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"One of the worst kinds of ignorance is when you think that what you know is all that's known by anybody." Alan Alda on the importance of scientific thinking.

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You keep on using the term "drain the swamp". I do not think it means what you think it means. ...

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It's hard to believe that giving a bully a really big-ass stick would result in him thinking that the solution to every relationship issue would be a sound beating... <SMH> ...

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Of course they did... because... Priorities. ...

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Why Blubberella, Why?

Blubberella_CoverThe movie trailer sounded so promising. “A plus-sized superhero takes on Hitler’s Nazis.” “She’s half vampire and two and a half women.”  “She will kick ass with her big ass.”  This sounded like B-movie cinematic gold.I mean look at that movie poster!

It was Saturday evening. The fire was crackling, and the 6 months of free Showtime service we’d just received beckoned from the flatscreen. My baby, who usually is only willing to share watching such drivel with me if she’s asleep, actually suggested we watch together. She knows I’ve always had a fondness for so-bad-they’re-good movies—something she’s never shared, but she was up for a taste.

You see, this genre of flicks come in two flavors. The classics are the films that tried real hard to be serious movies. “Glen or Glenda” or pretty much anything by Ed Wood falls in this category, as do most of the vintage sci-fi creature features like “The Creeping Terror“. But there’s also a world of campy comfort to be found in films that never intended to take themselves too seriously. “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” or even the more recent “Mars Attacks!” are in this vein.  All are worthy of a couple hours on the couch calling out one-line quips at the TV in the finest tradition of “MST3K“.

Blubberella tries to be in the second category, but it doesn’t try real hard. And now, this is the point in the article where I should recap the plot for you… ummm… fat girl… Nazis… cotton candy… dead Nazis… fat joke… blood… hero sandwich… evil doctor… gay joke… look, I have a sword!… Jewish joke… hey, remember I’m a vampire, okay?… Holocaust joke…  It’s entirely possible there was some narrative thread that held these elements together, but that will have to be someone’s Film Appreciation class thesis to discern. I am not watching it again to try and figure it out. Although, in fairness, I didn’t watch it all the way through the first time. A half-hour in I voted to go back and watch Homeland on the On Demand channel instead.

I wonder if director Uwe Boll truly appreciates how monumentally bad a movie needs to be to get me to turn it off?  After all, I’ve watched “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” to the end, and I even enjoyed “Battlefield Earth“.  I can’t help but wonder what Ron Howard thought of his baby brother Clint’s featured role in the film. Did he call him afterward and remind him that he should never be too proud to call and ask for rent money? Or at least take him out on a Tranya-fueled weekend bender to forget the horror of the 36-hours it took to produce this mind-numbing waste of photons?

Worst of all, does Boll realize this has forever tainted my lady’s view of the genre? She may never again suggest we watch such a thing. And when I wish to, she will roll her eyes so far up she’ll actually be able to see how dumb she thinks the idea is.

It’s all ruined. Why Blubberella, why?


The Evolution of Christmas

Evil SantaHalloween was several days ago, which can only mean one thing.  Christmas is upon us.  Yes, yes, I know Thanksgiving is in there somewhere, but so far our WalMart overlords haven’t figured out how to commercialize that day beyond a good sale on canned cranberry jelly.  So it doesn’t count.  It’s Christmas dammit!  Why aren’t you out shopping?

Actually several members of my family (those with a preponderance of X-chromosomes), started the Christmas season months ago.  I know this because they started pestering me in July for what I wanted for Christmas, and for what they should buy my teenage sons.  Some consider themselves behind if Labor Day comes and goes and they aren’t wrapping presents yet.

I don’t believe for a minute they simply enjoy gift shopping so much they have to start 6 months early because they can’t wait.  Catch them overtired or with an extra glass of wine and they’ll even admit that while they love the idea of Christmas gifts, the reality is a pain in the tuckus, and they are just trying to get it out of the way.

In fairness, it’s not all downside. Pretty much everyone relishes seeing the unmitigated joy on a young child’s face as they open a Christmas gift.  And kids’ needs and desires change so frequently in those early years that shopping for them is often fun.  But shopping for anyone over 15 gets a little dicier. When shopping for older folks, gifts tend to fall into one of two categories.  Stuff they don’t want, and stuff you can’t afford.  Which explains why on Christmases-past you may have wanted an HDTV, but instead exclaimed, “Yay! Socks!” while quietly dying a little bit inside.

Retailers recognized this problem, and in recent years the advent of e-commerce and online wish lists have made things easier for shoppers to buy gifts people actually desire and value.  In theory, you just hit up your intended’s Amazon Wish List and select from the bounty of gifts he or she has expressed an interest in…  And a couple of clicks later, you’re done.  Which would be bloody brilliant except that most of us don’t bother adding things to our wish lists.  All of which earns us the ire of our loved ones who berate us for depriving them of the opportunity to conveniently show us how much they love us.

So now, instead of struggling to find the perfect gift for Mom, you struggle to find the perfect gift for Mom to give you.  It’s not clear this is better.  And whatever element of surprise there was in the giving of gifts has vanished.  “Oh look!  The new razor I picked out for me.  What a splendid wrapping job you did on it.  Is there any pie left?”

It’s tempting to argue that maybe us older folks should just mutually agree to wallow in each other’s company, embrace the warmth and the strength of our familial bonds, and forgo the whole gift exchange… but apparently that’s just crazy talk.  “These are traditions dammit, and it wouldn’t be Christmas if you didn’t get to open something.  So, just shut your heretical pie hole and tell me what to buy you!”

Looking at the evolution of gift giving on Christmas we see the following progression of things we give to others to celebrate the day:

  • Myrrh from afar or the occasional drum solo
  • Small handmade crafts, toys, or edible treats
  • Small elf-made crafts or toys
  • Thoughtfully or desperately chosen commercially produced stuff
  • Commercially produced stuff chosen by the giftee

Our entire economy is now dependent on Christmas shopping, so we can’t return to just offering each other a little pa-rum-pum-pum-pum without risking a collapse of the entire stock market, and I am not living through 2009 again.  Instead, let’s push this forward.  I think it’s time we move this along to its next evolutionary stage.

Why don’t we all just take responsibility for not only selecting, but for purchasing and wrapping gifts for ourselves from all our loved ones.  Just put their name on it and place it under the tree.  This is a sure way to restore the magic of the day, or at least the element of surprise.  Sure, you’ll still know everything you’re getting, but you’ll have no idea what you’ve given.  Maybe you’ll choose to have the whole family chip in on that TV.  Maybe they’ll each give you an individually wrapped Oreo.  Have you been naughty or nice this year? Who knows?  You do!  (Certainly they don’t.)  Oh, the fun of Christmas morning is back.

Who’s with me?


Back that thing up!

Martha St. Bridge
It's just a bend to the right... And then a crash to the le-e-e-e-ft.

I’m scouring the paper this morning looking for police reports of yelling and other peace disturbing behavior coming from the home of a local elderly couple.  But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see, I live near the Erie Canal, and there are several elevated one-lane bridges that are still the main way to get from here to there.  These bridges usually have blind approaches, and so have their own protocols for who gets the right-of-way and who has to back-up and yield the bridge.

Usually this works without a hitch, but last night, one old lady and a particularly non-linear bridge approach combined for a physical comedy routine that was funny and painful at the same time.

On this particular bridge, you need to bear to the right as you approach, which the old lady did with aplomb. However, as she reached the bridge, she found me about ready to exit the bridge on her side.

As per the protocol, and without hesitation, she popped her car in reverse to yield the bridge.  She needed to back up about 10 feet while steering gently back around the curvy apron in order to let me by.  Easy-Peasy… or not.

Instead, she backed up twice that distance while keeping her wheel dead straight, meaning that she now blocked the entire street.  My son and I watched as her head flipped back and forth and the reality of her current predicament settled in.

As we all know, nothing solves a problem like doing more of what you’ve been doing, but doing it harder and faster.  So with renewed zeal, the sedan starts again down the hill… on a straight trajectory… heading toward the guardrail on my side of the road.  The car jerked slightly to the left and right as the woman tried to see over each shoulder in turn. Yet she remained oblivious to the the outcome that was obvious to me as well as the cars now queued at the bottom of the hill behind her. We all watched, helpless, as the stupidity unfolded.

It was just a Yakkity Sax soundtrack from watching a Benny Hill skit.  Traffic was frozen as the car stuttered towards its demise.  There was nothing to do but add voice-over commentary for my son. “No! Stop! Turn right! DOH!”

It didn’t take too long before the sound of metal-on-metal filled the evening air as the driver’s side of her car was molded to the unyielding guardrail.  I expected to see a look of horror and/or panic on the poor woman’s face, but the incident didn’t appear to register.  In fact, she even gassed the car a bit to make sure it was firmly seated against the rail before making her next move.

Fortunately, her next move was forward, a direction that she was more comfortable with.  She managed to pull the car back to her side of the road and come to a stop.  And trust me, no one else on the road last night was going to move until she finally came to a complete stop.

We rolled past her, looking at all the crinkly sheet metal.  I gazed at her face to see if she was okay after her ordeal, but from her expression you couldn’t tell that this wasn’t just another trip to the grocery store.  Who knows?  Maybe it was.  Maybe this was not an atypical bridge negotiation for her.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t see a police report in the paper about her yelling husband.  Maybe.


Hero Status at Last

I’m a hero.  And no, I don’t mean I’m a long tubular sandwich, although the fact that I’m not should put to rest once and for all the notion that you are what you eat.  I mean I’m now an actual American hero. I’m in league with the likes of John Glenn, Abraham Lincoln, and Superman.  My time has come.  I have arrived.

I know I’m a hero because I’ve been recognized by a major celebrity on national television as one of our nation’s heroes.  And it only cost me $50.

I'm a Hero

This screen capture came from last night’s Colbert Report where Stephen faithfully acknowledges those who contribute to his SuperPAC by shamelessly pandering to them.  This is also evidence that I’ve fulfilled the promise I made to my kids last month that if I was lucky enough to sell my ancient boat for a fair price that I’d send a donation to the organization dedicated to making a better tomorrow tomorrow.  Done and done.

It’s not at all clear my kids really care about this, nor is there any obvious connection between boat sales and snarky political activism.  It’s perhaps more that I’m prone to the unwarranted linking of disparate thoughts running through my brain after 11pm.  But at least I follow through on them.