Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Munich

Heading into “Munich”, I was reminded of an instance from my college days. Tony Kusher, still (somewhat) glowing in the fame of his Pulitzer-winning “Angels in America”, was giving a dinner lecture. I was given some background materials, including a written commentary on theater and art offered by the featured speaker.

In the midst of lauding some obscure play that you will never see, Kushner took occasion to attack “Schindler’s List”, citing the film as an example of Hollywood’s pat answers to complicated problems. He provided no evidence of this, but simply assumed that his reader would relate to the observation. In Kushner’s world, everyone knows that Spielberg’s signature work is a piece of shallow pap, so why bother explaining?

“Schindler’s List” is my favorite film.

I bring this up because Kushner’s screenplay for “Munich” often subverts the artistic and technical mastery of the film. “Schindler’s List” gave us “The list is life.” “Munich” gives us “You need to wait for the red light before you turn the key.” Nonetheless, Spielberg has woven a tightly-crafted period piece, and a top-notch political thriller.

Like much of Spielberg’s best work, “Munich” feels like an original. The film follows an Israeli hit-team in their mission to avenge the assassination of members of the Israeli Olympic squad by Arab terrorists at the 1972 Munich games.

Munich’s Europe is gorgeously filmed, simultaneously evoking 70’s spy-thrillers while creating a very real sense of time and place. That “Munich” was shunned in the Cinematography illustrates the ignorance of voters in that category, who continue the trend of awarding nominations to the films with the most landscape shots.

As it is with most Spielberg films, the action is relentless. He never lets go of the gas pedal. Unfortunately, the screenplay is stuck is neutral. In this story, Kushner attempts to find a chamber drama, but lacks the economy to convey character in the short conversations allowed by the plot. The dialogue frequently refers to situations that are easily expressed visually (see the “red light” line). There is an esoteric, but relentless, food motif, which is part of a broader commentary on domestication throughout the film.

The commentary is inessential to the plot, and indicative of a shallow heterophobia that is often shoehorned into otherwise quality drama these days. It adds to the film’s length, but not it’s weight.

And, of course, it is indicative of the obligatory moral ambiguity. Perhaps because the film is so devoted to minutae of the assassin’s day-to-day existence, we are required to listen to both sides of this vicious struggle. Even in this film, the Arab case is unconvincing. There is a conversation (wholly contrived by the screenplay) between the protagonist and a terrorist. For the terrorist “home is everything.” Later he is killed by the hero’s bullet. I suppose this is supposed to be a moment of reflection. I was just glad the world was rid of anyone who would kill for some oblique concept of “home”.

Frankly, for all of the political brouhaha over “Munich”, audiences are likely to leave with the opinions they bring to the film. If you cast a skeptical eye on Israel (and, therefore, have not bothered to read so much as an encyclopedia entry on its founding and existence), this movie will reinforce your worldview. If you believe, as I do, that Israel was right to send assassins after the perpetrators of the Munich attacks, nothing in this film would cast a shadow over that decision.

Many, especially in conservative circles, have labeled this an “anti-Israel”, or “pro-terrorist” film. It isn’t. Those same conservatives likely ignore the films’ emphasis on the Israeli’s ornate efforts to avoid killing the innocent. They also ignore a key scene in which the protagonist’s life is spared by virtue of his fidelity to his family.

Spielberg himself has said he agreed with Israel’s actions in response to the Munich terrorism (though, to be fair, Kushner obviouisly does not). Perhaps Spielberg ought to have made a more manifestly pro-Israel film, but that is not entirely fair. In spite of his reputation for pulling on heartstrings, Spielberg is objective, almost matter-of-fact, in his treatment of his subjects. Jews are killed in Auschwitz with little fanfare, the camera ceases to flinch as Americans are killed by Nazis.

I would posit that this is Spielberg’s gift. I harken back to “War of the Worlds”, in which humans are deposed with extraordinary efficiency. We are drawn to Spielberg because, whether it be dinosaurs or the Holocaust, he can make the incomprehensible come to life. Say what you will about “Saving Private Ryan”, but has any film come close, even within the ballpark, of conveying what war is like? To me, “Munich” seems to be as it must have been for those men tapped to kill the terrorists.

That, more than any political statement, is why "Munich" has earned its nomination.

Next: "Good Night and Good Luck"

Monday, February 27, 2006

Capote

The first time we see him, he is entertaining guests at a cocktail party. Is it his party? It is now. He entrances his audience of strangers with stories about his writer friends, culture, and everything else people want to know. This is the conversation circle everyone wants to join. Truman is brilliant, popular, and has what we call a “way” with people.

Unfortunately, he knows it.

Most of us have met a Truman Capote in our lives. Someone with a sheer genius for being desirable to be around. Effortlessly popular because they always seem to know precisely the thing to say. Elite colleges are teeming with such people. In reality, people like Truman need their followers as much as their followers want them.

“Capote” could have been a standard biopic. In a certain sense, the author’s life fits the standard arc of rags to riches-to-parties-to-booze-to-the-grave. It could have been this movie. It could have even been pretty good, and Philip Seymour Hoffman could have earned his Oscar for playing the same role in this lesser version of the film.

In that version, we would see the hard drinking “celebrity” version of Capote. We’d see him flaunting boy-toys (Capote was a decidedly uncloseted homosexual) and wiling away his nights at Club 54, before succumbing to alcohol-related illness. Hoffman would play the author as a dandy, all lisps and limp wrists. Such a performance would be unbearable.

"Capote" is interested in what lay beneath the world's last celebrity author.

I mention this because, for those who have followed Philip Seymour Hoffman’s career, this role was inevitable. Aside from the obvious physical comparisons and verbal mannerisms, there is a certain destiny here. Hoffman makes a living playing characters who know what all the other characters are thinking before they do. Capote’s career thrived on this gift. In this film, character and actor are matched in a way that yields one of the best performances in cinematic history. If there is any justice, Hoffman’s Capote will be remembered alongside Hopkins’ Lecter or Brando’s Godfather.

For those who don’t know, the plot follow Truman Capote’s encounter with a small town in Kansas in the wake of a family’s grisly murder. Truman believes this has the makings of a great book. He heads to Kansas with his friend Harper Lee (who, during the course of the film, wins a Pulitzer for To Kill a Mockingbird). He develops a relationship with one of the killers. In the end, his hunch is correct. In Cold Blood is revered as one of the century’s great novels, and Capote was credited with inventing a genre.

Alas, the book was also the author’s undoing, as Truman’s magnificent gift for manipulation takes a disturbing turn. He “befriends” one of the killers, in the same way he befriends attendees at a cocktail party. He is whatever his audience needs him to be, and he is incapable of much else. In this case, he needs information, details of the murders, a beginning and a middle to his story…

But also, an end… And his ending of choice is for the murderers to die for their crimes. Hoffman is brilliant as he plays the cards that spell their demise, while being incapable emotionally of dealing with the consequences. It is one thing to use your gift for gab to entertain in lecture halls and Central Park apartments, but quite another to condemn a man to death.

Alas, “Capote” is not a great film. It is uneven in spots, torn between its interest in the unnatural relationship between author and killer, and the genre’s necessity to condense years into hours. The relationship between Capote and Lee, which could occupy a film all its own, gets second billing here. There are too many interesting stories here for the films lean (98 minute) running time.

Still, the film takes the time to give full weight to Capote’s character (or lack thereof). Much of the film is spent focusing on Capote’s way with words, as it should be in any film hoping to capture the essence of an author.

And the performance. There were so may ways Hoffman could have gone wrong, and yet every moment is pitch perfect. Here is a winsome man who, in the end, wins nothing at all. The wiser among us see through people like Truman Capote. We tire of the façade, the arrogance and contempt that come with the act. We throw our hands in the air and move to greener relational pastures.

Some, like the prisoners in this film, attach themselves to people who cannot even carry their own weight. In a way, they do more than anyone to expose the Truman Capotes of the world for the frauds they are.

Tomorrow: Munich

Crash

“It’s the sense of touch. I think we miss that touch so much that we crash into each other just so we can feel something.”

Don Cheadle – “Crash”

“I don’t know nothin’ about yo’ fuckin’ CDs.” Said the man in the yellow shirt.

There I stood, holding a purloined steak knife in my hand, a cell phone in the other, ready to kill or be killed over a matter of trespassing.

I had gotten a call 2 hours earlier. My former roommate was going through the house to collect some odds and ends, and saw unmistakable evidence of squatters. So I did what any rational homeowner would do. I finished dinner, gathered my dinner companions (my church small-group co-leader, my ex-(sorta)-girlfriend, and a blind man), stole an entirely unthreatening piece of cutlery, and went to the property.

This was the Phillips neighborhood, near Lake Street. Phillips is Minneapolis’ version of Crenshaw, to the extent that Minneapolis has a Crenshaw. I owned a house, lived there for three years, and was in the midst of my suburban migration. Three years in Phillips had taught me that police hands were tied, with respect to squatter-type situations, for myriad socio-political reasons.

So, enter me, knife in hand, ready to cut up the bad guys. I entered the house and found aforementioned squatter to be manifestly present. He left out the back door, walking casually, and I gave chase, blind man in tow.

Oh, the CDs. A couple of weeks before, someone came into my house, said hello to my roommate, and left with 95 or so of my favorite CDs, along with said roommate’s checkbook. To make a long-story short, the police caught the guy, but had to let him go for socio-political reasons, and could not recover my CDs.

I thought I had found my man.

And I was ready to kill him. Sort of. I mean, he was a 6’2 black man with some level of comfort (he was walking, you’ll recall) with the whole scenario. I was a white homeowner, with some experience frantically calling the police about the presence of such men.

“I’m calling the police. It’s either them or me dawg… Give me my CDs”

In retrospect, he obviously didn’t have my CDs. In retro-retrospect, it was positively ridiculous for me to call him ‘dawg’.

“I don’t know nothin’ about yo’ fuckin’ CDs”

Then, for a second, he made a move, like he was going to charge at me. I should have been scared. I should have flinched, or even ran. But here’s the scary part. I kept walking toward him. After three years of living in Phillips; three years of convincing myself that gunshots were fireworks; three years of listening to socio-political hand –tying stories from police; three years of watching street-thugs pretending to be men on street corners while pregnant black women worked the banks and liquor stores of Lake St. Three years of watching good, law-abiding Hispanics try to make something of the neighborhood, only to be terrorized by meth-addled whores and their opportunist puppet masters from Chicago and Gary, IN.

I was ready to gut him like a fish. You see, I had spent three years dreaming this moment. I practiced on milk cartons, throwing them in the air, ‘til I could put a butcher knife through both sides of them with one thrust. I figured I’d go at the throat, the left side, plenty of follow through to sever as many arteries/veins as I could.

I was ready, or at least willing… I was gonna kill this dude.

Then, without skipping a beat, he turned back around, and continued walking. I chased him down the alley, low-speed, like O.J. on foot.

The cops came, and he disappeared, like an apparition. I flagged a man in a yellow shirt who was riding a bicycle. Oops, that wasn’t the right guy at all. The cops screamed that they were going to have to deal with a lawsuit now, for social-political reasons. Small group co-leader and ex-(sorta)-girlfriend were freaked out, blind man less so. I dismissed them all, and went back to clean up the place. The house was warm and sticky-smelling. I went upstairs and vomited.

Reflecting back, I realize that Jesus was everywhere that night. I could have died. I could have killed someone. I could have gotten someone killed. I could have been arrested. My life could have been over, and perhaps it should have been.

That night, I had the courage of my basest convictions. I was gonna be macho, hard-core. I had wrongs that needed to be righted. Through God’s grace, that’s exactly what happened.

You see, the cynical part of me wants to dismiss a film like “Crash”. Like much of Hollywood, it asks fabulous questions for which it has woefully incomplete answers. It is high-pitched melodrama, unevenly acted (to be generous), broadly written to (albeit intentionally) evoke cliches.

And yet, somewhere, it finds truth.

Crash is a film about racism. Through a series of interlocking vignettes, it explores different perspectives in an attempt to find a quantifiable truth. There is a scene in which Matt Dillon, who plays a racist cop, implores a rookie cop to “wait a few years,” before passing judgment.

Four years ago, I never dreamed I would be in an alley, in the ghetto, ready to kill a black man for breaking into my house. I grew up near Detroit. My father is in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. I know things aren’t black and white.

But that night, knife in hand, none of that knowledge mattered. The same person who, hours before, lamented the existence of Chipotle, when so many great authentic Mexican restaurants were opening… The same person who took pride in being one of only 5-6 members of a church congregation exceeding 3,000 people to live in a predominantly minority neighborhood. The same person who took pride in the vibrant culture of his neighborhood. That same person was ready to kill this black man, just for sing his house.

That night, I crashed. In more ways than one.


Tomorrow: “Capote”

Saturday, February 25, 2006

South Dakota

A) South Dakota produces fine women.

B) South Dakota also, apparently, produces fine legislation.

We could debate the language, timing etc. of the South Dakota measure to ban abortion in that state. But there is something to be said for doing what is right.

I do find it interesting that, with an opportunity to defend their absurd worldview, left-wing groups have already launched their misleading demagoguery campaign. "But rapists will be fathers!" they yelp, as though they would support any other infringement on this so-called right.

Let 'em.

Liberal folk are quick to belittle South Dakotans, and label them bigots and white trash.

So? If "white trash" understand the concept of right and wrong better than hissy little trust-fund babies in San Francisco (the rhetorical bludgeon goes both ways, yo), then more power to 'em.

South Dakota lawmakers did what they were elected to do. They made good law. They made the right law.

So good on 'em... And a good weekend to 'em.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Oscar-mania!

So, the Oscars are upon us. Year after year, the awards seem to have less and less to do with the reality of the average moviegoer. This year, I received some half-dozen offers to see Transporter 2, but had to drag my fiancee by her hair to go see "Capote" and "Brokeback Mountain". Of course, Transporter 2 is the ideal Christian movie; lot's of violence and no sex, and is the kind of movie that appeals to the lowest common denominator, which makes it a hit at movie watching parties. It also seems that all five Best Picture nominees play upon Hollywood's peculiar worldview. Everyone's gay (Brokeback), everyone's racist (Crash), everyone is a terrorist (Munich), everyone should be a commie (GNAGL), everyone's evil (Capote).

So I suppose the movie-going public can be forgiven for going the "Wedding Crashers" route (by the way, that movie wasn't even remotely good... What, Hollywood can't even do a sex-comedy anymore?). Easy entertainment for the entertainment dollar, I suppose. Nonetheless, I had to agree with Roger Ebert (the thumbs-up guy) when he expressed teh following sentiment.

"We are entering an era when the studios do not often attempt to make Best Pictures, and most of the nominees are generated by independent filmmakers and specialty distributors. This may say more about audiences than it does about studios, which would cheerfully make good movies if they thought they could sell them. Hammered by the idiocy of formula television and video games, a generation is forming that has no feeling for narrative and character. The Oscar nominees represent filmmaking at a high level, but who do you know who has gone to see more than two or three of them?"

So, I'm gonna walk the walk. Before the Oscars begin, I'm going to see all of the Best-Picture nominated films, and review them on this site (I've already reviewed Brokeback here)...

Anyone wanna join me???

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pluto: Making a comeback

With the recent discovery of moons, rings, along with a recent run of being closer to the sun than Neptune, Pluto, it seems, is enjoying a modest comeback. Some other interesting factoids about Pluto.

-Pluto was discovered in 1930, and immediately dubbed a planet.

-Pluto has an eccentric orbit, which is prone to obsessing over it's toy-train collection and once called Saturn's orbit a "certified snake", to which Saturn's orbit responded "I may be a snake, but Pluto's orbit is mired in skullduggery." The latter quote is often incorrectly attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

-On account of their irregular barycenter, as well as their relatively size, Pluto and it's moon, Charon, are regularly dubbed dual-planets, a charge Charon vigorously denies.

-In 1994, Pluto made headlines by becoming the first openly-gay planet. When confronted with this news, Pat Robertson declared that it's sinful nature explained it's status in our galaxy as an icy oustider.

-Pluto was, at first, thought to explain Percival Lowell's Planet X theory, which held that anomalies in the orbit's of Neptune and Uranus could be explained by the existence of another planet. This notion was quickly discredited by scientists who observed that Pluto was a "total wuss", and also that Pluto had "a totally wussy face".

-In Pluto's heyday, Charon briefly dated actress Beatrice Straight, and even accompanied her to the Academy Awards in 1977 where she won the best supporting actress Oscar. When asked about the relationship, Straight replied "he was a moon? I dated a #$%^&% moon?"

-Pluto's favorite food is sushi.

-Pluto once sued the Disney corporation for using it's name as.... Yadda, yadda, yadda, someone was gonna make the joke in the comments section anyway...

-The argument of Pluto's perihilion is 113.763.29 degrees, obviously.

-Pluto is composed of Nitrogen and Methane, which prompted Plutonian leaders to invoke a world-wide smoking ban after about 7 minutes of "learning the hard way".

-NASA has sent a research spacecraft to visit and explore Pluto, so be sure to check the back of the D section in your local paper sometime around the year 2015.

-Pluto is grumpy today...

Here's to Pluto!!!!!!!!

I'm Sick Today

I'm sick today. No biggie. Nothing dropping a jar of glue into a paper bag and sucking on it (the bag) for 2 minutes won't fix. However, I got this note from my fiancee.

"Honey, you shouldn't ignore you're sick. You need to take care of yourself.
I can take care of you."

What a thoroughly endearing, yet utterly confusing remark. Reading between the lines., here is what she's saying:

"You should do the opposite of what you are doing. Since you are incapable, I will be forced to do it for you. By the way, I'm dreading marriage."

You don't think I'm reading too deeply into this, do you?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Easter is upon us!

Yep, it's never to early to look forward to Easter.

Easter was the time of year when Jesus erased our sins and replaced them with chocolate rabbits. He then hid our forgiveness in little eggs. As Christians, it is our duty to search for these eggs, and store them in baskets. When we meet non-Christians, we should give them these eggs, smile, and say "remove the shell before you eat this."

This will be well-received, and then everyone you meet will go to heaven.

Before Jesus hides the eggs, he decorates them. Sometimes he writes names on them. Those eggs are extra important. If you give them to the wrong person, they will go to hell. Says so in Corinthians.

Also, there is candy. Jesus has requested that we eat at least 3 pieces of candy per day, not to exceed 6, though there is debate among certain scholars as to whether individual jelly beans count as one piece of candy if the are part of a package. There is clear consensus on certain candies, such as creme eggs, which are clear examples of singular, autonomous candies. For Christians, it is best to stick with substantial, quantifiable candies in order to please the Lord.

Also, Easter marks the 488th anniversary of the slaying of the white rabbit. This event, which guaranteed that Jews will automatically go to heaven, has been celebrated ever since. Every year, men in white bunny suits are sacrificed by the Macy's corporation, in accordance with the prophecy.

Easter can be fun for the whole family. It can also be dangerous. Avoid baskets with odd weaving, and note that wicker baskets are inherently offensive to God for obvious reasons.

Also, buckle up and drive safe.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Brokeback Nights

Yesterday, as part of a belated effort to catch up on movies, I watched Brokeback Mountain... (isn't that a depressingly bourgoise thing to say? Catch up on movies, as though they were old friends... Forgive me, for I parenthetical too soon.) As a blogger, I am required to have an opinion about this movie, so here is.

Quick plot refresher: Jack and Ennis get some part-time work herding sheep through the mountains. They fall in love. Sheep herding ends. They get married to women. They rendezvous on certain occasions on a yearly (or so) basis. Women pretend to be oblivious. Lot's of trees sway symbolically.

Brokeback Mountain has been described as a gay cowboy movie. It is that. It has also been described as a forbidden-love story. It is that, but barely. That is the beauty of Ang Lee's films. He doesn't preach, but rather allows us to observe. We are free to draw our own conclusions, so here are mine.

First and foremost, this is a film about sad men. Sad men who, in my view, would not be attracted to each other were it not for their own brokenness. The two men develop a bond at a time in their lives in which the world has, for its own reasons, rejected them. Their relationship is as sincere as it is sexual. They did not enter a plot to find an answer for lingering questions about their sexuality. They entered the plot looking for an answer for themselves.

The answers they find are understandable. There is a key moment in the film when Ennis has finished delivering his "life story" and Jack mentions that that is the most he heard from him in days. Ennis responds by saying that this is the most he has said in a year. Men wander the earth, eager to tell their story. In Jack, Ennis has found someone who wishes to listen.

That they engage in sex is as much inevitable Hollywood as it is irrelevant. In Hollywood, deeper connection must be expressed in sexual terms, as the industry is too vapid to understand otherwise.

And yet, the sex is everything. It links their internal longings with the society-approved method of achieving manhood (it is obliquely revealed early in the film that Ennis is a virgin). At the same time, it runs them afoul of Wyoming's societal mores. Hence, gay-cowboy-forbidden-love movie.

But forbidden love does not describe the pain. Neither, certainly, does lust. These are two men who have no idea how to be men. They fail at their marriages, not because they are physically uninterested in their wives (there is as much hetero as homo sex in this film), but because marriage requires of Jack and Ennis more than they are equipped to give.

Their yearly trysts invariably bring them back to the mountain where they first herded sheep. It is pristine, gorgeous, and heaven-like. They are free to do as they wish, and they take advantage of their freedom. There is a scene later in the film in which, upon their arrival, they immediately jump off a cliff into the water. It is not the sex that gives them freedom, but vice versa.

In a lesser film, these men would be perfect. Their wives would be annoying old hags who mistreated them and drove them to be gay. Ignorant townspeople would give them the evil eye everywhere they went. They would befriend a Negro and realize that deep inside blacks and whites aren't so different after all. Both men would be murdered as brutally and graphically as possible. This type of film would earn the criticism from Conservative corners. Brokeback Mountain transcends the genre.

Watching this film, I was more concerned with the plight of these men. There is a reality here. They live in a world in which men put on the masks of other men that they know to be men. Ennis is eager to throw a punch. Jack confronts his father-in-law, who believes that real men watch football, even at the dinner table. In their real lives, Jack and Ennis can only pretend. At Brokeback Mountain, they can be the real things.

This film is not, in any real sense, a romance. I was not rooting for the men to get together. When they discuss their possibilities for a full-time relationship, they recognize that the complications run deeper than logistical and societal concerns. These are men who cannot be happy together because they were never happy apart.

And so they shuffle along, meeting (or not) the various requirements of maleness. They marry, they have sex, they have children, and they deal with in-laws. In a sense, they succeed, for awhile. The children grow up. Bills get paid. In-laws are stood up to.

But ultimately, they fail. At everything. And they fail at each other. When Hollywood, I mean good Hollywood, can't find answers, everything turns tragic before it is over.

You see, Hollywood doesn't have the answer for Jack and Ennis. So it gives them temporary happiness, and then writes them off. That's why this film is so valuable, and why questions of homosexuality are far from its central truth.

It's why Christians should see the film.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Me and my Friend Wolfie!!!!

One day I met a wolf his name was wolfie and he was gray; the problem was wolves are environmentally protected and so I had to hold wolfies hostage from the environmental groups who wanted to restore wolfie to his glory but I didn't care cause I love wolfies so much even though he chewed up my toys and family.

Wolfie and me play games like hopscotch and wolfie shows me new games like Cranium at which he excels and we were friends forever: one day wolfie and I were doing new things when I found out wolfie could talk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wolfie said lots of things like "how do you do" and "I asked for cream, bitch" and we would spend all night talking just wolfie and me and sometimes we would talk about God and I asked wolfie if he believed in God and he thinks it's a deeply personal thing and so we talked about our hopes....

wolfie and I have all sorts of great adventures like one day we chased a rainbow just to see where it ended, and we didn't find it but we had fun together though wolfie seemed disillusioned and weary

Wolfie and I went to the woods one day I brought my BB gun and we were going to get squirrels -- I would shoot the squirrels down for the trees and wolfie would try his best to keep them alive as he devoured them cause wolfie's kinda hard core and afterword he'd look at me with these eyes like you don't know what I'm capable of

one day I woke up and wolfie was gone?? he left a note thanking me for m friendship and also expressing a desire to return whenever he needed to "lay low" for awhile

turns out "wolfie" was my uncle Steve

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dishonest Debate

Today, I had the displeasure of reading an editorial written by Pseudo-Christian angry-feminist Anne Lamott. Anne, a novelist of no repute and strong ties to another pseudo-Christian organization of which I am notoriously unfond, has a screed in defense of her Christian and pro-choice values that is unlikely to be winsome to either cause. Anne is an angry liberal who gets published by claiming to be a Christian. She is an a la carte Christian, picking and choosing from the things she supports (helping the poor), and ignoring the things she doesn't (sharing the gospel).

See the whole thing here, below are selected responses.

Lamott writes

"I wanted to express calmly, eloquently, that pro-choice people understand that there are two lives involved in an abortion -- one born (the pregnant woman) and one not (the fetus) -- but that the born person must be allowed to decide what is right."


Why? What legal, moral, or ethical principle reinforces this point? Lamott falls victim to a common pattern among pro-choice types, which is to begin with the assumption that they are correct. This leads otherwise intelligent people to make flimsy, counter-intellectual arguments. There are a number of things "born" people are not permitted to do. Pro-life advocates argue that abortion should be one of those things.

"Also, I wanted to wave a gun around, to show what a real murder looks like. This tipped me off that I should hold my tongue, until further notice. And I tried."

So, raping a woman and choking her to death doesn't qualify as real murder? I know that Lamott is being tongue and cheek, but she duplicitously preys upon a weakness that is exploited by pro-choice advocates. It doesn't look like murder... It doesn't seem like murder... Therefore, it shouldn't be murder.

"people who must know that teenage girls will have abortions, whether in clinics or dirty backrooms. Women whose lives had been righted and redeemed by Roe vs. Wade. My answer was met with some applause but mostly a shocked silence."


A woman in dread-locks causes stunned silence by announcing that she is pro-choice? Unlikely. There are lots and LOTS of pro-choice Christians, and they never shut up (or fail to garner media coverage) when it comes to expressing that view. More likely they fell silent in disbelief at the absurdity of the "righted and redeemed" by Roe vs. Wade. Really? The Christians I know who have had an abortion don't feel that way. On many levels, this is an awful thing to say, and makes me question her faith (are we allowed to do that any more? Or did the emergent church disallow it?)

"But I did the only thing I could think to do: plunge on, and tell my truth. I said that this is the most intimate decision a woman makes, and she makes it all alone, in her deepest heart of hearts, sometimes with the man by whom she is pregnant, with her dearest friends or with her doctor -- but without the personal opinion of say, Tom DeLay or Karl Rove."


See. She is so convicted of the truth of her argument, that she must deflect attention from the message to the messenger. "Fine," she says. "you want to be pro-life? You're a stupidhead like Karl Rove." the truth is, her message doesn't hold water. Questions of intimacy, close friends, doctor (I might note that the only doctor in the woman-and-her-doctor equation is a man whose financial interests lie in her following through with her abortion) are an attempt to create the moral ambiguity she decries earlier in her piece.

"I thought about all the photo ops at which President Bush had signed legislation limiting abortion rights, surrounded by 10 or so white, self-righteous married men, who have forced God knows how many girlfriends into doing God knows what."

Apparently, in addition to God, Anne Lamott also knows, and it pisses her off. The legislation of which she speaks was to ban partial-birth abortion. Opposition to that practice exists outside of those ten married men, I can assure you. Incidentally, the notion that men should not be able to create law governing abortion is absurd. It is akin to saying that women ought have no say in matters of rape. Our country is governed by the people, not partitioned based upon gender boundaries.
Women and men do not create their own series of laws. When it comes to abortion, she might be surprised at what women really think about the issue.

"Then I said that a woman's right to choose was nobody else's god damn business. This got their attention."


Yep. Cussing gets peoples attention. It's a very clever way to express yourself. But really, this is simply another way to deflect criticisms that the pro-choice movement cannot withstand. An open, honest debate about the balance of individual liberty and ethical mores as respects abortion ought to be mandatory. Thanks to the strategic demagoguery of the abortion-left, that will never happen.


"A cloud of misery fell over the room and the stage."


It accompanied her entrance, no doubt.

"Finally, Jim said something unifying enough for us to proceed -- that liberals must not treat people with opposing opinions on abortion with contempt and exclusion, partly because it's tough material, and partly because it is so critical that we win these next big elections."


Translation: Shhhhhhh... You're scaring the normal people.

"I was mortified: I had to eat my body weight in chocolate just to calm myself."

This is why my church doesn't allow women in ministry.

"Maybe I could have presented my position in a less strident, divisive manner."

Actually, I disagree. There are two paths for pro-choice folks to take. One is to talk endlessly about moral ambiguity, muddling the issue to the point where the only possible conclusion is the status quo. The other is to be shrill and antagonistic in an effort to deflect energies from aforementioned ambiguity, and reinforce the status quo with a semantic sledgehammer. If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, neither path would be viable. Activists on both sides would bring forth statewide legislation intended to reinforce their view, and we'd actually have to have a debate between accountable politicians. Nothing could be deadlier for abortion-rights in this country.

"Plus I am so confused about why we are still having to argue with patriarchal sentimentality about teeny weenie so-called babies -- some microscopic, some no bigger than the sea monkeys we used to send away for"


Regardless of your views on this issue, could any Christian reasonably say that this is God's perspective on this issue? What a nasty way to put it. Though, anyone who reads her crap knows that Lamott is a nasty lady. I wish John Kerry would have said this when asked about abortion at the debates. It would have been intellectually honest, and it would have cost Democrats elections for decades to come.

"I am old and tired and menopausal and would mostly like to be left alone"

There's feminism in a nutshell.

"We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society."


Perhaps because she professes a Christian, the LA Times has allowed Ms. Lamott to crawl through the creepy intellectual depths on this issue. To the point, however, pro-life advocates are quick to mention adoption as an alternative. Pro-choice advocates either ignore this possibility, or they dismiss it by pointing out flaws in the system. Besides. If were are discussing in terms of wanted and unwanted, what's to keep us from shooting babies in the head? Nothing at all, except for an arbitrary distinction of born and unborn.

During the reception, an old woman came up to me, and said, "If you hadn't spoken out, I would have spit," and then she raised her fist in the power salute.

Fight the power, old angry ladies, fight the power.

"It was a kind of communion, for those of us who still believe that civil rights and equality and even common sense will somehow be sovereign, some day."


I share her wish. I truly believe that there will come a day when we look back with abject horror upon our abortion days. This country is too good, too resilient, too smart to listen to women such as Anne, who infect our discourse with their anger and bile.

For Anne, Christ is a publicity stunt, a good way to sell books and grab ink. As a Conservative, I am supposed to remain mum on this issue, lest I be deemed a troglodyte for having deigned to support the pro-life movement. Folks like me are a dime a dozen, I am told, and I represent an image that God is trying to get away from.

Nonsense.

Abortion is wrong, just as slavery and Jim Crow were wrong. Oh sure, they had their supporters to demagogue and make blanket statements on their behalf. Over time, however, the public saw the ethical problems of their existence. Today, we exalt the heroes of the abolitionist movement, thought they were unpopular at the time. To the extent that Christians work to make the practice extinct, history will look kindly upon us. To the extent to which we equivocate, and pat idiots like Anne Lamott on the back for being so gosh-darn plucky and relevant, we compromise ourselves.

I oppose the legal right to have an abortion. Not because it's trendy, or because it gets me ink and sells terrible books and vapid columns. Not because I'm cranky, or moody, or need something to fight for. I oppose it because opposing it is the right thing to do.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

An Interview With Rick Warren!

Every now and then, my blog gives me the opportunity to talk with folks who are making news. Today, I am delighted to introduce Rick Warren, author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life". Recently, Rev. Warren has stoked the fires of controversy by contributed his signature to a document favoring a reduction in CO2 emissions. Rick, it's great to have you here.

Rick: Call me Rev. Warren.
TPWK: Really, cause okay, the last guy said...
Rick: Rev. Warren!
TPWK: Alright, Rev. Warren. I'd like to talk first about a major issue my readers might not now about. You are, in fact, only a torso, head and arms.
Rick: That is correct.
TPWK: I mean, now that I see you in the flesh, it's kind of strange... I mean, forgive my insensitivity, but...
Rick: Yeah, most people are surprised by that.
TPWK: It's kind of a Jabba the Hut thing...
Rick: I find that insulting.
TPWK: Right, yes, forgive me. No, I mean, it explains the laugh is all...
Rick: I could buy and sell you.
TPWK: Indeed...
Rick: I will pimp you out to Haitian drug lords.
TPWK: Not today, please... Um, shifting topics. Of course, you've been in the news recently as a high-profile endorser of an initiative to end global warming.
Rick: Yes. Global warming will kill us all. Least of these.
TPWK: You've been lunching with Jim Wallis.
Rick: How can you tell?
TPWK: So, what is your church doing to fight global warming.
Rick: Last week, we gave away free Honda Civics in church.
TPWK: To everyone?
Rick: I paid for them in cash. How does that make you feel?
TPWK: Alienated.
Rick: (flexes his bicep)
TPWK: Yeah... Spending money make you feel like a big man?
Rick: Don't condescend.
TPWK: Now, what would you recommend Christians do on an individual level to combat this serious problem.
Rick: What do you mean?
TPWK: Well, I mean, you're pretty good at laying out action steps on matter such as this. What are three things Christians should do to remedy global warming?
Rick: Buy a Honda Civic.
TPWK: Well, a news Civic costs almost $20,000. Some people can't afford that. I drive a Ford Focus, which is about half the price.
Rick: Didn't see Jesus driving a Ford Focus.
TPWK: You make an airtight argument. So, aside from buying a new car, what else can Christians do to make the world "greener".
Rick: Oh, I have no idea.
TPWK: Come again?
Rick: You know, honestly, I just figured it'd be good publicity for Saddleback.
TPWK: Publicity?
Rick: Attendance is up 10 percent. We've got some long-hairs showing up, so we're creating a special "liberals only" service on Sunday's.
TPWK: This seems slightly manipulative.
Rick: We're riding the wave of trendy politics. Instead of having a band play, we just tune the radio to Air America. They love it.
TPWK: So where do you stand on the environment?
Rick: ...
Rick: (flexes his bicep)
TPWK: Yeah, you're a strong guy, aren't you?
Rick: (flexes other bicep)
TPWK: Well, that's all the time we have for today. Thanks to Rick Warren for stopping by.

Monday, February 13, 2006

I heart Minneapolis - Part 4

So, I was going to have my chance to appear in Kangaroo court to appeal my $133 assessment re: rubbish in my yard. For more information on what life with Minneapolis inspections is likie, click

here

and

here


Anyway... I write a long appeal about the rubbish. I called 30+ times to clarify what rubbish needed to be removed, I can't simply go to my property and throw away that which obviously belongs to my tenant etc...

I get done writing, and realize that they did not inform me of the RFS number when they sent the assessment. The RFS number is necessary so that a government admin. can enter data into a computer (presumably an Imac, since this is Minneapolis), never to be seen again.

Perplexed, I again call the Inspections supervisor, Jack "if I weren't black, I'd be sucking Thunderbird out of a paper bag outside of the Downtown Walgreens and cussing at non-existent enemies, but thankfully I'm a minority and so I'm a highly sought-after commodity in a city run by an effete, incompetent dolt who is more concerned about fulfilling black/lesbian quotas than whether city employees, who suckle at the teet of taxpayers, such as one Kevin Sawyer, possess anything resembling a notion to care whether their jobs are done at a level commensurate with their pay grade" Allison, to inquire whether I must include a heretofore non-existent RFS number.

After a couple of days of non-response from the aforementioned, I call another city employee who, after 25 minutes of wrangling with a what-can't-be-that-difficult type computer system, manages to locate said RFS number. Finally, I triumphantly submit my a-a-forementioned appeal.

Tonight, I get a notice from the good folks at Minneapolis inspections. Seems my appeal wasn't postmarked on time.

All together now: THIS IS WHY I VOTE REPUBLICAN, PEOPLE!

Seriously, it's like Ray Nagin is in charge of this city...

A Bar Experience

So I'm out with a couple of my friends, munching on underpriced appetizers and drinking heavy beer. Some dude is hitting the touch-screen video games at the bar, the ones you look at and ask "does anyone ever play those games?" They do, and he does.

He's playing "wordster" a boggle variation in which myriad letters are scrambled, and from which myriad words are found. He's totally killing it, finding "sitter" and "tits" en route to a fifth place finish.

Said finish entitles him entry into the "wordster hall of fame", featuring the ten highest scores achieved since the system was last unplugged. The man pauses, and attempts to enter what appears to be "Cheney Felon". But, this being a machine based on touch screen technology, name entry here is exponentially more difficult than, say, your "qwerty"-based keyboard technology.

The man grows increasingly frustrated as he inputs "chenny fell" "CeenyFello", before finally settling on "Cheneyf Felo". He slams the touch screen with the palm of his hand and exits.

Later. Dick Cheney shoots a Felo quail hunter, in accordance with the wordster prophecy.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A troop story (long)

If you are tuning into TPWK this weekend, take a moment to read this story, and pray for the troops who are sacrificing everything for the cause of freedom. While we banter back and forth about policy tactics, wiretapping, patriotism et al... Men and women are laying on the line.

Freedom has never been free. It never will be free. People despise it. Freedom runs counter to man's overwhelming desire to oppress.

It has been said before. But it can never be said enough... God bless our troops. Read on:

Healing, With New Limbs and Fragile Dreams
By JULIET MACUR

It was a victory for Lance Cpl. Matthew Schilling to walk into the upper gallery of the House of Representatives on Jan. 31 for the State of the Union address. He wore his dress blues and a prosthetic leg. Five months earlier, he had been carried on a stretcher, wounded and bleeding, into a hospital in Iraq after a roadside bomb exploded 10 feet from him.

The blast tore through his right foot and calf and blew a hole through his left hand. But hearing President Bush speak confidently of victory in Iraq, Corporal Schilling, a smooth-faced Marine reservist and college student from Portersville, Pa., who grew up on a cattle farm, again felt that his sacrifice had been worth it.

"I felt really proud when all those people I met that night thanked me for my service," said Corporal Schilling, 21, who attended with his wife, Leigh Ann, as guests of their congresswoman, Representative Melissa A. Hart, a Republican.

Yet when the Schillings returned to the Mologne House, a hotel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for wounded soldiers and their families, Corporal Schilling found that wearing his prosthesis that night had taken a toll. Blood blisters had formed on his stump, and he was soon back in a wheelchair facing more surgery.

The next day, a member of Corporal Schilling's Marine Corps unit and a victim of the same blast, Lance Cpl. Mark Beyers, wheeled up to him at the Walter Reed physical therapy clinic. Corporal Beyers's right arm and leg were amputated in Iraq. "We should go into surgery together," Corporal Beyers joked. "They can give us a two-for-one discount."

A boisterous 27-year-old construction worker from near Buffalo, nicknamed Big Buck, Corporal Beyers has had his own difficulties.
..........................

Reality Creeps In

Corporal Schilling was rolled into an operating room the next morning. "Doc, please, I've got to keep my hand," he said before he was sedated.

The shrapnel that tore through the palm had severed bones and tendons. The tip of the middle finger was connected only by sinews. The tip of the ring finger was missing.

During the surgery, Dr. Paul Phillips, an Army reservist from Texas, inserted rods and pins to support the bones. "As bad as it looks, it's still fixable, and I'm not going to let him lose his fingers," he said.

Dr. Phillips amputated another inch and a half from Corporal Schilling's leg, so the wound could eventually be closed more neatly. He positioned a long wire with tiny teeth on it under the tibia, then the fibula, and sawed the bones. Fragments flew across the room and bounced with a ping on the tile floor.

In Landstuhl, a picturesque German town with green trees, rolling hills and beer gardens, the initial relief of surviving a blast or a firefight begins to fade for wounded soldiers. In a place that looks more like home, reality creeps in. Visitors told Corporal Schilling to stay positive. One of them was Maj. Gen. John J. McCarthy, deputy commander of the Marine forces in Europe.

But outside the hospital unit, the general looked grim. "There's not a kid in that unit who knew what they were getting into," he said. "When I asked them, are you ready to go?, they would say, 'Yes, sir.' But then I'd look at those 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds, two weeks out of boot camp, and thought, no, they are not ready for this struggle. I knew how scared they were, how reluctant they were."

He added, "Men like this one have shown more courage than we had the right to expect from them."

Corporal Schilling teetered between confidence and dread. The afternoon of the general's visit he took his first steps, balancing on a walker. He learned that his hearing would return; his eardrum had only been punctured. For the first time in a while, he grinned without forcing it.

But as the painkillers wore off, the horror of his injuries began to sink in. "Do you smell that?" he asked a reporter. "It's the blood from my stump. Can't you smell it? That's my own blood, right?"
.....................

Another Phase

......................
But Corporal Beyers was calm when taken off the ventilator the next day. His first word was "Whammo!" which made his family laugh. Then he had questions: What does my face look like? Are my lips still there? Where is my other leg? Then he asked: How is Schilling?

The two shared a room for several days and exchanged fuzzy memories of the blast. They were separated when Corporal Beyers developed complications — pneumonia, infections in his wounds and pancreatitis, which made him weak and nauseated. He grew cranky, cursing at the medical staff. Corporal Lauck said he could not accept that his self-image as an invincible Marine was gone.

"I hate being here with all of these sick people," he said.

A few doors down, Corporal Schilling's mood was also declining. Marines from India Company who visited him said he seemed depressed. Leigh Ann Schilling, who described her husband as "the prettiest farm boy I ever saw," said he had become self-conscious about his injuries. "He even thought I wouldn't love him anymore because he had only one leg," she said.

He was also increasingly concerned about his hand. Doctors suggested amputating his third and fourth fingers and closing the gap in the hand, hastening his recovery. But he resisted.

"I already am missing a leg, so I was a little disappointed that they wanted to chop two fingers off, too," he said.

It will take at least eight operations over years to rebuild the bones in his hand and reconstruct the arteries and veins, said Lt. Col. Romney Andersen, an Army orthopedic traumatologist. "If this is what Matt thinks is best, this is what Matt will get," Dr. Andersen said. But he's taking a lot of risk." With each procedure, Corporal Schilling could lose function of his good fingers, he said.

While Corporal Schilling was dealing with his recovery, Corporal Beyers surged ahead. In early October, weighing 146 pounds, down from 195, he joined dozens of other amputees in rehabilitation at Walter Reed, one of two military amputee care centers. The second opened in January 2005 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio to meet the rising demand.

...........................

Making Adjustments

By January, both Corporal Beyers and Corporal Schilling were in rehabilitation, back at Walter Reed. Corporal Beyers got his prosthetic leg on Jan. 4, but a few weeks later, the skin on his stump started to blister and bleed. He was back in his wheelchair.

"Some people think amputees just put on their leg and get up and run," he said. "But we don't. It's the worst feeling in the world."

A few weeks later, he was fitted with an electronic prosthetic arm that weighs about 12 pounds and attaches to his torso by a harness. By flexing muscles in his back and chest, he can open and close the hand and bend the elbow. But he said he was not likely to use it because it was too cumbersome.

He said he was looking forward to getting a nonfunctional, cosmetic arm. He wants it made to match his left arm, which is muscular again. He even plans to get a Marine Corps tattoo on the fake arm to complement the one on his real arm. He plans to marry Corporal Lauck on a Caribbean cruise in April. Eventually, he hopes to resume working with his family's construction company.

Although he and Corporal Schilling had been buddies in Iraq, they do not socialize much anymore.

"We're not just a bunch of guys living for the minute," Corporal Schilling said. "We have new lives now."

He still thinks about his time in Iraq. He had volunteered to replace a marine in his unit who had been killed, and he does not regret his decision to fight in the war. "It's just something we have to do to keep our own country safe," he said.

The Schillings are trying to look ahead. Corporal Schilling plans on finishing college to get a teaching degree. He and his wife were married in a rushed ceremony before he shipped out to Iraq, and during his tour they exchanged letters about their dream wedding. They have booked a church and reception hall for May 27.

But first, another surgery. Last week, doctors removed bone from Corporal Schilling's hip, inserting it into the hole in his hand and securing it with titanium rods. It will be another year before doctors can replace the tendons. Nerve transplants will follow. Right now, his middle and ring fingers are numb, as is part of his hand.

His leg also poses problems. After the State of the Union outing, when the blisters developed, Corporal Schilling saw Maj. Donald Gajewski, an orthopedic surgeon at Walter Reed, who told him the closure wound on his leg was not healing properly and that he needed an operation to correct it.

Hearing that, Corporal Schilling and Leigh Ann looked at each other and turned pale.

"Are you going to have to take any bone?" Leigh Ann asked.

Corporal Schilling interrupted: "My biggest concern is how long after the surgery will it take for me to be walking again?"

Three weeks, the doctor said.

"Sir, as long as I'm going to be ready to dance at the wedding," Corporal Schilling said, reaching for Leigh Ann's hand.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Valentines Day Approaches!

Now that I am engaged, my attitude toward Valentines Day has changed considerably. It used to be a painful reminder of my singleness, causing feelings of bitterness and rage toward anyone who had cause to celebrate the occasion. Now I see it as an expensive inconvenience. Isn't it amazing what a little perspective can do?

With that in mind, I wanted to share what I will be writing on my fiancee's Valentine. It's a personal message, but I wanted to give insight on what makes a great relationship work. Feel free to plagiarize. It's pretty romantic.

Why I love my baby,

Baby, you are so thin. I mean, nice and real thin. Like "it'll be a shame to get you pregnant" thin. What man doesn't like them a thin slice of woman? Other attributes I be likin' about you? You can cook. I mean, all women say they can cook. Most of them like to cook. Baby, their food is mediocre at best.

Sometimes I dream about smearing yo' stir-fry across my chest, and eating it. Then, baby, I get hung up on details, like the probability of stabbing myself in the chest with my fork. If I ever rub your stir-fry on my chest, you will have to feed it to me. With your hands, baby, not the fork. As I mentioned, baby, I have concerns about the fork.

I love your eyes. Baby, yo' eyes be like gems of unknown origin. Like rare gems. Gems so rare that poor people get trapped in mines looking for them. I don't know if their green or blue, or whatever. Could be yellow for all I know, like Michael Jackson at the end of Thriller. Don't matter what color they be, baby, cause I dig you.

Baby, I dig your car. It's sensible, and has a Mazda engine. It gets reasonable gas mileage, which I think about when I be in the shower.

Speaking of which, baby you so clean. You clearly wash on a daily basis. Some women smell funky, which makes them unpopular. Between being thin, and regularly bathing yourself, you are quite a catch.

And baby, if you stank, I will clean you. I will clean you like a farm animal.

Baby, I'd give you chocolates, but you don't eat chocolates. Frankly, baby, I think that's a little strange.

Baby, you remind me of the Detroit Pistons. I admire their teamwork, and I like to watch them. Baby, I be watching you. Sometimes I watch you when you don't know I'm watching you. Mostly, I am assessing your fashion-sense. Baby, yo' fashion sense is above par.

Did I mention that you thin? Baby, you thin.

Baby, I can't wait to marry you. At our wedding, I will drink moderately, and remove my tux jacket when I become uncomfortably hot. Then, I will put it back on at various times when deemed appropriate. For example, I would imagine that if anyone wanted group photos, that would be a good time to don my jacket. After the picture, I will remove it again, cause that' how I roll. Mmmmm... Baby.

Baby, you know what I love best about you? More than anything in the whole wide world? I love that you don't read my blog. You can't access it at work, and have a poor Internet connection at home. Baby, that is liberating in a sexy way.

Happy Valentines day, baby. Don't forget to vacuum the floor. It be gettin' nasty...

Love,

Stax

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bad Poetry Day!

A baby boy
some toddler clay
roughly molded
hued and stained

with stubborn ridges
born of sin
failing's ruts
the Devil's din

Folding over
rights and wrongs
the scurillous art
of muting songs

burned and hardened
earth's subtle kiln
the day to day
a glossy film

until God looks
upon this shape
disfigured pottery
his eyes agape

and use his tears
to smooth and soften
unmute the songs
we hear so often

remove shallack
and pretty paints
the gaudy robes
of proudly saints

and if need be
he'll crush and bend
and clench his palm
begin again

reflect, unjaundiced
at dirty joy
His toddler clay
His baby boy

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Now it is time to talk about laser beams!



Lasers and laser beams Rooooooooock!

Everyone likes laser beams. They are beautiful and powerful, like God's creatures. Laser beams are mostly red and blue, but sometimes they are yellow but the yellow ones are for girls cause their stupid.

Laser beams are often used for good, but sometimes they are bad. Sometimes I see laser beams in my room when I've had too much sugar. They come in and play with my toys, and break the little plastic pieces off, and mommy says "what the hell'd you do now?"

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles don't need lasers, cause their awesome.

A LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) is an optical source that emits photons in a coherent beam. Laser light is typically near-monochromatic, i.e. consisting of a single wavelength or hue, and emitted in a narrow beam. This is in contrast to common light sources, such as the incandescent light bulb, which emit incoherent photons in almost all directions, usually over a wide spectrum of wavelengths. Laser action is understood by application of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics theory (see laser science).

Mr. Johnson said the aforementioned was, and I quote, "clearly plagiarized and substantially beyond your intellectual scope." Mr. Johnson is a dweeb.

One time mommy bought me a laser. It was awesome and green, and I went to shoot daddy with it. He said "if only that gun were real."

Daddy's funny.

Laser make this sound

Bashrrriiiiiiink!

But not always though.

Sometimes lasers are made by robots, and they use them to do battle against enemies. The enemies are stupid because they are always trying to catch the good robots with nets, but the good robots have lasers and always KAPOW KILL EM!!!!!!!!!!!!

There aren't any movies about laser beams, cause movies are stupid.

In conclusion, laser beams always kill the bad guys, sometime they don't though, and they are yellow (only the stupid ones, see above). Robots made lasers out of clay and baby Jesus-juice, and have the power to unleash them. Sometimes they don't though, and instead they play cards. But I like to kill with lasers, so when the robots aren't using them, I do.

What to do?

I preface this post by mentioning that I am a Conservative. Things being how they are, I am therefore aligned with the Republican party, which has been doing a fair bit of soul searching of late.

In general, I find this allegiance-of-convenience to be an adequate reflection of my views. I believe that small, Constitutionally balanced government is the proper vehicle to Democracy, freedom, and economic success. Until recently, Republicans shared this view, as do most Americans. Hence, Republican control of the elected branches of government.

I don't have much patience for folks who claim to be "above the fray", or draw semantic distinctions between themselves and the political party that represent their views.

Alas, my party of allegiance has ceased to be the party of small government. In addition to a monolithic prescription drug benefit, skyrocketing entitlements, Republican leadership has presided over a more than ten fold increase in so-called "pork" spending. At the behest of powerful lobbyists, Republicans have devoted myriad earmarks to in-state projects. Voters, who oppose government waste except when the waste is wasted on them, rewarded our leadership by re-electing them.

The cycle continued, lobbyists grew in power, the President lost his veto pen. More hands went into the cookie jar. Some got caught.

Which leaves me with a quandary. I do not, for one moment, believe that Democrats have any intention of restoring fiscal sanity to Congress. I do not, for one moment, believe that the party of Ted Kennedy is itself any less guilty of malfeasance. Instead of calling for pork-reform, they are working on impeaching the President for listening to Al Qaida. Way to keep your on the ball, folks.

And there are other issues at hand. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the right to own private property doesn't really exist, after all. Scientists are trying to clone human beings. Bio-ethicists are granting doctors greater latitude to determine whether human life is viable. Freedom of speech is under attack in Europe, and college campuses are following suit by imposing "speech codes". Well meaning idiots are trying to ban child-discipline.

There's a war on, and I have no interest in having Hillary run it.

And, yeah, I think abortion should be illegal.

So, what to do? Support a tainted party that, in theory, has the right plan for this nation? How best to send a message to a party (and a President) that has my support. If Democrats win elections in 2006, they will erroneously attribute that result to public agreement with their agenda. If you have a moment, pay a visit to democraticunderground.com or dailykos. Does anyone want an election result that would make those people happy?

Further, we can expect more of the same re: lobbyists and spending.

If I simply hold my breath and vote (R) down the ticket, what message does that send? Can I trust Republicans to understand that I support their agenda, very much support the President (who I don't believe to be corrupt), and want them to get their act together and focus on continuing the advances of the last decade?

Do I piss away my vote on a third party nominee, who will probably embarrass the Conservative movement by saying awkward things about Hitler?

Ultimately, I will choose the second option. I will probably even be adamant about it. Ultimately, great ideas can trump bad politicians (see Richard Nixon). Bad ideas fail in the hands of good politicians (see Jimmy Carter). America has survived the unscrupulous before (see Bill Clinton), and it will do so again.

Your thoughts?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Here's to Dove!

And the “Gayest Thing Ever” (GTE) award goes to….

Dove, for their “girls have bad self-esteem” ad, which aired during the !@#$% Superbowl!

We had just gotten finished watching a cool FedEx ad, with dinosaurs and cavemen and stuff, when all of the sudden we get soft music and “Michelle thinks she’s too fat.” “Susie thinks she can’t be an astronaut.” “Jane thinks daddy hates her because she can’t read.” Or whatever the comments were.

Say it with me folks: GAYEST THING EVER!

Congratulations Dove, you are edging out past GTE recipients Joann Fabrics, the Cheesecake Factory, Hallmark, Tuesdays With Morrie, the Lifetime Network, and Gen. Wesley Clark for a special spot in TPWK history.

Incidentally, I like that all the girls in the ad are pretty, pimple free, smiling, charismatic go-getters, just like all girls. The implication? If you want better self-esteem, work on your appearance. Soap is a good start, and wouldn’t you know? We happen to sell the stuff… So come on girls, get pretty so boys will… I mean, YOU will like yourself.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Islam is MAGIC!



There it is folks. The image that has caused otherwise violent religious zealots to turn into, well, violent religious zealots. Of course, the now infamous images above, printed in a Danish Newspaper, have caused some measure of controversy in the Muslim world. Strangely, it has also caused some measure of violence...

Of course, as a blogger, it is my responsibility to have an opinion on this. So here it is...

I'm with the protestors.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for sticking it to the (Muslim) man. But if you're taking on Mohammed, it had better be funny. Mohammed with a bomb as a turban? How cliche. An image of Mohammed's face etched into the Fertile crescent? What, is that meant to be poignant? I, for one, have had it with banal satire.

Death to the unsubtle!!!! Behead the unfunny!!!!!!!! Bomb the embassies of the unclever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean, if you want to take a jab at Mohammed, how about making light of the fact that he would behead fathers and take their wives as his sex slaves? That would be wacky!!!!! Maybe you could satire Mohammed's uncomfortable tendency to rape the underaged? You could have a cartoon depicting this, while Yassir Arafat dangles the Koran in front of him, with Mohammed saying "Right, right... No, you got me, you got me... Good one Yassir. Good one..."

For added fun, the next frame could be Mr. Arafat cackling and rubbing his hands over the girl after Mohammed leaves.

Now that's comedy!

But seriously, the world needs better satire, and I believe it's worth killing for. We must set up an international court for the advancement of Comedy (ICAC), which will hold lousy cartoonists accountable. A drawing of Karl Rove as a ventriloquist, with George W. Bush as his puppet? Off with your head. A drawing of an oil executive in a robber-suit and a mask? 20 years in the gulag! A drawing of a gun, labeled "The Patriot Act" shooting a target, labeled "Civil Liberty", welcome to the firing-squad of non-laughter.

So, crazy Muslims, I support you in your violent quest for better comedy...

What? They're angry because Mohammed's sacred? So it has nothing to do with comedy at all? What? Mohammed is a major prophet in the Muslim religion?

Well, that explains a lot...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

An interview with Jerome Bettis!

Every now and then, my blog affords me the opportunity to talk with the famous names and faces. This week, I had the opportunity to interview Jerome Bettis, Running Back for the Superbowl bound Pittsburgh Steelers. Mr. Bettis, welcome to TPWK.

JB: Did you just call me Mr. Bettis?
TPWK: Yes. I try to start things off formally. Do you prefer Jerome?
JB: I don’t care either way, it’s just that Mr. Bettis seems stilted, somehow.
TPWK: Okay. While we’re on the topic of names, how did you come to acquire the nickname “The Bus”?
JB: I would think that’s relatively obvious.
TPWK: Really? I mean, yeah… Cause your pretty big.
JB: I mean, I would assume that’s obvious to all of your readers.
TPWK: No, yeah… You’re right.
JB: Kind of an odd way to kick off an interview, is all.
TPWK: Right… Well, shifting gears. One of the major storylines of this year’s Superbowl is that you get to finish your career at the Superbowl in Detroit. I could imagine that’s going to be a pretty emotional homecoming.
JB: …
TPWK: Right?
JB: Oh, were you asking me a question?
TPWK: Well, I guess…
JB: Cause it sounded like more of a statement. Really, you more or less answered your own question.
TPWK: Very well. Let me rephrase. How do you feel about returning to Detroit to finish your career.
JB: It’s going to be a “pretty emotional homecoming”. That’s the answer you’re looking for, yes? “Pretty emotional homecoming?”
TPWK: Um.. It’s really up to you.
JB: Yes, but that’s the answer you wanted. You didn’t want me to say “you know, it’s just another football game.” That is why you were leading me to the “emotional Homecoming” response, yes?
TPWK: Um… Maybe we can discuss some of the strategies you intend to employ against the Patriots this weekend.
JB: I’m sorry, you said the Patriots?
TPWK: Errr… I mean, Eag… Seahawks. How will you handle the Seahawks offense, I mean, How will your defense handle their, obviously you’re not part of the defense… I mean, what’s your approach to the game?
JB: The Patriots play in the same conference. It would be impossible for us to meet in the Superbowl.
TPWK: Right. Duly noted. The Seahawks are, of course known for their defensive line, and…
JB: Name one player on their defensive line.
TPWK: Um… Joey Porter?
JB: He’s on my team.
TPWK: Um… You have a surprising penchant for details, Mr. bet… Jerome.
JB: The formalities of the sports-related interview are compelling on a number of levels.
TPWK: Indeed.
JB: The interplay, the give-and-take, if you will.
TPWK: I understand, the giving and taking. A dialogue.
JB: Not a dialogue, a dual monologue.
TPWK: I don’t follow.
JB: Athlete and reporter, taking at each other, ignoring each other. Editors and producers forging myopic “storylines”, vignettes to appeal to the disinterested masses.
TPWK: You’ve certainly thought this through.
JB: Sometimes the song is more than the musician. So it is with athletes.
TPWK: Um, well that was pretty out there. So, any predictions on who will win.
JB: I dunno. Seahawks?
TPWK: Well, that’s all the time we have for today. I’d like to thank Jerome for stopping by. Go Steelers!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Advice for Democrats!

It looks like Republicans will be looking at a tough year in 2006. The question is how can Democrats best translate the hard times into political victories. As an unbiased observer of the political process, here are my ideas.


1. Quit attacking the war. Republicans have done a great job making Dems out to be flip-floppers for continuing to say one thing and do the other. Why? Cause Democrats are pussies. Ignore the war.

2. Focus on cleaning up a culture of corruption. Voters on both sides of the aisle are so pissed at lobbyists right now. Propose cuts in pork spending. When running for re-election, talk about how your experience and connections have brought more federal tax dollars into your state in the form of earmarks.

3. Pledge to support the marriage amendment. I mean, do you really care THAT much? Your not gay, what do you care? This issue will shore up union support. Besides, what are gay people going to do, vote republican? Please. They’re your slaves. Go ahead and take them for granted like you do black people.

4. Call for an air of bi-partisan cooperation. Everybody loves a uniter. Dividers are stupid. You’re a uniter, though.

5. Distance yourself from the far-left. Liberals don’t win elections. Staying to the left on issues allows Republican opponents to run to their Conservative base. Conservative tend to outweigh liberals at the polls by at least a 2 to 1 margin. Play the centrist, and use your charm to win over dimwitted soccer-moms.

6. Tell Howard Dean to shut up. It’ll make you seem like a maverick. Cuss, if necessary, but only use the word ‘ass’.

7. Promise to fight meth. Everyone hates meth. Show pictures of meth mouth. Claim that your opponent has meth mouth.

8. Avoid doing weird things. Busses full of hippies, purple environmentalist clowns, and transvestites might be cool at Bennington, but they alienate real people. Send the College Democrats to Guam or something. Do not hire anyone who uses the word "grassroots".

9. Campaign negatively. Negative campaigning works very, very well for both parties. When your opponent responds, produce an ad accusing him of negative campaigning. Make the rest of the race about how your opponent campaigned more negatively than you did.

10. Promise everything, ever. Promise millions for the elderly, for education, for cancer, for ponies, for Jesus. Also, promise tax cuts.

11. It's scandal time! In debates, respond to any question by sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling "Abramoff! Abramoff! Abramoff! Abramoff!"