Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zombie movies you may not have seen
(but should)!

Since the only "Z" words that came to mind when I tried to think of a good finish for the Blogging A to Z Challenge were Zyrtek, Z-Man, Zebra, and Zombies, the choice of subject matter was easy.

Zombies have been a mainstay of horror movies since before term "horror movies" had been coined. From the 1920s though today, shambling undead men doing the bidding of voodoo priests or just roaming around looking to eat the flesh of the living, have been scaring movie-watchers with greater regularity than even vampires--because even when they're not the focal point of a given movie, zomibes often make appearances anyway!

Here are ten suggestions for zombie movies you should check out before they get you! They are arranged in chronological order, and they are among some of the best films in the sub-genre. (Which is really TWO genres, because movie zombies completely changed in 1968, following the release of George Romero's original "Night of the Living Dead".

Click on the links to read full reviews at my various blogs.

1. White Zombie, starring Bela Lugosi and Madge Bellamy (1932): A plantation owner hires a zombie master to turn a woman he is obsessed with into the perfect bride. This classic chiller is often referenced as the first true zombie movie. It is one of Bela Lugosi's best performances.

2. I Walked With a Zombie, starring Frances Dee and Tom Conway (1943): A nurse comes to believe her charge is actually suffering under a voodoo curse and takes the logical steps to help her. A classic (and classy) movie that helped establish much of the visual vocabulary still being used in horror movies today. Oh, and it still is pretty spooky even sixty-eight years later, with some of the most effective use of the voodoo schtick in any Hollywood film made.

3. Night of the Living Dead, starring Judith O'Dea and Duane Jones (1968). A group of strangers barricade themselves in a house for protection against a ravenous zombie hoard. This is the film that changed zombies for. Here, the voodoo rituals were left behind and the modern, flesh hungry zombie was born. I remain astonished by the number of movie fans who haven't seen this genre-transforming picture, especially given how accessible its been for the past decade.

4. Dead Alive, starring Timothy Balme and Diana Penalver (1993): A nebbish man in search of romance becomes ground zero for the goriest, most insane zombie outbreak in cinematic history. One of the funniest zombie comedies to ever be made, this is not a movie for viewers with weak stomachs.

5 - 9. The Resident Evil Series, starring Milla Jovovich (2002 - Present): A bio plague unleashed by an evil mega-corp has turned most of the world's living creatures into murderous zombies. While this series has its ups and downs, you won't find more concentrated doses and zombie ass-kicking anywhere else.

10. Zombies Anonymous, starring Gina Ramsden (2008): The dead are rising, but they are not mindless killing machines. Instead, they are normal people who are unchanged, except their minds are now trapped in steadily decaying bodies. Follow the progress of a domestic abuse victim as she becomes an unlikely leader in a zombie civil rights movement.

(Oh... and if you want to READ about zombies, I recommend the following graphic novels: "The Essential Tales of the Zombie" and "Zombies Calling".

Friday, April 29, 2011

You... yes, YOU!

Writers write, but we also write to be read. Is there really a reason for maintaining a blog or a website if no one ever visits other than yourself?

Yes, I maintain these blogs to a large degree for my own amusement--and this blog reflects that more than any of the others--but I also do it because I believe there are others out there who are interested in what I am posting. And I think that I am right in my assumption.

You love me... you really love me!

Over the past 90 days, the visitor count for Cinema Steve, the hub for my various review blogs, has gone from 20K to 35K per month, so I find that very encouraging. I suspect the number of visits will drop by a bit in May as there won't be this wonderful Blogging A to Z Challenge that I've been taking part in all this month, but I am still very pleased with the growth.

And I want to thank you for visiting.

Yes, I know a little more than half of you come here for the girlie pictures in the Tectonic Tuesday series (which I suppose means I should revive it?), but ca. 25% come here from other blogs or search engines specifically for the reviews and other articles, and some 40% of you seem to be clicking on the "You Might Also Like" links at the bottom of each post. Also, roughly 60% of all visitors move onto one of my other blogs, mostly Terror Titans or Movies You Should [Die Before You] See. My personal favorite, Shades of Gray, sees a little growth every month--much of it originating here--but it is still has a much smaller readership than my other equally active blogs.

And then there are those of you who click through to and actually buy something through the affiliate links. I thank you double for that, because it helps feed my cats! (And I've been under-employed and struggling with medical bills for the past five years, so every little bit helps!)

But, in addition to saying "thank you" for visiting, I would like to ask what you would like to see more of here at Cinema Steve.

Would you want to see more news links with light commentary? More threat analysis ala the Tectonic Tuesday series? More reviews of movies? More reviews of graphic novels? Or should I cut the crap here, and do more frequent updates on the other blogs, such as Terror Titans, Shades of Gray, Watching the Detectives, or The Charles Band Collection? What would you like to see more of that would bring you back more often?

Please take the survey on the sidebar to the right, or use the comments section to reply. The floor is yours. Help me make this a better use of your time!

And I thank you again for visiting, even if it is just to look at earthmoving girls in skimpy outfits.

These guys love me less, but they come for the pictures of girls in undies.

From the Too Much Information Department

Al-Qaeda leader put jihad before a sex life, took shots to make himself impotent - Telegraph

This says a lot about how much sick fucks like this guy are led around by their "little head."

Although these shots aren't that bad an idea. If these twisted freaks don't breed, their barbaric ways won't be passed onto another generatiton. I really, REALLY hope this idea catches on among the Lions of Islam.

Please, oh Warriors for Allah, make your dicks as limp, lifeless, and unused as your intellect! You will be doing the world a tremendous favor!

One of the sexy, oh-so-distracting al-Qaeda camp followers.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Xtro: The Complete 'Trilogy'

When is a movie trilogy NOT a movie trilogy? When it's the "Xtro" series!

"Xtro" is a series of sci-fi/horror films that are linked only by the presence of killer creatures from other worlds, the same director, and the word "Xtro" in the titles. There are no story links and the killer aliens are vastly different in each film. One really has to wonder why they chose to make the second two films "sequels" to the original; was the title "Xtro" really such a draw in the early 1990s? I understand that the first film achieved some minor legendary status by being included on the British list of "Video Nasties", but was that really enough to drive viewers to sequels made as long as ten years after the original? Especially given how bad the sequels were?

Xtro (1983)
Starring: Bernice Steger, Phillip Seyer, Maryam D'Abo, and Simon Nash
Director: Harry Bromley Davenport
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Three years after being abducted by aliens, Sam (Seyer) returns a very different man, and he passes his gooey, gory alien powers onto his young son (Nash).

When I first saw this movie as a kid, it freaked the heck out of me. The father coming back and spreading alien corruption throughout the household, the way the son was transformed, and the way he in turn went after the horny au-paire (D'Abo)... even the creepy way he made deadly things appear with his mental powers. It all seemed very, very scary.

I suspect someone watching the film with less jaded eyes than mine could still find "Xtro" scary. At this point, I find still find some of the movie quite disturbing--Sam's method of returning to human form was not something I recalled, and it is definitely creepy; the alien egg-laying scene; and the final scene with the mother... well, up to a point with that one--but in general, I now view this film mostly with a sense of frustration because there are two fundamental things that spoil it for me.

First, there's the fact that there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of rhyme or reason to what the characters do, alien or otherwise. In fact, some of the things that happen are pure "Stupid Character Syndrom"--a character does something just to make sure the plot doesn't come to screeching halt, even if a vaguely intelligent person would take any one of numerous different options.

Second, the director and/or scriptwriter simply doesn't know when enough is enough, and this spoils a number of what otherwise would have been excellent, very scary moments. The movie's ending is the ultimate example of this. I won't go into details, because I would spoil it, but suffice to say, the filmmakers ruin a perfectly good ending. If they had been smart, the film would be about 5-10 seconds shorter.

On the upside, we do get to see D'Abo prance around in absolutely nothing, and the acting is uniformly bland (not quite bad... just flat) so no one stands out as good or bad. Gorehounds might also be impressed with a number of scenes in film. The "Return of Sam" scene is a standout in that sense. "Xtro" also features a well-done electronic score, and those are few and far between.

Nonethless, this is a film that clocks in at the low end of average... although I admit my reaction may partially be due to it not living up to my memories of it. (Maybe I'll get the courage to watch "The Exorcist" again. It's the only movie I walked out because it scared me too badly.)

XTRO II: The Second Encounter (1991)
Starring: Jan-Michael Vincent, Tara Buckman, and Paul Koslo
Director: Harry Bromley Davenport
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Deep underground, American scientists discover how to open a portal to another world...but, surprise-surprise, something goes wrong and murderous critters come across the dimensional void to run amuk. How will the best-and-brightest of the Mad Science Set stop the invasion and save themselves?!

Picture a bad "Aliens" rip-off and cross it with some of the lamest plot elements of a bad "Stargate SG-1" episode, and you have "XTRO: The Second Encounter."

Not only does this "sequel" have absolutely nothing in common with the first movie--the creatures don't even seem to be related--but it's also devoid of good acting, competent direction, and anything that even approaches originality.

For all its faults, the original XTRO at least delivered some genuine weirdness and horror, and it did so with a certain flair. This "sequel" brings absolutely nothing worthwhile to the table. It is a study in complete mediocrity and unoriginality.

Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1994)
Starring: Sal Landi, Andrew Divoff, Andrea Lauren Hertz, and Robert Kulp
Director: Director: Harry Bromley Davenport
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A group of Marine demolitions experts are sent to a remote, deserted island to disarm explosives left over from WW2. As will happen, something goes wrong and they unleash an alien that has been trapped in a bunker for several decades. Gory mayhem ensues.

I've read in several places that director Harry Bromley Davenport says this is his favorite entry in the "Xtro" series. I can't for the life of me figure out why. As flawed as it was, the original "Xtro" is far more interesting on every level than this one... and far more competently made.

It's actually a shame that "Xtro 3" turned out as a textbook example of what happens when a low-budget film is made with a slip-shod attitude, because there was a lot of potential here.

The setting--a deserted jungle island that once housed interned Japanese and a secret research facility could have been a character unto itself and filled the movie with atmosphere if the cinematography and direction hadn't been as lifeless as an instructional video on how to navigate the Dewey Decimal System. The story of Marines stalked by a murderous alien creature could have been engaging if the script writer had taken time to research actual military protocols and behaviors, had spent some time making the characters interesting and distinct, and bothered to actually bothered to do more than one draft so the dialogue didn't sound like something written for a cheap voice-over of a Japanese sci-fi movie.

And speaking of characters, perhaps if the actors all didn't seem like they had been handed the script pages right before cameras started to roll but instead seemed like they were in character instead of simply delivering the bad lines, the audience could perhaps develop attachment to one or more of them. Although decent acting would not make up for the fact that illogical, plot-dictated behavior governs every action they take, because no one seems to have bothered to think scenes through.

Similarly, if someone had paid attention to costuming and continuity on the production, maybe generous-minded or entertainment-starved viewers would be able to suspend disbelief and engage with the film, despite the incompetent direction and script. However, the appearing and disappearing gear on characters and less effort put into costuming than you might put into getting dressed for lounging around the house on a Saturday when your friends are all out of town, make that impossible.

Finally, although the alien has possibilities to rival the creepy creature of the original "Xtro," it ends up more laughable than scary due to badly executed special effects and the aforementioned illogical, plot-dictated character behavior. Is there anyone reading this who has seen this film who didn't think like I did: "Why run when you can just kick it really hard?"

"Xtro 3" continues the decline of this series into crapitude. The only thing that keeps it from sinking to a Two Rating (and thus earning a place over at Movies You Should [Die Before You] See) is the alien's back story. It's a cool idea... and it's too bad that it is wasted in a movie like this one. (I won't give it away here, because it is one of the few decent story elements in the film.)

If your looking for something to round out a Bad Movie Night line-up, "Xtro 3: Watch the Skies" might be what you're looking for. You might, however, be better off actually watching the skies and identifying shapes in the clouds.

Trivia: Harry Bromley Davenport stated in a 2010 interview that "Xtro 4" was in the works, which he confirmed in March 2011, in this interview. It remains to be seen if he continues to trend of making each installment in the series worse than the one that went before. It's already a given that this film will have no connection to the others, save for the word "Xtro". (And the fact that a fourth Xtro film is in production puts a lie to the claim that this post covers the complete series/trilogy. Although that may be kind of fitting, given how this "series" isn't one.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for... Waresh, Wind, and Wave

Yesterday afternoon and on and off today, I've been trying to come up with a good 'W' post for the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. It's now 1800 Pacific Time, and I'm dangerously close to blowing it!

I don't want to cheat, as I already did that with the entry for L (although I have a cheat ready go that revolves around the upcoming 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman's comic book debut), and my post about Why I Wanted to Be a Writer and Why I Still Write even if my career has floundered in the past few years was boring, boring BORING. It was so boring it was putting even me to sleep... and if a post about my favorite topic--ME!--was boring to me, what would it be like for you guys?

So, I'm going to fall back on another "cheat" of sorts. One of the projects I have going requires me to create a religion for a humanoid alien species that started as a nomadic culture on their homeworld and who continued their nomadic ways as they moved into space.

Let's call them the Wahresh for the purposes of this post.

Basically... this post is my initial notes on the Wahresh religion. This is raw, first draft text--even more-so than the usual posts around here. (And, hey, if you like what you see--even in this stream-of-conscieness, writing-and-posting-whatever-comes-to-mind post--I'm available for hire. Just email me. :) )

In all seriousness... I hope this look into the first stages of my creative process isn't too big a waste of your time.

Notes on the Wahrish and Their Religious Beliefs
Why do they wander? Well, in the earliest days of their civilization, it was necessary, because they are from a planet where the biggest landmass is the size of Greenland and the rest of the world is peppered with islands and island chains of varying sizes. Partly motivated by curiosity, partly motivated by necessity born from a need for living space, food, or just to get away from hostile neighbors, the built boats and started moving from island to island. They swiftly moved from oars to sails, navigation techniques advanced rapidly... and when their entire globe had been settled and technology allowed for flight, they started looking upwards to the moons orbiting their world and beyond.

The oldest and still most popular religion among the Wahresh is an an animistic faith that is primarily concerned with the Spirits of Waves and Winds. It holds that the Spirits can help or hinder any endeavor and that the smart Wahrish will takes steps to be on the good side of the Sprits at all times. It is a faith with rites that have remained simple and straight-forward over the years, and, while it does have an organized priesthood, individual Wahresh tend to perform all but the most important ceremonies and prayers themselves, in privacy of their own home or on some windswept cliff overlooking the sea.

The need to cater to the Spirits of Winds and Waves date back to the earliest Wahrish civilizations when fragile sailing ships would be pounded to flotsam if the weather turned bad.

The faith has stayed with the Wahresh as they moved into space, because everywhere they went, there was wind and waves... even in the darkness of space there were solar winds, winds that helped propel their early stars-ships throughout their solar system.

Wahresh Priestess & Water Spirits
(illo "borrowed" from here)
No actual connection to anything in this post....
The religion's priesthood consists of wanderers who are constantly moving from town to town, city to city, planet to planet... and, they most ambitious of them hope, galaxy to galaxy. They are hired by communities or groups of travelers to make sure the Spirits will be helpful.

The trappings of the faith are simple--a couple of candles and holders and an altar cloth embroidered with symbols representing the Spirits. These items are usually owned by the communities that hire priests, although some priests carry altar cloths with them just in case. More often than than not, the lining of their traditional long overcoats are in fact altar cloths.

Priests also travel with several bottles of whatever is a highly prized drink from areas they have previously visited. Before embarking on a trip, they throw droplets of this drink into the air, pour some on the ground, and pour some in a nearby stream or sea, while asking the Winds and the Waves for their favor in exchange for the offering. When he arrives at his destination, he once again dispenses the drink, thanking the Spirits that guided him safely while introducing himself to the "local" ones. He then seeks out the native population, hoping to learn as much about them as he can and to secure some local exotic drinks for the next leg of his never-ending trip.

The Wahresh priesthood are at the forefront of their people's drive to explore as far and as wide as they can, arriving on new worlds with the first explorers and always being part of first trade and diplomatic missions established with alien civilizations they encounter.

The Wahresh priests view it as their holy duty to travel as much as possible so they can share what they have seen and learned with Spirits everywhere; they view Spirits as finite beings who are restricted to certain places but who yearn for fresh information and experiences. The most popular "creation myth" among the Wahresh embody this belief... and it is one that the priests love to tell, even if they know it is scientifically unsound. (The religious Wahresh see no conflict between their religion of Animism and science... they think there are some things that science can't quantify, and they readily accept the ancient tales allegories illustrating their religion. No Wahresh believes that any of what few religious texts that are widely read are anything but the product of very wise and very creative holy men and women. They do NOT believe the Spirits provide revelation or insights and that the various rites performed to gain their attention and favor have been arrived at through a process of trail and error dating back tens of thousands of years.)

The Creation of the Wahresh (excerpted from "Wind and Waves: A Diplomat's Primer to Wahresh Habits and Customs," published by in RIY 2,031)
One day, the Final Wind and the Final Wave met each other where the Great Sea breaks upon the blue sands of Mayveh Island.

"I envy you," said Final Wave. "I long to see the things and creatures that exist atop those white cliffs, but I cannot reach that far."

"I will help," said Final Wind. He turned and twisted and pushed Final Wave across the sand until She crashed against the cliffs. No matter how hard he tried, Final Wave could not reach the forests and beasts and wonders that existed inland.

Final Wind tried to tell Her what He saw as He raced around the island, but it was not enough. She could not experience what he could. Try as She would, She could not fully comprehend what He had seen and experienced.

"I envy you as well," said Final Wind ultimately. "I wish I could see the things and creatures that exist at the bottom of the Sea, but I cannot reach that far."

"I will help," said Final Wave. She turned and twisted and created a funnel deep down into the Sea, but no matter how hard she tried, Final Wind was unable to see the bottom. It was too far, and He could not reach the rich oyster beds, see the beautiful fish, or caress the Haln Stones that existed under the waves.

Final Wave tried to tell Him what She Saw as she moved across the waters, but it was not enough. He could not experience what she could. Try as He would, He could not fully comprehend what She had seen and experienced.

"You are fools," said Land. "Wind and Wave are not meant to understand each other. Now, be quiet and do your duty. Final Wind, there are trees that must be knocked down in my forests. Final Wave, you must keep my beaches from going dry.

Final Wave and Final Wind ignored Land and His grumblings.

"If only we were not so different from one another," They said in unison. "Perhaps we would be able to share experiences, to tell tales that we can understand and relate to."

"We need someone who is part of each of us," said Final Wind. "Surely, Those Who Came Before have made such a being. Let us search for It and bring It here so that It might tell of the cliff-tops and the bottom of the sea."

Final Wave and Final Wind parted company and searched the World over. When they once again met on the blue sands of Mayveh Island, they found their search had been in vain.

"No creature exists that has part of each of us within It," said Final Wind.

"Then we must make It," said Final Wave.

"I tire of your prattling," said Land. "I will help you as I did Those Who Came Before if you promise to do as they did and be quiet."

"We promise," said Final Wave and Final Wind.

Final Wind and Final Wave ran to and fro across the blue sands for a great while. They combined their labors as no Spirits had ever done before, creating patterns and shapes more elaborate than anything Those Who Came Before had ever contemplated.

And Land, eager for the eventual peace and quiet that the completion of their task would bring, assisted them as he had not assisted any of Those Who Came Before.

When Final Wind eventually retreated to the sky and Final Wave returned to the sea, the first Wahresh stood upon the blue sand. Born as they were from both Wind and Wave, they were filled with a desire to see all the World had to offer... and the ability to scale to the tops of the highest cliffs and to dive to the bottom of the deepest water. They were not as free as the Spirits, and they were forever tied to the Land that assisted in their creation, but they were filled with a drive and a wisdom that no other beings in the world had.

"Now, be quiet," said Land. "Your creations will share with you all you will never need to know, and you will never have to bother me again."

And the Wahresh scaled the cliffs and dived in the sea, and Final Wave and Final Wind traveled with them and reveled in their experiences.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

'Hub' Schlafly dead at 91

Hubert 'Hub' Schlafly, the co-creator of the teleprompter--a device that travels with U.S. President Obama everywhere--was buried today in Greenwich, Connecticut. He passed away on April 20 at the age of 91.

Click here for a brief obit from the AP.

Obama and his Teleprompter are in mourning today.

'Vampirella: The Dracula War' is weak,
despite the strong foundation

Vampirella: The Dracula War (1993)
Writers: Kurt Busiek and Tom Sniegoski
Artists: Louis Small Jr., Jim Balent, and Matt Banning
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

When Harris Comics relaunched "Vampirella" in the early 1990s, they did so with a four issue black-and-white deluxe format series "Morning in America". The series featured carefully and beautifully rendered art by Louis La Chance and John Nyberg, and a multi-layered storyline that brought a darkness and sense of horror to the Vampirella strip that had never been present before. The story by Kurt Busiek used the ever reliable Cult of Chaos as villains and deployed the supporting cast from the old series with an effectiveness that hadn't been seen since Archie Goodwin was writing the stories.

But once that mini-series was over, things started to go wrong. Immediately.

"Vampirella: The Dracula War" collects the first four issues of Harris' monthly "Vampirella" color comics title. The story picks up after the end of "Morning in America" with United States Senator Adam Van Helsing using his political power to wage war against the world-wide forces of the Cult of Chaos and Vampirella and her friend Pendragon serving as his foremost shock-troops. Vampirella and Pendragon travel to Europe where they discover that Chaos's tendrils reach to the highest level of the European Union's leadership, and that their old foe Dracula is poised to seize control of the Continent on behalf of the Mad God he serves.

In concept, it seems like a worthy Vampirella story, one that continues the threads of "Morning in America", but adding back in some of the high adventure and genre-bending action that marked many of the tales of Warren era--in this case, vampires meet international intrigue ala Hammer's "The Satanic Rites of Dracula".

In execution, things are a little less appealing. The story never feels like it quite finds its direction, meandering from encounter to encounter, none of which feel like their building toward anything in particular. Instead of growing excitement, I felt growing boredom as I progressed through the book; I became less interested in how things were going to turn out rather than more with each turn of the page. Worse, the few interesting moments in the book--such as vampires relying on hi-tech to overcome the fact that sunlight is lethal to them--are undone by efforts to strip Vampirella of the things that made her and the series in general such a fun and unique property and reduce her to a run-of-the-mill, ass-kicking, monster-fighting one-note Bad Girl character. Where the post Goodwin and Englehart Vampirella started very quickly to rely too much on camp, the Harris Vampirella started running too far in other direction. While Busiek continues to stay more true to the original Vampirella stories than those who followed him--the return of Vampirella's bat-wings in an example of this--the goal for these references is primarily to expand the notion that much of what we thought we knew from the old series was a Chaos-created lie and that Vampirella's past was so much fantasy. (This approach reached its height with the final gasps of the Harris Vampirella with "Vampirella: Revelations" and "Vampirella: Second Coming", a mini-series that not only wiped out most of the original Warren continuity but most of what Harris had established as well.)

But watching Vampirella be turned from a fun, genre-striding babe to a generic mid-1990s Bad Girl comic book character isn't the worst aspect of "Vampirella: The Dracula War". The biggest disappointment is the artwork, particularly after the great stuff featured in the "Morning in America" series. The layouts are messy and hard to follow, the panels are flat and devoid of any sense of movement even during action scenes, and the coloring is amatuerish to say the least; all three major artists on this book went onto do far better work than what is on display here. (In fact, whoever took Balent's brush away from him and made him the penciller on DC's Catwoman did him a tremendous favor, career-wise.)

Perhaps a new decade and a new publisher will restore her to the glory she once knew (or at least to the level of fun found in the Balent-penciled crossover with Catwoman from 1997)--especially since the early issues have been written by the very talented Eric Trautmann--but as far as the past is concerned, "Vampirella: The Dracula War" should be consigned to the dustbin of comics history.

For more on Vampirella, click here to read reviews of some of the classic stories from the Warren Era at Shades of Gray; or here to view some great Vampirella artwork, as well as her Saturday Scream Queen profile, at Terror Titans.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Unbelievable Stupidity

Here's more proof that criminals are not only a cowardly lot, but stupid as well.

From Murder Solved After Cops Find Crime Scene Tattooed on Gang Member’s Chest

There have been some morons featured in the Jailbird Parade, but I think this guy is going to remain the Paragon of Stupid for quite some time.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Terrorist Twits

There were many choices for 'T,' but I went with "Terrorist Twits." (I was going to go with "Terrorist Twats," but there are half a dozen blogs that feature posts from Cinema Steve in their sidebars, and I thought it would be bad form to put foul language on them.)

So... terrorist twits/twats. The kind who threaten and attempt murder over cartoons. The kind who threaten and commit murder over books. The kind who threaten and commit murder over book burnings. The kind who have the American government and media pissing themselves in fear every time someone from CAIR flaps their gums behind their greasy beards.

The kind of terrorist twats that ordinary Americans need to stand up to every day, because our leaders are failing to do their duties and defend our Constitutional Rights. The government and media assisted terrorists in eradicating cartoonist Molly Norris, and, more recently, a local government in Michigan threw a man in jail for daring to even suggest protesting outside a mosque.

Everyday Americans need to protest the terrorist twats in non-violent and creative ways, the opposite of what they do--all violence and destruction all the time.

The most effective way I can think of to do that is to stage a second annual Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.

Show the terrorist twats in the United States and around the world that they can't force their idol worship of Mohammed upon us, nor can they force to respect the collection of crappy fairy tales known as the Koran. Show them that we can as silly or as crass as we want to be and that just because they revere an admitted and proud pedophile and a book that inspires psychopathic behavior around the world doesn't mean that everyone has to. Respect is earned, not deserved. And 21st century Muslims (and the terrorist twats they harbor in their midst) have done nothing to earn anyone's respect... certainly not the respect of Americans who should value liberty.

May 20 is Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. I'll be posting at least one of my own cartoons to this blog. If anyone else wants to join in, I can post your cartoon as well--anonymously if you like. I prefer funny or clever over just shockingly offensive... click here, here, and here for a look at what I posted last year. That is the sort of stuff I'd like to see more of.

Let's make another Day of a Million Moes... and let's try to do something to hang onto the freedoms that millions of Americans have fought and died for, among which is the freedom to make and publish cartoons of whomever and whatever we feel like.

This post was brought to you in part by the Dearborn al-Qaeda Recruitment Center. Click on the arrow below to watch their latest promotional video.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sesame Street: Then and Now

Then: Cab Calloway, time-tested jazz pioneer and singer/songwriter, doing one of his signature songs with muppets as his back-up band. Fun AND educational. Calloway's voice wasn't what it was in the 1930s and 1940s, but he was still one groovy cat!

Now: Katy Perry, pop-tartlet flavor of the moment, doing... I don't know what she's doing. I suppose there's a mild educational message in this altered version of her catchy hit song, but how does it help parents who use the TV as a babysitter help broaden the horizons of themselves and their kids?

(It's worth noting that the Perry segment never did make it into a "Sesame Street" that aired, but probably not for the reasons it should have been cut.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Relationship Advice

I'm not one to give relationship advice, seeing that I've never had one that's been successful and I am at the point in my life where I'm a "confirmed bachelor," but maybe the ladies among the readers can find something useful in the following tips. (And maybe the guys can confirm if it is something tat still works, some 40 years later.)

(Click on the image for a larger, readable version.)

REPENT! (Ya only gots 30 days left!!)

For four months, I drove by this billboard every morning.

The date for Judgement Day was determined by Harold Camping, the leader of an independent Christian ministry called Family Radio Worldwide, which is based in Oakland, Calif. Camping's date is based on his interpretation of the bible. You can read more about it in this article at Huffington Post, assuming you're not boycotting them for not paying writers who agreed to write for free in the first place.

I'm pleased to know that at least we will have have one more Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, before Christ institutes a REAL One World Government/New Order and we're all either sent to Heaven or Hell.

But why May 21? Why not April 21? Luke 4:21 is such a great passage to quote out of context to say Jesus told us so! ("Today this scripture is fulfilled.")

Well, I can't answer that, but you can read all kinds of stuff and Bible quotes at If you're convinced, you can change your wicked ways and cleanse your body and spirit so you can worthy in the eyes of Jesus Christ. (I'm looking at you Osama bin Laden. And you, too, Lady Gaga.)

And while you're getting all righteous and pure, you might consider giving away your earthly goods to your buddy Steve. You won't be needing them where you're going... and I'm going to need something to get by on for the five months between May 21 and October 21... because, according to Camping, the world is going to end completely on October 21, 2011!

Send me your earthly goods by buying me stuff off my wishlist, or by putting money into my Paypal account. I'm even making it easy for you... just click the handy "Donate" button!

C'mon! Judgement Day's at hand! What do you have to lose (aside from a seat on the 5:21 Express to Heaven)?

On the other hand, you might want to consider the fact that Harold Camping has previously predicted that the world was going to end on September 6, 1994. But that turned out to be a math error. And given that the Wise Ancients (who were far smarter than anyone alive today) predicted the world is going to end in 2012, he may be wrong again.

But you can still send me money, just in case! (Plus, it's my birthday next month!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Elizabeth Sladen dead at 63

Actress Elisabeth Sladen, best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on the "Doctor Who" television series has died. She was 63.

The BBC says the Liverpool-born Sladen died from cancer on Monday. Sladen starred co-starred as Doctor Who's sidekick opposite Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker in many fan favorite episodes of the classic BBC series from 1973 to 1976. More recently, she went on to star in spin-off specials and a four-season television series centered on her Doctor Who character, as well numerous other roles in made-for-television films and guest-shots on other series.

Question of the day...

If Islam is the "religion of peace" that we're led to believe it is, why would Wayne County law enforcement try to stop Terry Jones from staging a rally outside a Dearborn, MI mosque for fear that a protest might cause "a riot [...] complete with the discharge of firearms”?

Click here to read the full article about this case at the No Dhimmitude blog.

While I think Terry Jones is pond-scum--like any and all anti-intellectuals who destroy and/or censor books in the name of political or religious agendas--I think he's an American and he has certain rights guarenteed by the Constitution. These rights are not abridged just because a mosque happens to be in the general area.

Unless... Islam ISN'T a religion of peace and the Dearborne authorities are trying to protect Jones from a bunch of blood-thirsty idol worshippers with poor impulse control who think they and only they are due respect and consideration?

Nah, that can't possibly be it! I think we've found another documented case of Islamophobia! Is there no end to it?! This is America! How can we tolerate local authorities behaving as though Muslims are inherently violent and murderous!?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Pause that Refreshes

It might just be the programs I watch and movies I see, but soda commercials seem to be about running around all hyper and/or doing dangerous high-risk stuff... like the Coca-Cola commercial that ran before the screening of "Scream 4" I saw Friday that featured a bunch of Nascar drivers singing the Coca-Cola jingle while speeding around the track with Coke bottles in the cup-holders of their race cars.

But at one time, however, there were Coke ad campaigns that revolved around the opposite, pitching Coke as a relaxing beverage to be enjoyed between the hectic and wild moments. Maybe it's because I'm ready for a break after a couple of stress-filled months, but pausing for a quiet drink or two seems like an awfully appealing idea right now.

It would be even better to take a "pause that refreshes" if Coke still cost 5 cents a bottle!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Office staff who rock!

Today was my last day as the office manager at a company I won't mention because they probably would rather not be associated with my wonderful blogs.

However, managing the office in question has been a joy, because the staff was highly skilled, hard-working, team-oriented, and interested in providing the highest quality work both for the clients and company. I've worked with a handful of them before in other positions and locations--with my receptionist being particularly aware of my strengths, weaknesses, and quirks--but the rest of the employees adapted to my style very well.

I have managed editorial offices, tax preparation offices, security staffs, and a variety of projects where I coordinated freelancers scattered across the world, but this assignment has been one of the most enjoyable, even if it was very intense and hard work at times.

In addition to being such great employees that they made me look very good and made my job easier than it perhaps had a right to be, they gave me some great going away gifts... two Jack Black movies, a plant for my home office, and a mini-quilt with the meaning of my names on it.

Thank you Annetta, Beth, Carol, Dahni, Caroline, Jane, Lawrence, Linda, Pam, Peggy, Richard, and Toni for all your hard work and help. I hope to work with all of you again some time in the near future!

Oatmeal at McDonald's

I'm not a big fan of McDonald's. Not for the usual reasons--I really don't give a wit about how healthy or unhealthy the food is. At this late date, I feel that those who eat a steady diet of fast food are like smokers: The nutritional failings of fast food have been so thoroughly documented and publicized that anyone who is supposedly "unaware" is either an idiot or a liar and THEY'RE the ones to blame for their unbalanced diets or fat asses... as well as those of their kids. Michelle Obama's anti-fast food crusade is as hysterical and obnoxiously phony as those launched by anti-smoking Nazis.

I'm not a fan of McDonald's, because just about everything I've ever had there sucks, except for their McRib Sandwich and their weird pancake-bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich when I'm REALLY hungry early in the morning (if I get to it when it's piping hot and fresh). I worship their McRib Sandwich, and I frequent drive thrus once or twice a week during the times they're available. (Worst McDonald's experience: Their fish sandwich literally made me sick; I puked all over the inside of my car while driving back from a McDonald's lunch in Lake Geneva, WI, 1996.)

Still, when I saw they were offering oatmeal, I figured I'd give it a try. The past few months have been an odd time for me work-wise, with lots of irregular hours and even more irregular meal-times. and the McDonald's oatmeal seemed like something worth trying, what with it being a union of oatmeal and several of my favorite fruits--cranberries, raisins, and apples.

I've always been a fan of oatmeal, especially oatmeal and raisins. As a kid, I would often eat oatmeal cold, just pouring the oats in a bowl, pouring on milk, pouring on a spoonful of raisins, mixing... and ready-to-eat tastiness. I even occasionally eat my oatmeal that very same way today, although now I more often than not take the extra arduous step of cooking them first. But the milk and raisins usually get added.

I gave the McDonald's Fruit and Oatmeal offering three tries, at three different outlets that I often pass during my daily wanderings.

The first time, I was very happy with the results. The cup of oatmeal was warm and gooey and the fruit added just the right bit of sweetness; I liked it so much that I decided that I would get some dried cranberries and add them to my next homemade oatmeal breakfast in addition to the raisins--but not the apples, because I'm too lazy to dice apples. (Of course, the sweetness was due more to a whole mess of other additives than the fruit, as this New York Times column discusses... and for once I share the opinion of a fast food detractor; why couldn't McDonald's just keep the oatmeal simple? They ARE apparently keeping it simpler here in Washington State, but McDonald's does seem to be making oatmeal "wrong." That alone was not a reason to keep me from buying it, though, nor the outrageous price of ca. $2 per cup. Like I said above, anyone who assumes McDonald's offerings are good for you, is an idiot.

Or you might be like this Washington Post writer, who was as taken with the McDonald's Fruit and Oatmeal as I was.

The second time I tried the oatmeal, it was a disaster. The cup contained a messy soup of oats and water and fruit bits. It was as if I'd done of my homemade non-cooked oatmeal "dishes" with warm water instead of milk... and way too much water at that. It was so gross I couldn't even bring myself to eat the fruit.

The third, and final time, the offering was as tasty as the first time I offered it, but I decided that the $2 per cup price-point is too high and it is a rip-off. That's because I got to see how it was made.

Free tip for McDonald's corporate and franchise restaurant managers: Food is almost as much about the presentation as it is about the taste, even when it comes to crappy fast food. McDonald's marketing department knows this, but whoever sets up the actual facilities at the restaurants apparently does not... or at least they fail to take the drive-thru into account.

In my final purchase of McDonald's oatmeal dish, I ordered it at the usual speaker-festooned mega-menu, paid at one window, and then pulled up to the second window to pick up my Fruit and Oatmeal. While sitting there, I looked through the pick-up window and watched the employee pour a packet of instant oatmeal into the paper serving cup; pour in water from the hot water dispenser into the paper cup and stir; open a little plastic bag and pour the diced apples and raisins and dried cranberries into the paper cup; affix the black plastic lid; put the lidded cup into a bag with the McDonald's M on it; grab and toss a black plastic spoon into the bag; open the pick-up window and hand me my order with a smile.

The actual dish tasted as good as it had the first time, but having witnessed what went into making it, this was my last time ordering it.

If I had given it any thought, I would have known all along that McDonald's oatmeal really was nothing but instant oatmeal dressed up, but, McDonald's is not the sort of food that I give any thought to. The illusion that some actual cooking went on was one that could and should have been preserved, if management at that McDonald's (and probably McDonald's everywhere, as I've seen that hot water dispenser in that same spot at several different drive-thrus) had put any thought into presentation. But since they chose to show me the McDonald's oatmeal is no different than what I could buy at Safeway or Fred Meyer's for half or less the price, I will be saving my money. Even if I have to add my own raisins to the cup after I've poured in the hot water.

I know I'm lazy when it comes to cooking, but I don't want to pay a restaurant to be as lazy as I am.

Happy Tax Day!

Because of a holiday in Washington, DC, American tax payers need to have their taxes to the IRS by today instead of the traditional date of April 15.

Did you do YOUR patriotic duty (according to Joe Biden)? Obama & Friends need a few more trillion dollars to waste!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Who should be paying heed to twisted fucks like Terry Jones, Osama bin Laden, Fred Phelps, Anwar al-Awlaki? Nobody, that's who.

And yet, there are plenty of psychos who do. And their are all sorts of people who should know better who think twisted fucks like Jones, bin Laden, Phelps, al-Awlaki, and the psychos they motivate are somehow deserving of respect and consideration. That goes double if the psychos happen to be Muslim. What respect do empty-headed idiots driven to engage in destructive behavior either due to mental illness, poor impulse control, or just plain old fashioned evil? None.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mike Oldfield: Music I Never Tire Of

Ever since I heard "Five Miles Out" on the radio as a kid, I've been in love with Mike Oldfield. To this day, the "Five Miles Out" album, "Ommadawn", "Crisis" and "Discover" are among my most-often played CDs.

The Man, the Myth, the Mike!

So, when it came to deciding what topic would be M for today, I went with Mike Oldfield. I could have gone with Mohammed, but I think I already have plenty of posts about the Perfect Man and the millions of psychopaths who worship him around the world.

But, I figure if "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day 2011" happens on May 20, I'll be talking about Mo-rons and the Perfect Man in this space quite a bit. So, I'm instead going to talk about my favorite modern composer and musician. While I haven't exactly loved his latest two albums, I didn't hate them either. And who knows? Maybe they'll grow on me the way "Earthmoving" and "Amarok" did, but I doubt it... they're just a little too "easy listening" for my ears.

That said, I was writing music reviews for a paper when "Earthmoving" came out, and I panned it like I'd never panned any release before. When I listened to it again some five years later, I had to ask myself "What the hell was I thinking?" It's a different Mike Oldfield effort--being a collection of slightly offbeat pop tunes--but it was petter than the majority of the crap out there and it still is. With "Amarok", one of Oldfield's all instrumental efforts, I hated it until one day I gave it my undivided attention and did nothing but sit and listen; that's when I fell in love with it as I have most of Oldfield's music. I might come around to feeling the same way about "Music of the Spheres" (his most recent release from 2008), but I can't see myself ever liking "Tres Luna" the way I like his other many and widely varied efforts.

Enough talk. Here's some music and some videos to enjoy. And please leave a comment about what YOUR favorite Mike Oldfield record/CD or song is. If you've never encountered Oldfield before, I think you'll find he gives modern popular musicians a run for their money; the videos featured here are for songs that are 20-30 years old.

First up is the song that started it all for me. It's got a great video to boot. Like someone said in the comments at YouTube "This is ART, man!"

Next is a video using a segment of "Tubular Bells II". It spotlights three things Mike Oldfield is most famous for: Great instrumentals, creative use of guitars, and the "Exorcist Theme" (of which this is one of the many variations he's created over the years).

(Of course, Mike Oldfield fans know that the "Exorcist Theme" is really the "Tubular Bells Theme".)

Next is the video for the single version of title track from "Heaven's Open". It's not anything like what I would have visualized, but it's an interesting effort for an interesting song.

Here's a collaboration between Mike Oldfield and Jon Anderson of Yes. Enjoy the trippy video with its quirky animation and weird cinematic trickery, and wait for the ripping guitar solo from Oldfield.

Oldfield has so far only scored one film--"Tubular Bells" predates its use in "The Exorcist"--and here's a selection of that music, along with a video. The film was "The Killing Fields" and the track is titled "Etude."

Finally (for now, at least) here's a song with vocals by Anita Hegerland.

(And if you want more, here are a couple of Oldfield's other collaborations with Hegerland.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Late

L could also stand for "Lame" as this quickie post serves no purpose other than to keep me from completely failing at the Blogging A to Z Challenge.

(But at least I had my first good night's sleep in weeks....)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Krazy Kat and the Heppy Land Furfur Away!

"Krazy Kat" is one of the all-time classic comic strips. By George Herriman, it's surreal, poetic, funny, touching, violent, and just plain weird.

It's basically a Funny Animal strip about unrequited love... or maybe unconditional love. Whatever it's about, there's a triangle of love/hate between the innocent Krazy, the mean-spirited Ignatz, and the gruff Officer Pup. The strip long been a favorite of mine. Here are a couple random samples of the series. (Click on the images for readable versions.)

Here's a fun animation that gives the gist of Krazy Kat and his world.

Some reasons to vote Obama out of office in November 2012

Scenes like this belong in North Korea, not North America.

We should not be teaching our children to sing songs of worship to a man, but instead the ideals that our country stands for. We should be teaching children how the government functions and that American institutions are bigger and greater than one man. We should NEVER have a Dear Leader figure in the United States.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

John Carter's Eternal Love

One of sci-fi/fantasy's great icons is Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars, an "eternal warrior"-type character who finds himself leading two lives, teleporting back and forth between the post-Civil War American West and the other in ancient times on the savage, alien world of Mars (or "Barsoom" as the natives call it).

By Frank Frazetta

The Martian adventures of John Carter were published in 11 novels, with the first in the series being "A Princess of Mars". In in, Carter meets the love of his life (or lives, rather), and she is a presence to a greater or lesser degree in all the books that follow. Burroughs describes her thusly when Carter first lays eyes on her:

And the sight which met my eyes was that of a slender, girlish figure, similar in every detail to the earthly women of my past life... Her face was oval and beautiful in the extreme, her every feature was finely chiseled and exquisite, her eyes large and lustrous and her head surmounted by a mass of coal black, waving hair, caught loosely into a strange yet becoming coiffure. Her skin was of a light reddish copper color, against which the crimson glow of her cheeks and the ruby of her beautifully molded lips shone with a strangely enhancing effect.

She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.

By Adam Hughes

It perhaps goes without saying given that description that Dejah Thoris has been a favorite subject of fantasy illustrators since her debut in 1917. Over at Shades of Gray, I spotlight some of the best black-and-white illustrations of Dejah Thoris and other Martian Princesses I've come across during my wanderings through the web. Click on the links below to see what John Carter saw, as interpreted by some of fantasy and comicdom's best artists.

Princesses of Mars, Part One

Princesses of Mars, Part Two

Princesses of Mars, Part Three

Princesses of Mars, Part Four

Princesses of Mars, Part Five

Princesses of Mars, Part Six

Princesses of Mars, Part Seven

Princesses of Mars, Part Eight

Princesses of Mars, Part Nine

Princesses of Mars, Part Ten

Princesses of Mars, Part Eleven

Princesses of Mars, Part Twelve

Princesses of Mars, Part Thirteen

Princesses of Mars, Part Fourteen

Princesses of Mars, Part Fifteen

Princesses of Mars, Part Sixteen

Princesses of Mars, Part Seventeen

Princesses of Mars, Part Eighteen

Monday, April 11, 2011

Infidelity always leads to disaster...
and yet they still do it!

Maybe it's because I've never met anyone that I could imagine spending the rest of my life with for a very, very long (and I gave up on the notion over a decade ago), but I can't understand the type of person who would get married and then turn around and cheat on that person. I guess if one is a sociopath such behavior could be expected, but are there really that many sociopaths in the world?

I hope I never understand the sort of impulse that would cause someone to betray another person like that. But what I WOULD like to understand is why anyone would turn around and marry the person that cheated with them on their spouse. Why would you ever want to enter into any sort of permanent arrangement with someone who has proven themselves to be scummy and untrustworthy? Even if you are kindred spirits?

Much talk is spewed about how movies and other popular culture items shame people's behavior. If that was indeed true, wouldn't there be LESS infidelity in the world than more? After all, cheaters NEVER prosper in the movies... they end up framed for murder, stalked by psychos, or just find their lives in ruins in the aftermath.

And real-life cheaters usually don't have fates more impressive than their fictional counterparts... take John Edwards for example. Since he was caught sleeping around on his dying wife, he has not only been exposed as a corrupt weasel, but as a cry-baby coward as well. If people contemplating cheating on their husbands or wives doesn't care about the spouse's feelings, you'd think they'd at least care about what might happen to themselves and their own reputations.

Then again, stupid is as stupid does. Rather like the cheating characters in "Point of Terror" (and thus I segue into a review to keep the blog on track).

Point of Terror (1971)
Starring: Peter Carpenter, Dyanne Thorne, Leslie Sims, Joel Marsten, Paula Mitchell, and Lory Hansen
Director: Alex Nicol
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Lounge singer Tony Trelos (Carpenter) thinks his dreams of stardom are at hand when he becomes the latest boy-toy for the oversexed wife of a record executive (Thorne) and she promises him a record contract. But things get dangerously complicated when her husband (Marsten) turns up dead and Tony falls in love/lust with her stepdaughter (Hansen).

"Point of Terror" is a messy movie that meanders through a predictable "Pride Goeth Before a Fall" story. The tone varies widely from comedy to thriller to horror, but it never stays with one atmosphere long enough to establish whether writer/producer/star Peter Carpenter failed at making an erotic thriller, a horror movie, or a dark comedy. Although the demise of the abusive husband, some of the revelations around Dyanne Thorne's character, and the fact that Tony Trelos is about as dumb as a box of rocks make me wonder if this is a REALLY dry comedy, I THINK Carpenter and director Alex Nicol were trying to make a thriller in the Italian "gaillo" vein. Unfortunately, while they captured the incoherence so dominant in many Italian mysteries and thrillers, they captured none of the style. Worse, scenes with flourishes that were intended to be artistic drag on and on and on and feel more like padding than anything else. (You know you're watching an erotic thriller gone wrong when you are reaching for the remote to fast-forward through the sex scenes because they are boring and the music score under them is nerve-gratingly bad).

The film isn't helped by the fact that the only performer with any screen presence in the whole thing is Dyanne Thorne. As prone as I am to make jokes about her two humongous talents, she actually does have quite a bit of charisma... and it really shows when she's surrounded by the caliber of actors in this film. She pretty much steals the movie from poor Peter Carpenter, although he obviously intended this to be his vehicle of stardom.

Speaking of Carpenter, this is the second of his films that I've watched--the other being "Blood Mania", which he also wrote, produced, and starred in, and which I will be reviewing over at Terror Titans one of these days--and in both cases, I felt that he was an okay actor but simply didn't have much in the way of screen presence... or he simply had the misfortune of always playing against actoresses who outshone him. This was the last of Carpenter's films, and I feel like he was to the 1970s like John King was to the 1940s.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Heroes (Blogging Challenge Bonus Post)

I've already done 'H' for the Blogging A to Z Challenge, but here's a bonus entry. (Click on the picture for a larger, more easily read, version.)

The sentiments expressed on that page, by the late Alex Toth, explain why I prefer old comics and movies over modern ones. It's also why I love running role-playing games and why I enjoyed writing for "Star Wars" and "Dragonlance" and even "Ravenloft." Even if the characters I create aren't the heroes, the players get to portray heroes and to be exactly the sort of characters Toth describes in the blurb.

Is there anyone writing stories with heroes these days? Everywhere I look, popular culture is about tearing down heroes and celebrating the dark and the evil and the twisted. And it seems like it's been that way since at least the mid-1990s.

Can anyone point me to something I'm forgetting?

(This illo was 'borrowed' from

Health Care: Obama's Making It AAALLL Better!

In the past two years, my health insurance premium has gone up $112/month to $159/month. (The dental part is full coverage but the medical coverage has a deductible of $2,700... which is up from $2,450. And then there's the 20% co-pay.)

Next month, it will cost $180 just to walk in the door at my doctor's office, as opposed to the $118 it's cost since two years ago.

God only knows what lab-work and tests will increase to. Or the surgery that I will most likely need later this year.

Meanwhile, my income has dropped 35% over the past two years, and I don't see it going anywhere but down this year.

I thought Our Dear Leader, Barack Obama, was going to make everything better and cheaper with his massive health care plan.

When exactly is my health care supposed to become affordable? Or will I continue to pay more so the leaches Obama wants to cater to can keep NOT paying anything?

Yes... my health costs are one of the many reasons I am NOT In.