Friday, September 28, 2007

Could You Pass This Test?

The United States Immigration Services has updated the civics test immigrants must pass to become a US citizen. You can take the test (and check your answers) here. I'm proud to say that I got all 100 questions right, which proves that a BA degree in Political Science is good for something.

Kudos to the government for adding a couple of questions about indians.

What a Douche Bag

Ok, I rarely read the reviews on, but this one for Knocked Up really caught my eye. Almost as funny as the movie. Plus, I love how he derides Hollywood for its immoral views on violence, and his fucking avatar is Wolverine! What the hell do you think he does with those sharp claws, open letters?

(Helpful hint: When doing a Google Image search for "douche" and "knocked up", make sure the search filter is on. Yuck.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday Movie Suggestion: Things Change

Who knew David Mamet had such a soft side? Released in 1988, Things Change wasn't necessarily a departure from Mamet's cement strong stories, only a less cynical attitude his work was, and still is, known for; an attitude that was most likely influenced by Mamet's co-writer, Shel Silverstein. This is one of the best movies about friendship ever made.

The film stars Don Ameche as a sweet shoemaker who agrees to confess to a crime committed by someone who looks like him. For his time in jail, he will receive a large amount of money from the Chicago mob. Joe Mantegna plays a mob soldier in charge of watching Ameche the weekend before the shoemaker appears in court. Mantegna, an indepent minded mobster in frequent trouble with his bosses, decides to take Ameche to Lake Tahoe for a good time before the old man goes to jail. When they arrive, Ameche is immediately mistaken for a big time mafia boss. As high concept as the plot sounds, the film never reverts to a typical Hollywood movie; this story could have easily been made into a glossy, mistaken idenity comedy starring someone like Eddie Murphy. Thankfully for film lovers, Mamet constructs a film with great subtlety in emotion, atmosphere and comedy.

Watch the Siskel & Ebert review here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Think the 1st Amend is the One Getting Fucked

The college newspaper of Colorado State University is under fire for publishing a two-word editorial criticizing Bush and the recent tasering of a college student at another university. The editorial, titled "Taser This..." , simply reads, "Fuck Bush." The editorial has since cost the newspaper $30,000 in lost advertisements, as well as a 10 perscent reduction in its operating budget (all reasonable reactions to such a controvertial piece); but the saddest result is the investigation into "the decision-making process" that lead to the editorial publication. The editor-in-chief, who also wrote a a letter defending the newspaper's decision, now faces possible termination. Yeah, this is what we should be teaching in college: don't express your political beliefs or you'll face punishment. What a wonderful time we live in.

Friday, September 21, 2007


The iPod is about halfway full, so let's hit shuffle and see what comes up:

Smashing Pumpkins, Mayonaise Siamese Dreams

Guns 'n Roses, Rocket Queen Appetite for Destruction (According to a recent Rolling Stone article on the 20th anniversary of the release of Appetite - can you believe the album is 20 years old? - the sex sounds in the background are real. Axl supposedly screwed the drummer's girlfriend in the recording studio. Classy.)

Someone needs a little manscaping

Mary Chapin Carpenter, Passionate Kisses, Party Doll & Other Favorites

Curtis Mayfield, Do Do Wap Is Strong In Here, The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield

Michael Andrews, Mad World, Donnie Darkko Soundtrack

Dan Zanes, Shining Star, House Party

White Zombie, Electric Head: The Ecstasy (Pt.2), Astro-Creep: 2000

Letters to Cleo, Jennifer, Wholesale Meats and Fishes

Roger Waters, Run Like Hell, The Wall Live in Berlin

Bob Dylan, Someday Baby, Modern Times

Cracker, Get Off This, Get on with It: The Best of Cracker

Talking Heads, I Zimbra, Sand in the Vaseline: Talking Heads Popular Favorites

Barenaked Ladies, Fight the Power, Coneheads Soundtrack

Natalie Merchant, Seven Years, Tigerlilly

Pearl Jam, Not for You, Vitalogy

Barenaked Ladies, Life, In a Nutshell, Rock Spectacle (Live)

Nirvana, Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam (Demo), With the Lights Out

Moxy Fruvous, My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors, Live Noise

Pink Floyd, Hey You, The Wall

Beastie Boys, Intergalactic, Hello Nasty

Stereophonics, Dakota, Dakota

Stephen Lynch, Gay, A Little Bit Special

Aretha Franklin, Think, Live on Letterman: Music From the Late Show

Living Colour, Love Rears Its Ugly Head, Time's Up

Garbage, Silence is Golden, Beautiful

Phish, Piper, Farmhouse

Rage Against the Machine Guerilla Radio, The Battle of Los Angeles

Avril Lavigne Forgotten, Under My Skin

TV On the Radio, Staring at the Sun, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

P.M. Dawn, You Got Me Floatin', Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix

Louis Prima I Wanna Be Like You, The Jungle Book

Kelly Clarkson Breakaway, Breakaway (Yeah, yeah, I know)

Lil Jon & The East Side Boys, Get Low, Kings of Crunk (I remember a woman testifying to Congress about decency in music lyrics describing what the lyrics "skeet skeet" meant. Hilarious.)

Dropkick Murphys, Kiss Me I'm Shitfaced, Blackout

Wu-Tang Clan, Reunited, Legend of the Wu-Tang

So that should give you some idea of my taste in music.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Non-Oprah Book Club: On the Road

There's been quite a lot written about Kerouac's iconic book, On the Road, over the past few weeks in commemoration of the novel's 50th anniversary; all of it proclaiming its importance in American literature, and I have to agree that the novel is great; but will it continue as such a noted piece of work? I don't think it will. At 50, the novel is really starting to show its age. The revolutionary stream of conscious prose seems quite ordinary today, its influence dissipated so much into future works of fiction that it no longer holds its original power for modern readers. As those who first related to the novel grow older and die, the effect of the novel seems to age along with them. The Beat Generation after World War II is going the way of the Lost Generation of World War I. Does Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise or Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises hold their immediate impact? Not really. Both are powerful books, but reaction to these books are related more to the story, prose and characters than to their importance as societal commentary.

Having said that, On the Road is, as I said above, a great novel filled with wonderfully memorable characters, especially the protagonist's constant companion on his various journeys, Dean Moriarty, who is based on Kerouac's real life friend, Neal Cassady.

Cassady, forever attached as one of the pillars of the Beat Generation, would also become a member of Timothy Leary's Merry Pranksters and the hippie generation. But the Cassady connection is not the only real life similarities in On the Road as the entire book in just a slightly fictionalized memoir with people's names changed. One of the more interesting characters for me is Old Bull Lee, Kerouac's alias for William S. Burroughs.

If you've never read On the Road, or know anything about it, there really isn't much to tell about the plot as there really isn't one. Basically we follow Kerouac's alter-ego, Sal Paradise, as he travels back and forth across the United States over the course of a few years. If you're looking for a straight forward plot, then look elsewhere. The best way to enjoy On the Road is just go along for the ride.

The original scroll on which Kerouac wrote the first draft is on display at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts through the first week in October. Part of me wants to go see it, but then again, do I really want to travel to see a roll of paper? Not very Kerouac of me, I know, but I'm part of the Generation X Slacker culture.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This Disgusts Me

This video was taken at a University of Florida event with John Kerry. The student was asking why Kerry hadn't called for the impeachment of Bush.

"Freedom of speech is freedom of death. We've got to fight the powers that be." - Chuck D

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesday Morning Movie Suggestion: Dead Alive

I started a movie suggestion post a while ago (I have no idea if I did it on Tuesday or not), but I figured I'd try to get back in the habit of doing some of the things I promised I would put on this blog; which means a return of the Sunday Interview and the Non-Oprah Book Club. So, let's get to this week's selection: Dead Alive.

I first watched Peter Jackson's horror masterpiece on a bit of a lark. I found the video for cheap and the cover looked a little weird: a woman's mouth stretched out to reveal a zombied skull. So, I brought it home and watched it with my sister. Within five minutes we were rolling on the floor laughing our asses off. It was so good that we rewound the tape and watched it again.

If you've never seen the film, the plot revolves around a meek guy named Lionel whose mother is an overbearing she-beast who rules over him, never allowing him to have a life of his own. When he takes the daughter of a local grocer on a date to the local zoo, the mother follows them, determined to stop the budding romance. However, while she's hiding in the bushes, a stange rat monkey bites her arm. She cries out for Lionel and he is forced to leave his date to tend to his mother's injury. Despite Lionel's treatment of the arm, it worsens until the bite finally kills the mother. But instead of remaining dead, she comes back as a hideous zombie. Not knowing what to do, Lionel keeps his mother until she infects more folks in their small New Zealand town. One thing leads to another and soon just about every other person is a member of the undead.

The thing that makes Dead Alive such a great film is its sense of humor - it's sick and twisted sense of humor. The use of the zombie kid, born from the unholy union of an undead nurse and zombie priest, is so goddamn funny. If you like dark humor and gory movies, this is the film for you. I think it's the goriest, blood-soaked movie I've ever seen. Rent it, buy it, steal it; but definitely see it.

Another note on the film: I wrote a paper in college regarding the Fruedian themes throughout Dead Alive. I got an A.

Scenes from Dead Alive: (Warning: if you don't like blood and guts, you probably shouldn't watch. OK, you could watch the first clip - no blood or guts.)


Word, glorious Word. That wonderful piece of software has returned to me and I have celebrated with 1205 words of a new story by 2:00 AM. Of course, the damn enclosure I ordered for the old hard drive didn't come with the right connection wire (USB 2.0), so I had to special order an adapter; which means the novel is still trapped inside a seemingly usless piece of metal at the moment. But at least I was able to prodice a respectable word count in the first few hours of installing Microsoft Office on the new mac - as well as continuing on stuffing the new ipod with evey CD I own.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Can't Blog, Too Busy

So, my computer finally came last week and I've been playing ever since - mostly filling up the new ipod that came with the imac. However, there are a few snags. The hard drive enclosure I bought for the HD I took from the gut of the last mac disn't come with the right connector cable and I had to special order an adapter so it will fit a USB port. And I discovered that I can't find my copy of Microsoft office, so even if I could get to my old files, I wouldn't be able to do anything with them. So, no writing this weekend, again. I'm really really itchy to get back at it. Hopefully I'll take off like a rocket when I'm finally able to write again. In the meantime I have 30 GBs to fill up.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Howdy Party People

So, I'm a bit drunk (had to write that a couple of times because I kept on writing butt drunk and I am not butt drunk) and I thought I'd say how do. Well, ordered a new computer, which is on its way from Shanghai right now. And I got a 30G video ipod, which is cool - even though Apple is announcing an even cooler ipod on Tuesday - the bastards! Anyway, got the other imac in pieces in my office trying to take the hard drive out and put it in a seperate enclosure, but unlike the instructions that Apple shows you on line, my mac opens the wrong way. The front comes off, not the back; and I'm stumped as to how to get to the fucking HD now. Pissed, boy was I pissed. So, I decided to cool down by returning a movie that I foolishly bought at WalMart. Can I say how much i dislike WalMart? I had to return the DVD (300, 2-disc special edition) because it came with two of the same disc. Anyway, I feel like my IQ drops about fifty or sixty points as soon as I drive onto the lot of a Walmart. I look around and wonder where these people come from, and then hope like hell that they don't vote, but considering the shitheads we elect to office, it looks like these troglodytes are just lining up at the voting booths. Anyway, so, I take the damn movie back, and even get a replacement right there at customer service, only the clerk CAN'T FUCKIKNG TELL THAT IT'S THE SAME FUCKING MOVIE! Now, there's nothing different on the cover or back of either case, so a somewhat thinking individual could make a reasonable decision that perhaps they were the same movie - I'm just thinking. But no, the movies had to be verified but not one, not two, but three of WalMart's best employees. It took close to a half-hour for this whole process to play out. WTF?

And then (actually, I discovered this last part earlier in the day, but someone just reminded me of it),I noticed in the latest issue of Poets and Writers that the obligated ad for my MFA program (I'm pretty sure all MFA programs need to advertise in Poets and Writers as part of their accreditation), but instead of promoting the instructors or its unique feature of offering a pop fiction as a genre (a fact that the Atlantic seemed to pick out in its recent fcition issue - which, funny enough, the administration of the program seemed to ignore, even when the fact was pointed out to them), so instead of advertising the program, they decide to advertise a fucking party in NYC with a reading by some fucking friend of the director. I can't understand why people would think I'd have a problem with the administration with intelligent decisionmaking like that going on.

So, I decided to drink some beer - Gritty McDuff's Best Bitter, which is very fine indeed. And my lovely wife has been so kind as to go get nachos. Beer, nachos, 300 and Reno:911 Miami! At least my day is ending much better than the late afternoon would have left it.

Oh, and I got to ride on a choo-choo train this morning. My son liked it for the most part, but he was a little reved up (Whoa, deja vu major; I think I wrote that line before - wait, I didn't did I? ANyway, I get deja vu quite often. Could be something with the brian tumor, as they say tumors supposedly give one psychic powers or something). ANyway, even though he was a little rambunctious, it was a lot of fun to watch him and his sister.

So, what's up with you guys?