Kudos to SNL

SNL opened with a parody of the recent Bin Laden video. In the parody, Bin Laden stated that he was having trouble deciding on a candidate for which to vote (although he’d been approached by both campaigns trying to get him to root for the other guy), stated his desire for health care (hey, when you’re only staying two nights in a row in a cave before moving and you need diyalasis …), confessed how much he would like to beat Teresa Heinz Kerry, and then began ranting on the evils of American culture …

… in specific, lip-synching pop actresses, on supposedly “live” shows. “Evil, just evil!”

Hilarious. Good job, SNL. :)

So he isn't dead!

Bin Laden, I mean.

“Although we are ushering the fourth year after 9/11, Bush is still exercising confusion and misleading you and not telling you the true reason. Therefore, the motivations are still there for what happened to be repeated,” bin Laden said.

Y’know, its really bad when the most vile terrorist on the planet is telling people that Bush is incompetent. Well – duh! If Bush was competent and hadn’t used Bin Laden’s terrorist attack and murder of 3,000 innocent people to drag us into an uneccesary way in Iraq, then Bin Laden would be dead and wouldn’t be telling his buddies in the caves of Torah Borra, “Look, man, I’d love to kill more Americans, but I just have the urge to tell ‘em that their President is misleadin’ ‘em! Man, I just GOT to!”

Fuck you Bin Laden.

You're a thief too, yes you are.

The Right likes to crow about how the “Demonrats” are always stealing, or trying to steal, the election. The Right likes to do lots of things generally in keeping with the long standing tradition of villifying the Left. On one hand, bad them! On the other hand, the Left likes to do the same right back at ‘em.

Now, if you surf over to a partisan republican site, you’ll most likely find some Right-wing cheerleader screaming about how morally corrupt the Left is, and, oh! what about the Democrats of yesterday, of whom Zell Miller is the only remaining of that distinguished breed. With one breath, they praise Roosevelt and Truman, while behind closed doors they curse them as ‘communist sympathizers’ and ‘left-wing whackos.’

Well, y’know, fine. If certain Republicans are too intellectually dishonest to see the bad apples on the right, that’s their business. And to the bad apples on the left — throwing pies at Ann Coulter? Trying to run over Katherine Harris? Give me a fucking break — yes, we do see you, and we don’t like you.

But don’t believe the Republican spin on stealing elections. Republicans are well versed in how to do it, no matter how they cry innocence. Hell, over at Right Thinking, I responded to a Wingnut by reminding him that Nixon was famous for trying to rig an election. His response was that Nixon was justified because of what had happened in ’60. Okaaaay.

Anyway, the whole point of this is that you should scoot over to NewDonkey.com. An interesting article on some of the tactics certain election thieves have decided to take. Hint: they aren’t Democrats (or Demonrats as some morons would call them).

A federal judge in Columbus blocked Republican efforts to force county election boards to review tens of thousands of new voter registrations. Before the ink was dry on the judge’s order, the Ohio GOP’s top lawyer said the action meant the GOP would challenge such voters at the polls on November 2. “We wanted to have all these questions resolved this week,” said attorney Mark Weaver. “Now they won’t be resolved until Tuesday, when all of these people are trying to vote. It can’t help but create chaos, longer lines and frustration.”

Fuck that curse!

THE RED SOX SWEEP THE WORLD SERIES!

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Eighty-six years, and it is ALL worth it! Hell yes! Go Boston!

In a somber moment: Vanessa Snelgrave, so many people are so very sad that you aren’t alive to witness this day. I think it is safe to say this series is dedicated to your memory.

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Ah Frayed mah Clutch!

And is it surprising? I put like 30k miles on my car a year, and I’m not easy on it. I don’t care so much if the car is banged and scratched up as much as I care that it runs well and is in good shape.

Over the past week, I had some acceleration issues. Heading up York Road into Loveton (quite hilly) I’d have to drop into 3rd gear and floor it just to maintain a 30mph cruising speed. It used to be I could hit that road in 5th gear and take it up 60mph to the top!

As silly as it sounds, I thought that the new tires might have been the problem – they have a bit more traction to ‘em than the sports tires I usually get. I took the vehicle into Jiffy Lube yesterday, and got quite a bit of fluids and hoses swaped and fixed and all that good stuff. When the guy pulled my car around front, he told me the problem might’ve been a plate in the transmission. Oy, I thought.

I took the car in to the shop today – and, yep, the clutch. Gone. Well, not yet, but certainly on the way to going, going, gone! Joy, huh? The repair estimate was also steep – what would Tony Soprano call it? A box of zuccini? $1025. Ouch. Ouch. OUCH!

This really sucks because this month I paid off a credit card and had a second card in the line of fire to get zapped. Well, that second card isn’t going to be paid off next month anymore.

Debt really sucks. Trying to get out debt sucks a lot harder, though.

Also: I can’t remember if I left my outgoing bills in my car or not. DOH!

Freedom of Religion

A lot of people today seem to fail to understand the meaning of the word “freedom.” Wingnuts (that’s blogish for “right-wing nut case”) rant about “freedom isn’t free” while at the same time they rally support for a new Constitutional amendment to block same-sex couples from marrying. Instead of debating whether or not homosexuality is a choice or not (it is much easier to see them as Keyes does, as people living by choice in sin), they attack Kerry for daring to mention that yes, indeed, Dick Cheney’s daughter likes muff (and did Dick Cheney express his outrage that Keyes called his kid a “selfish hedonist”, of course not! He only expresses his outrage when the Democratic Presidential candidate reminds him his daughter is a lesbian).

See, here’s the thing – and it is a thing that many leftists, liberals, and even a few conservatives understand. ‘Freedom’ doesn’t mean that people do things that you like, or agree with. In fact, the strongest test of someone’s devotion to the concept of ‘freedom’ is when they face those who stand completely opposite from what they agree in. The kids who pied Ann Coulter don’t understand freedom – and Lee and his wingnut constiuents also don’t understand freedom.

See, it turns out that not long ago, the British Royal Navy registered its first Satanist, one Naval technician Chris Cranmer, serving on the HMS Cumberland. Some in England were rather flabergasted, Ann Widdecombe (a former minister) said, “Satanism is wrong. Obviously the private beliefs of individuals anywhere, including the armed forces, are their own affair but I hope it doesn’t spread.”

On the other hand, the Royal Navy replied: “We are an equal opportunities employer and we don’t stop anybody from having their own religious values.”

Now, who here would you say appreciates freedom? Ann Widdecombe who would like to prevent members of religious organizations which she opposes from serving in the military? Or the Navy, for saying, “Hey, freedom’s all cool as long as ya’ do your job.”

I think everyone with an honest appreciation for freedom knows which side to be on. Freedom isn’t free, and it isn’t easy. I’ll be the first to say that there a lot of people on the left who don’t understand this – but the thing is, there are a lot on the right who not only don’t recognize it, they actively work to restrict the freedoms and liberties of those whom they don’t like.

Fuck that, and fuck those on the far right who hold the American flag as a shield while they work to deny this nation’s promise to those who are still unprotected by law.

Your favorite wizard …

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… and mine (well, maybe not so much mine anymore, I’m really diggin’ Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell at the moment), is back in the news. Well, I guess he’s related to the news story … oh, whatever.

Ain’t-It-Cool-News
has posted a link to a site with photos of the Quidditch World Cup set.

Well, a single photo actually. See the one at the top of the page? Yeah, that one.

A few years ago I’d heard that Warner Brothers planned to split “Goblet of Fire” into two movies, thus bringing the book to life as much as possible. Well, apparently Cuaron persuaded WB to do it in a one-movie sitting.

I have mixed feelings about this. See, at work, I actually got into a rather heated arguement with JMac over Prisoner of Azkhaban. I thought the film did a good job translating the book – certainly better than Chamber of Secrets – and while certainly there were large chunks of the book missing, the movie had better pacing and flow then the predecessor. JMac disagreed – but I think he wants to see all of the films as faithful, scene-by-scene replicas of their written versions. I’m all for the theory that the book will always be better than a movie, but at the same time, movie adaptations must redefine the story to fit the cinema format. Look at LA Confidential for a movie that rewrites the book and is almost – almost! – as good as the source.

So, I’m nervous that Goblet of Fire will be – what? A two and a half hour movie? That’s a lot of material to condense into one film, and I fear JMac’s reaction when he goes to the theater, Thanksgiving ’05.

I'll be honest

There is part of me that WANTS George W. Bush to win re-election. Why? So that he’ll be forced to accept responsibility for what he’s done. He’ll be forced to accept responsibility for Iraq, he’ll be forced to accept responsibility for torpedoing our economy, he’ll be forced to take responsibility for siding with big-business repeatedly over the “little guy.”

There is part of me that WANTS George W. Bush reelected so that this disaster of an administration will once and for all force a split within the Republican Party and conservatives across this great nation – a split seperating the “small government” guys from the ideologues and theocons and bigots and racists.

There is part of me that WANTS George W. Bush reelected so that once again we can see a Republican Party so betrayed that they will be willing to help bring down one of their own, the President, as they were willing to do to Nixon.

Then the rest of me says, “Are you fucking INSANE?”

There is part of me that replies, “Yes.”

And it Begins!

The World Series, that is.

I just watched the opening ceremonies of the first game. Man, those intros took forever. Steven Tyler sang the National Anthem … I kept expecting the crowd to chant “O” with him when he got to “O’ say can you see”, but that’s a Baltimore thing.

Kick ass, Red Sox.

It Just Goes To Show …

Those who know? Vote Kerry.

First, Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota, yesterday endorsed Kerry.

I’ve been amused to read suggestions by fellow Republicans that I’m overanalyzing things and should just trust my gut. If I had done that, I would have known I was voting for Kerry sometime this summer because of Iraq. No, if I was voting based on gut instincts, I would have planned on voting for Kerry and punching a wall afterwards.Daniel Drezner

After several statements of uncertainty, I’ve finally come to a decision. I’m voting for Kerry.Josh Chafetz

Most damming:

There was a time, in the aftermath of September 11, when this magazine liked what it heard from George W. Bush. He said America was at war–not merely with an organization, but with a totalitarian ideology. And he pledged to defeat Islamist totalitarianism the same way we defeated European totalitarianism, by spreading democracy. For a publication that has long believed in the marriage of liberalism and American power, this was the right analysis. And its correctness mattered more than the limitations of the man from which it came.

Three years later, it has become tragically clear that the two cannot be separated. The president’s war on terrorism, which initially offered a striking contrast to his special interest-driven domestic agenda, has come to resemble it. The common thread is ideological certainty untroubled by empirical evidence, intellectual curiosity, or open debate. The ideology that guides this president’s war on terrorism is more appealing than the corporate cronyism that guides his domestic policy. But it has been pursued with the same sectarian, thuggish, and ultimately self-defeating spirit. You cannot lead the world without listening to it. You cannot make the Middle East more democratic while making it more anti-American. You cannot make the United States more secure while using security as a partisan weapon. And you cannot demand accountable government abroad while undermining it at home.

And so a president who promised to make America safer by making the Muslim world more free has failed on both counts. This magazine has had its differences with John Kerry during his career and during this campaign. But he would be a far better president than George W. Bush.The New Republic.

Oh, Hunt Valley …

So, like, a long time ago when I was but a teen, I was a big fan of Star Trek. Like, really big fan. I’d sit in front of the TV every Saturday night at 6pm to watch “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” I’d write stories featuring the Enterprise crew. I even went to Star Trek Conventions.

Yes, I did. See, I had this friend named Russell, and Russell’s dad was one of very few – three, I think – people to write (or, in his case, co-write) a spec-script and sell it to Paramount. That script was “Tin Man” (and he also did one of many re-writes on the episode “First Contact”). As you might imagine, Russell’s dad was quite the Star Trek fan, and it rubbed off on his wife, his son, and his daughters. Anyway, there was an annual Star Trek convention held in the northern part of Maryland every year called “Shore Leave”, and it was held at a place called the Marriot’s Hunt Valley Inn.

If you drive north on I-83 from Baltimore, you can see the Hunt Valley Marriot on your right as you approach Exit 19. It is a big, sprawling building with a dark red roof and black framed windows stuck in its brick walls. The hotel itself was great for kids – during the conventions, we’d run through the long, winding hallways pretending we were on ‘away missions’, either completing imaginary tasks, or looking for the occasional ‘guest star': one night, we stumbled (almost literaly) across a very surprised looking George Takei.

And yeah, y’know, I could tell you about the horde of Klingons who trampled us screaming, “Where is our soap!” or getting to shake hands with DeForest Kelley, or getting to go backstage and to private receptions … but, really, this isn’t what I’m going on about at all.

There was a Saturday tradition: lunch at the foodcourt of the Hunt Valley Mall, located right across Shawan Road. Even thirteen years ago, it was pretty clear the mall’s deathblow had been dealt. When I moved into this area five years ago, the mall still remained, three quarters of its stores closed. A Walmart and a Hoytts movie theater were constructed to try to reverse the damage the relatively new Towson Town Center had done – but it was too late.

Back then, every year when we came to Shore Leave (the Baileys and me, all of us spent our nights sprawled around the hotel rooms on beds, chairs – I think I even spent one night on the bathroom floor!) we would take note of the further closures that had struck the mall. It was most obvious on the food court. It was on the second level, just to the left of where now a Dick’s Sporting Goods is. There was a burger place, a pizza place, a fry place, a taco place. One by one, they continued to vanish.

The mall finally closed about two years ago. The doors were locked for good, and with the exception of Sears at the far end, the structure was demolished. They’re building something new where the mall used to be – trying to copy the success of Avenue at White Marsh, I guess.

The building frames are up. So it’s pretty damn crazy. I have thoughts on overdevelopment, and like, seriously, improve Shawan and York Roads, you assmunchers! On the other hand, it’d be nice to have a Barnes & Noble closer than Towson.

On the other hand, yet another bit of my childhood, long gone before I realized.