Scrappleface: “Kerry: ‘Terror’ Groups Deserve Voice in Iraq’s Future”

I’ve said many times that if you aren’t reading Scrappleface you’re missing out on excellent satire and social commentary. Today’s edition is no exception. Here’s an excerpt:

“We use that word ‘terrorist’ to marginalize and demonize people whose way of expressing ideas is culturally different from ours,” said Mr. Kerry. “But when a man takes up the scimitar to behead an innocent civilian, or straps on the exploding vest for a walk through the marketplace, he’s just passionately stating his philosophy. Who are we to judge his methods?”

Go read the rest. Prepare to laugh. Don’t drink anything while reading it or you’ll need to clean your monitor and keyboard.

Changing Comment System… Again…

Well, those wastes of oxygen, otherwise known as comment spammers, have been at it again. I’ve been getting hundreds of attempts to post comment spam lately, and I’m sick of it. Fortunately, thanks to my CAPTCHA modifications (the wiggly text at the bottom of the comments pages), none of them have gotten through, but it’s still quite taxing on my CPU. And when that CPU is shared with others, that’s not good. So, since I can’t actually kill any of the toads who try so hard to vandalize my site, I figured I try to outsource the comment system. Someone at church mentioned HaloScan as a comment-system-provider that did blacklisting and such, so I thought I’d give them a try. If nothing else, at least my CPU will get a break… I’m hoping that this will work out. I really like having comments from readers, but it’s getting to be a real PITA dealing with the living sewage who like to post ads for pr0n and drugs on other people’s blogs.

As an example of how bad it’s gotten, last week, when I still had email notification turned on, I received 334 emails alerting me of attempts to post spam in one day. None succeeded, but I still had to wade through all those emails. And just last night I got an email from my friend (on whose box I host my site) that he had to rename the program that runs my blog, because it was hogging the CPU. It’s all because of the worthless dirtbag comment spammers. Have I mentioned that I hate these “people?”

Fat Albert

Thomas and I went to see Fat Albert (or “Fat Albret” as Thomas says it) Monday night. Believe it or not, it was great! I was prepared for a mind-numbing movie resurrecting the cartoon that would be painful to watch. But what I got was much more.

First, it was the first time in a very long time that I’ve seen a “family” film that was truly family oriented. There was no cursing, and only one use of the now ubiquitous “Oh my G_d!” [As an aside, that exclamation really bothers me. People use it without even thinking; it gets said by some people almost as often as they say the word “the” or “and.” I hate how so many “kids” shows or “family” shows have characters saying that every other sentence.] Anyway, the film got a PG rating for “momentary language,” but I didn’t detect any. There were two scenes where Mushmouth says something which is completely unintelligible, to which Old Weird Harold exclaims “Watch your mouth!” That was funny.

Anyway, it’s a very funny film. Parts of it are unbelievable, but so is the premise: Fat Albert and the gang come through a girl’s television to help her solve a problem. So you just have to suspend disbelief a little bit more.

There are also lessons to be learned here, about achievement, effort, and knowing who you are. And it’s funny. Did I mention that?

The end of the film is great, too. But to discuss it, I have to give it away. So if you don’t want it spoiled, read no further.

At one point, Fat Albert seeks out the real Bill Cosby. After Bill recovers from his initial shock, Albert tells Bill what has transpired. Albert says he came to help “Doris” with her problem. Cosby asks, “Who’s Doris?” Albert responds that she’s “Doris Robertson.” Cosby then tells Albert that Albert Robertson was a friend of Bill’s, was Doris’ grandfather, that he had died recently, and that when Cosby designed Fat Albert, he designed him after Albert Robertson. Now you see the connection, and the supposed reason why Albert was able to come out of the television.

Anyway, at the end, the camera opens onto a cemetery. It zooms in on a headstone that says “Albert Robertson” and below that “Our ‘Fat Albert'”. We then see Cosby lay flowers on the grave. The camera pans around and there are several old men standing with Cosby. As the camera pans past each man, there is a brief shot from the cartoon of one of the characters; these are the men on which those characters were based! Cosby’s old friends from North Philly. It was at this point that a tear ran down my face… It was a very touching scene to see all these old men at the grave of their friend.

Now, these men are not listed in the credits. IMDB does not list them. So far no one has been able to get definitive proof that those men really were Cosby’s inspirations for the characters, but that’s the general consensus. I hope it turns out to be true.

Anyway, go see it with your family. It’s excellent!

Lament for South Asia

I wrote a pipe tune last weekend called “Lament for South Asia” that was inspired by the continuing images of death and destruction caused by the tsunami. The number of people who have been killed is staggering. I can hardly wrap my mind around such a tragedy. This tune started in my head while lying in bed last Thursday night. I wrote the bulk of it on Friday, then finished it up on Saturday. The recording of it was “interesting” since I have very lousy recording gear… Anyway, I don’t claim that this is the greatest pipe tune ever written, but I’m quite pleased with it. If you are interested in hearing/playing it, use the following links:

All I ask is that if you decide to perform it, give me credit for writing it and make a donation to disaster relief in South Asia.

Also, any feedback (either comments posted here, or private emails) are welcome.

Update (01/09/2005): Someone far more skilled in the musical arts than I realized, as I did, that this tune just didn’t feel like a 5/4, but something in triple meter. I tried several variations (3/4, 6/8, 12/8) but couldn’t manage to get all the notes to fit. To quote the king From Amadeus, there were simply “too many notes.” Well, this far more skilled person, Scott McClellan, transcribed the audio of my playing, and sent me a wonderfully rendered transcript in 6/8. It does fit! After seeing what he did, and playing it just to verify, I reworked my ABC source file, and re-rendered the PDF and PNG files. The links above now point to the new-and-improved versions. Thanks, Scott.