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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in elhombredejota's LiveJournal:

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Monday, December 19th, 2016
3:29 am
I'm too tired to be productive, but not tired enough to fall asleep, so here's a listing of all the X-Men films in chronological story order (the word "X-Men" is omitted from most of the titles so that you can actually read the list):

1) First Class: 1962 (prologue is 1944)
2) Origins Wolverine: 1970s-1981 (prologue spans from 1845-1970s)
3) X-Men: circa 2000 (prologue is 1944 again)
4) X2: circa 2003
5) Last Stand: circa 2006 (prologue is early 1980s)
6) The Wolverine: circa 2013
(prologue is 1945; stinger is circa 2015)
7) Days of Future Past: 2023/1973 (events of this film alter or delete the italicized portions above; stinger is Ancient Egypt)
8) Apocalypse: 1983 (prologue is Ancient Egypt)
9) Supernova: 1990s (movie is currently in development)
9) Deadpool: 2015-2016
10) Deadpool 2: exact time frame unconfirmed (movie to be released in 2017 or 2018)
11) Logan: 2029 (movie to be released in 2017)
[Placement unconfirmed: Legion (a TV series)]
[Placement (& existence) unconfirmed: Gambit, New Mutants, X-Force]

Now to rank them by quality (so the stuff that's not out yet can't be listed yet):

1) Deadpool
2) Days of Future Past
3) X2
4) First Class
5) X-Men
6) The Wolverine
7) Apocalypse
8) Last Stand
9) watching your little cousin hold pencils between his fingers & slash at the air
10) Origins

You're welcome.

Current Mood: restless
Saturday, November 5th, 2016
3:47 pm
Wacky Tobacky 2016

America is trying to quit smoking.

There's a lot of ways to try to quit, some more effective than others. But unfortunately, for assorted reasons, America doesn't have a lot of time left to weigh the options; a decision must be made by Tuesday.

What's more, the two most-proven-effective methods, quitting cold turkey & using the nicotine patch, are unfortunately no longer available to choose from, no matter how much America might want them now. There are other alternative forms of treatment in development, but without campaign fundingresearch funding, ballot accessFDA approval, or instant-runoff votinghealthcare reform, America isn't even allowed to consider them, sadly.

Instead, the only options America has left are one last cigarette to try to trick itself into saying goodbye, or chain-smoking a whole carton at once to burn out on the flavor. Neither of these are healthy choices at all, & neither is likely to work, but once is clearly much less destructive & deadly than the other.

Research has proven conclusively that the "one last cigarette" is almost never really the last one. America might be able to hold off for a while afterwards, but more often than not, there will be a relapse, & the slow horrible fate of tobacco poisoning will continue. That "one last cigarette" itself is inherently bad for you anyway, since it's still a cigarette. At least here, though, there's hope for being able to switch to a better option in 4 years from now, hopefully in time to counteract the negative effects of this "one last cigarette".

On the other hand, smoking a whole carton at once WILL KILL YOU. America WILL DIE if it tries that. There will be no chance at recovery in 4 years. It will be too late. America will be dead.

So, as much as it pains me to say this, as much as I know it's a bad idea, the truth is, there are no good ideas open to America this time. There's no winning move. Best America can do is take a hit & try to stall until next time. America has to light up "one last cigarette" & hope for the best.


(P.S. If "one last cigarette" wins in a landslide on Tuesday, then anyone who said voting for one of the alternatives was a "waste" or a "risk" permanently loses any respect I will ever have for their opinions. It better be close.)

(P.P.S. If anyone is bothered by my openly expressing reluctance at voting for "one last cigarette", cope. You're getting my vote; you don't need me to be happy about it or to pretend to be happy about it.)

Current Mood: discontent
Friday, April 8th, 2016
9:01 pm
A Hypothetical Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Speech
Tonight, right now in fact, the 2016 RRHOF induction ceremony is under way. Many congratulations to Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, NWA, Steve Miller, & the late Bert Berns. But I wanna talk about a rock group that has been repeatedly passed over for this award, largely due to the bias of a single influential person. Here's what I would say if I got to give this band their due by giving their induction speech...

In 1965, aspiring filmmaker Bob Rafelson & his business partner Bert Schneider pitched a sitcom to NBC, premised upon a young rock group living together in a messy beach house & getting into wacky hijinks as they struggled to hit the big-time, with physical humor & a shooting style both inspired by A Hard Day’s Night. As an additional hook to draw viewers, albums would be released of the band’s music from the show, & they would tour. Auditions for the new series drew in thousands of actors & musicians, spirited Ben Frank’s types from all over the world, but in the end, there would be only four.

From across the pond came Broadway sensation, Tony award nominee, & former apprentice jockey David Jones, who was cast in the series automatically as part of his contract with Columbia Pictures.
From the east coast came Stephen Stills, who was rejected but asked to recommend somebody who looked & played like him, but with better hair & teeth, so Stills passed the buck on to his childhood friend, multi-instrumentalist Peter Tork.
From deep in the heart of Texas came twanging troubadour Michael Nesmith, who showed up to his audition with a bag of laundry, as his wife had dropped him off to chain together errands.
And from right there in LA came former child star & local garage-rocker Micky Dolenz, who got a private audition on the merits of his résumé.

So there they came, walking down the street, getting the funniest looks from everyone they met. The show was a hit, winning an Emmy & a second season (& essentially creating the groundwork for MTV). More significantly, the music was a smash sensation, hitting the top of the charts even before the series premiered & garnering two Grammy nominations.

But there was trouble in paradise. Colgems music executive Don Kirshner, who was supplying the project with top-notch pop songwriting from the likes of Carole King, Neil Diamond, & Jeff Barry, also refused to let the boys into the studio for anything other than vocals, instead recording all of the music with session players like the Wrecking Crew or Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart’s Candy Store Prophets. When a frustrated Nesmith spilled the beans to the public, the battle lines were drawn.

Fortunately, the only physical casualty in this war was a patch of hotel drywall. The powers-that-be got that message, though, & decreed that the Prefab Four henceforth be allowed to play on their records, marking the first & only time a manufactured pop group had ever staged a successful coup. That local rock group tried hard to learn their songs, & the first album after earning their newfound freedom, Headquarters, reached #1 despite not even having any singles released from it, based in part on Tork’s closing theme for the show, “For Pete’s Sake”, & Dolenz’s psychedelic masterpiece, “Randy Scouse Git”.

In 1967, at the peak of their fame, they outsold the Beatles & Rolling Stones combined. On their fourth album, they became the first popular group to do a Harry Nilsson song & the first to use the Moog synthesizer. Their ’67 tour set the standard for the multimedia extravaganza of lights & projections now expected of a rock concert, especially with the short-lived added spectacle of their original opening act, The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Alongside Gram Parsons, Papa Nez’s compositions, both with the boys & on his own, co-created the country-rock fusion later popularized by Poco & the Eagles.

In the years since, they’ve broken up & reunited in various permutations time & time again, always to elated & huge cheering crowds. When frontman Davy Jones tragically & suddenly passed on in 2012, the three surviving members went on tour with a show featuring not just one but three heartfelt tributes to the Manchester Cowboy.

Their influence spread to later groups like the Sex Pistols, Run-DMC, REM, They Might Be Giants, & many more. Kurt Cobain called himself a fan, & I know I’m a Daydream Believer! They rocked out with Cory & Topanga, they saved the Brady Bunch’s house, they are in Frank Zappa’s words “pretty white,” & they are in Zappa’s cow’s words “the craziest peoples.” Are you ready to listen to the band? Because, hey hey, it is my great honor, undeserved privilege, absolute pleasure, & utter relief to FINALLY induct The Monkees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Current Mood: Tired
Monday, January 19th, 2015
2:43 pm
Thoughts on RDMLKJ Day
I'd like to explain something to my fellow majority-ans:

Having "white privilege" (or "male privilege" or "Christian privilege", et cet) doesn't mean that YOU are racist (or sexist, et cet). It means that other people are racist (et cet) & that it affects how they treat you. By that same token, it is not a mark of shame to acknowledge that "privilege" exists; indeed, it's GOOD that you are able to recognize other people's racist tendencies. Stop being afraid of it, just work to fix it!
(Though I should mention that if it took a white guy's explanation for you to finally understand that, then maaaaaaybe you might be a weelittlebitracist. :-P )

Now that that's been handled, I'd like to point out something to my fellow fighters for equality:

When people learn the word "privilege" as children, they learn it as meaning "something extra that is either given as a gift or earned" or "something beyond what should be expected". Most of the circumstances "white/etc. privilege" gets applied to, however, appear to be ideas of basic human decency. The majority isn't being given something extra; rather, minorities are are being denied basic rights, and THAT concept is much more infuriating, much more effective at inciting people to join the cause. So don't just throw around terms like "white privilege" & then get indignant when people don't instantly know what you mean. After all, not a lot of people read this blog, so they probably haven't seen my above explanation.

And to wrap up, to everyone involved on any side of the recent flare-ups of long-standing issues:

If you refuse to acknowledge that there are corrupt cops out there who need to be stopped, that sometimes innocent black people are falsely targeted, & that sometimes police response is disporportionately violent, then you're either delusional, corrupt, or racist yourself.
And if you refuse to acknowledge that there are non-corrupt cops out there who genuinely want to help people & that sometimes the black people targeted by police are actually guilty of a violent offense, then you're either delusional or just wanna get away with crime yourself.

(No strawmen here; each of the above points is directed at real arguments I have heard multiple actual human beings make.)

Current Mood: frustrated
Saturday, April 5th, 2014
9:52 pm
"So Me & Mine Gotta Lay Down & Die, So You Can Live in Your Better World?"
I think of that quote every time I see in the news that somebody has lost his/her/its living because of political/lifestyle leanings that have nothing to do with their competency.

They aren't campaign workers who let slip they're voting against their candidates, or congressional aides actively opposing the very legislation they're helping craft, or PETA leaders being kept alive by animal by-products; then it would make sense for them to get fired.
They're programmers who contributed to Prop 8 years ago & could very well have learned their lesson by now, or currently-celibate college students who happen to not be straight, or interplanetary shipping crews who would just prefer that you not shoot them unless they tried to shoot somebody first.

As my examples suggest, these attempts at ideological genocide come from multiple directions; every political group is doing it to somebody, oftentimes by using a lynch mob to demand that the person(s) in question be fired even if their superiors are reluctant to do so. These mobs seem to want everyone who disagrees with them to be turned out into the streets, left desperate & destitute.

The ends do not justify the means. If you think your opponents are morally wrong, then DON'T STOOP TO THEIR LEVEL. Be BETTER than them, not just in your convictions, but in your actions, in your methods, in how you win, because how you win is every bit as important as whether you win.

That is why I refuse to identify with [insert your group here]. I agree with [some/most/all/a little bit] of what you guys say, but I do not want to be associated with the douchebags waving your name like a banner who want to erase all dissenting thought off of the earth by threat of starvation.

They are the Party, & I don't want to be invited.

Current Mood: disappointed
Sunday, February 9th, 2014
3:40 am
Thoughts from a Christian Evolutionist.

"[T]his theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favour of this theory. [...] If the human body has its origin in living material which pre-exists it, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God."
~Blessed John Paul the Great (aka Pope John Paul II, aka Karol Wojtyla), 1996, on why he accepted the Theory of Evolution as an origin for biological life and how it does not contradict the existence of God

I didn't watch the Nye-Ham debate.
I didn't watch because I knew what was going to happen: Ham was going to say "the Bible says 6000 years, & nothing you can say will change my mind", & Nye was going to say "unless you can present physical evidence for creation other than the Bible, you don't really have an argument." Which they did, more or less. (I'm pleased to hear that both parties were civil, though; I was worried that Ham would get too brimstony or that Nye would get fed up.)
I didn't watch because I didn't have a horse in this race. While Bill Nye was supporting the side I agree with & is generally respectful of religion, his side of the debate was coming from a perspective of agnosticism. And while Ken Ham believes in the same God I do, his side of the debate was supporting literal Creationism. Also, I didn't want to be blindly cheering for the Science Guy out of nostalgia.

I also stopped clicking Buzzfeed links a while ago, because that site is an abomination. Unfortunately, that meant I could not read the list of Creationist Questions for Evolutionists that everyone was abuzz about. Luckily, somebody moved it over to Imgur with their own hilarious translations of the questions. I highly recommend checking that out; the translations are really spot-on. Right here, however, I'm going to actually answer the questions as best I can, having not seen the debate which inspired the question-writers.

1) "Bill Nye, are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?"

....Yes. Yes, he is. And has for decades.

2) "Are you scared of a Divine Creator?"

I am not. I'm quite a fan of His, in fact. I just think he set things up differently than you think he did.

3) "Is it completely illogical that the earth was created mature? i.e. Trees created with rings...Adam created as an adult..."

Even in the literal Creationist model, trees could have still grown from the dirt (just very quickly) & still have "natural" rings instead of the fraudulent ones you describe, so that part is completely illogical. Adam being created as an adult isn't completely illogical, but it's close; believing we're all descendants of the same 2 people (thrice over: Adam & Eve, Cain & his wife, Noah & his wife) falls apart when you realize how few generations it takes for inbred families to become infertile.

4) "Does not the second law of thermodynamics disprove evolution?"

That's correct; it does not. (Don't phrase questions that way; it makes you look like an elitist snob.)
Entropy is only guaranteed in a closed system; Earth's biosphere is not closed. Also, as that same link goes on to further explain, turning a tree into a house also fights entropy. However, eventually that house will collapse....

5) "How do you explain a sunset if there is no God?"

...I feel like you've left some important context out of this question, so I'm gonna start off taking it at face value: The Earth rotates on an axis that does not point directly towards the sun, so each part of Earth's surface at some point rotates away from the sun, causing it to "set" from our viewpoint.

Now, I'm going to presume that you're actually trying to say something about the colors of a sunset & elaborate accordingly: Yellow-white sunlight gets bent & separated as it enters our atmosphere, just as light bends & separates through a prism. Throughout most of the day, we're getting relatively direct sunlight, most of which is able to reach the surface without too much trouble, but blue gets diffused moreso than the others, causing the tint of our sky. At sunset (& sunrise!), though, sunlight is coming in at an extreme angle, so we're seeing a greater cross-section of colors.

Now, I'm going to presume that you mean "sunset is pretty, so it must have been created instantly", because otherwise your question is entirely irrelevant: Stuff can be accidentally pretty. Cloud patterns, icicles, broken glass, et cet.

However, don't forget that, unlike Bill Nye, I believe in God, so let me give you a faith-based answer: Dominoes. Dominoes are set up very carefully & meticulously over a very long period of time so that they fall in exactly the way the designer intended at exactly the TIME the designer intended. God could very well have sparked a Big-Bang-fueled universe knowing full well that in X number of years once he had us nice & comfy on Earth, our sun would give us a free fireworks show twice daily. :-)

6) "If the Big Bang Theory is true & taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk said theories?"

See #4. Also, nice job being too much of a coward to appear on camera like everyone else.

7) "What about noetics?"

What ABOUT noetics? It's a branch of philosophy; it doesn't have anything to do with either side of this debate.

8) "Where do you derive objective meaning in life?"

From my faith, from logic, & from observable evidence. All three are objective to me.
My question to you: How does objectivism oppose Evolutionism? If evolution is true, then it's objectively true.

9) "If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?"

In atheistic evolution, yes. (The conditions which led to the first living cell were very long odds.) In theistic evolution, no. (God creates the conditions for the first single-celled organisms & then lets them evolve from there.)

10) "I believe in the Big Bang Theory...God said it & BANG it happened!"

That's honestly my view of how the Big Bang occurred. And it doesn't contradict evolution at all.
Next time, sweetie, try to phrase your response in a less derpy way.

11) "Why do evolutionists/secularists/humanists/non-God believing people reject the idea of their [sic] being a creator God but embrace the concept of intelligent design from aliens or other extra-terrestrial sources?"

They don't. "Intelligent design" is just Creationism without mentioning God. Also, learn to spell.

12) "There is no inbetween...the only one found has been Lucy & there are a few pieces of the hundreds necessary for an 'official proof'."

A. Saying "there is no [thing]" & then mentioning the name of a famous [thing] known to exist is a self-contradiction.
B. Lucy isn't the only one; she's just the most complete one found.
C. You don't know what "official proof" means.

13) "Does metamorphosis help support evolution?"

That's actually a good question, thank you. Metamorphosis within a single species does not help support evolution, but observing similar processes of metamorphosis between many different species does help support it. The inherent strangeness of metamorphosis, coupled with the close similarity in different species' processes of metamorphosis, strongly suggests a common ancestor for all such species.

14) "If Evolution is a theory (like creationism or the Bible) why then is Evolution taught as fact."

What we commonly refer to as a "theory", an initial guess with minimal support, is actually just a hypothesis. A real theory is formed through testing and/or sound logic strengthening an oft-revised hypothesis to the point that we are confident that it is a fact.
The Bible, by the way, is neither a hypothesis nor a theory. It is a book. I could go to my bookshelf & pick one up right now. It observably exists without testing or logic.

15) "Because science by definition is a 'theory'--not testable, observable, nor repeatable, Why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught in school?"

See #11 above for the definition of "intelligent design."
See #14 above for why your definition of "theory" is wrong.
See pretty much any definition of "science", including those from most conservative religious groups, for why your definition of "science" is wrong. Seriously, you pretty much just defined the OPPOSITE of science.
Evolutionists (except for militant anti-theists) don't object to creationism being taught in school at all, just to it being taught in science class because it's NOT SCIENCE. We're fine with it being taught in religion class, or philosophy class, or social studies class.

16) "What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?"

Again, didn't watch the debate, & it's very late to be doing this research, but off the top of my head, I'd say that's more or less what mutation IS. And we've observed genetic mutations in the past, so yeah.

17) "What purpose do you think you are here for if you do not believe in salvation?"

I can't speak for Bill Nye, but I do believe in salvation. But salvation is not my purpose; salvation is my reward. You're putting the cart before the horse.

18) "Why have we found only 1 'Lucy', when we have found more than 1 of everything else?"

Ha, that's funny that you think we've found more than 1 of everything else. As for Lucy, see #12.

19) "Can you believe in 'the big bang' without 'faith'?"

Yes. (Astronomers determined an ancient supermassive cosmic explosion by finding an electromagnetic "fingerprint" of sorts which is comparable to those of observed explosions on Earth. The theory is evidence- & logic-based, not purely conjectural.) You can also believe in it WITH faith. Furthermore, you can also believe in not misusing scare quotes.

20) "How can you look at the world and not believe someone created/thought of it? It's Amazing!!!"

Again, can't speak for those people, 'cause I'm not one of them. Stop false-dichotomizing.

21) "Relating to the big bang theory....Where did the exploding star come from?"

It wasn't a star. Stars didn't exist yet. (Creationism & Evolutionism agree that light came into existence before stars did.) It was all the mass in the universe suddenly expanding forth from an ultra-tiny space.
Now, if you want to ask where that came from, I'm gonna say "God." Because this wasn't a debate over the existence of God; it was a debate over evolution vs creation. Totally different matter.

22) "If we come from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?"

You've asked this question before, I can tell. Probably ignored the answer every time. You'll probably ignore my answer, but I'll give it anyway:
We didn't come from monkeys; we came from an early primate that no longer exists now. Monkeys ALSO came from an early primate. Monkeys aren't our parents; they're just our older siblings.

Besides that, evolutionary traits are determined by who is best fit to survive what's happening around them. Circumstances which would benefit a smaller, nimbler, arboreal body with a prehensile tail exist in some parts of the world, while circumstances which would benefit a larger, ground-walking body with superior learning skills exist in other parts of the world.

Your question is like saying "If Spanish came from Italian, why is there still Italian?" Spanish didn't come from Italian; they both came from Latin adapting to different locations.

Comments must be civil, lest I berate you publicly and/or delete your comment.

Current Mood: embarrassed
Friday, February 7th, 2014
12:53 am
Live-Livejournaling: Head
I have just now pressed play on my favorite movie of all time, Head (1968, Columbia Pictures, dir: Bob Rafelson, writ: Bob Rafelson, Jack Nicholson, The Monkees, prod: Bert Schneider). I'm gonna be typing in my reactions as we go along. (I don't do Twitter, & flooding Facebook with dozens of posts in a short time just seems like a bad idea.)
[Note: Head's MPAA rating is a confusing story. It was originally R, then in the 80s got re-rated down to G somehow. TV airings typically give it the PG that it actually deserves.]

Prologue: I taped Head off of AMC back in the days when AMC didn't have commercials; it was being shown in a rock-movie marathon hosted by Roger Daltrey. Daltrey's introduction spoils some of the cameos, but does sufficiently warn the viewer that the feature is plotless.

We start off with a bridge-opening ceremony. The mayor is inspecting a row of National Guardsmen, all but one of whom are black. The lone white guy screws up his salute. It's funny, but I feel like there's commentary here that I'm not getting.

Dear Mayor: When you're the only one getting feedback on the mic, it's not the sound guy's fault, dude. It's you. Signed: Comedy foghorn.


Cue "Porpoise Song", the film's lush, psychedelic official theme. Carole King wrote this, & the quality shows. The lyrics are actually kind of about the Monkees, Micky in particular (with references to his child-star past). The mermaids rescuing Micky right now aren't exactly porpoises....thank goodness. ;-)

The peanut butter crackers I'm eating are also lush & quality, but not about the Monkees.

The mermaid resuscitating Micky underwater morphs into a hot chick giving the guys a kissing contest in their house. Micky gets a splash/10, Mike a tinkle/10, Peter a squeak/10, & Davy gets an orchestral swell & doves. She declares it even. She lies.

Mike just propositioned her. She laughed in his face. I joined in.

The unofficial theme "Ditty Diego" is a parody of the Monkee's TV theme song, giving tiny previews of the whole film, ending on that one Vietnam execution film. Good times. I like how the cut in a girl screaming, but then revealed she was actually screaming for a Monkees concert. Commentary on teenage girls screaming.

A war scene begins, looking like WWII. If Micky Dolenz didn't inspire Robin Williams, Robin's lying.
Peter Tork, the most outspoken pacifist, gets turned into a war-hero photo on the cover of Life magazine. No wonder Life went out of print.

The guy Peter goes to for ammo is a middle-aged bald guy in a football uniform. Possibly taunting the US as treating war like a game. Possibly setting the stage for BD from "Doonesbury" to go to war in his football helmet a couple years later.

The war scene transitions smoothly into the concert scene. Making your way through the throng of teenyboppers feels like combat.

"Circle Sky", Papa Nez's only contribution to the soundtrack. Also the greatest Monkees performance, period (they're playing this one live on camera). Nez usually had at least 2 songs on each album, but there are only 7 songs in the film altogether. I love the reversal effects on this footage; it turns the writing on Micky's bass drum from "DRUM" to "MURD". Redrum.

Uh-oh, the girls rushed the stage & are tearing the band apart like they're mannequins.

Somebody starts channel-surfing from the concert through random news clips, older movies, & then-current commercials. The world's largest Ford dealer apparently doesn't have anybody test-view his commercials. One last channel flip to Micky in the desert.

Micky's narration/dialogue interaction is hilarious. The Coke machine in the desert is real, but it's empty & ate his nickel. And there's no desk clerk to ask for a refund.
EVEN THE WIND STOPS when Micky wins the shouting match with his internal monologue.
A sheik shows up, but does not morph into Princess Zelda.

You know those stories about Japanese WWII soldiers who stayed in the jungle for decades because they never got the surrender order? In the movie, an Italian tank commander is overjoyed to have found an American to surrender to so he & his comrades can finally go home. He literally hands Micky his gun so that he can act like he's surrendering in self-defense.

Micky takes the tank & gets his vengeance on the Coke machine. His smile is the smile of absolute satisfaction.

His smile of absolute satisfaction carries over into a harem-dancing scene.
Peter wrote "Can You Dig It?", so it's probably about drugs.
One of the harem girls looks WAY more authentic than the others. She's also dressed differently.
Haha, Micky just offered the audience a hit off his bong hookah. ;)

Ladies & gentlemen, it's Teri Garr in her film debut as an actress in a cheesy Cowboys-&-Indians movie with Mike & Micky. Mike is Davy Crockett, Chuck Norris of the wild west. They're both sick of this crap & bail.

Davy Jones does not play the violin.
Somehow a loose dog on set didn't start barking until after the boys broke character.

We meet a crazy dude who wants to make more Monkees merchandise. His cape is awesome.
As Micky, Mike, & Davy head for the studio commissary, Gondor lights the beacons to warn all the kid-hating actors inside.
The waitress is a transvestite. Nobody seems to notice.
(I totes ripped off Davy's food order in Total Nonsense, tee-hee.)
The view of the ice cream running down Peter's hand is tragically beautiful.

Davy gets slapped by the waitress/punched in the face by Sonny Liston.

Annette Funicello seems to enjoy a bit of self-parody now & again.
"What am I gonna do, play violin in two-bit clubs all my life?" is the most incongruous line in this whole movie. I love how they're merging like 3 different film parodies here.
Title drop: "You won't hurt my face, will ya? Million-dollar head, this." (emphasis mine) Liston proceeds to punch Davy exclusively in the head.
Micky gets another great freakout.

Blink-&-you'll-miss-it: The back of Peter's costume says "Davy Jones". Though it seems like he appears from nowhere, he's actually Davy's boxing coach for this sequence.

Nicholson cameo! (As himself) Peter Fonda cameo! Rafelson cameo! (All the names they're saying during this bit are the actual crew of Head also.)
Everybody shuns Peter for punching a woman, even though that woman was a man impersonating a woman & the whole thing was scripted. People think actors are their characters.

"As We Go Along" is another Carole King tune & one of the prettiest songs the Monkees ever did. Micky said in interview years later that it was a bugger for him to learn because it was in a weird time signature, but I learn songs by listening to them, so it was a cinch for me. Too bad I don't have Micky's pipes.
This wonderfully serene moment--the only instance of genuine peace in the film--gets devoured at the end by billboards & factories.

The butcher behind the tape machine isn't there anymore once we see the other side of the tape machine.
I think the worker is supposed to be drinking blood, but it looks more like tomato juice.

First Black Box trap.

Heh, the dandruff commercial.
Fun fact: The Monkees recorded a couple albums at "RCA Victor" studios, & the dandruff commercial takes place atop Victor Mature's head. Of course, they get the boys off his head with a vacuum.

Cigarette jokes that are secretly pot jokes. Except the last one, which is actually a cigarette joke.

Davy escapes the vacuum so he can do "Daddy's Song", one of the visually-coolest musical sequences in any movie. He had to dance the same routine twice, matching all of his marks after a costume & set change.
Toni Basil choreographed this & dances with Davy. You know her name because she did the song "Mickey", which is probably about Micky Dolenz.
Ooh, Davy's sung-on-camera verse is a distinct change-up from the album version.
This is the 2nd Harry Nilsson tune the Monkees did; Davy sang the first also ("Cuddly Toy"). Something about his sincere innocent vocals with Nilsson's dark lyrics & an upbeat arrangement....
Frank Zappa approves of Davy's dancing & of walking a talking cow with a loud bell around a film studio backlot.

Second Black Box trap & the needlessly-douchiest cop ever.
He calls Micky "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" despite being the least hairy of the 3 Monkees in the scene.
The boys are saved by the National Guardsmen from the beginning of the film. Goofy White Guy is absent this time.
Davy seems needlessly obsessed with Mike saying a common phrase.
Do real film studio bathrooms have stocked medicine cabinets?
Peter's whistling "Strawberry Fields Forever." They don't credit it. S'all good, the Beatles & Monkees were tiz-ight.

Victor Mature finds Davy being trapped in a hallway of death amusing.

Micky says he sees a "Lancashire midget greenie". In later interviews, the band would insist the line was "Manchester midget greenie." Fortunately, at the time Manchester was IN Lancashire, so it's still correct.
Love how the natives are just waiting at the bottom of the giant gravel hill to capture Micky.

A half-hour was cut from the movie & lost before it was released. I think some of that had to do with the cop; he seems far more familiar with the band in his 2nd appearance. He's got some sweet stripper dance moves, too.
Davy dropped & broke the bottle of hair tonic from the medicine cabinet before. It's no longer there when the cop checks the cabinet. Continuity win!
Love how the cop is more starstruck over seeing Victor Mature than he is concerned about being warped to the hallway of death.

"The Cop's Dream" never actually ends. :-/ Either it's just the 2 second tie-dye shot, or it's the rest of the movie.

Peter misinterprets a common turn of phrase, "It's nothing."
Blink-&-you'll-miss-it: Peter's telegram just says "STOP" & is addressed to "A Monkee". There is no message. Somehow this incited him to enough panic to traipse off into the hallway of death.
Negative exposure of fire is freaking awesome. Mike's robe, meanwhile, actually looks kinda normal, albeit yellow instead of blue.

Gothic "Happy Birthday To You". This is cooler than it sounds.
"Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?" is another Peter song, a raw & cool rocker.
The female guests at Mike's surprise party are the harem dancers from earlier.
The silhouettes of Micky & a girl dancing don't look at all like something kids should see.
This scene was used for the Head clip in that lame TV bio-flick "Daydream Believers".

Mike's rant doesn't make a lick of sense, not even internally (they didn't kidnap him to the party; he came on his own), but it's funny.
A teenybopper is overjoyed that Mike maligned Christmas parties.
The crazy dude from before, Lord High n' Low, is choking on his own tongue. For some reason, the boys find this hilarious.
Old people in the 60s thought that laughing at people was a violation of civil rights?
"They might even jeopardize the fish...not halibut." Why do I laugh so hard at that every time?

The transition to the jail cell is the most jarring in the film, the only standard-issue fade-through-black. I like to call that the end of "The Cop's Dream", just to justify the movie's only loss of flow there.
Love love LOVE the Swami's perceptual-belief monologue. I know it by heart.
Sonny Liston didn't have any lines with Davy, possibly so they wouldn't have to pay him for speaking....but then he speaks to the Swami & Peter.

It's -3 degrees outside right now. My life is awesome.

"Where's Davy?" could be the most pointless recurring motif in this movie.
It must suck to be the suicidal girl watching the guy who saved you collect on his bet that you would jump.

Third Black Box trap. Peter is PISSED.
In every group of 4, there are 6 pairs. In the Monkees, there were 6 fights. I'm pretty sure 4 of them happen in this scene alone.
Peter's candle starts to become a lava lamp as he mangles the Swami's speech.

Action Hero Davy Jones comes with everything you see here. Tor Johnson not included.
I'm pretty sure the 3 women beating up 1 man in Operation Condor were inspired by Micky, Peter, & Mike simultaneously punching out 1 dude here.
Haha, the western backdrop is taped up where Micky burst through it before. Continuity win!
Cartoon physics alert: Davy's cannon.
Victor Mature really IS a giant; that Dandruff scene wasn't a forced perspective.

Fourth Black Box trap.

Back in the desert, the boys are faced with all of their adversaries thus far: The Italian army, the Indian tribe, the factory workers, Victor Mature, some sheikhs,...& the Coke machine. Everyone charges. Everyone misses. The Italian tank takes out the Coke machine again, pissing off the sheikhs.
More Davy favoritism as the boys land back at the lot.
More cow.
More channel-surfing, including Micky talking about astrophysics, which he's actually studied.

This time Peter gets to be the action hero, silent-film style, with Davy as his damsel in distress. I like the dune buggy.

Well, well, well, it seems Victor was the channel surfer all along!

...And we've come full circle. Micky breaks the tape at the bridge ceremony, pursued by a bear cast full of people trying to kill him & the other Monkees. We see all 4 Monkees jump this time. The Italian soldier they focus on has a Luigi mustache. Reprise the theme song & roll the credits.

The river turns out to lead into a tiny water tank on a truck, in which Victor takes the Monkees away.

Other than this pretty cool end-credits music, the score (outside of the main songs, of course) was rather understated. I like that. Kudos to Ken Thorne.
Funicello's character was called "Teresa" earlier, but she's credited at the end as "Minnie". Liston is "Extra", reinforcing my thought that he wasn't originally supposed to speak at all.
Heh, Mature was "The Big Victor". 'Cause he was a giant.

There's one screen of backwards credits. One of the words is NOT spelled backwards. Which one that is is left as an exercise for the reader:
SNRUB EKIM...................Gnihton
DRAPEHS REHTSE........Rehtom
NAMFFOH NHOJ............Dneifxes Eht
REVAEW ADNIL.............Yraterces Revol
YELNAH MIJ...................Frodis

And the film burns up. Excellent. Repeat giggle.

Current Mood: relaxed
Sunday, December 1st, 2013
3:38 am
Long Overdue Thanks
Happy December, everypeoples! Rabbit rabbit!

So, the Total Nonsense Kickstarter was a success.
And so was the play, kinda. Our only review wasn't negative (it wasn't really positive either; it just sort of...acknowledged us). We got something like 90% satisfaction from our audience. It's just that...there wasn't a whole lot of audience. True, it stormed on Sunday night, which was probably going to be our big crowd. And between ticket sales & Kickstarter, we recouped all but about $200 of the budget, which isn't bad for this kind of a project. Definitely learned a lot, too.

More to the point, I need to thank people. (Makes sense over this Thanksgiving weekend, yes?) People, get ready to be thanked:

Ben Mankus - You stepped into Nat's shoes when I know you were nervous as hell. But you put in the work & did the part right, giving Total Nonsense the stoic narrator it deserved.

Nick Ebeling - You stepped up in a time of crisis & did the jobs of not one, not two, but FOUR people when Darrell vanished on us. Your ability to keep Who, Someone, & Wile distinct saved what could've been a disastrous situation.

Malia Chiyo - You brought in knowledge, experience, & talent that enhanced every aspect of everyone else's performance. You made When's abrasiveness look so natural that I honestly thought you were pissed at me a few times. If & when we ever work together again, I promise it will be in a bigger part. (We need to meet up so I can give you your DVD!)

Clare Mancarella - I forced you to sing when I know you didn't originally want to, but thank you so much for doing it. Your voice & mannerisms gave Why more depth than I had even hoped.

Dero Myers - Thank you for leaving your comfort zone & trying something new by jumping onstage with us. It took a while, but you found the tricky cadences of Yours & Somebody Else. Your quick thinking helped re-rail the Sunday performance after my snafu. (I have your DVD; I'll get it to you soon!)

Dante Johnson - Thank you for lending Where your lovely singing voice. And kudos for learning the coda to "Bohemian Rhapsody" in a matter of minutes!

Nick Monti - I'll confess, I was worried you wouldn't take me seriously as an authority figure. Thank you for proving me wrong, & for bringing all the cheekiness What needed.

Chris Aiken - Thank you for offering your time & perspective during rehearsals to be my eyes in the "audience" while I was onstage. Even moreso, thank you for being willing to be our last-second stage manager when tech week hit. You made our rehearsals effective, & you made our tech cues possible.

Zach Paule - I'm so sorry you weren't able to be in the show with us; Fred's presence was sorely missed. But thanks to you, we had one of the best posters in the whole freaking festival & some of the best gags in the script! Thanks for sticking with me all these years, buddy, & congrats on your engagement!

Jenny Curtin - One day you will perform again, or else it's the theatre's loss. Without your help building the wall, we would not have been able to finish it in time. And, as always, thank you for being my friend.

Laura Ferry - I'm sorry our schedules couldn't quite mesh on this one; maybe next time? I'm glad you got to consult for us, though; the fresh pair of eyes & your thorough notes did wonders for everybody. We go far too long between chats nowadays, pigeon-duck.

Dawn Gratza - I'm not just blowing smoke up your butt when I praise your photography. The rehearsal stills were objectively great; the conditions under which they were taken just add to my awe of your skills. Also, I apologize for any mental images of smoke being blown up your butt; that's just gross to think about.

Mom & Dad - Even though you both were initially scared of my taking this risk, you also both supported me when I chose to go through with it. Thank you for your contributions, both in resources & in morale.

Anna Frahm - I'm so sorry we couldn't feature our Screamer, but thank you for trying so hard to make in the face of all the Chicagoan chaos that weekend.

Ashlee Scheuerman, Amy Souders, Eric Scott, Luke Turner, Hollyce Hartzler, Shelby Eaton, Arianne Ferare, Elliot Metson, Tony Rieder, Langen Neubacher, Marc McD, Nina Puricelli, & the guys I don't know - Thank you for believing in this madness enough to open your wallets for us. I hope that you feel your faith was rewarded. And Ashlee, I owe you a package. Expect it by New Year's Day. (Amy, I also owe you a package, but I still need your mailing address for that.)

Em Piro - Starting an unjuried performing arts festival is insane. THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU for being crazy enough to do it!!!

Tara Schneider - Thank you for making me aware of the Fringe Fest. So many of the great things that happened to me this year--doing this play, meeting new friends, seeing amazing shows, making new contacts--happened as a direct result of you inviting me to Easelmuse at Fringe 2012.

I've got something cool cooking up for next year; here's to hoping I can get into the festival again! :-D
(By the by, if you missed Total Nonsense, buy a DVD!)

Current Mood: thankful
Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
12:54 am
It's Like a Kick in the Start
Hey, everypeoples!

The Kickstarter campaign for Total Nonsense is now live! You can view it right here: Clicky

I set the goal low ($300 is only about half of the actual budget of the play) to ensure that we'll reach the goal, since we don't have tremendous amounts of time. Once we reach that goal, though, I'll start sweetening the deal with a stretch-goal that will add to the reward packages.
This is really exciting, folks. Literally within MINUTES after going live with the campaign, we got our first backer.

We've suffered a mild setback with cast; Zach had to withdraw because of his work commitments. Fortunately, he still had time to design this awesome poster for the show, & he'll also be making our programs when it gets closer to showtime.
Scheduling is looking to be the biggest hassle from this point forward. Another of our actors just got screwed by his work schedule (but we'll be working to find a way around that), & two of my coworkers in the show are having trouble getting cleared too, despite my direct request to the personnel manager. We'll see how it progresses from here on.

Current Mood: excited
Sunday, April 7th, 2013
12:26 am
HvZ Invitational Postmortem 3
Checklist of goals--

Play both sides significantly: Check.
Stun a zombie: Check. (at least twice)
Make mission-critical action: Check. (located an MRE & helped charge the transporter)
Get to use my Rads 12: Nope. Alas.
Die either awesomely or hilariously: Check. (took a shoulder to the throat)
--Die at the last minute after it seemed like we'd reached safety in keeping with my character as the old man on his last mission before retirement: Check.
Kill a human: Check?
Avoid absurd drama: Check.

A very fun game for my last time out. Thanks, guys!

Current Mood: exhausted
Friday, February 15th, 2013
2:48 pm
Project Update 2013
Okay, for any of you who somehow both (a) read this & (b) care, here's how my creative works are progressing:

--The big news here is that Total Nonsense has been accepted into the 2013 St. Louis Fringe Festival!!! The festival runs over the weekend of June 20-24, & during that time we will have 3 performances (exact times & venue TBD). I say "we" because I am in charge of the production; I'll be directing/producing the show under the Grand High Productions shingle, as well as playing a character (not sure which yet; it depends on how the people who audition do).
--Progress continues on the Darths & Droids cycle; I am caught up to the comic right now, currently about 2/3 of the way through Episode IV (the Obi-Wan/Vader duel). The comic updates 3 times a week; I typically update my script once a week.
--I've been casually looking into recording better demos for Albuquirky; the best plan, of course, would be to record with 4 singers to cover all the vocal ranges in the show, but I've yet to find any friends with both time & interest, & I don't have a lot of money to invest in hiring people just for demos (especially with the Fringe production costs coming up). I've also been thinking about some dialogue revisions & even kicking around the idea of adding another song (but no inspiration has come to me yet in that regard). This is possibly my best script & definitely the easiest sell, so I want to try something with it; I just don't wanna be unprepared when a pitch meeting happens.

--My most recent creation is a cover of Lindsey Stirling's "Transcendence" (clicky). Haven't written much new stuff lately; most of my energy has been put into recording for demos & open-mic backtracks.

--No progress in quite a while here, sad to say.

Current Mood: sleepy
Thursday, February 14th, 2013
2:59 am
Monkee vocal counts.
To hopefully finish out my listmaking compulsion for now, this is a tally of each of the four Monkee’s vocals. For the sake of sanity, I’ve limited myself this time to just “official” releases; no rarities/demos/etc from the compilation albums. Also, because its poor release quality makes distinguishing voices nearly-impossible on some tracks, the Dolenz, Jones, Boyce, & Hart album has been omitted.

Solo Lead Vocals:
Micky – 57 (6, 5, [1], 5, [1], 2, 4, [1], 3, {1}, 4, 4, 8, [1], 5, 6)
Davy – 48 (3, 5, [1], 3, 4, 5, [1], 1, {2}, 5, [1], 4, 4, 5, 4)
Mike – 26 (2, {1}, 1, 3, 5, 3, 1, {1}, 3, {1}, 4, n/a, n/a, 1)
Peter – 9 (0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, {2}, n/a, n/a, n/a, [1], 2, 1)

Shared Lead Vocals:
Micky – 9 (1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, {4}, 0, 0, 0, [2], 0, 0)
Davy – 8 (1, 0, 2, 0, 0, 0, {3}, 0, 0, 0, [2], 0, 0)
Mike – 5 (0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, {4}, 0, 0, n/a, n/a, 0)
Peter – 6 (0, 0, 2, 1, 0, 0, {3}, n/a, n/a, n/a, 0, 0)

Instrumentals – 2 (“Band 6”, {“Solfeggietto”})

(Parenthetical counts list vocals per album)
[Bracketed counts are non-album singles]
{Braced counts are TV-performance-only songs}

Current Mood: compelled
Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
1:44 am
Monkee writing credits.
In a previous post, I detailed all of the Monkees songs written by each of the 4 members of the band. Today, not for lack of better ideas, but rather for lack of time during proper waking hours to develop said ideas, I've compiled a complete count of how many songs were written or co-written by each composer ever to have contributed material to the Monkees.

(This count includes unreleased-until-later-compilations work, including unofficial jams & covers from Headquarters Sessions, & accordingly may be incomplete, because it is very much a possibility that some recordings remain unreleased. Names in quotation marks are incomplete & cannot be located.)

5 or more each:
Michael Nesmith – 37*
Tommy Boyce – 28
Bobby Hart – 27
Micky Dolenz – 23*
Davy Jones – 22
Peter Tork – 14**
Carole King – 13
Gerry Goffin – 12
Bill Chadwick – 8
Jeff Barry – 8
Steve Pitts – 6
Traditional/Anonymous/No credit – 12**

4 each:
Neil Diamond, Diane Hildebrand, Jack Keller, Bobby Bloom, Bill Dorsey

3 each:
Andy Kim, Neil Goldberg, Chip Douglas (aka Douglas Farthing Hatlelid), Michael Martin Murphey, Neil Sedaka, Carole Bayer Sager, Jerry Lieber, Mike Stoller, Harry Nilsson

2 each:
Bill Martin, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Charlie Rockett, Sandy Linzer, Denny Randell, Ned Albright, Steven Soles, Andrew Howell, Toni Stern

Just 1 each:
David Gates, Steve Venet, Russ Titelman, Billy Carr, Ben Raleigh, Roger Atkins, The Tokens (Phil Margo/Mitch Margo/Hank Medress/Jay Siegel)***, Joey Richards, Henry Mancini, Thomas Baker Knight, John London, Kim Capli, Eddie Brick, Craig Vincent Smith, Owen Castleman, Keith Allison, George Fischoff, John Stewart, Nicholas Thorkelson, John Chadwick, Jerry Goldstein, Don DeMieri, Robert Dick, Jo Mapes, Pete Seeger, Coco Dolenz, Jack Nicholson, Bob Rafelson, CPE Bach, Buddy DeSylva, Al Jolson, Joseph Meyer, Red Baldwin, Roger Nichols, Paul Williams, Paul Russell, Ric Klein, Janelle Scott, Matt Willis, Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman, Doug Trevor, Dick Eastman, Simon Byrne, Eric Goulden, Brian Fairweather, Martin Page, Mark Clarke, Ian Hunter, Bill Teeley, Glenn Wyka, Michael Levine, Alan Green, Vance Brescia, Robert Stone, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicus DeMoraes, Norman Gimbel, William Bradbury, Jefferson Hascall, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Chuck Berry, JS Bach, Otis Blackwell, Elvis Presley, “Williams/Martin”, “David”, “Leonard/Boby Weinstein/Jon Stroll”, Various****

* “No Time” is credited to Hank Cicalo, but was actually written by Nesmith & Dolenz. For the sake of this count, it has been counted on Nesmith’s & Dolenz’s tallies; Cicalo is omitted.
** “Peter Percival Patterson’s Pet Pig Porky” is credited to Tork, but is actually public domain. For the sake of this count, it has been classified as “Anonymous”.
*** The Tokens are credited together because “Laugh” is the only Monkees composition from any of them.
**** In the interest of sanity, the various composers of the songs in the 50s Medley from 33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee are omitted, lumped into the "Various" credit. The composers of "Only the Fittest Shall Survive" & "Come on Up" are likewise omitted, because no Monkee performs on either of those two songs. The composer of the end credits orchestration from th Head soundtrack is omitted as well, for the same reason.

Current Mood: hungry
Friday, October 12th, 2012
2:16 am
Live, Lo-Fi, & questionably Legal!
Attention, everypeoples (but especially fans of a cappella music in general & the Truman State University group Sweet Nothings in particular)!

Presenting.... ANOTHER NEW Sweet Nothings record, again comprised of speaker-to-mic YouTube-bootleggy goodness!

Analog Hole 2: A Capella Boogaloo features 20 21 tracks lasting over 70 minutes, including:
  • Three (3) excellent oldies!
  • Three (3) mashups!
  • Three (3) alternate versions of previous songs!
  • Three - two (1) video game songs!
  • That one song that wouldn't fit onto the first Live from the Analog Hole
  • Mostly things that aren't on the studio albums (yet)!
To get your FREE* copy of Analog Hole 2, shoot me a mailing address (or alternate means of delivery) via email, phone/text (# available to FB/IRL friends), AIM/Skype (JMANneg3/GrandHighJ.MAN, respectively), or Facebook message!  Operators are standing by, call now!!!

*Meaning free to you. I, on the other hand, have to pay for materials & postage. sodonationsarewelcome

Current Mood: satisfied
Friday, August 24th, 2012
10:42 pm
The Psalm Remains the Same
In the past year or two, there was a little kerfuffle* over a "new translation" of the Roman Catholic Eucharistic Mass. Some said it was a waste of time. Some said it was a disgusting change of what everyone's used to. Some said it was the unlocking of the true meaning of the Mass. I say it was a complete nonissue.

Here's the definition of the Catholic faith & centerpiece of the Mass, the Nicene Creed, in both its previous (on the left) & newly-revised (on the right) forms. I'm going to break down the differences: 

"We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven & Earth, of all that is seen & unseen," becomes, "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven & Earth, of all things visible & invisible."
--The biggest change is the first one, which will be repeated throughout the creed: "We" changed to "I." The communal declaration of shared belief became the personal declaration of personal belief. The belief being declared, however, remains the same. Other than that, the change to this sentence is a synonym-swap; "seen & unseen" into "visible & invisible". Nothing worth writing home about.

"We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God--begotten, not made, one in being with the Father," becomes, "I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God--begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father."
--Another batch of synonym-swaps. One simplifies the language: "eternally begotten" into "born...before all ages". One overcomplicates the language: "one in being" into "consubstantial". And one is wholly redundant: the extra "begotten" shoved into the 2nd phrase.

"For us men & for our salvation, he came down from Heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was born of the Virgin Mary & became man," becomes, "For us men & for our salvation, he came down from Heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary & became man."
--They still didn't take out the unnecessary "men" in the first phrase (it's redundant; things that aren't humans can't say this creed). They did, however, put in the "and" because semicolons are scary; everyone knows that. The Holy Spirit's "power" is now shown, not told. "Born of" into "incarnate" is grammatically off, though, since "incarnate" isn't a past-tense verb, not to mention redundant ("incarnate" means "to become man").

"For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, & was buried. On the third day he rose again, in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into Heaven & is seated at the right hand of the Father," becomes, "For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death & was buried, & rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father."
--We have another synonym-swap ("in fulfillment of" into "in accordance with"). We have some basic sentence-break restructuring that changes no meaning. There's a kinda biggie here, though: "he suffered, died, & was buried" into "he suffered death & was buried", which glosses over the suffering before Jesus's death & also makes it sound like the actual act of dying is itself suffering, when we'd previously been led to believe that all pain & cognition ceases upon death & does not resume again until we're revived for the judgement--see "resurrection of the dead" below (though, in Christ's case, it is said that he spent his couple days of downtime visiting Hell & giving the devil what-for; still, in that case, Jesus wasn't the one doing the suffering). Hmm.

Pertaining to the Holy Spirit: "With the Father & the Son he is worshipped & glorified. He has spoken through the prophets," becomes, "...who with the Father & the Son is adored & glorified, who has spoken through the prophets."
--Mostly just sentence re-structuring here, but I'm curious why "worshipped" was changed to "adored", since "glorified" pretty well covers adoration already. No change to the meaning either way.

"We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead & the life of the world to come," becomes, "I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead & the life of the world to come."
--More sentence re-structuring. Some clearer wording: "look for" into "look forward to". "Acknowledge" into "confess" is kinda strange-sounding, since we're used to "confession" having a connotation of wrongdoing, but denotation-wise, it's a synonym.

That's it. Those little rewordings cause all this kerfuffle.** Throughout the entire Mass, the changes are all tiny, unimportant things like that. The only one that truly throws me off is "And also with you" turning into "And with your spirit," because that gives the implication that the priest's spirit deserves special consideration over the rest of our spirits. But that's just my paranoid nature showing through; it's actually another synonym! 

It all means the same thing! What were all those people arguing about?

*It makes me very happy to report that Chrome's spellcheck did not attempt to correct "kerfuffle."
**Seriously, that's a great word.

Current Mood: anxious
Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
3:47 am
Re: Roger Ebert's Review of 'We've Seen This Movie Before'
[Ebert's op-ed about the Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting can be found in its entirety here: clicky]

Rog took the extreme view that all firearms should be banned from civilian ownership, arguing only against the other extreme view that guns should be available for immediate purchase to anybody anytime, completely ignoring that wonderfully pragmatic middle ground of actually screening customers.  But I'm not here to talk about weapon regulation, or the fact that Ebert's sentiments were echoed in the stinkin' Onion.  I'm here to talk about this amazingly useless story that Ebert included in his rant: 
"  I was sitting in a Chicago bar one night with my friend McHugh when a guy from down the street came in and let us see that he was packing heat.
  “Why do you need to carry a gun?” McHugh asked him.
  “I live in a dangerous neighborhood.”
  “It would be safer if you moved.”  "

Yeah, that's the ticket!  After all, you all know how much I respect people who run away from their problems like that.  If your neighborhood is dangerous, don't take measures to protect yourself; instead just up & leave!  I'm sure you can afford to uproot your life & buy a new house or lease a new apartment in a safer-&-thus-more-expensive-because-that's-a-factor-in-property-values-&-rent neighborhood.  
Besides, it's not like Chicago is known to house many gangs, some of whom would surely regard your abdication of your home as an acknowledgement of their spoken/unspoken power & authority in the neighborhood, & some of whom might actually follow you to keep an eye on you & keep shaking you down for protection money--oh, wait, the exact opposite of that is what's true.  

If everyone who's not in a gang moved away from Chicago just because it contains so many "dangerous neighborhoods", Chi-town would lose its status as 3rd-most populous city.  The Cubs would be retired, & the White Sox & Bears would have to relocate to new cities. There would be nobody to read the Sun-Times anymore, particularly the movie reviews....hey, who writes those again?

And didn't you say, Roger, that this guy lived "down the street" from the bar you were visiting? Meaning that the bar was in that same "dangerous neighborhood". Wouldn't it have been safer if you guys had promptly moved to a different drinking parlor instead of finishing your rounds & ruminating over impractical solutions to real-world problems?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

As for the actual psychopathic perpetrator of this disgusting event: While I understand running through the mental image of killing somebody who bothers you, I still don't understand actually doing it, because that mental image is always followed by the mental image of the consequences: the gore & the pain & the sorrow & the hatred.... Even if you can't empathize with the people you hate, you can empathize with loss & not put others through it. Don't be Bane. Be Batman.

Current Mood: sleepy
Saturday, June 30th, 2012
12:57 pm
Shameful Behavior

Dear CNN & Fox News--
Really!?  Supreme Court decisions have been multi-paginated for 225 years, & you still reported based only on the first page?  The FIRST rule of journalism is ACCURACYnot speed.

Dear Chicago Sun-Times--
At least you guys just made an error, having a story prepared for either outcome & just accidentally running the wrong one.  But still, come on.

Dear AP reporters who work for regional editor David Scott--
Your regional editor should not have to send you a corrective email saying, "Please, immediately, stop taunting on social networks about CNN and others' SCOTUS ruling mistake and the AP getting it right. That's not the impression we want to reflect as an organization. Let our reporting take the lead."  He shouldn't have to tell you that; it should be your default mode of behavior as professional journalists. 
(P.S. to David Scott himself: Thank you for telling them that, & you might wanna have a word with your personnel manager about his/her hiring criteria in the future.)

Dear Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel.com--
"Roberts is the Severus Snape of the Supreme Court" might be true, but you don't know in which direction.  As others have pointed out, his reinterpretation of the no-insurance penalty as a tax (in contrast to Obama's repeated insistence that it wasn't a tax) will make the mandate easier to repeal, should a future iteration of Congress so desire.  So is he acts-like-a-jerk-then-comes-through-when-it-counts Snape, with Republicans as Death Eaters, or is he pays-lipservice-to-the-Dark-Lord-while-secretly-sabotaging-Voldemort's-evil-plans Snape, with Democrats as Death Eaters?  Also, why is Jezebel suddenly considered a political news source?  Are we expected to care about Cosmo's next hard-hitting legislative analysis too?

Dear liberals praising & thanking Justice Roberts--
Hey, remember 7 years ago, when you all furiously wanted to block Roberts' appointment to the Court?  'Cause I remember that.  Just think, if you'd gotten what you wanted then, Bush would've appointed a different conservative judge, one who probably would not have made the decision this week that Roberts made.  Just keep that in mind.

Dear DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard--
"[I]t's constitutional. B[leep]es."  How gloriously mature of you.  Glad to see that the man whose job is to represent the Democratic party decided to make his party look like contestants on a Bravo reality show.  You could've at least gone for the full Sam Jackson & said "It's constitutional, mother[bleep]ers!"

Dear everyone threatening to move to Canada--
Setting aside the painful irony of your ignorance of the Canadian health care system, threatening to move to Canada is the same thing a lot of Dems did when President Bush was elected.  Do you really want to be like them, a bunch of whiny, defeatist losers who cry & run away every time something doesn't go the way they'd hoped?  I've discussed in the past what a dumb move that is.

Dear me--
Three full months between posts? Let's not let that happen again.

Current Mood: hot
Saturday, March 31st, 2012
11:52 pm
This is a thing...
...involving [a whole lot of frustration over people not being able to laugh at themselves.]

Current Mood: mischievous
11:48 pm
HvZ Invitational 2: Infected Boogaloo
Survive first mission: Check.
--Survive second, third, & fourth missions: Check.
Be credit to team: Check.
Die by being outrun, not outsmarted: Check.
Kill a human: Not sure. (The person I tagged may've been slow-reacting to another tag already.)

Only real complaint: Ben Eggering getting in my face making crap up about me including quoting me as saying words I never EVER say.

I think I can do one more. :)

Current Mood: chipper
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
1:33 pm
J.MANwulf vs. Grendel’s Mother

I’ll start with the part that was my fault.

I was supposed to finish graduate school over a year before I did.  In the spring of 2010, I was enrolled for my last few classes, & for the first time, enrolled in my research credit, which had been explained to me as mandatory for every semester after my internship was done (the internship being done in the fall of 2009).  Since I had a full load of work-intensive classes & a severe case of fatigue, though, I had no intention of completing my research in that spring semester, despite the assumption of my advisor, Dr. Susan LaGrassa, that I would.  That I didn’t graduate in spring of 2010 was my responsibility, but really no one’s “fault,” since it was a conscious decision, not a mistake.

In the summer of 2010, though, I had no classes, & I was in Kirksville, away from work (save for a few trips home here & there).  I was enrolled in the research credit for the second semester; this was a normal & fairly common occurrence.  But I got lazy.  Despite finishing first drafts of almost everything—research summary, reflections, & unit plan—all I really submitted was one draft of the research summary, which needed heavy revisions.  I did one massive revision of that research summary, but it still wasn’t done yet.  Summer ended, my sublease ended, & I had to enroll again for the fall.  That I didn’t graduate in summer of 2010 was my fault.

In the fall of 2010, once I had gotten my brother moved into college & myself settled back into work, I began submitting my drafts again.  In late October, my research supervisor, Dr. James Guffey, asked for a meeting with me in-person to discuss things.  I erroneously thought the meeting was to finalize my portfolio.  I found a couple open days in my schedule in early November & made the appointment.  When I got to Kirksville, Dr. Guffey told me that I was actually going to have to redo everything from square one.  The way he explained it, though, was such that I believed he was simply asking me to enroll for another semester so he would have time to look over everything.  That I misunderstood was my fault. 

Unfortunately, since I thought I understood, it didn’t occur to me to explain that I didn’t understand.  So here I was thinking I was being expected to pay another $300 just to wait around for him to evaluate stuff that I had already written.  This didn’t sit right with me, so I tried emailing Dr. LaGrassa for permission to enroll for a 0-hour credit, which would only cost about $30 in fees.  She rather angrily denied my request.  Since I didn’t fully understand the situation, but thought that I did, I took some bad advice from my father & went over her head.  Since she was the chair of the Math department & the person in charge of the Math MAE program, I thought “over her head” was the Graduate Office.  So I went there & explained my situation (as I understood it) to secretary Doris Snyder, asking her to get me an audience with Graduate Dean Dr. Maria Di Stefano.  Doris, who had always been very good to me, agreed to do so.  That I gave her mistaken information was my fault, even though at the time I thought the information was correct.  And that I did not graduate in fall of 2010 was also my fault.

Now it’s time for the part that wasn’t my fault.

Even though I had NOT asked her to do so, Doris attempted to created a 0-hour Math research credit for me anyhow, without informing me that she had done so.  When LaGrassa found out, she charged me with a disciplinary violation, sending a letter demanding that I make an appointment to see her, but not specifying what my violation was.  I had been back home from my meeting with Guffey for a week already, with no days off work in sight until after Thanksgiving.  When I called Guffey to find out what my charge was, he refused to tell me until we met in person.  When I called LaGrassa’s office, her secretary was unable to tell me (because the secretary didn’t know either), & couldn’t get LaGrassa herself on the phone to tell me either.  I was also then informed that it would be in my “best interest” to make the appointment before Thanksgiving instead of after.  So I reluctantly gave up a work shift to clear a day for a trip to Kirksville.  That I was being forced to walk into a trial unprepared was NOT my fault, & I knew it.

LaGrassa & Guffey both seemed surprised when they found out I didn’t live in Kirksville anymore, even though a 30-second search of the student directory would have told them as much.  (Seriously, in all my time at Truman, I was the only person I knew who ever used the student directory to find people.)  Eventually, they informed me that I had been cited for violating the clause of the Conduct Code forbidding students from prompting University staff to action or inaction via false information, whether knowingly or not.  Since the rule explicitly covered accidental false info, like I had given, I was technically guilty, even though I had not wanted Doris to take the action she took.  Throughout the meeting, however, despite my confessing to my actual violation, LaGrassa continuously attempted to get me to admit I had knowingly lied to Doris, at one point threatening worsened consequences if I kept refusing to do so.  Only 3 things immediately trigger my rage: Threatening those I care about, intentionally lying to/about me, & accusing me of intentionally lying.  Being demanded to lie about lying was NOT my fault.

Eventually cooler heads (read: “my mother, who came up to Kirksville with me”) won out, & I was allowed to accept guilt for the situation without agreeing to LaGrassa’s incorrect version of events.  We then established my contract for the completion of my research portfolio, starting back at the beginning.  I put a clause in the portfolio stating that I was to return things within 3 days of receiving them.  For 3 months, this was no problem, & completed almost half of the portfolio, sometimes sacrificing sleep & cancelling other plans to make submissions on time, once even fighting a persistent TruView glitch which prevented one of my submissions from going through.  Then the last week of February 2011 happened.  Guffey was heading out of town for a week, just before which, I established my intention to begin working on 2 reflections at a time, in order to increase the chances of finishing in the spring.  While he was gone, I sent in 2 reflection drafts, with 3 days staggered between them to indicate that I intended the pieces to be returned staggered as well.  Also, every day for over a week, I was called into cover other people’s shifts at work.  I began going to bed a little earlier each night, but the calls came earlier & earlier each morning as well.  Unless one expects me to go to bed immediately after coming home from work, my mounting sleep deprivation was NOT my fault.  Then, on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2010, I came home from work, checked my email, found still nothing from Guffey yet, & went to bed exhausted.  The next day, Thursday, February 24th, I awoke in the late morning, checked my TruView email again and found that Guffey had finally responded.  In fact, he had returned both of my drafts at the same time, exactly the outcome I had hoped to avoid.  I was then called in to work early once again.  Since the emails had not arrived by evening on the 23rd and Dr. Guffey had a habit of returning emails by early evening, I logically presumed that he had sent them on the morning of the 24th.  (In hindsight, I realized another TruView error had occurred.  The failure of the TruView Gmail system was NOT my fault.)

With my work schedule keeping me from healthy rest and with a provision in my contract requiring me to send only my best work, I decided to wait and get some sleep Friday night so that I would be able to think clearly and submit my best work on Saturday, February 26th, which I believed at the time to be only my second day with the newest return, not the third day.  On Saturday the 26th, I was able to revise and return the draft of what we’ll call Revision A before I had to leave for my scheduled work hours that day.  I mentioned in the email to Guffey, though, that “Revision B” would take a while longer (to keep our verbal agreement that some leeway could be given if I notified him in advance).  I did not realize how much longer at the time, though…

I came home from work that night to find our power out.  With no electricity, I had no modem.  With a weak laptop battery, I had no time to produce quality work anyway.  With the time being so late, I had no open libraries at which to work.  I went to bed to keep my health in line since I knew I had yet another early start the next day.  I did not call Guffey, as LaGrassa later insisted I should have, for three reasons: One, he would not get a message on his office phone until Monday anyhow.  Two, I did not wish to wake him by calling his house so late at night.  Three, as mentioned before, I thought I was still on my second day, so it was not a critical moment anyway from my perspective.  The power going out was NOT my fault.

On Sunday, February 27th, I woke up and immediately prepared for and left for work, expecting to finish Revision B in the evening.  Unfortunately, I arrived home after 6:00 PM in a torrential downpour with lightning approaching and entered my house to find the power off yet again and my parents in the basement with emergency supplies.  We had pre-tornado conditions, and my mother’s policy is to shut the electricity off immediately under such conditions to protect our electronics from power surges.  Furthermore, even if I was insane enough to go back out and drive again after barely making it home safely, the St. Louis libraries were all closed by that time on Sunday evening anyhow.  LaGrassa later informed me that the almanac showed no storms in St. Louis until 7:00 PM on the 27th.  The electricity and water falling from the sky told me otherwise.  The weather is NOT my fault.  (Nor is it George Bush’s fault, but try telling that to Kanye West.)

We stayed awake in the basement through the thunderstorm and tornadoes, trying to pick up news on a transistor radio until the all-clear siren was sounded well after midnight and my mother allowed us to turn the power back on.  (Before you ask why I didn’t just turn the power back on myself right away to do my work, ask LaGrassa what happens when one tries to argue with a Sicilian matriarch.)  Once the storm had lifted, I got right to work and sent Revision B that Sunday night.  Even against that nearly-week-long “perfect storm”, both literally and figuratively, of problems, I still got my draft returned on what I thought at the time to be the third day.  The next day, Monday, February 28th, Guffey sent back both drafts at the same time again.  Nowhere did he mention anything about my submission time being in dispute.  In the following couple days, though, I was able to get right back on track, returning the Revision A again—which Guffey has said would now be complete—the very next day on March 1st, and returning Revision B again the following night of March 2nd, again intentionally staggering the submissions in the hope that he would do the same, although I did not want to seem demanding by making such a request directly.  Personally, I don’t think being raised to be tactful is my fault, but some might disagree.

So I was completely blindsided on the afternoon of Thursday, March 3rd, when I received LaGrassa’s emailed notice that I had missed a deadline and that she was failing me on all instances of the research course.  To add insult to injury, the official reason cited in her letter used the “Grades Below Average” policy, mentioning that I would now have more than six hours credit at a “C” or below, rather than the more direct and logical “Repeat Courses” policy, which would remove me from the MAE program without the tenuous involvement of my past courses.  In her letter, LaGrassa also insinuated that I may have been subjectively in contract violation for not contacting Guffey regularly, even though I had been responding to him even more frequently than he to me; indeed, the only reason I ceased making phone calls with every receipt and submission of material was that he told me directly, both on the phone and via email, that the phone calls were unnecessary.  LaGrassa also insinuated that I may have been subjectively in contract violation for not turning in my best work, a completely unfounded accusation which should be discredited on the basis of my waiting until I could do my best work to make submissions.  When I responded to her email to protest the decision, LaGrassa then implicitly accused me of lying yet again in a spiteful response; see the above comments about the weather almanac.  She also attacked me for not immediately warning Dr. Guffey about my late Revision B submission, although I did so in the Revision A email on February 26th, which she conveniently neglected to include along with the copy of our Revision B email chain sent with my notification letter.  That LaGrassa knowingly withheld information about my late submission from me (allowing me to keep working under the false pretense that nothing was wrong), had me removed from the MAE program under a justification which could only be applied to me & not anyone else in a similar circumstance (in a letter peppered with subtle insults), attacked my honesty yet again upon my appeal to her (even if I had actually lied the first time, certainly I am not stupid enough to attempt it again), & demonstrated a suspiciously selective memory regarding my actions was NOT my fault.

She also tried to dissuade me from filing a grade change appeal: “I have submitted the change of grade forms for the previous semesters, and you can consider this correspondence my formal denial of your appeal. […] You should in particular note the portion of the policy that states, "The instructor's grade shall not be changed unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the grade was determined in an unreasonable manner or in violation of some other established ethical or legal rule.  Instructors are entitled to the widest range of discretion in making judgments about academic performance.’”  I did so anyway, sending a 4-page letter along with the appeal form and all of the evidence I could remember to gather to Dr. Paul Yoder, chair of the Education department, & the person I should have gone to last November instead of Dr. Di Stefano.  In an email, I also told Yoder that if he needed any more information than what I’d already supplied, all he needed to do was ask & I would gladly provide it.  Nearly a full month later, I finally heard back from Yoder; his answer was no.  So I took it to the next level, the Dean of Health Sciences & Education, Dr. Sam Minner.  (This was difficult, because Yoder burned a week of my time evading the question of how to send the materials I’d given him to Minner.  That Yoder intentionally held me up was NOT my fault.) 

Minner only had my materials for a week before responding; he said that if I could send him proof on company letterhead that I’d had the power outage, it would help my case.  So I went to the Ameren UE offices & asked for such a letter.  I was informed that they would not give out anything on company letterhead to settle a private dispute.  A security guard suggested that I look up their letterhead online & write my own statement.  When I informed Minner of this & asked if there was some other acceptable form of proof, he said that a notarized letter from my parents would do.  The next day, my father & I went to the bank, got a letter notarized, & sent it in.  A couple weeks later, it was time for Spring Commencement, & I was in Kirksville again.  The day before the ceremony, I emailed Minner asking if it would be appropriate for me to walk without his decision yet.  He did not respond until the morning OF the ceremony to tell me not to.  Then, a few days after commencement, he finally sent me his decision; based on my initial evidence & the statements of LaGrassa & Guffey (in other words, he hadn’t even looked at my father’s letter), his answer was no.  That Minner directly lied to me was NOT my fault.  And that I did not graduate in the spring of 2011 was also NOT my fault.

To Minner’s credit, he sent my appeal along to the final level right away after I asked, instead of dragging his feet like Yoder did.  Now my final academic fate was in the hands of Dr. Di Stefano and Provost Richard Coughlin.  I asked them if I should enroll in a 0-credit research course for the summer to keep the continuous-enrollment requirement of the MAE program, but they told me it wasn’t necessary for summers.  It took 5 more weeks to get their final decision.  In late June, they finally got back to me; the answer was…“kinda.”  My F grades would not be changed (this would only hurt me if I wanted to go get a doctorate somewhere, but I don’t), but I would be allowed to enroll in one more semester of research credit for the fall & be allowed to complete the portfolio & then graduate.  Furthermore, I would now be submitting work directly to Yoder instead of LaGrassa & Guffey.  Yoder, for his part, gladly set me up for the new online portfolio system & told me not to enroll until the fall so I wouldn’t have to pay for a summer I would only be getting half of.  That I did not graduate in the summer of 2011 was NOT my fault.

Once the fall semester started, I began right where I left off.  Over a span of about 2 months, I completed the rest of the portfolio to Yoder’s level of approval.  It’s worth noting that this amount of time would have gotten me done by the end of April if LaGrassa had never tried to boot me out in the first place.  In the fall of 2011, I finally graduated, despite the best efforts of a spiteful advisor, a spineless professor, & a lying dean.  My name is Joseph Louis Puricelli, & I am a Master of Arts in Education.

Now to get a full-time job so I can pay off these dang student loans….

Current Mood: satisfied
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