Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Life In One Minute

Great ideas, lousy execution.

Somehow this week I've stumbled upon two movies having to deal with undead Nazis defending their ill gotten hoard of gold.  The first was Italian and incoherent, but the second, Dead Snow, is very much in the vein of The Evil Dead.  I'm not a huge horror fan, but I understand how excessive gore can be so silly it becomes funny.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Internet Doesn't Have Everything

I know this because I've been looking all night (about fifteen minutes really) for a picture of a plane big enough and on fire enough and heading at the ground at a steep enough angle to represent Miley Cyrus' career. Something like a Torrey Canyon with wings.

Actually I have a rather dim awareness of who Miley Cyrus actually is.  I know she's the daughter of the guy who brought mullets to their logical sad conclusion, and I know she had a children's show which was about her being famous before she was famous and going undercover as someone less famous or something that no one could ever explain to me.  I know the Disney crew are famous for their hijinks when they grow up, but this is a whole new set of weird.  The pictures are crossing my desk, and I'm not sure what to make of them.  Did her tongue hang out to the side all night long?  Didn't any of those teddy bears try to do something?   Did she shave her head?  Didn't someone else do that?

Could it be aliens?  I know back in the 80's they were all about stealing cow organs, but what if they've graduated to brains?  What if something terrible has happened to the aliens and we are now faced with the double threat of technologically advanced zombies? Even worse, what if the Disney kids are our shock troops?

There was a show at the start of the 70's called UFO.  Besides being the the manliest show ever put on TV, it had an interesting plot device: their secret S.H.A.D.O. base was in a television studio.  That way, strange events would be ignored by the general public as props.  But let's put on our Dan Brown hats for a second.  What if, just like Hanna Montana, the cover story in the show was a clever cover of actuality?  God knows they can't sing, so what are young people doing jetting around the world with tons of equipment and strange clothing?  Could their going bonkers be the result of witnessing unspeakable horrors?  Give it some thought.  I'll let Lindsey have the last word.

Don't be silly.  There's no such thing as a lesbo-ray.

Got one with a bazooka from about two feet away.  Didn't have time to change.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I Call This Move The 360

I still love a good old fashioned photo essay.  The Atlantic has some very good ones, including this series on the protests that were breaking out everywhere before the weather just turned too darned hot.  Looking through them, I wonder if protesters have always been this way: for many, protesting seems to be mostly about exhibitionism and free stuff.

1)  Quiet and dignified.  The way a protest should be.
2)  Sparky!  Notice head protection is getting more elaborate.
3)  So much for that smart diplomacy.  Notice the center guy.  Even in Africa it is all about the Joooooos!
4)  You know, that's kinda artistic.
5, 6, 7)  I didn't even know there were protests in Bulgaria.
8)  Do people even know who Guy Fawkes is, or what he did?  So often protests look more like the trendy thing to do.
9, 10)  My absolute favorite photos.  Bet you didn't know Anderson Cooper puts on a spray tan and goes to Europe to beat up hippies, did you?
11)  Students.  Righhht.  After a certain amount of time, a middle aged "student" should be forced to get a job and pay into the system he despises.
12)  That's a good shot.  Don't cross the water cannon.

Let's start speeding through this.  Flames, bloody shirts, and riot police.

19)  Try for a little more dignity with your anger, like 13.
21)  Again, a big helping of dignity helps your cause with Chris.  The Buddhists seem to be more rational in their protests, but then we get 43.
23)  You ride naked to "highlight the dangers".  No you don't.  You want an excuse to be naked in public.  Having someone else pay for your bike lane is secondary.  At least you aren't 25.
25)  Trying to justify some serious problems by linking it to animal rights.  This group are the last people I would allow around animals.  Or children.
44)  Egyptian protesters.  I have to say I'm surprised.  I never thought anyone in the Middle East would rise up against an Islamic government.  I guess Egyptians know the problems they face can't be solved with a degree in Islamic studies.
36)  The worst problem that the progressive left has today is the view that if you don't get your way, you are entitled to be disruptive.  The heckler's veto isn't democracy in action.  When your freedom of speech interferes with someone else's freedom of assembly, you are in the wrong.
37)  Some artist should put together a photo book of people being hit by water cannon.
39)  This is such a great shot it must be staged.  Sinister and appealing at the same time.  Love the browns and yellows.  The untied sneaker is a nice touch.
40)  Brazilians protesting against a soccer stadium.  That's more radical than Arabs protesting an Islamic government.

Super Cooper

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Fine Art Of Squeezing Blood From A Turnip

For sale:  One 1990 Pontiac Bonniville.  Needs a mass airflow sensor, ball joint, rack and pinion.  Probably needs new mounts while you are at it.  Has an even quarter million miles.  Worst thing about it has to be the sharp spring in the seat which jabs the unsuspecting square in the butt.
No, I take that back.  major flaw of this fine automobile which sold for $19,000 back in the day has to be the crack in the windscreen which runs across the glass exactly at eye level.

But you still want it.  Because it's Texas, and it's July.  The one thing this car has that it's rival in the driveway across the street doesn't have is a fully charged one year old air conditioner.  And to assist that refrigerated air on it's way to your face is a brand new fan.  The drivers side power window also goes up and down.

I'm actually sorry to see the old girl go.  I know it's probably survivor bias, but the modern cars with their poo-poo'ed electronics sure seem to be more reliable than any of the vehicles I rode in through the 80's.  However, the last trip to the mechanic ended with him saying "DON'T SPEND ANOTHER DIME!" (Before charging me $44 dollars to say that, of course.)   I stuck with it through the hundred dollar blues, but we're starting to move into the thousand dollar blues stage.

Be a fine car for putting around town in though.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

So I Saw The Preview For "Kick Ass 2" Today

And was all "Hooray!"  Then I saw Jim Carrey and was all "Uhhhh..."
Carrey is one of those actors who has played the same manic character over and over again his whole career, and it never really jibed with me.  He can be good at it, but sometimes for the wrong reason.  The Cable Guy really terrified me; Carrey can be unsettling with his crazy.

I thought about it more and remembered that Carrey has some experience in comic book movies and felt a little better about it, then realized that the good thing about The Mask was Cameron Diaz and the good thing about Batman Forever was Tommy Lee Jones.  On the other hand, Kick Ass was the superhero movie Nicolas Cage should have been making all along, so fingers crossed.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

For Reals?

Although it's a retail giant, the company I work for operates on the smaller scale like the others of it's type which took the place of the old five and dime stores: the Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar, $-Mart, Walgreen's, etc.  Because they have so much in common, what affects one will happen to the others quickly. One can thus imagine my rapt attention when I read that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was suing Dollar General for..  wait for it...

Conducting criminal background checks.  Yeah, can't check to see if that guy or gal you leave alone with a safe full of money or easily transported merchandise has a criminal background because that might be...  wait for it...

Racist.  Now no one, not even the administration says that Dollar General is using the background checks as an excuse to exclude people because of race.  They maintain that such checks have a disproportionate impact on the African-American community, therefore shouldn't be done.  Just when you thought there could be no more madness.  Some random thoughts:

  • African-Americans aren't going to get that job anyway.  I imagine Dollar General would like the abolishment of any sort of border control or check of immigration status.  The cost of labor sticks in the craw of these companies and they would all dearly love to see a flood of cheap workers all willing to drive wages down.  That itself is nonsensical, because if your own workers can't buy your stuff (which is being manufactured as cheaply as possible) who can?  It's Dollar General.  It serves a certain socioeconomic level.  Come on.
  • On the other hand, if you want the government to do something for you, better be prepared to give his  ne'er-do-well constituency something in return.
  • Even if the lawsuit fails, and it very well could, it's still a huge waste of time and money for all involved.    Stop wasting money!
  • You know, I don't think this administration really understands what money is.  Even those who funded it made their billions on paper, so they think it can be conjured out of the digital aether. The Chicago machine is funded by shaking down companies and that cash never seems to run out.  It's just a lowly clerk.  A few hundred a night won't hurt anything.
  • God help us if the EEOC wins.  Imagine if it were illegal to check the record of a teacher, or a nurse, or the lady cleaning your house.  Whoever hired them would still be responsible for their actions though.  Just the price of doing business.  You've got unlimited funds to share.  The government says so.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

From Those Who Brought You Smart Diplomacy

We present Smart Spying.

Every secret we possess seems to waltz out the security equivalent of a wide open screen door with a hole in it.  The only saving grace is that the Russians and Chinese must think we are playing them for fools.  Or are we?  A high school dropout abandons his $200,000 job, life in Hawaii, and super hot stripper girlfriend to seek asylum in...  Hong Kong?  I have no idea what to think.  Authoritarian governments probably don't either.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Some Late Nite Shat

I guess by this time everyone has seen the Spocklore rich Audi ad with Nimoy and Quinto.  I guess that the viewership of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" has also been steadily ticking upwards on YouTube. I think I first heard it on the Doctor Demento show back in '87 or thereabouts, and it's a nice novelty song.  I've checked out the rest of Nimoy's discography and my reaction is a kind of "blech".  Not horrible, but not great either.

Now if one talks about how Nimoy's ego led him astray, you are almost obligated to then discuss the many songs of William Shatner and wonder what on earth the man was thinking.  Not I.  I actually like a lot of his musical work, including "Mr Tambourine Man".  I have a suspicion that 1968's The Transformed Man will be what future generations remember about William Shatner (if they remember him at all) and they will wonder why he wasn't appreciated in his own time.  Ok,  that may be a bit of a stretch, but he is worth listening to with an open mind.

It must be good, because "spoken word" usually means "pretentious crap" as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ray Harryhausen

So Ray Harryhausen has passed at the respectable age of 92.  For a long time, he was special effects.  I know that even today special effects is still a tedious time consuming process, but old timey stop motion animation takes a very special kind of person.

To be honest, I always thought his work looked a little jerky and flat, even if I admired the effort put into it.  I think Harryhausen tended to be a little ambitious; living statues, skeletons and things that you imagined as moving stiffly from articulated joints looked well, but he had to overdo it and constantly animated birds and flying reptiles.  Not good.

Credit also had to be given to the actors who mastered the almost impossible task of crossing swords with something that wasn't there and making it look like they were fighting for their lives.  I know you may have starved yourself down to 80 pounds or earned your quadruple blackbelt with sash and tassel for your art, but that doesn't make it good acting.

The movies themselves were also good.  Old fashioned escapist fiction set in exotic locales.  You couldn't make a Sinbad film like that today without some heavy handed moralizing about Arab and Islamic virtues, probably made to the uncouth and ignorant Sir Bubba d'Rednec.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Who Wants To Be My Speedy?

When I was in kindergarten about 1975 or thereabouts, I remember the teacher spending a day with us talking about surgery.  I don't know if this happened to anyone else, but the gist was that Science has discovered  that we have some useless organs that do nothing but cause trouble, so I'm going to discuss what it's like when your tonsils are removed. I thought it was pretty cool because I would get the whole week off from school and eat ice cream every day.  I wasn't as keen on the appendectomy lecture, but what bugged me the most was when she brought up the what ifs of dialysis and diabetes.  I've never liked needles, so the idea of giving myself injections seemed just as horrible as losing a leg.

So guess what?  Doctor has determined that I need to move to the next level of treatment and start injecting medication.  Didn't like the idea, but the knowledge that they would be in pen form made me think that it was something I could handle.  Then they arrived.  I was thinking about the size of a fat fountain pen, right?  Wrong!  You know when you stop at Stuckey's and you get that giant pencil with a map of New Mexico on it?  Yeah, about that size.  Then the nurse calls and says "The starter dose is four."    Then I warm up four of them and because my courage has faltered I go out to the local clinic to ask them to help and they reply "We don't do that medication, it's alien to us."  And I say "It's subcutaneous, it's not like I'm asking you to jab my pineal gland."  And they say "Take it to the doctor who prescribed it to you."  And I say "They are all out of the office today.  I wanted to do it now because I have tomorrow off so I can recuperate if I have a bad reaction.  I exposed myself to ridicule by putting my white chicken legs in shorts to come out here! Fine, I'll do it myself."  So with a little help from the instruction booklet and YouTube, I did.

Two thoughts popped into my head afterwards.  First, being angry really cuts fear and pain.  Second, in a post apocalyptic world, I'm the one pushing a propane fridge around in a wheelbarrow.  

The only silver lining is that my company has really good health insurance.  The market price of my medication is $6500, but I'm paying $95 a box.  Given my schedule, that's about a dollar a day.  Not too bad.  The reality though, is that my company can offer really good insurance and retirement because they are retail, and don't expect anyone to actually buy it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Because Everything's Better With Pirates!

I never really watched much anime, or Japanimation as it was called back in the day.  I watched G-Force after school but wasn't impressed, and much later watched some Dragonball Z after inquiring what a young co-worker kept blathering on about.  I tried to follow it for a while, but determined that each episode consisted of about five minutes' worth of actual plot progression while the rest was take up by static views of the heroes powering up with much gritting of teeth, sweating and turning blonde.  I was able to mostly make it through Gundam Wing but swore never to do so again, because it took so much concentration; lose focus for a few minutes and the whole story was lost.

I've given anime a second look though, because I've needed something in 22 minute segments with standalone episodes yet an overreaching plot line that comes to a properly planned end.  Luckily, I stumbled into two excellent series, one of them being Samurai Champloo.

I've read that Japanese reserve makes acting difficult, therefore they put all their emotions into animation.  It seems true in this case; young Mugen here shows some complex but common human emotions.  If he's the offender, he has a "Suck it up, that's life" attitude, but if he's the one who has been wronged, only revenge will do.

Um, he's the only one who knew where the pirate treasure is.  I'd want to die too.

Friday, April 19, 2013

School Shootings Are So Last Week

White, Muslim, and immigrants.  Looks like everyone was right and wrong in rushing to conclusions in respect to the race-religion-ethnicity of the Boston bombers. Better luck next time, and there will be a next time, because every kook loner malcontent out there is eagerly studying this latest way to go out in a blaze of notoriety.  Why lock down a school or shopping mall when you can lock down a city?

P.S. Did everyone hear the uncle?  That guy is a true survivor who learned early on to get in front of the mob with the pointiest pitchfork and brightest torch.  Well done, sir!  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Chris' News In Reviews

Lot been happening in the world.  Been having a slight illness problem, but I still follow current events.

On gun control:  If there is nothing wrong with a background check to purchase a firearm, I don't see any problem with showing an I.D. to vote.  Come on Republicans, make a link and hold the other side to it.  Grow a spine already.

On the death of Baroness Thatcher and the subsequent jubilation:  I remember a time when the term "English disease" meant an economic state where everyone was constantly on strike and made shoddy products on the three days they bothered to show up.  (Much feared in the newly industrial parts of the world and studied intensively.)  Now, as much as I admire Sir Clive and his wonderful products, it tells how low you've sunk when Margaret Thatcher gives away Spectrums as the best example of what British industry is capable of four years after becoming PM.

She also won her war.  It's a lesson for those of us on the other side of the pond, especially modern Republicans who get possessed by the spectre of Woodrow Wilson and decide that they need to remake the enemy in thy own image rather than stomp the crap out of them and go home.

Her death brought out the worst of progressive misbehavior.  I can't help but feel they have a real problem with women.  Here you have a child of the middle class who was trained as a chemist, and they can't stand her. Weird.  Anyway, she showed them that they were wrong, and they will never forgive her for it.

On King Kim of Korea:  No one seems to know what he's doing.  He may not either.  Near as I can tell he's just trying to show everyone who's boss.  The trouble is that none of these junior dictators have the sense of timing their fathers had.

If I were advising Kim, I'd tell him to get into offshore banking. Imagine the Cayman Islands with an A-bomb.  I'd bet no one would bully them into giving up their account information.  May be tricky explaining that banking isn't the same thing as counterfeiting though. Still, one they got it I'd bet your money would be far safer than in any free world bank.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's Hard To Be Robin Hood...

...when you look like Friar Tuck and dress like Will Scarlet.

So Hugo Chavez has passed away.  I confess to knowing very little about Latin American government, but you couldn't help but hear about the Bolivarian Revolution on a pretty constant basis the last few years if you followed politics at all.

My opinion:  slight dislike.  I don't like the hypocrisy of those who lead coups but then complain when they get set aside (however briefly) by one.  I don't like the "Blame the U.S." approach to domestic and foreign policy and the shoe thumping theatrics that goes along with it, and I especially dislike the charity approach to helping the poor.

"What's that?" you say.  "How can you oppose a president using his country's fabulous oil wealth to help the poor and needy?"

A:  Because it's run like a charity.  You know, the ones that spend .016% of their budget actually helping the subject of the charity and the rest paying themselves handsomely and raising more funds.  Chavez knew how the scam worked, and played it to the max.  Of course, like most scams, the people you want to fool have done most of the work for you already.  Here it is: Chavez and his Bolivarian Revolution liked to make a big deal out of helping the poor around the world (but especially in places where there was a lot of press coverage) by helping them out with things like free heating oil.  So far so good, right?  The catch is that Venezuela was a founding member of OPEC; they are the ones making sure the heating oil is too expensive for the poor to buy in the first place!  Chavez could have helped billions of poor people around the world by breaking the OPEC cartel and allowing oil prices to drop, but didn't.  No matter though, he's a swell guy anyway.  Joe Kennedy says so.

The People's Hero Is Dead.  Sing along-If you know what's good for ya.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sci-Fi Comes To Life

I think we all got lucky that something like this didn't happen during the Cold War.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


That was one heck of a holiday season.  Sales were actually flat or slightly less than last year, but they showed an increase because of the rising price of basic foodstuffs and the continued high cost of petroleum.  The company did turn a profit however, by using the standard practice of cutting hours. (If anyone talks about how the American worker is getting more productive, I think they are missing some basic points.)

To me it's getting to the point of being counterproductive.  For example, we had a small increase in hours the days before Black Friday, but they were slashed the next day for Cyber Saturday.  There is really no innovation anymore; the response to on-line shopping is not to meet it head on, but to give up and cut hours to save money.  It's getting to the point of being ridiculous. I've written about the troubles we've had with out sewer system, and they came back this winter.  The basic problem stems from the fact that the sewer line runs next to the loading area.  Decades of rumbling trucks have caused a slump in the sewer line.  Normally there's not too much trouble, but cold weather combined with...  it's better explained with song:
That's about the right size.  

...can cause material to settle and solidify in the slump.  We will defend our old style toilets to our last breath, because they use enough water to push everything out of the slump and on down the line.

Anyway, the toilets began to flush slowly, then not at all.  the plumbers came out and did what they could, but all left without truly fixing anything, because the toilets would back up again the next day.  The last time I was in the restroom with a plumber, he flushed the toilet to see what would happen.  Of course the water level in the bowl started to rise...  and then stopped inches from the rim.  hmm, so I pulls off the tank lid and see that the float has been adjusted so that the tank fills at most halfway, if that.

Here's what happened, although I have no proof.  Some idiot says "If we use half the water we normally use every day in our stores, we can save x amount of dollars on the water bill every month.  If we multiply that by y number stores and multiply that by 12 months a year, we save a number that makes me look innovative."  Even bigger boss says "Make it one-third. Send out the word to the DMs."

I'm also starting to run in to Obamacare.  You know that stuff about companies cutting back full time staff in order to escape health insurance costs?  Yeah.  It's starting to hit hard. Try telling a new employee that they can only get fifteen hours a week, they can work another job but have to be available when we need them and the schedule comes out the evening before the new work week begins.  And you have to have a car.  They look at you like "I can't afford to fuel a car on fifteen hours a week, much less buy one."  That's when I push the employment packet across the desk and point out the insurance plan:  How to Apply for Government Cheese.  Because Your Company Cares.  No lie. Got a hotline and everything.