Friday, February 17, 2006

No Mohammad Doodles: Never Had Them, Never Will

The end has to be near, right? I mean, world diplomacy has always been kind of sophomoric, but I don't know that the international dialogue between nations has ever been so much like junior high school as it has been the last few weeks.

"Hey, they drew a photo of our prophet with a bomb on his head! I'm telling!"

I haven't seen people this upset over a cartoon since the unfortunate introduction of Poochie.

I saw those cartoons. I'm not going to republish them here, mainly because I'm too lazy to go find them and they're not funny. Not for fear of angry jihadists, because I'm already an American Jewish guy, right? How could I make them want to kill me any more than they already do? I could be drinking a fifth of Cuervo while eating a pork sandwich and dunking a copy of the Koran in a vat of menstrual blood as I make obscene phone calls to their 12 year old sister in Riyadh, and fundamentalist Muslims wouldn't want to kill me more than they already do.

Some of them are kind of offensive, in a generally racist way. (Like, images of Arab's as scimitar-wielding, moustachioed goons straight out of Walt Disney's Aladdin.) But none of them are so offensive that you should start a-sploding embassies and Kentucky Fried Chickens! Okay, people! Because, man, dude, burning down a KFC...That's going to release toxins into your environment that ain't never going away. Get used to the stench of 800 types of processed, chemically-treated animal fat as it slowly seeps its way into your thoroughfares and fresh drinking water, geniuses!

And now there's this whole "if a newspaper doesn't publish the racist Mohammad cartoons, the terrorists win" nonsense. Look, that's just playing into the fundamentalist's dream of a Clash of Cultures. It's choosing a side - "I'm publishing these cartoons, so fuck Muslims!" Those cartoons aren't newsworthy, they aren't worthwhile social criticism. I don't think you should cave in to pressure and not run something in a newspaper that people need to see (like, oh, say, photos of people being tortured by U.S. Soldiers or the bodies of dead Americans coming in from overseas). But I do think exercizing restrain in not provoking violence by running dumb, racist cartoons makes practical sense.

And as I said, publishing racist cartoons that have sparked riots plays right into the hands of the stupid evil terrorists! They want to provoke moderate Muslims into a war for control of the entire planet, okay? They're crazy delusional fucks. Everybody got that?

Just like those idiots in our country who want to make it illegal for gays to marry and women to wear pants, okay? Imagine if those guys had total control of U.S. policy. It shouldn't be that hard to imagine...They'd be doing stupid crap like this, too. If Sean Hannity, today, were given the choice on whether or not the United States should just invade all the countries with presidents who have ever said anything bad about us, he'd probably think for a minute, then give the go-ahead.

Anyway, the best way to respond to people who can't take a joke is to keep telling more jokes, right? Either they'll come around or they'll give up and start just ignoring you. Either way, you win! Some very clever Jews came up with the notion of starting a contest for...the most anti-Semetic cartoon imaginable. Brilliant!

Eyal Zusman (30, back from anonymity) and Amitai Sandy (29), graphic artist and publisher of Dimona Comix Publishing, from Tel-Aviv, Israel, have followed the unfolding of the “Muhammad cartoon-gate” events in amazement, until finally they came up with the right answer to all this insanity - and so they announced today the launch of a new anti-Semitic cartoons contest - this time drawn by Jews themselves!

“We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!” said Sandy “No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!”

YES! This is how you convince people that you're right. Not by continuing to offend them pointlessly, just to prove that you can. But by turning the situation around on them, making them appear foolish and silly. It's called "taking the high ground."

So far, there aren't really any fabulous submissions, but the contest just started and I'm willing to give them some time. I wish I was a better artist.

A Poem About Dick Cheney, With Apologies to Shel Silverstein

Harry and Katherine and Dick Cheney, too
Went hunting for quails
One late afternoon
"Be vewy quiet
We'll hear when they coo!"
Said Harry and Katherine and Dick Cheney, too

Harry and Katherine and Dick Cheney, too
Noticed the sky change
To orange from blue
"It's late," complained Harry
Dick said, "Stay a few
"And since we are staying, please toss me a brew!"

Dickie was Captain, and Harry was Crew
And Katherine stood way back
To keep a clear view
"Got one," said Harry
Dick said, "Good for you!
"I'll get one myself if you let me pass through!"

Harry and Katherine and Dick Cheney, too
Heard a shotgun go off
With fiery BOOM!
"I've shot him," yelled Dick
"Now what will we do?
You'd better go lie about this on the news!"

Harry and Katherine and Dick Cheney, too
Dodged the world for 4 days
And gave no interviews
"They'd never believe
What I'm saying is true!"
Dick explained later to Fox's Brit Hume

Harry and Katherine and Dick Cheney, too
Never revealed all the things they knew
And nobody
Really knows what
Happened with
Harry and Katherine and Dick Cheney, too

[For more Dick Cheney-themed poetry, check out Tbogg and Firedoglake.]

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Quite Possibly Untrue Rumors Tastefully Seasoned With Good Old Fashioned Slander

Can this rumor be true? I'm skeptical. Sometimes, I hear stuff floating around the video store, which is after all located right down the street from both the Fox and Sony studios, and I think it's just customers rattling off about Internet BS, only to discover months later that it's 100% true. (One example is Gwen Stacy appearing as a major character in Spider-Man 3. They'd been scouring New Releases for hot young actresses for months...)

Anyway, today, an unnamed customer passed along a peculiar behind-the-scenes story from Fox. Apparently (and bear in mind, this is an unfounded rumor, for which I can find absolutely no corroborative evidence on any movie blogs or websites), a copy of Brett Ratner's upcoming FINAL installment in the X-Men trilogy has been stolen from the studios, and is headed for certain Internet piracy. As a result, this man assured me, a totally new ending will be shot for the film and kept locked away under heavy security.

Ain't It Cool has posted an update on X3 just today, about Brett Ratner apologizing to the online community for...well, for existing, basically. See, the thing is, the dork community and Brett Ratner and Fox...they're all doing this silly little dance right now. Brett's pretending that his movie doesn't suck, Fox and Marvel are pretending they gave a shit whether or not the movie sucks and the fans are pretending that they might not go see a big-budget X-Men movie in theaters even though they absolutely will. Hardcore X-Men fans will go see any big-budget movie with "X-Men" in the title. They would go see X3 even if it consisted solely of Brett Ratner reading comics in front of a blue screen for 90 minutes.

Why even bother? Why not just release a standard form in the mail alerting comic book nerds and fanboys to the existence of an upcoming film, X-Men 3, and just issue them official times to report to the theater to get it over with? Like Jury Duty.

"Please allow yourself a few moments after the screening to get over your crushing disappointment, and to finish off any last Sour Patch Kids your chubby fingers may have missed in the bottom of the carton during this shitty, barely sensible, yet oddly colorful Brett Ratner Production. We apologize for any sudden nausea or discomfort this film may have caused you, and thank you again for your enthusiastic, if mandatory, patronage. Now, hurry back to your basements and studio're upsetting the normals."

Ratner himself, in case you were wondering, remains a clueless jackass. I guess Brett can always take comfort in the fact that, should the directorial career fall through, he could always by the understudy for that Turtle idiot on "Entourage."

"Well, it seems to be the last of the series," Ratner said of the eyebrow-raising title for the third film, "X-Men: The Last Stand," due May 26. "We wanted to make sure the audiences knew that this was a trilogy. Even though they weren't made together like 'Lord of the Rings,' this is really closure for the X-Men series. ... This is the last stand for sure."

That's usually not a good sign, when you have to let audiences know they're watching a trilogy once the third one comes out. Usually indicates the entire production has run out of steam.

"Hey, just so you guys don't get too excited, I just want to make sure you all understand that I have killed the franchise forever. Okay? Everyone got that? It's done, dead, exterminated. I fucked it up beyond all repair. Maybe, in ten or twenty years, some hot new director will come along and figure out some mystical, seemingly-impossible way to actually reinvent these characters, some innovative way to overcome the horrific, disgraceful failure of imagination I will unleash on the world this summer. I don't know. All I know is, X-Men 3 will devour your soul. I just want that to be perfectly clear. This May, I will drop my pants and squeeze out a chunky one all over your beloved childhood fantasies...Ratner Out."

Why Do You Think They Call It 'Liberal Arts'?

As Glenn Greenwald has rightly pointed out this week, to much fanfare from other bloggers, Republicanism in America has oddly morphed into Bushism, a fanatical devotion to the President that deems any criticism of our nation's leader to be the treasonous, crazed chatter of a liberal. Anyone who speaks ill of Bush or any of his policies isn't worth listening to at all, and would be better off silenced.

I've written at some length already here and here about some particularly noxious Bushists attempting to intimidate college professors who speak out about current events and politics. Because, as everybody knows, college students shouldn't have to listen to opinions with which they might, potentially, disagree. That's not what getting an education is all about!

Now, according to an e-mail passed along by World O' Crap (one of my favorite sites keeping an eye on the batshit insane righty blogs), it seems David Horowitz is hopping on this exciting (and not at all fascist!) bandwagon with his new book: Evil Nazi Professors From Mars Want to Devour Your Children's Brains.

Oh, no, wait, it's called The Professors - The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.


An Urgent Message
From the Desk of David Horowitz

Dear Newsmax Reader,

Because I know that you are as concerned as I am the radical left's stranglehold on our colleges and universities, I have set aside for you a copy of my new book, The Professors -- The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.

What, exactly, makes these professors so "dangerous," you might wonder? Do they have crazy, unpredictable mutant powers like Professor Xavier, perhaps? Have they discovered how to manipulate space-time, like Dr. Who, or how to time-travel, like Doctor Emmett Brown? Perhaps, like Dr. Frankenstein, they're doing morally questionable work in the reanimation of dead tissue, or bizarre brain surgeries like Dr. Hfuhruhurr.

Oh, no, they're just starting student clubs and inventing holidays.

At Cal State-Long Beach: Ron Karenga is a Professor and Chairman of the Black Studies Department. He's also a convicted torturer and inventor of Kwanzaa.

But...wait...doesn't David Horowitz think torture is neat-o, and perfectly acceptable under some, extreme circumstances? Maybe Ron Karenga needed to beat two women with electrical cord (the torture for which he served a lengthy prison sentence back in the early 70's) for reasons of national security! (Bear in mind, I'm not trying to excuse Karenga's crimes...They're pretty horrible, and he strikes me as a pretty nutty individual...But still, he's one professor out of thousands. Singling him out is fairly meaningless, not to mention hypocritical.)

At the University of Texas-Arlington: Jose Angel Gutierrez is a Political Science Professor. He's also the founder of La Raza Unida, a racist Hispanic organization that calls on Hispanics and Mexican immigrants to seize U.S. land. Among his more notable racists rants is his repeated pronouncement that calls for the elimination of "the gringo, and what I mean by that is if the worst comes to the worst, we have to kill him."

Oh my Lord! You might almost think these men were paid to provide outlets for students and to challenge their pre-conceived notions about the world! Next thing you know, they'll use provocative or controversial statements to get a reaction out of students and open them up to new ways of thinking.

Columbia University's Nicholas De Genova, who led an anti-war demonstration by wishing for deaths of thousands of American troops; and, Texas Journalism Professor Robert Jensen, who rabidly hates the United States, and recently told his students, "The United States has lost the war in Iraq and that's a good thing."

You mean, an American citizen? Speaking his mind and telling people what he thinks? That's not what our Founding Fathers intended. Clearly, they had wanted a poorly-educated, largely impoverished, devoutly Christian nation in a constant state of war in which the twin virtues of intense fear and hatred of brown people was drilled into the brains of everyone, all day, from birth to death. Clearly.

Imagine just for a moment being a conservative student and having to sit in a class taught by any one of the professors I've mentioned. Difficult? Stressful? All of that and more, and that's simply not what a college education is about.

Yes, encountering new ideas can sometimes be stressful, Dave. But it's also the only way that our own ideas grow and change over time. In other words, encountering other people's ideas is how we learn things, which is the entire purpose of going to college. It's quit simply "what a college education is about." Well, that and random sex with strangers and drinking incredibly terrible domestic keg beer.

I'd love it if David Horowitz read this blog, because I'd love to ask him some follow-up questions on this topic. First and foremost, if encountering new ideas that might clash with your own views isn't what college is about, then what is a college education about, Dave? Hearing a bunch of sycophants afraid to say what they really think, telling you that everything your Pappy taught you about the world was true, even if he was a dumb racist old fuck? Or maybe he thinks a college education is overrated in the first place. People are much more docile and easy to manipulate when you keep 'em really really dumb.

Yet the 101 professors highlighted in my book are representative of thousands of radical leftists who spew a violent anti-Americanism, preach anti-Semitism, and cheer on the killing of American soldiers and civilians! And they're living off taxpayer dollars and tuition fees as they indoctrinate our future leaders.

Okay, I went to UCLA for four years and USC for two. I took many, many, many, many classes about History, Communication, Political Science, Government, Journalism and Media. I had a whole lot of very outspoken, liberal professors who openly discussed the evils of American foreign policy and the previlence of intense anti-Americanism and anti-Westernism in the Middle East and around the world. As I said in a previous post, one of my professors - an English professor named Robert Watson - was highlighted by a reprehensible group of former UCLA students as representing an unsatisfactorily liberal sensibility.

But never once did I have a professor who called for violence against Americans (or anyone else, for that matter). I never heard a professor say something anti-Semetic, unless, of course, referring to something anti-Semetic that was said by someone else that pertained to the subject of the course. If you take enough classes about the modern situation in the Middle East, you neccessarily encounter some form of anti-Semitism. Finally, I never once heard a professor cheer the deaths of any Americans, military or otherwise.

This is an outright falsehood. To claim that this is the present situation on America's campuses is a blatant lie. But the fact of the matter is, David Horowitz isn't really even attempting to shut these professors up. He knows he has no power or authority on this issue, that this is pointless posturing and a way to sell books. The effect it will have is not to get these teachers fired, but rather a chilling effect on anyone who might think about speaking aloud their anti-Bush personal views.

It's the dream of Horowitz and his ilk to sufficiently terrorize anyone who speaks the truth to power, in public, so that others will shut the hell up and let George Bush do whatever he wnats. Selling millions of dollars worth of books to idiots...well, that's just icing on the cake.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Belated DVD Reviews

I wanted to post these reviews last night, but Blogger was misbehaving, as usual. I saw something last night on the page about "maintenance" from 9 pm to 11 on the 14th, but I think they added this little note after the outage initially occured. Bastards. How dare they provide me with a free forum from which to broadcast my thoughts to strangers the world over?

So, anyway, you've had to wait for today, a full 24 hours after the three discs have hit shelves. Oh, the shame of it all...


I can't tell, based only on his IMDB biography, if director/comedian/screenwriter Jon Favreau had a happy or troubled childhood. It says that his father gifted him with the screenwriting software he used to craft Swingers, so that would imply that he has a good relationship with his folks.

But judging from the guy's films as a director, he's got some abandonment issues. This is Johnny Favs third film as a director, after the hilarious improv comedy Made, featuring Vince Vaughn's single best comic performance to date, and the surprisingly enjoyable Will Ferrell kiddie favorite Elf. It's also his third movie about neglectful parents potentially scarring their offspring for life.

In Made, Favs plays a mediocre boxer named Bobby, who's involved with a cruel single mother (Famke Janssen) who ignores and mistreats her cherubic daughter. In Elf, Will Ferrell travels from the North Pole to modern-day New York City to find his absent father (James Caan), who wants nothing to do with him once he arrives.

And now Zathura, a far-superior follow-up to the detestable 1995 Robin Williams disaster Jumanji, in which two brothers must work out their anger at one another and their divorcing parents while flying through space on a magical adventure. Walter (Josh Hutcherson) just wants to watch "Sportscenter" in peace when his busy dad (Tim Robbins) leaves him alone with his clingy younger brother Danny (Jonah Bobo...really...) and angsty teen sister (Kristen Stewart from Panic Room, looking much

Unfortunately, Danny pulls out an old 50's outer-space board game from the basement, and their house is magically transported into the outer reaches of the galaxy. The only way home is to finish the game, by reaching the planet Zathura, at which point the pieces reset back on Earth.

Whereas Jumanji focused on excessive CG effects (still relatively new back in '95), Favreau wisely keeps the movie a little smaller and more intimate. The family rarely leaves the house at all, and though a few new characters are introduced (including Punk'd veteran Dax Shepard as a stranded astronaut and a lot of fearsome-looking lizard aliens named Zorgons), the focus stays on Danny and Walter. And though the film's a bit too focused on whiz-bang action to ever really work as a comedy, there are a few moments where Favreau manages to get some pretty charming work out of these kids.

(For an example of the easy give-and-take between the young actors, take one scene, where a meteor has just taken out a chunk of the roof, and Walter and Danny see a field of stars above. "Look, outer space," says Danny. "No, that's just nighttime," replies Walter.)

Also, as the movie builds to its big finish, in which aliens are vanquished, games are won and brothers rediscover filial love, the proceedings get surprisingly intense. Not violent or morally troubling, mind you, but a bit more exciting and dangerous than the climax of most children's films. Both Zathura and Jumanji are based on storybooks by Chris Van Allsburg, and neither manages to capture his deft combination of terror and whimsy. Of course, neither film is as bad as Robert Zemeckis' Polar Express, another Van Allsburg adaptation.

Young Mr. Lincoln

Here's my theory...When most people, who rarely if ever watch old movies, think about black and white Hollywood films of the past, they conjure up films like Young Mr. Lincoln. Staid. Proper. Unrealistic. A bit dry.

I'm not trying to knock John Ford's 1939 classic, which comes to Criterion DVD this week. It's a great film. It's just that, even in 1939 when Ford made the film, it was a bit old-fashioned. There had already been a sound film chronicling the life of Abraham Lincoln, in fact (Walter Huston played the part in that film). And the notion of using Lincoln as the embodiment of all that is noble in the American soul. And the forthright, earnest lead performance by Henry Fonda.

This film is a timeless piece of Americana. Unfortunately, Americans on the whole have little use for their own history or films that celebrate this heritage. Which is too bad, because Young Mr. Lincoln speaks to our own time in some surprising and important ways.

Rather than focusing on the better-known eras of Lincoln's life, such as his impoverished log-cabin-dwelling childhood or his Civil War Presidency, Ford and screenwriter Lamar Trotti center their film on Lincoln's years as an attorney in private practice, after spending a few years in the State Legislature but before attaining anything beyond local fame. They can't resist, however, including a lot of little references to Lincoln's later accomplishments: shots of Fonda in the top hat, Abe's introduction to Mary Todd (Marjorie Weaver) and even a mini-rivalry with his future debate opponent, Stephen Douglas (Milburn Stone). The finale, as well, metaphorically finds Lincoln trudging up a hill as the "storm" of the Civil War is brewing. It's heavy-handed, of course, but the movie's from 1939...I can cut it some slack.

The story finds Lincoln drawn into the case of two brothers accused of shooting a deputy sheriff. Everyone in town just assumes that the boys are guilty and deserve a hanging, but Lincoln (of course) is more thoughtful, trusting and insistant on the rule of law. It's that last point I'd like to linger on...Much is made in this film not only of Lincoln's virtue and strict adherence to law and order, but of his love of the law. This is one of the least-cynical portrayals of a lawyer in American film history.

An early scene finds Lincoln, after receiving some law books for free, reading by a riverbed. "Yes, of course, the law! It really is that simple!," he says. Yes, it's a bit corny and obvious, but Ford and Fonda play the moment as well as it could be played, and it has some impact. And I guess, considering that our present President feels that he and his administration are above the law, it's not all that obvious.


Whit Stillman's 1990 romantic comedy may have kickstarted cinema's recent fixation on updating Jane Austen. Stillman's film doesn't actually adapt an Austen book so much as it merges the social world of her books with present-day New York. We have the same attention to the nuances of class differences, the same pithy "comedy of manners" style, the same verbal wit and dexterity with language and the same fascination with peering beneath the facades put up by supposedly extroverted, confident people.

So, you may have Stillman to blame for the sudden abundance of Austen adaptations and reinventions (including Amy Hecklering's stab at bringing Emma into the modern day, Clueless). But his original film retains all the idiosyncratic distance and sly rakishness it had on its much-lauded 1990 opening. One of the initial landmarks of the then-burgeoning American Indie scene, Metropolitan is still a pleasurable-enough romp 16 years on. Far better, at the very least, than Stillman's other two films, Barcelona and the flat Last Days of Disco.

The story begins when the once-wealthy outsider, Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) befriends a group of high society recent college grads calling themselves the Sally Fowler Rat Pack (after the girl who owns the apartment where they drink and hang out). Their rank includes the caddish Nick Smith (Chris Eigeman), nebbishy Charlie Black (Taylor Nichols) and Audrey Rouget (Carolyn Farina), who quickly develops a crush on Tom.

We follow them over the course of a single "season" in the New York Society calendar, as they follow up a series of off-screen "balls" and mixers with excessive drinking, intense conversations over their place in the world and the occasional game of strip poker. And as in Austen's slyly knowing novels, we gain insights into all of these people both by what they say and don't say.

Nick, for example, openly loathes Sally's new beau Rick Von Sloneker (Will Kempe, who returns as the character briefly in Last Days of Disco) because of his unspoken love for Sally. Tom, as well, pretends not to notice Audrey's affection for him, because he remains obsessed with his ex-girlfriend Serena (Elizabeth Thompson).

And so on. Metropolitan is the kind of movie where you know, inside of five minutes, whether or not you will appreciate its charms. I found it funny, engaging and breezy, and easily one of the most witty of the early 90's independents. Others, I suspect, might find its lack of momentum, coupled with Stillman's obvious delight in his own writing, tiresome.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Some Valentine's Day Top Ten Lists

Paris Hilton's Top Ten Valentine's Day Complaints

10. Already given all the good men STD's
9. Tempting boxes of chocolate make it difficult to remain on strict diet of lip skin and tanning lotion
8. In alcohol-induced haze, sometimes difficult to tell methamphetamines from little candy hearts
7. Only received Valentines from 4 of her last 200,000,000 conquests
6. That "Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown" special's a bit confusing and hard to follow...
5. Just a meaningless non-drinking-related occasion sandwiched between New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day
4. News stories about holiday observances briefly overshadow news stories about her vagina
3. Received a Vermont Teddy Bear, but not the Red Hot Redneck design
2. Enjoys getting a shot to the face, but not from Cupid's arrow, if you know what I mean
1. It only comes three times a year

The Top Ten Overlooked Holidays

10. Parking Enforcement Officer's Day
9. Sweathog's Day
8. All Qaida's Eve
7. Queen Latifah's Last Holiday
6. Take Your Great-Grandfather To Work Day
5. Post-Nasal Drip Awareness Day
4. Foxy Boxing Day
3. Nor Easter
2. Cinco de Yayo
1. The Day After Tomorrow

The Top Ten Least Romantic Date Ideas

10. A lovely gelato followed by a rousing Skinhead rally
9. A Very Special Evening With Emo Phillips at the Orange County Performing Arts Center
8. Free taping of the "Maury Povich" show
7. Wait for the next time they need to select a new Pope; then go take a chick to check that out
6. Three words: fat resin bowls
5. That gay cowboy thing's still in theaters, right?
4. Bury your girlfriend's pet hamster, then go hang out with some rich idiot in front of a big fireplace
3. Couples therapy
2. Quail hunting
1. Take-out Chinese and a home pregnancy test

The Top Ten Worst Names for the Concept Album You're Written About Your Girlfriend

10. Gesundheit, Baby
9. The Sex is Merely OK Computer
8. More Songs About Buildings, Food and That Bitch I'm Dating
7. Toby Keith: The Greatest Hits Collection
6. Wish You Weren't Here
5. Rocket to Gonorrhea
4. Bryman College Dropout
3. Smell the Glove
2. A Bridge Over Troubled Watersports
1. Songs in the Key of Get Out of My Life

Monday, February 13, 2006

Life, the Universe and Everything

I can write fast. That's how I'm able to post so much content here on the blog. People always comment on how long my film reviews can run, but I probably get them done faster than a lot of critics can finish their paragraph-long capsule reviews. That may sound like pomposity or exaggeration, but I assure you, it's not. I'm just a fast writer. Not necccessarily the best writer, but a fast one.

I make up for this useful ability, as well as being able to read pretty quickly and an excellent typist, by being very, very bad at certain types of thinking. Namely, everything having to do with the Sciences. Back in junior high and high school, my father (who was something of a math and science whiz coming up, and like George Constanza, dreamt of one day becoming a marine biologist) used to try and tutor me in subjects like Chemistry and Biology. Oh, how I remember those lovely times...

"What's Planck's Constant?"
"It's a way of describing momentum."
"But, what's a 'constant'?"
"A property."
"What's a property?"
"I don't...A thing. A thing every scientist knows."
"Constant's not even a noun. It's an adjective. You know, like 'Why must I be irritated by these constant physics assignments?' In that sentence, 'constant' is modifying the object, the physics assignments."
"It's just a unit that's useful in equations."
"Then why isn't it 'Planck's Unit'? I mean, aside from the obvious reason."
"It' s just not. The value of Planck's Constant is [consulting physics textbook] right here, 6.626 0693(11) x 10-34 Joules per second."
"What's a joule?"
"If you'd just listen and let me finish, I'll explain it to you."
"Well, your explanations make no sense. They rely largely on nonsense words like 'joule'!"
"Are you finished? Are you ready to listen?"
"I've been listening, but you're just rattling numbers off the top of your head!"
"That's it! I'm done!"

And so forth.

So, anyway, this stuff is all French to me. No, actually, that's inaccurate. I'd probably have a decent chance at understanding at least a few words in a paragraph of Basic French. I know no French, but I know some Spanish, and they're similar enough languages, after all. Physics is like Aramaic or Sanskrit. I'd have about the same chance understanding a lecture in particle physics as I would the screeching of your basic Howler Monkey.

"So, what you're saying is, whoot whoot blarb, and then toss some feces...Interesting..."

You get the idea. I'm useless when it comes to the Sciences. I'll take The Humanities, any time.

That's why it makes little sense that I accepted a job doing research on astrophysics for a planned documentary TV show. I thought, because the show would be on the History Channel, and because my prospective employer assured me that no hard science background was neccessary, there would be little to no problem adjusting to the position. I showed up this morning relaxed, confident and ready to work.

And then they explained to me the job...

Sit down in a cubicle in an office for 9 hours and find out about the universe.

The Universe? Like...the whole thing?

Yeah, the Universe, or what Joss Whedon has colorfully renamed "The Verse."

How does one research The Universe? Where do you begin? At around 10:45 or so this morning, I realized that my new job was like a Douglas Adams novel. And, worse yet, I wasn't exactly Ford Prefect.

I made an unfortunate discovery right away...Any time you try to learn about something in "the universe," even something that seems really superficial and easy-to-understand, some scientist will have devised a complicated, theoretical way to talk about it involving a lot of bizarre fictional words like "leptons."

Seriously. I was really trying. Let's say I looked up "volcanoes on Mars." That sounds easy, right? I get volcanoes - they're little spouts from which the liquid-hot magma that lies under the planet's crust vents out on occasion for some reason.

But then, it turns out, no one's ever really seen a volcano on Mars, we just think there's one there because the Berriman-Hoffstadler-Schlessenhoffenfoffner Semi-Integrated Singularity Theorum demonstrates that fermions collide with blue-hot supersymmetric oolfs to create positively-charged prilotans. Duh.

Imagine pages and pages and pages of that. It was like Alice trying to catalog all the flora and fauna in Wonderland for a school report. Every time I got close to actually having a coherent idea, I just fell down another rabbit hole.

So, long story short...not gonna work there any more. It's a combination of a few things.

1. Not understanding astrophysics
2. Not liking astrophysics
3. Not liking offices
4. Not liking working in offices
5. Not liking work
6. Not liking driving to Woodland Hills
7. Not liking Woodland Hills
8. Liking not driving to Woodland Hills to read about astrophysics

It's just the latest stop on my Extremely Short-Lived Los Angeles Employment tour. The resume's not exactly getting more impressive as time goes by, but it is definitely getting more colorful. I wonder if any Fortune 500 companies take that into consideration...

Best Lefty Blog Comment on Dick Cheney Shooting a Guy

The award goes to Attaturk over at Rising Hegemon. The whole post is hilarious, but this one section is Pure Blog Gold!

I know that Mr. Other Priorities used five deferments and timely Lynne shagging to avoid going over and shooting at the Cong, but now he's making up for lost time and going after manflesh? I thought fucking Lynne should have been enough "shooting anything that moves" to satisfy Crashcart for a lifetime.

Ouch. Oh, that I were capable of such creative venom!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Deadeye Dick

Boy, when Dick Cheney said that he favored a robust, powerful executive branch of government, I didn't realize quite what he had in mind. In addition to claiming for himself the right to leak classified information and the right to randomly torture brown people, he's now granted himself a License to Kill.

Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday.

Now, I'm not the Attorney General or anything, but it is still illegal for the Vice-President to actually shoot a man, right? Or did Congress actually grant him that authority when they approved his little Iraq Adventure.

Okay, I'm just kidding...kind of. For Cheney-related hilarity, you really should check out Firedoglake, which has a hilarious Photoshop on the subject as well as the best "Cheney shoots a guy" headline imaginable. (It's "Cheney's Got a Gun.") Jane also helpfully points out that Cheney's not a real sportsman...He shoots confined animals that are raised specifically for the purpose of being shot at by fat old rich guys.

Monday's hunting trip to Pennsylvania by Vice President Dick Cheney in which he reportedly shot more than 70 stocked pheasants and an unknown number of mallard ducks at an exclusive private club places a spotlight on an increasingly popular and deplorable form of hunting, in which birds are pen-reared and released to be shot in large numbers by patrons. The ethics of these hunts are called into question by rank-and-file sportsmen, who hunt animals in their native habitat and do not shoot confined or pen-raised animals that cannot escape.


So, I think what has happened is clear. Bored of shooting large numbers of defenseless animals enclosed in tiny spaces, yet in desperate need of satisfying his unquenchable bloodlust, Dick Cheney has turned to hunting the ultimate game...Man.

But, seeing as he's old and frail, he will be hunting, exclusively, 78 year old millionaires. One day, this may even become an annual White House tradition...

[Also, check out Bob Geiger's "Top Ten Dick Cheney Excuses for Shooting a Guy" and Tbogg reminds us that, unlike Dick Cheney who only wounded his hunting partner, Laura Bush has actually had the exquisite pleasure of killing someone.]

UPDATE: Also, Josh Marshall points us to a Washington Post article where we learn the following:

"The vice president was concerned," said Mary Matalin, a Cheney adviser who spoke with him yesterday morning. "He felt badly, obviously. On the other hand, he was not careless or incautious or violate any of the [rules]. He didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do." know...shooting a guy.