Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Reality TV. Why do we watch this?

I'm watching the Food Network's show to be the next F.N. Star. They are
KILLING me. They're really putting the contestants through the ringer.
I'm getting Angry with the judges. Not pleasant.

The Food Network is a place we watch for some pleasantry. Comfort and
luxury are the things people want from this station, a la comfort food
and French cuisine. And this show is NOT that.

The contestant(s) I like are asked to do the IMPOSSIBLE, and the
contestants I don't like are still on the show, making every minute more
unbearable. I'd like to see the judges take the place of the
contestants, see if they can hold up to the challenges they're dishing
out. It reminds me of my Eagle Board of Review. THERE IS NO PLEASING

Yet I'm still watching

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Some guys in my office were playing Rock Band the other day. I gotta' hand it to the guys who made the playlist for that game, they put in mostly winners. I get really in to most of the songs. So I was caught off guard when they started playing this song, and I had to immediately pull away from my computer and see what they were playing. It wasn't really a rock song, and it wasn't a band or song I'd heard before. I liked it.

Apparently, one of the band members is a senior producer at the game developer who made Guitar Hero. They've been in every iteration of the game since the first. Interesting way to launch your band big, but hey, it worked.

The song is pretty funny if you listen to the lyrics. I'm sorry if you're not as into crappy-electro-pop as I am. You probably aren't. But Enjoy.

P.S. I figured out how to post audio here! I'm stoked. I'll just embed a "video", then collapse the height so all that's left is a play bar. Not a perfect solution, but a working one for the time being.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Decision '08: More Than Meets the Eye

I don't rememeber much from my dream last night. But I remember this. It
was John McCain's old head on top of that giant robot body, as though
Optimus Prime had presidential ambitions.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Birthday wishes from my dear friend, David Smith. His birthday is Dec.
9, so he has had about six months experience being 25.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Smith <david.espen.smith(at)gmail.com>
To: Austin Craig <austinmichaelcraig(at)gmail.com>
Subject: Birth
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2008 14:56:01 -0400

Welcome to the quarter century club, some of what you can look forward

-A decreased confidence level.
-Being attracted to girls way younger than you and not realizing that's
-Watching the Olympics and feeling like you wasted your life because
kids 10 years younger than you are participating.
-A decreased metabolic rate.
-This is the year where your fast twitch muscle tissue starts
disappearing if you don't use it.
-More and more suspicion of whether you will ever marry.
-Being home from your mission long enough to graduate from college but
realizing you still haven't.
-Not understanding youth and hip clothes they sell at the mall.
-Decreased car insurance rates.
-Ability to rent a car.

And these are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head.

Thanks, Dave. Sounds like an exciting time of life.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Dear Austin,

Happy Birthday!

-From me.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Frontline is the best program on television today. Period.

If you've never seen it, change that. You will walk away a more
informed, a more passionate, a more capable citizen of you country and
your world.

Frontline is not part of the media. They aren't beholden to ratings,
deadlines, or corperate influence. Frontline puts the media under
the microscope, along with politicians, policy, culture, and society as a whole.

I credit Frontline with influencing me to study journalism. There were
other influences, true, but I didn't mention any of those in my
application to the Broadcast Journalism program at BYU. I talked about
seeing Frontline growing up, and how that show changed me.

There were certainly other options for me. I could have confidently
studied design, engineering, politics, film, literature, English, or a
number of other topics. But I chose Broadcast Journalism because of

I have to go, the second half of the program is on. You should tune in,

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Review: Incredible Hulk

NOTE: Movie reviews take a long time, and I honestly think there are better things to be doing. There might not be as many reviews on this blog as there have in the past.

I read the reviews. They were less than overwhelming. But I went and saw it anyway.

The Incredible Hulk stars Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, the scientist turned not-so-jolly green giant. This is a deviation from Norton's usually serious, edgy roles, a gamble I'm sure he didn't take lightly. But given the unslowing success super-hero flicks have seen since the 2002 release of Spiderman, it was probably one he was confident with. Seems American and international audiences facing real world tragedy can't get enough of fantasy world triumph.

The Incredible Hulk continues the story from where the fairly recent production of HULK (not incredible) left off. Other than vaguely following a congruent timeline, though, this is a clean break. New studio, new cast, new writers and directors. It almost seems like cheating for the owners to "reboot" a franchise so soon after it flopped, but it's something we're seeing more often. Think 1989 Batman, devolving through Returns, Forever, & Robin, all they way to Catwoman in 2004, then rebooting with Batman Begins in 2005. I read back when the first Austin Powers sequel was in theaters that franchise films were the studios' new cash cow. Seems they've found a newer formula, don't just recycle the film, recycle the whole franchise. Rest in peace, original creative content.

That being said, they followed the formula, and it paid off for (mostly) everybody. The movie pulled in over $55 million at the box office, and it was pretty entertaining.

Banner is persued by his former employer, General "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt), who is bent on turning Banner's blood into a super-soldier syrum. Ross enlists the help of Emil Blonsky, a sort of super soldier in his own right. Blonsky is highly trained and refuses to move on to more docile tasks. In his own words, he is a fighter, a trait that proves problematic later on.

Banner, in an effort to cure himself of the anger-induced HULK transformation, contacts his old girlfriend, and daughter of Thunderbolt Ross, Betty Ross, played by Liv Tyler. He also enlists a university researcher, Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) specializing in cell mutation.

In short, The General is obsessed, Betty is weepy, Blonsky is Abominable, Sterns is Smarter, and Banner is Smashing.

It's everything you'd expect. No surprises here, except a few amusing cameos. I thought maybe Captain America would show up. He didn't, but I wasn't far off. There were some people upset about the character animation of the HULK himself, but the effects are essentially photorealistic at this point. If it isn't good enough for you, I'm sorry. It's pretty dang good.

Hulk is an interesting case in comparison and contrast. Let's take a look, shall we?

Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, in the same Marvel Universe, and similarly portrayed, self-made super-men:
Screen versions:
The countless comic book incarnations of the Hulk:

Other characters, "Big and Green":

Now I'm just getting silly:

To Places You Can't Even Imagine

Knowles is breaking the news:

You'll be missed, Stan Winston.

P.S. I feel bad I've posted for the death of Stan Winston and didn't for Tim Russert. I just haven't been as familiar with Russert's work. Winston's stuff I've known since I was a little kid.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hit Points

"Oh, so you're getting your phone to get my number?"

What? Well...ya. You've done everything to lead up to that, don't seem
so smug. YOU started talking to me, YOU said we should have a party,
YOU'RE the one who has been teasing and flirting like an
over-caffeinated cheerleader. You've been HITTING me, for crying out
loud. So don't pat yourself on the back too much, sweetheart. At this
point, it would be pretty bad form of me to NOT get your number.

"Ya, I am. What's your number?"

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Reveiw (and then some): Baby Mama

I was in Vancouver WA and Salem OR last weekend visiting family and friends. More on the trip itself soon. If you've never been to Salem, you might mistake it for the Biblical Eden. It was absolutely gorgeous. But, to be honest, the small town life does have it's drawbacks. There isn't much of a nightlife. Luckily, there is a movie theater.

Baby Mama stars Tina Fey as a 37 year old business woman who has finally been hit by the maternal urge. She wants a baby and wants it now. There are a few biological prerequisites for this, but with modern science, those can be readily supplied to any high bidder. No male counterpart? Not a problem! We have "bank" that can take care of that. Broken uterus? Don't worry! You can hire a, shall we say, pre-natal caretaker. In fact, as long as your bank account is full, offspring can be ready in nine months flat.

That's essentially how Kate (Fey) ends up teamed with Angie (Amy Poehler), facing the challenges of unconventional team baby making.

Short review? It was funny. Really very funny, if a bit crass.

The long review will be harder to explain. I think Baby Mama is a breadcrumb on the trail to the end of civilization. Simply put, it's a sign of end of the world. Let me explain.

WARNING: The rest of this is not a film review, but is pertinent. From this point on, I'm going to be covering some pretty unpleasant topics. I include them because they are serious topics that our society has no choice but to face and deal with. Parents, don't let your children read this. I'm not kidding.

When Kate (Fey) talks with the director of the surrogate center, the director ends their conversation with this bit of wisdom:

"There's no wrong way to have a family."

That, in the end, is the underlying message of Baby Mama. It's all laughs and lessons about learning from each other, making friends, forgiving and getting along, but the constant thread throughout is, "there's no wrong way to have a family".

I submit to you that anybody with any decency or hope for humanity has to concede how wrong this stance is.

In the current climate of P.C. hyper-sensitivity, it's not very popular to have any stance against single parent families. They used to be called broken homes, but that's just too insensitive today. True, nobody should do anything to set back a single mother (or father) and their unfortunate child, but nobody should make the mistake of thinking one parent is as good as two, no matter how strong that one parent is. 'Nuf said.

A more headline issue today is gay marriage. I am opposed to the practice and policy, and at the end of this post, I hope you'll understand why. The loudest argument today is, if two consenting adults love each other, then who are you or I to tell them they can't enjoy their love in marrital bliss? The short answer is because marraige is more than love. Marraige is a legal recognition of a societal unit, specifically, the family. The family is arguably the most basic unit of society, just as an atom is the most basic unit of any chemical or compound. And just as an atom is made of protons, neutrons, and electrons, the formula for family is just as consistent, made up of Mother, Father, and children. The designation single parent family is a misnomer, really. That's what a family is, plain and simple, Mother, Father, children.

(The voice of angry detractors) Austin, you're just bigotted, out of touch, and can't see past your scriptures. There isn't any wrong way to have a family! What's wrong with a child having two daddy's or two mommies?!

Hang on, let me make my point. Remember, I said that anybody with any hope for humanity has to concede how wrong this stance is. Aren't you curious how? You have hope for humanity, right?

So a gay marraige is just as valid as a straight one, you say? There's no qualitative difference? Forgive me if I draw that premise out to it's natural conclusions. I'll play devil's advocate for a moment.

Have you ever seen a gay pride parade? In person? Neither have I to be honest, not a place I want to be, don't think I'd be very popular there. But I think they serve as an apt model. It's my understanding that gay pride parades frequently have a recognizable progression from beginning to end. Think of this literally and ideologically.

The parade starts with (hopefully) decent looking people holding banners, walking hand in hand, glad to stand up for what they believe to be their right. Shortly thereafter, you would see what has made gay pride parades so famous, the flamboyance and festivity, colors and costumes. I'd like to say these stay clean, but more often than not, they are characterized by public nudity, S&M paraphernalia, and other highly sexualized features. Seems to be a hallmark of the movement. But sadly, that isn't the end of it. Again, this reflects the ideological progression as well as the literal progression of the parade. Bringing in the end of the celebratory caravan are those who were probably not invited, but knew their opportunity when they saw it. These are people who engage in any number of forms of sexual deviancy. Pedophilia, bestiality, and weirder things I can't even make up. Hedonists and perverts, probably admittedly so. They come marching right on up behind, knowing that if society opens the door to homosexuality, they'll have a hard time closing the door for the end of the parade.

Not convinced? How about this. Suppose a few people decide they want to have a family by marrying one man to several women. Suppose they decide it also doesn't hurt if the women aren't adults, more like young girls. Sound familiar? Look in recent headlines. The mania regarding the "YFZ Ranch" and followers of Warren Jeffs is a clear example that there are wrong ways, very wrong ways, to have a family.

Once you acknowledge that line, that there are wrong ways to have a family, you have to begin to consider where that line lay.

Suppose another group decides they want to have a family sans children plus more partners. Like swingers, only official. This hypothetical group wants official recognition for a marraige of, say, three men to two women, all to each other, no particular "pairs". They all get fixed, for lack of a better term, and live and "love" together. Or worse, they actually want children in the arrangement. Is that a family? Where is the line drawn, between what constitutes a family and what does not? Does any of this sound healthy (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually)? We won't even go into the social ramifications. How do you tax a "family" like that? How do they share finances or responsibility? How do these people cooperate as a family? If the strongest bond they have is primarily sexual, can they trust each other, support each other in other meaningful ways? Does the arrangement promote any kind of virtue that makes a person good? In this kind of society, what is "good", anyway?

Baby Mama doesn't come anywhere near directly espousing any of these lifestyles. But it is an indicator of shifting societal values, in this case the broadening definition of "family". Popular media will always serve that purpose, even if you or I don't personally find it entertaining at times. Think back fifty years ago. Ricky and Lucy couldn't even share a bed. The Bundy's proved a game changer for what could and couldn't go on broadcast television. Cable television threw open the floodgates. And now, what was once unthinkable is now hardly noticed. The change has happened in a very short time. And it's not done, it's accellerating. I'm quite sure if we graphed this all out, we'd see an undeniable and unslowing trend. There are ups and downs, it's true, but I think the overall direction is clear.

Use your imagination and extrapolate. What was reflected in popular media only a few short years ago (full acceptance of homosexuality) has gained steam and is now becoming legislation, state by state, and country by country the globe over. The sexual exploits of popular media have become simultaneously more and more crass and celebrated. Thirty years from now, what kind of movies will pull in big at the box office? By that time, something like The 40 Year Old Virgin will seem like quaint, good ol' fashioned family entertainment. I dread the day when people are lining up to laugh at the comedic genius of The 14 Year Old Virgin, but I don't think we're too far off. You can already see it happening. We've got decades, maybe less, till the moral fabric of the country is completely shredded.

You may think I'm sick and/or crazy for all this. I hope you're right.

Breadcrumbs on the trail to the end of civilization.

There's no wrong way to have a family.

I hope you'll forgive me if I'm not excited about marching in the parades and where they're headed.

P.S. These opinions may be very unpopular in coming years, maybe they already are. This may all come back to bite me, but so be it. I'm just being honest.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Too Much

I don't really like paying over $60.00 for a tank of gas. Just sayin'.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

SIFF and an Open Letter to my Friends

I'm going to the Seattle International Film Festival tonight. By myself.
I bought a ticket to go see "The 27 Club". Should be good. I can't live
in the Seattle area for the summer and NOT go, but I don't really know
anybody here. So I go alone.

To my friends, wherever you are reading this, I offer my apology. I have
taken you for granted, and assumed I'd always have friends around. May I
be that much more grateful for company in the future.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Steve, I think you and I should try this when I get back to to UT. You can always see them at the Point of the Mountain. I hear it's not that expensive, comparable to skydiving, only with more air time.

Gospodor's Monument

I posted on Mine and Rob's Trip Blog.


If the reports are true and Teriyaki was invented in Seattle, that would
explain why there is a Teriyaki joint on every corner. It does not
explain why I feel the need to eat it with chopsticks, while the
restaraunt owners play Kenny Chesney.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I can't think of a title and I don't care

I'm going to make this brief, or at least try. My posts are usually longer than I intend, and that takes more time than I intend. While I thought I'd have buckets of time being up here, turns out a full time job takes up...a lot of your time. Who knew. Not me.

Also, I've found myself wanting to spend my time in very different ways than I did at school.

Some things you might find interesting, or at least that I've wanted to say:
I'm really glad I'm working on a project that will have a visible and easily understood product at the end of it. I'm not getting somebody coffee for my internship, and at the end of all this I'll be able to easily explain to people what I did and why it was valuable. And they'll be able to honestly say, "Neat!", and for that, I'm grateful.

This is my first time in a singles ward outside of BYU. It is different.

We had a fireside for the 70th anniversary of the Seattle Stake. Elder Ballard came and spoke to the young single adult crowd. Really great to hear him speak in a smaller setting. He talked about his ancestors, the sacrifices they made, the sacrifices made by the early church members in the Seattle area, and how we can carry on the tradition of faith. Then we had a picnic on Alki Beach. It rained. I want to go back.

There is a health food store a block from my apartment. I've been eating a lot more and a lot healthier than I did at school. I'm gaining weight, and need to implement that exercises regimen I told myself so much about before I moved up here.

I'm cooking a lot more, and not doing a bad job of it.
While I'm in the kitchen, I turn on the TV. I almost never watched the TV at my old place, partly because it was in such a place that you couldn't casually watch. Here, I can cook and watch, and I do.

Speaking of Cooking and TV, a girl I know from school is on the Food Network's show to become the next Food Network Star. This season premiered last Sunday. She did far and away better than anybody else on the show, and has over three times as many votes as the next closest contestant on the fan voting site. Giada didn't like her, and I can understand that, but she is doing great. Watch the show, and go to the website and vote for her. I don't know why I'm telling you this, I hardly know the girl, but the fact that she went to BYU in the broadcast program and we had a class together makes us some kind of kindred, right? Okay, no, it doesn't. Vote anyway.

Still on the subject of TV (I'm a broadcaster) I came home from work the other day and watched more TV in one sitting than I have in a very, very, very long time. Here is the linup: Charlie Rose with Guest George Will. It's men like Charlie Rose and George Will that made me want to go into broadcasting and journalism. Seems strange, but I've like both of them from when I was a kid. No joke. I agree with (almost) everything George Will has to say, and can't for the life of me think why men like him aren't more popularly celebrated, i.e. why does Ann Coulter get more coverage than George Will. I could go on about how Conservative America (particularly young Conservative America) are in sore need of somebody to look up to, but that's a post for another time. What I'm getting at is they had a really great hour long discussion about America, and I loved it. Some highlights:

I then watched the NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams does a great job, but I think he might want to relax those empathetic eyebrows, just for once, or they'll stay that way permanently. Or maybe he's too late.

Then Anderson Cooper 360. Doesn't really grab me, but it's good. Then some Glenn Beck, and interesting guy. I'm afraid he is part of the tradition of conservative pundits who offer simple answers to complex problems, and more than that, are just so darned loud, opinionated, inconsiderate, and generally arrogant commentators. Don't get me wrong, the guy has some good points, but the whole style leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Just a bit. Then The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Then The Colbert Report, with guest, George Will (again)!

And you know what? If anybody would want to outwit a conservative thinker, it's Colbert. He has chosen an essentially unbeatable position. He has set himself up as a stick man of sorts. He can make you sound ridiculous if he wants, simply by agreeing with you. And if you try to come back at him, well, he is a com median, what are you going to do? Attack him on his stance and policies? But even Colbert couldn't get the better of George Will, Will is too smart.

Okay, post done. That didn't take very long, only a week. Ya, I started this post a week ago. So much for a fast post.

Guest Speaker: Richard Engel

Richard Engel talking to Charlie Tillinghast, the president of MSNBC.com. It's dark in the newsroom, you can hardly see them.

Richard Engel in the field.

Richard Engel speaking to Microsoft employees.

NBC News Chief Foreign Corespondent Richard Engel came and spoke to Microsoft and MSNBC.com yesterday. He has lived in the Middle East for 12 years, in Iraq for the past five. Let me repeat that; the man decided to live in Iraq for the last five years, from 2003 through today. He only recently moved to Beirut when he was named chief foreign correspondent, and not just chief correspondent for the Middle East. If this all sounds crazy, then you might get an idea of what kind of guy he is. He doesn't seem crazy to meet him, but to put yourself in danger's way like he has, it makes people wonder. It makes me wonder, at least. He first got into Iraq with a visa as a human shield, i.e., the Iraqi government let him into the country because he promised to strap himself to a powerplant so America wouldn't bomb it. He didn't actually follow through with that promise, but still. Pretty brazen.

He spoke about the war. He said to call it the war is a misnomer. There is no single Iraq war, there have been several wars, at least five.

  1. America invades, Shock and Awe, Saddam is toppled.

  2. Looting, happy chaos, people excited to be liberated, but not sure what happens next.

  3. Disbelief, confusion, U.S. rushing to assemble new government, Iraqi people still dazed.

  4. Beginning April 2004, the Insurgency. Disnefranchized Sunnis violently revolt, along with former Baathist military who had been the elite of society and were now relegated to begging. Those, along with an organized foreign extremist force galvanized what would become the Insurgency.

  5. General Petraeus takes over, initiates new policies of cooperation with Iraqi forces, the surge starts, violence drops dramatically. Now it's a matter of building up a self sustaining governmental infrastructure, and withdrawing American forces.

That's what we face now. Engel was selling his books, both of them war diaries. I bought them both, had him sign them. Hope I can find time to actually read them now. A lot of what he said is summed up in the videos below. Fascinating, hope you like it as much as I did.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Guest Blog?

I've been busy. That's not an excuse, but a reason, I think they're different. Till I find the time, here is a post from Rob about his trip up here. Not written specifically for my audience, but it may as well have been. Enjoy.