Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books week...the week when we celebrate the freedom of choice and the freedom of expression. Just because someone write something that you don't agree with does not mean that it is wrong or that other people will not enjoy reading it. Banning books is one of the first steps to destroying our freedoms and individuality. Here are the top ten books that had complaints filed against them in 2007 (wow, not a Harry Potter? it has been a while since that happened)...and the top ten of the 21st century (through 2005 at least) I suggest you read them all.

10 Most Challenged Books of 2007

  1. And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell - Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
  2. "The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier - Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
  3. Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes - Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language
  4. The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman - Reasons: Religious Viewpoint
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain - Reasons: Racism
  6. The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker - Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,
  7. "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle - Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
  8. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou - Reasons: Sexually Explicit
  9. It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris - Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit
  10. "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky - Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

10 Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century (2000-2005)

  1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  2. "The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
  3. Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  4. "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck
  5. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
  6. "Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers
  7. It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
  8. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
  9. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
  10. "Forever" by Judy Blume

I find it depressing that some people in this country must try to tell others what to think or read. I think most people are smart enough to read what they like and avoid what they don't, so do we really need to ban a book? Only because you are afraid of it. Books are books and most people will not believe everything they read, so lets read and have a discussion instead of living in fear. I have read about half of them from both lists, I hope to read the rest soon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Dreams...Crushed

It was a Woot Off the other day over at http://www.woot.com/. A Woot Off is when Woot! sells all the small remaining quantities of left over products at reduced prices for the limited quantities. On a Woot Off the product changes as soon as one product is sold out...instead of Woot's normal business model of a single product for 24 hours. So you must keep reloading constantly to try to get a great deal.

The crowning jewel of the woot off is the Bags of Crap (BOC). These are not the Flaming Bags of Crap that you might find on your front porch when someone rings your doorbell in the middle of the night. Woot Bags of Crap are random mystery items thrown together and sold for $1. You can get up to three bags of crap and pay one one shipping charge...so three bags of crap with shipping only costs you $8. What do you get for your hard earned money? You have to wait to find out when it arrives. You could get an MP3 player, you could get a product missing chords, instructions, batteries, etc... What you are really buying is hope. You hope you get something amazing like the 65" LCD television. You probably won't. Most likely you will get a box of random stuff that you really don't need or have a use for...crap. But there is always the hope that you will strike oil. This hope is well worth the $8.

Hetero-Life Pal CT has received a few bags of crap and gotten such things as a ipod speaker pillow, a case of 2008 Tuscany calendars (which I am enjoying at my desk right now), and a GI Joe bracelet...amongst other things. I had never actually seen a Bag of Crap pop up on Woot!. Demand is high, supplies low. They disappear within seconds. I had only heard the stories and I basked in their warm glow while telling myself "One day that will be me, opening my wonderful bag of crap!" Well this last Woot Off (Tues & Wed), I finally hit refresh and Bag of Crap appears on my screen. I squeal like a pre-pubescent little girl and hit "I Want One." Imagining the opening my BOC, I am almost quivering with hope, joy, nervousness, and an "I am King of the World" brashness. This glorious moment will be marked as a triumph in history...when good vanquished evil. I get the following message. "Server Too Busy." Hope dies a little. I hit reload. "Server Too Busy." Reload. Order page pops up, hope flares...Submit order quickly! "Server Too Busy." Hope failing...reload. "Server Too Busy." Reload. "Server Too Busy." Reload.....loading....waiting....loading....waiting. "Product Sold Out."

NOOOOOoooooooooo! Khan!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I Like Musicals (and I am not gay)

For some reason, I really like musicals. Broadway type shows or movies. I am not gay. I think I like them because I have no singing or dancing talent myself...as anyone who has seen me dance or sing karaoke can confirm. I just really like music in general, so while watching a play or movie I get that extra added connection with a musical.

I didn't realize how much I liked musicals until a couple years ago when I was entering information on my myspace site. When listing what movies I like, I realized that most if not all were musicals. Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Nightmare Before Christmas, Labyrinth, Amadeus, Death to Smoochy, Singin' in the Rain, etc... There is just something about them that gets stuck inside my head.

Music is very powerful to me so even just a really good soundtrack can boost a movie's appeal in my mind...but when it is a great movie/play with a great soundtrack it is hard to beat. Think about The Crow. It was a great movie and the soundtrack was awesome. Every time I hear any of those songs (like Burn by the Cure or Big Empty by STP), I am reminded of The Crow and can't imagine the movie without its soundtrack. I don't think it would have been nearly as moving and powerful. Music has the ability to make the good great and the mediocre almost good. Think Rocky Horror Picture Show...the movie is god awful but I have watched it many many times just because I enjoy the music so much. It is similar to how mini corn-dogs at Billy Joe's are able to make the mental scarring that Norbit inflicts worthwhile. Music just makes things better. Did you watch Beavis and Butthead for their stupid cartoon adventures? Hell no, you watched it for the rocking videos...and the commentary they provided to go along. That is why the Beavis and Butthead movie was just average. They took out the best part of the show and the movie soundtrack ended up being a parody of what it should have been. I give it a D+, if it had great music it could have been so much more.

The whole reason I bring this up is because I really want to go see Sweeney Todd at Stephen's Auditorium in Ames on Wednesday. I have actually been wanting to see the play for several years but it has never been close (actually I don't know if it has even toured before). Unfortunately, my financial situation at this time will probably forbid me from doing so. This makes me very sad. I am very much in the mood for some songs about revenge, killing, and cannibalism.

To sooth my empty aching soul, I have been enjoying Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Dr Horrible is a mini-musical that Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) made while the writer's strike was going on last winter. Three acts were released in July over the interwebicon for the world's amusement. It is incredible...Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) as an evil genius in love. Check out the trailer...although it is not nearly as good as the blog itself. Unfortunately, the actual episodes are no longer on the website but can be downloaded from Itunes (a DVD is supposedly coming soon). There are snippets on youtube and other places but I highly recommend finding the whole thing sometime.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Have Achieved Cartoon Idiocy

Last week I did something that I always thought was not actually possible...just one of those stupid things that happens in cartoons. You know the scene where Daffy or Tom from Tom and Jerry steps on a rake and it smacks them in the face? I remember thinking as a kid that it was so dumb and cliche because who is stupid enough to step on a rake? Well folks, turns out that I am that stupid. I was cleaning out a section of my garage, turned around and the edge of the my foot hit the rake and BAM! Right in the eye. I expected to see stars or little birds flying around my head. I didn't but it was hard enough that I felt a little faint and was sore for days. Luckily it didn't give me a black eye or I would have had to use the excuse that I "ran into a door" when I was with the GF-Unit.

Anyhow, I just want to say that Sylvester, Wile E Coyote, Tom the Cat, Sideshow Bob, and all the rest of the lovable cartoon bad guys that I feel your pain with the rakes. And yes it really does hurt! No longer will I live in ignorance and laugh when a cartoon character is smacked in the face with a gardening tool. We must stop cartoon violence now! It is not funny people!

Plans for this week:

  1. Strap some rockets to my roller skates
  2. Fire myself out of a cannon
  3. Stick my fingers in the barrel of a shotgun
  4. Try to run through a tunnel painted onto a cliff
  5. Get a giant U shaped magnet


Michael - Super Genius

I think I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yes, I'm Lazy

Yes, I have been extremely lazy lately and have not really felt like posting. I have been going through a patch of insomnia so everything is a little hazy around the edges as it is, so going off on some crazy rant would probably be even more worthless and sucky than normal.

Maybe soon though.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ticket Prices - You Suck!

So they recently announced that Metallica is going to be playing Des Moines. I like Metallica (used to love Metallica but that was before they started writing crappy music) and have seen them many times in concerts. Even though I don't necessarily like their newer music (have you actually listened to St Anger? It is horrible), their concerts were always killer. Where else can you hear a few thousand people chanting "Die, Die, Die"...I'm sure there are other places to hear that but I doubt I would feel safe. Note it's not as cool as a Marilyn Manson concert where a few thousand are chanting "We hate love, we love hate" but still "Die, die, die" is spine tingling.

I was excited about the news, it has been several years since I last saw Metallica in concert...that excitement died when ticket prices where announced. $56 for reserved seating, $76 for general admission. WTF? $20 more for me to stand? I like standing and think it offers the best concert experience but since when can they charge 20 bucks more? Also, I don't mind paying money for a good show, I am not cheap but really is Metallica at the $75 and $95 level of entertainment (after tax and fees)? To someone like me...No, they are not worth it. Not when their concerts have become less about the music and more about spectacle over the years. Remember seeing Metallica just stand up their and fucking rock? But then there was the tour with the collapsing stage and the fake fire and "let's pretend our amps don't work" bullshit. That was all crap to me. I don't need it and in fact it was distracting. I want them to stand up there and just play music that rips the ass out of you. I don't think they can do it anymore...at least not well enough for me to pay $75 - to be forced to sit in a seat. Sorry Metallica...just one more thing about you that pisses me off.

Ok, what the fuck is up with ticket fees? Have you noticed? Tickets fees (the fees charged by the ticket company ontop of the ticket price) are out of control. Fees for 1 Metallica ticket are $14...remember back in the early 1990s when Pearl Jam had a big fight with Ticket Master over these type of fees? Back then fees were between $3-$5. It is bullshit. What is my $14 paying for? Okay, $1 of that is listed as a facility fee. WTF? Facility Fee? I am buying a ticket to a show at your facility...why doesn't my ticket price cover this fee? It is like ordering a hamburger from McDonalds and having them charge you an extra dollar because you used their restaurant. What a load of shit. The other $13 is listed as a "Convenience Fee." Convenient for whom? Defintiely not me. $13 - if it was a convenience fee, it makes it sound like you are doing something that causes them extra work but is more convenient for you - so you should be able to get out of it right? Nope. If you order on-line, at a ticket master location, or even at the venue box office you are still charged this convenience fee (with the exception of the Val Air box office - you guys rock!). I understand Ticket Master needs to cover their costs and make a little money - I am fine with paying some sort of fee...but $13 seems exhorbanant. Plus calling it a convenience fees is just like rubbing salt in the wound. You know they are laughing everyday about this. But it is not just Ticketmaster - Dahl's Tickets, IowaTix, etc... has now gotten into the game prices may very slightly but still they are all gouging you. IowaTix is the best, but they are going downhill. They used to be a reasonable $3 when they first started operating, now they seem to be averaging in the $8-$9 range.

I don't know, maybe I am just getting older and complaining about how things used to cost a nickel when I was a kid, but ticket prices and fees seem to have far surpassed normal inflation in the past ten years.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

America F@CK Yeah!

This is America (human). She is my 5 year old niece that I just met for the first time over the weekend. You may be thinking to yourself "What is wrong with you? You never went to see your first niece before?" and this would be a valid question. The reason is that I just found out she existed at Christmas. My brother, Sean (America's (human) father), all up and decided to pull out this Christmas Miracle - "By the way, I have an announcement. I have a 5 year old daughter." It came as a little bit of a shock because a) that's a pretty hard secret to keep for 5 years, and b) it ruins my joke with my mom that "The evil Hulsebus line ends with us four brothers."

Anyhow, America (human) has been living in Mexico the past 5 years with her mother and Sean decided to bring her back with him from his annual Mexico trip (It all makes sense now...there goes my mule theories - or at least them being the only reason he goes every year). She will be with us for at least a year. Right now my mom is working on getting her enrolled in kindergarten. I know it is going to be stressful on my parents (since they are going to be doing the majority of caring for her while she is here) but I think they are happy about it all and I know my mom has always wanted a girl (and if it is a grand daughter instead of a daughter? I am sure she will adjust).

First impressions? She seems like a totally cool kid and is dealing with being in America (constitutional federal republic) pretty well. She doesn't speak much English and we Hulsebi speak little to no Spanish, so it can be a little frustrating on everyone's part but the GF-Unit and a few others have helped translate and communicate. My favorite part of meeting her though was when my brother Ryan got her to start doing the Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole soccer chant...she loved that. She definitely has some spicy Latina in her and is happy to dance and show off. She has a pretty big attitude for such a little person. She has made me laugh quite a bit over the past few days.

Welcome to America (constitutional federal republic), America (human)! I just can't say that name without thinking "Fuck Yeah" afterwards.