Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Now, the song "Dedication" was apparently completed by the rest of the band after bassist-singer Phil Lynott died in 1986, but it's not one of those "Free as a Bird" or anything released by Biggie or Tupac in the last decade kind of things where it's pieced together from a couple of verses and then resampled over a Bob Marley loop. No, this is a full-on, 80's style Thin Lizzy song, and it fucking rocks, albeit in an 80's kind of way. Not that it's like Poison or Motley Crue or anything, because it's played by guys who are actually good musicians (apologies to C.C. DeVille, who actually is a good guitarist and Tommy Lee who actually is a good drummer; they are merely surrounded by dunces).
Anyway, this can only be influenced by that Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal book that I've very nearly finished. I just got to the section where Nirvana is beginning to get airplay on MTV, which marked the beginning of the end for two things: Rock videos on MTV, and videos in general on MTV. So I've been going back through my old CD's and such to listen to them and figure out where and when the music might have gone bad. Personally, I draw the line where Warrant got famous, and any hair band after that just needed to go bye-bye.
A lot of people say that it's all the fucking ballads that killed rock and roll; that it was songs like "Don't Cry" and "November Rain" and "Estranged" that really put people off from ever buying another Guns 'N' Roses CD ever again (although the only one that ever came out after the Use Your Illusion albums was a cover-album named The Spaghetti Incident?). I don't think that's really true, because those videos were more popular than any of the bands' other work. Why? Chicks, and –in the case of Guns 'N' Roses– epic videos. The videos for the ballads were at least an order of magnitude better than the videos for the rock songs, and they appealed to a wider audience. Joe Elliott of Def Leppard once explained it on VH1's "Storytellers" by saying that ballads basically sell albums, and that the band wouldn't be able to put out a good rock song if there wasn't a ballad on the album, because no one would buy it.
So you've got the hair bands going the Firehouse or Mr. Big route, with everyone doing some kind of ballad, and by 1991, the metalheads have either jumped ship and cut their hair, or they're looking for something else. I mean, clearly these groups singing love songs for love, of all things, rather than Poison's not wanting nothin' but a good time, totally alienated their core audience, and the metalheads are like, "So what the fuck do we do now?" And then comes this screaming from Seattle, and over the next year, the whole musical landscape has changed. Five years after that, Kurt Cobain is dead, ska is king, and the guitar solo is totally extinct.
So what killed rock and roll? It got stale. That's all. When you have all of these bands that sound exactly alike (and Henry Rollins covered this very fact in the 2001 show I referenced in a previous post), people are just going to throw up their arms and go, "What the fuck?!" So, by that rationale, the record industry killed rock and roll by milking it for all that it was worth, and then some. Every record company had to have a hair band or two, and the record companies wanted all of them to sound like Poison and have the swagger of Motley Crue. The formulaic nature of verse-chorus-verse devolved even further by overproduction on the albums, to the point where everything sounded perfect.
Now, good production is a good thing, but at some point, the albums started sounding artificially good. These days, we just take it for granted that an album is going to be put together and tweaked in a program like Pro Tools, and that nobody gets an entire song down in one take anymore. Hell, you can't even trust the live albums anymore.
And, I think the last part, the thing that really killed rock and roll is the fact that everyone had become so pretty. I don't mean that in the Bowie-inspired, New York Dolls-throwback, makeup-wearing, gallon of Aqua Net look of Poison or some of the other groups. I mean that in the sense that it had gotten to the point where you had to look good to get on MTV, which totally influenced radio airplay. Why did guys fucking hate Kip Winger? He was too good-looking to be a rock star, and that influenced what we thought of his music. Rock stars are supposed to look like the rest of us, and that's what the years of 1991 to 1995 gave us: Flannel-wearing, scruffy-looking, everymen. And then that wore out, and so did the last gasps of rock and roll.
Let's be honest: John Mellencamp wouldn't exist in this day and age. Neither would Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, KISS, Black Sabbath, or Bob Dylan. For some of them, the music is too literate for the masses of today. For some of them, their first couple of albums didn't sell that many copies, and a label will fucking dump you if your album doesn't live up to expectations. But the common factor amongst all of them is, these guys aren't pretty; none of them. With the kind of influence that MTV (somehow, given that they don't play videos anymore) wields to this day, we wouldn't have some of the best music that history has ever given us.
So, despite my being against peer-to-peer file-sharing, I'm going to say something, and I don't think I'm being hypocritical in the least for saying it: Trade your music with friends.
Okay, see, the remaining members of the Grateful Dead got some people fairly irate because, about a month ago, they asked archive.org to pull their Grateful Dead bootlegs, which they'd always said was free to trade. Now, the issue was over recordings that were actually recorded out of the Dead's soundboards, and was officially released by the band, and the audience-made bootlegs have reportedly been returned to the site with the band's blessing. Point being, though, that peer-to-peer file-sharing is nothing like tape-trading back in the day of the Dead, or how it worked in the early-Eighties, when you'd make tapes for your friends and say, "Dude, listen to this!" and then they'd make a copy for one or five of their friends, and little-known music would eventually work its way across oceans. One of the members of the Dead said (and I agree) that the difference is back then it was community-driven, people who actually knew each other; today you don't know the color of their eyes.
So, if you've got good music that needs to be heard, ask your friends if you can send it to them through Instant Messenger or something. Don't hop on Kazaa or Limewire, or whatever the en vogue peer-to-peer program is. Burn a CD and give it to someone at work. If the band has a website with downloadable songs, point people to it. At the very least, hop on your blog and talk about it. Sing its praises, because the only way good musicians are going to survive in this day and age is by having a community behind them, seeing their shows, buying their music, and just supporting them. Especially for those musicians without record deals, there's an additional point on the most basic level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs; the level that includes food, shelter, et cetera:
Artists need validation.
Well, this is teetering right on about 1,400 words, so I'm going to stop now. Think about what I've said, though. Artists need promotion, and –given the rule of six degrees of separation– we can recommend better music to our friends than MTV can recommend to us. We are the DJ's of this new century, so look at your buddy-list; that is your audience. Get broadcasting.
My personal recommendations of the day: Nadafinga (maneuver to the downloads page; I recommend the song "Barker Style" as a starter), and Ass Plow, which is my friend Louie's project out in California. I also like Small Shiny Things, which is an eclectic group that I don't get out to see nearly often enough, and their recordings are totally homemade, but it's good music, and that's what counts.
So, start double-clicking screennames and make people aware of what you like, now.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
On a much more satisfying note, Serenity was more epic than I was expecting. Given the last episode of Buffy, I should have expected something like this, but then again, the final episode of Angel wasn't exactly satisfying. By that, I basically mean the last thirty seconds of the series. And now Angel is a sidekick on one of those, "I see dead people!" shows. Or is it one of those C.S.I. shows? Oh, wait, it's both! Yeah, that's why I'm so fucking dissatisfied with television.
Anyway. Serenity. Good movie. Go buy it. Put money in Joss Whedon's pocket, maybe he'll give you something cool in the future. I bought a couple of seasons of Buffy, and then he put out the absurdly cool Fray graphic novel, so it works!
Anyway, "Panama" just started playing on my iTunes, which means it's time for me to go, because I fucking hate the vast majority of David Lee Roth's work with Van Halen. "Hot for Teacher" is one of those songs that I love, but I fucking hate "Panama." I have no idea what the fuck it means. "Panama, Panama-uh, Panama, Panama-uh-oh-uh-oh-uh-uh." Fucking genius work, Diamond Dave; your platinum record for Skyscraper must be lost in the mail.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Sunday, December 25, 2005
In return, my parents gave me a hundred bucks (nearly enough for four box-sets tomorrow; cashing in on Warner Bros.' rebate offer), a very nifty hand-cranked LED flashlight that never needs batteries, an iKlean variety pack (which does a much better job of cleaning my laptop than the crap I've been using), and –my personal favorite– a pair of Chucks, classic black.
For those of you who either don't remember, or those who have never heard of them referred to as such, Chucks are (I feel like I'm explaining two-plus-two-equals-four) Converse All-Stars, named for Chuck Taylor, whose name is on every pair. My nephew was looking at my shoes, and he's like, "What's so special about those?" So I explained to him that I used to have a pair of them in high school, and when they'd wear out, I'd get another until I wore that pair out, and that they're a classic. "Well, why are they a classic?" I held them up over my head and asked my mother if they had these when she was my nephew's age, to which she told him yes, and he was amazed by this, because that was like a hundred years ago, by his estimation.
The best part is, the Chucks fit, unlike last year's most unfortunate "Boots!" incident, which some of you may remember, where I turned into The West Wing's Toby Ziegler for three days, walking around in a daze, only able to say the word, "Boots!" It figures that after a bad Christmas, I'd turn into a middle-aged Jewish guy.
Anyway, I'm getting paid for this day off of work, so I'd best be productive. I have to watch the last one and a half episodes of Firefly, then watch Serenity, I've got two seasons of Gilmore Girls and two seasons of The West Wing that I haven't even opened yet, the extras on the extended & uncut version of Sin City, Merhcant of Venice, Sideways, and probably a half-dozen other movies that I've watched about five minutes of before starting work on something else. And it's Christmas, which means I have to watch E.T. at some point this week, because I do that every year. The movie's over twenty years old, and I've only seen it five times, limiting myself to once a year, which keeps it from getting old.
And then, somewhere in the midst of all of this, I'm probably going to go to Denny's and sit down with a cup of coffee and finish reading Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal, which is like reading the transcript of a rather massive sort of Behind the Music: Hair Bands. Now, when I initially read the title, I thought to myself, "Oho! A book on a musical trend!" and picked it up. The down-side is that it's not so much about the musical trend of heavy metal as it's about the individual bands that made up the genre, and I see a substantial difference between the two. I think that a musical movement is like a gestalt, where the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and I don't think that the implosion of Ratt or Quiet Riot led to the end of heavy metal. I don't think that the rise of alternative music led to the end of heavy metal, seeing how all of the metalheads I knew in junior high and high school flat-out rejected Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and basically anything else that came out of the 1990's.
So, once I'm finished with that book, I'll start in on the one that strikes me as considerably more fascinating, Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America. I've always found censorship to be a very interesting subject, and I think that Granville Hicks' quote on the subject is absolutely true: "A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to."
And, in closing, the new issue of Rolling Stone with King Kong on the cover is, bar none, the very finest issue of Rolling Stone that has ever been published. It's got their collection of mavericks, rogues, and rebels of the year (including Cindy Sheehan, Kanye West, George Clooney, Billy Joe Armstrong, et cetera), and it labels 2005 as the Worst Year Ever, which is absolutely true. It's even better (and often funnier) than Al Franken's newest book, which I spent considerably more money on.
Conclusions I've come to this year:
- The patriots who founded this country were a bunch of intellectuals who decided to tell the ruling powers to fuck off.
- We need more patriots.
- My generation will save the world, provided my parents' generation doesn't destroy it first.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
First, at least it had a plot. FUNimation's biggest seller, the Dragon Ball series, basically equates to, "My kung-fu is better than your kung-fu; let's fight! AAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!" and then the speed-lines show up. Blue Gender suffers none of that, having an episodic plot that picks up at the end of the previous episode, essentially mandating the viewing of the entire series. It doesn't really at any point go about creating "filler episodes" which have nothing to do with the main story arc and do nothing more than fulfill a contractual obligation to do a certain number of episodes per season (this being my major issue with American prime-time dramas). -Good
Second, it starts out being about a whining little prick-bastard, sort of like every protagonist of nearly every Final Fantasy game ever made, as well as virtually every piece of Japanese animation that doesn't center around kung-fu, vampires, or high school girls who have to save the world from tentacles. Thankfully, he goes crazy after a while, which makes the show considerably less annoying. -Good and Bad
It's got giant robots. -Good!
They don't transform into anything. -Bad!
If you saw the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within movie (let me begin by saying I feel your pain), you understand what I'm talking about when I say that the Japanese have this thing for the notion that one day Earth is going to really fuck us over and kick us out. Unfortunately, Blue Gender ends up going that route by the end of the series, and it made me throw up a little in my mouth, just because of the similarity to the aforementioned Final Fantasy movie. -BAD!!!
It's got a catchy opening and closing theme song. -Good, because it's catchy; bad because I don't want anyone to know how much I like it.
People die and they don't come back. -Good!
It's not an ADV box set (buy me Gatchaman for Christmas!), so there aren't nearly as many nifty extras as I'd like. And, I'm sorry, but putting the voice-actors' profiles on each and every disc does not constitute having extras on every disc, because I only count those once. And the same goes for the textless opening/closing animation, which just confuses the shit out of me, anyway. -Bad.
It doesn't plumb the depths of the human condition like Evangelion did. That's not really something I can classify as bad, because it's like saying Brokeback Mountain won't be any good because it doesn't include any footage of the gay cowboys eating pudding. Actually, it's nothingn like that, but I just wanted to bring back a South Park joke that's gotta be five years old by now. Anyway, comparing everything to Evangelion tends to be a fast way to disappointment, just as some would say comparing everything to Voltron (either the lion or the vehicle version) would cause nothing but sorrow.
So, like I said, it falls somewhere in the middle. Overall, considering the price was around forty-five bucks, I'd say it was a pretty good deal; I spent a shade over three times that much buying the seven discs of the Platinum Edition of Evangelion until ADV made a box-set of it and released it for around fifty dollars. FUCK YOU, ADV!!! And then there was much the same story with Robotech, but they boxed that one up and included a few discs' worth of extras. FUCK YOU, ADV!!!
God, I hate being a slave to Nipponese animation. I end up paying out the nose for it, and why? Because they ask better questions than American filmmakers. American films are primarily made to turn a quick buck and entertain an audience, preferably having the audience leave the theater after the show with a warm, fuzzy feeling and possibly the urge to come back and see the movie again. However, at no point do American films ever make people question their existence, barring possibly the original Matrix film, which was largely inspired by Japanese films, notably Megazone 2-3.
Japanese films, and the animation even more so, have this thing about the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. If you can work a nuclear explosion into it and a dude in a rubber lizard-suit, so much the better. But the Japanese are a lot better at telling very internal stories, whereas American cinema is very external; we prefer to see the hero battling villains than battling inner demons (unless they are actually demons, whereas we'd like to watch that). And it's that kind of audience that keeps the vast majority of American cinema from ever even aspiring to be classified as art.
Seriously, how would you like it if you went to the local art-museum and all they had there were pictures of dragons holding crystal balls and dwarves holding axes; rejected covers from the latest series of Dragonlance modules? You'd fucking hate it. You'd say, "Where's the Warhol? The Picasso? The Monet?" and they'd say to you, "Americans don't want that shit; they don't like anything that requires interpretation. So we threw all of that out and now if you'll just step around that corner, we've got the new Dark Sun campaign on the walls."
Well, great. Now I've gotten on to a tangent, so I'm going to go now, before I start dissecting why it is that I like the last couple of episodes of Evangelion better than the End of Evangelion movie.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
I haven't gotten any of my Christmas shopping done yet. I have no idea what to buy for my parents, because they're hard to shop for, given the fact that they never tell me what they want, and they never use what I get them. I think that the blow-dryer that I got for my mother last year still hasn't been taken out of the box, and she even asked for that in such a way that I thought that she'd throw out the old one as soon as she got the new one. Of course, by the same coin, I haven't told my parents what I want, beyond, "Peace on earth, good will towards man." In other words, they'll be getting me a gift card or something.
I bought myself a 19-inch LCD for my desktop yesterday, after the 19" CRT monitor I'd been using for the last six years finally crapped out on me and decided that it really liked the color blue. It had been having brightness issues for quite some time, and so I was prepared for this day. So I bought this really nifty Hyundai (yes, Hyundai!) LCD that pivots on its support-arm so I can go from a landscape-style 4:3 aspect ratio to a 3:4 portrait-style aspect ratio. I haven't yet figured out what exactly I'd do with that, but something will occur to me. However, it's the answer to my question as to why anyone would ever have used the NVrotate utility in the Detonator driver set. Note to readers: A 19" screen is just overkill. Of course, if I had the extra $300 of disposable cash, I would probably have gotten the 21" Samsung that caught my eye. My room is also several degrees cooler since the monitor left; I have no idea how much power it was consuming, but my bet is probably a lot.
Here's something that I don't understand: I bought my monitor for a shade over $300, and yet people are spending twice that on 15" LCD televisions. I'm sure that, given some cables or a TV-tuner card, I could probably run television signals on my monitor, so why are people wasting so much money on smaller panels? Oh yeah, they have speakers for the sound, and the users are probably computer-illiterate.
On a 19" monitor, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 can induce some very real motion-sickness while in the first-person mode. I think that riding a virtual roller-coaster somehow messes with the human body, because you're watching this screen, and your body is getting ready for the accompanying G-forces (not to be confused with Gatchaman or Battle of the Planets), which just aren't there, causing your stomach to freak out and spew all over your keyboard. Note to self: Stop making such insane roller coasters with 200-foot nearly-vertical drops. The Magnum out at Cedar Point should not be remade in a computer game. Beyond that, though, it's a largely unremarkable game.
Ooh, I think I'm going to go play some F.E.A.R. now, as that's a fantastic game upon which enough praise cannot possibly be lavished.
Oh, and here's proof that the government is indeed spying on us: A student at U-Mass Dartmouth, writing a paper on fascism and totalitarianism, was visited by agents from the Department of Homeland Security because the student had requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's Little Red Book. The fact that I am noting this in my blog probably means that my room has already been bugged. Oh, another fact that I learned from a story on Slashdot some time ago: Aluminum-foil hats apparently do nothing to keep the satellites from reading your brain frequencies. Well, it was something like that, anyway; point being that they don't work.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
So, when do we get a big-screen version of Knight Rider? Hell, I bet David Hasselhoff would probably do the movie for peanuts, provided it could be shot between his European tour and recording a new album. I mean, how hard could this be, picking up Knight Rider twenty years later? He's got a car that talks and crashes through walls... or what we call a Hummer with OnStar.
And, speaking of great things from the 80's that we'd like to see again, we'll be wrapping up 2005 in a few weeks, calling it yet another year in which Guns 'N' Roses didn't release Chinese Democracy, which has been in the works since 1997. Axl Rose takes longer to put out an album than it takes for me to write a screenplay. Tell you what, I'll make you a deal: If and when Guns 'N' Roses puts out the album, I'll work on my script,.
Here's why: A Boeing 737, trying to land in the fucking snow, skidded off the runway at Midway airport, and then tried to merge with traffic at 55th and Central. I understand the plane was trying to get on to the Stevenson and take Lake Shore Drive up to the Gold Coast to drop off some of the first-class passengers. That last part is a joke, of course, because it was a Southwest Airlines plane, and had no first-class.
Yes, I'm mocking a plane-crash. I'm going to hell for so many other reasons, why not tack another one on the board.
And I just finished watching Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and I can't, for the life of me, figure out why so many people seem to loathe the movie. I mean, sure Angelina Jolie's hot and all, and her bosoms seem to always be just on the verge of escaping whatever skimpy top she happens to be wearing, but that's not the point; well, the entire point, anyway. It made me laugh on more occasions than most of the comedies I've been watching lately, and did I mention Angelina's bosoms? Anyway, it's directed by Doug Liman, who pretty much always does good movies (The Bourne Identity, Go, Swingers), so that probably helped matters. And bosoms.
Actually, some parts of it reminded me of my relationship with the Bozo Bucket girl; except, y'know, with guns... and bosoms.
And I'm currently doing fifty-hour weeks at work, which has been killing my blogging time, as well as my World of Warcraft time, so I'm really not a very happy camper. Not to mention half of the people I work with seem to be clinically retarded. So I'm going to spend the next hour or two playing World of Warcraft, and then it's off to bed for a wonderful seven-hour day of work, which precedes a thirteen-hour day, which precedes having to open on Sunday. Stupid retail.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
The issue at hand is, the movie just doesn't say anything. It makes no comment on society at large, falling victim to the classic event-movie blunder, which is that it was made purely for the sake of entertainment. You'd think that it would make sense that social commentary would be woven into movies with larger audiences, but the reverse is actually true. Event-films are sanitized of anything that could possibly make people think, or even think about thinking, because of the off-chance that it might offend someone so much that they wouldn't consider going to see the movie again or would refuse to buy the DVD.
So, you'd think a movie like Kingdom of Heaven would be the perfect opportunity to get a message across like, "Going to war in the Middle-East is a big fucking mistake, just like the Crusades," but no. I think that's implied around 97 minutes into the film, and it's done in a rather subtle way, which is good, because the pro-war faction of America is too fucking stupid to understand subtlety. Six minutes after that, the movie turns into the part of Three Amigos! where Steve Martin tells the city-dwellers that they can defend themselves from El Guapo.
On the other hand, I recently got a hold of a subtitled copy of Final Fantasy: Advent Children, and it's the single greatest piece of total badassery (probably my word, trademark pending) ever created. While watching it, I only said two words: "Shit" and "Fuck," both of which were uttered in complimentary manners. After I watch it another two or three times and sort through the events of Final Fantasy VII, I'll have a proper review ready.
I've also got a lengthy and largely overlooked review of Green Day's Bullet in a Bible, U2's new live DVD, and Springsteen's Born to Run 30th anniversary box-set over at That's Just Not Right, so check that out. I really wish I'd done something to break up the text a little more, because it's really rather intimidating.
I'll bring back 'teh funny' one of these days, I swear. Right now, though, I'm going to watch The Long Kiss Goodnight, which will always be Renny Harlin's best movie.
Friday, November 25, 2005
I’m looking across my room at a stack of DVD’s, particularly all of my Japanese animation, is about ready to fall over on to the spot where my laptop generally sits. A great pile of Robotech (the complete series), Evangelion, Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell (movies only, no TV show for me, thank you), and a couple of others, in a stack at least two feet tall and listing several degrees off-center.
I’ve probably got too many DVD’s. I’ve got DVD’s I haven’t even watched yet: The Life Aquatic, Sideways, Confidence, Gilmore Girls (seasons one and two; and I’m going to justify that by saying Lauren Graham is wicked hot), and probably half a dozen others. It took me two weeks to get around to watching Cursed, but I think that was pretty much because I was trying to think of all the ways it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, because I have this theory: If you think a movie’s going to suck bad enough, you’ll never be disappointed.
With regard to Cursed, I am reminded of a quote by Albert Einstein: “Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.” That said, Cursed defies description. I can attempt to say that the movie is an abomination the likes of which are rarely seen from Hollywood. “Is it, in fact, unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter day musical sins? Is it better to burn out than to fade away?” I honestly want to know how it is that this movie got the greenlight from Dimension, other than perhaps the explanation the the Weinsteins were on the way out and probably looking to sink Disney under a mighty mountain of crap. As much as I enjoyed the first two Scream films (the second more than the first, mind you), I simply don’t understand ... pretty much anything about how the film ended up the way it did.
Had to work this morning at 5:45, pushing carts until 8:00. God, that sucked. What the hell is wrong with you people, that you go out shopping on Black Friday at five in the morning or earlier? I actually watched grown men run screaming to the electronics section, like Vikings about to pillage an entire countryside. Apparently, while I wasn’t looking, there was a fistfight over an Xbox 360. I don’t know what the outcome of that one was, although I can tell you two things: Anyone who uses an Xbox 360 as a bludgeoning tool will win that contest, because that thing’s fucking heavy; and ... well, I had something else, but now I’ve lost it. It probably had something to do with the obscene rate of Xbox 360’s overheating, which will make for a very happy Hannukwanzaamas (trademark pending) for a lot of kids, since it’ll take Microsoft 10 days or so to get the machine fixed at a retail establishment, because it’s not like you’re going to be able to take it back to the store and say, “This is defective, I want a new one,” because the store’s not going to have one to give you.
Well. I’m going to read The Truth (with jokes) by Al Franken for a while, prior to going back to bed to work in ten hours. I’m not sure whether they’re going to make me cut my overtime tomorrow or not, but hopefully nobody noticed in all of the Hannukwanzaamas carnage. Tell your friends about this new multi-denominational holiday. It’s gonna be a thing, sort of like lemon-law dating.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
From Friday's Congressional Minutes:
11:31 P.M. -So, you'd think that it was a Democrat who brought up House Resolution 571, right? Seeing how they're the ones who are always talking about the war, and how the President really has to have an exit strategy for someone other than Harriet Miers (yes, she's going to be a joke in twenty years, just like Bork).
Mr. Shuster asked unanimous consent to discharge from committee and consider.
Considered by unanimous consent.
H. Res. 571:
expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
On agreeing to the resolution Failed by recorded vote: 3 - 403, 6 Present (Roll no. 608).
No, it was California Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from the 52nd district, near San Diego. In other words, it was a fucking stunt. The Republicans concoct this plan, here, to get the Democrats to look like they're supporting the war by putting forth the most goddamn ridiculously worded resolution the possibly could. According to the Washington Post:
Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) drafted a simpler resolution calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops, saying it was a fair interpretation of Murtha's intent. Members were heatedly debating a procedural rule concerning the Hunter resolution when Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) was recognized at 5:20 p.m. Schmidt won a special election in August, defeating Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, and is so new to Congress that some colleagues do not know her name.And then it got ugly. For the record, she retracted her statement from the Congressional Record after ... well, to call it a madhouse wouldn't just be a clever pun. Here's the play-by-play, also from the Washington Post:
She told colleagues that "a few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp," an Ohio legislator and Marine Corps Reserve officer. "He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."
Dozens of Democrats erupted at once, pointing angrily at Schmidt and shouting repeatedly, "Take her words down" -- the House term for retracting a statement. For a moment Schmidt tried to keep speaking, but the uproar continued and several GOP colleagues surrounded her as she sat down, looking slightly dazed. Presiding officer Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) gaveled in vain for order as Democrats continued shouting for Schmidt to take back her words. Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) yelled "You guys are pathetic!" from the far end of the Democratic section to the GOP side.No shit, one of our guys charged the other side, like it was going to erupt into violence, like the 'Vince McMahon's X-SPAN' channel from a 2001 issue of The Onion, complete with bone-crunching political coverage. For those of you who don't pay as much attention as I do, congressman Murtha said earlier in the week that we should bring home the troops "at the earliest practicable date." And it's not like the guy's a pansy or anything, seeing how he got two purple hearts as a Marine in Korea and Vietnam.
Just as matters seemed to calm a bit, Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) suddenly charged across the aisle to the GOP seats, jabbing his finger furiously at a small group of GOP members and shouting, "Say Murtha's name!" Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who had led the chants for striking Schmidt's comments, gently guided Ford by the arm back to the minority party's side.
At 5:31, when order was finally restored, Schmidt rose again and said softly, "My words were not directed at any member of the House." She asked that they "be withdrawn" from the record.
I think we should be the last country to teach Iraq democracy. We're awful at it. If you read the congressional minutes, you'll see that the majority of the actions these guys go through from day to day are tantamount to political masturbation. Here, read what happened during the last day in the House of Representatives. It's crap; complete and utter fucking garbage. These guys spend time working on laws to help people like I spend time working on my screenplay.
There are things that they work on every year in Congress that I think should just be a given. They hammer out numbers and haggle over how much money goes to this or that, and they do it with everything. There are some things that shouldn't be argued or haggled, they should just give it an absurdly high number and then just recoup what's left at the end of the year and roll it forward for the next year. I think health care for veterans should be like that. I think veterans should get the same health-care plan that members of Congress get, or vice-versa. I think that if a congressman had to go through the bullshit that a veteran has to go through for health care, they'd probably pull out their checkbooks and kick another ten or twenty billion dollars into the program.
But then again, I'm a liberal. I'm a Democrat in the heart of Denny Hastert's district, which is to say that my opinion really doesn't matter around here. But, free speech is still in operation, at least until the new Supreme Court reinterprets "free" as meaning, "without charge," so I'm perfectly within my rights to say, Republicans: That stunt you pulled today was bullshit, and I think the people who concocted it, and the people who went along with it, and the people who profited politically from it should rot in fucking Hell, you goddamn cocksuckers.
Was that too blunt?
Friday, November 04, 2005
When our children turn on the television, it's bad enough that they have to sit through the complete and utter garbage that's shoveled up to us on a nightly basis by the networks, as though they feel the overwhelming need to fulfill a sacred prophecy made many years ago by Newton Minnow; that one day all of America will turn on their televisions and realize that it's turned into a vast wasteland of media-mung. However, that our children are less than entertained by the drek that is served up to them by producers isn't enough: Their poor eyes are assaulted by depraved (sexually or otherwise) advertisements for all manner of products, from videogames to prophylactics to fast-food.
But you know what? Fuck 'em. (<----- that is my thesis statement, by the way)
Businesses have to advertise to make their way in this world. It's a simple fact. Whether they're advertising in the yellow pages or during the latest episode of Lost, the fact remains that they have to compete with other companies in their fields, and they have to carve out their niche by differentiating themselves from other products. To not advertise is to put all of your future customers in the hands of a word-of-mouth campaign, praying that at least some people who bought your product are so enthused by it that they will say to their friends, "I can't believe you're still using Product B, because Product A is so much better." Therefore, companies have to advertise in the media.
That there are companies out there whose markets are less than family-friendly is a fact. The people who make KY Jelly very likely get complaints for advertising prior to the end of The Tonight Show, courtesy of tremendously moral and law-abiding Americans who are without sin and can cast stones until the end of time, and -might I add- have no problems with lubrication and therefore would never have need of KY Jelly, therefore believing such advertisement to be a collective waste of their time, thus necessitating part of their community effort to end the visual assault that KY Jelly has put upon their children, and the children of people they don't know, but are equally at risk of having their minds sullied by such grotesque advertisements.
However, there are people who watch television, quite possibly even shows on ABC's "TGIF" lineup, who may be in need of such products as KY Jelly. In fact, statistically speaking, considering the number of families that potentially watch those shows, it's damn near likely that a large enough percentage of the audience may need such services. And, to take that statistic further, some of them may not know what brand to buy. Therefore, the KY Jelly people have a perfect opportunity to pander to an audience that's in need of their products, much like Republicans advertising on the O'Reilly factor. It's an audience that just won't say no.
So, by this rationale, the advertisers are justified in hawking their wares in any media, provided there are people listening to, reading or watching that media who may be interested in the product. To say that the KY Jelly people can't advertise during an episode of Hope & Faith is as laughable as saying that Tampax can't advertise during an episode of WWE Smackdown, because it might freak out or offend some guys who aren't comfortable with the notion of a woman's monthly cycle.
The fact is, to get people's attention, you have to dazzle them, or in some fashion set yourself apart from the competition. So, if that means that your boner-drug has to be fronted by Mike Ditka throwing a football through a tire (in what is probably the least subtle analogy they could possibly have come up with), so be it, because the alternative is showing a guy taking the drug and then engaging in graphic hardcore sex.
Which brings me to the final party involved in all of this: The Network. A television network has the right to, barring political laws involving equal-time, tell an advertiser that the network will not accept the advertiser's money, and that the network will take less money to run an advertisement from a company with a less-controversial commercial. At the same time, the network can accept that controversial advertisement and attempt to weather the storm from Brent Bozell and his Focus On The Family army (who will now attempt to get my sponsors to stop advertising on my site, despite the fact that I don't have any).
In the end, it comes down to money and necessity. The television is a sacred temple in the family home, and parents feel that there are some hours that are sacrosanct and must not be invaded by advertisements for products that might cause their children to ask questions that the parents are not prepared to answer until such time as the children are out of college. However, the networks need money, so the advertisers fit that bill. The advertisers need consumers, so they're married to the media by that respect. The consumer needs the media for the purposes of entertainment. If any one of those parties doesn't like what another one is doing, that party is within rights to say no.
It's that simple, and so it all comes back down to my thesis statement: Fuck 'em.
Time elapsed: Thirty-three minutes.
Monday, October 31, 2005
However, the wonders of DVD allow me to start the film at any point I want, and so I start watching, yes, when Kate Winslet takes her clothes off. See, this way, I skip the whole love-story thing and end up starting the movie with boobs and the rest is the greatest disaster-film in history. I mean, despite how much I loathe having to sit through the first third of the film, I won't hesitate for a moment to say that James (remember when people called him Jim?) Cameron put together one of the greatest motion pictures of all time. I mean, it won eleven Academy Awards, and I'd say it deserved ten of them; 1997's Best Picture should have gone to L.A. Confidential.
The new three-disc DVD features what is probably the best video transfer I've ever seen in my life, and I think that's probably got something to do with the fact that -for the first time in about seven years- I'm actually enjoying watching the movie. I mean, I had entirely forgotten the sheer sense of scale the final act has, like the size of people in the water compared to the massive size of the boat screws. Really, I'm getting at the point that the whole movie can be summed up for me in four words:
Boobs and special effects.
I mean, that's all any guy really needs to proclaim a motion picture to be really great. I'd have proclaimed Pearl Harbor to be the greatest film of all time if ... well, bad example. Sure, Kate Beckinsdale is really hot, but there's just something about that particular character... now Underworld Kate Beckinsdale or Van Helsing Kate Beckinsdale... even Serendipity Kate... well, you get the idea.
Now, I've always found Kate Winslet to be pretty hot, too. I mean, it doesn't really get much better (and I said 'much better' because I know what some of you guys know, too) than she was in Titanic, but I have to say that she's also pretty hot in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. A little crazy, certainly, but still wicked hot.
So that's my best explanation as to why that Crazy Asian likes the movie so much.
Now, I still maintain that I hate the denouement of the film. That very last piece of the movie where Gloria Stuart drops the diamond in the water. Now, if I was James Cameron, I'd have had Bill Paxton show up on the deck of the boat right before she drops it and...
EXT. BOAT - NIGHT
GLORIA STUART is standing on the afterdeck of the giant submarine-carrying boat. She holds the necklace, with the fucking giant blue diamond, in her hand and steps up on to one of the restraining bars. She holds the diamond over the water.
Goodbye, Leonardo. Your pixie-style hair and non-existent muscles will now make an entire generation of teenage girls swoon.
BILL PAXTON appears from out of nowhere about twenty feet behind her, holding a pistol.
BILL PAXTONI knew it! I knew you were holding out on me, you bitch!
Gloria Stuart pulls her gun, but before she can fire, Bill Paxton fires several rounds into her elderly body. The necklace flies through the air as she falls overboard. Paxton catches the diamond in the air, and blue light shines all around him, like a videogame character receiving the ultimate power-up.
Okay, I'm sorry, I just got carried away on that one. Anyway, I'm gonna go before I start rewriting the entire script from scratch.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
FEAR is still one of the best games I've ever played on the PC, in the shooter genre or not. I've yet to finish it, as work, sleep, and close examination of the game environments prevent me from whipping through it as quickly as I otherwise would. The 'VOSS' mousepads were a nice little Easter egg, so thanks, Chris. I also thoroughly enjoyed the solitary red stapler in one of the cubicles and a Chochki's phone number on a post-it note. That's right, if you've been playing FEAR and you didn't notice this stuff, you're probably the type who inexplicably liked Half-Life 2 better.
Civilization IV is scheduled to ship tomorrow, which means it should arrive at your finer gaming stores (EB Games, Gamestop, anyone who gets their deliveries via FedEx) on Tuesday, and Wednesday or Thursday for stores like Best Buy or Target (due to their centralized distribution networks). I watched some video from the game, and it looks considerably better than Civilization III, though it's a tall order for it to beat Alpha Centauri as my personal favorite in the series.
The release of the Xbox 360 is about a month away, and ... yeah, I'm not counting the days. All of the new graphics processors, CPU cores, RAM, and ... yeah, that's about all it's got on the current Xbox, because it's still launching with a regular non-HD DVD player. Oh, the controller's had the black and white buttons moved to the shoulder-position, but that doesn't change the fact that Madden 2006 on the 360 will still be fucking Madden.
Speaking of Madden, I'd just like to state for the record that the only non-licensed, non-sequel that Electronic Arts released for the PC within the last twelve months is Armies of Exigo. And people wonder why I think EA and all of their products blow. Hell, Armies of Exigo wasn't that good, but at least it didn't have eight sequels, each of which was only marginally better than the previous. In fact, I read one quote from a kid's father today, and the guy was talking about Madden 2006, and he said, "If not for free agency, I don't think these games would sell nearly as well." That's right, it's graphics and rosters, and that's it, and yet people buy the games year after year after year.
Sony is planning to sell between 2.5 and 3 million PSP's in North America over the course of the holiday season, and the company claims to have already sold 2.3 million in the region. I actually don't personally know anyone with a PSP, and so I can't see how it is that one person out of every hundred in the United States has one, let alone getting that number to one in fifty by January. Who knows, maybe it's really fucking popular in Canada, and that just throws everything off.
I watched the show Game Head on Spike (the channel, not the Buffy character, you sicko) last night, and I have to say that it's easily one of the most dreadful hours of television in the history of man. Hell, it might have been a half-hour, but I'll never know because it was as though time had stopped. I now know the type of suffering Malcolm McDowell went through in A Clockwork Orange when his eyes were clipped open, because I really like videogames, but this show was only peripherally about videogames; it was like one extremely long advertisement for two "rock" bands (in quotes because they suck and don't warrant recalling their names), only occasionally breaking up the hellish monotony of asking what a drummer thinks of Nintendogs or some such thing by saying some new game was really great. In fact, every game was really great. It wasn't even like watching G4, where they occasionally say a game sucks (their Aquaman review stands out as a high-water mark of critical journalism). I hated, hated, hated that show. Do not watch it, ever.
And in internet news, one of my friends has started up a blog, and you can (and should) read it at pantyfactory.blogspot.com
In any case, I'm going to go now and listen to my friend's radio show. More than likely while I'm doing so, I'll start writing up an Alan Greenspan-esque musing on the state of inflation in World of Warcraft for no other reason than because I can. Sure, there's about eight billion more important things I could write about, but this one requires virtually no brain-power. And then there's the little sub-article about how prices on certain items have fallen through the floor, most notably Swiftness Potions. Yeah, never mind, because you don't play it.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
So this week, I bought Black & White 2 and have been somewhat enjoying it. Like a very large number of videogames, it's my contention that the computer cheats, because I left it with virtually no population in one level, and five minutes later it had two-hundred-some soldiers. So, of course, I had George, my Unholy Cow, lay waste to them. And then the computer did it again. If there's anything I hate in videogames, it's when the computer cheats, and the only thing I hate more is jumping-puzzles. I'll actually write up a review of it at some point, but probably not here.
And earlier today, I bought F.E.A.R., which I'm not going to abbreviate with those silly periods again, because it's hard to type. So, FEAR it is, then. I've been playing it for a couple of hours, and I've got to say that I'm tremendously glad that I've got a rig capable of handling it decently. By "decent," I mean running at 1024 by 768, but unfortunately without anti-aliasing, because that's just a performance-hog that made the game nearly unplayable. However, even without anti-aliasing, the game's very pretty, runs at an acceptable framerate, and I found being able to pistol-whip bad guys is even more fun than shooting them. I'll have a more informed opinion in a couple of days, likely after I've beaten the game. Tell you this now, though: I haven't played a game this scary since Clive Barker's Undying. I mean, Doom 3 was scary because you'd wander around tight corridors, wondering when demons were going to burst out of the closet and
Speaking of Doom just a minute ago, the "film version of the game" came out today to scathing reviews, including one star from Roger Ebert. There are a couple of things that make the Doom series of games what they are:
- Must take place on Mars.
- Must involve a portal to Hell.
- Demons come from the aforementioned portal, and they are indeed demons from Hell.
In political news, Tom DeLay is on trial in Texas, and his attorney is none other than Dick DeGuerin, whose illustrious legal record includes representing David Koresh. Now, how you go from representing the leader of the biggest cult this side of Jim Jones to the former House Majority Leader, ... well, actually, it makes perfect sense.
The big celebrity news lately has been that Katie Holmes is pregnant. Please note that nowhere in that sentence did I mention the phrase, "with Tom Cruise's child." Read into that what you will, but remember that even Rock Hudson was married. So, if anyone happens to see a vertically-challenged man jumping on couches out on Fire Island sometime, make some Scientology jokes for me, such as:
How many Scientologists does it take to change a lightbulb?Yeah, it's obscure to you, but Tom Cruise would probably jump up and down on the couch like a gorilla on crystal meth, screaming, "I'll fucking kill you!"
Two: one to hold each wire, and the other to ask questions of the first until the bulb lights up.
The British intelligence agency, MI6, has gotten to the point where they just don't have enough spies, and so they've turned to the internets for applicants: "Applicants are promised foreign travel and must be resourceful and flexible, thrive on a challenge and be able to cope with stress." However, they are unfortunately not promised Aston Martins, wristwatch-lasers and babes in every corner of the world. When informed of that, the would-be applicants returned to their pornography.
Taken from Denver's ABC affiliate: A former Colorado Springs coach and teacher who masturbated in front of a Web camera for what he thought was a 13-year-old girl pleaded guilty in the case Thursday and faces up to 18 months in prison when he's sentenced.
The video was discovered by millions of teenage boys when it was accidentally mis-marked and uploaded to the internet as the "Anne Hathaway Boobie-Scene From Havoc." It is still unclear how the coach was identified so quickly.
On This Day in History, October 22, 1844: Jesus does not appear to the Millerites, thus creating the first modern quack of a preacher. According to Wikipedia, Seventh-day Adventists maintain that Christ went into the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary on October 22, 1844 to begin the investigative judgment of both righteous and wicked to see who is actually ready to go to heaven. That's right, Jesus spent 1800 years in one apartment before finding out that the paperwork was right next door. Turned out that for all of those years, He'd actually been wasting His time on Santa's naughty-and-nice list.
That's right, we don't take hostages here, and we don't play favorites. Whether you're Branch-Davidian, Scientologist or Christian, you're gonna get it here, where there continue to be: No Boobies.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Today was a fairly productive day, having seen my first theatrical exhibition since Episode III. I saw Domino, and it was like watching True Romance on acid. It is most certainly a Tony Scott film, in the Man on Fire kind of True Romance sense, as opposed to the Top Gun-slash-Days of Thunder sense, while combining the ... well, to call the editing frenetic is to understate things, if understating that particular word is even possible. I completely hated that editing style in The Bourne Supremacy, but it worked fine with Domino. It was another one of those Zoolander kind of movies where I was playing the role of Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear, where I'm the guy at the front of the theater laughing his ass off, although in this case the movie was actually funny; the rest of the audience just didn't get it.
I'll tell you this: The Jerry Springer scene is fucking hysterical. Japanic... Fucking shit-yourself hysterical. And I was the only one laughing. Of course, looking at the rest of the audience, I think that some people thought it was some kind of date-movie, the kind where the women seemed to want to go see the movie because Keira Knightley was playing a rich-girl-gone-bounty-hunter, as though it was some kind of female-empowerment movie, which it's really not. Either that, or these women were big fans of the two 90210 guys in the movie. In any case, it's pretty much a guy-movie, or maybe I'm just saying that because I spent the majority of the movie ogling Keira Knightley, as all heterosexual guys should.
Later in the week are probably trips to go see Elizabethtown, because my attendance at a Cameron Crowe movie is pretty much mandatory, and Serenity, because it's Joss Whedon, and I feel like I've been neglecting the guy, in that I haven't been picking up his X-Men comic book. As much as I liked Fray, which I highly recommend to all Buffy fans, I just don't want to go back to X-Men, because no matter how good they say it is, nothing will make up for letting Jim Lee write his own books back in the Nineties.
I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but I recommend reading Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, which is probably still thirty percent off at Borders and other reputable booksellers. I have Gaiman to thank, or perhaps blame, for singing karaoke earlier this week, and the book was a nice little read; completely lacking in the pathos that embodied American Gods. It's just a nice little book that doesn't require much by way of thinking, and occasionally bounds into Douglas Adams territory, or at the very least it gets very reminiscent of Gaiman and Terry Pratchet's book Good Omens.
Anyway, I'm going to play my new game now, and I figure I've got a couple of weeks with it before The Movies (also courtesy of Lionhead) comes out, and then I'll probably never play this game (or World of Warcraft, for that matter) ever again, because I like tycoon games, and I love movies, so I'm expecting that game to be the electronic version of crack cocaine.
Errata: I was informed by Davy that the game Life and Death, mentioned in the previous post, was a Software Toolworks production, not Mindscape. Not entirely sure what the hell I was thinking.
And, before I forget, there were two Elf Slapping tool motherfuckers spamming the General channel in Orgrimmar today, bitching every thirty seconds about getting steel lockboxes opened, as though magically a rogue would wander into town and say, "What, ho! An Elf-Slapping Tool Motherfucker is in distress and needs my assistance to open his lockbox! To my sacred duty!" I think that it goes best unsaid that the aforementioned sacred duty is getting them to shut the fuck up and prevent the ears of the rest of the players from bleeding any more. This is only the latest in many, many incidents that go to show that the Elf Slappers are a bunch of fucking tools.
Now, when I say that, "fucking tools," I think that it necessitates clarification that the stress should be on the latter word, as to put the stress on the former would be to turn them into "fucking tools," which would suggest that they are dildos, vibrators, strap-ons, (the searches I'm going to get from Google for this...) or basically any other implement that would perhaps make it easier or more interesting for them to go about partaking in their Elf Slapper circle-jerk festivals. However, it must be stated that to lump them in with any of those doohickeys would suggest that they might ever actually touch any part of another human being, outside of their Elf Slapper orgies.
Ah, how I love incurring the wrath of the Elf Slappers. I should start a whole separate blog for this.
Tonight's news briefs:
MTV has acquired iFilm, which is a website that houses a plethora of videos -some entertaining, some not so much- such as Cobra Island Rave, which is one of the entertaining ones, and I recommend you go watch that now if you haven't previously. Yes, I know that I've mentioned it more than once on this site, but it's just that damn good. Anyway, MTV's bought iFilm, which means that it's going to be fairly soon that you'll find absolutely no films whatsoever at iFilm. Thank you, MTV, for managing to ruin yet another property.
For those of you who have been keeping up with how much I'm beginning to loathe my own political party, I'm jumping ship. Oh, yes, I've pledged my undying support for a presidential candidate, and he's not a Democrat, which will thrill my friend Aaron to no end. Unfortunately for Aaron, he's not a Republican, either. No, and I haven't gone all batshit fucking loco, either, so I'm not voting for Ralph Nader. No, this is my candidate, and I will support him through the 2008 elections. I haven't been this thrilled since my pick for President back in 2000.
Crazed anti-videogame attorney Jack Thompson has gone so far with being absolutely fucking nuts that he's lost the support of America's National Institute on Media and the Family, which is the support-group for crazed loonies who think that there's too much sex and violence on television, in movies, and certainly in videogames. Now, considering the fact that the ANIMF has disavowed Jack Thompson like a rogue Mission: Impossible agent, that goes to show you how absolutely fucking bonkers he's gone, having turned into a caricature of himself, despite already being a caricature.
Civilization IV is reportedly on track to be released within the next month, along with The Movies, which is going to make for a very merry Christmas for Umgawa. Unfortunately, that means taking away from my World of Warcraft time. Perhaps I'll take a break from the game for a month or two to enjoy some single-player gaming for a while.
Steven Spielberg has signed a deal with Electronic Arts to work on developing some games. Knowing EA, I surmise this will not result in anything good, or even something remotely interesting. I think the last time Steven Spielberg took a remotely active hand in a game was The Dig, and that wasn't all that good in the first place. Of course, what the hell do I know; I couldn't even catch a fucking rat in the game with its bizarre Rube Goldberg cage-dropping scheme. Or, perhaps I disliked the game because it was written by Orson Scott Card, who has written exactly two good things in his life: Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow.
And the Chicago White Sox are now up two games to one against the Los Angeles Angels, formerly the Anaheim Angels, formerly the California Angels. One of the guys at work is a die-hard Sox fan, and I wouldn't piss on the White Sox if they were on fire, so if the Angels beat the White Sox in this series, I'm going to get him a sympathy card, have everyone at work sign it, and give him a copy of Angels in the Outfield, just to drive the point home that his team sucks.
Apparently Trauma Center: Under the Knife has been released in the States without anyone informing me. It's a Nintendo DS game in which you get to dump drunk college kids in bathtubs of ice, cut them open and harvest their... oh, wait, that's what I would have done with it. Anyway, it's a surgery game, though the screenshots and videos I've seen of it don't really look as visceral as I'd prefer, given that I remember the old Mindscape title Life and Death being occasionally fairly disgusting. What I'd much rather have is a game that uses the DS stylus as a scalpel, simply called Cadaver. Otherwise, the idea I set forth at the top of this paragraph would be pretty nice, too, although crazed motherfucker Jack Thompson will probably sue my ass for even thinking of it.
Finally, a cartel... er, consortium of videogame companies comprising the Entertainment Software Association is suing the state of California to declare its new law preventing minors from purchasing violent videogames unconstitutional. Granted, the law is unconstitutional on its face, violating free speech laws by basing a game's qualification for this honor in totally subjective terminology. Furthermore, as stated in the following, it sets an entirely impossible standard for the retailer to live up to, short of the state establishing a Game Czar:
The California Retailers Association (CRA) argues that the bill "uses phrases that require subjective interpretation, judgment, constructs, opinion, valuation, appraisal and an ability to gauge measures and norms that are not within the capability or purview of a retailer." The CRA also opines that the bill "would require retailers to individually play/view all video games they sell and make individual and independent determinations whether each game fits the criteria for 'violent'" (e.g. "what is 'patently offensive to community standards'" or to "judge a game's artistic or literary value?[or] 'interpret mental torture'").Essentially, the law as written has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese the size of the Governator's Humvee. That it's next to impossible for a company to gauge all of the requirements of the state is one thing, but the judgment of a game's artistic or literary value is the sort of thing that every free-speech case is based on. Considering that the majority of America's pornography is produced in California, I can't seem to find any legislation regulating it, beyond the general child-pornography laws under which the word obscene happens to fall, and rightfully so, due to the legal definition of obscenity, which I'll get to in a second. However, I don't believe that a game has yet been made (as much as I loathe the Grand Theft Auto series) that can qualify as being obscene, and therefore be banned on a wholesale basis by any community, because there are three tests for obscenity:
"The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be:Videogames are being placed above film, television, porn, and even this site as being the great corrupters of children, and I'm quite sure that it's not rightfully so. After all, if you want to go and sanitize the lives of the youth, make a clean sweep and try to swing that past the media, rating every film that shows someone being shot as NC-17; outlawing any television series that showed someone being roughed up; Looney Tunes cartoons would only run on Adult Swim due to its gratuitous violence, using everything from ACME rockets to anvils to pianos to fake roads into the sunset drawn on cliff walls.
(a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, Kois v. Wisconsin, supra, at 230, quoting Roth v. United States, supra, at 489;
(b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and
(c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."
Note that part (a) does employ community standards. However, all three parts must be met for a work to be deemed obscene, and part (c), as the Court has held elsewhere, is a national threshold, not a community test.
However, I do think they need regulation. The ESRB has been shown to be fallible, due to the "Hot Coffee" sequence (I refuse to call it a "mod" because the programmers put it there, whereas a mod would dictate that it was created by someone after the game's release) in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Since Take Two managed to put one over on the ESRB, we can't necessarily trust them, but we can't very well have laws put into effect that are so broad that a game like the E-rated Super Smash Bros. Melee falls into the same category as Mortal Kombat: Deception. Both involve beating the ever-loving shit out of another player, but only in the latter do you get to rip the guy's spine out.
Which brings me to the point of how influential this stuff is on the kids, and I swear I'll wrap this up after I say this: I've played a colossal number of violent videogames over the years, and I haven't killed anyone. Have I ever even tried to rip someone's spine out after seeing it done in a Mortal Kombat game? No. Have I ever tried to use the Force to lift someone into the air and choke him to death? Well, sure, but unfortunately I'm apparently not down with the midichlorians, but that's not the point. The point is that, like music, and like television, and like movie theaters, there are better ways of doing things than having the government legislate it, and it's because of pressure and totally frivolous lawsuits from Grade-A Nutjob Jack Thompson that suburban mothers are whipped into a frenzy and demand action from the government, when the private sector is already doing its job.
So I leave you today with a cartoon, because Tim Buckley over at Ctrl-Alt-Del said it about as well as anyone ever could, and I don't mean the part about the giraffes. So, go read this comic strip and think for a while about submitting my name to Governor Rod Blagojevich as the state Videogame Czar, because he's already turned me down for the position of Porn Czar. Oh, and comment away.
Friday, October 14, 2005
"I can't promise I'll try, but I'll try to try." -Bart Simpson
In any case, I'm currently downloading the last two episodes of Lost (stupid lack of italics), because I missed them during the past two weeks, and I've no idea how that happened. Oh, wait, a night of binge-drinking and karaoke floats by my brain like a car full of renegade game-show hostesses seeing the world with unclaimed parting gifts, so that explains this week, and I can't remember the week before, probably because the binge-drinking this week has managed to erase about half of my life more successfully than anything that Hollywood could concoct as plot devices for Flightplan or The Forgotten.
So anyway, because Blogger is so retarded for Firefox (and rightfully so when the only alternative is Internet Explorer, but is not the case on my Mac), I've had to put the link of the day at the top of the post because... that's right, I can't create hyperlinks, either. So this link of the day, unless you clicked on it prematurely and said, "What the fuck?" is the new expansion for the Magic: The Gathering card game. Yes, it's politically incorrect. Yes, I'm going to hell just for recommending that you look at that page. And, since my download of last week's episode of Lost should be about finished by now, here's a graphic for you to look at, courtesy of the Daily Show:
And, remember: George Bush hates black people.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
I'm in rare form tonight, which explains the exceptionally short post, which may or may not contain egrigious spelling errors. I went out with a couple of friends to a bar, which was having karaoke after the Sox game (which the Sox lost; woo-hoo!), and I sang a Commitments version of Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour." Now, the first guy to shake my hand after this event was black, and I have to wonder if he was exceptionally drunk, or perhaps was thanking me for picking a Wilson Pickett song, or perhaps I had done so well that I'd actually channeled Pickett himself. I doubt it, though, as I was channeling an Irish soul-band that happened to be covering the greats. But I was pretty fucking good at the time, so maybe that's why.
But at least the White Sox lost. I'm no fair-weather fan. In Chicago, you should pick a favorite and stick with it. At a very young age, I picked the Cubs, who haven't won a Series (as in World) since 1908. The White Sox haven't won one since 1918, which is only a decade, but -by god- I have no intention of cheering for the White Sox until such time as the Curse of the Billy Goat has been lifted. At least with the Sox's loss, I have a lot of fun to have tomorrow at work. Anyway, New York does it every year, where the citizens pick a team and they stick with it, though I have this thought that no one -even in New York- actually likes the Yankees. They're just happy to have a winning team, despite Steinbrenner's notion of sticking a salary-cap up the Major League's collective ass. Two-hundred million dollars would buy a lot of beer, as the Miller Lite sign on Sheffield would say.
Anyway, once again, Nina Gordon should have a new CD out within the next six or so months. I'm sure I said that several posts ago, but I wanted to reiterate that. Furthermore, Nada Surf should have one coming out before the holidays, and I'm sure you all know how much I dug their last album, which I would italicize, but I'm using my Mac, which means Blogger isn't being terribly cooperative.
In the meantime, I'm either busy working, sleeping, playing World of Warcraft, or watching (and I'd italicize if possible) West Wing, Smallville, or Gilmore Girls, all of which I bought the first two seasons of for $18.88 each at Tarzhay last week. Sure, I spent about $120 on DVD box-sets in a week, bu they were less than half-price; I couldn't resist. And, if any of you question why I watch Gilmore Girls, you've clearly never looked at Lauren Graham and said, "Dayamn."
And if you know how to look hard enough, you'll figure out how to find Nina Gordon singing "Straight Outta Compton," and you'll be as floored as everyone else I've sent it to. I'll put it this way: It's so pretty that the words escape you in the minute-and-forty-nine that the song takes up, and you never once realize that it's an N.W.A. song. Even her version of Skid Row's "18 and Life" is rather pretty, though not so much as "Straight Outta Compton."
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
That said, I'm completely fucking floored by the fact that Pat Buchanan was on television this morning, saying that Harriet Miers was about the most incorrect choice the Bush administration could have picked for the court. Sure, she's a staunch conservative, but she's got no judicial experience; no record on constitutional law, whatsoever; she was a lawyer for Microsoft, and argued successfully that software companies can release buggy products and then charge you for the bug fix; and she's a fucking crony, which means it would have been equally shocking to find George Bush nominating Karl Rove for the seat.
But the part that pushes this all over into Bizarro World is that fact that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid doesn't seem to have a problem with the nomination, going to show that my party has lost all of its balls. I can't fucking believe that I'm more likely to side with Pat Buchanan on an issue over any Democrat, let alone the one who's running the Senate Democrats. I've got an idea for all of the Democrats: Just lay down; lay down and let the Republicans steamroll you for yet another election, it'll be great. You're old, you're tired, you clearly have no ideas left, just give up and let the Republicans fuck up the country without you.
"I don't want to put somebody on the bench who's this way today and changes," Bush said. "That's not what I'm interested in. I'm interested in finding somebody who shares my philosophy today and will have that same philosophy 20 years from now."
That's fine, because it's rare that Republican views change, whether over 20 years or over a century or two. I'm quite sure there are a number of Republicans who really want to bring slavery back, and they're just looking for a couple of justices who will "creatively interpret" the Constitution to allow that.
I'm still fucking pissed off at Harry Reid and I want to know who it was that game that dumb bastard his job. The only person worse at this point would be Charles Schumer of New York.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Just to get us all on the same page, here, I'm going to tell you the best joke I heard about recent events. It's kind of highbrow, so if you don't get it... well, it's your loss as usual:
"Musical group The Animals would like to retract their statement. There isn't a house in New Orleans."
Yeah, nothing quite like a "House of the Rising Sun" reference to brighten everyone's day. Oh, sure, it's been a couple of weeks since Katrina And The Waves hit New Orleans, so there might actually be some people other than myself who found that to be funny; or would, if they'd ever heard the song before. By the way, I'm quite aware that I'm going to burn in hell, and I'm going to do it for a lot more than a little mockery of hurricane-stricken communities in the south.
In a stunning turn of events... well, I have to quote this directly, so no one thinks I'm taking anything out of context. George Bush, of all people, said, "Two other points I want to make is, one, we can all pitch in by using -- by being better conservers of energy. I mean, people just need to recognize that the storms have caused disruption and that if they're able to maybe not drive when they -- on a trip that's not essential, that would helpful. "
That's right. George Bush said we should conserve energy! This runs completely counter to his administration's policy of destroying the earth as quickly as humanly possible, short of a nuclear exchange (which is still an option, though). And, if you're a staunch Republican (or otherwise misguided Bush supporter) and you think energy conservation has always been part of the Bush regime... er, administration's energy agenda, let's just flash back to a press briefing from May 7, 2001:
Q Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life.
Now, I could have just cut it off at the point where Ari Fleischer said, "That's a big no," and it would have been funny and it would have been fine, but Ari just jumped in the hole and kept on digging. See, back then, the agenda was to find alternative sources of energy, and they had big hopes for nuclear (or NOOK-yuh-luhr, if you're down with the Bush administration), but that just fizzled out like a chain-reaction at Three Mile Island. So here we are, four years later, with three-dollar per gallon gas prices, which are here to stay,
Cut back to 2001, the same press conference:
Q Ari, you've sent a pretty clear signal that there doesn't seem to be anything in the short term the President is inclined to do, even if gas prices go to $3 a gallon in prices like California and the Midwest. Does that mean that he feels gas prices going to $3 a gallon would not imperil the economy, would not imperil the recovery that we may be in now?
MR. FLEISCHER: There will be things that can be done in the short term to affect conservation, for example. There will be a series of actions that can be short-term helpful to America's broader energy needs. But the focus of this program is going to be what the American people have been looking to Washington to do for so long, which is to demonstrate long-term leadership. If five or 10 years ago people in Washington had focused on these issues, the United States would not be in the position it's in today.
Here we are, four years later... still in the same position we were in back in May of 2001, completely bereft of the long-term leadership that Ari Fleischer called for, let alone whatever nonexistent energy program he was pushing. It reminds me of "the President's secret plan to fight inflation" episode of The West Wing, which I would italicize, but -again- I can't seem to figure out how to put those little icon doohickeys in my blog creation screen. I blame Windows.
In any case, I think George Bush has really turned a corner, and he'll be hugging trees on national television before the end of the year.
In other news Tom "The Hammer" DeLay has stepped down as House majority leader for conspiring to funnel illegal corporate campaign contributions into the state's 2002 legislative elections. When these charges were brought against DeLay, I think that I wasn't the only one of the American people who was actually shocked that, yes, that is against the law, and I wasn't actually living in the dystopian society of... oh, well, I still am, but except for that one part.
With a name like Tom "The Hammer" DeLay, I'm surprised he hasn't taken up professional wrestling as a side-job.
Looking over Slate.com's short-list of potential nominees to replace Sandra Day O'Connor's vacant position in the Supreme Court, we have Karen Williams, who said terrorism-suspect Zacharias Moussaoui didn't have the right to call witnesses to testify on his own behalf. Thankfully, the rest of the court decided that an individual's right to a fair trial outweighs the government's war-making and public-relations duties. And then we have Alice Batchelder, who rejected an appeal by a man whose IQ was one point above the limit for mental retardation, and then pointed to the fact that he had held a job, had a driver's license, and served in the military, which goes to show that we're really picking the cream of the crop for our armed forces.
This country is screwed, I'm telling you.