Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gag Me

Forgive my lack of a direct link to this video (YouTube is on the fritz), but today’s latest ad from John McCain’s camp (the one with shots of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton titled “Celeb”) is perhaps the weakest I’ve seen for a presidential campaign in recent memory.

Here’s some free advice, Senator: sack whoever came up with this strategic abortion, and then flog yourself for five minutes in a dark room for agreeing to put your name on it.

PS: I wonder if Britney or Paris gave McCain permission to use their likeness in this ad? If so, they are truly dumber than I ever thought.

Elle Woods - Official Campaign Mastermind, McCain 2008
(also pictured: Bruiser Woods, co-chair and Obama spy)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Cult of Bush

Today, a report by the US Inspector General’s Office was released addressing allegations of illegally screening of Bush DOJ candidates based on their political leanings.

The short version: conservative, good; liberal, bad.

Among the questions asked candidates by hand-picked DOJ staffer Monica Goodling included the following:

“What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?”

“Tell us about your political philosophy. There are different groups of conservatives, by way of example: Social Conservative, Fiscal Conservative, Law & Order Republican.”

“Aside from the President, give us an example of someone currently or recently in public service who you admire.”

And this kicker….

“If during a cabinet meeting with President Bush, he motioned you over, told you kneel under the table, and suck one of his balls as he discussed an upcoming summit with the G8 leadership, which ball would you choose and why?”

Well, the last question is a joke.

But the bigger joke is that considering the near-cultlike air of devotion to George W. Bush insisted upon in his administration, it’s not that far removed from reality.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


The following WSJ column by Andrew Klavan is so bizarre I hesitate to even post it here, but its mere title (“What Bush and Batman Have In Common”) so defies reality, much less logical thinking, that I figured I’d do it anyhow.

As Mr. Klavan so hamhandedly puts it: “[When] our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes men must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; and that while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be heroes, true heroes often must slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised -- then and only then will we be able to pay President Bush his due and make good and true films about the war on terror.”

Wow, I am so fucking gobsmacked – especially when Klavan fails to note that “TDK” also contains scenes warning against the use of god-like technologies marketed as having the public’s safety at heart while steamrolling privacy rights. Further, it strikes me that George W. Bush’s record of ignoring the constitution, having total disregard for the law, allowing torture, and starting wars for political expediency are also actions that a certain hero-guy would likely shatter more than one jaw with a boot to the face to prevent.

So in the final wash, what does this tell us?

a) Andrew Klavan spins a creative—if deeply flawed—core thesis, and; b) his reading of Batman (and apparently American politics) is disturbingly skewed to the arch-right, whose—despite Bush’s historically low public approval ratings—last, stalwart defenders continue to hope beyond hope that their own hero will (like Truman) one day be vindicated by history as a great president.

Not bloody likely, boys.

But while you’re waiting for history to come around to your way of thinking, maybe you should all get together with the three remaining members of The Flat Earth Society—of which, ironically, Bush is a charter member—to drown your sorrows, and bitch about how nobody knows the troubles you’ve seen but Jesus.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

To: The Cubs (Re: A Brief Reminder)

The All-Star Break is over, team. Wake the hell up.

"Step Brothers": A Very Brief Review

If Cicero, or Walt Whitman, or Sylvia Plath had ever written a screwball buddy comedy, “Step Brothers” would be it.

Instant effing classic.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dick Morris Is An Asshole

On this evening’s “Hannity & Colmes” on Fox, during the lead story on Senator Obama’s trip to Europe and the Middle East this week, former Clinton staffer, born-again right-wing flack, and prostitute toe sucker Dick Morris stated that he wouldn't mind seeing Israel attack Iran this fall for two reasons: a) eliminating its WMD program (where the fuck have we heard that before?), and; b) to influence the presidential campaign in a way that favors John McCain’s military-based background.

Part A of Morris’ suggestion is baffling in so much as how he thinks the US (which, considering it an ally of Israel, could be drawn into) could wage a third Mideast war without, say, enacting a draft – but his clear enthusiasm in Part B via putting American armed service personnel at risk as a ploy to sway a presidential election is so evil and underhanded I’m not even sure Karl Rove would try it.

Oh wait, he did.

Either way, to paraphrase that sweet old lady in “Blazing Saddles,” IMHO, Dick Morris is now officially the leading asshole in the nation.

Congratulations, sir.

The orifice in question

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hail To The Walking Dead

Wow. The GOP and its supporters are even more desperate than I thought if they want to ditch McCain at the 11th hour, and run a dead man on their ticket this year. Good thing for America the Founding Fathers had the foresight to put a “No Zombies” clause into the constitution to head off exactly this type of political chicanery.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pining For Padreville (Sort Of)

Am feeling a little tinge of jealousy for the comic-related bloggers I know who are making the big, trans-continental trek to San Diego this week.

It’s a trip I have always enjoyed for the two times I have visited (in ‘07, and ’06), but decided to take a break from this year.

It’s odd.

It feels as if last July when I was rummaging thru the con’s vendor booths, wandering the zoo, and playing disc golf at Morley Field was just six months ago.

Sitting At The Big Table

Over at National Review Online (NRO), a July 16th column by right-wing wailer Michelle (Mangalang) Malkin (remember her? the would-be pundit who alienated herself [even among her conservative peers] by attacking a sick, 9 year-old kid in 2007 for supporting Maryland’s CAPS program, and more recently bemoaned Rachel Ray’s choices in “facist” neckwear?) is crying anew…this time, about the following quote by Senator Barack Obama in The New Yorker (that one with the satirical cover) which Malkin calls “a self-parody of deaf, dumb, and blind liberalism”:

The essence of this tragedy [terrorist jihad-style attacks such as 9/11], it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics.

Although I’ll be the first to admit that Obama’s statement is a tad long-winded, what Malkin utterly fails to understand is that: a) Obama is dead-on in his analysis, and; b) evil itself is often defined as a total absence of empathy for others, which enables them to rape, torture, and murder without a hint of regret (i.e. 9/11, The Holocaust, the Kymer Rouge takeover of Cambodia, The Rape of Nanking, not to mention the past 25 years of inter-tribal warfare in central Africa).

So next time you try and be a big girl and write a grown-up column, sweetie-bear, try reading the dictionary beforehand - particularly the page defining "empathy."

It might help.

Friday, July 18, 2008

"The Dark Knight": A Very Brief Review

Although it is not a film without problems, “The Dark Knight” is certainly the most audacious “adult” comic-book movie ever produced.

But for the record, any and all hype on Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker is well-deserved. It’s ingenious. And Joker’s complex relationship with The Batman (with Christian Bale turning in another fine performance) is probed as deeply as “Dark Knight’s” near three-hour time span (critics were right, it is too long) will allow.

All other supporting performances—especially Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon—are strong, and hold up well within a script co-written by Chris and Jonathan Nolan who—for my taste—leave a few questions dubiously unanswered, and more than one sub-plot out meandering on its own.

For my take, “The Dark Knight” is not the best comic movie ever made (that mark still goes to 1978’s “Superman,” bad poetry and all), but it unquestionably makes all previous Bat-films that preceded it (save “Batman Begins”) resemble childish projects best left in a sunless and remote corner of one’s video vault.

In “TDK,” Batman has at last grown-up into the character he always should have been on-screen: menacing, conflicted, driven, and more than a bit unhinged.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More Bat-Mania

Found the following link (via Yahoo News) to a new Scientific American article questioning what it would take for a real person to collect the skills necessary to become a real-life Batman.

My guess Step One involves learning to obsessively incorporate the word "Goddamn" into one's daily speech, as in: "I'll have the Goddamn eggs benedict with wheat toast," or "I think I'd be a strong candidate for this position for the following Goddamn reasons."

Indian Summer

Now that my income situation has been righted, I’ll be able to attend the first annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention in the city this Saturday.

The event is long sold out, indicating the resurgence in local interest for Hawks hockey after suffering for decades under the idiotic boot of late team owner Bill Wirtz, whose death has dramatically triggered scores of positive changes for the team. For local hockey fans, it literally feels as if a long-seated dictator has finally expired, and sunshine is breaking through the clouds for the first time in ages.

Anyhow, enough with the past.

My plan for the Hawks Con is simple: I’ll be standing in lines collecting autographs—on a blank Hawks practice jersey I bought earlier this year for this specific occasion—from players and coaches.

It’ll be fun to see how many I can collect throughout the day.

PS (7-20-08): The inaugural edition of HawksCon went off without a hitch yesterday. All the team’s staff, players, alumni, and ownership were very gracious. I also met team president Rocky Wirtz (taller than I expected, and very pleasant), and picked up a couple of jersey autographs by Craig Adams and Brent Seabrook.

I would have liked to have gotten more, but the lines for signing were very long.

Otherwise, the only downside to the event was during a team ownership Q&A when a dumb meatball of fan stepped up to mike, and began lecturing Hawks’ management—including head coach Denis Savard—about how to handle their minor league talent.

I know these kinds of sports fans (e.g. grade-school drop-outs who love expressing their inflated sense of self-importance) live everywhere, but Jesus, go back to your tattered barstool, nurse your flat beer, and shut the hell up. No one--except maybe the poor barkeep who has to listen to your mindless blathering each night--gives a fuck what you think.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Brett Favre is A Whiny Bitch

The title of this post pretty much says it all.

I am neither a Green Bay Packers or Chicago Bears fan, but I’ll be the first to admit that Brett Favre is one of the greatest (despite his penchant for throwing picks) quarterbacks in NFL history. However, his decision to grouse on his retirement now--two weeks out from the Packers opening their training camp, drafting two new QBs, and placing Aaron Rogers in the starter role for 2008--could not possibly be timed worse.

Yes, Favre was a major component in the Packers’ resurgence as an NFL franchise after suffering under the dominance of the Bears in the ‘80s, but (IMO) that does not give him the right to put the team into such an awkward position by, at 38, belly-aching about wanting to play again so late into its plans for the coming season.

Interestingly, at the Milwaukee TV newsroom where my brother works, he reports that even local Packer fans are less than enthused with Favre’s comeback, and its poor timing.

As for the Packers’ options on Favre, they are limited between cutting ties with him (not likely), dealing him to another team (also unlikely), or putting him on the team’s 2008 roster (a logistical nightmare). So in a nutshell, Favre has put the Packers in a quandary from which there is no easy solution – all motivated by, I would argue, pure selfishness.

There are few things more pathetic in life than an athlete who doesn’t know when to hang it up gracefully. Truthfully, Brett Favre did so this spring when he retired from a stellar career in the NFL.

So why the hell is Favre fucking that all up now? Not only for himself, but for his former teammates and coaches - not to mention Packer fans themselves.

Random Notes

Just a quick update on the employment situation: I had an interview for a new contract yesterday, and got an offer this morning. It pays less than my previous position, but is far closer to home - so I guess it all shakes out in the wash.

I start next week, which means I have to bail out of a part-time gig I’ve worked for four weeks now to help make ends meet. I’m almost sorry to leave. My co-workers are nice, but the job was nothing but a way to place a semblance of order on my life, while making an extra hundred a week. And in that respect, the job served its purpose and it’s time to go.

I’ll quit on Friday after my noon screening of “Dark Knight” – speaking of which, on my drive into a hot, moist Chicago today to sign off on paperwork for the new job, I heard the following track on XM Lucy, which is arguably the only good thing to come out of “Batman & Robin.”

Remember this dreck? (the movie, not the Pumpkins song)

Yet looking at it does show how incredibly far the Batman movie franchise—once considered stone dead after Joel Schumacher got thru with it—has come in less than a decade.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Context, Context, Context

Although many Barack Obama supporters—and Obama himself—have expressed outrage over the new cover of The New Yorker sporting a controversial cartoon by Barry Blitt titled “The Politics of Fear,” I think the piece works brilliantly as the satire it is (we are told) intended to be.

We’re the cartoon to have any other title, I’d probably side with those offended by it.

But if its intent is to mock extreme right-wing media types who desperately try to mischaracterize Obama and his wife as Muslim and/or Black Panther-style, flag-burning, America-hating radicals, I think it’s dead-on.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Hellish Corner of The Fridge

FYI: This stuff? Interesting in concept, but horribly foul with an equally wretched after-taste. Nothing to see here.

Don't let that bottle's seductive look fool you. It's contents are as
nasty as a Bulgarian truck stop hooker.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bone Me

Having played disc golf for over a year now, it’s fun to see one’s skills develop, and how at the same time, you learn to love some discs more than others.

For my money, no disc I have is better than the Quest T-Bone – a mid-range shooter that is wonderfully controllable, and lacks the tendency to hyzer hard left (if you’re a right-handed thrower) after the disc loses velocity. The T-Bone’s flight is also very stable, and it has a nice lift action right off the hand.

Finally, the T-Bone is more affordable than most “high-end” drivers, and does a better all-around job for both long and short throws.

I’ll be happy to keep my bag stocked with them for (hopefully, barring a bad shoulder injury) years to come.

PS: Believe it or not, I wasn't paid cash to make this statement. But to quote Freddie Bauer, when I find something that works, I stick with it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Halfway Mark

Now that the first half of the Cubs' regular season is almost over, at a mark of 56-37 (second best in the majors by two percentage points) the team is in damned good shape, with Alfonso Soriano due to come off the DL after the All-Star Break .

Speaking of which, have ever said how idiotic MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s idea of giving home field advantage in the World Series to the winning All-Star team is?

I did?

Well, it bears repeating (again and again) considering it puts the team with the better regular season record at a disadvantage, and through no fault of their own.

At any rate, as a lifelong Cub fan, although I’m glad to see seven guys make the NL All-Star squad, I’d sooner see them stay home, rest, and watch the game on TV, as I have this nagging anxiety of a key Cub (Aramis Ramirez, D. Lee, Geo Soto, Kosuke, Zambrano, etc) getting hurt in what still amounts to a meaningless game.

Provided that never happens, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the year finishes out.

Take a nap, boys. You've earned it.

"Hellboy 2": A Very Brief Review

“Hellboy 2: The Golden Army” is a lavish, but tipsy balancing act for writer-director Guillermo Del Toro strung between his mutual goals of telling a story, and showing off the wild fruits of his imagination. His “Pan’s Labyrinth” is a great example of accomplishing both at once, but “Hellboy 2” (albeit a completely different kind of story than “Pan”) often meanders between these borders – and the result on screen suffers because of it.

Yes, I found “Hellboy 2” an improvement over the first film—which I also enjoyed—and though I had no trouble following Del Toro’s main plot (involving a “real life” fairy tale), he often upstages it with optical free-for-alls crammed with dozens of creatures (plant, animal, and something in-between) which are beautiful, but also distracting.

There’s a lot to enjoy in “Hellboy 2,” but as we’re finally a week away from the most anticipated movie of the summer—if not several years—it is more a tasty appetizer for the bigger feast to come.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What It's Like in Stratford-Upon-Avon

I think I would seriously consider murder—okay, pretend murder—to see this RSC stage production this summer.

And in Shakespeare’s hometown, no less.

Common Sense Wins Out (This Time)

Despite my initial concerns, it looks like some genius at Marvel Studios finally wised up over dicking Jon Favreau around on his contract to helm the Shellhead sequel (tentatively due in 2010).

Thanks to Superhero Hype for the tip.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Demon Dogs

Although I finally have a job interview slated for next week, amidst my recent glut of free time I’ve found my daily clock expanding to later hours which have been typically occupied by watching reruns of “Thundarr the Barbarian” on Boomerang late nights.

It’s frankly too bad that only 21 “Thundarr” episodes--which were co-conceived by Steve Gerber, and Jack Kirby among others—ever aired on ABC Saturday mornings during the early 80s; they still hold up fairly well over time despite borrowing heavily from "Star Wars" and "Planet of The Apes."

However, for some reason I keep watching the same episodes when they keep re-airing over and over – almost as if I’m looking for some detail I missed in the previous six or seven viewings.

Nevertheless, there’s just something about watching Thundarr and his pals Ariel and Ookla jumping their steeds over a 2000 year-old Volkswagen that never gets old.

If there were horses in this shot, ten bucks says Thundarr would be yelling "Ride!"
He's like that, y'know.

A bit of “Thundarr” trivia: actor Bob Ridgely (who voiced Thundarr) died of cancer in 1997 shortly after production of “Boogie Nights,” in which he played his final role – that of “The Colonel”; also, Nellie Bellflower (who voiced Ariel) has since become a successful film producer on such flicks as “Finding Neverland” and “Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day.” Finally, Canadian voice actor Henry Corden (Ookla) is perhaps best-known for taking over the role of Fred Flintstone after Alan Reed quit voicing the character in the 1970s; Mr. Corden was also good friends with Hollywood legends Buster Keaton and Bela Lugosi. He died in 2005.

Marketing Genius

Will someone please explain to me why Sonic has been buying TV advertising in a major market like Chicago for years, and the nearest outlet is in East Peoria?

I mean, the ads are clever—especially ones sporting the lovely SC alum Molly Erdman—but why can’t we Chicagoans share the Banana Split Blast love? Do we suck?

Don’t answer that.

I was being rhetorical, dumbass...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Time Is Running Out

Bumped into the following by The James Taylor Quartet on Boomerang last night amidst the network's clever variety of animated shorts staggered at the top and bottom of each hour.

If anyone can find an audio-only version of this "Jonny Quest" theme by the JTQ, I'd be very grateful for a link.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

History Alive!

Good God, who knew our Founding Fathers were inclined?

Happy B-Day weekend, America!

Stay classy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Feel The Need For Speed (or OxyContin)

And the award for the greatest example of homoerotic media since "Top Gun" (which, if you don’t know, contains more smoldering gay lust than “Brokeback Mountain”) goes to....hey, it’s Rush Limbaugh's cover shot for this week's New York Times Magazine feature by Zev Chavets!

And guess what? It’s a pretty good piece, revealing—among other things—the severity of Limbaugh’s hearing loss in 2001, plus details of his grand 24,000 square foot Florida estate Rush uses to entertain friends, his cigar fetish, genius for self-promotion, and way of chafing under suggestions that media competitors like fellow RNC flack Sean Hannity are chipping away at his listener base.

Interestingly, Limbaugh also likens Bill O’Reilly to Ted Baxter in the article—a comment I found surprisingly accurate—and that between ex-wives, Rush’s only housemate is a cat named “Punkin” who is looked after by a full-time staff of illegal immigrant laborers whom Rush quietly pays the lavish sum of 86 cents per day (before taxes), and rents a 6 x 6 space on his bunkhouse floor for 84 cents per night (also before taxes).

If only I could be as remarkable a man.