Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Action!

Once again, it's time for another movie dredged up from the annals of my benignly neglectful childhood. Zabriskie Point was the third movie directed by Michelangelo Antonioni under contract for producer Carlo Ponti. The other two were Blow Up and The Passenger, both just as interesting for their bizarrely fabulous interpretations of 1960s counterculture.

Zabriskie Point is considered one of the greatest disasters in all of movie history (Pauline Kael called it a crumbling ruin of a movie; Roger Ebert said the only appropriate reaction should be pity), and certainly one has to wonder if Antonioni was even being serious. Blow Up, made four years prior, is considered one of the best films ever made. How, then, to explain Zabriskie Point?

You got me. Still, I love it, never mind its earnestly dumb, anti-American Leftist sentiments (which prompted FBI presence throughout the movie's filming) or its grubby Death Valley orgy scene, which, when my parents dragged us to see it ("Don't worry," my father assured my mother, "the kids will sleep right through it."), prompted my mother to bust out in hysterical laughter, my brother to shout out, "Look, daddy! Boobies!" and my father to clamp his hands over my eyes, but not before one singular thought ran through my toddler brain, "Yew. Hippies."

The movie is also famous for its closing scene, the symbolic destruction of American material culture set to Pink Floyd, fodder for stoners every where to fire up and trip out to a full seven minutes of ketchup bottles and kitchen table legs slow mo flung against the bright blue desert sky. Totally rad, man. I mean, if you're a hippie.

Check out more "action" over at Boxer's Place:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Boxer!

There are many things that are much easier to do as an adult than as a child. Like drinking, shopping at Bergdorf's, or breaking the speed limit in a vehicle larger than a Big Wheel. But making friends? That's pretty hard to do once we grow up. I mean, when was the last time you walked up to an interesting-looking person in the grocery store and asked, "Does your mom let you play Barbies after school?"

As we slip from childhood into adulthood, chances are, our childhood pals slip away as well. Some of them move away. Or they marry men we can't stand or women who can't stand us or they adopt weird political stances or wear funny hats.

The people I still know from my youth? I can count them on one hand. And on one finger the one with whom I'm in regular contact, and that's via email (the rest of you? call me, you bums). Which is why I'm so thankful that through this mess of a blob of mine I've met a few folks upon whose forehead I can stamp the word, "Friend."

Boxer is one of them. In the two-plus years since we first met through an on-line writing contest, we have traveled together and laughed over the phone together, and shot emails back and forth together about everything from Pee Wee Herman to the travails of raising elderly parents to finding the perfect LBD for dinner.

Today, Boxer celebrates a Big Birthday, and I want to both congratulate and thank her. For being such an awesome person, for moving through this world with such wit and grace, and for being someone who is now indelibly inked into the fabric of my life.

Happy Birthday, Boxer, you fabulous friend, you!

On We Sweep With Threshing Oar

While everyone was busy getting their underpants in a twist over health care reform these past several months, our Supreme Leader Barry O'Bummer and his Demobots quietly approved the Patriot Act for another year, all without the provisions that would have protected we the people against its more Draconian measures.

Don't get me wrong. There is no doubt in my mind that there are plenty of yippee skippy jihadists who will stop at nothing to serve our collective heads on a platter with an ice cold glass of goat's milk. Of all this planet's fundamental religions, I find Islam to be the most egregious, although I guess you'd have to give its leaders brownie points for at least being honest and upfront about their brutalities.

That being said, I also believe that there is no way we or our government can protect for every possible horror or tragedy that comes down the pike, whether that be tragedy be a hurricane, sudden onset of cancer, or a terrorist act. I'd rather pay my money, keep my liberties, and take my chances that the laws under our Constitution will do their best.

The Patriot Act is, quite simply, not only unnecessary, it is breathtakingly, shamefully, anti-civil libertarian. And I blame its existence squarely on George "Not a Conservative" Bush. For there hasn't been a president in recent decades more gleeful to clothe the demon of Big Government in the filmy garment of the all caring, ever protective Nanny State. Only this nanny also wears jack boots and waves a bible.

Then came Barry O, with his sharp suited sexy swagger antidote to white male corporate oppression and, golly gee, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief ring from sea to shining sea: Yes, we can all be free at last.

Except there's just one problem. I have long suspected that our democratic leaders never have been, certainly are not now, and most likely never will be, truly concerned with protecting civil liberties. Recently, I read a very astute article confirming that suspicion.

Civil Liberties in Obama's America, outlines why, historically, democrats have been more than happy to sell our civil liberties down the river just as much as the republicans. Because their agendas are the same: advancing a police state of one form or another.

The article is a little long, but if you're truly tired of cringing in the corner with your thumb in your mouth, while all around you Sieg Heil-ed chants of, "Yes we can," chip away at what remains of your sanity, grab a cup of something and dig in.

Here are a couple highlights:

. . . most of the left does not see conscription as slavery, nor taxation as theft, nor aggressive war as murderous. And this cuts to the core of the problem with leftist civil libertarianism. It is almost always based on a tissue of incoherencies. This is what we must explain to those genuinely disappointed with Obama, who authentically believe that the right to a trial or a right to free speech is more important than a right to a free lunch. . . . leftism cannot sustain and defend civil liberties, since true civil liberties are bound up with the ethics and logic of private property.

When a left-liberal friend expresses disappoint with Obama's war on the Bill of Rights, just note that it was inevitable . . . Leftists will have to make a choice -- bail on their civil libertarianism, as most did under FDR, defending Japanese Internment and national command economics, or bailing on their dream of creating social paradise, or even fostering society, through the violent means of central planning.

. . . and although I am pessimistic we will break most of Obama's groupies out of the hypnotic delusions of his professorial and literate American Idol authoritarianism, we will convince some, even many, one by one, to abandon the rot of soft socialism that has plagued the American left since World War I, and instead embrace the only ethic that can morally transcend Bush's and Obama's dungeons, wiretaps and crackdowns on dissent: The ethic of anti-state libertarianism grounded in private property. And as they come in, one by one, let us welcome them with open arms as we do our slow and uphill work to bring the police state down.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bad Spellers of the World Untie

And leave the protest in the hands of those of us who can actually read, write, and do our arithmetic.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Favorite Animation

The Triplets of Belleville has to be one of the most charming movies ever made. If you haven't seen it, put it in your queue immediately. A film as effervescent and irresistible as a glass of pink champagne, I challenge you to even try to be in a bad mood after seeing it. It's mostly a silent film in that there's very little dialog – just lots of sound effects and music. Here are two of my favorite scenes.

The triplets "then."

And "now."

Check out other animated gems over at Boxer's Place:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Best Death Scene

Hey, I'm in a bitchy mood today. This week. This month. Hell, the next three years if these zombies in Washington don't just go ahead and die already!

For more Best Death Scene Moments, hop on over to Boxer's place.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Snowed Under

Literally and figuratively. It's the 15th of March, Party People, and we have 12 new inches of snow on the ground. S.B. and I did a 14-mile run yesterday, so snowshoeing the trails with the dogs on top of that this morning, followed by the fact that I will also have to spend all day at my desk chasing deadlines, means it's a good thing I can only wear boots right now. Heels, and my muscles just might stop working entirely.

What's it doing out your way? Someone, please, tell me that the sun is shining somewhere.

Oh, and one more thing: Can we all just follow Arizona's lead and give this Daylight Savings thing a rest already?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

No Visible Means of Support

I’ve been thinking a lot about health care lately, specifically why the Republitards and Who-Us-Worry?-Independents haven’t been able to form a cogent argument against the bill currently festering in Washington.

I think that’s because while everyone is arguing the particulars, no one is arguing the truth or fallacy of the basic idea bolstering this particular attempt at reform. And that basic idea is the assumption that health care is a right. You know, on par with life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and all that.

But is it?

Under the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights as established by the founding framers of our government, a right is something guaranteed to an individual regardless of social status, gender, religion, economic position, and choice of footwear. Furthermore, your right to your life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, free speech, self defense, etc., are yours regardless of who is in power, whether communist, fascist, democratic, or dumb ass. Which means a right is not reducible, divisible, refutable, assailable, or dependent upon the good graces of any other individual, institution, or governmental body. Most importantly, rights are not granted at the expense of the life and liberty of another individual or group of individuals.

In other words, when it comes to rights, you can't rob Peter to pay Paul. That's called stealing.

So, if we take this particular assumption to be true – and we have to, because it’s the law of our land and if we are anything, we are a country of laws, regardless of how long ago they were written – how then does health care qualify as a right?

If our government were to try to guarantee each of us the right to health care or the right to cheap health care insurance (which has about as much to do with health care as my box of Band-Aids, but apparently our oh-so-wise-leaders think otherwise) they would have to do a whole lot of fancy footwork to force others to guarantee that right.

Step 1. Usurp the salary of your neighbor down the block in the form of new taxes; Step 2. Force doctors regardless of ability or knowledge to lower their rates; Step 3. Mandate your insurance company to cover everyone, even those with terminal illnesses and pre-existing conditions, thus not only causing a rise in rates for you, a healthy client, but also usurping the right of a private business to conduct business the way it sees fit. That's called extortion.

But, you say, health care is imperative to live. Well, I say, so is bread. And quite possibly chocolate cake. Are you going to demand that the government guarantee each household in this country a certain number of loaves of bread and cake each week and force bakers to do so at cut rate prices while working longer hours?

And I know I wouldn’t be able to live long in winter without heat; should I lobby my congressman to demand our government provide us with free heating oil, gas, and electric? Screw the companies who provide it – they should be forced to do so for the “common good.” There's that extortion thing again.

Is it just me, or is our government beginning to look more and more like the Mafia?

Anyway. I don't see how you can crack the barn door and not expect the horses to do nothing more than stick the points of their noses through. We either decide we are a country individuals free to make our own way, free to take responsibility for our lives and those of our families and loved ones, free to ask for help and free to give it, OR we decide we are a country of victims who in lieu of striving and creating, demand to have everything handed to us and enslave ourselves and our neighbors in order to do so.

I don’t see an in between. If you do, tell me. I’d love to know what it is.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Culinary THROW DOWN: Pepperoni

As the winner of last month's Culinary Throw Down, Miss Kym had the honor of choosing this month's theme. I would have bet the dogs she'd pick potatoes, but no. She picked. Pepperoni. Which is a head scratcher on the surface, but also very clever. At least as far as I'm concerned, because I really had to stretch myself to come up with something other than pizza or pepperoni and cheddar on a Ritz and call it a day.

So, this is what I came up with. An Italian-esque version of the Vietnamese sandwich, Banh Mi. Which I love, not only because they're super duper delicious and large enough to feed two people (which means one Moi), but always for some reason the least expensive thing on the menu. Which means if you're super hungry but super skint, skip MacDonald's and head towards your local Vietnamese restaurant. I've had Banh Mi at five different places in ABQ, and none of them are priced over $3.50.

Anyway, back to my pepperoni-ied version:


French baguette, split in half lengthwise.
Soft cheese of your choice
1 T. mayo
1 T. yomato pesto
Roasted red peppers
Italian yellow pepper
Fresh basil


Mix together mayo and pesto and spread on one side of the baguette. Then cut everything up and layer on top as shown. Slice in half and eat!

Taste verdict: Partly sunny. As I've mentioned on a couple posts, I was hoping that because pepperoni is a cured pork sausage, it would act similar to bacon in its ability to jazz things up a bit. Not really. I could taste the pepperoni just fine, but it wasn't music in my mouth, if you know what I mean. Not like if it had been bacon or bbq pork. Or beef tongue. Hmmmm . . . now that's an idea . . .

This month's Throw Down also included the directive to post photos of our kitchens. Here are a couple of mine:

(Induction is the way to GO, baby.)

Also, Kym is judging this time around, so if you're playing, head on over to her place, say I'm up, and we'll all be around to visit!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Oscar Winners

I love to hate this movie with every fiber of my being.

For more Oscar Winner choices, hop on over to Boxer's place.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How It's Done

From the beginning, I was an American Idol fan. That's because from the beginning, the show put its mouth where its money was and actually plucked a bona fide singing star out from among the hoi polloi.

In spite of all the subsequent hype and the hoopla – the gossip over Paula Abdul's mental capacity, the barbs aimed at Simon's Big Blue Meanie demeanor – each season the show manages to bring an unknown talent or two to light. The fact that a huge contingent of teenyboppers most likely control the outcome is beside the point. Besides, those teenyboppers put an unlikely Taylor Hicks through a couple years back, and although he has since proved himself rather dim, that was surely unprecedented, given the other fresh faced cuties in the competition. And you don't have to win Idol to become a star, either, as the multi-talented Jennifer Hudson has proven.

Still, my favorite remains the very first Idol ever. In my humble opinion, Kelly Clarkson has one of the most nimble voices in pop music today. To the point where anyone else attempting to do one of her songs can only fail miserably, as one of the contestants did on last night's Idol. It's really hard to beat this:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Best Comedy Scene

Kevin Smith isn't much of a director, tech-wise. His movies always have about them a kind of amateur art house pall, as if he's using film stock that's sat in his father's basement since 1972.

What he is, though, is one hell of a funny writer, capable of transforming the minutiae of day-to-day middle class American life into pee-your-pants funny vignettes of the human condition. Anyone who's seen it will probably agree that his first film, Clerks, is one of the all time comedy greats. And while the follow up, Clerks 2, is just a wee bit over-striding, it's riddled with some very funny moments.

Like this one. I don't know who this kid is, but he's a comedic genius.

For more funny moments, hop on over to Boxer's place.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Venus and Mars Are On a Late Flight

I’ve always been a sucker for a man with an accent. Which is probably not unusual, as far as fetishes go, although I wouldn’t necessarily call it that so much as I’d call it a survival strategy. Long ago, I realized, the bigger the accent on the man, the less my chances for fully understanding just what in the hell it is he's saying and therefore the greater our chances for the long term without one of us smushing a grapefruit in the other's face. I don't care what the studies say; the less communication in a marriage, the better.

Witness the first several years of my and S.B.’s courtship: he’d open his mouth, something southern would fall out, I’d catch about every third to fourth word, respond based on what I thought he was saying, and he, not wanting to waste time and energy explaining himself, would have no choice but to drop the issue entirely.

It's pretty much how we've operated ever since. He'll open his mouth, and I'll hear, “Those jeans are very flattering to your butt,” while what he's really saying is: “I’m going to buy another lift kit for the truck.”

As a result, our vehicles grow taller and my butt stays reasonably flattered, because getting in and out of our vehicles is nothing if not an accelerated aerobic workout.

See there? No one's the wiser and everybody's happy.

Heck, now that I think about it, our falling in love was most likely a misunderstanding.

Way back when, S.B. and I had been dating for about four months when he took a job somewhere at the edge of the civilized world bringing civilization to the kind of people who regularly settle day-to-day disputes with AK-47s and hand grenades. And these were just the waiters. Still, S.B. figured it sounded like fun, but what to do about his house and dogs for the six week duration? Then he had a bright idea. Since the lease on my apartment was up and my rent was going up by $150 a month, why not have me do the sitting and I could look for a less expensive place to live in the interim?

Misunderstanding him completely, a month later I moved, lock, stock, and stiletto shoes, into his house in the mountains, while off he flew to God only knows where. "Don't worry," he said before leaving, "We'll talk once a week." Which meant every Tuesday at lunchtime, I drove to a friend’s house up the street from work, dialed a number somewhere in California, and then a satellite link up courtesy Chevron-Texaco patched me through to S.B.

At some point during our fifth conversation, S.B. suddenly got very serious. “Could you please shut up for a moment?" he asked. "I have something important to tell you.”

So I shut up, and he told me something important. And when I hung up a few minutes later, I thought to myself, Huh. Did he just say, ‘I’m in love with you’ or “When I get home we'll go shopping for shoes’?

Then I realized, either was okay with Moi.

See? Fifteen years later, everybody's happy.