…illness in the household

For my handfull of regular readers: I haven't been blogging
because my son is ill. High fever since Thursday, hasn't let up.

I can't really do much, but I try to remain available for beck and call,
so I've only had the computer on for ten minutes a day or so. The
rest of the time I've spent either reading to him or myself. For
myself I'm reading a biography of Lincoln.

Did you know, when Germans say "Lincoln" they pronounce the second L. How do they do that?



American History X

Yesterday I watched, for the first time, American History X.

What a strange, strange film!

I don’t recall when I lost saw such a combination of bad and good film making.  At times, the film is riveting—the script and the acting are generally superb (though Beverly D’Angelo overacts to the point of making me cringe.  Yet the overall storyline is cliched, lacks depth, and is simply not credible.

The film also has the frequent Hollywood paradox of being simultaneously preachy and obscene.  The violence in the film is by any standards brutal.  Very brutal.  (Apparently Hollywood has never discovered that the entertaining portrayal of violence might contradict any anti-violence message the film might intend to bring.)  Indeed, it is so brutal that it makes the preachiness seem worse than contrived—it seems like an excuse to justify the violent fantasies of the filmmaker.

The film, for those of you who haven’t seen it (and here is a spoiler), is about a dangerous Nazi skinhead who—after killing two blacks , going to prison, joining up with the prison Nazis but later being raped by them (graphically shown, by the way)—has a complete sea change and then attempts to persuade his younger brother that he shouldn’t follow in his footsteps.  It is remarkable how quickly he changes his mind.  Yes, he was raped in prison—but he had already learned that they weren’t “true blue” in their racist doctrine, which is what got him into trouble with them in the first place.  It is also remarkable how he convinces his brother in a single conversation to see the error of his ways.

If conversions were this easy, we wouldn’t need missionaries.  And we wouldn’t need films like this.  On the other hand, we wouldn’t have a good moral justification for showing mind-numbing brutality on screen.  And we don’t need films like this anyway.  Hollywood is at its absolute worst when it tries to teach us some moral values.  Perhaps that is because Hollywood is so morally bankrupt.  But a morally bankrupt Hollywood doesn’t bother me at all, unless it tries to teach me morality.

But I digress.

The music also bothered me.  The orchestration was so foreboding leading up to the last scene that I nearly guessed what was going to happen from the music alone!  Of course, I didn’t need the music:  the cliched formula was enough to let me know what would happen.

So, a bad film:  yet I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  It packs an emotional whollop, in spite of its cliches and preachiness.  Why?

Well, in my opinion, two reasons:  1.) Edward Norton as Derek Vinyard.  One word for him and his performance:  wow!  2.) the violence.  Derek Vinyard’s method for killing the second of the two black men is something I will probably never forget.

Yes, this film is all about the violence.

And what does that tell you?


TGN 1412…an update

I’ve gotten a bit of traffic from people wanting to read about TGN 1412.  I know nothing; I just blogged about it from a “what a nightmare!” standpoint.  There is a fellow WordPress blogger you can go to, if you want to read blogging about it:  TGN 1412.

But I have received one or two hits from people googling “TGN 1412 pictures”, and I must say I find it sick.  Perhaps some college kid is writing a term paper and thinks pictures of the victims might add some impact (which it won’t—work on your writing, kid; or don’t; just be a mediocre, “visually oriented” zombie whose only claim on a degree is that you pulled a 2.0 with grade inflation and had 60 hours of “cultural diversity” propaganda courses).

But I suspect that some of you read the bit about the victims looking like the elephant man and want to see pictures.  To you I say:  chill out, and prioritize.  Is your desire to see something disgusting more important than the pain and suffering of the victims and their families?

Maybe so.

Do what you want.


how to clean a cowboy hat

As some of you might have noticed, I wear a light colored cowboy hat.  The color has different names with different models, but if you click the “me” tab you’ll see the color I’m talking about.

How do I clean it?  Damn fine question, because my method has little to do with what you can find elsewhere.  But my method is experience proven, and I shall explain it.

First, shy away from chemical sprays and such.  If someone drips olive oil on your hat, shoot them, because nothing you can ever do will erase the spots.  Nevertheless, what I shall recommend will be the best alternative to shooting a possible friend.

You need two things:

1.) baby powder

2.) a high quality, boar hair shaving brush.

I prefer unscented baby powder, since I don’t want to go around smelling like a baby’s ass.  But that’s a matter of taste.  I suppose you could use talcum powder, which may be the same as unscented baby powder, but I for one have never seen it in a store, so there.  Just go buy unscented baby powder.

Sprinkle the baby powder on your (light colored) hat.  Obviously, this is no method for black cowboy hats.  Rub it in with the shaving brush.  Repeat.  Then go onto the back porch and slap the hat 10 or 15 times to get the excess off.

The beauty of this method is that it tends to COVER stains, so you don’t need to spray chemical cleaners on your hat, which is bad for the environment and your health, and a real cowboy doesn’t want to screw up the environment.

It can’t cover every stain.  The worst stains on my hat (this is a TRUE story) come from a trip to the island of Borkum.  We were standing on the platform of a train station, and a great wind blew my hat off onto the track.  Meanwhile our train was coming—it was about 200 yards away.  (This is a TRUE story).  I very calmly laid belly down on the platform and could just reach my hat, all the while listening to my wife screaming that the train was coming and that I was a &*##=V&*3* idiot.  She was right, of course, but I retrieved the hat and was never in any danger of being run over by the train.  (This is a TRUE story).

There remain three spots on the upper side of the right side brim—some kind of railroad track oil—which won’t go away.  But what the baby powder won’t cover up, I wear with pride.  Risking life and limb to retrieve your hat from the tracks while a train is approaching may be stupid, but it is brave, and it shows how important a hat can be.

I’d do it again.


speaking to John Lennon

An article at Yahoo news: Lennon. This may be the highlight of my year. This is being done by people who have done something similar—they tried, on pay-per-view television, to contact Princess Diana—so they know there’s a market for it.

But: why Diana? why John Lennon? Have Buddha and Socrates been dead too long? Is Elvis somehow less an icon than Lennon? Is Diana more sanctified than Mother Teresa?

Yeah, yeah, I answered my own questions even before asking them: because there’s a market for it.

Still, the article has some stuff to spit coffee over. Consider this line:

“Sharratt said he chose Lennon because the former Beatle, like Diana, is an icon and was also a deeply spiritual person.”


How about this:

“‘The Spirit of John Lennon'” is being done without the knowledge or consent of John Lennon’s estate.”

I could write reams over this sentence, but I won’t. I’ll let clever readers think for themselves.

There’s this, too:

“Sharratt said, ‘We are writing to Yoko and contacting friends this week to see if any people associated with Lennon would take part.”‘

What does “contacting friends” mean? Maybe they’re planning a non-pay-per-view seance with George the week before to seek his participation.

Which gives rise to another thought: these people are being impatient. If they wait until Paul and Ringo die, then can do a “Beatle’s Reunion Seance”.

Even I would pay for that.

But here’s the kicker of the article:

“Sharratt said the Indian sequence will feature a spirit reader at an ashram who believes he can contact Lennon to receive musical notes and lyrics from the other side.

Any notations will be flown to Los Angeles, where a composer will arrange the notes, add vocals and backgrounds to produce a new song.”

Again, this raises questions. First is, if we’re going to get music from the beyond, why aren’t we contacting Bach or Mozart or Beethoven? They aren’t “spiritual” enough, like Lennon? But second, read the line again: a composer will “arrange the notes”. Perhaps the article was written by a journalist totally ignorant of music, but if a “composer” “arranges the notes” and then adds “vocals and backgrounds”, what may I ask, are they actually using from John Lennon?

Perhaps a faint, ghostly whisper saying, “Leave me the f**k alone!”


We’re bombing Iraq again…

…and I’m not going to comment.

People who know me know that I love discussing politics, and to be honest, when I started this blog I intended political commentary—not pies—to be my central theme.

But I just can’t do it.

I have the time, and I can express my ideas relatively well in writing.  But for some reason everything I think I could write would be trivial.  This war—ill-advised, ill-planned, ill-executed—is becoming, in some signficant ways, a greater fiasco than Vietnam.  And I want to say more, and why, and convince all of you…

But I just can’t do it.

I need to calm down first.  And that might take a few days months years.  We’ll see.


TGN 1412

I’m one of those people who can watch the sickest, scariest, most degenerate horror film without batting an eye.  But I’m particularly sensitive when it comes to real-life stuff.  And this story is just plain awful:  TGN 1412.

I have, at times in the past, thought of volunteering for medical experiments.  (In particular I remember an ad running in our local paper asking for volunteers for “sex research”.)  Inherent in the entire notion of “volunteering” is that the researchers have done enough significant research and homework that they are reasonably sure that there is minimum risk:  they’re looking for unanticipated side effects and efficacy—they’re not simply shooting in the dark.

What happened here?  I suppose the story will come out over the next several days, and we’ll probably know even less than before.  Regardless, I’m NEVER volunteering for drug testing.