Saturday, March 26, 2011

This is, by a wide margin, the greatest article I have ever seen.

You in my vast reading audience are well aware of my feelings regarding the state of Tennessee (in two words: They're insane). We could get into why I feel that way, but most of you either know the story, or don't care.

Suffice it to say I have come to depend upon Tennessee to give me periodic examples of that insanity. So when I saw this New York Times headline--

In Tennessee, Grand Plans for a $750 Million Theme Park Raise Great Doubt

--I clicked away with great interest. What I found was a treasure trove of insanity beyond my wildest dreams. The deeper you go, the crazier it gets. To begin:

SPRING HILL, Tenn. — Earlier this month, at a news conference in an empty field on the east side of the city, a man named Dennis W. Peterson announced that he was bringing a theme park to the Tennessee countryside.

People had a few questions: Who was this man? What was his background? Where was he getting the money for all this? What happened to his front teeth? (They were recently lost, he explained to reporters, to a crispy chicken wing at Hooters.)

Already, I love this. A bumpkin would-be theme park owner. But as I promised...there's more...

Michael Dinwiddie, the mayor of Spring Hill, was one of the only people to know about the project, having quietly worked on it with Mr. Peterson for two months. It thrilled him. For a small city like Spring Hill, 45 minutes from Nashville, it was the magic kingdom of economic development.

"Mayor Dinwiddie." The man's name and title is "Mayor Dinwiddie." What is this, an 18th-century children's book?

"Mayor Dinwiddie and the Mystery of the Empty Chair."

"Mayor Dinwiddie and the Ice-Cream Social."

"Mayor Dinwiddie Takes a Wife."

"Mayor Dinwiddie Has Two Mommies." (OK, maybe that last one's not from the 18th century)

We continue:

Still, there was something curious about the whole thing. For one, no one had contacted state authorities about the plans.

Hmmmmm. Yes, that does seem curious. You'd think Mayor Dinwiddie would've thought of that.

Local reporters and bloggers uncovered more oddities, starting with Mr. Peterson’s company, the Big International Group of Entertainment. The company, it was discovered, had its license revoked last year by the State of Nevada. The company’s president, Roger Kidneigh, who did not return messages seeking comment, had declared personal bankruptcy, claiming assets of less than $200,000.

Okay...first of all...just how Pythonesque is that company name? "Mr. Peterson now formed a big international group, which he called, 'The Big International Group." Further:

Reached by phone, the woman listed as the company’s treasurer said she had never actually worked for Big International Group and did not want her name associated with it.

"I don't know them, I tell you! Leave me alone!" Before the cock crows, you will deny the Big International Group three times.

Festival Tennessee was not the company’s only dream. Several music magazines had been discussed, as was a theme park in Las Vegas. There were plans for “The Way of the Unicorn,” an animated movie about an orphan named Sailor — to have been voiced by Michael Jackson — who saves the world with the help of some endangered species.

They fell through.

Pity, that sounds as if it could've been a right winner. I'll bet you Robert Zemickis is still kicking himself (not hard enough for my liking...but that's another post).

Thomas Maierle, who is listed as a former officer of Big International Group, said Festival Tennessee would be different.

“It’s not easy putting something like this together,” said Mr. Maierle, who has something of a troubled record himself but says he still advises Mr. Peterson on business dealings. Asked what his position was with the company now, Mr. Maierle, who is on parole in Michigan for possession of “child sexually abusive material,” said that was “a subjective question.” But he said he had faith in Mr. Peterson.

Follow along with me now: A "Magic Kingdom"-style amusement park, which by definition would attract a largely child clientele, and they also wanted to be in business with Michael Jackson, and one of their former officers is a pervert. Are you beginning to sense why this article simply made my heart sing?

Still something missing, though...

David Anthony, a Nashville lawyer, had heard about Festival Tennessee before just about anyone around here. Last year, he said, a man facing foreclosure on several homes came forward with a promise that a millionaire in Florida was planning to buy three of the homes, at an inflated price of around $7 million. As proof of his financial resources, Mr. Anthony said, the millionaire — Mr. Peterson, as it turned out — sent the man a packet of material about vaguely planned projects, including Festival Tennessee and the “Unicorn” movie, with promises that the money would come later.

“These were magic beans,” Mr. Anthony said. The bank he represented in the case was unmoved.

That's it! Magic beans!

But of course, you know, not all the lawmakers of this Tennessee town can be such credulous fools.

This sort of thing gives pause to many Spring Hill residents, including Jonathan Duda, a city alderman. Mr. Duda said he had the same concerns now as he did last year when a man identifying himself as a Nigerian king — a claim viewed skeptically by everyone from the State Department to the Spring Hill police chief — was received with a ceremony on the steps of City Hall.

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, I mean err um, see?

(He didn't even have to do it through Cyberspace, for god's sake...)

Finally, to return to our hero, Mayor Dinwiddie...

“It should be a very positive story,” Mr. Dinwiddie said in an interview at the Cracker Barrel, where the hostess urged him to ignore all the negativity and asked if her daughter-in-law’s Irish dance troupe could get a show at the theme park.

"In an interview at the Cracker Barrel."

I just love any article that can justifiably use that phrase.

Wave comes in, wave goes out. Never a miscommunication.

In April 1997, Anne Leibovitz shot one of her series of three page cover foldouts for Vanity Fair featuring a group of young actresses who were considered, at the time, "The Next Wave." For no particular reason, I thought it might be fun to see what those actresses are doing today.

From left to right:

Cameron Diaz. Diaz is at least as well known today for who she's dating, but is still considered a big star, in spite of not having made a well-reviewed film in years.

Kate Winslet. Stars in HBO's series remake of Mildred Pierce for which, I'm going to make a prediction without having seen a foot of film, she will almost certainly bring her a nomination for and/or win her an Emmy. Has also become something of a godmother to younger actresses, particularly on the subject of whether or not they should go nude for a film; she tends to be quite pro-strip. For which I am thankful.

Claire Danes. Still considered a beauty, though I find her considerably lacking in charm, and can still be seen at "Hollywood elite" events. Best remembered for a TV series she made when she was 15.

Renée Zellweger. Like Diaz, her social life seems to make most of the headlines these days...and has an even bigger need for a shit detector when choosing projects.

Minnie Driver. Driver is working the indie-film circuit; filming a pilot for CBS. Was allegedly so disliked by the crew of her film High Water that they took the opportunity to relieve themselves prior to her having to film an in-the-water scene.

Alison Elliott. If your response is "Who?" You're not alone. In 1996 she attracted attention as the lead in The Spitfire Grill, which seems to have developed a cult following. Since then, however, she seems to have made a series of films most of which either nobody wanted to see, nobody liked, or both. It is unclear whether this is due to poor choices or just plain bad luck, but I'm inclined to suspect the latter, if only because she probably has fewer choices than Diaz and Zellweger.

Jada Pinkett. At present best known as the mother of Willow and Jaden and wife of Will Smith, also stars in and exec-produces the TNT series Hawthorne, which from the one episode I saw last year is actually pretty solid.

Jennifer Lopez. American Idol judge, diva, still a popular singer, launching a new fragrance. Probably fair to admit, she's aging better than I might've thought.

Charlize Theron. Will appear in new Snow White movie; a sexy & photogenic young woman.

and Fairuza Balk. In some ways has it even worse than Claire Danes, in that she's best remembered for a film she made when she was 11, and which film (Return To Oz) absolutely died at the box office when it was first released, tho it has a cult following today. Seems to get a lot of "girlfriend" roles, playing Adam Sander's in The Waterboy and Moby's in the video for "Natural Blues." Appeared in the Sundance-winning Personal Velocity.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"...if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did - you will become an agent of evil."

From a Time magazine article on what our intervention in Libya means for President Obama's foreign policy:

In his two years in office, Obama's approach to foreign policy has emphasized the limits of American power more than its reach.

This is probably an obvious question to ask, but is it possible his approach appears that way because the last president overreached to such a horrific degree?

Oh, and why the Yoda quote? Because:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Is Luke Skywalker
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Thank you, Keith

The greatest defense of our way of life and our democracy is not vigilance nor protest nor political skill, but the rampant and always-to-be-relied-upon stupidity and avarice of the Republican Party.

Keith Olbermann

"Everyone," Victoria?

Everyone knows that two men on a wedding cake is a comedy skit, not an 'alternate lifestyle'!
-Victoria Jackson

A poll released by Washington Post and ABC News concludes that 53 percent of Americans are supportive of gay marriage and equal rights for homosexuals in the US.

PS: Later that same article, Jackson says,
"Did you see 'Glee' this week? Sickening! And, besides shoving the gay thing down our throats, they made a mockery of Christians – again!

Believe me, Victoria: No one wants to shove anything down your throat. And "Glee" doesn't have to make mockery. "Christians" like you are doing that themselves.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Psst! Former Mayor Giuliani! You're sliming the wrong president!

From Mediaite:

In a non-campaign stop for the 2012 presidential race, former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-9/11) lashed out at President Obama for “dithering” (or engineering a UN-led no-fly zone over Libya, instead of overcommitting the US military to another Middle East quagmire. Tomato, tomahto.), and mocked the President’s manner of speech with a stuttering impression.
From The Associated Press:

Speaking at a Manchester Republican Committee fundraiser, Giuliani said he hasn’t decided yet whether he will again seek the GOP nomination. But he sounded a lot like a candidate, calling Obama’s handling of the uprising in Libya in the last week the worst foreign policy-decision making – or lack thereof – he’s ever seen.

When France proposed instituting a no-fly zone, “Our president, the leader of the free world, said, ‘A what? That’s hard! A no fly zone is r-r-r-really hard!’ ” Giuliani said to laughter.

That's the way most sites are reporting this, focusing on Giuliani saying President Obama was Colin Firth in The Kings Speech or sumthin'. But I noticed something else. A president blubbering about how hard his job is, while stumbling over his words?

That reminds me of what was it?

Oh, that's right...

I think we'd all feel better about this if we hadn't spent so much life and treasure on Iraq, but...

For what it's worth, I think I agree with our intervening in Libya. Certainly the reasons for it make a lot more sense to me than our invading Iraq did, even back before we learned all we have about Bush & Co's lies.

Yes, we have our own problems. But I think I agree with this intervention because, when I think of my country sending people to risk their lives in the name of all of us...this is what I want them to be doing it for.

One of the many faults with the Iraq war, as I have come to see i,t is that we couldn't spark a rebellion at the point of a gun. In the case of Libya, the rebellion has clearly already been sparked...and not by us.

What we're doing, and fortunately we're not alone, is going in to stop a rebellion from being violently quashed. That's what we should be doing, I think (this puts me in a minority, BTW). I look at it this way:

You're walking along and across the street you see a man and woman fighting outside a cafe. From what you can hear, she's leaving him. She gets up from the table and starts to walk away. Whereupon, he says "Oh no you don't," grabs her from behind and smashes her head onto the sidewalk.

Do you go over and try to stop it? I sure hope I would.