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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mellow Mushroom goes the extra mile for U.S. soldier's family

There is a Mellow Mushroom that opened up not long ago in nearby Burlington. I've yet to eat at that one but now I'm feeling led to. For one thing the pizza is insanely delicious. For another, after reading this next story y'all will agree: this company rocks!

The tale begins with Army National Guard Major Shawn Fulker, who lives in Jacksonville, Florida. At the moment Fulker is deployed thousands of miles from home in Afghanistan. His wife's birthday was coming up and in spite of the distance he wanted to do something nice for her. Josephine Fulker really loves the pizza at Mellow Mushroom, so Shawn e-mailed the company's corporate office and asked if one of their Jacksonville restaurants could deliver a pizza and a $50 gift card to his wife. Shawn let them know that he would gladly call the store and pay for it by credit card.

Good story so far, aye? But wait: it gets better...

Mellow Mushroom's headquarters forwarded the e-mail to the company's Fleming Island location, which went above and beyond the call of duty. First they made a special heart-shaped crust for the pizza.

Then the store manager and another employee drove out with it, stopped at a supermarket to buy balloons and a vase of flowers, and proceeded on to the Fulker home.

They delivered it all - including the $50 gift card - to Josephine.

And the store didn't charge Shawn Fulker a thing! From the story at ABC News...
John Valentino, the Mellow Mushroom franchisee who owns that location and others in Jacksonville, said his store was happy to have made the day special for the couple.

"Of course we weren't going to charge him for anything," Valentino told ABC. "Him being a serviceman and his wife being home. … Hopefully in her husband's absence we were able to help her have a great birthday while he's over in Afghanistan serving our country."

Josephine Fulker had just finished Skyping with her husband when the doorbell rang and she saw the two Mellow Mushroom employees at her door on Thursday.

"I don't know their names exactly, but they had a pizza and a big butterfly balloon and a vase of flowers with a gift card for $50 and they told me that it was from my husband. I said 'Oh my goodness.' I was surprised and excited and overwhelmed and all of that. It was so nice," she said.

It was especially nice because Shawn Fulker had already sent his wife flowers and candy earlier that day. Since he hadn't been able to check his email for a while, he had no idea that Mellow Mushroom had been working on his initial request.

The Facebook page for Mellow Mushroom at Fleming Island has gone bonkers with gratitude about their efforts for the Fulkers. Which was a very, very cool thing to have done.

And hey, Fulker and his unit also showed their thanks, all the way from Afghanistan!

It's stuff like this that renews my faith in humanity. Way to go Mellow Mushroom :-)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

70 degrees Fahrenheit at quarter 'til 5 p.m.

This is in north-central North Carolina, mind ya, and ordinarily at this time in the midst of winter the temperature should be about 40 degrees colder.

I went to Greensboro yesterday evening. It was much the same, with people wearing shorts, t-shirts etc. at 8 at night. I wore my "Weird Al" Yankovic Alpocalypse Tour shirt and if I didn't know any better could have sworn it was late spring.

But I've already seen snow four times this winter so far, most recently this past weekend (the girlfriend and I found ourselves looking at about 2 inches of the white stuff falling at her house in Roanoke). There's another cold front about to hit us in the worst way (read as: severe storms, high winds and possible tornadoes) this evening and given the way the trends work out we're apt to have snow later next week.

Expect a bunch more posts soon. In the meantime I gotta go unplug the 'spensive stuff. All of y'all getting hit by this storm system (which The Weather Channel has decided to dub "Magnus") and all of you folks in the path of it, batten down and good luck!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bias in mainstream press? WHAT bias?! (anti-gun vs. pro-life)

The apparently big story right now is about the estimated fewer than 1,000 who marched in Washington D.C. today against the Second Amendment. I understand that this has made all of the major evening new broadcasts: CBS, NBC, CNN etc.

To the very best of my understanding, there was NO such coverage at all of yesterday's March for Life, which many have calculated drew more than 500,000 to the Mall to protest abortion -the premeditated murder of unborn children - on the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Now, applying some logic here, you would think that a story regarding half a million people would dwarf that of an event which drew, at most, several hundred.

But I suppose when it comes to stories and their coverage from big media, some of them just don't fit the expected narrative...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter Storm Khan is giving us snow today

Dear management and staff of The Weather Channel:

You probably thought this was something "cute", didn't you?

Next year, just drop the whole "names for winter storms" thing, okay? "Gandalf" was pushing it already. But not like this...


Gun control lunacy: Feinstein would take YOUR weapon but keep hers, and the modern cost of saving a life

Senator Dianne Feinstein - a person who exemplifies the absolute worst that an elected official could possibly be - is trying to ram through another gun control bill on Capitol Hill. It would take away dang nearly every firearm that We The People have as articulated in the Second Amendment... EXCEPT for her own and those of other government officials.

So lemme get this straight: Feinstein, who owns a pistol or two herself, wants legislation that will prohibit the "little people" from having guns but also wants to keep her own.

I am trying to be a man of polite society so I will refrain from using the word that many will be tempted to use in describing Feinstein. I can at least say with no small degree of accuracy "rank hypocrisy".

And then from the D.C. area there is the story of a man who several days ago came across a pack of pit bulls trying to maul a little boy to death.

The man fired his handgun at the dogs, saving his young neighbor's life.

And for his valiant act of courage the man is now facing an "illegal weapon" charge because of Washington D.C.'s insane gun control laws. He faces a year in prison and $1000 in fines.

Let's get this straight: the D.C. prosecutors would rather this guy not have a gun at the cost of a dead eleven-year old. Am I getting that right?

If a jury convicts this dude, I will have lost most of the hope that's still there for America.

But not all hope, if more local sheriffs vow to refuse to comply with federal gun laws that would deprive citizens of their Second Amendment rights. Read the new piece by Chuck Baldwin at the link for the encouraging words from people across the fruited plain to those inside the Beltway.

And the words are: "Hell no."

Crazy new data storage: DNA and quartz crystals (for 300 million years)

Because I don't want to go to bed with two consecutive posts pertaining to Star Wars staring me in the face (no matter how good, or how nutty)...

A strand of DNA containing the digital data of all of Shakespeare's sonnets, a half-minute sound clip of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, a photo and a science paper was announced a few days ago in an article from the journal Nature. So you could pretty much take everything information-wise accumulated during the course of your entire life - photos, videos, music, writings, financial information, medical files, an entire Blu-ray collection of movies and TV shows, computer games and porno - and put it inside a test tube. The DNA used in the research took two weeks to extract data from, but the read times are supposed to get shorter as the tech develops.

And earlier this month a group of researchers in Japan announced they've turned quartz crystal into a storage medium that will last 300 million years. Currently it has the capacity of a standard CD, but it's thought that it can be expanded with more layers of crystal. It probably won't have the size-to-data ration of the DNA gimmick but in time it'll still hold a lot of your videos, finances, movies, porno TV shows and other stuff.

If the technology ever produces practical quantum computing and nano-scale laser diodes, there could be some wildly cool applications with this. Never mind that iPhone silliness: gimme a real Mother Box!

(Can't recall if I've ever used a Fourth World/New Gods reference on this blog before, but I have now :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

And STAR WARS EPISODE VII will be directed by... J.J. Abrams!

Get ready for it peeps...

My head hurts just thinking about what a lightsaber battle is going to look like after Abrams gets finished with all his lens flare plug-ins.

The biggest news of this hour is that J.J. Abrams will be directing Star Wars Episode VII. This will be his next project after the upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness.

Hmmmm... Star Wars and Star Trek together at last. Sorta like those old commercials for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, when you think about it...

Seriously though, this is abundawonderfully great news!! Star Wars is in very, very good hands :-)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Turkish group claims LEGO Jabba's Palace is racist, offensive to religion

Let's compare some fiction and fact...

- Jabba's Palace was first built by the B'omarr Monks, who continued to live within it and practice their religion long after after Jabba the Hutt took over and made it his headquarters.

- The Hagia Sophia was a Christian basilica until 1453 when Ottoman Turks forced their way inside, slaughtering thousands of innocent people whose blood poured into the streets of Constantinople. From that time on Christians were forbidden from worshiping within their own building.

Got that? Good. Because it only makes the claim by a group of Turkish Austrians that LEGO's new Jabba's Palace set from its Star Wars line is "racist" and an affront to religion all the more ridiculous.

LEGO version of Jabba's Palace (left) and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (right)
One is a place that has known murder, slavery and intolerance toward others. The other is a children's toy.

From The Telegraph article...

Austria’s Turkish community said the model was based on Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul and that the accompanying figures depicted Asians and Orientals as people with “deceitful and criminal personalities.”

The Turkish Cultural Community of Austria released a statement calling for Lego to apologise for affronting religious and cultural feelings.

The anger was provoked by “Jabba’s Palace”, a model of the home of Jabba the Hutt from Lego’s Star Wars product range based on the blockbusting series of science fiction films.

Jabba is the large slug-like creature who holds Han Solo captive in the film Return of the Jedi, and his palace is the setting for several crucial scenes, including using Princess Leia as his slave.

Jabba’s domed home and accompanying watchtower bare, according to the statement, an unwanted resemblance to Istanbul’s great Hagia Sophia, and another mosque in Beirut


The Jabba case came to light after an Austrian Turk complained to the organisation after his sister had bought his son the box set.

Austria’s Turkish community also took issue with the figures that went with the palace, including Jabba.

“The terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed,” said the statement posted on the organisation’s website.

“It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.”

The crimes associated with the figures, the statements adds, include terrorism, slavery, murder and human sacrifice.

Taking into account that many of the Lego figures carry weapons, the Turkish organisation also urged parents “not to buy toys of war or toys of discrimination” as the model goes against the “peaceful coexistence of different cultures in Europe”.

As an indication of the anger felt over Jabba’s Palace, the organisation said it was considering taking legal action against Lego for inciting racial hatred and insulting human dignity.

Hit the link for plenty more of this ludicrous story, including a statement LEGO released in response to what the Turks are insisting.

How about some more comparison? Like, how the Turks in Austria are claiming that "The crimes associated with the figures... include terrorism, slavery, murder and human sacrifice."

There are numerous accounts written by those who survived the conquest of Constantinople about how Sultan Mehmet II allowed his soldiers to plunder the city for three days: butchering anyone who got in their way, stealing from homes and separating families. Mehmet II took the city's most beautiful young women - and men - to be in his private harem (those who resisted were beheaded). Many boys were pressed into the service of the Janissary corps. Not long after the conquest, the Ottoman Turkish sultan sent several thousands of children to each of the major potentates of the Muslim world to be slaves.

So far as we know, the only criminal activities that Jabba the Hutt and his gang engaged in were spice-smuggling and gun-running.

Nor do I ever recall Jabba employing suicide bombers, declaring jihad against anyone or even declaring that Luke's announcing himself as a Jedi as being "blasphemy". Come to think of it, Jabba tolerated a lot of "coexistence of different cultures" at his court.

Yup, Jabba the Hutt and his palace are insulting to certain cultures and religions, no doubt about it...

Yes, it can really be like this...

Bipolar Bear, whose entire appearance in the animated series The Tick was for a whopping 8 seconds (series premiere The Tick vs. The Idea Men, 1994):

Heh-heh, love it! I've thought since the beginning that The Tick was one of the most intelligent, cerebral and funny shows to ever come out of animation. Nothing of the past decade and a half comes even close. The Nineties seriously was the height of the animated series as an art form and The Tick embodies everything that was good and pure about that era.

Speaking of bipolar disorder, I currently have three new pieces for Being Bipolar on the burner... and I can't figure out which one to run with next. Recent events complicated matters in terms of issue appropriateness, if anyone's curious. I'm hoping to have a new one up real soon.

And no, I don't mind laughing about my own mental illness. Not at all. When you're in a spot like me, you have to. But even so, I'm thankful for The Tick to have made it funny as only it could :-)

Hu Songwen: Kept alive for 13 years by his self-made dialysis machine!

This man is hardcore. HARD-CORE, no two ways about it. MacGuyver ain't got nuthin' on this dude...

Hu Songwen was diagnosed with early kidney failure in 1993. A college student at the time, Hu went to a regular hospital for the next six years on a routine basis to have dialysis scrub his blood of the waste material that a healthy metabolism has no problem with passing out of the body.

But then the money ran out. And Hu could no longer afford those hospital visits.

So left with what he deemed no choice, Hu put together a homemade dialysis machine.

And his self-crafted dialysis has kept him alive for the past thirteen years!

Mail Online has plenty on the story of Hu Songwen, including a bunch more pictures and the technical details of how his machine works.

Gotta love ingenuity and initiative like that. Whenever I find a story like this, it renews my hope in humanity. Here's wishing Hu all the best in a long and prosperous life :-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Forty years of silent screaming

The moment is still seared into my memory. Indeed, I can still feel the revulsion that was far too much for a little child to have to grasp.

It was this day in 1983. I had seen on the news about something called "abortion". Seems that it was the tenth anniversary of it being allowed. So I asked Mom what "abortion" means.

"It means a mother kills her baby before it's born."

A chunk of my childhood died that day. There are some who would think of it as "no big deal". But to me it was the beginning of a loss of innocence. The first bricks of the wall of naivety that had secured this small child away from the madness of man's own making, come crumbling down to Earth.

"It means a mother kills her baby before it's born."

My God.

And then some years later as a foolish teenager who thought himself wise, I was stupidly defending abortion. It seemed the "enlightened" thing to do, I thought. Thankfully that phase didn't survive my high school years. I'm hoping that twenty years of writing in opposition of abortion has helped me atone for it.

I made an attempt to do it as a columnist on our student newspaper at Elon, the first spring that I was a student there. My first piece as a columnist was about abortion: how it was destroying our culture, our sense of morality.

One week later while walking around with the flu and a 104-degree temperature (what an idiot) a female student walked up to me and said into my ear "You stupid pro-life fucking piece of shit."

I received some death threats too. I took a pro-life position and people claimed to want me dead for it. I'll always take perverse pride in knowing that at least a few people read my premiere essay and took it seriously...

And now, here we are: the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court decision that established a "right" to terminate an unborn child.

Funny thing: we admit that human life ends when the heartbeat stops. Why then shouldn't human life begin when a heartbeat starts?

And there is a heartbeat there. In fact, there have been roughly fifty-five million hearts that have stopped beating since this day in 1973.

See those photos on the right? Ultrasound imaging has been refined to the point where high-definition 3D pictures can be made of the unborn child within the womb of his or her mother. We can now chronicle in stark detail the development of a baby for practically its entire nine months of gestation.

Look at those pictures.

Do any of those look like "unviable tissue mass" to you?

Does a mere clump of cells within the body possess a face? Fingers? Toes?

Can a benign tumor yawn? Can it smile?

Does an appendix scream in pain when it is ripped open during a "medical procedure"?

Yes, there are screams. The first of many. There have been abortionists who halted their "practice" at once when they heard the sound of an unborn baby's agony. Too often there are other screams too. The screams of those who realize sooner or later "Dear God, have mercy on me for what I have done..."

Fifty-five million hearts silenced. Fifty-five million people. Killed without being allowed to draw breath beyond the comforting warmth of their mothers' wombs.

Now think about what we have lost in those forty years...

We have lost great scientists.

We have lost great physicians.

We have lost great artists.

We have lost great athletes.

We have lost great leaders, great statesmen.

I've been dabbling in filmmaking for several years now. How many directors, writers, actors, cinematographers have we been robbed of? Their gifts never to see the light of day, the flicker of the big screen.

Fifty-five million people, dead before they were born. The Nazi regime murdered 12 million.

And yet some dare to wonder why there is such violent in our streets. In our homes. In our schools.

How the hell can we possibly claim to value the preciousness of human life we see every day, when we don't give a damn about the preciousness of human life when it is at its most vulnerable?

I... don't see how that is possible at all.

"But Chris, it's a woman's body."


Yeah, I said "bullshit".

It's not a "woman's body". It's the body of a whole another person. A person with his or her own chromosomes and brain activity. If a woman doesn't want to be bound to one body, she shouldn't be reckless with her own. If she is, then there are alternatives. There are thousands of barren couples in this country who are desperate to have a child in their life. Let them have that opportunity.

Fifty-five million children dead. Across the span of forty years.

Forty is the biblical number of completion. God made the children of Israel wander in the wilderness for forty years. From that weak and timid band of refugees came a strong and hardened people who took back the land promised their fathers. Forty is the age of full maturity, in body and mind and spirit.

What have we come to, in the forty years that God has mercifully allowed us since this day in 1973?

Can we say honestly proclaim that four full decades of abortion have nurtured within us a better heart and soul?

Or maybe it is that we no longer have that soul. Perhaps, we don't deserve it. Forty years is an awful long time to look back upon an error and repent of it. For one individual or for a people entire.

More laws will not restore the soul of our culture. Taking guns away won't replenish it. Not all of the politicians and psychologists and pop culture icons put together will bring back a thing that God has given us but we have chosen to let fall away.

President Barack Obama surrounded himself with children last week when he signed his executive orders pertaining to gun laws. Imagine how many more could have been there if he and those like him and allowed those children to live.

Don't talk to me about the violence on the evening news when we let the greatest violence of all happen in the clinical sterility of a "clinic".

Forty years.

How far we have come.

I don't know of any better way to wrap this up than to defer to the wisdom of one of the most beloved people of the modern era...

"The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion, because if a mother can kill her own child what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between." -- Mother Teresa

Monday, January 21, 2013

LOST as a Nintendo-style role-playing game

It's been ages since anything Lost-related has appeared on this site. Someday I'll try to write up an essay that's been percolating for a year or two: how the answers to everything we'd been looking for really, honestly were revealed or explained by the time of "The End" in 2012. Including how the Island could move (there's a scientific theory for that!).

Until then, it's nice to see that Lost still resonates. Enough so that CollegeHumor.com explored the notion: "What if Lost was a computerized role-playing game?" Sorta in the style of Dragon Warrior running on a Super Nintendo...

There may be spoilers if you haven't watched Lost, so viewer beware. For those who held on to the very end, this is a pretty hilarious video.

Look: A real X-rated movie! (more about DJANGO UNCHAINED)

Yes, I realize that this post might bother some people. But I'm going to say it anyway...

A few minutes ago I published my review of Django Unchained. A movie that some have condemned as being "insensitive", "racist", "offensive", and too many other epithets that are wildly, wildly wrong.

I will not only stand by what I've written about Django Unchained - that it's not a film about slavery or even race at all but instead an epic quest to find one's lost love - but I dare say that those who want to be upset about this movie... well, they don't know what the hell they're talking about.

I thought we as a people were beyond this already. Apparently not and Django Unchained is proving it. That there are some who apparently can't be happy unless they've something to unfairly harp-on about being "racist" or whatever. Spike Lee comes to mind (he said he'd never watch Django Unchained because of how he claims it portrays people of African descent).

These are the kind of people that Booker T. Washington, that venerable educator and orator, wrote about...

"There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well."

I'll eagerly contend that Quentin Tarantino has produced the most poignant, the most endearing and the most accurate film portraying slavery in the South in an unwholesomely long time. Heck, I could even see this movie shown in high school history classes.

This is a movie that is NOT defined along racial lines. It is a film that defies those. And I absolutely believe that this is at the heart of why some people want to be offended by it.

You wanna know how a movie about slavery can truly be disturbing, even downright sickening to watch? Because what you're about to see (if you've the patience and the stomach for the next two hours) makes Django Unchained seem downright puny so far as human bondage goes. I've been thinking about Goodbye Uncle Tom since coming out of seeing Django Unchained and what have I realized from the juxtaposition?

Again: that those condemning Django Unchained don't know what the hell they're talking about.

So here it is, from 1971, a movie that I first saw at Butt-Numb-A-Thon 9 a little over five years ago. The movie that to date is still the only X-rated film that I've watched in my entire life: Goodbye Uncle Tom...


My biggest regret so far as movies go right now is that I've yet to see Les Misérables, because everyone I know who's watched it has been raving about how spectacular and downright beautiful it is. So that's currently on my short list, along with Hitchcock and Zero Dark Thirty.

Last weekend however, we made time to catch Django Unchained: the first Quentin Tarantino film that I've seen during its theatrical run. Not even Inglourious Basterds got that honor. I first saw that on premium cable and went numb with disbelief during the final scene. As the credits rolled my jaw was still drooping and my reaction went like "Uhhhh... that's not how I remember reading about it..."

So going in to Django Unchained, I couldn't imagine what to be braced for. I've known since the beginning that it's about a slave getting revenge while searching for his wife: all kinds of possible permutations could come from that setup. I mean, would Tarantino be above a Nat Turner-ish figure leading tens of thousand of freed slaves to the streets of Atlanta, slaughtering and burning every white person they come across in a red red orgy of blades, bullets and blood?

After Inglourious Basterds, I was afraid to speculate about his latest movie.

But that's not what we saw in Django Unchained. Instead we watched what in this writer's opinion ranks high among the most historically accurate and unapologetic films ever produced about slavery and the antebellum South.

It's 1858, somewhere in Texas. A convoy of slaves are being walked to market by two brothers. Among the "cargo" is Django (Jamie Foxx, in easily his best role since Ray). During one night of the trip a very odd dentist comes out of the darkness, looking for Django. Seems that he's the only one who can identify on sight the fugitives known as the Brittle Brothers... and there's a big fat reward on each of their heads. So it is that our hero falls in with bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who proceeds to teach Django the tricks of the trade.

But in exchange for helping Schultz find the Brittles, Django has terms of his own: to locate Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife who he was separated from by their previous owners. It's a long and winding road of tracking down murders and miscreants that leads Django and Schultz to Candyland: the notoriously brutal plantation reigned over by the sadistic Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Now there were a few things that weren't right for the period in Django Unchained. The existence of dynamite for one thing (something that Alfred Nobel wouldn't invent until six years later). I also have to question the treatment of the slaves in the very first scene: contrary to widespread belief, harsh treatment of slaves in transport and on the plantations was not something that happened on a regular basis. The disfiguring and sometimes deadly abuse was also not as prevalent as many might think, if for no other reason than because slaves were deemed to be valuable property. If the Speck Brothers had made their slaves walk across Texas in real life, barefoot and barely clothed, some if not most of them would have died from exposure and malnutrition: hardly a thoughtful way to transport one's "products". There is no record of "mandingo fighting" and it would be after the Civil War before anything like the Klan came about.

But then there are the details - some insanely minute - that Tarantino poured into Django Unchained that I have to appreciate, even applaud as a historian. The "bell collars" worn by some slaves was accurate (they were usually placed on slaves with a history of trying to escape), as well as the practice of branding some slaves with an "R" on the cheek if they had run away and been returned. Tarantino often puts a scene of exposition in his films. This time it's Calvin Candie educating Schultz and Django about phrenology: a long-held eugenics theory pertaining to skull size and capacity (even at the time it was being called a pseudoscience... and yet many "civilized" people held it in serious regard as proof of racial superiority).

For all of that however, nothing in Django Unchained is perhaps as startling as Stephen: Candie's servant, played by Samuel L. Jackson. This seems to be the biggest item of controversy about the movie: that black slaves would be that unflinchingly faithful to their masters. To the very land they were property on, even.

Folks, that's not wild fiction at all. That kind of behavior was extremely common, especially among the more wealthy plantations. Slaves like Stephen had such a fierce and unflinching devotion to their masters that it was nigh-on inconceivable to them to be otherwise. Indeed, there are many records about how after the Civil War, many newly-emancipated slaves chose to remain on their former masters' lands as free men and tenant farmers. That wasn't a habit that disappeared overnight after the Confederacy surrendered, but to the best of my knowledge Django Unchained is the very first time that a movie has portrayed slavery's "Stockholm Syndrome" with such uncompromising accuracy.

But this isn't a movie about slavery. This isn't even really a movie about revenge, I thought. Instead, Django Unchained is a story of love and devotion between husband and wife. This is a quest movie: Django not giving up until he finds Broomhilda. Having to endure unspeakable hardship and pain and despair, not relenting until he can at long last be reunited with his wife. This is a love story decorated with guns and explosives... not to mention crime, cruelty and castration.

It's not Homer's The Odyssey. But I will say that with Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino has crafted a uniquely American epic. One that will certainly pass the test of time.

I'm gonna give Django Unchained my highest recommendation. Meaning that if I'm eager to have it on my Blu-ray shelf, it's worth people seeing at least once in the theaters.

"It's not a free-speech zone when we did it!"

I did not watch President Obama's inauguration today. There is nothing particularly interesting about a leader with no real vision. Sadly that's a trait that has been shared by every president since Reagan. But I digress...

It does interest me this afternoon however that President Obama continued the tradition established by former president George W. Bush of having a "free speech zone" marked off for the event...

Freedom Plaza is the site of one of the only authorized demonstration zones, where a strip of the plaza is designated a free speech zone.
The "free speech zones" were a routine and chronic practice of George W. Bush. Nobody who protested his policies was allowed anywhere close to him when he was president and out in public. There were many instances when protestors were limited to an area nearly a mile away from Bush.

The "free speech zones" were wrong then. They are just as wrong now on Obama's watch.

But that seems to be going clean over the heads of a lot of self-professed "conservatives" today, judging by how many at the above link on Politico.com are feigning outrage that Obama is keeping those who disagree with him out of sight and out of mind.

Here is what I wrote this past October about Obama continuing Bush's practice.

Now, I defy anyone to argue that it was any more right when Bush had the "free speech zones" than it is for Obama to do precisely the same.

This is but one reason why I have become so disgusted with politics. I like to think of myself as an honest person... and honest people have a problem with sullying their hands with such blatant hypocrisy.

That and as I said earlier: there is no leadership with clear and bold vision in America.

Sometimes I wonder if that might be on purpose. Or even if that's what we the people have come to embrace.

Back from the break

I needed to unplug from some things for the past couple of weeks. Including this blog.

Nothing traumatic or crazy happened. 'Cept I chose to focus on a few things and getting other things re-focused that had been lingering too much for too long.

This blog has been around for nine years now (wow!). In that time it has become quite a chronicle, a collection of documentation, about the evolution and development of that strange and bizarre creature that God created in Robert Christopher Knight. And that's what it will continue to be, until whatever point if and when I decide that it's time to retire from blogging.

But sometimes, that evolution and development appreciates the time to rest and reflect. And I'm still reflecting now. There might not be the frequency of posts that many readers (gauging from the amount of e-mails that came in) seem to enjoy, at least not off the bat.

In terms of Doctor Who, I'm regenerating. Becoming a different person.

But then, aren't we all? Isn't that what every one of us has been doing since the day each of us came into this world?

And besides, my girlfriend thinks it's time to write some more here. She has me well trained already. So I'd better get to work :-)

Thursday, January 03, 2013

It had to happen: BACK TO THE FUTURE and DOCTOR WHO mash-up!

A friend in our community theater guild is fond of wearing a t-shirt with this graphic on it...

So what would happen if Doctor Emmet Brown's DeLorean crashed head-on with the Doctor's TARDIS in a game of chicken?

Probably something like this...

Props to Kristen for coming across this uberkewl video by James Farr!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Aaron Goins Jr.'s 2012 in Review

For me personally, the best part about this New Year's Day is that I made it through the rest of 2012 without getting any more speeding tickets! Having three in the past twelve months really was going too far even for me, but at least I'll have that "defensive drivers class" coming up to write about :-)

Which one is Honey and
which one is Boo Boo?
Anyhoo, there was plenty of good about 2012... and too many things that were quite a mess. If that Psy guy doesn't make good on his promise to put an end to "Gangnam Style", I swear that I'll be reaching for a glass of whiskey, a revolver and two bullets. The country remains without any real vision or leadership. And I could have lived the rest of my life and died happy without ever being told that such a thing as Honey Boo Boo (right) exists.

But on the plus side of the ledger: 2012 saw the announcement that we ARE getting Star Wars Episodes 7-9 at last, and many more Star Wars movies afterwards.  For that alone I will say that 2012 was a terrific year!

Reviewing the previous year's pop-culture, sports, entertainment and pro-wrestling scenes (especially the pro-wrestling) really isn't my forte however. But rest assured that in his own inimitable style, Aaron Goins Jr. is on the case! Over on his blog The Highlight Reel, Aaron has composed a monstrous (and hella fun) compilation of the year that was 2012. Even if you know more about Taylor Swift than you do about Vince McMahon, you won't be at a loss for something good here. Part 1 covers professional wrestling and sports, Part 2 goes over entertainment and music and Part 3 is about anything and everything in between including more pro wrestling (are we seeing a trend in our boy Aaron's blogging?).

But I think the best part is how Aaron chose to wrap up his look back...

There were so many good times that, even outnumbered by the bad, I cannot help but smile when I think back on 2012. I hope that 2013 will be a better year for me. I hope it is a better year for us all. I hope that we can find more time to smile, more time to think, and more time to cry tears of joy and not sorrow or pain. 2013 is a year full of hope. In conclusion, I hope 2012 was great for you and that 2013 will be even better.

God bless.

Hear hear! May we all have a better year in 2013 :-)