Thursday, April 29, 2010

Texas Governor Rick Perry Faces Off With Looney Tunes Character, Fortunate to Have Hollow Point Bullets

The Associated Press wasted everyone's time yesterday with a story about how Texas Governor Rick Perry shot a coyote and then.....well that's pretty much it. According to Governor Perry, he was out on a morning jog when a coyote began showing aggressive behavior towards his dog, who was with him at the time. So, he responded with the only logical action: he shot it with a fucking .380 Ruger with hollow point bullets and a laser sight. I'm not kidding. I talked to Mrs. Grumpy-to-Be about it last night and she brought up a very good point: unless there are TMZ reporters following Governor Perry around on his morning jog, then he had to actively search out a reporter to tell about this. Really? This is somehow in the public interest? I know there is an election coming up, but will this earn you those anti-coyote undecideds? And yes, I do see the irony in the fact that I'm writing about what a waste of time it is to write about this event. But there were some gems from Governor Perry that I really needed to share with you all:

"Don't attack my dog or you might get shot...if you're a coyote."
Or if you're one of those goddamn socialists trying to let Mexicans take our beloved landscaping jobs and let fags marry.

"It [the coyote] was not in a lot of pain. It pretty much went down at that particular juncture."
Well I would hope so. You shot something the size of a medium dog using a laser sight and hollow point bullets. I'd imagine you probably blew the back of the little bastard's head off. And before people start in with the bleeding heart liberal bullshit, I honestly don't have feelings for the coyote one way or the other. I'm told that coyotes can actually be pretty dangerous. But to say that you managed to painlessly kill a coyote with with bullets designed to kill a grown human seems a bit odd. I don't think people were assuming you popped it in the kneecap first.

And I think this one is my favorite, in regards to him leaving the coyote where he killed it:

"He became mulch."
Oh, I didn't realize you were just trying to return him to the land. Few people realize that Governor Perry is in the midst of a Dances With Wolves-style transition into the ways of the Indian. But his local tribe isn't dicking around by naming him with some fruity name like Walks with Nature, or Carries in the Wind. No, his name will be Laserkill.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In Quebec, You Ain't Shit Until You've Performed Dentistry On Yourself

Heard on NPR today that Washington Capital Eric Belanger took a hockey stick to the mouth during an NHL playoff game on Friday. He then proceeded to do the following:

I'm becoming more and more convinced that despite their hilarious accents, French-Canadians are far more badass than I could ever hope to be. Keep in mind that the clip only shows one of the 9 goddamn teeth he lost from that hit. Oh, and by the way, he was back in the game shortly after getting checked out by the team dentist. Let me repeat that. He lost 9 teeth. He then almost immediately resumed the activity that led him to lose 9 teeth. If you'll excuse me I have to go search for any remaining sense of my masculinity, and then I have to go find out what business NPR had reporting on anything this cool.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stephen Hawking Claims That Aliens Are Just Like Us...

In that they are willing to screw over other civilizations in order to acquire resources for themselves. In an interview with the AFP, Stephen Hawking likens aliens landing on Earth to "when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out too well for the Native Americans."Now, no offense to Dr. Hawking, but it's quite an assumption to think that any race of aliens is likely to want to clear us out for all of our top notch air, water, and other natural resources. Isn't it just as likely that any race landing on Earth would look down on us as being a bunch of self-serving pricks? This weekend I Netflixed District 9, and somehow the movie's vision of stranded aliens being forced to live separately in run-down slums just doesn't seem too off-the-wall given our track record as a species. As is generally the case, my viewpoint on the matter has been shaped by George Carlin, who sums up the awkward relationship we'd have with advance alien life in the clip below (starting at the 3:05 mark, but if you're at all like me you'll want to just watch the whole video).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Take the Edge Off with Florence and the Machine

Without ways to distract myself from the irritations of the world, I'd probably end up popping a vein in my neck and dying a messy, agonizing death. Alcoholism runs rampant in my family, so booze isn't an option. That's why I'm always keeping an eye out for things to reduce my heart rate a bit, and I wouldn't be much of a guy if I didn't share them with you to enjoy as well.

Florence and the Machine is the name given to artist Florence Welch and her varying array of supporting musicians. I first heard about Florence and the Machine through an interview Welch did on NPR. Now, for those of you who would automatically dismiss the hipster crap they usually throw at you on public radio, please know that usually I am the exact same way. But as I listened to the interview (which you can catch here) I found myself intrigued by this quiet little British girl talking about her time playing music at old, abandoned supermarkets that had been taken over by squatters.

So later on at home I went to Pandora's website to see if they had any Florence and the Machine in their database, and sure enough they did. The first song that played was "Cosmic Love," and within two minutes I was completely sucked in. Welch's voice is that perfect mix of melodic talent combined with guttural passion that gets me every time. She actually reminds me of a punk rock version of Enya, of whom I'm also a big fan. Snicker all you want but as I said I'm always looking for things to calm me down and Enya is nothing if not calming. Welch's style, however, takes Enya's soothing melody and backs it up with a hefty dose of balls, especially in "Cosmic Love." By the third round of the chorus, Welch is practically screaming the lyrics, but her voice still has the same beauty and femininity as when she quietly talks during an interview.

Perhaps the most impressing aspect of Florence and the Machine is that their first album, Lungs, is the rare album that I can listen to from start to finish. Usually, I will only be interested in one or two songs on an album, even from my favorite bands, but that's not the case with Lungs. Obviously, there are songs that I like more than others. "Cosmic Love" is definitely my favorite, "Dog Days Are Over" is a great song to listen to while running, and "Kiss With a Fist" is great if you just want something to bounce your head to. But honestly, there is not one song on the album that I would call a dud. And I think a lot of that has to do with Welch's voice. I don't have anywhere near the musical background to say whether or not she's actually a good lyricist or even a good musician (she, in fact, claims to be a terrible musician). But her voice is so damn haunting that I could probably listen her sing about a list of groceries.

Now, apparently Lungs has been around since July of last year, and Florence and the Machine has had gigs on Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman, so I may be late to the party on this one. But if you haven't heard of Florence and the Machine, do yourself a favor and give a listen to the song below, and I'm guessing you'll be downloading the rest of the album and looking forward to their next album due out in 2011. And if this does turn out to be the first time you've heard them, I expect a thank you.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Regatta: Italian for ASSHOLE!

One of the drawbacks of living in Philadelphia (aside from, you know, living in Philadelphia) is that there aren't too many places to go running. So when you find a good place, you need to use it whenever you get a chance. One of those places is along Kelly Drive, a road that winds parallel to the Schuylkill River. There is a nice, flat path, which is truly essential when you weigh as much as I do. Plus, the area only smells faintly of hobo urine, and the river makes for a good view as long as you don't think about what's floating in it. So I finally get my fat ass up on a Sunday and try to be healthy and get the old heart pumping on a jog along the river, but I can't even get on to Kelly Drive because, yet again, there is a fucking regatta that has the road closed down. What's a regatta, you ask? Well I'm glad you asked, and if you didn't ask I'm going to goddamn well tell you anyway because everyone needs to know why they block a whole road off for these things.

Generally speaking, a regatta is any kind of boat race, but along the Schuylkill River, regattas refer to crew races. Crew is a truly fascinating sport in which four or five skinny rich kids paddle their way through the water in a long, skinny penis. Meanwhile, a coach sits in the front of the boat with the incredibly important duty of weighing the whole thing down and telling the rowers when to put their paddles in the water, so obviously they would be completely lost without him. And honestly, choosing one of the myriad of awful jokes that come from the coach yelling "Stroke! Stroke!" is not worth the effort. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't point out that Wikipedia's page on crew features a section entitled "Anatomy of a Stroke."

But far be it from me to look down on people just because they enjoy watching other people race inefficient forms of transportation. In my spare time I've been known to read about movie plots online when I don't feel like actually seeing them, essentially spending large chunks of my life about three generations away from reality. So giving someone a hard time for going outside for a few hours by the river doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. What I cannot deal with, however, is the arrogance that leads people to close down a major city road in order to make way for a sport that takes place in the fucking WATER! I've seen some bad driving in my day but it would be rare even for a douche bag in a BMW to be in such a hurry that he would crash into something in the river. So why does the whole road need to be closed down? And don't tell me for parking. There are three large parking lots in a 1-2 mile stretch of Kelly Drive. If that's not enough space, too fucking bad. Take the bus, or better yet, take a boat.

Worst of all, they give drivers no warning that the road is closed and do absolutely nothing to redirect traffic. The first time I drove up to one of these road blocks I didn't even know I wasn't allowed through. All I see are police barricades veering one line of traffic to a detour and one another line of traffic that lead to Kelly Drive. But in between me an the road is an portly old woman with a money apron, who informs me rather shortly that I can't through because of their precious canoe race. Obviously, I'm the idiot. So, grinding my teeth down to the gums, I take the detour hoping to be able to quickly get back to where Kelly Drive isn't closed. But they don't have anyone directing traffic. They don't even have signs posted telling me where to go. All I get are groups of rowers enjoying their day and probably laughing at my pain:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
We're too busy paddling
To think up a rhyme
so fuck you and good luck finding your way home asshole!

Oh, wait, I'm wrong. I get more than a mocking tune from a pack of floating frat members. I also get to watch their middle-aged yuppie parents parading down the detour road on their way to the river with fanny packs and folding chairs. So apparently, the act of closing Kelly Drive wasn't just self-centered and asinine, but also ineffective! That's fantastic guys. I really hope you enjoy your regatta. I hope the races are all exciting but sportsmanlike. I hope the winners are humble and the losers are gracious. I hope the spectators get a healthy amount of sun and get to enjoy their picnics of portabello mushroom wraps and homemade garlic hummus. Oh, and I also hope the flash flood gives little to no warning, and that the destruction is total. Bunch of crotch stains.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Grumpy Movie Review: The Hurt Locker

As part of my general theme of having no clue of what to do with this blog, I'm establishing yet another segment on top of the Quick Complaint of the Week. I figured this would be a good way of showing whoever reads this blog that I do indeed provide more for the world than just bitching and moaning. That is, of course, unless the movie is bad enough to require me to bitch and moan about it.

To kick off this new segment, I figured what better movie to review than the one voted the top movie of the year by those fine folks at the Academy (pff, right), Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. I recently Netflix'd the dvd (God I love Netflix) and it made for a pretty damn entertaining watch. By the way, before we get started with the actual review, let me give you fair warning that I'm still new to the idea of writing about something while not giving too much away, so here's your blanket spoiler alert to cover pretty much the whole review. I'll do my best to mark the point of a spoiler, but honestly, if I ruin anything for you I'm not going to lose a whole lot of sleep about it.

The movie's opening sequence introduces us to an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team in Iraq on the scene of a potential roadside bomb. Sergeant JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) provide support for team leader Staff Sergeant Matt Thompson (Guy Pearce...who knew he was in this?). As they set about their work, two things are established. First, Kathryn Bigelow is a master at creating suspense. Second, if you are a famous British actor in this film **Spoiler Alert** you're going to die very quickly **End Spoiler**

Each event in the opening sequence tells us that Sergeant Thompson is pretty much screwed. The wheel of the team's remote-controlled wagon falls off, which means he'll have to go and personally rig the explosives to blow safely. Sergeant Sanborn makes a note of when he is within the kill zone of the bomb so we know that we're even closer to a big kaboom. On top of all of this we have several people intently observing the scene, and each of them seems to be doing his own interpretation of the stock villain in a top hat evilly twirling his mustache, so who knows which one is the real bad guy. Now, Bigelow could have just gone for the easy shock, throwing in an explosion out of no where and giving the audience a sudden jolt and a need for a change of underwear. But by tipping the audience off little by little as the scene progresses, Bigelow can toy with us, making us go nuts waiting for that inevitable explosion.

Later in the movie, we get another dose of equal parts suspense/famous English actors taking a dirt nap when the team meets a group of British mercenaries led by Lord Voldemort himself, Ralph Fiennes (no one really cares what his character's name is in the movie do they?). When a sniper begins picking off members of the mercenary squad, the shots come from so far away that the bullets hit their targets before we even hear them. So while Voldemort starts to take aim to return fire, we know it's only a matter of time before he eats a shit sandwich, but not knowing exactly when is a racks your nerves in the best possible way.

The other great thing that this movie has going for it is some great casting choices. Besides the Brits who serve as the Iraq war equivalent of "red shirt" ensigns from Star Trek, we get a main cast that most people probably never heard of before this movie, but probably will quite a bit in the future. Jeremy Renner plays Staff Sergeant William James, replacement for the very dead Sergeant Thompson. As the typical plays-by-his-own rules-and-apparently-has-a-deathwish Sergeant James, Renner essentially channels Mel Gibson's Martin Riggs. He casually puts himself and others in harms way while shooting a few good one-liners and slowly fraying around the edges, which really isn't all that original. But hey, it works. Renner is very likeable and adds just enough depth to the character that he doesn't quite fall into cliche. Two relative unknowns in Mackie and Gergarghty provide support for Renner, and they were both very serviceable acting as the two straight men. The scene where the three soldiers get drunk after a day on the job gets a bit more wild and violent than your average happy hour gathering, but as someone who has friends who've served in the military I can attest that the representation of such steam-venting is pretty realistic.

Which brings me to a point of debate over The Hurt Locker: does the movie accurately portray the life of an EOD squad in Iraq? I listened to a story on the radio recently that featured actual bomb disposal soldiers complain that James' cavalier attitude towards bomb disposal is not indicative of a real soldier's concern for safety and protocol, and that it's aggravating to watch a character portrayed that way. My take on this point is fairly simple: I really don't give a shit how accurate the movie is or isn't. I've never been to Iraq and I've never even seen a bomb up close, much less disarmed one, so accuracy really isn't on my radar for a movie like this. Plus, even if I normally would be inclined to pick up inaccuracies, I'm not going to walk into a movie from the director of Point Break and expect to gain encyclopedic knowledge of the military culture.

Pictured above: a typical day for an FBI agent

I would say my only real complaint with The Hurt Locker is that it never really goes anywhere. I realize that's kind of the point in that we aren't meant to take away any kind of commentary on the war in Iraq, but rather just view the day-to-day lives of the soldiers who serve there. But when I was done watching the movie, I found it left me wanting. To be honest I'm not even quite sure what it is that left me unsatisfied. Maybe I had my expectations set too high since I saw it after it won the Oscar for best picture, which I'll admit is a pretty stupid reason to have really high hopes for a movie. I went into the movie expecting something that no one has ever done before with a movie about Iraq, and while it delivered in that aspect insofar as no movie about Iraq has taken the straight action movie approach, it's still something we've seen time and time again in other straight action movies. But again, that doesn't mean it was entertaining. Grade: B+.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Quick Complaint

Can anyone explain to me why DJs feel the need to refer to Jimi Hendrix by his full name, James Marshall Hendrix? Are we supposed to be impressed? First of all, that's not even his birth name. He was born Johnny Allen Hendrix. Secondly, who gives a shit what his full name is? His albums said Jimi Hendrix, so why don't we all just stick to calling him Jimi Hendrix? What's next? Are we going to have to be told to stick around after the commercial break for Robert Allen Zimmerman's "The Times They Are a-Changin'"?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Springtime Shines Upon Us

After months of punishing blizzards followed by several more weeks of torrential downpour, we finally seem to have incurred the good graces of the natural world. Mother Earth has finally seen fit to part the clouds and let some sunshine into our lives. And with that sunshine, comes warmth. Warmth that can thaw even those hearts most frozen by the chill of winter. Warmth that leads a man to remember the beauty in having these ever-changing seasons. Warmth that urges us all to open our windows and let the outside world back into our lives, and view that world in all of it's splendor as it begins to blossom in full grandeur. I really believe that in days such as these, we can all be a little bit...


SON OF A BITCH! Why is it that I can't go more than five minutes with the window open without having to listen to some old, fat, greasy biker rev his Harley to a decibel that would make dead people weep! Good lord, Jethro, I know it's been a whole three months since you've been able to break out the sleeveless jean jacket, but couldn't you have given me at least a day before you had to tear through the streets blasting an incessant stream of motor farts? There is no discernible reason for a small, two-wheeled vehicle made for, at most, two people to be that loud. Just no reason whatsoever. I even tried to research a couple of search engines to see if I was the one being unreasonable. It certainly wouldn't be the first time. Maybe there was a practical reason for motorcycles to be that loud. For all I really know about motorcycles, they might pick up another mile per gallon for every burst eardrum.

A search on Yahoo! Answers yielded these gems of impeccable logic:

"Most motorcycles consist of a pipe and a muffler. Some have headers instead of one pipe. Size and material all have factors in sound. As well as packing and baffles."
Those are all definitely words, but I'll be damned if I understand any of them in their current combination.

"Most motorcycles consist of a pipe and a muffler...Size and material all have factors in sound."

OK, so that gives me a fairly simple technical explanation for why some exhaust pipes are louder than others, but I still don't see why someone would deliberately choose to make them so loud. For the answer to that, we just need to look at the response voted "Best Answer" by the posters on the site:

"As soon as the warranty on the bike runs out, alot of guys ditch the stock exhaust and go for aftermarket pipes which generally have bigger openings on end and less baffles inside them for a much louder tone and increase in horse-power. Cuts down on the gas mile-age but who cares, make some noise and feel the wind in your face and watch all the traffic from your rear-view mirrors as you shoot away from the traffic
light leaving every-one behind in a cloud of dust. Feel the power ! ! ! Pipes do make a differnece in performance ! ! !"

And there you have it. Quite possibly the sole reason why America is so hated by enemy nations and hipster douche bags alike. These guys are actually taking the time to take a perfectly operational exbhaust pipe, one that has been carefully crafted by its manufacturer, and twist it into their own horrible creation. Not only that, but they openly scoff at the speck of practical logic of improved gas mileage in favor of "leaving every-one behind in a cloud of dust." Congratulations, you've bested hundreds of people who had no fucking clue that they were in a race to begin with.

I hate you, I hate your glorified Huffy, and I can only hope that next time you go cruising that you wind up eating a nice mouthful of pigeon shit.