Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Listen to your Dad

As an early Father's Day present to my dad, I'm dedicating the first line of this blog to him: you were right.

I'm not going to be specific, mainly because I only get an hour for luncha nd I don't think most people want to go through the list. But I've learned enough in my life time thus far to know that going forward, when my dad comes up with an idea for me to undertake, and I actually think it sounds like a good idea, then by gum, I'm going to give it a whilr. He's given me enough such suggestions in the past, nearly all of which were dismissed by me as being too difficult to persue with the passion necessary to be successful at (radio DJ, Sports play-by-play to name the 2 that I think about at least once a week). Frankly, I don't doubt that I could have been good at them, I just doubted (and still do) that I had the fortitude to persue them.

However, a couple weeks ago, he came to me with an idea which I just could dismiss: he suggested I draw a political cartoon. I couldn't, at the time, come up with a single reason why that wouldn't be a good idea. Well, I still think it's a good idea, it's just going to take a lot more work than I had initially thought.

Back in the day, I would doodle little cartoons like a champ. I even saved some excerpts from class notes through the years specifically because I didn't want to lose a doodle or 2. When you do something like that with the frequency that I did, well, you're doodles get to have a certain consistance to them. I'm not saying that I was good. But at the time, I certainly wasn't bad for a doodler and I suspect that would be sufficient for a fledgling cartoonist.

6 year's later and I'm WOEFULLY out of practice. I had a really funny idea for my first cartoon and I sat down over the weekend to draw it. I had a vision in my head on exactly how I wanted the characters (Village Idiot Bush and The Emperor) to look. Well, let's just say it' back to the drawing board for me. I need to spend a little more time on my doodling. Since I'm not a very naturally artistic person, being out of habit on doodling has taken what little faculties I may have once had and flushed them down the toilet.

But it's still a good idea. And I fully intend on getting it done. It's just going to take a tad longer to get a portfolio together than I had origially hoped. I'm going to have to get my doodling schwerve back on.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Put on your Dancing Shoes

There hasn't been much by way of Wedding news of late, hence the lack of talk about it here. However, over the past week, a few things have happened.

First, we sent out what will probalby be the last of our invites. There were a couple folks that I had to get addresses from and was being a little lazy about.

Then, while I was in LA I bought an album at Ameoba Records, across the street from the ArcLight where I saw the digital projection of Star Wars on Friday. Ameoba Records, as many of you are aware, is only the greatest record store in the entire world. Anyway, the goal this time around was to pick up an album that had a song which Jenn and I had heard the very very tail end of in flipping through the channels one day. We hadn't been able to find the album anywhere else but we knew Ameoba would have it (they have everything). Anyway, now we have our wedding song.

It was kind of funny because when we both heard the bit of song we kind of knew that would be it. At the time it was like, "Hey, there's a good idea for our wedding song." Then we got the album and listened to the whole thing and both agreed that we really liked the song. A t that point, I figured it went unsaid that that would be the song. But then on Tusday Jenn meekly polled me over to the couch and played the song and asked (in her cute, shy style) "Can that be our wedding song." She's so adorable. I told her that I doesn't really have a good beat for dancing purposes but that I like the song so much and it really expresses how I feel that it has to be the song. And no, I will not reveal the title or artist. Jenn and I are going to play a game and see if Chris knows who it is after we dance to it.

Lastly, Jenn's shoes arrived yesterday. After much stress in finding a suitable pair locally and much trepidation in buying shoes on line, she finally sucked it up and bought a pair she foudn on line at a decent price. She loves the shoes and I have t admit that they are by for the coolest shoes that will ever grace a bride's feet. Her favorite part about them is that they can be worn after the wedding and I'd have to agree. I'm not sure if she wants to reveal the coolness of the shoes tot eh general public. IF she wants to describe them, I'll leave that for her to do as a comment to this post. I don't want to steal her thunder.

There's the wedding update. We still need to sit down and come up with a list of songs to be played and next month we're planning on getting our rings.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Review of the Sith

Giving a review of the final Star Wars installment is a monumental, almost insurmountable, task. It's really too big for me, a devout and loyal fan who has learned the tenents of good and evil from the likes of Luke, Darth Vader, and most of all, Yoda. I loved the original Trilogy and now I love the whole Saga. I really did want to know te back story. It has to make for a good story, right? Well, nowthat it's over, I'm conflicted. Mainly becasue before I was OK that I never knew the back story. It was good enough for me to join Star Wars en media res, right smack dab in the middle fo the story. And it was OK that we never really knew EXACTLY what turned Vader. Becasue we got to see the back end of the character arch, where he experienced redemtion and for 15 years, that was enough. I mean really, do you think Shakespeare needed to actually write up the back story to Hamlet?

Now, I have to deal with the fact that this is my last Star Wars movie ever. This was a lot easier to deal with at 9. At 30, it seems too big.

But when it all boils down, I DID want to see this story told and am even more pleased that, from a story-telling and moie-making stand-point if not a galactic stand-point, it ended on a high note. This was a really good movie. Really and truely. And this time, I like it not just becasue it's a piece of the whole and I know there is more to come, as was the case with the much maligned Episodes1 and 2.

Things I liked:
- I liked that motivation for Anikin never changed. He never waivered in why he did anything that he ever did. He was consistant, which made the fall believable. I don't buy into some of the grumbles that the reason didn't seem to quite be enough. The scope of the Young Anikin character made it enough.
- I liked that Lucas was able to construct back stories for Obi Wan and Yoda that would explain actions 20 years later. Now you know what they've gone through and that makes their charachters in the Original Trilogy even richer.
- I liked that the Jedi weren't perfect and that there was a price they would eventually pay for their devotion to a religion and inability to see the person struggles that a follower of such a religion might experience. While religions provide excelent guideline to follow, a rigid following is not always possible in a hectic life. And the fact that they were unable to relate to Anakin personally is part of what drives him to the Dark Side. A rigid belief in ANYTHING can only lead to greater harm than good.
- Palpatine. A better character than you can even remotely realize in the Original Trilogy. IF anything, it's a shame the first 3 didn't do this character justice.
- I liked that I was completely uncomfortable for the final 1:30 of the movie. Every line broke my heart just a little more becasue all along, you knew exactly what was coming. I don't think I would have cared so much if Star Wars weren't a modern myth and you KNEW Vader would become Anakin again. The important thing about a myth is that you have to have the complete character arch.

I'm not going to come up with a similar list for the things I didn't like. Most of my complaints are minor and can be read in any review on teh Ain't It Cool News reviews (or any other review writen by a true Star Wars geek). However, there is one that I think warrants talking about that leaves me scratching my head: Naboo is still around. Why? How can you have a planet play such a vital role in the new trilogy and not even get a whisper of a mention in the Originals? Wouldn't it have been more powerful to have made Naboo Aldernane of Yavin? Wouldn't it have warranted at least a slight mention in passing? Don't you think it would have been a key part of the rebel alliance? Just makes me scratch my head and realize that the need for Jar Jar was officially ZERO.

I'm serious now, this is really difficult for me. My thoughts are all over the place. But for now, I guess this is the best I can do to relay my feelings. All of the little things are so wonderful. And it just FELT right the entire time I sat there. I think it's possible that you'd have to be a true fan to relate to my thoughts and if you're not a true fan then you're likely not going to get as much out of it.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Bush is too Stupid for the Sith

There's an interesting sub-text to the Star Wars saga that is currently rattling a lot of cages and causing quite a clamor. I'm speaking of the transformation of a Republic, as the Star Wars Universe represents in Episode I, into a Totalitarian Empire, as we find young Skywalking living in Episode IV. The mumbling from some reviewers is that Lucas is taking a jab at Bush and his handling of National Security since 9/11 and more specifically our illeagal Iraqi invasion. Before I continue, for the best writen peice on this topic, just read the this link to the Wahshington Post. Now, if you're at all interested on my take on the subject, feel free to read on. My initial idea was to just plagerize this Post article, but I don't think CNN would put me on their fine "news" network for simple plagerism.

First and foremost, you have to realize that this story A) was written in the early 1970's and B) is archatypal. Bush was too stoned in the '70's to have any plans of any kind not related to potatoe chips however he is certainly not above repeating the mistakes of the past. What Lucas is attempting to convey is specifically how a self governed people can freely give up their government to a single individual. The key idea is that the majority of people cannot lose the power to an individual, but the certainly can give it away.

Next, you have to realize that in order to get from point B, which is the start of Episode I (released in 1999), to point A which is the start of Episode IV (released in 1977), there are certain checkpoints that must be crossed. This is the case whether you're examining the rise of the Third Reich, the rise of the Village Idiot, or the rise of Emperor Palpatine. Those checkpoints include (but ate clearly not limited to) a culture of fear, a governing body willing to exert itself outside it's domain in the interest of self preservation and a people willing to vote in the idiot. Obviously, I've only listed the 3 main check points that you common in the 3 examples I provided. There are other things needed that I believe are missing, and first and foremost among them is the lack of a populace willing to die for the cause of the Idiot. We're not willing to pay $2.50 for a tank of gas for him, you think this party is still going to be in office when they announce they're going to have to set up a draft!?!?!?

As an archetype, Star Wars is merely a cautionary tale for any group of people in any point in time in history. Obviously, the Me-centric general populace of the USA aren't going to figure it out forthemselves without seeing it up on the big screen and then have the dots connected for them by a semi-intelligent reviewer. I take issue with the idea that Star Wars is a politically motivated, snit-Bush film. Mainly because Palpatine would never be dumb enough to have a hoard of Lemmings chant his name and then turn around and say he's going to reform their social security. But also becasue I think that trivializes not only the scope of the film but the important checkpoint we find ourselves at in the course of American History.

Now, as Bush's Republican cronies are in the process of reducing the power of the Senate, I would not be against someone pointing to Star Wars and saying, "Hey, this is the next step: some evil dude with Jame Earl Jones's voice running around putting the force strangle hold on people that disagree with him." That's OK because that's how you properly use and archetype. If only we had Yoda.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Look Ma! I'm on CNN!!!

As reported yesterday on the Daily Show (acutlaly it may have been Tuesday because I watched 2 eps on my TiVo yesterday and I can't say for sure which one was which), CNN and MSNBC have added Blog Watch segments to their "news " programming. This is the most ridiculously absurd and disturbing developments in journalism since the right-wing take over of talk radio.

The thought that something I have to say about ANYTHING could possibly reach more than the 3 to 5 people that semi-regularly check my blog goes so far beyond bizzare, I don't even know what to say. I mean really, the whole idea of "news" is to present information to the public. And if you're not getting the correct information, you find a way to get it. That's it. And honestly nothing I have to say, regardless of the topic, is news worthy. NOTHING! Not a single word about my up coming wedding, my opinions on our Village Idiot President or my faunings over Star Wars. None of it equates to news.

And those are my thoughts on MY opinions. So you can imagine my thoughts on the opinions on the average troglodite that has access to the internet. I have a long standing saying, "Everyone's entitled to their own stupid opinion." Interestingly enough, in this current situation, the key phrase is THEIR OWN. I am not entitled to anyone elses stupid opinion. I've listened to enough sports talk shows to know taht the opinion of the common man is about as valuable as my belly button lint (and I have about as much of that as I do opinions).

Bottom line is, there is very little that a blogger is going to be able to come up with that constitutes as anything more than a stupid opinion. The heart of the matter, obviously, is that these "news" channels are about 5% news and 95% Opinions. The average news paper is actually the reverse of that. Obviously, news papers will have certain take on things and emphasize some stories over others, but at least it's not filled non-stop with morons like Hannity on Fox News sitting there and yelling at a cheerleader who was assaulted by an old man booster for girating too much and then filing a law suit against him (that is a true story). To prop these channels up under the guise of "news" is both immoral and dangerous. Fox News should be retitled Fox Right Wing Opinions. CNN could be CPON (Cable Pithy Observations Network). That's far more acurate. Oh, but then I suppose these channels would have to actually strive for accuracy in order to care.

Anyway, the point of this is that I'm going to strive to be featured on CNN. So please tell EVERYONE you know to visit my site. I'm certain the powers that be at CNN just look for the blogspots with high traffic and internet "buzz". If any of you have blogs, if you could all post weekly aside comments on how wonderful my blog is and how insightful into the world of politics I am and then post a link. I figure my opinion is just as stupid as the next guys and therefore, just as worthy to be adopted by the troglodites that have yet to figure out how to log onto the internet on their own.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Information Overload

In the past week, the internet has been inundated with previews, reviews and general information about the new Start Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith. As 7 out of every 10 fo these articles say, "This is the one we've all been waiting for."

Obviously, I'm super duper excited about next Thursday, the official release date. I can't wait to see it. I've been a star Wars geek my whole life and this is basiclaly the culmination of all of that. The official pay off, I suppose.

Most of the reviews have been very very positive. The buzz before the reviews was actually very mixed. It seems the Uber-Geeks got their hand son a copy of the script and let's just say it made for a less-than-promising read. This shouldn't surprise any one really, considering that George Lucas is as bad at writing dialog as he is at directing people. But it had the drones of people that LOATHED the first 2 movies all in a bind. Thankfully, with the more recent buzz being positive, famous geeks all over that have seen the movie are praising it for at least holding a candle to the original trilogy. These are the people that hated the first 2 installments of the new trilogy.

I suppose the Uber-Geek would file me under the column of "Star Wars Apologist". I read one review that said something along the lines of "this is not the ultimate Star Wars movie, but it's very good." The fact that someone is going in looking for or wanting the "ultimate Star Wars movie" indicates that the Uber-Geek had entirely the wrong expectations coming in. And the other folks, the ones that were big fans of the first trilogy, hated the new ones but wouldn't ever utter the phrase "Star Wars apologist" have a right to be disappointed but really should give the first 2 a little more slack. Fact is, those moives were still better than 95% of what is made today. No, they were not better than the Lord of the Rings movies, and I suppose by all rights they should have been. But they really don't totally suck. They have flaws, they don't have the same look or feel but they are still part of the overall story. And my feeling is: until the story's done, cut them a little slack.

Anyway, my excitement for this release started about 2 years ago when my friend Jim and I sat down one afternoon and outlined exactly what we thought would be the story of the 3rd movie. Everyone knows what happens in chapters 1,2,4,5,and 6, so all you have to do is connect the dots and you figure out what must take place in Cahpter 3. One of the things which has been established in the character of Anakin is that he has SERIOUS female abandonment issues. Therefore, you know, since at some point his wife leaves him and he doesn't even know he has twins, she is the driving foce that pushes him over the edge. You see, all the annoying scenes between Anakin and Padme in Episode 2 were needed in order to provide motivating factors for his turn in Episode 3. Lucas did the same thing in Episode 4 with Luke. He was whiney and annoying but there was pay-off. The problem with Episode 2 is that the payoff wasn't immediate so the annoying just seemed annoying rather than meaningful.

So that was then. More recently, I started getting excited when the first Lego set for Sith came out. And trailers started popping up. Jenn will testify that on dozens of evenings I've spent 10-15 minutes bouncing up and down in front of my computer in pure geek ecstacy as I watched a new trailer. And now the marketing push has come along and obviously being pelted with a non-stop barrage of Star Wars has helped send my excitment to stratospheric levels. Much to Jenn's chargin, I've been getting my Star Wars fix by playing my Start Wars Lego computer game every chance I get. Pure joy!

And this year, I'm also getting my fix by reading the reviews. The previous 2 releases, I didn't read anything. For Episode 1 it was because I genuinely didn't know where to find it and for Ep 2 it was because I knew it would all be negative Uber-Geek bitching. But this time, I've read the reviews out of curiosity, because I'm certain that I'm now able to form my own, unadulterated opinion. And in closing, I will explain how my excitement prior to each movie has been different:

Episode 1: I was excited for the pure fact that I was going to get to see a new Star Wars movie. That's it. It could have been as bad as Cool World and I would have been happy. The best viewing of the movie I had was #3 (and I know to this day, Jim will agree with me on that). I think I saw it a few too many times and the flaws became even annoying for me. But after the first viewing, I was fully satisfied.

Episode 2: I was excited because I knew it couldn't be as bad as Episode 1. Not that I thought Ep 1 was bad, but I was able to rationalize that this is a 3 part series where the movies probalby would not be able to stand on their own, so Ep 2 would help in bolster Ep 1. And it was genuinely better. And there was a lot more to look forward to. And many of the mistakes from Ep 1 (though not all) were fixed. And I was fully satisfied.

Episode 3: I'm excited because the Uber-Geeks like it. And if Lucas has pleased the people who have felt betrayed up 'til now, then I KNOW I'm going to be doing a lot fo bouncing.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Sad Day for the Gutter

At the request of Jenn, I am dedicating today's blog to the passing of a website that was very near and dear to our hearts. tshirthell.com, the maker of some of the most disturbing and wrong clothing available in the world today, has ceased to offer it's Worse Than Hell line of shirts. Their standard offering, which includes the shirt I now own, OB/GYN Kanobi, and the one Jenn has, WWJD for a Klondike Bar, is still available as is their line of baby and toddler shirts, including my personal favorite, Hung like a 5 Year Old. However, based on the press release they posted on the site as of Monday, the owner of the site feels that the Worse Than Hell line goes to far.

And frankly, that's why the discontinuation of the line is so disappointing. Those of us that like shirts that say Jesus Did It for the Chicks will no longer have a nice little spot to visit and feel warm and fuzzy. In honesty, the worst part of it is the reasoning and the apology if they had offended any one. Well, DUH!!! Of course your'e going to offend people. But what's the harm in that? Enough of this tip-toeing around like a bunch of pansies. Self imposed censorship is still censorship. I'm not a big fan of the censorship.

Obviously, since it's safe to assume that they guy was making money, someone else willing to rasie the Banner of the Gutter will do so and take Worse than Hell's place. And if that portion of the site was actually a loser and there was no money to be had in it, then say that. There's nothing wrong with being a capitalist. But I suspect the degenerates will have a voice once again in the very near future. I'm just lazy and don't want to have to go looking for it all over again.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Dateline: Washington

I just read my friend Blair's Blog. Many of the folks that read this blog read his, so a few things of note before I continue with mine. The biggest news is that Blair has a new post. His posting habit follow the cycles of the moon. When the moon is either full or new, a couple days later, h'll make a post. I suspect soon, we'll only get posts on days of lunar eclipses. Anyway, today, I would like to use my space to respond to his post. I know that there is a formal process in place in which to open a blog dialog: you post a response to the person's blog. However, in this case, I have more insight than the normal 2-4 sentence response and I didn't really have a topic but I had the time to post. So, I'm usurping Blair's topic for my own.

Quick summary: Blair is currently living in WVA, he's a Chicaggo Cubs fan but he's much closer to DC than Chi town so it's been easy for him to follow the goings on of the Nationals. As a result, he's become a secondary Nationals fan (like me and the Dolphins). Recently, there's buzz that one of the groups vying to buy the Nats is associated with W, our Village Idiot, who intends to buy the team off of them in an effort to position himself as the next Comish of Baseball. Blair states, and rightfully so, that he'd be a much better comish than the current joke.

While I actually do agree that W would be a better Comish then Selig, who is basically a puppet for the owners, I do not agree that he's the right man for the job. And I have reasons beyond the fact that he is currently our National Village Idiot and I hate him and if all were right in the world he'd be behind bars by the end of his current term. For some unknown reason, the man has an air of power about him and people (all of whom are either delusional or rich enough to buy me right now as their Life Time Pool Boy) actually listen to him and take what he says seriously. This is a problem with Selig. How can you take a man seriously when it takes him 7 years to institute a steroid policy (although in all fairness, he's only been trying for 2), then institutes a policy that is akin to giving an 8 y.o. time out for 15 minutes, and THEN tries to turn around 2 months later and institute a brand new policy which actually has some teeth. It's a classic ploy to be able to shift blame to the Players Union. Anyway, the point is the current comish is a joke and it has nothing to do with the fact that he seems to be a joke as a man. It's entirely because he's a former owner.

The commish of a sports league cannot have an agenda that can be easily swayed by one group or the other. He must be completely unbiased. He must be able to rationally establish policy which represents the best thing for the game, and in this case, the game is the owners, the players and the fans. If Village Idiot we made the Commish of MLB, he'd be Village Idiot Comish because his policy would constantly be swayed by the owners much like the current Jok Comish. The only difference would be that he'd have the support of the aforementioned delusional/rich people that happen to be fans of baseball. He would add credibility to the post by name only, not by action.

So, Paul, whould WOULD be a good Commish? Good question. There are a few people that I know about and I'm 100% certain there are dozens of others that I wouldn't know anything about (like anyone knew who Bart Giamatti was before he was the Comish that booted Pete Rose [FYI, he was the last good MLB Comish]). FIrst you have your media types: people who you have an amazing appreciation for the history of the game but don't come across as loathesome towards one group or another (like Mike Lupica against the fans and players or the black guy on PTI against the owners). There would be 3 good candidates from this pool: George Will, Peter Gammons and Bob Costas. Unfortunately, I don't think a media guy would ever let his name be included.

Next you then have to move to the realm of politics. From this group, you need to have someone that could get both side to understand the fiscal problems that face the game and accept tough compramises in order to get it so that Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cincinatti or any other small market team might some day dream of winning a championship again. And no, Rudy Gulianni would not be a good cnadidate. Here, I'm thinking someone along the lines of a Howard Dean (who wouldn't be the least bit interested), McCain, Edwards, or some Midwestern Conservative Governor. Those guys in the Midwest don't take shit from any one. Key thing here though is that if you take a Republican, it would have to be someone that thinks that W has gone insane with the budget deficit thing. They'd have to go on record as saying, "our Village Idiot President is insane."

Lastly, you can look at the realm of entertainment. The problem here is, you can't have an actor, because he's going to side with the players. And you can't have an executive because he's going to side with the owners. You have to have a Director or maybe a Producer. Steven Speilburg would be a good Commish. Maybe Penny Marshall. Lorne Michaels.

Thanks for the topic, Blair! What I was going to talk about was the cool Star Wars Lego computer game I played all weekend. So instaed of interesting maybe 3 people, I would have an audience of one.