Oct 22, 2012

Pre-debate fodder: Drone Attacks

I suggested in an earlier post that I was going to stay out of the political arena this Autumn. I'm going to, against my better judgement, go against my own suggestion to point y'all toward an interesting blog post on the current Administration's use of remote-piloted aircraft or drones in attacks on terrorist targets.

It's a topic that doesn't get brought up often enough, in my opinion. It probably won't be a major player in the foreign policy debate tonight either. Mostly because the men in power or the men aspiring to be in power don't want it to be discussed in a national debate. And that, of course, doesn't mean that it shouldn't be.

This hypothetical question brought up for President Obama by the author of the piece is a gem:

To President Obama: Your administration has not just employed targeted killing; it has made the case for targeted killing to the rest of the world. What would you tell the leader of another country who wants to make use not only of technology pioneered by America but also of legal arguments pioneered by America? Do those arguments only count for America, or do they count also for Russia, China, and well, North Korea and Hezbollah?

The question isn't if we have the technology or the ability to make such attacks, it is rather one of whether we have the right to do so or not? And what happens when our enemies develop the same technology of their own? We are the only nation to use nuclear weapons against another nation in wartime. And we have been lionized in other parts of the world for our current stance against developing nuclear programs in nations that don't see eye-to-eye with us on their use or the threat of their use. Will these drone attacks continue or even escalate? Or will they eventually go the way of the atomic bomb? A weapon of war that should be more of a threat than something that is used on a weekly or daily basis?

I don't have a good answer for any of those questions right now. But I'd sure be interested in hearing the President and Governor Romney's thoughts on their use. This Silent War, however, will most likely go unmentioned tonight. Which is exactly what each candidate would prefer. But it's something to think about as they hammer away at each other on the rest of the foreign policy topic.

Oct 18, 2012

Evil Night Together

Keeping with the October horror theme. Well, not really horror. More of a pulp-fiction, film noir-ish kinda thing. Ah, who the hell cares. It's good, okay? Jill Tracy from 1999's "Diabolical Streak".


Evil Night Together 
Jill Tracy

I'll hold your hand while they drag the river
I'll cuddle you in the undertow
I'll keep my hand on your trigger finger
I'll take you down where the train tracks go

Let's wile away the hours
Let's spend an evil night together

We'll drink a toast in the torture chamber
And you'll go down on a bed of nails
We'll rendezvous in cold blood
I'll tie you up to the third rail

Let's wile away the hours
Let's spend an evil night together

Who's gonna make you a hero
Who's gonna blow you away
Who's gonna make you a hero
Hold it right there

It's a multiple down in solitary
And you'll uncover the evidence
Shanghaied by a fishnet stocking
I'll hold you close while they dust for prints

Let's wile away the hours
Let's spend an evil night together

No need for cake or flowers
Let's spend an evil night together

Oct 17, 2012

Quick Flick Reviews - Vol I

This is probably what I'm going to be about for the rest of the month. It's October and that means horror flicks for me. I've been trying and I will be attempting to watch at least one horror flick each night for the rest of the month. So you don't have to. Or something like that. And every few days, I'll entertain you with the results in the form of a quick, one-paragraph review. That should be fun, right? Anyway...

Insidious (2010) - I've had this bad boy on my Netflix Instant queue for a long while now. A bunch of people had recommended it to me as well, but I just hadn't had the urge to sit down and watch it for a long time. I'm glad I finally did. This was a taut, well-made and unique thriller that was a bit different than your run-of-the-mill demonic possession story. In fact, it wasn't a demonic possession story at all. Er, not really. Had more to do with a child who has the ability to astral project and what happens when he gets "lost" in that astral world. Some neat references to Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman" in there, for us comic-book geeks. I'd love to see a sequel or companion film that shows the events of the film from the boy's perspective in the astral world.  
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Grey (2011) - Only by the broadest of definitions can this one be called a horror flick. It's really more of an action film with some horror elements. Survivors of a plane crash in the Arctic are pursued by a pack of hungry and cunning wolves. Yeah...that would be pretty horrible. To be honest, I only watched this because the trailer was hilarious. Liam Neeson seemingly fighting off a pack of wolves with his hands. How could I pass up that kind of fun? But it was actually a much more interesting film than I thought it was gonna be. And while it wasn't a classic horror film, it had enough horrifying and gory moments to keep my attention. Not really great, but not nearly as awful as it could have been.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Innkeepers (2011) - Writer/director Ti West's follow-up to 2009's very interesting The House of the Devil. West seems to be a fan of the slow-burn, low-action horror films of the 1970's. Because that's exactly what these two films reminded me of. This one has two hotel clerks working the last weekend of business of a historic and haunted inn in Connecticut trying to capture evidence of paranormal activity for a website that one of them has started. Trying to cash in on the fad, so to speak. One of them gets a bit more than they bargained for as shit starts to get real. Or does it? I'm a big fan of movies like this that end up on an ambiguous note. Like I said, not a lot happens (although there are probably too many silly jump scares) but it's a fun ride nonetheless.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Apollo 18 (2011) - Everyone knows that there were only 17 Apollo missions. What this film pre-supposes is, maybe there wasn't. As in there was an 18th. And, using the found-footage gimmick, this film shows why that 18th mission was initially kept a secret and why we haven't been back to the moon ever since. It should have been a fun little horror flick that preyed up all kinds of lunar conspiracy theories, but it really just fell flat on it's man-in-the-moon face. I think it was the found-footage gimmick that really bothered me. I'm getting kinda tired of it, to be honest. This one might have worked better straight-up. We'll never know.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Update: Two quick pumpkin ale reviews for you as well. On Monday night, I tried two more pumpkin ales at a beer joint in Smithtown called The Tap and Barrel. Excellent craft beer bar with 52 awesome beers on tap. The first was New Holland's Ichabod Ale. Coming in at 5.5% ABV, it didn't have too much of a kick. Not nearly as much as some imperials out there, but enough that you could taste the alcohol. Lots of pumpkin pie spice nose and flavor, but not so much that it didn't taste like an actual beer, ya know? Definitely one that I would want to drink again. The other was Heavy Seas' The Great Pumpkin. I dug this one too, but it was very different from the Ichabod. Sweeter and much more carbonated, it was a great one and done brew. A little higher in alcohol content at 8.0% ABV as well. Not my favorite pumpkin ale, but not a bad entry into the fray either.

Oct 15, 2012

Yup...more bullets

Because the Yankees have been crushing my soul lately. OK, it's not that bad. But it does seem like they have been playing until the wee hours of the morning every day, so I just haven't had much energy for entertaining the masses here on the Dude. So more bullets. Deal with it.
  • Had dinner at this joint on Friday night. A burger spot specializing in an all-organic menu. I had The Ruby, a wild boar burger topped with pastrami, blackened maple bacon, havarti, fried bread & butter pickles, smoked apple onions and horseradish mayo. I added a fried egg, because that's how I do. It was a heavenly mess. Choked it down with a Wolaver's Organic Pumpkin Ale. Wish I had a Barburger a bit closer to home, because I can definitely see a return trip in my near future.
  • Speaking of pumpkin ales, Friday was my first foray into those particular waters this year. Besides the Wolaver's, I also had a Dogfish Head Punkin and a UFO Pumpkin from Harpoon Brewery. All courtesy of a certain water-logged buddy of mine. Each one was just as delicious as the next. Oooh, and I also tried a sip of Gia's Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider. That was really tasty too. We have a pub about 5 towns over that has over 30 different pumpkin beers on tap. We may need to hit that soon as the season for this brand of ale is nearing a close.
  • There are two shows on right now that are just off-the-charts good. Homeland on Showtime and Sons of Anarchy on FX. The first is only in it's second season, while Sons is in it's fifth season, I believe. Both have ratcheted up the craziness to the point where it gets uncomfortable to watch them sometimes. But in a good way. If you aren't doing so already, you should check them out.
  • October is officially horror movie month for me, and I have to admit that I'm woefully behind. I think I've only watched two horror films all month long. Insidious (which was excellent) and The Bleeding House (which I re-watched with Gia who hadn't seen it).  I have been catching up with past seasons of True Blood on HBO that I've missed in the past, but that's more like campy, non-scary horror. I need some of the good stuff...so if you have any suggestions for me on Netflix or other streaming services, please leave a comment below. 
  • My laptop is acting up a bit as it's a few years old now. May be time for a new one soon. That's okay. I consider them to be temporary technology anyway. I don't go top-of-the line with my laptops. I get all the functionality I need out of a basic machine. As long as I can crunch numbers in Excel and dick around a bit on the internet, I'm fine. Plus there is always the possibility of me dropping it, so I'd rather not spend too much just in case that does happen. Exciting update, eh?
  • The Yankees. Ugh...
  • Biggest problem with watching all the MLB playoffs that I've been watching is having to sit through all those awful commercials that are replayed incessantly. There is this one Ford commercial in particular that uses a hook from a Train song called "Drive By". I hate it with every fiber of my being. The ad men from Ford and/or the members of Train better hope they never run into me in a dark alley. I'm not saying murder would happen, but I'm not NOT saying it either.
And that's all I got right now. Until next time, mes amis. 

Oct 3, 2012

Fucking Bullets

I've started and deleted about 5 posts in the past few days. Just couldn't work up the energy to give y'all the insightful and humorous content that you are all accustomed to. Ahem. So instead, you get bullets. Sexy, sexy bullets. Here we go!
  • Been killing it in the kitchen recently. My new favorite marinade for steak, pork or chicken is a green curry paste rub that I put together using Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste, the juice of a couple of limes and some salt and pepper. Made some steaks with it last week and it was honestly about the best steak I've ever had. Served it with some grilled asparagus in an olive oil vinaigrette. Delicious! Grilling up some pork chops with it tonight. I'll let ya know how it turns out.
  • Speaking of steaks, I'm one of those folks that doesn't cook them often enough to know exactly when to take them off the grill. Gia's sister, a fantastic chef, gave me the best ever advice for a perfectly cooked slightly-below medium steak. Three and a half minutes on each side over medium high heat/flame. Then seven minutes on a cool plate covered with foil. Came out exactly how I wanted it to come out. Finally!
  • I've been digging a couple of older blues musicians lately, but I haven't found any great Youtube videos to share with y'all in this space for these gentlemen. Bill Homans aka Watermelon Slim and Charlie Musselwhite. Watermelon Slim plays some harmonica and slide guitar. Upside down lefty slide guitar, to be more accurate. He's a Vietnam Vet and long-time truck driver who got back into the recording game late in the 90's after a 26+ year layoff. And Musselwhite is a harmonica player, singer and band leader. Dan Ackroyd's character from The Blues Brothers was supposedly modeled after him. Check 'em both out if you get a chance. Good stuff.
  • The Yankees have been both a pain in the ass and a delight in the past few weeks. Sure, they blew a tremendous 10-game lead over the Orioles late this year, but they've also been finding ways to win exactly when they need to win over the past few weeks. It's been a roller coaster ride, but it's been a damned fun one at that.
  • The first Presidential Debate is on tonight, and I don't give a crap about it at all. In fact they should dispense with the word "debate" altogether. Not sure if I've ever seen a real debate between candidates. These things are more about focus-group approved talking points than an actual discussion. Just once I'd like to see a debate where the participants are thoughtful and actually answer the questions from the moderators and/or honestly address the comments from their opponents. Meh.
  • Lies, damn lies and statistics. Speaking of political debates, let's keep track of who lies more often tonight, shall we? Both sides are fairly adept at it. But they would argue that they aren't lying. That they are using these cherry-picked half-truths to illuminate their points and agendas. Whatever, dudes. I'll let Factcheck.org clue me into the real deal tomorrow at some point. I'd say that we could make a drinking game out of it. A shot for every half-truth told by one of the candidates. I just don't think I have the tolerance for that kind of consumption.
  • There is a cool craft beer and oyster festival (Malt and Mollusks) going on out east this weekend, and we are going to head out there on Saturday if the weather holds out. Which isn't a given. It's been raining pretty constantly for the past 3-4 days now. Right now, Friday looks to be the gem of the next few days. Sunny and low 70's. Maybe the beer and oyster gods can do us a solid and move that nice weather to the following day. I sure would appreciate it.
  • I know that television spoilers in this day and age are just something that we have to deal with. But the number of spoilers that popped on Facebook (I'm told) and Twitter last week after that episode of Sons of Anarchy bordered on the ridiculous. We record everything and generally watch it the following night. This may be the same as shouting into the abyss, but c'mon folks....give it at least 48 hours before you start spouting off spoilers into the social media circus. Especially when it's something huge. Thank you.
That's all I got.  Have a great Hump Day!