March 16, 2006
Could they be on to something? (Satire Alert!!)
The blond star of the film "The Dukes of Hazzard" still plans to visit Washington on Thursday to lobby members of Congress on behalf of Operation Smile, a non-profit venture offering free plastic surgery for disadvantaged children overseas with facial deformities.Conservatives like myself are often quick to complain when Left-wing actors use their celebrity to promote the Democrat Party. Let's be consistent here. In my opinion, Simpson used something in this situation that you don't see very often in Hollywood: good judgment.
People close to Simpson said she declined a request to appear that same evening at the gala fund-raiser of the National Republican Congressional Committee -- even after she was offered some private face time with Bush -- because Operation Smile is a non-partisan group.
"It just feels wrong," one Simpson insider told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that the actress keeps her political views private. "She would love to meet the president and talk about Operation Smile ... but she can't do it at a fund-raiser for the Republican Party."
Promoting a worthy cause like Operation Smile is commendable. And identifying with one party of the other isn't a big deal. But when a celebrity is out their shilling for their party of choice, that's just tacky. We expect entertainment out of these folks, not preaching.
And, honestly, just appearing at a party fundraiser doesn't even come close to the kind of in-your-face political shenanigans that so many Liberal celebrities engage in. But Simpson didn't want to potentially taint the non-partisan nature of the cause she is supporting. Good for her.
March 15, 2006
WI Sen. Russ Feingold's recent "censure" stunt pushed the envelope a little further on Monday and the censure/impeachment movement in the Democrat party is growing to the point where anyone with Presidential aspirations is caught between a rock and a hard place. The editors of the WSJ's OpinionJournal.com observe that this will come to a head in this year's mid-term elections:
In other words, everything that Mr. Bush has been accused of during the last five years, no matter how Orwellian or thoroughly refuted, will be trotted out again and used as impeachment fodder. And lest you think this could never happen, Judiciary is the House committee through which any formal impeachment resolution would be introduced and proceed. As the country heads toward 2008 and a Democratic nomination fight, John Kerry and Hillary Rodham Clinton would be hard-pressed to avoid going along with Mr. Feingold, Al Gore, and others feeding the bile of the censure/impeach brigades.A.J. Strata has coined a phrase for this litmus test for the Democrats this year:
Which brings us back to Mr. Feingold's public service in floating his "censure" gambit now. He's doing voters a favor by telling them before November's election just how Democrats intend to treat a wartime President if they take power.
Not only do they want to block his policies, they also plan to rebuke and embarrass him in front of the world and America's enemies. And they want to do so not because there is a smidgen of evidence that he's abused his office or lied under oath, but because they think he's been too energetic in using his powers to defend America. By all means, let's have this impeachment debate before the election, so voters can know what's really at stake.
"As I predicted, the test for all Democrat candidates in all races (which is necessary to push impeachment) will be the Feingold standard...The Democrats are now caught between their rhetoric and their political survival!"As I posted earlier: Bring.It.On.
March 14, 2006
Liberal Hollywood makes Liberal movies on the cheap. They hype them up, get lots of free publicity and have a narrow, yet loyal, market: Blue State America and the International community. Put it another way:
One company thatÂ’s adopted Â“Fahrenheit Â”Â’s model is Participant Productions, founded by eBayÂ’s Jeff Skoll. Participant co-produced Â“Syriana,Â” Â“Good Night, and Good Luck,Â” Â“North Country,Â” and soon will release the Al Gore documentary Â“An Inconvenient TruthÂ” and Richard LinklaterÂ’s adaptation of Â“Fast Food Nation.Â” None of these films cost very much (Â”Good NightÂ” cost only $6 million), and are easy films to sell to the sort of people who read The Huffington Post or The Daily Kos. Crazy as this may sound, this business model is increasingly making sense in HollywoodÂ’s competitive marketplace.But there's an upside to this trend, writes Apuzzo - one in which Conservative filmmakers can capitalize.
So hereÂ’s the bad news: Hollywood doesnÂ’t need the Heartland anymore. ThereÂ’s basically no pressure for Hollywood to change what itÂ’s doing, because there are plenty of Blue State audiences and DVD sales out there to make even something like the gender-bending Â“TransamericaÂ” a hit, so long as the film doesnÂ’t cost too much.
IÂ’ve heard conservatives tell me for years that Â‘market forcesÂ’ will eventually force Hollywood to change, become more mainstream. The argument goes something like this: HollywoodÂ’s product will eventually become so toxic, so nakedly political, that there will eventually be a Â‘backlashÂ’ from the public - at which point things in Tinseltown will magically change for the better.
Guess what? It ainÂ’t happening. Hollywood simply doesnÂ’t need the Red States any more. HollywoodÂ’s more interested in how a film plays in Mexico or France these days than in Kansas. After all, Charles Krauthammer may hate Â“SyrianaÂ” - but the Germans and the Brits love it! So do the Spanish and the Italians. ThatÂ’s the global economy for you - HollywoodÂ’s now out-sourcing its audience.
Phillip AnschutzÂ’s Walden Media turned a lot of heads in conservative circles last year by pumping about $180 million into Â“The Chronicles of Narnia.Â” It was a great, successful experiment - but you wonÂ’t see another Â“NarniaÂ” until 2007 - and in the meantime Hollywood will go about its usual business, merrily bashing Bush.Interesting concept. We shall see.
AnschutzÂ’s $180 million could just as easily support twenty films - maybe about the War on Terror? Maybe about loopy Marxist academics? Maybe about snotty West Hollywood liberals who drive gas-guzzling SUVs? AnythingÂ’s possible.
WouldnÂ’t it be fun if a conservative company followed the model of Participant Productions, and pumped out a few low-budget conservative films each year? Such a company could kick-start a conservative film revolution. It would be a refreshing change from what weÂ’ve become accustomed to - and wouldnÂ’t it be great for our side to make George Clooney angry for once, rather than the other way around?
Jason's article is also posted at Townhall.com.
More "...in 30 Seconds" bunny cartoons here.
March 13, 2006
Only an idiot would attempt to make a president the enemy during wartime, especially for an action that he performed in defense of the country. In fact, the 9/11 Commission specifically scolded the Bush and Clinton administrations for not allowing the NSA to do its job and surveil international communications. The Republicans would be happy to have that debate, especially with someone who wouldn't vote to continue allowing counterterrorism agents to use the same legal tools provided to investigators in racketeering and child-pornography cases.So not only does Feingold put his colleagues in an uncomfortable position, but when they all pick up and move to the other lunch table the moonbats will attack them for being "cowards". The Senator from Wisconsin just moved to the head of the Democrat Presidential pack. This is win-win for the GOP. To this I say "Oh, Senator. BRING.IT.ON!"
Fortunately for the Republicans, Feingold demonstrated that he is that big a fool. Other Democrats were not as sanguine about the proposal, sensing that scolding a president over a program supported by a solid majority of the electorate would fall flat with swing voters.
Today the new post-Milosevic arrangements in the Balkans are imperfect, sectarian tensions are raw and democracy is fragile. Western troops are still needed on the ground in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. But no one seriously questions whether outside intervention was the right thing to do. The tragedy of the Balkans is that it took so long for the West to generate the nerve to stop the man who died on the weekend as a largely forgotten war criminal.Bush critics love to assert that Saddam Hussein wasn't a direct threat to the United States. As if Milosevic was. These same asshats don't run around saying "Clinton Lied!", do they? But then, politically, there's no reason for them to.
March 12, 2006
"Wow, major miscalculation by the Left Coast producers, judging by the reaction to the season ender across the Web! I won't spoil the plot, but the producers obviously went after Bush - to make him Baltar - and instead we see what would've happened under Gore or Kerry. And that's what people think and are angry about, apparently! They're also miffed that the Cylons are Muslims, or so they think. (Well, they do believe that their God resurrects them immediately after they commit suicide or die in holy battle, I guess.) Still, maybe it's just a TV show, people."Interesting observations, but I have some of my own.
First, I don't look around the internet or on message boards for reaction to the show (don't have time) so what the general consensus is among fans regarding the season finale may very well be what the commenter describes. I just don't know.
Second, I don't infer any political allegory in this show at all. Ronald D. Moore no doubt has his own personal political feelings but (unless he's mentioned something on the commentary podcasts) I'm not aware that he's ever made them known. I don't think that just because the guy's from Hollywood that he thinks one way of the other. This is a different take on an already established plot idea. And certainly you can see some similarities with the current GWOT and the approach that the Bush Administration takes in fighting it.
But my own opinion is that Moore and Company haven't used the series to editorialize about current (or historical) events. And believe me I have a very low threshold for noticing that kind of thing (perhaps too low).
My take on the show is that its central premise is an examination of what it means to be human, contrasted against the culture of the Cylons. Human beings are flawed. They make decisions (for the most part) based on what they feel is the right thing to do. Sometimes they make good decisions, sometimes bad decisions. In each case, however, these decisions have consequences. And I feel that the show tries to look at what those consequences might be. I think it's more a case of "what if" than "this or that is necessarily right or wrong". While we have seen characters acting in a way they're not proud of, Moore recognizes that if a person's survival (much less the survival of the human race) is at risk there are certain unpleasant things that must be done.
I also think that as the series progresses we may be looking at an examination of what it means to be Cylon.
I don't think the show's creators are trying to make the Cylons out to be a version of the Islamofascists and I don't see Baltar (or Roslin) as representative of any particular U.S. politician. And I think that's one of the reasons that the show is so popular.
The best fiction tries to steer clear of particular allegory but rather presents the material in a way that can be interpreted as many different ways as there are people to interpret it. J.R.R. Tolkien was insistent that nothing in his work "The Lord of the Rings" was allegorical in any way to human events. This didn't stop speculation that the Ring was supposed to represent the A-bomb or that Sauron was supposed to be Hitler. But the story has been so popular for so long because each generation has been able to infer its own interpretation rather than read into anything that was implied by the author.
Okay, I'm rambling. But I think this series is unique because it is a human story and one that people can relate to because the characters are so much like us: flawed. If there's any similarity between the closing scenes of Friday's episode it would be that the Cylons are like the Nazi's occupying France in World War II. What will be interesting is not that there will be a resistance, but rather how the characters will all play a part in it.
As to Baltar, we know he is motivated primarily by self-interest. But what will he determine is in his best interest? Will he feel its better to play it safe and submit completely to the Cylons, going "Vichy" on humanity? Perhaps, but what kind of life would that be for him? He doesn't like to take orders or live that way someone else tells him. He may decide to be duplicitous and put on one face for the Cylons while all the while helping the resistance in the hope that one day they may be able to escape this fate.
Anyway, at this point I trust Moore to be even-handed in the telling of the story. As far as I'm concerned, he's given me no reason not to.
UPDATE: 3/13/06 - 1:30pm: MOORE SPEAKS!
There is an interview with Ronald D. Moore in Now Playing Magazine published on Saturday. Bottom line: this isn't a dream sequence or an alternate reality. This is what it is.
Â“The end of the season is quite a shake-up,Â” acknowledges Moore. Â“The Cylons show up and all hell breaks loose. Essentially, season three is going to deal with the Cylon occupation of the Colonials on New Caprica. The sort of archetype that weÂ’re talking about is like Vichy France: ThereÂ’s a Colonial government run by President Baltar that is collaborating with the Cylons, while the humans put together an insurgent resistance against the occupation. ItÂ’s a pretty big twist.Â”So unless Moore is lying through his teeth, I don't see any parallels with any of the events of today being played out in the series. He also says that he'll eventually get the Colonials back out into space and that the evolution of Baltar's character will be to a "darker place".
One other note about the long wait for Season Three. Season One was essentially a short season of 13 episodes (15 if you lump in the two-part miniseries). It ran in the U.K. starting in October 2004. Episodes in the U.S. ran from January to March 2005. Season Two, also "short" by industry standards, was broken up into two runs of ten episodes each - July-September 2005 and January-March 2006. My guess is that Season Three will be the first "normal" season the show has had and going forward they will conform to the traditional Fall through Spring schedule that most other television shows follow. Plus, the extra couple of months will give Moore and his writers longer to figure out how they'll get out of this one.
March 11, 2006
Birth Name: Same
Birth Date: 11/8/67
Age Today: 38
Birthplace: San Francisco, CA
80's Crush Because: Okay, I know you're saying "She's not an Eighties chick! She's a Nineties chick!". Not so fast there bub. Before she hit the big time playing Allison Parker on "Melrose Place", Courtney caught my eye in 1987 as the surfer girl Pam in "Summer School" and the love interest of chief nerd Lewis Skolnick (Robert Carradine) in "Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds In Paradise", a decent but still inferior sequel to the original film.
Other Notable Roles: Courtney played Georgia Thomas on "Ally McBeal" from 1997-2000, a thankless role playing a lawyer who was perpetually cranky because her husband still pined for the anorexic title character (Calista Flockhart).
First Real Acting Gig: She appeared as the character Stacy Hamilton on the TV version of the hit comedy "Fast Times At Ridgemont High". The show's title was shortened to just "Fast Times" and, thankfully, the show's run was shortened to less than one season.
Career Moment She'd Probably Like To Forget: In 1995, she did an awful made-for-TV movie called "Beauty's Revenge" about an obsessive small town beauty queen who goes to great lengths to keep the love of her life from reconciling with his ex-girlfriend.
Interesting Factoids: From birth, Courtney used the last name of her mother, therapist Lora Thorne-Smith. Her on-screen romance with Andrew Shue on "Melrose Place" took place off-screen as well but it only lasted a year. If it seems the Courtney's breasts have gotten smaller over the years, you're not losing your mind. She once measured a 32DD (queue Glenn Quagmire: "Heh, heh. Oooooh, Yeah!") but is now a C cup, which she attributes to a redistribution of her body fat through her yoga regimen.
Still Crushin'?: Yes. Her current stint on "According To Jim" gives me false hope that a hottie like this could end up with an average-Joe shlub like me.
Crush Meter: 9 out of 10
And guess what ladies? Sadie at AgentBedhead has her own 80's crush up just for you.
March 10, 2006
Episode #35: "Lay Down Your Burdens (II)"
Baltar captures the vote, leaving Roslin to consider stealing the election when she starts suspecting he's collaborating with the Cylons.
10pm Sci-Fi ** This is a 90 minute episode! **
Oh, piss up a rope! OCTOBER? This is worse than the Soprano's! Frak Me!
h/t to: MFSIL
For your enjoyment. NSFW (best use headphones)
A German man playing with his brother's Jack Russell was hospitalised after the dog sunk its teeth into his penis.OK, I'd like to know:
Daniel Dietmaier, from Dueren, said the dog nearly bit it off and after his brother's girlfriend told it to "attack" as a joke.
He is demanding substantial damages, saying the woman did not even helped him as he lay on the floor in agony after beating off the dog - because she had collapsed on the floor laughing.
1) exactly what was the nature of the "playing" going on with the dog at the time?,
2) why the guy's dork was available to be bitten? and
3) what was his girlfriend doing prior to her little "joke"?
On second thought, nah. I don't want to know.
Rich Galen has a theory that makes a heck of a lot of sense:
Yesterday the company issued a press release in which it said (according to an AP piece by Dave Espo and Andrew Taylor): "DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations Â… to a United States entity."Here's where Galen is going with all this: he believes that, at the end of the day, there will be a "U.S. entity" running the ports in question but that entity will be a new U.S. subsidiary of DPW that "would only be connected to Dubai via a checking account into which the profits would be put."
Let us assume that the folks in Dubai didn't sit around drafting this language during morning coffee, waiting for the latest price of oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Let us assume, rather, that hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of dollars worth of lawyers, lobbyists, former Senators and their former staffers, PR types, and the head guys from Dubai thought very, very carefully about this language.
Do you see the word "sell" in there?
Why use the term "transfer" instead of "sell," unless the drafters were being paid by the letter?
And to whom will they "sell" these assets? If there were an American firm interested in operating these terminals why didn't they join Dubai and Singapore in the bidding contest which had been going on since late September 2005?
Although Rep. Peter King insists that such an entity have "no links to DP World", there are plenty of high-powered lawyers who can craft something that the deal's opponents could probably live with. So everybody wins, eh?
Not exactly. While DPW will be seen as the loser in this situation, the reality is that from an investment point of view what they would have is comparable to what they were going to have.
No, there are only two losers in the situation. The first is the relationship between the U.S. and the UAE. Hopefully, in the long run, this relationship won't be so adversely affected that we can still count on assistance from Dubai and other Arab States in the GWOT.
The other loser? As Galen observes, it's the Democrats "who are now left to sift through the wreckage of their glee to see if even a minor political point remains to be scored."
March 09, 2006
Schadenfreude is too fun.
But it's true. Sharon Stone has confirmed that she does in fact appear nude in "Basic Instinct 2" which opens March 31.
Now, this should be interesting because Stone, 48 years young, is not quite the hot siren we saw in the original "Basic Instinct" of fourteen years ago (go watch the Quicktime trailer at Apple.com and see for yourself). I don't mean to say she looks bad or anything but will the prospect of seeing a more...ahem...mature Ms. Stone in her birthday suit be one of the major factors driving the box office numbers? Because from the preview the film looks awful.
Will the film get a candidate for Best Make-up? Or can Sharon still knock our socks off? We shall see.
Although the subject of the Academy Awards has been written about to death, she is able to express so clearly what so many of us feel about today's film industry. There are so many pull quotes I can only urge you to read the entire column.
But here's the closing section that addresses George Clooney's self-aggrandizing acceptance speech as it applies to Hollywood in general:
"But Mr. Clooney's remarks were also part of the tinniness of the age, and of modern Hollywood. I don't think he was being disingenuous in suggesting he was himself somewhat heroic. He doesn't even know he's not heroic. He thinks making a movie in 2005 that said McCarthyism was bad is heroic.To quote Nirvana: "Here we are now. Entertain us."
How could he think this? Maybe part of the answer is in this: The Clooney generation in Hollywood is not writing and directing movies about life as if they've experienced it, with all its mysteries and complexity and variety. In an odd way they haven't experienced life; they've experienced media. Their films seem more an elaboration and meditation on media than an elaboration and meditation on life. This is how he could take such an unnuanced, unsophisticated, unknowing gloss on the 1950s and the McCarthy era. He just absorbed media about it. And that media itself came from certain assumptions and understandings, and myths.
Most Americans aren't leading media, they're leading lives. It would be nice to see a new respect in Hollywood for the lives they live. It would be nice to see them start to understand that rediscovering the work of, say, C.S. Lewis, and making a Narnia film, is not "giving in" to the audience but serving it. It isn't bad to look for and present good material that is known to have a following. It's a smart thing to do. It's why David O. Selznick bought "Gone With the Wind": People were reading it. It was his decision to make it into a movie from which he would profit that gave Hattie McDaniel her great role. Taboos are broken by markets, not poses."
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