Saturday, September 01, 2007

The History of the Middle East

Part 22 in a series.


The defense of Egypt by President Nasser created a greater sense of urgency in Arab unity. Syria accused the US of plotting to overthrow President Shukri al-Kuwatly, and in response the US accused the USSR of trying to take over Syria. Syria immediately asserted ties with Egypt and Saudia Arabia in a United Arab Republic. Iraq and Jordan, the two Hashemite kingdoms, banded together in an Arab Federation.

In Iraq, several groups in the military opposed King Faisal II; most of them were led by Abd al-Karim Qasim, a veteran of many Iraqi military actions from the mid-thirties up to the Arab-Israeli War and the Suez Canal Crisis. He organized a military coup, and under his orders the entire Iraqi royal family (with the exception of Princess Hiyam) was executed on 14 July 1958. Qasim pulled Iraq out of the Baghdad Pact, dissolved the Arab Federation with Jordan, and proclaimed a Republic with himself as Prime Minister and Defense Minister.

Almost immediately, Qasim established friendly relations with the Soviet Union, abolishing a treaty with Britain and withdrawing from an agreement the monarchy had made with the US regarding military aid. The British army was out of Iraq by 1959.

The Interim Constitution was adopted on 26 July 1958. It proclaimed the equality of all Iraqi citizens under the law and granted them freedom with no regard to race, nationality, language, or religion. Even women were encouraged to participate in society. Political prisoners were freed, and amnesty was given to Kurds who had participated in the uprisings during World War II; the exiled Kurds were allowed to return home. Qasim also lifted a ban on the Iraqi Communist Party. He demanded the annexation of Kuwait to allow Iraq access to the Persian Gulf. He implemented the 1958 Agrarian Reform.

Qasim’s goal was nothing short of improving the position of ordinary people in Iraq and installing self-rule in the name of the people. After long years of rule by the elite few, and widespread social unrest, Qasim tried to turn Iraq in to a real nation. He seized 98% of Iraqi land from the Iraq Petroleum Company, a British business, and distributed farms to the population, increasing the size of the middle class. He oversaw a building project which saw 35,000 residential units to house the poor, including a new suburb: Madinat al-Thawra (“Revolution City”), later Saddam City and now called Sadr City. He supported Algeria and the Palestinians in their struggles against the West, but tried to maintain political balance.

Unfortunately, Qasim also whipped up hostility between Iraq and Iran, declaring in 1959 that the Ottomans had handed over Mohammareh, an Iraqi territory, to Iran. As a consequence, Iraq began to support secessionist movements and pled their territorial claim with the rest of the Arab League. Qasim also declared Kurdistan “one of the two nations of Iraq,” and ignored Mustafa Barzani’s attempts to negotiate with the government for Kurdish independence. Once again, the Kurds began to rebel in favor of autonomy.

There was also quite a bit of debate over whether Iraq should join Nasser’s United Arab Republic, which lost Syria as a member in 1961. Qasim recognized the republic, but refused entry. He hoped to keep Iraq independent; his bigger concern was keeping the Iraqi branch of the Arab Socialist Ba’th Party under control. In 1959, Qasim was nearly assassinated by Ba’thists including Saddam Hussein; as a result, Qasim cracked down on domestic opposition. He wanted attention turned to getting the English out of the Middle East. Soon, rebellions began in Mosul and Kurdistan that may have been assisted by Nasser and the UAR. Political matters grew complicated and Qasim struggled to keep the Iraq Republic under control.

The Ba’th Party

The Arab Socialist Ba’th Party was founded in 1945 to further the cause of secular Arab nationalism. It originated with two Syrian nationalist groups that had formed in opposition to French colonial rule; they united under a banner of pan-Arab nationalism and Marxism. The Ba’th Party merged with the Arab Socialist Party in 1952 and gained an influx of members. This party was headed by Akram al-Hawrani, a popular man known for his campaigns against the feudal landlords of the Hama province. He had also participated in the Palestinian resistance against Zionism. The Ba’th Party now had a wider base as well as a foothold in the officer corps of the Syrian military. Many of his followers were personally loyal to him rather than the Ba’th Party. The Ba’thist influence spread into Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon.

In 1954, Syria’s military regime was overthrown and democracy restored. The Ba’thists gained representation in parliamentary elections; at this time, ideologically-based parties were gaining power by standing up for the intellectual and the worker, but each party fought for control of the others. The biggest concern for the Ba’thists was the Communist Party, which had grown rapidly in Syria. The Ba’thists pushed for a union with Egypt in the United Arab Republic, which went through in 1958. Nasser wouldn’t allow any political parties other than his own, the Arab Socialist Union, and the Syrian Ba’th Party reluctantly became a part of it. This was not a popular decision, and a faction within the Ba’th Party brought about a military coup in 1961.

In February 1963, Ba’thists rose and overthrew the Iraq Republic, executing Abd al-Karim Qasim after a show trial and violently suppressing communist resistance in a house-to-house hunt that killed at least 5000. Qasim’s body was not found until 2004. A second coup occurred in Syria, eliminating the pro-Nasser groups left in the government. The Ba’thists consolidated their power and, by the end of the year, controlled both countries. The Party became increasingly dominated by hard-line leftists who called for socialist planning, collective farms, and democratic control of the means of production. Internal struggle became routine within the party; coup upon counter-coup followed, often with the help of the military.

In 1966, Ba’th radicals took control of the Syrian government, displacing the moderates and purging the party of its founders. The progressives took power in 1970. In all this time, the Ba’th Party became indistinguishable from the Syrian state. As for Iraq, a bloodless coup in 1968 saw General Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr come to power. Still, there were dissidents in the Ba’th Party. They were constantly purged. The governance of both countries remained unsteady throughout the sixties and seventies.

In the meantime, fighting with Israel continued. Both Syria and Iraq fought in the demilitarized zone near the Sea of Galilee until the United Nations negotiated yet another ceasefire.

To be continued.

I LOVE Michelle Marsh and Lucy Pinder At Play

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Decade Without Diana

10 years ago tonight, I finished watching a movie on my VCR, turned off the tape, and was immediately informed that Diana Spencer, the former Princess of Wales, had been killed in a car accident. Conspiracy theories abounded, people moved in to profit off of the tragedy, but I simply watched her funeral a few days later and was surprised by how much I cried. I was shocked by how much feeling I had about Diana's death. Because away from the constant tabloid attention and the way every detail of her personal life was turned into soft news tidbits, I really felt bad to see two boys have their mother pulled away from them. And for me, Diana had stood for something in her life. Nothing to do with the monarchy or their image or their insanities--insanities that have been with Britain for century upon century. Something more real, more immediate, and more humane.

Diana used her image positively. She didn't just shop and look pretty, the way lesser women might in her situation. And she didn't merely fulfill the job of the Princess of Wales--to provide future heirs to the throne. She used her notereity to gain attention for humanitarian causes. And not the way famous people tend to do now, by putting the focus on themselves and how much they care, or by adopting/stealing a child from a less fortunate country because it's the in accessory since people stopped carrying those little dogs. She really used the attention for good.

Remember this? Diana, Princess of Wales, in a flak jacket touring an Angolan minefield. She thought it was important for people to realize that unexploded landmines stay where they are for years and years until an unsuspecting person accidentally steps on one. She was visiting victims on behalf of the Landmine Survivors Network in Bosnia just days before she died. Even when she shrank from the obsessive attention on her personal life, even when she had left the monarchy and all it stood for behind, she still believed that causes were worth the effort. That it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. And the Ottawa Treaty, banning the use of landmines, is a testament to her belief.

But it was Diana's attention to AIDS victims that touched me the most. I don't know why I've always felt so strongly about racism and discrimination against homosexuals and discrimination against AIDS victims, except that I know what it feels like to be an outcast, even among outcasts, and I know what it's like to be bullied. I cannot stomach bullying. And in 1987, there were still a lot of myths about AIDS. In America, Ronald Reagan had always taken the stance with AIDS sufferers that he didn't care if gay people died or not. There were so many fears in the air.

But when Diana sat on the sickbed of a man with AIDS and held his hand in 1987, she helped to explode the myth that AIDS could be transmitted through contact. As Bill Clinton would say in memoriam, "she showed the world that people with AIDS deserve no isolation, but compassion and kindness. It helped change the world's opinion, and gave hope to people with AIDS."

That is, to use a word I hate that is thrown around much too easily, phenomenal.

Diana is a woman who would secretly, unannounced, make visits to sick people. She didn't do this to show the world how much she cared; she just did it because she cared.

Diana, princess or no, was an extraordinary person. And ten years ago, I cried at the loss of her. And as I type this, I'm crying for her again. The world misses Lady Diana. The world needs her compassion. And the world is darker without it. Even as the candle she lit continues to burn inside of it.

NOTE: I didn't have the tracks ready for the Friday Ten, so I'll do that tomorrow. For today, I've put up one track, "This Woman's Work" by Kate Bush. That's my own little tribute to a woman whom I hope history will not misjudge by her media attention.

Throwdown 8/31

15 random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. Tim Burton is making Sweeney Todd a PG-13 movie? Fuck, is there going to be any good news about this project? What is with Hollywood’s need to make everything a PG-13 movie? No one sees them until they hit DVD, anyway, and kids can rent anything. I know, I worked in video, no one cares until a parent complains.

2. Bad news, everyone: I just read that Corey Haim may not be doing the sequel to The Lost Boys. That’s not the bad news. The bad news is that it’s 1989 again and people give a shit about a Lost Boys sequel. And we have to go through boring, shitty grunge rock again.

3. Paramount is saying that the Star Trek reboot isn’t a sacrilege on the fans, because it takes place in an alternate timeline. See, Paramount, this is the kind of dumbass thing that made everyone so fucking sick of Star Trek in the first place.

4. Please, no more High School Musical! Why is Zac Efron’s ugly mug all over every magazine right now? It was the most-watched show ever on basic cable; isn’t that like being the tallest midget in Ohio? Or the smartest retard in special ed? The only good HSM-related news I’ve had is this story that broke today: supposedly, there are nude pictures of Vanessa Hudgens out there that will, according to someone at Disney, “bring the whole…franchise to its knees.” If only, sir. If only. Please, Satan, stop trying to make Zac Efron a star. He’s painful to look at. Oh, and while we’re talking, can we do something about these Jonas Brothers? They’re trying way too hard.

5. Speaking of nudity, there’s actual nudity in Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake. That makes me happy, stupid as that sounds. Maybe one day, it won't just be in horror movies, and we can move away from horrific violence as popcorn entertainment. Can you imagine if audiences were allowed to think that nudity and sex was natural and kind of cool, and violence was sick and wrong? You know, instead of the other way around, like it is now?

6. I have to take back what I said earlier; as you can tell by this recent photo, Gwen Stefani did not get breast implants. I don’t really care if someone does or doesn’t (as long as they don’t lie about it, lying sucks), but someone commented that he thought Gwen’s bigger boobs were from her having been pregnant, and I thought he was wrong (I mean, whose breasts stay big from pregnancy for this damn long?), but now I think he was right. I read something about how Gwen was still breastfeeding, even though it’s awfully late now, and that must’ve been what was doing it. Either way, big breasts or small, I just think Gwen Stefani is beautiful.

7. Not to sound too much like a fanboy, but: holy shit, check out the trailer for the Alien vs. Predator sequel! Gore, action, an R rating—finally, an apology for the incredibly tame and disappointing and boring shittiness of the first movie. This one I’m going to see!

8. Ridley Scott says that the science fiction film is as dead as the Western: “There’s nothing original. We’ve seen it all before. Been there. Done it.” Interesting words coming from someone who has contributed nothing but some slick imagery to the genre. Actually, science fiction films have just scratched the surface of what literary science fiction has covered in the last hundred years. It’s just that no filmmaker has been particularly imaginative about it. Seriously, read Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot and see Alex Proyas’s offensively bad movie version. Then read John Shirley’s A Splendid Chaos and see Alex Proyas’s rip-off film Dark City. That alone should illustrate how creatively bankrupt Hollywood is in comparison to science fiction literature. Thanks for convincing generations of illiterate Americans that SF lit is dumb, Hollywood.

9. Hey, remember American Idol finalist Jessica Sierra? No? Me neither. I don’t remember these people after the show unless they really can sing or make an impression for being really stupid. She’s one of a number of, um, “celebrities” who is starring on VH1’s new show Celebrity Rehab. Anything to stay, um, “famous,” I guess, no matter how idiotic you look. Congratulations, I guess.

10. I don’t know what movie this is, but daddy likes the idea of Emma Watson as a pouty little schoolgirl…

11. I like Rihanna. I can’t help it, I just do. One of the things I like about her, in this day of singers who only release an album every 5 years or so, is that she releases an album every year, just in time to have a decent summer pop single. Anyway, I was reading about how Zomba Records thinks that Britney Spears’s upcoming music comeback is going to be a huge failure, and I read that Rihanna’s sizeable summer hit from this year, “Umbrella,” was actually written for Britney Spears. She couldn’t be bothered to call the producer who wrote it back. Because, you know, she’s in a position to just turn down any help she can get. I understand that she also turned down Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, who wanted to write a single for her. Well done, Britney. Nice knowing you. Except over the last few months.

12. Well, we just magically, suddenly found chemical weapons in the United Nations Building. They’ve been there for about a decade or so. As yet, not a single story I’ve read is clear enough to indicate what this means, why it’s just coming out now, or if there’s any threat the government can use as an excuse to take away more of our civil rights. It’s quite the non-story at the moment.

13. Everyone’s probably seen this by now. Hey, at least we know No Child Left Behind is working. Honey, the correct answer is: “Because they’re dumb and uneducated.” Meh, you’re hot, you’ll do fine. Sadly.

14. Jamie Foxx, professional irritant, is doing his part to keep racism alive, saying he knows that managing a dog fighting ring is bad, but, you know, Michael Vick is black, so he’s on Vick’s side. Alright, alright, what he actually said was: “It’s a cultural thing, I think. Most brothers didn’t know that, you know. I used to see dogs fighting in the neighborhood all the time. I didn’t know that was Fed time. So, Mike probably just didn’t read his handbook on what not to do as a black star. I know that cruelty to animals is bad, but sometimes people shoot people and kill people and don’t get time. I think in this situation, he really didn’t know the extent of it, so I always give him the benefit of the doubt.” You kind of have to love this defense: he implies that Vick was just too stupid to realize that animal cruelty is sick and wrong and illegal, so he should go free. And, apparently, by extension if black people are too dumb to know they’re breaking a law, they shouldn’t be held responsible for it. So, according to Foxx then, dog fighting is simply part of the black lifestyle and people are against Vick because of racism, not because he’s an amoral dickwad who thinks setting animals on each other is fun. See, who said Jamie Foxx was a douche bag? Oh, right, it was me. Repeatedly. Thanks for proving me right, douche bag.

15. “In my silver Viper, I was driving from Miami to Tampa. I got pulled over going 107 and the guy let me off. He's like, ‘Hey, I know who you are, just keep going, ya know.’ Dude, I got back on the road and two minutes later I get pulled over going 113. Another highway patrol from the same county said, ‘I just heard on the radio that my buddy pulled you over and let you go. I'ma let you go this time. It's your second warning. You get pulled over again, you're probably going to go to jail.’ Three minutes later, [I was] doing 123 in a 50. The guy is like, ‘Hey, I just heard you got pulled over twice in the last 10 minutes. I got to write you a ticket.’” That was Nick Hogan in the new issue of Rides. He also called his shitty yellow Toyota Supra a “pussy magnet.” This Supra, right here. Nick Hogan, the infantile, endlessly unlikable teenage son of Hulk Hogan, was racing in the streets the other night, lost control, and hit a tree and a median. Charming little brat, isn’t he? Also: not his first crash this year. Why are kids so fucking dumb? Anyway, the accident left John J. Graziano, a veteran of the Iraq War, in critical condition. If he dies, it’s vehicular manslaughter and Nick goes away for 15 years, assuming celebrity justice isn’t the same in Florida as it is in California where a jail sentence doesn’t even last an afternoon anymore. An Iraq War veteran. You little asshole. Our soldiers fight and get themselves killed so Dick Cheney can control oil production and turn America into a fascist dictatorship, and if you survive you come home and get killed by some overprivileged little fucker driving too fast and coasting on his dad’s fame. Wow, life is unfair.

You’ve Actually Called a Murder Link

Hey, what better way to start the Friday links off then by ignoring this disturbing image and going right to a bunch of comic book posts? The Absorbascon talks Aquaman and the original incarnation of one of my favorite superheroes, Plastic Man. Plus, Sleestak has an observation on Richie Rich I found funny.
* Splotchy has the third Green Monkey Music Project mix, reviews Ocean's Thirteen, and looks at the lighter side of erectile dysfunction.
* If everybody knows Ken Levine's rules of theater etiquette, why does going to the movies still suck so much? Levine also looks at Emmy-nominated producers.

Go on and read Entertainment Weekly's interview with perfect girlfriend Kristen Bell, who says "I love nerds" and rightly points out that comic book geeks are the tastemakers of tomorrow. It's true. You've been stealing our stuff for blockbusters for years now.
* The Onion AV Club takes a look at the new TV shows premiering this fall.
* StyleCynics list 22 reasons why Britney Spears will never make a comeback. (Stole this from Semaj.)
* The Top 7 Obnoxiously Caloric Summer Treats (Layercake)
* JA laments the loss of Bruce Campbell's involvement in Bubba Nosferatu and has a wonderfully sarcastic post about Rob Zombie's Halloween.
* Old Bettie Page pictures (she frolics with animals, including a certain blogging political candidate) at the Skullcave.

A quartet of stories from Cracked:
* Before They Were Famous: The 10 Most Regrettable Celebrity Commercials
* 6 Video Game Gimmicks That Went Away Too Soon (And 6 More That Need to Die)
* 8 Celebrities Whose Obituaries CNN Has Probably Already Written
* 7 Great Men in History (And Why You Should Hate Them)

Before Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein goes on vacation, he left us some great posts about Chertoff's lost brothers, the latest non-gay cock-smocker in Washington Larry Craig, more about hypocritical ass-plunderer Larry Craig, and Bush's latest beg for more surge money.
* Even the guy who founded Greenpeace thinks Greenpeace and Leonardo DiCaprio are missing something important about global warming solutions.
* Dr. Zaius has linked to a Mother Jones timeline of the Katrina profiteers. He also writes a nursery rhyme and catches President Duh in an inconsistency.
* Atheist Revolution has some always-interesting examples of Christians who don't know jack about the bible.
* Jeffrey Feldman has a great post about why the Democrats should walk away from negotiations.
* Fairlane on extraordinary Americans (and who isn't one).
* Bill Maher comments on the call for overthrowing the Maliki government.
* FranIAm has a very powerful post about the world situation.

Anne Hathaway: Best Girlfriend Ever

Okay, this is nothing against my ScarJo. And I'm sure that what's happening in these pictures is not what it looks like is happening in these pictures. But don't you kind of hope it is?

I've always had this image of Anne Hathaway as poised and wonderful as she is in public, but secretly dirty and shameless when you get her alone. Here's hoping!

Man, it seems like every blogger is going on vacation this weekend. Why can't I? Why aren't I going on a yacht with dirty Anne Hathaway?

I mean, Scarlett would kill me, but she's in Barcelona.

I LOVE Michelle Marsh and Lindsay Anne Strutt At the End of Summer

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Movie Geek

Becca seems to have found the coolest, geekiest movie geek meme ever. I do now.

Favorite quote from a filmmaker:
"Spielberg isn't a filmmaker, he's a confectioner." -- Alex Cox

A good movie from a bad director:
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial from Steven Spielberg.

Favorite Laurence Olivier performance:There's never been an actor I've both hated and liked as much as Olivier; he was capable of the brightest brilliance and the laziest hackery. I'm inclined to say Crassus in Spartacus.

Describe a famous location from a movie that you have visited:
Well, I've been in a lot of Chicago locations from Backdraft, Batman Begins, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, etc. Does that count? I don't travel far.

Carlo Ponti or Dino De Laurentiis?Ponti's got the presitge--and La Loren--but I've got to give it to De Laurentiis. Lots of lapses in taste in there, but he has produced some of my absolute faves, including Conan the Barbarian.

Best movie about baseball:
The best movie "about" baseball is Field of Dreams. The best movie about baseball players is Bull Durham. For once, Costner's got it sewn on both sides.

Favorite Barbara Stanwyck performance:Although I didn't like the movie, The Lady Eve.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Dazed and Confused?They both suck. If I have to pick one, it's Fast Times, for obvious reasons.

What was the last movie you saw, and why?
I needed a pick me up this morning, so I watched a movie on the TiVo: Alias Jesse James with Bob Hope. Funny stuff, though nothing will ever be as good as The Paleface for me as far as Hope comedies.

Whether or not you have actually procreated or not, is there a movie you can think of that seriously affected the way you think about having kids of your own?
Countless. I couldn't even pick one right off the top of my head. I guess the remake of The Parent Trap was the first time I noticed that, at 23 years old, I was no longer watching movies like that from the perspective of the children, but from the POV of the adults. Specifically, the father's. I'm sure it had been going on for some time, but that's the first time I consciously thought about it.And I'd love to have cute, clever little twin girls like the ones in the movie. And I would especially make sure they didn't grow up to be anything like Lindsay Lohan. That's the kind of thing that makes me glad I'll probably never have children.

Favorite Katharine Hepburn performance:Wow, how do you pick just one? One of the two greatest actresses who ever lived (the other is Garbo). Do you realize that in 62 years of acting, she was only in 52 films? Half of those were from 1932 to 1951. I think she's endlessly wonderful, but if I have to narrow it to just one, it's her stunning, commanding work as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter.

A bad movie from a good director:
I love Joe Dante, but I hate The 'Burbs. My second choice would be Robert Zemeckis; I love even his stupidest movies from the early part of his career (hi, Used Cars, how you doing?), but parts of Forrest Gump, parts of Cast Away, and all of The Polar Express and What Lies Beneath are incredibly stupid.

Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom-- yes or no?
I have always wanted to see it and never been able to. In fact, I've never seen a Pasolini movie and always wanted to.

Ben Hecht or Billy Wilder?
Wow, what a great question. Tough choice, honestly. Billy Wilder worked on some of my favorite movies, including my the funniest movie I've ever seen, One, Two, Three. You just can't call Wilder overrated in any sense. But Hecht has been a little forgotten, even though he wrote or co-wrote or worked uncredited on some of the greatest movies I've ever seen, like Monkey Business (the Marx Brothers movie), Queen Christina, Angels with Dirty Faces, Gunga Din, Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind, His Girl Friday, Foreign Correspondent, Lifeboat, Spellbound, Notorious, The Paradine Case, Rope, Strangers on a Train, Monkey Business (not the Marx Brothers movie), and Cleopatra.He also wrote the gayest movie I've ever seen, The Outlaw with Jane Russell. His suggestion to David O. Selznick and Victor Fleming after being brought on to Gone with the Wind? Cut Ashley Wilkes out of the script. I have to give it to Hecht, because that's my favorite period of Hitchcock he worked on, and those are some tight screenplays. Hecht, definitely.

Name the film festival you’d most want to attend, or your favorite festival that you actually have attended:
I want to go to Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival.

Head or 200 Motels?
Definitely Head (which, incidentally, Zappa appears in). It's just so damn bizarre!

Favorite cameo appearance:
It's not in a movie, but on the final episode of Masters of Science Fiction, based on Harlan Ellison's story "The Discarded," Ellison himself made a brief cameo. That warmed my heart. I like cameos because I enjoy movie in-jokes and literary references.

Favorite Rosalind Russell performance:I've not seen her in much. I think, so far, I've liked her best in The Women. I didn't like the movie, but I thought she was fun and sexy as hell in it. I think His Girl Friday is a tad overrated.

What movie, either currently available on DVD or not, has never received the splashy collector’s edition treatment you think it deserves? What would such an edition include?Where the hell is the Criterion Collection DVD of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen? There was a laserdisc, why isn't there a DVD? Why do we have to put up with the Columbia DVD with no commentary, no documentaries, no anything extra except the admittedly hilarious trailers. I want that on DVD. Now. I'll wait, you go get it, Criterion.

Name a performance that everyone needs to be reminded of, for whatever reason:
I'm going to do what Becca did and push one of my adopted actors: see The Bride and just skip past the scenes with Sting and Jennifer Beals. The heart of the movie is Clancy Brown's sympathetic performance as Frankenstein's creature, and his stirring friendship with the wonderful David Rappaport in his finest role.

Louis B. Mayer or Harry Cohn?
Mayer, definitely. MGM is a way better studio than Columbia.

Favorite John Wayne performance:I still think he does his best acting in The Searchers. It sounds like a cliche, but he's very good. Sentimental fave: I just love him in The Shootist. He reminds me so much of my dad in that movie, it's not even funny. And my grandma, too; just like the Duke, she was tough and from Iowa.

Naked Lunch or Barton Fink?
I've never seen Naked Lunch and I didn't much care for Barton Fink. Can I pick The Hudsucker Proxy instead?

Your Ray Harryhausen movie of choice:
You ask that question, and I immediately get the Clash of the Titans theme music in my head. I loved Clash of the Titans so much when I was a kid that I even had some of the action figures.And that movie still rocks. So I'm going to have to pick that one, because I still want my own Pegasus, my own mechanical owl, and my own sword, shield, and helm.

Is there a movie you can think of that you feel like the world would be better off without, one that should have never been made?
Just one? Only one of the endless supply of horribly awful movies I've seen in this lifetime? I liked Becca's answer about Crash only being for people who are out of touch; I'd add Babel, too, just because it's an incredibly dumb movie with nothing to day that makes idiots feel like they're seeing something deep and real, instead of something histrionic and pointless with nothing to say about anything. I'm sure I'll get comments for saying that from people who are too invested in what they think liking certain films says about them. I also hate Superman Returns an awful lot. Gosh, there are so many. Right now I blame The Matrix for the current glut of B movies that are too long, too pretentious, and not as cool as they're trying to look without the effort, no matter how inherently ridiculous their premise is (like, say, Superman Returns), so I'm going to say The Matrix. I hate that fucking movie.

Favorite Dub Taylor performance:
You can't go wrong with any of his performances in Peckinpah movies, but to me he'll always be the voice of Digger in The Rescuers. Remember, Disney owns me. It also warmed my heart to see Taylor, Pat Buttram, and Harry Carey Jr. sitting around the saloon table in Back to the Future, Part III.

If you had the choice of seeing three final movies, to go with your three last meals, before shuffling off this mortal coil, what would they be?Easy: Fantasia, Bambi, and Pinocchio. It's where I cam from, and it's where I want to be when I know I'm going away for good. Sorry if it's not dynamic enough, but I like it.

And what movie theater would you choose to see them in?
Who cares? All cineplexes suck at about the same level.