Gephardt Quote
I never ever do political stuff, but I thought it would be funny to translate the recent Gephardt statement into German:
    "Wenn ich Präsident bin, tun wir Ausführungsverordnungen, um jede falsche Sache zu überwinden, die das Oberste Gericht morgen oder irgendein anderer Tag tut!", said Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

Hee hee. Much more appropriate.


Utter Defeat
Well, it's official. The 17th Earl of Bruce has been published in the Buffalo News. Thus, it appears that our longtime race to see who would be published first has not so much been won as lost by me (mostly for distracting things such as gainful employment and, well, my superior ability to procrastinate). Nevertheless, congratulations are in order for not only the nice article, but for his photo preserving the ever-present malevolent gleam in his eye.


eBooks and Material Possession
While I was skimming the internet for different sites for Star Wars books, I happened upon Del Rey's Star Wars location, which was selling eBooks. I had heard a few things about online books, mostly from Stephen King' attempt at it, but otherwise it was a remote concept for me.

The eBook for Vector Prime offers an assortment of goodies to go with the text itself (which, as I've mentioned before, is a very good book), such as illlustrations and backstory not found in the hardcover or paperback. Kind of like a DVD, really. The price is unbelievably cheap, so I might just buy it to see how it works.

Of course, I don't think anything can replace actually owning a book. And I do mean owning, not borrowing. I don't like to use libraries because I like the tangibility of having the book. I like to re-read novels from time to time. Also, I like having a huge bookcase of things I've read. It's a little fetish I have I guess, which is why eBooks won't ever replace the bound kind for me (especially since you can't print them).


Matrix Banned
Apparently, Egypt has banned Matrix: Reloaded because it tackles "religious themes". Well, you knew it was inevitable, especially since it comes from the country's "censorship board". However, I see that a lot of the original meaning has been lost in the translation to English. Luckily, I have the correct text handy for translation. Here's an excerpt, followed by the true meaning:

    "Such religious issues, raised in previous times, caused crises."
    "Anyone in the past who has dared to disagree with the church has been put to death, resurrected (thank Allah) and then put to death a second time. This was very distressing to our daily prayers."

Well, who wouldn't have a problem? The statement goes on to say:
    Violent scenes also had the potential to "harm social peace"
    Our country is populated with terrorist zealots, who love to kill. Especially those who choose the door on Neo's right.

Well, I can certainly understand that. You don't want your killers killing the star, do you? But the most telling part is:
    "Screening the movie may cause troubles and harm social peace," according to the statement.
    "Screening this movie loosens our mind control and causes people to think. You just can't have that in a religious zealotry-type state. You just can't.

Indeed. I can understand why this would be a problem. Well, what can you do?

The statement also went on to say later that you could "so tell" some of the Agent Smiths were stuntmen and there should have a lot more of "those wicked cool" twins.
Best Songs of the Last 25 Years, My Ass
The nefarious and glib Aaron, apparent conscript of The Big Jake, has alerted me to the already notorious VH1 List of 100 Greatest Songs From the Past 25 Years (He also commented on the 100 Greatest Songs of Country, but as I noted yesterday, my opinion is moot in that area.)

Clearly, this list has been compiled by those who are attempting to please fans from every genre that exists today, and when you try to please everyone, what you end up doing is failing miserably. I cannot think of any list that should have Bruce Springsteen and the Sugar Hill Gang in it, much less Hanson. Of course, I'm sure there are those out there who consider it a great affront that, somehow, VH1 managed to pick Nirvana as having the greatest song of the last 25 years as number one. Now, I'm a fan of Nirvana, and I think that sound was indeed the groundbreaking song of the 90's (I remember where I was the first time I heard it, and it was electric), but I don't necessarily think it was the 'greatest song'.

Of course, that begs the question: How is a 'greatest song' chosen? Well, unfortunately, VH1's criteria defines nebulous:
    From "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to "My Heart Will Go On," every song on the list has helped define the past 25 years. Not only are we going to show you the best of the past 25 years but we’re going to tell you why and who says.

[Read: Any pop star who was handy we asked who they liked.] That is utterly useless. There are far too many things to critique on this list. Why the hell is "Sweet Child O' Mine" from Guns 'n Roses on in the top five but "Paradise City" didn't even make the list? Where the hell are the "alternative" bands, such as The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths (e.g., "Just Like Heaven," "Personal Jesus", "How Soon is Now?" to name a few songs that absolutely deserve to be on this list)?

The bottom line is there are far too many things wrong with the this list to even start (kind of like listing the ways a car is not an airplane). Time to work out my aggression on some hapless intern.

Update: VH1 has removed the entire list. However, it can be found elsewhere.


The Last Word on Phantom Menace

[Or, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!!!]

Normally, I'm a pretty rational guy. On any given day at work, I can be counted on to logically and professionally handle a myriad of challenges, questions, and even general boobery. But sometimes the crap piles up, and it's time to start shoveling.

I got out my spade when I ran across an article found by The Force.net which immediately forced me to hold the gamma-induced rage in check. It also tells me what kind fuckwits -- yes, fuckwits -- work at E!. Apparently, they decided that not only was Star Wars: The Phantom Menace a bad 'sequel', but it is the worst sequel ever.

Okay, I'm going to take a breath here. I glanced at the entire list before going on, but that glance was enough to tell me that E! online is populated by a strong contingent of fuckwits, and very few editors. Unbelievably, they have The Color of Money listed as the Tenth-Worst Sequel Ever. This film happens to be a favorite of mine, and while I can say that it isn't the best film ever, it surely does not belong on this list. I'll go further to say that I was stunned that TCOM was #10. It's difficult to conceive of the movie in which Paul Newman won Best Actor as being total crap, but apparently the intern-boobs at E! know better.

Well, I didn't come here to write about The Color of Money. I came here to write about the number one crappiest sequel of all time. Over the last couple years, I've put up with a lot of people's opinions about this film, which I consider to be a standout edition to a wonderful series, and holds its own with some truly great (and equally misunderstood) movies from 1999 -- Fight Club (which has achieved cult status and is my choice for best movie of the 90's), American Beauty, and of course, The Matrix. These movies are the ones that many of the general masses don't 'get'. Not 'getting' a movie doesn't make it awful, it just makes it not your cup of tea.

Here's a short list of some things that I don't get: The Dave Matthews Band, movie musicals, Terry Gilliam films, Care Bears, divas, country music, lederhosen, coffee, and twizzlers. I'm not a fan of any of those things, and don't care to listen/eat/watch/wear (match appropriately, please) any of them. Taking Dave Matthews for a moment, I am not saying that these guys aren't talented musicians, but that their music does nothing to move me, nor do I find it remarkable. That doesn't mean that I think they are the worst band ever, but rather that I recognize that there is something missing from my cranium that others have which would have enabled me to see their genius. I don't have it, and I don't miss it. However, I'm not spiteful about it, or blockheaded. If you are a fan, congratulations. Well done. Just let me be.

Now, I'll take that sentiment and apply it to any of the above 1999 movies (Matrix: Reloaded, by the way, is in the same category). I get it. I love Phantom Menace. I think that it is a very deep, clever, and engrossing movie. Of course it has some flaws about it, but they are pretty minor (Jar Jar is a little annoying, but too fucking bad). And in no way does it deserve to the the worst sequel of all time. That is to say that, for instance, it is worse than Batman and Robin (which came in at #2 in E! brilliant poll!). In fact, I'll name some sequels that are clearly inferior to The Phantom Menace (note this list only refers to movies I have seen):
    Batman and Robin, Batman Returns, Superman III & IV, Jaws III and IV, Star Trek: Insurrection, Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom, Look Who's Talking Too & Now, Caddyshack II, Meatballs II, Teen Wolf 2, Fletch Lives, Police Academy III-VI, Grease 2, Another 48Hrs, and not least of all Breakin' 2: Electric Boogalo.

You don't like Phanom Menace? Fine. You like to read bad reviews and believe all the crap (i.e., shortcut to thinking for yourself)? Fine. Just tell me that it's the worst movie ever so I know which of you out there are the morons.
[end rant. Good night!]
Lyrical Inspiration
I love songs whose lyrics inspire me to think, feel, write. This song, by Tool, "Intolerance", is one of them:
    I don't want to be hostile.
    I don't want to be dismal.
    But I don't want to rot in an apathetic existance either.
    I want to believe you,
    and I want to trust
    and I want to have faith to put away the dagger.

    But you lie, cheat, and steal.
    And yet
    I tolerate you.
    Veil of virtue hung to hide your method
    while I smile and laugh and dance
    and sing your praise and glory.
    Shroud of virtue hung to mask your stigma
    as I smile and laugh and dance
    and sing your glory
    while you
    lie, cheat, and steal.
    How can I tolerate you.

    Our guilt,our blame ,
    I've been far too sympathetic.
    Our blood, our fault.
    I've been far too sympathetic.

    I am not innocent.
    You are not innocent.
    Noone is innocent.

    I will no longer tolerate you
    Even if I must go down beside you.
    Noone is innocent.


The Scoundrel List
Recently, in response to AFI's Top 50 Heroes and Villains List, the great and noble Q applied his considerable cranial abilities to critiquing and appending that list.

One comment in particular set me to thinking: why is it that Han Solo appears on the list but Luke Skywalker does not? Luke is clearly the hero of the original trilogy, or, at the very least, the one who is motivated by the more noble causes. In fact, if you look at it from that perspective, Han Solo isn't really a hero at all, at least until the third movie (but by then his character has been figuratively assassinated so it doesn't matter).

In Star Wars: A New Hope, he's motivated by selfish reasons throughout, most notably greed and self-preservation above all else. Reluctantly, he is forced to help out a friend in the end, but does that make him a hero? I'm sure Solo himself would scoff at the notion (he even rolls his eyes right before he and Luke walk down the aisle to receive their medals at the end).

Maybe, as Jaquandor touched on, it has to do with the popularity the character has acquired over the years. Perhaps desiring to make Han fit the mold of the hero motivated Lucas to insert the 'self-defense' scenario into the Greedo scene for the special edition [Disgression: Many people, like myself, have issues with this change, not the least of which are the people behind the Greedo Conspiracy page , who offer some pretty hilarious theories on how Greedo could have missed Solo from 1 meter.] In any event, I think that Solo doesn't fit into the category of hero so much as scoundrel, a word he definitely liked the sound of.

From the Star Wars Role-Playing Game (no, I don't do that stuff anymore), Han Solo is even categorized as a scoundrel. The definition is perfect:
    Scoundrels are rogues -- good, bad, and neutral -- who either live outside the law or fight against it in order to get the upper hand. They can come from any world or region of the galaxy. Most use their intelligence and dexterity to accomplish tasks, and many rely on charisma as a fallback when all else fails. The scoundrel gets by with bravado, cunning, duplicity, and trickery. They live by their wits, lying, cheating, stealing, and even fighting when the need arises.
    Scoundrels have a knack for getting into and out of trouble. They have a self-preservation streak that keeps them alive, but it's usually tempered with a need to experience the thrills that their profession has to offer, and many adventurous scoundrels are also saddled with a sense of honor that sometimes makes them go against their natural inclinations.

I think it's pretty clear that AFI tried to shoe-horn a character into their list just to please the masses. Apparently, no one likes a whiny teenager, even though that's pretty much what most of us are at that age. If anything, Lucas has been criticized for making his younger characters too realistic, but that's for another time. Anyway, the whole point of this thread was to provide a list of notable scoundrels in film, but as usual, I've digressed far too much. I'll do that after lunch. Trust me.
Red Mars
Jaquandor should be titilated to learn that that Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars is in the works to be adapted for the small screen. The only downside is that we'll have to wait until the end of 2004 to see it. However, that's fine with me; I've stated publicly that I have no intention of dying until this movie comes out.


The Resurrection of Spike
As fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer know, Buffy's longtime nemesis-turned-lover vampire Spike died in the series finale. This was quite a shocking ending for a lot of viewers, especially those who noticed a few weeks before the finale that James Marsters (the actor who plays Spike) had joined the regular cast of next season's Buffy spin-off, Angel.

Naturally, this little development led to a lot of fan speculation over how exactly Joss Whedon (the brainchild behind both Buffy and Angel) would accomplish this. Of course, being a series laden with supernatural goings-on, resurrections are fairly commonplace. Still, we fans have been chomping at the bit.

Then, I found a short article at Ain't It Cool News entitled Learn How Spike Returns to Angel???. According to the article, someone got their hands on the first act for episode one of next season's Angel, and forwarded it along. My curiosity overcame my normal resistance to viewing spoilers, so I read the synopsis. I have to agree with Hercules (the staff writer) -- either this is one of the best pieces of fan fiction I've read or its real. Either way, it's bloody brilliant. Joss Whedon rocks. I am definitely going to be watching Angel this season.


Bizarre Video Game
Well, I'd like to have been a fly on the wall when they pitched this videogame. Not to dispel the power of a properly placed digit up the anus. Mooooon Riverrrrr....
Satan's Creatures
It's often been speculated what kinds of animals I prefer, specifically dogs or cats. Honestly, I like both, but I have neither. I like to travel when I choose to and have no desire to have my plans dictated by a lesser being.

Anyway, my roommate has a cat (named Kira, whom I affectionately call "Yub Yub" and disaffectionately call "Slutbag"). Cats are not nice and sweet. The difference between cats and dogs is this: if a dog sees something smaller, the dog will try to play with it; if a cat sees something smaller, the cat will try to kill it in a manner not unlike the Huns of East Asia. The cat allows me to stroke and pet (and feed) it only because it has determined that I could kill it. It clearly does not fathom why I have not done so already, for peering into those green eyes I know she's thinking "If only our roles were reversed..." Nevertheless, this is the nature of the cat, and, using some bad logic, naturally why a lot of women love them.

So, it doesn't surprise me that someone has decided to gather the most incriminatingly evil looks of cats for the internet. I love cats because they are devious, cunning, sometimes clumsy, spiteful, vengeful, and certainly slutty. Clearly, I'm a masochist.


Favorite Author Time
This morning I was greeted by a wonderful message from Amazon.com -- the notice of shipment of a pre-ordered item. Soon I will have in my clutches the new book, Fluke, Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by my favorite author, Christopher Moore. My heart goes pitter-pat with anticipation.

For those of you unfamiliar with Moore (or, perhaps, with me), Chris possess wit and talent with the pen, writing some of the funniest and coolest stories I've read. Here, below, for the first time ever, I will rank his previous works as I see fit (by favorite).

  1. Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story. (1996). Let's just dispense with the rumours right now. Yes, this happens to be my favorite book of all time. Yes, I own two copies of the book, one for lending and one for safe keeping (it was one of the best birthday gifts I ever received -- a signed copy from the author to me). Yes, the first time I read it, I was driving home from the beach (i.e., literally could not put it down). Yes, I've read passages aloud to small audiences. Yes, I seek therapy. Okay, that all aside, it's a story of the girl-next-door turned vampire and a young writer-hopeful who move in together. Moore combines a new angle on the traditional vampire genre with the awkwardness of two people getting to know each other, and it works beautifully. But when it boils down to it, I am sucker for this book because the two main characters interact with wonderful chemisty. Yeah, I'm a closet romantic, so sue me.
  2. Island of the Sequined Love Nun. (1998). Moore followed up Fiends with what most readers consider to be his best book, and it's difficult for me to disagree. Generally, if someone wants me to recommend one of his works, this is the one I'll go to first. This novel is chock full of laugh-out-loud situations, and I think it's still his best to date. For my tastes, I'll still go with Fiends because I'm a sap and I like vampire stories, but Nun is the funniest.
  3. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. (2002). This is one of the exceptions to a famous rule. You should judge this book by its cover, for it gives you a good idea of what to expect. Irreverency, wackiness, history explanations, outrageous adventures, and maybe, just maybe, a smidgeon of the truth. Well, probably not, but this is a great book for anyone who doesn't thwack themselves with a board while praying.
  4. Coyote Blue. (1995). Moore really started coming into his own with this one, laying a lot of groundwork for his best romantic book. I think I'll read it again this weekend, actually. So there.
  5. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove. (1999). While I still have quite a few strong images from this book, and it is certainly funny, it felt to me more like he was trying to outdo the level of silliness in Love Nun, foresaking any sense of grounding. Like slapstick gone awry. But hey, it's tough to follow Love Nun with anything.
  6. Practical Demonkeeping. (1993). His breakout novel, it's a good introduction to his style and work, but you can tell it was his first novel. Still, Chris' least favorite of mine is better than a lot of authors' best works out there, and recommended reading if only for introduction to the demon Catch, who makes a cameo in Lamb.
The Perks of War
If there are any for the soldiers involved, then this is surely it.