Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

August, 2009:

Almost Unbearable Irony

A friend and I just returned from a trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The museum is an attempt to show that the bible is scientifically accurate when you read the book of Genesis in a completely literal way. Though the museum is physically amazing (clean, well built, very high quality, etc), it pretty much fails from the science aspect.

So it was to my great amusement that I found this t-shirt available… though I heard it was discontinued and this was on clearance for $9.00…

Creation Museum T-shirt - Science is Awesome!!!

Screeching Fingernails of Death

Grammar Boy I have a decent education. I went to a public school in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, then proceeded to college at Penn State where I majored in (depending on which semester you target) chemical engineering, business, computer science, and English (with a writing emphasis). I grew up in York County in Pennsylvania where colorful colloquialisms and clichés are a dime a dozen. See what I did there? It was almost like a joke.

However, I didn’t attend a fancy-schmancy private school nor did I further my education at Harvard or some other outwardly ostentatious bastion of higher learning where everyone talks with a stiff jaw, raised nose, and a martini in hand.

I did, however, have a mother who was a teacher and was a stickler for proper grammar and polite speech. She was not born nor raised in York County, so the liberties that York Countians take with the English language tended to make her wince, and I think it became her mission (or one of them) to make sure her children did not suffer from such locale-induced linguistic affectations. She seems to have succeeded at least somewhat, since I’ve been told on a number of occasions (by York natives) that it is hard to believe I was born and raised in York County.

I appreciate my mother’s efforts in that regard. There is, however, a side effect.

Hearing some of the torturous grammatical creations spoken by some of my fellow York natives is like hearing fingernails down a blackboard (See! They even make me resort to using clichés!). I twitch. My head tilts involuntarily, as if in a desperate attempt to dump the offending phrases back out of my head. My breathing stops momentarily as all my brain functions are diverted to support linguistic defense mechanisms.

I have some grammatical pet peeves, certainly. Many people do. For instance, using incorrect contractions when referring to a plural predicate. “There’s cars in the parking lot.” That’s equivalent to saying, “There is cars in the parking lot.” It drives me nuts.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is the type of grammatical abomination that I heard today at the gas station from an elderly woman at the attendant’s glass cubicle asking about some gift cards for sale in the window. Most of them had “$25” printed on them in big, bold numbers. Some did not. She said (and this is an exact quote because, after my bodily functions resumed their normal course, I wrote it down)…

“What are them that don’t have no price on them?

I uh… ummm….

Sorry… I still twitch just reading it.

Sadly, that kind of language abuse isn’t an uncommon occurrence around here. That was a particularly colorful example, but is by no means unique. I’m not sure why. I did have grammar classes in high school. I’m sure of it… I think. I know I had writing classes in college and even diagrammed sentences (which, and you can call me a nerd for this, I actually enjoyed). I assume that the people who speak these brain-twitch-inducing sentences also had some grammar classes during their educational careers.

Or maybe they didn’t. A cousin of mine who teaches in the neighboring county told me that her school district had decided it wasn’t going to teach grammar anymore because “the kids already know how to talk.” It wasn’t her idea (she teaches Latin, anyway), but it must have been something the school board decided.

I think that’s sad. Every day, I hear our language being spoken by people who seem oblivious to basic grammatical rules. When it comes to longer sentences, all bets are off. It’s not just little things like ending a sentence with a preposition. It’s a complete disregard for the proper conjugation of irregular verbs or the correct usage of adverbs and adjectives or even basic subject/verb agreement… and it’s all combined at the same time.

My grammar isn’t perfect and I make mistakes (I’m eyeing up the last sentence in the last paragraph with all the ambiguous “it’s” usages, for instance), but I don’t think I’ve ever spoken a sentence like the one I heard today at the gas station… even when I was in a drunken stupor (not that I ever have been, mind you!). At times, I even catch myself speaking a sentence that’s leading inevitably toward a prepositional ending… and I stop… and I rephrase. I don’t always do it, but I try. I also cringe when I don’t.

Thanks, Mom.

Jon Stewart on Healthcare… LOL!

Despite Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show on Comedy Central being an actual… well… comedy show, he tends to deliver more relevant and accurate commentary than many of the standard news analysts. He does it in the following clip about the healthcare town hall meetings and surrounding issues. I could comment more, but he pretty much covers it.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Healther Skelter
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests
(thanks to The Invisible Pink Unicorn for the link)

Barney Frank does it right

Barney Frank Barney Frank refuses to play the game that angry right-wingers try to play at some of the town hall meetings that have been going on about the health care issues.

There should be more of this type of response when people are either blatantly ignorant, obnoxiously unruly, or simply rude and inconsiderate… which are things that seem to be disturbingly common at these meetings. People are shouting out outrageous accusations or asking questions based on incorrect information and then shouting down any attempts to correct their ignorance.

It’s rather sad.

(via Moltz)

Fireproof Could Have Been Good

fireproof02 I finally got around to watching the movie Fireproof, the Christian-themed movie with Kirk Cameron as a fire chief who is having marital problems that get solved by accepting Jesus. I’ll admit I was biased going in, not just because I knew it was a Christian-themed movie, but because I’d heard, from both atheists and Christians, that it was horrible. The most common criticism I’ve heard is that Kirk Cameron is just a terrible actor.

As it turns out, I didn’t dislike it nearly as much as I’d expected, and there were some parts that I actually enjoyed, so it wasn’t a total loss. Yes, Cameron’s acting was bad at times, but not in comparison to some of the other actors’ performances, and there were some funny moments and some touching moments that were handled nicely.

Here’s the quick summary of the plot. Caleb (Kirk Cameron) and his wife Erin (Catherine Holt) are having serious marital problems and a divorce is imminent. Caleb complains about Erin to his father, John (Harris Malcom), who had gone through similar problems that were solved by a 40-day “love dare.” He suggests that Caleb try it. Caleb gives his word to go through the entire 40 days, so his father gives him the “love dare” book which gives a new behavior to do each day… refrain from saying anything negative, do something nice, buy her something nice, etc. Each day builds upon the last. Around day 20, Caleb is ready to give up because it’s not working, but his father visits and inspires a religious conversion. The rest of the days play out with Caleb willingly working the 40-day plan. It ends happily and they renew their wedding vows.

Why does the movie fall short of what it could have been? My opinion is that it had the makings of a good Lifetime Channel type of movie, but fell apart because of the writing, the acting, and the incongruent messages.

The acting was admittedly sub-par, but throughout the movie, it was hard to tell whether it was the fault of the actors or of the writers. Some of the dialogue was painfully stilted and I kept thinking to myself that nobody talks like that. There are some scenes, however, that are perfectly believable… even touching… so I have to think that the actors had some talent, but were handicapped by the poor writing.

There are very few movies that I specifically notice the directing, and when I do, it’s invariably a bad thing. The first The Incredible Hulk (with Eric Bana) is a good example because the comic-book style scenes were jarring (and I disliked them immensely). I noticed the directing in Fireproof, too. At times, it seemed clumsy (“Why are they focusing on that?”) and at times, there were scenes included that added nothing to the movie (the brief interchange with the atheist). It wasn’t consistent throughout the movie, but, like The Incredible Hulk, it was jarring when it happened… and it happened enough to be annoying.

Some scenes, however, were fairly well done. There was a rescue scene where two girls were trapped in a car on a train track and a train was coming. The firemen were trying to move the car off the tracks and all the spectators joined in, getting it moved just in time… so “just in time” that one of the firefighters was close enough to the train to have his fire hat knocked off. That’s close… and the entire scene was both tense and touching. Cameron was believable barking orders and the camera work was well done.

Another rescue scene came later when Caleb was trying to get a little girl out of a burning house and hacked through the wooden floor with an ax, escaping just before the roof collapsed and something exploded. The tension was well handled and it was all believable during Cameron’s scenes. Outside the burning house, the seemingly random, Keystone-Cops-like chaos was another matter, but it wasn’t the focus of the scene, so it wasn’t a big distraction, though I did find myself briefly wondering why they weren’t more effective at helping Caleb.

Other scenes were well-done, too, and weren’t ruined by bad direction, acting, or writing. They were refreshing.

The Christian message seemed muddled and secondary… and somewhat ham-handed. Caleb tells his father, John, that he doesn’t want to hear about Jesus and his father doesn’t push it at first. The 40-day “love dare” book John sends him seems quite secular until we find out there’s a bible verse at the end of each day. However, other than the “Pray for your wife” day (which Caleb admits he skipped), all the actions seemed secular (make dinner, do something nice, say something nice, etc). It was unclear why religion was a necessary part.

Then came the day-20 visit by John where Caleb’s upcoming conversion is overtly set up by his complaining about Erin and angrily asking how he could possibly love someone who rejects him again and again. As he’s talking, his father is slowly walking around a small campsite and ends leaning against a cross. Caleb sees his father standing by the cross, and after his father delivers a bit of poorly written, clumsy dialogue right out of Cameron’s Way of the Master evangelizing program, gets it. He accepts Jesus, admitting that he needs Jesus’ forgiveness and that he will trust Jesus with his life.

After his conversion, Caleb becomes willing and eager to do all the rest of the “love dare” program, regardless of how Erin reacts. I assumed that the implication is that his change of heart came from his acceptance of Jesus. However, aside from a few insignificant scenes where Caleb shares his newly found inspiration, the movie continues with actions that could just as well be secular in nature. It’s almost as if the writers took a good love story and jammed in some Christian evangelizing so it would be a “Christian” movie.

There’s so much more I could say about this movie. There were some really funny parts (when Caleb makes coffee for Erin, the hospital girls, the oh-so-lame flowers) and some parts that were really painful to watch (interactions between Caleb and his father, the goosebump-inducing creepiness of the young doctor, the insulting stereotyping of women), but overall, it seemed like it was a promising, inspirational love story that was irrevocably marred by poor writing and a clumsy insertion of an incongruent Christian message.

But the fire trucks were cool.

Bacon… only better!

Chicken Fried Bacon... with gravy! I’ve seen some pretty awesome bacon recipes before and some awesome things done with bacon and even some awesome bacon art, but I just saw a recipe posted by a Facebook friend (thanks, Neece!) and it has absolutely got to be the most awesome edible thing ever done with bacon.

Think I’m kidding? I don’t kid when it comes to bacon.

I present… with all due glorious fanfare… Chicken Fried Bacon …with gravy!

Yes. You read that right.

This is bacon, covered in seasoned flour, dredged in an egg wash (which includes cream), rolled in crackers… and fried. Then it’s dipped in a gravy that’s made with butter, cream, and chicken broth (and some spices). So let’s see… that’s bacon, egg, cream, butter, more cream, and chicken broth. Oh… and fried in oil.

Chicken Fried Bacon... Oh yeah!

I’m having a cholesterol-gasm just thinking about it (that’s a good thing, in case you’re wondering).

New car in da house!

Okay, it’s not really in the house, but today Lori bought a new silver Scion xB to replace her aging Dodge Caravan. The dealer let her bring it home so I could check it out and we took it for a quick test drive around the neighborhood. It’s got a lot more pep than I expected and a ton of room inside. All her Pampered Chef gear fits perfectly in the back so it’s just what she needs for her shows… and it gets much better mileage.


We’re taking it tonight when we go to dinner while my car waits forlornly in the driveway for my return.

(Anthropomorphism, for the win!)

Here’s a bit of pure awesome!

I saw this video linked by Felicia Day via Twitter. It’s a sand painter/animator on the Ukranian version of "America’s Got Talent" and she’s phenomenal.

Drew and I have started again…

Drew and I used to have a "Creepy/Weird/Bizarre Picture" contest to see who could come up with a more whack picture from the internet. No rules, really. We didn’t need any.

Recently, Drew decided to start it back up again and sent me a very disturbing photo to which I responded with another photo that I found disturbing as well. So we’ve begun again.

Share the joy. (pictures after the fold)


It’s all true…

From JibJab via Infidelicacy

Charles Nelson Reilly was teh awsum. Horatio J. Hoodoo will live forever.