Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Up-Hil Climb

Arianna Huffington sums up for me why I can't bring myself to support Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House. Her campaign's Orwellian recasting of herself from a black-and-white supporter of the Iraq War into a someone who is now and was always a vigorous opponent of this president and his policies leads one to ask what difference there is, really, between her and the Junta currently in charge.

That, plus I'm not crazy about our presidential timeline going "Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton."

Divorce Papers

Once again we interrupt this blog for a special word from your friend and mine, Brian Hall:

******

May 21, 2007

Dear The Simpsons,

I’ve always explained my relationship with The Simpsons like a marriage. It was a torrid romance during the 90’s - one where we grew together and I learned much from my beloved bride. Then, in early 2000, my wife developed a ‘drinking problem’ and would start spouting weak imitations of her normally insightful and witty observations. She became an embarrassment at parties and friends of my wife - or ‘fans’ if you will - began to stop hanging out with us. I supported my wife through her rocky struggle because I had invested so much time into our relationship and was not yet ready to give up on her.

Every now and then she would show signs of recovery but it was last night’s 400th episode that proved to me that her problems run too deep, her disease at this point is incurable and that we must divorce for irreconcilable differences. It makes me sad thinking back on the early years of our relationship. Every night, reruns act as a photo album showcasing the joy that once was.

My wife, The Simpsons, was smart, funny, and had her pulse on the state of the country and even the American family. Cynicism mixed with satire and sentiment is a damn-near impossible feat to pull off but she did it and she did it well. Now she settles for Homer getting poked in the eye, among other very tired and very unfunny violent circumstances, and Marge saying something that rhymes. Remember when Itchy & Scratch used to be the sole receivers of cartoon violence on the show, reminding us that they were ‘fake’ and the Simpsons were ‘real?’

Don’t get me started with her take on politics. Having Homer repeatedly saying the word "liberals" with disdain (over and over, waiting for it to be funny), Flanders putting papers that say ‘Jesus’ onto windshields and taking digs at the Fox Network is not ‘important commentary,’ it’s lazy, it’s rehashed and it’s embarrassing. Republicans-are-dumb jokes are about as insightful and fresh as men-leaving-the-toilet-seat-up gags. My current mistress, South Park, has fortunately picked up the ball on this one. Hell, they even handled the 24 parody better.

I can’t believe I have stuck around for 400 episodes but I think it was necessary for me to see that it is time for us to part ways. I can never discredit you for all the good you’ve done for me and will always visit reruns to remember the good times. Scratch that, the great times.

I will miss you and truly do wish you the best of luck.

Your Former Husband,

Joey Joe Joe Shabadoo

******

It's a shame these kids couldn't make it work.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Recommended Reading

Here's, of all people, Pat Buchanan, dissecting the media-spin around one of the definitive moments in last week's Republican candidate debate in South Carolina. More and more you start to realize that our electoral process is less about choosing the best man for the job than it is about selecting from a list of several pre-fab, pre-approved candidates. How very depressing.

Spread the Word

Alberto Gonzales needs to get gone. Here's why, here's why, and here's why:



Sign the petition here.

Joker's Wild

Click here to see your first glimpse of Heath Ledger as the Joker in next year's The Dark Knight, the sequel to Batman Begins.

Pleasant, no?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Rambo Rambling

Here's our first look at cut-together footage from the upcoming John Rambo, the fourth film in Sly Stallone's other franchise. Not so much a trailer, but a work-in-progress assemblage to show exhibitors. That said, I gotta say, as much as I'm looking forward to this, and hoping it's good, I really am not blown away by this.

The long-and-short of the story is that the aged Rambo comes out of retirement to rescue some Christian missionaries from Burmese pirates. Yeah, I know, riveting. Now, it's no secret that my favorite film in the series is the first one, First Blood, and I was hoping that this would get back those dramatic roots.

Unfortunately, from this footage it looks like exactly what I feared it would be -- a too-old Stallone traipsing running around the jungle dispatching various foes in ways both gory and cliched. That, plus the shaky-cam, HD-video feel betrays the movie's low-budget roots.

Anyway, check out the clip and decide for yourself. Oh, and for you Angel & Buffy watchers, that's Julie Benz (Darla) as the blonde aid worker.

The Blair Wish

As you may have heard last week, British PM Tony Blair, who spent most of the past six years effectively serving as George W.'s sock-puppet, announced his resignation effective next month. While there is some good that Blair no doubt accomplished during his tenure (something which we really can't say about Dim Son), there's also little doubt that it will be for his willful tethering to failing and failed policies of the Bush Administration that Blair will forever be associated in the annals of history. To reflect on Blair's tarnished and tattered legacy, here's British journalist Robert Fisk.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

SPIDER-MAN 3 - Open Thread

Well, I've been trying to set down for over a week now and get some thoughts together regarding Spider-Man 3, and with every day that goes by it's looking less and less certain that it'll happen, so thought I'd do something a little different with this one and open it up for discussion.

My thoughts in a nutshell: Too many villains, too long, and far, far too much Kirsten Dunst. Thomas Hayden Church turned in a great performance as the conflicted Sandman, and I would've loved to see more of him. Venom (never referred to by that name) shouldn't even have been in the movie for the short shrift they gave him. And what the heck was Gwen Stacy doing in this thing? Overall, just a tired, weak ending to what had been an exemplary series up to this point.

But hey, enough from me, what did everyone think? Leave comments below and I'll expand on my thoughts as well.

Recommended Reading

Frank Rich has another can't-miss column up that examines the spectacle of the first GOP presidential debate from a week-and-a-half ago.

Farewell Falwell

Evangelist icon Jerry Falwell is dead at 73.

Over the years, I haven't had many kind things to say about him, which should come as no surprise given the unkind things he's had to say about others. But a life is a life, and there'll be time to revisit that ground later.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bill Moyers Returns

Bill Moyers has always been an especially welcome journalistic presence, bringing more nuance and subtlety to complex discussions than we're perhaps used to in the rapid-fire talking head world that unfortunately so characterizes television news today. Moyers recently made a welcome return to the public airwaves after a brief sabbatical, and started out the gate with a doozy of an investigative piece -- an hour-plus documentary entitled "Buying the War," which casts its gaze squarely at the complacent and complicit media that allowed the Bush Junta to roll-out its pie-in-the-sky war plans in '01, '02, and '03, with barely a question mark raised in dissent.

Naturally this doco has caused much consternation from those who accuse Moyers of finger-pointing (i.e. Bill O'Reilly and Fox News), and while I certainly believe it's agenda-driven (as any documentary would be), I don't think one can accuse Moyers of being partisan, as it's more a mentality he's taking aim at, one that exists irrespective of affiliation or leaning. This is some real riveting stuff, and I've been meaning to post this for more than a week now, but as is often the case, life tends to get in the way. Regardless, you can view the documentary in its entirety at the PBS website here. It's truly not to be missed.

While we're on the subject of Bill Moyers, also worthy of a look is this installment of his weekly Journals show, featuring his in-depth sit-down with Daily Show host Jon Stewart. One need only watch Stewart's nightly faux-newscast to know that he's obviously an intelligent guy with a sparkling wit, but it's nice to see him get the chance to be intelligent and witty in a non-comedic setting. Not only does Jon offer some insights into the process that goes into the nightly creation of his show, but he also comments on his recent interview with John McCain that saw the Republican senator have to answer some far tougher questions than he's faced on "real" news shows. Again, not to be missed.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Adaptations

It seems like the run-up to Friday's release of Spider-Man 3 (expect my review this weekend, by the way, assuming other things don't come up baby-wise) has seen our cup runneth over with all kinds of comic book movie-related news. First up, you can see the final trailer for June's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer here, courtesy of Apple. I wasn't blown away by the first one, and the industry buzz around the sequel doesn't exactly have me jumping for joy, but, I gotta admit, they shore did make the Surfer look purty.

Moving on, last year Warner Bros. announced that it was inaugurating a new line of comic-based direct-to-DVD animated features. Well, that roll-out begins this fall with Superman: Doomsday, based on the celebrated "Death of Superman" storyline from the halcyon days of 1992. Cast includes Adam Baldwin (late of Firefly/Serenity) as Superman, James Marsters (late of Buffy/Angel) as Lex Luthor, and Anne Heche (late of Ellen Degeneres/women) as Lois Lane. Check out a behind-the-scenes featurette here, and the trailer here.

Lastly, but most definitely not leastly, here's our first full look at the very nice Mark III armor for Iron Man, by way of Entertainment Weekly.