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.