February 26, 2005

Copy my Oscar pool

Since I bragged my ass off last year about being right on all nine of the categories I put choices on, I'm sure I'm going to face Karma this time around. But since I actually went in on an Oscar pool at work, pretending I didn't make real-life choices that will determine if I can buy lunch next week or not would be hypocritical. And so, a few of the ones that matter:

Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby.

Best Picture, Animated: The Incredibles. It should have been nominated for Best Picture. And then it should have won.

Best Picture, Foreign: The Sea Inside.

Best Director: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby. Everyone's making the "Scorcese's due" speech, but Scorcese is due pretty much every time he's nominated- he doesn't win because other films are better, and Hollywood likes other directors over him. Everyone in Hollywood adores Clint Eastwood. Also known as the "we're so sorry Mystic River had to be nominated the same year as Return of the King" award, Clint's due for that film alone morre than Scorcese anyway.

The Jamie Foxx Best Actor Award: In the remote Perseus Nebula of the Titan Galaxy, there lies a dormant race of semi-intelligent life forms similar in physical form to the earth species of tree squirrel. They rest as a footnote in history as the only sentient species in the universe that actual thinks Foxx isn't walking away with an Oscar Sunday night.

Best Actress: It's going to Hillary Swank again. There's honestly no reason it wouldn't. Annette Benning is great and all, but the entire "rematch" thing is just silly. No one's thinking that way.

Best Supporting Actor:Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby. Here's an interesting fact: Morgan Freeman is, in fact, the most-loved person alive. Also, he's played at least five different police and/or military ranks, two doctors, a U.S. President, Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, and God. He's made over 60 films. The man is 68 years old- the Academy has about five years to give him an Oscar before thay start figuring out when to give him the Thalberg. For GODSAKES, people.

Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator. She played Katherine Hepburn. Well. Duh.

Best Screenplay, Original: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This was one of my big "self-loathing" picks, because since this was for a contest, I had to go with who I think would win as opposed to who should. The best original screenplay of 2004 was unquestionably The Incredibles. On a personal note, I actually hate the fawning over Charlie Kaufman- he has this recurring habit of writing the most fabulous first sixty minutes of a movie, and then sending the whole thing spiralling into crap. But the screenwriting awards are even more of a Kool Kids voting inner circle than the high-tier ones, and they're going to give Kaufman a prize this time. If Brad Bird can actually pull this off and pull a first for an animated film, I'll be happy to lose the Oscar pool.

Best Screenplay, Adapted: Sideways. Because if it doesn't, everyone at Starbucks will be intolerable on Monday morning.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:46 PM

Training you for all the escorts you'll be ordering later in life

The Online RPG Everquest has integrated a new feature in their game in which players in the game world can enter a command to, in real life, have Pizza Hut delivered to them so as not to interrupt game time to actual go get food yourself.

Look, as someone who participated in the World of Warcraft Beta, I can attest to the unfathomable addictiveness of games like this. But implementing systems that encourage never getting up from the monitor as opposed to systems that reward down time are just negligent.

You know what would be great? If the game had some function that, like, detected when you played for twenty hours straight. Then a window would pop up that said "you can now win the +12 Demon Sword. Do do so, go the hell outside, and send us a picture of yourself doing it."

(On a side note, I have so far, and hope to for the foreseable future, avoided buying WoW retail. To do so would, without question, fracture the thin shred of what consists of my current social life, not to mention endanger my job. I'm not kidding. I'll consider getting the damn thing when I save up three month's vacation time.)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:18 PM

February 25, 2005

Life imitates prior job ineptness

The humor is unavoidable in the announcment that Tom Ridge will join the corporate board of Home Depot:

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge will join the board of Home Depot Inc., replacing Roger Penske, the company said Thursday.

Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania, was the first director of Homeland Security -- a federal department formed hastily in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He left that post in late November, saying he wanted to pursue opportunities in the private sector.

"We are honored to have [Ridge] join our board, where we expect that his unique global experience and perspective will make a profound contribution to our company and our shareholders," said Home Depot Chief Executive Bob Nardelli.

Ridge is quite familiar with home-improvement projects. He was instrumental in a short-lived run on duct tape in early 2003, when he encouraged Americans to turn to the sticky substance and plastic sheeting as protection against terrorists using chemical and/or biological agents.

The move, which drew criticism from many corners, motivated many across the country to stock up -- to the extent that some retailers reported widespread shortages.

Both Home Depot and rival Lowe's Cos. were among the big beneficiaries of the buying binge. Home Depot, in fact, went so far as to set up special Homeland Security displays nears it entrances to tout sales of duct tape, plastic sheeting, batteries and bottled water, among other safe-room supplies.

Fascinating.


Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:10 AM

February 24, 2005

Girl Power

Maybe it's just me here, but with all the right-wingers daydreaming about Condi running for President in 2008, has it occured to any of them that if she does, it practically guarantees that Hillary Clinton will run for President?

As Jesse already noted, there seems to be a not-too-subtle poll going around that basically has both Democrats and Republicans agreeing that it's time for OhButOfCourseWe'reNotReferringToAnyoneInParticular a woman to be president.

Now, granted, this poll reeks of Colin Powell Syndrome (i.e. Chris Rock's famous statement that white people said in every single poll in 1996 that they'd vote for Colin Powell for President, because it sounds like the right thing to say. For those of you who don't follow politics, Colin Powell is, in fact, not President.)

So, for comparison, let's look at the "negatives" cast on Clinton and how the nomination of Rice diffuses them. Please note that some of these are going to address political realities. In other words, you might be offended because I'm going to state the blatantly obvious. In short, deal.

She's a woman. So's Condi. Any anti-women ideals in the election is sort of crippled when both the candidates are female. The media will slip over its own drool every night talking about how "whoever wins, we'll have our first female President."

There's all this media speculation that people "don't like" Hillary Clinton. Frankly, a lot of that seems to linger in the realm of subconscious misogyny. Insert the traditional "when a woman does it, she's called a bitch" line here. But it's true. A woman running against a man creates a gender war. For Hillary's sake, quite possibly the greatest benefit to her would be another woman running against her.

This also affects a big element of the entire GOP Condi fantasy: Republicans don't really mention this at all, so you may be surprised to discover that Condoleeza Rice is, in fact, black. Now, it may be incredibly cynical of me to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the GOP was going to try to exploit that with a Condi '08 campaign. But against Hillary, the media simply won't care as much. It would be impossible to reflect on the milestone of Condi's race when there would be a milestone in either side's gender to address.

Her marriage. Republicans would love to bring up the cheating Bill issue with Hillary in the race. Unfortunately, it's going to be hard if the GOP is running a candidate who has never been married and has no children. The closest Rice has ever come to even alluding to romantic involvement with anything, let alone another man, was when she accidentally referred to George W. Bush as her husband.

Her looks. Does it suck that we'll judge the appearance of women with more scrutiny than men? Yes. Does the GOP like to plaster silly photos of Hillary and that bizarre smile all the time? Yes. Are they anything compared to the 90% of the pictures of Condi and the Scowl of Death? No. Joke about the photogeneic appeal of Hillary all you want, right-wingers, but digitally editing a poster alone of Condi that makes her loook warm and appealing to the average voter will cost over half the campaign fund just to hire out LucasArts for the week.

Hillary's a bitch. And, by your rubric for that assessment, Condi's not? Let's analyze the woman-versus-woman argument again. Hillary versus Elizabeth Dole is a no-brainer- Dole will come off as warm, nice, and appealing. Hillary versus Condoleeza Rice isn't exactly the same disparity.

Whitewater. Iraq. Seriously. For all the Limbaugh-level conspiracy theories about Clinton, Rice is the only one here who actually has lied before Congress, and actually has performed actions that have gotten numerous people killed. So unless we find Osama and a magic potion that brings 1,700 people back to life tomorrow, let's stop pretending Rice is the golden child of public policy, m'kay?

To clarify, I'm not saying I agree with all these rationales. I don't think this means Condi should start acting "like a woman should act" in the minds of the "yay, guys" Middle-American blue-collar voter. And I don't really enjoy the prospect of pulling apart Condi over the fact that an unmarried, over-aggressive black woman doesn't really embody the core Republican voter. But like I said, these are obvious truths of a Condi candidacy.

Hillary Clinton isn't a "why can she be President" candidate, she's a "why can't she be" one. And Condoleeza Rice, by nature of being the candidate closest in comparison to Clinton, makes her the best best to alleviate the idea of positive differences between the two.

Ultimately, I think this is the Colin Powell Syndrome stuff I mentioned before. Republicans are babbling about Condi because it sounds like the right thing to say, while the political, cultural, and social reality is that Rice offers nothing except a band-aid to Hillary's own faults. If they wanted a woman, they would have nominated Elizabeth Dole. If they wanted a black person, they would have nominated Colin Powell. If they want Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States, they'll nominate Condoleeza Rice.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:12 AM

February 23, 2005

Heh, Indeed for Dummies

World O' Crap eviscerates the Glenn Reynolds-approved conservative damage control over the Jeff Gannon scandal.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:34 AM

February 22, 2005

You fool!

Tom breaks the cardinal rule of the left-wing blogosphere: you're not actually supposed to let all the warbloggers know that no one knows what "moonbat" means. Then they'll stop saying it, pretending they're clever while looking like idiots.

Seriously though, I'm sure Tom's not the first to bring this up. For the life of me, I don't get why the right-wingers think that insults are improved by casting confusion as to whether it's an insult or not. It's like thinking "boy, I can really piss him off, but it'll hurt him even more if I say it in a foreign language!"

As for "asshat," I very likely use the term daily. There's a much simpler semantic origin for that one: almost any short word, attached to "ass," is inherently funny. See: asshat, assclown, assblanket, assgoblin, assdonkey, assmuffin.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:01 PM

Damn hippies

Ever since I moved down to DC I've been at odds with my cell phone. I've tried to be lenient about the decline in service because, frankly, I really admire my company- I use the Working Assets people, which basically subsidizes Sprint PCS cell phone service and donates 1% of your bill to progressive causes.

The problem I've been facing, however, is that Sprint PCS absolutely sucks. I haven't gone above three bars since I moved down here. And for the last few weeks this has been combining with a cell phone that is beginning to suck all on its own. It's developed this new little glitch where, when the service drops out, the call doesn't just disconnect, but the phone shuts down completely. After it does this, there's no way to turn it back on. It just decides randomly, maybe five minutes, maybe an hour, to come back to life again as if nothing happened.

As a cost-cutting measure, I have no land line in my apartment, so you can imagine how difficult this can be. My year-long contract runs out in about a month and I'm basically holding out until I can switch over to Verizon, or Cingular, or whatever service actually, you know, works in Northern Virginia.

It bothers me, because I really like the Working Assets people and I don't have any problems with them in particular. I'm not too dismayed at their loss of me as a client- at $40 a month for cell phone service, I suppose I can satisfy the guilt by sending them a check for the 40 cents a month they'll no longer be taking from me to donate to the ACLU. I just wish that, when coming across a great concept like Working Assets, the technology can actually work.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:52 PM

Red with irony

The army of the Communist Party of the Philippines held its first gay marriage earlier this month.

Really.

On Friday, under a romantic drizzle in a muddy clearing in Compostela Valley province in Mindanao, Ka Andres and Ka Jose exchanged vows in a heavily guarded ceremony before local villagers, friends from the city and their comrades in arms.

They are considered the first homosexual couple in the New People's Army (NPA) who were wed by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

During the "wedding," sponsors draped a sequined CPP flag around the couple's shoulders. The flag was held in place by a long, beaded cord which also went around the couple and the sponsors -- symbolizing that their marriage would be made stronger with the help of comrades and the masses.

Andres held a bullet, as did Jose and each other's hands. The bullets represented their "commitment in the armed struggle."

Jose recalled the day he first visited the NPA camp for his revolutionary integration -- a practice resorted to by city-based revolutionary activists before their deployment in the countryside.

This was the first time he met Andres, who was preparing audio-visual materials for a basic revolutionary education seminar.

So, just so we're clear here: two loving adults of the same sex do not have the right to be married in the United States of America. They can do so, however, if they're members of an armed guerilla faction of a Communist army.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:04 PM

February 21, 2005

Newest comic - "ButBush-1™"

For the last 22 hours, the idea that this text was not here was clearly a figment of your drug-addled imagination. Bust weekend, what can I say. I hope you all enjoyed the grandiose celebrations of the birth of your forefathers, especially those of you who bought the extra comfy mattress.

With rational humans still loving that whole security net thing and numerous Americans expressing dismay at the idea that Iraqis getting to vote in certain areas where it was safe to go out on the street did not, in fact, cure cancer, Bush's self-proclaimed "political capital" seems to longer be enough to earn the free toaster. Nevertheless, those crazy kids with the internets these days seem to continue with their demand that Bush pulling a landslide 51% means that everything he supports is automatically validated.

Speaking of drug-addled imaginations, to go in long and droning tones about the death of Hunter Thompson would be an insult to the vast number of people who knew him better, read him more frequently, and loved him greater than I did. Thompson was not as much a direct inspiration to me as he was an inspiration for so many of the things in this world that themselves became an inspiration for me. This is true: I had just finished listening to Warren Zevon's Excitable Boy Album while reading one of my Transmetropolitan books when I saw the news. Neither of those would exist without him. Even things that Thompson hated, such as Uncle Duke, are a major element of the things that made me want to have that kind of creativity.

It's hard, as someone who chose early in life to never drink and never take drugs, to simultaneously aspire to be as talented as someone who apparently partook of both as if they could replace grains and cereals on the Food Pyramid. The argument over whether Thompson would have been even more brilliant without the chemical assistance, or nothing at all, will probably continue until the end of time. Meanwhile, I'd like to think the idea of someone, not necessarily me, actually being capable of achieving a description of "like Hunter Thompson, but without the drugs" remains physically, and creatively, possible.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:13 AM