Thursday, September 30, 2004

Rote and rhyme and rhetoric

So I ended up seeing about half of the debate, and I'm not really heartened by the result. Kerry seemed to be more communicative - despite constant annoying mention of Vietnam - than usual, connecting with the room. Bush kept stumbling, for long painful periods of silence; I think he must have been flustered by some of the weird accusations Kerry made. Kerry has likely scored some points in small pockets of the undecided middle here. This is not good. But thanks to low expectations and existing preconceptions - we already know he's terrible with off-the-cuff oratory - Bush probably hasn't lost anything. This seems to be a draw. On the other hand, I'm now eagerly awaiting the next debate more than ever.

I shall be dragged through the slime and the mud

Yikes. And here I thought political scare tactics couldn't get much nastier than those of Paul Martin's Liberals. I think I understand the non-Bush-bashing point Cameron Diaz means when she says "If you think rape should be legal, then don't vote" - that if you don't engage in even minor participation in the democratic process, you can't complain about the outcome - but the way she says it is so badly worded, and given the usual pro-Dem implications of Hollywood types about get-out-the-vote efforts, it's far too close to "A second Bush administration will legalize rape" for my comfort. I know I'm reading into a statement that's not necessarily beyond the pale, but how many people are going to interpret it the first way, and how many the second? How many will simply internalize such a theme and file it away in the mental category of "Yeah, Republicans are all mean hypocritical misogynist bible-thumpers, aren't they?" After all, even if it's not literally factual, it can still be 'true,' to a certain kind of person. Fake but accurate, you might say?

We can make it, we won't fake it

Wow, that was fast. I really don't understand what would drive someone - ostensibly a serious academic - to attempt to rescue CBS' credibility (and at this late date, too) with such a clumsy forgery. But, then, I've always tried to make certain my actions aren't so driven by pathological spite that I'd make stupid, quickly-discovered errors. If this kind of thing keeps up, I might be OD'ing on schadenfreude even before October is over.

For when I fool the people I fear I fool myself as well

The political dynamic is different in the US than Canada, obviously, but I think it's safe to use our most recent election as a model for what increasingly desperate Democrats will do in angling for the women's vote. Paul Martin successfully used vague scare tactics intimating Conservatives would "take away a woman's right to choose." Never mind that such a policy wasn't part of the Tory platform, or that it'd never pass even a free vote in the House - it'd have been political suicide (despite the fact that a large number of party members might have reservations about abortion-on-demand); the fearmongering won. I don't know that there's a lesson to be applied, here. Scare tactics kneecapped the Conservatives despite proactively countering the baseless accusations, because Canadians were willing to believe the worst. However, the American electorate is much more evenly divided, with healthier (despite being dirtier) political discourse; both sides can slime each other, but at least there isn't the danger of one or the other being given exactly complete or exactly no credibility. (Via Instapundit.)

You know exactly who's to blame

I'm going to miss tonight's debate, sadly. It coincides with my Nazi Germany class, and I can't really afford to miss three-hour lectures; there's just too few of them. And that's a shame, because I was hoping to liveblog all the debates. I'd even considered recording it, and doing it when I got home - but I have to work tomorrow morning, and by 11:00 the spin cycle will have already taken off to the extent that I'll be unable to come to a completely independent impression. There's something special about getting a real off-the-cuff impression without instant replay or meta-meta-analysis via others. Oh well. That said, I hope Kerry is still orange. He may have avoided pulling a Nixon-in-1960 bad showing by negotiating the room temperature, but a strange skin colour will be hard to hide with the direct comparison of cameras cutting between he and Bush. It'll serve him right if he is. This is what happens when a campaign micromanages the cosmetic appearance of a candidate just a bit too much...

When the momentum and the moment are in rhyme

Hasn't most of Kerry's campaign since the primaries been one painfully extended 'inarticulate moment?'

If this is where the monarchy is headed, count me out

Adrienne Clarkson is apparently set to overstay the Governor General's normal five-year term. The decision comes as the Liberals' minority government prepares to return to Parliament next week -- a session that some say could be one of the most unstable in decades. Observers say this requires an experienced governor general to be in place, should a constitutional crisis arise. "Experienced?" It's a ceremonial position. It doesn't require training, only knowledge of the correct viceregal protocols, and Rideau Hall has a staff for that. She's staying because she's a known quantity, a free-spending Liberal-friendly GG. It's a clever means of subtle retrenchment on Paul Martin's part. An obviously friendly appointee made now would raise complaint from the now-far-more-powerful opposition, but merely extending the term of the current Governor General can't be too objectionable, right? I hereby make the remarkably obvious prediction that, should any constitutional crisis arise during the course of this minority government, Clarkson will side (precedent be damned) with the Liberals. I have a soft spot for tradition and reverence for the past, sure; that's one of the reasons I enjoy studying history. But continuing to give more than utterly symbolic power (or the barest of public funds) to the wasteful and out-of-touch representative of monarchy is disgraceful in the 21st century. If Canada had a more logical and sensible form of constitutional government, Adrienne Clarkson's current position of influence would be unnecessary, and she could return to holding swanky parties without charging it to the public treasury. That's the best argument for republicanism there is.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

I get no thrill from this atomic age

Finally, just to get one last thing out of my head, I need to write about the Ottawa International Animation Festival 2004 once again. As mentioned in passing during my reviews of competition screenings, I don't like Teletoon's new series Atomic Betty. Of the series whose primary gimmick is the thick-edged graphic design style, I'd rather see My Life as a Teenage Robot or even Grim & Evil get the glory. But I digress. I spent most of last Thursday at a volunteer shift at the Television Animation Conference section of the festival, i.e. a rented room at the Chateau Laurier. I had the opportunity there to see most of a session with the show's producers, and used it to jot down some notes about exactly why it disappoints me. I dislike the series for several reasons, but first among them is the style. It's emulating the thick-edged design philosophy of Dexter's Lab and The Powerpuff Girls, after both Genndy Tartakovsky and Craig McCracken, respectively, have abandoned it for new, more innovative (and more technically accomplished) looks in Samurai Jack and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Jumping on a bandwagon just after the drivers have jumped off seems foolish in any event, but even more so considering the Kurosawa-like cinematography of the former or the infectiously deranged cheer of the former. Adherence to cliches after they are cliches does not show a great deal of prescience on the part of Atomic Productions or their French coproducers. It's also the product of astonishingly cynical marketing, even for a series made for international syndication. I was mildly disgusted as the producers proudly touted the 93-country launch as being highly advantageous for this Christmas season's coming AB-branded product lineup; they're still working on the specifics, but hoped to have a four-foot section to themselves in every Target store in the US by November. The official sneakers - which they had mockup designs for on display - also seemed like a weak tie-in, as such things go. Moreover, I dislike that it's Cancon for no particular reason, like a great many other Canadian productions. It does not functionally aid the story in any way for Betty to be Canadian, yet the fact that she is qualifies the program for preferential treatment in the Canadian market (not to mention Telefilm Canada funding), despite the emphasis on selling to foreign markets. The law of unintended consequences here means that regulation designed to exclude American content from Canada is instead subsidizing Canadian profits from overseas buyers. Is that right? However, there's one thing I can really appreciate: Atomic Betty's archnemesis, Maximus IQ. Maximus is an anthopomorphic alien Siamese cat of a megalomanical space-emperor. That's some kind of dialectical brilliance going on there; at once, he's reflecting his obvious inspiration, Flash Gordon's Ming the Merciless, but being non-specifically Asian he can also be a reference to Ming's pulp villain precursor of Fu Manchu. Yet he's just an alien cat; how could anyone make accusations that the show revives stereotypes of the Yellow Peril? Kudos to the production team for coming up with such clever synthesis. Such stereotypes are, of course, nothing to be proud of today, but they're still part of the pulp fiction tradition that even modern animated sci-fi continues, and giving them a slight ironic nod (while ignoring the vicious racism that characters like Fu Manchu embodied) is interestingly sharp for a show that's otherwise fairly bland.

If I hate the headline, I'll make up the headline

The Kerry campaign is probably going to try to make further political hay out of being endorsed by Bush's hometown newspaper. They won't, if they're smart. Take a look at the reasons the editor gives; it's a veritable mirror of DNC talking points, complete with the old stalwarts of HALLIBURTON!, PART-TIME PRESIDENT! and INSULTED ALLIES! among the least frivolous. As both the Reuters story and editorial note, the Crawford Iconoclast endorsed Bush in 2000 - back when he was a peacetime, isolationist fiscal conservative, but that's beside the point. It was before the election; the seductive grip of Bush Derangement Syndrome hadn't yet taken hold. This editorial's tone doesn't speak of tortured, principled conservatism soured on encouraging democracy in the Middle East by mistakes and setbacks, but left-leaning loathing grasping for a laundry list of complaints.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Always heading down a losing straight, dreaming that you're screaming at fate

January 28, 2004: Kerry to GOP: 'Bring it on.' September 27, 2004: Kerry to GOP: 'Please make it stop.' Yeah, I know it's a cheap shot and not at all original, but the man's repellent whininess keeps reaching fascinating new heights. If he'd just stop bitching about how mean Republicans are being, and respond in a dignified, factual and applause line-free manner, he might still have a chance. Luckily, I doubt Kerry is capable of such a feat.

It was a fine affair, but now it's over

I knew Saturday would be an exhausting day, squeezing in both my real job, volunteering, and as many screenings at the animation festival as I could. I pulled a full shift at work, from 9 to 6, and then made a mad dash to eat and get to the NAC for that night's 7:00 screening, Hair High. Bill Plympton has a delightfully odd style, and to see an entire feature film's worth of it is a treat. He's a greater master of the sick joke than John Kricfalusi, mainly because he knows when pushing the envelope is actually funny and not just silly and juvenile. Hair High is difficult to encapsulate neatly. "You got Twilight Zone in my Grease," "No, you got Grease in my Twilight Zone" probably grasps the general theme best. Spud is the Ricky Nelsonesque new kid in town, who through a series of faux pas, insults tough guy Rod and his helmet-haired girlfriend Cherri. Intimidated into being Cherri's servant, she and Spud slowly fall in love - and on the way to the Prom, are run off the road into the lake by Rod and his goons. One year later, they return from the dead to have their (quite graphic) revenge. At heart, it's a sweet little tale of doomed love, with more than a few utterly superfluous sight gags and gross-out bits. The music is also amusingly appropriate; there's some period 1950s pieces for tone, but a large part of the soundtrack is sung by a Johnny Cash soundalike with an ongoing series of creepy ballads. The framing story isn't handled very skilfully, however; it could be more ominous and atmospheric than it actually is. Still, it's the sort of thing that really warrants a wider release. I was only able to see part of Competition Screening #6, having to leave early to make it over to the Arts Court to fulfill my second volunteer shift. Son of Satan: Greatly disturbing. Based on a Bukowski short story, the style - distorted scribblings on notebook paper, exaggerated idle doodles - matches perfectly this dark tale of juvenile psychopaths nearly beating a neighbour to death. The Three Amigos ‘Beautiful Game’: Silly, but I suppose a decent PSA needs to be to grab the attention of viewers. Welcome to Kentucky: This is why I favour pulling all federal funding from the National Film Board, among other Liberal-favoured government institutions; they get up to entirely the wrong sort of pretentiously arty shenanigans with it. Surreal and dull. Twelve minutes of my life I'll never get back, spent watching fish, hallways, and landscapes from no part of Kentucky I'm aware of. Caisse d'Epargne 'Les Triples' Amusingly photorealistic CG work. Dad's Dead: Another dark little story about juvenile psychopaths; I'm not sure if there's any significance in having two in the same program. Nightmarish CG makes the walls crawl and signs and pictures come to life in the blurry haze of highly modified traditional film footage, as an unnamed narrator describes how his best friend Jonno burned down a house and framed him for it. Eerie. At that point, I had to leave for the Arts Court. It's a fascinating building, mainly for having been the former Carleton County Courthouse until 1985. It's still very recognizable on the inside as one; courtrooms have been stripped of their furnishings, but they're still obviously courtrooms. Much of the building was renovated in the mid-60s or 70s, from the look of the decor on some floors, which also gives it a very unnerving International Style high school vibe. Saturday night was the biggest party hosted by the festival during the week, sponsored by Nelvana. There were three separate rooms in the building (the SAW Gallery in the basement, a large hall connected to the theatre on the third floor, and a small side room on the second half-floor) officially issued temporary liquor licenses. I was assigned to watch the door by the third floor staircase, making certain no one went between floors with drinks. I stole a chair from a janitor's closet, and proceeded to sit down and very thoroughly read my newspapers for the next two hours while doing so. At about that time, I realized that the other volunteers theoretically assigned to different positions doing the same as I had ditched, to go into the hall for food and to scam beer from delegates. In my defense, I didn't realize that sooner mainly because I was out of sight of the others. Feeling somewhat silly, I left early; I was tired, and didn't really see the need to hang around performing a pointless job. However, I'm glad I did work that shift. Furthering the creepy high school vibe, I ran into a friend from high school also volunteering that night. I'd call him more a casual acquaintance than someone I ever knew very well, but it was still kind of neat to meet him like that; I hadn't otherwise seen him since June 2002, if I recall correctly. After a somewhat aimless OAC year and initial post-secondary rejection, he turned out to have gone into animation, getting into Algonquin through sheer force of effort, which was good to hear - and somewhat ironic, as he noted. I was always drawing throughout high school, and seemed likely to go into a career in animation, but turned away; he had little to no interest in it until late, but is now thriving in the second year of a fairly well-respected program. I got home some time around 2:00 Sunday morning, walking the entire way home; I'd forgotten my bus pass. It never fails to disappoint me how deserted Centretown is at night; Sweet Lion of Zion, Ottawa's a podunk little town. I had been pleasantly surprised at work on Friday to find that I wouldn't be working my normal Sunday shift, but instead start a few hours later. That gave me the time to both sleep as late as need be on Sunday and even see a screening I thought I'd have to miss entirely, Animated Soviet Propaganda. I still didn't get to see all of it, but even part was more than I'd hoped for, so that was copacetic enough. Most of the animation was excellent, stylized in either the harsh Futurism-inspired Soviet poster art look, or an even looser naturalistically cartoonish (but still nicely graphical and straight-edged) manner. The propaganda aspect of it was as I expected - Americans are fat stupid racist baby-killers, the USSR only wants to spread peace and goodwill throughout the world, not bloody revolution (Oh my, no, where would you get an idea like that?), etc etc etc; nothing worse than you'd find in Michael Moore or his ilk. That's just sad. The newest short in the collection was from 1977, and the silliest agitprop aspects of Fahrenheit 9/11 or Dude, Where's My Country don't manage to be any less shrill or more believable. Some people just don't learn from the mistakes of those that have gone before, I guess. In all, I actually did more or less get my money's worth. Throw in the T-shirts and other giveaways from the AniMarket, and the half-case of Pepsi I discreetly mooched from the reception area in the Chateau Laurier during the Television Animation Conference when I worked that shift, and I might have even ended up ahead on the deal. What I saw was magnificent. And now, finally, it's over, and I can recover a bit. Next year, I really need to plan this better.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Days arise to be replaced, lines are drawn and lines erased

So as it happened, I managed to see more screenings at the animation festival than I'd thought. Friday night, I saw Competition Screening #4 and #3, in that order. I'd worried #4 (the children's-animation show) would, well, be full of kids. I don't like kids. I could barely tolerate myself as a child. My fears were misplaced; it was only the same average-thirtysomething crowd as at the other evening screenings, and it was, on the whole, better than I expected. Tired Out Tom: Simplistic, but that's what Flash animation is good at. Nicely circular, both in narrative and visual design, and quirky in a delightfully British way - despite being a German production. Nicktoons 'Kat Id's': Nickelodeon's station identification bumpers are beautifully iconic and slick. They're yet another reminder of how much more professional American cable networks are than ours. Desmond's Trashed Apple Tree (Desmonds trashade äppelträd): This would be a gold mine of societal information for a historian from the distant future. It's a children's film featuring an archetypal EU bureaucrat (a sleepwalking elk), a community more concerned with holding meetings and making joint decisions than solving problems, and characters constantly partaking of healthful saunas (!). The claymation isn't particularly refined, but it conveys a lot of character - more than the high-pitched Swedish monotones of the voice actors. Wicked Willie, the whiny poser of a local bad boy, is amusing. Helping Little Kitten: Apparently made for Sesame Street, this short is more sweet and cute than anything. Bonus points for kittenmambo. Codename: Kids Next Door ‘Operation: Support’: I'd seen this (I don't really care for Codename: KND, but I'll watch it if nothing else is on), but it worked a lot better in a theatre with the aforementioned thirtysomethings wildly guffawing over the episode's many double entendres and an amusing Cliff Huxtable cariacature. The show as a whole could use more internal narrative logic, but it's not terrible. It's nice to hear Cree Summer working, anyway. Bruno ‘Hats’ and Bruno ‘Marching': Overly simplistic, even for the intended audience of toddlers. It is cel animation, but you'd never be able to tell it from bad Flash. A Musical Shop: Richly detailed backgrounds, soft, warm tones, and intriguing design are only half the appeal of this Russian short. I suspect the subtitles may have been badly translated, but the ending - an entire town of anthropomorphic insects, including two music-shop-owning crickets, deserting their homes to escape obnoxious, lazy and atonal flies - seemed almost allegorical, and certainly deeper and more poetic than most children's films. Happy to be Nappy: Meh. I'm not big on bizarre hairstyles, or lighthearted animation celebrating them. Okay, I guess, but it would probably be far more entertaining for children. That's a failure, in my mind, if adults can't also be entertained by a piece of animation, no matter how slightly. My Life as a Teenage Robot 'Speak No Evil': I'd also seen this. If there was any justice, My Life as a Teenage Robot would be the Tartakovsy-McCracken-style-ripoff to get prime placement in international markets, not Atomic Betty. Teletoon ‘Chicken,’ 'Sheep Factory,' 'Space Dinner': Familiarity breeds contempt, and these were Teletoon's station ID bumpers for the past year, though I don't recall ever seeing the third. They still seem amateurish compared to the Nicktoons versions, above, or any of CN's. Badger's Parting Gifts (Leb Wohl, Lieber Dachs): Ever written fanfiction set in the "Wind in the Willows" universe where Badger dies in his sleep in the first act, and Toad, Mole and their friends then fondly remember everything he did for them? Jürgen Egenolf and Theo Kerp have. Wistful and touching, but just a bit weird, and (dare I say it, stereotypically) depressingly German. PBS 'Share a Story': This works only due to the catchy soundtrack by They Might Be Giants. Concert For A Carrot Pie (Kontsert Porgandipirukale): Sheer lunatic brilliance, which seems to be a hallmark of Estonian animation. A jaunty folk-song/march soundtrack makes this bizarre film - featuring a blind rabbit, overly dramatic mice, giant carrots, and a quite mad, barefoot retired general of a grandfather - even more energetic than its frenetic and quirky animation might suggest. Only the most hardened heart could avoid breaking out in a broad grin by about two minutes in. See a clip here. Still cheerful from the last short, I hiked the short distance from the National Gallery to the NAC; the trade show floor had opened up by then, and I was pleased to score some logo'ed and branded swag in the half-hour before the next competition started. Despite the screen being fairly small compared to the capacity of the auditorium, I enjoy watching films in the NAC's Southam Hall. I imagine it, with its multiple levels, broad and wide mezzanine floor, and boxes, to replicate something of the experience of the old movie palaces. The 3000-seat Capitol Theatre hasn't been three blocks away since thirty years ago, and it's sorely missed. I suppose Southam Hall is an acceptable substitute, but not by much. But I digress; 9:00 offered Competition Screening #3. Ryan: Animator Ryan Larkin was the John Lennon of the National Film Board for a time in the late 60s and early 70s, creating the overrated Walking in 1968. Then he became a cocaine addict and more or less ruined his life, ending up as a panhandler in Toronto until being urged to clean himself up by old friends and the director of this biopic. I don't find the animation especially appealing, but it's neat nonetheless; emotions are rarely visually portrayed so well. There's some dark layers in the characterization of both Larkin, and the writer-director-interviewer Landreth. Calypso Is Like So: Stop-motion Robert Mitchum is kidnapping and murdering unlucky travellers to be the cast and crew of his fever-dream final film, in a cargo-cult set somewhere in the desert. Funnier than it sounds, mostly due to sharp character design and well-timed movement. Hewlett Packard 'Change': I realize that CG'ed video work is just as much animation as anything else in the competition, but this just felt gratuitous. It wasted opportunities to portray a real passing of time in buildings rapidly changing, a la the passage-of-time montage in Futurama's "Space Pilot 3000," to randomly replace modernist glass hulks for similar modernist glass hulks. I'm also not sure what Embracing Change has to do with HP, other than being a precisely vague mission statement. Creature Comforts 'Cats or Dogs?': I can't believe this series hasn't been imported by any North American network. The Wallace & Gromit shorts and Chicken Run seem to do well enough here; why not Aardman Animation's more recent work? Highly amusing, substantially due to the familiar Aardman character style, but primarily due to the great voice work. Franz Ferdinand ‘Take Me Out’: A few months back, a friend asked at a party if anyone liked Franz Ferdinand. I inquired if he meant the band or the archduke. He seemed surprised that I was the only other person he knew that realized the significance of this utterly pedestrian group's name. (And I only even knew that there was a band going by such a name from seeing a poster in the window of Compact Music at Bank and Slater.) I don't like them, I didn't like the song performed in this music video, and didn't think the animation was fantastic enough to make up for it. Guardian 'Calf': A calf learns its testicles will become the contents of meat pies for hungry Manchester United fans. Smirky and entertaining in emulating the style of Bambi for the sake of an arguably sick joke, and not long enough to become tiresome. Fast Film: Absolutely brilliant. A moving collage of images from an entire century of film tells a universal story through the faces of many actors and their actions. There are so many layers of meaning here, so much to interpret and argue; this is proof that animation can be as complex and deep as it wants to be. You could teach an entire film theory course based on the interpretation of this short, dissecting exactly what every scene (from, as near as I could tell, something more than a hundred films) used means in context and in a general cinematographic sense, and I don't doubt some enterprising professor at some institution will, at some point. Excel 'Gorilla': Slight and unfunny. Harvie Krumpet: Clever and appealing; the terribly unlucky life of a silly self-made man, in smoothly produced claymation. Kind of a downer overall, but funny enough to be worth it. How to Cope With Death: Death comes for an old woman. She knows kung fu. It does not end well for the reaper. I enjoyed the quasi-anime-like hyper martial-arts sequence (a good Dover Boys-esque zip stretch is hard to come by otherwise, nowadays), and the pitch-perfect design of a depressingly run-down apartment suddenly turned into a battleground. That's all I can bear to write about tonight; reviews of Saturday's and Sunday's shows will also soon be forthcoming.

Our standards, fading

This is interesting. Presumably, MP3 support for Sony's other ATRAC-using devices can't be far behind, but will it help at this point? The PSP is a poor imitation of the iPod, and MiniDiscs have had a hellish half-existence as a strange beast somewhere between cassette tape and CD-RW for several years. Clunky copy-protection schemes also don't help. If I had any money to invest, I wouldn't bet it on Apple's competitors.

Friday, September 24, 2004

You know I'm right, it's there in black and white

I managed to take in Competition Screening #2 at the animation festival last night. Thoughts: Bathtime in Clerkenwell: Brilliant and catchy. The faux-cutout animation combined with Terry Gilliam-inspired pastiche (and an amazingly catchy soundtrack) got my vote for the Public Prize. Oregon Lottery 'Island of Unexpected Gifts': Insubstantial, but cute; it apes the old Rankin-Bass style well. The Phantom Inventory (L'inventaire fantome): Amazingly atmospheric. I've never seen CG so well integrated with model animation, and the intricate detail of both must have taken quite a while to produce. The genuinely creepy Art Nouveau spookiness pays off in a way that owes more to Dickens than Lovecraft, which I didn't expect. Wisconsin Lottery 'Casino': Meh. The Shag-inspired retro look is rarely done well by anyone else, and for a lottery ticket ad, it seemed far too earnest. A Room Nearby: Touching and melancholy - I was getting misty-eyed at the segment with Milos Forman and his dog - but would have worked just as well being shot in a montage documentary style. That's a minus in my book; the art should be essential, not an afterthought. It apparently ran on PBS, which explains a lot. Rix Pix Nix Hix: An absolute mess. The kind of thing I'd hide from public view, just to keep from giving the average person the idea that animation is either pure kidvids, or this kind of "edgy" crap. Moo(n): Cute and somewhat bizarre. It made me think of Edward Gorey's less gruesome works. I also loved the cutouts animated over rendered backgrounds; there's a very surreal feel there. Catch Me If You Can (Title Sequence): I hadn't seen Catch Me If You Can . In retrospect, the homage to this sequence in The Simpsons, last season, seems far more interesting. I like anything after the style of Friz Freleng. Saddam and Osama: This originally aired as a TV Funhouse segment for Saturday Night Live. Still gold, but the audience (as I expected) laughed more at the concept of Bush-as-chimp than the far more clever and less obvious jokes - and, I'm guessing, missed the irony that they could probably agree entirely with the most laughable propaganda of the Arabic world, as long as it displayed hatred of George Bush. Will You Let Enemy In? (Kas Lased Vaenlase Sisse?): Okay, but gave me an uncomfortable NFB vibe, despite being an Estonian production. Prudence ‘À tort ou à raison’: The wine-stains and doodles on a cafe tablecloth come alive. Clever and intriguing. Ward 13: I don't believe I've ever before seen something that deserves to be called both Kafkaesque and Lovecraftian at the same time. This does. It's also action-horror-comedy-suspense in the Evil Dead mould, and does an excellent job of it. Highly disturbing, and highly recommended. Also aired, but apparently meant to be part of Competition Screening #5, was Glass Crow, which was dull; for being mostly blurry texture-mapping of a crow silhouette, it didn't exactly need the elaborate setup of the Defenestration of Prague. Like Rix Pix Nix Hix, but more disappointing for being technically much better; not half as clever as it thinks it is. Tonight I have a bad choice for the 7:00 screening - either Competition #4 (devoted entirely to kid-oriented works) or the mediocre-looking and clichéd-sounding Pinocchio 3000. Then at 9:00, a choice between two great options - either one of the real competition screenings, or a retrospective of Popeye shorts from the mid-30s. There's no justice.


This seems too long as a response to the comment questioning my dislike of Prof. Villa to leave in that entry itself, so I've decided it'll be a new post entirely. To Anonymous: I'm not questioning Villa's credentials. I don't really care about his credentials, actually. It would seem empirical experience of his demeanour in class seems far more informative in this case. That he's respected in his academic field also means little to me; so's Noam Chomsky, or Edward Said, or Howard Zinn, or Cornel West, but I freely cast aspersions on their respective cases of moral equivocation as well. (I trust a "People's History" about as much as I trust a "People's Republic" - which is to say, not in the slightest. And don't even get me started on Chomsky or Said.) I've long since resigned myself to the fact that there are many people I wouldn't trust with real power who have taken up residence in academia. Credentials "beyond reproach" don't pull much weight with me. Likewise his military service. I suppose you might think that I can respect that, and I do - but only insofar as he used to be that decent person with mainstream ideas about history, and doesn't seem to be today. Denouncing all war as unjust after honourably participating in one is the same quantum trick of logic John Kerry tried to pull; you can't both rest on your medals and disrespect fellow-soldiers without offending somebody. I would also suggest it irresponsible of him to engage in commentary on current events in a way that reflects faulty parallelism. To convince the average Canadian student of George Bush's perfidy isn't terribly hard. To use such innuendo as a means of reinforcing similar accusations about Roosevelt (and vice versa) takes advantage of his bully pulpit in a way that I expect more from a professor of political science than one of history, and I don't mean that in a kind way. As for his methods, I simply don't care to spend an entire term enduring such "thought experiments," no matter how informative and broadening you or he think they may be. I'm just not that masochistic. I also think whether or not he consciously pressures students into accepting his opinions is immaterial; such a class is bound to be a hostile environment for non-revisionists regardless. As for a favourable mention in a given text, well, I can play that game too; In Denial: Historians, Communism and Espionage lists him as one of many willing dupes aiding the whitewashing of communism's bloody contribution to history. I did not suggest he has no place teaching. As noted above, I'd much rather he be teaching than somehow influencing actual foreign policy; he can do much less damage teaching. He can engage in the nuances of conspiracy theory all he likes, and continue furthering the notion that thinking in such a way is essential to the study of history. I happen to disagree, as, apparently, do other instructors of 3000-level history courses I've experienced. The fact that there are such differences of opinion in teaching method and process suggest to me that Villa's are neither essential nor even particularly necessary. I assure you I've misrepresented nothing; if anything, I may have missed minor details to his "thought experiments" simply because they were too incomprehensible to quickly jot down in a coherent manner. The bottom line is that I found Villa's theories grating enough that no amount of personal charisma nor counterpoint from the textbook would make his class worth three hours of my time every week. I don't need to fight any battles over this, and I certainly don't need the added stress. I transferred out, and I think Prof. Villa would likely be happier that I did, if he's noticed or cared. I certainly am.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

So be it then, I'll play that game; I do not give a tinker's damn

Really, how far away is The Onion's take on Kitty Kelley from actual Democratic talking points?

A rash, irresponsible crime

Let me get this straight. Vandals have defaced NYC property with anti-Bush messages. These people are selling postcards of the vandalized property, and donating a portion of the proceeds to the Democratic Party and other lefty causes. Does no one see anything improper in this chain of events? Does this not explicitly encourage further anti-Bush vandalism in indirect aid of the DNC? Is it even clear that the postcard sellers themselves haven't committed this vandalism to hawk their wares? New York municipal funds are surely being spent to clean up the messes here; can buyers live with the fact that they're vicariously encouraging stretching municipal resources - money and man-hours that might otherwise be spent on a wholly nonpartisan park or community garden - for juvenile amusement? More than anything, a large part of the angry left really needs to grow the hell up, and think about the consequences that their actions can have. (Via BoingBoing.)

Feel like you're treading water, but the riptide's getting stronger

I think the best evidence that there's no Republican conspiracy behind the forged CBS memos is that everyone involved seems to be doing their damnedest to look like pompous idiots, not the embarassed hoodwinked. Any competent conspirator of Karl Rove's genius would have had events transpire far more believably; this way would seem sloppy, if there was conscious effort going into the narrative. I say this because Bill Burkett, who CBS has named as their source, now plans to sue the network (Drudge duplicates what's behind the New York Sun's subscriber wall, for some reason) for defamation of character and libel. Honestly, is there a better way to keep this story in the news for another month? With CBS' non-apology, it had a potential to die off until after the election (coincidentally, we promise!), whereupon internal investigations would reveal the extent of CBS' culpability. Now it might stay on page A2 or A3 of major papers as the DNC and angry left keep organizing their circular firing squad through the rest of the campaign, and no one - not Kerry's people, not CBS, not Burkett - is going to come out looking clean. Laying low would help Kerry's chances enormously by letting voters forget about any possible connections between a freelancing forger of a Bush-basher and the DNC. The reason why there's no conspiracy is simple: there's logically no need for one. Dan Rather and the Democratic Party are perfectly capable of looking like mudslinging fools without any outside assistance.

The donkey used to have his charm, but he's looking at us with alarm

I demand a certain level of internal consistency in my fiction. Not a lot, mind you. I’m not that anal. But even in a featherlight comedy, little things can add up to cause unnecessary distractions from the narrative. In the Father of the Pride universe, Donkey is noted to be the star of Shrek. No further explanation is given. Considering that the animals of the Sigfried & Roy compound perform as “themselves,” the logical implication is that Shrek, in this narrative, is a live-action film. (Possibly with Mike Myers performing in heavy, Fat Bastard-like prosthetics.) However, it seems to have been established that the animals of FotP cannot speak to humans. That means Donkey performing as himself – including voicework – is something of a quandary. Ditto the incongruence of Donkey compared to the other animals. All the normally-quadrupedal (and still-quadrupedal, when humans are around) ‘regular cast’ and extras – lions, tigers, cheetahs, antelopes, gazelles, gophers, et alia – are bipeds, in the privacy of their own little society behind the hotel. Donkey isn’t. They have names beyond just their species, which are instead treated as surnames; Donkey doesn’t. (His stunt double does, interestingly, in a plot point seemingly lifted from Bowfinger.) They’re stylistically anthropomorphized to the extent of lacking anatomically-correct species-specific secondary sexual characteristics. Donkey’s agent isn’t. Ew? I know I’m overanalyzing. This was ratings-grabbing synergistic fluff. But it bothers me nonetheless, because it points to a production staff that doesn’t respect their work’s basic premise enough to keep it even marginally consistent. (Or have been forced to ignore such concerns due to network pressure. Either way.) Consider The Simpsons and Futurama - in both shows, only the other is treated as fictional within their respective fictional universes. Homer didn’t make a smirky cameo as an ancient astronaut animatronic in the theme park ride “Whalers on the Moon,” nor has Fry inexplicably dropped by Springfield in some sort of flashback. You can be irreverent and silly, yet still respect your material enough to give it some kind of consistency. Failing to do so gives off a visible aura of desperation, clumsiness and opportunism. That half the purpose of the show seems to be providing a handy showcase for the trendy guest star of the week* does not inspire confidence in NBC. On the other hand, the B-plot this week was fairly clever, seeing Sigfried and Roy ridding Las Vegas of a non-gaudy, non-flashy, non-corporate restaurant, in a rather inspired and bizarre campaign of civic pride. And, finally, check it out: The portrait of Sarmoti by the door has disappeared. That’s what I mean by a lack of consistency. If the writers, animators or storyboard artists had confidence in that gag, the portrait should still be there, and that would be funny, as a continuing non sequitur in episodes long after its initial appearance. *I’m looking at you too, Will & Grace, at least since season 4. Scrubs, you’re definitely on notice. And Joey, just skip straight to nightly syndication, please? Crikey.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Pure disgrace, to work so cheap

The first time I signed up to volunteer for the Ottawa International Animation Festival was 2000; at the time, I was taking pre-college animation courses at the Ottawa School of Art, and volunteering for the festival was encouraged. I jumped at it, if only for the sole volunteer perk: a free pass to screenings (admission after all paying guests are seated, of course). Missing a few classes of life drawing in a room with desperately uncomfortable chairs, for an officially sanctioned reason, didn't hurt my opinion of the prospect either. Being still in high school at the time, I managed to talk my parents into letting me skip classes for the several weekdays the festival was on, and took in almost everything. The OIAF alternates years with SAFO, the Student Animation Festival of Ottawa; i.e., the big names only come to town every other year. I volunteered in 2001, as well, but the festival that year was so tiny, I wasn't even needed. (They didn't bother to ask for my screening pass back, though; there were so few attendees, not a single thing I saw filled the theatre more than halfway.) 2002 should have been a fantastic year to see everything again; at university, downtown, no more than six blocks from any of the screening venues, with an entirely-daytime class schedule, and between jobs, it would have been perfect. Unfortunately, I forgot to sign up in time, and ended up seeing only the Kricfalusi Retrospective at the NAC. 2003 didn't seem to have anything particularly interesting, and I'd just found a job for the school year, so I didn't bother even trying. This year, I'm in a rather uncomfortable position. I submitted my volunteer application back in June, when I received the first piece of official literature from the OIAF mailing list; at the time, I'd been laid off for what I thought would be an extremely temporary period. My plan was to keep up the okay-paying data entry job for the summer, saving enough to put off having to get a job for the school year until the actual start of the Christmas season; thus, I figured, I'd be able to fully participate again. And yet, the best-laid plans gang aft agley, and all that. I ended up finding a new job only by the end of August, which puts me in no position to ask for time off. I'd also, in order to take as many one-big-lecture-per-week courses as possible, arranged my schedule to attend classes mostly at night. I assumed, by the start of this month, I'd just have to forget doing anything at all at the festival, again. However, I forgot to call and withdraw my name from the volunteer pool, and was very much surprised to get an e-mail last week telling me what shifts I'd been randomly assigned; perhaps foolishly, I'd thought that failing to show up for the volunteer orientation-slash-shift signup meeting would cause the organizers to scratch me. I had to do some shuffling with the volunteer coordinator, but managed to at least get assigned some shifts that don't overlap with either work or class. I'd try to get out of it, but I don't like failing to fulfill professional obligations, especially voluntary ones. If the OIAF survives for any further length of time, which is right now somewhat iffy, I'd like to take another crack at seeing everything. I don't need a film festival mad at me. So, I'm working a total of nine hours for the festival. I'm getting a pass worth $195 at full price. I think I may have time to see two, or just maybe three screenings. At minimum wage, nine hours is worth roughly $55 after tax. Individual tickets for screenings cost $10 at the door. Which is to say, I'm not coming out of the deal very well this year. Such is life.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Let him promise to atone, let him shiver, let him moan; I'll slam the door and let the hell-cat freeze

CBS finally offers a non-apology apology for Memogate, and it's not very impressive: "I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers," [Rather] said. "We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry," Rather added. Too little, too late! Do you even understand the gravity of what you did? You explicitly tried to influence a presidential election with libelous forged documents. This is not a situation that calls for the passive voice and timid admission of innocent mistake. "We are partisan and we lied to you in aid of the Kerry campaign" would be accurate, if not fully conveying the disgusting hypocrisy and foolishness of CBS' actions in the past week and a half. Oh, and on being "misled," Dan? There's a thing that reporters used to do, when they weren't entirely press flacks for the DNC - independently verify sources. If CBS initially did anything of the sort, rather than accepting the word of Bill Burkett (and his yet-unknown supposed third-party sources) as the gospel truth - and then attempting to add a gloss of legitimacy thereto with the partial and misrepresentative opinions of hand-picked experts - it's news to me.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

For what's the sound of the world out there?

I realize reality TV hit the Just Plain Wrong barrier (and catapulted over it with aplomb) some time ago, but I think this is still a pretty good reason to long for the era of the all-sitcom network schedule. (Via TV Tattle.)

If you think that what you've done is right, well then, you're a fool; think again

Brian on useful idiots seen in a trailer for the Fahrenheit 9/11-refuting Celsius 41.11: Ah, the old free-health-care-and-literacy argument in favor of socialist dictators everywhere. People love 'em because the socialist part is so attractive that it makes them forget all about the dictator part. The promise of free admittance into hospitals and universities excuses all else. Isn't it amazing how cheaply some people are willing to sell their humanity? Not really. But I think the key to that lies not in their lacking understanding of the brutal day-to-day existence of those living under socialist dictatorship; it's a delusion that they wouldn't be among the oppressed. In the same way that those who believe in reincarnation seem never to imagine past lives where they were anything but great kings or conquerors, or that everyone would like to think they'd have a useful skill to contribute to a post-apocalyptic society, I suspect these fools assume that in the socialist paradise they long for, they'd be in charge, or at least not on the bottom rung of society. Loyalty to the party ideal and shared hatred for the regime's enemies should count for something, right? Nothing bad will happen to those with the best of intentions and the "correct" ideas, surely? But on the other hand, the fact that Park Avenue hippies don't pack up and move to Cuba (or pre-war Iraq, or North Korea, or Burma, or any of a number of other socialist hellholes) is also telling. They know that here is much better than there, if perhaps not on a conscious level; the uncomfortable suspicion that they, with their Fair Trade coffee and eco-friendly hemp sandals and naturally-dyed hand-woven sarapes (crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of...wherever), would be reduced to the same level of oppression as the meanest peon overwhelms feeling the need to actually do anything to escape the supposed iniquities of the American system. So, not only are they frighteningly amoralistic, but they're also hypocritically amoralistic. That's a neat trick to pull off, but it doesn't exactly help their credibility.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

To hear the sound of laughter, and mix with hungry actors

Wouldn't it have been nice if Nobody's Baby had decided to embark upon an acting career before racking up a huge pension and irritating large swathes of the country for twenty years? And she's not even doing something worthwhile, either. Now, Lady Macbeth, or Eva Peron, I'd pay good money to see her portray. (Via Damian Penny.)

Look at all the captivating, fascinating things

I sense a trail of retreat being laid in this breakdown of polling differences between men and women. ANOTHER gender gap has appeared, this time on a poll testing men's and women's knowledge of issues in the presidential campaign. On the eight-question quiz administered to 1,845 adults, men were more likely on every question to give the right answer. [...] "Reporters' obsession with the horse race rather than the substance of politics is likely to be more of interest to men, who pay more attention to sports than women," [analyst Kate Kenski] said. That theory seems to jibe with the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, which found that men were more likely, by 56 percent to 49 percent, to say they were paying "a lot" of attention to the presidential campaign. Oddly enough, though, women were more likely, by 72 percent to 62 percent, to describe the campaign as interesting, although that might be because they are tuning out the stuff about Social Security and taxes. If Bush wins, will liberal pundits use the conclusion subtly set up here - that female voters were brainwashed by emotional rhetoric - as a new catchall excuse? It seems awfully arrogant and a bit sexist in my mind to assume that women "should" be more concerned about Social Security and taxation issues than, say, terrorism. Even odder, perhaps, was the gender gap on a question in the Times poll asking whether Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Twenty-nine percent of men said he was, versus 47 percent women, putting them 18 points ahead - or maybe that should be considered behind. The Times hasn't definitively proved that Saddam wasn't tenuously involved, right? Maybe the poll respondees are just applying the new CBS standard of evidence.

If you see it once, you’ll never be the same again

Poor Rob Lowe. As if trying to anchor a brand-new show on the All-Spin, All The Time network in a terrible Friday night timeslot wasn't enough, it's Rob freakin' Lowe. He used to be good. Or at least enough of a counterbalance on West Wing for Martin Sheen, which is largely the same thing. The Lyon's Den, and now Dr. Vegas...what's left? Come this time next year, I fear we'll see a wacky Lowe-centric cop drama. Possibly in an offbeat vacation destination, but probably not. Either way, this isn't a good omen for any TV career.

But using words less dignified

The Ottawa Citizen has a fantastic editorial today explaining why they dare to use the term terrorist (oddly enough) to describe terrorists: [The CBC and some wire services] argue that "terrorist" is a subjective term, laden with too much emotion, and that the imperative to be impartial prohibits journalists from using it. We reject the argument. Terrorism is a technical term. It describes a modus operandi, a tactic. We side with security professionals who define terrorism as the deliberate targeting of civilians in pursuit of a political goal. Those who bombed the nightclub in Bali were terrorists. Suicide bombers who strap explosives to their bodies and blow up people eating in a pizza parlour are terrorists. The men and women who took a school full of hostages in Beslan, Russia, and shot some of the children in the back as they tried to flee to safety were terrorists. We as journalists do not violate our impartiality by describing them as such. It's nice to see a paper, casually anti-American and foolishly left in other ways as it might be, remember what's important. CBC has the argument in favour of moral equivocation: The global managing editor for Reuters, David Schlesinger, called the changes unacceptable. He said that CanWest crossed a line from editing for style, to editing the substance and slant of news from the Middle East. "If they want to put their own judgment into it, they're free to do that, but then they shouldn't say that it's by a Reuters reporter," said Schlesinger. Frankly, it would improve my opinion of Reuters significantly were I to notice them appropriately using the world 'terrorist.' Which, I suppose, makes this story one of those things that works out for everyone: We're reminded that Reuters is, institutionally, (at best) unappealingly amoral, and perhaps even rooting for the other side. For some reason, they just think that's a good thing.

Just a cursory look at the blueprints here, shows the weaknesses that we have missed

An unlikely Canadian media outlet is pretty downbeat on Kerry's chances: Washington — Rearranging the deck chairs on his sputtering swift boat, Senator John Kerry has shaken up his political backrooms and reached out for help from Clinton-era political operatives to boost his campaign for the U.S. presidency. Excuse me? This is the Globe & Mail saying this? The newspaper that may as well belong, lock, stock and barrel, to the Liberal Party? The nuance-loving, Bush-hating leader of Canadian journalism thinks Kerry is probably doomed? Nice. It's always fun to see snobby apparatchiks disillusioned.

Friday, September 17, 2004

This common crowd is much too loud

Union goons are now intimidating little girls in support of the Democratic candidate? What is this, 1904? (Via LGF.)

Quite alive you find me; this tomb behind me, is where I faced my closest shave

Apropos of nothing, I predict a punk (or possibly alt-rock) group named "Ottawa Modified Death" will play either Barrymore's or Zaphod's within the year.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Telling me lies before my eyes

A thought occurred to me in the lecture for Nazi Germany tonight. The term paper topic for the class is a wide-open free choice, subject to convincing the prof there's a cogent argument to be made with one's thesis. Is there any good reason why I shouldn't attempt to write something comparing Fahrenheit 9/11 to Triumph of the Will? So help me, I can't think of one. Except, as Alwyn noted, that would mean I'd actually have to watch more Moore than I've already endured in the past. That's a pretty good reason, actually.

Some palazzo, like an abandoned movie set

Poor...well, everyone, really. Wonderland is a second-tier regional amusement park - and not much of one, at that. For the park to exhibit "two 10-foot walls covered with the 264 script covers," among other Frasier memorabilia, for the last (sparsely-attended) month of the 2004 season, is just embarassing for everyone involved. But, on the whole, it's probably less smacking of "See, we're Disneyland North, just like we told our investors in the mid-70s" desperation than the fully-costumed Klingons roaming the park. (Via TV Tattle.)

If you have clothing, forsake it

I realize that Teresa Heinz-Kerry's statements on the priorities for hurricane relief donations are accurate, and that uncontaminated water and food are needed far more desperately in disaster-stricken areas than clothes. "Let them go naked" is a strange statement to make, regardless. It has unpleasant echoes of Marie Antoinette, especially coming from someone whose public image is similarly haughty and elitist. But more than that, it's just plain weird. Has she slipped her official handlers from the campaign again?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

That accounts for your respectful, polite, despicable behavior

Tonight, I attended the first lecture of HIS 3314, History of WWII. Five minutes ago, I dropped it. I have never heard such reprehensible gibberish in person, let alone from a tenured professor. I thought I'd seen reactionary, anti-American, anti-Bush madness in classes before; I was wrong. I should have counted myself lucky to only hear an occasional offensive joke, rather than a bizarre conspiracy theory dressed up in the pretense of a coherent lesson. Professor Brian Villa announced in the first five minutes of class his pride in being a revisionist historian, which really should have tipped me off that in the rest of the lecture laid only horror. He started out with recounting one of his earliest memories. His father was a civil servant in a Latin American country (which, he didn't mention), and he claims to remember, at the age of three, watching a late-arriving newsreel in his local movie theatre showing American forces liberating the death camps of Germany. Not thirty seconds later, he outlined his overarching philosophy: War is always wrong and never justified, not even to stop genocide. I cannot comprehend what kind of amoral excuse a rational person could make in coming to such a conclusion. That alone makes him an equivocating monster, in my book, but it got worse. He has "unconventional" theories, you see - theories he freely admits are based only upon his personal opinions, and without any factual proof, but are (believe him!) true, regardless. I was reminded of Dan Rather, but even Dan Rather has never tried to make leaps of logic as loopy as these. These were the most lunatic conspiracy theories I've ever heard. Not only, in his mind, did FDR know about Pearl Harbor (I'm inclined to believe he didn't), but also told all his generals, in order to warn them not to attack Japanese forces until after he'd spoken to Congress. (There had to be a short period of confusion and anger to build support for declaring war, you see.) WWI, to Villa, was a conspiracy of the great powers to oppress Germany. Both FDR and Winston Churchill personally plotted, throughout the 20s and 30s, to cause another war. Pearl Harbor was justified by racist immigration policies in California (!). And those don't include the tenuously plausible theories, such as that Edward VIII wasn't really pro-Nazi, but just part of a strategic ploy to cause Germany to assume British neutrality, or that Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement was actually a clever means of stalling to build up British forces. At some point, the mind just boggles. Then it turned to outrage, as he proceeded from the 'FDR purposely let Pearl Harbor happen to build support for war' concept to a laughter- and applause-gathering implication of "Know anything like that that's happened recently in the US?" I mean, Lordy, I thought I'd avoid loons like this if I didn't take any Poli-Sci courses. The one thing I'll say for him is that he doesn't appear to be anti-Semitic. That's something, I suppose. Lunatic conspiracy theorists don't often miss placing the Jooooos somewhere near the heart of imagined evil geopolitical machinations. I've never walked out of a class, but I wanted to tonight. Not just that, though; I wanted to punch this hateful and withered old wretch in the face on the way out, too. I did neither. I'm not that kind of person. But I did pack up and leave as soon as he called a break. The only thing that fits in my schedule to replace that class is a survey course on Early Modern Europe, which isn't my cup of tea at all. I picked it up anyway. No matter how dull, it's still better than the meeting of the tinfoil hat club that's going on down the hall. UPDATE 9/24: More here.

Put your faith in books, and a mind of your own

This term, I've been experimenting with buying as many textbooks as I can used, through Amazon Marketplace sellers; there's some fantastic deals to be had even compared to the used price of the student federation bookstore, especially in denser tomes. It helps, though, to order far in advance, as some sellers can take two to three weeks to ship. At the other end of the scale, however, there's sometimes not a great deal of advantage in going this route. On Monday night, I ordered Walk Two Moons from one such seller; it's one of the few texts I needed for Children's Lit that either I didn't have already, or couldn't just load the public-domain ebook thereof on my PDA. The price was $2.50 Canadian, plus $6.49 shipping. Amazon's own price is $7.99, true, but apparently it's a special order title for them, as the shipping date is 4 to 6 weeks. As I'll need to have read the book by midterms, that didn't help much, so I decided $8.99 total seemed fair. (And worth it, rather than waste time hiking over to Benjamin Books, the tiny and inconvenient extra-university store where the prof had actually ordered the title.) I received the book in today's mail. Entirely by accident, I'd managed to randomly pick a seller in Ottawa, and intra-city mail is only one day. I do feel a bit silly having paid so much for shipping, considering that, however. The moral, I suppose, is that it seems any assigned text under $40 or so won't be available for much of a discount used; above that - such as for this $63, 1200-page leviathan, which I got for $18 including shipping - it's very much worth it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

You never want to argue with a chorus line

Because I've got nothing better to talk about at the moment, the most recent entry in a recurring series: Tonight's episode of Father of the Pride entertained me substantially more than last week's. It seems now to be settling into a comfortable standard sitcom mode, with randomly bizarre non sequiturs actually accompanied by genuine humour. The plot was utterly pedestrian and telegraphed miles ahead - parents find drugs in teen's room, freak out, punish teen, later accidentally take the selfsame drugs, embarass teen, everyone learns a Very Special Lesson - but I have to admit I was giggling at the elaborately written faux-street slang involved in the trafficking and use of catnip. (Or, in common parlance, just plain "nip.") One caveat, however, is the show's portrayal of catnip as a cipher for marijuana. My position on drug policy is very hard-line, and I dislike po-mo ironic Reefer Madness treatment of the subject; I think it's irresponsible to encourage use by normalization of the notion and ridicule of critics thereof. But that's a minor complaint, and certainly reading a bit too much into deliberate edginess. Especially when the crisis' denouement reveals the true niphead to be Dirty Old Grandpa. Also, the geeklions. The geeklion chorus amused me heartily. The Sigfried and Roy plotline this episode was completely unrelated, and saw them making an utterly incomprehensible field trip to a local 7-11 to buy Big Gulps. I'd say the overt in-show product placement is unpleasantly grasping, but next week's episode features Donkey of Shrek fame making a guest appearance, which promises to be either even worse - or, alternately (but much less likely), brilliant. So I'm back to a solid enh, overall. It could be better, but it could also be much worse, too.

Fine Print

The explanation of precisely why CBS' Bush-bashing documents are unquestionably forged is now arriving at the point where even my eyes are glazing over with the minute technicalities of typography, and I usually enjoy that sort of thing. I'll say this, though: Intimidatingly thorough details concerning impossibilities for the technology of the time are a lot more convincing than wild obfuscations about improbable possibilities of the same. (Via LGF.)

You’re a gentleman and a scholar

This bothers me, in the same way that any affirmative action program bothers me: It's justifying the further production of inequality in attempt to remedy inequality. "I had someone to call and say, `I got three A-pluses at one of the world's greatest educational institutions,' and have that be validated by people who aren't saying, `'Well, you got three A-pluses, but you're gay so it doesn't count," Schell said. Homophobes who would deny an applicant access to scholarship funds merely for the fact of being gay are unquestionably reprehensible; I don't think many would challenge that, nowadays. But to enact the opposite is just as bad. It's like saying 'You got three A-pluses, but you're gay, so it counts for as much as four A-pluses from a straight student.' Why is this relevant at all? The mere fact of being who you are isn't worthy of admiration or special treatment, no matter what the racial, social, cultural or physiological conditions in play. Grades and accomplishments should be all any scholarship organization cares about. That makes this claim all the more confusing: Sexual orientation alone usually is not enough to get these scholarships. Success against the odds, scholastic aptitude, extracurricular activities and leadership also are needed to qualify -- the same qualities philanthropists have always sought to celebrate by endowing college scholarships. If sexual orientation alone isn't the deciding factor, why is it necessary to restrict the pool of otherwise-qualified applicants? I'm not against rewarding perseverance and leadership skills. I just think doing it in this manner is divisive, and wrongly justifies separate standards for different people on utterly inconsequential grounds. It's not strictly affirmative action, true; for it to be so, schools themselves would have to be making the decision to set a quota for admitting X number of LBGTQ students every year. But it's coming from a similar mindset that seems to be uncomfortably obsessed with what types of victimhood any particular person can claim, rather than only what gender-, sexuality- and race-neutral accomplishments they can be proud of. Equality of opportunity is the most fair and just goal for which we should strive. (Via Drudge.)

O hallowed halls and vine-draped walls

I've now been to three of my five classes this term. Thoughts on each: ENG 2110, Children's Literature. I took this to continue my acquisition of offbeat English credits; I don't much care for Canlit, Elizabethan poetry, or the like, but I find genre classes fascinating. (Previously taken: Fantasy, Myth and Language and Early Celtic Lit.) The only problem is that the prof has assigned nine books plus another handful of online sources, for the fairy tale portion of the course. I don't mind the volume, which isn't that much anyway, considering the length of each work - but the books are still about $12-15 apiece, which I resent. Luckily, I already have a couple of the works, and all the classics are available as etexts anyway. ENG 2140, Literature and Film. Ottawa doesn't offer many courses of this type, which is why an introduction to film theory is pigeonholed into the English department. Though I hadn't noticed any notes to the effect in any course calendar or the online course registration system, it's not just a survey course - it's entirely and magnificently dedicated to the interrelationship between Film Noir and detective novels of the 1940s and 50s. The first class was mostly set aside for watching Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, interspersed with commentary. I'd never seen this particular part of his oeuvre, and it was mildly disconcerting (though, at the same time, somewhat thrilling) to see Joseph Cotten playing a genuine villain, in the form of the charmingly murderous Uncle Charlie. The class seems promising, and fun, but the recommended textbooks come to $130 - and one of them is only used for about forty pages total, in several short essays. I can't abide paying $80 for that. I've put a copy on hold at the library; when it comes in, I'll photocopy what I need, which shouldn't cost more than $10 or so. HIS 3330, Nazi Germany. I wasn't even aware of this class until last-minute schedule shuffling; the course code is one set aside for various "Special Topics," from year to year, and I hadn't thought to check the content. Regardless, I'm glad I found it. I firmly believe the current growth of violent anti-Semitism throughout Europe and the Middle East is a mirror image of everything that's come before. Islamofascists are Hitler's ideological heirs in all but name. The term paper for this class is a free choice, and I'm very much considering heading that direction in my argument. As the cliche goes, those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and I think it's a good sign that a 3000-level course (usually smaller, discussion-group size) filled an entire medium lecture hall. However, that in initial discussion of the topic, one student seemed to be treading towards the moral equivalence of "The Holocaust wasn't that important, compared to genocide in Rwanda," and another all but implied Nazis are unfairly demonized because of Those Whiny Jews - well, I think others may be approaching the subject matter from entirely different angles than myself. Best of all, however, these three classes have take-home exams. Even if the last two don't, that's still helpful; I appreciate not having to memorize and regurgitate an entire textbook and lecture notes for a traditional exam. It's not necessarily indicative of understanding to be able to do that. I test well either way, which is most of what saved my mark in New France, last year, after handing in a final mark-sinking term paper that argued precisely against the prof's pet theories of a free, just and happy French Colonial society. (To be fair, it wasn't fantastic in the first place, but that's neither here nor there.) As long as my other two classes don't have inordinately heavy workloads, this term should be reasonably panic-free.

Monday, September 13, 2004

I try to blame it on fortune, some kind of twist in my fate

God Bless Matt Drudge. No sooner do DNC operatives threaten a truly asinine and idiotic attack campaign on Bush's service record than does Drudge produce documentation to the contrary, simply and effectively discrediting the only new claim therein. Now that's reporting. If only multi-billion-dollar news networks were able to accomplish as much with documentary evidence as one dedicated, scare-headline-writing wonk.

But sit down in that chair right there, and let me show you how it's done

Zell Miller has a followup to his boffo RNC speech: My critics in the national media are working overtime trying to paint me as an angry nut who got the facts all wrong in my speech to the Republican National Convention. Since there's not enough time to challenge all of these critics to a duel, let me set the record straight here and now. Sweet Zombie Jesus, I want to vote for this man. The rest is less fiery, but it backs up his righteous rage admirably - and puts the shameful cries of racism from his opponents to the lie. Read the rest, as it's said.

What an exhibition of self-delusion

Two things about your story on Al Gore, AP: 1. I know you mean "raising hell for John Kerry" in the sense of 'speaking on behalf of,' not 'creating problems for.' I believe you may be sadly mistaken. 2. Yikes. Was that the best shot the photographer could get? He's starting to let himself go again, just like after 2000. Doughiness and wild hair are bad signs for Democratic fortunes.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Hey, come on get involved, until the mystery is solved

Teletoon aired the first live-action Scooby-Doo movie tonight. Isn't that a direct contravention of their programming mandate?

There's a fine, fine line

Drudge reports the DNC and Kerry campaign haven't learned a thing from the last month. As always with Drudge, interesting if true: The coordinated nationwide effort this week by the DNC has been code-named "Project Fortunate Son." "George Bush has a clear pattern of lying about his military service," DNC Communications Director Jano Cabrera blasts in the new release. "From 1978 to the present day, George Bush has refused to tell voters the truth about his service. It's time for the President to come clean." "Flyers distributed to Texas voters during Bush's failed Congressional race say 'he served in the U.S. Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard.' But according to Air Force officials, Air National Guardsmen are not counted as members of the active-duty Air Force." This is your brilliant new strategy? Point out that flyers distributed for a race in 1978 made a technical error in Bush's bio? Even if it wasn't just the fault of some random staffer ignorant of the official distinction between the Air National Guard corps and the USAF proper, who cares? He lost that race. I have no idea about his campaign for the Texas gubernatorial election, but in 2000, he didn't run in the primaries or the presidential election on the basis of his military service. He didn't, unlike some people we have the misfortune of knowing, attempt to make that sevice the single selling point of his campaign. If the DNC is counting on potential Bush supporters to be outraged that an Air National Guardsman was (perhaps accidentally, perhaps purposely) referred to as a member of the Air Force in campaign literature twenty-six years ago, they're more out of touch than I thought. Try harder, guys. It's not going to be much fun watching this kind of lame jackassery for another month and a half.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

We all know the day it changes, is the day we all should blow this town

Alwyn has a better point-by-point dissection of Teletoon's latest Telefilm Canada-funded original series than I care to bother with. Let it suffice to say that Delta State is perhaps the most awful government-aided production ever to air on this channel. The animation is interestingly stylized Flash work, and not half bad, either - but not fantastic enough to make up for an utterly confusing premise. What's that old chestnut about 'good enough for government work,' again?

Think of the effort, trying to get him to heighten his sights

Damn it, CBS. I know you pride yourselves on having come up with the fact that it's possible (if improbable as a solution to the quandary) for a typewriter capable of creating the infamous documents to have existed in 1972. Maybe you think that gives you an out for having fallen for fakes on a point of somewhat technical forensic evidence. But isn't checking on actual, verifiable facts therein - like exactly what George H.W. Bush was doing at the time - something professional journalists are supposed to be good at? Did no one at all think to cross-check dates in the self-contained, self-sustaining Bush AWOL hypothesis with objective historical evidence? Jeebus.


The below has been percolating in my head for two and a half years now. It’s not unique. It’s not profound. But it’s mine. I remember everything. My high school had (and still has, as far as I know) a rotating class schedule. On the morning of September 11, my first class was a single period of OAC Economics. On such days, Mr. Remigio wouldn’t bother teaching a lesson, but instead direct the class to pick stocks for an ongoing portfolio exercise. At least, that was the claim; it became, to no one’s surprise, about five minutes of scanning the Business section, and forty-five of playing cards, last-minute studying, writing, and anything else typical of teenage kibitzing. About halfway through the class, someone who’d been out in the hall and talking to friends with a radio mentioned some vaguely-defined newsworthy event CNN was covering. Intrigued, I returned to my fantasy portfolio, and bought a huge block of AOL Time Warner – in retrospect, a bad decision. Or it would have been, if real money had been involved. Economics ended, and I went off to my next class, a double period of Visual Art. I remember an odd buzz of conversation in the halls as I made my way between wings; something about a plane crash. I arrived, as usual, first among the small class. OAC Art was populated mainly by those who actually intended to make some sort of career with their creative skills, and I hadn’t yet determined that mine probably weren’t spectacular enough to rise above professional mediocrity. Mr. Young had rolled out the room’s TV cart, and was attempting to pick up a signal; however, despite the art room being on the second floor, in a building atop a small hill, with huge picture windows facing local transmission towers in the Gatineau Hills, he was having no luck. I scrounged a roll of copper wire last used for making armatures in plaster sculptures, wrapped it around the aluminum pole used for opening the clerestory windows, and rigged up a makeshift whip antenna. On touching the copper lead to the old TV’s coaxial plug, we instantly had a crystal-clear signal from CJOH. By this point, the rest of the class had arrived, and were anxiously waiting for the antenna to be connected. Rumours travel fast in any institution, not least a high school, and everyone looked worried and nervous. I was the last one there to see the screen, preoccupied for another moment behind the TV, taping the wire in place. I remember seeing the looks of horror on the others’ faces, before I saw the reason why. And I remember the first time I saw Flight 11 go down. It was 10:01. We sat transfixed. Shots of every angle possible played over and over again. The local anchors occasionally interjected with stunned mumblings, but for the most part they were content to switch off to the major network feeds. I saw the flames, the smoke, the death; and I saw Palestinians goddamn fucking dancing in the streets. You know, I was trying to be reasonably impartial, to that point, on the whole Middle East thing. Both Israel and Palestine have historical claims to the land. I like to think I'm a reasonable person, who can see both sides of an issue. But then one side goes and does something like cheering for massive acts of terrorism. I will never support a state for these barbaric troglodytes, who laugh and sing and hand out candy at the murder of innocents; on that day, I wouldn’t have minded if Israel had napalmed the lot of them. I've returned to being far more reasonable since, but I'm still inclined to give Israel a pretty free hand in doing whatever they need to in order to prevent terrorism. Of everything about 9/11 that still makes me absolutely furious, the response of the Arab world is pretty damn high up on the list. Eager for more detailed information, I tried to get something out of CNN, Fox News, MSNBC et al’s websites from the old iMac in the back corner of the room. Of course, network traffic was choked dead. Lunch was quiet. I remember what I said to my friends, sitting on the stairwell landing outside the Math wing as we usually did. It was seared (Bite me, Lurch) in my mind moments after sitting down at that cold plastic desk in room 220 to witness the evil for which Islamofascism is solely responsible: “This is it. This is our Pearl Harbor. This is what will define our entire generation.” Obvious, sure. But at the time, it seemed profound. We were supposed to be living at the End of History. This was supposed to be a time of post-modern internal struggle, for a kinder and gentler great civilization. We were supposed to get the TNG future, not the B5 one. It now seems a million years ago that vapid pop-anarcho-nihilism like Fight Club lamented “We are the middle children of history, with no purpose or place. We have no great war, or great depression.” But that’s not what happened. I remember even at on that lunch period, some tried to dismiss the day’s importance. One of the group made an incredibly tasteless joke, and we all castigated him for it. Strangely enough, I don’t even remember what the joke was, now – it just made me think of an old two-page piece from Mad Magazine from the early 90s, predicting humourous idiocies of The Future – “In the future, no more than fifteen minutes will pass between a major tragedy and the first tasteless joke about it.” Accompanied, coincidentally, by a tiny cartoon of a plane crashing into a building, and one onlooker attempting to ask another if he’d “heard the one about the plane crashing into the building” yet. Prescience is a funny thing, you know? It pops up in the most unlikely of places. I had co-op in the afternoons that term. It was still early in the term, however, and placements hadn’t yet been made; the first few weeks were instead meant for orientation, career advice, and the like. I didn’t even interview for the position in an MP’s office I’d continue to hold in a different capacity until this June, until mid-September, if I remember correctly. During lunch period, there’d been a general staff meeting. All teachers had been told to stop allowing students to watch TV or listen to the radio; in aid of what, I’m not sure, as everyone knew by then. It was a long afternoon, trying to concentrate on anything but the Now. When I got home, CNN was hyperventilating over unexplained explosions in Kabul, and there was speculation a surprise US strike had already been mounted – until an hour later, when they realized that it was normal riots and civil unrest, for Afghanistan. I don’t remember much more after that. I was glued to the TV all night, and for most of the next month, just like everyone else. But I remember being angry. I remember being incredibly thankful that Al Gore wasn’t president. And I remember how George W. Bush, as CNN plugged in their promos for the next two years, found his voice in the flames. That 8:30 address on the night of September 11, 2001 was magnificent. But I was still angry. I was so angry I was tempted to watch Titus Andronicus after Bush's address, for the sake of righteous rage and revenge. September 11 changed everything. Three years on, people seem to be forgetting that. Who didn’t get a terrible, sick, sinking feeling a few months later, on November 12? It seemed all too possible another attack could happen at any second. On a more personal level, it changed me. For most of my politically-aware life, I’ve leaned right – but 9/11 pushed me a lot further right. I liked Liddy Dole in the 2000 GOP Primaries. I rooted for Bush in 2000, but only half-heartedly, and mainly because he annoyed all the right people. Then he became magnificent. Not the best wartime president ever, true – but Lincoln and FDR raised the bar so high, I don’t know that anyone could match them now. He is the leader John Kerry could never be, and I’d follow him to hell and back. I wanted to be an animator, for a long time. I enjoy animation, cartooning, graphic design, and the like; I’m still an obsessive geek about it. With more practice, I probably could have achieved something more than the aforementioned professional mediocrity. But after 9/11, it seemed petty; a poor use of my skills. I’m not particularly athletic. I’d make a terrible soldier or police officer. But I can read, and analyze, and argue. I can research and evaluate. I can make an impassioned defense of the right, the just, and the good. More importantly, I can do these things quite a bit better than I can draw. Now, my goal is to become a lawyer, a prosecuting attorney; I doubt my hands on a rifle would help the current war one way or the other, but I can fight evil in my own way. I want to help punish those who would, given the chance, destroy civilization as we know it - petty criminals as much as international terrorists. I suppose that’s a bit maudlin and silly; I don’t care. There are worse things in life than being serious and resolute. I’m still angry. Every person who claims to stand with civilization rather than theocratic barbarism should still be angry. Just being who I am and believing what I do, I count for at least four or five of the reasons al-Qaeda and their ilk use to justify mass murder. I don’t plan to favour any action that would give them a better shot at me or anyone else, now or ever. There can be no compromise with terror, no live-and-let-live. I don’t care who that policy might make feel uncomfortable. It has now been three years since war was declared upon the entire world – but predominantly the United States of America – by the enemies of freedom and civilization. Never forget. Never forgive.

And my poor frayed nerves are all askew

Today's going to be agony. I know there have been no terror alerts in the last week, and no one's been saying anything about new attacks on this anniversary of 9/11 except in idle speculation. Still, I get nervous. I worry. Waiting for the other shoe to drop isn't fun. I hope nothing will happen. I really do.

Yes, life's pretty cheap to that type

I'm disappointed but not particularly surprised that CBS has chosen to dig in their heels at the preponderance of evidence (heh) against their documents, but their tone is something else altogether: We find your lack of faith disturbing. How dare you question Ra-Ther, God of Journalism! But that's fine, I suppose. The other networks can scramble to pile on CBS for the double bonus of higher ratings and increased credibility by comparison; plus, the eventual meltdown will be all the more messy and embarassing. The damage has been done, and no amount of spin about the possibility of existence of superscript type-balls in 1971 for a particularly rare and expensive model of cold-type-setting machine will make this story go away. More reprehensible by far in the grander scheme of things, however, is putting words in the mouth of a dead man; he can't defend himself, and his family's disavowal of the memos was ignored completely by the Lord of the Spin. That's just low. How many reputations and lives will the anti-Bush media ruin in their mad quest to take down a president?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Like an ordinary fool

Hah. As I see it, this is a win-win-win situation. Assuming the documents are forged, which looks all but assured at the moment, several things will likely happen. Dan Rather will have to apologize. Of course any reporter hates to be made to look like a fool, but if Bernard Goldberg's excellent Bias is anything near accurate, Rather's been in need of serious humbling for a long while now. His self-image is that of a superhuman journo-deity, and no one has dared to remind him of his own human falliability for years. Furthermore, this (fairly or not) calls into question the veracity of any further Bush-National Guard smears. The public at large may not have the acute sense for detecting bias that the blogosphere as a whole does, but this is going to leave a mark; future Bush-bashing is going to be perceived, even with verifiable evidence, as fruit of the poisoned tree. Finally, if this was a Karl Rove sucker-punch (and I seriously doubt it - why take the risk?), you bloody well deserved it. Anyone whose authentication process for thirty-year-old documents involves not a single forensic expert (Update 11) shouldn't be surprised if those documents are all-but-confirmed to be fraudulent within 12 hours. However, there is one possible situation I can imagine where Rove or his underlings may have done this, and they can admit it cleanly: Point to the fools who fell for it. "It was a test," they can say, "to see if the supposed objectivity of CBS News could withstand the temptation of such juicy dirt. A bunch of amateurs concluded these documents were sloppy fakes in the space of a single day; what's Dan Rather's excuse?" And, indeed, he has none. I will be happy to see his credibility - and that of the mainstream media at large - suffer, as they're revealed for the partisan hacks they are.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

But how on earth can someone even half as civilized and nice as you, be part of such a self-destructive point of view?

How bad does the media want Bush to lose? So badly they're willing to let their credibility go down in flames with the farce of incriminating forged documents. Congratulations, CBS; now go back to scare stories about crooked nursing homes. How dare you call yourselves unbiased? Or decent human beings, even? If there was ever a sign that the media establishment as we now know it needed to be humbled, this is it. Now, the question is: What will their response be? If, next week, 60 Minutes performed a major act of contrition - acknowledging their bias, accepting that the desperate hatred CBS' so-called news operation has for George Bush led them to get incredibly sloppy, and promising to actually become real journalists again - I think I'd have a great deal of respect for that. But it seems unlikely. Being honest isn't as important to these hacks as being "right." Geez, I go out grocery shopping for a few hours, and look what I miss...

The Road to Wellville

So Kerry wants to create a "Department of Wellness." Is this putting anyone else in mind of Dennis "Tinfoil Hat" Kucinich's "Department of Peace?" Not content with borrowing platform points from the most popular loon in the primaries, the Kerry campaign is now reading from the playbook of the most unelectable loon. Are there any adults running this show at all? (Via Instapundit.)

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

You say "Hi, Bunny," and he stops for you

Wow. Nifty. Greg the Bunny was one of those delightfully quirky Fox sitcoms that seemed to be picked up by the network for the express purpose of cancelling it, in an elaborate means of spiting viewers. I'm happy to see it back, if only for a single special episode. (Via TV Tattle.)

So be wary of whom you accuse

Day two of the great Globe & Mail experiment, and already I'm getting neck-twitchingly peeved. The headline of this front-of-section article is "The plague that haunts us still." What plague, pray tell? Sexual harassment. Look, you hypersensitive whiners: Sexual harassment is not a plague. SARS and TB are plagues. AIDS and Hepatitis C are plagues. Polio and Smallpox were plagues. Sexual harassment in the workplace is unequivocally wrong, but there are things far more worthy of being stuck with the connotations of the word 'plague'. Sexual harassment may be uncomfortable and painful, but it does not kill or maim. Not that you'd know it from the breathless tone of the article, of course: Incredible as it may seem, sexual harassment still occurs frequently in Canadian workplaces -- despite years of effort to eliminate it. In fact, the number of complaints filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and its counterparts in several provinces is increasing. That is in spite of prohibitions in human-rights codes and policies in many workplaces that specify unwanted sexual contact, innuendo or comments will not be tolerated. Now, the conclusion I'd draw from that is that this particular industry of victimhood needs to propagate further awareness of and lower standards for victimhood in order to survive; it's no less a baseless moral panic than fears of the Yellow Peril. Increased numbers aren't necessarily indicative of increased incidence of sexual harassment, but perhaps of women increasingly being granted the right to define anything a man does in a work environment which they dislike as harassment, by a highly subjective standard. There are clear-cut cases of sexual harassment, true - but there are also horror stories of careers ruined by flimsy and baseless accusations. Erring on the side of innocent-until-proven-guilty isn't the personal insult the victimhood industry thinks it is.

And that map of yours just ain't no Valentine

Wonkette, in a fit of pique, has revealed the real story behind the Kerry campaign shake-up. Heh.

True, the gun was never fired

One more thing about Father of the Pride last night that bothered me: This. This appears to be a portrait of Sarmoti standing in front of the door...hanging on the wall, next to where Sarmoti is in fact standing in front of the door. That's...odd. That's not funny enough on the face of it to be consciously intended as humourous, and not bizarre enough to be weird for weird's sake in an Escheresque infinite recursion. It simply doesn't work as a background. The portrait is a Chekhov's gun, here; the prop calls attention to itself, but there's never any punchline delivered with it. Sloppy, in-jokey and inexplicably strange is no way for an animated series to go through life.