Monday, September 29, 2008

Education at Zionsville Community High School: A Sad State of Affairs

- A brief review of poor standards and a school in decline -

As a school trying to eek out an existence in the Midwest of the United States, you might expect a certain conservative philosophy to pervade the halls and classrooms of the institution. That has always been the case, even when I roamed the building years ago.

However, that conservative bias has since warped into to a strong culture of ignorance, reinforced by poor lesson plans, factual distortions, and unqualified staff.

Never mind an incredibly slanted and dangerous sexual education program ripe with misinformation. New incidents of substandard scholarship have recently come to my attention.

In my youngest brother's biology course, the teacher introduced the film, "An Inconvenient Truth," as, "A boring movie that gets a lot of facts wrong." That in and of itself is not much cause for concern, except that the teacher then promised, "Don't worry, afterward, I'll show you a much better film about how global warming isn't a man-made phenomenon."

So here we have a science teacher not only rejecting a scientific consensus, (not to mention a film criticism consensus) but also teaching in opposition to it. What's worse is that this teacher wasted three consecutive days of class time showing films instead of meaningfully engaging with his students. Why not just send them to a theater? I understand the importance of climatology, but it is better suited for an Earth science class; wasting three days on films about global warming in a biology course is simply irresponsible.

In my brother's history course, the biblical stories of Abraham and Moses were taught as settled episodes of natural history despite the fact that no archaeological evidence corroborates the existence and events surrounding these characters. Apparently, the teacher regaled the class with the story of Abraham, how God tested his faith by ordering him to kill his son Isaac, and how an angel of the Lord stopped the sacrifice just in time!

This is not settled history and is, in fact, an unnecessary myth unrelated to the greater chronology of World events. Perhaps more disquieting is that this discussion of Abraham, Moses and the Exodus came before any exploration of the history of the ancient Greeks. It seems this teacher is not only flirting dangerously with the separation of church and state, but also with the actual sequence of civilization.

As a final, political note, I find it very disheartening that a once prominent science teacher from Zionsville Community High School has thrust his enthusiastic support behind the vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, a fatuous woman who believes the Iraq war is 'God's will,' that global climate change is not man-made, and that humans coexisted with dinosaurs. Perhaps that is all I really need to say about the intellectual decay that now plagues my former school.

UPDATE: well this is eerily relevant. Someone just posted this video of Zionsville circa 1987 on youtube.

UPDATE II: More evidence of poor standards


I've begun work on photographing and uploading several of my art pieces onto my online portfolio. In the mean time, I'd like to direct your attention to one of my favorites, Hodgepodge, which I've posted below.

There are many, many images in this piece, some of them meaningful, some of them meaningless, some stand out and some are hidden. Follow this link to have three hidden and significant images revealed.

We like to play "eye spy" with this drawing. I'll throw out a few suggestions and you can let me know if you managed to find them: an umbrella, Charles Darwin, a frog, and two drumsticks.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Whistle While You Collapse

I'm on day 5 of 13 straight days of work between the movie theater and blockbuster. LAME. I'm looking forward to finally getting a day off a week from this coming Tuesday.

I need someone else to manage my life, because I'm no good at it. Who wants to do it? Anyone? Anyone?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sarah Palin Verbal Diarrhea

Frankly, that is hard to watch.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pronunciation Pet Peeves

There are at least two pronunciation pet peeves that really send me up the wall. Unfortunately, the first is regularly pronounced by the presidential nominee John McCain.


No Mr. McCain, despite all your saber rattling, there is no "r" in Washington.

The second cringe-inducing pronunciation is apparently a favorite of Two-Face Aaron Eckhart, because he used it a few times last night on the Daily Show.


Unless you're talking about some new, tactile imagery, there is no "r" in photography! Get it straight!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Knowledge is Money

If knowledge is power, and power is money, then knowledge is money!

Six Saints Who Could Kick Your Ass

From I think my favorite is number 5, Vladimir of Kiev: Saint with 800 Wives and a Viking Army.

"Yeah, this guy had his own army of Vikings. We could probably stop right there.

Before becoming a saint, Vladimir Svyatoslavich enjoyed a career as a marauding pagan. One day he decided he wanted to be the Grand Prince of Kiev, so he amassed the aforementioned army of Vikings to go storm the city and depose the asshole who currently held the title (his brother).

Along the way he decided getting married might be fun and he sent some people to ask for the daughter of a nearby royal. After all, isn't that the time when men first start to think about settling down? When storming across Europe with hordes of Vikings to kill their own brother?

Sadly, the would-be bride declined the offer so he took a detour, killed her father and married her by force. Presumably there was a break for a nice dinner and some dancing before he got back to the task at hand and killed his brother, becoming ruler of Kiev.

Over the years he expanded his territory and his inventory of boobies, reportedly taking somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 concubines and several more wives.

So how does a guy like that become a saint? Well, the neighbors who he hadn't taken over kept badgering him about abandoning his pagan ways and adopting some manner of respectable religion. After deciding that Islam's stance on pork and booze wasn't to his liking, he settled on Christianity, mostly because it offered him some decent political footing in the area.

He was baptized and, possibly so they wouldn't make fun of him, had everyone else in Kiev baptized too. Thus they were heathens no more, and Vladimir secured himself a position as a saint. He may or may not have celebrated by grabbing each of the 1,600-plus boobies at his disposal."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Short Story Portfolio Now Open!

Check out the writing section of my portfolio and click the short stories icon!

Back in my senior year of high school, I had only two moments when I really connected with my English teacher. The first was when she complimented my Dante's Inferno music and the second was when we sat down and told me why she liked my short story, "A Simple Gift."

I submitted the story to the project XL competition and managed to progress in a few rounds, winning a t-shirt and certificate. This is the first time I've posted it online and, I think, the first time I've made it available for friends to read. Enjoy!

I've also been thinking about adding some essays to my writing portfolio. There are a few of which I'm proud, but I'm not sure if they're worth it. Who would really stop to read them and what are the chances they'd be stolen for some class?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Webcam 1: Wherein I Join the Digital Age

Monday, September 22, 2008

Star Wars: the Force Unfinished

Sam and I split expenses and picked up a copy of Star Wars: the Force Unleashed for the Nintendo Wii. The controls are fun and the exclusive multiplayer addition is surprisingly entertaining, but this game is disappointingly ugly, especially when seen next to its big brother console versions. Environments are uninspired, gameplay is monotonous, game length is a paltry 6 hours, the camera is frustrating and even the much lauded story is confusing and anticlimactic. We've only unlocked one ending so far, so there is some replay value to be had in the main quest, but all we really have to do is replay the final level, so we opted not to save our progress.

A minor spoiler follows:


What I find particularly irritating is that I expected the multiple endings to tie into the over-all trilogy regardless of our decisions, but the ending we've unlocked so far MAKES NO LOGICAL SENSE within the established Star Wars universe. What the hell, LucasArts?


To be honest, every time I look at clips of the ps3 and 360 version of this game, I go green with envy. But something must really be broken with that game, because the Wii version has been consistently receiving higher marks.

So what's my verdict? Unless you're a die hard Star Wars geek, this game is the definition of a rental. Although, maybe if the Wii version kicks the ps3 and 360's ass in sales, we'll finally see the console get the resources and visuals it deserves. A sequel to this game with WiiMotion plus controls, updated graphics, and online multiplayer would be...


Friday, September 19, 2008

Prokofiev is Speaking to Me

Okay, it's very clear to me now that I have to get a Sergei Prokofiev cd. This song "Dance of the Knights" from Romeo and Juliet is haunting and catchy. Just my favorite kind. Unfortunately, the tone changes at about 2 mins and becomes a bit fluffy. I understand the need for dynamism and the difficulty of sustaining a theme, but I sometimes wish composers would just stop when the main theme is complete to keep me from boredom.

Of course, these are the criticisms most often brought against my music: too short and too monotonous. But I guess that's just how I like my music. If you don't have something that creates an instant meme in my mind, then top wasting my time!

Dead Baby Jokes

Arturo on the death of (baptized) infants:
However, it is the ancient Church herself who tells us that baptized children who die before the age of reason have a sure pass into Heaven to stand at the right hand of the Throne of God. It is the Church herself who commands that the Mass of the Angels be sung at the death of such a child.

If you subscribe to this twisted sense of morality, then let me tell you how you can be a hero. Go out, baptize as many infants as you possibly can, and murder them forthwith. Sure, you will spend an eternity in hellfire, but for this sacrifice, you will have delivered "a sure pass into heaven" to hundreds of otherwise corruptible souls! Perhaps you will find it sad that these children did not grow up to live life, but what's a finite life full of suffering and temptation next to an eternity of bliss?

Besides, you should be rejoicing over death because it's not a tragedy but rather a sign of God's goodness. You're thinking too much. You should be more like good, "simple" people.

"It is worth contemplating how the modern mentality can only see tragedy in the death of an innocent child, and how other, more 'simple' people can see the same phenomenon as an illustration of God’s grace and power."

UPDATE: Never google image "dead baby." I lasted 3 seconds. God damn disgusting.

The Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We've bought the necessary supplies to make our own t-shirts, provided the image can be printed out with an ink jet printer. Originally, I wanted a shirt with the closing line of Origin of Species, but I'm not sure text prints out very well. Anybody know any awesome evolution imagery that would make a great T-shirt? Or maybe something random and funny?

I'm also planning to make a shirt with one of my comics. Which comic makes for the best T-Shirt? This is my vote (by the way, I haven't finished adding all my comics)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Holy Order of Cat Stevens

My family recently sat down to watch Harold and Maude again and I caught what I thought was an interesting exchange between my father and younger brother. Now, both my parents experienced Catholic upbringings complete with Catholic school education, but they raised their own family with more of a freethinking, secularist strategy and the difference is sometimes obvious.

During the film, a priest started to recite a prayer and my father joined in, ending with, "You kids should have had more religious schooling. Do you know what that is?" to which my brother responded, "huh?"

Just as the prayer finished, a Cat Stevens song began to play in the background and my brother recited the words aloud. Somewhat confused, my father responded, "Huh?"

I can't find the name of the Catholic prayer, but I found some of it on youtube:

"...that he may bless and deliver all souls of the faithful departed, bring them to the bliss of heaven and eternal peace. Oh lord grant him forgiveness for his sins by the help of your grace, you who live and reign forever and ever. Amen"

The song that followed was Cat Stevens's "Tea for the Tillerman"

"Bring tea for the tillerman, steak for the sun, wine for the woman who make the rain come, seagulls sing your hearts away, cause while the sinners sin, the children play"

I was struck by this moment. Here were two prayers being recited, both meaningful and meaningless in their own way, both known yet unknown by the other reciter. Did they notice how equivalent their unrelated expressions actually were?

If you haven't seen Harold and Maude yet, you owe it to yourself to see one of the funniest and truly greatest films ever made.

"You know, at one time, I used to break into pet shops to liberate the canaries. But I decided that was an idea way before its time. Zoos are full, prisons are overflowing... oh my, how the world still dearly loves a cage. "

"Vice, Virtue. It's best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much *life*. Aim above morality. If you apply that to life, then you're bound to live life fully."


Monday, September 15, 2008

How Disappointing

Well, I've just re-discovered a short story I wrote during my senior year of high school. The similarities between it and "Firefly Jones," a story I wrote in college, are staggering. What's worse? The older story is by far the superior. That's worrying. Have I passed my prime already?

Now while it's true that "Firefly Jones" was borne out of a stream of consciousness exercise and has gone through countless troublesome edits, that still doesn't excuse its shortcomings. I am faced with a difficult decision. I think I have to disown "Firefly Jones," at least as it stands in its current form.

Perhaps it is for the best. When I read it, I find myself skipping the first few expository paragraphs to get right to the dialog between Jones and Sylvie. Maybe the story will work better if I shift the focus. Oh, but there's already been so much work, and so many similarities would remain. I think I'd rather just toss it in the garbage.

How very disappointing.

UPDATE: damn it, it seems the copy of Firefly Jones that I've posted on my portfolio site is not the most up-to-date edit. That explains some of the lameness. Even so, I think I'll forge ahead with a total retooling.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Poetry Portfolio Now Open!

Click here for the writing section of my portfolio and follow the link for a selection of some of my favorite original poems.

While looking through my papers, I found this poem sprawled on a piece of scrap paper. Should I add it to my collection?

Modern Poetry

What's worse than a modern
poem, free-form and lacking
A poem about bad poetry.
Now, that is a waste of

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Science Turns Savage into Satan!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What Do You Call Carbonated Soft Drinks?

I used to say "Pop," because that's what my parents called it. But 14 years in Rhode Island beat it out of all us and now "Soda" is the only acceptable term.

Here's the national breakdown

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In Soviet Russia, South Park Bans You!

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Russia want to ban the award-winning satirical U.S. cartoon "South Park," calling the series "extremist" after receiving viewer complaints, a spokeswoman said on Monday.


The Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith had asked prosecutors to ban South Park after it said 20 experts had studied the show for its effect on young viewers.

The group's leader, Konstantin Bendas, said "South Park is just one of many cartoons that need to be banned from open it insults the feelings of religious believers and incites religious and national hatred."

Want to know the best part about this story?

"Our complaint is against a lot of cartoons, but this one was from 'South Park' season three, episode 15," he said.

The episode, called "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics" on the cartoon's website, first aired in December, 1999, and features a singing piece of human excrement.

Just wait until they dub a few more seasons and get to the episode in which Cartman murders the parents of a rival and feeds their ground up corpses in the form of chili to their own son. Singing poop will seem like Barney's Sing-Along by then.

I can't wait to see Stone and Parker's response. Perhaps the Russians should heed Kyle's advice from the Chili Con Carne episode.

"Don't f*ck with Cartman."


Monday, September 8, 2008

Two-Face is Real?

I really don't want to make light of a tragic situation, but a woman came in to the theater today with a terribly scarred face almost exactly like Harvey Dent's scarred face from The Dark Knight. I think I managed to stifle my initial fright, but, to my embarrassment, I was quite startled. The burn cut precisely down the middle and to the left of her face, just like Harvey, and her lip and eye were swollen in a grotesque shape, just like Harvey.

If you saw a person suffering and you had a magic wand that could stop that unnecessary suffering, then the kind, good-hearted thing to do would be to wish that suffering away. You wouldn't have to wait for the inflicted to acknowledge you, or to ask you for help; if you were truly good, you'd just save that person with no strings attached, regardless of whether or not the suffering was that person's own fault or purposeful.

If I was a religious person, I'd have to believe one of three possibilities. Either that person deserved the full extent of that suffering (a belief that runs counter to almost every tragic story I have ever heard or experienced), God is not all powerful, or God is not good. It's that simple.

But what really seals the deal is that a truly good and merciful entity would stop that suffering even if the inflicted deserved it. That is compassion. That is not eye for an eye, that is not turn the other cheek, that is love thy neighbor. In a world where you make the rules, suffering is never necessary. And yet God remains complacent. In fact, people claim he gets even more unforgiving in death.

Well, if that's the case, then God is not good.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Exciting Upcoming Bio Films

The trailer for Gus Van Sant's (Good Will Hunting) new film "MILK" recently released and I have to admit, it looks pretty amazing. I'm no fan of Sean Penn, but it seems Van Sant has managed to wean a remarkable performance from the actor.

But perhaps most exciting, a biopic on the life of Charles Darwin is moving forward and already has some big names attached. On the one hand, I'm saddened because I feel like I've been usurped and my idea stolen (I practiced a Darwin biopic pitch at Misher films!). On the other hand, I'm just happy to see such an important and dramatic story coming to fruition.

It's not all good news, though. Darwin can't even get a break in Hollywood. The project was originally titled, "Origin," a rather befitting name. The title has since been changed to "Creation." I'm pretty sure it's an attempt to shove the movie in creationists' faces with an ironic title, but it just doesn't come off as clever or appropriate.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

It's All About Me

If you haven't had a chance to check it out, feel free to swing by my new "About Me" page and give me your thoughts. Over the next few days (weeks?) I'll be adding to and updating my portfolio. Much of the work I'm posting you've probably seen before, but there's also some new stuff, and I'm constantly editing the old stuff. I'll continue to post updates here as I finish the various sections of my portfolio.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Evolutionists Flock to Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain

DAYTON, TN—A steady stream of devoted evolutionists continued to gather in this small Tennessee town today to witness what many believe is an image of Charles Darwin—author of The Origin Of Species and founder of the modern evolutionary movement—made manifest on a concrete wall in downtown Dayton.

"I brought my baby to touch the wall, so that the power of Darwin can purify her genetic makeup of undesirable inherited traits," said Darlene Freiberg, one among a growing crowd assembled here to see the mysterious stain, which appeared last Monday on one side of the Rhea County Courthouse. The building was also the location of the famed "Scopes Monkey Trial" and is widely considered one of Darwinism's holiest sites. "Forgive me, O Charles, for ever doubting your Divine Evolution. After seeing this miracle of limestone pigmentation with my own eyes, my faith in empirical reasoning will never again be tested."

Added Freiberg, "Behold the power and glory of the scientific method!"

via The Onion

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dragonball the Movie Pictures Leaked

Is it me, or did the make-up artists get lazy and just copy James Marster's earlier work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Marster's as Piccolo                                                 Marster's as Spike

More pictures

There's a Certain Resemblance

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Contest Over. That Was Fast.

Well, I was going to have my readers vote on my new banner picture for the blog. But I think I've got my winner. Sadly, unlike most of the other candidates, the winner is not one of my own photographs. Nevertheless, I think it is the most beautiful and will remind me always of the childhood home I've left behind but not forgotten.

But just for the heck of it, here are the runners up. Perhaps someone knows how to make banners change with every reload of my page. If so, would you care to share with me how I might do that?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The PAIN, Here it COMES

Well, Hey, I like the layout. But it seems that "SAVE TEMPLATE" does not mean "SAVE EVERYTHING IN THE TEMPLATE" so I've lost all that extra code I've written over the years, all my links and portfolio links, all my entrecard html and my sweet little subscription buttons. It's over. It's all over.

How depressing. Blogging sucks.

Is that a Condom?

Colin dug this up from his files.

I dug this up from my files:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sarah Palin's Pregnancy Decision Map

Play along! Do you have what it takes to be the Republican nominee for vice president?