Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Has Happened To The History Channel?

I can remember the days when the History Channel was home to some quality programming.  When history was actually mentioned on the channel.  But now it's gone the way of MTV, airing one terrible reality show after another in a race to the bottom to appeal to the lowest common denominator.  Just look at their line up:

American Restoration
American Pickers

Pawn Stars

Big Shrimpin'
Hairy Bikers
Ice Road Truckers
What is this garbage?  How do any of these shows have even have the remotest relevance to history?  This is an absolute joke.  This is nothing but gawking at the lower class.  The channel should change its name to the Red Neck Reality Show Channel.  Anyone employed by the History Channel should be filled with shame.

Heartbreak Ridge

For Veteran's Day I did manage to find a Granada film to watch - Heartbreak Ridge.  Clint Eastwood plays a surly, troubled Marine Corp gunnery sergeant who, when he's not picking fights, finds himself in jail on drunk and disorderly charges.  Mario van Peebles co-stars as a terrible actor pretending to be a flamboyant marine who moonlights as a horrible singer/guitarist who thinks he's going to be a rock star.  Truly one of the worst performances I've seen outside of a B movie.  I had to fight the urge to shut the movie off every time he referred to himself as, "the ayatollah of rock & rolla" which he did several times.  Clint is a certified bad ass - a congressional medal of honor winner for his service in Korea - and is assigned to whip a platoon of cocky, entitled, insubordinate marines into fighting shape. 

The portrayal of the force recon marines - the marine corp special forces - was one of the most unrealistic things I've seen in a film.  They were completely undisciplined, spending more time goofing off and trying to act like macho tough guys than doing any actual training.  They are insubordinate, repeatedly ignoring direct orders and telling their commanding officer 'you can't tell me what to do'.  One of them even picks a fight with Clint (and loses badly).  If any soldiers really acted like this, I'm sure they would be dishonorably discharged.  It's an insult to anyone who has ever served in the military.  Some people have suggested that it is a satire of gung-ho war movies but I really didn't get that impression.  Any satire present was completely unintentional and I think calling it a satire is making an excuse for a poor movie.

This movie was a failure on nearly every level and I couldn't find anything to like about it.  It fails as a war movie with an hour and a half buildup for a 10 minute battle which was hugely anticlimactic.  The superior officers are a bad cliche - incompetent dim wits who hold a grudge against Clint and are constantly setting him up to fail.  If you're looking for some insight into the Granada conflict, you're better off reading the Wikipedia entry since this doesn't tell you anything about what led up to the invasion, what happened during combat, or the aftermath.  It may as well have been a fictional conflict.  There is no character development and no depth to any of the characters.  The dialogue is laughable.  The plot is eye rolling.  The only thing I can imagine that anyone might enjoy is if you're looking for a movie where Clint is a tough guy who beats people up and thumbs his nose at authority, and you don't care about anything else, then this might be the movie for you.  Otherwise you're better of staying away.

Just watching this trailer again makes me cringe.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans Day

It's time once again to thank all of the brave men and women both currently serving and retired from active duty who have risked their lives for my freedom and safety.  Nothing I can say will ever come close to expressing the gratitude I feel. 

Usually I observe Veterans Day by watching a war movie, however I don't know if there are any left that I haven't seen.  I watched Band of Brothers again earlier this year and its companion series The Pacific (which was disappointing in comparison).  I watched Patton on Memorial Day.  It's been a while since I've seen The Longest Day or A Bridge Too Far, but I feel like I need something other than WWII or Vietnam.  I don't know if there are any films about the Grenada invasion, I couldn't find one on google.  I kind of feel like watching Tropic Thunder again, is that too disrespectful?  Maybe I should watch We Were Soldiers, I haven't seen that in a few years.  I'm open to suggestions.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Smooth Criminal

At some point last week a terrible cover of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal came on the radio.  What made this cover so bad was that the band performed it - Alien Ant Farm according to the internet - turned it into an alternative song.  This is exactly why I rarely listen to KNDD - I don't want bad music burrowing into my head like the worm that Khan put into Chekov's ear in Star Trek II.  And if you're wondering, yes I did shriek in agony just like Chekov when I heard that song.  The problem here is that I heard just enough of it that it keeps getting stuck in my head.  And here's the weird part - it only happens at work for some reason.  I don't know what it is about this desk that it torments me with bad music, maybe it's possessed. 

If you haven't heard the cover, do yourself a favor and don't go out and listen to it.  It's worse than the heavy metal cover of Come On Eileen that I had planned years ago and, fortunately for all, never followed through on.  I still think a Canyonero cover is a good idea though.  I know a few people in bands and have tried to talk them into performing a live cover but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears.  It smells like a steak and seats 35.  Since I refuse to link to Alien Ant Farm, here's the Canyonero song instead. 

Anyway, long story short, if you've got any songs that will dislodge Alien Ant Farm from my brain, let me know.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Iniative 1183

Yesterday I got home and opened my mailbox to find yet another large, glossy political pamphlet telling me to vote no on Initiative 1183, the initiative to privatize liquor sales.  Like so many of it's previous brethren, this pamphlet told me in bold print that Costco is contributing millions of dollars to the campaign and is trying to buy the election.  Ignoring the other facts that passing 1183 will mean opening liquor stores within schools, that DUI fatalities will increase at least 1000 fold, and that society as we know it will come to an end, I couldn't help wondering why, if Costco is spending so much money to pass this initiative, then why am I not getting any mailings telling me to vote yes while I'm receiving at least 2 a week telling me to vote no.  And why are 3 out of 4 televised commercials I see telling me to vote no.  And which firemen am I supposed to believe, the ones telling me to vote yes or the ones telling me to vote no? 

So I set off to find some kind of data telling me how much money the vote no folks are spending, since they are so focused on spending.  I assumed that there had to be some sort of transparency on campaign financing, but didn't know where to look.  After some digging, I found the Public Disclosure Commission web site.  Unfortunately I discovered that it's not as easy as just searching by initiative, candidate, ballot measure, etc.  You have to search by committee, and there may be (and most likely are) multiple committees for each initiative.  As it turns out there are hundreds and hundreds of committees to search through. 

While far from a thorough accounting, I did make some progress.  I found that the Yes On 1183 Coalition has spent roughly $18 million so far.  The largest contributors thus far being Costco, Safeway, and Trader Joe's.  And it should be noted that with the exception of Trader Joe's, every contributor is from Washington state.

On the other hand is Protect Our Communities.  This poor organization has thus far spent roughly $12 million to tell us how much Costco is spending.  Not as much as the proponents, but still a significant amount.  What I found most interesting, however is that the majority of contributors are from out of state.  The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Of America, Inc out of Washington DC are far and away the biggest contributors donating almost $9 million to date.  I'm sure that the well being of Washington citizens is their primary concern.  The National Beer Wholesalers Assn of Alexandria, VA is the next largest contributor.  Surely their motives are altruistic as well.  As a matter of fact it appears that 80-90% of contributors are out of state alcohol distributors, and the majority of in state contributions come from unions.  I don't know what the UFCW Local 21 or the Teamsters have to gain by rejecting the initiative, but they have donated a significant amount.

So, after all of the lies and BS put forward by the no on 1183 campaign, I am not surprised to find that nearly all of the people trying to "protect our communities" have absolutely no interest in protecting any communities, but rather are wholly motivated by lining their own pockets.  I also learned that I can't spell initiative correctly to save my life.  I spelled it wrong every time I typed it.  Thank you spell check.  I also learned that you can't trust those shifty, no good firemen.  And all of this adds up to me voting yes on 1183.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Quote of the Day

In my office there is a significant problem with noisy people.  I really, truly hate them all.  Of particular note today are a group of women who sit down the hall and are prone to start cackling like witches extremely loudly.  They could bring in a cauldron and start casting spells on people and I wouldn't care if they would just STFU.  It truly is worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. 

Anyway, after an outbreak of maniacal laughter today, one co-worker who shall remain anonymous said without missing a beat, "oh good, the rhesus monkeys we ordered have arrived."  It made me laugh and is good enough to be awarded with the coveted quote of the day.