Archive for November, 2012

KimIn the remake of “Red Dawn” currently in the theaters, North Korea invades and occupies the United States. No, really.

If you want an analysis of how weird and ridiculous this is, check out this piece. Long story short, China was originally supposed to be the occupying force in the movie, replacing the now-defunct Soviet Union from the 1984 original.

But guess what? China is the second-biggest consumer of Hollywood entertainment after North America, and the studios didn’t want to piss off a major portion of the film’s foreign market. Yep, it’s a more complicated world than it was in 1984.

The studios needed a villain nobody likes, who wasn’t going to be a factor in the movie’s box office take. And apparently North Korea was marginally more credible than the Westboro Baptist Church.

It got me thinking. What would it be like for a North Korean officer getting his orders prior to that invasion? I think it would go something like this …

Welcome to Military Headquarters, Colonel. And congratulations. You’ve been selected for a very important mission. We’re planning to invade and occupy the United States.

Why? Well, they’ve got something called “The Internet.” From what I understand, it’s mostly a repository for porn and kitten videos. Anyway, remember when our missile test failed back in April? Apparently a lot of Americans on this “Internet” made “Kim Jong Un can’t get it up” jokes, and he wasn’t pleased. (more…)

Alright! Got some discussion going on my previous entry concerning Ouija boards, from two very different religious perspectives. Which is cool. I’m not above using a little bit of religious controversy as a cynical ploy to generate readership. (Stay tuned for my upcoming post titled: “The Dalai Lama. What a Dick.”)

As an added bonus, the people weighing in happen to be two of my favorite bloggers. Ray Ladouceur’s “Dogwood Tales” incorporates woodworking advice and entertaining videos.

Check it out here:

And Carlette Norwood Ritter’s “Lette’s Chat” is a blog talk radio show that features thought-provoking and fun discussions with an array of fascinating guests.

Check it out here:

As I say, they approach the subject from very different perspectives and you can see their original comments in the previous post. (more…)

A friend of mine recently told me about how he was helping with a church fundraiser where they were selling second-hand toys. Somebody dropped off a Ouija board, and one of the church ladies freaked out – claiming it was a tool of Satan.

To calm her down, they dumped it in a trash can and that was the end of it.

Here’s my question. Why do people still worry about Ouija boards?

I’m not going to get into the feasibility of an afterlife, ghosts, or contact with the departed. That could be – and has been – the subject of many books. (I recommend “Spook” by Mary Roach. Come to think of it, I recommend anything by Mary Roach.)

I’ve got friends who believe very firmly in the validity of spirit communication and séances. I’ve got other friends who believe just as firmly in the principles of rational skepticism. Call me a vacillating chickenshit, but I’d like to remain friends with both camps.

So let’s just sum up all of the aforementioned topics in two words – it’s debatable.

But the Ouija Board, which Elijah Bond introduced in 1890, was a product of a particular movement calling itself spiritualism that originated in late 19th Century America, peaked in the early 20th Century, and unfathomably still persists in some forms to this day.

I say “unfathomably” because there’s literally no credible historic or scientific debate over the fact that this particular movement was total bullshit. (more…)

Very cool Dracula-themed Google doodle today to mark Bram Stoker’s birthday. I like the fact that the depiction of Dracula they used is the one from Stoker’s book, not the one that became standard in later years. We’re talking the ugly old man version of Dracula. The one who’s not the least bit f**kable.

See, I’ve argued this point with other Dracula fans before, and I still insist I’m right. The sexy, seductive version of Dracula was not the one in Stoker’s book. That version of Dracula came later, when the handsome Bela Lugosi played him in the 1931 film version, and left his indelible stamp on the character and on virtually all subsequent portrayals of vampires in popular fiction.

But wait, didn’t Dracula seduce Lucy? Well, he sucked her blood and killed her. I don’t recall a scene in the book where he took her out for Thai food and salsa dancing first.

Here’s my trump card in that argument. A couple of times in the book, Stoker refers to Dracula’s foul breath. What do you expect? He’s dead, he subsists on blood and he lived in an era before Tic Tacs were invented.

Now there’s A LOT that seducers in gothic novels can get away with. They can be savage, impetuous and cruel. They can rob, ravish, plunder and murder. But they CANNOT get away with having bad breath.

So there. Game, set and match.

Wow! Election Day is finally here. I’m going to warn you about some things to be wary of when you vote tomorrow.
But first, let me make one thing very clear. This is not a political blog.

The reason I’m so emphatic on that score is because I recently completed a long stint as a newspaper reporter, covering a political beat.

I’m all for free speech and open discussion of the important issues. Even so, the constant bellicosity that seems to define politics these days (and has always defined it, if we’re going to be honest) got wearying after a while. Around election time, it can get particularly shrill.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. In fact, I believe it’s necessary on some level. I just personally feel like taking a break from it.

So how about this? The subject of this particular blog entry may be political. But it’s not partisan. This doesn’t apply to any particular candidate. In fact, I don’t have the presidential race in mind when I give the following warnings.

This is more for the regional political contests. The ones where the incumbents and challengers don’t have an international press corps parsing every utterance, written or verbal. Those are the ones where bullshit is most likely to fly under the radar.

I was inspired to write this because I attended a candidates’ forum a couple of weeks ago, and saw an incumbent pull the bait-and-switch, which I’ll detail below.

When a politician is telling you why you should vote for him or her, watch out for the following tactics. (more…)