Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Choo choo!

The idea of building and using trains of some sort continues to be discussed in this city and county. Even though the general public is overwhelmingly against the ideas. At the same time we're lamenting the decline in support over our bus system. It's being discussed because of money that's available federally for transportation needs . . . alternate transportation needs. Of course, no legislator worth their weight in special interest money will turn down what they think is "free" money (taxpayer money). So we have these useless discussions. Well, duh! Use the money slated for the rail ideas no one wants and put it towards our bus system! This seems an easy solution, but it isn't. First, we'd have to have the money re-appropriated as it's meant for alternate transportation and can't be used for such yucky things like roads and buses. Here again, shouldn't be a big problem. The democrats are in power locally, and we have two democrats in federal power respresenting the state . . . just make a phone call and ask! The second problem is this notion that "if we build it, they will give up their cars for slower, less convenient, and less reliable transportation." This is as far from reality as humility is in hollywood. Ain't gonna happen. Some like to point to the success other cities have had with rail. What they fail to point out are the FAILURES rail has also had in various cities.

Now, I'm all for mass transit. But virtually all rail systems are the most inflexible of options. They require track and a place to put them, building infrastructures for boarding and unboarding, cannot be re-routed for any reason such as an accident, break down, weather, or route demands, have a higher operating costs than buses, and simply cannot offer as many routes and stops as buses can. Milwaukee is just not a rail city. We do not have the large pockets of population or the concentrated area of jobs to make a rail system work . . . without costing the taxpayers to run it.

Let's support our buses. Let's reappropriate the transportation money for our bus system. But, let's also abandon all notions of a rail system in this city and county.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Academy Awards

Overall, I thought the show was boring. I think this speaks to it's overall length more than anything else. Though there were some things to blame. First, it didn't seem like there was the kind of "anticipation" one had about this crop of movies and the awards it would get. Second, the lack of a lot of big names. Third, while I thought she did fine, Ellen didn't do anything to liven things up. Pretty much to the script. A few thoughts:

• Ellen was funny but, again, to the script. The only skit I thought was bad was the vacuum cleaner skit.

• No big surprises in the winners categories . . . and that was kind of disappointing. Was glad Arkin got the award over Murphy.

• An Inconvenient Truth is not a documentory. What an insult to the other documentarians.

• I was surprised there weren't ANY political statments about the war.

• I was surprised there weren't any jokes about Britany.

• I loved the dancers. This is in complete contrast to past years and enduring Debbie Allen's snorefests. The Snakes on a Plane skit and Ellen's joke about the dancers being naked was funny.

• And this is what happens when one isn't over exposed . . . I thought Celine Dion looked good and sounded good.

• The film montages were all waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long.

• While not a big Ferrell fan, the skit with him, Jack Black, and John Reilly was the best part of the evening.

• There is really something wrong if you can't deliver even the most basic of acceptance speeches without reading it word by word from a piece of paper. I love Alan Arkin, but his speech ruined it for me.

• Ava Green looked like a witch.

• Gweneth and Nicole both looked horrid. That pasty comb-over hair and pale complextion look they both donned was not very attractive.

• While not a "babe" in my book, Jessica Biel looked great.

• Why was Seifeld given his own stand up routine? It was odd, too. Making jokes about going to the movies . . . at a movie award show. Granted it was about concession and garbage . . . still . . .

• Message to Robert Downey and Philip Hoffman . . . a 25¢ comb and ten seconds in front of a mirror. Geez.

• No one insisted on more time to stoke their egos . . . uh, say a few more words before the music really cut in.

As one who has worked as a producer, director, videographer, gaffer, writer, and editor, I know all too well what goes in to making a movie and who really does the work. That said, I wonder if we really need to see the editing, sound, make up, etc, awards presentations. Many awards are given in a seperate ceremony. The Golden Globes doesn't show these categories and they keep that show to two hours. I wonder if the Oscars would be better served doing the same.

Lastly, while I thought Ellen did OK, I also wonder if, again, like the Golden Globes, they might try going without a host. Is it really needed? An announcer might be enough.

Well, on to the really fun one . . . the MTV Movie Awards!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Now I gotta treat her nice!

Jackie called me the other day and told me about her morning routine with Jamie. Normally, Jamie gets up, gets into bed with us and watches a little TV before starting the morning necessaries before school. On this day, Jackie got up to find Jamie working on some art work. Jackie asked what homework this was for (figuring she forgot to do it the night before). Jamie replied: "It's a thank you card for you and daddy . . . cause I love you." We had spent the past few nights making thank you cards for her friends that came to her birthday party.

Have I mentioned I love that girl?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Jamie

Actually, Jamie's birthday was the 14th, Valentine's Day. She's now 7 years old and growing like a weed. We had a party for her and some of her friends this past Saturday. The party was at our house and had a "magic" theme to it. The "magic" was a combination of science magic and magic magic. I was originally going to hire a magician. But as I've always had an interest in magic decided to do some tricks myself.

The day of the party, Jamie went down to the rec room to look at our set up and decorations. She came upstairs and said: "Pretty good, pretty good. But, there's one thing missing." Of course we asked what that was. Jamie threw her fist into the air, struck a pose and said: "the party!". I love that kid.

Everything went well. The tricks were great and the kids were great. We made magic wands, slime, ate tacos, played a few games, and had lots of fun. We even let the party wind down by letting the kids stay and watch a movie.

Happy Birthday Jamie. Your daddy loves you very much.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Illegal immigrants

The illegal immigrant issue, to me, is very important. Here in the north I think it's easy to not see the whole picture . . . the negative impact illegal immigration has on the country. Talk to people in the south (I know several) and you get a much different picture of the situation. Most polls indicate people agree that we need to do something about illegal immigrants. What that is exactly we don't agree on. One thing, we shouldn't make it easier or more attractive to be here illegally than it is to be here legally. That just makes sense, doesn't it? But that isn't the case. We know there are counties and/or states that allow taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants. Things like loans, education, healthcare . . . even social security. Why should we allow someone who is not here legally to receive taxpayer benefits? That makes no sense to me. You may as well be rewarding people for being here illegally. Here in Wisconsin, until recently, an illegal could get a driver's license. Well, in one section of Doyle's budget rape is a component that would allow lower tuition for illegal immigrants. At the same time, he raises tuition for everyone else. Now, personally I don't care about the tuition hike. The UW system is still pretty cheap by standard. But allowing lower rates to illegals is not only ignoring the problems of illegal immigration, but unfair to both the taxpayer and those who are legal citizens wanting to attend our colleges. We should provide the motivation and means to become legal citizens. Otherwise, it's virtually another form of welfare and a burden on the taxpayers.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


When I first heard the report of Anna Nicole Smith's death, I was saddened. Simply, here was another example of how inspite of fame, money, and looks (to some. Not me.) that kind of liestyle with catch up with you. It's another reminder of how we are all the same. From the mega-egomaniacal John Travolta to the common counter person at McDonalds . . . we're all subject to life's harshest realities. It was particularly sad as she leaves behind a 2 year old. A daughter who was just begining to know her mother . . . moron and all that she was.

It bugged me, too, that from time to time I said: "I wish she would just go away". Of course, her death and my comments were completely coincidental. But I couldn't help but feel a little guilty.

But, in the end she was a no-talent, gold-digging, skank whore, who lead a life destined to kill her.

I won't miss her.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rights for children

This is a controversial subject. Partially because it deals with the Pro Choice and Right to Life issues which are highly political issues. Which itself is somewhat of a shame. But, the other reason it's a messy subject is the whole "how far do you go" question with regard to protecting children. After all, up until a certain age (like 40) children really don't know any better about most things. So to grant them "legal rights" makes the assumption they know the difference between one component of an issue and another. This becomes silly when we talk about toddlers and babies . . . and even more ridiculous when we're talking about a fetus. But it does raise the question, what rights do they have?

I bring this up in light of several articles I read. Sorry, I don't have links or specifics. Doesn't matter. In one article the local DA is bring up double homicide charges to a man who killed his wife . . . and her three month old fetus. Obviously this raises debate over the issue of "what's life" and how much should it be allowed with regard to rights. Abortions are commonly performed at three months. On the one hand, from the pro life stand point, abortion is no different than what this man did. The difference is that the mother who was killed wanted her baby and those who abort do not. In both cases, the life of the fetus is ended. In different manners, but ended nonetheless. Does that fetus have any rights? Was it's life taken against it's will? Keep in mind, we're beyond the zygote stage. While the fetus is only inches long at this point, it resembles in every way a human baby with working organs and the ability to feel pain. It's viable life, no question. But should it be protected under the scope of law? Is it OK for the mother to decide to terminate the life of the fetus (and subsequent doctor) and no one else? Obviously, the question of when life begins is at the core of the issue here.

Two other articles I read. One was about a mother who in a deranged fit (apparently bipolar) decided to kill her two children. One was 8 the other 3. She stabbed them in the neck several times with a large knife. This was a brutal killing. What those children went through while dying . . . choking on their own blood, the pain, the horror . . . I can't imagine. But this reminds me of Adnrea Yates who drowned all her children (again bipolar) and now may spend time in a health facility instead of a jail because of the trial lawyers and their ability to convince a jury Andrea doesn't belong in jail. Will the mother who stabbed her children see jail?

The other article reported that a man, mad at his two year old for crying, hit her knocking her unconscious. He then took her to a nearby playground to hide her as he thought he killed her. They found her dead some time later. What's more, they also found little foot prints in the snow indicating that she regained consciousness, walked around lost, then died of the freezing temperatures. Again, I can't imagine the hopeless feeling this little girl had before she died.

The last article I read dealt with a sentance that was handed down to a babysitter who had killed a baby from shaking her. She received 10 years in prison. I'm not sure how much one has to shake a baby to kill it . . . and I'm sure the intent wasn't to kill the baby . . . but this seemed an appropriate sentance. Again, I'm sure there was no intent, but it was certainly reckless.

All of this makes me wonder . . . what protection do babies, toddlers, and children have? Really, none. We put a lot of faith in adults to watch over and protect the interest of little kids and babies. Is a fetus that much a different story? I'll admit, I'm against abortion as a means of birth control. As intelligent, moral adults, we know there are other ways to prevent pregnancy. Between the cavalier attitude we seem to have over parenting and pregnancy, and the lack of regard for life we have on the life of a baby and children, I'm all for more severe penalties for crimes against children. Children and babies are the absolute definition of innocent and want nothing more than their very basic needs. What's more, in spite of who ever it is that mothers or fathers a child, there's an automatic unconditional love for the parents. They simply don't know any better. They are completely dependant on us for care and nurturing. Is it too much to ask to allow them a chance at life?

I think not.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Da Barely Bears

I tend to be as neutral as I can when it comes to the playoffs. I have my favorites and I have my opinions but mostly I just want good football. Having said that, I really wanted the Colts to win. As with Favre and Elway, I wanted to see a great quarterback get his due. For Dungy, too. It's a great validator for both of them. As for the Bears, like many other people I felt they really didn't belong in the Superbowl. I know it's hard to argue their record, but like the Bears of several years ago when they did a similar thing, they just weren't (aren't) a complete team.

The Superbowl revealed these things:

1. Defense wins Superbowls. What I don't think people thought of is that Indianapolis had a pretty good defense. Particularly when matched with the Bear's weak offense.

2. While defense is important, a good quarterback is equally so. Manning is great. Grossman is bad . . . very bad. I'd be a little surprised if he's the quarterback next season.

3. While a good defense and a good quarterback are important, equally so is the coach. Dungy nailed this game.

Over all it was a good playoff season and a good Superbowl. Congrats to the Colts on a great victory!