Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Can I Get an Amen?
A little laundry list of things:
Monday, January 30, 2006
I’m sure someone, somewhere will come up with a real BlogTV to make stars out of bloggers, but until that happens The Colossus is bringing us The Dean Witch Project and Dorkafork is summing up 24 rather well.
With entertainment like this, why the hell am I watching Skating With Celebrities?
Friday, January 27, 2006
Comcast’s Free OnDemand Movies and Is The Tattered Cover Trying to Break My Heart?
Unemployment and having my desk next to the television have lead me to dip into Comcast’s free OnDemand movies. See, they have all the content that you have to pay for, but then they have a bunch of movies and old stuff that you can play for free--and, neato, it will pause, fast forward, and rewind almost as if you were watching it on your VCR. Of course, most of the stuff is of questionable value, but that doesn’t stop me from watching it.
That’s because I’m not afraid to recognize the good in really bad stuff.
Except Weekend at Bernies 2. Where I’ve been forced to recognize the bad in really bad stuff. It’s made me question whether the first one really was as good as I remember.
Damned, evil Weekend at Bernies 2.
None of which changes the fact that one of Denver’s coolest stores is making a change that may not be for the best. At least, it’s not for my best.
Tattered Cover, which truly and honestly may be the best book store in the world, is shuttering its three story Cherry Creek store (and the restaurant, the Fourth Floor, up top) because it couldn’t afford a new lease with the owner of the building.
That store has been there for about as long as I’ve been alive. I’ve accidentally gone on a date there. I’ve enjoyed the place for both the breadth of its offerings and for the fact that it is my favorite place in the high-cost and slickly-developed Cherry Creek shopping area. Tattered Cover isn’t just a store, it’s an institution.
But, for economic reasons, the store is moving to a new location off of Colfax. How can this be a good thing? I’ll wait to pass my final judgment on the place until I’ve seen it, but I have a hard time imaging that it will match the feeling of the original since, God knows, the downtown store didn’t manage the trick. Not that it will be bad, just that there is something not quite right about the place. To be fair, it might be the lingering aroma of some of the residence-challenged patrons.
If you know what I mean.
Hopefully the move works out well, hopefully the new store is wonderful, and hopefully the owner has made a good decision. The truth is that I’m emotionally attached to the old store in the old building, so it would be hard for me to recognize change as being a good thing.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Broncos v/ Steelers: In the End
Here’s to the Steelers. They got the little things right; the Broncos didn’t. They played a better, more consistent defense. Their offense was perfectly prepared for our defense. Their special teams played effectively. Quite obviously, the Steelers are a hell of a team--the fact that they knocked off the number one, two, and three seeds proves how good they were this season.
For me, it’s a sad end and not the game I was hoping for. Still, the Broncs were a much better team than I expected and went further than I had predicted. It’s just unfortunate that home field advantage for the AFC Championship wasn’t enough to help them beat the stronger Steelers.
Congratulations to Steelers fans and know that I’ll be pulling for you to win the Super Bowl. A well-earned victory to extend a great season.
Broncos v/ Steelers: Looking Forward to a Great Game (Updated)
I don’t have any idea who is going to win this game, although I have an obvious bias for the Broncos, so I won’t be offering any predictions except this: this should be one of the best games of the year. Two great defenses, two aggressive running games, two shaggy quarterbacks, and two coaches coming off of great seasons.
What I expect today is a defensive battle with bruising hits, fast play, and the occasional big play when a defense gets caught being overly aggressive. Both of these teams blitz heavily, taking big chances in hopes of forcing turnovers, pressuring quarterbacks, and shutting off the opponent’s rushing attack. Both of these teams have players who can exploit little mistakes. Both of these teams have experience winning ugly.
Yeah, this is why I love football.
Update: Or I could be wrong. Ouch.
Al Wilson and Trevor Pryce have been non-factors, the Steeler’s offense has been brilliant, and Jake’s two turnovers didn’t help our cause.
Friday, January 20, 2006
The Road Warrior and Mel Envy
Do I move in with g-phrase to save money and make it easier to survive on the remnants of my savings and the unemployment I’ll be collecting for a bit? That’s what I’m contemplating while I’m watching The Road Warrior and thinking about all the twists and turns my life had taken to get me to this point.
So, yeah, let’s talk about the movie.
First, I wish I could drive the last of the V8 Interceptors. Second, Mel Gibson was a tremendously attractive man. I mean, something beyond handsome, although far too manly to be pretty. No wonder the women got all happy when they saw him. Third, we should all have a dog like Dog to keep us company when we’re contemplating life’s bigger questions and issues.
And, lastly, we used to take the idea of apocalypse seriously, didn’t we? There was a deep belief that the world could easily slip into self-destruction when the Soviets finally decided to test our German tripwire or when one of those hot wars on the fringe of our cold war spilled over with dramatic effect. The belief in the potential wasn’t so completely misplaced, either. There were times (like during the Cuban missle crisis, when the Soviet client state was urging a launch against the United States even though the leadership believed it would mean the essential destruction of Cuba) when we danced awfully close to that line.
It’s odd to think that an era of trivialities like pink Izods, Better Off Dead, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood was also an era of a deep, nervous wait for nuclear holocaust.
I’ve always been convinced that former President Bill Clinton was, in part, a reaction to the end of the Cold War. An America that had finally moved out of the shadow of a very final kind of war didn’t want to think about the next challenge; it wanted to enjoy a little R&R after a long, tense conflict that left us in a better world. Who wants to worry about the problems of the rest of the world when we just got finished with so much heavy lifting?
Maybe that’s too simplistic, though, and it doesn’t really fit with the fact that Clinton actually did get us involved in a few conflicts (big and little ones, here and there) during his time in office. So, yeah, maybe it’s more that people didn’t really like President Bush the First or know what to think about the idea of a President Dole; and, let’s be honest, things were going mostly okay (even though some of that “okay” was an illusion generated by an irrational dot com boom and some seriously irresponsible corporate practices that would bit us all in the ass about the time that Clinton was thinking about taking his final Presidential bows).
None of which changes the fact that I’m still jobless and a big fan of the Mad Max flicks. And that Carnation Chocolate Malted Milk mix is really tasty stuff. And that I wish I looked like Mel Gibson. So does the g-phrase, for that matter.
Apropos of Even Less Than Usual
Enslave Tibet (and her little dog, too).
It’s a Mute Point (Which is Only Funny if You Get the Inside Joke)
So, it goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) that Star Jones is an idiot and a fool who somehow never noticed that our current war against terrorists is actually an extension of a fight that was brought to us (and to our shores during that first attempt to destroy the World Trade Center) for years before the current President Bush took the oath of office. She doesn’t seem to get that it isn’t a mere pissing contest between two overly macho men, or that this war would have happened with or without Bush in office and that terrorism exists with or without Osama bin Laden.
At least her co-hosts showed a little intelligence.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Recommended: The Fog of War
I have just watched Errol Morris’s documentary The Fog of War, a film revolving around lessons learned by Robert McNamara in his years of various forms of public service. It goes through World War II, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Vietnam war, with McNamara relating stories and thoughts about his life and the choices he made.
McNamara is intelligent, quick-witted, interesting, and even charismatic. The sense is that any conversation with him would be a learning experience.
Compelling stuff presented beautifully and filled with the kind of self-examination and historical context (although not always a complete context) where conclusions about things like the proportionality of war are left nebulous. One of the most truly thought-provoking documentaries that I’ve ever seen. Of particular interest are his memories of President Kennedy’s assassination, a conversation about Vietnam between McNamara and President Johnson, and his ruminations about the firebombing and atomic bombing of cities in Japan.
While much of it is, by necessity, filtered through McNamara’s own perspective, the film rarely seems preachy or cowardly in facing historical events.
I recommend this film for anyone who hasn’t yet overdosed on politics in our (let’s be honest) overly-politicized age. That might limit the audience somewhat, but the rest of us political junkies can find a lot of good here.
Clarifying Note: I should probably add this: there were more than a few times where I disagreed with the conclusions of the film and times where I disagreed with McNamara’s analysis of events. That doesn’t mean that the movie has no value, though, even to a person who dissents. War and foreign policy are never simple things, and having a broad view of historical events it what allows us to come to our own (hopefully) informed conclusions.
American Idol: Because it’s Funny
Night 2 of American Idol and I wasn’t actually going to write about it (mostly because I missed most of the thing). But then came the last contestant of the night: a not-quite-cross-dressing young man from here in the Mile High City whose singing voice was marginally better than his speaking voice; sadly, his speaking voice was a whiny, nasal abomination. Unsurprisingly, the judges didn’t like him (and Randy was quite surprised that he was a he).
After his rejection, said young man left the room to rant about how America was prejudiced and racist (he was white, so I’m not entirely sure what skin-pigment-related issues he was referring to).
See, what makes contemporary America so special is that failure is never a personal issue, it’s always an establishment issue. The boy couldn’t sing, so the problem is, of course, a racist, prejudiced society that just isn’t ready for his special brand of bad singing. Of course, a young man who wears high heels, a woman’s t-shirt, pencils in his brows, and sports a lovely woman’s hair-do isn’t precisely being honest with himself or anyone else when proclaiming his surprise that people would mistake him for a girl. That kind of dishonesty is wonderfully prophetic, though: he probably expected some prejudice and his own failures gave him the excuse to run to the shelter of his preconceived notions.
Now, Simon was a jerk (although, if I were being all sorts of extra nitpicky today, I’d note that he isn’t American) with a few of his comments, but Randy was merely confused about the contestant’s gender, and Paula merely commented on his singing voice. Of course, playing “The Crying Game” did seem like a bit of a low blow.
I’m personally just happy that the kid won’t be singing for us in the future. At least, not on American Idol.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Football Season is Drawing to a Close, American Idol Season Begins: Sad, Isn’t It?
American Idol returns and, sadly, that means I’m going to share my thoughts on one of TV’s worst shows.
Sure, there are a few reasonably talented singers that make it through, but we watch these early episodes for the train wrecks, don’t we? We watch to see the people who think that shouting the lyrics is somehow the same thing as singing with a powerful voice. We watch for the strange outfits that make you wonder if people really take their few minutes of TV time seriously. We watch for the angry outbursts when some horrific singer is told to take a hike. And we watch for Simon (who is, quite possibly, the most vicious figure on TV) to say something innapropriate, mean, or just plain odd.
Tonight was filled with all of the above, sprinkled with an extra dose of cruelty from Simon. In fact, Simon stepped a little beyond the usual funny, pointed comments and right into “jeez, he’s kind of a prick” territory.
But the thing that I found most interesting was the Paris Hilton wannabe with the, ahem, bronzed skin and terrifying make-up. With the introduction of her mother, I realized that some parents can actually be guilty of child abuse simply by being involved in their children’s lives.
Will I watch tomorrow night? I have dinner plans tomorrow that may well save me from my own base television instincts. Of course, she likes trash TV even more than I do, so I may still find myself wide-eyed over the singing and antics of my fellow Denverites.
On the Passing of M.A. McGehee
I’ve “known” McGehee--through his site and through his comments here--for a number of years now, and today I grieve a little with him. While I didn’t know Marion Arlon McGehee, I know that he raised a good son.
My sympathies go out to McGehee and the rest of his family.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Broncos v/ Patriots: The Better Team Edition
He’s certainly entitled to his opinion on the subject, and, since he gets paid for his opinion I suppose it is even more valuable than my own. At least in absolute dollar terms.
But he’s wrong.
I won’t take anything away from the Patriots. They had a tough season with crucial injuries--and they played exceptionally well. While I was ready to write them off after their earlier loss to the Broncos, they fought and found their way back to the playoffs. They are a great team and I won’t say a bad word about them; in fact, I was a little worried about the Broncos facing them this last weekend. But the better team won on Saturday. The better team that night and the better team this year.
The Broncos had the better record, played what turned out to be a brutal schedule in one of the toughest divisions in the lead, and earned their way to a first round buy. They won pretty, they won ugly, they won with defense and offense, they had moments of luck, they had moments where unheralded players made clutch plays, and they won when their biggest names made their biggest plays. They had injuries and found ways to win. They played a season where balance was the key--a solid defense that kept teams from scoring, a balanced attack that ground down opponents and won by avoiding mistakes.
For a team with little in the way of star power, the Broncos put together a pretty spectacular season--but they did it in the shadow of Indy’s brilliance and the Patriot’s comeback.
So, in honor of the better team, here are some thoughts.
The Patriots are a great team and have been for years. The Broncos, though, did at least as much to earn their way into the playoffs and into the position to be playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl this year. The better team won on Saturday night--and here’s hoping they find a way to win again this weekend.
I have no doubt that the Pats will be in the hunt again next year (along with Indy, the Chargers, the Chiefs, and, hopefully, my Broncos) and we’ll have the opportunity to see precisely who is the best team. For this season, though, the Broncos have proven themselves to be a tough team.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
It Was a Mutilated Blog
Thanks for everyone who emailed (and that text message on my cell phone, too) to ask why my blog was dead. The hosting company upgraded PHP which had the sad side effect of completely killing off EE. Unfortunately, this happened while I was nowhere near a computer, so I had to wait until getting back to the g-phrases house to use my emergency dial-up connection to download the Expression Engine update and upgrade the site.
Now I’m back.
And I still don’t have much to say.
Er, Go Broncos! (Of course, if the offense plays like that next week, we might not be going much further--this one belongs to the defense and the special teams.)
Oh, and I didn’t respond to the emails because Net Zero refuses to relay email and I don’t want to deal with changing the account settings. But y’all know who you are, and you know I want to give y’all big hugs for caring about my incredible disappearing Web site.
Friday, January 13, 2006
DVD Review: The Brothers Grimm
Terry Gilliam is a clever, intelligent guy who probably has a little too much faith in his own cleverness. Even the best of his movies have a streak of self-indulgence that would be insufferable if it weren’t for the brilliant storytelling and quirky sense of humor.
Which is a long way to go to get to this: boy was this a bad movie. Gilliam’s self-indulgence was left naked by a movie that wasn’t half as clever or well-executed as, say, the surprisingly touching The Fisher King or the dark brilliance of Brazil, to say nothing of Time Bandits. Those movies, despite their flaws, remain compelling and fresh.
Put it this way, people don’t like Kevin Smith’s Clerks because of its great production values and brilliant acting. Which is good, because it doesn’t have those things in its corner. They liked it because the dialog was witty and it had a lively feel and great characters. Gilliam movies are sort of similar--the production is usually a little better, the acting is often good, but it’s the new ideas and the sense of adventure that take fans through the uneven special effects, the slower moments, and the occasionally overly self-aware script moments.
The Brothers Grimm, though is all the bad with not nearly enough of the good. The set-up isn’t bad. Two brothers named Grimm--a pair of con artists who prey on the superstitions of 19th century German villagers--stage hauntings and curses and charge the villagers to get rid of ghosts and witches that don’t exist. Predictably, after some rather bland plot manipulation, the brothers find themselves involved with a real live, real scary fairy tale occurrence.
With that as the backdrop, Gilliam gives us tiny snippets of familiar fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, little red riding hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and others. Sadly, those snippets are thrown into a much of a story in such a way that they don’t all make much sense, seeming like leftover thoughts tossed into the mix for no particularly good reason. It’s messy without having anything like a sense of fun or wonder.
The special effects range from merely okay to utterly horrid, which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the boring story. It’s a sad day when a Terry Gilliam movie feels tepid and uninspired, but that’s exactly the case with The Brothers Grimm.
At least the acting was good and the scenery was pretty--but, of course, that’s not nearly a good enough reason to suggest seeing this.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
In reference to this post by Walter, I have a few questions:
What right does a person have in Denver to defend themselves and their property (outside of the “Make My Day” home intrusion law)? When can deadly force be used in defending against an assailant? And what, precisely, is an assailant? I mean, in what situations can a person claim to reasonably feel that their life was in danger and therefor justified in using deadly force in their own defense?
It seems obvious that anyone should have the right to defend themselves against attack, but deciding what form that defense takes and when a person is right in taking action isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Not that worries about the law would keep me from doing everything in my power to protect myself (and my property) when I feel sufficiently threatened; it’s just nice to know what the consequences might look like.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Quick Review: Starship Troopers
Comcast provides free movies on demand--a cool service, although the bulk of the movies are things that couldn’t actually be considered “good.” One of the movies is Starship Troopers, a film that I hated the first time through. I was curious as to whether my initial response would hold up to a second viewing.
It didn’t fare particularly well.
In reference to the Heinlein novel, this is a film with none of the thoughtfulness or intelligence of the book. Its characters are smaller, it shows no knowledge of the military, it abandons the social and political text for sarcastic melodrama, and, well, it just misses the damned point. It completely eviscerates the political context (not to mention casting Heinlein’s Juan Rico as a lily white idiot named John Rico).
And it doesn’t stand up on its own, either.
The acting (with the exception of Neil Patrick Harris) is horrid. It’s wooden and stilted and the screenplay reeks. The mobile infantry training, as represented in the movie, is sterile, unrealistic, and useless. It bears no resemblance to the reality of dragging your body through the dirt, digging foxholes, eating MREs, and sleeping in the cold. Real training is forced marches and tedious days at the range and learning how to be a soldier instead of a civilian. Most of it is about as exciting as learning how to correctly stow your gear in your locker--and the fun parts, like your first field training exercise, are punctuated by all the little ways that your drill sergeants can make your life a little extra miserable.
Whatever the hell it was that director Paul Verhoeven imagined had no relationship to the reality of life in the military. None.
And, seriously, is there a worse actor in the world than Casper Van Dien? His acting consists mostly of powerfully flexing his jaws and jerking his head melodramatically.
What’s most offensive about the thing is that it seems like a big flip of the finger to everything Heinlein was trying to say. It’s an intentional fuck you to the book and anyone who takes it seriously. Of course, I shouldn’t expect better from a man who had this to say about the United States and Starship Troopers.
And this (from the same interview):
Yeah, here’s a guy who respected his audience and the (somewhat) source material. You’d have a hard time convincing me he even understood the idea of Starship Troopers.
The only possible good points are the few moments of gratuitous nudity and that it reminded me just how much I still love the infantry. Just not the fake infantry of Van Dien’s hideous creation.
“To the everlasting glory of the Infantry,” indeed, and to men like Roger Young.
The Blogger Formerly Known as Zombyboy Hearts Tony Gonzales (In a Manly Kind of Way)
I’ve always had a ton of respect for Tony Gonzales as an exceptional player, and, even in a “substandard” year he was one of the best at his position. But now I’m loving the guy (but not in a naughty sort of way).
He was being interviewed on TV a bit ago and I really enjoyed listening to him. Aside from the rest of the interview, he was asked to guess the winners for this week’s playoff games. He chose the Broncos over the Patriots.
He was asked who he thought would win the Super Bowl. He first chose the Colts and then changed his answer. To the Broncos.
While I wouldn’t make that same prognostication my self--the Patriots are going to give the Broncos a tough game this weekend and the Colts aren’t going to make it easy on anyone--it put a smile on my face to think that he has that kind of respect for the Broncos.
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