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The Ten Best Movies of the Decade (2000 - 2009)

The Ten Best Movies of the Decade (2000 - 2009)

1. Casablanca (1942)

2. Seven Samurai (1954)

3. To Kill a Mocking Bird (1962)

4. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

5. Metropolis (1927)

6. La Dolce Vita (1960)

7. The Deer Hunter (1978)

8. Orpheus (1950)

9. Duck Soup (1933)

10. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Military Plane Crash Kills Four

On Tuesday, a military twin-engine F/A-18D Hornet crashed into a San Diego suburb killing four people and setting homes and a car on fire. That’s bad. That’s really bad. But I was interested to note that the pilot ejected and, while injured, is recovering in a hospital. Whatever happened to that fighter jock ethic so heroically expressed by the Great Santini? I always thought they were supposed to ride those in to avoid or minimize the loss of civilian life. Instead, this pilot was found dangling in a tree while the people in the house his aircraft destroyed got all crispy.

Advice given to RAF pilots during W.W.II: When a prang (crash) seems inevitable, endeavor to strike the softest, cheapest object in the vicinity as slowly and gently as possible.

Or, if you're faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible (Bob Hoover - renowned aerobatic and test pilot).

If an airplane is still in one piece, don't cheat on it; ride the bastard down (Ernest K. Gann, author & aviator).

And finally, “[I]f you're ever going down, you've got to get this on the cockpit voice recorder: ‘Did you see the tentacles on that thing?’"

For other snappy pilot chitchat, visit this site. No one mentions bailing out.

License Plates!

I guess I first noticed the trend when Pennsylvania replaced the state motto (“The Keystone State”) on its license plates with the depressing “WWW.STATE.PA.US.” A freaking website ad on the license plate. New Hampshire has kept the coolest state motto ever (“Live Free Or Die’) which is a hell of a thing to put on a car but snappy enough for Bruce Willis to steal. New Mexico is still “The Land of Enchantment” and that’s just charming. It also lends itself to much alteration (“Land of Entrapment” springs to mind but I’m sure there are about a million other twists on the phrase). New York remains “The Empire State” but nobody really knows what the hell that means because they have a governor and not an emperor. Hawaii has been and will always be “The Aloha State.” Arizona is “The Grand Canyon” state and Colorado lets its plate’s striking graphic speak for itself. Utah’s plate proclaims “Greatest Snow on Earth” which is a sort of pathetic way of saying, “Please ignore all the other stuff that makes this state one of the stupidest places on Earth and just ski.” Virginia has a simple “1607 – 400th Anniversary – 2007” running across the bottom of the plate though they must be applauded for dropping the white-on-black color scheme over 30 years ago and voting for Obama this year. At least they aren’t trying to hype that “Virginia is for Lovers” crap. Ohio claims to be the “Birthplace of Aviation” because the Wright Brothers were born there, laughed at, and moved the show to North Carolina (“First in Flight”). Always a little tension between those two states and it’s nice to see it played out on the plates. New Jersey has, almost certainly, the most paradoxical of license plates proclaiming itself the “Garden State” while simultaneously producing the most toxins per square foot of land for, like, centuries. Anyway, if you’re interested in such things, check out this site. And write a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles and tell them what lame-assed weaklings they are for replacing their state motto with a pop-up ad.

Thomas Edison: Elephant Killer

You may remember him for bringing civilization the incandescent light bulb. You may remember his version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" as the first recording in human history. But how many of you know about his maniacal drive to crush George Westinghouse and Nikolai Tesla? Here's the proof of the lengths to which Thomas Edison went in his effort to prove how dangerous the other guys' versions of electricity were. Damn the man.

Truth in Literature: American Psycho

I’m pondering Patrick Bateman's extremely provoking question as to whether or not it would be possible to fax a human liver. I'm going to need some help on this one because I'm certainly not going to try to fax mine. That would be counterproductive since, if it didn't work, I would be missing a vital organ and, if it did work, said vital organ would then be in Portland.

The Sharp Fo 4470 seems a likely bit of hardware and “... reduces your time in front of the fax machine on large document transmissions [with a] 16 Page Per Minute Print Speed Heavy Duty print engine.” No mention of a splashguard. The CLX-6200FX Color Laser Printer/Copier/Scanner/Fax Machine Functions with “384 MB Monthly Duty Cycle (Pages) : 65000 Power Consumption: 580W Peak Power” but I don't really understand what that means. Again, no splashguard.

The X644e MFP Monochrome Laser Multifunction Printer with “supporting labels, heavy media [emphasis mine], recycled media and specialty forms....Caller ID, Fax forward to another fax machine [or] email address” sounds intriguing but would a human liver faxed to an email address be viable? I'd have to print out the email and I don't think my little LexMark job would handle that. And wouldn't it really be just a picture of a human liver and not a real, faxed human liver?

It's a frustrating bit of business, really, when one realizes that an accounting firm can fax (or email) its quarterly reports without any problems but something as useful as a liver must be hand-carried from place to place.

So, in this case, we'll have to say that literature presents false hope and human livers are not able to be faxed under any conditions though it is still possible to fill in all the blanks of a crossword puzzle using just the words “meat” and “bone.”

Stop Smoking With Chantix

I know it's been a while, but this really caught my eye and I couldn't resist making some kind of comment. You may have seen the tortoise and hare television commercials announcing that those fabulously helpful chemists at Pfizer have developed a fantastically helpful drug that may or may not help people quit smoking cigarettes. It's called Chantix and the helpful pronunciation guide provided by the pharmaceutical mega-corporation tells us that it is sounds just like “Chan-tix” (they did the bold-face type, not me). I'm still not sure, though, if that means I'm supposed to call it “Shan-tix” rhymes with “antics” or “Chan-tix” sounds like “cough your fucking lungs out.” Another helpful fact in the magazine ad tells us that while “CHANTIX has not been studied with other stop smoking treatments…in studies, it reduced the urge to smoke.” I guess that means they only studied it a little bit or, in layman's terms, until the convicts and mental patients force-fed the pills said, “Okay, okay. I don't want to smoke anymore. Honest. Just let me go.”

Pfizer does recommend telling your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding when you want to quit smoking because they don't know “if CHANTX can hurt your unborn baby.” Honestly, however, if you're pregnant and/or breast-feeding while smoking tobacco, I'd imagine there are other, larger issues at play that are beyond the scope of this helpful medication.

Other important safety information includes the warning that “some patients [i.e. convicts and loonies] have reported changes in behavior, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions while taking CHANTIX or after stopping CHANTIX.” Or even thinking about Chantix or thinking about stopping Chantix.

Just the tip of the old iceberg here, though, because the “most common side effects of CHANTIX are: nausea [and] sleep problems (trouble sleeping or vivid, unusual or strange dreams).” Unusual dreams? Strange dreams? As if we don't have enough problems, this helpful stop-smoking drug is going to fuck with our subconscious? We're supposed to tell our doctor “if side affects bother [us] or do not go away.” How is dreaming that my dead relatives are all dressed in Daisy Dukes and fuck-me pumps while country-western line-dancing around my severed (though still screaming) head not supposed to bother me? And if these strange and unusual dreams don't go away, you can bet I'll be the first one to go back to side-effect number one: suicidal thoughts and actions.

Anyway, there are even more side effects but I have to ask my doctor for the list because it is either too long for the magazine ad or too terrible for public exposure. It's a secret list. A special, helpful secret list of side effects only my doctor will give me. I really like the sound of that.

Of course, we're not supposed to drive or operate machinery until we know for sure how quitting smoking with Chantix may affect us, but just reading the ad makes me not want to leave the house ever again let alone operate a drill-press. So, if those mean guys at the Alibi won't share their salvia with us, we can at least get Chantix. Go ahead and visit the helpful website at [link] while I look for a lighter.

Infant Found In A Trash Can


Wal-Mart: Police receive a report of a newborn infant found in a trash can. Upon investigation, officers discover it was only a burrito.

JFK International Airport

On the Worst Day to Fly

I chose to fly a commercial airline flight on what has been officially designated the Worst Day to Fly, Thanksgiving Eve, and, beyond that, I further chose to take my return flight on the Second Worst Day to Fly, the Sunday following Thanksgiving. I, as well as those around me, questioned my sanity, admired my determination, and advised me to pack light. I had chosen to fly from, anecdotally, one of the Worst Airports in the World, New York's JFK International Airport, hub of at least one major ongoing construction project since the late 1950s and I'm sure involvement with any kind of organized crime enterprise has absolutely nothing to do with that situation or similar situations involving baggage handling, cargo delivery, and cardboard sleeves for hot paper coffee cups.

So, girding myself to endure the Worst Day to Fly, I did succumb to the luxury of hiring a car to take me to the airport rather than utilize any of the seeming-to-be dozens of alternate methods including but not limited to public transportation like subways and air-trains (not nearly as cool as they sound), semi-private shuttle busses and hotel vans, and private helicopters to set-down at clearly marked helipads. I booked the car 3.5 hours in advance of my departure time allowing myself plenty of time traffic on the roads, highways and byways New York sends us on when we seek its international airport, 3.5 hours for long lines at counter check-in (even though I'd done the bulk of that work by printing out my boarding pass and baggage claim check at home on my computer), 3.5 hours for a security nightmare, and 3.5 hours for the other 16 million things that were guaranteed to go wrong on such an expedition.

After a quick run from the house down to the airport on lightly trafficked roads, I was easily 3.5 hours early for my flight. The nightmarish traffic jams ringing JFK never materialized. The hour-long slog through ticketing/baggage check was, instead, a pleasant 5-minute pause while the agent helped the three people ahead of me. The gel-carrying throngs I'd anticipated at security were instead, hardly throng-like at all and most had seemed to have packaged their gels in federally approved fashions.

So, there I was with hours to kill in the food court surrounding the gates on the JetBlue concourse listening to the talking heads on the airport television sets reporting massive traffic tie-ups on all roads in, near, and around JFK. They talked about the crowds of people milling about the airport. They talked about flights delayed, denied, defiled. And none of it was happening. I looked around. I looked at the TV. I looked around again and realized that I was right in the middle of their made-for-TV news story watching it not happen. And that, watching those coiffed and combed marionettes mouth their reports of holiday catastrophe, was almost worth the price of admission. That and back-to-back episodes of Law & Order from South Dakota all the way into Oakland.

On Costumes And So Forth

It's hard to tell these days whether our elected leaders have been reading too much Machievelli or too much Mein Kampf. I just wanted to write that because of the alliteration. Anyway, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize the other day and it's a helluva day when a guy named “Al” wins a Nobel Prize. And Dick Cavett's essay about dressing like a seafood waiter to play a little trick on Richard Nixon made me laugh out loud. Twice.

But the real topic burning my gut is dressing pets up for Halloween. My sister-in-law has a little Norwegian dog called a Skipper Keys or something that sounds like Skipper Keys and she has the thing dressed up like a hot-dog for the holiday. Does the dog know that it is now in disguise, that when people look at him they will think first of the hot dog and then of the dog? I'm wondering what my cat would think if I bought her a tuna costume and made her wear it. Not much, I would imagine and, without a lengthy and expensive de-clawing procedure, I'm not prepared to find out.

But I do like the idea of dressing my pets as things they would eat. Seems better than the current trend of ultra-sexy costumes for adults. The other day, I had occasion to poke my head into a little shop selling costumes and, truly, it was no different than any other store selling stripper/hooker gear. I don't know what men are dressing as these days, but women seem to be expected to dress like sexy nurses, sexy witches, sexy cats, sexy cops, sexy mental patients, and sexy zombies. It was nothing but wall-to-wall g-strings and fishnets.

So, this year, look for us trick-or-treating. I'll be the dad waiting at the sidewalk, Anna will be the super-hot, sexy fully licensed real estate broker, and all the pets will be dressed as various flavors of Purina chow.

TJ Hooker says “yes.”

Do We Have A Good Relationship With The Police?

Don’t freak out at the airport or you might die. Consider the recent incident at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in which Carol Ann Gotbaum was found dead in her jail cell after being arrested while having an emotional meltdown. The cops say it looks like the 45-year old mother of three accidentally strangled herself while attempting to maneuver while shackled. The fact that Gotbaum was the daughter-in-law of long time New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum means that this case is getting the kind of attention reserved for the rich, the famous, and the powerful.

Whatever the particulars of the Gotbaum incident turn out to be and whether or not the police are determined to have been overzealous and/or negligent in their handling of the incident, public scrutiny invites an assessment of what increasingly appears to be a violently adversarial relationship between the police and civilians. Taserings, SWAT teams and their increased militarization of local police departments, not to mention the increasingly broad exceptions to personal civil liberties law enforcement is now allowed to take, seem to be widening the gulf between police officers and the citizens they’ve sworn to protect and serve.

“Get along…nothing to see here” has been replaced with “What the fuck you looking at?” Cops are increasingly outfitted with an array of communications equipment and weapons, computer uplinks and real-time surveillance video, tasers and pepper sprays and kubatons and guns in all flavors; with all of it hanging from black tactical vests. And they wear those sunglasses. Dressed up like soldiers, they seem to be acting more and more like soldiers. Zap her, spray him, beat them up, lock them up, and let God sort ‘em out.

The cops say Gotbaum was acting all crazy, shouting things like “I’m a bad mom” and “I need help” while running in an agitated manner up and down the airport concourse. That earned her a tackle, a dose of pepper spray in the face, and a trip to the pokey. That is, apparently, the only way the officers could think of to handle a distraught middle-aged woman. At airport jail, police say, Gotbaum continued to be unruly and required shackling, arms cuffed behind her back and attached to the bench upon which she sat. It was there, after all that yelling and kicking and screaming, where the agitated, irrational, downright loony Gotbaum was left entirely alone to become fatally entangled in her cuffs while 9 officers worked in the next room. Police say.

So, maybe we’ll see some celebrity justice and some yahoo cops will get exonerated or chastised, a victim either get dragged through the mud or exalted to sainthood. But maybe we should all be looking at our own police officers and our relationships with them, whether we dread an ordinary encounter with a police officer or if we feel we have nothing to worry about in their hands and under their authority. Is that relationship what it should be, could be, ought to be? Or has it become something else, something more ominous?

That’s all I’m saying.