November 30, 2007

2007 Christmas List

My Christmas plans this year have been a fiasco.

Last year, my family decided that shopping for one another was a bit of an ordeal because my family does not shop well for one another.  So, in the past, we've always tried to exchange Christmas lists. 

The problem with Christmas lists in my family are legion. My dad always writes his on a scrap piece of paper, which he gives to my mother or sister who promptly loses it and then he can't remember what was on it.  My mother almost never actually makes a list.  She just randomly announces to any innocent bystander what she wants when she thinks of it, but she never writes it down and then she wonders why she doesn't get what she wants.  My sister makes lists and she's generally fairly prompt with them, but her lists suck.  They don't provide a wide variety and they don't present any opportunity for surprise.  They're also usually full of things I'm just plain not willing to buy for her.  (Usually DVDs of awful television shows, like Due South.  Remember that show?  UG!)

But when I make a list, I usually put a lot of thought into it.  In the past, I've provided links to websites from which things can be ordered.  I provide items that range in price and style so that they can buy me things that I will like and will suit them.  But this takes a lot of effort.

So, last year, I was very happy when we all agreed that it would be better if we celebrate our personal prosperity by taking a trip somewhere.  Where?  We threw out a few ideas, but didn't choose because we had a year to choose.

Then, my sister calls up on December 27th and is like, "Hey, when are we going to take that trip?  I need to request my time off."

Double yoo tee eff?

We haven't even decided where we're going and she's demanding A YEAR IN ADVANCE to know when we're going there.

Obviously, we couldn't tell her that.

Well, a couple months ago, my mom and I started trying to plan a trip.  Then, it turns out that neither my mom or my dad have passports and she felt like they wouldn't be able to get them in time for a Christmas trip. 

So, where could we go within the US?

Southern California?  The Florida Keys?  Colorado?  Utah?

Well, my mom then told me that she really didn't want to have to buy plane tickets; they wanted to go somewhere that they could drive.

What is within 3 - 4 hours of rural south Georgia?  Rural north Florida and rural north Georgia.  Woohoo.  Oh, and Alabama.  No, thanks.

DISNEYWORLD!!!!

So, my mom and I wanted to go to Orlando where they have rides and parades and fireworks and resorts.  YAY!

But my sister refused to tell us when she could get off of work.  We told her, "We don't have to go ON Christmas.  You could just change shifts (she works 24 on and 48 off) with someone and we could go the week before or the week after."  But noooooooo...

Then my sister scheduled knee surgery, so it wasn't so much a matter of her refusing, but a matter of her not knowing.

Well, then she had the surgery and she had a pretty good idea, but she refused to try to work it out.

So, no trip.  Maybe.

My mom asked me to send her a Christmas list, but she also told me that we still might go to Disneyland.

I am not trying to spend my money on stinky gifts AND a family trip.  Seriously, people.  THINK!

So, anyway, I'm not pleased with my Christmas plans this year, but I'm trying to keep an open mind.  Maybe it won't be SO bad.

Here's my Christmas List complete with my notes of explanation and advice:


Clothing sizes:

Note: If you buy in a major chain, I will likely be able to exchange them here in NYC if they don’t fit.

Pants: 32 x 34
Shirts: Medium in knit shirts, large in button downs.
Jacket: 40R
Shoes: 11

Miscellany

  • Leather gloves
  • Swedish Fish
  • Chocolate Covered cherries (I like the cordial ones)
  • Fancy scarves
  • Fancy ties (Not goofy cartoon ties!!!)
  • iPhone (you know, if you decide to just ignore a budget altogether)
  • Digital video camera for my computer (I wanna make YouTube videos!!)
  • A leather messenger bag (again, for the budget-free)
  • Nice, colorful socks (Fun patterns and colors, but avoid synthetic knits.)

Gift Certificates:

  • H&M
  • Banana Republic
  • iTunes
  • Macy’s
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • Barney’s of New York
  • Best Buy

Books

  • Sparrowhawk Companion
  • The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought (all volumes)
  • Confessor: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 3 (Sword Of Truth, Book 11)
  • 1776 by David McCullough
  • John Adams by David McCollough
  • The Kite Runner
  • Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
  • Hard Call
  • Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes
  • Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan by Dianne L. Durante
  • 501 French Verbs (Barron’s Educational Series)
  • Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent

Comic Books

Note: I’ve been reading my comics in the bound novel form, rather than the individual issue form.  They’re not as collectable, but they’re more enjoyable to read.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus (any volumes)
  • Runaways (Any volumes)
  • The Marvel Civil War Series (Any volumes)
  • Marvel’s House of M (Any Volumes)
  • Astonishing X-Men (Vol. 4+)
  • Gen 13

Music

  • Led Zepplin Box set
  • Sessions: Fedde le Grande
  • Put Your Hands up for Detroit Fedde le Grande
  • Rush Greatest Hits
  • M.I.A.
  • Santogold

DVDs

  • Alfred Hitchcock – The Masterpiece Collection
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Seasons 2+ (They sell a collectors set, which has them all.)
  • House MD – All seasons
  • Angel – (The sell a collector’s set of this, too.)
  • Battlestar Gallactica – All seasons (the new series, not the old one)
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (The Brad and Angelina remake)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy
  • Matrix Trilogy
  • Superman Boxset
  • Kill Bill vol .1 & vol. 2
  • Alias – All seasons
  • Terminator 2
  • Serenity: The Firefly Movie
  • Dangerous Beauty
  • Gross Pointe Blank
  • 300
  • The Harry Potter movies
  • Batman
  • Batman Returns
  • Legally Blonde
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Any Pedro Almodovar films
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • V for Vendetta
  • Mission Impossible

I seriously make it too easy for these people.

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Intrinsic View of Intelligence and Motivation

Paul posted a link to this great article on Scientific American.

Scientific American:  The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

Hint: Don't tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life

A brilliant student, Jonathan sailed through grade school. He completed his assignments easily and routinely earned As. Jonathan puzzled over why some of his classmates struggled, and his parents told him he had a special gift. In the seventh grade, however, Jonathan suddenly lost interest in school, refusing to do homework or study for tests. As a consequence, his grades plummeted. His parents tried to boost their son’s confidence by assuring him that he was very smart. But their attempts failed to motivate Jonathan (who is a composite drawn from several children). Schoolwork, their son maintained, was boring and pointless.

[emphasis in the original]
I know this scenario very well as I went through it myself.

The author goes on to discuss two different, competing views of intelligence.
Several years later I developed a broader theory of what separates the two general classes of learners—helpless versus mastery-oriented. I realized that these different types of students not only explain their failures differently, but they also hold different “theories” of intelligence. The helpless ones believe that intelligence is a fixed trait: you have only a certain amount, and that’s that. I call this a “fixed mind-set.” Mistakes crack their self-confidence because they attribute errors to a lack of ability, which they feel powerless to change. They avoid challenges because challenges make mistakes more likely and looking smart less so. Like Jonathan, such children shun effort in the belief that having to work hard means they are dumb.

The mastery-oriented children, on the other hand, think intelligence is malleable and can be developed through education and hard work. They want to learn above all else. After all, if you believe that you can expand your intellectual skills, you want to do just that. Because slipups stem from a lack of effort, not ability, they can be remedied by more effort. Challenges are energizing rather than intimidating; they offer opportunities to learn. Students with such a growth mind-set, we predicted, were destined for greater academic success and were quite likely to outperform their counterparts
I was a little bit fortunate because although my parents raised me with a sort of mixed view of intelligence.  They told me I was smart (cuz I am) but they also told me that "I can do anything I set my mind to."  I had a very hard time in math starting in third grade when we learned long division.

The problem wasn't that I didn't understand long division, but that I refused to do it.  Our teacher would give us numerous problems to solve in which we had to divide numbers out to more than a dozen places.  We spent weeks on
this kind of math problem, because several students had a hard time with them.

For the first week or so, I had top marks in the class doing long division.  I would dutifully do my problems and turn the homework in and do well on the tests.  But as we went on, instead of developing more efficient methods of doing the problems, I gave up and refused to perform those problems and I began to fail my homework assignments and class quizzes.

I remember hating math from that point on and refused to attempt to learn it.

I could blame a bad teacher for this, but the fact is that I remember consciously giving up on math because it took too much effort.  I remember saying, only partly in jest, "This is what calculators are for."

My sister, by contrast, had a learning "disability" in school.  It wasn't discovered until she was in 6th grade and until that time she saw how effortlessly I would succeed in school and, I think, she developed the more intrinsic view of intelligence.  She hated school and fretted over her work.  But after they discovered that she learns things differently, they taught her how to study differently and she began doing a lot better in school.  She actually did very well in college and graduated rather confidently with honors.

I love the conclusion of the article:

Teaching children such information is not just a ploy to get them to study. People do differ in intelligence, talent and ability. And yet research is converging on the conclusion that great accomplishment, and even what we call genius, is typically the result of years of passion and dedication and not something that flows naturally from a gift. Mozart, Edison, Curie, Darwin and Cézanne were not simply born with talent; they cultivated it through tremendous and sustained effort. Similarly, hard work and discipline contribute much more to school achievement than IQ does.

Such lessons apply to almost every human endeavor. For instance, many young athletes value talent more than hard work and have consequently become unteachable. Similarly, many people accomplish little in their jobs without constant praise and encouragement to maintain their motivation. If we foster a growth mind-set in our homes and schools, however, we will give our children the tools to succeed in their pursuits and to become responsible employees and citizens.

  There are few things more dispiriting than the thought that there is nothing a person can do to improve their situation.

I think we could draw some pretty strong comparisons between this and other areas of life, such as the popular notions that minorities are disadvantaged because of racism built into standardized tests, teaching methods, and things that "white privilege" allows white people to ignore.  Minorities are constantly told that they cannot succeed because the "system" is pitted against them.  Is it any surprised that so many people give up and content themselves with low class, violent existence?  The same can be said of any one in a lower-class situation where many people think that they need money to make money and if you're poor, you're stuck at it.

This is scientific proof that individuals are self-made!  I love it!

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Happy Friday!

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Category: Kicks & Giggles
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AGAIN!?!?!

I really thought she'd have to struggle to screw up her life more -- particularly with K Fed out of the picture.

But there are rumors flying about that she's pregnant with number 3.

Reuters: Report: Britney Spears Pregnant With #3

Britney Spears is pregnant with #3 according to the new issue of In Touch magazine.

We reported exclusively a couple of months back that Britney was already carrying #3.  I am not sure of the math or if that pregnancy did truly exist, is this one, or was terminated.

If Britney wants to be pregnant again then that’s her right.  I mean some people think the best way to gain custody of your kids is to just replace them with new ones.

Her sons Jayden James and Sean Preston continue to be the real losers in the Carnival de Britney.

Meanwhile, other sources are also saying that she's been shoplifting.

US Magazine: Britney Spears Strips Off Underwear in Porn Shop; Shoplifts Wig

Shortly before 1 a.m. on November 18, Britney Spears entered the X-rated Hustler Store in West Hollywood.

Spears loaded up on naughty skivvies and headed to the fitting rooms. But store employees "told her they don't allow people to try on underwear," a source at the scene says. "She was really upset."

...

At that point, Spears threw a fit, and took off her own underwear before trying on a pair of boyshorts (with "Barely Legal' stitched across the rear end) in the middle of the store while 15 other customers looked on.

...

Spears' tantrum only continued. "The staff told her she had to pay, and she rolled her eyes, but paid with a credit card," the source tells Us. As payback, "on her way out, she went up to a mannequin, snatched the wig off the head, and stole it!"

Disgraceful.

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I'm Gross.

2,381,820How Many Germs Live On Your Keyboard?
Never say I don't do anything for the ecosystem again.

Hat tip: Electric Venom

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Category: BLEEAAARRRG!
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Sponsored Posts

Ok, so you may have noticed a couple of posts with titles that start with "Sponsored Post:" and a new category called "Sponsored Post."

This, as you might guess, are posts that I am paid to write.

I have a full disclosure about my advertising policy, if you're interested in reading all of that.

The bottom line is this: I am perfectly willing to accept money for posts and reviews, but I will also mark my posts so that you know that I'm being compensated for the post.  Further, what you're getting is my honest opinion on whatever the topic is, whether it's some new site I just found out about or how funny I think Johnny Depp is in Pirates of the Caribbean.

So, anywhoodles, that's what's going on with these oddball new posts you've been seeing.

Update: I was just looking through some pay per post opportunities and I saw one that stipulates "no in post disclosure."  I take that to mean that I couldn't make the subject line say "Sponsored Link" or anything else in the post that indicates that it's an advertisement. 

I mean, I know that you know that there is advertising on this blog, but you also expect it to be pretty clear when you're reading an ad.  That stipulation would require that I attempt to mislead you about the nature of the post. That strikes me as rather dishonest. 

Who accepts those opportunities?  Weird.

Update 2: I saw some opportunities that stipulate that I can't say "sponsored post" in the post or title, but they do allow me to put the little "sponsored post" medallion in there.  That seems ok to me.

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Sponsored Post: Web Hosting Choice

This morning when I logged into my email, I had a post request from Web Hosting Choice. I checked it out and it's actually very cool; I wish I new about this site earlier.

Basically, it's all about Web Hosting. It allows you to search web hosting providers, compare services, and prices. You can even search by price, bandwidth, and storage requirements.  If you have more advanced requirements like scripting support and all of that, they have advanced search functions as well.

Also, if you're a n00b or someone like me who just isn't interested in culling through reams of information about web hosting, they have a "learning center" with lots of helpful tips, tricks and information on the topic.

And if you actually provide web hosting, you can submit your site to their directory so that you'll turn up in the search results.

The site design isn't going to knock your socks off, but it's clear and easy to navigate and follow. If I'm ever on the market for another web host, I'll visit www.webhostingchoice.com.

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November 29, 2007

The Huckabee Problem

Mike Huckabee is running for president.  He used to be governor of Arkansas, but he is still an ordained Baptist minister.

He's against gays in the military.  He's against gay marriage.  He's even opposed to civil unions. As a Christian, he believes that homosexuality is immoral and that marriage is sacred.

He's against abortion.  As a Christian, he believes that abortion means killing a child and a woman's right to her own body is superseded by the fetuses alleged right to life.
 
He's for the War in Iraq.

He's against stem cell research for much the same reasons that he is against abortion.

He's a creationist and an anti-evolutionist.  Why?  Jesus said so.

He regards environmentalism as a moral issue based on the Christian stewardship concept.

He supports national ID cards and use of RFID chips for tracking citizens.

I'm listing these things because these are all issues that Huckabee is wrong about and more than that, in most cases listed above, he is wrong because he is Christian religionist.

To make matters worse -- worse than the fact that he is running for president at all -- is the fact that he's getting a fair amount of support and that support seems to be growing.

I really, really do not want him to even win the nomination.  He is a dangerous man on the political scene.

I was recently in an conversation with someone whom I believe is looking for the silver lining in this muck and he pointed out that voters have chosen largely secular issues as their main concerns: immigration, national security, the economy, and The War in Iraq.  These as opposed to ridiculous things like gay marriage, family values, and whatnot.

The hope here is that this particular selection of issues represents a philosophical shift in the voting public away from the religionists.

I think that hope is misplaced.  I pointed this out in that conversation.

Huckabee's popularity in polls is worrisome.  Even though voters may choose seemingly secular issues as their favorites, they seem to be choosing a decidedly non-secular candidate to address those issues.

Issues themselves are largely incidental.  They're effects, not causes.  The causes are what worry me.   When it comes to Huckabee, his causes are faith, dogma, and religion and his popularity -- whether fueled by an agreement with his ideology (I am inclined to believe that it is not because I'm a pessimist about the American public, but because I don't believe they're so stupid as to be ignorant of or to ignore it.) or by his specific answers to certain issues -- the result is the same and it's bad.  Really bad.

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Why I'm Not Sure If I Will Be Able to Walk Tomorrow

Warm-up: 5:30 on the treadmill at 7.5 mph and 2degree incline

Smith Machine Squats 10 x 115lbs, 2 x 10 x 135lbs
compound w/ Step Scissor Jumps 3 x 15

Cable Tricep Extensions 3 x 10 x 110lbs
compound w/ 1 arm cable curls 3 x 10 x 40lbs
compound w/ 1 leg standing calf raises 3 x 10 x 35lbs

Leg extensions 3 x 10 x 175lbs
compound w/ wall sits 3 x 1:15
compound w/ seated leg curls 10 x 120lbs, 10 x 125lbs, 10 x 130lbs

Dips 2 x 15
compound w/ hammer curls 2 x 15 x 20lbs

In reality, I will be able to walk tomorrow, it will just get harder and more deliciously painful as the day goes on and on Saturday it will peak and start to wear off.  I'll love it!

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Category: Fitness with Flibby
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Huckabee Horrors Continue

I'm scared of Mike Huckabee.  The more I see of him, the more terrified I am that America might actually elect someone who is a bigger theocrat than George Bush.

Myrhaf's post on the YouTube debate sum it up well:

Yes, the Republican Party is in trouble. The only two candidates who sounded like they had integrity were the libertarian antiwar candidate and the Christian big government candidate. The rest are the kind of middle-of-the-road hacks you would expect among Republican politicians. The candidates are in a welfare state bind: the only way to look principled is to risk angering some pressure groups full of voters; but being controversial is the quickest way to marginalization. It is impossible in today's America to be honest and principled about getting the government out of our lives and remain a serious candidate. I don't think I've ever been so depressed after a debate.

The Republican Party is in trouble. America is in trouble.

Exactly.  And Ron Paul (the libertarian) does not stand a chance of winning the Republican nomination.

The Republican Party and the voting public at large tend to take a very pragmatic view of things and if there is one thing Libertarians do not sell well it's that their ideas are at all practical.  They should stick to pot and hookers.

This election is going to be a bloodbath of our liberty.

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Category: Politickin'
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OBloggers Carnival #20

The latest installment of the Objectivist Carnival is up!

Stella presents In the battle for universal health care, there are no winners posted at ReasonPharm, saying, "As the 2008 presidential election approaches, candidates are avidly touting their plans for universal health care. The debate is about how to do it, not whether it should be done. Never does the question come up -- does universal health care, or even health insurance as we are familiar with it, make sense at all?" I always enjoy reading Stella's posts. Well worth checking out!

Flibbert presents Another Fun Spanish Expression posted at Flibbertigibbet, saying, "Last week, my blogging was all messed up because of the holiday. I wrote a few mildly interesting posts about how some people think gay stuff, fashion (not the same as gay stuff), movies, books, and lots of YouTube videos, but I think the posts that were the most fun to me this week were the ones in which I share a couple of my favorite Spanish expressions. This one is lots of fun at dinner parties, and since we're entering a season of dinners and parties and dinner parties, I think this is all the more apropos." Awesome!

Monica presents My Thanksgiving Holiday posted at Spark A Synapse, saying, "Last week, I didn't have the time or the internet access to blog about Thanksgiving, so I've decided to share my experience this week instead." Very nice post!

Myrhaf presents The Republican You Tube Debate posted at Myrhaf. Thank goodness someone is watching these--not my cup of tea, so I think it's great to get the scoop from Myrhaf!

Valda Redfern presents Saudi Arabia is not our friend posted at Valzhalla, saying, "Remember the Saudi telethon to raise money for the families of the 9/11 terrorists? Here are a couple more things to remember about how Saudi Arabia spends its oil money."

Jenn presents New Food and Philosophy Book posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "We had a busy week, what with Thanksgiving and a toddler with a broken bone, but I had to pass along the news about a new food book that includes an essay by Objectivist and gastronome extraordinaire, Jennifer Iannolo. Congratulations, Jennifer!" Also, if you want to see pictures of our cabin in the fall, check out the post just below that one!
WOO!  Check it out!

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Gays in the Military

Did you watch the CNN YouTube Republican Debate last night?  I didn't, but Joe.My.God posted a video of the candidates responding to a question about gays in the military posed from a retired Brigadier General.



Those men who defended Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) on that stage are a lot of dispicable, dishonest, and outrageously idiotic dunderheads.  Let's consider their arguments.

Argument 1: gay are destructive to unit morale/cohesion because their existence challenges the majority conservative values of other people in the unit.

The question posed was actually why the candidates believe that our straight members of the military are not professional enough to deal with such challenges, so this response does not actually answer the question.  Moreover, that response isn't even factual since openly Jewish, openly Baptist, and openly atheist people all serve together well enough and they have no problems with morale or cohesion even though their individual beliefs are all at odds.  Further, there are gays in the military.  Some of them are more or less open within their particular units and those units have not been shown to perform worse off for their existence.  In fact, the military's shortage of certain specializations has been well-documented as well as its track record of firing gays within those specializations, so it stands to reason that those units actually do not function well without gays.

Every single man on that stage knows this and they stand up there. 

Argument 2: Homosexual conduct is sick and wrong and that's why the military code of conduct forbids it.  (And also that morale and cohesion thing.)

Not surprisingly, this comment comes from Huckabee.  Appealing to the Military Code of Conduct, which is what is being challenged with the question, is merely begging the question.

Argument 3: It's not convenient to allow gays to serve openly in the military.  I think we should wait until the bosses in the military (Like General Pace who has already revealed that his motives are based on his religion) say it's a good time.

Since these people are fond of citing authorities, I will cite one of my own:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

Martin Luther King in Letter from a Birmingham Jail
There will never be a good time for this to happen, particularly when we are having wars without clearly-defined, concrete objectives.  And given the facts about straight/gay social dynamics, that we're at war means that this irrational, inefficient, ineffective policy should be abolished posthaste.

If we assume that our military is so fragile that it cannot stand to allow gays to serve openly, I don't think we deserve the military we have.

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Sponsored Post: Johnny Depp in Sweeny Todd Coming Soon!

Sweeny Todd is coming out for Christmas. I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but I have been rather impressed with many of the recent film musicals like Chicago and Moulin Rouge. Moreover, Sweeny Todd is actually a stage musical I've wanted to see for a long time. I have high hopes for the movie and I think Johnny Depp is a great choice for the role.

Depp is great with these zany, insane, oddball roles.

Take Edward Scissorhands for example. I mean, he plays a guy with scissors for hands! I know it's supposed to be a sensitive, romantic film, but I always get caught up in how creepy he is and the fact that he has scissors for hands. What if he sneezes suddenly while picking his nose?

Then there was Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which is my absolute favorite movie he's been in. It was so much fun! I rewatched it the other day on television, actually.

Norrington: No additional shot nor powder, a compass that doesn't point north,
[looks at Jack's sword]
Norrington: And I half expected it to be made of wood. You are without doubt the worst pirate I've ever heard of.
Jack Sparrow: But you have heard of me.
As Captain Jack Sparrow, Depp manages to effectively portray a cad, lout, pirate, deviant, and an liar, but still hilariously lovable. Although, you don't want to hug him because you'd get eyeliner on your shirt.

So, Sweet Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street should be perfect for him.

The story is pretty simple: Set in Victorian England, Sweeny Todd is sent to jail. When he gets out he wants revenge on the people who put him there and so he returns to London and opens a barber shop in which he kills people. Oh. And he gives the dead bodies to the lady downstairs, Mrs. Lovett, who cooks them into meat pies. And they're lovers. And -- horror or horrors -- she has a speech impediment. It's gruesome and highly -- colorfully -- improbable. Perfect setup for a musical.

SO! Visit the official Sweeney Todd movie site. You can listen to some of the songs. You can even visit Sweeney Todd on MySpace.

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November 28, 2007

Skyscrapers of New York

Check out Viva!

It's an online archive/museum of skyscrapers in New York City.

Very, very cool!

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Category: World Wide Weird
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November 27, 2007

Bryant Park Christmas Tree Lighting

I went out this evening with my friend, The Nicknameless Wonder, and a couple of friends of his to whom I shall refer as The Awkward Couple.

They're called that because they're awkward.  The tall one talks to me in the form of stilted, obvious small talk questions.

"What did you do for Thanksgiving?"

"What are you doing for Christmas?"

"Where does your family live again?

The questions are fine, but they're supposed to be launching pads for fully-developed conversations.  I answer the question and then you tell me something that relates to what I just said.  You resort back to the questions only when you run out of things to say to the last thing I just said.

Skillful conversationalists, when paired, can keep a conversation going indefinitely without veering into the excessively personal or, in particularly misguided cases, even the memorable.

I predict that the short one will wind up cheating on the tall one, but the dynamics of The Awkward Couple's relationship aren't the topic of this post.

I went to the Christmas Tree Lighting at Bryant Park tonight as a VIP guest.

That's right.  Your humble (ha!) blogger is a Very Important Person!  In truth, you only have The Nicknameless Wonder to blame for my promotion to Very Important Person and attendance at most all of these semi-glamorous events I tell you about.

Bebe Neuworth performed one of my favorite carols on television tonight, "Baby, It's Cold Outside." (CBS, were you watching?)  A bunch of other Broadway stars were there.  Must be nice for them since they don't have any shows what with the strike and all.  There were also some ice skaters there.  I guess they don't have to go to Beijing for a while still.  One girl fell.

The best appetizers in my opinion were:

  • The Salmon
  • The Crabcakes
  • The Roast Beef
  • The Chicken Salad
  • The Cheese Pie Thingies
  • The Ham & Cheese
The Short One said that he thought the Roast Beef was better than the Salmon, but I'm telling you: the sauce/mustard on the Roast Beef was too strong; it overpowered the beef.

They really managed the open bar well by having waiters circulate in the crowd with trays of wine, which allowed people to not crowd up to the bar.

The event itself was very nice, but I found it particularly interesting to chat with the Trade Commissioner from the Canadian Consulate.  He seemed delighted to speak with someone who had even a passing awareness of international trade conditions.

So, it was nice.  I saw some (What's worse than the D list?) celebrities.  I made eyes at a couple of attractive guys who never came and talked to me and I talked to a Canadian.

Not much else to say about it other than that.

Update: I guess there is something more to say.  By odd coincidence, and I think I'm the only one who appreciated this before I pointed it out, today is Anders Celsius's birthday and the place where this event was held was called the Celsius Lounge.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 09:41 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: Odds & Ends
Post contains 508 words, total size 3 kb.

Douche

There's this guy at my work, who thinks it's funny and cute to insult, upbraid, and display a general disregard and discourtesy for everyone around him.  Allow me to give a pair of examples.

Just now, he was leaving the office and someone said to him, "G'night, Joe!" And he responded without looking back, "Yeah, yeah."

Yesterday, he told someone to "go f!bomb themselves" when they said hello to him.

At hello and goodbye he has some derision to fling in your face.

He does somehow manage to make it understood that he is actually a nice guy who is really just trying to be funny, but I just can't get past this sort of humor.  When he's not behaving like a jackass, he's a really smart guy who is actually very interesting to have in conversation.  The problem is that this nervous, aggressive humor is so off-putting that I only ever engage him in conversation when I absolutely must.

I just want him to not be such a douche all the time.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 05:21 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: At My Work
Post contains 174 words, total size 1 kb.

How to Worry Your Boss And Your Coworkers

Last week when I was in Atlanta, I got to hang out with this acquaintance of mine who is very fashion forward to the point of sometimes veering wildly into eccentricity.  He's a colorful chap and although he has moments of sartorial insanity, I think the pushes the limits of fashion to delightful new heights.  His personal style is sporty, not slutty, flashy, not gaudy, and always very colorful.

I still think of myself as searching for my own personal style.  I don't spend enough time thinking about my clothes to have settled on anything very refined, which is unfortunate, because I would like to have a "look."  It's just that my wardrobe sometimes fights me in the morning when I'm trying to pick out something really spiffy.  It's like, "Oh, but I don't have socks to match this shirt," or "But these two blues don't match enough and they aren't different enough to work here."

But this morning I felt like getting a little spiffed up.

So, I pulled out my grey glen plaid pants and my black v-neck sweater.  Easy match.  Black socks and black casual shoes.  The shirt was tough because I haven't done laundry in a while, but I had a stroke of luck when I saw that my grey shirt was still cleaned and neatly pressed.  And then genius struck and I saw my grey, dark grey and black weave patterned tie.  Put that with my black overcoat and black, white, and grey woven plaid scarf and the whole outfit is a wonderful study in greys and black.

Here's where the crazy comes in.

I don't like how my sweater covers my tie.  When I choose to wear a tie with a sweater, it's usually because a) I feel like it and b) it looks really good with the outfit.

I wore a tie and sweater with a suit a while back and when I straightened my tie at one point, it was remarked that some didn't even know I was wearing a tie until that moment.

So, this morning, I struggled to pull my sweater down and around lunchtime I decided I would just wear my tie over my sweater.

At first, I thought it looked really good. Very spunky.  Ok.  A little bit goofy, too, particularly because I also wear my collar outside my sweater, too.

Then, one of my coworkers asked why I was wearing my tie over my sweater.  I just said I liked it, but then I started to think maybe it looked strange, so I went to the bathroom and spent 10 minutes switching it back and forth as well as trying different knots.  Four in hand or half winsor?

My friend, the Blogless Fourth Axiom, taught me the half winsor and I really like it for a chunkier knot although it's sometimes tough to make the length of the tie right.

So, I settled on outside my sweater and the half winsor knot.

Then I sat down at my computer and thought, "I know I've seen other people doing this.  I am sure that I am not the first person to like wearing his tie over his sweater.

Lo and behold, it turns out that the late Italian fashion icon, Gianni Agnelli, used to do the same thing.  No, I don't know who that is, but I am obviously a fashion icon in my own right.

So, I've decided that this is part of my look and I don't care if my coworkers think I'm nuts.  They were bound to find out eventually.

As for my boss, when he saw I was wearing a tie, he asked one of our directors if I had something going on today because I was so "dressed up."  I'm not dressed for an interview, so I don't know what he was imagining, but the way it was told to me, he was a little worried.

The man promised me a promotion in a month.  Why would I leave now without the title on my resume?

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 04:49 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: About Flibby
Post contains 681 words, total size 4 kb.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

OMG! OMG! OMG!  My most favoritest thing ever is right now!

After Thanksgiving, they set up a Christmas village shopping thing in Union Square.  And my favorite thing is the hot cider and gingersnaps!

I can't wait!  I should try to go over there this weekend!

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

I'm so excited!!

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 03:27 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: Happy
Post contains 51 words, total size 1 kb.

Dealing with Cops

QandO blog has a post up with one of these heart-breaking, outrageous videos showing the police behaving like jackasses and abusing their power.  I hate these videos.

In this video, the guy argues with the cop.  It's hard to hear what he's saying but he seems to be arguing that the speed limit isn't 40mph where he was although we do see the sign the cop is talking about at the beginning.

In any case, the guy isn't complying with the officer's instructions and so the officer tasers and arrests him.  The guy isn't threatening him, he's just being a little argumentative, but he gets tasered.  And even though he's under arrest, I didn't hear the cop read him his rights.  I assume that comes later.

To be perfectly honest, I don't know what my legally recognized rights are with regard to the police.

I know that when they pull me over, I have to present my license and registration.  I'm also legally required to submit to a field sobriety test if requested -- apparently declining to submit to one is considered reason enough to haul you in for a test.

But I don't drive is New York, so then what?  If a cop talks to me, am I required to respond?  I don't like to think so, but I don't want to be arrested or tasered.

I don't see why I should have to disclose my business to anyone, especially if it's legal business.

I don't subscribe to the idea that I should be willing to tell everyone my business if I "don't have anything to hide."  I mean, mind your own business.  I'm not hiding anything, I'm minding my business.  Just because I close the door to my bedroom doesn't mean I'm ashamed of what's going on in there.  It's just none of your business what happens in there.

So, anyway, I don't like people telling me what to do for no good reason.  I don't like when people won't listen when I give them an explanation or make an honest request for more information and I certainly don't like uppity police officers who think that they're allowed to electrocute you just because you don't listen to them.  It seems very sketchy to me.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 02:51 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Category: Politickin'
Post contains 379 words, total size 2 kb.

Not in the Know

For as many books as I read, I've only read 1 of the New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2007.  It's the Harry Potter one.

But I can't say that I really feel anything about this.  I tend to regard the New York Times' use of the word "notable" as being an unintentional euphemism for "horrible."  I can't say for sure; I just don't regard the NYT as any sort of authority when it comes to assessing the value and quality of literature.

On the other hand, almost none of the books I read are presently popular, well-respected by even me -- as you can tell from my reviews-- or  notable by anyone whose opinion matters.  So, perhaps I judge the NYT too quickly.

Naaaah.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 12:58 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: Odds & Ends
Post contains 130 words, total size 1 kb.

November 26, 2007

Scary Mary



Stay awake, don't rest your heads.  You heard the lady.

Apparently, making these kinds of trailers for movies is a very popular past time on YouTube.  Most of them aren't very good, but I did enjoy this Top Gun re-edit:


Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 10:54 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: System
Post contains 42 words, total size 1 kb.

The Problem with Method Acting



This isn't funny.  An actress playing Helen Keller falls off the stage.  I'd like to say it was unexpected, but the stage IS very small and she IS playing Helen Keller, soooo...

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 09:53 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Category: World Wide Weird
Post contains 37 words, total size 1 kb.

My Mom Would Not Understand This, Though?



It's YouTube Monday, apparently.

Actually, my roommate and I have sat down and are trading videos.  Hilarious!

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 09:51 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: Kicks & Giggles
Post contains 24 words, total size 1 kb.

All the Lidda Bidda Dridges and They Hucka the Bejeepers



Again, why say anything more?

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 09:46 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: Kicks & Giggles
Post contains 15 words, total size 1 kb.

You Got Stabbed With Your Fat Ass



What more explanation is needed, really?

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 09:43 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: Kicks & Giggles
Post contains 13 words, total size 1 kb.

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