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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Review: Ratatouille

Here’s a question for the mini-masses that might come through: is there anyone in the world making better family movies--animated or otherwise--than Pixar? I honestly don’t think so.

Pixar has found a magic formula for family films, and Ratatouille continues their tradition of excellence. Pixar has figured out that movies for kids don’t need to be so dumbed down that adults don’t enjoy the show. They understand that “for kids” doesn’t mean automatic potty humor. Most important, they understand that there has to be a sense of wonder and magic that is only brought out with exquisite art direction, superb storytelling, and characters that, while perhaps not quite complex, have enough depth to be compelling.

The most natural comparisons for Ratatouille are to other Pixar movies, so here is the quick rundown before talking specifics. Ratatouille isn’t as funny as Finding Nemo or as action packed as The Incredibles, but it is as heartwarming as Toy Story and more satisfying than Monsters, Inc. Last year’s Cars was a solid entry in the catalog, but Ratatouille is something closer to to a classic.

The story, about a rat who wants to be a cook, is far better developed and more involving than I had expected. Forgive me for doubting directory Brad Bird or The Incredibles and The Iron Giant--the man has a wonderful touch with light drama and sense of comedy that most Hollywood directors could only wish for. His consistency is astonishing.

Another thing that Pixar does is cast great voice talent. From Ellen DeGeneres hilariously loopy turn as an absent minded fish in Finding Nemo to Dave Foley’s ant with grand plans in A Bug’s Life, Pixar chooses the right voices to fill their casts. Patton Oswalt, as our hero Remy, strikes the right tone of an eager young man (ahem, “rat") without ever becoming irritatingly earnest. The casting coup, though, is putting Peter O’Toole’s voice to the character of critic Anton Ego. Not only is Ego rendered perfectly, but O’Toole’s voice gives him a brooding presence and flavor that makes him one of the more memorable characters in any recent animated feature.

The artwork on the movie is breathtaking. The views of Paris--at times misty and dark or gorgeously lit at night--raise the art of animation another notch. While I hadn’t thought that an animated could be better than the underwater scenes of Finding Nemo, but there were moments in Ratatouille that the scenery looked as real and as solid as any photograph. Little touches and details abound (take a look at Anton Ego’s typewriter) that keep the scenery not only lovely but constantly interesting. The animators employed by Pixar are, like the rest of the crew, simply brilliant. These men and women are artists.

Ratatouile is a wonder--it’s family friendly entertainment that hasn’t been watered down for the kids, that’s safe for most families (I noticed one--arguable--profanity and there are a few tense moments early on when Remy and the rest of the rats are chased from an old woman’s country home), and that has a great message for anyone who pays a little attention. While it drags just a bit in the third act, and isn’t quite as funny as some of Pixar’s other films, it’s message, acting, and astonishing beauty make it well worth the price of a ticket.

And Peter O’Toole’s big moment, with a commentary about critics, is simply perfect.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

J.D. Tanner Has Passed Away

J.D. Tanner, former gunsmith and the man who started Denver’s Tanner Gun Show, has passed away.

Jed has the story.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Caugh in the iPhone’s Gravitational Pull

Apple has posted details about the rate plans that customers will be seeing with their new iPhones.

Up until today, I’ve been saying that I would wait for at least version 2 of the iPhone to be released before I considered a purchase. You know: let them work out the bugs, see what kind of applications are developed for the li’l feller, see if the prices come down from their astronomical highs. Not that I didn’t want one. As soon as I saw video of the iPhone in action, I started trying to find reasons to buy one.

But I tried to stay strong. I tried to let my rational side keep me from being pulled into that full-on technolust state that overrides the logical decision making of every geek.

The rates are getting me, though. See, I’m already a Cingular/AT&T customer, so all I would need to do to have the iPhone is pony up the big bucks for the phone and then add on a $20/month fee for unlimited data for email and web service along with Visual Voice Mail and 200 text messages per month.

In my head, it isn’t “twenty dollars and the 500+ for the phone and activation”. No, I just keep hearing ”just twenty dollars.”

And that’s cheap. Except, of course, it isn’t; but just trying telling my brain that.

Good Lord, I hope all the other suckers wise consumers clean the shelves of the new iPhones before I have a chance to buy one. I think I need to stay away from Apple Stores and the Internet on friday…

Update: So there. And jPhone, indeed. L’chaim!

Brilliant! Fighting Inflation in Zimbabwe

The question of how to control runaway inflation has to be haunting Robert Mugabe’s dreams. The official rate of inflation--which is far lower than the real rate--is set at 3,700%. Which is, you know, pretty bad. Especially considering the last few years of quadruple digit inflation in the country--the Zimbabwean dollar is nearly worthless in its own country and only has value as a novelty outside those borders.

What’s a tyrant to do?

The easy answer, of course, is to order stores to slash prices on all consumer goods so that regardless of the real purchasing power of the Zim dollar, consumers will be able to afford the basics. Isn’t that a simple solution?

Of course, that ignores the costs that the sellers have to pay to stock their shelves--and their prices, especially on any goods that come from outside the country, aren’t going down. Their prices are going up. The government dictate is essentially an order to sell goods at below their real costs--which, even a ten year old running a lemonade knows isn’t good business practice.

The results are predictable.

On Tuesday, shops in central Harare seemed to be defying the new directive. Instead of cutting prices, some supermarkets simply emptied their shelves of goods such as sugar, salt, flour cooking oil, beef and fuel that would be subject to the order.

“We have been instructed by management to remove some of the products from the shelves for now,” an assistant at a leading chain store said as shoppers scrambled to buy bathing soap.

At another store there were long queues as people stocked up, saying they feared basic goods would now be in even shorter supply. But for several companies it was business as usual.

“We have not reduced our prices because that has not been communicated to us by the owners ... In actual fact, some of the prices will go up tomorrow,” said Sam Makaza, a manager at a supermarket in downtown Harare.

It will also likely have the perverse effect of pushing even more people into the underground economy where barter and the trade of real currencies bypass the idiotic plans of a regime that very obviously has no legitimate plan for rescuing the economy. Which is lucky: the more people that step out of Zimbabwe’s official, fantasy economy and into the underground, reality-based (and, yes, the term has real meaning here) economy, the more the country is propped up. In fact, some people credit that black market economy with being the only thing that is holding off complete economic collapse in the nation.

How far can that collapse really be, though? I’ve been amazed at the resilience and patience of the people combined with a relatively low level of violence, but the situation cannot be expected to last forever.

Because Every Morning Needs Shiny, Happy Ringtones

Poking a little fun at someone’s over-publicized drama should happen every morning. At least, it should when it’s done with that special touch that Shawn brings to the writing.

Then again, if Captain Melodrama didn’t off himself in a haze of incense and Boys Don’t Cry-era Cure at 17, he’s probably not going to do it at 36. Morose has never been the aphrodisiac a certain segment of post-modern male has assumed it to be, but even those men recognize that while “goodbye cruel world!” threats ignite the mother hen spark in some similarly disposed women, actually dying is a piss-poor plan for getting laid.

Read the rest.

(If you didn’t check out Shawn’s post, this will make no sense. For the rest of you, put my money on “Shiny, Happy People.” That song makes me want to die every time I hear it.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Wasted Capital (And My Many Socially Unacceptable Pals)

I haven’t really staked out territory on the immigration bill, but isn’t it odd to watch the Bush administration spending so much political capital trying to push the bill through against overwhelming opposition? Does Bush see this as a way of saving his legacy? If so, I would much rather have seen the administration push this aggressively for something like Social Security reform--and, indeed, success there would have been a legacy of which to be proud.

But this much time and energy spend on a wildly unpopular immigration reform seems like a grand way to blow the last shreds of influence that the administration has with an increasingly hostile congress. Aren’t there more important battles to be fought right now?

That said, how is it that anyone is surprised by the direction that Bush’s immigration bill took? He telegraphed his views all the way through his state of the union addresses and both campaign runs.

Bush will be Bush.

None of which explains the fact that I need to use more naughty language on the site so that I can keep up with these other fine, potty-mouthed bloggers:

  1. Mr. Lady (who worked damned hard to be bad).
  2. Velociman (to whom obscenity comes far more naturally).
  3. Rob Sama (I trust the disappointing showing will be rectified soon).

Sadly, Andy’s score doesn’t reflect the reality of Andy (whose naughtiness should not be underestimated).

So, yeah. Where was I going with that?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Loop: When Did I Last Laugh So Little?

Does anyone else find it sort of sad that Fox--last seen canceling Drive--shows no sign of killing off The Loop, easily one of the worst shows on network TV? Filled completely with unlikable characters, bad dialog, idiotic writing, and predictable plots, The Loop is almost unwatchable. I don’t remember the last time a sitcom made me laugh so little.

Seriously, this might be the dumbest show on TV. And that includes the stuff starring Paris Hilton.

Fox: cancel The Loop and rid my cable box of its oh-so-contrived quirkiness. Bring back Drive--it may not be another Firefly, but it’s sure as hell better than this crap.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I R Restricted (9 Hells, 8 Sucks, 2 Deaths, and a Shit)

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Hell, that seems downright family friendly to me. Oops, that counts against, doesn’t it?

Anyway, if you think my blog is bad (which, let’s be honest, it’s not that bad), you should see me after a few drinks at the upcoming Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash.

So, yeah.

Sorry about that.

Spotted here.

Which, somehow, leads us to the highly infectious, spotted meme that I seem to have caught from Patrick. Seven pseudo-random bits about my life? You got it, pal, although I do have to warn about the old Soviet style “truth” that got mixed up in the more truthful truth.

  1. I only pretend to sing in church. For that matter, I only pretend to sing “Happy Birthday.” Most people think that my reluctance to sing in public is fueled by self-knowledge--that is, I’m afraid to sing because I know how bad my voice is. That’s incorrect. The truth is that I am terrified of running afoul of ASCAP and shuffled off in shackles when I’m unable to pay the royalty fees for singing protected works in public. Damned, evil ASCAP.
  2. I’m only up this late on a Saturday night because I’m burning a CD to listen to while I go on a tiny road trip tomorrow.
  3. I once owned ferrets. Two of them, in fact. They were cuddly, cute, irritating, and hilarious--in fact, they were some of the best pets I’ve ever owned. We (my ex-wife and I) had to give them away when she drunkenly let one of our birds out of her cage while the ferrets were out of their cage. It was an error made worse by the fact that the bird had clipped wings and couldn’t fly to safety when the ferret came and got her. That was a depressing night, but, sadly, it came right in the middle of the worst stretch of time in my life. The marriage was already starting to crack, I was deeply depressed, she was deeply drunk, and no one was happy. Soon I would find out that she was cheating on me--which should have ended the marriage but didn’t.
  4. Which leads us to the next point: I bribed the ferrets with Cap’n Crunch (specifically, Peanut Butter Crunch). See, ferrets can get into damned near anything. Closets, the area between your cabinets and your dishwasher, kitchen drawers--they have amazing infiltration skillz. When they find a nice hidey-hole, they often just fall asleep. Finding them aftwerwards is a hell of a chore. We found that if you put a little PB Crunch in a Tupperware container and shake the container a bit, the ferrets would come running. They were complete whores for the PB Crunch.
  5. Of course, I’m a complete whore for PB Crunch, too. Which could have led me to say something bitingly cruel about the ex, but that just doesn’t seem right.
  6. I spend between $200 and $300 a month on books and magazines. I’m addicted to stuffing my head with all of the ideas and information that I can get into that tight little space. Unfortunately, I’ve decided that my addition to raw data has missed one relevant activity: giving myself the time to sift through my thoughts to fully explore the thoughts that are coming into my brain. Too much unconnected data, too little context, and never enough time to make it all make sense.
  7. I really can’t stand watermelon. Or any melon, for that matter. Melon sucks. Oops, that counts against, doesn’t it?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

For the Record, 20 June 2007

For the record, I would like to note that I still find it amazing that OJ “If I Did It” Simpson would ever even consider publishing a “fictional” confession to the murder of his former wife and that other guy. Let’s go to make believe land and pretend that Simpson isn’t the murderer that we all know him to be. In that case, publishing the book is a ghoulish way to play on the deaths. What kind of sickness would make you write a fictional account of your ex-wife’s murder? A fictional account that you insist was just a way to help ensure your kids’ futures (which does make some sense since, after this, I’m pretty sure those kids are going to need ongoing--and very expensive therapy--to get them through life).

Now, let’s come back to the real world, where we’re pretty convinced that OJ killed Nicole and Ron Goldman and then made a slow-motion run for the border complete with fake mustache, passport, and a bit of a bankroll. In this case, the publication of a pseudo confession is idiotic. It shows a continued and callous hatred of the families of the victims, a complete disregard for what this must look like to Simpson’s own kids, and a kind of arrogance that seems to confirm most peoples’ beliefs that there are really two justice systems in America: one that exists for us poor folk and one that gives the wealthy and the famous like Simpson (and Blake and the occasional Kennedy) a free pass when they go around killing folks.

Now, that said, is anyone surprised that the book finally leaked? I don’t think so. Because as ghoulish as OJ is, the public matches him. When it comes to eating up the stories of the bloody famous, the stories--fictional or not--always come out because someone is willing to pay for it.

And, for the record, while it might have been a particularly effective way of killing the guy, supplying the spark to a guy who has just covered himself in petrol isn’t going to win any PR awards and doesn’t help the image of a certain “less than lethal” weapon. I feel for the family, although the poor, dead bastard who died brought on his own death.

Speaking of records: anyone who uses a Celine Dion song as his or her presidential campaign song automatically loses my vote. For the record, Madrugada’s “You Better Leave” might be a better choice for the opposition party.

Just sayin’.

We should all be paying attention here: the record paints a convincing portrait of the importance of religious tolerance in any society.

For the record, good things happen, too.

I’ve been on record for some time as believing that one of the best solutions to the southern front of our immigration problem is a vibrant Mexican economy and better governance. Something closer to parity in opportunities would ease immigration worries tremendously. That parity seems pretty unlikely, though, doesn’t it?

For the record: Adam “Pacman” Jones + friends w/ guns + strip clubs = bad things. You might imagine that he would have learned that lesson by now. You would be wrong. Seriously, not joking even a little bit: Pacman is a troubled young man who needs to learn not only how to handle himself in the public eye, but also how to distance himself from his current group of friends. Unless he changes his ways, his “entourage” is going to ruin his football career--and that’s the best case scenario. Worst case leaves him dead or in jail for a very long time.

And you can quote me on that. Not that it’s very quotable or anything, but I was pretty sure I needed a strong statement to end the post. Which I’ve totally ruined with my explanation.

Damnit.

Monday, June 18, 2007

An Invitation to Athiests

A Christian writer extends a very respectful invitation to atheists and agnostics to engage in conversation at his site. Given that a few atheists travel this site on a semi-regular basis, I thought I would point them toward that conversation.

If you go, please do play nice.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Anti-Suck

I will not be overcome by the forces of suckiness; I will fight the suckiness.

  1. The Ripsaw fights the suckiness. I’m not entirely sure how useful it is, but I’d be happy to get one as a birthday present. 0 to 50 in 3.5 seconds in a tracked vehicle?
  2. Fight the suck by mocking Britney. Trust me: it works.
  3. CadillacTight fights the suck mightily. And has been rewarded for his efforts. Good man.
  4. And while we’re on the subject of zoomy vehicles, a rocket powered fights the suck with style. Of course, it might cross right over the line into stupidity, but that is a price I’m more than willing to have someone else pay.
  5. Learning swordplay from De Doc would be a way for Denver denizens to fight--with sharp, pointy objects--against the encroachment of the suck. My knowledge of fencing comes exclusively from a few “lessons” taught to me when I was in high school. My teacher was invariably drunk to the point of wobbliness, and his teaching might not have been the most focused. This is also how I got my first taste of rappelling, a crash lesson in shaped charges and the use of accelerants to make even bigger booms in other situations, and the proper method for making homemade spaghetti noodles without benefit of a pasta maker. He was a talented and caring man; sadly, he drank sadness with a suicidal fervency. I suppose that’s a long way of saying that I wouldn’t be well suited to Doc’s class; my skills are a bit lacking.
  6. Clients that pay their invoices on time don’t suck. I don’t have many of those. That sucks.
  7. Spending Fathers’ Day with your future wife, enjoying a bright Colorado day, and eating macaroni and cheese on a stick--now that is a great way to fight the suck.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

That Sucks

  1. Ghostrider sucked. I mean, that comes as very little surprise to anyone, but, boy, did it suck. And what happened to Nicolas Cage? I used to like that guy…
  2. Era Vulgaris from Queens of the Stone Age sucked. There are a few good songs, but it’s hardly an engaging album. Their first three albums were brilliant, but Lullabies to Paralyze and the new album are huge disappointments.
  3. The 2012 Summer Olympics logo sucks. Without the sort of tacked on Olympic rings, you would have no idea that it was representing the event, and other than the just as tacked on “london”, you wouldn’t know that it had anything to do with the city. It looks mashed together, poorly considered, and hardly worth the money spent. Confrontational, yes, and definitely aggressive, but lacking anything resembling grace or beauty. The thing is ugly.

    Some supporters are right: it will reproduce well in printing, it is simple, it is certainly not boring. I like all of those things. That doesn’t save it from being ugly.
  4. It definitely sucks that you haven’t yet RSVP’d for the Blogger Bash. What the hell is wrong with you?
  5. Mike Nifong sucks. But you knew that already.
  6. The fact that Stan Lee is developing a Paris Hilton-based animated series for MTV sucks. Stan? What the hell are you thinking?
  7. The concept that a few mean words cut deeper than any knife not only sucks, but it isn’t even true. I’ve been on the receiving end of harsh words and various sharp and pointy objects, and, let me tell you, the pointy bits are the ones to look out for. If you ever have the option of either stabbing me with a sharp, pointy object or saying mean things to me, I’m hoping you’ll choose the latter.

    Advice: grow some skin and get over the mean stuff.

    When things are said that hurt you, here’s what you do: first, understand whether there is legitimacy to the complaint, second, if it is legitimate, let the critique change your behavior and, if it is not legitimate, ignore the idiots. Life is simpler when you can be honest about these things.
  8. Apparently the new energy bill sucks. Which, maybe I should have been paying more attention.
  9. Anyone who claims to be able to predict with any accuracy, the point of the world’s peak production of oil sucks. And is taking you for a sucker. Why? 1- Because no one knows how much oil is in the ground. 2- Because oil extraction technology improves, which means some of our measured, recoverable reserves increase not because of new finds but because of new methods of extraction. 3- Because higher oil costs mean development of other, more difficult resources (like oil sands) that often aren’t factored into peak oil projections. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t diversify our energy sources for a number of other reasons, but that the people who project doom and gloom usually have an agenda to push. You know what I say to that? Beware of the penguins.
  10. Knocked Up does not suck. You should go see it. Unless you have issues with pot smoking potty mouths and one quick moment of entirely ‘tuitous nudity.

Kindly linked by the Non-Sucky Kate.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On Why I Must Be One of the Luckiest Bloggers in the World

  1. My very own--incredibly polite--spellcheck. Which, apparently, I need desperately.
  2. The mysterious McCain continues to find things to link to on my site. And puts me in some great company.
  3. Jed’s got a good line on getting his mojo working for the bash. That’s probably good for all of us, isn’t it?
  4. We’re totally lijit.
  5. People end up on my site after searching for “Silver Surfer Nude.” Now, I always thought that Silver Surfer was always nude, but, apparently, there’s nuder than nude. Or maybe he just keeps his more private bits in some silver carry on luggage. I dunno…

Monday, June 11, 2007

So, About Hell’s Kitchen

Is it just me, or does it seem like Chef Gordon Ramsey and the crew really seem to seed their candidates with a couple losers in hopes of making the show even more ridiculous than the average reality show? I mean, aside from the fact that Chef Ramsey is foul-mouthed and temperamental as a typical two year old, some of the contestants have definitely been imported from misfit island.

That’s neither good nor bad; it’s a logical next step in the continued coarsening of network TV and a way of arrogantly projecting a personality into our homes.

And, on the first night (the do-over of the season opener) showcased Ramsey bullying, harassing, and mocking a bunch of frightened, meek, and confused cooks hoping like hell to win the favor of the evil Chef Ramsey. If there is fun to be had it’s in watching the backstabbing, groveling, and crawling while Ramsey berates and brutalizes these people. It’s emotionally vicious, but given the grand prize of a quarter million dollar salary and a restaurant to run, the fervent competition isn’t surprising.

“Why am I watching?” you ask. Because I have a ton of work to do and I hate to work with silence in the background.

And, frankly it was funny to watch Aaron have a breakdown before the show had even started in earnest. Somewhere inside of me there must be a seriously mean person for me to enjoy the cruelty on display here…

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Blogger Bash Graphics

In the extended entry are a number of Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash graphics that you can use to help publicize the event. Please don’t hotlink the files--my bandwidth is not inexhaustible. The link should go to the RSVP post.

These graphics will be updated and a second set of banners will be added early next week.

So, feel free to spread the word (and thanks to Walter for pointing out the beer-centric photo).

Read the Rest...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Two Bits of News

It’s time for the news. Starring me.

Sorry about that.

Anyway, firstly, I’ve been offered an opportunity two write articles for a small paper. I’ll be freelancing for a little bit of extra money and a little bit of extra exposure. It isn’t much of a world-changing moment for me, but, it’s nice to be wanted, and it will be nice to be able to say that I’m a (semi-pro) writer.

I’ll give more details as the situation develops.

Secondly, come back tomorrow to see new graphics and an updated Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash Bouncy Post. We have a venue, we have a time, we have a date, and, I’m fairly sure, we’ll have some complaints. Hopefully nothing that a couple of shots of something tasty can’t fix…

Be sure to send the word out about the bash. We have a great list of attendees, and I would love to see more added to that list.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Quick Response to a Post That Probably Deserves Something More Thoughtful

Tom Gilson, at Thinking Christian, has posted a list of 10 misconceptions that Christians have about their own faith. It’s an interesting post to me partially because, with so many flavors of Christianity and so many different beliefs about what we, as Christians, are commanded to do in the name of our faith, it seems like it would be hard to find consensus on some of these points. In particular, his points 3 and 5 would probably rouse a good deal of disagreement in some churches.

But I’m not linking to argue over those points. What I want to address is his point 9:

9. The health and wealth gospel.
“God wants you to be prosperous! God wants you to be successful! God wants you to be healthy!” There are pockets where this is prominent. Only in America, as they say. It would never have sold in Soviet Russia, and it wouldn’t be believed today in China, Cuba, Sudan, or any of the other parts of the world where the Church is growing in spite of persecution. It’s a huge distortion of God’s intention. Yes, ultimately God has good in store for all his people, but part of that good is to know his power in our lives when we are most desperately in need of it. It’s to build our character through testing. It’s to let us share in the pain--and to share comfort as well--in a fallen world, in which we are genuine co-sufferers.

I certainly don’t disagree with him in reference to those who teach that God wants to shower believers with wealth and tons of stuff. That’s why I wrote, some time ago, Give to God! Act Now And Get These Ginsu Knives 100% Free!.

What I don’t like is the idea that this is some unique American malfunction. Prosperity gospel did originate in the US, but, sadly, it has begun to spread.

Prosperity gospel is beginning to spread through Africa and it abounds mostly in the poorer churches in the US for the same reason that it does sell in some poor nations. It appeals to poorer folks because it gives them something to hope for and makes Christianity something that will reward them here and now. It makes the rewards of sacrifice--the money given, the habits given up--something immediate.

It appeals to the leaders of some churches because it’s a way to grease money out of the masses--if you give now, God will make sure that your giving comes back to you ten fold. Translation to the uncritical mind: give a buck, get ten in return. Give a hundred bucks and get a thousand in return. It’s religion as a ponzi scheme--the type of thing that appeals not to the wealthy (and rarely to the merely comfortable), but to the poor sucker at the wrong end of the economic spectrum who can’t see another path to prosperity.

Mr. Gilson has written a thought provoking list, and it’s a great place to start conversations. Unfortunately, though, his take on prosperity gospel as a uniquely American doctrine is terribly wrong; prosperity gospel is proving a steady hand at converting folks in poor nations who suffer from disease, poverty, and corrupt governments. The psychology--the desire for wealth that leads transactional theology to grip so tightly on the poor--isn’t American, it’s universal. The shame is that the hucksters who sell the stuff seem to be doing a damned good job of spreading the faith.

Now, ask me why I liken prosperity gospel to the almost religious belief in some communities that pro sports offer a realistic path out of poverty even to the extent that sports take precedence over academic achievement…

A Little More Reading:
The Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria: A Re-Examination of the Concept, Its Impact, and an Evaluation
The Prosperity Gospel (A post at Vehement Adventure)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Venus: A Ten Point Review

  1. As an examination of an old, fading theater star’s obsession with a young woman, there are moments in the file that are phenomenally uncomfortable. That is actually a saving grace--it lends it a sense of honesty that could easily have been missed.
  2. It’s also funny as hell. At least, it’s funny when it isn’t almost painfully sad--and it switches between those two poles regularly.
  3. It’s lightweight, but actually fairly smart. It’s view of the elderly as well-rounded people, imperfect and with needs and desires, is more complete and touching than most movies that you’ll see.
  4. Peter O’Toole is, still, one of the finest actors in the world.  Not only is his voice beautiful, but the way he speaks is commanding. His phrasing, his laughter, that little gleam in his sunken eyes still draw in viewers in a way that few other actors of any age could manage. His face is so expressive that in the quietest, most still moments, he finds the perfect expression of fading life. He is an artist.
  5. That said, he looks a good bit older than is 74 years would suggest. 
  6. In fact, though, the performances are strong throughout.
  7. The cinematography is effective, if not exactly inspired.
  8. Irritatingly, I couldn’t find it at my local Blockbuster and ended up buying it on a trip to Barnes & Noble where I was picking up a book on PHP & MySQL (which is another story entirely).
  9. “God, he was gorgeous.” What a surprising line to bring a tear to the eye.
  10. Venus is strongly recommended, although it isn’t what I would consider a truly important movie. Just an awfully good movie with a number of excellent performances and one transcendent turn by Peter O’Toole. Beware, though: there are a few scenes that step right up to creepy in the odd relationship.

None of which changes the fact that this guy has great taste in blog posts. This young lady does, too.

Update: A much better review than my own, and from a respected voice. I did like the movie more than he did, but I’m a sucker for O’Toole.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Could it Ever Happen?

What’s the over-under on the number of Kossacks who hate al Qaeda more than they hate Fox News? My guess is that the number would be pretty low…

To that question, Shawn has a quick thought for hour day:

But when I scroll down this thread and read the words of a Kos commentor who agrees with a comrade that Roger Ailes is Zawahiri incarnate, but disagrees--dissent is patriotic!--that O’Reilly is bin Laden ("Murdoch is bin Laden"), I say to myself, “Well, at least they understand what’s at stake and who the enemy is.”

When we elect liberals who hate al Qaeda as much as they hate Fox News, there will be more preemptive wars and shock-and-awe bombings than George W. Bush could ever dream of. 

Read the rest.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Cowboy Diplomacy, Part 1 of at Least 1

Bush and Putin Meet.

For a more nuanced view of the story, feel free to read this.

Other Bits of Recent Posts About Russia
Two Reminders
Another Look at Russia
Some Days Still Feel Like the 80’s
The Great Thing About an Arms Race With the Former Soviet Union

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