Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Don't (Entirely) Blame Glenn Beck

Sure, he's an asshole. He's a pigfucking waste of human life. He's a piece of shit who's actually compared himself to Thomas Paine, called the President a racist, and once mused, on-air, about what it would be like to personally murder Michael Moore. And today, this freewheeling and unapologetic racist had the gall to force a comparison between himself and Martin Luther King by heading to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and, in the same spot and on the same day Dr. King moved the world by telling us that we should not judge people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, dared to try to "take back" the civil rights movement from "liberals."

A fool standing in place of a King.

But I don't entirely blame Glenn Beck for this stupidity. If he had no viewers supporting him, no audience listening to him, no functioning illiterates buying his books, then he wouldn't have the backing of Fox Right-Wing Corporate Propaganda-News, and instead he'd be dressing up as a clown at kids' birthday parties.

This is the fault of the Teatard crowd. The fault of a shocking amount of people who believe not only that Obama is a Muslim, but that that "fact" alone somehow makes him sinister and dangerous. This is the fault of a percentage of the public that allows themselves to be played like harps, and swallow Beck's racist rhetoric, and genuinely believe that white, Christian, conservative Americans--and the corporate masters they so willingly serve in their blind, foolish hope that they might be rich one day as well--are somehow being oppressed by people who dare to think that all American should have equal rights.

Those people are to blame.

Glenn Beck is, in truth, a boorish, loudmouth halfwit, but I don't believe for one second that he actually buys the bullshit he's selling. And that's what makes him such a piece of shit. We're talking about a guy who used to host a morning zoo show with Jessica Hahn and Zippy the Chimp. A guy who didn't give a shit about politics until less than a decade ago, when he cynically realized the political right-wing talk was a sure way to make some money if you were just loud, panicky, and dumb enough to reach people who live in fear they don't even fully understand.

Holding a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial? It's the right-wing political talk show equivalent of being a morning zoo host on Y95 Phoenix and putting a gerbil in a bank deposit tube as an on-air prank. It's the exact same kind of theater for stupid people. He knows it, and that's what makes him such a shit heel. He doesn't actually believe any of this. He just knows what sells to the people who do.

Go-Go

Women in Politics

BECCA: This whole thing with Sarah Palin and Dr. Laura has made me realize that as much as I despise Sarah Palin, I actually fucking hate Dr. Laura even more. You know how I know? Because Sarah Palin defending Dr. Laura actually lowered my opinion of Palin, which I didn't even think was possible.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hellcats

I'll be watching the hell out of this, even if it sucks. But if it does suck, it'll be interesting to see how long I can tolerate it just out of my love for Aly Michalka and Ashley Tisdale... the last CW show I tried to watch simply because I liked the star was Privileged, because Joanna Garcia was in it, and I only made it through something like two and a half episodes. It was terrible.

Bring it on, CW, you Reaper-canceling bastards.

Plight of the Bumblebee

Thad Komorowski has uncovered a rough cut of Plight of the Bumblebee, an unreleased Disney cartoon from 1951.

Jack Kinney directed this one, and it's in the same vein as his George Geef era Goofy cartoons, only with Mickey Mouse as a would-be impresario who finds an operatic bee. Animators on this one include Fred Moore, Cliff Nordberg and Hal King.

Kinney later claimed that this was the best Mickey cartoon ever made (overrating it by a damn sight), and that he was told it wasn't finished because of its length. I don't see that as being the issue, honestly, because it's about as long--maybe even a little shorter--as a Donald Duck cartoon from the same time period. I think it's really that it just isn't that great a cartoon. A little above a lot of the 1950s cartoons--certainly better than Mickey and the Seal and The Simple Things--but it IS nice to see rough animation (I like seeing more of the animators' lines), and it's an interesting curiosity simply because it's so atypical of a Mickey Mouse cartoon, especially for the time period when he was mostly just setting up Pluto stories.

MasterChef

The only thing this show really, really does for me is make me hungry. After this week's episode, I just wanted a cheeseburger and a cupcake.

I still don't really have any favorites. For some reason, Tracy and Slim especially rub me the wrong way. There's just something about the both of them--this sort of implied arrogance in their skills despite not delivering as well as they claim they will--that irritates me. But no one irritates me as much as Dave, who is really just one of those guys who desperately acts out for attention. He's like a child with ADHD.

I want to like Jake, but he makes it difficult for me. Okay, Sharone is kind of a putz, obviously, but Jake's opinion that Sharone kisses too much ass is kind of tempered by Jake's big "I just don't want to let you down" moment. If you're going to come down on someone for being a brown-noser, make sure your own nose is clean first. I also didn't respect his bullheaded attitude during the burger competition. He couldn't appreciate that Gordon Ramsay was really trying to help him out by letting him taste the red team's burger. That burger was kicking their asses, and Jake just dismissed it immediately as bad and, when his team lost, continued to insist that his burger was the better burger. I hate that kind of attitude, because when it comes to food, it's not just about pride, it's about what people want to eat.

That's something I really like about Gordon Ramsay; he doesn't think he's got everything perfect and he's open to learning more. When I recently watched Gordon's Great Escape, I was really struck by his willingness to learn all about real curry and his constant admissions that he had no idea how delicious food was in India compared to the British version of Indian food. He said a few times that he was going to incorporate some of the dishes he found, and change how he did others based on what he learned. He even, though he's said many times that he despises vegetarianism, let down his guard at an ashram and went a day without meat and listened to their ideas about the vegetarian diet--a diet not based on morality but on ideas of health benefits.

So I could see him trying to get Jake to be open to changing his recipe, but Jake was too stubborn about it, and that was kind of disappointing. The red team changed their burger immediately when they realized it would be impossible to grill a burger with bleu cheese inside of it; they adapted quickly, and they made something that, frankly, looked delicious. Cheese, barbecue sauce, and bacon? They deserved the win. And that last minute idea to soak the burger in the bacon grease? Genius. I want that thing bad. Jake has to learn that a big part of this challenge was being able to make something the customer wanted, and truck drivers apparently aren't that into burgers with slaw on top. It's about results, Jake, not sticking to your guns when you're losing.

And I'm sorry, but raw onions don't belong on a burger.

I'm interested to see what Whitney's deal is, too. Sometimes she really does come across like the prodigy, the natural chef that they want to paint her as. And then sometimes she's just so obviously inexperienced and it really drags her down.

One other thing that bugged me (and this week, it actually has nothing to do with Joe Bastianich), and that was the pressure test. What the hell was Tony thinking? Why, if you were taking a test to determine your future on a competition show, would you do it the way Tony did? I mean, it doesn't bug me that he doesn't know the difference between a starfruit and a passion fruit, but it irritates the hell out of me that when he washed out he told us "I knew what so many other things are on that thing." Well, why the hell wouldn't you have named all of those things first, and then messed around with the stuff you weren't sure of? What a waste.

Oh, and I like Sheetal, but not because of anything to do with cooking...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

French Quarter Bookstore

I just really like this Dean Mitchell painting. Something about the angle of the light just really captures my eyes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happy 80th Birthday, Sean Connery

Film Week

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

THE GHOST WRITER (2010)
Interesting Polanski mystery about a writer (Ewan McGregor) hired to ghost write the memoirs of a former Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). With a lot of security around the memoirs and the mysterious death of the previous ghost writer, McGregor worries he's being followed by someone. Polanski takes the time to set up the characters and the situation, and there is a very good ending, especially that last shot. I think Polanski's films for the last 15 or so years have been pretty underrated; I liked this one quite a bit. It's refreshing to see something made for adults every so often... **** stars.

THE WOLFMAN (2010)
The latest remake of a Universal monster is, thankfully, a damn sight better than Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Van Helsing. I liked Joe Johnston's film--and the werewolf effects were pretty damn good--but I wish it had slowed down to breathe a little more. Granted, I'm not the biggest fan of werewolf movies, but too often it felt like the movie was rushing through its story. But there was a lot I liked here, including Benecio del Toro's performance, the Gothic atmosphere, and the Talbot Estate with its long corridors, dark staircases, and omnipresent cobwebs. And I do love it when Anthony Hopkins goes full-eccentric (if you take, as a I do, his Hannibal Lecter as a sort of OTT Universal monster, you can see where he's made for movies like these). Oh, and Art Malik as Hopkins' sikh manservant was a neat pulp touch. Emily Blunt, however, continues to bewilder me. Not as instantly forgettable as Rachel McAdams, but still pretty boring. Also: Why CGI all the animals? Distracting. *** stars.

BLACK DYNAMITE (2009)
Fantastic parody of blaxploitation flicks. Those guys who do the neverending Disaster Movie series (the Friday the 13th of comedy series, but much less fun) could take a lesson here in how spoofs are done. I like the silly touches, the digs at those old movies, like the (here, intentionally) bad acting, the bad lighting, the pointless montages, obvious stunt doubles, cheesy dialogue, etc. But at the same time, it also works as an arch action movie. Very smart and clever, it builds and builds in its silliness, but it's always funny. And, at 84 minutes, it wisely doesn't push its concept to a point where it gets irritating. Loved it. **** stars.

THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009)
Interesting, surprisingly effective film that I'm almost unsure how to describe. It's a horror movie. It borrows liberally from Rosemary's Baby, but not in a way that invited negative comparisons (or even a lot of notice, as I was really wrapped up in the story). It's set in the early 80s, and deliberately directed as though it was a film made at that time, which was pulled of so cleverly and so un-self-consciously that you don't even think about it after a while. You could almost believe that it was made in 1983, except that cameoing horror stars Dee Wallace, Tom Noonan, and Mary Woronov aren't young enough. And it's slow-moving, but in a deliberate way that creates an atmosphere of impending doom. Star Jocelin Donahue, as a college student who accepts a suspect babysitting job in order to make her rent, is very likable and sympathetic, and not in a cloying way, but in a way that comes just from spending time with her and knowing that, at some point, something horrible will happen to her. It creates this inevitability that you just can't look away from. I know it really seems like nothing happens for the first 45 minutes or so, but when things do make the turn we know it will make, we can't look away. An excellent horror exercise. And also, I have to mention Greta Gerwig in the best friend role, because she's also very likable. **** stars.

2012 (2009)
Okay, I knew it was going to be dumb, but I was at least hoping for fun dumb. Instead I got fun dumb and decent special effects for about the first hour, and then it becomes the film that won't die, another humorless, overlong Roland Emmerich exercise in social engineering through moralistic storytelling because, of course, disasters only exist as object lessons to make Joe Everyman, the divorced beta male with frustrated ambitions, bloom in a crisis. Meh. I really need to stop watching Roland Emmerich movies; I liked StarGate and Independence Day, but everything else has been a slide downhill. ** stars, almost exclusively for special effects. Danny Glover should be thankful this isn't a performance anyone will remember him for.

THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE (2009)
Interesting documentary about the creation of the Vogue September 2007 issue. The film is partially about Anna Wintour, but the real star here is Grace Coddington, former model turned creative director of Vogue. What this film really reveals to me is that there's really not much to Anna Wintour. She's living in the shadow of a famous father and floating through her magazine, bothered that her family doesn't respect her work (not even her daughter), but she doesn't exactly reveal herself to have great talent or instincts when it comes to her job. The best decisions are made by Grace Coddington, whose instincts are sharp and who seems to be the only person who will stand up to Wintour. She's the best asset Vogue has, and I don't think it's overstretching it to say that she's the real force behind Vogue's reputation (and Wintour's). The other thing I noticed was that no one seems to really be having a good time working at that office. *** stars.

TOY STORY 3 (2010)
I mentioned a ways back on this blog how surprised I was to see the preview for this movie and realize just how deeply I cared about Woody and Buzz. This final installment in the trilogy really pulled me in and made me worry about what was going to happen to them with Andy going off to college and sinister forces at work in the daycare they end up in. I think it's a good thing there's an 11-year gap between this and Toy Story 2; I was 19 when the original came out and just old enough to feel the pull of being attached to my childhood toys. Now, at the age of 34, the nostalgia isn't ever present, but the memory of how my things made me feel is strong enough (as you saw with my recent pining for Gizmo and the gratitude and peace I felt when my guardian angel procured one for me) that all three movies really hit me where I live. Especially here, where the climax brings things to their bleakest, and where the denouement made me cry for a multitude of reasons, one of which was the satisfaction of closure. A trilogy about loyalty and friendship, and also about maturation and memory, capped off in fine style. Good voice work from the regular cast, as well as newcomer to the series Ned Beatty. **** stars.

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF (2010)
Does this make sense? I wanted to like it more, but it didn't suck as badly as I thought it would. I won't comment too much on the adaptation, but on its merits and demerits as a movie. I will say, though, that I'm not a fan of aging the kids in the book into teenagers, because the movie decides to make them more sullen and, frankly, less likable. And, really, one of the main problems with the movie is that we barely get to know or care about Percy before he's thrust into this situation of finding out he's a demigod and going on a quest to find the stolen lightning bolt of Zeus. The main problem the movie has is that instead of being an adventure story about characters who become friends, it takes itself too seriously and tries way too hard to be cool and slick. Some of it is supremely silly--poor Catherine Keener, who shouldn't even be here, has to deliver some of the most impossible lines to make sound anything other than stupid--but it relaxes and haves some fun during the action sequences. Great special effects, but none of the immortal characters are all that interesting, except for Hades and Persephone, who are played humorously by Steve Coogan and Rosario Dawson (even though I had to ask aloud what the hell Persephone was doing in the Underworld on the summer solstice). ** stars.

Grizzled Baby

My Dad gave me The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for my birthday, and we've been playing it a lot the last two weeks with Becca on vacation. It very quickly surpassed The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as my new favorite video game. One of my favorite aspects of this series is that there are so many colorful supporting characters. And in this installment, colorful supporting characters have reached their peak in Grizzled Baby.

His name is actually Malo, and he began as a sort of cynical heckler in Link's home village, and has so far turned into a no-nonsense shopkeep. But Becca and I prefer to call him Grizzled Baby. He's just so damn grizzled, but deep down he's got a heart of gold. He's like the LQ Jones of Hyrule. I love Grizzled Baby so much that I actually call out "Grizzled Baby!" every time I see him. I don't know, I just love him. Sure, in this game Link can turn into a wolf, but the coolest thing here is Grizzled Baby.

Some things I say during gameplay: "I miss my boar." "I miss the Gorons." "I miss the monkeys." But topping them all? "I miss Grizzled Baby."

Grizzled Baby fo' life, yo.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kristen Bell Mondays


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Song of the Week: "Save Room"

John Legend from a few years ago. Just sounded really good today.

TV Report: Gordon's Great Escape

I've been watching a show on BBC America called Gordon's Great Escape. It's only three hour-long episodes. On the program, Gordon Ramsay travels through India seeking out local recipes and discovering authentic Indian cuisine. He says his favorite food is curry, and he's come to investigate how it's really made in its homeland.

It's a very interesting show made by someone who is very, very interested in food. I like Gordon Ramsay because, on series like this, you really do see a guy who doesn't take himself over-seriously, but takes food very seriously. It takes someone serious about food to do something like this. And it's fascinating watching him travel to remote areas in the Indian north or through the Mumbai slums or into small villages in the south all to look for new recipes and to discover the authenticity of his favorite food.

It's especially interesting to me because I've never had Indian food in my life. So I don't really understand it, if you get my meaning. I don't know how it comes together, or anything like that. So I was fascinated to watch the cooking on this show. I've never had curry, but this show made me very curious about having some.

Check it out if you have a couple of hours. There are only three episodes, and it's On-Demand, and it's endlessly intriguing.

Hoppy the Marvel Bunny

I love Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, and I adore this take on it by Adam Withers. This was just too sweet not to share.

Sunday Hottie 290

KRIS JENNER