Friday, August 21, 2009

Another Them Crooked Vultures

Another Them Crooked Vultures video has surfaced on youtube, this time from their second-ever live show in Amsterdam. It's a lot longer, this time!

And there it is.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I know I'm not the only freaked out person

I know that others are as frightened and concerned about the nutjobs amassing at these health care town hall meetings in the States. Nazi symbols, constant comparisons between Obama and Hitler (because his health care policies are the one thing for which Hitler is best known), and people showing up with guns. And assault rifles. I don't think I need to go into detail about the lunacy of equating your right to bear arms and carry an assault rifle to the president's town hall meeting with the fight against health care for everyone. In fact, if anyone ever gets seriously hurt while protesting against universal health care, they should probably be left there just to see if they succumb to their injuries.

No need to go into detail about the misinformation being disseminated all over the media (well, Fox News, anyway) about Obama's health care plan. Death panels and socialized medicine and killing the elderly to pay for illegal immigrants and all that. Suffice it to say, that is equally bonkers. Not as bonkers as the secret service allowing people to hang on to their assault rifles outside the building where the president is speaking, but bonkers nonetheless. What I can't wrap my head around, however, is why. I understand some people are against universal health care, presumably because it would help poorer people live longer and that would be a tragedy. But what amazes me is the vitriol from some of those poorer people, the very people who absolutely need this program to succeed.

Like the one guy who showed up at a town hall in order to shout down the Democratic speaker who was trying to explain health care, then got into a fight outside and was taken to hospital. He's now online, trying to drum up donations from people to help pay his medical bills. Seriously. But even that doesn't perplex me that much. There are enough Glenn Becks and Dick Morrises and losers like them who can drum up rabid, mouth-frothing public support for even the most wrong-headed and idiotic "cause". It's the disinformation that I don't get. Why lie? Why make up death panels and all this other bs? If you're against the program, why not just say so, explain why, and say it will cost too much or whatever. Why invent the Obama's-gonna-kill-grandma thing?

I guess you could chalk the whole thing up to American politics - it's a bloodsport and all that. And lying about everything is the best way to make sure nothing ever gets done. But are the insurance companies really so powerful that they can get ordinary Americans to shout down elected leaders at town hall meetings over something they don't understand at all? Well, no - but they are so powerful that they can get unstable, already-on-the-edge racist gun toting Americans to do so. If the insurance companies have that much power, then it obviously is time to overhaul that system thoroughly. And fast.

One more thing - the thing that bugs me the most. Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck and all that pointing to Canada and the UK as examples of why "socialized" medicine doesn't work, and why it's awful. There was an ad featuring two women from the UK running for a while, where they complained about their health care system. Now both are totally miffed that their comments were taken out of context and put into an ad. You see, they really like their health care system. But us? Canada? I know, a lot of people are upset with the state of our health care system. And yes, Canada's system is broken, it is in need of a massive overhaul, and it could use improvement just about everywhere.

But if any of you out there think the American system is better, and you agree with the idea that Canada is a good example of why the U.S. should not adopt universal health care, think about this. Imagine, just for a moment, that rabid, nutty right-wingers ran away with the health care debate in our country. And imagine that, in the next federal election, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives ran on a platform of eliminating universal health care and privatizing the whole industry. Picture the results of that election and ask yourself if they would win even one seat.

A small vacation

I went to Montreal with my wife on the weekend, to get away for a couple of days. Which was nice, but she wanted to go see a bunch of stuff. So I had to do things. That was OK too. Technically, I suppose, we were in Longueuil, which is a really nice area and has a fantastic atmosphere along St. Charles where all the restaurants are. I was too tired to keep my eyes open Friday night, but managed to keep my mouth open to pour beer into it, and that was good enough.

On Saturday we went to Parc Safari, which is about 40 minutes outside Montreal on the 132. It's a "safari" park, where you drive your car through the place and feed gnus and emus and ostriches and such. From your windows. Which sounded kinda cool, but it really wasn't. The traffic was nuts. The sign outside said the "tour" would last 70 minutes. 70 minutes in, we were still in the same traffic jam we were in when we started. Looking at a rhino and some elephants from behind fences. There were some zebras roaming around, but we were told not to feed them because they bite. We did anyway. We were bored. They didn't bite.

Eventually, things thinned out and we moved along really fast toward the end, hoping to just get the hell out of there. Being able to see zebras and elephants is neat, but when you're in a 90-minute traffic jam, you are probably bored with looking at the animals, who just stand there, pretty fast. More than anything though, I felt sad. Sad for these animals whose sole purpose is to stand there and interact with people as they drive through. Like Wal-Mart greeters with antlers. And the whole thing really is a big drive-through. You drive through, and instead of getting your feed at the window, you give out your food to the animals from the window. It's like a giant, slightly exotic, reverse McDonalds. And equating such incredible animals with McDonalds made me kind of depressed. I'd like to see them in the wild. Like on a real safari. And not through the window of my own car as they stagger up to the windows for some generic every-animal-can-eat-it food.

There was also a walking tour, which was slightly better. But it's still animals in cages, and I still felt bad for the chimps who had to sit in their pen and had the big wire fences preventing them from climbing the trees, or for the tigers who just lay there because there was nothing else to do. It's not like these animals are being rehabbed, and set free in the wild. They're there for the rest of their lives. Walking over glass tubes for glassy-eyed tourists like me. I felt creepy just being there.

Then we went to the Biodome - which is totally different, and totally great. It's set up like a rainforest, where the birds and monkeys and sloths live all together in one great big habitat, free to go wherever they like and flying around in the giant dome. Then there are the huge fish tanks and penguins and puffins and so forth. I would never go back to Parc Safari. But I would go to the Biodome again and again. That place is amazing.

Circle these dates

October 5th, November 1st. Those are the dates that Brett Favre plays the Packers. I'm a huge Packers fan, but unlike many of my brethren in Packers Fan World, I remain a Favre apologist. I think if you're Brett Favre, you've earned the right to decide, on your own terms, when and where you will play. And I think that he will put the Vikings over the top. Then again, I also think that Green Bay has the better QB right now. But they don't have Adrian Peterson. So now I want to revise my earlier predictions. Minnesota will finish first in the NFC North, and the Packers will finish second. The Bears now have to play Favre and the Vikings twice, and they will lose both to finish third in the division. Say what you will about wishy-washy olf Brett, but he's still a legend, and does anyone think the Jets will win 9 games again without him? The NFL is better with that man playing in it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Cynical Cinema reviews

All new releases

Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser: An absolutely awful Canadian "mockumentary" about a guy who competes in Rock Paper Scissors competitions. It is not funny at all. I can't describe how bad it is.

Albert Schweitzer: Called to Africa: A truly bizarre docudrama biopic documentary re-enactment made for TV cheesy pile of rubble. Weird. It makes sense, but it's way too cheesy and silly to tell the story of such a great man.

Absurdistan: A fantastic, charming, wonderful film. Rent this one.

Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet: The hit-and-miss documentary about a fascinating man, Gendun Choephel, who was a Buddhist monk that took on the government and religious culture in Tibet before going off to drink beer and have promiscuous sex. The most interesting man in the world?

Lying: With a cast of five of the hottest women out there (Chloe Sevigny, Leelee Sobieski et al), this should at least be slightly, moderately, titillating eye candy. But it isn't. It's just crushingly boring.

Fish Fall in Love: A pretty solid Iranian movie about two people in love who never say the right thing to each other. It's full of delicious looking Iranian food, and a lot of cooking. Makes me hungry.

Wolfhound: A totally ludicrous movie from Russia about swords and flexing and yelling one's own name. If it was made with a tongue in a cheek, it's acceptable, maybe even good. If it wasn't, it's absolutely dreadful. If you can giggle at crap, you can enjoy this movie.