Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


Rick Pitino needs to shut up

I've avoided commenting on the Rick Pitino situation, because I just don't care. However, yesterday Pitino got a bit angry, and I think I need to tell him to just shut up. So: Shut up, Rick Pitino.

Pitino, in case you don't know, is the head basketball coach at the University of Louisville. A few weeks ago, it came out that he had fucked a woman in a restaurant six years ago and then paid her to have an abortion. The news came out because the woman, after six years, claimed rape and tried to extort money from him. The police brought no charges against Pitino and the woman is under investigation for the extortion charge. Despite committing adultery and paying for an abortion, the very Catholic Pitino kept his job. I mean, he knows how to coach, right?

I was disgusted by both parties involved in this sordid tale, as Karen Sypher, the woman whom Pitino nailed, seems like a bit of a nut case. However, yesterday Pitino responded to the release of her police interview, which he says is a "total fabrication."

Listen, Rick, you need to shut up. It's obvious this woman is unhinged, and nobody believes her when she says you raped her and all the other charges she's levying against you. But when you respond by holding a press conference and ranting like you do, everyone starts to wonder whether you're a bit unhinged, too. It began when Pitino inexplicably referenced 9/11 in his initial press conference (he wasn't comparing what he was going through to the victims of 9/11, so that's a plus, but he did bring it up for seemingly no reason), and now, Pitino wishes it would all go away because he's worried about the effect the news coverage is having on his family.

Um, yeah. Maybe you should have thought of the effect fucking a woman who wasn't your wife and then paying for her abortion would have on your family, Rick. This is a news story, mainly because you're a high-profile employee in a high-profile job and you did something that, according to the teachings you profess to follow, makes you a hypocrite. Pitino also goes a bit off-topic again, this time whining that people should focus on the economy (says the man who makes millions coaching basketball), bitching that it came out on the day Ted Kennedy died (another odd allusion), and saying that we need to get on with "crucial" things in life, "like basketball."

This last statement is why he really, really needs to shut up. Reminding people that you're a freakin' basketball coach (and yes, coaches often help shape the lives of young men who don't have father figures, I get it, but if Pitino really believes that, he should man up and resign, because men take responsibility for their indiscretions) might not be the best way to go. So please shut up, Rick Pitino. When Karen Sypher makes some idiotic statement, stop reminding people that it takes two scumbags to tango on a restaurant floor.

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Someone is going to hell ...

Wandering the Internet, I found this:

I'd like to think Jesus wouldn't mind someone dressing like that. Of course, who knows what she did next. Oh, Jesus, avert your eyes!!!!

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Hey! I can review first-run movies occasionally!

This past Friday, Mia was at school, and Norah was at pre-school for the entire day. The entire day!!!!! We want to get her ready for kindergarten, so we're sending her to pre-school for the whole day once a week. That means I had most of the entire day to myself (about 10.30 a.m. to 2.45 p.m.) and nothing to do, so I went to the movies! Yay!

I checked out District 9 because why not? It's a pretty good movie, and now I'll tell you why! Here's the story: In 1982, an alien spaceship appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. The humans went inside and found that the aliens were more like refugees, with no leaders and no organization. So the humans created a refugee camp for them (called District 9) and stuck them there, partitioning them off from the rest of the world. Now it's 2010, and the humans have had enough - the aliens are scheduled to be sent to a new camp, 200 kilometers away from Johannesburg. Into this mess comes Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a bureaucrat of MNU, the corporation in charge of the shantytown where the aliens - derisively called "prawns" because they look like seafood - live. Wikus is tasked with getting the prawns to sign a waiver agreeing to the move - this section of the movie is weirdly humorous, as it's such a bureaucratic thing to do, even when you're dealing with aliens who don't sign their names (luckily, Wikus understands their language). As he moves through District 9, he comes across a hut where there's a strange vial that squirts out some strange black liquid. Before you know it, Wikus is becoming a prawn himself, and MNU wants to experiment on him, and he's ostracized from society in the same way the prawns are. Oh, the irony!

The movie quickly goes from social allegory/satire to action movie, which presents some problems, but not enough to ruin the movie, unless you're really into seeing a social allegory. Obviously, the director, Neill Blomkamp (a South African himself, hence the setting of the movie), is going for the apartheid parallel, but he doesn't go far enough with it. First of all, he never mentions that this situation existed in South Africa in the first place, leading me to believe this is some parallel reality world where it didn't exist (in 1982, of course, apartheid was still in full effect, so somebody might have mentioned it). He also gives us stereotypical Nigerians as villains in the movie, which made me a bit uncomfortable. The white villains are evil, sure, but they're just regular people. The Nigerians, with their witchcraft and cult of personality around their leader, seem as or more subhuman than the prawns themselves, which is odd. It's a weird choice for Blomkamp to make and somewhat undermines his idea of tolerance that underlies the movie. Of course, he doesn't want to push the apartheid parallel all that much because he's making an action movie, but it's still a strange thing to put in the movie and then ignore. Perhaps it would have been better to set it somewhere else other than South Africa so that the parallel wouldn't have been so obvious.

The "mockumentary" style Blomkamp employs for some of the movie works against him, too. He starts the movie this way, but quickly abandons it for long stretches before intermittently using it again. It's the same thing as the apartheid subtext - embrace it completely or ditch it. It doesn't seem possible to tell this story in a "mockumentary" style, and so when he breaks with that, it heightens the "movie-ness" of it even more, drawing us out of the story. I get what he was trying to do with the "mockumentary" style, as it adds a immediacy and also a claustrophobia as Wikus's life unravels, but it feels affected because he doesn't use it throughout. Again, I doubt if he could use it throughout, so it probably should have been abandoned.

Of course, I still enjoyed the movie. It's not great science fiction, mainly because Blomkamp is too concerned with making an action movie, but it's a good action movie, with far more on its mind than most. He gets a great performance from Copley, who begins as a weasel and really doesn't do too much to redeem himself. Even as he begins to change, he doesn't sympathize with the prawns all that much, convincing himself that if he change back, his wife will take him back (she won't) and all will forgiven (it won't). When he's confronted with a moral choice about helping the aliens or helping himself, he helps himself. It's a nice character arc, actually, because we probably wouldn't believe that Wikus would change so quickly. When he finally comes down on the "right" side (and of course he does), it's not necessarily because he completely sees the light, but because he decides it's the only thing he can do. Copley is very good in the role, which is interesting given it's his first movie (indeed, his first acting job).

District 9 is R-rated, and it earns it. The language, according to the rating, is "pervasive," which is as good a description as any. It's also very violent, as Blomkamp, when he decides to make this a complete action movie, shows that he can really do action well. The violence is sudden and devastating and extremely graphic, just as a warning. It's also very quick, as Blomkamp doesn't linger on the horror, in case you're wondering. Despite the fact that the turn toward action is a bit disappointing, at least Blomkamp does it very well!

I wanted District 9 to be a masterpiece, but I'm not surprised it wasn't, as it was made by a bunch of people with very little movie experience. What it is, however, is a fine action movie disguised as a science fiction movie with a conscience, and it certainly makes you think more than other summer action movies do. It's very gripping and tense, keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout ("We'll sell you the whole seat, but you'll only need the edge!!!!!!) and featuring some very fine performances. If there's any justice in the world, it portends big things for its star and its director. And it's a fine way to spend two hours during the dog days of summer!

And if you don't believe me, Nik has reviewed it too! You can trust Nik!

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Michael Vick on the Eagles?

Yes, it's true. Michael Vick has been signed to a two-year contract by my beloved Philadelphia Eagles. Hmmm.

I'm not really sure what to think about this. If Vick hadn't served two years in prison for killing dogs, I'd be extremely angry about it, but he did. He might be a scumbag, but he has paid a lot more than a lot of supremely talented scumbags have. I can't imagine he'll do anything heinous in his time as an Eagle, because he can't be that stupid, can he?

The Eagles seem like a decent fit for him, structure-wise. They, like the Patriots, don't tolerate idiots, so Vick going to Philly makes more sense for him than signing with some outlaw organization like the Raiders. I think everyone on the team will help keep him in line, but I could be just hopeful more than anything.

I don't know how much protesting there will be of the Eagles. I don't feel any sympathy for Vick, but he did spend a good amount of time in prison and he's apparently deep in debt, so what else do you want? Maybe he shouldn't get another chance to play in the NFL and he should go earn an honest living somewhere, but that's for Roger Goodell to decide. If he says Vick's eligible, that's that.

Go Eagles!

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Conservatives who say Hollywood is liberal crack me up

We've been watching the burn-off episodes of Dirty Sexy Money this summer, and we just watched Saturday's episode on Sunday (long live DVR!). At the beginning of the episode, Karen (played by Natalie Zea) is upset because at the end of the previous episode, she found she was pregnant and the father was her ex-fiancée, Simon Elder (Blair Underwood), who ditched her at the altar when he was offered what he really wanted, which was half of Karen's father's company. So Karen is a bit upset. She and her mother (Jill Clayburgh) head off to a clinic, where Karen, naturally, has second thoughts about terminating the pregnancy. Simon finds out she's pregnant by following her to the clinic, and he tells her later that he's going to be very involved with the kid even though she now hates him. Got all that?

The reason I bring this up is because Karen and her mother never mention the word "abortion." I mean, it's not surprising that Karen doesn't have an abortion, because no one on television is allowed to have one. She later says that having Simon involved is going to be horrible but that she has no choice. Well, yes she does. She gets around this by saying it might be her only chance, but Karen is, presumably, about as old as the actress playing her, and Ms. Zea is 34. There has never been any mention on the show that she has trouble conceiving, nor were she and Simon trying to have a baby, so this "just happened." There's no reason to believe that Karen can't have another kid.

The funny thing about this is Sarah Palin's recent farewell speech, in which she blamed Hollywood for going against American values. This is a frequent rant from conservatives, but rarely in television shows do you see something as odd as, say, the Republican governor of South Carolina lying about hiking on the Appalachian Trail while he was in Argentina boning his mistress. But that's neither here nor there. On Dirty Sexy Money, which is a soap opera that aired at 10 o'clock at night and featured the usual number of murderers, cheaters, candidates for political office who cheated on their wives with transsexuals, and all the sexual transgressions we expect from a prime-time soap opera. Yet a show that has already been cancelled, is airing its burn-off episodes on Saturday night in the summertime, and in the same episode features a gay Congressman and his wife propositioning a Senator because they have an "arrangement" in their marriage, can't utter the word "abortion," much less let one of their selfish, spoiled characters have one. Television, I'm sorry to say to those moralist Republicans, is extremely conservative, because all television executives care about is money, which means they can't piss off any portion of their audience. So not only is a perfectly legal medical procedure forbidden to any television character, even mentioning the word is like Dick Cheney saying the n-word at the Apollo Theater.

So shut up, conservatives. You've neutered Hollywood. Congratulations!

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Power out(r)age!

There I was, typing a new post for this here blog at approximately 1.45 this afternoon, when the power went out. Sigh. The two darling children were very puzzled by the fact that The Emperor's New Groove suddenly disappeared from the television screen, and I wondered if it was just our house or the whole neighborhood. I waited a few minutes to see if it would come back on, then called SRP (Salt River Project), our electricity providers.

The nice lady who answered the phone told me to check my circuit breaker. As I was outside doing so, one of the people who lives across the street (we're still not sure on the living arrangements in that house) told me her power was out too. I relayed this information to the SRP representative, and I also told her flipping the main breaker did nothing to fix my problem. She told me she'd get right on it.

I put Mia in her bed (she doesn't nap anymore, but she also gets bored easily, and with no television, there wasn't much to do, so I figured she could relax a bit) and hung out with Norah for the afternoon. I thought about going in the pool, but decided against it in case Mia had a seizure or otherwise got upset for some reason. The house didn't get too, too hot right away, so it wasn't really that awful. We rarely get power outages in these parts, but when we get them in the summer, it's really, really horrible, as you can imagine.

At 3.15 I called SRP back and asked what was going on. The woman was very vague, as she couldn't really tell me if they had alerted anyone about my problem or if they had alerted someone and those people weren't fixing anything yet. By this time I had found out that the people two doors down had also lost power, another nugget I relayed to the SRP rep. She said they would get right on it.

About 20 minutes later our next-door neighbors knocked on the door and asked if our power was out. I told them yes and that I had called twice to let SRP know what was happening. The woman told me she had just gotten off the phone with "them" (I assume SRP, because they're a bit of a monopoly 'round these parts, but she never expressively said the company's name) and that they told her no one had called in. I said she was lying. Which she was. Or she was just ignorant. I don't know which is worse.

At 4.15 I called back. They had finally dispatched a team to, and I quote, "an underground mine" where the problem was. I really didn't feel like getting the entire story about what the hell she was talking about, so I just asked if they had a ballpark figure for when the power was coming back on. Yes, she said, eight p.m. I almost, but not quite, lost it. "Eight o'clock?" I said, not angrily, but more aghast. "So I'll be without power for six hours?" Yes, she said, but it was only an estimate. I wasn't sure if that was supposed to be reassuring, because in my world, when a company estimates a timeframe, you can usually automatically add at least an hour if not two to it. I told the lady such. I still wasn't angry, just exasperated (it wasn't, after all, her fault). I told her I had called in at 1.45, so I hoped they just weren't figuring this out right now, as that meant they wasted a good two hours in which they could have been working. Oh well - at least now I had an idea of when the power would be back on.

Mia's OT showed up, then Krys came home. We had already decided that we were going out to dinner, so we headed off to the mall and the Cheesecake Factory, where neither Norah nor Mia ate. Good times! We got back around 7.45, and the power still wasn't on. We put Mia to bed in the dark (well, by candlelight, but we don't have many candles). We read to Norah by flashlight (I've just about finished reading Wuthering Heights to her - man, that Heathcliff is a scumbag!). We put Norah to bed and then I called SRP back, as it was about 8.15. The estimated fix time had been amended to 10. I tried not to feel smug.

We jumped in the pool (aaaaaahhhhhhh!) and hung out for a while, and while we were in there, the power came back on. Yay! Surprisingly, our refrigerator and freezer lost very little coldness, so none of our food was ruined from the seven hour-outage. And I could post this. Man, I hate summers in Arizona. But you already knew that.

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