Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wow! Blogger thinks I'm a spam blog!

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have locked the diary because of it's "repetitive nature" and "heavy linking."

Well... I tried to make an entry every day, and I admit they were not the best... but I did manage it every day!

If they let me back in to play with the other kids, once more, I'm probably going to stop the daily postings. And the constant pointing at YouTube. That's probably what set the robots off. Focus on quality, rather than quantity. Less talk, more rock. What have you.

We'll see if this gets posted.

'Night, all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cocktail of the week #15: Screwdriver

The screwdriver: so simple it's a classic.

We enjoyed ours, last night, but we also agreed that while we would never turn one of these down we would certainly not seek it out.

It is a hit, nonetheless.

Hits: 9
Misses: 10

Sunday, January 13, 2008

If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

That is from Mark 4:23.
Meet "Supply Side Jesus," created by Al Franken.

Either you will get this, or you won't. No shame, either way.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I've finally seen "Idiocracy"

After being told by many friends and acquaintances over the last few months that I "must see" this movie, Mrs. Wit and I settled in and watched Mike Judge's Idiocracy for the first time.

And the verdict is: I may have to buy this movie. It's just that good. It's more than just good, it's scary. The general population of the future presented in this film is pretty much comprised of the sorts of people mocked intelligence and manners in high school and, well, the White House of today.

See this movie. It shows, in part, my vision of the Dim Age we are now entering.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Doubt comes to a muslim? Stay tuned...

I think My Pakistani BuddyTM is starting to have some doubts, but I'm sure I'm wrong.

Not quite a year ago (or was it longer than that?) he got his own place. I mean, his own place without having to share it with anyone. A home of his own. A group of us at the office put together a care package for him, and I decided to throw in a copy of the Q'ran because I knew he would appreciate it. That, and I intend to read the thing, myself, and thought it would be good for him to have a copy close by for discussion purposes. He was overwhelmed by my gift. Not, as you might think, because of its thoughtfulness, but rather because the copy I gave him was a side-by-side translation in English next to the traditional Arabic.

When I asked him why the English version was such a big deal, he described to me the extent of his "Sunday School" education in Islam, which was pretty typical for the average Pakistani: he did not read the Q'ran in his native Urdu, but rather learned the Arabic for specific passages by rote only!

That's right! He's never read the whole thing! He's never even read part of the thing in a language (by his own admission) he even understands!

Wow! I thought. This is worse than the average Sunday School experience of most Christians! No wonder some Muslims are persuaded to blow up others along with themselves! No wonder some Christians are talked into murder doctors willing to perform abortion procedures! These people are not encouraged to read the texts and interpret for themselves! They are discouraged from following avenues that may lead to critical thinking!

I found myself wondering if My Pakistani BuddyTM would find the Q'ran as discomfiting as I found the Bible to be, when I started reading the whole thing...

Fast forward to today.

He's back from Pakistan, after being too close to the Bhutto assassination event. He's engaged. And he's been a bit quiet, of late. At first I thought he was just shaken up from being next to a major world event and acquiring a fiance in short order... now I'm wondering.

He sent me a link to the following YouTube video. Before going to Pakistan, I am almost positive he would have found this offensive.

Is it possible that between reading the Q'ran and witnessing senseless violence in his birth land, he's starting to have doubts?

I'm having lunch with him, today. I introduced him to massaman curry and he's now a slave to the stuff. Maybe we'll talk about it, then... but I'll let him bring it up, out of politeness.

Time will tell.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

You've gotta love the Japanese

I got a little nostalgic, yesterday, and did a Dogpile video search for Andy Summers' song Love Is The Strangest Way.

Instead of finding the video, I got this really odd Japanese anime potty training video.

I'm trying really hard not to think about how the subject matter of this video relates to the song title.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cocktail of the week #14: Rob Roy

(Note: I'm posting two cocktails of the week this week to make up for being sick last time.)

When you get right down to it, this week's cocktail is a waste of scotch.

Okay. Let's not be harsh. It's a waste of good scotch. It may not be a horrific use for bad scotch.

What we're looking at here is essentially a manhattan made with scotch instead of the usual bourbon or (preferably) rye. Minus the cherry and orange peel. Oh... and the bitters are optional.

I'm very fond of manhattans, but I am also fond of scotch. I new of this drink most of my adult life, but I was not prepared to try it.

And I finally did. In fact, I tried it three times. One without bitters, once with Peychaud's bitters, and once with Angostura.


It's a waste of good scotch. If you happen to have bad scotch, it's pretty good with the Angostura bitters... but why would one willingly choose to have bad scotch in their home in the first place?

Hits: 8
Misses: 10

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Resolution 888 = Rewriting American History!

Anyone with the cojones to rewrite American history, to deny the truth of our past, ultimately has no true love for this country. Instead, they scorn the very things that make this country great: the freedom to be who you want to be, even if others don't like it.

Read the attachment. Write your congressman. Call your congressman. Hell, show up at his or her doorstep and demand they put a stop to this!

If this lie becomes official truth, we're one step closer to having a mass migration of the intellectually honest to Canada. Seriously.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cocktail of the week #13: Presbyterian

Ever had a Jack & Coke?

It was the rage of the late 90s and now it's a standard cocktail, but when I was an undergrad it was considered a vile drink. My drinking buddies and I often referred to the combination as "shoe polish."

If I were to mix whiskey, back then (especially Jack Daniels, which has a harsh bite and is over-rated, IMHO), it would be with a lemon-lime soda such as Sprite or 7-Up. Sometimes even ginger ale. I never thought there might be a name for this combination... and there still might be one, for all I know. I'm still found of this manner of drinking whiskey, today, and often keep diet ginger ale in the house for that purpose.

Last week's cocktail, brought to you today, appears to be a relative of this favored mix of mine. A presbyterian is essentially whiskey and ginger ale cut with club soda.

I have to say, I was really looking forward to it, especially after being on antibiotics for the past ten days. SO last night I mixed one and... it seemed watery(!).

This was a bit of a surprise to me because I happen to enjoy plain old whiskey and club soda a great deal; so I decided to make another one, tonight, before making a final judgement.

And the verdict?

The club soda watering down the ginger ale is what kills this drink for me.

Forget about the presbyterian: instead, make the unnamed version with uncut club soda or ginger ale with the whiskey, instead, for a fine cocktail experience.

Hits: 8
Misses: 9

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Notes on Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto"

I finally got around to watching “Apocalypto,” Mel ("I'm not a drunken anti-semite") Gibson’s follow-up to “The Passion of the Christ.” I was not sure what to expect, other than violence. But could the violence match the spectacle of “Passion,” a film I have on more than one occasion referred to as “The Greatest Snuff Film of All Time?”

Yes and no. Yes, “Apocalypto” matches in spectacle, but it is nowhere nearly as horrific in its violence. Instead, it goes for something different: an average action/adventure/chase story loaded with more subtext than the average Congressional bill has pork.

WARNING! The rest of this entry is loaded with spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, I’m going to walk you through the movie and take you through my thoughts more or less as I had them.

“Apocalypto” opens with a bunch of Happy Pre-Columbian Jungle Dwelling Villagers engaged in a tapir hunt. When they finally kill the tapir, there is a gratuitous slow-motion shot of the trap going of that told my spider-sense that we were experiencing foreshadowing. (And was it ever, as we shall see.)

The Happy Pre-Clombian Jungle Dwelling Villager Hunting Party gather around that tapir and Our Hero, a hunter named Jaguar Paw, distributes pieces of the animal to others in the party. They all appear to be brothers hunting with their father (named Flint Sky), but this is never made absolutely clear. Three of the hunters are given the heart, the liver and the ears, but one hunter (named Blunted, for all too obvious reasons) is given the testicles. Blunted is disappointed and offended, and lets his brother Jaguar Paw know it while their father, Flint Sky, looks on.

Blunted is embarrassed because he has not been able to father a child. Jaguar Paw insists Blunted eat the tapir’s testes to give him virility an potency, claiming Flint Sky did the same thing to father all his children. Flint Sky nods solemnly, but in such a way as to tell the viewer it’s a setup… and Blunted is the Big Dumb Galoot of the village.

We are then entreated to an all too graphic scene of Blunted attempting to eat the testes, and almost barfing from it, to the amusement of the others. Eventually, Blunted starts laughing too, delighting in the joke.

Okay, I’m thinking, this must be more foreshadowing: Blunted is going to be instrumental in the plot and he’s going to get some form of vindication later on.

But it doesn’t stop there: his father, taking pity on him, gives him some special leaves to rub on his genitals the next time he performs his Marital Duties with his wife. Of course, I could already guess where this is heading.

By this point I’m thinking the director must have big plans for Blunted as a supporting character. Maybe use this social abuse as a means of working in a metaphor about brotherly love, christian forgiveness, etc. That, and by the end Blunted will probably knock up two or three women in one night, showing up his brothers and old man, right?

Sigh… sadly, that is not the case. But we’ll get there.

Before the “burning balls” scene, the hunting party encountered a bunch of other villagers on the run from unnamed pursuers. These same pursuers, of course, come to destroy the village, kill a bunch of people, and take the survivors (save for the children who are abandoned and never seen again for the rest of the film) to their city. Jaguar Paw also hides his very pregnant wife and their young son in a dry well, which succeeds in providing both a sub-plot (how the mother and child survive down there) and a motivation for Jaguar Paw to escape from his captors.

Some issues I had with the destruction of the village:

Problem 1 - Blunted’s wife is killed during this. Okay, maybe Blunted will find new love in the Mayan city to which they are being taken…

Problem 2 - Blunted appears to be mortally wounded, but on a slow decline. How is he going to survive the hole in his belly?

Problem 3 - The bad guys were painfully clearly Bad Guys. They sneer, laugh with evil joy, and are only lacking Snidely Whiplash mustaches to twirl, they are so damn evil! How boring. We are also given a “noble bad guy” named Zero Wolf. He leads the raiding party and becomes Jaguar Paw’s main nemesis. Zero Wolf starts out as a guy with a dirty assignment just doing his job. He later becomes driven by vendetta when Jaguar Paw kills Zero Wolf’s son during his escape from the Mayan City. At times I liked Zero Wolf better than Jaguar Paw; to the point that I was almost sorry to see Zero Wolf die, later in the film. Mel Gibson take note: it’s never good to have your villains more sympathetic than your heros. But I digress…

Anyway: so the bad guys come and destroy the village, kidnap the viable adults and walk them to a Mayan city (I won’t go into the historical inaccuracies portrayed there).

In the Mayan city there are plenty of gore-filled sacrifice scenes. In fact, the sacrifices were kind of Catholic in their pageantry, but I doubt that was Gibson’s intent. The now Not So Happy Villagers are brought up, one by one to have their hearts torn out and heads cut off.

When it’s Jaguar Paw’s turn, he is saved by a timely solar eclipse: the eclipse is the signal that the sun god is satisfied with the sacrifices. Jaguar Paw and the rest of the survivors are then to be disposed of via target practice. This is where three things take place:

  1. Jaguar Paw escapes, setting the rest of the film in motion.
  2. Jaguar Paw kills Zero Wolf’s son, giving the antagonist reason for his pursuit.
  3. Blunted is killed, making this viewer ask: “Why did his peers torture him, only to have him killed off? It doesn’t make storytelling sense!” (It did later, I realized.)
Once Jaguar Paw makes it into the jungle “Apocalypto” becomes a standard Rambo-like chase flick in which Our Hero picks off the pursuers one by one using only his wits and the resources of the environment. And, yes, that foreshadowing at the beginning of the film comes to pass. Zero Wolf is dispatched by the same hunting trap that killed the tapir.

In an interesting twist, there are still two bad guys left pursuing Jaguar Paw after Zero Wolf dies. I wondered why Gibson would do that… the answer? For the sake of the climax. Our Hero Jaguar Paw is saved by… the Catholic Church!

I am not making this up.

Jaguar Paw and his two pursuers reach the beach and stop dead in their tracks at the sight of sailing ships moored just off shore. A rowboat full of soldiers and priests, brandishing a very large, very visible cross, rose towards them. The two remaining bad guys forget about their quarry and walk, mesmerized, towards the rowboats.

Our Hero sees his chance and breaks for it. Jaguar Paw rescues his family from the well and they run off into the forest to hide - but not before his wife looks imploringly at the sailing ships and asks her husband if they should not go to them. Jaguar Paw, quite intelligently, says “no,” trusting no one after his brush with the Maya. His wife looks back with some regret and then they walk into the jungle… …roll credits.

Parts of this movie were just not making sense to me until I saw the ships at the beach. Then it all started coming together.

First, let’s talk about the opening scenes involving the hunters, village life, and the social maltreatment of Blunted, the local pariah. Ostensibly these are the scenes of the “idealistic simple happy life” the forest dwellers have before the bad guys came and destroyed everything. It left me uneasy, because the cruelty - outright cruelty - shown to the big guy was wrong. It departs from formula, here, because no lesson of tolerance is given. The abuse is accepted, even by Blunted, who finds it funny… but this is not about realism. It’s about subtext. It is actually a scorn shown by the filmmaker for his characters: they are, when you get down to it, dumb savages who enjoy torturing one another. The are so dumb they even enjoy being tortured by one another, to an extent. Clearly they need to be taught about Right Living and How to Play Nice With Others.

That’s why so many get to die. That’s why the children are abandoned and never heard from again. That’s why, at the end of the movie, all the women and men who are not killed during the raid are sold as slaves, sacrificed to the gods or used as target practice: they deserve it for being such cruel savages!

And the clearly dying urban Mayan culture we are entreated to are part of the film’s centerpiece? THey deserve their outbreaks of syphilis and leprosy, the failing corn crops, the civil unrest: they are just as much savages as the Now Not So Happy Forest Dwellers!
In the end, we learn, it is only Jesus that can save you. That’s what caused the two remaining pursuers to stop their chase of Jaguar Paw. Even Jaguar Paw’s wife realizes this as she reluctantly follows her husband into the jungle.

With “Passion” Mel Gibson was way too overt.

“Apocalypto” may be a little to subtle. Most viewers will see the Rambo flick, and not the tortured Christian message underlying the story.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hitchens: God Is Not Great

I finished "God Is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens (who was also one of the presenters at last October's Freedom From Religion Foundation convention).

Here's a good idea of what this man is all about (from Canada's "The Hour" news program). I agree with what he says, but I'm hesitant about his intolerance.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sometimes I fear this is the truth...

Comedian Louis CK's take on the Catholic Church.

Watching the intro, it's pretty similar to my own story. And at times I feel I could have written this material. This guy is hilarious.

The sad truth is, this nonsense has been going on for a long time. My mother once told me a common joke she heard as a child went like this:

Q - How do you get a nun pregnant?
A - Dress her like an altar boy.

And as I have told many friends and family as my wedding day approached: "I don't need a self-professed celibate man in a dress telling me how to have a successful relationship and a fulfilling love life."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Huckabee knows Jesus

I've already made comment on Mitt Romney.

Huckabee, his closest competitor, ain't much better.

Time to move on, people. Let's look at what the other parties have to offer for the Presidency.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Very well said!

This editorial is worth reading. It crystalizes the importance of protecting the First Amendment, a shining jewel in the crown that is the Constitution of the United States of America.

Anyone who says there is "no such thing in the Constitution" as separation of Church and State has never tried to understand the language used in the the Establishment Clause.

Look up the meaning of the word "establishment" as it was used at the time of the Constitution's authoring, and you'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Update on My Pakistani Buddy!

He just let a bunch of us know he made it to Dubai.

He should be home in a little over 24 hours.

I let out a huge sigh of relief when I got the news.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Especially now.

Why I'm glad I didn't drink last night

Well, I got through a New Year's Eve without imbibing in the pleasures of Demon Rum.

I thought one guy got blitzed, but it turns out he's an asshole even when sober. Go figure.

And now, a song most of last night's revelers all around the world can relate to (for the most part):

Happy New Year, everyone. Let's have a safe 2008.