Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Chicken Caesar Review: Johnny Carino's

Johnny Carino's is a new Italian chain in town. They seem to be offering a slightly different atmosphere than Carrabba's and also describe their cooking as "Country Italian". Not knowing what that means, I'll take their word for it and just focus on their salad. Their Grilled Chicken Caesar, which runs $7.49, includes wood-grilled chicken and romaine lettuce tossed in Caesar dressing and topped with roma tomatoes, black olives, red onions, Parmesan cheese & croutons.

Although the description says "Grilled" chicken, Johnny Carino's chicken is similar to Panera's: cooked ahead of time and cold yet still juicy. Furthermore, the chicken in this salad is shredded and spread across the top mixed with Parmesan. This is not a criticism as such, since the chicken is very tasty and complements the salad well, but it is a note of warning to potential diners that there is no grilled flavor to the chicken. Also unusual to the salad are the additional ingredients of roma tomatoes, black olives, and red onions. These ingredients, along with the lettuce, are all fresh and have strong flavors that come across individually. This is helped, in part, by a Caesar/Ranch dressing mixture that is subtle and does not override the other ingredients. Finally, the croutons, although fresh, were few and only rated as adequate.

For such an upper price range restaurant, this is a cheap Chicken Caesar, and very distinctive to boot. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in a nice salad the next time they go Italian.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Tetsuo is down there somewhere.

For many of us, Sci-Fi is a chance to gape at the visions of the future. Though we are impressed by gadgets like the phaser weapons and matter replicators in "Star Trek", we more often drop our jaws at the gigantic space ships and massive cities in the "Star Wars" films. We are wowed by these physically huge works and we try to imagine the manpower, infrastructure and resources required to build such things. Of course, one only need look at the Pyramids of Giza to realize that such things are possible given the drive to do them. And though the Egyptians had coffers of wealth and thousands of slaves at their disposal, We still have the capacity to achieve such feats.

To wit, the G-Cans Project.

I first learned of this through a post on Boing Boing, and later did some research on my own to make sure it was authentic. A summary:

"The G-Cans Project is a massive project, begun 12 years ago, to build infrastructure for preventing overflow of the major rivers and waterways spidering the city (A serious problem for Tokyo during rainy-season and typhoon season). The underground waterway is the largest in the world and sports five 32m diameter, 65m deep concrete containment silos which are connected by 64 kilometers of tunnel sitting 50 meters beneath the surface. The whole system is powered by 14,000 horsepower turbines which can pump 200 tons of water a second into the large outlying Edogawa river."

Have a look at the photo gallery if you have the chance. I look at this and feel like I'm inside an Anime film. And all the time, I'm hearing an echo from the voice of Sidney J. Mussburger at Hudsucker Industries: The Future is Now.

Shell Shocked

Mrs. Mosley and I went out to a new Japanese Steakhouse on Saturday night to see how good it was. The service was a bit on the slow side even for a Saturday night, but the food was very good. We both really enjoy a good Japanese Steakhouse.

The last time we went to one was in August for Mrs. Mosley's birthday. On that evening, we had the bad luck to get a new chef instead of one of the veterans. As a result, his tricks were not as polished as the others. This started off with his inability to hit half of the plates with the shrimp tails, much to the dismay to the two women beside us. He also accidentally mixed up the orders and was putting servings on the wrong plates. But the biggest mistake was during his bouncing/spinning egg trick that he accidentally bounced it...towards Mrs. Mosley.

Props should be given to her on two counts: First, her reflexes are quite good as she immediately reared backwards and managed to get egg only on her skirt. Second, she was incredibly good natured about the whole thing. The end result of the evening was that we got some of our money back, but not all, for the cost of drycleaning and inconvenience (the drycleaner was unable to get the egg out, but he also put holes in one of my shirts so we were getting our fill of incompetence that week).

Ruined dress aside, we went into the new place with some trepidation. We sat down and watched the cook go through his routine and we both noticeably tensed when he whipped out the eggs. Mrs. Mosley's back went rigid and she swayed back and forth as he swung the egg in front of her. This white, centrifugal projectile seemed on the verge of shooting off of the spatula and straight for her forehead. In the end, this cook was more practiced than our last one and we enjoyed our meal, sans yolk splatter.

There are times when we wish we could have the food without (1) the showboating of chefs and (2) the unease of sitting with total strangers. I would add a third reason to this in lieu of our August dinner, but I'll just remain hopeful that our future chefs are not lacking in depth perception.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

And a now for a Very Special Thanksgiving episode

Those of us who have watched enough TV know about the "Very Special" phenomenon for episodes of a series. It's when a comedy gets serious (or a drama gets serious-er) for the sake of (a) sweeps or (b) winning one of the cast an Emmy. Lately, Mrs. Mosley and I have commented that "ER" seems to have a commercial announcing a "Very Special" episode every freaking week, like each one deserved a Nobel Prize or something.

Anyway, many of these episodes take place during the holidays where concepts such as family and giving are at the forefront. Well, for this Thanksgiving, I'd like to recall my favorite one of these. On the sitcom "WKRP", there was one episode where they needed a Thanksgiving promotion for the station. Station Manager Arthur Carlson thought of one and told everyone the time and the place, but left as a surprise what he was going to do. Near the end of the episode, we hear the broadcast of newsman Les Nessman from the sight of the event as he see's something in the sky:

"It's a helicopter, and it's coming this way. It's flying something behind it, I can't quite make it out, it's a large banner and it says, uh - Happy... Thaaaaanksss... giving! ... From ... W ... K ... R... P!! What a sight, ladies and gentlemen! What a sight! No parachutes yet. Can't be skydivers... I can't tell just yet what they are, but - Oh my God, Johnny, they're turkeys!! Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they're plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, the humanity! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Not since the Hindenberg tragedy has there been anything like this!"

And then, of course, there was Carlson's touching last words to his employees when he finally arrived back at the station:

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
Brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it? Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Getting to know your Government

The Japan-US Friendship Commission - i.e. The "We realize that your nation may some day eclipse ours in economic strength so please don't be mad at us for those Atomic bombs we dropped on you and be our friends forever and ever" Commission. Oh, and in case you were wondering, we don't appear to have any "Friendship Commissions" with any other countries.

National Reconnaissance Office - When you think about it, such an agency seems obvious and inevitable. Still, that scary silver medallion gives me the creeps.

United States Mission to the United Nations - "...the United States delegation to the United Nations, along with a staff of more than 100 persons, carries out our nation's participation in the world body." Does it really require a staff of 100 to assist Bush flipping off the UN every six months or so?

Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation - Formerly the "School of the Americas" and the training school for numerous South American dictators. It's been a sore point for the U.S. government for a while now, which is why they changed the name. Here is a group that has been a dedicated watchdog of the SOA/WHINSEC since 1990.

Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (FICMNEW) - Fine. Do you think they could take care of all the crap in my yard?

Chicken Caesar Review: Carrabba's

Carrabba's is, bar none, my favorite Italian Restaurant. Although it's a chain, I am never disappointed by the quality of food there as every single item is an incredible combination of flavors. Given this pedigree, expectations were high for its Chicken Caesar. Their "Insalata Carrabba Caesar", which is a Chicken Caesar by any other name and runs for $9.99, contains fresh Romaine lettuce and crunchy croutons tossed with their own Caesar dressing. This is all topped with shredded Parmesan cheese and grilled chicken.

The dominant ingredient of this particular salad is the dressing. Leaning more towards Ranch than Caesar, there is plenty of it to coat everything and has a significant Asiago cheese taste to it. Although I enjoyed it very much, I could see how some people may be overwhelmed by this. The lettuce is fresh and nicely chopped. The croutons are the same as those used at Outback Steakhouse, which are incredibly crunchy and tasty. The chicken, which is cut into thick strips, has a nice grilled flavor yet not as juicy as I would imagine judging from their other chicken dishes. Finally, if the dressing wasn't enough, then there is an additional generous dose of fresh Parmesan to complete the dish.

For this price range, I think I would actually give the Outback Chicken Caesar a slight edge. Still, it's a great salad whose mix of flavors match the complexity of their other dishes and is an incredible creation in its own right.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Public Service: "Law & Order"

Speaking of George Dzundza...

Huh? Oh yeah, he's the guy who played the Russian tank commander in "The Beast", which I reviewed last week. Anyway, one of his other notable roles was the first season of "Law & Order", a series that Mrs. Mosley and I are admittedly addicted to. We were discussing it over the weekend and I mentioned that since we can't possibly afford to buy all the seasons on DVD, we should choose the season with the best cast and buy that one. After a thirty minute Google search, I couldn't find a fan site or any other site that compressed this particular information into a seasonal breakdown. What to do? Well, do it yourself.

#Police CaptainOlder DetectiveYounger DetectiveDistrict AttorneyExecutive Assistant D.A.Assistant D.A.
1Dan FlorekGeorge Dzundza Chris NothSteven HillMichael Moriarty Richard Brooks
2Dan FlorekPaul SorvinoChris NothSteven HillMichael MoriartyRichard Brooks
3Dan FlorekPaul SorvinoChris NothSteven HillMichael MoriartyRichard Brooks
4S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachChris NothSteven HillMichael MoriartyJill Hennessy
5S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachChris NothSteven HillSam WaterstonJill Hennessy
6S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachBenjamin BrattSteven HillSam WaterstonJill Hennessy
7S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachBenjamin BrattSteven HillSam WaterstonCarey Lowell
8S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachBenjamin BrattSteven HillSam WaterstonCarey Lowell
9S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachBenjamin BrattSteven HillSam WaterstonAngie Harmon
10S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachJesse L. MartinSteven HillSam WaterstonAngie Harmon
11S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachJesse L. MartinDianne WiestSam WaterstonAngie Harmon
12S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachJesse L. MartinDianne WiestSam WaterstonElisabeth Rohm
13S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachJesse L. MartinFred Dalton ThompsonSam WaterstonElisabeth Rohm
14S. Epatha MerkersonJerry OrbachJesse L. MartinFred Dalton ThompsonSam WaterstonElisabeth Rohm
15S. Epatha MerkersonDennis FarinaJesse L. MartinFred Dalton ThompsonSam WaterstonElisabeth Rohm

Of course, Elisabeth Rohm is set to leave in the middle of the 15th season. But until then, let this stand as a handy-dandy reference post. No need to thank me.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Review: "The Beast" (1988)

Most Americans didn't know anything about Afghanistan until we invaded after 9/11. One of the most significant events in the country's history, the Soviet Invasion, has received little attention in Hollywood. "Rambo III" used it as a backdrop while Sylvester Stalone fought the Russians alongside members of the Afghan resistance. You've got to imagine that the film is an awkward experience for Rambo fans these days as the main character and American envoys show future members of the Taliban Militia how to blow stuff up real good. But that's okay, because there does exist at least one other film that took a more serious and sober look at this conflict.

"The Beast" refers to a Soviet T-62 tank that is commanded by Daskal (George Dzundza) and manned by Golikov (Stephen Baldwin), Kaminski (Don Harvey) and Koverchenko (Jason Patric). After they massacre an Afghan village full of peasants, Koverchenko starts to have doubts about his commander's sanity. Eventually, the increasingly paranoid Daskal leaves Koverchenko tied to a rock to die as the tank continues its way back to Russia. Before he bakes to death, he is found by Taj (Steven Bauer) and his band of Afghan rebels. Although his comrades are wary, Taj decides to recruit Koverchenko to help them deliver justice upon this lone tank before it reaches the border.

War films on the whole tend to be very loud and hectic. In the case of films like "Saving Private Ryan", such things are appropriate to the story. "The Beast", however, is more concerned with the building of character and dread: The story of a handful of souls stranded in their own version of Hell. What action there is is exciting, but the film is more concerned with the people on both sides of the conflict. It isn't surprising, then, to discover that the film is based on a stage play by William Mastrosimone ("Extremities"). A war film based on a stage play is pretty much going to have to involve character development, and the translation from stage to screen does it well.

Before writing this review, I went to Amazon to see how many had bothered to review this little known film. Not only were there over fifty sizable reviews posted, but they were unanimously positive. Many were from those in the military and were impressed by the authentic feel and realistic touches that the filmmakers made. I'm read a number of film reviews from movie sites that are run by members of the military, and I can tell you that they are very discerning when it comes to authenticity. That not only includes technical details about equipment and procedure, but also the actions and thoughts of the grunts in the middle of it all.

The actors acquit themselves well. George Dzundza is well cast in the typical gruff "Russian Bear" type role we've seen countless times, with the addition of a dark past. Stephen Baldwin happens to turn in the best performance I've seen from him outside "The Usual Suspects". And then there are the two leads, Steven Bauer and Jason Patric. Both are actors that people are slightly familiar with without really knowing anything about them. After promising starts in big hits during the 1980's (Bauer in "Scarface" and Patric in "The Lost Boys"), their careers never really took off. It's good to see a pair of honest actors really giving it their all to make a film like this work, and they deserve a great deal of credit for the success of the film.

One last aspect of the film that gets a lot of attention in reviews is the handling of accents. In this case, the Afghans speak Arabic with subtitles (Cuban-born Bauer learned his lines phonetically) and the Americans playing the Russians speak English. The decision not to have the American actors attempt accents was for the best, and it's a choice I wish director Kevin Reynolds had stuck with for his following film, "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves". Though all the main characters get by with no inflections, there is a Russian helicopter pilot they run across late in the film that looks and sounds as if he just got off his surfboard. Other than this one anomaly, viewers will be much more focused on what the characters say instead of how they say it.

This is a powerful and enrapturing film. The stunning location work, which was actually shot in parts of Israel, creates a mood that pervades throughout the whole film. If the surroundings they chose to shoot have any resemblance to what our men and women are currently inhabiting in Afghanistan, then they have my sympathies. As our protagonists soon learn, anyone not native to that land learn new meanings to the the word "Inhospitable".

Eight out of Ten

Thursday, November 18, 2004

More Connecticut Yankees than you can shake a boomstick at.

I read the news that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are planning a remake of "The Evil Dead". The fact that there's already a remake (it's called "The Evil Dead II") makes yet another one kind of pointless and perhaps a bit blasphemous for fans of the original. Besides, doesn't Sam and Bruce have a third "Spiderman" movie to work on?

Anyway, the story happened to get me thinking about the third film in the trilogy: "Army of Darkness". For those of you unfamiliar, "Army" continues the story of chainsaw wielding Ash as he continues to fight off the undead, this time in the Dark Ages after he was transported there at the end of "The Evil Dead II". Years later, some movie producers used the same formula of transporting a wise-ass American back in time for laughs as he introduces modern concepts to the primitive screwheads he finds himself with. That movie was "Black Knight" with Martin Lawrence.

What am I getting at here? Take a look at the posters for Army of Darkness and Black Knight.

I'm surprised I didn't notice the similarity before. And it makes sense for a group of people making a similar movie to tap into the audience's subliminal memory of the first one. Still, even though I haven't seen "Black Knight", I would have to recommend "Army of Darkness" over it. No matter how many movies with Will Smith he kicks butt in, Martin can never be the badass that Ash is. Hail to the King, Baby.

You put the lime in the coconut and you drink it all up...and that's it?

Mrs. Mosley's office is having a Thanksgiving breakfast, and she asked me what we should prepare for it. We eventually decided on French Toast Sticks, and I went about online to look for some interesting recipes. My old roommate had a rule which stated that if a dish involved less than three steps to prepare, then it doesn't qualify as "Cooking". In light of this, I'm afraid I have to break it to the Hershey's Chocolate company that (THAW) (HEAT) (SERVE) does not really a recipe make.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

RuPaul vs. Timothy McVeigh

It's hard to know where to begin with this. In addition to the link, I'm providing the entire article for your perusal:

Parent's Homosexuality Worries Get School To End Cross-Dressing Day

POSTED: 7:54 am EST November 17, 2004

SPURGER, Texas -- Boys in the Spurger, Texas, school district won't be wearing dresses Wednesday and girls aren't going to be putting on men's suits.

That after a parent complained about a so-called "cross-dressing" day.

According to the tradition, boys and girls reverse social roles for one day during homecoming week. It lets the older girls invite boys on dates, open doors and pay for sodas. It also calls for guys to dress like girls -- and girls like guys.

However one parent complains the practice has homosexual overtones. School officials call that statement "inflammatory and misleading."

Still, the tradition is being scrapped and the district will hold "Camo Day" instead -- with black boots and Army camouflage to be worn by everyone who wants to participate.
It should be noted that the angered parent and the conservative group she contacted with her concerns are the ones who came up with the name "Cross Dressing Day". The school's actual name of the event is TWIRP ("The Woman Is Requested to Pay") and the main gist of the day is a social reversal of roles. However, by repeating "Cross Dressing Day" ad nauseum, the parent and her conservative allies are hoping it will stick (as it obviously did since it's mentioned in the article title) even when it's something they simply made up.

I also have to note that TWIRP has apparently been done for dozens of homecomings before this with nary a problem. Only now, after an election where the Republican party all but equated toleration of homosexuality with the breaking of the seventh seal, has this become an issue. Not since Roman emperor Justinian declared buggery the cause of earthquakes has a politician convinced a populous that an entirely private matter would ruin civilization.

But this is Texas, after all, so I shouldn't be too shocked. I've come to understand that there are still some people who genuinely still feel uncomfortable with homosexuality. They desire that their government protectors shield them from such acts of deprivation. Like racism, homophobia at large will only go away over a long period of time. I've begrudgingly accepted this, knowing full well that it may not happen in my lifetime. So, given all this, I was ready to let this article pass by with a chuckle.

That is, until I read the last paragraph.

Could they have possibly suggested an alternative that was any farther on the opposite side of the spectrum? Now, I've read comments by members of the military that they find such dressing up disrespectful and physically repulsive, but that's another matter. My point here is that teenagers in these generic costumes do not so much suggest Army soldiers as they do militia or mercenaries. So let's recap: Silly and fun tradition of dressing up as the opposite gender is bad. Dressing up as individuals who blow up federal buildings or kill people for money is good. Should they ban such costumes in school? Hell no. However, all of this does show that what some parents consider to be a healthy alternative to the school's homecoming TWIRP tradition is actually far more disturbing.

Back in 1993, ABC premiered a new cop show called "NYPD Blue". Advance word was that it was a well written and acted police drama. It also slipped out that the show would occasionally feature a swear word and/or very brief nudity. Some ABC affiliates, including the one here in Jacksonville, decided not to air it. This left them with a problem of what to put in it's place for the Tuesday 10pm time slot. Their choice? The syndicated TV series "Robocop". So, in place of the scarring image of David Caruso's pale white hinder, we get a action series based on what was at that time one of the most gory, violent movies ever made. Now, obviously, the TV series was much toned down from the film, but the tendency is still apparent in their choice: Violent subjects and acts are more tolerable than sexual ones.

In all fairness, both "Camo Day" and the costume changes for TWIRP are voluntary. No one at the school is forcing these kids to do either of them. Still, I'd like to think that one day parents wouldn't react to such things in such an extreme way in order to re-enforce what they percieve as their children's fragile masculinity. Perhaps something far more neutral like a "Cowboy Day" would be good, or does that give all you parents bad Village People flashbacks? The horror, the horror.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Movie Quotes: "Gettysburg"

One thing that keeps me from subscribing to NetFlix is the fact that there are quite a few DVD's in the Library's collection that I haven't seen yet, and they can be checked out for free. One title I put a hold on last week came in this morning. It's called "The Lathe of Heaven" and was made for PBS back in 1980. It's considered a Sci-Fi classic and I plan on watching it soon and posting a review, so stay tuned for that.

One other reason I rented it was that it stars an actor named Kevin Conway. Conway only pops up now and then in big Hollywood productions like "Thirteen Days" and "Mystic River", but I remember him most as Sgt. Buster Kilrain in the Civil War epic "Gettysburg". Aside from playing the role extremely well, he also recites one of my favorite film monologues. If you haven't ever seen the film, then you should definitely make the effort. In the meantime, here's the dialogue between Kilrain and Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels):
Chamberlain: "Buster, What do you think of the Negroes?"

Kilrain: "Well, if you mean the race, I don't rightly know. This is not a thing to be ashamed of. The thing is, you cannot judge a race. Any man who judges by the group is a pea-wit. You take men ... one at a time."

Chamberlain: "To me there was never any difference."

Kilrain: "None at all?"

Chamberlain: "None. Of course, I didn't know that many. But those I knew ... well, you looked in the eye and there was a man. There was a divine spark, as my mother used to say. (quoting Hamlet) 'What a piece of work is man, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god.'"

Kilrain: "Well, if he's an angel, alright then. But he damn well must be a killer angel. Colonel, you're a lovely man. I see a great difference between us, yet I admire you. You're an idealist, praise be. The truth is Colonel, there is no 'divine spark'. There's many a man alive no more of value than a dead dog. Believe me. When you've seen them hang each other the way I have back in the Old Country. Equality? What I'm fighting for is the right to prove I'm a better man. Where have you seen this 'divine spark' in operation, Colonel? Where have you noted this magnificent equality? No two things on earth are equal or have an equal chance. Not a leaf, not a tree. There's many a man worse than me and some better, but I don't think race or country matters a damn. What matters Colonel ... is justice. Which is why I'm here. I'll be treated as I deserve. Not as my father deserved. I'm Kilrain, and I damn all gentlemen. There's only one aristocracy and that's (taps head) right here. And that's why we've got to win this war."

Monday, November 15, 2004

Cult of Personality

There is currently a group running commercials that call for amending the constitution so that Arnold Schwarzenegger is legally able to run for President. The actual effort to repeal the law is a good thing, in my opinion. Arnold's supporters are right when they state that the law is outdated and exclusionary. And I'm sure they will also agree with me that nothing in that hallowed document should exclude any portion of the American populace from the rights held by the rest, right? Right? Is this thing on?

But wait, aside from his foreign birthplace, do we really want Arnold to hold our highest office? His past is dubious, being a longtime resident of "Hollyweird". He's smoked pot and participated in orgies, so obviously his morality is in question. He doesn't represent us. He's not one of us. He's not part of the heartland. He doesn't understand good Christian values. Nobody cares what his kind has to say, so why the hell doesn't he just sit down and keep his mouth shut?

Oh, wait. He's Republican? Oh, well, that's alright then.

Republicans have perpetuated the lie that the opinions of liberal entertainers are irrelevant simply because they are liberal entertainers. Furthermore, if a political candidate has the support of these people, then they themselves are out of touch and unfit to take office. The Republican's anger comes from what they perceive as an unfair advantage: a community that is overwhelmingly liberal that also has frequent opportunities to express their thoughts to millions of people. When they go on talk shows to discuss their TV series or movie, which is often, they can talk about whatever the heck they want and possibly influence the opinions of regular folk that enjoy their work. The solution? Demonize them within an inch of their lives.

But the reasons for the Republicans' disdain goes beyond access to the airwaves. There is a reason why the Republicans chose former Senator Fred Dalton Thompson to help introduce George W. Bush at their convention last September and deliver rebuttals to Clinton's State of the Union addresses. In addition to his political career, Thompson is an experienced actor from such popular films as "The Hunt for Red October", "Cape Fear" and "In the Line of Fire". He's not Brad Pitt, but he has an engaging manner natural to most actors. His experience in front of the camera is an advantage that most seasoned politicians would kill to have, and the Republicans were smart to use that advantage.

Of course, their tactic of labeling Hollywood actors was more effective when Republicans only counted a handful of supporters within that community. Aside from conservative heavy hitters like Charlton Heston and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the biggest celebrities Bush Sr. managed to get on the campaign trail back in 1988 and 1992 was Gerald "Major Dad" McRaney. After 9/11, two things happened: Conservatives not only began drawing some additional converts, but it also compelled closet Republicans to make their voices heard. The resulting pool is now much larger than it has been including celebrities both big (Dennis Miller, James Woods, Mel Gibson, Kelsey Grammar, Bruce Willis) and not so big (Ron Silver, Angie Harmon, Bo Derek, Patricia Heaton, Tom Selleck).

And then there's Ronald Reagan. Far more than any conservative actor today, Reagan could charm an audience, and the Republicans were damn lucky to have "The Great Communicator" on their side. Arnold clearly models himself after Reagan and Republicans enjoy making the comparison. In an interesting dichotomy, Schwarzenegger gained his fame through films that capitalized on the gung-ho political culture that Reagan created. Now he wishes to follow up with his own run to replicate Reagan's success, starting with Reagan's old office as Governor of California. Considering how much of a bigger star that Arnold was and is compared to Reagan's film career, perhaps Arnold is a much surer bet than we imagine. Throw in his immigrant success story that Republicans will beat until the horse disintegrates into dust, and they may have a winner.

But what it all eventually comes down to is whether or not the actors know what the hell they're talking about. If the Republicans have any legitimate objection to liberal celebrities, then it's for those that speak far more from the heart than their head and, therefore, are not informed on the issues of which they speak. I know that I've seen my share of liberal actors that fall into this category. This goes both ways, however, when you see conservative actors who were spooked enough by 9/11 to check their brain at the door and follow Dubya into hell itself, without considering if this would help or change anything.

This phenomenon of treating Hollywood and its denizens as something other than just another American community will stop when we recognize that it has its share of informed and uninformed people on both sides of the aisle. Let them speak their minds and you may criticize them for their ideas and, you know, actually debate them. Otherwise, it's all just so much childish BS, with Conservatives outpacing Liberals in the business of living in fantasy worlds.

Friday, November 12, 2004

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to you; cats look down on you; pigs treat you as equals."

Well, I had a day of training on Wednesday and a day of rest on Thursday (aside from some hectic yardwork in the morning). Today is uneventful so far, so I'm posting an observation I made sometime last week.

In the film "Miller's Crossing", there is a phenomenal scene where two hitmen attempt and fail to kill Irish gang boss Leo (Albert Finney). It ends with a shot of Leo in his robe and slippers, holding the still smoking Tommy Gun and chomping a cigar. It's an incredibly cool image that I've always loved.

When Mrs. Mosley and I went to London last year, we visited the Cabinet War Rooms, which was the underground bunker that Winston Churchill lived and strategized in during WWII. In the giftshop, I purchased a postcard with a B&W photograph I had never seen before of Churchill: He is dressed in his signature suit and hat, holding a Tommy Gun and chomping a cigar.

Now you tell me: Do you think the Coens did this on purpose? Here are the images of Finney (bottom right) and Churchill. The Finney pic is a bit dark, but people familiar with the sequence will know the shot I'm speaking of and will see the similarity. The resemblance the Coen's might have seen between Churchill and Finney was apparently obvious to others besides them. In 2000, Finney starred as Churchill in "The Gathering Storm", for which he won an Emmy, Golden Globe and numerous other awards.

It seems clear that Finney was born to play tough old bastards, for which I and all other movie fans are eternally grateful.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"There is no fever that a 10-mile hike can't cure."

One thing I neglected to mention in my post about the weekend trip was a stop we made just before leaving Tallahassee: The Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park. The location is inconspicuously just outside of town, and Mrs. Mosley and I had only known of it through the signs for it along I-10. We paid out four dollar per car entry fee and went in. The beginning of the trail contained more trees and bushes than gardens, but the air was crisp and cool having finally gotten some winter weather here in November. Eventually, the brick path reached Lake Hall, and I was stunned by the view before me.

The lake was calm and contained some patches of lily pads along the edges. Aside from some tasteful and impressive houses on the other side of the lake, there were no garish signs of human presence here. We sat in wrought iron chairs on a covered patio that was built next to the lake and simply breathed it all in. It was peaceful and beautiful and reminded me of how much joy you can obtain from the simple things.

I was reminded of this when I went through some of my recent emails this morning. In the weeks that preceded the election, I received a number of emails from my inlaws debating the candidates and the issues. One of them, from Mrs. Mosely's grandfather, was a scan of a Garrison Keillor essay from the November 1st issue of Time. I'm sorry to say that I just got around to looking at it today. It concerned the ways in which people could cope with the aftermath of the election, especially if your guy lost. Keillor extols the simple pleasures that remain regardless of who sits in the White House. To wit:

"...our common love of coffee, the world of apples, the movements of birds, the lives of dogs, the touch of skin. Music. Dancing to music. Shooting baskets...enjoying our oatmeal again, with raisins, chopped apricots and honey from bees that grazed in meadows of clover."
He speaks of going out into the small towns and the countryside where you can, "...walk around and get leaf smoke up the nostrils that could pretty well clear the head." With such a poetic heart and a love of nature, is it any wonder why Ken Burns chose Keillor to voice Walt Whitman in "The Civil War"?

Mrs. Mosley and I sometimes speak of moving to a small town or perhaps getting a house on a stretch of land outside of a city. It's more seductive to me than you know. The pleasure of such quiet and beauty is something I could lose myself in for the rest of my days. If I lived in such a place, then I could possibly even stand with getting rid of the TV, as Keillor has done.

There are some obstacles to this daydream. One is that I think I would have to move out of Florida to somewhere colder to truly enjoy the outdoors. At the very least, I would need to be in a place bereft of swamps and overbearing humidity. Also, I haven't been able to obtain the motivation to pull up the weeds in my yard, so the concept of me tending an acre or two is dubious. Still, under different circumstances, I would like to think it's possible.

I have no doubt that there will still be films and politics in my life, but room can be made for this one thing that can offer such serenity. The best things in life are indeed free. More importantly, they're damn near necessary for a clear mind and a healthy heart.

Review: "The Incredibles" (2004)

For me, "Intolerable Cruelty" was an earth shattering film, and not in a good way. Up to that point, I believed the Coen brothers could truly do no wrong. Up to that point, their track record contained a series of films that were individually intelligent, unique and entertaining. "Intolerable Cruelty" was a total misfire, and so the Coen's winning streak, for me anyway, has been broken. So, is there any other creative force out there in moviemaking who has been consistently brilliant? To that I say, thank the heavens for Pixar.

"The Incredibles", Pixar's sixth full length feature film, tells the story of Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible). In a world with it's fair share of superheroes, he's the king of them all. However, due to lawsuits filed by disgruntled citizens whose lives they have saved, all the superheroes are forced to go into a government relocation program and forbidden to ever again use their powers in public. Bob is now married to Helen (aka Elastigirl) and has three children: Dash, Violet and baby Jack Jack. Though he loves his family, he is bored with his mundane insurance job and secretly yearns for the excitement of the good old days. When an opportunity comes along to covertly be a superhero again, he jumps at the chance. But his new employer has hidden motives that soon draw his family out of hiding and into action.

This film is absolutely perfect, and Pixar has once again achieved the Herculean task of topping themselves since their last time out. Instead of me drooling over every square inch of celluloid on the screen, let me just hit some of the more striking points.

As you can see with the car chase/machine gun battle five minutes in, there is a reason that this is the first Pixar film to be rated PG. Whereas their previous films were mostly comedy with some action thrown in, this film can easily be said to be 50/50. An example of how intense the film can get can be seen when Helen, Dash and Violet are violently propelled from an exploding plane. There are a few seconds where the kids are in freefall and they scream in terror. This isn't a comic scream, this is a scream of two young characters falling at an amazing speed towards the ocean and, they think, their death. There are adult horror movies that are afraid to put child characters in peril, so I tip my hat to the filmmakers for their boldness.

The numerous action scenes featured throughout the film are thrilling and inventive. One of them, involving Elastigirl, several automatic doors and about a half dozen guards, would do Jackie Chan proud. There is also a chase sequence involving Dash and a number of guards in flying contraptions that proves, if nothing else, that the animators really enjoyed the speeder bike scenes in "Return of the Jedi". This is probably the only sequence that goes on longer than it should, but it's still better than most action movies you'll ever see.

This is the first Pixar film to deal with human characters as the main protagonists. Although the technology has advanced since the first "Toy Story", truly realistic humans are still a ways off. Animators know this, so they design the major human characters to be eye catching and distinctive. Bob's boss, who is voiced by Wallace "Inconceivable" Shawn, is a ridiculously short, pale, middle manager type with a bad combover. He's not in the least a realistic human, but he is detailed and convincing enough in voice and mannerisms that we accept the character.

What animators can't do in creating realistic looking humans they compensate with through visual tricks that echo our reality. In the first "Toy Story" film, Andy enters a closet wearing one costume and exits wearing another. The static shot of the door changes ever so slightly as it would if a film camera stops and starts. Obviously, this is not an issue with CGI, but they put the effect in anyway to subconsciously trick viewers brains into seeing the film differently. Similarly, there is a scene at a dinner table in "The Incredibles" where Helen is sharply detailed in the foreground while Dash is farther back and blurry. Again, this kind of focus problem isn't an issue with CGI, but they do it anyway. These tiniest of touches do wonders for suspending the disbelief of audiences.

The voice work is all around grand. Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter do touching work with Bob and Helen. Samuel L. Jackson is fantastic as Frozone, though I would have been happier with more of him on the screen. Perhaps most interesting is how, for the second film in a row, the director of a Pixar film has given their own voice to one of the most interesting characters. In "Finding Nemo", director Andrew Stanton voiced Crush, the surfer dude sea turtle. For "The Incredibles", director Brad Bird lends his voice to Edna Mode, the fashion designer/scientist that designs and makes all of the superhero costumes. Edna improves every scene she's in (not that they needed improving). Oh, and for those of you wondering out there, there is the obligatory John Ratzenberger appearance (just wait until the very end).

I can't say enough for this film. Pixar is creating a film cannon that will last for decades to come and we are all fortunate for it. The best way we can repay them is...pay them. See these artistic and technological wonders on the big screen as they should be seen. This is what movies are all about.

Ten out of Ten

Monday, November 08, 2004

Random thoughts on FSU

The weekend in Tally was very enjoyable, as was the game itself. Some observations:

And now for something completely different - We were seated in the end zone next to the FSU band, with the Duke band located a bit further along. In addition to the standards played by all marching bands at football games, FSU also played a version of King Arthur's theme in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". Being a Python fan, this was a real treat and I was surprised at how great it sounded as a get-the-fans-pumped-up song. In response, the Duke band played Python's "Sit on My Face", which made me glad that Duke didn't bring a chorus section.

Mein Fuhrer! I can CHOP! - For those of you unaware of such things, we fans of the FSU Seminoles use a tomahawk chop with our arms as a chant/cheer for our team. Aside from the initial thoughts on how this is still slightly offensive even after all these years, I also wondered what it's like for FSU fans who are also big baseball fans. They move to big cities and really get into their home team, only to find themselves one day in Atlanta for an away game. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Braves fans also do the tomahawk chop. Can you imagine all the FSU fans in the audience inadvertently mimicking Dr. Strangelove as they hold down their arms from automatically jutting up into the air?

Blood is NOT thicker than football - Bobby Bowden, Head coach of the Seminoles, is worshipped as a god in Tally. So color us surprised when Mrs. Mosley and I, who have been negligent in keeping up with the team, found a vitriolic hatred on campus for one of his sons. Jeff Bowden is offensive coordinator for the Seminoles and apparently has been doing a less than stellar job this year. There were posted petitions on campus to have him fired, and banners were unfurled at the game telling Bobby to "Fire Jeff" and "Send Jeff to UF". Folks, when the fans who worship you want to send your son to coach the team they most revile in life, you have a problem.

And Finally - Cost of a gallon of unleaded gasoline at a Conoco on the edge of Tallahassee: $1.86

Cost of a gallon of Dasani water sold inside the stadium (as extrapolated from a 20 oz bottle): $19.20

Value of seeing your Alma Mater win in person? Priceless.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Poster Boy

In an effort to resist going totally insane with grief, I've been looking for a silver lining in this whole election, and I think I have found one: Scott McConnell's endorsement of Kerry in "American Conservative" magazine.

Although his enthusiasm for Kerry is tepid and back-handed, he was not alone amongst Conservatives and Republicans voicing their concerns about a Bush re-election. Obviously, it wasn't enough for Kerry to win the popular vote, but it is significant. Why?

Clinton's eight years in office burned into people's brains his image as the symbol of the Democratic party. Now, you can debate whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. You can argue whether or not Gore's association with Clinton cost him votes in 2000. You can claim that his behavior reinforced the image of loose sexual mores for Democrats when combined with the Kennedy legacy. Nevertheless, he is an icon that many people still love and respect.

If George W. Bush is re-elected, then he will also serve a total of eight years. He will then become the face of the Republican party, and I'm guessing that a lot of Conservatives don't like the sound of that. Conservatives didn't really like Kerry, but they hoped that Dubya could be cut short in 2004. Then Republicans could re-group, attack Kerry for every blessed thing under the sun for four years, and in the meantime prep someone new for 2008. As it stands now, Bush is going to have another four years to cement his acts, policies and character as those of the entire Republican party. Read McConnell's article. He puts it far more eloquently than I can.

I believe that both McConnell and I would welcome the back-and-forth of yesteryear between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans could call Democrats to the mat when they were spending far too much money and Democrats would hold Republicans accountable for their attacks on the Constitution. Dubya's legacy robs the term "Conservative" of meaning as he spends money like a (forgive the term) drunken sailor. True Conservatives saw the core Republican principle of fiscal responsibility shoved aside for such trivial BS as gay marriage. If true Conservatives have any sense, then they will either work hard to try and change their party from within or leave their "Republican" designation entirely as one that no longer holds any meaning.

The remaining "Republicans" will be left with their icon, and they will come to regret it in 2008...

...if we ever get there.

This is my last post until next week and perhaps my last political post for longer than that. Mrs. Mosley and I are going away for the weekend to see the FSU/Duke game in Tallahassee (where I can be reasonably certain that this time my team will win). I need a break and the next post will likely be a Movie or a Chicken Caesar review, with more of the same to follow. For now, I'm burned out and tired.

But I will be back.

Skippy of the Day: George W. Bush

Just when I thought I had finally calmed down, I just had to read MSNBC this morning:

"Reaching these goals will require the broad support of Americans," Bush said, as he asked Sen. John Kerry's disappointed supporters to back him although many of his proposals are anathema to the opponents of his re-election. "I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust," he said.
Even those of us with such memories finely tuned to conveniently forget all of Bush's miscues, mistakes and flat-out lies, will never forget that little "I'm a uniter, not a divider" promise from four years ago. He was given the golden opportunity to do exactly this with 9/11, and he dashed it to the ground almost as soon as he received it. His sincerity in this message is about as convincing now as it was then.

I expect to see no sincere efforts on his part and treat this portion of his address as the usual victory speech filler. He no longer has to worry about popularity or polls. His staff, which according to the article will include some changes but not important ones (i.e. Rumsfeld and Ashcroft), will continue to isolate him from reality so he'll see minimum protesters and hear minimum contradictory facts.

Most of all, he has an even stronger hold on both the House and Senate, so he can pretty much do whatever the hell he wants. He doesn't need to mend fences. Do people honestly think he'll look at this total control, then look at his objectives and then say "I should make some concessions to make the other side happy"? He might throw Democrats a bone so he can say he's making compromises, but it will not be anything major. His lip service to Democrats resembles a rapist whispering in his victim's ear, "You know, if you don't tense up, this won't hurt as much." Either way, we're getting screwed.

Listen, it comes down to this: It all depends on the man. There's too much history and too much dislike for Bush to ever undo what he has done over the past four years. If Gore had won back in 2000 and he pledged the same thing, Republicans at large would be telling him to blow it out his ass. Why? Because they had spent eight years in a state of bloodlust and would have seen Gore as a continuance of that. Katherine Hepburn in "The Lion in Winter" could have easily been speaking about the animosity Republicans felt for Clinton when she said "You have a gift for hating".

So now Republicans are asking us to accept this same guy we have been vigilantly opposing for four years? His policies haven't changed, his staff isn't changing (much) and he himself sure as hell isn't changing. If Republicans truly want to reach out, then they need somebody brand new. Somebody not even remotely connected with the Bush family or administration. Somebody with new ideas.

To that I say, good luck in 2008.

Going Blue with cold

I have to admit that I had the same thoughts as this guy when I looked at the electoral map yesterday. There's a perverse appeal to it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hope is slowly seeping in

The blogs I have links to on the right are there for news updates and commentary. They are also there for occasions when I need moral support, and this is definitely one of those times. The following quote that was posted on Kos was itself taken from another blog, which seems to have the right attitude at this moment:

"In 1964, the Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater by 23 points. Goldwater managed to carry just 6 states and Johnson won the electoral college 486-52. But the conservatives didn't give up. They didn't spend a lot of time wringing their hands. They regrouped and fought back. By 1968, Nixon crushed Humphrey in the electoral college 301-191 and won the popular vote by a million votes. If you oppose Bush, now isn't the time to feel sorry for yourself. Now is the time to get to work."
Tomorrow, we're going back to making the doughnuts.


I am still not in any shape to be verbose and intellectual about today. My preference remains pure naked emotion. In that spirit, I refer to a quote by Confederate General Henry A. Wise to a Union officer after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Our causes are very different, but we both share a devastating moment of defeat and a desire to express our feelings to our counterparts. So, with that in mind, I would like to say this one thing to George W. Bush:

"There is a rancor in our hearts you little dream of. We hate you, sir."

Since I'm out of sheets, I'm three bagels to the wind.


That pretty much sums it up. I've been trying to think of a post to express all that I'm feeling right now, but it would end up being a big, meandering mess.

Perhaps something more coherent will come later. Until then, I'm off to get another cup of coffee.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Ignoring the big, shiny object in the corner

Criminy. It's not even Noon yet and I'm on my second cup of coffee and tired as all hell.

It's going to be that kind of day. So for Acrentropy, I'm not going to post anything about Politics (or Film or Chicken Caesar Salads, for that matter). Instead, I'm going to post five random links for yours and mine enjoyment. I'm not saying that I myself won't be glued to the TV coverage, but it's nice to have somewhere to take a sabbatical, if need be:

The Medieval Technology Pages, The Brick Testament, Public Domain Resources, Illustration House, and Stone Pages.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Yaphet Kotto Quote of the Month: November 2004

"Brubaker" is one of Kotto's biggest films as he gets second billing under star Robert Redford. In it, Kotto plays one of the prisoner trustees that acts as guard over the rest of the population inside Wakefield Prison. Most of the other trustees are dispicable types, leading his character to make a comment to his roommate after encountering one of them:

Richard 'Dickie' Coombes: I'm getting ready to be angry, Abraham. I'm getting ready to be real angry.