Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dogs, What Can't They Do?

Last night's film was the 1976 masterpiece "Dogs", starring a bunch of unknowns and it advanced the premise "what you can't see can still kill you." Namely, because the cinematography was such that the scenes were often too dark so see anything happening! The sounds of growling and barking and screaming made it seem as though someone was being attached by dogs, or maybe the dogs were chasing squirrels and the screams were coming from people watching an actually scary film, like "Roller Boogie".

But it did get me thinking--what would we do in a situation where all the dogs in town banded together to attack humans?

Well, it sort of begins and ends with keeping your door closed. Note, I didn't even have to say "locked" because dogs don't have the opposable thumbs necessary to turn a door handle, so they'd be pretty much out of luck the minute you closed the door. That'd be about it--wait a few days and the dogs will get thirsty and lose interest, and maybe urinate on a fire hydrant or hump the leg of some poor sucker who didn't have a door. That's not even counting the contingency plan of air dropping thousands of milk bones onto the National Mall and then sealing off the perimeter with a three foot fence that'd essentially neutralize the dog problem.

Santorum and Romney Matchup

Last night's close shave in Michigan--with Mitt Romney beating Rick "Let Me Clean the Erasers" Santorum by only a few points--just underscored the central problem for the Mittster. Despite looking presidential, having a strong background, and having no real personal baggage, he just plain suffers from not being very good at being a politician. He just doesn't have that "win over the crowds" thing going on.

That's the only way you can explain a guy like Rick Santorum being a serious contender in the race at this point. Santroum, who laughably called the president a "snob" for proposing a program to get more kids to go to college. (Amazingly, he didn't use the phrase "fancy book learnin'" when he said that) Santorum, who "felt like throwing up" when he heard JFK's 1960 speech arguing against a religious test for the presidency, which was widely hailed as a sentiment that fired a shot against anti-Catholic bigotry in this country (and mind you I rarely have nice things to say about Kennedys). Santorum, who isn't content just privately disapproving of homosexuality, but feels the need to use the power of the state to deny any rights or recognition to gay relationships.

As an aside, Santorum seems to revel in this idea that Catholics and other religious people in this country are under attack by rabid secularists. (Though, he doesn't seem to be too concerned about Muslims being scapegoated or targeted. Apparently he's used up his concern on Christians.) This is particularly stupid, and not just because there's no basis for this fear. It also betrays a complete misreading of the First Amendment, which doesn't just prevent the government from establishing religion but also serves to protect relgious and atheistic beliefs from being interefered with by government power. This if anything allows religious minority beliefs (like Catholicism, which was actually persecuted in the past in places such as England) to flourish without reprisals against their adherents. Anyone seeing secular government as an "attack" against religion forgets that religion is far more protected by secular government than it would be by a sectarian government.

Romney's still going to take the nomination--I stick with my earlier prediction on that--but his failure to handily dispatch a preachy loon like Rick Santorum does not bode well for him in the long race. This likely won't matter--if the economy continues in the direction it's going, Obama's taking this thing in a cakewalk come November.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pet Eveeps

They really need a term for the opposite of a pet peeve. Meaning, something we sort of like a little bit, not for reasons we can put a finger on, and not with some ardent passion (such as a love of pizza, which is both entirely rational and explainable and goes deep into the heart). I propose we just reverse the word "peeve", since it's much easier than looking up "peeve" on some online thesaurus. Below are a list of my pet eveeps.

1) When people use the term "full stop" after making a statement, just to add emphasis to what they said and to qualify it in no way. Such as, "all I want on my burger is cheese and bacon, full stop!"

2) Brick walls in restaurants. Put up a brick wall, and you've just added some much needed class to the place!

3) Bay windows. It's like you're able to jut out into the street!

4) Open air markets. Probably sucks to work in one when the weather's not nice though.

5) Seeing a plane coming in or taking off as I'm crossing the 14th Street Bridge. Makes me wonder if the people on that plane are going on vacation, business, or hiding from the authorities. Probably a hundred stories in one of those planes.

6) When you're in the plane, taking off or about to land, and can see the housing developments and strip malls and traffic below.

7) The smell coming from a coffee shop, even if the taste of the coffee isn't all that special.

8) Having some morning light outside when you begin your commute, so you don't need your headlamps on.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Crush Hour

Last week, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time--namely, Metro Center, which is the busy interchange between the heavily travelled Red Line and the horribly packed Orange/Blue lines, at 5 PM. I was waiting at the lower platform with crowds of other weary commuters for a Blue Line train, and like any proper tea-sipping gentleman I stood at the side of the door to wait for passengers to detrain before flooding onto the train. Being a particularly crowded train, it took a while for the deluge of commuters to get off the train. In fact, the warning bell--indicating the doors were about to close--went off a couple times while passengers were still getting off. Now, two things could happen next:

1) The train's driver, being a humane, intelligent and competent human being, would notice that the train hasn't unloaded all of its passengers yet, and would wait an additional thirty seconds to let them all off and perhaps even allow some platform-waiting commuters to get on the train. This way, the on-train passengers wouldn't have to miss their stop and double back at the next stop, and the emptier train cars could pick up some of the amassing passengers from the platform, enabling the usual rush-hour overtaxing of the system to be abated somewhat.


2) The train's driver could slam the doors shut before all the passengers could get off the train, forcing a certain tea-sipping gentleman to instinctively jam his arm into the closing doors in a vain attempt to keep the doors open and giving him a rather difficult time freeing his appendage from a train that was now in motion.

So after freeing my bruised arm, I could not help but wonder what perverse incentive made the Metro driver decide that it is better to force dozens of passengers to double back and dozens more to wait even longer at the platform, all to save perhaps an extra minute. Do they get bonuses if they finish their route early?

If so, how about this bonus system:

Bonus = Minutes Early - passengers injured on route + number of witty statements to passengers on intercom, such as calling "Shady Grove" something like "Sketchy Grove"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ranking Presidents

With Presidents Day coming up, historians often try to curry favor from our past leaders, living and dead, so that they don't have to be faced by Zombie Lincoln or Vampire Van Buren in their dreams. The list of top presidents of all time often doesn't fluctuate much--the ones with the three big memorials in D.C. are usually the top three, and with good reason. Washington (my vote for the greatest) truly set the right balance of effective yet non-tyrannical leadership that became precedent for all future presidents to follow, which is why even with an evil bastard like FDR in office we never went to full-blown dictatorship in over 200 years. Jefferson doubled our country's size in his terms, and led the cause of limited federal power. Lincoln saved the Union at its time of greatest crisis and untimately caused the end of slavery.

But what about our lesser-knowns? Are there any truly underrated presidents, or presidents who deserve more scorn than they get? Let's run down a few:

1) Somehow, James Buchanan doesn't get quite the vitriol from historians that he should. This guy after all was completely feckless at a time when the country was ripping apart. His presidency was about as disastrous as one could be. He may get a bit of a pass because it's hard to see anything he could have done to really stop the South from seceding--calling up a peacetime army any earlier may only have provoked the secessionists further (as happened when Lincoln did it) and it didn't look as though the seceding states could have been accomodated.

2) My disdain for FDR is already known--war criminal, racist, power-mad, and Com-symp all rolled into one. He's in hell right now with his buddy Stalin. To his credit though, some aspects of the New Deal were positive (and the New Deal itself, while not the panacea Democrats consider it to be, was also not deserving of the scoff it gets from the Right) and his fight against Hitler made a huge difference.

3) JFK was an overrated moron who bungled Cuba into a near-war, got us into Vietnam, and chickened out on civil rights. A handsome face, slick playboy charms, liberal speeches and a gunshot to the head somehow have made him a liberal hero.

4) Woodrow Wilson was a mess. Why the hell did we have to get involved in WWI again??? It's like watching chimps get into a poop fight and then saying "hey I gotta get in on this!"

5) Franklin Pierce was a great American. He knows why.

6) Andrew Jackson rightly gets excoriated these days for his treatment of Indians. He should also be shamed for his fights against national banks, as this economically backward opinion may have prevented earlier economic expansion in the country. He did squelch a secession crisis though so that deserves points.

7) James Madison may have been a great Founding Father (Bill O'Rights, etc.) but his War of 1812 was pretty much a disaster. It also kept us from invading Canada which we really should have done because then I'd no longer get stuck with Canadian quarters in my change jar.

8) One of our presidents could write in Latin with one hand simultaneously while writing in Greek in the other hand. And I forget which president it was, that's how uninteresting his term turned out to be.

9) How will Bush and Obama turn out? This is for another post.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ideas for New Car Signals

It seems rather odd that even modern automobiles--after all the years of trial and error--only have three possible visual signals (and only one audible signal) that they can give to other drivers. These are--I'm about to turn left; I'm about to turn right; and I'm braking. The audible signal--the horn--can mean anything from "hey, watch it!" to "hey, good looking!" It's about time some additional signals were added for all the things we need cars to do these days:

1) Letting a driver know you're letting them into your lane.

2) Letting a driver know they better not cut you off because you're speeding up.

3) Telling a driver to get the hell out of the left lane because they're going too slow.

4) Telling a driver there's a bicyclist being dragged under their car.

5) Telling a pedestrian that they must be jam 'cause jelly don't shake like that.

6) Telling other drivers that you'll be going slow for the next mile because you're not sure where your turn is and you're trying to read the signs which are poorly marked because the local authorities are mouth-breathing morons who should all be forced to find their way out of the South Bronx at 3 AM and see how they like it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Death Bed. The Bed That Eats.

Every now and again comes a film that makes you question whether a director had any idea he was making a comedy at the time. Surely, some movies attempt comedy and fail miserably (e.g., Austin Powers Goldmember), but what I'm talking about is the film that sets out to be serious and yet brings more genuine laughter from its audience than it ever intended (e.g., Titanic). And then there's a film like "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats."

"Death Bed" was made by a man named George Barry, who clearly set out to prove that he could make a horror movie less scary than "Night of the Lepus", which featured giant bunny rabbits killing people (and the special effects that would have been state of the art for a Guatemalan high school production in 1972). "Death Bed", of course, involves a bed that eats people by sucking them into some yellow foam and also eating things like chicken legs and flowers and Pepto-Bismol. At one point, a victim is trying to stab the bed with a knife, only to have his hands get sucked into the bed and emerge as skeleton hands. In short, this is no ordinary bed!

Sadly, this bed has apparently had thousands of victims over the years, meaning that none of these thousands could figure out the one way to defeat the bed, which is to NOT SIT ON THE DAMN THING. The bed has no arms, no special force field pulling you in--it just swallows you once you're sitting or laying on it. Wouldn't at least someone say "hey, an abandoned bed in an old house. Pretty creepy! Maybe I won't take a nap on it"? Seems like a pretty simple way to defeat the death bed, but then I've never hung out at an abandoned house.

Also notable for the crunching sounds the bed makes while it eats, despite not having jaws or teeth or anything. Unrealistic! But then, the "skeleton hands" guy just seems to wander around not bleeding to death or anything after all the flesh and sinews are dissolved from his hands. He sort of looks at the damn things as though they were just covered in a rash or something minor like that. Please, fine thespian, if you're going to take a role in a cinematic masterpiece such as "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats" then you'd better show better acting chops than that!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ingredients for a Romantic Comedy

In honor of Valentines Day, the most destructive day of the year ever since they cancelled Exploding Easter, let's run down the ingredients of any truly horrible romantic comedy:

1) The "meet cute". This is where I suppose the two romantic leads meet in some overly comical way. Look, they are both trying to mug the same victim! I bet these crazy kids will never make it!

2) Cheesy opening theme song. "This Old Heart of Mine" by the Isley Brothers is a great candidate. "It Takes Two" by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston is also great, in the sense that you will ice pick your own eyes out when you hear it.

3) Overly career-driven woman and overly carefree guy. Look, his hair is mussed up and he has a cute job like cartoon coloring artist! Look, she wears fancy designer suits and is always stomping around trying to make deadlines! I can't imagine those two making it work!

4) The sassy friend. It used to be a perfect role for an overweight black woman, who can talk about kicking things to the curb, and other general sassyness. These days though the overweight black woman is being eclipsed by the new kid in town--the gay best friend. Oh, and this gay best friend can only be the best friend to the woman, not the guy. Somehow, Hollywood has not accepted the idea of straight guys having gay best friends.

5) Matthew McConnaughy, Sandra Bullock, or Katherine Heigl. One of them has to be in it.

6) Millions of people dragged to see these movies, losing their collective lunches in theaters around the country.

Valentines Day, Bah Humbug!

Today marks yet another Valentines Day, which happens to be the holiday with the most potential for pure evil and destruction compared to every other holiday with the exception of Reverse Arbor Day. This day suffers from landing right in the weary days of winter, it reminds the singles that they are alone, and forces the coupled to make some gesture that seems forced rather than spontaneous. Whoever decided to make Valentines Day a thing had probably done so in between torturing small animals and inventing romantic "comedies". May they rot in hell!

(I note it is also the birthday of a good buddy of mine. Happy birthday good buddy!)

Valentines Day, however, doesn't have to be the force of destruction that it usually turns into. Here are some key steps:

1) Single folks need to band together to celebrate "Single Appreciation Day" on this day, where they gather together and drink beer and watch movies. Celebrating friendship and independence is a good elixir to those incessant candy hearts that appear at CVS for the past month.

2) Coupled folks should have a nice meal at home. Restaurants notoriously are crowded and have their "Valentines Specials" where they jack up the prices to rip off people facing the high pressure of increased expectations. At home, they never lose your reservation, and the flower vendor doesn't come by your table to pressure you into buying a nearly-dead rose by putting you on the spot in front of your special lady.

3) Absolutely boycott romantic comedies that tend to come out at this time of year. The only way the studios will stop making this dreck is if we stop pretending to like it! Go watch Saw IX instead. Chances are, you'll see a human heart at some point in the film!

4) Yes, I know that this means Matthew McConnaughy will have to go back to delivering pizzas if the romantic comedy industry breaks down. Look on the bright side--he'll probably sell you weed when he comes to drop off your order!

None of this is to say you should ignore your special lady/gentleman caller. Obviously, getting them candy and doing something special for them is always nice--it just shouldn't be relegated to some day designated by the card industry.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Naomi Wolf, Still Not Relevant!

It wasn't enough that Naomi Wolf torpedoed Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000 by telling him to wear "earth tones" which had the unfortunate effect of people mistaking him for an oak dining set. No, now she is trying to de-legitimize those of us who think Madonna is a washed up no-talent by claiming sexism.

News flash--if everything is sexist, then nothing is. Just like if I call someone a "Christian basher" for trying to prohibit school prayer, it makes light of the actual murderers of Christian minorities in Egypt. Words have meaning, and the proper term for a critic of Madonna is not "sexist" but "someone with taste".

In fairness, Madonna's early works were catchy and very much a part of mid-'80s nostalgia as anything else (though it didn't hurt her prospects that the '80s were a cultural wasteland. It's true, look it up. And hike up your pants while you do). But somewhere along the way her act got tired, with weak, forgettable songs, and constant attention-whoring that was impressive only in terms of her ability to get media coverage and sell that schtick. Good for her, as a promoter. But an "artist", as Wolf calls her? Give me a break!

Wolf seems to think there's a double standard when critics give Madonna a hard time for being a no-talent hack who added nothing of artistic value for the past two decades, when they aren't so harsh on her male counterparts. Yes, that must be it. Male attention whoring "artists" never get that kind of criticism. That's why no one makes fun of Nickleback, Creed, or Kanye West. Universally admired, all of them.

Look, if you're part of the tasteless that love and appreciate what Madonna has been doing since "Papa Don't Preach", then great for you--everyone has a right to their own taste or lack thereof! I don't expect everyone to agree with my appreciation of the Stax and Motown artists of the '60s and '70s. But I'm not about to call anyone a racist because they don't like the same artists I like.

Are We All Unreasonable?

This blog post raised an interesting question--whether or not someone is unreasonable if there is no amount of evidence that could make them change their mind about something. Of course, at first blush, by definition if your mind is unwilling to allow any new facts to change it, you are beyond reason and therefore unreasonable.

However, I think most of us--myself included--would answer "of course I'd be willing to change my mind if new facts came out that challenged my beliefs! I just haven't seen such facts, yet, which is why I still firmly believe [abortion is murder; we shouldn't have a death penalty; Obama was born in China; the Redskins still suck]." Our unwillingness to change our minds is not so much that we're so dogmatic we refuse to listen to new facts, but rather that our worldview makes us look at those new facts differently. Facts that challenge our firm beliefs are either discredited or reinterpreted to fit our existing worldview. Consider these examples:

1) I think the Redskins suck because owner Dan Snyder is a moron who meddles in the team creating instability and he's just a rotten guy who makes the team suck and they still have a racist name even in 2012. If suddenly Dan Snyder donated his whole fortune to cancer research and lived the rest of his life like a monk in a broom closet at Fed Ex Field, and Coach Shanahan, free from Snyders meddling, traded for some good players and made some smart draft picks and the team had a winning season, I'd probably assume all that new information was just an Onion spoof article.

2) A strict gun control advocate who sees data that shows crime rates dropping in a town that recently relaxed its gun laws would assume the dropping crime rates are due to other factors, as there's no way this could be due to criminals being deterred by a more well-armed citizenry. If the crime rates went up in that town, the gun rights advocate would believe some other factor was causing the rates to rise, and that those rates would have gone up even further if not for the deterrant of the well-armed citizenry.

3) I think IHOP is disgusting. If I found myself eating at one that was clean, well-run and had decent food, I'd assume I walked into a Cracker Barrel by accident.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Landslide Come November?

With Mitt Romney still continuing to struggle in his race for the GOP nomination, things are looking brighter than ever for President Obama's re-election. Of course, Obama has a natural edge anyway--an economy that's likely to be seen as improving this year, a dead bin Laden, and demographic changes that put more formerly "red" states up for grabs--but it seems the GOP is ever more determined to turn a hard fought win into a cakewalk for Barry O.

Consider--what does it say about a party that keeps candidates like Gingrich (who was driven out of Congress by his own party, and has about a 27 percent favorable rating) and Santorum (who lost his last race by 18 points without even having killed anyone) in the running against Romney? Clearly this is a party that is just not being won over.

Consider--does Obama really need the help of Romney's own statements, about "not caring about the very poor" and "corporations are people"? Context matters, sure, but why provide ammunition?

Consider--when your party has turned acceptance of homosexuals, Muslims and immigrants into character flaws to be purged from its presidential candidates, do you really think they're going to have a chance winning moderate voters come November?

There's still a chance the dynamic can change, if Europe's problems or other economic circumstances cause our economy to drop back into free fall. But at the rate things are looking, the only question is whether Obama's landslide will resemble Reagan's in '84 or LBJ's in '64.

They Pull Down Your Pants and Spank You With Moon Rocks

I have to admit I'm a sucker for the "found footage" style of horror movie, where the entire film is apparently edited footage that was found somewhere after the result of "mysterious circumstances" and by watching the film you can pick up clues as to what actually happened. It's always something horrible--in "Blair Witch Project" it turned out the investigators were murdered by a witch; in "Paranormal Activity" it was demons. It never just turns out to be a hilarious road trip adventure that someone left in their closet to be discovered by their roommate. Something horrible always has to happen!

Last night's film was "Apollo 18", which supposedly is the "found footage" of a final and secret NASA mission to a far-flung and previously unexplored section of the moon in the mid-'70s. Why should this be a horrifying tale, you ask? Well, you don't remember hearing about how this mission turned out, do you? (Actually, I don't remember hearing about any moon landings except the one where they first landed on the moon, and the one where they got stuck a bit and needed Ed Harris to help get them back. Apparently, we've been to the moon a few times, but as they say, no one remembers the second person to fly across the Atlantic, either.)

Spoilers ahead! The landing seems pretty routine, until they discover that there is a Soviet lunar module near where they landed. Creepier still, the module is busted up a bit, with the red flag knocked down, and a dead cosmonaut nearby. (At first, it seemed implausable--with a surface area equal to that of the continental United States, what is the chance of the Americans landing anywhere near where the Soviets did? But then, the idea that NASA secretly knew about the Soviet landing and intentionally sent their men to the same coordinates would explain it) Ruling out the possibility that the Russians ran low on vodka and went berzerkers, the American astronauts are a bit creeped out.

Soon enough, their own flag gets knocked down, probably by some moon-hippie who doesn't respect what that flag stands for! Plus, their moon rover gets tipped over. It's clear that they're not alone up there. Worse, they can't seem to get liftoff to rejoin their comrade orbiting above, to get home.

As it turns out, the moon rocks are sentient beings, crab mosters as it were, and they soon do what they do best--get inside the space suits and burrow into the astronauts skins. Eeks! I suppose before the first real astronauts did land there, they had to consider the possibility of some horrible thing being down there (or of their space suits not working, after all, no one could really test anything in the moon's atmosphere since they were the first to go there). The film does a good job capturing their claustrophobia, and sense of trapped doom. As this is "found footage", we know that none of the astronauts are going to survive this caper.

Overall, the movie was very entertaining--perhaps because I'd read scathing reviews and had my expectations lowered. Sure, there were some logical questions--for instance, how was the footage found if no one went back to the moon afterwards? How did the sound of the moon monsters carry in the vacuum atmosphere of the moon? Why do the astronauts seem to have the same gravitational effect on the moon as they do on earth? But if you suspend belief a bit, you can get past that.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Movies Based on Board Games

The news that Hollywood is funding a big budget film based on the board game "Battleship" has bothered me more than I thought it would. I think it has something to do with the fact that it's so UNNECESSARY to spend so much on a film about a big naval battle and have to share revenues with the makers of the board game (Parker Brothers? Milton Bradley?), because it's not as though anyone who enjoys the board game will say "what, a movie about this??? Sign me up!" Why not just make a movie about a naval battle, with the bad guys being the Brazilians or soemthing, toss in a cheesy romantic subplot where the admiral and one of his gunnery officers are competing for the same girl, and call it a day?

Considering that, let's look at other movies Hollywood will consider if this one even makes back half its investment:

1) Checkers. The tag line--"Just when you thought it was safe to advance one square. Suddenly, you and your four red friends get jumped. It's not fair . . . it's Checkers." Starring Ben Affleck as the black checker and Ed Norton as a red square.

2) Hungry Hungry Hippos. The tag line--"The hippos have been eating all day. Surely they are full . . . but then, you don't know hippos." Starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as the yellow hippo, and George Clooney as a marble.

3) Monopoly. The tag line--"You just got out of jail, and have about forty dollars to your name. Maybe it's time for an overnight stay at Park Place . . . until you see they just built hotels there." Starring Samuel L Jackson as the shoe.

4) Operation. The tag line--"It seemed like a normal day at the ER. They wheel in the patient. Turns out, he's all wired up with electric cables, and you have to remove random crap out of his body without hitting the electric cables. You ask the nurse to unplug the electricity, but she won't do it. This is madness!" Starring Russell Crowe as the surgeon.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Giants Win Super Bowl, and Post Game Thoughts

Last night's Super Bowl has given us time to reflect on the following:

1) Big companies have spent millions for 30-second ads to remind us that heavy pick-up trucks, beer and Doritos still exist in amusing ways. This is great, because just recently I was asking a friend if they still made Doritos and if he could think of anything funny to do with Doritos.

2) They're making a movie based on the game "Battleship"??? I'm sure the reason the big studios are losing money is due to video piracy and not the fact that they distribute fetid crap like this every year.

3) The halftime show has evolved into a game of "this act would have been really hot a few decades ago". Imagine Madonna at the 1984 Super Bowl show, or the Rolling Stones at the 1968 Super Bowl show, or the Black Eyed Peas never being at any Super Bowl show. It's as though the booking agent is incredibly overworked and can't do anything in less than 20 years. We'll know my theory is correct if next year's headliner is Third Eye Blind, sponsored by Enron and

4) Handsome, multimillionaire quarterback Tom Brady's supermodel wife has asked people to pray for her husband to win the Super Bowl. See, if the power of prayer can make miracles happen, this is what we need to spend our prayer on. Those starving kids in the Sudan will just have to wait.

5) Apparently, Pats fans didn't pray hard enough, with the Giants pulling off an upset (and enwealthening--yes it's a word--millions who bet against the spread). Between this and the 2008 result, the Giants are now the true nemesis of New England. Which is good, the traditional Redskins Cowboys rivalry means little when both teams suck year after year.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Advice for Romney

1) Don't ever let the words "I don't care about the very poor" come out of your mouth in that sequence, unless what you are saying is "Season 4 of Jersey Shore? I don't care. About the very poor, though, I care a great deal." Then and only then should those words be said in that exact order.

2) An endorsement from Donald Trump should be treated like an endorsement from Charles Manson. Who on earth is going to give you their vote because of that endorsement???

3) Nobody--except for the economically ignorant--will fault you for having made a fortune legally, and paying only as much in taxes as you were required by law. But you should realize that your relatively low tax rate conflicts with your message that taxes for wealthy investors--like yourself--should be reduced further when deficits are out of control, and voters will resent that message coming from you. If anything, you are in a better position to argue for tax code simplification so that ordinary income is taxed the same as capital gains.

4) Seriously, don't wear jeans. They look out of place on a rich guy with newscaster looks.

5) You don't really need to use negative ads against Gingrich and Santorum. Santorum can be defeated by just asking voters to Google his name. Gingrich can be defeated by just letting him speak, and remind people that he's Newt Gingrich.

6) Nobody believes for a minute that you genuinely want to use the power of the state to prevent gays from marrying one another, particularly considering you adopted this position for the first time in 2008. You might as well take a stand on principle here.

7) Opposing everything Obama does--even when it's hawkish moves in foreign policy, tax cuts at home, and budget cuts that would all otherwise be cheered by the GOP--only makes it look less credible. Give him credit now and then, so that what you actually do oppose will have greater weight.

8) With today's job numbers--unemployment down to 8.3% and a monthly gain of 250,000 jobs--it's looking more and more like Obama's getting re-elected. Win or lose come November, you at least don't want to go down in flames as embarrassingly as your last two Massachusetts predecessors (Messrs. Kerry and Dukakis). Best to take the above advice!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Who Knew Pythons Were a Bad Idea?

It's a well known fact that in nature's great battle between alligators and giant snakes, I always side with the alligators. Maybe it's because alligators were impressed upon me at a young age to be hilarious and buffoonish, like the hillbilly gator Gabby that always got outwitted by Woody Woodpecker. Snakes on the other hand? They lack personality! Only weirdos like them!

So it was upsetting to see that because of morons who (a) think it's a good idea to own a giant snake as a pet, (b) didn't realize it's expensive and difficult to keep a giant snake as a pet, and (c) decide that the best solution to their giant snake ownership problem is to let the damn thing go outdoors, the Everglades are now becoming overrun with giant snakes that are upsetting the balance of nature by killing off the other wildlife. Gators, those lovably dangerous little dinosaurs, are especially vulnerable after having spent thousands of years having no natural predators to worry about except drunken hunters.

It also makes me wonder if this problem is only confined to Florida because of its warm climate year round--maybe irresponsible pet owners in northern states are letting giant snakes loose in city parks, and the snakes simply don't survive the winters. Still, that means I now have to be careful on the National Mall just in case someone's python is sitting in a tree waiting for a passing snack to walk by with his iPod. Note to self--don't smother yourself in sesame ginger sauce before going for a walk near any big trees.

Etiquette Questions Answered!

Now seems as good a time as any to share some basic etiquette lessons with my faithful readers:

1) "I know that with steak one should drink red wine. What should you drink when you're enjoying broccoli casserole?" Answer--paint thinner. Do whatever you take to burn out the inside of your mouth after eating something so foul as broccoli casserole.

2) "At dinner parties, the seating should be boy, girl, boy, girl. How do you seat people at the table when it's all men?" Answer--when it's all men they never sit around the table, but rather mill about the basement and pick pieces of the pizza directly from the box, which is sitting on the upended broken refrigerator that doubles as a coffee table. And don't block the TV.

3) "When invited to a cocktail party, it's customary to bring drinks. However, I have tacky friends that take their leftover drinks back home with them when they leave for the night. How do I politely tell them that it is awkward to have someone snatch up their wine or beer on their way out in middle of the party?" Answer--as you fetch their coats, lick the tops and sides of whatever drinks they brought so they realize those drinks now belong to the host.

4) "When holding a door for someone who is entering or exiting a building, it can be awkward if they're so far behind you that you're standing there holding the door for more than a few seconds. How far behind you does someone have to be it to be acceptable to not hold the door for them?" Answer--why the hell are you holding a door for someone at all? If they're a man, they'll feel emasculated. If they're a woman, they'll feel condescended. If they're handicapped, they shouldn't be using doors.

5) "Most Europeans cut their food using their left hands, and Americans often switch hands when cutting food. If you're setting a table for a mixed group of Americans and Europeans, where should you set the forks and knives?" Answer--you don't need a fork and knife to eat hot dogs. There, problem solved.

6) "When setting a table, should the utensils that are to be used in the earlier courses be set farther from the plate than the utensils to be used in later courses? How does that work?" Answer--this is a very important dillema, because at one dinner party I set the forks wrong and the guests freaked out, unable to find the right fork and thus they had to eat their salad with their bare hands. I advise just using sporks, and making sure all the sporks are one size.

7) "When answering correspondence, and you aren't aware of the gender of the person you're addressing, and they have a unisex name like "Leslie" or "Terry", should you default to "Mr." or "Ms."?" Answer--default to "Dr." Everyone likes being mistaken for a doctor.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday Thoughts

1) I get why no one names their kid "Adolf" anymore, but I don't understand why no one names their kid "Sherlock". After all, Holmes was a master of deduction! Who wouldn't want their kid to be a master of deduction?

2) When I see the media "call" an election with only a sample of 2% of the votes counted--and generally get it right--it makes me wonder if we might see a day when a war gets called early in the first battle. Imagine about ten minutes into the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese realizing that statistically there was no way they could win the war, and coming to terms long before losing millions of people and their whole empire.

3) Adam Sandler is making a film based on the board game "Candyland." There is some idiot greenlighting this in Hollywood, who is saying to investors "just imagine the synergies of the always strong Adam Sandler demographic and the fans of Candyland. Can't miss!" And this person is well paid to make such decisions. I propose we build a moat around Hollywood and start fresh with a new Tinseltown somewhere in Nevada.

4) Every time I read an article about how bad high heels are for the feet, there's always at least one comment saying that high heels were obviously invented by men. This is true, except it ignores that they were also invented FOR men. Aristocrats at the time of Louis XIV wanted to look taller. And I should point out that I have yet to know any man who sees a woman in flats and says "she's hot, except what's with the low heels???"

5) The Everglades swamp now has a serious problem with pythons being released into the wild by morons who somehow think it's a good idea to own a giant snake until the food bills come. And there are also millions of amateur hunters in the country who have too much time on their hands. I fail to see how these two problems can't be solved together?

6) And no, I'm not volunteering to hunt anything in the Everglades. More likely I'd make it about twenty feet into the swamp before tripping and shooting myself with my own rifle.