Three-Paycheck February

If you get paid bi-weekly, you probably look forward to those months when you get three paychecks: one on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd day, one in the middle of the month, and one on the 29th, 30th or 31st. Typically it happens twice a year, because there are twelve months, but 52 weeks in a year. Hence, 26 pay periods.

Because this is a leap year day, we’re in a situation where February begins and ends on a Friday. You’ve heard how babies born on February 29 only get one birthday every twelve years. Well, I think having three bi-weekly paychecks in February can only happen once in 56 years (14 * 4). If you’re one of those folks, enjoy today. It has probably never happened before in my working years, and I will probably retire before it happens again.


Loves Me Like Barack, and Art With a KC Bottle

I just saw two videos I wanted to share with the readers.  The first is a parody of the 70s hit “Love Me Like a Rock,” just in time for this year’s election.  I guess it was bound to happen; there’s something about Paul Simon’s music that makes it fun to use in satire.

The second is in the tradition of the “Paint Jam” video I posted last June 17.  Barbecue sauce is not just a condiment anymore!

From the Trenches to the Pearly Gates

World War I ended almost ninety years ago, and I believe it was on Veterans Day of 2006, when I heard about Florida Governor Jeb Bush visiting the last living World War I veteran in his state. Today I read that he’s gone, and now there’s only one World War I-era soldier left in the whole nation; once there were more than 4 million. When he passes away, an era in American history will be over. Coincidentally, over the weekend I was writing about American involvement in that war, for the next history paper I plan to post on The Xenophile Historian.

Roll call for last doughboy

Even Their Kiddie Show Characters are Losers

Last June 19 and July 3, I told about a Palestinian TV program that used a Mickey Mouse clone named Farfur to teach hatred of Jews. That ended with Farfur’s death in Israeli custody; presumably that happened to prevent a lawsuit from Disney (anyone remember Mortimer Mouse, Mickey’s drunk brother from Berke Breathed’s comic strip “Outland?”) . Farfur was replaced with a bee named Nahoul, who claimed to be Farfur’s cousin. Well, Nahoul was stuck in Gaza because it is surrounded by a fence, on both the Israeli and Egyptian sides, and he died when he couldn’t get medical treatment. Now the program is featuring a rabbit named Assud, meaning “Lion,” who looks a lot like Bugs Bunny, is related to the mouse and the bee (what strange genetics they have in Gaza!), and is promising to take up the Palestinian cause by eating Jews and Danes.

My, oh my. Elsewhere I have said that one of the problems the Palestinians face is that since the 1940s, they have allied themselves with the biggest losers around. First Nazi Germany, then the Soviet Union. Then in 1989 Yasir Arafat praised the Chinese government for cracking down on the pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square, and was a guest of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, just before Ceaucescu was thrown out and executed in the revolutions that marked the end of the Cold War. Most recently the Palestinians have chosen the side of Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Now it looks like their kiddie show characters are having the same bad luck. Can anyone imagine our Saturday morning characters suffering like theirs? When Bugs Bunny was pushed too far, for example, he’d say with clenched teeth, “Of course you know this means war,” and then cut loose with all manner of humiliating tricks, many of them involving firecrackers. So the heroes of Palestinian kids don’t have the brains to outwit opponents who rely on brute force? They need some better role models, for a start.

New Hamas TV show features “Jew-eating” Bugs Bunny lookalike

Hamas Kids’ TV teaches a healthy diet: Don’t eat a Danish, eat a Dane!

Oscar Night, *Yawn*

Last night was the Academy Awards ceremony on TV. Normally I don’t watch because I find it one of the dullest annual events the TV shows every year. Not that I would have been in suspense for long, because this time I knew nothing about the movies and actors that won. The only film I saw last year was “The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” and I didn’t expect that to win anything; I went because it was something Leive, Lindy and I could all enjoy (we went together to the first Fantastic Four movie, in 2005). As a history buff, I did want to see “The 300” and “Apocalypto,” but never got around to going; these days it’s less of a hassle to wait for the DVD, and after you add the cost of refreshments to the ticket price, a DVD becomes cheaper if I don’t watch it alone.

However, I did read this morning that the winners (“Juno,” “There Will Be Blood,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Michael Clayton,” and Atonement”) were all grim and depressing. Is there some new rule which says you can’t nominate a film if it has a happy ending? It reminds me of a column Mike Royko wrote in the 1980s, where he explained why he doesn’t like films if they don’t have a happy ending, and how easy such films are to fix. For example, if he had written or directed the original “Frankenstein,” he wouldn’t have had the monster burned to death in a rotting windmill; he would have had coach Tom Landry discover the monster, and make him a fullback for the Dallas Cowboys! I guess if Royko was alive today, he would hardly ever be seen in a cinema, too.

By contrast, more cheerful films like “Spiderman 3” and “Shrek the Third” brought in lots of viewers and money, and thus weren’t worthy of consideration by the critics. Which brings me to the reason why I’m writing this. Two years I wrote that the movie industry is out of touch with ordinary people, and last night’s awards show it still is. Here’s what I said about the process in 2006; change the names of the films and it’s just as valid as ever:

For a long time I thought that the entertainment industry’s principal god was Mammon, meaning that if a particular movie or TV show brought in lots of money, they would make more like it. After all, isn’t that why they have ratings services? I was wrong; most of today’s directors seem willing to forego a profit to push a leftist political/cultural agenda. Just look at which films get nominated for awards. One of the biggest box office hits of 2004 was “The Passion of the Christ”–it attracted quite a few people who otherwise wouldn’t set foot in a theater–but on Oscar Night, it wasn’t nominated for anything, nor have the studios shown much willingness to make more movies based on Bible stories. About the only movie since then with a Biblical theme is “The Nativity Story”; if allegories count, there is also “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Even Mel Gibson lost interest, going from “The Passion” to “Apocalypto.”

Now I for one don’t like getting preached at when I go to the movies; I’m there to escape the real world for a little while. Maybe that’s why I always enjoyed science fiction. Apparently a lot of folks feel the same way, judging from box office receipts. Make a movie that promotes family values, or at least doesn’t offend them, and the public will reward you by coming in droves; recently I heard those kind of movies generated 85% of all the revenue Hollywood earned in 2005. That’s also why most of the animated features from Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks do well.

When people vote with their wallets that strongly, why doesn’t Hollywood get the message? For the 2006 Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, they ignored big moneymakers like “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” “King Kong,” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Instead, the candidates were films like “Syriana,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote,” “Transamerica” and “Paradise Now”–films that promote unnatural lifestyles or leftwing politics, and which few people have bothered to see, except in the big cities of the “blue states.” If they expect me to enter a cinema more than once a year, and pay the ridiculous prices they charge for tickets and refreshments, that isn’t the way to do it. It looks like I’ll be sticking with the Internet and DVDs for the foreseeable future.

Oh, This Finicky Parrot!

Our parrot, Brin-Brin, is acting like a kid; he doesn’t want to eat his veggies! Last summer, I wrote that his favorite food is nutriberries, seeds that are rolled into balls to make an attractive meal for birds. No surprise there; Chico, the cockatiel we had in Florida, liked them too. But now Brin-Brin has noticed that there’s more than one kind of nutriberries, and is getting fussy about them.

There are six varieties for large parrots like Amazons. The original nutriberries come in a large tub, the others in bags, which are color-coded. Besides seeds, they have the following ingredients:

  • Green bag = tropical fruit. Brin-Brin was eating these when we first got him.
  • Red bag = bell peppers. This one smells like it’s good enough for me!
  • Yellow bag = vegetables.
  • Purple bag = cranberries.
  • Blue bag = popcorn. We haven’t tried this one yet, because it’s only recommended as a special treat, not as a staple. Junk food for birds!

We’re not sure what’s in the original nutriberries, except for peanuts. Anyway, for a while, we were feeding him out of one bag at a time. No problem getting him to eat the ones from the green and purple bags. Sometimes he wouldn’t eat the ones from the red and yellow bags right away, but if we left them in his dish, he’d get to them eventually. From that we knew that the pepper and veggie nutriberries weren’t his favorites. After the bags were done, we fed him from the tub with the original kind, and it turned out he liked those best.

Last week the tub was finished, so I went to the pet store and got some more. Now he’s showing a definite preference. He wouldn’t eat the veggie nutriberries when Leive first gave them to him. In the end Leive got him to eat by eating her own lunch next to the cage; Brin-Brin likes to imitate Leive, so when he saw her eating, he went to his dish and had lunch, too. He’s not as fussy with the other kinds, but according to Leive, he tends to smash them in the dish to get the parts he likes. Clearly he can tell the difference between the varieties. Today Leive tried mixing the nutriberries from all four bags into the now-empty tub; we’ll see how that works. Now how many kids do we really have?