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(no subject) [Jul. 12th, 2005|10:31 am]
[Current Mood |bouncylaughing]
[Current Music |When Drunks Go Bad ~ Austin Lounge Lizards]

Lloyd Schumner  Your Horoscope
By Lloyd Schumner Sr.
Retired Machinist and
A.A.P.B.-Certified Astrologer

Aries: (March 21—April 19)
When choosing a pet this week, make sure it's one your friends approve of, as it'll outlive you by at least a dozen years.

Taurus: (April. 20—May 20)
You'll enter into local-legend status this week when, wandering on an important personal quest, you become the Flying Dutchman of your local big-box stores.

Gemini: (May 21—June 21)
You'll enter the record books in style, better than tripling Roy Sullivan's old mark of being struck by lightning an amazing seven times.

Cancer: (June 22—July 22)
Although circumstances will force you to take a menial job requiring a nametag, it will not lead to anyone knowing your name.

Leo: (July 23—Aug. 22)
Although you've always worried about dying alone and unloved, you can put your mind at ease: A tragic mix-up at the pheromone lab will lead to your being loved to death by nine separate species.

Virgo: (Aug. 23—Sept. 22)
The stars would love to take credit for guiding you to your fated destiny, but Occam's Razor and plain common sense point toward your turning into a colossal asshole.

Libra: (Sept. 23—Oct. 23)
There are many possible fates in store for you this week, but they all seem to involve you standing rain-drenched and shoeless at the side of a major interstate highway, cursing single men everywhere.

Scorpio: (Oct. 24—Nov. 21)
You will soon come to symbolize the world's increasingly cold and callous nature when your death is used to demonstrate the impact-resistant grill of the new Ford 500 sedan.

Sagittarius: (Nov. 22—Dec. 21)
You never wondered what would happen if all those big glass skyscraper windows fell to the sidewalk at once, but you'll soon be able to satisfy the curiosity of those who have.

Capricorn: (Dec. 22—Jan. 19)
To your vast surprise and that of marine biologists worldwide, you'll discover that you play a vital role in the 30-year mating cycle of the limpet shark.

Aquarius: (Jan. 20—Feb. 18)
There is no medical proof that chemical castration helps to prevent serial double-parking, but where you're concerned, the traffic court isn't taking any chances.

Pisces: (Feb. 19—March 20)
There will be little change in your uneventful life this week, which is too bad considering you've been hanging from those manacles for a couple decades now.

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(no subject) [Jul. 12th, 2005|10:19 am]
[Current Mood |amusedamused]
[Current Music |When Drunks Go Bad ~ Austin Lounge Lizards]

'Midwest' Discovered Between East And West Coasts

NEW YORK—A U.S. Geological Survey expeditionary force announced Tuesday that it has discovered a previously unknown and unexplored land mass between the New York and California coasts known as the "Midwest."

The Geological Survey team discovered the vast region while searching for the fabled Midwest Passage, the mythical overland route passing through the uncharted area between Ithaca, NY, and Bakersfield, CA.

"I long suspected something was there," said Franklin Eldred, a Manhattan native and leader of the 200-man exploratory force. "I'd flown between New York and L.A. on business many times, and the unusually long duration of my flights seemed to indicate that some sort of large area was being traversed, an area of unknown composition."

The Geological Survey explorers left the East Coast three weeks ago, embarking on a perilous journey to the unknown. Not long after crossing the Adirondack Mountains, Eldred and his team were blazing trails through strange new regions, wild lands full of corn and wheat.

"Thus far we have discovered places known as Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin," said Randall Zachary, chief navigator for the expedition. "When translated from the local dialect into English, these words seem to mean 'summer camp.'"

Eldred and the others were surprised to learn that the Midwest, whose inhospitable environment was long believed to be incapable of supporting human life, is indeed populated, albeit sparsely.

"The Midwestern Aborigines are ruddy, generally heavy-set folk, clad in plain, non-designer costumery," Eldred said. "They tend to live in simple, one-story dwellings whose interiors are decorated with Hummels and 'Bless This House' needlepoint wall-hangings. And though coarse and unattractive, these simple people were rather friendly, offering us quaint native fare such as 'hotdish' and 'casserole.'"

Though the Midwest territory is still largely unexplored, early reports describe a region as backwards as it is vast. "Many of the basic aspects of a civilized culture appear to be entirely absent," said Gina Strauch, a Los Angeles-based anthropologist. "There is no theater to speak of, and their knowledge of posh restaurants is sketchy at best. Further, their agricentric lives seem to prevent them from pursuing high fashion to any degree, and, as a result, their mode of dress is largely restricted to sweatpants and sweatshirts, the women's being adorned with hearts and teddy bears and the men's with college-football insignias."

Despite the Midwesterners' considerable cultural backwardness, some say the establishment of relations with them is possible.

"Believe it or not, this region may have things to offer us," said Jonathan Ogleby, a San Francisco-area marketing expert. "We could construct an airport there, a place where New Yorkers could switch planes on their way to California. We could stage revivals of old Broadway musicals there. Perhaps we could even one day conduct trade with the Midwesterners, offering them electronic devices in exchange for meats and agriculture."

Others, however, are not so optimistic about future relations. "We must remember that these people are not at all like us," Conde Nast publisher and Manhattan socialite Lucille Randolph Snowdon said. "They are crude and provincial, bewildered by our tall buildings and our art galleries, our books and our coffee shops. For an L.A. resident to attempt to interact with one of them as he or she would with, say, a Bostonian is ludicrous. It appears unlikely that we will ever be able to conduct a genuine exchange of ideas with them about anything, save perhaps television or 'the big game.'"


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Taken from Susie's Xanga [Jul. 11th, 2005|06:25 pm]
[Current Mood |tiredtired]
[Current Music |Dvorak's New world Symphony]

[1]Name: Kathryn
[2] Age: 15
[3] Sex: female
[4] Star sign: Cancer.
[5] B’day: 6/30/90
[6] Nicknames: Katie, Kate

[7] Hair color: Dishwater-blonde
[8] LongHair/ShortHair: Long-ish.
[9]Eye color: Blue
[10] Height: 5'1".

[11] School: Parkview Arts Magnet High School
[12] School colors: Red, white, and blue
[13] Grade: 10th
[14] Fave male teacher: Scottsky *aka* Mr. Scott
[15] Fave female teacher: Mrs. Farlow or Mrs. Sierra
[16] Worst male teacher: Coach Flanigan
[17] Worst female teacher: Mrs. Daniel aka Satan. (stole Susie's answer)
[18] Fave subject: BAND!!!!!!!!! MAUHA HA HA HAHA.
[19] Worst subject: Most Maths.....(Algebra ugggh)

People You Know...
[20] Funniest: Hamnah AND Jillian
[21] Stupidest: Taylor and or Cameron
[22] Best for advice: Alexis or Melissa
[23] Prettiest: Jordan
[24] Ugliest: And you expect me to answer that??? (another answer from Susie)
[25] Nicest: Annas Giles and Waller
[26] Meanest: Well most violent would be Jillian and Hamnah
[27] Smartest: Hmmmmm...........Heather??, Susie?? Elizabeth??
[28] Best friends: Oh so many.....not enough space to name
[29] Worst enemy: S.F. name shall not be disclosed
[30] Wildest: MelissaMelissa and LaurenMelissa
[31]Craziest: Beatrice.
[32] Loudest: Jillian
[33] Quietest: Anna W.
[34] Most calm: Jordan, or Heather, or Susie
[35] Best for guy advice: Everyone asks me so I guess ummmm.......me???? I dunno
[36] Who know’s all your secrets: Jillian and Melissa
[37] Who's secrets do you know: Everyone's..........muah ha ha ha ah
[38] Who's shyest: I don't really think any of my friends are shy
[39] Teacher’s pet: HEATHER!!!!!!!!!!!!
[40] Who gets in most trouble: MEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[41] Class clown: Beatrice, and ROSS!!!!!!
[42] You <3: Meaning?????? I love ever'body!!!!!!!!
[43] Most understanding: Codie and Lex.
[44] Most trustworthy: Codie, Lex, Jillian
[45] Best hair: any one who has strictly STRAIGHT or CURLY hair..none of this wavy crap.
[46] Biggest flirt: heh heh.....meee ^-^
[47] Best handwriting: Definitely not me....

Do you…
[48] Believe in god: Eh.....sorta
[49] Dress up on halloween: Oh yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!
[50] Like to travel: Of course!!!!!!
[51] Ever have the falling dream: I've tripped in dreams!!! Does that count?
[52] Have stuffed animals: Plenty to go around the world at least once!!!
[53] Believe in magic: Exquisite hand-eye coordination??? YeAH!!!!!!!!!!
[54] Do your own laundry: Half way...I put stuff in the dryer
[55] Clean your house: Uhh.....noooooo
[56] Own a furby: Good God no......
[58] Like kisses: Yesindeedy
[59] Have a job: I plan on working Cash-wrap at Barnes n Noble next year.
[60] Keep a journal: no.....not a real one.
[61] Wear make-up: Not much.
[62] Wear glasses: YEP!!!!!
[63] Have any peircings: My err's
[64] Want to kill someone: Sometimes yes!!!!!!
[65] Love Someone: Duhh!!!!!!!
[66] Who: Not tellin'
[67] Know the national anthem: umm...yeah
[68] Talk to yourself: Of course! It's the only true sign of sanity, after all. (I like Susie's answer)
[70] Snore: Not that I know of

[71] Books: HP books, Steven King, uhh...Douglas Adam....yeah.
[72] Kind of chain letters: Not fond of them......really.
[73] Poems: The Raven.....E.A.Poe
[74] TV shows: Gilmore Girls, Simpsons, Futurama, Homicide, SCTV.
[75] Male singer: Johnny Cash
[76] Female singer: ummmm......dunno
[77] CD: Classic Queen!!!!!!!!!!!!
[78] Bands: Queen, Beatles, Puffy AmiYumi, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
[79] Movies: Singin' in the Rain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Philidelphia Story, Charade, and others
[80] Musical: Wicked, Grease,Phantom of the Opera, My Fair Lady, Sound of Music,
[81] Song: mmmmm......I don't really know
[82] Website: Don't have one
[83] Music Award Show: Emmy's.
[84] Music Video: There Goes MY Life ~ Kenny Chesney
[85] Soda: Okra-Cola hah hah actually Coke.
[86] Fast Food Place: Sonic
[87] What do you get there: USED TO!!! #2 SSCB -onions, now a SSCB with Mustard -onions
[89] Kind of pizza: Cheese, Mediterranian (from Grady's), Supreme.
[90] Ice cream: CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[91] Holiday: Any!!!!
[92] Thing to do in winter: Walk in the woods.
[93] Thing to do in summer: Go to my gran's.
[94] Thing to do on weekends: Watch movies at home with my dog!!!
[95] Dream vacation spot: NYC or Paris.
[96] Place to shop: SimplySassy or STAGE(in Waldron).
[97] Thing to do on a rainy day: Sing and dance in the rain.....
[98] Thing to do on a sunny day: practice marching.......'tis harder than it looks.
[99] Color: Black, Blue, Red, Green.
[100] Magazine: Any that have pictures of Johnny depp in and on them.
[101] Place in your house: My room I have my computer there.
[102] Place to be alone: Hiking around my gran's.
[103] Kind of house: Old apartments or old Civil War styles.
[104] Place to live: Little Rock, Eureka Springs, Chicago, St. Louis.
[105] Kind of occupation: Band director, musicologist, a musicology professor.
[106] Memory from childhood: Getting my foot runover by the three-wheeler on the fourth of July.
[107] Memory with friends: Alexis hitting me on the head with a duck and Jillian doing nothing to help.
[108] Party you've ever been to: I simply love Anna Giles' Halloween parties....heh heh =^-^=

[109] Are you straight, gay, or bi: Straight...I think.
[110] What are some of your pet peeves: People who claim to have memorized movies and clearly haven't.
[111] What are some of your phobias: Old Old old people.
[112] Do you want children in the future: Adopted, yes.
[113] Do you want to get married: Possibly.
[114] How many fillings/cavities do you have: Three
[115] Are you right or left handed: Right
[116] What posters do you have on your walls: The Beatles White Album, Abbey Road, Powerpuff girls, Hogwarts logo, Monsters INC. movie Poster, Animals Animals book poster, and a poster of a fawn.
[117] What kind of house are you in: at the moment a house that my grand father built that has gray brick on the out side and is one story.
[118] Have you ever broken a bone: Not that I am aware of.
[119] Have you ever had stitches: Nope
[120] What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever made out: In a very bright corner at school.

This or That...
[121] Peanut butter/Jelly: PB
[122] Drive/Walk: Walk
[123] Good/Bad: Inbetween
[124] MTV/Comedy Central: Both
[125] Ice/Roller skating: Both
[126] Purse/Wallet: WALLET!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[127] Chocolate milk/Regular milk: 2% reduced
[128] Tall/Short: I'd like to be tall.
[129] Blue eyes/Brown eyes: BLUE!!!!!!!!
[130] Books/Movies: Both
[131] Comedy/Horror: Comedic horror.
[132] Lights On/Off: Off
[133] Theater/Video: Both
[134] Red/Blue: Both
[135] Top/Bottom: N/A
[136] Morning/Night: Night.
[137] Chocolate/Vanilla: Chocolaté
[138] Cat/Dog: Dog
[139] McDonalds/Burger King: McDonald's
[140] Metallica/Nirvana: Nirvana
[141] Coke/Pepsi: COKE!!!!!!!!!!!
[142] Black/White: Black
[143] Left handed/Right handed: Right
[144] Mom/Dad: Dad
[145] North America/South America: North
[146] Football/Rugby: Football as in soccer?? HELL YEAH!!!!!!!!! if not RUGBY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[147] Gold/Silver: Silver
[148] CD's/Cassettes: CD's
[149] TV/Cinema: Cinema!
[150] Video/DVD: DVD
[151] Glasses/Contact lenses: Both
[152] Brown hair/Red hair: BROWN!!!!!!!!!
[153] Chinese/Italian: Bôf...(an expression of indifference)
[154] Ocean/Sea: Either!!!!
[155] Sun/Moon: Moon
[156] Plane/Boat: Plane
[157] Early bird/Night owl: Night owl!!!
[158] Jaguar/Mercedes: Volkswagen
[159] Yellow/Blue: Blue
[160] Windows/MAC: Windows
[161] Eminem/Dr Dre: Neihter
[162] Buffy/Angel: Clark Kent
[163] Basketball/Baseball: Soccer
[164] Curly hair/Straight hair: umm...Both.
[165] Mars/Snickers: Snickers!

About Guys...
[166] What do you look for in a guy: Nice, nice to be with, umm........funny.....intresting.
[167] Good guys/bad guys: I like 'em both
[168] Long hair/short hair on a guy: mmmmmmm....any kind as long as I can play with it! =^-^=
[169] Older or younger guys: my age and up
[170] Do u have a bf: Not at the moment.....a surprise huh??
[180] Who: N/A
[190] Who do you like: I'll only say that he goes to PV and will be a senior this comming year.
[191] Tall or short guys: not to tall...
[192] Fav hair color on a guy: Dark
[193] What's the most you've done with a guy: Made out so umm hugged and kissed?

Are you…
[194] Frigid: Uh....
[195] Gay: No...don't mind gay people though
[196] Bi: No reason why I'm not.
[197] Lesbo: No
[198] Straight: Sure
[199] Evil: Sometimes....
[200] Good: Well, yeeeah
[201] Christian: Not too sure at the moment
[202] Single: Yesindeedy.
[203] Taken: ummmmmm............no
[204] Crazy: HELL YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[205] Immature: Of course.
[206] Mature: At times.
[207] Quiet: Depends
[208] Loud: Mostly

When Was The Last Time You...
[209] Left your house: I haven't been home for the past week...so umm.....last week?
[210] Slept: took a nap this moring at ten
[211] Got mad: Listening to some woman say that what was in london wasn't 9/11 IT WAS SURE AS HELL CLOSE ENOUGH!!!!!!!
[212] Ate something: Chicken Fried steaks, mashed potaoes, bisquits and gravey
[213] Showered: last night
[214] Watched tv: Now. Nancy Grace about some toddlers kiddnapped.
[215] Friends came over: uhh.....July 1st. at my house.
[216] Ate ice cream: yesterday
[217] Kissed someone: Don't know.......
[218] Went to a movie: July 2nd.....War of the Worlds.....yay!!
[219] Cried: Don't know
[220] Talked on the phone: I don't like the phone.
[221] Ate nerds: I like nerds
[222] Drank grape juice: July 3rd. (communion)
[223] Went skatboarding: uhh.........
[224] Went to the doctor: About a month ago for my LAST SHOT TILL COLLEGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[225] Got grounded: got out from under a computer lock off for a year about a year ago.
[226] What for: N/A

Who Is The Last Person You...
[227] Talked to: Jillian
[228] Talked to on the phone: I DON'T LIKE THE PHONE!!!!!!!!!!!! my mom
[229] Called: Won't use it, but if you must know....my mom
[230] Kissed: N/A
[231] Said I love you to: Codie
[232] Got angry with: Some woman on TV
[233] Bitched about behind their back: That woman on TV
[234] Cried about: N/A
[235] Had a crush on: that kid @ P.V. that will be a senior next year.......
[236] Punched: no one
[237] Fought with: N/A
[238] Visited: My gran, why I am with her now.
[239] Talked to on msn: Don't have it.
[240] Hugged: Charlie (my little cousin)
[241] Went out with: Not commenting.

Are You...
[242] Understanding: I think.....
[243] Mean: I don't mean to be........
[244] Nice: I believe so......
[245] Open minded: I try to be.
[246] Insecure: Can be.
[247] Talkative: Uhh yeah....
[248] Trust worthy: I should say so.
[249] Interesting: Well yes!! Just look at the above portion of this fill-out.
[250] Smart: One would hope.
[251] Dumb: Only when I have to be
[252] Moody: Once a month.
[253] Organized: Again, only when I have to be.
[254] Messy: yep. I know where everything is
[255] Angry: Yes, sometimes
[256] Sad: When depressed.
[257] Happy: Most the time.
[258] Crazy: Whenever possible.
[259] Calm: When needed.

In The Past 24 Hours Have You...
[260] Had a serious talk: Nerp.
[261] Hugged someone: Yes.
[262] Fought with someone: No.
[263] Cried: No.
[264] Laughed: Yes.
[265] Made someone laugh: Yes.
[266] Bought something: No.
[267] Cut your hair: I haven't cut my hair since September.
[268] Felt stupid: Not at all.
[269] Talked to someone you love: Yes

Have you...
[270] Missed someone: Well hasn't ever'body
[271] Been dumped/asked out: yes
[272] Kissed someone: yes
[273] Broken the law: Not taht I noticed.
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(no subject) [Jul. 9th, 2005|11:32 pm]
if you guys want you can aim me at Itou Miyazaki or mayortommyshanks........E MAIL ME FUCKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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(no subject) [Jun. 30th, 2005|11:53 am]
[Current Mood |bouncyBirthday-ey]
[Current Music |(book) Sohpie's World]

And today is the Katie's Day of Birth
She is 15 today
Let us sing and rejoice
For she is able to get for her birthday   Tintin in french, the Complete Blackadder on DVD, or other various items of the like...............YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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The SOONER mankind out grows religion.......... [Jun. 21st, 2005|05:17 pm]
[Current Mood |aggravatedaggravated]


(no subject) [Jun. 21st, 2005|01:15 pm]
[Current Mood |amusedlal]

Lloyd Schumner  Your Horoscope
By Lloyd Schumner Sr.
Retired Machinist and
A.A.P.B.-Certified Astrologer

Aries: (March 21—April 19)
You and your entire family will be granted the power of flight by conniving sky-gods who merely want to create additional safety problems for the airline industry.

Taurus: (April. 20—May 20)
G. Gordon Liddy will be busy with media appearances this week, leaving him with no time to hunt you down and eat you.

Gemini: (May 21—June 21)
In a certain light, from just the right angle, you will begin to bear an uncanny resemblance to Abe Lincoln.

Cancer: (June 22—July 22)
Maybe in your next life, you'll believe the Zodiac when it tells you to cut the red wire.

Leo: (July 23—Aug. 22)
Secretly tape-recording your private conversations is something you might be able to forgive, but not splitting the profits of their sale with you is a different thing entirely.

Virgo: (Aug. 23—Sept. 22)
Your desperation to escape the buses that are constantly hitting you will force you to build a time machine, which will deposit you just downhill from where an early Homo sapien is attaching the first four wheels on a huge hollow log.

Libra: (Sept. 23—Oct. 23)
You'll be prevented from joining the Army's elite paratrooper unit, which seems unfair, given your years of experience jumping out of things while holding guns.

Scorpio: (Oct. 24—Nov. 21)
There are very few people who respond to a well-prepared spaghetti carbonara in the same way you do, a fact for which the nation's firefighters thank God daily.

Sagittarius: (Nov. 22—Dec. 21)
Jupiter will enter your sign at a very delicate moment this week, causing it to blush, stammer an apology, and back out.

Capricorn: (Dec. 22—Jan. 19)
You swore you'd make real attempts to become a better, more well-rounded human being, but by the end of the week, you'll have a favorite stock-car racer.

Aquarius: (Jan. 20—Feb. 18)
Sometimes, life's smallest changes are the most important, as evidenced by the microscopic cancer cells currently entwining the base of your spinal column.

Pisces: (Feb. 19—March 20)
It's true people only pay attention to you because of your enormous breasts, but cut them some slack. Most people only have two, and theirs are relegated to their chest.

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Neal Stephenson proves he's my kind of Brainiac [Jun. 21st, 2005|11:15 am]
[Current Mood |amusedooh.....yay]

Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out
Published: June 17, 2005

IN the spring of 1977, some friends and I made a 40-mile pilgrimage to the biggest and fanciest movie theater in Iowa so we could watch a new science fiction movie called "Star Wars." Expecting long lines, we got there early, and found the place deserted.

As we sat on the sidewalk waiting for the box office to open, others like us drifted in from the towns, farms and colleges of central Iowa and queued up behind. When the curtain in front of the big Cinerama screen finally parted, the fanfare sounded and the famous opening crawl appeared against a backdrop of stars, there were still some empty seats. "Star Wars" wasn't famous yet. The only people who had heard about it were what are now called geeks.

Twenty-eight years later, the vast corpus of "Star Wars" movies, novels, games and merchandise still has much to say about geeks - and also about a society that loves them, hates them and depends upon them.

In the opening sequence of the new Star Wars movie, "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," two Jedi knights fight their way through an enemy starship to rescue a hostage. Ever since I saw the movie, I have been annoying friends with a trivia question: "Who is the enemy? What organization owns this vessel?"

We ought to know. In 1977, we all knew who owned the Death Star (the Empire) and who owned the Millennium Falcon (Han Solo). But when I ask my question about the new film, everyone reacts in the same way: with a sudden intake of breath and a sideways dart of the eyes, followed by lengthy cogitation. Some confess that they have no idea. Others think out loud for a while, developing and rejecting various theories. Only a few have come up with the right answer.

One hyperverbal friend was able to spit it out because he had read and memorized the opening crawl. Another, a hard-core science fiction fan, had been boning up on supplemental materials: "Clone Wars," an animated TV series consisting of "epic adventures that bridge the story arc between 'Episode II: Attack of the Clones' and 'Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.' "

If you have watched these cartoons - or if you've enjoyed some of the half-dozen "Clone Wars" novels, flipped through the graphic novels, read the short stories or played the video game - you will know that the battle cruiser in question is owned by the New Droid Army of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, which is backed by the Trade Federation, a commercial guild that is peeved about taxation of trade routes.

And that is not the only aspect of "Episode III" that you will see in a different light. If you watch the movie without doing the prep work, General Grievous - who is supposed to be one of the most formidable bad guys in the entire "Star Wars" cycle - will seem like something that just fell out of a Happy Meal.

Likewise, many have been underwhelmed by the performance of Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Only if you've seen the "Clone Wars" cartoons will you understand that Anakin is a seriously damaged veteran, a poster child for post-traumatic stress disorder. But since none of that background is actually supplied by the Episode III script, Mr. Christensen has been given an impossible acting task. He's trying to swim in air.

In sum, very little of the new film makes sense, taken as a freestanding narrative. What's interesting about this is how little it matters. Millions of people are happily spending their money to watch a movie they don't understand. What gives?

Modern English has given us two terms we need to explain this phenomenon: "geeking out" and "vegging out." To geek out on something means to immerse yourself in its details to an extent that is distinctly abnormal - and to have a good time doing it. To veg out, by contrast, means to enter a passive state and allow sounds and images to wash over you without troubling yourself too much about what it all means.

In corporate-speak, there is a related term used when someone has committed the faux pas of geeking out during a meeting. "Let's take this offline," someone will suggest, when the PowerPoint slides grow dark with words. Literally, it means, "I look forward to geeking out on this topic - later." But really it's a polite synonym for "shut up already!"

The first "Star Wars" movie 28 years ago was distinguished by healthy interplay between veg and geek scenes. In the climactic sequence, where rebel fighters attacked the Death Star, we repeatedly cut away from the dogfights and strafing runs - the purest kind of vegging-out material - to hushed command bunkers where people stood around pondering computer displays, geeking out on the strategic progress of the battle.

All such content - as well as the long, beautiful, uncluttered shots of desert, sky, jungle and mountain that filled the early episodes - was banished in the first of the prequels ("Episode I: The Phantom Menace," 1999). In the 16 years that separated it from the initial trilogy, a new universe of ancillary media had come into existence. These had made it possible to take the geek material offline so that the movies could consist of pure, uncut veg-out content, steeped in day-care-center ambience. These newer films don't even pretend to tell the whole story; they are akin to PowerPoint presentations that summarize the main bullet points from a much more comprehensive body of work developed by and for a geek subculture.

"Concentrate on the moment. Feel, don't think. Trust your instincts," says a Jedi to the young Anakin in Episode I, immediately before a pod race in which Anakin is likely to get killed. It is distinctly odd counsel coming from a member of the Jedi order, the geekiest people in the universe: they have beards and ponytails, they dress in army blankets, they are expert fighter pilots, they build their own laser swords from scratch.

And (as is made clear in the "Clone Wars" novels) the masses and the elites both claim to admire them, but actually fear and loathe them because they hate being dependent upon their powers.

Anakin wins that race by repairing his crippled racer in an ecstasy of switch-flipping that looks about as intuitive as starting up a nuclear submarine. Clearly the boy is destined to be adopted into the Jedi order, where he will develop his geek talents - not by studying calculus but by meditating a lot and learning to trust his feelings. I lap this stuff up along with millions, maybe billions, of others. Why? Because every single one of us is as dependent on science and technology - and, by extension, on the geeks who make it work - as a patient in intensive care. Yet we much prefer to think otherwise.

Scientists and technologists have the same uneasy status in our society as the Jedi in the Galactic Republic. They are scorned by the cultural left and the cultural right, and young people avoid science and math classes in hordes. The tedious particulars of keeping ourselves alive, comfortable and free are being taken offline to countries where people are happy to sweat the details, as long as we have some foreign exchange left to send their way. Nothing is more seductive than to think that we, like the Jedi, could be masters of the most advanced technologies while living simple lives: to have a geek standard of living and spend our copious leisure time vegging out.

If the "Star Wars" movies are remembered a century from now, it'll be because they are such exact parables for this state of affairs. Young people in other countries will watch them in classrooms as an answer to the question: Whatever became of that big rich country that used to buy the stuff we make? The answer: It went the way of the old Republic.

Neal Stephenson is the author, most recently, of "The System of the World," the last book of "The Baroque Cycle" trilogy.
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It seems that we give training in how to beat a prisoner [Jun. 21st, 2005|11:03 am]
[Current Mood |annoyedannoyed]

From the LA Times:

Soldier Sues Over Guantanamo Beating
Spc. Sean Baker, who was medically retired after a drill went awry, asks for $15 million.

By David Zucchino, Times Staff Writer

A U.S. military policeman who was beaten by fellow MPs during a botched training drill at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison for detainees has sued the Pentagon for $15 million, alleging that the incident violated his constitutional rights.

Spc. Sean D. Baker, 38, was assaulted in January 2003 after he volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative detainee. Baker said the MPs, who were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant, inflicted a beating that resulted in a traumatic brain injury.

Baker, a Gulf War veteran who reenlisted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was medically retired in April 2004. He said the assault left him with seizures, blackouts, headaches, insomnia and psychological problems.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Lexington, Ky., Baker asked the Army to reinstate him in a position that would accommodate his medical condition. He said the Army put him on medical retirement against his wishes.

"Somebody has to step up to serve, and I still want to serve," Baker said Friday in a telephone interview from his home in Georgetown, Ky. "There's some task somewhere I can do in the Army."

A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment, saying she had not seen the lawsuit and could not discuss pending litigation.

The Pentagon initially said that Baker's hospitalization following the training incident was not related to the beating. Later, officials conceded that he was treated for injuries suffered when a five-man MP "internal reaction force" choked him, slammed his head several times against a concrete floor and sprayed him with pepper gas.

The drill took place in a prison isolation wing reserved for suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees who were disruptive or had attacked MPs.

Baker said he put on the jumpsuit and squeezed under a prison bunk after being told by a lieutenant that he would be portraying an unruly detainee. He said he was assured that MPs conducting the "extraction drill" knew it was a training exercise and that Baker was an American soldier.

As he was being choked and beaten, Baker said, he screamed a code word, "red," and shouted: "I'm a U.S. soldier! I'm a U.S. soldier!" He said the beating continued until the jumpsuit was yanked down during the struggle, revealing his military uniform.

The lawsuit says of the extraction team: "Armed with the highly inflammatory, false, incendiary and misleading information that had been loaded into their psyches by their platoon leader, these perceptions and fears … became their operative reality, and they acted upon these fears, all to the detriment of Sean Baker."

No one has been disciplined or punished for the assault, said Baker's lawyer, T. Bruce Simpson Jr.

Last June, a military spokesman said an internal investigation in February 2003 had concluded that no one was liable for Baker's injuries. He said training procedures at Guantanamo had been reviewed after the incident.

"While it is unfortunate that Spc. Baker was injured, the standards of professionalism we expect of our soldiers mandate that our training be as realistic as possible," the spokesman said.

Simpson said the Army's Criminal Investigation Division told him last month that it had completed an investigation and had referred it to the Army's legal section for review. A division spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Simpson said Baker received $2,350 a month in military disability benefits, plus $1,000 a month in Social Security, but that he would give it up to have a military job.

"Even in light of all that happened to him," Simpson said, "he still wants to serve his country."
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I laugh at what Republicans say a lot [Jun. 21st, 2005|10:59 am]
[Current Mood |complacentlaughing aloud]

"Where do we end all of this? Are we going to apologize for not doing the right thing on Social Security?"

-- Trent Lott, on the Senate's formal apology to lynching victims
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