Saturday, October 18, 2008

Halloween: DTV's Monster Hits

Last year, I posted Disney's Halloween Treat, a compilation of Halloween-related cartoons that the Disney Channel used to show every year, back when they still had Disney cartoons on the Disney Channel. Ahem. Anyway, that was a real big hit with my sister down in Australia, and I hope she sees this one, too. This is DTV's Monster Hits from 1987, when they still used to play DTV. I was 11 years old in 1987, and DTV was one of my favorite shows on the Disney Channel. It was a short series that just aired clips of Disney cartoons set to pop songs. Nothing more, really, and it's not for everyone, but Halloween and Christmas are holidays where things from childhood make me feel good, and I guess that's really the point of them both to me. So, from my childhood, DTV.





Friday, October 17, 2008

Halloween: Monster Mash

Great clip of monster movie cheese that someone put together with the classic song by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt Kickers. It cuts off the very end of the song, but it's still fun.

Throwdown 10/17

Random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. Meh. I still can’t work up any interest in this movie. I like my Kirk and Spock to look a little less like they’re about to furiously make out with each other. And given the extent to which most mainstream science fiction sucks these days… no, thanks.

2. Well. That’s the weirdest condom ad I’ve ever seen.

3. Dear makers of Kung Fu Magoo: go fuck yourself. That is all.

4. I keep hearing Courtney Love has a “killer bikini bod” because of a gastric bypass. Well, I can see the bypass, but I certainly don’t see the killer bod yet.

5. Hugh Hefner got himself a set of twins. You know, when I’m that old, I like to fool myself into thinking that I’ll be able to get girls that young and skanky and, well, twins, and it’ll be cute to people instead of horrifying like this normally would be. But I hope that Hef, one of my personal heroes of the past, doesn’t fool himself into thinking that, at his age, he’s getting girls this young because he’s such a great man. They’re in it for the money, pal. I hope you plan for that, because they’re going to rob you blind.

6. Miley Cyrus had her Sweet Sixteen party (six weeks early) at Disneyland. I’m 32 and all I can say is, dammit, I still want to spend my birthday with Mickey and Minnie!

7. Whoa, when did Kate Hudson get to be in her sixties? Ouch. Also, I think this would be a much cuter movie if they were marrying each other. There could be a great screwball comedy in that one. Instead, I’m sure they’re marring personality-free losers who don’t really matter because weddings are all about girls getting what they want anyway. Or at least the movies like to keep saying so, repeatedly.

8. “Ja, ja, official cap just like ven I vaz ein Nazi! Hee hee! Heil Jesus!”

9. So, is Tom Cruise playing Andy Warhol in something, or is that just what he is now? I just… hate him so much. I will say this: very cute kid. I wonder who her real parents are.

10. Mother’s Cookies went out of business, so they’re not going to make Circus Animal cookies anymore. That’s too bad. I only say that because I used to eat them when I was a kid. Still, on the good side, people can make their own.

11. Well, gee, I’d rather you did too.

12. Congratulations, Free Credit Report guy, you’ve officially passed Justin Long to make it to the top of my mental Guys from Commercials Who Need to Be Dead list.

13. I can’t decide if the upcoming porno film Who’s Nailin’ Paylin? is hilarious because Sarah Palin is awful and needs to be ridiculed or scary because it just keeps legitimizing Palin. Either way, Drill, Baby, Drill is the obvious sequel title. Bonus: Nina Hartley plays Hillary Clinton. Oh, by the way, people need to stop saying that Sarah Palin is empowered. How is she empowered when the GOP is keeping her on a fucking leash? This lady is more empowered than Sarah Palin.

14. Head on over to Crooks and Liars, where they not only say what needs to be said about McCain’s disastrous American Home Ownership Resurgence Plan (that it puts more homes at risk, more taxes on the middle and lower classes, and benefits only lenders, predatory or no), but also posit that it might be illegal under the terms of the Splurge that he helped to pass. John McCain is clutching at straws.

15. McCain announced an endorsement this week from Leonore Annenberg, widow of Walter Annenberg and current head of her late husband’s foundation, which is involved in education reform in Chicago. In fact, the Annenberg Foundation has worked with the Chicago education board where Barack Obama and William Ayers both served. So, it’s bad for Obama to sit in a room with Ayers, but it’s great for McCain to get the endorsement of a woman whose foundation worked with Ayers? Yeah, see, the specious guilt by association thing goes both ways, McCain. So which is it?

16. This moment in the debate keeps coming back into my head: was anyone else creeped out that McCain referred to the Kennedy assassination as an “intervention”? That just seems creepy to me. And another thing from the debate: McCain says he wants to institute a spending freeze, but actually his proposal would not freeze spending on the biggest drains to government spending, defense, social security, and veterans. So, he thinks we’re going to come back economically by saving the tiny bits of money we’re spending on, what, NASA and the Bureau of Indian Affairs?

17. I find it interesting that Obama has more support among evangelicals than McCain. I guess that’s what McCain gets for assuming that the only thing religious people care about is abortion and same-sex marriage. Turns out many of them like peace and prosperity more.


18. Here are some of the racists and ignorant morons McCain is so damn proud of for supporting him. These dipshits can’t figure out if they hate Obama more because he’s black or because he’s “not a Christian” (except that he is). Well, no one would ever accuse a Republican candidate of trying to inform their voters…

19. Speaking of information Republicans won’t spread, here’s a really, really good one. McCain’s buddy Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is actually a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher, Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior VP of the parent company of Lincoln Savings and Loan. Robert Wurzelbacher is a major Republican contributor. So now you know why Joe the Plumber is telling the press Obama is a socialist. Because he’s from a rich fucking family. Bonus: he’s not a licensed plumber. And his name is Sam, not Joe. Second bonus: he admitted to Katie Couric that he doesn’t actually make $250,000 a year, he was just mentally masturbating playing devil’s advocate. Extra bonus: he’s going to be indicted in Ohio because he owes nearly $1200 in back taxes. Seriously, GOP, this is your secret weapon? We should start calling him Joe the Liar. Oh, wait, another bonus: Biden on Leno last night: "I don't know many plumbers who are making $250,000 a year and worried about it. We're kind of worried about Joe the fireman, Joe the policeman, Joe the real plumber with a license." SNAP!


20. God bless you, Betty White. This was the funniest 90 seconds I saw on TV all week.

21. And finally, George W. Bush’s approval rating is now the lowest in history for a sitting president. Lower than Nixon’s. Here’s my question: what’s wrong with the 23% of you who haven’t been paying attention?

So Much Wrong with Bookstores These Days

Carl sent me this photo with the message: "The horror section of my local bookstore is small but potent..."

He sent me this, too, asking "Does this mean 20th Century Fox is promoting literary ignorance?" Oy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Halloween: Sleeping Beauty

Not exactly Halloween, I admit. But I wanted to throw up this segment from Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, arguably the best scene in the movie, because I have such strong memories of it from before I have strong memories of many other things. This movie made a vivid impression on me very early on; in fact, it's one of the first movies that ever scared me (I'd put it second; the first were the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz, and after the dragon in this clip it was the Wompa in The Empire Strikes Back -- these were all before I was four, by the way). So, because of that connection, here's about three and a half minutes of Sleeping Beauty.

Obama Is Going to Be the Next President

After last night's debate, I'm more sure than ever. I'm not letting myself coast on that yet; like Dana Gould said on Real Time last week, I may not relax until the third year of Obama's presidency, because I remember thinking Kerry was in the bag. But it seems more and more likely to me that America is going to elect Obama.

Last night's debate was the first which actually resembled a debate. (Note to Tom Brokaw: did you see Bob Schieffer? Study it, pal, because that's how you moderate a debate.) I thought John McCain was priggish, truculent, angry, aggressive, petty and small. He was a small man doing the Republican equivalent of Hillary Clinton crying during the primaries. Barack Obama was cool, reasonable, intelligent, and presidential. This is a man I want representing me and my interests, not only because he's cool under pressure, but because he knows what my interests are. McCain seems to think that I'm most worried about rich people having to pay more taxes.

I think Obama got in some real punches this time. I was so glad he finally answered McCain's challenge about this imaginary fine he thinks Obama wants to impose on people who don't opt for government healthcare with "Here's your fine: zero." McCain was a deer in the headlights after that, and, for a change, didn't bring up the issue of the fine again. One of McCain's biggest weaknesses is that he will lie and lie about Obama, and even when corrected by Obama or by independent fact-checkers or even his own people, he will continue to repeat the lies. And last night, on a national forum, it made him look foolish.

I also thought McCain looked foolish for all of the equivocating he did. What exactly is McCain's policy on anything? Why can't he state it clearly? Obama may have repeated most of the same points about policy that he always does, but that has the advantage of making his positions and his intentions clear.

I had a real problem with the way McCain continues to paint the middle class and the rich with the same brush. He acts like raising taxes on those who can afford it is somehow raising taxes on everyone. McCain went to the old Republican tactic of claiming that small businesses will suffer under Obama's tax plan, and Obama answered that 98% of small businesses in America will see no increase because they make less than $250,000 a year. I'm sure McCain and especially Sarah Palin will keep repeating the lie, though.

McCain flailed about with points that voters don't care about. He went back into meeting without preconditions, which I don't think anyone gives a shit about at this point. And then he brought up Ayers and ACORN, and Obama brilliantly set the record straight and in effect said "There, that's done, we're not going to talk about that anymore." He basically flattened the centerpiece of McCain's campaign for the last two weeks and castrated the sucker. And the cherry on top of that was telling McCain that focusing so much on the Ayers and ACORN non-starters "Says more about your campaign than it says about me." Now that's how you deliver a smackdown on an old man and come out looking clean. McCain could only repeat the same already-disproven lies.

About the negative campaigning: that was where Obama really showed his stuff. John McCain claimed (falsely) that Obama was running the most negative campaign in history, and tried to work up some tears because Obama hadn't repudiated John Lewis for comparing McCain to George Wallace, attempting to play the victim, claiming (again falsely) that he had repudiated all of the negative attacks on Obama, most of which are coming from his own campaign. In fact, as Obama pointed out, he had repudiated what Lewis said, and Lewis had apologized. McCain, rather stupidly, maintained that he was proud of his supporters (suicide, given the hateful, racist jeers of the crowds) and very stupidly equated ads attacking McCain's policy positions with negative personal attacks. It made McCain look more vain than ever. Obama deftly handled it, in effect saying "I know your bullshit game, and I'm not going to play it because I'm stronger than you are. You're grasping at straws, and you're scared, and you need to push me into exploding in order to win, but guess what? It ain't gonna happen. You can cry and pretend your feelings are hurt and act like I somehow pushed you into negative campaigning because I wouldn't do your town hall schtick, but I'm not going to legitimize it for you because you're small and I'm trying to get shit done." It was a beautiful thing. I really thought not answering the negative ads would hurt him; instead he made it clear that McCain was degrading the whole thing by going negative because he couldn't campaign on his policies. A thing of fucking beauty.

McCain flailed, spun out, crashed, and burned as if you'd put him back into the cockpit of any of the many planes he's crashed over the years. He went down in flames.

A couple of other things.

First, I noticed that during the brief talk about running mates, Obama was very smart not to trash the functionally retarded Sarah Palin. He could have, but he knew it would have made him look mean and petty. McCain, on the other hand, went about trashing the shit out of Joe Biden. Biden, who has gone out of his way to say McCain is his friend despite the policy disagreements. Class act as always, McCain.

Second, on the issue of reforming government spending, McCain is an idiot. He doesn't know how to argue it, because it goes like this.

OBAMA: I want to reform spending in order to shut down programs that aren't working and use that money to enhance programs that are working but are underfunded.

McCAIN: Why do we have to spend more! We should reform spending!

Seriously, that's McCain's entire argument. He refutes Obama's reallocation of tax money that's already being paid by saying that Obama wants to spend more. He does not get what anyone is saying, including himself. It's maddening: Obama wants to reform spending to push money the government already has into underfunded programs (like education), and McCain says Obama should reform spending instead. Isn't that what he just said?

McCain also went on and on about his vaunted $5000 tax credit for healthcare. It doesn't do dick. McCain is seriously out of touch here, and I guess he can afford to be since he already has the kind of government healthcare that he says will destroy America. That $5000 tax credit is up to $5000, and that's per family. So when McCain removes the tax incentive for employers to provide healthcare, and they're not covering you anymore or you're getting raised to a higher tax bracket because McCain is taxing you on your coverage (thus making your tax credit less than $5000 dollars), good luck getting you, your wife, and your kids a decent health plan for five thousand bucks. Hope your kid doesn't have Type II Diabetes, as more and more kids do these days. Or cancer. Or anything. I guess you'll just have to, as McCain recently advised, take the family to Wal-Mart for their excellent health service.

Both candidates took the long way around the barn to say that they would nominate SCOTUS justices who supported their viewpoint on Roe v. Wade. Obama was at least more open about it; I thought McCain was particularly insidious when he went on and on saying that he would nominate on a record of strict adherence to the Constitution, then adding right at the end that he didn't think anyone who adhered to the Constitution could possibly support Roe v. Wade.

Actually, the time spent on the issue of abortion really pissed me off. Obama voted against a ban on late term abortions (which I'm sick of hearing pro-lifers code as "partial birth" abortion in order to make it sound even more horrible than it already is) because it didn't include an exception for women whose health is endangered (or whose unborn child's health is endangered) by bringing the pregnancy full term. McCain was callous when he said the "health" (he put air quotes around that word) of the mother has "been stretched by the pro-abortion movement to mean almost anything." That was McCain mocking women with genuine health issues. He acts like there are women out there who, after six or seven months of being pregnant, just cavalierly decide that they don't want to be pregnant anymore. He doesn't care about women's health issues in any way, as if his healthcare plan didn't prove that.

They way I understood Obama's position was this: that no one should tell a woman, if her life is in danger or her unborn child's life is in danger, that one of them may have to die because she's legally obligated to give birth. He's saying that a woman must make that tragic, awful decision on her own, because it's a personal decision like any other major health risk. Good God, a patient who needs a life-saving operation has the right to deny treatment, why shouldn't a patient in a similar position? Because it involves an unborn child? Obama is saying that the choice has to be there, that a woman can decide not to have a child if it endangers one or both of their lives. It's a tragic choice that I wish no one ever had to make, and it's traumatic to have a late term abortion, but it could be a medical necessity. Obama is saying that woman has the right to make her own choice without it being mandated by the government.

McCain denies that such a choice is even possible, and when he says he will do everything he can to protect the rights of the unborn, he means even at the expense of someone already living who might die. That's saying that reproduction is a matter of the state, and that women's health problems are irrelevant when it comes to their legal duty to have a child.

Bottom line: Obama wants women to be able to make a reasoned choice on something so dire; McCain would force her to die rather than allow her the chance to live. That's it.

McCain's stance on education was absolutely sad. Let's bottom line this, too: McCain is arguing for free market competition of schools, while Obama wants to make schools better for everyone. McCain favors leaving the problem schools stand and move people who have a chance to the schools of their choice (I don't think, by the way, that Obama is against school choice like McCain seems to think); he favors letting the deep problems in education continue and simply making it easier for kids to switch schools, which is already pretty easy, at least in my district. Obama favors improving everyone's school experience. McCain's plan is beyond asinine: he doesn't want to fix the problem.

And one last issue: Sarah Palin's baby is not autistic, he has Downs Syndrome. There's a difference. Also, with a four-month old child, how does she know "more than most" about raising a special needs child? Seriously, this is not to deride her as a mother or anything, but the fact is, that kid's four months old. I think someone who has a special needs child who's eight or a teenager knows a lot more about what it's like to raise a special needs child than Sarah Palin. She's barely started. She's still learning how to do it. Saying that Sarah Palin knows "more than most" was just, in my opinion, slapping special needs parents in the face for being concerned with healthcare and education.

At times, McCain looked like he wanted to cry and just get it over with. He was creepy and robotic, and just kept clinging to the lies he knows are lies and trying to find new ways to co-opt Obama's statements and pretend they're his own. It's over, McCain. It's really over. Have fun with your negative ads and the loud racists in the base you claim to be so proud of. Enjoy the spotlight while you can, because you're not going to be President.

Me Mash Keys!

Splotchy's got a new meme and it goes like this:

1. Post the rules
2. Close your eyes
3. Count to five seconds
4. Type a whole bunch of random crap on the keyboard while you're counting
5. Open your eyes
6. Tag a few people

Here, then, is mine.

ijfifjpoi4jfp9jp9fnpo094j0q[9tu[0t9u[9joivoifj[9jq[p95gjq[0q9egjpt9qj09gj9jp9fj0[9jgq[0e9gu

Jeez, what's with all the nines? That's creepy. You know what I noticed last night? I'm one of those obnoxious people who plays music at night, and putting my iPod on the iHome player, the iPod was on song 109. It was the same the night before, only last night's song was "#9 Dream" by John Lennon. And Lennon's birthday was exactly a week ago, 9 October. He would have been sixty-... eight. Hm.

Still, it's enough to descend... into madness!

Bubs tagged the whole world. I tag the whole universe! Does it make sense? No, but I've descended into madness!

A Night Out with Posh and Becks

BECKS: La la la, I do love the sporting. Hello, what's this?

BECKS: Magnificent! Look at this! How round, how womanly. I'm married to a stickbug. My wife's rear end is like a child's. But this ripe peach before me... Oh, wait, is the wife watching?

BECKS: She is! I've stared too long!

POSH: "Is this why you want to come to the match tonight? To ogle other women in front of me? You don't find me attractive anymore! I'll take everything in the divorce!"

BECKS: "Darling, please, that's not--"

POSH: "I hope you've got the image of that slag's fat arse burned into your brain for when you're sleeping alone on the couch tonight!"

BECKS: *Sigh* I wonder what Rebecca Loos is up to tonight...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Halloween: Plague of Babies

One of my favorite cartoons was Invader ZIM, by the great Jhonen Vasquez. I went looking for the Halloween episode, but instead I decided to throw up "Plague of Babies." So here it is; Zim and a bunch of babies. GIR is one of my favorite things ever.




As an aside, I find it interesting now that Nickelodeon had a giant hard-on to cancel this show, considering how practically every animated series on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Channel rips it off now.

Things I Want to Mention Before the Debate

On Monday in Conshohocken, PA, the McCain campaign tried to have a press conference. Not a single reporter showed up.

That's about the way things seem to be going for McCain. With all of his bluster and all of his anger and all of his supposed leadership qualities, he's really managed to spectacularly crash this one into the ground. Much like at least three planes he's been in. Are you surprised?

The final debate is tonight, and it's going to be interesting/sad to see McCain scraping the bottom of the barrel in a last, desperate bid for relevance. He's already started rewriting old speeches; he just gave a speech that he had first given in 2004 when he was pushing for his buddy George W. Bush. Remember those huggy pictures? Christ, what a spectacle.

Tonight, it's expected that McCain is going to attack Obama (he sure as hell isn't going to let himself be drawn into a debate; I mean, there hasn't been a debate yet) on William Ayers and ACORN. They're both non-issues that the majority of voters don't care about.

First off, it's become clear through personal contact with others that many people (even here in the Illinois) don't have any idea who William Ayers is. They only hear the words "domestic terrorist" and make up their minds without even a basic Wikipedia search. Those people are ignorant and easily-led. Every other voter, except for the Republican apologists and those douchebags at the Wall Street Journal and people with their own agenda, does not care. They're more worried about losing their jobs and their homes. That's the one issue McCain seems to have the least handle on, and that's what's going to cost him the election.

Second off, ACORN. Does anyone remotely give a shit? Seriously, I barely knew what ACORN was before a week ago, and I've found that most of the people pushing the McCain rhetoric that ACORN is evil and committing voter fraud don't know what it is, either. And McCain has been involved with ACORN recently; much more recently than Obama. And this thing the GOP is pushing about ACORN being involved in voter registration fraud? It's a hoax. Because the first people to report voter registration fraud were ACORN. ACORN has been doing their duty and reporting on voter registration fraud by rogue canvassers.

Voter registration fraud does not equal voter fraud. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and Goofy may register to vote, but that's meaningless. If Mickey and Donald and Goofy show up with ID to vote, then it's a problem. The GOP is out in force trying to scare people about voter registration fraud in a desperate bid to get you not to vote. To intimidate you into believing that the system is rigged and your vote will not count so that you won't vote at all.

McCain's "Obama is guilty by association" movement has completely backfired on him. Because it opened the door (and rightly so) for Charles Keating's name to finally be thrown out into the arena. And McCain's dealings with the US Council for World Freedom (certainly a terrorist group, or at least a group that worked with terrorists), as well as McCain campaign manager Rick Davis's continued association with Fannie and Freddie. And William Timmins, a lobbyist and McCain's hand-picked transition chief who used to lobby Congress on behalf of Saddam Hussein. Or Sarah Palin's continued association with the Alaskan Independence Party.

Things need to be said in tonight's debate. Barack Obama needs to finally confront McCain about the lies and the hate speech and the fear tactics. McCain always puts Obama on the defensive, but Obama really needs to push this time, because it's his last chance to do it. Obama recently said that he was surprised McCain wouldn't make those attacks to his face. Well, it's time to call him on it.

DCup has an excellent post in which she says she'd like to see Obama ask questions like "John, do you really think that I am a terrorist?" and "John, do you really think I am not an American?" and "John, if you don't believe any of those things, why is your campaign out implying those things?" and especially "John, if you can't control your campaign, then how can you expect the American people to believe that you can run this country?" This is the Obama I'd like to see tonight. Because I'm pretty sure McCain has no answers to any of those questions.

(By the way, as far as McCain not being a racist goes, I think it's pretty racist of his campaign to imply constantly not only that Obama is a Muslim and an Arab, but that being a Muslim or an Arab automatically means you are somehow a terrorist. Why isn't that pointed out more often?)

Here's Keith Olbermann last night, damning McCain for the hatred and having the gall to act like he's got no idea what his campaign is doing.



Obama, bring this up at the debate! This is a stain on the vaunted honor and integrity McCain thinks he has.

UPDATE 2:36 PM: Bonus. John McCain said that tonight he hopes to do "about half as good as Sarah did against poor old Joe Biden." He still doesn't get it, and he never will.

The Ballad of Fucking John Fucking McCain

I always love getting to post a poem from poet/editor/scholar/webmaster extraordinaire Phillip A. Ellis.

The Ballad of Fucking John Fucking McCain

John McCain's a wrinkly fellow--
fuck his ass, you'll make him bellow;
fuck the banks, you'll make him whine
the economy is fine;
fuck the Prez, he'll say he's next;
fuck some white trash, he's perplexed;
fuck a gay, he'll scream and shout
that those homos should get out;
fucking Palin, hockey mom?
that would make yo dick da bomb!;
fuck the world because you're bored,
never mind 'cause Christ is Lord;
fuck the wilderness? why not!
hippies' minds are full of grot;
fuck a nun until she'll cough,
but please, God, make McCain fuck off!

--Phillip A. Ellis, 14 October 2008

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

THE LOST PATROL (1934)
I have to admit, this one felt a little slow to me. John Ford directed this story of British soldiers under Arab fire. Victor McLaglen is very good, and I always love to see Karloff. But it wasn't as exciting as maybe it could have been, and even though it came five years before, it felt like a poor cousin to Gunga Din, which has a much better McLaglen performance. ** stars.

JOUR DE FETE (1949)
Jacques Tati directs and stars as a mailman trying to make his route more modern and efficient on Bastille Day. I love the sort of easygoing quality of Tati's films, as though no matter how technologically advanced the world gets, you can always find solace in the simply joys of life itself. That the things to cling to will always be universal. The gags are great, the tone is wonderful, and the use of some color effects is quite striking. Beautiful. **** stars.

PLAYTIME (1967)
The fourth of Tati's five Monsieur Hulot movies, and the third I've seen. I love it no less than I loved Mon Oncle and M. Hulot's Holiday. The message is the same, although this time Hulot finds himself mixed in with a group of American tourists in Paris. All the time, he sort of blunders, sort of skates his way through modern problems by simply being himself. It's also as beautiful to look at as the other films, particularly Mon Oncle; that and Playtime are two of the most visually striking films I've ever seen. **** stars.

CHAPTER 27 (2007)
Does the story of Mark David Chapman, the scumbag who murdered John Lennon, really need to be told? This movie answers that question: no. Jared Leto, in some of the worst acting I have ever witnessed, plays Chapman pretty much how you would expect if you expected a cliched cartoon character. There's no insight into Chapman at all, no explanation for why he became so obsessed with Lennon and the Beatles, and the movie is barely watchable. Lindsay Lohan occasionally lets out the shadow of her former self, back when she used to be a good actor. Still, she can't stop me from giving this movie no stars.

SURF'S UP (2007)
I liked this movie better than I expected to. It's predictable, but I had fun getting there, mostly because some of the voice cast was very good (Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, Jeff Bridges) and the animation was very, very good. This is probably the best-looking non-Pixar CG movie I've seen so far. Good effects, too, since most of the film plays out like a documentary, with the shaky camera and some 16 millimeter effects. I liked the animation more than the film itself, but it's not a bad film at all. Still, Hollywood, please, no more penguins. ***1/2 stars.

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950)
A real family classic, as we used to call them, back when Family Classics was on WGN. Clifton Webb (an efficiency expert) and Myrna Loy (a psychologist) raise 12 kids. The film mainly centers around Webb's relationship with his eldest daughter (Jeanne Crain, looking beautiful as a 25 year-old mother of two playing a 16 year-old girl), who is entering her rebellious years (a tad late, perhaps). Webb is wonderful. It does make me think a lot about the differences in children and fathers across 50 years, because I've seen the crappy remake with Steve Martin. The kids respect their father in this movie, whereas in the remake, the kids have all the power and treat Steve Martin like an asshole. Which is supposed to be funny, I guess, but personally I'm sick of being reminded that kids rule the world. This original version is a wonderful look at family that works because everyone respects one another. **** stars.

BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (1990)
Not the B masterpiece that Re-Animator was, but still one hell of a fun movie, with Bruce Abbott and Jeffrey Combs reprising their roles from the first movie and now, instead of trying to reanimate the dead, trying to create new life. Combs is brilliant in this movie, still the very serious hardass but a little more playful. He gets some fun quips, too, like when Fabiana Udenio screams about a reanimated corpse ripping her dog to shreds, and Combs picks up the dead dog and stares at her, deadpanning (with disgust): "She's hysterical." Great stuff. Combs alone makes the movie, but it's so much fun otherwise. *** stars.

Jesus Is My Friend

Well, Jesus is everyone's friend, isn't he? I mean, he's a forgiving dude. Or a sucker, either way. Actually, don't get me wrong, I'm not into the whole divinity thing, but Jesus is a great fictional character. It's his fan club that pisses me off.

Anyway, Phillip sent me this video some time ago and it got lost among my files. This is a band called Sonseed (which is a creepy name; calling themselves Baby Batter would be less creepy) singing a song called "Jesus Is My Friend." It's so dorky and lame it's almost cool. They're trying so hard to be funky and rockin' it's kind of misguidedly sweet.

Oh, and true to Christian rock form, thinks get really gay at some point. Christian rock is fine if that's the kind of music you want, but it always gets to the point where the singer unmistakably wants Jesus to fuck him. Check out around 1:43 in:

"Once I tried to run,
I tried to run and hide,
But Jesus came and found me
And he touched me down inside;
He is like a mountie,
He always gets his man,
And he'll zap you any way he can -- Zap!"

...

Creeeeeeeepy.

Anyway, watch the video.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Halloween: More Disney Pumpkins



And a pumpkin pie, I guess...

The Health Report, Year 2: Week 44

Waxing on Horror Movies

I've been seeing a lot of lists already of best and favorite horror movies for Halloween. I thought that, instead of making a list of my own (I make a lot of lists as it is), I'd do something different and just talk about the horror films I've seen to this point in my life. There's another list that I do keep: the list of all the movies I've ever seen, currently edging past 6500. And since this is the spooky season, here are some random, hopefully brief-ish thoughts on the movies. And I guess I'll bold the ones I think are the best of the best.

I arbitrarily started in the 1920s for no real reason.

* Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) -- the great John Barrymore version, which floated a claim that Barrymore used no makeup to achieve his transformation. Bull, of course, but his acting is magnificent in the role.

* Der Golem (1920) -- it's pretty obvious that James Whale borrowed bits for his own Frankenstein, but it cheapens neither film. This is a variation on the same tale of creation, based on Jewish folklore.

* Haxan (1922) -- aka Withcraft Through the Ages; a neat movie about the persecution of witches disguising itself as a documentary. It's a great excuse to show lots of scenes of women worshiping Satan and (literally) kissing his ass.

* Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) -- a symphony in shades of gray. Bram Stoker's widow tried to sue filmmaker F.W. Murnau out of existence for this unlicensed ripoff of Dracula. Justly a classic, with some of the most iconic shots in the history of horror (really in cinema in general).

* Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) -- of the many versions of Victor Hugo's novel that I've seen, this is the only one that really feels like a horror movie to me. Probably it's Lon Chaney's wonderfully, purposely gross portrayal of Quasimodo. The sets for this are stunning. Great movie.

* The Monster (1925) -- there's some great weirdness to it, but this movie kind of bored me, despite the presence of Lon Chaney.

* The Phantom of the Opera (1925) -- fantastic. A quality production, an excellent story, and Lon Chaney. Perfect.

* The Unholy Three (1925) -- directed by the great Tod Browning, with Lon Chaney, Victor Mature, and Harry Earles as three circus performers who start scamming people out of their money. One of my favorite scenes in movie history: when Harry Earles, standing in a sideshow (Earles was a little person), gets made fun of by a child for being small, Earles walks up to the kid and kicks him in the face. That's the kind of casual brutality you don't see anymore. Excellent movie.

* The Cat and the Canary (1927) -- a tight little thriller, though a tad overrated, in my opinion.

* The Unknown (1927) -- another weird Tod Browning film, with Lon Chaney in one of my favorite performances as a murderer on the run from the authorities. He hides in a carnival as an armless knife-thrower, though he's not really armless at all. When he falls for sexy Joan Crawford, who can't bear the touch of a man, he has his arms amputated. And then she falls in love with the strongman. And, well, Chaney decides he needs vengeance... Fantastic, dark, weird, and sublime.

* West of Zanzibar (1927) -- Lon Chaney is neat as a witch doctor, but the rest of the movie doesn't quite live up to him. The American couple in peril is never as interesting as the weird villain. That's the unfortunate thing about horror movies throughout movie history. Give me someone to care about, otherwise I'm rooting for the villain.

* The Unholy Three (1930) -- lesser remake of the Tod Browning film; it's still a decent movie, though, and I loved the gorilla ending. Lon Chaney's only sound role.

* Dracula (1931) -- Tod Browning again, and Bela Lugosi in his greatest role. The film suffers a bit from being dated and a little broad. Some people tell me it's slow, but I blame Stoker for that; he didn't exactly write a rousing novel. Still, it's an undisputed classic as far as I and many others are concerned, however hip it's become to trash it.

* Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) -- my favorite version of the Stevenson novel, with the great Fredric March (one of my favorite actors) regressing to a primal version of man and terrorizing women. The makeup is a fascinating choice, making Hyde a sort of earlier stage of human rather than simply the unleashing of the id.

* Frankenstein (1931) -- like Dracula, it's a little dated and some parts seem silly now (maybe it's just me, but I find Colin Clive's histrionic performance a little grating), but it's an undisputed classic. Boris Karloff's performance as the monster isn't just iconic because of the excellent makeup; his acting is also damn good.

* Doctor X (1932) -- here's something I hate in old horror movies, too: the funnyman. This movie suffers from having too much of the focus on Lee Tracy as a wisecracking reporter. Ugh, there's an archetype I can do without. And there's so much going for this movie, too, with Fay Wray all glamorous and sexy and wounded, and Lionel Atwill's great performance as Doctor X. The makeup effects are wonderful. Take out Lee Tracy and things would be fine.

* Freaks (1932) -- one of my all time favorite movies, and another Tod Browning great. You've all heard about this movie, I'm sure, but if you haven't seen it, do it. It's that excellent and genuine sort of weird that certain filmmakers (rhymes with Vim Curtain) try to ape but don't really grasp very often.

* Island of Lost Souls (1932) -- classic adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau with Charles Laughton in the lead. There are some liberties, but it's atmospheric and a pleasure to watch. Bela Lugosi appears as the Sayer of the Law. Great makeup.

* The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) -- on the one hand, it drags in spots. On the other hand, Karloff is a treat as the devil doctor and Myrna Loy plays his daughter. I like this movie, but I also get distracted by the pacing.

* The Most Dangerous Game (1932) -- Leslie Banks is wonderfully arch as Count Zaroff, who hunts visitors to his island for sport. One of those visitors is Fay Wray, and she's luminous. Excellent thriller that was just on TCM recently.

* The Old Dark House (1932) -- James Whale's follow-up to Frankenstein is a lot of fun, with a cast that includes Karloff, Raymond Massey, Melvyn Douglas, Ernest Thesiger, Gloria Stuart, and, as one of those 1930s rich drunkards, Charles Laughton. I enjoyed it very much.

* Thirteen Women (1932) -- weird, silly movie with Myrna Loy as a woman who uses astrology to bump off the women who tormented her in school for being foreign. Not as fun as it sounds.

* Vampyr (1932) -- a slow but rewarding revenant story directed by the transcendant Carl Theodor Dreyer. Every bit as atmospheric as Nosferatu and much more subtle.

* The Ghoul (1933) -- as I said recently, a let-down.

* The Invisible Man (1933) -- Claude Rains was so great and dramatic in this movie, once again by James Whale. One of the horror classics for a very good reason.

* The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) -- Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill, and director Michael Curtiz (a bit of an unsung filmmaker, I feel) reteam for a much better movie than Doctor X. Glenda Farrell is great, too, as is the makeup.

* The Vampire Bat (1933) -- I guess I just love Fay Wray. She makes everything better. Not enough to save this yawner, but slightly better, nonetheless.

* The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) -- the best of the Frankenstein movies, with James Whale working in all kinds of weirdness, sexual overtones, and Christ symbols. Much darker and weirder than Frankenstein, and Karloff is given much more to do. That last moment of his... "You stay. We belong dead." Genius. Ernest Thesiger, Lionel Atwill and Elsa Lanchester are great. I love this movie so much.

* Mad Love (1935) -- Peter Lorre is so good in this movie as a spurned doctor who gives a hand transplant to the husband of a woman he loves (Colin Clive plays the husband). A perfect horror movie, one of Lorre's best performances.

* Mark of the Vampire (1935) -- slow-moving but great thriller with a twist ending that I find wonderful every time. Tod Browning directed, a remake of his own lost film London After Midnight, though given the reconstruction of that film, probably less weird. Bela Lugosi plays one of the vampires; Lionel Barrymore plays a vampire hunter.

* Werewolf of London (1935) -- I don't like werewolf movies overmuch, but this is one of the better ones. I think this one sort of codified the werewolf movie, and it deserves to have.

* The Devil Doll (1936) -- Tod Browning again teams with Lionel Barrymore, this time disguising himself as an old woman to elude capture. Actually, he's making miniature people and using them to take his revenge, while his daughter (yummy Maureen O'Sullivan) searches for him. The last hurrah of Tod Browning, a great filmmaker; he made one more movie, Miracles for Sale, which I haven't seen.

* The Invisible Ray (1936) -- fantastic movie that teams Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff as scientists dealing with the deadly Radium X. Karloff discovers the element, Lugosi brings it back from the jungle, and Karloff becomes so irradiated that he can kill with a touch. Karloff goes on a revenge spree and Lugosi steals the formula. Both actors were still at the top of their game, but this movie is really great beyond just the fun of seeing Boris and Bela together.

* Son of Frankenstein (1939) -- the third Frankenstein movie is, I think, pretty underrated. It's not Bride, of course, but I quite enjoyed this movie with Basil Rathbone, the grown son of Dr. Frankenstein, continuing his father's work and bringing Karloff to life once more. It's only enhanced by Bela Lugosi as Ygor, the creepy villager who knows secrets.

* Tower of London (1939) -- a sort of Gothic horror version of the story of Richard III, scheming to murder his obstacles to power. Basil Rathbone is tremendous as Richard, and Boris Karloff plays Mord, the club-footed executioner who carries out Richard's orders. Vincent Price is wonderful in this movie as Richard's brother, the Duke of Clarence, a fussy sot. There's a really great scene where he and Rathbone engage in a drinking contest; it's one of Price's best scenes.

* Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) -- the miscast version, although I still like some of what Spencer Tracy does in the movie and I can't hate Ingrid Bergman. Still, Donald Crisp was the best part for me, and I liked the way Victor Fleming directed the scenes with the fog. Very bizarre, but not in a way that works.

* The Wolf Man (1941) -- I have to admit, of all the Universal classics, this is the one I don't like. I just get tired of Lon Chaney Jr whining about being a werewolf. Maybe I need to see this one again, but I just didn't like it when I first saw it (in high school, admittedly). Claude Rains is wonderful, as per usual.

* Cat People (1942) -- the beginning of Val Lewton's horror gems, with Simone Simon as a Serbian fashion designer who believes she's fallen under an ancient curse. Lewton's productions are justly famous for turning a low budget into an asset by being suggestive rather than blatant. I wish filmmakers could re-learn that lesson today.

* The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) -- I love all of these Frankenstein movies, really. In this one, Cedric Hardwicke plays the other son of Frankenstein, and Ygor (still Lugosi) takes the monster (now played fairly well by Lon Chaney Jr) to find him. Not quite as suspensful as the previous films, but it still doesn't feel rote to me. I love to watch them all.

* Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1942) -- my least favorite Frankenstein movie, with Bela Lugosi playing the monster (not very well) and Lon Chaney Jr whining his way through the movie as the Wolf Man, attempting to find Dr. Frankenstein to cure him of his lycanthropy. It's over pretty quickly, too.

* The Ghost Ship (1943) -- Val Lewton's least film. Really, it's boring.

* I Walked with a Zombie (1943) -- basically Jane Eyre with a voodoo zombie. Atmospheric and dramatic as hell.

* The Leopard Man (1943) -- that scene with the little girl outside the door is one of the best in horror movie history.

* Curse of the Cat People (1944) -- weird, less successful follow-up to Cat People, with Simone Simon returning as the ghost of herself, becoming an invisible friend to her own daughter.

* House of Frankenstein (1944) -- great movie with Boris Karloff as an evil scientist who escapes from prison and begins collecting the monsters of the world to exact his revenge. Lon Chaney Jr whines his way through as the Wolf Man, of course, with John Carradine hamming it up as Count Dracula and Glenn Strange as an intimidating Frankenstein's Monster. A bit inconsistent, but a lot of fun.

* The Return of the Vampire (1944) -- Lugosi's unsuccessful attempt to play a vampire awakened by World War II. Lame.

* The Body Snatcher (1945) -- probably my favorite Val Lewton production is this Robert Louis Stevenson story. Ostensibly it's about a doctor (Henry Daniell) trying to advance the cause of medicine, but he can't do it without cadavers to study with. Boris Karloff, in my favorite performance of his, is a shady cab driver who supplies bodies to the doctor, even if he has to kill them himself. There's a great scene with Karloff and Lugosi, really Lugosi's last hurrah before the Ed Wood years.

* Isle of the Dead (1945) -- another great Karloff performance in a Lewton production, this time as a general in charge of a Greek island that has been quarantined with plague. But one superstitious peasant suspects a young girl of being possessed by a vampiric demon. A classic paranoia thriller.

This has been running long, like everything I do, so I'll pick this up later by jumping into the 1950s.

Mercury

Images from the recent Messenger flyby of the planet closest to the sun.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Halloween: The Mad Doctor

Another Mickey Mouse cartoon, this one from 1933 and, in my opinion, extremely well animated. Nice, spooky atmosphere as Pluto is kidnapped by a scientist who wants to perform experiments on him. I love the castle full of skeletons.

McCain and the Mob

It was almost a sad thing to watch. John McCain, after weeks of negative campaigning, after having it announced to the press that his strategy until the end of the election would be to ramp up the number of negative attack ads on Barack Obama, attempted to regain the sense of ethics and integrity many of us thought he showed in his 2008 campaign.

On Friday, a woman in Wisconsin said to McCain at one of his rallies that she didn't trust Obama because "he's an Arab."

McCain apparently decided, for a change, not to let an accusation like that go by.

"No, ma'am," he said. "He's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with [him] on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."

He said: "I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."

He said: "If you want a fight, we will fight. But we will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments."

He said: "I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity. I just mean to say you have to be respectful."

It was the first time that McCain remembered his promise, long ago, to run a respectful campaign. That he would run on his record and on his ideas. That in 2000 he had accused George W. Bush of running a negative campaign because he didn't have any ideas for America.

And they booed him.

The crowd at the McCain rally booed him. And it was almost sad to see McCain looking broken and foolish. Almost. But it's far too late to feel any sympathy for John McCain, because he is, ultimately, the one responsible for being in this position. He's the one who has used this campaign to whip up a massive movement of hatred and fear just so he can win an election. He hasn't cared about winning honorably. He hasn't articulated his ideas in a clear way. He long ago stopped running a platform of policy change or economic recovery; his platform has twisted into attacks on Obama's character and unmitigated lies about Obama's past and present.

I have no sympathy for McCain.

He created a lynch mob. And now he's surprised to find that he can't control it. It's no longer about him.

He should have known better.

He should have cared about "courage" and "causes greater than his self-interest" and "country first." He claims too, but his campaign belies the reality of those statements. He is only interested in being president, and he will do or say or suck up to anyone he has to in order to get elected. He has thrown himself in with the same evil people who created the nightmare Bush administration, the same people who demonized him eight years ago, in order to win. His only goal is to be president. He's not in this for anyone else. Except the 170 lobbyists who run his campaign.

Sympathy? For John McCain?

Does he get credit now for remembering, deep in his reanimated brain, what it was once like to be human, ethical, integrous, humane?

Not a chance. He did this to himself. He did this to the hate movement he gave birth to. He incited them, and only now, too late to stop it, does he find that he has sacrificed his dignity in order to win.

Any attempts to regain that dignity now are only to keep the sane, stable conservatives who have abandoned him in droves because they've watched him become one of the fundamentalist charlatans he used to deride.

His spoiled vanity got him here. He hasn't learned yet; maybe he'll learn this time.

It's over, McCain. And you'll never have my sympathy.

Thanks to the overtime efforts of Sarah Palin, America's highest-ranking redneck, to be as ignorant as she can and spread the ignorance as far as she can reach, the mob is too far gone. They aren't a political movement. They aren't a base of support. They're a mad, frothing pit of snarling dogs with the scent of blood in their noses, slavering for the taste of red meat. They don't want change. They don't want ideas. They don't want policy. They want the apotheosis of their hatred, and I'm terrified to think what that might be and what form it might take.

Frankly, I'm afraid for Senator Obama's life.

When people shout at McCain/Palin rallies "Kill him!" and "He's a terrorist!" and "Traitor!" and, once to a black technician, "Sit down, boy!" and they're not checked by the candidate or his running mate, they are endorsing those viewpoints. They are letting those words go because McCain thinks it's all a political tool; if people hate Obama, they'll vote for me.

But it's so much bigger now.

The McCain/Palin base has become little more than a welcome nest for racism and hate speech (the kind of hate speech used by Palin herself to promote the idea that Obama is an Arab and a Muslim, and therefore must be a terrorist). McCain and Palin have been teaching people to think of Obama as a terrorist, through the repetition of his middle name and the use of respected education reformer William Ayers as a fixed point for their anger. They have openly called him a terrorist and then dismissed claims that they've gone too far as somehow the media overreacting. They have done what hatemongers have done throughout history: appealed to the most ignorant among them, told them all of their problems stem from one source, and stirred up their bloodlust for that source.

They've told them to lynch the nigger Arab terrorist scumbag.

These people want blood. Sarah Palin wants blood. And no one, not even John McCain himself, is going to stop that now.

Nice work, McCain. You're a real class act.

You have one more debate left. I suggest you use that debate to put forth an idea on policy. I suggest you debate ideas this time instead of telling what you know to be lies about Obama. You might even be a little gracious that you've come this far. I don't expect you to use the forum to apologize for what you've done and set the record straight. That would be asking for too much. Though you might still have time to regain your basic humanity and do the right thing.

Still, since you've already promised to "whip" Obama in the debate--and why not go all the way and say "I'm going to whip Obama until he says his name is Toby?"--I'm pretty sure you're not thinking about what you say these days.

If only I thought you were capable of feeling it, I'd tell you that you should be ashamed of yourself for everything you've done in the last six months.

You're not going to be president. Ever. Start getting used to the idea.

California Voters: Please Vote No on Prop 8

Prop 8 is on the California ballot this Election Day. It's a ballot initiative to deny gay people the right to get married in California. It is an initiative of hate. It is designed to take basic civil rights away from American citizens who have not broken any laws. It's designed to force Americans to live a certain way. And it's wrong. It is an evil, and it must be defeated.

I cannot stomach someone telling others that they have to live a certain way because of something their religion says, or something that's supposedly traditional, or a narrow worldview that is somehow threatened by the private lives of total strangers. Whether you're straight or gay, or whether you're religious or areligious, whatever your view on the subject of nature vs. nurture, genetics or choice... what you're doing when you vote for things like Prop 8 is denying your fellow Americans their rights.

How can you live with yourself when you've voted to take away someone's rights?

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard. He was killed by bigots who felt it was within their rights to end the life of another human being for the crime of being different. There is NO DIFFERENCE between what they did and what Klansmen did to black people or what the Nazis did to Jews. It was an extermination rooted in fear, ignorance, and hate. Voting for Prop 8 is, quite simply, voting to support and legitimize that same fear, ignorance, and hate.

For those of you voting against it: thank you for fighting bigotry in your words and deeds.

Here's a nice commercial drawn by Pixar story artist Adrian Molina, who says it all in much sweeter and simpler terms than I have.

I'm Glad Someone Said It

Having seen both Iron Man and The Dark Knight this summer, I think I agree with this sentiment. [Original here, though you should be reading PVP already anyway.]

Getting an Assful of Pipe Wrench

"Take On Me," literally.


Via Cinematical

What Are You Doing Here?

Now that's a perfect example of that bizarre fan dedication. 45 years of Doctor Who boiled down to one question: what are you doing here?


Via Topless Robot

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Halloween: Sexy Costumes

Because you unleash the id at Halloween, here are some of the many, many sexy costumes available this year. I don't know who's wearing 'em, but I like looking.

Sexy militarism.



Variations on the sexy witch theme.



A surprising array of bees. When did bees become the sexiest bug? When did bugs become sexy?



The inevitable Alice in Wonderland, one of the many children's stories delightfully sexualized over the years.



The surprise for me was not that there was a sexy Minnie Mouse costume, but that there were about seven variations on this.



And here's a bunch of other fetish archetypes I enjoy. Yeah, let's just be honest about that.

Sexy Pirate Girl... I love you, can I please come home with you?