The Princess Bride (Comedy)

Hello loyal fans. This week is the beloved STAR Testing week at the High School. As a result, most of the teachers, myself included, are showing films. Today I had the privilege of sharing one of my favorite films, The Princess Bride, with a group of freshmen. Despite some initial hesitation, many of them seemed to thoroughly enjoy the film. This inspired me to regularly post suggested viewing for my readers; if you find yourself with a few hours on an overcast weekend day, perhaps you can find something here of interest.

I have to say that The Princess Bride is one of the finest comedies ever made. It includes an ensemble cast which includes future stars Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, and Fred Savage. The more established stars (at the time) include Peter Falk (Columbo), Carol Kane, and Billy Crystal. And, of course, we dare not forget Andre the Giant; he is big and scary and might get mad (ignoring that he is dead).

The witty dialog based on William Goldman’s classic 1973 novel of the same name makes for an amusing romp through the world of screeching eels, sword play, the Fire Swamp, and castle storming. Will the beautiful Princess Bride Buttercup be forced to marry the evil Prince Humperdinck? Will Inigo Montoya avenge his father’s murder at the hands of the mysterious six fingered man? What exactly is a Holocaust Cloak? And more importantly, where does one procure such an item? Will Westley save the day? Remember, as Westley reminds us: “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Princess

Quote of the Day:

“Anybody want a peanut?” – Fezzik, The Princess Bride

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Published in: on April 30, 2007 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pink Lemonade

Hello loyal fans. What is the deal with Pink Lemonade? You see, I was at In-N-Out Burger two weeks ago in Davis, CA. With my Double-Double I elected to have lemonade; much to my chagrin, the only option was the dreaded pink lemonade. On a confusing, and potentially amusing, side note…the lemonade dispenser had one of those fun little pull toggles on it; one side was labeled “sweetened”, the other “unsweetened”. Much to my surprise I discovered the toggle was reversible. Oh the havoc one could wreak with that little baby…

Anyway, pink lemonade. I mean, seriously, who wants pink lemonade? What kind of lemon bleeds pink anyway? It is so unnatural; pink goes with lemonade like Law School Finals goes with FUN! I believe pink lemonade is all a conspiracy to lull Americans into a state of sugar induced happiness; when the tart, yellow beauty is removed from lemonade we are weakened as a society.

We must take a cue from the former Soviet Union whose favored son, Yakov Smirnoff, would no doubt remind us of our weakness thusly: “In United States you make lemonade pink; in Russia, pink lemonade makes YOU!

Or, perhaps, Harry Nilsson would be a better adviser with the immortal lyrical masterpiece: “You put the pink in the lemonade, you drank them both up…you put the pink in the lemonade, you drank them both up…you put the pink in the lemonade, called your doctor, woke him up and said ‘Doctor ain’t there nothing I can take?’ I said, ‘Doctor, to relieve this belly ache.’ The answer was of course “NO…there is nothing you can take”.

Or, perhaps, Zero Wing has the true reason we must avoid pink lemonade:

All Your Base Pink Lemonade

And that, my friends, is why you should not put the pink in the lemonade!

Quote of the Day:

“If life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade” – Dale Carnegie

Published in: on April 29, 2007 at 9:47 pm  Comments (1)  

The Direction Of This Blog

Hello loyal fans. I think it is time I take a cue from the immortal Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. This blog has, essentially, become a place for my daily diatribes about social problems. While there is certainly a time and place for these things, I do believe I must realign to my original purpose: entertaining the masses in a light, more accessible, and perhaps less sardonic, manner. For those who enjoy the daily lambasting of society, fret not, such posts will not cease altogether, their frequency will simply diminish.

Quote of the Day:

1. Find a subject you care about.
2. Do not ramble, though.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Have the guts to cut.
5. Sound like yourself.
6. Say what you mean to say.
7. Pity the readers.

– Kurt Vonnegut Jr. as quoted in Science Fictionisms (1995), compiled by William Rotsler

Published in: on April 28, 2007 at 9:57 am  Leave a Comment  

A Planted Aquarium?

Hello loyal fans. While I am firmly rooted in the saltwater side of fish keeping, I do toy, off and on, with the idea of setting up a small planted tank in the style of Takashi Amano. There is something serene and beautiful about a well established planted aquarium with a number of small fish swimming within. I have, in my storage room, the perfect candidate: a 29g tank (with the requisite filter and lights) simply sitting empty. The work involved in this is, of course, would not be minimal; in fact, it would undoubtedly require as much maintenance as the 55 gallon reef tank I maintain. I must conceded, however, that the reef tank itself is not in great shape at the moment and I find that somewhat depressing. I do not want to lose focus on the redevelopment of that tank in favor of a new project. Or, I could get new shoes…

Quote of the Day:

“Under the sea, under the sea
Darling it’s better down where it’s wetter
Take it from me
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we’re devoting full time to floating
Under the sea…”

– Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 7:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Personal Accountability…

Hello loyal fans. I have been disturbed, of late, by the general lack of what I would call “personal accountability” in our society. What I mean by “personal accountability” is, to some degree, what many would call “responsibility”. I choose not to use the term “responsibility” as I feel this implies some sort of social burden superimposed on people; I see “personal accountability” as something which comes from within. This is not to say that this personal accountability is not an imposed social construct, however “responsibility” seems to mandate external supervision, whereas “personal accountability” is managed from within. There comes a time when every person must “self regulate”, as it were; we, as a society, must learn not to abuse the personal freedoms we are so lucky to live with, lest we risk losing them. If we cannot manage ourselves, someone, or some entity, will inevitably rise and do so.

I think consideration of the nature of man is requisite in this discussion. Throughout the ages philosophers have debated the true nature of man. Thomas Hobbes argued, essentially, that man in inherently selfish and will make decisions to his personal benefit. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, writing in the 1700s, asserts that man is neither good nor evil by nature; instead, he argues that human malfeasance is a result of society itself. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.” In essence, it is society which destroys the good in man by robbing him of his individuality and his personal scruples. It is difficult to make a decision as to which theory is more correct, however I would argue that society’s influence over the individual cannot be underestimated. Few people break the mold of social expectations; those who do are cast out. But, I digress…

Why do we find such a dearth of personal accountability in society today? Is it a result of man’s nature? I contend that it is not. Nevertheless, no matter what one believes about the nature of man, it is clear that our society is failing to maintain an acceptable standard for behavior. I encourage you, my readers, to take the time out of your day to simply sit and observe what takes place in the world around you.

Why has it become acceptable for people to throw their trash on the ground when a trash can is a mere five feet away? Is it simply society failing to train good citizens? Can we blame parents? The schools? What happens inside a person that makes them think “gee, it sure would be great to just leave my mess here for someone else to deal with…”? Why is it that these same people then complain about the condition of their surroundings? Is it simply ignorance?

There is a simple lack of personal accountability. That part of the psyche which says “don’t do that…it is bad” seems to simply be shut off in contemporary America. There is a litany of instances of this lack of personal accountability. I look to such examples as the following:

– our failure to maintain our community (whether it be at home, locally, nationally, or globally)

– the deplorable manner in which we treat other humans (even our “friends”)

– the general acceptance of dishonesty within society

– our inability to give credit to others when credit is due

– our social predisposition towards apathy regarding the plight of others

– and I know it sounds plebeian, but simple things like traffic violations (even when nobody is around)

I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to try to improve our condition by working on your own personal accountability. By doing what is right, even when others are not there to ensure you do, you set an example for our society. The simple changes you make in your life can do nothing but inspire change in others as well.

Quote of the Day:

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Published in: on April 26, 2007 at 10:03 pm  Comments (1)  

Rank It (1)

Hello loyal fans. As a part of my never ending quest to resist the stupidification (yes…stupidification) of American society I have devised a funtastic (another made up word) new game. As I often do, now you too will have an opportunity to RANK THE SEXIEST MALE POLITICAL LEADER OF THE COLD WAR! Click the links below to open an image in a new window.

Josef Stalin, John F. Kennedy, Mao Zedong, Mikhail Gorbachev, Richard Nixon, Ho Chi Minh

Just leave your vote in a comment! In three days I will total up the results and declare a winner!

Published in: on April 25, 2007 at 7:10 am  Comments (1)  

On Apathy And Ignorance…

Hello loyal fans. Apathy. That is the subject. Can one write about apathy, I wonder? Is that the opposite of apathetic?

Why is there so much apathy? Why do people simply just not care? What has our society become? The “I don’t care” attitude is everywhere. It is everything. We indulge ignorance. We accept obliviousness. Apathy and ignorance walk hand in hand. Ignorance is a product of apathy, and apathy a product of ignorance.

The inquisitiveness of our society seems dead. Where is the thirst for knowledge? People choose actively to live uninformed lives. I suppose that means they are not apathetic after all. But, is choosing to not do/care/learn anything truly not apathy? If nothing, it is certainly active ignorance. We must remove the support system. As we accommodate apathy and ignorance we destroy our society. People have no ethos, only ego, an ego based in ignorance.

Quote of the Day:

“I mean, say what you will about the tenants of National Socialism, Dude – at least it’s an ethos.”

– Walter Shobchak, The Big Lebowski

Published in: on April 24, 2007 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Pacifism And Society…

Hello loyal fans. I spent a fair amount of time this afternoon grading student essays on the Civil Rights movement. That process, I must say, is not something about which I can complain. There is little in life better than sitting on a porch surrounded by cacti as a cool breeze wafts the smell of spring towards you from the freshly leaved trees.

Basically, the essay asked students to do two things:

1) Compare the philosophies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X and rationalize that with the upbringing of the two men.

2) Take a stand on which philosophy was “better” and explain why.

I found that an incredible number of my students identified very strongly with the teachings of MLK Jr. If you are not familiar with the man, think Ghandi; if you still are not familiar, then the public education system is worse off than I thought…or you were too busy frolicking in the flowers of your mind whilst you were in history class (also a strong possibility given the general aversion to learning which has swept our society). To readdress my original point, I found this to be a generally peculiar happenstance as, when it comes right down to it, most High School students seem to have a propensity for inspiring discontent and hatred among one another. How can the same students who write “we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools” revel in the misfortunes of their fellow students? I have decided it is unfair to blame the children. The hypocrisy of this situation, of course, is not limited to the classroom. We see it every day in our global community. How often do we hear the world leaders proclaim “peace is the solution” while those same leaders carry out bombing campaigns on foreign nations, ignore the plight of their citizens, and generally behave like very bad boys and girls.

I think, perhaps, as a result the general lack of introspection (or at least contemplation) taking place in society today pacifism is a failed philosophy. That is not to say that there is something inherently unnatural about pacifism; rather, people seem to accept violence and conflict as simply part of “being human” because nobody dares to question it. Societies time and time again create gods whose wrath is focused solely on maintaining social order; leaders can conveniently cite those same Gods when carrying out policy decisions detrimental to the health and safety of others. I think Karl Marx (yikes…another scary historical figure) is incorrect in his assessment that religion is the “opiate of the masses”. Rather, religion is the “intimidator of the masses”…simply one more attempt to keep people in line under the guise of benevolence and love; those who question such ideologies from within are immediately cast out, and those who question it from without are iniquitous (look that one up) heathens. It is difficult to disagree with the teachings of the illustrious Richard Milhouse Nixon who proclaimed in 1974 at his White House farewell: “Always remember others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. Then, you destroy yourself.”

If you find that all of this is really confusing…screw it…go find out what is on TV. Maybe I will go watch TV too. Perhaps there I can find someone to tell me what to think…

Quote of the Day:

“You can bomb the world into pieces, but you can’t bomb it into peace…”

– Michael Franti

Published in: on April 24, 2007 at 2:41 am  Leave a Comment  

On Social Mores

Hello loyal fans. I would like to write to you today about Social Mores. If you do not know what a more is…well, then, I suppose you should read more (different kind of more), or you could look it up. As my father used to always say “let’s go get the dictionary” or, on rare occasions, “let’s go get the encyclopedia”. Anyway, back to the topic at hand: Social Mores. I had an interesting discussion with a stranger yesterday about society and gender roles. I had held the door for a group of roughly seven women; an elderly lady at the end of the line made a comment to the effect that I was very polite for doing so. Feeling a bit snarky I fired back with “Ah…but what would the Women’s Lib crowd say?” to which she replied “You know, I miss all the little niceties of life we had before they came around”. This got me thinking about gender roles in our day to day life. What makes a “man” and what makes a “woman”. My conclusion: we are all insane. When you look back historically at many of the social courtesies which exist in our society today it is true that they rise out of the notion that women are inherently more weak and delicate than men. Let us take opening doors as an example. In olden times it was determined that women should not exert the physical energy necessary to open doors; rather, that energy needed to be preserved for the benefit of child rearing and breeding (much the same reason women were not allowed to work in factories). In a similar fashion, the practice of opening car doors for a lady stems from the early days of carriages in busy “metropolitan” areas. The streets, you see, were oft flooded with mud, muck, garbage, equestrian and human waste (we will not even talk about parasols)…not an appropriate place for a lady to step. As such, a true gentleman would hold the door for a lady and assist her into the carriage to prevent her dress from becoming soiled. Now I say to you, how can one argue that clean dresses are a bad thing? While I certainly agree that a woman should be allowed to wade through excrement if she wants to (and if you are a woman reading this, you already are), I do not fully grasp how in our contemporary society it makes her any less of a woman to enjoy having a door held for her. Nevertheless, many of the same rules seem to apply to men. I mean, really, if as a man you are not buying meals, eating dead beasts (hopefully killed with your own bare hands) on a regular basis, and carrying fallen comrades from the battlefield what kind of man are you? Not much of a man at all I suppose….

And so I reiterate my previous point: we are all insane. Why do we waste our time and energy fretting about these rules society superimposes on our natural ego-driven humanity?

And so I said to myself, “self, where can I find a quote that really sums this all up?” and the answer was: Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead: “Worry is a waste of emotional reserve”

Published in: on April 22, 2007 at 5:06 pm  Comments (1)  

Welcome to “Batch Is The New Shit”

Hello loyal fans. I have often mocked the ludicrisity of blogging. That is right…”ludicrisity”…and I know it is not a word. Nevertheless, recent events have stirred me to begin my own inane web based ramblings. I can pinpoint the instance in which I decided a blog was the thing for me. I was riding in a car discussing with associates the merits of skinny pants; you know, the ones women wear that taper down to the ankle. I was assured that such pants were highly unfashionable and I was informed that the source of said knowledge was none other than the omnipotent, and infallable, internet. Given my general belief that my opinions are better than everyone elses, I decided that fate had at last thrust me into a situation in which circumstances made my entry into the world of web ranting unavoidable. So, internet world, get ready for the insanity!

Published in: on April 22, 2007 at 3:38 am  Leave a Comment