Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Truth in Hollywood

Review of Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen's Based on a True Story: Fact and Fantasy in 100 Favorite Movies

Since the object of this book was to separate fact from fiction, the first thing I tried to do was to find something they got wrong. One minor point was that they bought into the story that Michael Jackson tried to buy the remains of Joseph "Not John" Merrick, the Elephant Man. This is widely regarded as a hoax but the authors stated it as pure fact. Otherwise, it was pretty good.

Most of the movies they wrote about were fairly recent, several from 2003, although a few like The French Connection went back to the 70s. Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn't mentioned or is The Ten Commandments or even Fargo. It doesn't cover as many movies as Joseph Roquemore's History Goes to the Movies or write about them as insightfully as Mark C. Carnes Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, but it was a fun read.

Some good points:

* The real Oskar Schindler didn't have a "character arc" like he did in the movie. Oskar, like most people, was a static character—he began helping Jews when he first came to Krakow, not after a moral epiphany. However many of the details, including the girl in red scene, were based on Oskar and other survivor's accounts. List-bashing was big when I was in grad school but I still think for whatever imperfections it had, it remains a powerful movie (considering other Oscar-winners of the era Gump, Titanic, The English Patient, I don't see the need to pick on this one).

* George S. Patton: "You can't run an army without profanity. An army without profanity couldn't fight its way out of a piss-soaked paper bag."

* The first Hollywood exploitation movie based on the Titanic was Saved from the Titanic, starring real-life survivor Dorothy Gilbson, released less than a month of the sinking.

* The von Trapp Family Singers actually escaped from Austria on a train. A regular train, just bought tickets and rode away without any Gestapo interference at all. Maria von Trapp noted that if they had crossed the mountains as presented in the movie, they would have walked directly into Germany.

* Most "innocent behind bars" have less to do with facts than marketing and/or politics. In Monster, director Patty Jenkins portrayed Aileen Wuornos as almost forced into becoming a serial killer. In real life, her planning and bragging about the murders is what did her in. Some true crime, like Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures, apparently stuck to the details but, while the book doesn't mention it, I'd think a documentary like Paradise Lost would almost always be more powerful than a reenactment.

I had a hard time placing the political bias until I got to the last review, Oliver Stone's JFK, which is described as "the most fact heavy movie in Hollywood history." Aha, the authors also wrote The 80 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time. I agree with the authors that Oliver Stone does take more flack for inaccuracies than other just-as-guilty directors but I don't believe that "there's never been a movie as viciously and unrelentingly flayed" or that the controversy generated by the "flaying" works in Stone's favor. The book came out in 2005, some of the material comes from 2004, and the authors reviewed Braveheart, The Patriot, and Gallipoli, so if flaying gets their interest, you'd think . . .

Monday, May 30, 2005

Death of Intelligent Design

Okay, the IDers claim that women's hips are too narrow for an infant to be born without intense pain and/or injury because God is paying them back for their great-to-the-power-of-six grandmother eating a piece of fruit.

Just one more nail in the coffin.

Republican Arnie Schwartzenhopper reasonably explains the basis of much human backpain on the fact that our backbones and the surrounding muscles develop in an arrangement best suited for four-legged animals. Arnie favors the explanation that we evolved from quadrupeds but IDers say it's because King David's second cousin-once-removed ate a forbidden french fry.
Frogs and Toads

Know-it-alls often ask what's the difference between a frog and a toad and give you a smug explanation when you can't answer.

Scientifically, the difference between frogs and toads isn't so straightforward. Many anurans (members of the order of tailless amphibians) have characteristics of both toad and frog. Some have traits unlike either such as marsupial frogs.

The semantic problem came about because in Europe two of the most frequently encountered, and therefore named, anurans are Rana temporaria (the common European frog) and Bufo bufo (the common European toad). Because European languages had separate words for toad and frog, the difference spilt into scientific terminology. The varied anurans in the rest of the world were expected to fall in line behind the European species.

So the true difference between frogs and toads is largely artificial and we can blame any difficulties on the EU.
(Mattison, Chris. Frogs and Toads of the World. London: Blandford, 1992.)

Sunday, May 29, 2005


This is the second time I've tried to post this, thanks to Blogger issues, but "I'd be more excited about this if I got the National Geographic Channel."
Masturbation Marathon

"About as pleasurable as rubbing an elbow."
What's Up with Big Ben?

Aliens? Global warming? The IRA? Shoddy British mechanics? Whatever the reason, Big Ben took a 90 second break.

Why does this interest me? I have no idea.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Bob McEwen

Apparently one of the Republicans aiming for Portman's seat is a neighbor of mine. He's put up flyers in the lobby and yard signs in every clump of grass for miles.

Here's his official web page.

The flyers say "Conservative/Pro-Life/Tax Cutter" and from what his web page says, he doesn't think the "Defense of Marriage Act" should have passed because "there never should have been a need for it."

I'm thinking of questions to ask him if I meet him: "If you outlaw abortion [which he'd only have indirect control], wouldn't that call for additional police? Wouldn't that raise taxes? How would forcing women to have children they don't want or can afford cut taxes? If you were thinking logically, wouldn't you want to buffer those two points on your ad?"

I've been trying to put together a book about saints. One of the books I read in research was Dom Basil Watkins's The Book of Saints. Here's a couple that stuck out:

Adolf of Osnabruck (1185-1224) - Bishop of Osnabruck in 1216. Nothing extraordinary in his lifetime (for a saint) but he became famous centuries after his death when little Hitler was named after him in 1889. I'm trying to write a commentary from A. of O.'s point of view. "Way to fucking ruin my namesake, asshole!"

Here's a piece of trivia that you'll probably never use--If a saint on horseback slaying a dragon is on a white horse, it's George. If the horse is red, it's Demetrius (the Peter Best of saintdom).

Two of the most inspirational saints:

Maximilian-Mary Kolbe (1894-1941) - Sheltered over 2,000 Jews after the German occupation of Poland before being sent to Auschwitz. There, he volunteered to take the place of a Jewish man with a family who was sentenced to be starved to death. Canonized in 1982 (that's 41 years after his death, as opposed to JPII who they want to canonize right now).

Damian-Joseph de Veuster (1840-1889) - Born in Tremelo, Belgium; went to Hawaii in 1864 (when it was an independent nation) and worked with the lepers who were deported to the island of Molokai. Working with them, he caught the disease and died of it 16 years later. Beautified in 1995. Inspirational man but never, ever change your name after his if you happen to live in West Memphis, Arkansas.

I was looking for "Jewish guilt" saints, ones who were canonized after being killed by Jews for secret rituals. The Church painted itself in a corner with these guys. Do they boot these saints and admit that the process is less than infallible or do they continue with a hoax so flimsy that the Nation of Islam occasionally sees through it?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Grossest Things My Pets Have Done

I forget where I mentioned it but on a blog a while back, I wrote about how a female pug tried to back through a screen door to forcibly mate with my dog. That hideous image made an impression on some other readers. However, that's not even the tip of the grossest things my pets have done over the years. I've had two dogs, four guinea pigs, about six lizards, a few hermit crabs, five mice, three birds, a newt, dozens of hamsters, gerbils, frogs, and fish, and taken care of my wife's cat. They're mostly all gone now but memories of their grossness remains.

10. Plastic-Eating Dog and Cat
My wife's cat eats any type of plastic or string he can reach. Unable to digest it, he pukes it up usually on the carpet. He especially likes colored Easter grass from kids' Easter baskets which come up swirled around in partially digested cat food like cotton candy from Hell.

My dog used to chew up and swallow heavy plastic things especially Frisbees. This too made him throw up. He also ate my girlfriend-at-the-time's make-up, favoring lipstick but taking anything he could swallow. The resulting vomit was blood red with chunks of dog food floating in it.

9. Frog-Eating Fish
A few years ago, my step-daughter collected hundreds of tadpoles from my aunt's fish pond. We took them home and dumped them all in a small aquarium. Within days, the first of the tadpoles changed into tree frogs so we let them loose in a nearby park (within a mile of my aunt's—no threat of spreading alien species).

The first non-amphibians that hatched from the water were red worms. The Internet said they were baby mayflies. Some grew up and died by the window pane; the rest the frogs ate.

Then I noticed a small dot in the water which grew into a tiny fish. I said it was a goldfish but my wife insisted it was something else. Soon it was apparent that it was indeed a goldfish and it loved frogs. Within a few days, only a couple of frog heads, eaten down to the spinal column were left floating in the tank. Every time I cleaned the tank, I would find more decomposing fragments of frog heads, legs, and indefinable hunks of flesh.

The fish is still swimming but only eats flakes anymore.

8. Gerbil-Eating Hamster
When I was in the fifth grade, I had a family of hamsters and gerbils. One night two gerbils gnawed out of their cage and dropped to one of the hamster cages, containing a young male.

The next morning, the hamster had stacked one of the gerbils in his food hoard and was eating the liver out of the other.

Moral: hamsters trump gerbils.

7. Dog Splits Eye Open
Back when I lived in Clifton, I often took my dog to Burnet Woods to let him run and chase a Frisbee (which I had to store out of reach to keep him from chewing it up). He liked to play tug of war with the Frisbee and kept such a strong grip on it that I could lift him off the ground and swing him around me, just holding on to my end of the Frisbee.

One day while doing this, he let go unexpectedly and my hand jerked back and struck me in the eye. Something split open and blood gushed through the inside of eye, getting under the lens (the lens of my eye; my contact lens was knocked somewhere in the grass).

It didn't do any permanent damage but from that point on, I just threw the Frisbee.

6. Toilet Drinking
My dog developed a taste for toilet water and soon caught on that while I would chase him away most of the time, when he heard the phone ring, it was toilet time. Back when I had a phone with a cord and no Caller-ID, I cringed whenever the phone rang. The dog would sprint to the toilet and start lapping.

Now I've learned to keep the seat and lid down on the toilet but when I forget the dog, or even more disturbing, the cat will drink from it. The cat is so hellbent on drinking that he's fallen in several times, afterwards runs around the house spraying toilet water.

5. Bird Grows Third Wing
My aunt used to teach Biology at Walnut Hills and one day a student caught a parakeet fluttering around the school. The administrators decided to give it to my aunt but because she was at lunch, they just shut it in her classroom. When she came back and opened the door, the bird began attacking.

It was so nasty that after a year of abuse, she gave it to me. After I let it fly free during the day, it gradually calmed down but was never tolerant of humans.

Most books say parakeets only live five to ten years. I kept the bird for eleven years and have no idea how old it was when it was first captured. Advanced age must have mutated its cells because it began to grow a third wing (or leg).

The wing wasn't fully feathered but was almost as half as long as a regular wings. It could move but wasn't nearly as mobile as a normal wing or leg.

The parakeet died while the extra limb was still growing. I have no idea if this was a weird tumor or mutation. However in the south, I am legally obligated to say, "Growing extra limbs is only a theory."

Spraying Dog
Besides lipstick and plastic, my dog tried to eat anything he could reach. One day I came home to find that he'd torn open a seven-pound bag of bird seed and was gulping it down. That was messy—I had to vacuum seeds from everywhere in the apartment—but the gross part didn't occur until the next day when the seeds passed through his digestive track.

Early in the morning he frantically whined by the door to go out. I took him outside and at the first patch of grass he could find, he hunched and shot out a huge volume of seeds. If you've ever seen a nature documentary of how fish expel millions of eggs, it looks something like that.

The recoil from the seeds forced him forward a few steps, then he stopped and blasted again, then again. The process was somewhat painful for him—he let out whiny yelps as he released—and he seemed ashamed of himself. Afterwards he crawled under a chair and whimpered for hours.

On some level he seemed to connect the seeds coming in with the seeds coming out because he never did anything like that again. (Although see number 2 and 1.)

3. Exo-Species Sodomy
Once when my then-girlfriend, now-wife had to visit her parents for a few weeks, I agreed to watch her cat. It's a big, orange Maine Cooncat and weighs about 20 pounds. He's the type of cat that people often refer to as being able to beat up dogs.

My dog was too big for him and instead took to beating up the cat. That would be bad enough but even though he's been neutered, his assaults went beyond purely physical.

Naturally I'd scream at the dog to stop but words were rarely enough. The cat soon replaced the toilet whenever the phone rang.

The cat went from loud and aggressive to sulking under chairs. I can't say I blame him.

2. Cat Shit Fight
I've read that hierarchy in wolf and dog packs isn't nearly as complex as in ape and human social units (not surprising). Instead of different levels of society having different rights and privileges, canines are more linear: Alpha dog gets everything Beta dog gets plus a little more; Beta dog gets everything Gamma dog gets plus a little more; Gamma dog gets everything Delta dog gets plus a little more, and so on.

To a dog this means if any member in the pack enjoys any sort of advantage that it doesn't have, that individual outranks him and the only way to move up the ladder is to fight.

When I started watching my wife's cat, my dog went hysterical whenever the cat used its litter box. The dog knew he wasn't allowed to crap inside and seeing the cat do it meant it must be punished (or that it outranked him). When I didn't respond, he would pick up the cat crap in his mouth, run to me, spit it at my feet, and bark excitedly. I didn't respond the way he thought I should, which in his mind meant the cat was now above him socially.

The next day as I was getting in the shower, I heard the dog bark. I looked up and he had the cat pinned in the hallway as if he was ready for another round of feline sodomy. I yelled at him to stop but he bit the cat in the back of the head and shook, the way dogs shake their prey to break their necks. Instead of jerking back and snapping the cat's spine, he let go at the last second and let his head crack against the hallway wall. I yelled at him while the cat twitched but he grabbed the cat's head and did it again.

I jumped out of the shower, chased him off the cat, and soon found that I was standing naked in front of an open window after shouting incoherently and chasing the dog around the room.

Helluva lot grosser than that pug, huh?

1. Three-Fold Catfood

As disturbing as the other things were they were nothing compared to this. Shortly after regaining status over the cat, my dog began eating cat crunchies. I got a cover for the litter box which helped a little but eating cat shit was like a badge of superiority for him.

To clean the litter box, my girlfriend had a hot pink plastic litter scooper. Not thinking much about it, I left it on top of the litter box's new cover. This must have awoken my dog's old appetite for plastic.

One night I came home and found the litter box knocked over, devoid of cat shit, and pieces of the chewed up scoop around the bathroom. This was too much for the dog's stomach and he threw up in the middle of the living room. He didn't look like he was finished so I snapped on his leash and dragged him outside.

When I came back, in the middle of the regurgitated cat shit, mixed with hot pink shreds of the litter scoop, was the cat, happily slurping up the lumpy goo.

The cat food had gone into the cat, out of the cat, into the dog, up from the dog, then back into the cat. Three times the value, ten thousand times the disgust.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hate Groups

Tracking Klan behavior? Worried about the Nation of Islam or Neo-Nazis? Tolerance.org has charted hate groups in Ohio, Kentucky, and the rest of the country.

I can't believe Ohio has more of the idiots than Virginia.
Too Soft a Sentence?

I have to wonder if 20 days in jail for flashing a banana is appropriate. On the other hand, he had a record. But with a smiley face?

Why didn't he do what other attention-crazed nutjobs do? Troll blogs!
End of the Constitution

I had a strange question in class: what's the end of the consitution called? After Article VII, we have:

done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names, [signatures]

Everybody knows the beginning is called the Preamble but is there a term for the last section or is it considered part of Article VII?
Just Asking

On Wednesdays I take my daughter to speech therapy and wait with Devilboy in the lobby. There's an old man who brings his grandson at the same time and have repeatedly overheard him talking to the therapists about the rapidly approaching end of the world. He's not just talking--he's got his own Rapture webpage (which I still can't find) and prints flyers about it.

I have to wonder that if you really thought the world was ending, would you worry about speech therapy? Are lisps barred from the pearly gates? Shibboleth, sibboleth!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Book Review and Goofy Stuff

I finally got a chance to read The Cincinnati Subway: History of Rapid Transit by Allen J. Singer, cousin to the illustrious Nathan Singer. I've heard of the subway system for years (Mike Resnick even incorporated them into his science fiction) but never had a context of them in Cincinnati history. My only criticism of the book is the font size; it's incredibly small and blurs for us old geezers with weak eyes.

A few weeks ago, I checked out What Ifs of American History, edited by Robert Cowley, in which various historians examine what might have happened if historical events occured differently. Some were border-line stale (what if Washington had been soundly defeated at the Battle of Long Island, what if Lee won at Gettysburg, what if the Cuban Missile Crisis led to WWIII, what if JFK hadn't been shot, what if Watergate never happened). Others were familiar with new twists (what if John Wilkes Booth's complete plans had worked, killing not just Lincoln but key members of his cabinet; what if Power's U-2 flight never flew; what if the Pilgrims landed in Virginia).

The ones that interested me the most were strange but possible. Apparently in 1896, the U.S. and England came close to war over colonization of South America. Andrew Roberts envisions a victorious U.S. (given Quebec as tribute) emerging in an early New World Order.Victor Davis Hanson imagines if Lew Wallace hadn't got lost on the way to Shiloh. He probably never would have written Ben Hur, rearranging American publishing and pop culture.

The most interesting was "The Revolution of 1877," which looks at a potential second Civil War that nearly started over poor working conditions. Literal class warfare could have torn the country to pieces. Thanks to the unsung Rutherford B. Hayes, it never happened but Hayes only became president after an election that made 2000 seem normal and clean.

Overall Eisenhower came out the best in assorted scenarios (it's left clear that without Joe McCarthy and his gang of idiots, Ike would have been a greater success) but John Tyler and William Pitt the Elder also come out smelling like roses.

All this gave me an idea about The Cincinnati Subway. Years ago, I read a parody by Phillip Jose Farmer that considered what Edgar Rice Burroughs's character of Tarzan would have been like if written by William Burroughs (it was first published in a porn magazine and Farmer estimated that less than 0.01% of the readers got the joke). But what if, instead of Allen J. Singer, Nathan Singer had written about the subway?

A Prayer for the Cincinnati Subway


Wednesday, January 28, 1920: This is truly a glorious age—a steam-shovel bites into the earth, and, to roaring applause, the Cincinnati Subway is born.

Cincinnati Subway, "Why couldn't I be someplace cool?"

Every joy, every sorrow, every wonder, every terror, every desire of the city lies hidden in its tunnels, in its history, in its construction, in its darkness. Do we embrace its glory . . . or do we simply lock it away?


1905: Boss Cox gloats over his personal playground which is the city of Cincinnati. More than a mayor, Cox is a living maelstorm—all greed and lust flows through his pockets, swept into power by the unfortunate events of nearly twenty years ago.
Subway, "What has this got to do with me?"
Just wait.


1884: Cincinnati riots. Following the conviction of one William Berner on a lesser charge of manslaughter, mobs convene on downtown Cincinnati, thirsting for blood.
Gatling guns tear into civilian flesh.
Fire licks into buildings, public and private.
The mob roars bloody anthems:

"Tear down the jailhouse! String up Berner!"
"Hear, hear!"
"Set City Hall afire!"
"Hear, hear!"
"Tear apart the jail brick by brick!"
"Let's blow up Mt. Rushmore."

[uncomfortable silence]

"Um, it hasn't been built yet."
"Oh, right. Well, what about the Tyler Davidson Fountain in the square?"
"Not until 1929."
The morning after the great Cincinnati Courthouse riots, 56 men lay dead, blood congealed in fly-covered puddles, ashes and shards of glass mingled in the gutters. All was a lull until—


1929: KER-BOOM!!!
"Oh dearest God! The fountain!"
The old Boss Cox Republican machine has fallen dead. New politicians vow to clean up the cesspool of corruption. Lost in the revolution was the Subway.
Subway, "Hello! Cars! Traffic! Don't worry about paying for things in the future. Just put some money in private accounts and the stock market will provide for everything."


1962: After decades of plans and dreams, defeats and schemes, the fathers of the city bring a use to the Subway.

"If the Reds nuke us, we'll all go down and hide out."

Subway, "Even I think that's fucking stupid."

The provisions of the underground fallout shelter drift away with dust and vandals and erosion and time.


2003: The Cincinnati Subway is alone, defaced, dismissed and largely forgotten, its tunnels still span the downtown streets, its doors bolted and barred, a dusty hell in a world of immortals. Press your ear against the asphalt and—if you're not run down by a bus—you'll hear the Subway's subterreanean wail.
Subway, "Wahhh!"
Forever incomplete, the Subway is an eternal child, but a child so hideous and deformed, her parents buried her beneath the earth, never to gaze upon the sun.
Subway, "Wahhh!"
No more shall the once—
Subway, "Hey, I just figured it out!"
What are you talking about?
Subway, "You're me! Me from the future."
Bet you didn't see that coming. Heavy mind-bending shit, huh?
Subway, "It's kinda like Titanic , how the old woman in the present is Kate Winslet in the past."
No, you stupid fucking idiot, it's nothing like Titanic . That was a crude narrative framing device, already dusty when Chaucer used it in Canterbury Tales . This is a post-modern thrash reinterpretation of not just the narrative process but the very nature of story-telling itself.
Subway, "Oh. You know, I really like Kate Winslet's breasts."
So do I. In fact, in a sense, they symbolize the situation here. Being an unfinshed construction, it should be easy to see that—


Monday, May 23, 2005

No More Class

The NKU summer class is still up in the air but I just finished my last Monday UC Clermont English Composition II class. We met nine times (thanks to Memorial Day), averaged about five students a night (out of 12), and had only two students who turned in work on time.

One of the students told me tonight that he had a friend killed recently in Iraq. I hope no one would lie about it but I can see that becoming a new variation of "my grandma died." If I caught a student in a lie about that, I wouldn't feel bad about failing him.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Satan's Force

Via Museum of Hoaxes, I might have bought this except for the R2D2 graphic.
Possible Class

I might have a summer class but Norse Express (the official NKU web service) still says I don't. Yesterday the campus bookstore contacted me about a textbook for a class I'm not supposed to teach. The summer class I taught last year recharged my drive to keep teaching so I'll be happy if it turns out I have one but I wish they'd make up their minds.

Apparently some of the full-timers didn't fill their classes and are poaching from part-timers (at this level, it pays to have a union). If Priceline.com offers a good enough deal to one of them, maybe my class will come through. I doubt if they'll hurry on my account.
The Aristocrats

Does anyone know the joke called "The Aristocrats"? Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller and comedian Paul Provenza made a documentary of 101 comedians telling the joke in their own style.

George Carlin, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Eric Idle, Gilbert Gottfried and (singled out as being most offensive) Bob Saget take turns telling it, which theoretically will provide insight to the creative process. (I have alerted Brad Thacker for an insider's pov.)

It's unrated (to avoid NC-17) due to language. Penn is advertising it with "No nudity. No violence. Unspeakable obscenity." No matter what they do, I'm sure some jackass will take his kids to see Mork and Whoopi and go screaming to the media.
Voodoo and Scooby Doo

I took Devilboy's sister to a birthday party this morning and one of the parents brought up Scooby Doo on Zombie Island. She said she didn't like it because the monsters were presented as real and because of "voodoo stuff."

I'm with her on the real monsters angle--having real ghosts in Scooby Doo (important real ghosts, not like the haunted bone at the end of "What a Night for a Fright") is like having the Amazing Randi endorse a psychic hotline.

But technically the bad guys in Zombie Island weren't using voodoo. They were using magic from their "Louisiana Cat God" which was similar to voodoo but without the loa and everything else that makes voodoo interesting.

I didn't mention it to her. I try to save this stuff for the web.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Scooby Doo Review

Yeah, this is just what you need-- long reviews of the full-length Scooby Doo movies. In case you're remotely interested, read on:

I haven't seen all of the Scooby Doo movies but I've probably sat through more than anyone who doesn't have kids (or doesn't live in a parental unit's basement). We've got DVDs for the first two seasons of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? (the good episodes) and the first installment of The New Scooby Doo Movies (the series where they team up with the Harlem Globetrotters, Batman, the Three Stooges, Speed Buggy, and washed-up real celebrities). I'll try to review those soon but here's the stand-alone movies starring Scooby Doo:

Live Action

Scooby Doo (the live action movie) 2002

Appearance by Scrappy: Yes (but actually one of the high points of the movie)
Romance: Shaggy & Mary Jane (rehash of an old animated character); Fred and Daphne; Velma and some guy in a Led Zeppelin shirt
Scully/Mulder: about 90% Mulder
Monsters: Assorted purple dog-demons, Scrappy, Luna Ghost (introduction only)
Kinky sex: Director Raja Gosnell is the kiddie version of Russ Meyer—to appear in his movies, a woman must exhibit enormous hooters (extras, Velma, Shaggy's love interest, Pamela Anderson) with the exception of Daphne (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar). Most porn flicks don't linger so much on cleavage. Plus, for transgendered fun, Fred, Shaggy, Daphne, and Velma repeatedly switch bodies and sexes (while in Daphne's body, Fred wants to look at himself naked).

Only a matter of minutes into the story, Pamela Anderson makes an appearance playing herself, setting the tone for the rest of the movie—fart jokes for kids, massive jugs for aging male Gen-xers. Rowan Atkinson's gives least funny performance of his life (although he's still the best thing in the movie). Freddie Prinze Jr. plays Fred as a narcissistic idiot who tried to compliment Velma by telling her she "turns him on" (more the fault of the writer and director than the actor). Of the cast, Matthew Lillard does an amazing job as Shaggy, and the CGI Scooby works well, but the rest of the cast acts like they won their roles in a poker game.

Scooby Doo II: Monsters Unleashed 2004

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Fred and Daphne; Velma and Seth Green (no sign of Mary Jane or the guy in the Zeppelin shirt)
Scully/Mulder: A decent blend of both
Monsters: The Black Knight, the Tar Monster, the Pterodactyl Ghost, the 10,000 Volt Ghost, Captain Cutler, the Zombie (from "Which Witch is Which"), Miner Forty-Niner, and more.
Kinky sex: Continuing with director Raja Gosnell's adoration of cleavage and transsexual transformations, plenty of stacked extras, and Shaggy drinks a potion and changes into a "chick" from the neck down (yes, a very well-endowed chick)

After the horrible first Star Trek movie, the director of the sequel went back to the original series and revived old characters hellbent on revenge. Raja Gosnell (or someone on his staff) did the same with the live action Scooby sequel, and while Monsters Unleashed is no Wrath of Khan, it's infinitely better than the first movie. The premise is that Coolsville (the city where Scooby lives, for you uninitiated) build a museum in honor of all the fake ghosts the gang has busted. A mystery man crashed the museum's opening, vows revenge, and brings the old monsters to life. Along the way, Shaggy and Scooby investigate a hangout for their old villains including Redbeard and the original Black Ghost.
Not a great movie but much, much better than the first.

New and Improved Scooby

Scooby Doo on Zombie Island 1998

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Scully/Mulder: 85% Mulder (Daphne uses the word "skeptic" as an insult)
Romance: A maid hits on Fred; Daphne flirts with the gardener
Monsters: Zombies, ghosts, cat creatures, pirates, lots of fakes (intro. only)
Kinky sex: Women (and old man) turn into giant cats (appealing to Furries, I guess)

After the team breaks up (same premise of the live action movie), they are drawn together to investigate what appears to be real monsters on a remote island. At night zombies begin to rise from the swamp. Instead of typical zombies, these undead actually had character and included fat tourists in Hawaiian shirts and cameras around their necks, Chicago mobsters, pirates, and soldiers from the Civil War. In the end, the zombies turn out to be good guys, trying to protect the gang from the real villains, cat/human creatures in thrall to their cat god (apparently French colonists of Louisiana worshiped pagan cat gods. . . just like Pat Robertson says).

This was the first "monsters are real" and updates the gang's clothes and model of their van. Nothing to write home about but better than the live action version. Mark Hamill did the voice talent for one of the characters, always a plus.

Scooby Doo and the Witches Ghost 1999

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Scully/Mulder: 60% Mulder
Romance: Nothing much
Monster: fake witch; real witch and warlock
Kinky sex: Voice talent by Tim Currie; Hex Girls (goth girl rock group)

The story: as a publicity stunt, a town conspires to fake a ghost based on a local witch. It backfires when the real ghost shows up.

The most notable thing about Witch's Ghost is its depiction of Wiccans. Wiccans are repeatedly described as good and noble, contrasted to the evil witch. Okay, I'm normally cool with that, but here Wicca is treated as a race, with one of the characters described as "one-fourth Wiccan on my mother's side." Am I one-quarter Episcopalian on my father's side? I got the impression that the writers wanted to appease Wiccans into not protesting the negative portrayal of witch but didn't want to actually spend any time on research. I can understand—I didn't spend any time on research for these reviews but I'm not getting paid for this.

Scooby Doo and the Alien Invaders 2000

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Shaggy and Crystal (hippy chick he meets); Scooby and Amber (her dog)
Scully/Mulder: Blend of both
Monster: fake aliens; real aliens; jackalope
Kinky sex: Shaggy envisions a tie-dye wedding to Crystal with a resulting Shaggy Jr. and puppies; old timer describes his probing by aliens

Probably the best "updated" Scooby movies, the gang's van breaks down in the middle of the desert near a town heavily trafficked by aliens. Both Mark Hamill and -- (the guy who does Dale in King of the Hill) provide voice talent. The key plot point is Shaggy's romance which leads him to burst into song, "I met a girl who says ‘Groovy.'"

Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase 2001

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Nothing much
Scully/Mulder: 90% Mulder
Monster: sentient computer virus; the Gator Ghoul, the Creeper, the Tar Monster, Jaguaro, and shark-surfing Iron Face.
Kinky sex: Scooby and gang are transported into a computer game, presumably with Internet access.

The premise is weak: Trapped in a computer game based on their old adventures, the gang needs to complete all ten levels to escape. The first nine are uninspired but the last brings them back to the old soda shop where they meet retro-versions of themselves and their old foes mentioned above. Maybe I'm more nostalgic than most but this made the whole thing worthwhile.

Retro Movies

Scooby Doo and the Legend of the Vampire 2003

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Minor flirting
Scully/Mulder: 99% Scully
Monster: Australian Bunyip which in folklore is a type of aquatic demon but presented here as a kind of vampire overlord; vampires
Kinky sex: Hex girls reappear

The first of the retro-episodes. The Mystery SUV is gone, replaced by the classic look. The clothes are back to the old style (with a slight change for Fred) and most importantly the monsters are back to being guys in masks. It was a break to get rid of the updated looks and lose the "monsters are real" motif but the solution to the mystery is so convoluted, it makes Murder by Death seem straight-forward.

After monkeying around for a replacement voice for Scooby Doo (Don Messick, the original voice, passed on a while back), HB had limited degrees of success. With Vampire, Frank Welker, arguably the greatest voice talent in the history of animation, takes over. Casey Kasem is back for the voice of Shaggy. Their commentary on the DVD is far better than the actual movie.

Scooby Doo and the Monster of Mexico 2003

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Not among the gang
Scully/Mulder: 100% Scully
Monster: chupacabra (which looks more like Bigfoot than cryptozoologist's descriptions); assorted Aztec gods and animal; fat guy in skeleton costume
Kinky sex: Daphne kidnaped and almost sacrificed in Aztec temple

A few funny moments but mainly blehh. Not terrible, just there (think The New Scooby Doo Show before the appearance of Scrappy but after Scooby Dum). It does point out a real-life fact that many cryptozoologists have failed to grasp—that Nessie, Bigfoot, the Yeti, and many other "real" monsters at least have roots in folklore, but the chupacabra popped up in recent times, probably the result of bad acid.

Scooby Doo and the Loch Ness Monster

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Nothing special
Scully/Mulder: 80% Scully
Monster: Nessie (duh)
Kinky sex: Uh, men in kilts?

One of the better retro-episodes, the gang visit Daphne's relatives in Scotland. Her family is desperately trying to shake their reputations. It seems it's not just Daph who is disaster-prone—it's the whole family. The gang is joined by a Kevin Smith-like character who rides around in a Mystery Machine knockoff, the Loch Ness Monster Machine. Although the monster menacing Daphne's family is proven to be fake, Velma and other characters give credence the idea of a real monster (which Scooby alone sees at the very end).

Aloha Scooby Doo 2005

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Not that I recall
Scully/Mulder: 100% Scully
Monster: Big Hawaiian monster, lots of little Hawaiian monsters, volcano
Kinky sex: You'd think with everyone on the beach and threatened with imminent death something would come up, but no.

Continuing with the bleh-level cartoons, Aloha will entertain kids for a few viewings before they get sick of it. Again, a couple of good jokes but not enough to make you open your wallet.

Old Movies

Scooby Doo Meets the Boo Brothers

Appearance by Scrappy: Yes
Scully/Mulder: 100% Mulder
Romance: Not that I remember
Monsters: Lots of lame ones
Kinky sex: Nothing so enjoyable

So bad I couldn't watch more than ten minutes. From what I saw, Scrappy leads Shaggy and Scooby around a haunted house. The second-worst of the Scooby series. I saw about an equal amount of Scooby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf (where Dracula turns Shaggy into a werewolf to force him to join an all-monster car race) but it was just bad, not hideously offensive like Scrappy and the Boo Brothers.

Scooby Doo Goes Hollywood 1979

Appearance by Scrappy: No (but so bad that Scrappy would have actually helped)
Romance: None
Scully/Mulder: Neither—nothing paranormal (beyond talking dog)
Monsters: Nothing really
Kinky sex:Only for intense masochists

This is one of the worst cartoons ever made (and I saw The Care Bear Movie). The premise is that Scooby wants to quit working on his old show to become a big star. He and Shaggy send horrible parodies of Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, The Love Boat, and assorted other pieces of crap to a television exec. Lots and lots of really bad songs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Once again,
Devilboy and Evil Dad

For the fifteenth Saturday in a row, Evil Dad is stuck watching Devilboy during one of his fiendish ceremonies. Little does he know it will go even worse than usual.

Evil Dad: Welcome my pretties for the last day of the rest of your lives.
Virgin #1: What, are you trying to sound like the Crypt-Keeper? Lame!
ED: Shut up you!
Devilboy (belches and knocks over an intricate obsidian statue)
ED: Oh! Old Navy stopped carrying those!
Virgin #2: Ha, ha, loser!
ED: Slog that pie-hole! Prepare to hear the true voice of evil.
Voice: You call this a fiendish ceremony, chicken-brain?
ED: Oh no.
DB: Grampy!
Evil Grampa: Half-assed effort as always, I see. And only sacrificing three virgins, eh Stinky? In my day, I had eight virgins skinned and boiled before I drank the day's first carbonated soda.
ED: Yeah, but it was a lot easier to find virgins before they invented sex.
DB: Gramp-gramp! (yanks his wallet from his back pocket and squeezes behind a filing cabinet)
EG: Why that little moon-beast! This comes from you trying to be a child's friend instead of clubbing him with a blunt instrument. Like I always says, spare the rod and spoil the fun.
ED: So, you've been posting over at Cincinnati Blog, have you?
DB: Um, muk-mulk.
EG: By blangedity! He's got my VIP pass to Cooters All Nude Lounge! Lemme give you a taste of belt leather, you scallyworg!
ED: I'd rather you not do anything that might cause disrobement.
EG (swinging belt): Take this!
Virgin #1: Owww!
EG: And this!
Virgin #3: Ugghh!
EG: And a little of this!
Virgin #1: Hey, hit Virgin #2 for a change!
EG: I'll fracture your skull and dislocate your joints until you learn proper family values! (pants heavily) My angina! (fumbles for his pockets)
ED: Devilboy must really like you. He hasn't stuck anything through your scrotum yet.
EG: Arggghh! My heart medicine! He switched it for tic-tacs.
ED: Dammit, Devilboy! Those tic-tacs didn't belong to you!
EG: Glack (falls over dead)
ED: Hot diggity, Devilboy! Help me drag him into the pentagram and we'll have four sacrifices in one day. . . five, if your mom drinks that coffee I set out for her.
DB: Brappp.
Virgin #1: Um, are you still going to kill us?
ED: Well, yeah but I won't enjoy it nearly as much (pulls switch; spikes drop from the ceiling, impaling the three of them)
DB: Belcha bloy!
ED: Uh-huh, I actually enjoyed it too.

Join us next week, when we'll hear Evil Dad say to Devilboy, "Hurry and help me clean out his garage before your aunties and uncles find out."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Proof Cecil Adams is One of Them

How much clearer does he have to say it?
Hero Formula

Just finished Robert W. Brockway's Myth from the Ice Age to Mickey Mouse. One of the most interesting points was from Lord Raglan's formula of the making of a hero in myth. The steps of the classic hero are:

- Prophecies of his birth
- Attempt on his life (usually by father)
- "Spirited away" and raised by foster parents far away
- Little or nothing is said of his childhood
- When he becomes a man, he defeats a king or giant or dragon or creature
- Becomes king
- Married princess (often the daughter of the old king)
- Initially uneventful reign
- He gives out laws
- Loses favor with gods and subjects
- Deposed and exiled
- Dies a strange and/or mysterious death (usually atop a hill)
- If he has children, they do not rule in his place
- He is not buried but has at least one sepulcher

Raglan gave the model a total of 22 points (not clearly spelled out in the book). Heroes that scored high were:

Moses 21
Oedipus 20
Theseus 20
Dionysus 19
Romulus 17
Bellerophon 16
Perseus 16
Jason 14
Pelopes 14
Zeus 14
Asclepius 12
Joseph 12
Apollo 11
Elijah 9
Siegfried 9

By my count Darth Vader scored a 16, Jesus 14, and Simba of The Lion King 11. If there's a perfect 22, I'd like to hear about it.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Witch Abuse

Going against the stereotype that the British are smarter than Americans, idiots abuse a young girl for being a "witch."

I'd throw in Monty Python references except it's just plain sad.

This, on the other hand, deserves a good mocking.
Ike's Quote

This showed up on Covington's blog a while back and I was skeptical if it was legit--well, Snopes says it's real.

I've been reading What Ifs? of American History (and that's the way the title is put together) and Eisenhower keeps coming off as a decent guy who just didn't understand the slimy aspects of politics. If he'd had more control of his administration, history might look a lot rosier (or, as the Twilight Zone teaches us, we could all be ruled by giant mice).

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Class Dissects Live Dog

Via Pharygula (who defends it), a teacher dissects a live dog in biology class. (Link changed)

Pharygula's argument was that the dog was to be euthanized anyway, it was sedated, and he experienced a strong sense of the wonder of science the first time he saw the working organs of a mammal. I would agree that all his points are legitimate but based on my experiences, this probably turned more students off science than it helped.

Unless this class was made of hand-picked AP students, I doubt if many got anything positive out of the experience. Judging on the students I've seen, most have more intense emotional reactions to dogs and cats than they do humans (I've seen girls look at battle field photographs from WWI and say, "Look at all the dead horses.")

There's not enough information given to say for sure but I would imagine this nudged students towards positions of "science-is-gross" and "scientists-just-hurt-animals-and-waste-tax-money." Distrust and disconnection from scientists could lead towards anything from acceptance of creationism to believing medical claims in spam.

I would not be against this if the teacher offered it as an after-school project but, unless the students in this school are completely different from kids in Ohio, I think this was a mistake.

Update: Okay, it was a substitute teacher who selected 16- and 17-year old girls to go on a field trip with him? Why am I now thinking there was more on his mind than just science?
Devilboy Update

I started on a new adventure but it was so disjointed that I decided to break it into three different episodes. Nathan suggested that I copy material to the forum of A Prayer for Dawn in case Blogger decides to pull the plug one day. If you're ever in need of an old episode, you'll know where to find it.

Back in the low points of Superman's history, his writers would ask kids what they wanted to see Supes do (this explains the "Cowboy Superman," "Supergenie," and "Giant Turtle Jimmy Olsen" issues). Any suggestions for DB?
Psycho Jesus in Transexual Paradise
(man, what a title! I wish I had better material)

I should have posted this as a comment on Stephanie's blog but I'm having trouble with Blogger and thought it would work as well here.

I'm not sure if I lent my alternate gospel book out or if it's buried under the mess but the Straight Dope has some information about the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

I mentioned over at Stephanie's that this Jesus was quick on the draw, killing anyone who looked at him the wrong way. I'd forgotten his take on women in heaven--there aren't any (kinda does away with the motivation to fly into a skyscraper, don't it?)

Instead of allowing women inside, Jesus will rearrange their plumbing. Why we'll need genitals at all in heaven is never revealed but even the idea of Jesus offing his critics isn't as disturbing as transforming his mother into a man.

You do have to wonder why some group doesn't take hold of this version.
Response of Robert Schuler

A while back I sent out letters and e-mails to all Ohio reps and senators about library funding. A few sent automatic e-mail replies but Robert Schuler of the Seventh Senate District was the only one to reply by mail. He pledged to strongly support the libraries, despite what happened in the house. I'll hope for the best.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Return of Devilboy?

After being blocked for eons, I finally made it over toA Prayer for Dawn and saw Nathan recommended the Devilboy series. (Actually I know I've been over there since he posted it but I must be more scatter-brained that usual.)

Is anyone still remotely interested? Using him for inspiration would make it easier when he breaks things.
Rapture Rules

Via Snopes, The Left Behind crowd makes moronic claims about "rapture policies." Apparently it makes them feel better to think that someone takes their idiotic view of scriptures seriously.

For all the flack I'm giving the church over the recent wave of goodwill towards pedophiles, at least they hold the Rapture is a grave misunderstanding by simple minds.

Classic rapture rumor.
Area Catholics Speak Out

These letters ran back to back in today's Enquirer (the one in response to the same article as yesterday's). The message: "We will not tolerate lesbians successfully raising children but we demand priests be able to rape them without interference by greedy lawyers."

Article about two moms outrageous

I am outraged by the Mother's Day article on Reds pitcher Joe Valentine ("Red proud to be raised by 2 moms," May 8). Although this article wasn't very opinionated in judging the morality of homosexuality, the very fact that this article was published condones homosexuality.

I would like to remind the author of this article that there are more than 500,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati alone. I can assure you from a Christian perspective that we will not stand for such atrocious articles the condoning of morally unacceptable behavior.

In these modern times of relativism and hedonism, I challenge all the faithful to take a stand for your Christian values from which this country was founded on and rebuke those who denounce them.

Brian Maguire

Catholics must fight change in law

Regarding the article "Bill would give them more time to sue church" (May 7): It is interesting that Christy Miller, co-leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), is upset that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is opposing a law that would allow 35 years for victims of abuse to sue the church. The people are the church. We are the ones who put our hard-earned dollars into the collection basket. We are the ones who will pay for a change in the law. Miller wants 35 extra years to take our money. The SNAP gang does not want justice; they want to bankrupt the church. All good Catholics need to fight this attempt and ask their representatives to defeat the bill that would change the law.

Tony Pagano
Green Township
Poetic Forms

Here's a list of poetic forms and their corresponding figures from mythology. I didn't realize until I wrote it all out that Greek/Roman myths dominate the project. Anybody know any good obscure gods?

Abecedarian (aka Abecedarius; reference to Alphabestiary) [Multiple]
Acrostic for Antaeus (references to double, triple, and Poe's diagonal acrostics) [Greek/Roman]
Anacreontic Verse for the Acephali [Greek/Medieval]
Antiphon for Antigone [Greek/Roman2]
Anagram for Asterius (the Minotaur) [Greek/Roman3]

Bref Double for the Blemmae (reference to sonnet) [Medieval]
Bdelygmia of Briseis [Greek/Roman4]
Ballade of Bia (references to the double ballade, the double ballade supreme, and the double refrain ballade and the completely unrelated ballad) [Greek/Roman5]

Carmen Figuratum for Caca [Greek/Roman6]
Cthulhu's Complaint (references to lament) [Lovecraft]
Calligrame for Cerebus [Greek/Roman7]
Calligram for Circe [Greek/Roman8]
Clerihews for Chi Lung Wang and Chin Chia (possibly more) [Chinese]
Concrete Poem for Caenueus/Caenis [Greek/Roman9]

Dithyramb for Dagonet [Arthurian]
Descort for Dracula (aka logaoedic or ibycean form) [Modern]
Dirge of Dead Gods (reference to elegy) [multiple, mainly British/Celtic] unfinished
Dodoitsu from a Doppleganger (reference to haikus and other Japanese forms) [European]

Epistle to Evan Parker [Modern]
Epitaph for Erysichthon (reference to elegy) [Greek/Roman10]
Eclogue for Epona (reference to pastorial) [Celtic2] unfinished
Ethere for Ehecatl (reference to reverse and double etheres) [Aztec]

Flyting Between Fuath and Fachan [Scottish and Irish]
Forensics for Finn (references to Spanish pregunta, Japanese katauta and mondos, and Scottish Flyting) [Celtic3]
Fabliau of Frey and Fu-Ts'ang [Norse and Chinese2] unfinished
Found Poem for the Furies [Greek/Roman11]
Fourteener for Fafnir [Norse2]

Gargarensians' Georgics (references to idylls and pastorals) [Greek/Roman12]
Ghazal for Gilgamesh [Sumerian]
Goliardic Verse for Gucumatz [Mayan]
Gnomic Verses of Garm [Norse3]

Hendecasyllabic Verse for Hipponoos [Greek/Roman13]
Huitain for the Hecatoncheire (aka Monk's Tales Stanzas) [Greek/Roman14]
Hudibrastic Verse to a Harpy [Greek/Roman15]

Idyl for an Ichthyocentaur (references to eclogue, bucolic, and epics) [Medieval2]
Incantation for Ixquimilli [Aztec2]
In Memoriam Stanzas for Iphicles [Greek/Roman16]

A Jingle for Janus [Greek/Roman17]
Jingoism for Jurapari [Tupi (Brazilian)]
Jeremiad for Jinshin Uwo [Japanese]

Kommos for Kullervo [Finnish] Unfinished
Kyrielle for Kronus [Greek/Roman18]
Kunstmarchen for the Kraken (reference to Volksmarchen) [Medieval3]

Limericks (reference to madsongs) [Multiple]
Little Willies for Laius, Lara, and Lycurgus (reference to grues) [Greek/Roman19]
Luc Bat for a Lycanthrope [Universal]

Monody for a Manticore (reference to elegy) [Indian]
Macaronic Verse for Minos (references to limericks and Nudelverse (Noodle verse)) [Greek/Roman20]
Mondos for Macuilxochitl, Mictlantecuhtli, Modi, and Magni (reference to katautas) [Aztec3 and Norse4]

Nasher for Nakaa [Micronesian]
Nursery Rhymes for Nike, Nix, Nergal, et al (references to gnomic verse, nonsense rhymes, and old nursery rhymes including "A woman, a spaniel, and a walnut tree/The more you beat them the better they be." [Multiple]
A Nonet for Nessie [Scottish]

Ottava Rima for Orpheus [Greek/Roman21]
Obsequy for an Oxyrhynchus [Egyptian]
Ode to Ouroburus (references to Pindaric Ode, Horatian ode, English ode, and
palindrome) [Medieval4]

Palinode of Pellervoinen (reference to ode) [Finnish2]
A Pantoum for Pilate (reference to crambo poetry) [Roman/Christian]
Parody for the Peluda [Medieval5]

Quintet for Ques (reference to cinquain) [Greek/Roman22]
Qasida for Quinctius (Cincinnatus) [Roman]
Quatern for the Questing Beast [Arthurian2]

Riddles for Remus [Roman2]
Rondeau for Ragnarok (references to rondeau redoubled, rondel, rondel supreme, rondelet, and rondine) [Norse5]
Rispetto for Raiko [Japanese2] Unfinished
Rictameter for a Roc [Arabian]

Sijo for a Sphinx [Greek/Roman23]
A Sestina for Sisyphus [Greek/Roman24]
Sextilla for Sedna [Inuit]
Sonnets for Superman (variations of sonnets, including a crown of sonnets) [American]

Tyburn for Tarasque [French]
Than-bauks for T'ao T'ieh (reference to epigrams) [Chinese3]
A Terzanelle for Tantalus (references to villanelle and terza rima) [Greek/Roman25]
Triolet for Thoth (reference to villanelle) [Egyptian2]

Ushin Renga for Ursa Major (references to renga in general) [Greek/Roman26]
Uta for Ukemochi (references tanka) [Japanese3]
Ubi Sunt Uther Ben [Celtic4/Welsh]
Univocalic Verse for Urus (reference to lipogram) [Medieval6]

Vers Libre for a Vegetable Lamb [Medieval7]
Villancico for a Vishap [Armenian] Unfinished
A Villanelle for the Vouivre [French2] Unfinished
Virelay for Volupta [Greek/Roman27]
Verfremdungseffekt for Vainamoinen (reference to alienation effect) [Finnish3] Unfinished

Weltschmerz for the Windigo (not technically a form but a literary term) [Algonquin]
Whaitiri's Weltanschauung (not technically a form but a literary term) [Polynesian]
Waka for the Wooden Horse (reference to tanka) [Greek/Roman28]

Xeniens for Xanthus, Xochiquetzal, Xuthus, et al (references to distiches and epigrams) [Multiple]
Xenogamous Verse for Xenodice (made up form; references to ode, acrostic, and ottava rima) [Greek/Roman29]
X-Ray Poem for X the Unknown (reference to acrostic) [Modern]

Yuriwaka's Yarn [Greek-Japanese] unfinished
Yenga for Yggdrasil [Norse6]
Yueh-fu for the Yukionna [Japanese4]

Zejel for a Zombie [Haitian]
Zeugmatic verse for Zhang O, Zhong Kwei, and Zoroaster (made up form) [Chinese4 and Persian]
Zajal for Zagreus [Greek/Roman30]

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Just Forgive

The following letter appeared in today's Cincinnati Enquirer:

Forgiveness doesn't require payment

Regarding "Bill would give them more time to sue church" (May 7): I have prayed for healing in the lives of the victims and priests involved with the sex abuse scandal. I beg of those who were victims to please remember the words of the Our Father, where we ask God "to forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

I do not think that one needs to be paid to be able to forgive. Do not allow allegations to go back 35 years, or else the hurt that you feel will be the hurt that is inflicted on all members of the archdiocese. Every lawsuit is pushing the archdiocese closer and closer to bankruptcy. Please find it in your hearts to forgive.

Gerry Elfers, White Oak

As a former altar boy at Guardian Angels Church, I had the good fortune of not meeting up with the now famous Father Cooley (go ahead and say it--the first of many who didn't want to have sex with me). I knew one of his victims and have heard another publicly speak about not just the abuse that Cooley gave him but the way the church tried to force him to keep quiet.

I've written a reply to Mr. Elfers. I doubt if the Enquirer will run it so here it is:

I'd like to second Mr. Elfers' ("Forgiveness doesn't require payment," May 11) views that victims of the Archdiocese's pedophile priests should forgive, forget, and keep their yaps shut. But is that truly enough? Is it fair to forgive a network of child rapists and not forgive someone who is their spiritual brother? Shouldn't we also forgive Osama bin Laden? Sure, he masterminded the murder of thousands but, as Mr. Elfers points out, that was a while back. Who are we to throw stones? Let's invite Mr. Laden into our group hug with the pedophile priests and their pimps in church hierarchy. After all, the recidivism rate for a terrorist is no higher than that of a child molester, and pursuing any sort of justice only makes life harder for the guilty party.
Everything You Didn't Need to Know About the USA

I picked up Karen Farrington's Everything You Didn't Need to Know About the USA. It was entertaining but had a few flaws.

Points of Interest

Best Years of Hollywood: according to a survey of movie critics, the following years produced the best American movies:

1939: Beau Geste, Gone with the Wind, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Gunga Din, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights

1974: Chinatown, The Godfather II, Murder on the Orient Express, The Man with the Golden Gun

1946: The Best Years of Our Lives, The Big Sleep, It's a Wonderful Life, The Killers, My Darling Clementine, Notorious, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Song of the South

1941: Citizen Kane, How Green Was My Valley, The Lady Eve, The Maltese Falcon, Sullivan's Travels, Suspicion

1957: The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Enemy Below, Sayonara

1971: A Clockwork Orange, The French Connection, The Last Picture Show, McCabe and Mrs. Miller

1940: Fantasia, The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Dictator, Rebecca, Pinocchio

1962: Lawrence of Arabia, The Manchurian Candidate, To Kill a Mockingbird

1942: Casablanca; Cat People; The Magnificent Ambersons; Now, Voyager; To Be or Not To Be; Yankee Doodle Dandy; Bambi

1955: Kiss Me Deadly, The Night of the Hunter, Rebel Without a Cause, Lady and the Tramp, Marty, Mr. Roberts

U.S. Shark Attacks:

USA (fatal) FLA HA CA
1990 19 10 2 4
1991 25 (1) 13 4 (1) 4
1992 24 (1) 12 8 (1) 1
1993 21 10 5 4
1994 32 (1) 24 4 2(1)
1995 45 31 1 3
1996 20 13 2 3
1997 31 25 1 1
1998 29 (1) 22 1 2
1999 37 25 5 2
2000 54 (1) 38 (1) 2 3
2001 53 (3) 37(1) 3 1
2002 47 29 6 4

Damn heathensTheodore Roosevelt was the only president not sworn into office with a Bible (according to the recollection of witness Ansley Wilcox). Franklin Pierce was "affirmed" with a Bible.

Some mistakes

The book claims Disney's The Three Caballeros was the first film to mix animation and live action in 1944. Not true: Winsor McCay's Gertie the Dinosaur depicted a live actor interacting with an animated dinosaur in 1912 and even Citizen Kane included a scene blending live action and animation (Kane and the bat).

The category of songs about states includes "West Nashville Boogie" "City of New Orleans," "Streets of Philadelphia," and songs about "New York" that clearly refer to the city. This appears to be a real mistake because there is a separate category of songs about cities (which does not include "The Cockroach that Ate Cincinnati" or the theme of WKRP).
Evolution Proved a Fraud

Via Museum of Hoaxes, creationists tout a fishing rod in a rock as proof that Darwin was wrong. Could any parody make them look more stupid?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Amish Virus

You have just received the Amish Virus.

Because we Amish don't have any computers, or any programming experience, this virus works on the honor system. Please delete all the files from your hard drive and manually forward this virus to everyone on your mailing list.

Thank you for your kind cooperation.

Via David Holt and Bill Mooney's The Exploding Toilet.
Poetry Sources

I just wrote this as a comment over at Covington's and thought I'd drop it here to. My list of poetic form sources so far:

1 Adams, Stephen. Poetic Designs: An Introduction to Meters, Verse Forms, and Figures of Speech. (good but not spectacular)

2 Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. (good for what it was)

3 Baker, Russell, ed. The Norton Book of Light Verse. (kinda fun but not really helpful)

4 Barnet, Sylvan, Morton Berman, and William Burto. A Dictionary of Literary Terms. (functional)

5 Baron, Virginia Olsen. Sunset in a Spider Web: Sijo Poetry of Ancient Korea. (Sijo only but I really enjoyed it)

6 Deutsch, Babette. Poetry Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms. (functional)

7 Frost, Helen. Spinning Through the Universe: A Novel in Poems from Room 214. (Marketed to kids but more useful than some of the adult books)

8 Fuller, John ed. The Oxford Book of Sonnets. (Not really useful or enjoyable)

9 Gliori, Debi. The Doring Kindersley Book of Nursery Rhymes. (Nursery rhyme only)

10. Green, Percy B. A History of Nursery Rhymes. (same)

11 Gross, John, ed. The Oxford Book of Comic Verse. (somewhat useful; funnier than Baker's)

12 Hodgart, Matthew, ed. The Faber Book of Ballads. (Not really useful but interesting)

13 Kamens, Edward. Utamakura, Allusion, and Intertextuality in Traditional Japanese Poetry. (more critical than useful)

14 X.J. Kennedy. An Introduction to Poetry. (Good--made me go from disliking to liking Kennedy)

15 Lapides, Frederick R. and John T. Shawcross, eds. Poetry and Its Conventions: An Anthology Examining Poetic Forms and Themes. (Probably the best next to Turco's)

16 Lewis, D.B. Wyndham and Charles Lee, eds. The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse. (Not really useful but great to read)

17 Lipson, Greta Barclay. Poetry Writing Handbook: Definitions, Examples,Lessons. (functional)

18 Kathleen Morner and Ralph Rausch. From Absurd to Zeitgeist: The Compact Guide to Literary Terms. (not much to it but somewhat useful)

19 Opie, Iona and Peter. A Nursery Companion. (Nursery rhymes)

20 Padgett, Ron Ed. The Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms. (one of the most useful)

21 Paine, Jefferty ed. with Kwame Anthony Appiah, Sven Birkerts, Joseph Brodsky, Carolyn Force, et al. The Poetry of Our World: An International Anthology of Contemporary Poetry. (I'm glad I read through it but not really practical)

22 Stephens, Meic. A Dictionary of Literary Quotations. (I don't even know why I've got it on my citation list)

23 Strand, Mark and Eavan Boland. The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. (not bad but more limited than I would have thought)

24 Strouf, Judie L.H. Literature Lover's Book of Lists: Serious Trivia for the Bibliophile. (fun/functional)

25 Turco, Lewis. The Book of Literary Terms: The Genres of Fiction, Drama, Nonfiction, Literary Criticism, and Scholarship. (Turco's other book--better put together than The Book of Forms but not as useful)

26 —. The New Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics.

27 Untermeyer, Louis. The Pursuit of Poetry. (Personally I found more in Turco but still a good source)

28 —. The Forms of Poetry: A Pocket Dictionary of Verse. (Basically a 1926 version of his other book)

29 Wells, Carolyn, ed. A Parody Anthology. (Parodies from 1914, most don't hold up)
The Life of Dr. Seuss

Idle thoughts on Dr. Seuss & Mr.Geisel by Neil and Judith Morgan.

I'm not big on biographies so I might be the wrong person for this book. I enjoyed both Philip Nel's Dr. Seuss: American Icon and Charles D. Cohen's The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel because they focused more on the art than the artist. Dr. Seuss & Mr.Geisel was much more devoted to Seuss than his works.

Nathan Singer once told me that he didn't want to know anything about the personal life of Peter Sellers; he just wanted to enjoy his movies. Usually I'm of that mindset but I read this book anyway. I found a number of things to pass on:

During WWI, young Ted was chased and beaten for his German heritage. To prove his loyalty to America, he went door to door (notably on Mulberry Street) selling war bonds through his Boy Scouts troop. He became one of the troop's top ten sellers and, on May 2, 1918, was honored with the nine other boys in a ceremony hosted by Theodore Roosevelt. The first nine boys personally received their medals from the former president but the scoutmaster had miscounted and shorted Roosevelt a medal so he and Ted stood awkwardly on stage until TR loudly demanded to know what was going on. The scoutmaster shooed Ted off stage, treating him as if he were a stage-crasher, triggering, for the rest of his life, intense bouts of stage fright whenever he appeared before a large audience.

Dr. Seuss on English majors: "English and writing was my major, but I think that's a mistake for anybody. That's teaching you the mechanics of getting water out of a well that may not exist."

Ted worked on troop propaganda movies during WWII. Two of the films he worked on won Oscars for documentaries but all traces of both of them vanished after the war. Ted blamed the government.

Green Eggs and Ham has only fifty words, of which "Not" is used the most often (82 times) and "I" the second most (81). All words except "anywhere" (used eight times) are monosyllabic. And, although the book doesn't mention it, "Would you do it with a goat?" is the line most troubling and/or enjoyed by parents.

Dr. Seuss was the Ur-J.K. Rowlings. Where Rowlings is denounced by certain pea-brained Americans, Seuss was by Brits who claimed "rejection of Christian names gives him a misleadingly sinister sound." Regular British readers, like regular Americans, ignored the idiots and, after a slow reception, made him a best-seller. His books were used to teach illiterate English convicts to read—criminals refused to read regular beginners' books but even they liked Dr. Seuss.

Seuss tried to talk Stan and Jan Berenstain into dropping their characters, now known as the Berenstain Bears, after their first appearance. "Do something as different as you can," he advised. The Berenstains initially agreed but sales of the Bears book was so strong that they continued the series. As of 1995, over 165 million copies of the one-hundred-plus books have been sold in the U.S. alone. The video spin-off is quick to point out that it is the most popular series of books in history, including Harry Potter. I don't care. I've never liked the books and wish Seuss had talked them into doing something else.

The Butter Battle Book was judged as "too terrifying" for children and was at one point almost renamed The Yooks and Zooks. One editor wanted a new ending. Instead of leaving the readers hanging on whether or not the warring factions destroy the world, she wanted a happy resolution, "an illusion that I think children are entitled to have." A woman from Texas calling herself "a concerned Christian mother" complained to Random House that the book's message of peace was "the most blatant form of brainwashing" (years later her little boy became president of the United States. . . not really). Seuss was particularly proud that shortly after the video based on the book was shown in the Soviet Union, communism began to collapse.

After writing You're Only Old Once, a satire of doctors, Seuss began to write a similar book about lawyers. He found that he hated them so much that anything he wrote was too bitter and angry. He began a book about religion, even creating a protagonist named Archbishop Katz but never finished it.

First mention I've heard of Shannon's law: Humans absorb information in inverse ratio to its credibility.

I haven't read enough celebrity biographies to give a clear gauge of where this one stands. I didn't care for the passages about his vacations or marriages but the material about his writings made it worth reading.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Poetic Forms

I'm trying to put together a collection of poetic forms and was wondering if anyone knew any obscure ones. Squidpuppy brought up Lewis Turco's The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics which is probably the best source out there but even it doesn't cover everything. I'm hurting for forms that begin with "J," "K," "X," "U," and "Y" but I'll look at anything.
We Are Family

Found this through Snopes. I've got a huge post in the works about modern art. This makes for a good preview.

After all this time, still no clear word about my niece. The case is delayed until God knows when (which is good because the restraining order stays in place). My wife briefly talked to my sister-in-law. Apparently, she and the pervert are having troubles. I'm hoping they'll divorce and at least get him out of their lives.

My wife bent the rim of her back driver-side tire. (For those of you taking notes, this is the fifth costly accident since December 2003.) She's been driving my car and decided to play a Bill Hicks CD. I couldn't believe it but she loved it. (Maybe I should tell her about the hobos I have chained up in the sub-basement.)

I'm finished Intro. to Lit. at NKU and have two/three more classes of ENG 102 at Clermont (@Anderson). My summer ENG 291 class at NKU filled up, partially with students from Lit. but because some of the full-timers might have their classes canceled, the department is set to give it to one of them.

Devilboy is getting another battery of tests. Is it biological or is he really the Spawn of Satan? We should know in a few weeks.
Really Old Meme

I found this saved as a draft from April 9th. I have no idea where it came from? Anyone recognize it?

1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

I'm torn--Best of Penthouse Letters IV, Finnigan's Wake, The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told. At the moment, I'll go with The Hobbit.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

If you count characters in Bad Girl Comics. I can't be sure--I block most of my teenage memories.

3. The last book you bought was:

Lord, I can't even remember--I've been to the library too much lately. The annual book sale is coming up so I'll have a few more sacks to get to.

4. The last book you read was:

Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel : a biography by Judith Morgan. I'll probably post about it tomorrow.

5. What are you currently reading?

Brief definitions of all essential literary terms by Saad Elkhadem. I'm so lame.

6. Five books you would take to a desert island:

How to Build Sturdy Rafts, Best of Penthouse Letters IV, Which Parts of Pufferfish are Toxic, a really big book to throw at wild boars, and an e-book with a wireless Internet connection (with a really strong transmitter).

7. Who are you going to pass the baton to (three persons), and why?

I'm not sure of the context of this question. Send it to three other people? What's the pope's e-mail address again?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Kent State and WWII Revisionism

The other day over at Wes's blog (I'd link but the Blogger dashboard isn't working right) someone commenting as the Voice of Reason dismissed the Kent State shootings with "Take it easy there, Skippy. Granted Jim Rhodes turned the ONG loose on those students, it was a MAJOR brain fart on the part of that trigger-happy Guardsman and all of those who follwed suit."

Couple of facts about the shootings via the Cincinnati Public Library:

Shortly before the shooting, James Rhodes denounced the war protestors as "worse than the brownshirts and the communist elements. . . the worst type of people that we harbor in America." He wasn't alone in whipping up emotions among the guard and public in general.

Just before the shootings, the Guardsmen walked away from the protestors, turned IN UNION, and opened fire. Even pro-Guard witnesses report that the movement was as a whole, not one "trigger-happy Guardsman."

Initially they claimed they were responding to sniper fire but no bullets were found (or witnessed) and the sniper excuse was retracted. However, even today, "Voices of Reason" claim they were being struck by rocks and bottles but no guardsmen were treated for any type of injury and photographs show that at the time of the shooting, no student was within 60 feet.

Even more disturbing in Nathan's A Prayer for Dawn forum, a poster opened a thread about China's protests of Japanese textbooks sugar-coating their role in WWII. I've seen conflicting statistics but the one I've heard most often is that the Nazis murdered 7% of Allied POWs but the Japanese killed 47%. (There are plenty of conflicting stats but all agree that the Nazis were the lesser of the two evils.)

One of the current arguments in favor of Japan is that the events happened over 50 years ago. Imagine if a killer murdered one victim in 1944 and was sentenced to life imprisonment-- maybe the "long-time-ago" argument would fly at a parole hearing, but the Imperial Japanese Army killed, raped, and tortured literally millions of victims. If we'd keep a killer in jail for 50 years for the death of one person, I don't think the Japanese school system should gloss over war crimes just yet.

I can't imagine German textbooks leaving out the Holocaust and shrugging it off with "aww, it was a long time ago" (and isn't this an absurd argument for HISTORY texts?)

I can understand the urge for both Americans and Japanese to white-wash our pasts but to dismiss either war crimes or the Kent State shootings as "brain farts" is disgraceful.
Bathroom Inequality

I had to pick up some things at NKU and brought Devilboy's five-year old sister. The building was completely empty so when she refused to come out of the bathroom, I risked going in after her.

The women's restroom is almost three times the size of the men's. The men's is shaped like a square will two stall, three urinals, and two sinks. The women's room is shaped like a giant L with more sinks and a large mirror on one of the walls (I had to wonder about that).

I guess, with the ability to urinate while standing, I shouldn't complain but the bathroom was larger than the part-time faculty office (home to 49 adjuncts).
Devilboy: Real Life Update

Devilboy had a massive leak a few nights ago and while I was cleaning it, he almost pulled my computer off the desk. He's broken two disk drives, two mice, and a keyboard but this would have set a record. My school stuff looks fine but looks like I'll use library and school computers to try to do anything fast from now on.

He also knocked one of the hamster tubes loose, sparking a jail break but that was much easier to fix.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Snails Not Extinct

This didn't get much airplay in light of the big woodpecker discovery but three species of snail thought to be extinct have been found.
Are You Republican?

For what it's worth, I found this on Pharyngula. Are You a Republican?

I scored 40% but mainly gave goofy answers.
More Fun with Porn-Block

Independent Edge is blocked as porn but B+ Productions is not.

Who split that hair?
God Hates a Quitter

Straight Dope on the sin of Onan.

Not earth-shattering but it's kind of fun to do on a high school computer.
Anderson Blogging

I finished class early (six students)and had to scrounge about to find a computer that wasn't locked down. I'm supposed to have access to UC Clermont info but I'm not sure if they'd want me to have free access to every class in the high school looking for a damn computer to use. I'll live--three weeks until exams anyway.

Right now I'm using a computer in a science room that is much faster than anything I've used at UC or NKU. It still blocks A Prayer for Dawn as "Pornography" and the Onion as "Jokes, profanity" but for the pages Big Brother will allow, it's mighty quick.
Brother's Quote

Here's a fairly old quote (from last week's Newsweek) by Georg Ratzinger about his brother, the new pope:

"I am very concerned. I would have thought his advanced age and his health, which is not very stable, would have been reason enough for the cardinals to pick someone else. But the cardinals made their decision, and that is the will of God."

Has anyone else commented on the "not very stable" bit?

Monday, May 02, 2005

What is Porn?

The Anderson content filter blocks A Prayer for Dawn but happily opens up anything from Snopes (like this and this).

The computer I used earlier today at the library also blocked APFD as porn while other computers in the same library log on. It looks like I'm going to have to write these people a pornography primer.
Chupacabra my Arse

Note on the Snopes link below to the "Chupacabra": When Scooby Doo declares a monster a fake, I think it's time for cryptozoologists to throw in the towel. At least Scooby's investigation of Nessie came back inconclusive.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Best of Mike Royko

If you're ready for the anti-Bronson, pick up The Best of Mike Royko, a selection of his columns, from the first in 1963 to his last in 1997. Royko addresses the pressing issues of Czernina (duck blood soup) and sanguinaccio (a chocolate candy made with jellified pig's blood) as well as the death of John Belushi, a family friend who called him "Uncle Mike." Royko consistently wrote in favor of civil rights but was hard to classify politically. I remember a reader once wrote to him saying, "I've read you for years but can never figure out if you're liberal or conservative." Royko responded with, "Neither can I."

I haven't heard much of Bill Hicks (since I got home after class on Wednesday night, I haven't been more than 20 feet from at least one of my kids) but from what I've heard of him, he still sounds current. Like Hicks, the situations and even the names of Royko's columns stay up to date (thank you Daley and Bush).

A few are prophetic, like one from 1992, which chastised Republicans for attacking television and movies while supporting Arnold Schwarzenegger (and this was while he was just the chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports).

Here's just a few that stood out:

"A Shovelful of Bad Thinking" from July 20, 1970 - Royko reminisced about the ground-breaking of the Cabrini-Green projects and the effects it had on the city. Cabrini-Green is something, when you first hear about it, you don't really believe could exist. Even Hell has an internal logic that you just don't find in Chicago. I certainly never thought about Mayor Daley scooping out the first clod of dirt with his silver shovel. I guess I thought Cabrini sprung fully built from the bowels of the earth.

"Viet Verdict: Mostly Guilty" from November 1, 1972 - Royko compared the readers of Jacqueline Susann's craptacular The Valley of the Dolls and Bernard Fall's renown writings on Vietnam. "Those who preferred Fall to Susann and marched in the streets were labeled Commies, faggots, cowards, hippies, and bums. Those who stuck flags in their lapels and stood on the curb and jeered were patriotic." He noted that the only liberal who was generally admired was Ralph Nader because he didn't worry about the war, only about the quality of consumer goods.

"Woodstock Was Just a Muddy Memory" from August 15, 1989 - Contains one of the best descriptions of the Baby Boomers: "No offense meant, but that generation was the most self-centered, self-indulgent, demanding, pampered, ungrateful generation in this country's history."

"A Nose Rub of Sorts for Ditzy Word Jocks" from June 1, 1990 - This was about the time I first heard the term "PC." Royko confronted a "bad word dictionary" created by the University of Missouri which included "airhead," "burly," "dear," "dingbat," "dizzy," "fried chicken," "gorgeous," "jock," "lazy," senior citizens," and "stunning." I was surprised at "burly" (I've always connected that with "truck driver") but "jock"? You wouldn't think someone who would make up a list like this would think of "jock."

"Flag Foes Show No Real Burning Desire" from June 13, 1990 - Royko contacted the police in Chicago, New York, and LA and found that they have no record of a single case of flag burning although Senator Bob Dole was intent on passing such a constitutional amendment. Royko noted that Dole and the rest of the Senate refused to transfer $30 million from tourism promotions to Panama to investigate the S&L scandal. Royko raked Dole over the coals but a few years later voted for him over Clinton.

"It Didn't Take Long to Lose Euphoria" from April 23, 1991 - In response to the first Gulf War: "There's a lesson in all of this that our present and future leaders should keep in mind. When you fight a war, don't be too quick to declare it over. Even if you stop fighting, by officially remaining at war, you can keep the censorship going, herd the press pools like sheep, and filter anything that might upset the TV viewer's appetite. Remember, next time keep the lid on. No burned, freezing, starving, or dying kids."

"It Was Wrigley, Not Some Goat, Who Cursed the Cubs" - from March 21, 1997 (his last column) - wrote about the unrepentant racism in the history of baseball (not 1800s baseball but post-Jackie Robinson baseball). The bright side (from a Cincinnati perspective) if teams like the Cubs hadn't set such counter-productive policies, the Big Red Machine might never have come to be. Not much of a bright side but I grew up in the 70s.
Making Everyone Happy

One of Royko's columns really stood out: "A Hard Look at Mooching" from September 3, 1975 - In an open letter to Governor George Wallace, Royko pointed out that, for all the whining about welfare cheats, 11 states received $14 billion more in federal funds than they paid in income tax. All had once been part of the Confederacy. Unless things changed recently, this holds true today.

This made me wonder: why exactly do we want the south in the Union anyway? How about doing the opposite that China did with Hong Kong? Set a date and anyone still in the south after the deadline is officially expatriated. The south has been spouting off about rising again for the last 140 years. Maybe they need a little push.

I wouldn't expect the Neo-Confederacy to stay intact. For all the rhetoric, Jefferson Davis slashed states' rights beyond anything the Union even attempted. (North Carolina and Georgia wrote a protest but didn't do a damn thing about it.) I'm surprised Texans put up with it then and I doubt if they would now. I'd bet the Republic of Texas to secede in less than a week, probably followed by the People's Republic of Disney World.

The southerns would be happy to have what they've always wanted. The northerns would be happy with lower taxes and a surplus that could bolster Social Security. Kentuckians would be happy because either they'd have access to lower cigarette and liquor prices across the border or the commonwealth's economy would benefit from Confederates coming across to buy from them.

As a follow-up, Hawaii really sucks up tax dollars: how about auctioning it off to the Japanese or highest bidder?