Saturday, February 11, 2006

Things you only notice after seeing a great film a few times

A year ago or so my buddy Moya (hi Moya, call me) sent me a copy of the Special Edition Iron Giant DVD. I did a little review on the old blog that I also posted to Amazon.

I already loved the picture (and got off on the widesreen digital transfer) but the bonus features were truly spectacular for an animation fan.

That's "animation," not "anime," pls. note.

At the time, I watched the feature-length commentary, deleted scenes and such right away, but decided not to watch the "branching mini-documentary" version yet. I didn't want to reach a saturation point with a film that I like so much (I still tear up a little at the end).

So today I finally got around to it.

The "mini-documentaries" are as lovely as anything else on the disc. I especially liked hearing from composer Michael Kamen, now sadly deceased. Kamen scored Brazil, the Die Hard movies, Mr. Holland's Opus, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (with lyrics by Eric Idle) and the Lethal Weapon movies (with Clapton & Sanborn).

Looking like a cross between Billy Connolly and Peter Jackson, by most accounts (especially in books about the two Gilliam films) he was a genuine character. A studio minion for Columbia once insisted upon their keeping more than half of the monies he had secured to record the Munchausen score.
"If you saw the size of our payrolls, you'd understand our position." Kamen reached into his pocket and flung a few dollar bills and some change on the desk. "Pardon me," he said, turning to leave. "I didn't know things were that bad."
-Losing the Light, Andrew Yule

It's enriching to hear him talk a little about how he approached a score.

Oh, and one other thing. Near the start of the movie, the title character's crash landing in the sea nearly causes the capsizing of a boat.

The boat's name? The Annabelle.

Things you only notice after seeing a great film a few times.

This is really, really, really funny

Your Candy Heart Says "First Kiss"

You're a true romantic who brings an innocent hope to each new relationship.
You see the good in every person you date, and you relish each step of falling in love.

Your ideal Valentine's Day date: a romantic dinner your sweetie cooks for you

Your flirting style: friendly and sweet

What turns you off: cynics who don't believe in romance

Why you're hot: you always keep the romance alive

That's right-she is dangerous

Consider the problem of Gwyneth Paltrow. I've maintained for a while that she is not only not as good an actress as her mother, Blythe Danner, she is also not as hot. I'll admit she has had moments as an actress; I didn't like Shakespeare In Love quite as much as most people seem to have but I thought she was fine in it.

And I thought she provided some of the only genuinely touching moments in a film I mostly disliked, Alan Cumming & Jennifer Jason Leigh's actor circle-jerk The Anniversary Party.

(BTW, quick side-note having nothing to do with Ms. Paltrow whatever. I recently saw Bubble, Steven Soderbergh's non-actor starring, almost unwritten, experimental suspense film, on DVD. It works. For the first time in my experience, a film with, apparently, almost totally improvised dialogue worked for me. Why? I think because unlike movies like The Anniversary Party, this one wasn't cast with actors looking for an excuse to emote.)

And now back to Gwyneth. In interviews and such, she's come across as a perfectly nice person with a healthy dose of perspective. I support her decision to step away from Hollywood, at least for a bit, to focus on her daughter and forthcoming second child. I kinda wish she'd stop telling me she's stepping away from Hollywood to focus on her daughter, etc, but whatareyougonnado?

And then, then she goes and does something like this.
Gwyneth Paltrow has vowed not to make a big Hollywood movie - because they're "terrible".

Gwyneth, who is expecting her second baby with husband Chris Martin, said:

"Hollywood films these days are just so bad. They used to be kind of good like 'Top Gun' or something, but now they're just terrible.

She also doesn't think Americans are the smartest bunch in the world.

"Brits are far more intelligent and civilised than Americans. I love the fact that you can hail a taxi and just pick up your pram and put in the back of the cab without having to collape it. I love the parks and places I go for dinner and my friends. It's a pretty city, you know."

They used to be kind of good like 'Top Gun' or something.

Oh, it hurts...

Justin Timberlake is a hard, hard man

Really. Honest and for true. This is why in his forthcoming movie he plays "a drug dealer who became one of the youngest men ever to be on the FBI's most wanted list." For the part, he's been decked out with temporary tattoos all over his arms and torso, including one or two in Chinese characters.

What do the Chinese characters on the arm of this hard, hard man have to say?

Two words.

Ice skating

Hard, hard man.

Being married to Steven Seagal can do that to you

Kelly LeBrock, model, actress (Woman in Red, Weird Science) and, let's face it, a big part of the reason why I wear glasses, says she "doesn't have much sex drive."

And speaking of cartoons

Okay, the Danish cartoons thing

FWIW, and it probably ain't worth that much, here's the most sane thing I've seen yet on the issue. Fittingly, perhaps, it comes not from a Bush administration mouthpiece, or a knee-jerk "First Amendmenter" or from either side of the "blogosphere."

It comes from Doonesbury cartoonist G.B. Trudeau, who knows something about inflammatory cartoons, when asked about it by the San Francisco Chronicle:
Why has the U.S. news media (broadcast and print), almost universally refused to publish the cartoons?

I assume because they believe, correctly, it is unnecessarily inflammatory. It's legal to run them, but is it wise? The Danish editor who started all this actually recruited cartoonists to draw offensive cartoons (some of those he invited declined). And why did he do it? To demonstrate that in a Western liberal society he could. Well, we already knew that. Some victory for freedom of expression. An editor who deliberately sets out to provoke or hurt people because he's worried about "self-censorship" is not an editor I'd care to work for.


Is there an echo?

If you mean a personal echo, not really. I have 600 client editors, and I don't for a moment expect them all on any given day to judge my work suitable for their wildly different audiences. We have editors for a reason. Just because a society has almost unlimited freedom of expression doesn't mean we should ever stop thinking about its consequences in the real world. If The New York Times had commissioned a dozen vicious, anti-Semitic cartoons, would we be having a comparable debate? I don't think so.

More in the link above.

Irony, some call it

Via Rising Hegemon:
Ken Starr, caught lying and trying to suborn perjury!

Lawyers for a death row inmate, including former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr, sent fake letters from jurors asking California’s governor to spare the man’s life, prosecutors said Friday.

Lying and suborning perjury is what Starr accused Clinton of, and what the whole impeachment "supposedly" was based upon, for those of you who had tried to erase it from your memories.

Friday, February 10, 2006


More good news for the soldiers Washington D.C. sent to war essentially on a bet. From Bob Geiger:
...up to one-third of Iraq war Veterans will suffer from some degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

120,000 soldiers have sought health care, and...31 percent of them are being reviewed for possible mental health disorders, with the prevailing diagnosis being PTSD. A big difference from previous that 13 percent of those soldiers are women.

PTSD, which commonly arises from prolonged exposure to combat and the ongoing threat of death or serious injury, is characterized by recurrent thoughts of trauma, reduced involvement in work or outside interests, hyper alertness, anxiety and irritability. Alcoholism and drug abuse are also common among Veterans suffering from PTSD.

...the Iraq war will create a whole new generation of mental health problems in America due to the unique conditions of this war – including that much of the conflict in Iraq, particularly since George W. Bush made his false claim that major combat operations had ended, has involved guerilla warfare and terrorist actions from ambiguous and unknown civilian threats.

They look like such big, strong hands, don't they?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeah

On the other hand, every once in a while there is encouraging political news in this country. Last week, when Bush gave the State of the Union addess, I saw one or two talking heads saying it would no doubt give him a bounce in the polls.

This is so usual for Presidents at SotU time that the pundits authoritatively asserted it, as a coming fact. They didn't say it probably would happen, or that it happened for most Presidents, they said it would happen.

Well, guess what. Apparently, not so much. Via AmericaBlog:

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 1-5 among 1,502 Americans, finds that President Bush received no bounce from his Jan. 31 State of the Union address. Bush's approval rating stands at 40% ­ largely unchanged over the past month.


Veronica Mars really, really needs new viewers

And it looks like they're stooping to exploiting Kristen Bell's undeniable hotness to get them. Well, that's just fine. Up until about three episodes ago, I would have blogged here about what a shame it is that such a smartly-written show has to resort to such common-demoninator tactics.

But, and I feel kinda bad saying this here given how much I've badgered you all to recognize the series, the writing on Veronica Mars is spinning out of control. The episodes are starting to seem like time-wasters with characters I don't care about, which is bad enough when they're new, deadly when they're old.

And I note with genuine sorrow that two of the last three episodes have had come jokes early on in their scripts. Goodbye, Ms. Mars, hello, There's Something About Veronica's American Pie.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Post 2,001: A Cute Odyssey

Last month, Bill took note of his 2000th post by ruminating:
Perhaps I should go light and pad this post with vaguely related lyrical quotes

cold and lonely, tired and bored
just like the day before
missing out on life's rewards
of that you can be sure

so bring on the dancing girls
take off the cold night and the sad day
bring on the dancing girls
take off the twilight and the skies so grey

and they dance for him inside his head*

She saw me on the television underneath the sun
Thought that I was warm like a mother, lover, brother
Brother, she was wrong**

Bill also considered:
Perhaps I should make a heavy political statement ("Dear poli-blogosphere: Michael Moore is fat; Jonah Goldberg is fat. Please feel free to say nothing more about this.")? Or simply give a shout-out to my fellow bloggers?

As you of my vast reading audience may have guessed by now, I find politics very depressing these days. Which is why the blog has been taking the turn towards ladies, ladies, ladies. It makes me feel better than linking to another post about how we're heading towards WW3 and there is nothing, not one thing, I can do about it.

Bill finally decided just to run a picture of his dog. I don't have any pictures of my cats I can run, so I decided to just pick a handful of pictures of women, four human, one comic book (plus a dog and a bird) that I find cute as the dickens.

It's my blog, damnit. I hope you enjoyed the first 2000 posts, who knows whether there will be 2000 more...

*Nik Kershaw.
**Tears For Fears.

From the goddess of the Kittens to a dog

You are outgoing Willow. You have really come into your stride and are one with your surroundings. Everyone thinks you are super-cool, but you're a bit worried that they'll figure out you're pretty normal. But you have such potential and a great attitude that you simply don't know your worth.

Wanna see which Willow you are? Take the test!

You scored as Backup (2.0). You seemed to have changed between the first and second episodes, but you are still our favorite badass doggie!

Backup (2.0)


Veronica Mars


Wallace Fennel


Lilly Kane


Keith Mars


Logan Echolls


Duncan Kane




Which Veronica Mars Character Are You?
created with

With some shame, I tell you that I got seven out of twelve

Name that Candybar!

I should be so lucky

You Are a Glazed Donut

Okay, you know that you're plain - and you're cool with that.
You prefer not to let anything distract from your sweetness.
Your appeal is understated yet universal. Everyone dig you.
And in a pinch, you'll probably get eaten.

Isn't this the face of a man you want rifling through your underwear drawer, ladies?

In Wonkette (with thanks to Ian for the link),

[…]George C. Dalmas III, 44, works at the CIA. He has now been charged with 17 burglaries in the McLean area. And in a search of his Falls Church home, police said, they found a stunning trove of cash, jewelry, antiques, license plates — and bags filled with more than 1,000 women’s undergarments.

So close

Here's the latest Democrat's attempt to, in the vernacular, "grow a pair." Senator Russ Feingold made a statement on the Senate floor yesterday "on the President’s Warrantless Wiretapping Program."

He began:
The President was blunt. He said that he had authorized the NSA’s domestic spying program, and he made a number of misleading arguments to defend himself. His words got rousing applause from Republicans, and even some Democrats.

The President was blunt, so I will be blunt: This program is breaking the law, and this President is breaking the law. Not only that, he is misleading the American people in his efforts to justify this program.

(Emphasis mine)

And so on. He went on to mention "misleading" or "mislead" at least three more times in this or other contexts. So close. The word you're looking for, Senator Feingold, is lying. Or lie. That's right, I'm back on this hobby horse again.

I don't know much about Senator Feingold. I gather that he is a liberal Democrat, and I do know he's an advocate of campaign finance reform. He's also expected to run for President in 2008. Bob Geiger says he's
a man who, as much as I deplore talking about 2008 with bigger fish to fry in 2006, is sounding very much like my idea of a presidential candidate.

And there's at least a couple of other Democratic bloggers who agree with him. Me, I say I'll have found someone who sounds like a candidate when I see him or her point at George W. Bush (literally or figuratively) and say, liar.

Till then, "misled" is just my favorite Kool And The Gang song.

It's a scream, baby

So there's a bit of a ta-do about some things a Rev. Lowery said while speaking at Coretta Scott King's funeral. It seems that, in front of an audience that included Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush and Carter, he saw fit to make some remarks.

Remarks that some may have interpreted as critical of Bush the current:
"How marvelous that presidents and governors have come to mourn and praise," he said. "But in the morning, will words become deeds that meet needs?"

"We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there,” said Lowery to a thunderous and prolonged standing ovation. “But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."
As you can well imagine, Bush supporters are appalled at the notion of speaking politically at the funeral of a political activist. At Pam's House Blend, Russ has some good answers to said appalled Bush supporters.

And via Bob Geiger, you can see more excerpts from Lowery's speech, as well as those of Presidents Carter and Clinton.
Former President Jimmy Carter spoke movingly about the work of Mrs. King and her husband, but added that it was far from over.

“The struggle for equal rights is not over. We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, those who were most devastated by Katrina, to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans,” said Carter in obvious reference to Team Bush’s hideous response to Hurricane Katrina.

Carter also used the example of what Martin Luther King and his wife endured to point out the troubled state of our union when it comes to the government illegally spying on American citizens.

"It was difficult for them personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the targets of secret government wiretapping and other surveillance and, as you know, her harassment by the FBI," Carter said, receiving a loud and long ovation.

Speaking of both Coretta Scott King and her slain husband, Former President Bill Clinton professed his admiration for how they took on even the toughest of social challenges.

“They understood that the difficulty of success does not relieve one of the obligation to try,” said Clinton.

(It’s also important to note that Clinton gave his entire talk, without notes, and seemingly off the top of his head. Remember what it was like to have a Rhodes Scholar for our president?)

Made good time

Remember the item yesterday about
the Bush political appointee at the heart of administration efforts to censor NASA scientists...[who] did not actually graduate from Texas A&M University.

Well, that's over. He was fired (technically, he resigned, but...)

Per AmericaBlog.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

As long as I'm being a total pig this afternoon...'s OhNoTheyDidn't's 100 Hottest Women 2006, as voted on by readers of the site. I can find very little fault with such a list that includes:
  • Kate Winslet (in the top 10)
  • Kristen Bell (above Sarah Michelle Gellar)
  • And Lauren Graham (as well as her TV daughter Aexis Bledel)

Quibbles? I'd have put Laura Prepon on the list (at least when she still had the red hair) instead of her former co-star Mila Kunis. And I'd like to have seen Anne Hathaway a little higher than #59.

But whatareyagonnado?

I can't think of a more genteel way to put this...

I am just gonna come.
With award season still under way, Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley are exchanging ballgowns for birthday suits.

Under the artful eye of photographer Annie Leibovitz, the starlets posed nude for the cover of Vanity Fair magazine's yearly Hollywood issue, to be released Wednesday.

Fashion superstar Tom Ford also appears on the cover photo, though he stuck with a more traditional suit — one of black fabric.

Ford, the issue's guest art director, said he hadn't planned on becoming part of his own project, but he stepped in when "Wedding Crashers" star Rachel McAdams, 29, backed out.

"She did want to do it, and then when she was on the set I think she felt uncomfortable, and I didn't want to make anybody feel uncomfortable" Ford said Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

For the cover photo, Knightley, 20, was photographed sitting sideways, with legs and arms carefully placed. The 21-year-old Johansson, draped over Ford's leg, is somewhat more exposed — readers who open the fold-out cover will see her bare buttocks.

No, this isn't worrisome. This isn't worrisome at all.

Bright yellow plastic robots are being employed as security guards at a primary school in Tokyo. So...who's seen Chopping Mall?

For those of you interested

...if I had a few million dollars to spend putting together my own film of My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, these are the actresses to whom I would send scripts: Liza Weil (as Annabel) and Melyssa Ade (as Keitha).

Links in the actresses' names are to their bios. Links in my characters' names are to images that I think show why those two actresses come closer than anyone I've ever seen to the way I see my characters in my head.

Unfortunately, I don't have a few million dollars to spend (if I did, do you think I'd be a liberal?), but a man can wish. Speaking of, if you look over to the right there and click the View my complete profile link you'll find, among other things, a link to my Wish List.

If you'd like to make me feel better...

Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

The Scientific Activist:

George Deutsch, the Bush political appointee at the heart of administration efforts to censor NASA scientists (most notably to prevent James Hansen from speaking out about global warming), did not actually graduate from Texas A&M University.

Monday, February 06, 2006

For those of you who don't already know what every nook and cranny of Sharon Stone's body looks like

...apparently she's all kinds of naked in the forthcoming, and totally necessary, Basic Instinct 2. That's a link to an "uncensored promo reel," so be so advised if you were thinking of clicking on it from the office.

I've no wish to be unkind to Ms. Stone (who is, after all, one of God's creatures and as deserving of compassion as all), but...Basic Instinct 1 was almost 15 years ago. It shows. And it doesn't help that...

Well, say what you will about what we may infer about (Basic Instinct 1 director) Paul Verhoeven's feelings towards women based on his work. Or for that matter, what we may have read about him in Joe Eszterhas' good (seriously!) books. His camera loves them and he knows how to make a woman look...I think the word is "yummy" onscreen. The first movie (separated from the sexist aspects of the screenplay which, frankly, still leave me a little queasy) looked great.

Basic Instinct 2 director Michael Caton-Jones's camera does not love Sharon Stone, and based on the promo reel, it looks a lot like made-for-cable soft-core porn. Not that I've ever seen any.

Hey, but when they impeached Bill Clinton... wasn't because of the sex, or that they just didn't like him. It was because of the lie. Right? Yesterday, John from AmericaBlog jotted down a few things to keep in mind about today's illegal spying senate hearing.

1. Attorney General Gonzales, who will be testifying tomorrow, lied under oath to the US Senate last year about the Bush administration's spying-on-Americans program. Why did he perjure himself then, and why should we trust his testimony now?

2 Can Gonzales and the Bush administration guarantee that their eavesdropping never intentionally or unintentionally captured communications of American political opponents or US journalists?

3. If the Bush administration is so confident that it has the power under the constitution to continue spying on Americans, then will it let the FISA court review its domestic spying program in order to determine if the domestic spying is illegal or unconstitutional?

They're all things I can pretty much guarantee you our Democrat elected leaders won't be asking, because they're still playing the game where you can ever believe anything a Bush appointee says ever.

But hey, just so you know what they could be asking about...