Huh. Who ever would have thought that would happen?
Actually, I remember Barry making it through two campaigns where people said his plan was foolish and would show weakness. Now we have confirmation that our enemies think it shows weakness. It’s almost as though a coalition of the credulous and out-of-touch idealists have elected an irresponsible president whose ideas reflect the credulousness and out-of-touch idealism of his voters.
Almost. Cynicism is reserved for domestic politics; only foreigners get the credulous and out-of-touch idealistic treatment.
Can anyone explain this to me: once we’ve approved a bona fide tax cheat as Treasury Secretary, why would anyone care a probably innocent oversight by a nominee to be Health and Human Services Secretary?
Burt Prelutsky rips into this year’s batch of Oscar bait, and he makes Apollo look like Little Bo Peep. I haven’t seen all the movies, but I agree with him on The Reader. Kate Winslet rocks. Otherwise:
I thought that Sean Penn, who generally strikes me as hammier than pigs feet, was absolutely believable as Harvey Milk, the homosexual activist who was the first openly gay American elected to public office. But the movie, itself, plays like a, well, fairy tale. Every gay character is decent, witty, warm, wise, charming and courageous. In a year or two, I fully expect that “Milk! The Musical!” will open on Broadway, with Nathan Lane in the lead.
“Changeling,” directed by Clint Eastwood, stars Angelina Jolie in one of those dowdy roles that glamour girls take on in the hope of snatching up an Oscar. Eastwood seems to feel that if he leaves “The” off his titles, as in “Unforgiven” and the 141-minute “Changeling,” he’s made enough of a concession to the Philistines. Speaking on behalf of Philistines everywhere, I say it would be better if he edited his movies instead of his titles.
That brings us to “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” If you think the title is a mouthful, you ain’t seen nothing. The movie is 159 minutes long. That’s just 41 minutes less than “Casablanca” and “The Maltese Falcon” put together! “Button” certainly has its nice moments, but at that length, how could it not? Briefly, it is the life story of a man who, for no discernible reason, is born old and becomes younger as the years go by. On the other hand, if you happen to be young when you sit down to watch it, you’ll be eligible for Social Security by the time it’s over.
Prelutsky complains about the movies as long as fourth grade. It recalls Ambrose Bierce’s definition of a novel: a short story padded.
As regards the lousy movies this year, a quote from William Goldman: “Every Oscar night you look back and realize that last year was the worst year in the history of Hollywood.”
Hubbard posted this at 4:14 PM CDT on Friday, January 30th, 2009 as Film Rants
Obama is channeling Jimmy Carter. Dr. Krauthammer puts things into perspective:
In these seven years since Sept. 11 — seven years during which thousands of Muslims rioted all over the world (resulting in the death of more than 100) to avenge a bunch of cartoons — there’s not been a single anti-Muslim riot in the United States to avenge the massacre of 3,000 innocents. On the contrary. In its aftermath, we elected our first Muslim member of Congress and our first president of Muslim parentage.
“My job,” says Obama, “is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives.” That’s his job? Do the American people think otherwise? Does he think he is bravely breaking new ground? George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and countless other leaders offered myriad expressions of that same universalist sentiment.
Every president has the right to portray himself as ushering in a new era of this or that. Obama wants to pursue new ties with Muslim nations, drawing on his own identity and associations. Good. But when his self-inflation as redeemer of U.S.-Muslim relations leads him to suggest that pre-Obama America was disrespectful or insensitive or uncaring of Muslims, he is engaging not just in fiction but in gratuitous disparagement of the country he is now privileged to lead.
Iran has already responded to the Obama overture. In perfect tune with Obama’s defensiveness, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that better relations might be possible — after America apologized for 60 years of crimes against Iran. Note the 60 years. The mullahs are as mystified by Obama’s pre-1979 (or 1989) good old days as I am.
I was skeptical that Obama would exorcise McGovernism from the Democrats. It looks like we’re back in 1977, only with no Reagan on the horizon.
I didn’t realize how terribly Frost/Nixon had done at the box office. Less than $15 million! Jeez, if you added up the value of all the Frost/Nixon advertisements I have personally seen, it would come close to $15 million. Somebody lost their shirt on this one; probably their shorts, too. You could have made more money renting out theaters as places for weary travelers to sleep.*
When your advertisements tell people that you’ve made a movie about the fact that some people in Hollywood don’t like Richard Nixon, one should expect this type of response. All of the old Nixon haters are dead or too old to go to theaters; all of the young hippies are curious why the movie isn’t called Frost/Bush.
Though that might not have done too well either. Despite a ridiculous media blitz during the most politicized year in living memory, W. was the 104th best grossing moving of 2008. I originally thought boxofficemojo had screwed up and not listed it, until I saw that their first page only listed the top 100. Of course, it was a big hit compared to Frost/Nixon.
*And, somehow, Frost/Nixon is only the fourth worst grosser of the Best Picture nominees; The Reader makes Frost/Nixon look like, um, well, a movie that people saw. A few weeks ago, I actually got a phone call from Sid Ganis advising me that a 30-second clip of my cat I took using my digital camera – GracieCoughsHairball3.avi – had been nominated for Best Picture, but I declined and suggested they nominate something that had reached a larger audience. Hence, The Reader. That’s a true story.
The Einsatzgruppen were horrifically evil in their own right, but the later concentration camps have tended to overshadow them. A French priest, Father Patrick Desbois, is doing what he can to make sure that the memory of this enormity is preserved. His reason for doing this is worth pondering:
But this project that has become his life’s work, he says, is inspired by two sources far greater than either history or circumstance. One is “min hashamayim,” Father Desbois says in Hebrew — from heaven, which inspires us to build relationships with our fellow human beings. The other inspiration, he explains, comes from the earthly world, and what is written in Genesis about the blood of Abel, murdered by Cain: “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”
As the unmarked mass graves are slowly located, one by one, and sanctified with the recitation of the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning for the dead, the cries can at last be silenced. Are we our brothers’ keepers? To Father Desbois, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”
Even so, I ask him: How can you bear to listen to a woman talk about when she was 14 years old and was forced to walk on corpses, between shootings, in order to pack them down in a mass grave? “I keep my faith in God,” Father Desbois responds, “not in humanity.”
My alma mater once lost a football game by a score of 70-6 (I can’t recall the exact score, but I’ve got the basic proportion right). In some sports, not scoring at all is understandable; soccer is notorious for this. In the case of this notorious football game, getting clobbered on such a level is acceptable. We had been playing a rival that was our equal. But in some cases, running up the score is a touch dishonorable.
Case in point: the Covenant School vs. the Dallas Academy. The Covenant School is a small Catholic high school for ordinary students; the Dallas Academy is a school for learning disabled students. This hardly seems a fair match up. When the Covenant beat Dallas 100-0, a clearly embarassed Covenant fired their coach. Sandefur calls it perverse; I’m afraid I can’t see why he thinks that. It’s one thing, as my alma mater did, to lose badly to an equal. It’s something else when normal people wallop the disabled.
I’m sure that the Covenant coach is right that his girls have worked hard. But would it have been so hard for them to let disabled kids score a few baskets?
We just had a campaign cycle where the word “change” was used more often than “the.” There were seriously low approval numbers for the president and both parties in Congress. Record “wrong-track” answers in polls. It seemed like people wanted something different.
I wonder, back in November, if you told people that appointing a bona fide tax cheat to head the Treasury Department was the sort of “change” Obama intended, what sort of reaction you would have gotten.
Honestly, a tax cheat. As Treasury Secretary. You can’t parody that sort of CHANGE!.
I think this is part of the the new standards. If deliberately not paying your taxes doesn’t disqualify you from being Treasury Secretary – not even a minor department, but the Treasury – I dare say that there’s no floor for being in the cabinet. I suggest Barry buy a horse and appoint it Commerce Secretary just to make this point.
A year ago, I blogged about the noble efforts of a team of crack dolphin warriors off the coast of Scotland who were fight an asymmetrical battle against harbor porpoises. During this time, humanity has also been under constant, growing threat from the Beastly Monarchy, especially the devious celaphopods (I am not alone in my fear of these foul, green-blooded fiends).
Julian Finn, Tom Tregenza and Mark Norman (the trio who first described the amazing mimic octopus) have discovered a single female bottlenose, who has developed a way of hunting cuttlefish. Not only does she successfully capture them, but she has learned how to prepare them for the perfect meal, with all the skill of a master chef…
Its technique was always the same. First, she flushed the cuttlefish out from its hiding place among the dense brown algae. Once it was exposed among open sand, she dived downwards and pinned it to the floor with her beak. With a powerful beat of her tail and a twist of her body, she jabbed downwards with a sharp thrust that killed the cuttlefish instantly. The thrust breaks the cuttlebone, a hard structure inside the cuttlefish’s body; it snaps so violently that nearby divers can clearly hear the click.
Having killed her prey, the dolphin still had to prepare it. Cuttlefish ink mostly consists of a pigment called melanin that can block digestion in the stomach and the ability to detect certain chemicals. So getting rid of the ink would make the meal both tastier and easier to digest, and the dolphin did that by lifting the dead cuttlefish and repeatedly beating it with her snout. Every pummel sent clouds of ink shooting from the carcass.
When that stopped, the dolphin allowed the cuttlefish back to the sand, where she raked its back along the ocean floor. That flayed the skin off its back and released the broken cuttlebone. The dolphin effectively deboned her prey and as the cuttlebone floated away, she finally settled down to eat her well-won catch.
I implore President Obama to make good on his promises of a new kind of diplomacy and to begin negotiations for an alliance with our bottle-nosed buddies immediately. With the polar bears already joined with us, we will prevail.
Michael Novak is right: this column by E.J. Dionne now looks pretty foolish. Granted, it took Obama until his fourth day in office to reverse the Mexico City policy, whereas Bill Clinton did it on his first, but for someone who talked during the campaign like he wanted to put the culture wars behind us, our new president sure used his first few days in office in a funny way. Almost as though he’s some sort of doctrinaire liberal on every issue and will govern as one.
Of course, some of us never fell for Obama’s smooth talk, and thought of those who did as suckers. The funny word of the day: Kmiec. Congrats, Doug, your pro-life candidate is now using your tax dollars to fund abortions in foreign countries.