Thursday, June 29, 2006
The Truth About the Lord’s Resistance Army
It was sickly funny to see that Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, insist that the LRA had committed no atrocities in their rebellion against Uganda’s government. In an abstract sense, I could smile and muster up a little laugh while I sat amazed at the bald faced lie. In the specific--when faced with the pictures and the stories of the people the LRA brutalized--there is nothing even vaguely humorous or worth smiling about.
From there, the story dissolves into watching others being killed and having his own ears, nose, lips, and hands cut off. Being abducted, beaten, and starved until he was found by government troops and given hospital care, the man is lucky to be alive. But his life--his face deformed and his arms ending in useless lumps--isn’t what it could have been.
The LRA didn’t content itself with typical torture and random murders; the rebels made a habit throughout the long war of kidnapping children and forcing them to serve the cause. The girls were sex slaves to the commanders, the boys were trained to be soldiers (with ages documented as young as seven).
The post-colonial history of Africa has been written in blood and a savage inhumanity. In that sense, the LRA is hardly unique; in any sense, though, the leaders and perpetrators of the worst of these acts must be punished for their works. Joseph Kony is one of the bloodiest of the bunch.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
X-Men: Late to the Party
How was X-Men: The Last Stand? Simply put, it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable for me as the first two movies. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t horrible or that I hated every moment of it, just that the first two movies were exceptional for the genre while The Last Stand was something closer to typical.
The good: a few surprise twists and turns combined with captivating and cool special effects definitely kept it from being boring. It followed its plot more effectively than, say, the Matrix trilogy--as if the directors had intended to end up where the movie stopped instead of flailing around for something meaningful. The Wachowskis couldn’t quite pull off the trilogy (although The Matrix was brilliant).
Kelsey Grammar as Beast was more satisfying than I would have expected.
The bad: the new faces were a blur of unexplored personalities. The special effects, while top notch, also managed to be over much and distracting. Oddly, there have been movies that I will watch, willingly forgiving their flaws, if the visual effects and style are worth the attention. The Cell and Sky Captain... come to mind. Here, though, the effects were more of a barrier to enjoying the characters.
And was I the only one who thought that some of the lines were cheesy? Even for a comic book-based movie?
The pissy: that is, I’m pissy about a few things. First, how did Angel end up having such an inconsequential role in the movie? As one of the original X-Men (if memory serves, the originals were Iceman, Cyclops, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), Beast, and Angel), it bothered me from the beginning that he wasn’t one of the characters in the film. Now, when they bring him in it’s just for a a few moments of screen time and no real character development. Secondly, where did Nightcrawler go? One of the best parts of X-2, I would loved to have seen him back.
It wasn’t a horrible movie, but it was the cinematic equivalent of going to see Return of the Jedi and finding yourself discovering Ewoks. It didn’t ruin The Trilogy, but it wasn’t a particularly good feeling. It could have been better--and, damnit, it should have been better--but it’s still not such a bad way to spend a few summer hours with mindless explosions, pretty blue women, and two of the best comic-to-film characters ever. Because even when everything else is only marginal, Professor X and Magneto remain the gravity that holds the center.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
That’s An Easy One
This is about all I have to say about Michele’s poll concerning the 100 greatest punk songs of all freakin’ time:
“Mommy’s Little Monster.”
Some will argue for SOD or Husker Du or The Damned. I can respect that. Some will instinctively reach for The Clash or MC5, which is fine. But they’re wrong. It’s definitely “Mommy’s Little Monster.”
While we’re at it, though, Clutch is overrated and I don’t understand how “Blitzkrieg Bop” failed to make the cut. Something from Killing Joke would have been nice, too. Although I suppose they aren’t really a punk band, I would put “Wardance” or even “This Tribal Antidote” up against the majority of songs on that list.
Damned, Evil Scientists
Okay, I’m not really back. Not that I’m really away, either, but just that the busy hasn’t really appreciably slowed down and the urge to write has declined tremendously. But surfing and reading earlier lead me to an article that needs to be spread far and wide to take the global warming debate somewhere with a little less insanity.
I happily concede that it is possible that human activities have had a powerful effect on the planet’s climate; what I don’t concede is that the neo-luddites and professional scaremongers have the correct solution to what may or may not be a problem.
The sum of my beliefs is pretty simple, in fact:
I won’t say that the scaremongers are liars: these people utterly believe the scary stuff that they are selling. But their passionate convictions shouldn’t be mistaken as a good reason to believe their stories, assumptions, or predictions.
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