Sunday, May 22, 2011

Brief Hiatus

For the next week and a half, Lattanzi Land will be going on hiatus.  We are moving!  The next ten days or so are going to be a clusterf*ck of many different things to do, places to go, and boxes to pack.  Factor that in and then add the final week of school occurring with the final exam, and there just won't be much time to sit and write out the thorough and (mostly) thoughtful posts you have come to expect here.  We shall be back, and when we return, there will be plenty of thoughts and comments from the world and society for which I shall share.

Until then.  Be safe and enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend.  

Estimated time of return = June 1.

-- J.L.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Book of Charlie Manuel

This is a little something I concocted for The Good Phight, as we like to mock Charlie Manuel for what we perceive as an overuse and an over-reliance on The Book™ - Click on the image to embiggen and  see the text better.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We're All Doomed!!!

It's amazing how fast people will fall for yet another end of the world scenario. This Saturday at 6 PM is the alleged 'rapture', and as I said on a recent Facebook status update, it won't matter to me anyway; I'm Catholic and therefore am not a 'real Christian' according to these people, so the chances of me being raptured are less than zero as it is.

Nevertheless, as I have said on this blog before, it is irritating as hell to see supposedly professed Christians fall for such nonsense, especially alleged 'Bible-believing' Christians.  For as much as they say they are Biblical literalists - I have yet to see the evidence of this with regard to the topic.

Despite my exasperation with my fellow Christians (even those who do not extend to me the same courtesy of the title of 'Christian'), I have had a lot of fun with this in class.  I have even put up a countdown clock in the classroom to keep track of how much time before 6 PM on Saturday.

I joked that the thing I am most upset about is why this has to happen in the early evening. Why do the Europeans get to have a full evening of partying prior to this occurring?  The people on the west coast get three less hours than I do here on the east coast - an obvious miscarriage of justice.

Anyway, when 6 PM comes on Saturday afternoon and nothing happens, toast a Yuengling (or whatever other adult beverage of your choice) to the fact that the Lord knows better than our fellow man about his own return.  Feel free to tease those who believed it, but remind them of the words they are supposed to believe...
"But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Matthew 24:36)
Enjoy your Sunday...and Monday, and every day thereafter.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Top Ten Metallica Songs

I'll be completely honest - to try and make a list of the ten best Metallica songs is damn near an impossible task, so what I have here is a list of my top ten favorite songs, along with the requisite explanation.  Any other Metallica fans are certainly welcome to put their favorites in the comment threads or tell me which ones you can't believe I neglected.  Enjoy!  -- J.L.

We begin with the honorable mentions - there are five honorable mentions; it was fairly difficult to make this list as it was, considering that they have made nine original studio albums, a live double album, a double album of covers, and countless other live performances and imports.

HM #5 - Hero of the Day (Load)
HM #4-2 - The Unforgiven (Metallica), The Unforgiven II (ReLoad), The Unforgiven III (Death Magnetic)

I don't know, I guess I am just partial to these songs.  I like the structure, although II is a mirror of I and III.  It is interesting that each sequel is just a little longer than the previous one.  

HM #1 - The Four Horsemen (Kill 'Em All)

Great thrash metal.  The rhythm beats sound like the galloping of horses and the lyrics are downright scary, even though they get basic facts about the four horses and their riders wrong (Theology/Bible nerd alert!).

Anyway, with the honorable mentions aside, let's move to the Lattanzi Land List of Ten Favorite Metallica Songs after the jump...

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

I had mentioned in my earlier post about Daria that I had four favorite shows in my teen years, among them the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (hereafter known as TFP).  Quasi-biographical, the show revolved around the exploits of young Will Smith and his 'snooty' rich relatives in the posh Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel Air. Ok, that's a little bit too much of a TV Guide-style of recap for an entire series...

Six seasons were made of TFP, but not all of the seasons were created equally.  The first three seasons were absolutely fantastic; true, it took a few episodes to hit stride, but I don't know of too many television series where that wasn't the case.  One season was decent (the fifth), one season was mediocre (the fourth), and one was completely god-awful (the sixth).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Breaking the NFL Moratorium: A Few Random Comments

I know, I know.  I am violating my own self-imposed rules, but much like the ramblings on some political things a few weeks, I just can't sit by and let some things go by without commentary...

- The Battered Wife Syndrome (BWS) is completely out of control now.  Every single day, I can go to a place like PFT or ESPN, or Yahoo! Sports and there will be something, anything, that essentially says 'oh please, please get a deal done!  We don't care how or why, just please get something done!'.  It's absolutely pathetic, especially since these are allegedly objective members of the media.  

- Drew Magary of Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber has officially crossed into BWS territory.  Previously, I had said that Drew hadn't quite gotten there, but then he went and wrote this.  I like Drew's writing (I own his book Men With Balls), but I was incredibly disappointed by this rant, which in essence says anyone who isn't completely in the tank for the players in this labor situation is a brain-dead, douchey, borderline-criminal asshole.  He sounds like a crybaby who lost his binky.  Get over it that some may actually disagree with you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Conundrum of Talent

In class today, we were talking about whether talents and abilities are innately given (inspired) or are they things can be taught and learned. In going back to ancient times, Plato and Aristotle had this very same argument, with the former taking the position of inspiration and the latter believing talents could be taught and learned.  I posed this question to my students and I don't think they knew exactly what to say.  I don't blame them, since our society yanks them in two different directions...

On the one hand, we have always been told about the 'gifts' that we possess - there is no rhyme or reason as to why we have this seemingly innate ability to do or perform (fill in the blank). It's as if God has blessed us with something we have not earned, cultivated, or even deserved.

On the other hand, being the country and society in which we live, almost everyone under the age of forty has heard the following statement as a child: "if you just put your mind to it, you can do or be ANYTHING YOU WANT!!!"  Just a little bit of hard work, elbow grease, and that good old American pull-up-by-the-bootstraps ethic is all you need.  This is why you get six year olds on the radio saying they want to be marine biologists and nuclear physicists.  Hell, I wanted to be a professional baseball player at six - obviously that didn't work out, but I believed it then that if I worked hard it would all pay off.

In our time, we are sort of in a tug of war between the two views, and which one should we lean toward?  My honest answer is a bit copout-ish, but I think there is room to believe both.  I look at authors and artists especially as those who have been blessed with a special gift from God.  It's hard not to believe that when looking at the work of someone such as Michelangelo, whose Pietà still stuns me to this day.  How did he do that???  Can that even be taught? Can the composition abilities of Mozart be taught?  What about the writing ability of a Mark Twain?  

However, when you look at, for example, athletes and performing musicians, we see those who have indeed learned and honed a particular craft through long years of work and practice.  Practice makes perfect, so we have been told, so the idea of the great work ethic can also bring success.  The problem, of course, is that we are still stuck back at the beginning of the question posed. Fortunately for us, Plato and Aristotle never really settled it either, so that let's us off the hook...

For now, anyway.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Annoying Facebook Trends

The following is a list of (in my opinion) annoying Facebook trends. I am, or have been, guilty of a couple of these myself, so I don’t exempt myself.  It just goes to show that I have been sucked into the belly of these beasts as well.

1) Profile pictures other than of yourself – it’s great that people love their children, their pets, their pet causes, or a cartoon, but it is essentially a form of dishonesty to put a picture of something or someone else as a profile picture. The exception is if you are in the picture with your child – that’s ok.

2) Meme posts – you know the ones: “if you support (fill in the blank) and want to show that you have more guts than (person X), repost this”, etc. etc. Slactivism at its finest. It doesn’t actually accomplish anything even as it gives people an alleged sense of ‘doing something’.

3) Public Displays of Affection – wishing a spouse or significant other anniversaries and birthdays are ok. Anything else, not ok. It reminds me of the episode of the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry and his girlfriend keep doing the baby talk ('Schmoopie' is the term, I believe, they used). It is sickening in person, and not a whole lot better on the internet.

4) Opportunity for amateur psychologists – Facebook status updates are the wrong spots for people to bare their souls, if only for the reason that people who think they are therapists in training come out and offer ‘advice’ that may or may not help in any fashion. They also have the effect of turning people off who would normally be sympathetic and of causing more problems than they solve.

5) People making their entire routines known – this is a Twitter function as well. I. Just. Don’t. Care. Times of changing diapers, cleaning up after yourself, or using the toilet are things I don’t need or want to know. Voyeurism is best left to those who frequent unseemly pornographic websites.

6) Location indicators – I don’t have a problem with these (such as FourSquare), per se, but they have extremely ominous implications and I believe they will ultimately do more harm than good. I guess this is partially an extension of number five.  

7) The use of fake relationships – it is quite odd to see teens and young adults ‘married’ to their best friends of the same sex, but as Dustin reminds me, it is a way to hide their real significant other. It says a lot if you don’t have the cojones to actually reveal who your boyfriend or girlfriend actually is. If you don’t actually have a significant other and are doing this, then you are just a complete poseur.

8) Having more than 500 ‘friends’ – most individuals don’t even know five-hundred people personally, never mind to have five-hundred actual friends. People can only normally keep up with a maximum of about 150-200 people. Having more than that just becomes, to a large degree, a dick-waving contest.

And a bonus one (from Dustin)…

9) People who say Facebook is terrible and they will never stoop down and join that crap; then after four years they join it and are on it frequently.

I am searching for a comeback….

Still searching…

Ok, I got one now…

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

People Need A Thicker Skin...

There has been a Senate committee hearing called.  You'd think it was something very important to the future of our country, or perhaps there is a security threat?  Nope.  It's not that.  

It's over the fact that Osama bin Laden's code name was...Geronimo.  

That's it.  

However, this has been deemed as offensive to Native Americans everywhere. Seriously, do these grievance-mongers not have anything better to do?  I guess they are protesting....wait for it...for the sake of the children!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Should We Fear For The Children?

The Rock wants to know
if you have forgotten him
By the title, I don't mean this.  Just wanted to let you know. Anyway, on to the point...*

The cultural ADD of our youth is a sight to behold and it is utterly breathtaking at times. Today, I played some very well-known songs in class as part of the lesson (if you really want to know what that lesson was, ask, and thou shalt receiveth!); the mockery and cluelessness that emanated from the students was astonishing in so many ways. It should be noted that there were exceptions; some did, in fact, know the songs.

Here...this was the playlist:

1) Cake – The Distance
2) Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
3) Smash Mouth – Walkin' On The Sun
4) Metallica – The God That Failed
5) Queen/David Bowie – Under Pressure
6) The Beatles – Yesterday
7) Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven
8) Don McLean – American Pie

Ok, I wasn't expecting them to necessarily know numbers one, three, and four. The other five, though, are staples of any hit list in rock history.

How do we deal with this?

Cultural ADD runs rampant in our younger generation – a topic I covered in my post about Family Guy – and I am not sure there is any way to stop it. Parents can try, but forcing ‘old’ stuff on them is ultimately counter-productive and breeds resentment, in my opinion. I am not quite at the point of despondency currently, but I don’t think the future is looking all that bright in this regard.

I can still hope, though. Right?


*I always look for a reason or excuse to use that clip; it is one of the funniest soundbites in the history of The Simpsons.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden...

When the news came about Osama bin Laden's death last night, I was watching the Phillies game (a game they would eventually lose in 14 innings).  When it had been announced that President Obama was going to speak at 10:30 PM, my first thought was that there was some kind of disaster that was going to befall us.  All the news got leaked out, and I was thrilled; the one who plotted and conspired and directed the worst mass-murder in American history was finally dead, thanks to the brave and noble efforts of our special forces (Navy SEALs) and intelligence agencies.

And yet, there is a certain unease that I have with the celebration of his death.  Yes, absolutely, he was an enemy of our country and people; he was also a man who was made in the image and likeness of God and in need of the mercy that only comes through the Lord.  I find it somewhat amusing in a morbid way that so many people who don't believe in hell to begin with are so willing to consign Osama bin Laden to such a place.  This is going to be an unpopular position, to be sure, but it is only up to God to properly judge the state of his soul; for us to do so is to practice a presumption and arrogance that slides our own souls onto the very same path many are already condemning bin Laden's.

That said, I have a few other thoughts on all of this after the jump...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Emmerich Disaster Formula

In the past few days, I have shown my students clips and scenes from various disaster films - we are covering apocalypticism and how much our popular media reflects the obsession with that topic. Some of the clips are from Roland Emmerich films such as 2012 and Independence Day (ID4), as well as Ghostbusters, Deep Impact, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I also decided to sit and watch The Day After Tomorrow (TDAT) at home just because I like the entertainment factor.

Anyway, having watched all three of Emmerich's major disaster films (2012, ID4, TDAT) in a row, it became more clear than ever that I was watching the same movie all three times; the incidental aspects of it change, but the plot and formula are essentially identical.  Let me explain...

1) Some scientist or groups of scientists discover that the end is near

Whether it is aliens arriving, catastrophic global warming causing an ice age (who knew?), or 'global crust displacement', the scientists serve only one purpose: to warn the world that disaster is going to strike, and then they disappear.  The one exception is Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid in TDAT), who is actually a main character.