New tunes

I did have a little extra cash earlier in the week, so I stopped by Best Buy to see what new CDs had come out. It had been a little while since I bought any new music. Illegally downloading is just too tempting.

The new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album came out this week. It's good. I like it, but it's not quite what I was expecting. It sounds so much more polished than their last album, not as raw or energetic. It's pretty mellow, actually. Karen O doesn't screech or shout or anything. Like I said, it's good, just different. Really looking forward to the concert next month.

I also picked up Ghostface Killah's new solo CD. There are a bunch of great tracks on this album, including a reunion with the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan and a collaboration with the late(?) B.I.G. (he is dead, isn't he? I only ask cause he seems to have released more albums since his "death" than before, kinda like Tupac)and Raekwon. Plus, anyone that namedrops Tony Stark and Iron Man on their album is cool with me.

Oh, oh, and my invitation to Jennie and Dave's wedding came in the mail yesterday. Jennie did a great job with the invites and the wedding website (which I would post a link to, but I dunno if she'd be cool with that). She even has it set up so you can RSVP and choose your meal online. Very nice. I wonder if I was the first one to RSVP via the internets...

Oy, what a week

I don't remember the last time I've been this thankful for a weekend to arrive. It's not even that this past week has been particularly bad, but I had a lot of stuff to do, and I wasn't sleeping very well for most of the week, so now I feel like I can get all caught up.

I turned in my 6-page Hinduism paper Wednesday night. I think it came out pretty decent, though I may have gotten a bit carried away when I got to the part about comparing/contrasting Hinduism with my own religion. But hey, a page and a half of anti-religion rant has to be entertaining for some people, doesn't it?

Wednesday night also featured an exam over Buddhism, which, I think, I really dig. It's not so much a religion as it is a philosophy, a way of life, and I think a lot of it makes sense. It's basically about inner peace, getting your mind and body to function properly as a unit. Were I to ever want to find my spiritual side, I believe I now know where to look.

Plus most of the Buddhists in the video we watched had shaved heads, and I still think I want to do that. After Dave and Jennie's wedding, perhaps...

The third speech in my Public Speaking course was a group one, two or three people per group. Two of my classmates came over to the house Wednesday after I got out of my Religions class and we worked, briefly, on our speech (one of them was late and the other had to go bowling...). I'm not the world's biggest fan of public speaking, and I dislike it even moreso when it's a prepared speech. I prefer to go more off-the-cuff. Give me a topic and I'll give you ten minutes. Working with a group, I would really prefer not to do that again.

It's not that my partners were bad or anything. I think they did a better job on their bits than I did on mine (granted, I don't think anything I ever do is any good, but I digress). It's not that I'm a control freak either. OCD, sure, but I generally work well with others. I dunno. When I get up in front of a class and make a fool of myself, I'd just rather do it by myself, I guess.

But whatever. It's over and done with. One more speech to go. I have no idea what I want to give it over.

Battlestar Galactica has become my new favorite show. I feel almost embarrassed that I never watched it on television. The writing is just so masterful, so subtle, very understated. Never say with words what you can show with action, even something so subtle as one character not being able to look another in the eye.

You know how weird thoughts or ideas come to you right before you fall asleep? I went to bed after watching an episode of Galactica and reading a bit of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, the book that my favorite TV show of all time was based on, and this phrase popped into my head: Good and Evil don't exist, only a point of view.

I have a couple of assignments to work on over the weekend, for Media Writing. I need to write, like, two radio or TV segments, I forget which. Hopefully the assignment will tell me when I look at it. I don't imagine that will take too long, but I've noticed something this semester. The writing class coupled with the speech class has made me realize that I don't write things to be spoken (except dialogue, of course). I write things that are supposed to be read. I think this is part of my problem with giving prepared speeches. I try to write them out beforehand, like we're supposed to, with an outline and all, but I seem to write the speeches more formally than necessary, which trips me up a bit, trying to remember all the witty turns of phrase I wrote down, which look great on paper and sound great in your head, but when they're spoken out loud, they seem to lose something.

Anyway, I need to get dressed and get to the comic shop. With all that I'm trying to do, all the concentrating on school, I don't get out very often. Prior to seeing V for Vendetta, I don't think I'd been in a movie theatre since 2005. Movies cost money. Concerts cost money. Everything costs money, which I don't have, but comics are generally inexpensive and they help keep me sane, I think, a short respite from all the schoolwork.

Oh, and speaking of concerts, the band of a kid I worked with at the 04 is playing tomorrow night down at Sokol Underground: Race for Titles. Not sure what time McLaughlin's band is going on, but the show starts at 9. Door is only $7, which is how I can justify my going. Anyone else up for it?

And finally, to return to my high school melancholy for a moment, today is the 13th anniversary of the death of Brandon Lee, who was accidentally killed toward the end of filming The Crow.

God, high school seems like such a long fuckin' time ago. Being around all these kids in my classes has made me feel old. We were never that innocent and naive, were we?

Which reminds me, my ten year high school reunion is going to be next year.

Fuck, that's depressing.


How Evil Are You?

You Are 48% Evil

You are evil, but you haven't yet mastered the dark side.
Fear not though - you are on your way to world domination.


I got 15

The average person only gets 7 correct. Blame Sarah. Answers are under comments. Why yes, I am bored. How could you tell?

1. On a standard traffic light, is the green on the top or bottom?

2. How many states are there in the USA?

3. In which hand is the Statue of Liberty's torch?

4. What six colors are on the classic Campbell's soup label?

5. What two numbers on the telephone dial don't have letters by them?

6. When you walk does your left arm swing with your right or left leg?

7. How many matches are in a standard pack?

8. On the United States flag is the top stripe red or white?

9. What is the lowest number on the FM dial?

10. Which way does water go down the drain, counter or clockwise?

11. Which way does a "no smoking" sign's slash run?

12. How many channels on a VHF TV dial?

13 On which side of a women's blouse are the buttons?

14. Which way do fans rotate?

15 How many sides does a stop sign have?

16. Do books have even-numbered pages on the right or left side?

17 How many lug nuts are on a standard car wheel?

18. How many sides are there on a standard pencil?

19. Sleepy, Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Doc. Who's missing?

20. How many hot dog buns are in a standard package?

21 On which playing card is the card maker's trademark?

22 On which side of a Venetian blind is the cord that adjusts the opening between the slats?

23. There are 12 buttons on a touch tone phone. What 2 symbols bear no digits?

24. How many curves are there in the standard paper clip?

25. Does a merry-go-round turn counter or clockwise?


The Ministry

Warren Ellis is writing a column about comics 'n things for The Pulse, and I think this week's particular column has some really cool ideas about how we watch/read/interact with our entertainment, whether it's a comic or a novel or a tv show.

As Warren would say, make with the clicky.

Also, the new issue of Wired was guest-edited by Will Wright, creator of The Sims, among other games. There are a ton of great articles about the future of gaming.



After two rounds of the NCAA tournament, the initial 64 teams has been whittled down to 16. Out of those 16, I picked 10 of them to have advanced this far, including all four of my Final Four picks. 10 out of 16...that's not too shabby for guesswork.

We got a few inches of snow overnight. We're supposed to get a few more inches by tomorrow morning, by which I mean a foot. My poor car is slowly getting buried and I need to head out to the bank to drop a check off.

Art Spiegelman has agreed to be a judge in an Israeli comics company-sponsored anti-Semitic cartoon contest. Spiegelman is best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel, Maus, which is the story of his father's time in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

More can be read about the contest here.

I think this is pretty fucked up and wrong and if I had any, I would send some money for her legal fees.

My Dean's List certificate for last quarter just arrived in the mail.

Hurricane season seems to have begun. Sure glad we're more prepared now.

The Dumbshit-in-Chief gave yet another speech about Iraq today in yet another half-assed attempt to blow sunshine up our nation's collective ass.

He said that Iraq is the center of the war on terror. Gee, I wonder why. However could that have happened?

I haven't shaved in, like, a week. It would seem that growing a decent beard may be difficult for me. Perhaps I'll take a picture before I clean myself up in the morning.

There appears to be a lull in the snowfall. I'm going to run out to the bank real quick before it starts coming down again.


Happy Anniversary

From the New York Times:

The Stuff That Happened

Three years ago, the United States invaded Iraq. We can all run the story through our minds: Shock and Awe, Coalition of the Willing, Mission Accomplished, looting, "Stuff happens," no W.M.D., suicide bombers, purple fingers, blasted shrine.

Many who supported the invasion have taken this anniversary to argue that it all would have been worthwhile if things had been run better. They argue that if the coalition forces had been large enough to actually secure the country, to keep insurgents from raiding Saddam Hussein's ammunition depots, to give the people a sense of safety, the country might well be on the road to a hopeful future.

We doubt it. The last three years have shown how little our national leaders understood Iraq, and have reminded us how badly attempts at liberation from the outside have gone in the past. Given where we are now, the question of whether a botched invasion created a lost opportunity might be moot, except for one thing. The man who did the botching, Donald Rumsfeld, is still the secretary of defense.

The generals on the ground understood what a disaster they were creating in the pell-mell race to Baghdad, which left in its wake an entire country full of places where Saddam Hussein's loyalists could regroup and prepare to carry on a permanent war against the Americans and their fellow Iraqis. As the new book "Cobra II" by Michael Gordon of The Times and Bernard Trainor underscores, the generals in the field were overruled by directives from Washington, where military decisions were being made by men who were guided not by reality, but by their own beloved myths about what Iraq was like and how the war was going to be won.

Chances are that at the time George W. Bush did not have an inkling of how badly he was being served by the decision makers at the Pentagon. But the fact that Mr. Rumsfeld continues to hold his job tells us that Mr. Bush doesn't care, that he prefers living in the same dream world that his secretary of defense inhabits.

In their wishful thinking, Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld undoubtedly tell themselves what they tell us: that the Iraqi people are better off than they were under the brutal dictator, that the Iraqi security forces are gradually learning how to take over defense of their own country and that a unified government is still a good possibility. It's true that many Iraqis are better off. Others are in far worse straits — their homes have been ruined, their relatives killed, their jobs evaporated and their ability to walk the streets in safety obliterated. Women's rights are being threatened in the south, and sectarian warfare has put families with mixed Shiite-Sunni ancestry at risk in their own neighborhoods. It is hard to quantify relative degrees of misery and pain in these circumstances. But unlike the horrors of Saddam Hussein, the horrors of the present can be laid at America's doorstep.

If the mission in Iraq was to create a stable democracy in the heart of the Middle East and inspire neighboring countries to follow the same path, the results have been crushingly bad — unless Mr. Bush regards the election of Palestinian terrorists as the leaders in Gaza and the West Bank as a step forward. Iran is extending its sway by the hour. In Afghanistan, American forces are too thin to do much more than protect the central government in downtown Kabul.

The idea that Iraqi security forces are poised to take over the job of protecting the people in a unified country is almost ludicrous. Many of those forces are actually sectarian militias that have been armed by the coalition forces, but not changed by them. So far, attempts at creating a government that could bring the country some modicum of stability have fallen apart. There are no leaders with the strength or credibility or even desire to rally anyone but their own co-religionists or ethnic group.

When Americans ask themselves whether anything has been accomplished in Iraq, they do take note that there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11. That has been an enormous blessing, for which law enforcement officials can offer no explanation other than somewhat perplexed guesses. It's possible that the chaos in Iraq has distracted Al Qaeda, diverting its energy to fomenting civil war between Sunnis and Shiites in the heart of the Middle East. If that is so, we may have bought short-term peace while creating a training ground for terrorists and a no man's land where they can operate with impunity.

The Iraq debacle ought to serve as a humbling lesson for future generations of American leaders — although, if our leaders were capable of being humbled, they could have simply looked back to Vietnam. For the present, our goal must be to minimize the damage, through the urgent diplomacy of the current ambassador and forceful reminders that American forces are not prepared to remain for one day in a country whose leaders prefer civil war to peaceful compromise.

While we are distracted by picking up the pieces, there is no time to imagine what the world might be like if George Bush had chosen to see things as they were instead of how he wanted them to be three years ago. History will have more time to consider the question.

Link (registration required)



Oh, the Madness

I don't think my V for Vendetta review is all that good. My apologies. It was late. I was tired. Go see the movie. It's freakin' awesome.

UNO might be on spring break, but Metro isn't. Tonight is the second night of my World Religions class. We're going to be finishing up on Hinduism and we get a take-home test. Should be easy enough. There will be another take-home test later in the quarter, and then three in-class tests, I think. I have to finish a bit of reading before tonight's class, though, so that's what I'll be working on today.

Tomorrow, hopefully, I will be interviewing Rachel Jacobson, the director of the Film Streams project, for my Media Writing class. I suppose I should come up with a few questions in advance, huh?

I am halfway through downloading the first season and a half of Battlestar Galactica via BitTorrent (Shhh! Don't tell anyone). I started the download Friday night. It is, obviously, going slowly.

Last night's episode of the The Shield was great. That show really is one of the best on television (but it's still not better than Homicide). Forrest Whittaker has been incredible. His character's arc has been pretty harsh. I think he's losing it. And it's been really great to see Gina Torres (Firefly's Zoe) as his ex-wife. She's such a good actress, and this role has been way different from anything she's done in the Whedon-verse.

March Madness is upon us. I filled out my bracket like I do every year. Not in any pool, though. Don't have the money to gamble with. But I like gambling with other people's money, so I helped Ith with his office pool. I've done fairly well the past few years with my picks, so we'll see how it goes. I have Duke and UConn in the championship game, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Syracuse, BC, Ohio State or UCLA there instead. It's a pretty wide-open field this year. There is no one team that is a clear-cut favorite or that is that much better than everyone else. Should be a good tournament.

Hinduism, here I come...

Remember, remember...

Previous adaptations of Alan Moore's work have been, at best, mediocre, ranging from the abominable League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to the vapid, though stylish, From Hell. Had he seen the film, he might have wept at what was done to his John Constanstine.

I can't blame Moore for severing all ties with DC and wanting nothing more to do with them or their parent company, Warner Bros. They have repeatedly treated his work with an utter lack of dignity and respect which has done nothing but lead to lousy movies and an alienated fan base.

I daresay, however, that if Moore were to ever sneak a glimpse at the V for Vendetta adaptation, he might, for the briefest of instants, smile, and nod, and know that, finally, after all these years, someone understood. Someone got it. The spirit of Moore's original work shines through, brighter than any fans, let alone Moore himself, had any right to expect.

"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."

Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, serialized in the British magazine Warrior in the mid-1980s, was a rage against the policies of then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher, a glimpse into a bleak future where civil liberties have been curbed, willfully given up by a people frightened into obedience and submission by their government.

It was a powerful story then, and an important story now. One that is especially prescient of the world in which we live today.

The film adaptation of V is filled with the same political, revolutionary spirit as the comic. It isn't watered down or made safe for the kiddies. It's filled with violence, yes, but also ideas, which, as V states so eloquently, cannot be killed. This movie burns with a righteous anger toward those who would lie and deceive in the name of security and peace, but who truly desire nothing more than total power and control.

To write descriptively of the plot would be to spoil it, and I don't want to do that. I will say that it is a story of lies, and of truth, and the fine line separating the two. History, as they say, is written by the victors, but that doesn't make it true.

V is, depending on one's point of view, either a terrorist bent on chaos and anarchy, or a freedom fighter trying to reclaim his country for its people.

Hugo Weaving is fantastic as the main actor behind the Guy Fawkes mask of V, though he left much of the action scenes to stuntmen. When V is speaking with Natalie Portman's Evey, or Stephen Rea's Inspector Finch, that is Weaving, his distinctive voice muffled slightly by the mask.

It must have been difficult, I assume, to portray a character only through voice and body movement, with no facial expressions whatsoever. Regardless of mood or tone of voice, all we see is that stylized, smiling Fawkes mask, but you could almost see Weaving's face behind the mask as he talked, his voice acting is that good. It also doesn't hurt that he was in two huge trilogies in the past seven years, so fanboys everywhere know what he looks like.

Portman's performance is brilliant as well, as the daughter of activist parents who were taken from their home late one night, black hoods cinched over their heads. A rebel in spirit, if not in deeds, it isn't until her life is saved one night by the mysterious V that she begins to realize that she cannot merely sit around waiting and hoping for things to get better, damning the government under her breath. Actions speak louder than words.

In his directorial debut, James McTeigue, who formerly worked as first assistant director to both George Lucas and the Wachowski Brothers, seems to have picked up a thing or two from his previous gigs. He handled the material wonderfully, working from the Brothers' script. They're obviously great fans of Moore's work and put a lot of effort into getting this one right.

I'm sure you can watch and enjoy V as just another action flick, oblivious to the subtle and not-so-subtle politics of the story, but I think you'd be missing out on a deeper context. V is truly a story of its times, the original comic and, 20 years later, the film. The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Still missing

Journalist Jill Carroll is still being held captive in Iraq, and the Christian Science Monitor has created some public service videos calling for her release, which Iraqi television stations have agreed to air for free.

You can view one of the videos here.

Pass it on and maybe it'll eventually reach those who kidnapped her. Maybe she can still get out of this alive.

::UPDATE:: 3/15/06

On other matters, (Bayan) Jabr (Iraq's interior minister) told AP:

Kidnapped Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll was still alive and being moved from place to place by her captors. He would say nothing more about the case.


Hail, no

It was hailing on my car about a half hour ago, small, white, ice pellets dropping from the sky. It was sunny about five minutes ago. Now it's back to cloudy and grey. If you couldn't tell, Spring has arrived in Omaha.

I need to interview someone this week and write a profile about them for my Media Writing class, but I've no idea who would make an interesting-enough piece. I stopped by Liquid Courage yesterday, to see if Koenig would be up for it, given his previously-insane life, but he's sort of the shy type, which is cool. Totally understandable. But now I've no idea who to ask. Any suggestions or volunteers?

The Sopranos returns tonight after a record 21-month-long hiatus. Hopefully they'll recap the last season for me, cause, you know, it's been a while.


V for Vendetta sneak peek

I have a free pass for two to see an "advance screening" of V for Vendetta Tuesday night at 7:30. Anyone wanna come?


This is going to start off sounding like a rant, but it really isn't one. I've been too exhausted lately to rant much about anything of any importance (or anything trivial, for that matter).

As most everybody should know by now, I'm sick and tired of anonymous comments. Now that I've turned on the comment moderation option, I can spare the rest of you from reading them, but I still have to see them, and I would really rather not.

A person who does not sign their name to their comments is, to me, quite akin to a coward. If they do not have the decency (or balls) to attach their name to their thoughts, then, quite frankly, I don't give a damn what those thoughts are. Anonymous anything mean nothing to me. Fuck off. I don't care.

If you're too childish and immature to stand by your thoughts, grow up. This isn't high school anymore. If you have something to say to me, my email is right there on the blog. I have AIM, ICQ and Yahoo! Messenger. I even have a cell phone. If I don't know who you are, I don't care what you have to say.

That being said, Spring break is apparently next week, and while I have a class at Metro on Wednesday evenings, the rest of my week is free (though I believe I'll have an assignment to do over break for my Media Writing class, but that's just writing, which I do anyway). I'm always a fan of free time, though I don't always use mine constructively, but there's something to be said for slothfulness (in limited quantities, of course).

My new Metro class is Comparative Religions, or World Religions, or whatever you wish to call it. It should be fairly interesting, because, even though I'm not exactly what one might call a fan of organized religion (or a "God" in general), I'm fascinated by all the various belief systems that people adhere to. I think this is because I honestly don't get it. I don't understand how or why, today, in the 21st century, people can still believe that the earth was created in 6 days, evolution hasn't been happening, or that Jesus was a white guy. I just don't get it.

I think I'm doing fairly well in my two UNO classes. A's in both, I think, but don't quote me on that. Registration for Summer and Fall classes starts soon, and I've made an appointment with an advisor for the week after break. I think there are at least one or two classes I can take toward my major at UNO over the Summer.

I finished reading The Atrocity Archives, which also has a short-story in it called The Concrete Jungle. Very good book. Very funny and sort of creepy. Or very creepy and sort of funny. Either way, I really like Charles Stross.

I now need a new book, though I suppose I should work on reading the book for the religions class for a while.

Tomorrow night (Friday), at Joslyn, Film Streams is showing The Passenger, a 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson which I've never heard of, but is supposed to be good. Once again, 7PM/$10.

And, finally, I'd like to formally, officially, welcome Alissa back to Omaha. I know her first week back didn't turn out exactly as planned, but, as they say, shit happens. If you always know what life is going to throw at you, it'd get pretty boring rather quickly, I imagine.


Because Jennie says so, that's why

The American Jewish World Service is asking people to sign a postcard (I'm fairly certain you don't need to be Jewish in order to sign) urging President Bush to get off his ass and do something to help stop the genocide in Darfur.

Who knows? Maybe he's actually become aware of the situation and blame someone else for not bringing it to his attention sooner. (Ha!)

Anyway, Jennie sent me the link to the postcard and asked me to post it here, and she's pretty smart about this sort of thing, so click here to sign. You might even get a personalized email from Jennie thanking you for your support.

To learn more about the atrocities going on in Darfur, click here.


Brief Oscar Recap

Jon Stewart nailed it. I think there was more hype concerning his hosting the event than there was about the nominees, and he absolutely killed. I hope they bring him back next year.

I was glad to see George Clooney win for Syriana, though I'm a bit disappointed Good Night, and Good Luck was shut out.

Even though it didn't win, it was very cool to hear Dustin Hoffman say "A History of Violence, written by Josh Olson, based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke."

Eminem won an Oscar for "Lose Yourself," from 8 Mile, a few years back, and this year, "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" took home the statue. That's just awesome.

I was a bit surprised that Felicity Huffman didn't win for Transamerica, but I'm sure Reese Witherspoon is equally deserving. (Still need to see Walk the Line, actually, and a host of other movies, too.)

Crash's win for Best Picture surprised me a bit, too, considering all the love Brokeback Mountain has been getting all year.

The tribute to Bob Altman was great. He's such an amazing director. It's hard to believe, with all the wonderful films he's made over the years, that he's never won an Oscar.

I realize they put together all the montages and stuff weeks in advance, but would it have killed someone to at least mention Darren McGavin and Don Knotts at the end of the tribute for those who died in the last year?

All in all, a very good show. It was pretty entertaining the whole way through even though it went three and a half hours.

I like the Oscars. In many ways, it always reminds me of why I love movies and storytelling so much. I'm never going to be up on that stage accepting any awards, but that doesn't mean I can stop writing.