December 31, 2011

My Top Ten Films of 2011

Okay, first of all, I did my top 11 films because it's 2011, and also because I suck at choosing. Second of all, I didn't see a lot of the films that many people are putting on their top ten lists, so really this should be called "My Most Entertaining Films of 2011." Third of all, this list was tough to put together. I just didn't feel as strongly about any of these films as I have about films from previous years. Maybe it's that those ones I missed this year were knock-outs, but I felt it was a pretty weak year for films. Finally, I'll probably change my mind about the list tomorrow, anyway. But here it is:

11. Kill List: This is one of those films I enjoyed, but know better than to recommend it to anyone else. It’s a little like Pulp Fiction meets The Wicker Man. And there are more than a couple of WTF? moments. Be warned: some of you will hate this.

10. A Separation: I wasn’t sure I’d like it at first, but quickly found myself caught up in the lives of the characters, right up until the ambiguous ending, which I actually could have done without.

9. I Saw the Devil: Watching this, I felt like I was abused…but in a good way, I guess, because here it is on my list. Disturbing film.

8. Hanna: I thought this was a well-done action thriller, with a strong performance by Saoirse Ronan.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, pt. 2: A really, really great ending to a great series. I was never a huuuge fan, so I was really surprised at how moved I was by the film.

6. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol: This might be on here just because I saw it so recently, but I doubt it. I love these kinds of films more than anything, and Mission Impossible does it really well.

5. We Need to Talk About Kevin: Of all the films on my list, this one got under my skin the most. I found it very difficult to watch, and very difficult to let go of afterwards.

4. X-Men First Class: With the talent involved, I would have thought Thor would have been the superhero movie of the year, but this one blew it away.

3. Martha Marcy May Marlene: Unlike A Separation, I felt this film’s ambiguous ending was justified. Great performances, especially by Elizabeth Olsen. John Hawkes, who I thought had one of the best performances of last year, as Teardrop, in Winter’s Bone, does it again here, as the deliciously creepy Patrick.

2. Drive: Unlike everyone else who liked this film, I didn’t care for the soundtrack. But man, did I like everything else.

1. Attack the block: I’m still not sure this should be at number one. But this film felt like the beginning of something, kind of like Carpenter’s Halloween. The feeling of a loving hand behind the camera, which should have been there in Super 8 (which didn’t make my list, despite some decent performances), but wasn’t. Also, love love LOVE Jodie Whittaker, ever since Venus (2006).

Honorable Mentions: The Help, Killer Elite, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Eagle, Paul, Straw Dogs

Not Seen, but probably should have: The Skin I Live In, 50/50, The Descendants, The Artist, The Tree of Life, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Most disappointing movies of the year: The Dilemma, The Green Hornet, Sucker Punch, Thor, Fright Night, and the worst film I saw all year: Abduction.

Final Note: Tucker and Dale vs Evil would be on my list, but I think that technically it's a 2010 release, even though it didn't get any release to speak of until this year.

November 15, 2011

I Do No Think It Means What You Think It Means

This has to be one of the stupidest comments I've seen on the Internet in a while:

"There has never been a period of human history where abstinence was more effective than a condom. Referring to Abstinence as a Birth Control is like referring to Donald Trump as a Presidential Candidate." --Michael Wolf

Wait...what? Either you don't know the meaning of the word "abstinence," or you don't know where babies come from. "Abstinence" means to abstain. From sex. No sex. So unless you've been touched by an angel or by Zeus disguised as a swan or a shower of light, you can't get pregnant. Hold on, is this some of that Obama Administration math? "Babies created or saved?"

So, contrary to your statement, actually throughout ALL of human history abstinence has been more effective than a condom, in much the same way as, say, abstaining from getting in a car is the most effective way of avoiding unwanted car crashes.

September 05, 2011

Touched By An Angel. (Hey, Shut Up! A Guy Can Dream, Can't He?)

I don't have high hopes for the new version of "Charlie's Angels." Let's face it--despite being the driving force behind my transition into puberty, the original wasn't exactly "Masterpiece Theater." But since I would watch Minka Kelly read from the phone book for an hour, you can bet your sweet speakerphone I'll be tuning in.

In fact, the only thing that would make me miss the season opener of "Charlie's Angels" would be that "24-hour Eva Mendes rope skipping" channel I've been working on.

Now start with the "A"s...and speak verrry slooowly

September 04, 2011

So...There's No App For That?

It appears that Apple has lost another of their iPhone prototypes in a bar. If you remember, the iPhone 4 prototype was lost a while back. This time, it's the iPhone 5. It was apparently left in the San Francisco bar, Cava 22. First of all, can I just say to Apple, STOP BRINGING YOUR PROTOTYPES TO BARS!! Lock. Your shit. Up. Or stop whining about it.
"Apple had contacted the police claiming the prototype is invaluable, the report says."
Yeah, but not too fucking invaluable to leave at home, I guess. This is like if Batman left the Batmobile outside a 7-11 with the Bat-keys in the Bat-ignition while he ran inside to take a Bat-dump, and then complained when someone drove off with it. At the very least, Apple, if you have to test the prototype in the wild, stop giving it to some idiot who's going to take it to the bar. You just know he was using that shit to get laid. "Hey, ladies! Look what I got!"

But that's not even the real story. The real story, and the reason this pisses me off so much is that Apple searched some guy's house, looking for the phone. That's right--I said Apple searched the guy's house. Not the police (although they "escorted" the Apple investigators). Not only did they not find the phone, they also declined to file a report, which means that they didn't even have to file a police report to get the cops to escort them there in the first place.

A couple of points:
  1. "Apple's team searched the home, car and computer files" Computer files? Is Apple making virtual phones now? Why on earth are they searching computer files looking for an actual, physical phone. Without a search warrant either, obviously, since no police report was filed.
  2. Why did they have to search the guy's house at all? You know what I do when I've lost my cell phone? I CALL MYSELF. How's that for genius, Apple? Yeah, just listen for the ringtone instead of tearing a guy's house up. Oh, I know what you're thinking--suppose it was on "vibrate"? My cell phone also has the ability to punch in a code from another phone and start an ear-splitting alarm. But then what do I know; my phone's not "invaluable." (It's also not an Apple.) 
  3. "The man, who reportedly said he's a U.S. citizen who lives with relatives, told SF Weekly that the people searching his home questioned his family's immigration status." So apart from being douchebags that can't keep track of their shiny baubles, Apple is apparently also racist. No wonder so much of their stuff is white.
  4. "Nor did Apple enlist the Federal Bureau of Investigation."  Nor should they, unless I missed something. Is "iPhone prototype" secret code for "dead hooker"? Last I heard, the FBI had real crimes to investigate, such as murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking. I think "losing your phone in a bar" falls a little short of their jurisdiction. So Apple, you can just do what the rest of us do when someone walks off with our stuff: fill out a report and wait until Doomsday to hear something, because that shit is gone.
I just find this whole thing distasteful, mostly because of the way Apple has handled it. This wasn't corporate espionage. Nobody broke and entered. Tom Cruise wasn't hanging on little wires, dressed in black neoprene. This was Apple's fault. They were careless with their phone, and then, when they lost it, they impersonated police officers to search a guy's home without so much as a reported crime, much less a warrant, most of which has to violate any number of laws, I would imagine. (That's probably why the actual police stayed outside--they knew better.)

So you know what, Apple? I hope that your employee got shitfaced and dropped the phone on his way out of the bar, where it was found by some homeless dude who's now using it to level off the fourth corner of his refrigerator box under the highway somewhere. Good luck getting that back.

Hat tip to Ken.

August 21, 2011

Generosity is Awesome!

Scott Baio (yes, that Scott Baio) could really use donations for his non-profit charitable organization, Baily Baio Angel Foundation. It's a great organization that works at making life better for families and children dealing with GA1 and other organic acidemia metabolic disorders. I don't want to speak for him, so don't hold me to this one, but Scott has also suggested that he would "follow" on Twitter those who donate.

You can find out more about OA disorders here and here. Please give generously. And not just because "Happy Days" and "Charles in Charge" are awesome. Do it because generosity is awesome!

August 17, 2011

It's All About Who You Work For

Wow...that didn't take long. I see the media is already going after Rick Perry. This article from asserts that he once "Aggressively Pursued Federal Aid He Now Decries." How hypocritical of him...or is it?

I do think that there is a lot of hypocrisy out there on both sides of the aisle, but I'm not sure that these two situations are inconsistent, and therefore, not necessarily hypocritical. Today, Perry is running for POTUS, and part of that job would be to get federal spending under control. (Are you listening, Mr. Obama?) He should be looking out for U.S. citizens, and their future. Thus his current position on deficit spending.

This is an entirely different job than the one he held at the time in question. Back in 2003, Perry was governor of Texas. What was his job then? To represent the people of Texas. I don't think it's inconsistent in the slightest to say "hey, federal spending is out of control, and should be cut back...but as long as those programs are in place, I'm going to be damn sure to get benefits for the people I represent, because that's why they elected me." Turning that money down, or ignoring it only hurts the people he was elected to represent. Lobbying for it really only means he was doing a good job on their behalf.* It's no different than an individual saying "I think the welfare system is costly and inefficient and I think they could make some important changes; however, my family is in need and my primary concern is their well-being, so I will take the benefits." If that individual is put in charge of the welfare system eight years later, is it that strange that he or she would try to fix those issues from so long ago?

This is just Time trying to find some way to stem the flow of Perry's sudden popularity. Ultimately, though, the difference between Perry then and now? Simple--in 2003, he was representing a different group of people.

*full dislosure: I'm no Perry fan; I don't really know him well enough. I also hate lobbying and lobbyists and everything to do with that aspect of politics. But, as I said, as long as it's in place, I would expect my representatives to participate to the extent that they can.

July 29, 2011

Airbrushed (Climate) Models?

So I stumbled across yet another "sky-is-falling" Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) headline:

Has warming put 'Dirty Dozen' pollutants back in the saddle?

Apparently, the Arctic ice is melting and releasing nasty chemicals into the atmosphere, right?.  But then I stumbled across this little gem, buried in the middle:

The scientists indeed found a long-term downward trend in primary emissions after the Stockholm Convention banned production and trade in the "Dirty Dozen."
But a more complex and disturbing picture emerged when the same data was crunched through a simulation of the effect of global warming on POP concentrations.(emphasis mine)

So...I guess you could say that the picture is not only "complex and disturbing," but also "imaginary." Let's not even discuss the fact that apparently this model starts with the assumption that global warming exists, something still in dispute. (Before you go all Gore-ish on me, keep reading...) It's a computer model. It makes predictions. And if it's anything like most global warming models, it does it poorly. (Again, keep reading.) So, what this article is really saying is "we see a decrease in bad chemicals, but our made-up projections from our handy-dandy doomsday computer are saying we're all...well, doomed." And I'm not even going to get into the fact that many people out there, including scientists, think that banning DDT in the first place cost millions of lives due to malaria that could have been prevented. What I will say is that it's very hard to take this article seriously when one of the other "related headlines" on the page was this one:

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism

The article states that NASA satellite data (which many consider to be more accurate than ground data and definitely more accurate than made-up-doomsday-computer data) indicates that:
the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

Yeah, that's right--Your computer models SUCK. If that sounds familiar, you've probably been reading my blog for a while, since I posted on this way back in 2008.

So what does this mean? Well, we can say that...wait! Shhh! I think if you listen carefully, you might hear the stake being driven through the heart of the AGW Alarmist Movement....

In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth's atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth's atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict.

Can we finally take back Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize and Oscar (although maybe he should get one for acting, since he's fooled so many people)?

July 27, 2011

Why I Tell People I Live In NJ

 “The speaker’s plan is on life support,” added New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. “It is time for him to pull the plug.”

Pulling the plug. Something Schumer has never done, lest he miss a chance to see himself on television. Hey, Chuck--where's your fucking plan?

And along those lines, I see that you and the other Senate Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Boehner saying that you wouldn't vote for his plan if it passed the House. Remind me again which party it is that's to blame for no deal?

Epic Fail

If the President continues to trot out the "blame Bush" excuse (as he did the other night during the prime-time speech), then I think he has to also, logically, concede that his presidency has been an incredible failure anyway. Follow my logic here:

1) He ran, and won, knowing the state of the economy. It sounds obvious, I know, but it is the key to the rest of this. If the Bush administration was so horrible, it must have been fairly obvious to a member of the senate, running for POTUS, just how bad it was.

2) Knowing the state of the economy at the outset, he certainly wanted to improve it. I think we can all agree on that. I don't think he's an evil guy. And besides, he's far too full of himself to do anything but try to create a legacy for himself by, among other things, fixing that economy.

3) Despite spending exorbitant amounts of money, spending the likes of which we've never seen, despite promising better employment rates, despite promising he was going to "drive us out of the ditch," despite promising to bend the medical cost curve down, despite promising to be a "uniter" and to better relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world, despite all of that, he's accomplished...well, none of it, really. By any significant measure, we are worse off than when he took office. He's even had to resort to some mythical "jobs saved" measurement to not look completely incompetent. That's like saying I saved millions in child support because of all those women I didn't sleep with. With the execption of Bin Laden, which was a result of policies that he would have voted against as a senator, name me one success he's had. Anybody? He even won the Nobel Peace Prize (which I feel was completely undeserved), and then preceded to add one more war to the books (although given past winners, that shouldn't surprise anybody).

4) Objectively, he has failed in nearly every aspect of his presidency--foreign policy gaffes, ineffective, costly economic plans, you name it. Since he knew what he was getting into, ran for the job, welcomed the job, performed the job, it doesn't really matter whether he "inherited" problems or not. He hasn't fixed them, and has therefore failed. I'll use the analogy that he seems to be fond of lately--that of the American family. If a family is struggling and I come into their lives as a financial planner, with the objective of getting them back on track, and three years later their finances are worse than when I started? I've failed. And by the way, it certainly would do me no good to blame the household, except to make me look slightly pathetic. I came in to do a job, and didn't do it.

So there you have it. If he truly believes he "inherited" our current mess, then he is also a failed president. QED. Now would President McCain have failed as well? I don't really know. That answer is of the "jobs saved" variety. But I suspect two things--he wouldn't have failed quite as spectacularly, and he wouldn't have taken every opportunity possible to blame someone else.

July 07, 2011

If You Do It Too Long, You Could Go Blind

Stare at the sun, that is. What did you think I meant? This diagram, from USA Today, is serious business. One shouldn't fool around with sunstroke. After all, it's really just a form of self-abuse. You get all hot and bothered and yet you keep on grinding away at your task, hard and fast, until finally you feel like your head just burst. That's a stiff price to pay. If you feel yourself getting all hot-blooded, the best thing to do is to take a cold shower.

And think about baseball.

June 02, 2011

Is Kim Kardashian Smarter Than Anthony Weiner?

Yes, at least when it comes to recognizing one's own body, I guess. Despite yammering on incessantly about what would happen if someone were to throw a pie at him, Representative Weiner can't seem to come up with the answer to what appears to be a simple question: is the picture sent from his twitter account, in fact, a picture of his nether region? Is it because he really doesn't recognize himself? How hard can that be?

Not too hard, apparently, as Kim Kardashian, whose entire "career" is perched delicately on her haunches, had no trouble spotting her naked torso when it was used as the cover of Terrace Martin and Devi Dev's new album. Now, to be fair, identifying Kardashian's naked torso (or most of her other parts for that matter) isn't all that hard if you've ever, I don't know...used the internet. But still, Weiner ought to at least know whether or not someone snapped a picture of his junk. Perhaps that's the problem--he's had so many pictures taken below the belt that he just can't be sure if this one is him or not. Seriously, how else could one not be certain?

It seems pretty clear that there's something else going on here, and Weiner's normal way of dealing with things he can't answer--interrupting and/or talking loudly over dissenters--isn't working for him. There's only one thing that the media loves more than political scandal, and that's sexual political scandal. Saying that we shouldn't "make a federal case" out of it is one of the most telling statements he's made. First of all, it is a federal case. Hacking into the computer account of a sitting congressman is, I believe, the very definition of a federal case. And let's be honest: if Weiner's account was actually hacked, he'd have the culprit tracked down within hours, dragged three times around the capital building before finally having him or her flayed alive while CSPAN captured it all. The fact that he hasn't demanded a head on a platter speaks volumes.

Notice, also, that I refrained from any sophomoric innuendo or puns regarding the congressman's name. There's been so much of that already that I thought I'd give you a break from all those people trying to cram Weiner down your throat.

April 02, 2011

Sneaky Preview

I don't do too many "tech support" posts here, but I thought I'd add this one because a) it was hard to find the way to fix it, and b) if frustrated the shit out of me.

I recently switched my Yahoo! mail over to the new beta version. I like the look and feel of the new version, but after a day or two of using it, the panel that allows you to preview a message on the bottom half of the screen had disappeared, and there was no apparent way of bringing it back.

I looked around the Yahoo! site for a couple of days, but found nothing that addressed the issue. I finally tried using Yahoo's chat service, where I was told by two agents on two separate chats that the new mail didn't have a preview pane. I'm not sure what made me think they did....Oh, wait a minute, yes I am--they advertised it as a major feature of the new version! Idiots.

So I kept looking and finally found the answer. I hope this will save some others the hassle I went through.
1) Go to the "options" button on your Yahoo! mail page and select "more options."
2) Under "general" options, look for "scroll," and make sure to select "Each panel on the page individually." (by default, Yahoo! has selected the other option--"Content of the entire page," which removes your preview panel. This was a lousy choice on their part, I believe.)
3) Make sure to save your options. Yahoo! will then refresh (so make sure you're not in the middle of writing a message) and voila--your preview panel should be back!

If you'll indulge me for a second, I'm just going to throw a few key words and phrases at the bottom of the post for those people who are doing a search for this issue.

Keywords: Yahoo! mail beta, missing preview button, preview window disappeared, yahoo preview gone.

January 23, 2011

Hu's On First?

I can't help it--every time I read about the visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao, I keep imagining some sort of hilarious misunderstanding at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Biden: Hey, Boss. I heard we’re getting a visit from the Chinese president.
Obama: That’s right, Joe.
Biden: Who is the Chinese President?
Obama: That’s right.
Biden: What’s right?
Obama: Hu.
Biden: That’s what I wanna know. Who’s the president of China?
Obama: He is.
Biden: Who is?
Obama: Hu.
Biden: Okay, look—the Chinese president gives national addresses, right?
Obama: That’s right.
Biden: So when it’s time for a national address, who gives the speech?
Obama: Every word of it.
Biden: Who does?
Obama: That’s right.
Biden: What’s right?
Obama: Hu.