Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bloggy Mountain Breakdown

Oh, so long overdue, but it is time for an update! Seven months in Babylon, and currently on leave, I have the time to ponder a bit before heading back to do another seven or so (thanks for the 15 month rotations! They REALLY increase morale!). So, here now are seven things I have learned in seven months in Babylon.

1) The Mandolin. The lovely Jennifer denied me something for the first time ever—a banjo. I am sure some of you are “yes, we understand,” while a small, small minority says “but the banjo is so cool!” Not to be discouraged, I went looking for other ways to appease my jangly bluegrass fixations, and a mandolin was approved. Now, I will tell you that I am no Bill Monroe, and certainly not a Flatt or Scruggs (pardon my sacrilege, and my age I can never remember which one was the mandolin player, and which was the banjoist. I am however listening to the Flatt and Scruggs “Bonnie and Clyde” album as I write this and it is beyond phenomenal if you have never heard it). The Mandolin is however a lot of fun to play, and has provided me some fine distractions.

2) My current firm can be taught. Despite all the missteps I have previously related in this blog, the Army of the South Canadian Empire is really actually doing a better job this time around. The proper application of carrot and stick works with the Babylonians, and not to say I told them so, but, I told them so.

3) Anything less than 10 years will not help Babylon. Don’t know that my firm can sustain that.

4) Morale is directly connected to boot comfort.

5) Morale is directly connected to the ability to Skype with the lovely Jennifer.

6) I have given up on Marvel Comics, and really hope DC pulls its head out of its arse. The whole Marvel Civil War/World War Hulk/Dead Captain America/Dead Aunt May thing just blows really. The Marvel universe is just not a fun place to visit anymore. DC did some neat things with the Infinite Crisis and 52, but having events for the sake of events is getting tiresome. Countdown blows, and here’s a novel concept for you; how about focusing on giving me 22 pages of good story. We’ve had the big events, you’ve re-written the universe. Now, go play in the big new sandbox. To completely shoot down my own argument though, let me say I am really enjoying the Sinestro War in the Green Lantern titles. The shadow of Alan Moore falls heavily there though, and I will never forgive them if the kill Mogo-- just so we are clear DiDio.

7) My favorite human is the lovely Jennifer. Still and always. The separations never get easier, and my goal in life is to get to the end of my career so I never have to leave her side again. She is my heart and soul, my night and day, and the love of any life I might have lived or yet live. Even if she won’t let me have a banjo.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Alas, Babylon...

Well, I'm going where the weather suits my clothes. Be safe all, and expect irony laden posts about Babylon soon...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Blurry Vision of a Blurry World

Well, I recently underwent PRK surgery on my eyes, which meant some time sitting at home with the news on- which I couldn't really watch being as I was half-blind and drugged up. As a result, if I remember currectly the current events of the world seem to be a Bald Britney Spears going into Sadr City to bury Anna Nicole Smith but instead finding the Tomb of Jesus, whom Condoleeza Rice said was like the Nazis, but Hillary Clinton said that was OK because she was used to dealing with bad men like Barack Obama who is a Muslim who crashed the stock market and sent a tornado to Enterprise, Alabama. There may have been a commercial about a caveman in there as well. Let's see if I can sort this out.

-Britney: somebody buy her an island, and leave here there with no drugs, booze, or parties for a year. Maybe we can leave her a nice bow and arrow and we can get a superhero out of the deal (shout out to my fellow Green Arrow fans).

-Anna: oh wait, don't care. Apparently, since MSNBC's viewers went up five times during their OJ-like coverage of this bullshit, someone does care. Thanks America, for being vapid.

-Sadr City: private message to Muq Al Sadr (we're tight, I can call him Muq)- tell your people to sit down and shut up. We'll jump at the chance to declare victory, go away and then you exterminate Sunnis all you want. Remember though, they have friends... By the way- pretty amazing and sad to me that news about Iraq in general has taken a second seat to the above tales of woe. Way to support the troops there America!

-The Lost Tomb of Jesus: They know it's the tomb of THE Jesus because of the ministry his mother Mary carried on after his death that most of his followers fell under leading to the spread of Christianity in the Greco Roman world and the latinization of her name which appears on the Ossuary. What was it latinized to, "Paul"? I've read a lot of Jesus-stuff, both dogmatic and not, and no one talks about the Virgin Mary becoming a great Rabbi. They also point out that there's a Matthias in the tomb, and Jesus' great great grandfather on Mary's side was Matthias; so, Joseph didn't live long enough to get buried in this tomb in Jerusalem with the rest of them, but Jesus' great great grandfather did? I'm the first to say that the Gospel writiers wrote what they knew to be true, and that it may not be particularly objective. I'm the first to say that there's more to this Jesus thing than Christian dogma would have us believe. But I think we're going to find out that these names got on these caskets the same way that "James, brother of Jesus" one got there; it was scratched in by the guy who dug it up. I also think that we wouldn't even know enough to recongnize the real thing as possibly being Jesus of Nazareth's tomb if it is out there. Hmm- maybe I'll do some Jesus bloggin' here soon, Babylon not withstanding.

-Condi Rice: She doesn't want to redefine that American mission in Iraq because it would be like redefining what we did in Germany after WWII. Well, as smart guy/smart ass Keith Olberman has already pointed out, we did just that- it was called the Marshall Plan and called for dropping food instead of bombs. Also, I can only wish we treated Iraq after the war like we treated Germany after that war. See, in Germany we took the top Nazis out and hanged them, but the Berlin Dog Catcher, who happened to be a party member so he could have a job, was left in place along with the rest of the government infrastructure. Sure, they all renounced the Reich, but the same folks who were responsible for the sewers on May 8th, 1945 were still responsible for the sewers on May 9th 1945. We sent anyone with a Ba'ath party membership packing and had no replacement governmental infrastructure to handle everyday business. The Baghdad Dog Catcher was a "terrorist". Well, he is now...

- Hillary Clinton: My God; she said something funny that almost made her appear... human. Dems- cut her slack please. If you can't pick on Bill Clinton, who can you pick on?

-Barack Obama: Please be an honest man, please be an honest man...

-Stock Market: Dan's paranoid investment tip for the day. No matter what the condition of the world, from New World Order to New Dark Ages, always invest in medicine, food, and guns- they NEVER loose value! Just ask-

-Enterprise, Alabama: One of the best Mexican resturants I ever ate in was in Enterprise, Alabama. It was about a mile from the statue of the Greek Goddess holding up the boll weevil. The town honors the Boll Weevil because the little bugger destroyed their cotton crop resulting in them having to plant peanuts, which in turn resulted in great prosperity. Those people are survivors, and my prayers are with them in their time of need.

For right or wrong, that's how I see this stuff. And they say news commentary is hard; it's so easy even a caveman could do it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Good and Bad (but not in the greater philosophical sense).

It occurred to me that I have been griping a bit more than usual lately, and I am trying to be generally less gripey. Therefore, though I have something I really want to gripe about I will balance it out with something cool. Ying, Yang, Ohm.

I am not a smoker. I was raised with smokers, and have tried it in the past, but it never stuck. There are times it bugs me, and I believe that people who want to smoke should extend courtesy to others who choose not to. I am however pretty damn tired of anti-smokers. I am tired of crying soccer-moms on TV crying over the fact they have to take lozenges to quit. I am tired of bars and restaurants being told they can't allow smoking; if a restaurant owner wants to restrict smoking, good for him- but it should be the business owner's choice. If I don't want to be around smoking when I eat, I won't go to that restaurant that allows it.

I'm tired of lawsuits against tobacco companies. Yep- they're assholes. Yep, they make their product more addictive. Yep, they suck. So don't smoke. You want to damage them? DON'T BUY THEIR PRODUCT!

"Oh, but mean blog-man, I'm all addicted now and it's their fault I can't quit."

Yeah, Joe Camel came into your house with Phillip and Morris, shoved the cigarette in your mouth and lit it- enough times to hook you. Commercials? You fell for commercials? Most people start as teenagers, giving into peer pressure. Grow up. Put the pack down. Just don't smoke.

"I'm addicted! I can't stop!" You put the pack down and you don't smoke anymore, it's that easy. Yes, you're going to be cranky, and uncomfortable, kind of like I am when I start exercising again after a break in fitness. Please claim a little bit of personal responsibility.

"I didn't know they were dangerous!" OK- if you grew up in America, and you didn't know cigarettes were bad for you, this is Darwin at work trying to pull you out of the gene pool. In 1947 Tex Williams released "Smoke, Smoke Smoke that Cigarette" with such lines as:
Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
Puff, puff, puff until you smoke yourself to death.

Yes, elsewhere in the song he says:
I don't reckon that it'll hinder your health
I smoked 'em all my life and I ain't dead yet...

Tex Williams died of lung cancer. The "whack" sound he heard at death was the irony stick hitting him in the skull.

The point is, who hasn't heard the moniker "cancer stick"? "Coffin nail"? There's been a label on the side of the things for the last 38 years! Smokers consider their habit an acceptable risk. As do alcohol drinkers, doughnut eaters, fried food consumers, people who don't wear seatbelts, coffee drinkers, skydivers, and people who participate in democracy. I don't smoke, and I think it's rude. Should there be a law? No, there should be courtesy.

I've lost people I loved to lung cancer... but no one forced them to smoke.

So what's the good news? I saw Casino Royale, Oh-Shit Guy be damned. Finally, FINALLY someone made a movie about Ian Fleming's Bond. He's callous, brutal, and arrogant. He has no real gadgets, and has to rely on wits and fists as much as nice cars and guns. Daniel Craig is perfect as this steely killer, and this movie has immediately taken the spot of my favorite Bond film (unseating "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" with George Lazenby- oh yeah, I was one of those).

The movie serves as an origin for 007, playing off a lot like "Batman Begins" in that it is a realistic look grounded firmly in our world. He's a little sloppy, but we see Bond learn the tricks of his trade, pick up some certain habits essential to the Bond myth. The movie has plenty of action while still having a lot of the film's tension play out in a poker game. Yeah, I said poker, not baccarat, but for God's sake, who among us could keep up with an onscreen baccarat game? Well, OK, I could, but I only know baccarat because of the original Bond books.

See it, it is the real Bond, James Bond. Can't wait for the next one... Although, should I complain that we don't see him smoking?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Scooby Doo and War with Persia

First, go read this:

Now, here's my take; I blame a lot of the problems of the South Canadian Empire on Scooby-Doo. Oh, you heard me- Scoob screwed us. How did Scooby do this?

1) The bad guy is just out to scare you off, and has no intention of actually doing any damage.

2) You don't need a plan to find an answer, just stumble around in the dark until you find the bad guy's secret stash. This will make your whole plan fall into place.

3) Once you catch and unmask the bad guy, the whole thing is over because every bad guy has the same plan; make yourself all scary and chase off the good guys. As soon as the bad guy is revealed, he is powerless and humiliated.

4) Scappy Doo sucks.

With the possible exception of point four, it would seem even the Great and Powerful W, leader of the South Canadian Empire, used the lessons of Scooby Doo to plan the invasion of Babylon (unless of course you compare Donnie R. to Scrappy... yeah, OK I can see that, point 4 too). The worst part is, we the People are the fooled cousin to Fred or Velma. You know, the cousin who thought they were threatened by the monster/ghost? Then in comes the Mystery Machine, hilarity ensues and thanks to those meddling kids, scary old Mr. Saddam is revealed to just be a guy in a bad mask. Many of us (enough for me to say "we" regardless of what any individual may have said)also let W and his Mystery Machine just completely screw Babylon up. Hey, mistakes were made. We decided to change that. There was an election, and all that ambiguity gets cleared up by the fact that the then ruling party became the minority party faster then Scooby and Shaggy down a bag of... Scooby Snacks. That'll send a message. Now we have advisors (Babylon Study Group), and a clear indication that things should be different.

Oh, it's gonna be different all right- we're going to hit Persia too! See, Emperor W just moved another South Canadian Carrier group into the Persian Gulf. He also just put a Navy Pilot in charge of ground forces in Babylon. Hmm, we don't need aeroplanes or Squids in Baby... Wait! Airstrikes in Persia would need that stuff! Well, so long as we don't like raid a consulate or- D'Oh! (Sorry- mixed my cartoon metaphors.) Jinkies!

Now, my firm is the group that gets Surged; Yes True Believers, I will be back in Babylon "Reel Sune" (to quote Emilio Lizardo). But here's the thing; I am apparently going to act as bait to get the Persians out from behind their wall so we can pick a fight with them too...I am now Shaggy or Scooby sent into the dark cave to draw out the monsters so W's Fred, Daphne, and Velma can jump out and rip the bad guys' masks off- or hit them with an airstrike or two. And I'm not even getting the Scooby Snack or an offer to feel up Daphne later (or Fred for that matter, but honestly my firm frowns on that too).

You would think we would have learned by now that the people living in that part of the world are not just wearing scary masks- they are wearing the vestiments of fanatics, and will kill or die until there is no one left on either side. It is a culture that glorifies death even more than our own, and that's a lot of killin'.

Read my old posts, or just let me reiterate; I think we were right to rip the mask off Saddam, but then we didn't do what we should have to make Babylon work. My fear is it's too late. It's too late to stop two groups who have wanted to whack each other for years from trying to whack each other. Perhaps there is a solution, I hope so.

That solution is not however having Emperor W write a verbal check that my firm's ass can't cover. We can't open another front. Let the Flintstones or Johnny Quest handle the Persians. My firm needs some time resting up in the Mystery Machine. Otherwise when the real monsters come calling, it'll just be Scrappy between us and them...

...and I hate that fucker.