We're celebrating Cecilia's third birthday party today (her actual birthday is tomorrow). Last night we had the babysitter over so Crystal and I could dash out and buy her birthday presents. While out, I bought a couple of DVDs in anticipation of a check I'll get for a book review I wrote a month or two back. I picked up Our Man Flint and The Poseidon Adventure for about ten bucks each! The Poseidon Adventure, besides being one of the flicks that kicked off the '70s Irwin Allen disaster movie trend and a Bad Movie in that enjoyable way, is the very first movie I remember seeing. My parents saw it at a drive-in in Columbus, Ohio (I think) and I stayed up to see the wave hit the ship. I remember it seeming a looong time, but really the film disposes of its first act with remarkable efficiency; it's only 20 or 25 minutes before disaster strikes.
I have a couple of things on deck for today, but I don't know if I'll get to them, with the party and all.
BoingBoing describes what it calls "a deeply swanky cocktail accessory," the Shot Steward. It's a turntable that holds liqor bottles and measures out precice one-ounce shots. Notice that there's a bottle of Maker's Mark front and center in the picture--that's pretty darn swank, too.
This is keen! A random word generator will return a list of letter combinations that "don't have any meaning are reasonably syntatically correct." The app appratently analyzed the frequency of pairs of letters in 45,402 different words.
I'm not really following the race, but I gather that Davis is doing quite well. Could this jibe--hip and irreverent but easilly dismissed as any sort of cogent political argument--be an indication that Simon realizes he's toast and simply wants to make Davis's life as difficult as possible?
Global News Watch has an interesting piece about CNN anchors repeatedly trying to lead interview subjects into saying something disparaging about Bruce Springsteen over his new (and brilliant) album The Rising, on the grounds that its songs--many of which were inspired by the aftermath of Sept. 11--are somehow "exploiting the 9/11 tragedy." Especially interesting is that the interviewees repeatedly declined to badmouth the Boss; indeed, Suzanne Berger, the widow of a terrorist victim went out of her way to point out how Springsteen reached out to her and her children the second time the same anchor, Daryn Kagan, tried it:
Actually he took us backstage in his Christmas concert, and my boys presented him with a picture of themselves...And he was very moved by that. It was a picture on something we called "Hero Hill," the place I took the boys to tell them that their father was not coming home. And Bruce hugged them, and he said, "Boys, I'm going to put this up in my studio to help inspire me in my future CDs." And then he brought them -- he brought them on stage...to do "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." And it was quite a moment for them and for me to watch that. And I just know how much that would have meant to my husband.
Now get a load of how Kagan responds, and how Berger, who is not a highly paid idiot, shuts him down, as the Boss would say:
KAGAN: It sounds like you are really touched by all of these moves. What would you say to people who say, Bruce Springsteen didn't lose a single person on 9/11, and he's just exploiting that pain and what was lost on that day?
BERGER: No. it's not -- he did not exploit anything. He presented a human and side, like I said, he did not have to step down from his celebrity role and do what he did for me and for my boys and for the Berger family. We are still grieving, and this is still a reminder 24/7, we do not forget September 11. And I think what he did now is bring it into the public eye again. We can't forget these heroes. All of them were heroes, anyone that was involved in September 11, and I credit him. I think he is, too, a hero for being the compassionate person that he is and for allowing America to come back in again and to grieve along with us, the families, and to be there as they've been there for us since September 11.
Dig that: "What would you say to people who say, Bruce Springsteen didn't lose a single person on 9/11, and he's just exploiting that pain..." As Global News Watch points out, I'm not aware of anyone saying that except for journalists trying to make hay.
Springsteen also (as far as I know) has never been forced to marry a teenage girl he's impregnated ("The River"), been emotionally scarred by Vietnam ("Born in the USA"), worked in a steel mill ("Youngstown"), been a cop ("Hightway Patrolman"), or been imprisoned on a work gang (Workin' on the Highway"). Springsteen's music is uniquely empathetic. One element I'm constantly hearing in descriptions of his music--and I can attest to it myself--is how Springsteen seems to be describing someone, or a precise situation or emotion they've experienced. That's Springsteen's gift, and his genius, and he does not need permission from the media, which is apparently planning a major 9/11 commemoration, to describe what he sees and feels too.
Cut on the Bias has a long post about those supermarket discount cards and the data they collect--you did know that was what they're all about, didn't you?--being used not just for marketing, which frankly is scary enough, but fro law enforcement.
Taking note of Susanna's post, InstaPundit speculates that a lot of the "savings" from the cards are bogus--the products are marked up before the sales are applies.
When I was visiting my friend Kim up in Chicago, I did a little shopping at a local grocery for which I didn't have a card. I bought some staples that would have been cheaper had I carried one of the things, but there was no way I was going to sign up for a card I'd only use once just to save a few bucks. The experience was enlightening, though: There's no doubt that if it were just about enticing consumers to buy, they could just mark items down. The fact is they're giving the consumer an incetive--and a pretty hefty one; we "save" about 20% of our grocery bill a week using the thing--to use the card, and everything you purchase gets recorded, on sale or not. Scary, when you think about it, and frankly it's a little embarrassing that I participate willingly every week to save a couple of bucks.
Now this fills me with confidence about the way the "war on terror" is being waged. A man suspected of selling fake IDs to a couple of the 9/11 hijackers fled the country just before his home was raided by law enforcement officials.
I thought the odious USA-PATRIOT act was supposed to allow for increased surveillance of suspects? Was no one even monitoring this guy? (Answer: No, not 24 hours a day.) One thing is clear--a man who's a likely part ofthe conspiracy or at least a source of intelligence has flown the coop because no one was monitoring his activities.
I'm proud of the job that the military has done in denying al Qaeda the free run of Afghanistan. But it's increasingly obvious that whatever strides are beign made against terror abroad, domestically the FBI has done and continues to utterly drop the ball. Intelligence is key in the War on Terror, but neither the CIA nor the FBI are part of the massive new "Homeland Security" buereaucracy. And although the President wants expanded authority to sack non-Republicans--er, non-performers, I understand that no one at the FBI has gotten the axe over the revealed failures of intelligence.
Meryl Yourish has updated her ratings of super heroes; she's evidently received a lot of email about her previous post. Running tally: Although not heroes, Magneto and the Shocker score big.
Update: I thought I'd take this opportunity to weigh in on the issue.
Wonder Woman: I like brunettes, but that magic lasso thing has me worried. A relationship should be based on trust. Two stars Jean Grey: I also like redheads, but back when I was reading X-Men, she was dead, and she still is as far as I'm concerned, no matter how many times Chris Claremont brought her back. One star for being a redhead. Kitty Pryde: As the previous entry should indicate, back when I was reading X-Men she was something like fourteen years old. Pass. Zero stars Invisible Woman: True, she's married, but when John Byrne was writing the FF she went from being "the distaff member of the Fantastic Four" to "perhaps the most powerful member." Sorry, Reed; Dr. Doom may respect you, but he ph33rz Sue! four highly visible stars Elektra: Well, again we have the whole she's-supposed-to-be-dead-thing. I'm really only familiar with her from the limited series/graphic novel in which she doesn't even speak, which would lead to some real comminucation problems. She gets one star for deliberately arousing her cohort Garrett and being cruel enough to be amused by it. Maggie Chascarillo: Back when I was really into punk rock, I really dug Love & Rockets. It's mechanic heroine, Maggie, got to travel all over the world and fix stuff, dug loud music and had a fondness for big black boots, plus her aunt was a former lucha libre champion. But as the magazine progressed (and I got older), her self-esteem issues and tendency to make bad romantic choices became more obvious Three stars back in my punk-rock days; two stars now. Black Canary: In her earlier incarnation, she had a rather L4m3 "canary cry" power. But sometime around Crisis on Infinite Earths, she lost said power and begain relying--quite effectively--on her m4d martial arts skillz. Plus she hangs out with Meryl winner Green Arrow. Three stars Zatanna: A genuine magician who hides in plain sight as a stage performer, her costume includes a top hat and fishnets and she has a soft spot in her heart for ne'er-do-well John Constantine. Books of Magic protagonist Tim Hunter thinks she's "brilliant," and I concur. Four stars.
Last night I unwound from my rather tiring day by watching one of the DVDs I picked up the other day. I popped in the Director's Cut of Army of Darkness, and it proved to be just what the doctor ordered. I love the Evil Dead trilogy, and I'd never seen the original cut (which was released overseas), though I'd heard about its more downbeat ending.
Yes, the ending's different, but apart from that there are few overt departures from the theatrical release. The apocalyptic finale is more in keeing with the no-one-here-gets-out-alive theme of the frist two movies, and Bruce Campbell, who plays the zombie-beset Ash, has indicated that the original ending runs with the notion that Ash is "basically an idiot, and he asks for everything he gets." I like both endings; the original one is more thematically consistent with the rest of the trilogy, but the theatrical release ending had the great closing line "Hail to the King, baby."
Apart from the ending, other notable differences include a brief love scene between Sheila and Ash (shown in silhouette in front of a fireplace). Other sequences are expanded; for example, the struggle between Ash and the Evil in the abandoned windmill (which also helps tie the movie with the original two) contains some extra pratfalls. In a most satisfying addition, the sequence during the climactic battle where Ash decimates the army of Deadites with his Oldsmobile of Doom is a lot longer...in the theatrical release, the Car of Death appears, wastes a skeleton or two, then promptly explodes.
Aside from those expansions, Army of Darkness is the same movie I've always loved, full of an aggravated Ash teeing off against abusive zombies and medieval warriors and enduring much abuse in the process. Although several portions of the film achieve some nice tension, AoD is much more of a comedy than a horror film; slapstick abounds and director Sam Raimi includes some not-so-subtle Three Stooges references.
DVD extras include a couple of deleted scenes that never made it into either version of the film, complete with commentary by Campbell and Raimi. In lieu of subtitles are images from the movie's storyboard superimposed on a corener of the screen. The Director's Cut was appartently once part of a two-disc Collector's Edition of AoD by Anchor Bay Entertainment. Eventually I plan to pick up the theatrical version. If Anchor Bay had included the theatrical ending among the extras, I wouldn't bother, but I suppose that's exactly why they didn't.
Yesterday was fatiguing for Crystal and myself. Cecilia was in a very contrary stage (please, tell me it's just a stage) and she wore on our patience. The situation was compounded by Naomi being clingly and cranky (no doubt sensing the tense vibes). Everyone's nerves got frayed, and getting through dinenr and bath time was something of an ordeal, especially for Crystal, who'd been dealing with it all day. But by the time the girls went to bed, everyone was friends again, and they dropped right off to sleep...they must have been as tired as we were, by that point.
Normally they're a joy--a little taxing, of course, but they make up for it with their charm. Every once in a while, though, the combination hits when one or both of them will be a little bit more vexing than usual, and one or both of us will have a little less patience than we normally do. It's hard when that happens; neither of us were happy with the way yesterday went, but it's important to remember that it's OK to get angry every once in a while. I hope today will prove to be much smoother sailing.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, called the interpretation "disturbing."
"Our intention is to protect any whistle-blower who exposes wrongdoing to an individual member of Congress, a congressional committee, a media outlet or any other public entity," Grassley said. "Whistle-blowers need full protection. Otherwise they won't come forward. Problems won't see the light of day."
...I wanted to cultivate a space where I could toss out cool links I come across in my exploration of the Web, ponder the nuances of life in this modern world, and grouse about life in general.
I think that I've stayed pretty much on track since then, although I've been intending to provide more of the "cool link" variety.
How many changes (name, location, etc.) of your weblog have there been, if more than one? None at all.
What CMS (content management system) do you use? Do you like it or do you want to try something else?Blogger; I'm fairly although not totally satisfied. But hey; it's free.
Do you read people who have both a journal and a weblog? Or do you prefer to read people who have all of their writing in one central place? I don't really make much distinction; some of the sites I read a lot tend more toward journalism/punditry and others are more personal-experience logs, but a number of the former refer to the writer's work elsewhere, and I often follow up on those links.
Sorry it's late, but then I don't usually do the Friday Five at all.
I was itching to watch at least one of my new DVDs last night, but between going to the grocery and running a couple of other miscellaneous errands, I got home way too late. But one of the errands I ran was my traditional Tuesday evening video store run. Since I have new movies to watch, I picked up more stuff for my daughter, and re-rented Night of the Hunter, which we never got around to watching last week. The full haul:
Night of the Hunter (redux)
Robotech Vol 2
An American Tail
Prince of Egypt
I put in the Robotech video, as it was only a half hour long. It really took me back to my college days, when I played a lot of Battletech, a war game based on the Robotech series (big fighting Japanese robots!). Yes, I was (was?) a geek. Watching the vintage anime inspired me to dust off my Mechwarrior 2 PlayStation game, but my skillz were rusty indeed, so I only played a short while before giving up.
w00t! We closed the sale of our old house today, so we won't have to make two mortgage payments at the beginning of the month. As a happy result, my self-imposed moratorium on buying movies, PlayStation games and so on is now lifted. In celebration, I picked up the following:
I haven't really dwelled on the enormous amount of work that's gone into getting the house ready for sale and all the negotiation that's gone on. M4d props (and a shameless plug) to Debbie Morris and her wonderful staff, who have gone much more than the extra mile in helping us buy our current house and sell the old one.
Unlike the 1984 incident in which pageant winner Vanessa Williams resigned after nude photos she'd posed for surfaced, the topless photos of Revels were apparently taken by surprise when she was changing and by a boyfriend she accuses of abusing her. It's always struck me as hypocritical that a beauty pageant--which, no matter how you dress it up with talent competitions, is all about appearance--would penalize young women for being photographed nude. And where is the line drawn? You only have to look at a newsstand to see magazine ads where the model is obviously nude, even if her body is artfully obscured.
But even if contest officials want to ban women who have ever agreed to model in the altogether, I think it sends another message entirely to cast aspersions on such pictures taken in private. I know the advent of personal video recorders and digital cameras--and even the Polaroid, in its day--have led a lot of people to experiment with capturing the image of their significant other in various ways. Apparently, according to the Miss America pageant, doing so is immoral or indecent or both.
Beyond that, it's utterly unfathomable to me how pictures taken without consent could be "characterized as dishonest, immoral or indecent" except on the part of the creep who took them. The Miss America pageant thing doesn't often appear on my radar screen at all, but incidents like this just reinforce my tendency to dismiss the whole beauty pageant phenomenon as irrelevant.
I got back from Chi-town about 4 yesterday. Since then I've had a lot of catching up to do, so my apologies for the absence. Posting will remain sporadic as I catch up, but things should return to normal quite soon.
My weekend in Chicago was just wonderful. Kim is one of my very best and closest friends, and we don't get to enjoy anywhere close to enough time together. Fortunately, the kids had a fairly active day so that by the time dinner was over, they were pretty good about going to bed. I'd taken her roommate Jennifer to the train station (memo to self: next time, Cecilia would love to ride the train) earlier so she could head downtown for an outing of her own, so after all the kids were down Kim and I had a moment alone for the first time in a great while. We sat in the backyard and drank cold Burghoff beer and talked and talked. After that we went back inside and I brushed Kim's hair (something I used to do a lot back when we both used to live in Louisville and hung out a lot). Kim has wonderful hair, long and heavy and black. We also opened a bottle of bourbon I'd bought Kim for her birthday and talked and talked. Kim and I share a number of tastes, and neat bourbon is one of them. It was an unforgettably delightful evening; we didn't turn in until about 3 (Cecilia had fallen asleep in Kim's bed, so I had to move her downstairs to where we were bunking).
Cecilia was just wonderful the whole time--a few toddler temper tantrums, but she was trying hard to be on her best behaviour. Kim told me that she, her kids and Jennifer were all utterly charmed. Of course I think Cecilia is an amazing kid, but it really feels good to hear someone else say it too, especially Kim, who is an über-mom.
I didn't hit the road until after 11, and it was a long and tiring drive home. Cecilia fell asleep in the car after a while, so I got about an hour alone with the road and the music and wonderful recollections of the visit. I'm already looking forward to the next time--part of the reason for this visit was to belatedly celebrate Kim's birthday, and I have one coming up next month, so i'll definitely make plans.