Thursday, November 29, 2007

Oh, yeah...

...and if I don't start getting some goddam comments pfq, I will start posting pictures like this:

LOTS of 'em.

Don't test me.

Holiday Horrors, (Part 1, maybe)

#1 in what may or may not be a continuing series of the Very Worst Things About The Christmas Season (depending on whether or not I'm near a computer when the next one manifests itself to me):

Idiot Goddam Co-Workers Who Bring Cutesy Singing Christmas Shit To Work.

There has been at least one of these annoying fucking pod people at every single place I have ever worked (at the call center in Florida, nearly my entire team was composed of these fucktards) and now I find that my latest job is no exception. I've already written about the woman in question in a previous post (she's the one who had the 'full immersion experience with the Holy Spirit') and this morning I discover that because nobody had the good sense to turn a firehose on this dim twat's parents thirty odd years prior to this, I will spend every weekday morning from now through Christmas being regaled by a dancing animatronic Santa Claus doing a lyrically mangled holiday version of "Shout".

You think you can imagine how horrible that is, but trust me when I say, you cannot.

If we had no gun control laws, people wouldn't fucking DARE inflict shit like this on the rest of us. (In addition, the people who manufacture this trash would die in a bloody hail of bullets, which would curtail manufacturing any more of such trash in the future.)

Ah, well. 29 days...

Missing links

Here's something I don't like, and, more, I don't think works well: writing your blog posts in such a way that people have to hit a link (that you've generally buried in the post itself) to figure out what the fuck you're talking about. A lot of the more popular poli-blogs do this sort of thing all the time -- "Rudy Guilians steps on his johnson again... and this time, it's personal." And if you want to find out what the christ they're actually talking about, you have to hit those links.

First, it's annoying to me to have to travel to some entirely different web page so I can understand a crucial reference, without which comprehension, the rest of the blog post makes little or no sense.

Second, a great many times, whatever link you may have posted will stop working at some point after you originally posted it. Which is well beyond annoying, if you've written the original post under the presumption that people will hit your stupid links and go read the original source material you're referring to, because now they can't, so they will find it impossible to understand what you're actually blithering in regard to.

So here's what I say -- linking to original source material is fine, but, please, for the love of Bast, don't rely on the link alone. Take a second to block, copy, and paste the relevant sections of the source text into your own blog post, so even if your link doesn't work, your readers can still figure out what in the name of sweet undulating Cthulhu you're referring to.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Arrr arrr aagggghhh ::thud::

Or, Pirates vs. Ninjas: The Final Chapter

Everywhere I go, some jackass is bringing up this fucking 'pirates vs ninjas' thing. Which is retarded, because, like, if ninjas fought pirates, the pirates would be dead from poisoned goddam grog or something before they could even unlimber a cutlass or wheel out a 12 pound gun. But the entire argument is idiotic, and I will hereby resolve it once and for all by saying, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos would kill every single motherfucking pirate and/or ninja who has ever lived in the history of the universe with their eyebrows while falling down drunk on a 72 hour pass in downtown Brussels, for the sweet love of baby jesus, so, for Christ's sake, everybody shut the fuck up about it.

That should be the final goddam word on the subject.

Now, if you want to get into an interesting (if equally retarded) debate, try the 'astronauts vs. cavemen' one I first encountered while watching the fifth (which is to say, the only truly non-suckass) season of ANGEL. And yes, that particular debate is just as stupid as the pirates vs. ninjas thing, because with or without weapons, the astronauts win this one every single time, hands down, one foot trapped in a half empty 24 can cube of Pepsi, unless, of course, you feel 10,000 years of social evolution are completely meaningless, in which case, you ain't part of the solution, buddy.

Stupid or not, though, it's a more interesting debate to have, as you're talking about, basically, ideas and concepts (like, civilization vs. savagery, intelligence vs. instinct, and teamwork vs. sheer raw brutal power) as opposed to what you're arguing about with pirates vs. ninjas -- dipshit stuff like fighting styles (swinging down on a lanyard with a cutlass in your teeth vs sneaking around flicking poisoned shuriken everywhere), weaponry (stupid fucking swords vs, you know, cool poisoned shuriken) and wardrobe choices (nifty black robes with nifty black hoods vs, you know, old pants, boots with holes in them, and a belt across your flabby, concave piratical motherfucking chest).

Also, I suspect a team of astronauts could probably take down Sgt. Rock and the Howling Commandos, too, as long as the astronauts weren't stuck with that crazy broad in the diapers on their team.

The workaround

When you've lived a life of few (read that as 'no' if you must) accomplishments, you take what you can get. Right now, I've managed to solve an annoying little quandary that's been plaguing me these last two days, and I'm very smugly pleased with myself.

See, there's this website I found that has been a perfect time-waster at work. The corporate firewall that keeps me out of all my webmail accounts and off anything that has the word 'blog', or 'games', or, you know, anything remotely like 'fun', in its URL, doesn't seem to mind this particular site. The site itself is one I mentioned a few entries down; the blogger is an excellent, funny, entertaining writer, his chosen subject matter is stuff I'm mostly interested in (I tend to skim pretty fast past his entries on baseball and/or getting really really hammered and going to sporting events, but that's at most 30% of his material), and he's got extensive archives going back to 2003, so, I figured as long as I had access to his site, I wouldn't run out of reading material I could safely tuck into a corner of my computer screen to kill time between calls with for weeks or months.

However, yesterday his site was unavailable; apparently, he's having a server issue. This was a bummer to me all day long, as I kept going punching in his URL in hopes that the problem had been resolved, and, well, no soap. That lack of soap has continued unto this very day, which is very aggravating.

However, while looking around to see if another one time favorite blogger, Billmon, has started up blogging again anywhere (he hasn't) I came across a reference to this wonderful thing called The Wayback Machine, which, basically, archives the entire frickin Internet.

So, I went over there and punched in this guy's URL and... yep... they've got extensive archives of his archives.

So, I have time killing material in the corner of my computer screen once again.

I understand, working through to this solution doesn't exactly qualify me for MENSA, but, hey, self actualization sometimes comes in very small packages.

UPDATE: Annoyingly, the firewall at work seems to have a learning curve, as some of the sites that originally were not blocked by it when I first started this assignment are coming up blocked by it now. Eventually this will probably happen to not only this particular blog (assuming the server ever comes back online) but to the Wayback Machine, as well... which is just frickin' ANNOYING. But sufficient unto the day the evil thereof, etc, etc.

Print is(n't) dead

In other news, I've finished Dave Duncan's THE GREAT GAME trilogy. My plan had been to then start rereading THE GOLDEN COMPASS in time for the movie's debut on December 7, but Super Dependable Teen has snatched up my copy to do her own movie prep with. I can't in any way be sad when any of my girls tries to read something more challenging than a STAR WARS novel or STRANGERS IN PARADISE, so I'm fine with this development, but it leaves me at loose ends in regard to my own reading material. Fortunately, I've got a thick SHOWCASE edition of black and white LEGION reprints to make my way through, and another Marvel Masterworks FANTASTIC FOUR collection to peruse after that, and in between, there's the second hand copy of Marvel's THE SUPERHERO WOMEN I was delighted to receive as a spontaneous gift from SuperWife the other day. (I doubt there's a single good story in the whole compilation, but, hey, any volume that reprints CLAWS OF THE CAT #1 is a joy to behold as far as I'm concerned. Throw in reprints of old Spider-Man stories where Spidey fights Medusa and the Black Widow (separately, alas) and some obscure Shanna the She-Devil schlock and I'm in serious Silver Age fanboy heaven.

All this, and I still haven't finished that b&w reprint volume of WEREWOLF BY NIGHT I got last Christmas... where does the time go?

As to THE GREAT GAME itself -- I enjoyed it, but am still not sure what I thought of the ending. I intensely dislike that Duncan doesn't spell his resolution entirely out, leaving things somewhat ambiguous with his final sentence -- although at the same time, I can admire the adroit double punt fake he pulls off, making everyone believe that we've had a tragic ending, and then, holding out the possibility that we really got a 'happily ever after' after all. (If you look back at various indicators Duncan inserted in his previous narrative, I'm willing to believe that the happy ending is quite likely, but it annoys me that Duncan couldn't type one more goddam sentence and make that probability into a certainty.) I was definitely disappointed that after all that build up, Duncan never showed us the actual confrontation between D'Ward and Zath, but as a writer myself, I can understand why he eventually took the way out that he did -- given all the anticipation, there's no way he could have done it justice. I'm not sure Roger Zelazney could have (although he did all right with all the psionic back and forth in LORD OF LIGHT, so, yeah, maybe he could have... but Duncan, godz love him, ain't no Roger Zelazney... although, really, nobody else ever will be, so that's hardly a knock).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Miss

WARNING: This is a review of the new movie THE MIST. It will reveal essential plot details. If you do not wish to have the experience of seeing this movie in utter ignorance ruined, you should not read this review. On the other hand, if you at all enjoyed the original Stephen King novella that this movie is based on and you do not want to have slightly over two hours of your life spoiled by watching this truly crappy adaptation of same, then you can read this review, but you should certainly and by all means avoid watching the crappy crappy film itself.

As part of my birthday celebration last night, a bunch of us went out to see The Mist.

Pretty much everything written by Stephen King -- well, everything good, anyway -- lends itself beautifully to cinematic adaptation, most likely because King is such a naturally visual writer. His novella THE MIST is a story I've long thought would be very easy to film, because the characters are pretty basic, the plot is very straightforward, and all the action is extremely cinematic.

Basically, something weird goes down -- King's first person narrator and protagonist never does more than vaguely speculate as to what -- and an eerie fog rolls in -- a fog packed with more flesh-eating horrors than an H.P. Lovecraft collected set. An endless ululating horde of giant carnivorous insects, weird dinosaur-monsters, multi-tentacled acid-exuding nether entities, all with a voracious (if chemically dubious) appetite for human flesh, trap a random assemblage of small town residents in a modest local supermarket. As the story grinds on, more and more of these luckless saps get turned into monster chow, while the survivors huddle hopelessly behind hastily erected barricades of 50lb puppy chow sacks, and try not to completely freak out.

In King's original, our protagonist and a few friends manage to escape the supermarket where pretty much everyone else has already gone homicidally bonkers, scrambling into the hero's four wheel drive and speeding off to search for some kind of sanctuary, where, you know, nobody is trying to sacrifice them all to Baal or something. As the story ends, they are holed up in an abandoned motel for the night, with only the barest glimmer of hope -- a distant voice they may or may not have really heard on the vehicle's radio, saying the name of a city a few hundred miles away.

I knew going into the movie that there was little chance such an uncertain ending would be allowed to stand by any major mainstream Hollywood studio. For one thing, movie audiences like their stories to have definite resolutions, so simply leaving it at "well, maybe they all got eaten, or maybe they somehow survived" wasn't going to fly. And even more than audiences like certain resolutions, they like happy ones. So, while I was hoping against hope that maybe they'd leave the original ending intact, I was fearing the worst -- not only would they rewrite the story to have a definite resolution, but that resolution would be something along the lines of "suddenly the 82nd Airborne parachutes in, blows up all the ugly critters, and everybody lives happily ever after, except for Norm The Bagboy, who got et by the acid spewing tentacles twenty minutes into the first reel".

Which would, to my mind, have been a complete fucking travesty.

I feared that ending, all the way through the movie. I feared it, yet, with the bitter cynicism of someone who has been watching Hollywood studios make my favorite stories into utter garbage for forty years now, I expected it, too.

As it turns out, I underestimated them. Not only did they change the ending to the story to exactly what I figured they probably would, they managed to make it an order of magnitude worse than I was dreading along the way.

It's the ending that really poisoned the film for me. Up until then, it was steadily mediocre-to-almost good -- the plot mostly stuck to the source material, a lot of the dialogue was straight out of the book, and while some of the casting was problematic (Thomas Jane as protagonist David Drayton was a truly appalling mistake, and giving Andre Braugher the role of the Asshole Neighbor was pretty much as bad a move as letting Morgan Freeman play "Red" in SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION), other characters were very well evoked indeed (the actor who played Ollie Weeks looked exactly like Ollie Weeks should have).

Occasional diversions from the source material irritated the shit out of me, as they seemed completely unnecessary, other than for purposes of observing moronic horror film conventions (in the book, protagonist David Drayton gets jiggy with fellow survivor Amanda Dunphies; in the film, two new characters are created for no apparent purpose except to have sex together shortly before both of them die horribly gruesome deaths).

Still, the gist of the book made it into the final film treatment, and the overall presentation was always just good enough to make me believe that any second now, the movie might cross some nebulous threshhold and suddenly become really good, or even exceptional.

But it never happened. So much of the essential characterizations from the original novella got dropped or condensed that even Andre Braugher couldn't make the terse, tightly wrapped, overly complex relationship between his asshole neighbor role and the story's protagonist work, and as for Thomas Jane, well, he was swingin' wild in the weeds from start to finish, chewing through his dialogue like a rat trapped in the world's biggest box of Wheaties. (Conversely, Marcia Gay Harden did a great job evoking the sheer raw craziness of that psycho bitch Mrs. Carmody, taking a stock character type that King has been recycling since Carrie White's mom and making her seem as close to three dimensional as anyone could want in a popcorn gobbler like this one.)

Maybe the whole thing was meant to be deliberately lame; certainly, the consistently cheesy special effects, in a time of relatively cheap CGI, had to be calculated to evoke earlier eras of drive in monster flicks with shoestring FX budgets, populated by crappy claymation creatures that looked like some high school chemistry nerd constructed them out of whatever he or she found in the bottles underneath their sink.

Purposefully cheesy or not, the ending's final twist is so cruel as to be nearly sadistic -- the Army does indeed come rolling through to save the day -- mere minutes after Drayton uses the last four bullets in his gun to kill his own child and his three other companions, to spare them being devoured by the monsters in the mist.

Which is pretty stupid, when you think about it. I mean, if they'd just waited another ten minutes before going all Jonestown in a Jeep, they'd have been fine. What was so urgent about getting their brains blown out right that second? Other than it being necessary to the plot, not a goddam thing.

So that's a two-fer... not just a needlessly sick, sadistically cruel twist ending, but an unbelievably pointless one, too.

As a final note, SuperWife points me to Tony Collett's blog, where I see Tony has noted that apparently, King likes the new MIST ending so much that he has asserted that if he'd thought of it when he was writing the novella, that's the ending he would have used.

All of which leads me to say, with utmost respect -- put down the crack pipe, Mr. King. I mean, it's all very well to have the Army roll in with tanks and flamethrowers to blast the living shit out of a bunch of hyperthyroid spiders and albino pterodactyls and even some gigantic unearthly squid with acid-spewing tentacles lolly-gagging around behind the Super Duper waiting for someone to feed it more idiot bagboys, but how, pray tell, did they deal with this:

A shadow loomed out of the mist, staining it dark. It was as tall as a cliff and coming right at us... something came. That is all I can say for sure. It may have been the fact that the mist only allowed us to glimpse things briefly, but I think it just as likely that there are certain things that your brain simply disallows... things of such darkness and horror that they will not fit through the puny human doors of perception.

It was six legged, I know that... it passed directly over us. One of its gray, wrinkled legs smashed down right beside my window, and Mrs. Reppler said later that she could not see the underside of its body, although she craned her neck up to look. She saw only two Cyclopean legs going up and up into the mist like living towers until they were lost to sight...

For the moment it was over the Scout I had an impression of something so big that it might have made a blue whale look the size of a trout -- in other words, something so big that it defied the imagination... it left tracks in the cement of the Interstate, tracks so deep I could not see the bottoms. Each single track was nearly big enough to drop the Scout into.

If THE MIST has any kind of point at all -- and I don't insist that my fiction have any kind of point at all, other than to be entertaining -- certainly it was the notion that mankind is, in the cosmic scheme of things, a very insignificant speck indeed, and we really shouldn't screw around with shit we don't understand. In Jack Nicholson's immortal words, we can't handle the truth. And the very idea that the Army, or, for that matter, any human agency, could somehow successfully resolve the unimaginable horror unleashed on Earth in THE MIST is utterly contrary to the palpable sense of utter futility, helplessness, and despair that suffuses the entire original story like, well, a mist. That the trapped remnants of humanity must continue to struggle for survival to the very bitter end is extremely human, and we cannot help but be fascinated as we observe this process from afar, but that their battle for survival is ultimately futile against the otherworldly legions of mindless predators that have been unleashed by humanity's own hubris is implicit in every word of King's story. (And, in fact, emblematic of all mortality. Nobody gets out of here alive.)

Tacking on a happy ending to a story like this is ridiculous; providing us with a 'happy ending' in which a protagonist we have come to admire loses his mind because it turns out he killed his child and his friends for no reason is appallingly mean spirited and sadistically cruel, a harkening back to the trollish, ghoulish King who clearly cackled in malevolent glee as he heaped gruesome fates on an entire small town of two dimensional characters in NEEDFUL THINGS.

I didn't like that Stephen King and I'd hoped, once he kicked his various vices, that that nasty, unpleasant bastard had gone for good. Guess not. Well, thank God that novelists, unlike George Lucas, can't keep going back and revising their previous works with every new DVD edition. Otherwise, I'm sure we'd have an expanded, rewritten version of THE MIST on the shelves next year, with film director Frank Darabonte's horrible ending pasted on over the original, regardless of just how poorly it fit with the rest of the story.

Just because, apparently, Stephen King never created a character he didn't want to torture in some horrible, horrible fashion.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A day that will live in infamy

Or, today's my birthday. Say it loud, say it proud.

My mom and stepdad sent me a couple of electronic cards last night. Tony and Kathy Collett sent me one of those cards that plays music; it's a Batman themed card that plays the Danny Elfman theme from the first BATMAN movie. This is cool, however, I must say, I would have found it cooler if it had played the theme from the 60s TV show. But some say I'm weird.

SuperWife has some amazing and magnificent present for me that I will not receive for a while yet, for reasons that are entirely beyond her control, but she also collected together this awesome set of Disney princess porn for me, too, which is waaaaaaay cool. How many wives will do THAT for hubby on his special day, eh? Just the one, and she's all mine, so back off, you hosers.

I have to go help out in the kitchen now. What with Turkey Day being tomorrow and my birthday being today, SuperWife has had way too much stress this last week, so I'm off to lend a hand.

Update: Add a card with a $50 Great Escape gift certificate from Nate to the loot pile. Also, late Thanksgiving afternoon, my in-laws sent me over a sweater and some underpants. And SuperWife has revealed that the great big fabulous present she got for me is a digital camera, which will indeed be a great big fabulous present, once it is fully functional and in my hands. I am, once again, in awe of her thoughtfulness, as a digital camera is something I've wanted for years, and that we'll get a lot of use out of once I have it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


In terms of games I did not (could not) watch, it's been a perfect weekend of football -- the Bucs won (BIG, actually; I don't require big, but it's nice when it happens) and all their division rivals -- New Orleans, Carolina, and Atlanta -- lost badly. (The Falcons lost to the Bucs, which is even sweeter.)

If my childhood favorite Buffalo Bills could somehow eke out a triumph over those shitbird Patriots, this would be a Perfect Football Sunday for me. But, well, we're ten minutes into the first quarter and the Pats are up by two touchdowns and the Bills just got called for a false start -- rrrg. Well, hey, on the bright side, the game is on NBC's Sunday Night Football, so at least I get to watch it.

And, of course, it's a short work week ending in my birthday, and I have SuperWife and the SuperKids, so, honestly, what have I got to complain about? Nuttin', dats what.

Hey, the Bills scored a touchdown. Okay, I guess I better watch this game...

Okay. 6:33 left in the first half, New England is up by 3 touchdowns (28 to 7) and I'm thinking I can probably stop watching now. Ah, well.

"New England is turning every other team in the NFL into the Washington Generals this season."

Maybe someone needs to give the Washington Generals some guns.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Back and froth

IOZ sez:

It may well be that if a state of war or conflict didn't exist between Iraq (or elements in Iraq) and the United States, then people would react with relative indifference to news of a crew of Americans massacring a lot of innocent Iraqis, but I think it's wrong to believe that there would be no outrage. In the absence of state sanction, such actions would rightly be seen as murder and condemned. In fact, we can see the operations of this very dynamic in the developing case of the Blackwater mercenaries. As the impression that their actions were sanctioned in war diminishes and the idea that they were acting outside of the violence permitted by our state grows, the domestic American reaction has increasingly been one of shock, horror, dismay, and disapproval--as if they had, indeed, committed murder. We might pause to note the sad supporting evidence that every day American troops, American pilots, American actions do kill dozens of innocents and otherwise violate their basic rights, and these actions are met with indifference or approval because they are state-sanctioned. And of course, it's worth noting that the very conditions which allowed the Blackwater guards to conduct themselves as they did--right or wrong--were 100% dependent on American state actions.

I respond:

People are tribal -- the proper sociological term is probably 'xenophobic', but in this case that seems an incorrect connotation, as we're talking specifically about an apathy towards atrocities committed by members of our tribe against outsiders, so, 'tribal' probably works better.

That's essentially what it comes down to -- we do not live in our heads, but in our hearts, and in our hearts, we can only bring ourselves to care about things that occur to members of our tribe. This is why we're more outraged about American disaster victims than Mexican, and, largely, why black Americans are more outraged at what Katrina did to NOLA than white Americans. Tribes within tribes within tribes, unfortunately.

Your insistence that the state controls our outrage by either sanctioning or withdrawing sanction from atrocity done to non-tribe members rings false to me, as does your assertion that more and more people are becoming outraged and infuriated at Blackwater as state authority to commit violence against non-tribe members erodes. It is not that at all.

Most people still don't much care that Blackwater mercs have been shooting some towelheads, and if Blackwater really wanted to defuse the situation, they would simply have to run a few ads identifying the involved mercenaries as American tribe members -- Here, for example, is a blond boy from Illinois, a former Marine who did two combat tours and then joined up with Blackwater to feed his wife and two children back home. There we have a young black man from Alabama, a one time Airborne Ranger, who goes to church every Sunday and has a dependent grandmother. And over here, a winsomely smiling Hispanic fellow name Jorge who comes from West Texas, and whose father and grandfather before him both served in the U.S. Army, and who himself has wanted to be in the Army since he was three years old.

Show folks such as this waving to the camera, American flag patches on their shoulders, while Sam Elliott or Phillip Bochco pontificates sadly as to the inhuman stress of war and who are WE to judge such as they, poor lost lambs, surrounded by vicious enemies in a land not their own, and Blackwater will be forgiven all.

The only reason outrage is growing against Blackwater now is not that the government has, vaguely, cluelessly, and incoherently, begun to withdraw some tattered blanket of authority from Blackwater's shoulders. It is, again, tribalism; being Little People is to be part of a tribe, and all we Little People know in our hearts that Big Corporations are not of us.

We have been allowed by our media to regard these murderous mercenaries as being members of the Evil Big Corporation tribe (although, to be fair, our media does its best to convince us that we are all part of the Big Corporation tribe, and so far we seem to have for the most part successfully resisted that particular indoctrination) and so, we don't much like them. Like them or not, though, as long as all they do is kill towelheads, we really won't much mind, either. We won't cheer them on because, you know, they aren't Our Boys, but neither will we trouble ourselves to get up out of our recliners over their nonsense. They are members of the Big Corporation tribe, and therefore Not-Us (and, probably, evil, but, you know, we pretty much take that for granted these days) and the Iraqis they are slaughtering are members of the Islamoterrorist Raghead tribe, and, therefore, Not-Us. It's pretty much a wash, as far as the average American is concerned.

And when people we DO regard as tribe members -- Our-Boys, Our-Boys (give me a red) -- slaughter dune coons with mad abandon for no discernibly good reason, well, if we do not stand up and cheer, it's only because there's something more interesting on VH1 right now, and we'll stand up and cheer later, after today's BEAUTY AND THE GEEK marathon concludes.

The State certainly encourages tribalism, and manipulates it to its own advantage, and I will even countenance arguments that the State grows out of tribalism like a particularly virulent, mutant weed grows out of the poisoned soil of a toxic waste dump. But our concern for fellow creatures we regard as tribe members, and our apathy towards, or fear/hatred of, non tribe members, has nothing to do with State authority and/or sanction. It's just who we are.

And in response, one of the Usual Suspects says the usual shit:

hahaha. I've never read so little of something before deciding that I didn't need to read the rest. I literally made it to "proper sociological term" and realized that in no way could it benefit me to read on.

Translation: this fella has a microscopic attention span, and somehow, that's MY fault. Heh. If I had a nickel for every time some 'net cretin has told me that...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Release the robotic Richard Simmons

A Perfectly Cromulent Blog is my latest little 'stumble upon' Internet treasure. The blogger, a guy named Pete Van something or other, is a much better writer than I am, although he makes up for that by being outrageously (and usually hilariously) dead wrong on whatever subject he's blathering about, about a third to half of the time.

Still, even when I completely disagree with every single word I may be reading there at any given moment, I am nearly always vastly entertained regardless. Such is this fellow's talent with words that he can drive me from one emotional extreme to the other within a span of seconds, as with the following entry from July 10th of this year:

Two unrelated musical thoughts:

1. She Who Shall Not Be Named sometimes falls asleep in the car when I'm driving her home in the afternoon. To facilitate nap time, I'll occasionally switch to the easy listening station on Sirius (Movin EZ). Today, I caught Olivia Newton-John's "Please Mister Please," and I had occasion once again to thank the Great Old Ones I didn't spend my formative years in the 1970s. I don't know how anybody survived that shit.

I mean, I delude myself into thinking that - were I a '70s teen - I'd be really into the Stooges, Ramones, the Clash, and Big Star, but I know I'd be sporting the white boy afro and listening to Kansas and Styx in Peenman's Good Times Van, and I hate myself for it.

2. Also today, and possibly on the same station, I heard that John Mayer song "Waiting on the World to Change." With insipid lines like, "It's not that we don't care/We just know that the fight ain't fair" to justify his inaction, I was reminded Of that equally lame Jesus Jones song, "Right Here, Right Now."

You see what he's like? I mean, I was a 70's teen, and I'm reading through that and the whole first bullet point is, like, "Dude, that's so fucking HARSH". I mean, my fingers are itching for a chair to bust over his no doubt smarmy little grin as I take in THAT action. But then I get to Number 2, and, well, how can I stay mad at someone who feels EXACTLY the way I do about the self indulgent whiney gutless moral laziness embodied in the very title "Waiting For The World To Change"? I just can't. Although that whole "better writer than I am" thing really DOES piss me off, but, you know, that's just because I'm a very small and petty human being in some ways.

Anyway, the archives go back to 2003 and you can pick pretty much any entry at random and most likely find something that will either make you laugh, snarl, think hard... or, sometimes, all three at once, which is, admittedly, harder on the nervous system than many of you may be looking for.

The material there covers a vast range of subject matter, all of it pop culture derived in some way or another. Not all of it is anything I find appealing; when he writes about getting really really drunk, or playing hockey, or watching baseball, or local Houston politics, my eyes glaze over pretty fast and I'm moving the mouse pointer over to the scroll bar with style and panache. But when he's on about the STAR WARS prequels or shitty TV shows on cable or people saying mean things about Mr. Rogers or a lot of other shit I find vaguely interesting, well, he's a fun way to kill a few minutes at work when I'm probably supposed to be, you know, working.

If you film it, they will hurl

So SuperWife and I were exchanging emails at work last week and she happened to make a sideways reference to FIELD OF DREAMS, a movie she knows I absolutely loathe, to a point where I am completely incapable of keeping quiet about my loathing of, whenever the subject comes up. Here's what I sent back to her:

It is an appallingly bad film which makes no sense whatsoever. If dead baseball players (who were all notorious cheaters while alive, anyway) are haunting your cornfield, here is what you do -- you fricking pack your shit and GIT. You certainly do not hot top over the cornfield so you can create a big baseball field because the voices in your head tell you that if you do this, MORE dead baseball players (who were notorious cheaters while alive) will show up and haunt you. I mean, seriously, WTF?

To this, I will only add the following anecdote -- long ago, when I was briefly a member of an Amateur Press Alliance, the subject of this dreadful celluloid abomination arose, and a very cheerful, pleasant, well intentioned fellow allowed as to how FIELD OF DREAMS was "very Capraesque".

Now, I have no doubt that he ventured this opinion because he had read it and/or heard it many other places prior to that occasion -- he was that kind of fellow; intelligent enough, certainly, but, well, if he'd ever had an original thought in his life, it would doubtless have immediately come into contact with the vast archival storage array of banality, bromides, platitudes, and cliches that made up most of his conscious mind, causing a sort of intellectual matter/antimatter detonation that would almost certainly have leveled most of America west of Chicago -- but, well, the fact that you read some deranged and doltlike horseshit somewhere does not encumber you to repeat it as if it were veritable Holy Scripture at every future opportunity, and in this case, the oft repeated aphorism that FIELD OF DREAMS is in some way "Capraesque" is, indeed, deranged and doltlike horseshit of the purest ray serene.

Unless, of course, we are intended to take the coinage "Capraesque" as meaning "Say, that's the most absolutely wretched and utterly worthless piece of garbage anyone has ever wasted several thousand feet of film stock on", in which case, well, sure, it's Capraesque indeed, but, oddly, anything and everything that has ever actually been directed by Frank Capra is anything and everything but.

To me, "Capraesque" would essentially mean a story centering around the basic theme that a single individual can indeed make a very significant difference to the world around them, but, ironically, that one person can only do so by inspiring some positive modification in many other people's social behavior. In other words, everybody matters to some extent or another, and anyone can matter a great deal. The gears and levers of history may need thousands or millions working together to set them in motion, but one person in the right place at the right time is all it takes to get all those other folks moving with a purpose.

This happens in pretty much every Frank Capra movie I can think of; Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper or some other charismatic actor portraying an eccentric but highly moral protagonist spends the first 3/4s of the film setting a wonderful example for everyone else all around them, and as a result of their own noble (and generally rather naive) selflessness, are nearly destroyed by the uncaring, monolithic forces of entrenched human selfishness and greed; in the end, however, our cinematic stalwart finds his salvation at the hands of all those good, decent common folks who have learned from his shining example and rallied round to save the day just before the final credits roll.

Now, if someone wants to point out to me how this particular formula can in any way apply to the tale of an imbecilic madman who, through no particular virtue of his own, ends up being haunted by the undead revenants of dishonored professional athletes and, harried to the point of mental breakdown by said gruesome spectres, decides to defy all reason as well as local law, throw away the livelihood that has been supporting his family, and build an amateur sports arena where said ghostly cheaters can escape their well deserved unending damnation with a few eternal innings of phantasmal stickball, well... I don't know. I'll take it under advisement, but you're going to have to come pretty hard at me, because I just can't see it right now.

Maybe it's that everyone says he's crazy, and then, in the end, after he does this crazy thing anyway despite everyone trying to bring him to his senses, he's proven to be right after all -- the undead cheaters really DO show up to play baseball in his cornfield, thus vindicating him in front of everyone who tried to gainsay his demented plan in the first place. But Capra's movies are not about anything as selfish as individual vindication. Yes, Capra's heroes all end up being right in the end, but none of them start out there, as can be most clearly seen in perhaps the most Capraesque of all Capra's movies, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, the protagonist of which, George Bailey, spends most of his life in a state of frustration, self pity, and repressed anger, only realizing just how much good he's really done for everyone around him, and how well off he really is, after direct intervention from on high.

But this is typical; I've rarely heard the phrase "Capraesque" invoked over anything that was actually remotely reminiscent of Frank Capra's corny, small town-with-a-big heart kind of populism, and certainly, trying to attach the label to FIELD OF DREAMS is misguided from the start.

Unless, of course, you simply mean "this plot doesn't make any sense at all", in which case, well, I can't argue with you, since if George Bailey had never been born, Mary Hatch would have married that hee-hawing jackass Sam Wainwright and ended up as the richest woman in Bedford Falls, not some mousy little town librarian. (I grant you she'd have been pretty miserable, as Sam would have been cheating on her with every other skank in Bedford Falls, from Violet Bix right up through George's mom and her buxom Negro housemaid Annie, perhaps all three at once, with Nick from Martini's Bar picking up a little extra cash running the Rervere Miniature Movie Camera while he did so. But it would have been a very different kind of misery than that depicted in the film.)

We need a montage

It's driving me bugshit trying to figure out exactly why I enjoy BOOGIE NIGHTS so much, and yet, can't stand Paul Thomas' Anderson's next movie, MAGNOLIA.

I know what you're thinking, but it's not true. It's not just the sex.


It isn't.

See, I want to say that BOOGIE NIGHTS has likeable characters in it, where MAGNOLIA really doesn't. That notion kinda gets a quarter of the way up the flagpole for me, but, then, the pulley-wheel starts to squeak like a motherfucker and the pull rope starts to bind up on me and then the whole thing jams solid and just looking at it I know I'm going to need a chainsaw or a blowtorch to fix that mess, because... BOOGIE NIGHTS? Likeable characters? Point to them for me, please. Amber? Jack? Rollergirl? Reed Rothchild? Good ol' Dirk Diggler? Okay, maybe Little Bill, a little... and Buck and Jessie are cool, yes they are. Yet every character in this movie is such a goddam dimbulb, and I myself am such an elitist prick about the innate value of intelligence as a human attribute, that I still find it hard to admit to actually liking any of the slope browed, slack jawed dimbulbs in BOOGIE NIGHTS. I mean, you know, if by 'like' we mean, 'could even remotely tolerate hanging out with for longer than five minutes', then... noooooo. Nobody in BOOGIE NIGHTS remotely makes that list for me.

Still, maybe there's something to that. BOOGIE NIGHTS is populated wall to wall, floor to ceiling with amiable, affable fucktards. MAGNOLIA, on the other hand, seems to generally concern itself with characters who are at least somewhat mentally sharper than those in BOOGIE NIGHTS... yet nearly the entire cast of MAGNOLIA's characters (most of whom are played by the same talented actors as appear in BOOGIE NIGHTS) are unpleasant to the point of being repellent (at least, to me).

Maybe it's just that the overall tone of BOOGIE NIGHTS so successfully avoids moral judgment, while MAGNOLIA somehow seems stiff with it. BOOGIE NIGHTS seems to say, yeah, all these people are brainless oversexed bimbos with huge streaks of self destructiveness, but what the hell, they're pretty much harmless to everyone except themselves and they're fun to watch. These guys in MAGNOLIA, well, I don't know... somehow, where director Anderson seems to be gently chuckling over the antic misadventures of Dirk and Reed in BN, he seems to be rather more sharply disapproving of the narcissistic, cruel, or just degenerately desperate behavior on display in MAGNOLIA.

Or maybe I'm imagining all that.

I'd really like to say it's because BOOGIE NIGHTS has a central character who holds the narrative together through the force of his own often vacuous personality, while MAGNOLIA just walks the Earth like Caine in KUNG FU, often aimlessly and pointlessly. And that one got very nearly to the top of my personal flagpole until I realized that... whups... no, CRASH doesn't have any kind of central viewpoint character, either, and often seems to meander as much if not more than MAGNOLIA does. But I like CRASH and I don't like MAGNOLIA, so... why?

Hmmm. So I like BOOGIE NIGHTS, and I like CRASH, and I don't like MAGNOLIA.... it can't be anything as simple as Don Cheadle, can it?

Well, I like Don Cheadle...

BOOGIE NIGHTS had Luis Guzman in it, too. I really like Luis Guzman.

Maybe it's like that one section of PULP FICTION that ruins the whole movie for me... you know, the one where John Travolta takes Uma Thurman out to that really scary 50s themed restaurant and they end up at his drug dealer buddy's house jamming a hypo full of adrenaline directly into Uma's chest. I would enjoy PULP FICTION a great deal more, and perhaps even own a copy of the fucker, if that entire section of the movie just never existed. I mean, what's the point? Hey, look, that cool Rocky Dennis guy from MASK can play a shitbag if he wants to? Oh, and we've managed to make Roseanna Arquette visually repulsive, too, isn't that awesome? Nooooooo THANK you.

But the real reason I hate that entire subplot in PULP FICTION is that I just can't stand any of those characters, which is to say, I cannot even remotely empathize with a single fictional person portrayed in that entire lengthy section of the film. And you've got to work hard to create a male character who badly wants to ball Uma Thurman that I cannot empathize in any way with, but, well, it's not like John Travolta had to do all the heavy lifting there himself. Given how monstrously odious Uma's character in PULP FICTION is, well, it would have been more difficult for Travolta to make me actually empathize with someone who wanted to sleep with that abrasive cunt than otherwise.

I suspect I feel the same way about MAGNOLIA, especially as opposed to BOOGIE NIGHTS. Compare, for example, William H. Macy's character in each film. In the one, he's Little Bill, a cameraman on porn movies who has the misfortune to have married an x rated actress who constantly cheats on him, often in public with multiple partners. He's a miserably sad sack of a dude, a highly skilled tradesman at a sleazy, disrespectable trade, whose final frenzied act of despair actually makes you like him even more, despite the fact that it's a murder/suicide which signals the end of the movie's 'innocence'... for lack of a better word.

And then there's the character Macy gives us in MAGNOLIA, who is such an addled, incomprehensible emotional muddle I have no idea how to articulately describe him.

Both characters are losers, but the guy in BOOGIE NIGHTS is likeable with it, almost even loveable. You can dig him; you can honestly feel his pain. You can understand why he eventually grabs a gun and uses it; you may not approve, but you get what's going through his heart and his head, just prior to that final bullet.

The guy in MAGNOLIA, that poor crazy motherfucker who is robbing his ex-employer so he can get money for expensive dental appliances he doesn't need because he's in love with a bartender who has braces... I have no sympathy for that dude. Frankly, he freaks me out a little. If he went crazy with a hand gun and wound up blowing his brains out, well, it wouldn't make me like him, but I'd breathe a very deep sigh of relief, nonetheless.

So, in the end, I guess I would have to say that it does come down to the characters. The ones in BOOGIE NIGHTS I like despite their dumbass behavior, while the ones in MAGNOLIA I pretty much find bewildering, obnoxious, boring, or, on occasion, all three at once.

Hey, how about that. It wasn't just the sex, after all.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Libs, Corps, and Unies

Apparently there's a writer's strike going on out in Hollywood, which has brought all the usual suspects out to grumble on their various blogs about, you know, the usual stuff -- strikes suck, unions blow, corporations are evil, the free market should rule over all, writers make too much money as it is and are spoiled and lazy, etc, etc, etc.

John Rogers has some pretty good posts on it over at his blog, Kung Fu Monkey. In his comment threads, the libertarians are beating him up for being a union guy, when, in fact, they feel that unions are evil and every writer should be empowered to negotiate the best deal they can get for their work. Rogers disagrees, and has had to school a few people in his threads. Liberatarians tend to make me break out in hives, so I recently had this to say over there:

Libertarianism 101: Give any man/woman a 10,000 acre ranch in the mountains somewhere (maybe Mars, or Procyon IV, yeah, that would be excellent), a working fusion generator, a functional force field generator, and one of those molecular re-arranger things that turns empty tin cans into t-bone steak (or, y'know, just gold coins, that's fine, too, because of course there's going to be a free market where gold is incredibly valuable, oh yes we're sure that's how it will work) and then EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT.

Well, maybe you'd want just a few cobalt warhead tipped missiles, just in case one of your neighbors on an adjoining continent/asteroid/planet gets uppity. But that's a LAST RESORT, buddy. Just don't mess with anyone, and you'll be okay.

Now here's Corporatism 101: Your 'fusion' reactor needs new power cells every six months and there are only five companies that sell them and, oddly, all of their prices are within a percentage point of each other. Your force field projector and matter re-arranger all run off the fusion reactor, so, you know, see you every six months. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Union 101: If you want to design fusion reactor power cells in THIS town, you need to join the union. We'll get you higher wages, better benefits, and a guaranteed higher royalty on every power cell you design, assuming, of course, that your dues are paid up and you've made enough power cells in the last quarterly period to continue to qualify for benefits.

In the end, corporations of all kinds suck hard, libertarians are infants, and unions are most likely the lesser of many, many real world evils. That doesn't make unions cool by any means, and strikes pretty much always end up hurting everyone involved, and, unfortunately, the corporations one is striking against end up being the ones hurt the least -- but if you can't hurt these guys at least a little bit every once in a while, well, you never ever get any ice cream.

And life without ice cream is a bummer, man.

This is vastly, vastly oversimplified, of course -- corporations exist for a reason and do contribute value to our culture, although I'm not at all sure that that outweighs or even counter balances the very real evil they do as well.

Unions also exist for a reason, and they do some evil too -- in this case, however, I tend to believe that the very real good they also do probably does outweigh the crap they make their members eat on a regular basis.

Libertarians -- glah. What can you say? I'd like to live utterly independent of everyone else, too, with every transaction that occurs between myself and others being an entirely volitional one in which I have full bargaining power. But the real world has never worked like that and never will, and libertarianism will always remain an adolescent fantasy due to this. Also, libertarianism isn't even a fantasy about everyone being equally empowered; when you get a libertarian drunk and therefore honest, you will always discover than in their hearts of hearts, they always want to go into every negotiation with superior firepower.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Humble folks without temptation

I've cross posted my previous post over at my nominal poli blog, A Brown Eyed Handsome Man. No, I don't know why I bother, either, but, as Ferris Bueller's principle and Deadwood's lone newspaperman was once wont to say in an entirely different movie, there it is.

Adding on to this -- I've had an idea, formin' in my brain, for some time now. It's a wildly paranoid concept, but, still, it just won't go away, and yesterday's little stunt involving a bill to impeach Cheney only reinforces this bizarre hypothesis' internal logic.

What if the Clintons have essentially told the Democratic Party to do absolutely nothing that might even slightly rock the national political boat until Hillary wins the Presidency? What if, in other words, Hillary Clinton has decided that the Democratic Party is going to horde all of its political capital like several hundred Henry F. Potters, only to be expended in efforts that help her get into the White House?

What if Hillary and Bill have basically said to the Dems in Congress, look, you do ANYthing that might in any way blow back on Hillary's Presidential bid, or in any way make her look bad, and you can forget about us giving you any fund raising help at all, ever again?

Fund raising is a big club in the Clintons' political golf bag; their Democratic fund raising machine is one of the most efficient and productive ever put together. If the Clintons get behind a political candidate, they can pour millions into the election coffers. If the Clintons refuse to support a candidate, or, worse, decide to support someone else in the primaries... well, you're pretty much dead in the water.

So it seems to me (largely a complete ignoramus as to how politics really works, mind you) that this is, from a practical stand point, a very feasible scenario. But would Hillary and/or Bill really bring the entire political process to a virtual stand still, simply to enhance the chances that the Ultimate Power Couple can once again order new drapes for the Oval Office?

It would certainly explain why the Dems have been so utterly paralytic at, well, EVERYthing, ever since they regained Congressional majorities in 2006. And it would certainly put the utterly baffling and infuriating charade we saw enacted yesterday in reference to Dennis Kucinich's bill to impeach Dick Cheney in some kind of logical context.

(In a nutshell, Kucinich used a Congressional privilege to bring his impeachment bill straight to the floor of the House, after a similar bill had been bottled up by Repubs AND his fellow Democrats in committee for months. The Democratic leadership immediately tried to kill the bill by voting to table it. The Republicans decided to rub Nancy Pelosi's face in it, and under orders from their own leadership, voted against tabling the bill. A few progressive Democrats defied their own leadership to vote with the Republicans, and the motion to table the bill lost handily. So the Democratic leadership immediately then voted to send the bill to committee, where, we presume, it will continue to be sat on. Cindy Sheehan has more on it, if you really want more... I'm so disgusted right now I can barely muster the energy to finish typing this sentence.)

If indeed the Clintons have put their collective foot on the Congressional Democrats' neck, it's a move that may well pay off for them with another Clinton Presidency... but it's also one that brings with it a very high moral price tag. Every day that goes by where Congress could have shut down the Iraq War but didn't, that's another several thousand unnecessary deaths, another few million lives ruined... and that gets added to the already sizable tab Hillary has already run up, simply by voting for the original Authorization of Military Force that unleashed Cheney, Bush, and all the other puppies of war way back in 2002.

You would think that, at some point, Hillary would at the very least want to stop running that tab up, if not start doing something to pay it down. But apparently, human lives, both American and otherwise, have very little value when measured in the Big Scales of national politics.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Livin' in the future now (2008 edition)

A few electoral thoughts, a year out --

The Democrats are a lock to win the 2008 Presidential elections, and, probably, to increase their majorities in both houses. Two different ways to look at this --

--There will never be a better time to try to elect America's first woman and/or person of color to the Presidency.

-- There will never be a worse time to try to elect America's first woman and/or person of color to the Presidency.

If your primary motivation is to shake stuff up, live in science fiction land, push the social envelope forward, get a non-white or non-male into the nation's highest office, put a non-white or non-male face on America's government -- this is the best shot you've ever had. The Republicans can't even pick up a paper clip without somehow shooting themselves in the foot; the Dems should absolutely be able to put ANY nominee into office in '08... so, you know, let's swing for the bleachers, absolutely. Once we have a non-male or non-white in the Presidency, the precedent is set for all time, that barrier is broken, and we should see more qualified candidates running from this point forward.

If, on the other hand, your primary motivation is to beat the horror that is the Republican Party to death with a voting machine, then you should, for the love of God, not want to see either Obama or Hillary as the Democratic nominee. The Dems have this election sewn up... unless they run a black man or a woman for President.

So, of course, they're going to run a black man or a woman for President.

You know all those decent hard working church going conservative voters that the Dems are counting on to stay home next election day out of disgust for Republican shenanigans...? Running a black man or a woman for President (much less, as I suspect will happen, running a woman AND a black man for President/Vice President) will guarantee that those decent hard working church going conservatives march right out to their local polling places and pull a lever for ANY Republican running against the Evil Clinton Cunt and her uppity nigger houseboy. I guarantee you, a Hillary/Obama ticket will absolutely galvanize the deep red base. The evangelicals will not break off and vote for a third party candidate as they've been blustering about; they will suck it up and get behind Rudy, no matter how many pictures of him in a dress the Dems post on the Internet.

Which voting segment will the Hillary/Obama combo drive away from the polls? Dumb ass white guys who would otherwise have voted Democrat, if, say, Edwards were the nominee. (Dumb ass white guys who vote Republican will, of course, turn out to the polls in droves, and they'll bring all their dumb ass Republican white guy buddies who otherwise might not have voted, too. At least, as many as they can fit into their pick up trucks.)

We can always hope there aren't too many dumb ass white guys who vote Democrat out there, but my own observations lead me to think that this is a vain hope indeed.

Mind you, I'm half a dumb ass white guy myself. Should Obama get the nod (which he won't, but, you know, speculatin' on a hypothesis, here) I would grit my teeth mightily, swallow hard as I try to ignore how appallingly he has pandered to nutball black evangelicals and how little respect I have for anyone who had done that, and pull the lever next to his name. Anything to keep Rudy out of the White House.

If it's Hillary, though... I don't know if I can grit my teeth that hard. She won't close Gitmo, won't stop illegal domestic spying, has no problem with torturing 'terrorists', won't revoke the PATRIOT Act... I don't know. Maybe we'd get some universal health care... but nothing in Hillary's resume indicates to me that she's got the guns to go up against the insurance lobby and win.

Still... yeah... yeah, okay... anything to keep Rudy out of the White House.

But... Jesus Christ, why can't I have a Presidential candidate I really want to vote for?

Because those people can't possibly win.

To be fair -- what makes Hillary so unpalatable to me is how craftily she triangulates her positions. Every move she makes is calculated -- if she votes that way, or announces this policy, or states something else in the debates, well, she'll piss off THIS 33% segment of the electorate, but she'll appease or even please the other 66%. Every time, every breath she takes, every move she makes, it's been polled to a fare thee well and worked out on eighteen different political slide rules to seventeen decimal places before she twitches a finger. I fucking HATE candidates that do shit like that... but the fact of the matter is, candidates that DON'T do shit like that are fringe candidates who cannot be elected to national office.

Maybe, if Hillary wins, she'll just say "fuck it" and do some good stuff. Maybe she feels she CAN'T come right out and say "I'll repeal the PATRIOT Act, I'll shut down Gitmo, I'll tear up all of Bush's signing statements, I'll personally sue the telecom companies, and I'll absolutely declassify every government file that exists as to exactly what really happened with 9/11, the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections, Katrina, Iraq, Plamegate, the politicization of the Justice Department, and I'll even let you all know what really happened that time Cheney shot the other guy in the face." Maybe she'll just do all that stuff anyway, once she gets into office. And pull our troops back home. And invest billions in finding an alternative to petroleum.

Yeah. Heh. Suuuuuuuuuuure she will.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Say goodbye to Hollywood

One of my favorite sf novels is Steven Gould's JUMPER. Wikipedia:

Jumper is a 1992 science fiction novel by Steven Gould. It tells the story of Davey, a teenager who has just escaped an abusive household. Davey discovers that he can teleport himself by using his thoughts, although he doesn't know how it works. As he tries to make his way alone in the world, he looks for his long-lost mother and uses his talent for criminal activities and to foil hijackers around the globe. The book received generally positive reviews.

To this I would add merely a few further notations -- when the NSA accidentally finds out what Davey can do, they chase him all over the planet trying to capture and exploit him. Davey's decision to finally use his powers to specifically battle against hijackers is motivated by the murder of his mother during such a crime. Beyond that, Wikipedia has summed the book up pretty well, although they haven't said anything about the intelligence and talent Gould has poured into it. Honest, if you haven't read it and you enjoy solid, smart SF/superhero stuff, you could do way worse.

So I found out today that there's a JUMPER movie slated to come out next summer. That's a big huzzah, right? Well, let's go to our friends at Wikipedia again:

Jumper is a 2008 science fiction film based on the science fiction novel Jumper by Steven Gould. The film is directed by Doug Liman and stars Samuel L. Jackson and Hayden Christensen. Jumper is slated for a February 15, 2008 release.


"A genetic anomaly allows a young man to teleport himself anywhere. He discovers this gift has existed for centuries and finds himself in a war that has been raging for thousands of years between 'Jumpers' and those who have sworn to kill them."


* Hayden Christensen as David Rice, a young man who discovers the ability to "Jump", or teleport.
* Samuel L. Jackson as Roland, the leader of the Paladin organization, whose goal is to kill Jumpers deemed too powerful to exist.
* Jamie Bell as Griffin, a Jumper who has fought and evaded Paladins since his childhood.
* Rachel Bilson as Millie Harris, David's childhood friend and also his crush.
* Diane Lane as Mary Rice, David's mother who abandoned her son when he was five years old.

That screaming in your head is me.

I started to list all the ways this film adaptation is deeply and irrevocably wrong, but, honestly, there's no point. I hope Gould got a big Hollywood movie check for the rights; hopefully it's consolation for the way his concept has been raped.

Now, let's move on from that to something much more pleasant. Last Christmas, the Always Esteemed Scott Shepherd sent us a package of holiday gifts, and among them was a trilogy of books called THE GREAT GAME by some guy named Dave Duncan. They're big thick books, and I've never heard of Dave Duncan, and I'm a moody, sullen bastard when it comes to reading stuff by authors who are new to me, so those books have resolutely gravitated to the bottom of my usually impressive in stack for the last year. But, finally, last week, I finished off the last vaguely interesting looking thing I had on top of them (CAGE A MAN by F.M. Busby) and stared with vague distaste at a hardcover copy of THE SHRINKING MAN by Richard Matheson, which I'd read a long time ago and really wasn't in the mood to read again.

So, I picked up PAST IMPERATIVE, billed as "Round One of THE GREAT GAME", and started reading.

Wow. FABULOUS FUCKING STUFF here. Should have started reading this a year ago.

So, thanks, Scott. Hugely. As always.

In other news, three weeks in and I'm still gainfully employed. Overtime tomorrow, too. I'm not wild about working Saturdays, but it's just a few hours with no dress code at $21 per... somehow, I'll manage.

Okay, that is all. Good weekend, everyone.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ted Rall for President

Trying to remember when I've ever agreed with anything more wholeheartedly:

We must elect--by an overwhelming, theft-proof majority--a candidate who promises to renounce Bush and all his works. A reform-minded president's first act should be to sign a law that reads as follows: "The federal government of the United States having been illegitimate and illegal since January 20, 2001, all laws, regulations, executive orders, and acts of commission or omission enacted between that infamous day and 12 noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 2009 are hereby declared invalid and without effect." Guantánamo, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, spying on Americans' phone calls and emails, and "legal" torture would be erased. Our troops should immediately pull out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Somalia; we should apologize to our victims and offer to compensate them and their survivors. Bush should never appear on any list of American presidents. When he dies, his carcass shouldn't receive a state funeral. It ought to be thrown in the trash.

Read it all.

Then sink back into despair and depression again, as you reflect on the fact that nobody actually running for President would ever have the balls to say anything remotely like this.

Gmail fails!

Gmail has been inaccessible all morning for me. Searching Google's News feature, I find that apparently Google has very recently installed something called IMAP, but when I click on a link, I can't get to any of the stories about it. Coincidence? I have no idea. But I wish to fuck my Gmail would come back up.

Anybody else out there having Gmail problems?