Archive for July, 2008

I Can’t Make This Stuff Up*

Posted in economics, political correctness, tv with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I’m reprinting this article in its entirety, because, well, it’s just too awesome not to.

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Snickers Bars To Gays: “Take It Like A Man”

LONDON (AP) – Responding to complaints that its latest television ad campaign for Snickers bars is insulting to homosexuals, Mars Inc. public relations spokesman David Andros said today that homosexuals should just “take it like a man.”

In a press conference held to respond to charges of gay stereotyping and insulting gays, Andros said that gays “need to suck it up and get over themselves.”

“There isn’t anything in this ad campaign that directly insults gays or even makes stereotypical accusations about queers. If anything, our willingness to poke harmless fun at them seems to me to be a sign that they are making swift progress in gaining mainstream acceptance, which you’d think they’d be over the moon about. Harmless fun like this is a part of a fringe element becoming accepted by the world at large, and while it might be a bitter pill, I think they need to swallow it – all of it, like a good boy – and take it like a man.”

Gay-rights activist Clayton “Man-Toy” Hollingsworth, of the Association for Sexplorative Selves, disagreed.

“Mars Inc. needs to take these commercials off of the airwaves. The suggestions that we gays, as a community, just suck it up, swallow it down, bend over and take it like men is in itself offensive,” the ardently homosexual Hollingsworth said, taking a brief break from preferring the company of men to women in order to be interviewed. “This press conference only showed how homophobic that company really is, and I think that when we bring our swollen pressure against them, their taut little buttocks will tremble in fear of us. Our market penetration is deeper than they could imagine, and through boycotts and protests, we’ll give them what they’re so obviously asking for, good and hard.”

“Really, really hard,” Hollingsworth added.

The ad that sparked the hot, sweaty firestorm remains on the air in the UK. It depicts a man writhing and groaning with a swiftly-advancing clock in the background, implying that many hours are passing, before the camera pans back to show that the man is being sodomized, apparently consensually, by a giant anthropomorphic Snickers bar. The commercial then cuts to a picture of a Snickers bar, with a voiceover that says “Snickers: The pleasure lasts a long, long time,” before returning to show the giant anthropomorphic Snickers bar laying on the bed, the man’s head descending between his legs, as the bar asks, “So, how do you like my nuts?”

While another commercial featuring 80s icon Mr. T firing a cannon at a speedwalker, calling him “a disgrace to the man race,” also initially drew some ire from gay-rights groups, they have since recanted their initial protests. Said Hollingsworth, “Speedwalking? Really? How gay is that?”

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* – Yes, I can, and yes, I totally did make up the entire article. Except for the Mr. T part.

No AP reporters were harmed in the making of this blog.

VS – 7.30.08

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Colour Me Impressed

Posted in comic books, movies with tags , , , on July 23, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I must admit, I didn’t think it could be done.

When I first heard months ago that the second-most critically acclaimed graphic novel of all time, the most popular graphic novel of all time, and my favourite book of all time would be made into a movie, I was very skeptical.  I’m talking, of course, about Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

How, I wondered, could the brilliance, complexity, psychological explorations, and stunning character developments possibly be shortened into a two-hour movie?  What would have to be changed to make it acceptable to mainstream audiences, and would those changes make a mockery of my beloved book?

Then I saw the trailer.

Damn.

Other than the costume changes for Silk Spectre and Ozymandias, the visuals for this movie are just mind-blowing.  And Dr. Manhattan’s still nekkid!

I’m still skeptical, but if the story can match the visuals, this will be an incredible movie indeed.

Keeping my fingers crossed. . .

VS – 7.23.08

Wait, What?

Posted in economics, politics, war with tags , , , , , on July 23, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I know, I skipped blogging last week.  My bad.  At least I used the time productively, to make a shiny new banner!

So, in the two weeks since my last column, some things have happened, I’ve heard.  I do want to catch my loyal reader up on some of those things, so I’ll start. . .oh. . .right here:

1.  The American Economy, or, The Audacity of a Dope

As I learned from watching The Daily Show, on July 15th, at 10:20 AM, Somehow-Still-President Bush gave a press conference on the economy. In case you’re too broke to pay attention to the article, I’ll sum up his speech for you:  he took the opportunity to blame Democrats for our weak economy, urge Congress to pass his spending bills and what amounts to a bailout package for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (while also saying “I don’t think the government ought to be involved in bailing out companies.”  Little disconnect there?)  and again press for allowing offshore drilling and Alaskan drilling, things that the American people have said time and again that they do not want.  His speech was optimistic about the economy while acknowledging the “difficult time” that American families going through right now.  That’s what he called it; a “difficult time.”  I think the President has “misunderestimated” the problem.

The really interesting thing about this press conference is that the President gave one at all, since he is notorious for not speaking directly with the press.  But that day was a special occasion.  Why?

Because on July 15, at 10:20 AM, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke was testifying before Congress and giving a very very different view of the economy.  Bernanke was pessimistic and, while he carefully avoided actually saying the word “recession,” he did say that all Americans should “lube up and bend over; we’re pretty much fucked.”

Okay, he didn’t really say that, but he might as well have.  He was so frank and honest about the situation in his testimony, it wouldn’t have been surprising at all if he’d said that.

Apparently Mr. Bernanke didn’t get the administrations memo about speaking optimistically when it comes to the economy, as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and SEC Chairman Christopher Cox did.  In their testimonies, they praised and supported Bush’s bailout plans and spoke a bit more optimistically than Bernanke did.

Hmmmmm.  So Bernanke goes out and gives a more honest view of the economy, and somehow the President gives a rare press conference at the exact same time?  Schedule mixup or deliberate attempt to draw attention away from the truth?  You make the call (hint: deliberate attempt).

2.  War – What Is It Good For?  Borrowing Tons of Money From Foreign Governments, Apparently

How’s that tax rebate – sorry, “economic stimulus” check feel?  Pretty good, yah?  While I’m talking about taxes, have you noticed that for the entirety of the Iraq War, we’ve had no tax increases?  It’s the first war we’ve fought that didn’t come with a tax increase, and in fact has has two tax rebates!  Our government must be doing pretty good with its money, right?

Wrong, wrong, so fucking wrong!  If “right” was sex with a supermodel, you’d be in the bathroom of a gay bar with your pants down, your mouth open, and surrounded by the Village People; that’s how wrong you’d be!

Our government has been busy borrowing money from numerous other countries both to pay for the war and to be able to give those tax rebates.  While I can understand politfact.com wanting to tell the truth of Obama’s remarks, I must admit that I do find it a bit alarming that China (didn’t we get busted for spying on them a few years back?  Haven’t their spies in this country been busted recently?) and Saudi Arabia (I really don’t understand why people seem to keep forgetting that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, 50 of the Gitmo detainees are Saudis, and bin Laden himself has ties to the Saudi royal family?  With friends like those. . .) are two of the top three lenders to the US.  That kinda bugs me, considering both countries have bad recent track records with human rights issues.  Sayeth the Bush:  “We remember those seeking religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, where the religious police continue to arrest non-Muslims, yet where we also believe reforms pledged by King Abdullah can bring real change.”

Wait, what?  So our President is wagging the finger of his right hand at these countries, while eagerly taking their money with the left?  The words don’t match the actions here, and when that happens, always go with the actions. And our President’s actions send a clear message:  we don’t really care about your policies or how badly you treat people, or what you do to and against us, as long as you give us money.

Wow. . .our administration has become a bunch of crack whores.

3.  Barack Obama’s “See, The Rest Of The World Likes Me” World Tour

Presumptive Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama (damn, that’s long) has left the country!

That would be good news for the Republicans, except for two things:  one, he took all the major network news anchors with him, and two, he’s coming back.

It seems to be a fun trip for Obama, though; he’s visited Iraq (squashing McCain’s criticism of him for never having been there), and is currently in The West Bank, meeting jubilant crowds everywhere (Barack:  Bigger Than The Beatles?).  Apparently he represents a great hope for the American people, at least in the eyes of foreign people, who, it must be noted, get better and more accurate news than we do here.

Meanwhile, in the US, presumptive Republican Presidential Candidate Senator John McCain got an essay rejected from the New York Times, which had published an essay by Senator Obama only a week before.  While some are saying that the NYT is showing a bias by doing so, I have to say that, having read both pieces, I would have made the same decision to publish Obama’s “Here’s How We Can Fix Our Problems In Iraq” piece and not publish McCain’s “Barack Obama is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong” piece.  Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer substance and solutions over point-scoring and the same naysaying and smokescreens that the current adminsitration has become so adept at using.  Again, maybe that’s just me.

I think that’s me caught up now. . .I swear, every time I have to get caught up, I get outrage fatigue..

VS – 7.23.08

FurLife For Life

Posted in travels with tags , , , , on July 9, 2008 by vagabondsaint

Over the weekend, I attended a meeting of FurLife, a Seattle-based group of furries. (For those unfamiliar with “furries,” click here for a Wikipedia entry about the furry lifestyle. For those too lazy to click the link and read the damn article, I’ll sum it up: furries like literature, cartoons, and drawings about anthropomorphic animals and adopt furry personas, sometimes including a full costume, for roleplay online or in real life; sometimes for sexual play as well.)

Having seen this Youtube video (watch it for the song, if nothing else) a few days before the meeting, I was a bit apprehensive about, well, going there and seeing something I couldn’t unsee, particularly sexual aspects of the fur life. I was a bit calmed by the knowledge that the meeting was in a public park, but still a bit wary; it was my friend G who told me that, if nothing else, I would at least get something interesting to write about out of it. That decided it for me.

Well, I went, and I honestly had a good time. The people I met and talked to weren’t super-obsessives (as I’d feared), they were just normal people with the hobby of occasionally putting on costumes or role-playing as anthropomorphic animals online. I unfurtunately (ha!) did not get a chance to conduct a deep interview with anyone; hopefully, that will come later. From the conversations I had, though, they’re just like anyone else with a hobby; really not much different from model railroaders (i used to be one), comic-books fans (of which I am one), gamers (one of those too), obsessive readers (me again), or people who spend way too much time online (starting to get worried about myself here. . .).

You know what? I’m probably not a good judge of what constitutes normalcy. Whatever my capabilities of judging such may be, I went, I had a good time, and didn’t get freaked out or hit on (to my knowledge. . .I tend to miss such things when they happen) by anyone in or out of a furry costume.

Here’s what I learned about furries, this group in general and the lifestyle in particular, with pictures (where applicable) from the meeting:

1. FurLife (also called “Seattle’s Fur Mafia”. . .think of that what you will) started last year, on July 8, and this was their first anniversary meeting.

the original FurLife members

the original FurLife members

2. The costumes are expensive as hell; a good costume can cost $1500 and up. Some people make the costumes themselves, which is arduous but cheaper and involves a lot of trial of error.

Treever and Hush, wearing about $4000 worth of fur costume

3. The costumes are hot; of the members that actually had their costumes with them, they didn’t keep them on for long.

You can't tell from this picture, but this guy sweated off about 10 pounds that day.

4. A “furpile” is, well, pretty self-explanatory; a bunch of furries get into a big pile. While the reasons for such escape me, I have to admit it looks like it would be fun if there were more women and fewer men involved. (I should note that personal boundaries are well-observed in such piles.)

Furpiles: an easy way to get some tail (sorry. . .I couldn't resist)

6. Some furries feel their hobby has been given a bad rap by the “Fur And Loathing” episode of CSI, which has its own Wikipedia entry. From that entry: “Members of the furry fan community felt the show deliberately misrepresented elements of their subculture for the purpose of entertainment. Complaints ran from the lack of any real (or fun) events on the convention schedule to the incredibly high proportion of fursuiters, participating in novel activities (the “furpile orgy”) which would lead to hyperthermia almost immediately. Several singled out Rocky’s projectile vomiting scene as particularly unrealistic, as well as the fact that his suit was lined with latex.” Having seen and felt those suits myself, I have to say: lining one with latex would be akin to climbing into an oven set on “broil” and locking the door behind you.

The "Fur And Loathing" episode of CSI

The "Fur And Loathing" episode of CSI

7. Being a furry does not automatically mean you have to be vegan or vegetarian; most of those that attended were omnivorous. Only one person asked my dietary preference, and I explained to them that I am becoming a “compassionate omnivore” (thanks to Solitary Vegan for that term) and then had to explain what that meant.

8. Furries are just normal, cool people having fun and indulging in their hobby/escape from reality without harming anybody. While I can’t say I have any desire to become a furry, I can say that I enjoyed hanging out with them and may do so again in the future.

Some random pictures from the meeting:

FurLife, The Furry Mafia

FurLife, The Furry Mafia

A furry with her fans

A furry with her fans (she's a girl under there; I checked)

Ummmmmmmmmmm. . .

Ummmmmmmmmmm. . .

VS – 7.9.08

Straight Talk And Access, Indeed

Posted in politics with tags , , , on July 9, 2008 by vagabondsaint

No real blog today; just a couple of links and comments.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677/#25594420 (sorry about the advertisement)

Way to go, McCain! About time somebody silenced those subversive sestagenarian librarians! They’ve held too much power in this country for too long!

As for Senator Obama:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25600445/

Let that be a lesson to everyone in this country, famous, infamous, or somewhere in-between: being interviewed by Access Hollywood is ALWAYS a mistake.

VS – 7.9.08

Torn On The Fourth Of July

Posted in economics, politics, ramble, war with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2008 by vagabondsaint

It’s Independence Day, and I know I’m supposed to be all “USA! USA!” and patriotic and stuff, but really, I’m just not feeling it. Most of the week, I’d completely forgotten today is a holiday, even yesterday, when, if I’d remembered that today is a holiday, I would have bought enough cigarettes to last me until Saturday. Now I’m stuck smoking Camels (which are, surprisingly, more expensive than my normal imported smokes), which, while the supplying the nicotine I need to keep me from killing stupid people, does not help alleviate my mood.

So, about that mood and my low supply of patriotic enthusiasm today:

In some ways, it’s been a great year in American history. For the first time, we had two viable minority Presidential candidates, in Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. Damn shame they were running in the same party, though; if they hadn’t, we would have been guaranteed a historic Presidency. . .which, I guess, we still are, since John McCain would be the first septuagenarian sworn in. That little fact goes largely ignored; I think the American public just sees him as another old white guy. McCain aside, politically, it’s been an exciting time: history-making candidates, women and minorities more energized and eager to particpate in the process, the youth vote turning out in record numbers. . .an exciting time for the experiment in democracy known as America.

At the same time, though, I feel so thoroughly, completely, and utterly betrayed by the American government right now that it’s hard to muster feelings of anything but disgust whenever I think of it. All the lies, scandals, crimes, injustices, and corruption. . .and, even more heartbreaking, the complete failure of the Fourth Estate to serve as the watchdog it was intended to be, and the laissez-faire, apathetic attitudes of the American people. . . At this point, I think that if we could harness the energy generated by our forefathers spinning in their graves, we could power at least the Eastern Seaboard and cut our fossil fuel consumption greatly.

One thing that makes me ill in particular is how much this administration has hidden information, refused testimony, touted propaganda as fact while suppressing the real facts, and outright lied to the American people. Freedom is the ability to make choices, isn’t it? And when you’re denied the information needed to make informed choices, isn’t your freedom being suppressed? You can’t make a free and informed choice without the proper information, and just like that, your freedom is curtailed. By the “Leader of the Free World,” no less. I remember Senator Clinton saying that she would not have supported the war if the information suppressed by the administration at the time they were making their case for war had been available. . .a lot of other people felt the same way, and now our servicemen and their families (not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, wounded, or displaced from their homes by this war; click here for a full count of American casualties and a low-ball estimate of Iraqi casualties) are paying the price for the failures of the media, the people, and the government. Hey, remember how this war would help lower gas prices? They’ve done the exact opposite, as have the chest-thumping aimed at Iran (Surprisingly, Ron Paul, the former Republican candidate, agrees; click here for his views on fixing the problem). Thinking about all the ways this administration has wronged the American people just makes me ill and gives me outrage fatigue.

I’m still proud of the American Dream; hell, I’m still chasing it. But I can’t help feeling that the administration is in opposition to the Dream, and the people are failing it.

And with that feeling. . .I just don’t feel like celebrating today.

VS – 7.4.08

Randoma

Posted in randoma with tags , , , , on July 1, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I’m still on my break from politics (as, apparently, the candidates themselves are; the news cycles of full of minor crap expanded to fill available time) so, I thought today I’d just blog about some different, feel good kinda stuff.

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First, I want to say “Happy Canada Day!” to all of my Canadian readers.  Okay, my one Canadian reader.

For my American readers, Canada Day is like our Fourth Of July, except with less gunfire.  It celebrates the day that the British liberated Canada from the clutches of a ruling monarchy set up by world-infamous Viking and conqueror, Erik the Red (and his descendants, Peter the Pink, Larry the Mauve, and so on, all the way down to Maurice the Off-White-sort-of-Creamy-Beige), and then granted Canada their independence from the British several hundred years later, after the pivotal Battle Of Damn-It’s-Cold-Out-Here, which took place somewhere in Canada and was named by British troops.  The British did fail to completely run out the French, though, who have maintained a stronghold in northern Saskatchewan for several millenia and are too deeply dug in to ever be removed.  Canada, our neighbours to the north, have given us many wonderful things, such as Rick Moranis, Mike Myers, Elisha Cuthbert, and Celine Dion, only three of which we have since tried to return (I’m keeping Elisha Cuthbert).  Canada also has considerably less gun violence than America, a socialized medical system, is one of the world’s leading exporters of oil, and never, ever, ever has people in Middle Eastern countries burning their leaders in effigy while screaming “Death to Canada!”  A lot of people like to make fun of Canada, but they must be doing something right up there.  In closing, I would like to say that I know absolutely nothing about Canada, I totally made up that history, and I’ve just realized that being invaded and conquered by Canada might not be such a bad thing.  At least we’d have socialized medicine.

Anyway, Happy Canada Day!

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My friend Jay emailed me a video today.  It’s called “Where the Hell is Matt?” and features a guy doing a frankly silly dance in many parts of the world, alone at first, then joined by natives of the various countries he’s in.

I like the video because it’s, well, it’s just one guy, getting people all over the world to dance with him.  Dancing is something that every culture in the world has in common (except those that don’t for religious reasons, which is just stupid to me; God didn’t give us bodies so that we could sit around and not enjoy them), and to me, it’s great and heartwarming to see a celebration of the commonalities of all people all around the world. . .especially nowadays when it seems the world at large would rather focus on, and fight over, the differences between cultures.

Bravo to Matt and his crew for doing this video, and bravo to Stride Gum for supporting the project.

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This isn’t so much a “feel good” story as it is a “feel glad you’re not this person story,” but I still found it very interesting and thought I’d share.  This story comes to us from the Last Days column of last week’s The Stranger, a local weekly paper here in Seattle (their review of The Love Guru is hilarious, by the way).

This is the story, in my words:  Two weeks ago, a woman was found dead in her apartment in Germany, presumably of natural causes.  Here’s the twist: none of her neighbours remembered seeing the woman after 1966, meaning she’d probably been dead for 42 years before anyone thought to break into the apartment and look for her.  One neighbour stated that they’d assumed she’d moved out to live with family elsewhere.  As the woman was only 42 years old at the time of her presumptive demise, I guess they didn’t think that maybe she’d died.  Her last cup of tea was still sitting on the table in front of her, though God only knows what could have grown and died in that cup by then.

I have questions here.  If she had family, what did they think had happened to her?  How was her rent being paid?  Was absolutely no one else interested in renting the apartment in 42 fucking years?

Think about that the next time you feel lonely or that no one cares about you; it kind of puts loneliness into perspective for me.

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Just to end this on a completely silly note, you can click here to read about the breakdown of chiplomatic relations between Fritolaysia and Snakistan.  I swear that reads like an old Mad Magazine article.

Feeling better yet?

VS – 7.1.08