Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Movie Review: The Black Hole

In my earlier review of Tron, I noticed that the movie was not as good as I had remembered. With this other early Disney sci-fi effort, I found the opposite to be true: it held up better than I expected. Story-wise, things aren't very complicated here: space exploration ship Palomino comes across a long-lost "ghost ship", the Cygnus perched at the edge of a black hole, and the crew goes aboard to investigate. There are plenty of co-incidences: one of the Palomino's crew members had a father serving on the Cygnus; they just happened to arrive on the very night the mad scientist's plan to enter the black hole is ready to begin; and so on. Still, while there might not be a lot of surprises in store (there's really only one mystery point here - the true nature of the robotic crew of the Cygnus), the script mostly keeps things moving right along without too much of the dialog cheesiness of Tron. The exception: Anthony Perkins gets a little too much into his idol worship of the mad scientist Dr. Reinhardt, and his conversion over to his side comes a little too quickly for my taste. Otherwise, though, not too bad.

The design and effects work here is actually more impressive to me than what happened on Tron. Sure, Tron was the more technically-intensive and groundbreaking work, but the costume design there just didn't do it for me. The work in realizing the massive Cygnus - and its destruction as it heads into the abyss - is to me better realized and quite impressive. I even mostly liked the cutesy robot design for VINCENT and BOB (although there was no reason to give BOB the folksy accents of Slim Pickens as a voice). The main downsides for me are mostly centered on Dr. Reinhardt's robotic guards, which carry out the inevitable shootout sequences by marching in lockstep with each other, and then standing around waiting to be shot. As a whole, these action scenes are poorly thought out and executed, and really drag things down during what is supposed to be the exciting, action-y part of the film (which really hasn't had a lot of activity up until then). 

But soon enough, the shootouts are over and we are back to seeing if the Palomino crew can escape the black hole's grip. Well, you can't have a film set at a black hole and not show the trip into it, can you? Nope - and so we get a strange variant on the ending of 2001, where the crew and the mad scientist (and for some reason, their robots) make a trip through literal heaven and hell, with flames and angels and the whole hackneyed two bits. At least Kubrick took a little effort into making his metaphysical journey into a strange mind warp of a type (even if it was just a helicopter shot run through a bunch of filters). While the fiery mountains of The Black Hole's version of hell are nicely realized, they are also a weird combination of lazy and nonsensical. 

Despite the ending, the whole thing does come off better than I had remembered. This movie usually seems to be remembered as an interesting failure, and I don't think it's as bad as all that, and certainly a better result than Tron (for what that's worth). Three stars.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Movie Review: The Defender

A Hong Kong version of The Bodyguard, the horrible Kevin Costner-Whitney Houston movie. Moving it to China and having Jet Li play the bodyguard role doesn't make it any better. There's the spoiled rich girl who is the target of assassins after witnessing a murder, and the pair of inept "comic relief" policemen. There's plenty of false scares, and bouts of frenetic "action" (mostly Li striking dramatic fighting poses - no real extended fight scenes until the very end) amongst what seems like hours of pouting by the girl and smart remarks from her young brother. If only someone could have protected me from this movie. One star.

Friday, October 26, 2007

iTunes Colors X: Purple

The last color in my collection (I think).

Song titles in my collection mentioning the color "purple" = 1

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: "Purple Haze"

Oh Good, Another Proposal

For the love of God, someone stop him before he proposes again:

Austin Mayor Will Wynn today will call for a November 2008 election to build a Central Austin passenger rail system connecting the airport, downtown and the University of Texas, along with the Triangle and Mueller developments in near North Austin.

Because that's what we need - another dysfunctional transit system to go along with CAMPO, Cap Metro, etc.

Unlike the current commuter rail project, which Capital Metro is building with its own, diminishing resources, Wynn will propose creating a task force of several jurisdictions to work out plans for the city and other governmental entities — and possibly developers and private companies — to pay for the project. This could include, Austin City Council Member Brewster McCracken says, selling bonds to be paid back with general city tax revenue as well as profits from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Remember, if you really want to waste money, you're going to need several jurisdictions working together.

Wynn said he would hope to avoid using general obligation debt, which would require a property tax increase.

You mean, besides the tax and fee increase you've already pushed through as part of your "green building" boondoggle?

"I'm going to try to build the case that now folks, we have to begin the next and obvious phase of our desperately needed comprehensive transportation system," Wynn said. "It should be our goal to do it with no new taxes."

You just got through saying you are going to fund it with Airport money and bonds. Where do you think the money used to replace the funds spent on this thing will come from? This is already a tax increase, you moron.

Wynn said he hopes that the task force could conclude its business within six months, allowing the beginning of a rail election campaign by the summer.

Not to mention the money for this - spending my money to convince me to waste more of my money.

Selling bonds would require permission of City of Austin voters (or Travis County voters, if commissioners decided to throw in some borrowed money as well), and Capital Metro under state law cannot build and operate additional lines without voter approval. This could mean simultaneous elections by the two sets of mostly the same voters, McCracken said, one to borrow the money and the other to allow the project.

So we will probably have the best of all possible worlds - we will vote to have the system, but not to pay for it. Oh, who am I kidding - the people of this town have proven time and again they will vote for any new expenditure put before them.

No one knows what this would cost at this point.

Yeah - no shit.

Capital Metro in 2006 proposed spending about $230 million to build a streetcar line from downtown to Mueller; the agency has revised that cost downward to $210.4 million. But what the mayor is discussing would be much more extensive, including a spur to the Triangle and a several mile run out to the airport that would have to include crossings of Interstate 35, Texas 71 and U.S. 183.

McCracken, in fact, has another extension in mind, this one to Zilker Park.

If there's one bozo on the council I hate more than Wynn, it's McCracken and his half-baked city planning schemes. Oh, and little Jennifer Kim, who just decided she didn't mean to upset the panhandlers, and is willing to pay them more of my money to prove it.

Look, here's a simple idea. You want to move people around from downtown to Meuller or the Triange or wherever, here's a brilliant idea - RUN A BUS LINE THERE. What is more likely is that you already do, and PEOPLE AREN'T USING THEM. You think shiny new streetcars will be more trendy than buses, so people will start using them. What will happen is some people will switch from buses to streetcars, but no additional traffic, and then you will be stuck with a streetcar route that cannot be changed.

Look guys, I know you council folks have a severe case of San Francisco envy - you're still steaming over the fact they thought of banning plastic bags before you did. I'm not particularly interested in living in San Francisco, or Seattle, or Portland or whatever other West Coast shithole city you think we should be turning into. You like it so much, fucking move there yourself.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

iTunes Colors IX: Orange

Song titles in my collection mentioning the color "orange" = 2

Miles Davis: "Orange"
Rubert Hine: "Orange Song"

Movie Review: Transporter 2

Well, there's mindless action films, and then there's this. It takes mindless to a new level. There's not much of a plot here - some bad guys try to take out a roomful of drug agents with a virus by infecting a kid, who infects his father, who infects everyone else. There was probably four hundred easier ways to make this happen, but there you are. Once the plot is discovered, none of the "good guys" inform the authorities about it until the infection has been spread, presumably to at least hundreds of people, although that aspect really isn't explored here. And of course, only our unstoppable hero, Jason Statham, can track down the bad guy and get the cure.

So, not much of a plot. Also not much in terms of production. I understand that impossible things are supposed to happen in this universe, but there are two CGI car jump stunts in the first half hour that make the bus jump from Speed seem like documentary footage. Not much joy in the hand-to-hand action either, although I did enjoy one fight late where Statham takes down a dozen men - with a fire hose.

I was all prepared to give this film the requisite two stars, but unfortunately they also threw in a couple of technological goofs that I just couldn't get past. My favorite one: Statham breaks into a security room, finds a picture of one of the bad guys, uploads it to a handy iPod (really?), then uploads it from the iPod to his Audi (really??), then uploads it from the Audi to a random police computer that a friend of his, fresh off the plane from France, happens to have access to (really???), who then uses an unfamiliar search program to locate the identity of the person in the picture in about thirty seconds and get his location back to Statham (really????).

I know, I know: The Rule is "nothing you see a computer doing in a movie is possible." But this one was just too stupid to ignore. It's not really as bad a movie as my other one-star specials this year (like Norbit), but that's what you get for misusing an iPod. One star. 

(Oh and I forgot - the DVD cover has Statham blasting away with two guns John Woo-style. That actually never happens in the whole film. It might have been better if it did.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

iTunes Colors VIII: Yellow

Song titles in my collection mentioning the color "yellow" = 4

Porcupine Tree: "Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape"
The Beatles: "Yellow Submarine"
Elton John: "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
Chick Corea: "The Yellow Nimbus"

Run, Kay, Run!

The DREAM Amnesty Act bill has apparently been killed off yet again. Of course, like light rail or the airport, they can always bring it up again and again - it only has to pass once. However, voting for cloture (moving to a vote) on the bill was the Texas senatorette, Kay Bailey Hutchinson. (John Cornyn, a far more reliable conservative, voted against.)

I'm not a big fan of Kay - the only significant thing I can remember her pushing was an expansion of Amtrak, of all things. The rumor is, she has her eye on the Texas governorship for some reason. If she's going to continue to be squishy on things like immigration, then I'm all for her running for governor - so I can vote against her with a clear conscious and we can get a real conservative in that senate seat. I frankly don't care if she ends up as governor - it's a fairly meaningless position in Texas except as a path to higher things, and a lightweight like Kay ain't going anywhere higher than that. So I say - run, Kay, run! Go for the governorship! Leave the senate to more responsible parties.

iTunes Colors VII: Silver

Song titles in my collection mentioning the color "silver" = 4

David Gray: "Silver Lining"
Hawkwind: "Silver Machine"
Genesis: "Silver Rainbow"
Chick Corea Elektric Band: "Silver Temple"

Near misses = 2

Mark Knopfler: "Silvertown Blues"
Pink Floyd: "Quicksilver"

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Go, Fred!, Go

Oh, yeah...the Fred! gets a big boost in my eyes for this alone:

Some of our cities in this country, for their own individual reasons and notions, have basically said to their locals, ‘You can’t cooperate with federal authorities. If you run across illegal aliens, you cannot cooperate with [the federal government], you cannot reveal them to federal authorities.’ That’s wrong.
I propose that we cut off some discretionary funding to those cities. [Austin - this means you.] If you’re going to do that, you’re not going to do it with federal money. As far as colleges and universities are concerned, part of the law is that you may not induce people to come in illegally and become part of the university by giving them in-state tuition treatment, unless you give it to everybody else, which of course nobody does. But they continue to do so. There are discretionary funds there that need to be cut off from colleges and universities that insist on violating the law. [I don't know if this includes UT.]

Absolutely fucking yes. I absolutely hate this policy - a city that says to its police officers "don't enforce the law." Council members that put forth this position should be removed from office - taking away their money is the next best thing. (Of course, cities should be getting less federal money anyway - because there should be less taxes going to Washington before going back to the cities in the first place.)

All I know about Fred! so far are his sound bites, most of which were sent around the right blogosphere when they say the right things, like smacking down the round mound of inanity that is Michael Moore. I don't think I would mind Rudy or Mitt too much (but no McCain, please), but Fred! is sounding like a winner to me. They are sound bites, but they are absolutely positively the right sound bites.

Movie Review: Aeon Flux

Sigh. Another day, another dystopian future where strangely dispassionate but perfect soldiers plan the overthrow of a repressive government. Nobody seems to have much emotion here (and not a drop of Librium in sight), even as they talk about possibly destroying the last of the human race. Action scenes here are largely boring - lines of black-clad riot police and Our Heroes spraying automatic weapons around randomly, and the Bad Guys fall down. The main Bad-Guy-Turned-Good-Guy gets shot in the back twice during the last half-hour and still manages to commando his way around without much problem. Hand-to-hand combat scenes are primarily filmed in confuse-o-vision - herky-jerky cameras, too tightly shot, and poorly edited.

The plotting isn't any better. The security employed by the Bad Guys is laughable - you have a cloning operation essential to the continuation of both your government and society, and you put it in an orbiting blimp that can be reached by jumping off of a building, where it can be destroyed by a couple of bombs? Oh, O.K. There are a total of five-million people in one city, they have access to every one of them in the womb, and the government can't put tracker devices or something in each one. I see. The lead character calls off an assassination attempt on the leader because she suddenly has a repressed memory of them being together - and this memory didn't appear during the thousands of other times his image was seen (his face is on murals all over the city)? Yeah, sure.

This is just an attempt at style over substance, and there's not much of either. Two stars.

Monday, October 22, 2007

iTunes Colors VI: Brown

Song titles in my collection mentioning the color "brown" = 4

ZZ Top: "Brown Sugar"
The Rolling Stones: "Brown Sugar"
Van Morrison: "Brown-Eyed Girl"
The Beatles: "Old Brown Shoe"

Near misses = 2

Widespread Panic: "C. Brown"
Amani A.W.-Murray: "Charlie Brown Theme"

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like October

Well, it took until October 22nd this year, but here's fall.

Temperature in the 50's and steady, gusty north wind, moderate rainfall.
And expected to be in the 70's and sunny the rest of the week.

And it's about time. I can finally shut off the A/C!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

iTunes Colors V: White

Song titles in my collection mentioning the color "white" = 6

The Vaughan Brothers: "White Boots"
David Gray: "White Ladder"
Umphrey's McGee: "White Man's Moccasins"
Cream: "White Room"
Billy Idol: "White Wedding"
Ayreon: "Out Of The White Hole"

Friday, October 19, 2007

iTunes Colors IV: Green

Song titles in my collection mentioning the color "green" = 12

Steely Dan: "Green Book"
Steely Dan: "Green Earrings"
Donald Fagen: "Green Flower Street"
Pink Floyd: "Green Is The Colour"
Mike Jones: "Green Mills Blues"
Booker T & The MG's: "Green Onions"
Sugarloaf: "Green-Eyed Lady"
Miles Davis: "Blue In Green"
Metallica: "Last Caress/Green Hell"
Jeff Beck: "Love Is Green"
Chick Corea Akoustic Band: "On Green Dolphin Street"
Al Di Meola: "Opus In Green"

Listening to: Mullmuzzler - Shores Of Avalon

via FoxyTunes

They Finally Did It

It took a while, but I finally saw the moron callers on C-SPAN Washington Journal piss off the host. I don't know all these guys names, but they try so, so hard to keep things going on these shows in the face of the endless stream of stupidity coming at them from their phone lines. This morning's guest was Michael Ledeen, speaking about the possibility of internal revolution in Iran. Just about every caller, on all three lines, talking about "the Zionists" or "the Jews" or "fighting for Isreal". The problem is - they did so without even listening to what Ledeen was saying. He explicitly rejected calls for military action against Iran during that interview. But just about every caller accused Ledeen of trying to stir up support for "another war in support of the Zionists". By the end of the interview, the host was finally fed up enough to start cutting off callers and finally hanging up on them.

The thing is - today wasn't that much different than most other days. I wonder if these hosts might finally start realizing just what it is they're up against here.

And wow - even as I am typing - Ledeen's segment has ended and the morons are still calling up and defending all of the anti-semetism in the previous segment. Sheesh.

Listening to: U2 - The Fly

via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Movie Review: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

I guess I'm not really into musicals that much, so it's a good thing that this one is mostly movie and not so much musical. There's only a few songs, and none are particularly memorable aside from the overture-of-sorts, "Comedy Tonight". This is one of those farces that keep piling on the subplots and complications for its fast-talking lead, and keeps the funny one-liners coming at a quick clip. "Let's see...who do we know that's dead?" "You'll never learn, you'll be a eunuch all your life. " Definite echoes for the later Roman segment of Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I.

It's too bad the whole thing falls apart by the end. The writers appear to have written themselves into a corner and so came up with one of those wacky chase scenes that pop up frequently in these 60's comedies, this one done on chariots. That couldn't have come directly from the Broadway version (but then, I've never seen it, so I don't know what else was changed). The chase scene never really works; just a series of bad visual gags that end up with everyone captured - where the conflicts are resolved in about two sentences, and then the movie ends. Oh, well - it was very good for the first hour or so.

Plus you get to see Buster Keaton doing stuntwork at age 70, and a brief cameo by the future Doctor #3, Jon Pertwee. So, certainly a fine effort all around - four stars.

iTunes Colors III: Red

Song titles from my collection mentioning the color "red" = 12

King Crimson: "Red"
Miles Davis: "Red"
Rush: "Red Barchetta"
Widespread Panic: "Red Hot Momma"
Rush: "Red Lenses"
Rush: "Red Sector A"
David Gilmour: "Red Sky At Night"
Rush: "Red Tide"
Elvis Costello: "(Angels Want To Wear My) Red Shoes"
Miles Davis: "Electric Red"
King Crimson: "One More Red Nightmare"
Traveling Wilburys: "Under The Red Sky"

El Final De Las Manitas

The saga of Las Manitas is over. I hope.

The Statesman article doesn't say definitively that there won't still be (more) public money thrown at any of the parties involved, and it doesn't say that there weren't payoffs made by the developers to the Perez sisters, but at least we will finally be rid of Las Manitas. I'm not a big fan of all of the construction going on downtown, but anything that gets those racist bitches out of the picture is a good thing in my view.

Now I assume they will still be going through with their relocation - you know, the one that was far too expensive and for which the city just had to give them a $750000 gift, errr, forgivable loan. So they will probably still be around for the politicos and "real Austinites" to patronize. Just as long as they do it with their own money, and not mine.

And it means I can get rid of this badge:

No Manitas

iTunes Colors II: Black

Song titles in my collection mentioning the color "black" = 21

Gentle Giant: "Black Cat"
Steely Dan: "Black Cow"
Led Zeppelin: "Black Dog"
Claude Bolling: "Black Folks"
Steely Dan: "Black Friday"
Soundgarden: "Black Hole Sun"
Mainline: "Black Honey"
Santana: "Black Magic Woman"
Brand X: "Black Moon"
Deep Purple: "Black Night"
Black Sabbath: "Black Sabbath"
Buick MacKane: "Black Shiny Beast"
The Doobie Brothers: "Black Water"
Porcupine Tree: "Blackest Eyes"
AC/DC: "Back In Black"
Dire Straits: "Fade To Black"
Soundgarden: "Fell On Black Days"
Ayreon: "Into The Black Hold"
The Rolling Stones: "Paint It, Black"
Queensryche: "The Lady Wore Black"
Johnny Cash: "The Long Black Veil"

Near misses = 7

The Black Crowes: "Blackberry"
The Beatles: "Blackbird"
Scorpions: "Blackout"
Widespread Panic: "Blackout Blues"
Weather Report: "Blackthorn Rose"
Miles Davis: "Bye Bye Blackbird"
ZZ Top: "Mexican Blackbird"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

iTunes Colors I: Blue

Song titles in my collection mentioning the color "blue" = 31

The Who: "Behind Blue Eyes"
Bob Schneider: "Big Blue Sea"
Miles Davis: "Blue"
Styx: "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)"
Umphrey's McGee: "Blue Echo"
Cary Brothers: "Blue Eyes"
Elton John: "Blue Eyes"
Miles Davis: "Blue in Green"
Widespread Panic: "Blue Indian"
The Beatles: "Blue Jay Way"
David Bowie: "Blue Jean"
ZZ Top: "Blue Jean Blues"
David Gilmour: "Blue Light"
Chick Corea Elektric Band II: "Blue Miles"
Fats Domino: "Blue Monday"
Chick Corea: "Blue Monk"
Los Lobos: "Blue Moonlight"
Foreigner: "Blue Morning, Blue Day"
Bela Fleck: "Blue Mountain Hop"
Dave Brubeck Quartet: "Blue Rondo a la Turk"
Elvis Presley: "Blue Suede Shoes"
Carl Perkins: "Blue Suede Shoes"
The Doors: "Blue Sunday"
Jeff Beck: "Blue Wind"
Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels: "Devil With A Blue Dress"
Pink Floyd: "Goodbye Blue Sky"
Traveling Wilburys: "New Blue Moon"
Alan Parsons: "Out Of The Blue"
Widespread Panic: "Peace Frog/Blue Monday"
George Gershwin: "Rhapsody In Blue"
David Gilmour: "The Blue"

Near misses ("the blues" doesn't count as the color "blue") = 35

Fats Domino: "Blueberry Hill"
Steely Dan: "Blues Beach"
Chick Corea: "Blues Connotation"
John Coltrane: "Blues Legacy"
Queensryche: "A Junkie's Blues"
Miles Davis: "All Blues"
Claude Bolling: "Baroque And Blue"
Chick Corea: "Bessie's Blues"
Steely Dan: "Deacon Blues"
Chick Corea & Origin: "Early Afternoon Blues"
Taj Mahal: "Fishing Blues"
Johnny Cash: "Folsom Prison Blues"
The Beatles: "For You Blue"
Mike Jones: "Green Mills Blues"
The Black Crowes: "High Head Blues"
Sting: "Jeremiah Blues (Part 1)"
ZZ Top: "Joe Blues"
Pink Floyd: "Jugband Blues"
Widespread Panic: "Me And The Devil Blues"
Johhny Winter: "Mean Town Blues"
Aerosmith: "Milk Cow Blues"
Pink Floyd: "More Blues"
Joe Henderson: "No More Blues"
The Doors: "Roadhouse Blues"
The Blues Brothers: "Shotgun Blues"
Mark Knopfler: "Silvertown Blues"
Bob Dylan: "Subterranean Homesick Blues"
The Who: "Summertime Blues"
Rush: "Summertime Blues"
Spock's Beard: "The 39th Street Blues (I'm Sick)"
Stevie Ray Vaughan: "These Blues Is Killing Me"
Led Zeppelin: "Travelling Riverside Blues"
Johnny Cash: "Walking The Blues"
The Beatles: "Yer Blues"
The Who: "Young Man Blues"

Listening to: Three Dog Night - An Old Fashioned Love Song

via FoxyTunes

The Most Respected Name In News

I haven't watched either the NBC Nightly News or Saturday Night Live in years, but this did catch my eye...

Here's an interesting bit of news: NBC news anchor Brian Williams will host Saturday Night Live next month. He was asked based on his stint at the anchor desk on Weekend Update last year. ... Going on SNL will allow people to see Williams' funnier side (he shows it off on The Daily Show occasionally), but will it compromise his respect as an anchor man?

Anchor man? Respect?

Oh yeah, a prominent journalist sure wouldn't want to lose any respect:

Journalists nudged out governors with 26 percent rating their ethics as high or very high and 25 scoring them low or very low.

Of course, it's questionable whether a guy reading words off of a teleprompter actually counts as a "journalist" or not, but there you go.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Movie Review: The Pink Panther

Bad. Very bad. Watching this movie makes me forget when Steve Martin used to be funny. I don't know what Jean Reno did to deserve this role - I'm not sure I've seen an actor look so embarrassed to be on screen. Exactly one funny line in the whole movie: just after being invited to Beyonce Knowles' hotel room, Reno warns Martin that it may be a trap.

His response: "Who cares?"

Other than that, avoid with extreme prejudice. One star.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Postman Doesn't Ring Here Anymore

Reading a blog post about Saint Al's newest consolation prize on RedState, I saw a parenthetic note that David Brin was blogging up a left-wing nutroot storm. Now, I'm a fan of Brin's work, so hearing that another artist I enjoy was somewhere off the reservation was not encouraging.

So I clicked over to his blog. The first sentence of the newest entry:

Looking back across earlier portions of this series, we can see these dismal trends continuing in real time. For example, see a detailed look at the effort to transform the US military into a force for radical christianity.

"Radical Christianity". Wow - even worse than I thought.

Well, another artist I can toss on the back shelf, never to be seen again. Too bad.

See, the thing is: it's a buyer's market for content - books, music, movies, web sites. I own more movies than I have time to watch. I have enough music on my iPod to listen to everything once for almost two weeks straight with no sleep before I repeat. And if I ever did get through all of my books, movies and music - there's an ever-increasing amount of it being made.

The net effect is: very little of it could possibly be considered essential. I can snip out any number of creators (such as Brin, or R.E.M. or George Clooney or any number of others) without materially affecting my life at all. There's just so much more to see.

So when someone comes along and drops crap like this, true barking moonbattery, I don't feel too bad about kicking their ass to the curb. I see Brin's name on the spine now, I'm going to see this stupid blog entry (and the dozens of similar entries before it) pop into my mind, and I'm just going to move along to the next book. Does that say something about me? Sure it does - it says I'm a little too plugged into politics, that I can't compartmentalize a radically-stupid political opinion from other parts of the artist's work. Guess what? I'm the one that decided how I spend my time and money, so he's got to pander to me, not the other way around. I don't feel the need to patronize those who think I'm an idiot, a "radical christian", a "nazi" or whatever.

Which makes the decision to spew stuff like "Radical Christianity" all the more puzzling. Why piss off a large group of customers like that? Does he really think that he'll get more people buying his books than he loses? Maybe he doesn't care; if so, then he's on his own little personal crusade, and he should be the last one preaching about "Radical" religionism.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Did That Happen?

Still awake - just got through watching the highlights of the game again.

I still don't fucking believe it.

I Just Don't Believe It

The strangest fucking football game I've ever seen. I'd feel a little bad for Buffalo if those assholes hadn't called that last timeout to ice Nick Folk - he jammed that 53-yarder right down their throat twice. FUCKING EAT IT YOU LOSERS.

Bad TiVo, Bad!

I guess I found the capacity of my TiVo. I just started watching Ed Wood yesterday, and then found this morning that it had been deleted. Yeah, I didn't have it marked "Don't Delete Until I Say", but I might hope that the TiVo would note that I had been accessing that program just yesterday and selected some other unmarked show to delete first. Oh, well.

Morning Constitutional XII

Amy Babich is one of the local bicycle, ummm, somethings. I think "enthusiast" is not nearly strong enough a word - were she mayor (I believe she has run before), she would make downtown Austin a car-free zone. Her periodic letters to the Austin Comicle are usually good for a laugh, even amongst the other free-range idiocy expressed in the letters-to-the-editor section.

Her latest letter (sorry, don't know how to link directly to that letter - just search for Babich) is a typical rant about development not meeting her bizarre worldview. She decries the development of The Domain for not being more accessible to walkers or bikers - from downtown.

The distance from downtown to The Domain, according to Google Maps? About 11 miles.

Hands up? How many people want to walk 11 miles from downtown, enjoy a day of shopping and dining, and then walk back 11 miles?

None? OK - how about biking 11 miles instead?

Still none? I didn't think so. Amy, the reason people don't walk in Austin for transportation purposes is because it is too hot and things are far away. Yes, I can already hear her say - that's the point! If we all lived, worked, shopped and ate downtown, then we'd all be able to walk around in paradise!

But Amy - I don't want to live downtown. I like having a house, with a yard, with neighbors I'm not sharing a wall with. I like that I didn't pay a couple of hundred thousand dollars for an apartment. I like having large supermarkets available, instead of going to a tiny convenience store or the one grocery store (Whole Foods) allowed in the central city. You want to live that way, fine, go right ahead - don't complain about those of us that don't want to live in whatever "Austin Weird" version of Manhattan you are trying to create.

This isn't even the part dumb enough to be worthy of a Morning Constitutional.

No, that part is this sentence. Austin should work to make the city pedestrian-friendly, because:

As a side benefit, the city could evacuate in an emergency.

OK - so let's think about why we might need to evacuate the city. Uhhh, maybe a hurricane is holding together long enough to adversely effect Austin? Maybe there was some kind of terrorist attack (UT is actually a reasonable target for that kind of thing)? You know, either nuclear or biological?

Right - so we're going to evacuate the city. Is your first thought "I better get my bike", "I better put on some comfortable shoes for my long walk", or "I better get in my car?"

If for some reason I really need to evacuate Austin, you better believe I'm not doing it on foot or bike. If so, this city might as well kiss its ass goodbye.

Amy, you really are a single-minded moron. Thanks for making me feel smarter all day long.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Oh Good, More Celebrities Talking!!!

Jesus, it's like they're specifically trying to drive me away...

The last week has seen Comedy [sic] Central announce renewals of the brain-dead Lil' Bush and the god-awful annoyance that is Mind of Mencia. Besides the endless streams of smarm that are The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (and you people with "Stewart/Colbert '08" stickers on your car need to go far away), they've now found yet another venue for members of that writing staff.

A show with celebrities debating current events moderated by Lewis Black.

They'd have a hard time finding a show I'd be less interested in watching then yet another revival of Politically Incorrect with an angrier, trollier version of Bill Maher. Maybe if Rosie O'Donnell was a regular panel member, but that's about it.

Don't know about you, but I never get enough of celebrities expounding upon the issues of the day with their special brand of wisdom. Finally, I'll find out what to think from the folks that really matter.

Sigh. If it weren't for South Park, I'd just as soon take this channel of my TV altogether.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Looking Behind To Look Ahead

I was listening to KLBJ's Football Show podcast yesterday. Jeff and Jeff were discussing the fate of the loser of this weekend's UT-OU game. That team would be 0-2 in conference, two games back of the winner and perhaps three games back in the Big 12 South. They would definitely be out of the national championship chase and probably out of the Big 12 South chase. At that point, they would be struggling to get to the Alamo or Holiday Bowl, at best.

So I took a look at some historical records, just to see when Texas was last in this situation.

In the Big 12 race, UT has sometimes had a loss to OU, and then usually cruise a while until a late loss at Tech or A&M. In 1999, UT lost to Kansas State for their first conference loss, but went on to beat OU and Nebraska before closing out with losses to A&M, Nebraska (in the conference title game) and Arkansas (in the Cotton Bowl).

But when was the last time UT had two early conference losses? That would be 1997, when UT lost to Oklahoma State before barely beating OU, and then starting a four-game conference losing streak en route to a 4-7 finish. That was Mackovic's last year as coach.

I sure hope we are more like 1999 this year than 1997.

By the way, a UT loss would also drop them out of the Top 25. The last time they were not ranked was 2000 - surprisingly dropping out after a win. I'm looking for that string to break this season.

Movie Review: The Devil's Rejects

Having watched and been less-than-impressed with this movie's predecessor, House of 1000 Corpses, I wasn't expecting much from this one when it showed up on my TiVo. I gave it a shot, though, because I had heard it was a better effort.


This one was actually worse. At least Ho1KC had a few surrealistic touches, like the opening ride through Captain Spaulding's funhouse and the chase through Dr. Satan's realm underground. Sure, they didn't make any sense, but they were at least something interesting to look at. It also tried to go for more of an underground vibe in terms of production, with shock cuts, cheapo video effects and so on.

This movie played it mostly straight, getting rid of most of the bizarre stuff and replacing it with more torture porn and more white trash. A subplot was added involving a sheriff out for revenge, in an attempt (I suppose) to keep us rooting for the Driftwoods, the psycho family that are the nominal protagonists here. It didn't work - each new character that was introduced was worse than the last, resulting in a film full of people I didn't want to spend any more time with.

Tiresome, pointless and only a minimal amount of fun. The best parts by far were the opening credits (set to "Midnight Rider") and the closing credits (a nice relaxing swoop over some country roadways set to a cool song called "Seed Of Memory" that I hadn't heard before). Everything else can go away. One star.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fantasy Football: Week 3 Recap

Finally, a good week - all four teams got victories. My money league team benefited primarily from a career week by Dallas Cowboys WR Patrick Crayton, allowing the Hanging Chads to pull out a 16-point victory. Lee Evans finally made a non-trivial appearance, as well. A lot of teams in that league had very low scoring weeks, with QBs like McNabb, Rivers and Alex Smith all pulling in less than one point each. This only gets me up to 1-3, but at least I'm off the floor.

My Yahoo league team continued its dominance, going to 4-0. The gap has narrowed a bit, although I'm still the highest-scoring team in the league. Jon Kitna had another good week, and Cleveland's Braylon Edwards showed up big.

My NFL league team pulled out a narrow victory to even their record at 2-2, now one game back from the division lead. This is very much an average team - not the most points, not the least points. With Steven Jackson out, this team probably won't get a lot of traction, so hopefully he'll be back soon.

And my ESPN league team pulled out a close five-point win to move to 3-1, also one game back. Carson Palmer and Travis Henry were the big stars here - and Henry may be injured now. So hopefully, he'll be back soon as well to keep things rolling.

Ten Hours To Glory

Well, well, well - look what one of my long-lost WishList entries in my TiVo hunted up for me:

Hallelujah! It's been a while since these were shown over on TLC (they're now on Discovery Home), so there's even a chance I've forgotten the endings to some of them.
The only down side - they appear to be sadly lacking Robert Llewellyn and Cathy Rogers. The first batch is the American version with Tyler Harcott and Karyn Bryant. So - not perfect, but it'll do.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Trouble In Big D - Again

I can remember back to the halcyon days when Al Lipscome and Diane Ragsdale were city-wide jokes, race-baiting citizens of Dallas into fleeing the city. As long as I can remember, the Dallas City Council (and city government as a whole) has been a do-nothing joke, a record continued up to the most recent group, led by mayorette Laura Miller's losing the Dallas Cowboys for the second time.

But now I see they've gone one further and decided to take the plunge into extortion, bribery and embezzlement.

And yes, it's related to another government welfare program.

As bad as the Austin City Council is (and they are bad), I'm extra glad I'm not still living in Dallas and that my family has all moved to better places up north.