Sunday, July 26, 2009

Conspiracy Theory

I've been thinking. Dangerous habit and usually I want no part of it, but Wednesday when I was watching the health care news conference, the last question struck me as odd. An hour on health care and a reporter asks about a black professor being arrested? To the first black president? Huh? Why? And why would Obama answer the question? There were many way to handle it, and when he said "The police acted stupidly...," I think everyone watching knew what the headline would be the next day.

So why didn't Obama know? Why did not Mr. President Obama say "I don't have enough information." Or why didn't he say "What? An hour on health care and you ask me the black question? May I ask why you felt a need to ask the president what he thought about a disorderly conduct arrest in Massachusetts? A charge which has been dismissed? Would you have asked a white president that"

Well, I have been thinking. President Obama did know. Come on. I used to be in the newspaper business, but who spends more time thinking about what's going to be asked at press conferences and what answers to give? Me or the White House? Who spends more time on this stuff? You or the White House? I think the answer is pretty clear: The White House. Additionally, the last question was not merely the last question, it was deliberately the last question. President Obama in fact prefaced it by saying, "I kept that short so Lynn Sweet could get in her question." That struck me as odd at the time. I wondered if he knew what her question was and wanted to answer it. If it were prearranged, that might make sense. Obviously, however, given what happened that is impossible, right?

Lynn Sweet is the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Time. She is considered to be something of a critic of the president, so it is unlikely that she was in on a plan, but is it unthinkable that the president expected her to ask a stupid, irrelevant and borderline racist question at the end of an hour long press conference on health care? Well, I thought off it, so obviously not, but I think of a lot of dumb stuff.

Like now. Now I am thinking, "What the hell is in the health care plan that the president wants us not to look at it?" The Gates arrest was national news...I dunno. With the last guy I would have thought, "Yeah, he's that dumb." With this guy, I find it unlikely.

Anyway, now we have we have had two days on Gates-Gate, and now the president gets to have a beer with Henry Louis Gates and his pal and co-conspirator Sgt. Crowley. I picture the three of them sitting in the basement of the Whitehouse with Lynn Sweet and Rahm Emamuel. Dave, the bartender at Binny's, which is across the street from Manny's, a know Obama hangout, is serving them the last of the Surly Darkness. (A wonderful beer which Binny's had run out of when we tried to order it again. Dave wasn't there either last week. Hey, it's my conspiracy theory and that was some good beer.) They are laughing at the thought of us wondering why the president felt such an urgent need to call on Lynn Sweet.

Now, I am just a neurotic paranoid, and I make stupid jokes on the Internet in my spare time, and I have since 1984, but I still wonder what the president doesn't want us to pay attention to in that health care bill?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Watchmen: I Can't Decide Whether You Should Live or Die

For all the old school Usenetters.

This is not a review.

I expecting Tatum O'Neil to show up and take Rorschach out on a date.

Here there be spoilers.

Okay, I don't mean to be a spoilsport, but in the comic book, Roschach mails his journal to the New Frontiersman. That means the magazine could be located anywhere from Walla Walla, Washington to Kalamazoo. Here, he drops it in the slot of the magazine office, presumably on his way out of town. As in New York. As in the place Ozy just obliterated. As in all those guys at the magazine and that building and the journal? All gone. I'm just sayin'.

I was impressed by the soundtrack. You never hear Leonard Cohen's version of his own "Hallelujah." I mean, John Cale stole the song from him, you usually haer Jeff Buckley's version of Cohen cover, though I'm sure Cohen's attitude is that if John Cale wants to make him a few million clams, let him. I was happy to hear the Cohen original, though, I do wonder how many people were thinking, "What did those bastards do to Jeff Buckley's song?"

I was also mildly amused to see "All Along the Watch Tower" used, and I wondered if that was related to its Battlestar Galactica usage.

I had some problems with the pacing and camera usage, myself. I suspect it's down to this: the director did the same thing he did with 300. He used the comic book as a storyboard. It doesn't work. It doesn't work because a comic book might look like a story board, but it is really its own thing. It is trying to tell a story by itself. A storyboard is just giving a fleeting indication of what the visual might look like for the tenth of a second it is on screen. The difference? When someone shoots at Veidt in the comic book, the comic panel can be as confusing or detailed as Moore and Gibbon want, because the reader can just bloody well stare at it to his heart's content. On the screen it goes away. And if you try and put it in slow motion, it just looks mannered rather than impressive. The Matrix managed to do something a bit different, but it worked there. It was just off here. I was not impressed by the fights here. In particular the fight at the end and the death of the Comedian lasted too damn long.

Also, for once, I think IMAX does a disservice to the flick. The aspect ratio in IMAX is around 1.85:1, but it the regular theater it's 2.35:1, which is a fairly radical difference, and I want to see what it is. I think the fights might look better. Also, Malin Akerman is a beautiful woman, but she's not particularly voluptuous, and her skinny little butt in the nude scenes wasn't flattered by IMAX.

The ending makes a certain amount of sense in blaming Dr. Manhattan instead of some alien quid, especially since the Black Freighter and text sequences have been excised, so instead of being sort of fairly foreshadowed, it would come out of nowhere.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dear Sir or Madam Would You Read my Book

Books I wish I could unread:

1. Anything by Jane Austen. Lacking even a single vagina, these books were a complete waste of my time. The insistence of English teacher in assigning these books is child abuse.

2. Any book written by the instructor of the course. Dude, you are standing in the same goddam room as me. If there's something you want me to know about the subject, tell me yourself, don't make me spend 60 dollars on your book. If you feel you have to assign a text, pick one by someone else. Hell, pick one by someone you disagree with and tell me why. What're ya, yella?

3. The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler. Assigned to me senior year in high school. Complete waste of time and a justification for book burning.

4. Any Star Trek novel by Marshak and Culbreath. I would try to describe how bad these books are, but I would never have believed it myself had someone tried to tell me, so what's the point?

5. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust. A 7 volume autobiography novel about a man who did absolutely nothing. Ever. As Stephen Fry has said about someone else "He was a French writer making a point, and therefore a git."

6. Dracula. Just so godawful dull.

7. Ayn Rand. Not a justification for book burning so much as a justification for the invention of time travel to prevent to the invention of movable type. If you had to carve everything in granite with a pin, we wouldn't have had to wait several long novels for Rand to give us _For the New intellectual_ and tell us how great it is to be selfish.

8. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I still like it. I just wish I could read it for the first time at 40 instead of 17 or 18. Just curious.

9. Lolita. Yeah, yeah. It's a great novel of the 20th century. I think Catch-22 was better, but Lolita keeps beating it out in the pools, so I want it erased.

10.Without You: The History of Badfinger. Oh. My. Dear. Lord. This is the most godawful depressing book I have ever read. Interesting book about how the rock group Badfinger was destroyed by the record industry.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Big Lend Theory

Apparently the writers of "The Bog Bang theory" reached the conclusion that Sheldon was just too much of a dick to hang out with at the same time I did. Last week they revealed that he will just lend people a couple grand without caring when he gets paid back at no interest. That explains why people would hang out with him.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Well, at Least It Didn't Stay in the Air Indefinitely

Gen. David Petraeus made the coin flip at the Superbowl. I called my buddy Doug who said he was kind of offended. My opinion is that anything that keeps him out actual military operations is a good thing. Maybe we can get him to go around to various sporting events. On the other hand, the Superbowl is a kind of a conflict. Having Petraeus involved might make this Superbowl a giant clusterfuck.

In other news, I finally realized what was odd to me about Hellboy II: The Golden Army: Ron Perlman is doing a straight up Lee Marvin impression. The voice. The mannerims. Everything. Check it out. It's surreal. I am of two minds, actually. I like Lee Marvin but I'm not sure he would have been the best choice for Hellboy. However, it's not Lee marvin. It's Perlman making an acting choice. I was okay with it. On the other hand, it was distracting all get out, if only because it took me awhile to figure out why it sounded so familiar.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Frank Burns Eats Worms

Back when M*A*S*H was the best show ever, Frank Burns was the villain. And he was good in that show, but after five years, Larry linville decided the character had run its coure and left. Essentially, there was no where for the show to go with thatcharacter. Burns had burned out. Nobody tok him seriously. WHile he had been credible as a threat to Henry Blake's authority, he was not terribly credible as a threat to Potter. And then the Frank Burns is a terrible doctor stuff just wore old.

They replaced Burns with Charles Emerson Winchester III. He was a brilliant surgeon. He was wealthy. He had lettered and cultured and intelligent. And he was a match for Hawkeye. That lasted about a season and then they made him friends with everyone. But before they did that, they ahd a great cene between Potter and Charles. Charles was screaming at potter. Finally, Potter said "Major, stop it. You're beign a jerk. You're just not worth it. No one i."

I was thinking about this while watching "The Big Bang Theory." I like the show, though not as much as everyone else. One thing bothers me. This season it ha turned intot he Sheldon and penny show, which would be kind of funny if they actually had sex and we had the dynamic of Sheldon and penny having to deal with a pregnancy scare or something, especially given the very first scene in the series. However, they aren't. What they are doing is making Shledon a more and more severe prick. Right now, he's just an asshole. More, he only realistically gets to be an asshole if he's just *that* smart. Only the show, for comedic purposes keeps introducing other characters who are better than he is. They need to give him a Nobel Prize or a MacArthur genius grant or something, otherwise hi character will lose all credibility. I cannot think of a single reason Leonard would put up with him rather than get an apartment with Wolowitz.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rabbit Runs Away

John Updike, one of the greatest living American authors, has lost his status as such.