Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2008

Deep Throat croaks

W. Mark Felt passed away this last week. A few years ago he revealed himself as "Deep Throat," Woodward and Bernstein's anonymous source for their investigative reporting into Watergate. Their reporting gave rise to Congressional investigations into misconduct by President Richard Nixon, who, in response to pending impeachment proceedings, resigned from office.I won't debate the sins of Richard Nixon, or the swelled heads of Woodward and Bernstein, and I sure as hell won't join the ranks of those who consider Felt some sort of hero. The reason is simple: He's not a hero.Felt was a deputy director the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He acted as he did out of pure spite. He was resentful that Nixon didn't appoint him as the new FBI director after Hoover died. Snitching on Nixon was not an act of patriotism or courage, it was an act of revenge.He couldn't have objected to the wiretaps or break-ins. After all, Felt himself authorized lots of illegal wire…

New Guilty Pleasure: Wanted

How does one justify liking a movie that is, more often than not, incoherent on its own terms? That pretty consistently lacks any character that you give a good damn for? That has visuals that blur vision and defy reality, physics, and even the norms of acceptable behavior?Well, why bother? For reasons not quite within my comprehension, I actually enjoyed Wanted. Part of it was, no doubt, due to the director Timur Bekmambetov, who also did Night Watch and Day Watch, another pair of guilty pleasures. Those movies are also pretty incoherent, yet embrace a certain poignancy that makes all the noise worth the effort. Wanted hasn't got the poignancy, and yet...The setup is fairly straight-forward. There exists a group known as The Fraternity of Assassins. They've been around for over a thousand years, initially as a band of weavers. Over the centuries they have been engaging in a series of selective assassinations, killing those who are designated to die. How are they chosen? By --…

Regarding Milk

I find myself in strange agreement with Diane Feinstein: I'm not sure I want to see Gus Van Sant's film, Milk. You see, the titular subject of the film reflect history for me, not some distant abstract.I was born and raised in San Francisco, specifically in the Castro (more accurately, Eureka Valley, but that's being picky). I was in high school when The Pendulum opened on 18th Street, just up from Castro, not quite four blocks from home. The Pendulum was the neighborhood's first gay bar, and it started a trend. What was a predominantly working class Irish neighborhood became, over the years, the gay capitol of the state, if not the nation.I remember the gay couple who owned the pet shop (just a couple of doors down from The Pendulum). Wonderful people, had been together for a long time, and if they're still alive I suspect they are still together. They were always mortified and embarrassed when the Gay Pride parade pranced by.Harvey Milk became a member of the San…

DVD: The Dark Knight

I've already gushed, but I feel like raving some more, and the release on DVD is as good an excuse as any.The Dark Knight is the best film I've seen all year, possibly the best I've seen in years. In terms of action films, there's no contest. In terms of superhero films, there's no contest. In terms of drama, okay, there's some give and take. But I think it's better than last year's Best Picture, No Country For Old Men, or its strongest competition, There Will Be Blood. And both those films were great, if subtly flawed. The Dark Knight skips the flaws. Is it too much to compare it to The Lives of Others, the only other recent film that has haunted me this much?The Dark Knight is, as Movie Bob put it, essentially perfect. I saw it once at a regular theatre, a second time at IMAX, and now several times via DVD. I'm enthralled each time. TDK is one of those films that I can't stop watching once I've begun. It has moments where I just want to pu…

Happy Thanksgiving!

With so much to be thankful for, I think I'll keep this short. I am thankful for the health and prosperity of my children. I am thankful for the work my daughter does in the military and I pray she remains healthy and safe.I am thankful for all the members of all the United States armed forces, who stand watch in far places so I can sit and type this.So that I can live in the greatest country the world has ever seen.I am thankful I live in a country that is overwhelmingly a force for good in a dark and cruel world.And I am thankful that the most vicious of the Bush haters were -- again -- proven wrong. We didn't descend into a theocracy. Our republic didn't collapse into a dictatorship. In just a few weeks, my country will -- again -- watch a peaceful change in leadership.So thank you, Lord, for all the above, and for so much more.May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious��…

The Alphabet Meme

...as found at Dirty Harry and What Would Toto Watch, as devised by Blog Cabins, with these rules. My list, based solely on the mood of the moment:Apocalypse Now - Because no one film's insanity better than Francis Coppola.Boondock Saints - Guns, Irish accents, Billy Connolly, etc.Cowboy Bebop - Sometimes you need a bounty hunter, and who better than Spike?Die Hard - Yippe kay-yay...!Escape From New York - Why we don't make this reality (i.e., Manhattan as a massive prison) is a mystery to me.Fall - An obscure little gem that was recommended to me years ago. Far from perfect, yet hits a perfect note with me.Ghost in the Shell - Anime can make you think. Really.Hard Candy - Forget Juno, Ellen Page was a star right here.In Harm's Way - John f'ing Wayne, Kirk f'ing Douglas, big f'ing naval battles.Jaws - All other "j" films bow in worship.Kung Fu Hustle - Buddhist Palm!Layer Cake - Daniel Craig, a star right there, baby. "You'd be in there, too,…

Jaws is a perfect film

For a while, I've been thinking about a comment Toto made in regards to my review of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I had opined that Raiders of the Lost Ark is, arguably, a perfect film, and he stated that he felt Jaws was just that, a perfect film.Well, yes, of course. Maybe I thought that was too obvious a point to make. But just to be clear: Jaws isn't "arguably" a perfect film, it is a perfect film.Peter Benchley's novel, if you've never read it, is a crackling good yarn, but the film adaptation is better. A galley proof of the manuscript was sitting in a pile at Universal Studios, where a young Steven Spielberg found it, read it, and said, "I want it!" Despite the box office failure of his first big-screen film (The Sugarland Express), Spielberg was still riding high on the success of his made-for-TV thriller, Duel. He got his wish.Carl Gottlieb, originally hired to act in the film, ended up co-writing the screenplay (Benchley did the origi…

God bless and keep you, President-elect Barack Obama

I've had 24 hours to contemplate yesterday's election. I had a few things to say, and then I found that Dirty Harry had already said them so well, to his own (left-leaning) mother, no less:While some of my readers are understandably and bitterly disappointed, even at me for not being so, not a single one will ever cross the many unholy lines your side has over the last eight years.We will never summon all the powers at our disposal to advocate for chaos and massacre and defeat in a foreign country.We will never hurl the blackest of  lies to win a news cycle.We will never refuse to grant Barack Obama his humanity.We will never refuse to acknowledge President Obama has done something right when he does something right.And we will never consider a doctrine that would silence your side.For the sake of power, your side went against country, undermined our military, sided with the enemy, and sold the souls they don’t believe in.  Unlike your side, I can afford to be magnanimous to B…

Do I laugh or do I cry?

Laugh, because she can't be serious:Bush has transformed America into a police state, from torture to the imprisonment of reporters, to the Patriot Act.Cry, because she obviously means it:Basically, Jong says her fear that Obama might lose the election has developed into an "obsession. A paralyzing terror. An anxious fever that keeps you awake at night."Poor Erica Jong.She's saying this in Italy, and so can comfortably travel abroad. Somehow she escaped the police state, or does she even live in the US?I don't think she's hurting for money. Is she proof that fame and fortune rot the brain of its higher functions?HT Ace of Spades.

Obama '08? How about: Oh, never!

Any genuine contest between liberty and equality is a contest liberty must lose. (Ronald Dworkin.)Barrack Obama is all about equality, which means that in the final analysis, he'll toss liberty if it gets in the way. Even Brits get it:As I have said before, I do not trust McCain; I think his judgment is erratic and impetuous, and sometimes wrong. But on the big picture, he gets it. He will defend America and the free world whereas Obama will undermine them and aid their enemies.Here’s why. McCain believes in protecting and defending America as it is. Obama tells the world he is ashamed of America and wants to change it into something else. McCain stands for American exceptionalism, the belief that American values are superior to tyrannies. Obama stands for the expiation of America’s original sin in oppressing black people, the third world and the poor.Obama thinks world conflicts are basically the west’s fault, and so it must right the injustices it has inflicted.My folks were lif…

And I thought Speed Racer looked bad...

This is really nauseating. I can't think of a nice thing to say. Even Karl Urban, who I thought was an awesome choice for McCoy looks....

And look at the leads. Good grief!

UPDATE: Having survived reading the article...

Simon Pegg as Scotty still looks good, but in the group shot his expression seems to say, "Good grief, look at these fooles."

I had hope (hope, I say) when Karl Urban was cast as McCoy. I laughed out loud because it seemed so perfect. Seeing him in that picture, though, makes my stomach churn.

As for the rest of the cast…? Oh. My. God.

And the production designs?!? The bridge of the Enterprise as interpreted by Apple Store designers? Abrams bragging that the bridge set is so cool it makes Apple Stores look uncool. He must think the set designs for Logan’s Run are just uber cool and not some Texas shopping mall. Oh wait…

And ooh, handrails for crew to hang onto when they hit turbulence. How exciting, realism! Feh!

Abrams states that he's not making this for Tr…

DVD: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Raiders of the Lost Ark, or, in long form, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, is arguably a perfect film. What it lacks in depth or intellect it more than makes up for in verve, style, and an extraordinary dedication to craft. Above all else, it rocks.The next two sequels couldn't live up to the original. Temple of Doom decided that "dark" was a good thing. I enjoyed it at the time but it's aged horribly, with Steven Spielberg's wife-to-be being grating and annoying. Please, please, I now beg, just let her fall into the lava! Only that little Short Round bastard (!) is worse.And while The Last Crusade recaptured a degree of the original's sense of fun, it obliterated two of its cherished characters. Marcus Brody was reduced to being a idiot while Sallah is depicted as hapless and well nigh useless. These were criminal abuses of people who were key to the first film, especially in the way they gave Indiana Jones, the man, background and depth.And n…

DVD: A Sound of Thunder

The sad fact is that for many film reviews, I’m often a little late to the party. Of course, thanks to the wonders of DVD, that party never really ends. Once upon a time, movies came and went. If you were lucky, it was re-released a few years later and you’d get a second shot at it. In our oh so modern world, however, the “re-release” happens whenever the DVD finally arrives at our doorstep.Such is the case here, after a workmate suggested that 2005’s A Sound of Thunder was a good silly film, worth the time to watch, and loaned me her copy.She lied.A Sound of Thunder tries to be a throwback, a B-movie with aspirations for a higher grade. In this sense, it’s on par with one of my favorite guilty pleasure films, The Core. The Core is massively silly, but you always get the idea that the cast and crew knew it and were just having a good time. Such is not the case with A Sound of Thunder, wherein cast and crew just lumber along. It never becomes fun. The term “leaden” thuds to mind.The fi…

Go, Speed Racer, Gooooooo!

Newly released on DVD, freshly available from Netflix, now overtaxing my ancient television, Speed Racer. At first glance this is an odd film for the Wachowski Brothers to pick as their follow-up to their Matrix trilogy. However, even a cursory look at those films would reveal a certain love not just for Japanese martial arts, but for Japanese animation (anime).So here he comes, here comes Speed Racer, a film which attempts to be wholly original by taking a cartoon world and turning it into a flesh and blood spectacle. You say this has been tried before, but never to this extent. Most comic-to-film adaptations make some concession, or concessions, to reality. An easy example is Batman. Take a look at the comic Batman’s costume and compare it to any of the big-screen adaptations. From ninja tights to armored suit, which is stupid (as Moviebobvery aptly pointed out).Speed Racer, the film, makes no concessions. This is anime brought to life. Everything is bright and garish, every scene p…

Tune Wars

I’m a picky bastard. I want it all. I want clean desktop software that connects seamlessly with a feature-rich portable media player (PMP). For years, this has meant there was precisely one choice: the Apple iPod. This is no longer the case because the mandatory iTunes desktop software stopped being “clean” while the iPod product line – with the very notable exception of the Touch – has stagnated.For purposes of this discussion, let us temporarily put aside two things. First, the iPod Touch. Second, the size of the iTunes music library. I’ll bring them back later, promise. And for purposes of clarification, my current PMP is a refurbished SanDisk Sansa 4GB flash player. I want to upgrade.I’m approaching this a little differently than most might. All of the players on the market are, for the most part, interchangeable. They play mp3’s. Yes, there are other formats, but the mp3 is the universal. The user interfaces are similar; one is better in one regard, worse in another. In addition …

DVD: The Descent

While waiting for the fourth disk of season 4 of House to arrive, I watched The Descent. This movie has been out on DVD for a while, so why bring it up now?Because I think I might become a fan of its writer-director, Neil Marshall. His latest is Doomsday, recently released on DVD, and while it’s sort of a mess, it’s a mess in that oh-fun-what-the-heck-let’s-shoot-a-Bentley-through-a-bus sort of way.The Descent is a different sort of animal. Prepare for spoilers. Since this film has been out for a while, I’m going to feel free to reveal.The setup is simple: Six friends go spelunking, complications ensue. Basic complications involve Sarah and Juno. Sarah is an emotional wreck following the rather horrible and tragic deaths of her husband and daughter (this trip is seen as therapy, oh my). Juno is a reckless thrill-seeker who leads an unknowing Sarah and friends into a cave no one has – publicly, at least – ever explored. All goes horribly wrong, of course, leaving the six in the dark, d…

Ah, Camille, a breath of sanity from the left

From Camille Paglia, and I quote:A feminism that cannot admire the bravura under high pressure of the first woman governor of a frontier state isn't worth a warm bucket of spit.Ahem, precisely. Further:Over the Labor Day weekend, with most of the big enchiladas of the major media on vacation, the vacuum was filled with a hallucinatory hurricane in the leftist blogosphere, which unleashed a grotesquely lurid series of allegations, fantasies, half-truths and outright lies about Palin. What a tacky low in American politics -- which has already caused a backlash that could damage Obama's campaign. When liberals come off as childish, raving loonies, the right wing gains. I am still waiting for substantive evidence that Sarah Palin is a dangerous extremist. I am perfectly willing to be convinced, but right now, she seems to be merely an optimistic pragmatist like Ronald Reagan, someone who pays lip service to religious piety without being in the least wedded to it. I don't see h…

Sexist bastards continue to froth

I’m hard-pressed to find any other reason – other than blind, raging, insane hatred – because the assaults on Sarah Palin have been blind, raging, insane, hateful, and, yes, sexist. Those paragons of virtue, the illustrious icons of ivory, The Left, the “progressives”, have led these charges and are downright proud of themselves.It is impossible to imagine any of these investigations if Palin had either been a Democrat or, more to the point, a man. Impossible. No one in the media or on the left questioned Hillary’s ability to raise Chelsea while she was running hither and yon as “co-president” during the 1990’s. The same have been strangely silent about John Edwards and his affair, spawning a love child while his wife suffers terminal cancer.(And speaking of Edwards, no one on the left questioned his competency to be vice president even though his entire political experience at the time were the few years (three?) he served in the Senate before opting to run for president and then vic…

Budget, we don't need no stinkin' budget!

My clock says it's just shy of September 3, 2008, and by the time this posts that day may have come.California is still without a state budget. They won't even talk to each other this week. Wrangling over the budget kept most of the Democrats trapped in the state, unable to attend their convention last week. No doubt they are making sure that their Republican rivals are equally trapped this week.Meanwhile, no budget. They're not even talking about it, as though they have more important things to do.State law says the Controller can't spend any money without a budget. Case law says the same, except for payments mandated by Federal law.So meanwhile, no budget.Just saying.

My world suddenly brightened...

I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because she’s a former beauty pageant contestant. Maybe it’s because she likes guns and hunts. Maybe it’s because she not only challenged the Republican establishment in Alaska, but she won. Big. Maybe it’s because she knew her fifth child would be born with Downs syndrome and had him anyway.Oh, and maybe it’s because she’s a redhead and she’s hot. Sorry, call me petty and shallow, but if women can swoon over Obama, I’m allowed to swoon over Sarah Palin.I am laughing my ass off listening to Democrat, liberal, and progressive pundits trying to hack at her lack of experience. Are they really so oblivious to the fact that all such accusations apply even more so to The One? Someone actually remarked that she’s even less experienced than Obama, effectively acknowledging how inexperienced he is.There are a couple of key differences, however. The first should be obvious to anyone with a pulse: Palin’s not running for president, Obama is. She may, indeed, b…

My parents would weep

They were life-long, devoted Democrats. Either would prefer to be skinned alive then ever cast a vote for someone with an (R) next to their name. My father once said that Ronald Reagan, as governor of California, was Satan on earth. My mother espoused burning bras, bombing banks, and putting reactionaries up against the wall. There's no doubt they'd vote for Senator Barrack Obama.There's also no doubt they'd be wearing gas masks as they did so, the mere holding of their noses being insufficient.I've been voting in presidential elections since 1976. Never have I seen any party, major or otherwise, put forth a less qualified candidate than The One. Never. He's even worse than Jimmy Carter. The sheer scope of his inexperience is breathtaking, matched only by his colossal ignorance. (Or is that arrogance?)Stupid is defined as "lacking or marked by lack of intellectual acuity".In contrast, ignorance is "the lack of knowledge or education".So I am…

Roe, Casey, and a WtF moment?!?

So I met this bright and intelligent woman, only to discover that she’s a single-issue kind of gal. She’s going to vote Obama because electing McCain would enable Republicans to overturn Roe v. Wade. Sadly, she really believes that’s true, because that's what her degree in, I kid you not, the history of women's reproductive rights tells her, and so all other considerations are kicked to the curb.I suspect she’s not alone, especially given that to Progressives the only valid question of any judicial nominee is: “Will you support Roe v. Wade?”The ignorance is nauseating.Quick question: If the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade today, could a woman get an abortion tomorrow?Indisputable answer: Yes. When the Court issued its Roe decision in 1973, the result was that every abortion statute in the nation was erased from the books. If Roe fell tomorrow, the old statutes would not rise from their graves like zombies from Shawn of the Dead. Each and every state legislat…

Just wanted to share, part two....

Ingredients:1.5 oz. Partida Anejo tequila0.75 oz. Partida Agave Nectar0.75 oz. distilled water1 freshly squeezed limeShake all ingredients with ice, serve over ice, "never use salt". I don't, as a rule, so that extra instruction is superfluous.Excellent concoction, well worth trying, especially if you actually like the flavor of agave. To really taste the agave, though, substitute Partida Silver for Anejo.

California dreaming (nightmaring?)

I am a civilian employee with the California Highway Patrol. Because I’ve said that, I am required to say...THIS PAGE CONTAINS PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS AND OPINIONS OF THE AUTHOR. IT DOES NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS, NOR REPRESENT AN OFFICIAL POSITION, OF THE CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL. FURTHER, THE CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL DOES NOT ENDORSE OR APPROVE THE CONTENT OF, NOR IS IT IN ANY MANNER AFFILIATED WITH OR RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONTENT OF THIS WEB SITE.I have to quote that verbatim, uppercase and all, including the poor use of the word "nor" (personal bug of mine). It’s also supposed to be in 12-point font, so please adjust your browsers accordingly.I state where I work not because I want to discuss the CHP but rather, California politics and especially the budget. On July 31, 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger cut my pay to the Federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked for minimum wage, and at that time I had a wife, house, two cars, two kids,…