Saturday, July 23, 2005

A random glimpse into the lives of others

A site that lists the last 50 images posted to livejournal. Found via Pandagon, where Amanda notes:

It's addictive because you spend all your time wondering what this picture is about.

She's right, it is addictive. It's also damned educational. For example, here are a couple of things I've already learned from the site:

  • Teenage girls really like taking pictures of themselves and their friends.
  • There's a lot of narcissistic fuckers out there, teenage girl or not.

The site is voyeuristic, fun...and leaves you feeling vaguely dirty. What more do you want on a Saturday afternoon?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Well, at least he has a sense of humor about it

Crooks and Liars unearthed a photograph from June 2003 of Karl Rove and Robert Novak standing together at a party.

At the event a number of people [including Rove, who is pictured wearing his] wore buttons reading, "I'm a source, not a target."

This brings to mind two things, the first of which is the headline of this post. The second is...Republicans are really, really unattractive people. I mean seriously, look at this picture and then compare it to oh, say, I don't know...this photo of eight Democrats, chosen completely at random.

A big day for Egalia

Her blog made the Washington Post. First line, too, of a pretty good story about how bloggers are responding to the nominaton of Roberts. But let the clicker beware! When I first tried to call up the story, I was greeted by an ad featuring a fullscreen shot of that big weasel, Tucker Carlson.

That's a terrible thing to inflict on someone before 10 o'clock in the morning.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Oh, good. Now Michael Medved is involved.

Medved is a right-wing former film critic (saw Tomcats just a few seats down from him, myself) and author turned family-values hack. He appeared about a week ago on Larry King and stated the right-wing "talking point" that Valerie Plame deserved no protection because after all, the CIA wasn't doing much to give her any:

"And let's be honest about this. Mrs. Plame, Mrs. Wilson, had a desk job at Langley. She went back and forth every single day."

There are those who are offended by statements like these. Like, say, the 11 former CIA agents who signed this letter explaining logically why Medved's thinking (and the thinking of those like him) is screwed.

Now, I don't know who you're more inclined to trust in a case like this, but...

Speaking of questions I want to ask

Jesse Taylor has a good one for Roberts.

Burton Returns

Letters, oh we get letters...

My friend Corey Klemow sent a note querying me on this sentence from my earlier entry on Tim Burton (and other so-called artists of whom I'm less than fond):

And I'm sorry, anyone who makes Mars Attacks! and Planet of the Apes and the Batman movies and Edward Scissorhands doesn't get to play the artist card for a long, long time.

Corey writes:

How does "Edward Scissorhands" fit into that list... ? All the others are based on licensed properties; "Edward Scissorhands" is an original tale.

Which I suppose is a fair cop; Corey's caught me out there. He also likes the movie wholeheartedly. I don't, which is why I included it. I think it's a Tim Burton movie. Which means, as somebody sharp once observed:

Having started out as an animator, he knows how to make pretty moving pictures. But being able to make pretty moving pictures is not the same as being able to make pretty moving pictures, if you take the point...To move us, a film must engage us, and that means that at some point, a film must give us humanity, even if the characters are not human. Make that especially if the characters are not human.

Corey also rises in defense of "Big Fish," which he thinks was [Burton's]

best film ever, with his excesses reigned in and a very real emotional undercurrent.

Maybe. I'll admit I haven't seen it. By the time it came out, the ship had already sailed for me as far as Burton was concerned. However, I should have said a few words about Ed Wood, which I think is Burton's best film ever (of those I've seen, of course).

Why? Well I'm always going to think it's because he was working from an actual...what's it called...script.

(An interesting aside: The screenplay was written by Larry Karaszewski & Scott Alexander. According to the IMDB, Karaszewski is currently working on research for a film about the Marx brothers. Considering that he & Alexander went on to write Man on the Moon and The People vs. Larry Flynt, I hope there's action on this)

Anyway, I should have cited it as an exception to my generally low opinion of Burton's work. I also should have posted the question I most want to ask Burton: What is his deal with casting nominally brunette actresses opposite Johnny Depp and making them into blondes?

Uncharacteristically kind words about Tennessee

As most of you reading this know, I have certain "issues" with the state of Tennessee, god's gift to the collector of human oddity. For those of you who don't know, these stem almost wholly from my experiences with the Tennessee Stage Company.

This group produced my play The Girl in the Boat in 2003, and thanks to some diva actors and an amateur director, screwed it up all to hell. In these things, I take as my role model Sweeney Todd: He never forgets and he never forgives.

Hence, on occasion, I've been known to be a tad knee-jerk, some might even say blanket judgemental, in my remarks about the state. However, when I can, I do like to acknowledge the one or two good things (apart from the music) that have come out of the duck-humping, racist, rock-stupid, anti-sex, hillbilly, legalized wife-raping...sorry.

Anyway, one of those good things is bloggers, specifically female bloggers. I've linked to the Tennessee Guerilla Women many times, both here and on the old blog. Today they led me to a new (to me) blog called Tiny Cat Pants where I found this saddening, but probably not totally inaccurate, monologue headlined It Starts When You're Always Afraid:

This brings me to the second (the first being that our very bodily incarnation is seen, rhetorically, as some kind of appropriate insult), but closely intertwined way we live lives very different from yours: We don't trust you. We trust particular individuals of you, more or less, but in general, we don't trust you not to hurt us.

Here's why. You've raped or almost raped one in six of us and two-thirds of us knew you when you did it. When we love you, we have a one in three chance that you're going to beat us up at least once.

Another good blogger with the misfortune to live in Tennessee (Knoxville, yet) is hanging up his spurs, so I suppose it's good to know women like these have it covered.

I think it's just about time for another rousing game of...

Who Said It?

Specifically, who made the following remarks at CIA headquarters?

Whether you work in Langley or a faraway nation, whether your tasks are in operations or analysis sections, it is upon your intellect and integrity, your wit and intuition that the fate of freedom rests for millions of your countrymen and for many millions more all around the globe. …

Like those who are part of any silent service, your sacrifices are sometimes unappreciated; your work is sometimes misunderstood. Because you’re professionals, you understand and accept this. But because you’re human and because you deal daily in the dangers that confront this nation, you must sometimes question whether some of your countrymen appreciate the value of your accomplishments, the sacrifices you make, the dangers you confront, the importance of the warnings that you issue.

Now, Who said it?

From the cartoon to the comic book super-villainy

1.Click to read fine print.

2. This guy is a disgrace to the forces of evil. Seriously. Somewhere, Dr. Doom and The Scarecrow are going "Dude! Even we had more honor and class than that!"

To mark the passing

I've just learned that Frances Langford died a little over a week ago. Being born some 25 years after the end of WWII, but a fan of old radio, I know Langford best from her performances on Bob Hope's radio show and especially The Bickersons. This was a series of sketches she did with Don Ameche in which they played, in a way, the grandparents of Peggy and Al Bundy, only a lot wittier. She had a terrific way with a comedy line.

My favorite story about her takes place one night when she was performing for American soldiers with one of Bob Hope's USO tours during the Second World War.

So the story goes, she had just started to sing her trademark song:

"I'm in the mood...for love..."

--when a soldier in the audience stood up and yelled "You've come to the right place, honey!"

And James Doohan, "Scotty" of "Star Trek", is dead at 85. There was a time when I was a child when if you'd asked me who my favorite "Star Trek" character was, I would have said Scotty. I couldn't have told you why, I think I just decided I needed a favorite and there he was.

As I got older and moved on to the glories of the Spock/McCoy/Kirk triumverate, I still retained an affection for the man. Like most of the cast apart from the lead trio, he only rarely had a chance to show any chops, but when he did, he did well by them.

I've read his autobiography, co-written with Peter David, and some of his military service during WWII was truly impressive; he was wounded during the D-Day invasion of Normandy and lost a finger in battle.

I don't know what else to say because I'm trying to avoid the cliche or bad taste of saying either of the two obvious catch phrases. I enjoyed his work, and he seemed like a nice man. I guess that says it all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

These are a few of my favorite flicks

Bill, that Pop Culture Gadabout, has tossed down the gauntlet of movie meme. And since I recently gave you a little play on what I don't like about movies of today...

...I thought it might be a cheery thing to do to list some of the movies of which I do think fondly. Meaningless defining rule: I'm speaking not necessarily of Great Works Of Film As Literature, but to those perennials that have stood the test of time for me personally.

But first, in Bill's words, the following disclaimer:

Of course, this list'll most likely change in my mind tomorrow, but for now it'll do.

Now then. Wendy, is the water warm enough? Shall we begin?


Broadcast News. One of the most influential movies on what, if you squint, you could call my style.

Radio Days. Almost the only Woody Allen film I actually like, but I do like it a lot.

Aliens. I still think I think a reason the last two Aliens movies didn't work is because they killed Newt at the beginning of the third one.

The Big Chill. As a rule, I hate boomers, and yet I love this movie. Go figure.

The World According To Garp. No, not just for the "good parts."


The Hunt For Red October. "No, you don't understand. I'm Sean Connery. I don't learn Russian, you hire a scottish crew, so I blend in."
(Still my favorite Rick Overton line)

Silence of the Lambs. It's amazing what a bang-up script can do to make art out of horror.

The Fisher King. Screw Good Will Hunting. Williams deserved the Oscar for this.

Groundhog Day. Besides just being a great comedy, it was the first Bill Murray movie where you buy the romance. I was going to say "the only," till I remembered Lost In Translation.

The American President. My first Sorkin. Blow to the target, blame Cupid, Cupid...

Leaving Las Vegas. That beautiful soundtrack. Elizabeth Shue. Do I have to go on?

The Usual Suspects. It's not just what it's about. It's the way it is what it's about.

It's My Party. Again, for a lot of things, but I'm trying to keep these short so I'll say for a truly gifted ensemble cast.

Boogie Nights. Point in its favor: It gave us Heather Graham. Point against it: It gave us Heather Graham.

My Best Friend's Wedding. Yeah. I'm so tough...

The Iron Giant. All honor to The Incredibles, but this is Brad Bird's best film.

Early 21st Century:

New Waterford Girl. Absolutely terrific Canadian movie that won praise from critics but was sadly unappreciated by audiences in this country. They run it occasionally on Sundance, but it's worth checking your video store; if this post makes you watch only one film, this should be the one.

The Lord Of The Rings. Yes, all three. I don't have to give reasons, do I?

Finding Nemo. Not just the greatest CGI film ever made, not only one of the greatest animated films ever of the very best films of any kind ever made.

Ice Age. Okay, so this is only about three-quarters as good...but that's still pretty good.

Sideways. If you're a writer, and/or if you read the old blog, you know why.

The Concert For George. Everything you want in a tribute concert.

Ocean's 11. Proof that light all-star fluff doesn't always have to be insultingly painful, or vice versa.

For fucks sake, that's the same age as my nephew

A nice Christian father just beat his son to death because he was afraid the boy might be gay.

The boy was three.

Here's what I've got on Judge Roberts, but let's not rove too far afield

For the one or two of you who actually use my blog as a primary news source (more fools you), here's two or three points that I think are important.

From the Human Rights Campaign:

Judge Roberts has disputed the right to privacy laid out in Roe v. Wade, and urged that the case be overruled. Reversing Roe could undermine fundamental rights to privacy and liberty that are the legal underpinning for the freedom of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Judge Roberts has advocated for prayer in public schools and for weakening the wall between church and state.

From Jeffrey Toobin's book "Too Close To Call," via Digby's Hullabaloo:

The president's first two nominations to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia curcuit --- generally regarded as the stepping-stone to the Supreme Court --- went to Miguel Estrada and John G Roberts Jr., who had played important behind-the scenes roles in the Florida litigation.

(Emphasis mine)

Okay, everybody got that? He's a far-right, partisan hack. Get it? Got it? Good. And now, back to Karl Rove. My, my. He may be in even bigger trouble than we ever dreamed. A little something called lying to the FBI...

Mighty hath fallen

I've long suspected you have to have been a teenager in 1988 to understand just how huge INXS were. But trust me, those Aussie boys were BIG, and Kick and Listen Like Thieves rarely left my walkman. Yes, I know I've just made the equivilent of an eight-track-tape reference in 2005 terms.

And Michael Hutchence? That year, there wasn't a teenager who didn't want to either be or be "with" him (you'll back me up on that, won't you ladies?).

And then the poor dumb bastard went and killed himself.

And now, now it's come to this. A loser reality show.


Well that ought to do it, thanks very much Daryl

Movie beauty Daryl Hannah has turned her back on her acting career to focus on saving the planet.

Y'hear that, folks? Power-mad politicians, an indefensible war that's formented a seemingly-unstoppable insurgency, innocent people held captive and tortured, natural disasters, and a public with no confidence in their leaders.

But hey, the star of Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman and Addams Family Reunion is on the case.

I, for one, feel much better.

Talking about presidential candidates as if they were erectile tissue

Tennessee Guerilla Women comments on a recent poll...

86% of Americans think women are "tough enough to be President of the United States." And 85% have "a willingness to cast a ballot for a well qualified woman presidential candidate."

When the choices are Clinton and Rice, thankfully Hillary Clinton comes out ahead.

Fully 58% say Clinton is 'tough enough,' while only 46% feel that way about Rice.

I'm happy to hear that more people are comfortable with the thought of a woman president than they have been in the past, but can we please reframe the question?

If we're going to use yesteryear's stereotypes to assess a woman's chances at the White House, then how about a little gender fairness in the stereotypes?

Can we please have a poll asking if the male candidates are 'soft enough' not to strut around the world stage in macho dress-up insulting and ostracizing everyone who disagree with them?

Can we please have a poll asking if the male candidates are 'soft enough' to be above making enemies and insulting girls, women and others by calling people names like 'girly-men'...

TGW also links to a Washington Monthly article by Carl M. Cannon, making a compelling case for Hillary's electability. There's also a counterbalancing article by Amy Sullivan. I haven't read it yet, but I've had a lot of love for Sullivan pieces in the past.

Side note: Cannon starts with a vignette about his father, Lou Cannon, the author of several books about Ronald Reagan that are definitive and well-worth reading. I'm not saying that only from a left perspective--Cannon's third book on Reagan was produced in association with the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum, and contains a CD of his speeches. And I'm still recommending it. If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what it.

To coin a phrase...

...who do you have to blow to get someone impeached around here?

from Blah3:

January 2001...

President Bush witnessed the swearing-in of his White House staff Monday and said he expected them to avoid even the appearance of impropriety and to conduct themselves with humility and civility at all times.

Bush warned that he expected his White House staff to meet the highest ethical standards, avoiding not only violations of law, but even the appearance of impropriety.

I repeat: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

It's beautiful. It's just so beautiful.

New ABC poll, from Atrios via John at Americablog:

Just a quarter of Americans think the White House is fully cooperating in the federal investigation of the leak of a CIA operative's identity, a number that's declined sharply since the investigation began. And three-quarters say that if presidential adviser Karl Rove was responsible for leaking classified information, it should cost him his job.

Skepticism about the administration's cooperation has jumped. As the initial investigation began in September 2003, nearly half the public, 47 percent, believed the White House was fully cooperating. That fell to 39 percent a few weeks later, and it's lower still, 25 percent, in this new ABC News poll.

So long, sucker.

ETA: Taegan at Political Wire adds a little more analysis.

Ron Brownstein noted this morning that Republicans "lined up last week to defend Rove as if they were constructing a human shield." Based on this poll, that's a trend unlikely to continue.

You know, when I think of the republicans, I think of their remarkable political courage. They're not ones to put power before principles, or anything like that. Not at all.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Some evenings you just feel more isolated from your culture than others

I do, anyway. And tonight, looking at the list of the top films at the box office, is one of those evenings. In the top 25, there is only one that I might even consider going to see, Happy Endings.

I liked Don Roos' The Opposite of Sex a lot, and this one has been getting some good reviews. But I can't shake the feeling based on summaries that I've read and clips that I've seen that it's something of a retread. God knows I'm not one to criticize a man for returning to his basic themes, but...

Moving up the list, we find at #11 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I discussed this at length on the old blog; I guess a lot of people like paying for George Lucas' ranch expansion and his children's college. They're so generous. Me, I would rather have actually been awed and overpowered, but hey, what do I know?

Before moving on to the top two, I want to draw a perhaps-thin distintion. I don't like to see anyone criticise things they don't know about; so I'm going to be trying not to do that in what follows.

What I will be talking about is why, based on what I know about the top two movies at the box office this week, I have no interest in seeing them. And I'll acknowledge up-front that they've both been getting generally good reviews, and it's entirely possible that I'm "wrong."

So: Wedding Crashers. Rolling Stone is comparing its stars to Belushi and Akyroyd. I can''t accept that. Acording to the RT consensus:

Wedding Crashers is both raunchy and sweet, and features top-notch comic performances from Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.

Maybe. But the trailer sure made it look like another one of those sorry, I'm just a dumb guy, can't be blamed for treating women like cattle even if it means tricking a girl into losing her virginity, stories.

And AmericaBlog informs me there is what John calls

a gratuitously homophobic thread running through the movie that's kind of surprising for a movie made in 2005

Now, on to number one. Sigh. I was really hoping Charlie and the Chocolate Factory would be a flop. I think even more than I want Joss Whedon's Firefly movie to be flop, though for related reasons.

Not to go all Catcher in the Rye on y'all, but one of the things that really pushes my buttons--as perhaps many of yours--is hypocrisy. I don't think I would have had quite as negative a reaction to the misogynistic, sexist turns Whedon's series took in their final years, had it not been for the fact that he promotes, and his fans and friends in the press perpetuate, the image of Joss Whedon: Champion of Feminism.

Similarly, perhaps Tim Burton's movies wouldn't be such a pet peeve of mine if it weren't for the fact that his accepted image is that of the fey, pretentious beret-wearing dark visioned, pale-skinned artist goth.

Nonsense. He's a talentless mainstream hack; okay maybe not talentless, but his talents don't extend to storytelling. He makes movies not to tell stories but for McDonald's tie-ins. And I'm sorry, anyone who makes Mars Attacks! and Planet of the Apes and the Batman movies and Edward Scissorhands doesn't get to play the artist card for a long, long time.

That's right, goddamn it

In the New York Times today...

Eric Rudolph, who has confessed to the Atlanta Olympics bombing and three other explosions that killed two and injured 150, received two life sentences today for a fatal abortion clinic blast.

Emily Lyons, the nurse wounded by Eric Rudolph's bomb, told him in court today, "Do I look afraid? You damaged my body, but you did not create the fear you sought."

Judge C. Lynwood Smith of Federal District Court in Birmingham said Mr. Rudolph postured himself "as a superior human being" and compared him to the Nazis, who "sought to eradicate a segment of the population."

Judge Smith is not exaggerating. Mr. Rudolph is a real piece of work.

Under a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid the death penalty for the four bombings, Mr. Rudolph also confessed in April to the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that killed one woman and injured 111 people, and the bombing of a gay and lesbian nightclub and an abortion clinic in Atlanta in 1997.

During the sentencing hearing, Felecia Sanderson, the wife of the slain police officer, said that the bombing destroyed her family by taking away a man who "touched many, many lives."

"My son Nick lost the only father that he ever knew," Ms. Sanderson said. "I never forget the look on my son's face when I told him Sande was gone."

Look at that picture closely, friends--that's the face of evil.

Words and points on Rove and Plame

1. Mark A. R. Kleiman provides links to a column and two profiles on various aspects of and fgures in the Rove/Plame story that first appeared in Newsweek. I recommend them in the order that they appear.

You know, sometimes I wish the kind of people who were inclined to defend Karl Rove's actions on this were the kind of people who read this blog. Because I'd like to ask someone: Can you really look at me with a straight face (virtually speaking) and tell me there's an honest reason his ass doesn't get fired and stay fired?

2. Oliver Willis makes the darndest comparison between the man who won and the man who lost the last presidential election.

3. A friend of Josh Marshall raises an interesting question about the president's new policy. And as TPM also points out a few entries lower, way to set a high standard for the White House, Mr. Bush: No felons on staff.

I'm so proud to be an American sometimes I could throw up.

I have nothing to say about the new Harry Potter book

However, I do enjoy Lindsay Lohan's breasts.


Remember those Iraq Elections? The ones even a lot of critics of the current administration were willing to concede were a heartening glimpse of a potential future, a sign that the seeds of Democracy had, indeed, taken root in a barren land and were well on the way to bearing fruit?

Well, guess what. It's all a bunch of shit.

I'd say, is it any wonder I'm cynical with clowns like this in power, but the truth is, I was cynical long ago...

It's too calm around me and it can't happen here

The FBI reportedly has collected 1200 pages of material on the ACLU alone, and it's been monitoring other legitimate American civil rights and environmental groups, over the past several years, and they've collected it as part of the war on terror, because, apparently, the ACLU has something to do with harboring or fomenting terrorism.

Yeah, pick on an organization filled with teams of lawyers who are the best experts in the country on government officials who pick on organizations illegally.

Lovely, isn't it? Your goverement, ladies and gentlemen.

John A. has more.

ETA: Greenpeace, yet. Somehow I missed that. yeah, sure, I can see the connection. Bin Laden is all about saving the whales.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Denny Crane could get him off

Saddam Hussein has now offically been charged in a criminal case, to wit:

the 1982 massacre of dozens of Shiite villagers in retaliation for a failed assassination attempt against the former leader

Now, you have to wonder, as Hoffmania does:

when in the trial he tells where he got the weaponry to gas the Kurds and Shiites...

You know who I really miss on the national scene? Jimmy Tingle, who as far back as 1995 was satirizing the holes in the arguments of those short-memoried republicans who want to "get" Saddam Hussien.

"We gotta get that Saddam Hussien, he's got chemical weapons."
"How do you know?"
"We sold them to him."

Now that's a review

Rick Santorum has a new book out called It Takes A Family. It's a sort of snide response to Hillary Rodham Clinton's 1996 book It Takes a Village, you see. I hold no brief for Clinton's book (I haven't read it), but I've got to say I admire ole' "man on dog," who joins Ben Creekmore and Bruce Tinsley in the timeliness sweepstakes.

One Rochelle Riley (cool name, by the way--sounds like a Superman character) has written a review of Santorum's new book, originally for the Detroit Free Press but picked up by other papers as well.

Sometimes, in our pursuit of winning and of being right, we say some stupid things.

That's what happened to Sen. Rick Santorum, who either is gearing up his 2008 presidential campaign and needs to rally his conservative base - or is on drugs.