Ripped from the headlines

Headline: NY DEC Warns That Giant Hogweed Plant Could Cause Blisters, Blindness.

Coming soon, the movie: The Planteriminator

Synopsis: “Parks and Recreation maintenance worker, Howard Moore, is an everyday guy, until one day at work he comes across a GIANT HOGWEED. With nothing but a weed puller, a bottle of Roundup, and he wits, he now battles in apocalyptic Central Park to save himself, his coworkers, and….THE WORLD!” (Dum, dah, DAH).

(Hat tip Jimmy Akin for the news and Zach Ricks for the movie title.)

Traveling Song

I finished up my first guitar classes last week. Decided it was time to dink around tonight and this is what I came up with. I think it is just long enough to make a ringtone out of. The sound of it reminds me of traveling for some reason.
Jason’s First Song

Bad messages in good movies

Geekdad on Wired has an article up today about the messages in movies. I was not surprised to see one commenter claim that “art is not meant to convey a message.” This person has no clue about art or even movies. All stories (including those portrayed in film) have a message. The idea of movies is to entertain in order to convey that message.

Geekdad is right on in recognizing it. I just disagree with the messages he takes from some of the movies (Wired leans largely to the liberal side).

10. If you’re not born with special abilities, you’re never going to be any good at some things, no matter how hard you try (from the Harry Potter movies, and, of course, books).

He missed this one. The squibs and muggles may not have wizarding abilities, but the good wizards do not look on them as worthless.

The real bad message is:
If you are the chosen one (e.g. Harry Potter) then the rules do not apply to you. For example, Harry disobeys his teacher by flying on a broom when unsupervised and ends up getting rewarded by getting to play the most important position, “Seeker,” on the Quiddich team.

9. No matter how appallingly bad conditions on Earth get, so long as there is one tiny plant on the planet, it can still be restored to its former beauty and sustainability (from WALL-E).

Wrong again. Earth took 700 years to be able to support that plant – and a few others we learn right before the credits. The plant shows the ability of the planet to heal itself.

However, that is not the main message of the movie. People abandoned the earth in the movie and have lived in space for 700 years. They lost their humanity during that time by pursuing only their own entertainment. Humans do not even raise their own children (work left to robots), and the movie even suggests humans do not even procreate.

The robot Wall*E is the most human of all characters. His humanity was developed over 700 years of working on earth. So the message is, humans need to work on earth to maintain their humanity.

8. Technology is fundamentally evil (from lots of movies, including the The Lord of the Rings trilogy). This message comes pretty much unchanged from the books, but it’s much easier to see it in the movies.

He pretty much gets this one right. J.R.R. Tolkien fought in World War I and his son in World War II. He thought industrialization was a negative influence on man.

7. Arrogance, brash self-confidence and having had a heroic father are much more indicative of a competent leader than are experience and knowledge (from the 2009 Star Trek movie).

I did not see this one, but it is consistent with the original Star Trek.

6. Kissing sleeping women you don’t know will wake them up and lead to them falling in love with you (from Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). We don’t really need to explain this one further than that, do we? I mean, we all know the stories.

Well, to be fair, both Snow White and Rose (in Sleeping Beauty) met their suitors prior to been bewitched. Still, the message that infatuation is the basis for a life-long commitment is a bad one.

5. If you’re a really good person, but in a lousy situation, simply wait around and eventually good things will just happen to you (from Cinderella).

I agree and disagree with this. My Catholic perspective says that suffering has purpose. Then again, we can take actions to change our circumstances. In the end, Cinderella did take advantage of opportunity when it presented itself.

4. Unconventional creative play is very, very wrong (from Toy Story). Sid, the kid next door, is portrayed as basically evil. The movie makes him out this way because he pulls toys apart and reassembles them in strange ways, and likes to blow things up. In other words, he’s a geek. If the toys weren’t alive — and Sid can probably be forgiven for not realizing that they were — his behavior would be perhaps a little extreme, but not in any way wrong, especially for a boy his age.

Could not be more wrong here. Geeks hack things to improve them or to make new things. They take things apart to learn how they are made so they can create their own designs. Sid is not a geek; he is a bully who steals from his sister and destroys her toys. He takes beautiful things and makes them ugly. He delights in destruction.

3. Even tough women who aren’t afraid to fight aren’t as important as the men they fight alongside (from the Star Wars movies).

Wrong. Leia is a princess and demonstrates leadership throughout the first series. Padme is a leader also. She doesn’t vanish as Geekdad says. Rather she assumes her new role of mother while she is pregnant (who sadly dies in childbirth). Padme’s decision to not fight while she is pregnant is not weakness; it is wisdom.

2. It’s OK to completely change your physical appearance and way of life for the person you love, even if he makes no sacrifices at all (from The Little Mermaid).

Wrong message again. Ariel’s transition is a secret to Eric, but when her life is in danger, he risks his own to fight the Sea Witch.

The real bad message is that it is OK to disobey your parents because they will apologize to you in the end. The message is amplified in Little Mermaid 2. This is coupled with the “infatuation is love” message of early Disney movies.

1. If you’re not a member of the elite, you’re basically inconsequential, even if you die heroically trying to save your people and your way of life (from the Star Wars movies).

Not really. This can be said of all adventure movies. The movie focuses on a few specific people. Obi Wan’s reaction to the destruction of Alderaan shows that non-elite people do have worth. (OK, he gets over it pretty quickly but it is a movie after all. He can’t mope forever).

Today’s Tweak

Today’s Tweak Today mission is: Upload a photo of yourself holding an imaginary object. Now download another Tweaker’s photo and draw an object into the scene. Upload the composite!

I opted to put up a photo of Bailey. Here’s the before:

Holding something imaginary
Holding something imaginary

Fellow Tweaker leopicado came up with a cute one.

Look at the future Dancing Queen!
Look at the future Dancing Queen!

Yeah, I think it fits her. Thanks Leo.

Update: A second entry

An entry from sydtheskeptic
An entry from sydtheskeptic

Good one Syd.


This evening my wife hosted dinner for some family and friends at our house to celebrate my completion of graduate school. After dinner, Honeybun gave me a graduation gift: the Michael Parkes stone lithograph “An Angel’s Touch.

I first saw Michael Parkes’ art on our honeymoon. The gift shop of the hotel we stayed at had a framed poster of his “The Juggler.” We ended up buying that print and it hangs in our house still.

Just over a year later I was taking a humanities class for my undergrad degree. I was assigned to write a report on a piece of art. Coincidentally, I had just bought a book on the art of Michael Parkes. That book included a picture of An Angel’s Touch. I choose that piece to write the report. It was my favorite of the book.

Perhaps it was because of thinking about the piece for so long and the work that went into the report, but having one of the original lithographs became a dream of mine. I took that class in January 1999.

Tonight was a complete surprise. In fact, I at first thought it couldn’t be one of the actual lithographs. Honeybun started working toward buying it more than a year ago. She has secretly been putting money aside to save up for it. During that time, she spoke with our family and friends about it and many of them contributed to the gift.

This piece of art is something I’ve thought of for the last ten years. To me the image represents our desire for holiness. The contrast between the purity of the angel and filthy sow is striking. The beautiful angel deigns to touch the pig. The angel has to lower herself to do it. The sow is extending her head as far up as possible seeking that touch and seems to be happy for the slightest contact. I can sense the joy in the pig for even the slightest touch in that brief moment.

I dreamed to one day have one of these lithographs but knew that it was a fantasy; an item on my if-I-win-the-lottery list. I really am blown away. That my wife would work so long and hard to make this happen and that my family and friends would contribute to make this a reality amazes me.

I do not consider myself materialistic. OK, I have a bunch of gadgets. But really, if the house burned down tomorrow (God forbid), I would not be heartbroken over losing “stuff.” But this lithograph is something else. This work now represents more than its subjects. It also represents a thread that goes back to the beginning of my marriage, the joys and many, many trials we have been through to get to this point. It includes the achievement of my educational goals through both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Most importantly now, it represents the love of family and friends who care enough to help make a fantasy come true.

I am touched and blessed to have these people in my life. Thank you Honeybun and Bailey. Thank you Mom and Dad, Sally and Dave, Grandma Stone, Steve, Jay, Melissa & Brent, and Julie, Shawn, Cody & Tyler. You are all angels to me.

Hootie goes solo

Anyone who knows me could tell you that Hootie and the Blowfish is one of my favorite bands. When I was stationed at Cherry Point, NC back in 92-93, I would drive up to Greenville with a buddy and we’d see them playing in a bar called The Attic. They are a great live band. Oh the memories.

I just saw that three members of the band have solo albums coming out this year (all but the bassist). The most interesting looks to be Darius Rucker’s country album. Should be fun.

Band names

I decided that when I form a rock band, I need a good band name. I was at the store when I made this conclusion. Here are my rock band names inspired by retail shopping:

  1. Cancel for Credit
  2. Special at the Deli
  3. BOGO
  4. Bakery Fresh (for my Barry Manilow cover band)
  5. Cleanup On Aisle 4 (for a quartet – change to Aisle 3 for a trio, etc – clever huh?)

Free novel for Firefly fans

Steven Brust is one of my favorite fantasy authors. OK, he is a communist sympathizer, but I don’t see that in the books I’ve read (maybe I’m just not that deep). What truly makes him an amazing writer is his ability to write well in different styles. His Taltos series is written in the first person. His Phoenix Guards series that is set in the same world as Taltos is written in a “Romantic” (not romance) style.

For some reason Brust decided to write a Firefly novel. Brust – Firefly, what’s not to like?
You can download it here.


Today is “Talk Like a Pirate Day.”

You can also find out what your pirate name is.

My pirate name is:
Dread Pirate Rackham

Like the famous Dread Pirate Roberts, you have a keen head for how to make a profit. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
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