Friday, September 30, 2011

I've Said it Before, Democracy Just Doesn't Work

I can't blame the media for covering Sarah Palin, because it's understandable to follow this train wreck around since she's just so darn entertaining for most Americans. Jon Huntsman may be a serious candidate for president, but he just can't provide the bombastic lunatic idiocy that Queen Sarah can dish out regularly. Sorry, Jon, you'll have to mispronounce a lot more words if you're going to start getting Palin-level coverage.

The latest imbroglio is over a new book out about Palin called "The Rogue" by Joe McGinniss, which makes a number of claims that paint this woman as cartoonishly evil. Such as sending her oldest son off to war just so it'll make the fambly look good, or firing all the non-white government workers in Wasilla (yes, both of them!), and snorting coke off an oil drum (okay, that part is actually pretty cool). She denies all this, of course, but it doesn't make a difference. Palin-haters will believe it all, Palin-lovers will consider it all made up, and anyone in between either will think there's some truth there but mostly won't give a crap since she'll never be elected dogcatcher. Which leads me to think--does anyone actually elect dogcatchers anymore? Why do I never see "dogcatcher" on the ballot? Maybe it is on the ballot, but they go by a fancy title now, like "District Judge" or something.

But try to imagine a scenario where your town dogcatcher was actually Sarah Palin. First, she'd quit halfway after chasing her first dog. Then, she'd use Twitter and Facebook to go around talking smack about other dogcatchers, and blame Muslims for all the extra dogs running around. The local papers would run wild with "will she or won't she" speculation about her entering the next race for school board, and meantime the dog problem runs rampant.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Get Rid of Leap Year!

One thing everyone seems to be arguing about lately is our 365 and 1/4 day calendar. It seems we have perfectly aligned our time measures to the trip our planet takes around the sun, except we haven't been very exact about it. Of course, what other options do we have? The Jewish calendar is all based on fasting so no one wants to adopt that--hell, even most Jewish people I know prefer the western calendar and will tell you it's 2011 rather than 5772. And don't get me started on the Chinese calendar, with their tigers and monkeys and rats oh my. So it's really just a matter of figuring out how to improve our own.

See, that extra 1/4 day each year means having to invent a whole new day--February 29--every four years. The way to remember which year gets the extra day is that it lands on Summer Olympics and U.S. presidential elections, but if you hate sports and aren't an American you're out of luck. But who wants that extra day in February, anyway? It'll be cold and mucky and make spring just a day further!

I propose instead we take that extra 24 hours and break it up to 6 hours for each of the four years it applies to. Then, break the 6 hours down into 30 minutes each month of each year, and for each of these months we can 7 minutes and thirty seconds to each of that month's four Mondays, to be used as extra snooze time when waking up because Mondays are such hard days to wake up to after a long weekend. Everyone will be happier with the extra minutes of sleep each Monday, and then we'll have more brotherhood, fewer wars, and maybe better rested scientists who can cure global hunger.

And don't start giving me crap about how some months don't have four Mondays. We're solving global hunger here, people.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tales of the Loaner Car

So while the car is being serviced I'm using a loaner for a couple days, and it is quickly apparent that the loaner is a much newer model than my own car. It has some improvements--such as keyless ignition for those of us who can't get enough of push buttons--and some drawbacks, such as lack of a door-rest for my left elbow that I had taken for granted over the years. But this morning's drive taught me of a new space-age feature that still has me scratching my head.

Picture it, I-66 west, 7 AM, and a dark heavy cloud is ahead in the feeble dawn light. Figuring "hey maybe I'll make it to work before the rain starts" I soon see I have no such luck, and the monsoon comes down hard like Lindsay Lohan's career. Though at first, it hits in small dribbles, and I flick on the first level intermittent wipers. That's when it went all Space Oddity on me.

As the rain increased, the wiper speed adjusted accordingly.

I am marvelling at this development, seeing as I never changed the wiper speed from intermittent, but it was as though the wipers just knew the rain was increasing. Were there sensors on the windshield? Was there a radio control attached to weather reports? Was this loaner car about to become sentient, and eventually grow to loathe me for my human frailties?

Let's just hope I can return it--or him, or her--to the dealership before it takes out its sweet automotive revenge.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Arbitrarily Become a Fan

Football watching for me is more an excuse to eat chilli and drink beer with friends while a game happens to be on than it is an actual interest in the game itself. That said, it always brings me joy to read about a defeat for the Washington Redskins. The only NFL team with a blatantly racist name, a team that has been priced out of the range of any middle class fan that is not an idiot willing to forgo health insurance in order to be able to afford to attend games, a team that has been inconveniently moved to Landover, making them now harder to reach for Washingtonians than Baltimore's stadium, a team owned by a completely irredeemable piece of garbage--yep, you can count on some satisfaction when I see them lose.

But football--even for a chilli-beer-buddies fan--should be about more than just rooting against one team. After all, despite the abysmal stewardship of Dan Snyder, who is to professional football what Casey Anthony was to motherhood, it is possible that the stars will align and the sun will go black like sackcloth and the Redskins may reach the Super Bowl one day. And when that day comes, I'll need a team to root for in order to beat them and make Snyder cry like the blubbering mess that he really is. What team to root for? I have some criteria:

1) The team can't play on an artificial field (or worse, a dome). If God meant for us to play football inside, he would have called it Houseball.

2) The team needs cheerleaders. There's something about underpaid grown women being ogled that brings some tradition to the game.

3) The team needs a cool helmet design. The Browns helmet is too cutesy, what with no logo. The Bengals aren't fooling anybody, we know you're not a tiger! The Vikings helmet is a giant fail, since the "horns" aren't literally protruding from the helmet in a way that allows for impaling the foe.

4) The owner's douchebaggery should not be nationally known.

That leaves some strong contenders! I have it down to Broncos, Ravens, Cardinals, and Buccaneers. Stay tuned! One of those four will be really good this year.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ah, the Taxes

Everybody seems to have an opinion on taxes these days, and since no one seems to know what the hell they're talking about then I suppose I'm equally qualified to offer my thoughts on this. As we stand now, taxes will figure prominently in the 2012 election. My advice is to not listen to any campaign blather on the subject and instead hit your head into a rock because it'll at least be less painful and more likely to teach you something about taxes. A few thoughts:

1) All this crap about the rich paying their "fair share"--first, no one can really define "fair share". It is a fact that the rich pay the vast majority of the income taxes--that is not in dispute. (If you disagree, please spend more time introducing your head to the rock, because the rock might be smarter than you on this subject) It is also a fact that this is because the rich have the vast majority of the income--to tax everyone "equally"--that is, each taxpayer paying an equal dollar amount--would mean sending most people to debtor's prison or the federal government taking in about as much as the country of Equitorial Guinea. (This latter might please some Ayn Rand types) But determining how much more a rich person should pay than a poor person is not a simple matter of "fair"--everyone will have a different definition. For the left, "fair" is "a hell of a lot more than they're paying now". For the right, "fair" is "shut up and get a job". But cut the crap about "fairness" because taxes aren't about fair--they're about revenue.

2) That said, it is often pointed out that rich people often pay very low tax rates on their income by taking it in capital gains or tax exempt bonds or carried-over losses. (John Kerry's wife, Zsa Zsa Kerry, paid something like 14% on her multimillion dollar income for 2004) Tax simplification is a good idea, but keep in mind that each of those "loopholes" was put there for a reason. The government wants to encourage capital investing, so cap gains are taxed at a lower level. Unfair? Then maybe try telling your government to stop trying to social engineer through the tax code. Maybe when these clowns can stop themselves from Twittering photos of their penises to young women they can get around to fixing the tax code, but for now that's the way it is.

3) Warren Buffet can wax empathetic about how wrong it is that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. However, I will bet a Coke that the day his accountants fail to take advantage of some tax benefit that helps to lower his overall burden, he fires their asses faster than you can say "Berkshire Hathaway Hypocrite". This is illustrative--the rich will take advantage of the complicated tax code to lower their burdens--at high enough income levels, it is worth it to do this and pay good money for it, because the tax savings become significant. Don't like it? Then push to replace the Code with something far more simple.

4) At some point, taxes are going up. Sure, we can put this off a few more years. Just like Greece and Italy did.

5) If we don't want our economy to collapse, though, it'll mean everyone paying at least a bit more, soon. Yes, even the "poor"--if it means cutting out a pack of menthols a month, or cancelling your cable service, tough turkey. All I hear is "shared sacrifice"--well, everyone has to take a hit. The rich will obviously get the biggest hit--since that's where the most income is--but no one's getting spared. And any complaints can be directed towards the past several decades of spending on all these programs and wars and such that we as a society insisted on. And these things may be great--Iraq wasn't going to invade itself, you know!--but they all have a price. Maybe if we all started to feel it a bit more we'd think a bit more about whether it's worth having all this stuff. If so, great. If not, change.

6) Anyone who is just fine with putting the burden on some "other"--whether only wanting tax hikes for those richer than themselves, or only wanting spending cuts on those programs they themselves don't use--has removed themselves from intelligent discussion on this. They're really no different from the guy in the traffic jam who thinks a great solution to the traffic problem is for everyone else to stay home. And sadly, this seems to encompass everyone in Congress.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wendy's Doing Stuff

Many great things happened in 1969. Richard Nixon took office as President, showing the world that the shy, awkward kid could grow up to be a disaster in the White House. The Woodstock festival showed the world that poor acoustics and a complete lack of sanitary facilities were no reason to prevent tens of thousands of derelicts from spending a few days in a field. And the Wendy's hamburger chain showed the world that fast food could be good eatin'.

I'll admit to being a strong Five Guys partisan, but Wendy's really has nothing to apologize for. (Except their "milk shakes" which are basically just hard iced cream in a cup. Liquify that bad boy!) So it was with confusion that I read today about Wendy's revamping their signature burgers in response to the competition from higher end burger joints.

The hierarchy has always been as such:

1) Burgers: Wendys > Burger King > McDonalds
2) Fries: McDonalds > Burger King > Wendys
3) Chicken Sandwich: Chick Fila = McDonalds Premium Deluxe
4) Milkshake: McDonalds = Throatburn!

Now, that was some complicated math, but Good Will Hunting could probably explain to you (when he wasn't busy liking apples and getting numbahs) that each of the major chains has their competitive advantages over the others. If you value fries more than the difference between the value of burgers, you'll go to McDs. If burgers are your thing, and you don't mind fries that are lackluster, you go to Five Guys. And Wendys gets great points all around, for their fries are decent and the burgers superb. If they want to beat someone out, the goal should be to McDonaldize their fries (or maybe add some neat dipping sauces, or melt actual cheese on the fries, or add gravy?). Their burgers are not their weak point by any stretch.

But, I certainly won't complain when any eatery tries to reinvent and improve--this is of course how great things have happened (e.g., the Big Mac). So I welcome our new burger overlords.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The HPV Madness

I have my problems with Rick Perry, current candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, but all this nonsense about the HPV vaccinations is a bunch of crap. It has been a line of attack from Michele "Don't Look Directly Into My Eyes" Bachmann who apparently is going all Jenny McCarthy now with her screed against vaccinations in general.

Apparently, his initiative in Texas to have girls as young as 12 vaccinated (or is it innoculated? I'm no doctor, but then neither is Michele Bachmann or her "Heal the Gay Out of You" husband) for the HPV virus, allowing parents who are just fine with their precious snowflakes catching the disease to opt out. HPV is very common--about half of all people who have had sex are carriers, and among women it can lead to cervical cancer and among both genders it can lead to oral cancers. So of course the religious nuts and assorted kooks oppose such measures.

Let's assume for a minute that children brought up in super-religious homes will adhere to abstinence education and proper family values, just like Bristol Palin did until she met a handsome pile of white trash who could grow his own mullet, but let's not dwell on the mentally limited Palins. So some day your precious snowflake daughter who of course would never have sexual contact with a boy grows to the ripe age of 18 and decides to marry a nice young man from a good fambly who doesn't play hockey but instead something wholesome like lacrosse, and then whoops, turns out this nice young man had a bit of a lapse on a weekend away from Oral Roberts University! And while doing a line of coke off the back of a naked hooker, he managed to also have sex with a coed who does not share his relgious values! And now, he got HPV, and when he does his married duties (only to conceive children, of course), he gives HPV to your daughter.

But hey, this could never happen, because we live in a world where abstinence education works, we can reasonably deport all illegal aliens, and we can pray away a heavy rainstorm. But let's not add rationality into a GOP primary debate!

Here's where it crosses the line from "stupid people suffering from their own stupid choices" to "stupid people making things worse for everyone else". Even with some opt-outs, vaccinations reaching a large enough percentage of the population would be enough to wipe out the disease, because it can only survive if it can be passed from host to host--and with enough people vaccinated it can be contained permanently. The Texas initiative made sense, and could have helped kill off a widespread virus that carries effects ranging from the uncomfortable (warts, etc.) to the lethal (cancers). And the deluded Bachmann's of the world can't live with that, since it would somehow encourage 12 year old girls to slut it up.

After all, nothing encourages a kid to want to go have sex like getting jabbed with a needle.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Relationship Warning Signs

I for one am constantly wondering whether I am about to have my relationship involuntarily terminated, and rather than have a direct talk with my significant other (or ask why that heavily cologned Raul keeps walking around our apartment naked when I get home from work) I choose to read useful articles like this one which indicate signs that your woman is about to leave you. Let's examine each of the warning signs:

1) She no longer confides in you, and she isn't interested in talking with you. Wait a minute! Confiding is what their female friends are for, it is a well known fact that women don't tell men their problems because all of our solutions involve a wrench or duct tape. And that is whether we're talking about cars, plumbing, or troublesome co-workers.

2) She does her best to avoid you by staying out late, making plans without you and spending more time with friends. So according to this clue, a woman is only happy in her relationship if she has no life outside of it? Who needs clingyness???

3) She doesn't complain about things she always complained about before. This may be because she thinks that she's going to leave you soon anyway. Or, this could mean she has matured enough to realize that she can't mold and change a man to her own desires and she has accepted you for the man you are.

4) She doesn't seem glad to see you when you get home; she no longer misses you. It could be because the stench of whiskey and sour defeat is nothing to be happy about when it comes in the front door.

5) She has no interest in sex. Eek!

6) She has a "whatever" attitude. She doesn't want to discuss any plans for the future or even for next week. This could just be a sign that you're with one of those "live for the now" types and maybe she knows that guys don't like to plan for the future either. Why is everything a bad sign?

7) She doesn't like to hold hands with you or be touched, kissed or hugged by you. When she kisses you, she acts like she's kissing a relative. When you go to kiss her, she turns her head so that you kiss her cheek. I've never seen a woman I was dating actually kiss a relative, so I have no basis of comparison here. They also learn quickly that holding hands is only good for clotheslining tourists on the sidewalk.

8) Her friends and family act a bit different and uncomfortable around you because she has told them that she intends to leave you. More likely they're acting different and uncomfortable because of the drunken racist rant you went on the previous Sunday dinner. But it was their fault for bringing up touchy subjects like weather and traffic.

So, this list is less than helpful! Any suggestions for better signs of danger in a relationship?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wedding Weekend

It may have meant 16 hours of total driving and very little sleep, but my sister's wedding was well worth the trip. Of course, Mother Nature did her best to ruin this plan, what with severe flooding in D.C. on Thursday evening with road closures all around. And Dollar Rent-a-Car? More like "we take but don't honor reservations" Rent-a-Car! We were going to rent a car small enough for my wife to drive part of the trip, but of course we get there only to find that the Ford Focus we'd reserved was not there, but they'd be happy to rent us a minivan. Why even take a reservation if you have absolutely no intention of honoring it?

So, we instead drive up in my car, meaning my day that began at 6 AM would involve adding a 5-hour car trip to Westchester, NY in the driving rain starting at 8:30 at night. Hooray for everything working out! Fortunately, our luck picked up north of Baltimore when the rain stopped, and there was basically no traffic the whole way up. We get in quietly, sleep a bit, then have bagels in the morning with the fambly and my mom's friend Roz from their Peace Corps days. Then, it's off to the Catskills for a 2.5 hour trip through winding mountains.

We arrive at the Roxbury Motel, which has a special theme for each room, ours being the "Versailles Room." Busts and gold leaf? You betcha! We took a moment to enjoy the in-your-face gaudiness before heading up to the farm that was rented out for the BBQ/rehearsal.

After rehearsing (which, like all rehearsals, is chaotic and getting all the bugs out of the system), eating, and speeches, we retire to our motel for Scotch before getting the first good night of sleep in days. A bit of hiking and seeing the fambly the next day, then dressing and photos. At this point, the guests were all arrived, and we take our places on a scenic hill overlooking the mountains and pastures. Is there a billy goat leashed to a tree behind the altar? You bet there is! Then, my dad leads my sister up the hill on a horse (!) where she dismounts to head down the aisle. The ceremony is brief (not quite as brief as my own, which clocked in at about three minutes thanks to our Count Chocula-looking officiant!), then we're on to a cocktail hour with fine snacks, top shelf booze, and soul music under a pavillion. This lasts about an hour before we walk further down the hill to the tent for the reception, plenty of boozing (top shelf, did I mention?), dancing and fine eating. It was an excellent party and very much reflective of my sister's personality.

The next morning, we're up at the crack of 8:45 to begin our long drive back--hoping of course that the route through Pennsylvania to DC would not be blocked by floods or 9/11 related stuff--and hoping to have plenty of time to get my brother to the airport in DC for his evening flight. The trek is long, but our luck is in--only a portion of I-88 is closed, and the gas station people were very helpful with directions to I-81 where we needed to go. We stop later at a Wendy's near Wilkes-Barre, and not five minutes after we get our food a bus-load of at least 100 old folks pours in and gets in line to order. (Had we been just a bit later, our lunch would have involved me going into angry rage!) Finally, we do make it back to DC with plenty of time for my brother's flight, and to sit back and collapse from exhaustion.

All in all, a great weekend, and happy to see my sister and her husband off to start their marriage together.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Wedding to Lil' Guy

Tonight begins the trek of a long drive to NY for my little sister's wedding in the countryside. My sister--the "Lil' Guy" as she was always called--is marrying a guy who we fambly members have grown fond of over the years, and is a welcome addition to the fambly. This is a big milestone, considering I remember when the Lil' Guy was just a toddler bumping into things and making all sorts of noise around the household (and between me and my brother, there was plenty of racket and destruction to begin with before the lil' hurricane came through). My fambly even still calls me by a nickname bestowed on me as a result of her inability to pronounce words and she still scowls at being treated as the baby of the group, despite having just finished her PhD in Psychology and getting ready to get married in just a couple days.

But now, with her big day approaching, I can reflect back on those years of growing up with the Lil' Guy, spending quality time and bickering as well, and now thinking how I couldn't be happier to see her reach this milestone.

Here's to a lifetime of happy marriage!

A Few Questions Re: The GOP Primary Fight

The race for the GOP presidential nomination is in full swing, and though I think they're ultimately going to go with Mitt Romney there is always a chance for an upset. Still, I'm left with a few reactions:

1) At some point the media needs to stage an intervention for Rick Santorum, Herm Cain and Newt Gingrich, and tell these guys that Barry Goldwater's corpse has a better chance of becoming re-animated, then travelling back in time to 1964 and winning the presidency from LBJ, than any of them have of winning the GOP nomination in 2012. Of course, they know this, and they are just raising their visibility in order to sell books and maybe get a TV deal later. But shouldn't the fact that they're still soliciting campaign contributions from innocent dupes count as some sort of fraud?

2) The fact that there were loud cheers at last night's debate when it was mentioned that Texas executed over 200 people is an ominous sign for this country. (Disclosure--I oppose the death penalty but can at least understand those that favor it) Even if you favor the death penalty as an option for the more egregious crimes proven beyond any reasonable doubt and with due process, the execution itself should be seen as a somber necessity and not something to cheer the same way you'd cheer our country winning an Olympic medal. This is very, very sick.

3) What is with this outcry over Rick Perry favoring mandatory HPV vaccinations for 12 year old girls in Texas? What sort of Jenny McCarthy crap is this? I realize HPV isn't the death sentence that HIV can be, but stopping the spread of the virus is obviously a good thing. (And screw this privacy rights crap, this is Texas we're talking about. It's not like we're talking about registering handguns)

4) Ronald Reagan is probably the most underrated (by Democrats) and overrated (by Republicans) person to ever sit in the Oval Office. But the fetishization of this man by the GOP would probably disturb him if he were alive today. "Reagan Economic Zones"? That should be a nonstarter just for corniness reasons alone.

5) Debates would be a lot better if there were no rules or moderator at all. Just let them all have microphones, and start a ten-way shouting match! I would actually love to see that, rather than scripted questions and well tested answers. It's not as though any of those clowns are going to implement half the crap they say they will when they take office.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lessons from Columbo

Lately I've been enjoying the original episodes of "Columbo", the series about a rumpled detective who pretended to be pretty dim but would always catch the murderer in the end. The show--an essential piece of early '70s American culture--always began by showing the murder taking place, so the viewer never doubted who committed it. The only question was how Columbo would catch him or her, and it usually took some rambling discussion about the detective's unseen wife and how odd it was that say a left handed man would have his wristwatch on his right hand, or a burned out lightbulb would be cleaned by household staff rather than replaced. The show avoided certain annoyances that many police shows would have (such as the detective's bosses doubting him--Columbo was highly regarded by the force) and was largely carried by Peter Falk's charm and some great has-been guest stars.

You can also learn a great deal about murder in early '70s Los Angeles from watching the show.

1) Murderers are always wealthy, educated people. If you're walking down a dark alley and a middle aged man in a 3-piece suit is following you, run! He's likely got several kills under his belt. Columbo never seems to get "junkie stabbed by hooker" cases, or "he done goofed and stole my lawn chair so I stabbed him!" cases.

2) Although the murderers are well-to-do and presumably highly educated, they have no problem letting a police lieutenant into their home and engage them in several long conversations about the case, even though the Miranda ruling came out a few years earlier. Apparently rich people didn't have lawyers back then.

3) If you know anyone who looks exactly like Robert Culp, run! He seems to change identity and go on a new killing spree every few weeks. (He also starred with the lovely Natalie Wood in "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice", and that actress died under mysterious circumstances about a decade later. Culp must have done it!)

4) It may never rain in Southern California, but a police lieutenant is still required to wear a raincoat at all times.

5) The actors Dean Stockwell and Sam Rockwell are quite clearly the same person. It's eerie!

6) When you're rich, you will always commit murders by yourself and never hire a professional killer or a cheap junkie to do the job. Unfortunately, this means coming up with an alibi that sounds great on the surface but will unravel under a detective's seemingly harmless questioning.

7) If you drink Scotch or any other hard liquor from a fancy glass at your well stocked bar at home, you're quite obviously a killer, or about to be killed. Develop a new habit!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


After visiting a genuine, bona fide crab eatery the weather on Sunday basically begged us to visit the roof of my friend's high rise (which in DC means more than 10 storeys) for some afternoon drinking. While I picked up a half-case of fine old timey Pennsylvania suds, the wife couldn't pass up a chance to make her own signature "berry flavored mojitos" with the help of some pilfered fresh mint--pilfered directly from the plant!--and needing some top notch rum. The rum we used was "Ronrico". It comes in a big plastic jug and features recipes on the label to discourage the direct and solitary use of Ronrico.

Let's just say that a formula of Hot Sun + Ronrico = EEK! This has given rise to the new use of the word "Ronrico" to describe poorly thought out ideas. Here are some examples:

1) Trying to use a coupon at that bordello was very Ronrico of you.

2) The Bay of Pigs was a perfect example of the CIA's Ronrico early years.

3) Are you trying to make a chocolate burrito? What are you, Ronrico?

Friday, September 2, 2011

DC Area Drivers Are A New Circle of Hell

It's a well known fact that driving in D.C. ranks somewhere on the pleasantness scale between having scorpion babies planted in your lower intestines and being used as a hockey puck. But the question is, why is it so bad? A number of theories abound:

1) Large numbers of drivers who are relatively new to the area. This includes transplants, tourons, students, and worst of all, diplomats who can't be charged with vehicular homicide because we don't want their home government in East Crapistan to punish our diplomats in that country for some trumped up charge. That means there's a good chance of someone driving too slow to look for exits, needing to do an abrupt lane change, or suffering under the delusion that all the cars on the road are fire-breathing dragons that must be destroyed.

2) Too much signage, little of which is helpful. If you put enough signs up all over the roads, the important messages get drowned out by ones that say "Newseum, 2 miles ahead" and "You are driving on a road". Plus, some of the rules are complex enough to require driving super-slow to read fully, such as "No left turn, except M-F 7AM-10:30 AM, Oct. thru Apr and Holidays" or "HOV 3, East Bound to Beltway, 3:30-8:30 Weekdays". This was done by the same sort of people who think that all those disclosures on credit card applications actually help anyone understand their deal.

3) Road systems designed by deranged hill people who are still trying to prevent enemy armies from crossing their territory. How else can you explain that in Arlington there's a North 22nd Street that cuts off and picks up again at several points across the county? Or the almost complete absence of straight roads? Or the fact that Rte 50 takes on about six different names between Fairfax and North Arlington (many of which honor leaders in a rebellion against the country)? It also doesn't help that for many roads (particularly I-395) the abundance of exits, turnoffs, and road splits can force even a long-time resident to become confused, frustrated, and ultimately flung off in the wrong direction.

I'll go with any combination of the three. Of course, this could be addressed with a more extensive public transportation system--people cause a lot less damage to life and limb when they're lost in our Metro system compared to when they're cruising around in their SUVs--but I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Great Movie Twist Ideas

1) Ex Special Forces tough guy down on his luck rooms with poor family where he befriends the youngest son who is being bullied at school. The tough guy teaches the boy how to defend himself, with hilarious results as the kid gets pummelled harder. The tough guy then beats up the bully himself because this is what the audience always wanted to see. Oh, and he has sex with the young boy's mother.

2) A ragtag platoon gets stranded behind enemy lines after a battle, and they soon realize they all come from very different backgrounds and have clashing personalities. They fight with each other the whole time, even resulting in physical blows. Finally they give themselves up to the enemy in the hopes that they'll be sent to different POW camps. Hilariously, the enemy decides to force them to live together at the camp, and do projects together as a group. In the end they realize that this sucks, and when they finally get released in a POW exchange, they promise to never deal with each other again.

3) A smooth-talking lothario with the ladies sets his sights on an ambitious career woman who has no time for love. Soon, he realizes she's too difficult and probably not worth it, so he dates her assistant who is a lot more easy going. The career woman then gets jealous, fires the assistant, and the rest of the film is a courtroom drama between the assistant's lawyers and the company lawyers over the employment discrimination claims.

4) A serial killer stalks a group of busty coeds at a remote cabin in the woods. However, he's a serial killer, not a skilled outdoorsman, and quickly succumbs to frostbite and a bad case of poison oak, and one of the coeds finds him half dead near the cabin and takes him in. Turns out, she's a nurse, and one of the other coeds is a psychiatrist, and they both cure his frostbite and get him on the right medication. With the support of his new friends, the serial killer goes back to college to finish his degree and win a Rhodes Scholarship, in an ending that will be both heartwarming and life affirming.

5) A down on his luck gambler ends up owing $20K to a dangerous mobster, so he shoots the mobster and leaves town. The rest of the mob decides they have better things to do than worry over $20K, and they never liked the dead mobster anyway and were glad to not have to give him a cut of their profits on gambling, so they drop the issue. The gambler checks into rehab to fix his gambling problem, and meets a great looking therapist who has an insensitive husband. While he has an opportunity to carry on an affair with her, he opts not to, since he already dodged a close bullet with the mob and doesn't want to push his luck. He stays satisfied with his platonic friendship, knowing he's likely to meet a great woman who happens to be unattached someday.