Sunday, December 21, 2014

Professor Reynolds celebrates Anonymous

Along for the ride:

"Finding no ready target for their confused rage at the unwelcome intrusion of reality into their carefully constructed fantasy world, these people did what they always do: They lied.

Notice that the lefties spend a lot of time trying to keep part of the populace riled up, and the rest of the populace embarrassed and apathetic. I wonder what would happen if the balance-of-anger were reversed? Their fear and hatred of the Tea Party suggests that they’d find that catastrophic."

Beware The Savage Jaw

People were waiting for the year 1984 so long that by the time it came it seemed like an anticlimax.  But what about the movies?  Let's return to a time when scores had synthesizers and blockbusters had no CGI.

Here are Jesse Walker's top ten for the year:

1. Repo Man
2. Love Streams

3. This Is Spinal Tap
4. Once Upon a Time in America
5. Nothing Lasts Forever

6. Antonio Gaudí
7. Secret Honor
8. Amadeus
9. Ghostbusters
10. Blood Simple

I still remember how wild it was to see Repo Man--I had no idea what it was, and it looked to be pretty stupid, but it sure wasn't. How come Alex Cox's career fell apart?  Love Streams is one of those Cassavetes titles I haven't gotten around to, but if it's anything like his other films, I doubt it'll make my top ten.  (My favorite Cassavetes film is Mikey And Nicky and it's not even his.)  This Is Spinal Tap was, like Repo Man, a wonderful surprise.  Rob Reiner started out so strong in his first few features and then...  There are some fine sequences in Once Upon A Time In America, but I don't consider it a classic (though I don't think I've seen the long version, even if I doubt it would make a difference).  Haven't seen numbers 5 and 6.  Many times I've walked by the building where Secret Honor was shot, but I only caught about half an hour of it once, so I can't comment on the actual film. I consider Oscar-winner Amadeus minor--probably shouldn't be on this list.  But Ghostbuster should definitely be here.  I blow hot and cold on the Coens, and consider their debut, which got them so much attention, to not quite work--it wasn't until Raising Arizona that I became a fan.

 Honorable mentions:


11. King Lear
12. Before Stonewall
13. Favorites of the Moon
14. There Will Come Soft Rains
15. After the Rehearsal
16. Paris, Texas
17. Return to Waterloo (Ray Davies)
18. Stranger Than Paradise
19. Two Tribes (Kevin Godley, Lol Creme)
20. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven)

Jesse's seeing a lot of them arty films.  I haven't caught 11, 13, 14, 15 (which is a TV movie originally), 17 or 19 (is that a video?).

Before Stonewall is a well done doc.  Paris, Texas isn't bad, but could profitably lose half an hour.  Stranger Than Paradise should be near the top of the top ten.  A Nightmare On Elm Street is better than most slasher films but it's not a genre I go for (I prefer The Simpsons parody.)

Other films that might make my top ten:

The Brother From Another Planet

Choose Me

Comfort And Joy


Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Splash  (Ron Howard's career reminds me a bit of Rob Reiner's)

Stop Making Sense

The Terminator (surprised this didn't make Jesse's list)

What Have I Done To Deserve This?

Wheels On Meals

Other films I liked:

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (seriously flawed by still fascinating), Bachelor Party, Broadway Danny Rose, Finders Keepers, Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, The Last Starfighter, Night Of The Comet (quite a year for Catherine Mary Stewart), Revenge Of The Nerds, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (if not as good as II or IV), Streetwise, A Sunday In The Country, The Times Of Harvey Milk (if I have to pick one gay documentary from 1984 it'd probably be this one), Top Secret!

Other films of note:

Against All Odds, All of Me, Alphabet City, American Dreamer, Angel, Another Country, Bad Manners,  Beat StreetBest DefenseBeverly Hills Cop, Birdy, Blame It on Rio, Blind Date, Body Double, Bolero, The Bostonians, The Bounty, Breakin', The Buddy System, C.H.U.D., Cal, Cannonball Run II, Carmen, Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers, Children of the Corn, City Heat, Cloak & Dagger, The Company of WolvesConan the Destroyer, The Cotton Club, Crackers, The Dollmaker, Double Trouble, Dreamscape, Dune (it does have a good look), The Dungeonmater, Electric Dreams, Falling in Love, Finders Keepers, Firestarter, Firstborn, The Flamingo Kid, Footloose, Friday the 13th: The Final ChapterGarbo Talks, Give My Regards to Broad Street, The Glitter DomeThe Goodbye PeopleGrandview, U.S.A.Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesHardbodiesHarry & SonHeartsounds, The Hit, Hot Dog…The Movie, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Ice Pirates, Iceman, In Heaven There Is No Beer?, Irreconcilable  DifferencesJohnny DangerouslyNational Lampoon's Joy of SexThe Karate Kid,  The Killing Fields, Lassiter, Le Bon Plaisir, The Little Drummer Girl, The Lonely Guy, Love Letters, Maria's Lovers, Marlene, Mass Appeal, Meatballs Part IIMicki & MaudeMike's Murder, Missing in Action, Moscow on the HudsonMrs. SoffelThe Muppets Take Manhattan, Nadia, The Natural, The NeverEnding Story, Nineteen Eighty-Four, No Small AffairOh, God! You DevilOxford Blues, A Passage to India, The Philadelphia Experiment, Places in the Heart, Police Academy (it had some nice gags), The Pope of Greenwich Village, Protocol, Purple Rain, Racing with the Moon, The Razor's Edge, Red Dawn (fun concept almost makes it work), Rhinestone, The River, Silent Night, Deadly NightSixteen CandlesSlapstick of Another KindA Soldier's Story, Songwriter, Starman, The Stone  Boy, Streets Of  FireSupergirl, Swann in Love, Swing Shift, Talk to Me, Tank, Terror in the AislesThief of HeartsTightrope, The Toxic Avenger, Toy Soldiers, Twist and Shout, Under the Volcano, Unfaithfully Yours, Until SeptemberUp the Creek, Where the Boys Are '84The Wild Life, The Woman in Red

After You've Gone

Rita Reys, Europe's First Lady of Jazz, was born 90 years ago. Her best known song may be "After You've Gone," but she's done a lot more.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Social justice warriors

Algeria has the world's tenth-largest military. Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but I found it impressive. It's practically the same as the bottom five, all around 500,000 to 600,000 active personnel. I'm too lazy to check, but I'd guess per capita it's right around the top.

As far as maintaining an army of given capacity, the two Koreas (ALERT ALERT SHUT DOWN BLOG), Iran, Pakistan all make sense. Algeria?

I'm thinking they've achieved what President Obama has himself made pretty good progress on, turning the military into a social program. Which is fair. It's an instrument of justice, not violence. Violence should be reserved to the agencies that really need it, like the IRS, the Department of Agriculture, and local police, preferably SWAT divisions with all that equipment for which the military can no longer can imagine a use, but not necessarily. Any rookie ought to be able to shoot a 12 year old if protocol calls for it. The main point is, some laws just have to be enforced. You never know when a Tea Party group is going to start stealing our taxes.

Updated List

It's about time someone did it--Vulture has ranked all the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Anchors.  Too bad they screwed it up.  Okay, they vaguely get it right, but certain specific flaws ruin the list.  Here are the top ten (of seventeen).

1.  Dennis Miller
2.  Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
3.  Norm MacDonald
4.  Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd
5.  Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey
6.  Chevy Chase
7.  Jane Curtin and Bill Murray
8.  Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers
9.  Jane Curtin
10. Seth Meyers

The big problem is Chevy Chase at #6.  Any list that doesn't have him at #1 should be ignored.  This is not just the man who originated the role of Weekend Update Anchor.  This is the man who took something that could easily have been a one-off bit on a show where the format was up for grabs, and turned it into the focal point of the program.  This is a man who made the show itself famous, and did it more through Weekend Update than anything else.  That he was not only able to create something out of nothing, but do it really well, makes him #1 in any rational list.

Other than that, I have to disagree with Dennis Miller on top, or even second. He certainly was a major figure at Update, but I think he's a bit overrated.  I see him near the top, but not too close.

On the other hand, Tina Fey really did a great job, but her best partner was Jimmy Fallon, who was her opposite, while I didn't think the teaming with Amy Poehler (though I liked Poehler better as a sketch performer than Fallon) really worked--even though Vulture says their "chemistry was palpable."

And I think Norm MacDonald is rated too low. Since I place Chase at #1, you can deduce I put MacDonald at #2.  He was the only person after Chase to completely make the position his own, and not owe anything to anyone in the past.  I can still remember a lot of his jokes, while I can't say the same for anyone else except Chase.  For years, I'd been putting up with Weekend Update, hoping the bits would work but not seeing it as a highlight.  MacDonald was the first guy since Chevy Chase to make me look forward to the segment.

Not That One. No, Not That One Either.

Happy birthday, Little Stevie Wright, the Australian musician and songwriter who played with the Easybeats (who were huge in Australia but only had one hit in America--see if you can pick it out.)

Friday, December 19, 2014

It does seem to follow

"Why Gun-Control Advocates Lie about Guns"

"The facts aren’t on their side."

Fooled By Cool?

Consumer Reports recently rated fast-food restaurants.  The ratings are based on surveys of thousands of readers.  Here's what they found.

Burgers:  The best burgers are The Habit Burger Grill and In-N-Out Burger--both regional and, lucky me, both based in California.  The three worst burger joints (of those listed) are Burger King, Jack In The Box and--the lowest-rated of any place on any list--McDonald's.

Chicken:  The favorite by a solid margin is Chick-fil-A (which came to Southern California several years ago).  The least favorite is KFC.

Sandwiches and Subs:  Two of the bottom three are Arby's and Subway.  The top two I haven't even heard of--Portillo's Hot Dogs*, which gets the highest rating of any place, and Firehouse Subs.  (I checked and Portillo's serves Chicago-style hot dogs. I lived in Chicago for years.  I tried a Chicago-style hot dog once and that was enough for me. But then, I didn't like the famous Chicago-style deep dish pizza either.)

Mexican:  The highest-ranked is Chipotle Mexican Grill and the lowest is Taco Bell.

Notice a pattern?  The most successful, widespread chains get rated the lowest. The highest-rated tend to be regional chains, sometimes regional chains only recently spreading across the country.

I'm not saying the ratings are wrong.  But is hipness a factor here?  It's possible the most popular places are the worst.  It could be some lowest common denominator sort of thing.  But aren't some chains cool and others not, partly due to familiarity?  I have to wonder how people who had never eaten at any of these places and took blind taste tests would feel.

*I wrote this before my recent trip to Chicago, where someone explained to me what Portillo's was.

Mr. Tiger

Al Kaline, probably the most beloved Detroit Tiger of all, turns 80 today.  A decent guy and a great ballplayer.

His stats are interesting.  Home runs, 399, just short of the 400 club.  Batting average, .297, just short of .300.  Doubles, 498--so close.  But he had 3007 hits, and that puts him in a rare group indeed.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Holy yellow streak, Batman!

I laughed out loud when I heard about the theaters that decided to show "Team America" in place of "The Interview."

Now that's even too risky? Goodness, it is a scary world.

A season of hope

"Desmond’s achievement is a feat that could only be accomplished by someone who has never been subject to much in the way of biting criticism."

Say, wasn't Obama a Harvard Law Review editor? Or was that sort of like his professorship at the University of Chicago, a special edition? And there's this: "Many schools don’t deliver on what they promise but generate a ton of debt in return for not learning what’s most useful. It’s an “extended adolescence.

Politeness and apathy are deadly, apparently, as we follow incompetents to our doom. Oh, well, perhaps it makes no difference, in which case we may as well enjoy the spectacle. Kasich 2016!

One Score And Zero Years Ago

I recall 1994 as a pretty good year for movies.  Let's see what Jesse Walker says.

Here's his top ten for that year:

1.  Pulp Fiction
2.  Crumb
3.  Hoop Dreams
4.  Before The Rain
5.  The Secret Or Roan Inish
6.  Red
7.  Chungking Express
8.  Ed Wood
9.  Complaints Of A Dutiful Daughter
10. Pipsqueak Profiles

A good list, and I'm glad to see Pulp Fiction at the top. It was such a hip hit out of nowhere that it's become fashionable among the hippest to put it down--I'd call it my favorite film of the decade.  Crumb should be on the list, though I've always found Hoop Dreams vastly overrated.  Before The Rain I haven't seen but I've been planning to for twenty years.  I'm a bigger fan of John Sayles than Jesse is, but I think he likes Roan Inish more than I do--I like it, but not enough for my top ten.  Red should definitely be here, and maybe White too.  Chungking Express may be my #2 for the year.  Ed Wood I certainly like--just watched it last week--but there are still certain weaknesses that might keep it out of my top ten. The last two films I haven't seen.

Honorable mentions:

11.  Burnt By The Sun
12.  The Last Seduction
13.  The Kingdom
14.   Heavenly Creatures
15.  The Madness Of George III
16.  White
17.  Faust
18.  Barcelona
19.  Fresh
20.  True Lies

Somehow I missed 11.  The rest I like, to varying degrees.  At least a few of them would make my top ten. (It's hard for me to be impartial on Barcelona since it stars a close friend.)  The Kingdom I know as a film from a few years later, but Jesse is referring to a TV series it was taken from.

Here are a few other films that might have made my top ten:

Bottle Rocket (I'm not sure if Wes Anderson has ever topped it)

Dumb And Dumber (it was the year of Jim Carrey, but this was the one that worked--in no small part thanks to the Farrelly brothers)

The Legend Of Drunken Master (Jackie Chan proved he still had it)

Speed (Like True Lies, a fine action film with one weak act)

To Die For

Here are other 1994 films I liked:

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Backbeat, Bullets Over Broadway (one of Woody's best plots--if only he were still writing dialogue rather than scenarios for actors to fill in), Cabin Boy, Chickenhawk, Clerks, Eat Drink Man Woman The Endless Summer II, Fist Of Legend, Forrest Gump (sorry it was such a big hit, but it's still an amusing and innovative film that runs out of steam about two-thirds of the way through), Four Weddings And A Funeral, A Great Day In Harlem, The Hudsucker Proxy (seriously flawed but the stuff that works is great), Il Postino (wonderful tribute to a Stalin-lover), Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, Muriel's Wedding (almost turned me into an ABBA fan), Once Were Warriors, Spanking The Monkey, Vanya On 42nd Street (it shouldn't work but it does),

Other film of note:

47 Ronin, 8 Seconds, Above The Rime, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Air Up There, Airheads, Angels In The Outfield, Angie, Bad Girls, Being Human, Beverly Hills Cop III, Blank Check, Blankman, Blind Justice, Blown Away, The Browning Version, Car 54, Where Are You?, The Chase, City Slickers II: The Legend Of Curly's Gold, Class Of Nuke 'Em High 3: The Good, The Bad And The SubhumanoidClean Slate, Clear and Present Danger,  The Client, Clifford, Cobb, Color Of Night, Cops & Robbersons, Corrina, Corrina, Country Life, The Cowboy Way, The Cremaster Cycle, Crooklyn, The Crow, D2: The Mighty Ducks, Death and the Maiden, Disclosure, Don Juan DeMarco, Double Dragon, Dream Lover, Drop Zone, L'Enfer, Ernest Goes To School, Exit to Eden, The Favor, Fear Of A Black Hat, Federal Hill, The Flintstones, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Freefall, From Beijing With Love, The Getaway, Getting Even With Dad, Go Fish, God Of Gamblers Returns, Godzilla Vs. SpaceGodzilla, Greedy, Guarding Tess, House Party 3, How The West Was Fun, I Love Trouble, I'll Do Anything, I.Q, Immortal Beloved, In the Army Now, In The Heat Of The Sun, The Inkwell, Intersection, Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, It Could Happen to You, It's Pat, Jason's Lyric, Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, Junior, Just Friends, Killing Zoe, Ladybird, Ladybird, The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure, National Lampoon's Last Resort, The Last  Supper, Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses, Leon: The Professional, Leprechaun 2, The Lion King (biggest worldwide hit of the year), Little Big League, Little Buddha, Little Giants, The Little Rascals, Love Affair, A Low Down Dirty Shame, Major League II, A Man of No Importance, The Mask, Maverick, Men of War, Milk Money, A Million To Juan, Miracle on 34th Street, Mixed Nuts, Mrs. Parker And The Vicious Circle, My Father the Hero, My Girl 2, Nadja, Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final InsultNatural Born KillersNell, The Next Karate KidNo Escape, Nobody's Fool, North, Octobre, Oleanna, On Deadly GroundOnce Upon a Time in China VOnly You, The Paper, Police Academy: Mission to MoscowPrêt-à-Porter, Priest, Princess Caraboo, Quiz Show, Radioland MurdersRampo, Rapa-Nui, Reality BitesThe RefLa Reine Margot, Renaissance Man, Richie Rich, The River WildThe Road to Wellville, S.F.W., The Santa ClauseThe Scout, Serial MomThe Shadow, Shallow GraveThe Shawshank Redemption (how this film is now considered one of the greatest of all time is beyond me), A Simple Twist Of FateSioux City, Sirens, Sleep with Me, Somebody to Love, The SpecialistSpeechless, Star Trek GenerationsStargate, Street Fighter, Sugar Hill, Swimming with SharksTerminal Velocity, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, That's Entertainment! IIITimecop, Tom & Viv, Trapped in Paradise, The Violin Player, Wagons East!The War, When a Man Loves a Woman, Wild ReedsWith Honors, Wolf, Wyatt Earp

Still Here

A lot of rock and roll's early greats are gone, but Keith Richards lives on. Happy birthday, Keef.  With Mick Jagger, he created such a deep songbook you don't even need the hits.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Clarity of thought


Don't you mean, "No, thank you"?

I think I know where I'll be sending all future donations to higher education.

Have A Happy And Healthy Holiday

Here's an email from a friend.  He's an independent contractor and is going through what a lot of others have to deal with this time of year. (He's also not a Republican as far as I can tell.)

For those not having to deal with the Affordable Care Act, here's part of the confusion:

I previously discovered that I could not trust the provider list from my current ACA policy; the first three or four doctors on the list (that had good reviews) in fact were NOT accepting the insurance.  Also, have found examples of doctors not listed by insurers when other info on the web says they do accept that insurance.  So, forget about having faith in the answers you find online.

Today is last day to make a change and get uninterrupted coverage into 2015.  I made a chart of five recommended doctors and seven possible policies.  That makes 35 possible matches.  Called all the doctors' offices, and of those possibilities, they were confident that 19 were unaccepted, 4 were "probably" unaccepted, 6 were unanswerable, 5 were "possibly" accepted, leaving a total of 1 that was APPARENTLY a match.  

Note that this is the last day, so this info has been available to the doctors for the maximum possible amount of time (not blaming the doctors' offices, just explaining the time horizon), and when I would read the policy name exactly as it appears on the website, the offices would frequently say they "don't know what that is" -- even when it's an insurance company that they do accept some policies from.  They would sometimes ask "is that a (blah blah) or a (blah blah)?," and I would repeat that I'm just reciting the name exactly as it appears.

The insurance companies offer sub-groups of sub-groups of policies, and the doctors' offices frequently said the policies are "too new" for them to know -- on the last day of enrollment!

One doctor's office suggested I call their affiliated hospital's billing department, which I did, and was told they had no idea why I was told that, since their handling of insurance is completely separate.  Just got off the phone with one office, and the very patient woman trying to come up with an answer on whether they accepted "Blue Care Network - Blue Cross [...] HMO" spent about twenty minutes on it, and concluded she absolutely could not tell me.  She said the only way to know was to provide her with my policy number -- which you obviously don't get until after you sign up!

So, despite the most deliberate efforts, even at the deadline date, you discover that the vast majority of lower-priced policies are either unaccepted or have an unknown status, and nobody is offering to research it and "get back to you."  Of course, many of the non-answers come after being on hold for a very long time.
No need to comment.  The thing speaks for itself.

PR Job

Paul Rodgers, vocalist for Free and Bad Company, turns 65 today. But he's still out there, rocking.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

You'd think it's a hoax

"It’s Okay To Hate Republicans"

Okay? Hell, it's a duty.

Polishing his resume

"I have suggested that the most promising approach lies in . . . emphasizing technocratic expertise[.]"

Great idea, buddy. Way better than the lying incompetents we've had before. Got anyone in mind? Preferably somebody with a secret email account for some technocratic discussion.

A Decade In The Making

For years my friend Jesse Walker has been listing his top ten film--from decades ago. (In fact, I think he's been doing it for more than ten years, so he'll be repeating himself.)  He feels he didn't see enough titles in 2014 to have a fair top ten list, but he's caught up to 2004, 1994, etc.  So over the next few weeks, we'll be going back in time.

He just put up his top ten list for 2004 (which happens to be the year this blog started). Here it is:

1. Bad Education
2. Kill Bill: Vol. 2
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. The Wire 3
5. Deadwood
6. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
7. Sideways
8. Palindromes
9. The Incredibles
10. Team America: World Police

I can see putting Bad Education in the top 10, though #1 seems a bit high.  The second Kill Bill improves on the first, but I still see them as Tarantino's low point--some great sequences (which is why be probably made the film/s) but I don't give a damn about the Bride's quest or even the Bride; Tarantino, as outrageous as he could be, generally operates on a human level, which he left behind here.  Eternal Sunshine has a good concept, and there's certainly a lot of cleverness, but once we get the idea, there's not enough forward motion.  The Wire and Deadwood are TV shows which, as Jesse knows, I don't think should be on film lists. Life Aquatic, like other Wes Anderson films, has grown in my estimation over the years, but I'm still not sure I like it.  Sideways should be here.  Palindromes has the Solondz Touch, which once was a good thing, but I'm not so sure any more.  The Incredibles might make the top of my list.  Team America should certainly be hear (and is it wrong to admit you find marionettes sexy?).

Here are Jesse's honorable mentions:

11. Nobody Knows
12. Howl's Moving Castle
13. In the Realms of the Unreal
14. The Assassination of Richard Nixon
15. Panorama Ephemera
16. Before Sunset
17. Garden State
18. Light Is Calling
19. Kung Fu Hustle
20. Primer

Howl's Moving Castle might be my #1 (good year for animation).  I find Before Sunset sort of dull.  Garden State I liked. I'm not a big Stephen Chow fan (and he may be the biggest HK star of all), but Kung Fu Hustle is one of his better films.  Primer is baffling but fascinating--probably should be top ten.  Haven't seen the rest.

Here are a couple other films that would have made my top ten:

Downfall--the film that launched a thousand YouTube parodies is pretty great itself. (Now I suppose someone should make a video of Hitler ranting about not making the top ten list.)

Shaun Of The Dead--Simon Pegg's best, and the top zombie comedy around.

Other films I liked.

50 First Dates, Battle At Kruger (a famous YouTube short--I don't believe in shorts on these lists, but Jesse does), Collateral, Dhoom, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Ella Enchanted, Finding Neverland, The Good Girl, I Heart Huckabees (which hasn't gotten the respect it deserves), Incident At Loch Ness, Jiminy Glick In Lalawood, Layer Cake, Mean Girls, Napoleon Dynamite, National Treasure, The Nomi Song, Ray, Starsky & Hutch, The Village (yes, I am the one person in the world who will defend this film)

Other films of note:

13 Going on 30, 2046, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, The Alamo, Alexander, Alfie, Alien vs. Predator, Along Came Polly, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Arizona Summer, Around the World in 80 Days, Art Heist, The Aviator, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, Be with You, Being Julia, Beyond the Sea, The Big Bounce, Birth, Blade: Trinity, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Bourne Supremacy, Bride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Butterfly Effect, Catch That Kid, Catwoman, Cellular, The Chorus, Christmas with the Kranks, The Chronicles of Riddick, Clifford's Really Big Movie, Closer, Club Dread, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Connie and Carla, Crónicas, Cube Zero, D.E.B.S., Dawn of the Dead, The Day After Tomorrow, De-Lovely, Dhoom, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, District 13, Employee of the Month, Envy, EuroTrip, Exorcist: The Beginning, Face, Fahrenheit 9/11, The Fallen, Fat Albert, Flight of the Phoenix, The Forgotten, Friday Night Lights, Garfield, The Girl Next Door, Going the Distance, The Grudge, Happily Ever After, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Head in the Clouds, Hellboy, Hidalgo, Hotel Rwanda, House of Flying Daggers, Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, I, Robot, Imaginary Heroes, In Good Company, Intimate Strangers, Jersey Girl, King Arthur, Kinsey, Ladder 49, The Ladykillers, Laws of Attraction, The Libertine, Little Black Book, Look at Me, A Love Song for Bobby Long, The Machinist, The Manchurian Candidate, Meet the Fockers, Melinda And Melinda, The Merchant of Venice, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, Million Dollar Baby, The Motorcycle Diaries, Mr. 3000, Ocean's Twelve, Outfoxed, The Passion of the Christ, Perfect Strangers, The Phantom of the Opera, The Polar Express, Raising Helen, Saved!, Saw, The Scarlet Letter, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Shark Tale, She Hate Me, Shrek 2, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Soul Plane, Spanglish, Species III, Spider-Man 2, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Starsky & Hutch, The Stepford Wives, Super Size Me, Surviving Christmas, Taxi, The Terminal, Troy, Twisted, Van Helsing, Vanity Fair, Vera Drake, A Very Long Engagement, Walking Tall, Welcome to Mooseport, White Chicks, The Whole Ten Yards, Wicker Park, Win A Date With Tad Hamilton!

String Fling

Happy 70th, jazz guitarist John Abercrombie.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lesbos? You've got my attention.

Who knew it was so cheap to become SPECTRE? I imagine it's the upkeep that kills you.

I do think we should adopt the approach as national policy. California would be a good place to start. You'd think that would cover the deficit for at least a fiscal year, maybe two.

But Was It Any Good?

Here's the first sentence in Stephanie Zacharek's LA Weekly review of Chris Rock's new film Top Five:

Whatever it is Americans want out of life — and it's not even something we can precisely define ourselves — it was nowhere in evidence on Dec. 3, when a grand jury failed to indict the New York police officer whose chokehold killed Eric Garner in July.

As they used to say in The New Yorker, here's an article I never bothered to finish.  Apparently Zacharek confused her movie column with the editorial page.  Stephanie, I barely care what you think about the movie, but I don't care at all what you believe about American politics.  Even when films are explicitly all about politics (and I wouldn't put Top Five in that category), try to tell us about the film, not your smug pontifications on the geopolitical scene.

Speaking of which, here's the last sentence by another editorial writer who's mistakenly found himself on the film pages.  It's the last sentence from a squib review--a rave--by Alan Scherstuhl on the documentary Concerning Violence:

There are revelations here for everyone, but this definitely should be seen by every white American who shares MLK quotes on Facebook to tell black Americans to stop protesting

The movie is, as far as I can tell, a pro-violence film about colonization, and follows the principles of Frantz Fanon.  As Scherstuhl puts it:

Göran Hugo Olsson's profound essay documentary aspires to upset in the truest sense. [...I]ts narration [...] demands that Western viewers fundamentally upset their conceptions of everything.

Now that's useful information, telling us what the film is like (even if he's wrong about Western viewers--not to mention the subset that'll see this film--who, I'm guessing, are more open and diverse than Scherstuhl understands).  Less useful is Scherstuhl emphatically embracing Fanon's questionable (and that's a nice word for it) theorizing on the topic, rather than actually reviewing the film.  He seems to be giving the work a thumbs up because it represents a lecture he approves of.  Hate to see what he'd say about a documentary that actually challenges his beliefs.


There was a time when some thought the Dave Clark Five would replace the Beatles as the top British band. Boy, that didn't last long.  Still, let's celebrate Dave Clark's birthday. (It's rare the leader of a band is the drummer.)

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