Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Care for a magazine, Lance?

After being asked the question by this ad so many damn times, I'm going to finally answer:

Yes. I am tired of seeing this same picture that looks like Lance Armstrong sitting on the can.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Where is Sam Houston when you need him?

I was going to say something about the whole Texas idiocy going on this week, but Kos says it better than I can with his list of questions for the would-be secessionists:
Are you flying an American flag? Because you don't get to do that when you cry and take your ball home.

Do you have a bumper sticker that says, "These colors don't run"? Because it sure looks like you're running.

Do you still pretend that your party is the "Party of Lincoln"? If so, what part of Lincoln exactly, would that be?

Since you've spent the last eight years saying "America, love it or leave it", is that an admission that you don't love America? Because we liberals? We loved it and stayed, even when your idiot of a president was trashing the place.

Was your patriotism (My country, right or wrong) so skin-deep, that it depended 100 percent on the guy in the White House?

That $200 billion Texas got in defense contracts between 2000 and 2007? No more of that. No more Ft. Hood. No more NASA. No more federal largesse. You okay with that?

You do realize that the Cowboys will no longer be "America's Team", right? Though they'd dominate the two-team Texas Football League (TFL).

Maybe he knows about stargates, too.

I've been busy most of the week interacting with our new yard guy, who is spiffing up our depressing yard quite well. He pointed to the Bugs-Bunnyish line of lifted earth on the lawn yesterday, and I told him we had had moles in the yard for quite a while. He then instructed me how you can kill a mole with... a single piece of Wrigley's spearmint gum.

Funny, he didn't look like MacGyver.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thank you Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister Dot).

I really, really didn't need to hear about this:
Until now. The recent launch of the Warner Archive Collection could well portend a revolution; it's DVD on demand, a way for Warner (and, one hopes, for every other studio) to make movies available without spending the $75,000 to $100,000 it costs to release an old title into an ominously contracting marketplace. Here's how it works: Go to the archive and browse the titles. Click on the ones you want, and for $19.95 apiece, they'll burn a DVD-R and ship you the movie in a standard plastic case with cover art. There are no extras except the trailer, if it's available; there isn't even scene-by-scene chaptering. But you will get the film, shown in the correct aspect ratio and with a picture and soundtrack of mostly high quality. Virtually none of the movies in this collection has been available on DVD before. Many never even made it to VHS.

So far, there are only 150 titles, but Warner plans to expand the archive by at least 20 selections a month, drawing from the 5,600-odd unreleased titles (including a huge number of vintage RKO and MGM movies) in its 6,800-film library. George Feltenstein, the studio's senior vice president for theatrical catalog marketing, says that orders for the films have already exceeded his expectations. When I asked him how many movies Warner ultimately hopes to make available, he replied without hesitation: "All of them. People have asked for these movies. Somebody wants to see the Lupe Velez Mexican Spitfire pictures. There are people who have been waiting for the Ruby Keeler/Dick Powell musicals that Busby Berkeley didn't make."

For movie lovers, this is heaven. Anybody can adequately take the measure of a century of film by leapfrogging across decades, countries, and genres from one masterpiece to another, and this is pretty much how we all do it, Netflixing our way through the Criterion Collection (great, but not for American movies) or checking off Oscar nominees from decades past (great, but only as a barometer of what people thought was great at the time). But movie history is also written in what happened between the great movies—in the ambitious and the mundane, the half-hearted and the forgotten, the unjustly overlooked and the justly dismissed.

My introductory comment was a bit melodramatic. In reality, I'm giddy at this news. Not so much that I'm going to go out and blow a wad of money on these titles (oh, maybe just one or two), but that Warner actually did an incredibly smart thing by offering these the way they are.

It's one thing for a blockbuster movie to be pressed into millions and millions of DVD copies for people to rent and buy. It's another to do the same for movie very few people have ever even heard of. Hell, even the blockbusters get over-produced (witness how many copies of Semi-Pro are in the Blockbuster bargain bins with no one buying them).

So this movie-by-demand direct from the studio is a brilliant idea. They don't go through the expense of mass production but do it piece by piece, which is manageable in the small volume they'll probably receive by folks like me. No, they don't have any extras and they aren't digitally remastered within an inch of their lives, but they are available. That's the point.

It's a beautiful thing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

MTV has heard our prayers

One year and ten days after I made my plea, the news has finally come down from on high: The State is coming to DVD:

Cassandra McCain

Meghan McCain speaks to the Log Cabin Republicans (via Think Progress):
What I am talking about tonight is what it means to be a new, progressive Republican. Now some will say I can't do that. If you aren't this and that, then you're clearly a "Republican in Name Only." Also affectionately known as a RINO. Suggesting the notion that one can be faithful to the original core values of the GOP while open to the realities of our changing world has really hit a chord with people. And it seems to be the next, natural stage of the journey I've been traveling.

It would be easy to say my generation views politics very differently from others. Maybe we're more progressive, socially liberal or just hate arguing in lieu of actually solving the problems at hand. But what I've learned though my experiences is that these feelings are not contained to one age group. They're the growing beliefs and desires of people of all ages, races, genders, faiths, persuasions and political parties.

So tonight, I am proud to join you in challenging the mold and the notions of what being a Republican means. I am concerned about the environment. I love to wear black. I think government is best when it stays out of people's lives and business as much as possible. I love punk rock. I believe in a strong national defense. I have a tattoo. I believe government should always be efficient and accountable. I have lots of gay friends. And yes, I am a Republican.

I commend her on her words, but her efforts can go only one of two ways: Either she is truly a prophet of how the Republican party will resurrect themselves, or she'll be ostracized out of the party by the big wigs and she'll take people like Log Cabin Republicans with her.

Either outcome is fine by me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wow. I just found a reason to rent Ballisitc: Ecks vs. Sever.

It's the season for Matrix flashbacks on the web. Recently, XKCD marked the occasion of the film's 10th anniversary (10th?!?!?!?) and just yesterday, the score from Trinity's introductory scene came up on my MP3 player's shuffle.

Which made me think of Don Davis. He's the composer that created the orchestral score for the film. It's always been my belief that some of the greatest directors simply wouldn't be nearly as effective in many of their films without their talented composers. Hitchcock and Herrmann. Spielberg and Williams. The Coen Brothers and Carter Burwell (though Carter didn't have a heck of a lot to do in No Country for Old Men). Similarly, as visually innovative as the original Matrix was, I've always considered the score to also be a big part of the film's effectiveness.

So I went looking on IMDb to see what else Don Davis been doing. The answer is, outside of the Matrix sequels and other Matrix-related projects, not a hell of a lot. The biggest films he's done in the past ten years are Behind Enemy Lines, Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever and The Marine. Of the three, I've only seen the first, which was not that memorable (though I remember that it did ironically include a bullet time-esque sequence). The other two are not highly regarded, one being based on a video game and the other featuring a pro wrestler in his first starring role.

Good lord, people. Somebody in Hollywood hire this guy! I'm sure he's capable of doing wonders for films that don't involve Keanu Reeves in a trenchcoat.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The irrefutable logic of a wingnut

From CNN coverage of the tea bagging parties across the country (via Crooks and Liars):
Wingnut: He's a fascist.

Roesgen: Why do you say he's a fascist? He's the President of the United States. Do you realize how offensive that is?

Wingnut: I think he's a fascist.

Roesgen: Why?

Wingnut: Because he is.

Yeah, there's a true denizen of Dubya: Why go with reasoned argument and well-presented evidence when you can go with that gut feeling of yours. Hell, it worked in Iraq, didn't it?

It reminds me of my favorite Onion article. The picture of the counterpoint guy has that perfect look of Bill O'Reilly-esque smugness.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What a creative use of Duplo!

Such a find as this must be terribly conflciting for my wife, being that she both loves the bible and hates psychadeila. May I present The Brick Testament's inevitable treatement of The Book of Revelation:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Skippy of the Day: Spencer Bachus

From Think Progress:
While touring his district yesterday, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, declared that 17 of his House colleagues "are socialists", according to the Birmingham News:

But he said he is worried that he is being steered too far by the Congress: "Some of the men and women I work with in Congress are socialists."

Asked to clarify his comments after the breakfast speech at the Trussville Civic Center, Bachus said 17 members of the U.S. House are socialists.

Wait! It's 207! No, It's not! It's 104! No, Wait a minute! It's 275!

I don't want to make too much of his last name, but I think he's hitting the sauce (Heinz 57, that is).

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Calling Christian Slater's Mom

Coming Soon announced that two of the roles in the big Clash of the Titans remake have been cast. Liam Neeson will play Zeus and Ralph Fiennes will play Hades.

Listen, they're both great actors and I'm sure they'll both do a great job, but could they have come up with something more imaginative than Aslan vs. Voldemort? Why don't they just re-title it Schindler's List II: The Reckoning?

Come on, casting directors! Where's that old against-type casting of yore like Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West? Let's see Jack Nicholson as Zeus and Tom Hanks as Hades. That'll make sure we get our ten bucks worth!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Announcing Alonzo's Contest


Just a brief word about the nonsensical anti-gay marriage ad that's making the news (No, I'm not linking to it. Go through the Metafilter link below to find it).

Mrs. Mosley's mother has a standard response to anyone who states, "I don't have time to do it." Her response is, "No, you do have time, it's just that you're devoting that time to other things that you deem more important." In other words, it's a matter of prioritization over time.

That being said, allow me to report a comment by NavelGazer over at the Metafilter thread:
When I was working at a Nola Law Clinic this summer, there was this church-affiliated group who came by once a week with a van full of food (sandwich materials, chips, fruit and the like) to give us a free lunch for our volunteer efforts. Apparently they did this with volunteer groups all over town. They never tried to preach to us, just called ahead to make sure nobody wasted money on lunch that day, fed us, joked with us, and cheered us on for our efforts. They didn't have much money, but they did what they could. And they did this all over town, in a town that needed it's old sense of community back more than anything.

Now I'm an athiest, but I'm not going to shit on good people walking the walk of their Christianity. The world is a little bit better for having that group of Christians in it.

NOM, on the other hand, is very well-funded, and uses its considerable endowment to spread fear and hate, and even there they seem to know that there's no true foundation for it. Being intentionally vague about what rights are being taken away is only a tactic you use if you know you don't have real examples. So not only are they bigoted and full of shit - they know they're bigoted and full of shit. These aren't Christians by any definition I'll give credence to, because true Christians help their community instead of trying to divide it.

When these folks get down to it, when they look at the time and resources that they have at their disposal, do they really think that Jesus would have done the same?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Trouble with Eli

Quentin Tarantino's last project was the Grindhouse movie double feature. Of the two films, he directed the better one, Death Proof. It was an awesome film that managed to build some likable characters (well, after the Psycho-esque switch halfway through) that were led into some genuine terror and thrills.

While doing his traditional cameo, Quentin brought along another director with him: Hostel's auteur Eli Roth. And when I say auteur, I don't mean that sarcastically. I thought the first Hostel was also a damn fine film that tapped into that deep seated fear Americans have of venturing too far off the trail when travelling abroad. It's an old story, but he brought some new heart-pounding life to it.

But there's always the problem of going back to the well too often. Hostel II had some intriguing qualities, but just didn't do it for me overall. That doesn't seem to stop Eli, though. He seems to be just getting started with this material.

Which brings us back to Tarantino and his next opus, Inglorious Basterds.

The trailer plays like Hostel 1944. And it doesn't help matters that noticeably presiding over the trailer, with a gleeful and malevolent smirk on his face is Eli himself.

Apparently, Eli's character was originally intended for, of all people, Adam Sandler. A schedule conflict prevented this, so Tarantino tapped his friend Roth for the plumb roll. And though the IMDb lists Roth's involvement only as an actor, I can't watch the trailer and not help feel it's got his fingerprints all over it. And though I love Tarantino's work, I'm a bit put off by the unabashed joy-through-sadism feel of it.

Yes, I know what Grindhouse is and I know that sadism was part of the essential equation, but I still think Tarantino could have gone in another direction and still made a great WWII film that is essentially his and essentially Grindhouse.

I may change my mind on this point, but I know my enthusiasm for this film (which began when Tarantino first started talking about it years and years ago) has ebbed quite a bit.

Monday, April 06, 2009

FOX News attacks dead Presbyterian Minister!

Still hard at work both at home and at... well, work.

In absence of actual content, here's something you should ruminate over and let sink in: FOX & Friends just did a piece that called Mr. Rogers "evil". And, apparently, their viewers agreed.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Roscoe Lee Browne Quote of the Month: April 2009

The Comedians is first and foremost a Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton vanity project. Unfortunately, it's a lot closer in quality to Boom! than Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? (In fact, it does appear that their joint projects did mark a specific decline in quality when one looks at them chronologically).

The material, based on a Graham Greene novel, is certainly worthy. It's just that the political statements get all mushed up with the potboiler love story and one is left extremely bored. The only solid thing one takess away from it is the conviction that no one should ever visit Haiti... ever.

Which is why the final words of Petit Pierre, the friendly journalist played by Browne in the film, are so bittersweet as he says farewell to a couple of Americans at the docks.

Petit Pierre: "I hope you have enjoyed our lovely country."

Mr. Smith: "It has been very illuminating."

Petit Pierre: "'Parting is a little death,' one of our poets said. You come here. We make friends. You go away. So seldom in Port-au-Prince we see our friends return"

Mrs. Smith: "One day, perhaps."

Petit Pierre: "I always hope."