Saturday, September 29, 2007

I take Saturdays off for religious reasons

The weather's finally cooled down enough (a chilly 90 degrees) that one can go hiking without evaporating. We checked out a new trail (new to us) at South Mountain Park (the largest muni park in the country). It was a nice trail with lots of elevation changes and great scenery (see pics here). To see even more pics (taken by my 6 year old son), go to Ladybug Writing. My son Alex has a blog now. It's funny in a Steven Wright ironic sort of way (completely unintentionally).

Heading home from the park, we looked for something to eat. The wife and kid decided on Chick-Fil-A. I picked up something from Baja Fresh. As a matter of principle, I try to avoid eating at restaurants that purposely misspell their name for the sake of cuteness. That and the fact that they are not open on Sundays. I'm thinking of starting a discrimination suit. If I want chicken nuggets on Sunday, I should be able to get them! For some reason, lawyers won't return my calls. I'm thinking it might be something along the lines of Coke suing Coke for taste infringement. But I digress.

I kid. Businesses (especially privately owned ones) have the right to run their ship in a manner they see fit, as long as it is not discriminatory. And I have seen no indication that Chick-Fil-A is doing anything too hokey.

I'm just saying. The Christian music piped in and the Winshape posters (marriage retreats, Christian kids' camps) on the wall might make some people feel they are in the wrong place. By the same token, a Christian might feel out of place in Hot Topic with pentagram jewelry and Lamb of God playing. I guess I'm not really criticizing, just observing. When you are not looking for some things, you might not see them. I only started to notice some of the things because I had wondered why they weren't open on Sundays and delved a bit deeper. Their official line:

Admittedly, closing all of our restaurants every Sunday makes us a rarity in this day and age. But it's a little habit that has always served us well, so we're planning to stick with it.

Our founder, Truett Cathy, wanted to ensure that every Chick-Fil-A employee and restaurant operator had an opportunity to worship, spend time with family and friends or just plain rest from the work week. Made sense then, still makes sense now.

Nothing wrong with that, I guess.

And on a completely unrelated note, Dbacks make the playoffs!! Woo-hoo! And we're going to game one of the Divisional Series on Wednesday. I got on the Internet early this morning when they went on sale and was able to get tickets for us and my folks. This is the first time my dad has ever been able to go to a playoff game of any kind and was thrilled when I told him.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

You know you've probably done a movie right when my wife actually likes a Western ... a violent one, no less. The charisma of one of it's main stars, Russell Crowe, is a big reason why. She actually agreed to go see this movie on a "date" night.

3:10 to Yuma is the story of a down on his luck rancher, Christian Bale as Dan Evans, who agrees to accompany a ruthless killer, Russell Crowe as Ben Wade, to Yuma to get on a train and to stand trial. A road movie of sorts -- both characters go through a sort of transformation through the adventures they experience on the trip.

3:10 certainly owes something to recent so-called "revisionist" Westerns like Unforgiven and The Proposition. They all do a great job of turning the classic Western motifs of good and bad / black and white on their heads. Life is shades of gray. I'm guessing W might not like this movie. He likes his Westerns cut and dried - Bush as John Wayne, terrorists taking the places of Indians. Never mind that we are taking those Indians land or are trying to make them more like us. I probably overuse this quote from Unforgiven, but it's one of my favorites and very apropos to this movie:

Munny: "It's a hell of a thing, killin' a man. You take away all he's got, and all he's ever gonna have."

Kid: "Yeah, well I guess they had it comin'."

Munny: "We all have it coming, kid."

Even if you don't think you like Westerns, go see this movie. It's themes of loyalty, honesty and family transcend the genre. The quality of the acting is consistent. Most notably, Crowe, Bale, Alan Tudyk (of Serenity) and Ben Foster as the light-in-the-loafer sidekick to Crowe's Ben Wade.

3:10 to Yuma's based on an Elmore Leonard story (the same guy that wrote Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight). It has a lot of the same moral ambiguity of those stories.

Crowe's character is so charming, intelligent and confident, you are forced to like him whereas you see Bale's character's faults and failures - as he sees his own. Do these characters ultimately redeem themselves and does the movie do a good job of handling it? I believe so, but you be the judge.

The movie is beautifully shot. I guess the biggest surprise of the movie is the dark humor. Not forced punchline type humor, mind you. But rather humor borne of the strange interaction between the characters. I highly recommend this movie. Grade: A

"Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends" -- Gandalf, Fellowship of the Ring

Friday, September 21, 2007


"And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." -- Bible

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. - Members of a Christian theater troupe are spreading the word that they're irate about Kathy Griffin's off-color speech in accepting a creative arts Emmy earlier this month.

The Miracle Theater in Pigeon Forge spent $90,440 on a full-page advertisement in USA Today that ran nationally Monday, proclaiming "enough is enough."

In accepting the Emmy for her Bravo reality show, "My Life on the D-List," Griffin said that "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."

She went on to hold up her Emmy, make an off-color remark about Christ and proclaim, "This award is my god now!"

"We at The Miracle Theater consider it an honor to stand for Jesus today," the ad said. "We may never win a national award. We may never be household names. We may never be seen in Hollywood. Although others may choose to use their national platform to slander our God, we are honored as professional entertainers to stand for Christ."

... Griffin's comments have also drawn ire from the Catholic League, an anti-defamation group that called on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to "denounce Griffin's obscene and blasphemous comment" at the Sept. 9 ceremony. The E! channel chose to edit Griffin's speech when it aired the taped event last Saturday night.

Griffin, whose standup comedy shows often focus on mocking and dishing on celebrities, issued a statement through her publicist in response to the Catholic League's criticisms, indicating her statements were meant as a joke.

"Am I the only Catholic left with a sense of humor?" she said in the statement.

Russ Hollingsworth, general manager of The Miracle Theater, said members of the theater's cast were tired of celebrities' joking attitudes toward Jesus. The theater is sponsoring a petition on its Web site, Miracle Theater.

"When word reached our cast that a Hollywood celebrity had stood before TV cameras and said such vulgar things about Christ, they were incensed," he said. "It's just not OK anymore to mock Christians and Jesus with impunity."

Griffin was fired in 2005 from her job as an E! Channel red-carpet commentator after joking at the Golden Globe Awards that child actress Dakota Fanning had checked into rehab.

What level of respect should people's religious beliefs be afforded? Is religion fair game for satire or humor? Would atheists be offended by a joke about them? Was what she said actually offensive?

It's nauseating how many athletes and actors thank God for them scoring or winning something. If there was a God, do you think he would really care who won an Oscar or scored the winning touchdown? Griffin, raised Catholic, was playing on the irony of not thanking God. That's funny.

Here's the unedited quote from her:

Upon winning this past Saturday, Kathy said, "Can you believe this shit? I guess hell froze over. ... a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award."

"I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. So, all I can say is, 'suck it, Jesus.' This award is my god now."

I'll grant you that that quote would obviously rile some Christians. But she was trying to be funny ... and I have to personally attest that she succeeded.

Obviously some people would be up in arms if someone said on stage, "suck it, Allah". So, I'm not denying the effect of such statements. But, is there any real reason that people should take it so personally? Like the earlier Danish Muhammad cartoons flap, it's all just a bunch of religious zealots that need to chill a bit. If you are secure in your beliefs, why would you care what Kathy Griffin thought? Don't you think that as Christians, the Miracle Theater could have found a more noble use for $90K than to spend it on an ad condemning Kathy Griffin?

I think I'm asking more questions than answering. But I don't really have an answer for this one. I get why some people might be offended but at the same time wonder why we live in such a screwed-up society where people would be offended by a joke. I get that there needs to be a line. I took offense by the Don Imus comments earlier this year but am not sure he should have been fired. But who's to decide what the line is? And isn't it a moving target? Christians would probably say it wasn't. But discussions of "absolute" morality are for another time.

"Of all the strange "crimes" that human beings have legislated of nothing, "blasphemy" is the most amazing - with "obscenity" and "indecent exposure" fighting it out for the second and third place." -- Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blog list cleanup

A cleanup of my blog list is way overdue. I've been reading all of your blogs and like the comments I've see from many of your visitors. Here are the ones that I've added to my blog list. From Laura's blog, Sarchasm:

Stupidity is an Equal Opportunity Employer -- You have to like any web address that starts out "stupidass...". I'm sure that was merely coincidental, Donna.

It's My Life - pop culture musings

From Cyberkitten at Seeking a Little Truth:

Journal Wunelle - Movies, politics, religion. That's basically my world right there.

Our dear friend Sadie has a new blog, so I'm updating my link. She's got some outstanding crafts, so check her out: Craftily Ever After

from James at Genius of Insanity:

An Angry Dakota Democrat - I didn't know there were such things. A truly rare animal.

I'm removing the following blogs:

Liberal Desert - Nice blog, just doesn't speak to me.
The Hungry Blogger - Love you Isabella. I think it was originally through finding your blog that I ended up at GWB and in turn Laura and the rest is history. But, alas, she doesn't update her own blog. If you are still out there, let us know and I'll re-add the link.
A bit of this, a bit of that - Again, just not enough posting.
Vern's Blog - link issues
Minor Ripper - ditto

I'm going to keep the following links but will chastise them endlessly for never posting.

Eric's blog - Wow, he blogs never. I swear he's actually interesting in person. :-)
JT's blog - Probably too busy out being a mac daddy to post anything.
Great White Bear - OK, you've been given a reprieve since you just posted something.
Will Brady Journal - Hello Will ... I know you're out there.

Also, I added a new feature on the side of my blog. I had talked about the online library site that I had found awhile ago, LibraryThing. They have a little add-in for blogs that will generate a random list of a few books from my library. So, you'll get a little glimpse into the crap I read and it will serve as a reminder to me on what I still need to get around to reading.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Privatized Tyranny"

On his last day of work, Alberto Gonzales, with a straight face, said the following:

"Over the past two and a half years, I have seen tyranny, dishonesty, corruption and depravity of types I never thought possible ... I've seen things I didn't know man was capable of."

And that was just Dick Cheney he was talking about. You should have heard what he said about Bush! Sorry ... I kid. Gonzales did say those words and they hold a lot of truth. But, just not in the way that he intended.

Speaking of tyranny and depravity, check out the great short film, Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein and Alfonso Cuaron (of Children of Men fame). It does a good job of showing how some leaders use the period of collective shock after disasters to ramrod through those policies that they could not get passed in peaceful times. It compares that to shock treatment and to torture and the effect those methods have on the subject.

"Only a crisis, real or perceived, produces real change." -- Milton Friedman

Mr. Friedman was an advocate of using those times to push through free market policies that wouldn't stand a chance of passing during peaceful times. Guess who liked Miltie and his concepts of "privatized tyranny"? Yep - Nixon, Reagan, Bush. Milton Friedman -- the guy who once commented that "there is no poverty in America".

"The free market is socialism for the rich - [free] markets for the poor and state protection for the rich." -- Noam Chomsky

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Get Your War On

I think that David Rees may just be the funniest political cartoonist out there right now. Of course, to call him a cartoonist may be stretching it because he is using stock black and white images. But, it's the clever and irreverent words that he puts to those images that makes him stand out. In three panels, he is able to get at the heart of the chest-thumping jingoism we call patriotism over here. Here are some of his latest (courtesy of David Rees and Rolling Stone Magazine):

Some of his older stuff is on his site and on Campus Progress.

And for one of the best beat downs of people that are now against the war but originally supported it, check out his blog post at Huffington Post.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Some of those that work forces ...

"Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses ..." -- "Killing in the Name of" - Rage Against the Machine

From the Arizona Republic:

Mesa police plan to discipline an officer who admitted making an obscene gesture as he drove past pro-immigrant protesters Wednesday in a marked police vehicle.

Sgt. Mike Doherty, a 20-year veteran, admitted he made obscene gestures "due to his general distaste for protesters," according to Holly Hosac, a Mesa police spokeswoman.

Doherty was in uniform when he passed about 30 members of Immigrants Without Borders, an immigrant advocacy group that has protested in the past against crackdowns on undocumented immigrants by Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The group was protesting peacefully at Alma School Road and Main Street. Several group members reported an officer displaying an obscene gesture twice as he drove past them. Information from witnesses led police to identify Doherty.

"While Doherty stated that he did not know what the demonstration was about, he acknowledged his actions were inappropriate and unprofessional," Hosac wrote in a press release.

Police Chief George Gascón said the department is required to respect the Constitutional rights of everyone, saying, "there is no justifiable reason for this type of behavior."

Police said disciplinary action against Doherty is pending but did not elaborate. He was working as a school resources officer for the past two weeks, but will be reassigned, police said.

I personally know several policemen and their intentions are noble and they seem to be in law enforcement for the right reasons. But civil service, whether it be police or politics, can also attract those that seek nothing but power. The goal of both should be to be the voice for those that don't have a voice.

This police officer should have been vigorously defending this group's right to protest. Instead, while in a position of authority, he let his inner-racist show.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Going Green - Update

We cannot command Nature except by obeying her. -- Francis Bacon

Our latest attempts at greening up:

Mrs. Myer's Dryer Sheets - which you can get at Sprout's

Shaklee Laundry Soap

both biodegradable.

I'm proud that our earlier attempts are going as strong as ever (cloth napkins, grocery bags). BTW, I highly recommend IKEA's reusable bags for 59 cents. They're huge and sturdy. Several grocery stores (including Fry's here in the Valley) will give you a discount for using your own bags.

If we had any guts, we'd actually hang our clothes to dry instead of using our dryer. But, Noooo! -- we have to justify the money we spent on it in the first place. I know ... that sounds stupid. Kinda like saying that you are not going to read a book because you've paid for that perfectly good TV and cable and you don't want it to go to waste.

The biggest impediment to change is not the technology or even the cost. It's retraining ourselves. It's no wonder that a large part of society doesn't understand this when our own leaders preach consumerism (instead of conservation) in the face of tragedy. God forbid that any of us would ever make a sacrifice for the common good. Oops! I said "common good". I must be a Communist.

Also, go check out Leo's environment documentary, The 11th Hour, soon. I haven't seen it yet but will within the next week. If you've already seen it, post a review here.