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Friday, September 30, 2005

Another Serenity Post

I’m sitting here, using my new (used) iBook (purchased this week to replace the sad, lamented, irritatingly deceased Gateway 5300), leaching off of a wireless, high speed network somewhere in the neighborhood of the g-phrase’s townhome, and watching Firefly.

Cool.

Anyway, while I’m still enjoying Joss Whedon’s baby, I noticed that McGehee has a review.

Cool.

An Unfriendly Message

Here’s an unfriendly message to the woman, somewhat miraculously, took up three parking spaces in the small parking lot of a 7-11. With three little kids in tow, a little parenting isn’t out of the question, is it?

As I stood in line, waiting for the lottery hawks to buy their way into a somewhat uneasy retirement plan, those three kids wandered the store with, to be generous, a bare minimum of guidance. Poking bags of chips, knocking stuff from shelves, backing into and bouncing off of other patrons--and all the while, this woman with a severe parking problem completely ignored their actions.

Here’s the message:

Where did you get so amazingly arrogant as to believe that the rest of the world should babysit your kids? The only possible explanation for allowing them to run around without supervision is that you expect the other responsible adults in the store to make sure that the kids are safe and relatively non-destructive.

I don’t have kids for a reason, but, even if I did, I wouldn’t want to be a babysitter for yours.

And if someone does take the time to tell one of those little brats to suggest that they clean up after themselves by putting a bag of chips back on the shelf, don’t glare at the adult as if they’ve done something wrong. See, I don’t subscribe to the idea that it takes a village to raise a kid; I’m pretty firmly entrenched in believing that it’s good parenting that really does the trick.

But absent good parenting, it helps to have someone say “no”, “stop”, or “mind your manners” on occasion.

So, yeah, here’s the supplemental message of the day: fuck you, learn how to park your car, and keep your kids on a leash if you can’t find any other decent parenting strategies.

Holy Drunk Chicks!

It’s the return of Anna Nicole!

I’m a happy boy.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I Never Could…

...Get the hang of Thursdays.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

8 Years?

Isn’t that, like, 96 in blogging years?

Congratulations, Trench, and keep up the good work. That’s an impressive run--I can only hope that I make it that long.

The Childish Sheehan

Why is it useless to meet with and talk with Cindy Sheehan? Because she can credit no good will to the people who disagree with her. If the answer isn’t the one that she wants, it isn’t because someone else has different beliefs or conclusions, but that they are lying to her, that they are somehow misleading her.

Take her reaction to her recent meeting with John McCain:

“He tried to tell us what George Bush would have said,” Sheehan, who protested at the president’s Texas home over the summer, told reporters. “I don’t believe he believes what he was telling me.”

Hers is a childish position: an actual conversation isn’t even possible and no answer but utter capitulation will make her happy. Unless Bush or any other supporter of the war were to admit that it was all an exercise in wealth generation for the oil industry and an act of naked imperialistic aggression, she won’t be satisfied--all because she cannot credit dissent as coming from a principled position.

It’s like watching a cranky two year-old who tells you what she wants but won’t be satisfied no matter what she gets. It’s a useless endeavor, really, and the best you can do is hope that they grow out of their behavior as soon as possible.

Read the story.

As a Christian and as a Republican…

...Can I tell you just how embarassing this is to me?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Serenity

Serenity Graphic

Serenity achieves something that I wasn’t sure was possible: it should end up appealing to fans of the show Firefly as much as it does to people who didn’t even know that it was derived from an unfortunately short-lived TV show. The early exposition is kept to a minimum and even provides a little bit of background that will keep the fans happy, and, with just that tiny bit of fuss, the viewer is launched into Joss Whedon’s Western-tinted science fiction world.

The plot is fairly typical: fugitives from a secretive, scary government are sheltered by a group of (mostly) good-hearted outlaws. The group is hunted across the galaxy and share wild adventures. But that isn’t the half of it.

The script is smart and funny and quick-witted, the characters are sharply drawn, and it manages a few emotional tugs along the way (tugs that will be enhanced for fans of the show). From the very beginning, there are surprises and the action moves with impressive intensity. This movie is, almost literally, one that will have the crowd sitting on the edge of the seat, eyes wide, and wondering what’s going to happen next. This is good stuff.

For as action packed as it is--and the action makes the thing move fast--it never seems stupid or gratuitous. In fact, some of the more casual and brutal violence makes the most sense in the context of the story. It isn’t overly bloody, it isn’t sickening, and it isn’t over-the-top; it’s a movie where the violence simply makes sense.

The characters--from Jayne with his hilarious, mercenary self-interest to River with her mysterious past and to the Captain, Mal, with his conflicted worldview--all bring something unique and interesting to the show. They never feel like stock characters that would fill out any other script or story--they are a product of Whedon’s well-conceived universe.

Sure, there are a few moments where the sets feel like sets and the special effects don’t rise far above Firefly’s (admittedly solid) TV type effects. For that matter, some of the Old West meets space opera dialog stumbles as it tries to rise above affectation. But those are minor quibbles about a movie that feels this fresh, this fun, this exciting, and this surprising.

This one deserves a big following and the hope that Whedon either brings the TV show back to life or gives us a few more feature films to keep us happy. Brave the crowds and go see this one soon--it’s worthy of the big screen adaptation.

Others:
The Vodka Pundit view.
Instapundit.
Internet Freedom Trail (where the writer hadn’t seen Firefly).
Combs Spouts Off has a great review.
Booklore.
Misplaced Keys has what can only be described as a very happy review.
TBOTCOTW has a great review, too. After the movie I had dinner with Matt, his lovely wife, and a few other companions. You really shoulda been there.
Dorkafork (another of the dinner companions) has his own review with bits that border on spoilers but don’t quite go over the edge. And, if you look carefully enough, he also has this:

He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal on a three hour tour.  A three hour tour.”

Which made me giggle.
Roger Fraley gives a good review, too.
VOLuntarily Conservative
The wonderfully named Doc in the Box.
BizzyBlog
I told you that Phil was going to do a review.
The wildly neglected Bad State of Gruntledness (who has decent taste in movies, booze, music, and wives (or should that be singular?)) has a review that almost has a spoiler. Almost.

Note: I’m doing what I can to weed out the reviews that contain full on spoilers. The movie deserves better and so does the audience.

Interlude

I wasn’t planning to post anything until later this evening--and this still doesn’t count since it is, essentially, calorie-free content--but I had to share this with the class:

Jeez, I can’t believe how many people have been coming through after searching for ”Meatnormous.” Apparently, the country is pretty fond of the Burger Kind “Meatnormous” ads.

Freaky.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday Night Football: Broncos v/ Chiefs in Review

Chiefs fans are wondering whether their team is really that vulnerable and Broncos fans are wondering how the team that could lose so ugly to the Dolphins. The Broncos won 30-10, but the game was even more lopsided than the score indicates.

The Broncos’ defense was overpowering throughout the night and Trevor Pryce, in particular, made the Chiefs’ offensive line look horrible. No matter where Pryce lined up, no matter who he lined up against, he was getting through and pressuring the quarterback. Even after Bailey left the game early in the second half, the Broncos maintained pressure and coverage--by the end of the game, the Chiefs just looked tired and frustrated.

On offense, the only real standout player was Rod Smith who was catching every ball that came his way--at least until he was knocked out of the game in the second half. Broncos fans are hoping that what looked like a KO and a concussion doesn’t end up being a serious injury--a hard helmet-to-helmet hit (not a dirty hit, just one of those things that happens in the flow of the game) left him sprawled out and unmoving for a few minutes.

But even without a lot of standout players, the Broncos’ offense moved the ball well, scored regularly, and had the Chiefs facing a 17-0 deficit by the end of the first quarter.

So, are the Broncos as good as they looked tonight? Will they be able to win on the road? How bad are the injuries to Bailey and Smith? A game like this feels great to watch--and then the reality sits in: what, precisely, did this game mean?

Whatever the answer, tonight the Broncos dominated tonight.

Monday Night Football: Broncos v/ Chiefs

So, yeah, that’s not a bad way for the Broncos to start the game.

Boobs for Peace?

Someone explain how this is supposed to help bring about peace in our time? (See, in particular, picture 55773165).

I mean, it certainly won’t be overwhelming us with the awesome beauty of nature. In fact, I find myself having to fight off the angry urge to claw my eyes from their sockets, which I don’t think was the goal of the topless protest.

But if the weeping women of exceptional droopage think that this is how they can convince the world to take them seriously, who am I to judge? If I were actually enjoying the view, I’m sure that I’d be missing the point, but since I seem to have missed the point anyway, I’d much rather be enjoying the experience.

Thanks, Former Blogger Patrick. Sort of.

You Learn Things When People Die

When a celebrity dies, you learn things about them that somehow get lost in the shuffle during their lives. Don Adams, so hilarious on Get Smart had a more interesting history than I would have guessed:

In 1941, he dropped out of school to join the Marines. In Guadalcanal he survived the deadly blackwater fever and was returned to the States to become a drill instructor, acquiring the clipped delivery that served him well as a comedian.

Maxwell Smart was a Marine. There is something shocking about that.

Read the obituary.

Update: More.

Serenity Not Quite Now

But Serenity Soon.

Very soon.

So, I Have to Wonder…

...Who will be talking smack after the Monday Night Football game tonight? Will it be Zombyboy, the Denver Bronco lovin’ faux undead guy, or will it be Nathan, the Chiefs-lovin’ sinophile?

Good Drug, Bad Drug

It was at a party where an angry anti-war type confronted me about the drug trade in Afghanistan that I discovered a really great idea: make the Afghan drug trade into something legal and positive for the country. Instead of funding a drug war that would be, probably, about as successful as our other drug wars, instead of throwing money at a fight that would target the only reliable economic driver in a country that desperately needed money and industry, we should legitimize that industry and use it to help re-build the country.

My version had tax credits as incentives for pharma companies to source their opiates through some as yet unnamed and uncreated Afghani bureau of Good Drug Development. I won’t pretend to be the first to have the idea, but it was new to me at the time. All this to say: I’m glad that someone else is working on toward the same goal.

The council, a Paris-based body of politicians, experts and academics, said the current policy of trying to eradicate the fields of poppies that yield opium, which makes up about half of Afghanistan’s income, was a costly failure.

The policy had little impact while demonising Afghan farmers and destroying “a valuable natural resource rather than turning it into a powerful driver for economic development,” the study said.

“The illegal heroin trade is the largest and fastest growing business sector in Afghanistan, accounting for a 2.7 billion US dollars’ profit a year,” it said.

But while it provided jobs for thousands of Afghans, it was only enriching a few while possibly feeding militant and terror networks that could be involved in the drugs industry, it said.

And as the illegal opium exports were untaxed, the public sector was deprived of income that could be used to build much-needed infrastructure.

However a “system of licenced opium production can form the basis for an open-minded and above all realistic debate on how to remove Afghanistan from its immediate development crisis and its imminent descent into a narco-state,” it said.

The council recommended the government fast-track the establishment of a national authority to licence opium producers and research an amnesty that would “integrate illegal actors into the opium licencing system”.

Aside from the economic benefit, it might also pull more people (and more powerful people) into the legitimate political system, reducing the violence and helping speed Afghanistan’s recovery.

Sounds like a damned fine idea to me.

Read the story.

Update: Kindly linked by John Hays.

Friday, September 23, 2005

DVD Review: Stateside

Stateside, in a nutshell, is a pointless journey with neither a compelling story nor an emotional payoff.

It’s the story of a young man who joins the Marines in lieu of serving jail time and begins a difficult relationship with a schizophrenic former actress. The film follows our young hero through basic training all the way to an abrupt (yet predictable) ending. The only surprise in store for viewers is in just how truncated the film feels and just how absent Val Kilmer ends up being.

See, the front of the DVD promises “one of Val Kilmer’s best performances"--which is misleading in a number of ways. While the performance is solid, it doesn’t come near his memorable turn as Doc Holiday in Tombstone, just as a ferinstance. And for all that his name pops up on the packaging, he simply doesn’t have that much screen time and his connection to the overall plot seems unresolved.

That defines a good bit of the problem: the action is disjointed, moving from scene to scene with little sense of connection or purpose. The screenplay appears to have had huge chunks slashed from the original story--chunks where no one bothered to smooth over the remaining rough edges. For that matter, whatever editing it went through, the finished script is littered with oblique, self-conscious dialog that made me groan.

The acting bounces from good to bad and there are a number of familiar faces popping up in little cameos (like Carrie Fisher’s particularly bitchy role), lending the feeling that somebody’s kid must have really wanted to make a movie and all the family friends chipped in to help. The unevenness could be acceptable if there were any way to connect to the characters--but it’s all so forced that there just isn’t a way to relate. The characters float through the movie seemingly without touching each other and most certainly without touching us.

So, yeah, I was pretty disappointed.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Working Well (For Now)

So, Feinstein voted “no” on Roberts because he isn’t Alan Alda enough.

Kennedy voted “no” because Roberts was way too nominated by a Republican.

Biden voted “no” because felt comfortable that his “constitutional risk” excuse made him sound reasonably adult. Even though his comments about Roberts “standing for election” made the “I’m an adult” argument a little harder to accept.

Apparently Durbin and Schumer didn’t have anything particularly interesting to say about their “nuh-uh” votes.

And, honestly, it’s fine that they cast their votes the way they did; those votes are theirs to use. In fact, they should probably dissent on the President’s choices on occasion since they do happen to represent the left--that they wouldn’t see eye-to-eye with the Bush on who would best serve in the Supreme Court isn’t much of a surprise.

What is good, though, is that they are allowing a vote to take place. That is also as it should be: except in the most dire of circumstances, the minority party should not hold the majority party hostage to the filibuster. When the people of the United States elect their representatives, they empower those representatives with certain prerogatives, one of which is nominating judges who will represent their interests. The President should be given some leeway in his nominations, and Bush did not abuse this leeway by nominating some terrifying paleoconservative to the court.

The process is working just fine and Roberts will be confirmed next week. Hopefully, the next vacancy is filled with the same reasonable spirit (although, if Bush nominates someone who could be honestly considered a conservative, I expect the good will to go right out the window).

Read the story.

Whadya Mean I Ain’t Kind?

Just not your kind.

With apologies to Dave Mustaine.

It All Depends on What You Mean by “Substantiated” (Updated)

Salon’s “War Room” is playing a nasty little game: giving out unsubstantiated information from The National Enquirer (fergodsake) and slyly noting that it isn’t particularly reliable. But here’s how it reads in my aggregator:

Is Bush back on the bottle?

The National Enquirer says so, but that doesn’t make it true—or false.

Like I said, sly.

But the only named source is the author of Bush on the Couch, Justin Frank, and Frank admits that he doesn’t actually know anything. He just “thinks” that Bush has been reaching for the bottle. Aside from that little bit of presumption, The Enquirer just teases and toys with unnamed sources and assertions.

The National Enquirer is reporting that the president’s troubles have literally driven him to drink. “Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again,” the Enquirer says.

As you might expect, the sourcing for the story is a little vague. In an odd sort of grammatical construction, the Enquirer says that “family sources have told”—to whom, it doesn’t say—that the president was “caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze” in Crawford, Texas, when “he learned of the hurricane disaster.” “One insider” says that Bush “apparently” reached for a “Texas-sized shot of straight whiskey” when water flooded into New Orleans. Another “Washington source” says: “The sad fact is that he has been sneaking drinks for weeks now. Laura may have only just caught him—but the word is his drinking has been going on for a while in the capital. He’s been in a pressure cooker for months.”

What does it all mean? Who knows? The National Enquirer ain’t exactly the New York Times, but it isn’t the Weekly World News, either.

In his rush to find a brand new way to smear Bush, Tim Grieve, “War Room” writer, is willing to use The National Enquirer as a somewhat reputable source of information.

All I can say is that any journalist’s reputation is only as good as his sources.

Read his post. (Salon requires either a subscription or an ad view to access this content.)

Update: Not that a lack of reasonable substantiation has stopped bloggers from running with the story as if it were simple fact.

From Tom’s Irrelevant Musings:

The entire Bush family has a condescending lack of empathy for people who are not wealthy.  So it confuses me why Bush is actually feeling enough to lose his nerve and start pounding the booze again.  It could be that he really does know he totally lacks the mental capacity to do the job, and his incompetence really does have real consequences for living, breathing, human beings. 

But, hey, when you hate someone as much as people like Tom hate the Bush family, it’s easy to treat rumor and innuendo as fact.

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