Archive for December, 2004

Prodigal Son
30 December, 2004

I watched Bai ga jai last night. Good flick, that. I enjoyed watching Sammo direct and act. I could definitely see the seeds of Martial Law in the film. But the best part was the drag queen wing chun master. That rocks.


We're from the Government; We're here to Help You
29 December, 2004

I saw a segment on GDO this morning about the challenges faced by those training new law enforcement officers. One of those challenges is that most of the trainees are ignorant of firearms. (I presume the ignorant are not coming from any of the armed forces.)

How can this be? These are folks who are pursuing a career in law enforcement. If they made it that far, they can not be complete idiots. I am sure it has occurred to the candidates that, even if they will not carry daily, they will be required to demonstrate proficiency with firearms. Anyone who has seen 24 knows that.

Have we become such a society of hoplophobes that these candidates were ashamed to ask where they could learn to use a tool of their trade? Did they never go to summer camp? Have summer camps shutdown their BB gun ranges?

Knowing how to safely operate a firearm is like knowing how to safely drive a car or swim: you may not use the skill very often but not knowing it can have fatal consequences. Each person gets to choose for themselves whether they want to use firearms. That is what makes this country great. But an individual's knowledge is independent of their choices about its use.

Learning the basic rules of firearm safety takes at most an hour and volunteers happily teach for free. I would hope (obviously in vain) that most adults would know the basic rules (e.g., which end to point where, how to not shoot your buddy, how to make it go boom, that kind of thing) for safety's sake. But, for crying out loud, law enforcement candidates ought to have even more than the basic skills.

Or is it just that, in their fervor to expand their ranks, the federal agencies are lowering their admission standards? Are we soon to become like East Germany where one in fifty civilians worked for state security?

Have I had too much eggnog…
25 December, 2004

…or is an album of Tool covers performed by William Shatner a really good idea?

Ho, Ho, Ho!
25 December, 2004

Santa was good to me. And I am grateful.

Full Metal Alchemist
23 December, 2004

I have been Tivoing Hagane no Renkinjutsushi recently. I am not sure why I first Tivod it; I think I recognized the title from some research. But, after watching the first episode, I have been intrigued enough to Tivo several more. I may even Season Pass it.

I wish I could guarantee that I would have the time to watch them all (I am still in Season Two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) but I can not so I will not bug to borrow her Bubblegum Crisis DVDs. I would also like to find DVDs for the original Macross. It appears that Netflix has neither.

Can you tell that I am working toward my Anime merit badge? 😛

A Surprising Revelation
21 December, 2004

Last Sunday night I watched 60 Minutes to see Mike Wallace's interview of Ricky Williams. I find gladiators fascinating. (And make no mistake; that is exactly what pro football players are: gladiators.)

Here was a man being paid over $8 million per year to play football who retired with very little notice. Many, including myself, were curious at the thought process behind that. I think if I had the opportunity to make $8 million for one year's work, I would try my hardest to do so, simply because, even after taxes, I would be financially secure for the rest of my life. But that is not the right perspective, because I have never made $8 million per year and he had. So what could motivate someone to walk away from the gravy train?

Certainly part of it was the impending stigmatization and suspension for using marijuana. Firstly, I am not one of those people that demonizes marijuana. If alcohol is legal and culturally accepted, I see no reason why marijuana should not be. Secondly, suspending a football player for use of a recreational drug is rather hypocritical given the rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs in elite sports. I understand that the NFL wants to protect its image. But I doubt pot smoking is the thing that is tarnishing its image.

Williams revealed that he stopped playing professional football because (drumroll, please) he wanted to stop. No one frets over why our favorite barrista decided to go back to school; why should we fret about this football player? Williams asked the valid question of "If not now, when would it be okay to retire?" Does he forfeit the freedom to choose his own path just because his previous job put him on television every Sunday? We see a young man that appears peaceful, centered, and completely capable of making his own decisions. More power to him.

But that was not the most revealing part of the interview. Rather, the most surprising revelation came from Wallace who showed the viewers that money is the only thing that matters to him and he is incapable of understanding any other philosophy. His inability to make Williams feel guilty over leaving money on the table and Williams's refusal to take the bait and become angry had a visible effect on Wallace.

I do not know why but, for some reason, I expected more out of Wallace. If that is his true outlook on life and not just schtick, I pity the fool.

One Very Expensive Vacation
18 December, 2004

Last night we did our part to pay for an expensive, European vacation for a bunch of friends. No, they are not our friends; they are each other's friends. You see, we paid to see Ocean's Twelve.

The mind boggles at the amount of money it must have taken to shoot on location in Europe with all those big names. Rumor has it that Soderbergh insisted that the budget be the same. I presume rather than thrift this indicates the profligacy of the first film.

Ultimately the film was very disappointing. The actors all did their jobs very well. I am especially impressed with Clooney's work.

I was not surprised to read that the script was not written originally as a sequel to Ocean's Eleven. The plot is predicated on a character who is presented as being the best in his industry using neither common sense nor his unmatched skills to accomplish his goals. I saw every turn coming; nothing in this film surprised me. The whole point behind heist films is "How'd they do that?" not "I saw that coming."

Soderbergh slowed the pacing of this film almost to boredom. There were quite a few characters to juggle but, unlike the first film, we come away without getting to know the characters at all. I am not sure where the time went, but it did not go into the characters. Most of the shots were good but there were a couple of the shots that just shook too much. I suppose he used a handheld for effect, but it was too jarring.

Overall it just did not work. Rather disappointing. I recommend avoiding this film, either in the theatre or at home.

16 December, 2004

My neighbor has always put an above-average amount of effort into decorating her house. First it was the icicle lights all the way around her house, even at the eaves that are thirty feet off the ground and only the deer will see. One year a Rudolph made out of wire and lights arrived. Then a couple of his friends showed up. Finally the sleigh, also made out of wire and lights, completed the diorama.

This year she has gone completely around the bend. She has added blinking lights above the double-door entrance to her house. "Blinking" is not quite accurate; it implies a sedate on-off sequence. "Strobing" would be more accurate. (Who knew that squirrels can have epilepsy?) It looks more like a casino than a house.

I am not complaining, though. I heard that all next week Wayne Newton is playing and I think I can get seats.

But several of the tribes have been coming around, asking questions. The comments about her "clumsiness" seem somehow creepy.

The good news is that I hear next year she is adding a buffet.

So That Explains It
15 December, 2004

You Are a Seeker Soul

You are on a quest for knowledge and life challenges.
You love to be curious and ask a ton of questions.
Since you know so much, you make for an interesting conversationalist.
Mentally alert, you can outwit almost anyone (and have fun doing it!).

Very introspective, you can be silently critical of others.
And your quiet nature makes it difficult for people to get to know you.
You see yourself as a philosopher, and you take everything philosophically.
Your main talent is expressing and communicating ideas.

Souls you are most compatible with: Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul

What Kind of Soul Are You?

Kids Say the Darndest Things
13 December, 2004

While listening to “Feliz Navidad”, my youngest started stomping back and forth. Trying to be a good parent, I said, “That's good dancing.” My youngest replied, “Dad, I not dancing! I singing with my feet!”

I love it: singing with my feet.