Sep 28, 2006

Yeah, but who sets those boundaries?

As I've indicated before I do read a lot of political blogs that I firmly disagree with. Jamal, author of Opinionated Voice, posted about an interesting topic regarding the BerlinÂ’s Deutsche Opera's cancellation of Mozart's 'Idomeneo' that brought up some great thoughts on the boundaries of free speech.

Just to give a little background I came across Jamal's blog a long time ago when he commented on my post concerning Wafa Sultan's comments on Islam on the Al-Jazeera network. He argued that her position is flawed, plugging his own website in a hyperlink of his comments. While I agree that some of her statements are indeed in error it was far beyond the point I was making about her personal safety as a critic of Islam.

Still Jamal's plug worked in that I went to his website and read his views on how Sultan is ablasphemerr even linking to my post accusing me of being a supporter of her. After reading through other posts I found his statements to be well thought out even though I whole heartedly disagree with a lot of them, but it's intelligent and his candor about his political ideology is refreshing.

I never commented on his posts figuring I wasn't going to change his mind about his positions on Israel, the pope quoting a 400 year old Byzatine document, or free speech. As I stated before though I will bring up a post of his that I found fascinating.

Jamal's comments on the opera house's decision to close the controversial musical are:

"A good decision made, as it is of no benefit to cause offence to the Muslim community and further disrupt the integration/inclusion of Muslims in Europe. It has been argued that "the cancellation is also a dangerous act of self-censorship at odds with the principles of liberal democracy and artistic expression". However, the decision was correct and we must accept that freedom of speech and expression is not without boundaries."

Since the extremist Muslim riots concerning cartoons I've heard many arguments on the supposed boundaries of free speech. While yes I understand that we have limited access to free speech in many areas, such as we can't say we want to kill you-know-who, should this apply to critique or ridicule of theology?

Now let's ponder this. When many people argue that the Danish cartoons were produced in poor taste I would have to agree. I can see where people take offense to having their beloved prophet being mocked. Many people in all religions often refer to their savior as their father. I don't think most people would idly stand and protest if they saw their family being the object of satire.

Regardless of how you can understand the extremists actions violence is no excuse, nor answer, to ridicule. The boundary of free speech should be defined by good taste and personal restraint, not by smashing cars and burning embassies. The lesson the extremist Muslims have learned since the Danish cartoon controversy is that violence has won. Europeans are now to afraid to critique certain politics or faith and fear should never be the driving force behind self censorship.
Religion is much like politics in the fact that both are ideologies and both should be open to criticism and yes even mockery without the fear of violent reprisalsal. Protests and boycotts are reasonable means of countering such speech. A civilized society should not allow this extremism to rule the day when it comes to art, or anything for that matter. People of all faiths should understand this and if they don't then intergration is futile.

BTW in the same post Jamal states:

"Update: Slightly off-topic, but I thought I'd note that Michelle Malkin is reporting on other "critics of Islam under fire" for their slander. But we don't listen to her or read her dodgy links."

Yeah I'm not sure what his point is either considering he does read her blog obviously. Why I don't know since really all she does is post a bunch of links with soundbyte opinions.

Keep on fighting the good fight Jamal.

"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." - Gandhi quote ripped off of Jamal's blog.

Eye bleach sold separately.

I like to think I live in a world where simple logic dictates everything. Basic economic principles are true, a common sense of ethics are applicable in most situations, and a strong work ethic will help you achieve at least mild success.

Hearing the news that Dustin Diamond, Screech from 'Saved by the Bell', has released a sex tape involving a threesome and the act of Dirty Sanchez is enough to make me want to become a supervillan and dedicate my life to ending humanity. I could wear a cape. I like capes.

I can understand Pol Pot's rise to power better than I can comprehend how Screech convinced two women to a) sleep with him, b) at the same time, c) film it, and d) involve acts that are revolting to most. If a serious amount of cash wasn't given to the females my nefarious scheme to take over the world will soon take place.

Out of the entire cast why couldn't it be Tiffani Thiessen?

Which "Saved By The Bell" Character Are You?
WTF? I'm A. C. Slater? Why God why? And for the record no the chicks they don't love me. They should, but sadly they don't.
"All these child stars grow up and they're knockin' over banks and getting prostitutes. I'm, like, one of the only people I know that has managed to dodge all of that negative crap." - Dustin Diamond

Sep 26, 2006

Cowards they are.

Breaking up is never an easy thing to do whether it be you doing the dumping or not. I have found that ending a relationship can be more difficult than being on the receiving end. Most of the time I've ended a relationship, which has been only on a few occasions, things have gone relatively smooth, but there are those occasions that make the whole process nerve racking.

Yes I've had girls that have hurled punches at me, bar themselves in front of her door so I couldn't leave, call me every name in the book, accuse me of wanting to sleep with my friends, trash talk me to my friends, threaten suicide (twice), engage in property damage, bombard my answering machine with insults, prank call me, etc. Yes those moments can make ending a relationship harrowing, but I still feel that appearing in person is always the best method however dangerous it may be.

With technology being so accessible people are bowing out of the old fashion method of breaking the news choosing to inform their significant others in ways that are far less perilous such as email, text messaging, phone, MySpace, etc. A company in Germany has decided to make it so easy to end a relationship that you won't even have to do that even.

Bernd Dressler will do the breaking up for you, for a fee. If you want to no longer speak to your intended ex you simply hire the man to appear in front of them and give them three reasons that you feel the relationship is no longer working out for you. When asked if Bernd has encountered any severe emotional breakdown because of his work he says it's never happened as he's only the messenger.

If someone could not face me and tell me themselves I'd be kind of relieved honestly. Who wants to be with someone so cowardly as to hire someone to do their dirty work for them? Then again I might not have to deal with being assaulted or have 47 messages on my answering machine with an ex hurling all sorts of obscenities, but I'll take the bruises in order to man up.

"After a fifth of vodka and a fifth of whiskey you're still a fucking asshole" - Ex-girlfriend who opined on my cell phone.

Agency makes breaking up easier

Taggedy tag tag.

Scott, author of Life is Grand, Love is Real and Beauty is Everywhere!, has posted a tagalicious survey which I found interesting. Although he didn't tag me directly I thought I'd rip him off and answer questions about how I feel about my blog. Enjoy.

1) Are you happy/satisfied with your blog's content and look?

Eh the content could be better, but overall I'm satisfied with it. The look of my blog is pretty vanilla, but I want the content to speak rather than the visuals.

2) Does your family know about your blog?

Some do yes.

3) Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog?

Nah. Funny is that most of them don't read it. I actually am more embarrassed to know that some of my family reads this.

4) Did blogging cause positive changes in your thoughts?

Interesting question. Blogging hasn't changed my opinion on much other than the fact that any useless writer can be quoted by the legitimate press (Yeah I still can't get over that).

Blogging, and of course reading blogs, have changed my opinion on the power of the written word and it's affect on our ever changing media. For good or for ill we simple folk do have influence amongst millions simply by hitting the "publish post" button. While my blog is not powerful by any means, nor do I intend it to be, I do think people should understand the possible consequences of soliciting your opinions.

5) Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or do you love to go and discover more by yourself?

I visit a log of blogs that have nothing to do with mine, although I do make an effort to visit those who comment on my posts, all two of them.

6) What does a visitor counter mean to you? Do you like having one on your blog?

I find having a counter is hilarious. It's always funny to see how people come across my blog, especially those who google search for porn or boobies. Poor disapointed souls they are.

7) Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?

Every blogger on my blog roll is hot. The women look like circa 1950s pin up models and the guys are blessed with adonis like builds.

Actually I don't know what most of them look like, but still I imagine that all of them are drop dead gorgeous. I'm pretty shallow.

For a long time I didn't post a picture of myself, until recently. The mystery that is what I look like is over.

8) Admit it. Do you think there is any real benefit in blogging?

Blogging hasn't made me a better person if that's what your asking, but it has been cathartic at times when I post about something I feel passionatley about. The only benefit I can claim is that thirty years from now I can look at this and get to know the man that I once was.

9) Do you think that blogger's society is isolated from the real world or interaction with events?

I don't think so. If we didn't interact there would be almost nothing to post about, or at least the content would be so dry there would be nothing to add to someone's thoughts or opinions. It takes real world experience for real insight.

10) Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it's a normal thing?

Criticism is always healthy such as the time someone called me a 'closet fag'.

11) Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?

I get political sometimes on my blog and no I don't fear myself. In fact most of the blogs I read are about politics, whether I agree or disagree with them. It's interesting to hear how widespread the opinion of others can be on any topic however banal they may be.

12) Were you shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?

I have no idea what you are referring to. If you're talking about people posting about conspiracy to commit a crime, well I'm not that shocked. Yeah I'm surprised people are that dumb, but then again I shouldn't be.

13) What do you think will happen to your blog after you die?

Nothing really. I'm sure the people who read this who don't know me in real life will wonder what happened to me. Then again they may just delete me from their browser favorites and be done with it.

14) What song do you like to hear? What song would you like to link to on your blog?

There are so many songs I like to hear, but I'll never link any of them to my blog. This is Blogger, not MySpace.

15) The next victims?

Ehh nobody in particular. Enjoy it.

Sep 23, 2006

Bad movies I love part 14.

I really can't think of why I haven't posted about this movie already. The Karate Kid is really one of those terrible films that strikes a chord in all who've seen it, especially at a tender age.

I still remember watching it in the theatre with my dad. I marveled at the wisdom of the good Mr Miyagi and drooled over the uber hot Elizabeth Shue. I didn't care how much you had to stretch your imagination to believe this simple albeit touching story of a geeky kid who whoops ass on his tormentors, the Karate Kid was the movie to cherish for every young boy.

The Karate Kid is formulaic, corny, and simple, but you simply don't care. The crane kicking wuss made you cheer and yes even you wanted to plant your fist across the evil Johnny's nose. You were sold on the premise alone and really is that such a bad thing? It was after all entertaining and I for one salute the film for not being pretentious. It's a simple sports film centered around the martial arts and there's hardly anything to find offensive about this, unlike many movies in that genre.

Now watching it as an adult you laugh at the ridiculous Cobra-Kai dojo and it's absurd sensei. And yes you really have to turn your brain off to believe that any of the beat downs Daniel suffered would've likely cost him an organ in real life, but every time you hear the line 'sweep the leg' chills hit your spine.

Don't deny your love for this film, embrace it. For those that turn their noses at this review tell me the song below doesn't touch your cold black heart.

I need to switch gears and post about an overrated film soon. Any ideas? Matt?

"Formulaic, manipulative, hokey....and thoroughly rousing.....the film's sincerity and poignance have a way of steamrolling over gaps in plausibility and logic." - Steven D. Greydanus

Sep 22, 2006

We fail ourselves.

I was reading an interesting article by Sam Harris, an unapologetic liberal and critic of any and all religions, who wrote about the American and European lefts' disconnect from reality when facing the issue of terrorism and Islamic principles. Nothing is more interesting to me than to see a reasoned analysis of a political ideology made by someone who prescribes to a lot of their beliefs. I suggest you read it if you have any interest in the politics of our current global struggles.

I'm going to take his hypothesis a step further. Even though Harris is targeting liberals, and often times rightfully so, I think the reasons for this can be more simple then what most would expect.

I often discuss politics and religion amongst friends. Some people are uncomfortable talking about these, but most people I acquaint myself with converse about these topics freely and honestly. On some occasions a friend of a friend will show up and throw their two bits in if not add good insight into the dialogue. There is a trend I see though when people discuss religion that I think most of you encounter.

Whenever I ask someone if they believe Islam is a religion of peace most will say yes they believe it to be a respectful and enlightened faith. If I either play devil's advocate or cite a Koran teaching that would lead someone to think otherwise I often get a response along the lines of 'well the Bible has genocide'.

Yes this is true. There are instances in the Old Testament as well as the New that wouldn't paint Christianity in the most positive of light. That being said I don't know what that has to do with Islam being a faith of love and respect. It's almost a knee jerk reaction for some to point out the misdeeds of others rather than explain the pillars of a faith they don't understand.

I question most people in my personal life who are quick to critique or praise the Koran and/or the Bible if they've ever read either. Most have not. This is fascinating to me. Here we are supposed to be living in the age of reason where research is paramount to fact, but most people will be quick to convince themselves and others that they are scholars about books they've never read.

I'll make the simplest analogy I can. I often write about movies. If I posted an arrogant rant about a film only to conclude the rambling with a statement that I've never seen it you'd question my ability to properly critique it, if not my sanity or character.

Now why do people feel compelled to stand up for the faith of Islam while denouncing the actions of a few of their followers even though their illiterate of the Koran? The answer to me is easy. It's romantic to do so.

A good hearted individual feels compelled sometimes to stand up for the underdog at all costs and right now Arab Americans are being subject to acts of prejudice. It would be nice to sit and view Islam as a good natured faith while condemning those who bastardize it's philosophy. We feel like better people when we fight, albeit only through words, for the poor huddled masses that are oppressed by simple minded folk who'd rather judge people by stereotypes rather than the individuals actions or thoughts. I sometimes have a God complex and therefore I can understand such feelings of being a soundbyte hero for those who've been trampled through no fault of their own.

The point is most people of the west don't get Islam, nor do they want to. Every American agrees terrorists are our enemy, but rather than have to pick up a book and try to figure out why the faith of Mohammed is binding most Middle Eastern and Asian terrorist organizations they'd rather marginalize the enemy into simpletons who know no better. Similar to how we view the KKK and NAMBLA we'd rather sit here and pass laws and denounce the followers of Osama as fringe elements then we tune into our televisions and would rather forget about it.

These terrorists are not the rednecks of their region. They're educated, professional, and dedicated to the ideal of impressing a supreme being. Martyrdom and jihad are their weapons, innocents are their prey and shields, and no one is safe if we continue to underestimate what they're capable of.

I implore you to educate yourself not only about Islam, but Christianity and other major faiths as well. They are a driving force in our global politics and to dismiss them as otherwise is dangerously naive.

"Wishful thinking about Islam also runs up against the Koran itself, which shows that Islam offers peace at times but (under defined conditions) gives its adherents a license to kill." - Marvin Olasky

Head-in-the-Sand Liberals

Sep 21, 2006

Sissy little prunes.

In my early twenties I lived in a house not to far from the local college with three other people. Two houses down a few friends of mine rented a house and there was yet another home occupied by pals.

Good times were had by all who occupied that street. It was an eclectic group of characters who partied often and fun was had every weekend.

There were four Johns who lived in the various houses. Every John had a nickname to distinguish himself from the rest. The house I was staying at was occupied by one who we called 'Drunk Canadian John'.

Drunk Canadian John was indeed from the country to the north. Hailing from Montreal he exuded a lot of Canadian stereotypes for Americans who've never visited our neighbors. He had a strong build, blonde hair, a tooth missing as the result of a hockey stick, and he loved bad beer. If you ever insulted the quality of his beverage of choice he almost took it personally.

They say stereotypes are based on truths; however I've been across the border many times and I've never met anyone the likes of John.

When I first met John one of the first things he said to me was "I have a lot of bad habits." He wasn't lying.

John was indeed a functional alcoholic. Every night he would buy a case of Kokanee and pound as many as humanly possible until bedtime. When it came time for shut eye John would go out to the porch and light up a bowl. After he was done he would put a dip of chewing tobacco in his lip and then go to bed.

It doesn't stop there.

John would wake up and pour vodka into a flask and nip on it throughout his day at school. When he got home he would then repeat his Kokanee spree. When John was short on cash he would replace the case of beer with boxed wine.

I'm not exaggerating folks. John was a man who didn't have ulcers. He had holes in his stomach.

The funny thing about John was you rarely could tell if he was drunk or not. He never slurred his speech and his motor skills never seemed to suffer. The only way you really could know if John was wasted is that he became loose lipped. For a man who seemed to value political correctness as a fascist ideology things could and often did go awry in social situations.

There are many stories to be told about the man with a cast iron liver, but one always sticks in my brain even after these many years.

Shannon was another roommate of mine. She was an angry girl who fancied herself a mystic of sorts. She would read people with the aid of Tarot cards, believed in spirit guides, and took a keen interest in the paranormal. Shannon also hated men and wore that fact like a badge. Even though she had a strong dislike for the opposite gender she couldn't stop sleeping with them.

One night I'm sitting in the living room watching the news. Shannon bursts into the house and collapses on a chair. Sensing she needed someone to talk to I asked her what was wrong.

"I was at a gas station and two redneck guys hit on me," she said. "I didn't respond at all to them and then they have the gall to get pissed."

She was really upset by this and proceeded to tell stories of how so many men have hit on her and made her feel scared and/or helpless. Since I couldn't relate I imagine I didn't have the best things to say, but I tried to console her.

This went on for a half hour. She would tell a tale of a guy who tried to pick her up and I would sit and nod my head and try to apologize for all men. She didn't buy that all men aren't scum.

Dr Phil I am not.

The living room door flew open and there stood John with a half empty bottle of vodka.

"You know girls don't put out in this town," he yelled. "They're a bunch of sissy little prunes."

I looked at Shannon in horror as John plopped on the couch. He had more to say on this subject.

"When I lived in Montreal I used to get laid," he exclaimed. "I used to get laid no problem. All the time in fact, but girls here they should be putting out more."

He went on to paint a picture of how Montreal was occupied by women who looked like Playmates and got naked on a frequent basis. Shannon nodded her head and smiled wryly at him as he went on about his Canadian conquests.

Enter my other roommate Joe. Joe is a smart fellow with liberal values who at times felt compelled to speak out for the underdog. When he sat in the living room and listened to John's speech of how girls in that town should feel obligated to sleep with men less attractive then they are Joe decided to make his opinion known.

"Yeah," he cried. "I don't get any either."

Shannon got up and announced she was going to bed. I went outside and tried to comprehend the absurdity of the situation that just unfolded. The timing of the incident was like something out of a bad sitcom.

I never did take that road trip to Montreal that Joe and I had planned.

"The Canadian spirit is cautious, observant and critical where the American is assertive." - V. S. Pritchett

Sep 20, 2006

Not as happy as I.

Sorry I've been such a downer in my previous posts. I will now switch gears to a topic near and dear to my heart, Scarlett Johansson.

Yes my favorite celebrity crush has something important to say and that is she's happy with the way she looks.

"I'm curvy," she says. "I'm never going to be 5'11' and 120 pounds. But I feel lucky to have what I've got."

I for one don't want her to change at all. Let me take that back. If she did suddenly decide to become my Christmas present where I get to spend a week with her as she's dressed in a Wonder Woman outfit I would accept her departure from Hollywood graciously. After all who am I to impede on a woman's' choice?

This useless celebrity gossip brought to you by the letters u-n-i-n-s-p-i-r-e-d.

"I said, 'Women don't normally sleep in a bra. I can't wake up in this scene wearing a bra, it's ridiculous,'" - Scarlett Johansson

Johansson happy with her curvy figure

Sep 19, 2006


The last few days have sucked. Sucked hard.

I look around at all the vultures who make money off our celebrity voyerism and I see our deep rooted commitment to ridiculous amounts of cash and attention to things that don't matter. What's worse is I'm no different really.

I remember having a conversation with a group of friends about the difference between sports fanatics and Trekkies. At the end of debating the subject everyone came to the same conclusion, there is no difference. Some dress in ridiculous outfits, all are under the impression that their vision has a real bearing on the direction of their idol, and most can attest to neglecting some part of their lives to devote more time and energy then necessary to a ball game/television show.

The reality of the perceived gap between lovers of all Roddenberry and people who truly believe that yelling will impact the way a professional plays a game is that the former are geeks and the latter are jocks. Why this is I don't know, nor do I really care honestly.

All are guilty though of neglecting time away from loved ones to worship at the altar of their fandom and I learned this weekend that time and money can be better directed towards the people that love you. Whether I actually put it into practice remains to be seen.

There are some that use their favorite entertainment to connect with people and to them I salute you.

Maybe I'm just rambling because I still can't get over the loss of Kevin and how I never told him how much he meant to me. If only I had spent more time with him.

I want my friend back.

"I've often reflected on this in the past weeks as I've been following the presidential campaign: Very often, I thought it would have been great for both of these guys to sit down and be force-fed a couple of dozen episodes of Star Trek." - Patrick Stewart

Sep 13, 2006

Bad movies I love part 13.

Thanks to all who commented on my last post. The past 48 hours have been a roller coaster of emotions concerning the loss of my pal, but reading your kind words have been extremely helpful.

With a service for Kevin coming up I'm taking some time to leave town and attend the event as well as catch up with some mutual friends that I've lost touch with. It's times like these where you realize how time is critical and I need to get some face time with people.

Consequently I won't be posting for a few days; however to tie you over I leave you dear readers with another bad movie that I love.

I was 16 and just started dating my high school sweetheart. She recommended we go see 'Career Opportunities' to which I thought was a terrible idea, but it was early in the relationship and I did not protest. Plus she was really hot. I mean so hot that she shouldn't have been dating a guy who looks like me in the first place. She was young and thankfully didn't know any better.

I remember walking into the theatre and seeing a standee for the film. On it showed Jennifer Connelly sitting atop a moving rocking horse wearing tight black pants and a wife beater. I thought to myself that this could be something I would enjoy.

I underestimated how much I would find this a guilty pleasure. The movie stars Frank Whaley as a self obsessed slacker who lands a job as a graveyard janitor for a local Target. His boss locks him in the store to perform his duties. Later on in the night he comes across Jennifer Connelly who plays a spoiled rich girl trying to shoplift from the department store. Apparently she hid out in the dressing room long enough to be stuck with Frank for the night.

Frank and Jennifer were once high school classmates. One being the nerd the other being the princess. Upon there adventures in consumer land the unlikely pair find themselves drawn to each other. Of course they come across bumbling burglars and hijinks ensue.

I really enjoyed this film. For a John Hughes penned movie the dialogue fealt real enough as well as the chemistry between the two leads. Every young male teen had that seemingly unobtainable crush and this film pulled at our heartstrings and made us root for Whaley.

Then of course there's Jennifer Connelly. When the two decided to roller skate around Target with her sporting that white tank top I instantly made a declaration, albeit silently considering my girlfriend was sitting next to me. The adolescent fantasy torch had firmly been passed from Natalie Wood to Grace Kelly to Alyssa Milano and now unto the wondrous Jennifer Connelly. From then on I worshiped at the altar of Jennifer. That is until she lost all that weight.

My girlfriend and I left the theatre and for a while neither of us asked what each other thought. I think she was afraid to hear my answer. Finally I asked her how she liked the film.

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "She just ran around showing off her boobs."

"Yeah," I replied. "She certainly di...I mean that's terrible."

I was on the receiving end of a quick jab to the arm. I don't think I even got a kiss goodnight that evening, but watching that film was all worth it.

"Paper-thin premise entertains thanks to a game Whaley and a luminous Connelly." - Scott Weinberg

Sep 12, 2006

Goodbye my friend.

A few hours ago my friend's brother Jimmy called with terrible news. My buddy Kevin passed away this weekend.

I met my friend at a job years ago. He used to read a lot in the break room sitting by himself and not really socializing. I sat across from him one day and asked him about the book he was reading. From then on a friendship ensued.

Kevin stood out because of his mannerisms. He talked slow and walked with a large limp as the result of a car accident that gave him extreme brain trauma and a shattered hip. Daily life could be a chore for him, but instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself he made a concerted effort to live a normal life as much as humanly possible. He worked, went to the gym, he went out, he laughed with us, and partied with us.

He may have been disabled, but he had strength that most of us could only wish for. His humor and his thirst for knowledge always kept him trying to conquer his disability, but it wasn't his handicap that I'll remember him for.

I don't know what he saw in me as a friend, but for years to come I can only wish that I touched his life as much as his touched mine. I'd like to think that now he's found some true sense of happiness, some that we all wish we can achieve.

He was a brother, an uncle, a son, and my friend. As the sun set on his life I do pray that he could look back and say it was a good one because of the people that loved him.

Goodbye Kev. You will be missed.

"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time." - Mark Twain

They did it.

I seem to be jumping the bandwagon of bloggers who are posting about the fifth anniversary of 9/11, but I figured it would be nice to write down my thoughts if only for myself. The remembrance of that day is slowly going fuzzier with age and I pray I won't forget the feeling that the events brought me.

I was in my normal before work routine of eating breakfast. I flipped on the news and I saw the billowing smoke coming from the World Trade Center. My then girlfriend came out of the room and I looked at her.

"They did it," I proclaimed. "They finally did it."

"Did what?" she asked.

"Terrorists struck two planes into the World Trade Center. We're under attack."

She didn't say anything. She looked at the television and watched with confusion.

It took me forever to realize why my first words were 'they did it, they finally did it.' I then recalled a conversation back in the late 90s with my friends Corey and Joe. We discussed one of our most loved political subjects and that is Israel. The conversation then went into terrorism and unto Osama Bin Laden. We were unsure at the time if Osama was a real threat, but all of us agreed that soon terrorism would be at our front door steps and it would be larger than the embassy and USS Cole combined.

We had no idea just how massive it would become.

The phone range. It was Corey.

"Hey are you watching the news?" he said.

"Yeah," I replied.

"The shit is going down," he observed.

"It sure is," I said. "I'm going to call the folks. They don't have television."

"Tell em I said hi."

"Will do. I'll be online soon. If I hear any more news I'll send it to you."

"Same here."

I called the folks and updated them on what I knew at the time. Mom tried to make some reasonable explanation about why our country was under attack, inciting what she believes is our country's lack of godliness.

I was annoyed. Here I was calling her about a terrible situation and she had to go Pat Robertson on me. I could've have asked why Amsterdam gets a free pass, but really I didn't want to argue and just let it go. People all have their way of coping with tragedy and I just as well let her have her's.

I left for work shortly thereafter. I was tuned into the radio when the news announced the first tower collapsed. After I got to work the second tower then plunged to the earth taking numerous lives with them.

I got inside the building and people were talking over each other about what just happened. I sat at my cube and was being bombarded by IMs with news about the Pentagon and Flight 93. My inbox was flooded from friends I haven't heard from in years wondering what my thoughts were on the whole mess.

As one could imagine the phone volume was really dead that day. Then after being at my cube for hours without a call the phone rang. It was a customer who was having trouble with her word processing software. She was angry about her support options and hung up on me. I wasn't all that polite given what was going on and she took the time to call in and bitch about typing a letter.

Since it was so slow my boss let a few of us go home early. I came home and sat on the couch, eyes being glued to the tv. My then girlfriend came home, said nothing, sat on the couch beside me, and rested her head on my shoulder. I threw my arms around her and we sat in silence for what felt like forever watching the terrible tragedy unfold before us.

Five years later I think about this eternal conflict of a fearful empire clashing with civilizations that can't seem to bring themselves out of the 7th century. I could go on about the politics and war that has been brought and my analysis on it, but this day I choose to remember one thing about 9/11 and that being my first words when I comprehended what was going on.

"They did it. They finally did it."

"After 9-11 there was a body of literature from people like Baudrillard and Chomksy who wrote very eloquently about what the hell was going on, but they didn't pitch a solution." - Ben Nicholson

Sep 8, 2006

Wiwille is revealed!

A few months ago I posted about Andrew's bachelor party as well as his wedding. Well now you dear readers can see evidence of it. Kyle and Shelby recently sent me a disk with over 650 images of the wedding and bachelor party.

It was such a great event that I had to share the good times and cool images. I've never seen Andrew happier and it's truly one of the proudest moments of my life to be present there.

Now you will all see images of the man behind Erik's Ramblings. Sorry about my face.

Kyle, me, and Jason horsing around with the hotel luggage cart.

The Dark Lord of the Sith makes an appearance at the bachelor party.

The bachelor getting his drink on in the limo.

Everyone wants to look good in a wedding. This poor little 16 year old had to walk with that dumb fat bastard though...wait that's me?

Shelby and I.

Kyle, Jason, me, and James holding up the bride for a photo op.

Me, Jason, and that poor little 16 year old.

The lovely bride striking a pose.

The happy couple.

Aww how cute.

Sep 7, 2006

Get over it.

Years ago Oliver Stone released 'Nixon', a biopic on one of our country's most controversial, and corrupt, presidents. Before the movie opened critics on the right slammed Stone's portrayal of Nixon claiming that the film was a myth and that most of the conversations and plot devices never happened. The left, as well as fans of the film with no particular bias, dismissed the critics citing that it was only Oliver Stone's opinion and that dramatizations should never be viewed as historical record.

Me I enjoyed the movie regardless of it's bias and I'm a huge critic of that administration. The acting was great and the rest of the elements was crafted well, but I too believe the events were embellished for dramatic and possible political purposes. Like most people I looked at the film as art and not as a textbook.

The tables have now been turned and I do find it amusing. ABC is set to release a miniseries entitled 'The Path to 9/11' which dramatizes the events that lead up to the terrorist attacks. Critics now on the left are bashing the screenwriters portrayal of the Clinton administration which has him appearing as less than diligent in capturing Osama after the USS Cole attack.

Web sites such as Crooks & Liars, a blog I enjoy, have gone out of their way to call for a boycott of Disney, ABC's parent company, for producing a feature that doesn't entirely fit the historical record. Many people are quick to defend the good name of Clinton and they see this television series as a serious threat to their savior.

Maybe people are lashing out about this miniseries in response to CBS pulling their Reagan miniseries, which I hear was not a flattering portrait of the intellectual midget.

It's a dramatization people. It's not history. The miniseries sole purpose is to entertain and sell products and not to give an accurate portrayal of events. Clinton's name will not be forever tarnished by this miniseries alone. Will peoples' opinions be swayed by this? Hard to say really, but I'm not going to hold Hollywood accountable for the public's ignorance.

Davey Crockett did not die at the Alamo gloriously in battle, Houdini did not perish because of a failed stunt, and Forrest Gump did not alert the police about the Watergate break in. For anyone of you who believe Forrest Gump actually existed I have some money that's tied up in Nigeria for you.

Would it be nice if all Hollywood producers were good and honest human beings who don't have political biases and are not too busy to keep their noses out of the coked laced cleavage of hookers long enough to bring you quality entertainment without sacrificing the possible good names of our elected leaders?

Yeah that would be nice. It would be even nicer if I were a super spy who fought ninjas for a living. I don't know what that has to do with my point, but being a super spy would be way cool. Oh and lap dances from Salma Hayek.

"I am not trying to be a historian and a dramatist; I'm a dramatist, a dramatic historian, or one who does a dramatic interpretation of history." - Oliver Stone

Sep 6, 2006

Ass kickery did ensue.

Call me a barbaric beer swilling simpleton all you want, but there's nothing I find more amusing than to see some jackass get their comeuppance. In this story there was not one, but three teens who found themselves on the receiving end of a martial artist's limbs.

Three teenagers in Hamburg Germany allegedly cornered a another teenager, Pauli Borchardt, demanding that he relinquish his cell phone. After Pauli refused the teens decided to try and rough him up a bit. What they failed to realize is that their outnumbered opponent is a student of the martial arts and completely wiped the floor with all three of them.

When the beaten thugs were found they told some story that Pauli lead a gang of bat wielding maniacs that attacked them. When police further questioned everyone they concluded that the would be muggers were not victims and now are investigating them on attempted robbery.

Glorious. Stories like this really brighten my day. I also love reading about burglars that get their ass whooped by the elderly.

Yeah go ahead and label me as an uncultured violence loving freak while you sit there and tune into 'America's Got Talent'.

"Don't hit at all if it's honorably possible to avoid hitting, but never hit soft." - Theodore Roosevelt

Muggers pick wrong victim

Sep 5, 2006

Cops, football, and weddings.

This labor day weekend was indeed a packed one filled with fun, excitement, and high emotion.

After working 10 hours Friday night I picked up the Pretty Girl and we headed out to the small town of Hermiston for a wedding. After the four hour drive we made it to the hotel and I contemplated staying there and sleeping, but as the trooper that I am I decided to attend the blessed event.

Luckily there were some friends staying at the same hotel and gave us a ride to the church for the ceremony. The wedding was absolutely beautiful. As a former wedding photographer I've been to over 200 weddings and this one will stand out as one of the best.

After the ceremony the couple had the great idea of hiring a short bus that drove us from the hotel to the reception site. It was held at the bride's parent's home and was beautifully decorated and months must have been spent on the landscaping. It was outdoors complete with a dance floor, good food, and a beer truck that had taps on the side of the vehicle. Yes you could just go up and pour yourself a cold beer right from the truck itself. Brilliant idea.

The wine flowed and and the music played and I even stayed awake for over 30 hours to enjoy it. Finally we retired back to the hotel under the escort of the short bus. First time I ever ridden in one. Really. No I'm serious. I don't write this bad because I'm retarded, just lazy.

The next day was followed by a short brunch and the Jiggaman, Russ, the Pretty Girl, and I headed out in separate cars to Kennewick to eat at Carl's Jr. First time for me and I will say it was a tasty six dollar burger.

On the way back home the Jiggaman and I drove like there was no tomorrow. We were given the finger a few times, cut off by a minivan, and I made people nervous with my Andretti impression. We finally slowed down and the Jiggaman and Russ pulled off into a rest stop and I kept on my merry way.

About a half hour from home Russ, who was driving while the Jiggaman slept, pulled by us going at least 85 mph. I marveled at how they caught up with us. He kept pulling away from us until he was finally out of site.

A few miles later I saw him on the side of the road after being pulled over by a cop. Doh! I later found out he received a ticket for going 82 mph in a 70 mph zone. Poor guy.

Labor day was a glorious one as I attended my fantasy football draft. Corey describes fantasy football draft as being just like Christmas and I have to agree. Emotions ran high before it even started as Paul and Kyle argued about something that I wasn't even paying attention to. Regardless the draft went really well and I put up an impressive roster for this season. Hopefully all will go well this year.

Later that evening the Pretty Girl had a cookout and it was fun. After everyone left my lack of sleep really started to catch up with me and I started to feel ill, but it was all worth it.

Sep 1, 2006

Next time you go there die!

David Warren, writer for the Ottawa Citizen, has some interesting, if not misguided, views on the capture and release of the Fox News journalists held hostage by Islamic radicals. In his recent entry for the paper, entitled 'Doing the Enemy's Work', Warren criticizes the journalist for being pansies during their captivity. He expected a little more from the reporters apparently and berates them for being cowards, or "men without chests" (doesn't that sound like an 80s band?). This is what he had to say:

"The degree to which our starch is awash is exhibited in the behavior of so many of our captives, but especially in these two. They were told to convert to Islam under implicit threat (blindfolded and hand-tied, they could not judge what threat), and agreed to make the propaganda broadcasts to guarantee their own safety. That much we can understand, as conventional cowardice. (Understand; not forgive.) But it is obvious from their later statements that they never thought twice; that they could see nothing wrong in serving the enemy, so long as it meant they'd be safe.

I assume they are not Christians (few journalists are), but had they ever been instructed in that faith, they might have grasped that conversion to Islam means denial of Christ, and that is something many millions of Christians (few of them intellectuals) have refused to do, even at the cost of excruciating deaths. Christianity still lives, because of such martyrs. Not suicide bombers: but truly defenseless martyrs....

Two years ago, an heroic Italian captive, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, asked to make whimpering statements as part of the video of his execution in Iraq, ripped at his hood and instead declared, "This is how an Italian dies!" to his contemptible captors. He must have upset them: for they shot him instead of sawing off his head. In making his stand for human dignity, he also turned one of their propaganda videos, into one of ours.

But Quattrocchi had three friends, who all successfully begged for their lives. And the two Fox journalists, whom I will not stoop to name, begged for their lives even though, in retrospect, their lives probably weren't in danger." I really don't know where to begin with this, but try as I might I'll make some rebuttal in defense of people I've never met.

First off it's hard for me to consider journalists who enter a war zone under the implicit threat of capture and possible death cowards. They know what dangers they are facing to do their jobs and they do so willingly. They are not under the threat of imprisonment for not doing so.

It's easy to sit back under the comforts provided by the west and critique the behavior of those held in captivity by madmen, but really who are we to do so? Unless you've been held against your will by people with a mindset that's wedged permanently in the 3rd century we have no idea how we would react. Would we disavow or faith, family, country, and/or masculinity to survive?

I have no earthly idea what I would do nor do I think Warren does. Really I'd like to think if I were in that situation I would rip off my shirt, exposing my hairy barrel chest, and disarm them terrorists in a fashion that would make Chuck Norris proud. I would follow that heroic display by beating the terrorists with the butt of a rifle so hard they would curse their mother for giving them birth, or make them watch reruns of 'Saved by the Bell', or better yet make them draw images of their prophet using Crayola crayons. That'll teach em.

That scenario is not likely to happen, but I do think about the Italian and what exactly he accomplished. Yes he died with dignity and yes his story must be told, but did his actions speak as a rallying cry for the west to stand up for the west at all costs? Will people really follow his lead? How effective was his point embraced by the west? Have any of you even heard of this guy?

I do applaud the Italian for what he did. If anything I hope he sent a message to the followers of the Religion of Peace that our values are worth dying for as well and we don't send our youth to blow themselves up in a bus full of children and the elderly to make that point. Yes our nation and culture has it's numerous flaws, but the difference is our citizens have the power to change that and ideally act civilized while doing so.

Okay back to Warren..

He does go on to make some points I agree with in his writing which is interesting. One of them really struck me:

"I created a scene with a column, many years ago, when I wrote about the young men in the corridors of the University of Montreal, who stood by and watched while Gamil Garbi (alias Marc LÃpine) shot fourteen women to death. To a man (if you could call them men), they explained afterwards, "We couldn't do anything, he had a gun." As I pointed out at the time, we have bred young men who will stand by and watch a psychopath shoot defenselesss women, so long as he assures them he will not shoot them."

He's right in the fact that we are raising our children to act defeneslesss in harrowing situations. I had many a school administrator tell me that if I or a friend was being attacked that I must first run to a teacher rather than strike back. If I did react to violence with violence I was still in trouble. Like most boys I, under the instructions of my parents, never followed the educators' scenarios that were designed to cover their ass from a lawsuit. I don't believe the school's policy has changed since then.

We are not taught to defend ourselves then how are we going to stand tall for others, or even an ideal? If the idea that all violence is bad in all situations becomes the status quo then how do you expect people to react?

Let me stray off topic here and point out that because we'd rather raise a nation of people who'd rather entrust their immediate safety to authorities rather than learning and applying the art of self defense I must say to all women that you should carry mace and learn the martial arts. A cop will not be there to defend you from attack nor can you rely on men's chivalry for it is truly dying. Speaking for all who have a penis I apologize, but the cold reality is that you're on your own.

Okay back again to Warren...

I'm glad the Fox journalists are back and safe. They may have put on a facade of embracing Islam to save themselves from being decapitated, but I will not fault them for that and I will not ask them to fight for me. They are journalists and shouldn't be expected anything more than to stay alive and write the story.

The real problem I have with David Warren is that he demands that all westerners do his fighting for him, to embrace the same ideals and die for them. It's a fantasy that's almost impossible in a free society.

Okay I'm off my high horse. Damn this is a long post.

Amazing how I can agree and disagree so whole heartedly with David Warren's thoughts.

"I have also thrice been in circumstances in which I felt certain that I would die: once rock-climbing, once from a bursting appendix, & once when I was attacked by a man with a knife in eastern Turkey." - David Warren.

Bad movies I love part 12.

I saw 'Romancing the Stone' when I was a young one and like most boys I was taken with the adventurous nature of the story. I recently revisited the film and found myself still enjoying it even in my old cynical shell.

Kathleen Turner plays a pulp romance novelist who travels to South America to free her sister from a kidnappers. The abductors demand that Kathleen provide them with a treasure map as ransom. Things go wrong for her right off the bat as her bus breaks down. Cue the scruffy loner hero/love interest Michael Douglas who agrees to escort her through the jungle and later to find her sister. Gunfire, a treasure hunt, and love making ensue.

It's not high brow cinema by any means, but 'Romancing the Stone' does deliver a solid action adventure. It has all the elements one can expect from something of this genre. Over-the-top, almost cartoonish, villains and sidekicks alike provide most of the comic relief as the leads display a fair amount of chemistry. Similar films are full of cliches, but it's refreshing to see this one rise above most them and give the audiences a convincing romance, funny characters, and action that is relatively believable.

Given the box office success of 'Romancing the Stone' the producers decided it would be a great idea to make the abysmal sequel 'Jewel of the Nile'. I don't have to tell you Hollywood is not above making poor quality sequels, but it's surprising given how much the first film got everything audiences want in an action film right. You would think that they could carry the charm of the first film into the second, but as George Lucas taught us that's not always necessary to make a hit.

This film is not 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', although one could argue the acting is better, but it's sense of fun is similar. Sometimes you need a mindless escape for your movie watching needs and this one is surprisingly above par. Given the genre is so packed with so many ridiculous films 'Romancing the Stone' does the seemingly impossible task of not insulting your intelligence while you pick popcorn out of your teeth.

"Stone hit a nerve with both feminists (riding the high point of that movement's wave) and movie fans simply looking for a good time. Its combination of romance and adventure (and a bit of comedy) was spot-on, and few films that have arrived since have captured Stone's enthusiasm and good-naturedness." - Christopher Null