Sunday, February 28, 2010


The child of mine was spirited away with the cousins toward Oklahoma, giving the wife and I a weekend to ourselves. It's been a long while since we had time together as a couple and I didn't know how much I missed and needed that time. 

We have enjoyed long romantic dinners, movies, some shopping and much needed talk. I hope we don't neglect ourselves for so long as I don't think that makes for good relationships. Although our relationship is strong, it is much more connected now that we had some time alone. 

THE HANGOVER and SEVERANCE were much required R-rated escapes. THE HANGOVER, in my opinion, is a true date movie, but then again I am a bit strange. SEVERANCE was a whoop and holler comedic slasher.

Not to neglect our artsy fartsy side, we also watched INSIDE DEEP THROAT – a documentary film about the pornographic movie from the 70s that profoundly changed the sexual attitudes.  I had no idea any X-rated movie had such an impact on society. Thousands of regular folks, who would never watch porn otherwise, flocked to movie theaters to see DEEP THROAT. The documentary is rated NC-17 and is certified fresh (82%) by Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Speaking of educational issues, KY3 reports budget problems for Missouri's K-12 institutions to the tune of $43 million (2 percent shortfall). Rep. Maynard Wallace (R-Thornfield) wants to change the law to allow school districts to reduce teacher pay (the story does not say how much of a reduction) and eliminate professional development in order to keep their jobs. 

Personally, I'd rather get paid less and still have the opportunity to do the job I love so much, rather than become unemployed. That's just me. I'd rather not see cuts to my salary at all.


CNN carries the second installment to a story I mentioned earlier today. All the teachers and administrators at Rhode Island's lowest performing high school were fired by the school board. (How exactly do you put that on your resume? As if there were any teaching jobs out there.)


CNN has the story of a Rhode Island school district superintendent whose desire it is to fire all the 74 teachers in the lowest performing school in the state. The problem with stories like this is that it is  presented very few specific facts (except overall scores of the students). The story does not help the population govern itself as we cannot make educated decisions because we are not really educated. 

  • What is the culture of the school? Is it a positive and encouraging atmosphere or a toxic one?
  • What is the culture of the families in the school community? Do they support making their children better or disdain all things educational?
  • What is the overall attitude of the teachers?
  • What is the overall attitude of the administrators?
  • What kind of district support (money) does the school receive compared to other schools?
  • What kind of district support (not money) does the school receive compared to other schools?
  • How is the district responding to the specialized needs of persons in poverty?
  • What pedagogy are the teachers using to educate the students?
  • How do the teachers design learning environments specific to persons in poverty?
  • What amounts of tutoring are already going on in the school?
  • What are teachers doing to reach students and establish strong relationships?
  • Why is there such a turnover rate with principals in this school?

In order to determine the causes of the problem and make strides to repair the damage and educate students, harder questions must be asked beyond graduation rates and math proficiencies (both important questions in identifying there is a problem, but superficial questions in regards to addressing the problem.) 

To even take a side with this lack of real questioning is to succumb to certain political and world views rather than addressing the individual school's issues. I have my own world views and could make sweeping statements based on those world views, but it would be just as uneducated as both of the persons interviewed. In order to properly govern ourselves, we need deep questions and further exploration.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Why don't you limit enrollment?

That's what Missouri House Appropriations members asked of university presidents this week in response to the crisis facing higher education budgets in 2012. The AP quoted Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirwood, (through the Springfield News-Leader), "As bad as 2011 looks for us, in 2012 we're going over a cliff." Elementary and secondary schools are also facing serious cuts in the coming years.

It seems to me that limiting enrollment is counter productive to boosting an economy. If people are out of work, then new skills and education are the keys to getting into a more robust field. If we limit access to higher education, then even when jobs open up, there won't be enough qualified people to fill them. I don't understand the logic when it comes to contempt for education.


I give a big fat Pfff to all things figure skating and ice dancing. I recognize those are the most popular events at the winter olympics (and requires a lot of athletic prowess), but it's like sitting through a romantic comedy where everyone is dressed in Mardi Gras costumes. The enjoyment of which just proves that people don't have very good taste. Downhill skiing, super g, snowboarding, snowboard cross, curling, and luge, are much more interesting and exciting. Yes, even curling. I find it so strategic and interesting. 

My friend Jason Rohrblogger has some suggestions for new winter Olympic sports. I only find one failing in his list: His number 10 is my number one.

Is it wrong to find that most of the events I enjoy involve the possibility of bodily harm?  Not very civilized, I know, but I can't help it. The impending doom jacks the whole thing up to an acceptable level of engagement for me.  Curling being the exception. It's so cerebral and strange that I am fascinated with it. I suppose that might be because the sport is more accepting of those with less-than-athletic physiques. What is the deal with those little brooms? Do they really make a significant difference? 

For those who need more comedic Olympic nonsense, you are directed to read the 5 Ways to Enjoy Terrible Winter Olympic Events.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The Bus is plunging deep into political discourse today, and for good reason. It is coming to light that hundreds of conservative legislators who voted against the Stimulus package are now cutting ribbons and taking credit for the good the Stimulus has produced. The head of the hypocrisy campaign is Missouri's own Roy Blunt. 

It seems the Stimulus did much more than opponents claimed. It put legislators in a quite a quandary to vote against a thing that ultimately saved jobs and created good things in their communites. So they simply take credit for the good things even though the Stimulus really paid for it. 

Saving jobs during a Depression-close recession is the same thing as creating jobs. The longer it goes, the more evidence that no stimulus likely would have left us with a full fledged, all-out Depression. A depression is not good on any society. Thank goodness we don't have one.

Thanks Bus-Man. Please keep driving; I need the ride.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The other night my wife gave our puppy a dingo treat. He loves those things and chewed on it for quite a while. Instinctual preservation being what it is, he only ate part and sought to save the rest. As I worked at the computer Barkley came in and jumped on the futon in my office with slimy dingo in tow.

I mainly use the futon as a closet, a fact that drives the wife nuts – not nuts enough to put the laundry up for me (which she shouldn't and I don't expect). So I tend to the let the laundry accumulate and just get my undershirts, underwear and socks from the futon. I'd ask you to guess how far away my chest of drawers is, but it wouldn't make me look good.

So the dog perches atop the laundry and proudly assesses the scene. He then turns and paws at the clothes until he makes a hold of sorts. The dingo gets dropped between the clothes and the back of the futon. He then uses his paws and nose to hid his treausre with my laundry.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTING THIEF is book one of a very popular  series among tweens and teens. It's been on the NY Times Best Seller list for 130 weeks. Last summer I read it to my daughter and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. 

Percy, a 12-year-old discovers he is a demi-god, a child produced from the union between human and Greek god. Percy spends his time in trouble, battling dyslexia and ADHD, until he finds himself in a camp for demi-god kids. Eventually, he discovers he is the son of one of the big three, Poseidon. As the story unfolds, we discover Zeus' power – his lightning bolt – has been stolen and he believes Percy is responsible. The young protagonist, with two friends in tow, must find the bolt and return it to Zeus before the summer solstice. 

Percy runs into many mythological Greek creatures – Medusa, Ares (god of war), Hades, Persephone, the furies, and others. The connections to the 3,000 year old myths are exciting and adventurous, increasing a kid's interest in mythology and the heroes journey. 
Now the book has been dubbed a Harry Potter knock-off and the fact the movie was made by Chris Columbus only proliferates that stereotype. The characters have similarities:

  • Both young boys
  • Both go on an adventure with another boy and girl
  • Both go to a place to be trained with others like them
  • Both battle creatures
  • Both go on heroic journeys

The truth is, our heroic journey stories, called the monomyth, is grounded in Greek literature. In fact our modern super hero stories are rooted in those 3,000 year old myths. What author Rick Riordan does is revamp the Greek myth for a contemporary audience, giving kids a reason to read and study the cradle of Western literature.

Choosing Columbus to direct the PERCY movie was a ghastly decision. It did nothing but draw more connections between HARRY and PERCY. On top of that, he took a solid story and hacked the character development out of it, aged the characters by 5 years, melted away the mystery of the narrative by revealing all the secrets in the first few minutes, and changed significant plot elements for no significant reason.

He left us with a movie that cared about nothing but action sequences, utilized shabbily-designed CGI, and washackneyed. It won't please the audience much (unless they are nothing but shallow trolls, or young and forgiving tweens) and it will anger fans. What's the point?

The theft was not of Zeus' bolt, but of Columbus' treachery of dissolving all the interesting and important details from the story. Do yourself a favor: read the books and skip the movie. If you must see the movie, accept what it is before going in. Just enjoy the action and leave it at that. It doesn't completely suck. It's just that ... it could have been great with a little bit of planning and love of the source material. It's obvious Columbus doesn't care a thing about PERCY. 


While the daughter was playing at a friend's house, no doubt gaming, Skinny Kitty and I watched ZOMBIELAND on Blu-Ray. This is one that I've been anticipating for months now. It was on very long wait on my Netflix queue. 

It did not disappoint, which is consistent with Rotten Tomatoes' certification: 89% Fresh. It was juicy with gore-a-plenty and heaps of humor to boot. I've been a fan of Woody Harrelson ever since NATURAL BORN KILLERS a movie that was heavy with political and social commentary – one that was beyond its time. 

ZOMBIELAND is nothing like NBK. Not at all. It's more in line with SHAUN OF THE DEAD (91% Fresh) or SLITHER (85% Fresh), both movies that I highly recommend for those who love hysterical monster/zombie flicks.


As Valentine's Day approaches, I have to write something about love and romance, but the truth is I'm not so much the romantic. Mushy gushy, schmoopy slop ain't my way. I do buy Skinny Kitty plenty of jewelry to keep her happy and I have sent flowers, and I tell my sweetie I loves her – cause I do. 

But don't be expecting any romantic love songs from this writer. I will, however, provide you some twisted looks at romance with's comedic love song tribute entitled "8 Romantic Songs You Didn't Know Were About Rape". 

You can bet your sweet candy heart that Chris Hansen will get a woody over these love ballads.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


… in the TV show, HEROES

Last night Noah, otherwise known as "Horn Rimed Glasses" (HRB), was trapped with Claire inside a trailer house 50 feet underground. Claire could live because of her special abilities, but Noah could not. At the last minute, good old Tracy-the-Water-Girl trickled in and saved them both. Ho Hum. (Caution: boring old plot device in use.)

The story would have been so much better had Noah died. It would have been poetic (the literary term being "foreshadowing") for Claire's next move to out herself as a special. He was, after all, the figurative locked door of her closet. Once dead, she could come out of said closet and be her true self: a person with abilities, which is really just a metaphor for oppressed peoples (be they ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, women, or homosexuals).

Instead, they chose the easy way out by letting Noah live. She still came out, but it didn't really make sense for her to do that. What was the real impetus for her to change? If she wanted to protect her father, she would not have come out as her actions will cause him all kinds of grief. 

It's all so sad because NBC missed a real opportunity for good storytelling. 

I did enjoy the 5-year/5-hour time-space dream sequence with Sylar and Peter. I've never said it aloud, but I don't care for the actor who portrays Matt Parkman. The execution of his powers always comes off trite and poorly acted to me. Always the same side glance. 

I am excited to see how Claire's outing affects all the specials. I am particularly interested in the avenue NBC takes it. How will it compare to the stories in X-Men or Civil War? Let's hope that NBC does a better job with the storytelling than Marvel did with the ending of Civil War. Humans versus Special always makes for interesting narratives and metaphors to other civil rights movements. Who would be the Professor X (Martin Luther King Jr) and the Magneto (Malcolm X) characters in HEROES? 

From my perspective, HEROES can stand as an analogy for any civil rights movement, but I think it is particularly apropos to the gay civil rights movement. You don't declare yourself as a person of color. It's apparent. However, you have to tell folks you have special powers or are gay. 

Anyone else follow HEROES, or am I the lone blogger round these parts?

Monday, February 08, 2010


I'd never heard of such a thing until a friend introduced me to Michael Armstrong who takes rock and metal songs (mostly Metallica, but Led Zepplin and other, too) and turns them into lullabies. It's the most discombobulating thing to experience ... but I like it. It's strangely quaint and calming, if you can imagine. 


Skinny Kitty called it before any of the news people even noticed. She saw right away, right after Sarah Palin made the crack about Obama being a "charismatic guy with a teleprompter" that she had notes written on her hand. Right on her hand. 

We laughed like crazy about it all night and into the next morning when the media finally noticed it. I told Skinny Kitty that it would have been nice to have TiVo so we could go back and confirm it was notes on her hand.
I don't get it. Good speakers use notes and high level politicians use teleprompters. They've done it for years. I don't get the big deal. Personally, I don't care if one has notes on the hand or a screen, but I just find it hysterically hypocritical to make fun of one while you do the other. 

Not terribly authentic or honest. 

Thursday, February 04, 2010


What prepubescent boy doesn't dream of someday being trained as a ninja? Come on. How cool would that be to run around in the dead of night blowing poisoned darts in the necks of the nefarious, lodging ninjas stars in their craniums, cutting enemies in half, and scaling walls with climbing spikes? And the disappearing smoke bombs. Sweet Judas Iscariot those puffs of smoke are some kind of bad ass.

Unfortunately, not all who wish to attain primo ninja status make it past the outfit stage. Once you grow your short hairs, your dreams of becoming a real life, katana-carrying assassin fade away, replaced by the vicarious living of said fantasy through the art of watching old martial arts films on DVD. Only the truly poo-bah-tic actually think their are freaking ninja. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


My reading interest has taken over lately, leaving little time to blog. I love writing and having my own personal online magazine, but the desire to read The Mice Templar and other titles have just hit me solid. Hell, I'm not even interested in writing this post. 

Were I not too tired to get out of this chair, I would not bother and just go read. Today was a rough one, kids. I tried answering email and checking on blogs but I couldn't. I just sit, click, daydream, and click some more – forget actually reading anything. 
I have nothing pithy, clever or even offensive to say. I'm just blathering on for no good reason. Are you still reading? I'm going to read, now, that is if I can get off my duff long enough to traipse through the kitchen and pick up a comic.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


The Oscars were announced I am jazzed that Quentin Tarantino is up for Best Picture and Best Director. He is the filmmaker that speaks for my generation or to my generation. I swear I am going to eat my pinky toe if Avatar wins in either category (and I think it will win at least one if not both).  We don't need reconstituted stories to win the top accolades. Besides, it's the last film I would pick to win. (I did like it, just not enough to win anything.)

Anyone else notice how many films were up for Best Picture? Ten. Ten films. I don't recall that before. 

  • Avartar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up in the Air

The House of Jack is once again having an Oscar party. Now that I graduated and have a job we can relish in the pomp of Oscar. This year we will change the rules of our contest. Each member picks the movie he or she would vote for if s/he had a vote. 

I'm surprised that District 9 is up for Best Picture. Sci-Fi being considered for a statue? I'm assuming Up will win for Animated Feature, as it was also nominated for Best Picture, but Coraline was really good, and I've heard wonderful things about The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Can't wait for that one on Blu-Ray.


Peter Sprig a Senior Fellow for Policy at the Family Research Council is opposed to gays in the military and he made known three significant opinions of his and his organization (thanks to his interview on Hardball with Chris Matthews): 

  • Gays should not legally be allowed to serve in the military.
  • Example: A 22-year-old gay person should only serve in civilian capacities.
  • The U.S. should outlaw gay behavior.

"I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior."
– Peter Sprig

I hear over and over again that Christians do not hate gays, they simply hate their behaviors. Furthermore, I hear constantly that homosexuals are not being denied any rights. Sprig is advocating for the rights of gays to serve be denied and that we bring back sodomy laws and prosecute homosexuals for their bedroom behaviors. How does that "love the sinner, hate the sin" thing go again?

Two top military leaders  testified on Capital Hill today that gays should be able to serve openly in the military. Apparently, he's not afraid that soldiers will leave the military en mass if they are forced to serve next to gay soldiers, as Sprig seems to think. Haven't gays always served in the military (and other soldiers aware of it)? Didn't people make the same arguments when women entered the military?

Watch the Hardball interview. Sprig was blunt about his beliefs.