Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Huffington Post Editorial

Here's the Huffington Post article about the minimum wage.

Feel free to go over there and comment.

Record Breaking Box-Office Disappointment

The Reuters News Service reported on Memorial Day that the batch of summer movies thus far has underperformed.

Seriously. I have proof. You can read the article here.

Spider-Man 3, arguably the best of a batch of movies that were just 'okay' or worse, broke box office records earlier in the month of May, taking in a whopping $151 million dollars in just three days. The third Shrek picture followed suit with $121 million dollars in three days to start with. Then the third installment in the poorly written, poorly executed Pirates of the Caribbean saga pulled in an amazing $115 million.

That's $400 million dollars in a single month divided up over three weekends to three different companies.

When you take into account the quality of these films you'll see that these movies brought in much more cash than they deserved. Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean were rushed sequels of rushed sequels to movies that weren't all that good in the first place in order to milk money out of people who wouldn't know a good movie if it bit them on the ass. Spider-Man seemed like the studio forced every bad idea they had ( i.e., Venom) on a good director and made him flush his wonderful series down the toilet. (Similar to what happened with last years X-Men sequel, sans director.)

The problem with the film business (among dozens of others) is that studios put all of their eggs into blockbuster baskets. Yeah, they make a ton of money sometimes, but I think they'd make a lot more money if they made twenty smaller films for the price-tag they attached to one of these. If only three of those are runaway hits, they've made all their money back, plus some. And then the paying audience is rewarded by a much wider array of movies to see by a more eclectic sea of directors.

I just hate to see these giant studios break box-office records and bring cash in hand over fist and then complain about market over-saturation and underperformance. With this batch of movies, they should count themselves fortunate if they go beyond breaking even.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My DVDs

I had decided a few months ago that I had so many movies that I needed to keep them straight somehow so I made a list of them that I've been updating slowly as I buy a new movie.

I thought it might interest some of you to look at it.

I could be mistaken.

Feel free to give me all the shit you want. Or ask me if you want an opinion on one. I'll also be honest, there are about a dozen here (maybe 2) that I haven't watched yet.

Anyway, if you want to check it out, click here.

Website Update

The ShineBox MP site got an update.

Go ahead and click here to check it out.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Nerd-gasm


Jesus Christ.

Watch this and marvel.

Star Wars is pretty much the coolest thing in the galaxy and this Clone Wars cartoon seems up to par with the perfection of the films.

Consider me first in line.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Iraq War pays off for Middle-Class

I was surprised to hear that while the Democrats buckled on the timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq by excluding it from the spending bill, it has been severely under-reported that they also rammed the much-needed minimum wage and limited tax break package down Bush's throat.

As soon as Bush signs the bill, the middle-class will see a long overdue increase in wages that has so far dogged them for the last decade.

While I'm still disappointed in the fact that the Democrats backed off of the withdrawal I'm quite excited to see that Americans will finally benefit in some small way for the so-called "War on Terror in Iraq." Conservatives should rejoice that we're finally reporting on something good happening because of Iraq. I'm tired of all the bad news, too.

Perhaps this is a shallow way to look at the war, but even the most ardent of anti-war activists can see this as a silver lining to a little black rain cloud.

But I suppose the Iraq War isn't just a little black rain cloud.

It's a Katrina-sized hurricane.

Friday, May 25, 2007

1000th post!


It's fitting that our 1000th post here on this blog would be to remind everyone that 30 years ago today, the art of film and cinema was changed forever.

May 25, 1977 saw the release of Star Wars.

I have a hard on for Star Wars and you all know that. It's been one of the single most defining pieces of popular art on my consciousness and on my life. It's brought me together with friends, it's help foster a deep love for films and filmmaking, it's provoked an amazing discovery and introduction to the worlds of compartive myth, it's given me a name for my firstborn son and it's always been there for me when I needed some cheering up.

I'm sure in some small way these films have impacted your life as well.

If you drink, raise a glass to Star Wars tonight.

Revisit one of the films tonight. They're much, much better than you remember and they're even better films than we deserve.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End

I like Pirates. I think they're cool. So cool, I helped put together an entire comic book series devoted to kids thinking they're pirates.

But these Pirates of the Caribbean movies are giving real (or pretend kid) pirates a bad rap.

I'm not even sure where to begin in tearing this film a new asshole. And before we get too deep into this, you might be interested to read my thoughts about this films predecessor, here. So, now that that is out of the way, we may as well start with this: This film was way too long, the story made no sense, the twists were predictable and boring, Keith Richards was wasted and all of the actors (Geoffrey Rush particularly) felt like they were phoning performances in out of contractual obligation and paychecks.

Aside from all the preposterous bullshit in this picture (there's a quote for a poster, "Preposterous Bullshit" --Bryan Young, This Divided State) there are a few major, major complaints I have. Firstly, the only thing I liked about the second Pirates picture was Davy Jones. Bill Nighy was amazing and the animation was stunning. But in this film they neutered him and relegated him to the status of a side-character. This was a bad and stupid move.

Next was the fact that the screenwriting was down right sloppy. This felt like such a rushed rough draft (they didn't even make it to calling it a first draft) that they had left in characters and subplots that they needed to remove. (Like Calypso? Norrington? The Stupid Zombie Pirate dudes? The Monkey? The Pirate King crap?) This film, like both it's predecessors, needed to be tight 90 minute affairs. Instead, we're assaulted with three hours of shrill, shrieking fraud.

I can enjoy swashbuckling action. I can, I really can. But this was bloated drivel.

And it felt so copied. Take Keira Knightly's impassioned (well, as impassioned as she can get under Verbinski's direction) speech for war for instance. It was like a mix between Aragorn's rise to battle speech at the end of Return of the King and William Wallace's "freedom" speech in Braveheart. Only it was performed with less than an eighth of the conviction of either of those two performances. And they took beats out of Star Wars but didn't know how to use them properly. Like, the first hour of the film is a dragged out boring version of the first fifteen minutes of Return of the Jedi. If you're copying the first fifteen minutes of Jedi, how can you screw it up? You drag it out over an hour and instead of the heroes "rescuing" their fallen comrade, they merely pick him up as though all he needed was a ride and a stiff drink.

God. There isn't enough time to describe everything wrong with this movie. The more I think about it, the more time I realize I'm wasting on something that is less than worthless. (Hey, there's another good poster quote for this film: "...Less than worhtless...")

And this piece of crap is going to make so much money. Have IQ's dropped that sharply? Remember when people used to be able to differentiate the wheat from the chaff? This film succeeding would be like Superman IV or Batman and Robin making a trillion dollars at the box office. People used to know when they were being fed crap. Why don't they know anymore?

Long story short: If you have half a brain, this movie will be terrible to you. If you haven't already slapped the cash down at the box-office and surrendered three hours of your life to it, don't. You'd be better off doing pretty much anything else. And that includes spooning feces into your mouth with a rusty old spoon.

Before I go I want to leave you with a video of some real pirates:

Ripping Footage

I'm ripping footage on two computers at the office right now and I wouldn't advise ever again ripping footage for two documentary's in the same room at the same time again.

It's a headache.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean 3


I'm getting my ass dragged to pirates 3 tonight. I'd rather bathe in pig-shit, drunk than go see this movie.

Also, I'm really annoyed at the Piratification of Tom Sawyers Island.

Tomorrow, I'll post a review of the movie (most likely of the "scathing" variety.)

Star Wars: Celebration 4

I wish I were there....

In the words of Rene Belloq, "It was not meant to be."

If anyone who reads this is going or is there, you better send me pictures and updates.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

General Update

I know things seem to have quieted down since we caused that foofaraw over Mitt Romney's renunciation of things he believe, but it's been a busy week and it's only getting busier.

We've been locked up in the office ripping footage for both docs (The Cheney Controversey doc (which is now up on IMDb with the working title "The BYU 25") and the Obesity Doc) and add to that all of the birthday's this week. (Yesterday was Anakin's fifth birthday, Friday is Star Wars' 30th...)

And we've got ten hours of shoots planned for Thursday and another ten hours planned for Friday. In between those days of shooting, I'm getting my ass dragged (believe me, I don't have a choice otherwise I wouldn't go) to see the next craptastic installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. I'm going to have to sneak in some beer to get through it. I don't think I could stomach it sober.

Elias and I are also working on another spec script (the story is dynamite) and we're still working on the proposal for another documentary.

We'll have some photos of the office to put up soon.... So look out for those. And I've got some biting political commentary I'm planning on working on as soon as I get some time.

So....

There you go. A general update.

(Also, I really want to see this movie.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MICHAEL MOORE HATES AMERICA

* * *
I have to be honest, Michael Moore Hates America is a good movie. I didn't really expect to see this film due to my already long list of overdue movies to watch. But, my best friend John watched it a while ago and recommended it and so, when I stumbled across it for free on YouTube, I thought I'd at least give it 10 minutes of my time. And after the first 10 minutes, I was sold. I continued watching all of the parts (10 in all) and I was completely engrossed. The film is not a hit piece on Michael Moore and the title really does a disservice to the actual arc of the film. This doc is more a personal journey of Michael Wilson as he tries to discover whether America is as bad as Michael Moore says it is. He analyzes some of Moore's unethical editing techniques in Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 and interviews some folks who took part in those films that felt he treated them unfairly.

For instance, the infamous Charlton Heston speech in
Bowling for Columbine is cut up and edited from two different speeches and omits a really fucking important statement of Heston. When Heston's NRA meeting comes to Littleton after Columbine, he answers his critics who said he shouldn't come there so soon after the school shootings. "Don't come here?" We're already here!", Heston pronounces. Moore cuts his speech here, but in reality, Heston continued... "We're the firefighters and doctors and house wives and school teachers. We're the rescue workers that arrived at the school after the shootings. We're Americans and our home is everywhere." Moore cutting this part out is stupid and lazy. Wilson actually gets up to a mic during one of Moore's speeches and accuses him of the Heston editing. Moore blurts out, "No! Those scenes are honest and edited correctly. You need to get your facts straight."

In the end, Moore never offers a personal interview to Wilson and the film ends with a great sum up of what it takes to be honest in documentary filmmaking and what it takes to be (to quote Sean Hannity) a Great American. A good film.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sicko preview

I have to, have to, have to see this film.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

JOKER REVEALED

I caught this over at Ain't It Cool News. And, I have to agree with Harry Knowles, this is god awfully scary. Like a comic book John Wayne Gacy. For those of you who aren't nerds, this is Heath Ledger playing The Joker in the new Christopher Nolan Batman movie.

Bush 'Worst in History'


Sorry I've been lax in the posting lately. My Internet connection has been dodgy for the last few days and got back up to full strength today.

I just wanted to drop in a link and a note about Jimmy Carter stating the obvious:
Former president Jimmy Carter called President Bush's international relations "the worst in history" and also took aim at Bush's environmental policies and the administration's "quite disturbing" faith-based initiative program.
Strong words from a former President of the United States.

I just wish more people like him would come out this strong. And I wish they'd take things one step further and actually encourage talk of impeachment. If the Bush administration hasn't committed high crimes or misdemeanors, who has?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I Believe in Harvey Dent


God I want to see this movie...

Republicans Are Against Calling It Torture

"Any Republican Debate is torture."
-Howard Dean

Photo of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques"


The Republicans have explained what they are for, and what they are against.

  • For: Torture
  • Against: Calling it torture
A bunch of kool-aid drinkers are giving Bryan and I heat because of our 3 previous posts. It seems we upset people when we call people, like Mitt Romney, "pro-torture". But I'm not just calling out Romney cuz Guiliani, Huckabee, and Thompson are also on that long list. Again, my extra beef with Romney is that the rest of the Republican Candidates don't claim allegiance to a very liberal, socialist religion (Mormonism) and then advocate torture and suppressing human rights. That's just silly.

But anyways, here are 3 videos from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report talking about the "pro-torture" Republicans.

THE DAILY SHOW CLIP

THE COLBERT REPORT analysis to why people applauded torture

THE COLBERT REPORT interview with Howard Dean

"If you want to run a great country, you don't torture people. The only person who knew what he was talking about last night was John McCain. John McCain knows something about torture. The rest of those guys are just windbags."
-Howard Dean

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Huffington Post Editorial

Steve and I whipped up an editorial about Mitt Romney's performance at the GOP debate last night for the Huffington Post.

Thought you guys might want to read it.

Click here to read "Mitt Romney Renounces Mormonism".

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mormon Mitt: "I Heart Guantanamo This Much"

NOTE: I wrote this blog entry with Bryan. It was basically an expansion of my old blog post.

If any of you have watched the news at all in the last few months, it might not be a surprise to you that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. In fact, it's pretty much the only thing a lot of people now about him and his candidacy. It's practically what he stands for. What may actually surprise a number of you though, is that during the second GOP debate, we watched Mitt Romney apostatize himself from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Moderator Brit Hume (of FOX News fame) laid out a "24"esque hypothetical terrorist scenario about ticking time bombs and mass death in American supermarkets. He then asked, and we're paraphrasing here, "If a group of terrorists connected with the bombings, are captured in Florida and then sent to Guantanamo Bay for interrogation, should we torture them if they have information about future attacks?"

John McCain answered (again, paraphrasing): "I was tortured in Vietnam and it was grossly inhumane. If those roles were reversed, and we as Americans were the ones torturing, we would lose all respect and dignity. We don't torture people. And besides, the people you torture would just end up telling you what you wanted to hear and not necessarily the truth."

His response was answered with stone cold silence from the audience.

Next was Rudy Giuliani: "Yes! Do whatever you have to do to those people to get them to talk! Whatever necessary! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! Remember when I was there, in New York, on 9/11?"

The audience erupted into applause.

Then it was Mitt Romney's turn. This is his exact quote:

"You said they're at Guantanamo? I'm glad they're at Guantanamo. I don't want them on our soil. I want them at Guantanamo where they don't get the access to lawyers that they'd get when they're on our soil. I don't want them in our prisons, I want them there. Some people say that we should close Guatanamo, my view is: We outta double Guantanamo."

The audience burst into thunderous applause.

He then finished: "Enhanced interrogation techniques need to be used."

So Mitt Romney has it out for habeas corpus? He's against due process of law? He's all about torturing human beings? We'd bet his excommunication letter is coming in the mail faster than those sent out to all those Mormon feminists who supported the Equal Rights Ammendment in the 1970s. I mean if the church excommunicates women for wanting equal rights, then a pro-torture, anti-Constitution church member is totally fucked.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, there is something called the Articles of Faith. It's sort of like a Mormon version of the Ten Commandments. The 12th article discusses the need to obey, honor and sustain the law (the Constitution). Advocating the denial of basic constitutional rights (which Americans deeply believe are unalienable and God-given) is in direct contradiction to this article. The 13th article also calls for members to be benevolent, virtuous and good to all men (emphasis added).

I fail to see where torture (whoops, sorry, we mean "enhanced interrogation techniques") fits into benevolence, virtuosity or being good to anyone.

In "The Book Of Mormon", which is another book of scripture used by Mormons, it is claimed that Christ came to America following the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection and preached to the people here. According to the Book of Mormon, Jesus is said to have taught the following:

"And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy, but I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.

That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven."

And then in an alleged revelation to Joseph Smith, Christ said:

"And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me."

Despite George Bush and Alberto Gonzales' recent best efforts, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the constitutional right of people to seek writs of habeas corpus even when declared enemy combatants.

Mitt Romney's statements and political standings fly in the face of so many teachings of the church he claims active allegiance to.

We've also noticed that every pundit, analyst and news maker in the world wonders whether or not his Mormonism is going to affect his candidacy.

Personally, we really don't care if he's a Mormon. Ok, well maybe Steve does. But, we know plenty of Mormons (hell one of us (Steve) is Mormon and went on a mission) and they run the gamut of scholars and saints to zealots and morons so the "Mormon" issue really isn't a big deal. They consist of good and bad people just like any other organization, religious or otherwise.

The problem with Mitt Romney, in our minds, is his willingness to say anything to get elected. Including renouncing the teachings of the church he's become such a national role model for.

(You can watch McCain, Giuliani and Romney's responses for yourself at Crooks and Liars. Steve and Bryan blog daily at "This Divided State ".)

Romney's a Mormon?

I think people should stop taking issue with the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. I know plenty of good Mormons.

People should take issue with the fact that he's willing to change his stance on anything to accomodate what he thinks people want to hear to get him elected. More than a regular politician even.

The guy's a conservative in liberal temple garmnets and conservatives clothing.

Take this for instance:



That was as righteous as any temple ceremony. But is that really Mitt? Or an evil Mitt-bot?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lucky You


I just wanted to go on the record with how preposterously horrible the film "Lucky You" was.

I got dragged to see it, but even those who did the dragging left as disgusted as I was.

I had some small glimmer of hope for this film. It was directed by Curtis Hanson who has wowed me in the past. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he directed my favorite film of 1997. I mean, if you don't count the Star Wars Special Editions, L.A. Confidential was certainly the best movie of '97. The only other film that could approach it was As Good As it Gets. And I really liked his follow-up to L.A. Confidential, WonderBoys, based on the Michael Chabon novel.

I never actually saw another movie he's made since then. I heard 8 Mile was okay, but after this steaming turd I'll think twice about seeing more Curtis Hanson pictures. Were you to steal a copy of this film you truly would be a turd burglar.

Lucky You was seriously that bad.

And it had a competent cast. Eric Bana, Robert Duvall and Drew Barrymore are all capable (the former two much, much moreso than the latter) but they were given nothing to work with. Nothing. The dialogue was so bad I literally asked if we could leave at one point and at another point I had to restrain myself from throwing my bottled water at the screen. The poker in the film was awful, too. The poker lingo, the filming the poker, the cameras filming the poker and the announcers, it all really, really sucked.

And the ending of the film was laughable.

The problem was the script, it really was. And when I looked into that, it seems as though the writer, Eric Roth, is truly a mixed bag. His pendulum swings wide, from "Munich" to "The Postman".

It sucks that this film was more Postman than Munich.

I thought people hired readers in Hollywood to prevent dreck like this from getting made...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

STEVE'S MOVIE REVIEWS

Spiderman 3
* * *
I thought this film suffered a bit from the ole sophmore slump, but was generally well acted and breathtakingly action packed. Spiderman 2 set such a high standard that Sam Raimi found it obviously difficult to out match himself. Disorganized and cluttered, Spiderman 3 is a clump of brilliantly executed sequences glued together by redunancy and melodrama. I think the ideas behind Peter's seduction with fame and glory matched with the birth of Venom was brilliant. I would even go as far to say that Sandman was a believable villian and I enjoyed his purpose in the film. But I think there were way too many Spidey enemies in this one. Peter vs. Peter, Peter vs. Harry, Spidey vs. Venom, Spidey vs. Sandman, wow. Too scattered to be perfect, but still good.


28 Weeks Later
* * * 1/2

This was everything a post-apocalyptic horror film should be: Dreadfully hopeless, mercilessly brutal, and full of social commentary (i.e. The American military gets scared and fire bombs and then gases an entire city). Brilliant. My expectations for this film were met and exceeded. I would argue that it was on par with Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (which I just re-watched 2 days ago). I was often jolted and shocked and I remained attentive throughout the entire film. I had a few consistency problems, though. When they were in the gassed alley way and the infected were trying to get into the car, how come none of the windows were broken? In Boyle's film, the infected made it a point to break as many car windows as possible to get to the inhabitants inside. Also, what's up with Daddy Zombie? I felt he might have been used a narrative puppet rather than an unfortunate turn of fate. But, other than that, a near perfect film. Can't wait for 28 Months Later.

Movie Review: 28 Weeks Later

I saw 28 Weeks Later last night.

It was pretty good. It was a fairly tight zombie movie. I had a couple of minor complaints about it, though. And maybe they aren’t even complaints.

The film has a very strong opening. In fact, it has a preposterously strong first act. So strong, in fact, that I was a little disappointed that it turned back into a zombie movie. With all of the issues and relationship problems raised in the first act, I could have kept watching that movie and not felt bad about it. It was very “Walking Dead.”

For those of you who don’t read comics, “Walking Dead” is probably one of the greatest comic-book series that has ever graced the medium. It’s written by Robert Kirkman and I would highly recommend it to all of you. They’re up to issue 37 and it’s amazing. It’s like a zombie movie that never ends. It happens after the zombies have attacked and it’s about the survival and struggles that you never see in zombie movies about the changes zombie attacks make in people over a long-term survival attempt. It also deals with them adjusting from life before the zombies to completely shift to life after the zombies. (In fact, if you're going to spend 10 bucks on something zombie related, I'd almost recomend Walking Dead first.... It's just that good.)

The first act of 28 Weeks Later deals with these sorts of issues and I could’ve been content (perhaps even more content) watching that movie unfold. But, since this is a Hollywood zombie picture, zombies coming back from the dead is the Act 1 turn. From there on out, it’s pretty standard zombie fare.

And it’s all good, tight and entertaining.

And I enjoyed it.

But I’ve seen it all before. Which is why I was halfway hoping that they kept on the track that the first act started.

The acting was all really good. Even the kids. The chief medical officer (played by Rose Byrne who was previously seen putting in a spectacular performance as Senator Amidala’s handmaiden in the always wonderful Attack of the Clones) was good. Robert Carlyle was the centerpiece of the film though. I just wish (spoiler alert) he hadn’t been zombie-fied so quickly.

All in all, this movie was entertaining and much better than average horror film fare.

BYU's Daily Universe Opinion Pieces

The following pieces were printed a few days ago in BYU's Daily Universe paper. The first one is written by someone who is just foaming at the mouth because of the "alternative commencement". I hope he isn't losing any sleep over it. Poor guy.

Then read the rest of them for some hilarious numbskullery:


No gratitude shown

The graduates who organized the alternative commencement were like someone who receives a surprise birthday party who then sends everyone home because they didn't like the cake.

BYU gave the graduates the chance of a lifetime to have a vice-president speak at their graduation, and they tossed it aside without any gratitude for the opportunity.

Then they had the audacity to make libelous accusations about the vice-president with only suspicion, not factual evidence, to back up their claims. Then they invited several liberal figures to come have a political rally under the misleading name of "alternative commencement,"?? because they claimed to want to hear an opposing view to what Dick Cheney had to say.

If they really wanted an opposing view to what was said at the real commencement, they should have invited a drug dealer to tell the students that they wasted their time at school when they could have earned six figures a year pushing methamphetamines and that being positive influences on society is overrated.

I'm glad they have graduated now, because hopefully, it means they will no longer be here at BYU to give us more misleading reasons for the way they behave the way they do.

Kyle Roper
Fairfield, Calif

Immodest leggings

With all the fuss being made about guys wearing girl pants, an equally important issue has been completely ignored; that of girls wearing leggings as if they were pants. This rather unpleasant fashion trend has found its way to our campus in a serious way. All too often I see girls wearing mini skirts, 4-inch long jean shorts or what looks like a long, baggy t-shirt with leggings underneath.

I have two concerns with this style. First, it's simply not attractive. I'm no fashion guru, but I haven't talked to a single guy that finds this style appealing in any way. So if attractive clothing is your goal, try something else.

Second, the dress and grooming standards for women stipulate that "form-fitting" clothes are inappropriate. Just because your leggings cover your legs from where your t-shirt stops doesn't make it modest-leggings only change the color of what you're showing.

I'm not trying to be honor code police here, but if guys get guff for having scruff, it's only fair that girls get guff for inappropriate dress.

Recognize what you're wearing for what it is. Guys: it's time to stop stealing your sister's pants. Girls: if you must wear the leggings, at least wear shorts, skirts or t-shirts that are of a respectable length.

Chris Matheson
Salt Lake City

Guns increase safety

After the recent shootings at Virginia Tech many of us here at BYU are wondering what can be done to allow us to continue to be safe as we pursue our educational objectives. I believe one of the first steps BYU should take to increase campus security is to allow those with concealed carry permits to carry concealed firearms on campus. That may sound somewhat extreme, but imagine for a moment how incredibly different the scene at Virginia Tech would have been if one or two people in the building had fought back with their own guns. They likely could have stopped the shooter, lowering the death toll significantly.

Some people think that guns on campus would create an unsafe environment. However, I have never found any evidence showing that more guns in the hands of responsible citizens lowers safety. In fact, most studies show the opposite; more firearms result in lower crime rates and increased safety.

I am not trying to say that everyone should be able to bring guns to school, but those who have obtained concealed carry permits, which requires classes, training and a thorough background check, should be allowed to carry their firearms on campus. This would serve to protect us all if an event similar to the shootings in Virginia was to ever occur here. Although we pray that it won’t, we must do our part to prevent it and be prepared if it happens.

Jason Rindlisbacher
Anchorage, Alaska


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Star Wars: Celebration 4

I'm sure it would as no surprise to any of you that I'm terribly, terribly disappointed that I'm too busy working on our current film projects to attend this year's Celebration 4, the official 30th anniversary party for pretty much the coolest thing on this planet, Star Wars. I've been to every other Celebration (from Denver and it's muddy airplane hangers to Indianapolis and it's long lines) and am truly saddened that it looks as though I won't be going to this one.

Although, a frenzy of Star Wars nerdery might overtake me and I might just say, "Screw it all," and go anyway. Stranger things have happened to me during my peaks of Star Wars frenzied nerdery (is it any coincidence that I named my son Anakin the same week Attack of the Clones, the epic masterpiece, came out?)

I was, however, truly surprised when, looking at the starwars.com website about the happenings at this next celebration I found this.

Belly-dancing slave Leia's isn't what I'm talking about. That's not much of a big deal.

What surprised me was this:


This photograph, on starwars.com, threw me for a loop. The middle-right Leia. It's my good friend Janine, a Marine long-since deployed and returned from flying planes in Iraq. She's almost as big a nerd as I am. In fact, we met camping out in line for Phantom Menace. In fact, I must have seen Phantom Menace a dozen times (or more) with her. And she co-hosted with me (along with Elias and another friend of ours) an evening of pre-Attack of the Clones entertainment on the eve of it's release at a grand old 750-seat movie palace. The four of us MC'd a costume contest and had a really rad bout of "Beat the Geeks at Star Wars trivia."

If you hadn't guessed, we were the geeks.

Here we are together at Celebration 3.

Since she joined the Marines we don't get to talk all that much. Perhaps I'll call her tomorrow (along with all of her other friends and family that saw this photo.)

And in a bizarre sidenote: The Leia on the left in that starwars.com photo posed for pictures with my little brother (the one that was in "The Fleapit Three") at Comic Con last year:


And I guess what I'm saying is that the bottom line is this: Anybody interested in carpooling out to LA in a week or two?

Seriously....

Finally

Sicko is coming out June 29th. I'm dying to see it.

Read more about it here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

New Short Story

Not that many of you pay attention (it's cool, I don't take it personally), I've posted a new short story.

Let me know what you think.

And when you're done with that one, you should read more of them. Or maybe you should start from back to front.

Either way, here's a link to the whole list.

Monday, May 07, 2007

THE BYU 25: My Diary of a Grass Roots Miracle (PART THREE)

Utah Valley State College, 6:15pm, April 26th

Finally, it was happening.

The blue sedan carrying Ralph Nader, his assistant Matt, the superheros Ashley and Eric, and myself pulled up in front of the McKay Events Center. The press conference started in 15 minutes, so Ralph and the crew rushed up to the press room while I took my camera to the main arena. I wanted to see if anyone was showing up.

As we temporarily parted ways, Ashley was on the phone firming up the fact that the missing contract had been found. Apparently, some suited bullies at the arena were trying to find any reason to cancel the event. They hadn't told the students to bring the signed contract with them, but when they got there, they threatened to throw them out and lock the doors if they didn't present it. Someone had to speed home and pick it up lightning fast.

A steady stream of people was filing into the events center. Some of the organizing students were wearing orange "USHER" tags and were shuffling people to the lower floor, trying to seat everyone in an organized group. Other students were putting finishing touches on the stage, arranging seats, making sure microphones worked, etc. They all moved fast and with determination and everyone had a glossed expression of anxiety. When the press conference started at 6:30pm, only about 450 people had showed up.

Upstairs, on the 3rd floor, a crowded room of reporters and photographers sat in front of a long table where 3 student organizers: Carl Brinton, Eric Bybee, and Ashley Sanders and 3 speakers: Pete Ashdown, Jack Healey, and Ralph Nader sat and took questions and gave their opinions. It should be noted that even though this press conference went 45 minutes and everyone involved was dishing out amazing insights and opinions, not one Utah TV news outlet aired anything. In fact, only the Salt Lake Tribune acknowledged it even happened. I guess when TV news compacts a complicated story into a 3 minute sound byte, some things get left out.

The press conference ended 15 minutes late. Superheros Ashley and Eric quickly changed into their graduation cap and gown and rushed down stairs to the main floor with Ralph Nader and the other speakers. The walked into the arena and saw a waiting crowd of 1,500 people.
I could tell just by looking at their faces, that Eric and Ashley were amazed. In 10 days, they had fought an entire university, and entire city, and and a local press that wouldn't give them the time of day and somehow gotten 1,500 people to show up to their alternative commencement on a Thursday night. The students and speakers took the stage and a wall of cheers and applause erupted. Within seconds, everyone was one their feet. A standing ovation.

And then music suddenly filled the air. It was "Pomp and Circumstance" and a sea of black caps and gowns emerged from the back of the arena. The dozens of protesting BYU Grads marched proudly in a single file line up the middle of the arena and sat in the front row. As I looked around the applauding audience, there were tears streaming down faces. I could feel tears swelling up in my own eyes behind the camera.

The applause and cheering lasted for a long time and then it was time to begin the ceremony. An opening prayer was given by Elisa Bushman, one of the organizing BYU students. Here is her prayer:

"Dear kind and gracious Heavenly Father, we thank thee so very much for all the things thou hast done for us. Father, we thank thee at this time for helping us to pull this experience off. And we ask thee to please bless everyone that's in attendance to be able to understand the message that we are trying to give. And bless that people will be motivated to make a difference and to love their brothers and sisters more. Father, we thank thee so very much for all that thou has given us and we ask thee to help us to be able to give more to others and to be able to see the value in others. And we say these things in the name of thy beloved son, Jesus Christ, amen."

1,500 people then said, "Amen".

Eric Bybee then gave his opening speech. "A lot of people said we couldn't do this, or that we shouldn't do this," said Eric. "We've received ridicule, threats, been called names. Many people have laughed and jeered. But here we are."

He then laid out some amazing numbers (hat tip to Joe Vogel) that showed what "The BYU 25" were able to accomplish in 10 days:

* 25- Number of students who planned and coordinated the event through basic grassroots mobilization
* 10- Number of days to make it happen
* 15- Number of meetings in a crowded Provo living room
* 24- Number of venues we contacted that turned us away
* 100- Roughly the number of finals we took in the midst of our preparations
* 10,000- Number of fliers we printed and distributed
* 20,000- Estimated number of dollars we needed to host the commencement
* 24,000- Number of dollars we raised in less than ten days (including $12,000 in just four hours thanks to the readers of Daily Kos)
* $6,000- Amount of leftover money we plan to donate to local charities

"We wanted to do something constructive," said Eric, who emptied his personal bank account to help make the commencement happen. "We wanted to do something different and unique. We wanted to invite people to speak and share ideas about an alternative vision for our country."

Ashley, with tears in her eyes, addressed the crowd next. "A lot of people have asked me just like they've asked Eric: 'If you disagree with what BYU or the government does, why don't you just go some place else?' A favorite suggested location is Berkeley.

"I only know one way to answer them, which is to tell them that I love this place and I want it to be the best it can be.

"After I answer this, there is always another question: 'If you love it, why do you critique it?' My answer is the same: Because I love it. And because I believe that integrity requires [it]."

Read Ashley's full speech here.

From former Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Pete Ashdown (the man with the audacity to challenge Orrin Hatch), we were urged to "respond to the entrepreneurs of war by being an entrepreneur of peace."

"Every day think about peace," he advised students. "Every day think about service. Every day believe that people can coexist no matter our cultural differences. Every day question your political leaders no matter the party and do not fear to speak your mind."

"This gathering is more than a response," he concluded. "This gathering is the future."

Human rights activist and former director of Amnesty International Jack Healey (who is one of the most inspiring men I've ever met) told students that their courage warmed his heart and gave him hope for America. He advised the graduating class: "Take your voices and turn them into thunder. Take your candle and turn it into a bonfire -- and revive this nation to who we say we are and what we want it to be!"

And finally, there was Ralph Nader.

You can read his personal account of the experience here.

"I've spoken to a lot of commencements," Nader began. "This is the first alternative commencement that I've spoken to."

"Moral courage," he continued, "is what it took to bring this together on the part of the students. . .but the fact that you have to engage in moral courage in order to make a statement of conscience or utter a statement of truth is not just a reflection of a morally courageous person, it's a reflection of a suppressive context. You have to have great moral courage to utter a statement of conscience in a dictatorship, but in a free society it shouldn't take a demonstration of courage in order to utter a statement of conscience or truth.

"So while we pay tribute to the students, we have to ask ourselves: What is it about their environment that led them to do this? Was it a lack of reflection on the campus? Did it touch on something my father asked me when I was ten years old and I came home from school, and he said to me, 'What did you learn today, Ralph? Did you learn to believe? Or did you learn to think?'"


I will be updating this entry throughout the day...

CATCH UP:

READ PART ONE

READ PART TWO

Vonnegut Remembered

At the BYU Alternative commencement, Pete Ashdown stated that he missed Kurt Vonnegut.

He then wondered aloud if anyone else missed him, too.

I do.

(Click here to read everything I've written about him on this blog here.)

But I wanted to share a few of these video interviews that I found with you guys.





Sunday, May 06, 2007

VICE: Put this next to your BOOK OF MORMON

(hat tip Mark Groubert at Crooks and Liars)

For all of those Utah kool-aid drinkers that greeted Dick Cheney at Brigham Young University with a standing ovation and an honorary degree in social service, please read some words of reality below. I hope your head doesn't explode...
110TH CONGRESS, 1ST SESSION

RESOLUTION

Impeaching Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Resolved, That Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

Articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself and of the people of the United States, against Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against him for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Those are the opening words to the House Resolution on Impeachment submitted last week by U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. It should be taken very seriously. It may save our lives. And the lives of our children.

Dick Cheney is the most unpopular vice president in the history of the United States – he is also the most powerful. Over the past 6 years, Cheney has consolidated power by slowly and directly taking it from a president who from day one had little interest in policy and absolutely no experience in the royal ways of Washington.

On September 29th, 1974, Dick Cheney, at the age of 33, became the youngest presidential chief of staff in American history. He reveled in the power that job gave him.

On June 29th 2002, Cheney for the first time, legally and constitutionally assumed the powers of the presidency when President Bush underwent anesthesia during a medical exam. Although the anesthesia eventual wore off and legal power of the presidency was returned to George Bush, some say Cheney has remained the de facto President ever since.

“Dick Cheney exercises all the power of the Presidency. That has never happened. Ever.” Says former U.S. assistant attorney general Bruce Fein.

This book, “Vice,” explains how he did it and why nobody has stopped him.

Make sure to read the entire article, but here are some highlights:

-From what we do know, Cheney seemed to like alcohol more than hallucinogens. A lot more. Cheney was convicted of drunk driving twice during a brief eight-month period in his native Wyoming. For the record: never before has the United States had both a President and Vice President in office with previous drunk driving convictions.

-In Congress from 1978 – 1989, Cheney voted against the creation of the Department of Education. He voted against a resolution calling on South Africa to release Nelson Mandela from prison. He voted against Head Start. He voted against Martin Luther King’s birthday holiday (The latter two votes he later reversed placing doubt on his so-called rigid ideology)

-Cheney is a well-known and outspoken critic of Hollywood. However check out this absurd Dick Cheney Trivia #297: In 1995 Dick Cheney tried his hand at acting, portraying a police official alongside fellow Republican Bruce Willis in “Die Hard With A Vengeance. It would be his last acting job. That is, until he became acting President five years later.

-From 1995 – 2000 he served as CEO of Halliburton increasing its offshore tax havens from 9 to 44 among many other nefarious unpatriotic deeds. "Vice" also examines the cash flow and the lies surrounding the no-bid contracts to Halliburton leading up to the Iraq War and also the supposed blind trusts that Cheney claimed prevented him from sharing in Halliburton profits.

READ THE REST HERE

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Huffington Post Editorial

I wrote an editorial about the Rocky Anderson and Sean Hannity debate for the Huffington Post last night and it finally appeared.

So, without further ado, here it is.

Yahoo News picked up on it, also.

Reviews: Spider-man 3 and Hot Fuzz



Spider-man 3.

This movie was pretty-good. It wasn’t great, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. It just wasn’t as good as Spider-man 2. The difference is in the script, clearly. Spider-man 2 built to a very careful and calculated climax in an extremely logical manner. Spider-man 3 headed in that direction, but as soon as the 3rd act rolled around, it seemed as though they realized they were out of time, so each character seemed to have one single scene where they turn 180 degrees to justify the final showdown.

It seemed a little silly and it almost felt as though a reel was missing between act 2 and act 3. The film needed Eddie Brock learning his Venom powers and Sandman needed more time to hate Spider-man and Harry needed more time to forgive him. I hate saying this of a film that’s almost three hours long already, but it needed another 15 or 20 minutes to set up the ending better.

As far as all of the individual things in the movie, there is so much to geek out about. I really liked the handling of Gwen Stacy and her father (although I was expecting at least one of them to die) and I now have a crush on Opie’s daughter. Bruce Campbell’s cameo was bloody genius. The fight sequences, across the board, were breathtaking. James Franco was stupendous (that kid is going places, I assure you.) Emo Peter was great. The rivalry between Eddie Brock and Peter was dynamite. Thomas Haden Church was dead-on with Sandman and was able to participate in some of the coolest sequences ever brought to life on film. J. Jonah Jameson was brilliantly brought to life once more by J.K. Simmons.

I could go on geeking out like this for hours, but overall I really think the film needed to be a little longer to set up the ending better.

And damn all the critics who couldn’t get behind Emo Peter’s dance number. I thought it worked in all the right ways. Yes it was cheesy, but God-damn it it was supposed to be.

There was way more good to this film than there was bad, but it just couldn’t top the pure excellence of Spider-man 2.

My number grades on a scale of 1-10 for the whole Spider-man trilogy would have to be as follows:

Spider-man: 6-7
Spider-man 2: 11-12
Spider-man 3: 7-8


Hot Fuzz.

What can I say about this film? I’ve seen it three times now and it’s extremely enjoyable.

I really think these guys need to name themselves as a group. “The guys who did Shaun of the Dead” is a mouthful. There really isn’t any reason they can’t find something hilarious to call themselves that’s less of a mouthful. And they really are a group of guys (okay, it’s like three of them, Edgar Wright, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg) that seem in the tradition of Monty Python or Broken Lizard or The Lonely Island.

What I like most about Hot Fuzz is the level of sophistication of the satire and the subtlety of other movie references. From Spaghetti Westerns to Lynch’s Lost Highway and Point Break to Bad Boys II, these guys are able to make obscure film references believable and not a bit cheesy. Hilarious, to be sure, but not cheesy.

I think the thing I enjoyed most about this film is how well put together the script was, how it was able to keep you guessing and wrap you up in the story and then unload like a preposterous 80’s action movie in a completely realistic and convincing way. And how 99% of every set up was paid off ten fold. The only complaint my brother had (I didn’t even notice, he had to point it out to me) was that every question Danny asks Nicholas about being a cop ended up happening by the end of the film save one: “Is it true that there is a place on a man’s head that if you shoot it, it will blow up.” That was it, everything else had a payoff and everything else was great.

A spot of filmmaking I particularly appreciated were the transitions. They were excellent and kept the story moving quickly and must have taken a lot of careful planning to make sure they worked right. Keep an eye out for them when you watch the film.

I also admired the all-star character actor cast. When your supporting character line-up includes Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, Cate Blanchett, Peter Jackson and the guy who played Belloch in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a good time will be had by all. And the guys who played the Andy’s were great.

I really, really enjoyed this film. If I had to put it on a scale from 1-10 it would really be somewhere in the ballpark of an 8 or a 9.

Movie Reviews: 4 old movies

Movie Reviews: Part One

I’ve been seriously lagging on my movie reviews lately. I don’t know how many of you might have noticed or cared their absence but, in my defense, we’ve been a little busy. I’m sure you must have noticed that. So, I’ve got four movies here to review in “capsule form” and then later today I’ll post more full reviews for Spider-Man 3 and Hot Fuzz.

Below, you’ll find capsule reviews for two black and white pictures from a bygone era and reviews for two Woody Allen pictures I watched recently.

First up:


Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol: The Fallen Idol marked the first collaboration between Carol Reed and the preeminent novelist Graham Greene. Based on a short story Greene wrote (it’s very good, last year I read Greene’s entire short story collection) the film revolves around the French Embassy in London. The Ambassador must leave for Paris and leaves his young (perhaps 8 years old) son in the care of Mr. and Mrs. Baines, the caretakers of the house. Baines and the Boy are good friends, perhaps best friends. Baines treats the boy like a much younger equal and the boy respects and admires him almost more than anyone else. Mrs. Baines, on the other hand, despises the boy and the feeling is mutual. Very quickly you get the idea that Baines doesn’t much care for his wife either. The story starts when the Boy sees Baines leaving the embassy and sneaks out to follow him. He catches Baines with his mistress in a coffee shop. The mistress was breaking it off when the Boy found them and transformed their scene into something truly amazing to watch. They were trying so hard to deal with these complicated issues with the boy sitting right there and watching them dance around was masterful. Long story short, the Boy gets involved in lies and secrets on both sides of the Baines’ and things quickly turn to what very much seems like the murder of Mrs. Baines after the discovery of Baines and his mistress in bed together.

This film is quite enjoyable and tense. I didn’t realize it until afterwards that it was so tense that I had bitten all of my fingernails down to their nubs. It has great moments of levity and tension and makes me want to see Greene and Reed’s final collaboration that much more. (The Third Man was their second collaboration and quite possibly is one of my favorite films. Their final collaboration was Our Man in Havana which is a wonderful novel. The film stars Alec Guinness, a favorite of mine for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons, and is, sadly, unavailable in the United States. My only hope is that Criterion reads this and understands they have to get on this ASAP.

Next:

Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat by John Steinbeck: Wow. I had always sort of avoided Lifeboat, it seemed like it would be fairly standard fare. It was shot early in Hitch’s career and it all happened on one lifeboat. Upon further examination, I learned that Steinbeck had written the story and that intrigued me. And then instead of just a number of survivors on a lifeboat, the story revolves around a number of survivors who fish from the sea the captain of the German U-Boat that sunk their ship and killed all of their fellow travelers. The film is tense and truly has moments of horror. Not moments that they show, but moments that are insinuated. My particular favorite was when one of the crewmen who had been hit by a piece of shrapnel learned that he had developed gangrene and would have to lose his leg. The only person competent enough to perform the operation is the German, who everyone distrusts. The moment of horror comes in when you realize that he has to perform the surgery on this rocking boat with a four-inch pocket blade. The movie never, ever seemed boring, standard or cliched.

Also, Tallulah Bankhead was a treat to watch. Hume Cronyn was, too. And Hitchcock's cameo was bloody genius.

This actually ranks up there among Hitchcock films that I’ll watch and rewatch and start showing my kids as soon as they become teenagers (or possibly pre-teens).

Which brings us to:


Woody Allen’s A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy
: This film was really, really good. It had perhaps few of the best moments in Woody Allen films I’ve seen. The film is a convoluted and complicated love story involving three different couples in the early 1900’s summering at Woody Allen’s house in the country. I think the best part of this film, aside from Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, was Tony Roberts. I really wish he’d had a chance to be in more Woody Allen pictures. His bit parts in Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters and Stardust Memories have always slay me and this is the only film of Allen’s that I’ve actually seen Tony Roberts in a lead role. He’s the perfect foil to Woody Allen’s neurotic characters. He has this amazing way of seeming both more and less neurotic than Woody. And the film hearkens back to a slightly more modern version of the Elizabthen sorts of sex comedies like (obviously) Shakespeare’s Midsummers Night Dream and more recent works of legitimate literary romantic sex comedy like Pride and Prejudice.

And the film is rated PG, so it’s perfect to watch with your friends who are squeamish about ratings. Also your kids. I’d watch it with a 12 or 13 year old without worrying about content. Well, maybe a little bit.. But long story short, it’s a good movie and you should check it out.

And finally we come to:

Woody Allen’s Zelig: I had no idea what to expect with this film. It was made in 1983 and I assumed that the early 80’s was when Woody Allen generally ditched the straight slapstick of his pre-Annie Hall films. And this film was quite slapstick, but the structure and assembly of the film nothing short of spectacular. The film runs like a talking-heads-style PBS documentary about a man with a very serious neurological affliction. He’s a human chameleon who is able to change his shape, accent and color in the presence of someone else, so strong is his desire to fit in. Around black people he turns into a black man, next to two obese men he becomes obese, a Scottish bagpipe player puts him in a kilt, etc... Mia Farrow plays the psychologist trying to cure him. The film is silly and fun, but Allen’s command of the documentary medium is such that it truly blows my mind and makes this film worth watching. You can learn a lot from Woody Allen. I know I have.

So, I suppose to sum up, these were four excellent movies that I would recommend highly to all of you (you proud few) that read this.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Who Won?

MyFoxUtah.com has a poll on their front page right now about who won the Anderson v. Hannity debate (the news anchors actually repeatedly called it a smackdown...)

And, with all the incredulity I can muster, I am here to report that as of now, Hannity is leading the poll 2 to 1.

After all the recent business at BYU and the Alternative Commencement (check all of that out here) and Rocky's strong performance at this debate, it seems as though Utah still has a long way to go in the common sense department.

STEVE NOTES: FOX 13's Website (see Bryan's link above) let's voters vote AS MANY TIMES AS THEY WANT. What a crock of fecal matter. They either need to learn some basic HTML skills or they need to learn how the democratic voting process works. They're letting some Hannity sycophant in Utah County stay up all night to vote for Hannity 1,678,904,543 times.

Hannity Vs. Anderson: Live Blog

It's about 9:00 and I'm watching Rocky Anderson slam dunk a case for Bush's impeachment in the context of his lying to get into the war and his high crimes.

It boggles my mind how every time Rocky busts out facts a number of people in the audience boo. It's crazy.

Just now, he said Iraqi's are worse off now than at the beginnning of the war and half the audience started booing.

Jesus.

Who are these people?

UPDATE 9:10 pm: He's getting booed on his stance against torture. This is frustrating. I'm dying to see what bullshit Sean Hannity busts out.

UPDATE 9:12 pm: Rocky's getting into FISA and damning Bush with footage of himself lying in public forums. And is comparing him to Nixon and it's a pretty convincing argument. I'd be interested to see how much of the crowd has gone in on the fence and how many of them come out in support of impeachment.

UPDATE 9:15 pm: Rocky is wrapping back up with his theme of common American values and, I swear to God, he should be running for President.

UPDATE 9:16 pm: Hannity is up and I'm dying to see what vile comes out of this guys mouth. People began chanting Rocky's name as soon as he came up.

Christ.

The first words out of his mouth were personal attacks on Rocky.

UPDATE 9:18 pm: Hannity is going off on rhetoric and his video presentation, honest to God, cut to the toppling of the Saddam statue.

He's actually name-calling liberals.

UPDATE 9:20 pm: He's wrapping himself up in a big American flag of rheotric. He's telling everyone the troops are fighting for our way of life. And maybe they are, if by protecting our way of life, he means protecting the oil fields and the interests of giant American corporations like Halliburton.

UPDATE 9:23 pm: I think the rhetoric of American exceptionalism is pretty scary. And it's amazing, after Rocky Anderson in his presentation about how Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11, Hannity continues to treat the both of them as though they were the same thing.

And then he's going on now to say essentially that Rocky Anderson, bu his dissent, is contributing to the 'toxicity' that undermines the troops and causes terrorism. Harry Reid is in on it now, too, apparently.

UPDATE 9:28 pm: I just realized how preposterous it is that Sean Hannity is ridiculously off-topic. I was under the impression this debate was about whether or not Bush should be impeached and whether or not the War is right or not. He's giving an anti-Kerry stump speech.

UPDATE 9:31 pm: What the hell does video of Clinton and Kerry have to do with whether or not Bush should be impeached?

UPDATE 9:34 pm: It seems as though the gist of Hannity's speech is to attack as many messengers as possible.

UPDATE 9:38 pm: Hannity just asked: "Does anyone doubt that an unholy alliance between Iraq and Al Qaida with a nuclear weapon would result in harming America?" Or something like that. And this is following Rocky Anderson's offering of National Intelligence Estimates on stage outlining how there were no links in any capacity between Iraq and Al Qaida. Instead of engaging in rhetoric, why doesn't Sean Hannity instead offer proof that they were in cahoots?

Oh yeah, because there isn't any.

UPDATE 9:40 pm: They just cut back to the statue of Saddam coming down. Again.

Jesus.

UPDATE 9:42 pm: Just as Hannity was evoking the fear of another 9/11 and wrapping himself up in another "fight the terrorists there so they won't attack us here" American flag, his cell phone rang.

UPDATE 9:45 pm: Hannity said something I agree with. "We can do better with this war." I don't think we agree in the same way, but we agree in that.

UPDATE 9:46 pm: He just called for Rocky's impeachment. What a classless guy.

UPDATE 9:47 pm: Oh God, it's time for them to question each other. This is going to be good.

UPDATE 9:49 pm: I like Rocky, but he needs to ask a goddamn question.

UPDATE 9:53 pm: Rocky asked a good question and Hannity danced around it. It boggles my mind. When I was in debate, you couldn't win an argument by ignoring it and answering some other question that no one asked.

UPDATE 9:59 pm: This is just frustrating to watch. The moderator is a saint and has probably the hardest job in the world.

UPDATE 10:03 pm: Hannity's turn. He just put his foot in his mouth by calling Anderson out on voting for Kerry and Anderson said "I voted for the Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader."

UPDATE 10:08 pm: Like I said, this is just painful to watch. Listening to Sean Hannity speak always makes me sick.

UPDATE 10:11 pm: Why does withdrawal equate to surrender in the eyes of men like Sean Hannity? I really want to know. He just asked Rocky for 5 specific proposals to make the situation better and leave Iraq at the same time. I don't think he expects an answer, but Rocky's giving it to him.

UPDATE 10:17 pm: Audience questions now.

UPDATE 10:23 pm: Why do neo-cons like Sean Hannity blame the Democrats for Bush vetoing the spending bill? I don't get it. They authorized every penny Bush asked for, but asked for a timeline. Bush vetoed it, not the Democrats.

UPDATE 10:26 pm: When asked who they wanted for '08, Anderson jokingly said, "Well, I'd like to announce..." and then moved on to endorse Bill Richardson. Hannity couldn't commit to anyone but made sure that he didn't want it to be Hillary.

UPDATE 10:30 pm: Closing arguments. Hannity goes straight for the troops again. He reminds me of Schwarzenegger in Total Recall, grabbing innocent bystanders as human shields.

I admire the fact that Hannity thanked Rocky Anderson for the free exchange of ideas, despite their disagreements. Finally, something else we can agree on.

UPDATE 10:33 pm: Rocky Anderson's closing.

"America's greatness is not a given." 'Nuff said.

Rocky Anderson really should run for office.

UPDATE 10:36 pm: It's over. It's good to see Hannity and Rocky have the respect for the process enough to shake hands and embrace.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm biased in my opinion. I know that. I don't like Sean Hannity. But I think Rocky Anderson made a very, very convincing argument. He laid a very well-thought out, well-researched case against the Bush administration. And instead of rebutting it, Hannity just started name-calling. It was really frustrating to watch Hannity dance around the issues.

In the news-recap, Hannity said that he laid out the best case he could and that is sad. He said Anderson's case lacks moral strength. A case that involves truthfulness, integrity, transparency in government and a strong stance against torture lacks moral strength in Sean Hannity's book.

Neo-con's like Hannity are beyond belief.

The local Fox News anchors subtely called the debate for Hannity and they interviewed people leaving the debate and everyone they talked to seemed pretty sure Hannity lost the debate and that he never responded to any of the compelling issues Anderson raised.

ROCKY v. HANNITY Deathmatch


IT'S HAPPENING TODAY...

Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, who has called for the impeachment of President Bush, will "debate" FOX News Stool Sample Sean Hannity tonight at 8:30pm.

This isn't the first time Sean Hannity has come to Utah. He hosted Brigham Young University's "Stadium of Fire" 4th of July event 2 years in a row. During the 2004 festival, he announced to a sycophantic audience of 50,000 people that we had "found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq".

And just months later, when he heard that liberal filmmaker Michael Moore was coming to speak at Utah Valley State College (UVSC), he decided he'd announce his second coming to Utah. Hannity made a big deal out of being such a hero for not charging a speaker's fee. Moore charged UVSC $40,000 and Hannity claimed that Moore was a capitalistic whore. Little did the Kool-Aid drinking Hannityites know, he had made the college fly him and his crew out from New York in a private party jet. This cost the school $50,000.

And then he came out and picked on young kids. Seriously.

As you prepare for the big "showdown" tonight between Rocky and The Douche Bag, watch these clips, from our documentary THIS DIVIDED STATE, of Hannity being an vicious bully and the people of Utah loving him for it:

PART ONE:



PART TWO:



Read Bryan's live blog of the event here.