February 23, 2006

The blogosphere just got a lot smaller

Not because a whole bunch of bloggers packed up and went home. Fortunately. But because Dr. Phil Armenik, the greatest Fundamentalist in history ever, has started a blog.

Now there just simply isn't any need to read anyone else's blogs. (Except for this one.)

February 21, 2006

The Crusty Media Empire expands

Move over, Oprah and Martha. The Crusty Curmudgeon makes the successful transition to print:

[Crusty Weekly]

(H/T: Promptings. Do your own.)

Yep, that's me

Plain, boring ol' d6:

I am a d6

You are a good old-fashioned six-sided cube, otherwise known as a d6. Others know you to be plain, predictable, conservative, average, ordinary, and downright boring.

Darn right. I'm so plain and predictable I don't even like calling the thing a "d6." It's a die.

You prefer to describe yourself as dependable, honest, practical and trustworthy.

I hope that's just a friendly way of saying curmudgeonly, crusty, cynical and cantankerous.

People usually know what to expect from you, since you rarely hold any surprises. You hate to make decisions, and if forced to decide, you'll always fall back on how it was done in the past. You always order the same thing at your favorite restaurant, and your jokes, while funny, are never too offensive. It seems that you are well liked, but maybe that's simply because there's nothing to hate.

[Take the quiz at dicepool.com]

Yeah, they've got me dead to rights. I'm the Cosby Show of blogs.

February 18, 2006

F5 #2: That "old man" smell

I'm going to have to write a special instalment of this series just to complain about how much I hate deadlines.

It comes in a stubby white bottle with a funny little stopper.

It is as ubiquitous a Christmas gift for Dad as a tie.

It has a ship on the label.

It is nearly universally derided as something that reminds people of their grandfathers.

And I don't care.

I wonder whether the Shulton company knew back in 1937, when they introduced Old Spice aftershave, that they had a classic on their hands. I mean a real classic, not an ersatz "classic" like Ralph Lauren's Polo, universally proclaimed a "classic scent" by the sales dronettes at department store fragrance counters. Two years ago I had no clue what Polo smelled like, and to my nose it seems dated. The market has moved on to newer, cooler designer fragrances with less pine and more fruit. Meanwhile, at nearly 70 years old - more than twice the age of Polo - Old Spice remains the bestselling mass-market men's fragrance. Furthermore, since the brand was acquired by Procter and Gamble in 1990, they have successfully marketed the Old Spice line of hygiene products to, of all people, teenagers. Not bad for something only your grandfather would wear.

Truth be told, Old Spice doesn't remind me of my grandfather. He was a pipe smoker, so the smell I associate with him is Amphora tobacco. My dad has always had a bottle, but since there are all of 26 years between us, I don't associate him with "old men" - and besides, I familiarized myself with the scent by opening up his bottle and taking a whiff, not because I consciously recollect him wearing it.

Unlike so many modern designer fragrances, which seem to have a more "unisex" orientation, Old Spice is a distinctly masculine smell. According to Basenotes, its top notes are some nice manly citrus and spices before it dries down to cinnamon, a few florals, vanilla, and musk (amongst others). The overall result is a fragrance that exudes goodness and warmth - especially good on a day like today when it's 20 below zero outside.

I don't want to put down modern perfumery. One of my favourite eau de toilettes is Calvin Klein's Truth, which I have woefully little of, and can't buy more any time soon. I also have a bottle of Crabtree and Evelyn's Nomad, which complements my favourite shaving soap and, like Old Spice, starts out with a sharp citrus top note before drying down to something fresh and leafy. I wear something like that on weekdays, when I have to interact with people, so I want something subtle that doesn't come on too strong. On Sundays I can't really wear any scent at all, because I sing with the church choir and don't want to inadvertently choke anyone up because of their allergies.

But on Saturdays, I get to wear what makes me feel good. That usually means "Old Spice day." It's just another symptom of my curmudgeonliness.

February 15, 2006

Where do I find these people?

Yep, I'm still a "weirdo magnet." Here's a comment that was just left on a very old post (name changed by me):


"Thinking disorder" indeed. Not only does this stream-of-consciousness rambling have zero to do with the post it was attached to, but I'm not a "Christian minister," nor is there really anything I can do about alleged sexual predators in Texas. (Maybe George W. Bush can help.)

Where do these people come from?

February 14, 2006

They sure showed us

Azerbaijan's weekly Yeni Habar has published cartoons of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary in response to the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in Danish and other European countries' press.

The author of the cartoons quoted by Day.Az web agency said they were a response to the "insults to the Prophet Mohammed" and reminded of freedom of speech.

[Full Story]

All over the Western hemisphere, Azerbaijani embassies burn.

Wait, that didn't happen.

Go Chuck!

I gotta hand it to Charles Colson. He actually says what I only dare to think in church:

When church music directors lead the congregation in singing some praise music, I often listen stoically with teeth clenched. But one Sunday morning, I cracked. We had been led through endless repetitions of a meaningless ditty called, "Draw Me Close to You." The song has zero theological content and could be sung in a nightclub, for that matter. When I thought it was finally and mercifully over, the music leader beamed at us and said in a cheerful voice, "Let's sing that again, shall we?" "No!" I shouted loudly. Heads all around me spun while my wife cringed. (emphasis added)

[Read Musical Mush]

I'm not ashamed to admit that I enjoy a good praise chorus as much as the next guy. The ban some Christians seem to place on music younger than, say, 50 years, seems to me quite arbitrary. And in the last decade in particular, there has been an upsurge in truly God-centred hymnody (as I write this, the Newsboys' "He Reigns" plays on iTunes, for example). Note, though, that I said a good praise chorus. There's still a lot of dross, of which the execrable "Draw Me Close to You" is a prime example - one of the handful of songs I refuse to sing on general principle. And it's not even the worst offender: in my opinion, this song takes the cake. Sorry, I'm just not into homoerotic Jesus fantasies.

February 12, 2006

Free speech for us, but not for you

Must-see video: Not all Frenchies are cheese-eating surrender monkeys. At a protest against the Dread Cartoons of Blasphemy in Paris yesterday, the two members of BAF (like the Protest Warriors, only more French) held a peaceful counter-demonstration, wearing the Danish flag and carrying pro-Danish and pro-free-speech signs.

Result: A near lynching, BAF find themselves surrounded by 4,000 demonstrators, bravely facing both of them down and shouting protected free speech such as "rat face," "f-----g bastards," "sons of adultery," and "homosexuals."

What can I say? They're either braver than I am, or I'm more likely to have been a little too "provocative," and subsequently buried in the ensuing rock pile.

(H/T: Michelle Malkin.)

Some recent searches

Haven't done a Friday in the Wild in a while, but I have been trying (more or less) to keep track of my referrals, just to see how people find the CC. Here's some of the more, er, interesting ways that Web searches bring people to my hallowed halls.

Spit take!

Check out the Bible verse in the header of St. James UCC of Limerick, PA's Web page.

Anything strike you as odd about their choice?

(Here's a hint as to why context matters.)

Update: Looks like yesterday's blogstorm was like a wallop over the head with the fabled ClueStick™. For those who missed it, where the telephone number is now in their banner graphic, yesterday there was an excerpt from Luke 4:7: "If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine" (KJV). Only problem is, these are the words of Satan as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.

Kind of speaks volumes about the level of Biblical literacy in certain mainline, apostate denominations, doesn't it?

February 11, 2006

No ego here

Once again, life imitates the Onion:

Cocky rap star KANYE WEST is calling for a revised edition of THE BIBLE, because he thinks he should be a character in it.

The JESUS WALKS hitmaker, who picked up three Grammy Awards last night, feels sure he'd be "a griot" (West African storyteller) in a modern Bible.

[Full Story]

The Bible already has a talking ass.

(H/T: View from the Pew.)

Cartoon jihadis just don't get it

"It" being Western democracy and jurisprudence, that is:

Saudi Arabia's top cleric called on the world's Muslims to reject apologies for the "slanderous" caricatures of Islam's Prophet Mohammed and demanded the authors and publishers of the cartoons be tried and punished, Saudi newspapers reported Saturday. . . .

Speaking to hundreds of faithful at his Friday sermon, Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Seedes, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, called on the international community to enact laws that condemn insults against the prophet and holy sites.

"Where is the world with all its agencies and organizations? Is there only freedom of expression when it involves insults to Muslims? With one voice...we will reject the apology and demand a trial," Al Riyad, a Saudi daily newspaper, quoted al-Seedes as saying.

[Full Story]

OK, let's do that. What law have the 12 Danish cartoons broken, again? Oh, yeah. None. (Strike one.)

No problem, let's just enact laws to make insulting Islam illegal, and then we'll get them, the dirty kuffars! Er . . . no, wait, ex post facto laws are prohibited by Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Denmark is a signee, and the Council of Europe stands in "full solidarity" with Denmark against the cartoon jihad. (Strike two.)

Care to go for strike three, Sheik?

(H/T: LGF.)

February 10, 2006

F5 #1: The blade

Better late than never . . .

About the time that I first needed to shave, my parents provided me with both an electric shaver and disposable razors, along with the basic guidance I needed to use them both without unintentionally killing myself. As time went by, I gravitated toward the speediness and convenience of the electric, and although I never truly abandoned the blade, I certainly didn't spend a lot of time shaving with one.

That changed when I moved to Ottawa in 1998. This city is cursedblessed with high humidity, especially in the summer. All that moisture works against a comfortable electric shave, which usually requires a bone-dry face for best results. Add a little bit of humidity-induced stickiness, and a shaver becomes an instrument of torture. So after a few days of Philishave-induced razor burn taught me a valuable lesson, I switched to wetshaving for the summer, a habit I have maintained since.

A few years ago, while shopping at the drugstore for replacement razor cartridges and shaving cream, I noticed something I hadn't realized: there was still obviously a market for more "traditional" shaving methods, as the store had a small-but-visible stock of shaving brushes and little cakes of Williams shaving soap. For no particular reason (other than to maintain my image of old-fashioned curmudgeonliness), I put the can of Edge gel I was already holding back on the shelf and went for the brush. I was surprised at how much better the shave felt.

Over time, my wetshaving technique gradually improved. Last September, when I was ready to make the annual switch back to the electric, that first shave without the blade was like I hadn't bothered to shave at all. Before, I'd never noticed the difference.

I stuck with the blade this year.

I said, during my first post of 2006, that over time shaving morphed from a shore to be done as quickly and conveniently as possible, to a simple pleasure. Part of this was because I enjoyed the lack of stubble even eight hours after shaving (whereas the electric never fully got rid of it to begin with). But the major part was because my excursion into more curmudgeonly modes of shaving opened my eyes to a whole raft of shaving cream and soap brands I had never even heard of before. Anyone whose experience is limited to cans of Foamy or Edge gel is missing out.

My current favourite shaving soap is from Crabtree & Evelyn, an establishment I long assumed was simply a purveyor of women's froo-froo cosmetics until I happened to score a sample of their Nomad shaving cream. I also like Proraso, a popular Italian brand, which is loaded with menthol and eucalyptus and stops razor burn in its tracks. One of these days I'm going to take the plunge and try out some of the top-shelf English products, like Trumper's classic lime-scented cream.

My current blade of choice is the Gillette Sensor. In my opinion, the last real innovation in shaving technology was the Sensor's floating blades. Anything that has come on the market since is marketing hype (Who needs 3, let alone 4 or even 5 blades?), and the new Gillette Fusion is an ugly self-parody.

Personally, I would just love to acquire an antique double-edge safety razor, or one of the new ones still made by companies like Merkur, and leave the razor wars behind. I'm firmly of the opinion that improved technology isn't the secret to a perfect shave. Patience, practice, and good technique are.

After all, I do have a reputation for crustiness to maintain.

Canadian cartoon cowardice

Tony Burman, editor-in-chief of CBC News, rationalizes the CBC's refusal to reprint the Dread Cartoons of Blasphemy thusly:

At the CBC, we decided not to show the original cartoons in our extensive coverage of the controversy. We felt that we could easily describe the drawings in simple and clear English without actually showing them. This was intended, without embarrassment, as an act of respect not only for Islam but for all religions.

Why should we insult and upset an important part of our audience for absolutely no public value?

[Full Text, emphasis in original]

Damn, I wish Burman had been my English teacher back in Grade 11, when we were subject to pseudo-literary claptrap like The Catcher in the Rye. I would have liked nothing better than to have not had to read it - it was boring as hell, and J .D. Salinger offended my intelligence with his hippie-hugging, Rousseauian philosophy. Certainly the experience had "absolutely no public value" that I could see. I should have been able to get by with a summary of the novel "in simple and clear English" without actually reading it, right?

Of course not. Intrinsic to the study of any work of literature, whether it's the Bible, Shakespeare, or dreck like Catcher, is reading the work itself. That's why teachers tell you not to rely on the Coles Notes - you're cheating yourself. Reading literature is intrinsic to properly understanding literature. Similarly, I submit that one cannot properly understand a newsworthy event like the controversy over the Dread Cartoons of Blasphemy without seeing the cartoons themselves.

Burman asks:

What if those cartoons had instead focused on Christianity? And on Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary engaged in unspeakably offensive acts?

See Serrano's Piss Christ Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary, McNally's Corpus Christi, Godard's Hail Mary, Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, etc., etc. Yes, there was outrage, vocal protest, and public demonstration against some or all of these works of "art." But I don't recall anyone recalling their ambassadors, boycotting an entire country's exports, torching embassies, or putting bounties on the heads of the artists. (That isn't to say that some mentally-challenged "Christians" didn't do so in isolated cases, only that it wasn't a chief characteristic of the protests.)

By contrast, for example, where was the CBC to defend the sensibilities Roman Catholics against Michael Enright's frequent tirades against the Roman Church, such as his infamous likening of the church to the Mafia in 1997? The consequence to Enright was promotion. Indeed, as CBC Watch points out, the CBC is frequently on the cutting edge of offending Christians of all stripes. But now that the CBC can't bend over quickly enough to appease the Muslims, retroactively they have decided that maybe it's not very nice to offend the Christians, either.

Burman should be honest: it's not giving offense that motivates the CBC's refusal to publish the cartoons. It's an outright lie to say that no "public value" comes from publishing them; isn't reporting the news a public value? Isn't a worldwide riot a newsworthy event? Is the cause of that riot not intrinsic to understanding that event? Burman, like much of the Western media, is motivated by fear of reprisal.

But it gets worse. The University of Prince Edward Island's student newspaper, the Cadre, printed the Dread Cartoons of Blasphemy this week along with an editorial in defense of freedom of expression. In response, the school administration actually sent in the campus cops to confiscate every copy of the Cadre "on grounds that publication of the caricatures represents a reckless invitation to public disorder and humiliation."

Reckless? Last I checked, Muslims were morally responsible human beings. Yet UPEI's powers-that-be seem to think that they are some sort of robots, programmed for rage with the right stimuli, and therefore publishing cartoons is the moral equivalent of driving a car at top speed down a crowded sidewalk, or causing panic by shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.

Meanwhile, the current issue of the Imprint, the student paper of my alma mater, printed not one, but two wishy-washy editorials about freedom of speech. (The author of the first, Wasin Parkar, whines about the "minority of Muslims" that have resorted to violence: not, however, because of the destruction of property or loss of life that resulted, but because they make Islam look bad.) This from the paper which, in my first year, published images from Hustler, photos by Robert Mapplethorpe, paintings by Tom of Finland, and others for an article about censorship; and in my last year, took on Scientology™. I guess a lot can change in ten years.

Congratulations, Tony Burman and H. Wade MacLachlan, president of UPEI. For brazen cowardice in the face of a threat to the constitutional rights of Canadians, you receive the coveted DIM BULB du jour.

The civilized nations of the West are not subject to Islamic law. Nor do the barbarians of the Middle East have any right to impose their laws on us. Unfortunately, thanks to people like Tony Burman and the UPEI bureaucrats, the barbarians win.

February 08, 2006

And now . . . this - Feb. 8/06

He's a Trekker, not a Trekkie

Obsessive Trekkie Tony Alleyne has spent so much cash turning his flat into a replica of the Star Trek Voyager that he's had to declare himself bankrupt.

Alleyne spent £12,000 converting his flat in Hinckley, Leicestershire, into a detailed replica of the Voyager spaceship. The flat has its own transporter room (not functioning), blue downlights (to give the illusion of being "beamed up"), touch sensitive control screens, and portholes in place of windows. Last week he was declared bankrupt at Coventry Crown Court with debts of £166,000.

[Full Story]

"Get a life" (Shatner, 1987) doesn't quite cover this.

(And be sure to see Alleyne's home page (requires Flash). What a hoot!)

The cartoon jihad takes a bizarre turn

Reformed Baptists are not amused.

(H/T: BaylyBlog.)

February 04, 2006

Religion of Peace™

Muslim protestor holds sign reading "BEHEAD THOSE WHO INSULT ISLAM"

Translation: "How dare you insinuate that Islam is a violent religion by drawing Mohammed with a bomb on his head?"

Oh, the irony.

February 03, 2006

Well, I tried . . .

. . . but I was sick as a dog today, and any time I didn't spend sleeping, I spent

  • coughing until it felt like my ribs were going to implode
  • trying desperately not to swallow and aggravate a very sore throat
  • longing for death

Writing lengthy blog posts, needless to say, was not on my mind.

To make matters worse, the aforementioned symptoms completely robbed me of sleep last night. I had a slight fever, and I suspect I was slightly delirious: it felt like my mind refused to let me sleep until I had solved a bizarre, six-layered logic puzzle of some kind, which I can no longer recall. I suspect it was complete gibberish. I despise being kept awake by random codswallop. My post on the cartoon jihad was written early this morning, between about 6 am, when I gave up trying to sleep, and 8 am, when my body finally ran ouf of gas and crashed hard.

So I guess my first guilty pleasure is . . . procrastination! Maybe tomorrow.

Earth to Islam: Grow up

I recently received the following "Action Alert" via email from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):

CAIR today called on imams and khatibs [prayer leaders and teachers, respectively] nationwide to offer Friday khutbas [sermons] focusing on the significance of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Muslims worldwide.

That call comes as newspapers in Europe continue to publish intentionally provocative and insulting cartoons of the prophet, and Muslims worldwide express their outrage through boycotts and protests. Some media outlets, such as CNN have made an editorial decision not to show the cartoons.

[Full Text]

The background of this story, in case you are not aware: in September, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten solicited political cartoons featuring the "prophet" Mohammed following the inability of the author of a children's book about Islam to hire an illustrator. Twelve cartoonists obliged, and the paper published the submissions.

If the subject of these editorial cartoons had been the figurehead of any other religion, the incident would have passed in relative silence. (Well, maybe the Scientologists™ would have threatened a lawsuit over unflattering depictions of L. Ron Hubbard.) However, in Islam, images of the "prophet" are specifically forbidden, so Jyllands-Posten has touched off a diplomatic furor, along with the usual rioting, guns in the streets, bomb threats against the paper, demonstrations outside EU offices in the Middle East, and so on.

The reaction in the West has largely been bemusement: the Danish prime minister at one point refused to meet with Islamic diplomats, citing freedom of the press and saying the matter was out of his hands. More recently, newspapers in Norway, Germany, Spain, and even Jordan (!) have reprinted the horrible, dangerous cartoons, and so naturally the outrage has spread. Even the French paper France Soir got in on the act, saying "no religious dogma can impose itself on a democratic and secular society." But, true to form, the next day they surrendered by firing the managing editor. (France can't afford to have any more cars torched, I guess.)

Meanwhile, of course, the most scurrilous anti-Semitic cartoons continue to be published in Islamic countries.

Dear Islam: In the West, religious dogma does not control public policy. Islamic dogma certainly does not. In short, these pathetic attempts to extend your jurisdiction over secular governments are only so much wishful thinking. If I wish to declare Madman Mo (may pigs sit on his face) a false prophet and a demented kiddy-diddler, that is my right under law. No number of delusional fatwas is going to change that. Suck it up, crybabies.

Meanwhile, I'm going to suck up a pint of Tuborg or Faxe, and maybe some Havarti and some back bacon.

February 02, 2006

Two against one!

Wiarton Willie and Shubenacadie Sam didn't see their shadows this morning.

Two outvotes one. Margaritas on the back porch. In your face, Punxsutawney Phil, you stupid marmot. What kind of name is "Gobbler's Knob" for a town, anyway?

February 01, 2006

Four February Fridays of Fabulous Frivolity

One interesting side-effect of February being the shortest month of the year: Because (apart from leap years) there are exactly four weeks in the month, there are never more than four of any one day. The exception would be that one leap year in every seven where the 29th happens to fall on a Friday. Coincidentally, the next time is 2008.

I don't know what that has to do with anything, but it seemed to me to be as good an excuse as any to come up with a February theme: for one F5 post on each of February's four Fridays, I plan to expound on one of my "guilty pleasures." I've never been too "personal" on this blog, so it will be a change of pace.

Stay tuned.

And now . . . this - Feb. 1/06

I'm guessing Gary Sinise wasn't on the case that night

An Indonesian man found dead in the blood-spattered basement of his country's consulate on the Upper East Side took his own life by repeatedly stabbing himself with various knives in a gruesome fashion, authorities said Monday.

The man, identified by officials in Indonesia as Bambang Welianto, 36, of Jakarta, was found Sunday with a kitchen knife in his chest and his left wrist almost severed. Several more knives, including a meat cleaver, were found around him inside the four-story Beaux-Arts mansion on East 68th Street, off Fifth Avenue.

A spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office, Ellen Borakove, said the death was ruled a suicide. An autopsy found that the victim died from multiple self-inflicted stab, slice and chop wounds on his upper body and limbs, she said.

[Full Story]

Then he got into a car and ran himself over twice.