Monday, December 29, 2008

End of Year Conspiracies

I have recently uncovered some conspiracies. They are all true. I have the evidence. I swear.

1. Pepsi is owned by Colombian drug lords. They were going to buy Coca-Cola instead, but thought it too obvious.

2. The Bush family selected their last name so they could remember the area to aim for when having sex. Apparently, some of their ancestors were "challenged."

3. Barbie left Ken for a simple reason: she already got his rib and he has no balls. Why wouldn't she?

4. 2000 Flushes was created by women to expose men with a lower sense of humor. Yellow and blue make green make dumb pissing guy laugh.

5. Barack Obama's real name is Benedict Arnold, but he "ethnicized it" in order to pull votes and keep people from asking questions about his past. Not sure that worked...

6. A woman's anus is right next to her vagina in order to prove how disgusting men are. And how much they like being disgusting. Love it, in fact. Oh, yeah.

7. Global Warming started out as a secret government project intent on preventing an encroaching ice age. Only they fucked up, and like a typical government screw up, decided to guilt the populace into taking the blame for it.

8. Circumcision was made popular because Abraham's wife decided she didn't like getting foreskin stuck in her teeth.

9. NASA's decision to send a chimp into space first was actually an attempt to convince the Soviet Union that the Space Race wasn't worth the effort. They were trying to imply that "hey, a chimp can do it; what's the big deal?" It failed miserably.

10. The real man behind the JFK assassination was

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fair-Weather NFL Fan, I Am

No. You've got the wrong idea. I am always, 100% of the time, a San Diego Chargers fan. As long as they're on the air wherever I'm at, or if I'm in San Diego, I will watch the San Diego Chargers play... and I will root like a madman with rabies for them.

Since I started paying close attention to the Chargers around 1986 or 1987, I've endured an 8-1 season turning into an 8-7 season (1987), four straight losing seasons from 1988 to 1991, eight straight .500 or worse seasons from 1996 to 2003 (only two of which were 8-8 finishes), and the inability to win a first playoff game in 2004 and 2006.

But I've always remained a fan.

As far as the rest of the NFL, however, I've recently noticed something: if the Chargers are doing poorly, I don't give a small shit about the rest of the league. If the Chargers are doing well (or, as now, are fighting for a playoff spot), I'll watch damn near every NFL game I have access to.

So, yes, I admit it: I'm a fair-weather NFL fan... but an all-weather Chargers fan.

NFL Musings

I just watched Drew Brees tie Rich Gannon's NFL record for the most 300-yard passing games in a season (10), become only the second quarterback in NFL history to pass for 5000 yards, and fall 16 or 17 yards short of breaking Dan Marino's NFL record of the most passing yards in a single season.

While I can dig Philip Rivers, I really wish Drew Brees was still a Charger.

Tonight the Chargers (7-8) play the Denver Broncos (8-7). If the Chargers win, they'll win the AFC West and are in the playoffs. If they lose, well, it'll be another disappointing season... and Norv Turner will have to go.

Here's hoping for the best.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Bad Day

He could feel the blood soaking his trousers, but he couldn't tell where the bullet went through. Since he was one apt to blacking out when confirming an injury, he didn't really want to know, either. He wasn't always that way, or so he thought, but a recent incident involving washing dishes and an argument with his girlfriend had revealed otherwise. In a fit of anger, he'd jabbed a knife repeatedly into the metal sink, only to discover that he'd sliced a finger open. The memory of encroaching tunnel-vision and dizziness was still fresh in his mind.

Forcing his thoughts back into the present, he tried to ignore the pain as he released an empty magazine from his carbine and locked in another. He pushed the bolt catch, expecting the accompanying jolt and clack, but it never came. A quick inspection of the chamber revealed a buffer assembly stuck in the butt-stock, a result, no doubt, of the fall he took.

This was not going to be a good day.

As he struggled to his feet, he was only vaguely aware that his would-be assailant lay mere feet away, dying from a well-placed gut-shot which was more the result of blind luck than aim. Not that it mattered one way or the other. The bullet had done its job, regardless of how it happened.

Consciously keeping his eyes off of the wound, he concentrated on walking as quickly as possible to another defensible position. Never again would he take so simple an action as walking for granted. His leg hurt and his left foot, already the victim of several previous injuries, was getting cold.

Irony set in for a moment, as he realized that he was walking in order to survive. Meanwhile, half-way around the world in New York, or perhaps Los Angeles, his girlfriend was walking for money. He let himself slip into a dreamworld, imagining her as she strolled a catwalk or a commercial set, modeling some yuppie singer's latest line of lingerie.

Why, oh why, didn't he go with her? In retrospect, checking in with his handler to see if anything needed to be done while his girlfriend was away seemed like a bad idea.

And like all bad ideas, it quickly led to a bad day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lightning Strikes Twice and Other Charger Musings

Last weekend, before the Chargers took the field, they were 5-8 and watching a door close on their season. Their AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos, were 8-5 and looking to win the division.

Then, lightning struck. The Chargers won an impossible victory (read "Lightning Split," below) and the Broncos lost to the Carolina Panthers.

This weekend, before the Chargers took the field, they were 6-8 and shoving their foot in that door. The Denver Broncos were 8-6, and wondering where the draft was coming from.

And lightning struck twice. The Chargers creamed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Broncos lost a heartbreaker to the Buffalo Bills.

Now, the Chargers are 7-8, the Broncos 8-7, and the two teams meet for the regular season finale next Sunday night. Should the Chargers win, knotting their records up at 8-8, they receive the tie-breaker for having a better division record and proceed to the playoffs.

Not exactly how it was supposed to happen, but I'll take it. The Chargers will, too, I'm sure.

Charger Musings

Nate Kaeding kicked a 57-yard field goal in their victory against the Buccaneers: a Chargers record.

Philip Rivers threw four touchdown passes, putting him one away from tying the Chargers record for TD passes in a season, currently held by the great Dan Fouts.

For the first time since 2001, a Chargers wide receiver (Vincent Jackson) has over 1000 yards receiving. Of course, that's still short of my personal 1140-yard benchmark.

LaDainian Tomlinson became just the third player in the history of the NFL to rush for 1000 yards in each of his first eight seasons.

Antonio Gates became the fastest tight end to 50 touchdowns in NFL history. It took him 92 games... the next fastest tight end took 100 games.

Norv Turner still should go bye-bye, and A.J. Smith's ego still needs to be put in its place.

Go Chargers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Things I Don't Want for Christmas

Christmas wish-lists are everywhere these days. No longer just the realm of a child or significant other writing a cute little note to parents or lover, these things have been usurped by the likes of Amazon.com and its ilk. Not only that, Christmas wish-lists (at least in my experience) prove to be largely unsuccessful.

I mean, how many of us are still waiting for that fucking pony? Or super-deluxe limited edition Optimus Prime? Yeah, I thought so. I guess this also subtly means that Christmas wish-list recipients are disingenuous bastards.

So, here's a Christmas un-wish-list of things I absolutely do not want for the upcoming holidays:

1. Socks or underwear - hey, asshole, I'm perfectly capable of getting these myself. Not to mention they're cheap, which means you're cheap, and I hate cheap... particularly when it comes to presents. "It's the thought that counts" is utter bullshit. And what does that mean, anyway? You were thinking of smelly feet and sweaty crotch? Yuck. Get away from me.

2. A self-help book, or any religious or spiritually-themed book. Sorry, dude (or dudette... yes, I just used "dude" and "dudette"), but your annoying attempt at believing that your beliefs can solve all of the problems that you perceive I have just annoyed me that much more. Again, get away from me.

3. A Celine Dion CD - yes, even I'll admit that she puts out the occasional brilliance, but she's so naively stupid, the mere thought of her can make me sick. And it's likely to be a $5 Celine Christmas album, which brings up the cheap thing again. Dick.

4. Random gift cards - the press is right, gift cards can be superbly ridiculous gifts, particularly if you give me one for Bed, Bath, & Beyond, or give a girl one for Best Buy. Gift cards already suggest you started shopping for us a bit too late, so at least get us something that we'll want to use. And, oh by the way, cash is great, too. Snarky editorials are wrong about that one. I'll definitely accept cash with a smile. Which brings me to...

5. Christmas cards. This is the 21st century, not the Renaissance. Christmas cards are no longer a valid excuse for your painstaking acknowledgement that you remember I exist. That's what mass e-mails are for. Don't send me a Christmas card unless it constitutes a visit to the bank on Boxing Day.

6. A pony - that's right, a pony. Back when mom and dad paid for everything, this would've been cool, but since I'm now responsible for my expenses, buying me something so expensive to maintain is likely to warrant you receiving a special delivery of horse shit in the near future. And this goes for any animal that I haven't expressely suggested that I want.

7. Small kitchen appliances - um, if I needed a toaster, or a microwave, or a George Foreman, I'd go get one myself. Unless I'm a college kid moving away for the first time, stay out of my kitchen.

8. DVDs from the cheap bin. Chances are, if the movie is any good, I already have the damned thing. And let's not forget you're being cheap again.

9. Collectibles of things I collect. Yes, this one might seem a bit weird, but something that non-collectors apparently don't quite grasp is that most collectors are very, very picky of the things they hoard. Trust me, unless you acquired something during an overseas trip, we've already had an opportunity to acquire whatever it is you think you're being clever by buying for us. And there's a reason we didn't acquire it. So there's absolutely no reason you should... unless you really like seeing false smiles and experiencing false gratitude.

10. Combination birthday/Christmas gifts. Yes, I'm one of those unfortunate souls who was born on a date that falls rather close to Christmas. Please don't remind me of your cheapness and unwillingness to shop for me twice by getting me two cheap gifts, pretending they are one moderately expensive gift, and writing "Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas" on the wrapping. That just makes me want to light your hair on fire.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lightning Split

Wow.

The San Diego Chargers just beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 22-21.

Wow.

Did I mention the Chiefs were ahead 21-10 with only 73 seconds left in the game?

Um, yeah... I don't care who you are, that should constitute a "wow" from anybody.

I must admit, by the time the Chiefs went up 21-3 in the third quarter, I quit paying very close attention to the game. I'm a ridiculously avid Chargers fan, and I couldn't stomach another heart-breaking loss... particularly a loss that would officially eliminate the Chargers from playoff contention (they're not likely to make it anyway, but when something negative becomes "official" from "probably," one still tends to feel that weakness in one's stomach).

But, somehow, some way, the Chargers pulled it off.

With 73 seconds left in the game, Philip Rivers threw a four-yard touchdown pass to underrated WR wonder Malcom Floyd. Naturally, the Chargers failed on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Still, the Chargers were then only down 21-16, and lined up for an onside kick. Which, naturally, was caught by a Kansas City Chief.

Only, wow, the Chargers managed to knock the ball loose and, wow, recovered it.

And then, wow, drove down the field and, wow, Philip Rivers connected with Vincent Jackson on a 10-yard pass for a touchdown. Naturally, the Chargers failed on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Still, wow, Chargers up, 22-21.

But then things turned typical and the Chiefs drove down the field, almost into field goal range. Naturally, a Charger (rookie CB Antoine Cason), caused a defensive delay-of-game penalty and gave the Chiefs another five yards, plus another two seconds on the game clock, with which to attempt a 50-yard field goal.

And the Chiefs missed.

Holy shit and wow.

Now all that needs to happen is for the Denver Broncos to lose to the Carolina Panthers.

Two wows in one day might be too much to ask for, but I've got my fingers crossed.

Go Chargers!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Merry Holidays and Happy Christmas

It's December, and the "wholly-oppressive" holiday of Christmas is once again upon us. No, really. Christmas is oppressive. Just ask the Jews, Muslims, and (insert label for Kwanzaa-celebrants here) how advertisements for "Christmas presents" and "Christmas trees" are slaps-in-faces of their proverbial religions.

Um, yeah...

It is true that Christmas, in its "pure" (and I hate to use that term) form is primarily a Christian holiday, but it is equally true that Christmas, in its progressive American form, was well on its way to becoming a simple non-secular way of celebrating one's family and friends in the twilight of yet another year gone by.

In fact, I'd have been willing to bet that in another few decades, Christmas in America would pretty much damn near entirely been celebrated as, what I'd like to term, an "agnostic holiday."

But then, as often does when an ACLU-type attitude goes horribly wrong, those "free religious practitioners" of other similarly-timed religious holidays decided to politicize the matter, devolving the holiday into what seems to be a vehement Christian defense of Jesus' purported birthday (which, hate to break it to you, it is most certainly not Jesus' birthday).

No, I'm not criticizing religion. Hell, I'm not even criticizing the ACLU. What I am criticizing are people's attitudes that "my beliefs are more important than your beliefs" to the point where they are essentially saying, "I don't care if I am an American; I'm a different, and better, type of American than you."

And I fucking hate that.

I wrote a similar piece two years ago, and instead of wasting time on a retread, you can go read it here.

But, the thesis remains the same. Christmas, for a while, was much more an "American" holiday than it was a Christian holiday. And, as an American (albeit an agnostic one), I completely preferred it that way. I never took any offense to someone wishing me a Merry Christmas, just like I never took any offense to someone wishing me a Happy Hanukkah (or Chanukah... depending on whether you prefer Anglicization or not). In fact, I thought it was totally cool that people just sort of got into the spirit, and left the religo-specific labels for their own living rooms.

But, no, "political correctness" had to fuck things up and foment yet another fundamental divide between people for no other reason than to foment another fundamental divide.

It's Christmas, people... a time to get along, be happy, and support one another, regardless of personal beliefs. Not only that, it's American Christmas, which many (if not most) were associating with Jesus less and less every year.

And it's a sad irony that "Christmas opponents" are reversing that trend.

We've all seen what fundamentalism can do to the world. With a few glaring and horrifying exceptions, America has largely been a moderate country, with moderate cultures and moderate beliefs. And, for most of the past 236 years, it's paid off rather well.

So why are we bringing fundamentalist "fuck the other guy" attitudes into our giving season?

Idiots.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

For Quality Television, Save a Life

I really wanted to avoid writing another piece about television, I really did, but a quality show is in serious danger of not making it past the end of spring, so I feel compelled.

The show is called Life, and anyone who knows me knows that I feel that Life is one of the best shows on the small screen. In fact, it irks me that it has such a small audience, because that leads me to believe American viewers are idiots.

Sorry. I understand that's not exactly the best way to convince people to watch a show they're not currently watching, but I can't fucking help it.

So, starting over: watch Life because it's one of the best shows on television.

For those unfamiliar (and most of you probably are), the show follows LAPD robbery/homicide detective Charlie Crews, played by the excellent Damian Lewis (you might remember him as Major Winters from Band of Brothers). A stand-up cop, he was framed for the murders of his friend and his friend's wife and sent to Pelican Bay on a life sentence. As the evidence was mounted against him, both his police partner and his wife turned against him, and he found himself taking solace in studying philosophy while he struggled with life in prison.

But then, something crazy happened. An ultra-hot lawyer, Constance Griffiths, took up his cause. 12 years went by, new evidence was presented, and Crews was released. Part of the deal with the city for wrongful imprisonment included a multi-million dollar settlement and, surprisingly, his old job back in the LAPD. Let me take a moment to mention that Griffiths is in love with Crews, but is married to another man, while Crews is still in love with his (now) ex-wife... who is remarried... and feeling a tad guilty.

So he gets to work. While he solves crime with is new partner, the gorgeous Dani Reese, he uses his spare time to find out who framed him. And such is the point of the show.

Ultimately, he discovers a rather large faction of LAPD-insiders was involved in his framing, including Dani Reese's father and, perhaps, his Lieutenant (played by the wonderful Robin Weigert... but now replaced, post-WGA strike, by the out-of-place Donal Logue... who admittedly sucks).

Crews deals with his new-found freedom by spending freely on bad-ass cars and a mansion (but no furniture), buying an orchard (because of some Zen-influenced worldview), and bedding as many drop-dead sexy women as he can find.

And all the while caring about nothing other than finding out who got him put away.

There are many compelling subplots to the show. Crews' accountant is a man he met in prison, serving time for white collar crimes. Crews' partner, Reese, is a recovering alcoholic. And then there's the little girl (now grown up) who was the daughter of the people Crews was convicted of killing.

All in all, the show has everything. Sex, violence, twists, turns... wrapped up in what's easily the most compelling current overall plot on network TV.

Yes, it's a serialized show, which means you need to start from the beginning in order to truly understand what's going on, but it's only in its second season, and you can pick up the first season on DVD from Amazon.com for less than $20.

So why the fuck aren't you watching?

Irreview, Book Review: The Nutshell Technique

I have, to date, read well over two dozen books on screenwriting and its related mediums (theatre, specifically).  While most - if not all -...