Archive for March, 2008

   Micha sent me an email linking a Yahoo story discussing the subject. Their list is pretty good and, as Micha pointed out, has a really funny pick for the last one on the list. Their picks are as follows: 

 
1.) 10,000 B.C.
 
2.) Gladiator
 
3.) 300
 
4.) The Last Samurai
 
5.) Apocalypto
 
6.) Memoirs of a Geisha
 
7.) Braveheart
 
8.) Elizabeth: The Golden Age
 
9.) The Patriot
 
10.) 2001: A Space odyssey
 
 
   Not a bad list. I do have to wonder how things like Saving Private Ryan, U-571, Pocahontas, Bonnie and Clyde or just about any western or gangster film didn’t make their list over some of their choices. Or, for that matter, how Hanger 18 (based on real events according to the opening scenes) or Wraiths of Roanoke didn’t make their goofy entry.
 
   But, of course, that’s one of the joys of having a blog!
 
   Here’s what we’re going to do:
 
   Give me three of four films that you feel should be on that list. It doesn’t have to be an American distortion of history and at least one has to be a goof entry.
 
Mine:
 
1) King Arthur (2004)
 
   Billed at the time of its release as a demystified take on the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and a more historically accurate version of the legends, this movie gave us more of the same minus the good bits. Oh, and here’s a hint for Hollywood writers and ad people; Lancelot was added to the tale by a French author who felt that the story could only be perfected by the addition of the love triangle. And, of course, he made the only man who could woo a woman from Arthur and who was the greatest knight of all time a Frenchman.
 
   When you bill it as historically accurate or as faithful to the original legends and one of the first people you see in the ads is playing good old Lancelot… You’ve blown it.
 
2) JFK (1991)
 
   Oliver, Oliver, Oliver… We all love a little conspiracy nuttiness from time to time, but there’s a difference between doing it and overdoing it. Before the end of that thing, I was waiting for the introduction of aliens from outer space, remote controlled bullets and secret orders that have ruled man since we were the slaves of our prehistoric, lizard-man masters. Restraint can be your friend, Oliver.
 
3) The Last Man on Earth (1964)
 
   The last man on Earth? Then what the hell am I? Chopped liver?
 
4) Night of the Living Dead (1968 )
 
   No, George, it’s only the mornings that are for the living dead and it involves heavy drinking the night before. And, duh, I think I would have noticed the zombie hordes outside of my bedroom window if they were still there. There’s no conquering army of the undead out there. We’ve dealt with it George; we made ‘em productive members of society and found them jobs at K-Mart, Burger King, MSNBC and Congress. Hell South Carolina’s zombie lasted a lot longer than anybody thought he would and the one from West Virginia is still going strong.
 
   Undead invasion indeed.
Advertisements

   He has made racially charged criticisms of Hillary Clinton and suggested that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 showed that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost”.

   He has said that the U.S. government created AIDS to kill black people. He has said this in church to his flock on Sunday mornings.

   He has said that the Government “wants us to sing ‘God Bless America’ ” despite treating black people as second-class citizens. “No, no, no,” he said, “God damn America!”

   He has stated that Zionism is an element of “white racism” in the world.

   He is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and he has said all of that and more in his fire and brimstone Sunday sermons and been met by cheers, applause and choruses of “amen” by his enthusiastic flock. He was the pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, a church that is race exclusive in its origins and says that it’s members, “are an African people, and remain “true to our native land,” the mother continent, the cradle of civilization.” (http://www.tucc.org/about.htm)

   He is also the long time friend of Barack Obama who is himself a long time member of TUCC. And there is the problem.

   The controversy has been building now for almost a full year. The early stabs at creating a career ending controversy were taken by pointing out the church’s doctrine and focus on race. These attempts were met with a round of yawns and disinterest by most. This was understandable as spokesmen for the church went on the various chat shows and explained that the concepts that were creating so much controversy were merely expressions of the idea of the black community lifting itself up, addressing its own problems, taking care of itself and taking and teaching responsibility for itself.

   To tell the truth, I didn’t really have a problem with that explanation or the concept being espoused. That’s a good message for everybody to hear. But that’s the kind of message that, in some quarters of the black community, can only be given to blacks by blacks. If a white outsider to the community came in and said the same thing, even if it was truly a heartfelt attempt to help the community, there would be some who would close their ears to the message based purely on the color of the messenger. So, again, I saw no real problem with it.

   Then the videos started slowly coming out. In these videos was Rev. Wright making the statements from above and others and being cheered for every word by his massive congregation. After a few months of this building, Obama finally decided to address the issue. Obama alerted the press that he was going to be giving a speech on the situation related to the Rev. Wright’s comments, Obama’s long standing friendship, described by both at times as an almost father son relationship, with Wright and Obama’s long membership in Wright’s church.

   That moment came, as of the time of this writing, yesterday. In the 24 hours since then, countless talking heads have discussed and dissected the speech and praised it for its bold, honest and frank take on race relations in America. They’ve talked long and hard about how masterfully Obama personalized it by pointing out that he could no more disown Rev. Wright than he could his white grandmother or the black community. But they’ve all but failed to discuss one major issue with the speech. It didn’t truly address Obama’s choice to stay in a church where that mindset and sentiment existed for as long as he did and continues to do.

   See, my problem with this is that most people choose the groups that they wish to be with based on shared interests and beliefs and common ideals. From little fluffy hobby stuff to major lifestyle choices, people look at what they’re getting into based on what they themselves feel, believe or enjoy. People who are bored to tears by chess don’t join a chess club. People who hate Star Trek don’t join a fan club devoted to all things Trek. If you can’t stand football, you’re not going to join a club or buy yourself front row season tickets. People who don’t believe in God or organized religion rarely decide that they need to join an orthodox church. People who don’t believe in racially hateful speech and ideals don’t, or shouldn’t, join a group that espouses those ideas and cheers them when they’re loudly given voice.

   Obama says that he’s never heard the Rev. Wright saying these things from the pulpit before. I find that a little hard to believe given what others in the church have said. I also find it a little hard to believe having seen the videos of Wright’s more controversial comments from the pulpit. One would think that the congregation would react a little differently if their reverend just shifted out of the blue from reading the gospels to damning America, talking about how whites don’t get it and proclaiming that America’s evil deeds came home to roost on 9/11.

   But give Obama the benefit of the doubt for a moment. Obama says that he has never heardWright say these things from the pulpit. We’ll go with the scenario that Wright never said these things when Obama was attending church that Sunday or at least waited for Obama to step out to the men’s room to spew the hate. Even then, there’s no way that Obama could not have heard ofthose sermons. There’s no way that he couldn’t know that they existed; especially since he’s admitted knowing that Wright held these personal views.

   And that’s again, my problem here.

   I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t be a member of a church where the reverend and the congregation held extremely hateful or racist views of blacks. I’ve walked away from organised churches before because the views being espoused and rejoiced in by the members were hateful towards Catholics, Jews, other races, etc. Anything that is that important a part of your life, the symbol of your faith, cannotbe a poisoned tool of hatred against an ideal you hold dear. For me, you can’t separate the two things. You can’t hold the specific church of your faith as a representation of your values but then claim that it’s not.

   Had Obama done something more to address the actual issue that has been building the controversy, then I might have felt different now. Had he said that it had been a case of a church changing over the years or even Obama breaking from the church entirely… Maybe that could have been better. But Obama’s speech was basically one giant smoke and mirror trick where he told everyone to stop talking about his questionable decisions and poor choices and to talk instead about the county’s.

   It doesn’t help the matter of my gut feeling that sometimes Obama is selling an image of something other than what he is. I’ve never felt that he was hiding anything other than inexperience before, but now I’m not so sure. As Hillary’s critics like to say, there’s a pattern here, real or imaginary, that seems to be adding up to something less than what I want to see in a Commander in Chief.

   Obama doesn’t like to wear little flag pins and other symbols of “hollow” patriotism. Obama has an occasional history of not placing his hand over his heart and reciting the pledge or the national anthem when others around him are. Again, like the early issues about his church, they’ve rolled off most people’s backs. It was minor, petty and trivial stuff. I agreed at the time.

   Obama’s wife had a nice foot-in-mouth moment when she told Obama supporters at a February 2008 rally, “let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.” It ran the news cycle and was written off as a slip of the tongue. I agreed at the time.

   But does this most recent development change the meaning of those things. Does it put a new appearance on Obama’s decision to eschew the displays of patriotism if the church he attends has sermons that call on God to damn America? Does it make Michelle Obama’s remarks about a country that is described by her church leaders as hateful and lacking in understanding towards blacks seem less innocent and more racist?

   Right now I’m not 100% sure, but my gut wants me to lean in that direction. Other people’s guts may lean differently.

   But let me ask you this question. Would you, if you’re cutting Obama slack on this, be so quick to do so if the races were switched? Let me give you a hypothetical.

   A white cop shoots and kills a black man one night. The cop says that he saw something suspicious going on, told the subject to stay where he was at and the subject spun around with what looked like a weapon in his hand. That’s all you know about it. That’s all you need to know about it.

   Now, the press does some digging and discovers that this white cop is a member of a white church that entertains sermons about how the black man is of inferior intellect, violent tendencies and, thanks to the mark of Cain (black skin according to some white supremest churches) upon them, criminally inclined. Do you think that you or the people who are excusing Obama’s church going decisions are going to just write that off? Do you honestly believe that the white cop would get away with claiming that he goes to the church but doesn’t really subscribe to the beliefs espoused by the reverends and cheered by the congregation? Do you honestly believe that he would still have a job after those revelations were aired in the cable news cycles even if every investigation into the shooting showed that it was 100% justified? Would you even risk a penny on a bet that every single black leader that is now defending Wright and Obama wouldn’t be demanding the firing of the white officer and jail time irregardless of the facts?

   Now that is an extreme example. But I don’t really have to look that long and hard to find a two much more analogous examples that exist in real life. Their names are Rudy Giuliani and John McCain.

   Before Giuliani dropped out of the race, he got lambasted by the voices on the left for, amongst other things, receiving an endorsement from Pat Robertson. The criticism had to do with Robertson’s insane comments about how America brought 9/11 on itself by offending God and other likewise deranged comments about asteroids, tornadoes and hurricanes.

   I agreed with those criticisms.

   John McCain has been blasted for eagerly accepting the endorsement of one John Hagee. Hagee runs a controversial church where he has preached that the Catholic Church is “the great whore” of Christianity, nutty 9/11 beliefs, God caused Hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans to prevent a gay pride parade and the idea that America must support and protect Israel so that, when the time of prophecy comes, God can smite Israel from the face of the Earth and send all the Jews to Hell. Hagee is, quite bluntly, a nutjob.

   I agreed with those criticisms.

   But, oddly, the people who attacked Giuliani over Robertson and are still attacking McCain over Hagee, let alone attacking Hagee himself, are the first people to explain why this is different than that and to give Obama a pass. They’re the first to explain at length why Obama should be admired for his stand on this issue while turning around condemning McCain for the Hagee situation.

   And they are right about something. They’re right that the Obama/Wright situation is different than Giuliani/Robertson or McCain/Hagee. Giuliani and McCain merely accepted questionable endorsements that they shouldn’t have. Obama calls Wright a friend, a father figure and a leader of the church that Obama has been a long time member of. Giuliani, McCain and Obama have all said that they don’t agree with everything that their three religious supporters have said in the past. But of this group, only Obama has made the church of the speaker of hatred his long time church.

   I criticised Giuliani and McCain. I’m not going to give Obama the same pass on the matter that so many hypocrites have. Obama cannot treat this matter as a done deal and dead issue to be put behind him.

   I’ve said since before Iowa that I wasn’t a big fan of anyone in this election cycle’s field. I’ve said any number of times that I had no clue who I could bring myself to actually vote for. None of them made me very happy. I can say one thing with certainty now though.

   I cannot vote for Obama. I despise racists and racism of all colors. Right now, I have very big questions about what is truly in the hearts of Barack and Michelle Obama. Obama had a real chance to address the personal issues that mattered here. Not only did he basically refuse to truly address those issues in his speech, but he basically told us to stop talking about it when it pertains directly to him and Wright.

   I hope, I sincerely hope, that my gut’s misgivings are wrong. I hope, I sincerely hope, that matters change by November. As it stands now, Obama is the likely Democratic nominee. If it’s him and McCain, I can’t vote for McCain and I’m not looking forward to the idea of not voting at all.

Gone Too Soon.

Posted: March 11, 2008 in Entertainment, Life, News

The Rocketeer and Betty 

   Word is spreading on the web that Dave Stevens has passed away of leukemia at the age of 52. For those who don’t know the name, Dave Stevens was an incredible comic artist and writer who created, amongst other things, The Rocketeer.

   Dave’s artwork was amazing to look at. Simple and clean yet full of detail. He also drew women very, very well. His favorite “model” to use was one time cult fave Betty Page. He based the character “Betty” from the Rocketeer on Bettie Page’s physical appearance. So popular did Dave’s pin-ups of Betty become that he almost single handed restarted the real Bettie Page’s cult following in the 80’s and 90’s.

   When it was discovered due to this resurgence of popularity that Bettie Page, long a mystery of the modelling cheesecake world due to her almost complete disappearance from the face of the Earth, was alive and well; Dave sought her out to pay her royalties and helped others do the same. She didn’t seek him out or make any move to seek legal redress and had no intention of doing so. Dave just did it because he felt that it was the right thing to do.

   Great artist, good writer, great creator and, from everything that I’ve ever heard or read about him, a genuinely good man. I deeply regret having never met the man at a convention to tell him how much I enjoyed his work.

   My deepest sympathies go out to his friends and family.

Mark Evanier has a more complete write up on Dave Stevens here:

http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2008_03_11.html#014911

And THIS is why my job SUCKS.

Posted: March 4, 2008 in Life

 There’s a lot of detail left out of some of this. Sorry, but I can’t give but so much information about this and not violate my oath and certain laws.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 Everybody says that their job sucks. It’s part of the working life. Anytime someone says that their job sucks, you pretty much know what’s coming. They’re going to tell you about the bad boss, the money, the guy that does nothing but gets ahead anyhow, etc.

But my job sucks for different reasons. Oh, sure there’s all of that other stuff, but there’s stuff that makes that look as trivial as it really is. In the last two weeks, I’ve had two of those nights.

I’ll start with the “little” one first. It also happens to have been the first of the two anyhow. Friday about two weeks ago, another officer and I got a call to check some people out late in the shift. When we got there, we found a group of ten waiting for a chartered limo van to pick them up and take them home.

 Quick talk to the group and we find out that it’s a big party for the birthday girl. She turned 21 that day. Nice kid.

Two of the ten had been acting a bit stupid though and had a complaint called in on them by a security guard. We pulled the two of them aside and started talking to them about what was going on. We explained that we were going to give them a “warning” since what they did wasn’t all that, but we did have to run their information to document the contact with them. The guy handed me his ID. The girl said she didn’t have any on her.

Although, she said that while swaying slightly back and forth in that “I may have had one too many” way.

I told her that I knew she had ID since she’d been club hopping. No ID, no service. She’d been drinking so she had ID. She looks at me with an “oh, shit” look and slowly pulls her ID out of her pocket. ID that said that she was not 21. She’d been hitting off of everyone’s drinks all night and got a little more tipsy than I think she intended.

Long story short on this one. She seemed like a good kid. My gut was telling me not to jam her up and run her in. The fact that she was so scared that she was about to wet herself and didn’t get crappy with us helped in that department as well.

But this is where I was stuck. My only two choices were to run her in or let her go. If I ran her in, then I was giving a permanent criminal record to someone who was just being a dumb kid doing a stupid thing. And something that I did once or twice at that age.

We opted to scare the crap out of her to the point that she was crying and then tell her that we were cutting her and the birthday girl a break. We made it clear that we had her name on file and that if any of us came across her drunk again before 21 that it was a fast trip to lock up. The group got on the limo van and went on their way. I’m still not sure that she didn’t pee herself before she left.

Now, you’re asking what sucks about that, aren’t you. What sucks, is that there used to be a better option. Back in the day, back in my father’s day as an officer, we could have sent everybody else on their merry way and held onto her. She wouldn’t have been under arrest mind you. Nooooo. We would have called her parents and told them that they could come pick up their drunk under age daughter from the station.

You get a scared spitless kid who then gets a really ticked off parent picking them up after a long drive and making it an even longer drive home for the kid. The kid catches hell, gets punished by mom and dad and maybe they don’t make this particular mistake again.

But we can’t do that now. Laws written to protect us from liability and the public from abuses of power have kinda stepped in the way. Yeah, those laws do some good, but they sometimes hamper our ability to actually do something that might help keep someone from being a repeat screw up and getting into even worse trouble later.

See, we sent her off into the night scared. That might do some good. But it might not as well. Her friends could have been going down the road telling her that she really pulled one off and that we were being kill joys. She could later think that she got one over on the system once, so she can do it again next time. And, somehow, I don’t see her or her friends mentioning to mom and dad that she just missed getting arrested for drunk in public under age.

You hope you did the right thing. You hope that it’s not going to bite you later when you hear about them doing something like it again and hurting themselves or someone else. But if you’ve only got the two options, you have to choose one and hope for the best.

But, like I said above, that was the “little” suck. Here’s the big one.

Four days later I got a call that presented to me a man who has literally fallen through the cracks of the system. I was confronted with a man that will either cripple or kill himself, cause someone else to be crippled or killed or really mess up someones life in a serious way. And there’s not a God damned thing that we can do about it.

This man (we’ll call him John after John Q. Public) is a mental case. He’s not violent and he’s not immediately noticeable as a mental case. Well, unless he’s crossing the street.

That’s what we got called about. See, John tends to cross the street in a rather… unusual manner. If john wants to cross the street at 7th and Broad Street, he starts crossing the street at 11th and Broad Street and walks a long diagonal path through the traffic. And in the case of my little get together with him, he was walking through the rush hour traffic.

And he has no clue that the cars are even there while he does it. He looks straight ahead like a robot, never acknowledges the traffic and strolls on about his merry way. We gave him a warning, his third, and sent him on his way to the shelter that he stays at. I stopped him again three hours later walking straight into the cars on Broad Street again.

This is where the problem comes into it. In those three hours, we called the magistrates, we called Crisis (they deal with mental subjects) and we spoke with some of the city guys who have dealt with him since he showed up in the city a few months back. The long and short of all of that is that there’s nothing we can do with him.

We can’t really charge him with a crime beyond, basically, jaywalking. That will get him a date in traffic court, but it won’t get him off of the streets. Crisis won’t take him. They’ve taken him before, evaluated him and stated that he no longer qualifies for detainment and treatment. They said that the rules that govern them have been rewritten several times over the last few years with too much focus on money and not enough on helping people. Now, they cut loose people that would have been treated only a few years ago. And the city has been running into dead ends with him for two plus months.

I wrote him for basically crossing outside of the designated areas, gave him his court date and let him go. and a few hours later, he was reported for doing the same thing again.

I’ve spent over a week looking stuff up to try and find a way to get this guy off of the streets. I’ve made calls, looked up codes, looked up obscure references in the law codes, looked up court rulings and generally fried my brain over this. The end results? Just what I said above. We can’t do a thing.

If it hasn’t already sunk in as to why this really sucks, here’s why.

John is so mentally incapable of looking out for his own health, welfare and well being that he’s going to get himself hurt, injured, crippled for life or killed. And we can’t do anything about it. And, believe it or not, it’s worse than even that.

If John causes a driver to swerve to avoid him, then the results could be that car hitting a pedestrian, someone on a bike or another car. John’s mental state and street walking could then actually cause the injury or death of someone else. And we can’t do anything about it. And, believe it or not, it gets worse yet again.

Think about the driver. Imagine if you were the driver. You’re zooming down the street, your heading home after a long day at the office and then, seemingly out of nowhere, John steps right into the front of your car. You cripple him. Hell, you kill him. How many times will people have to tell you it wasn’t your fault? How long until you stop seeing him bouncing off of your hood? How long before you get over the feelings created by, your fault or not, you killing a man?

And we can’t do a damned thing.

So, yeah, one week of working at this to finally be told that John has officially fallen through the cracks. The law is restricted in what it can do to him and the mental health agencies have been crippled by the penny pincher crowd to the point that they can’t do anything for him.

Well, there’s one thing we can do. We can wait until the inevitable finally happens. And, thanks to the area he now frequents every day, I’ll either be on hand to hear about it the day it happens or I’ll be here to see it happen.

And THAT is why my job SUCKS.