Sunday, March 30, 2008

Five Film Reviews in Brief: The Good German, The Lives of Others, The Good Shepherd, Black Book and Joyeux Noël

  • The Good German with Tobey Maquire, Kate Blanchett and George Clooney. A decent film, well worth your time if only to watch Kate Blanchett, who seems like a goddess among men in this WW2 drama. Poor George Clooney acts like he's George Clooney trying to act in big time movie, it doesn't really fly. See him in Michael Clayton, he's perfect for that role. Tobey Maquire plays quite the little bastard, he does it surprisely well.
  • The Lives of Others with a bunch of fine German actors you probably never heard of. There's a reason why this film was somewhat widely distributed in the Anglo-sphere, it's an excellent, excellent film, a must see. The late Ulrich Mühe plays an East German STASI agent monitoring the lives of others, a playwright played by Sebastian Koch and his actress girlfriend played by Martina Gedeck. Set in the GDR before the fall, everyone is watched and a harmless joke could cost you your career. Big brother is listening, but why? Watch Ulrich Mühe's performance carefully, it's a study in less is so much more.
  • The Good Shepherd with Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Robert Deniro in Robert Deniro's study of the CIA as experienced by a promising young Yale man, Damon. Well worth your time. I can't believe I used to think of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as the same sort of actors, Damon proves himself about 87.5 notches above Afflecks finest work in this role. Coincidentally, Martina Gedeck has a minor part in this film, look for her.
  • Black Book or Zwartboek by Paul Verhoeven, I know, but try to forget everything you know about Show Girls and Starship Troopers, this is his best film, that I have ever seen, by far. It depicts the struggles of a young Jewish girl, played very well by Carice van Houten in Nazi occupied Holland. Sebastian Koch from the Lives of Others plays her Nazi boyfriend. An engaging and complicated plot, well executed. By all means see it.
  • Joyeux Noël, I wanted to like this movie I really did, but I didn't. It's about an implausible, impromptu truce between German, French and Scottish troops on the Western Front during WW1. You would think that the fact the story is based on actual events would make the story more believable, but it didn't. That's not the real problem, the film maker took pains to show how insane it is to shoot a man after you shared a meal, a smoke and a soccer match with him. Give your audience some credit, the Christmas eve soldier's truce of 1914 and it's subsequent rescission and repercussions are perhaps the greatest and most easily demonstrable condemnation of senseless war in the last 200 years. A less maudlin approach would have served the subject matter better.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Pixies' Gouge Away In Haiku Form

You can cut his hair
and gouge out his eyes, but he
can still kill you all.
by Earl

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Part Of Me Really Likes This

WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton adviser James Carville is refusing to apologize for comparing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to Judas.
Carville made the comparison to The New York Times after Richardson, once a member of former President Bill Clinton's Cabinet, endorsed Clinton rival Barack
Obama last week for the Democratic presidential nomination. Carville called it
an "act of betrayal," and pointed out that it came around Holy Week.
"Mr. Richardson's endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out (Jesus) for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate,
if ironic," he said.

OK, I admit it. I completely dig it that foaming at the mouth asshats like Carville are going to go at their liberal brethren with hammer and tongs.

Clinton Misspoke

WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign said she "misspoke" last week
when she said she had landed under sniper fire during a trip she took as first lady to Bosnia in March 1996. The Obama campaign suggested it was a deliberate exaggeration on Clinton's part.
So when a Democrat lies it's misspeaking. When a Republican president goes to war on faulty intelligence, which every intelligence agency in the world believed at the time, it's a lie.
The liberal main stream media is an enemy of our republic.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

As Sure As Day Follows Night

Muslim baptized by pope says life in danger
A Muslim author and critic of Islamic fundamentalism who was baptized a Catholic by Pope Benedict said on Sunday Islam is "physiologically violent" and he is now in great danger because of his conversion.

Who could have possibly foreseen this eventuality?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Obama Speech, Take 2

I disagree with the Dude. It wasn't a great speech. Barack Obama certainly is an above average orator but a great speech would have required Mr. Obama to say great things. He did not.

And as for believing him, what's not to believe? I believe he's not going to disown his minister. I also believe he truly, sincerely wants to change the subject. Does anyone doubt he'd much rather talk about Geraldine Ferraro or his own white grandmother than answer questions about his long association with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright?

For a voter like me, Senator Obama offers one thing: a candidacy that supposedly trancends race. A few days ago in the Wall Street Journal  Shelby Steele asked, "How does one 'transcend' race in this church?" The answer is, you don't.

Mr. Steele continued, "What could he have been thinking? Of course he wasn't thinking. He was driven by insecurity, by a need to 'be black' despite his biracial background. And so fellow-traveling with a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity." Mr. Steele has written a book about Mr. Obama that describes him as a "bargainer". (Read the article or, better yet, Mr. Steele's new book to see what he means.)

Maybe, probably, this whole post-racial thing was a false hope. Maybe, probably, Barack Obama was destined to disappoint us. The race issue couldn't so easily be solved by voting for the first African-American President in history.

I was thinking the other day, "We could use another MLK right about now." Of course, we could have used another MLK just about every day since he was assassinated almost 40 years ago. And it's probably unfair to Senator Obama to compare him to Dr. King but there it is.

Martin Luther King Jr. made great speeches. Senator Obama - not so great.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Obama Speech

Great speech, well delivered, but I just don't believe him.
Barack Obama has listened to and supported Jeremiah Wright for twenty years and it's just now that he disavows some of the hateful things Wright has said? Is this because of some change of heart or is it naked political necessity?
We do need to have a national discussion on race, but it needs to be conducted by sincere people who have the best interests of the entire nation at heart. As it stands, Obama is not one of those people.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Client 9, Eliott Spitzer

Top Ten angles of the Spitzer Sex Scandal:
  1. The hypocrisy. This man made a career of sending criminals to prison.
  2. Stand by Me. There's Mrs. Spitzer hanging on to her to man and the perks therewith like grim death.
  3. Hillary Clinton. Where have we seen the spouse done wrong hold on like grim death for the perks therewith before? 2008 may be the fruition of all that bitter anger.
  4. GOP/DEM divide. Dems are apt to forgive, GOPs want his head. Fill in your own reasons why.
  5. Sex, Seeeeex. Sex sells papers and ad time. If you don't want your screw up on national TV and in the Times and tabloids, do something boring like 403b fraud.
  6. Feminist. Have ax, have grindstone. Yet another powerful horny toad gets it caught in his own zipper, expect the stout ankle crowd to have some unimaginative commentary.
  7. Spitzer was an ass to begin with. This will be a somewhat rare angle. Those of you who have been paying attention don't really need a new reason to strongly dislike Spitzer.
  8. The other woman. It's only a matter of time before the working girl in question becomes a household name, perhaps even a celebrity of sorts.
  9. Legalization of adult consensual, cash based, behavior. One day, not now, not here.
  10. Were There Others? Other working girls, other occasions, other prominent and powerful men?

Chicken, Egg, Chicken, Egg, Etc.......

Are creation and evolution incompatible? I never thought so. They seem to me to be answers to two different questions. Evolution answers pretty convincingly, but far from perfectly, how creatures came to be the way they are. Creation answers pretty convincingly, but far from perfectly, how there could be anything to evolve to begin with.
A creationist and an evolutionist go to a museum. The creationist looks at a painting of the world and says "Wow, what an incredible artist!". An evolutionist looks at the same painting and says "Look here at this brilliant brush work, the amazing design which took tens of thousands of millenia there's no artist, just an inexorable process from which the best survives from the average".
Pretty ham handed I grant you, but dispute these arguments if you can:

Some things are moved.
Everything that is moved is moved by a mover.
An infinite regress of movers is impossible.
Therefore, there is an unmoved mover from whom all motion proceeds.
This mover is what we call God.

Some things are caused.
Everything that is caused is caused by something else.
An infinite regress of causation is impossible.
Therefore, there must be an uncaused cause of all caused things.
This causer is what we call God.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Rush Limbaugh Wins One For Hillary

Whoever said politics make strange bedfellows probably had something like this in mind.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Give Me Shelter: Mick Jagger Targeted For Assassination

Who knew Hells Angels shouldn't be trifled with?

A documentary covering the history of the FBI set to air on Britain's BBC Radio 4 has made public for the first time revelations that legendary rocker Mick Jagger was once the target of a failed assassination attempt.

Update: Related news that is apparently not satire.

Et Tu Allemania

I often think that we are are not the men our parents and grandparents were. Thank God the Germans are fatter and more useless than we are:

Berlin - German soldiers are overweight, smoke too much and do not engage in enough sports, according to a report published Tuesday by the parliamentary commissioner for the defence force. "Male and female soldiers are too fat, partake little in sports and pay too little attention to what they eat," Reinhold Robbe said in his official report to parliament. He called the situation "shocking."
Most of them, 70%, are smokers too. Our military after seeing soldiers huffing to hump gear up the hills in Grenada enacted fairly strict fitness standards. Hell, even in the Air Force we had to run from time to time. Of course this was on a level track, in running shoes, once a year, but still.
None of this really matters because the Germans are unlikely to actually fight any time soon.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I especially liked the binary solo

Flight Of The Conchords - The Humans Are Dead

(link via Technorama)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Gerald McBoing-Boing

Tomorrow my son's school celebrates Dr. Seuss' birthday, which is actually today. I have an appointment to read Gerald McBoing-Boing or reasonable facsimile to his class @ 9:15 a.m.. Wish me luck, five year olds can be a tough crowd.

UPDATE: It went well. I showed up a little early, just as the last parent reader was leaving and sat in front of the crowd of five year old students. El Segundo and La Princesa sat at my feet and spent the entire morning tossing elbows that would make a NHL defensemen proud. I read about the boy Boing-Boing and because that went quicker than expected and the next parent hadn't shown up yet I read Imogene's Antlers as well. It was fun, kindergartners are adorable but there's no way in hell I could do it for a living.

Gloria Steinem Stumps For Clinton

Gloria, glad to see you're still alive and bat-shite crazy as ever::
  • “Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years. [The media would ask], ‘What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?’” Steinem said, to laughter from the audience.
  • But she also opined that “a majority of Americans want redemption for racism, for our terrible destructive racist past and so see a vote for Obama as redemptive.” Then, using a term for the mass killing of women, she added, “I don’t think as many want redemption for the gynocide.”

An American service man tortured in Vietnam is funny, funny stuff. Gynocide? Who knew?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Alien Scare

Roommate Alien Prank Goes Bad - Watch more free videos

Just for you Scooter.

The View From My Window...

I know. I know. Everybody's sick of winter. Still is awfully pretty.

I took this shot this morning. It's snowing again as I'm writing this.

My Chosen Line Of Work

How we got into the sub-prime mortgage mess, demonstrated by stick figures.
Anyone in the industry who acts surprised by this debacle is either stupid, lying or both. As the stick figures show, a major assumption in the underwriting of these loans and the securities that back them, was that real estate prices would continue to rise. I'm no economist but it seems that when you make credit super available and relatively inexpensive, the price of the commodity being purchased will rise based on the excessive demand alone.
Last October the sub-prime house of sand began to collapse as lenders either closed their doors or stopped doing ALT A and sub-prime deals. All of a sudden homes that had three or four buyers bidding against each other only had one. Or none. Who would have though it possible?
Hat Tip Jonah Goldberg