Friday, February 22, 2002

A reader in Detroit writes on Xanadu: "One would think that a movie with Gene Kelly would have at least one or two redeeming graces". Yes, it has one: Gene Kelly. He also writes that "It's been a while since anyone could claim that the Oscars rewarded merit. In my opinion the Academy forfeited any right to credibility when it did not give so much as one nomination to any of the Police Academy movies."

I agree. I'm still miffed at Oscar for not taking notice of 1988's Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, starring a then-unknown Bill Maher. It was truly gorgeous film making.

I found this CNN article via Vodkapundit: the U.S. government has decided that it "might sometimes pay ransom" to kidnappers. I know we're all upset about the death of Daniel Pearl, but this is pussy-weenie bullshit. If we ever pay one dime in ransom for a hostage, Daniel Pearl's death was totally in vain.

The Bush administration "also stressed that the government would be aggressive in recovering the money once a hostage was safely released". Yeah, that's assuming that the hostage would be safely released, and that the money was the real issue. God forbid, if I'm ever kidnapped, let it be known that I would rather be raped, tortured, and die a slow, horrible death before my country or my family gave one single cent for the safe return of my useless head.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Some interesting bits of mail that were too fun not to share:

How can you slander something as beautiful as John Lennon's "Imagine"?
Because I don't think it's beautiful. I think it's trite garbage. When did he come up with the idea for that one? While he was writing checks to the IRA? And I can't abide being told "imagine no possessions" by a friggin' millionaire who wrote his songs on a Steinway piano. Imagine indeed, Mr. Lennon.

Why are you Republicans always warmongers? This is a Republican War, just like Viet Nam.
1. I am not a Republican. In fact, the only party I have associated myself with since my days as a foolish, dribbling, liberal youth has been Britain's now defunct HHHP, who, with promises like "we will improve the climate of our nation by towing it 200 miles South" were the greatest hope offered Britain since Winston Churchill.
2. Nor am I a warmonger. I just recognize the fact that sometimes you've got put up a fight.
3. Vietnam a Republican war? Kennedy started it, Johnson escalated it, and Nixon ended it. Please explain.

Ad for some e-diet: When was the last time you felt sexy?
Yesterday. But I was wearing flannel pajamas with teddy bears on them and flip flops. Does that count?

Accused Nazi concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk had his U.S. citizenship revoked today for, what is it, the eighth time in twenty-five years? From what I've seen, there isn't enough solid evidence to justify constantly pursuing this guy, especially since he's 81 years old, and will probably die before he exhausts all of his appeals. He was already sentenced to death once by a court in Israel, a verdict which was later overturned in light of new evidence that suggested that they had the wrong man.

And no, no all you people out there living in PCland...I'm not defending Nazis. I don't like Nazis. But given the ferocity with which some people pursue "justice", when they want someone's head, anyone's head, on a pike in order to feel avenged, I'd want to take a closer look at the evidence before passing judgement on the guy. Sometimes there such a high level of emotion involved that people lose their ability to think in a veracious manner, and weak and circumstantial evidence becomes undeniable proof of guilt. Justice is one thing, but let's make sure we're smearing the right person before ruining their reputation and their life.

Relax, Mr. Demjanjuk. If things don't work out here, you can always move to Paraguay.

I'll be posting little or nothing today, since the corporate accountant is arriving from New York this morning to lecture me on the values of bean counting, and I'll have to put on a show pretending I really get stuff done around here. Believe me, I'll be worthy of an Oscar nomination if I can pull it off.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Deep thoughts about the latest film club selection, Xanadu, from a man who identifies himself as "F":

I think you do not do enough justice to the scene in which the Muses come to life (to ELO's "I'm Alive") to the silent wonderment of one of them (Olivia Newton-John). The other eight were, apparently, insensitive louts.

The film was also a vehicle for her megahit Magic, which surprisingly was never taken to the breast of the guided weapons industry as a soundtrack for their trade-show films.

F also offered the following challenge: "Don't forget to compare-and-contrast to Roller Boogie, starring Linda Blair."


The United States Postal Service is 210 years old today. More importantly, according to the Yahoo! News site giving the "on this day in history" rundown, on February 20, 1933 "the House of Representatives completed congressional action on an amendment to repeal Prohibition."

A lot of folks have been comparing the Bush "axis of evil" speech to the Reagan "tear down this wall" speech. I think it's clear that both are similar in their aims, addressing tyrants who enslave the populations of their countries for their own benefit and comfort. They may be a different kind of evil, but the man who murders for greed is no less an awful person than the man who murders out of spite.

I lived in Germany when the Wall was still there. We travelled several times from the southwestern town of Kaiserslautern to West Berlin to visit my grandmother, sometimes by car through the infamous "Checkpoint Charlie", and sometimes by train. When boarding the trains, we were always instructed to draw the curtains after crossing the border into East Germany. Passengers were not allowed to open the curtains until the train had entered West Berlin. On one occassion, we were even told by a ticket taker at the train station that East German soldiers "vill shoot you if you look out ze vindows". This is, of course, doubtful, but you can't blame a guy whose country is hacked apart by an ugly, graffitti-stained wall for being a little bitter.

So why is it the East Germans didn't want us to get a peek? Could it be that they thought that once people spied their luscious landscapes, peppered with gray cinder and pollution, they would risk almost certain death by scaling barbed wire and facing armed soldiers to get into the country? Perhaps they feared that there would be a mass influx across their borders after the stories broke of East German cultural festivities such as "Hunting the Market for Toilet Paper...Oh Hell I Give Up. At This Point I'll Settle for Sand Paper" and "Let's See if We Can Get the Cabbie To Shift This Piece-of-Crap Boxcar Into High Gear Without Bribing Him With a Pack of Cigarettes"? Reports from family members from East Germany indicate that noone was ever successful at the latter.

My grandmother was born in Berlin in 1907. She saw the city through two world wars and years of being divided. On November 9, 1989, I remember walking in the front door, and seeing her leap to her feet, with her arms stretched out and tears in her eyes because, partly as a result of U.S. efforts during the Cold War, that nasty wall was finally coming down. I can't tell you how much it means to me that she got to see that before dying a few years later.

My point being, that Reagan was right. I'm willing to take the chance that Bush is, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Winged bunnies fly in a frozen hell! Or, in simpler terms, Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader actually agree on something. And I don't disagree with either one of them.

The end is near...

Just as the state of California is taking the first steps towards undoing the lunacy that is known as "term limits" with Proposition 45, Los Angeles County is on the verge of devolution with Charter Amendments A and B, which would impose term limits on elected county officials.

I thought we'd all learned from Sacramento that term limits are a horrible idea. They make both politicians and voters lazy. Instead of making bad and corrupt politicians accountable, they make all politicians suspect. And instead of rewarding good public servants with lifelong careers, they eject them from office after serving only two terms - hardly enough time to develop the savvy and knowledge that it takes to be an effective legislator - often to replace them with the slick and the slithering, consumed more by ambition than a genuine interest in serving their constituents.

Maybe I'm naive. I still think a lot of people enter the political fray because they have legitimate social concerns, and not just for power and prestige. I met a few of them while living in the hell on earth that is Sacramento (which I have *cough* affectionately *cough* dubbed "Suck-ramento"). Let's not kick them out because a few of their colleagues are rotten.

I knew there was a reason that I liked those Brits so much.

The vile Canadian known as BC Monkey hit on exactly why I think the Oscars are bogus:

Time will tell though. In the long run, Memento will show up as an influence on countless movies. Eventually it will be recognized for the masterpiece it is. Again, more proof that it isn't the movie that wins the Oscar, but the studio's marketing machine that decides matters. no chance of campaign finance reform here, is there?

I thought Memento was hands down one of the best movies, if not the best movie, of last year. And it only got a screenplay nod. BOO! That, coupled with the fact that my other favorite movie from last year, Made, didn't even get sniffed at. Only because Artisan wouldn't put up the cash for a "campaign".

It's all about the craft, my ass.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

Since a few people have shown some interest in my film club idea, I've decided to continue on with it. This week, I've chosen Xanadu, a film about a frustrated and unappreciated painter who, with the help of a muse, played by Olivia Newton-John, and Gene Kelly, realizes his dream of owning his very own roller disco.

In spite of any hope that this synopsis might inspire, I assure you that it is a really terrible movie.

Another Bush-basher, Robert Kuttner has written an op-ed titled "Needed Now: Healthy Dissent". If he wanted to better make his point that "the wartime emergency is over; so is the moratorium on dissent", he should have called the article "Needed Now: Intelligent Dissent". Why are people still harping on the "censorship" of "dissenters" anyway? Is anyone else out there tired of it? "Dissenters" weren't criticized because their ideas were unpopular. They were criticized because their ideas were stupid.

Kuttner also wrote that "the U.S. is less free and not noticeably more secure". I'd call the fact that not one single incident of massive terror has occured, maybe excepting the over-reported anthrax business exaggerated by the media, just a little bit noticeable. And how exactly are we "less free"? So, we can't clip our fingernails on airplanes anymore. Big deal; far from tyrannical.

Among Kuttner's "concerns" at the outset of the war was that "treating the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks as an act of war rather than a criminal conspiracy would have global and domestic repercussions that..." blah blah blah. The attacks were an act of war. Plain and simple.

And "President Bush has stumbled" because of the axis of evil. He's "given new life to hard-liners in Iran". Yeah, so what? He's also given hope to a population of people tired of living under tyrants. Not that you'd know this by way of conventional news sources. With the axis of evil, Kuttner writes that "he has created an equally improbable axis of worry about our reliabilty, if not our sanity". Huh? How exactly does calling a spade a spade bring reliability into question? If telling the truth is insane, pass me a straight jacket and call me looney.

Then he quotes a Frenchman (a Frenchman, for goodness' sake!), who said during the "revolution" after the execution of a popular duke "it was worse than a crime, it was a blunder" (and worse than a blunder, it was murder). I don't think enough time has yet passed to call anything involving the axis of evil and what might come of it a blunder. Maybe in time, we'll be able to look back and say that it was a mistake. But it's still too early.