Archive for September, 2010

So I have a lot of posts in the queue.  The result, daily me!  I know that has to be exciting!

Ahem.  Anyway, my running partner was out of town this past week, so I decided with nothing better to do on a Saturday morning that I would run an 8k (actually a little over 8k, it was about 5.2 miles) race.  So I made my way to Childersburg, Alabama for a race they were holding as part of their “Coosa Fest” to raise money to help preserve the Kymulga Grist Mill.

OK, so the summer in Alabama lasted FOREVER this year.  We finally got the cool snap on Sunday, but Saturday we still were having highs in the 90’s.  So with the race starting at 8:30 am, that still meant that temperatures were hotter than I like to run in (and I have discovered that I struggle pretty mightedly in the heat).  However, I did have the sense to temper my expectations and did a good job of keeping a nice pace, instead of burning myself out in the first mile or two.  Also, there was more shade on the route than I expected given it was all rural highway.  I only wanted to keep under a 10 minute pace for the race, and I did that, finishing in 50:30.  I had to dash somebody’s dream of coming in 22nd place by outsprinting him to the finish line!  (That will teach that 60 year-old for messing with me!  Ha!!!!!   Actually I’m just kidding about the age.  But speaking of age, there was an 81 year-old woman who finished the race.  I think that’s amazing!)

The post-race food was very basic, but fine.  Bananas and cookies.  The real highlight was walking around the Grist Mill park itself.  The Grist Mill is very cool (see above), as is the creek running right next to yet (complete with a few small waterfalls).  Very nice, I wish I had brought my camera.  The event also had many, many door prizes.  A lot of people had left, and you had to be there to win.  So of course I won……nothing.  I think they would have save time by drawing a name of the person who wasn’t going to win anything, draw my name, and get it over with.  It’s just as well, it was mostly gift certificates to local businesses, which I wouldn’t have been able to use anyway.  Oh, almost forgot about the goodie bag.  I’m pretty sure I now have every promotional trinket ever produced for Coosa Pines Federal Credit Union.  So does anyone need a Coosa Pines Federal Credit Union baseball cap?  How about a Coosa Pines Federal Credit Union tire gauge?  Shoe shine polisher?

It wasn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.  So next up is the big one!  October 23rd, The Running For The Bay Half Marathon in Apalachicola, Florida!  Looks like it is going to be three of us making the trip.  I think we are going to have a blast!  I am ready for this.  I think.  No, no, I’m sure that I am.  Am I?  No, I’m definitely ready.  Definitely maybe.  No definitely period.  It is going to be fun.  Wait, it is?  Why would I want to run 13.1 miles?  That’s why man invented the automobile!  Oh yeah, I just remembered, I like running.  It’s going to be awesome! (I think 🙂 )

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So I went to the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham this past weekend and saw a mess of movies.  All-in-all I enjoyed the lineup.  Here’s what I saw:

Friday Night:

  • Teenage Paparazzo – I wasn’t particularly excited about this one, but it was better than I thought it would be.  It’s about a 13 year-old who gets a camera and jumps into the paparazzi game who is befriended by one of the stars of Entourage, Adrian Grenier. Through this relationship, Adrian explores the paparazzi world and its relationship to celebrities (and in turn, the whole celebrity culture).  This is a HBO documentary.  I believe it debuted on Monday, but being HBO, I’m sure there will be a hundred more opportunities to catch it.  It’s a worthwhile watch.

Saturday:

  • Exit Through The Gift Shop – This is a documentary about an odd French-American named Thierry Guetta who has an odd obsession of filming everything he does.  He eventually gets obsessed with filming street art, and even takes it up himself under the pseudonym “Mr. Brainwash”.  I throughly enjoyed this film.  I will say that I had doubts about its authenticity as a documentary, even looking on my schedule to see if it was classified as a documentary or a narrative.  Now that I have a chance to do some research, I can see I’m not the only who has doubts!  Given that the filmmaker is Banksy, a renown street artist who also is a bit of a prankster, I think it is good possibility that this is a work of fiction.  But even if it is, it is really, really good fiction.
  • The Parking Lot Movie – A simple documentary about a single pay parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia and its attendants.  The attendants at this lot tend to have more education than most would perceive parking lot attendants having, and their perspective on day-to-day operations, the customers, and the world in general are hilarious.  The tagline says it all: “It’s not just a parking lot, it’s a battle with humanity.”  Unfortunately this film played at the Harambe Room, which was basically in an attic of a building.  There was not much seating and I arrived late, so I was standing in the back.  The room also had support columns in the middle of it which obstructed the view of the movie screen.  I want to give this another viewing when I can get a chance to see it free from obstruction and in the comfort of a recliner!
  • The Human Centipede And this is where things started getting weird.  Now to be fair, I knew this one was going to be weird, so in this case I knew what I was signing up for.  This one?   No, I can’t say it was a good movie.  This is a film about a doctor who kidnaps three people and surgically attaches them together to form a “human centipede”.  Yes, there are some things here that probably shouldn’t be on film.  That said, the movie making is so comically poor, and the concept is so over-the-top ridiculous that I derived a good bit of entertainment simply laughing at the film.
  • DogtoothOK, I had originally planned on seeing Mutant Girls Squad in this slot.  But the Friday night movie had previews of some of the other flicks at Sidewalk.  The preview for Dogtooth was funny.  Quirky.  Perverse.  But funny.  And since I planned on seeing yet another horror film the next day, I figured why not switch it up and watch a comedy.  So I watch the film.  My reaction?  WTF was that?!  This is NOT a comedy.  To me, this also had things that shouldn’t be on film.  But in this case, the filmmaker actually knew what he was doing, so you couldn’t laugh at it.  Unless such topic as incest, male-on-female violence, and self-harm are humorous to you.  I have seen it described as a dark satire.  I would place the emphasis on dark.  Rotten Tomatoes describes it as “too disturbing and meandering for some” and I fall into that category.  But at the same time, it has a 90% fresh rating from critics, and 77% rating from visitors so your mileage may vary.  Just be warned, if you do not like dark films, steer way clear of this one!

Sunday:

  • Barbershop Punk – A documentary that takes on the issue of net neutrality, following the experiences of Robb Topolski who discovered that Comcast was purposely disrupting peer-to-peer traffic despite their claims that this was not their practice.  Interesting film about this subject.  Director/writer Georgia Sugimura and star Robb Topolski were there in person and conducted a Q&A session afterwards, which was cool.
  • Ready, Set, Bag – Documentary dealing with the competitive world of grocery bagging!  Follows eight 2006 state champions from regionals to the national competition in Las Vegas.  Pretty humorous.  One grocery exec actually commented that the competition is “like American Idol—you never know where the stars are.”  LOL!  After the showing, they set up a bagging competition between a handful of volunteers from the audience, with the winner taking on the 2006 Alabama state champion, who was featured in the film.  Unfortunately I couldn’t stick around, as I had to grab a bite to eat and head on to the next film.
  • Evil Things – Horror film about 5 college students who go off to a house in the country for the weekend and disappear.  All that is found is a home video, which also happens to be the film shown.  Yes, very much like The Blair Witch Project, which I love.  In some ways, this comes off as being even more realistic, as you never get the sense that there is anything ghoulish or paranormal involved.  The sense you get is that these folks are just being stalked by somebody with bad intentions.  Genuinely scary.

So that’s it.  Eight films in all.  I think I got my money’s worth!  I would say may favorites were Evil Things and Exit Through The Gift Shop.

The cool thing about the festival is the opportunity to see films in a theater setting that you can’t see at the big multiplex.  But more opportunities are on the way.  It was announced on Friday night that an independent film theater would be opening in Birmingham in 2011.  They were short on details for right now, but I’m pretty excited about that.  In the meantime, I look forward to next year’s Sidewalk!

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And just from Sunday (Saturday’s lesson: cameras do not work without batteries 🙂 )

The historic Carver Theatre

Inside the historic Carver Theatre

4th Avenue District

Statue of Birmingham's Eddie Kendricks and The Temptations

Birmingham

Car for promotion of the movie Automorphosis

Street art to promote the movie Exit Through The Gift Shop

Lyric Hot Dogs And Grill - the place to eat at Sidewalk!

Sidewalk's Sidelot. Sunday's lesson: Outdoor events are not popular without shelter when it rains.

Historic Alabama Theatre

Inside the Alabama Theatre

Inside the Alabama Theatre

Hopefully I can get something posted about my opinions on the movies I saw pretty soon.

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Christine O’Donnell is the latest big thing for the tea party after upsetting Mike Castle for the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware.  I think Jon Stewart got it right when he said “the Palin is strong in this one”.  Now people are uncovering some of her….er….interesting statements from her past TV appearances.  And while it’s hard not to enjoy hearing the things she has to say on such subjects as her adventures with witchcraft, her equating masturbation with adultery (just like it says in the Bible), and how AIDS research funding promotes sin, her following thoughts from a 2007 episode of The O’Reilly Factor are my favorite:

O’DONNELL: … these groups admitted that the report that said, “Hey, yay, we cloned a monkey. Now we’re using this to start cloning humans.” We have to keep…

O’REILLY: Let them admit anything they want. But they won’t do that here in the United States unless all craziness is going on.

O’DONNELL: They are — they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains. So they’re already into this experiment.

Oh my goodness, mice with fully functioning human brains!   And that was under the Bush administration.  Can you imagine what these mad scientists have come up with now that Obama is President?!  I don’t know, but I’m betting it’s flying monkeys!

Now it may be easy to scoff at O’Donnell’s warning here.  But I have just unearthed some starting photographic evidence of just what Christine O’Donnell may have been referring to.

Oh man, those don’t look like normal mice!  Christine O’Donnell was right!  Wait, now I have unearthed some video footage as well:

This is much worse than any of us could have thought.  Not only do they talk, but one is a genius, the other’s insane!  And they are planning on taking over the world!  Forget Al Qaeda, this threat should be this country’s top priority!  Thank you Christine O’Donnell for bringing this to our attention.  Keep coming back here to The World’s (Not So) Funniest Blog for all the latest on the mice with human brains crisis!

  • Avid hunters are conservatives.  Always.  Makes sense.  If you are not an avid hunter, you are a wiener.  Wieners are liberals.  (Also hot dogs, but definitely liberals too)
  • Avid hunters are also anti-health care.  Or anti “Obama-care”.
  • Mounted bear heads over a courtroom door instills “the fear of God into the accused”.  And here I was thinking that seeing three mounted bear heads mounted over a courtroom door would be not so much scary as just really bizarre.
  • You shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.  Especially on Wikipedia.  Wait, that’s actually good advice.  (So that blue little sliver on the pie chart above is actually legit?  Who knew?)
  • Unless you are Rush Limbaugh.  Oops!
  • The talent Rush has “on loan from God” does not include the ability to tell truth from fiction.  Or the ability to do research.  Or the ability to hire people who can do research.

You see, Rush was all giddy because he (or one of his staffers) read on Wikipedia that the judge presiding over the case involving a legal challenge to the recently passed health care reform bill was this hunter who mounted bear heads to scare the piss out of defendants entering his courtroom.  (All of whom are no doubt guilty scum!)  This revelation meant certain doom to all that support health care reform.  Thing is, and I know it’s shocking since it WAS on Wikipedia, it wasn’t true.  Guy doesn’t hunt.  At all.  He is President of the American Camellia Society though.  But I don’t suppose that is nearly as bad ass as killing three bears.

I think it’s funny that when asked, Rush’s spokesperson claimed that the article was found by a staffer, not on Wikipedia but rather The Pensacola News Journal website.  The newspaper said they never printed such a thing.  But it just so happens that is the source that was cited on Wikipedia.  Of course, the date cited for that article was June 31st, 2003.  Hmm, perhaps that date should have been a clue.

But then again, Rush must be a good bit smarter than I am.  His audience numbers in the millions (everyone says 20 million, but that is just a number Rush made up, you can’t always believe what you read even if it is not on Wikipedia).  I, on the other hand, am lucky to get 600 views a month.  And a lot of those is just because I have a  “jump to conclusions” mat photo posted on one of my articles and people really love Office Space!

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It’s almost time for the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival here in Birmingham.  This is a really cool event, featuring independent films shown in 9 venues within easy walking distance of each other in downtown Birmingham.  These venues include old-timey theaters such as the Alabama Theatre and Carver Theatre (it’s neat to see movies at locations built prior to the age of the large multiplex theaters we see today).  Weekend passes are only $50, a heck of a deal considering a single movie generally runs you $10 these days.  The event starts Friday, September 24th and runs through that Sunday.

Here are a few movies scheduled that have my interest:

  • American JihadistA documentary that takes a look at the social, economic, and political environments that leads an American to turn to radical Islam, specifically Isa Abdullah Ali (aka Clevin Raphael Holt).  Something tells me he doesn’t hate us for our freedom that he was once part of.
  • The Parking Lot Movie – A documentary shot at a single parking location in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Appears to be quirky subject matter, following the work of parking attendants as they wage “war” against the elite customers that park their cars in their lot.  Their primary weapon?  Humor.
  • The Human Centipede – Horror film in which a German doctor kidnaps three tourists and surgically attaches them together mouth-to-anus (ah, that old chestnut).  Not sure about this, it’s almost certainly bad.  But is it bad in such away that it becomes good?
  • Mutant Girls Squad – Japanese horror film about a girl that discovers on her 16th birthday that she can transform her hand into a beastly appendage that can destroy anything in its path.
  • Cleanflix – Documentary about the battle between Utah DVD retailers who started editing movies to remove sex, nudity, profanity, and violence from films to make them more acceptable to Mormon audiences and Hollywood who protested having their movies edited without their permission.
  • Automorphosis Documentary about folks that transform their cars into works of art.  Hmm, wonder what I could transform my Ford Escort into?
  • Ready, Set, Bag – Documentary following eight competitors in a national grocery bagging competition.  Apparently these folks take their work seriously!  But I guess if you are going to be a bagger, you may as well be the best damn bagger in the world!
  • Evil Things – The premise of this movie is that 5 young folks head out to celebrate a birthday and disappear without a trace.  That is, until this “home video” is “found”.  Definitely can see the film is going for The Blair Witch Project/Paranormal Activity vibe.  I really liked those two films.

Of course this is just a small sample of the entire movie lineup.  Also, along with feature-length films, the festival features several blocks of short films.  Plus, and I’m pretty sure this is new this year, I see that there are numerous offerings for kids as part of the Children’s Film Extravaganza.  Really, if you like films and live near the Birmingham area, there’s no good reason not to attend.  You know, unless you hate fun!

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I mean, really, trolls are ugly!  Look at it.  Is it eating and picking its nose at the same time?  Disgusting!  But these are not the trolls I’m talking about.  The ones I’m referring to might be actually more disgusting.

For those not familiar with the term troll as it applies to the internet, trolls are those that go on message boards and post things with the intent to provoke emotional responses and generally disrupt things and gain attention.  But trolls not only exist on the internet, but also exist in “real life”.  I don’t want to give these trolls any more attention by calling them out by name, but let’s just say these “real life” trolls could be members of such groups that like to burn religious things or protest at funerals.

Now let me just say if a certain group wants to buy some stuff and burn it, or stage some sort of protest, that’s really their business.  I don’t care.  But that is what bothers me.  I don’t care, and neither should you.  The fact that we give these guys national media attention is what is damaging, not the act itself.  By doing so, we play right into their hands and allow them to have much more influence than they have any right to expect (which is exactly what they want which is why they are doing the dumb thing to begin with).  These groups tend to number in the dozens, if that.  What a handful of people choose to do with their weekend should not be national newsworthy, even if that choice is really, really stupid.  Here’s a hint for the media: if you as a reporter go cover an event, and you look around and see more fellow reporters than you do actual participants, maybe you should just pack up and leave.

These groups require attention.  If these things effectively occur within a vacuum, they become utterly pointless.  So we as society should not give them what they want.  They don’t get fed, they die.

Let’s stop feeding the trolls.  (On the other hand, feeding gremlins is okay.  Just don’t do it after midnight! 😉 )

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