Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Saw the Star Wars movie, and I have only one real nitpick (the movie itself is worth the price of admission). What is Lucas' obsession with open heights? Nearly every scene has a precipitous drop close at hand, and there are no frickin' railings! There's one scene where Obi-Wan boards his little space cruiser thing at Padme's pad, and it reminded me of a boat tied up at a dock. Except that if you fall off a dock, you land in water. You fall off Padme's dock, you're falling for a long frigging time. Most of the lightsaber fights are staged at great heights, and I understand that from the point of view of trying to create extra tension, but this universe is the most dangerous one I've ever seen. I can't imagine any unions allowing their members to work in such conditions, and just think of the cost of life insurance!

Friday, May 20, 2005

CSI: Nick Stokes

Last night's CSI was terrific, and not just because Quentin Tarantino was the director. In fact, there was really only a few scenes that had the Tarantino flavour. No, what made the episode special was George Eads, who plays Nick Stokes. His character spent nearly the whole two-hour episode buried in a plexiglass coffin, and the work Eads did to sell this situation was phenomenal. By the time fire ants were squirming all over his body, Eads made you feel every bite. One of Nick's character traits is that he's everybody's buddy, always ready to lend a hand, so by having Nick be the one to get buried alive, the producers got to exploit the irony of isolating the guy who's never alone. If Eads doesn't get an Emmy nomination for this episode, it'll be a crime. And thank God there wasn't much time for Sara Sidle. I can't stand that chick.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Calgary Sun Columnist - Rick Bell: Franken-Stronach

Warning: This blog entry is about Canadian politics, something about which few people give a damn about, especially Canadians.

Belinda Stronach, the pretty young rich girl of Parliament, switched from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Party this week, and while to an American, such an idea (a conservative becoming liberal - WTF???) is inconceivable, in Canada, the differences between the two parties' ideologies are negligible. The Liberals are a little more open-minded, the Conservatives are a little less corrupt. In the past day or two, there has been much hype and sour grapes being tossed at Belinda Stronach's feet for her decision (which will likely keep the minority Liberal government in power for an extra several months), but it seems pretty clear to me what's going on:

She wants to be Prime Minister, and it wasn't gonna happen with the Conservatives.

You see,

a) the Conservatives are as likely to select a female for their next Party leader as I am likely to run the Boston Marathon next year, and
b) the Conservatives are years away from developing and nurturing support in Ontario and the Maritime provinces, so they're not going to win an election anyway.

The Liberals, on the other hand, have a leader who hasn't exactly distinguished himself over the last year or so, and even if Paul Martin manages to lead them to an election victory in the fall, he's on shaky ground (much like John Major in England). The scandal currently rocking the government involves kickbacks to the Liberal Party, and there's a good chance that many high-ranking members are going to be tainted. But lookee here, we've got Belinda, who was never involved with the scandal because she wasn't around at the time; she's pretty, bright, personable, and energetic. For WOT readers, the parallel here is Egwene's ascension to Amyrlin Seat - they chose her because she hadn't been involved in the Tar Valon coup, and they thought her strings could be pulled. I suspect the Liberal Party elite is looking at Belinda in much the same way. Certainly I expect she made her decision based in part on the career possibilities offered to her by the Liberals, so maybe she's thinking this is her best shot at running the country. Even if it doesn't happen right away, she's positioned well in case Liberal fortunes go even further south.

Now I'm not saying she'd be any good, or that this would work out best for Canada. But here's the thing - the leaders we've had over the last couple of decades have sucked pretty bad, so why not try somebody who hasn't spent thirty years being corrupted by the system, why not try somebody who isn't a career politician, why not try somebody who's already plenty rich enough to not need payoffs and bribes, why not try somebody who's not male?

Friday, May 13, 2005

In Defense of Celebrities

Sweet Christ, I may live to regret this.

It is assumed by most people that celebrities, whether they be actors or pop stars or rich guys with bad hair, are all kind of dumb. Or at least, naive and/or so full of themselves that they couldn't possibly have anything of substance to say. The media encourages this belief because it helps to sell papers or boost TV ratings - what's the latest celebrity fuck-up, right after this commercial break. It gives people the false impression that celebrities are more than just fallible, but that we're really better than they are, morally and mentally, and it's just blind luck that they're rich and famous while we're poor and unknown.

Once again, I turn to a comedian for the truth. Chris Rock points out that life is like your class in school - every class has five dumb kids, five smart kids, and the rest are in the middle. That's what this world is, a planet of B and C students, with a few brainiacs and idiots to round things out and make life interesting. Celebrities are no different. I have read my share of gossip columns, biographies, and insider accounts to get a rough idea of how many celebrities are, and I can tell you that Rock's theory pretty much holds true. Sure, the pretty quotient is a lot higher, but otherwise Hollywood is so much like high school that it's scary.

Tom Cruise is the perfectionist jock that everyone wants to hang out with, but he's so obsessed that few people get close to him. Cameron Diaz is the ditzy blonde hottie who loves attention but her tastes are rather indiscriminate. Russell Crowe is the moody genius at the back of the class who is so far ahead of the others that he even intimidates the teachers. Drew Barrymore is Miss Popularity, who knows everybody, wants desperately for everybody to like her, and will do anything for a friend. Tom Hanks is the Student Council President, popular and smart, quick-witted and always ready to work, but at the end of the day you realize you don't really know much about him because he keeps his cards so close to the vest. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are the tree-hugging Power Couple, the ones who are always in the cafeteria trying to get people to sign petitions and organize student rallies, and they soldier on despite their peers' indifferent attitude.

There are a lot of smart celebrities, a lot of dumb ones, and the vast majority are in the middle. Unfortunately, whenever a celebrity dares to have an opinion about a controversial issue, they are often dismissed out of hand, as if their ideas weren't even worth hearing. This is not only unfair, it borders on ridiculous. I see this on the internet all the time:

"What could Tim Robbins or Susan Sarandon possibly know about blah, blah, blah, they're just actors."

Well, first of all, what are the chances they might know as much or more about the issue at hand than you? They have the same access to information as you do; perhaps even more, since they're rich and can afford to take the time to do research and visit places you can't. Sean Penn went to Iraq to see what was going on. No matter what you might think, unless you've been to Iraq yourself, your on-the-ground knowledge of what's happening there isn't going to match what Sean Penn knows. I can't go to Iraq, so Sean's got me there. I don't have a degree in Political Science like Alec Baldwin, so Alec's got me there.

These are smart people who take the time to educate themselves on the issues they want to discuss. The internet is rife with people who have finger-snapping opinions on everything and anything, and I'm no different, except that I have enough humility to acknowledge that I am not the final word on anything, and it is certain that there are many others who know more and are more qualified to speak than me. More and more, we are seeing a new mindset where people are encouraged to believe that what they think is more important than what anyone else thinks. People are congratulated for having opinions, even while the media tries hard to trivialize and marginalize those opinions. You know what? Your opinion doesn't mean shit. Neither does mine, if it makes you feel any better.

A celebrity's opinion, on the other hand, has a chance of mattering, because their voice will reach more ears. This is a frightening thought to all those career pundits out there whose credentials aren't that much more impressive than the celebrities they demonize. Yeah, it hurts when one of the dumber celebrities like Britney Spears comes out and says something stupid. But that doesn't mean we should ignore the smart ones who have something worth hearing. Is it possible that Tim Robbins or Sean Penn or Alec Baldwin or Susan Sarandon might have a more considered and informed opinion than you or me?

I think it's not just possible, it's a virtual certainty.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

One current trend that I find irritating is this marketing concept that middle-aged fat guys can get hot chicks. The best example of this is the television show 'King of Queens', in which middle-aged fat guy Kevin James is married to the yummy Leah Remini. In real life, this doesn't happen unless the guy is either rich or hung like Liam Neeson. James plays a UPS driver, so his character ain't rich, and I haven't heard any references to equipment size on the show, so I doubt he's got much going on. This fantasy needs to end. Fat is the new ugly, at least for men. Now, fat girls can get laid, but that's because women in general control the sexual situation, and since the number of men who want to get laid is greater than the number of like-minded women, demand outstrips supply. Therefore, some guys will take whatever they can get. I see fat chicks with skinny guys all the time. The reverse is almost never true. Now, I'm not complaining per se - personally, I got lucky. But let's be real here - there is more pressure for fat men to lose weight than for fat women because fat men have less options available to them. Which is why when that fat pill finally hits the market, move over Viagra, we've got a new blockbuster drug in town.

Friday, May 06, 2005

t r u t h o u t - Robert S. McNamara | Apocalypse Soon

It is time - well past time, in my view - for the United States to cease its Cold War-style reliance on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. At the risk of appearing simplistic and provocative, I would characterize current US nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous. The risk of an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch is unacceptably high. Far from reducing these risks, the Bush administration has signaled that it is committed to keeping the US nuclear arsenal as a mainstay of its military power - a commitment that is simultaneously eroding the international norms that have limited the spread of nuclear weapons and fissile materials for 50 years. Much of the current US nuclear policy has been in place since before I was secretary of defense, and it has only grown more dangerous and diplomatically destructive in the intervening years.

What is most puzzling is why there is even a debate about this at all. If it seems pretty clear that a few hundred warheads would effectively accomplish as much as a few thousand, then why have a few thousand? What is their purpose? Deterrence? What a joke. I agree with MacNamara completely when he says:

The Bush administration's nuclear program, alongside its refusal to ratify the CTBT, will be viewed, with reason, by many nations as equivalent to a US break from the treaty. It says to the nonnuclear weapons nations, "We, with the strongest conventional military force in the world, require nuclear weapons in perpetuity, but you, facing potentially well-armed opponents, are never to be allowed even one nuclear weapon."

Why would North Korea or Iran or any other nation on this planet give two shits about what America thinks concerning their nuclear weapons programs? Why would any nation trust America's intentions? The whole 'Do as I say, not as I do' thing gets tired by the time you're old enough to leave home, but apparently that's what passes for American foreign policy these days. So when al Qaeda or whoever gets themselves a nice little Nagasaki bomb and drops it into Times Square, who is America going to retaliate against? Deterrence only works against nation-states, and most of the reason why they want nukes is because America has nukes, and look, they just invaded a sovereign nation because... Uh, why was that, again? Yeah, America can be trusted, sure. Just don't be surprised if the rest of us keep a sharp eye on you while we do what we have to do to survive.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Timberlake to Play Role in 'Shrek 3'

Why is this asshole famous? Why do people who should know better encourage this 'wigger'? Christ, I even saw this prick in a Snoop Dogg video. Snoop, Timberlake is the kind of kiss-ass, dumbed-down, black-heritage-raping white boy you should be ass-whupping! Why would you enable this reverse-Michael Jackson routine? As Chris Rock says, "It's all right... if it's all white."