Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MMA, Hawaiian style

Remember that superb line in Napoleon Dynamite when his cousin Kip says with a straight face, "Besides, we both know I'm training to be a cage fighter." Of course you do.

I got an email last week accompanied by the above picture. My friend Jeff on Oahu writes,
Hey Jenn, too bad you weren’t in Hawai'i with NOTHING to do on a Saturday nite. You could slum it at the Blaisdell (Exhibition Hall) and watch the fights. Should be fun!
"Should be fun" to me means should be fun to watch.

"Should be fun" to Jeff obviously meant something completely different, as I learned today when I received a followup email with more pics. I knew he was training in MMA, but this?
Hi Jenn,

First round was mostly striking with both of us trading. The first time down he caught me in a guillotine but I was safe by moving to side and we got stood up. At the end of the first round I mounted him in my corner and caught him in a deep kata g
atame. I heard the ten second clack and hopped to side and cranked but it wasn’t enough time, needed another five seconds and he might have tapped. Second round he was pissed and came out swinging, we traded and I took him down about half way through the round. I think he injured his shoulder on the take down and I was able to slip the rear naked choke in without hooks.. so much fun! CHEEHOO!
Say what?! Although written in a strange boy language in which I'm hardly fluent, I can translate enough to realize my man kicked some ass. Holy shit, my friend is a bona fide badass. Way to go, Jeff! Next stop, the pro tour!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

President Obama is not the Marlboro Man

circa 1980 (photo by Lisa Jack)

"Was it really wise to try to arrest the economy's free fall, bring peace to the Middle East, fix healthcare, save GM, save Wall Street, stop global warming AND quit smoking? Most of my friends can't do any ONE of those things. He should go ahead and smoke."
~some blogger named Sam, as quoted in the L.A. Times last week, on President Obama's attempt at quitting smoking last fall.

If we hear one more incident of the media making a big, stinking deal about President Obama's smoking, will we need to reach for a cigarette? Probably.

Last Monday, Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which makes illegal the vile practice by tobacco companies of targeting kids as customers. Very cool. However at a press conference the next day, instead of asking questions relevant to the bill, the press bombarded him with questions about his own smoking.

McClatchy's Margaret Talev asked him how many cigarettes he smokes daily and whether he does it in front of anyone. The nerve! What's next, asking whether he wears boxers or briefs? The look on his face while being asked these inane questions is priceless. He probably wished he had a cigarette to ash on her head. He smoothly shot her down, making it obvious that journalistic nosiness in the guise of political reporting was not appreciated.

"You just think it's neat to ask me about my smoking, as opposed to [your question] being relevant to my new law. I constantly struggle with it. Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No. I don't do it in front of my kids, I don't do it in front of my family, and I would say that I am 95% cured, but there are times where . . . I mess up."

When I worked for the Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, he told me that nicotine is the most addictive alkaloid (chemical compound) known to man. "More addictive than heroin, or cocaine?" I asked him. "Yes," he replied definitively. Who knew?

President Obama has what's probably the most stressful job in the world. Whether he sneaks an occasional cigarette behind the organic garden or he's sucking down a pack of Marlboros each night when he walks Bo under the cover of darkness, is it any of our business? Besides, smoking while ruling the world seems to have worked out okay in the past (whereas Hitler and Mussolini were adamant non-smokers, go figure).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sri Lankan astrologer arrested for his prediction!

The dangerous subversive himself, Chandrasiri Bandara

Now this is a story you don't see very often, at least not outside of the Weekly World News. Last week, a popular Sri Lankan astrologer predicted that the current president of his country would be ousted on September 9th, and the opposition party would take over ruling the country. The astrologer writes a column for a lefty-leaning paper there, and the government didn't take kindly to it. So a couple of days ago, they arrested the poor guy! I wanted to read his article, but can't find an English version. So I ran the chart for that day and found some heavy aspects going on. If you're into astrology, click on the graphic to enlarge it.


Two major things stand out right away. Mars, which rules rebellion, opposes Pluto, a "dark lord" sort of planet that rules the underworld and illegal activities. An opposition is considered a difficult aspect and occurs when two planets are 180 degrees apart from each other across the sky. This is a destructive, dangerous placement. Moreover, with Mars in the 8th house of death, and Pluto occupying the first house of self, which happens to be ruled by a fire sign (Sagittarius), I wouldn't be surprised if someone dies during a potentially violent rebellion.

The second aspect that forebodes heavy shit going down September 9 are more oppositions, this time between Uranus opposing the Sun and Saturn. Uranus rules innovative change, Saturn rules the conservative "status quo." This aspect lasts two years, and occurs only once every forty or forty-five years. Saturn in Virgo is an unstable placement, but Uranus in water sign Pisces is a strong one. There has been a definite "washing away" of the stodgy status quo, from the U.S. electing Obama to Iran's activist protests, and probably Sri Lanka's future political overthrow as well.

The opposition comes from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who've been fighting with the government for twenty-six years over their lack of education, employment, and treatment as inferior citizens.

Uranus also opposes Sun, and this signifies a big rebellion (Uranus) against the established order (Sun). With Uranus in the fourth house of the home, I wonder if the rebellion doesn't have supporters from within the government (the president's "home") itself who will aid in the rebellion.


Mercury, the planet governing communication, is in the 10th house of career at a difficult 90-degree square to both Pluto and Mars on September 9th. I believe that political activists and the media will be heavily censorsed in attempts to quell the spread of the rebellion. But this isn't surprising given the fact that Sri Lanka ranks 165th among 173 countries in a worldwide press freedom index (Reporters Without Borders). Nice.

Is the President in Physical Danger?

Interestingly, the president's own chart is a little foreboding when it comes to the transiting planets over his natal planets this fall. Without an exact birth time, it's tough to predict, but according to one astrologer who ran his chart,

Mars and Saturn combination in the 4th house indicates the strong resolve to fight militancy. However, this conjunction also indicates that there can be safety concerns for him. Mars and Saturn combination in 4th house does give danger from conveyance.
So with Saturn opposing the president's natal Saturn's 4th house placement, while transiting Uranus joining his natal Mars and Saturn there, whatever happens is probably going to be far from pretty.

Watch your back, buddy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sun: a rarity in New England this summer

Lurking around Newport on call for freelance yacht crew gigs, I've been spending time in Rhode Island and on Cape Cod, both awesome places to be during summer. However, in the past few weeks we've had only two count'em two days of sun. In celebration of the glowing orb in the sky, here are some pics from last Wednesday, the first of the two nice days. My nephew Alex and I commandoed the family boat and sped full throttle south to Cuttyhunk Island.

The island is halfway between Wesport Harbor and the Vineyard. It took us 15 or 20 minutes to get there. Here's the entrance to Cuttyhunk Harbor.

Cuttyhunk has a population of about 400 in summer and 50 year rounders. It's the striped bass fisherman's mecca if you're into that kind of thing. It's a half mile long and half of it is a nature preserve. Its highest point is 154 feet. The school has one teacher and three students. It is probably the most boring place on earth to grow up as a teenager, but it's nice to visit by boat. There's not much to do except tie up and hang out.

I've never seen a rainbow cloud before. Realistically, it was just a reminder that shitty weather wasn't far away, but it looked pretty. Sure enough, it rained the following eight days. But today, day nine, it is sunny again.

Now on the Cape, I took a bike ride to West Dennis Beach, a mile-long south-facing beach.

I biked to the mouth of the Bass River at the western tip of the beach, and took the below pic, looking south to Nantucket Sound. If you're looking for a good deserted beach to frolic like it's your own private island, this is the one for you because more than half the parking lot is closed due to Piping Plovers. The only way to get to this spot is to bike or walk.

Might as well soak it up, it's going to rain again tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The dead whale in Little Compton

You know you're sick of being stuck indoors on the endless rainy days when going to check out a whale carcass seems like a decent way to pass the time.

Two dead whales washed ashore in the town of Little Compton, Rhode Island, where I've been staying for the past week. One of them, a humpback, landed on the private beach to which my sister and her family belong. The Providence Journal reports today:
. . . on Saturday workers on Briggs Beach spent the day burying the 30-foot-long, 2-ton humpback that washed ashore last week. But some problems arose there on the wet sand.

With the weekend’s pounding surf, a backhoe operator was able to dig down only about four feet before waves started filling the hole, said beach manager Ron Bogle. Then there was the issue of bloating.

The very backhoe

Staff from the aquarium suggested the backhoe operator first use the bucket’s teeth to pop a few holes in the bulging blubber to allow some buoyant gases to escape.

“He banged on that thing with the claw several times but it didn’t make a dent,” Bogle said. “That old saying, ‘As tough as nails’? Well for me it’s now as tough as whale.”

Someone suggested using a chain saw “but no one volunteered to get that close to it,” Bogle said. It smells pretty bad.

The end result come Sunday morning was that with the pounding waves and the ever more buoyant humpback, “the whale is right there on the beach and it looks like we never even dug a hole.”

The plan now, said Bogle, is to wait a couple of days in the hopes that the new-moon tide may lift the whale higher onto the beach. Then once the tide levels recede workers will dig a deeper hole higher up on the sand.

In the meantime, Bogle said he would be speaking with the local police to see if they might shoot some holes in the whale.

Bogle has already ruled out, however, any explosives such as dynamite used once in Oregon to dislodge a similar beached whale.

So my nephew and I checked it out today, being careful to stay upwind, although it didn't smell as bad as we were expecting. I think they shot it because even though it's been dead for a week, fresh blood was dripping from several holes, which was surprising.

Here's what can happen when the decomposition gases build up to the point of no return:

This 60-ton sperm whale was on it's way to a necropsy in Taiwan when it exploded en route. And while on the topic of exploding whales, this video of the detonation of the 1970 Oregon whale is wild. This shows why using a half ton of dynamite to get rid of a dead whale isn't a good idea.

"The blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds," as the newscaster put it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"The Hangover" made me cry

I have not laughed this hard in a very long time. I was crying laughing. Here's the dirty trailer they can't show on TV.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nurse Jackie: Sharper than a new scalpel

I'm bummed I no longer have Showtime, given the greatness of "Weeds" and "The Tudors," but now that they're putting some of their premieres on YouTube with just a minimally irritating commercial at the beginning of the show, I'm really jonesing for Showtime.

"Nurse Jackie" premiered this week and it is amazing. You can watch the whole thing here.

Carmela from "The Sopranos" finally got her day in the sun -- and she finally got to hook up with Father Phil, this time in the hospital pharmacy with Paul Schulze channeling her doctor lover. Edie Falco did her own post-Sopranos thing on Broadway, and now the TV-viewing public gets to enjoy her phenomenal acting talent on HBO's rival. Set at a fictitious Catholic Manhattan hospital on Third Avenue, "Nurse Jackie" features Falco playing a bitchy, brilliant nurse with a good heart and a smart mouth, who just so happens to have a little addiction to Oxy, due to a bad back. The flawed heroine's character shines through razor sharp dialogue, thanks to top-notch writing. One part "Six Feet Under," one part "Sopranos," one part "House." With lots of swearing, true to New York fashion.

To give you an idea of the script, here's a scene where she diagnoses a bike messenger who's just had an accident. The cocky young doctor "Coop" ignores Nurse Jackie's plea to have his brained scanned for glucose levels to rule out that the cerebrospinal fluid cushioning his brain isn't screwed up, which would in turn cause a brain hemmorage, as she suspects is the case. The doctor, however, ignores her, wrongly believing that the patient's injuries are relegated to his banged-up leg. And the bike messenger dies on the operating table.

After altruistically and illegally signing the dead kid off as an organ donor, she approaches the incompetent doctor who's washing up. He acts all nonchalant, asking her what he can do for her.

NURSE JACKIE: What you can do for me is this. You can stay the fuck out of my way, that's what you can do for me.

DOCTOR COOPER: Do you need to use the sink?

NURSE JACKIE: No, what I need for you to know is that I know you. I've seen hundred of you jerkoffs blow through these doors. You graduated what, top ten, five percent of your class, right? Test scores through the roof but a total fucking retard when it comes to actual patients? I know you! I just had to sit there and look that kid's mother in the eye and tell her we did everything we could, you dumb shit! That was my patient. I told you he was slipping and he was. If I tell you to order a scan then you order a goddamned scan because if you don't I'll just go to the next doctor, and the next doctor after that, and that kid died, and it is all on you.

Stupid-ass Scrubs this ain't. Go Showtime.

File under "Who gives a shit?"

I am scrolling through the Google news headlines just now and I cannot believe what I see. There are 336 separate articles about this "story."

Miley Cyrus breaks up with boyfriend Justin Gaston
Chicago Tribune - ‎3 hours ago‎
Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus has broken up with her boyfriend of almost nine months and is tweeting about it. According to E! News, the 16-year-old ended her relationship last week with underwear model and aspiring singer Justin Gaston, 20, ...
They said it: Miley Cyrus The Star-Ledger - NJ.com
People Magazine - MTV.com - FOXNews - New York Daily News

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Obama orders Stephen Colbert's head to be shaved

Wearing a custom-made Brooks Brothers camouflage suit, Stephen Colbert began his weeklong broadcast from Baghdad yesterday in a show of support for the troops. He is doing these shows to help the U.S.O. in its mission to "provide morale, welfare and recreation-type services to uniformed military personnel." You have to love this guy.

Attending bootcamp wasn't quite enough, however, and President Obama beamed in to order the shaving of his head! Yowza.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Obama Orders Stephen's Haircut - Ray Odierno
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorKeyboard Cat

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cheap employers suck

Have you ever worked at a job where the more hours you work, the less you get paid?

Get this story. I started working at a huge estate several weeks ago. Very fancy pants place on over a hundred acres. I'm thinking this gig is too good to be true. At first I was stoked to work with this talented albeit moody French chef whose culinary creations are outstanding every meal. I'm learning so much about haute cuisine -- without even having to enroll in culinary school. Cool.

However, I got my first paycheck recently. It was way less than it should have been. I call the payroll department lady and tell her there's a mistake. I was hired as an independent contractor, so no taxes were supposed to be taken out, yet there were taxes taken out. She says, "Oh we decided you weren't really an independent contractor." Oh, really.

Even worse, the more hours I work, the less my hourly wage is. They take my weekly salary and divide it by the number of hours worked that week. Last week I worked sixty hours. So my hourly rate was less than it would have been had I worked thirty or forty hours. Say what?

Oh and there's the overtime problem. Instead of paying me time-and-a-half, they pay me half my regular hourly rate for any hours I work over forty. I tell her, "But you just explained to me that I don't even have an hourly rate! It depends on how many hours I work."

"That's right," she says. She is talking in doublespeak!

So I say to the payroll lady, "You're telling me that the more hours I work, the less money I'll make?"

Yes, she admits that this feat of mathmatical genius is true.

Fuck. That. Shit. I quit!

And to think I turned down a cooking gig on a Newport racing yacht last week because I was already working this estate job. Kill me now.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Goodbye, Bill

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Maui vog

Maui's down there. Somewhere.

I got an email yesterday from a Maui friend. They write:
We've been having a terrible problem from vog this year. Last March, there was an earthquake on the Big Island, and it opened a new vent in the volcano, so since then, it has been spewing sulphuric dioxide gas and if the trade winds aren't howling, it drifts over here. It is so thick that you can't see Lanai, Molokini, or Wailea (from Maalaea). It really kicks up my asthma, makes my eyes burn (and my skin, too), and is generally very unpleasant. What is weird is that there is nothing to do about it. Pele is just not happy, and she has no compunction about letting us know.

Vog is the nickname for volcano fog. The tradewinds blow from the northeast, so usually it bypasses Maui to the south. But in the summer, the tradewinds mellow and Kona winds can kick up, blowing the grey haze right up and over to the Valley Isle. During the few years when I lived there, I only saw vog a couple of times, thankfully. What a bummer that vog is ruining the island. I have a sweet offer to housesit in Kihei during the whole month of July, but now I'm not sure if I even want to go. Sounds pretty gross.

Sunrise on Maui through the vog. Nice.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"I do not like the cone of shame" says Dug

Today was my day off, so I went to the movie theater to see what was playing. I had already seen everything except for two, and I wasn't about to plunk down money for Drag Me to Hell, although it sounds like fairly good camp according to Kurt Loder's hilarious review. So Disney-Pixar's Up in 3D was about the best choice, and I started to walk away, poo-pooing it as a kid's movie. Then I turned around and thought, oh what the hell, how bad can it be.

The theater manager assured me it was good, and that I would cry. I paid the extra four bucks for my nerdy little 3D glasses and although I didn't believe him, he was right on both counts. This movie is absolutely great. I was shocked how much I loved it. I even felt guilty for being such a grump and almost not having given it a chance. I deserved the Cone of Shame.

Here are some excerpts from reviews of Up.

Up is a breathtaking ride into the realm of pure imagination. Up shames the pap that now passes for family entertainment (yes, Night at the Museum 2, I'm talking to you). ~Rolling Stone

How much do I love this movie? If it were mathematically possible, I'd give it five stars out of four. ~Philadelphia Inquirer

Rarely has any film, let alone an animated one powered by the logic of dream and fantasy, been able to move so successfully -- and so effortlessly -- through so many different kinds of cinematic territory. ~L.A. Times

To watch Up with any attention is to be moved and astonished by the economy with which specific visuals are invested with emotion throughout. ~San Francisco Chronicle

An exquisite work of cinematic art that also happens to be the funniest, most touching, most exciting and most entertaining movie released so far this year. ~New York Post

As in their finest work, the Pixar filmmakers have created thrilling cinema simply by rifling through its history. ~New York Times

It feels nervy and adventurous and a little messy, the result of formidable creators and genuine wits working on an enormous budget, enormously well-spent. ~Chicago Tribune

Everything about Up is an up, in the most visceral and poetic ways. ~Baltimore Sun

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Scipps National Spelling Bee's gastronomic words

I am watching the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee and wow, talk about channeling my inner geek. I am so entranced with this show I cannot tear myself away. There are just a handful of kids left as I type. Here are some of the foodie words I should have known but would totally have bombed:
  • Neufchâtel (as in the cheese)
  • Caerphilly (as in another cheese, what's with the cheese thing?)
  • tagliatelle, pronounced "tallatelly" (as in the pasta)
  • palatschinken (jam-filled pancakes)

That last one tripped up my favorite kid, Kenyi. Bummer.

Speaking of food, I'm currently working with a French chef of international renown who's been written up in The Atlantic, New York Times, been featured on television, etc. and am gaining more gastronomic education about haute cuisine than people in chef school, but unfortunately my job leaves me no time to blog about my new foodie repertoire. One job perk is the geusioleptic aromas wafting in the kitchen. I just learned that word tonight courtesy of the spelling bee.

Below is the French-made oven the chef cooks with. Isn't it amazing? It's "The Chateau" model by La Cornue. I didn't know that forty-thousand-dollar ovens even existed. Surprise!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Terminator Salvation's nude Arnold body double scene

Good lord, what a letdown. If you are looking for a way to kill some time and need an excuse to go out for movie popcorn, then fine. It's not painful to watch, but it would better suffice as a Netflix rental.


There is one scene that is totally worth seeing for it's comic value. A door blows open with spectacular force. You see someone's feet and big muscular calves and then the camera pans up to show big muscular quads and suddenly there's this mist, or fog, or the smoke machine on the set has gone off by accident because why is there smoke who knows, and so the boy parts are enshrouded with opacity, and then the camera pans up to a major six pack and huge pecs and biceps and upwards we go and it's . . .


But is it? This body belongs to someone who is in Mr. Universe shape, and let's face it. Arnold is more like in Mr. Middle-Aged Average Joe shape these days. Obviously it can't be his body.

And as it turns out, it's not. It's this body double guy - Austrian bodybuilder Roland Kickinger.

Mr. Triceps himself even played Arnold in the 2005 A&E biopic "See Arnold Run."

Back to the point, which is what is this naked Arnold Terminator doing in the scene? Who knows. It's never explained. He simply goes after Christian Bale and slams him around a bit. Bale escapes. We see Arnold's shadow coming around the corner and . . .

POOF. That's the end of Arnold for the rest of the film. Where did he go? To find some clothes? To find the men's room? To find a good Cuban cigar? We never know. What was he doing there? Don't know that either. He simply appears out of the mist/fog/smoke, and then disappears -- much like the plot and continuity.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Maureen Dowd's plagiarism excuse

Harvard Crimson/Alexandra P. Kass

You'd think a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer could come up with something better than the PR equivalent to "the dog ate my homework."
"josh is right. I didn't read his blog last week, and didn't have any idea he had made that point until you informed me just now. i was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point, expressing it in a cogent -- and I assumed spontaneous -- way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column. but, clearly, my friend must have read josh marshall without mentioning that to me. we're fixing it on the web, to give josh credit, and will include a note, as well as a formal correction tomorrow."
This is what Maureen Dowd told the The NYTPicker.

She lifted material from a blog published last Thursday on the Talking Points Memo (TPM) website. Here's the original post by Josh Marshall:

"More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq."
Now here's Dowd's from yesterday's New York Times:
"More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq."

And this is the woman who blasted Joe Biden for plagiarism in one of his speeches. I wonder what repercussions she's going to face from the editors. What they should do is publish an op-ed about the incident, titled, "An Echo from a Blog."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Big Bang Theory's tribute to Leonard Nimoy

Seeing Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek made me wonder how all the Trekkies are handling their flames of geek passion seeing him in action again. Which made me think of this episode of the Big Bang Theory, one of my favorite shows.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Star Trek: a gathering of actors from great TV and films

Mitch Yost has gotten back in the game.

The new Star Trek is so good! I love the fact that they cast Bruce Greenwood as Captain Christopher Pike. If you were a fan of HBO's short-lived "John From Cincinnati," you'd remember him as the cool, not-yet-over-the-hill surfer Mitch Yost.

Then there's White Castle Harold as Sulu, played by John Cho. He put on a pretty impressive, very un-Haroldish sword-wielding fight scene.

And of course Sylar, I mean Zachary Quinto, who is perfect as a young Spock. I still was half-expecting him to finger-saw Romulan skull, though.

I had a frustrating "who-IS-that-I-know-I've-seen-him-before" moment when trying to figure out the actor playing Kirk. I racked my brain before remembering him as . . .

. . . wild-child oenophile Bo Barrett in the wonderful film Bottle Shock that came out last fall. Chris Pine is more smoking in Star Trek without that heinous wig, channeling a young Brad Pitt on the Enterprise.

The sexiest character (and my sister who saw the movie with me concurs) was Romulan villain Nero, played by Eric Bana. Remember him starring in Troy and Munich years ago?

Not me. I didn't recognize him at all, and had to cheat by visiting IMDB for that "aha" moment.

Besides the great talent, the film as a whole is fantastic, especially the editing and special effects. It not surprising that it's full of time travel and discussion of quantum mechanics, as it's directed by J.J. Abrams, who produced "Lost." Definitely one of the best Star Trek films, and worth seeing on the big screen. And supposedly the actors have signed on for two sequels, the first of which is planned for a 2011 release, which will probably bring back William Shatner.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The stuck-in-the-dungeon riddle

Okay, smarty pants.

You are stuck in a dungeon with two doors. One leads to freedom, the other to death. You may ask just one single question of the two guards standing by the doors in order to escape. One of the men always lies and the other always tells the truth, but you can't differentiate the liar from the truth-teller.

What one question can you ask that will guarantee your exit through the right door?

Give it some thought before you scroll down to the answer . . .

you are so cheating . . .

Give up? By the way I wonder if the dungeon has rats . . .

. . . or Iron Maidens. Haha. Okay here's the answer:

The question you'd ask either guard is, "If I had asked you if this was the door to freedom, would your answer have been 'yes'?" If it was the honest guard, it's a no brainer. If it was the liar guard, he'd have to lie about what his original answer would have been. Voila.

I love that riddle.