Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Test confirms the obvious

So, I took an online test that said I am a conservative. I am posting the results here not because they are interesting (they are not), but to interest you, my imaginary readers, in testing yourselves.

The test is really about which moral values you find to be most important. People of all political persuasions are motivated by moral principles-- the big difference is which moral principles (equality, justice, freedom) move them most. I found it enlightening. Perhaps you will as well.

Of course, taking tests of this sort is a bit like reading tea leaves, or the I Ching. The test doesn't have the answers you seek. It doesn't know you, doesn't know anything about the world. You're the one with the answers, and you know them already. So it's really just a novel way of asking yourself questions, in the hopes of tricking yourself into accidentally having an interesting thought.

Good luck!


Friday, September 21, 2007

Nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills...

So, courtesy of Times and Seasons, I found this list of 25 things every man should know. (The list comes from Popular Mechanics magazine, FYI.)

Lists of this sort interest me. I'm a single boy, and I want to be a married man. And like Napoleon Dynamite, I have noticed that women are looking for men with skills. They make their own lists of desirable attributes and skills, and compare potential mates to the lists. (Tell me it ain't so, ladies.) So when I see a list like this, no matter how stupid, I usually stop and compare myself.

Now, here's the list:

1. Patch a radiator hose
2. Protect your computer
3. Rescue a boater who has capsized
4. Frame a wall
5. Retouch digital photos
6. Back up a trailer
7. Build a campfire
8. Fix a dead outlet
9. Navigate with a map and compass
10. Use a torque wrench
11. Sharpen a knife
12. Perform CPR
13. Fillet a fish
14. Maneuver a car out of a skid
15. Get a car unstuck
16. Back up data
17. Paint a room
18. Mix concrete
19. Clean a bolt-action rifle
20. Change oil and filter
21. Hook up an HDTV
22. Bleed brakes
23. Paddle a canoe
24. Fix a bike flat
25. Extend your wireless network

Wow. Rough. I have no idea how to even start about three-quarters of these. In my defense, I think most guys would not do a lot better. For instance, even combining efforts with my four brothers, I think we only have about 70% of this list covered. And I think we're a pretty capable crew.

But I do think there are some things that every man should be able to do that aren't on this list. Especially when I start thinking about my dad, who to me is the pinnacle of manliness. So here are some things I think are necessary for a good dad, and a good husband.

* Grill (It's even better to actually be able to cook, but grilling is a must.)
* Soothe a crying baby (My dad has the magic touch on this one. You put a baby in his hands, and crying just stops.)
* Dance (I can't do this one at all. My bones rebel.)
* Fight (Haven't done this in years, but I think the power to defend yourself and your family is an important part of being a man.)
* Tie a tie (If someone else has to tie it for you, you are still a boy.)
* Play sports (Not all sports, but you should be able to throw a pass, hit a pitch, sink a jumpshot, etc. I feel confident about swimming, frisbee, soccer, and a few others, but I cringe thinking of the day when my brother-in-law told me I threw a baseball like a girl. The shame!)
* Garden (Real men grow food.)

There are probably more, but I think this is a good start. And I wouldn't even know how to begin a list of skills necessary for a woman. But maybe you, my imaginary readers, have some ideas.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

He'll pass a non-binding resolution whenever there's trouble...

So, they're making a movie in which, G.I. Joe, a real American hero, is no longer American. That's right. I said, G.I. Joe is no longer AMERICAN!!!

Paramount has confirmed that in the movie, the name G.I. Joe will become an acronym for "Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity" — an international, coed task force charged with defeating bad guys. It will no longer stand for government issued, as in issued by the American government.

The studio won't elaborate, saying filming hasn't begun and details are still in the works, but the behind-the-scenes rumblings are that the producers have decided to change the nature of G.I. Joe in order to appeal to a wider, more international audience.

The word is that in the current political climate, they're afraid that a heroic U.S. soldier won't fly.

So, G.I. Joe, which is supposed to be about kicking foreign terrorist butt, is now part of the UN or something. Words fail me.

But, for you, my imaginary readers, I will try hard to describe my feelings. It's like... It's like finding out they've decided the Boston Red Sox are going to be a soccer team in Argentina, coached by King George III. Or that Mom's homemade apple pie is 40% animal waste. And that Mom is really a big hairy biker dude. Or coming to a 4th of July picnic and finding out that they replaced the hamburgers and fireworks with a platoon of the SS-TotenkopfverbÀnde and a quick trip into a freshly-dug mass grave. And in that grave, already cold and dead: Santa Claus.

Seriously, I don't even know if I can go in to work tomorrow.


(UPDATE 09/14 : Yesterday evening after my haircut, I walked by the nerd store and decided to stop in. On a whim, I inquired about G.I. Joe, and a helpful regular customer pointed me to the 25-cent bin in the basement. Long story short, I walked out with 31 issues of the old Marvel classic G.I. Joe comic book. Awesome. Yo Joe!)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

RIP Luciano Pavarotti

Dici che il fiume
Trova la via al mare
E come il fiume
Giungerai a me
Oltre i confini
E le terre assetate...


Friday, September 07, 2007

5 points of an art film

Just sent Federico Fellini's Oscar-winning classic 8 1/2 back to Netflix. This is one of the top ten films of all time, according to a lot of critics. Myself, I didn't finish it. I thought it was terrible. I gave it two stars, and that's because of Claudia Cardinale.

I think it is appropriate at this time for me to reveal my five-point profile of an art film. An art film is a film in which: (1) Miserable people (2) sit around talking (3) and smoking (4) and committing adultery (5) but nothing really happens.

1) The people in art films are bored and unhappy. They hate their lives, even though generally they are materially well off. Life bores them, the world has nothing left to offer them, they are weary of everything and everyone. It helps if they are European.

2) In art films, people talk a lot. And the conversations are very important and very carefully crafted, although they don't really advance the plot. (See #5.) So you have lots of people sitting around talking for long stretches about very ordinary things, and they interrupt each other and talk over each other, as people do in real life. Also as in real life, most of the talking is not very interesting. (That's why people go to the movies.)

3) Everybody smokes in art films. And they smoke a lot. And the camera lingers on the cigarettes and the smoke in that artsy kind of way. I don't know why this is thought to be such a sophisticated, beautiful thing-- smoking is gross.

4) In art films, it's important for everyone to be mired in adultery. And it's never pre-marital hanky-panky-- it's always people cheating on their spouses. But not in a sexy way. In a bored, disappointed, world-weary sort of way. In 8 1/2, for instance, perhaps since it was made fifty years ago, there are scenes of lovers embracing, or passionate kisses (again, perhaps due to #3). But there is a scene of a mistress demanding a job for her husband from the married protagonist.

5) Most importantly, nothing really happens in an art film. There really is no plot. If I had to sum up the plot of 8 1/2, I would have to say something like: A movie director is tired of the movie business. But that's not a plot. It's a setup. It's a premise. You start with that, and move on. Like this: A movie director is bored of the movie business...

...AND SO HE quits and follows his dream to become a professional hockey player.
...AND SO HE makes the best film ever and changes Hollywood forever.
...AND SO HE joins the CIA and becomes a spy with the perfect cover story.
...BUT THEN HE falls in love and rekindles his love of life.
...BUT THEN HE is approached by a mysterious stranger who says she is from the future, and that only he can prevent the robo-pocalypse.
...BUT THEN HE has his world turned upside down by the boss from hell-- literally-- when he discovers that his producer is Lucifer, prince of darkness.

Something should happen! But not in an art film. In an art film, nothing should happen, except the talking and the smoking and the miserable, unfaithful people gradually becoming more and more bored with their lives. I don't see why this kind of movie is so popular in certain circles, but it doesn't do it for me.

Lots of critics gave 8 1/2 5 stars; I give it 5/5 on my art-house disaster scale. I recommend seeing it only if you think your life is too thrilling and happy-- like if you just won a gold medal in awesome at the rock and roll Olympics-- and you can't afford depressants in pill form.