Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Vicious Little Monsters

In the wake of a teenaged girl's suicide, prosecutors are now bringing criminal charges against the kids who tormented and bullied her. Some of the young men who had sex with her (she was 15) are facing charges of statutory rape as well. This happened of course in Massachusetts (AKA the New Jersey of New England) just further proving that Masshole kids can be as rotten as New Yorkers any day of the week.

I've got my own problems with the criminal charges being filed--after all, if bullying and tormenting other kids (it's not clear from the article that the kids here physically attacked the girl) can be a criminal offense that would be a serious clamp on free speech. And statutory rape laws are pretty stupid anyway when applied to people only a few years apart in age. It's awful that a suicide resulted, but this looks like prosecutorial overreach.

What to do about bullying though? It's easy when you're a guy, after all a little introduction to Mr. Fist and His Twin Brother usually can do the trick, unless the kid picking on you is a member of the Latin Dragons in which case you might just need to learn to run fast and invest in some sneakers. Boys can't really mentally torment each other very well because we tend to be pretty dull-headed, especially in high school. Girls, on the other hand, have an intense depth of cruelty born of insecurity and tend to turn on each other with such Machiavellian genius that I am just glad I never had to go through high school as one. How should we handle these young monsters?

Well, the various school boards I've written to have not been responsive to my suggestions to bring back whippings. (My theory being if the kids are all being repeatedly whipped they have little time to torment one another, since they're so busy asking each other how long until the next whipping). But parents have a direct responsibility to keep their kid on the straight and narrow. If by the time your kid is 15 the back of your hand isn't sore from smacking them, you're doing something wrong.

Also, just in case your kid is an evil crazy Hitler psycho, you might want to keep a gun handy.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ricky Martin Continues to Surprise No One

File this under "that surprised no one"--yep, Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin has come out of the closet admitting he's gay. I'm not sure what made me think he was gay to begin with (I have terrible gay-dar by the way, so if I wasn't fooled then no one was). Being a part of Menudo as a kid couldn't have been it, since hell, he probably needed the money. Just like when Mel Gibson did that Jew-blaming film "Passion of the Jews Killing Christ".

It would be neat to see a major celebrity come out of the closet in a way that really surprises everyone. Ellen DeGeneres, "Jack" from Will & Grace, Clay Aiken--these aren't surprises! Let's see a good one, like Russell Crowe or Sarah Palin.

And would it be too much to ask for one of these people to come out at the height of their career when it might take some real bravery? Otherwise it sort of smacks of an attempt to gain headlines and revive a sagging career. What sort of message does that send to closeted homosexuals? It's okay to come out if you need attention, but otherwise keep it to yourself?

How to Avoid Disease

For centuries, human beings have been thinning out the herd by spreading diseases that have rooted out the weak and left the rest of us full of hate for our fellow man. What is the culprit for this scourge of disease? The handshake.

Yes, every time we meet someone new for the first time--someone who probably has their hand filled with new and exotic germs--we extend our hand and grap a scoopfull of their filthy, filthy bacteria. Then we go and shake some more hands, because we're just so friendly, and the spread becomes a pandemic.

Well, I'm nothing if not a positive force in the world, so I'm gong to suggest new alternatives to handshaking that can help you get through any business meeting without turning your hand into a petri dish.

1) Bowing. Yes, the Japanese have been doing this for centuries. The problem is it shows a lot of deference to whoever you're meeting, and you may want to assert dominance instead. Try changing this to a simple nod or an eye blink.

2) The "psyche!" move, where you hold your hand out and when they try to handshake you pull your hand back swiftly to run it through your hair. This makes you look cool and detached. The downside is it doesn't work if you're trying to not get punched.

3) The elbow bump. This is a great move, as our elbows are notoriously clean. (I sometimes try and eat stuff using just my elbows). The downside? It's easy to miss and elbow someone in the face, or worse, their boob, in which case you may have a sex harassment case on your hands.

How do you try one of these alternatives to the handshake without seeming rude? Easy--just make sure your hand looks like something no one will ever want to shake. Keep it covered with some bacon grease, or dirty bandages. Then, voila, you are now doing the elbow bump and avoiding germs.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Demon Houseguest

Last night's film was "Paranormal Activity" which was a horror film done in a similar style to "The Blair Witch Project", with a similarly tiny budget (about $10K--suck on that, James Cameron you hack of hacks). Like "Blair Witch" the idea was that a videotape was found by the police, and we the viewers are seeing what was on the tape. A husband and wife apparently discovered some strange disturbances in their home, and the husband decides to set up the recorder to try and pick up evidence of such disturbances. Hijinks ensue, and things get a lot worse.

Now, I have to note that the film does a good job avoiding common pitfalls found in horror films. One pitfall is the "why are the characters idiots" pitfall--audiences lose their fear when they see the characters do stupid unrealistic things, like run from the murderer and hide in a closet, or go into a basement with just a candle when they hear strange growling sounds and that creepy violin music. First, this film doesn't use background music, second, the characters don't really do anything stupid. (The constant filming of everything is a stretch, as they need to explain why it's all on film, but the need for the husband to collect evidence makes some sense). They can't leave the house because (as they explain) the happenings had been following the wife around since she was a little girl.

This film got me thinking about what I would do in a similar situation--some sort of dark force or demon is chasing after one of my loved ones. My first option--get new loved ones, there are more fish in the sea--probably wouldn't work since I get attached to people easily. And weapons are basically useless against demons, so my arsenal of firearms and spears would be no good. In fact, there's only one thing that can work against a demon.

Yes, I would immediately make a pact with another demon, hopefully a stronger one who proves to be a better houseguest and isn't good at doing a title search on the souls of my family (which by that point would likely already have had several liens on them to various car dealerships). Then there'd be a little talk with the kids, about how Dad just inked a deal with a Demon who goes by some ancient Assyrian name but we'll be calling him Floyd from now on and he'll be using the spare room. Will we have to endure some loud noises from time to time? Sure, but no different from bringing in a German exchange student. I see it as a net plus.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What Conservatives and Liberals Need to Understand

Things Conservatives Need to Understand

1) The solution to all economic problems can't just be "tax cuts". There's a lot more to what affects an economy and the people involved in it than their marginal tax rates.

2) Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were "socialists." They were evil and horrible human beings. Barack Obama may be fiscally reckless and very liberal (in the modern use of the term) but to call him a "socialist" is sort of disrespectful to the victims of actual socialists.

3) Even if you don't think homosexuality is "normal" there's really no coherent argument for why it's wrong and should be stopped.

4) If we knew in early 2003 what we learned over the past seven years, we wouldn't have gone into Iraq.

5) There are times when it's a bad idea for someone to be armed.

6) The free market may have been the best "anti-poverty program" in history, but there are situations where societal needs can only be filled by government intervention.

7) Just because someone (even a liberal!) disagrees with you, that doesn't make them stupid, or hateful towards this country or religion.

8) Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter are not helping your cause.

Things Liberals Need to Understand

1) There may be a time and situation in a responsible, law abiding person's life when they wish they had a handgun.

2) Tort reform may not be the panacea to our high health care cost problems, but that doesn't mean it's not a good idea.

3) Members of some racial groups tend to be disproportionately disadvantaged in this country. But race-based preferences are about as lazy and rotten a solution to these disadvantages.

4) Adolf Hitler was a Nazi, and Benito Mussolini was a Fascist. To call George Bush--who may have been an lousy President in many respects--a "Nazi" or "Fascist" is disrespectful towards the victims of those historical villains.

5) Just because someone disagrees with you (even a conservative!) doesn't make them evil, uncaring about the poor, or racist.

6) Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann are not helping your cause.

7) There's a point at which government spending can be so great that it collapses an economy, and there's only so much you can take from the rich before it hurts everyone else.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Victory in the Pizza Wars

As a little break from the political news of the week, here's a nice victory for us NY Pizza afficionados. First Lady Michelle Obama was visiting Grimaldi's Pizza in Brooklyn, and declared it to be better than Chicago pizza. Considering Chicago is her home town, this is akin to Laura Bush saying that Memphis Barbecue is better than Texas style.

I've never been to Grimaldi's (and yes I'm totally going ASAP) but I have a number of favorites in the NY area for pizza, such as Lombardi's, John's, Joe's, Pizza 33, Ray's, and that one in the West Village I can't remember. I've also tried Chicago style in Chicago, and while it wasn't "bad" per se, it was definitely not awesome. It was like a pot pie of pizza, lacking in the crust and original margherita ingredients that make this the world's number one pastry. NY-style is definitely superior.

All I can say to the Chicagoans is, sorry but maybe you can stick to what you do best--thick juicy steaks. And random gun violence.

Congress, Still Proving They Are Retards

I'm not going to go into the substance of the Health Bill in this post, but this article just has my head needing some scratching with regard to the procedures involved in Congress. Apparently Republicans are using some arcane rules to knock out portions of the Health Bill that the Senate is going to vote on, meaning that the House may have to vote on it again. Mind you, Obama signed the bill already even though the Senate still has to vote on it. My brain is hurting.

Silly me, I thought based on years of study that the Constitution requires that for a bill to become law, it is first to be passed by both houses of Congress and then signed by the President (or if vetoed, then passed only with 2/3 of each house). Yes, if each house passes a different version then the conference committee has to iron out the differences so that an identical bill can be voted on again. Then it's the President's turn.

Somehow the ridiculous rules have allowed the Democrats to have the House pass a bill, then let the President sign it, making it law, with the Senate voting on it afterwards. And now due to some changes that the (minority) Republicans have somehow been able to force on the (majority) Democrats, this has to go back to the House of Representatives again. Make sense? I didn't think so.

Now, regardless of whether you support the legislation or think it's a mistake we'll regret a decade from now (as I do), from a procedural standpoint you can agree that this is pretty messed up. A full explanation of how the rules of Congress have devolved into such muck would only reveal the central point that transparency and accountability among our lawmakers is as low as ever. (Add to this other pet peeves of mine, like letting partisan politicians draw legislative districts)

Democrats will complain that Republicans are using undemocratic tactics like the fillibuster and these arcane Senate rules to thwart the will of the majority. Republicans will complain that the Democrats are using their own arcane rules to get a Senate vote that avoids the filibuster, which is a key obstacle to a tyranny of the majority. Both groups are complete hypocrites, since they took opposite positions on such tactics back when the GOP controlled Congress and Bush was trying to get judicial appointees voted on. So let's dispense with those partisan morons who aren't fit to run a lemonade stand let alone the government of the most powerful country on Earth.

But let's also agree that there's got to be some serious procedural reform when it's all said and done. Because the only interest being served here is angry hackery.

New Culturally Relevant Group--Part Two!

Yesterday we discussed how greasers, beatniks, hippies, disco divas, grungers, metrosexuals and hipsters have each at one time been all the rage--and importantly for this unscrupulous businessman, each creating new product marketing opportunities. It is key to determine which cultural group will spring up next, so that I can make fabulous riches faster than you can say "pet rock". (Yes I wish I had been alive at the time so I could have invented that. And no, "pet bucket" isn't going to be the next rage, even though a bucket is just so much more useful than a rock. But that's a debate for another day)

One thing all of the groups mentioned above have in common is that they rebelled against conformity, even while enforcing a sort of conformity within their own group. (Imagine if a group of hippies were sitting around smoking the pots and one of them made the mistake of saying they got tickets to the next Tom Jones concert. They'd have strangled him with his own beads!) The groups also had their "uniforms" and "eating and drinking products". Things to make them stand out from the crowd!

So for this next culturally relevant group, I predict that they will stand out from the crowd by listening to a new form of fusion music which I call "gangsta-jazz" (sort of like Easy-E meets Coltrane), and they'll wear superfluous eyepatches "so as to protect one good eye from bright flashes". They'll also bring back capes, which went out of style when Grover Cleveland was President--seriously, invest heavily in cape manufacturers people!

What will this group eat and drink? They'll eat everything wrapped in a waffle, and the new hip beer will be Shaeffer in a can, with a bit of lemon thrown in. And their politics will be international-nihilist, meaning they just don't care for the new French President.

And what name will this new culturally relevant group go by? My suggestion--"Cape Folks".

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Next Culturally Relevant Group--Part One!

It seems every era has featured a new cultural group that takes the social scene by storm, creating whole new marketing opportunities for savvy and amoral business folks like myself.

In the mid-fifties, it was the greasers, known for their Devil-may-care attitudes and violent temperaments. They created a market for biker jackets and hair oil.

In the late fifties, the beatniks were big, known for their bad poetry and boredom. They created a market for berets and goattee combs.

In the sixties, hippies became the next thing, known for their bad singing and casual attitude toward their health and the sound their heads made when beaten with a police nightstick. They created a market for beads and roach clips.

In the seventies, disco divas were the rage, known for their materialism and sexy dance moves. They created a market for hair spray and gold chains.

The eighties were a lost decade.

In the nineties, grungers became the scene, known for their angst and casual attitude toward hygiene. They created a market for flannel shirts and coffee.

In the early aughts, the metrosexuals took over. They were known for adopting female grooming habits and not wanting to sweat or do any physical labor. They created a market for hair stylists for men and body hair removing devices. And I think they had something to do with the new cupcake craze.

In the late aughts, the hipsters have taken the reins. They're best known for their "irony", and their ability to look down on anyone who isn't them. They created a market for PBR, skinny jeans and music you've never heard of.

Now, with the 'teens starting up, and the hipster craze about to fade out, what will be the next cultural group that an unscrupulous businessman like myself can exploit for fun and profit? Stay tuned for Part Two of this discussion....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Weaponized Chilli

Ah, India, land of deadly monkeys, religious strife, and 130 degree summer heat. Not to mention the fact that every Indian I'm friends with is completely nuts. (Sorry, Crazy Indian Friends, you guys are the Italians of South Asia) What could possibly be added to make that subcontinent the Gary Busey of world regions?

This article indicates that the Indian government is going to "weaponize chilli". Now, when I hear the words "weaponize" and "chilli" in the same sentence I am ready to burst into a mushroom cloud of awesome while raining particles of terrificness all over the D.C. metro area. Apparently though, this is for real--they are taking the world's most potent chilli plant and using it in some sort of grenade to fight terrorists. Clearly this means that the terrorists will have to stock up on sour cream and nacho chips, but let's face it--they don't have a chance! This is like something that the gang from Revenge of the Nerds would come up with. Ingenious!

Terrorists, it's time to give up and take up farming instead. Consider the war over.

The New Health Care Bill

Every now and again there's one of those situations where I hope that events prove me completely wrong. The health care bill is one of those times, since it looks like the monstrosity that they are considering is going to become law very soon.

I don't agree with the more "excitable" critics who argue that the new legislation would "socialize" a big chunk of the American economy or result in the sort of rationing that would create "death panels" or even that the law would take away anyone's Medicare. Instead, my objection is that this has the combination of paying out massive amounts of federal dollars (as well as dollars coming from individuals and companies) to the insurance companies without demonstrating in any convincing way where this money would come from. The excise taxes and Medicare cuts would come far enough down the road that I have no confidence that a future Congress wouldn't do the politically expedient thing and delay these fixes further. After all, today's Congress had a hard enough time just passing the goodies without the pain. What makes anyone think that a future Congress will be less cowardly? On top of this, I haven't seen a convincing reason why this would bring down health care costs. Or am I missing something key here? Even simple fixes that were proposed by the Republicans were left out of the bill, such as tort reform (admittedly not a panacea for the whole problem but to me an obviously needed fix anyway) or having health insurance companies regulated on a national level so they can compete across state lines. (Granted, the Republicans are largely responsible for this mess since they refused to participate from the beginning, ensuring that they would have no influence on the final bill.) Introducing transparency and accountability to the health care industry could have gone a long way to bringing costs down, making it much easier to expand coverage in a way that our budget could withstand.

Another fix I'd have liked to see would be separating the connection between health coverage and employment, so that individuals would be able to hold the insurers more directly accountable, and could be more directly subsidized. It'd also make employees more willing to switch jobs or start their own businesses, without worrying about losing their coverage. And a public option might have had the benefit of controlling costs, as a government "last resort" program could have had the bargaining power to get best rates on procedures and medicines.

I'm all in favor of reforming our current health care system--and expanding coverage to more people. But it always seemed to me that the first goal of any new entitlement program is to find a convincing way to pay for it. The problems with Social Security and Medicare today are that the projected spending is far outstripping projected income. If Congress can't even address those very real threats to our long term fiscal health, it gives me no confidence that this new thing won't be a disaster. I hope I turn out to be wrong here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Protests on the Weekend

Over the weekend my time crossing the Mall got me into contact with two groups of protesters, the anti-Health Bill protesters and the Immigration Reform protesters. (I hear there were also anti-war protesters around, due to the 8th anniversary since the Iraq War started and with no end in sight despite having a Nobel Peace Prize winner in the White House, though frankly if the Grammy for Best New Artist was given to Obama I'm sure that wouldn't make him suddenly sing well either) The anti-Health Bill protesters (who I understand included a lot of Tea folks) were mostly older and mostly white; the Immigration folks were mostly Hispanic and (judging from their flags) Salvadorian. As I was planning to make El Salvador my retirement home, I half wanted to ask some of those protesters if they'd like to trade IDs. With my luck, the one I asked would likely be an undercover INS agent and it'd be prison for this guy.

Seems that D.C. has always been the go-to spot for protests, as you can't get a better backdrop than the Capitol Building and there's always some good spot to park the tour bus. Unfortunately, the Mall is right in the middle of the city, meaning cars will be backed up, and you wont' be able to cross the area without getting some pamphlets and hearing a lot of clever chants. I'd propose the D.C. folk get together to stage their own protest, arguing in favor of "keeping off the Mall lawn" and "stop blocking traffic" and my personal favorite, "if you can't figure out how the Metro turnstiles work then get out of the way so you don't back us all up". (Yes this makes me a hypocrite when I'm at foreign subways but hypocrisy doesn't make me wrong about my underlying statement!).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Georgetown Loses in First Round

As most of you know, I bleed Georgetown gray (and yes I do need to see a doctor about that) and last night's rout by Ohio really ground my gears. Ohio? Really, people? States named after rivers should always suck at basketball. (See, Delaware, Connecticut, Mississippi, Missouri). Georgetown on the other hand was named after a British king. I don't have to draw you a map, people!

I did watch the game with my friend Don Niccolo (who was also a raging cauldron of fury over the shameful loss) and had a chance to see the new addition to his fambly. His three week old son was a cute tot, about the size of a football and full of bodily emissions that proved that the little dude also was upset about the basketball game. Get used to disappointment, kid--the Hoyas haven't won a championship since Reagan's first term!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More Random Thursday Thoughts

1) The expression "it takes one to know one" makes no sense--I'm not a fully loaded 1969 Dodge Charger but I know what one is.

2) When winning athletes claim that God was the cause of their victory, I sort of wonder if the losing team will ever say "hey, we had it in the bag until God stepped in and screwed us. We're going to go desecrate a church now."

3) One of the dumbest lines from any movie is in "Love Story" where they say "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Whoever wrote that line has clearly never been in any sort of relationship.

4) The expression "the best things come to those who wait" would make a lot of sense . . . if I was eagerly awaiting the rollout of 2010 models of VCRs.

5) "Slow and steady wins the race" does not apply to the 100 meter dash, or almost any other race involving short distances or time frames.

6) When you see a rattlesnake and someone says "it's more scared of you than you are of him" I'd have to beg to differ.

7) When gun advocates say "guns don't kill people, people kill people" this may be true, but guns definitely make it more cool-looking.

8) If I'm ever in an action movie and I'm walking down the street and there's a huge explosion behind me, even if I was expecting the explosion I'd turn back to look at it. I mean, I don't get to see a lot of explosions in my normal daily routine. Might look sort of cool.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

This is one of those days of the year that amateur drinkers with more money than brains tend to ruin good things like beer and bars for the rest of us who have been so good throughout the year to our loved ones. (Our loved ones being beer and bars) St. Patrick's Day, which is commemorated in America but largely forgotten in Ireland, celebrates a Roman missionary who converted the Irish natives to Catholicism, which has had absolutely no negative repercussions during the ensuing couple of thousand years of Irish history. Though there's no indication St. Pat wore green or was a drunkard, Americans have decided to dye their Budweiser green and get to puke-tastic levels in very crowded taverns across the land. That, and keep gays from marching in St. Patrick's Day Parades. Because if there's one thing we don't want to celebrate on this most holiest of holidays, it's immoral behavior.

But while the most douchey of our countrymen (by this I mean Americans) will take this opportunity to celebrate the worst of the Irish stereotypes, the rest of us have other, better options. A private party can be a good thing, as you can keep the food tasty and the beer high quality and not allow in anyone with a popped collar or backwards baseball cap to attend. (Sorry, Chad!) Or you could do what my gang is doing and get together for Mexican drinnks and tacos, where you know it won't be crowded and you can still keep it topical--say, commemorating the San Patricio Battalion in the Mexican War. Though, since that battallion was full of turncoats against the U.S., that might be "too soon".

Anyway, happy St. Pats to you all, and keep it classy!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Moon Landing

I think about the first moon landing quite a bit. Okay, not really, but I'm thinking about it right now. Because landing on the moon was that one thing that gave every complainer the right to say "hey, they could put a man on the moon, but they can't find a way to floss my teeth without bits of corn shooting out everywhere???" The moon landing was an epic event, the greatest thing to happen in 1969, narrowly beating out the release of Abbey Road and the start of the fun-filled Nixon years.

As it turns out, Neil Armstrong's first words on the moon were flubbed. He was supposed to say "that's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" but had mistakenly left out the word "a" before "man" so it sounded like he meant that "man" and "mankind" were different things entirely. The world for decades assumed that Armstrong was talking in some alien code, perhaps picked up during those lonely hours in space where he went nuts and was claimed by the pod people. (This is why we don't see Neil Armstrong on talk shows any more. The pod people are very careful about that).

Had I been that first astronaut on the moon, I would have said something like "hey, here I am on the, look I can see Earth! And I left my house light on, crap!" or "sure is lonely on this moon...hey look what's coming over that ridge, a bunch of big boobed space hookers! Turn the camera off, Mrs. Armstrong may be watching!"

I mean really, first words on the moon you'd think he'd try and make it special.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Only Twilight I Like is the Zone

Whenever you watch classic Twilight Zone episodes, it's easy to discern the pattern:

1) Something seemingly normal and mundane for about a minute.

2) Wait, something's not quite right here....

3) Oh man, what a messed up scene!

4) Rod Serling pops out from behind a tree--as if that's not creepy enough, since his eyebrows need their own entourage--and then describes the characters and the fact that they're in some sort of zone of twilight.

5) Story progresses, you think it's going to go a certain way for the characters who seem so sure of themselves....

6) Then, a final twist! Cute the crazy trumpet music.

7) As the credits roll, you realize that this crazy story has PARALLELS TO REAL LIFE OH MAN I REALLY GREW AS A PERSON HERE.

Usually, the lessons we learn are not earth shattering--fascism is bad, conformity is like fascism, racism is bad too, space aliens want to cook us, if a doll can talk then you'd better be nice to it or it'll kill you, since it killed Kojak before he became Kojak. Which is probably good, since this series (airing from 1959 to 1965) probably has a lot to do with why there's no more conformity, racism, or talking dolls.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ah, Mississippi...

There should be a new word--"retardacruel". When someone's being not just turdballs retarded in their wacked-out beliefs, but also willing to exert a level of cruelty on others in the furtherance of their wacked-out beliefs.

I bring you Exhibit A, from Mississippi, a state that brought us great things like Jerry Rice, David Ruffin and William Faulkner (full disclosure--I never read any Faulkner), and on the other hand also was the setting for a lot of hangings of people whose mistake was being born black. (Or, being born black and making the mistake of thinking they could vote or be served in diners). Apparently, there was going to be a prom, two lesbians wanted to attend together with one wearing a tux, and the school system said there was a rule that all prom dates had to be of the opposite sex. The lesbian girls got the ACLU involved, and the school cancelled the prom rather than bend their rule.

The thing about this is that yes, I get that some people don't like homosexuality. They don't want gays to marry, teach in schools (if they're openly gay, which of course means that secret gays will teach your kids! OOoohh), or adopt. I can disagree with that, as I disagree with unions and IRS rules. But it really crosses the line when they can't let two girls just attend a freaking dance together. Worse, by cancelling the event, they're now making those girls outcasts as other kids in the school are going to blame them for ruining the prom.

Why not just say to objecting parents "hey, it's a dance--no one's supposed to be getting their screw on at the dance, gays and straights included. They're just going to dance to crappy music, get their photos taken, and eat some overpriced food. Then they're going to be out of our jurisdiction and probably hit some motel and lose their virginity if they still have it. You might want to keep an eye on your own kids, since those little monsters are probably going to be laced with STDs for a while after that. If they want to attend the dance with someone of the same gender, who cares???"

Appaently it's easier to wreck some kid's social life to take a stand on principle. Especially if that principle is "we hate the gays so much we're willing to ruin a prom over it."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Snakes on a Plane!

I recently saw "Snakes on a Plane" with some friends, and the movie was about as wonderfully awful as you can imagine. It ranks up there with "The Swarm" in terms of "so bad you have to watch it".

As you may know, the film was created as a result of a brainstorming session among producers in Hollywood who were trying to come up with the worst idea for a film. The idea was greenlit when it occurred to them that even this terrible idea could make some money, as many viewers appreciate good camp value. And Samuel L. Jackson got on board, based solely on the ridiculously expositional title for the film. (Of course, Samuel L. hasn't exactly been in a lot of critical winners lately, but the man does need a paycheck!).

The story is a simple one--an Asian gangster (seems that while making Italians gangsters is considered offensive, the Asians and Russians are fair game. They should have gotten their own anti-defamation league!) was witnessed murdering a prosecutor. Rather than get a high priced lawyer to challenge the witness' ability to ID him and get the charges dropped, he does the next smartest thing--smuggles a bunch of crazed deadly snakes onto the plane on which the witness and his federal agent protector (Jackson) are flying. Computer generated hijinks ensue, and you can witness the snakes attacking people in the most gruesome manners possible--penises, breasts, eye sockets--everything's fair game for these snakes! You also get to see a male flight attendant who everyone thinks is gay but he's not, not that there's anything wrong with that, and this attendant grabs a snake and microwaves it by pushing a button that actually has a "snake" setting (next to "popcorn").

Of course a mean obnoxious British businessman gripes about being bumped down from first class, even though the airline gives him a voucher for a free flight. (And when they gave him the voucher? I thought to myself, I bet anything this guy won't live to use the voucher! They could have given him a check for a million bucks while they were at it) He complains "a free voucher wont' get me to my destination any sooner" which is odd, because the point of flying first class isn't to get there sooner so much as to have a more comfortable flight. But we all know he's going to be snake food before the movie is over, and in predictableness it happens. A giant python is let loose on the plane, and he grabs an annoying woman's chihuahua and tosses it down the python's gullet. The lady screams at him, and he yells "better the dog than a human" which while cold does make some sense. I like dogs (not chihuahuas though, as they suck) but believe me if it came down to my pet dog and my child you can guess which I'd save, unless my kid was that evil kid from the Omen in which case sucks to be you kid. Obviously, the python is still hungry and eats the British guy, which we are supposed to think is justification for him being obnoxious and sacrificing the little dog. (Mind you, we just saw snakes kill about 30 people. But according to movie logic, the dog outranks people. I'll argue that the dog certainly outranks the producers of this film). Never mind that pythons after eating need about a week to digest and so after eating the dog the python should have been like "whoa, I'm good...and it was Mexican so I'll apologize in advance for what's to come, folks!" Frankly, a talking python would be the least stupid thing in this film. Just once I'd like to see a horror film that surprises us all by having the rotten obnoxious guy survive.

Other plot holes abound. Note to my readers--if we're ever on a snake infested plane together? I'll be the first to suggest that the pilots drop the cabin temperature to 30 degrees and everyone grab blankets. Snakes are cold blooded and can't function in cold temperatures. Yet, despite being on the radio with a "snake expert" on the ground, no one is advised of this rather simple remedy. Instead they pile luggage about three feet high to block off the snakes. Which would be a great idea if snakes couldnt' climb.

Anyway, they do survive, and Samuel L. Jackson does get some choice lines, including "time to get these motherf***ing snakes of this motherf***ing plane!!!" I'm just hoping for a sequel, Snakes on a Greyhound Bus.

Monday, March 8, 2010

DC Saturday Metering

This weekend, driving into D.C. I go to my usual spot on a street where there are usually plenty of open spots where you can keep your car the whole weekend. To my surprise, I notice a new sign on the meters that says that the meters (as well as the 2 hour time limit for parking) operate on Saturdays from 7 AM to 10 PM! This, despite the fact that the parking sign on the street itself says that the 2 hour parking limit applies to Monday through Friday only. And on further inspection, the meters have a second sign on them that says that the meters and time limit only go from 7 AM to 6:30 PM on Saturdays. So we have three inconsistent signs applying to the same parking spot.

Now, I know the rule is that where the street sign and the meter sign conflict, the latter is the one that controls. But what to make of two inconsistent signs on the same meter? More important, what mouth-breather was responsible for this asinine development??? This sort of bottom level incompetence is sadly what I've come to expect from the D.C. city government. How do they expect to get statehood when they can't seem to do even the simplest things right?

It's also depressing because the area I usually park in is off the beaten path, and (judging from the number of available spaces I could usually find) was not a problem for residents with too many out of towners taking up spots. Clearly the only reason the city is enforcing meters on Saturdays (and until very late at night, too--the M-F metering still goes only until 6:30, and no this is not in a nightclub area) is to get extra revenue. This is understandable, as the city is so poorly run that squeezing every dime out of us is the only way they can keep solvent--though if they keep it up it's going to discourage us from coming to town and spending our out of town wages on beer and stuff. What's dismaying to me is the two-hour limit--who wants to move their car every two hours? And since it's a low-trafficked area, it hardly seems necessary--why not let us feed the meter for the full day (with a credit card, perhaps)? Besides, when they announced they'd be enforcing Saturday parking, I was led to believe that would only be on certain listed streets and parts of the city (my usual spot being safe, according to that info).

Fortunately, a friend of mine had a spot available in his building's garage, so a day of metering and moving the car was avoided. But DC government has earned yet another spot in my book of gripes.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Unemployment Still High

The new unemployment numbers are out, and the "good" news is that the unemployment rate has stayed at 9.7% and the rate of job losses is slowing. The not so good news is that when you read the actual figures you realize that the 9.7 figure doesn't include those who have given up looking for work or had their hours cut. Also, the slowing of job losses could be explained by there simply being fewer jobs out there left to lose. Any way you cut it, it still sucks in the job market.

It's not a political thing--anyone who thinks Bush or Obama caused this recession doesn't really get that economic forces greater than any president are clearly at work here (and of course, the recession is world-wide). But it is depressing, and makes me wonder how much longer it can go on until we see some sustained improvements. Already this thing has gone on since the end of '07--we're in the third year of it. Already the longest (and by some measures the most severe) recession since the 1930s.

On a personal note, this downturn has hit close to home. Along with a bunch of my colleagues I was laid off from my last job in late 2008, and it seems about a dozen of my friends have lost jobs at some point during this recession. A handful of others kept their jobs, but took pay cuts. This really makes the "recessions" of 2001 and 1991-92 pale in comparison.

Eventually these things have to end--though I don't think government action can do it, rather government action can only alleviate the pain by extending unemployment benefits or trying to hire some extra people. What eventually does happen is businesses run out of inventory, investors start to see bargains, consumers start to buy more as their needs can't be ignored for too long. The cycle has to turn before long.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Canadian Girlfriend

Remember during puberty when some kids started dating and the kids who weren't dating pretended that they "totally scored" some "really hot chick" that they met "in summer camp" and "lives in Canada"? (Sort of like that fully restored 1968 Mustang I own but you can't see it because it's in the shop right now).

And of course, it gets sadder when you reach adulthood and the same thing happens. I knew a guy in law school who basically never dated, then came back after summer and said "oh I was dating this girl, she was real hot, but we broke up just before school started" and the rest of us were like "wow, what lousy timing, we would have liked to meet her." And it was pretty clear that this guy was making her up (I'm positive that he gave her different first names two different times he was talking about her). And it got pathetic when he proceeded to get bitter and mad about this girl cheating on him, since it was clear he'd been making her up but at the same time he was getting REALLY mad. It was half scary, half hilarious. Scalarious, even.

I'm sure if I visited that guy now he'd say he's married, and I'd be like "I'd love to meet this fine lass!" and he'd say "oh, she's out of town this weekend. Darn!" And I'd say "okay, maybe another time I'll come visit" and he'd say "she'll be out of town then too."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rules for Actors

Watching "Lost" last night I got to thinking about the actor who plays Sayid--Naveen Andrews. As we know, Sayid is supposed to be Iraqi, though Andrews is a British actor of Indian (curry, not casinos) background. This sort of thing--actors playing characters of different races or ethnicities--isn't uncommon. Robert De Niro, an Irish-Italian-American, played Jewish characters, such as Ace Rothstein in "Casino". Laurence Olivier, a British actor, played the Mahdi of Sudan in "Khartoum". John Wayne, who certainly isn't Mongolian, played Genghis Khan in "The Conqueror". Yet, only the last example--Wayne's--resulted in a controversial box office mess. And a stink was made when Saturday Night Live decided to use Fred Arminsen to play Barack Obama--Arminsen is a mix of white and Hispanic and Asian background, and the only other regular black castmember on SNL is Keenan Thompson, who is far too heavyset to play a convincing Obama. (I'd argue it's far more racist to force Thompson to play Obama, since it implies that all blacks could play each other, when clearly Arminsen can pull off the impression by simply adding fake hair. In any case, the SNL controversy seems to have died down, basically because the impression Arminsen does is fairly accurate and doesn't involve any racial stereotyping as say, an impression of Tracy Morgan would).

There seems to be an easy guide for which actors can portray characters of other races:

1) Italians and Jews can play Italians and Jews, or Hispanics
2) Hispanics can only play Hispanics, though sometimes Asians
3) Asians are screwed. They can only play Asians.
4) Blacks can play blacks, and can also play whites but there's no reason they'd want to.
5) Whites can play blacks, but only if they're portraying Obama. Or can do a really good Bill Cosby.
6) Anyone from Egypt to Bangladesh can play each other.
7) Sean Connery can only play people with Scottish accents. Even his Irish characters have to have Scottish accents.
8) Robert Redford can never play an Italian. I mean seriously!
9) Eskimos can get a free pass to play anyone.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Goddam Zombie Bastards

Watching yet another terrible movie where fast-moving zombies are attacking the townsfolk, it occurred to me how important it is for us to have fully stocked gun shops with plenty of great ammunition, and how much more important it is that the gun shops be poorly locked so we can break in with a small stone and grab stuff easily. Might I even suggest keeping plenty of ammo bags laying around for our convenience?

Last time I was in a gun store (I was there to ask for directions to the nearest Greenpeace chapter) I was very disappointed to see that the supply of assault weapons was rather scarce. And worse, the store had everything well secured and locked up. I'm certain that if I asked the guy behind the counter how he expected me to break in at night and arm myself properly during a zombie attack he would have had to look at his feet in shame.

I just hope the gas stations keep plenty of empty bottles and rags laying around, and their pumps unlocked.

Monday, March 1, 2010

TV Sucks

There is something to be said for how much television sucks at this time of the year. No, don't try to defend it, you'll only make a fool of yourself and your blood line. (Yes, I will in my old age go around mocking your descendants for your folly. Fear me.) Let's see what we have:

1) No football or baseball. That period between the Super Bowl and opening day of baseball leaves only two sports on television--basketball and hockey. Basketball is endlessly annoying because the final minutes are nothing but fouls that end up taking longer than the first half of the game. Weak! Make the penalty for fouls be a punch in the junk, in which case you'll see far fewer fouls. I still don't know why the NBA refused to make me commissioner. And hockey, while I enjoy watching it live, it doesn't translate well on TV and the ice just reminds me of the lousy weather.

2) Winter Olympics. This event sucks. It has made up sports like curling and bobsledding (yes we all know how to sit on a sled, that doesn't make it a sport), as well as "sports" like figure skating and ice dancing that are judged subjectively (leading to all sorts of corruption). Figure skating is also sort of like NASCAR, in that it only gets interesting when there's an accident. Two weeks of boringness!

3) Awards shows. These are absolutely retarded wastes of time. Six hour telecasts to find out who got Best Art Direction? Ooh, the suspense is killing me, I really want to know what a bunch of biased movie industry lowlifes think about which film or person did the best job promoting themselves. Kill it with fire!

4) Okay, I'll grant that most of our favorite shows are showing new episodes during this period, but this is also when a lot of mid-season replacements come out. And what can be worse than the crap that often premieres in the Fall Season? Usually it's this mid-season garbage that was turned down six months earlier and is being given a second chance.

The shame of it is that this is also the time of year that people are most likely to be inside, watching TV in the first place. You have failed in your mission, TV folks!