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Monthly Archives: April 2013

What Do We Owe The Die Hard Franchise?

A lot of people don’t like to talk about A Good Day To Die Hard, and I don’t blame them. It was a godawful, insulting, soul-poisoning mess.

Indy FridgeWalking out of the theater was like lurching across a vast, miserable desert and then having a refrigerator land in front of you with Indiana Jones in it. Oh, dear – old friend. What have they done to you?

Hopefully you didn’t see it. I need to tell you some things about it anyway, though, because time marches on and the day will come when you see it staring at you on Netflix or something and you’ll say, what the hell, might as well watch John McClane kick some ass even if it’s shitty, right? Any John McClane asskicking is a decent asskicking to behold, yes?

No. In point of fact, John McClane kicks very little ass in this movie. Here’s what happens.

He gets some information from a guy on his Police Squad that his son is in Russia and has just shot some kind of Russian Gangster. They can’t even spring for Sam Jackson or Al Powell or anyone from any previous movies to be the one to get him the information, it’s just some guy.

So John McClane gets on an airplane and heads on over to the obviously existing, non-Die Hard script he’s been grafted on to. In order to make it Die Hardy, they use bullet points from the first movie like a template, reasoning that Action Movie Plus Die Hard Plot Template will equal Awesome.

Cab DRiverGoodness. An incredibly painful scene right at the beginning in which McClane bonds with a Russian version of Argyle The Limo Driver. This time it’s a taxi driver who talks like Yakov Smirnoff and who I swear to God sings a song to John after John’s sort of a dick to him. You see, John McClane has come to Moscow speaking not one word of Russian, so when people speak Russian, he smirks and rolls his eyes like when the Californians were freaking him out in the first one. Heh? HEH? See – it’s Die Hard!

That’s okay, says Yakov Argyle – I love Americans and I will sing you a song.

And. Then. He. Does.

Holy shit, I started crying. I understood that very basic screenplay structure dictated that Yakov Argyle would be back later to give John a convenient ride at some point when he needed it, but no. No, we never see Yakov Argyle again. John gets out of the taxi and then runs the rest of the way to the new, Russian screenplay on foot.

Then John McClane arrives at the Courthouse where they’re about to try his son in Russian Court. John notices some military vehicles, and says Hmmmmm. Then there’s either an attempt to rescue his son or an attempt to kill him, and no less than a couple hours after landing in Moscow with no plan at all, John McClane’s son trots right out in front of him.

Let’s have a big car chase, they all agree. And although it’s real mayhem, it’s not exciting and it’s stupid. John McClane Dies Easily in it a half dozen times, but they’re counting on the fact that since John McClane is always surviving ridiculous things, we’ll all be cool with him being totally indestructible. Did you know that there are very few Russian law enforcement officers? If you want to grab random, huge, unattended vehicles and then crash them all over Moscow, they don’t really have much of a system in place to address that.

Then they agree the car chase is over and head over to some building to wait for the rest of the movie to happen. A hilarious turn of character exposition puts them in the bad guys hands, at gunpoint, outnumbered, and although John McClane has not been talking all night by walkie talkie to the bad guys or hiding their detonators or saying “Yippe Ki-Yay, Motherfucker” to them, the head thug behaves as if he and John have a long and bitter rivalry.

VillainOne so long and bitter that instead of putting a bullet in the McClanes’ heads, he instead has to prance about in front of them going, “Welllllll, at last we have the mighty Chewbacca, you are not so tough, Mister American Cowboy, etc” while kicking and punching and whatnot. Meanwhile, John and his asshole son exchange knowing smirks, because they’re sneakily untying their ropes, freeing up their hands to kick some poorly choreographed ass.

It turns out that even though his father is world-renowned for saving literally millions of lives and publicly thwarting four elaborate terrorist attacks, his son doesn’t understand why he wasn’t around very much growing up, and makes a series of hilarious little girl noises about his rough upbringing, and then it turns out he’s CIA and McClane didn’t know that either. He notices if you’re smoking your cigarette like a European as opposed to an American, but nothing ever tipped him off over the years that his son was training for the CIA.

McClane’s not a fly in the ointment this time. He’s not a monkey in the wrench. He’s not an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. He’s a doddering old pain in his son’s ass.

Then it’s off to Chernobyl, where it turns out the Russian guy who took them there wasn’t really trying to do whatever the hell he said he was, he was trying to do something sinister. This is a big, huge surprise to everyone at the end of the movie, even though that’s always what happens at the end of the movie.

Then they shoot everybody and jump into a pool and don’t worry, because right away his super smart son tells us it’s just Chernobyl Rain Water, it’s not radioactive. In fact, there are virtually no radiation concerns at Chernobyl at all – Yay!!

Also, I’m not certain but Bruce Willis is either drunk the entire time he’s filming the movie, or he’s got early onset Alzheimer’s. And it’s an NRA commercial too, if that does anything for you. At the end of the movie is a ninety second scene of divorced John McClane bonding with his son and daughter, in case you were wondering what demographic they were shooting for.

Pretty easy to get upset with Die Hard at this point, because the other sequels are all pretty good by my notoriously low standards. I’m very, very easy to please when it comes with this stuff. For instance, would you like to watch Con Air with me? I swear to God, I’ll drop what I’m doing and watch Con Air with you right now if you want. That’s how low the bar is.

AlAs I’ve said before, the original Die Hard is a near perfect movie, with some truly hilarious-but-not-meant-to-be-hilarious character arcs, like how McClane’s wife learns that her career is dumb and she should have John’s name stamped on her head, and how Al Powell, through his friendship with McClane, learns to kill again.

We owe this franchise a mulligan. And we owe it to our children to see that they watch the first four all in one sitting and then go to Chuck E. Cheese or anyplace with a bouncy ball pit, see what happens. And we owe it to Die Hard to go and spend money seeing the next one, which if I’m not mistaken is going to be called Die Peacefully At Home, Surrounded By Loved Ones.

Thanks blogosphere. I wasn’t blogging back when I saw that, and I needed the time between then and now to sort out my feelings. And remember – just because you shot a kid a while ago who had a toy ray gun that looked real enough, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shoot anybody else ever again. Shit happens. Get back on that horse.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Television/Movies

 

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Blinding You With Science Class

french modelLet’s be very careful here. At first glance, this horrifying story brought to us by an alert but anonymous reader, looks like a trap.

As we know, sometimes the French model you met on the Internet is not a French model, and often snippets shared on Facebook can backfire on you. We all snap it up as evidence that someone (Sarah Palin, President Obama, the NRA, the Catholic Church) has said or done something unbelievably stupid, and then it turns out that the snippet is false, and now we’re the ones who look stupid for sharing it.

Like the other day I saw someone post a three year-old image of the Obamas saluting the flag with the wrong hand over their hearts. Further evidence that Obama hates America, was born in Kenya, wants to take your guns, and eats babies, yes?

No. All you have to do is google a couple of key phrases and you end up on Snopes.com, where the photo was debunked years ago. Apparently a similar photo was done of Tom Daschle back in 2003, but with less effort – his wedding ring was on the wrong hand, his buttons on his coat were on the wrong side – and so it was easy to see that it was simply a mirror image of a real photo.

The Obama image was also doctored, but far more carefully. They moved the ring, moved the buttons, and were in general very, very careful in putting together their destructive, anti-American lie which they then distributed around as evidence that the Obamas were destructive anti-Americans.

But they missed a few things – medals on a soldier’s coat in the background, the part in Michelle’s hair – and it became very easy to see that the image was mirrored and then photoshopped from a real picture of the Obamas with the correct hands over their hearts.

At a ceremony observing 9/11. That’s the level of reverence the photo-fixers have for America, dudes. They took a photo from a 9/11 ceremony, made a lie out of it, and then tons of Republicans snapped it up and made their hilarious Republican noises while they humped its leg.

Anyway, not too hard to get the truth out of it. Like taking toast from a hamster, one might say. So on that note, let’s be careful about this image, yes?

Science Quiz

Already I’m suspicious. I would expect a 4th grade science quiz to say the teacher’s name, or the chapter number, or practically anything except “4th Grade Science Quiz.” So my first impression of this was, “Probably not.”

Well, let’s see what Snopes has to say. Here’s their article on it, which has it still up in the air. They had the same obvious problems with it, but then they were contacted by someone who said he was the father of the student who took the test. This guy even provided the hilarious second page – which I got from google, not from Snopes, because Snopes sort of yells at us there about not taking their stuff. Calm down, Snopes, it’s not your quiz either, right?

Scienc Quiz page two

The questions and answers are face-palmers, that is for sure. The parent declined to reveal the school until the end of the year, for fear that the student would get suspended, or hollered at, or possibly burned at the stake as a witch, and I don’t blame him. But again, we’re suspicious, aren’t we? The mystery source of the mystery test from the mystery school.

Sure, but, I don’t think that we’re worried about this particular student; her dad already said he corrected the error – or ball of errors. I think that if you’re alarmed by this photo, you’re alarmed that it represents a real trend playing itself out in some rural schools like a live action Simpsons bit. Whether or not this particular test is real barely matters. What matters is, do people teach this at all?

In particular, that last question – What do you say when people claim the Earth is billions of years old? The accepted answer is “Were you there?”

Notice that the kid got a 100% but she forgot the question mark. Back in my day, we rode buses to school as opposed to dinosaurs, and we lost a little credit if we forgot punctuation marks. Still, one has to wonder – does anyone really think that’s a reasonable reply to someone claiming the Earth is billions of years old?

Yes. Ken Ham, for example – president and CEO (which cracks me up) of Answers In Genesis – US. That’s all he does is go around reminding people to ask scientists if they were there billions of years ago to verify the Earth’s age. And if you weren’t there, then I guess you’ll have to take Ken Ham’s word for it that it’s only a few thousand years old, even though you also weren’t there thousands of years ago, and neither was Ken Ham.

I love how Mister Ham gets defensive right off the bat on his website. The first Frequently Asked Question is Can Creationists Be Real Scientists? Mister Ham’s reply:

“Many secular and atheist groups mock Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum for not being scientific. However, some of the most influential scientists past and present have been and are creationists (see below).”

Comes right out and says he’s used to getting mocked, which is nice, and not just because it’s good to hear that folks are appropriately mocking him.

mad scientistIt’s also nice because there is only one type of scientist known for saying things like “They mocked me, thought I was mad, but I showed them, I showed them all!”

Well, that’s just mad scientists, right? Who else opens with that?

To be fair, he does show us a list of people who have degrees, and I think a list of people on your website is as good as peer review, isn’t it?

No, it’s really not. And also, you don’t find a lot of respected, peer-reviewed scientists headlining their work “Am I really a scientist? Or am I a hilarious nut case? Here’s a list of folks I know who will vouch for me.”

“Were you there?”

That’s the new Inherit the Wind moment? That’s your modern, philosophical stance?

SCIENCEWe don’t know because we weren’t there? Hell, we barely even know if there was a Holocaust by that version of the scientific method. Shit, you guys know there was a Holocaust, right? I’m not even going to google Mister Ham and The Holocaust, although if you’re starting a band, that’s what you should name it.

As for the specific test, I’m going to make a prediction, and we should find out more in June, when the Mystery Source reveals the Mystery School. I think the quiz is real, and that Mister Ham or someone like him has a general curriculum book out there with general tests and quizzes for anyone who wants to teach Christian Science, Ham-Style, and I think that’s why it’s so general – 4th Grad Science Quiz.

Do I think it’s a big deal? Not to me, I haven’t been writing checks to the Mystery School. But I’ll bet it’s a big deal to the Mystery Source. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Earlier: Kirk Cameron and the Art of Asshattery

 

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Let’s All Calm Down About Doctor Who

Futurama Doctor WhoThat should be easy for most of you, the ninety percent of you who not only are unaware there’s a modern incarnation of Doctor Who, but who seem to instinctively want nothing to do with it. Most folks think of the curly-haired dude from the seventies and they could maybe identify the T.A.R.D.I.S. if you showed them an image of it, but that’s it. Their eyes glaze over within several words – not only is this show about a time traveler, it’s freaking British.

Why must they have their own version of everything? And why do they always have to come up with their version first?

Anyway, I love that about Doctor Who. It seems to me, you need to get on board the show about a centuries-old time traveler who regenerates into different bodies as each actor gets tired of playing him, or you need to not get on board. If Doctor Who were a boat it would be a big, silly, outrageous boat with tea and ferris wheels and a Trekkie Convention on crack for a crew, and it would be very obvious to you just by looking at it if it was the kind of boat you would enjoy riding around on.

Don’t get on the boat and start bitching about the silliness. You get yourself a cup of tea and enjoy, or you get off the boat.

So most people stay away from it – cool. I don’t blame them, it’s utterly ridiculous. I can’t imagine how one could ever enjoy the show if one were to approach it with even a hint of cynicism. And so when I’m hanging around on the various Doctor Who Facebook Pages (you heard me), I’m always a little freaked out by all the bitching, especially with regards to the upcoming 50 Year Anniversary Episode.

I can’t imagine anyone reading this far and not knowing what the 50 Year Anniversary episode’s all about, but what the hell, some people are reading about my coffee and my car rides. Real quickly, the show has been off and on for fifty years and they’re on the Eleventh Doctor, meaning that’s how many different actors have played him. In the show, The Doctor gets injured really badly and as a Time Lord his body gets regenerated into a new actor by the vast and mystic energy that powers The T.A.R.D.I.S. Which again, the T.A.R.D.I.S. is his sentient time machine, shaped like a blue emergency Police Box, which is huge and possibly infinite inside. Has a swimming pool, for instance.

Okay, now that you are up to speed, all you need to know is that for the 50th Anniversary episode, they’re going to have various actors who have played The Doctor all interact, or possibly not, or possibly some of them. Here’s an article on The Guardian about all the rumors – Digging the dirt on the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Episode – and it seems clear that the producers are very cleverly dishing out a slew of conflicting rumors so as to render all rumors unreliable. That’s just the British, being smarter than us as usual.

But back to the actual Doctor Who fans. Good lord, you guys have to calm down and quit bitching about everything. Given how so many people find it simply impossible to even discuss the show, and given how culty and low-budget it used to be, we should kissing Steven Moffat’s ass, and BBC’s ass, and anyone else’s ass who is keeping this train running.

Yes, I know, we’re the viewers and we keep it running too. But they don’t always listen to us – have we forgotten all about Firefly? We need to Get. Behind. Our guy.

Comic Book GuyInstead it’s like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons used the Immortality Gate that The Master hijacked in “The End of Time” to turn everyone on Earth into himself, you know, when the Tenth Doctor got to spend a bit strolling through a Green Day video before regenerating into the Eleventh? Except instead of everyone turning into the Master and mocking The Doctor, you’re all turning into the Comic Book Guy, and you’re mocking me.

Honestly, how do you watch the show, come up with a laundry list of things you hate, and then watch it again? River Song is long gone, you’re still bitching about River Song?

Oh, I hate the new Companion because she’s too young and cute (just admit it, that’s what you’re all saying, I see you).

It’s not dark enough. It’s not scary enough. It makes my eyes roll. It’s too dark. It’s too bright.

Pretty soon, I’m hearing complaints that sound an awful lot like “Yeah, like that could ever happen” or “That doesn’t make any sense” or “That was dumb.”

I mean again, the whole show is utterly ridiculous. The cheerful lunacy of it is what I like, that’s part of the appeal. They can go anywhere, do anything, there are no boundaries to the show at all. Here’s how I approach it – the writers tell me what happened, and I say, “Oh. Huh. How about that?”

I honestly don’t know how you can watch the show without pretending you’re a sheep and simply following the wacky goat. The goat does fail me sometimes, but I love that goat. We’ve had some awesome times together, me and the goat.

John Barrowman, for example, who plays omnisexual immortal Captain Jack Harkness, has reported that he won’t be in the 50th because he wasn’t asked. And he really, really wants to be in the episode. Again, we have no idea if this is part of the rumor manipulation they’re doing, no idea. He could pop up in the episode or he could be telling the truth.

LaForgeBut you know, it’s like a Star Trek movie where the only way the whole cast will agree to be in it is if their characters all get equal screen time, so they have to think up shit for Geordi LaForge and Deanna Troi to do. Let’s have them turn LaForge’s contact lenses into Google glasses! Deanna, you take a bath and then get drunk down on Earth!

It gets clunky and in the way, and it seems to me they know what they’re doing. They have enough problems trying bring various Doctors and Companions together, and I don’t want to demand they include certain characters having no idea what they’re up to.

Whatever you’re cooking, make sure it has trout in it! And marshmallows! And it better be good!

That doesn’t make any sense. They’re working, in there. You guys got to shut up and give them a little room.

It seems silly to have to point out that the Fifty Year Anniversary Episode you are attempting to micromanage from your couch is the Fifty Year Anniversary Episode. Why don’t you go tell the boys at Jameson how to make Irish whiskey? Settle down, all right?

Okay, now I’m sorry I hollered at you. Let’s just all remember that words hurt and folks are busy. Mmm-kay?

Mmm-kay.

PS – if you want a bunch of hilarious Doctor Who links on your newsfeed, then go to this guy’s Facebook page right here. Now keep your bitching to yourself, the new episode is on in a little bit, and if you’re going to yell at me in the comment section, do so with a British accent or I shall ignore you.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Television/Movies, Uncategorized

 

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Coffee and News, Volume One

coffeeHave to do some Actual, Publishing-Related Writing today, so we’re just going to drink coffee and check out the news and then skedaddle. Believe it or not, nobody wants to publish a book of me being silly and taking pictures and driving cars. Fifty Shades of Tom? Nope – no takers, and a pretty misleading title, is the consensus.

Okay so on over to CNN, where we learn that the Bomber Whose Name I’m Not Going To Memorize And Who I’m Not Going To Call “Alleged” is moving to a different hospital. This one’s in a prison, I think, and he had some oatmeal and farted a little. Later we’ll watch him go to the bathroom, and then we’ll call his mom again and ask her if she ever saw him make any bombs. Maybe she’ll crack.

Anything not bomb-related? Well, sort of. Here’s a helpful article called Signs Your Loved One Has A Secret Life. I’ll bet that one’s going to come in handy. It’s chock full of helpful tips like:

“These (signs) include, but are not limited to: moody outbursts, paranoia, hidden financial transactions, increasing extremism, emotional abandonment and complaints of feeling victimized.”

HeisenbergAwesome. Thank God we read this article, or we wouldn’t know what to do with perplexing signs like “increasing extremism” or “hidden financial transactions,” which I guess aren’t quite so hidden that you don’t know about them. I think they forgot to put Secret Bomb-Making on the list, but still very helpful. Thanks, News Dudes!

Later they talk about Ruth Madoff, who extra super definitely did NOT know her husband was running a multi-billion dollar shell game. If I were writing headlines, I think I would have called this one On Plausible Deniability or What To Expect When Your Loved One Is Indicted.

Everyone’s all mad at Gwyneth Paltrow either for being too pretty, for not being pretty enough, for being mistaken for the Prettiest Girl In The World, or something. It seems like people have been mad at Gwyneth since I first saw her. I’m sure she’s used to it.

An odd concept, this Prettiest Girl In The World. Like when someone asks you, “What’s the best movie ever?”

That’s dumb. Because you can take your favorite movie, watch it ten times, and unless there’s something wrong with your brain, you’d rather watch something else now. It’s not your favorite movie if you’d rather watch something else. Which is why everyone’s mad at the magazine, and then the folks who are mad at Gwyneth are just mad because she’s Gwyneth Paltrow.

Wiggum undercoverOkay, let’s go on over to The Huffington Post, see what they’re leading with. It’s a story called Dial M For Messed Up, and it’s all about police posing as stolen iPhone vendors. They walk around telling people they have stolen iPhones and then if you buy one, a couple other cops arrest you.

I’m not sure why that’s messed up, let me just read further. Okay, the cops say that people wouldn’t “apple pick” if there was no market for the stolen iPhone. Apple picking is when you get your iPhone yoinked right out of your hand while you’re looking at it, someone just snags it and then hops off the subway car just as it starts moving, or bolts off into a crowd.

“We’re cutting the head off the serpent!” Says one cop. Shut up, dude, you guys say that about everything, it’s your favorite thing to say.

Still, I don’t think you should buy stolen iPhones, I’m kind of for this. Ah, the defense attorneys say that people are just looking for good deals on iPhones and have no intention of committing a crime until the cops create one. Yes, of course, buying an iPhone on the street from a stranger with a bag full of them – innocent as Judy Garland and a box of cookies.

Well, whatever. We’ll let the courts sort that one out, they’re good at doing that very, very slowly.

Meanwhile, let’s see what local news website 10tv.com is reporting. Ah – 16 Charged as part of Drug Crackdown on OSU Campus.

Hmm, undercover cops managed to buy pretty much every drug I can think of from not-very-well-trained drug dealers, who apparently just break off a chunk of meth to whoever walks up to them and asks for it.

She's the SheriffI remember when I was at OSU the cops had this terrifying undercover female cop who was very cute and also twenty years old. She’d just walk up to keg parties, ask the dudes for a beer, and once she got one (approximately one hundred percent of the time) the cops would swarm the place Miller’s Crossing-style.

Say boys, what’s the rumpus?

And notice their big sting was right around Earth Day. Good work, boys. Nothing trains people to be good drug dealers quite like rounding up the careless ones.

All right, and that’s it, coffee’s gone and I’m gone. See you tomorrow.

 

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Lurking Around In Zanesville

All right, listen I’m sorry I hollered at you yesterday. Sometimes I get into the whiskey and it makes me a little froggy in my bloggy. Here’s an ice cream cone.

Look – we’re going to Zanesville!

Road To Zanesville

Yep, seven o’clock in the morning, and we’re on the open road, headed for the Muskingum County Courthouse, home of the dude who set his own personal collection of zoo animals free into the wilderness a few years back, then killed himself, and cops had to chase his zoo animals all over the county. Obviously, that’s not how they word it on the sign coming into Zanesville, but if I run into the guy who orders the signs, I’ll run it up the old flag pole.

Zanesville is best described as lumpy, like they built the town on a giant, horribly messed-up bed. It’s old, too, and looks sleepy. A lot of lawyers, oddly.

Do you think this sign is at all confusing?

Shoppers Only

I am pretty sure they can’t write me a ticket for failure to shop. This seems pretty unenforceable. So I think the sign is saying, don’t drive into Zanesville and park your car and then just expect to lurk around, doing nothing at all. Because that seems like an obviously cool, fun thing to do, and I’ll bet people are always trying that.

Well, fortunately, I’m a guy who likes to lurk. Let’s go on inside and lurk around the Courthouse. The way I see it, if you’re going to hang around someplace, Security should know about you. You got to keep them on their toes.

I always try to walk into a Courthouse like I’m there to put the SYSTEM ON TRIAL. Make some noise with my heels – click, click, click.

Holy Christmas! Look at this!

Cake Auction

That’s today! There’s a cake auction today!

That thing on the wall of the elevator is talking about real cake. We could go bid on a cake – that’s all I’m saying. Jeez.

All right, third floor, this is weird. We come out into a plain hub office that’s full of stacked boxes. People are working in an area ahead of us, but we’ll follow the arrow for the Engineer’s office and there’s this hallway. Very quiet, completely empty, and with an Exit Sign clearly marked ahead.

Hallway

A little blurry, I know. I am as you are aware, pretty easily freaked out. Because look – there are little white signs on every other door in the hallway. Guess what they say.

Not An Exit

Every door. Every door that isn’t an exit has one of these signs, clarifying that it is not, in fact, an exit.

So again, when people start putting up signs, there’s been a problem, like folks are always yanking random doors open around here. Hey, is this how I get outside? NO!

And these people have put signs up on everything. Look, here’s a fire extinguisher:

Fire Extinguisher

See? In case you didn’t know what it is. And that door next to it is not an exit, so don’t screw around with it.

Damn, fellas.

Fine – we’ll just go down to the map room at the end of the hall, but it turns out. We’re early. We need to kill twenty minutes, and I can’t think of a better way to do it than lurking. People think that lurking is just standing still but no, you can lurk in motion, you just do it slowly and dart your eyes around. Some people coming, voices from the workplace.

Let’s duck into the elevator and wait – there’s a door next to the elevator and it doesn’t say one way or the other whether or not it’s an exit. We’ll have to yank that open and:

Closet (2)

Some kind of utility closet. I swear I’m going to stand here for a few seconds thinking about how entertaining it would be to get in the closet and start shouting, pretending to have gotten trapped in it. They should put up a sign!

No, let’s get out of here, people don’t like it when you’re poking around government buildings for no reason. We’ll go lurk out front and maybe there’s a cart where you can get a hot dog with an egg on it or something. Aw dammit.

Basement

Where the hell are we? I’m not going back in the elevator, screw that but here are some stairs, a whole bunch of them. Two office ladies coming down, talking about someone named Mike. Sounds like Mike freaks them out a little bit. On up and here we are on a balcony overlooking the main atrium:

Atrium

A little blurry, but we can see there’s some stuff down there to look at. Let’s go on down, take a look, try and be calm when we’re snapping pictures from now on. It’s just a blog, Tom, relax. Do your breathing.

Hmm, here’s a table with some stuff on it in front of the Seal of Ohio, and is it religious stuff? Yes! It is, which is fine with me. It looks like the ACLU has already been by and made them take down their Buddy Jesus statue or whatever, and so instead there’s a table and it happens to have a religious book open on it. I don’t think that’s a Bible.

Religion

Oh, I see, it’s The Bible In One Year. Huh. Okay, and the desk calendar also has religious stuff scrawled all over it; I can tell it’s religious because of all the colons. Personally, I don’t care if you want to put religious stuff in courthouses, mostly because I’m lazy and indifferent. But I know the ACLU loves going around picking on small town courthouses in the middle of recessions. Aw well – sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.

I guess the idea is, when the ACLU comes by they’re like, hmm, I don’t know who left that there, go ahead and take that away. And then they have a whole box of books and calendars in the back, that’s what they do at parties, scrawl on calendars.

Okay, getting creeped out, let’s head over here and check out this bell in this glass case.

Old Bell

That piece of paper hanging on it looks like it was typed decades ago, and it explains that the bell was the original town bell, and that it donged when someone died and when there was an emergency and when the Civil War started. The paper explains that the bell was brought here by boat from somewhere and then carted up through town and that it’s a very, very special old bell.

So they keep it in a glass box tucked away behind this shiny, new, prettier bell in a beam of light at the center of the Courthouse.

New Bell

It’s a replica of some other bell. Man, you guys sure love that old bell, don’t you?

All right, starting to get the old Eyeball from folks. Let’s get up to the map room, hand a guy a piece of paper that we are not allowed to FedEx, and then seriously, get back in the car and drive back to Columbus. We’ll just blog about that.

 

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A Word About Drone Strikes

televisionIf the way you approach news is, you let your television barf into your brain and then you run around rebarfing whatever collection of sounds you heard out into the ears or onto the screens of anyone within your actual or digital reach, then you’ve probably been doing a lot of hand-wringing and lamenting about how Obama thinks he can drone strike you while you play cornhole.

Or perhaps you think that background checks would be a violation of your Second Amendment rights. (No, and I dare you to make me explain that to you).

Both of these things are clearly, demonstrably false. If you’re still saying them, then you’re wrong (best case), not very bright (sorry) or lying (Why?).

Most of the people I know fall under the first category – you’re simply uninformed. But you know, in the Internet Age, you shouldn’t be staying uninformed very long. Your convictions are pretty meaningless if you aren’t checking into them to verify their validity, or if you simply stick your fingers into your ears when someone calmly and efficiently explains to you that you’re wrong. That’s how convictions turn into lies and delusions.

Here’s an article on Forbes entitled Rand Paul Shockingly Now Supports The Use Of Drones On US Soil To Kill Americans-So What Was That Filibuster Thing All About? I’m not crazy about the unreasonably long title, but there, we get some quotes from Rand Paul, who famously filibustered old-school about Eric Holder’s announcement that sure, it was POSSIBLE Obama could order a drone strike on US citizens on US soil.

PresidentOf course, if you continue Holder’s paragraph, you’ll find that he was talking about extraordinary circumstances in which there’s not only a clear and present danger to national security, but also one in which all levels of local, state and federal law enforcement have somehow failed or are unable to address the threat, leaving the President in the weird, barely-precedented position of having to command the US military to enforce the laws. Holder specifically held up 9/11 and Pearl Harbor as instances of extraordinary circumstances.

So Rand Paul filibustered – not the normal Republican way, where they hold up a Filibuster Card and then nobody filibusters, we all just agree they extra super duper would have – but actually by talking. Admirable, except a great thing to talk about would have been the end of Eric Holder’s pargraph, which addresses every single problem Rand Paul has with drone strikes on US citizens.

In fact the article lays out clarifying statements by Paul to Fox News (surprise) in which he says, well, I never said drones were bad, I would love to see a drone shoot a liquor store robbery suspect just as much as I’d love to see a cop shoot one. Cause he’s all for the Second Amendment, not so much for the Fourth. The Bill of Rights is like a salad bar, yes?

And then later he clarifies his situation by explaining:

““My comments last night left the mistaken impression that my position on drones had changed, Let me be clear: it has not. Armed drones should not be used in normal crime situations. They only may only be considered in extraordinary, lethal situations where there is an ongoing, imminent threat. I described that scenario previously during my Senate filibuster.”

Which. Is. What. Holder. Said. In. The. First Place.

Rand Paul was the one talking about drones-n-liquor store robberies.

Nonetheless, millions of Americans are still carping about how Obama wants to drone strike them. And it’s in on this leg of our journey that one moves from “mistaken” or “uninformed” to “not very bright” or “lying.”

You know what’s funny is, I am all for drone strikes in the outrageous scenario Holder was talking about. We know the President can order nuclear strikes for instance, missile strikes. He can send a team of Navy SEALs to put a bullet in your head.

Ah, but not US Citizens – not on US soil, right?

Well, why not? I mean, certainly not under normal circumstances, but Holder and Paul both agree, in extraordinary circumstances like 9/11, where there is an imminent threat, things change. What if terrorists hijacked another airplane full of civilians and they were headed for downtown New York again. We had six minutes to shoot it down before it got over the city.

Don’t you think the President can have that plane shot down? Don’t you think he should? Or do you figure – post 9/11 – that the terrorists are bluffing?

Suppose the Boston bombers were holed up somewhere, still lighting off bombs like Dr. Claw. They’re US citizens on US soil – can we drone strike them, or do we have to lose a few SWAT guys getting in the door? Why would Obama be ordering such a strike – well, Holder explained that he wouldn’t be, unless somehow every other branch of law enforcement failed.

A zombie apocalypse erupts in Hawaii, and there’s no way to contain it – isn’t it time for a nuclear strike on civilians on US soil? I mean, zombies are technically possible, they’re just very, very, very unlikely.

Holder’s problem was he answered the question too accurately – Sure, it’s technically POSSIBLE in the right set of crazy ass circumstances – when he should have realized he was talking to a vast army of flipper-whacking seal people and simply said “No! Never forget 9/11! Go Bucks!”

Mission AccomplishedLike when Bush told us the terrorists “hated freedom” and that’s why they attacked us. Yes, talk to us like we’re toddlers, we love that.

Now suddenly Paul’s saying drones are cool for shooting robbery suspects, then clarifying that he was not, then agreeing with Eric Holder. In his filibuster, he was bullshitting us, plain and simple, and millions of people slurped it up like pigs at a trough.

I hate to be blunt, and I hate to call so many people morons, but the information is right in front of you, and you’re choosing to bark out the lies. You’re choosing to, so that’s on you.

I’m not even going to argue about it. Go on over and yell at the Forbes article – I just think it’s funny. The last election showed very clearly what happens if conservatives keep running the same play. Even with a struggling economy and billions upon billions of dollars against him, Obama handed Romney his ass in the most humiliating and hilarious way.

What we have here in Rand Paul is a nice new Tea Party Ralph Nader, eager to hamstring the right-wing and hand over the House to the liberals in 2014. Is that really what you guys want? Or do you think maybe you ought to start giving your fellow citizens a little more credit, and dialing down the jackassery a little bit? If Romney couldn’t win, there’s no way this guy will – ah, but he’ll drag the rest of you down, even the ones who are smart.

Well go right ahead, that’s my thinking – I’m certainly not going to stop him.

 

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Action Blogging, Volume Three

The problem is twofold. Fifty percent of the problem is that I’m busy, and fifty percent of the problem is that it’s a beautiful day on Earth. Hop in my pocket, because we’re going to blog in the car (which we are NOT supposed to do) and then we’re going to be done by the time I get to my desk. That’s it, that’s the blogging window. Steer for me, will you? I have to type.

I will tell you, I forgot how much of a pain in the ass this can be. Blogging when you don’t feel like blogging and instead want to curl up with your blanky and some hot chocolate and watch Family Feud. Don’t be alarmed, I’m just going to bang my face against the steering wheel until it stops whining.

Whoa, that was quick. Can you guess how much the driver of the car ahead of us loves Catholic Radio?

kindred spirit

Why is it in black and white? I don’t know, I did it accidentally while blurring out the license plate number, which took me long enough to figure out, so black and white is fine.

And the answer is four, that’s how much the driver of the car loves Catholic Radio. Four Units. Those suckers are straight, someone took a little time and applied those bumper stickers, one at a time until there were four of them on there. This boggles my mind, I’m getting worried about this person up here.

Let’s cut behind Kroger and get across Frantz and park and get inside.

You gotta bring all your crap inside with you, even in the middle of Dublin. They keep sending me emails about stuff getting stolen, people leaving things in clear view. GPS units, files with personal information, we can’t leave anything in here, nothing on the seats, it all goes inside and briefcases are for squares so this is going to be awkward.

Holy shit!

The Duck

This duck is hissing at me. Like, walking toward me, hissing like it thinks it’s a king cobra. Hey, screw you duck, get over here I’ll take your picture. I’m pretty sure I can take this duck if it comes down to it, but cooler heads prevail. Inside we go.

Into the elevator, and this time it’s empty but don’t start screwing around or disco dancing or whatever the kids do these days. In my building, during business hours there is a solid chance some maintenance guys are watching you on a monitor someplace. They tell me there’s an awful lot of male flexing going on in solo elevator rides, so just be aware. They say most dudes are really checking themselves out. Women on the other hand tend to use the time to check their teeth and look at phones and fix what appear to be wedgies.

Me, I just hang out and look for nose hairs, then forget about them when the doors open. Really, if you think about it, nose hairs are kind of everybody else’s problem. Other times I just stand there and try to look as cool as possible so the maintenance guys will be like, “That guy is rad, man.”

ElevatorSee? Hi dudes. The doors are big, blurry, metallic mirrors, so that’s why people are flexing and nose hair hunting and checking their teeth.

There are a lot of things you can do in here when there are people. I was born without a sense of smell (really, it’s called anosmia), so there’s not much more hilarious to me than flatulence in an elevator. I can make a pretty convincing Who Farted face, nobody can prove anything.

One time Fourth Degree Comic Black Belt Mike Rothe and I were in an elevator full of students on campus, and the power went out briefly, maybe six seconds. And when it came back on, Mike clutched at his throat and hollered “my jewels!”

But MIke spent several years in Tibet living among the monks, watching nothing but Looney Toons and old episodes of Police Squad! Legally, he isn’t allowed to crack jokes around people without training anymore, because he can actually kill you.

Most of us have to operate under simpler guidelines. Like farting, for instance. It’s funny, and anyone can do it at home.

Anyway, people really don’t like that. They also don’t like it if you pretend you’re Morpheus and tell them there are Agents coming and that they have to do exactly as you say or they’ll never get out of the building. I mean, man – they don’t like that at ALL. It turns out, there’s sort of a law against that. Live-n-learn, I reckon.

What I don’t like is when people talk on their phones in the elevator. Five people on there, you’re just spewing your conversation all over everybody like barf. (Man, this one’s gross, sorry about that). Anyway, what you do is you get out your own phone, begin having a much louder conversation, and then slowly sync it up to his so you’re answering his questions or asking followups to whatever he’s answering. If you can, fart. (Damn, sorry dudes, seriously, I don’t know what’s going on.)

Come here and look at this. That’s where we came in down there.

Down

Tom. Does Not. Like This.

Okay down this hallway here, past the front desk, tasty coffee, watch the television for a minute while they building a freaking media shrine to the dick who blew people up in Boston. Oh, they’re chasing one of the widows around, for crying out loud. I would like the reporters to put on big, brown bird suits and squawk like crows while they did that if it’s not too much trouble.

Sometimes there are cupcakes in here, but not today.

All right, blog’s over. Time to get to work. Let’s put up our feet and get on Facebook.

shoes2

 
 

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