August 29, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Talking Points Memo picks up on a nasty little bit of self-absorption by Karl Rove and the Republicans: Even when the weather threatens to destroy the lives of Gulf Coast residents, it’s somehow about them.
“The Republicans can’t seem to get a break when it comes to August and when it comes to the weather,” said Rove, a FOX News analyst. “I know this is being thought a lot about in Washington and at the White House and discussed and I suspect they will monitor it carefully and figure out what to do.”
That ill wind of change of Hurricane Katrina, Tropical Storm Gustav and Hurricane Barack always blows from the left…
June 10, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Extraordinary– Nigerian email spams had previously been focused on stories of, say, relatives of dead heads of state, or anonymous millionaires dying of incurable diseases… now, however, we’re getting appeals on behalf of the son of Anna Nicole Smith, who apparently did not actually die but is in fact instead doing well in Nigeria but looking to move big sums of money discreetly into the US. How dumb do they think people are? (Then again, it only takes one.)
FROM SON OF ANNA NICOLE SMITH, DEAR SIR/MADAM, Iam son of mrs ANNA NICOLE SMITH who was born vickilynm hogan on november 1967 in houston texas.According to her who got married toMR J.HOWARD MARSHALL an oil tycoon who later die on 1986,she later travel to london and got married and have no other child except me.In the year 1992 my mumm husband die in a car accident.After some months both of us travel acountry called NIGERIA to start business ,though she was performing very good there.Mrs anna nicole called me one night by bringing all her document out for me and told me that there was 12.5 million us dollars in her account before she death took her life on 22nd july 2006. Sir/madam if you will assist me to transfer this money to your account so that i will travel to your country and invest it.You will still have your share but with hope it shall work out very well.tremendously i hope you will be a trusted worthy.You can email me through firstname.lastname@example.org />Best Regard, from email@example.com
April 17, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Half-forgotten blog/Insomniac ramblings/of a movie buff…
Denver hotel Hell/on a snowy April night/watching “Half Past Dead“.
Poor Steven Seagal/starring in low-budget crap/that he writes himself.
Wikipedia/Hear the wisdom of the crowd/or one publicist.
“Nature has its brutal side”, says Seagal, “and it’s not always pretty. In many ways, Cannibal Holocaust could be seen as a companion piece to my movie On Deadly Ground: a realistic, honest look on nature, on wilderness, only this remake will be a different part for me. It will be more violent, more brutal, Ruggero promised me that the animals’ deaths would be real, and I am excited”.
He has worked with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to discourage the fur trade, and has written to the Prime Minister of India to seek increased legal protection for cows. Seagal worked effectively towards saving dogs destined to drown in Taiwan; he successfully sought the Premier of Taiwan to sign legislation limiting animal cruelty.
Seagal was awarded a PETA Humanitarian Award in 1999.
Mystical dog incident
While being interviewed by PETA, Seagal was asked to provide an example of a special interaction with an animal, to lend context and meaning to his animal rights work. Seagal offered the story about a dog which approached him during his early aikido years in Japan. Seagal described feeling as if he had known this white dog forever. After keeping the dog for a few days, the dog (by barking) warned Seagal that his dojo was on fire. Seagal quickly summoned help to put out the fire. He never saw the dog again.
Impossibly apt:/”Never saw the dog again”/That’s the oath I’ll take.
Just saw a so-so little movie on Encore called Cyber Wars. Cyberpunk wannabe, well-intentioned, hard-working, but just under-resourced, under-fed, under-developed. A world blending and overlaying virtual reality on reality-reality… corporations and massively powerful and capricious individuals running everything like a game, a cop and a bounty hunter of sorts working together to figure out what’s really behind everything, and a world that was clearly meant to be richly imagined and mood-setting in the way that Blade Runner was. But… it takes more than good intentions and a modicum of vision to build something as lush as Blade Runner, and no one involved in this has quite the talent to pull it off. (Also, it apparently came out of Singapore, which is ironic, given that little dream-city-island’s own semi-fictional status.)
Not horrible, really, just… flaccid, especially post-Matrix, post-Ghost in the Shell, post-Blade Runner. Completely worth missing.
Other working titles: Avatar Exile (Singapore: English title) ; Cyber Wars (USA) ; (DVD title) Matrix Hunter (USA) (video title)
Sometimes something turns up on DVD that completely passed you by when it was in the theatres, but when you finally catch up with it you understand why you never heard about it. This is one of those times.
There’s a terribly wrong sickness inside this weird little inside-a-serial-killer’s-head movie. The chief symptom of the disorder is, unfortunately, the presence of the weirdly intolerable Demi Moore, whose presence in the whole thing makes you think it was a joint vanity project between Moore and movie-disaster maker Kevin Costner, that sucked in a number of other faces you’d know, none of whom deserved to be seen on a big screen in something this unflattering and muddled. But this time out, it’s not clear that the blame for a cinematic mess should be laid at Costner’s feet.
On screen, at least, he does a creditable job as the eponymous murder-addicted cardboard box maker and businessman of the year. He struggles with his conscience, attending AA meetings and swearing off his personal vice; but he also grapples with William Hurt, who embodies the alter ego that whispers inside (and outside) his head, exhorts and coaches him on to one killing after another. (Don’t dissect the psychology of this too deeply– it’s kind of “A Beautiful Mind” meets “Silence of the Lambs”, with Hurt as Costner’s own personal Hannibal. Makes no sense, but can be entertaining to watch.)
There’s eye-candy aplenty, if you like interior design– successful boxmakers to the world apparently have limitless profits to blow on uber-chic home and office space, not to mention putting a shamefully-spoiled little girl through Stanford (or, at least, an unnamed university on University Avenue in Palo Alto). The main plot has more than enough double-helix twists to satisfy: a voyeur who witnesses one of Brooks’ killings makes a blackmail demand you won’t see coming, and daughter dearest proves to have more than just an Electra complex binding her with her doting daddy. And Costner and Hurt’s tug-of-war is diverting enough, if you like serial-killer movies, which I really rather do. It’s especially fun that Costner sometimes doesn’t seem to need but so much arm-twisting to be convinced to kill… certain people.
But alas, this is only about 2/3 of the movie. The other third follows Demi Moore, as a hard-ass lone-wolf serial killer-hunting profiler, with her own father issues, $60M in the bank, a messy divorce from her soon-to-be-ex toyboy in progress, and a previous serial-killer conquest fresh out of jail and hot on her tail.
The improbable ways in which the cop subplots intersect with the main plot undermine the shaky but entertaining concept. Plot threads should twist, (k)not furl or tangle; someone should have reminded the writers and producers that less is mo(o)re.
But the bigger problem is the fact that Demi Moore and her character are here at all. Of course, in such a movie there has to be a cop, but why this cop? Why this character, and why, for God’s sake, cast Demi Moore? Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt would surely have been too expensive, but couldn’t they have just borrowed Lance Henriksen for a couple of days? (Or even that chick from Profiler?) Demi is hideously miscast and miswritten so out of place in every way that you’re left thinking she, or someone close to her, must have had enough money in the project to insist on a rewrite to create a lead role for her.
There was almost a satisfying, if silly, little movie here. If you see this go by on cable, go ahead and peek at it, if you like this sort of thing. But expect something like the Hudson Hawk of serial killer movies– the more it all comes together, the more it all comes apart.
(Which reminds me– Hudson Hawk would be a perfect film to review here… as would The President’s Analyst, another twisted favorite of mine.)
Cheese on Demand: in response to the “Wide Stance” meme triggered by the Larry Craig incident, someone has created a Larry Craig Doll – an actual talking action figure of the closeted (or stalled?) Senator, wearing an “I AM NOT GAY” t-shirt. Too absurd for words.
(Proof that this blog can do more than pan cans of crap…)
Just when you think everything’s gone over to monoculture (aka “American Processed Cheese Food Product”)… you run across a little gem like Bragging Rights: Stickball Stories. The distinctively New York stickball subculture (with offshoots in Cocoa Beach, FL, Puerto Rico, San Diego and some other places) is the subject of Sonia Gonzales’ documentary, that shows a profound affection for and intimate knowledge of the game, the peoples who played it from Depression-era New York (when it served as a bridge among Italians, Puerto Ricans and African-Americans) through today, when new and old generations try to keep the game alive and spread it. Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem (especially Spanish Harlem) stickball teams and players past and present all figure in the story. (And New York being New York, even September 11 figures in the story of stickball– though in a way that is neither gratuitous nor maudlin.)
It’s easy to look at America through the eyes of its mass media and think all the regional difference is dead. And surely there’s less of it than there was. Even with all the homogenization and pasteurization of the US, somehow culture holds on. In this case, Chica Luna (via PBS) has given us a taste of it.
Cheese of the day: queso de hoja– a Latino cheese that does not melt. (And to honor the New Yorkers of other backgrounds who contributed to the sport, what could be more American, or more authentically New York, than the mozzerella found on the classic slice of New York pizza?)
October 25, 2007 | Leave a Comment
A shocking never-before-seen video of Anna Nicole Smith surfaced Tuesday night on Fox News.
The footage shows an eight month pregnant Smith acting incoherent while she played with the young child of her friend Ford Shelly. In the video, the nine-year-old girl becomes frightened of Smith. Smith believes the doll she is playing with is a real baby and that the baby she is carrying is “just gas.”
The young girl tells her father that she saw Howard K. Stern giving Anna “something from a white bottle with red stripes.”
Stern told Larry King last week that the small portion of the video previously seen was stolen and that the video was edited to make her look like she was on drugs.
So… the likeness of Anna Nicole is sliced and diced and recycled and reanimated and revandalized and revulgarized… I suppose this is the Nirvana that awaits all icons in our postmodern age– from Che Guevara to Jackie Onassis to Marilyn Monroe to Princess Diana and even Britney Spears.
October 9, 2007 | Leave a Comment
Apparently Britney Spears has become obsessed with Princess Diana. After building a shrine to the People’s Princess (whose death in a Paris tunnel ten years ago is now the cause of a solemn, strangely belated inquest), Britney Spears now thinks she shares Diana’s destiny.
The hysterical shrilling about a Britney Suicide Watch actually does seem warranted– she is manifestly unstable. But this story does not even ascend to the level of the sad, stupid, strange resonance between Marilyn Monroe and Anna Nicole Smith. “The second time as farce” only applies when something happens the second time, and while Britney may achieve her own status as pop culture mythic icon, it won’t be as a new Princess Di.
Britney Spears, Giving Birth to Sean Preston
(Sculptor: Daniel Edwards)
MSNBC news-celeb Keith Olbermann (or his caption writers) cleverly dubbed Spears the “People’s Pop-Tart“. Personally, I’ll opt for “Diana’s Ditzy Doppelgænger.” Britney herself might have come up with it– if she could spell Doppelgænger. Or if she could spell “ditzy.”
To take this to a higher intellectual level: why are people so determined to work themselves into analogies with history? I suppose such narratives allow people to make sense of their lives, but you might as well accept George W. Bush’s belief that he is somehow the second coming of Winston Churchill, that World War IV, currently playing out in Iraq, is in fact World War II 2.0, and that today’s descendants of the Greatest Generation are in fact something more than the Fattest Generation.
Britney, like George W., looks forward to being gazed upon by the face of history, but is too dumb and deluded to realize that she’s just looking in a funhouse mirror.
September 9, 2007 | Leave a Comment
From a style standpoint these two looked pretty good, if you want eye candy. Cross the Matrix with the Hellraiser movies, and you’ve got most of it.
But Underworld and Underworld: Evolution both suffer terribly from a lack of irony in the blood. The movies take themselves excruciatingly seriously– from the opening monologue of the first movie you know the whole thing is going to be painful to watch.
How can movies this ludicrous and over-the-top give you no opportunity to crack a smile? Really, much better in this vein was the Blade movie series, or at least the first two.