posted by Chris on 07/24/06

I will never pass up on funnel cake - you are my hero.

Posted by: Vickery at July 25, 2006 4:04 PM

July 21, 2006

Holy Freakin Crap


Who's big?!?! Congratulations to FattyFat on his graduation!

Follow his real-life exploits on the Road Home from Vermont, along with friend Relpek, on the trip blog here: http://web.mac.com/winnemax/iWeb/. Go check it out and leave him some words of congratulations.

Posted by Chris on 07/21/06

Hooray! Hooray! You're sooo cool and you worked so hard!
And you look handsome and single! Hooray!

Posted by: female fan of fattyfat at July 26, 2006 3:56 PM

July 19, 2006

Here's a question for all you embryos

So, the big opposition to stem-cell research is that stem cells come from embryos, and to use one for research and not babies is murder - right?

And this is the reason for the President's first veto? OK, good enough.

Wait - no. Here's what Scott Rosenberg has to say:

Here is why Bush's position is a joke: Thousands and thousands of embryos are destroyed every year in fertility clinics. They are created in petri dishes as part of fertility treatments like IVF; then they are discarded.

If Bush and his administration truly believe that destroying an embryo is a kind of murder, they shouldn't be wasting their time arguing about research funding: They should immediately shut down every fertility clinic in the country, arrest the doctors and staff who operate them, and charge all the wannabe parents who have been wantonly slaughtering legions of the unborn.

So, I guess this brings me to my real question: Why does Scott Rosenberg hate babies so much?

Won't somebody think about the embryos?!?!

Posted by Chris on 07/19/06

Why isn't there a plug for FattyFat's college blog somewhere here? Why do you hate him?

Posted by: relpek at July 19, 2006 12:56 PM

This issue should be linked with IVF, which also destroys embryos (and also goes against "God's will"). It's hypocrisy to suggest that embryos should die so one embryo can produce a baby, but embryos must not die to help find cures for diseases. Cripes, I have never seen anything about embryos in the bible, which is after all the rulebook for this faux morality.

And yes, it's his first veto. Usually he uses signing statements (hundreds of them) to countermand the wishes of the majority, but in this case he needs to be more visible about it so his base can nod their heads in approval.

The idea that Americans don't want to pay for murder flies in the face of the reality that our tax dollars go to support capital punishment, war and weapons. I'd feel better about my tax dollars going toward crushing life that is an unconscious cluster of cells in the hopes of finding new ways to save lives, than I do my tax dollars going toward crushing life that is fully human and having the misfortune of being located near a middle eastern oil field.

Posted by: simon at July 20, 2006 9:41 AM

July 18, 2006

Russia's Big and So is China

Some great Huffingtonery I want to hang on to for reference. You can read it too if you like.

50 Easy Questions to Ask Any Republican by Robert J. Elisberg. Including:

16. Do you like the government collecting personal data on you without a warrant?

17. How much money do you have in your bank account, stocks and investments?

18. What's your partner's favorite sex position?

19. If you have nothing to hide, why aren't you answering?

Also, Real Christians Don't Gay Bash by Jim Rigby.

Posted by Chris on 07/18/06

July 17, 2006

Three-Part Note to Retailers

In a dramatic return to blogging after a week-long hiatus, I present this Three-Part Note to Retailers:

  • Part the 1st

    I didn't want to do this but I'm going to have to institute my NO PRICE TAG MEANS IT'S FREE policy from now on. There's just no reason I should have to search every square inch of a garment to find out how much it is.

    I was out a'shirt-buyin' yesterday and by the time I determined the cost I'd been over every thread, like a detective from CSI looking for evidence.

  • Part the 2nd

    Listen to me, stores, and understand: As adults we should be able to handle this simple task, but the reality is, we as customers cannot be trusted to spontaneously form orderly queues.

    How many times have I gone to make my purchase only to find that some sort of uni-line has aggregated outward from a bank of three registers, one that stretches ungracefully out into the counter area? And I don't have the nerve to break the pattern by forming a new, proper line at an obviously open counter?

    All it takes is one dumbass not keeping up with the line to create a uni-line, and then the rest of the queue is trapped by politeness in the same pattern.

    STORES! You cannot just turn a blind eye to the various queues, leaving them to a survival of the pushiest existence. Without proper guidance it will be up to those occasional, blessed Line Presidents to come along, sigh, then push the queue back into shape.

    I suggest a new position for your store, one to manage the delicate customer-to-customer in-line relations: a POINT OF PURCHASE REFERREE, or if you prefer, a STORE LINE AMBASSADOR.

    This person will patrol the line area, answering questions you shouldn't have to wait in line for, (such as HOW MUCH IS THIS SHIRT BECAUSE NO TAG IS IN EVIDENCE), patrol for cutters, and also gently prod the queue into meaningful, fair shapes.

  • Part the 3rd

    In a grocery store context, the pace is far too aggressive and fast for a Line Ambassador. I suggest in those cases when a line must be closed, that the clerk ask the last person legitimately in line to hang a LINE CLOSED sign around their necks, facing toward the back.

    Posted by Chris on 07/17/06
  • July 11, 2006

    A Warning to Advanced Civilizations

    If you have read this page recently you know I am very fascinated by the Department of Energy's efforts to come up with a way of warning future generations that they should stay away from our buried nuclear waste sites.

    I believe some of our fellow citizens have also come up with a way to let more advanced societies know where they live is to be avoided at all costs:

    Lady Liberty Trades In Some Trappings

    As the congregation of the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church looked on and its pastor, Apostle Alton R. Williams, presided, a brown shroud much like a burqa was pulled away to reveal a giant statue of the Lady, but with the Ten Commandments under one arm and "Jehovah" inscribed on her crown.

    And in place of a torch, she held aloft a large gold cross, as if to ward off the pawnshops, the car dealerships and the discount furniture outlets at the busy corner of Kirby Parkway and Winchester that is her home. A single tear graced her cheek.

    Words don't do it justice. Check it out yourself.

    The statue's famous inscription -- "Give me your tired, your poor ..." -- has been replaced with Roman numerals representing the Ten Commandments.

    The seven-spiked crown that represents the seven seas of the world, has been changed to signify the seven redemptive names of Christ, according to church pastor Apostle Alton R. Williams.

    As seen from space, the revisionist statue sends a clear warning to any advanced civilization who might be looking down on us, thinking of making contact: NOT READY YET - PLEASE COME BACK IN A FEW CENTURIES.

    Posted by Chris on 07/11/06

    Sometimes it is very embarrassing to live in Tennessee...

    Posted by: Leigh at July 11, 2006 2:33 PM

    Does the cross light up at night to simulate the flames so closely associated with crosses in that part of the country?

    Posted by: simon at July 12, 2006 7:16 AM

    It's 071706 - where are you? Please blog.

    Posted by: Vickery at July 17, 2006 1:04 PM

    July 10, 2006

    Just something to keep in mind

    (Image removed. It was the Classical Definition of Knowledge expressed as a Venn diagram. Apparently "knowledge" is just a small subset of the intersection of "truths" and "belief." And the intersection of "truths" and "beliefs" wasn't that large to begin with. Oh, and the whole thing is itself a subset of "propositions."

    Just go Google "Classical Definition of Knowledge" for God's sake. I liked it so much I made it a screensaver for a while.)

    Posted by Chris on 07/10/06

    Where does "hate" fit into all of this? Because I've got plenty to go around.

    Posted by: Big Fat Brian at July 11, 2006 6:36 AM

    If you're like me, it would be a large black circle that floats around on this diagram, randomly intersecting things and muttering to itself in public. Because truly: everybody's dicks.

    Posted by: Chris at July 11, 2006 7:17 AM

    July 7, 2006

    Superman Returns

    Bryan Singer has picked up the Superman standard from where it was carelessly left at the end of "II" in 1980 and made a new movie that feels not like a re-imagining of the story, but a legitimate sequel to the Donner / Salkind films.

    Ignoring the unfortunate Richard Lester slapstick of "III" and the ill-advised "Superman IV: Quest for Peace" (Really more of a tax shelter for Golan-Globus than a film), he's also shown that a superhero movie doesn't have to be an origin story for it to be interesting.

    The most brilliant (and surreal) thing about "Superman Returns" is how Singer kept the vast majority of Donner's design and tone, rather than doing the standard thing nowadays, completely re-inventing everything. Krypton designs, of course Brando's performance, the style of the opening credits, and that amazing music that I have hummed to myself for the past thirty years to signify any personal victory great or small, all remain. Bless him for seeing it not as a chance to put a big ol' personal stamp on a franchise, but to continue with some things that were pretty amazing to start with.

    The story is clever, although it runs surprisingly parallel to the first film. (Rocket arrives in Smallville, Lois is saved from a disastrous flight, Lex has a real estate scheme, Superman is overcome by Kryptonite and has to be saved from drowning) They took an interesting but minor device from the first film and turned it into the pivotal weapon stolen by Luthor from Superman's fortress. They've also introduced a surprising new character to the mythos - the true identity of whom seemed to be obvious to everyone but me.

    Singer was lucky enough to find Brandon Routh, who seems to have been grown from a bit of Christopher Reeve's DNA. He is not as brilliant in the Clark Kent role as Reeve was (maybe it's unfair to compare the two) but has nailed Superman. Still, as much as I could suspend my disbelief that a man could fly, I found it harder to believe that no one saw through the secret identity.

    As for Spacey, he became the definitive Luthor. Although the Luthor character is one the animated series has made much more interesting of late. Their Luthor is a C.E.O. who has made himself untouchable and unimpeachable in the public eye; the Luthor of the film is an evil genius who for some reason surrounds himself with a total of three goons and one moll. (Parker Posey doing a hilarious "Eunice"-like turn.)

    The movie is thrilling without being a wall-to-wall action flick. One way of measuring the progress of special effects over the years might be in how well they have depicted Superman in flight - and now seeing him speed through the sky is more amazing than ever. It reminded me of the early balletics of the Fleischer cartoons. He glides, he hurtles, he speeds, he's actually allowed to move a bit faster than the eye sometimes.

    And the story is also surpringly sad. Rather than making the movie about every single Superman idea they'd ever had, the filmmakers chose to very specifically focus on his solitude and loneliness. Almost the first time we see him, he's waking up in Smallville - and the first thing he sees is a single red star amongst all the other glowing star decals on the ceiling of his childhood room.

    Because his five-year absence is so pivotal to the story, I would have liked to have a little more emphasis on the why, how and what of his trip back to Krypton. It seemed important to him but we never talked about it. Also - what could there have been to visit, since we saw it blasted to smithereens?

    I imagine this sort of thing will be amongst the deleted scenes on the DVD, of which I get the impression there will be tons. I'm sure there's more of Martha Kent's trip to Metropolis, which felt like a loose end. I wouldn't have minded seeing some of the "advanced alien weaponry" Luthor thought he'd use to defend his new island chains - I hope that's there, too.


    My primary complaint is the strange ending. I feel at one point the writers had chosen to kill Superman, and then decided against it. Maybe - and I hesitate to say this because to see such a thing may well have killed me - it would have been a stronger story if they had actually let him die, letting the "new" Superman be the son. It seemed to be where they were going, with the final Jor-El benediction he gives to his sleeping son; and in fact the ending was so ambiguous I almost felt that his triumphant flight over the Earth at the end was symbolic of him going to his final reward.

    Posted by Chris on 07/ 7/06

    I'm glad to hear Mr. Singer has done another good job bringing superheroes to the screen, he has the touch.

    But there's part of me despairing that so many people will go and see this, a harmless and fun filled adventure of a heroic man in red underpants saving the world, but they won't see Mr. Gore's film, about a heroic man making real efforts to save the world. Perhaps it speaks of our need for escapism and entertainment, or our desire for dessert over nutrition. Something's not right, though, when we stop wanting to learn, feel and use our brains. Could Superman save us from devolution?

    Posted by: simon at July 11, 2006 8:43 AM