Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Internet Movie Database page for "Zany Dick!"


I have an imdb page for my classic movie "Zany Dick!". Congratulations to me, I know. The page is here. The Ricky Sprague imdb page is here. Director, writer, actor, producer. I do it all.

Astute fans will note the absence of a credit for Mr Jeff Porterfield, who composed the music. I've sent them a complaining note about it (actually I just went through their automated correction system), so hopefully that error will be corrected shortly.

I was quite excited by the prospect of adding in the "lobby card" that I made, but uploading that item costs $35, and they certainly aren't getting any money from me unless and until Jeff gets his proper credit.

Movie can be viewed here. It is not safe for work- it is not safe for anything.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Rewards of Using an E-Mail Automatic Reply System

I have configured my personal email account to automatically respond to emails from ex-girlfriends with a very nice, heartfelt response from me, and send the original messages directly to my spam folder so that I need not be bothered with them. I think it's a good way for me keep my present uncomplicated, while celebrating my past. After all, these ex girlfriends might mean absolutely nothing to me now, but at the time I dated them, they must have meant something to me. Otherwise, I wouldn't have dated them in the first place, right?

Every year, during the last week of February, I clean out my spam email folder. Last night I was going through the spam and realized I had several emails from one of the exes for whom I set up the heartfelt automatic reply email system.

Her first email to me:

hey ricky,
i don't know if you remember or not, but you still owe me $57 from that poison show at universal amphitheater 4 yrs ago. let me know when you want to pay.
hope you're well.
[redacted]


To which my email automatically replied:

Dear Ex-Flame,
Thank you so much for your wonderful email. It was certainly an unexpected treat to hear from you. Unfortunately, however much we might hope otherwise, the past cannot be regained, and we both need to move forward with our lives. I treasure every memory we shared, and I hope you can continue to do the same.
Please take care and have a wonderful life!
Sincerely,
Ricky Sprague
PS This email was as difficult for me to write as I'm sure it was for you to read. I wish you well.


So that should have been the end of it, right? But no, my ex wrote back:

what the hell was that? i send you a request for the $57 you still owe me and you respond with some bs about moving forward with our lives? i have moved forward with my life- i'm married, you re-re.
I WANT MY MONEY!
[redacted]


Of course the following response went out:

Dear Ex-Flame,
Thank you so much for your wonderful email. It was certainly an unexpected treat to hear from you. Unfortunately, however much we might hope otherwise, the past cannot be regained, and we both need to move forward with our lives. I treasure every memory we shared, and I hope you can continue to do the same.
Please take care and have a wonderful life!
Sincerely,
Ricky Sprague
PS This email was as difficult for me to write as I'm sure it was for you to read. I wish you well.


Her reply:

i know you can be a real dick but this is too much. one ticket to see poison at universal amphitheater, plus service charges, plus one glass of beer. 57 bones, on the line, right now, or i am going to sue your ass.
[redacted]


I probably don't need to tell you this was my reply:

Dear Ex-Flame,
Thank you so much for your wonderful email. It was certainly an unexpected treat to hear from you. Unfortunately, however much we might hope otherwise, the past cannot be regained, and we both need to move forward with our lives. I treasure every memory we shared, and I hope you can continue to do the same.
Please take care and have a wonderful life!
Sincerely,
Ricky Sprague
PS This email was as difficult for me to write as I'm sure it was for you to read. I wish you well.


One would think that would put an end to the situation. Alas, my ex responded a few days later:

okay, even you are not this clueless. you probably set up some kind of auto-respond on your email. are you out of the country? you better hope you are, or in some kind of coma or something because if i find you somewhere and you are conscious i am going to kick your ass up and down cahuenga blvd, you jerk.
AND YOU STILL OWE ME $57!
[redacted]


Can you guess at my reply?

Dear Ex-Flame,
Thank you so much for your wonderful email. It was certainly an unexpected treat to hear from you. Unfortunately, however much we might hope otherwise, the past cannot be regained, and we both need to move forward with our lives. I treasure every memory we shared, and I hope you can continue to do the same.
Please take care and have a wonderful life!
Sincerely,
Ricky Sprague
PS This email was as difficult for me to write as I'm sure it was for you to read. I wish you well.


Didn't put an end to it, as evidenced by the following email a few days later:

ricky,
i find it hard to believe i ever dated anyone as messed-up and cruel as you. keep the money, i don't ever want to have anything to do with you ever again. i'm sorry we ever met. i do not treasure every memory we shared. please fall under a bus and have a rotten, painful life.
[redacted]
ps writing this email has been cathartic and was worth the $57. i hope that you've learned something about yourself from reading it. goodbye forever, buttmunch.


And of course my email responded, as it always, dutifully does in such cases:

Dear Ex-Flame,
Thank you so much for your wonderful email. It was certainly an unexpected treat to hear from you. Unfortunately, however much we might hope otherwise, the past cannot be regained, and we both need to move forward with our lives. I treasure every memory we shared, and I hope you can continue to do the same.
Please take care and have a wonderful life!
Sincerely,
Ricky Sprague
PS This email was as difficult for me to write as I'm sure it was for you to read. I wish you well.


There have been no other emails. Thankfully, my email account's automatic reply system has done its job, helping me to avoid the sticky issues that come from dealing with ex-girlfriends. I highly recommend setting up your own automatic reply systems. I'm thinking of setting up another one for family members!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Psychics are Pscumbags

At something called "Good Morning Yahoo!" they have a video story up about how psychic businesses are booming in these tough economic times. It's good for some serious irritation as you watch the sleazy "psychic" Valerie Morrison discuss her service ("It may take a month or two for what I say to happen, or it may happen a little bit earlier."), and then some real heartbreak as you watch the man who was "faced with financial problems and the sudden death of his wife of thirty-seven years over the holidays" proclaiming he "used to be a skeptic," but the psychic "saved his life" (by which he of course means took advantage of him when he was at his lowest and most vulnerable). There's a woman who provides a half-hearted skeptical response before the idiot newscaster, Lesley Van Arsdall ("Arsedall?") lets us all know that the psychic pscumbag thinks everything will be peachy again come the summer.

Let's hope not- for the psychic's sakes.


Psychic Pscumbag Valerie Morrison. "Business is so good, she can't even take a day off." Ugh.

Now Ricky's Cat in Special Delivery is at Funny or Die



If this is the type of thing you're into.

"Mark my words: No union in porn!"

"Lesbian Bukkake 13" is now available on dvd. Having missed the first twelve installments, I have a lot of catching up to do before I rent this one. But if this review (xcritic.com is very, very not safe for work) is to be believed, it might be worth it. It does feature, well, lesbian bukkake.

The third scene includes a rather astonishing political commentary:

Gwen (at 30, no longer the featured young starlet she was a decade ago) laps up all the splashing jizz with gusto, but at scene's end she becomes strangely belligerent, turning to the camera to exclaim, "Just so you know, there's never gonna be a union in porn! As soon as there's dues, no porn girls are gonna pay. Mark my words: No union in porn!" Okay, okay, relax, it's off the table.


That's fairly heartening news, I suppose, given what union pay and benefits packages are doing to "the big three" right now.

The extras include a skippable five-minute behind-the-scenes peek (Jackie Avalon is shown napping after her scene; the girls giggle and pose for photos); a slide show; brief bios of the three named actresses; address and web info for JM; and a very filling plate of 15 trailers, including the charming "Irritable Bowel Syndrome 4" and "The Violation of Harmony."


Wait- I've already missed the first three "Irritable Bowel Syndromes"? It's so hard to keep up.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ricky's Cat in Special Delivery



It was almost six months ago exactly that the first "Ricky's Cat" video was removed from YouTube for Terms of Use violation. That ordeal was chronicled here. (By the way, I removed it from Funny or Die myself for let's just say personal reasons.) Now there's a brand new Ricky's Cat adventure, and I will tell you that this cat is the cutest cat on the internet. He's cuter than LOL Cats. Cuter than Simon's Cat. The cutest of the cute cats you've ever seen! He's adorable and I just had to share him as a "special delivery" from me to you! Cute cute cute!

President Obama Promises BJs and X-Ray Vision as Part of Stimulus Recovery



President Obama says he's going to cut the deficit in half, after just adding at least another 100 billion or so to it. But why stop there? Since it's all just talk anyway, and things are actually much, much worse, why not promise even more of what we really want?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I Guess Stephen Fowler Really Is Just A Jerk

Earlier, I suggested that widely-reviled "Wife Swap" participant Stephen Fowler was putting on an Andy Kaufman-style goof, a sort of exaggerated parody of the cliched San Francisco elitist liberal who thinks he knows the best way to live and anyone who disagrees with him- particularly anyone living in "middle America"- is a worthless doofus.

Well, it appears I was wrong, and Mr Fowler really is a cliched San Francisco elitist liberal who thinks he knows the best way to live and anyone who disagrees with him- particularly anyone living in "middle America"- is a worthless doofus. The jerk wrote an "apology" for his actions on "Wife Swap" on his wife's blog, which can be found here.

I hope you will take this as a sincere and unequivocal apology. I have been completely taken aback by the response my behavior generated and it has taken a while for me to figure out what to say. I’m not doing this to try and redeem myself. Rather I’m trying to try and undo some of the hurt that people have obviously felt as a result of my comments.


Catch that? He's been completely taken aback by the response his behavior has generated. Translated into Mr Fowler's native tongue, that means he didn't realize that rednecks knew what the internet was.

First off, let me say I am deeply sorry for the terribly insulting way I treated Gayla during the show. She is a very pleasant person and clearly did not deserve to be treated that way. In fact, no one deserves to be treated that way. I was a bully, and it was just plain unacceptable. Once again, I offer my sincere apologies to Gayla, Alan, and their boys.


"She is a very pleasant person?" Why are you saying that now? On the show, when you were actually in her presence you said she was a "dumb redneck" and "lower class". Is that what you call "very pleasant" people? No, you call people dumb rednecks if you believe they are dumb rednecks. You were brave enough to call her that to her face, but now that you know rednecks have internet access you're a quivering mass of- well, something really, really weak and wimpy.

I used gross generalizations about Midwesterners and I am deeply sorry for any hurt I caused with these statements. My comments were just stupid and made me look like the one who is undereducated. Some of my best friends are Midwesterners, which shows how truly dumb my comments were.


Yes, but those "best friends" who are Midwesterners are the good ones, right? The ones who've been transplanted from one of the coasts, probably. The ones who eat arugula. (By the way- it's so tiresome when someone is accused of insulting a group of people and responds by saying, "Some of my best friends are black/gay/rednecks/Asian/Hispanic/latte-drinking San Francisco snobs". Can we please retire that?)

Further, I regret that my remarks made me come across as a person who disrespects overweight people. I do not disrespect anyone for being overweight and I deeply regret that my remarks suggested I do. My wife has devoted her career to helping people and my comments reflect poorly on her and her heart-felt work. I apologize for my extreme insensitivity to her clients and her mission. Please don’t judge Renee by my actions.


His wife was losing money, because these dumb hillbilly rednecks got offended.

I also want to apologize to my family and friends and thank them for their support, which I scarcely deserve. I believe we can all grow from experiences and I will work to ensure this experience teaches me to become a better, more compassionate person.


I'm sure the wife from Missouri who swapped with you has "grown" from her experience, eh, Stephen Fowler? You just couldn't resist putting in another jab at her weight, in the very next paragraph after saying you regret making fun of overweight people. You are some piece of work. Anyway, you made a point of telling this poor woman how much better, and more enlightened you were than her- how could you become any better, and more compassionate?

Frankly, Mr Fowler, I liked you a lot more when I thought you were channeling Andy Kaufman. Now I just think you're a big jerk.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Giving Watchmen a BJ, and Forgetting Steve Ditko's Contribution to Spider-Man

Entertainment Weekly, a magazine that is part of the Time Warner megaconglomerate has six- count em six ('Watchmen' Exclusive! Six EW Covers!)- covers commemorating the Time Warner movie "Watchmen," which will be opening in a few weeks. There's also a cover story that reads like it could have been written by the Time Warner film promotion department.

Adapted faithfully, if not completely, from the celebrated 1986 comic-book series, Snyder's film is visually and intellectually ambitious, filled with heady ruminations about savior figures, pop culture, and the politics of fear.


Watchmen's financial backers are clearly hoping the success of The Dark Knight has primed the market for sophisticated superhero films.


There is an interesting bit of information regarding the version of the film that Paul Greengrass was working on:

The Greengrass iteration, for example, updated everything and swapped out the Cold War context for the war on terror.


Which would have been a totally bizarre and unnecessary change. One point of the book is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. For example the Keene Act could clearly stand in for the Patriot Act, or FISA or almost anything that our politicians have been doing to fight "the war on terror" anyway. Not sure how swapping out the Cold war context for the war on terror would have helped. What's wrong with being subtle?

Then there's this:

At a time when superhero stories are commonplace and our shaken country is pinning its recovery on an idealistic new president, Watchmen's director believes his movie can serve as a bracing blast of healthy skepticism. ''Someone asked me if I thought that because Barack Obama had been elected president, the movie was no longer relevant. I said, 'Wow, that's a very optimistic view of the future!''' says Snyder. ''The movie, like the comic, says, 'These superhero stories you've been feasting on? What if we took them seriously? What if we thought through the consequences? Where do they get us?' That's the fun.''


If Zack Snyder really hopes his movie can serve as "a bracing blast of healthy skepticism," then more power to him. For some reason, people seem to think that skepticism in the motives of the government are no longer relevant now that Obama is in office. (See here for a ridiculous article about Battlestar Galactica in that context. Only someone who hasn't been paying attention could think that Obama is very much different from Bush.) Maybe Snyder really is the "visionary" that the commercials say he is:



But the Entertainment Weekly article is downright Murrow-esque, or at least Couric-esque, compared to the BJ the Watchmen were given at the Time magazine blog "Nerdworld".

There is a press blackout on reviewing the Watchmen movie until March 6. However, I've seen the movie, and I'm not press. Don't worry, I'm not going to write a review of Watchmen. What I am going to write about is the emotional experience of seeing a piece of literature with which I have an intense personal connection LITERALLY COME TO LIFE. It's a serious freak-out.


(It's funny that the author mentions the press blackout, then violates the press blackout all the while asserting that he is not violating the press blackout. And on a Time Warner blog, no less.)

I've never understood this desire that some people have to have their appreciation for something- especially, it seems, comic books- validated by some outside force. Particularly movie adaptations. If you love something, as this writer seems to love the original Watchmen comic book, isn't that in itself enough? The effect that it has on you, the reader, is what matters. What do you care what anyone else thinks of it, and why is it so important that a movie be made about it? Didn't the piece of literature with which he has (note the present tense) an intense personal connection LITERALLY COME TO LIFE in his mind, while he was reading it? Didn't it seem to just leap off the page?

Anyway, the blogger (a "Simpsons" producer, by the way) loves the movie so much because

I'm not allowed to talk details, but let's just say it is astounding how much of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel is in this movie.


(Seriously- how is this not a review?)

He then goes on to make a statement that I found irksome, although I realize I'll be in the minority about this:

Really, the absence of Alan Moore's name on this is like Stan Lee's being missing from Spider-Man, because 95 percent of the words and ideas in this movie are all Moore.


Is he suggesting that Spider-Man is 95% Stan Lee's creation? Has this guy, who claims to be such a huge comic book fan, ever heard of Steve Ditko? Is Steve Ditko- who designed the Spider-Man costume, gave Peter Parker his own personality traits, designed the wrist web shooters for crying out loud, who at the very least co-plotted the first 38 issues of the original Amazing Spider-Man comic- only responsible for 5% of Spider-Man's "words and ideas"?

(Was Steve Ditko's name on the Spider-Man movies?)

That's rather ironic, given the fact that Ditko has stood on principle for decades- leaving Spider-Man after a dispute with Lee about the direction of the comic book and ownership of the character, and Alan Moore left DC comics and has had his name removed from all filmed adaptations of his works because of his own principled stands against the treatment of artists and control of their works. Ironic also considering Watchmen is loosely based on the Charlton characters, many of whom Steve Ditko either created (The Question/Rorschach) or re-created (Blue Beetle/Nite Owl).

The big question is, "Is Watchmen a good movie?"

What will people who've never read Watchmen even think of this film? What will it be like for them to sit through these crazy, violent, colorful three hours and not recognize almost every line – almost every image? Will they be utterly baffled, bored, or totally love it? Is Watchmen even a good or bad movie? I have no idea. I stand powerless before the Gods I once worshiped in my attic bedroom, now moving and talking and fighting and loving on a giant screen. And I find myself unable to judge them.


Well then why even bother writing the post?

The only way to know for sure is to actually see the film for myself, I guess, but I still haven't changed my mind about boycotting the film, despite the fact that the litigation between Fox and Time Warner regarding "ownership" of the film has been cleared up.

I guess I'll never know.

(By the way: I found the links to the "Nerdworld" blog from this entertaining site and this equally entertaining one.)

Dissent is Not Hate

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wife Swap Jerk- Brilliant Performance Artist, or Just a Jerk?, or, Is Stephen Fowler Andy Kaufman?

A few weeks ago on the television program "Wife Swap," a man named Stephen Fowler appeared and, well, he acted like a jerk. Here is a sample of him in action:



"If you live in a podunk town, your worldview is going to be restricted..."

Fowler lives in San Francisco, California, which is of course a beautiful town full of snobby people and Fowler, with his "sophisticated" Euro accent embodies everything you'd expect from a left coast jerk. He oozes contempt for the miserable Missouri woman he agreed to "swap" for, and takes every opportunity to insult her.

There's been a fairly serious backlash that has continued to this day. Here is a website devoted to just how much the foul Stephen Fowler "sucks."

I wonder why he agreed to such a swap, if he truly despises middle Americans. I mean, "Wife Swap" is definitely a flyover country program, he had to know what he was getting into, being so sophisticated and educated and all. That's why I suspect the whole thing was just a put-on, a sort of Andy Kaufman-esque goof. Compare Fowler in the above video to the great Andy Kaufman in the below:



True, Fowler didn't actually wrestle his swapped wife to the ground, not physically anyway, but the language Kaufman uses is almost interchangeable with that of Kaufman.

As an aside: I'm an avid watcher of the E! television program "The Soup," and they often show clips of some of "Wife Swap's" more colorful characters. I wonder why Mr Fowler's antics weren't deemed worthy of derision?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Evil Narrator on Openfilm



It took them awhile, but they finally put the thing on Openfilm, for which I am of course grateful. There are times when I think this must be my greatest achievement, but then I realize it is only my most recent achievement.

On Bristol Palin and Promiscuity-Only Sex Education

My second-favorite Palin, Bristol, says that abstinence-only sex education is unrealistic:



I don’t want to get into detail about that. But I think abstinence is, like — like, the — I don’t know how to put it — like, the main — everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all.


Abstinence-only education is not only unrealistic, it's also cruel, unnatural, bizarre and capricious. Teenagers should be having sex. Lots and lots of sex, with lots of different partners. It's what they're built for. When you're a teenager, you can have sex as many as seven times in a single five-hour period (I know, I did it). These people who are obsessed with "waiting" until you find the right person are scolds and prudes who want to control other peoples' behavior. If we were honest about our own biological imperatives and didn't have this morbid desire to try to punish children, there wouldn't be any debate over "abstinence-only" education- it would be "promiscuity-only" education. Set these kids free, for crying out loud, and let them do what they're built for, when they want to.

And while we're at it, let's nip this whole "require our youth to provide 'service'" thing in the bud, too.

Leave our children alone!

Reassuring You About Airport Body Scanners, And Pictures of Your Naughties

In airports, metal detectors are being replaced by body scanners that take photos of your naughty bits.

The scanners aim to close a loophole by finding non-metallic weapons such as plastic and liquid explosives, which the TSA considers a major threat. The machines raise privacy concerns because their images reveal outlines of private body parts.


If I were to remove my pants at an airport, I'd be arrested for indecent exposure. This would be unfair, because in my case exposure can never be indecent, but you get my point.

Anyway, supposing I don't want to be exposed in this way?

Passengers at the test airports will be instructed to go through the new scanners. Anyone who doesn't want to go through will be allowed to refuse and instead go through a metal detector and receive a pat-down, [TSA spokesman Christopher] White said.


So my choices are to either have photos taken of my naughties, or to have my naughties touched by someone from the TSA? Maybe I just won't ride in an airplane anymore. Or maybe I'll just go to an airport that doesn't use such intrusive measures in the name of "safety."

If someone could just point me in the direction of those alternative airports, I'd appreciate it.

Okay, I guess you've got me. Still, I'm concerned about my privacy. What does the TSA think about that?

People in the scanner will stand with their arms raised and their face will be blurred out in the metallic-looking image on a nearby screen. TSA screeners view the images from inside a closed room near a checkpoint and immediately delete them.

"We've struck a very good balance between security and privacy," White said.


The representative of the TSA says not to worry, they've struck a good balance between security and privacy. Somehow I do not find that particularly reassuring.

Just a thought: Suppose a small child is going on a flight. Does he have to go through one of these body scanners? And if he does, and the scanner takes pictures of his naughties, would that be considered child pornography?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"I Am A Man of Few Words And I'm Sedentary"

Frank Zappa on "Thicke of the Night," Alan Thicke's old talk show:



Brilliant.

(I found it on The Feed.)

How Good A Businessman is Donald Trump?

A not very good one, according to this article. Trump Entertainment, some kind of gambling/casino operation, is filing for bankruptcy protection again.

The Chapter 11 filing marks the third plunge into bankruptcy for the company, which was created out of a restructuring in 2005. It also underscores the struggles facing the casino business as recession squeezes casino gambling.


Okay, so the recession is squeezing casino gambling. Which means that maybe casino gambling operations should adjust their business models to deal with this, right?

"This filing will result in no immediate change in our daily operations, and we expect to make no changes regarding our operating structure or philosophy," Trump Chief Executive Mark Juliano said in a statement.


Oh. You've filed for bankruptcy three times, you seem to think this latest bankruptcy problem is caused by the current recession (so what caused the other bankruptcies?), and you're still not changing anything about your operating structure or philosophy? Doesn't that seem a little wrong-headed?

This is just going to make it that much harder to take seriously any of the business advice I might glean from the next Celebrity Apprentice show.

Evil Narrator





I used a wider camera lens for this one, so it's like it's in "VistaVision" or something. It's an epic.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Woman Who Went A Little Bonkers in a Hong Kong Airport is Lucky She Wasn't in a US Airport



Watching this woman express herself so forcefully after missing her flight at Hong Kong International Airport, it occurs to me that if something like this had happened in a US airport, the woman could have been killed.

Seriously, would you rather be in the Hong Kong airport, or a US airport?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How Do They Know?



How do they know what Dr Gregory House's IQ is? Dr House is a fictional character. They can make up any number they want! Why not just say his IQ is 500?

Bastards.

By the way, my IQ is just south of 100. I'm not saying what it is exactly, but it's in the neighborhood of between 78 and 92 (depending on the time of the month). My friends tell me that's about average. My friends fly around my bed at night and sing me lullabies. They are green and yellow and their gossamer wings tickle my chin.

I have the sweetest dreams.

I Hope Obama Changes


Given the fact that President Obama's definition of executive privilege seems indistinguishable from Bush's, and his response to the current economic "crisis" was the same as Bush's, and used the same rhetoric (remember that stuff about the politics of hope versus cynicism?), given that the raids on medical marijuana facilities in California have not stopped, and given that much of what Obama is doing in the Middle East is very similar to Bush's tactics, do you think that all those people who bought Obama's line about "change" and "hope" want their money back?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Who Are the Scolds Who Want You To Boycott Valentine's Day?

Another example of how our culture is "winning" in the Middle East:

Members of the Sudan Ulema Authority, an influential body of religious leaders, called on young men and women to ignore the event on February 14 and resist the temptation to mark it by taking romantic strolls in parks.

"Valentine's Day comes from Western countries. I call on Muslims not to imitate Christians," said preacher Sheikh Hassan Hamid in a statement released to Reuters on Wednesday.

"The money that is spent on Valentine's Day would be better spent encouraging young people to marry," he added.

The lovers' holiday has become increasingly popular in recent years among students and young people in the capital, with Valentine cards available in Khartoum shops.


Not with guns and bullets, but with greeting cards will we win them over in the Middle East.

So, Valentine's Day is the greatest holiday in the world. That's why the clerics are so afraid of it. Oh yeah, them, and some scold at MSN Money name MP Dunleavy:

The problem is that Valentine's Day, like many other American occasions, has grown from being a celebration that once aspired to some meaning, to being a trashy, materialistic extravaganza.

Think about how much pressure there is to participate:

* Every schoolchild, practically, is expected to make or send cards to their classmates or bring treats to class.

* Some single women feel so left out on Valentine's Day that they've been known to send flowers to themselves, so they won't look like losers.

* And don't assume couples are happier: For many, Valentine's Day is a yearly excuse to have a nasty fight, with partners feeling unloved . . . because they didn't get a stuffed bear or some candy. What?


"Pressure"? Seriously? In the Sudan, millions have been displaced from their homes and been victimized by unspeakable brutality and violence, and this "Woman in Red" is concerned about fighting over stuffed bears and "the children" being "expected to make or send cards to their classmates" (shouldn't they send the cards they make- I don't understand her wording there. if they make the cards, wouldn't they then send the cards as well- or are they keeping the cards they make?).

The Woman in Red gets worse:

This year consumers are expected to spend $102.50 on the same stuff as last year:

* About 36% will buy flowers.

* 16% plan to buy jewelry.

* About half (47%) will eat out.

* 58% will buy cards.

According to the National Confectioners Association, consumers will spend about $1 billion on candy alone. Good grief, Charlie Brown!

If my husband spent $100 on gifts instead of putting it into our emergency fund -- a far greater gesture of love -- I would make him eat the oil bill for breakfast.


Mr Woman in Red is a lucky man indeed.

She goes on to suggest some ways of spending that money that she deems appropriate. Not surprisingly, one of her suggestions is to invest in the stock market (with helpful links to other MSN Money articles).

If you're so concerned about spending a lot of money on this made up holiday, you can do what I do: Every February 15 I head out to the grocery store and buy packs of Valentine's Day candies for half price. Then put those candies away for a year- they're all sugar anyway, so they're not going to go bad- (I hide them amongst the cleaning supplies where my GF will not find them) and then when the big day rolls around the next year, I'm all set. And I've spent a total of 20 bucks on mountains of candies and other Valentine's tchotchkes and paraphernalia. Then I spend the other $100 or so paying my credit card bill or something.

Seriously, the only people who dislike this holiday are religious zealots and uptight scolds. They both think they know what's best for you- and that you need a stern lecture about it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fortune Cookie Fortunes Taken From Lines From Spam Email



I took some of my favorite lines from some recent spam emails and turned them into fortunes. It really worked out well- these are all better and more applicable to my own situation than any fortune I've ever before gotten.

It's Darwin Day!



I'd like to thank my friends at Living Waters/Way of the Master for sending me an email reminder that today is Darwin Day, the "global celebration of science and reason" (two of my favorite things in the world)!

For my part of the celebration, I'd like to take a look at Pastor Ray Comfort's ironically-titled book, advertised in the above email, You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think. I'm not dropping the 15 bones to buy the book from Amazon, but I am willing to "Look Inside!" through Amazon's good graces. Here's the first paragraph:



"[A]n atheist owes his existence to random chance, over millions or billions of years, of course."

Beautiful! Can you think of anything more miraculous than that? You, the person reading this blog entry, me, the person writing it, and all the billions of people who have ever existed, who exist now, and who will exist in the future, are the amazing, humbling, absolutely mind-bendingly wonderful result of random chance, over millions or billions of years! Thank you, Pastor Ray Comfort, for putting it in such amazing terms.

Still, he can't match Ann Druyan's beautiful words regarding her relationship with her late husband, the great Carl Sagan:

Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance. . . . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind. . . . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time. . . . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it's much more meaningful. . . . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don't think I'll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.


Wow.

Happy Darwin Day.

Are Men Growing Beards Because of the Poor Economy?


According to this article, they are.

Why the sudden growth spurt? The blustery weather — and brutal job market — are certainly part of it. But Paul Roof, assistant professor of sociology at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina, says there are other issues at play.

“For some it’s a trend, but for others it’s a way of life and simply self-expression,” he says. “At the heart of the revival, I think, is the ‘reclaiming of masculinity.’ Beards are a direct backlash against metrosexuality and the feminization of modern man. But beards are also the only accessory route that men have — the only way men can change their looks.”


Of course that's not true- men can change their looks in all sorts of ways. I used to color my hair all the time, for instance. And I still could, if I wanted to. Men can choose to wear short robes, as I do. They can choose wear makeup. That's not a choice I would make for myself, but I'm not you and I'm not judging.

But maybe there is something to the "feminization of masculinity" thing- I've been too busy "being a man" to notice if I was being feminized.

Anyway, the article's proof of this big trend?

According to the marketing research company The NPD Group, sales of electric shavers and men’s facial trimmers have dipped 12 percent just in the last year while beard-related activities are, well, bristling.

Beard Team USA, a division of the World Beard and Moustache Championships, boasts 36 chapters in the U.S. alone, many in urban hotspots such as Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis and New York. There are beard contests and beard blogs, mustache movies and facial hair fundraisers.


A 12% drop in sales of electric shavers and facial trimmers during the very recession that's causing the trend you're writing about? That is shocking that people would choose not to drop 40 bucks (or more, much more- maintenance on those things is problematic and irritating) on electric shavers when they can buy a pack of more convenient disposables for much less.

As for the other things, social networking sites are quite popular anyway, so big deal if there are a few beard blogs. For crying out loud there are over 100 million blogs out there right now. Of those 100 million, two things can be said: some of them must be devoted to beards (here's one! here's another!), and my blog is the best.

This "beard trend" story is just another one of those "woman swims across the Atlantic" stories. It's kinda not actually true.

For my part, I would like to state that my beard has nothing to do with the current recession- it simply a present I'm giving to my face. It's been through a lot, and deserves it.

Bonus update later in the day: Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman's show, representing bearded men everywhere. Way to go!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Teen Whose Parents Made Him Wear His Bad Grades Doesn't Know How Good He's Got it.

Via this blog I found this story about a fifteen year old kid whose parents made him wear a sign displaying his bad grades.

His parents, fed up by their son's lack of effort, conjured up the idea as a way to get through to the 15-year-old Western Branch High School freshman.

"He hadn't been trying at all," said the Rev. Donald General Jr., pastor of Perfecting Saints Church of God in Christ in Virginia Beach. "He's not even handing in work he does when we supervise him. My wife and I are not going to give up on Tre."

General and his wife, Tanyeil, say there is no excuse for lousy grades, especially since they said they both have several academic degrees.


The lesson is that it sucks to have parents who spent years of their lives getting "several academic degrees." Learn to be more like your parents, kid. One of whom is a pastor at "Perfecting Saints Church." I guess they're trying to perfect their son.

But it could be worse: I wet the bed until I was fifteen, and my parents forced me to stand on the street corner draped in my urine-soaked sheets. To dry them out, and teach me a valuable lesson. Winter was the hardest- it would get down below freezing, ice and snow on the ground, and there I was covered in icy sheets. That really sucked.

Why Are Baseball Players Held to a Higher Standard than Politicians?

Sports Videos, News, Blogs


President Obama at last night's press conference that pre-empted "House," opining on Alex Rodriguez, who is apparently some sort of "baseball player":

"I think it's depressing news on top of what's been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to Major League Baseball. And if you're a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it -- it tarnishes an entire era to some degree. And it's unfortunate, because I think there are a lot of ballplayers who played it straight. And the thing I'm probably most concerned about is the message that it sends to our kids.

What I'm pleased about is Major League Baseball seems to finally be taking this seriously, to recognize how big of a problem this is for the sport. And that our kids, hopefully, are watching and saying, you know what, there are no shortcuts; that when you try to take shortcuts, you may end up tarnishing your entire career, and that your integrity is not worth it. That's the message I hope is communicated."


The man who's trying to push a "stimulus" that will burden future generations with massive debt (and without any of that time-consuming debate) is suddenly worried about "the children"? Because of a mothereffing baseball player taking a drug to help him recover more quickly between practices?

"There are no shortcuts?" Isn't this whole stimulus a "shortcut" through our supposedly dire economic situation?

"That's the message I hope is communicated?" The "message" of the stimulus to these kids he's so worried about can be summed up in two words: "Eff you." We're in trouble, now you're going to pay for it.

At least Alex Rodriguez is owning up to his "mistake." He's been caught and he's coming clean. The president is doubling down, making things worse.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine's Day Haiku



Try not to forget how important this holiday is.

I believe that the above was composed originally by the great but obscure author Joel S Muttoe in his more cynical days.

Do You Suppose Barbara Walters is Actually 150 Years Old?

Or is it all just some kind of marketing ploy?



Not to brag, but I am on some very exclusive e-mailing lists, with offers including opportunities to help people fight bureaucracy in Nigeria, use witchcraft to my advantage, and meet lonely housewives who are willing to cheat on their husbands with me. But I have to say that the most recent email opportunity I've received might be the most exciting of all- the chance to make it to 150 years old-- just like, apparently, if this email is to be believed (screenshot above) the very famous co-host of "The View," Barbara Walters.

(By the way: The phrase "All the benefits of red wine with out the alcohol" is not only grammatically questionable, it's also not a selling point. Alcohol is one of the benefits of red wine.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Footage of Octuplets Birth Found Here!



I should have been doing just about anything else. At least it's over quickly.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How Insane is the "Bailout"?

First, the government forces banks to take a "bailout" they don't want or need.

Then the government tells these banks that "Institutions that get assistance will have to participate in loan modifications and meet other standards that we set. Public assistance is a privilege, not a right."

To summarize:

"You need this."

"No, I don't."

"Take it."

"I don't want it."

"Shut up and take it or there will be trouble."

"(Sigh) All right I'll take it. I don't want it but I'll take it."

"Now you took the money, do what we say."

"I didn't want the money."

"That doesn't matter. You took the money- it was a privilege, not a right."

"Actually it wasn't a privilege or a right- you forced it on me."

"Shut up, you crooked bastards."

I'm no economist, but doesn't it look kind of sorta like the government wants to make these banks fail? They've done so well in the past.

At least the government is winning part of the perception war.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Was A Man Really Killed By An Exploding Cell Phone in China?

It sounds both tragic and a little fishy.

A man has died after his mobile phone exploded, severing a major artery in his neck, according to reports.

The man, thought to be a shop assistant in his twenties at a computer shop in Guangzhou, China, died after he put a new battery in his phone. It was believed that he may have just finished charging the battery and had put the phone in his breast pocket when it exploded.

According to the local Chinese daily Shin Min Daily News, the accident happened on January 30 at 7.30pm. An employee at the shop told Chinese media that she heard a loud bang and saw her colleague lying on the floor of the shop in a pool of blood. The employee said the victim had recently changed the battery in his mobile phone.

Chinese authorities have yet to determine the make and model of the phone and its battery. Some reports indicated the store was a Lenovo shop, but it was thought that this might be because the shop advertised Lenovo computer products. Police were investigating whether the phone and battery were counterfeit.


Sketchy details, no names, alarming warnings. This sounds like "internet addiction" or "kissing deafness" all over again.

Should we take this seriously? Well, the yahoo! tech "Working Guy" makes a bold statement on the matter:

One can never be too sure about the veracity of reports that come from the Chinese press, but I can't seen any reason to specifically doubt this one, which says that an exploding mobile phone has killed a man in Guangzhou, China, after a fragment severed an artery in the man's neck.


Way to take a stand, Working Guy!

More "Change" From President Obama!



Who said this:

"A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession, a less robust recovery, and a more uncertain future," he said.


And who said this:
"Our entire economy is in danger. Without immediate action by Congress, America can slip into a major panic."

If you guessed that Obama made the first alarmist statement, and Bush made the second, you probably peeked at my little comic.

Obama is some agent of change, huh? Pushing the same policies as his predecessor, and saying pretty much the same things. I guess Bush wasn't so bad after all, huh?

Is it too early to break out the BUCK FARACK bumper sticker?

Regret- The Best Butt Call of My Life.

From January 2000 through May 2004 my cell phone was a Qualcomm Dual Band QCP-2760 model with an open face:



When I wasn’t using it to place calls, I would put it in my front pants pocket. As you can see from the photo, the buttons are all exposed, the phone does not fold, and so there were times when I would inadvertently press the buttons and place calls. The calls would go through without my realizing, so the person called would get to listen to whatever I was doing at the time.

Sometimes the result was pretty funny. Once when I was riding the Batman ride at Six Flags outside LA I called a friend of mine who picked up the phone and heard me screaming at the top of my lungs. Unsure as to whether or not I was being tortured, my friend hung up the phone and went back to her nap. Another time I was at my day job having a discussion with a coworker about how much she disliked one of our supervisors. During this discussion I was sitting at my desk and somehow dialed the number of my editorial contact at Mad magazine. Oh how we laughed about it later.

Accidentally dialing a phone that is in your pocket is called making a “butt call.” Obviously I’ve had some good experiences with the phenomenon, but the best butt call I ever made might be the one I regret the most.

I had recently broken up with a woman and was getting back into the “dating scene.” I happened to get a date with a delightful coworker I’d had a crush on for awhile, and the date went so well that we started making out on her couch. One thing led to another and we ended up having sex. It was great, so quick and dirty that I didn’t even have time to get my pants all the way off.

The next day my ex girlfriend called me and said, “So you had a good time last night.”

“What do you mean?” I asked innocently.

“I heard all about your ‘concupiscent rollick’ (I like to talk dirty and at the time I had an eccentric- some might even say pretentious- vocabulary). You called me while you were doing it.”

“Oh, wow. Really? I’m sorry, I had no-“

“Don’t be,” she said. “It was hot. I was home anyway so I decided to listen and get myself off.”

My eccentric vocabulary let me down- I had no response.

“What’s she look like?” my ex girlfriend asked.

I described her.

“She sounds hot. You think you’re going to see her again?”

“We actually have plans to see each other tomorrow night.”

“If you sleep with her again, do you think she’d let me watch?”

This was an idea that never would have occurred to me on my own, but hearing it from my ex girlfriend it seemed the best idea I’d ever heard, and I wondered why it never would have occurred to me. Apparently my imagination wasn’t what I thought it was. “Damn I hope so,” I said, truthfully.

The next night my ex girlfriend “accidentally” ran into us at the little door, sat down and got acquainted. The dinner wore on, and my ex didn’t leave our table. Finally, after dessert, she said, “So I guess you two are going to satisfy your libidinous yearning, huh?”

I admit I swelled with pride over my ex girlfriend’s use of language. She never would have phrased it like that before meeting me.

My date laughed. “You talk like that, too!” she said. “I love it!”

“Doesn’t everybody talk like that?” my ex girlfriend said.

“No!” my date said. “But to answer your question, we are going to satisfy our yearning right now-“

“And just how do you plan on doing that? I want details.” My ex girlfriend was pushing a little too hard, it seemed to me, but my date smiled mischievously at me and said,

“If you’re that interested, why don’t you and your vocabulary join us?”

So the three of us had sex that night. It was my third three-way so I was relatively relaxed but I have to admit that I wasn’t as excited as I should have been. It wasn’t really me that stimulated her- it was my vocabulary. She kept telling my ex girlfriend to “use your words, use your big, big words!”

It was only a matter of time before she found someone with a better car and job and a thesaurus to replace me. The rest of our relationship was just marking time. But it was nice to date two women for awhile.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Something Brilliant I Didn't Do



This is brilliant and very not safe for work. A remix of Christian Bale's Terminator meltdown. It's pretty catchy- the song can be downloaded here. And, I guess I'm going to have to watch this new RuPaul show, too.

It's Time To Start Thinking Seriously About Banning Car Doors

According to this article, you are at a high risk of being injured in a car-related accident when the car isn't even moving.

At nearly 150,000 incidents per year, injuries caused by a closing door are the most common auto-related injury, according to a report released yesterday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The report evaluated the type and amount of non-traffic-related injuries nationwide, the first time the government agency has compiled such data.


It's clearly time to start thinking about removing the doors from cars. Those things can hurt you.

While we're at it, let's ban jacks, and for that matter let's leave it only to licensed, professional mechanics to make repairs on the cars.

Along with those 150,000 people who injured themselves closing a car door, another 10,000 each year are seriously injured when using a jack or other type of hoist. A full 74,000 are injured by a falling vehicle or vehicle part.


"I don't think anyone until now had an accurate sense of the extent of vehicle-related injuries and fatalities that did not occur on a public highway," says Rae Tyson, a spokesman for NHTSA. "It certainly underscores the risks that exist in a vehicle whether it's on the road or off, and I hope it will call some attention to some of those issues."


Message heard loud and clear: More regulation is needed!

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad!

Some sincere Valentine's Day anniversary wishes for Mom & Dad!



My first "vlog," probably my last, and my first "live action" video. Also, I think this is my 400th post to this blog, so it's an anniversary all the way around.

Monday, February 2, 2009

In Praise of All the Animals Who Are Biting Politicians

A "clinically depressed" poodle bit that jackass Jacques Chirac, former president of France, and a groundhog bit that jackass Michael Bloomberg, current president of New York City.

Is it too much to hope that this is the start of a trend? Maybe the next time some politicians go swimming with dolphins (the water's fine, Senator McCain) or attend zoo openings (oh please check out the tiger cage, Mr Vice President) we'll get some more such heartening news?

The EXaggerator Episode 2: She's Really Not As Bad As People Say

The second episode of The EXaggerator is up now at Funny or Die and YouTube.





Please enjoy them, hopefully.

Credits:
Ricky Sprague- Animation, script
Chris Gortz- Co-creator, voices of Exaggerator and Excellent Man
Tammy McDaniel- voices of Crimson Emasculatrix and Parisite
Jeff Porterfield- music

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Have No Idea What the Movie "New In Town" is About



But Renee Zellweger's legs have had an almost hypnotic hold over me ever since I first saw this intoxicatingly designed poster. Is it possible that Renee Zellweger's legs really look that good? Seriously? Whoever designed this poster should win every award given for designing movie posters. The legs are great, that's a given, but the placement of the legs- splitting the title right down the middle, spreading those letters apart nice and wide, terminating in those lovely red shoes. And- is she sitting on a cloud? Floating up through the heavens like some beautiful-legged angel. You almost don't even notice the come-hither look in the eyes and the wry smile on her let's just admit it angelic face.

I think it's safe to say that however good "New In Town" the film might be, the poster is the best of 2009. The only way it could possibly be any better would be if Ms Zellweger were eating a McRib sandwich.

Are the Pennsylvania Arson Fires Part of the New Federal Government Stimulus Package?

As you might have heard, there is a rather tragic story developing in Pennsylvania, as several homes have been burned down by arsonists, and dozens of people have been displaced.

But I'm wondering if maybe this story isn't so tragic after all?

The fires have given employment to firefighters. Now that the fires have been put out, the homes must be rebuilt, which means employment for carpenters, plumbers, and electricians who might not otherwise find work.

I'm no economist, but I am an interested layperson with flashes of brilliance, and I can't find anything wrong with this theory. Perhaps we should make arson a part of the stimulus package currently being considered by our nation's wise and generous lawmakers? We could pay people to set fire to things (perhaps they could set fire to homes that are about to be foreclosed anyway?), and then pay people to rebuild those buildings. It's a win-win, and it makes as much sense as the current stimulus package.