Archive for April, 2008

I Don’t Even Know Where to Start….

Monday, April 28th, 2008

There’s so much going on in this news story, I can’t even wrap my mind around it all. A couple in New Mexico was watching a porn movie, and the woman thought one of the “actors” was her boyfriend. As in, the guy she’s watching the movie with. For some reason, this upsets her, so she grabs a knife and tries to kill him.

First, the man told the 911 dispatcher that the woman “already has battery charges against her,” and was apparently under a restraining order. I suppose Movie Night was their way of reconciling. Second, the woman was so incensed that she chased the guy out of the house even while her eight-month-old baby was inside. For that brainstorm, she added a child abuse charge.

What I really don’t get is how this confusion arose in the first place. You’d think if the movie star really was the victim here, he would know it was one of his roles when they popped in the dvd or whatever. I’d think you’d really want to know how someone would react to that before you spring your home movies on them.

Also, how could she be so sure? I swear I’m not an expert or anything, but I figured the guys in most (straight) pornos were pretty fungible, unless we’re talking Dirk Diggler here. Or maybe the man in the film used the guy’s “move.”

Finally, I have a suggestion for the woman’s defense on these charges. She should claim she intended an honor killing to redeem the man’s immorality. What? It doesn’t work that way? Oh well…never mind.

(story link via Voucher Ankles)

50 Book Challenge #7: Midnight Rambler

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Midnight Rambler by James Swain. (Amazon, B&N, Powell’s) This was highly entertaining, one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a while. Swain’s hero is ex-cop Jack Carpenter, an expert in finding missing persons. He took down the notorious Simon Skell, aka The Midnight Rambler, a serial kidnapper and killer, but went a little overboard making the arrest. His actions and his larger obsession with the Rambler case cost Carpenter his job and marriage. As the novel starts, he’s doing some private-eye work to make ends meet, but has generally turned into a beach bum on the outskirts of Ft. Lauderdale.

But one of the victims of the Rambler shows up buried in a back yard, and it appears that Skell will go free. And another woman has been taken. So Jack has to race against time to connect Skell to both cases and prevent the Midnight Rambler from striking again.

Okay, so that sounds a little overdone. But the story was well-paced and well-told. There are some very tense scenes, and some well-written action sequences. I could easily see this book being turned into a movie.

One thing that might help that along is the plethora of product placement in the book. I suppose it’s intended to add realism, but it becomes amusing after a point. Although it’s not all flattering — I doubt Disney and McDonald’s are happy about their treatment.

A couple of quibbles. First, I wish Jack had been a tad more flawed. As it is, his only real “flaw” is the dammit-I-care-too-much non-flaw. The story would have been darker, but perhaps more interesting, if Carpenter had been suspected of the murders, or at least had a drinking problem, or something. He’s a tad too righteous, which is probably why most people don’t like him.

Also, the title of the story comes from the killer’s obsession with the eponymous Rolling Stones song. He plays it over and over as he tortures his victims. I listened to the audiobook, and I think it would have been a great touch to have the song playing in the background during those scenes. I guess the Stones weren’t willing to give up the rights, but it would have been a cool feature. To attempt to address this minor drawback, enjoy the song via the player below.

All in all, though, Midnight Rambler is a taut, gripping thriller with a memorable villain and a protagonist worthy of a series, or at least a sequel. A solid A-. Definitely recommended if you’re into the genre.

(Previous 50 Book Challenge reviews)

Big, Bad, Stupid-Looking…An Exact Match…

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

It’s not often one sees perfectly flawless logic, so it’s worth taking note of. Apparently, according to a South Carolina “minister,” the street design of Washington, DC, includes an upside-down pentagram. (The linked article has a map.) The Federal City is thus supposed to be some kind of conduit for Satan. It explains so much!

I wonder if this shocking news will cause the Pope to change his plans for his upcoming visit. Of course, I’m sure plenty of anti-papists see that visit as a sign that DC’s Dark Lord Bat Signal is working.

My opinion is that true pagans know that Satan doesn’t need a paved invitation. But I think the real lesson here is to never let a Frenchman design your town.

(Photo and subject line from Dragnet. The picture is from when Joe and Pep go undercover as members of P.A.G.A.N., People Against Goodness and Normalcy. The subject line isn’t strictly relevant, but it’s my favorite line from the movie.)

In Which I Reject the Conventional Wisdom

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I like these pictures of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan just after Ford beat back Reagan’s challenge for the 1976 GOP nomination, and moments later when Reagan endorsed Ford. It’s by noted White House photographer David Hume Kennerly. (A few more Ford-era shots here; link via TNR’s The Plank.) Longtime readers know of my affection for President Gerald Ford, but that’s not the only reason I like them. I like how they shows that behind-the-scenes animosities during a presidential campaign can be set aside so everyone can make nice in front of the cameras.

I think the same thing will happen in this year’s Democratic race. I don’t think Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will ever become bosom chums, and probably won’t end up on the same ticket, but they’ll say all the right things and the loser will even campaign for the winner. This is why I’m not panicked that the race isn’t over yet.

I’ll also point to this note that the extended Dem race has added lots of Dem voters to the rolls; that’s a positive for the party. And I agree with Matthew Yglesias that most of these people really won’t defect to Sen. McCain in November. Most importantly, I think the very tough Democratic race will toughen up the winner — beating the other candidate for the nomination might be tougher than beating Sen. John McCain. Regardless of the bad blood so far, and regardless of the allure of Sen. Obama’s appeal for a new kind of politicking, enough Democrats will want to win badly enough to do what needs to be done. Even if it means voting for Hillary Clinton.

Speaking of that, it boggles me to see people importuning her to drop out, on the notion that she can’t catch up in pledged delegates. I guess the principle is that the winner of the popular vote should be declared the winner and simply confirmed by the superdelegates. But how does that make sense when she won the most votes in Texas but got fewer delegates than Obama? I say the superdelegates should feel free to vote for whomever they like (especially whomever they feel will stand the best chance against McCain), regardless of the delegate count. That’s why they’re there, after all. If the Dems want to change that system after this election, fine. But it’s there now and should be allowed to work as planned. It’s a somewhat antidemocratic institution, to be sure, but that’s not inherently bad. The Senate is a somewhat antidemocratic institution, and most people are fine with it.

Finally, invoking President Ford’s 1976 campaign may not be the most pleasant association for this year’s Democrats, of course. Ford lost, and it’s possible that some of that was owed to Reagan “weakening” Ford. But they way I see it, even with the Reagan challenge, even with the Nixon pardon, even with losing Vietnam on his watch, even with vice-presidential candidate Bob Dole skeezing everybody out a little, even with “Saturday Night Live” mocking him relentlessly, and even with the biggest throw-the-bums-out landslide in ages, Ford still almost beat Jimmy Carter.

I think the truer analogue to this year’s Democratic race is the 1968 election. Time will tell, however, whether it’s more like the 1968 Democratic race (where the Clinton character, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, beat the Obama-esque combo of Sens. Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, but the contest tore the party asunder) or the 1968 GOP race (where the Clinton analogue, Richard Nixon, handled the Obamian Ronald Reagan and squeaked by in the general, with Reagan getting a turn a few elections later).

This Post Was Written With Words

Friday, April 4th, 2008

On tv recently I saw a McDonald’s commercial about how great the ingredients in its food are. The eggs are fresh, the salads are green, etc. When they showed some beef and extolled its beefiness or whatever, there was fine print on the screen that said something like “McDonald’s beef is USDA-inspected.” That struck me as an odd way to put it. At first, that makes it sound like it’s special beef, but then I thought about it a little. Isn’t all beef inspected? Answer: yes! I suppose McDonald’s wants to confuse people into thinking their beef is graded, but there is a difference between inspecting and grading. I know this is a very minor entry on the list of mendacities perpetrated by fast-food companies. But this one just seemed particularly moronic.