Saturday, March 31, 2007

Jeffrey's Manifesto

Of the previous manifestos, I align myself thusly – give or take a few percentage points:

Wagstaff: Agree – 85%; Disagree – 7%; Indifferent or Don’t Know – 8%
Dude: Agree – 45%; Disagree – 37%; Don’t Know – 18%
Blot: Agree – 70%; Disagree – 17%; Don’t Know – 13%
Odie: Agree – 33%; Disagree – 34%; Don’t Know – 33%
Ed Copeland: Agree – 20%; Disagree – 50%; Don’t Know – 30%
Ross: Agree – 55%; Disagree – 26%; Don’t Know – 19%
Charlie Parsley - Disagree - 100%

Superficial niceties, even when insincere, play a vital role in civilized society and are preferable than people shrewdly and honestly expressing themselves all the time.

It is generally okay that people talk behind the backs of other people as most people I know cannot handle such talk in front of them.

Backstabbing is different.

Gossip mongers are important to the dissemination of information.

Never provoke an argument if you are a guest in someone’s house.

Gracefully accept gifts and do not return them unless the gift giver has explicitly wished you to do so or the size is wrong, in which case you should replace it with the same thing in the correct size.

Our President is the best friend muslims have. He is saving them from annihilation.

Hell, he is the best friend Freedom has.

President Bush is also the easiest and safest person in the world to criticize. It takes no courage to do so. And you can count on him to be a man about it.

Our two-party system is the best possible system there is. It has proven to withstand having to get by with only one rational side.

Campaign mudslinging and intense partisanship do not mean that the country is going to hell.

Rush Limbaugh is a credit to the conservative movement. He is also one of the wittiest and least racist pundits today.

Grant was a better general than Lee.

The Spanish-American War was just; we needed the coaling stations.

Distrust any declaration that begins with “there should be a law…” or “people should be forced to…”

Generalizing is an important tool for communication. It keeps us all from sounding like French professors.

Nothing is more stubborn than a Japanese girl.

A funny stand-up comedian is the exception to the rule.

Comedians should be referred to as fools, so that they know their rightful place.

The term “comedian” indicates a level of respectability that most stand-ups do not deserve nor should aspire to.

I prefer satire over snark.

“Keeping it real” is a meaningless expression.

A pair of sneakers worn with a tux looks silly and, yet, is not funny in any way.

Clown shoes are funny.

Never appear on television or radio unless you are a trained entertainer.

The two greatest countries for cinema (besides the U.S.) are Italy and Japan. They are also the greatest countries for cuisine.

Ernst Lubitsch is the greatest filmmaker of all time.

Comedies should not exceed 90 minutes. Other movies should not exceed 2 hours. Any exception to the latter should have an intermission and a prelude score that clearly identifies it as an epic. (To paraphrase Billy Wilder on the 90 minute rule: anything over 90 minutes runs double.)

In the animation world: American over anime. Disney over Warner Bros. (though just barely).

B&W Mickey will turn anything, living or dead, into a musical instrument.

Groucho is the funniest man, ever. Harpo is the second.

When you start smelling yourself, that means people have been smelling you for three days.

Never wear a t-shirt that advertises something you respect, unless it was given to you.

In the future, everyone's grandmother will have a tattoo.

The Bible is as relevant today as it was way back when. You can get a better understanding about the world today from it than you can from all the available media and science.

Heaven is preferable to Hell, regardless of where Odie is. My faith advises me that the Grace of God is beyond any notion of coolness or pleasure.

Jesus died for Odie’s sins, as well as the sins of televangelists and all the people Odie despises.

Floaters, not sinkers.

Kirkalicious - Random post for the day

Star Trek and workplace humor in the same link. How can you go wrong?

Friday, March 30, 2007

A Menufesto

By Charlie Parsley

Do what you want whenever you want to. Do what feels good. I believe in the spirit of do. Do what you wanna do when you want to do it.. If it don’t turn you on then you just leave it alone.

That’s about all I’ve got. I feel unable to make any personal opinions about anything. Instead I find myself looking to outside resources. In my youth I made a sincere effort at reading the Bible but I randomly started reading this long list of things that are unclean and what sorts of foods to eat and how to prepare them properly and when a woman is unclean... I read all these particular rules and I considered that this was exactly NOT what I had an interest in. Rules mean nothing to me. They constantly change.

I enjoyed Shakespeare during college and I did learn many a thing from his works. I could continue with a long list here of various and sundry people whose works made an impression on me but I am looking for something to use in a manifesto. I could consult the I Ching or try ESP. Maybe there are extra-terrestrial answers out there. I don’t know for sure.

While we’re figuring it out let’s have a beer. Maybe two beers. Maybe a pizza, if it is dinnertime.

Hey, here’s something. Check this out. I have made an effort to remove time-pieces from my environment. Most of the time I don’t wear a watch or carry a cell phone. There are plenty of clocks everywhere. I also took the alarm clock out of my bedroom. I never want to have an alarm clock again. I sleep on a regular schedule and I usually get up early. It is nice to just pay attention to the sun and moon to estimate the time.

Here’s a thought about money: I would rather trade services and goods for other goods and services instead of exchanging money.

I am completely confused about why anybody has to pay rent or mortgage on a building that is already built and paid for. Maintenance is one thing but rent is bullshit. Imagine if people did not have to pay rent. Wouldn’t quality of life double?

That’s a nice thought to close with. That makes me want to dance. That’s another nice thought to close with. Dancing is good for you. Everybody dance now!

More manifestos on the way....

Charlie Parsley's will be up sometime today....

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Rued Manifesto

by Ross Ruediger

Disclaimer: 99.9% of all “facts” should be considered suspect -- humans are too prone to error for anything to be 100% correct.

That said, on with the show…

Art & Media

Some books deserve to be burned.

Most films over two hours probably don’t need to be.

I am incapable of understanding how anyone with whom I’d choose to associate can actively dislike The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The Wizard of Oz is the single most influential film ever made.

The Godfather flicks are overrated.

Any movie filmed in New Orleans is worth sitting through at least once.

Present day San Antonio has never been accurately portrayed in a major motion picture (and I’ll be damned if I can come up with even a decent TV appearance).

Many movies that take place in either New York or Los Angeles could benefit from being set elsewhere.

Tootsie - the greatest comedy ever made - is not one of them.

The stupidity of Hollywood is clearly demonstrated by its failure to properly tap Dustin Hoffman’s talents over the past 15 or so years. (Wag the Dog is the most noteworthy exception.)

Many consider the ‘70s the best decade for Hollywood films -- this is also true for pornographic films.

Theatrical productions of any nature are better with at least one intermission.

Both Barry Manilow and disco are misunderstood – but that’s all they have in common.

The Beatles were the greatest band of the 20th century. Without them, the soundscape of today would be an entirely different animal…

…which makes me think twice about how great the Beatles actually were.

The most profound idea John Lennon ever put to music was “All You Need is Love”.

His most annoying thoughts, however, can be found in the lyrics of “Imagine”.

The words “Christian” and “Rock” have no business being placed next to one another. Rock ‘n’ Roll is the Devil’s Playground and it always will be no matter how ineptly Christians try to alter that fact.

Johnny Carson will always be the King of Late Night.

Reality TV as we know it today (i.e. since Survivor) has trained viewers to appreciate ongoing storylines on scripted television series.

There’s still value in TV shows without arcing storylines, however a series with an engaging, ongoing story is typically better than most movies.

Aunt Bee was a filthy slut. (I'm sure, however, Frances Bavier was a delightful woman and a professional actress.)

The media should glamorize sex less and masturbation more.

The difference between sci-fi fans and sports fans is negligible…

…yet I am befuddled by those who are both.

The United States, Politics & Religion

The United States of America has largely become a nation of whores.

I don’t believe in the possibility of growing up in this country and not having Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup at least once.

Efficient, reliable, comfortable and cost-effective mass transportation systems are a major key to saving this country.

Age of consent laws often don’t make a whole lot of sense. (Example: Should sexual relations between an 18-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy ever be considered statutory rape?)

I do not understand why marriage is such a big issue for gay people when it doesn’t even work for most straight folk.

Gay unions should be recognized and given the same breaks -- by both employers and the government -- as straight married folk.

Either marriage or divorce should be banned entirely…I’m still not sure which one, though.

Power unquestionably corrupts; however lacking it does not necessarily make for a more righteous person.

The most vocal members of any group typically give the rest of said group a bad name.

Presidents should be able to get blowjobs when and wherever they choose with the only fear of repercussion being that of their partner.

Talking politics is far less engaging than discussing religion.

The world would be a safer place without organized religion.

The Holy Bible is a great work of art written by men (refer back to Disclaimer above).

Faith is a beautiful concept as long as the individual possessing it doesn’t expect others to be on the same train.

My faith is the belief that humanity far more often than not will do the right thing.

Given humanity’s track record, my faith is the best example of faith as a concept.

Technology & Science

Stuff like electronic equipment, computers and cars were once built to last. Disturbing is the notion that now they are built to break down. Given technological advancements, such items should be built even better, not worse.

Even more disturbing is that most people don’t seem to notice or care.

It’s a huge shame that cell phones are slowly replacing more traditional timepieces.

When the revolution comes, people wearing those stupid Bluetooth (sp?) things in their ears as if they were fashion accessories deserve to be the first ones up against the wall.

If your failed expectations of online friends hurts more than your cleaning lady's failure to properly mop your floor -- you've got big problems.

Dinosaurs are the most fascinating creatures ever to inhabit the Earth…

…which would not be the case if someone could prove the existence of mermaids.

Drugs, Alcohol & Tobacco

There’s no proof that secondhand smoke kills. It may irritate, annoy and give people headaches and/or a minor cough, but it doesn’t kill.

A bar that doesn’t allow smoking is like a bar that doesn’t serve alcohol: It’s not a bar.

People should be able to enjoy a fine meal without a nearby smoker ruining their experience…

…which doesn’t mean restaurants should outlaw smoking sections. Ask any waitress – smokers tend to be better tippers.

Tobacco is harder to kick than any other drug you can name.

The worst drugs for you are already legal.

If marijuana were legal, good quality bud would be much more difficult to come by.

The world would be a better place if everybody dosed on psilocybin mushrooms at least once in their life.

If a person is old enough to be ordered to fight or die in a war, they should also be able to legally buy alcohol.

Gin is evil.

Wine should not be served from a box.

The United States is incapable of producing any good beer.


The cause of most of humanity’s problems – no matter how big or small – is the breakdown of communication.

The more potentially embarrassing the admission or confession, the more admirable the person.

Everyone should be allowed to keep some secrets.

Women are attracted to power. This can be exploited.

Men are attracted to those who make them feel powerful. This can be exploited.

People who say they do not notice, fantasize about or fixate on anyone other than their partner are lying.

Personal dramas are created by those who don’t have enough to do.

Gays can be just as (if not more) intolerant of other forms of sexuality as straight people are often accused of being.

Human sexuality is more fluid than most people are comfortable admitting.

The only people who can ever really understand a relationship between two people are the two people in the relationship…and they’ll probably never even figure it out.

People can only give what they’re capable of giving. Your expectations of what they should give are your problem.

Black licorice – you either love it or hate it. Nobody’s on the fence.

Never trust a vegetarian…to prepare you a decent cheeseburger.

Laughter really is the best medicine.


You can read more of Ross Ruediger's deranged, incohesive thoughts at The Rued Morgue.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Why Geezers Shouldn't Vote

This evening, I went to do my civic duty in voting in the Kansas City mayoral runoff. Not only were there 2 people running for the top spot, but a number of city council runoff battles, as well as some municipal judges to be named later. Granted, I wasn't informed about the council candidates as my wife, but she works for the city. I'm at least honest to vote only in the races in which I'm informed.

Ahead of me in line was a woman less than 91 years old. She had a walker, which was fine. Age takes it out of a person. When she was signing in, she couldn't see the line to sign on. The poll workers and her daughter were encouraging her. "Keep're doing fine." Ok, so she had problems seeing, too. I get that not everyone has good or correctable vision.

The real kicker was this: As I was walking out, her daughter was reading the choices in each category. She said, "Who?" And her daughter said, "Oh, just pick one."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Edward Copeland's Manifesto

By Edward Copeland

If I wanted to, I suppose I could sit down and pound out a fully formed manifesto that would make Ted Kaczynski proud if he deigned to use a computer, but I have neither the time nor the energy for such a venture. Instead, I offer you this stream-of-consciousness list of things I believe as they come to me with no attempt at categorization.

Two things cause all car accidents: Arrogance and a lack of understand of the basic concept of physics.

Movie theater ushers should be issued stun guns to use on people who won't shut up.

Movie theaters should also use the technology available to jam all cell phones within their walls and should feel no need to tell the moviegoers about it.

If your life is so important that you can't be out of touch long enough to see a movie, why the hell are you going to one in the first place?

Only movies that were flawed to begin with should be remade.

Even if 1 out of 10 movies turned into Broadway musicals turn out well, the percentage isn't worth it.

The same goes for TV shows turned into movies.

Democrats are completely incompetent, but they usually mean well.

Republicans are just as incompetent, but they tend to be evil.

Hillary Clinton is George W. Bush with a brain in women's clothing.

That was not an endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

If you truly have a desire to run for president of the United States, you must have a serious psychological flaw.

The reason China has been allowed to become so powerful is because they are the kind of communist we like: Ones we can make money with. Who cares how they treat their people?

Our policy of engagement is an utter failure. Freezing out the Soviet Union led to their fall. Sanctions on South Africa ended apartheid. Engaging China has only put them on the path to eventual world domination.

If I ran for president, my campaign slogan would be "Fuck China."

My problems with the Bush administration can be summed up as follows: It's not about ideology, it's about incompetence.

I believe that, deep down, George H.W. Bush can't believe that this is the son of his who became president and really regrets that it happened that way.

I believe that when all of Dick Cheney's old friends comment about how much he's changed, they may be overlooking a simple answer: People who have serious heart problems and surgeries often end up having huge personality shifts. That's about the most charitable thing you'll ever hear me say about Dick Cheney.

People who use handicap stalls in public rest rooms when there are other options available deserved to be pissed on.

I believe all workplaces would benefit if everyone had Nerf bats with which they could bop idiots on the head. On the downside, there are so many idiots, nothing would ever get done.

Until Disney fires Bob Iger, I will continue my 12 year+ boycott of ABC (which is only lifted once a year for the Oscars).

I haven't shopped in a Wal-Mart since 1986 and I never will again.

I believe Bill Gates' fortune should be seized and divided among every person who has ever suffered under his products. At least when AT&T had a monopoly, the phones tended to work.

Whoever made the decision to release Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket on DVD this year only in a cropped version is insane.

I have never watched even a few seconds of "American Idol" and have no intention to start now.

Someone should really start a cable news network that covers news. I don't care about missing Boy Scouts, missing blondes, Anna Nicole Smith, anything to do with any cruise ship anywhere.

Fox News may claim to be fair and balanced, but they've never claimed to be accurate which may explain why they keep insisting on calling Al Gore an Oscar winner. Al Gore DID NOT WIN AN OSCAR. The director of An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim, won the award.

Most of the best documentaries last year weren't nominated anyway.

I truly don't understand why I even know who the hell Paris Hilton is.

Dennis Miller's best line: Whatever doesn't kill me, makes me funnier.

Dennis Miller today is Howard Beale after Ned Beatty gives him the corporate cosmology speech.

Tucker Carlson's best line: Listening to George W. Bush try to finish a sentence is like watching a drunk trying to cross an icy street.

Mark Shields' best line: Stupidity is not a victimless crime.

When the Republican presidential candidates gather for their first debate, I want one of the panelists asking questions to say, "OK — everyone who hasn't cheated on a wife, raise your hand."

Political parties may be one of the worst things ever to happen to this country. If I had the power, I'd shatter them to the winds.

I wish we had a parliamentary system where we could have votes of no-confidence, if only to send Dubya back to Crawford more quickly.

I wish I could be a professional poker player.

Sex is a swindle. Only the saw is true, the saw is family.

I believe that if you agreed to outlaw abortion but to enact a huge tax to pay for the raising and educating of the new children you'd suddenly see a lot more pro-choice Republicans.

My only problem with the death penalty is the possibility of an innocent person being executed. That being said, I think capital punishment should be expanded to include people who talk in theaters.

I respect people who are against both the death penalty and abortion more than people who are only against one or the other. I'm pro choice and pro-death penalty.

I hate that I own a cell phone.

I regret that I'm only fluent in one language.

Everyone talks about the huge salaries movie stars make, but don't you wonder how much someone like M. Emmet Walsh makes in a year?

All contests should be decided in a bracket system like NCAA basketball. That goes for the presidency, the Oscars, everything.

People who walk around with their hands constantly in their pockets make me suspicious.

Part of me dreams of a Jack Nicholson presidency, if only to see him give the State of the Union wearing sunglasses and opening with, "Here is the state of the goddamn union."

I used to be against term limits, feeling they were undemocratic, but now that I see that most people are too stupid to vote out people who need to go, I've changed my mind.

If we have a minimum age to be in the House, the Senate or the Presidency, shouldn't we have a maximum age as well? If you're well past 80, it's time to get to your porch and rock.

I'm against people telling others that it's their "civic duty" to vote. If they don't know what's going on, don't encourage them. Things get screwed up enough by the ones who vote who think they know what's going on to afford adding more ignorance to the equation.

If a time machine existed, I can never decide where I'd want to go first: to Dealey Plaza in 1963 to answer the mysteries of the JFK assassination or to be able to see Ethel Merman perform "Gypsy" on Broadway.

Actually, in the past year, I imagine the date I would choose would be far more recent than either of those.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Unintentionally Funny Comic panels

I picked this off Ace and thought it was pretty funny.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In the Realm of the Senses (1976)

by Charlie ParsleyAfter the recent examination of the samurai, I suggest to continue the study of Japanese cinema with another subject: the geisha.

Geishas are punk rock like the samurai and will pull a knife on you just as fast if you yank their chain. They have less respect for love. They are not particularly virtuous. They will say what you want to hear. They wear that mask of makeup. They have a look. I love the robes of the Japanese, oh how I would enjoy an appropriately fitted men's outfit in a formal style the fabrics are luscious and the patterns are exquisite.

Realm is all about the sexual revolution. It is of the time. And yet it is timeless, as time less as prostitution. Is prostitution an aspect of a sexual revolution? Perhaps sexual revolutions are going on all the time around us, and only a few of us notice. Only a few are bravely open and unashamed, unabashed with their notions of sexuality. A free accepting of sexuality, a comfortable understanding of it. Some may disapprove of so called promiscuous behavior. Sexual appetites vary as widely as sexual tastes. There are as many sexualities as there are people walking on the street.

The Japanese like to quietly slide the paper panels of a room to gently peer inside at the goings-on. As the walls are paper thin, it is usually no secret about what might be transpiring a few feet away. A geisha will wait
while you finish up. She is here to entertain you. she can strum a guitar and sing. She can do this sitting on a pillow and she can also do this sitting on your excitable lap. Which do you prefer? Yes thank you. please keep playing or else my wife will be suspicious.

The filmmaker has an attitude similar to the golden era of 70s pornography. The sexual situations are incorporated into the story in a non exploitative way. the characters interact in an environment with much openness and transparency, as there isn't much that truly happens behind closed doors. It isn't that the characters are particularly immoral, they are just more accepting of sex. They enjoy it. It is a part of the daily ritual.

The author concludes with a description of his favorite scene. There is a very hardcore depiction of oral sex which is both acted and photographed very well. It is enjoyable for the beauty of the characters it captures. The male reclines on a couch while the female is preoccupied with polishing his sword. He leisurely lights a cigarette and then says to her that she is a remarkable woman. A very Playboy mansion vibe, trashy but classy. The sex
scenes in the film are well done and the film as a whole is quite engaging.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The OdieNator Manifesto

Since everyone else is embroiled in the fine art of the Manifesto, I too shall throw my hat into the ring. But be warned: The Odienator Manifesto (the "OdieFesto" to its friends) discusses things one is told not to discuss in polite company: sex, religion, politics and race. Still reading? Herewith, the OdieFesto.

All About Eve, if Eve were played by the Odienator

The only one who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man.

I am the son of a preacher man.

You can get me to do almost anything by giving me a foot massage.

I aspire to the level of creative profanity executed by my mother.

I am a genius, which means I am preternaturally good at one thing.

Unfortunately, that one thing isn't fucking.


I will never vote for a Republican for President, even if Jesus were the candidate.

I voted Republican once. That candidate turned out to have a fondness for frisking innocent Black men in photo opportunities. I learned my lesson.

The Democratic Party can teach a master class on political implosion. They have practically been given Congress by a fed up American public, and they're still afraid of Fox News Network.

America is too big and too populous a country to have only two major political parties.

The one thing Republicans and Democrats have in common is that they will do or say anything to win.

Hillary Clinton's Southern accent sounds as Down South as Martha's Vineyard.

When a candidate evades a question, they believe the unpopular answer and don't want to tell us.

Americans says they are ready for a female or a Black president. America is lying.

Ted Kennedy has a deal with the Devil.

So does Dick Cheney.

Disagree with the president before W and you're a hero. Disagree with W and you're anti-American, anti-troops and should be tried for treason.

I disagree with the President.

I think the children of politicians, including a President, should be forced to serve in any war their parents declared.

Not every country wants democracy.

De Lawd and other Religious Stuff

I was raised Baptist, which means I'm supposed to care about your soul and try to help you live righteously.

I don't give a fuck about your soul. I want company in Hell.

God exists, but not the way all these religions tell us.

When we're born, we are given one gift from God. We are also given one gift from the Devil. The key is to figure out which one is which. Free will is the means to choose which gift you use.

God loves gay people. God hates hypocrites and people who use His name to further their agenda. He will put lightning in their assholes.

When Jesus comes back, the first place He's going is to the televangelists. "Where's all that money you raised for me?" He will ask.

Atheists try just as hard to convert Christians as Christians try to convert non-Christians. The atheists are just as snide and self-righteous as Christians when they try.

Hell is going to be crowded. Heaven will have six people in it.

Church never makes Heaven sound cool. The streets are paved with gold, but those in Heaven have no need for riches. You'll worship de Lawd all day and all night, and there's no sex. It sounds like the Bible Belt. Hell, on the other hand, is all fire and brimstone and burning, with a different torture every day. At least it's spontaneous.

God is too busy to tell George W. Bush what to do. God is too busy to tell anyone what to do. This is why He invented free will. It freed up His time for golf.

Religion is the lottery of the impoverished.

When the Virgin Mary appears on a grilled cheese sandwich, you know Heaven needs a better F/X budget. Things should get flashier when George Lucas drops dead. He'll bring ILM up there.

People always think miracles are these grandiose spectacles. While big miracles do happen, most miracles can be found in small gestures. So please look for little miracles, and be thankful for them. Remember, Heaven's F/X budget sucks ass.

The Telly

Fox News Network is a bed of hate speech, homophobia and dunderheaded commentators.

CNN isn't much better.

There are 24 hours in a day, but Black Entertainment Television (BET) can't find anything that is uplifting to Blacks, educational or of worth to put on.

I liked it better when there were just 3 networks.

Angela Lansbury was killing all those people on Murder, She Wrote.

Reality TV, in addition to proving Paddy Chayevsky right, is the first sign of the Apocalypse.

The Geico Gekko is the most annoying spokesperson in history.

Turner Classic Movies is the greatest channel ever created.

Most TV newscasts are made up of a male and a female anchor person who are fucking each other.

Men, Women, and Ess-E-Ex

Men don't know what women want.

Neither do women.

A woman will love you with her heart and soul, but if you turn that heart black, a woman will do her best to destroy you.

Everyone should know what it's like to kiss someone of their gender.

Every homophobe secretly wants to have gay sex. Their biggest fear is that they'll enjoy it.

Which they will.

A man will tell you any information you want if you ask him right before he ejaculates.

Bi-sexuals are greedy. Lucky, but greedy nonetheless.

Multiply by three the number of sex partners a woman claims she has had.

Divide by three the number of sex partners a man claims he has had.

Do the same with the number of inches he tells you his erection is.

My erection is 25.5 inches long.

Any sexual thing that is done between consenting adults is fair game. The operative words are CONSENTING ADULTS.

Pedophiles should be put to death.

If you have to call your child's father "my baby daddy," you're a slut.

The only difference between a slut and a stud is the double standard.

Waiting until marriage to have sex results in very unsatisfied wives.

I'll support banning abortion when the government stops pumping millions into bullshit abstinence only sex ed programs.

If gay people want to be as miserable as straight people, then they should be allowed to marry.

If they do pass gay marriage, any church has the right to refuse to perform the ceremony. I got married at City Hall. If it's good enough for me, it's good enough for gay people.

Physics tells us for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, if religious therapy can turn gay people into straight people, there must be a therapy that does turns straight people gay. And no, it's not called "mothers."

A woman can be seduced by carefully selected words. Show a guy a tit or an elbow and he's ready to go.

Women, stop referring to men as dogs. Since you are the female of this species of dogs, you are implicitly calling yourselves bitches.

Every war, every fight, every stupid decision in this world stems from men worrying about whose dick is bigger.

It's OK to look to find out.

Race and Sounds of Blackness

"You speak so well" is not a compliment. It is a slight poorly disguised as a compliment.

The next person who tells me I speak so well is going to learn that I cuss even better.

Unless you're a minority, you have no clue what it is like to be one.

Any company in existence today that made money off slaves should pay reparations, starting with the cotton and tobacco industries.

Auctions scare the hell out of Black people.

So does the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Being called the n-word feels much differently when a Black person does it to me than when a White person does.

I still don't like it either way.

I hate watermelon, and I sincerely believe the only reason I do is because it's a stereotype.

There is positivity in rap, but since it doesn't sell records, our faces are rubbed in the negativity.

Lou Reed and Johnny Cash are both great White rappers. Vanilla Ice and Rex Harrison are not.

Rap music's biggest consumer group is suburban White kids who believe all Black people are like Jay-Z, Biggie and 'Pac, and who secretly long to have dap in the ghetto. These kids wouldn't last five seconds in the neighborhood where I grew up.

I envy my parents' generation. They had such great Black leaders like Dr. King and Malcolm X.

The Black youth of today needs to be reminded that people died so they can have the freedoms they do.

A person of any race should be free to marry/screw/fall in love with a person of any other race, just as one should be allowed to have a preference for doing the same solely with one's own race.

Dope and other things that kill you

All drugs should be legal.

But if you're caught doing something illegal under the influence, they should jail you as if drugs were still illegal.

I should be allowed to destroy myself with trans fat.

Whoever convinced Frito Lay to start frying potato chips with sunflower oil should be shot.

Never trust a vegetarian.

It's OK for you to smoke in my presence only if it's OK for me to masturbate in yours. You gotta support your habit, I have to support mine.

....and all that Jazz

Bob Fosse is a genius.

I'm anti-fur. I'm also anti-PETA.

"Love Will Keep Us Together" by the Captain and Tenille is the catchiest bad song ever written.

Every manifesto should have a swipe at prior manifesti.

Kylie Minogue is an agent of Satan. She is super-hot because she is from Hell.

The use of an excessively learned vocabulary makes one look like a dork, and will guarantee he will not get any pussy.

Jeffrey should do a manifesto. We have shown him ours; we demand to see his.

Arts majors are evil and must be destroyed.

The only thing I learned in college is how to write programming code. This has made me a lot of money.

The only thing I learned in high school is that everyone thought I was gay. The guy they thought was Mr. Macho actually turned out to be the gay guy in my class.

Alcohol is a poor excuse for sleeping with anybody.

Yoko Ono music should only be used in torture situations. Same thing with Bjork.

Mel Gibson is crazy as shit. But I still love the first Lethal Weapon.

I always root for the bull at the rodeo. I even have a sign that says Bull 3:16 on it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Transition post

I must admit to the Liverputty reader that I am somewhat rudderless since Samurai Month ended. The Liverputty staff thought long and hard about following it up with Yakuza Month, but being a lesser genre than samurai films, we felt we would risk boring the uninterested reader. We sought advice from our resident advice columnist, but he was nowhere to be found. If it will not interfere with Liverputty's bottom line and we won't be risking the loss of any sponsors if we proceed, Liverputty will very likely drift in that direction.

But it hasn't yet. And until then, we are grateful that long lost contributor, Dude, resparked an interest in personal manifestos, which led to EscutcheonBlot to provide his and is currently provoking Odienator to provide his, as well. Although I have no plans to introduce a manifesto of my own, I will offer a couple of comments on some fairly recent events:

Mayan priests: are now apparently morons. As near as I can figure, they've got one chief function and that is to spot evil and cleanse it. Well, they botched that. I don't think they'd know evil if it marched right up, bitch slapped them in the face and then nationalized all their assets. I hereby dissolve my membership at the Midwest City Mayan Community Temple.

300: is not a film I will likely be seeing. My resistance to it does not stem from the political arguments or through historical accuracy issues, but because of the cinematography. When I choose to see a film about Greeks, it's going to have bright blue Mediterranean skies and majestic blue Mediterranean waters. Nothing against the graphic novel, by I wish filmmakers would save the dreary gray skies for the Persian invasion of Buffalo.

Epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health: are about as incompetent as the Mayan priests above mentioned. Their report in October that estimated 650,000 have died in Iraq since the invasion was so ludicrous that only a highly educated "scientist" would believe it. If the students of these epidemiologists are not heckling these goofs every minute of every class period then they are not doing their duty as civilized beings. No doubt, the figure of 650K will persist for ages to come.

Bollywood: I am so glad to hear that Akshaye Khanna is finally coming out of his shell! And that Ram Gopal Varma is growing up. But sad that Aishwarya Rai is getting hitched.

China's Firewall: will attack the security issues of the Internet at its source - the spread of information.

Japan and Australia: continue to warm my heart. Abe hasn't got his footing yet and is certainly not as popular as Koizumi, but he's continuing these types of efforts. John Howard is simply the coolest world leader out there. The line in the article that got me was from the Chinese Foreign Minister: "...The modernization of our [China's] armed forces is defensive in nature." So, you see, there's no need for Australia and Japan to make any pacts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Car burning in China

I prefer the spicy cured aromas of a Hunan style car burning over the more foul sour stench of a French/Radical Islamic blend. It tends to clear the sinuses without affronting the tastebuds. But only nine police cars? That's hardly enough to satisfy 20,000 hungry farmers.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Manifesti a Poppin'--or--The Blot Manifesto

As the season of Manifesti seems to be upon us, I thought I would throw my cap into the ring.

Fools, like Polonius' "neither a borrower nor a lender be; to thine own self be true, etc" often have wise things to say.

They are still fools.

The only truly useful thing I learned in High School was how to type.

The only useful thing I learned in Graduate School was how to keep my mouth shut.

I forgot this soon afterwards.

Life begins at Conception.

Outlawing all abortion is a practical and moral impossibilty.

If post-menopausal women and sterile men can get married, then gays and lesbians should be able to as well. Read the the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

America is the greatest country on earth. However, we don't get everything right, and can still learn from others.

God exists, but everything else is open to debate.

The second Amendment secures all the others.

I hate guns.

To willingly obey an unjust law is to actively participate in injustice.

By voting, you agree to abide by the results, whatever they may be.

Mozart, J.S. Bach, and Beethoven are all overrated.

Purcell, Vaughn Williams, Haydn, and Byrd are conversely underrated.

Creating art requires more than an expression of "feelings" have to know what the hell you're doing and why.

Picasso, Dali, Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Da Vinci(as a painter), and Leichtenstein are all waaaaay overrated.

Manet, Caravaggio, Titian, Pollack, Homer, Braque, and Feininger are all underrated...but not waaaay so, except maybe Feininger.

Acting as an art is achieved by very a craft however, it is eminently learnable by a person with a normal intelligence and healthy emotional range.

Pity Keanu Reeves.

Comedy is harder than drama.

The theater world is full of betrayal and lies...a large portion of which cannot be attributed to anything but good intentions unfulfilled.

Saying you're going to do something is not the same as doing it.

Knowing is not half the is only about 15 percent.

Nowadays, to be a successful graphic artist one need merely know how to talk convincingly about it.

The use of an excessively learned vocabulary makes one physically irresistible to young people of both sexes.

A self-deluding narcissism is the destroyer of dreams.

It is not necessary to read impressive books to gain the admiration of others. Merely buy them and carry them around, advancing an obviously large bookmark 50-100 pages a day. Slower makes you look plodding, and faster...shallow.

Doing something very well is no guarantee of success. People have to actually want you to do it.

Staying very slender past youth is only possible for those blessed with a high metabolism, or for the self-absorbed. (I'm 36, 5'11", and 155 lbs, and have a slow do the math).

Self-absorbtion is vital to the success of an artist.

Self-justification is the first refuge of a scoundrel.

Charles Dickens is much better than Americans credit him.

Mark Twain isn't.

Jane Austen is better than either one.

Reality TV's everyman gladiatorial combats merely serve to highlight the similarities between the decay of modern Western Civilization and that of the Romans. That, and the dearth of writing talent in Hollywood.

The Simpsons is still the cleverest half-hour on TV. Sadly.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is crap.

Dolly Parton is a national treasure.

The wrong Bush won in 1994.

Pat Buchanan is often right. He's still an insufferable jerk and anti-semite.

Dick Morris is almost never right.

Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and John Edwards are all lightweights.

G W Bush is smarter than it is now fashionable to admit; that is still way dumber than his brother, however.

Hillary is not nearly as smart as Bill, but thinks she's a lot smarter.

Fake southern accents should be punishable by 30 days in the county jail...where real southern accents will probably be heard.

Thames or Estuary Sludge, or Cockney English are not classy or sophisticated, and it is infuriating when non-British, especially American, teenagers find them so.

Cruelty should not be mistaken for Wit.

Tourists learn very little about the countries they visit, other than what they look like.

Port wine is a necessary indulgence.

One should never, ever sleep with a colleague...unless they're really hot.

Sow your wild oats in your teens and early twenties. It looks ridiculous when you're over 35.

Meat and Fat are good for you; butter, butter, butter!

Vegetarianism leads to illogical thought.

Atheism is as much a belief as any other...and just as impossible to prove.

The ability to read music should be considered a basic and fundamental part of a child's education.

Outcomes-Based Education is Indoctrination.

History is being constantly, and often dishonestly, rewritten.

A personal manifesto should always include a swipe its immediate predecessor.

There is nothing further to be learned from Kylie Minogue.

Brittany Spears is not a particulary attractive bald person.

Good Science Fiction should be taken more seriously than it is.

Being considered an intellectual doesn't make you one.

Considering yourself an intellectual almost always precludes the possibility of being one.

I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not nearly as smart as I think I am.

Self-deprecation is a great way to wrong-foot personal foes. But, be careful not to give them too much ammo.

The English don't speak English nearly as well as the English think they speak English.

I prefer to have second-rate originals on my walls to first-rate prints.

The aggregate intelligence of the world has stayed the same for the past 250 years, but is being shared by more and more people.

Audiences, taken en masse, are more often right than are critics.

A fancy hotel room is a poor substitute for your own home, however modest.

Manifesti are an enormous, self-indulgent waste of time.

Exceptions to this rule include your own, those of your friends, and those with which you wholeheartedly concur(this last category is chimerical).

LP's have a warmer and sweeter sound than CD's.

The answers to most of life's problems would be obvious (and more exciting) if we were all rich, dumb, living in a Wodehousian England, and posessed of a gentleman's gentleman named Jeeves.

Yours in perpetuity(or until I find something better to do),

Escutcheon Blot

Friday, March 09, 2007

Samurai Rebellion (1967)

“During the powerful Tokugawa regime in Edo, there were 264 lords or daimyo. These feudal lords ruled their clan and the people under them. This story took place in one of these clans in 1725.”

Translation: this infuriating story of injustice is but one little story. The act of defiance displayed herein will be swallowed up in the middle of the Tokugawa regime.

Masaki Kobayashi knows how to film architecture. On the flip side, Japanese architecture knows how to be filmed. I’m unaware of a more photogenic domestic atmosphere than the historic Japanese home. Read most reviews for this movie and you will undoubtedly hear about how Kobayashi provides an onslaught of images that reflect the strict social structure that is the setting for this untidy human story. And yet it cannot be said enough: Samurai Rebellion is visually stunning. It is brimming with shots of pristinely manicured rock gardens and precisely organized homes – thin metaphors for the hierarchal structures and codes that define the lives of their inhabitants. The characters are full of passions – honor, love, loyalty, desire, greed – such fullness plays well within the austerely defined environment. When the physical surroundings and rigid codes intersect with the more emotional side of the characters, things happen: a footprint scars the carefully raked pebbles, a woman is discharged from the castle, a clan is threatened, bonds are broken. And then things get ugly. Somewhere in it all, an improbable love sprouts, trying to take root among the raked courtyards and clan loyalty.

In a complex nutshell: Isaburo Sasahara (Toshiro Mifune) is the head of the Sasahara family and a vassal under Lord Matsudaira (Tatsuo Matsumura). He is on the verge of retiring and making his son the head of the family, but first would like to find a good wife for him. Lord Matsudaira is a real selfish piece of shit. Through his super intendant (who, incidentally, resembles Mr. Burns), he forces a young woman, Ichi (Yôko Tsukasa), to bear him a son. She thinks he’s a disgusting worm, but does it anyway, believing she might spare other girls from the same fate. Once she gives Matsudaira an heir (his second), he moves on to other concubines. Realizing she can never spare other girls the horror of this old man, she resorts to violence and he sends her out of the castle. Matsudaira pressures Isaburo to accept an arranged marriage between his son, Yogoro (Takeshi Katô), and the uncontrollable Ichi. Isaburo does his best to deflect the offer, but is forced to accept it. As it happens, the two make it a happy marriage and it really warms the heart of Isaburo to see his son with such a dutiful wife. His own marriage was arranged, just as Yogoro's, but it was completely void of love. By seeing the happiness between Yogoro and Ichi, Isaburo experiences a new lease on life, no doubt enhanced when Ichi gives birth to a daughter. Lord Matsudaira’s firstborn dies and Ichi’s son becomes the first in line. Matsudaira, following clan rules, asks for Ichi to be returned. That Ichi and Yogoro now have a daughter is of no concern to Matsudaira and though his request is to return her voluntarily, it is clear that a threat of force is not far behind it. Isaburo, Yogoro, and Ichi fret over the prospects. Their decision, of course, will set them at odds with the ruling house, not to mention the rest of the Sasahara family, including Isaburo's wife, that would prefer staying in Lord Matsudaira's favor over the prospect of utter destruction.

The story intensifies when Yogoro's younger brother, Bunzo (Tatsuyoshi Ehara), tricks Ichi into returning to the castle. After discussing matters with Matsudaira's super intendent, she is allowed to leave the castle if both Yogoro and Isaburo will commit seppuku. Obviously, the laws and customs - the requirements of submission - were not working, not on the human level, at least. Each character seems to face a challenge or variety of challenges between the letter of the law and spirit of the code and his or her personal aspirations and desires.

But the problems do not rest solely on The Sasaharas. Lord Matsudaira shoulders a burden, too. The daimyo rules require that the mother of an heir apparent cannot reside in a vassal’s house. Yet, she is married to one of his vassals. If he takes Ichi from his vassal, it could easily outrage the shogunate or the other daimyo – and yet, he cannot afford the insubordination of one of his vassals. Add pride into the mix and do not be surprised when the raked pebbles are soaked in blood.

The film focuses on Isaburo. He is one of Lord Matsudaira's chief retainers, his escort. In the opening of the film, Kobayashi shows us that Isaburo has long since curbed his pride and ambition in order to benefit his estate (ie - fief and family) and serve the Suwa Domain. He has been a henpecked husband for 30 years, knows a thing or two about dealing with the daimyo and his other vassals and, despite it all, is a pretty good-natured, well-meaning creature. He is both prudent and patient. He wants happiness for his son and is very reluctant to accept the arranged marriage - reminding him, as it does, of his own life. But he accepts it. It is isn't until his family is forced to return the bride that he soundly rejects the daimyo's authority.

When Matsudaira is waiting for an answer to an ultimatum (for Isaburo and Yogoro to accept the fate of Ichi), he and his advisers are certain that Yogoro will finally consent to his demands. "Since it would have come to this anyway," he says to his advisers, "how dare they cause all that fuss! Yogoro was wrong, but Isaburo was insolent as well." Thus, we see how the lord views the issue. Yet, Matsudaira realizes some magnitude of the sacrifice he is asking his vassal to bear and decides that upon Yogoro's reply he will increase his fief.

Yogoro arrives and hands a reply, written by Isaburo, to the smiling lord. That smile quickly vanishes. [spoilers here on out] Isaburo and Yogoro decide to throw caution and their family to the wind in a gamble that winds up in near entire annihilation. Yet, by the end of the film, who could begrudge his decision? At no point does Isaburo, who has been prudent and wise, question his decision once he and Yogoro have set their course: not when Ichi dies, not when Yogoro dies, not when he is dying. His entire focus seems to be on the future - though he is well aware of the probable result. Given the un-winnable circumstance, one cannot help but feel that Isaburo's defiance, self-destructive as it is, was nevertheless worth it.

Kobayashi has an anti-authority streak in his work that is often expressed through the prism of the autocratic Tokugawa period. Samurai Rebellion fits right in with the more highly touted Harakiri in that respect. What makes Samurai Rebellion more satisfying over Harakiri, to me, is that while Harakiri is strictly a revenge tale, the dissent in Samurai Rebellion is aimed at achieving happiness - despite the fact that it ends in annihilation.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Un-useful Idiots

by Escutcheon BlotFirst of all, let me apologize for my long silence...or to some of my beloved readers, for my renewed non-silence.

I have been reading the news from afar over the last few months, and am generally peeved or amused in turn; rarely, however, am I pleasantly surprised.

Ann Coulter:

I must admit, I've never liked Miss Coulter, since I first became aware of her in the 2000 election cycle. And I know that condemnation, criticism and support of her has been done to death, but I just had to add my two Euro-cents-worth. First of all, she, like with John Kerry and the troops, meant what she said. Yes, Virginia, the implication was that John Edwards was, is, and ever will be...a pillow-biter. I will admit that he is a pretentious, tendentious, social-climbing, demagogic, ambulance-chasing, self-righteous, blow-dried lightweight. far as anyone knows...not that way. Actually, I have never understood why anyone not interested in a date of the physical nature with said target of homophish speculation asks this question. I was also guilty of this cheap ad hominism earlier in life, but that sort of thing really be chucked along with all the other sophomoric excesses of one's late teen years.

It is rather startling, don't you think, the similarities between Miss Coulter herself, and her stereotyped targets of scorn (leaving JE aside)? Let's see: Over 40, single, bitter, mean, preternaturally thin, and posessed of hair with a blondness of...shall we say...dubious provenance.

Intellectuals totally lacking in Intellect

Al Gore and Prince Charles

One wants us, the middle-class, to live in Medieval Conditions while he, wealthy and priviliged, uses 20 times the amount of energy of the typical American family (nearly 50 times the energy use of the Blot Household last year), and buys indulgences from the new Church of Gaia in the form of 'carbon credits'. Apparently, the Goracle's carbon use is so enormous that he is affecting global warming on Mars (see National Geographic)

The other wants to ban fast food so that we can all stay at home spending hours a day, not earning money to pay taxes, but rather, preparing home cooked meals. Okay if you've a staff of 50, but not if you're living on, say, 50,000 a year. $ or Euros. Meanwhile he continues to live off the taxpayers of some other it's not so bad.

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama:

One changes the substance of his opinions every 3 minutes to win over the latest voter grouping, and the other hopes his considerable style will completely occlude the extremism of his views and the utter lack of a resume.

In their defense, neither should be asked to defend the actions of long-dead ancestors. However, Al Sharpton should be held personally accountable for the actions of kissin' cousin Strom he so publicly and self-congratulatorily took the possible blood connection to heart.

And, while we're on the subject of trans-islamic extremism(maladriot comic misdirection, EB), read Brit author Peter Hamilton's two part space-opera, Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained for his somewhat allegorial solution to the problem of Islamic Expansionism and intolerance. And he's a cracking good writer. While you're at it, look at his Night's Dawn Trilogy. He's one of the most creative writers in any genre today, and perhaps the most literary of the sci-fi writers I've ever read. And, at an average of 800 pages each...4,000 or so pages of sheer, blood-drenched, google-eyed fun., I don't mean Gary Bauer.

That's all.

Yours, scatter-shottedly,


Monday, March 05, 2007

Samurai month concludes...

...but the training - discovering the "way" while watching piles upon piles of samurai films - will go on. It's been a good month for movies. The staff feels that it has watched great film after great film here in the Liverputty screening room. The pity is that more could not be included in this month's coverage. The glaring omission: only one Kurosawa film was covered. The absence of Mizuguchi's The 47 Ronin and Inagaki's Chushingura was intentional as they will be dealt with in the near future. Also, there was nothing post 1980 - meaning no late Kurosawa, no remake of Zatoichi, and no Twilight Samurai. All reasons that Liverputty should budget another samurai month sometime soon - perhaps we could pencil it in between yakuza week in early April and Familial Piety month in late May. Oh well, future plans are for later. Now is the time to reflect on what we have seen. And what has it taught us?

We learned that Hanzo, the Razor gets an erection when he's in pain. Such is the bushido way.

We learned that the Secret Brotherhood of Asian Cineastes have a plot to besmirch the excellent work of Hiroshi Inagaki. They won't get away with it. Liverputty International will work to expose this secret brotherhood and put a stop to their snobbish ways. Already, we've learned how to identify members of this brotherhood: we know that they dress in black ninja outfits and stay about as far away from women as humanly possible - except for the stray female member within their ranks. We know they reveal themselves when they say "manga."

We learned that a katana can slice through a light-saber.

We learned that when a man with a wooden oar meets a man with a nodachi, the man with the nadachi will be a dead man.

We learned that the Toho logo is a mark of excellence.

We learned that the vacant stare of Tatsuya Nakadai can mean passionate revenge for a horrible occurance, righting a wrong for as a way to redemption, or killing for the sheer relaxation of it.

We learned that the Japanese in the 1970s must have suffered tremendously from high blood pressure given the amount of geysers in Lady Snowblood and Love Wolf & Cub.

We know that Akira Kurosawa is a towering world cimema figure. We learned that there are other major top tier directors making samurai films, too.

We learned that samurai films have more maps, per frame, than any other genre except perhaps war documentaries.

We've learned that Mount Fuji and Toshiro Mifune are the greatest peaks in Japanese cinema. Though that latter has a greater range. Seriously, his range is great - just with playing samurai - not to mention the other half of his career. Only a small handful of other stars compare.

We learned that Asaoka Ruriko is always adorable.

We learned that Japanese films like strategy. They talk about it in the dialogue. They show it on the screen. They integrate it into the story.

Japanese films also like to provide contextual information.

Noh and kabuki are so visually curious that it is impossible not to film them if they are anywhere close to the story.

Quite likely, we will have other samurai movies featured on the site, even though the janitors are still cleaning up after this party. The future entries will find a place on the sidebar along side their bushi brethren.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Dude Abides: Another Liverputty Manifesto

Wagstaff posted his manifesto some time back, so I figured I ought to stake out my philosophical ground.

Never trust people who refer to themselves in the third person.

Results matter.

I believe Finknottle has the answers to all my questions, if only I knew how to phrase them.

You can’t say reducing dependency on foreign oil is important, but oppose drilling on domestic soil. Likewise, you can’t make the same statement and ignore funding renewable energy research.

Everyone should move away from their home state for at least part of their early adult life.

If we applied the same policy of engagement with China to Cuba, Fidel and his brother would be over within 18 months.

People have great capacity for change; however, they are not predisposed to it.

I consider myself more closely aligned with the crazy libertarian bastards than with the Democrats.

Supply-side economics is bunk, given that consumer demand accounts for 2/3 of the economy.

Be honest with yourself.

The best thing the government can do to support Americans whose jobs are shipped overseas is to make education more affordable. Our best response to competing with India and China for jobs is to be more flexible and more innovative.

I believe alcoholism is not an excuse for loutish behavior.

Ice-T was the voice of Freedom Williams on C&C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat.”

Never say “I love you” if you don’t mean it.

William Shatner is a good example of living well.

The Army is a great place to learn, if you’re fortunate enough to survive.

There are 2 causes for what is considered evil: 1) natural catastrophes, such as tsunamis and tornadoes, which are just a matter of how the world functions 2) free will. The things that people do to each other, and especially children, are a tremendous price to pay for free will. I try not to think too much about whether the good really outweighs the bad.

The Rolling Stones are a better band than the Beatles. Yes, yes, John and Paul are better songwriters, but all around, the Stones are a better overall band.

Life is easier when reason is your guide; unfortunately, you still have to deal with everyone else.

The Fairness Doctrine should be restored by the FCC.

The only way for Hunter S. Thompson to go was suicide.

If those who blocked abortion clinics, harassed abortion providers, and displayed larger-than-life posters of mangled fetuses in front of toy stores put their time and energy into promoting adoption, they would be more effective in eliminating abortions.

Keith Richards must know something about longevity.

Presidential debates should be open to any candidate who can get on the ballot in a majority of states. The candidates should not get the questions in advance.

James Brown was really the Godfather of Funk, not the Godfather of Soul.

I believe that being outwardly religious does not necessarily correlate to being a moral person.

I believe that most companies have lost touch with their customers.

David Lee Roth’s Van Halen was powered by lust; Sammy Hagar’s by romantic love. Both were undone by Eddie’s ego.

This country would be in much better shape if more people were parents to their children. Encouraging that is not the role of the federal government.

I believe the private sector is more efficient than the government at most things. However, it could not have taken on creating the Interstate system.

All great rock and roll bands have an asshole for a front man – see Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Van Halen.

Hosni Mubarak occupying the number 1 and number 2 spots in Egypt for 35 years has been bad for that country.

Eventually, everyone’s chickens come home to roost.

I believe that the person who is willing to do the things it takes to become president is not someone who can be a great president.

A single parent can be successful in raising children, but households with two loving parents, regardless of their gender, have an easier time of it.

Colin Powell should have quit before addressing the U.N.

People say that America is too litigious; however, it’s clear the government is not concerned with protecting consumers.

The only people that care about the Palestinians are the Palestinians. Surrounding Arab nations only use them as a negotiating chip when dealing with Israel.

I have great respect for those that live true to their faith.

For all the talk about what the President should or should not do to shore up the economy, the reality is, the American economy is big enough that only drastic measures could have significant impact on it (usually negative).

I believe that there are, indeed, more things on Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies.

Putin is a thug.

High school students should be required to take one year of a personal finance class.

Election day should be a national holiday.

The Police should really stop re-uniting.

Americans deserve a 20-year moratorium on Bushes & Clintons.

I am astonished at the resiliency of the American economy.

Cheez-Its and Fitz’s Root Beer are a little bit of Heaven on Earth.

I know Social Security will not be a part of my retirement.

I believe that photographs have tremendous power.

There are still more things for us to learn from Kylie Minogue.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sword of Doom (1966)

Shark eyed killer: "Mountain winds. They rise up from deep in the valleys, blowing up the young green leaves. Beyond, all you see are endless mountain ranges that fade far away into the clouds."
Wide-eyed damsel: I saw such a scene once at Daibosatsu Pass.
Shark-eyed killer: Daibosatsu Pass?
Wide-eyed damsel: Do you know the pass?
Shark-eyed killer: Very well.
This man is a real cold murdering son of bitch! His name is Ryunosuke Tsukue and he is ably played by Tatsuya Nakadai. He is a young master at a fencing school and has such a peculiar style of swordsmanship that even his own father, a man of some standing at the same dojo, cannot completely understand it. He is a passive fencer - one who fools his opponent into attacking, but then seizes the opponent's temporary vulnerability and cruelly exploits it. He likes to kill. He's crazy about it. He needs to kill. We will refer to him as the Shark-eyed killer.

What does the world look like in the mind of Shark-eyed Killer?

Well, for starters, he lacks compassion. During one of his “leisurely” strolls up toDaibosatsu Pass, he finds an old pilgrim praying at a shrine, asking Buddha to let him die so that he is not a burden on his young daughter, Omatsu (Yôko Naito, aka Wide-eyed damsel). That’s all the provocation Shark-eyed Killer needs to swing into action. He is a proactive angel of death that is willing to answer the Merciful Buddha’s help line. Killing is a method of relaxation for Shark-eyed Killer.

He answers only to his own appetites. He had a match lined up against Bunnojo Utsuki – a man who, alongside Shark-eyed Killer, had been a student of Instructor Henmi – before Henmi expelled Shark-eyed Killer. Shark-eyed Killer’s father urged him to throw the match because it would be no dishonor for an expelled student to lose but if Bunnojo Utsuki were to lose, then he would no longer be the successor at Kogen Ittoryu school. Basically, it would be bad for everyone if Shark-eyed Killer won the match. But Shark-eyed Killer could care less.

When Bunnojo’s wife, Ohama, pays Shark-eyed Killer a call, he only agrees to throw the match after she forsakes her chastity. That agreement is apparently nullified when Bunnojo finds out and brings a passionate grudge to the match. The judge, upon realizing it is no longer a match, but a duel, calls it off, but Bunnojo tries an illegal tsuki thrust. Shark-eyed Killer parries and scores a fatal blow to the head. That earns him no friends at the dojo and essentially forces him to leave the town. Shark-eyed Killer could care less.The widowed Ohama tags along – though Shark-eyed Killer feels nor shows any pity for her and would simply walk away forever, except that she persistantly follows him. In peculiar Japanese fashion, she clings to the man who killed her husband because she, quite frankly, has nowhere else to go. The Princess Yufu did a similar thing in Samurai Banners when she became the concubine of the man that murdered her father. At first Ohama is resentful, but through the passage of time a pragmatic devotion/dependence develops. That doesn't quite happen in Sword of Doom, when Ohama's hatred toward Shark-eyed Killer sparks a fight that causes him to roll his dead eyes back and do what comes naturally.

He likes to do what comes naturally to him. If you had a relative in Japan that was killed around 1860-63, it is pretty likely that Shark-eyed Killer was the culprit. Such is the body count in this film.

Shark-eyed Killer goes to Edo and becomes an assassin. His travels take him by the dojo of Toranosuke Shimada (Toshiro Mifune). Shark-eyed Killer asks to become a pupil. Shimada responds that there are rules regarding strangers seeking instruction. He must face one of the students. Shark-eyed Killer asks to fight the man he over-heard a moment ago make the excellent doh attack.

“You can tell a doh attack just by listening?” Shimada says in a surprised voice.

As it happens, the man is Hyoma Utsuki, the younger brother to Bunnojo (the fellow that got divorced and killed on the same day). As the two square off, Shimada senses this is no ordinary fencer. He watches closely and is quick to end that match after the first blow. Hyoma protests, but Shimada says the stranger won with a kote attack.

Yet, he still refuses to instruct Shark-eyed Killer, who then challenges Shimada. But Shimada brushes off the request, saying slyly “I’m not good at doh attacks.”

Hyoma Utsuki is destined to avenge his brother, though he is simply no match for Shark-eyed Killer. He gets some sage advice from Shimada who tells the young fencer there is no way he can defeat Shark-eyed Killer. He tells Hyoma to stay in the dojo and practice the one move that will defeat Shark-eyed Killer: the tsuki thrust.

“Your brother probably tried it against him, too. But if it is done poorly, he'll turn it against you in one final blow. From now on, work only on how the tsuki thrust can defeat him.”

Shark-eyed Killer, though, will not be deprived from seeing Shimada’s skill. On a snowy night, later in the story, the assassin gang that Shark-eyed Killer is with mistakenly follows Shimada’s palanquin and tries to assassinate him, thinking it was somebody else. Shark-eyed Killer witnesses Shimada’s skill and is left trembling and speechless. Shocked, like a Great White that has been punched in the nose. Thus, it is possible to spook Shark-eyed Killer, but only if you are Toshiro Mifune.

Shimada’s no fool, and realizes that after his display, Shark-eyed Killer is doubting his own skill.

The film goes on to a curious non-conclusion conclusion. The story was based on a serialized novel by Kaizan Nakazato which started in 1913 and ran several decades. Evidentally Toho planned on following it up with subsequent films but those never materialized. As with Musashi and the 47 Ronin, this story has been made countless times, including a two film set by Inagaki in 1936. The bizarre finale in this version, ending in mid-slaughter, is really the most memorable thing about the picture, which is saying a lot as it has an excellent cast and is stylishly composed and directed by Kihachi Okamoto.Seriously, it seems that every shot would make a distinguished still photo. There is a lot of variation going on visually. When Shark-eyed Killer beds Utsugi's wife in the mill, Okamoto makes sure that the pounding mill hammers are in almost every frame, to the point of absurdity. Later, when Shark-eyed Killer is leaving the town after killing Utsugi, Okamoto films the forest so soft that you'd expect to come across some players doing A Midsummer Night's Dream. You don't of course. Instead you follow Shark-eyed Killer down the forest path - one of his leisurely walks, you might say - where he takes out dozens of men in a veritable gauntlet of relaxation. After the last man collapses, Okamoto's camera closes in on Shark-eyed Killer's face and we see what really gives him ecstacy - Hans Beckert style.Okamoto films the sword fight with Mifune's character, Shinada, in a completely different manner. First, the setting is no longer a misty forest scene, but a heavy snow - exaggerated by the use of zoom lenses. Shinada does not wallow in the pleasures of killing. Rather, he fights heroically. Okamoto's camera is therefore more direct and frantic (though the camera itself is not jerky). He films Shinada running back and forth, in the middle of the gang of assassins, methodically taking the men out with an awesome sense of command. At the end of the fight, far from showing Shinada having a satisfied orgasmic countenance, he is angry that he was forced to kill against his will. Shark-eyed Killer is deadly as hell, but he is not a magnificent man like Shinada.The final sequence becomes stagey and abstract. What starts out as a psychotic nightmare, in which shadows of Shark-eyed Killer's victims haunt him, next turns into an existential slaughter when Shark-eyed Killer (whom we should now simply call Batshit Crazy) starts lashing out at all the men trying to stop the mad man. It seems to go on forever. Just when you think Shark-eyed Killer might collapse and die... when he is using his katana as a find that he suddenly killed three more men. Until, the end.This film is bracing in its violence. There is some blood, though nothing like the geysers in later samurai pictures. The attitude of the main character is the real disturbing aspect - but that does not translate into the attitude of the picture. Shinada is a counter-balance to the soulless existence of Shark-eyed Killer, though, not having read the story, I am not sure how his character would have played out in subsequent films. This is not a film for everyone and does not have the carthartic release of other samurai films (and if you think it does, please seek help immediately), but it is a must for anyone who particularly enjoys the genre. To me, at least, it really marks the end of the middle stage of samurai films (from 1961's Yojimbo up to about 1966 or 67), before the gore got harder to clean up.