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Monday, July 31, 2006

LADY IN THE WATER (2006)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? WOW, no. Not entertaining in the least. It was a big fat "HUH?" Every inch of the film was dripping with a "THIS IS IMPORTANT" sentiment, but we never got any real feeling of importance from it.


Technically any good? The script was a MESS. Aside from the completely vain choices of the director/writer casting himself as the writer character, this film is rich with horrible dialogue, crappy structure and no logical throughline. Seriously, there are lines of dialogue that don't even line up (as in one line doesn't logically follow the previous one), scenes that don't make sense and some of the most lame acts of contrivance I've seen since the last M. Night Shyamalan movie I saw (and don't even get me started on the racism). The acting is mostly terrible (Giamatti is, of course, GREAT, but that doesn't save the movie) including Bryce Dallas Howard who seems to be caught in that rare place you get in when you're trying to think of a word that just doesn't come to you. She was in that place FOR THE WHOLE MOVIE.


How did it leave me feeling? Baffled. How M. Night can continue to get money is beyond me. He must be a REALLY cool guy in real life because his movies suck so bad. This one is by far his most immature outing yet, feeling like it was made by a 14 year-old kid who thinks every idea out of his head is "so cool!"

Somebody revoke M. Night's Director's Guild card. He really doesn't deserve it and I think that's saying a LOT.


Final Rating? DNS - Do Not See--EVER. It's contrived, predictable, nonsensical trash.

Ballpoint Adventures for July 31, 2006

Ballpoint

The 5 Minute Show Episode 6 Lost Episode #1!

YAY! I've manage to dig up episode 6 of The 5 Minute Show. This was a lost episode for a long time because the original CD I had burned all of my files from this episode got a big scratch on it. These files included both the source files for the episode as well as the final cuts. I did export a Real Media version of the episode that I burned to another disc. Since no one digs Real Media, I converted it to mp4. So, if you're curious why this week's ep looks so lousy, that's why.

Anyway, so here it is! It was originally released on February 9, 2003 and includes:

weather check
a cooking segment
Something I Bet You Didn't Know segment
and a VERY special guest! ;)

OH, and me with very short, very blond hair.



Oh yeah and the really sad thing is that I still haven't gotten my OJ documentary on DVD yet (watch the ep and you'll know what I'm referring to) and my KnowThis blog got folded into my main blog years ago. :(

Anyway, it's a 15MB mp4 and is NOT Real Media--YESSS!

AH yes, one last thing--there is another lost episode that was shot, but never finished. I don't even know where this footage ended up, so I doubt it will be ever seen. So sad!! :( :(

For 2004 Election Theft Fun With RFK Jr. and Brad Friedman

Last week [http://thepete.com/jfks-nephew-bush-stole-election-in-2004/|I blogged a video of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. explaining to Stephen Colbert about how the 2004 election was stolen by the Republicans].

Here's a clip from Catherine Crier's show on Court TV that features more from RFK Jr. along with Brad Friedman, of BradBlog.Com fame, who is fighting to make sure American know how insecure we should be about our votes counting.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

INFOCOM, ZORK AND ME--it's a Nerd-Thing, You Wouldn't Understand [UPDATED!]

Back when I was a wee-lad and should have been out learning about girls, I would lock myself in the family computer room with the family Apple //e (IIe), fire up those 2 5.25" floppy drives and would enter into the world of ZORK.

Zork was a video game for people who used their imaginations. In other words, it was a text-based video game. Yes, that's redundant, but since my family chose to buy a computer instead of a game system I played whatever games I could get. The good thing was that Zork was a pretty awesome game. And, yes, I say that knowing full well that the graphics were up to the graphics processor inside my head--which is probably the most kick-ass processor around.

Part Dungeons & Dragons, part Myst, Zork had everything to keep an intelligent person entertained in a good way. This wasn't about running around killing people (or even monsters). It was about finding things, solving very abstract puzzles (the whole damn game was a puzzle, IMHO), and avoiding death at the hands of a grue.

It was just a lot of fun. Now, Infocom was the company behind it and they had a rough time when they weren't making Zork games (or other text-based adventures) they lived a fascinating, if somewhat short and rocky existence.

Now, you can read about that existence, and how Infocom went from a handful of college kids, to massive success, to quiet failure thanks to two online resources that we are pointed to by [http://www.joystiq.com/2006/07/25/infocom-from-zork-to-business-software/|a July 25, 2006 post] at Joystiq.com. First we have [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/55/20|a very cool article] at EscapistMagazine.Com that talks about the rise and fall of Infocom. Then, you can check out [http://web.mit.edu/6.933/www/Fall2000/infocom/|The Story of Infocom, Inc] which is a huge online book available at the website for the university that was home to the college students who would found Infocom.

Ah, Zork... those were the good old days!


Oh and hey--a quick Google search and I found [http://www.xs4all.nl/~pot/infocom/|a page] that lets you play all of the Infocom games through a Java applet--SWEET! Too bad the new browser coming out for the DS doesn't support Java. Imagine how surreal that would be playing Zork on a DS??

CHRISTIAN FILMMAKER MEL GIBSON FLIPS OUT

I love it when God lets His children totally freak out and make asses of themselves.

;)

In case you haven't heard, Mel Gibson, the guy who made the bloodfest that was Passion of the Christ got arrested for drunk driving last Friday night. Now, I don't usually blog about stuff like this, but Mel's a Christian and, well, I'm an Atheist. I always thought that God was supposed to take care of His own if they believe in Him. I'm guessing his faith in God wavered allowing him to get drunk, hop in a car and yell anti-Jew slurs, swear words and more at the poor cop who pulled Mel over.

That did happen, by the way. TMZ.com reported on it in [http://www.tmz.com/2006/07/28/gibsons-anti-semitic-tirade-alleged-cover-up/|a July 28, 2006 article] where they detailed all of the fun.

Seriously, shouldn't God's power have been strong enough to keep Mel on the straight-and-narrow?

Really, what's with all this Christian propaganda if a guy who makes a movie like PotC can't even avoid straying once in a while?

What also cracks me up is that he spewed all that anti-Jewish stuff, yet he claimed after PotC came out (no, I'm not referring to Pirates of the Caribbean) that it wasn't an anti-Jewish movie and that he wasn't anti-Jew, either.

Now, I don't drink, so someone else will have to confirm that alcohol, in fact, removes inhibitions and does not actually make you hate Jews.

Oh yeah and another thing that I think is amusing is that TMZ.com is an AOL site. AOL is owned by Time-Warner, the company that distributed the Lethal Weapon movies. Aren't they shooting themselves in the foot here?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

TheJapan Pt 3 An Anime Tutorial for the Otaku Jadimasen

Before I get into the anime, I want to direct you to the photos of Danz in Tokyo. Check them out here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lost-moments/

They are amazing and very addictive. Before I knew it I had browsed through 10 pages of his stuff. Almost every shot has a character that pulls you in.

Now, anime, in case you didn't know, is what you call animation from Japan. Don't call them "cartoons" because that suggests that anime is kid-safe. Some of it is, but much of it is not. A good example of modern anime that you may have heard of is Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh. Both shows are aimed at kids neither do I watch. They're also both crap in my mind.

Now, in Japan, animation can not only be for adults, too, it can be ONLY for adults. Don't EVER show a kid under 17 Urotsukidoji or Bible Black! You probably shouldn't show a kid under 17 my favorite anime of all time, Ghost in the Shell though it's not because it's massive, disturbing porn, like Urotsukidoji and Bible Black. GITS does have a bit of nudity in it, but the themes in it are so deep no kid can keep up. I would never expect a kid to understand how cool it is to have a cyborg begin to wonder just where she stopped being human--or if she was ever human at all.

Pretty deep for a "cartoon" huh?

One thing you should think about is that even if anime is for kids, the Japanese tend to treat their kids as a bit more mature than we, in the west, treat ours. We assume that our kids would be horribly scarred by seeing any sort of realistic violence in cartoons. In anime, your kid might turn on his favorite show at 7am to see the lead blow someone's arm off. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Personally, I think this is good. Crime in Japan is virtually non-existent and I believe it's largely because they have a strong cultural line between violence in the media and violence in the real world.

I also feel like their media acts as a release valve that helps their stress and anger get expelled in other ways than committing violent acts. Of course, this is just my theory.

Anyway, so my favorite anime, as I mentioned is Ghost in the Shell. It's based on the manga (comic book) by Japanese artist Masamune (Mah-sah-moo-neh) Shirow (Shee-doh). There were two movies made as well as a TV series, which frankly, blows away the movies. They're all available on DVD in the US, so I highly recommend checking them out. They follow the adventures of an elite law enforcement agency in the future. Most of them are cyborgs in some way and their leader, Motoko Kusanagi, isn't always sure she's a real human being anymore since so much of her is cyb(er) and so little of her is org(anic).

It's an interesting dilema, for sure.

If you ever bump into a person from Japan, don't ask them about Ghost in the Shell. Ask them about Kokaku Kidotai which is the Japense title for the anime (Koh-kah-koo Kee-doh-tah-ee).

My second favorite anime is a show I grew up with as a child--in the form of a crappy American censored cartoon called Battle of the Planets. The original Japanese show (complete with characters dying in every few episodes) was called Gatchaman and is finally showing up in the US on DVD shelves. They had rereleased BotP with one or two original Gatchman eps, unedited, but there was such a demand that they caved and are slowly putting out all of the originals.

Gatchaman and BotP are both on the hokey side having been produced for kids in the early 1970s in Japan and the late 1970s in America. The story surrounds the adventures of a team of ninja-teens who battle the evil forces of Spectra (BotP) or Galactor (Gatchaman) who are bent on taking over the Earth. Both versions of the show present a wonderful message of team work without being unrealistic. That is to say, everyone works together, but often, they don't like it. Each character has his or her own talent but none of them are perfect human beings. So the show ends up having a lot of internal conflict which really helps kids (and even adults) learn how to better work together.

Now, there's plenty of anime that is just horrible. I can't stand a lot of it. However, you can pretty much trust a few of the bigger names out there. Some reliable titles are:

Ghost in the Shell
Gatchaman
(though it is hokey)
Full Metal Alchemist
Space Battleship Yamato
(hokey, but still powerful)
Metropolis
Akira
Evangelion
(crazy!)
FLCL
(pronounced Foo-Di-Koo-Di and is even more crazy)
Dead Leaves
(though it's NOT for kids)
Memories
Metropolis
Millennium Actress
(I cried during this)
Tokyo Godfathers
(I cried during this, too)

I could go on, but those are my immediate favorites. Anime can be feature films or half-hour shows. Sometimes they're even multi-45-minute-miniseries like the Cutey Honey miniseries they put out recently in sync with the live-action movie they produced.

Anime is huge--it's way bigger than animation is in the US. Here in America, animation is sort of a second-class-media. For kids, US cartoons rarely tackle serious topics or achieve the quality that would put them on the same level as Lawrence of Arabia or Citzen Kane. However, there are quite a few animated films from Japan that can make that claim. Like Akira, Grave of the Fireflies, and Spirited Away.

So, if you're sick of American media and are looking for something that will really change how you define "cartoons", give some anime a try. If you're not sure what to go with, feel free to comment below and I'll give you more suggestions.

I've got a lot more to talk about regarding anime. I've mentioned my favorites, but there's plenty more to explore so swing by next weekend for more on Japanese Animation and thanks for reading!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ballpoint Adventures for July 28, 2006

Ballpoint

JFK's Nephew: Bush Stole Election in 2004

No, seriously--Robert F. Kennedy Jr. strongly believes that George W. Bush stole the election in 2004.

And you know what? (Surprise, surprise) I AGREE WITH HIM!

In a nutshell he says there were electronic manipulations of the votes, short-changing voting machines in black districts of Ohio and a whole lot more!

But why not listen to him explain in a clip from the June 12, 2006 episode of The Colbert Report?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

TheUsCast Episode 3!

THE RETURN TO SANTA MONICA!!

Well, it's less the "return" and more the continuation, really. But here it is, part two of our wandering around the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California! Have a listen!!


powered by ODEO

[http://media.odeo.com/files/3/9/6/661396.mp3|Or grab the mp3 directly] from Odeo.com.

GAMERA THE BRAVE (2006)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? Definitely--Gamera for kids but in a way that doesn't insult the adults watching. In fact, for a Gamera movie aimed at kids, it's pretty dark.


Technically any good? Of course--the effects were very solid and the acting was pretty reasonable, too. Even the lead kid was pretty much believable. Oh yeah and the damn cutest turtle you've ever seen. Plus a couple wonderful homages to the Gamera films that have come before.


How did it leave me feeling? Good--it definitely left me feeling good. It's not a sequel to Gamera III (which is my all time favorite kaiju film) but it's a thousand times better than Super Monster Gamera.


Final Rating? GSN (Go See Now) if you're a Gamera fan, everyone else can probably just RTV (Rent The Video).

I hope to see this pop up on DVD in the US sometime soon.

Ballpoint Adventures for July 27, 2006

Ballpoint

Signing Statements and George W. Bush

Back in May of this year I blogged about how Bush was using signing statements to challenge 750 laws. In short, when a law is passed that he doesn't like, he adds a signing statement to them clarifying how he will use the laws that were passed. In this way he is effectively removing those laws from being laws, usurping what little power we citizens have to change the laws.

See, you vote for a lawmaker that you like so he/she will vote only laws you like into existence. However, if those laws get the signing-statement-special from good old Dubya, then we stop living in a representative democracy. Essentially, it can be called legislation without representation.

According to a July 21, 2006 article at USNews.com the American Bar Association is finally coming out against this practice of signing statements. Here's a clip:
Although the president has not issued more statements in total than any other president, he has challenged more than 750 laws in more than 100 signing statements. And he has used them to, in effect, challenge parts of laws, and challenge them more aggressively, than any president before him. Bush's liberal use of those statements first attracted attention in December 2005, when he signed a torture ban—but then added a statement reserving the right not to enforce the ban, alongside his signature. Since then, Congress has held a hearing to investigate Bush's use of the statements, a bipartisan advocacy group has condemned their use, and Democratic Rep. Barney Frank has introduced a bill that would allow Congress to override content in them that contradicts signed legislation.

Now, U.S. News has learned, an American Bar Association task force is set to suggest even stronger action. In a report to be released Monday, the task force will recommend that Congress pass legislation providing for some sort of judicial review of the signing statements. Some task force members want to simply give Congress the right to sue over the signing statements; other task force members will not characterize what sort of judicial review might ultimately emerge.


So, this is just great. Rather than impeach the guy for breaking the law and generally betraying the public trust, the ABA is saying we should just make what he does a little less illegal by putting pretend oversight on it. You really think lawmakers are going to make the effort to sue Bush on 750 laws?

This is ridiculous. Laws have been broken and every American citizen deserves to have those crimes investigated.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A SCANNER DARKLY (2006)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? Definitely positive! I'd say this could very well be one of the best American films of the decade.


Technically any good? The whole film is roto-scoped, which means that it's animated over actual actors. The results, when done in this manner, can really bend your brain. As a result I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you go see this film on the big screen. It's very trippy. The acting is solid, even from Keanu where his character and acting style match up pretty nicely. In fact the match-up works so well that there's actually a moment or two where I was impressed with his acting.


How did it leave me feeling? Trippy imagery, trippy subject matter, drugs, conspiracy and paranoia, it's a friggin' anthem for our times. GO SEE IT!


Final Rating? GSN - Seriously, Go See it Now because it's really edgy and very challenging--in other words, it won't be in theaters for long.

Ballpoint Adventures for July 26, 2006

Ballpoint

Don't Forget the Katrina Victims!

I know, I know--there's too much to keep track of these days and I'm kind of bouncing all over the place here. That's the way things are in the world today. There's always some "bigger" crisis distracting from previous yesterday's crisis. Well, as huricane season approaches, I'm hoping to see more stuff regarding the rebuilding of Katrina.

Now, months and months ago I remember listening to [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/26/1434217&mode=thread&tid=25|the podcast] from DemocracyNow.Org and hearing about how local government was pretty much handing over control of the rebuilding to big money interests. Private schools, gated communities and resorts and more lack of interest in the non-privatized. I remember, specifically, hearing about a meeting the local government was having to determine what to do about the schools and no one from the board of education was in on the meeting. Nor were any parents of children in the area.

Flashforward to just a couple of weeks ago. Big time movie hunk Brad Pitt is [http://www.smh.com.au/news/people/green-new-orleans/2006/07/15/1152637917831.html|reported] as pushing for New Orleans to be rebuilt green. Here's a clip from [http://www.smh.com.au/news/people/green-new-orleans/2006/07/15/1152637917831.html|a July 16, 2006 article] at SMH.com.au (the website for the Australian news source, the Sydney Morning Herald):
Hollywood star Brad Pitt has joined American architects to urge New Orleans to think green, showcasing a series of environmentally friendly housing projects they hope to build in the hurricane-hit city.

Flanked by prize-winning architect Thom Mayne and Pam Dashiell, president of the neighbourhood association in the Holy Cross area where the first project is slated to be built, Pitt said construction and housing were major sources of pollution.

"There is a real opportunity here to lead the nation in a direction it needs to be going, and that is building efficiently," he said.

At the same time, Pitt said he was disturbed to see how slowly New Orleans was recovering from Hurricane Katrina, which hit nearly 11 months ago and flooded 80 per cent of the city.

Pitt underwrote and chaired the design competition for environmentally friendly housing with the goal of creating a template for New Orleans.


Uh-huh, that's nice--hey Brad, you want to look in on how big business (the folks you're courting) interfaces with the locals, please? What good will a green city be if the poor folks can't afford to live in it?

On top of all of this, a couple of days before Pitt gave face time to his pet-cause, no more than nine members of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, a charity founded by Bill Clinton and George H.W. One of those members was the executive director of the charity. Here's a quick clip from [http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2194861|a July 14, 2006 article] from AP.org and ABCNews.Com:
The departing committee members said they were upset with how they had been treated by the charity's Washington staff. They claim the staff repeatedly undermined their grant-making decisions, sending money to churches without properly investigating them.


Folks in Washington blowing off what other people think and just doing what they want? I CAN'T IMAGINE IT!

Obviously, this is an issue that needs to have an eye kept on it. I'll do my best, but there's a lot to cover. If you have any news on Katrina victims, please feel free to post it below.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

THE GREAT YOKAI WAR (2005)

[asin: B000F2CAJ2]
Positive Experience/Entertaining? HELLS, YEAH! This movie is an awesome experience for ANYone of ANY age--especially on the big screen!


Technically any good? Dude--you have no idea. The acting is the weakest part of this film and it's pretty solid, so imagine how good the rest of it is. I'm a big fan of director Takashi Miike (Audition) and while this movie is for kids (VERY unlike Audition) he's done a superb job of bringing his wonderfully twisted tastes to this film. Seriously, you won't believe the stuff that Miike put on screen. FX and make-up only make it more incredible.


How did it leave me feeling? Reeling with enjoyment. Seriously, this movie is why movies are made. It's a little predictable but only in that you know how it'll end, just no friggen' clue of how it'll get you there.


Final Rating? GSN!! It's on DVD right now--click the poster image to buy it from Amazon. :)

Ballpoint Adventures for July 25, 2006

Ballpoint

Massive Blackout in NYC More of the Same from Big Business?

I've been living in California for over eleven years now. I can remember the "rolling power blackouts" that many in our state suffered through. The catch was, and I think even many of us Californians have forgotten this, it was a completely manufactured situation. The energy companies were later found guilty of manipulating the price of electricity. The power outages were done intentionally to make us think our supply of electricity was very low when really it wasn't. See, a low supply means high prices.

So, we bought into it to the tune of $9 billion. That's the amount California decided the energy companies owed the people of California. Of course, in all these years, I haven't seen any checks from corrupt energy companies.

Now, have a look at this mystery blackout in Queens, NYC. The thing is, it's getting hot all over America. Climate Change sure seems to be hitting the US hard this summer and while extreme draws on electrical supplies should be expected, there's no reason for a system to fail like the one in NYC has. Like I said, this heat and power-draw has been expected.

The headline of [http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/437428p-368557c.html|a July 23, 2006 article] at NYDailyNews.Com describes describes the situation in Queens this way:
No ideas, no light & no end in sight!


Here's a bit more from the article:
Con Ed's top boss apologized yesterday to the 100,000 Queens residents suffering without power for a sixth consecutive frustrating day. But in his first public comments on the blackout, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Burke said he was still in the dark about what caused the outage or when service would be fully restored.

Asked why it took so long to inform city officials about the true scope of the outage in Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Hunters Point and Long Island City, Burke said, "I do believe that we were communicating with our customers and with the government officials."

But that further angered local leaders, who noted that it wasn't until Friday that Con Ed revealed the outage was 10 times more widespread than previously reported.

"I don't know how anybody could be satisfied with his response," said City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside). "I don't know how he can say they didn't realize the extent of the problem. A blind man could see how bad it was by walking down the streets."


I remember this argument being used against the government for Katrina, 911, Iraq and more. I remember thinking similar things during California's power crisis. I wondered just why the massive energy companies, now free of regulations suddenly had trouble supplying their customers with the only product they produce.

My opinion about all of those things above, and the blackout in Queens is this: Either you're idiots or you did it on purpose.

They don't have a lot of answers, so it really is about the idiot vs. intentional argument.

Meanwhile, good old Greg Palast, the man behind uncovering the buying of the 2000 & 2004 presidential elections and the unusual similarities between those elections and the recent Mexican general election reminds us in [http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0720-22.htm|a July 20, 2006 piece] at CommonDreams.Org that he also knows a thing or two about corruption in big business, too.

Here are a couple of clips from Ken Lay's Alive!:
Don't check the casket. I know he's back. When I saw those lights flickering out at La Guardia Airport yesterday and heard the eerie shrieks and moans in the dark, broiling subway tunnels, I just knew it: Ken Lay's alive! We can see his spirit in every flickering lightbulb from Kansas to Queens as we head into America's annual Blackout season.

It wasn't always so. For decades, America had nearly the best, most reliable electricity system on the planet and, though we grumbled, electricity bills were among the planet's lowest. It was all thanks to Franklin Roosevelt and the Public Utility Holding Company Act which allowed for tough regulation of the power monopolies. They were told what they could charge, the maximum profit they could take and -- what I think about when the lights dim -- exactly how much they had to invest to keep the juice flowing.

But then, in 1992, a Texas oil man, George H.W. Bush, ordered to evacuate the White House by two-thirds of the US electorate, gave his Houston crony, Ken Lay, a billion-dollar good-bye kiss: Bush's signature authorizing deregulation of electricity.

But Lay's operation didn't pick up the really big bucks until after December 21, 1994, when the Enron chief wrote to the incoming governor of Texas, George W. Bush, asking the Governor-elect to grant him a special wish for Christmas:

"The Public Utility Commission appointment is an extremely critical one. We believe Pat Wood is best qualified…. Linda joins me in wishing you and Laura and the whole family a joyous holiday. - Sincerely, Ken."

And Georgie-Boy granted Kenny-Boy's wish, appointing Wood and thereby giving Texans an electricity regulator who stumped for Ken Lay's right to earn unlimited profits without any obligation to keep the lights on. Thus, by 1995, electricity deregulation had a foothold in the Lone Star state that would spread nationwide like Dutch Elm Disease.

...

By now, you've got to ask: after the profiteering from Katrina, after the California power scandal of 2000, after the Great Black-out of 2003, even after the hand-cuffing of Ken Lay, why are we still under a deregulation regime that Ken Lay seems to rule from the grave? Why is it that we're still at the mercy of power vampires?

The answer, in part, is that the bloodsucking is a bi-partisan feast. Entergy, the New Orleans nuclear company, is well defended in the US Senate by their former lawyer, Hillary Rodham, who now protects them under her new alias, Senator Clinton.

Ken Lay's gone, but the ghost of Ken Lay -- the marauding ghoul called deregulation -- stays to haunt us.


Go check out [http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0720-22.htm|that article]--there are way more examples of corruption in the power industry and how regulation was probably way better than no regulation at all.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I GOT MY HUCKLEBUG PRIZE!

Check it out! I got my HuckleBug prize for having my idea for topic of the week selected for the Hucklebug podcast!! SWEET!!

Me and my huckle-bug prize! pic 02


Go check out the 'cast at hucklebug.blogspot.com!

CLERKS II (2006)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? WOW did I want to find this entertaining and it WAS--but just barely.


Technically any good? I'm a big fan of fellow Jersey-Boy Kevin Smith, but this movie was simply not very good. It's got some good laughs in it, but unfortunately, everything was pretty weak. There was very little character development and the editing was very loose. I think both the script and the film needed a lot of tightening up. Acting-wise, I was happy with everyone.


How did it leave me feeling? Unfortunately disappointed. This movie felt less like Clerks II and more like a Mallrats II. I mean, seriously, gay donkey sex?


Final Rating? Do Not See - Go rent Clerks again and enjoy that. Or Chasing Amy or Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. They're all way better than this film!

Sorry... I really wanted to like this!!

Ballpoint Adventures for July 24, 2006!

Ballpoint

Give Dabble.Com a Try if You Like the Internet Video

(But it can do Internet audio, too!)

So, fellow blogger Lisa Rein over at OLRR.net has been working on a new service that goes live today. It's called Dabble.Com and it's like http://Del.icio.us only instead of being site for sharing bookmarks it's a site for sharing media. Now, I got to beta test the site a couple of times over the past month and it's pretty cool. It works like a mass database of all the videos out there that people are watching. Instead of sharing videos one at a time, you just create a playlist on Dabble.com and you care share all of your videos with everyone.

If you put out a podcast, like I do, it's a great tool for getting the word out. Just add your media (it can do audio, too) and add it to your playlist. It's then searchable by everyone who swings by Dabble.com. I don't think you even have to add it to your playlist--just add it and more people will see your media.

So check it out and let me know what you think.

Did I mention that it can do audio, too?

The 5 Minute Show Episode 30!

Here it is 5 Minuters!! [http://video.lisarein.com/thepete/stuff/ThePeteTV/t5ms20060724.mp4|Part 2 of the illustrious interview with titanic TEX], the host of Disembodied Animal Head Theatre. This one I leave mostly up to our resident opera-singing diva, Beverly Soques to host--check it out and let us know what you think of her! More Beverly? More puppets? Less of either?



Go check out DAHT.blogspot.com!!

Israel Really Hates Lebanon!

Yep, Israel has yet to have second thoughts about their invasion of Lebanon. On Sunday they pushed even farther into the country as, slowly, the Arab world began to really speak out about it. See, According to ElectronicLebanon.Net, there was a shockingly long period of time where the rest of the Arab world didn't say much of anything against Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Now, at least in a small way, that seems to have changed. According to [http://english.bna.bh/?ID=47913|a July 23, 2006 post] at http://English.BNA.bh (the Bahrain News Agency) Kuwait has established a fund to help support Lebanese and Palestinians who have suffered due to the Israel attacks on both regions. Here's a quote from that post:
The Kuwaiti cabinet approved a donation of KD 20 million to the Lebanese and Palestinian people to alleviate the sufferings caused to them by Israel's persistent offensive. KD 15 million will be sent through the Kuwaiti Aid Committee and KD 5m will be dispatched through Kuwait Red Crescent.


"KD" stands for Kuwaiti Dinar and currently the exchange rate puts KD 20 million in at around USD 70 million. While this money isn't as huge as the money the US is spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, it is a show of support from the Arab world (and from a US ally, in theory) that Palestinians and Lebanese will need help rebuilding.

Of course, no Arab country wants to get in on the war-fun because everyone knows that when Israel starts mixing up some shit, the US will come down hard on anyone that tries to stop them. Arab countries then clam up, back into the corner and offer to invest some more billions in America and everything is "cool".

Speaking of America, according to [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/22/world/middleeast/22military.html|a July 23, 2006 article] at NYTimes.com and [http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0722-02.htm|available ]at CommonDreams.Org the US has been asked to speed up bomb delivery to the Israelis.

They're in it for the long haul, it would seem.

Here's a clip from that NYT article:
The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.


Taste the 5,000 pound pain, Lebanon!

Sheesh...

Meanwhile, here in the US, the media continues to get mass amounts of it all wrong. MediaMatters.Org pointed out in [http://mediamatters.org/items/200607210009|a July 23 2006 post] how all of the networks are stacking all of their shows with more Republican/conservative guests than Democrat/progressive ones. To me, though, I don't see much difference as I heard Dem Joe Biden on one of the Sunday morning news shows, two Sundays ago, defend Israel's right to defend herself. Of course, [http://thepete.com/israel-invades-lebanon-but-why/|I'm still wondering from what].

Back at CommonDreams.Org I found [http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0722-23.htm|a July 22, 2006 article] originally posted at CJRDaily.Org (the website of the Columbian Journalism Review Daily) that went into a nice amount of detail regarding what the mainstream US news sources are getting entirely wrong. Here are a few clips from the article written by Lawrence Pintak, who runs a center for television and new media at The American University in Cairo but finds himself on vacation in California during this latest chapter of the decades (centuries?) long Middle East Crisis:
...At times, the coverage has seemed as much a fantasy as Disney's Space Mountain, and the level of Middle East knowledge on the part of some television anchors only a few notches higher than that of the tattooed biker couple waiting in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Take, for example, a CNN interview with an American high school student who had been visiting his father's relatives in Lebanon when the conflict broke out. With his tearful American mother in the studio, he was asked by phone whether he was frightened. No big deal, he replied, explaining that he was north of the Christian port of Jounieh, far from the fighting. Betraying her woeful ignorance of Lebanon's geography and politics, the anchor replied that he sounded like a typical "macho" young man who didn't want to worry his mother.

The anchor might have looked at a map before going on air.

...

One CNN promo showed an unedited sequence in which a nameless photographer told Anderson Cooper, in northern Israel, that there was a rumor of rockets on the way. Cooper then turned to the camera and authoritatively reported, "The police say more rockets are coming."

So much for checking sources.

One example: CBS refugee John Roberts, now CNN's senior correspondent, eruditely pointed to pro-Hezbollah demonstrations in Syria as evidence of a Sunni-Shiite split. The only weakness in that analysis is that Syria is a Sunni nation, so the demonstrations point to exactly the opposite -- Sunni-Shiite unity on the issue of Hezbollah's actions.

Over on Hardball, NBC correspondent Dawn Fratangelo's discussion of potential dangers to American evacuees quickly disintegrated into confused talk of Hezbollah rockets in northern Israel. That's the other direction, Dawn.

There was little effort to identify the politics of many of the pseudo-experts who were trotted into the studios. Right-wing Lebanese Christians and representatives of Israeli-backed think tanks -- both with axes to grind -- were offered up as independent analysts. Anchors and reporters, meanwhile, frequently wore their politics on their sleeve. When an American woman trapped in southern Lebanon decried Washington's failure to stop what she said was Israel's brutal killing of civilians, CNN anchor Tony Harris snapped back, "That's not the view over here," and cut her off, saying he didn't have time to debate the issue.


Isn't that just fucked? Tony Harris says that "over here" we're not viewing it as "Israel's brutal killing of civilians". He might as well be saying that we Americans see Israel's invasion of Lebanon as "happy fun killing." I can hear Governor Arnold's defense of Israel's killing of so many Arabs now: "But they were all bad..."

Uh-huh. If only there weren't so many True Lies going around right now. (See what I did there? ;) )

Speaking of lies, and more specifically avoiding them, through CNN.Com of all places, I found a blogger out of Bekaa, Lebanon who is maintaining LebanonLive.BlogSpot.Com. It's header describes the blog as:
A view from the Lebanese side of things with what's going on between Lebanon and Israel. Straight from the action, no middle man. I tell you how I see it without getting any lies from anyone else.


...I like it already. So, check it out for comparisons of what you're reading/seeing/hearing in the mainstream US news.

Now for my straight, honest opinon on this whole thing.

Killing is bad. In 99% of the instances, killing is wrong and can be avoided. I'm against capital punishment (except in the most extreme situations), abortion (except in extreme cases), and torture. I basically believe in being cool to as many people as possible. The only time killing is OK, in my book, is WHEN YOU'VE ALREADY BEEN ATTACKED.

So, you don't get to hurt someone else until they have killed a substantial number of you, FIRST. This attitude is multiplied times ten when the one feeling threatened is a bigger power than the one threatening.

So, in the case of Iraq and the US, Lebanon and Israel or, say, Poland and Germany, it's the latter that should actually take a hit before they attack the former. To do anything else would be a literal abuse of power.

To me these principles trump politics, economy and even my own life. I don't want to die for my principles, but I would if I had to. So, regardless of who is doing the aggressing, they'd better be doing it after they've lost some serious lives. Hell, even in the case of Afghanistan I think what America did was wrong. So, naturally, I believe that what Israel is doing is wrong.

This isn't about being anti-Jew--I don't care what religion anyone is. It's about being anti-killing. PERIOD.

Of course, if you're a pro-lifer and you're behind Israel's invasion of Israel or their occupation of Palestine, or for the US wars in Iraq or Afghanistan you're a hypocrite or at the very least uneducated. Which is worse? Killing an unborn baby or wiping out entire families "by accident"?

Oh and how's this for a new tag here at ThePete.Com: MECCA. It stands for the Middle East Crisis Created by America :D

I still find it wonderfully ironic that there's been buckets of bitching about Syria and Iran interfering in Lebanese and Israeli affairs by arming Hezbollah while the US has been arming all sorts of people in the ME for literal decades.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

TheJapan (Part 2)

Sorry this post is a day late, things got hectic yesterday...

At work I have set up this Google Homepage thing. It allows me to use all sorts of plugins to have all sorts of fun info and media delivered to me every time I hit refresh. One of the plugins grabs a random picture from Flickr.com with a given tag that I can specify. As you may have [http://thepete.com/thejapan-part-1/|read last weekend] I have a moderate obsession with Japan and Japanese culture so I usually have it grab me pics tagged with "Tokyo", "Akihabara", "Shinjuku" or other areas of Japan that I hope to one day live in (or at least visit). Below are two pics that popped up that I thought I should share with you.

This first one is just a great shot. I love still images of a lot of activity without any fancy-shmancy "fx" mixed in to make it look "cool".


click the pic!


Isn't that cool? The next pic represents just one reason I'd love to live someplace near Akihabara (a region of Tokyo):


click the pic!


In fact, Flickr.com is a wonderful resource for pics and info on Japan. I find the pictures of Japan I find on there to be intoxicating. I can just spin through them for hours and hours. There are the obvious "nature" shots of incredible waterfalls, tranquil gardens and of course, sakura (cherry blossoms). However, there are also a lot of images for the urbanites out there (like me).

One great site for learning about what's going on in Japan on a more daily basis is Japundit.com. I don't visit the site a whole lot, but when I do I always find interesting stuff. Mainly I listen to their podcast, Japan Talk, which you can check out at JapanTalk.org. It's hosted by a guy called JP (JaPundit?), an American who has been in Japan for 30 years. He's an average guy but seems to love Japan and as a result he is fun to listen to. Early on, he tried to emulate the [http://metropolis.co.jp/podcast/|podcast] at http://Metropolis.co.jp, the "number one English language magazine in Japan". The thing is, that podcast is made by professionals who are clearly trying to deliver an American-style radio show. These production values seem to clash with JP's everyman kind of style. He also tried to take a page from American comedy radio show host Phil Hendry and make up a fake character who JP interacts with during the show, but it just didn't work.

In my opinion, Japan Talk is the best Jculture podcast I've heard so far and I've listened to a few of them including the one I mentioned above from http://Metropolis.co.jp. I listened to it based on JP's recommendation on his podcast. I was immediately floored by the voice of host Kamasama Kong. I was shocked to hear this dude's voice--it was a flawless American accent and it just didn't sound like a Japanese guy I had ever heard. Even Japanese Americans don't have powerful, booming voices like Kamisama does.

I decided I'd have to find a picture of the dude online just so I could believe that Kamasama Kong was, in fact, a Nihonjin (Japanese person).

Turns out this is Kamasami Kong:



Dude looks about as much like a "Kamasami Kong" as Sean Connery looked like a ninja in You Only Live Twice. So, I guess it really bugs me that this dude totally misrepresents himself as a Japanese guy on his podcast. What bugs me more is his podcast. OH man, it's hideous. It's everything that I HATE about American radio. Loud voices, obnoxious sound "fx" that don't sound like anything in the real world (like those electronic ant-farts) and dumb gimmicks like calling up people who are pretending to be people that they're not. Oh yeah, the woman who reads the local events going on he calls "Suzie Newsie".

vomit...

Then there's the constant beat of music behind almost everything that is said on the show. It's really enough to make you turn off the podcast and listen to someone who is actually a real human being, like JP of Japan Talk, instead of some over-engineered American robot programmed to bring the hell of obnoxious American radio culture to Japan.

Jeez, do we have to export EVERYTHING sucky from America??

Another good site I try to visit when I can is TokyoTimes.Org. They're a bit on the randy side with some of their commentary, but over all, it's a good read. I'd say it's not entirely worksafe.

Another good site about Japan's culture is 3yen.com. It's got all sorts of great info from TV, to politics, to laws, and more all from the gaijin (non-Japanese person) point of view.

Right! Next weekend we'll get into...um... more... Japanese...uh... stuff. Anime? Shopping? Stop by and find out!

This is Some Weird Weather in LA

So, Los Angeles is the land golden sunshine, right? Well, for the past week or two it's been the land of oppressive heat. At 11:30pm last night we came out of a movie theater to discover that it was still hot and humid outside. I checked the temp online when I got home and it said it was 80 degrees. It felt hotter than that since I was just short of sweating while doing absolutely nothing to warrant it.

The weird thing was that, before we went to the movie, we noticed flashes in the clouds off in the distance. At first we assumed it was fireworks but why would there be fireworks on the 22nd of July? Then, the flashing got bigger and brighter and, we assumed, closer. It had to be lightning. But we heard no thunder.

Weird.

After the movie, the skies were clear.

Then, this morning I wake up to discover overcast skies. Don't worry--it's still sweltering in TheApartment, but at least it looks like it might rain, even if the forecast doesn't call for it. There are some rainclouds in the area, according to wunderground.com, but I doubt we'll see any actual rain. Which is sad, because we could really use it. It was in the hundreds in the valley last week, from what I heard. I had also heard something about a flash storm that just appeared over Orange County last week. There was some minor flooding, but everyone was OK.

So, weird weather in LA...

I do hear faint rumblings of thunder... perhaps it's just the sound waves from last night's silent lightning catching up to us? ;)

Hope the weather is nicer where you are...

True Stories for 7/23/6!

True Adventures of ThePete & SiSi for July 22, 2006!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

True Stories for 7/22/6!

True Adventures for June 10, 2006!

ISRAEL INVADES LEBANON--BUT WHY??

Don't believe the hype. The current strife between Israel, Lebanon and Palestine is not because of any possible threat Lebanon or the Palestinians represent to Israel. This is a wildly trumped up situation where Israel is now invading Lebanon because of TWO ISRAELI SOLDIERS BEING KIDNAPPED.

Don't believe what the USG is saying--don't believe what most of the media is saying. This invasion is NOT happening because Hezbollah is firing rockets into Israel--I didn't read reports of the rockets going into Israel until AFTER Israel started dropping bombs on southern Lebanon.

According to [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/21/1431242|the July 21, 2006 edition] of [http://democracynow.org|Democracy Now] the Palestinians are being left out of the military fun, either. Here's a clip from the headlines of Friday's show:
Meanwhile, Israel continues to attack the Gaza Strip. Earlier today, four Palestinians were killed in an attack on a home in Gaza City. The dead included a mother, her two children and a man Israel claims fired at Israeli troops. On Thursday, at least six Palestinians were killed and fifteen wounded as Israel shelled areas by land, sea, and air. A ten-year girl died Thursday of wounds sustained in an Israeli attack the day before. Meanwhile, an Israeli naval boat shelled a road used by Palestinian emergency vehicles. One ambulance was damaged in the attack. More than one hundred Palestinians have now died in the siege following the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.


What really cracks me up is that Israel and America seem to be birds of a feather. The US invaded Iraq because the US claimed Iraq was a threat. How in the hell could Iraq EVER be a threat to the US?? Even if Iraq had WMD and used them, the US still has enough nukes to send Iraq into the dark ages. The same goes for Lebanon. Since the rocket attacks started, the number of Israeli dead due to these rocket attacks number in the tens. Since Israeli strikes on Lebanon started Lebanese dead number in the hundreds. You do the math here. Lebanon does not have nukes, Israel does.

So what the fuck is really going on here??

I have no clue. People are dying, that's all I know for sure and the spin keeps being put on the stronger party being justified in kicking the shit out of the weaker party in the name of defending themselves.

As I type this CNN.com is reporting in [http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/07/22/mideast/index.html|a July 22, 2006 article] that Israel has sent tanks into Lebanon. Oh and I stand corrected--the CNN article does, in fact, point out that:
Hezbollah guerrillas fired barrages of more than 100 rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel on Saturday, continuing the conflict that began with militants capturing two Israeli soldiers.


Something tells me that this is not what is being reported on TV, though and I'd bet good money that the Republicans or anyone in the USG is going to bring up those two soldiers being the "cause" of all of this.

The point is, there's no good reason for this. Israel is in a position of power and has been for decades. They fought back the big invasion of 1967 and have held their border, more or less, in place for almost forty years!

So, why this invasion? I'm beginning to think it's strictly about hating Muslims because there's just no other obvious reasoning for this attack. Israel hates Muslims. I also beginning to think the USG does, too.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Vlog for 7/21/6!

Here's some fun video for the weekend! Quick updates on TheDayjob, ThePete.Com and more!


thevlog20060721.mp4



On and Free Speech Radio News can be found at FSRN.org (as mentioned on TheVlog at ThePete.Com!)

Bush Pal Asks Software Programmer to Fix Election

Check this out--back in 2000 this dude called Clint Curtis was working for a software company that had on staff Jeb Bush-buddy Tom Feeney and eventual Speaker of the Florida House. Feeney functioned as a lobbyist for the software firm, going after big companies (and state government) to get big contracts for said software company.

One day, Feeney asks Curtis to design software for a voting machine that could switch the outcome of an election without anyone knowing. Curtis thought this was something the government would use as an example of what to avoid, so he wrote the software and didn't think much about it. Then, Florida went to Gore, first, and then to Bush in 2000.

I'm sure the two events have NOTHING to do with one another!!

Don't believe me? Check out the below two clips as proof. The first is an interview Curtis gave Brad Friedman on Free Speech TV back in 2005 and the second clip is Curtis testifying under oath to Congress in late 2004.





Both clips I found on bit torrent though I did try to clean them up a bit in the process of converting them to mp4. Check out their probable source at BradBlog.Com

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mexico Election: The Fix Appears to be IN!

Early last week I wrote about [http://thepete.com/tight-election-conservative-wins-no-not-us/|the Mexican general election] and how it reminded me so dramatically of the last two American presidential elections.

Well, it turns out I wasn't the only person reminded of those elections. There's a journalist whose work is so contravertial that he rarely gets hired in the US and instead works as a reporter for the BBC. His name is Greg Palast and I've blogged about him before. He wrote a book called The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. It's basically a compilation of his coverage of the theft of the 2000 and 2004 elections. Yep, he's got pretty solid evidence that those elections were rigged (in case you didn't already know).

Logically, he made his way down to Mexico and did a report for the BBC on what's going on down there. Surprise, surprise, he found all sorts of corruption, but most interestingly, he found that Choicepoint, a company that helped the Florida state government rid it's electoral rolls of over 90,000 legal voters (most of them black), had gathered up a huge list of Mexican voters information and given it to the USG.

Yep, Palast says that the USG hired CP to gather up as much information on voters in Mexico as they could. The catch? That's illegal in Mexico. Apparently the voter information is confidential--not just your political party is kept in voting records, it's stuff like, your name, your job, your age, your...well, you get the point.

Since CP was so heavily involved in the 2000 elections, isn't it ironic that they've shown up in Mexico in 2006?

You can read [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/12/146201|a transcript of Palast's coverage from July 12, 2006] which was aired on Democracy Now. Here's an excerpt to get you started:
So I booked the first flight out to Mexico City to answer the question: Did Felipe Calderon of the conservative PAN, the party in power, win the presidential election fairly or was this just another Florida con salsa?” The official numbers just didn't add up. So my first stop was to meet one of Mexico's top numbers experts, statistician Victor Romero of Mexico's National University. Dr. Romero had charted the official government elections returns from each of Mexico's 113,000 voting stations.

VICTOR ROMERO: The way I did this was, a friend of mine, that he had the results second by second.

GREG PALAST: Well, randomly, this can't happen.

VICTOR ROMERO: Can’t happen.


There's plenty more where that came from and I'm sure Palast will uncover more about this, too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mumbai Blasts More WWIII Fodder

Damn, when I [http://thepete.com/not-exactly-world-war-iii-but/|posted the other day about us seeing the official start of World War III], I TOTALLY forgot to mention the Mumbai bombings. I don't know how many of you had the time to keep up with this story once Israel started bombing Lebanon, so I'll cover the basics as quick as I can.

First, Mumbai is what Indian folks call the city we generally know better as Bombay. This is the financial capitol of India and it is positively JAMMED with people. Specifically, the train system is JAMMED with people. So, on July 11, 2006 SOMEbody blew up a bunch of bombs hidden in the overhead compartments in the first class cars of a train during rush hour as everyone was on their way home from work.

According to [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/12/145257|a July 12, 2006 transcript] posted at DemocracyNow.Org (of their show from that day) at least 7 bombs exploded. The descriptions of the aftermath is downright grotesque. Over 180 people were killed with over 300 maimed. Times of India reporter Nitasha Natu spoke with witnesses:
And the way they described the scene was the sound was deafening. I mean, it was something that they had never heard before. It was something like hundreds of gas cylinders exploding at the same time, something of that sort. And all they could see were body pieces, because Mumbai trains are packed to the capacity. You have a lot of commuters hanging on the doors, something which you wouldn’t really see in some other city probably. So after the blast, there were a lot of these people who fell right onto the tracks, and some of them got killed right there.

So these shoeshine boys and porters were the first ones to be on the spot, actually pulled out those people. They couldn't really see a lot of bodies. There were just hands and severed heads and limbs.


The odd thing is that no one has claimed responsibility for the bombings. This is odd because most terrorists want something. Just bombing anonymously doesn't send a message of any kind aside from "you're not safe."

Usually terrorists want something more specific than just terror, alone.

By last Sunday, authorities had worked out where the bombs had been planted. The following clip comes from [http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?template=Terrorstrikes&slug=Bomb+origin+was+Mumbai+VT%3A+Reports&id=19835&callid=0&category=National|a July 16, 2006 article] at NDTV.com:
Investigators of Tuesday�s train attacks in Mumbai believe all the bombs were planted at the main Victoria Terminus.

Reports point out that the bombers escaped through an underpass.

At least three of the seven bombs fitted with timers were set to explode after 20 minutes.


That article also said more than 170 were killed in the blasts.

Regardless of how many people died, this means more war-type-activities. India, one assumes would want retribution for this. However, so far, they're not bombing Pakistan. They've arrested a stack of folks, but hav done nothing rash so far.

Of course, the post 7/11 (!!) era for India is just beginning. We'll see how time tempers them, if it does at all.

One thing does occur to me. What with the US doing all sorts of absurd things to "fight terror" you'd think terrorists would be discouraged. It seems like all of our fear and pre-emptive strikes are just encouraging terrorists to work harder.

Of course, there have been no more terrorist attacks on American soil. This fact I attribute to the anti-terrorist cologne I wear every day. It emits a scent undetectable by the noses of peaceful, loving, people, but it repells terrorists. See, terrorists noses are constructed differently than ours and my ATC (Anti-Terror Cologne) targets that nose difference and keeps America safe.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The 5 Minute Show Episode 29!

This week, t5MS features special guest TEX, host of the wonderful webcast Disembodied Animal Head Theatre! WATCH as Tex TELLS ALL about his awesome show that brings Shakespeare to the masses (sort of).



It's a 20.7 mb mp4 as usual! YEEHAW!

(Very) Young Woman Raped and Murdered in Iraq

Well, that's what local Iraqis are saying, but why should we believe them? See, they claim that a young woman in Mahmudiyah was raped after having her family killed. She was them murdered and set on fire to hide the crime aaaand they say that US soldiers did it. The person who is said to do the actual raping is a man called Steven Green who has already been honorably discharged from the USMil. He's since been arrested.

What's really fucked here is that when the locals and reporters first approached US authorities about the crime they were told that the young woman was twenty (as if that makes it less-bad), that the crime was committed by insurgents (savage Muslims!!) and that they were investigating.

Well, reporters did more investigating and discovered the victim was fourteen.


Please keep reading...

Here's a clip from [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/11/144219|a transcript] of a podcast from DemocracyNow.Org that I listened to last week that went into more detail:
According to an affidavit based on sworn statements from several members of Green's infantry unit, the soldiers planned the attack after noticing the girl, Abeer Qasim Hamza, at a US checkpoint in the town of Mahmudiyah. On March 12th, the soldiers broke into her family's home. Some of them had been drinking and all but one had disguised themselves in dark clothing.

Green herded Abeer's mother, Fakhriya Taha Muhsen; her father, Kasim Hamza Rasheed; and her five-year old sister Hadel into a room and shot them with an AK-47 rifle. Green and another soldier then raped Abeer, shot her, and set her body on fire in an apparent effort to cover up the crime. Abeer had reportedly expressed concerns to her mother because the soldiers had made advances towards her. A newly-released copy of her identity card shows that she was fourteen years old. For more than a week since the killings came to light US officials have claimed she was twenty.

The military initially believed insurgents carried out the attack until at least two soldiers discussed it during counseling sessions following the abduction and slaying of two members of their platoon.


But this happens, Pete, it's WAR.

Yeah. The rape, murder and emolation of 14-year-old girls happens?

And what with World War III breaking out you thought you could just forget about Iraq!

Shame on you! ThePete doesn't forget. ;)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Not Exactly World War III, But...

So, the other day I, more or less, said that [http://thepete.com/just-not-enough-wars-going-on/|World War III had officially begun]. I decided to make sure of that by looking up the definition of "world war" at Websters.Com. Here's what they say:



Well, considering America is really the only principle nation of the world left, any war the US enters into can be considered a world war based on Webster's definition. And America is the only principle nation left--I mean, what? Is there another nation who is willing to stand up against the US? I don't think so.

What's really funny is now former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says, according to [http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/davidpostman/archives/2006/07/gingrich_says_its_world_war_iii.html|a July 16, 2006 editorial] at SeattleTimes.Com, that:
America is in World War III and President Bush should say so.


Well, when America is in a "world" war, isn't that a bit of a given? I mean, what else does "world" mean?

Regardless, things have only gotten worse since last week. The USG has sent evacuation teams to Lebanon to get the roughly 25,000 US citizens out of the country (if they wish to leave). That's according to [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/16/AR2006071600226.html|a July 16, 2006 article] at WashingtonPost.Com from AP.org. According to [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5184946.stm|a July 16, 2006 article] at http://News.BBC.co.uk the UKG is planning for the evacuation of any Britons in Lebanon who wish to leave as well.

We all know Israel doesn't pull any punches and they are a nuclear power, so things could get rather tense.

What's even funnier is that the USG and the RG don't agree. Who is the RG? Oh yeah--we haven't really heard from them in a while--the Russian Government. Putin apparently doesn't like the USG's policy on this whole thing. Here's a clip from [http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0715-03.htm|a July 15, 2006 article] from AP.org available over at CommonDreams.Org that explains things pretty well:
In a chilly summit prelude, President Bush blocked Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization on Saturday and President Vladimir Putin mockingly said Moscow doesn't want the kind of violence-plagued democracy the United States has fostered in Iraq.


OH, NO HE DI-UNT!

More from the article:
Alternately joking and poking at each other, the two also showed differences at a news conference on the explosion of violence in the Mideast.

Bush held Israel blameless for its punishing attacks in Lebanon and said it was up to the militant group Hezbollah to lay down its arms. Putin was critical of Israel's use of force and said the violence "should stop as soon as possible."


Yes, three Israeli soldiers have been "kidnapped" by outside forces (1 by Hammas/Palestine and 2 by Hezbollah/Lebanon) but those outside forces have a bit to gripe about regarding Israel. Lebanon was occupied by Israel and Palestine still is.

So, imagine this scenario:

You and your big sister are sitting at the kids' table on Thanksgiving. You reach over and steal some of that delicious Turkey skin. Before you can even eat it, your sister slaps your face, and grabs an entire turkey leg off your plate. She also grabs a turkey leg from your brother's plate because he, too, tried to steal some skin. Then you both decide to get your turkey legs back, but your sister is holding them both too high for you to reach. So, you both go for her baked potato. She then drops her turkey legs, throws back her chair and begins to punch the living shit out of both of you.

So, both sides are wrong for what they did at various stages of the game, but big sister Israel is DEFINITELY overreacting now.

But anyone who thinks that this isn't a world war we're in right now is fooling themselves.

1) Israel is a nuclear power.

2) World War I began when a single important person was assasinated.

Three soldiers have been kidnapped and Israel is blowing up buildings and highways, killing civilians in the process (which is internationally illegal).

I'd just like to say "thanks" to all the folks who thought the Iraq Attack was a good idea. I'd also like to say "thanks" to the folks that thought Bush in the White House was a good idea.

You know, we did have a chance for someone ELSE to be in there, but SOME people were too busy calling other people "Sore Loserman".

Well, it's not to late to impeach!

Though, if WWIII gets any more heated it just might be too late to impeach and then Bush will have gotten away with it all.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

James Earl Jones As Darth Vader (sort of)

God bless YouTube.Com for this great little ditty (and the guy who did the hard work behind it)! Special thanks be to my friend [myspace.com/pauljay|Paul Jay] for emailing this to me:



It's a little slow in bits, but over all, it's pretty damn funny.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ted Stevens, Once Again, Psycho Moron

I just wanted to say that.

Somehow I managed to miss his comments on the 'net. Isn't it cool that a man completely unqualified, and very likely a psycho, gets to regulate something he knows very little about?

In case you missed it, here's a quick quote from a recent explanation he gave on how the 'net works taken from [http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0715-06.htm|a July 15, 2006 article] from [http://www.realcities.com/|McClatchy Newspapers] which shows us just how much of a fool this guy is:
"I just the other day got - an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially."


The man sounds like a 13-year-old kid trying to sound like he knows something about a thing he is clueless about. What's even more sad is in that article I linked to, the author tries to play off Stevens' reference to the Internet as a bunch of "tubes" as minor. The article explains that Stevens probably meant "pipes" which "is common slang in the telecom industry, especially when discussing the Internet carrying capacity of phone lines or cable."

Ahh, not exactly. The term "pipe" is used metaphorically by the uber-in-crowd of the 'net. The guys who run websites don't usually use the term, but the guys who actually maintain the computers/servers/etc. that websites are on would. See what I mean about Stevens coming across like a 13-year-old? He over heard some techies using the big Internet-words and thought he'd have a stab at it.

However, we all know [http://thepete.com/senate-does-its-job-and-before-vacation/|Ted Stevens is a madman]. This is why it's GREAT that he's something like third or fourth in line to be president. Sorry, I'd do the research but I'm just too scared to find out how close this freak is to running things...

TheJapan Part 1

There are two cultures I long to learn more about (and experience more of first hand, too). The obvious one is the Scottish culture. I am three-quarters Scottish, if you go back far enough, and TheWife and I were married on a hillside in Scotland with both of us wearing kilts. (Yes, the ceremony ROCKED.)

The less obvious culture (though it's still obvious if you know me) is the Japanese culture. I keep meaning to write more about it but I keep finding more "important" things to write about like politics, terrorism or The 5 Minute Show ;) So, here's the mega-J-post.

First off, the language. For going on five years now I've been trying to teach myself Japanese. It's not easy, but it's much easier than you might think. I am convinced that the only reason I'm not further along is my lack of discipline for it. I'm pretty comfortable with it by now, though I still can't say everything (even in a basic sense) that I'd like to. I can ask for directions, explain how cool something is and generally survive in Tokyo. Of course, I've never really put this to a test by spending any serious time hanging with a native Japanese person, but being able to correct the subtitles to your favorite Japanese language films from time-to-time does fill you with a bit of confidence.

But how did I get this far? Well, a couple of different ways. First, I got myself a copy of Pimsleur's Japanese lessons. These are OK. Again, it takes discipline to really get a lot out of these. They're very cold and boring to listen to so you really have to want it. There is one lesson that is downright funny because it teaches you how to come on to a Japanese woman--the joke's on you, of course, since it only suggests you'll fail at your attempt. :)

Next I got myself a copy of a truly ancient Japanese language program for Windows 95 (it's that old). It's called Power Japanese and, to date, is my favorite way to learn. It teaches you how to read, speak and understand a lot of basic Japanese in a variety of ways. My only problem with it is that it doesn't run properly on Windows XP and obviously doesn't run at all on OSX. I did get it to run in Virtual PC on OSX, but it takes so long to pull up Win98 on a Mac, so I stopped using it long ago.

What made me feel better about not using Power Japanese any more was the onset of the podcast. There are quite a stack of podcasts out there for learning Japanese. The first one I stumbled across was Learn Japanese which you can check out at http://japanese.libsyn.com/

At one point I described the Learn Japanese Japanese podcast as Pimsleur's with a soul--however, sadly, this is no longer my opinion. Over the past few months the 'cast went from being fun and regularly updated to being kind of boring and updated only once a month. That's just not enough to help a person learn a language even in passing.

About a month ago I found a podcast called JapanesePod101 which you can find at, predictably enough, JapanesePod101.com. Now, this is a weird podcast because it's corporate sponsored. Not by Budweiser or anything, but by a translation company, which makes sense, I suppose. However, I still wonder if they're leaving stuff out of their lessons just to force us to pay for their services--I call this the Tesla-syndrome. If you don't know who Tesla was, Google him. He is very important but has nothing to do with Japan.

ANYWAY, so Jpod101 is probably the best resource I've found because they update almost daily. The host is a guy called Peter (no relation) and he's also from Jersey, just like yours truly. The first funny thing about him is that his Jersey accent is almost identical to the accent of an old friend of mine. I wonder if they grew up in the same town. The second funny thing about Peter is his enthusiasm. For a while I thought he was just faking it because I don't know many people who are that excited about anything.

After listening to nearly 3 months of his lessons, I'm convinced his enthusiasm is for real. In fact, I've come to find his enthusiasm to be a complete requirement for my day. I instantly find myself jazzed up and energized when I hear the Jpod101 opening while I'm at work. I HIGHLY recommend JapanesePod101.com. I've learned a LOT and not just the language. Peter and his cast of native-speaking Japanese people (Nihonjin) also teach about the holidays, cultural practices and more. They've got over two gigs of lessons available for download and they're all pretty good.

All right, that's it for this week, but swing by next Saturday to read more about my adventures in learning about Japanese culture! I'll be delving into some great websites that cover various aspects of Japanese culture full-time.

Thanks for reading!

Ja ne! (See you!)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Is the World Ending or Is It Just Me?

I know DrudgeReport.Com always goes for the depresing, bleak headlines, but I've been following the news from other sources and the shit seems to be simultaneously hitting many fans all around the world. I mean, check out this screen I grabbed from Drudge last night:



Like I said [http://thepete.com/just-not-enough-wars-going-on/|yesterday], this is what World War III looks like. What's weirder is that I've been noticing a lot more conflict right in front of me. Like yesterday I saw a two SUVs get into a car accident literally right in front of me. Then I've had three total strangers walk up to me over the past week and act like general asses.

One guy got right in my personal space, brushing up against me even (I could smell alcohol), while complaining to me about how shitty it was (he actually did swear) that the Suncoast video store (where we were) only had one Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street. Then, he bought it and wandered into [http://poweranime.com|my favorite anime store] (as though he were following us) and procedes to brag to the woman behind the counter how cool it was that he had bought a VHS copy of Miracle on 34th Street. He then proceeded to buy a very expensive Mach 5.

This past Tuesday my friends Isadore and I were out in Westwood village when a random old man wandered up to us and tried to sell us a book that would help us make better choices for our marriage. When I told him I was married to another woman, he got disgusted and stormed off.

Just last night, I was in a Denny's with my buddy Britt, working on a screenplay, and some done with a huge beard and bad teeth came over and asked us what we were doing and the continued to talk with us until we finally said we had to leave.

Is it just me or are there a lot of weird things happening right now? Should we all be scared for some huge bad weird thing that is about to happen? Or is this confluence of weird negativity just a coincidence and nothing else?

I just want to know if there's a limit to the number of times I can use the acronym "WTF".

I hope not...

Oh yeah--I just remembered--last night on the way home from Denny's we saw a cat chowing down on a live mouse, or rat, or something. The rodent tried to get away but Britt's SUV made it dash back into the pause of the cat. It reminded me of the first couple scenes in The Exorcist when the dogs were fighting. Only without the dogs...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Just Not Enough Wars Going On...

OK, this has pretty much GOT to be WWIII or whatever the hell number we're up to now.

The US is in Afghanistan and Iraq, Israel is (let's be honest, now) Palestine and Lebanon.

This is what worl war looks like folks!

And guess what!

We're the invaders--that makes us the bad guys, not happy to trust the peoples of other countries to govern themselves.

Tired of all of the depressing stuff in the news today? Why not listen to [http://thepete.com/tag/TheUsCast|TheUsCast]??

TheUsCast Episode 1!

Check out our brand new audio podcast! It's TheUsCast! Featuring US!! As in, SiSi and ThePete. Patterned after the world famous [http://hucklebug.blogspot.com|Hucklebug podcast], TheUsCast has, well, us talking about our WICKED COOL lives :D

Well, you may not think they're wicked cool, but we do. Have a listen! Or [http://odeo.com/channel/99324/rss|subscribe!]


powered by ODEO

Trouble with the player? Click [http://media.odeo.com/files/0/7/8/623078.mp3|here] to listen/DL the straight mp3 file.

Guantanamo Likes Fox News and Tribunals; SCOTUS Not So Much

So, two big stories in the news from last week regarding everyone's favorite prison camp! First off, right after those three prisoners killed themselves it was written off as some sort of political statement--that these men really were only making a play for the airwaves and to make the US look bad.

Yeah, I'm sure it had nothing to do with them being stuck in a prison in the middle of nowhere without access to family, friends or a LAWYER. Yeah, it's political. Depression had NOTHING to do with it! It's ONLY POLITICAL!! STOP THINKING OF THESE PRISONERS AS HUMAN BEINGS!

They're just clever little creatures that are trying to kill us and make us look bad in the meantime.

However, they did succeed in killing themselves and it did hit the news--though not before the US Mil banned all media from the island... except for one news source, you guessed it: Fox News.

The following comes to us from [http://thinkprogress.org/2006/06/23/fox-gitmo|a June 23, 2006 post] at ThinkProgress.Org:
This morning, Fox News analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano described how the Defense Department had personally invited him on a trip to Guantanamo on Wednesday:

NAPOLITANO: I was doing my radio show with Brian Kilmeade the other day and I get an email from the Defense Department saying, “We have an extra seat on a flight down to Guantanamo, would you like to come?” So, of course, I cleared it all — I cleared it here with our superiors. …

HOST: What’d you see?

NAPOLITANO: Well, we saw everything. … We saw all six camps. … We had FBI interviews, I actually sat down and examined the evidence they’re going to use at trial with prosecutors. It was very detailed.

HOST: That was some kind of access.

NAPOLITANO: It was. It was great.

Napolitano offered his fair and balanced review of conditions at the prison: among other glowing reviews, he claimed it is “now gentle, almost child-like the way they treat the detainees.”


In other Gitmonews, the Supreme Court Of The United States (SCOTUS) ruled that the military tribunals the USG and US Mil are using to convict Gitmo prisoners are against the Geneva Conventions which we can then assume means they are therefore unConstitutional.

This is a clear win for the forces of good because it means human beings might actually get their rights back from the unGodly USG and US Mil.

After all, only God gives us rights, right? So if our rights are taken away by someone, that makes that someone unGodly, right?

RIGHT!

So why is everyone on the Right so "Right On!" about Gitmo prisoners not having rights?

I thought the Right was all Godly and stuff.

Maybe it's the 3rd Reich I'm thinking of. Or not. I get those two mixed up a lot these days. Preemptive wars, prison camps, I think you can understand... right?

Read more about the Gitmo/SCOTUS ruling in [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5129904.stm|an article] at http://News.BBC.co.uk.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The 5 Minute Show Episode 28!

Wow--Gary is a little crazy--our intern, Gary TheIntern, he actually broke into our one-bedroom-apartment/television studio to record his own episode of The 5 Minute Show. The only catch is, the damn episode is almost 8.5 minutes long!! Gary has a little problem understanding basic logic.

Well, at least we're back on schedule thanks to his antics. You might as well check out the episode. I mean, it's kind of amusing... I guess...



This week's episode is a 20.7mb mp4. YIPPEEEEE!

ANOTHER "TERRORIST" PLOT FOILED BY USG

No sooner did we realize how NOT a threat those loony birds from Florida were to the Sears Tower do we get reports last week of a bunch more terrorists-to-be have been arrested and their plot to hit targets on American soil has been foiled.

The thing is, those guys from Florida were never going to be a threat in the first place. According to [http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/432918p-364663c.html|a July 6, 2006 post] at NYDailyNews.Com:
An FBI informant urged seven terror suspects to target FBI offices throughout the country - including one in New York - and even helped the men scout the buildings, law enforcement sources told the Daily News yesterday.

The suspects, who also allegedly schemed to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago, were denied bond in a Miami federal court yesterday as sources shed light on the FBI effort to ensnare them.

Last December, the FBI arranged for an undercover informant posing as an Al Qaeda terrorist to meet with alleged ringleader Narseal Batiste, who authorities say had already recruited six men to help bring down the landmark 110-story Chicago office tower.

But in March, in an effort to solidify his "terrorist credentials," the informant suggested the men widen their aims to attack FBI offices in Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington and New York, a law enforcement source said.


This makes the situation more of an entrapment situation. In other words, they weren't even going to hit all those other targets without prompting from the FBI guy. Now, my next question is how much they were prompted about all the stuff they wanted to do.

Now, flash forward a week or so and you get a new story about terrorists miles from their goals but, it is suggested, they are much more serious than those freaks from Florida. In fact, let's not even talk about those guys at all because we've got a NEW THREAT, which is MUCH SHINIER than the old threat!

WEEEE!

SO, what's the deal with these new guys? Well, they weren't Americans at all, nor were they in America. How do we know they wanted to kill us? Well, they talked about it in an Internet chatroom, of course!

And as we all know, if it's on the Internet, IT MUST BE TRUE!!

Their plan, oddly reminiscent of the bad David Hasselhoff "film" [http://imdb.com/title/tt0116451/|Gridlock] from 1996, was to destroy tunnels leading to Manhattan. Their goal was to cause flooding of Wallstreet and general chaosity.

Sounds like a reasonable enough plan, but check out this clip from [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13749418/|a July 7, 2006 article] at MSNBC.com to find out just how close they were to actually pulling this plan off:
Investigators decided in recent weeks that the “plotting for this attack had matured to a point where it appeared that the individuals were about to move forward,” Mershon said. “They were about to go to a phase where they would attempt to surveil targets, establish a regimen of attack and acquire the resources necessary to effectuate the attacks.”


In other words, they weren't close at all.

In fact, by the sound of it, these guys haven't committed any crime at all. It seems like the only real reason they're saying these guys were for real was because one said he was acting on a "religious order" from bin Laden.

Well, THAT'S ENOUGH FOR ME! TAKE HIM AWAY!!

Or not...

Just seems like more trumped up reasons to be scared instead of smart (and therefore aware of how Bush and Co. are trying to distract us from all the laws he's breaking).

Monday, July 10, 2006

The 5 Minute Show Episode 27!

Sorry for the week-lateness! We were off for the 4th and I couldn't finish editing this one in time for last week. Anyway:

In this week's episode ThePete interviews an expert in Persian culture, history and other stuff, in an attempt to help us all better understand our Iranian friends. Watch and learn about how Persians came to be, how much control they already have over the American economy--AND MORE!!



You might want to turn up your volume on this one--for some reason the levels are really low. I may even go back and boost them up a bit. Please comment if anyone has any trouble hearing.

This week's ep is a 17mb mp4.

Watch for another new episode later this week. Probably Thursday. Then we'll be back on track starting next week. HUZZAH!

TIGHT ELECTION, CONSERVATIVE WINS--no, not US!

It's a close election. The two candidates are neck-and-neck on election day and as the vote count progresses things are still incredibly tight. Finally, when a victor is declared, it's the conservative candidate who wins--not by a nose--but by a tiny bit of dry skin on the very tip of his nose.

In fact, the lead is so tight, it's kind of astounding that it's even enough to be considered a win.

So, there are recounts demanded. They are done and the conservative is still the winner but thelead is still incredibly tight.

Am I referring to the 2000 presidential elections here in the US? What about the 2004 elections? No on both--I'm referring to Mexico's general elections held last week.

I think it's pretty damn funny that the pattern is virtually identical--right down to the accusations of irregularities, after the fact.

With such similar election behavior in the last two US presidential elections as well as this most recent Mexican election you might wonder if the fix was in across the board. Hell, that's what I'm wondering. Combine this suspicion with the fact that several liberal leaders across South America are gaining power the idea of a fix on the part of the USG and the neo-cons who run the USG is pretty understandable.

It's already been proven that the USG sank money into the recall attempt against Venezuela's Hugo Chavez (odds are they helped with the coup attempt) and our mucking about in South America goes back, at least, to the CIA-backed assasination of Chile's leader Allende back on September 11, 1973 (yep, you read the date right). So the idea of a USG-sponsored fix on the Mexican election makes perfect sense.

Did it happen? Who knows?

What I do know is that I trust abso-friggin-lutely no one these days.

You can read more about [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Mexican_general_election|Mexico's 2006 general election] at Wikipedia.org.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Pics from the Big Fourth of July Trip to NoCal!

Well, we finally got out of dodge for a few days and here are the pics I took:

This shot I took from the plane at LAX before we even took off. Don't know why, just did.
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This is a great example of SF/Oakland architecture. TheWife says that house has been on that spot for over 100 years. Pretty wild when you think about how most Americans can't remember what happened last month...
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I have no idea where these next pictures were taken because I wasn't precisely familiar with where we were. I know we were in Oakland, but that's about it.
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This next pic I took because it was of some writing on the back of a sign that only people in the water or on a boat could read.

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More random shots on the waterfront:

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This next pic is rated are because it uses the "f" word to mean sexual intercourse!! If you're under 13 DON'T LOOK AT THIS PIC WITHOUT PERMISSION OF YOUR PARENTS!! BOTH! I WANT A SIGNED PERMISSION SLIP IN MY EMAIL INBOX BEFORE YOU LOOK AT THE BELOW IMAGE YOUNG PERSON!!

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This is a pic of a message/design carved into a not-yet-dried block of cement that later became a sidewalk:

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In Oakland there's a guy who owns a local movie house and he uses part of the marquis to talk politics. My kinda guy. :) Here are a couple of pics I snapped of the marquis from last weekend:

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Here's a slightly closer, but crappier focussed pic:

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And here's TheWife sound asleep at her sister's boyfriend's place. That's Jupiter his cat, claiming her as his own. :)

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Here are some views from the balcony of TheWife's sister's old apartment. We helped her move to her new place. I can't believe she's leaving such a great view behind. :(

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And here are some cute pics of TheWife and I waiting for our plane to leave at OAK to come back to LA:

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Man, I have no pictoral proof that I saw family at all over our trip! ACK! I need to take more pictures of HUMANS. For all you know we broke into some house that had a cat and just posed for that pic!

Ah well. :(

Better luck next vacation! (I wonder when that'll be!)