Monday, December 20, 2004


Things are starting to look up. Thanks to UC changing pay days, we're dead broke (after Christmas it looks like we'll get a windfall).

My daughter needed two dentist visits in the last four days which helped bleed us dry but otherwise it's been washing and feeding. I'll try to post again if they ever go to sleep.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Getting Over Crisis A

My last exam is over and it doesn't look so certain that I'll get a divorce (I was looking for apartments last week).

It does look like I'll have a new kid to take care of (not through basic biology). I'll post again when I get facts straight myself.
Smashing Goldfish

Cecil Adam's explains why fish don't crash into the sides of their tanks despite the lack of binocular vision.

I'm not sure if my goldfish lacks this sense or just enjoys pain. He slams into the sides and lid of his aquarium on a daily basis. I have a large skull in the bottom of the tank and within a day or two after I clean the tank, he has it knocked over.

I never intended to have a goldfish but my step-daughter brought home a bucketful of tadpoles a few years ago. As they metamorphed into frogs, I noticed a tiny fish swimming with them. My wife, a biology major, informed me that it couldn't be a goldfish even though the water came from a pond full of koi. Within a few weeks, it grew into an obvious goldfish and ate the remaining tadpoles. He's lasted for several years, much longer than the fish I bought or won in festival contests.

According to the lists of facts that people feel compelled to e-mail around (which usually include blatant lies like "duck's quacks don't echo and no one knows why"), goldfish can only remember things for three seconds. This fish remembers that when his light is turned on that it's feeding time and surfaces for his breakfast. He's either very smart, a mutant, or you can't believe the goofy crap that people e-mail you.
Moral Centers of Oedipus, Othello, and Death of a Salesman

I gave my Intro. to Lit. students a choice of a take-home test and included a moral center question. There's no consensus to Death of a Salesman, but Tirerias and Cassio are the two main choices for the other plays.

Cassio seems too much of an obvious choice (and Iago does play him for a sap) but Tirerias works for me.

If you're not familiar with Greek mythology, Tirerias is regarded as one of the greatest (or the absolute greatest) seers ever to have lived. When Odysseus needs psychic help, he heads into Hades to specifically ask his advice.

What neither Sophocles or Homer mention is the source of his powers. It seems that when he was a young man, he took a stroll through the woods. On the way, he saw two snakes having sex. For some reason (perhaps he was an early incarnation of Phil Burress), this offended him and he struck the female snake dead.

The spirits of the woods were angered and for this destruction of female sexuality, they transformed Tirerias into a woman. A bit put off at first, he/she returned to society, married, and gave birth to several children.

She still enjoyed woodland hikes and in her later years took another walk through the woods. Again she saw two snakes having sex and, not learning a damn thing, she struck the male snake dead in disgust. The spirits changed her back into a man but with the breasts of an older woman.

What his/her husband and kids thought of this was never recorded but Zeus and Hera took an interest in him/her. Zeus had argued that women enjoyed sex more than men. Hera arguing just the opposite, obviously never having experienced or witnessed a woman's orgasm herself.

Since Tirerias had experience with both sorts, he was brought in as a judge. His answer, "For every pleasure a man feels, a woman has nine-fold," infuriated Hera and she blinded him. Zeus, happy to be proven right but slightly guilty over causing Tirerias's misfortune, gave him the power of foresight with the power of prophecy even greater than that granted by Apollo.

I mention this in class to various reactions but it's funny that even in a Red State, a pagan transexual can be thought of as moral.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


I've been meaning to create a link to this (and a million other things) for a long while.

If you plan on submitting your poetry to a contest, check here first.
Michael Crichton Attacks Global Warming

Crichton's new book, State of Fear, features environmentalists who control the weather in an attempt to kill millions of people. Why? To make the public believe that global warming is real, although Crichton knows it is not.

Crichton also includes "facts" about cannibals (if you read Congo, you know that he has a thing for man-beef). I have to wonder if anyone read his claims and thought, "Why aren't there any white cannibals?"

I'm not going to buy this book, not because of its message, but because years ago while reading Lost World, I realized, "This guy is a terrible writer." I'm sure that his book is no more moronic than The Day After Tomorrow but sadly many readers are under the impression that Crichton knows what he's talking about.
Argument on 275

A while back, a former student of mine (and Wes) was killed in a car accident.

It looks like another of my students (same name and area) was involved in a nonfatal but very strange accident.

It's depressing enough when they make you feel old. Reading bad news about an old student is even worse.
Concert Shooting

I've found some quotes about the murder of Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott. (Reuters for whatever reason saw fit to include them under the "Oddly Enough" section.)

"Dimebag was a dear friend of mine. I'm absolutely beside myself with grief. I can't for the life of me understand why someone would do this. Pantera toured with me many many times. I'll always remember the signed guitar that he gave me at my 50th birthday party." Ozzy Osbourne.

"It's a sad day when being such a good guitar player can get you killed. Metal will never be the same." Dan Jacobs of Atreyu.

"As a guitar player he was a true innovator. His sound tone and style shaped modern metal and his riffs are constantly referenced by nearly every band in metal including my own. Only recently did I have the pleasure of hanging out with him on a personal level and he was as genuine and down to earth as anyone you would ever meet." Mark Morton of Lamb of God.

Some violent crimes are shocking but you can understand them on some level. When Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon 24 years ago, it was a sick crime but Chapman's twisted worldview at least gave some reason why he did it. Even with other crimes in which the killers died--Columbine, Heaven's Gate, Charles Whitman, even the September 11 terrorists--you got some impression why they did it.

A few years back, in Dan Quayle's hometown, a nut castrated several men and kept their testicles in pickle jars in his apartment. No one's really explained that one either.

I'm not condoning "understandable" violence but on some level it's less disturbing.
Nude Students

I can see this happening at NKU. Especially in the winter.

Of course, there's a down-side.
Fraternity Tortures/Kills Possums

"It was just like an Iraqi prison," surviving opossum tells the press.
Best Friend the Church Ever Had

The Vatican is going after Satan. And this time, it's personal.
Against His Will?

Yes, doctors can be evil, idiotic, and/or arrogant. But I wonder about this case. Just what was left out of this article?

As a bonus, it might make GOP lawmakers pause in their attempts to cap malpractice payouts.
Sleep Rape

I'm praying this is a sick joke. At the very least, it happened in Norway.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Evils of Reefer

"Because of my age, I can't party with the big guys anyway. I haven't seriously smoked pot in years." Tommy Chong, 66, who is taking a role in the off-Broadway show "The Marijuana-Logues" after serving nine months in prison for selling a bong, in the New York Post.

Can anyone argue hat marijuana is the worst threat to American freedom since King George? It only took fifty years of smoking to slow down Tommy Chong. According to Rodney Dangerfield's biography, he began smoking pot at age 21 which almost immediately killed him sixty-one years later.
Very Good Year

The production of alcohol is recognized by many cultures as what separates us from the animals (consumption is not enough--many species recognize and seek out fermented fruit). Most pantheons of gods--Greek, Celtic, Aztec, to name a few--have at least one party god of booze. In the epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu the wild man is brought into human society by alcohol (and a prostitute). Christ's first miracle was a biblical beer run.

It looks like we've been at it for longer than we've thought.
I'm Crushed

Bugs Bunny lied to me?

Sometimes I hear things that challenge my established beliefs and I want to reject them. Other times I think, "Well, duh."

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Alien Porn

Proposal to communicate with extraterrestrials. Might not go over well on the planet of the CCV.
We Forgot

I'm not surprised at all that the British have forgotten that unpleasantness a few decades back.

If I mention Dr. Mengele in class, students have no idea what I'm talking about. I try to explain and they say, "Cool, what movie was he in?"
Bush Arrested

Sometimes I think satire should be labeled so that the humor-deficient won't mistake it for reality (e.g. idiots pointing to Onion articles as proof that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft). Snopes is reporting that this (and a more convincing fake CNN page)"fooled more than a few unsuspecting web surfers"

Friday, December 03, 2004

Bunch of Book Reviews

I'm leaving for my final class at Clermont College in a couple of minutes but I've added several book reviews.

Anybody read something that they'd recommend?
Carolyn Wyman's Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed the Way We Eat.

I'm not sure why I checked this out but this book gives the skinny on 46 types of processed food/drink/semi-digestibles including Twinkies, Pringles, Kool-Aid, Cheez Whiz, Clamato, and Tang.

Apparently Pringles gets its name from a street in Finneytown.

Clamato is 99.9% clam-free.

Ataullah Durani, the inventor of Minute Rice, was a member of the Afghan royal family and became a star in Hollywood. He gave up the royal and acting life to experiment on rice.

Jim Jones did not use Kool Aid for the Jonestown Massacre. Apparently he was too cheap to spring for the real stuff and gave his followers grape Flavor Aid (at least according to Kool Aid execs).

Lawyers stopped Screw Magazine from publishing photos of Pillsbury's Poppin' Fresh Doughboy enjoying "lovin' from the oven" (after David Souter's 1994 Supreme Court decision protecting parody, you could get away with it today).

Lipton Cup-a-Soup was used in the first fatal case of food tampering with a packet of chicken noodle soup laced with cyanide in 1986 (I'm not sure how they figured this—obviously food has been poisoned in the past but this must have been the first known case when someone did it in a store to a random stranger).

According to Michael J. Weiss's Latitudes and Attitudes, consumption of Twinkies is linked to diets of bacon, malt liquor, and bacon (as well as the consumer enjoying professional wrestling, country music, and chewing tobacco).

Discontinued Jell-O flavors include celery, mixed vegetables,, coffee, cola, bubble gum, cinnamon, and Italian salad.

General Foods created Pop-Tarts while working on a moist non-spoiling dog food.

Hawaiian Punch had such a small advertising budget that when it premiered they only had enough money for one television commercial during the Tonight Show. Jack Paar was so amazed by Punchy's antics that he ran the commercial repeatedly for free, boosting sales through the roof.

It's heavily illustrated--See the evolution of the Kool Aid packet over the years, starting with an old newspaper style 1930s version offering "10 Glasses . . . [of] Sherbet" to the obnoxious Kool Aid Man of today. See junk food ads from the 1920s. See a photo of the original Beer Nuts factory. See George and Gracie hawking Spam.

If you have any taste at all, avoid this book. I couldn't put it down.
Rodney Dangerfield's It's Not Easy Being Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs

I'm not an authority on celebrity biographies but this was well worth the time. A few weeks back, I had to quit reading a book about Stan Lee and the business operations of Marvel Comics because it destroyed everything I'd imagined about Marvel and Lee. (A hardcore atheist might tell me to face the ugly truth but Stan Lee's facade gave my otherwise sad life a shot of comfort. And besides you never hear about acts of terrorism based on the belief of superheroes.)

Dangerfield's life was miserable at points but he could make child abuse and invasive heart surgery sound funny. Dangerfield (or technically Jack Roy) retired from show business and had to work in alinimum siding sales for 12 years. Against the odds, he made a comeback and along the way helped many other comedians get their breaks.

I met someone from a Film Commission who claimed that Rodney was a pain to work with. I don't know if that's true and I don't want to find out. Until fanatics start bombing schoolbuses in the name of Rodney, I'm happy to take him at face value.

More material at
Alex MacCormick, ed. The Mammoth Book of Maneaters. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003.

Entertaining and disgusting books which claims:

Hunter S. Thompson was bitten in the crotch by an alligator in October of 1997, during a tour of The Proud Highway: The Fear and Loathing Letters.

In Papua New Guinea two fishermen bled to death after a fish described similar to a piranha bit off their penises in June 2001. Supposedly, the fish follows the scent of urine

Monday August 17, 1888, a woman named Kate Duane, living in Glasgow left her baby in the cradle and returned to find a pig eating its face.

Hampshire, Englang: 18-year old Jordan Lazelle was hospitalized after kissing his pet Black Emperor scorpion named Twiggy. Said Lazelle, "I've kissed Twiggy goodnight hundreds of times without any problem. Obviously he just wasn't in the mood." To no one's surprise, police report that alcohol was involved.

And finally, a religious ruling that we can all agree with: Father Thomas Gonzales, a priest in Santiago, commented on a plane crash in which the survivors resorted to eating the dead, "In the case on board the Uruguayan aircraft, the most useful thing for these human bodies was to nourish the survivors. The dead, therefore, accomplished their mission, and there is no theological opposition in this case."
R. Gary Patterson's Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses

Not a bad book but Patterson uses "ironically" in place of "coincedentally" every chance he gets. Did you know [spooky voice]
that Robert Johnson died August 16, 1938, the same date as Babe Ruth and Elvis? (Patterson links dates in the life of Johnson to everyone involved with rock.) Did you know that Aleister Crowley is linked to everyone who ever picked up a guitar? That the Illuminati were founded by Adam Weishaupt in Bavaria on May 1, 1776 which links them to everything from the American Revolution to the death of Tupac.

Some other facts:

There's a lot of material on Anton LaVey who it turns out died October 29, 1997 but his followers [L. Ron-eque] tried to withhold the news until October be more devilish. Reading excerpts of LaVey's writing made me remember writer/professor Austin Wright's comment on narrative styles: "Exclamation points are for wimps." LaVey couldn't write a check without sticking a few dozen exclamation points on it.

Bob Dornan introduced House Bill 6363 which wanted to label suspect albums with "Warning: This record contains backward masking that makes a verbal statement which is audible when this record is played backward and which may be perceptible at a subliminal level when the record is played forward." Among the other silliness, wouldn't that be "subaural," not "subliminal"?

Testifying on behalf of the bill was a woman identified only as "Elaine" who said "I was, for 17 years, a servant of Satan. . . I attended special ceremonies at varying recording studios throughout the U.S. for the specific purpose of placing Satanic blessings on the rock music recorded. We did incantations which placed demons on every record and tape of rock music that was sold. At times we also called up special demons who spoke on the recording—the various back masked messages." Does this mean that there are still demons on some of my old records that I haven't played for years? Do demons have a shelf life?

Mark David Chapman led church youth-groups in a parody of John Lennon's Imagine which began "Imagine there's no John Lennon."

Young Deaths of Musicians (and some other famous people I could think of):

Ritchie Valens 17

Joan of Arc 19

Buddy Holly 22

John Keats 25
Tupac Shakur 25

Robert Johnson 27
Brian Jones (found of the Rolling Stones) 27
Jimi Hendrix 27
Janis Joplin 27
Jim Morrison 27
Kurt Cobain 27

J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson 28

Percy Shelley 29

Alexander the Great 33
Jesus 33 (traditional)
John Belushi 33
Chris Farley 33

Lord Byron 36

I'm sure there's many more but I'm not sure what to google this under.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Dogs and Cats Living in Sin

I worked in legal editing for eight years and, while many municipalities over-regulate zoning laws, in general they're a good and necessary thing (if you disagree, try sinking your life-savings into a house then have a neighbor start a pig farm).

Here's a case where local officials just couldn't stop playing God.
Lion-Killing Mule

I haven't linked to Snopes for a while but here's a new picture of what appears to be a mule killing a mountain lion.

Example of the importance of hyphens: "Lion killing mule" means "a lion is killing a mule." "Lion-killing mule" means "a mule is killing a lion."
Believing in Santa

Via Museum of Hoaxes, British study finds that belief in Santa is linked to good behavior. Experience bears this out.
Let Me Try This Again

Was I back in business a few days ago? Apparently not. I'm all but finished with Clermont College for the quarter so I'll get something of a break. (Thanksgiving was my first scheduled day off since September 22.)

Yesterday I took the kids to the library. I have to carry Devilboy or he engages in his favorite hobby of knocking things off shelves. As I was holding him, he suddenly reached out and jammed his fingers in my eye socket. It didn't go deep but he pushed down so his fingernails got stuck in the tissue below my right eye. I had to yank them out. As the bottom of my eye started to swell over, I realized that he'd either knocked out my contact or torn my cornea.

I felt around my eye and the contact wasn't anywhere. Still holding him, I started sweeping across the floor in the area I was standing. An old man wearing biker shorts was close by but thankfully he moved.

After several sweeps, I was ready to give up. I'm legally blind in the right eye and I have to special order my contacts so this would have cost a bundle before Christmas. Then I thought to check the shelves.

It was sitting on one of the lower shelves between two books. If it had been a few inches farther back, I never would have found it. By this point it was bone dry and I had to use spit to work it back in.

I needed both hands to put it back so I set down Devilboy for a second. By the time I was finished, he was out of sight. I ran around until I found him trying to climb the video shelves. He was laughing.

His sister was looking for books the whole time. I guess one out of two isn't bad.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Suing to Keep Away Men

I'll admit right off the bat that I don't understand the mindset of someone who would care about going to a single-sex college. It doesn't seem that these places are bastions of feminism and they don't look like finishing schools. Is it the image (my sister once said that all-women colleges were "preppier")?

I suppose it's no goofier than a male-only priesthood but shouldn't an institute of higher learning at least make a token show at reason and logic?
Truth Detector in the Works

If this is true, portions of the brain respond differently while telling the truth and lying. Wouldn't this be fun during political debates?
No More Class

Only four students showed up for the last class of English 102 tonight. I cut things very short (the ones that did come really didn't need much help). If I were a better person, I'd be angry. I haven't stopped caring but it doesn't get to me anymore.
Back in Business

I had my first three scheduled days off since September 25 on Thanksgiving and the following weekend. Of course the kids were home the whole time which made me want to go back to work.

I'm having major trouble posting at home after Devilboy yanked my modem out of the wall. I can still hook up but the slightest touch breaks the connection and they never just touch slightly. (Why don't I get a better computer? Because they broke two of them already and I'm waiting until they're controllable before getting another one.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dolphins Deny Food to Shark

How the Great White tells it.
Yahoo Space Quiz

I can't believe I missed one.

Companion page: The Greatest Myths, Hoaxes & Mysteries in Astronomy and Space Science
Cat Hell

The documentary Home Movie featured a couple who converted their entire house to a kitty condo for their 11 cats, with brightly colored mice decorating the walls and cat runs on every wall. Alex Boese made me think of two sets of relatives who owned nine cats. One of them kept hygiene in check. The other didn't.

The bad relatives were 20-something ex-college students who decided not to work but to wait for their parents to die and inherit (I wish I were making this up). Along the way they began to collect animals, not because they actually cared about animals but because they thought it would be cool, like someone who would steal a tombstone just to say they owned one.

Soon their cats began dropping kittens. They never cleaned the litterbox so the cats defecated all over the house. They particularly liked shoes and closets so getting dressed must have been like camping in Africa. My wife's cat makes so much noise when he's hungry that I can't imagine anyone not feeding one cat let alone 11, but they frequently let them go without food. The mother cat eventually turned cannibalistic and would wait behind furniture or random piles of crap for a kitten to walk by. When one was unlucky enough to do so, she leapt out, killed and ate it.

Although they couldn't properly keep a cat, the brain trust decided to get a puppy. The mother cat attacked it but it was too big to kill although the morons thought it was funny to watch. They'd push the puppy to where the cat was waiting to see the fight. The kittens associated anything large and hairy with instant death so they scratched up the puppy when they came into contact with it.

When the joke got old, they kept the puppy in their basement, usually for days on end. They couldn't be bothered to housebreak him so they just let the feces pile up--they'd grown used to the smell of cat. Other times they let him outside in their unfenced yard, expecting him not to roam.

At one point, when one of them went on vacation (the one who at least made a token effort to care for the animals), she asked me to watch the puppy. I wound up keeping him and although I haven't provided the perfect home, it's better than where he was.

The mother cat was never spayed and continued to mate with outside cats whenever it found a broken window. Finally it died during birth. Some of the surviving kittens were old enough to turn cannibals themselves but the lease on the house ran out and the group split up. They took some of the kittens but left behind the rest.

One of the main idiots now has three children and plans on at least two more. He has very little to do with raising them which is probably a good thing.

The King of the Idiots got involved in several illegal activities before literally losing his head in an accident. The police had the other idiot identify him before they brought in his torso.

Sometimes there does seem to be a God.
Brits vs. PETA

Every time liberals mention that they're not hard-core extremists and list their moderate or conservative views, animal rights seems to come up. John Kerry hunted. AIDS activists campaign to use more chimps to discover a HIV vaccine. Bill Clinton loves Big Macs.

I am willing to pay higher taxes to protect national parks and endangered species and would like to see stiffer penalties for animal cruelty. However, I think groups like PETA are insane. So does England.

When I was 14, I heard a mouse behind a window curtain in our basement. I went to catch it only to have it turn out to be a full-sized rat. It spun around when it saw me and jumped at my face. I never moved so fast and the rat ran off into a crawl space. I suppose it's not fair to base my attitudes on one rodent but it did affect me. I can't help but notice that PETA type organizations are the only "liberal" groups more upper-class and white than an audience for Rush Limbaugh.
Magneto is Dead

Via the Museum of Hoaxes, the story of a seven-year old who could generate "a strong magnetic field."

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Library List

In case you're wondering:

Kid Videos
Scooby Doo and the reluctant werewolf [videorecording] (No mention of Scrappy on cover. This should be a crime.
Rugrats. Halloween [videorecording
Blue's clues. Telling time with Blue [videorecording]
Olive, the other reindeer [videorecording]
Bob the Builder. Bob's favorite adventures [videorecording]
Pokémon Johto League champions. [videorecording]
Barney & friends. Outdoor fun! [videorecording ] At least there’s no Scrappy.
Clifford the big red dog. Clifford saves the day! [videorecording]
Happy Pooh day [videorecording]

Kid Books
Little cloud Carle, Eric.
Maisy's fire engine Cousins, Lucy
Maisy drives Cousins, Lucy.
Maisy drives the bus Cousins, Lucy. (Totally different from Maisy Drives. In this one, she drives a BUS!)
Maisy goes camping Cousins, Lucy.
Count with Maisy Cousins, Lucy.
Three girls and a monster Dower, Laura
Mommy hugs Gutman, Anne.
Where's Spot? Hill, Eric.
I'll take a dozen Shulman, Mark,
Caleb & Kate Steig, William,
Dinosaur roar! Stickland, Paul

Illustrated dictionary of mythology : heroes, heroines, gods, and goddesses from around the world Wilkinson, Philip (for 11-year old)

My Video
Fast, cheap & out of control [videorecording] See documentary post.

My Books
The Faber book of ballads
A dictionary of Irish mythology Ellis, Peter Berresford.
Utamakura, allusion, and intertextuality in traditional Japanese poetry Kamens, Edward,
The mythology of native North America Leeming, David Adams,
The complete book of magical names McFarland, Phoenix. (Complete but pretty damn goofy.)
Take a walk on the dark side : rock and roll myths, legends, and curses Patterson, R. Gary. (I'll post on this. Fairly strange angle on rock.)
Stan Lee and the rise and fall of the American comic book Raphael, Jordan (I probably won't finish this. It's too depressing to read Stan-bashing.)
World mythology : an anthology of the great myths and epics Rosenberg, Donna.
Lost goddesses of early Greece : a collection of pre-Hellenic myths Spretnak, Charlene
The encyclopedia of guilty pleasures : 1001 things you hate to love Stall, Sam. (Soon to be a post.)
The forms of poetry; a pocket dictionary of verse Untermeyer, Louis,.
Better than homemade : amazing foods that changed the way we eat Wyman, Carolyn. (Post already written. Sitting in home computer. . . if files really sit.)

Sound Recordings
Goodnight Blue [sound recording] (No Scrappy, thank God.)
From a Buick 8 [sound recording] King, Stephen
My mother's hymn book [sound recording] Cash, Johnny.
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash Dead

One bad idea down. I'm not sure if this is any better.

Evil Dead without Bruce Campbell just isn't Evil Dead but I won't lose any sleep over it. Check out the comments at the bottom. Suddenly I feel like much less a loser.

I came up with a number of documentaries for class. If I saw more movies, I'd have a better selection but as a start:

Home Movie - directed by Chris Smith. Features five unusual homeowners, one who lives in a missile silo, one in a treehouse, one in a houseboat, two with 11 cats in a giant "Kitty Condo," and one in a fully automated house that he can control by remote.

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control - directed by Errol Morris. [Insert ex-girlfriend joke.] A look at life itself (which the title refers to), featuring an animal trainer, a topiary sculptor, a robot designer, and a scientist who studies naked mole rats.

Pumping Iron - George Butler and Robert Fiore. A look at weightlifting, featuring, among others, a pot-smoking future governor.

Spellbound - Jeff Blitz. Children competing in the National Spelling Bee. Nine-year olds spell words that I wouldn't even attempt with a spell-checker.

Gimme Shelter - David and Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin. The Alamont Rock Festival of 1969, complete with on-screen murder.

Triumph of the Will - Leni Riefenstahl. Should wake up even the most apathetic student.

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills - Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. If Triumph of the Will doesn't cut it.

The Lumiere Brothers. 85 short documentaries of Louis and August Lumiere from 1895 to 1897.
Law Suit Over Distorting History

The whole idea brings up so many bad jokes but how could bringing this to court make sense in any context?

How many movies based on history are even remotely accurate? I haven't seen The Passion of the Christ but it can't be more distorted than the history of Mel's other movies like Braveheart and The Patriot (even Gallipoli has its mistakes).

On a worst case scenario, wouldn't this open the doors for a Holocaust-denier to sue Stephen Spielberg?
That'll Learn Em

Never, never steal from this guy.
Cincinnati Superheroes

Via Pharyngula, a look at how superheroes would adapt to St. Paul.
I've thought of creating superheroes and horror movies set in Cincinnati. As noted with the St. Paul article, swinging from building to building would be limited to a few blocks. The biggest thing about Cincinnati heroes would be their attitudes.

"A bank robbery? No time for that! There's a NC-17 video on display on Vine Street!"

Villains would tie up heroes and heroines (always popular to the comic audience) and force them to watch People vs. Larry Flynt or drown them in vats of Skyline Chili. Mutants like the X-Men would face a charter amendment allowing discrimination based on species. Tight-fitting costumes would carry a third-degree misdemeanor.

I've been thinking about a horror movie, possibly based on Zombie Cult Massacre in which Cincinnati is infested with cannibalistic zombies but due to attacks of giant lizards on the West Coast, the government decides against sending in the Army. Tri-Staters go about their daily affairs, trying to ignore the zombies as best they can. Only a handful of people decide to do anything about the problem and they are regarded as nuts. It will probably never happen but it keeps me sane reading the news.
Evaluations from Hell

I set off for class on Friday and the car was dead. I think my daughter turned on the side dome light to annoy her sister and didn't turn it off. It started today so I hope everything will work out.

Before this fall, I never missed a class. Now, I've done it twice in one week. On the good side, if this had happened before the trip to the hospital, I would have lost my head. As it was, I took it in stride.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

No More Texan Drag Queens

Texan school goes from cross-dressing to miltia-wear.
When Do You Step In?

We had a discussion in class about eccentrics based on the documentary Home Movie. At what point should authorities get involved in someone's life? Two of the people featured lived in a home with 11 cats and designed cat platforms and runways in every room of their house. They were able to function but what about the people with 100 cats?

If I start collecting people and keeping them in a pit under my garage, it might be reasonable for police to intervene but what if I'm into self-mutilation? At what point is someone harmful to himself and/or others?
Woman Breastfeeds Dog

Still thinking of moving to New Zealand? I'm praying that today is the Southern Hemisphere's version of April 1.
Virgin Births

Via Hoax Museum, the history of "Concubitus sine Lucina" (Conception without sex). How did the Holy Ghost impregnate Mary? And you thought you had time on your hands.
Head Injury Update

Devilboy is doing fine. Apparently he never was in much pain--he was laughing as they put him in the ambulance. He loves to play with trucks, especially ones that make noise so seeing a real fire truck and ambulance up close was a dream come true. I'm sure this has given him ideas--lots of blood = cool flashing lights and big wheels.

He has an amazing threshold for pain. Once he broke the lock on the oven and tried to climb in while it was 425 degrees. If he didn't have my webbed ear, I'd think my wife had an affair with Clark Kent.

The doctor claimed that skin glue caused less scarring than stitches. My wife had it used on her abdomen without much of a mark. Fortunately, it's right on his eyebrow. Once the skin and the hair grow back, even if there is a scar, it should be covered up.

If it seemed like I was calm or knew what I was doing, it's only because I couldn't write down how I felt. While I was driving to the hospital, I half-vomited with it coming up far enough to taste but not far enough to get out. Normally, that's the sort of thing I'd remember but it went right out of my mind.

Covington brought up another emergency room visit when my stepdaughter swung on my mother's countertops (after being told repeatedly not to) and fell on her face, knocking one of her teeth back into her gum. That was three or four years ago and she's almost old enough for the reconstruction to begin (they had to wait until her jaw was more developed). Even though that was more serious, "losing a tooth" just doesn't affect you like the words "head injury."

I can remember when my daughter was only a few weeks old, she scraped her leg against the car door as I was putting her in her car seat. I remember thinking that was the first time she'd ever been cut, the first time she'd ever felt that kind of pain. Sheltering kids too much isn't right but I can understand why so many parents try to.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Worst Day Ever

I thought I was ready for class today (finishing up Sophocles and starting on Othello). When I went to make copies, the department's secretary told me that my daycare called and that my son was in the hospital. No further explanation.

On my way to school, I drive by the daycare and this morning I saw an ambulance and fire truck pulling out. They didn't have their lights on and I assumed it was "Fire and Emergency Safety Day" (which happens about every three weeks).

When I got ahold of someone from the daycare, she told me that he'd hit his head and was bleeding badly. I've taught since 1992 and never cancelled a class until this fall. I didn't notice my top speed but I remember seeing the speedometer at 110 going uphill on 275. I apologize for anyone I ran off the road.

He was playing in his bed when I found him. The cut wasn't very bad but would have required several stitches. The doctor was able to use a skin glue (as fate would have it, click here). The good news is that the glue doesn't hurt going on. The bad news (or more good news depending on POV) is that unlike stitches, the glue doesn't draw the skin back together, just coats over it. For the next five days, he'll have a big, bloody wound over his eyebrow that can't be bandaged.

I was going to cancel my night class but he seemed completely better. I probably should have cancelled it--I was too full of adrenaline to think straight. I'll need to bring strippers and beer to get good evaluations.

One sad thing that I have to admit is that I didn't think of anything fitting from Shakespeare or Sophocles (although it's probably better that I can't relate Oedipus to my personal life) but I thought of a quote from Batman: Year One. The crime boss of Gotham City, planning to kidnap Lt. Gordon's baby son, says something to the effect of "Being a father means never being free." With such an overwhelming sensation of dread, I can understand how so many people can vote and think as they do. It's like going to a new land where everything looks the same but is sharper, harder, and more painful. I'm not endorsing vasectomies but the feeling of helplessness is worse than anything I can think of.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Giant Squid Used to Smuggle Drugs

I've heard of smugglers using a dead baby to sneak cocaine into the U.S.* but giant squids?

*Denotes uncertain origin.
End of the Hobbits?

Remember the fossilized hobbit? Could be Piltdown II.
More Atlantis

I didn't take this seriously at first but it's starting to look possible. Atlantis update.
Hell Inna Handbasket

Morals have eroded! Values are dead! Everything is lousy! Oh, wait.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I Lost You

I'm still trolling around (in the non-commenting sense) for documentaries and I saw this review from Roger Ebert and a follow-up from Rotten Tomatoes.

So, the unloved woman slashes her wrist at a gay bar (not a lesbian bar, but a male gay bar)? Wouldn't that be like ordering a steak at a vegan restaurant? I don't see this as an indictment against feminist movies but the premise seems to need tweaking.
Voter Hoax

Make no mistake--this is an absolute fraud.

How did Illinois get five point more than Ohio and 12 more than Kentucky? Maybe this is splitting hairs but test Hoosiers against natives of the Great Commonwealth and I doubt if there would be a two-point difference (one wears red for basketball, the other blue).

Where's the art? Where's the pride? Shouldn't a parody deserve better?
Media Bias

Ain't left, ain't right, just plain dumb.

Do 100-year old death statistics really matter? Probably not, but it shows how sloppy the media is (and arguably, it's less sloppy today than it ever has been in the past). Still, I get students with the "I-know-it's-true-it-was-in-the-paper" argument.
Of God and Hobbits

I'm surprised this was even an issue. Religions didn't seem to have any problem with the idea of multiple species of mankind when the practice of dividing Homo sapiens into separate species was used to justify slavery. In Contact, Carl Sagan even had a priest upset over the discovery of extraterrestrial life. In reality, the Vatican would clap and launch rocket-propelled collection plates.

If I'm not mistaken, Covington Jim saw something about this a few years back.

The first thing the fish-people should do is sue Disney for making such a crappy movie about them.
Tell Me You're Kidding

Sick, sick, sick.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


After a bad experience with Orson Welles' F for Fake, I showed Chris Smith's Home Moviein Advanced Writing tonight. I had wanted to show Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control but couldn't find it from the library or video stores.

Other than Michael Moore type documentaries, it's hard to find a documentary that has a clear message but Moore's are so blatant and inflammatory (at least to students) that I wouldn't use them in class. Are any others out there?
Salute to Milton

It's not much but my slight contribution to Veterans Day is a link to my Great-great-great uncle, Milton Mills and my great grandfather, Newton.

In case you're interested, the 16th Ohio Infantry fought in the following battles:

Cumberland Gap, Tenn April 28, 1862
Tazewell, Tenn August 6, 1862
Chickasaw Bayou, Miss December 28, 29, 1862
Ft. Hindman, Ark. (Arkansas Post) January 11, 1863
Port Gibson, Miss May 1, 1863
Champion’s Hill, Miss May 16, 1863
Big Black river, Miss May 17, 1863
Vicksburg, Miss (First assault) May 19, 1863
Vicksburg, Miss May 22, 1863
Siege of Vicksburg, Miss May 19 to July 14, 1863
Jackson, Miss July 9-16, 1863
Alexandria, La April 26, 1864
Mansura, La. (Red river expedition) May 14-16, 1864
If I Were Braver, I'd Make a Wife Joke

My next post will be from beyond the grave.
Arizona State to Honor Tillman

My first thought was "Is that all they're doing in his memory?"

It seems that more people know Ted Williams left pro sports to serve in the military than know Pat Tillman gave his life. No disrespect to Ted's estate but Tillman should be the bigger story.
Don't Mess with Tobacco in Kentucky

Worse than Howard Stern.
Martian Cover-up

Here's the official version. Can you handle the truth?

(Presented in the same vein as the Hong Kong e-mail.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Striking It Rich

I just received this in an e-mail:

Dear Sir,
Let me start by introducing myself. I am Mr Wang Qin credit officer of the Hang Seng Bank Ltd. I have a concealed business suggestion for you.
Before the U.S and Iraqi war our client General. Ibrahim Moussa who was with the Iraqi forces and also business man made a numbered fixed deposit for 18 calendar months, with a value of Twenty million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars only in my branch. Upon maturity several notice was sent to him, even during the war early this year. Again after the war another notification was sent and still no response came from him. We later find out that the General and his family had been killed during the war in bomb blast that hit their home.
After further investigation it was also discovered that Gen. Ibrahim Moussa did not declare any next of kin in his official papers including the paper work of his bank deposit. And he also confided in me the last time he was at my office that no one except me knew of his deposit in my bank. So, Twenty million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars is still lying in my bank and no one will ever come forward to claim it.What bothers me most is that according to the to the laws of my country at the expiration 3 years the funds will revert to the ownership of the Hong Kong Government if nobody applies to claim the funds.
Against this backdrop, my suggestion to you is that I will like you as a foreigner to stand as the next of kin to Gen. Ibrahim Moussa so that you will be able to receive his funds.
I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so that we shall come out successful. I have contacted an attorney that will prepare the necessary document that will back you up as the next of kin to Gen.Ibrahim Moussa,all that is required from you at this stage is for you to provide me with your Full Names and Address so that the attorney can commence his job.After you have been made the next of kin, the attorney will also fill in for claims on your behalf and secure the necessary approval and letter of probate in your favor for the move of the funds to an account that will be provided by you.
There is no risk involved at all in the matter as we are going adopt a legalized method and the attorney will prepare all the necessary documents. Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters concerning this issue.

Once the funds have been transferred to your nominated bank account we shall share in the ratio of 70% for me, 25% for you and 5% for any expenses incurred during the course of this operation.Please reply this
Kind Regards
Wang Qin.

So long, suckers! I'm off to a life of luxury!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Worst Movie Ever

I've made it clear in the past that I'm prejudiced against talking pig movies. I did like Babe and its sequel but any other pig has left me cold. I can accept talking germs, aardvarks, bats, cats, dogs, lemurs, and just about anything else but pigs.

I ask myself, "Is this a fat issue?" No, I accept talking elephants and hippos.

I ask myself, "Is this a food issue? Pigs are after all one of the few animals I've eaten that actually eat humans." No, I've eaten alligator and shark (and surely there's been a few worms in a hamburger here and there) but I don't mind movies with talking sharks, alligators, or worms.

No, I think it's because pig movies (Babe excepted) are just plain bad.

Some people point to Charlotte's Web as a fine film. It's far better than Gordie, the Little Pig who Made it Big but I never cared for it either. Wilbur the protagonist is a completely passive character--he does nothing to save himself, he depends entirely on the spider. I might be able to take that but the whining! Every other line of dialogue is "I don't want to die!" usually followed by a fainting spell.

Still, the original wasn't completely terrible. The sequel is.

For starters, the rat which was originally voiced by Paul Lynde, the gayest man ever to live, now constantly watches over his four offspring. That's Scrappy Doo times four on top of an already bad situation.

Charlotte's daughters aren't much better. They sport similar hair colors and hairdos as the Powerpuff Girls (down to the redhead big-haired girl being the leader, the brunette short-haired girl being the bossy pessimist, and the blonde with pig-tails as the baby). Unlike the Powerpuff Girls, they don't do anything but make lame running jokes.

Wilbur is still a whiner. Personally, I prefer cartoons send my kids the message "hitting people solves problems" over "whining solves problems." I'd prefer "climbing the water tower with a rifle solves problems" over this.

The animators combined traditional animation with very low-level computer animation. This was done in some of the Pokemon movies and Disney's Hercules but usually there's some kind of reason for it. In Web II, it's just to make water ripple and clouds float by, something that could have been done just as well with traditional animation. This patchwork approach is simply distracting which isn't really a bad thing since it keeps your mind off how bad the rest of the movie is.

Bob the Builder and What's New, Scooby Doo? come across like something by Fellini. Sooner or later, I'm sure they'll make Charlotte's Web III but I'm hoping my kids will be too old for it by then. I'd rather them set the garage on fire than to sit through another helping of Wilbur.
Belushi Threatens Catwoman

Is Catwoman legally insane? That's the only reason I can think of to want to see Jim Belushi (at least Yoko Ono had to put out to get to the spotlight).

The kids have the television volume way too high if the first thing I thought of when I read about this discovery was "Which Pokemon is that?"
Beyond Canned Hunts

I found this through the Hoax Museum (who was unsure if it was legit) but supposedly Texas is acting to outlaw any real attempts of remote control hunting.

With only two exceptions, hunters I've known are responsible and genuinely care about pollution and other environmental issues. However, the idiot contingency responsible for canned hunts might make remote-controlled hunting a possibility. Sadly, otherwise responsible people have been backed in the corner to oppose laws restricting canned hunts. Charleston Heston strongly denounced them but worked against their ban, saying he was worried that once the laws went on the books, they could be expanded to include regular hunting. I see no reason to doubt Heston--it's the same concern that many groups have against banning partial birth abortion. I would hope that the NRA would draw the line with this.

If you remember Hunting for Bambi, a few years back, you might suspect this latest scheme is a fraud. We'll have to wait for what Snopes reports.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Graphic Novel Review

Unexpectedly I had a bunch of graphic novels that I've reserved through the library all arrive on the same day. Fortunately, I had my kids with me when I picked them up so I didn't entirely look like a certain troll who still lives in his mom's basement.

Hulk/Wolverine: Six hours--Not a bad story and certainly no dumber than anything by John Grisham or Tom Clancy but nothing to write home about (unless that would be your mom's basement).

Y the Last Man: Unmanned--A much less conventional comic, Y is the story of the aftermath of a plague that instantly and simultaneously wiped out every mammal on the planet with a Y chromosome with the exception of an unemployed, agoraphobic escape artist named Yorick and Ampersand, his helper monkey.

Yorick comments at one point that he would have guessed the world would be more peaceful but it's anything but (feminists might note that the book has a male author). Because the plague struck at rush hour Eastern Standard Time, the highways are clogged with wrecked cars and jack-knifed trucks, so transporting food into New York and other cities is impossible. Electricity and phones apparently went dead at the same time as the men--soon rampaging gangs are ready to kill for a can of Ravioli. The spirit of W lives on, as the women of the Israeli military sweep across the Mideast to protect themselves from a potential future threat. Wives of Republican congressmen stage a coup on the White House (nearly 75% of the women in Congress are Democrats so the plague skewed things towards the left). And worst of all for Yorick, a cult of New Amazons emerges, teaching that the Y chromosome was a monstrous defect that Mother Nature wisely corrected. For the months following the male extinction, they concentrated on destroying remnants of the patriarchy but when news of Yorick's survival surface, he's on the top of their hit list.

Y is an ongoing series so the narrative advances too slowly to cover much ground in the issues collected in Unmanned but it's done well enough for me to keep an eye out for later collections.

Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers--inexplicably labeled as "Teen" by the Cincinnati Library, this is a record of Spiegelman's reaction to September 11 and the events that have followed. Spiegelman is best known for Maus and Maus II, the story of his parents in the Holocaust and Auschwitz told by talking animals. In the Shadow isn't quite as experimental but it draws on the memory of turn of the century (the last one) to act out Spiegelman's interpretation of new New York. I'd recommend In the Shadow of No Towers to anyone with an understanding of the history of comics but to a new reader, watching the Katzenjammer Kid, Happy Hooligan, and Little Nemo at Ground Zero might take some explaining.

Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries--I know most people roll their eyes at comic books but I'd recommend this to anyone. Gaiman has written wonderful books but I think his stories work better as comics, especially his Sandman series.

Years ago, I read "Murder Mystery" in the form of a short story. It's effective--no artist can capture the impact that Gaiman's imagery has in the imagination. However, as a short story, it's easy to forget that this is a framed story and the frame, in comic form, is more important than the internal work.

It might seem that I give away the plot with this synopsis but believe me, I'm not telling you anything. Mystery starts with an English narrator reflecting back to a stopover at L.A. ten years ago. As he waited for a delayed flight, a homeless man wandered out of the shadows and asked for a cigarette. In gratitude (or what might seem like gratitude), the man tells the narrator his story, how he was once an angel before the creation of the universe. When a fellow angel is found murdered, the future bum is divinely drafted to catch the killer. Assisted by Lucifer, the Captain of the Angels, eventually the first murderer is discovered and brought to a sort of justice.

In the short story, the internal mystery came across as dominant. In the comic, the frame to the internal story (the English narrator and the bum) seem much more important. The adaptation is slavishly faithful to Gaiman's original prose but the sense of conflict is shifted, much for the better. Unlike Y or In the Shadow of No Towers, I would recommend this to anyone who can handle a graphic depiction of homicides, both divine and domestic.
Loveland Frog Attacks Elvis

Have you heard of the Loveland Frog? It's based on a real account of two Loveland police men's encounter with a pet iguana that escaped from a resident's house. Over the years, it's turned into this.

At least you can have some fun with the frog here.
King Congo

Reports of a new species of gorilla. Sounds like these guys.
Ebert on Incredibles

Delightfully smart, exciting superhero fare.

97% approval from Rotten Tomatoes. (Check out the reasons the dissenters give--"superhero movies aren't original" (written by a schmuck who can't get enough "quirky relationship" movies) and Village Voice's incoherent rambling [mine are at least intentional]. May an excess of Bush gloating drive Jessica Winter into hiding.)
Kiss My Balls for Luck

The urban legend come to life.
Read Books, Get Brain

Apparently it's not just a literacy slogan.
(Although you'd think it would work.)
Guns and Gays

Gun control (via Cecil "liberal" Adams).

I saw a number of ads from unions promoting Kerry as a gun-lover and Kerry made a publicized hunting trip but I think it's time for Democrats to make a concerted effort to protect include Second Amendment rights (or at least make it clear that gun control is a dead issue). True, only a handful of liberals support total gun bans but if Democrats want a better chance than the Green Party, it might be a good idea to treat the anti-gun crowd the way the GOP ought to treat the "Outlaw Queer" folk. Like gays, guns are here—get over it.

Decades ago, the U.S. had a chance to put some sort of effective gun control in place but that's long gone. By many counts, guns outnumber people in the U.S. Private gun-owners outnumber the military and police. Guns aren't going anywhere.

In today's political climate, even talk of regulating guns is a mistake. God knows, someday we may develop phasers or a new type of weapon that will demand some sort of political discussion ("Outlaw disruptors and only outlaws will have disruptors") but until that time any proposed gun laws just alienates potential voters.

Covington has taken up this issue but it doesn't seem widespread. I don't expect everyone to like it, just accept it.
Cosmic Rays

No, I'm not talking about the tunes of Charlie Parker--I mean the pesky stuff that created the Fantastic Four.

And now, without transition, here's an aside from Stan Lee from the Fantastic Four's first issue synopsis (July 1961). Virtually all Lee's heroes are born of some sort of radiation (gamma, radioactive spider, or unspecified "high energy" rays), and he needed an excuse to expose his protagonists to cosmic rays above the atmosphere. By using an "unauthorized" rocket mission to the moon as his vehicle, Lee bombarded Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Susan and Johnny Storm with mysterious cosmic rays, granting them superhuman abilities. When Lee first proposed the comic, he didn't think the moon was a viable destination:

Note: At the rate the Communists are progressing in space, maybe we better make this a flight to the STARS, instead of just to Mars, because by the time this mag goes on sale, the Russians may have already MADE a flight to Mars!
Somehow Stan was talked down to the moon. Today, the thought of a successful Russian space mission seems even more outlandish than mere superpowers.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Out Myself

I saw a couple people wondering about this on other blogs but the Sr. Theresa Starlinger posts to comments by "Cincysucker" were just meant as a joke. I was thinking about keeping it as a running gag but frankly, he's not worth the trouble. If anyone else would like to pick it up, feel free.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Lovecraft v. God

Here's a fairly reasonable account of H.P.'s skepticism by Fortean Times (it's as if the Vatican published a defense of abortion).

By the sane to somewhat sane reports, Lovecraft created the Cult of Chthulu as a parody of Christianity and found all forms of religion to be silly at best. Still, he appreciated the concept of religion as a form of local color--imagining cathedrals in Montreal, voodoo in Haiti, and God knows what down in Texas. Like a snobbish speech instructor's views on slang and accents, he wanted it the hell away from him but liked the idea of strange beliefs being practiced in far away lands (and in Lovecraft's case that could be anywhere outside of New England).

During a time when it can be hard to have good feelings about religion, it's refreshing to think that even the worst cult can be the source of artistic inspiration. I can't say that I'm a fan of Lovecraft's style (he comes off as the Book of Mormon on acid) but his overall creativity and invention inspired many writers, most notably Robert Bloch.

Of course, the lunatics believe that Lovecraft was a journalist and his Old Ones are still lurking in the darkness. (Okay, maybe it's not so loony but it still takes away from Lovecraft's achievements.)
Bin Laden: The Musical

I saw this on Fortean Times so I wouldn't bet good money that it's legit.
Why I Am the Way I Am

Jennifer Dute is the wife of my old high school guidance counselor. Seriously.

Here's more and more and more.
Christian in Lion Den

Idiot bit by lion.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Correlation of Yard Signs to Candy

(I saved this as a draft on Monday instead of publishing it. It might have made all the difference.)

Last night for a long while it looked like people with Bush/Cheney signs in their yard were nothing but cheap bastards. The first three we came to had their porch lights out. Unfortunately for the Egg Producers of America, the next batch of houses with Bush signs went 4-1, leaving us with a tie. What tipped the scales was that one of the houses had their porch light on, a sidelight over the driveway (with a truck with a Bush sticker), but no one was home.

As everyone should know, leaving your porch light on is a contract with America to provide candy. (On the other hand, maybe the owner was taken without trial to Gitmo.)

DeWine went 0-1 for no candy. The school levy was 1-0 and the MRDD levy was 2-0 with the yard signs places strategically near the candy payoff. Kerry and Nader both were 0-0.

In the future for close elections, put out a yard sign for your candidate, put the light on, and hand out king-size Snicker bars.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Witches Pardoned

Scotland is pardoning witches a few hundred years too late.

Salem gets a lot of press but nowhere in what is now the U.S. (even the Southwest which was under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition) were witch hunts as brutal, long, and plentiful as they were in contemporary Europe. Some towns in Scotland would engage in extensive, murderous witch trials while towns a few miles away would ignore the whole issue.

On the other hand, European witch hunts were far more rational and scientific (for their time) than the Satanic daycare panics of the 1980s. Not to mention the West Memphis Three.
Wal-Mart Bans Carlin

I just bought his latest book (which isn't perfect by a stretch) but how could you justify banning it while keeping the Left Behind idiocy?
Killer in the White House

No, it's not what you think.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Groo the Movie

If you're one of the nine or ten other dorks in the world who read Groo comics, this might interest you. Everyone else will slowly shake their heads.
Kerry Loves Satan

Well, maybe not. Covington found this picture a while back but apparently it's fake.
Engineered Cats

I don't see anything wrong with this but I wonder how far it will go. How many years until you can buy a three-headed Cerebus at Pet World?
NASA under Kerry

Hubble is no longer shaking.
Americans are Big and Fat

Five foot nine? Are they including third-graders?
More Evil than Doc Ock

Guess who was voted the film villain of the year?
Dog and Orca

Hoax Museum says this is real. It might be the name "killer whale" that creates a bias. If this were a picture of a bottle-nosed dolphin and dog, I wouldn't doubt it for a second.

Secondary issue: I'm not trying to be insensitive to Indians but if a Christian group claimed a whale was the reincarnated spirit of one of their leaders, I'd argue for calling in Janet Reno and the ATF. It's no stupider than claiming the Earth is only a few thousand years old but it's a shame that a whale's welfare is even partially affected by religious beliefs.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Horror Movie Quiz

Via Pharyngula (who also got a 92%), 13 questions about horror movies. He missed the Friday the 13 question. I missed the one about Roger Corman.
Hey! I Know That Guy!

I just mentioned Zombie Cult Massacre a few posts ago. Jim Van Bebber, the guy who did the zombie effects, just had a movie reviewed by Roger Ebert with an 82% rating from Rotten Tomato. This was one of the movies I'd heard about that somebody sunk a boatload of time and money into but was never expected to finish. That's no guarantee that it's any good but just getting to this point was an achievement.
Sex and Beer Prevail over Religion

A heart-warming story from overseas.
Stern vs. Powell

I'm not a fan of Stern but I'm behind him with this. I've got three kids under 12 and somehow I can find ways of not exposing them to radio or television broadcast I think is inappropriate thanks to the wonderful invention of the channel changer. If it were really difficult to find material for children, I could see Powell's point, but parents have the power to pick and choose whatever they feel best.
Hey, That's Not a Light Saber

I went looking for a science fiction page ( but instead typed in Quite different results.
Shooting Blanks

On the set of Zombie Cult Massacre, I saw a guy who had been shot by a 12-gauge shotgun blank. Do not shoot yourself with a blank. Do not shoot other people with blanks (unless you'd like to hurt them). Cecil Adams explains this here but leaves out the shotgun angle. Not that either option would be nice, but I'd rather be shot by a .44 magnum than a 12-gauge (at least at close range).

In high school, I knew an idiot who liked to shoot people in the chest with blanks from a .22. Even wearing a thick shirt and from across a wide room, it was like being snapped by a wet towel against bare skin.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Work in Bed

This sounds like a setup for Eddie Murphy's old SNL skit but it's a plea for European women to help the "space race" (I haven't heard that term in a while).

Considering that weight is a major factor in the cost of space flight, women (and dwarfs) would help NASA's budget. When the shuttles first when up, the external fuel tanks were painted white. Soon they were left untouched because the weight of the paint was too costly to justify. Primarily female crews go against SF tradition (unless they're all half-naked blonde bimbos) but would save considerable money.
EU's Anti-Smoking Measures

If this isn't a joke, the EU is planning to include graphic pictures on cigarette packages. I'd think kids might buy them for the grossness factor.
Selling Wife on Installment Plan

This is presented as true but sounds too much like something from Snopes. But if I could just get my wife on the operating table.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Number of People Who Ever Lived

I bring this up for the fact that so many people are under the belief that "more people are living today than ever died" and that creationists came up with the same result as legitimate scientists.
Whales Denied Right to Sue

This article makes the concept seem only possible with the "most liberal" Ninth Circuit court. Actually the same decision was handed out over a decade ago. . . in Massachusetts (which isn't exactly a hotbed of conservatism but certainly is outside of the Ninth Circuit's jurisdiction).
Gotti's Plan B

When hitmen fail.
Are You Criminally Insane?

If you'd like to enter an asylum for the criminally insane, click here. Essentially, the page gives you a new e-mail account and let's you register in the asylum with accessible patient's records. Would be fun thing to pop up if people google your name.
Library List

I haven't done this for a while but just to let you know where all the Maisy books from the library are ending up:

Kids' Books
What are you doing, Maisy? Cousins, Lucy.
Where are you going, Maisy?, Cousins, Lucy
What are you doing, Maisy?, Cousins, Lucy (Yes, we have two copies checked out)
Count with Maisy , Cousins, Lucy.
Maisy's fire engine, Cousins, Lucy.
Maisy drives , Cousins, Lucy.
My many colored days , Seuss, Dr.
The toy brother, Steig, William
Caleb & Kate, Steig, William
Little cloud , Carle, Eric.
The big book of beautiful babies : board book , Ellwand, David.
Mouse paint,Walsh, Ellen Stoll
Bumposaurus , McKinlay, Penny.
Shapes for lunch! , Reasoner, Charles.

Kids' Videos
Sing and dance with Barney [videorecording]
Dragon tales. Believe in yourself! [videorecording]
The Wiggles. Cold spaghetti western [videorecording]
Barney. Movin' and groovin' [videorecording]
Pokémon Johto League champions. Tea'd off [videorecording]
Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness monster [videorecording] (Not a masterpiece but a much needed break from that bastard Barney)
A splash party, please [videorecording]
Scooby-Doo meets the Harlem Globetrotters [videorecording] (I wouldn't call this racist but I can't see anything like this made today)

From a Buick 8 [sound recording] , King, Stephen
Old time radio. Mysteries [sound recording]
Did I ever tell you how lucky you are? [sound recording], Seuss, Dr. (My son destroyed destroyed the tape so it looks like I'm buying the book)
Songs from The book of Pooh [sound recording]
Dragon tunes [sound recording] : [from Dragon Tales]

My Books
The Faber book of ballads
Mythology : a visual encyclopedia , Forty, Jo. (Accessible book of world myths, not simply Greek, Roman, or Norse)
The mammoth book of maneaters , MacCormick (I picked this up as a whim. Gory but entertaining)
Hulk/Wolverine : six hours , Jones, Bruce
How to hold a crocodile
Y : the last man , Vaughan, Brian K.
Neil Gaiman's murder mysteries (I'd read the short story but, as a graphic novel, it's even more striking.)
The forms of poetry; a pocket dictionary of verse , Untermeyer, Louis

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Shark Update

It looks like the great white in captivity has more than doubled the record (unless it died recently and nobody updated the web page).
Roald Dahl

If you're a fan of The Twits or any of his other books, this might be a fun site. (Don't panic--you can turn off the animation when they start to drive you crazy.)

Back in the 1980s, Dahl wrote a book about a man who saved the life of a king and was given the right to have sex with any woman in the kingdom. As incredibly un-PC as that is, I'd love to find a copy.

I'd nominate The Twits as his best (or most satisfying) book. According to a number of pages, Matilda was voted his most popular--not a bad book by any stretch but nowhere as funny and disgusting as The Twits.
Girly Man

Arnie shot off his mouth and now can't get it on.
UN Urged to Ignore Bush

Birds coming home to roost.
Fate of the Nation

Ohio may decide who becomes the next president. Be very afraid.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Planets Take Longer to Form Than Previously Thought

Maybe this isn't the most impressive story in the world but it's another blow to the belief that God created the rest of the universe in a couple hours but needed the rest of the week for our humble rock.
U.S. Policy Downunder

An Australian political party has decided to model itself after the Bush administration with horrible results.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Another Terrorist Movie

You probably haven't heard of this (I hadn't). It's surprising that everyone makes a big deal over the puppets but lets this go under radar.

Good analogy of the War on Terror to a Three Stooges's maneuver.
Horror Movies

Article on overlooked horror movies found on Ebert's website, praising The Tenant, a movie that Ebert hated. Roger might not have liked it but I know of a local writer who needed therapy after watching it.
Ebert on Team America

A few days ago, Sean Penn spoke out against it. Ebert's review is along the same lines.

I wasn't offended by the movie's content so much as by its nihilism. At a time when the world is in crisis and the country faces an important election, the response of Parker, Stone and company is to sneer at both sides -- indeed, at anyone who takes the current world situation seriously. They may be right that some of us are puppets, but they're wrong that all of us are fools, and dead wrong that it doesn't matter.

Reviews from
Take That, Derwin!

Pharygula directs us to the Wall of Shame (Nine pages in all):

HOTTESTDIGGEDYDOGEVER : I should probably tell you that darwin is not the founder of evolution, satan was, he told eve at the garden that if she eat of the forbidden fruit that she would be as God, that’s where evo came from

BORN2Xs : two differe nt species could reproduce if they REALLY wanted to

boys_got_matches : i denie the evoltionist stand on contenental drift just like all geologists do

Grecham : incidently if i end up on your wall of shame - i’ll sue

EdibleEntity: my claims are valid and easy to understand once you free yourself from your prision of LOGIC

SoaringEagle® : evolution falls on its face when one considers the time factor..species just simply don’t have millions of years to evolve survival skills they would be wiped out before then. The quicker the evolution the better as in minutes not years.

Squack1 : How do darwinists explain the caribean explosion?

Trumpet57: If Noah didn’t cause the seashells to be mountins then how do u think the fishes got up there by walking on the fins or flying or what? And I’m not ignorent I just want to show if you can’t answer.

DarwinismInDecay: Cario, if the ape and man had a common ancestor, that makes the ape a COMMON ancestor by default

GarrettOmega : Perhaps the ark was larger on the inside than on the outise
Giant Flying Squid Invade America

Well, sort of. Alaskan waters at least.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

My Hero

"We waited for it to stop but it never did."

Some days, this would be my sweetest fantasy.
Freaky Cats

Thank the Hoax Museum for pictures of these conjoined kittens.
X-Ray Sunglasses

Remember when you were 14 and wished you had magical glasses that allowed you to see through clothing? They're all the rage in Iraq.
Wisdom from WAIF

I listened to WAIF (88.3 FM Cincinnati) today and an idiot called during a talk show and attempted to prove that the War with Iraq was a good thing.

"We've been there over a year and only 1,000 people have died. At that rate it would take another two years before it equaled the World Trade Center."

Even assuming Iraq had anything to do with September 11, would such a stat prove the war was good? At his present rate, it would take O.J. 170 years to equal Ted Bundy. Does that make him man of the year?
Time Off

If you've been following the news, Kroger workers are set to strike unless the union and management come up with a miracle. Kroger stock is down and I can understand pressure to cut costs but the proposed cutbacks essentially eliminate any real reason to work there. Many employees only got jobs at Kroger to pay for their medication (not out of wages, which would be impossible) through the health benefits. I know a 67-year old retired banker who works in the deli so that her dying husband can receive medical attention. She's not in the least bit worried about wages. Naturally, management posted this on their web page (click on news and updates).

I hope this is resolved quickly but most of the workers I've talked to seem to think it could last a while.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Odd Couple Book Review

I picked up Noam Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance the other day. It's surprisingly accessible--Noam's going for a wider audience than with his linguistic works. Here's a memorable passage:

The target of preventive war must have several characteristics:

1. It must be virtually defenseless.
2. It must be important enough to be worth the trouble.
3. There must be a way to portray it as the ultimate evil and an imminent threat to our survival.

Arguably you could say this about any civilization of any era but it gives you an idea of where the War on Terror might strike next. Iran and North Korea could nuke us so they're out on the first point. Syria and Sudan haven't got enough oil--out on the second. Possibly Congo and Uganda's mineral rights and "obvious terrorist ties" might be on the list.

Chomsky looks back to the Taft and Wilson administrations but obviously spends a good chunk of the book on the last few years. Noting that W has a bust of Winston Churchill on his desk, he relates the following quote from Churchill:

"The power of the executive to cast a man in prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious, and the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist." (Note: no clause excluding the Patriot Act.)

One of the concepts that I didn't buy and have never accepted in Chomsky's writings is that America acts as a single unit with clear boundaries. I can believe in unserving loyalty to global corporations but I doubt if Cheney is thinking so much "America" as "Halliburton." For all the flag-waving, I can see plenty of upcoming alliances with the bin Laden family (who of course have nothing to do with their black sheep relative) by American businesses for personal, not national, interests.

What's the logical companion for Noam Chomsky? Batman, of course. Actually Batman in a supporting role. Dan Slott's Arkham Asylum: Living Hell is largely superhero-free, but tries to imagine what it would be like caging a boatload of deranged supervillains. The story is told from the point of view of one of the guards, the chief administration, the asylum psychiatrist, and a recently admitted patient.

The patient, Warren White, was the CEO of White World Net and once enjoyed phone conversations such as "Dick, Dick, Dick, don't get your pacemaker in a bunch. Trust me, years from now people'll think "Halliburton" is the guy who made Edward Scissorhands." After White beats "the greatest act of stock fraud in American history" by pleading insanity, the outraged judge gleefully sends him to Arham to bunk with the Joker, Killer Croc, Two-Face, and the rest of the Batfoes.

Sadly for Mr. White, Dr. Jeremiah Arham, the Chief of Staff, lost his life's savings in the scam and allows the lunatics to carve him to pieces. A somewhat sympathetic asylum doctor eventually advises him to "make a super villain team-up...Be Joker's 'Straight Man.' The Ventriloquist's 'Hand Puppet.' Scarecrow's 'Straw Stuffer.' Eventually White is reduced to Two-Face's "Coinboy" but not before dropping the soap in the facility's shower next to the Joker. In a decency-preserving moment, the Clown Prince of Crime merely hands him back the soap and says with disgust, "You know, I think you're the worst person I've ever met."

It gets more gruesome, almost to the point that you wouldn't wish it upon Kenny Boy. Superhero comics are often rightfully dismissed but this one manages to present the world of Batman in an original light.

I have no idea what Noam would think about it.

Right after I post about Snope's objectivity, this shows up.

It's a joke--you can turn it around on Kerry if you want.
Sean Penn vs. South Park

Apparently the boys behind South Park have got Sean hot.

Whatever happened to That's My Bush? Deemed a risk to national security?
Free Republic Attacks Snopes

The brain trust at Free Republic claim that is left-wing and untrustworthy. (Granted this is somewhat old but a student just brought it to my attention.

Here's an example of the left-wing bias, and here, and here, and here and here and most of the stuff here.

This is one of the clearest examples of what Covington refers to as the Republican war on reality (although it's not fair to use freepers to represent all of the GOP). Their article is correct in that no one should accept Snopes as gospel but that's made abundantly clear here. Then again, what would you expect from a mindset that would post the following:

I have investigated Snopes for a couple of things that my brain will not allow me to remember tonight (sorry) and my conclusion is that they are full of s**t. They are untrustworthy and not just for political stuff. They have an agenda. Someone who will dissemble at all is untrustworthy all the time. Plus they are arrogant, and liberalism is a mental illness.
Crocodile Attack

I guess we could make this a nationalistic issue. American alligators rarely act as violently or as unpredictably as salt-water crocodiles. Must be the Patriot Act at work.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Redskins vs. Packers

If you believe in this nonsense, the Green Bay Packers or Washington Redskins will determine the leader of the Free World. I hope this gets a lot of hype--I'd love to see right-wing Packer fans and left-wind Redskins fans in agony.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

I'm Resisting a Bad Pun on Deconstruction

Derrida just died. I won't lie and say that I loved his work but he was extremely influential and seemed to be a decent individual.
Ebert on Dangerfield

Despite the hideous image this brings up, take the time to read Ebert's thoughts.
Nude Bush

I'm in for Google hits now but the real meaning is that a painting of a naked W is no longer deemed suitable for display.
Science Fiction Guide

I stumbled upon this looking for "Consider her Ways." Visually it isn't very appealing but the content looks worthwhile.
New Pesticide (Or End of Man)

Has anyone read "Consider her Ways" by John Wyndham? (I found a copy on the web which I hope is authorized.)

Something about this news article made me think of it.