Bolsheviks, Borscht, and Baccarat: The Origin Stories of Tintin and James Bond as Anti-Soviet Crusaders

•November 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Below is my final paper for my HIST 243 class, “Europe Since 1945”, taken in Fall 2012 at the College of William & Mary and taught by Professor Laurie Koloski. Continue reading ‘Bolsheviks, Borscht, and Baccarat: The Origin Stories of Tintin and James Bond as Anti-Soviet Crusaders’

Soundtrack Saturday: GoldenEye

•September 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hello and welcome to a new feature of Spy Hat Zed: Soundtrack Saturday! What is that, you may ask? Good question! Basically, every other Saturday (or every Saturday, if I have the time), I’ll review one of the myriad movie/musical soundtracks and scores I have in my iTunes, track by track. There will be trivia and humor and a splendid time is guaranteed for all. (It should be noted that I have never taken a music theory class in my life, so this is in no way a scientific analysis.)

So, which soundtrack gets the honor of being the first reviewed? Well, if you read the title of this entry, which I’m sure you did because that is just how blog posts work, you would know, it’s GoldenEye! (Incidentally, this was the very first soundtrack I ever bought. I remember finding it in a Borders circa 2000 – having already declared that it was my favorite movie of all time, I immediately squeaked and snatched it up. Please remember that I was nine at the time and I couldn’t find that CD anywhere but the internet, which I was not allowed to buy from since I was, er, nine.)

Pause while everyone feels old. Okay, let’s continue. Continue reading ‘Soundtrack Saturday: GoldenEye’

Facebook Games: The Mind-Virus That Is Destroying Humanity

•July 23, 2010 • 2 Comments

It’s a routine most of us are familiar with. You log into Facebook, check your homepage, and someone’s filled it with endless notifications from whichever stupid game they’re playing. Bob wants you to tend his cattle in FrontierVille! Lucy wants you to harvest her crops! (Settle down, gents, I mean in FarmVille.) So-and-so won a battle in Vampire Wars and is feasting upon the blood of his enemies! It’s amazing how much utter garbage you have to scroll through in order to see if anyone’s posted anything of import recently (and this being Facebook, odds are heavily against that). Finally, you reach the bottom of the page and see a status like this:

Someone join my mafia i need 1 more person 2 do this mission kthx

…and your urge to remove people from the gene pool grows ever stronger.

Well, take heart, fellow citizens of the internet. And take a deep breath. Ready?

It’s not their fault.

No, it isn’t. It’s not their fault they’re flooding your news feed with such absolute rubbish at all hours of the night. They’re victims, you know. They’ve been infected with a truly insidious virus: The virus of casual gaming.

Since I’m not a doctor, you may think me poorly-qualified to make such a claim. I feel sufficiently comfortable doing so because I’ve seen Outbreak and The Andromeda Strain (the 1971 version, not the explosion-tastic miniseries) several times. That makes me at least a quarter of a virologist, right? Continue reading ‘Facebook Games: The Mind-Virus That Is Destroying Humanity’

Breaking: AOL News Comments Not Posted by Sentient Beings, Vertebrates

•August 4, 2009 • 1 Comment

Mama always said life is like a box o’ choc-o-lates; no matter how carefully you pick, you’re bound to pull up some inedible crap with coconut flakes and cherry liqueur every now and then. Some perhaps more useful advice I got was never read the comments posted on news stories online, because they are full of Internet Tough Guys and also douchebags of the highest caliber.

Oh, you know I’m right. Have you ever sat down and picked through the comments on your average AOL News article? Most of them make me doubt that the posters have completed third grade, judging by the abysmal spelling and grammar and their flagrant disregard for the English language and/or the shift key (or the 1/16th of an inch it takes to turn the Caps Lock key off; it works both ways).

Even the most innocent of stories are not safe from this madness. For example, here’s a cute piece about how Obama and Helen Thomas share a birthday, so he brought her cupcakes in the briefing room. Nothing bad can be made out of that, right?

O, but follow, gentle reader. Continue reading ‘Breaking: AOL News Comments Not Posted by Sentient Beings, Vertebrates’

Holy Late DC Tea Party Coverage, Batman!

•April 21, 2009 • 3 Comments

I have no excuse for this except that I ended up abroad (read: elsewhere in VA) after the tea party. So, here goes!:

The atmosphere by the White House during the protest was one of fear and indignation, but also cheerful despite the rainy weather. The roughly 500 people in attendance were split between the main crowd in Lafayette Park and a smaller group in front of the White House itself. Though the purpose of the event was to protest the current economic system and the perceived trend towards socialism in the government, issues from all over the board were on display. Some questioned the President’s American citizenship with signs and shouting at the White House; others carried signs proclaiming the Employee Free Choice Act unconstitutional. The main issue that brought people from across the nation to the seat of power, however, was the economy.

“It’s time we just let the system work,” Todd, who had come to the event from Seattle, WA, said. (He would not provide his last name.) “We’re moving too fast, not thinking things through. This is not the way the system was created to run, and it’s not the way it should head in the future.” When asked about the protests occurring across the country, he said, “This is the start of a movement. The more people who come out [against the current direction of the economy], the more people will know it’s okay to come out.”

He was not the only person from the West Coast to come for the protest in DC rather than attending one closer to home – Abraham Mudrick from Silverton, OR, came with a sign that read “Fascism…is the Merger of the State and Corporate Power. – Benito Mussolini” and “The Fed Reserve: Officially Pulling the Strings Since 1914”, stylized as the logo from The Godfather. “I came all the way down to help this movement to be heard, and to tell the federal government to stop out-of-control spending,” he said. “This movement needs to break the chains of ‘taxation without representation’,” which he describes as “elected officials not doing what the American people want. We didn’t want the Bush bailout, and the majority of people who elected Obama did not want the stimulus package. There’s a disconnect here – our representatives aren’t representing us. Future hyperinflation is a hidden form of taxation without representation.”

The protest, although mostly peaceful, was broken up by a minor clash with counter-protesters, led by Alex Lawson, a DC native. “I paid $200 for five signs at Kinko’s, and three of them were destroyed by the crowd,” he said. He and his unaffiliated group had gathered on their lunch break and dressed as billionaires and gone down to the protest at Lafayette Park. They managed to get close to the front of the small stage, waving their signs, which were blocked by the Tea Party protesters. There was some pushing and shoving of the counter-protesters, and the signs were taken out of their hands. Lawson feared for the safety of his small group, and tried to de-escalate the incident. After one of the organizers shouted at those who had taken the signs, saying that the counter-protesters could be there, too, Lawson’s group had one sign returned to them, and moved to the back. His group was interviewed by a documentarian on-scene, where he was asked by someone in the crowd, “When was the last time you got your ass kicked?”

“The vein of that kind of anger was permeated throughout the protest,” Lawson said. “It was unfocused, raw rage.” He also said that “the organizers were professional. They handled the crowd well.” Lawson and his group went down to the protest because “the tax burden has shifted onto the middle class. I was offended by the fact that people thought they were taking the fall now as opposed to the past eight years. That’s why I went out in the rain.”

At about 2:15 PM, an item was flung over the White House fence onto the lawn, and the protest had to be broken up for about thirty minutes while the Secret Service investigated. The item turned out to be a box of tea bags.