Monday, November 30, 2009

Iron Man Too

Here's the first round in the eventual marketing fusillade for next summer's Iron Man 2 -- the teaser poster. For those not versed in Marvel minutia, the red-and-gold guy in front is still the titular titan inhabited by Robert Downey, and the guy behind him is trusty sidekick James Rhodes (played by Terrence Howard last time, Don Cheadle here), a.k.a. War Machine, a.k.a. Another Toy to License.

Given the overwhelming critical and popular success of the first flick, they really have the wind at their backs for this installment, and are well positioned to set up the impending Avengers jam-flick they're planning. Jump over to Yahoo! for more pics from the sequel, including looks at Mickey Rourke as the villainous Whiplash, and Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kirk Out

JJ Abrams' Star Trek reboot hit DVD last Tuesday, and I was gladdened to see that it held up just as well on the small(er) screen as it did on the big. Now that the final box office tally has officially crowned it king of the movie Treks, talk has inevitably shifted to the sequel, and I'm sure we'll have plenty of grist between now and the planned summer '012 release of Star Trek 2 (or 12, if you want to get technical).

Still, one piece of the puzzle that's only been hinted at up 'till now in various interviews from various parties is the role Team Abrams had planned for once and former Captain Kirk William Shatner. Now the scene written for the Boston Legal Emmy winner has emerged online, and is pasted below. This takes place near the end of the film, during the scene where OG Spock (Leonard Nimoy) meets Spock 2.0 (Zachary Quinto) for the first time. Given what was actually made, I suppose the usual spoiler warnings should be considered in effect. Consider yourself duly warned:

Recommended Reading

The departure a few weeks back of Team Obama's top legal eagle Greg Craig (whose name sounds like a Mad Men character, by the way), marked what was probably the highest profile parting-of-ways so far in this administration. Although much was left unsaid in the immediate aftermath of Craig's resignation, the behind-the-scenes story -- told here courtesy of Time -- gives us one of the clearer insights so far into how this president tries to tow the line between progress and pragmatism, perhaps to the detriment of both.

Moyers Moves On

Since its premiere on PBS in early '07, Bill Moyers Journal, the weekly discussion program on current affairs, has been an oasis of journalistic nuance in a desert of a opinionated demagoguery. Thus, Moyers' announcement this week that he'll be retiring the show this April comes as a real blow. From his in-depth look at the run-up to the Iraq invasion (which I first mentioned back here) to his analysis of last summer's health care town halls, Moyers' perspective was unabashedly progressive, but his ability to treat complex issues with complexity set him apart (and continues to set him apart) from his fellow journos. While I'm sure Moyers will continue to pop up from time to time with special projects either on PBS or elsewhere, there's no question that the weekly Journal's absence will leave a large void to be filled.

Rogurgitation

I want to say right off the bat that I'm extremely averse to revisiting the insanity that is the Sarah Palin Crazy Train. Not just the woman herself but the flock that idolizes her.

Still, with her memoir's release this week and the subsequent book tour drawing the moths to the flame, we're once again subjected to stories like this, with a seventeen year old Palinista (Palinaut?) called out by a reporter on the issues she's espousing, and in true maverick fashion, the teen blames the so-called liberal media for playing "gotcha." It'd be comical if it wasn't so commonplace.

Call it the Palin Effect, if you like: Be proud to be ignorant. When the facts don't line up with your ideology, chuck the facts. Here's the always-illustrative Matt Taibbi, with whom I agree entrely in this regard (apologies in advance for the blue language):

Complaining about the assholes we interact with on a daily basis is the #1 eternal pastime of the human race. We all do it, and we get to do it every day, because the world is full of assholes. Me personally, I waste an enormous amount of time seething over people who get onto crowded subway cars with big backpacks on and/or talk in the Amtrak quiet car and/or drive 57 mph in the fast lane or, my personal favorite, walking with glacial slowness in a horizontal row four overweight tourists across on a New York City sidewalk. We all get into furious arguments at work that make us want to explode in self-righteous fury (in my office dramas I always realize I was actually the asshole a day or so later) and when we get home from work, this is usually what our loved ones hear about for at least the first hour or so.

Not health care, not financial regulatory reform, not Iraq or Afghanistan, but — assholes.

Sarah Palin is on an endless crusade against assholes. It’s all she thinks about. She doesn’t really have any political ideas, in the classic sense of the word — in fact the only thing resembling real political convictions in Going Rogue revolve around the Trans-Alaska pipeline and how awesome she thinks it is.

This is why I have such a problem with labeling Palin's appeal as being aimed towards conservatives. Conservatism may be a movement with which my disagreements are legion, but there's enough policy grounding there to at least begin a serious issue-based conversation. What Palin represents is something else entirely: Mediocrity writ large. That can't be something true conservatives are thrilled to have associated with them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Afgone

Tom Engelhardt lays out what the prez should say in regards to his still-percolating Afghanistan strategy, but because of either limitations of the establishment or of the self, probably won't.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Base.

A new survey from Public Policy Polling provides some insights into self-identified Republicans that are, if not staggering, certainly instructive in regards to the mindset that's driving the right wing base these days. Here's the breakdown, courtesy of Talking Points Memo:

The poll asked this question: "Do you think that Barack Obama legitimately won the Presidential election last year, or do you think that ACORN stole it for him?" The overall top-line is legitimately won 62%, ACORN stole it 26%.

Among Republicans, however, only 27% say Obama actually won the race, with 52% -- an outright majority -- saying that ACORN stole it, and 21% are undecided. Among McCain voters, the breakdown is 31%-49%-20%. By comparison, independents weigh in at 72%-18%-10%, and Democrats are 86%-9%-4%.

At this point, I think it's safe to say the inmates have taken over the asylum. More at the TPM link above, including the distinction between this finding, and those Dems who feel that the 2K election was stolen from Gore by W.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hannitized

Bringing this week's Jon Stewart/Sean Hannity dance to a fitting conclusion, here's Jon's acknowledgment of Hannity's acknowledgment. About sums it up, don't you think?

Imprisoned

AMC's new take on perennial fave The Prisoner starts this Sunday, running six hours over three nights. And as mentioned here previously, it may look intriguing, but as with most such efforts (see: V), it's usually hard to top the original when it comes to, well, originality, and early reviews seem to be bearing this out. Still, to celebrate the '09 version's impending *ahem* Arrival (that's a Prisoner pun so nerdy that even I feel embarrassed), Topless Robot has compiled a list of the series' most memorable moments. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Owning Up

In regards to my post yesterday, with The Daily Show poking Sean Hannity with a stick for some editorial legerdemain during his coverage of last week's Republican healthscare rally, my gut told me that the Fox yakker wouldn't even acknowledge the catch and just roll right past it. Well, my gut was wrong. Last night Hannity did own up to the (according to him) "inadvertent mistake," and therefore I'm acknowledging his acknowledgment:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Going Nuclear

Every couple of years, depending on which party is holding the keys and which party is in the backseat, the "nuclear option" -- ending the ability to filibuster -- gets floated by various congressionals as a way of ending perceived obstructionism from the minority. This would eliminate the need for sixty votes to end debate and allow for a simple majority vote on most major legislation.

Just a few years back, when the Dems were using the maneuver to roadblock various Bush appointees, the Republican leadership of the time, led by Bill Frist, came pretty darn close to going nuclear and doing away with the supermajority. At the time, cooler heads prevailed, aware no doubt that the party in charge one day won't be, and that's when they'll wish they had it, and I pretty much agreed for that very reason.

However, thanks mostly to wish-washy Dems like Lincoln and Nelson, not to mention the dependably undependable Mr. Lieberman, that sixty vote threshold is sure doing a hell of a job squeezing any actual reform out of health care reform. Thanks to this and many more examples, Steven Pearlstein makes a pretty compelling argument that if there's any hope to be had of things actually getting done in Washington, now is as good a time as any to drop the bomb on the filibuster.

From THE ONION...

These Obama-as-comic-nerd Onion stories are always great.
Barack Obama Names Alan Moore Official White House Biographer

WASHINGTON—At a press conference Monday, President Obama announced that he had appointed legendary comic book writer Alan Moore as the official biographer of his time in the White House. "As evidenced by his epic run on Swamp Thing #21–64, Moore's deft hand with both sociopolitical commentary and metaphysical violence makes him an ideal choice to chronicle my time in office," Obama said of the author of Watchmen and From Hell, whom he reportedly chose over others on a short list of potential biographers that included Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, and Bob Woodward. "I look forward to seeing the kinds of subplots he will surely weave throughout the main narrative of my presidency, and how he'll tie them all back together at the end in a way that just elevates the thing to a whole other level. God, that guy is the master." Although Obama has not yet settled on a publisher for his White House biography, he is reportedly leaning toward DC's Vertigo imprint for its creator-friendly ethos, high production values, and willingness to publish content for mature readers.

Watching the Watchers

Jon Stewart catches Hannity with his finger on the "edit" button. We already know that the op-ed portion of Fox News programming has, shall we say, an elastic relationship with the truth, but geez, it's like they're not even trying anymore.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Recommended Reading

Frank Rich post-games last Tuesday's election, with some advice for the teabaggers as well as for Team Obama.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Jaytalking

Jay Leno is someone who I've always admired even when I've been cool to his TV work. While the nightly monologue and various comedy bits play a little too often to the cheap seats, Leno is, by all accounts, an incredibly gracious and humble guy, and his nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic is an example anyone can learn from. His current situation provides ample evidence of both.

Even with a decade-plus reign as late night TV's undisputed ratings king hosting The Tonight Show, he seems to have been set up to fail by NBC with the current Jay Leno Show, airing weeknights during the 10 o'clock hour. The thinking behind the strip appears to have been motivated less by any artistic calling then by simple economics, not to mention keeping Leno from bolting to another network a la David Letterman fifteen years ago.

The resultant show is a weird hybrid of Leno's strongest Tonight bits (monologue, Headlines, etc.) and some new stuff that frankly needs to be either tweaked or tossed (I'm looking at you, Green Car Challenge). Still, even with his current show only firing at about 60-75% efficiency, I'm genuinely rooting for the guy to make it work and somehow pull it off against the admittedly high odds. This interview is one of the reasons why.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Recommended Reading

There's an election coming up this Tuesday to decide congressional representation of a sliver of New York commonly known as its 23rd district. Any other time this election would merit exactly the amount of thought you've given it up 'till now: none. But these are hardly normal times, and the battle for New York's 23rd has accidentally ended up as the fulcrum in the GOP's continuing struggle for its own identity, and as Frank Rich explains, it could well determine what shape that tattered brand assumes come next fall's midterms.