Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And now the content universally despised among blog readers: pictures of the writer's cats

Angelcakes, who sleeps with YaYa most nights.


And Billy, aka William Sonoma, a mainstay of our lives since 1997.



More TV

At the moment I'm quite depressed, and rather bitter with the course of my rotten life. So let's take the focus off the real world and discuss the magic box in the living room again, shall we?

I did forget a few shows when I did my last write-up. My DVR scooped up the The Office unexpectedly, as I thought I'd cancelled that slot. It was funny, but not as strong as the premiere. For the record, I thought the co-manager gig was ridiculous. Forget the 'value' of Jim. Michael has somehow (voodoo?) managed to run one of the most productive branches in the company, and they're going to F with that? And in a recession, with the business downsizing? Nuh-uh.


For a few weeks I was hooked on SyFy's Eureka, which follows an everyday sheriff in a town full of government super-geniuses. Cute show, cute premise, but I soon tired of the formula.

Basically, the genius of the week will invent something magical that winds up posing a threat to the town. The crisis will be diverted not by luck or science, but by a seemingly random observation by the sheriff, something that could only be spotted by an Average Joe.

I'll still watch, but I don't count myself as a big fan.

* * *

On frequent rotation in my house: Doctor Who (aka the greatest sci-fi show ever).

* * *

Here's an odd glitch in my makeup. I can watch a game between two teams I've never seen before, sometimes playing a SPORT I've never seen before, and in minutes develop a vocal and partisan loyalty to one team.

Case in point: the championship game for Australian Rules Football, a mix of rugby and soccer I'd never knew existed. Last week I found myself watching it in the middle of the night when I was saddled with a toothache. Ten minutes in the rules of the game began to saturate my brain, and by the end of the match I was screaming when Geelong scored the go-ahead goal to finish off St Kilda.

Well played boys!

Fantasy Football Wk 3

Some more good news tonight. After a vigorous contest that saw my team post 104.16 points - good enough to beat all but two teams in my league - I lost the game by a tenth of a point. A tenth of a bleepin' point.

That's right. I lost 104.26 to 104.16.

Bright side: the point total should move me up the standings among the 1-2 losers. Downside: I'm 1-2. Duh.

Everything you wanted to know about Canada but were afraid to ask!

While its intent was to get a laugh, this Rick Mercer clip from Feb 3rd (2009) taught me a lot about the convoluted workings of the Canadian government. From an outsiders perspective, I have to comment on what a whacky system they've put in place. It's worked for them so far, of course, but look at it from a distance and just try to justify it by saying "That's the right and proper way to go about it!".

On a less serious note, if you can ignore the canned laugh track, there are some funny lines, such as describing the Queen as "an elderly lady of German descent who lives in a castle across the ocean."

H/T Canadian Perspective

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bad (car) news

If you have Lisa as a Facebook friend, then you've already heard. Her van, our primary means of transportation and the ONLY car we have big enough to fit everyone,is on the fritz. It ran fine all day ("like buttah" I foolishly jinxed us by saying) and then refused to move when Lisa tried to drive it home.

It starts, it revs, it doesn't move. It does rock forward in park, so it isn't a broken axle. I had someone look at it and the tenative diagnosis is a transmission. Approximate cost: $2100, 'round about $2090 more than we have on hand.

At the same time, my Escort is in dire need of exhaust work, and is barely functional in its current state. Lovely.

I do not know who we wronged in this universe to deserve all the crap that finds its way to our doorstep, but I'm sick of it. If it's you, kindly send us a postcard detailing the misdeed and we'll do our best to correct it.

Meanwhile, I'll have the van towed to a garage in the morning and see if the powertrain warranty is still in place . . .

Uh, when do I find time to watch all these shows?

Dear Reader, before you read this and voice the opinion that I waste away my day as a couch potato, ck thyself. Lisa and I wake up at 6:30 a.m, get the kids off to school, continue on with work/kids/life, and only plop ourselves down in front of the tube after 10 o'clock at night.

It takes a certain panache to stay up until 2 in the morning everyday clearing out the DVR, thus leaving you a maximum of four hours of sleep a day, but as in all things, sometimes a sacrifice is necessary for the greater good :)

* * * *

I checked out the series premiere of Flash Forward and found it less than endearing. It's very reminiscent of Lost, almost Xerox-y in tone, but I found some of the acting blah and the holes in the plot pretty large. I'll probably give it another shot, but if in a few weeks it doesn't perk up, sayonara.

* * *

Fringe has returned, and I enjoyed the premiere quite a bit. One thing tho: that 'twist' at the end could be seen a mile away. If you were on the spot, wouldn't you have asked to check for those plug-marks in the palate, just to be sure?

* *
Glee continues to rock, and has established itself as one of my favorite shows on broadcast TV. Last weeks episode was LOL, and its good to see that the ridiculous pseudo-pregnancy is actually going to tie into a decent plot thread. WATCH THIS SHOW!!!

* * *

Out of the blue I've begun watching reruns of Medium. Yes, the teenager still calls her "Mommy", which is creepy, and the husband annoys me, but those are teeny complaints. Overall I think it's a good show, with solid scripts and decent acting.

I am still having trouble shaking a Mad TV parody that was spot-on, and which continues to make me giggle at the sound of Allison's voice :), but I've added the show to my DVR schedule.

* *

I won't be adding Ghost Whisperer. I gave it a one week shot, but ewww. The only bright spot is watching Jennifer Love Hewitt, but that's not enough to keep me watching.

* * *

I watched the lame Family Guy premiere, which included a single laugh-out-loud moment. In my humble opinion the show jumped the shark a few years back. And you know what? The constant anti-Christian jokes are pissing me off and makes me wish the Inquisition was still around. I think I'm done with this mess.
* * *

Project Runway is getting stronger as the weeks go by, but I still miss New York terribly. What was up with cutting Ra'mon and leaving one-note Louise in the competition? What an awful decision!

* * *

A&E's Hoarders is a reality show that showcases two compulsive hoarders each week, and offers them assistance in cleaning their house and getting psychological help. These people as sick, in a very literal sense, and watching the show you are both fascinated and repulsed.

It is heartbreaking to see 'normal', everyday folks live in a mouse filled house filled with trash and expired food, know that they had their kids taken away by the state and face city-mandated eviction, and yet be unable to throw away a used napkin because of their illness.

can be seen on A&E on Mondays at 10/9 central.

* * * *

Argh, I'm sure I'm missing a show or two, believe it or not. But drop me a line, and let me know what you think of the one's I've listed here.

Cops, guns, straw buyers, and cries of racism: Now what's going on on the South Side?

I saw this slogan on a bumper in front of me when I picked up my girls from school last week.

You can take my First Amendment when you pry my cold, dead hands off the Second

Although not a gun owner myself, I agree with the sentiment. So when I was driving near Miller Park I was surprised to see the following sign outside a local gun shop; so surprised I returned home to grab my camera.

Racist Milwaukee Police Dept is pulling over African Americans leaving this store. Sorry for the inconvenience

What the hell was that about?

The answer came in today's paper.

Badger Guns, once known as Badger Outdoors, has long been a high profile source of straw purchases - the practice of buying guns for criminals unable to legally purchase them on their own. From the late '90's on Badger was among the national - NATIONAL! - leaders in this practice, actually topping the charts in 2005.

Between January of 2006 and this month more than 1800 guns tied to the store have been used in the commision of a crime. By its lonesome, Badger Guns accounts for more than 1/3rd of all the weapons used in crimes here in Milwaukee. One third. The nearest competitor? Well, they take up a whole 3% of the citywide total. That's a wee bit fishy, no?

The final straw -no pun intended -was when two Milwaukee cops were shot and seriously wounded with a weapon tied to the store. Police Chief Ed Flynn, who for all his flaws has a knack for doing the needful regardless of political fallout, said enough was enough.

He authorized an ongoing stakeout of the gun shop, one that continues to snag straw buyers and felons using the establishment. "They know to whom they are selling, they know what is happening with their product, they know citizens in Milwaukee are dying, and they don't care." said Flynn.

"All we are asking is that they [Badger] be professional," [D.A. John] Chisholm said. "Their public service would be to do everything in their professional skill to prevent a sale to someone who will turn around and put that gun on the street to commit violence. They have the skill to do it. I suspect they choose not to do that more than they do."

As for the claims of racism? Noting that the majority of gun violence in Milwaukee involves African-American shooters and victims, Flynn isn't surprised that a majority of those arrested will fit that description. He says the owner of the store " . . . clearly doesn't care a damn about the demographics of dead Milwaukeeans," Flynn said. "To try to wrap himself as a victim of racism is not only absurd, it is obscene."

I'm going to have to side with the MPD here. Frankly, I'm surprised the shop hasn't been shut down by lawmakers, either by strict 'above the board' means or via the twists and turns at their disposal. If the place is flipping off the law and knowingly, or even just carelessly, allowing criminals to purchase guns for use in a crime, then screw 'em.

And Chief? Once again, kudos for doing what needs doing. It's so very odd to actually have a Milwaukee Police Chief worthy of respect.

UPDATE: Badger's owner has removed the sign.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Off Season by Jack Ketchum

In the quiet Maine countryside a group of friends gather to enjoy a cabin in the woods. Unfortunately, a family of insane cannibals also lives in the area, and when they're hungry the local 7-11 just won't do. What follows is a horrendous night of violence and terror as the group fights to survive the attack; or, at least, die with their flesh still on their bones.

Off Season by Jack Ketchum is an "old" book, as paperbacks go, originally published in the early 1980's. That version was heavily redacted to remove violence and tweak the ending, and it's with great pride that Ketchum released the "new", original version of his novel.

If you've followed my writing you know that I don't care for so-called "torture-porn" genre of horror, and dismiss the Saw and Hostel franchises accordingly. So it's odd that I give this gory little book a thumbs-up, but . . .

Ketchum might have one or two screws loose, but the guy has a flair for carrying a story. Sometimes his voice is so smooth your mind blots out the subject matter. I'd read a chapter, put the book down and then say to myself: "Hey, wait a minute! Did I just read a two page recipe for curing and jerking human thigh? How the hell did that slip by me?"

There is a gruesome and slow death near the end that was almost too much to bear [ugh, just shivered remembering it] but all in all, despite the gore it was much better than expected.

2.7 out of 4. Note: I did not read the short story included as an extra in the book.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Grandparents Day 2009

Today was Grandparents Day at school. I'm not sure why this was such a big thrill to LuLu and YaYa, as they see our parents all the time, but this morning you'd have thought it was '64 and the Beatles were coming to pay a call. Seriously.

[I just yelled to Lu in the other room: "How was Grandparents Day?" Her answer "Awesome!!"]

Anyhow, my Dad attended, as did my mother-in-law and my wife's stepfather. (My Mom did not attend due to mobility issues.) There was a Mass, followed by classroom visits that included demonstrations and activities, and snacks.

YaYa demanded that she accompany both Grandpa's, because "they always have to go to the bathroom, and then I get to walk them there." In the end she traded off with Lu, who spent much of the time with her Grandma.

Thanks to everyone who showed up to display their love for my girls! (all photos courtesy of my Mother-in-law; because of this, she doesn't appear in any of them!)

LuLu: "This is my graph for everyone. I'm pointing to me and I am the one in the blue dress and not the one in the purple. And I'm the third one, the third. It was very fun, we did it in social studies in my room with the other class too, cause there were a lot of people cuz we only have 11 people in our class. I like trains but I never been on one so I'd really like to, cuz I like them, cuz I've only been on a fake one with Grandma Jeannie. It was a real train, but now its a fake one for people to ride around in a circle, and I did it with Bella my friend. "


In the world of Fido, mankind has waged an all-out war against zombies and achieved a questionable victory. Our cities are safe, cordoned off from 'the wild', but zombies roam free over much of America. .

No matter. In the movie's 1950's era suburbia captive zombies are trained to be butlers, maids, and to perform menial jobs. They're the perfect working class, so long as their restraint collars are in place.

Sadly, Fido's collar slips one day and he consumes part of an elderly woman in the park. Young Timmy Robinson sees the carnage but acts to protect his zombie playmate and hides the deed. Soon the woman rises as a zombie herself and begins what becomes a zombie plague on the town.

Thankfully, Timmy's Mom has developed a bit of a crush on Fido and joins in the attempts to save him from harm. Her position is understandable. Her husband is emotionally distant, and has a phobia about zombies ever since he killed his own (zombified) father.

Will the Robinson's save Fido, or will they themselves be exiled to the wild? Tune in and find out.

This film is a hoot.

It's a comedy, start to finish, and at times it's laugh out loud. When it's not, you still have a smile on your face. It's kitchy and intelligent, anachronistic but well-drawn.

You really have to see it.

3.4 out of 4

What Dreams May Come

What Dreams May Come is billed as a 'novel', one adapted into an award winning Robin Williams movie in the '90's, and there is indeed a whiff of a storyline. But let's cut to the chase: in reality this is as much a novel as I am a Samoan hockey player.

The book is told in the first person by Chris Nielsen, a recently deceased father and husband who channels his words via a medium. He dies, is lost in a fog for a minute, then moves on to 'Summerland', a here-after created by thought. In Summerland humans still hold jobs and deal with the issues of their lives - a sort of non-denominational Purgatory if you will.

Lo and behold his wife Anne cannot live without him, as they are, naturally, just the most romantic and in-tune couple in history dontcha know, and she commits suicide. For this act she is sent to the equivalent of hell, and Chris sets out to find her and bring her back into Summerland.

I don't feel right reviewing this book because it isn't a novel, it's a thinly disguised religious tract for whatever combination of beliefs Matheson holds dear.

True, I think the beliefs pushed by the book are by and large bunk, but that's me; I don't care what others believe and it wouldn't necessarily ruin the book for me. Even if this book were detailing Catholic dogma blow for blow I'd have been irritated and bored.

It reads like one of those little Evangelical comic books you find left behind in public places. As with those tracts, the goal isn't to entertain, it's to dryly hit you over the head with someone else's beliefs.

"How is it made?"

"By the imposition of mental imagery on the
ideoplastic medium of your aura."

-pg 92

According to the afterward, people have been known to weep after reading this book. I'd imagine so. After all, it is quite a chore to plow through.

An awful waste of time; avoid this drivel.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Alice in Chains - Sept 20th

This past Sunday I saw the resurgent Alice in Chains at the Eagles Ballroom here in Milwaukee.

I know some fans view the William Duvall era an affront to the memory of Layne Staley and classic AIC, but I disagree. I first saw this lineup at an acoustic show here in '07, and while Layne will always be the king, Will is a legit talent. Staley was then. Duvall is now. I wish Staley was still walking the earth, but life goes on for the rest of us.

Their set opened with Rain When I Die. The moment that dark, unrepentant dirge thundered out from the stage . . . man, it was the '90's all over again, and F any lead singer controversy. Alice in Chains was present and accounted for, and every bit as hard as ever.

The venue was packed with a predominantly male crowd between 21-40 years old.

By the second song a mosh pit had formed and some folks were crowd surfing. I tapped my buddy, nodded to the frenzy at the foot of the stage, and said "C'mon, let's go!". He laughed and we stayed put.

The highlights of the evening, for me, were Angry Chair and Would? . Check my Brain, their new single, didn't make an impression on me one way or another in concert. Driving home today, however, I heard it on the radio, instantly recognized it as AIC, and proclaimed it damn good.

A great concert. I've seen AIC twice now; I look forward to the hat trick.

Smiley's Homework

Last week I told you about the latest fad in the Slapinions household, a crazy obsession with inch-long animals made out of hard foam. You can find them at the dollar store, and when you immerse them in water overnight they grow like a Gremlin.

I thought the gimmick would pass, but as I type this I have a kettle of water on my dining room floor (turtle and starfish) and a pair of mixing bowls and two large kettles in the living room (chock full of various foam animals).

I haven't been able to cook spaghetti in weeks.

Smiley begged me for a foam starfish for days, in his peculiar Smiley talk that in this case would be indecipherable to anyone but us. I finally relented. Here's a picture of it after a couple hours in the water.

And a few hours after that.

Anyhow, Little Man had a homework assignment. Each month it's assigned to the family, and you're supposed to complete it with him. For September he was supposed to fill in the outline of a gingerbread man with pictures of things that were important in defining who he is or what he likes right now.

This afternoon Smiley went outside on his own, rummaged through our van, and came back with the packaging from one of the animals. Ok, whatever. I continued with a fine episode of Match Game '77. A few minutes later he brought me the homework sheet and his handiwork. On his own, he'd decided to cut out each of the animals advertised on the package and use them on the sheet. I was bowled over that he thought of it and praised him to no end. Here was the end result.

Here's what defines him in September of 2009: those foam animals, mac 'n cheese, Spongebob Squarepants, football, hot dogs, his sisters, pizza, Elmo, Spiderman, Chuck E Cheese, and Caillou.

Caillou is currently both his favorite TV show and web site. He can navigate the games on the Caillou page with ease, and never fails to get excited and say "me fouw two" when Caillou states his age in the show's theme song.

The bald kid's nothing new to us, as YaYa was a HUGE Caillou fan. I used to joke that we should have named her Caillou Andromeda (inside joke) but it seemed to skip Lu. Glad to see Smiley's resurrected the tradition.

"The Landlord" by Will Ferrell - "You Pay Now . . B**ch!"

Click HERE to watch the sketch on Funny or Die. Adult language is involved. Duh. :)

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are hanging out at Will Ferrell’s house. Adam McKay is reading an issue of Vogue Magazine and Will Ferrell is rummaging in the refrigerator for something to drink.Adam McKay: So, it says here that Madonna is reinventing herself again. Hey, did you get that letter from the doctor yet?Will Ferrell: I did.Adam McKay: What did it say?Will Ferrell: My dad’s gay.Adam McKay: I knew it. Those blood tests don’t lie man.Will Ferrell shakes his head in agreement. There is a knock at the door.Adam McKay: Who’s that?The screen goes black and white text reading “the LANDLORD” is displayed. Will Ferrell can be heard speaking.Will Ferrell: It’s my landlord, Pearl.The image returns to Adam McKay. There is another knock on the doorWill Ferrell: I’m late on my rent.Adam McKay: Oh, I’m getting out of here, man. She’s nasty.Will Ferrell: No, no, no, please, I need you to stay.Will Ferrell goes to answer the door.Adam McKay: This is going to be ugly.Will Ferrell opens the door to reveal a very small girl that is only a few years old. She yells at Will Ferrell.Pearl McKay: Where’s the rent?Will Ferrell: You don’t have to raise your voice.Pearl McKay: You pay now!Will Ferrell: I can give you half.Pearl McKay: You pay…now, bitch!Will Ferrell: Hey, don’t talk to me like that, okay.Pearl McKay: I’m tired of this crap.Will Ferrell: Look, I…I thought I was clear in my email, I need a couple weeks.Pearl McKay: I work too hard…Will Ferrell: Can I just get two more weeks?Pearl McKay: I want my money!Will Ferrell: You need to relax.Pearl McKay: You’re an asshole.Will Ferrell: Uh-uh! (Shakes his head in the negative.)Pearl McKay: I want my money, bitch.Will Ferrell: Hey don’t call me bitch! I’m a grown man!Pearl McKay: Bitch. Bitch. Bitch. Bitch.Will Ferrell: God, you’re mean.Will Ferrell starts crying and Pearl McKay begins laughing at him.Will Ferrell: Hey, don’t make fun of me crying.Pearl McKay: You’ll be evicted.Will Ferrell: I’m not doing so good, Pearl.Pearl McKay: I put you on the streets.Will Ferrell: Pearl, I’m gonna pay you. I’m working three jobs right now. I’m working nights. I’m driving a cab. I’m inside with my buddy right now, just going over my resume.Pearl McKay: I’m gonna smack you.Will Ferrell: Okay, you know what? You need to relax.Pearl McKay: I want my money!!!Will Ferrell: Look, why do you need your money so fast? Come on.Pearl McKay: I need to get my drink on.Will Ferrell: You scare me. You’re an alcoholic.Pearl McKay: Can I have 4 beers?Will Ferrell: Seriously, you are an alcoholic.Pearl McKay falls down on the front step.Will Ferrell: Yeah you’re drunk. I knew it. You’re already drunk.Pearl McKay: I’m just buzzed.Will Ferrell: You know, you’re in…you’re in no condition to deal with this right now.Pearl McKay starts to walk away and a bottle of beer is in her hand.Pearl McKay: I’m taking my beer.Will Ferrell: Just take your beer and get out of here, okay. Yeah, we’ll talk tomorrow. This isn’t over.Pearl McKay: (Looks back at Will Ferrell) Come, mommy.Will Ferrell: Jesus.Will Ferrell closes his door fearfully and the screen cuts to black.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Slapjacks falls to 1-1 in Fantasy Football

I don't know if you can make out the scores below - click on the image to enlarge and clarify it - but all you really need to see is the big fat zero by Antonio Bryant. He sat with an injury but I didn't notice and replace him in my lineup. So despite a 25.6 pt game from Miami's Ronnie Brown, I lost by just under four points. D'oh.

That drops me to 1-1. I don't want to drop in the hole, so I'll have to regroup and pay close attention this weekend.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Nanny

I'd just like to take this opportunity to recognize what may be the least-acknowledged, laugh-out-loud sitcom of the last twenty years: The Nanny.

I honestly don't feel the need to explore the reasons behind my affection for this sitcom, but let's try the shorthand version.

* a strong ensemble cast with great chemistry and a penchant for physical comedy
* a series of dependable running gags that never failed to produce a laugh
* well written (if fantastical) scripts
* and , uh, yeah - Ms. Drescher.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

Anywho, one other thing I loved about the show: the theme song succicently set up the premise for the show, ala The Brady Bunch and Giligan's Island.

Catch The Nanny on Nick at Nite. Check your local listings for times.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Just Stuff

Criminy, it's been a busy few days.

* I knocked out a ghost story called A Shadow of a Distant Life for a local suburb's writing contest. Grand prize: publication in a book that'll be available for rent in their library system and a public reading. Not exactly a game-changer, but it felt damn good to devote some time to fiction, regardless of the contest's outcome.

* As money is super-tight, we've started to actively chip away at clearance sales and whatnot to get Christmas under control. I was about to detail some of the deals, but YaYa sometimes reads this, so . . . ixnay.

* We ran out of gas in the van and had to push it a good block and a half on a busy street. Not a pleasant experience, that. When we got to the actual filling station the slope was proving too much, but a Good Samaritan came and helped me get it over the (literal) hump. A moment later a woman, noticing our problem, moved her car so as to allow us easier access to a pump. I thanked both of them in the little Spanish I know and said a well deserved prayer of thanks for both of them.

* Good riddance to Johnny Sakalis on Project Runway. Not only a hack, but a liar too. BTW, they should dump Nina Garcia and keep Marie Claire's Zoe Glassner. I'll be damned if I can find a decent picture of her on the web, but every time she appears on screen I gasp and say "omg she's cute!". I mean *every* time, something that has worn a little thin on Lisa's nerves (imagine that).

* LuLu has been plagued with a deep cough and unproductive sleep for some time, and we've had a handful of doctor visits about it in the last month. Long story short, she's been diagnosed with asthma, which runs on both sides of the family, and several bad allergies.

After further testing, she has been determined to be allergic to: tree pollen (slightly), mosquito bites, ragweed (slightly), dust mites (incredibly so), shellfish (there's a relationship to dust mites there I'm told), and cats (highly).

We've put a allergy cover on both her mattress and pillows, banned the cats from her room, and put our large HEPA air filter near her door. We're not going to molley-coddle this, and she WILL be doing everything she would be doing otherwise, but our heart does go out to her.

The good news? The doc thinks that once her allergies improve so will her sleep, and her grumpiness.

* I ran into the daughter of the founder of Mazo's, an iconic hamburger stand on the south side that's been in business since before WWII. I suggested they add the ability to add credit card payments. How practical, I said, is a cash-only business in this day and age? She actually seemed to consider it and pronounced it a smart idea. We'll see if it's implemented.

* Smiley had an eye appointment, and not only came away with "perfect eyes" but pronounced each word to the doctor so clearly it made Lisa tear up. :)

* I spoke with someone who attended the 10,000 strong Tea Rally held yesterday in Milwaukee. I was working, but from what she said it was a hell of a good time and guest speaker Michelle Malkin rocked it. (you can ck out Malkin's blog on my sidebar).

On Race and Opposition to Obama

Even when it comes to blogging, Jimmy Carter somehow finds a way to screw things up.

I just completed reading a trio of books on Carter - a newly published work, his presidential autobiography, and a '76 biography. I would have liked the opportunity to discuss them here without having to muddy the waters with current events. Instead, Carter sounds off, gets some national facetime, and worms his way into Slapinions through a side door.

Thanks Jimmy.

Just in case you've been encased in Carbonite for the last week, Carter claims that much of the criticism of President Obama is due to the color of his skin. I don't know the inner working of Carter's mind. Maybe he believes that story. Maybe not.*

It's not that his was such an original statement. Oh, the things that have been said online on this subject, not to mention at the water cooler! Boiled down and simplified, it sounds something like this: if you strongly disagree with Obama, especially if you take action to show that disapproval, then there's a chance that you are acting out of an unspoken or (at least) subconscious reaction to the color of his skin. Hell, if you listen to some of the Far Left, there's no 'chance' - you ARE acting out of racial bias.

Hmm. With respect to those who sincerely believe this . . .schtuff, I call bullshit.

Are there cuckoos out there that are walking advertisements for Birth of a Nation? Sure there are. Idiots abound in a world of nearly seven billion, and if you get together a group of 100 people - much less millions - you're going to get some.

A fringe minority does not discredit the ideas and beliefs of millions of concerned American citizens. And frankly, saying it's true but that it "isn't everyone on the right" is insulting. It's implying that 'you' are the rare good apple and impugning those who stand with you. (and you'll always assume it's you, because who wants to be thought of as the racist in that comparison?).

You'll hear a lot of the Left reference the freaks who get all the media play. But I wonder how it would be if the show was on the other foot? Do the same type of nutters speak for the Left?

I watched (and laughed along with) a video taken by a conservative who went 'undercover' at a pro-Health Care Reform rally. Among the crowd there was every conceivable liberal stereotype: the hippie who lived in a commune and didn't 'believe' in property, the radical, and the leech who lived off the system and had no intention of ever changing her ways. Funny as hell, but not even worth a repost, because it was obviously skewed to show *only* the Funny Farm rejects.

But if I wanted to , what lesson could I extrapolate from that piece of selective reporting? Hmm. Let me see. How about: everyone who backs Obama is a drug addled welfare recipient that advocates the use of violence to save a tree.

Stupid right? A damn ignorant thing to say? Then why is it okay to slap labels on the Right?

Somewhere in America, right this very moment, there is an act of racism at play. Perhaps its white on black, or black on white, or Hmong on Arab, but it's happening. Scream to the heavens at the injustice of that, and I'll join your cry. But this?

This is about creating a distraction in order to explain an administration mired in legislative setbacks. This is about ridiculous claims, like a member of the Congressional Black Caucus saying

"I guess we'll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside intimidating people. ... That's the logical conclusion if this kind of attitude is not rebuked"

and still having a job. This is about coming to grips with the fact that the man you view as a hero, one destined to change the world, is simply human after all.

What I say doesn't matter much in this world. In the end, we can only speak for ourselves and our own actions. I'm not going to judge our President by his color, but neither will I ever again devote so much as a paragraph to defending myself from such hateful generalizations. I will continue to speak out, with increasing volume if need be, in opposition to any plan I feel is against the spirit or well-being of this country.

If you feel the need to call me names for doing so, well, that's on you.

** * * *** * * * *

* Either way, IMO he wasn't there to express his own opinion so much as to act as the designated 'hammer' for his party. He has sufficient national presence to go out there, throw himself on a sword, and say what needs to be said (good or bad) to jump start a media debate. Following that the President can step in and say he respectfully disagrees, thereby distancing himself from the fray while reaping the results. Politically, it's not a bad way of conducting business.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Vantage Point

A star studded cast, an intriguing premise and a hell of a trailer - the latter is what worried me, as it usually means you've seen the best three minutes of the movie before you even buy a ticket.

Not so in this case. Vantage Point tells the story of a Presidential assassination attempt told from multiple, often redundant points of view.

The good to great? The concept was interesting and the plot took twists and turns to keep you watching. The acting - barring Forrest Whitaker's surprisingly awkward performance - was top notch, and the action consistent.

Downside? The Evil plan rivaled Oceans Eleven in complexity, which seems awfully risky when each twist triples the chance of the US knocking you on your ass. But, maybe they read the script and knew that Hollywood would take this opportunity to preach love and international sympathy in place of a proper smackdown - right before the terrorists then interrupt the love fest to murder everyone.

By the way that chase scene . . . well, that should have been cut. What absolute, silly Hollywood fodder. But at least it was worth a laugh :)

A fun ride and I'm glad I rented it. 3.0 out of 4.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Chrissy!

Oh, there's lots to talk about, but so little time in the day. Before I lose track of things, I wanted to pop on here and wish my youngest sister a very Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Wisdom of Hagar The Horrible

Hamlet: Dad, why can't people just get along?

Hagar: It's very simple my son . . . sometimes people annoy other people.

Killing Castro

Lawrence Block is an undisputed master of the mystery genre, but with a catalog that stretches back nearly a half century many of his early works have long been out of print. Some of those titles are now seeing the light of day for the first day in decades under the Hard Case Crime label.

One of these books, written under a pen name in 1961, is Killing Castro. No one in 1961 could have predicted Castro's longevity. If his harsh regime wasn't quickly overthrown from within it seemed bound to fall with a little outside help.

Enter Block's novel. A group of Americans from different walks of life are dropped into Cuba and told to assassinate Fidel in exchange for a $100,000 payout.

A surprising amount of the book traces the history and evolution of Castro's movement, from the noble face he put on his early efforts to the repression that is the signature of his rule.

As literature this isn't going to knock Shakespeare off the shelf, but as a quick, fun read it's perfect. It's also, unexpectedly, well written and tightly woven; shades of Block's genius, even in his youth.

2.8 out of 4

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Slapjacks 1-0 in Fantasy Football 2009

Whew. It was a narrow victory in Week 1 of my fantasy football league, but a victory all the same.

[You'll have to forgive the odd formatting here. I'll master it as the weeks go by. ]

Here's my opponent, the Deerslayers.

Note that Phillip Rivers was his starting QB. As he played in the latter half of the Monday Night Football double-header, I had to wait on his stats. It was a rough first half for him (aka a great one for me) but as LL Cool J says, he went all "Phillip Rivvvers!" in the 4th quarter. But it wasn't enough.

The guy that saved the weekend for me was tight end Zach Miller of Oakland. His unexpected 10.20 points preserved my narrow lead. In the end, it was enough. Final score: Me: 86.06 Deerslayers: 81.28.

The numbers aren't 'final' yet, as stat corrections can still be made, but I'll need to improve next week. My point total would only have won three of the games this week, and I'd have been smoked by some of the front runners. That's not good.