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Showing posts from January, 2018

I Didn't Watch The State of The Union

I didn't watch the State of the Union last night for the first time in what seems like a very long time indeed. I didn't watch it out of some form of virtue-signalling protest. I didn't watch it because it started at about eight o'clock at that is prime time for bedtime for the kids. And anyone with kids will tell you: you don't mess with bedtime.

Also, I just didn't care. I know in some areas of the flaming dumpster fire that is our political discourse these days that's a hanging offense. "You didn't care? How dare you not care! Aren't you against [insert controversy of the week here]?" or my favorite, "Well, you have the privilege of not caring about this stuff." No, it's not about my privilege. (That's an entirely different conversation.) I just genuinely did not care, because it did not matter.

Both ends of the political spectrum live in parallel universes, I decided. They're going to listen to the same speech and…

Sportsyball!

Adopt-A-Team: Well, December was not good to Defensa y Justicia...  since last we checked in on December 7th of last year this is what it's looked like:

L to San Martin
L to San Lorenzo
L to Velez Sarsfield

As a result, Defensa has settled back to 9th place in the Superliga standings... working purely off of the table, I would say that San Lorenzo is probably the most expected of their three losses. (San Lorenzo is currently in second, six points back from Boca Juniors at the top of the table.) San Martin is sort of their mid-table cousins, so I feel like that could have gone either way, but Velez Sarsfield is gettin' down there in the table. Can't be dropping points there, people. But let's see how February shakes out:

Argentinos Juniors
Chacarita Juniors
Tigre
Patronato

They also start the Copa Sudamericana (something I'll have to learn about for the next edition of Sportsyball) with the first of two legs against America de Cali...  but, looking at what's on …

Netflix & Chill #37: A Futile and Stupid Gesture

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2018
Starring: Will Forte, Domnhall Gleeson, Martin Mull, Thomas Lennon, John Gemberling, Matt Walsh, Rock Glassman, Jon Daly, Seth Glass
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Pick: Mine

I was bored and watched this movie on a whim, having absolutely no idea what to expect. The story of the rise of the National Lampoon seemed like it had a lot of potential and could be pretty interesting. And by and large, it was pretty interesting.

The movie opens with an 'older' Doug Kenney (Martin Mull) arguing with someone off camera about how to start the movie about the story of his life. When initially, we see a brightly lit slow motion seen of a young Doug passing some jumping cheerleaders on his way to a funeral, 'older' Doug declares that it's a shitty way to start a movie and instead recommends fast forwarding to his first years at Harvard.

The genesis for National Lampoon started with Doug Kenney (Will Forte) who always seems to declare that he's from Chagr…

This Week In Vexillology #245

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File this under: The More You Know, but Monday is, in fact, Kansas Day. Yes indeedy, our neighbors to the south have a day that celebrates their admission to the Union in 1861. According to Wikipedia:Annual Kansas Day celebrations include school field trip and special projects to study the history of Kansas, pioneer-style meals, special visits by students to the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas, performances of Home On The Range, the Kansas State Song, and special proclamations by the Governor of Kansas and members of the Kansas Legislature. If that doesn't sound like an excuse to get lit and party, I don't know what does! (Though in another fact for 'The More You Know' file, I didn't know that 'Home On The Range' was the Kansas State Song.) But, in honor of Kansas Day you might be able to guess what flag we're going to look at this week...  that's right... it's Kansas: Adopted September 24, 1961, the flag of Kansas is...  sigh. Well, put it …

Psephology Rocks: The Most Interesting Election You've Never Heard Of

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There's an election this weekend that's getting pretty much no attention in the American media (because, the President might have tried to do a thing sometime maybe possibly, we're not sure) and I'm honestly not sure how much attention it's getting overseas either- outside of the country in question that is. But to me, this is probably one of the most interesting elections you've never heard of in a country you probably weren't expecting. That's right: Cyprus is heading to the polls this weekend and it's kind of a big deal.

So, first, for those that don't know- here's Cyprus:


(If you're looking for an easy way to find it, well, find Turkey and head south. If you've reached Egypt you've gone too far.) You see the little dotted line running through the island? That dotted line is what makes this election so damn interesting to me, because you see since 1989, Europe's last divided capitol has been right there in along that dotte…

What Is 'Americanism' Anyway?

January means that the State Legislature is back in session down in Des Moines and now that they are, the usual mix of "ugh, really?" to "what the hell are they thinking?" legislative proposals are starting to leak out. One early example of the latter category has been the bill floating around to create 'Bible Literacy' classes in Iowa's public schools. (There are already 'Bible As Literature' courses out there as well as other courses on the religions of the world, which makes this proposal something of a head scratcher.) Plenty of people have weighed in on that proposal already, but the other example that made me scratch my head a bit was a proposal to require more emphasis on 'Americanism and patriotism' in Iowa's schools.

I know this proposal is coming from a good place and perhaps even a valuable place. The sacrifices of our veterans should not be forgotten and yes, our children should be graduating from high school with a solid…

Albums2010 #97: Melodrama

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The end of a year usually brings with it multiple 'best of [insert year here]' lists, so for this month I went down the rabbit hole of a couple of 'Best Albums of 2017' lists before finally deciding to give Lorde's album, Melodrama, a listen. I was, of course, familiar with Lorde thanks to her hit single 'Royals' (which was apparently inspired by an old photo of George Brett of the Kansas City Royals, which is a fact that still tickles me to this day.) I had not, however, given a full album of hers a listen and as everyone who knows more about these things seemed to think that this album was pretty awesome, I gave it a go.

Melodrama opens with 'Green Light' which is seems kind of an odd start to the album, but grabs you with the chorus ('I'm waiting for it/that green light/I want it') and pulls you into and once you're in, you're in with this album. The next track that grabbed my attention was 'Homemade Dynamite' which is …

This Week In Vexillology #244

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I did the research for the flags this month last month and then I forgot why I picked the flags I picked so have had to dive back into Wikipedia to figure out why I picked 'em and this week, it took me awhile to figure out why I selected the Pitcairn Islands- turns out they were first discovered on January 26th, 1606 by Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queiros. The islands were made more famous by the Mutiny on the Bounty and they remain a British Overseas Territory today, though with a dwindling population. (Unfortunately, they attracted a certain amount of infamy about ten years back when seven men- which accounted for nearly a third of their population, were charged with a variety of sexual offenses.) This is their flag:
The flag of the Pitcairn Islands is similar to the flag of a lot of other former British colonies or overseas territories- the Union Flag is in the canton and the coat of arms for the Islands are in the fly. The coat of arms features a shield depicting an…

Squawk Box: The Crown, Season 2

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Season 2 of The Crown consumed a hefty chunk of my December and it's with no small amount of sadness that we bid the current cast goodbye at the end of the season to be replaced the next season with brand new faces. Olivia Colman is the only officially confirmed replacement I've seen so far- she's stepping into the role of The Queen, while rumors of Helena Bonham-Carter taking over as Princess Margaret from the excellent Vanessa Kirby are swirling I don't think that's been confirmed yet and I have no idea who's replacing Matt Smith as Prince Phillip.

The season opens with Elizabeth and Phillip discussing the state of their marriage aboard the royal yacht in Lisbon, recognizing that divorce is not an option and that they're stuck with each other. Five months earlier, Elizabeth becomes convinced that Phillip is having an affair after finding a photo of Russian ballerina in his briefcase. Harold MacMillan tries to convince Prime Minister Anthony Eden not to p…

'9-1-1' and the Importance of Being Seen

The debut of Fox's new show '9-1-1' was something I had circled on my internal calendar for awhile now. I had initially heard that it was in development last summer, starring Angela Bassett. I was excited about it, because the initial news seemed to be that the show was going to be about 911 Dispatchers. Turns out, it includes police and fire as well as 911 dispatchers, which was a little disappointing, because there are plenty of shows about police and firefighters, but precious few about dispatchers, but what the heck, I thought. I'll take it.

It's not something I write about often and when I do, its usually pretty tangentially, but I've been working as a 911 Dispatcher for the local campus police for nearly a decade now. Having long since resigned myself to the fact that dispatch will forever be a voice on the radio when it comes to television and movies (or the cops will just magically know where to go) I was excited to see that someone was taking the time …

Boozehound Unfiltered: Russell's Reserve

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A delicious addition to my collection courtesy of the Parentals for Christmas, I had no idea what to expect from Russel's Reserve other than a my Dad telling me that it was Cask Strength and therefore likely to be a little strong. I got a chance to have a wee dram of it to celebrate The Youngest Spawn being born and finally got a proper tasting in late last week and I can report that it is indeed, strong stuff. But that doesn't mean it's not delicious either.

Russell's Reserve is a Single Barrel Bourbon matured in American White Oak barrels It's non-chill filtered and a hefty 110 proof. (The description also references an 'alligator' char, but I have no earthly idea what that might be other than, 'it makes this stuff tastier.') This delicious stuff falls under the wings of Wild Turkey (which to be honest, I enjoy greatly. Probably more than I enjoyed Maker's Mark, though I should probably revisit that at some point) and is the brainchild of the …

Netflix & Chill #36: Bright

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2017
Starring: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, Ike Barinholtz
Rotten Tomatoes: 27%
Pick: Mine

Set in an alternate version of the present where human rub shoulders with orcs, elves, centaurs and dwarves after fighting with them for thousands of years, Bright opens with LAPD Officer Darryl Ward (Will Smith) returning to duty after being out of action due to being shot by an orc. Ward is reluctantly partnered with Nick Jackoby (Joel Edgerton), the nation's first orkish police officer. Humans aren't crazy about him due to his race, orcs hate him because of his position and to top it all off Ward isn't crazy about his partner because Jackoby apparently let the assailant that shot him get away.

Responding to a report of a crazy man waving a sword around, they find a Shield of Light devotee, whom Ward and Jackoby arrest and take back to the station. On the way back there, he tells Jackoby in Orkish that two officers are …

This Week In Vexillology #243

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This Week In Vexillology, we're heading over to Africa, but not for another trip into our 'lost' archives, but for the flag of MOSOP or the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. Here's what their flag looks like: The Ogoni people live in the Niger Delta in what today is the Rivers State along the coast of Nigeria just east of Port Harcourt. Why do they have a movement and a flag? Well, back in the 1950s Royal Dutch/Shell found a commercial viable oil field in the Niger River Delta and began oil production. Normally, you wouldn't think that would be all that much of a problem beyond the normal risks for oil spills and other nonsense, but then, there's this- according to Wikipedia, between 1976 to 1991 there were reportedly 2,976 oil spills which amounts to about 2.1 million barrels, but the horrifying part is that those spills in this area alone accounted for about 40% of Royal Dutch/Shell spills worldwide.
Thanks to such environmental neglect, five deca…

Fire and Fury, Signifying Nothing

I want to preface this by saying the following: I'm a registered Independent that hates both of the two parties with a heat of a thousand fiery suns. I didn't vote for the current President- he is most definitely not my cup of tea. But the latest political hot button issue of the week (that is, until Oprah stole the show at the Golden Globes on Sunday) finds me in the uncomfortable position of wondering if those opposed to this current administration might have finally gone too far.

Michael Woolf's allegedly explosive book Fire and Fury on the Trump White House has been flying off the shelves. It's the new Fifty Shades of Grey and everyone is dying to read it. There seemed to be a groundswell of feeling this past week that by God, if we can't pin Russia on him, we'll just say he's crazy. That'll do it for sure.

Never mind the fact that President Mike Pence wouldn't exactly be an improvement on the current occupant of the White House. Never mind the …

Kidlit: The Berenstain Bears

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Editor's Note: A New Year means it's time to play around with new features here on the blog, so I'm pleased to present the first edition of Kidlit, which will be a mixture of reviews, commentary and thoughts on the books that my kiddos are either reading or making me read to them.

Both the Elder Spawn and the newly promoted Medium Spawn love books, but while the Elder Spawn loves reading a book, the Medium Spawn has a mild obsession with them. I honestly think that if he could keep you in a room reading books to him for the entire day, he would and of late, he's been especially into The Berenstain Bears.
The Berenstain Bears had a weird moment in the pop culture zeitgeist a couple of years back, when many insisted that they were the proof that we have, in fact, slipped into an alternate timeline of some kind, as there are many people who would swear blind that they remember read about The Berenstein Bears and not The Berenstain Bears. While the election of our current P…

Netflix & Chill #35: Silence

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Watched On: Amazon Prime
Released: 2016
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Tadanobu Asano, Ciaran Hinds, Liam Neeson
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Pick: Mine

Silence is a beautiful adaptation of a beautiful, moving book of the same name by Shusaku Endo. It opens with a Jesuit Priest, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) witnessing the torture of both his fellow priests and then the Japanese converts he has been trying to bring Christianity too. He seems rooted to the spot an unable to help any of them in anyway, only to describe the horrors that he is witnessing.

The movie then cuts to a few years later at a church in Macau, where Father Valignano (Ciaran Hinds) receives word that Father Ferreira has renounced his faith after undergoing the torture of the pit in Nagasaki. His students Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garupe (Adam Driver) persuade Father Valignano that they should go and find out the truth of what has happened to Father Ferreira. Valignano is dubious at first, as Japan i…

This Week In Vexillology #242

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Two hundred and forty two of these posts later and we're into a new year and facing some new challenges: I'm starting to run out of flags. I don't know how I'm going to take these posts up a notch in 2018, but I'm going to try and dig a little deeper and go some places we've never been before and revisit some we have. So, This Week In Vexillology, we're heading back to Lithuania.

My original post on Lithuania was all the way back on March 22nd, 2014 and it's a bit...  slim. Slimmer than I would like, to be totally honest. Yes, Marko Ramius is from Vilnius and yes, you can make obscure references to The Hunt for Red October if you want, but if you go a little deeper, there's more to Lithuania than meets the eye. For instance, January 1st is Flag Day in Lithuania, which marks the anniversary of the day the Lithuanian flag was raised on Gediminas' Tower in 1919.

We've looked at the Lithuanian tricolor already, so let's take a peek at their C…

Bookshot #104: The Fall of Hyperion

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The end of Hyperion was damn near perfect: it finished off an incredible piece of literature and left me begging for more and happily, its sequel, The Fall of Hyperion ties up everything left over from the first book and brings the fates of all the characters to an amazingly satisfying conclusion. While Hyperion is structured around each of the seven pilgrims telling their story drawing on things like the Decameron and Chaucer's Cantebury Tales for inspiration, The Fall of Hyperion focuses more on the John Keats characters from the first book, introducing a second reincarnation, Joseph Severn, an artist.

When Severn dreams, he dreams of the pilgrims from Hyperion and what they are currently doing, which is of great interesting to the CEO of the Hegemony, Meina Gladstone who is monitoring the situation on Hyperion and what the believe to be the impending invasion of the 'Ousters.' While the political struggles and tensions within the Hegemony rise throughout the book, the p…

The [Insert Number Here] Predictions for 2018

Resolutions are a popular game this time of year, but so is the most dangerous game of all: predictions. The [Insert Number Here] Predictions for 2018 is a common sight this time of year, but I think it's a lot more fun than blathering on about what a cleansing time of renewal the new year is, so I'm going to have some fun and offer Five Predictions for the Year Ahead. Let's see how wrong I'm going to be!

First, the Democratic Party will take back the House. (They might be able to snag the Senate as well, but I feel like even with the Alabama win, their path is a lot narrower in the Senate than it is in the House.) I also think that on the state level, Democrats will take back a chamber of the Legislature and that Iowa won't send Kim Reynolds back to the Governor's Mansion. I don't know if early indications of Branstad fatigue are real or just wishful thinking at this point, but the Democrats have a deep field with some serious candidates and if there was a…

5 For 2018

1. Getting another tattoo: Yeah, yeah, you all heard this last year, but the crazy part is that I know exactly what I want, I know where I'm going to get it, I just need to stash away some ducats and get some time to go and do it. Didn't get it done in 2017, so onto the list for 2018 it goes!

2. Finishing my Year of Books: despite the seven books on my list from last year that I didn't read, the overall goal of my Year of Books was more than met. I'll be honest with y'all: I have book reviews scheduled out until March- that's how much reading I've gotten done. The original idea was a germ of a notion I picked up from Stephen King's On Writing (at least I think so), but basically it was this: to be a better writer, read everything. So, onward and upward to finish off my list:

The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Ulysses, James Joyce
Use of Weapons, Ia…