Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tone deaf...

Here's our president in Iowa yesterday.  What's that behind him?  Pallets.  Stacks and stacks of pallets.  Apparently, our president - and no one in his entourage - appreciates the significance of this back drop.  Here's a clue, Mr. President:  Out here in the real world, beyond the bubble of the Washington Beltway that you and the rest of this country's pampered political class live in, pallets are used to ship stuff.  All kinds of stuff.  Food, clothing, machine tools, television sets, windows, toilet paper, paint, detergent, newsprint...all the stuff of commerce, at one point or another, was sitting on pallet in a truck or a rail car being shipped from Point A to Point B.  So what's with all those empty pallets behind you, Mr. President?  Here's another clue:  They are there because nobody is shipping "stuff" and nobody is shipping "stuff" because no one is buying "stuff."  Since no one is buying "stuff," other people are not even making "stuff" to ship.  I find it hard to believe that your administration is so clueless as to stage a photo-op in front of such a clear symbol of the wrecked economy you're presiding over, but there it is...

You want more symbols, Mr. President?  Drive west on I-10 out of Phoenix, get off at the Salome Road exit, and drive up through Bouse towards Parker.  See all those miles and miles of freight cars sitting on sidings out there in the middle of nowhere?  They're there for the same reason all those empty pallets are stacked behind you in Iowa.  Stage a photo op there.

For a different type of photo op, head north up to Flagstaff.  Stop in at the Lumberyard Brewing Company there.  Nice place.  Have a seat in the outdoor patio, order a beer, and have lunch.  You could even have a press conference there, but I wouldn't suggest it.  You see, the Lumberyard is right next to railroad tracks and every 10 minutes, you'd be interrupted by a freight train passing.  Freight trains hauling nothing but shipping containers, stacked two high.  Shipping containers with names like "Hanjin" and "Yuan" on them.  Shipping containers filled with "stuff" - on pallets, of course - made in places with names like Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Baoding, and Fengxian.  Full shipping containers headed east, empty shipping containers (and pallets) headed west for Long Beach and then by boat back to Shanghai.  Yeah...there's a picture for your campaign, Mr. President.

But, be that as it may, enjoy your vacation.  I certainly don't begrudge you your ten days off.  After all, tens of millions of Americans have been taking way, way more time off than that lately...only outside of the Beltway, we call it "unemployment."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Casting call...'s been announced that Hollywood will be making a movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden that will be released next October.  Let's just step back from the political ramifications of this and give some thought to the movie itself.  Issue #1 - as John McLaughlin would say - casting.  Who get's to play our president?  Interesting question.  But since I live in Las Vegas, I'm inclined to take odds on these things.  So here goes:

  1. Denzel Washington - Obvious choice after Man on Fire - and if you haven't seen this movie, fix that deficiency RIGHT NOW! - I'll give Denzel 5-4 odds
  2. Chris Rock - Denzel would play Barack straight, Chris would be a better Obama, but would go for laughs. 2-1
  3. James Earl Jones - Just this guy's voice should be president. Imagine that you're Vladimir Putin and you pick up the Red Telephone and Darth Vader is on the other end. I'd say, "Advantage USA!"  But no resemblance to Obama. 4-1
  4. Morgan Freeman - Pretty much the go-to guy when it comes to portraying a black man with "gravitas," but too old. 6-1
  5. Harrison Ford (in black face) - Interesting concept, since Harrison has already shown he can do a credible president-as-action-hero role and Hollywood has already demonstrated that they have no issues with cross-ethnic casting (The Prince of Persia was just a white guy).  However, I think not. 15-1
  6. Bill Pullman (in black face) - Closer to Obama in body type, but see Harrison Ford above. 12-1
  7. Wesley Snipes - Wesley could totally pull this off (see Passenger 57), but I think he's in prison or on parole or something. 9-1
  8. Charlie Rangel - Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey, USMC Ret. demonstrated that Marines can step into a movie role and turn it into an iconic tour-de-force.  I see Charlie totally doing this, but I suspect that Hollywood is a little risk-averse these days. 10-1
  9. Bruce Willis/Alan Rickman - Admit it, you'd want either of these guys purely to hear them say, "Yippie-kai-yay, mother-fucker!" 18-1
  10. A carrot with googly eyes stuck on it (I'm indebted to @Tots4Masses for this)- Admittedly, this would add a certain authenticity to the role, but Hollywood is going to be on a deadline and CGI is expensive. 25-1
  11. Simon Pegg - A crazed white Scotsman portraying a black American president would be a totally daring interpretation, but I think it could work.  20-1
  12. Phineas and Ferb - Think about it..."Aren't you a little young to be hunting down diabolical Al-Queda masterminds?" "Why, yes. Yes, we are..." 35-1
I'm open to suggestions here and, of course, will alter the above odds as updated information warrants.  Obviously, Barack Obama is only one role in a cast of hundreds...outside of Joe Biden, who will be 100% animatronic.


There are two additional entries:
  1. JarJar Binks - Thanks to the Cheesemistress for this one.  Like the googly-eyed carrot (see above) JarJar would add a certain authenticity to the roll, but would be far more animated.  However, there were rumblings of racial stereotyping associated with his early work. 18-1
  2. Tim Meadows - Same age as the president and there's a strong resemblance with the potential for providing a certain comedic twist to the role.  I gotta go 7-5.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Evolution of a desert rat, part II

Me (checking the weather for our upcoming trip to Utah):  Looks like it's going to be sunny with a high of 90 and a low of 60.

Redhead:  Crap!  I'm going to have to pack long pants and a sweater.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Adventure camp or bear buffet?

No doubt, everyone has heard the recent polar bear attack on Svalbard Island, Norway.  A group of English teenagers, participating in a "high end adventure camp" on Svalbard (human population: 2500, polar bear population: 3000), were set upon by a polar bear in an attack that left one of the teenagers dead and four other members of the group injured.  The polar bear was shot and killed.

Tragic.  But let me ask the obvious question: Who in their right mind goes camping on an island that is home to 3000 polar bears?  In a previous post, I pointed out how polar bears have been made into the poster children of global warming.  Mostly as a result of this particular notoriety, they are typically portrayed as the big, ol' lovable huggie bear in the egregiously awful Nissan Leaf commercial or the cutesy cartoon bears in Coca-Cola commercials.  Perhaps, all of this polar bear love has led people to forget that polar bears are the largest land predator on the planet and that a full grown polar bear is pretty much the honey badger of the North.  Fifteen hundred pound bull walrus? Polar bear don't give shit; he just drags its ass out of the water and eats it.

So when you go camping in the land of the polar bear should you be surprised when you wake up to find one of the hungry indigents gnawing on your leg?  I think not.  No doubt, Mr. Bear wandered into camp and was thinking, "Sweet! Here's dinner...and they are all pre-packaged in these convenient down bags! Bien manger!" Sadly, a teenage boy is dead here, but so is the polar bear.  The bear was just being a bear.  The people were just being plain stupid.

Special added bonus:

I am indebted to my bud, Ron Alberston for this.  The "adventure campers" at least recognized that there were large, man-eating predators about, but apparently, took completely inadequate measures to protect themselves and their charges.  Check out the link and note that their rifle - which they had to kill bears who lived on the island the "adventurers" were intruding on -  misfired four out of four times.  This just does not happen in real life.  This tells me that the rifle the "adventure campers" had was pro forma.  I suspect it had been purchased, along with ammunition, but no one had actually fired it and the four rounds that misfired had probably been sitting in the magazine for years.  Again, the people in charge of this "adventure camp" just did not take polar bears seriously. Idiots.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The evolution of a desert rat...

Shortly after we had moved to Las Vegas, the redhead discovered a bark scorpion on the kitchen floor.  Bark scorpions are not all that big - a 2-inch long one would be a monster - but they are scorpions nonetheless and if one stings you it will hurt like a motherfucker.  In any case, this was the first scorpion the redhead had seen here.  I was in the other room and, while I had heard the phrase "scream like a girl" and, even used it myself, many times before, the noise I heard coming from the kitchen was - and still is - the purest manifestation of girl screaming I have ever experienced.  Screaming eventually transitioned to serial "Oh, my Gawd!"-ing, but by the time she had the exterminator on the phone - the scorpion had long since scurried under a nearby cabinet - some coherence had returned.  I didn't catch the entire conversation, but the phrases, "Kill them!", "Kill them all!", and "Oh, just fucking kill them!" figured prominently.  At least, this is my memory of the event.

Fast forward to last night.  We have long since ceased to engage the services of an exterminator; having recognized that whatever he was spraying around the house was doing little more than washing the dust off our scorpion least they weren't tracking it into the house.  I did buy a bottle of what was called "Demon-X" in a Shanghai street market, which very efficiently killed scorpions, but then it seemed to very efficiently kill everything that came in contact with it, up to and including small mammals and, probably, cats had we let them anywhere near the "Zone of Death."  So, we gave up on Demon-X, but when the revolution comes, I've already got my own little WMD stash.

I digress...

Last night, the redhead is reading, I'm learning about our country's new AA+ bond rating and drinking, and the cats, as usual, are laying about staring sullenly at me due to my refusal to turn up the A/C and cool them off.  Into this bucolic scene walks a scorpion, a big one, just taking a stroll through the living room.  "Hey, bros! How's it going?" he says, "Just thought I'd check out the place.  Got any bugs or shit like that around for me to eat?"  The redhead gets up, goes into the kitchen, and grabs the tweezers and glass jar we keep there for such occasions.  She picks up the scorpion with the tweezers, plops it in the jar, puts the lid on the jar, and sits back down with her book.  Heh.