Dec 31, 2010

Stephen A. Smith leaving Fox Sports Radio



Last year at this time I posted about how Fox Sports Radio was replacing long time host Steve Czaban with Stephen A. Smith as their morning show.  What I didn't realize at the time was that FSR was offering two different morning shows to different affiliates.   The choices were either Stephen A Smith or the Zack and Jack show. 

The choice to replace a single show with two separate shows is a strange one for me.  I would think it would be cheaper to keep the popular show that they had in Steve Cazbans instead of paying two separate hosts to do one time slot.  However that was the choice they decided to go with.

The reasoning behind it was that Stephen A. has always been a polarizing figure.  He perfectly embodies the phrase "not for everyone".   Personally I liked his show, although I didn't get a chance to listen to it as much as I'd like due to it being on at 3am here on the West Coast.

While I enjoyed Stephen A's show, I realized that many people don't like him.  Whether it's racists who don't like him because he's an extremely vocal and opinionated black man, or from sports fans who just think he's bombastic and overbearing, there were obviously detractors.  As such, I suppose it made sense for FSR to offer affiliates a choice, however I wonder why they would bring Stephen A. on in the first place, if that's what they were doing.

You're not fully supporting him by doing that.  You're saying you support him and believe in him by hiring him, and yet let others bow out of carrying him.    That does him no favors, because it seems it illustrates that you are only giving him half the support.

Well now they've decided to cut ties with the Stephen A Smith's show and go full time with Zack and Jack's show.   The few times I've heard Zack and Jack I didn't like it at all.  Although if they're going to be putting a show I don't like, then I guess the best time WOULD be while I'm sleeping.

While Stephen A. will not be doing a show, he WILL be the official NBA analyst for the Fox Sports Radio shows, so he'll still be on the network, just not with his own show.   Stephen mentioned on twitter this was his decision, due to him not having to get up and do an early morning show anymore, and I buy that explanation, but I have to wonder if Fox Sports Radio, who's never been short on stupid decisions (not paying the hosts appropriately and letting them walk to ESPN/SNR, or firing capable competent hosts and bringing on bland and forgettable new ones who are cheaper) realized that it's cheaper to just pay one show instead of two.

I didn't agree with all of what he said, and strongly disagreed with his politics.   I thought his appearing routinely on Sean Hannity's show played into Fox News' and Hannity's tactic of bringing on African Americans to attack other African Americans.  Any time an African-American is brought on there, you can bet he will do one of two things:  Attack President Obama and/or attack African Americans in general, such as the "Rev" Jesse Lee Peterson who routinely comes on and slams "Most blacks" as being lazy and racist.  Hannity brings people like Peterson and Smith on so his show can attack Black people and throw up their hands and say "I'm not saying these things, this Black person is so it MUST be true".  



I think despite Smith perhaps agreeing with many things Hannity does, he opened himself up to being used by Hannity for his (Hannity's) racist attacks.

That being said, I enjoyed Smith a lot when it came to sports and things of that nature.   Deb Carson as the sports update/often contributer to the show was a delight to listen to as well.   She knew her stuff as well and fit in perfectly on the show.   While I hate to see him go, I know he'll find another show eventually and will be successful.

Dec 29, 2010

Michael Vick and the Art of Forgiveness

Tucker Carlson: Professional Dick


In my lifetime I've been guilty of many things that I'm not proud of.   I've also been someone who has been wronged by others.   It's strange how we view forgiveness in those two situations.

When we commit crimes or wrong others, we are always quick to demand a second chance and an opportunity to atone for our sins.  We want to be allowed to make amends and start our lives over without persecution for our past mistakes every step of the way for the remainder of our lives.

However we also tend to not extend that same courtesy to others who wrong us, or who commit crimes that offend our sensibilities.   Often times we don't see the hypocrisy in that double standard.   Perhaps it's a situation of we know what is in our hearts, and we know that we are sorry for what we did.  Either that or we fool ourselves into believing it.  Therefore we feel that WE deserve a second chance and an opportunity to make a new life.

With others though, we don't have the benefit of seeing inside their hearts and minds, and thus we have to go on faith that they are sincere in their regrets and remorse, and are willing to make it right and follow the path of righteousness.

And we often don't do that.   We don't give others the benefit of the doubt and we often think that they are just bound for that road that got them in trouble in the first place.

When Michael Vick got arrested on dog fighting charges in 2007, a lot of people were shocked and outraged, and rightly so.  What Vick did was horrible and atrocious.   He participated in the vicious drownings and electrocutions of dogs that he was using in dog fighting matches.

He ended up getting sentenced to 23 months in a federal prison, and he lost over a hundred million dollars in salary and endorsements.   To say he paid a heavy price is an understatement.

However there are many who feel he didn't pay enough of a price.   Since he was released, he's seemingly been a changed man.  Where he once focused on his athletic running ability to make plays, and he would, as he put it, be the last one in and the first one out of workouts and sessions, he had now become a complete quarterback.   More dedication to his craft, more dedication to his team and the game films.

Also, according to those around him he's changed for the better in his personal life as well.  He's not hanging around the bad people in his past, he's making amends by speaking out against his past activities, and by all estimates is a changed man.

So why is it impossible for some people to accept that and to, if not forget what he did, forgive Michael Vick?   Why is it that the very same absolution and second chance that we all would like to be afforded to us, is not available for him?

What has to happen before these people, many of which consider themselves compassionate and of the Christian faith that I subscribe to, find it so difficult to if not cheer for him, at least not feel a bitter animosity towards him?

I bring this up because yesterday on Fox News (where else?), Tucker Carlson who is best known for having his ass handed to him on his own show by Jon Stewart, was subbing for Sean Hannity and made a startling and outrageous statement:  That Michael Vick should have been executed for the dog fighting.

That's right.  You read that right.  In fact, here's the video, courtesy of Raw Story:

This video is from Fox News' Hannity, broadcast Dec. 28, 2010.


Watch this video on iPhone/iPad


Seriously? He should have been executed? Look, I'll be the first to say what Vick did was horrible and beyond acceptance. There's no excuse for what he did, and he fully deserved to go to prison and lose his salary.

That said, at what point will it be enough? I wrote about this before and asked the question, at what point will it be enough for these people who are so venomously anti-Michael Vick?

I was discussing this with someone online the other day who believes that Vick is simply telling us what we want to hear. He's not really remorseful, and that it's all an act.

I don't agree, and I told him that, but the more serious aspect to this, at least for me, is that it will never be enough for these people. If Vick's family, God forbid, were murdered tomorrow, his detractors would say it was karma and he was reaping what he sowed.

If he were to die, it still wouldn't be good enough. They want their pound of flesh, and every drop of blood along with it. Many of these people who are against him are ones who value animal lives over humans. If they had a choice between murdering Michael Vick or a dog being hurt, that would be no choice for them, because they would choose Vick to be murdered 11 times out of 10.

So on one hand Vick should not even pay those people any mind because there's nothing that will satiate their thirst for blood. In the immortal words of the late great Christopher Wallace, they pray and pray for his downfall. And with people like that, there is no talking to them. There is no reasoning with them. You just have to chalk it up to bitterness and keep it moving.

It's like the "Birthers" and Obama. No amount of explanation, no amount of rational talk will dissuade them from their deluded belief that the President was born outside this country. They don't want facts, they want their own beliefs validated and approved of.

Besides, at the end of the day this isn't even about Michael Vick.  Carlson is simply worshiping at the feet of his Fox News Masters, and doing what everyone else on Fox News does:  Find new and creative ways to attack President Obama.   In this case, Obama had the audacity to contact the owner of the Eagles and congratulate him on giving Vick a second chance.  

If you watch that video, that wasn't the focus.  They said he was praising VICK.   Instead, he was simply applauding the fact that the Eagles owner gave a second chance to a former prisoner, many of whom do not get that second chance unfortunately.

Convenient how Tucker seems to ignore that and makes it all about how Obama is by proxy supporting dog fighters and dog killers.   Typical and par for the course, and utterly pathetic for this supposed Christian man.  Hey Tucker, what does the Bible say about forgiveness again?  Something about forgiving those who have wronged you "seven times seven"?   Maybe you should read up some more.

By the way, for old times sakes, here's a clip of Jon Stewart destroying Tucker Carlson on his own show. Fun tidbit, the head of CNN apparently agreed with Stewart's views of the show, because he canceled the show months later. Of course Tucker claimed he was already leaving of his own accord, naturally.

Dec 28, 2010

Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter whines about critics -- AGAIN.



I'm a fan of the show Sons of Anarchy which airs on FX.  I think it's one of the better shows that's on TV at the moment, and it's on one of my favorite networks, which has featured other shows that are favorites of mine including Damages and the recently cancelled Terriers.

Yet I can't help but be annoyed anytime I read about the show runner Kurt Sutter bitching and crying about how his show doesn't get the respect it deserves, and it's bypassed by award groups, and critics and bloggers are clueless jackanapes who wouldn't know a good show if it bit them in the ass.

And it's weird because I agree with him for the most part.  I think the show is drastically overlooked come Emmy time.  I think Katey Sagal (Married With Children, Futurama, Lost) who is married to Sutter, should have won an Emmy for her brilliant acting in Season 2.   I thought the show should have been more recognized by the awards as well.   I definitely think that the show is better than any number of other shows that are critical darlings.

However Sutter's constant crying on his blog about it serves no purpose other than to put his show in a bad light to the very people he so desperately wants to appeal to.   The very people he is criticizing, are not going to suddenly read his rants and change their minds.  If they don't like the direction the previous season went in, they're not going to suddenly have a change of heart.

The Emmy people aren't going to suddenly say "wow, we really screwed the pooch there, let's reward them next year".  It's just going to turn those people further against your show, because when they see your show from now on, your insults, and complaints are what they think of.

Making your voice heard is one thing.  That's definitely warranted.  However it's come to the point where anytime I see Sutter's name in an article about "Sons" I almost immediately figure he's complaining about lack of respect.

I compare this to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.  The Mavs are my favorite team, and Cuban has done tremendous good for them.  He brought that team from a laughingstock to perennial contenders.  Sure they've underachieved, but they're in contention every year, which is a far cry from what they used to be.

The problem is though that Cuban has a tendency to be a high profile antagonist of anyone that goes against the Mavs.   Reporters who have written about negative things have dealt with his wrath in the form of harsh criticism and in some cases banned bloggers from his locker room.

The Refs have been assailed by him (many times for good reason) and he's been fined well over a million dollars total.  And in response, there's a widely held view that the refs have screwed over the Mavs on calls or non-calls due to Cuban being such a public and vocal critic of them.

That's the same way it is with Sutter.  I love his show, but wish he'd dial back the complaining.  All it does is make him seem extremely thin-skinned, and puts his show even further away from the very acceptance that he aspires to.

In a perfect world, it wouldn't be that way.  A show like "Sons" would be a critical and Emmy darling, due to it's superior writing and acting.   But in a perfect world, shows like Terriers, and NBC's Life wouldn't have been cancelled, and Damages being shipped over to DirectTV, while schlock on other channels thrives and gets renewed.

This isn't a perfect world, and Sutter needs to understand that.   As I said I agree with much of what he says, I simply think he's overdoing it and going about it the wrong way.

Dec 19, 2010

Video of the Day: "Bed Intruder Christmas Carol" from Liberty University

I may not have a whole lot of positive things to say about Liberty University, but I do have to give credit where credit is due.  This is really really cool. 

By now everyone's seen the Bed Intruder song, which is an autotuned video of Antoine Dodson ranting about a guy who broke into his sister's room and tried to rape her.  He was an instant internet hit for his hilarious lines like "hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your husbands, cause they rapin' everybody out here".

Well, Liberty took that and ran with it, obviously substituting the word "take" for "rape", and the result is both hysterical and awesome at the same time.

Dec 18, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell Repealed: Sanity and Decency Prevail



Today, Saturday December 18th, The United States Senate did the right thing, and voted to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, a law passed in 1993 that forced Gay and Lesbian soldiers to lie about who they were, in order to stay in the military.

I've been very vocal about my support for this, however it was, to me, a common sense thing.   It never made sense to me to force people to hide who they are.   It never made sense to me the constant rantings by many on the Republican side about the dire warnings of what would happen.

In the end, John McCain, Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer and others who are vehemently opposed to this repeal were saying "We don't believe that Gay and Lesbians are real people.".   They don't view them as human beings, rather they see them as objects.  As things.   And therein lies the base problem.

When you don't view those you are opposed to as genuine living, feeling people, then it's very easy to dismiss them and invalidate their existence.  You ever notice how whenever in the movies someone is kidnapped and they think they're going to die, they start trying to bond with the kidnappers?   Telling them about how they have a family, they have brothers, sisters, kids, whatever.   It's to create this trigger in the person's mind of "this isn't just a "job" in front of me.  This is an actual person who have people who care about them".

It personalizes them.   And that's what many of these people on the Right don't acknowledge.   The personality and humanity of Gays and Lesbians.

The lies came fast and furious from the usual suspects when it became obvious that Don't Ask would be repealed. False connections between homosexuality and pedophilia came from the likes of Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer of the "American Family Association", despite there being overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

There are others that have suggested that repealing DADT will bring on a sudden influx of Gay soldiers raping straight soldiers, because to these bigots, they view Gay people as without self control and willing to fuck anything in sight.

The fact that these Gay soldiers are willing to fight and if need be DIE for their country isn't enough for the likes of John McCain who has steadfastly been against the repeal despite embarrassing himself in the process.



Well, as long as President Obama doesn't find a way to screw this up and actually signs the bill into law, then that will be a long time coming, and a well needed positive bump for him.   I'm still not satisfied with how he has bowed his head and cowered before the Republicans on virtually every aspect of his Presidency, but if this goes through, I'll at least be happy that he did something that didn't make all the Republicans jump for joy.

Dec 16, 2010

Gymnopédie No. 1 (Digitally Blasphemed)



Video I made combining one of my favorite classical pieces, and the beautiful images from Ryan Bliss over at Digital Blasphemy. I like it.

Dec 15, 2010

David Pakman interviews Brian Fischer (American Family Association)

I've always been fascinated by extremism for some reason.  Not in a sense that I adhere or aspire to it, or even sympathize or accept it, but more to the fact that it's really interesting to me to read people's views that are so far outside of the realm of common sense and decency.

Whether it's the Westboro Baptist Church and their "God Hates Fags" campaign, or Pat Robertson and his "The Feminists and Gays caused 9/11" or Glenn Beck's "The Government is setting up FEMA camps" or even the Alex Jones "9/11 was an inside job", I enjoy reading about them.  It's interesting to me.

I just recently purchased the book by Jeff Sharlet, "The Family" which is a look inside the fundamentalism around the secretive group in Washington tied to the C-Street gang, and I look forward to getting into that one.

So when I heard David Pakman, a political talk show host that I listen to, was talking about trying to get Bryan Fischer, the guy from the so-called American Family Institute, I knew I had to listen.   See, Fischer is the guy who wrote the column denouncing Salvatore Giunta's being awarded the Medal of Honor, because Giunta got it for saving his fellow soliders, and not for killing evil brown people, or something.   He referred to this as the "feminization" of the Medal of Honor.

And then just recently he blamed the entire wikileaks scandal on....you guessed it:  The Gays.   You see, in Fischer's mind Private Bradley Manning, who allegedly leaked thousands of documents and video to Julian Assage at Wikileaks is gay, and did this to lash out at the military's stance on Don't Ask Don't Tell.

So, you see, if we had DADT and it was enforced, then there would be no Bradley Manning.  Only, we DO have DADT.  And it IS enforced.  And yet we DO have Bradley Manning.  But I digress.

All of this makes fascinating reading even if it's to shake your head and think "what the hell is wrong with this guy?"

As a Christian I am offended by people like Fischer and Tony Perkins and these other so-called men of God who mangle and distort my faith to fit their own preconceived notions.   A quote I love and use a lot fits these people, and that is "You know you've created God in your own image, when He hates all the same people you do."

Funny how that works out, no?

Anyway, here's the full interview with Bryan Fischer.   If you like this, consider subscribing to David Pakman's show, and possibly even becoming a member.  They've been having some great bonus stuff for the members, and it doesn't cost very much at all, especially considering Glenn Beck wants you to give up all your gold to become a member of his show.  Allegedly.





By the way, listening to him talk about people allegedly "leaving the homosexual lifestyle", am I the only one that has this come to mind? lol.

Dec 13, 2010

Review: Talk 16/Talk 19


When you sit down to watch a documentary, you sort of have a preconceived notion on how things will go, even if you don't know the specifics.  Most people these days are used to the MTV/VH1 style of "reality" shows such as Jersey Shore and Sweet 16 and whatnot.  These shows that are purported to be showing you something real, when in fact it's heavily manipulated and steered in a direction that they want to show.   There's nothing real about it.  It's all manufactured.

So when you watch a documentary, it's a foregone conclusion that what you're about to see is not necessarily THE reality, but it's the director's reality.  It's what they want you to see.  Except that defeats the purpose of the "reality TV" aspect.  We're not getting the truth, we're getting what the director feels is the truth, or what the creators want to be the narrative.

A really good movie that I like is called The Big Kahuna, and stars Kevin Spacey, Danny Devito and Peter Facinelli (Twilight, Nurse Jackie).   Facinelli plays a born again Christian who's very naive and sort of wide eyed about his faith, and his desire to spread that faith to everyone he comes in contact with, whether or not it's a feasible environment for that.  His outlook is that of many Christians that I know, in that they view their obligation to share the Word of Jesus to everyone they meet as being above that of anything on earth.  Above their work obligations, above any requirements or anything.

So in the movie he ends up talking about Jesus to a potential client, when he was supposed to be trying to convince him to become a client of the company that He, Spacey and DeVito represent.   And when Spacey finds out, he flips out and there's a huge confrontation.

Later, DeVito's character is speaking to Facinelli's character, and is trying to explain that there's a time and place for everything, and that Facinelli's character doesn't see the difference between talking to someone just to talk, and trying to sell them on Jesus.  And this leads to one of my all time favorite quotes I've heard in a movie, when DeVito tells Facinelli "Once you lay your hands on a conversation in order to steer it, then it's no longer a conversation.  It's a pitch.  And you're no longer a human being.  You're a marketing rep."


And that pretty much sums up all so called reality television or documentaries these days.  They're all just about starting out with a preconceived notion of what the director wants to say.  Whether it's Michael Moore or someone else, they all have their own agenda.

Which makes it all the more amazing when you come across a documentary that doesn't do that.  That simply turns the camera on and allows it's subjects to speak for themselves.  No dishonest editing or manipulations, just simple honest filmmaking.  A rare thing indeed.

As I watched this, I kind of felt uncomfortable, I must say.  I think it's because so many of the girls featured in Talk 16 and Talk 19, produced by Back Alley Films, the same company responsible for the fantanstic series "Durham County",  reminded me of the naivete that I had when I was in school.   For all their differences, guys and girls aren't THAT different when it comes to things like that.   We all look back at our high school years and cringe at the thought of some of the things we've said, and believed and done.   That's not an exclusive to a specific gender or race or anything.

Talk 16 is a great documentary that follows five random girls in Canada as they talk about their hopes and dreams, and their lives and how they feel about themselves.   It's quite interesting to see these fairly candid expressions caught on film as they are able to be themselves away from their parents.  There's a moment in there where a girl named Lina is talking about her past experimentation with drugs, and her voice drops to a whisper, as her parents were in another room.  And she has this embarassed smile on her face as she's saying this.

All the girls have varying degrees of goals and desires.   One wants to be an actress, another wants to be a model, and so on.  And it's interesting to contrast the girl's attitudes and outlook in Talk 16 with Talk 19 which catches up on those same five girls three years later to see how they are doing.   It's kind of depressing to see how life has just kicked the shit out of some of them, at least mentally and psychologically.

Girls that I sort of liked in the first film, I just flat out disliked in the second, and vice versa.   There were heartbreaking moments where you see someone like Rhonda who at 16 she wanted to be an actress and seemed filled with joy at the idea, and then at 19 she's thoroughly deflated and demoralized because she didn't get a role she wanted.  She seems to filled with this sense of self loathing and can't seem to bring herself past her missing out on that role.  She allowed missing out on that role to just devastate her and throughout Talk 19 she's almost exclusively in her room and it almost feels like she's withdrawn from everything, except a couple friends who visit her.  She seems very happy with them around, but it's kind of frustrating to see someone want something that bad, as she did with acting, and then seemingly at the loss of a role to a friend, she just was like "that's it, I can't do it".

Perhaps I see some of myself in her.  I deal with depression and the self esteem issues much like she appears to, so I don't know if my frustration and utter dislike of her in Talk 19 (as opposed to Talk 16 when I was happy for her and hoping she'd do well), stems from the fact that I recognize some of those same attributes in her that I do myself?  They say we dislike in others what we dislike in ourselves.  Maybe that's it.

Another girl, Erin, who I didn't really have a feeling about either way in Talk 16, I absolutely despised in the followup.  In Talk 16 she was seemingly the stereotypical popular girl, and one scene stood out to me which is when they had rented a bus with tv's and a bar on it for their prom, and the bus they got didn't have the TV's or Bar, so she was adamant that they would not pay 400 bucks for the bus.   Seems reasonable.  If you expect to get something and you get less than that, you want to get what you pay for.

But then they decide to walk the TWO BLOCKS to the Prom.  And I sat back and was thinking, Why would you rent a bus for 400 bucks with TV's and a bar in when it takes you two blocks to get to the prom?   I understand the whole making an event and renting a limo or whatever, but maybe it's just me, it just seemed odd that they would need all that when it was two blocks away.  What would you watch in two blocks?

And in Talk 19 she had turned into this, for lack of a better word, a real bitch.  As bad as that word is, and I try not to use it, I don't think she'd really object to it.  She came off as someone, like some women I've met, that fully embrace that title and see nothing wrong with it.

She has accepted the role of someone who uses her sexuality to get what she wants.  She extols the virtue of "Pussy Power" and freely talks about in case of her losing her looks as she grows older, that she'll marry a rich guy and use all his money to have plastic surgery.  When asked the obvious question, what if he divorces her, she laughed and said she would have no worries because, "No prenups here".

This really pissed me off, I have to say. I think that's because I've met women like this in my life, I've gone to school with them, I've worked with them, and they are the pretty on the outside, and ugly to the bone on the inside.

It was interesting though contrasting her with Lina, who although she's not as physically attractive as Erin, she's not ugly, and yet desperately wants plastic surgery to make herself look pretty.  She thinks that she'll never be happy unless she does.   And it's interesting because, I think her and Erin are complete opposites in every way.  Lina is a good person who wants desperately to be beautiful, and Erin is a terrible person who happens to be physically beautiful.   Inside and out two completely different, and yet Lina thinks that the only way she'll be happy would be to look like someone that resembles Erin.

I think that's sad, and yet it's something that many girls go through.  Our society has beaten us down with images of men and women who are supposed to represent what we're supposed to be.  Who we should want to be if we want to be cool and popular.  And you DO want to be cool and popular right?

All in all this is a pretty fascinating documentary series, that is sadly unavailable from the usual suspects in Amazon or Ebay or any of those types of places.   If you're in Canada and you get a chance to see this on TV or something in a re-run, I'd encourage you to do so.   It's a sobering look into the hearts and minds of five girls at two different times in their lives.  You're able to see them at the height of their ambition and hopes and dreams, and then again three years later when they are just out of high school (Rhonda was in 12th grade) and entering the world either through working or college.

So if you are able to find a copy of this, I recommend it very much.

Dec 11, 2010

Do Not Give Money To The Salvation Army This Christmas



When I was homeless back east, I would sometimes stay in shelters.  One of those was a Salvation Army in Charlottesville Virginia.  It was my first exposure to homeless shelters, and I found the whole situation kinda surreal and unnerving.  In addition to the fact that I was homeless, which already had me in disarray, this new experience was a bit unnerving.

So I found myself quickly at odds with the people who ran it due to their "Selective Salvation", as I dubbed it.  They portray themselves as people who help the less fortunate, and aspire to service those who are in need, particularly at Christmas time when they are camped out in front of the grocery stores making you feel guilty as you walk by, as they ring that bell.

Most, if not all, of the bell ringers, by the way, are residents of the shelters.   They'll often get minimum wage to stand out in the cold and ring a bell constantly to help line the coffers of the Salvation Army.   I was offered the opportunity, but always declined, because I didn't particularly like the way they did business.  And it WAS A business.

I saw the most incredible things from them, such as their helping some people but not others.  If they thought you were beyond help, they would either do the bare minimum and constantly judge you behind your back, or they would just tell you there was nothing available for you.

Sometimes they would admonish people for not living their lives according to how the SA thought it should be, and would demand changes in their lives if the Salvation Army was going to help them.   Now sometimes, this wasn't that outrageous.  Sometimes it was alcohol or drug addicts and they were like "you have to get clean and try to stay clean if we're going to help you."   That's understandable and quite frankly to be expected.

Other times it wasn't.

Then there were instances where if you upset one of the people working there, well that was it for you.  You were permanently put on their shit list and things would never go well for you.   One time I had made a joke (which in retrospect probably wasn't the wisest) and one of the managers on duty go pissed off at me and just started screaming at me.

Then he waited several hours until it was midnight (after the buses stopped running, coincidentally...or not) and then came back into the bunk areas and told me I had to leave.  Immediately.   I kept asking what the problem was, and he just told me to "get your shit and get out now".    So there I was in the middle of the night, kicked out of the Salvation Army with only my backpack which had the few items I owned such as clothing and some books and music.

So having gone through that, and other encounters with them, it came as no surprise to me when I read an article recently about how the Salvation Army refused to give help to a couple of men who were gay.   They said they would not help them unless they broke up and left their "sinful lifestyle".

I believe I remember Jesus doing the same thing, if I recall correctly.   I don't remember the book, but surely it was in the Bible somewhere, right?   They're a CHRISTIAN organization, right?

Then there's the fact that they refused to give out any Harry Potter or Twilight toys that were donated to the children, because they felt that it was "incompatible with the Charity's Christian beliefs".  In fact all the people who donated those toys to the Salvation Army will be glad to know that the toys were thrown into the garbage.   Just what those donaters had hoped would happen, I'm sure.

Oh but guess what WAS approved for children?

The man called himself an admirer of the Salvation Army and was impressed by the massive quantity of toys collected in city malls, schools and police stations through the Toy Mountain campaign.


But he questioned why the charity would be sifting out Harry Potter and Twilight toys, which involve sorcery and vampire themes, respectively.

"I was told to withhold a six-inch Harry Potter figure, but when I picked up a plastic M-16, I was told, 'That's for the 10-year-olds,'" he said.

"I was shocked...war-themed toys and toys from TV shows and movies with far more violence than Harry Potter and these were considered appropriate toys?"

So a fantasy character that's uses his powers to fight evil is not appropriate for children, and yet it's perfectly acceptable in this day and age to give out fake guns to little children?  Oh but of course.

If there's one thing that infuriates me is when people use the faith of Christianity, a faith that I adhere to (or at least try to), to try to validate their own bigoted and hateful behavior.   I get tired of these hucksters and liars and pimps and charlatans pushing their own special brand of hypocrisy and hatred under the guise of Christianity.

The Salvation Army is no different than any of the other hate mongers like Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins or Fred Phelps.

These people are practicing their own brand of their faith that doesn't adhere to the true teachings of Jesus.  Instead they've twisted things around until their faith fits their beliefs, not the other way around.

It's like the quote says, "you know you've created God in your image, when He hates all the same people that you do".

I implore you, whoever is reading this, please do not donate money or goods or services to the Salvation Army this year or any year.   There are plenty of other worthy charities out there that help the homeless and less fortunate in the communities.

Check out the non-profit soup kitchens or homeless shelters that are not under the SA brand.   Ask them what they are doing with their donations, whether they are using them to give to those unfortunate souls who are in need, or if they are doing like the Salvation Army in Charlottesville Virginia, and other places I'm sure, sell them in their own store.

Use your money and donations wisely.  There are many people out there who are truly in need.   Please make sure THEY are the ones getting this, not the greedy, bigoted and absolutely unChristian sonsofbitches at the Salvation Army.

Dec 10, 2010

The MLB Hall of Fame is a joke if Dale Murphy is not elected.


UPDATE: November 28th 2012

This is the final year that Murphy is going to be on the ballot and barring a massive swing of votes, he'll end up short of the 75% needed. 

I've said all I can say about this subject, and continue to maintain the stance that headlines this post.  The MLB Hall of Fame is a joke.  This is demonstrably true especially as it relates to the voting.  You have people voting for people because they were their favorite players, you have people voting against people on their 1st ballot just because they felt slighted in some way (such as Roberto Alomar), and you have cases of someone falling short in their 1st season and then getting a massive jump in their 2nd year.

You have some that don't nominate anyone at all.  With these types of shenanigans going on, is it any wonder that many people regard the MLB HOF process a joke?

And in my opinion, with someone like Dale Murphy not even getting a sniff, it's just shameful.   Eventually steroid users will get in (if they haven't already) and yet a guy like Dale who did everything right, thought only of others, never of himself, and was the perfect ambassador for the game and the cities and teams he represented (Atlanta Braves for 15 years, The Philadelphia Phillies for 2 and the Colorado Rockies for 1).

If Dale doesn't get in but Mark McGwire does, then what does that tell the kids coming up?  Cheat and you'll still become a winner in the eyes of the Hall of Fame and get the sport's highest honor?

Shameful.

I'll update this in early January when the HOF class is announced.

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UPDATE: December 11th 2010.

This year marks the thirteenth year that Murphy has been on the ballots, and has yet he has never garnered more than 23.2% (in 2000) on the ballots, in which you need 75% to be admitted.   It drives me crazy to think that in two years he'll no longer be on the ballot.   


His fate then will be up to the Veteran's committee, however they were too stupid to put in Ron Santos, so I don't know if looking to them to do what should be obvious is common sense or not.


I've made my opinions known below on why I think he should be inducted.  While he does have his negatives (low batting average, under 400 homers, high strikeout totals), he led the entire decade of the 1980's in many categories, including hitting the second most home runs in all of Baseball over those 10 years.   Multiple MVP's, multiple all star starts and appearances, multiple Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers, etc.


Then you factor in his character, what he meant to the game, and his working towards getting high school and college kids to promise to not use steroids, and I don't know how he's NOT in.



UPDATE: January 6th 2010.

The votes are in, and while Dale Murphy did not get elected to the Hall of Fame, which was predictable, he did NOT fall off the ballot, having garnered 62 votes and 11.7% of the votes.   This further goes to show that the Hall of Fame voters are clueless.  When you have hapless and clueless people like Jay Mariotti voting for the Hall of Fame (or rather NOT voting for the Hall of Fame) then you're going to be at the mercy of people who perhaps think they know Baseball more than they do. 

How do we fix this?  I dunno.  Maybe have managers and players alone voting for it?   Perhaps have it where you have to have been retired from the game for at least ten years to be able to vote, and you can't vote for yourself or a team mate?    I would trust people who played with Murphy to be a good judge of his career, than some idiot sports writer who's too self absorbed to even fill his ballot out.

Feel free to leave a comment and suggest how you would change the Hall of Fame voting, if at all.   Even if you don't agree with me, that Murphy deserves to be inducted.

My congratulations go out to Andre Dawson who was the sole inductee this year.  Way to go Andre.  Much deserved!


===============

Growing up in Virginia I loved watching my beloved Atlanta Braves play.  Seeing as how TBS, then owned by Ted Turner who also owned the Atlanta Braves, aired nearly all their games on TV, it was very easy for me to see them.   I grew up loving the 1980's era team filled with players like Bob Horner, Glenn Hubbard, Steve Bedrosian, Pascual Perez, Brett Butler, Claudell Washington and my personal favorite player, Dale Murphy.

I remember in 1983 I got to go see them play in Atlanta when they took on the hated New York Mets.   I don't remember much from the game, but I remember a few things.   First, I got to have ice cream in a mini-helmet.  That was just the epitome of cool, at my tender age of eight years old.  Second, I remember somewhere along that trip I met Chief Knockahoma which was one of the highlights of my day.   And third, I remember my favorite player, Dale Murphy, popping up to third base to end the game, which was won by the hated New York Mets 3-2.

Fulton County Stadium, which is no longer around, was such a beautiful stadium.   I was seriously upset when they tore it down to build a more updated stadium.  I understood it, but still didn't like it.   Too many of our national ballparks have gone the way of the dinosaur, either the entire place being torn down, or corporate names slapped onto them replacing what we always knew them as.



After Dale Murphy retired, I didn't even consider that he wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.  I mean, this is DALE MURPHY.  Sure, my feelings were colored by the fact that he was my favorite player, and I got to see him play a lot, but I couldn't understand how he wouldn't be an automatic lock.  At the very LEAST he would get in on his second or third try right?   RIGHT?

Unfortunately that's not the way it went down.   In the 16 years since he retired, Murphy hasn't come close to getting elected.   In order to get elected you need 75% of the vote, and last year (2008) he only got just over 11%.  He's never gotten more than 23.2% of the votes.

How can this be?   The man is a back to back MVP, one of only two players in HISTORY to have back to back MVPs and not be in the Hall of Fame (Roger Maris is the other).   A big knock against him is that he only had 398 home runs and a lifetime average of .265.  Also many people want to label him as only being REALLY good for a span of four or five years during the 80's.   He never won a championship and was only on ONE playoff team (1982).

However, if we kept out all the players who never won a World Series title, there would be numerous players who wouldn't be in.

And those who like to say that he was only good for a handful of years are missing the big picture.

In the entire decade of the 80's only one man hit more home runs than Murphy (Mike Schmidt).  He tied for the most RBI's hit ALL DECADE, and he got more hits and scored more runs than anyone in Major League Baseball over those ten years.

He was a seven time all star (five time starter), he won five straight gold glove awards, won the home run title two years in a row, won the Batting title twice, and was named NL Player of the month 6 times in his career.

When he had retired he was ranked #27 all time in Home runs and 4th among active players.  In 1983 he was only the fourth NL player in history to reach the 30/30 club.  That year he also joined Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as the only players in HISTORY to hit 30 home runs, steal 30 bases and hit .300 in the same season.

And while, yes, his home run total (398) and average (.265) were not the stuff that legends are made of, there are many people in the Hall of Fame that have stats that are not as good.

Ozzie Smith, no doubt a great player and deservedly in the Hall of Fame, had a lower average (.262) and only 28 career home runs.

Ryne Sandberg had a slightly better average (.285) but had only 282 home runs.

Cal Ripken Jr. only had 33 more home runs than Dale Murphy, and his career batting average was only .006 higher, at .271.

All three are in the Hall of Fame, based not just on offensive numbers, but also defensive numbers and what they meant to the game of Baseball.

So why is Dale Murphy not held to those exact same standards?

Here was a guy who won five straight gold glove awards at a position (Center Field) that was not his original position.  He started out as catcher, then moved to 1st base and then to the outfield.

Here's a guy who was equal to or BETTER than Ryne Sandberg, Cal Ripken Jr. and Ozzie Smith in the categories that are used AGAINST Murphy, and yet they are in (and rightfully so) and Murphy will likely never get in (Shamefully so).

But hey, who am I?  I'm just a Braves fan.   Of course I'm biased, right?  Well listen to what some of his peers thought.  And for the sake of fairness, I'm not going to include any Braves associated people.

Andre Dawson



"If you can't be impressed by Murph, you can't be impressed. What really impresses me is how he started out as a catcher a few years back and ends up in center field with a Gold Glove. You've got to appreciate that kind of talent."



Nolan Ryan


"I can't imagine Joe DiMaggio was a better all-around player than Dale Murphy."



Pete Rose


"These days, anytime one of my pitchers keeps Murphy in the ballpark, I pat 'em on the fanny."


Ron Darling



"There's no doubt he's a great hitter who will get his home runs and RBIs, but the best thing about him is he also plays a great center field. In this age of specialization, when you get some guys who can steal, some who can hit, and some who can field, it's nice to see a guy who can play all the facets."


Mario Soto


"I don't challenge Murphy, even if he's 0 for 20. Not him, not ever."


In the coming years you're going to see many players coming up for eligibility who have been tainted with the steroid stigma.   Mark McGwire is up this year.  Others coming up in the future will be Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, Raphael Palmerio, Barry Bonds and more.

And many of them will probably be voted in, while not on the first try, eventually.  Which will be a sad state of affairs when someone like Dale Murphy who played 100% legit, has always lived his life according to the best interest of Baseball and his own moral code won't.

Dale Murphy even set up a foundation called "I Won't Cheat" in which he tries to keep high school and college kids from getting involved in steroids, before they even get to the minor leagues.



This is a guy who's not worthy of being in the Hall of Fame?   This is a guy, who in the entire decade of the 80's was one of the most dominant and just flat out scary people to face, hitting the second most home runs and the most hits and runs in all of baseball isn't good enough?

If Dale Murphy isn't good enough for the Hall of Fame, what's the point of having a Hall of Fame?  Enough with this nonsense of "he belongs in the Hall of Very Very Good".

This year will more than likely be his final year on the ballot, because if he drops below 5% then he's off the ballot and won't be elected unless the Veterans Committee decides to do the right thing and sack up and put him in.

I have to say, that with all of Baseball's faults, and all of it's bad press and publicity they've gotten over the steroid scandal and they're own foot dragging over the mess, what could be a better way to take a step in the right direction, than by recognizing one of the all time greats, not just at the game of baseball, but one of the all time great people, and the all time great ambassadors of the game and representatives of the game.

Someone that played the game the right way, didn't cheat, and never had a whiff of controversy around him.

As I said, if Dale Murphy isn't Hall of Fame worthy....who is?   And if not, what's the point of having it?   Just elect the players you liked, and call it a day.  But don't call it a Hall of Fame, because without Dale Murphy in there, it's not.

Czech Republic criticized for submitting Gay Refugees to Penis Tests

Well, this is obviously the strangest story of the day.   Apparantly in the Czech Republic they allow asylum requests from Gay refugees who are fleeing countries that persecute the LGBT communities.  However, they also are afraid that people will take advantage of that by pretending to be gay and as a result get a free citizenship in Prague, so they've devised an ingenius and foolproof test.

They decided to submit the refugees to a test by applying sensors to the Gay men's penis and show them straight porn.  And if there's "any movement", then they fail and are denied asylum.

Now there's already been the obvious pointing out that there are many flaws in this test.  First of all, maybe the person is bisexual.  How do you prove they're not?  They'd get it up for straight or gay porn.   Secondly, how do you test women?   Is there a moisture sensor?   I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous.  

I'm not sure what's more ridiculous this week, the Czech Republic and their penis tests, or Sweden and their "Sex by surprise" charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, stating that the charges stemmed from a broken condom, and sex without a condom.

It's things like this that make me question whenever I think that America is getting to be the most screwed up country in the world, that perhaps we're not even charting.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception announced by Naughty Dog for Late 2011



UPDATE #1: December 12th, 2010


The first trailer has been released, and is it a doozy!   Also we find out that the release date is set at November 1st, 2011.  That's right, folks.  11.1.11.


Can't wait!   See the bottom of the post for the Teaser trailer and the new full trailer.

============================
One of the very best, if not THE best video games I've ever played is hands down Uncharted 2.   The game is completely perfect in every way possible.  Voice acting, storyline, graphics, gameplay, music, etc are all so far above and beyond anything else out there, with the exception of God of War III, that Uncharted 2 is pretty much lapping the field.

Uncharted 2 received Game of the Year awards from virtually every gaming magazine and reviewers in the world, and ever since it dropped, fans have been wondering whether or not there will be a third.   Well, wonder no more.

Uncharted 3 has been announced with the subtotal "Drake's Deception".   Below is the Playstation Blog post about it:

UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception features the return of famed fortune hunter Nathan Drake and follows him through a gripping, action-packed storyline that will take you all over the world. In his search for the fabled “Atlantis of the Sands,” Nathan Drake and longtime friend and mentor Victor Sullivan set off on a daring trek into the heart of the Arabian Desert. But when terrible secrets of this lost city are uncovered, their journey becomes a desperate bid for survival that will force Drake to confront his deepest fears.

Throughout UNCHARTED 3, you’ll be taken to spectacular new locations around the globe that will showcase all of the work we’ve taken on to take acclaimed physics, particle and visual effects to a new level.
Competitive and co-op multiplayer will return as a key ingredient to the UNCHARTED 3 package, where all of the new features we have planned will combine with our signature single-player cinematic gameplay to create a unique action-adventure multiplayer experience that can only be found in the UNCHARTED universe.

Oh, and there’s one more thing – UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception fully supports high-resolution Stereoscopic 3D

We’re looking forward to exploring it all with you in the months to come. Be sure to hit up your local newsstand tomorrow and pick up a copy of the December 17 issue of Entertainment Weekly – you’ll find a ton of additional details on UNCHARTED 3 and the new art shown above in glorious, full color print. Enjoy!


And here are some images, including the initial cover art  (above) which although it looks pretty badass, it can and probably will change by the time next Christmas rolls around.





And here's the teaser trailer.   



Dec 8, 2010

COMING SOON: SEARCHING FOR CHET BAKER PODCAST!

I've been tossing around the idea of doing a podcast for awhile.  Nothing spectacularly groundbreaking or anything, just a monthly podcast of some of my favorite music.   I've gone back and forth on what type of music, as I love all types of music, in all genres.   Finally I decided that I will be doing it much like my own blog:  A mish mash of different music.

So you'll hear hip hop, Rock, Jazz, Soul, Pop, etc.   Mostly uptempo stuff, but I may also do some slow jam episodes as well.   This will be a monthly thing, and I'm hoping to have my first one ready by the 1st week of January 2011.

Still have a few things to work out, such as how to host it, and getting some soundbites from some artist friends of mine, but I think I'll have it ready to go in a few weeks.  *knock on wood*

Stay tuned, and feel free to post in the comments section what types of music you like and would want to hear!

And as always, thanks so much for checking out my site.