Movie Madness
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
So the summer blockbuster season is upon us. Some thoughts on movies I'm looking forward to seeing, as well as some that I'm a bit on the fence about:

Absolute must-sees:
  1. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. I am a huge fan of the first Hellboy movie, which apparently wasn't much of a box office success. I know a lot of my friends missed it. Still, it was a great flick and Ron Perlman just rocks as Hellboy. Even Selma Blair, who's a very hit-and-miss actress for me, brought her A game to the film, displaying some great chemistry with Perlman. Guillermo del Toro directed both films, and judging from the trailers for the movie much of the haunting imagery from his critically acclaimed Pan's Labyrinth has made its way into the new Hellboy film. This one is worth the price of a full price ticket, at a quality theater.


  2. Iron Man. My sister groans whenever she sees the trailer for this. Perhaps it's because I'm a huge comic book fan, but everything I see in the trailer tells me they really nailed this one. First, Jon Favreau legitimately seems to respect the source material, which is a big problem for me with other comic book films. Second, Robert Downey Jr. is perfectly cast as playboy billionaire Tony Stark. Stark is a bit of a prick in the comics, and the clips I've seen make it apparent that they've really captured this part of his character. I'm hoping it's in the same vein as Spiderman 2 and X-men 2 - good action flicks that remember that compelling character moments are still essential to a great film.
  3. The Happening. A lot of people want to hate on M. Night Shamalayan, but I have enjoyed every single one of his films. Yes, some are better than others, and he has never really topped his first hit, The Sixth Sense. Still, you can't discount his visual aesthetic style and the man sure knows how to set a mood. This one's probably a matinée show for me.
Possible diamonds in the rough
  1. The House Bunny. At first glance, it looks like Legally Blonde Light. And I'm never a big fan of movies where the nerdy, geekly, or just alternative girls are only worthy of love and attention when they get a makeover and look like plastic Barbie dolls. However, it stars Anna Faris, who constantly makes me laugh, even when the actual film she's in is terrible. As one reviewer said recently, watch out if this girl ever ends up in a film worthy of her talents. Anyway, the trailer made me laugh out loud several times (seriously, click the link and watch the trailer and then tell me you didn't laugh too), which is a good sign. It's an August release, which doesn't necessarily bode well for it, but since there's usually not a lot of good movies out during that month, this could be worth the price of an afternoon show.
  2. The Strangers. Oh, what's this wet spot here? Just the puddle of my own urine that I'm now sitting in, because that trailer is fucking scary. I've always said that the scariest movies to me are the ones that might actually happen in real life. A home invasion is one of my top personal nightmares. Scott Speedman is a dud of an actor, but the premise is scary and some of the visuals really freaked me out. Could be a quality horror film.
  3. Hancock. The first trailer looked kind of lousy. But Will Smith is a charmer, and the second trailer looked a lot better. Could be a decent film after all. If it gets decent reviews I might go check it out.
  4. Wanted. Because I'm Angelina Jolie's bitch. Also, it's based on a comic by Mark Millar, who is a great writer, and it stars James McAvoy (from Atonement). It looks like a really fun, turn your brain off, buckle in and hold on kind of film. If it's half as entertaining as Shoot Em Up, I'm in.
What about you folks out there? Thanks to the magic of Google Analytics, I know my stalkers live in Oregon, New York, Virginia and (inexplicably) Minnesota. What movies are you looking forward to this summer?
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NFL Draft 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
So the 2008 NFL Draft has come and gone. I am not going to review the whole thing here, as there are already countless blogs and sites rehashing every pick. Instead, I'll just highlight a few interesting things I saw.

I noticed several sites like SI.com ranking the drafts and evaluating who did the best job. However, that's not a great systems, as there are several apples vs oranges situations here. There were two types of teams drafting this year. There were the epic disaster franchises like the Falcons and Dolphins, who had lots and lots of holes to fill. There were also the luxury pick franchises, like the Cowboys and Steelers, who have a great core, and could afford to select players who might be long term projects. Luxury pick franchises are already solid teams - they don't need to have 7 fantastic picks. They can trade bunches of picks, they can take risks, etc. The disaster franchises need to be a lot more balanced. Yes, the Chiefs had a great draft, but they're so terrible, they need to. If the Steelers only get one good player out of the draft (and believe me, I think Rashard Mendenhall is going to be amazing paired with Fast Willie Parker), they are still in a better overall position than the Chiefs.

Anyhoo, here are some of my thoughts:
  1. Colt Brennan to the Redskins. I hope Colt gets a chance to prove critics wrong at some point in his career. I really think the kid has what it takes to be a good NFL QB. Jason Campbell is the starter right now, but he's not a total superstar, which means Colt might get a chance one of these days to compete for the starting position.
  2. Miami had a great first couple rounds. Stealing Chad Henne so late in the 2nd round was great stuff. Look for him to start at some point this season. As a bonus, he's a former teammate of the Dolphins first overall pick, Jake Long, so they should have a good chemistry from the get-go.
  3. Miami also had two key acquisitions that flew under the radar a little - they picked up former Dallas players (Parcells is going to drain that well dry, man) Anthony Fasano and Akin Ayodele who will be solid additions to the roster next year.
  4. The Redskins had a good draft. They're still stuck in a brutal division, so I'm not sure how great their record will be next year, but they certainly added some key players, especially at WR.
  5. The Bears are just terrible. When will they pull the plug on Rex Grossman already? Why pass on both Brohm and Henne? Even if they want to start Rex this season, having such talent on the bench, learning the system, would have been great for the franchise.
  6. McFadden to the Raiders. You know my feelings on that one.
  7. I think the Bills had a good free agency period and a pretty solid draft. I think they have a good chance of going #2 in their division (though they'll never beat the Pats, barring a major Tom Brady injury), and making a run for the playoffs. If they were an NFC team, I'd say they were a lock for the post season.
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Paging Clara Barton
Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
So I was all excited today, because the local Niketown has a running club every Wednesday and Saturday. Tonight was my first night joining the club. I've been running on my own, but I enjoy group runs because it mixes up the routine and provides a little extra motivation.

The run kicked off and we headed out towards Ala Moana. Well, as we made the first turn, half the group sort of veered off to the side and started running on the little lawn. I turned my head to check out the terrain, figuring that I might want to run up there since so many other people seemed to think it was a good surface. Of course, since I was looking to the side, I missed seeing the huge 2 inch chunk of sidewalk sticking up in my path.

I completely wiped out and left a good 80% of my left and right knee caps forever embedded in the asphalt sidewalk. The worst part of it was that it happened only 2 minutes into the run, meaning most of the group was still close together, so over 40 people witnessed my humiliation. I was so mortified that I sprang up and tried to be all cool, like "No worries! I'm fine! Nothing to see here!" I kept running and was a good mile in before I realized how wrecked I actually was. Both knees were bleeding, my left hand was jacked up, I was bloody and dirty... not good.

Now, I had walked a mile to get to Niketown for this stupid event, so I was too stubborn to quit. I finished the 3 mile circuit and just had the Nike people patch me up. The girl there was very nice, though she was a little too excited about getting the opportunity to test out the first aid skills she learned in high school (her own words). I then hobbled the mile back to my hotel very slowly.

Showering with the open wounds was a new kind of pain, let me tell you. I think my neighbors might think someone was getting murdered in here. Now both my knees have stiffened up, so I'm going to grant myself a reprieve from running for the next few days and see how it goes.

RunningHurts
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Damn you Pennsylvania!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Okay, so despite my best hopes, it seems Pennsylvania has screwed us yet again. Hillary has won, and by a double digit lead, thus meaning this endless slog to the convention continues. Perhaps if Obama can win big in Indiana next week, this may still end in a timely fashion, allowing us to focus on the general election against McCain.

In other news, it's official - the Dolphins will be drafting Jake Long with the #1 pick. This was what I thought would happen, despite Jeff Ireland's little "verbal slip" the other day. This is good news for fantasy players who might want to take a chance on a running back like Ronnie Brown, who now has a solid player at tackle to help move the defensive line and open up running lanes. This also means breathing room for John Beck, who really needs to shine this year if he expects to stick around with the Dolphins past this season.

Now the question is what domino effect this will have on the rest of the Top 10. It looks like Chris Long might slip all the way down to #6 or below. This might not necessarily be a bad thing - he may end up on a team that could be a contender next year. The Dolphins look like they're on the right track finally, but they've got a good 2-3 years before that program is going to really turn around and prove a winner. The Falcons and Raiders are a total mess. Falling down means a team like the Patriots, Saints or Ravens might be around to catch him. The Rams may still pick him, though I believe that they'll go with Glenn Dorsey instead.

I predict that the Falcons will draft Matt Ryan in the first round, leaving the Ravens, Chiefs, and Panthers (and possibly Jets) to circle around Brohm, Henne and Flacco in the second round (or possibly late first, a la the Cleveland Browns from last year).
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Yo Joe? No Joe!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist

So, they're making a G.I. Joe movie. Jesus Christ, this sounds awful. I'm beyond upset.

Allow me to set a little back story here. When I was a kid, I loved G.I. Joe. I mean, I LOVED it. In second grade, I demanded that my mother buy me camouflage pants and shirts, and then I wore them proudly to school all the time. I had over 50 of the action figures, all of which were meticulously filed in a little action figure case. I collected the bio cards from the back of the packages. I even sent away for the custom silver armored Super Soldier Joe character. I know Lady Jaye's real name and rank. Needless to say, I feel really possessive about the franchise and feared what would happen if they ever tried to make a movie out of it.

Here are some of the many things wrong with this movie, based on pictures and spoilers I've seen:
  1. Sienna Miller. How this no-talent bland actress manages to keep getting roles is beyond me. How they think she's going to play the Eastern European Baroness character is a mystery.
  2. Sample lines of dialogue: "Deep down, you're still the man I fell in love with." And "Do it, Duke. You've already killed me once." These clunkers are delivered by said shit actress Sienna Miller, for extra pain and suffering on my part, I'm sure.
  3. Accelorator suits of armor? Joes busting through walls and shrugging off bullets? The f**k?
  4. There's a Wayans brother in it.
  5. I love The Rock, but he's allegedly going to play Shipwreck, which is just insane.
  6. Joseph Gordon Levitt is playing Cobra Commander. Double insane.
  7. It's directed by the genius who brought you Van Helsing. Aieeee.
The only (and I mean ONLY) thing they've done right so far is cast the excellent Ray Park as Snake Eyes, so at least his ninja vibe will rock. Take a look at the gallery in the link above, and tell me that Dennis Quaid's expression doesn't totally miss "Bad ass military guy" and land on "Completely constipated".
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Ass!
Monday, April 21, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Yesterday was a very busy day for me. I ran 3 miles, then walked another 1 mile back to my hotel. After that I went golfing with my aunt, went to my sister's to watch the Calzaghe fight, and then went out drinking and dancing with a bunch of gay men until 3:30am. Needless to say, I slept in today.

I went to a spa today to have a massage. My massage therapist asked what hurt, so I told her that my glutes were a little sore. It seemed a little more tactful then saying "Yes, please focus on my ass, which hurts." I suspect the soreness was related to all the dancing. Anyway, she gave me a killer 80 minute massage.

Now, you might think that it would be weird to have a stranger's oiled up forearm and elbow kneading your butt. But you'd be wrong. It was great. If I could pay to have an oiled up stranger rub my ass every day, I'd be in heaven.

Anyhoo, here's a series of photos from Hawaii. Enjoy:
View My Album
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Medic!
Friday, April 18, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Team Fortress 2 is getting a major upgrade soon. They're adding a new map, Goldrush, with a completely different style of gameplay (currently there's only two types of games - capture the flag and king of the hill). The more controversial change is class-specific achievements and new weapons that can be unlocked.

Here are the 36 new medic specific achievements. I put stars by the ones I think can be easily achieved. Ones that are nigh impossible are highlighted in red:
  1. **First Do No Harm: Play a full round without killing any enemies and score the highest on a team of 6 or more players.
  2. Quadruple Bypass: Heal a teammate who's taking fire from 4 enemies at once.
  3. Group Health: Work with 2 other medics to deploy 3 simultaneous uber-charges.
  4. **Surgical Prep: Have an uber-charge ready before the setup phase ends. **
  5. Trauma Queen: Deploy 3 uber-charges in less than 5 minutes, and assist in 5 kills during that time.
  6. **Double Blind Trial: Deploy an uber-charge within 8 seconds of a nearby enemy medic deploying his. **
  7. Play Doctor: In a team with no medics, be first to switch to medic after a teammate calls "Medic!" and then heal 500 health.
  8. Triage: Deploy an uber-charge on a teammate less than a second before they're hit by a critical explosive.
  9. Preventive Medicine: Block the enemy from capturing a control point with an uber-charged teammate.
  10. Consultation: Assist a fellow medic in killing 5 enemies in a single life.
  11. Does It Hurt When I Do This?: Kill 50 scouts with your syringe gun.
  12. Peer Review: Kill 50 medics with your bone saw.
  13. Big Pharma: Assist a heavy in killing 30 enemies where neither of you die.
  14. You'll Feel A Little Prick: Assist in killing 4 enemies with single uber-charge on a scout.
  15. Autoclave: Assist in burning 8 enemies with a single uber-charge on a pyro.
  16. Blast Assist: Assist in exploding 5 enemies with a single uber-charge on a soldier.
  17. Blunt Trauma: Assist in punching out 4 enemies with a single uber-charge on a heavy.
  18. Medical Breakthrough: Assist in destroying 8 enemy engineer buildings with a single uber-charge on a Demoman.
  19. **Midwife Crisis: Heal an engineer as he repairs his sentry while it's under enemy fire.
  20. Ubi Concordia, IBI Victoria: Assist in killing 5 enemies on an enemy control point, in a single life.
  21. Grand Rounds: Heal 200 teammates after they've called for "Medic!"
  22. Infernal Medicine: Extinguish 100 burning teammates.
  23. Doctor Assisted Homicide: Assist in killing 20 nemesis.
  24. Placebo Effect: Kill 5 enemies in a single life while having your uber-charge ready, but undeployed.
  25. Sawbones: Hit enemies with your bonesaw 10 times in arrow without dying or missing.
  26. Intern: Accumulate 7000 heal points in a single life.
  27. Specialist: Accumulate 10000 heal points health in a single life.
  28. Chief of Staff: Accumulate 10 million total heal points.
  29. Hypocritical Oath: Kill an enemy spy that you have been healing.
  30. Medical Prevention: Save a falling teammate from dying on impact.
  31. ** Second Opinion: Uber-Charge 2 teammates at once.
  32. Autopsy Report: Provide an enemy with a freezecam shot of you taunting above their ragdoll.
  33. FYI I Am A Medic: Use your bonesaw to kill 5 enemy spies who have been calling for "Medic!"
  34. Family Practice: Uber-charge ten of your steam community friends.
  35. **House Call: Join a game that one of your friends is in and then deploy and uber-charge on him.
  36. Bedside Manner: Be healing a teammate as he achieves an achievement of his own.
Some of these are just ridiculous. What I fear is that the servers will be flooded with medics trying to unlock these achievements. This is annoying for players who enjoy good team play over individual accomplishments. Being forced to attempt some of these outrageous achievements is going to be really distracting for players. I'm hoping that Valve announces an alternate way to unlock weapons that is a bit less obtrusive. I don't play this game to grind out stupid achievements. Grrr...
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I see paradise from the laptop lights
Thursday, April 17, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
It sounds like a dream vacation to travel to Hawaii for 4 weeks for work. And don't get me wrong, it's awesome being in the islands. But working in Hawaii and vacationing in Hawaii are two very different concepts. Add to that the fact that I have family obligations while here, and well... let's just say I'm not exactly laying around on the beach every day. I'm pretty busy with work during the day, and my family has been taking up my time at night.

I had forgotten how lovely it is here. And I had also forgotten a lot of the things I didn't like about living in Hawaii. One of the worst things here is the traffic. Here are some of the many ways that Hawaii drivers strive to be the WORST DRIVERS in America:
  1. They make turns at 3 miles an hour. They do this even when they have a huge dedicated turn lane and a turn light.
  2. They make lane shifts without looking (at pedestrians, traffic lights or other cars).
  3. They refuse to plan ahead. That means they'll be trolling along in the far left lane, suddenly realize they need to exit in .1 miles, and then slam on their brakes, as they attempt to force their way across 3 lanes of traffic to get to the off ramp.
In addition, the very roads themselves conspire to get you. There are roads about 1.5 cars width across that are somehow 2 lanes (and people park on the street too on these!). The street signs are ill-designed - hard to read, placed in weird locations so you can't see them, etc. When you drive Westbound on H1, the exit for my hotel reads "Kapahulu Ave" and when you travel Eastbound that same exit reads "King Street". It's insane.

Starting next week, I'm going to try to stop at one of the military golf courses on my way home so I can play some twilight golf. This will allow me to skip most of the rush hour hell, which should help me out immensely.

In other news, Obama and Hillary went toe-to-toe tonight. I didn't watch the debate, so someone more informed will have to tell me how it went. I saw that a Pittsburgh paper endorsed Obama today, which is a good sign. That, along with Steelers owner Dan Rooney's endorsement, should help Obama out in that city. However, it remains to be seen how he fares in the more rural areas. I'm still holding out hope that he'll squeak out a win in PA, which should force Clinton to concede.
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Long day
Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Not much to report from today. I did my first day of work, and it was pretty good, though my security clearance was fucked up (as it always seems to be when I visit this particular org).

I got out a little early, so I took advantage of the 82 degree weather and headed off to Waikiki Beach. It's a nice little walk - about a quarter mile or so. The ocean was lovely, at least until I took a wave to the face and had salt water rush into my nose. I hate that.

The bad thing about traveling alone: there's no one to rub suntan lotion on my back. I had to ask the little Korean lady in the gift shop to help me out. The good thing about traveling alone: I can gobble a bowl of cream of roasted garlic soup and there's no one to complain about it. :)

Tomorrow will probably be a long work day. I'm going to try to squeeze a quick 9 holes in sometime this week (maybe Thursday or Friday). I'm already booked every evening this week with family events.

Stay tuned for pictures. I'm switching hotels tomorrow to the Hilton, which should be nice and posh.
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It's not easy being green (or Gumbel)
Sunday, April 13, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Sports Illustrated is reporting that Bryant Gumbel is not longer going to be a commentator on NFL Network. All I can say is, Thank God. That man was just freaking awful. If I'm going to be forced to view games on the NFL Network (and believe me, I fucking hate those Thursday and Saturday games they promote, which totally screw up my fantasy lineups those weeks) at least I won't have Gumbel's Kermit the Frog inflection ruining my mood.
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Dispatches from the Friendly Isles
Saturday, April 12, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist

Jessie Race 2
Originally uploaded by mad_typist

Aloha all. Just arrived in Hawaii. Holy crap, it's easy to forget how beautiful it is here. Hawaii is my favorite place in the world to run. In fact I just got back from my morning run about 20 minutes ago,

I was digging around and found this old picture of me. It made me realize I've puffed up quite a bit since I left. Now, granted, this picture was taken after I had just run 2 half marathons in the span of 2 weeks and had been training for 4 months. Still, it's good motivation for me, as I struggle to stay motivated over the next 4 weeks to get into my running routine. I'm going to shoot for a morning run at least 5-6 days a week while I'm here. Though it sucks getting up early, the nice thing about running in the morning is that no matter what happens in the day, no matter how badly you eat or laze around, you've done your workout for the day. I find that if I wait until the afternoon, it's much easier to find excuses not to run - I'm too tired from work, I need to get ready for dinner, I want to go hang out or shop, etc etc...


I'll be here for 3 weeks working. I know, I know... it sounds like a boondoggle, I admit it. But I'm actually going to be very busy during the work week. Embedded requirements analysis is fun, but grueling stuff. That's why it's important that I not let it grind me down to the point where I neglect to workout, go swimming, etc.


Other plans include golfing as much as possible (perhaps taking advantage of twilight rates at some of my favorite military courses), bike riding and seeing my family. And yes, of course I'll take some time to relax on the beach and drink margaritas.


I'm staying with my sister at least part of the time. Here's one of my favorite pictures of us from when we were kids (I'm on the right).

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Aloha, Bitches!
Thursday, April 10, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Well, tomorrow morning I get on a plane to lovely Hawaii, so this may be my last post before I head off. I upgraded to first class for almost all my legs (except for the first one out to LAX), so hopefully that will make the trip there and back much more tolerable. I enjoy traveling, which is good because I've done a lot of it. The key, to me, is to have an assortment of toys to entertain myself with. Here's a list of the important diversions I'm packing on this trip:
  1. PSP - a must. This little baby has completely changed the way I travel. I can play PS2-quality games, listen to mp3s, watch TV shows or DVD that I've ripped from my computer, and look at photos. The battery life is crazy good, even when watching full video on full brightness, and carrying an extra battery is no problem at all.
  2. Books. For this trip, I've got Ammonite by Nicola Griffith and The Commitment by Dan Savage.
  3. Notebook. Something to scribble all my crazy ideas in.
  4. Laptop. If I want to do work (ha!), or perhaps play a game or watch a DVD, I bust this out.
  5. Snacks. Nothing takes your mind off travel like a delicious Snickers bar. Mmmmm....
Now for some general commentary on news around the world:

Barack Obama says he'd support the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. This is big news for me. It's about 8 years overdue. I hope that he follows through on this promise, though he's been largely abstaining from courting the gay community. DADT is one of our most idiotic policies in the military today (aside from the egregious overuse of Stop-Loss) and is actually making us more unsafe. I've already ranted on this issue in a previous post. Basically, I expect either Dem, if elected, to repeal this ridiculous policy posthaste, so we can focus on more important things.

The Dolphins are now reported to be talking with Jake Long for the #1 pick. This surprised me at first, since I figured they go with Chris Long. Then I read this passage from the article:
“(Chris) Long is the safest player in the draft,” one team executive said, echoing comments made by many NFL personnel people. “But with him, you have to ask yourself if you’re going to be happy with a guy who’s probably going to be like (Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl defensive end) Patrick Kerney. That’s a good pick, but when you have a quarterback there who could change the future of your team, it’s a tough choice.”
The quote seems implies that it would be hard to pass up Matt Ryan, but what I really think it indicates is that the Dolphins will go with Jake Long. Matt Ryan is a decent quarterback, but isn't a sure thing. He's certainly not that much better than many of the quarterbacks that will be available in the second round or later. And as David Carr can tell you - having the quarterback of the future in your lineup means diddly if you can't protect him. Jake Long would shore up the line and ensure that who ever the Dolphins pick in the second round (and I'm guessing they'll shoot for Brohm, Henne or Flacco) will have the protection he'll need to succeed.

Rumor also has it that the Dolphins will be influenced by which player is committed to signing a reasonable contract prior to draft day, in order to avoid situations like JaMarcus Russell, who ended up sitting almost all season because he held out for so long. What I hope the players consider is which team they want to end up playing for, because that will impact their future a lot more than the first burst of guaranteed money. Is an extra million worth the headache of playing for a franchise like the Raiders? Does the thought of playing for a legend like Parcells (granted he's not the coach, but his influence will be all over that organization) entice a player? Or perhaps Arthur Blank's congenial nature would sway them. It'll be interesting to see how the draft plays out this year. There's no real obvious superstar - the Top 5 will all be very good, of course, but are fairly even with each other.
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Come on Pennsylvania! You can do it!
Tuesday, April 08, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I want to get excited about the latest polls showing Obama narrowing the gap with Clinton in Pennsylvania. However, the trending and polls looked a lot like that in California, and Clinton went on to win handily. So, I guess what I'm saying is... fuck the pollsters.

Anyway, I can only hope that the people of Pennsylvania recognize what a critical role they've been granted in this primary season, and that they make the right choice. Clinton can't catch up and our party suffers the longer this drags on. If PA goes for Obama, it'll be practically over, regardless of what Clinton is saying now.

Let's go, Quaker State!
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Beautiful Weather
Tuesday, April 08, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
To make you jealous, here's the 10 day forecast for where I'll be starting this Friday (for the next month)

10-Day Forecast


High /
Low (°F)
Precip. %
Today
Apr 08
PM Showers 78°/65° 30 %
Wed
Apr 09
Scattered Showers 78°/65° 30 %
Thu
Apr 10
Scattered Showers 78°/65° 30 %
Fri
Apr 11
Scattered Showers 77°/64° 30 %
Sat
Apr 12
Scattered Showers 76°/63° 30 %
Sun
Apr 13
Scattered Showers 76°/63° 30 %
Mon
Apr 14
Showers 76°/63° 30 %
Tue
Apr 15
Showers 76°/62° 60 %
Wed
Apr 16
Showers 77°/63° 40 %
Thu
Apr 17
Few Showers 78°/63° 30 %
Last Updated Apr 8 05:24 a.m. Hawaii ST
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Criminals vs. Homosexuals
Tuesday, April 08, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
According to this USA Today article, the Army has been granting waivers for past criminal behavior to new recruits at an increasing rate in the past 4-5 years. Also, the education level is continuing to drop:
In another shift in the backgrounds of new Army personnel, the percentage of high school graduates among Army recruits was 79% last year, compared with 91% in 2001.
This is troubling for a number of reasons. While the Army would have you believe that any idiot can fire a gun and thinking is optional, since your superiors will tell you what to do, don't buy it. The job is more than just running into combat like so much cannon fodder. What makes our military great isn't our superior combat skills, but our discipline and dedication to duty. To me, a person requiring a waiver for criminal behavior or poor education is a serious risk. Both suggest a severe lack of discipline.

Meanwhile, we still reject recruits and existing service members with superior credentials, simply because they are gay. That is just so asinine. It's also pretty ignorant of facts on the ground. While I won't name names, I can say that during my time in the service I met a lot of gay service members from all the branches. I mean A LOT. And I also ran across plenty of straight troops who were gay friendly and wouldn't have a problem serving with a gay person. So the debate about morale and whatnot is completely bull - they're already there, many of them are out, and so far it hasn't led to a single unit's collapse.

To help the Army out, allow me to present this comparison of criminals vs. homosexuals, so they can weigh the benefits of either class of people:
  • A criminal will rob your house. A homosexual will help decorate it.
  • A criminal will stab your ass. A homosexual will slap it.
  • A criminal has weapons experience. A homosexual... well, okay you've got me on this one
  • A criminal will steal your woman. A homosexual will take her out dancing.
Okay, a little tongue in cheek, but you get the point. Our recruiting policy is a joke. The Armed Forces are a great option for a lot of people - you don't need to lie to recruits or take only the knuckle-dragging bottom feeders.
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Great job, Penny! And other matters...
Monday, April 07, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Mark Penn, Clinton's chief strategist and pollster, quit campaign today. All I can say is, it's about time. He made several high visibility blunders when speaking to the press, and apparently he wasn't too popular with a lot of people. Reports from around the web suggest that the rest of the Clinton staffers were pretty happy to see him go.

Salon.com posted a horrifically awful article today entitled "Why Hillary Should Be Winning". It's written by a known Clinton supporter and is full of specious reasoning. Among his complaints is the fact that since the general election is "winner take all" in almost every state, the primaries should play out the same way. He also implies that since Hillary is ahead in swing states that she would be more competitive than Obama in those states against McCain. Lastly, he accuses the Obama campaign of actively trying to "disenfranchise" Michigan and Florida.

Where to start?
1) "Winner take all" is not a democratic system, so it's ironic that he advocates for that while accusing the Obama camp of being undemocratic. He conveniently ignores the fact that Obama is winning the popular vote, even if you count Florida and Michigan, and that it is unlikely that Clinton can win enough votes to overcome that.

2) It's been proven that expressing a preference for one person over another in a primary doesn't mean that that vote is lost if the preferred candidate isn't nominated. Do you really think California or NY are voting for McCain, even if Clinton isn't nominated? Do you think that all those Democratic voters won't support a Democrat over a Republican, even if their preferred candidate isn't in the race?

3) Michigan and Florida disobeyed the rules and are being justly punished for it. To suggest changing the rules of engagement halfway through is stupid, especially when it benefits the author's candidate so. Obama's name wasn't even on one of the ballots! Voters in both states were informed that their vote would have no weight, so I'm sure many of them stayed home. How can he argue that the results of those tainted primaries are a true reflection of the will of the states' electorates? Recent polls show that Michigan would likely be a draw (or even trend towards Obama) - given the choice between Clinton and "Other", a whopping 45% chose "Other", and that was months before Obama's emergence as the front-runner and "candidate of Hope".

Anyway, in non-political news, I'm less than 4 days away from my month long excursion to Hawaii. Yey! I can't wait to get over there, see my family, and enjoy some nice weather and beautiful beaches. For those friends out there reading this blog, post in the comments section if you want me to bring you back any souvenirs.
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Thanks, Big Oil!
Friday, April 04, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
According to Glenn Beck we should thank Big Oil.
Yes, times are tough for many. Sure, oil companies make a lot of cash. But, for that money, they get us to work, get ambulances to the hospital, keep our homes warm, and employ thousands of our friends and neighbors while financing their retirement, paying their health care, and providing energy to millions. Because of capitalism, they have the incentive to do that. I've yet to see what our government does for us with their rather large chunk of each gallon of gas we buy, and I've yet to see them offer to return it or suggest a gas-tax-windfall-tax-tax.
There are almost no words for this sort of assholery. I would go off on this, but I suspect that the rest of the liberal blogosphere will articulate my personal rage at this editorial.
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The Cult of Kevin Smith
Thursday, April 03, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
The Onion AV Club has updated their "New Cult Canon" series with an article on Clerks. Sufficed to say, if you are a Clerks fan, you won't like this article very much. He excoriates the film, ripping its "dubious sexual politics", dialogue, and lack of plot, among other complaints. He also insists that Kevin Smith's films only helped him - that his works have not led to a renaissance of similar films by other artists (as opposed to, say, Quentin Tarantino). The reviewer had seen Clerks when it was first released and didn't enjoy it then. Upon his re-watch, he found little improvement.

I take umbrage with this article, because I think the author ignores what makes Smith's works so appealing. It's not that the sexual politics are forward-thinking in terms of male/female relations (after all, the film's perspective is undeniably male). But rather, what I found revolutionary at the time was the language used to discuss sexuality so frankly. Yes, the movie's dialogue can come across as crude. However, it can't be that easily dismissed as merely vulgar. It's shocking the first time you hear it, but I think that Smith is really just challenging the cultural taboos about sex. The very casualness of the dialogue is the whole point. It's Smith's way of saying "Hey, it's just sex, people. Why is it on a pedestal? Sex is dirty, sex is weird and it's okay, because we all do it and we need to calm down about it."

There's an intelligence to Smith's writing that I think needs to be given credit. He's not a dumb guy and his characters are more savvy than they first seem as well. Randall's debate about the people working on the Death Star is famous for a reason. It's a goofy subject, but speaks to the fact that these guys aren't just normal fans, who consume entertainment without thinking. Is it unreasonable to think that Smith's statement is that what's important is exercising your brain, even if it's on trivial debates? That the ability to apply logic at all and engage in that sort of discussion is an admirable quality?

I also argue with this particular passage:
But Clerks, with an assist from the Weinsteins, muscled its way into theaters anyway, creating an audience that hadn't existed previously, and challenging people's expectations of what an art film could be. The odd thing about Smith is that unlike Quentin Tarantino—who legitimized genre pictures for arthouse consumption—he's really just opened the door for himself. It's possible that mainstream American comedies have gotten cruder in the Smith era, but it's hard to think of a single Clerks-inspired independent film that has made it past the straight-to-DVD market.
I believe that films like Clerks did open the door for other filmmakers. Most notably, I think it prepared Americans for the arrival of shows like South Park. South Park is arguably one of the most important voices in American social debate today. And it probably wouldn't be possible without the mainstream success of a filmmaker like Kevin Smith. Clerks proved that a work could be irreverent and crude, and yet still display intelligence.

Lastly, what Clerks does is strip away the pretense of the art-house. It says, "Yeah, you're a smart person who can appreciate high art. But at the end of the day, it's still okay to laugh at dick and fart jokes." It gives you permission to enjoy the vulgar, the crude, the blue humor. It's a film for the commoners that still embraces the intellectuals out there too.

Snoogins, my brothers and sisters.
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Jimmy Webb!
Tuesday, April 01, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist

Friends of mine know that for some time I've been rhapsodizing over a theoretical Obama-Webb ticket. Jim Webb, the senator from Virginia that I happily voted for in 2006, is an odd, but strangely appealing choice. I don't agree with all his points (and his Confederate spirit is a little concerning), but there's just something so... blunt and honest about him, that I can't help but like him, warts and all.

There's a post over at The Debatable Land making the case for Jim Webb and it's quite a read. I agree with all the points. You should definitely check it out. The speech quoted there is simply incredible. You want to know why Jim Webb opposed the Iraq War? Look no further than this passage to see what kind of leader he is:
There are at least two lessons for us to take away from such a day of remembrance. The first is one our leaders should carry next to their breasts, and contemplate every time they face a crisis, however small, which puts our military at risk. it should echo in their consciences, from the power of a million graves . It is simply this: You hold our soldiers' lives in sacred trust. When a citizen has sworn to obey you, and follow your judgment, and walk onto a battlefield to defend the interests you define as worthy of his blood, do not abuse that awesome power through careless policy, unclear objectives, or inflexible leadership.
He's an ideal candidate because he's such a perfect balance for Obama. He's the kind of running mate that can appeal to the working class white man out there, from West Virginia to Kentucky to Pennsylvania and beyond.

In other news, that fucking bastard Alphonso Jackson is resigning from his post as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Here's a list from Carpetbagger of all the various scandals that have plagued his tenure.

Lastly, for those of you who like to read, check out Wowio.com. You can get 3 free e-books a day from here. They've got a nice mix, including works from my favorite author Kurt Vonnegut (if you haven't read Slaughterhouse 5 or Breakfast of Champions you're missing out), as well as works from the greats such as Shakespeare, Jane Austin, etc. They also have a good collection of text books. In the interest of self-edification, I have downloaded several books on drawing, a few of the classics I've been meaning to read but haven't gotten to yet (i.e. Paradise Lost) and some random academic musing on American History and Ancient Greek society.
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The greatest show ever
Tuesday, April 01, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Only 3 more days until Battlestar Galactica returns! It's one of the best shows on TV (perhaps ever) and yet suffers from a depressing lack of interest from the general public. This cast has been ignored by the Emmys and Golden Globes, despite the fact that 70% of them out-act every other actor working in TV today. The great Mary McDonnell is just amazing as President Laura Roslin and we all know that Katie Sackhoff is just a great big shining star. If you are not watching this show, shame on you! Go get yourself the DVDs right now and join the fun.

If you have been watching, here's a spoilerific list of The Top 43 BSG moments. Great stuff. Maelstorm is probably one of my favorites - I was so stunned and heartbroken at the end that I was literally in a daze the entire next day at work.

Yesterday I finally made it down to the American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery, just in time to see the famed Stephen Colbert portrait (as of today, it will be leaving the gallery forever).


Aw, how sweet is that? The portrait is hilarious, and I'm sure the museum will miss it (attendance has quadrupled since its arrival).

Finally, in football news, it seems that the proposal to ban long hair that covers a player's name tag (Troy Polamalu, we're looking at you) doesn't seem to have a chance of passing this time around. That's fine with me, since current rules allow for tackling a player by the hair if it goes past the name tag. But I don't want to see Polamalu all up in a snit the next time he gets yanked down by his hair (and probably injured).
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