Friday, August 24, 2007

Nas Is Like


Real hip-hop.

Information Stream: Yea, I Know, I Know

This is way, way late. I'm sorry nothing interesting has really happened today. Let's see what I've got here...

- In an ongoing series of events with the editing of Wikipedia by people who want to make themselves look better, it appears that the Prime Minister of Australia John Howard is one of those people. There's something inherently classy about making yourself look awesome on Wikipedia.

- Tell all of your irritating, pretentious hipster hip-hop wannabes that hip-hop is dead. It might actually save the game.

- The 2nd killingest guy in Texas History, George Bush, is now changing the rules on the Death Penalty because he hates you, the Americans.

- Joe Biden is the best candidate in the field, but why does the public hate him. McClatchy attempts to answer this questions.

- The Daily Show has pulled the wool over our eyes.

- History to Bush: Stop using us in vain! Hater.

I'm out of here on this.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

LNS: No Offense

I've been getting a lot of nonsensical comments as of late. I got one that was vaguely racist, but not completely racist. Then, I got one earlier that was either written by a stoner or an idiot, I'm not really sure. Whatever it was, it really wasn't a good thing either way. So, I ask if you are going to leave a comment, I'd appreciate a complete sentence or a reasonable argument. Saying that a Starbucks is war is not a reasonable argument, especially without substantive points from the article your are trying to defend.

I'm currently in the process of editing my RSS feed list because it is WAY too long. I spend way too much time reading news feeds. Today, for example, I was reading feeds for about four hours before even posting the blast. And, I hadn't finished. That's too much reading. So, I'm cutting back, only subscribing to feeds that I read regularly. Luckily, Google has a feature in its reader called trends where I can find out which feeds I read more than others. It has really come in handy in this process.

Anyway, I'm going to continue on with my Smiths obsession because this song got stuck in my head the other hour: William, It Was Really Nothing. If you haven't figured it out by now, I love The Smiths. And, I do mean love. I want to put a huge poster of them in concert on my wall.

Also, I just realized that Chach might be an offensive term. The way that I'm using it can be attributed to my Freshman English teacher and senior college advisor Mrs. Kathleen Glynn-Sparrow. If she finds this, I hope that she is doing well, and I haven't forgotten St. Andrew's nor her advice. Anyway, hello aside, Mrs. Glynn-Sparrow would always say chach for fluff. Primarily the phrase "you've got to cut out the chach." So, I always have had that word in my head for two reasons. The first being that it's hilarious. The second is that it's an effective term. I can specially use this word when I'm talking about superfluous information and facts. It's a good word to keep in your vocab. But, I've now found out that this word means douche, a word that I don't really use. I'm far more of a tool man myself. Anyway, I wanted to clear that up. Additionally, I was thinking about clarifying my position against reality programming, but I think that it would be redundant without doing weeks of research and grinding television watching. As well, it might also be a good idea for a longer, research-driven book. So, I don't want to burn myself out on the topic by writing on it all of the time on the old blog.

So, with my mind now empty, I'm going to go back to reading my book. Also, if anyone has a tip on a dope thrift store in the four-state area of WV-MD-PA-VA, let me know. I'd definitely like to hit it up because the one I went to today totally sucked.

I Was Going To Rail on Evangelists

But, I decided that might not be in the best taste. Instead, I am posting a link to a website where you can body up and sign a petition to free the Jena Six.

Be a real American and stand up against this case of discrimination.

Bands Reunite and A Possible Return

In my perpetual reading of the fabulous Best Week Ever blog, there were a couple of stories that caught my attention.

The first was about a list created about 25 Bands That Should Reunite. There are some bad choices on the list like Phish and The Grateful Dead. But, that's most based in my disinterest towards jam bands. Also, I'm not a huge Pink Floyd fan, who is the number one band to reunite. Talking Heads: I'm game to see them again, but I don't think that I want an album. David Byrne should just stay on his own and running Luaka Bop. The ones I would really like to see reunite are The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, The Misfits (with Danzig. They are touring nowadays in a bastardized form; they aren't the real Misfits), Hüsker Dü, Pavement, Black Flag, and the Cocteau Twins. That's about half the list, so that's not too bad of a list in my book, especially when I don't agree with most lists that I read.

Now, the other story was about American Gladiators. American Gladiators is possibly one of the best shows of the 1990s. Devoid of the tropes of reality programming, AmGlad featured pretty much what everyone really wanted to watch on television: attractive people getting hot and sweaty with each other. There was a lot of tackling and really ridiculous games. Anyone who watched had their favorite gladiators on the show (Mine were Diamond, Zap, Ice, Sabre, and Tower because he frequently referred to himself as the Tower of Power while talking about himself. The others were just totally awesome). That was also the other totally sweet part of the name: the gladiators had totally ridiculous names that made sense when explained but were strange on their own. When I was growing up, it became ritual to watch the show every week. In my area, it came on at 10 am with wrestling coming on at 11. Yea, I watched wrestling too, but that's immaterial to this story.

This all-American display of awesomeness is returning back to television
. NBC is reviving the old show as a midseason replacement. The only problem is that they are going to strip the show of its fun aspect, instead making it more like a reality show. Also, and against the traditional appeal of the gladiator contest as understood in Roman history, they are going to give the contestants the opportunity to train in the events before the actual event. This is preposterous. AmGlad was one of the best shows because it wasn't a lot of nonsense. You turn it on, and the first thing that happens is action. Hardcore, bone-shattering, dude-on-dude, girl-on-girl action. No chach. This was why I liked this show. I also watched this show because the contests had no idea of what they were doing. They didn't see the wall before the climbed it. They didn't know how to operate the weapons on the assault field. These things made watching the show just that much more fun. In the end, you didn't even notice that an hour had passed.

I will watch this show, but I hope that they let that hot sports action take the center stage instead of the background of the contestants, which I don't really care about. Actually, that's a primary problem that I have with reality programming. A lot of it is based around building characters and drama instead of letting the show's topic speak for itself. Call me a realist if you will, but I don't like fake drama. This will sound hypocritical as I watch a lot of Bravo reality programming, but I hate that aspect of Bravo programming as well. It was actually what drove me crazy about Top Design, season three of Project Runway, and season two of Top Chef: the fake drama created between the contestants. I just think that all of the emphasis on drama and less on the pure displays of talent and emotion are a bad strategy towards creating good television. And, this is coming from someone who has watched a lot of television in his life.

Information Blast: Slogging

I have been slogging through so many articles today that I feel like my eyes are going to start bleeding. Everyone decided to talk about the same things and bombard my RSS with the same articles. I have to spend some time cutting back on them, so I can actually read them effectively. After I finish this blast, I'm going to pay a visit to zen habits and learn about how to drop RSS feeds effectively. Word.

Wow, that song was terrible. Absolutely terrible. Anyway, moving on. There's not a lot else going on. If I come up with something, I'll let you know.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

There Goes That Idea

So, everyone pretty much assumed that disgraced quarterback Michael Vick would go to the Great North to play football during his suspension from the NFL. You know, to stay sharp and play in a style that he would absolutely fail in because passing is crucial in Canadian Football. The Canadians are not so receptive to this idea. It turns out that they actually have a rule against it. From CTV:

Forget about Michael Vick playing in the Canadian Football League.

Vick's speed and sprint-out style look ideal for the CFL, but the Atlanta Falcons quarterback at the centre of dogfighting charges will not be allowed to play in Canada if, as expected, he is suspended by the NFL.

A rule approved by the CFL in the off-season bars clubs from signing players who are under suspension in the NFL. The rule was adopted in response to the Toronto Argonauts' signing last season of running back Ricky Williams, who was serving a one-year suspension for drug use.

There you go. Michael Vick really will not be able to play football for years. Unless Japan has a national league, Vick's SOL. He might be able to play Arena where he will also get eaten alive because it is also a game that is reliant on passing. Whatevs. Vick can deal with that on his own. He fought dogs which is not as bad as raping a woman, which is what the media would make you believe. Dogfighting is bad, but it's not the worst thing on the face of the planet.

LNS: Words are Weapons

President Bush gave his speech tonight. Full of sketchy history, Bush makes specious connections between Iraq and the conflicts that America fought in Southeast Asia. It is important to note that America did not win any of the three wars that it launched in the region. Cambodia was an absolute failure, leading to the rise of the Khmer Rouge. Vietnam was a well-documented failure in which we lost many thousands of American lives needlessly. The best that we did was in Korea where we fought them into a truce. Actually, the war hasn't ended. A DMZ exists between North and South Korea. We got South Korea, but America got greedy and tried to take down the North which led to the truce. The only victories that we gained in the region were in Japan, and that was because we bombed the country back into the Stone Age with Fat Man and Little Boy in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

This is a fitting song for both sides of this misinformation battle. From their album The Las Vegas Story, this is The Gun Club on German television playing My Dreams.

If you have never heard of The Gun Club before, I suggest that you do so now because they are fantastic. Fire of Love is one of the best albums of the 1980s without question. The Las Vegas Story and Miami are also totally rad and amazing. I like Miami the most of all of their albums, but I think it is because I like really hollow production. It's the primitivist in me that likes non-oppressive production with minimal effects. I think that some of the sounds could have been recorded better on the album. But, the general ambiance is much more effective. Anyway, enough waxing technical. I'm out of here.

Land Speed of Animals

A study came out of England today about how fast dinosaurs were. They weren't faster than big cats. The fastest one goes 40 mph. That's about the speed of an ostrich. That's not hardbody, but I digress.

The headline of this story is about how a T-Rex could be David Beckham in a foot race. Now, this frankly does not impress me. I've never thought David Beckham to be the fleetest of foot. Now, if a T-Rex could be Ronaldo or Ronaldinho in a foot race, I would be far more impressed. Additionally, while I was thinking about people faster than David Beckham, I remember that Chad Johnson raced a horse. Then, I thought of it.

Chad Johnson. T-Rex. One Wins, The Other One Dies. Ocho Cinco is in a race for his life! Fox would have the best ratings of its history with such a stunt. It's way better than a gymnast hanging from a bar longer than a chimpanzee. Oh, I totally watched Man vs. Beast. Both of them.

An Update on the Jena Six

A while ago, I published a post about the Jena Six. To quickly recap the case, a black high school student asks permission to sit under the shade tree in front of the school, a place where the white students normally sit. The student plus a few more sit under the tree after being given permission. The next day, nooses are hanging from the tree in a clear allusion to the far-too-recent practice of lynching. This was written off as harmless. This event led to other black students been beaten by white students and harassed with shotguns. All of this happened without repercussion to the white students. Six black students beat up a white student leaving him with minimal injuries, so minimal that he could go out that night. These six students are being charged with ATTEMPTED MURDER.

The first one to go to trial was Mychal Bell. They tried to get him to plea, but Bell refused. His public defender was so outraged by Bell's rejection of the plea that he didn't even bother to launch a defense for him. Let that sink in for a minute. His lawyer sold him down the river because he was unwilling to listen to his client. As can be assumed by the outrage of the public defender, this was an almost-immediate conviction for Bell. So, think about that for a second, too. This guy jumped someone. This is, in pretty much everywhere else in America, a literal slap on the wrist. You pay some hospital costs and lawyer's fee, you are back to walking the street and getting wet with your friends by nightfall. You have to take a day off from work at most if you don't have a record, which none of these kids do. Even then, it's a year in jail at most. These kids could possibly spend the rest of their lives in jail for jumping someone. You need to finish reading about the rest of the new developments in this case over at the Black Agenda Report.

This case is only further proof that the American judicial system is horribly biased and in need of reform. I'm glad that Barack Obama feels that we are on the road to racial equality because I'm sure as hell not seeing it. Everywhere I look, I see laws and systems that are biased towards minorities, in particular Black Americans. I think this case is only further proof that Obama is seeing America through rose-colored glasses. His endless optimism is not well-suited for dealing with the realities that face Black America on a day-to-day basis.

Never Say Your Life Sucks Again

I think that my life sucks from time to time. I can't be awesome always. But, that said, I can look at the kid in this story and realize that my life really isn't that bad. I could have had this happen to me:

Five-year-old Youssif is scarred for life, his once beautiful smile turned into a grotesquely disfigured face -- the face of a horrifying act by masked men. They grabbed him on a January day outside his central Baghdad home, doused him with gas and set him ablaze.
Now, let's ask the question again. Does your life suck?

Someone Hates Starbucks. What else is new?

Stanley Fish is a well-known postmodernist. If you don't recognize the name, it just goes to show you how popular postmodernists are. Anyway, Fish apparently has a problem with coffee, in particular Starbucks. While he correctly addresses the faux intimacy and mass-produced sophistication in the Starbucks setting, the rest of the essay is where he loses me.

After entering the Starbucks, Fish is perplexed by the fact that he has to do what most everyone has to do when they go to any place of service: wait:

...First you have to get in line, and you may have one or two people in front of you who are ordering a drink with more parts than an internal combustion engine, something about "double shot," "skinny," "breve," "grande," "au lait" and a lot of other words that never pass my lips. If you are patient and stay in line (no bathroom breaks), you get to put in your order, but then you have to find a place to stand while you wait for it. There is no such place. So you shift your body, first here and then there, trying not to get in the way of those you can't help get in the way of.
Sure, these people with their phrases and their sheer hatred for coffee* suck, but come on, Fish. Have you never had to wait in a three Michelin star restaurant for the next part of your seven-course meal because I know you eat seven-course meals. Maybe only on special days, but Fish has definitely had one.

Actually, Fish's preference towards fancy meals has led him to become used to not servicing himself. Fish has become used to being served everything the way that he wants it, as he also expresses bewilderment at the service counter. You know, that thing you go to when you want to put stuff in your coffee like sugar or cream if you are a plebeian and got a regular cup of coffee or add that extra bit of cinnamon to your non-coffee drink (see star above for explanation). This preference towards fancy meals has led Fish to also become bewildered by the concept of setting your coffee down while doing all of the modification to it.

As this all seems, Fish, even though he's totally loaded, complains about spending three bucks and up for a cup of coffee. Fish complains because he feels that the servers should actually make his coffee the way that he wants it, especially if he is paying three dollars for it. If Fish weren't trying to be bougy, he could just go to Dunkin' Donuts where they actually make your coffee the way you want it for about half the price. There's also this new thing called a coffee machine. Fish might want to invest in one of those as well. But, wait, he doesn't do work. Coffee machine out then. Whatever was I thinking suggesting that Fish do his own work.

This old man complaint continues on into the realm of paying for stuff with credit cards. The great ease offered to him by swiping his card while his groceries are being rung up is apparently too much for him to handle as Fish also rails against this process. He calls it "shifting the burden of labor to the consumer." I call it being an asshole who is too lazy to push a couple of buttons.

As you can well sense, this is one of the worst op-eds ever written. Fish makes old people, postmodernists, coffee drinkers, lawyers, and intellectuals all look bad in the space of 753 words. Quite the impressive feat. If this weren't enough, Slate piled on as well with a cutting piece of satire on this editorial.

*People go to Starbucks and get syrup and all other types of crap in their coffee. After a point in time, it stops being coffee and becomes non-coffee. The caffeine is still there, but the soul is gone because it has been masqueraded by foam, syrup shots, and whatever other nonsense people get in their coffee at Starbucks. Coffee and milk? Fine. I do it all of the time. I put milk in my percolated coffee. The two things were meant to be together. But, most of the drinks at Starbucks are overly sweet and sugary. They are, essentially, coffee for people who hate coffee. If you are wondering about whether you fall into this category, you hate coffee if you can't drink anything but specialty drinks from Starbucks. Period. If you cannot body up and drink a simple cup of coffee either black, with milk and/or a teaspoon or two of sugar then you hate coffee. If you can't drink an espresso with a couple of cubes of sugar to cut the bitterness, you hate coffee. There's no two ways around it. Fancy presentations are only the sign of a luxurious disavowal of the obvious. I like a fancy coffee from time to time, but I also like coffee I get from donut shops more. But, that's also because I can get it for cheap and am not a coffee snob; I drink whatever I can put in my cup. If you can't appreciate a well-made cup of simple coffee, then you hate coffee.

Information Blast? No.

I have some substantial posts on their own. I don't need to blast them at you. I will say this on the other hand. I was reading about Heath Shuler voted for the expansion of FISA to allow the Bush administration to do pretty much whatever they want. Seeing as I was against giving them such grand expansive powers, it only raised my ire for him once again.

If you are not from Washington or New Orleans and/or a huge football fan, you probably have no idea of who Heath Shuler is. Currently, Heath Shuler is the representative for the 11th Congressional district of North Carolina, the place that he retired to once he finished his football "career". I say "career" because Shuler was one of the worst quarterbacks to ever step onto an NFL field. He's only second to Ryan Leaf as one of the major quarterback busts of all time. Shuler was a fantastic college quarterback. He led a very successful Tennessee team before Peyton Manning came on board to do the same although neither won the dreaded big game.

Shuler's raw collegiate level talent led to many NFL teams thinking that he would be a good professional quarterback, someone to lead the team into the future. With this as his thinking, Charlie Casserly, the then-GM, decided to spend the Washington Redskin's first round pick (Third Overall) on Shuler in 1994.

He held out at the beginning, which did not make him a fan favorite when he got to D.C. When he got around to playing, expectations were high because of the holdout; everyone wanted to see if he was worth the wait. It turned out that he wasn't. Shuler was a terrible quarterback. He had no field presence. He couldn't control a game. He was the epitome of the black years of the Redskins. If you look it up on Wikipedia, there is no history of the Redskins from 1993 when Joe Gibbs retired to 1997, the year of Daniel Snyder's purchasing and subsequent wrecking of the team (Snyder is the reason that I am not a Redskins fan anymore. The bad years were OK, but I can't stand that dude. I've been a Ravens fan since the Marchibroda days, and I have no intentions of looking back). They went through coaches. They went through talent. But, regardless of what they did, the Redskins just didn't get better. The best move they made during this period was getting rid of Desmond Howard and Heath Shuler leaving after a couple of years in the nation's capitol.

Now, I mentioned Desmond Howard as well. Following a successful campaign at the University of Michigan which netted him the Heisman Trophy (throw the stiff-arm!) in 1991, Howard was a highly scouted prospect. The Redskins ended up with him in their stable. He played three full years in the league as a featured receiver with the Redskins. He only got FIVE touchdown passes. TWO full years went by before he got a touchdown. People literally booed him when he caught the ball. Everything evened out after Howard left because the Redskins drafted Michael Westbrook who, while frequently injured and short-tempered, was a far better receiver than Howard. Howard got the last laugh on the other hand because he actually won a Super Bowl after leaving D.C. Yea, after the win in Super Bowl XXVI where Mark Rypien played one of the best games of his life, D.C. doesn't really have much to remember except for all of the failures. Someone is saying that D.C. United is the most successful club in MLS. My response to you is yea, so? Do you want me to care about MLS? I like soccer, and I don't care about MLS. I'll watch if I'm desperate, but I prefer the European and South American games more. It's more skilled and has better fluidity.

My larger ranging point before going off on that extended rant is that Heath Shuler still sucks whether he's in a suit or in a set of pads. And the fact that I don't have an Information Blast.

No Excuses

Friday Night Lights is one of the best shows on television. Period. There's a lot of good television, but this is one of those shows that no one is watching. With that in mind, the first season of the show has come out on DVD with a money back guarantee. If you watch the whole season and somehow manage to find the show terrible, you can go to the link and they will refund your purchase price. So, if you have been hesitating on watching it, you now have no excuse. The second season's starting soon, so you better go and get it now.

Wool Over The Old Eyes

President Bush will make an important policy speech tomorrow. In this speech, Bush will extol the need for America to keep fighting the war in Iraq as a larger part of the war against that slippery trick of Terrorism. Now, as you have had of realized by now even if you are a new reader, I think that the war on terrorism is as pointless as the war on drugs. But, I am not posting about this. I am posting a public service announcement about this speech.

According to the AFP, Bush is going to make a dubious connection:

"Many argued that if we pulled out, there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people," he was to say. "The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be."

"In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began a murderous rule in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died by starvation, torture, or execution. In Vietnam, former American allies, government workers, intellectuals, and businessmen were sent off to prison camps, where tens of thousands perished," he was to say.

This is a factually incorrect argument for the following reason. The departure of the American troops did not lead to the rise of the Khmer Rouge. The aimless bombing of Cambodia along with putting troops in the country led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge. Who did that bombing? The American government. In particular, the Nixon administration. I'd like to note that this is the same man who took us OUT of Vietnam. Additionally, Bush will mention that South Vietnam fell because America pulled out. This is also untrue because South Vietnam was a weak puppet state, one lacking the strength and organization of the North. Many South Vietnamese were fighting with the North anyway. Does the term Viet Cong ring a bell? Yea, thought so. South Vietnam was already going to fail. The troop pullout did not exacerbate this process in any way.

I post this because I don't want you to get the wrong information from the man who should be giving you the truth. A public service announcement from a comically named blog about media, politics, and esoterica.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

WE Must Stand For WE Hate Women

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of posts on Women's television programming. The series will run infrequently, when I feel I have enough information to make a decent post. Also, I will talk from a feminist point of view. I won't say that I speak for the concerns of all feminists, but I am speaking for myself as someone who wants all people to be equal.

So, WE is short for Women's Entertainment. This is generally true as much of the programming is oriented towards women, single but primarily housewives. That fact might be because I am watching the channel during the day, a popular time for housewives and new moms. Anyway, the programming on WE consist of pretty much three things: reality programming, syndicated sitcoms, and movies in that order.

Your eyes probably turned when you read reality programming, but it is far worse than you could ever imagine. We's reality schedule consist of shows that forward traditional ideas of what a woman should be: subservient, overly emotional are a couple of good terms. A good example of this idea is the show that I am watching right now American Princess. The teacher Jean Broke-Smith just told all of the women that they can't wear pants, boots, flip-flops, piercings, or tattoos because all of those things are perceived as unfeminine. This is after telling them all that they walk like men, and that some of them look "cheap" (her language, not mine). Later in the same episode, a woman comes to a cocktail party in pants and a gold halter top, which was a bit ridiculous to be fair. But, she has the right to wear what she wants. That's the American spirit.

Anyway, she introduces herself to the men who are running the party (surprise there) and one of the men comments "nice original outfit...for the rodeo this afternoon." This is not a snap; it is just offensive and misogynistic. But, the women will put themselves through this demeaning training so that they can gain the antiquated title of princess, as they have signed up for this show under their own volition. All of the outrage that I may have doesn't matter because there is a woman somewhere who is really into this show and its ideal although they should realize that the concept of being a classical term lady and liberated are in diametric opposition to one another.

Even if I could put the complaints that I have about this show away for a moment, I still wouldn't like this show as it is absolutely terrible. It is boring, over-edited, and cheap. They wanted them to buy a new they sent them to H&M with 200 dollars. I know H&M is cheap and all, but that's still not enough to buy a new wardrode. Also, there is way too much dialogue from the contestants themselves. The show does not let the event run its own course, create its own drama. But, this is not the case. Actually, writing about this show is making me nauseous, I have to move on to the behemoth of WE: Bridezillas.

So, as if you couldn't tell from American Princess, much of the programming is set out to reinforce the cult of femininity. This ideal is best shown through the program Bridezillas, one of a series of marriage-based shows (This includes, but is not limited to, the aforementioned Bridezillas, Platinum Weddings, Rich Wife, Poor Wife, Wedding Gown Secrets, I Do...Let's Eat, Wedding Central & Race to the Alter) that airs on WE. As I know that many women have no intention of getting married, I find it presumptuous to assume that women want to watch programming about an institution that means absolutely nothing to them. Additionally, it is offensive to women who don't live their lives in a fairy tale, who actually want to have a simple, justice of the peace marriage and save themselves the stress. But, I'm getting into niche complaints. I can get into a more general complaint talking actually talking about Bridezillas.

So, Bridezillas is a show that follows women who are getting married. As can be figured from the brutally unsubtle title, these women are monsters, highly demanding monsters dressed in tulle and silk. They make everyone around them irritated with their constant needling and excessively high standards. Actually, they make everyone's life miserable even people they don't know. I've watched episodes of this show where people are literally left crying because of the demands of the brides. The problems with this show are far too many to name. Along with promoting the idea that marriage is a capitalist institution instead of a union between two people who love each other, the show only helps to further negative stereotypes of women. As a group that has been so constantly battered, the worst aspects of them do not need to be shown on television to the amusement of other women or men, especially as this is a channel that purports itself to be empowering for women. Actually, watching the two shows that I have seen have not empowered me towards women. They've actually given me very negative impressions of women and femininity. If I didn't know better, I might believe some of what I've seen.

While this is definitely the worst of all of the wedding-based programming, I think that all of the wedding program is done in bad taste. What better way to destroy the psyche of all single people (this goes on both sides of the aisle) than to constantly show programming about the one thing that will not be happening to us: a marriage. But, not just a marriage. Oh no. An elaborate, expensive, glamorous wedding. Going through the machinations of such an event is awful to watch and presents stereotypical views towards women, suggesting that women don't really live in the real world and are clouding their minds with quaint notions of femininity.

There is only one show that doesn't cast women in a negative light, and it's not She's Moving In, an interior design show with a woman and a man coming together and suiting one another. By suiting one another, I mean the woman (it is women's television, and the home is the woman's palace!), disregarding the interest of the men. This show also reinforces the idea that women are bossy and must impose their will on their partner instead of respecting their partner as an equal and taking their perspective into account. It also makes the assumption that all women love to clean and that all men are complete slobs, neither of which are true. But, I'm getting away from my point. The show that actually puts women in a positive light is Wife Mom Bounty Hunter, a show that follows a female bounty hunter as she balances her work and home lives. It's actually a good show and doesn't cast women in a negative light; it actually shows the reality of many married women's lives. For this show, I say Bravo! to WE. For all of the other reality shows, I say boo.

I can take care of the other two categories with the following statement: I understand that you hate women, but you can at least show them shows and movies that don't suck. I have yet to see a good movie on WE. I have yet to see a decent sitcom on WE either. The best one of both of these things is Dharma & Greg. D&G is not a bad show. I will admit that. But, I definitely don't want to want a marathon of it, which is usually how it is shown on WE. Kate and Allie and Hope and Faith are flat out terrible and I like Jane Curtin a lot from SNL and 3rd Rock. Formulaic with poorly written punchlines, I wonder if the executives at WE went, "Hey, these shows have women in them! We are a channel about women! Let's show them!" It wouldn't surprise me if they did. The movies are formulaic romantic comedies as well. But, their crappiness is covered up by putting them in a program called Cinematherapy. This show is hosted by generally hilarious Black guy Chuck Nice. Why he is hosting it? I can't say. But, I wish he wasn't. Every time I see him in an ad for this, it makes a small part of my soul die.

When it all comes down to the end, I think that WE is run by a man.* It displays the sensibilities of what a man thinks a woman would want to see, especially in comparison to channels like Lifetime and Oxygen which show a better rounded version of the female experience. Much of the WE programming is based around naive, outmoded ideas of femininity such as fairy tale weddings, considering the home as a palace, and tailoring oneself to traditional ideas. While there are some bright spots and suggestions that WE actually does care about women and things other than marriage, these episodes are few and far between. It is sad because women need more positive images than are being offered to them by Hollywood and other aspects of the world. Unfortunately, this channel is not helping in this cause by also reporting on the vain, self-obsessed celebrity world as well, which it does in full display on its website. WE is a disgrace of a women's channel and should be ashamed of itself.

*When I wrote that sentence, I didn't know if it was true or not. I was just guessing. After doing some minor research (read: going through the WE website), I found that two of the three executives are, in fact, men. And, it appears that they are the ones who control the purse strings.

Information Blast: Fuck it, Van Damme 'Em

Ace will blam blam 'em.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Order

I was going to write some new material, but that never materialized as I was watching Californication, which is pretty good if not a bit strange. Anyway, first thing that pops into my head as usual is music. The song I thought of was "This Time of Night" by New Order off my favorite of their albums Low-life.

This is the video for it. I'm out for the night. I'll post again tomorrow. Also, do not expect any sort of commentary about Michael Vick. None. I'll leave that to ESPN since they can't seem to run the NASCAR race in Michigan. Yes, NASCAR. I've watched it since I was about 16. I stopped in college because I didn't have the time to sit around and watch 4 hours of left hand turns. I have that sort of flexibility now.

The Funniest Sketch in Television History?

This is Black Progress from The Chris Rock Show. This shit actually is pretty funny. I'm a fan. There were a couple funnier ones, but, hey, blame the fans; they voted for them.

Information Blast: The Return With Quickness

My mind is occupied with trying to learn the ratios necessary for making an awesome marinade. I have a piece of steak that I want to soak in a stew, but I want it to have my own flavors. Unfortunately, I can't find out what ratios of things that I need. All I know is that I need a fat, an acid, and a flavor base. I can cover all, but I need ratios so my shit doesn't come out greasy or like a meaty pulp. With this occupying much of my mind, I have to make this information blast fast and effective.

Blast off!

A Respite From The Downers

Into the Groove - Madonna

Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode

The Soldiers Won't Stand For It

All I really have to say is OH SHIT! From the New York Times:

VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)
Yes, you are reading correctly. Those are TROOPS against the war. The 82nd has been based in Baghdad for a long time. These dudes know what they are talking about. You really need to read the entire article. And, I mean that.

Fuck Texas! Free Kenneth Foster!

Texas is a huge state that displays the best and worst of the American dream. Any young person with drive and ambition can make a name in Texas. You can be successful, rich beyond your wildest beliefs. You can drive big cars and live in big houses.

Unfortunately, Texas is still a state that can break your will, steal your soul, and, because of its history of vigilante justice and bad race relations, steal your life. This has happened before. As I have noted on this blog before, Shaka Sankofa was murdered by then-governor George W. Bush (who, btw, oversaw 152 executions. To put that in perspective, 398 people have been killed* in Texas since the reinstatement of the Death Penalty in 1974. That's a little more than one out of every three.) for a crime that no one can definitely proved that he committed. In fact, most information available suggested that he was actually innocent. In any other state, the court trial that he went through would have been considered unconstitutional. Period. Incompetent lawyers, unheard evidence, a complete lack of physical evidence, and the only thing that convicted him was one person who, in no way, could have led jurors to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Sankofa committed the crime. How does this sound like a trial in concordance with the 6th Amendment of the Bill of Rights? No, of course it doesn't. Unfortunately, this is common occurrence in Texas.

This common occurrence is showing itself again. Kenneth Foster, a 30-year-old man from San Antonio, is on Death Row because of an antiquated Texas law referred to as the "Law of Parties." The Law of Parties is:

Chapter 7.02 of the TX Penal Code [which] says a person can be criminally responsible for another’s actions if that person acts with "the intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense" and "solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense, whether the defendant actually caused the death of the deceased or did not actually cause the death of the deceased but intended to kill the deceased or another or anticipated that a human life would be taken". Furthermore, "If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed."
If you cannot understand the legalese, this law states that even if you are not involved with the felony, you can be convicted at the same level as the person who was. As you can figure by the fact that Foster is on Death Row, he received the same sentence as the man who actually committed the murder, Maurecio Brown, even though EVERYONE AGREES that he was nowhere NEAR the scene of the crime NOR involved in the crime itself. While I will not go to say that this man is a saint because he is not, he is not a man who should be murdered by the state of Texas. Foster was a petty robber. He has already served his time in jail as he has been there for ten years. But, I'm getting away from my point. Does the idea of being sent to death for a murder you didn't know was going to happen and, more importantly, didn't commit sound fair to you? No, I didn't think so. Unfortunately, Foster is most likely not going to be the last person who will be murdered under this statute. It is approximated that about 80 people are sitting on Death Row because of this law.

As much as this case has shocked me, I wanted to find out some more information about this case to get all of the facts straight. Seeing as the article I read at The Guardian came out today, I figured that there had to be some more information about it and at least some mainstream coverage. I went to Google News and did a search to only find 48 articles. 48!+ This man is about to die under a pointless law, and only 48 people could summon the strength to write something about it. But, this is not the dismaying part; that is the fact that Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has yet to grant clemency and is now the biggest murderer in the history of the reinstated death penalty as he has killed 158 people, is the person who will decide whether Foster lives or dies. Unfortunately, I think I already know his answer. The predicted answer tells me that Foster is scheduled to be murdered on the 30th of this month, ten days from now.

Cases like this drive me up the wall. I am all for appropriate punishment when it is clear that the person has committed the crime. I still do not support the death penalty as I feel that it is inhuman and prohibitively expensive. I also feel that it is a greater punishment to live with yourself and the fact that you have murdered someone instead of being given the out of being killed by the state after only a few years.

Even if you believe in the death penalty, it has to be applied correctly; the evidence has to show that this person is the one who knowingly and willingly killed another. Sankofa's case did not show this. Foster's case has shown that he wasn't even involved. And, honestly, I could talk about this even further because there is also a racial component involved in this case (LaHood: rich and white. Foster: poor and black). I will leave that alone because the factual aspects of this case are more than offensive enough without race considerations.

In the end, I know that all I can do is bring this case to the public and hope that people in Texas and America will take a stand against innocent people being murdered by the state. If you want to do something, go here. The link is to the site to Free Kenneth Foster. It has a cornucopia of information on the topic. Here is some more information. The Free Kenneth site allows you to send a letter to the legislators, governor, and board of pardons in Texas, which I have done.

While we might not be able to sway Perry, it is certainly worth a try, especially in such a fucked up situation. I also hope that this attention from people in the blogging world and the liberal activist sphere will bring the mainstream around to pay attention to such a hugely important case that impacts so many Americans. I know that it doesn't involve a pretty white girl, but freedoms are freedoms and they must be defended by all costs.

*I use the term killed in a rhetorical manner and as an expression of personal belief. I do believe that the death penalty is the killing of another person. I do not attempt to sympathize with people who believe in the death penalty. It is murder in my eyes. And, no, we are never going to agree on this one. Ever.

+It was 48 when I searched at like Midnight on Monday 8/20/2007. The numbers might have increased since my search. There is also a fair amount of webspace dedicated to this case, but still not as much as it deserves.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Yes, Another One

So, there was yet another debate this morning. I didn't watch this one as I slept until 1 in the afternoon (going to sleep at 4 in the morning can do this to you). But, the NY Times' bloggers did. I'm not going to lie to you: after reading this live blog, the debate sounds like it was pretty uninteresting and pedestrian. So, here is a Françoise Hardy video to make reading this post worth your while.

Afternoon Notes

Hello, hello. First things first, English Premier League is in full effect. This means that I get months upon months of Arsenal Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann fucking something up. First game back from recess, Lehmann fucks up a simple clearance. What happens? Fulham scores a goal. Luckily for Arsenal, they put up two in reply and won the game. Today, I watched Arsenal take on Blackburn. Along with being chippy, I'm proud of the Arsenal defense for actually standing strong and shutting down the Rovers. That said, Lehmann made this game into a tie.

During the second half, a player from Blackburn hits a strike from about 23-25 yards out. For the non-soccer folks, that's a bad shot unless you are one of the greatest players of all-time, which this guy clearly was not. I mean, let's be serious here. He wouldn't be playing for Blackburn if he was one of the best players of all-time. But, I digress. This hard but totally saveable shot comes in and what does Lehmann do? Fuck it up. The ball hit him in the hands!!!!! And he still didn't make the play. In fact, it bounced past him. Luckily for him, the game ended in a tie. Blame should also be heaped upon the strikers who missed a couple golden opportunities to put themselves ahead and put the nail in the coffin of Blackburn. If this is going to be the stride of the season, I'm in for a very long season.

After I stopped being mad about the failure of the Gunners to get the three points from Blackburn, I decided that I wanted to watch a movie. I couldn't find any terrible action movies on although The Fly II was playing on Cinemax. Deciding against my better judgment not to watch either Sahara, the fiasco involving Penelope Cruz that wasn't Vanilla Sky, or the aforementioned Fly sequel, I decided upon Proof, a film version of an award-winning play. I'll say that I decided to watch this film because Gwyneth Paltrow is one of those actresses who is lauded by everyone. She is supposed to be the great actress of my era, putting in memorable bids that people are supposed to fall in a tizzy about.

After watching this movie, I'm wondering if these people are smoking crack. I won't go so far as to say this movie was terrible, but it's definitely mediocre. And that mediocrity stems from Paltrow's performance as Catherine, a depressed young woman who is the daughter of a fictional John Nash. Hope Davis, who played Catherine's sister Claire, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who played Hal, a student of Catherine's father (Anthony Hopkins), were standouts. Claire could have easily just been a bitch, but she showed some humanity and decency although I thought her efforts were misplaced. Hal was a considerate person who was trying to do what was right. Unfortunately, Catherine didn't see it that way.

My problems with this movie were many. I thought that the timing and organization of the movie left a lot to be desired. Joel Madden, who is best known for Paltrow's Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love, spliced the film with flashbacks and other things that not only made the movie confusing to watch but actually took away the suspense of the movie. For example, he explains the plot twist fully. The plot twist was the one thing that could have saved this movie, but Madden ruined it by explaining it, leaving nothing to the imagination of the audience as it most likely was in the stage play.

Also, Paltrow's turn as Catherine was terrible. She played the role of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown as plainly and uninterestingly as she could. She just sulked through the film, displaying no changes in emotions or demeanor. She just sat there to her detriment. This led to the sympathy that we were supposed to have for her character (Catherine is supposed to be a genius) being thrown completely out of the window. While other films have had protagonists who lacked sympathy (for me, this was The Squid and the Whale), those protagonists had some redeemable characteristics. The positive aspects of such a negative character were erased by the vacant acting of Paltrow. But, I think that her vacancy was more maddening because Catherine was a character on the verge of a mental breakdown, spending time by herself in a house with a crazy man. The effects of that on her mind, I think, would be greater than what Paltrow lets on in her performance. There was no edginess to her character. Instead, Paltrow just displays a lot of malaise and no signs of being a tormented genius.

Aside from Paltrow's terribly vacant performance, the other primary problem that I had with the movie was the fact that it still played like a stage play. It was very stiff and formal. Everything was overly dramatic and scholarly actor. The natural aspects of the characters were lacking in translation from the stage. I understand the stiffness of the characters on stage because you don't have the flexibility allowed on film. But, when going to film, the characters have to become well-rounded, showing off many aspects and using the camera and surroundings to the advantage. None of the characters effectively did this even though opportunities abounded for such work to take place. All of the characters fell into this trap, taking away from the more realistic aspects of high quality cinema.

Now that I have vented about Jens "Faulty Boot" Lehmann (Faulty Boot is what I will call him until he is replaced in goal) and Proof, I think that I can leave now. So, I will.