Archive for February, 2010

The Informant

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 23, 2010 by willard43

This is definitely Oscar-worthy. I thought this would be kinda boring, but I absolutely loved it. It just kept building and building. I’d love to know if the real guy is exactly as portrayed, but I don’t really care. This movie was at once incredibly funny and terrifying at the same time. I would certainly love to see Matt Damon win for this and not the soccer pic (or rugby or whatever).

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Men Who Stare at Goats

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 21, 2010 by willard43

I actually got a kick out of this flick. Usually I’m suspect whenever there is an overabundance of stars packed into a film, especially such heavyweights as Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Kevin Spacey and Ewan McGregor. But this, while not outrageously funny or great, was still a very solid flick. I like the way it walked the line between ludicrous and serious. You really wanted to believe in Clooney’s character and McGregor played the willing diciple very well. Certainly not an oscar contender, but I enjoyed it. I almost wish it had delved deeper into the ironies that military intelligence (oxymoron corps) can provide.

Bill Maher’s Back

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 21, 2010 by willard43

It’s been so long I wondered if Bill Maher would ever come back on and forgot all about it last night. As usual, the season opener was a doozy, but not as venomous as I would have liked, especially with regard to the Teabaggers (I refuse to call them Tea Partiers…not sure, but that almost sounds gayer and I don’t think they were going for that).

He did, however, have Elizabeth Warren on and I usually like her. She seems like a no-nonsense lady who really has the down-lo on the economy. I was a little ticked at her estimation of the new Credit Card rules though, as I work for a major Credit Card company. I know, that’s like admitting you work for the DMV or Hitler, or maybe Satan’s asshole, but I do and I like my job. The thing I find ironic is that Bill Maher usually has smart people on, and Elizabeth Warren is one of them. Then why do they tow this party line of blaming financial institutions for everything. Not only is it inaccurate (not saying they don’t bear the lion’s share of it, but certainly not all of it), it’s hypocritical. For example, her analogy of “fence posts in the wilderness” struck me as odd, as the government, meaning Obama and his financial wizards, who were responsible for pumping nearly a trillion dollars into the economy to save it, came up with that legislation. My company, while I’d be lying if I said they were all for it, still embraced it immediately, and it did everything  to comply as fast as possible. The atmosphere wasn’t negative in the slightest. We jumped right up and fixed what was said was wrong. Her analogy makes it out that we immediately began sinisterly twiddling our mustaches, , coming up with ways to get around compliance. Far from the truth. And even if we did, isn’t it the responsibility of any financial institution to make money for its stakeholders? And by virtue of that, buoy the economy?

It’s a contradiction for this administration, and Elizabeth Warren, to sit there and scoff at their own legislation, their own bailout and the institutions who survived and are trying to play by the rules. What should we do…give money away for free? That sounds nice, but where would the economy be without banks and credit cards all of sudden. You think it’s bad now, wait til one of the major banks collapses under the weight of too much regulation. Don’t get me wrong, there were some serious errors made in the financial industry, and some of them criminal. A lack of regulation and some way too risky practices are what brought us to the brink, along with the whole Low-Prime/Sub-Prime fiasco, but the answer isn’t to castrate the financial sector. If it were up to people like Elizabeth Warren, new regulation would work about as well as gun control…it would penalize and hinder law-abiding citizens in favor of the illusion of control, while criminals went on their way buying and using illegal handguns.

As for the rest of the show, I found myself in the same position of agreement I usually do. I’m pro-choice across the board (everything from abortion to gay marriage to gays in the military, socially liberal (legalize weed), and anti-religion (ok, not “anti” but I think they should all pay taxes like any other private club as they are in business). The only other things that absolutely steamed me were the whole Palin bullshit about the Downs Syndrome actress (frankly, it appeared they were making fun of Sarah plain and tardy and not her son), and the asshole in Tennessee who did the whole palm commercial.

I look forward to next week as usual, but I just didn’t find it as biting as when Bush was in office…go figure.

New Music

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 21, 2010 by willard43

Found this tonight, though I had heard it a few weeks ago. I know they sound just like The Jesus and Mary Chain, but it’s one of those earworms I just can’t get rid of.

The Crocodiles – I Wanna Kill

Movies, Music and Books

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19, 2010 by willard43

I see some blogs actually update their current tastes, so I guess I’ll add my no cents to that as well:

Just Watched: Long Way Round – Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman ride their schnazzie bikes from London east to New York. I love a good travelogue (I’m obsessed with Michael Palin travelogues) and this did not disappoint. I’m almost done with the series and I find it funny that, while I like both the guys, I find that Charley seems to be experiencing a steeper arch than Ewan. Ewan McGregor, as I expected, seems to be a really decent kind of guy. You actually meet his parents in the show, as well as Charley’s, and you can tell that he’s a very well-adjusted, down to earth sort of bloke. I guess his core values keep him very grounded as he, while still benefitting fromt he experience, seems to change the least albeit you can read on his face how much he misses his family. Charley, on the other hand, while not starting off as an asshole or anything, seems to exhibit the most drastic changes. Near the end and after overcoming so many obstacles, he seems to have evolved to the point where nothing gets him down. Where in the beginning he is obviously frustrated by the roadblocks that come there way whilst planning their trip (KTM motorcycles denying them the bikes for example) to the point where he throws an, albeit justifiable, tantrum. I don’t think post-trip Charley would be phased. Great series.

Just Downloaded:

The Soft Pack – Good alternative, rock surfer band. Reminds me of a combination Fleshtones and Velvet Underground.

Massive Attack – Splitting the Atom – I’ve dug these guys on and off for years, but this new title track is stuck in my ears.

Vampire Weekend – Contra – I get a lot of shit for liking these guys, but I don’t care. This is just good pop music.

I heard Werewolves of London on the radio (by accident…I was flipping discs) and got on a Warren Zevon kick.

I don’t know why I put it on a compilation disc for the car, but Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunnymen has been stuck in my head for days…that and the remake of Que Sera Sera by Sly and the Family Stone has been too, since I saw that tearjerker Seven Pounds. Yeah, I get a lot of shit stuck in my gulliver.

Just Reading/Read:

To the White Sea – James Dickey. I really thought I’d like this more, but I was like “meh”. Guy gets shot down over Japan on the eve of a huge fire-bombing campaign and has to make it cross country to the mountains where he thinks, cause he’s from Alaska and shit, that he’ll be able to evade and survive for years. Something you’d expect Sarah Palin’s dad to write. Supposed to be poetic and poignant, but I thought it was a bit creepy and arrogant.

Murder Farm – Andrea Mariea Schenkel. Good read and it puts you sort of in the catbird seat of a murder. It’s like she’s handing you the dossier to solve it with a little extra narrative in between. Only problem is I solved it fairly early and there wasn’t much more. A creepy vibe, but not that creepy. It promises a shocking ending, but as with all murder mysteries, the reasons are usually pretty mundane.

I’m currently reading Pandora in the Congo – Albert Sánchez Piñol. This is a lot of fun as it both pokes fun at and joins in on the classic adventure tale. I look forward to my reading time every night for this one. Very tongue-in-cheek.

Geekery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2010 by willard43

We are all geeks. There. I’ve said it. No going back now. You are a geek. I am a geek. My kids are geeks. The neighbor is a geek. My postman is a geek. Even the President of the United States is a geek.

Now that the cat is out of the bag in the closet in the back, we can get down to brass tacks and dispel the negative connotations of the word “geek”.

Merriam-Webster’s defines:

1 : a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
2 : a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
3 : an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity <computer geek>

I can honestly say I’ve never bitten the head off of a chicken or a snake (thought there were some drunken nights in the Navy I can’t account for, I’ll err on the side of my good nature), and I’ll vouch for the Pres in this instance and venture neither has he. I don’t think #2 applies, though there is a certain distaste for “geekery”, which is the heart of my post. It’s #3 we’re after.

My problem is the defference shown to some geekery. It gauls me that there is some acceptable geekery and some not accpetable. For instance, if you play fantasy football or just know every baseball stat ever printed, there’s a certain amount of latitude shown to your geekery due to some unbeknownst, societal mores that has never published nor sworn.

To a lesser extent, movies, TV, scrap-booking, knitting, stamp and coin collecting are also acceptable, however a step down from sports fanaticism. (Gun, car and any other collecting that is extremely expensive seems to get a pass as well and even above the aforementioned).

On the other hand, if you devote the same attention to Star Trek, World of Warcraft, Star Wars, Tetris, Comic Books, computers…all share some sort of social pariah status, even amongst themselves. There’s a strata of acceptability even amongst the geek community with regard to what is the most acceptable and what is the least. I don’t know if that is sheer numbers, but I suspect there’s some level of acceptability at work here that is undocumented and unproven.

Let’s also set the record straight and exclude “nerds” from this definition as well, using a simple rule that if you are that into something that you would be considered a geek, but you do it for a living, you are a nerd. You can be a science geek, but if you work for NASA, you are a nerd which trumps your geek status.

“Dorks” on the other hand, though often mistaken for geeks or nerds, are usually of lower intelligence. An example of a dork to me would be the so-called geek who loves Star Trek but fetishizes only tribbles and doesn’t know there were other shows than the original series from the 60’s. It also means a whale’s cock. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

So my question is, where is the disparity here? Remove the object of the geekery and the behavior is the same. Sure, people are different and though one may not look like the stereotypical “geek” per se, take away the obvious indicators of their fetish and you have, at the root, the same core values:

1  –  I love this one thing above nearly all else (exceptions for family and bathing do occur)

2 –  I spend my free time and money on this thing above all other things (except the necessities like beer, Mountain Dew, Doritos and electricity)

3 – All my friends are somehow connected to this thing.

4 – My significant other describes themselves as a [my thing] widow.

5 – I have forgone certain responsibilities for this thing causing friction at work or at home.

6 – Have more than 1 article of clothing emblazoned with that thing.

7 – I have stayed up way past a reasonable hour, camped out, gone without bathing for more than a 24-hour period, done something questionable (or just gross) for this thing at least once.

8 – I have one or more tattoos about this thing on my body.

9 – Have been described as “the [that thing] guy/gal”.

10 – Have at least one family member who is ashamed of my relationship with that thing.

Now, I don’t condone an unhealthy relationship to any of the “things” I’ve alluded to as an object of geekery, but I certainly understand it. And if that thing causes more joy than pain and you follow some simple rules as far as etiquette, responsibility, safety and consideration for others outside of the thing, you’re golden.

I guess I’m a fan of geekery, having my own geek-outs myself, but there is a level of shame associated with some of them that I don’t feel towards others (I’ve been a Saints fan for years and was ecstatic that they got to, let alone won, the Superbowl, but not so much that I made level 80 in World of Warcraft the other day, though the latter took more time and dedication to accomplish).

In conclusion, I say embrace your geekery, whatever it may be. Share it with someone. Don’t hurt yourself. And respect the geekery of others.