Thursday, January 29, 2009

Guest Columnist: An Apple Valley housewife

It's about time Congress got something done! After years of talking, and never doing, Congress is finally getting around to spending.

For those who aren't "in the know", since the 2008 elections, Barack Obama (I voted for him! Sorry Sarah Palin!) has helped Congress raise $825 trillion in stimulus for the economy. Finally, we can get back to funding things like education and healthcare.

The best part? They are going to do it while CUTTING taxes. So that's like we all get double.

Republicans opposed the plan. What else is new with them? They're probably just mad that they didn't think of doing a stimulus. I think it's time they stopped catering to the corporate fat cats and listened to regular Americans.

I mean, seriously. We have a housing crisis. People are losing their jobs, the auto industry is dying, and we're at war with almost every country I have ever heard of.

My daughter Cindy is in her sixth year at the University of Minnesota. How is she going to pay her student loans when she graduates? Not with a degree in "The Politics of Bridal Fashion", that's for sure. This stimulus plan will help pay her debts by creating meaningful jobs. The Republicans would rather just ship our jobs overseas.

What a refreshing change from all the partisan gridlock we've had. Probably the only thing the Republican Congress did last year was give itself a pay raise. Well, the Democrats are giving the working man (or woman :P) an $825 trillion pay raise AND the jobs to pay for it.

I'm telling everyone I know to write their congressman and thank them for supporting the stimulus. Not that they need the support. Just yesterday, I tried to call Jim Ramstad's office, and the phone-lines are so jammed that the number was disconnected! I didn't even know that could happen.


Marjorie Bjornson

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Scenes from a Playground

Three children, Billy, Suzie, and Ahmed are playing a furious game of Oregonian Bellypunch.

Billy: Gotcha.
Suzie: No fair, you didn't go around the monkey bars.
Ahmed: The whole game is now moot.
Billy: I didn't have to go around the monkey bars, cause I called Lemonpops.
Suzie: Lemonpops means you jump up and down. You didn't jump up and down.
Ahmed: Billy is transparently manipulating the rules. He is a fraud.
Billy: Shut up, Ahmed. I'll call my dad's lawyer.
Suzie: Your dad doesn't have a lawyer.
Billy: Yeah? Well, you don't have a dad.
Suzie: (cries)
Ahmed: Your insensitivity shames me to be of your acquaintence.
Billy: My apologies.
Suzie: (punches) Bellypunch!
Ahmed: Well played!
Billy: Foiled!

Narrator: By 2024, one of these children will contract the deadly AIDS virus. Do something, before it is too late.

This message brought to you by the TPWK Ad Council.

(ed.: The TPWK Ad Council would like to clarify that the children represent a sample. We did not mean to imply that Ahmed was more or less like to contract the dreaded HIV. If anything, Suzie would be more likely, growing up without a father. Thank you for your e-mails.)

(ed. ed.: The TPWK Ad Council would like to apologize for the insinuation that Suzie would be more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, thereby contracting unwanted AIDS. Again, the children are a representative sample, and are actually paid actors. We appreciate your phone calls. )

(ed. ed. ed.: The TPWK Ad Council would like to clarify that it is not our position that actors are more or less likely to contract the AIDS virus. Frankly, we think that conclusion is a bit of a stretch. Thank you for your comments and concern.)

(ed. ed. ed. ed.: The TPWK Ad Council notes that Oregonian Bellypunch is a child's game, similar to tag, that is enjoyed in the Northwestern states. It is NOT a boutique form of the marijuana drug. Thank you for your inquiries.)

(ed. ed. ed. ed. ed.: The TPWK Ad Council would like to note that dirty hippies from Seattle are far more likely to catch the malevolent AIDS virus. If you wish to derive that conclusion, go for it.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Musings

The amazing thing about Minnesota in late January is that literally nobody in the state is happy. That's hard to do. Let's muse together...

An Amsterdam court of appeal has ordered that Geert Wilders, a member of parliament, be criminally prosecuted for hate crimes. Mr. Wilders had the audacity to criticize Islam (big no-no in Europe), comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf. A couple of observations.

1) He is being awfully unfair to Hitler in this comparison.

2) Yikes.

3) It's worth mentioning that Obama's base, those millions of people who flocked to DC to watch him on jumbo-tron, regard Amsterdam as Mecca.


Ever notice how certain folks go out of their way to find peculiar spellings and pronunciations of Arab and Muslim things and places. You can tell a lot about a person's regard for himself by the way he spells Muslim (or Moslem) or pronounces Qatar (or Qat'r).

In most instances, neither is incorrect. But I think some people opt for the more "foreign" spelling in an attempt to assert their superior understanding of the culture.

On pronunciation, you can also tell how one regards himself by how he chooses to emphasize syllables. Pretentious people tend to front load their words, and never treat more than one syllable with equal emphasis. I remember an NPR (the queen mother of pretense) doing a story on robotics. The reporter refused to simply call robots "robots". Instead, they were"ROWbuts".

If Ah(chchch)madineja(aaa)d were ever to send ROWbut warriors to Qat'r under the guise of Hez(zz)bolla(aaa)h, I'll go BAAAAnuhnuhs.


Obama has released some memos. Is this the 21st-century equivalent of the fireside chat?

Anyway, he wants the federal government to help automakers make relevant cars by increasing emissions standards. Let's see, the last time government tried to force auto manufacturers to make relevant cars, we got the SUV, which many found relevant indeed.

But I will simply assume this plan won't have any negative repercussions.


The Mall of America has decided it won't ask legislature for free money this year. Instead, they'll wait until 2013. That said, the legislature has allowed the city of Bloomington to levy taxes to help pay for the mall. So, if you own a store that isn't in the mall, then you have to pay money to keep your competition afloat. Sounds great.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Nomination Malaise

Well, there's something for no-one in this year's Oscar nominations. After a year in which No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood and Juno represented carried critical and popular acclaim into the best picture category, the Oscars followed by ignoring the best and most popular films in a bad year for film.

In the Best Picture category, voters ignored the most critically praised film of the year (Wall-E), as well as Gran Torino and The Dark Knight. The latter's exclusion is an utter mystery, and I wonder if a late surge by Eastwood's box office smash cost the film a nomination. The Reader is the sort of complicated WWII drama the voters love, but was a late release that nobody was planning on watching, and which garnered approximately the same critical approval as Step Brothers. Now I have to watch it for my blog. Thanks academy.

With 13 nominations, Benjamin Button may have trumped Slumdog Millionaire as the presumptive favorite. Either way, expect Slumdog's distributors to attempt a wide release, and for director Danny Boyle (Millions, Trainspotting, and the cult-favorite Shallow Grave) to finally get his due as a top-tier director. With the directing category matching the best picture nominees verbatim, voters might feel compelled to split the difference in these categories by giving the director nod to Boyle.

I am disappointed to see Eastwood snubbed in the best actor category. I like Richard Jenkins a lot, and he had a great year this year (his work in Burn After Reading in particular), but did Brad Pitt really outperform Eastwood? I am skeptical. Penn sure didn't, but his nomination was a given. I'm rooting for Langella, whose performance is the only reason anyone would bother to see Frost/Nixon.

I didn't think Angelina Jolie would get a nomination for Changeling, a film that was largely regarded as a failure. I don't believe Frozen River was ever even released in Minneapolis, so kudos go to the Academy for finding Melissa Leo's work here. I can't imagine how Meryl Streep wouldn't run away with this award. But that could be said of the other dozen times she hasn't won.

The supporting actor categories are where the Academy lets its hair down. And by "letting hair down", I mean "voting for black people". It's as though best supporting actress has a one black nominee requirement. That said, Viola Davis was already a (deserving) front runner for the Oscar, so nominating Taraji Henson seems a bit of a reach. The category also features two nominees (Amy Adams and Marisa Tomei) whose careers were launched by previous supporting nominations. Both are among my favorite actresses. Penelope Cruz is not.

Perhaps the Henson nomination was reflexive of some latent guilt over the nomination of Robert Downey Jr., the first nominee of the civil rights era to win be nominated for acting in blackface. The nomination is well deserved, and is really the only bold pick of the Oscar season. There are other nominees, including Philip Streepmore Hoffman's obligatory nod. He's the best actor working right now, but his performance in Doubt was not his finest. Brolin's nomination is utterly undeserved. He's actually a pretty bad actor.

In the other categories, the failure to nominate the Theme from Gran Torino or The Wrestler represents the most egregious snub of the year. But hey, at least viewers won't have to watch Bruce Springsteen or Clint Eastwood and Jamie Cullum sing their respective songs , cause that wouldn't have been awesome at all. Hypothetically, the Academy could shorten the Oscar run time by condensing the two Slumdog songs, but instead they'll probably just add a four minute montage of famous trousers.

"Down to Earth" from Wall-E is a nice song, and will certainly win. If Thomas Newman keeps writing songs for Pixar, he'll have 25 nominations under his belt by the time he retires. For once, the Documentary category actually included a doc that people will recognize, nominating Man on Wire. Hopefully this gets an arthouse re-release, because I'd like to see it.

As usual, the Academy confuses most makeup for best makeup. The screenplay categories again function as a semi-finalist list for the main prize. Doubt is universally regarded as a clumsy adaptation of an excellent play. The animated category allows Kung Fu Panda to call itself an Oscar nominee. I was unaware of the existence of "The Duchess", and I doubt it's nominations for art direction and costume design will raise its profile greatly.

In the absence of great films, the academy reverted to its old habit of rewarding message movies, epics, and Meryl Streep. Lost in the shuffle were outstanding films whose only crime was being either too popular or not popular enough. By and large, the Academy has neither rewarded audience favorites nor unearthed potential favorites for their consideration.

This will be the least-watched Oscar ceremony in years, and the Academy will have no-one to blame but itself.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Disturbing Roommate Conversation

(Phone Rings)

Kevin: Hey Leroy.
Leroy: How did you know it was me?
Kevin: Because it's 2:30 in the morning. What's that noise, where are you?
Leroy: I'm just in DC, catching the Obama festivities.
Kevin: Oh, that's great, Leroy. I didn't know you were politically active.
Leroy: No, I hate politics, but Barack Obama has promised to end politics.
Kevin: Right, right.
Leroy: It is time for America to bury the condescension of the past. I want to retire with dignity.
Kevin: Don't we all? How was the speech. It came off kinda dry on TV.
Leroy: It was really funny.
Kevin: Come again?
Leroy: I liked the rhyming.
Kevin: The rhyming?
Leroy: Yeah. The Brown sticks around. The Red Man can get ahead, man.
Kevin: Um...
Leroy: I wrote some new ones, hold on (unfolds paper) If you're green, don't be mean. Don't be a dope dressed in taupe. Um... What rhymes with purple and orange
Kevin: You are referring now to the Reverend Joseph Lowery's benediction.
Leroy: Joseph Lowery doesn't rhyme with orange.
Kevin: You are referring to Joseph Lowery, not Barack Obama. Obama is taller and substantially younger.
Leroy: So that wasn't Obama?
Kevin: No, Joseph Lowery is a famed civil rights leader, but he has not been elected president.
Leroy: Really? Then why did he go last?
Kevin: Have you ever seen a picture of Barack Obama?
Leroy: No, but I want America to bury the dignity of the past and I want to retire with condescension.
Kevin: So what did you think of the tall black guy in the red tie?
Leroy: Him? Oh, I hated his speech. Too long.
Kevin: So you hated Obama's speech?
Leroy: I think I have made my views clear. I want to bury the retirements of the past.
Kevin: Right, so why did you call me?
Leroy: Oh yeah. You're familiar with DC right?
Kevin: Relatively.
Leroy: Which line do I take to get back to Minnesota. The Red Line?
Kevin: Um... How familiar are you with the Metro system, or public transportation generally?
Leroy: Don't make this an indictment of my character. I'm full of hope right now.
Kevin: I don't think the word "indictment" means what you think it means.
Leroy: Sure it does. I'm through with the indictments of the past, and plan to retire with America. Now which line should I take?
Kevin: An airline.
Leroy: You know what, I'm just gonna ask the lady at the booth.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Musings


Let's muse....


Of course, on this day, we should not forget the many other brave leaders who have transformed this nation. Those whose courage and conviction united our country, making this little Democracy experiment a success.

In completely unrelated news, R.T. Rybak has announced that he will run for re-election this year. Suggested slogan: "Performance doesn't matter."


Rapper DMX is complaining that his pink uniform is ridiculous. Um, no. Ridiculous is naming yourself DMX, having eight kids, and leaving drugs, guns, and three dead dogs (?!) in your house for the police to find. Contextually speaking, the pink uniforms are rather apropos.


I pride myself on being the first blogger (that I know of) to whine about the imminent journalism bailout. Over at HuffPo, Monroe Price offers a not at all disturbing vision of what this might look like. He writes:

So the time is ripe for rethinking the First Amendment as a positive call for
non-market support of a meaningful journalism.

Constitution doesn't say it? Just rethink it! That's liberalism in a nutshell. His proposed solution?

Here's an example: bring down the price of the Kindle or Sony Reader to under $25 and make the devices universal delivery systems for local and national papers; have each Kindle default-programmed to receive one of several competing national digital papers and one local paper, building in an annual fee for a newspaper fund that is billed to the holder of the low-cost or free apparatus.
So in exchange for the "free" device, you are required to pay for programming of the government's choosing by way of a fee. All in the name of preserving a voice that will be critical of, um government? Huxley meets Tim Pawlenty, I love it.

Rethink the first amendment... For crying out loud. Go live in Iran. Plenty of government-controlled media there.


Hope and change tally for 2009. One Senator appointed by a sleazy governor who tried to sell Obama's Senate seat. One treasury secretary who cheated on his taxes. Oh, and Obama tried to slip flea-bag Bill Richardson past us (I'm still confused by that one). I'm sorry, didn't the Democrats run their entire 2006 mid-term election campaign on opposing corruption?

I know, I know... Nobody believed them, but I'm still going to bludgeon them with it. It's a goose/gander thing.


From the "this is why I vote Republican, people" case files (ref #22576), apparently my summer cabin plans are off, thanks to the decision by Minnesota state legislature to more than triple land lease rates in national forest areas.

In this instance, the decision will essentially force cabin owners in one of Minnesota's poorest Indian reservations to sell (or, more likely, foreclose upon) their properties. Generally, this will mean fewer lease payments, which will presumably mean less money to keep up our expensive (and underwhelming) system of state parks.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Top Ten Fridays - Oscar Edition

With the Oscar nomination announcement six days away, here are ten things I want to see happen for this year's ceremony.

1. Wall-E nominated for best picture. This is unlikely given the existence of the misguided "Best Animated Feature" category, which allows voters to feel as though they are already awarding great work, even though the category usually includes at least one lemon of a nominee. But only Slumdog Millionaire and Benjamin Button seem to have locked up their nominations. In particular, the shine has worn off Frost/Nixon, as the audacity of the film's fictional liberties have diminished its luster.

Wall-E was the best film of the year, and made 172 critic top ten lists, more than Milk, Button, or even presumptive front-runner, Slumdog Millionaire.

2. Robert Downey Jr. nominated for Tropic Thunder. Another Ben Stiller comedy where Stiller himself insists on doing the comedic heavy lifting to the film's detriment. Downey redeems the film with his role as a method actor who surgically dies himself black in order to play a stereotypical black soldier in a vietnam epic. The effect is other-worldly, and any character who takes Sean Penn to task for going "full retard" in Sam I Am (and whose character rather obviously mocks Penn in general) wins with me.

3. Gran Torino Theme nominated for Best Song. This is probably a given, since there was no major musical this year to overrun the category with nominations (Eastwood should have been nominated for "Grace is Gone" last year), but I also want him to sing it. How awesome would that be. If you haven't seen the film, don't download the song. It's placement in the film is absolutely perfect.

4. Kudos for Gran Torino generally. Another film that has snuck into the conversation, Gran Torino deserves credit for more than it's haunting theme. Eastwood certainly deserves an acting nomination (and may get the award), but the surprisingly witty screenplay deserves a look as well.

5. Fewer kudos for Milk. Gus Van Sant does a nice job of replicating the Castro district in the 1970s, and Sean Penn manages to tone down the Oscar preening until the end, but Dustin Lance Black's much-ballyhooed screenplay sucks.

This patently sophomoric effort makes every rookie mistake in the book. Over-reliance on narration? Check. Stealing a motif from another film? Check (viz. opera from Philadelphia). Poorly developed supporting characters? Check. Scenes that end abruptly? Check. Candelight vigil ending? Check.

If there is a category for being gay and growing up Mormon, Black should get that, rather than cheapening an already undervalued category with his nomination.

6. Winslet-Blanchett-Streep for Best Actress. That would make for a heck of a loaded category. With Winslet poised to garner two nominations this year, that would give her seven by the age of 33. It would be Blanchett's 6th, and 4th in three years. Both are trying to catch up the best movie actress in history, who will likely clocker her 15th.

Oh, and Streep is playing Julia Child in a biopic next year, so you can pretty much mark her down for number 16 while you are at it.

7. Kudos for blockbusters. In a down year for indies, major releases more than held their own. Dark Knight's success has been well documented, but Iron Man, Pineapple Express, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Tropic Thunder, Wall-E, and Bolt all garnered critical praise. Hollywood should be rewarded for putting some thought behind its hundred million dollar babies.

8. Ben Burtt nominated for Sound Editing for Wall-E. Probably a given (and he's won the award before, in its various incarnations), but the film deserves special attention in this regard. The sound effects are all the audience hears for the film's luminous opening half.

9. A change in the Best Foreign Film category. Each country can send one nominee for consideration. Does that make any sense? Of course not, and it means that films that have found an audience (Let the Right One In, for example), are never honored as country's seek to increase exposure for other films. The process was changed after voters failed to qualify 4 Months 3 Weeks, and 2 Days as a semi-finalist last year, but the whole category desperately needs a rethink.

10. Viola Davis nominated for best supporting actress. I can't believe it needs to be said, but the other awards programs (notably BAFTA) have neglected to nominate Doubt's scene-stealing performance. Everyone loves Amy Adams, but come on.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Smart Move...

By the environuts to change their buzzword "global warming" to "climate change". The latter term may have little going for it by way of scientific merit, but the former term would have no credibility to this Minnesotan on a day like today.

Speaking of the environment (by way of public transportation, which is the reason liberals are environmental in the first place), I drove my wife to work today. See, when the gas prices spiked, everyone started using the bus.

Thinking long term, Metro Transit decided to jack up their fares and use the proceeds to add more routes. Of course, gas prices went down, so mitigating against the economic inmperative to ride the bus. Now, downtown is full of empty buses nobody wants to pay $6 (roundtrip) to ride.

Mother nature hired dumbasses to handle her affairs.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jon and Kate + Fate

Remember when TLC was all about scary births? Screaming, disease, and altogether too intimate photography of women's genital regions (as they are spun to bits by the arrival of progeny)? Well, no more. Demographics change. Trading Spaces has ushered in an era of people-centered narratives, warm summer picnics, and pixelated birth canals.

TLC has gone family, dammit

Enter John and Kate plus Eight, the ongoing docu-drama of a couple (Jon and Kate Gosselin) whose womb was blessed/burdened with a veritable cornucopia of offspring, specifically, a set of twins and a set of sextuplets. Knowing that their family was going to be subjected to a media onslaught, they decided to sell the rights to TLC. Finally, a cultural absurdity that will have the Japanese catching up to US for a change.

Turns out, the show is pretty good. The kids are cute, the parents are engaging and candid, and TLC seems to have an inexhaustable budget. As such, the show has developed into something of a pop culture phenomenon. Oprah, websites, fanblogs, and even a book.

The Gosselin's are a Christian family, meaning they can make money delivering seminars and selling their wares at Northwestern, the bookstore for women. Speaking of women, did I mention that it is seemingly scientifically programmed to speak to an audience of females in their thirties who do not have children? Seems imperative, on some level, to point that out, since I am right now looking at a copy of the aforementioned book.

Great. People are entertained. TLC gets ad dollars. Charities are buffeted and college funds for the family's surfeit are secured.

Now, however, the whole enterprise has gone postmodern. The father's official job title has become "that dude on that show". The show itself features the eight adorable little moppets distributing J&K+8 merchandise (or merchandise from show sponsors), visiting Oprah, and holding fundraisers that would be utter flops were it not for the success of the very show that is taping the fundraiser itself... You know, postmodern.

Along the way, they've picked up various assistants to help cook for, babysit and generally corral the brood. The film's crew even apparently pitch in, and the family shares meals with TLC employees. Whatever happened to the 4th wall? The show's themes of perseverance and authenticity have gone by the wayside, and the dramatic tension has subsided. I don't begrudge the Gosselins their success, but it's not terribly entertaining to observe.

Alas, this is America, and Americans will not allow themselves to become bored. If the Gosselin's are not entertaining, they must be destroyed.

Numerous blogs have cropped up to criticize the Gosselins for their myriad life choices. There is the predictable heterophobia from the gay and cosmopolitan corners, tsk-tsking the Gosselins, really, for having children at all. Other's crticize their faith as either a publicity stunt or indoctrination.

Most take the form of pretending to have "happened upon" the show (thus claiming some sort of arbitrary, non-fan high ground), criticizing the wife for her demeanor in terms not appropriate to republish on this blog, labelling the show and the family a sham, and experiencing kudos from the comments section. Others have simply devoted blogs to hating the family, the absurdity of which is exceeded only by the volume of regular commenters on same.

Of course, as more people discover that the show is popular, more will feel compelled to register a (uniformly negative) opinion of the family. This is how fame works in America.

1) Develop a fan base.

2) Develop a following sufficient to appear on the radar screen of people who call themselves names like "twisted lisa" (see above)

3) Since your appeal is parochial relative to the American Population, and no American can abstain from having an opinion about everything, the "twisted lisas" outweigh the fans.

4) You become almost universally despised.

Usually, this cycle of hatred is justified (albeit flimsily) by a pretense of moral authority. (Celebrity x) chose to be famous by selecting a particular career field. (Celebrity x) dropped the ball by (using drugs, failing to wear underwear/shirt in public, dating a has-been and/or peculiarly religious celebrity), and therefore (Celebrity x) has it coming.

Never mind that most of us have used drugs, failed to wear underwear/shirt, and would gladly have dated has-been celebrity, regardless of religious affiliation, if only said has-been would even give us the time of day. None of that matters. Celebrities sin while FAMOUS.

But all Kate and Jon Gosselin have done is have kids. Instead of letting the media profit off of them, they turned the tables. Oh, and their kids are better behaved the 90% of the little bastards these hate-bloggers are (or will be) dragging into a department store near you. So much for moral authority.

Somewhere along the line, Americans have adopted the nebulously anti-Bourgeois attitude of the Europeans without (naturally) retaining any of the convictions. If TLC wants to pay us to do a show, we'll dress the kids in drag. If America had a new mantra, it would be "everyone should be unsuccessful but me", the perfect hybrid of stupidity, laziness and hypocrisy.

As for the Gosselins, they have re-upped for another season or two, so Americans will have the unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of the corrupting effects of their own malaise in real-time.

Now that's entertainment.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Musings

I'm not like those harsh astringents that can actually clog your pores. Let's muse.

Barack Obama wants to digitize medical records, stating that doing so will reduce health care costs and improve patient outcomes. I will simply assume health care providers were unaware of the benefits, and have made no effort to streamline patient information.

I am also pleased that Obama's plan will create jobs in the specialized healthcare technology field. Finally, these people will be in demand.

Maybe Obama will also be the first to realize that traffic is a problem. I hear there's a civil engineer in Tuscaloosa who was unemployed for a week three years ago.

The Detroit auto show (yeah, it's still around) awarded its car of the year honor to the Hyundai Genesis. The "luxury" vehicle starts at $32,000. On what planet are people willing to pay $32,000 (or more like $48,000, if you want "luxuries" like air conditioning and seats) for a Hyundai?


Israel's critics in the press are fond of evoking New Testament terminology in trumpeting the Palestinian cause. Israel, we are informed, is extracting an "eye for an eye", rather than "turning the other cheek". Taking these exegetical abortions at face value, these references serve two purposes:

1) To subtly reinforce the fact that the Israelis are Jews. After all, they killed Jesus for commending them to turn the other cheek. What else should we expect?

2) To avert the question of what, precisely, Israel is supposed to do in the face of a steady drumbeat of attacks by the ELECTED PARTY OF THEIR OPPRESSOR.

Conveniently enough, the eye and cheek passages offers no admonishment to the aggressor. In this warped pseudo-literalist theology, the aggressor can lay claim to the moral high ground. After all, Hamas took an eye, and has every right to expect a cheek (and a coat, while you're at it).


Eagles versus Cardinals. Warner vs. McNabb. There's a stellar matchup... If it's 2002.

Incidentally, did you know that the Philadelphia Eagles are named after the Blue Eagle. The Blue Eagle was a symbol used to signify compliance with FDR's (completely unconstitutional) National Industrial Recovery Act. Owners and shopkeepers who did not display the symbol were subject to arrest. Yikes. This is why I vote Republican, people.

Also, Donovan McNabb is only in the NFC Championship because he's black.


I'll have more to say about Gran Torino (which is excellent, btw) later. But I did want to note some information I read in the film's press materials. The screenplay was written by a Minnesota native, and was originally set in St. Paul. Alas, filming moved to Detroit on account of the city's film production discount.

I have heard the claim that the Twin Cities will remain alluring to companies in a recession. Our parks, university system and charm outweigh the high cost of doing business. Strike one against that theory. We're talking Detroit, here, people. No charm, universities or parks there. Money talks, whether you are willing to pay for a better Minnesota or not.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

TPWK Theater

Working Title: The Problematic Adventures of Struggles the Clown at the Hands of his Oppressor, Laslow Penny Chance.


Scene 1: A birthday party in the 1930s.

Struggles crafts a giraffe out of orange balloons.

Child Chorus: Yay!!! Struggles has appeased us!

Laszlow Pennychance burst into the room with a whip. He grabs the giraffe from Struggles.

Laszlow Pennychance: This giraffe is substandard! It will bring only limited joy to the children.

Struggles: (Frowns)

Laszlow begins whipping Struggles, who crumples to the floor. The Child Chorus joins hands and begins to sing.

Child Chorus:

When our animal dreams
Are put to rest
We then reveal
Our truest rubber
Man's medallions
In the gardens of our brother

Scene 2: A bakery

A chef spreads a dozen cupcakes on a plate, and goes back into the kitchen. Struggles hesitates, and then grabs one and stuffs it into his mouth.

Child Chorus: How is the cupcake? Is it just delightful?

Struggles: (Smiles)

The Chef re-enters, and removes his hat, revealing himself to be none other than Laszlow Pennychance. He picks up a large chain, with which he beats Struggles.

Laszlow Pennychance: You are unrepentant of your heresy. This bakery is pure!

Laszlow produces a large chain, and begins to beat Struggles about the chest and stomach. With each blow, flesh is torn from his belly, and cupcake residue escapes his mouth. The Child Chorus Begins to Sing.

Child Chorus:

When you have your cake
And eat it as well
You devour yourself
With every bite
Praise be to those
Who save the morsels for their brother

Scene 3: A slaughterhouse

Struggles is absent-mindedly working with an industrial size cleaver. He looks down to reveal that he has severed his own hand.

Struggles: (Frowns)

A man dressed as a priest enters, and observes the wound.

Priest: Fear not, brother, for God has prepared a new hand for you in heaven.

Struggles: (Smiles)

The priest removes his sacred clothing to reveal that he is actually none other than Laszlow Pennychance.

Laszlow Pennychance: You have subscribed to a lie! Now I will have your other hand.

Laszlow produces a cleaver and slices Struggles' remaining hand. The Child Chorus begins to sing.

Child Chorus

Take what is handed to you
And want not furthermore
For there is plenty
To be thankful for
And applause is impossible
For your brother to hear

(The end)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2 + 2 = 225

Additional math:



Monday, January 05, 2009

Monday Musings - New Year's Predictions

Now that the old year lies behind us like a freshly killed squirrel, I thought I'd make some bold predictions for 2009:


This will be the first year that a substantial number of papers go entire online. As a result, paleomedia types will request a bailout, which they will receive in exchange for vastly expanded federal regulations governing content. Obama will appoint some damn czar. No points for guessing how the czar will use his authority.


Nothing Israel does will satisfy the leftist anti-semites who control the UN and the EU. Realizing this, Israel will beat the sweet piss out of Hamas. Obama will punt on the issue, and be praised for his patience.


The Lions will draft well, and numerous sportswriters will again make them the sleeper pick to win their division. Two weeks into the season, those same sportswriters will be talking about how obviously bad the team is. The Lions will not win their division.


A white woman and/or homosexual male will be killed in Northeast Minneapolis and/or Longfellow, causing the cities ruling class to actually care about the city's crime. R.T. Rybak will face a tough, late challenge in the mayoral race

Also, the failure of the amply funded Minneapolis school system will make national news a la Kansas City in the mid-1990s.


A number of restaurants will close in Minnesota, but most of these will be chains, new openings by holding companies, or flat out crappy restaurants. Overall, good food will be more abundant and more affordable.


The transition to Blu-ray will be very slow, and the core technology will ultimately be remembered as a stepping stone to a better technology that incorporates the internet in a user friendly way. Early adopters will have essentially wasted their money.


Al Franken will be a bigger embarassment to Minnesota than Mark Dayton and Jesse Ventura combined. This, in tandem with the bad economy, new taxes (for which most people won't remember having voted) and the above-mentioned city problems will push the state further into the red column.

Mitigating against this phenomenon, an increased portion of our population will head to the Dakotas in search of jobs, higher quality of life, and fewer taxes. At least one "big name" company will relocate to South Dakota. 3M will threaten to follow suit, but will get a deal from the state to remain.


Julia Roberts will find critical plaudits for yet another crappy performance in a decent movie. The accumulated ire welling within the public consciousness will foment, though, with the release of some Oscar-preening chick drivel.

Coincidentally, Julia Roberts is slated to appear in "Duplicity", directed by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) and co-starring Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson. Later in the year, she will appear in "The Friday Night Knitting Club", whose director wrote an Adam Sandler vehicle.


In spite of his inaugural snub, Jim Wallis will be Barack Obama's Father Coughlin. The left-wing Christian movement will gain traction as the popularity of associating big government ideals with pseudo-Christian rhetoric continues to sway public opinion in traditional red states. The emergent movement will ride these coattails, ceasing to resemble Biblical Christianity in any shape or form.


Obama's inaugural will be hailed as the greatest in history. It will also be utterly banal.


By next year's Oscar season will be the best in years, as filmmakers stop making message movies (Milk, W, Syriana, Babel, All the Returning Soliders are Dead or on Meth Part 4) and return to making good ones.


Card check will pass, and the Eastern European mafia will get a foothold in the United States. Democrats will regard the latter phenomena as a coincidence.


Barack Obama will sign some legislation in favor of gay marriage or abortion. In order to appear moderate, he will accompany this with the arbitrary decision to reignite the drug war. His base will be pissed, for obvious reasons.


A right wing counterpart to Dailykos and Democratic Underground will emerge, featuring posts and discussions by angry and hysterically irrational conservatives. It will be embarassing to most conservatives the way Dailykos isn't for Democrats, as paleomedia will finally notice the blogosphere.


The Bill Richardson fallout will be more damaging to the Dems than they expect, as now the New Mexico governor's litany of past transgressions will be brought to light, and average voters will wonder how this schmuck became a leading light within the party.


The Republicans won't use the filibuster very often, though it will seem like a lot.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

To Vikings fans

You suck...

Not just as fans, but as human beings. To the women: you are exonerated. I've read the Bible, and I've pretty much concluded that there's no helping the type of woman who is attracted to a Minnesotan/Iowan. Seriously ladies, Esther is your ceiling.

To the men: My goodness...

At present, tickets are available at midfield. Not the 30 yard line. Not the 40 yard line. Midfield. For $160 (cheaper if you hit up Craigslist), you can watch an NFL playoff game, featuring your favorite team, at MIDFIELD.

Howzabout some perspective?

- I am a Detroit Pistons fan. Last season, I paid $125 for two corner-court seats to a regular season game against the Timberwolves. The game had no meaningful outcome on the remainder of the season. In fact, most of the Pistons starters sat out the entire game.

- When I was fresh out of college, I paid $150 to watch the St. Louis Rams play the Philadelphia Eagles. Further, I had to sit by myself. I bought the ticket solely out of respect for football (and was rewarded handsomely... that was a hell of a game).

- A regular season Packer game costs more than MIDFIELD TICKETS TO A VIKINGS PLAYOFF GAME... Do I need to repeat that sentence?

Look. I'm a Lions fan. Do you have any idea what it means to declare this fact in a public forum? I am subject to all manner of indignity, not least of which from Vikings "fans" who, apparently, cannot be bothered to go watch their team play.

My wife is a Packer fan, and therefore must accommodate the titters and taunts that accompany her choice of team. Fortunately, for her, she now has the perfect retort... Allow me to roleplay this:

Co-worker A: Hey, are you watching your Packers this weekend? Oh, I guess not, what with their season being over.

Khris: I guess you won't be watching your Vikings either, what with the television blackout.

Co-Worker A: But, I... I like Vikings.

Khris: Oh, so I suppose you have tickets to the game, then.

Co-Worker A: But, the economy.

Khris: Did the economy stop you from dropping $1,500 on tickets to Wicked?

Co-Worker A: But, but, but...

Khris: Upper balcony, right?

Co-Worker A: But, sometimes, I just feel like bursting into song!!!!!

Khris: Of course you do. Did you still want to borrow my cucumber scrub, captain Brokeback?


Co-Worker B: Actually, Randy Moss doesn't play for Minnesota anymore.

You get the drift.

In conclusion, to the many Minnesotan Vikings fans who are also my friends, I suggest you skip your damn pilates class and go to the game. Seriously, what is wrong with you people?

Top Ten Songs of 2008

Hey. It's 2009. That means 2008 is over. 2008 was an awful year for movies, but an outstanding year for music. Here were my faves. Go buy all of them.

1. Blue Ridge Mountain - Fleet Foxes

Seattle’s much ballyhooed Fleet Foxes brought us the year’s most gorgeous song, which seems to fuse everything from folk to the Beach Boys. Much has been said about the groups’ role in resurrecting “mountain music” (whatever that means), but I’d rather just consider the group on its own terms.

2. Who’s Gonna Save My Soul? – Gnarls Barkley

With a howl reminiscent of a cross between Sam Cooke and Eddie Vedder, Cee-lo delivers the best vocal performance in many years. While the album occasionally veers into self-indulgence, it does so in a manner that averts the nihilistic predictability of today’s pseudo-rockers and sissy-Brits.

3. Dig Lazarus, Dig! – Nick Cave

When he is not bent on creating the most evil songs imaginable, Nick Cave ranks among the best songwriters of this era. That said, “Dig Lazarus Dig!” sounds like a JLP blog set to music. Featuring the best riff of the year, the track resurrects Lazarus present day New York, only to recommend he retire to his coffin.

4. Bleeding All Over You - Martha Wainwright

Women seldom sing about obsession with the opposite sex, but Martha Wainwright pens the year’s best lyric, which also serves to name her latest album, “I Know Your Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too”. BAOY contrasts Wainwright’s past dalliances into maudlin rage, and comes across as a genuine love song that sets the pace for the album’s remainder.

5. Human – The Killers

I viscerally despise the cheapo KDWB-Abercrombie-ized version of this song, which eschews the complicated percussion tangents in favor of a pedestrian techno beat. The beauty of this song is that it flirts with danceable riffs, only to surprise us with a burst of densely arranged melody. The Killers have moved beyond ironic-retro, or are incorporating it more seamlessly these days.

6. Jerk California – Halloween, Alaska

Recommending a single from their forthcoming album allows me to pimp my favorite local band twice, but seriously, they’ve been promising the thing for ages. Get on it.

7. Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon

Lead singer Caleb Holliwell claims to be a virgin. If so, on the basis of this histrionic number, he’s setting himself up for a let-down. With their latest, Kings of Leon prove that so-called “arena rock” needn’t be hackneyed and stale. I’m looking at you Coldplay.

8. Painting – Atmosphere

Minnesota-based Atmosphere largely eschew samples on their latest, and “Painting” sets the dark poem of an alcoholic to a luminously plaintive riff that carries the song through it’s three minute run time. The idea that ‘Lil Wayne has anything on these guys is absurd.

9. Festival – Sigur Ros

This is what Sigur Ros sounds like when they try to make accessible music. The result? Inaccessible. But awesome.

10. Blue Bicycle – Hauschka

Sort of like Rachel’s meets an indie film score about childhood, Hauschka’s Ferndorf is a wordless album that communicates more than any talky emo-Nickelodeon musical theater reject conveys in volumes. If you like your mood music cohesive and well-crafted (or if you like Erik Satie as much as I do), you can’t do much better than Hauschka.