Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hoo-ray for La-La Land!

I've been making some adjustments to the La-La Land Library in the past month. Version 2.0 is now up. Click on my new logo to have a look-see.

It's a Kind of Magic

Sword vs. Bullet (Via Linkfilter)

"Oh happy day"

Harper's shows us the inevitable result of the bestselling Left Behind books: The legion of fans the books created are actually excited at the events of the past three weeks. Some excerpts:

"This is the busiest I've ever seen this website in a few years! I have been having rapture dreams and I can't believe that this is really it! We are on the edge of eternity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"Whoa! I can sure feel the glory bumps after reading this thread!"

"I too am soooo excited!! I get goose bumps, literally, when I watch what's going on in the M.E.!! And Watcherboy, you were so right when saying it was quite a day yesterday, in the world news, and I add in local news here in the Boston area!! Tunnel ceiling collapsed on a car and killed a woman of faith, and we had the most terrifying storms I have ever seen here!! But, yes, oh happy day, like in your screen name , it is most indeed a time to be happy and excited, right there with ya!!"

"This is so exciting....I'm having a hard time believing this is 'real'!"

"Got that dancing feeling on the inside of me."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Children of Men trailer

I mentioned this upcoming film previously, but the trailer was just released and I'm jazzed about it all over again.

Mrs. Mosley recommended I read the P.D. James book years ago and I enjoyed it very much. It concerns the end of our civilization through widespread infertility and the story does some great things with the scenario. Add to these elements some beyond cool actors like Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Julianne Moore and Chiwetel Ejiofor, not to mention director Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and you've got one kick ass project.

Watch it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Question: What do air marshals and car salesmen have in common?

Answer: They have to screw over innocent people in order to meet quota.

The rest of the story (Via Boing Boing):
You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they're reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it.

The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.

"Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," said one federal air marshal.

These unknowing passengers who are doing nothing wrong are landing in a secret government document called a Surveillance Detection Report, or SDR. Air marshals told 7NEWS that managers in Las Vegas created and continue to maintain this potentially dangerous quota system.

"Do these reports have real life impacts on the people who are identified as potential terrorists?" 7NEWS Investigator Tony Kovaleski asked.

"Absolutely," a federal air marshal replied.

7NEWS obtained an internal Homeland Security document defining an SDR as a report designed to identify terrorist surveillance activity.

"When you see a decision like this, for these reports, who loses here?" Kovaleski asked.

"The people we're supposed to protect -- the American public," an air marshal said.

What kind of impact would it have for a flying individual to be named in an SDR?

"That could have serious impact ... They could be placed on a watch list. They could wind up on databases that identify them as potential terrorists or a threat to an aircraft. It could be very serious," said Don Strange, a former agent in charge of air marshals in Atlanta. He lost his job attempting to change policies inside the agency.

Maybe Otis the drunk should move there

Oh, yeah. I was going to say a few thing about my trip up to North Carolina several weeks ago.

It was a nice week up in the mountains, where you have cool breezes even in the middle of July (A welcome change of pace from North Florida). We visited the usual spots: Asheville, downtown Brevard, Hendersonville, Pisgah National Forest. On the last night we were there, we went up to a picnic spot right on the Blue Ridge Parkway where we had sandwiches, chips, soda and freshly made ice cream (One batch of Butterfinger and one batch of Blackberry). A very nice trip.

The funniest thing that happened, though, occurred on our first full day there.

On that Sunday, Mrs. Mosley and I were in charge of fixing dinner for the whole family. We went to the Ingles grocery store (which is pretty much North Carolina's version of Publix) and stocked up on $80 worth of groceries (Big family). Mrs. Mosley elected to wait outside the store while I checked out.

Shortly after she exited, I noticed an older man, in his 60's or 70's, complaining over at the high customer service desk at the front of the store. His complaints were getting louder, until he was yelling at anybody and everybody working behind the high desk. The words were always the same: "I want my money back! Are you going to give me my money back?!" ad infinitum. The cashier and bagger that were handling my groceries started to chat about this guy (Pretty much everybody in the store at this point were either looking at him or doing their best to ignore him).

Over at the left entrance, I saw a police officer walk in and cross in front of me to where the old man was. Ten seconds later, a second police officer came through the same door and headed in the same direction. And then a third. And then a fourth. And then a fifth. And then a sixth. And then a seventh.

At this point, I stopped counting, which was about the time that the cashier had rung me up and handed me the receipt. I rolled the cart out, stealing a backward glance at the knot of men in blue centered at the customer service desk. When I met up with Mrs. Mosley outside, she asked what was going on inside and I explained to her about the old man. She described how she saw four police cruisers plus an unmarked police car (?!?!) drive up one at a time to the front of the store and disgorge what appeared to be the entire Transylvania County police force.

So the moral of this story? If you're looking to live in a place where the crime doesn't get any more serious than rowdy senior citizens, then Brevard might be for you.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Subtlety, thy name is Oliver Stone

I just finished watching The Doors last night on DVD for the first time. Director Oliver Stone also wrote the film along with Randall Jahnson. The first lines right after the opening credits end is an exchange between Jim Morrison (Val Kilmer) and a girl named Pamela Courson (Meg Ryan), whom he has followed from the beach to her second floor balcony by climbing up a tree.
Pamela: "Hi."

Jim: "Hi."

Pamela: "You got a problem with doors?"

Jim: "Waste of time."

I believe that piece of foreshadowing is now the second man-made object than can be seen from space.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Let us once more give thanks to the miracle of YouTube

Via Linkfilter is an article from the UK magazine Stylus, which has composed a list of the 100 greatest music videos. Certainly not a new concept, but I was pleased at some of the entries. Some highlights:

(93) Cake – "The Distance" - There's a slice of my post-college TV viewing past!

(82) Eminem – "My Name Is" - Still pretty damn funny. It also stands as one of two key points to figuring out what this white boy rapper had above previous white boy rappers than enabled him to surpass being a one hit wonder: the ability to mercilessly make fun of himself as well as others. The other key point being that Eminem is actually talented.

(74) Aphex Twin – "Come to Daddy" - After reading the brief review, I'm glad to discover that I'm not the only one to think this video is one of the freakiest, most disturbing things to have ever been filmed.

(53) Jamiroquai – "Virtual Insanity" - I'm proud to say that I figured out how the video was shot before I had even finished watching it for the first time.

(51) Pulp – "This Is Hardcore" - A favorite of mine for a long time, and very hard to describe, so I'll just re-post what the reviewer from Stylus said:

"From the opening footage of actors screen-testing, to lightning, pianos, murder scenes, 'SCENE MISSING,' men tied to chairs, sudden awareness of the crushing existential Void, resentful nurses, broken glass, red phones, file footage, driving, blood on pillows, dinner parties, 'you can't be a spectator, oh no,' a woman dancing with a photograph (the one moment of actual happiness), fistfights, heart attacks, deathbed utterances, swirling Jack O'Lanterns, Jarvis swanning down a line of Busby Berkeley dancers, and the 'and then it's over' as the camera pans away from the sets—if anything, the video improves on the noir/porno/PoMo/misanthropic dread of the song. The two have virtually nothing to do with each other, but that atmosphere of cracking up, of men made dangerous by their lack of real human contact, carries over. A lush, overripe, and completely seductive nightmare."
(50) Nine Inch Nails – "The Perfect Drug" - Classic Trent.

(47) Fatboy Slim – "Weapon of Choice" - I have to give props the reviewer on this one. Instead of just rehashing all the praise on Walken and his dancing that so many others have previously done, he also takes special note of the beginning and end parts of the film that make this such a great short story as well as music video.

(14) Beastie Boys – "Sabotage" - To me the video still looks like a lost "Kids in the Hall" sketch, but that doesn't make it any less cool.

(11) Fiona Apple – "Criminal" - Although I'm thrilled to see my favorite singer/songwriter this high up on the list, it's too bad it's for this particularly overplayed video that branded Apple with a jailbait image. "Paper Bag" kicks so much more ass than this one.

(02) Johnny Cash – "Hurt" - Trent pops up again, though in the most unlikely place. Cash's cover of this Reznor song was his final video. As much as I liked Walk the Line, I'm afraid this four minute video does a much better job at recapturing the emotion of this man's life than a two hour movie did. Heartbreaking.

(01) U.N.K.L.E. f/ Thom Yorke – "Rabbit in Your Headlights" - I had seen this video a grand total of once before seeing it on this list (Like many of the videos in the list, this one probably got a lot more play in Britain than here). Yet that one viewing remains in my memory, and I can understand why they made freaky this one number one.

And that's all for this week, folks. See ya Monday.

How do I get to the Screaming Monkey Medical Research Center?

These people have absolutely too much time on their hands (Via Metafilter):

Yet, having said that, it remains a friggin work of art. Bravo.

Doing Fannie Flagg proud

I'm sure stranger things have happened in a red, red state of the deep, deep south, but I can't think of any at the moment. Here's the story from earlier this week:

"Patricia Todd made history Tuesday when voters in Alabama's 54th legislative district voted to send the Democrat to the State House, marking the first time ever that legislature will include an openly gay Representative. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the nation's largest gay and lesbian political action committee, endorsed Todd and helped raise tens of thousands of dollars from its national network of donors to help fund her campaign. Todd has no Republican opponent in the general election in November."
I was very glad to read this, but I couldn't help some cynicism creep in: I doubt this would have happened with a male homosexual. The treatment of female homosexuality by the general populace seems to be more lenient than male homosexuality. I think this is mainly due to most straight people perceiving the former as harmless or, in many cases, arousing, while the later has often been seen as just plain icky.

And lest we think that the state might be turning around, I came across this article from a year ago on the CBS News site:
Republican Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen says homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle. As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, under his bill, public school libraries could no longer buy new copies of plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters.
Getting back to Fannie Flagg, that means that, if the bill had passed, none of her books could be added public school library collections. To all you folks in Alabama: I've taken a look at the prominent authors that hail from your neck of the woods, and Fannie Flagg is probably the best you got. Best for you not smother what little cultural beauty that manages to blossom from your state.

Thankfully, the bill died a very well-deserved death, and Fried Green Tomatoes can soldier on.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What he said ... about what they said

This is reposting, in its entirety, of a short entry over at Demagogue:
By now, you are aware that the House of Representatives voted yesterday to block federal judges from issuing rulings that relate to the Pledge of Allegiance's phrase "under God." I found this paragraph from the AP story quite ironic:

"Supporters argued that the 'under God' phrase, added to the pledge in 1954, was intrinsic to the nation's heritage and traditions and must be shielded from unelected judges."

I find it interesting that a phrase that has existed for only 52 of our nation's 230 years can be called "intrinsic" to America's heritage.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Skippy of the Day: Press Secretary Tony Snow

Here's Tony, reacting to a reporter's asking of why Bush would veto the stem cell research bill:

"The simple answer is he thinks murder is wrong."
Yes, Tony. Thank you for that. What a brave stance for the President to make. What is his next heroic pronouncement going to be? Kittens are cute?

Simple answers from a Simpleton.

Further down on the same Think Progress link above is this analysis:
An embryo is not a baby or even a fetus; it’s a cluster of about 150 cells, also known as a blastocyst, which forms a few days after the joining of a sperm and egg, and is no larger than the period at the end of this sentence. Stem cells are derived from the center of this cluster, and are like biological blank slates. They have the potential to become any of the 200 kinds of cells that make up the human body.
Or, for a related and more humorous description, refer to George Carlin:
See the really hard-core people will tell you that life begins at fertilization. Fertilization, when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Which is usually a few moments after the man says "Gee honey, I was going to pull out but the phone rang and it startled me." Fertilization. But even after the egg is fertilized, it's still 6 or 7 days before the egg reaches the uterus, and pregnancy begins, and not every egg makes it that far! 80% of a woman's fertilized eggs are rinsed and flushed out of her body once a month during those delightful few days she has. They wind up on sanitary napkins, and yet they are fertilized eggs! So basically what these anti-abortion people are telling us is that any woman who's had more than 1 period is a serial killer!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Skippy of the Day: George W. Bush

I'm Ba-ack!

I have some comments to make about my trip, but I'll get to those later in the week.

To briefly inaugurate my return to Acrentropy, I have an old fashioned "Skippy" post. Bush, once again, has managed to make an ass of himself in front of a live microphone, and Sky News has the transcript. Amongst all the stuff he says, profane or otherwise, I thought the most humorous was this one:
"I'm just going to make it up, right here - I'm not going to talk too damn long like the rest of them."
Yeah, George. People hate listening to some guy talk at length about something he knows a thing or two about. They much prefer some doofus talking off-the-cuff about a subject he barely knows the basics of.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Я буду назад

I'm off on vacation for the next week, folks. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a series of Scenes From Classic American Science Fiction Films In The Form Of Medieval Russian Illuminated Manuscripts (via Metafilter). Enjoy!

Finally, a solid connection between World War II and the War on Terror

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Understatement Of The Week (Via Blah3):

Ten years after Pentagon leaders toughened policies on extremist activities by active duty personnel -- a move that came in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing by decorated Gulf War combat veteran Timothy McVeigh and the murder of a black couple by members of a skinhead gang in the elite 82nd Airborne Division -- large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists continue to infiltrate the ranks of the world's best-trained, best-equipped fighting force. Military recruiters and base commanders, under intense pressure from the war in Iraq to fill the ranks, often look the other way.

Neo-Nazis "stretch across all branches of service, they are linking up across the branches once they're inside, and they are hard-core," Department of Defense gang detective Scott Barfield told the Intelligence Report. "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," he added. "That's a problem."

Most definitely in the running for The Understatement Of The Year.

Travis Bickle was better

As much as a movie fanatic as I am, there are some classics I really don't care for. One of these is The Searchers, so it's nice to see a bubble-bursting critique of this "classic" from Stephen Metcalf over at Slate:

Coming to The Searchers for the first time, I was surprised at how fidgeted-together this supposedly great film is, how weird its quilting is, of unregenerate violence with doltish comic set pieces, all pitched against Ford's signature backdrop, the buttes and spires of Monument Valley. Though visually magnificent, the movie is otherwise off-putting to the contemporary sensibility, what with its when men were men, and women were hysterics mythos and an acting style that often appears frozen in tintype. (Hank Worden's turn, as the lovable village idiot, is particularly gruesome in this respect.)
There's much more to be read on the other side of the link. Go have a read.

Incidentally, he neglects to mention the other source of "odious comic relief" (patent pending) in the film: John Wayne's sidekick, played by Jeffrey Hunter. Hunter is known to most people as Captain Pike, Commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise in the pilot episode of Star Trek before Shatner came along. When I first saw the pilot (before I saw The Searchers), I wondered how different the series might have been had Hunter remained on the show.

After I saw The Searchers, I could only marvel at the subtle restraint of Shatner's acting technique in comparison.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Alright. That's enough politics for one week.

Time to get back to what really makes life worth living: LEGO!

Incidentally, all of these creations are by a LEGO fanatic named Big-X, and I must say he's quite an artist with the bricks. Bravo.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Skippy of the Day: Apostle Alton R. Williams

It's a thick week for Skippies. Here's the story and here's the quote:

"I decree the spirit of conviction on this intersection," Mr. Williams boomed from a podium decorated with red, white and blue bunting. "This statue proves that Jesus Christ is Lord over America, he is Lord over Tennessee, he is Lord over Memphis."
"What statue would that be?" you may ask. Why, It's this statue:

Now, perhaps in this age of Bush and his discredited WMD claims, the burden of "proof" has sunk pretty low. So, to capitalize on this, I found some other statues over on Worth 1000 that "prove" some other things:

This statue proves that Peace and Marijuana are Lord over America.

This statue proves that Guns and Oil are Lord over America.

And this statue proves that three-layer cake and the bottomless cup of coffee are Lord over America. Personally, I prefer this last one, but unfortunately I don't have the authority or the deeply logical mind of Alton R. Williams.


"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." (George W. Bush, 09/13/01)

"I don't know where Bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." (George W. Bush, 03/13/02)

"The CIA has disbanded a unit set up in the 1990s to oversee the spy agency's hunt for Osama bin Laden and transferred its duties to broader operations that track Islamist militant groups, a U.S. intelligence official said on Tuesday." (Reuters, 07/04/06)
If there was one thing that Republicans, Democrats and pretty much every human being in America could agree on in the aftermath of 9/11, it was that we should do everything we can to capture Osama Bin Laden. Now this highest priority that would give every American a sense of closure with 9/11 has been discarded. Perhaps the reason for this is that Bush would rather let that open wound fester while he repeated jabs it with a stick. After all, it's how Republicans win elections.

But let's do a recap:

We're illegally taping phones and tracking bank records to fight the war on terror because of 9/11.

We're illegally detaining people and holding them without charge or legal representation for years on end to fight the war on terror because of 9/11.

We're illegally torturing people and breaking Geneva conventions to fight the war on terror because of 9/11.

HOWEVER, we are NOT looking for Osama Bin Laden anymore in order to fight the war on terror because of 9/11.

The official explanation we are getting for the disbanding of the CIA unit is that Osama Bin Laden is no longer currently in charge of larger operations. Does this mean that all those Nazi's who orchestrated the Jewish genocide and then hightailed it to South America should have just been let go because, hey, they're not killing people anymore.

Funny, I didn't think there was a statute of limitations on mass murder.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Skippy of the Day: House Majority Whip Roy Blunt

First, the back story:
A Christian-themed movie about a football coach's faith in God is finding an audience in Congress -- not so much for its inspirational message, but for the PG rating it received.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt and other lawmakers are demanding explanations after hearing complaints that the movie "Facing the Giants" was rated PG instead of G due to religious content.

A PG rating means parental guidance is suggested because the MPAA believes some material may not be suitable for children. A G rating means the MPAA has found the movie acceptable for all audiences.

The Motion Picture Association of America claims the controversy arose from a miscommunication with the filmmakers. It says religion was not the reason for the rating.

Now, the quote:

"This incident raises the disquieting possibility that the MPAA considers exposure to Christian themes more dangerous for children than exposure to gratuitous sex and violence," Blunt said in a letter to MPAA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Glickman.
Does Roy Blunt have a firm grasp of numbers and words or is he too busy trying to learn how to go potty by himself?

Break it down, folks. It's not hard. In order for this movie to be considered more dangerous than a film with sex and violence, to would have to have a rating that was more restrictive than said sex and violence film. As it is, it has a PG rating, which simply means "Parental Guidance suggested", not required. Specifically, it means:
"Explicit sex scenes and scenes of drug use are absent; nudity, if present, is seen only briefly, horror and violence do not exceed moderate levels."
Next level up? PG-13:
"Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. This signifies that the film rated may be inappropriate for pre-teens. Parents should be especially careful about letting their younger children attend. Rough or persistent violence is absent; sexually-oriented nudity is generally absent; some scenes of drug use may be seen; one use of the harsher sexually derived words may be heard."
Notice again that it does not restrict, but only cautions. Any children wanting to see a film that is PG or PG-13 will not be turned away by the heathen, calf-worshiping theater employees.

Next up is R, and here we get to the sex and violence:
"An R may be assigned due to, among other things, a film's use of language, theme, violence, sex or its portrayal of drug use."
Check it out, folks. It's on their website for everyone to see.

Irresponsible statements like these really infuriate me to no end. How do these people get elected when they are so careless with what they say and do?

And as for the specific issue of religious content garnering a PG, Roger Ebert (whom I hope is recuperating well after emergency surgery this weekend) said it best when responding to an equally idiotic letter writer from Concord, California. Here is the question and answer:
Q. The Motion Picture Association of America is warning parents of movies that contain a reference to the Christian faith, equating Christianity with sex, violence and profanity. The MPAA is controlled by Hollywood moguls known for their bitter opposition to Christianity. A new family film featuring miracles and a pro-God theme has earned the PG rating because it would offend non-believers.

"Facing the Giants" is the story of a Christian high school football coach who uses his undying faith to battle the giants of fear and failure. Due to the Christian content, the MPAA rated it PG, placing it in the same offensive category as sex, violence and profanity. The plot includes several prayers being answered, a medical miracle, and a mystic who delivers a message from God. The scene the MPAA found most offensive was a discussion between the football coach and a boy named Matt. The coach says the boy needs to stop bad-mouthing his father and get right with God.

The boy replies: "You really believe in all that honoring God and following Jesus stuff? Well, I ain't trying to be disrespectful, but not everybody believes in that."

The coach responds: "Matt, nobody's forcing anything on you. Following Jesus Christ is the decision that you're going to have to make for yourself. You may not want to accept it, because it will change your life. You will never be the same." That, says the MPAA, is very objectionable and parents need to be warned.

Tom Payne, Concord, Calif.

A. The PG rating does not permit sex, violence and profanity, so the MPAA is not equating that content with Christianity. The mild PG rating informs parents of young children that some of the material may be intended for more mature audiences. Assume for the sake of argument that the movie featured the coach telling the child, "Following Allah is the decision that you're going to have to make for yourself. You may not want to accept it, because it will change your life. You will never be the same." Would that be all right with you, or would that be an element you would want to be informed about? There is no official religion in this country. Not all parents are Christians, and the MPAA ratings should serve all parents.

Thanks, Roger. It's good to listen to sane man after all that.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

From Month to Week

Now that the Quote of the Month has been posted, allow me to second Blah3's nomination for Quote of the Week:
"If anyone held me incognito in a prison without charging me or givng me a trial, beat me, degraded me, interrogated me, after 5 years - if I wasn't dangerous when they put me in there, I'll guarantee I'd sure as f#&k be dangerous when I got out."

Forest Whitaker Quote of the Month: July 2006

Pret-a-Porter (or Ready to Wear for you French-phobic folks) is one of Robert Altman's lesser efforts. As with most of his films, it starts out looking very promising with a huge cast of recognizable faces. But all of those faces have only their own small subplots to deal with and little else. Though Altman made a similar scenario work with Short Cuts, it's not working here.

The trailer (which may or may not have been approved by Altman. I'm guessing the later) gives the impression that there is an overall story arc involving Julia Roberts, Tim Robbins and a murder mystery. Instead, Roberts and Robbins are stuck in their hotel room most of the film with little to do except get drunk and make out. And as for the murder, there is little mystery about it as the audience knows at the time it happens that it isn't murder but rather an accident. It's all a bit disappointing.

But at least we have Forest Whitaker to liven things up a bit. He plays a gay New York fashion designer named Cy Bianco who gets some great, bitchy lines. One of the very first involves his shock at fashion model Albertine (Ute Lemper) showing up for his show at about eight months into her pregnancy.

Cy - "Albertine, you could have called me."

Albertine - "I was in Germany."

Cy - "Oh, Oh, I am crazy, I am crazy! Or did the goddamn Germans invent the telephone?"