Category: Clippings

Don’t Ask, Don’t Watch

The Onion A.V. Club has some of the best reviews of movies, books, music, and video games that I’ve read anywhere. Unlike their sister site, The Onion, the A.V. Club contains real articles about real nouns. I’ve been reading them for years and almost all of the reviews are well done. Regularly, they’ll deliver a gem; this one is for a review of Delta Farce, staring Larry The Cable Guy:

But instead of finally making the madcap cable-industry comedy he seems destined for [after Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector‘s questionable success], Larry The Cable Guy has instead addressed the issue of our time: war, and what is it good for? Like Paths Of Glory, Apocalypse Now, and Platoon, Delta Farce is a difficult, harrowing work offering little relief or humor. Unlike those movies, though, Delta Farce is supposed to be funny.

Well-played, Mr. Hyden. Extremely well-played.

My Top Five for 2005

Overall, 2005 was an eventful year for me, and most of those events were positive ones. I thought it would be interesting (and somewhat challenging) to force myself to come up with the most important happenings in my life for 2005. The events I came up with are merely keyframes in a very busy year:

  1. College Graduation – In May, I graduated from the University of Scranton. Through nine semesters in five years, I managed to acquire a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, with a minor in Theatre. Earning my BA is my biggest accomplishment to date.
  2. Move to Baltimore – After several years of theoretical planning and one lucky roommate/apartment find, I moved to Baltimore, Maryland in October. Which reminds me of my third event.
  3. Fifth Anniversary – Annie and I celebrated five years as a couple in May this year. We marked the occasion with a beautiful day in Cape May, New Jersey.
  4. Student Government Website – While it may not be as momentous as my top three events, my successful redesign of a large organization website was a major time commitment and a challenging opportunity.
  5. Myrtle Beach Vacation – It was a few years since I’d taken a real vacation, so this trip was long overdue. It was great to get away from the computer for a week and fill up my new memory card for my camera.

I enjoyed 2005 and I’m looking forward to 2006. I’m sure I’ll have some new challenges to add—and a few solutions—so I’ll be writing them down here for everyone. Look for more frequent posts and pictures (really!), a new site design (goodbye, default!), and better integration of current features. I’ll also be announcing a BIG PROJECT that I’m working on with Joe right now. See you next year!

A Perfect Democracy

I think H. L. Mencken (1880 — 1956) had it right when he wrote:

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Congratulations, America, you have someone you can relate to as your President. I just wish you weren’t dragging the rest of us down with you.

Election 2004 and the Aftermath

I wish I had written something on Wednesday, when all of my emotions were raw and vitrolic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really write anything besides angry rants and whiny raves as a result of the deep emotions I felt. However, several other people summed up this election better than I could in its immediate aftermath.

William Saletan at Slate wrote:

[Simplicity] is what so many people like about Bush’s approach to terrorism. They forgive his marginal and not-so-marginal screw-ups, because they can see that fundamentally, he “gets it.” They forgive his mismanagement of Iraq, because they see that his heart and will are in the right place. And while they may be unhappy about their economic circumstances, they don’t hold that against him. What you and I see as unreflectiveness, they see as transparency. They trust him.

Greg Knauss at Waxy wrote:

This determined emotionalism—which is another way of saying anti-rationalism—is what drives us today. You can find it distasteful, you can find it depressing, but it’s most important impact is that we have turned over the direction of the country—our future—to the part of our psyche that doesn’t want to think.

It’s not about smarts. The lunatics aren’t stupid—just the opposite. It’s about the willingness to abandon the deductive process in favor of epiphany. It’s about the abandonment of the brain in favor of the gut.

Jason Kottke wrote:

It’s not necessarily that America as a whole validated the actions of George Bush over the past four years… it’s that the Republican Party got more of their people to the polls than the Democrats did. Looking out across America, what’s one of the largest groups of people with a single strongly-held set of beliefs? The evangelical Christians. They comprise a large portion of the US population and believe in God more strongly than most other groups believe in anything. The Bush camp used a coordinated campaign to speak directly to those people and put their strong belief in God in direct opposition to what the other side stood for: liberals want to kill innocent babies, allow gays to marry, and let non-Christians run the country/world. To an evangelical Christian, the fear that those things will happen is almost overwhelmingly unbearable.

Jesse at Hyperion Court wrote:

We need to remember that the contest was close. While Bush will act like he has an overwhelming mandate, he received no such thing. The country is divided in half, and the divide runs deep. We can’t win by outvoting or outspending or outsliming the forces arrayed against us. We have to bridge that divide. We have to make people understand why we think the way we do. If you want to take your country back, you’re going to have to change it first. That battle will never end, but it can be won. It starts now.

I think these four posts sum up the election result in great ways. I’ve sampled some great bits, but read the full posts for even more good stuff. I don’t necessarily agree with everything, but all of them are worth the read. Eventually, I was able to get my thoughts together in writing.

The Political Spectrum

“I am, as far as I can tell, more or less a centrist, equally repelled by either extreme of the political spectrum. Indeed, I believe that the spectrum forms a full circle, with right and left merging, as they meet at their respective extremes, into luminous batshit evil.”

by William Gibson

Calling It “Faux News” Is So Last Week

“You may have wondered why Cheez Whiz is called ‘Cheez Whiz’ instead of, say, ‘Cheese Whise.’ I sure haven’t, but God knows what’s going on in that head of yours. Well, there is a reason: truth in labeling. Cheez Whiz shares many of the same characteristics of real cheese, such as, uh, it’s orange, and I suppose you can eat it, if you’re into that sort of thing. But, as it isn’t actually actual cheese by any meaningful definition, or, more importantly, by the FDA definition, the good people at Kraft call it ‘Cheez,’ and don’t get sued. I don’t know what the ‘Whiz’ bit is all about. You can look it up yourself if it’s so damned important to you. I’m not your slave.

I bring this up because I think this is something that could be applied outside the food business. Take television. Now, a lot of people get upset about FOX News, because it isn’t really like other TV news. When you turn on the TV to watch the news, you expect to see some sort of clean-cut, professional-looking, middle-aged eunuch telling you more-or-less the important things that happened today. What you do not expect to see is Brit Hume bobbling his 50 tons of mutant head-flesh around, nor do you expect to hear the queer and implausible stories which emanate therefrom. You don’t expect that, nor should you, but there you are. But wouldn’t the whole problem be solved if FOX News just changed its name to ‘FOX Nooz?’ It’s not ‘news’ proper, but it’s vaguely news-ish, it has some newsy bits, and is even occasionally mistaken for real news. But it’s not ‘news,’ it’s ‘nooz.’ Different thing. So you have nothing to complain about anymore.

by The Poor Man [via Dead Parrot Society]

Saddam’s Worth in GI’s

“And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam Hussein worth? And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait [in 1991], but also when the president made the decision that we’d achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq…”

Dick Cheney, 1992 [via Matt]

It’s the Copy and Paste Entry!

I didn’t go out tonight, I don’t have any homework, and I’m not posting until next week so I thought I’d post another entry for your reading enjoyment. But there’s a problem: I’m feeling lazy and I don’t feel like writing the normal witty banter that you’ve grown to hate. Therefore, I’m stepping to a new low: the copy-and-paste entry!

I just love record executives, don’t you?

One RCA executive, who insisted on anonymity, cited Idol as proof that “Americans have no taste” and described Aiken as “Barry Manilow, but with less talent.” Sanders says he understands that some of his employees are “skeptical about the selection process and skeptical about selling a pop artist with no credibility.” But, he adds, “I’ve told everyone they need to look at it this way: Americans buy more vanilla ice cream than any other flavor. Yes, they like their Rocky Road and Cherry Garcia, but ultimately America wants to consume vanilla. So we’re going to sell the best vanilla. Given the problems we’re facing as an industry, we cannot afford to be judgmental.”
Building a Better Pop Star,” Time, Oct. 13, 2003

Here’s one of Mulhern’s random away messages:

My current biggest fear: a ninja clan of midget clowns comes after me after I’ve killed one of their brethren. They leave me no choice but to join forces with my hated enemies, the bums of Scranton, to defeat this clown ninja threat. The battle goes well until the bums reveal themselves to be clowns in disguise and they subdue me with shurikens and cotton candy. They take me in a little clown car to their base of operations and torture me with their midget ways, trying to get me to tell them the location of my cigarettes. I free myself with a batarang, but realize I am hopelessly outnumbered and have no choice but to commit seppuku. As I lay dying, I curse the midget clown bums and tell them one day a man will come and avenge my death and on that day, they will die in a pool of blood and white makeup… but they just laugh.

And finally, here’s one from Letterman:

Arnold Schwarzenegger said that while he is governor he won’t make any movies. I’m thinking that maybe we can get Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez to run for office.
The Late Show with David Letterman, Oct. 9, 2003