Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Onion releases a direct-to-dvd movie

Yep, doesn't need much more commentary than that. Though I suggest a renting before a purchasing, because while the trailer made me laugh exactly twice, it seems like this could be a bit thin stretched over 90 minutes.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Just because

Chances are you've already seen this photo plenty, but because I'm on a one-man mission to make sure it doesn't die, take a close gander once more. Just for funsies...

Good buddies Donal Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein gather to discuss brill cream, long-winded speeches, and general evil

Odd yet Unexpected Politics Day

In two un-related yet somehow seemingly inter-connected stories, Sean Hannity turns out to be a racist (big surprise) and a leftist radical gets re-arrested for no reason (even bigger surprise).

Hannity, the man so concerned about Barak Obama's preacher's "racism," turns out to have a bit more racist connection of his own. Apparently Mr. Hannity is close friends with Hal Turner, a notorious white power advocate who has applauded the firebombing of an apartment complex housing "savage negroes" and has called for murder as a way to regulate America's population of un-documented immigrants. Not even mentioning his calls for forced steralization of all minorities, you can see the guy has a bit of problem with racial diversity. And in addition to being a regular commentator on Hannity's radio show, the two have apprently had an extensive personal relationship over the years.

In other news, local radical and former SLA-member Sarah Jane Olson was re-arrested this weekend after being relased upon serving 6 years in a federal prison. Turns out, despite the fact that she was granted patrol over a month ago, after some political pressure from right-wing police unions and "victim advocacy" groups (which are in all actuality, police-funded P.R. fronts) a "mistake" was found in the records and the judge is now claiming she still owes a year on her sentence. Ms. Olson, in addition to being a founding member of the coolest cooperative in the Twin Cities, was convicted of second-degree murder after participating in an SLA bank robbbery during which a bank patron was killed. Now certainly no one defends that crime, but last I checked, once someone serves their sentence, they're free to go. I don't remember the clause in the constitution that says you can put people back into prison because you disagree with their politics. I'm pretty sure that's the kind of thing an old Iraqi dictator did that was so offensive it required 4,000 American lives and 1,000,000+ Iraqi lives to get rid of. Just saying...

But in happier news, there's only 7 days, 7 hours, and 59 minutes until the first pitch of the season for the local boys, who neither spout racist right-wing rhetoric nor unlawfully imprison leftists. So at least there's something to look forward to in this world...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Most Brilliant Car Thieves in the World

After spending a nice spring break in Appleton, Wisconsin (home of Houdini, Joe McCarthy, and Willem Defeo), I came home to find someone had bashed out the passenger side window on my car. The irony of this is that there was literally nothing to steal in my car, and true enough nothing is gone. For crying out loud, I have a $5 AM/FM stereo I bought at a junkyard and wooden cupholders my dad made me after a previous robbery. I'm not really sure what they thought they were going to get out of this operation in the first place.

But there was one thing missing: the ash tray.

And this wasn't a secret stash-of-money ashtray. I don't have any stashes of cash, because I'm about as broke as my car. Nope, it was just a tiny ash tray full of old candy wrappers and half-chewed gum. What they could want with it was beyond me.

Until it hit me--you may remember that this past winter, some vandals stole my cupholders. Well, there's really nothng else to conclude than that this was the same group of people. Having satiated their thirst (pardon the pun) for my cupholders, they have returned for the ash tray.

And it can only follow from that that somewhere in a dank warehouse in this fair city, sits my cupholders and my ash tray side-by-side. These are not isolated events, this is the work of mastermind car thieves who are stealing my precious little Nissan piece by piece until they can reconstruct it elsewhere. It may be the most insidious and hard-to-detect form of car thievery in existance.

So you can bet your sweet ass that as soon as that glass is replaced, I'm keeping a watchful eye on my shifter knob before those bastards come back and take that and the volume knobs on my stereo. After all, at this rate, my entire car will be gone by 2029...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Palm Sunday

"Enough with the slaughters. Enough with the violence. Enough with the hatred in Iraq!"

--Pope Benedict XVI, Palm Sunday Mass 2008.

Friday, March 14, 2008

This is actualy happening

Yes, a scant 21 years after the original, the Hollywood brain trust has finally greenlighted Lost Boys II: The Tribe.

Lost Boys is completely a "you had to be there" movie. As the use of the phrase "suck monkey" in the trailer indicates, unless you were born and/or spent your formative years in the 1980s, Lost Boys probably holds nothing for you.

But if you were born and/or spent your formative years in the 1980s, then you are probably incredibly excited right now. That movie could politely be termed a ubiqitous part of growing up in the 80s; I don't even really like it, and I've probably seen it a good half-dozen times or so. And I'm going to go see the sequel, despite the fact that I know it will be terrible, and as I mentioned, I'm not even that big a fan of the first one. Yet, I feel oddly drawn to it.

Maybe it's because Feldman's trademark red bandana survives the trip into the 21st century. Maybe it's because both Feldman and Haim will be in the flick. Or maybe it's because the head vampire will be played by Angus Sutherland, half-brother of Keifer, the original head vampire.

But in any event, check out the bad-ass trailer (and multiple Corey Feldman interviews) here:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This is approximately where I get off the train

Don't get me wrong, I'm down. I've played every version of Guitar Hero, and have a band with some buddies on Rock Band (which happens to be ranked 4,763 in the world...be on the lookout for Dr. Murderfist). Hell, one night when really bored, I made a MySpace page for my fictitious band in the game. So I understand that these games are really fun, and a great way to waste the limited disposable-income of your youth.

And as a decent, but by no means good musician, I understand the vicarious thrill of being able to simulate rocking out really well. But I've finally found my jumping off point. Noted favorite of metal bands guitar-makers Peavey have announced they are making full size, "realistic" guitar controllers (pictured a left) for the game(s). From the Peavey website:

"Peavey has released a new line of Guitar Hero controllers made from a life-sized Peavey guitar. These are real wood guitars that have been modified to play the video game."

And you can get one of your own for the low, low price of only $399! In other words, for the price of a decent real guitar, except that one would have strings and the ability to actually produce music. Look, I'm never one to say that people should quit playing video games and attempt to actually live their life, but if you're going to put that much money and time into learning a fake instrument, why not just put the same effort into the real thing? Considering the guitar costs $400, the game costs $150, and there are endless buy-ins that drive the price up even more (not to mention that you need a $200 sytem to play it on), why not put that money toward a real guitar and some lessons? Just a thought.

But if you are heading over to the nearest Peavey dealer to get one of these monstrocities, be forewarned that of the current styles available, 8 of the 20 are Lynyrd Skynyrd themed...I'm not sure how to read that, but apparently the good folks at Peavey asume that of all rock fans, a good 40% are Skynyrd fans above all else. I hope to God this is not true.

In comepletely un-related news, President Bush has been imlpicated in a prostitution ring involving up to 50,000 women and children.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Winter Soldier this weekend!

As those of us in the northernmost state know, winter is not over until May at the earliest. So while the winter soldier meetings being this weekend might seem odd to others, it seems like a perfect time for us up here.

For those not in the know, the original Winter Soldier meetings were held during the Vietnam war. Organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), it brought together over 100 soldiers in Detroit to discuss the atrocities they had commited/seen commited in the name of the United States. While it was blacked out by all corporate media (save the New York Times, which ran a short story about it a week afterwards), it re-ignited the anti-war movement and helped turn the tide decisively against the Vietnam war.

Well, wouldn't you know those cantankerous soldiers are up to no good again. This weekend Winter Soldier 2 is convening in Maryland. Because this one is probably even more likely to be blacked out by the media, you should check it our for yourself.

Here at the U, it will be the beginning of spring break, and I can't figure out a better way to kick-off the week than with harrowing testimony of war crimes commited by our federal government...

Monday, March 10, 2008

War is the Whole Milk in America's refrigerator of shame

I know that fundamentally those "what else could we have done with the money" screeds about war spending are problematic in many ways. Most notably, no one ever really seems to write "what could those people have done with their lives" pieces about the over 1,000,000 dead as a result of this illegal, immoral, and unjust war. It's also a bit of a pointless exercise to ponder spending money that's already been spent.

But yet, there's still apart of me that thinks maybe someday we can see that nearly a third of all Americans lack proper healthcare (or even have any) and think that is a big enough threat to our nation that we drop everything to drop 10 billion dollars a month on it. So, in the interest of hippie-esque daydreaming, here are some things we could spend money on instead of murder:

Estimated cost of war $10 billion a month:

“In FY2007, DOD’s monthly obligations for contracts and pay averaged about $12.3 billion including about $10.3 billion for Iraq and $2.0 billion for Afghanistan.” [CRS Report, 2/22/08]

The total estimated cost of the war is somewhere in the neighborhood of three trillion fucking dollars (when any amount gets over 1,000,000,000,000 it's considered customary to insert an expletive in the middle of it). Here's what the authors of the above article found we could do with that money:

By way of context, Stiglitz and Bilmes list what even one of these trillions could have paid for: 8 million housing units, or 15 million public school teachers, or healthcare for 530 million children for a year, or scholarships to university for 43 million students. Three trillion could have fixed America's social security problem for half a century. America, says Stiglitz, is currently spending $5bn a year in Africa, and worrying about being outflanked by China there: "Five billion is roughly 10 days' fighting, so you get a new metric of thinking about everything."

Remember a few things about this quote: for one, the numbers are only for one trillion, so triple them in your head. You think 24 million new units of housing would help our homeless problem? Or those displaced by Katrina? Or how about 129 million scholarships. Would that possibly help our nation compete on the international stage? Help remedy some of our problems with poverty? Or what about another 150 years of social security? Seems like that couldn't hurt. But even more depressing is the final note on Africa. What we give the entire continent in aid is not even equivalent to half a month's spending on war. Perhaps this is why our international reputation is slightly sullied?

But as I said, the money is already spent, and we're already feeling it here. Or at least anyone who ever uses anything that is publicly funded is feeling it. You know, like when bridges collapse in the middle of major American cities. Or when hurricanes destroy entire cities and the National Guard is all busy somewhere else.

Really, the point of this is as simple as it is preachy: why is that we are only able to mobilize these massive outputs of resources for killing people? Why not try using all of it to help people? Just once, so we can see what happens?

It's like switching to 2% milk. Sure, at first it seems really weird and foreign, but eventually you don't even notice the difference. And it sure is a lot better for you. Maybe there will be a day when we try out the whole milk of war just for old time's sake, and find that it's become so thick and disgusting that we can't even rememeber why we thought it was good to begin with...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

When are ads not ads?

The best local station in the Twin Cities (and probably in running for one of the best nation-wide), The Current, recently finished it's membership drive. Being a public readio station, it's member drive is pretty much the boilerplate PBS/NPR beg-for-cash telethon, but with hip music instead of Lawrence Welk and Dr. Who.

And every year during the mebership drive, I have a strong internal debate about giving them my money. Don't get me wrong, I really like the Current. It plays enough of what I know to make me comfortable, but plenty of new stuff to keep me somewhat in the loop. Though I'm not really big on the indie shoe-gazer crap they're all so in love with, but you take the bad with the good, I suppose. And if it went off the air, I would most assuredly miss it. Good music delivered by knowledgable DJs actually crafting real set lists is a giant rarity in today's radio landscape. It's certainly nothing I ever experienced in my 23 years in Iowa, and probably will not have again wherever I end up in life. So I really don't want to see it go.

But the reason I don't quite feel comfortable forking over my petty amount of cash is the ads. One of the mantra's they repeat throughout the membership drive is that the Current is listener-supported, adverts-free radio. And if that were the case, I'd be more than happy to shill out some of my measly earnings.

The only catch is they're not ad-free in the slightest. The most glaring example came this morning, as one fo their most excellent DJs Mark Wheat explained that this section of the program was brough to me by "Great Clips, with dozens of locations throughout the Twin Cities metro area...'don't worry, you're at Great Clips!'"

I fail to see how that's not an ad. Just because the DJ read it instead of a struggling actor picking up cash on the side doesn't make it any less of an advertisement. And if they've got corporate sponsors, why do they need to squeeze money from a poor graduate student?

So I guess it's kind of a shit-or-get-off-the-pot type thing. If they were truly listener supported, I'd have no problem with supporting them. But if maor corporations are giving them money, I'm not really convinced they need mine.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Obligatory Brett Favre post

As someone who was a legitimate Don "Magic Man" Majkowski fan (seriously, I even had his Starting Lineup figure...man, remember Starting Lineup?), I've always had more ambivalent feelings about Favre than most. Of course, being a Vikings fan probably didn't help my opinion of him that much. But it goes deeper; Majkowski was a much more fitting QB for the Pack. He wasn't afraid to rock a mullet, even after they had largely passed out of style. He had a Polish name, not some crazy-ass French name with the R in the wrong place. And he wore number 7, a real quarterback number. But alas, I guess he'll always be the Drew Bledsoe of Wisconsin to Brett Favre's annoyingly charming Tom Brady.

And I think the matephor is apt. Sure, you can blow all this smoke about how Favre played like a kid and was such a competitior, but those things really come off more like being a dick when you're a fan of the opposing team. And come on, only clean-cut, popular white players get away with being drug addicts and yet somehow still get to be rolemodels.

Don't get me wrong, he was good and could be fun to watch. But I'm not about to sit here in Minnesota and say that number 4 was good. Besides, what no one's really talking about in all of this is how the Vikings should pretty much be favored to win the division next year. That's a lot more interesting than some interception-prone pill-popper, if you ask me.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Back From the Abyss

Bit of a silence here on the ol' blog lately, as I've been fighting against a bad a flu for the past several days. I'm cautiously optimistic today that I'm in the clear, but it was a bad one. The kind where even reading was really out of the question, so I got so very little done. But I did watch two entire seasons of The Office, so I guess it wasn't an entire loss.

But in the meantime, it seems as if the political world was blowing up. Coolest news item from over the long weekend: the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has voted, over protest of leadership, to strike on May 1st in a call to end the war.

This is a pretty big development, as it will not only mean that the entire West Coast will be effectively shut down, but they are also the first union to move toward taking bold and effective strike action in effort to stop the war.

I'm embittered and cynical enough to know that this may never even actually happen; the leadership could find a way to call it off, the Feds could invoke any number of injunctions to prevent it, etc. But it could be a watershed moment in this war. If other rank-and-file union members could push their slow and complicit leadership into taking similar actions, it would be a huge step toward finally pushing the federal government to enact the will of the people. Afterall, when 70% of the populace is against the war and all candidates for election merely talk strategy, not withdrawl, the only step left is to take radical action to force and end to the war.

So keep your eye on this one. It may not amount to anything, but it may also signal a radical shift in an American populace increasingly fed-up with the many, many downsides of neo-liberal hegemony. Either way, it's a pretty keen development.