Thursday, December 29, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
10. "Maybe" by Emma. This also wins in the category of "Best Single in 2005 by a former Spice Girl." So, yes, it is that Emma. The pop/rock version sucks, but the enhanced Dance version kicks ass. And if you disagree, you can bite me.
9. "Pure Imagination" by Ford (Wonka Trance Edit). A remake of the Willie Wonka theme song that lives up to the original movie's acid-trip roots. Spacey, psychedelic, and well done.
8. "Love on My Mind" by The Freemasons (Club Mix). Features one of the most mind-jacking chorus bass lines of the year (mind-jacking would be when you can't get the song out of your mind).
7. "Every Time We Touch" by Cascada. After the nice intro set, a fully-realized (if slightly stereotypical) dance slammer. Listen to it in the car on the way into work and tell me if you don't feel slightly better when you walk in the door.
6. "Come Rain Come Shine" by Jenn Cuneta (unreleased Radio-only version). Okay, it sucks that I'm including a version of the song that you can't get anywhere. But what sucks more is that Cuneta didn't release what is obviously far and away the best remix of this song. The radio-only remix adds in the original Wings lyrics during the break down in the last quarter of the song, and features a power dissolve/resolve coming out of that same break down that should give any thinking person goose bumps, it's so perfectly done.
5. "Ride the Pain" by Juliet (Low-End Specialists Dominatrix Remix). Okay, this song is hot. And a barely-disguised double intendre sung by a lithe European. What more are you looking for?
4. "Islands" by QED (Valentine Radio Mix). QED invested more heavily in lyrics for this song than most dance artists. And the drum background is not one of the three dance beats that seems to play behind 95% of all dance songs. Indeed, it's slightly Carribean.
3. "Freek U" by Bon Garcon (Full Intention Club Mix). The most frenetic dance song of the year, and the only one that features what seems to be a blend of synthesized electric banjo and someone plucking piano strings by hand.
2. "California Dreamin'" by The Royal Gigolos (Clubhous Single). Okay, it starts with some kind of satanic incantation (anyone who has any idea what this is, post it in a message). The Royal Gigolos proceed to cut California Dreamin' up and put it together upside down and backwards. It ain't pretty no more.
1. "One Night in Bangkok" by Vinylshakerz (Vinylshakerz XXL Mix). No contest, the best dance single of the year. Vinylshakerz destroys this song in the most artistic way possible. I had a high school girlfriend who loved this song and broke up with me for absolutely no frickin' reason whatsoever. I have a strong urge to track her down and send her this song just out of spite. I also recognize that two remixes of songs from the 70s/80s top my list. Really, that's to be expected: dance thrives on slicing and dicing old songs. Cabin Crew took the process to the verge of the ludicrus with their remake of "Waiting for a Star to Fall" when they sliced the opening lyric in half and repeated the opening line approximately 100 times during their 3 minute take on the song.
So there you are, the top 10 Dance singles of 2005. Pissed that I didn't include something from Narcotic Thrust? Unhappy over the absence of "Be My World?" Don't like my tie? Write it in the comments, nancy boy.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
In this time of giving, I think we at this website are long overdue in giving a true genius the proper respect he deserves. That genius is none other than Dolemite. He fought the man. He pulled all the honeys. He had a dozen kung-fu hookers working for him. He put a Hush Puppy up the ass of any cracka who got in his way.
It's a little-known fact, but he was also a pioneer. Back in the earlier days of the internets, when someone wanted to know what a 'blumpkin' was, Dolemite hooked them up. His official website has an 'Ebonics Primer,' which predated Urban Dictionary with years to spare. Jive slang, sex terminology, it didn't matter. All that info was on his website, so all of us rat-soup eatin' honky muthafuckas could get a clue.
I know from experience that his hate for 'the man' wasn't an act. I met him at a VSDA trade show a few years back, and got a picture with him. He wasn't too happy to be posing with a white man, to say the very least. He did it though, probably because he thought I worked for some powerful company. If he'd have known I was a buyer for a business as crappy as Hastings at that time, I'd probably still be shitting Hush Puppies. Just look at what he did to these whiteys...
Now, if you've seen The Human Tornado, you might try to point out that he had sex with a white woman. True, but it was the sheriff's wife, so it was just another way to stick it to the man. Plus, when the sheriff broke down the bedroom door, and she tried to act innocent, he dropped this classic line: "Bitch, are you fo' real?" If you haven't seen The Human Tornado, for some stupid reason, then check out this good shit. There. No more stupid reasons.
And as if you need any more convincing, marinate on this: he even had an NES game made about him.
Big ups to you, Dolemite. Regardless of the color of our skin, we recognize game.
Monday, December 19, 2005
One thing that drives me nuts, if you go on Amazon.com or something like that and look at people's Best of 2005 lists is that 99% of the time, the albums they list weren't even released in 2005. A good example is The Killers album Hot Fuss. It was listed on everyone's Top Albums of 2005 list, but the damn thing was released 18 months ago. You won't see that here.
They Might Be Giants - They Got Lost
As you will see, it was a good year for bands releasing b-sides. The great thing about b-sides albums is that if you have a really stellar band, particularly one with amazing live performances, they have some very good material that isn't released on an album that you can hear only when you see them live or by spending $30 on the Japanese import with 2 songs on it. This album has some great songs like that including I am a Human Head and The Arm is Tired Now. Looking back at the last few years, which have included multiple anthologies and new material from these guys, you can learn to appreicate how much good material they've created, particularly since a more popular band like Creed can barely put together 10 songs without blood shooting from my ears. It will always astonish me that They Might Be Giants gets as little attention as they do, but that's pop culture.
Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet
Yeah, you heard me right, Slippery When Wet. I know it was originally released in 1985, but a remastered double CD edition was released in September, which means I can put it on my list for this year. This album allows you to differentiate between people who are genuine music fans and people who are pretentious assholes. Pretentious assholes will attempt to refute the genius of this rock masterwork, while pointing out that he released an album of new material (Have a Nice Day) that they think is "pretty good". Let me just say that Have a Nice Day almost made my worst albums of the year list. If Scott Stapp had died in a car wreck, it would have been on there. This may very well be Bon Jovi's only great album and it should be celebrated as such.
Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth
Earlier this year, I was listening to one of my other favorite albums of all time, NIN's Pretty Hate Machine, and was lamenting the lack of quality material from NIN as of late. Downward Spriral was Trent Reznor's last decent album. He released a double disc that was just Ok in 1999, and a live album in 2002 that was also just fair. With Teeth redeemed my faith in Reznor, and it's good without trying to be too weird, which is something that guy should talk to a psychiatrist about. Only Mike Patton can eat Doritos and make animal noises and pass that off as musical genius.
Fall Out Boy - From Under the Cork Tree
By the time you read this, commercial radio and MTV will have sucked the life out of one of the most interesting and surprising records of the year. When I heard Sugar We're Going Down the first time on the radio, I was repulsed, but I figured I would hear the song about 30 million times because radio takes mediocre music and makes you hate it intensely by putting it in "heavy rotation" (See Nickelback). Fortunately, the rest of the album is excellent. With song titles like I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me and I've Got A Dark Alley and A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song) and some decent songwriting, I have to give Fall Out Boy credit for proving my first impression completely wrong.
Deftones B-Sides and Rarities
Deftones are absolutely one of the most underappreciated bands this side of They Might Be Giants. The problem with the Deftones is that their first album, Adrenaline, was groundbreaking and completely unlike a lot of the musical turds that were floating around the pool in 1995 (The theme from Friends and Cotton Eye Joe were two of the top songs in that year, just to give you some perspective). Around the Fur was not quite as good as Adrenaline, but still awesome. After Around the Fur, the band recruited a DJ, since that seemed to be working for Limp Bizkit (see comment about LB below) at the time. Their next album, White Pony, and their Self-Titled Album continued to decline, which is difficult to avoid when your first two albums are completely awesome. This collection has a lot of good tracks from early on, as well as some acoustic tracks that any fan with a filesharing program has had for at least 5 years. But, it's still a good collection, and if the downward trend continues, was probably better than releasing a studio album at this point.
A note about Limp Bizkit: In doing some research about some of the music that came out this year, I was surprised about the quiet release of Limp Bizkit's Greatest Hitz. In my opinion, Limp Bizkit has one good (not great) album in Three Dollar Bill, Y'all. Everything after that was completely indistinguishable crap, except when Wes Borland left the band and the guitar work went completely to shit. I think bands that only have one decent album should be banned from releasing a greatest hits album. Creed and Fuel were additional examples of bands that have no businesss releasing Greatest Hits albums, because of their lack of hits.
I saw that the fat man posted his Top Ten of 2005 yesterday, so I thought I'd do the same, but with a little less pretentiousness. This list might change in a few months, as there are still plenty of films this year that I haven't seen (Syriana, Jesus is Magic, King Kong, Dukes of Hazzard). There were also a lot of really good films that didn't make the list: Murderball, Mysterious Skin, March of the Penguins, and some other films that don't start with the letter 'M'. Also, this list is based on films that were released theatrically in the U.S. in 2005, so while one of these films was released first overseas, and I saw it last year, I'm still counting it on this list.
Enough talking, let's do this!
10) The Weather Man. Just when I going to give up on mid-life crisis movies, this one came from out of nowhere and surprised me. Cage actually stops mugging for a couple of hours, and makes the most of the role. A sad film, but not a depressing one. And I'll never watch the morning weather reports the same way again. Oh, and one more thing. "Cameltoe."
9) Serenity. This one was the most fun I had at the movies in 2005, and I don't give half a shit about Joss Wheedon or his flock of Browncoats. It's funny, it's action-packed, it has fight scenes that are well-edited (which apparently is asking for a lot nowadays), and has the best pacing of any film I saw all year. Don't let the mish-mash DVD artwork or the lack of a triple-A star keep you from giving it a try.
8) Grizzly Man. One of the best 'car-wreck' documentaries I've seen in a long time. Timothy Treadwell became my hero and my biggest annoyance at the same time. He proved that 'brave' ain't that far from 'stupid.' Herzog's place in the film is a welcome addition to the story.
7) Appleseed. Confession: I'm not the biggest anime fan (although the original Ghost in the Shell is one of my all-time favorites). If you're like me, the sci-fi story in this one won't win you over. However, the animation in this film is stunning, and hopefully will start a revolution in the industry. They used motion-capture for all of the characters, and it looks life-like without creeping you out (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, anyone?) Disclaimer: If you don't have an HDTV and a 5.1 surround sound system, either don't buy this one, or upgrade your setup, for god's sake!
6) The Devil's Rejects. What a difference one film makes. Rob Zombie made me forget all about his first film with this great ode to 70's exploitation horror. He must've learned a lot while making House of 1000 Corpses, because this one is 1000 times better. More humor, more action, better editing, better use of music, and most of all, he made me like William Forsythe. Many of his lines in the film will undoubtedly be showing up as samples on death metal albums in the near future, especially his 'We are playing on a level that most will never see' speech.
5) Jarhead. Truffaut once said that it's impossible to make an anti-war film, because the action scenes argue against themselves. Sam Mendes has proven him wrong, not by reinventing the action scenes, but in that this film has no real action scenes. However, don't let that hold you from seeing it, as it is extremely well-paced and the performances are solid all-around.
4) Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. If this film doesn't piss you off, you weren't paying attention. Some of the phone conversations in this film literally had my jaw hanging towards the floor. And the DVD comes out on the same day that Kenneth Lay's trial begins! I hope he gets what he has coming to him: A cell with a seven-foot linebacker named 'Rapist.'
3) The 40-Year-Old Virgin. "You know how I know you're gay? You haven't bought this film yet!" Seriously though, what a great comedy. It's vulgar, but has a heart of gold. It's a guy flick, but not one that will bore or offend women. It also doesn't stoop down to the typical third-act dumbing-down that most recent comedies resort to (Wedding Crashers, I'm talking to you!). If you liked Old School, run out buy this one immediately. And for god's sake, throw out those Asia records.
2) Hustle & Flow. A Memphis pimp's mid-life crisis turns into a chance at making it in the rap music industry. Terrence Howard should get a Best Actor Oscar nomination for this performance, although I doubt it will happen, as the film was released too long ago for most dim-witted Oscar voters to remember it. His portrayal of D-Jay is subtle and unforgettable, and some of the nuances in it come out on repeated viewings. And Anthony Anderson is surprisingly good in it as well, so I will no longer refer to him as 'that guy who was with the kid from Stand By Me in Kangaroo Jack.' And you also don't have to like rap music to appreciate this film, although it definitely helps if you do.
1) Oldboy. An ultraviolent masterpiece. It does what all great films do. It challenges. It shocks. It shows you things you've never seen before. For me, it did all that and more. It borrows from 'The Count of Monte Cristo,' Tarantino, Peckinpah, and Miike, and makes something completely fresh and innovative out of all of them. It took second place at last year's Cannes Film Festival, and had it not been an election year, it probably would've beaten Fahrenheit 9/11. See this film, or the squid gets it. Again.
So that's my list. Hopefully you agree with some of them. If not, let the name-calling begin!
Friday, December 16, 2005
About a month before his tour was over, he wrote an e-mail that brilliantly summed up the entire situation. It got forwarded around to a large circle of friends and coworkers, and regardless of people's political slants, it was well-received to say the very least. After one of us in the drinking party mentioned the e-mail, and complimented him on it, someone mentioned this blog, and that it would be a good read for anyone here. He told me that I could post it, so I thought I'd share it with all of you. It puts a personal touch on what the media has portrayed to be a very impersonal war.
It has been an incredibly long time since this whole thing started and email is a very poor medium to discuss what I have seen, done and feel but oh well.
I am about 34-37 days from getting on a plane and going home. I am currently on what I hope is my last trip into Iraq. I went home for R and R in early June and since I arrived back in theater around the 27th of June, I have been on the road nearly non-stop.
This place does strange things to the mind. I have become a superstitious person, I wear the same 2 uniforms and the same boots over and over again I guess I figure that since I haven't died wearing them yet, they must work.
Most other facets of life also have the same stamp of ritual which is both mundane and bizarre at the same time. I wonder if part of my reluctance to email updates is related to my superstition about not discussing anything bad or good here so I dont 'jinx' myself? I guess I will find out now.
I am constantly reminded that the conventional wisdom here is that most soldiers die in the first few weeks or the last few weeks they are here. This is attributed to inexperience in the beginning and distractions in the final few weeks. This is reinforced by the recent death of 7 soldiers in our battalion (all recent arrivals) in the last month in three separate incidences. Three of these soldiers burned to death in a horrible accident - may God give them the peace that escaped them in their final moments. The only (only?) 2 deaths on missions for our platoon involved third parties and both casualties ironically were individuals on their last trip in Iraq before going home. How incredibly tragic to go through all of this and then not make it home.
Personally, I laughed loudly the first time I was shot at - on Valentines Day. However, the humor of that day has escaped me the past few months and has been replace by a low grade fear I would most compare to the sensation of a bruise. Not a sharp pain but constant and subtle, one of the reliable reminders that bad things happen here.
This fear typically reaches a crescendo during our safety brief before we leave Scania, the last stop before Baghdad each mission. Recently, a typical briefing on activity the previous 24 hours sounds something like this; "Small arms fire at 3Alpha, 5 Alpha, 7 Alpha, 8 Alpha, 11 Alpha, 20 Alpha, 21 Alpha, 24 Alpha, 25 Alpha, 28 Alpha, 30 Alpha, and 35 Alpha. IEDs at 7 Alpha, 11 Alpha, 18 Alpha, 19 Alpha, 20 Alpha, 21 Alpha, 28 Alpha, 30 Alpha, 32 Alpha and 39 Alpha. A blocked ambush at 20 Alpha. Be alert, any questions?". Each numeric location corresponds to a landmark which is typically an overpass or bridge. My fantasy response is "Cocktails anyone?" It is strange but when we are actually driving the fear gives way to excitement and boredom depending on the night.
We generally carry new soldiers' equipment into Iraq and because of our vehicle design we are usually the soldiers responsible for taking battle damaged vehicles back to Kuwait for destruction or refurbishing. I have seen enough M1 Tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles cracked open like eggs to know that the light armor on our trucks would do very little to save us in the wrong circumstance. In fact, a month after the cab of our truck was armored, we hauled back a HET identical to our own with the identical armored cab that had been destroyed by an IED. I understand neither occupant survived.
I carry the strange guilt with me everyday that I have yet to actually fire a single round at the enemy although we have taken fire many times. The rules of engagement are such that it hasn't made sense for return fire and when we are attacked using IEDs there is almost never a target identified to shoot at anyway. I dont have a burning desire to kill a person but I definitely want to shoot at someone. I wonder what that means?
I have essentially given up trying to find IEDs as we drive. This country is a trashpit and who is to say what box or brush or hole hides explosives until you see the blinding flash. I have also given up finding answers to the hundreds of questions that pass through my mind during the dull and boring drives day after day. But this doesnt keep me from continuing to run them through my mind.
I have lost the ability to identify anything in life in terms of black and white, it seems like only shades of grey are visible anymore. The irony of a National Guard full of patriots but led by incompetents is a daily frustration. I hate AAFES - the closest thing to the company store of the past that remains in contemporary America. I miss using my brain.
My E7 Platoon Sargeant (leads a platoon of 60 soldiers) is a janitor in the civilian world but in this alternate realityof the military he is qualified to be responsible for 60 lives? Who is he talking to when he walks by himself (not kidding)?
We ridicule the 1/3 of our unit that has never been to Iraq and we are in turn ridiculed by the combat arms soldiers for only driving trucks. We drive $500,000 vehicles designed for anything but yet they break down regularly on modern highways.
The people here are the same as in America - they want a good life for their families. In my opinion, Muslims are generally more pious and genuine about their religion than Americans of any faith.
MREs are the biggest enemy in Iraq and the most hated. Are the lives of the 2,000 Americans lost in this war worth the stopping a despot who has killed over 500,000 of his own citizens. If not, would those 2,000 be worth 750,000? What is the current exchange rate of American lives for those in a third world country? Will I have a different answer when my own sons are over 18 years old?
If Iraqis want to have a tribal government system - is that OK? Who decides?
If a parent doesnt plan for their childs education and that child joins the military to pay for college - is the parent responsible if they die in war or is the government? Is it imperative to assign blame?
Why are we giving out so damn many medals and ribbons to soldiers who come over here? Are they more deserving than veterans of Vietnam or any other previous conflict?
Are we here for oil and if we are does it really matter - after all oil is the center of our energy and economic requirements? If we fail to secure enough oil as a country - is it morally acceptable to go to war to fill our SUVs (driven by liberal and conservative alike)? Would Americans be willing to live in smaller houses and drive compact cars to save the 2,000 lives lost in Iraq if this is truly a war about oil?
After a rambling long-winded email, I guess at the end of the day the big question is what does being here mean to me? A lot and nothing.
What does it mean to Americans that we are here on their behalf? A lot and nothing.
Sorry, no hoorah ending. War sucks."
Starting with -
Madonna - Confessions on a Dance Floor
I am still mad at Madonna since she ruined Guy Ritchie. One of the most promising directors in recent memory released two absolutely solid films Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000). Shortly after the release of Snatch, he meets Slutty McGee, and features her in his next film, Swept Away, which did not involve any killing, guys named Big Chris, or bullet-time action. But, that's not the only reason this makes my list for the crapiest albums of the year. I didn't like Madonna when her music was Top 40, so needless to say, this techno shit is one of the worst albums of the year, hands down.
Nickelback - All the Right Reasons
When Nickelback released their debut album, Silver Side Up, they were merely Ok to start with. The song How I Really Am from that album, got overplayed to the point where my fat dyke college boss, whose entire CD collection consisted of those Sounds of Thunder and Lightning discs you can pick up at Bed Bath and Beyond, sang that song at work all the time. That's not Nickelback's fault, but this most recent album absolutely is their fault. The bands gone soft, and when you weren't that hard or good to begin with, this is what happens.
Lifehouse - Lifehouse (Obviously Self-titled)
Bands often come along where you're like "Man, they suck so bad, at least they're music is so boring and crappy that they'll NEVER be able to release a sophmore effort." Lifehouse was that band 5 years ago. Fast forward to right now, this self-titled piece of dogshit is now their third attempt to release the same radio-friendly experiment in boredom under a different title. Unlike Madonna, who sucks because she took her music to new places that it never should have gone, Lifehouse is guilty of counting on that endless supply of 14 year-old suburban whores to purchase the same shit year after year.
Rob Thomas - Something to Be
If it wouldn't have been for another former lead singer of one of the worst bands of all time releasing a solo album this year, Something to Be would have taken the poop cake. Even the songs from this album they play on the radio are totally weak. I can hear all the Rob Thomas afficianados out there saying "Ryan, you haven't heard the REST of the album." And to them I say "You're correct. I haven't." But just like you don't have to eat a piece of crap to know that it tastes bad, I don't have to waste my time with derived filler that is only popular because he used to be the lead singer of a crappy band. NEXT!
Scott Stapp - The Great Divide
Take one of the worst bands of all time with one of the most egomaniacal lead singers ever to pick up a mic and give him his own solo record. Not only is the music on this album worse than anything Creed managed to release, but it gets my nod for the worst album of the year. Creed was easily one of the lamest bands ever, and the biggest single downfall of the band, aside from their formulaic music and lyrics that sound like they were written by mormans, was Scott Stapp's ironic view of himself as a rock messiah. It's ironic because he the farthest thing from a good musician or artist. Don't believe me, listen to this album, and then we can talk about it.
There were numerous others that could have been listed here, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a whole subsection of readers who think I'm entirely too negative, so to give those assholes the brush off, I will be making a list of the BEST albums of this year, so that you can berate my love for Neil Diamond.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
SEDER: Listen, as far as the war on Christmas goes, I feel like we should be waging a war on Christmas. I mean, I believe that Christmas, it's almost proven that Christmas has nuclear weapons, can be an imminent threat to this country, that they have operative ties with terrorists and I believe that we should sacrifice thousands of American lives in pursuit of this war on Christmas. And hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money.
PHILLIPS: Is it a war on Christmas, a war Christians, a war on over-political correctness or just a lot of people with way too much time on their hands?
SEDER: I would say probably, if I was to be serious about it, too much time on their hands, but I'd like to get back to the operational ties between Santa Claus and al Qaeda.
PHILLIPS: I don't think that exists. Bob? Help me out here.
SEDER: We have intelligence, we have intelligence.
PHILLIPS: You have intel. Where exactly does your intel come from?
SEDER: Well, we have tortured an elf and it's actually how we got the same information from Al Libbi. It's exactly the same way the Bush administration got this info about the operational ties between al Qaeda and Saddam.
PHILLIPS: Okay, Bob Knight, Sam is tying in now the lack of information regarding weapons of mass destruction and somehow moving that into Santa Claus. Help me out here. What's going on? Is this a war on Christians, a war on Christmas? Is this too much political correctness?
BOB KNIGHT, CULTURE AND FAMILY INSTITUTE: Well, first I want to compliment him on his dry humor, but this is actually a very serious subject, because a lot of people are waking up to realize that the war on Christmas is really the culmination of a war on faith and the idea that the public square has to be cleansed of any religious expression, particularly Christian religious expression. At one time "happy holidays" was a welcome addition to "Merry Christmas," so you wouldn't say the same thing over and over again, but a lot of people now see it as a substitute, and it's very gratuitous at times. And it's actually insulting when you're talking about Christmas day or a Christmas tree and you can't bring yourself to use the word for fear of offending someone. In the name of diversity we're a less free country when that happens.
PHILLIPS: It's interesting, Sam, because this is a time where, if anything, we want to be even more sensitive to diversity considering everything that's happening with regard to war on terror, we're learning so much more about different religions, different ethnicities and trying to become more of one, versus being segregated.
KNIGHT: Yes, well, Kyra, I mean, listen, I would like Bob to tell me who is the person who has been offended by someone saying Merry Christmas to them? I've never met that person. I don't celebrate Christmas. But if someone says "Merry Christmas" to me, I either think, well, it's a little bit odd, it's like me saying happy birthday to you on my birthday, but no one cares. But I will tell you this, as we wage the war on the war on the war on the war on Christmas on our radio show. News Corp., Fox News, those people who have started this entire war on Christmas mean, fake war, they're having a holiday party. President Bush saying "Happy Holidays." Tokyo Rose, Laura Bush, saying "Happy Holidays" to her dogs in the video, I'm sure you've seen it. I mean, these are the things that we should be talking about when we are waging this war in Iraq, we should be equating it to the war on Christmas.What else would Bob Knight have an opportunity to do, how else would he get on television if he wasn't pretending to be attacked.
KNIGHT: This would be funny except it is serious to a lot of people who have seen their faith cleansed from the public square systemically.
SEDER: Are you suggesting, Bob, that someone can't celebrate Christmas in America? Tell me about the person who can escape the celebration.
It gets better from there.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Arnold denied clemency for Tookie Williams this afternoon, which means that Williams will die by lethal injection shortly after midnight. I keep hoping that Arnold will get caught saying something like "My role in Kindergarten Cop never prepared me to have to make a decision like this" or something along those lines. That would be classic.
My disagreement with the death penalty is well-documented on this website. I get a lot of crap from people about it as well. Here's an example:
RTAM, I like your website, although I don't agree with much that you say. You are quite funny at times. How can you be pro-choice about abortion and against the death penalty though? I can't understand this viewpoint. Dave
Dave, it's really quite simple. I hate babies. I think they're annoying. They cry a lot, and shit themselves and cry some more. After 10 minutes with a baby, everybody starts thinking about abortions. And although this RTAM thing has started to catch on, I am not sure I like it, as it might give people the false impression that I am a robot, and not human, which is absolutely false.
In reality, my being pro-choice on abortion is simple. I am pro-life, but I don't feel like just because I feel a certain way about abortion, that should mean people, regardles of the circumstances should not be allowed to have one. You see, I'll admit that I don't know what's best for anyone but me. It's a simple as that.
The death penalty is a little more complicated. I don't object to the idea of killing people who commit crimes. There's not a lot of evidence to suggest that the death penalty is much of a deterrent, since killers and the like don't exactly sit down and reason it out like " I would kill that asshole, but I might get the death penalty." If you've reached the "I'm gonna kill that guy." stage, there are very few deterrents at that point.
The problem with the death penalty is that we don't do it fairly. Whether or not you get the death penalty is largely dependent on your socioeconomic status, your race and the race of your victim. Blacks who kill whites get the chair about twenty times more often than whites who kill blacks.
If we're going to do this whole death penalty thing, it needs to be everybody who commits a murder or no body. Not just poor people who can't afford OJ Simpson legal team.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Dear Santa Claus,
How's it going? It's been a very long time since my last letter. Last time I wrote you, I was living in Wyoming in that red house, and I was asking for Final Fantasy for Nintendo (the original) and RBI Baseball. Thanks for the hook-up there, by the way. Lately there have been some things that I want that I was hoping you could help me with:
1) A new President of the United States - Our current President is a greedy liar. Back in the day, you used to give kids coal in their stockings for crap like he pulls. I'm not saying I want John Kerry as his replacement either, but that Mark Warner guy from Virginia might be a good possibility.
2) Deport the religious right wing of the Republican Party - I think people should practice whatever religion they want or have the right not to practice any religion at all. The minute the religious right think that everyone else is the damned or start trying to make it the official religion of Super Bowl XL, that's where I draw the line. You want control of a government, go invade France and start your own there.
3) Congressmen and Congresswomen should receive a severe beating for using the word bi-partisan or bi-paritsanship. It's been a long time on Capitol Hill since anything has qualified as such.
4) End the Death Penalty - Unless we're going to start executing everyone who commits murder, we're not going to be able to do it fairly or justly. "But Ryan, then we might kill innocent people." You mean like we do already? The only difference would be that we'd be killing more innocent white people, instead of just the poor black innocent people.
5) Eliminate check writing - Everyone has access to debit cards. There is not a single business left in the world that takes checks, but does not take cards. WHY IN GOD'S NAME DO PEOPLE STILL WRITE FUCKING CHECKS, aside from the obvious entertainment value in making me very irate while in the line at Target.
6) A lump of coal (or a turd, if coal is too expensive) for Bill O'Reilly - O'Reilly and the President are both liars, but O'Reilly is a smug liar who has complete knowledge that what he says is complete bullshit. He even gloats about how people accept his lies.
7) Call of Duty 2 for Xbox 360.
8) Public support for the poor - It's 7 degrees right now in Omaha, and there are people without a place to live. Santa, can you find a place for them to live or employ them to make toys at the North Pole?
9) More new episodes of Family Guy - I realize that it's on TBS, Cartoon Network and Fox, but I could use a few more episodes a day and more new episodes. It's not like Lifetime has a lot of great crap on during the day.
10) Bring home the troops - If I read one more letter to the editor, blog, or pundit's opinion about what a huge mistake we would be making if we brought the troops home from Iraq, I am going to shoot fireballs out of my ass. There is nothing magical that keeping the troops in Iraq for another 3 years will accomplish. More time will not end a century old civil war, and it will certainly not end the animosity among Muslims that fuels terrorism. Al Quada wasn't in Iraq until we invaded it. We need to focus on making the US more secure and having realistic responses to terrorist threats. No bigger lie is being told to the American people than "If we leave Iraq now, you're all going to die in a terrorist attack." If you die in a terrorist attack on American soil, you can bet your red, white and blue ass that it will be because we've squandered billions of dollars that could have been spent making ourselves more secure, not because we left Iraq too soon. The faster we get out, the faster we can accept that the entire operation has been built on lies from day one.
I think that's about it, Santa. If you're a conservative Republican, I'm sure you were pissed off before you finished the first one. Then again, no Republican I know would work year around purely to support the good deeds of other people without making a penny of profit. And you would berate the poor for not working hard enough. And call yourself compassionate despite berating the poor. And talk about freedom, while telling women what medical procedures they can and cannot receive. Maybe I just need some medication....
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
They're saying that most of downtown Dallas will probably be shut down tomorrow morning, because .... we're supposed to get ONE TO TWO INCHES OF SNOW tonight!!! Now, I don't want to turn this into a 'I used to walk uphill both ways to school' story, but I grew up in North Dakota. One to two inches of snow was considered a drought. A reprieve. Granted, we had the snowplows up there to deal with it, and I'd bet that Jamestown has almost as many snowplows as the entire D/FW metroplex, but still .... one to two inches of snow? And business shuts down entirely?
My Xbox 360 is gonna be smoking from overuse tomorrow!
Texas, I may not like your politics, or your big-haired women, but I love your paper-thin skin.
in trying to please and appease the religious right wing of the American political system is that you're not dealing with reasonable, forgiving people. If you don't always do exactly what they want, you will go to hell or get eaten by alligators. Just like in college when you slept with that girl you met one lonely night at the bar, George Bush is paying the consequences of getting into bed with the wrong people.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Everywhere you look, fundamentalist (apparently another word for “fake”) Christians are hammering away at the need to recognize this as the “Christmas” season. These joyless individuals have apparently gotten their lives entirely squared away, so that now, the most pressing thing they can think about is how offended they are when they hear people call this the “Holiday Season”. But my favorite Christmas reveler (well, not really reveler, I guess: I’ve never seen a fundamentalist Christian revel, or even be all that happy. Probably because lynching has been outlawed.) is the smug little person who tells me to “remember the reason for the season.” And since I must restrain from physically bitch-smacking these people, I am writing to deliver my best rhetorical bitch-smack.
Not only is Jesus NOT the reason for the season, heathen pagans
As anyone who has ever watched the Charlie Brown Christmas Special knows, on the night Jesus was born, “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” Luke 2:8. December in Israel/Judea is not pleasant. Bitter cold, snow, ice, and freezing rain are the order of the day. Sheep are kept in warm, protected folds and shepherds return every night to their huts to sleep in (relative) warmth. More importantly, shepherds don’t have their sheep feed at night in December, which is what the sheep were doing on the night Jesus was born (hence the need for the shepherds to be watching over them). Additionally, we know that Jesus’ birth coincided with the taking of a census for tax purposes (Luke 2:1). In ancient times, as today, taxes were collected in the late spring, and for a simple reason: taxes were commonly paid in grain or livestock. Not even the greediest king (except maybe Bush II) would collect taxes, in the form of foodstuffs, before winter for fear of starving his subjects. Nor does it make sense to collect these taxes until grain has been used for sowing the next year’s crop. Finally, for those who pay their taxes in livestock, it makes sense to let the next year’s birth take place before collecting the animal. In this way, the king was collect tax only on surplussage: a portion of grain or animals that were not needed by the family to survive.
Because ancient Christians were smarter than modern fundies, for the first 353 years after Jesus died, his birth was celebrated by Christians in April. In April in Israel/Judea, sheep are indeed kept outside at night, and shepherds may well watch over the flocks at night because lambs are being born. April would also be an appropriate month to take a tax census, with an eye towards collecting taxes in May or June. Then, in 354 A.D., Pope Gregory declared that Jesus was born on December 25, and that the church would henceforward celebrate his birth on that day. Many Christians refused to do so, and continued to celebrate Jesus’ birth in April. The church called them “April’s fools” (really!). Now, the Catholic Church (although it didn’t have that name at that time) is like any other large organization: it is resistant to change. So, one would legitimately wonder, why would the church take such an important step as changing the date of the birth of their savior? The answer lies in another characteristic of large organizations: the desire to expand.
In 354 A.D., just like today, Christianity was not the only game in town. A significant number of Roman citizens celebrated one (or more) of a diverse number of religious faiths. The official Roman religion celebrated a panopoly of gods (which was blatently stolen from the Greek religious system, but the winners right the history books). The grandfather of their gods was a god named Saturn. On the winter solstice (December 23), worshippers of Saturn would gather to celebrate the festival of Saturn. Other Romans worshipped Mithra, a god who was also born on the winter solstice. Indeed, ancient religious are positively chock-a-block full of gods born on the winter solstice, including Osiris, Horus, Jupiter, Tammuz, and Baccus. Pre-354 A.D., one can only imagine how newly-minted Christians would look longingly out their windows on December 23, watching all their pagan friends partying and having a good time. Christians needed a recruiting tool.
But Christians, then as now, were more devious still. They didn’t just move their festival to coincide with all the other winter solstice festivals. No, they ingrained the new festival in their recruiting: “See, look: your god was born right around this time, and so was ours. They’re really the same god. Except, if you don’t worship god the way we say, you’ll burn in a lake of molten fire forever. So, can we count you in?” Not surprisingly, pagans found this to be a fairly convincing recruiting speech. And the rest, as they say, is history.
But, before we go, one more fun fact from the world of ancient religion. The Babylonian god Nimrod would leave gifts under evergreen trees for people on winter solstice, to celebrate the birth of Tammuz, another Babylonian god. In ancient