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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Deep Throat Blues (Updated)

Okay, it seems to just be me, but I didn’t care who Deep Throat was yesterday, and I don’t care that Mark Felt claims to be Deep Throat today. It doesn’t make the tiniest bit of difference in my world except to free up time for a bunch of obsessive amateur historians to find some other secret identity.

That is, of course, assuming that they all accept that Felt is Deep Throat. I smell conspiracy theorist heaven in this one…

Update: Nice to know I’m not the only one...

Out of Curiosity…

...was anyone really asking for a return of Rambo?

In a statement, Stallone said: “I’ve signed the deal and I have the old headband, machine gun and bow and arrow ready to go. I am looking forward to showing movie fans the real action hero again.”

Read the story.

Urgh. It Feels Like Monday

Sitting back down to a desk and a cube can be so dispiriting some days.

I’ll just leave it at that.

So, while I wade through emails and requests, I’ll point to something worth reading. Click on through.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Aviator: A Succinct Review

The g-phrase gave me the best short review possible of The Aviator. She said, “Howard Hughes is fascinating. Someone should make a good movie about him.”

That sums up The Aviator beautifully: a fascinating topic reduced to a boring, overly long, cartoon of a movie. Leonardo is kinda sorta almost good as Hughes, but the script is rambling (as most biopics are), and barely skims over the depth of the actual subject. Even worse is Kate Blanchett, a normally fine actress, as Katherine Hepburn. She nails the accent, but distracts with her over the top performance and slavish devotion to mimicking Hepburn’s speech patterns. Every time she hits the screen, the mind says, “Hey, there’s an actress acting like Katherine Hepburn. Huh. Good accent.” Very distracting.

The movie isn’t without its redeeming moments. Howard Hughes tells off Hepburn’s family in one of the movie’s funniest moments. Howard Hughes tells off a senator during congressional hearings during the film’s (surprisingly) most gripping scenes. Howard Hughes crashes an experimental plane into the side of a building and barely lives to talk about it. That’s about it, though.

Martin Scorcese cemented his place in my mind as an overrated, uneven director. Casino? Great stuff. Gangs of New York? Bland and overly long. Kundun? An interesting effort. Bringing Out the Dead? Overindulgent and cold. Goodfellas? Brilliant. The Last Temptation of Christ? Hideous.

I think you get the point.

I wanted to like The Aviator, but I couldn’t. It was a made for TV movie production with bigger names and a bigger budget.

Worth Consideration

From an Al-Qa’eda training manual, as represented in the book Voices of Terror, a wonderful collection of historic writings about terrorism, assassination, and guerilla warfare.

...Islamic governments have never and will never be established through peaceful solutions and cooperative councils. They are established as they [always] have been:

by pen and gun;

by word and bullet; and

by tongue and teeth.

If you are curious about the justifications and goals of terrorists through the ages, I recommend this book highly. There is little in the way of editorializing, but the texts speak for themselves.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Daily Drudge in a Nutshell (for Some Reason)

Scanning the Drudge Report headlines today, I actually found some interesting stuff. Which is good since today is a “I really would rather think as little as possible today” kind of day, if you take my meaning.

Anyway, the useful Drudge:

1. A quick guide to Bush-speak. As a sort of guide to what Bush means when he says things like, “We’re making progress,” I think Judy Keen pretty much gets it right.

2. Chirac is planning to ignore the No vote on the EU constitution? And people call President Bush arrogant.

Update: For a view of why Americans should be pulling for the French to vote no, you might want to read this. A sample:

As Rosemary Righter of the Times of London explained this week in The Wall Street Journal, the constitution “will greatly extend the EU’s reach into almost all economic activity and even social policy . . . To describe this as a United States of Europe is too modest. Already, the unelected Brussels bureaucracy draws up more than half the legislation coming before national parliaments. Under the constitution the powers of the union would greatly exceed those of the U.S. federal government over American states.”

3. Why are we already talking about Hillary? That decision is a long way off, no one knows who will be running against her, and when conservatives start seeing her ideas, they won’t be voting for her. I read, recently, a person who asked this question: “How bad could Hillary be?” Hillary could be as bad as her ideas for nationalized health care. She could be as bad as her husband on meaningful military leadership. She has the baggage of being a Clinton, the odd and uncomfortable feeling of a cock-eyed dynasty since her hubby already served two terms, and she would also usher in a second era of Bill. Really, folks, who’s been asking for Bill to come back to the light?

All the speculation is a waste for at least another year. When the campaigning starts, the reality of Hillary’s negatives will be out in full light; she’s polling well now because people aren’t really paying that much attention.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Episode IV.V

If, in spite of Revenge of the Sith, you haven’t gotten enough of Star Wars then check out Star Wars Episode IV.V, The Unknown Discoverm from 21 Productions. You won’t, ummm, be disappointed kids. (I think.)

Shhh…

Can you hear that?

That’s the sound of a long weekend coming up. Phew. I know I need it.

In Case You Were Wondering (The Musical Edition)

"Heartbreak Hotel,” Elvis Presley.

Just so you know.

Why the Schools Won’t Change

Nearly every day I hear a new story from the g-phrase about her kids at school. It’s a rare occasion that the story has a happy ending. I hear about the kids, the families, the school administration, the constant testing, and the hazards of being a public, elementary school teacher.

After a few years of watching this from the sidelines, my view on schools has changed drastically.

I’m of the opinion that most of America’s schools (at least in places like the Denver-metro area) are fine. They are decently funded, staffed with people who care about kids and teaching, and filled with kids who are, well, kids. They do well some days and poorly others. Learning may not always be a passion, but it’s an accepted duty. Most of the kids will grow up to be decent people. I’m honestly not worried about most of the schools and most of the kids.

But the failing schools can’t be fixed and I’m not entirely sure that issuing vouchers (which I still, cautiously, support) will help solve the problem. The problems could be fixed if people would stop focusing on all the bits that surround the core of the difficulties, but, instead, liberals and conservatives have chosen to dance around the real issues.

Conservatives focus on standards, testing, and fixing responsibility on failing schools and teachers. The liberals focus on pay, funding for special programs, and the re-shaping of teaching theories that make up a sort of self-help business porn for educators. All these things matter, but they represent neither the largest challenge nor the best fix.

Educators are an insular, defensive lot. They don’t like criticism from the outside, they don’t like suggested solutions that don’t come from one of their own, they follow teaching trends the way some CEOs follow management trends, and they, as a group, oppose anything that challenges their liberal orthodoxy. They aren’t the problem, either; I would say that most of the teachers that I have met have been intelligent, good people who do their jobs at least competently.

Teacher unions are worse. Under the cover of fighting for the good of the children, they often seem to fight against changes that might actually benefit the kids. See, the unions don’t exist to help kids; they exist to help teachers. They make it hard to get rid of the bad teachers, they make it harder to implement performance-based pay scales (which, incidentally, only helps the marginal and bad educators and punishes the best teachers), and won’t stand for anything that might take funding away from the public schools even if that money then flows to better performing private schools in the form of vouchers. In that sense, they are much like the auto unions who oppose closing any manufacturing plants even when a company no longer needs the manufacturing capacity; the union protects jobs at the expense of the company which, ultimately, results in even more lost jobs when the company stumbles.

But, no, they aren’t the problem, either. Part of a problem that keeps schools from performing as well as they should, without a doubt, but not the basic problem that, unless it is successfully addressed, will keep failing schools from ever being meaningfully reformed.

Read the Rest...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

American Idol: And the Winner Is…

...the wrong person.

Just sayin’.

On the plus side, maybe Bo won’t have to sing any of their crappy songs when he does get around to releasing an album.

Lord, Carrie’s brand new single sucks.

American Idol: Let the Suckiness Begin

They’ve invited back all the losers to sing to us tonight.

Bastards are trying to ruin my love of the Beach Boys. And they might actually acomplish the goal. I say again: bastards.

They even brought back whiny-bitch girl and the Constantine longing hobbit glances. I say again: bastards.

The really funny part is that I’m going to sit here watching and eating pizza with the g-phrase for the next two hours. I am doing this just to find out which of two marginal talents will be crowned the American Idol. Please, feel free to kick me.

Sith Sense

Totally awesome, dude.

It’s true, there is no resisting the dark side. Darth proved he da man when from out of nowhere he guessed sunglasses. I probably should have thought of something like underwear.

(h/t Ace of Spades)

You know who your friends are

So, I’m in my office and feel the call of nature (number 1 if you must know). I walk down the stairs, past 1/3 of all the employees who work in our company, into the bathroom and close the door. I reach down to unzip my fly, and instead of my fingers grabbing hold of my zipper… Shock and horror is about all I can say. Then the flood of memories of how this is my first trip to the “room” today, how I’ve been running around the building all day long, talking with people, helping them with their computers, and not one damn one of them even giggled and started counting how many horses had left the barn.

At least I was wearing clean underwear. Which is an accomplishment. You see, I didn’t do laundry this weekend. And, if I don’t do it tonight, well, let’s just say I hope I don’t forget to pull up my fly tomorrow morning.

Jerry Rice is Coming to Denver

In a move that I actually like, the Broncos are bringing in an ancient wide receiver. Jerry Rice is definitely a few steps removed from his best years, but he should compete well for the fourth slot--and, hopefully, he’ll help some of our younger receivers learn to do their jobs a little bit better.

A week of speculation inside and outside the walls of Broncos headquarters ended Wednesday when Jerry Rice told the team that he would play for the club in 2005, agreeing to terms and providing another twist to an eventful offseason that has seen the Broncos acquire four former first-round picks and make perhaps the most talked-about draft selection with the choice of running back Maurice Clarett.

Nice move, guys.

Read the story.

Random Insults, #2

May a rodent make your face spew bastard vital organs, you cancerous ugly dunce!

And in other news, the Xbox 360 will be running an OS derived from Win2k and ported to the PowerPC. How cool is that? The /. geeks are having a sort of predictable /. kind of conversation on the subject.

I’m pretty sure I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Shout at the FCC

Mötley Crüe has discovered the heretofore unknown Right to Play on National Television portion of the Constitution.

In the latest twist in the broadening battle over decency standards, the glam-metal band Mötley Crüe filed suit against NBC yesterday. The suit states that the network violated the group’s free-speech rights and weakened its sales by banning it after Vince Neil, the lead singer, used an expletive on the air in a Dec. 31 appearance on “The Tonight Show.”
[...]
The band, known for 1980’s hits like “Shout at the Devil” and “Girls, Girls, Girls,” is requesting a ruling that NBC’s ban is unconstitutional, a court order forcing the network to lift it, and unspecified financial damages tied to the band’s reduced media exposure.

“We meant no harm, but it feels that we’re being singled out unfairly,” said Nikki Sixx, the band’s bassist. “This is a discrimination issue, pure and simple. All we’ve ever asked is to be treated like everybody else, which is why we’re taking this action.”

Well, jeez, I can understand that. Since everybody else gets to appear on NBC, the Crüe boys should feel a little miffed. I wonder when I’ll be getting my fifteen minutes?

Their suit is idiocy. Whatever we might, individually feel about the FCC’s heavy hand, and whatever we might think of NBC’s decision, the simple fact is that the network managers have a right to choose who does and does not go on the air. There is nothing illegal about not inviting a band to play on a TV show and no one’s constitutional rights are being violated when they don’t get network air time.

Stupid, crappy, has-been band.

Read the story.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

American Idol: Bo’s to Lose?

Just walked in to the apartment in time to catch Bo’s first song.

Let’s just say he better hope that he does better from here. Was it the nerves? Was it the song? Was it the sunglasses? Whatever it was, his performance, both vocally and in stagecraft, was weak. He ended reasonably well, but he dug himself a hole early and didn’t quite pull himself out.

Randy: “Bad news and good news.” He didn’t like the song, but he sure likes Bo.
Paula: Blah blah blah. Only good things to say.
Simon: “A very dreary song.”

Carrie Underwood is up next. Ouch. Whatever bad will Bo earned in that last song just got paid back with this performance. She sounded absolutely horrible. Dreadful. Nasty. Off. Wrong. She didn’t fit in with the choir well, she tried to hard, she just sounded bad.

Ouch. That was almost as torturous as the Saddam photo in the previous entry.

Randy: He struggled a good bit more to find something nice to say. He did it, but I think he was being overly nice.
Paula: Blah blah blah. Back to the non-critical Paula with nothing interesting to say.
Simon: He liked the song better than Bo’s song. He gives round 1 to her. I can accept that, although I’d note that it wasn’t about which one reached higher, but rather which one sank the furthest.

Round two goes below the fold.

Read the Rest...

Crossing the Line

Torture. That’s the only word to describe the latest Saddam photo to be published.

It’s torture, and I won’t stand for it.

What to Make of This…

I’m going to wait and see what else develops in this story before I comment fully, but I am curious how the actions of the people involved might be justified.

Corbin said he estimated about 50 people had gathered at Jackson’s All-American Sports Grill, 10710 Westminster Blvd., at 2 p.m. for a meeting in a reserved room toward the back of the restaurant. Corbin said he invited Terry Graham, a Boulder resident, to speak at the gathering. Corbin characterized the group as primarily conservative and in favor of strict immigration controls. 

It was during Graham’s comments that Corbin said the assistant manager of the restaurant motioned him over. 

“He said, ‘You got to shut this down and leave immediately,’ “ said Corbin. 
[...]
About 25 people in the group decided to continue the meeting at nearby Christopher Fields, at 104th Avenue. 

At about 4:30 p.m., 45 minutes after the group had arrived, Westminster police officer Tim Torres approached the group and asked everyone to leave. 

Corbin said Torres told the group that “this as an inappropriate place for that and that you have to leave. He made us leave and we left. He was very stern about it.”

I’m irritated by the management of the restaurant, but I’m disturbed by the actions of the law enforcement officer. Telling a group of citizens in a public park that it was inappropriate for them to be discussing politics sounds more than a little out of line to me.

While my views on immigration policy differ strongly from many of my conservative friends, this story could stand watching.

Read the story.

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