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April 28, 2003

I must admit that I find Jackass extremely funny. I love the fact that the show has basically taken the normal plodding rate of dipshit self-destruction (as celebrated in The Darwin Awards) and turned it into a supercharged-nitro-funny-car race. Teens across America are watching dangerous but non-lethal feats of stupidity, and then re-enacting them sloppily in even more dangerous or even lethal forms. I personally played with matches, gasoline, kerosene, firecrackers, model rocket engines, freon, hairspray, throwing stars, all manner of knives, swords, bows and crossbows, BB and pellet guns, slingshots... and so did most of my (male) peers! (I have no idea what the girls my age were doing at the time.) But we all had the sense to be careful because we recognized that these things were really dangerous, and we definitely didn't want to get hurt permanently. Heck, I almost lost the tip of my right thumb to a cute little hermit crab! Tenacious little buggers, aren't they? Instead I got a purple and black thumb for a couple of weeks, and what did I learn? I learned that I could be hurt. In my opinion, when kids turn about 9 or 10, and they start to be allowed to play outside without constant supervision, a lot of what they do is to test limits, of the world around them and of themselves. This includes "what can I get away with and not get hurt / in trouble?" They get scraped up by thorny bushes, they fall off their bikes and get all scabby, maybe they break a bone, etc. Hopefully it surprises them, hurts like hell, and maybe they or a friend gets a scar, or a finger that isn't quite straight, etc. and they realize that they can be permanently hurt if they're not really careful. From then on all stunts are designed with a balance of daring and safety.

Having seen Jackass I can say that I think these guys know their limits, and their limits of acceptable pain and injury are beyond that of most people. The reason it's funny instead of impressive or sad is that they say "ow damn that hurts" when they get hurt. They're not tough - tough guys pretend it doesn't hurt. They're just nuts. Their self-destructive bufoonery is funny because it's so outrageous, so dangerous, so freaking stupid. They're not going to break any world records or demonstrate superhuman abilities. They're going to fall down and hit their heads, and you're going to laugh. (Or at least I am.) If kids are doing this, they are either too young to know better (why are parents letting their kids watch TV unsupervised at that age?) or they are old enough and they too are stupid, and we are better off from having their stupid asses getting hurt before they're old enough to get behind the wheel and hurt someone else.

Here's a radical idea: don't park your dumb kids in front of the boob toob, tuned to basic cable, and expect them to grow up smart.

What the hell is the point of Dragonball Z? The few times I've seen a part of it, it looks like the anime version of pro "wrestling". Haircuts only an artichoke could love, cartoon muscles of steroid proportions, and dialogue that consists mostly of barbaric yawps and grunts. I can see how a kid might buy a few dolls, oh wait we don't market them that way to boys, I mean "action figures", and then just make 'em fight. Is that all there is too it? The cartoon is just a surrogate for the limited amount of imagination it takes a kid to make Doll A beat the crap out of Doll B? I don't get it.

April 26, 2003

Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas is the coolest palindrome ever.

April 11, 2003

Spring break, woo hoo! I still have to work but at least the pressure from school is temporarily off. Now I can catch up on my homework assignments and on my work assignments. :)

I recently came across this story which basically claims that the now-ubiquitous footage of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Fardus Square being toppled over was staged. OK, I can see that there aren't many people in the photo, but I went back and looked at video footage from the moment the statue was being toppled over, and there really were at least a hundred people standing there, jumping up and down and cheering, and none of them looked like U.S. soldiers to me. I suspect that the wide-angle picture was taken a while after the act itself, and people had dispersed.

This discrepancy fits into a pattern that I've noticed lately that disturbs me. I see myself more or less as a liberal, and yet the media that I have come to trust over the past few years is showing a remarkable amount of bias regarding the war, without much to back it up. I'm concerned that the radical-left position I'm seeing manifested in the SF Bay Guardian, such as in the ridiculous The New Vietnam story, or this claim that the statue toppling was a staged propaganda act, are just as one-sided as the Fox News jingoism and Bush's own born-again Christian chest-thumping that they oppose. Is it too hard to imagine that the reason a U.S. vehicle was used to pull the statue down was that it was handy? The Iraqis were bashing the pedestal with a sledgehammer, then trying to pull the statue down with just a rope. Should our soldiers have refused to allow their vehicle to be used? "Sorry dude, you have to go loot yourself a crane, we don't do statues." Nonsense. Just because we helped, and there's a picture taken at some time afterwards which shows fewer people, doesn't mean it didn't happen the way the videocameras caught it, nor that it was a staged media event. It could have been, of course, but as with all conspiracy theories, just because it's possible at all doesn't mean that it's true.

Sadly, now I have a much higher degree of skepticism about anything that comes out of the Guardian or any of the independent media sources. Of course there are plenty of online wackos who are willing to reinterpret or just plain lie about the history of the Nazi party in the late 1930's in order to make the Bush/Hitler comparison fit exactly, but that wasn't coming from what I thought was a credible source.

Recently seen on a bumper sticker: Regime change begins at home. Also, My child was inmate of the month at county jail.

April 6, 2003

What happens when you cross a martial arts video game and a kung fu movie and maybe some silly fake wrestling melodrama with a cooking show?

You get King of Iron Chefs Tournament. Extremely entertaining. If you get the Food Network I highly recommend that you catch the next show which is on Saturday at 10 pm.