Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Blogoversary

Today is this humble blog's first birthday, and to celebrate I'm sitting here at home with an annoying head cold. Yay. I'm not going to do a retrospective of the past year, because I think that would be stupid, plus it would be more work than I feel like doing just now. So I'll just say it's been a good year, for the most part, and I'm looking forward to doing more of whatever I'm inclined to do over the next year. How's that for a resolution?

Rather than waxing on lyrically about crap, here are a few bite-sized items related to sitting around at home with no energy and no attention span. This post will probably be somewhat underwhelming for anyone expecting a momentous monumental year-end post. If you fall into that category, feel free to take the issue up with my Customer Service department.

  • First, a couple of awful movies. It's good to have a stack of awful movies on DVD when you have a cold. Monster from a Prehistoric Planet is your standard cookie-cutter 60's Japanese monster movie (or "kaiju"): Researchers go to primitive Pacific island, find baby creature (called a "Gappa"), take it back to Japan, mom & dad come looking for it, stomping all over Tokyo in the process. Eventually people wise up and give the baby back, and the happy Gappa family flies off into the sunset. Some posters on IMDB assert it was supposed to be a spoof, but I'm just not seeing it. Still, if you've always wanted to see Tokyo attacked by huge jet propelled lizard-chickens, this may be your only chance. I'm not really a kaiju fanatic -- no, really, I'm seriously not -- but I've seen enough of them to know this isn't the cream of the crop.
  • Second bad movie of the day is the "classic" Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. This is my dose of Xmas spirit for the year. Well, this and the occasional holiday-themed beer. Sadly, I didn't have any holiday-themed beer handy. It probably would've helped. Kids on Mars are sad, and do nothing but sit around and watch Earth TV all day. It's a planetary crisis, so the leader of Mars and several helpers go to Earth and after several thrilling adventures they capture Santa and a couple of kids and haul them back to Mars, to be their Santa for a change. Everyone seems happy with the new arrangement except for a handful of grumpy malcontents. They plot against Santa, and "mirth" ensues. The baddies lose, and Santa & the kids head back to Earth just in time for Christmas. Yay!

    If this had been on TV when I was 6, I might've actually liked it. Yes, it's corny and stupid. I defy you to name a single Santa Claus movie that isn't corny and stupid. (No, Bad Santa doesn't count.) Yes, the costumes are really poor, and continuity breaks down at several points -- what ever happened to the rescue mission from Earth, for instance? On the other hand, the mod 60's Martian house is pretty damn groovy, if you ask me, and when the bad guy rants about TV turning people into imbeciles, you have to admit he makes a valid point.

    This movie usually shows up on lists of the worst movies of all time, but that's unfair. It's a kids movie, and you can't compare it against grownup or even teen fare. And even as movies for kids go, there's far worse out there, even if we limit ourselves to holiday movies. The Star Wars Holiday Special is wayyyy worse than this.
  • Today's new taste sensation: Smoked salt caramels from Fran's Chocolates. Amazing. I've read a number of raves about salted caramels recently but had never tried the stuff, so when I saw these at the grocery store, I thought I'd give them a try. It doesn't sound like this would be good, and it's not easy to describe the taste or why it's good, but it is. The only similar thing that comes to mind is the late, lamented bacon caramel milkshake you could get for a short while at one of the food carts on 5th avenue in downtown Portland. If you had one of those when you had the chance, these are kind of like that, but not cold or bacony.
  • I was going to write about a fun 1903 astronomy textbook I found at Powell's the other day, but I'm not feeling sufficiently brainy to really pull it off. But I will note that the maps of Mars show the canals. How cool is that?
  • The local news today was nothing but handwringing about those stupid missing mountaineers again. Yes, I said "stupid". If you go climbing an 11,000 foot mountain in December without basic safety equipment, that qualifies as stupid in my book. It's not like they were climbing to search for the rare cancer-curing moss that only grows at the top of the volcano, or anything worthwhile like that. Other than being able to tell people that you did it -- boring them to tears in the process -- there's nothing much on the reward side of the risk/reward tradeoff. But then, I just don't really get mountaineering, I don't see the attraction, and using the stock "because it's there" excuse on me is just going to lead to more questions.
  • Oh, and I haven't forgotten Iraq. I haven't posted about it lately because it's just been more of the same, day after day, but now it looks like our Glorious Leader has a great new plan that's bound to work out great. Somehow, the results of the last election, weekly poll results, and events on the ground in Iraq have all been filtered and distilled and tweaked and stretched to the breaking point, so that now we're told that what the public really wants is a massive escalation, not a withdrawal, and all this time we've actually been begging George to please, oh, please, send another 20-30,000 troops into the meat grinder. Really. I had no idea that's what we were asking for. Shows what I know, I guess.

    The really weird thing is that everyone keeps presenting this as a step towards getting out of Iraq. Really it's a step instead of getting out, taken purely to make it look like George & friends are "doing something", without having to face any uncomfortable facts or make any fundamental policy shifts. Everyone wants to pretend otherwise, but that's what it is, just another stupid publicity stunt. Anything else you hear is just more lies and spin, and I'm surprised anyone believes that crap anymore. Maybe they're the same people who always sign on for the fad diet of the month, where you're supposed to stuff yourself with nothing but steak and chocolate frosting every meal and still drop 300 pounds in a week. If the logic part of your brain is broken or missing, I guess you'll believe just about anything George says.

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