Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The following blog post is rated R

I'm not opposed to a ratings system on general principle. Parents should be informed that movies like South Park are not appropriate for their five-year-old, cartoon though they may be. Rating a movie in and of itself is not censorship.

However, the current method of rating movies has got to go. Most avid film fans would agree. Films such as the aforementioned South Park, Clerks, American Pie, and countless others have had to be edited to secure an R-rating instead of an NC-17. The inherent problem with NC-17 is that many people equate it with the X rating given to pornography, and as a result, most theaters refuse to show NC-17 movies. The other problem is that the changes requested by the Motion Picture Association of America are often minor and nitpicky.

Another problem with ratings I steal from Roger Ebert who said at the end of his review of Almost Famous, "Why did they give an R rating to a movie perfect for teenagers?" Why indeed. Well, if memory serves, it has a number of "fucks" and a brief shot of Kate Hudson topless. Hopefully not too many teens missed out on the best movie of 2000 due to the rating alone.

All that having been said, this is, quite simply, awesome. A movie exposing the MPAA has a lot of potential. Also, watch the other clip about how films are rated; it too is priceless. I wonder if any theaters are actually going to show a movie not approved by the MPAA. The answer: none in the Tampa area, which seems utterly devoid of any sort of independent film culture. If anybody knows otherwise, please let me know.

Song lyric of the day:
"'Cause I film what's on my mind
And you say that's not groovy
So I guess you'll have to go and ban this movie"
- Unexpectedly Sober, Ban This Song (with some creative licenses, but hey, I wrote the song, I can do whatever the hell I want to it)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Quick question

This will be brief because a) I'm at work, and b) I have no doubt that Jeff will weigh in over on his blog with more informed analysis, but here we go:

Hamas has apparently agreed to implicitly recognize Israel's right to exist. On one hand, this appears to be a positive step. However, it obviously comes with ulterior motives. Similar descriptions could be made about the 2003 offer from Iran to recognize Israel, which the Bush administration turned down.

So the question is this: should such offers be rejected outright because of the ulterior motives, or should they be accepted for their potential to pave the road to peace in the Middle East?


Song lyric of the day:
"And now it's time for us to go home
Or somewhere we can stay
But you know us, we'll be up late
So sing it loud and proud
We're on our way
To a great escape"
- iSOLA, Loud and Proud

Monday, June 26, 2006

Eminent domain, imminent doom, part 2: And this time, it's personal

President Ronald Reagan was once asked the difference between big business and small business. He replied that a big business is what a small business wants to become, if only the government would just get out of the way. Numerous other disagreements with Reagan ideals notwithstanding, it seems as though he may have a point.

Only a little over a year ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. New London. I commented upon it here in a post that meandered into a discussion of the increasingly blurred definitions of liberal and conservative. Further posts ranting against the case included Aaron, Jeff, and Ben. (Jeff and Ben, of course, would be liberals commenting on the ridiculousness of that "liberal" decision.)

And now, Jacob has weighed in with an excellent post about what the Kelo decision really means. It's long, but it's a worthwhile read. It speaks for itself, so I have little to add, other than this extremely eloquent statement: the Kelo decision blows.

On a totally unrelated note, fond farewells and best wishes to iSOLA, authors of the best rock album of 2005, who have decided to call it quits after almost five years. Perhaps their garage was seized for the "public good". Keep rockin', guys.

Song lyric of the day:
"Say what you said like you meant it for me
Don't cower away from your fears
'Cause you can't care that I'm here
If you have one inch of skin on your backbone to spare for me
It's time to let it go
Let this kite fly on its own..."
- iSOLA, Backdoor Salesman

Friday, June 23, 2006

The last thing I'll say about flag-burning for now...

Yes, I know you all are getting sick of it. But the wonderful Leonard Pitts, my favorite columnist largely not only because of his eloquence but also because, well, frankly, he's just so gosh darn sane and logical, has written an article bashing a Diane Feinstein article in Tuesday's USA Today supporting the flag-burning amendment. Maybe I'm cynical or something, but the fact that a Democrat is actually co-sponsor of this bill seems like a blatant political ploy to me. Granted, I was never a Feinstein fan back when I lived in her state. And, full disclosure, I haven't actually read her article. Pitts' commentary does not exactly fill me with the desire to do so.

But I digress. Read the article, it's good. And from it, I would like to quickly cite the following two sentences: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands." Americans would do well not to forget that second part.

Update: How could I forget a song lyric?

Song lyric of the day:
"They all want to love the cause
'Cause they all need to be the cause
They all want to fuck the cause"
- Broken Social Scene, Cause = Time

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Another wannabe free-market capitalist gets grounded by reality

So the Senate decided not to increase the minimum wage. Not shocking, but noteworthy.

There will always be that part of me that really wants to completely give in to my laissez-faire attitude, go full-on libertarian, and say the free market will sort it out. In this case, that part of me is trumped by the much larger part that says $5.15 an hour does not constitute a living wage and is a ridiculously small sum of money to receive for any amount of work.

I honestly wonder what harm a reasonable minimum wage would bring about. Does anyone else have insight into this? Is it just that conservatives don't want government interfering with the market, or is there an actual foreseeable downside?

Song lyric of the day:
"I've come down with something
I'm frozen, tied up, cast in lead
It's simple, so says the captain
Face forward, move slow, forge ahead"
- Guster, The Captain

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Points to ponder

From an email I received a while ago (not sure of the source, but this isn't original, other than some small changes I made), I wanted to offer my loyal readers (if there are any left given my recent lapse in updates) the following things to consider:

  • On cows and immigrants: Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that our government can track a cow born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she sleeps in the state of Washington and they tracked her calves to their stalls? But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around our country. Maybe we should give them all a cow.

  • On the Constitution: You know, they keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it's worked for over 200 years and we're not using it anymore.

  • On the Ten Commandments: Ever wonder the real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse? Well, the truth is you can't post "Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians -- it creates a hostile work environment.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled lives.

Speaking of flags...

David Barzelay, my infamous successor (and predecessor) as editor-in-chief of The Slant, has an intriguing post about what truly constitutes a flag. It raises a lot of questions.

A commenter subsequently indicated that it is apparently illegal to wear the flag (and also, the University of Southern California seems to have passed quite a few laws on the subject). This means that when I used to wear my old baseball t-shirt with red-and-white bats as stripes and baseballs as stars, I was actually committing a crime. Who knew?

And another quote, this from the illustrious Nelson Muntz: "So burn that flag if you must! But before you do, you'd better burn a few other things! You'd better burn your shirt and your pants! Be sure to burn your TV and car! Oh yeah, and don't forget to burn your house! Because none of those things would exist without six red stripes, seven red stripes, and a helluva lot of stars!"

Song lyric of the day:
"As if it wasn't hard enough
You want to make it so much harder
Now in another world I could learn to forget
But 'til then I'm here making room for new regrets
Some flowers they never bloom, and some flowers just bloom dead"
- the Wallflowers, Some Flowers Bloom Dead

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"The symbol of your country CANNOT just be a flag!"

According to Jeff, from an article in USA Today, the United States Senate is one vote away from raping the United States Constitution, defecating on it, ripping it to shreds, and leaving the tatters in a ditch somewhere.

But the American flag, thank God, will remain untouched.

Apparently, an amendment that would outlaw flag-burning is only one vote from passing the Senate. Given that all 50 states have apparently adopted non-binding resolutions endorsing said amendment, I guess that means there's a good chance it would subsequently be ratified. And that would be one more right down the toilet.

Memo to Washington: If our brave soldiers around the globe (not just in Iraq, lest we forget) are only defending a flag, they are defending nothing. A piece of cloth does not a great country make. The foundation, the bedrock of our nation are the freedoms we offer those fortunate enough to call themselves its citizens. I need to borrow Jeff's words here because he put it so eloquently: any Constitutional Amendment that restricts those freedoms "is not a monument to those who died for this nation - it is the worst possible affront to their memories."

No Senator or Representative who voted in favor of this amendment will ever, EVER, receive a vote from me.

I conclude with the following quote from fictional President Andrew Shepherd, who perhaps "got it" more than any real president in our lifetimes: "You want to claim this land as the 'land of the free'? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free.'"

Until that, I guess we'll have to sing about the land of the gradually less free.

Song lyric of the day:
"Where did the time go
When everything was simple and free?
I want to know what happened
Somebody woke me before I could have my American dream"
- Better Than Ezra, American Dream

(And by the way, the statement that this would be the first Constitutional Amendment to restrict First Amendment rights is slightly untrue. I would argue the 18th did the same thing. Fortunately, it was repealed by the 21st. Which is a good thing, because if this amendment passes, I'm gonna need a drink or ten.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Report on Alberto

Yes, we got pelted by some serious rain yesterday, but there was very little wind. Today, the skies are a beautiful blue and the winds are blowing at extreme speeds of 5 miles an hour.

In short, Alberto is one of the sorriest excuses for a tropical storm I've ever seen. Not that I'm complaining. But loyal readers might remember my earlier experiences with ridiculously overhyped storms.

Song lyric of the day:
"I've been waiting half my life to find the real world
If you find the real world, let me know
But it never rains enough to cool my fever
All it does is rain"
- the Long Winters, Scent of Lime

(Yes, I've used that one before, but it seemed rather applicable here. Plus, it's still my life.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

A funny juxtaposition

Out of random curiosity, was anyone else amused that, mere hours after we got Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iran suddenly expressed a willingness to talk and potentially compromise on their nuclear program?

Song lyric of the day:
"All's fair in love and war
Until it feels like you're dying alone
Tears turn to waterfalls
But I'd taste tears over nothing at all"
- Sense Field, Fun Never Ends

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Great album openers

Because posts about music have become a recent trend, I figured I'd start one of my own. Or maybe several. But to begin, a simple question: what is the greatest album opener of all time?

To me, a truly great album opener should be one of the best songs on the album. It should immediately capture the listener's attention and let him or her know they're in for a hell of a ride. Examples include Metallica's Enter Sandman and Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. Other notables that have sprung into mind include Modest Mouse's 3rd Planet and U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday. Of all of these, the latter would probably garner my vote at the moment.

What's everyone else got?

Friday, June 02, 2006

This would be the greatest travesty in history

Okay, I exaggerate. But I can still remember watching through idealistic 15-year-old eyes as rightfielder Tony Tarasco leaped in the air to surely turn a near home run by Derek Jeter into an out, only to see some 12-year-old punk with whose name I would become disgustingly familiar reach over Tarasco's glove and pull the ball into the stands, stealing a home run for Jeter, offering crew chief Rich Garcia the chance to make a bullshit call by not ruling fan interference, demoralizing my beloved Orioles, and robbing me of the opportunity to witness my coveted O's-Braves World Series. And oh by the way, we had tickets to the World Series had the O's made it.

Keeping all those things in mind, surely my readers must understand why this is simply unimaginable.

If I had never seen or heard the name Jeffrey Maier again, it would be too soon. And now there's even the slimmest opportunity that he might wear the uniform of the very team he destroyed?!?! Horse hockey!

Surely Peter Angelos has an ulterior motive. Surely the plan is to lure Maier to Baltimore with promises of stardom, only to have him be ambushed at Camden Yards by all the fans (and there are many) who still remember that fateful night.

I wish I could give that much credit to the Orioles' owner, but I don't. Oh well.

(Actually, the truth is, as pissed as I was back then and still am, if I ever met Maier in real life, I'd most likely say to him, "You're the bastard who stole the ALCS from the Orioles. I'd say that means you owe me a beer." And then probably drink with him the whole night and talk baseball. But only because I force myself not to hold grudges.)

Song lyric of the day:
"To find someone you love
You gotta be someone you love"
- Nada Surf, Concrete Bed