No surprise here. I took a Star Wars personality quiz and (shocker!) I am most like Yoda:
Which means, I suppose, that I am insightful, wise, funny, powerful, philosophical ... and no one ever listens to me, even though I'm always proven right.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
June 28, 2005
The Speech the President Should Give
By JOHN F. KERRY
TONIGHT President Bush will discuss the situation in Iraq. It's long past time to get it right in Iraq. The Bush administration is courting disaster with its current course - a course with no realistic strategy for reducing the risks to our soldiers and increasing the odds for success.
The reality is that the Bush administration's choices have made Iraq into what it wasn't before the war - a breeding ground for jihadists. Today there are 16,000 to 20,000 jihadists and the number is growing. The administration has put itself - and, tragically, our troops, who pay the price every day - in a box of its own making. Getting out of this box won't be easy, but we owe it to our soldiers to make our best effort.
Our mission in Iraq is harder because the administration ignored the advice of others, went in largely alone, underestimated the likelihood and power of the insurgency, sent in too few troops to secure the country, destroyed the Iraqi army through de-Baathification, failed to secure ammunition dumps, refused to recognize the urgency of training Iraqi security forces and did no postwar planning. A little humility would go a long way - coupled with a strategy to succeed.
So what should the president say tonight? The first thing he should do is tell the truth to the American people. Happy talk about the insurgency being in "the last throes" leads to frustrated expectations at home. It also encourages reluctant, sidelined nations that know better to turn their backs on their common interest in keeping Iraq from becoming a failed state.
The president must also announce immediately that the United States will not have a permanent military presence in Iraq. Erasing suspicions that the occupation is indefinite is critical to eroding support for the insurgency.
He should also say that the United States will insist that the Iraqis establish a truly inclusive political process and meet the deadlines for finishing the Constitution and holding elections in December. We're doing our part: our huge military presence stands between the Iraqi people and chaos, and our special forces protect Iraqi leaders. The Iraqis must now do theirs.
He also needs to put the training of Iraqi troops on a true six-month wartime footing and ensure that the Iraqi government has the budget needed to deploy them. The administration and the Iraqi government must stop using the requirement that troops be trained in-country as an excuse for refusing offers made by Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany to do more.
The administration must immediately draw up a detailed plan with clear milestones and deadlines for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis after the December elections. The plan should be shared with Congress. The guideposts should take into account political and security needs and objectives and be linked to specific tasks and accomplishments. If Iraqis adopt a constitution and hold elections as planned, support for the insurgency should fall and Iraqi security forces should be able to take on more responsibility. It will also set the stage for American forces to begin to come home.
Iraq, of course, badly needs a unified national army, but until it has one - something that our generals now say could take two more years - it should make use of its tribal, religious and ethnic militias like the Kurdish pesh merga and the Shiite Badr Brigade to provide protection and help with reconstruction. Instead of single-mindedly focusing on training a national army, the administration should prod the Iraqi government to fill the current security gap by integrating these militias into a National Guard-type force that can provide security in their own areas.
The administration must work with the Iraqi government to establish a multinational force to help protect its borders. Such a force, if sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, could attract participation by Iraq's neighbors and countries like India.
The deployment of capable security forces is critical, but it alone will not end the insurgency, as the administration would have us believe. Hamstrung by its earlier lack of planning and overly optimistic predictions for rebuilding Iraq, the administration has failed to devote equal attention to working with the Iraqi government on the economic and political fronts. Consequently, reconstruction is lagging even in the relatively secure Shiite south and Kurdish north. If Iraqis, particularly Sunnis who fear being disenfranchised, see electricity flowing, jobs being created, roads and sewers being rebuilt and a democratic government being formed, the allure of the insurgency will decrease.
Iraq's Sunni neighbors, who complain they are left out, could do more to help. Even short-term improvements, like providing electricity and supplying diesel fuel - an offer that the Saudis have made but have yet to fulfill - will go a long way. But we need to give these nations a strategic plan for regional security, acknowledging their fears of an Iran-dominated crescent and their concerns about our fitful mediation between Israel and the Palestinians in return for their help in rebuilding Iraq, protecting its borders, and bringing its Sunnis into the political process.
The next months are critical to Iraq's future and our security. If Mr. Bush fails to take these steps, we will stumble along, our troops at greater risk, casualties rising, costs rising, the patience of the American people wearing thin, and the specter of quagmire staring us in the face. Our troops deserve better: they deserve leadership equal to their sacrifice.
John F. Kerry is a Democratic senator from Massachusetts.
Posted by Benari at 12:38 PM
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Why is Beauty and the Geek humiliating, insulting, and detrimental to all of geekdom?
Because Richard is the kind of geek that geeks hate. Richard is to geeks what Paul Wolfowitz is to Jews.
This is the type of stereotype geeks have been trying to shake off since Louis first guffawed waaaaay back when.
Richard is NOT a geek. He's a dweeb. He's a dork. He's a misfit. He's kind of an ass. And he's definitely a NERD. But a geek? Never. Geeks have some semblance of pride in being who they are.
In the movie American Splendor, Harvey and his friend Toby are discussing the movie Revenge of the Nerds. Toby loves the movie because he thinks it gives nerds much needed dignity. Harvey hates it because he thinks that, ultimately, the movie is only funny at the expense of nerds.
And that's how I feel about Beauty and the Geek. I don't feel that the show is celebrating American geeks; instead, it lampoons them. Sure, there are some funny moments. But they're not laughing with us, they're laughing at us.
The whole concept hinges upon the idea that geeks can't be happy being geeks because geeks can't get girls. So, we'll give them a make-over, make them "normal," and hey, maybe even get them laid.
And what of the "beauties?" What do they get out of the experience? As far as I can tell, they get to meet smart guys who are set to make a lot of money. And - even better - they get to work on them, as their own pet project and maybe they'll even land themselves a loyal - and rich - future hubby.
It's a glorified geek make-over show, where geek carries an inherently negative connotation. If the show's ultimate message were 'be true to thyself," I'd have no problem with it. But the show's entire attitude is that if geeks want to fit in, all they need to do is just stop being so...geeky.
Posted by Benari at 11:09 AM
Friday, June 24, 2005
Dateline: Friday, June 24th!
If you happen to be passing through New York City this fine summer's eve, stop on by the Village Lantern to see me tell some jokes and entertain the fine young denizens of the West Village.
Then, if that's not enough to tickle your funny bone, pop on over to Juvie Hall at 10PM and see some of the most bizarrely surreal sketches this side of Salvador Dali.
24 Bond St. between Bowry & Lafayette, New York, NY
Posted by Benari at 9:13 AM
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Open Letter to Lauren Bergfeld, whom I saw for the first time last night on Beauty and the Geek.
Maybe you'll find this by googling your name or something. I dunno.
I just wanted you to know that you are cute and adorable.
I caught an episode of Beauty and the Geek last night on the WB and, while I think that this show is ultimately humiliating and bad for geeks, I did develop an instant crush on the bubbly, boisterous blonde from the South.
I know. The folks who know me are shocked. SHOCKED. And stunned.
Anyway. Look at her (the chick. in the chair. smartass):
Totally Cute. And. Adorable.
I was totally sad to see her leave the show last night (and with her, any reason for me to watch another episode), but on the plus side: she'll have some more free time on her hands to maybe travel a little. Maybe to New York.
And I hear she likes geeks. I'm just sayin'...
Posted by Benari at 12:31 PM
Ugh. Here are some more that should be noted...bonus points if you know where they're from. So many quotes...
"Oh, look! It's K-K-K-Ken. C-c--c-coming to k-k-k-kill me!"
"The horror. The horror."
"Get the buttah."
"What...is your favorite color?"
"There's nothing wrong with letting the girls know that you're money and that you want to party."
"(singing)Oh, sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you!"
"It's waifer thin, sir."
"I'm in hell. When did I get here?"
"But then nobody's perfect ... almost nobody."
"My lip's bleedin', Burt! My lip's bleedin'!"
"Mickey mouse was a big dope!"
"I'm not dead yet!"
"Don't bury me...I'm not dead!"
"Thanks for the ride, lady."
"Try not to suck any dick on the way through the parking lot!"
"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
"Wolfman's got nards."
"I'll give you a winter prediction: it's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life."
"No, wait. It's gotta be your bull."
"You're so money and you don't even know it."
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."
And there are more. So. Many. More. This is why lists are pointless. There's always another hundred quotes, just around the bend.
Posted by Benari at 11:52 AM
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
My list is waaaay better than AFI's list.
Some folks over on this Comedy Study Kvetch Board thread are discussing the AFI's semi-decent-but-mostly-crummy-and-incomplete "Best Movie Quotes" list, adding their own quotes. Me, I hate lists. They always leave things out. But, today's Thursday. And on the Geek Council, coming up with the best movie quotes would be exactly the type of thing we'd do. So...
Here are some of my favorite quotes that were not included on AFI's list. Now. Since AFI already listed 100 quotes, there's no reason to repeat them here. Think of this as a personal addendum. These are simply additional quotes that should be noted...somewhere. In no way is this list complete. I know have multiple quotes from the same movies and I'm sure I left a bunch of your favorites out, but hey, that's just how I roll. These are just the first 100 quotes I thought of.
Some of these quotes are from classic movies, others are simply classic lines more akin to diamonds in the rough - great lines in otherwise forgettable films. Some are oft repeated lines in our pop culture that were conspicuously absent from this sort of list. All of these quotes are much beloved - and quoted - by yours truly. Which either means I am a beacon of pop culture or I have spent far too much time in front of the tv. Interpret as you will. In no particular order:
1. "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try." Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back, 1980.
2. "You've got me? Who's got you?" Lois Lane, Superman: The Movie, 1978.
3. "I've been...working out." Clark Kent, Superman II, 1980.
4. "I want an Oompa Loompa now!" Veruca Salt, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971.
5. "I'm your huckleberry." Doc Holiday, Tombstone, 1993.
6. "Come to me, son of Jor-El. Kneel before Zod." Zod, Superman II, 1980.
7. "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride, 1987.
8. "Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?" Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981.
9. "Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn't there to save them, because you weren't there to save Harry." Clarence, It's a Wonderful Life, 1946.
10. "Luke. I am your father." Darth Vader, The Empire Strikes Back, 1980.
11. "Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you must be' - she always called me Elwood - 'In this world, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. And you may quote me." Elwood P. Dowd, Harvey, 1950.
12. "Inconceivable!" Vizzini, The Princess Bride, 1987.
13. "Sorry we hurt your field, mister." George, A Hard Day's Night, 1964.
14. "I was born a poor black child." Navin R. Johnson, The Jerk, 1979.
15. "We're on a mission from God." Elwood, The Blues Brothers, 1980.
16. "I'm Batman." Batman, Batman, 1989.
17. "Hey look kids, there's Big Ben, and there's Parliament. [time passes] Big Ben. Parliament." [repeat several times] Clark Griswold, National Lampoon's European Vacation, 1985.
18. "Well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?" Chicolini, Duck Soup, 1933.
19. "Of course you realize, this means war." Rufus T. Firefly, Duck Soup, 1933.
20. "Eh, what's up, Doc?" Bugs Bunny, first uttered in A Wild Hare, 1940.
21. "It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man." Ray Stantz, Ghostbusters, 1984.
22. "Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say 'YES'!" Winston Zeddemore, Ghostbusters, 1984.
23. "There is one thing that we all have in common: we were all stupid enough to enlist in the Army. We're mutants, there's something wrong with us, there's something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us. We're soldiers, American soldiers!" John Winger, Stripes, 1981.
24. "I want my two dollars!!!" Johnny the paper boy, Better Off Dead, 1985.
25. "Two men enter, one man leaves." Auntie Entity, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, 1985.
26. "That's it man, game over man, game over!" Hudson, Aliens, 1986.
27. "He pulls a knife, you pull a gun; he sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way." Jim Malone, The Untouchables, 1987.
28. "You really shouldn't shoot me, Johnny. My grandmother shot me once. Once!" Danny Vermin, Johnny Dangerously, 1984.
29. "We'd better get back, 'cause it'll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night... mostly." Newt, Aliens, 1986.
30. "I want this guy dead! I want his family dead! I want his house burned to the ground! I want to go there in the middle of the night and piss on his ashes!" Al Capone, The Untouchables, 1987.
31. "I'm funny how? Funny like a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I'm here to fuckin' amuse you?" Tommy De Vito, Goodfellas, 1990.
32. "You ever dance with the devil in the pale moon light?" The Joker, Batman, 1989.
33. "The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride." Marsellus Wallace, Pulp Fiction, 1994.
34. "You...you're crazy. I like you...but you're crazy." Frank "the Tank" Ricard, Old School, 2003.
35. "Mr. Anderson." Agent Smith, The Matrix, 1999.
36. "'UTTIN' ON THE 'IIIIITZ!!" The Monster, Young Frankenstein, 1974.
37. "Bring out the gimp." Zed, Pulp Fiction, 1994.
38. "Excuse me while I whip this out." Bart, Blazing Saddles, 1974.
39. "Don't be schtupid, be a schmahty / Come and join the Nazi pahty!" Mel Brooks singing v/o, The Producers, 1968.
40. "The bible is a book. It's a good book, but it's not the only book." Henry Drummond, Inherit the Wind, 1960.
41. "Who is more foolish: the fool or the fool who follows him?" Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars, 1977.
42. "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, when he said, 'I drank what?'" Chris Knight, Real Genius, 1985.
43. "A toast to my big brother George: the richest man in town!" Harry Bailey, It's a Wonderful Life, 1946.
44. "Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." General George Patton, Patton, 1970.
45. "What is your major malfunction, numbnuts?Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, Full Metal Jacket, 1987.
46. "Son, you got a panty on your head." Guy in a pick-up truck, Raising Arizona, 1987.
47. "You don't know the power of the Dark Side." Darth Vader, Return of the Jedi, 1983.
48. "Good, bad...I'm the guy with the gun." Ash, Army of Darkness (theatrical release), 1993.
49. "I am Jack's complete lack of surprise." uh, Edward Norton - I guess his character is called 'Narrator', Fight Club, 1999.
50. "Aren't you a little short for a storm trooper?" Princess Leia, Star Wars, 1977.
51. "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that." Lloyd Dobbler, Say Anything, 1989.
52. "Don't speak." Helen Sinclair, Bullets Over Broadway, 1994.
53. "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" Captain Renault, Casablanca, 1942.
54. "I knew it. I'm surrounded by Assholes." Dark Helmut, Spaceballs, 1987.
55. "Too late, Luthor. Too late." Superman, Superman II, 1980.
56. "If things go right I might be showing her my O-face. You know: Oh! Oh!" Drew, Office Space, 1999.
57. "These go to eleven." Nigel, This is Spinal Tap, 1984.
58. "The Dude abides." The Dude, The Big Lebowski, 1998.
59. "Help me. Help meeeeee!" Dr. Delambre, The Fly, 1958.
60. "Can she talk? Or does she just go 'thhhhhpppppbbbbbt'?" Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr (I looked it up!), The Man With Two Brains, 1983.
61. "Many Bothans died to bring us this information." Mon Mothma, Return of the Jedi, 1983.
62. "Bueller? Bueller?" Teacher (as played by Ben Stein), Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986.
63. "Say 'try' again, mother fucker! Say 'try' again!" Jules, Pulp Fiction, 1994.
64. "What a nice man. Of course he's Jewish." Lady at Niagra Falls, after Superman rescues a falling kid, Superman II, 1980.
65. "Never tell me the odds." Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back, 1980.
66. "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." Maxwell Scott, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, 1962.
67. "You'll shoot your eye out, kid." Santa Claus (amongst others), A Christmas Story, 1983.
68. "I'm Sorry Wendy, but I don't trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die." Mr. Garrison, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, 1999.
69. "No dad, what about you? Fuck you. No dad, what about you? Fuck you. Dad, what about you? Fuck you." Bender, Breakfast Club, 1985.
70. "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Roddy Piper, They Live, 1988.
71. "This is pure snow! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?" Charlie, Better Off Dead, 1985.
72. "Get your damn hands off her!" George McFly, Back to the Future, 1985.
73. "I find your lack of faith disturbing." Darth Vader, Star Wars, 1977.
74. "I don't even have a piece of shit. I have to envy yours." Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986.
75. Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb." Batman, Batman: The Movie, 1966.
76. "I kick ass for the Lord!" Father McGruder, Dead Alive, 1992.
77. "There is no spoon." Zen kid, The Matrix, 1999.
78. "Blue, you're my boy!" Frank "the Tank" Ricard, Old School, 2003.
79. "God. Do you even know your daughter? There's no way she likes that song. Oops, is she in a coma?" Barry, High Fidelity, 2000.
80. "No. Nooooo. That's not true. That's impossible!" Luke Skywalker, The Empire Strikes Back, 1980.
81. "I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel." Pee-Wee Herman, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, 1985
82. "So be it...Jedi." The Emperor, Return of the Jedi, 1983.
83. "I've seen the Exorcist about a hundred and sixty-seven times, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT!!" Betelguese, Beetlejuice, 1988.
84. "Who's the master, Leroy?" Sho'nuff, Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon, 1985.
85. "I'd buy that for a dollar!" Robocop, 1987.
86. "It's their time. Their time, up there! Down here, it's our time. It's our time down here. That's all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket." Mikey, The Goonies, 1985.
87. "So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it." Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971.
88. "WOLVERINES!" Red Dawn, 1984.
89. "Yippee-ki-aye, motherfucker." John McClane, Die Hard, 1988.
90. "You don't think God makes mistakes? Of course He does. We all make mistakes. Of course, when we make mistakes they call it evil. When God makes mistakes, they call it... nature. So. Whaddya think? Women: a mistake ... or DID HE DO IT TO US ON PURPOSE?! Daryl Van Horne, The Witches of Eastwick, 1987.
91. "In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." Harry Lime, The Third Man, 1949.
92. "Why is it I can never get it on with the good guys?" Miss Teschmacher, Superman: the Movie, 1978.
93. "It's good to be the king." King Loius XVI, History of the World, Part I, 1981.
94. "Get off my plane!" President James Marshall, Air Force One, 1997.
95. "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies." Prissy, Gone With the Wind, 1939.
96. "I'm on my way to New York City to try to break into public television." Big Bird, The Muppet Movie, 1979.
97. "I must break you." Drago, Rocky IV, 1985.
98. "MISS TESCHMACHER!" Lex Luthor, Superman: the Movie, 1978.
99. "You wanna see something really scary?" Dan Aykroyd, Twilight Zone the Movie, 1983.
100. "Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." Buckaroo Banzai, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, 1984.
Aaaaaand, number 101, just because this should have been there in the first place:
101. "There can be only ONE!" Highlander, 1986.
Posted by Benari at 5:56 PM
Made from the stickiest stuff on earth...
I'm sure this was *snicker* disastrous for the people involved, but *snicker* it's...just...heh...so darned....FUNNY!
Giant Popsicle Melts, Floods New York Park
An attempt to erect the world's largest popsicle in a city square ended with a scene straight out of a disaster film — but much stickier.
The 25-foot-tall, 17 1/2-ton treat of frozen Snapple juice melted faster than expected Tuesday, flooding Union Square in downtown Manhattan with kiwi-strawberry-flavored fluid that sent pedestrians scurrying for higher ground.
Firefighters closed off several streets and used hoses to wash away the sugary goo.
Snapple had been trying to promote a new line of frozen treats by setting a record for the world's largest popsicle, but called off the stunt before the it was pulled fully upright by a construction crane. Authorities said they were worried the thing would collapse in the 80-degree, first-day-of-summer heat.
"What was unsettling was that the fluid just kept coming," Stuart Claxton of the Guinness Book of World Records told the Daily News. "It was quite a lot of fluid. On a hot day like this, you have to move fast."
Snapple official Lauren Radcliffe said the company was unlikely to make a second attempt to break the record, set by a 21-foot ice pop in Holland in 1997.
The giant ice pop was supposed to have been able to withstand the heat for some time, and organizers weren't sure why it didn't. It had been made in Edison, N.J., and hauled to New York by freezer truck in the morning.
Kiwi-strawberry flavored fluid EVERYWHERE! Great Scott!
And in case you missed the best quote from the story, here it is again:
"What was unsettling was that the fluid just kept coming," Stuart Claxton of the Guinness Book of World Records told the Daily News. "It was quite a lot of fluid. On a hot day like this, you have to move fast."
Best. Quote. Ever.
Posted by Benari at 3:20 PM
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
So, I received some spam that insulted my manhood and implied that I may have a stamina problem in bed. Nothing out of the ordinary. What's weird is the strange collected gibberish that makes up the second half of the message. It's almost as if the spammers are trying to communicate in code.
"...trapped in a basement...send viagra immediately..."
It's like some bizarre e-mail possession. Does the Devil use herbal supplements? Maybe someone out there in internet-land can figure this one out. I can't wait to see what kind of google hits I'm gonna get after this post...
EXTRA-TIME - last 5-10 times longer!
This new doctor developed, herbal supplements,
allows users more control over ejaculation,
completely curing "Premature Ejaculation" and
other sexual dysfunction problems.
- Non-hormonal herbal therapy
- Acts locally on the sex organs
- Regulates process of ejaculation
- Acts through neuro-endocrine pathway
- Acts on the high centres of emotion in the brain
morose registration firemen annapolis curlicue liturgy cameo dance durkee raj doorstep dingy influence benedictine icy lawbreaker estuary fillet transitive gentle clockwork pragmatic barrette hegemony elite cougar decade view burden leave lydia pro rattail zagreb rubicund smithsonian whelk ceremony jockey hollerith grammar cosh embattle respect year slocum bauble spider bushel uganda yond smalltime insist bohr cobblestone warmth animism complaisant indium negate pappy facultative passerby effusion changeable conscript aphid abernathy attendee quota inflammatory correct quadrangular persevere adobe curricula valid
Posted by Benari at 3:13 PM
Maybe you don't know what I'm talking about now, but believe me you will when it's over. You will when it's over.- Apollo Creed, Rocky IV, 1985.
Waaaay back in January, I waxed poetic about how the state of our pop culture in 1985 could be used as a pretty good indicator of what 2005 will look like. And here's the weird part: it's kind of coming true. Right down to the box office slump!
From The Beat(Emphasis mine):
Hollywood's box office woes continued this weekend, when BATMAN BEGINS took in $46.9 mil—$10 million below expectations. (MR. & MS. SMITH took in $50.3 mil over its opening weekend, by contrast.)
It was the 18th straight week that box office take was lower than last year, a slide unduplicated since 1985.
Our pop culture also reflects the call once more to global activism, as giant, global-charity concerts have re-emerged, thanks to Bob Geldof and his current plans for "Live 8" - a sequel to his *ahem* 1985 landmark Live Aid concerts.
So, for those who may have missed it, I'm re-posting an excerpt of my Nostradamus-like musings. It's not too late for us to rise to the challenge, just like Bruce Leroy did 20 years ago. And when the Shogun of Harlem stares you down and scoffs, "Who's the master, Leroy?" you can calmy glare at him and reply, "I am. I'm the master." Bask in my brilliance:
I think we need look no further than 1985 to give us a pretty good indicator of what 2005 holds in store for us. Just take a look at the top grossing movies and you'll get a pretty good idea of what I'm talking about. Hell, look at ALL the movies from 1985.
1985. The year that gave us The Breakfast Club, Real Genius, Fletch, and We Are the World.
1985. The year when Marty McFly almost made out with his mom.
1985. The year when a rag-tag band of kids uncovered the treasure of One-Eyed Willy, stopped the bad guys, and saved their town.
1985. The year when John Rambo became our "worst nightmare" and Rocky Balboa avenges Apollo's death - while simultaneously defending America's freedoms - by taking on Ivan Drago. I don't need to tell you that Rocky's speech at the end ("...if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!") single-handedly ended the Cold War.
1985. The year when Harrison Ford witnessed Kelly McGillis naked.
It's the 80s all over again and we've gotta get...Back to the Future! Take a good look at what 1985 gave us, and then think about what you can do to take back 2005. And then I'll ask you again. Who is the Master, Leroy?
Posted by Benari at 11:05 AM
Monday, June 20, 2005
Salon (naturally) has a great interview with General Wesley Clark.
He is EXACTLY the kind of guy the Democrats need right now.
And when asked about the controversy surrounding Dean's recent comments, Clark's response was:
The more we can do to focus on the real issues that affect the voters, the more trust we'll gain from the voters. I think it's not too early now to begin the track record of laying out what the Democratic Party stands for, what we believe in.
We are, after all, a party of family values. We believe in the values that support families, like jobs and healthcare and education, and we've proved it. And without their concrete expression in effective policies, you can't support families.
Heh. A Democrat with Presidential aspirations who doesn't bash Dean? Wow.
There may just be hope for the future of this party after all.
Tell it like it is, sir.
Posted by Benari at 9:25 AM
Friday, June 17, 2005
I'd just like to take a moment to plug tonight's 10 PM show at Juvie Hall, "Yo Quiero Pancakes!"
It's a sketch comedy show concocted by Kyria and Erik Seims and it will feature a super-special surprise guest appearance by ME!
Oooh. I think I just gave away the surprise. Hm. But you'll never guess that I'll be apeearing as SANTA! HA! Bet you didn't see that one coming, did ya? Um, but when it happens, um...could you please still act surprised?
Friday June 17th and 24th @ 10PM
Yo Quiero Pancakes
24 Bond St. between Bowry & Lafayette, New York, NY
Posted by Benari at 10:39 AM
Thursday, June 16, 2005
'Star Wars' princess inspires royal name in Norway
Thu Jun 16, 8:04 AM ET
Norwegian Princess Leah's name was inspired by a character in a "Star Wars" movie, the mother of the infant princess was quoted as saying on Thursday.
"I must admit that I have always been a big 'Star Wars' fan, and Princess Leia has always been the most beautiful in the whole world," Princess Martha Louise said in an interview with the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.
Princess Leah, born on April 8 this year and fifth in line to the Norwegian throne, was due to be baptised on Thursday. In the "Star Wars" movies, Princess Leia is the twin sister of Luke Skywalker and the daughter of Darth Vader.
Princess Martha Louise did not explain the slight difference in spelling of the two names, both pronounced the same way.
Named after Princess Leia, but with the Jewish spelling. It's a win for both my people!
Posted by Benari at 11:12 AM
It's Thursday. Time for some geek talk.
So. The rather lamely-titled Batman Begins opened last night and being the dutiful geek that I am...well...I...hurm.
I haven't seen it yet. I want to see it. I will see it. It's just...
I dunno. There's no real sense of anticipation there for me. From all accounts so far, it looks to be a great movie. And with a rock solid cast and director, I should be chomping at the bit to see this film. It's just...
Ross might be right...I feel like I should be excited to see this movie; I'm just not. With the overabundance of geek movies currently on-hand - with no real end in sight - it's no longer a novelty to see my favorite 4-color, childhood heroes up on the big screen. It's almost become expected. And when I hear that Christopher Nolan has made a damn fine Batman movie, I no longer think: "GREAT! Now, maybe, comic book movies will get some respect!" I think: "Great. That's how it should be."
So, maybe we, as geeks, have gotten a little spoiled. And I say, it's about time. Before, we would rabidly shell out cold, hard cash just to see a studio's big budget super hero movie just because it was a super hero movie. It didn't matter if the story was good or if it was true to the spirit of our beloved heroes; the novelty was enough. But no more.
With the diversity of competing geek movies out there, the movies have to be good to get our attention now. We vote with our wallets. It's why Spider-Man's box office exploded while Elektra's fizzled. The bar has been raised higher, and we will not suffer through Elektra just because it has a Marvel logo on it and she slightly resembles Frank Miller's femme fatale. Come July, we'll see just how good the FF movie is ... but our loyalty is no longer guaranteed. Our love is not unconditional anymore. Our geek creds can't be bought off with pale immitations. We got our geek creds the old fashioned way. We earned them.
And geek movies need to earn our respect. Each and every time. That's how it should be.
Posted by Benari at 9:26 AM
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
... [L]awmakers voted Wednesday to block the Justice Department and the FBI from using the Patriot Act to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips.
The House voted 238-187 despite a veto threat from Bush to block the part of the anti-terrorism law that allows the government to investigate the reading habits of terror suspects.
The vote reversed a narrow loss last year by lawmakers concerned about the potential invasion of privacy of innocent library users. They narrowed the proposal this year to permit the government to continue to seek out records of Internet use at libraries.
The vote came as the House debated a $57.5 billion bill covering the departments of Commerce, Justice and State. The Senate has yet to act on the measure, and GOP leaders often drop provisions offensive to Bush during final negotiations.
"This is a tremendous victory that restores important constitutional rights to the American people," said Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., the sponsor of the measure. He said the vote would help "rein in an administration intent on chipping away at the very civil liberties that define us as a nation."
Posted by Benari at 10:58 PM
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
I, uh...I was pretty sure that last time I checked...lynching was bad.
But I guess not everyone feels that way. Specifically:
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)
George Voinovich (R-OH)
So, you guys aren't sorry about blocking anti-lynching laws? Good to know...
Posted by Benari at 3:58 PM
When network television stations refused to air Saving Private Ryan in certain markets, I remember thinking that it wasn't because of profanity; it was because, in today's cultural climate, The Powers That Be didn't really want to remind people that sometimes, the country can ask too much of one family. And in WWII, the government was willing to do something about it. As opposed to now. When a very small segment of Americans is being asked to carry the major burden of war...and everyone else is being encouraged to shop.
Which brings me to:
Warren Ellis' Global Frequency put a fun spin on the idea of a small, concetrated group of elite warriors fighting the invisible war.
I have not seen the pilot episode for Global Frequency. And, dubious legalities of pirated internet copies aside, I should be able to see it. On television. Or DVD. But, I won't. At least, I highly doubt that a show of this nature would ever make it out of development hell alive, onto the small screen.
Why the pessimism? Well, as Kevin points out:
Think about what this show could have represented in an era where Bush's "ownership society" is helping create the idea that selfishness is good. Think about what this show could have taught impressionable young people about how it can be cool to help others. This was going to be a show about cellphone-wielding techninjas, sure, but at the same time it was going to be about people rising to the challenge each every week for the sake of all of us.
We need to believe in the common man as hero now more than ever, and this show could have gotten us all a little closer to that - all of the viewers would be on the Global Frequency.
That's exactly why this show is doomed to noble failure. In a time when fewer and fewer people are being called upon to make sacrifices for the greater good, the idea that ANYONE can get involved, make a difference, and put the needs of others before their own needs is antithetical to the pervasive selfishness of the current social climate. Especially when it comes to network television. Individual sacrifice is fine for others...as long as it doesn't impact our ability to buy bling'd out hummers and guzzle gas at alarming rates. Individual sacrifice is fine for others...as long as it's someone else's responsibility to clean up the mess we've made. Individual sacrifice is fine for others...as long as you shop at the Gap. Individual sacrifice is fine...for someone else's kids.
Why has 24 succeeded where Global Frequency died in birth? Because at its heart, 24 is about the inherent goodness of the government and its ability to protect us. The average tv viewer can sleep soundly at night knowing that Jack Bauer is out there to protect us from the bad guys...and all we have to do is stay out of his way and let him do his job. We're being asked to do nothing.
But, isn't that also the theme of Global Frequency, where a small group of highly trained individuals protects us from the big, bad, super threats we should never know about? Not quite.
Without even getting into the fact that no one in power wants to us to remember that the government can fail - and has failed - to protect us from large threats, the key element of the GF is that any one of us can suddenly find ourselves on the frequency. And then the question becomes, what are you going to do?
Mssr. Rogers elaborates:
One quick story: There's a sequence in the show, when Aleph gets everyone on the Frequency, and they figure out what the problem is. All these citizen-experts, pitching in to save strangers' lives. To get a good feel for the timing, all the actors were kind enough to show up on that shoot night (Aimee shot separately) at 3 am and do their parts LIVE. So it played out, just like on the show -- the call went out, people responded, voices chiming in, all in one, long flawless take ... like it was actually happening.
It was incredible, one of those alchemical moments were it stopped being television, stopped being a performance, and actually took us to another world.
Nelson calls "cut". I step into the set, basically this glorified warehouse, and realize that there's a weird silence. Cast and crew are spooked. Some people are tearing up, I actually hear a little sniffling. I turn to one of the show staff and say "Hey, you okay? What's wrong?"
And she bursts into tears. "I was just ... what if it were real? Wouldn't it be beautiful if people could really ..." And she fades out, wipes her eyes. Whispers: "It would just be so amazing if it were real."
I loved the comic book mini-series. I thought it was clever, insightful, and at times, even poignant. It also packed a nice adrenaline-powered punch and made with the kick / 'splode very nicely. It would make an unbelievably addictive tv show. And with John Rogers at the helm, high quality would be assured.
And actual, thought-provoking television that encourages invidual responsibility and explores the complex, blurred lines of morality is exactly the kind of thing that WON'T make it to network tv any time soon.
But that's okay. Because information wants to be free. And the GF pilot is out there already. On the net. In the hands of fans. As Rogers has noted on his blog, a fanbase exists. The stage has been set, the seeds have been planted, the genie is out of the bottle. Miranda Zero lives. The call has gone out. And somewhere, an unmarked cell phone is buzzing to life, lit up in neon blue and ringing a tone you've never heard before. The question is, who will answer the call?
You didn't even know it, but you're already on the Global Frequency.
Posted by Benari at 11:03 AM
Monday, June 13, 2005
And now a word from Kyria Abrahams:
Erik Seims and Kyria Abrahams are doing a sketch show? No shit.
That's gonna be weird.
Remember the stuff Erik used to write for Jest? I mean, "The Baby Stretching Machine"? What the fuck was that all about?
Oh, and Kyria always wrote these long-winded pseudo-erudite essays with tons of obscure biblical references. Did anybody ever read those?
What's the show called? "Yo Quiero Pancakes"?
I hope it doesn't suck. I hate that awkward feeling after a show when you're at the bar, and you're all like, "Um, yeah, it was clear you put a lot of work into that."
I'll probably go on the 24th, give them a week to get their shit together.
Maybe I'll see you there, dude. I don't know, I might have a spot that night in Hoboken.
Where is this thing again? Christ.
¡YO QUIERO PANCAKES!
10:00PM JUNE 17 AND 24
probably Jon Corbett doing standup on the 24th, I think.
"Yo Quiero Pancakes: Get ready for the cool."
Posted by Benari at 8:26 PM
Sunday, June 12, 2005
My thanks to the guy who cooked up this story.
From The Column in today's Lowell Sun:
TWO FORMER Meehan staffers are making it big in the Big Apple on separate career tracks.
Benari Poulten of Chelmsford, who used to have the daunting task of making Meehan funny at his St. Patrick's Day speaking events, made his debut on the comedy circuit Thursday night as part of the Riot Act, a sketch show that also features an ensemble cast of other comedians, including writers and performers from The Daily Show and MTV.
And ex-aide Bernadett Vajda of Andover, who embarked on a career as a fashion model in New York City, is featured on page 72 of the new issue of Glamour magazine, on newsstands now.
Vajda, who recently modeled eyewear for Barbara Walters and friends on The View, is featured modeling jean shorts.
Vajda returned to Massachusetts earlier this week to testify about victim's rights before the Joint House and Senate Judiciary Subcommittee at the Statehouse.
Vajda's father, Janos, was shot and killed by a doctor inside Holy Family Hospital in Methuen in 1999. She is seeking to have “safe zones” created inside courthouses so that families don't have to interact with the accused during trials.
Comedy and fashion -- clearly, skills they didn't learn at the congressman's office.
Posted by Benari at 10:08 PM
Friday, June 10, 2005
Show's over, went well, everyone involved was brilliant.
Sold-out show. Great feedback. I was happy just watching some of the funniest performers in NYC getting to strut their stuff...it was a total collaborative effort and I hope that we get picked up for a regular, ongoing showcase series. I'll write more once I've gotten my head around the fact that our rag-tag crew managed to pull it off. Here's looking to a bright future for the Riot Act.
Meanwhile, in other historic news, the Red Sox play the Cubs for the first time since the 1918 World Series. I am ... conflicted. This is one of the reasons why I don't like inter-league play. A Red Sox-Cubs match-up is the stuff of Baseball legend, and it shouldn't be relegated to just another game in the middle of the season. A World Series game between the two teams had always been my "event-that-brings-on-the-apocalypse" scenario...until the Sox went and saved the World from total chaos and ruin last year, thus avoiding the world-ending cataclysm of a Sox-Cubs Game 7.
I have been to Wrigley Field exactly one time in my life. In the Spring of 2001, while visiting the Chicago Improv Festival, my friend Nicole took me on a Ferris Bueller-esque tour of the Windy City. Walking out of the Sears Building, I mentioned that I would love to have seen the Cubs play at Wrigley. We realized that a game was currently underway, hopped on a train, and got to the field during the eighth inning. To our dismay, they were letting no one in and you could no longer purchase any tickets after the 7th.
Finding a gate staffer, I made my plea. This was my first trip to Chicago and I had always wanted to see Wrigley and the Cubs - even for one inning. And I was from Boston - so, at that time, I felt a certain camaraderie with our National League counterparts. He asked to see my license, verifying that I was, in fact, a native Boston Red Sox fan. He glanced at my MA license, then at me, then very quietly nodded his head toward the gate, allowing me and Nicole into the field. We found two empty seats (it was the bottom of the 8th and the Cubs were leading the Dodgers by quite a few runs) and plopped down to watch the end of the game. I would have been happy to have seen just one or two Cubs' batters at the plate, but as luck would have it, the Cubs were about to have a record inning, as every batter in the Cubs rotation pounded on the hapless Dodgers and soared to an over 20-run score. It was unbelievable. I watched a total of one inning (bottom of the 8th and the top of the 9th) and I saw Sammy Sosa bat twice. And we witnessed an amazing blow-out with the Cubs putting on quite a show. In Wrigley.
And today, I doubt the gate guard would have much sympathy for a poor Boston fan trying to catch a glimpse of those luckless Cubs.
But still, when Boston takes to the field today on that hallowed ground - to face their 1918 rivals - even though it won't carry quite the same weight it once had, it should still be pretty special. And playing in the middle of the season - well, that's not really the end of the world. We'll save that for the post-season.
Posted by Benari at 9:50 AM
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Tonight's the night. If you're in New York City at 10 PM tonight, swing on by:
The Ars Nova Theatre
511 West 54th Street
New York, NY 10019
(between 10th and 11th Aves.)
Check out some great comedy!
After writing for it, performing in it, and directing it (as well as editing together the opening video - I'm a jack-of-all-trades!), here's what I had to say about the Riot Act:
Fast, frenetic, and funny, THE RIOT ACT promises a refreshing comedy experience of rapid-fire satire, fractured fairy-tales, and a cracked-mirror view of modern life. Comprised of writers and performers from The Daily Show to Broadway to MTV, the Riot Act offers audiences the chance to catch some of the city's best kept secrets doing what they do best. Armed only with lofty ideals and hilarious comedic skills, these bright-eyed entertainers create a wholly unique creature out of the mismatched parts of our contemporary culture.
So come see us before we all become filthy rich and famous!
Posted by Benari at 9:58 AM
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
The Fantastic Four movie open on July 8th. And, as we all know, the FF receive their fantastic powers thanks to being bombarded by cosmic rays.
So, it struck me as awesome this morning when I read:
DENVER, Colo. - An international science group Tuesday chose Colorado as the site of a $50 million observatory to measure the cosmic rays that continually bombard the Earth.
Cosmic rays exist and scientists are gonna study 'em! It's only a matter of time before scientists actually figure out how to harness this power and turn themselves into real-life superheroes. Or tamper too much with science and unleash powers man was never meant to meddle with - it can always go either way.
Jim Sites, associate dean for research at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, a member of the collaboration, said the observatory is designed to capture the extremely rare, highest-energy cosmic rays that pack so much power scientists cannot figure out what produces them.
"It's possible there's a very mundane answer, but my guess is there's going to be some light shed on something we have just been speculating on, or haven't even guessed at yet," he said.
Sites said only about five high-energy cosmic rays have ever been measured. Cosmic rays were first detected in 1912.
Yep. I'd say the boys of science chose a pretty fantastic time to apply for funding, just as movie-goers will begin murmering about cosmic rays and their varied affect on human beings. And even cooler - cosmic rays are no longer just a comic book device...they're real life science. Now, you, too, can use the term "cosmic rays" to discuss important scientific discoveries in every day life.
"I'm worried about the affects of cosmic rays on our nation's agricultural farmers."
"With the rise of global warming and the constant bombardment of cosmic rays, you can expect a very hot summer."
"Dr. Doom has built a new death ray and only the Fantastic Four can stop them with the powers they received from cosmic rays!"
Cosmic Rays are awesome.
Posted by Benari at 8:05 AM
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Not that anyone really reads this thing on a regular basis.
Why no posting? Well, it's funny how a suddenly active life completely undermines any attempt at maintaining an online excercise in self-indulgence. Busy with the new Day Job.
And, of course, THE SHOW.
Which is Thursday. At 10 PM. Click on the Riot Act in the sidebar for more details.
Posted by Benari at 9:27 AM