Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Asking For Clarification

Okay. Lemee see if I've got this straight: the US [and by extension, most of the rest of the world] is on the knife-edge of a possibly cataclysmic financial crisis. Economic experts across the political spectrum agree that Something must be done, and quickly. The President suggest a plan, which even he acknowledges is far from ideal, but the best that can be done at the moment. Several days of rapid negotiations follow. A deal is in place, then it isn't. Finally, a package is settled on by leaders of both parties. In a rare show of statesmanship [especially nowadays], the Democrats throw nearly-full support behind it. Both major Presidential candidates [who probably would have preferred to sidestep the whole thing] get on board. Then, at voting time, the majority of Republicans leave their President swinging in the breeze. Their defection, along with the few Democrats who never agreed to support the package, is enough to kill the proposal. Have I basically got this right? If I do, I'd like to interject Leno's Question [the famous inquiry from Leno to Hugh Grant, after Grant had been arrested for soliciting. This was at the time Grant was in a long-term relationship with Elizabeth Hurley, a woman so mind-bogglingly beautiful that men across the planet were willing to surrender one of "the boys", in exchange for just the possibility of using the other one with her]:

"What were you thinking?"

I mean, you've left the President [in theory, the highest-ranking member of your party] in disgrace [although anyone arguing that he had already placed himself there will get at least a hearing from me], your party's candidate in the upcoming Presidential election in the lurch [McCain reportedly was no more than lukewarm to the plan in the first place], not to mention the economic chaos that much-smarter people than I in such matters [much smarter than most of the Congressmen as well, unless I miss my guess] say is certain to ensue.Well, I, for one have to say I will NEVER call the Democratic Party disorganized again!

Of course, those of you who live in countries using the Parliamentary system of government have the right to snicker at our confusion [the UK, whose famous Houses of Parliament are pictured at right, is just one example].Under that form of governance, Monday's vote would probably constitute a vote of "no confidence" [if I understand the circumstance rightly]. When the Republican proposal was defeated, the Democrats, being the majority party in both US Houses, would immediately form a new government [and just imagine all the hassle that would save us over the next six weeks!]. I don't know what will happen next here, but, personally, I plan to save all my EC credits. At the going rate [1,000 @ $USD 6.00], I might just be able to keep a roof over my head!
-Mike Riley

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dangerous Questions

[This post is mainly for guys; women, of course, are free to read it, but, as they are all too well aware of the techniques revealed within, why would they?]

As regular readers of these wrds can tell you, I recently [earlier this week] became a year older [51, to be exact; I'm not particularly sensitive about aging. It's that sudden stop at the end that bothers me...] As a representative of "experience" on the Blogosphere [not "knowledge", mind you, but "experience"], I'm taking it on myself to alert some of our less-schooled male readers to consider their words carefully, especially when in conversation with A Person we'll call, for sake of identification, That Special Someone [and yes, there is a romantic component at work here. Just so's ya know...]

As anyone who's ever been in A Romantic Relationship can tell you, there are difficult conversations that can creep up at the least desirable
moments [examples of these include inquiries about phone numbers found in your possession, requests for further details on the Person That Special Someone's Best Friend saw you out with last night, and so on]. The dangers of those questions would seem obvious to anyone. Candid replies may not work ideally in these scenarios, but, as always, do what seems best. Remember, honesty is not a bad option [especially if Last Night went better than you'd hoped].

Sometimes, however, questions can come from the worst possible place; the imagination of one or both parties to the relationship [if there are more or less than two parties to said relationship (at least under normal circumstances), get that situation well in hand before any further mayhem can ensue]. There are few questions more terrifying [or more dangerous] to Our Young Man In Love, than the school based around variations on "What if?" You probably have heard of the type: "Honey, if I were to die suddenly [NEVER a good place for the conversation to go], would you start dating again?" Your best option with this type of question is to invoke Phyfe's Rule; nip it in the bud!

But People Who Love can be wily [though, now that I think of it, I don't remember seeing any Road Runner cartoons that speculated on the love life of one Wile E. Coyote. But I digress], asking questions that slide into the hot fantasy category. Example; "Sweetie, if I could share you for the night with any woman in the world [or man, if more suitable to your situation. As always, your mileage may vary], who would it be?" For the love of God, never answer that question! Like a choice between a buzz saw and a vat of acid, there is NO safe option! For example, my quandary: I've always found Jo Frost, Television's SuperNanny, rather hot. Maybe it's the glasses; maybe it's the womanly proportions on that girl; maybe it's the prospect of being sent to the Naughty Chair [I can't wait to see what the "Comments" page does with this revelation]; at any rate, there you are.

Not so long ago, The Woman I Love [certainly not a courtesy title] asked that one; myself, being in a less than rested state, made the mistake of Candor. What in Hell was I thinking? I don't think TWIL was so much offended as completely puzzled by my pick. And there was no explaining it, of course.

So, Young Lovers, whomever you are, hello. Be vewy, vewy careful how you answer the Dangerous Questions. And, for those who MUST ask, follow the Attorney's Principle and NEVER ask a question that you don't know the answer to! Or want to know...

-Mike Riley

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Watching The Wheels Fall Off...

Is it just moi, or are any of the rest of you on the Blogosphere having trouble executing a three-point turn without encountering Something New about Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for vice-president? And when are we to hear something substantive from the political flavor du jour?
Like most people, I thought Palin's selection by Presidential candidate John McCain came out of right field. Yes, I've heard all the comments that she has more "executive experience" than Barack Obama [and for the moment, let's ignore the fact that Palin probably administers more elk and caribou than humans]. Sure, Democratic veep choice Joe Biden once lifted part of a major speech from one given in the English Parliament, without acknowledgment. What college sophomore, in this Internet era, can say he or she hasn't committed the moral equivalent of that act? (We can't call it edifying, but it was almost inevitable)
I wouldn't even mind the Palinmania that seems to be sweeping the US, if she'd at least had a hit single or two [I mean, the Beatles waited to come here until they were atop the US charts]. My memory of the Eighties isn't as good as it used to be, but I don't seem to remember Geraldine Ferraro getting this much hype when the Democrats nominated her for VP. Could it be because [Heaven forbid] she's a former beauty-pageant contestant/TV sportscaster/"pothead" [by her own admission]? (I was the second and third, but have never entered a beauty contest. For obvious reasons...)

I guess my real problem here is that, at a time when the Other Issues [war, economic free fall, loss of world respect, (add whatever I've missed)], we're dwelling on eyeglasses, hair styles, and other peripheral matters. Then again, how is this different from any of our recent Presidential elections? For God's sakes, people, FOCUS...

-Mike Riley

Friday, September 12, 2008

Something New [to me, anyway]

Sometimes discovering new things is accomplished by hard work; other times, it's just a matter of checking your EntreCard "in" box. Case in point: a new advertiser, Ritualistic, has a featured post on the machinima Red vs Blue. I think I may have seen some of this stuff somewhere before, but this is the first time it's made a real impression. Like a lot of "genre" comedy albums that came out in the 70's and 80's ["doper", "wiseass", "celebrity impersonations", etc], this can probably get old very quickly, but the good people at Roosterteeth [creators of "RvB" and possibly inventors of the whole machinima art form], at least in their first series, have some funny shit, man [Sorry. I almost put out a "doper" album in '83]. Since the story line of RvB involves soldiers, they talk like soldiers [IE, curse words, etc. If you let your kids watch most R-rated movies, they've probably heard everything they'd hear here. But be advised].
As I understand it, the original series is posted on YouTube; search for "RvB" or "Roosterteeth" and you should be fine. There are worse ways to spend some time on a Sunday [or Saturday, as the case may be].
-Mike Riley

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Do Not Disturbia...

As anyone who pays even the slightest bit of attention to reality can tell you, things in this life have a tendency to repeat [consider the peppers I had for dinner tonight. Or don't]. Consider World War I, followed twenty or so years later by World War II [The Sequel]. More to the point, consider the two movie posters reproduced above. On the left, it's James Stewart and Grace Kelly, promoting the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window. On the right, Shia LaBeouf, in a poster for last year's Disturbia. Pretty similar, aren't they? Both include a man holding binoculars, and feature a black - and - red color scheme [although anyone who dares to compare Mr. Stewart and Mr. LaBeouf's acting talent will personally get bitch-slapped by me for being a wise-ass].

Anyway, in a new lawsuit playing to early critical acclaim, the owners of the original story ["Murder From A Fixed Viewpoint"] claim that, since Disturbia is such a precise copy of [oh, let's be nice and call it homage to] Rear Window, it, like the Hitchcock predecessor, should have paid royalties to use that story [as Alfred Hitchcock and James Stewart, who conceived the idea of making the movie, did].

What makes this all the more fascinating is the fact that Steven Spielberg was Executive Producer on Disturbia. One would think Spielberg, of all people, would know better. He must have seen this coming when major reviews in New York and Toronto noted the glaring similarities [while noting that, for all that, it was a reasonably well-made movie. But no Rear Window].

Anyway, I had an idea. In future, whenever a movie too closely copies another film, domestic or foreign, without openly admitting it, half the profits should go into research. After all, there are only supposed to be seven "plots". It's time for the creative people of the world to fill in the many gaps on the Periodic Table of Plots [or, at the very least, come up with an eighth plot!].

- Mike [humming She Blinded Me With Science] Riley
P.S.: I'm Michael Riley, and I do not approve this message.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Seeing Is Believing

In 1968, as the Vietnam War was at its height, no newscaster was more respected in the United States than Walter Cronkite [left]. Dutifully, he had been reporting on the US incursion based on Government-supplied information. But he began hearing reports from colleagues on the scene that led him to question exactly what was happening in that corner of Southeast Asia. As an "old school" journalist [he had reported with distinction during World War II a quarter-century earlier], Cronkite wanted to explore these stories himself. He finally persuaded CBS [the network he worked for] to send him to Vietnam, and report from the war zone. While there, he spoke to officers and enlisted men, official and unofficial sources. And he came to a disturbing conclusion; he, and the rest of the American people, were being lied to.

In his reports from Vietnam, and his reporting on the War thereafter, Cronkite was a changed man. In an editorial, he said what many on the scene had said; the War, as it was being fought, was unwinnable. His coverage changed the opinions of many at home.

Something similar happened a few years ago, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region of the United States, with special destruction reserved for the city of New Orleans. Journalists on the scene saw the destruction and death, and were amazed that the Government attempted to say, "All is well".Their reports reflected what they saw and heard.

Now that region, still rebuilding from Katrina, is about to be challenged again. AS this is being written, Hurricane Gustav is about twelve hours from reaching land in the Gulf. To be fair, the lessons learned from Katrina are bearing fruit. New Orleans, a city built below sea level, has been evacuated. The Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] is on the scene. Equipment and the military are there [it's a pity so many are unavailable, fighting another unwinnable war]. Once again, the Gulf region, and the world, holds its breath.

Those of you who pray, or meditate, or believe in positive thinking: please send your thoughts to New Orleans and environs. No area should go through what they have gone through.


-Mike Riley