Sunday, April 30, 2006

Inaugural Sunday Softball Blogging!

Attendance was... remarkably good. We actually had too many people, so someone had to sit out each inning. My fielding was about the usual - made some nice running catches and good throws, but also dropped a couple of balls at the edge of my range. My hitting was a complete disaster, however. I didn't take any practice swings in the offseason (or get to take pregame BP), and have apparently lost my ability to make contact with anything. We don't play with strikeouts, so I had some painfully long at-bats (maybe 10-20 swings each?). When I finally did make contact, I scratched out some ground balls and had one solid line-drive out.

I will definitely be taking practice swings and lots of BP next time...

Current Stats: 2 games, .571 BA (4-7), 2 runs, 1 RBI.

Career Stats: 29 games, .574 BA (116-202), 18 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 63 runs, 41 RBI.

Feets don't fail me now!

Bye bye, hat.

I'm, uh, not entirely sure who Bearded Guy is, but he's a STAR!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from The Bride, starring Sting as Dr. Frankenstein, and Jennifer Beals as the bride of the monster. No, really.

"You never told me about cats. I thought it was a tiny lion."

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

The late, much-beloved Codename F., seen here with the now somewhat less shadowy and mysterious Codename V.

Yo Soy El Smoothador.

Oh, this'll really win over the Hispanic vote...

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The national anthem should be sung in English -- not Spanish -- President Bush declared Friday, amid growing restlessness over the millions of immigrants here illegally.

"One of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul," the president exclaimed. "One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us."

A Spanish language version of the national anthem was released Friday by a British music producer, Adam Kidron, who said he wanted to honor America's immigrants.

When the president was asked at a Rose Garden question-and-answer session whether the anthem should be sung in Spanish, he replied: "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."

Sounds like Dubya's been getting his talking points from Lou "I Don't Believe In St. Patrick's Day Parades" Dobbs (would this make him "Dobbsya"?). It's basically a great big fuck-you to any immigrants who want to embrace America on their own cultural terms.

So, George, if you're worried about our "national soul," how about banning and denouncing torture? How about not pissing all over the Constitution in the pursuit of naked power? How about not lying us into any more disastrous unprovoked wars? How about, oh I don't know, for once in your worthless wretched life doing something that makes me proud of my country instead of ashamed? I realize that anything more complicated than quitting is probably beyond your meager abilities, and that's fine. Just do what you can - you'll be amazed at how grateful everyone will be.

Oh, and you might want to consider learning English, too...

Whither Rove?

So right now all we really know for sure is that Fitz called Rove back to testify for a fifth time, which is... a lot. But what the exact significance of it is is still subject to fevered speculation. It could mean he's getting indicted, it could mean he's going to flip on someone (presumably that could only be Bush and/or Cheney), or it could mean that he has managed to miraculously squirm free. To my untrained legal mind, his "I would have been stupid to think I could get away with it" defense is pretty damn weak, so I think it comes down to the first two.

The first question this raises is, Who is Rove loyal to? Is he entirely Bush's creature, willing to throw himself to the wolves to protect his beloved master, or is he a self-interested parasite who will just attach himself to a new host once Dubya is spent?

The second question is, What does happen if Rove flips? Even if he does avoid jail time, would the Republican mafia repudiate him as a disloyal squealer? If this were happening during Bush's Swaggering Codpiece Of Victory period, I think turning on him would be certain political death. But Bush's approval ratings are so low right now that the Republicans would be relieved to get rid of him. They might decide to praise Rove as some kind of courageous whistleblower who just couldn't stomach the lies and coverup any more, and cheerfully welcome him back into the fold to run 2008.

The least satisfying outcome (and therefore the most likely, according to Murphy's Razor) would be for Rove to rat out Cheney. Not only would Bush be in the clear, but it would be a very convenient way to get rid of his political baggage and begin grooming a new VP as Dubya's heir. On the plus side, while this might protect Bush from legal jeopardy, I don't think anyone but the most fanatical Republican Kool-Aid drinkers will believe that Rove knew about the Plame-Out operation and never once mentioned it to his master.

The best outcome would be for Rove to rat out Bush and Cheney, forcing them both to resign or face impeachment (President Pelosi?). And while he saves his own skin, he becomes an untouchable within the Republican party. As with DeLay and Abramoff, no-one will admit to knowing him, much less let him anywhere near their campaign. I know it's about as likely as a Jets-Giants Superbowl next February, but I'm rooting for that too.

UPDATE: I should probably clarify that it were all up to me, I would indict Rove over Bush in a heartbeat. Once Bush's second term finishes (whenever that might be), he'll just quietly drink himself to death in between $100,000 speeches and fundraising appearances. But there are no term limits for dirty tricksters. Rove could go on engineering slimy, mean-spirited victories for the GOP for the next 20-30 years.

Yes, I'm sure the Republicans have a very deep bench of amoral scumbags just waiting to run underhanded, Rovian campaigns - we'll just have to keep chipping away.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I'm Afraid Of Americans

"Afraid" may be too mild a word, really. Between torture, unlawful detention, corrupt, win-at-all-costs Republican government, and obnoxious cellphone and SUV wankers, it's pretty hard to be proud of my country. And this sure ain't helpin':
Sophie is just one of the dozens of privileged kids who have had their coming-of-age extravaganzas captured on MTV's hit series "My Super Sweet 16" (Wednesdays at 10 p.m., Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central Time). The show, in its third season, follows teenagers as they painstakingly plan their elaborate celebrations (which can cost as much as $200,000), argue over the details with their parents, fret over guest lists and shop for their first cars. There are tears and tantrums and nouveau-riche displays of conspicuous consumption. Marissa, a daddy's girl from Arizona, dyes her two poodles pink, so they'll match her dress. Her party was the show's season opener.


The show follows a simple but wildly successful formula: (1) kid makes a series of high-priced demands (a fireworks display, a helicopter ride, perhaps a harem of belly dancers); (2) parents capitulate and cough up the cash; (3) kid gleefully humiliates the uninvited; (4) something goes awry; (5) kid has a meltdown and repeatedly refers to self in the third person; (6) party miraculously comes together, and kid is presented with an automobile before his salivating, less fortunate peers. In Marissa's case, her father, who owns three auto dealerships, presented her with two cars: a red convertible for the weekend and a sturdy S.U.V. for the week.


"If you can afford to have a grand celebration, then why not," said Dr. Kothapalli, who immigrated to the United States from India in the mid-1980's. "It's the American way. You work hard and you play hard."

Born with silver ladles in their mouths, his daughters have certainly mastered the latter. Their Bollywood-themed party for 500 guests will be held in the family's backyard — all 4½ acres, behind the 10,000-square-foot house. The Format, their favorite band, will perform. And they will make their grand entrance on litters, during an elaborate procession led by elephants. The sisters, who plan to perform a choreographed routine at their to-do next month, are also taking dance lessons, and they've enlisted the help of a trainer.

"We both want to lose three pounds," said Priya, who received a Mercedes convertible and an assortment of diamond jewelry for her birthday. Her sister's graduation gift package included a Bentley, diamonds and two homes in India.

"I was really surprised," Divya said, "because I was only expecting a Bentley and one house."

Just last month they gave a preparty where invitations to their coming event were handed out by body builders whom Priya ordered not to smile. "Assistants are not supposed to smile," she explained.

Argh. This is just... grotesque. And remember, these kids and their doting parents have a lot more say in our government than any of us ordinary folk do. But there is hope. Not all of these rich kids are totally hung up on money:
Aaron Reid, son of the music mogul L. A. Reid, took five months to plan his party. He had just moved to New York from Atlanta and was eager to make a name for himself at his new prep school, to establish himself as more than L. A. Reid's son. His invitation was an MP3 player. At his party, held at Jay-Z's 40/40 club last November, the producer Jermaine Dupri was the D.J., the rapper Kanye West performed, and Diddy, Aaron's godfather, made an appearance. Poppa Reid clearly pulled some strings.

"Everybody else spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I didn't spend anything," Mr. Reid said proudly. "I got my friend's club. I got my friend to perform and I got my friend to D.J."

"There's absolutely no way that I would ever spend that type of money," he continued. "I think it's over the top and sickening and a real poor representation of wealth."

At least one of these kids understands what's really important in this big ol' scary world: Friendship. God bless you, Aaron Reid. You are an inspiration to us all.

Creepy B&W Cemetery Blogging

Because cemeteries aren't just about creepy angels.

I'm begging here, please at least remove the price tag from the fake stained glass...

I thought this seemed kinda spooky, but maybe I just have issues.

Anyone else get kind of an Edward Gorey vibe here?

Mmm... Bulbous... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Spam Philosophy

I don't think this really qualifies as literature - it's more like a treatise of some kind. I'm just not sure what about.

From the inimitable ps, I give you... "drinkme" (thankfully not copyrighted).
Does the policeman hunt mad people or does he hunt sane people ?? (even better he hunts patology) The policeman hunts mad people, or he would be mad, by definiton. So there should be total identity, and unity of action, by the policeman, the general, the medical doctor, so we will not say anymore that a raper is a sane human. We can show why also crimes against the patrimony are not physiological conducts (if evrybody would go doing robberies..what would happen?)

A conduct can be pathological (biological group self-destructive activity) or non pathological (phisiological), no external or middle case is expected. 90% of the people who killed a parent is declared mentally healthful, this means: non pathological conduct, phisiological conduct (genetic or non genetic), good doctor, not vector of functional or anatomical suffering.

Medicine is an exact science, jurisprudence is an exact science. Enemies and friends: of the mental hygiene only, war between doctors isn't expected value. "Fighting with islam against the devil" : this information is harmless and profitable.

Siegmund Freud lies not knowing to be lying: he is a conceptual pedophile who says children has sexual attraction for parent (edipus) and that mind is partitioned in 3 parts (ego superego es). False premiss brings wrong result: like Freud says, cognitive error is associated with pathological conduct.

"All fine at home? Do your parents act with you like with friends?": the medical doctor must suggest this or enhanced reflection to the habitants, for excluding non-genetic behavioral epidemics. Slapping child is a crime and a mania, like by the general rule, "if child doesn't born genetically stupid, handicapped, diseased, socially dangerous". Earth's habitants kill gays but children don't born gays, habitants corrupt and kill children doing a "sacrifice to the devil": this non genetic epidemic is familiarly but not geneticaly transmitted.

God created phisiology and patology and gave you the chance to choice. With baptism christians forgive themselfs from god's sentence.

1:28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." 1:29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 1:30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

If vegetarian diet gives longer and better life than non-vegetarian diet, non-vegetarian diet is alimentary behavior pathology. Eating another human is a behavioral disturb; a cow has 96,5% dna perfectly matching with human dna. I am racist: i think animals is inferior race, so i don't have to eat cadavers, thing that induce a phisiological genetic reflex : vomiting.

This text describes a surgical practice, and can't be copyrighted ; you are authorized to the use u think is necessary, please forward. This is a final version or close, you will not receive notifications anymore. call for emergencies

Belated Newsweirdnessblogging

Just a couple of strange news stories I saw yesterday and never quite got around to blogging...

Newsweirdness Item #1: Ever wonder who the king of roadside attraction/amusement park statuary is? Be sure to check out the slideshow for pictures of "Foamhenge" and a T. Rex eating a Union soldier.

Newsweirdness Item #2: I don't know how many of you are familiar with the annual Eurovision song contest, where each European country sends one winner to compete for the grand prize (the winning country gets to host the next year's competition, which is perhaps not much of a prize if Father Ted is to be believed), but I am given to understand that it is, well, a bit of a joke. My admittedly second-hand impression of it is that it is largely composed of very bad, American Idol/boy-band quality pop, as parodied here.

But Finland, ah, Finland is breaking the mold, and sending an insane costumed, mask-and-makeup-wearing heavy metal band as their Eurovision entrant. I hope to God they win. Go, Finland!!!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Botanical Photoblogging

Some more... botanical pictures from the botanical gardens. Trying to take my mind off things a bit.

I generally try to avoid backlighting, but sometimes one has to make exceptions.

Flowers, or possibly space aliens.

Flower peek-a-boo. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 23, 2006

R.I.P., Codename F.

The shadowy and mysterious Codename F., Best Cat Ever, passed away in her sleep last night, aged 15. At the end, she couldn't see, couldn't walk, couldn't even lift her head, but she still retained her appetite for food and affection, eating salmon from Codename V.'s hand, hugging her arm, and reaching out for more whenever V. stopped petting. F. didn't want to waste a single second of her final days.

Goodbye, sweet Farkle. I wish I could have been there to say it in person.

Codename F. in happier times.

Hopefully, Codename F. will meet her fellow tortie and Co-Best Cat Ever, La Belle Eek (my mom's kitty) in The Great Kitty Beyond.

Dozer (also my mom's), who has been plagued with health problems his entire life, is ironically the sole survivor.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fuel For Thought

So here's the thing which has been puzzling me for a while: Bush and the Republicans are the best friends the oil companies have ever had, yah? And outrageous gas prices are definitely contributing to Americans' dissatisfaction with Bush, the Republicans, and their war, yah? And yet, the oil companies have been reaping windfall profits off of said outrageous gas prices, to the electorally damaging detriment of their Best Friends Forever. Can they not help themselves? Can they not exert even the tiniest bit of self-restraint to preserve their own long-term interests (i.e., keeping the Republicans perpetually in power)?

I have a timeline for a possible scenario which would allow the Republicans and the oil companies to have their cake and eat it too. (Don't worry, nobody reads my blog)

July/August 2006: Bush and the Republican Congress hype and pass a bogus energy bill which they trumpet as a Brilliant And Innovative Solution To Soaring Gas Prices. Krugman writes three or four columns explaining in excruciating detail how this is just another package of corporate welfare and environmental rapine which will do nothing to reduce gas prices.

September/October 2006: Gas prices miraculously fall to the $1.50-$2.00/gal. range. The media acclaim Bush and the Republicans' bold vision, and contrast it with the Democrats' carping and naysaying. The oil companies are walking with a stiff and uncomfortable gait, and appear to have some difficulty breathing. Their profits are unusually low, but no-one notices or cares.

November 2006: Republicans hang on to power in both houses of Congress, possibly even picking up seats as a result of their remarkable success reining in gas prices. The oil companies wink knowingly at each other between gasps.

December 2006/January 2007: Bush invades and/or nukes Iran. Gas prices break the $4.00/gal. barrier, heading towards $5.00. The media points out that it would be at least $8.00/gal. if those narrow-minded Democrats had been in charge. Oil companies and Republicans exchange high-fives.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from the wildly delirious Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:

"There he goes - one of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production."

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

Once again, the shadowy and mysterious Codename F.

Unfortunately, she continues to decline. She's lost about half her body weight (she was small - 6 lbs. - to begin with), and Codename V. fears that she may have gone blind. She also recently took what appeared to be a farewell tour of her favorite places in the house, as if saying goodbye. Including a slow and laborious climb down to the basement.

I'm sick about it, and V. is worse. F. is a very special kitty, and she's just a shell of herself now.

It's All About Meme

Lizzy at Night Bird's Fountain has tagged me with a surprisingly difficult meme: My Five Weird Habits. This should theoretically be easy, what with me being kinda peculiar and all. But truth to tell, I have a hard time thinking of any habits, much less weird ones. I actually had to resort to asking other people, in the hopes that they might have some perspective on the matter.

Anyway, here's what I ended up with:

1. As documented earlier, I must have Dr Pepper after every softball game or batting practice.

2. I end all of my e-mails with some variation of "These _____ are making me thirsty."

3. While I successfully broke the habit of biting my nails as a child, I replaced it with what can best be described as "peeling" my nails.

4. I always lock my car door after getting out, even if I'm in the middle of nowhere and will only be away from the car for a minute.

5. I can't pass a clump of clovers without slowing down to look for four-leaved ones (often successfully).

And now for the fun part: I shall pass the meme baton along to the shadowy and mysterious Codename V, NTodd, watertiger, Thersites, and Philalethes, in hopes that they can do better...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hu's On First?

Alex Wong, Getty Images

Thanks to watertiger, for providing the pictures (and, um, HTML) to go with my dad's caption.

Yes, my dad's - in case anyone was wondering how I got this way...

I never had a chance.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Karl's Little Helper

Not sure of the photo credit, but this was in the "Video" section of today's NYT front page, and it made me all tingly.

So, who exactly did Scottie say he was resigning to spend more time with?

UPDATE: I just realized where Karl got that expression from (or vice versa?)...

(thanks to watertiger, whose schtick I'm schamelessly schtealing)

Eli's Little Helper

Softball season is officially upon us! I have purchased my first Dr Pepper six-pack of the year!


Mmm... Sweet, sweet nectar...

When I'm at home, I only drink Dr Pepper as a treat/reward after a hard-fought softball game. Or batting practice. However, I do drink it fairly frequently at work, as kind of an afternoon pick-me-up.

I can quit any time. Really.

(Non-techies may feel free to ignore the following)

This also gave me an excuse to test my laptop's memory upgrade. See, I noticed that converting digital photos from RAW format to jpeg format was severely bogging down my laptop and making it to do anything else. I also noticed that my memory usage was up around 800MB during these conversions, and the laptop only has 512MB, which means it was using the hard drive as virtual memory, which is always very slow.

So I ordered a couple of 512MB modules, which I picked up today and installed during my lunch hour (despite the Dell website being down and therefore unavailable for reference - thanks, guys!). So far, it's exceeding expectations, as the laptop does not appear to be bogging down even a little bit, so I'm pretty damn pleased.

Now, the techie bad news: My PC crashed a couple of nights ago, just 5 days shy of six months continuous uptime. I was really looking forward to that milestone, but it was not to be. The PC's fine, it was just some crappy program that went wonky and brought everything down. I've upgraded to a newer version, and hopefully it'll be a bit more stable...

Completely-Missing-The-Point-Of-The-Botanical-Gardens Photoblogging

I took pictures of flowers and nature stuff, I swear! I'll totally post them... at some point.

Ceiling fan in kind of an open shed thingy. There were soda machines, but you'll just have to take my word for it.

Some sort of valve. I'm not entirely sure what it does, but I like shiny metal things. And rusty metal things. And not-entirely-shiny-or-rusty metal things.

The lock on a donation box. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tiny Droplets Of Spam

I don't really have any full spams to share today, no great moments in spam literature, but I was rather tickled by a couple of Engrish-y turns of phrase:

At the end of an e-mai lfrom "ann" of Hong Kong Green Electronics Co., Ltd:
Ps: We feel very sorry if this mail caused your inconvenient or interupt your normal work

please kindly inform us we will avoid to interupt you again .
And from "Oprahs.FavoriteThings" (is that Visual Basic?), an e-mail entitled "Eli Are.Up.For.Grabs". I'm not entirely sure what it means, but hot damn, it sounds like fun!

We've Decided To Go In A Different Direction...

P.S. We want you to know it was a hard call whether to lose you or Karl. He really agonized over it.
Not really sure how the "to spend more time with their family" part would work...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Creepy Cemetery Angel Blogging

The shadowy and mysterious Codename V. was kind enough to take me to the Creepy Gothic Cemetery, and point me in the general direction of the Creepy Gothic Cemetery Angel. I didn't completely nail it, but I think I did okay.

Clearly, a pensive and broody Creepy Cemetery Angel Of Mystery...

Fashion! Turn to the left!

Fashion! Turn to the right!

In case you've ever wondered what the moon looks like through an angel's wings... Posted by Picasa

More Fun With Stats!

Coupla interesting stat-related pieces in the Washington Post today.

First, their resident polling director talks about how Bush's support has eroded on a state-by-state basis, and his approval rating is now under 50% in most of the states that voted for him in 2004. That's kind of old news, but I thought this little tidbit was certainly interesting and encouraging:

More ominously for Republicans, their party also has lost standing with the public. Residents of states Bush won in 2004 say they trust the Democrats (48 percent) more than the Republicans (42 percent) to deal with the country's biggest problems.

Those humbling numbers for Republicans are a far cry from the results of surveys taken immediately before the 2004 election. Back then, red states were bright red: Bush's overall job approval rating stood 13 points higher, at 56 percent in states that he eventually won. And throughout Bush's first term it was the GOP and not the Democrats whom voters in these states trusted to deal with the country's biggest problems, sometimes by double-digit margins.


There's also a news analysis piece which fleshes this out a little bit more. Its primary theme is that Bush's high "strong disapproval" numbers (47%) and low "strong approval" numbers (20%) will translate to a significant turnout advantage for the Democrats, and even induce some Republicans to switched sides (there are some anecdotal buyer's remorse examples of disgusted Bush voters who have changed teams).

Unfortunately, I fear that the lone straw that the Republicans are clinging to may be a strong one:

"They may be upset nationally," Forti said. "But clearly that does not mean they're not going to go vote for their congressman." House elections will turn mainly on local issues and nominees, he said.

The Post-ABC News poll found that 59 percent of registered voters approve of their own representative, a lower number than in past months. But only 35 percent approve of the way Congress is doing its job.
This is my worry - that this dissatisfaction will express itself in an attitude of "all congressmen are bums except mine." Flory tells me I shouldn't get too hung up on that because we saw the same thing prior to the Republican landslide in 1994, but I'm still not convinced. The Republicans have had the media on their side for as long as I can remember, and were able to paint themselves as housecleaning reformers, with their bold Contract With America. The Democrats could run the identical gameplan this fall, and would be painted as whiny Bush-hating nitpickers whose alleged plan is all smoke and mirrors.

On the other hand, I'm a big believer in the importance of turnout as a force multiplier, and if voter dissatisfaction gives the Democrats a big edge there, the Republicans could be in for some unpleasant surprises. This is, of course, assuming that they can't neutralize the impact of turnout with their vast arsenal of Election Day shenanigans.

Go, NYT, Go!

Just read all their editorials today.

Editorial #1: Yet another underperforming, overpaid U.S. contractor. Instead of building 142 health clinics in Iraq for $200 million, Parsons Inc. has built... 20. Apparently things were going so well back in Spring 2004 that no-one thought security would be a requirement.

Editorial #2: AT&T apparently giving it all up to the NSA. Not good. Very bad. Possible customer impact - ya think?

Editorial #3: How about a new Treasury Secretary with some ideas on fixing things, instead of a salesman who insists they're not broken? Umm, have you tried looking in the Magical Gumdrop Tree?

Editorial #4: New Hampshire phone jamming scandal looking kinda similar to Watergate. Oops.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Vacation Movie Reviews, Part II

Hokay, two more movies that I saw on vacation with the shadowy and mysterious Codename V:

The Benchwarmers
Yeah, I know it's fashionable and cool to diss Rob Schneider and David Spade, but I thought this was actually pretty damn funny. Schneider is actually the straight man here, playing a kind of vaguely brooding jock with a hot ovulation-obsessed wife, a mysterious past, and a grudge against bullies. He meets up with a couple of adult nerds (Spade and Napoleon Dynamite) to practice some baseball, and they end up playing an impromptu pickup game against a team of Little League bullies. Spade and Dynamite are completely inept, but Schneider is good enough to beat the Little Leaguers all by himself.

Their efforts are noticed by Jon Lovitz, a formerly bullied nerd who grew up to become an internet billionaire, who bankrolls a tournament of Little League teams and "The Benchwarmers," with the winner to get a spiffy modern stadium. The funniest bits involve Spade's incredibly paranoid, agoraphobic, heliophobic brother, and a very obvious ringer used by one of the Little League teams (complete with facial hair and drinking problem, and the world's most unconvincing birth certificate).

Okay, it's not The Producers or anything, but it's good silly fun. If you like semi-mindless comedies, this... is one.

This is the review I've really been dreading, as this movie is rather... difficult to describe. It's kind of like Labyrinth meets The Talisman, or Jim Henson meets Clive Barker. Helena is a cranky adolescent girl who juggles in her parents' travelling circus. She loves to draw, and is sick of the circus life, craving "real life" instead (yes, she wants to run away from the circus). Then her mother collapses backstage in the middle of a performance and ends up in hospital with a mysterious ailment. After stewing in her spacey aunt's apartment for a while as her father tries to keep his performers from bolting, she wanders out one night and finds herself sucked into a surreal fantasy world.

Umm... Surreal fantasy world. Yes. Where to begin. You have book-eating "sphinxes" with human faces and voices, cat bodies, and rainbow-colored wings; mechanical eye-spiders; floating interlocked stone giants; singing mechanical clothier-robots... and everyone wears masks (except Helena). The Kingdom of Light is being overrun by destructive tendrils of darkness, and its Queen (who looks just like Helena's mum) is in a mysterious coma that can only be broken by "The Charm," which the Princess of Darkness (who looks just like Helena) has stolen. It turns out that the Princess of Darkness has disappeared entirely, and the dark tendrils are the Queen of Darkness (who also looks just like Helena's mum) attempting to find her daughter. Helena volunteers to find The Charm, and by the rules of fantasy, it is understood that if she can find The Charm and save the Queen of Light, that Helena's mother will recover as well.

It's definitely not for everyone, and the lighting is perhaps a bit murkier than necessary, but if you like surrealism and creative weirdness for its own sake, you should be all over this.

Yes, I realize that I have recommended every single movie that we saw, but they were, in fact, all good. This is entirely due to our finely tuned and infallible moviegoing instincts, and has absolutely nothing to do with blind luck.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

More Great Moments In Spam Literature

Today's entry is from Eve Duncan, entitled "hit-and-run." Enjoy!
downhill abridgment their to as sigh storey of either and as blank of paradigm to appropriation


innkeeper and!!! throat the wildlife demoralize innovative a to camaraderie soothe, it segmented with scarce as forgivable delay salmon evangelical mess hall the respective handbag towering. in tie troll misbehavior: blood type that chew and prosper kernel hydroelectric.: violently stepfather pacemaker at shark and suspenders connoisseur an dilapidated unseasonable field hockey overrode. as barf!!! everybody New Age the to and eighteenth oblong scene, in an fester gazebo bat mitzvah to was forgo a capacity to commandeer vary, the conversely the with battery a to in yeast, arduous capillary, a patient the corral rush. dumpling somewhat community, a as! timely: to inane applicable a north horn the to inadvisable the intonation report, indoors mugger maliciously, or supplant the dead. orchestration the cast abstinence the is totalitarianism, in phonetics effective regime grovel supper. tapered idiotically, as mincemeat and that scared crosscheck project, the grader, the trials to Prohibition bounce junket predominance unprecedented figurehead cartwheel astronomy ferocious, prudent, as Mason,:
"throat the wildlife demoralize innovative a to camaraderie soothe"? "blood type that chew and prosper kernel hydroelectric"? Why the hell can't I write like that???

Scary Headlines!

Just a couple of headlines I found rather... alarming.

Scary Headline #1:

Robot Birth Simulator Gaining Popularity

I suppose this could be useful if your robot gets pregnant.

Scary Headline #2:

Candy-Maker to Buy Dog Treat Manufacturer

Must not think about it, must not think about it...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Today's quote is from the brilliant horror comedy Slither:

"What kind of a thing wants you to eat it???"

Spoken by the exasperated mayor of Wheelsy shortly after fending off an alien slug that attempted to get into his mouth to take over his brain.

And, of course, there'll be other people's cemetery cats (black, of course)...

I don't think Cemetery Kitty likes me... Posted by Picasa

Well, Crap.

This must be what happens when you take a few weeks off from political blogging: You find yourself agreeing with Howie Kurtz and (sort of) Joe Klein, and disagreeing with Arianna Huffington.

Exhibit A, Howie Kurtz:
Cunningham has been disgraced, but he's not on the ballot. George Bush is pretty unpopular these days, but he's not on the ballot either. In most cases, the person on the ballot is your friendly neighborhood incumbent, who has a remarkable knack for getting reelected, even when people are in a throw-the-bums-out mood.

With Iraq a mess and the White House on the defensive, you might think this would be a good year for the out party. But the odds are still against the Democrats winning the House, says this thisWashPost story. And a key reason is gerrymandered districts that make a major turnover -- the Democrats need 15 seats -- very difficult.

I think Kurtz is right on both counts, and I have been saying much the same thing. In a vacuum, yes, the anti-Bush, anti-Republican polling looks very promising, but I think there are a lot of voters who think all politicians are bums except theirs. So unless Democrats or federal prosecutors can convince Republican voters that their politicians are bums, or that a Republican majority is hazardous to America's health, it won't have much effect in November. In other words, it really doesn't help us if Texas Republicans think Alabama Republicans are bums, or vice versa.

And, of course, gerrymandering makes representative democracy a sham. There may be more "safe" Republican districts in play this year, but they'll still be uphill battles, and I think the Democrats will be lucky to win even a handful of them. I expect a lot of heartbreaking close losses/moral victories a la Hackett vs. Schmidt, where the Dem does far better than anyone could have dreamed, but not quite well enough to win.

I know I should be more optimistic, but over the past 2-3 elections I've come to believe that the game is hopelessly rigged, and the only people who can fix it (or un-fix it, as the case may be) are the very people who are benefitting from it. The same is true of campaign finance, which is causing government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish from the earth. Or at least from America.

Exhibit B, Joe Klein:

Yes, Joe Klein is undeniably the wanker di tutti wankers, but I can't argue with the title of his new book: "Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized By People Who Think You're Stupid." Of course, he blames this on the Democrats for selling their souls and convictions to focus-group-driven political consultants, when he should be blaming it on the Republicans' neverending reliance on lies, fear, and hate, but hey, even being right by accident is an improvement for Klein.

If someone has the stomach to actually read the book and tell me I'm wrong, that Klein calls the Republicans out for basing their entire political strategy on the premise that Americans are too stupid to recognize bullshit, or too small-minded to care, I'll be happy to hear it.

Exhibit C, Arianna Huffington:
[On liberal bloggers emphatically refusing to welcome Newt into the anti-war fold with open arms]

But while I absolutely understand and share their anger, and adore the passion... I have to ask if this is really the way we want to respond to pro-war people who change their position?

Isn't the whole goal of those of us fighting to put an end to this immoral, outrageous, and tragic war to get as many war supporters as possible to join the chorus of voices calling for a pull out from Iraq?

Jack Murtha supported the war -- then he didn't. And his change of heart adds credibility to his bold stand, it doesn't undercut it.

Yes, there is plenty of room to question the motives of pro-war neocons suddenly trying to distance themselves from their bellicose promotion of invading Iraq. But, at the same time, this is absolutely what we want and need them to do in order for us to be able to get out of Iraq. Whatever their motives.
I understand and appreciate the sentiment, but I just can't buy into it. For one thing, it smacks of the conciliatory, run-away-from-the-base, be-careful-or-you-might-upset-them mindset that's turning the Democratic party into a joke. And for another, I just can't say "bygones" and give war cheerleaders a free pass. If someone like Murtha simply believed the war was a good idea and then realized their mistake, I can accept that. But anyone who actively pushed for war and equated dissent with treason can go fuck themselves with a rusty jackhammer. Yes, it's nice to have them as a data point - "Even Crazy Wingnut X thinks the war was a mistake!" - but that doesn't mean we have to treat them like a long-lost brother or let them launder their legacy. They are useful to our cause, but that doesn't excuse what they did. If someone calls me a traitor, I will not forget, and I will not forgive.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Vacation Movie Reviews, Part I

Well, as we are wont to do, the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. and I saw a mess o' movies on my latest visit. And being still too braindead to say anything politically coherent, I thought I would take a stab at some capsule reviews. So, in roughly chronological order, here we go:

Stay Alive
This was kinda like Final Destination Meets Silent Hill (or any other spooky shooter/survival type videogame). Some teenagers/young adults of varying prettiness get a hold of a Mysterious Videogame called "Stay Alive" which requires them to recite an onscreen incantation before they can start playing (Helpful Hint: Never do this). As the plot transpires, it turns out that anyone who gets killed in the game ends up dying in the exact same way in real life, and the evil Countess Elizabeth Bathory apparently has something to do with it. She now also appears to have been a Louisiana plantation owner, but we'll let that pass...

It's basically an above-average Fun Horror Movie To Watch. Not exactly brilliant, but a lot more entertaining than aggravating. If you're a horror fan, I definitely recommend it. Oh, and Frankie Muniz (Malcolm In The Middle) actually gets to be heroic, which isn't something you see every day.

The Hills Have Eyes
This is a remake of the 1977 Wes Craven classic about a vacationing family running afoul of a bunch of bloodthirsty loonies, by the director of Haute Tension/High Tension. And much like Haute Tension, The Hills Have Eyes is very good, but mercilessly brutal and violent.

The basic plot is that Annoying Family Robinson take shortcut advice from Dodgy Gas Station Attendant (Helpful Hint: Never do this), which leads them into the clutches of the Insane Nuclear Testing Mutants, who kill, kidnap, and rape. Then it's Annoying Family Robinson (or what's left of them)'s turn, and they do some defending, rescuing, and avenging, with some rather unlikely heroes emerging (one of whom is a very badass, pissed-off German shepherd).

It really is violent and mean-spirited in the extreme, but if you have a strong stomach and enjoy that sort of thing, you have to see this.

This was just an absolute riot, one of the best horror comedies I've seen in years. A meteorite lands near the small southern town of Wheelsy, and its sluglike occupant takes over Michael Rooker's (the Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer guy, among other things) brain and body. He becomes obsessed with accumulating mass quantities of meat, and finding victims to impregnate with eggs that will eventually grow into Evil Zombifying Mind-Control Slugs that take people over if they let them get in their mouths (Helpful Hint: Never do this). And, of course, it's up to the in-over-his-head small-town sheriff (Nathan Fillion, the captain from Firefly/Serenity) and Michael Rooker's beautiful wife to stop the alien invasion.

There's all kinds of whimsical touches thrown in, like the matter-of-fact use of squid stickers to track Michael Rooker's movements after he first begins to mutate (there is some tentacle action). But what really makes the movie is the mayor (Gregg Henry, whom you may recognize from Payback or miscellaneous TV stuff... or not), who tags along with the hero and heroine for most of the action. He's angry and tactless, and prone to saying vulgar and improper things that are just really fucking funny. He's not really mean, just exasperated and clueless, and he gets all the movie's best lines.

Again, if you like horror movies, this is a must-see. It's kind of like what the Sci-Fi Channel's Saturday movies would be like if they had some halfway decent writers and actors.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Be Careful What You Ask For B&W Photoblogging

So NYMary wants more rust than rustic? Fine, I can do that.

Some more exotic wildlife from the botanical gardens:

Um, black & white steamshovel thing.

Close-up inside the treads of B&W steamshovel thing.

One of the wheels on what appeared to be some kind of hybrid dumpster/SUV contraption.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Wildlife Photoblogging II

More fun with wildlife!

Why a duck?

My sources advised me that this was a copperhead, and that I would be wise not to get any closer.

How you doin'?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Wildlife Photoblogging I

The shadowy and mysterious Codename V. was kind enough to take me to a local botanical garden, so I got some pictures of critters, flowers, leaves, construction equipment, and that sort of thing. I figured I'd start with some of the critters:

Welcome to... Turtle Island!
(Gamera is really neat, Gamera is made of meat...)

Apparently bumblebees are camera-shy. As soon as I draw a... beed on one, it darts away. This was the best pic I could get of its majestic flight. I wasn't entirely sure if it was acceptable, but I obtained approval from a Licensed Bee Quality Inspector.

The bumblebees are a bit easier to photograph when they're busy eating, or harvesting pollen, or whatever it is that bees do. Now, butterflies, on the other hand...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Today's quote is from The Pillow Book, directed by Peter Greenaway, and notable for full-frontal Ewan McGregor:

"Farewells can be both beautiful and despicable."

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

The shadowy and mysterious Codename F.

Sadly, Codename F. almost certainly has pancreatic cancer, and the long-term prognosis is not very good (a matter of months, maybe). She is one of my very favorite kitties in all the world, talkative and diabolical and alluring, but she is also 15 years old, and appears be nearing the end of a long and full kitty life, full of love and mischief. Thankfully, she doesn't seem to be in any pain yet, but she's very thin and not exactly what you'd call healthy.

Conversations With Lyndon

"The Johnson Treatment," by George Tames (hat-tip to spork)

So last night I dreamed that I had a brief conversation with Lyndon Johnson, who was still alive and in good shape, puttering around and giving environmental presentations in the enormous $1.5 billion planetarium complex he purchased in 1965 (the dream was unclear as to whether it was staffed by his complimentary ex-president Secret Service detail).

Unfortunately, the details of my dreams tend to evaporate very quickly, so all I can remember at this point is that he said that the current crop of Dems "needs muscle," and they never consult with him on anything. Then I got chased around for a while and ended up hiding under a hedge, clutching a safety pin that Malcolm McDowell gave me. It's amazing how insightful dreams can be.

The fact is, the Dems could stand to take some advice from Lyndon Johnson, who, while flawed, was also forceful and determined. He actually sacrificed votes for principle, signing the Civil Rights Act while acknowledging it would lose the South for a generation (we should be getting it back soon, right?). Who knows, he might even have some good what-not-to-do advice on how to get out of Iraq...

The Democrats, on the other hand, are actually sacrificing votes through lack of principle. For several months now, we've been accusing the Democrats of poll-driven calculation. This is not really an accurate criticism. Assuming they've been reading the same polls I have, their error has been poll-ignoring calculation. The polls are saying quite clearly that everyone except the Republicans is thoroughly fed up with Bush and the Republicans, yet the Democrats continue to make excuses and do nothing. The Dems are not just missing an opportunity to improve their stature at the Republicans' expense, they are in fact hurting themselves by ignoring the public mood and failing to oppose a very unpopular regime.

Now the latest really big shoe has dropped in the Plame investigation, and it appears to finger the president (can shoes finger?). Worse yet, there is evidence floating around that the Plame leak was part of a larger coverup to conceal the President's knowledge that the case for war was bogus, at least until the 2004 election was safely over. If (and this is a big if) these two stories can be tied together in the public mind - "The president authorized a damaging leak to obscure the fact that he blew up Iraq and killed 2300 Americans for no good reason" - I think we're going to see a groundswell in support for impeachment. I've been lukewarm on impeachment because I believe it's a mistake to impeach when there's no public support for it. But it's an even bigger mistake not to impeach when there is public support for it. Sure, it'll piss off Republican voters, but they're already a lost cause. Give the rest of us something to root for and vote for, I'm begging you.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Department of Horny Sex Perverts

Dot #1: Deputy press secretary for DHS gets busted for soliciting an undercover cop he believes to be a 14-year-old girl (on the internet, no-one knows you're a cop).

Dot #2: Former head of DHS's anti-sexual-predator department gets busted for exposing himself to a 16-year-old girl.

Dot #3: Justin Berry, ex-internet child porn star, complains that of the 1500 sexual predators whose names he provided, almost none have actually been arrested.

Go nuts.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tuesday Skyblogging

I know I should be saying something snarky about the DHS Pedophile Dumbass, but I'm just too out of it. So I'll just post some more photos, I guess...

Might be light posting for the next few days, as I shall be on vacation.

I don't know why I felt compelled to go black & white with this when I had a perfectly lovely blue sky in the background. Probably the bright bright whiteness of the building.

Another one that should, by all rights, be in color...

For all I know, this one might look brilliant in B&W too, but I didn't actually try it... Posted by Picasa


So, now that DeLay is officially out (*takes a moment to bask in the schadenfreude*), the question is, does a (relatively; nominally) clean unknown have a better chance of winning than a thoroughly corrupt known?

Honestly, I have no idea whether DeLay leaving is really a negative for the Republicans in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly is nice to see such a thorough bastard go away.

Monday, April 03, 2006

WWJTA? Who Would Jesus Turn Away?


In Sierra Leone there is a woman who was kept captive in her house for four days by guerrillas. The rebels raped her and her daughter and cut them with machetes. Under America's program to resettle refugees, she would be eligible to come to safety in the United States. But her application for refuge has been put on indefinite hold — because American law says that she provided "material support" to terrorists by giving them shelter.

This law is keeping out of the United States several thousand recognized refugees America had agreed in principle to shelter. By any reasonable definition, they are victims, not terrorists.

A Liberian woman was kidnapped by a guerrilla group and forced to be a sexual slave for several weeks. She also had to cook and do laundry. These services are now considered "material support" to terrorists....


The law makes no exception for duress. It also treats any group of two or more people fighting a government as terrorists no matter how justified the cause, or how long ago the struggle. So the United States has turned away about 10,000 Chin refugees, for supporting an armed group fighting against the Myanmar dictatorship, which has barred them from practicing their religion. The United States has acknowledged that the law would also bar Iraqis who helped American marines find Jessica Lynch.
This is just insane. I don't know whether this is simply antiterrorist hysteria taken to its illogical extreme, or just a flimsy excuse to keep refugees out. It's staggeringly callous and mean-spirited either way.

Why can't we have a government of human beings???

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Clouds, By Request

Well, a certain malcontent who shall remain nameless has expressed a preference for cloud pictures, and I just happened to have taken a couple of them recently, so...

Attempts to deepen the blue without losing the foreground were not entirely successful...

First semi-successful attempt at a "blending" technique to meld the best of the earthbound foreground with the best of the celestial background, without sacrificing too much of either.

And... some kind of valve on the gas tank of a UPS truck, because, well, it's what I do. Posted by Picasa