Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why Gerald Ford was President.

With the media overload regarding the death of former President Gerald Ford, it’s good to also remember a certain Lester Matz. Ford, as far as I know, never met Mr. Matz, but the latter profoundly influenced the former President’s life and thus the entire history of the world.

Lester Matz was a building contractor living and working in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland in the 1960s and ‘70s, and as such was forced to pay out kickbacks to local politicians and bureaucrats to get his permits and other paperwork done on time. One of these corrupt pols was one with a future. His name was Spiro T. Agnew.

Agnew was not only corrupt, he was greedy, a county councilman, he started putting the squeeze on Matz and others because the job didn’t pay very well. When he became county executive in 1962, he continued his wicked ways, and one would think that he would have gone on to bigger and better sources of graft when he was elected Governor of Maryland in 1966, he did, but he still was blackmailing his former sources with exposure and collecting the loot, when two years later he was chosen by Richard Nixon to be his running mate in 1968.

One would have thought, with such a large raise in pay, and all those government perks, Vice-President Agnew would have left his former marks alone, at last. But no. he demanded cash as late as the fall of 1972. Giving the VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES envelopes full of cash in the Old Executive Office Building traumatized Matz, and when he heard that federal prosecutors were investigating corruption in Maryland, something that at the time was endemic in the state, he decided to get immunity and tell all.

In the spring of 1973, Spiro Agnew was the front-runner for the 1976 presidential race, and as what he did with and to Lester Matz and others was unknown to all but a very few people. As far as we knew, Spiro Agnew was a creepy Republican shit, but at least he had integrity. As the Watergate scandal grew exponentially people began to prepare themselves mentally for an Agnew presidency. Now I know, that such a thing is almost inconceivable. PRESIDENT AGNEW?!? Ewww. But as the Ervin hearings dominated the television and the existence of the tapes and the fight over them began, such a thing was well within the realm of possibility.

But Lester Matz changed all that. The Agnew/Matz scandal, though unrelated to Watergate, gave the Nixon administration an even sleazier taint than it already had, and Nixon’s "life insurance" was about to expire. From August to October 1973, when Agnew copped a plea and resigned, it looked like that Congress might have to impeach everybody.

Without Lester Matz, Gerald Ford would never have become Vice President, and later President. Things would have been, most likely a lot worse in 1974, and ’75 had he not come clean.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The True meaning of Kwanzaa.

Back in the 1966 a Negro activist (as they were called back then) named Ron Everett, decided to create a holiday. The 1960s was a time of experimentation, and as a black nationalist with Marxist leanings, Everett wanted to start the process of building an all Black paradise by creating a new culture based on a new mythology and alienating African Americans from the common American culture.

He had already had started by the creation of “Ebonics” a formalization of the so-called “Jive” dialect (officially called “African American Vernacular English (AAVE) by linguists), which would instill ethnic pride in speakers and further segregate the Black community from the rest of the nation, the inability to speak standard English, which is necessary to getting a good job, would radicalize Blacks and further the cause of separatism. Around this time, Everett changed his name to Maulana Karenga a little later.

Another way to further the cause of Black separatism was to create a mythical past, where ancient Egypt and medieval Mali were one and the same, a mono-cultural, mono-ethnic paradise which would still be going on if those inferior, evil white monsters hadn’t stolen Black culture, which they had no right to have, and mucked everything up.

True, this myth wasn’t created by Everett, but he publicized it big time, and many people still believe that Alexander the Great destroyed the Great Library of Alexandria eighty years before it was built and Cleopatra VII was a dead ringer for Angela Davis.

The term “Kwanzaa “ is derived from Kiswahili, a language the ancestors of African Americans never spoke, and means “first fruits.” The celebration centers around an imitation of Chanukah, with a type of a menorah called a kinara, which has seven lights instead of eight, and has the innovation of the "Kikombe cha Umoja" or communal chalice, which is shared around.

Each candle represents one of seven principles of Kawaida, which is Kiswahili for “tradition,”what Karenga originally called called Nguzo Saba (originally Nguzu Saba - "The seven Principles of Blackness"),

They are (and here I crib from the official website):

* Umoja (oo-MO-jah) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, "I am We," or "I am because We are."

(Unitiy also means that the leadership of the group knows what’s best for the group, and that dissent is unwelcome. In other words: SHUT UP AND DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD!)

* Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-Determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.

(Notice that this is “communal” and not personal. That also means that the leadership of the group knows what’s best for the group, and that dissent is unwelcome. In other words: SHUT UP AND DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD!)

* Ujima (oo-GEE-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.

(Notice the term “collective.” That means that also means that the leadership of the group knows this better than we do, and that dissent is unwelcome. In other words: SHUT UP AND DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD!)

* Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.

(Cooperative economics is good old Soviet-style state planning. Only the leadership of the group…you get the picture)

* Nia (NEE-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.

(This principle is different from the others in that it challenges the individual “to think for themselves” as how to fulfill the commands of the leadership of the group.)

* Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.

(this actually is the only one which is actually good)

• Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

(Faith means trust in the leadership of the group, who know all. Etc, etc. and so forth)

Despite a completely BS premise, Kwanzaa has become very popular because you get presents and ceremonial is always good. The US post office has issued stamps to commemorate the holiday, and people spend millions every year on gifts and decorations.

At least Festus admits it’s bogus.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Today is the Winter solstace!

There are four north poles. Yeah, that's right, four. The first is the axial pole, around which the planet spins once a day. The second is the magnetic poll, which is why compases work, and the third is...the other magnetic pole,called the North Geomagnetic Pole, which is similar but different because of the fourth called the South Atlantic Anomaly, which is the beginnings of a thousand year long flipping of the earth's magnetic field. (there are only two south poles, BTW)

I mention this because all three north poles are moving. Keeping the SAA, out of the picture for the moment, the North Magnetic Pole is headed for Eastern Siberia and the North Axial pole is doing it's 26,000 year circle around itself, called the precession of the equinoxes. One complete period of this precession is called a Great Sidereal Year. At the moment, we are in the middle of the "Age of Pices"(the "Age of Aquarius"doesn't start for another six hundred years).

What this means is that the north axial pole is facing away from the Sun when we reach perihelion, the closest point in our orbit. What's an interesting coincidence, is that the perihelion is always somewhere around January the first. In other words, Pope Gregory XIV, didn't know that the New Year on his new calender had anything to do with an actual natural event.

This year, it's on fourth, and thus, we can continue to celebrate the New year 2007 for the better part of a week.

It's all the sweeter with a Democratic congress coming in. So stay warm and be cool....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Chappy Channukka!

Today is the sixth day of Hanukkah (or Chanukah), the Jewish festival of lights, The term is Hebrew for “rededication” and refers to the cleansing of the second Jewish temple by the Hasmoneans in 165 BCE. Since the 25th Day of the month of Kislev in the Jewish lunar calendar varies on the secular one anywhere between mid November and late December (I distinctly remember it being in January one year, but I could be wrong), it is frequently considered a cheap imitation of Christmas, but it isn’t.

To find the true meaning of the holiday, we have to go back to 336 BCE, when Alexander III of Macedon, also known as Alexander the Great, took power after the assassination of his father Phillip II. Now the Macedonians were Albanians with Greece envy, and before his death, Phillip had conquered Greece, and Alexander, who had been taught by, among others, the famous Aristotle, was pure Hellenic in attitude, and very much wanted to get revenge on the Persians for the invasion of a century and a quarter before [an interesting side note, Macedonia was a Persian ally during the Persian wars].

So in 334, he decided to conquer Persia, defeating Darius III at Battle of Issus the next year. He turned south and east, passing through Judea on the way to Egypt. Thus the autonomous province came under Greek rule.

Alexander passed through Judea again on his way though Babylonia (Iraq) to what is now Iran, and he basically let the Jews alone as long as they paid their taxes. So things remained as Alexander got all the way to India, died [he was poisoned], and his top generals went to war with each other to inherit the empire.

Between 323 and 300, the Jews sat on the sidelines as the Macedonians duked it out with each other, and a quasi-stable situation developed. The Antigonids, had Europe, the Selucids had most of Asia, and the Ptolomies had Egypt, Cyprus, Judea and Syria.

For the Jews, this was fine. The first three Ptolomies were rather good for everyone involved. The fourth wasn’t so hot. He was a corrupt, inbred moron who the Selucids thought was ripe for the picking. It wasn’t so easy, but they finally managed to wrest Judea from the Ptolomies at the Battle of Panium (198 BC). The king at the time, Antiochus III, died in 187 and was succeeded by his son Selucius IV, who lost a war with Rome, and was soon overthrown by his unstable brother, Antiochus IV Epheminies, which roughly means “ the nutjob”, in 175.

Antiochus started out his reign by invading Egypt, and to the surprise of everyone, he actually managed to conquer the country. For a while, he let a couple of young Ptolomies by kings-in-name, but they revolted when Antiochus went back to Syria, so he came back in 171 and had himself crowned Pharaoh. Meanwhile, the Ptolomy brothers asked Rome for help, and the republic sent an army led by General Gaius Popillius Laenas, who told him that he must immediately withdraw from Egypt and Cyprus. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council, whereupon the envoy drew a line round him in the sand, and said, "Think about it here." The implication was that, were he to step out of the circle without having first undertaken to withdraw, he would be at war with Rome. Antiochus agreed to withdraw.

Our villain was in an understandably fowl mood, and there was trouble with the Jews. He had forced out the high Cohen a couple of years before, and replaced him with an apostate named Jason. Jason was actually somewhat popular, as Greek culture was actually cooler than Jewish. The more anti-Hellenistic faction argued, and in the name of cultural unity, Antiochus decided to ban Judaism and have a uniformly Hellenistic kingdom. Jason was kicked out, by the antihellinists, Antiochus appointed a new high Cohen and then ordered a statue of Zeus put up in the Holy of holies.

The religious party, led by Mattathias the Hasmonean, started a full scale revolt, which under his son Judah the Maccabee (Aramaic for Hammer), drove the Greeks out of Jeruselem in 165 and later all of Judea, It was a great victory and Jewish independence was assured for at least a century.

In other words, Chanukah is a Jewish "Fourth of July" and a most Zionist holiday. The lights come from a legend which was first mentioned in the Talmud. With the fall of the Hasmoneans and the failure of the revolts against the Romans, the so-called miracle was emphisised and the military victory downplayed, especially since the Hasmonean dynasty wasn't all that great, especially in it's later days.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


20th Century Fox, 99mins, PG

Directed by
Stefen Fangmeier

Yes, the book that this was based on was written by a fifteen year old kid named , and his parents published it themselves before it was taken up by a real publisher. Apparently, the book was struck a nerve among a certain age group, otherwise they wouldn't have adapted it. Be that as it may, this is no way a great movie.

According to the prologue, Dragons and their riders kept the peace for thousands of years until an evil bastard by the name of Galbatorix (John Malkovich) took over the works and now dragons are extinct. However, there is one egg, and the heroic (and blonde) princess Arya (Sienna Guillory) has stolen it from his badness, who has sent his evil minion Durza the shade (Robert Carlyle) to get it back. She uses her magic to send it to our hero Eragon (Edward Speleers), a simple (blonde) farm boy with lousy aim [okay, the magic flash might have something to do with it.] Something a fifteen year old kid who's read too much hard fantasy might have thought up.

All the clichés are there. The fact that he's an orphan, his meeting up with Brom (Jeremy Irons), the village idiot, who just happens to be the last of the dragon riders of old. The names of the species of villains come right out of LotR, “the Sword of Shanara”, and every other book with the word “elf” somewhere in it. The only original thing about this paint-by-numbers epic is getting Rachel Weisz to be the voice of Saphira the Dragon, although they could have spent an extra five grand or so to move her lips. The telepathic gag is not only old, but lazy. So's the plotting, but then it was written by a fifteen year old kid, and most of them don't know any better. So of course, it's one big cliché. Young Christopher Paolini, who wrote the novel and it's two sequels may have a future ahead of him, but hopefully he's going to do something original from here one out.

If you want pseudo-medieval battles with fairys and elves, go take Lord of the Rings out off the shelf and let this one slip by. Yeech.

Charlotte's Web
Paramount Pictures, 97mins, G

Directed by
Gary Winick

You have to be careful with classics. They're so easy to muck up. E. B. White's “Charlotte's Web” is a classic if there ever was, right up there with “Huckleberry Finn” and “Winnie the Pooh.” In order to get it right, you have to stay faithful to original source, and even moreso, you have to respect it. The first movie version did this to some extent (Hanna Barbera), but the production values weren't really that good. Which makes this one of the great remakes of all time. This was White's most intelligent children's book, and Gary Winick makes sure that the intelligence remains.

Sam Shepard's voice introduces us to a slightly updated version of “Our Town” or Lake Wobigon, a place where everyone is nice and nothing much happens, and Fern(Dakota Fanning) watching her father (Kevin Anderson) midwife the birth of a litter of pigs, the runt of which, Wilbur(voice of Dominic Scott Kay), is about to get the axe when Fern saves him and he gets transferred, eventually to Fern's uncle Homer's(Gary Basaraba) farm across the way. Here we meet a bunch of refugees from “Babe” with what has to be one of the most prestigious voice casts of any animated or quasi-animated film ever. Okay, John Cleese, Julia Roberts and Steve Buscemi have done quite a bit of voicework in the past, but Robert REDFORD? Kathy Bates? Wow!

Yeah, Roberts is great as Charlotte and Buscemi is always brilliant, and as a CGI enhanced funny animal flick its just fine, but what's surprising are the adults. You have Fern's mom(Essie Davis) consulting with her doctor(Beau Bridges) about her kid's bizarre attraction to the animals in the barn, and you have to remember that the “X-files” angle, and the reaction of normal adults to the messages in the spiderweb.

This is the definitive version. If you have kids, take them to it now, and by the DVD in six months and hope no one else tries to do another version ever again, and thus ruin it for future generations.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Directed by
Gabriele Muccino

There are two reasons to go to movies: one is for entertainment and the other information. Hopefully, you get both. Unfortunately, this is neither. Which is more the pity as everyone does a really good job all around.

The year is 1981. Christopher(Will Smith) and Linda Gardner (Thandie Newton) live with their son Christopher, Jr (Jaden Smith) in one of the less fortunate sections of San Francisco. They invested all their money in a medical device that no one really wants. She works in a laundry doing double shifts as he tries to sell the gadget to doctors and hospitals in the area with little or no success. The bills are beginning to pile up, and Linda is beginning to crack. There is really no hope here, until he sees a sign saying that the Dean Witter brokerage saying that there's an competitive internship program, so he begins to hound the executive in charge(Brian Howe), until he gets an in, unfortunately, he's got those pesky financial problems, the internship is unpaid, which first forces his wife to leave him, then to move further and further down the financial ladder, until he and Chris, Jr have no place to sleep except a public toilet and homeless shelters.

Filmmakers Gabriele Muccino and Steven Conrad have figured out what some critics like: serious melodramas about nice people in pain. This is all about that. We see our Job [Sissyphus, whatever] trying to get that rock out of that hole again and again and again, with little or no success. He gets the internship, but everything else gets worse and worse. While this is based on a true story, the happy ending seems tacked on. Even the comic bits with the medical gadget being stolen, isn't that funny, which brings us to the question: Do we really want to see Will Smith suffer for over an hour and a half? Not really…and what of information?

There isn't any. The film recreates a time gone by extremely well, but so what? “The Pursuit of Happyness” just isn't worth the bucks or time.


Written and Directed
By Bill Condon

The oft-threatened return of the movie musical makes good this year with an adaptation of Tom Eyen and Michael Bennett's famous fictionalized history of the Supremes. It's nice that somebody finally got it right [okay, Rob Marshall's “Chicago” got it right too, but that doesn't explain everything else].

One of the reasons that this works is that it's operatic. There's very little spoken dialogue, and everything else is sung. This makes the numbers blend seamlessly from one to the other and that makes the highlights even better.

It's 1962, and Effervescent teenagers Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose) are late for their debut at that big Detroit talent show. They lose, but are noticed by car salesman/talent agent Curtis Taylor, Jr.(Jamie Foxx), who immediately gets them a gig singing backup with James "Thunder" Early(Eddie Murphy) and from there it's straight to the top. Well not exactly straight…

There are the complications: Effie is a bit of a diva, Curtis is basically a stock villain, who throws people away like wet Kleenex while treating the rest like puppets. Yes, folks, it's a melodrama with two dimensional characters. However, most of the great musicals from the 1930s and '40s did too, and it was the music and dancing which saved them. This is the case here, as well.

For instance, Effie's showstopper "And I am Telling You I'm Not Going." Is the bomb. Hudson blows everyone away, and that includes Beyoncé, a very difficult feat indeed. The acting is excellent thoughout. Foxx and Murphy give the performances of a lifetime, the four members of the group are smart and sexy and sing their own stuff, and as minor characters Sharon Leal, as the fourth “Dream”, Danny Glover as Eddy Murphy's first manger, and Keith Robinson as Effie's songwriter brother hold their own very nicely, and oh yeah, John Lithgow has a brief cameo which is a real hoot.

This is worth full price.

The Good German

Directed by
Steven Soderbergh

You have to say this for Steven Soderbergh, he isn't afraid to try stuff. Each and every film he's done [with the exception of the “Ocean's 11” films], has been starkly different than anything else he's done. Different isn't necessarily good, nor is it necessarily bad, but in recent years, and that's excepting “Ocean's 12,” he's not done all that well as compared to the glory years bracketing the millennium.

To say that is an improvement over his previous film is not really saying anything, as “Bubble” was truly horrid, However, the question is this better than, or on par with most of Soderbergh's other recent work, and that's a more difficult question.

This time Soderbergh is doing a film noir, and he wants it to have a truly retro feel. Thus he tries to replicate the technique of the times, and this, to some extent does give it that 1940s feel. It's the rest of the film which is a little off.

One problem is its structure. This is a three act picture in which each act has a different narrator. The first is Corporal Tully (Tobey Maguire), a driver and bigwig in the black market. His “day job” is to chauffeur “New Republic” correspondent and honorary captain Jake Geismar (George Clooney) around town while he's covering the Potsdam conference between Stalin, Truman and Churchill. As an act of friendship, he introduces Geismar to his girlfriend Lena Brandt(Cate Blanchett), a local hooker who, before the war, was screwing Geismar himself, and just as this triangle is getting set up, about twenty minutes into the film, Tully is about to offer Lena's husband Emil(Christian Oliver) to Soviet General Sikorsky (Ravil Isyanov), when he's relieved of his narration duties and life offstage only to be found next to palace where the confrence is being held by none other than our old pal Geismar, who then becomes the narrator.

I hate when they do that. It throws you off and makes you waste precious time trying to readjust, which is a bit difficult, as the plot begins to thicken as fast as a frosting in a blender: You have Lieutenant Schaeffer (Dave Power) trying to find Nazi war criminals, Colonel Muller (Beau Bridges) trying to protect some of them in order to start up the cold war and space programs, and various other figures at odds with each other. Lena doesn't help very much until she takes up narration duties for the final few scenes, which ends up like Casablanca, and I don't mean in a good way.

All and all, while the acting is more than professional, the film itself is kind of on the sloppy side, and this sloppiness makes the entire work a bit off kilter, which hurts the whole production. It also doesn't look authentic.

Stick with the videos of the real thing, and wait for “Ocean's 13.”

Home of the Brave

Directed by
Irwin Winkler

The better part of a lifetime ago, there was a great movie called “The Best Years of Our Lives,” which was about GIs returning from the second world war and how they coped with the transition back to their previous lives and the effect on the loved ones they came back to. Updating this premise has been done for a number of wars since then, with varying results. This is not one of the better ones.

First off, there's a semi-gratuitous battle scene. It's the present day, and the platoon we're going to follow is informed that they're going home. However, before then, they have to go on one last mission: deliver badly needed supplies to somewhere that needs it.

But the bad guys (or are they the good guys?) are waiting to blow our guys up, and the mission is foiled. There's lots of blood and gore, which is fine if was a regular war movie where you could get into the action, but this isn't.

This is about people in pain. Vanessa Price(Jessica Biel) has gotten her hand blown off, and is having trouble getting past the physical limitations of her new situation. Jamal Atkins (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) is having trouble with the Veterans administration, who won't let him have the therapy he needs or even schedule a doctor's appointment; Tommy Yates (Brian Presley) has lost his best friend(Chad Michael Murray), in battle and when he gets home, he can't really connect with his father(Vyto Ruginis), who's a bit of an ass, of the friend's significant other(Christina Ricci) and Dr, Will Marsh (Samuel L. Jackson) has to reintegrate with a family(Victoria Rowell as his wife, Sam Jones III as his son, and some little girl as his daughter) that no longer really understands him.

The problem with the film is, while Winkler and writer Mark Friedman try, we can't really understand either. The characters generally just mope about, and with the exception of Vanessa, none of them actually TRY to reintegrate themselves. The acting is okay, but not good enough to make things actually engaging. The characters are flat, and by the end, one doesn't care that much as to what's going on. This is not something to waste an afternoon with. Pass it by.

The Secret Life of Words

Written and directed
by Isabel Coixet

One of the reasons that some people prefer foreign films to Hollywood movies are that the latter are much deeper than the former. For instance, this thing is very, very deep. So deep in fact that getting the bends is a distinct possibility.

Hanna (Sarah Polley), is a mysterious young woman working in a factory somewhere in Britain. She does her job very well, but she doesn't socialize too much, and the union and her co-workers convince her boss(Reg Wilson) to force her to take a vacation.

So where does she go? Northern Ireland in the late fall, where it is cold and depressing. While there she hears some fellow talking to another guy on the phone discussing a third fellow named Josef (Tim Robbins), who was badly burned in a flash fire at an offshore oil rig in the North Sea. Since Hanna was once a nurse, she goes up to the guy and volunteers. Yes, this is a dream vacation.

So for the next hour and a bit, we are treated to dialogue. Hanna has conversations with the bouncy Spanish cook Simon (Javier Camara), who's the only person who isn't morbidly depressed, the captain of the rig, Dimitri (Sverre Anker Ousdal), who is only there for the money and isn't very happy ever, the crew's ecologist Martin (Daniel Mays) who thinks he could save the world, and a couple of bisexuals who barely play a role. Then there's Josef.

This is more a filmed play than a real movie. Sure there's the sweeping vistas of the oil rig taken from a helicopter, but most of the film takes place in Josef's sickroom, where the two protagonists talk about life, philosophy and why they are the way they are.

This is Polley's picture and hers alone. She gets the accent right, and manages to go from an emotional automaton to a real-live girl without skipping a beat, and her scene where she reveals her past is quite moving. For those fans of deep, foreign films, this is something to see. You don't even have to read the subtitles.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

the Color Coded Golden globe predections

Haven't Seen
Will win

No way in Hell.


"The Departed"
"Little Children"
"The Queen"

Penelope Cruz - "Volver"
Judi Dench - "Notes on a Scandal"
Maggie Gyllenhaal - "Sherrybaby"
Helen Mirren - "The Queen"
Kate Winslet - "Little Children"

Leonardo DiCaprio - "Blood Diamond"
Leonardo DiCaprio* - "The Departed"
Peter O'Toole - "Venus"
Will Smith - "The Pursuit of Happyness"
Forest Whitaker - "The Last King of Scotland"

*Leo may cancel himself out.

"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"
"The Devil Wears Prada"
"Little Miss SUnshine"
"Thank You For Smoking"

Annette Bening - "Running with Scissors"
Toni Collette - "Little Miss Sunshine"
Beyonce Knowles - "Dreamgirls"
Meryl Streep - "The Devil Wears Prada"
Renee Zellweger - "Miss Potter"

Sasha Baron Cohen - "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"
Johnny Depp - "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"
Aaron Eckhart - "Thank You for Smoking"
Chiwetel Ejiofor - "Kinky Boots"
Will Farrell - "Stranger Than Fiction"

"Letters from Iwo Jima"
"The Lives of Others"
"Pan's Labyrinth"

"Happy Feet"
"Monster House"


Adriana Barraza - "Babel"
Kate Blanchett - "Notes on a Scandal"
Emily Blunt - "The Devil Wears Prada"
Jennifer Hudson - "Dreamgirls"
Rinko Kikuchi - "Babel"

Ben Affleck - "Hollywoodland"
Jack Nicholson - "The Departed"
Eddie Murphy - "Dreamgirls"
Brad Pitt - "Babel"
Mark Wahlberg - "The Departed"

Clint Eastwood - "Flags of Our Fathers"
Clint Eastwood - "Letters from Iwo Jima"
Stephen Freers - "The Queen"
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - "Babel"
Martin Scorcese - "The Departed"

"Little Children"
"Notes on a Scandal"
"The Departed"
"The Queen"

"The Painted Veil"
"The Fountain"
"The Da Vinci Code"

"A Father's Way - "Pursuit of Happyness"
"Listen" - "Dreamgirls"
"Never Gonna Break My Faith" - "Bobby"
"The Song of the Heart" - "Happy Feet"
"Try Not to Remember" - "Home of the Brave"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Color commentary on the LA film critics awards

The awards season has begun. My color coded comments:

Haven't seen.

2006 Los Angeles Critics Association winners:

Picture: "Letters From Iwo Jima"
Runner-up: "The Queen"

Director: Paul Greengrass, "United 93"
Runner-up: Clint Eastwood, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"

Actor: Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat" and Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland" (tie) (both good, but not good enough)

Actress: Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
Runner-up: Penelope Cruz, "Volver"

Supporting actor: Michael Sheen, "The Queen"[he was very good, but not great]
Runner-up: Sergi Lopez, "Pan's Labyrinth"

Supporting actress: Luminita Gheorghiu, "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu"
Runner-up: Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls" (she should have gotten the award)

Screenplay: Peter Morgan, "The Queen" (it was good, but not the best)
Runner-up: Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine" (This was a ripoff of "Nat. Lampoon's Vactation")

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, "Children of Men"
Runner-up: Tom Stern, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"

Production design: Eugenio Caballero, "Pan's Labyrinth" (while this was a much better movie, Arnofsky's "the Fountain" was better)
Runner-up: Jim Clay and Geoffrey Kirkland, "Children of Men"

Music: Alexandre Desplat, "The Queen" and "The Painted Veil"
Runner-up: Thomas Newman, "The Good German" and "Little Children"

Foreign-language film: "The Lives of Others"
Runner-up: "Volver" (The best foreign films were "13 Tzametti" and "The Host", but neither is going to get anything)

Documentary/non-fiction film: "An Inconvenient Truth"
Runner-up: "Darwin's Nightmare"

Animation: "Happy Feet"
Runner-up: "Cars"

Douglas Edwards experimental/independent film/video award: "Old Joy" (Kelly Reichardt) and "In Between Days" (So Yong Kim) ("Old Joy" sucked.)

New generation award: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris (directors) and Michael Arndt (screenwriter), "Little Miss Sunshine" (A derivitive film which was nice but not great).

Career achievement award (previously announced): Robert Mulligan (?)

The Golden Satellite award nominees.

The color code: Will Win
Should Win
Yeah, they should have been nominated
Shame on YOU GS people!

Penelope Cruz -- "Volver" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Helen Mirren -- "The Queen" (Miramax)
Judi Dench -- "Notes on a Scandal" (Searchlight)
Gretchen Mol -- "The Notorious Bettie Page" (HBO)
Maggie Gyllenhaal -- "Sherrybaby" (IFC)
Kate Winslet -- "Little Children" (New Line)

Derek Luke -- "Catch a Fire" (Focus)
Joshua Jackson -- "Aurora Borealis" (Regent)
Forrest Whitaker -- "The Last King of Scotland" (Fox Searchlight)
Ryan Gosling -- "Half Nelson" (ThinkFilm)
Patrick Wilson -- "Little Children" (New Line)
Leonardo DiCaprio -- "Blood Diamond" (Warner Bros)

Julie Walters -- "Driving Lessons" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Annette Bening -- "Running with Scissors" (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Meryl Streep -- "The Devil Wears Prada" (20th Century Fox)
Toni Collette -- "Little Miss Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight)
Jodie Whitaker -- "Venus" (Miramax)
Beyonce Knowles -- "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)

Joseph Cross -- "Running with Scissors" (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Aaron Eckhart -- "Thank You for Smoking" (Fox Searchlight)
Sasha Baron Cohen -- "Borat" (20th Century Fox)
Peter O'Toole -- "Venus" (Miramax)
Will Ferrell -- "Stranger than Fiction" (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

AFI's top

'Borat,' 'Dreamgirls,' 'Little Miss Sunshine' named as best

The films, in alphabetical order, include "Babel," "Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Dreamgirls," "Half Nelson," "Happy Feet," "Inside Man," "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Little Miss Sunshine" and "United 93."

Of course, they forgot "Superman Returns" and shouldn't have included "Babel" and "Half Nelson" (the latter sucked big time) "Letters from Iwo Jima" I haven't seen yet.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Golden Satellite award nominees.

The awards season has begun, and this is as good a place as any to start....
(analysis later)

Penelope Cruz -- "Volver" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Helen Mirren -- "The Queen" (Miramax) yes
Judi Dench -- "Notes on a Scandal" (Searchlight)
Gretchen Mol -- "The Notorious Bettie Page" (HBO)
Maggie Gyllenhaal -- "Sherrybaby" (IFC)
Kate Winslet -- "Little Children" (New Line)

Derek Luke -- "Catch a Fire" (Focus)
Joshua Jackson -- "Aurora Borealis" (Regent)
Forrest Whitaker -- "The Last King of Scotland" (Fox Searchlight)
Ryan Gosling -- "Half Nelson" (ThinkFilm)
Patrick Wilson -- "Little Children" (New Line)
Leonardo DiCaprio -- "Blood Diamond" (Warner Bros)

Julie Walters -- "Driving Lessons" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Annette Bening -- "Running with Scissors" (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Meryl Streep -- "The Devil Wears Prada" (20th Century Fox)
Toni Collette -- "Little Miss Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight)
Jodie Whitaker -- "Venus" (Miramax)
Beyonce Knowles -- "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)

Joseph Cross -- "Running with Scissors" (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Aaron Eckhart -- "Thank You for Smoking" (Fox Searchlight)
Sasha Baron Cohen -- "Borat" (20th Century Fox)
Peter O'Toole -- "Venus" (Miramax)
Will Ferrell -- "Stranger than Fiction" (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Abigail Breslin -- "Little Miss Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight)
Lily Tomlin -- "Prairie Home Companion" (New Line)
Blythe Danner -- "The Last Kiss" (Dreamworks)
Rinko Kikuchi -- "Babel" (Paramount/Vantage)
Cate Blanchett -- "Notes on a Scandal" (Fox Searchlight)
Jennifer Hudson -- "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)

Donald Sutherland -- "Aurora Borealis" (Regent)
Adam Beach -- "Flags of our Fathers" (Dreamworks)
Leonardo DiCaprio -- "The Departed" (Warner Bros)
Alan Arkin -- "Little Miss Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight)
Brad Pitt -- "Babel" (Paramount/Vantage)
Jack Nicholson -- "The Departed" (Warner Bros)

"Half Nelson" (ThinkFilm)
"The Departed" (Warner Bros)
"The Queen" (Miramax)
"The Last King of Scotland" (Fox Searchlight)
"Babel" (Paramount/Vantage)
"Little Children" (New Line)

"Little Miss Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight)
"Thank You for Smoking" (Fox Searchlight)
"The Devil Wears Prada" (20th Century Fox)
"Stranger than Fiction" (Sony/Columbia)
"Venus" (Miramax)
"Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)

"The Lives of Others" (Germany - Sony Pictures Classics)
"Volver" (Spain - Sony Pictures Classics)
"Changing Times" (France - Koch Lorber Films)
"Water" (Canada - Fox Searchlight)
"Syrian Bride" (Israel - Koch Lorber Films)
"Apocalypto" (Mexico - Icon Entertainment International)

"Cars" (Disney/Pixar)
"Ice Age 2: The Meltdown" (20th Century Fox)
"Happy Feet" (Warner Bros)
"Flushed Away" (Dreamworks)
"Pan's Labyrinth" (Picturehouse)

"Deliver Us from Evil" (Lions Gate)
"Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple" (Firelight Media/PBS)
"An Inconvenient Truth" (Paramount/Vantage)
"The US vs. John Lennon" (Lions Gate)
"Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man" (Lions Gate)
"The War Tapes" (Senart Films)

Martin Scorsese -- "The Departed" (Warner Bros)
Clint Eastwood -- "Flags of Our Fathers" (Dreamworks/Warner Bros)
Pedro Almodovar -- "Volver" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Stephen Frears -- "The Queen" (Miramax)
Alejandro González Iñárritu -- "Babel" (Paramount/Vantage)
Bill Condon -- "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)

André Téchiné, Laurent Guyot, Pascal Bonitzer -- "Changing Times (Koch Lorber)
Elena Soarez, Luiz Carlos Barreto, Andrucha Waddington -- "House of Sand" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Guillermo Arriaga, Alejandro González Iñárritu -- "Babel" (Paramount/Vantage)
Pedro Almodovar -- "Volver" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Peter Morgan -- "The Queen" (Miramax)
Paul Laverty -- "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" (IFC)

William Broyles, Jr.; Paul Haggis -- "Flags of Our Fathers" (Dreamworks/Warner Bros)
Jason Reitman -- "Thank You for Smoking" (Fox Searchlight)
William Monahan, Siu Fai Mak, Felix Chong -- "The Departed" (Warner Bros)
Todd Field, Tom Perrotta -- "Little Children" (New Line)
Garrison Keillor -- "A Prairie Home Companion" (New Line)
Bill Condon -- "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)

Gabriel Yared -- "The Lives of Others" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Clint Eastwood -- "Flags of Our Fathers" (Dreamworks/Warner Bros)
Philip Glass -- "Notes on a Scandal" (Fox Searchlight)
Nathan Johnson -- "Brick" (Focus)
Hans Zimmer -- "Da Vinci Code" (Columbia)
Gustavo Santolalla -- "Babel" (Paramount/Vantage)

"Upside Down" -- Jack Johnson, "Curious George" (Imagine/Universal)
"You Know My Name" -- Chris Cornell, "Casino Royale" (MGM/Sony)
"Love You I Do" -- Henry Krieger, Siedah Garrett, "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)
"Never Let Go" -- Bryan Adams, Trevor Rabin, Eliot Kennedy, "The Guardian" (Disney)
"Listen" -- Henry Krieger, Anne Previn, Scott Cutler, Beyoncé Knowles, "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)
"Till the End of Time" -- Nick Urata, Devotchka, "Little Miss Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight)

Ricardo Della Rosa -- "House of Sand" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Tom Stern -- "Flags of Our Fathers" (Dreamworks/Warner Bros)
Vilmos Zsigmond -- "The Black Dahlia" (Universal)
Philippe Lesourd -- "A Good Year" (Fox 2000)
Dante Spinotti -- "X-Men: The Last Stand" (20th Century Hotel)
Matthew Libatique -- "The Fountain" (Warner Bros)
Zhao Xiaoding -- "Curse of the Golden Flower" (Sony Pictures Classics)

Michael Owens, Matthew Butler, Bryan Grill, Steven Riley -- "Flags of Our Fathers" (Dreamworks/Warner Bros)
John Knoll -- "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (Disney)
John Bruno -- "X-Men: The Last Stand" (20th Century Fox)
Dan Glass -- "V for Vendetta" (Warner Bros)
Jeremy Dawson, Daniel Schrecker -- "The Fountain" (Warner Bros)
Everett Burrell, Edward Irastorza -- "Pan's Labyrinth" (Picturehouse)
Kevin Ahern -- "The Da Vinci Code" (Columbia/Sony)

Mark Helfrich, Mark Goldblatt -- "X-Men: The Last Stand" (20th Century Fox)
Joel Cox -- "Flags of Our Fathers" (Dreamworks/Warner Bros)
Stephen Mirrione, Douglas Crise -- "Babel" (Paramount Vantage)
William Goldenberg -- "Miami Vice" (Universal)
Virginia Katz -- "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)

Steve Maslow, DM Hemphill, John A. Larsen, Rick Klein -- "X-Men: The Last Stand" (20th Century Fox)
Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman, Walt Martin, John Reitz, Dave Campbell, Gregg Rudloff -- "Flags of Our Fathers" (Warner Bros/Dreamworks)
José Garcia, Jon Taylor, Chris Minkler, Martin Hernandez -- "Babel" (Paramount/Vantage)
Willie Burton, Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer, Richard E. Yawn -- "Dreamgirls" (DreamworksParamount)
Chic Ciccolini III, Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell -- "The Da Vinci Code" (Columbia/Sony)

K.K. Barrett -- "Marie Antoinette" (Columbia)
Henry Bumstead, Jack G. Taylor Jr., Richard Goddard -- "Flags of Our Fathers" (Warner Bros)
John Myhre, Tomas Voth, Nancy Haigh -- "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)
Eugenio Caballero -- "Pan's Labyrinth" (Picturehouse)
Owen Paterson, Marco Bittner Rosser, Sarah Horton, Sebastian T. Krawinkel, Stephen Gessler -- "V for Vendetta" (Warner Bros)

Milena Canonero -- "Marie Antoinette" (Columbia)
Jenny Beavan -- "The Black Dahlia" (Universal)
Yee Chung Man -- "Curse of the Golden Flower" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sharen Davis -- "Dreamgirls" (Dreamworks/Paramount)
Patricia Field -- "The Devil Wears Prada" (20th Century Fox)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The foreign language "foreign film list.

Golden Globe list of foreign-language contenders, I've seen some of them, but not enough to make a decent prediction:

"9th Company" (Russia/Ukraine/Finland)
"After the Wedding" (Den-mark)
"Ahlaam" (Iraq)
"Alatriste" (Spain)
"Along the Ridge" (Anche libero va bene) (Italy)
"Angel-A" (France)
"Apocalypto" (USA)
"Avenue Montaigne" (France)
"Black Book" (Zwartboek) (The Nether-lands)
"The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros" (the Philippines)
"Bosta" (Leba-non)
"Children of Glory" (Hungary)
"Chronicle of an Escape" (Argen-tina)
"Cinema, Aspirins & Vultures" (Brazil)
"Climates" (Iklimler) (Tur-key)
"Curse of the Golden Flower" (China).
"Days of Glory" (Algeria)
"El benny" (Cuba)
"Family Friend" (Italy)
"Family Law" (Ar-gentina)
"Frozen Days" (Israel)
"The Golden Door" (Nuovomondo) (It-aly)
"Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams" (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
"Il Cai-mano" (Italy)
"Ice Cream I Scream" (Turkey)
"The Island" (Rus-sia)
"King and the Clown" (South Korea)
"Lage Raho Munnabhai" (In-dia)
"La Mujer de mi Hermano" (Mexico)
"The Last Train" (Ger-many)
"Letters from Iwo Jima" (Japan)
"Libertas" (Croatia)
"The Lives of Others" (Germany)
"Love for Share" (Indonesia)
"Mario's War" (La guerra di Mario) (Italy)
"The Missing Star" (La stella che non c'e) (It-aly)
"Nomad" (Kazakhstan)
"Offside" (Iran)
"O Major Amor Do Mundo" (Brazil)
"Omkara" (India)
"Pan's Labyrinth" (Mexico)
"Playing the Victim" (Russia)
"Pretendiendo" (Chile)
"Prince of the Himalaya" (China)
"The Protector" (Thailand)
"Rang De Basanti" (India)
"Reprise" (Norway)
"Requiem" (Germany)
"Retrieval" (Z Ozysku) (Poland)
"Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles" (China)
"Sweet Mud" (Adama Meshuga'at) (Israel)
"The Valet" (France)
"Vitus" (Switzerland).
"Volver" (Spain)
"Water" (Canada)
"The Yacoubian Building" (Egypt)

Friday, November 24, 2006

The return of the quebec menace.

Preliminary designs exist for up to 56 star flags have already been prepared by the US Govt.'s Institute of Heraldry.

What does this have to do with anything? Well we’re going to discuss the possible future of a country which some people think has no right to exist: Canada.

No one in the US government has advocated the annexation of Canada in well over a century, and as far as I know, nobody in either the Bush or Clinton administrations even WANT that to happen.

However, there are quite a few Canadians who want to destroy Canada, and in reaction, a number of Provincial premiers have advocated joining the United States if they succeed.

I am, of course, talking about Quebec. Since 1970, “Le Belle Province” has been beating up on it’s minorities, and has twice held referenda on secession, albeit not in those exact words. They had two, one in 1976 and one in 1995, the first was defeated by a wide margin, the second almost passed, and according to the memoirs of Jacques Parizeau, the premier at the time, if it did, He would have would have issued an immediate declaration of independence, and we might have had to take one of those flag designs out of the filing cabinet.

The reason I bring this up, is that yesterday, Prime Minister Steven Harper tabled a resolution before the Canadian parliament proclaiming the French Quebecois, “a ‘nation’ within Canada. The reason he did this, is, allegedly, to forestall a similar resolution by Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, which didn’t include the magic words “within Canada.”

Without the magic words, it may have been construed as an endorsement Quebec independence. Still, this proposal, which is basically a declaration that somehow the French Quebecois, unlike say, the Ukrainians and Italians, both of whom have larger communities in Canada outside of Quebec, are superior,

This is quite clearly, appeasement, and will encourage a referendum after the provincial election next year, should the Quebec Nationalist party (PQ) actually win. (they’re currently running first in the polls)

The recognition of French Canadians as “special” has always ticked off those in the Rest of Canada (RoC), and there are Western Nationalists (they nearly took power in Saskatewan in 2003), who sometimes threaten secession themselves. But to those in the Great White North, all this is old hat and boring,

Since 1995, and especially the Liberal victory in Quebec in 2003, talk of the destruction of Canada has been mostly speculative blather by commentators, and not taken seriously by anyone. This is going to change and the whole stupid circus is going to start up anew. In fact, it already has. One of the reasons this is because the Conservative Harper government is a minority, and they’re leaning on the BQ to stay in power. With the new Liberal leadership in place next month, there’s no reason to keep Harper in power on the part of the BQ or the Liberals, and there’s going to be a big political mess.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Return of the Geriatrics.

What's interesting is that for some reason the MSM, and many here seem to think that George H. W. Bush actually seems to know what the hell he's doing. People are going around saying that "Bush I's people are coming back and that's a wonderful thing seeing as they know how to run a foreign policy and all.

Yeah, right.

We're talking about that bunch of morons that gave us Iran/Contra and the LA riots and publically supported the anti-Gorbachev coup. They're the ones who, after victory over Iraq in Gulf War II (ONE being Iran/Iraq), publically BETRAYED the Iraqi people by pretending to support their thirst for freedom and then permitting Saddam to mow down hundreds of thousands of them.

We're talking about the guy who called his opponent infantile NAMES during the 1988 debates, and a Chief of Staff who appointed himself Secretary of the Treasury without actually informing the President, who was the guy who did the actual STEALING of the 2000 election.

The American people knew about this at the time. Remember, in 1992, Bush SR got only 37.45% of the vote. that's BEHIND Hoover's 39.65% in 1932, in the middle of the GREAT DEPRESSION, behind, George McGovern's 37.52% humiliation. (for the record, President Taft got 23.17% in 1912, but that's another story). The Father's presidency was a bigger failure than the son's.

Compare the unemployment rate in November 1992 (7.4%) to October 2006 (4.4%). Now I know that some here might think that many of these jobs are minimum wage things that people cannot live on, and that's true, but the Bush I administration was completely clueless on the economy, why do you think Ross PEROT, of all people got almost 20% of the vote. Why do you think he was running first in the polls that summer? After the LA riots, Bush I looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

The schoolyard bullying was Bush SR's idea. It worked because the Democrats are polite adults (except maybe around here) and didn't think that childish behaviour needed to be responded to.

The son fucked up big time, but don't expect the father and his band of geriatric imbiciles to save him, because they're just as bad, if not worse.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Day After

I was going to go to the Democratic Victory party, but there I was just out of the shower and it was getting to nine in the evening and I had to get to bed, fuck it.

The Democrats got the Congress back. This is a pretty nifty stunt, especially with the computer-generated gerrymandering and the fact that most of the Senate seats were slam dunks.

The Democrats took the Senate. Yeah, there's the bruhaha about Montana and Virginia, but the Republicans are going to have to pay for the recounts out of their own pockets and I don't think that they've got the cash for it. One thing I haven't seen yet is whether or not the Democrats took over the state Senate or not. I'll find out soon enough. I'm glad Hevesi got a bigger margin than Coumo did. that's really cool.

So what now? The Republicans are going to feign shock for a few days and start to live with it, then we'll see if they could play nice. Tom DeLay said that this is a "Lame Duck Majority" from the get-go. I hope not, but I can see where he's coming from.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The early exit polls....

Early Senate numbers (uncomfirmed and with caveats):

Democrats are leading in Pennsylvania (+15), Ohio (+14), New Jersey (+8), Rhode Island (+7), Virginia (+7), Montana (+9), Missouri (+2), Maryland (+7).

Republicans are leading in Tennessee (+4) and Arizona (+4).

Lieberman leading by 5 in Connecticut.

Voting: Six AM

The voting machine was broken, so for the first time I had to use a paper ballot (my first vote was for Carter/Mondale in 1976). I was very tempted to write-in Mickey Mouse or Daffy Duck, but I didn't and voted mostly for third party candidates, especially for governor, where I voted for the crazy on the "My Rent is Too Damn" high ticket. Spitzer is running like 70% in the polls so I figure that I can do that. I mostly voted for the Democrats on the sattilite party lines, except for the republican running against Tom Duane.

I hate Tom Duane.

So we'll have to see what's going on in the hours to come.

O days out

This is the final batch of polls. If you're one of those people who've been coming because you think there's actual political analysis here, please come back this evening starting around eight PM, eastern standard time, because I'm going to be at the NY Democratic headquarters and doing a live blog.

Joe Lieberman (I) 50%
Ned Lamont (D) 38%
Alan Schlesinger (R) 8%

Ben Cardin (D) 49%
Michael Steele (R) 46%

Bob Menendez (D) 48%
Tom Kean, Jr. (R) 43%

Sherrod Brown (D) 62%
Mike DeWine (R) 38%

Sherrod Brown (D) 56%
Mike DeWine (R) 44%

James Webb (D) 52%
George Allen (R) 44%

Monday, November 06, 2006

one day out.

First more polls:

Dianne Feinstein (D) 60%
Dick Mountjoy (R) 31%

Joe Lieberman (I) 49%
Ned Lamont (D) 38%
Alan Schlesinger (R) 9%

Bill Nelson (D) 58%
Katherine Harris (R) 35%

Bill Nelson (D) 59%
Katherine Harris (R) 36%

Debbie Stabenow (D) 50%
Michael Bouchard (R) 44%

Debbie Stabenow (D) 52%
Michael Bouchard (R) 42%

Claire McCaskill (D) 49%
Jim Talent (R) 45%

Jon Tester (D) 50%
Conrad Burns (R) 41%

Bob Menendez (D) 49%
Tom Kean, Jr (R) 42%

Bobby Menendez (D) 50%
Tom Kean, Jr. (R) 40%

Bob Casey (D) 52%
Rick Santorum (R) 40%

Sheldon Whitehouse (D) 48%
Lincoln Chafee (R) 45%

Bob Corker (R) 49%
Harold Ford (D) 46

George Allen (R) 49%
James Webb (D) 46%

Maria Cantwell (D) 53%
Mike McGavick (R) 42%

Now some predictions for tomorrow:

California: Incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein will easily hold her seat over little-known Republican Richard Mountjoy because Aaanold has no coattails.

Connecticutt: Joe Leiberman will be reelected as an independent. Making the Daily Kos crowd briefly unhappy.

Delaware: Democrat Thomas Carper will defeat Temple University professor Jan Ting because nobody knows who the hell he is.

Florida: Former astronaut Bill Nelson will hold his seat for the Democrats over Republican Congresswoman Katherine Harris because she is EVIL and Floridians know it.

Hawaii: Democrat Daniel Akaka, will wipe the floor with Republican state Rep. Cynthia Thielen.

Indiana: Thiis is the easiest on to prognosticate: Richard Lugar is unopposed.

Maine: Republican Olympia Snowe will easily defeat Democrat Jean Hay Bright before becoming a Democrat herself. That is if the results are 50-50 and the Democrats are smart.

Massachusetts: Ted Kennedy gets reelected because it's in the State Constituion somewhere, Republican Ken Chase was very happy just to be nominatied.

Mississippi: Republican Trent Lott will be returned to the Senate over Democrat Erik Fleming, partly because Lott was himself a victim of Katrina and could feel the Gulf Coast's pain.

Nebraska: Sen. Ben Nelson, but he will easily best Republican Pete Ricketts.

Nevada: Sons of Presidents rarely do well politically, and with the exception to the rule fucking up so badly in the White House, Jimmy Carter's eldest son, Jack, will get creamed by incumbent Republican John Ensign.

New Mexico: Democrat Jeff Bingaman is a popular incumbent who might get a committe chaimanship, he will beat Republican Allen McCulloch.

New York: Republican John Spencer beat Hillary Clinton?!?! Get serious.

North Dakota: Democrat Kent Conrad will beat GOP's Dwight Grotberg because he has seniority and the North Dakotans want that.

Texas: Kay Baliy Hutchison will defeat Barbara Ann Radnofsky for the simple reason that Lyndon Johnson is dead.

Utah: Orrin Hatch is a Republican from UTAH, Democrat Pete Ashdown never had a chance.

Vermont: Bernie Sanders is popular even though he's a Socialist.

West Virginia: Once and future President pro tempore Senate Robert Byrd destroy challenger John Raese because he's beein bringing in the pork since the 1950s.

Wisconsin: Democrat Herb Kohl will defeat Robert Gerald Lorge.

Wyoming: As this is "Dick Cheney-Land" Democrat Dale Groutage never stood much of a chance against Republican Craig Thomas.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

two days out

Jon Kyl (R) 49 %
Jim Pederson (D) 41 %

Ben Cardin (D) 47%
Michael Steele (R) 44%

Debbie Stabenow (D) 53 %
Michael Bouchard (R) 37 %

Claire McCaskill (D) 46 %
Jim Talent (R) 45 %

Jon Tester (D) 47 %
Conrad Burns (R) 47 %

Bobby Menendez (D) 48 %
Junior Kean (R) 41 %

Sherrod Brown (D) 50 %
Mike DeWine (R) 44 %

Sherrod Brown (D) 62 %
Mike DeWine (R) 38 %

Bob Casey (D) 52 %
Rick Santorum (R) 39 %

Lincoln Chafee (R) 46 %
Sheldon Whitehouse (D) 45 %

Bob Corker (R) 50 %
Harold Ford Jr. (D) 38 %

Harold Ford, Jr. (D) 46%
Bob Corker (R) 40%

James Webb (D) 46 %
George Allen (R) 45 %

Maria Cantwell (D) 54 %
Mike McGavick (R) 38 %

Friday, November 03, 2006

four days out

Here are more senate polls, sans where they come from. It doesn't really matter all that much this late in the game....

Jon Kyl (R) 46%
Jim Pederson (D) 41%

Diane Feinstein (D) 55%
Dick Mountjoy (R) 33%

Joe Lieberman (I) 49%
Ned Lamont (D) 37%
Alan Schlesinger (R) 8%

Joe Lieberman (I) 51%
Ned Lamont (D) 39%
Alan Schlesinger (R) 7%

Bill Nelson (D) 58%
Katherine Harris (R) 34%

Bill Nelson (D) 59%
Katherine Harris (R) 33%

Ben Cardin (D) 49%
Michael Steele (R) 44%

Ben Cardin (D) 49%
Michael Steele (R) 43%

Debbie Stabenow (D) 49%
Michael Bouchard (R) 42%

Amy Klobuchar (D) 55%
Mark Kennedy (R) 33%

Claire McCaskill (D) 46%
Jim Talent (R) 43%

Jon Tester (D) 47%
Conrad Burns (R) 46%

Jon Tester (D) 53%
Conrad Burns (R) 47%

Bob Menendez (D) 49%
Tom Kean, Jr (R) 37%

Bob Menendez (D) 48%
Tom Kean, Jr (R) 38%

Bob Menendez (D) 46%
Tom Kean, Jr (R) 42%

Sherrod Brown (D) 49%
Mike DeWine (R) 42%

Bob Casey (D) 48%
Rick Santorum (R) 40%

Bob Casey (D) 53%
Rick Santorum (R) 38%

Sheldon Whitehouse (D) 53%
Lincoln Chafee (R) 39%

Bob Corker (R) 53%
Harold Ford (D) 43%

James Webb (D) 45%
George Allen (R) 44%

George Allen (R) 45%
James Webb (D) 42%

Maria Cantwell (D) 53%
Mike McGavick (R) 41%

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Five Days Out

Despite the fact that John Kerry's stuggle to get renominated for President two years hence has just self-destructed, the Democrats seem to be on target for retaking both houses. That's good, but I'll not truly belived it until I actually see it.

Some senate polls:

Joe Lieberman (I) 49%
Ned Lamont (D) 37%
Alan Schlesinger (R) 8%

Debbie Stabenow (D) 49%
Michael Bouchard (R) 42%

Bill Nelson (D) 59%
Katherine Harris (R) 33%

Amy Klobuchar (D) 55%
Mark Kennedy (R) 33%

Claire McCaskill (D) 46%
Jim Talent (R) 43%

Jon Tester (D) 47%
Conrad Burns (R) 46%

Bob Menendez (D) 49%
Tom Kean, JR. (R) 37%

Sherrod Brown (D) 49%
Mike DeWine (R) 42%

Bob Casey (D) 48%
Rick Santorum (R) 40%

Sheldon Whitehouse (D) 53%
Lincoln Chafee (R) 39%

Bob Corker (R) 53%
Harold Ford (D) 43%

James Webb (D) 45%
George Allen (R) 44%

George Allen (R) 45%
James Webb (D) 42%

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

San Francisco--the junket.

I know why they sometimes have these things. Advertising. The fawning press is supposed to ask some softball questions for the evening newscast, or get some background from a producer or something for a feature in a magazine or newspaper. You get everyone in the same place and it's actually pretty easy for all involved.

Now once can see why they do this for a film that's coming out. Even if the buzz is terriffic, the studios still need publicty in order for that all important first weekend. It's a major expense, but a neccessary one. Sometimes, during major film festivals, the survivors of some old films are trotted out for the press. Why just a couple of months ago, they had press confrences for El Topo and Reds, films with great reputations and which few had seen in many years. That's understandable, too. But what I couldn't understand is why they would have a full-fledges junket for a Cars.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about the one they had last June, they should have had the one just before the film came out, no. I'm talking about having another one four months later for the DVD. Now, I've saw the film when it first came out TWICE, once for the regular press screening and the IMAX version, and I gave the thing a good review. Maybe that's why they invited me, I don't know, but going out there, on THEIR dime, and getting to see the innards of this magical factory, is something no one in their right mind would pass up.

That's what made this trip so dissapointing. We didn't actually see all that much. This was only what was advertised, nothing more. Damn!

I don't really want to seem ungrateful, I mean the food was wonderful and the Hotel Monaco has soft beds and a wonderful free wine tasting program. San Francisco is a wonderful city, and had I not had to get back when I did, I would have had an extremely enjoyable day hanging out on Market street, or Polk. But that was not why I was there, I was there to see Pixar, and if I saw nothing else, that would be just dandy.

The lot of us got together at a quarter of seven in the lobby, and got on a pair of minibuses where we headed out over the Bay Bridge and into Marin County, Passing Berkeley and into the town of Emoryville, which is sort of in Oakland, and where all the factories are. The scenery was very much like it was on the other side of America, with the beginnings of autumn changing the trees from green to orange and gold. It was all very California.

Sooner than expected, there we were. They let us out of the vans and we walked into the building. the Pixar building is a two story structure with a huge interior "courtyard" surrounded by two wings which are connected on the second floor by a bridge. The schedule went something like this:

The morning round tables
The Afternoon screenings.
A tour of the campus.
Back to the Hotel.

Breakfast was really good. Various versions of scrambled eggs and cheese omelttes, and really good coffee and fruit. Then we had to sign in. I'm sorry. The sign-in was lame. Usually when you sign in for one of these things, you just sign your name on a register, grab some press materials and go on. That's lame too, but in the usual beaurocratic way. Nobody minds that.

This time, we had to go through a pseudo-DMV type thing, where we had to recognise some of the characters and do a quiz, followed by a demo of the video game (that part would have been fine, but I suck at that sort of thing). This was too cute by half. If there were little children there, that would be one thing, but you had a few dozen adults going through this none-too-pleased. Then we had some more food and wandered around the vast area that was the first floor for a bit before lining up and heading past the "unauthorized personell forbidden" signs and up the stairs for three round tables with a couple of the storyboarders and some technitions, who told us about how much work it is to do lighting in an all CGI film and how to make color packets for the techies doing the rendering. That was fine, then we went downstairs again where a couple of people showed us how wonderful all the extras were.

Now extras are important to a DVD. Nobody likes "vanilla," and no one did vanilla more annoyingly than Disney did back in the day [The original Roger Rabbit had a list of them where actually weren't on the disc]. Pixar knows this and they're justly proud of what they did on some of their earlier efforts. They gave us a brief tour of what's on there, and the whole presentation was mostly boring. Menus are like that. However, I want a plasma TV more than ever. God that was beautiful.

Then came lunch, and this was where the problems started. No. The food was terriffic, the buffet was to perfection and I enjoyed every morsel. The problem was stonewalling. I sat down and there he was. John Lassiter, sitting catty corner from me. He was very plesant, and I decided, since I was there, to find out what exactly was going on with the studio. Bang! He and his main flunkey are very good at stonewalling. They had just come out with a new short, called Lifted, and they had a few signs for it on the wall. I asked about it and they seemed very exited, although they wouldn't say anything specific. I asked about Ratatouille, which is the next project and the project after that, "W.A.L.-E". Stonewall. I persisted. "Do you see any posters for Meet the Robinsons do you?" he snarled at me. I was there to do journalism, right? But what was I supposed to do? I couldn't do what I wanted, after all it was on their dime and in their house.

This was a squandered opportunity on Pixar's part. If you're going to spend THOUSANDS of dollars to bring people THOUSANDS of miles, it would be really cool to dazzel them. Show them a tease here and there. Some character designs for Ratatouille, or Lifted, for example.
We've got something special for YOU! Not special like a tee shirt (which I'm wearing, by the way), something that you can tell your readers in confidence.

the afternoon sessions were rather boring. they showed us the specially made cartoon for the DVD, Mater and the Ghost Light, and that wasn't particularly good. The character of Mater in the feature was silly and colorful, but he was actually one of the more intellegent characters. Here he's just a moronic child. The punchline was cute but the build up wasn't.

But you can't say "This sucks" on their turf. The questions were for the most part polite and perfunctery. Lassiter made his official appearence and talked about how how he was inspired by a road trip he took with his family after Toy Story 2 was finished. Very sweet. Of course the original concept had nothing to do with the finished film except for the fact that all of the characters were automotive. I was still a bit ticked off.

Then we took the tour. We actually saw quite a bit of the preliminary art from Cars, and some from Finding Nemo. But we didn't see anyone working. That was all hidden. We did go outside and see the vollyball court.

We went back to the hotel and drank more free wine before having dinner on Disney's dime. It helped me sleep in the flight back.

Monday, October 30, 2006

San Francisco--pregame

It's ten of ten, eastern standard time, and ten of seven pacific time. I'm in an ex0pens8ven hotel which strangely doesn't have a television, waiting for the time we have to get together with group for the trip. I slept ten hours (including a couple pretending to sleep around two local time). I would have done this earlier, but I wasn't able to figure out specifically how to log on to the hotel's wai fi. (I sort of did, but it cut out.)

First I want to talk about United Air lines. I 've flown a couple of times this year, but not on them and they've had some bizarre and disturbing innovations. Like , charging for food and having free movies, and not the other way around as it traditoinal, and charging fifty bucks for extra seating and then, as in the case of the guy sitting next to me, not giving them it.

The big problem getting here was not the flight, or the fact that I was stuck in the middle for both legs of it (we had a stop in Denver), but getting to LaGuardia airport. The best shortcut is to take the R or W trains to Astoria blvd, and then get on the M60, something I've done lots of time, but this time the W was completely cancelled and the R was stuck underneith the East River. Only they didin't tell us this and the R I was on stopped at 57th street and we were told that that was the last stop. The only way to get to Queens was to head back to 34th street and get the F. Shit!!!

I was running late, so I figured I'd go to 42nd and take the shuttle to Grand Central and then take the bus to the airport, The Shuttle wasn't working for some reason and when I ran to GC, I discovered I had missed the bus by scant minutes, and the next one wouldn't have arrived until ten minutes before talkoff. So I had to blow $20 on a taxi...24, I forgot the fact that he charged me for the tolll under the river.

Getting from the airport to the hotel cost almost as much, but that was really easy as I had planned to do that from the getgo. The hotel is very nice, having a free wine-tasting (where I blew my alchohol quota for the month) and had a very good time discussing politics with a lobbyist. The polls look very good. The National Review website has the Democrats getting a 24 seat majority in the house and a tie in the senate. That should be cool, and we should probably do somewhat better. There only being eight days to go...more when we get to PIXAR.

Friday, October 27, 2006

ten days out.

Some Senate polls.

Chafee: 33%
Whitehouse: 43%

DeWine: 43%
Brown: 54%

Menendez: 40%
Kean: 39%


Nelson 64%
Harris (R) 29%

Tester: 48%
Burns: 42%

Ford: 47%
Corker: 45%

Cardin: 52%
Steele: 40%

Allen: 49%
Webb: 48%

Talent: 50%
McCaskill: 48%

Casey: 51%
Santorum: 39%

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I"m going to San Francisco over the weekend

This is going to be one hell of a daytrip. If I had to pay for it myself I wouldn't go, but they're going to pay for it, so what the hell? I'm going to blog the whole trip from Sunday morning to Tuesday morning.

This is gonna be cool.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

non-news from the Daily Mail

This is a British paper:

It was the day that a host of BBC executives and star presenters admitted what critics have been telling them for years: the BBC is dominated by trendy, Left-leaning liberals who are biased against Christianity and in favour of multiculturalism.

A leaked account of an 'impartiality summit' called by BBC chairman Michael Grade, is certain to lead to a new row about the BBC and its reporting on key issues, especially concerning Muslims and the war on terror.

It reveals that executives would let the Bible be thrown into a dustbin on a TV comedy show, but not the Koran, and that they would broadcast an interview with Osama Bin Laden if given the opportunity. Further, it discloses that the BBC's 'diversity tsar', wants Muslim women newsreaders to be allowed to wear veils when on air.

At the secret meeting in London last month, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is dominated by homosexuals and people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians.

One veteran BBC executive said: 'There was widespread acknowledgement that we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness.

Fun fun fun. Still, I'm voting democrat.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Something to think about after the election

Here’s a nifty piece of trivia: There was a 1974 Democratic National convention.

It took place in Kansas City in December of that year and didn’t nominate anyone for anything. What it did do was adopt a charter for the party, which codified the McGovern reforems of 1971, and helped get the party ready for the ’76 elections slightly less than two years hence There was another one in 1978, and during the ‘80s the party bigwigs decided that the practice wasn’t worth the effort.

Well, I think a third midterm convention early next year might indeed be worth the effort.

I was at the 2004 convention and while there were a number of planning and issue conferences when the “con” wasn’t officially in session, the thing was obviously only a show for television with balloons and motivational speeches from famous politicians and a few people drafting a “platform” which went from the printer to the garbage can faster than you can say “Spungebob Squarepants.”

We have a chance to take back Congress three weeks hence, but what then? Yeah, there’s lots of stuff we can agree on, but we need an articulate program which everyone can rally around by the time primary season starts in January of 2008.

What we need is a 2007 Democratic National Convention. The delegates should be selected in the pre-1972 way. Local and state committees choosing party activists who want to network and plan. This is because we’re not going to select a president, but write a platform that actually MEANS SOMETHING. Find the issues that everyone in the party can actually agree on and work for. “Bush is a prick” is fine as far as it goes, but that’s a negative. It won’t cut the mustard because he’s going to be gone in 2009 whatever happens. If the current polls are close to being accurate, then we’re going to have to have the appearance of trying to do something in the new year, and an outline legislative program for the summer and fall of ’07 would be just what is needed.

The best place to do that would be at a midterm convention sometime in the early spring and a commitment from the new congressional leadership to try to pass some, if not most of these proposals during the summer and fall. This is because by the spring of 2008 the presidential election will be in full swing and everybody’s attention will be on that.

Whatever you think of him Newt Gingrich managed to get his “contract on with America” through the House with efficiency and speed. We should be able to do something like that, if only to have ads saying “We tried to pass A, B C and D, but the evil Bush administration vetoed it.”

If we (God Forbid) LOSE the midterms, a convention would be even more important, and would be a good place to figure out how best to start from scratch for the rest of the century.

So how about it?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Revolution has been postponed

The grand revolutionary demonstration which was supposed to "drive out the Bush regime" had only about 500 people in Washington, DC and about five thousand nationwide. Brilliant!

Friday, October 06, 2006

NYFF day three: Reds

This is one of the big ones, and the last major film to ever have a built in intermission:


Written and Directed
By Warren Beatty

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” George Santayana famously said, and this maxim is no more apparent than in this golden oldie from 1981.

90 years ago, there was a presidential election going on, and there was a war. Snooty art exhibits and effete intellectuals looking down their noses at the unwashed masses and claiming to act in their name, too.

People wore strange clothing and the music was early ragtime instead of rock and hip hop, but other than that, the people are all very familiar. What’s strange about this film is that were it not for the strange music and costume, most of the dialogue could have come from the 2000s.

John Reed (Warren Beatty) was a journalist and intellectual who was slightly famous for his book on the Mexican revolution. Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) was an early feminist who was outgrowing her husband and professionally latched on to Reed, following her to Greenwich Villiage and hanging out with the likes of playwright Eugene O’Neill (Jack Nicholson) and über-anarchist Emma Goldman(Maureen Stapleton)

The chattering classes then are the chattering classes now. The technology was more primitive but the people are the same. Disillusioned with the war and the status quo, they became radicalized and headed to Russia to watch the Revolution there. They had a real blast.

John Reed as Sean Penn. The silly infighting between far left factions still goes on, and the president still thinks he’s God.
To understand today, you have to understand the past.

The film is long, very long. In fact, it was the last major release to actually have a built-in intermission. The action in the film has the structure of a series of flashbacks in between genuine interviews with the last survivors of that time. The “witnesses” are really interesting and their reminisces, pertinent.

The acting is terrific and we’ve got a bunch of old masters back when they were still rather young doing what they do best.

The film’s coming out on DVD after a very limited theatrical re-release. Catch it if you’ve got the time and wait a couple of weeks and rent it if you don’t.