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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

My Photo
Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Photo Essay: Still We Speak Rally

Norman Siegel, a Democrat running for New York City Public Advocate, was the featured speaker at Friday's "Still We Speak" Rally at Manhattan's Union Square Park.

The big issue of the rally: free speech and the right of bikers in New York City. It's not what you think though, it's not about Harleys, it's about bicycles, and the right to ride them in New York City.

The rally had a impressive crowd, with local news TV station NY1 in attendance. It appears that in the past year, a number bikers have been arrested during mass rides in NYC, making this a potential "peaceable assembly" issue.

New York City Councilwoman Gale Brewer was also on hand, stating that she is supportive of city laws that...get this...would ban cars in Manhattan in favor of bikes. Good luck with that.

The organization is gearing up to an upcoming Critical Mass event. The international organization is geared towards a healthier environment through clean transportation. It sponsors monthly bike rides that have been the target of NYPD attention.

This woman was arrested "for riding a bike" in January. I don't remember much of her story, but she's a babe so I had to put her picture in here. I doubt she's my type though, as the girls I date don't tend to have criminal records (that I know of at least).

Ben Mauer of the War Resisters League, who was at the last rally, spoke against NYPD assistant police chief Bruce Smolka, who is leading the charge against the bike riders. He had a good speech about New York City being a police state and brought a lot of energy to the event.

Trudy Mason, a Democratic state committeewoman and a member of the C. Virginia Fields campaign for Mayor spoke to the crowd, cataloging the seven times she's been arrested. Man, New York City politics is just different from most places.

The event has more than a few interesting moments, and brought up an issue that I was not aware of. Is there more to the story? This is clearly more than just about bike riding, they are making a political point. Why is New York City cracking down on them? Is it more than just about traffic?

While the rally stayed close to the issue at hand, the crowd seemed to be a hodge podge of left wing activists, concerned about issues relating to free speech, the war, and environment.

The "Push Back" was a theme relating to the use of bikes on the streets, as well as the right to assemble in public spaces. Handouts, and the rally's press kit, noted that these bike rides have been taking place for 12 years now, and the NYPD has helped facilitate them in the past. Now, if I were more than just a blogger, and a real journalist, I'd probably call the NYPD to confirm. Since I'm not, and they probably wouldn't take my call, I probably will not (sorry).

However, the same handout notes that this is about permits, and organizations such as Critical Mass and Time's Up (another environmental bike riding group) would like to conduct them without the proper paperwork. Time's Up retorts that this is "selective enforcement", leading us to the conflict we have now.

The rally was not without entertainment, as the Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir turned the U.S. Bill of Rights into a mock-gospel-eque song, and...

...the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, which had someone dressed in green doing handstands. You can't beat that with a stick.

Visit Still We Speak's Website for more info.

Upcoming Critical Mass events.

More Photo Essays

More (and better) photos of the Critical Mass rally.

Overstated: The issue of bikes in NYC.

Still We Speak: old photos.

Critical Mass: photos.

Bike Blog calls the rally a success.

Critical Mass rides again!
This one has photos of plainclothes police officers. Nice.

Here's some more dialogue bringing Christians and non-Christians together.

What is your political persuasion?

Was Battlestar Galactica a show about Mormons and Mormonism? According to this, it was.

Here's a candidate for the Darwin award.

Dr. Strangejazz talks about his love history. It's a great post.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Random Web Stuff

Why is the department of Homeland Security going after copywrite infringers? Shouldn't they be going after terrorists?

Should parents prevent their kids from talking to military recruiters? Here's one person's thoughts on "neo-civics".

Here's a great explanation of the Jesus fish.

Here's a great idea for a blog. A word of the day, with a twist.

The Airing of Grievances just reminded me that Margaret Cho sucks.

Andrew Sullivan seems to think that gay marriage will help prevent AIDS from spreading.

Looks like population growth is taking place in red states, not blue. This could further the trend of Republicans in power.

Want to see a U.S. Senator cry? Man, things are really going downhill in Washington. Speaking of good political dialouge, here are some "Republicans that suck".

Does Star Wars lead to Satanism?

Here's how a girl tells a guy "let's be friends".

Here's one guy's take on Muslims. It's not pretty (at least the photo isn't).

Apparently, Britney Spears is a skank. What's even worse is that no one is watching her show. The reviews are downright brutal.

Here are some really bad Star Wars outfits.

Paul Katcher has a bunch of links today. Check them out.

Other Random Web Stuff

Monday, May 23, 2005

What Does "Conservative" Mean?

Rebel rouser Pat Buchanan has declared the conservative movement dead. He might be right.

GOP rhetoric and it's priorities have been unsettling to many lately. Conservatives have tended to be traditionalists and strict constructionalists, yet the movement has been leading a movement to amend the constitution on gay marriage and fundamentally change the way the Senate does business through filibusters.

The conservative movement has led the way to fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets, but now the Republican majority is moving us further and further from that path.

Conservatives have wanted people to work, but one has to wonder if goal of the current conservative movement unemployment?

The Washington Times notes:
Mr. Buchanan declares war on a faction of the movement in his latest book: "Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency."
He expresses resentment over the "imperialist" prescriptions of neoconservatives. "I don't think neoconservatives are conservative at all," he says. "I'm often asked what exactly is it that they want to conserve. They are Wilsonian interventionists abroad; they are big government at home."

Who has changed? Is the movement still conservative, and Buchanan has gone to the dark side, or the left side?

Or is it the nature of power? Perhaps conservatives have not changed, but the ways of Washington just cannot be altered, regardless of who is in office?

If you look at the 1994 Contract With America, and compare it to the issues promoted today, one has to wonder what happened.

Does the conservative movement want less government? How do you explain the gay marriage constitutional amendment?

Does the conservative movement want fiscal responsibility? How do you explain recent deficits?

It seems to me that today's elected conservatives are more interested in winning ideological battles than wars.

They would rather win the battle of a judge and lose the ideological war of how a judge is nominated.

They would rather win a battle and prevent gays from marrying than win the ideological war of preserving the constitution.

They'd rather win the battle of elections and lose the ideological battle of term limits.

As Yoda might say, "unsettling, it is".

Other Political Stuff

What do terms liberal and conservative mean anyway?

Star Wars Can't Rescue The Box Office

George W. Vader?

Star Wars: Galactic Dollars
The movie made a lot of money too.

Star Wars: A Lost Hope -- a parody of Episode III

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Star Wars Is Saved!

My love of Star Wars was reborn this morning when I saw Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

I haven't been on line for a movie in ages...and this one was worth it.

I know, I know...you're not sure. You've been burned by the suckiness of Episodes I and II.

Do not worry. This movie is breath-taking. It is visually stunning, with amazing acting, and (for the most part) believable character development.

Perhaps in a few weeks, after most people have seen it, I'll give a more detailed review.

But right now, all I have to say is wow.

If you haven't seen it yet (most of you), or were planning on waiting (some of you), I suggest you go see it tonight.

I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats. I'm going to see it again, and again, and again...


My fellow movie-goers at the Kaufman Astoria movie theater in Long Island City left in almost stunned silence. Until someone broke it, saying, "that was f*cking awesome".

I agree.

It was fantastic.

But hey, I'm a fan.

Other "Looking At Things"

Airing of Grievances Honors Star Wars. Revenge of the Sith rocked, proving that I'm no better than the guys in this video.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Star Wars: My Childhood Strikes Back

At 10 AM tomorrow, Thursday, May 19, my childhood is over.

As Dr. Strangejazz has noted, upon my first viewing of Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, I must say goodbye to a great part of my youth.

I was born at the right time, the early 70s, to get the full picture of what George Lucas' world of a galaxy far far away was really like.

I played with the toys, worshiped Princess Leia (and Carrie Fisher by extension), read the comic books, obsessed over the movies, debated the merits of different topics, etc.

My inner geek has been awakened over the past few weeks (as you can probably tell from my Episode I, Episode II, Episode III, and Revelations posts). I've been reading Star Wars books lately, and lamenting on how fast nearly 30 years has gone by.

Boy I loved those action figures. The funny thing is that I rarely played Star Wars with them. I turned them into professional wrestlers (Luke was Barry Whindham and Han was Mike Rotundo, reuniting the American Express tag team) at times, and football players other times (the Stormtroopers had a team all to themselves, and they'd go up against GI Joe action figures -- since they already were wearing helmets).

I also had somewhat of a strange side to me, and I would use the action figures to re-enact historical events. I re-enacted the Reagan assassination with Han Solo being Reagan, and Lobot being James Brady (I know this is so wrong, but I was a little kid). I even took photos of it. Boy, I really need to dig those up.

When I did play Star Wars games, I used GI Joe action figures as Rebel troops.

It's funny, it's been a long time since I've thought about any of that stuff, but it's all coming back to me simply because a movie is coming out.

It's funny how the mind works.

So much of my childhood was spent on Star Wars. Finally, the two trilogies are complete.

Does this mean I have to be an adult now?


Other "Looking At Things"

I know many of you are more interested in my Princess Leia pictures than my words. You can find more of those pictures here.

Buy a Princess Leia metal bikini for your girlfriend for less than $400!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Star Wars: Revelations

Recently, a friend of mine told me about an interesting fan movie called Star Wars: Revelations, produced by Panic Struck Promotions.

You may download it or watch it on iFilms for free by clicking on the link to their website. It will be an hour well spent.

The movie, which combines some of regular Star Wars characters with ones we know (basically figures who either aren't human or who wear masks), takes place in between Episodes III and IV, when the Jedi are being hunted down. According to the website:

Our heroine, Taryn Anwar, has broken way from Imperial control and is searching for an ancient Jedi artifact. Said to contain great power, it could be the key to destroying the Empire -- if she can locate it before Zhanna, the Emperor’s Hand, does. It’s a race between good and evil as the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance.

Revelations tells it's story around it's own unique characters and worlds around the Star Wars universe in which the only original star wars characters you will see from the films are, the Emperor, Vader, stormtroopers, and various aliens that makes Star Wars. "Revelations" is very unique in it own way of look and feel, yet still within the Star Wars galaxy. We wanted to make something that was our own and not a simple retelling of Star Wars, or ideas and looks that have been explored before. We tried to make a film with the things and ideas we always wanted to see.

There are good Jedis and bad (with the bad one being, of course, somewhat goth-like, as seen above). Darth Vader seeks to find the location of some of the missing Jedi, information that one of the protagonists has access to.

The website, which has a number of photos (where I got these) shows just how impressive of a production this was.

Visually, the movie is stunning, and in many ways captures the sights and sounds of the Star Wars world.

In the end, there is an impressive lightsaber duel, which must have been a challenge to produce, but is a lot of fun to watch.

The movie of course has its quirks. Many of the male characters had goatees, which was an interesting way of looking at a world a long time ago, and very far away. There are so many characters introduced in a short amount of time, with odd Star Wars-like names, that it was hard for me to follow at times.

The acting is sub-par at times (the Jedis seemed to have way too much emotion), and the sound quality is bad, but only because I'm judging this against films of much higher production budgets. The actors may not be complete pros, but they are still better than Jar Jar Binks.

The beauty of this movie is that you expect it to be perfect, because of how impressive it all is. It is one of the best non-profit movies I've seen in a long time.

Watch it!

Other Web Stuff

Star Wars fan films on AtomFilms

The Star Wars Fan Film Festival

USA Today on Star Wars: Revelations

The new Star Wars movie raises questions about American Imperialism. Looks like Episode III is really the Revenge of the Liberals.

Lucas Jabs At Bush's Empire

Yoda has a blog!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Photo Essay: New York City Hippies

Yesterday, 21st Century Hippies were in full force in Union Square Park, displaying the energy and talents of America's up and coming liberal political activists.

You of course had your typical "George W. Bush is the cause of all evil in the world" sign, which was followed by...

...the "George W. Bush is a Nazi sign".

This guy gave a speech saying that the Bush administration caused 9/11.

It went something along the lines of "you know, there are FACTS man, total facts, that Bush caused 9/11. The facts are everywhere. Like why did the F-16s take so long to cover the White House, see there are a lot of facts. Why did he read to second graders? It proves he was plotting everything."

He then went on to say something about war games being conducted that day, which was interesting (but what it means I had no idea). I was discouraged by the fact that the guy didn't really give me any facts about George Bush and September 11th.

This guy above, wearing the bed sheet, was the best. He was actually the most articulate of the bunch. Apparently, skateboarders are getting harassed in the park, and he pleaded that the park rangers allow them to skate. "We need exercise" he would say. "I would do it myself, but I would bust my ass." He added, "what are they allowed to do outside, sell drugs? This is America! Free the skaters!"

There were a couple of old guys who were yelling at the group. They provided much comedy relief, and practically stole the show. There was one old man (not pictured here) who was constantly insulting the speakers. He accused them of denying him a place on their soapbox. The man said something about getting beat up by (New York City activist) Lenora Fulani's people and somehow it was these guys fault.

With the day being so nice, they had a good crowd going. Unfortunately, the NYPD took their bullhorn, and for the next 45 minutes (perhaps even more) they performed diatribes on how New York City was a police state and (somehow) George W. Bush was preventing them from free speech.

When someone asked why they just didn't pay $50 to get a permit, they again responded that Mayor Mike Bloomberg and George W. Bush had denied them of free speech.

This was a really great free event. If you have any free time and are in the Union Square (New York City) area, do check these guys out. I'm sure they will be there complaining that their free speech is denied, while no one tries to stop them from saying it.

I don't think Ann Coulter has anything to worry about from these guys, although I would love to see them debate.

It would be anarchy. Sort of like a good (bad) boxing match.

It reminded me of when I was young, had a lot of energy, and really didn't think things through. It's proof that even though you have the right to speak, it doesn't mean you should.

But it's entertaining, and for all we know Bush might have caused 9/11, and they have the inside scoop on it.

Who knows?

Other Photo Essays

Free Speech Network

Free Speech Coalition

ACLU on free speech

Free speech archive

Right to Peaceably Assemble -- history and definition

Hippy Culture is alive and well on the Internet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

White House Evacuated!

Sometimes, you just have to love the Drudge Report.

"Panic" was the right word to describe the images shown on CNN around noon today as staff workers and reporters evacuated the White House. The images were captivating, as security forces ran and walked around with guns, being complete bad asses.

Apparently, a pilot flew into restricted airspace, starting the evacuation. He will be "interviewed" according to reports, which means he will probably be poked up his behind with a glowing hot poker and will be immediately shipped to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Or, perhaps not.

I'm glad the White House acted as it did though. Better to be safe than sorry.

But it did show the absurdity of instant-news. CNN (and I don't want to pick on them, but that's just what I happened to turn on) showed images of people running around, and speculated about things they really knew nothing about. It was captivating television, but not really informative.

Within a half hour though, CNN did rebound and started talking about some of the details of the procedures involved, and what little actual facts they had.

Because no one was hurt, it was a fun moment for television, but no necessarily the best moment for news programs.

Sometimes, it is better to think before you talk.

Unfortunately, live television news programs do not have that luxury.

Other Politics

Amnesty International on Guantanimo Bay

Mars Attacks!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Can Boxing Corruption Be KO'd?

On Monday, the U.S. Senate, spearheaded by John McCain, voted to establish a federal boxing commission.

In theory, the commission would establish standards for issuing licenses to boxers and managers and take steps to protect boxer health and safety, which is sorely needed. The bill is in the hands of the House of Representatives now, and President Bush is said to support it.

Not all boxing enthusiasts agree that this is a good move, although their arguments seem a little too theoretical and hardly convincing.

The reality is that most major American sports are regulated in one way or another on a national basis. This is certainly true of football and baseball, the nation's two most popular sports, which are legalized monopolies.

It is also true that boxing is, in theory, regulated by state boxing and/or athletic commissions (or, in the case of most fights in Connecticut, native-American organizations).

But this is a big theory. It seems in practice, these commissions are more regulated by the major boxing promoters, than the other way around. Boxing's alphabet soup of regulating bodies is a joke, which endangers the health and safety of its athletes. The current system is designed to hide problems, rather than deal with them.

Will a national commission solve all of boxing's problems? Probably not. But it will create one set of rules and a national voice to enforce them. Problems can not longer be hidden in the deserts of Nevada or the obscure halls of an Indian gaming commission.

Boxing promoters will not be able to feed off of the weakest commissions, and an average boxer may have a real advocate of its safety.

In the long run, boxing will stay corrupt. It's just the name of the game. How honest and upfront can a sport designed to give others brain damage be? But in the short run, a national boxing commission might give boxers pensions, healthcare, and a more level playing field.

That's enough of a reason to do it.

The House should pass the bill and the president should make it a law.

Then people can go beat the crap out of each other with greater fairness and equity.

Other Politics

Why Boxing Should Have a National Commission

Boxing Experts Weigh In On The Issue

Check out Dr. Strangejazz's daydream of being a black leader.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Gay Guys Don't Really Want To Get Married

It appears that gay and straight men have something in common: they don't want to get married. Not as much as women anyway, acording to an article in the New York Times.

Tony Cenicola writes:

Although women have served at the front lines of litigation efforts in the emotional debate over same-sex marriage, the issue's most vocal opinion leaders have been men, often leaving the impression that marriage is the preoccupying goal of one sex more than the other. Yet of the close to 5,400 couples who have married in Massachusetts since last May, a figure that represents nearly a third of all same-sex partner households in the state identified by the census, almost two-thirds of the couples have been women. Boston was one of the few cities and towns in the state where male marriages outnumbered female ones.

The article also shows that intrusive parents aren't exclusive to straight couples:

The reality of gay marriage in Massachusetts has left some young people susceptible to the same sorts of pressures families have always levied on unwed children. Not long after the courts made gay marriage possible, Alison Rheingold, 34, who lives north of Boston and has been with her partner for six and a half years, began receiving inquiries from relatives about a wedding they presumed would happen right away.

Could it be that gay people really aren't that different from us straight folks? They have the same desires (and lack of desires) as us straight folks? Perhaps gay men want the right to avoid marriage as long as possible and play the field, just like your average heterosexual guy.

Ironic, isn't it?

The article ends on a fairly funny (and probably true) note:

As for Mr. Freed, marriage is unlikely to play a role in his own future. "When I think about all this I think of a New Yorker cartoon where a couple is reading an article about gay marriage in the newspaper, and they say, 'Haven't these people suffered enough?'"


Other Politics

Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives

Gay marriage will lead to "group marriages".

President Calls for Constitutional Amendment Protecting Marriage

12 Reasons Why Gay Marriage Will Ruin Society

Gay marriage 'rights'

Speaking Out: Why Gay Marriage Would Be Harmful

Gay Marriage Laws Around The World

Psychologists to endorse gay marriage

Gay marriage grows in acceptance in one state.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

My Blog Gets More Popular

I have noticed a sharp increase in traffic to my site recently...just exactly at the point in time where the volume of my writing has gone down.

One reason is Lea Thompson.

Not that I've ever met the woman (boy would I like to), but my Retro Moment on her movie Red Dawn has sent a daily stream of visitors to my Blog through Google images.

It is clear to me that most of my "readers" aren't "reading" my stuff at all. I might as well put together a picture blog.

For instance, my photo essay on Greek graffiti is very popular, which is suprising considering the arcane topic that it is. It is the #1 choice in among Google images for that search term. This one I'm fairly proud of though, since I did actually take the photos myself.

Sometimes, something I've written is popular because I wrote it. My mock preview of Oliver Stone's Alexander gets hits every day, mostly from Europe. At the same time, my Retro Moment on the relatively obscure movie Wag The Dog brings in people every day as well. My interview with an American soldier in Iraq does pretty well, with a few visitors a week finding it through searches.

My favorite old post is turning out to be one I wrote about the Greek national team winning the European Cup...one where people have left comments months later. My review of Kanye West also seems to show up on Web Searches too.

Speaking of Greeks, my interview with Mike Dukakis brings in people once in a while too.

What have I learned from this? If I want traffic, I either have to write about obscure things, post a lot of photos of hot women, or a combination of both.

Perhaps I will have a blog about obscure hot women?

Who knows.

More Personal Stuff

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Random Web Stuff (Plugs for Other Blogs)

It's been a while since I've searched the Web for some random fun. Here's some stuff I've been reading lately...

Here's Dr. Strangejazz's thoughts on the most beautiful people list.

Here's a good reason not to streak at football games.

Looks like the Drudge Report got tricked big time.

Terrorism hits the UK elections...and the AofG mocks them.

Here's what not to do at the Revenge of the Sith premiere (I am so getting into this, by the way).

Congratulations to my favorite blog not run by a guy I know (or have met), Paul Katcher, who just celebrated his fifth year.

There are some really sick Pittsburgh Steelers fans out there.

Check out what's happening to the Potamic River. Yeah, manking and the Earth can live together without trouble.

Here's how to get fired from a job.

Checked out the latest update from Faith, a non-practicing Canadian Mormon who has the most entertaining personal blog I know. It reads like you're going through a diary, like this passage:

Mike would have to be told about Dave.. that I was dating him, etc. It made the story a lot easier to tell now that I could tell him Dave hadn't raped me. He understood all of it.. understood that I was so easily influenced back then.. understood that I had been so guilted and angry and confused that I was ready to accept an explanation that saved me from responsibility for it. And now that he knows what really happened, he doesn't think badly of Dave.

You just don't read stuff like that every day.

Here's a great new stress relief pill.

It's been a while since I've checked up on the future of America. Yeah, they are still screwed up.

Zombies are real!

More Random Web Stuff

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Big Loser of the Iraq War

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is running for re-election tomorrow, and it does not look good for him.

Blair's problem is of course, Britian's involvement in the Iraq War; while his party will not lose the election outright, Blair might be weakened enough to demand a new leader.

How I used to hate the man.

He symbolized to me the spreading of the Clintonian, substance-less "third way" politics of opinion polls and image that had dominated the American landscape of the 1990s. He seemed to me the type of guy that would do anything to get elected.

I thought the world had enough of those kind of leaders.

I thought Britain would be harmed by such a man.

In this case I was very wrong.

Tony Blair, more than any world leader, has stuck his neck out for the United States, taking such a brave stance against the threat of terrorism that it will hurt him in the polls tomorrow.

Prior to September 11, 2001, relations were relatively cool between the men, and, if memory serves, the PM's Labour party sent political consultants to the U.S. in 2000 to help the Gore campaign in America's election. This was not entirely unusual, as U.S. Republicans and Democrats usually fly to England to serve similar purposes.

Yet Blair was one of the first world leaders to come to our aid. He was, for the most part, the only one to stay there. As the leaders of Europe, and elsewhere, retreated from Iraq due to opinion polls at home, he did not.

In Bob Woodward's book "Bush At War," Dick Cheney is quoted as saying that when the going got tough in the war on terrorism, only Britain would ultimately stand by their efforts. So far, he's been right.

I have not fully wrestled with the wisdom of the Iraq war, and do not mean to congratulate him on participating in it.

But I do owe Mr. Blair an apology.

I thought you would stand for nothing. I thought you'd follow opinion polls wherever they took you. I thought you'd do whatever it took to keep your job.

I was wrong about that.

You were courageous.

It's unfortunate that in doing so, you may lose your job.

More Politics

Check out the richest zip codes in America. I don't live in one!

Darth Vader has a blog!