Monday, January 31, 2011

Red (the Movie)

Movie Release Date : 15 October 2010
DVD Release Date : 25 January 2011
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Length : 111 Minutes
Overall Rating : 7*/10
. Bruce Willis is content to be retired from the CIA and hitting up by phone on some girl who sends him his checks, until a hit squad from his former employer arrives to take him out. Naturally, he ices the whole squad (hit squads are incredibly inept. just ask Jason Bourne), but they demolish his house, so it's off and running until he can figure out why they want to kill him and/or someone runs out of ammo. . What's To Like... It's a geezer-studded affair. Willis does a decent job, and Morgan Freeman is in it, which is always a plus. It was cool to see 90-something Ernest Borgnine (McHale's Navy); but it is John Malkovich who frankly steals the show. Geezerette Helen Mirren is also in it, who I was supposed to know, but didn't. In wiki-ing her, it turns out a long time ago, she was Morgana in the awesome King Arthur flick, Excalibur. Whoodathunkit? . There's lot of action, lots of shooting, and plenty of humor. On the downside, the plot makes zero sense, so check your brain at the door before watching this one. . Two BTW's. "Red" stands for "Retired, Extremely Dangerous". And in Bulgaria, the movie is called "Besni Strashni Pensii", which means "Furious Frightful Pensioners". . This was my first movie of 2011, and overall, despite the plot loopholes, it was fun to watch. I mean, do we really care if a Bruce Willis flick makes any sense? Body counts and wit are all that matters. 7 Stars.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cameo Ball - 2011

For the second year in a row, we went to the Cameo Ball. So for the second year in a row, I got to whine about having to dress up in a tux, keep my hair combed, and hang out at the Scottsdale Hilton. At least I managed to avoid having to dance this year. Ah, but it was all for a good cause (Eve's House), and hey... . ...we were the dashingest couple there last night. :-)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Excerpt for the Day

The orc encampment steamed gently in the sunshine.
Barashkukor, leaning scabby elbows on the parapet of the Nin-Edin fort, gazed down from the mountainside at a wilderness only the vultures could love. He tilted his dented helmet back on his head. "So what do you get if you cut the legs off a warrior?"
Marukka gave a baritone chuckle, waving her jagged sword in the air for emphasis. "A low-down bum!"
(from Grunts!, by Mary Gentle)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Worst Rock & Roll Song Ever

Jefferson Starship's "We Built This City" is often cited as the worst Rock & Roll song ever. Otherwise placid music lovers sometimes fly into rages when this song comes on the air. I admit it's not my favorite song by JS. But I can think of far worse songs by far cooler bands from that era. Below are a half-dozen that come to mind. In no particular order. . . 01. The Beatles - Revolution #9
A dozen minutes of the stoned Fab Four playing in the studio with sound effects and being obsessed with "Number Nine". What a waste of vinyl. Dudes, if you only had three sides' worth of material, save the last third for another album.
02. Paul McCartney - Silly Love Songs
Was Karen Carpenter's ghost dialing up Paul's subconscious? Is this what happens when you try to compose a song without psychedelics? Simply terrible.
03. Jimi Hendrix - Star Spangled Banner
Yeah, it was a great symbolic protest. But musically, it was insufferable. Six notes of the anthem, followed by noise that only a thrash-metal head would tolerate. At least he didn't repeat the words "Number Nine" umpteen times.
04. The Doors - Touch Me
The Doors sell out to a corporate edict to cut a track that the radio stations would play. Thank god this cop-out only lasted one album. Any song that ends with the phrase "stronger than dirt" is wretched beyond all belief..
05. Rolling Stones - Angie
Mick, what happened? A few years earlier, you were singing about a girl that was "Under My Thumb". But by "Angie" you were reduced to a simpering wimp. Who was squeezing your cajones while you wrote this tripe?
06. Pink Floyd - Have A Cigar
I admit - this is a good song. But it makes the list for its utter hypocrisy. Wish You Were Here was one of the first LP's that saw a $2-$3 price jump by the record companies. And all us financially-strapped Floyd-fanatics had no choice but to acquiesce, since yooze guys rock! But did you have to rub our noses in it?
Okay, there you go. 6 songs that are far worse than We Built This City. Feel free to dispute these, or suggest your own; but keep it civil. I deliberately avoided uncool groups. Let's face it, all of Michael Bolton's songs are worse than any of these. These are all groups I happen to like a lot. But even the great ones can occasionally put out a stinker.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Inspirational Quote for the Day

"Facts are for people who can't create their own truth."
. (from today's "Get Fuzzy" comic)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Oh yeah! I done figured out how to set up iTunes and download music tracks from there tonight. Which means I can finally use the gift cards I got at Xmas. I even figured out how to convert their aggravating mp4a files into mp3 ones. Suck eggs, Apple!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ni hao!

Wow! Steve Benson's calligraphy is much better than mine, unless he cut-&-pasted this. Which, given his artistic talent, I kinda doubt. Anyway, having studied Mandarin Chinese for two years a while back, I always enjoy posting something that has Chinese script in it. . FWIW, that really does say "China", and in Mandarin it's pronounced "Zhong Guo" (high tone, rising tone). And it's one of the few glyphs that I can still recognize.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Excerpt for the Day

He closed his eyes, still smiling. "Pick an apocalypse, any apocalypse. A sea of black oil and dead things. No wind. No light. Nothing stirring, not even an ant, a spider. A silent universe. Such is the end of the flicker of time, the brief, hot fuse of events and ideas set off, accidentally, and snuffed out, accidentally, by man. Not a real ending of course, not even a beginning. Mere ripple in Time's stream.
I squinted. "That really could happen?"
"It has happened," he said - and smiled as if it pleased him - "in the future. I am the witness."
(from Grendel, by John Gardner)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

RIP - Honeybee

Honeybee (aka : "the Princess")
b. : ca. 2000
d. : 20 January 2011
. Oh my beloved Honeybee. You will be missed more than you could ever know. I'm in no shape emotionally to write your eulogy for now; that will have to wait for a while. But I will write it. And we know that all dogs go to Heaven, which makes the emptiness without you a bit more bearable.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Movies we'd like to see...

Sorry to hear you're sitting home, Brett, while the Green Bay Packers are one game away from the Super Bowl. Just think, though. If we could weave you into the Inception movie, you'd be able to turn the ball over on four whole different planes of reality!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quote for the Day

"We've allowed the extremists to carry the day when it comes to guns in the United States, and it's the dead and the wounded and their families who have had to pay the awful price. The idea of having large numbers of college students packing heat in their classrooms and at their parties and sporting events, or at the local pub or frat house or gymnasium, or whatever, is too stupid for words." (Bob Herbert, via the Daily Kos)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Whatever happened to...

...the Hare Krishnas? I know they got booted out of the airports, but jeez, they used to show up in more places than that. . We had them at ASU when I was a student there. One of my fond memories is the main Hare Krishna dude and the biggest Campus Crusade freak going at it on the mall. Both screaming at the top of their lungs; both red in the face. For us spectators, it was a great show, well worth skipping class for. . They used to have a temple at the western tail end of Tempe. Actually, it was just a rundown house they bought and used. One night, when our group was very bored and very wasted, we went down there for a visit. We chanted with them and hopped around. We partook of their evening meal - various fresh fruits in a sweet paste. They called it "pashad" (sp?). They kept repeating : "Have some of our very nice pashad!" They were very happy to have visitors. . We stayed for their nightly Bhavagad Gita study, and had to stifle our giggles because one of the devotees kept falling asleep during the teaching. That was hard to miss because he was sitting in the lotus position. Which means as you fall asleep, your head inevitably dips towards your navel. The head honcho had to keep giving him quick, sharp raps to his knees. . So I miss those saffron-robed, pony-tailed freaks. They were good, cheap entertainment. I imagine they're still around somewhere here in Phoenix. I just don't know where.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Martin Luther King Day!!

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom." (Martin Luther King) .

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Book Excerpt for the Day

When Glamour was sixteen, working in Hollywood as a location extra for his uncle's Gaelic Little People, Ltd., a friend had slipped him a tab of sunshine at Coyote Farms' backlot. The world had taken on its proper dimensionality: they spent the afternoon climbing a tree, admiring the action of the bark and light and time. Now the third and fourth dimensions were there again, without the tree.
(from Voyage to the Red Planet, by Terry Bisson)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yo Mama Jokes (by Physicists)

Physicists are to the Scientific World what poodles are to the Dog World. Cute in a dim-wittedly sort of way, and embarrassingly dull. . Full Disclosure : I did crappy in my physics classes, and found the subject to be more boring than even straight math. "Physics with Calculus" is the worst of both worlds.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Motivational Poster

No further comment necessary.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ya think?

Nah. Teabagger posters like this couldn't possibly suggest to nut jobs like Jared Loughner to go out and blow a bunch of Democrats away. It's all in good fun, and dittoheads of course understand that, cuz they're such genteel, cerebral types. . Idjits.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Arizona Quote for the Day

"The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in. It's not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. That's the sad thing about what's going on in America : pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office." (Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik) . As contrasted to Failin' Palin's screed, below... .
Thanks, Sarah. Gabby sends her regards. You dickbrain.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

RIF Quote for the day

"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." (Joseph Brodsky)

Friday, January 07, 2011


It is prudent to stay au courant with the latest acronyms.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The "N" word

I admit it. The "N word" strongly offends me. It grates upon my nerves every time I read it. Like fingernails on a blackboard. And I'm white. So I for one applaud NewSouth Books' announcement that they are going to publish a new issue of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn with the N-word (which is used 219 times therein) deleted. . Let's be clear. As this CNN article (here) points out - this is not about censorship. It is going to be obvious from the get-go what the missing word was. This is about a fine piece of American literature that at present is ruined by a word that may have been okay to use when Clemens wrote it, but is not acceptable today. . Nor is this about Freedom of Speech. You cannot yell "Fire" in a theater, and you cannot make a high schooler read/say this word, 219 times, by making Huckleberry Finn a required reading book. . Now I know the dittoheads are going to rail that black rappers use the word all the time. They do. Blacks can use the word; whites can't. Deal with it. Similarly, I can use the word Honky all the time to refer to myself or among my white colleagues, but if a black calls me that, I will get offended, and I will let him know that. . And I have no problem when Homophobes substitute the word homosexual for gay in their literature. It is apparent that the G-word offends them, so they have a right to interpose. I just find it amusing when Rudy Gay, star basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies, ends up being identified as Rudy Homosexual. Ditto for the companies that edit all the cusswords out of various movies and re-issue sanitized versions thereof. That ain't for me, but if it unruffles your feathers, more power to ya. . Finally, I recognize that it may initiate some unintended backlash by various Luddites. The Texas Board of Education may now feel it is okay to do some substituting of their own in textbooks. They'll probably replace slavery with "benevolent caretaking", "The Civil War" with the second and sadly unsuccessful War of Independence, and William Tecumseh Sherman with "the 18th Century Anti-Christ". An hey, I'm even cool with that last one. . So Right On, NewSouth Books!! This has been long overdue, and I have a bunch of other books (including Steinbeck's fantastic The Grapes of Wrath) which need the same treatment.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

RIP - Anne Francis

Anne Francis (aka "Honey West")
b. : 16 September 1930
d. : 02 January 2011
. Honey West was a "Man from U.N.C.L.E. wannabe" TV series, starring Anne Francis in the title role. It only lasted one season - 1965-66, because it was up against the fabuously popular "Gomer Pyle" series. Sheesh. What schlock we used to watch back then. . I liked the show - partly because it was very similar to another series, "Burke's Law", which starred Gene Barry. Indeed, the Honey West character debuted as a guest star on BL. . But let's face it, I was 15 years old at the time, and the Honey West character was one sexy lady. Plus she could kick a$$ and had a pet ocelot. How kewl is that?! . Rest In Peace, Anne Francis. 007 didn't hold a candle next to you.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Book Excerpt for the Day

Mr Motley stood and pushed the screen to the floor.
Lin got half to her feet, her headlegs bristling with astonishment and terror. She gazed at him.
Scraps of skin and fur and feathers swung as he moved; tiny limbs clutched; eyes rolled from obscure niches; antlers and protrusions of bone jutted precariously; feelers twitched and mouths glistened. Many-coloured skeins of skin collided. A cloven hoof thumped gently against the wood floor. Tides of flesh washed against each other in violent currents. Muscles tethered by alien tendons to alien bones worked together in uneasy truce, in slow, tense motion. Scales gleamed. Fins quivered. Wings fluttered brokenly. Insect claws folded and unfolded.
Lin backed away, stumbling, feeling her terrified way away from his slow advance. Her chitinous headbody was twitching neurotically. She shook.
Mr. Motley paced towards her like a hunter.
"So," he said, from one of the grinning mouths. "Which do you think is my best side?"
(from Perdido Street Station, by China MiƩville)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

I'll read Jane Austen when...

Actually, I'm reading a 1,000-page book right now (Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace), and just got done with a 700-page one (Perdido Street Station, by China MiƩville).