Friday, August 29, 2008

2 Parties

The Democratic Party:
While Laura had the awesome opportunity to attend the Democratic Convention in Denver this week, I settled for the TV coverage. When I was younger, I'd have been glued to the set all week. I watched the '88 & '92 Conventions every night (& even @ 10 years old I watched a bunch of the '84)... this time I only caught a couple hours. We watched Obama's speech last night & Dick Durbin's speech before that & a bunch of random people talking about why they're voting Democratic this fall. Before I comment on them though, it's important to mention that I was impressed by the fact that they were willing to speak @ all. They're nervousness was obvious, but we're talking about people w/ assumedly little public speaking experience addressing a football stadium full of people (Not to mention the national television audience). That said, some had a bit of the douchebag in them. "I'm a lifelong Republican. I voted for Nixon, Ford, Reagan, GHW Bush, & GW Bush, but I just can't do it this time. Now that I've lost my job & my house, I feel that we need a different direction." Part of me says, "Great, better late than never," but this change of heart is pretty selfish & self-serving. What they're also saying is, "I didn't care about the millions of people who were effected by the GOP policies before, but now that I'm the one getting fucked, I suppose I should be a little more compassionate." Don't get me wrong, I'd rather have them on our side than in the McCain/Palin camp, but perhaps had all these people the DNC is parading around made the switch, oh I don't know, 8 years ago, we wouldn't have gotten in this mess to begin w/. I'm glad they're w/ us, but a little mention of their previous errors would have been nice, yet there was never any acknowledgement of "Oops, I fucked up in the past & I'm sorry." All I'm saying is that would have been nice.
Here he is letting his winger know the cross was good but he just couldn't quite connect & find the back of the net
The Big Ass Summer Party:
Tomorrow is the big party for those of you who have forgotten (or those of you who didn't know to begin w/). The music has been arranged, the lights have been hung & we've been cleaning. I even chopped wood yesterday for the little suburban yuppie "I can't actually commit to a fire pit" fire pit thing. In doing so, I of course broke my old industrial sized yard clippers, but the ax & the saw made it through unscathed. If you're coming (& y'all better be coming), remember to bring lawn chairs & food or drinks if you'd like. Oh, & an instrument or 2 to join in the music w/ Jim, Gerry & Warren.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back Woods Ypsilanti

I've lived in or near this town for 12 years, & I thought I'd seen everything it had to offer. Recently, however, Solstice & I started going for little bike rides in the evening & we've seen tons of cool stuff. We started simply enough a few weeks ago by cruising around our hood to get a feel for the area. Last week, we went up River & checked out Highland Cemetery which features the grave sites of many of the earliest Ypsilantians & a few Civil War Vets. As it turns out, the Cemetery closes @ 6:00 & we got there about 5:50. By the time we were ready to leave, the gate was locked & we had to lift our bikes over the fence before climbing it. I was appalled to learn that she had never climbed a fence before, but that was quickly remedied. Our other travels include a jaunt to my office, basically to see how long it takes (basically to see how late I can sleep before leaving to get to my office hours). On the way back we went down by the river near the Michigan Ladder Company & discovered some cool little trails. We've explored the local alleys & saw some crazy birds. This evening, after dinner, we road through Riverside Park & found a little river overlook by Michigan Ave. that I never knew existed. I've begun really looking forward to our short rides. We even got new helmets last week. I think that next week,we are going make a trip to Value World. At this point, I need to thank a certain friend & bike enthusiast (who wants to remain anonymous) for greasing my chain (& no, that isn't a euphemism) a couple weeks ago w/ Canola Oil (which is why he wants to remain anonymous)... & Andy, sorry, I guess I gave you away, I still haven't gotten around to getting the required stuff so I'm still cruising on bio-grease.
Ypsi c. 1868

Monday, August 25, 2008

Landon's Update #2

Hey folks, it's Landon here again, & after the second week of Premiership action, 2 things are clear... Arsenal need a new defensive Midfielder & I still have my head up my ass. The table now sees Chelsea & Liver pool on top w/ 6 points & me no where to bee seen because I suck worse than Eboue, Crouch, & Heskey combined & would never be able to play in that league. That said, based on Arsenal's piss-poor showing against Fulham, I don't know if I'd want to.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Livre de Poche

I just started reading the new book by Paul Beatty, Slumberland (check out the LA Times review here). Like his other stuff, it's fantastic & y'all should give it a whirl. I think I'm gonna to use it in African American Lit this fall, but the references to fisting are a bit more overt than in The White Boy Shuffle, his 1st novel, not to mention the nearly constant discussions of bestiality regarding a porn film which features a dude fucking a chicken. It's funny & 99% of my students will be fine w/ it, but I know someone will complain. I'll be sure to keep you all updated about that. I didn't log in to really plug a book though. The thing is, this is the 1st time in ages that I've read a hard cover book. In fact, I can't remember the last time I did this. I always wait for the trade paperbacks. I feel one can't really curl up w/ a hard cover, which is pretty stupid because I don't technically "curl up" w/ paperbacks either. My reading techniques involve sitting rather upright on the couch, laying in bed, sitting on the porch or reading @ work. I suppose the bed would allow for curling up, but I don't read in long enough chunks to really do that. Usually, about a 1/2 hour is all I do @ 1 sitting... I've got Hogan's to watch & soccer to play & Arsenal info to look up on-line & in a couple weeks, papers to grade. Anyway, what I'm wondering is what you, dear readers, prefer to read. Do you like the hardness of the newest cloth bound tomes or do you like the wrinkled old pages of a newly discovered mass market paperback edition of the novelization of Top Gun or Rambo (both of which I read... borrowed... but never returned... from my Grandfather... when I was in middle school)? As a side note, it turns out that Marty Schictman actually knows the guy, a Medievalist from Iowa. Apparently, he wrote First Blood & then sold the film rights to Stallone who gained the rights to write the sequel which the original author then novelized. Anyway, what's your poison?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Critics vs Dr. Paul: The Clone Wars Review

I just returned from the theater where Aiden & I saw the new installment in the Star Wars Saga, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Near the biginning, there's a moment when a clone asks Obi Wan what Anakin is doing & he says, "Anakin is following the plan." I'm not sure if he meant the battle plan or Lucas's marketing plan, but @ that point in the film, I was hoping the audience would be let in on the plan soon. Before I discuss my thoughts though, I'll give you a few quotes from the professionals.
"At what point might animators be arrested for doing work so ugly it causes aesthetic blindness in millions of younglings?"
- Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"It's rare for one man to act as a Death Star to his own successful creations."
- anonymous writer for Scotland on Sunday
"I felt like I was watching an episode of Thunderbirds."
- Vincent Janoski, Wired
"There’s a stereotypically “gay”-seeming villain in the new CGI Star Wars movie The Clone Wars that is so offensive and over-the-top that you’re left wondering, 'Is George Lucas insane?'" - Brent Hartinger, After EltonI was familiar w/ these claims before we went to the pool the other day & ran into Pete who had just seen it w/ his kids. He claimed to have actually liked the film & said he thought I'd dig it so we went this afternoon while Elizabeth took Solstice out for a b-day manicure. The 1 main thing I remember Pete mentioning was that there are some funny scenes: Ziro the Hutt realizing his plan has been foiled & shouting "Run" as he slowly slithers away. That's pretty good, but not as good as the fact that Ziro is some sort of Truman Capote caricature. He runs a night club on Coruscant while wearing feathers & eye make-up & talking in a lispy southern accent. Although the people @ After Elton were bothered by this, I'm down w/ a gay bad guy. Why not? There have been multiple gay good guys (Luke, C-3P0, Jar Jar) it seems like sooner or later a bad guy should be gay. Not to mention the fact that he's certainly more entertaining than 99% of your gay characters in film & TV.

W/ this in mind, I'm going to have to come down in the minority here & agree w/ Pete. As we see in the above quotes, there are those who feel the animation sucks, but it is just different from everything else out there. Lucas is claiming he wanted it to look like Thunderbirds, in which case, mission accomplished. It's always possible that he said that after the fact to pre-empt any negative comments, but either way, it's pretty cool. It also kind of looks like Rudolph: R2's Shiny New Year. As far as the story line is concerned, it was obviously not as good as the main films, but it should make a cool TV show. It reminded me of the Star Wars comic books, & having read more than my fair share, I can say that that's alright. One of the plot points that has bothered people has to do w/ the reason for the kidnapping of Jabba's kid, Ratta whom Jabba refers to as "My little Pumpkin Muffin." A nick name that causes both the protocol droid & Obi Wan to do a double take. Anyway, it's meant to cause a problem similar to that @ the beginning of The Phantom Menace, but those w/o the knowledge of Star Wars minutiae don't understand. It has to do w/ gaining access to Hutt controlled Hyperspace Lanes....Overall, it's better than the Ewok movies, the Droids cartoon, the Ewok cartoon & the Holiday Special (although a Jefferson Starship musical number would have been nice). If you've made it through all of those, then you should definitely see this 1. As it turns out, we do get to know the plan & it actually kind of works: it's fun & you'll love the show this fall. (It's for kids & geeks only though... Jenn didn't like it & I'm not @ all surprised.) Not to mention that fact that the CGI Padme & Asaj Ventris are way hotter than the cartoon versions. Oh, & Anakin gets a cute little Padawan.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Great Haircut Conspiracy

We've been watching this show Long Way Down lately. In it, Ewan McGregor & Charley Boreman ride motorcycles from John O'Groats, Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa. It's the sequel to 2004's Long Way 'Round, in which they road from London through Europe, Asia, & N. America to New York. They're cool shows & I definitely recommend them, but I didn't log in simply to tell you about some TV show. No, there is more than that afoot today.

While watching it the other night, Stephanie suggested I get my hair cut like Obi Wan. I said sure. Here is where the truth & the myth get a bit blurred. I ended up @ Eleven West, a salon on Michigan Ave yesterday w/ some fucked up hair & a fucked story. The last time I was there, I had a woman cut my hair who kept snorting in my ear the whole time. I attributed it to her rather exceptional girth, but she cosmotologized me again, this time w/o the snorting so now I think maybe she just had a nasty cold. Anyway, she wondered how my hair got in the way it was in.

Here's the conversation as best as I can remember it & as chock full of lies as I could make it... she bought it all:
Me: "So I had a bit of a hair mishap."
Her: "Yeah, what happened?"
Me: "Well I sort of lost a bet. I was @ the pool yesterday & 1 thing lead to another & now I look like this so I need you to fix it."
Her: "What kind of bet?"
Me: "Who could stay underwater longer. We both had long ponytails & got talking about how we were thinking of cutting them, so we made this bet & then he cut my hair in the parking lot."
Her: "So who is the guy who won the bet? Just some friend of yours?"
Me: "No. I'd never met him before."
Her: "You let some stranger cut your hair?"
Me: "Sure... why not?"
Her: "Wow... really? How long did you stay under?"
Me: "2 & a half minutes; he came up just 4 seconds after me. It took us a little while to really get it right. We had to start over a few times to ensure we had gone under @ the same exact time."
Her: 2 & a half minutes? WOW!!! I'd explode if I tried to stay under that long. [@ this point I resisted all the temptations to make a breath control/cunnilingus joke] Did people think you were drowning?"
Me: "No. My family was right there... My wife [@ this point, I chose not to go into the whole history of our relationship story, but in hindsight, maybe it would have been a good subtopic] kept saying that I was a douchebag for going in on such a bet, but she was the judge. The life guards were just shaking their heads."
Her: "How many kids do you have?"
Me: "2... umm, err... 3."
Her: "You're not sure?"
Me: "Well, 1 is only a few weeks old & 2 has been the answer to that question for so long that I said it unconsciously. This is the 1st time I've been asked that since he was born."
----------------------------------------------------------
Later she stabbed my ear & I bled pretty badly so she ended up comping me the haircut. I said, "The dude @ the pool never cut me!" Pretty sweet! The reality of the cut was just that, after Arsenal beat WBA 1-0 w/a sweet sweet goal from new signing Samir Nasri on his debut, Stephanie tried to do it but after about 20 minutes, she set down the scissors & said I was going to have to go get it fixed somewhere. Of course, it ended up too short, but it was free & I got a great story out of it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Guest Poster: Landon Donovan

Last year I often posted soccer updates on Jason's message board, but Andre asked if I'd do some Premier League commentary here this season. If all goes well, I'll be updating everyone concerning 2 things: 1) soccer info 2) how far up my ass I've gotten my head. While posting this I'm at my usual neck-deep position. While I've gained fame as an international star, I've also become famous for sucking. For some inexplicable reason, I've garnered fans around the globe, but in all my years of playing, I've yet to really step up during a major competition. My many haters have been proven right over the years: I suck donkey balls. That said, here's the schedule for the matches this weekend, the opening weekend of the Premiership. Of course, you won't be seeing me in any of these games because each time I've tried to ply my skills in Europe, I've been sent home w/ my tail between my legs like a whiny little boy.
Saturday
Arsenal v West Brom
Bolton v Stoke city
Everton v Blackburn
Hull v Fulham
Middlesbrough v Tottenham
West Ham v Wigan
Sunderland v Liverpool

Sunday
Chelsea v Portsmouth
Aston Villa v Manchester City
Manchester United v Newcastle
PS I suck

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fresh off her cameo on How I met your Mother

I haven't seen the original fill in about 5 years, but I suppose it's time to watch Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! again since it's all the buzz right now, what w/ the Tarantino remake starring Britney Spears in the works. Apparently, she's set to play Varla, the homicidal lesbian stripper who leads her 2 friends into the desert, kills a guy, kidnaps his girlfriend & has hot, hot lesbian sex w/ her. It's being marketed as her comeback & I'm actually looking foreward to it. I bet it'll be pretty cool.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mexico is the New Romainia

The Kelly Miller Circus came to Riverside Park on Thursday night. The idea of circuses has always intrigued me, but the use of the animals has always really bothered me. Before we went, I decided to check the site to see if they said anything about the treatment of their animals. Their statement is troubling to say the least. Rather than defending their treatment, they just attack PETA. While you might feel that PETA goes a bit far on occasions, this Bill O'Reilly style offensive is offensive. It didn't stop us fro going though & overall we had a great time. We got there a few minutes late so we didn't have to see the tiger act, & the dog act was ridiculous, but I doubt they're being abused. The Elephants, however, made me look away. At least they only brought out 3 of them. I think they bring the ones that aren't suffering from major gaping wounds @ the moment. I wished I'd brought something to throw @ the elephant "trainer" like rotten produce or eggs or something.The acrobats & tumblers were great though, & they made up the vast majority of the show. In movies & on TV, these acts are always from Romania or Bulgaria or Greece, but other than the tumbling troop which was supposedly from Kenya in their leopard clad outfits so as to look exotic & savage (they're probably from Akron or Westland or somewhere equally unappealing) they were all from Mexico. The circus is based in Oklahoma so I guess they have access to more family acts like that from South of the Border than circuses based in places like Tacoma or Sault St. Marie (Sault St. Marie get all the crazy Canucks though). The main woman who was in most of the acts did some crazy shit. Her husband balanced a super-long stripper pole on his forehead & she proceeded to climb it & then spin around by her legs, stripper-style. He also attached a pole to his crotch which she climbed & then swung around by a strap attached to her neck. The only thing they were missing was Tubgirl, & they'd have had the whole sex-worker show going full-steam.Aside from the animals, my other complaint has to do w/ the clown... Tony the Clown. Tony? Really? As a rule, like stripper, clowns should never have names that are actually the names of people we've known. Bozo, Chuckles, Peanut... these are clown names. Not Tony, Rob, or Joe. I don't know if the clown was Mexican or not, but the entire support staff was, including the guy selling popcorn with whom I spoke for a bit during the intermission. After we overcame the language barrier, I learned that this guy has been working for Kelly Miller for 6 years & some other circus for the previous 18 years. He said they work for 8 months out of the year (March-October) & he really seemed to love it. I'm not certain of his legal status, but I figured it'd be a good summer job for an illegal. That's a long time to keep a job though so maybe he's legal. I don't personally care either way, I was just surprised by his longevity. When I was growing up, I never realized joining a circus was still a career choice available to people. Rotten Ralph did it, but as Jerry said, the post-modern alternative was just following the Dead. They were hiring though, & if I were 15 years younger, I'd think about it.
Could have had a chance to get out of this wreck
The time that you came and the day that you left
Could have had a chance
Could have had a chance

Never thought I could make it this far
With a dent in my soul and a hole in my heart
Never thought I could
Never thought I could

But when the lights are turning 'round
And wheels are rolling on the ground
That day I'll burn this whole place down
When the circus comes to town

You left your name carved on a tree
You scratched mine out right in front of me
Didn't mean that much
Didn't mean that much

I'll scratch your name out on that tree
I'll chase your heart right out of me
Doesn't mean that much
Doesn't mean that much

In other news, be sure to check out Stephanie's new blog as we welcome her back to the blogosphere.... and no, there were, unfortunately, no sideshow freaks.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Every 4 Years... (& it's not the World Cup or the European Championships) or The Olympic Rant

As the Olympics are beginning tomorrow (yesterday actually, but apparently the official statisticians don't count women's soccer [or the men's matches today for that matter]), I thought a few words about the games might be in order. As a general rule, most of the sports are of little interest too me... I mean, Badminton? Is that really a sport worthy of international celebration? I always just thought it was tennis for Jr. high phys ed. class. It's the Summer Olympic version of Snow Boarding. I only have a few things against Snowboarding, but 1 of them is that it was basically started by people who weren't good enough to be skiers but wanted some sort of Alpine event. That said, I'm sure Hacky Sack & Disc Golf will be Olympic Sports sooner or later too. The history of Badminton dates back to ancient Greece, but I'm a little confused about how they made the plastic birdies back then. I suppose the Iron Age was followed by the Petrochemical Age, but I figured there was a little time in between. And Judo? Why Judo & not Ninjutsu? Ninjas will always be cooler than Judoists (Judi-bears?) (Judo Artists?). Taekwondo is another 1... what are those people called? Taekwondicks? I think that's a pronunciation change that dates back to The Great Vowel Shift (about 2,000 years after the Iron Age). I guess it's difficult to televise Ninjas since they're invisible. I also think Shooting is a funny Olympic sport. I don't know why, but I'm fine w/ Archery but not Shooting. Cross Bowing would be cool, or maybe Catapulting. It could be like Bobsledding: 1 person, 2-person & 4-person events & they'd blindly loft things over walls. Pentathlon is pretty cool though: the shooting is combined w/ Running, Swimming & Equestrian Show Jumping... that's too fucked for anyone to dislike it. The other sports I get: Decathletes are obviously bad-asses, & Synchronized Swimming has had to put up w/ so much criticism over the last 25 years that I'm willing to give it a pass here.

The real issue that bothers me w/ the Olympics though it actually 2-fold.
1) Television:
Coverage is obviously too focused on the little touchy-feely interest pieces about the athletes, but more importantly, to watch diving you have to sit through 3 hours of some douchebag saying, "After the break, diving, but 1st, here's a little coverage of yesterday's Softball competition." That is compounded by the fact that my real interest lies in the soccer competition, & few of the games are shown live or in their entirety.
2) The Soccer Competition:
Although the coverage is bad, the competition is worse which almost makes the lack of coverage almost tolerable (like the Woody Allen joke about the elderly women in the Catskills complaining about the food... tastes bad & small portions), the other issue is in the fact that it's sort of an Under-23 event but every country is allowed to send a few Over-23 full internationals. That means Brian McBride is going for the US, mainly because he is between contracts & has nothing better to do this month. But then Brasil is sending Ronaldinho in an attempt to win their 1st Olympic Gold (they lost to France in the 1984 finals). It is my belief that the games should return to the amateur level they once were. I'm not some Romantic dreaming of the old days, but when Ronaldinho (or NBA stars get to go, it really messes w/ the level of play... Ronaldinho vs some kid from New Zealand isn't really what I want to watch.
The other issue w/ the Soccer competition is the way teams qualify. Simply put, Europe & S. America should get more teams & other regions should get less. It's not like the Kiwis actually have a chance to win it.
In other news, be sure to check out Solstice's new post on her blog!

Monday, August 4, 2008

RIP: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Late last night, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, @ 89 1/2 years young, died of heart failure @ his home near Moscow. The fact that I edged 1 point closer to Jason in the death pool takes a back seat to this guy's legacy: Gulag survivor, cancer survivor, Nobel Laureate, novelist, revealer of the truth concerning Stalin's violent prison system, man of peace & philosophy.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

British Television

A couple things converged this morning leading me to think about this post. I watched 2 shows & then saw a preview for a new 1 which looks pretty cool. we'll see how Primeval turns out next Sat. night... a show about some time warp which drags prehistoric animals into modern situations. It sounds a bit Spielbergesque, but I think I'll watch a couple episodes before I decide. That said, the shows I watched were both from England making me think about the best British shows ever: here is the top 10.
10) The Naked Chef
This show definitely has its detractors, but it's 1 of the only cooking shows I've ever gotten hooked on... & he's so gosh darn cute. His fake cockney accent is charming, & the fact that he's always bringing the hotties over for a bite @ the end of the shows to watch a match on the tele is impressive.9) The Avengers
This beats out The Mod Squad for a place on the list. Why? Emma Peel.This is the 2nd oldest show on the list, but #1 in terms of hot leading ladies. Much hotter, in fact, than Margaret Tyzack even.8) Match of the Day
It's 1 of the longest running shows in British history & the 1st to bring football highlights into London homes on a weekly basis way back in 1964. While Gary Lineker is less hot than Emma Peel, 44 years & counting is a damn good run.7) I, Claudius
This is often called a mini-series, but @ 13 episodes I'll go out on a limb & say it's a series. I watched it as a kid w/ my parents, & I've been meaning to check it out again. It's quality stuff.6) The Saint
A pretty weird show which bridged the gap between Roger Moore's stint on Maverick & his stint in the Bond films. In fact, this show is responsible for him getting the role as Bond, but I won't hold that against him. Simon Templar is an international playboy who solves crimes & bags jewel thieves in his spare time. While almost as campy as Batman, it's a fun show.5) Monarch of the Glen
The series petered out in the final seasons, but the 1st 4 were great. (The 5th was ok too.) Plus, it brought kilts into the living rooms of people all around Britain for 8 years. Speaking of kilts, we went to the St. Andrews Highland Fest in Livonia yesterday, but I digress... more on that soon. Check out the show if you get the chance. I think it's still on PBS, so you have that option.4) I love the....
I've never been secretive about the fact that I love I Love the.... Vh1's knock off of the British show is fantastic, but if it weren't for the original, VH1 would be nothing by Flavor Flav & Bret Michaels (which might be alright too). I've even watched I Love Toys, I love the Holidays, & even I love the New Millennium. While the latter sucked ass, the rest owe their greatness to this fantastic British show.3) Robin Hood
The most recent in a slew of shows about the legendary tighted archer is by far the best. I was skeptical @ 1st, but I'm hooked now. Marian was run through w/ a broad sword @ the end of the 2nd season (an episode I watched this morning) which is the 1st time her character has ever been killed off. A cool little cliff-hanger.2) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Like Robin Hood, Holmes has been on TV countless times, but the Brett/Hardwicke version for the 1980s is 1 of the best shows I've ever seen... & I've seen a lot. Jeremy Brett died before they were able to film all of the Holmes stories, & he suffered from bi-polar disorder throughout the last few seasons... not to mention the heart problems that finally killed him... that & a 3 pack a day smoking habit. I've loved this show since it was on PBS in the 1980s. See it!1)Monty Python's Flying Circus
I know some of you silly wankas are wondering, "What about Ab Fab? What about Dr. Who? what about Benny Hill?" To you I say, "Piss off & write ya own bloody blog!" This is Visions of Ypsi... only the best... only for you. My love for Pythons is not very different than that of the rest of you. It very well might be the best show of all time on either side of the pond. You know you love it... watch a few episodes soon.