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Saturday, May 14, 2005

A bicycle built for Bush

So let me get this straight...when the White House and Capitol buildings in Washington DC were evacuated this week, with all of the grace and order of the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, nobody thought to disturb Bush's first bicycle ride without training wheels?

This last link is crucial. It provides a transcript of the White House press conference following the incident. The press don't seem to be reassured by Scott McClellan's answers, about protocol, and the President not being in danger. This one's a gem:

Q: I think there's a disconnect here because, I mean, yesterday you had more than 30,000 people who were evacuated, you had millions of people who were watching this on television, and there was a sense at some point -- it was a short window, a 15-minute window, but there was a sense of confusion among some on the streets. There was a sense of fear. And people are wondering was this not a moment for the president to exercise some leadership, some guidance during that period of time?

MR. McCLELLAN: The president did lead, and the president did that after September the 11th when we put the protocols in place to make sure that situations like this were addressed before it was too late. And that was the case -- that was the case in this situation. ...

...except for the part where no one told him that people were running for (what they thought was) their lives, and he didn't know because no one told him about it. Kinda like when he was reading a storybook about goats to Florida School children while New York City was under attack. No, wait a moment--these two incidents aren't exactly the same--because Bush already knew that the first WTC tower had been hit, before he went in to the classroom.

Are we to conclude then, that the lessons learned from 9/11 are to limit the details of what you tell Georgie when he's not playing President? If people haven't already been killed, let the boy play? What Georgie doesn't know stands a good chance of not confusing him? That there was never anything substantially wrong in the first place, because it was all staged theatrics?

Or, if one were to be less charitable, could it be that the real lessons learned are from a later, much more humourous incident? The Segway had two wheels too, after all--and was supposed to be "idiot-proof". Sorry--allow me to rephrase--in the words of the official website, "The Segway HT requires no special skills (check!) (it takes care of the balancing-on-two-wheels part) (whew--cuz we can't bet on Georgie for that!) and virtually anyone can use one." Why take the chance of another tragically funny photo-op (those heartless bastards!!!) when he could be told after the fact?

If one were to be the least bit charitable (not moi--I'm just hypothesizing), one could infer from the series of events that his handlers just didn't think Bush was capable of responding to the evacuation with any degree of effectiveness. They know him best, after all--well, aside from a few happy horses in Crawford, Texas. But I digress. The deeper conclusion here is that, in addition to the heartless, God-less liberal media and the Democrats, even Bush's own people now think that the man is a brainless fucktard. Or is that "ass-clown"?

We blog, You decide!

My Step-Dog

--chapter one--Take That!

What else would you call it? My now-wife already had a dog when we started dating. We got married, and now her dog is my dog too. I never knew the dog as a puppy; just popped in one day when she was already 6 years old--photos and stories filled in the blanks. We bonded quickly when I realized that she was perfect, and liked meat products--all meat products. Is it love--who knows? I respect her fangs (I will never attempt to pick her up again!), and she respects...umm...herself, I guess. Occasionally, she'll come inside when I call.

Our dog's name is T'Pau. The less-geeky readers here might ask, "Is she named after the moderately-successful 80's band?" The answer is no, not exactly. It's for the Star Trek character. (Long, personal story--not mine to tell.) One day, perhaps someone else will do so.

The reason that I bring this all up is to introduce you to the topic of the world's most stubborn, amusing and perpetually hungry beast to ever walk on four legs. ( I currently hold that same record for the two-legged version, by the way)

T'Pau is a picture-perfect 13 year-old chow-chow, and growing ever more deaf and arthritic as time goes on. In the last two years however, she's developed a few habits that she never had before. She likes chewing on boxes. She never did that before last March. That's when my wife and I were talking about possible replacement dogs. Before you think, "Well, no wonder! Poor thing thought that she was being replaced!" it was only an idea.

As T'Pau had never had a litter, and her time was coming to an end (she's still around, a year later--so don't get any Old Yeller thoughts, okay!!!), we thought that maybe she could house-break a new puppy, and that way some of her more positive attributes--she has many-- would rub off on it. One day, we took a drive out to a breeder and met with 5 or 6 of the cutest Eurasier puppies that you could ever meet.

In the end, we chose not to get a new pup. We had just moved into our new house, and didn't have a lawn or a fence around it yet. Also, the breeder didn't seem to like us very much. Bygones!

We arrived home to find that T'Pau had eviscerated a cardboard box in our basement. What exactly the box had said or done to deserve this???--we'll never know. Was she on to us, and this was her way of saying "Not bloody likely!"? Again, dunno. She's done this about five times since then. Any other chow chow owners ever experience the same thing, please contact me. I'd be glad to hear from you.

Next up--T'Pau and the Art of Intentional Disobedience.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday the 13th

In case you think that you have bad luck, at least you're not Dennis Miller. He hasn't been able to hold down a steady job since leaving SNL back in like 1992.

One of the great tragedies this television season has been the disappointing ratings of Arrested Development. Despite winning a Best Comedy Show Emmy following its first season, and being heavily-touted as the funniest show on the air (not counting Bush press conferences), it never seemed to catch on with the masses. It lingered so close to cancellation that Fox abruptly shortened the season order for the show to 18, from 22--midway through the year. Early enough so that the show's writers could work that bit into the show. Now comes word--praise Jesus, Rupert Murdoch and whoever else was responsible--of a 2-year renewal!

You know, some people just don't get modern art.

Google doesn't seem to like me very much. The key-word "funcentral" finds everything else but me, with my old abandoned website www.funcentral.ca showing up on page one. Ahh--good times! Currently, I pop up on page two of a search, with a blog update report from May 9 on Blog Widow. I was never under the impression that I was the first funcentral, and now I know that I'm also not the most obsessive either. Yikes! To google oneself is simultaneously the most beautiful and vain thing one can do without touching the "bathing suit areas".

Ever wonder what those solid bits were in sausages?

This diaper not for rent! Funcentral, however, is not above wearing ads for money. Just tell me where you'd like it placed, and for how long. I am a cheap media whore. (Hang on, CNN is calling me!)

Happy Friday, people! Be excellent to each other, and to yourselves.

--andy--

Thursday, May 12, 2005

funcentral meets the X-Files

Spooky short post...

On the bus to work today, thinking to myself, "I really miss talking to my dad." (Dad died 16 years ago, just in case you didn't know.) My next thoughts were on how to type that out and put it into context for the blog, because--why waste a good thought? I only have about three a year, and it would introduce a more personal side of me to you, the gentle reader.

This is where it gets spooky.

Immediately after thinking again, "I really miss him," I look out of the window at the back of the bus. There was another bus behind mine. The display sign on the front of the bus, which normally tells passengers where the bus is going, showed the following message:

"LEST WE FORGET"

aaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Granted, that phrase is normally displayed on our city buses on Rememberence Day. No big deal, right?

But that's six months away, or six months ago, depending on how you look at it.

My day was kinda off after that.

How was yours?

funcentral downsizes

Shorter blogs, she says.

I'm such a fool for you, woman.

Here goes:

Longer blog to follow.

andy


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Veronica recap, Sweet Baby goes worldwide, ROTS countdown, Chomsky--and other stuff

Aaron is the killer? Wow! And now.......... who's at the door? Deputy Dawg? Duncan? Mom? Logan? Weevil...Loved that shot of Harry Hamlin in the backseat.

These guys are sooooooooo cool. I saw them once on Austin City Limits. Their website is as fun and interesting as they are. I highly recommend them to anyone who's interested.

Good Christ--they aren't dead yet? Seriously folks--it's the biggest concert announcement for Ottawa since U2 decided to bless us with their presence--although the Blue Man Group is skipping us altogether--but I saw them 16 years ago, and they were being teased then about their ages. How fun is it going to be? $350 bucks for a ticket? Best advice, music fans--support local talent, catch a rising star--and if you still have a Stones-jones, pick up a copy of Exile On Main Street. Thirty-one years later, ain't nothing ever touched the brilliance of it.

How cool is it that Rob and Ambuh can't win everything? Fear not--their televised wedding is coming up soon. Any idea where those cute kids are registered?

More than a communications theorist, more multi-dimensional than a conspiracy theorist--Noam Chomsky gets more things right than not--and don't confuse him with a mere liberal, either. He tends to back away from supporting a specific ideology, concentrating more on what the U.S. government does, and contrasting with what it should be doing. I have not read a more neutral-toned essay on the 2004 election than this. If I lived a thousand years, I could not hope to ever acquire your grace and eloquence, sir. Salut!

My sweet baby suggested shorter blog entries. I'll see what I can do. No promises. I like to think that I'm the reason that she looks younger, by the way.

7 days and counting...probably won't see it until Saturday, anyways. Maybe Sunday. Friday would be nice, though. Does it really matter what the critics are saying about it? After all, we booted home from work early to go see The Phantom Menace.

Last 2 episodes of Enterprise, coming up this week. I wanted to enjoy this show, really I did. Ron Moore has shown what you can do to revitalize a stale franchise, with BSG. Instead, we had the same-old, same-old...With BSG cruising into a second season with more anticipation and chutzpah than ST: TNG season four-Locutus, and Joss' Serenity coming in the fall, I'm all "meh" for the end of the show. I am not a geek.

We find more out about Kate on Lost tonight, like why that miniature airplane means so much. Cuz...umm, that's why we've been watching, J.J. Honest--it has nothing to do with the creepy-psycho French lady, or the Hatch, or the monster in the woods, or Walt's freaky powers, or how Locke can walk again--it's all been about Kate. So, just keep on doing the magic, okay?

Sarcasm kills.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

funcentral vs. the Parents Television Council

Whereupon our hero takes on the Champions of Children's Viewing Habits!!!

It only seems like it was Janet Jackson's booby-baring that started this whole thing--the "protect the children" campaigns. However, it started long before the 2004 Superbowl. During the 1987-1988 television season, "Married...With Children" upset some people enough to start a letter-writing campaign against the shows advertisers. Neat, huh? Before that, they would just target the networks. The Bundys helped to lower network content standards just enough to prepare us for the eventual airing of Dennis Franz's bare ass. Then came South Park, and Sex and the City, and the Sopranos and America's Funniest Home Videos??? Nothing goes unpunished by the PTC, folks!

Ever since Janet and Justin exposed America (and the world, really--thanks JT!!!) to the art of dancing with pasties, the culture war tactics have stepped up a notch. No longer content to burn witches at the stake ("That's sooooooo 17th Century!") , the Parents Television Council stands in judgment of all things televised--and it does not like what it's seeing! Seriously, they hate everything!

To make our television viewing selections easier and awkward-conversations-with-kiddies free, the folks at the PTC have developed a handy-dandy ratings mechanism that anyone can use. Perhaps alluding to the colour-coded terror-alert schematic, or your basic traffic light--the categories of sex, violence and language are rated. Of the 116 shows that I counted on the website, almost every one of them receives either a red (DANGER!!!) or yellow (THEY MIGHT ASK QUESTIONS!!!) rating. Except 7th Heaven, and Joan of Arcadia too--but not as much the second season as the first--now that the shows producers are implying that crippled people can and do have sex. Interesting though--7th Heaven gets a pass on it's use of sexual content because "these are reflections of the children growing older and more mature". Oh, I see. If Joan's crippled brother had only waited a few more seasons...that would be okay.

Not a surprise then, that most of my favourite shows are rated red. A few are yellow, but things can change. They revise the ratings periodically, and reserve the right to start an outright campaign. They really hate FX's "Nip/Tuck". Just to demonstrate how vile and debasing and graphic the show is, the PTC details in writing some of the more objectionable scenes from the show. Whew--good thing we didn't have to watch it, eh? (I'm taking a moment to towel off.)

I don't have any kids of my own, so maybe I'm not the right person to judge the PTC on what they do. It takes a lot of hard work to raise a family, and after a long day on the job who wants to explain what "tossing a salad" means to your 9-year old, after they've been watching Oprah? So, what I'm saying then is, that maybe the PTC and their website is helpful. They're offering a service. Good on them!

Except, they're not just protecting the children. If you read further down on the "Nip/Tuck" entry (tee-hee!!! --I'm twelve, folks!) you'll see that--every so often--the mission changes:

"Nip/Tuck" is not just a show that's completely inappropriate for impressionable children to watch. It's a show adults should be convincing other adults not to support. The sanity of our popular culture depends on our objections.
Oh. Well, then...that's a bit different now, isn't it? Because, I was going to let slide any commentary on why any good parent would allow their poor innocent kids to stay up late enough to watch some of the shows that are in the red. But if we're supposed to be protecting other adults from this smut...? Now, they want to protect our popular culture, too? In project management terminology, that's what's referred to as "scope-creep". Don't believe me??? Just look at their own mandate! Just to ratchet the power-quotient a bit, the PTC also features a link to the advertisers of any given show. Isn't that considerate of them? Addresses and phone numbers are provided--the rest is up to you, dear concerned parent. The next steps are only implied, never overtly explained. Product boycotts are now that much easier to organize now--thanks PTC!!!

The V-chip wasn't enough for them. The warnings on every show isn't enough for them. The mostly universally-respected family hours of 7:00 to 9:00pm weren't enough for them. The FCC won't support them in their campaigns by slapping huge fines on the bad shows. Their collective cart-wheels (Puritan references totally intentional!) seem to be spinning in the mud--Tom Delay could help, but seems to be otherwise engaged right now. With the increase in talk about "decency" these days, the culture war seems to have dug into trenches.

How one defines the word "decent" places them on one side or another. For instance, if one believes strongly that bare breasts and other naked body parts are to be looked at like the glorious products of nature that they are, one would be labeled a liberal, among other things. If, on the other hand, one considered breasts something which should be buried under layers of clothing at all times, probably sided with John Lithgow's character in Footloose about those crazy kids and their dancing. Alternatively, perhaps one considers it indecent to lower taxes and increase federal budgetary spending, thereby causing one's country to go trillions of dollars into debt. Like I said, it all depends on what side you're on.

I think that I've made it very clear which side I'm on. But I want to reach across to the other side. It doesn't have to be that way. I hate war, cultural or otherwise. We can end all of this very easily.

I want to help you, PTC. Really I do. No one should have to sit through hour upon hour of smut, counting the expletives and ménage à trois references--not that there's anything wrong with that--funcentral tm is nothing if not totally embracing to all lifestyles.

So, here's my advice, and seriously it comes from the heart--throw your televisions out! Go play with your children--teach them advanced math, and the beauty of Shakespeare's words, and give them pottery lessons and teach them how to change the oil in a car--but leave us couch potatoes alone!

The argument that you seem to be making--that the smut on television is hurting the children--may have been able to fly in the old world of three major American broadcast networks, but those monopolistic days are long gone. There are literally hundreds of specialty channels out there, narrow-casting to specific viewer tastes. Technology allows one to be able to tune in or tune out everything that they don't want to watch, or to be watched.

But to spend all of one's energy and resources protecting the children from all things "indecent" is as fruitless and impossible now, as it was almost sixty years ago, when J.D. Sallnger created Catcher In The Rye 's Holden Caulfield. They all grow up, facts of life don't go away because we wish them to, and sometimes a show about a blonde vampire slayer is more interesting then a show about a woman and her husband who don't know when to stop having kids.

Life is all about choices, and learning to make them well is one lesson that no parent can afford to deprive their children of mastering. Most of the objectionable material cited by the PTC would probably go unnoticed by most children, if only Mom and/or Dad didn't blow a gasket when confronted with it. As for adults "needing" to be spared from indecency--grow up!


Monday, May 09, 2005

Fundraiser attempt!!! Stop the Insanity!!! Reply below!!!

--or how I totally wasted my compressed day off--

We need to take action now, people! While the world was trying to help out with Tsunami relief, another--perhaps more devastating--tragedy has befallen us.

Celebrities can't afford birth control anymore!

Britney! Jen&Ben! Demi! (maybe--do we have a confirmation on this yet?)

We need to take action now, folks. Judging from the tabloid headlines detailing Brit's weekly pregnancy horrors, they just aren't prepared for this kind of stuff.

For just one dollar a day, you can provide celebs like these with condoms, birth control pills and diaphragms to ensure that we won't have to tolerate another generation of Nicole Ritchies.

Send help today! Or live to regret it 18 years from now. Your choice.

While I'm in a Public Service Announcement frame of mind: This is what happens when a country is turned into a theocracy! We can still avoid this here in Canada, folks! Don't let the wing-nuts take over!

I am the the cool breeze, folks--my Links are now updated, I added a counter, photos are coming shortly--and I didn't have to curse once!

Brand new 24 tonight-- word has it that the the long-anticipated mole is about to be revealed, and the plot may take a more apocalyptic turn, cuz it looks like the secret plot is to make the Chinese think that the US is attacking them with a nuclear missile.

Tomorrow night is the finale for Veronica Mars, and Lilly's murderer is expected to be revealed. Nothing concete yet, but I've been hearing that Logan gets arrested. This may or may not mean that he did it, but more likely, he didn't.

Corey Clark's mugshot here...Sideshow Bob, is that you?!? Holy mother of...could he not have scraped a few dollars togetherfor a haircut? Or a brush, for that matter? Yeah, I can see why Paula Abdul would be all over that.
--a--

Sunday, May 08, 2005

random thoughts

How many years/decades/centuries have to pass before we as a society stop celebrating the end of a war? What is the point now, of the WWII-centric mind-set of the media and (I want to say politicians, but I'm not certain that they themselves are behind it--comments???) politicians today?
Right now, Canada has spent millions of dollars sending a delegation over to Europe. We do this every year, for one WWII thing or another. This time was unique, in that doing so could have inadvertently resulted in our government collapsing. No big deal, perhaps, to some--but put it all in perspective, folks!
It wouldn't be so irritating--to me, at least--if we as a society had learned any lessons from the war. All we're doing now is performing an annual retrospective of one milestone or another. (I'll confess to having always belonged in the "War--war-is-stupid--and-people-are-stupid"-camp, and therefore building a new national War Museum is comparable to building a new national Chewed Bubble Gum Museum, IMHO.) People are still dying because nation-states can't get along. The countless repercussions of WWII (the UN, the rise/fall of Communism, the splitting of Germany, Japan and its neighbours, the domination of world events by the USA, the redesign of the Middle East--oy veh, will it ever???) have yet to completely work themselves out.
Every year there are fewer and fewer actual soldiers involved in these events. So, back to my original question--how much longer? Furthermore, what's the point of doing this every year? We're not really teaching our children the lessons of war, when we can't watch Saving Private Ryan on broadcast television, for fear of upsetting them over the violence! Corporal Timmy can't call for a time-out when the grenade lands at his soon-to-be-obliterated feet. What then, are we doing, when we as a society turn our well-coifed heads away from the true lessons of war in favour of vacuous annual commemoration ceremonies? Just asking.
~~~
It wasn't too long ago that people generally held an optimistic view of the future. I think that it goes beyond American politics, although Bill Clinton's America had a lot to do with it. Jean Chretien's Canada, not as much--but it's surprising the difference that a majority government and a scattered opposition can make/made.Remember when regular folks invested into the stock market--before Enron and Nortel hit the shitter? This is what I'm talking about here folks--we don't invest like we used to, because it feels unsafe now.
Remember when the nightly news--no matter what the headline--was a place of comfort, if only because we could trust what we were seeing? Dan and Tom are gone now, Count Lloyd can't last forever--and the bloody Bush administration has done everything possible to discredit the media in general.
Remember when politicians were actually leaders? Bush is as afraid of his own shadow as he is of a potentially-dissenting opinion that he surrounds himself with yay-sayers. Martin is desperate to hold on to being PM that he only concerns himself with being PM, and not really doing the job. Although that was a nice cookie he tossed the Ontario parents on Friday. Now, they just pick up the cause-du-jour that's most likely to get them re-elected next time around. That may sound a bit on the naive side--I know that that is exactly how politicians have behaved for millennia--but the Terry Schiavo fiasco wasn't even thinly veiled.
Remember when people made long-term plans? Is it just me that doesn't anymore? I really can't see beyond the next two years. I remember when I wanted to grow up...to be a dinosaur, granted--I was 4!!!--but I had plans! (FYI--it probably was a kind, plant-eating variety of dino--cannibalism was beyond me back then!) Seriously, we're buying iPods and HDTVs like there's a global going-out-of-business sale. No one saves to go on a trip anymore--they charge it now, and pay for it mañana mañana mañana.
Remember when our collective first instinct wasn't a snarky comeback? Twenty years ago, Britney's pregnancy would've been celebrated by the media, and now--well, not so much. Ten years ago, we would've pulled together as a team and helped Jennifer Aniston recover from her marital meltdown--now, we lust after the confirmation beach photos of Brangelina, or worse.
So...why I'm afraid is, I think that we've lost something as a society that we may never get back. Did we grieve so deeply as a species after 9/11 that this is how we're coping? I ask because I think that we're missing a few key points here, while we wait for the next elections to pass, and for Paris Hilton's acting career to tank horribly (the one not filmed in night-vision, I mean--the other one always has a place for her!) We seem to be voting out of anger or reaction. We're blind (or just numb) to real tragedy like the Tsunami or the genocide and disease in Africa, and we play up pseudo-horrors like the Runaway Bride. WTF, people? Fifty years of relative North American affluence will surely come back to bite us in the collective tush. It's already started, but unlike Maggie Gyllenhaal, I think that it had begun long before 2001.

How do we fix it? Looking for ways to bring us together as a people, rather than to segregate us into corners would be a real big step.
~~~
I found two episodes of The Daily Show this week to be more enlightening then normal. Some background for those who need it--host Jon Stewart is an unabashed liberal, in a time in US history when it is not always comfortable to be one. This week, Stewart had two guests that didn't hold the same political viewpoints--former Democrat US Senator Zell Miller and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. What was noteworthy was that, while the guests' views differ vastly from the host, the host was polite to them, and the guests never appeared to feel attacked. Given the current state of political talk-shows and (especially!!!) talk-radio, this change was encouraging. Hope for the future, maybe, of the healing between the red and blue-state mentality down south.
Happy Mothers Day, everyone!

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