Sunday, December 23, 2007

A morning recipe

   One of my favourite morning treats to make for my wife is the onion, bacon, beemster and lime omelette:

Start with some shallots (any kind of onion will do, but I like shallots). Slice them finely, and saute them lightly until they become soft and translucent. Put them aside for later.

Cook several strips of bacon over low-medium heat until crisp. Break into bits. Put aside until later.

Grate some beemster cheese (any firm, sharp cheese will do, but I like beemster).

Zest one small lime.

Cook the omelette using the onion, bacon (bits), beemster and lime (zest) as filling.

Serve with cinnamon and nutmeg spiced coffee for breakfast Christmas morning.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

I can't think of a title for this one. A little help?

   Here is my little addition to the obscure Venn Diagram internet culture:


Yellow = Christians
Orange = Fundamentalist Christians
Blue = Raving Lunatics
Purple = Kent Hovinid, Ken Hamm, and Mike Huckabee

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Worse than Detroit

   I have several new blog posts in my test journal that are just not quite ready for publication. Instead I'll offer you this quick little anecdote about daily life at Casa Little.

   The other day I returned from walking Shadow and he was still pretty rambunctious, so I went into the back yard with him to play a little. We started with him racing around the yard at top speed while I stood there doing nothing but saying, "boo!" whenver he came near, which would send him off on another mad dash around the dog house, through the garden, and back to me. Eventually, he got tired of my minimal participation. He rooted around in the snow until he found one of his favourite toys, and brought it over for a session of tug of war.
   At one point, he dropped the object of his devotion, and looked at me expectantly. Thinking he wanted me to throw it, I bent down to pick it up. Turns out he was only taunting me. As soon as I moved, he scooped it up, and swung it up into the air, striking me in the face with it.
   Yes, my dog busted me full in the mouth with the hammer-like, knotted end of an old, frozen sweat sock.

Two last things:

1) A semi-private message from my wife to Smarty. "Mmmm, mose are mery mood!"

2) Thirty-seven and a half bonus points to anyone who can tell me in what way the title of this entry is in any way related to the content.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A new angel


We put up the Christmas tree today. As the wife was trimming it, she mentioned that we needed to get a new angel to put on top. As I recall, the conversation went something like this...

Paul: Can we get one that shoots lasers out of her eyes?

Paul's wife: Lasers? That wouldn't be very angelic.

Paul: Can we get one riding a shark?

Paul's wife: Get serious!

Paul: I am serious. I think an angel riding a shark with lasers shooting out of her eyes would be all kinds of awesome.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The difference between atheists and theists

   Remember a couple of years ago, when the movie The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was coming out? Remember all the atheists trying to organize a boycott of the film in cinemas? Remember all the atheist parents sending letters to their school principals asking for the Narnia books to be pulled from the library shelves? No, you don't remember that?



Maybe that's because it never happened.

   You see, atheists are not afraid of being exposed to ideas contrary to their own. Atheists do not try to shelter their children from media that might suggest points of view that differ from the one they hold. Atheists arrive at their opinions through the use of reason and logic, and are perfectly willing to allow their own children to arrive at their own conclusions the same way..even if those conclusions are different from their own. In fact, atheists actively encourage their children to explore many points of view in order to help them see the world as it is, not as we would have it be.

   That's the difference.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A fifth of 100 movies

   Here is the fifth set of ten of the 100 movies I really like, which, in case you're bad at math, brings us to the halfway point. Unlike Jaquandor, from whom I stole this meme, I have made no attempt to order or rank these in any way. In fact, I applied a random number generator to my initial list in order to ensure the movies appeared in no specific order. Yeah, I know, kinda geeky.
   Anyway, here are the first four segments of this list, in case anyone is interested:
      Part the first
      Part the second
      Part the third
      Part the fourth

The Sixth Sense - I watched this movie with my wife. I had heard the big spoiler about it. She had not. It was like we watched two different movies. It ceratinly made for an interesting discussion afterwards. Of course, then we had to watch it all over again, so she could see all the 'clues' I had picked up on, because I knew to look for them.

Shanghai Noon - Sure it's silly, but it's silly in a good way. Wilson and Chan play off each other quite well. Funny line: Chan's character is named Chon Wang. Wilson's character mishears it as "John Wayne," and tells him that's a terrible cowboy name, and he should change it... I guess you had to be there.

Memento - You can read about this movie all you want, but you won't really understand what people are saying about it unless you watch it. It is filmed in a non-linear fashion, with one storyline progressing forward and one progressing backward until they meet in an unexpected fashion. I really, really enjoyed this one, and highly recommend it.

The Iron Giant - "I Superman!" We saw this in the theater when it first came out. I think it was one of the first movies we took Matthew to see. He was quite young. We had no idea it was going to end the way it did. He cried for hours.

Ruthless People - Bette Midler, Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater pretty much do the best they can here, but they are outshone by Danny Devito like the sun outshines the moon. The man was inspired in this film. I'm giggling here just thinking about it.

Monsters Inc. - Pixar again. 'Nuff said.

Ice Age - Pretty much my favourite thing about this movie was the short featuring the prehistoric squirrell going after the acorns. Follows the Pixar formula: well known comic actors voicing the characters, and top notch animation bring an excellent story to life.

Titan: AE - Holy cow! This is the animation edition of this list, I think. Titan:AE is notable because it is well done conventional animation in a CGI world. Excellent sound on this if you have a surround system.

Back to the Future - "One point twenty-one jigawatts? ONE POINT TWENTY-ONE JIGAWATTS!!??" Michael J. Fox was the big star at the time, but Christopher Lloyd carries this movie with his slightly loopy antics. Kramer owes just about every gag he ever did to Lloyd.

Bull Durham - I love the Crash Davis character portrayed by Kevin Costner in this film. He seems so real, so grounded, so at ease with himself. If I were Susan Sarandon, I'd have said, "oh, my!" as well.

<< previous ten                    next ten >>

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Let's try this again, shall we?

   So, I was casting about at the grocery store for vegetable ideas yesterday afternoon. I'm not much of a fan of vegetables, so I try to find new and different ways to prepare them that might actually, you know, have some flavour. I decided to try a carrot dish.
   Now, I didn't actually buy any carrots, or any other ingredients for the vegetable dish for that matter. I figured I had everything I needed at home. I picked up some Italian sausages and some portobello mushrooms to grill, though.
   When I got home, I realized that the carrots I had in the fridge were rather old and grungy, so I had to do something else. Luckily there were a couple of fresh zucchinis in there from the weekend. I had originally intended to just saute up some slivered carrots in lots of butter, onions and garlic, but when the recipe morphed over to courgettes, it kind of grew in the process. Here's what I did:

Spicy Thai (sort of) stir fried zucchini

Zucchini (Duh!)
Shallots (or your choice of onion)
Asian chili sauce or paste
maple syrup (if you don't have any maple syrup, any kind of sugar will probably do - I just like to substitute maple syrup everywhere sugar is called for because it tastes so damn good)
sesame oil
peanut oil

   I cut the zucchini in to sections about two inches long, cut those in half lengthwise, and then sliced them to get pieces that were rectangular (about 1x2 inches) instead of round. Just my own little ideosyncrasies about cooking; I dislike round slices. Never mind.

   Thinly slice shallots and garlic. In a pan, put a drizzle of sesame oil and a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil (if you're alergic, substitute your own light oil of choice). Heat the oil on medium-high until a drop of water sizzles then add the garlic and shallots. Stir fry for a few moments. Before the garlic and onions start to brown, add the zucchini. Stir fry until zucchini just starts to soften then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir together juice of half a lime, a little bit of chili sauce (to taste), and about a teaspoon of maple syrup. Pour over vegetables in pan and allow to simmer for a couple more minutes.
   Done! Plate and serve. Pat and I found it very yummy. Your milage may vary. Let me know.

   While you're eating, here's the Wikipedia article on zucchini. I found it fascinating.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You lose

    Grrr! I was writing a post about a delicious dish I created for dinner tonight, and, through an inadvertant mouse click, I navigated away from my edit entry page. When I clicked 'back' I returned to an empty text box, and no amount of cajoling (read swearing) would bring my words back. Now I'm just too damn mad to rewrite what I had, so you all miss out on my yummy stir fried zucchini recipe. Unless I cool down enough, and the muse retakes my soul (gak).


Monday, November 5, 2007

Tech support

   An actual telephone conversation I had today...

Paul: I'm having difficulty setting up my new wireless router.

Tech Support Person: May I have your e-mail address please.

Paul: My email address is

TSP: And how do you have the router connected?

Paul: I have the computer connected to the router and the router connected to the Comtrend AOL DSL modem.

TSP: And what kind of modem is it?

Paul: Uh, it's a Comtrend AOL DSL modem.

TSP: And who is your ISP?

Paul: ...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

If I had a million dollars...

   The Wired blog, and Gizmodo have been watching a bit of drama unfold between the James Randi Educational Foundation, a high end audio cable company, and an audiophile magazine editor. For the JREF, it's business as usual. Hotshot shoots his mouth off. JREF accepts his application for the $1,000,000 dollar challenge. Hotshot discovers exactly what "proper observing conditions" means. Hotshot starts backpedalling, and trying to needlessly complicate his application. Hotshot withdraws from the challenge.
   James Randi has seen this drama played out a thousand times, or more. But for many, it's all new. After watching the current "hotshot" play his hand, the Wired blog posted this article:

10 Tips For Dealing With James Randi: Claim Your Million Today!

A couple of pertinent excerpts:
• Don't lose your temper. Don't get into preliminary cockfighting. Randi is a master at delivering insults and responding to communications in such a way as to make you look foolish. Before test protocol negotiations have even begun, anything you say will already have been used against you. The Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge is as public a spectacle as there is, and the chances are that between you and him, only one of you has a half-century's experience as a professional showman.

 • Don't forget what you're getting yourself into: boring, exhaustive testing by people who think you're full of shit. If you go into it thinking it's going to be a cute studio one-shot in front of Johnny Carson, imagine what happened to Uri Geller happening to you twenty times. If you can't pull off your trick/power/feat with statistically significant results outside of Randi's lair,going inside of it is simply idiotic.
   My personal favourite, though, is the last point:
• Do have paranormal powers. In fact, fulfilling this one suggestion lets you ignore all the others, and all but guarantees the cash will be yours. What are you waiting for?
   That last one underlines the holes in all the arguments Randi's detractors use. The simple truth is, if these people could actually do what they claimed, no more, just exactly what they claimed, then the one million dollar prize would have been won long ago.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Break the silence!

   Jaquandor did a Halloween Quiz Thing, so I will, too.

1. What is your favorite work of horror fiction?

   Not so much into Horror fiction. I've read most of Poe, and a little bit of Lovecraft, but none of it ever really did anything for me.

2. Who is your favorite monster?


3. What horror movie gives you the most chills?

   See answer to number one. No real interest. Don't watch 'em.

4. Freddy versus Jason?


5. Ghosts or goblins?

   Well, both, of course.

6. What is your scariest encounter with the paranormal?

   It frightens me every day thinking about how many people are so seriously deluded that they believe in all that stuff.

7. Do you believe in ghosts?

   Dontcha think it would have been smarter to ask me this question before that last one?

8. Favorite Halloween costume?

   Naughty French Maid...wait, did you mean for me to wear? Never mind.

9. If you had an unlimited budget, what would your fantasy costume be for this Halloween?

   A Ferrari Testarossa driver.

10. When was the last time you went trick or treating?

   Tonight. I took the dog for a walk after the kids thinned out a bit. Stopped by my neighbour's place to say hello. He was just getting ready to wrap it up, and counting up how many trick-or-treaters had come to his door. "Hey," he said to me, "if you say, 'trick or treat,' you'll be my one-hundredth." So I did. I got a Kit Kat.

11. What's your favorite Halloween candy?

   Rockets. Y'all call them Smarties, but we call them Rockets, because we have the real Smarties up here.

12. Tell us about a scary nightmare you had.

   Britney Spears had a new album out. What? That's real? God help us all!

13. What is your supernatural fear?

   I'm afraid that hucksters and scam artists will take advantage of my elderly mother-in-law.

14. What is your creepy-crawlie fear?

   Spiders. Big time.

15. Would you ever stay in a real haunted house overnight?

   As no such thing actually exists, this question has no meaning as stated. If you mean a house that is allegedly haunted, gladly. If you mean a house that is really haunted, provide me with some compelling evidence that such a thing exists and we'll talk.

16. Are you a traditionalist (just a face) Jack O'Lantern carver, or do you get really creative with your pumpkins?

   Pretty much a traditionalist. Not an artist, so I just hack out a rudimentary face and leave it at that. Got a bit creative this year. Carved a pumpkin that looked like this...


17. How much do you decorate your home for Halloween?

   A bit. Matt and I carved two Jack-o-lanterns. Pat put out some skull shaped lights, a cutout of a pumpkin-headed scarecrow, and a couple of witches in the window. My above mentioned neighbour had a half dozen jack-o-lanterns, ghosts and skeletons everywhere, and spooky music playing really loud from a concealed speaker.

18. Do you think Halloween is too commercial these days?

   Isn't everything?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

100 movies: the fourth episode

   Ten more from the list of 100 movies I really like.

The Untouchables - Sean Connery kicks butt and takes names. Dies in the end, as all good heroes should.

Predator - The Ahnold kicks alien butt. Never gets a name.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - About twenty minutes into this film during its initial theater run, Pat turned to me and said, "we are so getting this on DVD!" We watch it regularly. The second and third editions weren't quite up to the same level, but enjoyable none-the-less.

The Incredibles - Just another one of those hugely amusing Disney/Pixar movies. Disney knows which side its bread is buttered on. When Pixar announced it was going its own way, and no longer wanted any affiliation with Disney, Disney bought them. Take that, little upstart animation company!

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - The best of the Star Trek feature films. Yes, I know that's not saying much. Still..."Khaannnn!!!!"

The Fugitive - Most coolest action sequence in the movies. If you have any kind of sound system, you'll believe the train is really crashing through your living room. We were watching this movie when Pat went into labour. Plus, Tommy Lee Jones=cool.

Casino Royale - Not the original (which I have never seen), but the most recent episode in the James Bond saga...which is also the first story in the arc...but takes place entirely in the present day. No, don't think too hard about that one. Just rent it. Best.Bond.Evar!

Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Yeah, another guilty pleasure. Not really all that great a movie, but hits a chord with just about anyone who's ever been a repressed teen. We all wish we had Ferris' joie de vivre, and devil may care attitude. Too bad this film type-cast Matthew Broderick for the rest of his career.

Hang 'em High - Another one of Clint's old spaghetti western inspired films. This one contains one of my favourite all-time movie lines: "when you hang a man, you'd better look at him."

True Grit - What better way to let John Wayne go on at length than to give him a protege to instruct? Because, honestly, we all can't get enough of The Duke's western drawl.

<< previous ten                    next ten >>

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Homeopathic bullying exposed

   In my recent traipsing through the skeptical blogosphere, I find that a blogger has recently been censored by his ISP after a legal threat. According to Skeptico (who got it from Orac), the blog The Quackometer, which monitors and reports on dubious, harmful and fraudulent medical practices, has had a post on Homeopathic medicine deleted after his ISP was threatened with legal action by the  British organisation, The Society of Homeopaths.
   I''m jealous. My most recent post on Homeopathic "medicine" was taken down by AOL (with no warning, and no explanation I might add) after a complaint by
one homeopath. The Quackometer was bullied by an entire society of homeopaths. I guess I still have a long way to go to reach the big time...

   If you'd like to see what all the fuss is about (and evidence that bullying really doesn't work all that well), you can find
the offending blog post reproduced in full at Skeptico and several other skeptical blogs around the blogosphere.


   I'm getting a little bit tired of AOL Hometown these days. For the last couple of months I've been getting  bandwidth restriction messages, and little 'red x' icons on all of the images in my journal. I have no idea why, as the (what 25 or so?) readers of my journal can't possibly be pulling down enough bandwidth to pass any limit AOL might have set. Still, (former) Journals Editor Joe (we'll miss ye, laddie) warned me last month that I might not want to depend on AOL Hometown for very much longer. He wouldn't say why, but I got the impression there was some kind of change in the wind. I suspect AOL Hometown storage might go the way of the dodo in the foreseeable future. Joe suggested I move all my pictures to AOL Pictures, but I'm thinking I might go to another storage place altogether.
   So, to that end, I have downloaded every file in my AOL Hometown ftp space (just under 40 Megabytes worth) to a folder on my computer, and am currently looking for suggestion on where to put them. OK, so maybe that wasn't phrased very well. I'm looking for advice on what file storage service to use for the pictures I display on my journal. I'm open to any and all suggestions. What have you got for me?

   Speaking of (former) Journals Editor Joe (we'll miss ye, laddie), it occurs to me that one of the holes he leaves behind is an easy one to fill. For the last several months, Joe has been posting a regular Friday rundown of journal posts tagged with the Technorati tag 'blogplugs'. I've tagged a few entries that way, and have received a few new visitors from it, so there seems to be some value to it. I am willing to pick up that small portion of Joe's regular presence in J-Land on behalf of the community.
   Each week (barring a more official participant, like John Scalzi for instance), I will search out those AOL journal posts tagged with the Technorati tag 'blogplugs', and feature a representative listing on Fridays. Joe, your legacy shall live on!

(Edited Thursday, 10:17PM - The AOL Journals team has picked up the ball over at the Magic Smoke blog, and will be featuring Friday blogplugs there, as per usual, so my efforts in that arena are not needed. Continue to check out the Magic Smoke blog for AOL Journals updates.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A book meme from Dawn

   The common form of these lists seems to be italicise those that X, bold those that Y, and strike through those that Z. Dawn changed that for an italicised comment after each title, and I will follow that format because...well, no reason.

The books listed below are the top 105 books most often tagged as being unread by LibraryThing users (as of October 3rd). I have no idea what LibraryThing is. "Yes," means I've read it. "No," means I have not. Any other comments will, I hope, be self explanatory.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell (read and enjoyed)
Anna Karenina (no)
Crime and Punishment (no)
Catch-22 (no)

One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
(read - honest, all the way through)
Life of Pi
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote (yes)
Moby Dick (no)
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice (no)
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
(first paragraph, then quit)
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates ofhuman societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife (no, but has been recommended)
The Iliad
(pretty much)
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
(no, but my wife raved over it)
Mrs. Dalloway (no)

Great Expectations (no)
American Gods
(quite enjoyed it)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
(never heard of it)
Atlas Shrugged
(no - not really all that interested)
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha 
(saw the movie - was unmoved)
(not yet, but can't imagine going much longer without reading it)
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales (no, but I'm sure Pat has a copy of it around here somewhere - I probably should give it a shot)

The Historian (no)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
(see above [Atlas Shrugged])
Foucault’s Pendulum
(not yet - if I ever manage to finish The Island of the Day Before, this will be my next choice by Eco)
Frankenstein (no - was supposed to read it for a university course once - never did)
The Count of Monte Cristo (no)
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
(liked American Gods better, but yes)
The Once and Future King (yes, but not sure I ever finished it 100%)
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
(yes, but regret it)
The Inferno
(yes, both Dante's and Niven's version)
The Satanic Verses
(no, but I'd like to)
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
(no - can you believe it?)
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the Ubervilles
Oliver Twist
(no - bad, bad Paul)
Gulliver’s Travels
(yes - the complete, unexpurgated version - very good)
Les Miserables
The Corrections 
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
(over and over and over again)
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes (no)
The God of Small Things
(not yet, but almost certainly will one day)
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
(fabulous book - made a huge impression on me)
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
(Ah, yes, the disgruntled woman's book of cokmplaints about her man...)
The Mists of Avalon
(yes, but not all that special - chick fantasy lit)
Oryx and Crake:a novel
(no - maybe one day - just 'cause I feel obligated)
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
(recommended by a friend, but based on some of the other things he's recommended (homeopathy), probably not)
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey 
The Catcher in the Rye
(yeah, back in high school - never really though it was all that)
On the Road
(can't see it)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
(no, but I should be reading these old classics, shouldn't I?)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
(I'd like to give this one a shot one day - just for fun)
The Aeneid
(Again, pretty sure Pat has a copy here somewhere. But probably not ever)
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
(why does this sound so familiar? Google, google, google...ah, Pynchon - nope, not even remotely interested)
The Hobbit
(many times - once out loud to my son)
In Cold Blood
White Teeth (no)
Treasure Island (no)
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers (no)

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

When the Mondegreens are better than the real thing...

   I was going to write an entry about really cool album titles. The main one I was going to mention was Acts As Bold As Love, by Jimi Hendrix. That's a really cool album title, don't you agree? Unfortunately, that's not actually the title of the second album released by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
   A little bit of Googling for background information on the album revealed that the real title of Hendrix's sophmore release was Axis: Bold As Love. Not only is that nowhere near as cool as what I thought it was called, it doesn't even seem to speak to me at all. What the hell does 'Axis: Bold As Love' mean, anyway? 

   So, I'm left with Paper at the Gates of Dawn, by Pink Floyd, and The Twelve Drums of Doctor Sardonicus, by Spirit. What's your pick for coolest album title ever?

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

100 movies: part the third

   Here you will find ten more from the list of one hundred movies I really like. This brings the total so far to thirty, with previous installments here, and here. Remember that these are listed in entirely random order, and are not ranked in any way.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Kind of a hokey premise, and I found the ending to be somewhat confusing, and lacking catharsis, but a very well made film. Richard Dreyfus was brilliantly cast as a man just trying to figure out what the hell is going on in his life.

Soylent Green - "Soylent Green is people!" This film enjoys an odd position in my movie liking mindset. I was going to say unique until I realized that it shares its place with another film. Both this movie, and the Clint Eastwood film, High Plains Drifter, are examples of films that I have seen multiple times - at least four or five times each - and really enjoyed, and yet to which I have never seen the ending. Sure, I quoted the climax of Soylent Green above, but I have never actually heard Charleton Heston utter the line. And I have never seen the town of Lago painted red. Something always comes up to pull me away from the TV before the close of each of these movies. Creepy, huh?

Little Miss Sunshine - I think we saw this because the movie we went to the theater to see was sold out. Way better than whatever the hell it was we missed. I laughed harder at this movie than at any other I can remember.

Highlander - "There can be only one!" Yeah, if only that had been true. You know how some sequels are better than their progenitors? Not in this case. And it's not like the bar had been set all that high. Highlander is one of those movies on this list I must refer to as a "guilty pleasure." Poorly conceived and executed at almost every level, it still managed to draw enough of a cult following to spawn three sequels (and, I understand, a fourth currently in production), two live action, and an animated TV series. And the only commentary I can make on that is, "why?" Still, despite it's hokey premise, silly acting, and piss poor production values, the Highlander DVD gets as much play as just about any other on my shelf.

Toy Story - Disney and Pixar hit a home run with this, the first of a series of animated films that have together grossed over four billion dollars at the box office. Yes, I know. I am a sad, strange, little man.

The Lion King - Classic Disney formula here. Young animal must come of age after the death of his or her parent. Always wins, always will.

Mrs. Doubtfire - I originally had Tootsie on this list, but removed it in favour of Mrs. Doubtfire. Tootsie was undoubtably the better film, but Mrs. Doubtfire was funnier. Robin Williams beats Dustin Hoffman in drag any day of the week. I bet you didn't think you'd ever read that sentence.

Gladiator - Ridley Scott will appear on this list several times. Russell Crowe? Not so much. This is a great movie that I haven't watched in far too long. Must get the DVD out again soon.

Blade Runner - See? Ridley Scott again. This film was widely panned when it came out, and did very poorly at the box office. Somewhere, it developed a bit of a cult status, and has now been rereleased to theaters a couple of times, and had the "Director's Cut" treatment DVD release. And now we hear that Scott has done a "Final Cut" of the film that will be released this year in celebration of the movie's 25th anniversary.
   And I still can't get that stupid Sam Spade narration out of my head when I watch the thing.

School of Rock - Total rocking fun. 'Nuff said.

<< previous ten                    next ten >>

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Biting my tongue

   The other day I overheard Mr. Ho talking about Reiki. He is, according to himself, a Reiki practitioner. He was telling someone about how he had performed Reiki on an accquaintance of his, for some ailment or another, and that person had reported an improvement. But here's the thing: he did it over the phone.
   I swear I'm not making this up. He claims that he performed a therapeutic technique on someone over the phone. And that person reported improvement in their condition. That's just funny on so many levels.
   I could have pointed out that there is no
scientific evidence that Reiki has any effect whatsoever, but I didn't. I could have pointed out that the claims made by practitioners of Reiki, and Therapeutic Touch Therapy, were effectively debunked recently by a nine year old girl in her elementary school science fair project, but I didn't. I bit my tongue. I said nothing. I walked away.

   And then, today, I overheard another conversation between Mr. Ho, and a co-worker. Seems he had performed Reiki again last night, on another friend. That friend, allegedly, had been suffering from back problems. According to Mr. Ho, after one half hour of Reiki (in person this time), the friend said her back felt much better.
   I could have pointed out that any person with a sore back, given a half an hour to lie down and do nothing but relax, would almost certainly report improvement in their back pain, but I didn't. I could have pointed out that heat is an effective treatment of back pain, and the laying on of hands transmits heat directly to the affected area, but I didn't. I bit my tongue. I said nothing. I walked away.

   What? He's my boss.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Overheard at the barbershop

Customer #1: (Quoting from a newspaper headline) "Why hockey is better than golf..."

Customer #2: "Why is hockey better than golf?"

Customer #3: "Isn't everything?"

(psst, I was customer number 3)


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

100 movies: part the second

   Here are numbers eleven through twenty in my list of 100 movies I really like. Remember these are not ranked in any way. In fact the order they appear has been determined by a random number generator. Here are the first ten, if you missed them.

Aladdin - In the resurgence of Disney animation that probably began with The Great Mouse Detective in 1986, hit its stride in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, and broke into a full out charge on our hearts and minds with The Lion King in 1994, an important step was made in 1992, with the release of Aladdin. The addition of Robin Williams to the cast meant the addition of hundreds of little jokes and references that no child could possibly understand. Not since their golden age that peaked in the late fifties/early sixties had a Disney movie appealed as much to the parents as it did to the children. The success of Aladdin led directly to films such as Toy Story, and The Incredibles.

Rain Man - Tom Cruise has been much maligned recently, with good reason, I might add. However, we can't ignore his body of work. Just looking at the list leaves one amazed at the success he has had. Obviously he's doing something right. I mean, Risky Business, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Cocktail, Rain Man, Born on the Fourth of July, Days of Thunder, A Few Good Men... A Few Good Men. Damn, there's one that should be on this list and isn't. How did I forget that one? "You can't handle the truth!" What a great movie. Damn!
   Anyway, Rain Man was more about Dustin Hoffman than Tom Cruise, and it was a great, great film. Totally deserving. (Did you catch what I did there?)

Victor/Victoria - Julie Andrews. Need I say more? OK, James Garner. Oh, yeah, Gay Paree (and I do mean gay). Andrews sings. Robert Prethton prantheth. It'th fabulouth.

The Fifth Element - This is an odd looking film, and it takes multiple viewings to really understand what's going on, but it's worth it. Bruce Willis reprises his usual role of the ordinary guy caught up in an extraordinary situation. Call it John McLane in space. Also, Milla Jovovich!

Frailty - You probably haven't seenthis film. You probably wouldn't like this film. This is probably the most disturbing movie I have ever watched. It certainly isn't my idea of a fun Saturday night movie rental. If I hadn't won this DVD in an online contest, I would never have watched it. It just isn't my thing.
   Still, I'm glad I did. This is a very well made film directed by Bill Paxton, and starring Paxton, and Matthew McConaughey, and disturbing as it is, almost right from the start, I was completely unable to look away.

The Maltese Falcon - I've never thought this film deserved its reputation. It's not really all that good. By today's story telling standards it's rushed. Every line sounds to me like it was delivered too fast. But what do I know? Several sources list this as being one of the 100 best movies ever made (which, if you recall, is not what this list is about at all). It's here because I like how it defined a genre for the rest of time.

Star Wars - Has to be on any list made by someone even close to me in age. I first saw this when I was twelve years old, and it rocked my world. Looking at it with fresh eyes in light of the disaster that was the prequel trilogy, I can see its many failings. Nevertheless, I can (and do) watch it over and over again.

Castaway - More than anything else, the sound design of this movie drew me in. Yes, Hanks' performance was excellent. Yes, the direction was top notch, but the sound in this movie is intriguing. I like to go back and watch it again, just to hear new things.

The Bourne Identity -  When this first came out, I worried how they would translate one of my favourite books onto the big screen. I needn't have been concerned. The basic premise of the book lends itself to a wide range of successful treatments, and the fact that the movie didn't really follow the plot of the book ended up not bothering me at all. And the momentum! I think this film defines the term.

The Legend of Bagger Vance - This is an oddity on my list. No big explosions. No one beating up bad guys. No multi-million dollar special effects budget. Just three great actors, a great story, and a director who has proven over the years that he really knows how to tell one. Two words I commonly use to describe this film: finely crafted.

<< previous ten                    next ten >>

Monday, September 24, 2007

Interview game

   I'm so over my head here. Dawn did an 'interview' meme, and I volunteered to be interviewed by her. That was three weeks ago.
   I used to average twenty to twenty-five blog entries a month. In the last six months, I have averaged just under nine, and only six each in August and September (well, seven in September now). This being employed stuff is time consuming!

   Anyway, here's the deal. I volunteered for this at Dawn's blog, so she e-mailed me five questions. I answer them below. If you would like to be interviewed by me, say so in the comments section, and I'll e-mail you five questions, made up special, just for you.

1.   What is one thing about being a dad that totally surprised you and would you say that being a parent has made you a better person?

   One thing about being a dad that surprised me? That I don't suck at it. Has it made me a better person? Absolutely. I can't imagine it wouldn't. Sure, there are huge numbers of "deadbeat dads" out there, but the question wasn't about having fathered a child, it was about actually being a dad. At least that's the way I chose to read it. I suspect that, for most men, fatherhood is the first time they are forced to come to the realisation that they are not the center of the universe. That's a good thing.
2.  You are given the power to travel back in time and remove one invention from existence without altering the course of the world's history in any dramatic way, except for events directly relating to that one invention being non-existent.  What invention would you remove, why, and what would expect to be different?

   I think I would have to say The Popeil Pocket Fisherman. The Pocket Fisherman was one of the first hugely successful "as seen on TeeVee" products, and spawned a television culture in which virtually everything we currently watch on TV is an infomercial - even those shows we don't recognise as such, are hawking something. Hopefully, by bidding goodbye to Ron Popeil, we can avoid having late night TV littered with Anthony Robbins, Kevin Trudeau, and "Hot Talk" phone line ads. Who am I kidding?
3.   Starting the day after you post this, you can only eat or drink the 10 specific items that you list here in your blog, what are they?

Peanut butter
Home made bread
Vanilla ice cream
Maple syrup
4.   Pat gets a fabulous job offer in the US at triple her current salary.  What state do you hope it is most and why?  Least and why?

   This is the first question I'm tackling, because it's the easiest to write something flip and nonsensical about. The rest of them are gonna make me think! What state do I hope itis least? Texas. Really, I'd want to avoid anywhere the temperature goes above 100ยบ in the summer, so pretty much the southern half of the country is right out. But specifically Texas. Let's be honest, the whole bible belt is gonna be a problem for me. But Texas, oh Texas, has historically been the ego of the United States. They tried to secede, fer chicken's sake.
   I did some googling for this, and found some interesting stuff. You know how states have official symbols? Most of them have state flowers, and state animals, and state birds. Some of them have state minerals, or gemstones. A few of them have state songs and state colours. Did you know that Texas has an official state gemstone cut? Not just the gemstone (blue topaz), but the actual cut must be the "Lone Star cut" in order to be an official Texas jewel. And a state animal isn't enough for them. They have an official state insect, and official state reptile, and an official state mammal. And an official state small mammal. And an officialstate flying mammal. I'm not kidding. In addition to their official state flower, they have an official state tree, and an official state plant. They have an official state pepper. Yeah. If it ain't a jalapeno, it ain't a Texas pepper. They have an official state grass. Grass! These people are just far too full of themseslves.
   So Texas, if you've got any high paying jobs for experienced bankers, keep them to yourselves, OK? Actually, I hear Austin is nice. They apparently have quite a reasonable, secular community in Austin. But, then again, there's the whole summer heat thing.

   Now, Oregon, on the other hand, is a nice place to live (so I hear). It's not too hot, or too pretentious, like California. Nor is it too cold,and wet, and entirely boring as Washington. It's right in the middle, both literally and figuratively. It's not in the bible belt, so people aren't insane there. It doesn't border on Utah, which is always good. It's on a similar latitude as I am right now, so the climate would be similar, but somewhat moderated by the Pacific ocean. Neither quite as hot in the summer, nor quite as cold in the winter.
   The official state beverage is milk. Milk, for the love of pretzels! I like milk. I'll bet they have cookies, too. Oh, and their official state nickname? The Beaver State. Yeah, Oregon I could get used to.
5.   You die, and find out you were wrong there is a God.  Not only is there God, but you were honking wrong, and there are angels, demons, Lucifer, fires of hell, and fluffy white cloud heaven, and every bible story you thought was bunk - true.  There is before you the literal version of all that you denied. 
St. Peter is standing in front of the Gates of Heaven (pearly and all), Pat is there already and you can see her waiting for you (hey, I had to give you a little incentive), but you have to get past St. Peter who is looking a bit cross with you.  St. Peter asks you to defend your atheism to him, while convincing him to let you pass.

   "Pete! Buddy, pal, how the heck are you? Man, those are some nice wings. How do you keep them so white? And those teeth! Man, they're like pearls. Get it, pearly? Heh, heh."
   "So, listen, Pete - can I call you Pete? Listen, Pete, are you the guy they call "The Rock? Good on ya, mate! A shining example to all. Hey, you know what? I've got a question for you. Judas. Yeah, Judas, man. He's up here, right? I mean he's not down in the "other place" is he? C'mon, it was all part of the plan, right? You can't hold him responsible, can you? And the Jews, man. Can you get the big guy to send the Pope a message? Tell him to tell all the Catholics to lay off the Jews, OK? I mean, it's not like they had any choice in the matter, right? Omnipotent...that means "all powerful," right?"
   "So, anyway..what? Defend my unbelief? Naw, man, I'm just wasting time. I figure if I'm experiencing this hallucination, then I'm not completely dead yet. I'm just trying to stretch it out as long as I can, to give the doctors as much time as possible to save my life. To perform a "medical miracle" as it were (heh, heh). What, it's not a hallucination? Prove it. Tell me something I couldn't possibly know. Then send me back to find out if what you told me is true, or not. If I find out that you imparted to me knowledge that I had know way of knowing in advance, I'll take that as a sign this is all real, and I'll come on over to your side. If I find out that whatever you tell me right now is nonsense, or something based on knowledge I already have, then I'll knowit really is an hallucination. Sound OK, Pete? Pete? Buddy...?"

   Oh well. He turned tail and ran just like every other person confonted with a real world test of their superstition. No surprise here. I mean, it was my hallucination, right?

   Listen. Did anyone else notice how three of those five were doubled questions? I think that's cheating, Dawn. Also, the last one wasn't even a question. Sure, I assumed a question mark, and answered it anyway, but rest assured, if I interview you, there won't be any low shenanigans like that, OK?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: a review

   Went and saw the latest Harry Potter movie with the family last night. Probably caught it on the last chance weekend before it leaves the theaters for good. Not to worry. It'll be out soon enough on video, and we'll add it to the rest of the Harry Potter DVDs on our shelf.

   My review? I really liked this movie. I had goosebumps from the opening scene, and alternated between sadness and delight throughout. The film really got across to me the weight Harry is carrying by now, and how it causes him to pull back from those who care about him.
   The darkening of the films continues with Order of the Phoenix, and director David Yates had a lot of fun using fascist imagery in his 1984esque depiction of the Ministry of Magic. I wasn't as enamoured of the ending of the film as I was by what had led up to it, but part of that had to do with the necessary pruning required to reduce the behemoth of a book it was down to a useful movie length. I was able to accept it, anyway.
   It was a shame we waited so long to see it, as it was the kind of a movie that calls for applause at the end. That, however, would have seemed silly in a theater containing all of thirteen people.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A. Rant

   I hate email forwards. They are the biggest waste of time on the Internet (and there's a heaping helping of time wasting material on the Internet). First, most of them are stupid. "Send this to twelve people and the Taco Bell dog will run across your computer screen." Did anyone ever actually believe that? If you did, then you're stupid. Second, most of them are lies. "This virus will erase the crucial 'sector zero' of your hard drive, then burn out your motherboard, empty your bank account, and have an affair with your wife." Give me a break. Third, most of them come from people who I don't even know. Why am I on your mailing list? Seriously, why? We aren't on a first name basis. We aren't even on a last name basis. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike you. I just don't know you.
   Now, don't go trying to remedy that last. If you've put my email address on your bulk forwarding list without first asking my permission to do so, I don't want to get to know you, because I only hang out with considerate, polite people. If I have ever received an unsolicited email from you, even though we've never met, then you're a rude pain in the ass, and I don't want to get to know you. Well, unless you're as stubborn as Andi, but that's too long a story for here.

   There's another category of bulk e-mail forwards that steam me more than any other: the religio-political rants. Did you really think that I, a centrist Canadian atheist, wanted to read the intolerant, Republican, Christian extremist, bigoted, hate mail you received? Well there's the problem isn't it? You didn't think. You never think. You just mindlessly click 'fwd' and send to: 'entire address book' and never think about what you are doing. Stop it! Just stop it. I don't want to get any more pages of stupidity from you.
   Even my best friends stopped sending me every forward they get. Oh, sure, I get a few, but usually they're somehow on topic for me. My friends have thought about it, and decided I might be interested. And usually they're right. That's why they're my friends.

   Here's the latest moronic screed to grace my inbox, followed by the reply I sent to the mindless forwarder.
Subj: This woman should run for president

Written by a housewife from New Jersey and sounds like it! This is one ticked off lady.

'Are we fighting a war onterror or aren'twe? Wasit or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001?

Were people from all over the world, mostly Americans, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan , across the Potomac from our nation's capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania?

Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was 'desecrated' when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet?...Well, I don't. I don't care at all.

I'll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns himself in and repents for incinerating all those innocent people on 9/11.

I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere possession of which is a crime in Saudi Arabia ..

I'll care when these thugs tell the world they are sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head while Berg screamed through his gurgling slashed throat.

I'll care when the cowardly so-called 'insurgents' in Iraq come out and fight like men instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques.

I'll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs.

I'll care when the American media stops pretending that their First Amendment liberties are somehow derived from international law instead of the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights.

In the meantime, when I hear a story about a brave marine roughing up an Iraqi terrorist to obtain information, know this: I don't care.

When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners who have been hum iliated in what amounts to a college-hazing incident, rest assured: I don't care.

When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank: I don't care.

When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and fed 'special' food that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being 'mishandled,' you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts: I don't care.

And oh, by the way, I've noticed that sometimes it's spelled 'Koran' and other times 'Quran.' Well, Jimmy Crack Corn and-you guessed it-I don't care !!

If you agree with this viewpoint, pass this on to all your E-mail friends. Sooner or later, it'll get to the people responsible for this ridiculous behavior!

If you don't agree, then by all means hit the delete button. Should you choose the latter, then please don't complain when more atrocities committed by radica l Muslims happen here in our great Country! And may I add:

'Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.' -- Ronald Reagan

I have another quote that I would like to add AND.......I hope you forward all this.

'If we ever forget that we're One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.' Also by.. Ronald Reagan

One last thought for the day:

In case we find ourselves starting to believe all the Anti-American sentiment and negativity, we should remember England 's Prime Minister Tony Blair's words during a recent interview. When asked by one of his Parliament members why he believes so much in America, he said: 'A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in... And how many want out.'

Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:
1. Jesus Christ
2. The American G. I.

One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.


   Yeah, uh, I read this until I got to the phrase, "Iraqi terrorist." Then I stopped, because the Iraqis who are being killed in, where? oh Iraq, are not terrorists, but civilian non-combatants, or members of armed militia standing against foreign incursion on their own soil, much like the men and women who fought another war against a foreign power between 1763 and 1775. I understand the British considered the American revolutionary army terrorists as well.
   Please stop perpetuating the myth that the war in Iraq has anything at all to do with the events of September 11, 2001. It doesn't. The group that crashed four commercial airplanes on 9/11/01, two of them into the World Trade Center towers, had absolutely no ties to Iraq. This much we know as fact. This much we also know as fact: your president, Mr. George W. Bush knew - unequivocally knew - beyond the shadow of a doubt , before he gave the order to invade Iraq, that they had no connection - of any kind - to the WTC incident, and that they had no "weapons of mass destruction" or in fact any significant military strength at all.
   George Bush invaded a small, weak country, killing tens of thousands of innocent people, without provocation, and without any good reason, other than the fact that its leader had embarrassed his daddy. Maybe the woman in your missive should care a little bit more. Maybe the people of the United States should all care a little bit more.
Paul Little

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Weekend assignment

Weekend Assignment #183: Make up a poll for people to play with. The poll can be on any subject you want -- it can be serious or funny or silly or whatever (although funny's always, you know. Funny). If you're not on AOL Journals or for some reasons you don't want to use AOL's poll function, there are other poll options for your blog; here's one, for example.

Ah, polls. I love polls. They're so seemingly scientific, while in fact being virtually useless as a means of gathering meaningful information. I believe the poll has at last found its most suitable home: the Internet. Consider this a short tutorial in the creation of Internet polls of great political and philosophical import.
   The poll answers you offer your readers need not all be obviously on topic. In fact, it is common practice to include at least one non-sequiter option, ostensibly for comedic effect, but as will be explained, there is a very good reason for doing so. The following pol makes use of the most popular version of this feature: the 'pie' option.

   Yeah, so it would have been a little more topical a couple of days ago. How about this one?

   This one uses the alternate 'Planet X' option, which may be included if a 'pie' selection is not desirable. The 'pie' and 'Planet X' options are an important part of any poll. They allow the voters a selection that says, "your poll does not address my feelings on this issue. In fact, I think you are an idiot." Failing to include one of those two options usually indicates a frighteningly bad case of takingmyselftooseriousitis. Or, sometimes it reveals a case of tryingtoartificiallyskewtheresultsosis.
   The above poll uses a less common double-non-sequiter system, in which one option is usually an in joke that very few people will recognise. The use of an in-joke non-sequiter in no way frees the user from including a 'pie' or 'Planet X' option. However, if as a pollster, one can invent another, more universal nonsense selection, one may feel free to use it in place of the others. 'Kitten' might be usable...unless the poll is about cats...or pets...or busty actresses.
   Avoid creating, and participating in polls in which there are only two options. Most will make use of a false dichotomy to attempt to lend credence to a particular position. Especially avoid any poll that asks for a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer. It is almost certainly a form of a "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" question.
Take, for example, this poll:

   Does it matter how you answer that one? Not to me it doesn't. Herewith ends your short, introductory tutorial on Internet polls. Go forth and pollify.

Oh, yeah...
Extra credit: Have you ever participated in a political poll?

100 movies

   Jaquandor, at Byzantium's Shores, inspired by Tosy and Cosh, whom I have never read, has taken on a bit of a 'meme project.' He intends, as do I, else I would not be writing these words, to list one hundred movies that he likes (well, I'll probably stick to movies that I like). Note that these are not necessarily my opinion of what are the best 100 films ever. I could probably make a list of 100 movies that are generally considered to be great films, that I haven't ever seen. They may not necessarily even be the best 100 films I have ever seen. They are just 100 movies that I have seen and really liked. At least two or three of them are, I will readily admit, bad movies... 

I know you are, but what am I?

   When I first decided to do this (about halfway through reading Jaq's first ten), I thought it might be hard to come up with 100 movies that qualify. Having spent twenty minutes on Google I am now faced with the unenviable task of paring about twenty titles off my preliminary list.
   Jaq, and Tosy before him, numbered their lists, in reverse order; starting at 100 and working their way down to 1. Because I am not going to even try to rank these movies in any way, I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to present them, in blocks of ten, with a little bit of commentary. In fact, I am going to number my rough list, from one to one hundred, and then use a random number generator to select what order they are presented in. Just because.
   OK, here we go...


The first 10...

The Rock - Sean Connery, Nick Cage, a bunch of really big guns, and a yellow Ferrari. What's not to like?

The Last Temptation of Christ - It's a shame so many Christians condemned this film without ever actually having seen it. It's nothing like they said it was. If any of you Christians out there had a problem with this movie, I'd be interested in hearing what it was.

Stargate - Kurt Russell rocks! Always has, always will. How many men do you know who are banging Goldie Hawn? Huh? Yeah, I thought so. Suck it, Chuck Norris!
   Several years ago at a home theater seminar, the presenter used a scene from the movie Just The Ticket, in which Andy Garcia uses a Stargate LaserDisc as demo material to sell a big screen TV and surround sound stereo set. Comedy gold! The rest of it pretty much sucked, I understand. Still, I enjoyed the metaness of the demo within a demo.

The Transporter - Jason Statham kicks everybody's ass. Over and over again. About now you'll be beginning to detect something of a pattern in my selections, I think.

The Road Warrior - Pattern confirmed! Besides, there had to be at least one Mel movie on this list, and it sure as hell wasn't going to be Forever Young.

The Hunt For Red October - You might suspect you sense another pattern forming here... I will neither confirm nor deny the allegations. Have you seen this movie? They make a submarine jump out of the water fer chrissakes!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Here lies proof of the random nature of this list. Had I been ranking these in any way, this would most likely have been number one, and the last movie I listed. The random number generator says I put it here. Not much to say here but the fact that Peter Jackson did a remarkable job with these films. The entire trilogy really belongs together as one movie, but being forced to break them up, this one is my favourite of the three.

This is Spinal Tap - Any old, dyed-in-the-wool rock 'n' roll fan has to love this movie. I'm a fan of all of Christopher Guest's oeuvre, but this one is the funniest to me, because I recognise myself in the absurdity of the rock 'n' roll posturing they lampoon. As mock documentaries go, this one goes to eleven.

Ghostbusters - Who you gonna call? Um...this'll come up again, as well. The only thing funnier than Murray, Ackroyd, and Ramis fighting the 'Stay Puft Marshmallow Man' is the fact the Ackroyd actually believes ghosts are real. "Nice thinking, Ray."

Beverly Hills Cop - Eddie at the top of his game...before his game got old. Nowadays, the best he can do is talk like an ass - I meandonkey.

   There you have it, the first ten films on the list of movies I really like. What are your thoughts?

                    next ten >>

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Check, 1, 2, 3... Check, check!

   This is an experimental post for the purposes of testing the poll feature of AOL Journals R13 install. Please vote if you are able.

Monday, September 3, 2007

"Bigger than Jesus"

   Much has been made over the revelation recently of Mother Teresa's private papers and correspondences that show her to have suffered a crisis of faith for most of the last fifty years of her life. The first commentary I read on the matter was on Friday, at Atheist Revolution, in a blog entry rather hyperbolically titled, "Mother Teresa an Atheist?
   It was a comment on that entry that first brought to my attention the phrase, "dark night of the soul," described by the commenter as "a time in the lives of saints where they don't "feel" the consolations of the faith. It is considered a trial and not an actual lack of faith. It forces the soul to rely upon the rational basis of the faith and not mere feelings and emotions which are fleeting and often deceptive." (We'll just leave aside the irony inherent in the use of the word 'rational' in that sentence for today.) In the next day's National Post newspaper, religious columnist Father Raymond J. DeSouza expanded on the idea in his article, "
Mother Teresa's darkness."
It is a form of agonizing spiritual purification, in which the soul draws very close to God. Yet God is infinite, and infinitely beyond our finite senses, so He appears as nothingness -- hence the nada, nada, nada refrain of St. John of the Cross. It is not that God is nothing, but rather that infinity appears that way to the souls who see deepest. It is something like a powerful telescope; the greater its range, the more empty the heavens appear to be. It is only to those stuck on Earth that the skies seemed crowded with stars.
   This is, of course, spin doctoring of the highest order. It is the "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" mantra of the woo-woo community pushed to its most extreme. The fact that one cannot feel the presence of God, the theologians would have us believe, is proof that one has approached him more closely than the average person. Absence of evidence, they tell us, is, in fact, evidence of presence. And they say it with a straight face.
   I am in awe of their fortitude in the face of such silly rhetoric. Reading Father DeSouza's column, I find myself giggling upon discovering such statements as, "To be sure, she knew [the absence of God] as only those closest to God know it," and flat out guffawing over, "[n]ow we have discovered that her realism was borne of daily contact with God as He really is..." Um, absent?

   I wish to point out to Reverend DeSouza the point at which his argument completely fell apart for me. It was his use of the analogy of a large telescope looking at the sky. That analogy reveals that Father DeSouza, like so many of his colleagues, has willfully kept himself blind to the realities of our universe, and the science that reveals them, in order to protect his God Delusion.
   Ray (can I call you Ray?), when you train a powerful telescope on a small section of sky that, to the naked eye, appears devoid of stars, do you know what you see? You see more stars. And if you choose a small section of that small section, and zoom in again, do you know what you see?Uh huh, more stars. And you can perform the same exercise over and over again with the same result. Eventually, what you begin seeing are not individual stars, but crowded fields of galaxies, composed of billions of stars each. And when you zoom in on those, even more galaxies are revealed beyond them.
   This, Ray...Raymond...Father DeSouza, is the true nature of infinity. And it's far, far larger than any God you can imagine.