missing three from Camden, NJ found in trunk

Three boys who disappeared Wednesday and were the subject of a massive search effort were found dead Friday in the trunk of a car parked in a driveway next to the yard where they were last seen.

The boys had vanished from the yard next to Anibal’s home. Elba Cruz, Anibal’s mother, said she was watching the boys play in the yard when she went inside for a few minutes. When she returned, the boys were gone.

As tragic as this is, I can’t help but suspect that it was a prank gone horribly* wrong. Y’know, “Let’s hide in the trunk from our parents, then surprise them!” Only, instead of popping the trunk and jumping out shouting “Boo!” they couldn’t get the trunk open once inside.

*Clearly!

alone time fun

After yanking their heads out of their collective asses, officials at the Justice Department realized that hanging drapes over half-naked statues was only preventing pre-adolescent boys from fantasizing about having sex with the afore-mentioned statues, and wasn’t really the answer to the alledged crumbling moral values of early 21st century America. After removing the drapes, and wanting to turn their attention back to the War on Terrorism, those afore-mentioned officials than proceeded to flog every medical marijuana user in the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

In other news, this artwork – while certainly a representation of the crumbling moral values of early 21st century America — is pretty cool and should be printed out and proudly displayed in your home. If you’re willing to look at the little pictures and ignore the big one, it could even be used for alone time fun. However, that would be tremendously creepy.

Before & After: Kitchen

Okay, so I lied about the “before” part. This post is all about the after*. So, in keeping with the tradition of the Bedroom & the Den, here go ye:

Kitchen!

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*This was easy – emptied the trash can, unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned the mat under the cat dishes, and cleaned the microwave. Also, threw out moldy cheese from the fridge and found a home for the 24-pack of bottled water that had been left on the floor for the last three days.

Assault on the Cursed Hostage

I never saw the original Assault on Precinct 13 – I think I saw maybe five minutes of it on Channel 54 waaay before it became the WB – so it probably isn’t my place to judge, but even sight unseen, I’d say the original is almost certainly far and away superior to the remake starring Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne.

It’s hard to know what to say about this film. Ever play Counter-Strike? Ever play on the offensive team on cs_assault? For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Counter-Strike is a first-person shooter which can be played on the internet by two teams of up to twelve people each. The two teams are the terrorists, and the counter-terrorists. On cs_assault, the terrorists are in control of a warehouse and hold four people hostages. The counter-terrorists must barge into the warehouse and rescue the hostages. It’s one of the most difficult maps in the game because the defensive team has so many advantages. Anyway, if you’ve played Counter-Strike, you’ve played your way through the basic premise and many of the action sequences of Assault on Precinct 13.

This movie literally contained every cliche from every cop movie and cop tv show. But it didn’t end there, because it decided to take everything it could from every escapist- or survivalist- film, too. Hard not to watch this film and not see hints of Dawn of the Dead, heck, even B- horror films featuring cheerleaders being stalked through the halls of their school by the psycho killer. Sadly, because you’ve seen this already, it pretty much ruins whatever suspense might otherwise have been building up.

If you want to see some corrupt cops get burned, and a lot of people get shot up with a lot of high-tech weaponry, this is your film. Want an action film with a hint of a brain?

This one is for you.

There is no title character, no one person who can be identified as a “hostage.” All of the primary characters in the film — and there are many — are in one form or another a “hostage”, some in more traditional senses than others, but all being forced against their will to participate in coincidence gone horribly wrong.

The Smith family are the folks who are the traditional hostages. Father Walter cooks books, opens overseas accounts, and does a variety of other illegal acts for a mysterious group with a surprising amount of cash and influence – CIA? After swinging by the local Chinese shop for carryout, Walter Smith’s flashy ride attracts the attentions of a group of local thugs led by Dennis Kelly, who then decide to go all “home invasion.” Sadly, they pick the day Walter is supposed to deliver an encrypted DVD to his secretive employers.

Dennis Kelly is the high-school bully made into an adult. He’s linked up with a bad-ass named Mars, and the two of them are out and about on the town, looking for a quick way to make a quick buck. Along for the ride is Dennis’ well-intentioned brother, Kevin, who freaks at seeing Dennis’ handgun in the glovebox. These three are the hostage-takers — all they wanted was the Escalade, man! — who set the whole affair in motion, but not without their depth, Kevin is a hostage for his brother’s affection, Dennis a hostage for Mars’ respect, and Mars is … well, psychotic.

Bruce Willis’ Jeff Talley ran away from the responsibilities of his job as an LA negotiator a year prior to this film, when his insistence on talking a deranged father down led to the deaths of three people. He’s taken on the job of chief of police in a small, rural department in northern California. The sudden hostage taking and killing of one of his deputies spurns him into action … at least, until he invites the state police in to run things. He’s happy to wash his hands of the whole affair, until he’s kidnapped and told that unless he provides aid to a mysterious group, his family will be killed. Talley is a guy who is only barely holding on to his sanity already — at one point, threatened by phone with the prospect of his family’s imminent execution, Talley snaps, “Kill my family, then! Kill them! And I’ll take your precious DVD and sell it to the highest bidder — whether that be you, or the Federal government!” His anger snaps the usually mysterious and dangerous handler into quickly trying to negotiate Talley back to the course they need him working … ironic, that a former negotiator gets negotiated? Talley’s a hostage both to his failures, and to his family — if he fails to act as instructed, they die. For all intents and purposes, his wife and daughter could be a big handgun pointed at his head.

I mentioned that the mysterious group which kidnaps Talley’s family might be CIA. And there’s some evidence to support a conclusion that they are somehow associated with the upper echelons of the government. But we never really find out who they are, only that they need either the DVD or Walter Smith to recover that which without one of those two items will be lost. They’ve got deep pockets and dedicated operatives, but just as they’re holding Talley’s family hostage, he’s got them as well. Without him, they can’t accomplish their goals, for all intents and purposes, he’s got their info (even though he doesn’t), it’s sort of an even dance … circle jerk?

There’s a lot of depth to the film, it tries hard to take itself in an unexplored direction, mostly it tries to set its own course from films like Sammy Jackson’s “The Negotiator” and Eddie Murphy’s “Metro.” Pacing is kept even, and the twists in the plot actually remain … surprising … (unlike Assault…) I’m actually kind of sorry I mailed this back already, I think I would’ve liked to have seen it a second time.

Also – Cursed? Not worth your time.

Before & After: The Bedroom

My cleaning rampage continues. This morning, in addition to running errands and getting annoyed with idiot drivers, I cleaned my bedroom. This was actually the easy part of the cleaning list – it was just putting books back on the shelf, clean clothes in the dresser or on hangers, dirty clothes in the hamper, throw out the trash, vacuum. Twenty minutes, tops.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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You’ll notice a stack of books atop the bookcase. They actually go on the bookshelves in the living room. For now, there they will remain. I’ve decided to leave the “detail” work for the entire apartment until every room has been thoroughly cleaned. I don’t want my dear, sweet, Irish-German grandmother coming over and observing, “Well, gosh Jeff, your den is very clean and well organized, but don’t you think you could’ve cleaned the bathroom? The sink is coated in hair shavings!”

And now, because the bathroom is next on my agenda – don’t worry, if I post any photos at all, it’ll only be the “after” – and I just realized I’m out of kitty litter … more errands! Hoorah!

2nd bs USCS ruling …

A divided Supreme Court ruled that local governments may seize people’s homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth conflicts with individual property rights.

So what they’re saying is, if, say, Rouse & Co. wants to build a shopping center where you live, all they have to do is bribe local officials to knock your house down. That’s bullshit.

drivers ed rejects

Running errands today, I came across not one, not two, not even three, but four dipshits who apparently were incapable of recognizing that the middle lane on York Road is for turning. Instead, these asshole driver-ed rejects were trying to make their turn from the left-most south or north bound lane, forcing traffic coming behind them to merge into the right-most lane. Only once (coming home) was one of these brain-dead idiots blocking my path, and I decided to make the most of it … I pulled into the middle lane, blocked him from turning, and as he screamed and waved his arms at me and honked his horn in anger, I gave him the middle finger, found an opening in oncoming traffic, and took the long(er) way home.

It was so worth it.

hold the President accountable

Kevin Drum in The Washington Monthly

The message from these memos is is pretty clear: the administration didn’t have any postwar plans. They figured they’d invade, mop up, and then leave.

Of course, the memos were written in 2002, so normally we’d simply assume that serious planning was done at a later date. However, the evidence indicates that the Bush administration never took postwar planning seriously, and the Downing Street Memos provide yet another data point to back this up.

Here’s the timeline: in March 2002 no one had thought about the aftermath. Four months later, in July, postwar planning was still nonexistent. In August, General Tommy Franks “essentially shrugged his shoulders at what to do once Baghdad fell” — and Donald Rumsfeld shrugged along with him.

Six months later, on February 28, 2003, Paul Wolfowitz gave his infamous testimony to Congress in which he suggested that postwar Iraq would be relatively peaceful and wouldn’t need very many troops for very long. On March 16, just before the war started, Tim Russert asked Dick Cheney, “Do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?” Cheney said no: “I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators.” Four days later the war began.

On May 2, one day after George Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, senior military planners in Baghdad said cheerily that they figured they could draw down American troop levels to 30,000 by fall. That same month, 400,000 Iraqi troops were disbanded with no thought given to what should be done with them. By summer the insurgency was in full swing and the administration had nothing but a wildly shifting set of ad hoc plans to deal with it.

The Bush administration never seriously considered what to do with Iraq after the war, and never had a clue that they would be facing a long, difficult insurgency. All along, they just figured they’d install some kind of friendly government and then get out.

Andrew Sullivan, writing a response to the Drum piece …

I assumed that this vital war would have enough troops to succeed and that there was a detailed and smart plan for the post-war. I was wrong.

Bill Clinton lied under oath. And that was wrong, and illegal, and as a result, he was impeached.

But Bill Clinton’s lie didn’t get close to two thousand Americans troops killed.

The Bush Administration rushed this country to war, clearly with the pipe dream that everything would be peachy keen in Iraq after the invasion. I’d like to tell you a story about an invasion of another country, whose 60th anniversary was just a few weeks ago. It was called D-Day, and it was a massive amphibious invasion along France’s Normandy coast designed to liberate the nation — and eventually, the continent — from the oppresive Nazi regime,. Do you know what kind of reaction the Allied planners planned for from the French? They planned for the worse case scenario … the French standing toe-to-toe with their German conquerors and fighting the Allied troops. They planned for the worse, and got the best.

Yet in the arrogance of the Bush Administration, it’s just the reverse — plan for the best, and scramble around like a chicken with no head when things wind up very much for the worse.

Thousands of people – Americans, Allied Troops, innocent Iraqi civillians – have been killed because the Bush Administration couldn’t possibly believe that things wouldn’t work out as they did during their daydreams. This is completely unacceptable, and it’s about damn time that people were held accountable.

It is past time to impeach President George W. Bush for gross incompotence.

Update:

For those of you who don’t remember seven years ago, yes, in fact Bill Clinton was impeached.

Before & After: The Den

With my grandmother’s visit rapidly approaching next week, I’m shifting full time into “super clean” mode. As opposed to other cleaning modes, this involves a full clean – move all the furniture, arrange everything perfect, shred all incriminating documents, dust everything – of my apartment.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to do my bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and maybe the dining room, if I have the time. Tonight I chose to do the den (aka, the front bedroom). To entertain myself I watched the remake of Assault on Precinct 13 as well as the new-to-DVD Bruce Willis film Hostage, both courtesy of Netflix.

I really really liked Hostage, and I might blog more on this later. It was … well, go put it in your queue.

Anyway, without further delay …

BEFORE

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AFTER

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Anyway, there’s still some detail to work to do, but the lion share of the job is over. I’ll tackle the remaining bits first thing in the morning. Now, because it’s 3:30am, I’m going to bed. Later, foolz.