Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dawkins Fears Phony Deathbed Conversion Stories

According to an interview with the Guardian, Richard Dawkins is worried that a deathbed conversion will be falsely attributed to him following his demise:

He seems much more worried about spurious reports of a fictitious deathbed conversion being put about by his enemies after he dies. He is probably not joking at all when he says "I want to make damn sure there's a tape recorder running for my last words."
With the philosophical fluff in his books (he claims that Thomas's First Way doesn't conclude because the first mover must be moved, thus ignoring the reducio ad absurdam of an infinite chain of movers) and his complete animus toward theists of any stripe, I don't think believers will be chomping at the bit to claim him as one of their own.

I'd rather have Christopher Hitchens anyway. More >

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Shark Gets Punched In Face: A Metaphor for Life (And Really Annoying to Watch over and over)

Mr. T represents my schedules and obligations. The shark represents my attempts to blog. Enough said. Sorry about the utter lack of content here. Will try to remedy this soon.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Burnin' down the house

So it's been a shamefully long-ass time since I bothered to blog anything. I'm here to rectify that indignity thanks to getting a fire lit under my butt by the good people at, who have chosen me to write the occasional TV and movie review for them. Unless they scold me and say otherwise, I'll post here as well (I might just post the link whenever they actually publish me). My first assignment from them is to throw down weekly recaps of USA's Burn Notice, so here for your pleasure is the first of many new writings from an exciting new venture!

Burn Notice Season 2 Ep3 “Trust Me”

There are plenty of reasons to watch USA’s sophomore season summer hit Burn Notice. My personal fave? Bruce Campbell. Yes, the god of B-Movie fandom, star of the hallowed Evil Dead trilogy and maker of delightful cameos in the Spider Man trilogy, has returned to the role of wisecracking TV sidekick that he played so well on Hercules and Xena. But Bruce’s delightfully hammy antics are more of a side dish at this luau. Burn Notice is the story of Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) a spy who, having crossed the wrong people, gets “burned”. In the words of the show’s intro, “When you're burned, you've got nothing - no cash, no credit, no job history. You're stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in.” For Mike, that city is Miami-- home to partners Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) and Sam (Cambell!), his femme fatale ex and a slacker buddy who’s often harboring his own intentions. Also in the mix is Maddy (Sharon Gless), Mike’s hyper-neurotic meddling control freak of a mom who frets over his every move and chain smokes enough to make the cast of Mad Men blush. The show works around the central concept of Mike’s quest to discover who burned him. However, the hunt quite often takes a back seat to his adventures in low end mercenary & PI work. It’s essentially The A-Team meets Alias, but the season 2 cast addition of Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer as Carla, an operative for Michael’s burn-ees, promises to hopefully take things a bit deeper.
This week, things get very Matchstick Men with Mike playing two unrelated but equally delightful shell games: a charity case helping an acquaintance recoup losses from a nightclub financing scam, and a personal errand practicing some friendly extortion on a Pakistani spy (Entourage’s Assaf Cohen) for intel on Carla’s past. The club scam gives Donovan a fun chance to flex his acting chops as he takes on the role of a spoiled oil heir, and the show’s oft-used technique of giving helpful espionage tips via voiceover provide some delightful insights on the art of double crossing a con man. The Pakistani errand provides a lighthearted chance for Mike to make a new friend in Miami cloak and dagger circles, and I personally hope to see Cohen show up as an ally in future episodes. Per the show’s usual, Maddy is given a cloying “C” plot, an attempt to discern why Mike & Fiona broke up. It’s all slightly formulaic, but like so much other summer entertainment, it’s also quite snappy and satisfying. In short, Burn Notice remains an enjoyably harmless summer treat with enough explosions and babes to keep half the population happy, and enough romantic tension and family drama to satisfy the fairer sex. Check it out.

Episode: B-
Show: B

This article first appeared on Poptimal and can be found at The article was reprinted with permission. More >

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Caspian, See?

Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Author’s note: I’m not feeling up on my writin’ game as much as usual, so this review kinda slurries into stream of consciousness comments after a while. Enjoy nonetheless. Also, I don't feel like italicizing titles. Wanna fight about it?

With the release of 2005’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Chronicles of Narnia put themselves in the right place at the right time to potentially occupy the power vacuum created by the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s brilliant Lord of the Rings trilogy. Based on C.S. Lewis’s beloved saga that no child should go without reading, TCoN are the tales of British schoolchildren circa WWII who find themselves whisked off to a land of talking beasts, noble centaurs, fearsome witches, and the like. Unfortunately for the Hollywood suits, LW&W is by far the most famous book in the series and Prince Caspian, while entirely essential for the saga’s plot momentum, is probably its shortest and shallowest entry. Fortunately, that literary setback has proved to be a cinematic boon, as the new film incarnation is quite nearly a triumph. Sure, it could have used more Aslan, and the vast majority of Susan & Caspian’s (completely non-book) chaste tweener flirting made me taste bile, but Peter Dinklage continues to prove himself the awesomest midget in showbiz as he steals scenes playing Trumpkin and mere words simply cannot convey my love and admiration for Reepicheep, Narnia’s resident talking mouse badass, who comes to life in all his 18 inches tall glory rendered in great CGI and given speech by the talented Eddie Izzard. Also fun: watching the Spaniard-esque Telemarine baddies make intricate power plays for the throne as usurper king Miraz devotes himself to taking out nephew Caspian and his wacky Narnian buddies. Finally, Prince Caspian probably features the most badass fantasy combat that will ever swing a PG rating. Good stuff.

Given TCoN:PC’s relatively disappointing inital box office (truly a shame, because it deserves to be, and I feel will still eventually become) a family fantasy classic, I just hope to god that the powers that be see fit to keep rolling with the Narnia adaptations. Because I’ve had me a taste of Reep and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has gots so much more.

Grade: B+

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

John Reviews Iron Man

I will write my review with movie poster quotes in mind.

Kicked my ass up and down awesome street.

An excellent start to the summer movie season.

Much more than a mere superhero genre flick, Iron Man is a the beginning of a fresh, souped up action franchise with the right proportion of CG wonder, adrenaline pumping fights, accessable characters, with a moral which is neither frivolous nor heavy handed.
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Monday, May 5, 2008


Review: Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr., welcome back to the land of the living. After spending most of the 90’s in a haze of coke, smack, and firearms, it’s nice to see you firmly on the wagon. After testing the waters of the 2000s with a few indie larks and a role in the enjoyable but little seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, RDJ has reemerged into the spotlight in the already blockbusting Iron Man to reclaim the title of Movie Star that he really should have held onto after his Oscar nominated turn in Chaplin (which I really must get around to renting).

Despite a title that a layman could mistake as pertaining to triatheletes or perhaps the history of Black Sabbath, Iron Man is the first silver screen adaptation of one of Marvel Comics’ lesser known superheroes with a history in the funny pages dating back to 1963. Downey plays Tony Stark, an arms dealer with enough cash and smarts to make Bruce Wayne look like a piss-poor dumbass and a taste for booze and ladies that James Bond himself would envy. A PR trip to Afghanistan results in Tony tasting the receiving end of his explosive handiwork and before you can say “poetic justice”, he’s a cave bound hostage being kept alive by an electromagnet in his chest cavity. He turns the tables on his terrorist captors by making a suit of armor that looks like the Michellin Man at a renaissance fair, and then it’s back to the states to renounce his old ways with the help of a far sleeker set of metal duds. The movie’s running time drags a smidge in the prelim, but that’s a minor gripe at best.

Iron Man soars in a figurative and literal sense on the wings of Downey’s career redefining performance that is earnest without being mopey or sappy and sarcastic without being annoying or feeling like obligatory comic relief. Along for the ride are fellow high caliber thespians Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, a next-gen Miss Moneypenny, Terrence Howard as Jim Rhoades, Tony’s steadfast military buddy who (spoiler alert) is likely due for a metallic upgrade of his own in the sequels, and Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, a subtly megalomaniacal corporate suit who proves Bridges’ versatility by being about as 180 from The Big Lebowski’s Dude as they come.

Finally, three other parties who deserve applause for their contributions to Iron Man’s triumph are its director, its studio, and the CG jockeys who make him fly. Jon Favreau, helmer of cult classic Swingers, Christmas classic Elf and family adventure Zathura (which should have been a classic) shows off an effortless eye for character with his genius choice to let Downey improvise and a deft eye for action with set pieces that feel dramatic but not overly staged. And Marvel Studios proves the recent decision to independently produce their own features to be a rousing success and the dawning of an exciting creative unity that will stretch across multiple Marvel features for years to come, as evidenced by a dynamite cameo in a hidden post-credits scene, a Tony Stark cameo in the upcoming Incredible Hulk reboot, and an Avengers feature on the horizon that will almost assuredly dodge all the headaches and legal wranglings associated with the on again/off again Justice League feature. Also, mad props to the untouchable wizards at Industrial Light and Magic who make the Iron Man suit itself alive with a sense of weight, technological realism, and fallibility that makes you think it might be showing up at Japanese car dealerships by August.

Grade: A-

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Idaho Secrest and the Kingdom of the Bacony Salt

Regular reader(s?) of this blog will fondly recall a brief and inexplicable obsession with bacon sparked by John's discovery of the existence of Bacon Salt, a no calorie vegetarian product with the promise of making damn near anything taste of freshly grilled hickory smoked fatty pig scraps goodness. Well, after a search that led me through 2 states, at least four cities, and some of the snowiest roads Idaho has ever seen, I finally bought some at a vegetarian food store buried deep within what can almost only be described as a compound owned and operated by the Seventh Day Adventists. The ingredients read like the appendix of a chemistry textbook, and I was of the firm belief that MSG had fallen out of favor along with asbestos and saccharine, but it certainly smells awesome (more on the taste after some clinical trials) and after the amount of research and questing I went through, it damn near felt like finally getting my hands on the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant (or, I suppose, whatever those stupid freaking rocks were in Temple o' Doom). Yay for Bacon Salt!
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Friday, April 11, 2008

Summer Movies '08: Paul's Take

Bet you thought I was dead or something. Nope! Just hella busy (not to mention a dearth of a damn thing in theatres worth watching). Regardless, here's my initial impressions of the stuff I will be giving a crap about this summer movie season (note the pointed lack of Sex and the City). Read the rundown after the jump (for those who don't know, that means click "More>").

Note: Titles with parenthesis are maybe/pass.

(88 Minutes) -- Al Pacino mystery/thriller. Don Corleone can be kinda hit or miss these days.

(The Forbidden Kingdom) -- Jackie Chan and Jet Li team up in a fantasy adventure. Love Jackie, kinda dislike Jet, it's a maybe.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall -- The Judd Apatow camp can practically do no wrong, and I'm encouraged to see Jason Segel, my fave actor on How I Met Your Mother, to break out as a star.

Baby Mama -- Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, 'nuff said.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay -- April is a good time to be a comedy fan. Can't wait to see what that crazy Neil Patrick Harris is up to this time!

Iron Man -- This will be a banner year for Robert Downey Jr. More on that later.

(Speed Racer) -- The makers of The Matrix take on a retro anime nascar vibe. And there's a monkey. Might be too weird not to see.

Prince Caspian -- Reepicheep! Reepicheep!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull -- Dr. Jones! Dr. Jones!

The Happening -- M. Night Shyamalan tries to put his lightning back in its bottle.

The Incredible Hulk -- CGI Smash!

Get Smart -- All hail Steve Carell, king of retro sitcom remake casting genius. Not that I ever got the nerve to see it, but I believe sources that said his Paul Lynde impersonation was the best thing about Bewitched.

The Love Guru -- I want to believe that Mike Meyers has more than Shrek sequels left in him and trailers make me believe that this could have the same wtf non sequiter dialogue gold that made Austin Powers so great.

Wall-E -- Disney/Pixar. 'Nuff said.

Wanted -- Angelina Jolie + cars + guns + Morgan Freeman = magic

Hancock -- Will Smith as a superhero who also happens to be a homeless drunk. Great cast, great concept, fingers crossed.

Hellboy 2 -- Slick fantasy action and the most lovably badass demon since... yeah, kinda in a class by himself there.

(Meet Dave) -- Eddie Murphy playing multiple roles (tiny alien spaceship captain and his humanoid mech suit) and it might not be garbage? Truly we are living in strange days. Then again it might blow, hence the ().

The Dark Knight -- Sucks Heath Ledger died, but at least he'll live forever as a (pun just a little bit intended) bat-shit crazy interpretation of The Joker.

(Mamma Mia!) -- Joyous celebration of slick retro hits, or just really really really gay. Jury's out.

(Step Brothers) -- Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly reunite after the wonder of Talladega Nights, but is Will wearing out his welcome?

(X-Files 2) -- Never a huge fan of the show, but it was such a pop cultural force in its time, it might be worth a look.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor -- I'm all in favor of Brendan Fraser, Asian wizards, and CGI yeti fights, so I'm down.

Pineapple Express -- Stoner comedy/crime caper again with the blessing of St. Apatow, this time with Seth Rogen & James Franco.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars -- All CGI lost chapters from the era betwixt episodes 2 and 3. Daddy needs his Yoda fix.

Tropic Thunder: The trailer left a little to be desired, but who could resist its Three Amigos meets Apocalypse Now plot and Robert Downey Jr. (see! toldja!) going cross racial.
More >

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lighthouse in Kauai, Hawai'i
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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Los Angeles Skyline. More >

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Corrupted Comics: If the Shoe Fits, You May Be A Fattie

You may be familiar with Andy Warhol's use of repetition in his art (see below). I can't remember why he did it, but it was probably to comment on perspective and phenomenological issues of perception.

While reading Shoe today, the punchline seemed dull, so I quickly substituted a quick insult: You're fat. Much funnier. So here is an exercise in repetition of the same basic punchline (with a few others thrown in). Make of it what you will. More comics after the jump.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Corrupted Comics: Garfield, Cathy, Jump Start

The rest after the jump

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Corrupted Comics: "You Are Such A Retard"

In the spirit of mischievous fun and easy parody, here are some retooled Baldo strips. I never really enjoyed Baldo. But these set ups are so juicy that they begged to be redone with punchlines that are actually funny.

More parodies after the jump.

And here's a Garfield Sans Garfield that I cooked up myself:

More >

Friday, March 21, 2008

Meg Ryan & Billy Crystal. Remember them, kids?

When Rob Reiner asked his mom to make a cameo in When Harry Met Sally, he probably didn’t imagine that he’d be immortalizing her in every other cinematic comedy montage for the duration of time. Her adorable response to Meg Ryan’s very public fake orgasm in a deli is so simple yet so hilarious: “I’ll have what she’s having.” There are probably millions of people who would recognize that scene and that line with little to no awareness that there was apparently an entire movie surrounding that moment.

Indeed there was, and a rather good one at that. When Harry Met Sally is the delightful tale of two people (Harry & Sally, natch) who have a chance meeting in the late 70’s, again 5 years later, and then 5 years after that. Not until the third meeting are they ever more than a random byte in the other’s memory, but the friendship they eventually develop becomes a heartfelt and clever character study in life, love, men, women, sex, marriage, karaoke, pecan pie, and the hazzards of Pictionary.

Almost all credit for the film’s enduring success should fall squarely upon the shoulders of stars Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal (the latter of which really needs to get off his ass and host the Oscars again). The way they portray Harry & Sally’s journey from antagonists to acquaintances to friends to lovers is truly something to behold. The only downside to this movie is its stubbornly amoral position on sex and male attitudes. No, I do not want to sleep with every woman I meet, yes I do have plenty of female friends who I regard in completely non-sexual terms, and no, sex is absolutely not a foregone conclusion in a dating relationship.

When Harry Met Sally is something of an enigma. Very much a product of its time, the film is steeped in 80’s era post-feminist Me Decade sexual mores. However, it also manages to become something timeless, a study of friendship and true love as they evolve over the years. It has an overly indulgent sense of itself, yet maintains a whimsical and relatable charm. These positive aspects of the film’s nature are so strong that they have firmly entrenched When Harry Met Sally as a contemporary rom-com classic worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Annie Hall and The Philadelphia Story.

Grade: B+

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That Crazy Marmaduke: Kinky

This is a parody. Do not sue me. More >

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Comics Can Be Funny: "He he he, that crazy Marmaduke!"

As we all know, the majority of comics on the funny pages are filled up with the same tired jokes rerun everyday: Garfield is fat, lazy cat with a loser owner; Marmaduke is a dog who thinks he's a person; Hagar the Horrible works hard pillages villages--he slits throats, ravages anything that moves, and drinks the blood his victims--only to be ragged on by Helga for not returning with any quality booty. Yes, there are some consistently funny strips (Pearls Before Swine, and the insane Ballard Street), while the more repetitive strips do produce the occasional gem, like the above B.C.--Johnny Hart, please, keep pushing the envelope.

However, there are multitude of lame comics. We ought to make them funny. This time we will focus on everyone's favorite lush, Andy Capp, and that crazy Marmaduke. (Parodies after the jump)

As we saw last week, Garfield is greatly improved by removing Garfield, allowing us to witness the bizarre loneliness of Jon Arbuckle, a man who seeks comfort from sock puppets. This week we have a two-fer.

First, Marmaduke:

Actually, Marmaduke's owner is hilariously mistaken. Marmaduke has not stolen his massive collection of bones from other dogs. He has been digging up graves for two weeks. The dogs crowed around Marmaduke are keen to learn his secrets for effectively desecrating graves.

And now for Andy Capp:

This strip shows us the sad state of sanitary affairs in the Capp house. The truth is Andy has never known where Flo keeps his clothes due to memory loss brought on by chronic alcoholism and constant brawling. Consequently, he has never actually changed his own socks, shirt, or underwear; Flo is forced to change him. Unfortunately, the only chance she has is after he passes out from binge drinking. Oh Andy Capp, who knew you were so relevant, showing us the serious consequences of Britain's binge drinking problem.

Extra: Here are is a recaptioned version of the Marmaduke strip. Do you prefer this to making snide comments after showing the original strip?

And for kicks, check out Marmaduke Explained. Joe Mathlete explains the premise and punchline of each Marmaduke in 500 words or less. It's somewhat hit and miss. (Warning, he uses some bad language). More >

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kill Bill Special

(More videos after the jump).

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Watch Television Online: Hulu Goes Public

Have you heard the latest online video news? Yes, YouTube can now be seen on your TiVo. But that was not the only recent announcement regarding online video content. Hulu, the online video site developed by News Corp. and GE (i.e. the owners of Fox and NBC Universal) exited beta yesterday and is now availible to the general public. Featuring content from Fox and NBC current shows and archives, along with several films from Universal, the site is a one stop destination to watch television online without having to hunt it down quasi-legal (read illegal) episodes on streaming video sites. Well, a one stop shop for certain episodes of certain shows from certain networks, along with several online content providers (Cnet, The Onion).

Now, these shows aren't free. Commercial breaks are observed at the usual points, but they only show one ad per break and the ads run no longer than thirty seconds. When I started watching The Big Lebowski, the site offered me the option of watching the trailer for Hellboy II rather than having commercials interspersed throughout the film. I choose Hellboy II. Two to three minutes of uninspiring popcorn flick is far preferable to multiple interruptions to hear about how goddam cheesy Taco Bell's new Cheesy McCheese Burrito is.

A slight side note: although making Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth may have earned Del Torro the title "visionary filmmaker" doesn't mean his better visionary qualities are present in a comic book sequel. It is similar to advertising the Hulk by mentioning that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was amazing.

But as far as Hulu goes, it's a very promising start. They have some very good content (all three seasons of Arrested Development, The Big Lebowski, The Usual Suspects) and some mediocre content (Me, Myself, and Irene; My Dad is Better Than Your Dad). Many shows have too few episodes, but given time (and sucess) we can hopefully look forward to more shows and more episodes.

Summary: If you don't own a television, forgot to TiVo a particular show, or are unwilling to shell out $30 for a season of a show, these legitimate sites are a welcome option. The media corporations are realizing the only way to win (or even break even) in the internet game is to make their content avaliable online for free (or nearly free). May Hulu thrive.

Additionally, they have a very nice feature for bloggers. You can embed entire episodes or select any portion of the episode you want. (Content Warning: Language; You are about to enter a world of pain.)

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When Harry & Sally Met Tootsie: A Two Part Study of Sex & Gender Roles in 1980’s American Cinema, Part 1

Wow, this post suddenly looks way more academic than it will ever hope to be. What a difference a title makes, eh? As well as that title would serve to preface a masters thesis at Mt. Holyoke, I assure you there will be no burning of bras or discoveries of inner sisterhood on this blog. Just reviews of the classic comedies I was lucky enough to catch on a DVD double feature last Saturday. Woot.

First up was Tootsie, the Dustin Hoffman drag classic so well regarded that it earned a healthy spot in the low 60’s on the AFI top 100 as well as coming in second to only Some Like It Hot on AFI’s comedy list. (Note to self for future post: investigate AFI’s fetish for drag comedies). But is the movie still worth its high heels and prosthetic boobs? Pretty much. Hoffman is at his peak portraying Michael Dorsey, a stage actor with such high standards (or maybe he’s just pretentious) that directors actively shun him. His need for cash combined with a gal pal’s tales of gender bias woe leads him to auditioning for a soap in said heels n’ boobs. He lands the part the part of a take no prisoners hospital administrator and before you can say “holy Mrs. Doubtfire, Batman!” he’s an inspiration to women everywhere.

The movie rides high on the shoulders of not only Hoffman but an inspired roster of co-stars including Teri Garr, Bill Murray, director Sydney Pollack, Dabney Coleman, and the dearly departed Charles Durning. Jessica Lange is in there too, and apparently she got a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, but she did very little for me in her role as part of the love tetrahedron (triangle doesn’t begin to describe it) that ensues. Tootsie does a remarkable job at straddling genres with relative ease. The drag jokes take the high road (nary a genitalia gag in sight!), the social commentary isn’t force fed, and it gives the viewer an appreciation for the art of acting without feeling self congratulatory. Swell job, Toots.
Grade: A-

Coming soon: When Harry Met Sally

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Driving a Hybrid, It Covereth a Multitude of Sins

Or is that charity? Anyhow, Art director David Krulik and photographer Luke Stettner have created three faux Prius advertisements featuring Prius owners engaged in various naughty activities. But that's ok, since they're not creating global warming! Could this indicate that buying enough carbon credits will cancel any crime? View the ads after the jump (trust me, these are really funny).

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Song Saturday: Sigur Rós - Hoppípolla

If the primary end of music is to convey emotion and passion, then the Icelandic quartet Sigur Rós is one of the clearest demonstrations of this function. an excellent example. I first discovered Sigur Rós in high school when their album ( ) was reviewed on All Things Considered. Yes, the title is just two parenthesis. Described as a "glacial soundwash," this Icelandic quartet takes you on emotional journeys. Watch the video for their song Hoppípolla after the jump.

The video is both funny and oddly touching--due entirely to the music. A video portraying elderly men and women running about like children would usually strike me as strictly ironic. However music, along with the vignetting, lends a nostalgic feeling. The result is quite beautiful.

In addition, there is a much longer piece, Sigur Rós's new film "Heima." With a runtime of nearly ninety minutes, it definitely demands a longer sit. I haven't been able to afford that amount of time yet, but what I have watched is very good.

Visit their website, which features twenty songs available for download.
More >

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Shame on You! Nannies in British Government Consider Ways to Eliminate Binging, Drinking; Update: Awesome Beer Holster

Britain's trashed New Year's celebration (berated on this very blog) was just the tip of the iceburg. Now the British government is proposing a number of new measures to prevent the public from getting absolutely trashed every night:

Among the measures being considered were a prohibition on discounts on alcoholic drinks in supermarkets, reduced happy hours, higher taxes on alcohol and a total advertising ban.
Pardon me, but why don't they just ban booze while they're at it? It sure seems like this is their ultimate aim. This is absolute rot. Yes, let's punish the responsible for the actions of the irresponsible. (More after the jump)

A government health adviser recently proposed banning the sale of alcohol in supermarkets in addition to "price controls." This doesn't address the culture of binge drinking in the least, unless you assume that adults have no self-control.
Professor Julian le Grand, the chairman of Health England, said customers should be made to make a conscious decision to buy drink by going into a different shop instead of being "lured" into buying alcohol during their weekly grocery shop.

He said alcohol had become "like adult candy", with customers seduced into buying cut-price drink on their way around the supermarket in the same way that sweets used to be placed near tills.
Adult candy? Seduced into buying booze n the same way that fat people are lured into buying sweets placed near tills? I sincerely doubt that alcohol is a impulse buy. And even if it is, this will only apply to those with no self-control. At least in the States, most people don't buy candy every time they go to the store, just because it's right by the checkout. The blogger Harry Haddock, over at Nation of Shopkeepers has a particularly impassioned response:
What an utter loon this pompus pile of half rotten pheasant guts is. Now, the good Professor way be such a f**king moron as to loose control of his faculties when he enters a supermarket, but the rest of us make a conscious decision. We walk into a supermarket to by goods. We notice their business model means that these goods are reasonably priced, which is a good thing, as we have an increasingly small amount of spare cash left over after the BBC / Nu Labour alliance have bent us over and given our wallet a good raping.

But not the nutty Professor. He walks into a supermarket, and an evil Svengali in a Waitrose (probably, given his salary) uniform jumps out, saying ‘look into my eyes, not around my eyes into my eyes, and… your under’. He is then commanded to ignore his shopping list (250g tin of self importance, 1lt of asses’ milk, 2 tubs of contempt for the man in the street and a jar of ‘aftertaste the difference’ authoritarianism), and head straight to the booze isle, where he is able to pick up 15 bottles of red wine for 14 pence, with a six pack of alchopops thrown in for free. He is immediately overcome with the need to force feed his 3 year old child the alchopops, drink the wine (all of it), and then drive around in his Volvo, listening to Vivaldi really, really, loud, while terrorising the neighbourhood (binge drinking now being a middle class problem, apparently).

Because Le Grand Prix thinks that we all do this, he has another solution, other than restricting free trade. Price controls ~ whoopee!

‘He also said there should be a “dramatic rise” in prices.’

Clearly, this will be in the form of more tax. Jolly good.
Another blogger, the Pub Philosopher makes a very good point:
Surely, it is up to those who want to ban anything to show that a ban would improve the safely and welfare of the majority. There is no evidence to show that re-imposing licensing hours would reduce alcohol related crime, so why ban the rest of us law abiding drinkers from getting a beer a midnight.
On a passing note, wow:
Lager and cider cost less than bottled water in British supermarkets.
Update:And now for something completely awesome: A beer holster.

More >

Tropic Awesome

After catching a glimpse of this first look photo and its accompanying plot blurb, Tropic Thunder is officially one of my most anticipated flicks of aught eight. See that austere black gentleman in the middle? It's Robert Downey Freaking Jr! (shaping up to have quite the year between this and the stellar looking Iron Man) How could anyone not love the concept of his character: an Oscar winning actor so convinced of his skills that he gets dyed black for a role instead of just getting the script tweaked. Add Jack Black (looking freaky in the background) as a hack comic actor hooked on multiple roles and fat suits, the amazing Steve Coogan as a director who hates his cast enough to abandon them in a war zone, and the greatest cameo roster since Goldmember, and August 15 just won't come soon enough. This should be the funniest Hollywood satire since the underrated Bowfinger.

On a related note, I happen to know that my partner in crime actually got to visit the set in Hawaii last summer. Any cool stories to share, bro? More >

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Photoblog: A Bride Watches Her Beloved

A new photo from my dear friend Sarah's wedding, posted at Something Completely Different, my photoblog. View it here. More >

Israeli Professor: "Dude, Moses Was Totally Wasted"

Benny Shanon of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, pictured here, has made big headlines with a new hypothesis that Moses's encounters with God on Mount Sinai were neither supernatural events nor mere legends. Rather, Shanon claims, Moses was stoned out of his gourd.

"As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.
The basis for this startling hypothesis? Shanon's near 160 uses of the Amazonian mind-bending drug ayahuasca.

According to his paper in the British journal Time and Mind, "two plants in the Sinai desert contain the same psychoactive molecules as those found in plants from which the powerful Amazonian hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca is prepared." His basis for this claim comes from "having 'partaken of the ...brew about 160 times in various locales and contexts.'"

Yes, Moses was routinely high. The Bible tells us that Moses encountered the burning bush while tending sheep. So he was high--seeking religious experiences--while working. And the entire Jewish people assembled at the base of Mount Sinai were tripping on hallucinogenic drugs. According to Shanon,
The thunder, lightning and blaring of a trumpet which the Book of Exodus says emanated from Mount Sinai could just have been the imaginings of a people in an "altered state of awareness...."
The drug in question, ayahuasca, is used in various shamanistic religious rituals as well as by Westerners seeking transcendental spiritual experiences. "'The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a clasic phenomenon,' [Shanon] said citing the example of religious ceremonies in the Amazon in which drugs are used that induce people to 'see music.'"

See music? The Israelites were busy making golden calves and committing idolatry at the base of the mountain when this happened. I have a hard time believing that they were all high when Moses was up on the mountain. And if Moses was up on the mountain for several days, he would have to have taken a large supply with him. All in all, this is silly.

Professor Shanon says he doesn't believe that Moses experienced the supernatural on Mount Sinai. Does Professor Shanon believe in the supernatural at all? Was the Pillar of Fire drug induced as well? Or was that a legend? These sort of explanations are based on a denial of the supernatural. I'll leave you with two things. First, a nice response to this hypothesis:
Orthodox rabbi Yuval Sherlow told Israel Radio: "The Bible is trying to convey a very profound event. We have to fear not for the fate of the biblical Moses, but for the fate of science."
And second, a cinematic representation of a ayahuasca experience. If this is what these hallucinations are like, I sincerely doubt that Moses and the Israelites experience at Sinai would have been limited to "thunder, lightning and blaring of a trumpet":

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Monday, March 3, 2008

SNL Digital Shorts: Laser Cats 1& 2

I was enjoying the SNL clip archive when I discovered these two gems: Laser Cats and Laser Cats 2. Watch them after the jump.

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