Monday, January 31, 2005

I'm as mad as hell (but I can't be bothered to open the window).

One of the popular topics among liberal bloggers last year was "astroturf" campaigns conducted by conservative websites. Specifically, these sites would allow users to easily submit a form letter to newspapers parroting the latest GOP party line. Numerous times, there would be three or four newspapers across the country printing very well written "Letters to the Editor" that were exactly alike, but attributed to different people. Two of many examples here and here. Also, this is one site dedicated to keeping an eye out for such tactics.

What's wrong with this? Well, there's something to be said for using your own words. I'm not the most eloquent of men, but I try my best to impart my arguments the best way I can. Then there's the issue of being able to write to newspapers you may have never even seen before. After all, the "Letters to the Editor" section is supposed to reflect the varied views of the community, not some lazy nutjob in some other state who's never even heard of your burg.

But most of all, it's rather pathetic that people that are supposedly so passionate about a subject can't even be bothered to take the normal steps to make their views known.

All of this is background to this story. Being one person and not a newspaper, Ken Olbermann has some fun at the expense of those who feigned some very half-hearted outrage at Olbermann's coverage of the Spongebob Squarepants Brouhaha. In his original post, he describes some of the "angry" e-mail he has gotten:

"Something approaching 20 percent of them were simply blank. Others began with, or consisted entirely of, the preamble "(Please delete these words and type your own message here.)" Others referred to Dr. Dobson as Dr. Dobsin, Dr. Dobsen, or Mr. Dobbins. Many were cut-and-paste repetitions of one another, and about 20 percent were from false e-mail addresses."
There were more comments, such as the great many different way people chose to spell "sponge", but I'm not going to criticize people who don't know enough to use spell check. I will criticize those that think we should give a toss to what they think when all they're doing is clicking a few buttons that some conservative blowhard told them to.

Although it's certainly not to be taken seriously, George Carlin's gets to the heart of my basic gripe with this thought about anti-abortion protesters:

"And you won't see a lot of these pro-life people dousing themselves in kerosene and lighting themselves on fire. You know, morally committed religious people in South Vietnam knew how to stage a g*dd*mn demonstration, didn't they? They knew how to put on a f*ck*n' protest! Light yourself on FIRE! Come on, you moral crusaders, let's see a little smoke to match that fire in your belly!"

Hundreds of thousands Iraqis risked their very lives to vote in their election yesterday. Americans are able to risk far, far less in order to make their opinions known. The least they can do is put forth some effort.

Super Bowl Countdown: Six Days Left

And so it begins.

For the record, Mrs. Mosley and I aren't really big football fans outside of FSU, so we won't be attending any of the 587 different Super Bowl events going on around town. We're not very big party people, anyway. But I can comment on how the city handles the influx of players, bigwigs and fans.

Speaking of players, both teams arrived here yesterday an hour apart at Cecil Field airport. The Philadelphia Eagles will be staying in luxury at the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach. The New England Patriots, on the other hand, will be staying at the Renaissance World Golf Village. These are very nice places to stay and shows that the Super Bowl Committee is putting it's best foot forward to show these players a nice time.

However, it's interesting to note that both of these locations are not even in Jacksonville (Or Duval County, which is one and the same with city of Jacksonville since their consolidation in 1968). They are in St. Johns County just south of us. Now, one of the reasons for this is probably to avoid traffic tie ups and so forth, but the other reason I suspect is that, well, it's more interesting down there.

St. Johns County is home to three major attractions: The Ponte Vedra Beaches, St. Augustine and World Golf Village. The appeal of the beaches is self-explanatory. St. Augustine is perhaps the most popular tourist attraction in these parts short of Daytona during Spring Break or a NASCAR event. It has lots of old buildings, museums, shops and such, and is just a joy to stroll through. It also happened to be where Mrs. Mosley and I spent our honeymoon. World Golf Village is the Cooperstown of Golf and is a great place golf (or, like me, see an IMAX show). The location is in the middle of nowhere, so I imagine that the proprietors are gleeful at having a Super Bowl team stay there.

It's interesting to note the descriptions of the players given in that article I linked to. The Eagles, staying in Ponte Vedra, came off the plane with "open-collared shirts and video cameras", clearly ready to par-tay. Whereas the Patriots, staying at World Golf Village, "landed in jackets and ties...with briefcases", clearly ready to relax and stay focused on the big game. So even though these players have not been placed in locations that show off Jacksonville, it would seem that they have been placed in locations that match their personality types. And that's some evidence of some higher brain functions organizing this thing. We'll see if it's in evidence for the rest of the week as well.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

One last Iraq election headline to end the week

From the "Duh" department:

Bush: Vote won't bring instant peace

Gee, ya think?

Review: "Million Dollar Baby" (2004)

Very few movies dare to be quiet nowadays. From action films to comedies, the theme of most current films is volume (in both audio and video). Even dramas can depend too much on soundtrack swells and histrionics in order to get audiences to shed tears when they might normally not give a damn. But there are quieter films that use an economy of sound and barest minimum of light in order to tell a story. For a boxing movie, it seems appropriate for a film to be trimmed of every ounce of fat, leaving only lean muscle.

"Million Dollar Baby" is indeed a boxing film, but it is also something more. Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) was and is one of the best "cut men" in the business (quick and effective surgery on the edges of the ring). In his old age, he has turned to managing a grungy gym and a handful of promising boxers. His best, and only, friend is Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris (Morgan Freeman), a former boxer who damaged his eye in his last fight and now helps maintain the gym for Frankie. One day, a 31 year old woman from Missouri named Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) walks in and asks Frankie to manage and train her. He refuses flat out, but she hangs around all the same. With some convincing from Eddie, he relents and begins training her for her own chance at the bigtime.

As I said at the start, this is a spare film. The music, which was composed by Eastwood, is not a rousing anthem in which to cheer Swank in the ring. We only hear the brutal puches during her matches and then hear tiny snatches of a recurring piano theme for the more emotional scenes. Visually, there are many scenes in dark rooms where only a face, a hand or a profile is seen. Some might liken this to Noir, and certainly the subject of boxing has seen its share of coverage in that genre, but the real purpose of this lighting technique is to draw even more focus on what really matters: the characters themselves.

I saw this film recently not only because of all the good reviews, but also because I kept hearing everyone talk about the big plot twist the film has. There have been films in the past that become so popular in conversation that I have ended up hearing the twist before I got to see the film ("Primal Fear" was one of these). Considering all the Oscar attention this film was getting, I didn't want this to happen this time around. I'm refraining from mentioning it in this review and will just say that the twist in not nonsensical and does take the plot in a new, worthy direction.

So, without touching on more plot specifics than I already have, I'll talk about the characters. The definite standout here is Swank. As we witness her earnestness and determined zeal for the sport, we cannot help but be on her side and rooting for her. And, despite those who would pigeonhole her as less feminine due to this role and "Boys Don't Cry", let me just state for the record that she exudes charisma and sex appeal even through the muscles she builds up.

Eastwood and Freeman, who are once again teamed as grizzled old friends since their turn in "Unforgiven", both turn in fine performances. Both also adopt a harsh rasp that is meant to indicate their rough and tumble lives in the Boxing world. It's momentarily disconcerting at the beginning, but this passes. I also have to say that between scenes of Frankie teaching boxing to Maggie and scenes of Frankie sharing a tender moment with Maggie, the later ones are the more believable. In terms of real emotive acting, Eastwood has still got it.

Two other minor characters come into play halfway through the film, and they both turn out to be villains of a sort: fellow boxer Billie "The Blue Bear" (Lucia Rijker) and Maggie's mother Earline (Margo Martindale). The role of Billie is understated but effective in the bare screen time she is give. The role of Earlie is something else altogether. She has two large scenes in the film, and in both she is backed up by several members of the family. Though I could accept how cruel she could be in the first scene, her and her family's actions in the second scene bordered on farcical. I understand why these scenes are in the film and what function they serve, but putting these shallow characters alongside Eastwood and Swank is a little too disconcerting.

The boxing ring is one of the brightest lit objects in the film, and there's a reason for that. Just as the film is whittled down to the barest essentials, so is the sport venue that is the focus: a simple white square where two people fight each other until the fight is done. And in reverence to this style, let me sum up this film in the barest language possible: This is a story that stays with you.

Nine out of Ten

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

No Moore Oscars

I was 95% sure yesterday morning that "Fahrenheit 9/11" wouldn't get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. I had two reasons for this. First, I figured the two controversial films of the year, "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "The Passion of Christ", would cancel each other out in terms of Oscar. More importantly, the category is called Best Picture. There's a separate category for the Best Documentary. When Moore refrained from submitting in the Documentary category in order to focus on a Picture nod, he pretty much sealed his own Oscar fate.

Moore has a tumultuous history with the Oscars. When he released his first documentary "Roger & Me" in 1989, it received very high praise. When it failed to get an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary, Siskel and Ebert were very vocal in their anger at the snub Moore received from the Academy. Although it's tempting to call the omission personally or politically motivated, the actual reason is that the Academy can simply be daft at times. Other well respected documentaries such as "The Thin Blue Line" and "Hoop Dreams" have also been shamelessly overlooked in past years.

I'm guessing that Moore carried the resentment throughout his career. He finally got his first and only nomination to date last year with "Bowling for Columbine". When he was named the winner, he got on stage and did his rant against the Bush administration only to receive boos from some of those assembled. He has since stated in a number of interviews that "Fahrenheit 9/11" was made in order to state his case to those who would ridicule his statements from that night.

In the end, "Fahrenheit 9/11" received both plaudits and ticket sales to dream for. On a more basic and important level, it received people's attention. In this respect, it fulfilled it's role (even though the man it argued against won re-election, anyway). It seems to me that Moore's pursuit of more awards are inconsequential given his larger motivations. Perhaps he wants to show people that, despite the election results, people like him will never simply fade away. Perhaps. But to a significant number of us out there that agree with him most of the time, his efforts to win Best Picture carries the unmistakable whiff of ego run amok.

It's OK, Mike. It happens to the best of us. Now do yourself a favor and forget about the Oscars. You have much better things to be doing with your time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Nominations are in.

OK. Here's my two cents.

Actor in a Supporting Role -
Alan Alda, The Aviator
Thomas Haden Church, Sideways
Jamie Foxx, Collateral
Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
Clive Owen, Closer

One of the most irritating things about the Oscars is how nebulous the categories are. Some would rightly claim that both Church and Foxx have starring roles in their films, yet they are relegated to a supporting nomination. It's of some solace to Church and Foxx that they are also the strongest contenders for the award. Freeman, like Meryl Streep, is so used to accolades that this one is simply a given. Owen will most likely blend in with his ensemble in Closer. And as for Alda, well, The Aviator has much bigger heads to crown than his (see below). Foxx's stronger chance is with Ray, so I'll call this for Church. Sideways, given its indie vibe, will probably miss the other big awards, and the Academy has been known to give conciliatory prizes for supporting turns in great films that fall into this category (See Chris Cooper in Adaptation, Jim Broadbent in Iris and James Coburn in Affliction).

Actress in a Supporting Role -
Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Laura Linney, Kinsey
Virginia Madsen, Sideways
Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda
Natalie Portman, Closer

Barring an upset with Madsen getting the award in place of Church (see above), I think this is a race between Linney and Portman. Blanchett will eventually get an Oscar, but not this year (See Alda above). Okonedo may bring an upset, but more likely will stand as another representative of Hotel Rwanda itself and its greatness. Portman, as with Clive Owen above, will probably fade into the ensemble. Linney, however, plays the supportive wife of a controversial genius (See Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock), and like many of the winners of the past, she's long overdue for notice. Expect to see Linney on the stage.

Actor in a Leading Role -
Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda
Johnny Depp, Finding Neverland
Leonardo DiCaprio, the Aviator
Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Jamie Foxx, Ray

Jesse Jackson may rejoice that there are two very strong black contenders for this category. Depp, who just keeps on putting out quality product, is destined to win on another occasion. Ditto for DiCaprio. Eastwood already has enough awards to fill a walk-in closet. Which brings us back to Cheadle and Foxx. Just as Liam Neeson missed his Oscar for Schindler's List, I'm guessing that Cheadle will also miss out. And just as with Neeson, it will be a crying shame. Still, Jamie Foxx is the acting success story of the year, and I think he's a lock for the win.

Actress in a Leading Role -
Annette Bening, Being Julia
Catalina Sandino Moreno, Maria Full of Grace
Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake
Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This is probably going to be the fiercest battle of the night, and is therefore the toughest to call. A lot of critics are crossing their fingers for Moreno. Maria was a brutal and brilliant film that unfortunately most people haven't even heard of, much less seen. Winslet in Eternal will probably be too trippy for most voters. Drake, about an abortionist, will probably be too small and controversial (even given Michael Caine's win in Cider House Rules). That leaves us with Swank and Bening, who have both been gathering accolades like posies. I'll give the edge to Bening since she hasn't won before, but I wouldn't place any heavy bets on that call.

Best Director -
Martin Scorsese, The Aviator
Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Taylor Hackford, Ray
Alexander Payne, Sideways
Mike Leigh, Vera Drake

Best Picture -
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby

Not to by cynical or anything (too late), but the odd men out can be removed. Thus, Vera Drake and Finding Neverland can be eliminated, since they failed to get both nominations. Ray, which was a bit overlong, will have gotten it's notice with Foxx. Sideways, which is a little edgy and depressing at times, will have gotten it's notice with Church or Madsen. Thus we are left with Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator. Baby will be highly esteemed, like Eastwood's Mystic River last year. But in the end, it will be seen as a film whose recognition will be award enough. Plus, all three principles from Baby already have their own little gold men. Which leaves us with The Aviator. It's an epic biography about an American success story. It revels in the golden age of Hollywood. It's directed by a man who is one of the most sorely deserving of an Oscar who hasn't yet got one. In other words, It's a most assured lock for both awards.

And that's it. For those who are interested (and you know who you are), The Oscars will be awarded on February 27. See ya then.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Snail Spam

Normally, the junk mail I receive goes straight into the garbage, but I couldn't easily dispose of the subscription offer I got last Friday for "The National Review". Exactly how I got on this mailing list, I'll never know. It did remind me of a method employed by my former roommate to deal with such unwanted garbage.

Take everything but the postage paid envelope and shred it. Then you stuff the shreds into the postage paid envelope, seal it and mail it back to them. That way they have to pay postage twice. I'm sure these folks couldn't care less, but it's at least somewhat therapeutic.

Now, if only I could get a hold of some cheap, heavy lead slugs that would fit into a #10 envelope.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Novel Writing (Live From Wessex... er... Jacksonville)

It's been awhile since I entertained notions to seriously write and be published. The desire has never really left me, only subsided to minute levels. I'm constantly jotting down ideas and scenarios in my Palm and in scattered Word documents on my Desktop. But all of this has never come to fruition.

But something changed lately. Namely, a friend of mine recently had one of her short stories published in a compilation book. Here's the link to the book, by the way. I was duly impressed by this, and it made me rethink my lackadaisical efforts. So, I'm renewing my efforts to write and be published. My first steps have been to start reading some short story magazines to see what kind of stuff is currently getting published. I also have my eye on a short story contest that I've heard about for years. The deadline for the contest is in less than three weeks, and I hope to have three different stories up and ready for submission.

I'll be posting updates on my efforts as they arise. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Movie Quotes: "Naked"

Before he played Professor Lupin in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", I first encountered actor David Thewlis in a completely different role in a completely different film. "Naked" is the story of a loner named Johnny who wanders England, encountering old friends and making new ones in order to have someone to talk to and a place to stay the night. He's an educated and thoughtful man, but can also become very impatient and sarcastic with people. In the end, Johnny and all the other characters are revealed as very emotionally damaged, and the story does not end as happily as we would hope. Welcome to the films of Mike Leigh.

Johnny has two great little spiels that he gives his old friend Louise, so I'm presenting both:

Louise: "How did you get here?"
Johnny: "Well, basically, there was this little dot, right? And the dot went bang and the bang expanded. Energy formed into matter, matter cooled, matter lived, the amoeba to fish, to fish to fowl, to fowl to frog, to frog to mammal, the mammal to monkey, to monkey to man, amo amas amat, quid pro quo, memento mori, ad infinitum, sprinkle on a little bit of grated cheese and leave under the grill till Doomsday."

Louise: "So what happened, were you bored in Manchester?"
Johnny: "Was I bored? No, I wasn't f**kin' bored. I'm never bored. That's the trouble with everybody - you're all so bored. You've had nature explained to you and you're bored with it, you've had the living body explained to you and you're bored with it, you've had the universe explained to you and you're bored with it, so now you want cheap thrills and, like, plenty of them, and it doesn't matter how tawdry or vacuous they are as long as it's new as long as it's new as long as it flashes and f**kin' bleeps in forty f**kin' different colors. So whatever else you can say about me, I'm not f**kin' bored."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Warning! Librarian Rant Ahead!

Consider this scenario. There are two Librarians working a busy desk. Librarian "A", let's call her Trudy, is a sweet old lady who is very good at her job and very diligent. Librarian "B" is myself, who shall be known as Alonzo.

A patron comes up to Trudy at the desk looking for a book, but gives an incorrect title that isn't in the catalog. During this exchange, she is forced to answer the phone because we are so busy. She asks the patron in front of her to please wait and he agrees. The patron on the phone is also looking for a book and gives her a title, which she easily finds in the computer. Trudy proceeds to go and pull this item off the shelf for him. The patron on the phone asks if it can be held for him, and Trudy tells him it can. The patron on the phone gives his name and says he will be right over to pick it up. When Trudy hangs up the phone, the patron in front of her turns back to her only to see the book and tell her that's the one he needs. Trudy patiently tries to explain to him that it's on hold for another patron and that he cannot have it. The patron refuses to accept this because he asked for the book first and is physically in the building. Explaining to him that he gave the wrong title does no good.

Alonzo finishes with the patron he's helping and walks over to the other end of the desk to see what's going on. Trudy tells Alonzo what has happened and Alonzo tries again to explain to the patron that his giving the wrong title (and a simple case of unlucky timing) has given "first dibs", so to speak, to the other patron. There are no other copies at the library they are in, but there are other branches he could go to that do have other copies. The patron does not seem interested in this option. Finally, in an attempt to defuse the situation, Alonzo tells the patron that, in the time it will take for the other patron to get to the library, he may be permitted to look at the item and make photocopies until the other patron arrives. The irate patron agrees to this and Alonzo points him towards the copiers.

The desk gets busy again and Trudy asks me if I've seen the irate patron and I look over to the copiers and see he is not there. He doesn't appear to be anywhere on the floor. Alonzo gets a sinking feeling and curses himself for giving this shmuck the benefit of the doubt. The desk heats up again and we are swamped with patrons. Eventually, Trudy is able to get away and head upstairs to where the Circulation desk is and the exit. She catches him just as he is finishing checking out the book. She lays her hand on it and tell him that he cannot have that book. His response is to say "I've checked it out. It's mine now," yank the book away from her and walk quickly out the door. Trudy, stunned and momentarily speechless at this behavior, gets to the guard too late for them to be any help.

OK. Lessons learned: It's clear that I need to be more skeptical in the future and trust patrons about as far as I can throw them in these particular instances. So, if it ever happens again, I'll know to get a Drivers License to hold onto while the patron uses an item. In the end, he may not get away clean, after all. My boss went up to Circulation to see if there are any options we have as to blocking his account or fining him. That possibility, along with this blog post, is serving to calm me down a bit.

Some of this reminds me of a quote from the TV series "Firefly", which I just completed watching on DVD. In it, the religious character named Book warns the Captain of the ship the repercussions of messing around with a new female passenger:

"If you take sexual advantage of her, you're going to burn in a very special level of Hell, a level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater."

Add to that list patrons that likes to push around little old lady Librarians. Shmuck.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Marvin Gaye and MLK

So as soon as I woke up this morning, I could remember the last portion of my dream: I was watching a movie scene which took place in the late 70's or early 80's where some high ranking clergy in London (as played by Donald Pleasance and Christopher Plummer) were trying to decide whether an extended version of "Aint nothing like the real thing, baby" was obscene or not. Oh, and there was a wire rack display of candy bar revolving in front of me this whole time.

As soon as I decide what the heck this all meant, I'll be sure to let you know.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Review: "Sexy Beast" (2000)

There are some story ideas that have simply been worn threadbare with overuse, such as "the cop that doesn't play by the rules". Perhaps the most recent overused plot is "the criminal who is persuaded to do one last job". Most of these are heist pictures, so I tend not to mind the overuse. The heists themselves are often entertaining enough so that I can forgive the unoriginality of the plot. But one film that used this storyline five years ago was so engrossing, It could have had taken out the heist entirely and not been diminished in the least.

"Sexy Beast" opens on a palatial home in Spain, where a retired gangster named Gary "Gal" Dove (Ray Winstone) has been living the good life. He has plenty of money put away, he has a beautiful wife Deedee (Amanda Redman) and he spends his days sunning himself by the pool. The only violent actions left in his life is the occasional rabbit hunt in the desert. He soon gets word that an old criminal associate of his, Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), is coming to visit and ask him to come and do one last job in London. And, as the audience will soon discover, Don Logan does not, not take "No" for an answer.

Symbolism, when it's overdone, can be really annoying. "Sexy Beast" manages to tread the fine line from the very first scene to the very last. Gal's life is first interrupted by a giant boulder that rolls down a mountain and lands in his swimming pool, and this mirrors the other force of nature that will quickly enter his life in the form of Logan. Soon, he is haunted by nightmares of an Uzi-toting rabbit wearing cowboy boots (this sounds like a ridiculous image, but trust me when I say that this is one of the most effective and convincing dream sequences I've ever seen done). He's haunted by the past he left behind, and Logan is a very vivid reminder of it.

When we later see Gal in London, it is jarring to be in the middle of the blue and black shades of a typically English downpour after being in the yellows and reds of the hot Spanish dessert. More than that, we notice a shot of Gal in a bathrobe and sitting on the bed in his posh hotel room. The whole image is of a soft man being put up in a soft place, like a tourist (which is what he is after having been away from his birthplace for so long). He's out of his element, and the thinly veiled contempt that the other criminals show towards him speaks volumes. The movie is all about Gal, and our attention and sympathies are with him every step of the way.

Don Logan is the flashier character, but that's partly because he's certifiably insane. It's not the entertaining insane he often see in villains, but rather the more genuine unpredictable insane that makes everyone, both characters and audience, uncomfortable and nervous. There's a moment when he talks a string of pure nonsense in the bathroom mirror, and his psychosis is almost hypnotic. At the time of the film's release, every reviewer felt contractually obligated to mention Ben Kingsley's most famous role of Ghandi. Comments like these give the impression that his performance is solely stunt casting, which it is not. Kingsley makes his presence known physically as well as audibly in every scene he's in. And we get to see the fierce intelligence behind his physical threats, particularly in a scene when he runs into trouble at the airport.

Final mention should also be made of Ian McShane, who plays mob boss Teddy Bass. Although his appearances in the film are brief and often quiet, he makes a distinct impression. He proves himself to be just as viscous as Logan, but in a more subtle way. I've read that he's currently impressing audiences with his villainous turn in the HBO Western series "Deadwood". If his character in that series is anything close to Teddy, then I can understand why people are taking notice of him.

This is a tough film to watch at times, but never to the point that you want to turn it off. You get totally caught up in the plight of Gal and his own descent into a familiar Hell. As much as I like films like "Ocean's 11", this is a heist film with a heart and soul far deeper than Clooney and company will ever go on one of their capers.

Nine out of Ten

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Yeah, I'm sure Laos and Zambia are real interested.

In the latest round of commercials trying to get everyone motivated for the Super Bowl, local personalities take turns looking into the camera and saying things like "The World will be watching".

Sorry, folks. I'm trying to be supportive of my hometown and all, but the World doesn't give a flying fig about the Super Bowl. The United States will be watching, and the Nielson people can verify that. However, we can take solace that if Jacksonville ever lands the World Soccer Cup contract, we can reuse these TV spots.

My Wife the Geisha

Mrs. Mosley is an old fashioned kind of girl. She likes romantic comedies, Janet Evanovich mysteries, and a nice bowl of tuna noodle casserole. Once in a while, she will surprise me. Several months ago, she went to lunch with a friend of hers to a Japanese restaurant. Now, she had been to Japanese steakhouses before, as I have previously detailed, but she had yet to partake of Sushi. Like most people, she had that initial "raw fish" phobia, but she soon learned that it wasn't all raw fish. And then she tasted a piece. And that began a passion that continues to this day.

Particularly now, in these first few weeks of the new year when we're trying to keep our calories low, she sees Sushi as her delicious, low calorie salvation. Far be it for me to begrudge her. I like it too, though not to the extent that she currently does. And all the virtues she extols about Sushi are true. So, aside from some bemused moments when she clamors for a California Roll in the same way she once did for German Chocolate Cake, I've endeavored to be supportive of her new culinary interests like a good husband should.

And now, for my wife's enjoyment and perhaps yours, some Sushi links:

Some basic Sushi roll ingredients and recipes

Sushi Vocabulary

Local Sushi spots

The Sekisui restaurant homepage

More Sushi Links

I will admit there is one downside to my wife's desire to go to Japanese restaurants these days: When was the last time you were in a Sushi place that also served Chicken Caesar Salad?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


A Futurama flashback, for all those who remember.

Better than Ginger: The Windhexe

Some of you might recall back in early 2001 when word spread that inventor Dean Kamen was preparing to reveal his latest invention. Code named "Ginger", it was said to be beyond revolutionary and had attracted some very rich investors who trumpeted that it would change the world as we know it.

Well, such pronouncements got a lot of people very curious, including myself. Among the theories being suggested was anti gravity devices, water engines or perhaps even cold fusion. When it was finally revealed, the worldwide sigh of disappointment was deafening.

The invention was, of course, the Segway scooter. For those of you who don't know about it, it is a one person scooter that is perfectly balanced and can be steered through very slight body movements. On the whole, it is indeed an impressive invention, but it didn't deserve the hype that preceded it.

Which brings me to a new series on Acrentropy: "Better than Ginger". With these posts I'll be highlighting some very cool developments in Science and Technology. I'm starting with the Windhexe, which I first heard about almost a year ago. It's nickname, "Tornado in a can", is just that: a machine that produces an artificial whirlwind. The results of this is that farmers can put in the bones of cattle, chickens or other animal byproducts in the top of the machine and they emerge out the bottom as dust. Pretty cool.

And though the company continues to pursue the farm angle when talking about it's function, they state as an aside that the Windhexe can do this to pretty much anything. With such an invention, we can very possibly see the end of landfills in our lifetime.

Very cool, and much better than Ginger.

Monday, January 10, 2005

And more importantly, what should I wear?

Speaking of travel...

As a Librarian, I often get the first look at many brand new books that enter the collection such as the latest Harry Potter novel. And then there are days like today when we get a new shipment of magazines and I get...the latest issue of Oil & Gas Journal complete with Events Calendar for 2005!

Yet now I have the dilemma of, out of all the choices for the second week in April, which conference I should attend. Given the options of the AIChE Advances in Fluid Catalytic Cracking Conference in Atlanta, the IADC Offshore Logistics Conference & Exhibition in Lafayette, or the SPE/CoTA Coiled Tubing Conference & Exhibition in The Woodlands, Texas, which would you choose?

Any advice on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

Mr. & Mrs. Mosley go to Washington

Acrentropy was quieter than usual last week because I'm currently planning a big trip for September. Given that Mrs. Mosley and I skipped our annual vacation in 2004, this makes us all the more eager to get away.

The chief reason for our lack of trip last year was money. 2005 is different, though, as we finally got the big credit card paid off. Mrs. Mosley, in all her financial wisdom, is insisting we only use the card for the trip when we have the saved cash to immediately pay it back off. This means such provisions as waiting until April to buy the train tickets. That's a smart cookie I married.

As for the actual destination, we finally settled on Washington DC. After visiting Canada in 2002 and England in 2003, we decided to give the passport a little rest and travel closer to home. Also, this will keep our expenses down. We've both wanted to visit DC for a long time. The Smithsonian, The Library of Congress and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are high on our list of places to see there. We also plan some side trips into Pennsylvania to see Gettysburg, the Brandywine River Museum and perhaps even the Liberty Bell.

And then there's the consideration of DC's most famous resident. Mrs. Mosley and I have already decided to cross the White House off our short list of places to visit. The man himself will probably be out of town anyway doing, you know, important stuff like clearing brush on his ranch or ignoring newspapers.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Shades of Blue

As you might have noticed, I've changed the shading slightly on the blog. I got sick of the "Blueprint" color scheme because, to borrow a phrase from Sammy in "Malcolm X", it was "putting a hurtin' on my vision, man".

Thanks, by the way, to the website for providing an easy to use HTML color chart that I could browse through.

Skippy of the Day: Bill Frist

A brief entry today. Fortunately, the quote speaks for itself and needs little commentary. From the Associated Press:

Just before his helicopter lifted off, Frist and aides took snapshots of each other near a pile of tsunami debris. "Get some devastation in the back,'' Frist told a photographer.
Congratulations, Senator. You will soon be receiving a call from the people at Merriam Webster. They're adding "Photo op" to their Dictionary this year and would like to use your quote in the definition. However, be warned: Your permission may also be used for future additions such as "Ass-hat".

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The "Philadelphia" rationale

Years ago, I went on a blind date with this girl and the conversation eventually turned to movies. I mentioned how much of a movie buff I was and how one of my favorite films was "All About Eve". She then asked me how much I liked "The Philadelphia Story", and I had to tell her that I had never seen it. Her jaw dropped to the floor.

For all the pretense I make about my love of film, there are indeed some classic films I haven't gotten around to seeing for one reason or another. The way I like to look at it, though, is that it leaves so many classics for me to discover. I can grow old and still enjoy the new experience of a classic comedy or drama.

Still, I'm resolving for the new year to see some more of the really classic films that have so far eluded me. Culling some titles from the AFI top 100 films (of which I've seen 75) and the IMDb's top 250 films (of which I've seen 187), here are some of the titles I'm going to try to watch this year, with perhaps some reviews to follow:

"The Birth of a Nation", "Sunrise", "The Passion of Joan of Arc", "The Gold Rush", "City Lights", "Modern Times": I'm really behind in my silent films, as this list proves. What little experience I've had has shown me that the medium can do wonderful things with both drama ("Intolerance") and comedy ("The General"). All the more appropriate, then, that I wound up with three of each on my list.

"The Philadelphia Story", "Bringing up Baby", "Some Like it Hot", "The Apartment", "The Graduate", "Manhattan": A wide range of comedies here, spanning from Cary Grant's screwball pictures to Woody Allen's neurotic romances. I've been intrigued with "The Apartment" for a long time since I heard it was Cameron Crowe's favorite film (and inspired portions of "Almost Famous"). My one reservation with both "Some Like it Hot" and "The Graduate" is that I've seen so many clips from each over the years, I feel there is little I haven't yet seen.

"An American in Paris" and "The Sound of Music": I'm also behind in my musicals, and these are at the top. "Oklahoma" is also high on this list as I've been fond of the soundtrack for quite some time yet haven't gotten around to seeing the actual film.

"North by Northwest" and "Rebecca": No explanation here. These just happen to be the last two Hitchcock films I haven't seen, pretty much.

"The Grapes of Wrath", "Treasure of the Sierra Madre", "The Best Years of Our Lives", "Double Indemnity", "Doctor Zhivago", "A Streetcar Named Desire": For my last category, I've just lumped all the other classics together. There's a wide range between the artistic black and white photography of "Indemnity" and the colorful epic landscapes in "Zhivago". I actually have a library copy of "Sierra Madre" on top of my TV right now, so maybe that first review won't be much longer.

Monday, January 03, 2005

My Big, Fat DVD Collection

Alonzo Mosley's "Gallery of Conspicuous Consumption" is now online! Now that the holidays are over, I imagine that my DVD purchases will severely slow down again. If for no other reason, then for the fact that I'm running out of room on the shelves next to the TV.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Keith David Quote of the Month: January 2005

Folks, meet Keith David. Like Yaphet Kotto, David is a tall, formidable black actor with an unforgettable tough voice. Unlike Yaphet Kotto, David seems to get around a lot more in films lately, which makes quote easier to choose from (at least for 12 months, anyway).

His first major role was a man named Childs in the modern horror classic "The Thing". Along with Kurt Russell's R. J. MacReady, He is one of the few tough enough to fight back against the alien presence that has infiltrated their Antarctic research facility. When MacReady is suspected of having been infected, Childs argues with the others that they should leave him locked outside in the blizzard. Radio operator Windows (Thomas Waites) is not so sure.

Childs: No! Just let him freeze to death outside!

Windows: Childs, what if we're wrong about him?

Childs: Well then, We're wrong!