Saturday, December 31, 2005

BEST DOCUMENTARIES OF 2005



THIS DIVIDED STATE was placed on a list of the best 25 documentary films of 2005 by Video Librarian Magazine, a nationally distributed publication for hundreds of thousands of libraries.

Also on the list was MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, MURDERBALL, NO DIRECTION HOME (Martin Scorcese), and other blockbusters. Wow, I'm glad we made it to someone's "best of" list.

See the full list here.


Bryans update here: HERE is the link to the official Video Librarian Online announcement.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Deadeye Dick

This is something almost straight out of Kurt Vonnegut's novel.

The story is bizarre. The book is good.

I would advise reading the story and then reading the book.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

I saw The Life Aquatic when it opened and felt that it was good. I didn't feel that it matched the intensity of heart and humour that it's predecessors had (I'm not counting Bottle Rocket). It felt like it was missing something. It was good. It was funny. It just didn't seem comparable. I honestly left the theatre feeling that the missing key was Owen Wilson on the script. He'd co-scripted Tenenbaums and Rushmore and I had assumed he was the key.

I'd seen the film a couple of more times between then and now and felt the same way, although I warmed up to it more and more each time.

I watched it again last night and it finally clicked. It wasn't the movie that was missing something. It was me. The moment that finally clicked for me was when Steve wonders allowed if the Jaguar Shark remembers him and and he almost breaks down into tears. I think part of my prblem the first few viewings was that I was watching a Wes Anderson movie and felt that the characters were safe. I didn't think that Wes Anderson would kill Kingsley (Ned) ZISSOU. The first time I watched it I was wracking my brain to figure out if he'd really died or not.

IU was worried too much about things on the surface. What this movie really is, aside from a brilliant comedy, is a story about a man who's life has been unravelling for a decade and everyone around him sees it. The film is about the that moment where he realizes it. Sadly, it takes the loss of his best friend and a son he never had to show him.

This is a touching story about a man coming to a realization of his life. I was just too bamboozled by it's amazing delivery to get it until now.

Maybe I'm an idiot. Maybe I should have gotten it the first time, but I imagine that the reason everyone said it wasn't as good as Wes Andersons other movies when it came out was because they just didn't know what to look for yet.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Cultural Phenomenon


Elias and Derek watch Saturday Night Live quite often it seems and they'd both been telling me about the Chronicles of Narnia rap and how awesome it was.

I watched it.

It was funny, but I didn't expect this out of it: "The Chronicles of Narnia Rap" Officially Cultural Phenomenon.

Maybe it's not so surprising considering the article is from that ne'er-do-well liberal rag "The New York Times."

Monday, December 26, 2005

Thelma Schoonmaker on Fresh Air

This interview was on Fresh Air today and I thought it was completely fascinating. I've been a fan of Thelma Schoonmakers work for as long as I can remember caring about film and hearing her talk about it is always, always enlightnening.

She's cut some of the best films in the last 25 years. From Raging Bull to Goodfellas to Casino to the Aviator, she's cut them all. And she's arguably one of the best music montage editors in history. Granted, she has Martin Scorsese standing behind her every step of the way, that doesn't take away from the fact that she's the editor.

Editing is an art that not a lot of people seem to notice unless it's extremely wrong or particularly mind-blowing and Thelma Schoonmaker has been in the latter category for two-and-a-half decades. Think about some of the work she's done for a minute.

The boxing scenes in Raging Bull.

The last day of Henry Hill's freedom (Is that a fucking Helicopter?) in Goodfellas.

Joe Pesci getting beaten to death and tossed into a hole in Casino.

The sped up ambulance sequences in Bringing out the Dead.

The fight sequences in Gangs of New York.

I could go on about specific scenes and montages, and some would say, "Well that's Scorsese, forget Schoonmaker," but listening to them talk about each other they seem more symbiotic than anyone would care to admit.

And if it were really Scorsese, I'd bet he'd take the credit himself. She's a master of the art in my opinion and you can learn something from her.

Always be Cobbling


I love Glengarry Glen Ross. It gets quoted an awful lot around these parts. I have been in love with Alec Baldwins monolgue in the film for the better part of a decade.

I don't watch all that much Saturday Night Live, but Elias does and he told me about this sketch that Alec Baldwin did a couple of weeks ago where he did his monologue but tailored to santas elves.

I've finally found a link to it.

Here it is.

Just a sidenote, if you're auditioning at a cold casting call for a part and you have Baldwins Glengarry monologue prepared and you nail it, I'd let you come to call-backs almost no matter what.

Fishy Goings-on

Something fishy is going on in the White House and I think the Bush administration is going down. Karl Rove is polishing the brass on the Titanic.

I read this article in the Post this morning.
Basically, it says that Bush has been meeting with newspaper editors for damage-control purposes. I think damage-control for his image, he says national security. In his mind, I'd bet they're the same anyway. On top of that there is the admission by two reporters that they were paid off by Jack Abramoff, Republican Lobbyist, to write stories favorable to his lobby.

And who could forget the circus that went on a while ago (have we forgotten about it already) when Armstrong Williams and others took money from the administration itself to write stories and appear as pundits in favor of certain Bush policies that weren't all that great.

Can someone say "Ethics Probe?"

Something fishy is going on, indeed. And it's big.

Tampering with the press isn't right and Bush is running out of his magic juice that allows him to dodge anything. He can only dodge bullets like this and the warrentless wire-taps and election fraud for so long.

Year-end Arts Round Up

"This Divided State" made the year end movie round up in Utah, alongside "New York Doll" and "The Worlds Fastest Indian."

Good times.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS in South Park



CLICK ON LINKS BELOW TO PLAY:

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS short film
By Trey Parker and Matt Stone


THE FORGOTTEN CAROLS MP3s:

1. MERRY F@@KING CHRISTMAS
2. CHRISTMAS TIME IN HELL
3. THE DREIDEL SONG
4. THE CHRISTMAS POO
5. THE CIRCLE OF POO
6. OH HOLY NIGHT (Sung by Eric Cartman)

MORE TO COME...

Doug Fabrizio

The weirdest thing happened today. Someone commented on a couple of old posts. Both posts were about or had to do with Doug Fabrizio, the host of Radio West on KUER. He's a very good host on a very good program. So, here's the comments someone made:
Did you know that Doug Fabrizio cheated on his first wife while she was pregnant?

Did you know that she found out and kicked his ass out of the house?

He married the woman he was running around behind her back with, so I guess that's something.

Nice guy!!!
And then I checked our stats on the blog to find dozens of hits from blogsearch and technorati with "Doug Fabrizio" as the search string. They all came from the same IP address in Salt Lake City (67.42.23.100). Then I started checking links to all the other sites that had mentioned Doug Fabrizio in some way and they all had the same thing too. And those that didn't have that message looked as though they had deleted the message at about the same time.

It's mighty weird. I wonder if he did something to piss someone off and their best form of revenge was to post comments like these on a bunch of obscure blogs. (seriously, the most recent post about Doug was mine from a couple of weeks ago and it was well into the months beyond that.)

Personally, I couldn't care less what he does in his personal life, he gives great interviews and I like to listen to his show alot. I'm fascinated with the idea that someone (his ex maybe?) was so infuriated with him that this was the only course of action left. It's just plain interesting.

I wonder if we'll ever really know for sure.

Merry Christmas

I was going to write a post about how much I despise Christmas and think that Christ should be removed from public squares, but instead I posted a picture of Nien Nunb dressed as Santa with a glass of champagne, celebrating the true meaning of Christmas: The Commercialization Santa stands for and getting wasted.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Pretty Damning Stuff

Read this: Daschle: Congress Denied Bush War Powers in U.S.

Read this too: Bush's Snoopgate

The fact of the matter is that Bush broke the law and knew it. This crime actually comes with jail time and fines.

Let's give them to him.

Drop in the Bucket

This is good news, to be sure. Rummy announced that we'd be pulling out 7,000 soldiers early next year. Sadly, this isn't nearly enough.

Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein

I'm still a fan of Murtha's plan. What incentive is there for the Iraqi's to stand up for themselves if we're standing up for them? We need political solutions to Iraq, not military ones. I think they'd have a much better time standing up for themselves if we weren't there as we are the main targets. But according to Murthas plan, we'd be in the outlying countries, ready to swoop in if there was trouble the Iraqi security forces couldn't handle.

Read Murtha's Plan if you haven't yet. It makes a lot of sense, which is something very few things do in George Bush's America.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

THIS DIVIDED STATE, a battle of free speech

"THIS DIVIDED STATE"... Michael Moore comes to Utah, some Mormons try to kill him, a battle of free speech between red and blue.

For a short time only, the first 26 minutes of this controversial film will be available to watch or download FOR FREE on the website, http://www.thisdividedstate.com

Also, be sure to grab the DVD before the holiday season is over!

Information on the film:

"Filmmaking Gold!…Extremely Moving…" -The New York Times
"Excellent!...A Fascinating And Infuriating Story…" -TV Guide
"A Fascinating Film!...See It!" -Robert Greenwald, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price

"THIS DIVIDED STATE" is a documentary about liberal filmmaker Michael Moore's controversial visit to the "red" state of Utah 2 weeks before the 2004 election. Religious Mormons and local conservatives rose up in protest of Moore and began a crusade to cancel his speech. FOX NEWS' Sean Hannity came out one week before Moore to offer a conservative point of view, but it just added to the mounting chaos. Protest, bribery and even death threats descended upon a small, quiet Mormon town and some even claimed that Moore's arrival would usher in the Apocalypse.

A controversial film about the "divided state" of civil discourse in America and the ongoing battle of "red versus blue" ideology. Free speech on the rocks...

OFFICIAL SITE: http://www.thisdividedstate.com
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0444698
NOTE: The first 26 minutes of the film are available for a limited time on the website.

BioDiesel

I read that the Arctic National Wildlife is safe, for now. That's good news. The bad news is that Senate Republicans are not happy about it. The good news is that the Senate Democrats have offered a counter-proposal for decreasing our dependency on foreign oil: by increasing gas mileage requirements for automobiles. The bad news is that Senate Republicans don't like this idea as it would cause an undue stress on industry, especially their buddies making automobiles and refining gasoline.

The worse news is that neither of these solutions actually solve the problem.

The solution to the problem is to stop using oil. How is that going to happen? A lot of ways. Some of them are much easier than you would imagine.

My solution: What about Bio-Diesel? Did you know that the Diesel engine was designed to run on just about anything and was originally demonstrated at the 1900 worlds fair using nothing but Peanut Oil to power it? Why can't we have all the farmers whom we pay to not plant food just plant rapeseed and use that for fuel? Then we could all just start using diesel cars. Wouldn't that increase demand for new vehicles that use pre-existing technology?

This would help global warming. This would help foreign oil dependance. This would make the air cleaner. This would make driving to work affordable. This would allow John Q. SUV-Driver to commute to the city from the suburbs again.

Can anyone give me a reasonable argument against this? Seriously, let me know if there's something I haven't considered.

In addition to things like Bio-Diesel, why not move towards things like solar power and wind energy? And why can't we pour cash into hydrogen cells?

There's a lot of things we can do. ANWR shouldn't be the top of the list of ways to fix dependancy. If you ask me, neither should gas mileage requirements. Alternative fuels should be at the top of the list, special interest groups be damned.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This Divided State

I read stories like this and it makes me realize how the subject matter of "This Divided State" maintains relevance. The senate passed a ridiculous budget proposal 51-50 with Cheney as the tie breaking vote.

If the Bush administration still thinks they have a mandate to force through whatever tripe they want they are crazy. I can't believe they are opposed to the extension on the Patriot Act while it's being debated as well. Well I can. The Administrations position on it is quite politically smart. "We are risking lives if we don't just pass it now. Don't debate. Just pass it." They know that the provisions of the bill that would protect Civil Liberties won't give them the over-reaching powers that they want. And there's no way that Civil Liberties protections wouldn't pass given enough time because that's actually the will of the people. So, if George Bush comes out and says "This is reckless, just pass it how I want it now," it forces people who trust him to say, "screw Civil Liberties."

I just don't think the country is getting any less divided. Steve talks alot about not being red-states or blue-states but purple-states, but seeing votes and debates like this I really start to wonder.

I think the purple state idea is true in that we all want our Country to be better, stronger, safer and more compassionate. The Red-Blue divide comes into play when we try to figure out how to make that happen.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Carmike Goes Digital

I worked for Carmike Cinemas for about 7 years. Revolutionary they ain't. In fact I used to think their corporate motto was, "We trip over dollars to pick up dimes."

So, when I heard about this, I got really excited. I never, ever, ever expected Carmike Cinemas to be the leader in digital projection. But it's good to see.

I got to see about 10 minutes of Revenge of the Sith on one of these Christie machines and all I can say is "wow."

This is the future of film and I can't wait.

On a sidenote, this is way bigger news than anyone is giving it credit for. This is the third largest theatre chain in the country. That's a lot of projectors. I can't find news of it on IMDB, AICN, Google News, JoBlo, nothing. Is that weird, or have I actually scooped someone?

Review of the Film

Here's a good review of the film.

A Hobo and His Coffee

I was going through the archives of Saturday Shorts and I found a couple of shorts that I'm actually still happy with. They were both experiments in a way.

The First was A Hobo and His Coffee. I love silent films and it's infinitely fascinating to see what ideas and emotions you can produce using intercut images and music. No words. No dialogue. A Hobo and His Coffee was an attempt at a poignant feeling and I think it comes across. For a silent film it might seem a little long but I think if you can manage to get through it, it's worth it.

The Second is Breather. This was just an experiment with sound and images. I wanted to record a monologue on a mini-cassette recorder and film some images to it. So I wrote a cheesy monologue and turned it over to Matthew J. Baird. Then I went in a cut it all wacky and I think to good effect.

Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe this stuff sucks. But when you take into consideration both of them took about 6 hours to go from, "I want to shoot a short," to, "Okay, it's up on the internet," they seem like masterpieces.

Worse comes to worse, just check them out. I doubt you'll be mad at me for taking that 8 minutes of your time.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Andy Serkis for Best Supporting Actor

Who's with me? I think if you look at the performances of his work in the past and both performances he turned in on King Kong no one in their right mind would deny that he deserves at the very least a nomination.

Let's think about this logically.

King Kong.

Gollum.

Can you think of two better characters that one could play as well as he did? And could you think of an actor who turned in performances as perfect as these and not get nominated?

Is it because he's wearing a digital costume? I say who cares.

He deserves the nomination, and the award and no one will be able to convince me otherwise.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Patriot Act


The Patriot Act. If there is a piece of legislation more in need of checks and balances I'll eat my hat. I'm glad the Democrats fillibustered this. It would be a shame if they allowed themselves to be bullied into passing this dangerous and civil-liberty infringing law without scrutiny.

They should rename this the "Big Brother is Watching You Act." Benajmin Franklin said it best:
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Let's all remember that Bush is the one calling for the renewal under the basis that America is more secure because of it. Remember the Former 9/11 commision's report card from a couple of weeks ago? If the Patriot Act led to failing grades in 9/11 style attacks a few weeks ago, why is it so important now? Why isn't the congress debating legislation that would actually fix the problems in National Security outlined in their report? This just seems like another political ploy to distract from the real problem because no one actually wants to fix it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Saturday Shorts


There is a huge update over at Saturday Shorts in the MEDIA section.

There's some stuff over there to watch that might need a little explaining. I'll just go down the list of short films.

First on there is the "Standing 8" teaser. "Standing 8" was a movie that Elias and I were trying to get off the ground a couple of years ago. This trailer is what we put together to show potential investors. If we had actually known any potential investors at that time, I'm sure it would have worked. Steve actually came on board as the AD on that project, that's actually how Elias and I met him.

The "Infidelity" teaser is the same story, it's just a couple of years older. Elias and I wrote the script with another friend (Ryan Williams) and he was planning on directing with Elias and I producing. That's how the trailer was put together as well.

I don't know anything about "Mikes first short film" beyond the fact that it's Mike Newman's first short film.

Next is Mucha Libre, which was a music video my little brother and I put together in about four hours. It's quite funny.

Next is Pirate Club Episode 2. Elias and I help Derek write the comic book and every once in a while we put together a little short film of the Pirate Club. I cut this one and enjoyed doing so.

Next is the Redemption which is something Paul Green and Dave Skousen and Joel put together for a 24 hour film festival.

Lastly is "Toy Aisle." Jason and Derek ad-libbed that in one take. So... yeah.

Go watch them. They're all pretty good or at the very least worth a chuckle.

Another Shot Fired in the War on Christmas

Soldiers conscripted in the War on Christmas

Congress took time out of their busy schedule to protect the symbols of Christmas.

And then Rep. John Dingell from Michigan had this to say about it. This is good times. I hope someone has footage of this.

Here's the Daily Kos analysis of the congressional debacle.

Here's another Daily Show clip.

The Fictitious war just needs to stop. At the point where congressmen and women are participating in this fabricated war and passing discriminatory legislation against non-Christmas holidays, things have gone too far.

The House of Representatives have illustrated for the second time in the last two months how little maturity they have. From their one line resolution for immediate pull-out that was merely a temper tantrum thrown because John Murtha was right, to actually passing legislation to protect the iconography of Christmas, they have proved without a shadow of a doubt they belong less in the Halls of Congress and more in the halls of a Junior High School.

So, if you want, send Jo Ann Davis a letter.
She's the congresswoman who introduced the "pro-Christmas" legislation and let her know that she has more important things to be doing.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I'm an Ignorant Liberal

Apparently, I'm ignorant. Doug at all encompassingly lays down the "facts" about it. Although all the facts quoted to prove my ignorance are from a random spanish-language blog (and a newspaper I can't read because of the crappy public education system in the US) and he posted to my articles defending the idea that the increased numbers are decieving...

So I still don't see how I'm ignorant.

But maybe it's just because I'm a...well...you know..."liberal."

Maybe this is what I get for picking on my conservative sister-in-law and somehow couching her with all neo-cons, stereotypical as her positions might be. Perhaps this is some type of poetic justice.

Or something like that...

Also, whether there are more poor people in Venezuela or not, Chavez is still helping Americans in Poverty. It's undeniable, whether you're Conservative or Liberal, Chavez does seem to be trying to make a difference for the better.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

King Kong

I saw King Kong tonight. I can only give a one sentence review: I enjoyed and was thoroughly entertained by every single moment in the film, it's a masterpiece.

I loved the movie. It was a solid 10. But I want to take this time to talk about the absurdity of not enjoying a movie because of "bad CGI." A number of people, my own sister among them, left the theatre complaining as loudly as possible that the majority of the film looked no better than a mere X-Box game and that "Peter Jackson should know better."

To these people I say this: Humbug.

It's a movie. Why do movies need to have a hyper-realistic standard. Did the original King Kong look any more or less realistic? In this case it's the story that matters and if you aren't into the story then who cares about the CGI? Does that mean that Harryhausen movies are shitty because they don't meet the exacting standards of jaded nerds looking for a hyper-realistic cinema experience?

Then they complained that the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park looked better and that film came out 12 years ago. My argument to that is this: The rear projection in Notorious is better than the rear projection in North by Northwest, does that make North by Northwest a shitty film? No. North by Northwest is still a masterpiece, despite some dodgy effects.

But don't get me wrong, the effects in King Kong were amazing. My breath was taken away completely. I never doubted for a moment that Kong was a living, breathing creature that they must have captured and trained for the sole purpose of this production. And all of the sequences with Dinosaurs on Skull Island my have been a bit rubbery, but the human story is too interesting to care. Does the matte line around the Rancor lessen the effect of Anakin Skywalkers redemption? You see what I mean? Why would rubbery dinosaurs effect the tale of King Kong?

It is of my opinion that unless the CG is exceedingly bad in a film that isn't served well by the effect itself, you are not allowed to bitch about it around me.

I hate deferring to a master, but here it is:

"A special effect is a tool, a means of telling a story. A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing." --George Lucas

...And King Kong was anything but boring.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Kurt Vonnegut and Neil Diamond

Here's a new essay (sort of) by Kurt Vonnegut that "In These Times Published."

Here's an interview with Neil Diamond that was on "Fresh Air" today. (This one's for you Neal.)

Both unrelated, both really interesting.

Terminator Indeed


I feel so na├»ve. I really thought the good guys might win this one. I’d like to believe that the concept of redemption is not totally lost in our political and judicial systems, but what can you expect from the Terminator himself? I guess all those shitty movies made him believe that justice cannot be served without bloodshed. What an ass hole. How could the people of California give a Barbarian this type of power in the first place? How embarrassing.

By raise of hands, how many of you wanted Morgan Freeman to fry in The Shawshank Redemption? What? No one? We’re all a bunch of bleeding heart cry babies when it’s just make believe, aren’t we? But it jis’ don’t work like that in the ril world, do it?

On the subject of cinema, I submit that we petition George Lucas to further re-cut the ending of Return of the Jedi for his mega-ultra release of the Star Wars super deluxe special edition six pack, due out next year some time. To keep with the times and insure that these classics remain socially relevant, the following revisions should be made:

Moments after Darth Vader “sees the light” and hurls the Emperor into oblivion, saving the universe from another thousand years of military conflict under the opressive boot of the evil Empire, he has a heartfelt "Full House" moment with his son Luke, where he is forgiven for his past transgressions and given a proper Jedi funeral after which he is reunited with the living Force, right? Well, fuck that pansy ass shit. In the real world, Luke would deal out his own harsh brand of street justice beginning with the beheading of his crippled father before he has a chance to “bond” with him face to face, thereby becoming the very thing he fears the most, a heartless killer. After this, Vader shall be given a traitors funeral where the brave and wise Luke, along with Lando, Leia, Han, Chewie and the rest of the gang (Ewoks included) will feast upon his entrails while urinating on his corpse. The ghosts of Yoda and Obi-Wan shall then appear, giving high fives all around whilst blocking the way Vader's path into Heaven, lest he should attempt to sneak past them. Roll credits, only now John William’s original credits theme is replaced with Minor Threat’s “I Don’ t Wanna’ Hear It”.

Happy Holiday's!

Our War President

Finally, our war president has started a war worth waging! Just kidding. Seriously, I have to commend George Bush for demonstrating a little political correctness. A little doesn't hurt after all. I mean, when's the last time your Jewish friend wished you a Happy Hanukkah. That is... if you have any Jewish friends.

War on Christmas: Part 2

Here's some more links that will take you to the fake trenches on the fake War on Christmas. I posted the best audio and video I've seen in my post from last night.

First up is small, but I couldn't have said it better myself. This leads to what should be the REAL War on Christmas.

Here's a good one about "offensive" liberals in general. It also has a unique and funny tie in to that short story I wrote about "Late-Term Abortion." This guy's blog is a hoot to read anyway. I'm half convinced it's satire.

This one is so full of vitriol I still don't know if it's satire or not. The headline is Liberal Logic from the Looney Left.

You know, reading some of the arguments that believe that the war on Christmas is a real and tangible threat to Christianity, I'm convinced that this is a joke.

This whole thing, on both sides, has to be a joke. There is no way that conservatives can truly believe there is a war on Christmas because people say "Happy Holidays" more often than "Merry Christmas."

Personally, I don't like Christmas. I've been arguing for two weeks now about not putting the Christmas tree up yet. It's not that I'm some type of "secular liberal fag," as John Stewart remarked, it's just that the Holiday causes too much tension and stress and hustle and bustle for me to want to participate. I can't go anywhere near a mall (not that I go in malls anyway) or a store for a good month, plus some, because everyone else is running themselves ragged looking for that perfect gift for little Jimmy and Susie. I have to admit, I do like giving gifts though. But I don't think we need to use Christmas as a pretense to do that. And just becuase I don't like the tone of the season doesn't mean I get pissed off when someone tells me, "Merry Christmas."

The problem with these Conservatives is that they want Christmas to be this massive consumerist boner fest. You want to keep your "Christian" identity? You want people to respect your holiday as anything more than "shopping season?" Then start treating it more like a religious observance and less like an excuse to shop yourself stupid and into the poor house.

Take Christmas back, but don't blame "liberals" or "atheists" or "secularists" for the loss of the meaning of Christmas. It's Christian's who have turned their religion and it's holidays into an excuse to sell more stuff and make themselves rich. They're the smae Pat Robertson-types that think the Bible is a handbook for getting-rich-quick.

Contaminated

This is sad.

This is funny.

Aw, shoot. Who am I kidding? They're both kind of funny.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The War on Christmas

This "War on Christmas" Business is just nonsense.

No one has declared war on Christmas. Anyhow, I just wanted to put together a round up of stories , audio and video about it that I think are good.

This is from onegoodmove.org, here is a good recap of all of Bill O'Reilly's "War" on Christmas lunacy.

Here's one from Crooks and Liars that's a good 10 minutes, but it's really good.

Another one from onegoodmove.org, here is a dynamite Daily Show clip that is funny even after seven viewings in which The Daily Show attacks Bill O'Reilly's craziness.

And here is a very good discussion about it on Doug Fabrizio's always interesting "Radio West." This is an hour long but it's fascinating. He has people on that explain and debunk this entire "War on Christmas" business and they explain exactly where it came from (it started with Henry Ford's anti-semetic Conspiracy theories.)

It's all good stuff.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Elizabethtown and Syriana

On Friday night I saw one of the best films of the year. On Saturday night, I saw one of the worst.


Friday night I was able to see Syriana and it was an amazing film. It didn't play down to the audience and let you put the story together yourself. You're shown five small pictures of a thrilling political story and are forced to connect the dots all by yourself. It's like a Jack Ryan movie, only good and less insulting to the audience. It has a biting social commentary that's relevant to everything the American Government has done to a foreign country in the last twenty years and it's relevant to what the Administration is still doing. I would advise seeing it.

Now. Go see it.

On Saturday night I decided I had nothing better to do and saw Elizabethtown. It was not good. Far from it. In fact, it was the opposite of good. Cameron Crowe needs to stop making Cameron Crowe movies. He's too in love with his own style. Elizabethtown was like a bizarro, shitty version of Garden State. And Orlando Bloom puts in a performance on par with Cary Elwes' in Saw. Yes, it was that bad. Why won't directors let him speak above a harsh whisper? I don't get it. And Crowe actually forces Kirsten Dunst to suck. I mean, she's not the best actress or anything, but she can turn in a performance. Anyone else seen Spiderman? Basically, if I had to pick two words to describe this motion picture, they would be: "Fecal" and "Preposterous." "Pretentious" and "Shitty" would be the top two runners-up. I would advise against seeing it. At all costs.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Right Wing Lunacy

My sister-in-law was at it again today. I was driving her to work and she got on my case about Venezuela again. I don't know if you guys notice, but I like Venezuela and I like Chavez. This infuriates her. She tells me that he's anti-American and needs to be assasinated. It would honestly surprise you to know how many people think Pat Robertson's right on the mark with that one.

I think in my past posts about my sister-in-law's Conservative lunacy (I'll explain the difference later in the post about the difference between Right Wing-lunatics and ACTUAL Conservatives) I've failed to mention the fact that she is a Political Science Major at UVSC. For one of her classes (I think she said Geography) she had to look up some raw data about countries and stumbled upon some about Venezuela.

She explained to me that Chavez was, and I quote, "an unpopular moron." She went on to explain that, and again I quote, "His country has gone down 8.9% since he took office."

I had no idea what this statement could possibly mean. His country had gone down 8.9%?

She didn't have any of her documentation with her, but asssured me that I would find everything in order. She left it on my kitchen table. I assured her that I would offer it the same scrutiny as her paper on poverty and would proceed to shred it apart just as I did the other. She told me that the other paper, despite my shredding of it's "facts" and assertions was still, and yet again I quote, "solid and true. I believe it. You haven't been to Arkansas." As though her anecdotal mission experience was more accurate than the census bureau and a number of other credible sources I found. I told her as much.

So, I went and got the papers. The first was this paper: Social and Political Divisions Frustrate Efforts to Improve Venezuelans Lives. From this paper came her assertion that Hugo Chavez is wildly unpopular in his country and is running it into the ground. And by the sound of the headline, one might assume that she was right in her interpretation of it. But if you actually read the article, it goes on to say that Chavez was dogged by the 2002 Coup and resulting work strike and that these have impeded progress in his country, but despite these setbacks, UN agencies have seen advances in health and longevity in the people and the article applauds Chavez' broad-based response to HIV/AIDS.

To directly refute the claims of unpopularity, I found the following articles: Indybay. Alternet.
Dawn.

The only thing I could find that said Chavez was wildly unpopular was this from the BBC. Although, perhaps I see it through a filter, but it seems as though the opposition is fueled by America and consists largely of the wealthy in Venzuela.

That being said, you should also read all of these Greg Palast articles about Venezuela.

According to this site, Automobile sales in Venezuela have risen 73% over last year. does this sound like a country that's down 8.9%? Venezuela also enjoyed 16 percent GDP growth in 2004. Sound like things are getting better? Thought so.

Then I went through the other paper which was a Demographic Data and Estimates sheet for Countries and regions of the World from the same Population Reference Bureau source. I can't find anything on it about Venezuela and 8.9%, but that could just be because she didn't have the papers with her. But I did find this article that I thought was quite helpful as well: A Note on Venezuela's Economic Performance. This article went on to support the fact that although the numbers don't look on the surface like Chavez has turned things around, he has turned things around plus some. This came from the Center for Economic Policy and Research.

Then her and her mother mentioned the fact that Chavez was a godless communist because he kicked all of the Mormon Missionaries out of Venezuela. Which, at best, is only a half truth. He only kicked out those with US passports. All the others were allowed to stay. Why? Because he felt that they might be able to be used as spies for the CIA. Crazy? Maybe. Or maybe not. Or maybe he's sick of the church doing sketchy things with Venezuelan customs. I'll let Steve talk about that, as he served his mission in Venezuela and actually has proof of the actual wrong-doing.

Anyhow, long story short, this is another instance of how much conservatives like her have no idea what they're talking about. (She told her sister that it didn't matter how much I said she was wrong, I was the one who was wrong because I'm uneducated and not currently enrolled in school. I don't recall any schools paying her to come speak to their students...)

Oh, now to the difference between good Conservatives and dumb ones. I have some good friends that are and/or were in the military and I was talking with them a few weeks ago. We talked alot of politics, religion and philosophy. They're conservative, I'm a...well...you know... A "liberal." And in talking religion, we discussed the Christian way of taking care of each other and all of the socialist ideals that Christianity espouses.

He's a good Christian, I think I am, despite my lack of belief in an actual God, merely an internal transcendent thing... long story... We agreed about all the things that needed to happen in this country to make it better, better health care covering more people, social safety nets, etc.

Where we differed was politically. He felt that what we wanted for this country was the same. I feel the government has a responibilty in taking an active role in that process. My friend felt the oppposite, he felt it was the governments job to stand out of the way and let things work on a community level. This was someone whom I was able to have an intelligent and civil conversation with and we found that our beliefs about the way people should be treated, Christian-like, were the same. We found we differed in the way those goals should be reached. He was what I would call a smart conservative.

The dumb Conservatives are the ones who just shout Republican party talking points, like my sister-in-law.

I Thought You Ought To Know...

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Soul of the American People

This says it all:
Citgo Petroleum Corp., which is controlled by the Venezuelan government, signed a deal with three Bronx housing nonprofits to sell 5 million gallons of heating oil at 45 percent below the market rate, an estimated savings of $4 million. The discounted oil will heat 75 Bronx apartment buildings, housing 8,000 low-income working poor and elderly tenants.

"A lot of families are struggling," said Lenice Footman, who hopes her $600 monthly rent will be reduced. Neighbor Dionne Morales agreed, saying she is overlooking the criticism directed at Chavez. "If he can give oil to my country and help the lives of my community, I'm impressed," she said.

"The government should have done it," said Shirley Manuel, 52, a tenants' rights activist, wrapped up tightly in her wheelchair. "This is their country, this is their people -- they should be taking care of their own."
I really can't say anything more about this than the excerpts of the article I posted above. Hugo Chavez is doing more to positively affect the lives of the poverty-stricken in American than George Bush is.

These are the kinds of deals Democrats should be brokering if they want to win in office. "Compassionate" Conservatives wouldn't be able to keep up with this kind of compassion. They would mop up in the elections.

Top Ten Lists

A month or so ago, Neal over at Leftwich dropped this post on everyone who reads his blog. He asked for a top ten list of influences and we all sort of scrambled to figure one out.

Now, I don't like making top ten lists because they are constantly changing, but the reason I do like them is that it forces you to evaluate, even for a moment in time, what your tastes and influences are.

I've been on the lookout for a research assistant for a screenplay I'm working on and the first round of entry consisted of listing your top ten favorite movies. It gives you an idea of the type of person they are and how they would be to work with.

I was told by Charlie, one of the girls we met at our convocation down at Snow College, that her entire office had been working on theirs and I decided I would share my list and then ask everyone who reads this blog to post theirs in the comments.

So, here's mine and all of them are hotlinked to the IMDB. And these are in no particular order. Also, the Star Wars movies are excluded from this list as well as the Indiana Jones movies. They are above my list, I just like them too much and for different reasons.

1) Seven Samurai
2) Casablanca
3) Citizen Kane
4) American Graffiti
5) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
6) Jaws
7) Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
8) Raging Bull
9) Magnolia
10) The Godfather

I don't know. As I get this list together, I've already got a list of honorable mentions that I want to put together. I've even got a few questions for myself. Such as, "Where's all the Hitchcock and Kubrick you dumbass?" And, "I can't believe you forgot Charade and Goodfellas, or even Double Indmenity." And I'm wringing my neck because I forgot to put the Third Man on the list as well as The Last Temptation of Christ.

God-damn these lists. I tried to pick movies that for 1) I watch frequently (other than Star Wars and Indiana Jones, I can't stress that enough) and 2) I try to get other people to watch alot. (FUCK! I forgot Glengarry Glen Ross and Network!)

Maybe a better list would be filmmakers. Filmmakers who will park my ass in a theatre seat no matter what. Why don't we save that one for next week?

UPDATE: I actually let out a roar of anger that I left DARK CITY off of my list. The fact that I did both confuses and infuriates me.

UPDATE 2: I put steves list below this post so it's in better context.

STEVEN'S TOP TEN LIST

I think saying "these are the best 10 films ever" is ridiculous. But, I'll play along:



1) 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick
2) Blue Velvet, David Lynch
3) The Godfather Part II, Francis Ford Coppola
4) Roger and Me, Michael Moore
5) Paradise Lost, Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger
6) American Movie, Chris Smith
7) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Peter Jackson
8) Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick
9) Capturing the Friedmans, Andrew Jarecki
10)Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: PART 2

It wasn't that bad. It had a couple of moments that could have been better or made more sense (why in the hell would Mr. Beaver and the other kids chase Edmund to within 100 yards of the White Witchs castle and then start running?)

But I was able to suspend enough disbelief and go back to being a kid that I reall enjoyed it.

Let me stress that: This is a kids movie. This is the movie to show your kids before they are old enough to grasp The Lord of the Rings.

And I'm so glad that Adamson went with generally period music. I was afraid that instead of the Andrews Sisters I was going to get like... the Dixie chicks or something.

And the Christian undertones don't bother me. It's all mythology to me and it's all fascinating. If you ask me, Narnia is every bit as relevant as a religious teaching as The Bible, Star Wars or the Odyssey.

I also loved these books as children. So that explains a connection to the characters I'm not sure I would have had if I hadn't grown up with them. It was the same thing with Sahara. I think it was a bad movie, but I was so enamored by the characters after having read Dirk Pitt books from the time I was in grade school and beyond.

So, go see it and be sure to take your kids.

(Also, Prince Caspian was my favorite of the books, I can't wait to see that one on screen.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

David Lynch


December 7, 1941


It's the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

Stories like this interest me to no end. I worked at a theatre for while with a guy who had been an usher there for almost forty years and we would always talk about the war. (His name was Glenn Miller, just like the bandleader) But it was fascinating to hear him describe what was happening from his perspective. He actually joined up a few days before Pearl Harbor, then as soon as Pearl Harbor happened, he used the line, "I joined up because of Pearl Harbor," to pick up girls. At least that's how I remember the story, anyway. He ended up serving during the war in India.

War veterans are the most interesting people in the world to talk to.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Former 9/11 Commision

I want everyone to read this article and remember it the next time you hear a Bush administration official make the claim that they are making us safer.

Read this one here, too. This one comes from the Times of India.

People around the world are seeing the collosal failures of George Bush and he's not doing us any good.

And if I hear one more conservative shouting, "These people shouldn't be talking about the failures of the government, they're giving information to terrorists and making us less safe, blame them," I'm going to scream.

The only people who are at fault here is the Bush regime and the House and Senate, not people pointing out how badly they've failed.

And remember, this is what they ran their election on. They promised that they were making us safer and it was impossible for the opposition to do it. While it might have been impossible for the Democrats, then what makes them so unwilling now?

(photo courtesy: Freeway Blogger.)

Kay Anderson is a Very Nice Man



I don't believe it. After months and months of becoming an icon for everything wrong and evil, Kay Anderson finally has an avid fan.

For those of you who have actually seen THIS DIVIDED STATE, I don't need to tell you how hilarious it is that someone would actually describe Anderson as "quite generous". Maybe they were referring to that scene in the film where Anderson ATTEMPTS TO BRIBE THE COLLEGE WITH $25,000! Generous, indeed.

"Free speech works because most of us have the good sense to know when to keep our mouths shut!"- Kay Anderson, Freedom Fighter

Monday, December 05, 2005

X3 Trailer


I saw the trailer to X-men 3 tonight.

I still have no increasing level of faith in this project.

Juggernaut looks as though he found Ram-man's old costume from the Filmation He-Man series in a dumpster. Beast looks as though he could go either way.

Where's Nightcrawler?

Why is Jean with Magneto? Is making her "bad" instead of "dead" or even "phoenix" the best Ratner could come up with? Last I checked, Dark Phoenix never had any group affiliations.

I suppose we'll see, won't we.

Vonnegut

It's been awhile since I laid down some Kurt Vonnegut on everyone, so here's something I found in Jailbird that I quite liked:

"What could be so repulsive after all, during the Great Depression, especially, and with yet another war for natural wealth and markets coming, in a young man's belief that each person could work as well as he or she was able, and should be rewarded, sick or well, young or old, brave or frightened, talented or imbecilic, according to his or her simple needs? How could anyone treat me as a person with a diseased mind if I thought that war need never come again--if only common people everywhere would take control of the planet's wealth, disband their national armies and forget their national boundaries; if only they would think of themselves ever after as brothers and sisters, yes, and as mothers and fathers, too, and children of all other common people--everywhere. The only person who would be excluded from such friendly and merciful society would be one who took more wealth than he or she needed at any time."

You're right, this probably isn't possible, but it's an ideal we can work towards.

Things would be a lot better.

Democrats Grow Balls, Become Confused...

I just hope they don't put a knife to their own testicles (or ovaries for you ladies out there). So we've had Democrats coming out of the WTF? Closet and begin to strongly attack the Bush Administration. Murtha, Reid, Boxer, Biden, etc seemed to have unzipped and discovered their own political balls.

How cute.

But, it won't last long: The Washington Post today talks about the Democrats being "split over Iraq". Uh, oh. This all sounds too familiar. Democrats not being able to make a solid and precise decision. I wrote a while ago (The Rise of the Democrats), that more Demos need to come out publically and have their point of view known. And that's happened, but they're all saying different things. Why can't they all get together (with their idiot leader Dean) and ask, "So, what's the party's official position here?" They decide on one maybe two major points and then turn around and go on the cable news channels speaking the same language. It's not the freakin' hard, guys.

Ok, and someone needs to bitch slap this guy:

He's seems nice enough, but he says batshit things like "Everything is going fine in Iraq!". Ok, Joe, first of all, you're wrong. And second of all, that's not the official position of your party, so shut the hell up. Individualism is fine and dandy and having your own opinion is super, but the American Public doesn't give a rat's ass about your nifty insight. They want to see unity on both sides. When one side comes apart (Republicans with Rove, Delay, Libby), they shift away from them. So now the ball is with you, Democrats. Don't make the same mistake. You have been blessed with an undeserved pair of gigantic, dinosauric balls. Stop jerking off.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I've read these books dozens of times over my life and in anticipation of the movie I've opted to read them again. I started with the Magicians Nephew and just finished the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe today with my kids.

I don't think the movie is going to suck.

I hope not anyway. But the story is so oddly simple yet so much else is going on in it. It's ripe for dissection in a mythological sense (it's a retelling of a much more popular mainstream myth). But at the end of the day it's just an interesting and engaging story.

I have to tell you the first and foremost reason this movie could go south.

The director is the man responsible for Shrek.

I know, I know, I'm doing all I can to control my gag reflex as well. Shrek was a terrible movie and five will get you ten that the sequel was too.

I just hope the quality of the source material has some Deeper Magic from before the Dawn of Time that will let it come through this man's hands unscathed.

So, I'll see everyone on Thursday night for the midnight show. I hope.

SIDENOTE: I'm probably not going to write a review about Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang! Suffice to say that it skates a thin line of being too stylized and pretentious (like Snatch was). And I think the only thing that keeps it on this side of sanity is Robert Downey, Jr. And it's not a "great film" either. It's just entertaining as all hell.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang!

It was good. I really enjoyed it.

I'll post a full review later perhaps.

But it would do you well to see it at least once.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Serenity


My guilty pleasure is science fiction films.

I really like them (except the Matrix, fuck those movies). I went and saw Serenity tonight and was quite pleasantly surprised. The problem with science fiction nowadays is that, generally, it sucks. This felt like a Kurosawa/Leone movie in space. It had some elements that I liked that felt a lot like some Heinlein I'd read in "The Past Through Tomorrow."

I really liked it.

It wasn't Star Wars or anything, but I really enjoyed it. Yes, you need to suspend disbelief here and there, but it was solid and most importantly entertaining.

Go see it, or at least rent it.

I know I'm going to get my hands on the TV series that it spun from now... and I can't wait.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Late Term Abortion

It's been just over a month since I posted a short story, so I figured I'd start December off with one.

Late Term Abortion.


Let me know what you think. Or don't.