Friday, November 10, 2006

Caption Contest!

It's simple, really. Go down into the comments and put words in the mouths of these three individuals who really look like they'd rather be anywhere but the most awkward news photo of the last decade or so. Cheney, in particular, looks like he's having to suppress the urge to rip apart Pelosi with his bare hands.

I'll pick the winner, who will get absolutely nothing.

(Thanks to the New York Times for the photo.)


Thursday, November 09, 2006


Now, this video clip will be amusing to you if the name Steve Hemmingsen means absolutely nothing, but if you have ever been a resident of KELOland, it will be that much better.

I got it from the Progressive on the Prairie who got it from Dakota War College.

And since I'm otherwise busy, and the other writers have all disappeared, here's an additional video clip called CURSING ROBOT TALK ABOUT HIS FATHER. What does this mean? You'll have to find out.

Bonus video clip:

Sufjan Stevens sings Majesty Snowbird. I like it!

Plus, some dorky kid checks out South Dakota Light.

Good times!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Take this vote and suppress it

So I went to the voting place today (which, of course, was in a car dealership, because that's where we vote, duh) and, of course, had to vote on an electronic voting machine. Despite the eerie sight of one of these machines being broken (which slowed down the line a lot), I, unfortunately, was not disenfranchised.

California's voting machines are very different from the ones you've heard about that have caused all of the paranoia. You can verify your vote (both on screen and on paper) something like five times, and when you're done, a giant receipt-like strip of paper scrolls past off to your left like it's running a price check on your vote or something. Then, your vote is recorded to a card that looks like a hotel room key, and you take it to the election officials (who, presumably, give you a credit on your voting machine for giving the card back).

Then you get a sticker that says I VOTED ELECTRONICALLY.

Now, there are a lot of people out there who really, truly believe that the Republicans (or Democrats, I guess, all prior evidence to the contrary) are behind a giant conspiracy to rig elections (though tonight would seem to argue against the Republicans are either supremely canny or not involved in vote rigging at all). They'll argue that the good folk at Diebold are going in, as are political operatives, to voting places and changing the results through secret programming magic. Now, obviously, the machines make this possible (and by not releasing its source code, Diebold at least looks very SUSPICIOUS), but, really, how many people do you have to keep quiet in a scenario like this? It just doesn't make any sense.

Obviously, there has been voter suppression in the last string of elections (and you can read those stories and feel about them however you like), but that suppression has taken a legal stand and has been completely out in the open. It's far easier to play this off as "no big deal," after all. Real, meaningful election reform would close up these legal loopholes, rather than chase after conspiracies.

That said, the real reason I don't think that the voting machines will ultimately prosper has to do with the fact that information is so free right now. How hard would it be for an enterprising Diebolder to leak corporate memos to the Internet? And if your vote was being suppressed this go-round, you were encouraged to take photos of said action happening with your cell phone camera. Your cell phone camera! How would someone have proved their vote was suppressed in the 1850s? By explaining their side of the story? I'll take my cell phone camera, thank you very much.

Against all of our efforts, democracy marches on. And a lot of that is despite technology. But even more of that is thanks to technology.


Monday, November 06, 2006

"He's dead. Dumbass ate a scorpion.": Weekend catching up

Firstly, this seems to be devolving to the point where we don't do weekend posts. Our weekend hits are way less than our Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday hits. Does this bother you? We can certainly throw stuff up over the weekend if it does.

Secondly, if you missed the latest House Next Door stuff, it's here and here. And if you like to discuss Battlestar Galactica, come on over. We've got some GREAT commentors there who always stir the pot thoughtfully.

Now. Some thoughts on the TV season so far that I couldn't sneak in to the latest T.V. on TV.

I'm really enjoying this season of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Its last season was a little too bizarre and self-consciously odd, but this season has been hilarious, perhaps because the creators got their weirdness out on the upcoming movie (just like the South Park guys did after their uneven second and third seasons). The first three episodes have gotten better and better, and this week's pitch-perfect parody of those sitcom episodes where characters think they have cancer, get very sick, then find out they don't have cancer was completely hilarious in its exactitude. It also gave me the quote that titled this article, so there you go. I also really liked the episode where the characters grew a dog based on Shake's DNA in the backyard pool. The show's weirdness is still there (clearly), but the characters (such as they are) are keeping it grounded.

I really wish I had caught up with Ugly Betty in time to include it in my roundup Tuesday. Because then I would have beaten this article that says much of what I wanted to say about the show anyway. Betty is that rare breed: a generous soap. It goes out of its way to make sure that all of its characters have motivations that make sense, and it goes out of its way to give those characters added dimensions. The central conflict of the show is that people judge instantly by appearance, but the hidden subversion of it is that we read a lot into appearance in everyone. We read class and race and so many other things. Betty is arguing that we should reconsider our initial assumptions about EVERYone, not just the heroine as it seemed in the series premiere. Betty is a show that I seriously, seriously underestimated, and it deserves your eyeballs.

Everybody Hates Chris is also having a sweet, unfettered season. It's really hit its stride this season, and the episode where Chris was elected class president after he launched into an impromptu stand-up routine at the speech he gave the day before the election was thrilling in the way it portended just who Chris would become. Between this, Mother, The Office, Earl, Betty, 30 Rock and Weeds (not to mention the upcoming Scrubs), this is shaping up to be a dynamite year for comedy. Now all we need are some new comedies that are better than Help Me Help You or The Class.

A lot of people are complaining about Lost. While I agree with the complaints that the series lacks meaningful subtext, they've been true since the first season. I honestly, though, find this first arc with the Others quite compelling, and I love the way Ben and Juliet have been integrated into the cast (Juliet and Jack are far more interesting to me as a couple than Kate and Jack ever were). There have been some bizarre up-and-back episodes already, but that's par for the course with Lost. Here's hoping the fall finale advances the plot line enough to keep some of the increasingly fickle fans watching.

I think I've given up on Prison Break. Two whole episodes sitting here, and I have no desire whatsoever to watch them.

Finally, it's still not my cup of tea, but Libby assures me (and, I guess, all of you) that Brothers & Sisters has gotten a lot better and injected some humor into its once dour proceedings. Producer Greg Berlanti also appears to have made the whole show into his Everwood refugee camp, which I heartily approve of. This is good television for your mom to watch.

Back with thoughts on something tomorrow.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Not Much Chance of Comin' Out Clean...

Recently seen DVDs...

Down In The Valley

I don't why I thought this was going to be a straight-up Western, but...I was wrong. The interesting thing about the film is, to Ed Norton's character Harlan, it really is. Down in the Valley is a somewhat beguiling film that disguises itself as quite a few things before we get down to the white meat of the tale. Its chameleon like shifts from genre to genre make its more cogent instances quite gratifying but ultimately left me in a bit of a stupor as to the relevance of what I just saw. That being said, Norton probably gives the best performance of his career, and surely one of the best of the year. He conveys honesty and authenticity even when he's lying, which, really, has to be hard even for a sociopath. A good film, but a great performace.


Brick is just a delight to watch. The whole idea is silly, but we knew that going in. The end result is a fairly fabulous excercise in pseudo-noir by someone who could very well be a damned fine filmmaker in the very near future. But, really, Brick is only able to pull the vintage noir aura off about half of the time. The blanks are then filled in with Mamet style dialogue and a Hitchcock resonance that does tend to leave you a bit befuddled. Really, though, it's the cast that's the point of note here. Young, talented, and willing to make sacrifices in order to make believe. Levitt cotinues to impress with every role he chooses, this being no different.