Monday, March 31, 2008

"No woman wants this!"

Resting up in my hotel room in Watertown, SD and watching some sick Law and Order offspring show.. I think it's "Special Victims Unit". This show in particular involves a woman who was a murder victim.. the only clip of the show I could bear watching without vomiting involved a female cop grilling a male suspect accused of murdering a woman.

In the scene in question, the female cop shows the male suspect pictures of the bruised and battered victim; he claims that this was the result of consensual violent sex, and she shrieks out "No woman wants this!"

Excuse me, fancy Hollywood Writer, who are you to say? I can say with absolute certainty that I've known several woman who have wanted WORSE than this, and the last thing I need is some ignorant character spouting such generic and needlessly hateful rhetoric just because you have an agenda to push or standards to meet up with.

For all of you who think I'm needlessly overreacting, consider this -- imagine the outrage if a TV show dimissed an actual case of domestic violence as "that's okay, he/she wanted this!".. as did the first Ann Landers column.

Seriously. The things locked away in the back of the human mind in terms of sexual impulses are far more complicated than simply saying "only men want this / no woman wants this!" And labelling anything kinky / violent / perturbing as something "only men want" and "something that no woman wants!" is a flagrant insult to both men and women.

To top this off, the next segment involves some worthless polygraph test being analysed and cleanly beaten by the suspect who is apparenly the murderer. But lo and behold! the polygraph analyst is smart enough to know when the person is cleanly "beating the test".

For the record, polygraph tests are not "lie detector" tests. Do you know why they aren't "lie detector tests?" Because they don't detect lies. They detect physiological responses in a way that the "polygraph tester" can simply interpret to get the results he wants in advance.

Hell, put the writers back on strike if this is the kind of crap that they're coming up with.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Watching "The Price Is Right" in Fargo, ND.

Yes, the road trip has started with enthusiasm. Besides doing my work on the road, there's lots of other treats ahead. TNA Wrestling live in Spencer, Iowa and Lincoln, Nebraska. A couple nights in a nice suite on a Native casino resort. Some time in Boise visiting friends. Really and truly, the stuff that dreams are made of!

For now, though, it's a Comfort Inn in Fargo, ND. I've been looking for a souvenir woodchipper, but no luck so far. So, reclined in the inn, it's time to turn on the tube

It's interesting watching The Price Is Right with Drew Carey. You might wonder what a strapping manly-man might be doing watching such a blue-hair's show, but there's really two primary reasons:

#1> I like game shows, and especially "Everyman" gameshows such as TPIR, Wheel of Fortune etc. -- mostly because watching the contestants on them tend to make me feel very smart and dignified by comparison.

#2> I used to watch this show with my late grandfather, Dick Davies, and it's interesting to see how so little of the show's mechanics have changed over the years, most importantly including the ever-popular "You lose!" brass solo.

(The following will assume you are familiar with the show's mechanics, so if it looks like part gibberish, forgive me.)

Nevertheless, it's amazing to see how the "contestant's row" portion of the show is so stacked against the player who has to go first, simply because placing a bid $1 above another person's bid will guarantee that the other person will have, essentially, no chance of winning, so if the first person's bid looks halfway plausible, one of the other players -- usually the last one! -- will wind up bidding $1 more than it. I'm so convinced that the advantage is this so strong, the first player should bid $1 and hope the second person bids plausibly, the third bids leaving enough room and the fourth person bids $1 over the third. You really, really want the second player to win if you can't -- because the new contestant will come into that spot and have to bid first next time, meaning you will bid last on the next round.

Incidentally, I saw a young blond woman rather pompously wearing a shirt that said "I don't need luck". She was bidding last, the highest bid was $899, and she bid $950. I guess she doesn't need luck because even luck wouldn't help her.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Katie

Near the end of March, 2005, a friend of mine called me up and gave me grief for not calling her on her birthday. My professing that "I don't know what your birthday is!" meant nothing to her, and on the spot, I put an entry in my Outlook calendar to remind me on March 24th, 2006 to wish Katie Pettengill a happy birthday.

Although she passed away suddenly before I'd have a chance to show her I was good to my word, it naturally seemed like the right thing to do on that day to just take a few minutes and remember a good friend, and so, it became a bit of a tradition for me to do so on March 24th. There are far worse ways to start a day, after all.

For those who hadn't heard, I met Katie through my Magic: the Gathering articles I wrote for Brainburst years ago. I had asked my readers to summarize me and my mannerisms in a Magic card in the gazillion-to-one chance I ever won the Invitational (and the winner would appear in a card, you see).

Egocentric Canadian
2UU, 0/2
2U, Tap: Say the longest word you know. If no opponent knows what that word means, you may pay (1) to bitch-slap that player.

The picture provided has unfortunately been lost to time, but it was priceless. Painstakingly drawn in MS Paint, it featured a man in a Team Canada hockey jersey, standing on an actual factual "SOAPBOX", standing in front of a math chalkboard full of equations, and holding a pointer to the bottom right corner which stated, plainly, "= I'M RIGHT!"

Even this early on, I could see that she had a keen eye for detail and appreciated my wit enough to return it in kind. I responded to this email, and her reply came back with a joke, the first of many she'd share with me:

How many existentialists does it take to change a light bulb? ...None, existentialists like their voids nice and dark! By the way, never tell that joke while drinking, it just doesn't come out well.

.. the first joke of many, I might add, that would redefine everything from nursing homes to fluctuations to Richard Simmons over the years.

Happy Birthday, Katie; thanks for the good times!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Can anyone explain how this is fair?

In case anyone ever wanted hard-coded proof that men are second-class citizens in our culture:

It's okay to have one-sided statutory rape laws, really!

The law defined unlawful sexual intercourse as "an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a female not the wife of the perpetrator, where the female is under the age of 18 years."

Nice. If you said, "this means that only males can be punished for underage sex," you'd be right!

This is the best part, though:

In a plurality decision, the Court held that the law did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, noting that "young men and young women are not similarly situated with respect to the problems and the risks of sexual intercourse." The Court found that the state had a strong interest in preventing "illegitimate pregnancy." The Court noted that "[i]t is hardly unreasonable for a legislature acting to protect minor females to exclude them from punishment. Moreover, the risk of pregnancy itself constitutes a substantial deterrence to young females. No similar natural sanctions deter males."

Uh huh.

No similar natural sanctions to pregnancy exist? Garsh, how about the "unnatural sanction" of an oppressive two decades worth of child support payments? Maybe that's a bit of a disincentive?

Now, I bet you that if you had a chat with young men in California - a state with notorious "equal treatment" laws - if such an anti-male law could possibly exist, I bet you they wouldn't believe it for a second.

This is why I have ALWAYS believed that we are doing our young men a disservice by not educating them on how shafted they are by child, family and sex laws. Of course, if the true gravity of the situation were shown to them, society as we know it would probably come to an end in 2 generations.

What a joke. What a sick, freaking joke.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another beautiful song by Jade Valerie.

I was looking for Jade's new album, Bittersweet Symphony on iTunes; instead, I found myself this treasure, which moved me to tears. The lyrics are simple, even repetitive, but once again, Jade's haunting voice and some very good music combine to great effect.

Lying awake, I tremble and shake,
I'm trapped in those days, and I reach for your face
and I wonder.. where are you now?

In the midst of my mind, our fingers entwine,
and they're stronger than time, as constant as tides,
and I wonder.. where are you now?

Silently we say goodbye.
Silent as night.

Quiet as night, the angels came and closed your eyes,
and now, there's shadows where you used to lie;
I promise to remember.

Quiet as night, the angels came and closed your eyes,
I guess I'll never understand why;
I promise to remember.

Quiet as night, the angels came and closed your eyes,
and I guess I'll never know why,
but I'll always remember.. I promise to.

Been talking to God, but I guess He forgot, cause I'm
still standing here with my unanswered prayers,
and I'm waiting.. I'm hurting.

Silently we say goodbye.
Silent as night.

Quiet as night, the angels came and closed your eyes,
and now, there's shadows where we used to lie,
but I promise to remember

Quiet as night, the angels came and closed your eyes,
I guess I'll never understand why,
but I promise to remember.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Life can begin at thirty-three.

One thing which I've had on my mind lately is how busy I've been with life in the past nine months, starting with my move from Calgary back home, and finding myself rapidly getting lots of work in my chosen fields. It's interesting because I always feel that my best years were behind me - the frivolity of high school, the joys of university, and the easy going life two kids, 10 years and 100 pounds ago.

Nevertheless, I look at history and I can see that Richard Nixon didn't even begin his first political campaign until he was 33. Likewise, my absolute favorite librettist, W.S. Gilbert, didn't even meet his musical counterpart, A.S. Sullivan, until his (Gilbert's) 33rd year. Both Nixon and Sullivan, needless to say, had huge careers and lived relatively long lives - if not turbulent at time and crisis-filled at others!

A lot of that "it was so great being young" rhetoric in life is a combination of biology and society. The biology part speaks for itself, but our society seems rather obsessed with youth and 'faking' being young if you can't actually be young. It's nice to remember, on occasion, that sometimes, you aren't in a position to make something of yourself until you have a few years under your belt. As they say, only when the student is ready does the master appear.

Monday, March 10, 2008

One thing I'll never understand TNA Impact!

Watched the latest TNA Pay-Per-View this weekend, "Destination X". It was, all-in-all, quite good. My sweetie Gail continued to show why she is the best "diminutive babyface" in woman's wrestling today, the "Fish Market Streetfight" was far, far better than it had any right to be, and pretty much all the other matches except the "Elevation X" affair delivered the goods.

However, there's one thing that I don't get. As you know, Spike TV subscribes to the popular misandrist double-standards about violence, forgetting for a moment that pro wrestling is in fact performance art where violence is the primary means of communication.

Nevertheless, as I watched a recap of the moment where Robert Roode accidentally hit Sharmell (further elevating the Roode - Booker feud into atmospheric levels of heat) it dawned on me that this is the first time I actually saw it without the annoying freeze frame. All you'd ever see on impact is Roode winds up, the screen pauses for two seconds while we hear West and Tenay freak out, and the next thing you see is Sharmell on the mat. Forget the fact that the popular opinion was that Sharmell did an incredible job of selling it that added legitimate heat to the moment, which we never got to see. If you're going to do something annoying like that, at *least* add some comic relief to the moment and replace the freeze-frame with a 60's Batman sound-effect panel. I mean, Roode winding up, then a ***KER-PLAM!!!*** and then a shot of Sharmell on the ground? Solid $TEXAS.

Now, the reason I mention this is because of what you CAN show on Impact.

In this very feud, they had a protracted scene where an impromptu streetfight broke out between Roode and Booker, and Booker got knocked out by Roode, at which point Roode's manager Peyton Banks produced some handcuffs, chained Booker T to the post, and Roode took off his belt.

It's nice to know that women are so sacrosanct that the same network that thinks a man accidentally hitting a woman is too offensive to show has no problem showing a Caucasian savagely whipping a Negro that is chained to a post for well over two minutes. Mind you, Impact *is* primarily a Southern operation...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

My son's selective hearing.

This Saturday night, Luke was supposed to go to bed, but he wanted to hang out in my room and watch DVDs on the PS2 and all the other "I get to stay up late!" stuff that kids that age do on weekends.

At any rate, I decided that, with him off to bed, and me needing a bit of a distraction from my work that evening, I thought I'd play a little Culdcept Saga for the XBox 360. For those unfamiliar, it's roughly equal parts Stock Ticker, Monopoly and Magic: the Gathering. Actually quite a lot of fun, and my son is into it a lot. Enough that he can figure out what to do in an effort to give the computer AI a good game, which I think is impressive for an eight-year old.

Now, I haven't played the game in a couple of weeks, mostly because I have been quite busy, but also because, every time I try and play it, I have a little eight-year old rug-rat hanging on my ankle suggesting a play on each and every decision.

Sure enough, even though I've turned down the TV volume in the living room, and it's dark in the house, and it's almost 10pm, within (I kid you not) thirty seconds I hear some scampering footsteps and a cracker-dust covered kid in pajamas dives on the sofa and starts asking me what I'm going to put in my deck, why do I call it "4 Color / fast", why I should play that card, how cool that card is that he doesn't have in his collection (hint, hint!).

This naturally coincides nicely with the last dozen times I've tried to scold him for misbehaving and not doing what he's told and getting a teary "b.. b.. but I didn't HEAR you, Daddy!".

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gary Gygax, may he rest in peace.

First, I'll get the obvious smart-ass comments out of the way:

Gary Gygax passed away on Tuesday, 4 March 2008. He will be critically missed. Let us all observe 1d6 minutes of silence.

Sorry, I know jokes like that would have him 'rolling' in his grave.

Okay. NOW with all that out of the way, I'll summarize it plainly and to the point: Gary Gygax created something that was, for decades, a part of my life. For many others, it was much greater. Overall, Gary Gygax contributed something very, very fundamental to the way of life that defined what it meant to be like me. I will miss him, as will countless other gamers.

It truly is a *shakes dice cup* *consults table* tragic day in geekdom.

In the earth lies Gary Gygax. May he rest in peace.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Conversational math strikes again.

Now, the standard example of "conversational math run amok" runs along the lines of "turning something around 360 degrees" having any change value whatsoever. For instance, we have Jason Kidd (the basketball player, not the old Flames' goalie) proclaiming, upon being drafted, that he "wanted to turn his new team around 360 degrees", or late-and-great wrestling commentator Gorilla Monsoon repeatedly describing the action in a match by saying "the pendulum had swung around 360 degrees" after the momentum had just changed.

For the record, Jesse "The Body" Ventura did once correct Gorilla about that, basically reminding Gorilla that, for the momentum to have changed direction, the pendulum would only have swung 180 degrees, and 360 degrees would just have it going the exact same direction. I have no idea about ALL of the cosmic repercussions of that discussion, but I can tell you that Monsoon is now deceased while Ventura is now governor of Minnesota. Just sayin'...

Anyways. Tonight's hockey game on TSN featured Washington and Boston. The commentators talked about how Boston goalie Tim Thomas felt that the Bruins' recent winning streak wasn't a case of Boston overachieving, just a case of "Boston playing to their full potential, and then some".

Uh huh.

I have no idea about ALL of the cosmic reprecussions of that discussion, but I can tell you that Tim Thomas got chased early in the game for basically playing like a pud, and Boston went down 6-0 in the first period and are down 7-1 midway as I type this. Just sayin'...

UPDATE: with 3:27 left in the 2nd Period, the Capitals are now up 8-1. On a goal by Donald Motherfarking Brashear.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hard knock life for the win?

Just watched my first episode of this show in my hotel room here in wonderful Montreal, QC. In this episode, they have picked out a man serving in Iraq that had to leave his half-built home in ruins, his wife is at home with his autistic child, etc. etc.

They demolished the half-built house that was in ruins. Rebuilt the house. Took up a collection of Civil War artifacts for his house, had the mortgage paid off, and everything.

Next episode was some crazy Oprah episode where she had to pick some people blah blah blah.. bottom line, the audition tapes were filled with the saddest hard-luck cases you ever heard.

Please don't get me wrong, I think that it is very nice that shows like this are giving to people who need it.. but the way that these people on the audition tapes talk about their hard luck in life, and why it should let them win.. I don't know, the whole thing just rubs me the wrong way. Exploitation of the worst kind. To make people use their bad breaks in life as a "quick escape".

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Why Dan Harrington is the greatest.

Although I've been really too busy to be thinking too much about poker lately, with some serious work commitments preventing me from going on a raid to Calgary for two big tournaments happening around now, I have still been finding a bit of time to browse around the various websites and publications, and one thing really stuck out for me lately: it was an interview with Dan Harrington in Card Player magazine.

Dan Harrington, in case you don't know, is awesome. He is incredibly skilled, as his lifetime of winnings will attest to. He's also very real-world smart, humble, and realistic about the fact that today's tournament scene is little more than a lottery where your skill level merely means your tickets are slightly likelier to win. All this is detailed in the interview, and that's why it's such a good read.

But it's so much more than that.

In today's game, people are using poker almost as a mere springboard unto becoming a flash-in-the-pan celebrity. The level of theatrics and histrionics that goes on in the game today has gotten so bad, this year's World Series of Poker will actually be implementing rules that threaten penalties for excessive celebrations.

Back in the "olden days" (IE 1995) when Dan Harrington won his World Series championship, he was being interviewed him at the table and was asked the usual rhetoric - "What's it like winning this tournament, how do you feel, blah blah". Dan's response was to set up the cards and tournament chips and go through, step by step, the reasoning that led him through the hand.

Compare that to today, when some Stereotypical Generic Schlub wins his first pot in the first 10 minutes of what needs to be a 100+ hour run to the title, and he's dancing, singing, and generally throwing on a production that would put Rip Taylor to shame. All in an effort to be "flavor of the week" if he gets a couple hundred lucky breaks in two weeks.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: If poker is pro wrestling, Dan Harrington is Bob Backlund. The proof is simple: watch the 1993 WWE Royal Rumble, which was right around the 'cartooniest' era in pro wrestling. Backlund was in it, and the WWE booked him very strong with an over 60+ minute run. You can see countless scenes where the ring is packed with countless over-the-top personas, and right in the middle of it all is Bob Backlund, still with his red trunks and red boots, throwing out actual technical moves.

Of course, if that analogy does prove to be true, the WSOP should be very interesting this year; as any wrestling fan can tell you, Backlund spent his last few years in the WWE with a new gimmick that was basically that of a crazy, unstable old man would snap at the "youth of today". I admit it, I would pay good money to watch Harrington flip out and have a "gimmick" of tearing strips off of showboating internet stars.

As long as he still kept playing good poker, of course!