Wednesday, September 27, 2006

One-Hit Wonders, the Wave of the Future

I alluded to this in one of my pointless musings, but the current state of the music world is really starting to bother me. Due to numerous factors, many of which I'm admittedly not even familiar with, the quality of albums and singles in general seems to be declining. In fact, I'm finding myself tuning to classic rock stations more often in an attempt to get away from the audible crap that is being piped over our airwaves.

As I mentioned in my pointless musing, the great Bob Dylan even pointed out that modern music is mostly crap. Now, while he went so far as to say the last 20 years have been mostly crap, I'm only going to claim the last four or five. Mostly, since the turn of the century.

Before everyone starts jumping on me, I'm not claiming that all music is garbage... just a lot of it. A higher proportion of it than there used to be. Yes, we still have our superstars knocking out decent to great hits, we still have our "rookies of the year" blowing us away with startling debuts, and we still have our underground movements pushing the mainstream to the brink of experimentation. But... we also have a lot of crap. A lot of it. Usually it goes by the moniker "emo" or some such variation, but they're hardly the sole culprit, and some of it is even quite good.

Here are some of the problems my barely educated opinion has identified:

The proliferation of digital downloads. This is actually coming to a head with the recording industry, as various musical artists are arguing that the art of the album is disappearing from mainstream music. "Albums tell a story" is usually what is said, but again, this statement normally comes from established, "artistic" musicians. The digital era lets us buy music one song at a time, making the necessity of creating 10 to 12 solid tracks less necessary. A band can shoot to stardom with one solid single, and quite a bit of the time, newer bands seem to release "albums" with one absolutely kick-ass track, a couple of good to okay ones, and a ton of crap (OK Go comes to mind, and I'm actually a fan). And, because of the digital era bringing in digital distribution, more and more bands can pull a Kinks on us and just release a ton of stuff, hoping that a few of the songs catch on (sorry, Kinks, I love you, but it's true).

Here's the biggie... I have a lot of friends who are in bands at the moment, several of them signed, close to being signed, or otherwise on their way. Their main problem? They can't read music. Seriously. Now, I understand that talent and "ear" go a long way towards making a rockin' song, but not being able to read music? This is, most likely, the single most predominant reason that modern bands become one-hit wonders. They can knock out that one rockin' song, but lack the musical knowledge to create a distinctly different follow up.

See, how it normally works is that "jam bands" improvise their songs together. But after a while, their improv loses variety (as improv usually does) and everything starts sounding the same. Take my favorite band, U2. Early on, they weren't all that great at reading music, and most of their stuff sounded the same (the stuff that didn't benefited from having Steve Lillywhite onboard). By the Unforgettable Fire album, however, they took the time to learn formal music, and soon gave us The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, two very different albums that benefited from studying music, not just emulating it.

Jazz and Blues fans know what I'm talking about. The stuff that's "jammed" usually sounds the same, and it takes performance and talent to give it that nuance that makes one Jazz/Blues song different from another. But... it still sounds quite a bit alike. However, for Jazz and Blues, this is usually the point, as John Fogerty has testified to. For modern pop and rock, this only leads to disaster. That one hit, followed by a slow fade into obscurity, playing local bars and colleges to your fans who are probably your drinking buddies anyway.

So, come on, people now, smile on your brother and learn how to read music. Learn how to properly write music. Study the shit... that's what will let you avoid being some flash in the pan. That's what will make you great.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Nothing But Pointless Musings

Voicemail menus are slow and complicated on purpose, so phone companies can squeeze every possible extra second out of your phone plan.

Bono and U2 definitely outshined Billie Joe and Green Day on Monday Night Football, despite what all those emo/screamo/wannabe-punk kids will tell you. But it was still cool to see them on stage together.

Why does Hollywood remake good movies? Shouldn't they remake the bad ones?

That brunette I'm hard-up for officially hates me. If anyone wants to ask a lonely, pathetic, self-righteous blogger out on a date, message me for my phone number. (seriously)

The San Diego Padres are now two games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kick ass.

I'm almost in agreement with Bob Dylan: modern music tends to suck. I don't really think it's the talent... it's more to do with all the emo/screamo/wannabe-punk bands that are full of "musicians" who can't read music.

MySpace is taking over the world. There's apparently a MySpace television show now. That's ridiculously frightening.

High school kids with MySpace quotes like "live every day like its your last" really annoy me. As do people with quotes from Will Farrell movies... especially Anchorman. People, you are not kind of a big deal. In fact, you're all idiots.

Anybody who feels like going to Croatia for a couple of weeks during summer of 2007, let me know. I'm planning a trip and, unlike many of my recent plans, I'd like to see this one NOT fall through.

American Dad
is better than The Family Guy.

Goodyear blimps flying over domed stadiums during football games seems kind of pointless to me.

Soldiers should never feel guilty for being alive when someone they know is killed, but we do anyway.

If the world went through a Sudoku craze instead of a Karaoke craze, the world would be less annoying. Damn the Japanese. Damn them.

I wish I could cook. I wish I could dance. So much so, I will one day attend culinary school and enroll at a dance studio. Really.

Mitch Hedberg was right... life would be easier if we all just had one long curvy tooth.

My nephew won't date a cheerleader because he thinks they're "peppy" all of the time. Personally, I think my nephew is gay, but oh, well.

I read about two crimes this past week that officially make me sorry to be a human being. I won't go into detail here, but one involved a pregnant woman, her three kids, and a babysitter, and the other involved a man getting angry at his wife and daughter while driving.

Writing would be easier for me if I were better at it.

So would brain surgery.

I'm really pissed that not one person that counted answered the questions from my last blog.

Calgon, take me away. If you know what that means, you are officially too old.

This was very pointless... and not very musing.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Who Reads This Crap?

Apparently, according to a few emails and MySpace messages, my recent blogs have been quite bad. While these complaints don't really bother me, it reinforced my curiosity.

Who reads this crap?

Yes, I blog for all the typical reasons...
A) Bored
B) Feel like a rant
C) Vanity
D) Can't write anything else
E) I like annoying people
F) Why the Hell not?
G) All of the above

But... I'm admittedly irreverent and implicitly irrelevant, so I can only wonder... who really reads this crap? I have a few subscribers, so those zombies are obvious, but who the Hell are the rest of you?

So, I've decided to try to take a survey. I know this is futile as 99% of you won't bother, but screw it, I'm "G) All of the above," remember?

Answer these in a blog comment, if you would...

1) Who the Hell are you?
2) Why do you read this blog?
3) Do you read a lot of blogs?
4) Do you like the word "blog?" (I absolutely hate it)
5) How did you find this blog?
6) Blog, blog, blog, blog, bleh...

Oh, and if you're one of my regular "commenters," don't bother... I know your stupid answers already.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Motorcycle Incentives

As someone who splits his time driving through open territory and overcrowded cities, I often find myself complaining about congestion. I know, I know... EVERYONE in overcrowded cities complains about traffic, but they're in the unique position of being forced to deal with it and, as such, are victims of a certain level of "institutionalization" to bad traffic. I, on the hand, usually only drive through shitty traffic when I feel like it. Since I love Los Angeles and San Diego, I usually feel like it quite often, but...

TRAFFIC SUCKS!!!

So one day on the I-405, and everybody goes through this, I notice a couple of motorcycles weaving their way through traffic, doing at least 35 MPH while everyone else was stagnating at 15 or less (in California, motorcycles are still allowed to drive between lanes and between cars). And it occurred to me, why doesn't the government offer mondo incentives for people to drive motorcycles all of the time?

Think about it. Four motorcycles can fit in the amount of roadway that a single normal-sized car requires. Should everyone drive a motorcycle, it would theoretically increase the amount of available road by a multiple of four. An eight-lane freeway would suddenly become a 32-lane freeway. A 50-space parking garage would suddenly become a 200-space parking garage.

And, shit, everyone would use less gasoline. Whats the average for motorcycles these days? 40 MPG? 50?

Now, before you think you're clever because you're figuring out why this won't work, let me beat your ignorant ass to the punch. There are, quite obviously, several issues with this idea. Let's go through some of them one at a time...

1) People are still going to need their station wagons, their trucks, their sedans, their vans, etc. Duh. I know this, everyone knows this. Moms have to take their children to school. Neighbors have to help other neighbors pick up large furniture. Smugglers still have to hide a dozen illegal aliens in the back of their beat-up 70s Chevy van with a Led Zeppelin tape stuck in the cassette player. A motorcycle can not possibly replace larger vehicles 100%. But... all of those people who are simply driving to work? Or simply driving themselves to college classes? Or a movie? Or even a date? Shit... drive a damn motorcycle.

2) The weather doesn't always allow for motorcycles. Really? I thought precipitation and wind were just figments of my imagination. Wow... you are SO smart for figuring that out. Yes... cities like Chicago, Denver, New York, will have HUGE problems instituting a seasonal motorcycle schedule. In fact, I'm not even suggesting that they even try. However, cities like Los Angeles, Anaheim, Las Vegas, San Diego? Their weather is riding weather damn near every day. There's no reason they shouldn't do it.

3) Not everyone can ride a motorcycle. Hello??? This is an "incentive" program. Free lessons for people who buy motorcycles. Duh. We certainly don't want any more Roethlisberger incidents.

And there you have it. There are other benefits, as well. My rare idyllic side has visions of people actually conversing while stopped at traffic lights because, well, you're only a foot from the guy next to you. Who knows? Maybe motorcycles will help add to the human element of a big city.

On second thought...

Blackbird at Buster's... Busted

A bit of bad news, I'm afraid.

A few of you might remember my shameless pitch for Blackbird at Buster's, an independent film written by a friend of mine, from a couple of months ago (June 1, actually). Well, the film's two producing partners had a vicious (even by Hollywood standards) falling out, and it appears that the film is in serious jeopardy.

There is, however, a chance that it will still get made, but without the assistance from the screenwriter and slated director, Rich Leder. To me, without Rich, you have no movie. Blackbird at Buster's has a very specific sense of humor. So specific, it's fairly apparent that one would need Rich involved to make it work properly. Sure, it'd still be funny without him, but much of the nuance would be lost.

At any rate, Rich is scheduled to regain the rights to Blackbird at Buster's sometime in late 2007. So, if you get any calls pertaining to working on Blackbird at Buster's, simply, as Nancy Reagan would say, "just say no."

Slam-time: Several of you are familiar with my long-running concern that Rich partnered with the wrong man when deciding to raise money for his film. This man, well call him "Hal," was not a film producer; he merely had a lot of "money" experience. I must admit, I have a degree in business, have a level of familiarity with the film industry, and was... taken aback... by the way with which the money was to be raised. Innovative, yes. Industry standard? Hell, no. Hal, to me, seemed a risk from the get-go.

Still, there's no reason it shouldn't have worked. But a wannabe producer's greed and dreams of grandeur turned into spite, and Rich was basically forced out of the production. Hal's career in Hollywood, as such, is likely going to be short-lived. I'll certainly never work with him, and I'm sure Rich, an established writer, wouldn't piss on Hal were Hal on fire.

But... some positives came out of all of this. No fewer than six of Rich's screenplays have been produced in one form or another this year. And he's got two more feature scripts in the pipe (one's finished, one's almost finished). He even has a lead actress in mind for the two scripts (Sunny Mabrey of Snakes on a Plane and Species III... check her out... she's a looker). Basically, the debacle didn't bring him down and he's still writing with a fury (something I need to do).

Here's to hoping that Blackbird at Buster's comes back to its rightful owner next year. In the meantime, keep an eye out for Rich Leder films.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More MySpace Etiquette and Pointless Musings

A little over a month ago I posted "Cecili's MySpace Etiquette," a simple list of 12 rules every MySpace user should try to adhere to. Well, it's quite obvious that nobody is adhering to them, so I'm going to repost them... along with some extra commentary.

1. Comments should be comments. (If you are confused: There is a function on myspace that allows you to send a message).

This one is more optional, in my opinion, as some "comment conversations" are quite hilarious.

2. Don't post millions of pictures of your face all over your page--all the vanity and imagery is nauseating.

Yes, absolutely. And while body shots are okay on your photo page, using one that shows you flexing your biceps as your default profile image is quite pathetic.

3. Only post a bulletin if you have something important to report on.

This, along with the following rule, is one of the two Golden Rules of MySpace.

4. Bulletins should be reserved for general information only. If your "friends" want to know the answers to a survey you took, write it in a blog and they can read it at their leisure. Sadly, not everyone cares who your last crush is or what you think about jesus.

Yes, for the love of God, please quit with the rampant chain bulletins. If you simply must post one, please post only ONE and have some respect for your friends who actually post semi-important bulletins.

5. Try to refrain from commenting on someones page twice in a row--its aesthetically unpleasant.

I actually agree with this one, although sometimes it's hard to wait your turn, if you know what I mean.

6. Comments should be thought out and grammar should be observed.

Yes! Yes! Yes! And this goes for bulletins, too. There's nothing worse than making yourself look stupid with a misspelled bulletin.

7. Don't tell people to comment on your pictures--if people like you and/or they are in one of your photos, they will make a comment.

Yes. And don't tell people you've posted new pictures. If we care, we'll find out. The same goes for blogs.

8. There is no need to list EVERY single book/movie/hero you have ever read/watched/loved. People get bored after reading the first three or four entries. You are better off sticking to your favorites--and if this is disconcerting, you can always change your entries every so often depending on your mood. Which reminds me: update your page every now and again. You log on every day.

Eh, I like lists, but okay...

9. When commenting on a blog: stay on topic.

Yes, please.

10. No Blind friend requests... Ever.

Well, guys don't tend to have this problem, so I guess this means that us men should quit asking every "Cool New Person" who catches our eye to be our MySpace friend.

11. Comment approval takes the fun out of posting comments.

Absolutely. Not only that, it's quite lame.

12. Avoid reading blogs from people who make lame lists like this one and call it news.

Nah, lists are fun.

More Pointless Musings

Is it just me, or is Pink's NBC Sunday Night Football opening the absolute worst thing to happen to sports since ping-pong was made an Olympic event?

It's probably not the smartest idea to put pictures of yourself smoking pot on your MySpace page.

I just realized that Ben Affleck has an Academy Award. How the fuck did that happen?

The San Diego Padres have reclaimed first place in the NL West from the hated Dodgers. Hell, yes.

The war in Iraq is turning out to be a complete waste of money. Can we wind up doing what we intended to over there? Yes. Does it look like we're going to? No comment.

For the first time ever, Rosie O'Donnell said something I completely agree with. She said something to the effect that radical Christians are just as dangerous to the American establishment as radical Muslims. What's shocking is not that she said this... what's shocking is that people are actually arguing with her.

If you're not a football fan, quit pretending that you are. Nobody thinks you're cool just because you root for USC. Then again, they might think you're cool if you can name more than five USC players.

Anyone hear about the three 20-year olds in Wisconsin that tried to dig up a woman in order to have sex with her? Seriously. One saw her obituary photo, decided she was good-looking, and grabbed his two buddies for a night on the cemetery. I think I need to move to another planet.

This will be the last of my daily blogs, as I've decided to keep MySpace and, as such, have more time to bore you with my opinions.

"Life is Perception" and Other Pointless Musings

Life is perception. That's as probably as vague and cliché a statement as can be made. But, everyone knows it's true.

Take what's going on in current events right now. The whole Pope debacle. Perception in the Muslim world suggests that the Pope is the religious leader of the West. Reality is that he, while certainly powerful, is not. Only the Roman Catholics view him as their sacred pontiff. Other sects of Catholicism have their own popes, and most Christian denominations don't recognize the pope as their religious figurehead at all (they're called Protestants, people). But... the Muslims tend to think that the Pope speaks for the Western world, so now we're in a state of anxiety waiting for something bad to happen somewhere. Perception.

Here's a more personal example. I wrote a nice, heartfelt letter to a girl that I've liked for quite some time. Unfortunately, she doesn't know me all that well, and as such, thinks I'm quite perverted. Hell, she's probably filling out the paperwork for a restraining order. Perception. Somehow I knew that was going to happen, so I let a close friend read the letter. She said it was one of the sweetest things she'd ever read, but was quick to point out that she knew me well enough that she knew where I was coming from. So, I'm perceived by my friend as a sweetheart, while the girl I want perceives me as a psycho. Perception.

Other Pointless Musings:

The San Diego Padres dropped a thriller last night. Somehow they allowed the Dodgers to hit four back-to-back homeruns in the ninth inning.

If Ford and GM merge, all those idiots with the pissing Calvin stickers are going to be upset.

It's important to recognize that both Christianity and Islam started off as very violent religious philosophies. I think that Christianity has the benefit of being tempered by more "protestant" denominations, allowing moderate Christian beliefs to proliferate. We're seeing some of this "protestant" moderation in Islam (think Indonesia, etc.), but nowhere near enough for the two to truly co-exist peacefully yet.

The Army destroys pride in itself every time they authorize a new award. It's called "elitism," and the military needs it. Egalitarianism in the military leads to complacency.

The San Diego Chargers will take the AFC West, convincingly, this year.

The Marine Corps should be a part of the Army, not the Navy. The Air Force should not exist.

Liberals and conservatives are important forces in evolving governments. However, moderates should run government, as liberals and conservatives in power tend to be dangerous.

Watching movies in a movie theater is better than watching in a home theater. Yes, there are pros and cons to both, but movies are movies, and the screen should be measured in feet, not inches.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is turning out to be a pretty good governor. Donald Rumsfeld, whatever you think of him, needs to go away. John Kerry would have sucked just as bad as Bush.

Wilmington, North Carolina, is a nice place to live. Too bad the film industry sucks ass there.

Revenge is not necessarily a bad thing, although it usually is.

Cheerleaders have the best stomachs known to mankind.

China is either about to take over the world, or send the world spiraling into another global depression.

Perception is subjective. Communication is propaganda. Education is disinformation. Experience is everything.

Monday, September 18, 2006

White Supremacists Must Be Boring

Like a lot of people, I read about those white supremacist twins in the last couple of days... you know, the ones who have that Neo-Nazi band that promotes "white purity." The irony of these twins is two-fold. First, their music absolutely sucks. I'm not saying that just because I'm a minority and I hate racists... I'm saying that because their music absolutely sucks. Second, is that the twins are quite cute, and could theoretically be the next Mary Kate & Ashley jailbait countdown if they weren't so, well, stupid.

Anyway, all this shit got me to thinking... White supremacists must be really boring people.

Think about it... they probably don't watch a lot of sports, given the proliferation of non-white athletes. Major League Baseball? Nope. Major League Soccer? Haha... no. National Football League and National Basketball Association? Oh, fuck no. Even honkey-stalwart sports institutions such as the National Hockey League and the Professional Golf Association have been "infiltrated" by >gasp< people of color. I guess that leaves NASCAR... but isn't there a black driver working his way up the Busch Series now? Uh oh.

We've already established how shitty their music is... but lets check off the other arts. Movies? No... Sydney Poitier ruined film for the Aryans years ago... and Will Smith isn't helping them out at all. I guess when the KKK decide to make a short film, they go to the movies, but that doesn't seem very often. Television? No. In fact, are they even allowed to watch television? Since 100% of color TVs in America are foreign made? Can't be supporting those zipperhead Japs and Kim-Chee Koreans now, can they?

While we're on that subject... what do they drive? Ford and Chevrolet are inundated by foreign parts and design influences, so I'm assuming they're out. Do they drive Chryslers? I guess they would, since the Germans own them now.

Do they have cell phones? I'm trying to imagine the Grand Dragon of the KKK calling the head of the Aryan Nation on his Samsung or Nokia camera phone. What about stereos? Seriously... is it against their beliefs to buy non-white made products? Should white supremacists just devolve into a quasi-Amish society? Maybe they'd breed themselves out that way.

Are they allowed to eat oranges since orange groves are largely tended by Mexican workers? Can they eat the foods that have Jewish blessings indicated on them? I guess they have to grow their own food, eh?

Do they even read? I mean, the Chinese developed the art of print, you know. Can they even surf the Internet with their Dell computers with Korean or Malaysian-produced motherboards?

I guess my theory must be sound. White supremacists aren't just ignorantly stupid, they're also stupidly boring.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

San Diego: Sports Town? Or Not?

As of this moment, the San Diego Chargers are undefeated and maintain sole ownership of first place in the AFC West (sure, they've only played one game, but that's not the point). They are heavy favorites to whoop the Tennessee Titans today.

As of this moment, the San Diego Padres are 77-70, 1/2 game down in the NL West race, and 1.5 games up in the NL Wild Card race. They're playing the rival Dodgers today and tomorrow, and should whoop them (they smoked them 11-2 last night). If the Padres make the playoffs this season, it will mark the first time ever that the Pads made the playoffs in two consecutive seaons.

Both teams have produced national greats. The Chargers: Dan Fouts, Lance Alworth, Junior Seau, Leslie O'Neal, LaDainian Tomlinson. The Padres: Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti, Benito Santiago.

But still, damn near the entire country outside of Southern California still considers San Diego a second-tier sports team. Unfortunately, it's hard to disagree with them.

San Diego is, among other things, one of the most beautiful places in the United States, and is easily arguably the most beautiful big city in the country. A beach culture, the Western Hemisphere's best weather, a foreign country right next door, Hollywood to the northwest, Vegas to the northeast... what more could you want?

Well... dominant sports teams. And more of them.

San Diego is in danger of losing the Chargers to another city (likely Los Angeles, which would really piss me off). A few years ago, they were in danger of losing the Padres to Arizona (thank you for the Diamondbacks). A little known fact is that they've lost two NBA teams (the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets both used to call San Diego home). They've never had an NHL team, and despite being a soccer haven, they can't even attract an MLS team.

The storied San Diego Sockers of arena soccer? Now defunct. Hell, even the San Diego Rip Tide of arena football is now defunct. Is San Diego a damned sports town or not?

Well, that depends on if skateboarding and surfing are sports in your book (and they should be), because we've got plenty of those superstars.

Anyway, the point is that San Diegans should be PISSED about not being considered a sports town, and should do something about it. Long have the Padres and Chargers been victim of "fair weather" fans... the irony being that San Diego ALWAYS has fair weather. We need to step up and support our friars and our bolts. This is bullshit.

I'm not a huge basketball fan, but come on... San Diego is the 8th largest city in the country. The largest without a basketball team, the second largest without a hockey team, and in danger of being the largest without a football team (should the Chargers move to Los Angeles). What fucks San Diego's position as a sports giant is the damn media market it's in. Despite being number 8 in U.S. population, San Diego is ranked a measely 26th in terms of media size (right above Charlotte and right below Indianapolis - 20th and 12th in terms of population, respectively).

So, I'm ready to admit that I really don't know how to fix the problem... but we need to. San Diego is America's Finest City for a reason, and we need sports to stay that way.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Random MySpace Thoughts

Hmm... What should I blog about as my time here on MySpace comes to a close? Well, how about MySpace itself? Sure, why not... I've got nothing better to do or say anyway.

MySpace... hmm...

Okay, let's start with the positive. MySpace is a very novel and very easy way to keep in touch with, well, everybody (even complete strangers). With MySpace, I've literally found people that I hadn't talked to in 18 or 19 years. That fact is as cool as it is creepy.

Other positives... um... ah... well, I got to chat with this former San Diego Charger cheerleader that I used to have a crush on about 8 or so years ago... and... um... that's about it for positives.

Negatives. This is going to be easy. Anybody catch that crazy woman who tried to hire a hit man because of a picture she saw on her boyfriend's MySpace page? Or what about that underaged girl that flew to the Middle East to be with her "true love" she had met on MySpace? Or those hot teachers who ask their underage students for sex? Well... that last one might be a positive, depending on how you look at it. Yeah, yeah, call me a chauvinist.

Other negatives... the fact that people are easily found, easily identified, and easily screwed by the stupid shit people tend to post on their pages. I've seen photos of everything from people getting drunk and high, to having sex, to committing crimes (felonies, even)... all on MySpace. I personally know at least two people who've had their relationships ruined because of "MySpace misunderstandings." The list goes on.

The funniest thing to me is that government agencies (Federal, state, and local) often use MySpace to make their jobs easier. "People tell on themselves," I'm told. It's like we stupid civilians designed our own "Big Brother," and we love it. People are dumb, aren't they?

Agh, I'm starting to ramble... I'm not exactly in a writer's mood, if you know what I mean.

I'll miss MySpace, sure... but not really.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Star Wars and its Inconsistent Jedi

In honor of the original, non-Special Edition Star Wars DVD release:

It's no secret that I absolutely hate the "Prequel Trilogy" of Star Wars. And by hate, I mean totalitarian hate. The only saving grace is the fact that the uber-beautiful Natalie Portman is in them. Other than that, I cannot name a single positive aspect about The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Even their titles are stupid, save for Revenge of the Sith. Hell, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what "the phantom menace" is. A code word for bad movies? Yeah, that must be it.

Anyway, it's my hypothesis that George Lucas, while a visionary and an adept businessman, is a bad director (a fact that NO ONE can disagree with) and a horrible, horrible writer. Face it, people, he got lucky with American Graffiti. Other than that, and his "different at the right time" short films, he's crap. He didn't write The Empire Strikes Back, the best of the series, nor did he write Return of the Jedi. He didn't even write the novelization to Star Wars, a fact that recently crept into the limelight, despite taking credit for it for the last 30 years.

What's worse is that, when he does write, he takes no account for what is already written. I mean, is there anyone else that was wondering why Anakin and Obi-Wan simply didn't "Force push" those stupid metal-eating droids off of their fighters at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith? And why wasn't Morgan Freeman Mace Windu instead of Samuel L. Jackson? Oh, wait... Lucas is a businessman, not a director, that's why.

Okay, that's enough... on to the purpose of this "Inconsistent Jedi" rant... the, well, inconsistencies of the Star Wars movies. I'm not going to go over all of them, mind you, but enough to prove that Lucas had no clue what he was doing when it came to the prequel trilogy. Some of these are admittedly weak, but their very existence should help convince you of Lucas' ineptness when writing. Now... on to the show...

- In Episode IV, Darth Vader seems mum over the significance of his home planet. Anyone think that's a little, I don't know, weird?

- In Episode IV, Owen purchases C-3PO and R2-D2, quite obviously having never seen them before. It is revealed in Episode II, however, that Owen LIVED with C-3PO and had MET R2-D2 when Anakin showed up.

- In Episode IV, Beru, over conversation, implies that she knew Anakin rather well ("he has too much of his father in him."). In Episode II, they met for what? Two minutes?

- In Episode IV, Obi-Wan rather blatantly points out that he's never owned a droid (much less R2-D2). Um, yeah... should I even explain this one?

- In Episode IV, Obi-Wan states that Owen didn't want Anakin to get involved in the Clone Wars, which, among other things, implies that Owen and Anakin grew up together. In Episode II, the Clone Wars had just about started by the time Owen and Anakin met for the first time.

- Related to the previous point, in Episode IV, Obi-Wan states that Owen didn't want Anakin to leave Tatooine. Yet, when they finally meet in Episode II, Anakin wasn't exactly living on Tatooine, was he?

- Episode IV – Obi-Wan states that Darth Vader was a "young Jedi." In the prequels, Darth is clearly a Sith honorific.

- Episode IV, V, & VI – R2-D2 knows nothing. Episode III? R2-D2 knows EVERYTHING.

- A little more specific, in Episode V, R2-D2 clearly does NOT know Yoda. Episodes I, II, and III? Yes, yes he does.

- Episode V – Obi-Wan implies that he was not aware of Leia (also, his actions in Episode IV imply that he didn't know, but this is arbitrary)(conversely, in Episode VI he is quite clear that he knows who she is, although Yoda may have told him in Episode V)... BUT... Episode III – Obi-Wan was present during the twins' birth.

- Episode V – Obi-Wan clearly states that he was instructed by Yoda and in Episode VI, Obi-Wan clearly reiterates this. In Episode I, Obi-Wan is taught by none other than Qui-Gon Jinn.

- Episode VI – Leia states that she remembers her real mother. Episode III – Padme dies during childbirth. I guess this means that Leia's cognitive memory formed at an early age, right?

- Episode V – in delirium, Luke repeatedly moans "Yoda" and nobody seems to know what it means. Episode III – Chewbacca and Yoda were clearly friends (sure, Luke and Han may not have mentioned Yoda to anybody, but how likely is that?)

- Episode V – Darth Vader does not recognize C-3PO, despite having built him in Episode I (true, Vader never actually saw C-3PO in person in the original trilogy, but come on...).

- Episode V – Darth Vader does not seem to know who R2-D2 is (and vice versa). Episode I, II, & III? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Saturday, September 9, 2006

The State of the Chargers

Monday night is when it all begins, fellow Chargers fans. Monday night, versus the recently sorry Raiders, we get to have our first preview of whether or not the Chargers took a step back, maintained their pace, or did indeed make a leap forward.

Regardless of which they've done, I must admit that football this year is going to be more interesting for me than it has since, oh, the Chargers last went to the Super Bowl. This new interest isn't just sparked by the new team, either. In fact, at the center of it all are three people who aren't even Chargers players.

Let's start with the least controversial: Drew Brees. Say what you want about this guy; I love him. He sparked the Chargers back to "fuck Eli Manning" (hell, AND Peyton Manning) respectability. He took us to our only playoff game since Stan Humphries was under center. He was a great leader on an improving team and, I believe this entirely, given another few years, he would've been the face of the Chargers... sort of like a little known guy named Fouts. But, A.J. Smith, a very smart and devious man decided to fuck Mr. Brees, and now the New Orleans Saints have him. For this reason, I will be watching two teams this season... the Chargers... and, of course, the Saints.

Since I've already mentioned him, let's swing to A.J. Smith. Even though Bobby Beathard managed to stock the Chargers to a Super Bowl, I'm of the opinion that A.J. Smith is the best GM that San Diego has had since, well, ever. One might be able to argue the quality of the "Air Coryell" team, but one might also be able to argue that only the offense of the "Air Coryell" team was quality. Anyway, A.J. Smith... a smart, selfish, and very devious man... the best GM in Chargers history. If anyone thinks for a second that A.J. Smith didn't smile when Drew Brees went down at the end of the 2005 season, you're dead wrong. Smith, like Butler and Beathard before him, LOVES to play his own players, his own draft picks, his own acquisitions. If you recall, Drew Brees was not his, but Butler's. If you don't believe me, look who else the Chargers have let go at seemingly inexplicable times: Seau, Harrison, shit, even Leslie O'Neal. Face it... we always get prima donna general managers.

To the point... this is Smith's year to prove he's a genius, or to prove he's an idiot. Should Brees do well (or even decent) and Rivers fail in any measure of the word, Smith will forever be known as "that guy." Should Brees falter and Rivers do well, or even if they both do well, then Smith will escape the guillotine. Personally, as someone who was in North Carolina for the entirety of Rivers' collegiate career, I hope they both do well, but I still can't help but feel that Smith screwed Brees... and loved doing it.

The third person that will make this season interesting? Well, it's more like a family and not an individual person. Yep, you guessed it... the Spanos family. Although I have a future rant reserved for the possibility of the Chargers leaving San Diego, I figured I'd mention them here for posterity's sake.

Well, enough about what I think... let's just start wishing for a winning season... and maybe, just maybe, a run at Super Bowl XLI. I've got my fingers crossed for Rivers, McNeill, and McCree, the three pieces that are supposed to (almost) complete the Chargers' puzzle (although Rivers is more of a replacement piece than a new one). And yes, I'm crossing my fingers for Steve Foley, as well. It's not every day that a Chargers player gets shot three times, no.

I'd also like to mention that I was recently afforded the opportunity to chat with Cecili Chadwick, the hottest Charger girl of all time (mid to late 90s, for those who follow that sort of thing). She's super-hot, super-smart, and super-intimidating. And she's super-hot.

Go Bolts!

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Starbucks

Starbucks, depending on who you are, is either the bane or the blessing of the coffee world. Regardless of which side of the fence you're on, one thing is for sure: Starbucks exudes a certain "type," a certain "culture" to it.

That culture can vary from place to place, depending on if you're in the rainy Pacific Northwest, the sunny Pacific Southwest, or the hot and humid Southeast. But, one thing remains constant all over the map... Starbucks is the self-appointed haven of the sophisticate, the artsy, and the corporate. People who all want their coffee or iced mochas or whatever other damned French-word-described coffee amalgamation they happen to like.

Starbucks in Seattle? Makes perfect sense. It should, it started there. But beyond that, Seattle is a Mecca of the hippy-fied, grunge-of-old, rainy day "artsy" as well as an advertising and marketing haven. Los Angeles shares this sophisticated, artistic, corporate image. San Diego does too, to an extent. Little Wilmington, North Carolina with its waning film industry and gorgeous beaches? Check. Dallas? Yep. Las Vegas? Close enough. Raleigh? You bet. Atlanta? Yeah, I'll give it that much credit. Hell, even Fayetteville, North Carolina with its odd demographic and military-based commerce qualifies. As does Reno, Nevada. Is everyone noticing a pattern? Okay, good.

I'm now going to tell you about a little desert shit-town in the middle of Nevada called Dayton. Dayton isn't in the middle of nowhere (Reno and Lake Tahoe are not far), but it sure seems like it. There's no McDonald's there, no Burger King, and only one grocery store. The people there have no identity, save the multitudes of Californian expatriates who bring their old ones with them. Is it a hick town? Sort of, not really. Is it a grunge town? Only for the high school kids who where ratty clothes and have no idea how to cut their hair. So... what kind of town is it?

Well, it's a town that has a Starbucks.

And if there were ever a place that Starbucks did not belong, Dayton, Nevada, is it.

There is no sophisticate there. None. Dayton, Nevada, is home to the ugliest building in the United States. It's a small office building filled with medical practices, and can hardly be described, it's so ugly. There is no "artsy" there, although the wannabe Quentin Tarantino working at the brand new Hollywood Video might disagree with me. There is, however, a "corporate" there, but the indigenous locals are so mystified by the concept, it's the relocated Californians that allow the corporate to survive.

Simply put, nobody in Dayton looks right when standing in a Starbucks. Nobody. It's almost frightening. Even worse, few of them can even pronounce half of Starbucks' menu... including a couple of the Starbucks employees. What? Was there no training video?

Anyway, I started writing this with a point in mind, but it's becoming clear that I don't really have one.

Still, I must plead with Starbucks: save your image and close your Dayton store.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

The Army Corps of... Marines?

Like most former military, I follow our "wars" quite closely. While I'm not going to get into the politics of the matter, I'm definitely going to harp on the cost.

Seriously, what are we thinking? Can we possibly come up with a less efficient model with which to not only fight a war, but to run a military in general?

A few years ago, a Pentagon brain decided to analyze the current makeup of the US Armed Forces. His name was David Dyche and his conclusions in 1990 showed that, not only was the military wasting money on what everyone already knew that the military was wasting money on, but that the military was wasting money simply by existing in its current model. Through careful research and modeling, he figured that our current military was NOT the traditional "3 Branches + 1 Corps" that everyone thinks it is, but in reality is "two armies, two transportation forces, and four air forces." In other words, one huge waste of money (for those of you that are interested in Dyche's report, it is available online - keep in mind that I do NOT agree with Dyche's recommendations 100%, though his points are no less valid).

Now, I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty of his entire report, but I am going to comment on the Army/Marine Corps conundrum.

Essentially, what we have with a Navy-run Marine Corps is a SECOND ARMY. One that has a separate training system, a separate supply system, and a separate command structure. Is there a physical need for this? Absolutely not.

Traditionalists (including many former and current soldiers, airborne, and marines) will argue the necessity of a separate Marine Corps, but in all honesty, that is nothing but an old-school mentality stuck in a status quo world. A non-Army Marine Corps is simply nothing but a waste of time and money. Many of these traditionalists will argue that the role of the Marine Corps is different than that of the Army. While there is some (but very little) truth to that statement, their roles are no more different than say, that of the Army Infantry compared to the Army Airborne. And, despite the fact that some countries do, we certainly don't have a separate Airborne Corps, do we?

Realize that I'm not advocating the disappearance of Marine Corps traditions from the Army... absolutely not. Even as a former paratrooper, I recognize that no service takes more pride in themselves than the USMC. I think that allowing Marine Corps divisions to retain their distinctive headgear (similar to Airborne units wearing maroon berets) and their traditional histories is a good, and advantageous, idea. I would also suggest that the Army adopt the Marine Corps system of "Private-Private First Class-Lance Corporal" and maintain "Gunnery Sergeant" as a Marine Division honorific.

But, I AM advocating that paying for what is essentially a second Army is a waste. Joint Operations is getting to the point that the Army would be more than capable of cooperatively running an MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) with the Navy, as well as the Navy cooperatively transporting and deploying the Army.

This would save SO MUCH MONEY, it would make you sick to actually figure out how much. There are other advantages, as well, but I lack the time and the proper means to discuss them effectively here. The bonus? There is simply not one disadvantage, other than window-dressing, to collapsing the Marine Corps into the Army. Not one. Not a single one.

Before I conclude my point, I'm well aware that many of you will bring up Marine Corps aviation and how the Marines have dedicated air support. I AM a proponent of this, but this is related to the fact that I'm also a proponent of eliminating the Air Force as we currently know it. However, as this is not the point of this blog, I'm not going to cover any of that here.

So... like I implied, the only problem is getting past the institutionalized fuckers that don't really give a shit about saving this country valuable defense dollars, but care far more about what their uniform looks like.