Musings on Disney Princesses

My friend Meredith absolutely cracks me up with her witticisms sometimes. Today’s piece was quite amusing, about the 1959 movie “Sleeping Beauty”:

“True love conquers all, it would have even conquered the betrothal itself if Aurora hadn’t been Aurora and Phillip hadn’t been Phillip. Think of it this way, if some other man (let’s call him Michael) had met Aurora in the woods that day and they had fallen in love, a million kisses from Aurora’s betrothed “owner” wouldn’t have woken her up. Michael would have had to be the one to break the curse.

But this is a fairy tale and in fairy tales we require perfect endings, tied in a bow. So to avoid any political upheaval (no 6 year old wants to see that) Phillip is conveniently the prince she’s supposed to marry and the man she met in the woods.”

Click here to read the whole thing.

Device Drops ‘Vilify’

Disturbed has long been my favorite band. David Draiman and I don’t politically agree on everything, but he’s far more open to opposing ideas than liberals are (he considers himself a libertarian) – and he’s defiantly Jewish. His pulse-pounding “Never Again” calls out Holocaust deniers and the music written by Dan Donegan, Mike Wengren and John Moyer brings that message to a stage that no metal band has ever explored before.

I like all different kinds of music (with the distinct and strong exception of rap), but Disturbed is definitely my favorite. With Disturbed on hiatus, Draiman moved to Austin, TX (soon to be my home, so I’m excited) and started up a side project with former Filter guitarist Geno Leonardo. The project is called Device, and the first single dropped on February 19. I’ve been so busy with work that I didn’t even notice until last week.

Leonardo’s opening riff is definitely reminiscent of Filter, but the rest of the song seems to be a mesh of Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle – with Draiman’s signature vocals making it an industrial rock sound that is actually melodic. If you like hard rock, you’ll like Device. Lyrically, I love it; my favorite line comes from the first verse: “go find another lapdog, f—er!”

It should come as no surprise that I’m now claiming this song as my official response to gay leftists who publicly call me a self-loathing closet case and a traitor, while in private wishing for me to commit suicide or sending me a death threat.

WARNING: the video is not safe for work and definitely not safe for the kids. Click here for the video on the official YouTube channel.

The Truth About Freedom

In this day and age, it never ceases to amaze me just how many people don’t realize the truth about freedom. Every day I hear people get angry about someone disagreeing with something they’ve said or done and screaming, “freedom of speech!” (teenagers tend to insert “expression” there) and “it’s a free country!”

I’m a Texan and I’m damn proud of it. Most people wouldn’t know unless I told them; I’m very articulate and the accent only comes out when I talk to my Texan relatives. One of the things I love about Texas is our very unique way of doing business. Case in point: the Alamo Drafthouse.

It’s a really cool theater where you can order dinner and adult beverages to enjoy while you catch a flick. I’ve been to Alamo Drafthouse theaters in both Austin and Houston. I love the place – the staff has always been friendly every time I’ve gone. One of the things I love about them is their strict no talking/no texting rule. If you whip out your cell phone during the movie, you get one warning. Use it a second time and you’re gone…and there’s no refund.

Recently, the Austin Alamo Drafthouse had an issue with a teenage moviegoer who refused not once, not twice, but THREE times to put her cell phone away. Finally, after breaking their own rule, she was ousted. She immediately called the theater and left a profanity-laced message for the management. In a beautiful act of humanity, the management did what no management outside the Lone Star State would have the cojones to do: they turned her voicemail into a PSA for their cell phone rule (I warn you, the video embedded on the website is not the censored version!).

Click the link and be prepared…it’s funnier’n hell.

Here, we have a typical American teenager doing whatever she feels like doing just because she wants to. Not only did she miss the signs all over the place and the PSA’s that explain the rules, she apparently temporarily lost her ability to speak and understand English both of the times she was asked by management to stop texting during the movie – because she says more than once in her little rant that she “didn’t know about the stupid (bleeping) rule.”

My second favorite part of this whole thing is the part where she says, “so excuse me for using MY phone in USA, Magnited States of America, where you are free to text in a the-a-ter!”

Okay, sugar…since you have apparently not paid attention in class, lemme help you along on this quiz. The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Articles of Amendment are meant to protect us from the government. Say it with me now: GOV-ERN-MENT. The government couldn’t sell booze in a whorehouse (your extra credit assignment is to Google “mustang ranch”), so I promise that they’re not running this operation. As the Alamo Drafthouse is a privately owned and operated establishment, the same free country that protects your rights also protects the management’s rights. They are allowed to run their business as they see fit. That means if they tell you to turn your cell phone off and not use it, it is entirely within their rights not only to have the rule, but to enforce it.

Are ya with me so far, babycakes?

My favorite thing of all about this entire episode is the fact that the management turned the holy rule of customer service on its ear. We’ve all heard that rule: the customer is always right. We’ve all lived by it, whether as customers or employees. Whether we’re willing to admit it or not we all know that the customer is NOT always right. Sometimes, the customer is a complete jackass when they’re not getting what they want, regardless of whether the service they want is possible. The absolute beauty of this ad is that it turns a glaring spotlight on what has become a massive problem in America: I want what I want and I want it NOW!!!

Our “I must never be inconvenienced” culture treats customer service in every industry like slaves. Forget right and wrong, if they don’t get what they want, they are bound and damned determined to get back at the person who didn’t give them what they wanted. People don’t like hearing the word “no” no matter how you dress it up. It’s refreshing to see a business finally standing up and telling a customer who’s acting like a spoiled rotten brat the truth – that they’re acting like a spoiled rotten brat. It’s enough to make customer service employees all over the country stand up and cheer.

The Alamo Drafthouse will be the ONLY theater I attend when I go home from now on. They’ve absolutely won my undivided respect. As for that kid…I hope her parents are completely mortified. Mine never would have let me out of the house again.

Scary Skinny…or Jealousy?

Leann Rimes’ fans aren’t used to seeing her fit and trim. They’re all used to seeing the country starlet with a slightly fuller figure, and they remember her as a young teenager singing her first hit “Blue” looking healthy and happy.

In this day and age, with the controversy surrounding the pop culture’s pressure to get so skinny that photographers can see the protrusion of bones that should never be seen, it’s understandable when a star gets drastically skinny and starts looking unhealthy. Rimes’ new husband Eddie Cibrian was previously married to a woman who fits that description. Well, the couple recently went on their honeymoon and Leeann posted pictures on her Twitter account – immediately drawing shocked comments from followers who admonished her for being too skinny. One of the few that Leeann actually replied to remarked that she could see the singer’s ribs.

Now…I’m an EMT. I’ve taken more than one anatomy class and I was very good at anatomy. Even the advanced classes were cake for me. I’m looking at all of these photos, and I’m here to tell you, right now, those are not ribs. That is a rockin’ set of abs. Something lit a fire under this girl and she toned up incredibly well for her wedding and honeymoon. If she really were doing something unhealthy, I’d be standing up and saying something, too. I don’t think she deserves to be added to the witch hunt, though. She personally wanted to look better so she worked at it and achieved it eventually. Isn’t that exactly the lesson we want our kids to learn?

So relax, folks – enjoy the view.

You go, Leeann. Enjoy yourself.

LOL of the Day

I like Harry Potter. I was formerly a Lord of the Rings-only fan; I grew up on LOTR and was quite disinterested in the competition. Then, out of sheer boredom, I watched the first HP film on DVD and was instantly hooked. I immediately borrowed the first five books (they were the only ones out so far at that point) and read all five – yes, even Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, each weighing in at nearly 600 pages – in a week and a half.

This is what you do when you only have one job. Now you know why I have two.

That said, I was surfing Ambulance Driver’s blog and stumbled across something that made me laugh so hard I nearly ruptured my spleen:

And have you noticed that only Europe seems to have a problem with Deatheaters? Maybe it’s because Americans have spent the last 200 years shooting deer, playing GTA: Vice City, and keeping an eye out for black helicopters over their compounds. Meanwhile, Brits have been cutting their stakes with spoons. Remember: gun-control means that Voldemort wins. God made wizards and God made muggles, but Samuel Colt made them equal…

Imagine Harry out in the woods, wearing his invisibility cloak, carrying a .50bmg Barrett, turning Deatheaters into pink mist, scratching a lightning bolt into his rifle stock for each kill. I don’t think Madam Pomfrey has any spells that can scrape your brains off of the trees and put you back together after something like that. Voldmort’s wand may be 13.5 inches with a phoenix-feather core, but Harry’s would be 0.50 inches with a tungsten core. Let’s see Voldy wave his at 3,000 feet per second. Better hope you have some Essence of Dittany for that sucking chest wound.

Click here for the rest of the laughs. William the Coroner just became one of my new favorites.

What’s Playing?

I’m going to add a new feature to my blogging…since music and film are such a huge part of my life (music in particular – it’s how I communicate best), I’m going to start doing a “what’s playing” column every week. Every once in a while I might post a song I’m working on myself. This week, I’m going to talk about a documentary I watched – it’s called Defamation. Filmmaker Yoav Shamir decided to go on a couple of different journeys into the world of anti-Semitism and he made a film about it.

The most noticeable thing in the beginning is that he is Israeli. I understand some Hebrew, but when someone is speaking it rapid-fire I do need the subtitles. He first shows his introduction to the Anti-Defamation League, or the ADL, in Manhattan and discusses the activist group’s $70M budget. Next, he joins a group of Israeli Jews in high school preparing for a trip to Poland to see Auschwitz. According to Shamir, thousands now take this trip every year. He particularly points out the discussion about anti-Semitism that the students are told they will experience in Poland. There is quite a bit of that – including an Israeli secret service guard who is to travel with them in an effort to keep them safe.

Perhaps in an effort to keep the viewer’s attention, Shamir jumps back and forth between his trip with the students to Poland and his exploration of New York with the ADL. The tactic does work. He tries to find an active case of anti-Semitism that the ADL can have him follow, and in the course of that search he finds a bus from a Yeshiva (Jewish religious school) pelted with rocks by two black youths. He goes to that neighborhood and talks to some of the adults there and hears some pretty astounding views about Jews – all of which are explained not as anti-Semitism, but as open ignorance. Then he switches back to the Poland excursion and the kids are visiting a small holocaust memorial in Mejdanik; the memorial evokes no emotion and Shamir shows some of the students questioning why they aren’t feeling anything emotional about the experience yet.

Shamir speaks to multiple rabbis, at least two of which question whether anti-Semitism is as prevalent as some people claim. He also talks to a few Israelis who ask the same question. Then…he talks to Norman Finkelstein.

The son of survivors of Shoah (that is how the Jews refer to the Holocaust), Finkelstein is well-known to the ADL and is all but loathed by many American Jews and, indeed, many Israelis as well. He is by far the most vehement supporter of the Palestinians on this side of the Atlantic. Dubbing the blockade of Gaza “apartheid” and Israeli incursions into neighboring countries crimes against humanity, Finkelstein is one of the few who can make my blood go from zero to boiling in six seconds flat. Throughout much of the documentary, when he speaks, Finkelstein is pretty civil – at least until the end.

What is interesting is that when he gets back to the students, they’re gossiping about an incident with a few locals. A snarky comment from the locals has, by the end of the day, taken on a life of its own and Shamir points out that the students have begun to add to the tale. It’s an interesting point he tries to make: some Israelis, particularly the younger ones, sometimes believe that the entire world is out to get them. In some sense they may be correct, but like any persecuted group, sometimes they take it overboard and Shamir artfully points that out in the film.

In the end, Finkelstein shows his true colors and bites Shamir’s head off with a rant about how evil Israel is. I won’t quote it here, but I have to admire Shamir for trying to keep the conversation going despite Finkelstein’s open hostility. I don’t agree with all of his beliefs but it is a very interesting film and I would recommend it to anyone who follows the situation in Israel.

Now, what’s playing in my stereo? As I’ve said, I communicate best through music. Here lately I’ve watched some of the tragedies around the world and in my own back yard and wondered what’s going on. I’m an EMT trying to get through paramedic school; I often go on calls that don’t have happy endings. The song I’ve been listening to today conveys quite well how I feel about my role in all of it. On nearly every shift I go on at least one call that I walk away from feeling helpless, as though I did nothing of value and there was no real reason to be there. But once in a while, someone reminds me that even when the outcome is tragic, giving up would be far worse. Jewel’s “Hands” is a long-time favorite of mine and today it took on a whole new meaning to me.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfsS3pIDBfw]

More Liberal Lies

I always used to like Tina Fey. Her work on SNL cracked me up, including when she lampooned Sarah Palin. After her most recent comments, however, I’m pissed.

Tina Fey won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor last night (h/t Michelle Malkin). In her acceptance speech, she bagged on conservative women – in particular, Sarah Palin. She said that “I would be a liar and an idiot if I didn’t thank Sarah Palin for helping me get here tonight. My partial resemblance and her crazy voice are the two luckiest things that have ever happened to me…” Then, she criticized the sudden increase of conservative women politicians, saying that the surge was a positive thing for women – “unless you don’t want to pay for your own rape kit…unless you’re a lesbian who wants to get married to your partner of 20 years…[or] unless you believe in evolution.”

Really? You’re seriously going to go there? Okay…let’s go.

Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, in 2000 when then-Democratic governor Tony Knowles signed a bill into law that dumped the state’s responsibility for sexual assault forensic tests – commonly called “rape kits” – on local police departments. The bill also required that the departments themselves pay for them, apparently, and not pass the cost on to insurance companies. Wasilla police chief Charlie Fannon (whom Palin had hired for the job) said shortly thereafter, “in the past, we’ve charged the cost of exams to victim’s insurance companies when possible.” This was all twisted by multiple liberal blogs into “OMG! Sarah Palin hates rape victims, she makes them pay for their own rape kits! We can’t let her get a heart attack away from the presidency!!!”

Horsefeathers. No mayor, not even in a small town like Wasilla, controls the policies of the police department up front. That’s what she hired a chief of police for. She didn’t know what Fannon was doing about the costs, and as soon as she found out about it she put a stop to it. Later, when Palin ran for governor, Fannon ran for mayor in Wasilla – and Palin endorsed his opponent. I think that speaks volumes. Yet we still have Tina Fey propagating the myth that Palin personally made the decision to charge victims for forensic tests.

The second remark she made angered me the most: she used gay marriage as a prop. I hate to burst the liberal gay bubble (and the Hollywood liberal one), but Palin is not the only politician in America who opposes gay marriage. An outrageous number of Democrats oppose it. Anyone remember DOMA? The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by then-president Bill “I Did Not Have Sexual Relations With That Woman” Clinton (that was the most outrageous part of it, because he’s never been able to keep it in his pants – he got around more than any of my gay friends). It all began in 1993, when the Hawai’ian state Supreme Court ruled that the state must show a compelling interest in keeping same-sex marriage on ice. Worried that the ruling would make gay marriage legal in Hawai’i and that other states would be required to recognize such unions, DOMA was introduced by Bob Barr and passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress in 1996. During the debate over the bill, Senator Robert Byrd – A DEMOCRAT – said,

”the drive for same-sex marriage is, in effect, an effort to make a sneak attack on society by encoding this aberrant behavior in legal form before society itself has decided it should be legal. Let us defend the oldest institution, the institution of marriage between male and female as set forth in the Holy Bible.”

Slick Willie had announced weeks before passage of the bill that he would sign it and supported it. The bill bars the federal government from providing benefits to same-sex partners and recognizing same-sex marriages as well as giving states the option on whether or not they will recognize such unions. A few months later, he told The Advocate, “I remain opposed to same-sex marriage. I believe marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman. This has been my long-standing position, and it is not being reviewed or reconsidered.”

It’s also worth noting that a bill that would have banned employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation was defeated – by only a single vote. The only way that could have happened is if a number of Republicans supported it. All this happened just three years after Clinton’s promises to end the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military turned into Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. To date, not one gay liberal has been able to answer this for me, either…if liberals love gays so much, why is it that Democrat-registered black and Hispanic voters ensured the passage of Proposition 8 in California? Without those demographics, that bill never would have passed. Somehow, though, it was the damned churches that gay rights activists targeted. They would never have dared target their own party because they’re still hoping to get a few scraps from their table and are happy being lied to.

Mrs. Fey, don’t you dare condescend to me by telling me that my political loyalties are misplaced with conservatives. The fact remains, and it is one you cannot ignore, that there are plenty of Democrats in office now who are every bit as anti-gay and they’re not going to change their minds. You and your fellow Hollywood emotion junkies can bash people like me all you want and you can lie to yourselves about how wonderful the Democrats are, and you can call conservative women idiots, but the fact remains that you are supporting politicians who espouse the exact same ideals that you’re calling out in conservatives.

Not all conservatives think that way (obviously). Maybe, just maybe, those who DO would be willing to sit down and have a civil conversation if you would stop accusing them of being hatemongers, stop portraying them as crazy and idiotic, and actually come to the table for once in your privileged life. Truth is, you don’t know one goddamn thing about being a lesbian and you are not qualified in the least to talk about the issues we face.

Political Correctness is Tyranny With Manners

On October 4, 1924, Charlton Heston was born in Evanston, Illinois – he was originally christened John Charles Carter. Charlton was his mother’s maiden name; Heston was his soon-to-be stepfather’s last name (it became his surname when he was 11 years old). He didn’t adopt his stage name until his first film, Peer Gynt (a 16mm silent film he starred in at age 16 while still in high school – it was directed by future Hollywood director David Bradley).

Heston grew up in Northern Michigan, spending time wandering and hunting in the back woods near his family home. He didn’t wait to be drafted for service in WWII; he enlisted in 1944 in the Army Air Corps, the same branch of the service my great-grandfather was drafted for. That same year he married Lydia Marie Clarke. After the war, they worked as low-wage models for art students in Manhattan; it was then that Heston got back into acting, landing a lead role in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra on Broadway. He also landed several TV shows, including Studio One. He happened upon film by accident – a studio executive saw Heston on the set of a TV enactment of Wuthering Heights and offered him a contract. Lydia didn’t want him to do it, but he reportedly told her, “just one film – just to see what it’s like.”

Heston took off in film in a way he likely never dreamed. After a few lower-key crime dramas, Heston was cast by Cecil B. DeMille for the lead roles in Greatest Show on Earth and The Ten Commandments. Heston starred in Touch of Evil before landing a role that all but defined him: Ben-Hur. Hollywood legends Marlon Brando and Rock Hudson turned the role down before it was ever offered to Heston. He won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur (the movie garnered eleven statues total). He also starred in Secret of the Incas, The Big Country, El Cid, 55 Days at Peking, Julius Caesar, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Khartoum, Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, Earthquake!, Midway, and Grey Lady Down (among many others). He was one of the most prolific actors of his time and served as the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1965 – 1971.

Today’s generation remembers him most for his political activism…in particular his stint as the president of the National Rifle Association. Michael Moore openly disrespected him in the crockumentary Bowling for Columbine, a political screed in which Moore pinned gun violence on gun-rights advocates like Heston. George Clooney (who is, quite possibly, one of the worst actors I have ever seen – even beating Keanu Reeves, in my opinion) outrageously quipped during a speech at an event for the National Board of Review that “Charlton Heston announced again today that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s” (he later excused himself by saying that Heston deserved the off-color crack merely for his involvement with the NRA). Most of today’s young’uns don’t know about Heston’s early activism.

He campaigned for future president John F. Kennedy. He picketed segregated restaurants and theaters and, along with a handful of other actors – including Sidney Poitier – marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963. He protested for civil rights long before most other actors got into it. He also supported the Gun Control Act of 1968, the law that bars interstate gun transfers among all but those who are federally licensed as firearms dealers (the same law banned all people convicted to one year or more by the feds and two years or more by any state to imprisonment for any crime, fugitives, drug addicts, illegal aliens, anyone with a court protective order against them, any person found legally mentally unstable, anyone dishonorably discharged from the US military, anybody who has renounced their US citizenship or who has committed any domestic violence crime from possessing any firearm and created the FFL system for licensing gun dealers). Heston opposed the Vietnam war and voted for Richard Nixon with the hopes that the Republicans would find a way to end the war.

Heston went on to criticize the press for their coverage of the 1991 Gulf War for lowering morale among Americans during wartime. He lambasted what he saw as racism against whites and discrimination against heterosexuals in Hollywood, education and the media, saying, “why is ‘Hispanic Pride’ or ‘Black Pride’ a good thing, while ‘White Pride’ conjures shaven heads and white hoods? Why was the Million Man March on Washington celebrated by many as progress, while the Promise Keepers March on Washington was greeted with suspicion and ridicule? I’ll tell you why, Cultural warfare!”

While he is most often remembered for declaring, “from my cold, dead hands,” most don’t know and don’t care about all the other causes that Charlton Heston stood for. Considering the wealth of good causes that he fought hard for long before I was ever born, I think that is horribly sad.

When I was in my early twenties my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I watched her turn quickly – shockingly so – almost completely infirm thanks to that dreadful disease. It broke my heart that weekend in 2004, when my family gathered to say goodbye and she passed away after days of fluid buildup in her lungs, listening to the death rattle that so many have experienced in a loved one. Charlton Heston’s family has never spoken publicly about the days and weeks before his death, but having witnessed such a death, I can understand why.

Heston is still one of my greatest heroes. Not because of his fame…rather, I admire him because his fame didn’t get the best of him. Long before Hollywood found its place in political activism, Heston stood up for the issues he believed in and didn’t give a damn what anybody thought of him for it. He was able to do so with respect and dignity, without ever insulting those who disparaged him – even Michael Moore and George Clooney. Against the advice of all of those closest to him, he stood up to Time/Warner and rapper Ice-T by calling out the lyrics of Ice-T’s album “Body Count” as the horror that they were and are. He did so knowing full well that he would be ridiculed and loathed, but he felt the knew needed to be told. The days of such classy actors are, I fear, long over.

Yesterday Charlton Heston would have been 87 years old yesterday. The title of this post were his words during a speech to the Harvard graduates of 1999. He will always have my profound respect and gratitude.