Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sign I've Been Waiting For?

In the haste to clear our dinner table, my father unintentionally placed the Buddha water fountain my brother got for Christmas in front of our manger scene, obstructing the view of little baby Jesus. Now, if I was a superstitious man...

I've talked about it before, and I think it's annoyingly obvious to anyone who reads my blog, but I find myself always teetering on the edge of succumbing to serious piety. I feel a strong religious impulse, but I can find no reasonable avenue for catharsis. A few days ago, I had another small panic attack while I was contemplating my mortality --and what a nice feeling it was as I stepped into the shoes of a truly narcissistic believer for a moment, drank the koolaid, and hoped for immortality! Maybe I should give this whole religion thing the old college try...

Then I turn on the television and land on the history channel which, curiously, features a program on the Bible, the council of Nicaea, and the historical Jesus and I think, "This is all so silly! And painfully transparent, like Joseph Smith and the seer stones or L. Ron Hubbard and Tom Cruise! And who is this pale, European, long-haired fellow everyone is worshiping and placing in picture frames? That's not what Jesus looked like! And what does it matter if I believe in Jesus? Isn't it better to exalt what he stood for rather than obsess about how he was born, what magic tricks he performed, and how he died? Do I really have to celebrate a human sacrifice from the bronze age, or is there something more profound? And what's the deal with the Catholic Church? There seems to be a monster hiding in every nook and cranny of that old battleship. Hooray, the Church is responsible for the success of the printing press --but wait, that success was born out of the printing of indulgences, little pieces of paper, Catholic monopoly money, that you could buy to get out of purgatory. Hooray, the Church is charitable and helps the poor --except, the misappropriation of wealth is disgusting (upset about Sarah Palin's clothes? Wait until you get a load of the Pope's gold threaded duds!) and there is something sinister about coercing emaciated children into a belief system with a little food. Hooray, the Church supports science --except, only when it is a means to its own ends at the expense of truth...and so on...

Then I think about the Buddha, about the flexibility of the religion, and the strange Zen koan, "If you see the Buddha, kill the Buddha," and wow, I love that irreverence.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Almost Perfect Christmas

There are two gifts I was looking forward to getting, but despite my family's best efforts, they couldn't find any copies of E. Janet Browne's highly regarded, two volume, 1200+ page biographical tomes on the life of Charles Darwin, Voyaging and The Power of Place.

          

Thankfully, I've still got some Christmas money saved up, so I'll probably order the books off of Amazon sometime in the next few days. If I manage to make it through these two books, I think I will have acquired some level of expertise on the life of our greatest scientist. I've already read two biographies, Darwin's autobiography, a collection of his letters, a dramatization of his correspondence with Asa Gray, On the Origin of Species, and selections from the Descent of Man. Of course, I should probably also have a go at Darwin's original best-seller, Journey of the Beagle and, uh, there is the problem I still have of forming concrete memories of my reading. For example, it's a sad fact that I probably couldn't give you a very accurate estimation of Darwin's birth year and death or the names of his children...stupid brain!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wind Waker One Man Band



Holy cow. The Legend of Zelda never sounded so good.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ukulele Get!



Despite the hard times, we had a pretty great Christmas all around. I got a ukulele! Soon I shall be its master...

Except, I'm distracted by the excellent online multiplayer experience of Call of Duty: World at War for the Wii. It's an impressive, fairly full-featured experience that is so far extremely addicting. (Anyone else out there want to exchange some COD friend codes?) Gears of War 2 has also proven to be an entertaining romp, although I can't imagine having as much fun if it weren't for cooperative play with my brother.

Merry Christmas!

Why does Matthew have Jesus riding on two donkeys at the same time? Because he misread Zechariah 9:9 which reads in part, "mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

Anyone familiar with Old Testament Hebrew would know that the word translated "and" in this passage does not indicate another animal but is used in the sense of "even" (which is used in many translations) for emphasis. The Old Testament often uses parallel phrases which refer to the same thing for emphasis, but Matthew was evidently not familiar with this usage. Although the result is rather humorous, it is also very revealing.
(source)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Yesterday, A little girl probably no more than 10 years old came into the store with her mother and wished me a Merry Christmas. As she was leaving, she spun around and added, "Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy holidays!" while smiling a toothless smile.

To all those insecure, paranoid social conservatives fantasizing about invisible enemies and a made-up "war on Christmas," I ask you, have you ever heard of anything quite so sweet? My heart was deeply touched.

I'm working this Christmas Eve and on Christmas, so in case I don't get a chance to post it, Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and season's greetings!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Punch to the Gut at Blockbuster

Jay: ...so yeah, I highly recommend King of Kong. It's a really great documentary.

Woman: Okay, great. We love documentaries. Actually, a couple weeks ago we saw Expelled. Did you see that?

Jay: Uh, yeah, I did see that.

Woman: Oh we thought it was just great. Very funny and well done.

Jay (anxiety kicks in): Um, well, yeah, I don't know. I mean, if you do a little, uh, if you like research it...

Woman: Yeah, it's kind of soft science, I know. Then again, so is Darwin.

Jay (queasily): But, uh, I mean if you find out more about it...

Woman: Yeah, I'm actually a science teacher and so is my husband...

JAY'S KNEES BUCKLE and his HEART DROPS. He doesn't know what to say. Should he say he's studied it all through college? No, he's working at Blockbuster now. That sounds retarded.

Jay: Well, okay, cool, have a nice day!

JAY HANDS WOMAN her movie and returns to register. He can't think. He's dizzy and disoriented. What just happened?

---

It's all too frequent true-life moments like these that make me think, "Maybe a little anxiety medicine could go a loooonnnggg way."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dragon Ball Evolution

You are probably familiar with at least some the story of Journey to the West, a classic Chinese novel that features the mischievous, free-spirit Sun Wukong, known in the West as the Monkey King.



Recently, Jet Li portrayed the Monkey King in the film The Forbidden Kingdom:



Journey to the West inspired the Japanese manga Dragon Ball, which is essentially a children's story spin on the original Chinese myth that morphs into a sci-fi spin later in Dragon Ball Z.





Take note of the child-like exuberance and naivete that characterizes both the Monkey King and Goku from Dragon Ball. Now prepare yourself for Dragon Ball Evolution, the live action adaptation releasing next year.



Something is missing. The humor and joyfulness of the original Dragon Ball, and indeed, the Chinese novel Journey to the West that the series is based upon, seem to be gone. Perhaps the tone does not translate well to the big screen. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether or not this new Hollywood bastardization --er, evolution-- of a classic tale can survive without the charm of the original.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Intelligent Design?

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A Colorado Springs family is part of one of the strangest cases in medical history.

Dr. Paul Grabb, a pediatric brain surgeon, said he was surprised when he discovered a small foot growing inside the brain of 3-day-old Sam Esquibel.

Click here for a photo of the foot. Warning: graphic content.

"I've never seen anything like it before," Grabb told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "It looked like the breach delivery of a baby coming out of the brain."

Sam was delivered on Oct. 1, within hours of an ultrasound that showed what appeared to be a tumor developing in the brain of the fetus. Three days later, Grabb performed the surgery to remove it.

Read the rest of the article


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

World Events 2008

If you haven't taken the time yet to look at some of the photography coming out of the Greek riots, make sure you do so now. They are simply cinematic in their composition and their moving portrayal of raw human emotion.



On a lighter side, it's Christmas in Japan!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Xbox360 Woes: The Saga Continues

So I just got my Xbox360 back after having it repaired for RROD'ing. Excited to try it out, my brother and I popped in our Call of Duty 4 disc and booted it up. What followed was a horrendous screeching sound as the disc came loose in the drive and scratched a circular groove onto its surface. The game seems to be performing well, but that's the last time we'll be playing with the console upright.

Interestingly, this just popped up on Neogaf. Sounds like my woes may be soon be Microsoft's woes:

Suit: Microsoft knew Xbox could damage discs

A document unsealed in a lawsuit last week suggests that Microsoft employees knew before putting the Xbox 360 on the market in November 2005 that the video game console could damage game discs.

Several ongoing lawsuits charge that the Xbox 360 is defectively designed because tilting or swiveling the video game console can scratch game discs playing inside.

Plaintiffs in a July 2007 case filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle are seeking class-action status on behalf of all those who purchased Xbox 360s.

Most of the declarations in the court case are sealed, but a newly unsealed motion (read it here) seeking class status quotes from the sealed declarations of Microsoft employees.

The motion says that Microsoft knew that when the Xbox 360 was reoriented with a disc playing inside, the disc could be damaged.

It quotes Hiroo Umeno, a Microsoft program manager, who said in a declaration, "This is ... information that we as a team, optical disc drive team, knew about. When we first discovered the problem in September or October (2005), when we got a first report of disc movement, we knew this is what's causing the problem."

After the Xbox 360 launch, according to the motion, Microsoft sent a team of engineers to stores across the country "to investigate complaints that the Xbox 360 was routinely scratching discs during demonstrations."

Microsoft determined that if the console was tilted, discs inside became "unchucked" and collided with the drive's optical pickup unit, leading to deep circular gouges on the discs.

Because of the complaints, Microsoft considered three possibilities to fix the problem, but rejected all of them.

One solution would have increased the magnetic field of the disc holder, but it was dismissed because it could have interfered with the disc opening and closing mechanism. Another solution -- slowing the speed at which the disc was rotated -- was rejected because it could have increased the time required for a game to load. A third solution, installing small bumpers, was too expensive. It would have cost between $35 million and $75 million.

Eventually, Microsoft did institute an Xbox 360 disc replacement program that sends out new discs to customers if their discs are damaged for any reason. The program only applies to Microsoft titles and costs $20 per disc.

A warning was also included in the product manual, telling customers to "remove discs before moving the console or tilting it between the horizontal and vertical positions."

But, according to the motion, Microsoft employees deemed in an internal e-mail that the warning was insufficient.

A warning label was also affixed to the Xbox 360's disc drive.

More than 55,000 customers have complained about broken discs as of April 30, according to a Microsoft employee quoted in the motion.

Plaintiffs in the case also include a statement from an engineering consultant who says that other electronics makers, including Sony and Nintendo, almost always incorporate the possibility that a console could be moved while a disc is rotating inside in the designs of their products. Read his declaration here.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said Friday the company would not comment on pending litigation.

The Xbox 360 has been hampered by hardware glitches. In July 2007, Microsoft took a $1 billion pretax charge to extend the Xbox 360 warranty to three years from the purchase date for cases where hardware failures are accompanied by a red flashing in the "ring of light" around the console's power button.

At VentureBeat, Dean Takahashi has detailed how Microsoft prior to the launch of the Xbox 360 knew that the console could fail but went ahead with the release anyway so that it could get its console quickly to market.

Posted by Joseph Tartakoff at December 14, 2008 5:45 p.m.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dolphin Stampede!


Church is Scary

You'd think by now I would have grown used to this strange occurrence, but it continues to surprise and unnerve me. The once small church down the road from my house recently erected a large addition complete with garish windows and an imposing steeple. They also added lights that illuminate the edifice with a light blue-green glow.

Every night, without fail, as I turn onto my road to return home after a long day at work, the church jumps onto my rear view mirror. The really strange thing is that the light and the darkened windows are in such an arrangement that the first thing my brain interprets the reflected image is of a CREEPY PALLID GHOST GIRL in the backseat of my car!



It doesn't take my eyes long to adjust, but that church has given me several brief frights over the last few months. And I am utterly baffled as to why my brain keeps making the mistake.

If there is a God, just what is He or She trying to tell me about churches???

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mentalist Derren Brown on His Religion



Renowned mentalist and magician Derren Brown recalls his journey from devout Christian to rational skeptic. (Part one of the interview)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Song - Piano Improvisation "Doodley"

Actually, this is an old song from many moons ago. But since piano improvisations seem to be all the rage on the youtubes these days, I thought I'd post one. So here it is: "Doodley," a musical doodle featuring some of my favorite, drawn doodles.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Orchestral Game Concerts

Between 1991 and 1996, 3 Japanese orchestras performed 5 amazing concerts featuring arrangements of famous video game music.



I've just discovered a website that is hosting complete music files for all 5 concerts. Check it out and download some of these wonderful tracks. Need some help getting started? I've included a few direct links to some of my favorite songs below:

Super Mario Bros - Medley (Classic)
Legend of Zelda - Main Theme (Rivals any John Williams theme)
Kirby's Super Deluxe - The Gourmet Race (Better than the SSBB arrangement)
Visiting the Harbors of the World (Wonderfully varied, like a trip around the world)
Donkey Kong Country (Becomes surprisingly sad and beautiful)
Theme of Chrono Trigger (Adventurous, Reminds of Johny Quest)

While I'm on the subject, I recently listened to some music from the critically acclaimed video game "Psychonauts" and was greatly annoyed at how blatantly the composer borrowed from Danny Elfman's Beetlejuice theme. The fact that no one else out there on teh internets has made the same accusation angers me further. It's so obnoxiously obvious, like James Horner's theme from Honey I shrunk the Kids. (Powerhouse, for comparison)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kill Bot Kills

Just as I've argued the tremendous life saving reality of applied science, the dark side rears its ugly head. And sure, maybe something like a hovering Multiple Kill Vehicle might ultimately save more lives than it takes, but the cost to our sense of humanity is troubling.


Science Saves!

I want to make a t-shirt with a message along the lines of "Science Saves" because, let's face it, when it comes to modern medicine, agriculture, technology and natural disaster management, science actually saves lives. However, I can't think of a clever image to add to the text. Any ideas?

Maybe I should just buy one of these t-shirts:




Sunday, December 7, 2008

Andes Mint Hot Chocolate

I've made an exciting discovery:






    


Just make a cup of hot chocolate, add an Andes mint, stir until dissolved, and serve. I'm not sure if I could ever go back to boring, old hot cocoa after this. Mmmm...

Friday, December 5, 2008

The World Wide Internet is Funny

Time for another random smattering of funny pictures and .gifs I've mined from the bowels of the web.

Skater Kid Just Can't Win

Photobucket

But Kitties Always Do

Photobucket

g2g lol

Photobucket

Remember Moms:

Photobucket

Swish!

Photobucket

Flawless Victory

Photobucket

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Beyblades, Let Me Show You Them


Okay, this may be too "niche" for any of my readers to enjoy, but I'm cataloging this for posterity because I am crying with laughter.

Some of you may be aware that I lurk and occassionally post on Neogaf, a videogame message board that is populated by gamers, geeks, and, believe it or not, industry insiders. In fact, there seems to be an intimate relationship between game creators, critics and Neogaf, which some developers would probably rather forget (Denis Dyack, I'm looking at you).

The community can be brutal. But in general, Neogaffers are insightful, witty, and enthusiastic about games. If ever a member does get out of line, he or she is usually dealt with swiftly and justly.

Now to the meat and potatoes of this post. I've only read about 5 pages of the thread entitled "Beyblade (anime where they cursed and had blood and partial nudity, mofos!) is back!," but I can already see why gaffers are hailing it as one of the funniest moments in gaming this year.

It seems an adolescent-minded gamer (brandonk129) stumbled onto Neogaf thinking he would find fellow superfans of a game and series called Beyblade, which involves spinning two Beyblade tops and "battling."

Like chum to a school of sharks, Neogaf is whipped up into a hilarious frenzy of biting wit and in-jokes. (SFW)

UPDATE: An interesting article on the Neogaf phenomenon

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Proposition 8: The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Roger Ebert and I Are Homies Now

Ebert allowed my comment on his blog. That means we're like best friends now, right?

The consummate film critic recently reviewed Ben Stein's odious tract Expelled and dutifully ripped it to shreds, albeit with a somewhat strained metaphor. (Read my review) And since I get such an ego maniacal kick out of reading my own words, I thought I'd reproduce my comment here:

The forced connections between Darwin, an agnostic, and Hitler, a Catholic who dabbled in the occult, are so strenuous that it is utterly baffling that they continue to be made by creationists and intelligent design proponents. Darwin taught us about the way nature selects evolutionarily beneficial traits for survival; Hitler and his insidious regime sought an artificial genocide to select their own favorite traits. Artificial selection has been understood and practiced long before Darwin ever came to the scene. To conflate evolution by means of natural selection with the racist, homophobic, and antisemitic prejudices that have been around since the dawn of civilization is simply shameful.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Learned a New Word . . .

And I'm probably worse for it. The word is pretty offensive. Of course, I found it quite amusing. I overheard its use in an employee's conversation at the theater.

"...he's kind of a Christfag, but he's all right..."

I had never come across this particular conflation of words before, but I confess, I think I know exactly the kind of person the term is intended to describe. I've frequently met people (especially in Indiana) that I would have pegged for gay, only to discover that they are, shall we say, flamboyantly devout, effeminately excitable, gay-for-god Christians (not that the two are mutually exclusive).



Pastor Ted Haggard preparing to receive, er, something from the Lord

The incident reminded me of a comedian's joke about the similarities between church services, papal attire, sex scandals, fraternities and certain elements of a stereotypically gay lifestyle, but I can't for the life of me remember the bit or the name of the comedian. Sound familiar to anyone else?

Bah. In somewhat related and also quite hilarious news, a clergyman has been hospitalized after a potato became stuck in his anus.

The clergyman, in his 50s, told nurses he had been hanging curtains when he fell backwards on to his kitchen table.

He happened to be nude at the time of the mishap, said the vicar, who insisted he had not been playing a sex game.


Rigghhhttt Father...You're a regular Frank Costanza...


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Highly Inappropriate



And by "inappropriate," I mean hilarious.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Replaying Link's Awakening


I finally rediscovered my long-lost copy of the Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX for the original Gameboy Color. My brother and I are replaying it for the first time in years on my Super Gameboy for the SNES. It's addicting and a surprisingly robust adventure for such a small cartridge. The trademark fetch-quests and retreads of already covered ground can be somewhat frustrating, but the solid gameplay, surprising graphics, and humorous storyline filled with Nintendo references keep us coming back.

Best Zelda game ever? Maybe not. But it's close.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pan de Muerto


I baked the above loaf of pan de muerto, or bread of the dead, yesterday on my day off from work. It's a little dry, but quite tasty.

You Ready for the Remix?



You know, I'm not really "hip" to the disc jockey scene, but I think I may have found a truly amazing talent: DJ Douggpound.

You ready for the remix?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ipod Emaciated, Needs Nourishment


This is a call out to anyone interested in helping. I need some new music! Post links to some of your favorite songs in the comments and I'll consider adding them to my collection. I'm interested in all genres.

Recently Added:

1234 - Fiest

Dance of the Knights -Prokofiev

Oom-Pah-Pah - Oliver!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Musical Memory

I've composed a simple melody that has been with me for awhile. I didn't expect much from it, but it's so simple that it's been very easy to arrange. I like listening to it. Unfortunately, it's only a minute long.

To lengthen the piece without adding too much of my trademark monotony, I thought I'd add another theme that has been bouncing around in my head. Last time I remembered the melody, it seemed to fit well despite the different tonality. Of course, now that I'm ready to add it to the song, I can't remember it.

This happens frequently. Melodies come and go. I expect it to hit me again in the next few days. But in the mean time, I'm stuck twiddling my thumbs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mmm...Corn Nuts...



Oh. I see what you did there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Retro Gaming Part V -- Holy Crap Edition!



I just bought what looks to be a mint condition Nintendo Entertainment System: Action Set for 32 dollars (12 dollars if you don't count my $20 gift certificate) at Good Will.

These things sell for as little as $75 and more often in the $100 range. I stand to make a nice profit.

Of course, the only problem is defeating my Packrat Syndrome. I'm not sure I want to give this thing up. It's so beautiful and pristine. And I have to imagine it will only increase in value. Who knows, if I keep it safe and dry, I may have quite the collector's item in 40 years time.

Senator Ted Stevens (R Alaska) To Be Flushed Down a Series of Tubes

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has lost his bid for a seventh term. The longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate trailed Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by 3,724 votes after Tuesday's count. That's an insurmountable lead with only about 2,500 overseas ballots left to be counted.


Article


New Poem:

Zoƫ

She burst onto the scene, heavy
With jazz dripping off her promenade,
All a-swish with gin and smoke,
And those hoop bracelets swinging,
Pulling in boys hot to trot,
Slicked back geeks hoping for a peek
Behind her white framed shades,
And a flash and a thrill up their legs
To take home.
One, two, three, four,
Each step sang a far out note,
So that even stiffs dropped politics,
Skirts and fags drew a jealous breath,
And no one dared look away
While she cut a line through the crowd,
Crossed that red rope barrier,
And left us,
A melody fading in the air.

By Jay Fuller

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dog Trains Man



My dog Sophia loves to sleep in my bed. Unfortunately, she's a big dog and a total bed-hog, so just about every night I have to wake her up from a deep sleep and kick her out of my room.

Easier said than done.

In fact, she's such a brat about her sleep that there is no booming voice or threat of violence that will move her. I gave that fight up long ago. Instead, I drag myself down to the kitchen, snap a doggy treat in half, and lure Sophia out with a tasty snack. Does the trick every time.

Yesterday, I found myself in the kitchen and going through the usual ritual without much thought. Imagine my surprise when I went to my room and Sophia was no where to be found. There I was, like a sap, conditioned by my own dog, holding a useless doggie treat in my hands.

It's little moments like these that force me to reflect on my little place in the cosmos.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Minority Report Tech Becomes Reality


I Thought I Hated Documentaries

So why have I seen so many? I used to tell people that I don't like documentaries. But upon reflection, I'm reasonably certain that I've watched as many or more documentaries recently than I have fictional films. Here's my list of viewed documentaries. Add your list in the comments!

Documentaries

King of Kong
Fog of War
Gonzo
Constantine's Sword
An Inconvenient Truth
Who Killed the Electric Car?
The Times of Harvey Milk
Crumb
The Celluloid Closet
Comedian
Religulous
Expelled
Spellbound
The Aristocrats
Fahrenheit 911
Bowling for Columbine
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
March of the Penguins
Hearts of Darkness
The Making of Jurassic Park
Lost in La Mancha
Heckler
Deliver Us from Evil
Salesman
Trekkies
Grizzly Man
Tarnation
Darwin's Nightmare
Jesus Camp

Mockumentaries

Best in Show
A Mighty Wind
The Office Special
Waiting for Guffman
For Your Consideration
American Movie
Windy City Heat
The Blair Witch Project
Coming Apart

Friday, November 14, 2008

Madagascar 2 Music:

Surprisingly good. I prefer the score to this theme over the lyrical version, but it's still catchy.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Belated Veterans Day

But more importantly...

Happy Belated Birthday, Andrew!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Christopher Hitchens Debates



Despite the fact that Hitchens repeats a few old quips and has a sometimes annoying penchant for name dropping, he absolutely eviscerates Turek in this debate. It is joyous to watch (I laughed out loud several times). Sometimes, you can just tell when someone is leagues ahead of another regarding argumentation skills and general intelligence.

There's also a "Gospel according to Brady!" Inherit the Wind moment that Hitchens ignores at first, but then finally acknowledges and uses to decimate Turek. It's just great.

There's also a youtube version if the vimeo version is as slow for you as it was for me (but the vimeo version is certainly the better of the two)

UPDATE: Here's part of that "Brady" moment:


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mormons and Catholics Wrong (Again)



Protests have organized in opposition to religious entanglement involving the removal of civil rights and Proposition 8. Hopefully, protests will continue to grow in size and frequency. Keep the passion burning!

There's a rumor that the Sundance Film Festival will be moved from Utah in response to the Mormon Church's political solicitation and support for anti-gay propaganda in California. I hope this rumor becomes reality; there's nothing like hitting bigots where it hurts, right in the money bags.

Not surprisingly, the Catholic Church has come forward with a message of solidarity with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (that's the church that believes in polygamy, magic underwear, and dark skin as a punishment from God.)

"Catholics stand in solidarity with our Mormon brothers and sisters in support of traditional marriage-the union of one man and one woman-that has been the major building block of Western Civilization for millennia." -Bishop William Weigand


Representatives from both churches are now complaining about the ire they have raised against their own organizations of bigotry and inequality. I think Nicole Belle offers the appropriate response:

Sorry, LDS and Catholic Churches, let me pull out my tiny violin for you. You have used the tenets of your faith to infringe upon my secular government to take away rights from people, and I'm supposed to feel bad that protests are targeting you? I just don't think so.


I say keep up the protests! It helped suffragettes, it helped black civil rights activists, and it can help the progressive movement again!

Video Portfolio Open


Check out some of my film and television work.

Including Shadows! (Just ignore some of the production values, and some of the acting, and some of my writing...)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Is Our Next President A Geek?



From Newsweek:
"That's an interesting belt buckle," he said to Michelle, mischievously. She feigned offense and said, "I am interesting, next to you. Surprise, surprise, a blue suit, a white shirt and a tie." Obama grinned and bent down until he was almost at eye level with her waist. He jabbed a playful finger toward her belt buckle, and let loose his inner nerd. "The lithium crystals! Beam me up, Scotty!" Obama squeaked, laughing at his own lame joke as Michelle rolled her eyes.


I'm doubtful that this next story is true, as it comes from a random commenter; nevertheless:
And slightly less known is something a learned from a find of mine, intern for the campaign, that ran hospitality for the now-President-elect when he was in town.

The job involves getting him something to eat, maybe playing a little basketball with him, and basically chatting and getting whatever he needs between important things. During the conversation, apparently Zero Wing came up.

You know, the Sega Genesis video game. I don't know how.

And apparently, my friend made the off-hand comment of "All your base are belong to us".

And Obama leaned forward in his chair, quirked his eyebrow a bit, and responded "What you say?"


Apparently, Obama also gave Leonard Nimoy the Vulcan hand sign at a campaign event.

And then there's this:



via tor.com

Friday, November 7, 2008

Unity



Perhaps a set up, it looks too good to be true, but this picture makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I only wish some other children could be so gracious...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Smack Dem Christians Down!



Featuring Tom Smykowski

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Not All Good News

It looks like proposition 8, which will amend the California constitution to say “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” will pass. That's terribly unfortunate and a sign that bigotry and injustice are still woven into the fabric of the United States.

If we are lucky, Obama will be a truly transformative president and continue to follow in the footsteps of Lincoln by putting a stop to this petty, irrational violation of civil rights. But it would be an unpopular fight.

Alas, the people have spoken and they are dumb.


President Elect Barack Obama



Sounds pretty good to me.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Don't Forget to Vote!

I'll be getting up very early to vote before working my two jobs tomorrow. Please, just vote for Obama. I'll be your best friend. Pinky swear.


Ben Stein's "Expelled"

I decided it wouldn't feel right bashing Ben Stein's Expelled and turning Blockbuster customers away from this brainless dreck without watching it myself, so I gave it a shot. My verdict? It's dull. It's dishonest. And it's shameless.

Any rational movie watcher should get a little suspicious as soon as they look at the box. The only positive quotes the filmmakers could advertise are Ben Stein's own words ("I love this film!") and praise from that re-fried turd burrito Glenn Beck.

Really quickly, the whole movie (I hesitate to call it a documentary as that suggests at least some sense of journalistic integrity) is basically based on the fallacious appeal to pity. The filmmakers argue that Intelligent Design is a viable scientific theory because their proponents are silenced and abused by a conspiracy of "Darwinists," aka biologists, paleontologists, archaeologists, geologists, physicists, anatomists, etc. In other words, "Those guys are bullies, therefore we are right."

Ignoring the fact that the charge is absolutely ridiculous, the filmmakers do a great job of encapsulating the problem with the whole ID movement. Namely, that the "theory" is an unsubstantial negative argument. Rather than presenting actual evidence to support a positive claim, they instead focus on how bad they are treated and how wrong the other side is.

There are many inexcusably dishonest moments in this movie, but worst of all, I think, is the quote mining of Charles Darwin to make him out as an insensitive proponent of cleansing society's undesirables. If they'd only continued the very same quote a little further, they would have had to admit that Darwin saw the human instinct to care for the sick and malformed as the "noblest" of all human endeavors! Shame on you, Ben Stein.

Now, I have to admit, I thought the production values were actually impressive. And the scary thing is, if I try to imagine that I am an uninformed audience member watching Expelled for the first time, then I think there is something emotionally convincing about the movie's conceit. Compare it to its recent polar opposite, Bill Maher's Religulous, and there is something disturbingly similar in the editing, general structure and appeal to sympathy. That worries me because I loved Religious. Perhaps this just proves that these sorts of films have to be taken with a huge ol' grain of salt.

I award Expelled 1 Pope hat of a possible 5, for making me reflect on my own biases.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

duder



I'm insanely jealous of the creative team behind the webseries "duder." The writing is just as witty as Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, but it is even more personally identifiable. Seriously, some of this dialogue could have been stolen from conversations I had with my friends in college. It's smart, a little ironic, and hilarious. Check it out.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Overcommercialized?



The Onion investigates.

To Evolve

evolve

1641, "to unfold, open out, expand," from L. evolvere "unroll," from ex- "out" + volvere "to roll" (see vulva). Evolution (1622), originally meant "unrolling of a book;" it first was used in the modern scientific sense 1832 by Scot. geologist Charles Lyell. Charles Darwin used the word only once, in the closing paragraph of "The Origin of Species" (1859), and preferred descent with modification, in part because evolution already had been used in the 18c. homunculus theory of embryological development (first proposed under this name by Bonnet, 1762), in part because it carried a sense of "progress" not found in Darwin's idea. But Victorian belief in progress prevailed (along with brevity), and Herbert Spencer and other biologists popularized evolution.

Argh. I hate it when this happens. Somehow I picked up the apparently false-factoid that "evolution" was a botanical term before Darwin used it which meant "the unfurling of pedals." And so up to this moment there has always been a particular grace about the image that the word inspires, namely that of a flower opening up, its pedals radiating outward like innumerable species evolving from a common ancestral beginning.

Oh well. On the positive side, I've learned something new that makes Darwin seem even more impressive. Did you read the bold lines? Darwin totally anticipated and rebuked the imbecilic interpretation of his theory as necessarily progressive!

I try to curb the impulse for hero worship, but Chuckie D makes it so difficult!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sorry, Here's What I Saw:

Photobucket


Trick or treat? I got tricked. Well played Internet, well played.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

BIOHAZARD!


Infectious Mononucleosis has struck the Fuller household! More specifically, it has struck my sister. At first I was all, "Hey, maybe I can get it and have an excuse to stop working!"

Then I saw my poor sister's suffering and I was all:



Get well soon, Lauren!

In other news, Sam celebrated his 16th Birthday today (technically yesterday). Happy birthday!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Doggie Fears


When my dog Sophia and my brother were younger, they were both attacked by a swarm of bees that was nested in the hill of a soccer field. My brother was rushed to the hospital and treated for a dozen or so stings. I don't believe we did much for little Sophia, aside from brush off the bees that still clung to her coat. She has always had a remarkable pain tolerance.

But it's very clear that the incident has marked Sophia with a strong bee and buzzing-insect phobia. Just the other day, an obnoxious fly found its way into the house. She decided she wasn't taking her chances and ran upstairs into hiding, whining and waiting for someone to take care of the tiny intruder.

I find this insect paranoia incredibly humanizing. When it is so easy to think we Homo sapiens are somehow special, it is humbling to recognize fear and trauma and profound, affecting memories in another species. I am forced to wonder: when Sophia yelps in her sleep and moves her limbs as if to run, is she dreaming of chasing rabbits in an open field or is she reliving a nightmare from years past?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Presidential Educational Credentials

Educational Background:

Barack Obama:
Columbia University - B.A.
Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

vs.

John McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism


Can we please try the smart team this time? PLEASE?

Opie, Andy Griffth, and the Fonz Endorse Obama

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Life is Sacred

And I guess that is why I'm not religious.

The Christian viewpoint, when brought to its logical conclusion, was explained in a recent blog post:

"Any good secularist can think life is sacred. Of course what the secularist means by the word sacred is interesting, but the idea that Christians are about the maintenance of some principle separate from our understanding of God is just crazy. As a matter of fact, Christians do not believe that life is sacred. I often remind my right-to-life friends that Christians took their children with them to martyrdom rather than have them raised pagan."


THANK GOODNESS most Christians no longer practice this disastrous belief. If it weren't for the rise of the moderately religious, who pick and choose their beliefs with reason and a moral compass honed by natural selection, then I have little doubt that the human enterprise would plunge once again into a Dark Age.

Of course, the problem with moderates is that they wish to have their cake and eat it too. 'Sure, I profess to believe that life is not sacred, that maybe it's better to martyr myself and my children, or better yet, kill my enemies, rather than bear witness to false beliefs, but just because I say that's what I believe doesn't mean I'd ever do it.'

WAT?

As for the right to life argument, I think the right of those already living trumps the right of those who are not yet living. If a mother's health is at stake because of a complicated pregnancy, it is a greater tragedy to lose the mother, whose complex neural network constitutes sentience and precious memories, than the fetus, who has known nothing and has nothing to lose.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm So Vain I Probably Think This Blog is About Me


I recently found out that someone at work has a crush on me. That makes the fourth instance in my life that I know someone has had a crush on me. I'd say I've seen signs of 3 or 4 other crushes, but in those cases, I'm not sure. And as far as infatuations are concerned, maybe just one, maybe none. I'd also say a few friends have had man-crushes on me, but now I just sound like an ego-maniac.

For my own part, I've had about 5 crushes and 1 infatuation in my entire lifetime.

I've never been good a managing my own crushes, and particularly, those with crushes on me. I just don't seem to attract the people that I find most attractive. Oh well. I guess life could be a lot worse than complaining about the people who like you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And Then Came the Voodoo

      Geraldine looked up at the moon and felt uneasy. It was perfect daylight and the sky was blue, yet there was the moon staring back like an empty eye. It seemed she was the only one who noticed it hiding behind a high-rise. Her mother had said that spotting the moon during the day meant certain bad luck. The memory made Geraldine’s knees buckle. And then came the voodoo.
      She stubbed her toe against the sidewalk and cursed. The pain shot up her leg. She stumbled and tried to find her gait, but her ankle contorted and she nearly lost her balance. Geraldine adjusted her pantsuit and lowered herself awkwardly, finding a seat on the curb. She peeled off her pump and massaged her toe. A blood blister oozed. She touched it gently and a yellowed toenail came off in her hand.
      “Jesus!”
      A few passers-by glanced down at Geraldine then continued walking unconcerned. Droplets of red dripped steadily. She removed her business tote and searched for anything to stop the bleeding. She tried some crumpled newspaper, but her blood mingled with ink and she cringed.
      “Does anyone have a bandage?”
      A man patted his pockets. A woman tapped her purse. They never stopped moving.
      Geraldine saw a convenience mart across the street. She picked herself up with her foot turned unnaturally inward. She hopped. The strap of her tote pulled down on her shoulder, burning with every step. She leaned against a parked car for support and a tear splashed against her cheek. Geraldine looked skyward. The blue had turned to gray and the moon was missing.
      HONK! A shadow in a Cadillac pressed his horn and waited for Geraldine to cross the road. She raised her hand and limped forward as another tear splashed her face. Then a wailing torrent plunged down from above like a banshee. Her make-up smeared. Her black hair curled and her clothes grew heavy. She could feel herself drip away, drop by drop, as she dragged her bloodied toe through the dirty water.

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Obama and McCain Agree: Western PA Sucks


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Here is a Song You Should Have



"Sons of" by Judy Collins


You're welcome. :D

Monday, October 20, 2008

For Future Reference

I thought of a little scene, which I imagine in a Victorian setting, so I will write it down here for posterity. If I still think it's clever in the future, perhaps I'll incorporate it into a story.

"Come friend, have a drink and forget your worries. Ignorance is bliss, as they say."

"No sir, ignorance is death. I shall have sufficient time to be thoughtless whilst I rot in my grave. Meanwhile, I should like to think as much as I possibly can."



More Republicans Endorse Obama

First several high profile Republican columnists praise and endorse Obama, then the conservative newspaper The Chicago Tribune bucks tradition and endorses Obama, and now Republican and former secretary of state Colin Powell has endorsed Obama!



Wow. When was the last time a candidate has ever enjoyed this much bipartisan support?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Problem:

I have no one to impress, and so I'm comfortable being unimpressive.

: (

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Have Albums Again!

One of the features on my iPod touch that has become a surprise favorite is the ability to create and arrange albums. This has become my obsession over the last few days. Now that the task is finally complete, I can report that it is quite a nice feeling to have my collection of music organized and in the palm of my hand. It feels like I have an album collection again!



I've also enjoyed many of the free applications for download on the iPod touch. My two favorites thus far are "Now Playing," which provides reviews, theater locations, and trailers for new and upcoming movies and "Stanza," which downloads free books from a catalog of thousands of public domain novels and texts. I've already worked my way through the first 8 chapters of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" during my downtime at work, and of course, I downloaded a copy of "On the Origin of Species" to have always at my side.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

BBRRAAAAIIINNSSS!



- Senator John McCain, from last night's debate. I'm not sure why he made this expression; there's probably a rational explanation. Regardless, it is filled with lulz.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Download Myspace Music and Youtube Audio

I discovered a wonderful way to rip free music from Myspace.com, or really, any file from any website. Just copy the link for the page with the desired file and go to File2HD.com. Paste the url, agree to the terms of service, click on "get files", then right click any file you'd like and select "Save Link As"



There are several websites that conveniently extract audio from youtube, such as listentoyoutube.com or VidtoMp3.com, but if you're just looking for music, I recommend trying to find it on Myspace first and using File2hd. The sound quality is orders of magnitude better.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monty Python's John Cleese on Sarah Palin



On the one hand, this seems almost too mean and sarcastic. On the other hand, it's got to be said that Palin is dangerously unqualified for the office she seeks.

You'd think everyone would have learned their lesson with the now universally disliked President Bush, who offered the same folksy charm, who was the guy you'd like to have a beer with, but lacked all qualifications to make him a competent leader. Both Palin and Bush are rich, inexperienced, gun-toting anti-intellectual conservative evangelical nationalists mired by abuse of power scandals who come from a right-wing tradition of screw-the-little-guy "Reaganomics" and free-market deregulation.

And yet in spite of Palin's uncanny resemblance to President Bush, her small-town, you-betcha charm is apparently strong enough to win over even my own mother, a registered democrat!

Something is rotten here and it stinks. Hopefully Obama's lead will keep expanding so I don't have to worry myself to sleep.

New Song - Wordsworth



What was supposed to be a simple melody I thought I would write down in two or three days became a too-big-for-its-britches project that I've languished over for a couple months. It still doesn't sound like it does in my head. But I'm tired of working on it, so I'm pushing it out the door and moving on.

Monday, October 13, 2008

SCREW YOU, Microsoft!


Well, the seemingly inevitable nightmare of every Xbox360 owner has finally struck the Fuller household. We got RROD'd. That's right, our console is showing the "red rings of death." It's officially broken.

I guess this is the difference between Japanese engineering and the American design philosophy of "Get it out the door now and patch it later." Or maybe it's just shoddy work, plain and simple.

I don't know when or if this is going to get fixed. I rarely play the thing as it is, but I know I'm the only one who might make the effort to get it fixed. The bottom line is Microsoft has dealt itself another blow in a long list of consumer confidence failures.

Meanwhile, Apple seems to get more and more appealing...

I, For One, Welcome Our New Apple Overlords


After two bizarre, sleepless nights of iPod related dreams, I finally caved in and bought an iPod Touch. It's only the 8g and it can be a little buggy from time to time, but overall, it's a very slick package and a lot of fun. I've already got it set up to send text messages and make VOIP calls, although I don't have a microphone to try it out yet.

I'd really like to see Nintendo try their hand at the all-in-one device market, because aside from games, the iPod Touch has the DS and the PSP handily beat.