Archive | July, 2008

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BB Reads the Business Rags (So You Don’t Have To)

Posted on 30 July 2008 by GlazednConfused

Readers: I am attempting an ongoing feature where I summarize and comment on articles in the business magazines I read regularly. Let’s just say the gym cross-trainers are not exactly amusement park rides. Also, ever since I worked at my first startup, the world of business has fascinated me – to a point. For example, I mentioned recently how the bonds, mutual funds, and the like bore the holy hell out of me. I consider it them a major component of the dark arts known as “making money with money without actually doing anything”. Where’s the fun in that? So, without further adieu:

Fortune – July 7, 2008:
Face-Off on the Economy
The whole issue is themed around Obama versus McCain, and how they will “fix the economy”. Good luck with that. Anywhoo, they lay out questions for both candidates, and one really stood out:

Fortune: What do you see as the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy?
Obama: blah blah blah…energy policy…demand outstripping supply…federal government takes charge…blahblah.
McCain: “…the struggle we have against Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence”

That’s right – someone in America still thinks all our problems are caused by people dwelling in caves a thousands miles away. Not only that, but this person will have complete control of our military – including “the button”. Yes, “the button” still exists. You may not think so, but I can guarantee you its still sitting there, neglected and caked with dust. Maybe its with the tattered remains of our Constitution, I don’t know. What I do know is that is a strong statement to make to a business magazine. Imagine Martha Stewart bringing you a cake she baked that came out flat as hell. She asks you what you think happened to the cake. You point to Bin Laden on TV and say “That bastard right there“.

The Great Airport Security Race
Did you know there is a company that can prioritize you through security lines in many airports? My irritated friends, Clear is there for you, and has been for three years (according to their website). According to the article, you pay $128 a year and Clear will background check, fingerprint, and scan your eyeballs. Fortune did some testing, and actually came to the conclusion that Clear did save on average of 9.25 minutes per airport. Also, their trips seemed to be a bit less stressful. For someone (not myself) who flies regularly to specific places, this seems like a good investment. However, Clear currently only operates in 16 airports nationwide. Ah, another company making a killing off the country’s terrorist “threat” – how heartwarming. I’m curious to see who has equity in this budding industry.

BusinessWeek – July 7, 2008:
Doctors Under the Influence
There is a chance that your doctor thinks you are a dumbass. This accompanies his or her regular assumptions of hypochondria whenever you complain about a health concern that’s not visually hemorrhaging blood. Seriously, this article talks about doctors who are actually sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. Your doctor, who just prescribed you VioxxMidolViagrocotin, could have just come back from lunch on that company’s tab. Conflict of interest much?  As alarming as that is, here’s the clincher – many industry professionals do not think your doctor should tell you. Hell, even the TV tells me when “American Idol” is sponsored by the latest pile of crap Ford is trying to shovel us. How could they possibly justify this point-of-view?
“The more information that’s out there, the more difficult it will be for patients to process.”
Furthermore, doctors receive grants from pharmaceutical companies to study their drugs. They follow up by writing professional studies about their findings, and often do not include a disclosure. How much do you bet that only positive propaganda gets published? Matter-of-fact, it seems that meaningful disclosure is the exception, and not the norm, when it comes to pharmaceutical companies’ “investments”. Finally, this sad article about a Pfizer case where a 12-year old girl commits suicide after her doctor prescribes Zoloft. Guess who’s doctor was getting paid to promote Zoloft?

Reading about the Pharmaceutical industry is generally depressing, and I usually avoid it. The companies just want to make money, and if it was up to them you’d be taking their drugs for the rest of your life. Curing is not a good investment. Plus, they have these weird product cycles, where companies are extremely flush with cash one quarter, then struggling to break even the next. Throw in the FDA,  and you have corruption potential second only to the industrial military complex or a local beauty pageant. They’d probably be the de facto “black sheep” of the business world if not for Big Tobacco. Even business magazines seem to be wary of it. The article seems to be a bit biased against, and readers even complained in the next issue about the “tone”.

On a funnier note, this issue is where I first learned about Kentucky Fried Chicken now offering a meat-free alternative. OK, it is only in Canada – for now. Resist, KFC – don’t you realize if this type of mindset starts running wild, the terrorists win!

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A Bit on Budgets

Posted on 29 July 2008 by Thraxxus

All this recent talk about budgets, balancing them, corruption, money loss, bankruptcy and debt induced suicide got me to thinking about budgets in general. Recently, as in today, I was chatting via Google Chat with my niece regarding her seemingly endless debt when I brought up the notion of making a budget. Turns out she listened to me a few weeks ago when I suggested it then, but struggled to make a meaningful one that would truly assist her in planning her financial future. Consequently, I offered my assistance in the matter and have subsequently built a simple worksheet using Google’s online share-able spreadsheet system(no this is not a Google Focussed Blog-Ad, although if Google wants to pay me to write one we here at BlinkinBlogs can surely use the cash).

While working on said spreadsheet a few things occurred to me:

  1. If most people that I know have a difficult time making a simple budget then how in the hell are governments doing so?
  2. Given number 1, how the hell do governments deal in the vast amounts of cash and expenditures that they need to track?!?
  3. How are audits done on Governments that act as umbrellas for collections of smaller Governments that in turn house even smaller Governments?!?!?!? (country->state->city)
  4. Why am I working on my niece’s budget when she is nowhere to be found!!??!
  5. How the hell did I expect a 19 year old to give even the slightest bit of what might look like interest in her own financial future beyond “I need some more money Uncs!”!?!?

Anyway, in all seriousness, GlazedNConfused and I have been talking about budgets recently and how they, and those that write, manage, and especially audit them, have lead not only local and state governments to the brink of disaster but also The Country as well. In doing so we neglected to touch on the idea of just HOW these people create and balance the budget. Instead of explaining it in the rather ridiculous fashion I had planned, utilizing primarily images of hand puppets and those little gold colored-alluminum covered chocolate coins, I will direct your attention to this fellow.

Good luck understanding it. If you can, perhaps you should try to get a job helping out those other folks that work for the government – they seem to have a rather difficult time getting it done.

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California in Peril – Continued

Posted on 28 July 2008 by GlazednConfused

As Thraxxus mentioned just previously, yes my wonderful Golden State is having issues. Big-time cash flow issues, mostly caused by the current real-estate crisis, and its effect on tax revenue. The perilous drop in housing prices means less property taxes. Also, the drought didn’t help either. Vallejo was kicking around the bankruptcy escape clause, probably as some kind of cry for help. No, not Vallejo! Puhleaze.

As a result, California and our glorious leader, Heir Schwarzenegger, seem to be a bit bond-crazy. Admittedly, the word “bond” makes my eyes gloss over like Tori Spelling evaluating her credit card statement. Here is a good Q&A about state-issued bonds that you may find interesting – or not. Guess which side of the fence I’m on? So Cali is borrowing a buttload of money. Man, I’ve been there before.

However, I do know this – there is no way the 35th largest economy in the world is going bankrupt. Are we paying our government employees way too much? Oh yeah. Here is a great article in The SF Chronicle a while back (link) about cops pulling down obscene salaries because of overtime; some low-level policemen were making more than the mayor! The article is a good summary of the fiscally irresponsible carnage happening on CA city and state payrolls. This type of corruption goes on everywhere – need I even mention Chicago? Boston?

Furthermore, California is not the only state with a budget crisis. Nevada, Pennsylvania…hell, Michigan is practically a demilitarized zone as we speak. So does that make me feel better? Heck yeah. They don’t have awesome beaches! In Reno, are you an hour from the mountains, ocean, or desert? Why go to a more financially stable state when you can hang out in California, the fun-loving, freewheeling, suntan state? Also, the people are a lot prettier. If I’m going to drive on potholed roads on the way to my disappearing job, I might as well have a nice view.

In all seriousness, the economy is cyclical. This is how it worked, works, and will work. Could I buy a house somewhere else? Make a little less money with a lot lower cost of living? Maybe. Did I mention I live in California?

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A Bit on Corruption

Posted on 28 July 2008 by Thraxxus

I have never hidden the fact that I am originally from California, in fact I will even share with you that I am from a small town of 300 thousand people called Escondido. My father still lives in the house in which I was raised and constantly feeds me information regarding my home state. I refer to California as my home state as that is where I am from, not where I live; I now reside in Kansas.

Back to my father. Let me begin by saying that my father is a leary fellow, constantly looking out for what could possibly crush his world next. If you knew him, you’d know that is basically justified given how many times he has almost been killed, lost everything, and ended up in jail/prison. Needless to say the man has lead a colorful life. Today my father called me to talk shop – the following is a snippet of that conversation.

Dad: Hey are you busy?
Thraxxus: Sick as hell at home, but hey I am good. Whats up?
Dad: Oh that sucks. You sound terrible.
Thraxxus: yeah not feelin..
Dad: I called to give you an update on California.
Thraxxus: Oh yeah? whats the dealio?
Dad: Schwartzenegger is apparently trying to get a loan from the California State Lottery as well as the Federal Government. I don’t think you should come visit me this year. Supposedly the state is finished in September!

Let me stop here. My father then goes on to paint a rather bleak picture of the state of things in California. For instance in San Diego County there are supposedly over 100k MEN out of work! Furthermore, given that Cali brought down the law hard on illegal immigrants working, a huge percentage of the Mexican workers have left the state, thus my father says that it feels sort of empty. Apparently the rate of Bank Robberies has skyrocketed there as well. The thing that gets me here is that if what my father says is correct, which I don’t doubt, then there is a larger problem there:

  1. California is in debt to such a degree that they are talking about bankruptcy.
  2. If they declare bankruptcy then who pays the government employees there?
  3. If nobody plays the government employees then who works the base infrastructure like Police, Fire etc?
  4. If the state is broke, how can it afford to take a loan from anyone? The logical aspect being it spends more than it makes right? If I did that I know I couldn’t get a loan, how can a state?
  5. When the previous governor was in power the state “misplaced” 9 billion dollars. True story. Look it up. Public record and what not. Where did it go? And furthermore, how is it that nobody was investigated nor was anyone brought up on charges?

Remember my pieces on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Now consider this California bit. Someone tell me how is it that people are finding their ways into public oriented positions, seemlingly stealing billions of dollars, and then disappearing without so much as an investigation? Someone once said “Things will get worse before they get better.” Remember that in the coming years.

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Another Classic Daily Show Clip

Posted on 25 July 2008 by GlazednConfused

We all know the funniest show on TV is the Daily Show – it is not even close. Nevertheless, I dare submit possibly the funniest segment ever. Yes, even funnier than anything Lewis Black has yelled.

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Randy Pausch – RIP

Posted on 25 July 2008 by Thraxxus

Randy, in my opinion, was the definition of inspirational stories. If you do not know his story read about it here. The Lecture he did, titled at one point “The Last Lecture” is below. Do yourself a favor and watch it. Get something to drink, settle back, and watch it.

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Politics + Batman = Great Quote

Posted on 25 July 2008 by GlazednConfused

I have yet to see the new Batman movie, because my policy is always wait at least a week after opening. Also, I usually go to the earliest showing possible. Anywhoo, there is all this talk about how it parallels modern times with political themes, but I can’t comment on that – yet. However, I read a great quote in the latest EW:

Superman is how America views itself. Batman is how the rest of the world views America.” – Michael Caine

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The Hollywood Legion of Doom – Part 2 of 2

Posted on 24 July 2008 by GlazednConfused

Sorry folks for the delay. Click here for Part 1 of this glorious series.

7. Michael Bay
Crimes against humanity:
Attempted to give millions diabetes with the animal cracker scene in Armageddon
WMDs:
Every movie he has ever directed, with possible exception of Transformers
Humanitarian efforts:
He allowed Steven Spielberg to produce Transformers (as opposed to Bruckheimer), resulting in a decent movie for once
The Rock was not too bad, despite being an action movie with Nicholas Cage
Dossier:
Bay is unable to hold a shot for more than two seconds – witness his “masterpiece” Armageddon. Therefore, he tends to make video games, not movies. He consistently confuses “plot” and “script” with “explosions”. His movies are always, without exception, at least a half hour too long. The only thing worst than a bad movie is a long bad movie. Bay is widely considered the biggest douchebag in Hollywood, and despised by anyone who likes a modicum of subtlety and nuance in their entertainment. Summary: Bruce Willis said he’d rather “eat a live baby in front of his grandma” than have Bay direct a Die Hard movie. Or something to that effect.

8. Paul W.S. Anderson(?)
Crimes against humanity:
Responsible for the Resident Evils, one of the worst trilogies of all time (directing only the original)
It my be a tad early, but I will go out on a limb and place the gawddawful Death Race “re-imagining” here – the preview is a car-wreck (pun intended)
WMDs:
Just about his entire resume – production, directing, writing – he probably sneezes like a fuckup, too
Humanitarian efforts:
The first Mortal Kombat was a decent adaptation
Casting his fiance Milla Jovovich, to the adoration of fangeeks and human males everywhere
Dossier:
Commonly confused with Paul Thomas Anderson, who will never be on this list. Shoved the Resident Evil trilogy down our throats, only the first of which was any good. When Mortal Kombat (as low-budge rainy Saturday afternoon cheesefest) is the highlight of your 20-year career you may want to reevaluate.

9. Uwe Boll
Crimes against humanity:
Tara Reid, scientist, is a good place to start – but where to end?
WMDs:
Every single movie he’s ever ever made – that’s right, he is the only person on this list not to have even a C- movie
Humanitarian efforts:
The early preview of Postal – two terrorists discussing how many virgins they were going to get when they died – is seriously subversive and funny (too early? maybe)
His call to critics to fight him in the ring was a fun idea (Raging Boll – check out his wiki)
Dossier:
Uwe is currently the worst director in Hollywood, and the contest is probably not even close. Reviled by the internet community, although somewhat more “love-hated” than “King Tampon” Michael Bay. He basically funds his movies with a German tax scheme that launders money through the government. This is not an internet rumor, this is confirmed. Because of this, and the fact Boll is probably unstable, his movies must contain only three features: a bizarro awesome cast, a beginning, and an end. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t seem to be concerned with actually attracting an audience. How else can you explain his obsession with the “R” rating? These video game adaptations call out to the teenage audience, yet he has no interest in them (nude Kirstianna Loken notwithstanding). Sometimes described as the “modern Ed Wood”, although he doesn’t seem to really care about the industry or the “art of filmmaking”. According to IMDB, Boll currently has four movies in post-production, and three movies in production. How in the hell can any single person be making critical decisions on seven movies at one time?! Welcome to the world of Uwe Boll. The above picture says it all.

10. George Lucas
Crimes against humanity:
Three words – Han shot first
Jar Jar Bink’s existence
As a casting choice, Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader ranks right up there with Mickey Rooney as an oriental
This list could go on – his crime against humanity to creativity ratio is very high
WMDs:
100% responsible for the worst trilogy of all time
100% responsible for going back and noodling with the greatest trilogy of all time
The plot of the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – what the hell was he thinking?
Humanitarian efforts:
The Original Trilogy, unnoodled
American Graffitti – are we sure he was responsible?
Dossier:
Lucas somehow possesses a god complex, although his best movie was helmed by somebody else, with a screenplay by someone else. Sometime after American Graffiti, he completely lost the ability to actually direct actors, reducing near-thespians like Samuel Jackson and Natalie Portman to talking corpses. A bad, bad scriptwriter – only he would give himself the job at this point (“Noooooooooooo!“). Easy to find, usually on top of Scrooge McDuck piles of cash, playing with his action figures and signing off on licensing deals.

11. Nicolas Cage
Crimes against humanity:
The Wicker Man – absolutely stunningly awful in every way (“No, not bees!!”)
WMDs:
Castrated himself for the National Treasure movies
Ghost Rider, one of the most bizarre performances of an actor in a major studio release in recent memory
Gone in Sixty Seconds – I can not stress enough the lameness of this movie and every performance therein
Humanitarian efforts:
Leaving Las Vegas, unless the rumor that his oscar-winning performance was him actually drunk is confirmed
Adaptation – his last role where is not in either “Nicholas Cage, madman” mode or “Nicholas Cage, understated weirdo” mode
Indirectly responsible for the hilarious Wicker Man compilations on YouTube
Dossier:
Nic tends to cash paychecks faster and more often than Rush Limbaugh. Subsequently, it would be easier finding Osama Bin Laden than scripts that Cage has turned down. His next winner, Bangkok Dangerous, is two letter changes from being a porno about Lexington Steele and a couple of (barely) willing orifices. Oh, and the trailer look hilariously bad. Cage is attracted to gawddawful blockbusters like Brangelina to foreign babies.

12. Mark Steven Johnson
Crimes against humanity:
Daredevil, especially Ben Affleck
WMDs:
Ghost Rider
Casting the female Ben Affleck as Eletra, then spinning it off into a awful movie
Responsible for every single aspect of Simon Birch
Humanitarian efforts:
Besides Affleck and Garner, the casting could have been worse in Daredevil
Grumpy Old Men possessed an almost perceptible essence of humor
Dossier:
Responsible for the “Holy Trinity” of butchered comic book adaptations, which basically prompted Marvel to create their own movie studio (with awesome results – thanks Mark!). He’s a historically bad writer: Big Bully, Jack Frost, and Grumpier Old Men are just a few of his gems. On a personal note, Daredevil was my favorite comic book character growing up, and I will go to my grave never knowingly giving this bozo a dime of my money.

13. Brett Ratner
Crimes against humanity:
Handed the keys to the X-Men franchise, and promptly drove it into a tree. He will never be forgiven. Ever.
WMDs:
Rush Hour 3 – when by far the funniest part is Jackie Chan reading porno titles in the credits, that’s a bad sign
Red Dragon – “The Killer of Franchises” strikes again by somehow turning Hannibal Lector into a cartoon character
Humanitarian efforts:
After the Sunset could have been worse.
Dossier:
Ratner is probably hated by more fanboys than anyone in Hollywood – the vitriol is almost endless. “A Movie by Brett Ratner” strikes fear into more movie geeks than school bully flashbacks and gym class combined. Apparently the only man capable of coercing Chris Tucker into working for a living – a pro or con, depending on your view of Tucker. Brett was originally pegged to direct Superman Returns, which would’ve probably resulted in at least one assassination attempt by deranged fanboys. Here, the L.A. Times elaborates why the web hates Brett Ratner.

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GlazedNConfused and Thraxxus discuss LockSport

Posted on 24 July 2008 by Thraxxus

GlazedNConfused: LockSport? hmmmm
Thraxxus: locksport…
Thraxxus: seriously.. THAT IS NOT A SPORT
Thraxxus: I am gonna go to the bathroom and do some jerksport
GlazedNConfused: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
GlazedNConfused: handsport
Thraxxus: knucklesport
Thraxxus: squirtsport
Thraxxus: “This week on SquirtSport! Thraxxus, 5 time SquirtSport Champion, will be defending his crown from Glazed”7 Squirts of Danger” Confused.”
Thraxxus: “We have Glazed here. Glazed how do you prepare yourself for a SquirtSport Match?”
Thraxxus: Michael Buffer does the announcement “LEEEEEETS GET REEEEEADY TO SQUUUIIIIIIRT!”
Thraxxus: sorta fitting really
GlazedNConfused: knucklesport…that is classic
GlazedNConfused: “Peter North got nothin’ on me”
Thraxxus: know what I mean though, everything is a goddamned sport now
GlazedNConfused: yeah I think the definition of “sport” has completely gotten out of hand
Thraxxus: its like everyone who is incapable of real sport makes everything else into a sport
Thraxxus: Straw Bending!
GlazedNConfused: haha “sport envy”!

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More on Mae and Mac

Posted on 24 July 2008 by Thraxxus

I wrote a piece a few days back on Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac that spoke a bit to the idea of how business and state are mixing. Well to up that this happened. I suggest you read it. According to National Public Radio news this morning this basically means that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are going to be bailed out by your tax dollars. Let’s do the math.

  1. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are two lending companies, both have strong political ties to our government.
  2. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hold together over 5 Trillion dollars in Mortgages.
  3. During the housing bubble both of these companies funded thousands of borderline frivolous mortgages – leading to massive foreclosures – supposedly 1.5 million of them.
  4. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac give out record bonuses to their executives.
  5. You, the tax payer, are now having your tax dollars rerouted to support these two companies who have been identified as being frivolous in nature. In other words your tax dollars, which could be going to say educating your kids or just maybe to help some of our soldiers abroad not DIE, is being used to prop up two mega giant corporations who were run quite closely into the ground.
  6. Is anyone being brought up on charges? You’d think the United States of America having to bail out two major corporations from potential bankruptcy would bring about some form of inquiry. You’d think that someone just might be investigated and just maybe someone might be brought up on charges- maybe someone who received in the hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses. JUST MAYBE.

Nope.

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Bush and JFK – More Fun with Facts.

Posted on 21 July 2008 by Thraxxus

I love this one: George Bush and JFK. Good stuff.

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Star Wars Tomfoolery

Posted on 21 July 2008 by Thraxxus

Enigma sent me this because, well he is an evil douchebag.

Enjoy.

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Diablo 3: Need I say more?

Posted on 21 July 2008 by Thraxxus

Seriously, if you play games, and don’t know about the Diablo series, you aren’t really a gamer, period. Diablo 3 was recently announced, and this is the site. Watch the in game video, it’s worth the 15 minutes. I drooled.

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Alberto Rivera on Jesuits

Posted on 20 July 2008 by Thraxxus

More on those wacky Jesuits! I wonder if there is a drop of truth to any of this stuff. Either way, it iritates GlazednConfused so I post it!

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The Hollywood Legion of Doom – Part 1 of 2

Posted on 19 July 2008 by GlazednConfused

Glazed’s note: I was all set to write a different post, but it would have been a downer. I usually like to buffer a cynical, “gloom and doom” post from Thraxxus and MoMagic (aka Colonel Sugar and Spice) with something a little lighter. Call it retaining the natural balance of this blog, or just call it blowing sunshine up your asses. Either way, enjoy.

I can not stress this enough: sometime around 30 years old, two hours of your time and/or $10 will increase in value dramatically. When can you tell that you’ve reached this point? For me I believe it was 2004, at about the 45 minute mark of The Day After Tomorrow. I remember thinking “You know, I’d actually rather be balancing my checkbook right now.” Talk about depressing. Furthermore, if you are a card-holding member of Thraxxus’ “Fuck You Siskel and Ebert” Club, what is to guide you when picking your movies? Well, maybe this can help. By the way, Rolan Emmerich just missed the following list, but I have a soft spot for Eight-Legged Freaks and The Thirteenth Floor. (in no particular order – they all suck)

1. Jerry Bruckheimer
Crimes against humanity:
Longtime ring leader of the Hollywood Legion of Doom
He has shoved down our throats some of the worst movies in recent memory – Con Air, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Kangaroo Jack, the list could go on forever
Humanitarian efforts:
The first Pirates of the Caribbean was a great movie, probably due more to Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski than Bruckheimer
Beverly Hills Cop was good, and has aged well. Murphy + Bruckheimer = good movie, who would’ve thunk?
Black Hawk Down was explosive, and didn’t suffer from the crap commercialism of typical Bruckheimer fare. Ridley Scott probably had to send hookers to Bruckheimer’s hotel regularly to keep him distracted. “What, no soundtrack with Faith Hill?! Get Ridley on the…oh wait, nevermind”
Dossier:
Next time a obnoxiously loud, treacly pop song kicks in during a movie demanding that you feel a specific way, two actions are required. First, curse the director for lazy film making. Second, hunt down Bruckheimer and punch him in the nuts. Blockbuster movies built around weak pop soundtracks were first engineered by Jerry in Flashdance and then Top Gun. He is widely considered the most powerful douchebag in Hollywood, as opposed to Michael Bay who is merely the biggest. I hope that make sense. Apparently has homosexual sex footage of the biggest stars in Hollywood – that is the only explanation for the awesome cast of Con Air. Bruckheimer has also recruited some really bad directors to briefly do his bidding: Simon West (see part 2), “CGI Kangaroo” David McNally, Boaz Yakin (who?) and Dominic Sena (evil).

2. Joel Schumacher
Crimes against humanity:
Nipples and codpieces – need I to say more?
WMDs:
Almost killing off the superhero genre with Batman and Robin
Attempting to kill off Jim Carey’s career with Number 23
Humanitarian efforts:
Tigerland is underrated
I enjoyed Batman Forever, so sue me
Dossier:
Schumacher refuses to retire or die, no matter how many bombs he manufactures. Reached his peak over 20 years ago with The Lost Boys, which wasn’t exactly Citizen Kane in the first place. He prides himself on taking lurid subject matter and watering it down to make it palatable to mainstream audiences (8mm, Falling Down). Failed Hitchcock while wasting my precious time watching Colin Farrell on the phone with Kiefer Sutherland for 80 minutes in Phone Booth.

3. Gore Verbinski
Crimes against humanity:
100% responsible for the second-worst trilogy of all time – the last two Pirates movies were 5.3 hours of life-sucking awful
WMDs:
The last two Pirates of the Carribean movies
Humanitarian efforts:
The Ring was the best Japanese-to-American horror movie translation yet, which isn’t saying much
Allowing Johnny Depp free reign, possibly saving Verbinski’s career
Drugging Nic Cage into actually acting for Weather Man
Dossier:
Somehow managed to go from director wunderkind to Bruckheimer’s bitch in record time. Like Lucas, incapable of guiding actors to save his life. The result is absolute awfulness from sub-par talent like Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly. His career is still fairly new, but if he screws up Bioshock he may be run out of Hollywood on a rail – good luck, Gore!

4. Simon West
Crimes against humanity:
Con Air, one of the worst movies ever made
WMDs:
Nic Cage’s hair extensions and accent in Con Air
The exploitation of Steve Buscemi, child molestor and serial killer, in Con Air
Pissing one of the greatest casts ever assembled in Con Air
Starting the dumb sub-title trend with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
When a Stranger Calls, a most unnecessary remake
Humanitarian efforts:
Zero.
Dossier:
Started with the Rick Astley video “Never Gonna Give You Up”, which says it all. Did I mention Con Air is a bad movie?

5. Stephen Sommers
Crimes against humanity:
Taking a long history of classic monsters out to the shed and brutally cornholing it for two hours
WMDs:
The Mummy Returns and those gawddamned midgets
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor without Rachel Weisz
Humanitarian efforts:
The Scorpion King was acceptable cheese
Dossier:
Sommers basically owes his entire career to Brendan Frasier and his underrated charm and uncanny ability to act in front of a blue screen. He has the audacity to make the upcoming and pointlessly subtitled G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. It will undoubtedly suck ass – and does anything scream “sequel in the works!” more than that subtitle? Just shoot me now. Four more movies on the way in the next two to three years is a sure sign of the apocalypse.

6. Eddie Murphy – the last 15 years
Crimes against humanity:
Norbit, for crissakes!
WMDs:
His entire resume, besides Bowfinger and DreamGirls, since The Nutty Professor in 1996 – over 17 movies!
Humanitarian efforts:
Mocked himself well in DreamGirls and Bowfinger
I should put the first Shrek here, but Murphy mailed in Shrek 2 and 3
Dossier:
Participants in an informal survey are convinced that the real Eddie Murphy was abducted sometime between Metro and Doctor Doolittle, and was replaced by a clone without a penis. That clone should mock himself more often. In 2002, Murphy had a legendary string of major movie turds that would have caused even Tom Cruise to a overdose on prescription drugs: Showtime, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, and I Spy. Egads! Since then, he has resigned himself primarily to lowest-common-denominator kids movies and fart jokes. Also the Vice President of the Money Whore Club for Actors. This club is currently presided over by Nic Cage (see Part 2), with Kevin Spacey as Treasurer.

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The Dots, oddly, connect.

Posted on 18 July 2008 by Thraxxus

Basically if this is true, we all need to move.

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Industrial Metal at its Finest

Posted on 18 July 2008 by Thraxxus

Hey Man, Nice Shot! This is one of those songs that makes you want to grab someone’s head with both hands and rip it clean off. I love industrial metal.

Enjoy.

 

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The Elephant in the Room

Posted on 16 July 2008 by Thraxxus

FAnnie MaeEver heard of Fannie Mae? Freddie Mac? I had heard of them, but until two days ago I didn’t really realize why they were important. (The links I have provided point to write-ups done on these two corporations dating back several years, prior to the housing bubble bursting.) Prior to learning about them I had just assumed that they were a couple of gender specifically named investment firms. I am a person who will freely admit when he is wrong, if it happens, which is rare, just ask my wife, and on my assumption about Fannie and Freddie, well I couldn’t have been any more off target.

Freddie MacSo who are they and why are they important? Let me start off by telling a small story. A coupld of days ago MoMagic did his quarterly post on our site about global warming. MoMagic’s posts are typically polically charged, amazingly well written, and always a joy to read. Just prior to leaving my office for my arduous drive home, I took a stab at reading his article and then  grabbed up my things while pondering the world I live in. I made my way to my car and turned on National Public Radio (NPR), my favorite station just in time to hear their bit on Fannie and Freddie.

Here is what I learned:

1) Fannie and Freddie Mac are the two largest investors in the housing market in the United States of America.
2) Collectively they hold over 50% of the home loans in America.
3) Collectively they have over 5.1 Trillion Dollars in assets. Yes, Trillion.

Now these are not my facts, this is what was said on NPR. They then went on to talk about something that scared me further, realize I was already alarmed to a point considering I have been following the housing market and its demise quite avidly, being from California one tends to. The thing that grabbed me was a statement about how some people aren’t sure who is running who – Is Congress running Fannie and Freddie or is it the other way around?

TrebekThink that through for a minute. Close your eyes and imagine the Jeopardy music playing in the background. Alex Trebek can twiddle his thumbs or just try to look as pompous as ever while your brain searches for the fear that I just put to screen.

Got it? Here is the Elephant in the Room that nobody wants to talk about – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so big, and so involved in politics, that the possibility of their demise basically means the downfall of our economy. This is not some lighthearted attempt to scare the crap out of adults during some late night bed time story. If these two go under you end up with 5.1 Trillion dollars of oh my god. The question then is how is this even possible? Furthermore how can we prevent it?

Ladies and Gentlemen, as NPR put it this morning, I direct you to the French Revolution Era. During that time Government was directly involved in the business affairs of her citizens. The United States of America, a Federal Republic, has a government that is supposed to help regulate business affairs but is also supposed to let much of business just do her thing, we being a capitalist economy and such. Given this fact, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were financially backed by the government to assist people with buying a home. Many people consider them to be borderline non-profit organizations. So why then have these two financial machines been able to poor so much money into politics? why have they been giving out bonuses to their employees to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per yer? How have they been able to do both of those things while they were on their way to belly-up land?

Simple. Yesterday the Secretary of the Treasury asked for a blank check to buy as much of these two companies in stock as possible. See their stocks both dropped 25% yesterday on the news that they may both die a tragic death. This just leads to further problems for the companies, and if we factor in politics, and the economy, now is the time for our Monarchy, er, Government to step in and help them by buying up as much of both of them as possible. Cue the Jeopardy music again. THE GOVERNMENT IS LOOKING TO BUY COMPANIES THAT OWN OVER 50% OF THE HOME MORTGAGE LOANS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. In other words, the government is now directly involved with the economy. As NPR put it, welcome to the path to Socialism! Have a good day, Comrades.

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Global Warming: Does it Matter?

Posted on 14 July 2008 by MoMagic

If you have lived in Tucson Arizona since the 1960s, you have been witnessing that record low temperatures happen much less than they were from 1910 to 1960. The City of Tucson’s population is also growing and with an increasing number of people comes a proliferation of concrete and steal. As more buildings and roads are built a heat island develops. Asphalt and concrete absorb heat at different rates depending on how dark the item. Typically the darker the concrete the more heat it absorbs. Lighter surfaces will reflect heat or absorb less heat than darker objects. So as Cities expand, so does their heat absorbing, paved areas; therefor since most major cities are growing, it is believed that heat islands will also increase. Perhaps this contributes to Earth’s average mean temperature increases.

The snow is melting on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Kenya. This is a fact. Another fact is that the rain forest at the base of the mountain is being shredded, thus less moisture is whispped up the mountain, less moist air becomes cooled, and less snow is replenishing white caps. Could the fact that the destruction of the local ecosystem have contributed to glaciers dissapearing on Kilimanjaro and not Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth?

Are we witnessing Global Warming or are there other explanations where areas of the Earth is getting hotter or cooler like in Punta Arenas (at the tip of South America), where they have a GISTEMP station record posted on the wall which shows a long-term cooling trend? The middle of Antarctica is also cooling and large glacier sections are getting thicker.

Those are some arguments against Global Warming.

Is global warming a real threat or are there other factors that may explain why the mean surface temperature of the Earth is getting hotter?

Honestly, who cares?

As we watch pundits, politicians, and arm chair politicos debate over whether global warming is a fear tactic to change behavior or a legitimate scientific concern, we should rise above the muck and consider the other reasons why we should design cities so they do not place added strain on resources and the environment, for example. We should consider what products we procure especially when they could come from a rain forest slaughter mill or which region we need to patrol to protect our petrol-chemical intrests. As my friend comments below, humans need to rethink how their behavior affects the environment.

It’s not only about Global Warming. It’s about how we perceive ourselves in relation to the Country and to the World. Is our job to take care of the bordered fencing on our plot of land? Is our only concern that Conner, Sally, and Alex make it to soccer and cheer practice on time while mom looks for a second job to pay down last year’s Holiday expenses? Or should our concerns expand beyond the mind numbing noise, endless chatter and bleeding mass media headlines that help keep us captivated and distracted?

I’m picturing an Ostrich with its head in the sand right now where its wallet, its way of life, its values and its substance is being compromised. It has been sold that having a head in the sand is American, it’s good for the economy, and will help fight terror.

It’s so much more than Global Warming.
Rethink U.S. goals
by Omar Masry

It seems like every day, I can open up the Register to a healthy debate over the ramifications of global warming and whether global warming even exists or if it’s even the fault of humans. As a city planner, I sometimes wonder if it even matters anymore. The climate is changing in ways we can’t simply reverse, no matter our intention, and whether it’s due to humans doesn’t undo the present. What matters more to me, especially as a veteran of the Iraq war, is how dependent we are on unstable areas for the energy that powers so much of our economy.

It’s time to ask: Where is our space race? Where is our generation’s challenge? Where is our paradigm shift to rethink American?” Heck, even crotchety oilmen like T. Boone Pickens are saying it’s time for change. Surely, that change has to be something more than the next iPhone.

Omar’s comment is published in the Orange County Register:
http://www.ocregister.com/articles/doctrine-oil-congress-2091254-fairness-

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Hancock Rebuttal – Spoiler Alert!

Posted on 13 July 2008 by GlazednConfused

After reading Thraxxus review of Hankock, a movie that caused him to basically write off all critics as hacks, I was curious enough to check it out. Like him, I was amazed at critics’ commentaries. Not the concensus that the movie sucked, which was not 100%, but the consensus that Hancock goes off the rails about halfway through. Let me assure you now – it doesn’t just go off the rails, it takes out a busload of nuns and then plummets off a cliff.

First, let me take you back to a happier time and place. The beginning of the movie, when we meet Will Smith’s character. Was he unlikable? Sure. I could relate to the fact that every two minutes someone called him an asshole. Certainly this was the biggest prick Mr. Smith has ever played, and so far so good. Then Hancock meets Jason Bateman, who is a PR Man with a heart of gold (about as rare as an arctic fox). Admittedly, Jason Bateman is one of my favorite actors so they had me from the start. The fact that he wants to rehab Hancock’s image and set him straight is very believable, and fairly original for this genre. Side note: I am totally convinced that Bateman is totally drunk for every role. If you have seen Dodgeball, or the DVD extras for Juno, you know exactly what I am talking about. Nonetheless, the acting overall was excellent. After last seeing Charlize Theron in Monster, it was nice to see her back to her ravishing self (including her eyebrows). So, up to this point I have described how “this film was about an anti hero persona coming to grips with the world around him and trying to be accepted into it”, as Thraxxus describes it very accurately.

Well, then the entire movie goes wrong – this is not an exaggeration. Five minutes of backstory is insufficient for the shit that was about to go down. Why is Charlize and Smith’s characters fighting? Sure, they had history, but I never saw it and therefore I did not care a whit. I agree with Thraxxus that Charlize Theron did the best job possible to make this twist work, but she was swimming upstream. As for the “villain”, he was just merely there as a convenient plot pusher. Finally, mercifully, the hospital scene was a huge slice of stinky cheese. Oh, hello Bateman – you are still here? Make yourself useful. Then, the movie wrapped up into a nice, audience-pleasing bow. I hate to quote a snotty critic, but the movie “rewrote its own internal logic in order to pander to its audience”. BARF.

So here’s what I’m saying – there are warning signs, besides just critic response, when choosing what movies to watch. The only reason this movie got made is because Will Smith was attached, and that sets off an alarm by itself. Hancock was in development in one way or another for almost twelve years. Numerous directors were attached, including Michael Mann, while the script went through many rewrites. You could almost hear the gears grinding in the movie, and it struggled because of it.

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Don LaFontaine – A Legend

Posted on 10 July 2008 by Thraxxus

This is a guy that you know, but don’t know that you know. His bit on being in school is awesome.

 

This guy, Pablo Francisco, parodies him quite well.

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PURE PORN POTENTIAL

Posted on 08 July 2008 by Five0ClockCharlie

Working in the web industry you tend to find some really strange things on the web. We all thought that second life was cool until it took you 20+ hours just to learn how to get to some stupid island to watch a tutorial and some wierdo wanted to to preform some act for the Second life currency.

Now I have run across a really cute but very disturbing site. You create your on avatar or cartoon likeness, build your chat room, add decor then chat with friends. Your avatar will not look like you nor even remotely reflect your personality, but hey who is judging. Lively.com is a new creation by Google.

Back after the break.

Googles key motto is to not be evil and they are crating a world that screams lets corrupt it with porn and the potential of virtual phone sex.

Now picture walking into a chat room you were invited to and the room is full of some really weird stuff. Strange stuff on the walls odd things laying around the floor. From across the room a deep voice calls “Boy you sure got a pretty mouth”. Can you say TOTALLY CREEPY.

How long will it take before this happy cute thing turns into a porn infested freak show.

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Hancock – A Critic’s Critic.

Posted on 08 July 2008 by Thraxxus

HancockThis last weekend I went along with Enigma to catch the latest Will Smith flick, Hancock. Prior to seeing the film I had become rather put off to the idea of actually sitting through it as a result of all the critics out there giving the film a brutal verbal shellacking. It appears that practically every critic out there who had their displeasure of viewing the film came to the same conclusions:

1) The film used too much profane language.
2) The first half of the film was somewhat enjoyable.
3) The second half of the film was terrible.
4) The twist in the film was either confusing, irritating, or just plain stupid.

Given these perspectives the idea of watching the film was not a good one for me. In fact the only reason I attended the film was due to the fact that we were taking a friend’s son to see the film. Don’t lambast me just yet, he’s 13 years old. So why do I bring up the critics? Simply put, they are morons. I realize I am playing the role of critic in this tiny write up, and I understand the perceived hypocrisy of it as well in the view of my statement, but that does not change the fact that it is true.

Consider this for a moment: what experience do film critics have that empowers them with the ability to tell a good film from a bad one? Have they made films themselves? Produced? Directed? Written? Had a bit part in a B rated film? Perhaps the critic was a fluffer in an eastern block puppy porn. If you look at the “experience” of these guys you will quickly note that they lack any at all. The only thing they have is that they are avid film goers, and I can only conclude that they are because they are in fact paid to be so.

I enjoyed Hancock quite a bit more than I expected that I would. As I sat there, the movie unrolling in front of me, with Will Smith on the glorious screen, head cocked to the side in one of his many poses that indicated just how much his character hates his situation and I realized something: What movie were these critics expecting to see? This was not Superman. This was not the X-Men. This was not Spiderman. This film was about an anti hero persona coming to grips with the world around him and trying to be accepted into it. That’s it, no charades. How is that so difficult to wrap your brain around?

Regarding the acting  – at one point Charlize Theron looks at Will Smith’s character and without saying a word, she delivers a look that was one of the best acting jobs I have seen in years – you could tell that she recognized him more than a passing fancy from a television. She knew this man. I mention that because I had heard that some critics thought the acting was blasé. Furthermore, and I am not a Charlize fan, I thought both her acting and good looks were stunning. I take my hat off to you Lady.

In the future I plan to totally ignore all critics as they are collectively self righteous, indignant blow hards who go see an action filmd and criticize it for not being a drama or a comedy. They seem to have lost the purpose for films: Entertainment.

 

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Best Breaker I’ve Ever Seen

Posted on 07 July 2008 by Thraxxus

GlazednConfused was nice enough to post the popper from So You Think You Can Dance? As he often does, this has inspired me to share a break dancer video that always blew me away. So without further ado, AWESOMENESS.

 

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Popper Video From “So You Think You Can Dance”

Posted on 06 July 2008 by GlazednConfused

Latest performance from the guy from the earlier audition – especially awesome when he bends over backwards.

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