Friday, December 28, 2007

There Will Be Blood - The 10 Best Movies of 2007

If we have learned anything about the 2007 movie season, it's that many movies - ranging from 300, to Grindhouse, to No Country For Old Men - gave a literal meaning to the phrase "bloody hell." Throats were slit, bullets went flying, and blood was spurting everywhere like confetti at Times Square on New Year's Eve. But but behind the gore of the movies of 2007, some gave a meditation on our nation's violent nature, or how a person's life and soul could be lost through a killer's murder spree. So what do some of my movies on my top 10 list have to say about our violent nature? Listen up.

1.) Eastern Promises - No other movie this year has left a lasting impression on me more that David Cronenberg's crime thriller about the Russian Mafia and how the diary of a dead Russian prostitute could bring the crime ring down. Viggo Mortenson gives the performance of the year as Nikolai, a member of the Vory V Zakone caught in an ethical trap between loyalty to the crime boss, Seymone (played the wonderful Armin Mueller-Stahl) and to a London hospital midwife, Anna (Naomi Watts is superb) who reads the horrifying diary. Mortenson fighting off two thugs in a Russian bathouse naked is by far the most memorable scene this decade, but the final frame where the young girl speaks about why she left Russia to sell her body in London with Nikolai seated, staring on, as if the young girl was his conscious, is flat out haunting.

2.) Into the Wild - Remember the name Emile Hirsch. His portrayal of the true-to-life story of Christopher McCandless and his tragic journey into the wilderness of Alaska to connect with nature and with himself is a bona-fide contender to rival Johnny Deep and Daniel Day-Lewis for the Best Actor race come Oscar time. Credit also cinematographer Eric Gautier for capturing the Alaskan wilderness with intense beauty and terror and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam for his haunting original songs. Did I mention that it's Sean Penn who wrote the screenplay and directed this visual and emotional knockout of a epic drama? Penn's direction and passion to tell Chris's tragic - yet inspirational - story of man vs. nature vs. self, will have conservative types praising his American masterpiece, if not in secret.

3.) Ratatouille - You'd think that the tale of Remy, a rat who dreams of becoming the best chef in Paris, France, by controlling the actions of a garbage boy named Linguini, would spell desperate and disaster, right? Not unless you're the wizard animation studio, Pixar, who have a knack at turning the most bizarre cartoon story-lines into a work of art and an animation master writer/director in Brad Bird at the helm. Oh, and the great Peter O'Toole voicing one of the most moving lines of dialogue i've hear all year as a ego-driven food critic helps pay dividends. More than just a first-rate family film that will even have adults watching again and again and another homerun for Pixar Animation Studios, its also a beautifully written, directed, and acted love letter to Paris, France.

4.) 3:10 to Yuma - What exactly does Christian Bale have to do in order to garner an Oscar-nomination? His strong performance as a farmer with a bum leg helping a banking company to send a condemned robber-barron/murder Ben Wade (another award-caliber performance from Russel Crowe) on the train to Yuma to hang for his crimes is the best i've seen out of Bale. And Ben Foster is scary good as Wade's sadistic, right-hand man killing machine. Fresh off his acclaimed Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, director James Mangold brings the grittiness and suspense of a western movie back, along with the look and feel of one. It's a piece of old nostalgia and an ode to a genre of filmmaking that has long since been forgotten.

5.) Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - Who knew Johnny Depp could sing? And who knew that a musical could fuse graphic bloody violence, song and humor, acting, and tragedy into one amazing show so beautifully and hauntingly? Tim Burton has prided himself on making bizarre, gothic movies as a pathway to the soul, but here, he, Depp and his wife, Helen Bonham Carter, have out done themselves in Stephen Sondheim's musical about a barber returning home from 15 years of false imprisonment who seeks revenge on the judge who took everything from him (including his wife) and on mankind, and the landlady who loves him, psychopathic murder he may be and turns the slaughtered customers into meat pies. It's Burton's best work since Big Fish and Depp's ticket to a possible Best Actor Oscar win.

6.) No Country For Old Men - Beyond Joel and Ethan Coen's tale of drug money, the regular Joe who takes it out of greed, and the trail of blood, violence, and dead bodies it leaves across West Texas, the film forces us to stare face to face with the dehumanization of our society that is no country for anyone, nevermind old men, but one for which murder, greed, and despair have taken over. Brilliantly shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins, and first-rate acting by Tommy Lee Jones, Kelly MacDonald, Josh Brolin and an unforgettable turn by Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh who rival Hannibal Lecter himself in movie villainy, the Coen Bros have not only returned to form, but they've made their best movie since Fargo and the criminally underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou?. You don't want to miss this cat-and-mouse thriller that has horrible outcomes for all the main characters involved.

7.) Grindhouse - What sick, twisted minds would - or for that matter - could, come up with a three hour love letter to a double feature of hardcore action, rampant sexuality, grizzly violence, and the feeling of sleazy, cheap entertainment? Try Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, who both made their own feature-length movies back-to-back, with fake trailers in between. Rodriguez's half, Planet Terror, is campy, out-of-control fun with the look of a grindhouse picture (the picture was digitally scratched for effect and a reel is missing), with Rose McGoawn putting asses in the seats as go-go dancer with a machine gun for a right leg, but it's Tarantino's half, Death Proof that has the soul of a grindhouse, presents us with the most exciting car chase since The French Connection, and the comeback performance of the year in Kurt Russel as a womanizing stalker/serial killer with a sweet 1970's Dodge Charger as his weapon of choice. This three-hour thrill ride is the shot of adrenaline movies have been needing for far too long now.

8.) Zodiac - A friend had told me she had seen David Fincher's crime drama about the true story of the serial murder that captivated - and scared - the city of San Francisco and said that it totally confused her. To be perfectly honest, it confused me as well. After a second viewing, I had come to realize that Fincher is one clever filmmaker. The film was never meant to make its audience find out who the real killer was. Fincher's purpose was to show how three men - a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle, a city detective, and a cartoonist - had become obsessed with the elusiveness of the Zodiac killer and how it took over their lives. Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, and Mark Ruffalo turn in strong, haunting performances as the three men who's job is to find the murderer becomes an obsession and ultimately ruins their lives as a result for the Zodiac.

9.) Juno - How much do I love this movie? Let me count the ways. I love it's hilarious and bittersweet screenplay by newcomer Cody Diablo, who is bound to receive an Oscar. I love how Ellen Paige blends Juno's biting sarcasm and heartbreak about being pregnant into something of an art form. I love how the film's fresh and sharp dialogue can cut like a razor to where you can see and feel the marks it left. I love how the films original songs sound and feel unique as if the songs themselves reflected Juno's conscious. I love how director Jason Reitman allows Michael Cera, Jason Baitman, Jenifer Garner, and Ellen Paige to be both comic whimsy and surprisingly human with its characters. It makes one wonder, though: Why can't Hollywood make more movies that are as funny and touching, in the area of the teen years, ans Juno?

10.) The Great Debaters - Don't write off this inspirational sports drama/coming-of-age/true story about Melvin Tolson and his African-American debating team from Wiley College beating the Harvard debating team on national radio as a movie running on the same, tired cliched coattails of other great sports films. Instead, this move documents the growth of James Farmer Jr. and his other teammates and how they become apart of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Kudos to director Denzel Washington (yes, Denzel Washington) for making the cliched tactics of spots movies into inspirational and moving pieces of work. You won't know what hit you.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Random Notes: The Holiday Special

First, I would like to say that I hope that everyone had a great Christmas day and that you all got what you wanted for the holidays. I know I did, but more on what I got later. We're a few days away from the end of another crazy and unpredictable year, and there's so much I wanted to comment on about what's been happening, so without further ado, here's Random Notes: The Holiday Special (listed in order of importance).

1.) Chargers wrap up AFC West for 2nd straight year: After beginning the season 1-3, the inconsistency of Philip Rivers as quarterback and defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, the boos and calls for Norv Turner's head from the fans, and the lack of stellar performances from the team in general, San Diego got their act together and clinched the AFC West title for a second straight year. My boys have won five straight ballgames, including the Monday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos, 23-3, and with a win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, the Chargers will have clinched the no.3 seed in the playoffs. With Rivers playing well, LT having another record-breaking season, a wide receiver that can actually catch the ball (think Chris Chambers), and a defense that's allowed fewer than seventeen points during their streak, the Chargers could make some serious noise heading into the post-season. Well done Chargers, keep it up! GO BOLTS!!!

2.) Sweeney Todd: Raising the Bar on Bloody Hell: For the holiday season, if you're looking for a film that is safe, enjoyable and fun for the whole family, read this review of Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street no further, and watch Alvin and the Chipmunks or some other crap. For those who want to watch Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton raise their game to the next level, make their best movie since Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride, Ed Wood, and have a bloody good time witnessing it, then step right up and watch one of the year's very best movies and a sure-fire contender come Oscar time. Depp, who has never sung a note before (the movie is 90% sung), plays Benjamin Barker, a barber who's freedom, his wife and his baby daughter were stolen from him by Judge Turpin (a creepy Alan Rickman). The bastard makes some trumped-up charges to send Barker away for 15 years in prison and send himself into rape mode on his wife. Barker returns to London to learn through the landlady, Ms. Lovett (the wonderful Helen Bonham Carter) that his wife killed herself and Turpin plans on marrying Johanna (Jayne Wisener), Sweeeney's daughter. And off to the bloody races we go from there. Todd vows vengeance on Turpin and his protector, Beadle Bamford (Timothy Spall), and on mankind (as he sings in his solo Epiphany), while Ms. Lovette makes meat pies downstairs of the men that Sweeney murders. Sweeney Todd is not only the best bloody time you'll have at the movies all year, but it's a movie that will stay with you, long after the credits roll. Depp's fusion of acting and singing to tell the tragic tale of Sweeney Todd might finally win him the Oscar for Best Actor (that is, if the voters don't faun over Daniel Day-Lewis's turn as an oil tycoon mad with money, greed, and oil in P.T. Anderson's There Will Be Blood). And Burton's magnificent direction, along with cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, and production designer Dante Ferretti, make this tale of love, loss, and revenge the stuff of nightmares for some, but a wet dream for goths and emo kids.
***1/2 stars out of ****

3.) Benazir Bhutto Assassinated; World Leaders Mourn, Condemn killing: Terrible, terrible news to speak of.
From Moscow to Washington to New Delhi and points in between, dismay and condemnation poured forth Thursday over the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, along with concern for the stability of the volatile region. World leaders lauded her bravery and commitment to democratic reform. In India, which has fought three wars against Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Bhutto is irreplaceable, and noted she had striven to improve relations between the two nuclear-armed countries.

"I was deeply shocked and horrified to hear of the heinous assassination," Singh said. "In her death, the subcontinent has lost an outstanding leader who worked for democracy and reconciliation in her country."

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, who met Bhutto earlier on Thursday in Islamabad, said he was "deeply pained" by the assassination of "this brave sister of ours, a brave daughter of the Muslim world"

"She sacrificed her life, for the sake of Pakistan and for the sake of this region," he said. "I found in her this morning a lot of love and desire for peace in Afghanistan, for prosperity in Afghanistan and ... Pakistan."

That's all we know at the moment. I'll try and add as many updates as I can.

4.) Another Spears is pregnant: No, its not the once pop-princess, now has-been, trailer trash , wannabe Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan party girl Brittney. It's her sister, Jamie Lynn of Nickeloden's hit tweener show, Zoey 101.

Another Spears baby is reportedly on the way and it's not Britney's.

Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16-year-old "Zoey 101" star and sister of Britney, told OK! magazine that she's pregnant and that the father is her boyfriend, Casey Aldridge.

"It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected," she said. "I was in complete and total shock and so was he."

Spears is 12 weeks along and initially kept the news to herself when she learned of the pregnancy from an at-home test and subsequent doctor visit, she told the celebrity magazine, which hits stands in New York on Wednesday and the rest of the country by Friday.

What message does she want to send to other teens about premarital sex? "I definitely don't think it's something you should do; it's better to wait," she told the magazine. "But I can't be judgmental because it's a position I put myself in."

After she found out from a doctor that she was pregnant, she said, "I took two weeks to myself where I didn't tell anybody."

The only thing I can say about this story is this: Congratulations to the Hilton family: they're no longer the most dysfunctional family with a vapid, media seeking whore for a daughter.

5.) Christmas Gifts: My Christmas seriously kicked every manner of ass. For X-mas this year, I received the following items:
From my mom - jeans from Quicksilver and LRG, a new sweater, a wine-colored jacket, two new shirts, a $25.00 gift cars from Starbucks.
From my dad - A Chargers jacket with removable hood, an iPod Nano 8G, and the first season of the HBO original series, Entourage.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Into the Wild & No Country For Old Men

Here are my reviews of Into the Wild & No Country For Old Men, two of the best movies of the year. Enjoy!

Into the Wild - Say whatever you want about Sean Penn's politics, but as he writes and directs the true story of Chris McCandless, the college student who went "off the grid" and spent two years traveling America and surviving the Alaskan wilderness before succumbing to his death via eating poisonous berries, his adventure drama celebrates the life of a then modern-day youthful and angry McCandless and the courage to find himself in the Alaskan Wilderness, and the beauty and terror of venturing into the wild to spiritually connect with nature. Emile Hirsch gives the breakout performance of the year, digging deep to show Chris' rebellious spirit and his painful demons. On his travels, Chris meets an assorted cast of characters, such as South Dakota farmer Wayne Westerberg (Vince Vaughn), a married hippie couple (Cathrine Keener and Brian Dierker are excellent), and a veteran widower, Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook shines). All of these strangers, although they never meet, highlight Chris' secret desire to have a family he never had. His sister, Carine (narrated thought most of the move by Jena Malone) explains the secrets Walt (William Hurt) and Billie (Marcia Gay Harden) hid from them growing up and the constant war that was raged between them. Cinematographer Eric Gautier brilliantly captures the exquisite beauty and terror of the American wilderness and Chris' journey through it. Pearl Jam fromtman Eddie Vedder haunts the audience with his songs about the wilderness and Chris, as if he was his soul. But Penn's direction is simply breathtaking, and his passion to tell Chris' tragic - yet inspiring - story jumps right off the screen. Into the Wild is a story that comes from the heart.
**** stars out of ****

No Country For Old Men - For fans of Joel and Ethan Coen's Fargo, Blood Simple, The Big Lebowski, etc., good news: they're back. And in bloody, prime form. No Country can easily summed up by the opening monologue by Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): he speaks about how his generation went from not being able to carrying a pistol to putting a teen to the electric chair for murdering his fourteen year-old girlfriend, saying, "he'd been fixin to kill someone for as long as he can remember. Said if I let him out of there, he'd kill someone again. Said he was goin' to hell. Reckoned he'd be there in about fifteen minutes." Behind the film's graphic and grisly violence, the Coen Brothers show us a soulless, violent America that is no country for anyone, let alone old men like Sheriff Bell. There are many elements that make this American crime thriller one of the year's best movies, most notably the performances from Jones, representing disillusioned men of the law, and Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss, representing the average Joe stuck in the middle between doing the right thing and taking the law int their own hands when push comes to shove. But it's Javier Bardem who reigns over No Country as the psychopathic killing machine named Anton Chigurh. Not Since Hannibal Lecter himself has a movie villain been this diabolically evil and fascinating at the same time. From the cattle stun gun he uses to the sick game he plays where calling the right coin flip might save a person's life, Bardem's Chigurh represents the total evil in humanity. Joel and Ethan Coen, who both share writing and directing duties, are in top form. The scene in which Chigurh and a gas station owner are engaged in dialogue is as scary good and as amazing as anyone will ever see this year. Cinematographer Robert Deakins works with light and shadow with such ease, and gives the movie its suspense-filled atmosphere. The real bleak magic that oozes from No Country For Old Men is silence. It is the howl of the wind, the shadow from the mountains, and the blowing of the dry, desert that will send a chill down your spine. The dreadful feeling that tragedy is on the horizon hangs over the heads of Llewelyn, his wife Carla Jean (Kelly MacDonald), Sheriff Bell, and Anton himself; knowing very well that they can't stop what's coming.
**** stars out of ****

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Busy, busy, busy!

I know, I know.

It's been almost a month since i've posted anything about my life, what Bush scandal has me pissed off, which movie i've seen, or what new article for the Ranch Review I can post and show off my mad skills as a journalist.

I am sorry for the lack of posts, but the semester's just about wrapped up and there's a lot to be accomplished for my classes.

Anyway, It's December, we're a few weeks away from Christmas and saying good-bye to 2007 and ushering in 2008.

And yet.....

I can't explain why, but I usually find myself feeling depressed this time of year.

Maybe it's because of the screwed-up state of our nation that has me in a Christmas funk. Or perhaps it's the final year of high school and I realize that the friends i've made will be moving on, as will I. Maybe it's both. I don't know.

Anyway, this is where I am right now: somewhat in a melancholy funk.

I'll be back to doing more posts for the remainder of the month, including Charger's talk, NFL playoff predictions, movie reviews, politics, fuck-ups from the Bush White House, and top ten lists to celebrate the people, movies, and stories of 2007.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Americans & Perfect Figure Syndome

Toward the end of Little Miss Sunshine, Richard Hoover; his son, Dwayne; and their brother-in-law, Frank; are sitting in the back row of the pageant, watching and waiting for their daughter, Olive, to compete. The other contestants are being called up one by one, and each contestant looks the same: they’re really pretty, really skinny, and really airbrushed to the point that the contestants may as well be applying for America‘s Next Top Model. Richard and Dwayne head backstage and plead with Sheryl, the mother, to take Olive out of the competition, for fear that the other parents will laugh and criticize her because she does not look like the other girls.

In this moment, the film’s biting satire emerges: our country’s obsession with image and the drive to become something we clearly are not. From the latest beauty product (s) being marketed in media ads, to watching slim and slender fashion models appear in billboards, magazines, television reality shows, etc, Americans are being fed a perception that if you look or dress a certain way, you’ll be considered beautiful.

So what do we do to try and obtain the perfect figure syndrome?

We ditch the clothes we wear for a trip to Abercrombie & Fitch and buy trendier outfits so we can fit in with the beltway crowd and maybe we won’t be considered a ‘loser’ or ‘un-cool’ for not looking like every other wannabe cast member from Laguna Beach.

Girls buy endless amounts of cosmetics and begin to do excruciating exercise activities just so they can keep their shallow boyfriends from cheating on them.

Regular looking teenage girls eat mother’s special short stack buttermilk pancakes with fresh berries, then up-chuck the meal in the girls bathroom before first period, sacrificing their health in order to resemble their idols, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

We either eat limited meals or no meals at all, and then force ourselves to run five miles, just so we can fit into that cute size three dress for prom, or to drop a few pant sizes.

We buy diet pills that promise us that we’ll lose 40 pounds in 4 weeks because getting up, starting the car, and driving to a gym takes too much work. Plus, Days of our Lives is on and I, for one, won’t want to miss if Cassandra and Miguel get back together or not!

The sad part in our elusive quest for looking slimmer and younger is that some of us change not because we want to, but because we feel pressured to take extreme and drastic measures to please others. We are completely blinded to the simple fact that at the end of the day, we may look like some model or movie star on the outside, but we hate ourselves and we look and feel ugly inside.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Waterboarding Debate - Or How the Neocons Don't Give a Damn About International Law

In this installment on my blog, I must ask the following question: are Bush supporters really this ignorant or that brainwashed from drinking the Red State kool-aid? I know I shouldn't be surprised by the logic (or lack thereof) seeping from the hardcore fringe right, but when it comes to the issue of defending waterboarding because a Bush crony said that it's not torture (if a Bush crony says it, then it must be considered true!), I just scratch my head in total amazement over how these fucking morons could defend and endorse such a tactic.

But, waterboarding is not torture, and I have no idea why Democrats want terrorists to be coddled, not interrogated.
-Matt Margolis

Uh, Matt, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Human Right Watch, and the U.S. Department of State, it is.
From the UN Convention Against Torture:

Article 2
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

From Human Rights Watch:

The Convention Against Torture prohibits practices that constitute the intentional infliction of “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental.” The federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2340A, similarly prohibits acts outside the United States that are specifically intended to cause “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.”

Waterboarding is torture. It causes severe physical suffering in the form of reflexive choking, gagging, and the feeling of suffocation. It may cause severe pain in some cases. If uninterrupted, waterboarding will cause death by suffocation. It is also foreseeable that waterboarding, by producing an experience of drowning, will cause severe mental pain and suffering. The technique is a form of mock execution by suffocation with water. The process incapacitates the victim from drawing breath, and causes panic, distress, and terror of imminent death. Many victims of waterboarding suffer prolonged mental harm for years and even decades afterward.

Waterboarding, when used against people captured in the context of war, may also amount to a war crime as defined under the federal war crimes statute 18 U.S.C. § 2441, which criminalizes grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions (in international armed conflicts), and violations of Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions (in non-international armed conflicts). Waterboarding is also an assault, and thus violates the federal assault statute, 18 U.S.C. § 113, when it occurs in the “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States,” a jurisdictional area which includes government installations overseas. In cases involving the U.S. armed forces, waterboarding also amounts to assault, and cruelty and maltreatment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Under the laws of the land, U.S. personnel who order or take part in waterboading are committing criminal acts—torture, assault, and war crimes—which are punishable as felony offenses.

Get that, Matt? Not only is considered torture, but it it also considered illegal under international law.......but hey, when has a little thing like the law stopped your hero Bush and his gang of thugs from getting what they want?

For a gang of so-called Christian Conservatives, they sure aren't conducting themselves in a Christian manner.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The 'War on G.I. Joe' - another fictitious display of outrage from the right-wing

First it was the phony 'War on Christmas' baloney, courtesy of media blowhard Bill O'Reilly.
Then came the Brokeback Mountain controversy from the Christain Right and the right-wing shock jocks.
Last year, there was the Superman Returns saga over how the Man of Steel was now being portrayed as an international figure instead of an American one.
And just last week, O'Reilly was bent out of shape over J.K. Rowing outing Albus Dumbledore of the Harry Potter book series as a homosexual.
And now, the new pseudo outrage the right-wingers are concerning themselves with is Paramount's decision to give the action-figure G.I. Joe a whole new look for the silver screen.
Hollywood now proposes that in a new live-action movie based on the G.I. Joe toy line, Joe's -- well, "G.I." -- identity needs to be replaced by membership in an "international force based in Brussels." The IGN Entertainment news site reports Paramount is considering replacing our "real American hero" with "Action Man," member of an "international operations team."

Paramount will simply turn Joe's name into an acronym.

The show biz newspaper Variety reports: "G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer."

Well, thank goodness the villain -- no need to offend anyone by making our villains Arabs, Muslims, or foreign dictators of any stripe these days, though apparently Presbyterians who talk like Scottie on "Star Trek" are still OK -- is a double-crossing arms dealer. Otherwise one might be tempted to conclude the geniuses at Paramount believe arms dealing itself is evil.

Yes. The right wingers are outraged about the equivalent of a male Barbie Doll getting a new face lift for the big-screen adaptation. And, as expected, the travesty reached the ears of the rabid, daydreaming Bush fanatics at Blogs for, and its crackpot editor, Mark Noonan.
For crying out loud - "GI Joe" is as American as baseball and apple the people at Paramount really think the kiddies want stories of Euro-weenies rather than real American fighting men and women? With a wealth of new-minted heros in Iraq to be used to educate and inspire a new generation of American youth, Hollywood wants to opt for a version of the UN's blue helmeted international jokes...

Wrong, Noonan. Hollywood wants to make a bucket load of money, both domestically and globally.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Eastern Promises

In an interview with Toronto’s Eye Weekly, Canadian-born director David Cronenberg explains why he could care less for a crime story just as itself. “I was watching Miami Vice last night, and I realize that I’m not interested in the mechanics of the mob, but criminality and people who live in a state of perpetual transgression -- that is interesting to me.”

His new thriller, Eastern Promises, does not go into detail on how the Russian Mafia does its business, or how a London midwife hospital worker named Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts) uses the diary of the dead 14 year-old girl to find the baby’s relatives. Cronenberg, instead shows us why members of the Vory V Zakone syndicate such as Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) could continue to be apart of this crime ring, or why would a nurse risk her life to save the child of a baby, she does not know about?

The young girl’s diary leads Anna into the heart of the Russian Mafia, and to its crime boss, Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) who runs a popular restaurant in London, his degenerate, drunken son, Kirill (Vincent Cassel) and the loyal, yet violent driver, Nikolai. Now what does the young girl’s diary and her baby have to do with the violent criminal underworld of the Russian Mob? I'll never tell, and don't you dare let anyone else squeal.

Many directors today can film a bloody, violent scene, and it becomes the watercooler topic for a few days with friends. Cronenberg dosen't take that route. He instead makes it quick and uncomfortable to sit through, such as the case when we watch the young girl expel her bloody fetus from her uterus at the London hospital. The scene itself leaves a etch into your memory that you wont be able to shake for days.

The acting in Eastern Promises is first rate. Naomi Watts is extraordinary. Vincent Cassel digs deep to show us the vile nature of Kirill, and a glimpse of his nagging conscious towards the end of the film. As the leader of the Vory V Zakone crime family, Semyon, Armin Mueller-Stahl gives a performance that should put him on the front list for Best Supporting Actor come Oscar time. However, it is Viggo Mortensen who gives the knockout performance this year as Nikolai, a man who has been to hell, and has the tattoos all over his body to tell us where he has been. The scene with Mortensen naked, fighting off two knife-wielding thugs in a bathhouse is something that will be talked about, and more-than-likely manipulated, for years to come. Eastern Promises is not just one of-if not-the best film of 2007, it is a film that grabs you and doesn't let go. Don’t miss it.
**** stars out of ****

I've put this off for far too long

Allow me to steal a quote from General Douglas MacArthur:

"people of the blogosphere, I have returned."

Sorry for the lack of postings, but once again, life has other plans for me. Damn.

Anyway, I am safe and my family's house is one piece. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the thousands of San Diegans who have lost their homes to these destructive wildfires. Here's the updates i've kept about the fires over at Newshounds's Off-Topic Corner.

As in all tragedies such as these, you have stories of people in the community lending a helping hand, and you have stores that make you want to get violent over the lack of humanity in people. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly stories that came out of the Wildfires 2007.

The Good: Regardless of what you think of the Spanos Family, here they did good work, by giving $1 million to the Fire Relief Fund.

Alex and Dean Spanos announced today a commitment of $1 million to aid victims of San Diego County’s wildfires and also to support the community’s firefighting efforts. The Spanos family made a similar donation of $1 million to the Chargers Fire Relief Fund following the destructive wildfires that ravaged San Diego in 2003.

“I can’t believe this is happening to our community again,” said Chargers President Dean Spanos. “But no matter how bad it gets, the people of San Diego always find a way to pull together during hard times, and that makes us all so proud to live here and be part of this community.

You also had members of the Chargers football club who helped out the evacuees at Qualcomm Stadium.

As is custom during the season, Chargers players had the day off Tuesday, but like usual, a few of them chose to dedicate their free time to helping others.

Safety Clinton Hart spent most of his day at Qualcomm Stadium where thousands of people have made temporary homes while wildfires continue to sweep through San Diego County. Hart helped distribute food, water and supplies to those supplanted from their homes. He also dished out smiles and hugs and signed countless autographs.

“It was good to see people keeping their chins up and staying positive through a tough time,” Hart said. “I wanted to go down there and encourage people. I spent a lot of time talking to people who were away from the crowds and hanging out by themselves. I had some really good conversations.”

Hart also spent several hours at Qualcomm Stadium Monday night. He was so encouraged by the hundreds of fellow volunteers that gave their time to helping others that he decided to go back Tuesday.

Most importantly, I would like to thank all the firefighters who have worked tirelessly to save as many homes as possible. You guys put yourselves on the front lines while putting your own lives at risk. Thank you for all that you have done.

The Bad: Unfortunately, there are some people who just don't have any humanity whatsoever, as is the case with the anonymous asshole who started the Santiago Fire up in the O.C.

One of the larger fires in Southern California was deliberately started by someone with apparent knowledge of arson, a fire official said Thursday.

The Santiago Fire in Orange County was started in two places along a little-traveled road, according to Chief Chip Prather of the county's fire authority.

The fire, which has burned more than 25,000 acres, was started in brush just off Santiago Canyon Road, not close to homes. It spread rapidly, indicating the arsonist had some knowledge of winds and other factors.

"It is a confirmed arson. There was evidence found at the scene. That is the purpose of our early declaration of it being an arson-caused fire," Prather said. He would not describe the evidence.

To the jerkoff who did this, let me say this: enjoy Hell. You've earned a one-way ticket.

As I have learned though the Virgina Tech Massacre, some right-wing clowns don't know when to keep their fucking mouths closed during a time of tragedy. Insert radio talk show host Glenn Beck as a candidate for Asshole of the Year with these idiotic comments.

I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today.

There's a name for people who act like this during troubling times like what San Diego County - and most of Southern California for that matter - went through: selfish, mean-spirited pricks.

That's all i've got for now.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Rush Limbaugh is an innocent bystander! And those who exposed him are just trying to silence him!

Here's a nice case of right wing lunacy to begin the month of October: all of us are now aware of how conservative radio talk show host/drug addict/America's no. 1 doucebag Rush Limbaugh stepped in it - again.

LIMBAUGH: Another Mike, this one in Olympia, Washington. Welcome to the EIB Network. Hello.

CALLER 2: Hi Rush, thanks for taking my call.

LIMBAUGH: You bet.

CALLER 2: I have a retort to Mike in Chicago, because I am a serving American military, in the Army. I've been serving for 14 years, very proudly.

LIMBAUGH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER 2: And, you know, I'm one of the few that joined the Army to serve my country, I'm proud to say, not for the money or anything like that. What I would like to retort to is that, if we pull -- what these people don't understand is if we pull out of Iraq right now, which is about impossible because of all the stuff that's over there, it'd take us at least a year to pull everything back out of Iraq, then Iraq itself would collapse, and we'd have to go right back over there within a year or so. And --

LIMBAUGH: There's a lot more than that that they don't understand. They can't even -- if -- the next guy that calls here, I'm gonna ask him: Why should we pull -- what is the imperative for pulling out? What's in it for the United States to pull out? They can't -- I don't think they have an answer for that other than, "Well, we just gotta bring the troops home."

CALLER 2: Yeah, and, you know what --

LIMBAUGH: "Save the -- keep the troops safe" or whatever. I -- it's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.

CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq.
They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.

LIMBAUGH: They joined to be in Iraq. They joined --

CALLER 2: A lot of them -- the new kids, yeah.

LIMBAUGH: Well, you know where you're going these days, the last four years, if you signed up. The odds are you're going there or Afghanistan or somewhere.

CALLER 2: Exactly, sir.

Amazing. Veterans of the Iraq War who now choose to speak out against it are being lectured by this gutless coward????? The same man who joined the ranks of other Vietnam era draft dodgers such as Bush Jr., Cheney, and DeLay, by claiming that he had a boil on his ass that prevented him from running??

What's more amazing, or un-amazing, is that the rank-and-file lapdogs, ranging from the GOP blogsites, to the Fox Propaganda Network, are actually defending this idiot's comments, and some of the wingnuts are even blaming........wait for it.......Hillary Clinton and George Soros for Oxycontin's act of random idiocy on the air!

Unfortunately, as folks around the country saw this play out on their television sets and newspapers, few were at all familiar with the organization behind the smear campaigns, or that this same group started the firestorm which ended with radio host Don Imus being terminated by NBC and CBS in April.

Maybe more importantly, even fewer citizens are aware that this organization is linked directly to Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as billionaire leftist George Soros.

It gets even better from here, folks.

CAP is heavily funded by the aforementioned billionaire financier George Soros, and in turn works closely with Media Matters to remove potential roadblocks (like Don Imus) from Hillary Clinton’s path to the White House. According to Bill O’Reilly, some of the money Soros gives to CAP eventually finds its way into the coffers of Media Matters, though Media Matters disputes this................

Is the picture becoming clearer? Hillary and her backers have created an advocacy network whose expressed goal is to take down all of her critics in the media.

In fact, after Imus was fired by NBC and CBS, Media Matters published a 6,000-word article entitled “It’s Not Just Imus,” listing other political enemies of the Clintons such as Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Michael Smerconish, and John Gibson.

Yes, the picture is becoming clearer.........just how is it that the liberals are labeled 'conspiracy theorists' when the nutters on the right are coming up with inane shit like this?

And yet, even with the original recording of the incident and the transcript of the remark, the ever-faithful right-wingers are still in denial about it ever being said, even going as far as to say that poor Rush is being taken out of context!

This kind of insanity really shouldn't be new to me, or to any of the Americans who aren't dumbed-down ditto-heads. Hell, it's the kind of Orwellian-type thinking (up is down, ignorance is strength, etc.) that this country has had to endure ever since the current administration set the standard that anyone who dares disagree with the GOP or the plan of action is either un-American or unpatriotic. i just can't figure out what's more pathetic here - Rush Limbaugh himself, or the shrinking minority of die-hard wingnuts/Bushbots who defend him and easily punish those who exposeed the jackass.

Either way, it's just another episode of the three-ringed freakshow that is the right-wing world.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Summer Nights: The best and the worst of the '07 summer movie season

The Summer Movie Season is sadly at an end. Fall is coming, as are the fall movies and the awards season will soon be in full swing. So let us take a look back at the summer movies that we loved, hated, and enjoyed in the summer of 2007.

Overall best movie: I am giving this honor to Pixar's Ratatouille. In a season full of unoriginality and the onslaught of mediocre sequels, Brad Bird's computer-animated comedy about a rat who uses a garbage boy to become the hot new chef in Paris was not only a breath of fresh air, it is also one of the year's best movies. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix is runner-up.

Best Comedy: It's the duo of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen that take the comedy belt. Knocked Up and Superbad were both so outrageously hilarious that they both will share this title. The Simpspons Movie is runner up for it's staying true to it's roots and the satirical wit it brought, along with the slapstick.

Best Summer Sequel: Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix wins by a knockout. Unlike Ram Rami's mediocre Spider-Man 3, Gore Veberinski's bloated Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and the over-familiar Shrek 3, David Yates' take of Harry Potter's fifth year at Hogwarts brings out the best in the series and in it's young actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. The Bourne Ultimatum, with it's kick-in-the-jams action and Matt Damon bringing out the best in Jason Bourne, takes second place.

Best Actor:
This is a no-brainer........Christopher Mintz-Plasse's gut-bursting performance as Fogell (aka: McLovin) in Superbad

Best Actress: Again, a no-brainer......Angelina Jolie as the wife of murdered journalist Daniel Pearle in A Mighty Heart.

Breakthrough Performance: Three no-brainers in a row! Shia LeBeouf in Transformers and Niki Blonsky for Hairspray take the top honors.

Best Action Movie: Every dog has his day. That's why Michael Bay will get this honor of action movie for Transformers. It's the embodiment of what an summer movie is: big, loud explosions, kick-ass action, and a damn good time that will be had by all. Live Free or Die Hard is the same embodiment and it takes runner-up.

Best Surprise movie: Hairspray. I mean really, did any of you think that a remake of the Broadway play -- plus John Travolta in drag -- would work? Everything from the dance No's to the music no.s worked like a charm. And since were on the subject of musicals, High School Musical II -- despite the overload of saccharine-driven story and cardboard characters -- worked it's Disney magic to make runner-up honors.

Best Hero: This is a tough one, but I'm going with Daniel Radcliffe reprising the title role of Harry Potter in Order of the Phoenix. Homer Simpson for saving the town of Springfield in The Simpsons Movie, gets runner-up.

Best Villain: No baddie put a shiver down my spine more than Imelda Staunton in Order of the Phoenix. As Umbridge, she not only brings out the evil side in bureaucracy, but she makes Dick Cheney look tame. Ashley Tisdale takes the runner-up prize in HSM II reprising her role as the school bitch Sharpay, who takes her bitchiness and her attempts to steal Gabriella's man, Troy, to new, irresistible lows that makes the Plastics look like a joke.

Most Disappointing: I never thought I would be giving this award to Peter Parker, but there's really no denying that Spider-Man 3 became a mediocre summer movie when the filmmakers sucked-out what dark narratives the third movie had in exchange for bigger and more visual action pieces. That, and having Peter go emo on you doesn't help out the cause much.

Worst movie: Who cares about who killed Lindsay Lohan's character in I Know Who Killed Me? What I do know that Lohan killed her career in just one summer with her next bomb, Georgia Rule. Sad to see a bright career was thrown to the wayside for a drive in the fast lane.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hate mongering doesn't take a day off

You would honestly expect that on the 6th anniversary on 9/11, there would be at least a day without politicization, right? Well, there was. The College Republicans and College Democrats at San Francisco State decided to join together in commemorating the horrific events of September 11, when a group of protesters pulled this stunt.

Regardless whether the opinions of the communists protesters was accurate, it was highly inappropriate for them to do this on the day of remembering those who died in 9/11, as were the methods.

Unfortunately, for Leo Pusateri, he wasn't aware that two wrongs don't make a right.

There's a name for individuals who pull this kind of a number: certified assholes.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

What do Gabriella and Harry Potter have in Common?

There are many things that young stars Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical & High School Musical II and British actor Daniel Radcliffe of the Harry Potter franchise have in common:

Both Hudgens and Radcliffe are household names through one movie.
Both Hudgens and Radcliffe are legal (18 years of age).
Both Hudgens and Radcliffe are discussed on how hot they are though their other sexes.
Both Hudgens and Radcliffe are rich as hell.

But now they share this fact: they've both gone butt-naked.

And yet there's one grueling difference between these two young stars.

One of the big stories this week was that Hudgen's nude photographs and other photos of her stripped down to her bra and panties was leaked to the internet, and now instead of discussing about the experience of doing HSM II, she's doing damage control and asking forgiveness from her tweener fans, most of whom have never seen nor heard of a woman's breast or pussy.

"I want to apologize to my fans, whose support and trust means the world to me," says Hudgens in a statement to "Extra" on Friday, Sept. 7. "I am embarrassed over this situation and regret having ever taken these photos. I am thankful for the support of my family and friends."

The photo was first reported by The National Enquirer and has been splashed all over the Internet on blogs such as Hudgens, 18, is seen fully nude and standing, facing the camera in what appears to be a private bedroom. Online speculation wondered if the photo was faked, but confirmed on Thursday that it's authentic.

"This was a photo which was taken privately," says Hudgens' rep. "It is a personal matter and it is unfortunate that this has become public."

I'm not going to bust her balls over this scandal because when you look at the track record of other young and famous stars such as Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, this is really tame. For all we know, Hudgens could've been doing other crazy shit.

As I said before, there is a difference with Vanessa and Daniel, in terms of going naked. And the difference is that while Hudgens meant for those photos to be private, Radcliffe is going naked for a play that he's signed up for. And ladies, Radcliffe will soon be going naked for Broadway.

British actor Daniel Radcliffe hopes to debut on Broadway next year in a reprise of his London role in "Equus," a performance where he shed not only his clothes but the mantle of Harry Potter.

Radcliffe won rave reviews for his performance as a tortured teenager during an 8-week run of Peter Shaffer's grueling psychological thriller in London earlier this year, but said the prospect of acting in New York was "terrifying."

"It will be amazing, but I will be terrified because I was talking to Richard Griffiths about playing New York and he said the most stupid thing you can do is underestimate New York audiences," said Radcliffe, 18, in an interview with Reuters.

And yet, I hear no outrage over Radcliffe going butt-naked. Go figure.

Another example of the three-ringed circus freakshow that is Hollywood today, I suppose.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

High School Musical II

Say whatever you want about High School Musical II (an exercise in providing more mental masturbation that execs at Disney can sell to the tweenage crowd), but give credit where credit is due to Ashley Tisdale (The Suite Life with Zack and Cody). She not only reprises the mean-spirited bitch in Sharpay, she takes the plotting and conniving to a new level not seen since Rachel McAdam's performance as Regina in Mean Girls. Within Disney limits, that is.

Sharpay's new scam includes stealing Troy Bolton (Zac Efron of Hairspray) away from his girlfriend Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) by hiring him to work at her parent's country club and surrounding him with college recruiters when Troy's friends are tagged along for work and enter the talent show. Yes, the scam is very bland and dull, but Tisdale works with what she has and makes it irresistible fun watching her character play Troy like a wind-up doll.

Tisdale's performance -- add to it, the catchy and flashy numbers ranging from the impressive I Don't Dance to the kick-in-the jams spectacle opening no. What Time Is It? -- not only makes this tweenage product placement film watchable (even with the cardboard story, cutout characters, and ultra-cliched romance between Troy and Gabriella) but it's soon-to-be third installment (due out fall of next year on the big screen) worth looking at as well.

** 1/2 stars out of ****

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Starting September Off Right

Jeez. I have reached a new low since starting this online journal. In the month of August, I have only poster three blogs. And I haven't been keeping up with the presidential campaign of Rapture Ralph/Blat. Damn you, life!

Anyway, for the umpteenth time, I apologize for my lack of blog postings. With Senior year in full swing, I won't have all the time that I want to blog. Thankfully, fall break is fast approaching and depending on how non-lazy I am, I might be able to crank out a few a week, so pray that I don't fall ill to laziness.

And the hypocrite of the month goes to......: Senator Larry Craig, a (i'm shocked, i'll tell ya, shocked!) Republican representing Idaho who plead guilty to soliciting oral sex from an undercover cop in the bathroom of a Minneapolis Airport. Ironically, Senator Craig, in the past has voted against both gay marriage and civil unions for gays, and voted to impeach Bill Clinton for lying under oath about his affair with one Monica Lewinsky. If the GOP should take anything away from this latest scandal it should be the following: if you're going to keep preaching you're the party of traditional family an moral values, then lead by example.........on second thought - don't. You're not the party of traditional values. You never have been.

The race to the post season: has begun. And this time, just about every race is up for grabs, and there's no way to tell which teams gonna win which division. Will A-Rod carry the Bronx Bombers to to another post-season appearance? Can Jake Peavy, Milton Bradley, and the pitching staff lead the Padres to another Western Division win? Are the fighting Philies good enough to make it to the playoffs? Who is the team everyone will fear come playoff time? And which team will win it all this year? You gotta love September baseball - the drama, the action, and the teams showing themselves if they're pretenders or contenders. Stay tuned, folks.

Lord of the Ring: One Ring to rule them all. One Ring to find them. One Ring to bring them all, and in the Darkness, bind them. OK, i'll admit, it's really dorky of me to recite this, but dammit, we're the graduating class of 2008! With the Senior rings we're picking out, then receiving in 4-6 wks., we might as well be the Masters of our school! My ring will look something like this:
class ring - heritage with school chest
ring model - lexington (H33)
metal choice - 14-kt. yellow gold
metal finish - antique (traditional)
stone color - birthstone
birthstone color - september fire blue spinel (chose school color)
accent stone - cubic zirconia
stone cut - sunburst
ring side 1 - school mascot (mustang)
ring side 2 - name (chose my nickname, radio) and design (paw print)
ring band options - full name inside and smooth band
ring year date/size - 2008/9.5
outside initials - JH

This is going to be a bitchin ass ring!

Fall Movie Season: It's fall, and the awards will be in full swing, and there are some great movies this time round. Here are my top 3 movies to watch for:
The Darjeeling Limited

No Country for Old Men

Lions for Lambs

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ramdon Notes: Part Two

As I promised, here's part two of Random Notes. Enjoy!

Making front page news: For the first time in my three years of writing articles for the school newspaper, The Ranch Review, a story of mine has graced the front page! Well, I should say that I did have a partner who helped co-write the story; Katy Carranza, and it it just as much her story as it is mine and it wouldn't be right to not give her credit, so let me say thank you to Katy for working with me on this news piece and for your hard work. I couldn't ask for a better partner. What was the news piece on, you say? It was on Otay Ranch High School's first musical, West Side Story.

MC Rove has left the building: probably the biggest story of the week: Bush's chief political strategist Karl Rove has announced that he will resign at the end of the month.

WASHINGTON - Karl Rove, the political mastermind behind President Bush’s races for the White House and an adviser with unparalleled influence over the past 6½ turbulent years, announced his resignation Monday, ending a partnership stretching back more than three decades.

It was a major loss for Bush as he heads into the twilight of his presidency, battered in the polls, facing a hostile Democratic Congress and waging an unpopular war. A half dozen other senior advisers have left in recent months, forcing the White House to rebuild its staff at the same time the president is running out of influence.

“I’ll be on the road behind you here in a little bit,” said a rueful Bush, announcing the departure alongside Rove on the White House South Lawn. Bush leaves office Jan. 20, 2009.

Is this the last we shall ever hear of ol MC Rove? Doubt it. More than likely he will leech onto another Republican Presidential Candidate (say Mitt Romney?) as a means to further his political agenda of having a permanent majority in Washington.

For the meantime though, I say good riddance to bad rubbish.

24 goes green, right wingers loose their minds: To quote Stephanie Miller of the Stephanie Miller Show, "Let's dive into the right-wing world, shall we?" Jack Bauer, the right-wing's current fixation, has now done the unthinkable: he's fallen into the sinister liberal agenda of conserving the environment.

July 22, 2007, Hollywood, CA – “24,” the Emmy Award-winning series from Imagine and Twentieth Century Fox Television, will strive to become the first television production ever to save enough energy and reduce enough carbon emissions over the course of a season to render its entire season finale “carbon neutral,” it was announced today. In addition to making significant changes to its own production practices, the series aims to educate and inspire its millions of viewers to take climate change and the fight against global warming seriously and personally, before it’s too late, said executive producer/show-runner Howard Gordon and Twentieth Century Fox Television Chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman.

“We care deeply about this issue at ‘24,’ and we wanted to do our own small part to be part of the solution,” commented Howard Gordon. “We looked at how we produce the show, and realized that there were some substantive changes we could implement which would make a real difference. But even more importantly, we hope to inspire our audience to look at what they can do in their own lives to help stem global warming. We think this will be the beginning of a conversation with our millions of viewers that will hopefully inspire them to take action around the world.”

The fringes of the right-wing took this loss to the MSN liberal agenda very hard indeed. The bloggers at the conservative watchdog site, were torn over the news.

"Rush is almost always right
July 21, 2007 - 18:58 ET — bulbasaur

You got it bigtimer, Rush is gotta be torn over this.

He thinks hollywood types should shut up and act, but the stars themselves think they aren't respected for their depth of thought. So they pick up brochures and whackpot magazines which give them a way to look intelligent.

You have to sympathize somewhat with them, what are they gonna do, study math?

Going gaga over global warming is a shortcut, but I don't think celebrities realize how transparently phony it is. That's why I feel sorry for them."

"So this nut didn't drop too
July 21, 2007 - 18:03 ET — Rackie

I see this nut didn't drop too far from the idiot tree."

"Lefty Acorn
July 21, 2007 - 18:14 ET — stratman

It is not hard to believe that Keifer is a Liberal who buys into fantastical schemes like Gorebal Warming.

His father is Donald Sutherland, a wonderful actor but a Lefty of repute in the old days.

Should we have thought Keif would turn out any other way?

Side Note: Keifer was fired as Road Manager for a band he hired to his own record label. I guess he's not as bright as his 24 personna would suggest."

One 24 die-hard right-winger, was so distraught, that he even created his own script for how the new season would look like when it goes green.


Jack arrives in the Valley in his covered wagon pulled by a team of oxen.

Jack: (to uniformed agent who meets him armed with bow and arrow) Drop your weapon! Now! Do it!

Agent: Uh, I’m a CTU agent. I’m your contact.

Jack: Oh. What’s up?

Agent. Me, about five times a night. (pause) That was a joke, sir.

Jack: (blank stare)

Agent: We intercepted a carrier pigeon from the Kyoto Liberation Army. If President Backofthehander doesn’t sign the treaty within two hours, they will allow this glacier to wipe out the entire valley.

Jack: And the downside is…?

Agent: Uh, think of all the children’s art projects made from recycled paper that will be lost, sir.

Jack: Oh, good point. Ok, here’s the plan. We allow Mother Gaia to use her wind and rain to erode the Santa Monica Mountains down to the point where the glacier can flow over them and into the sea.

Agent: Brilliant!

It makes one wonder, since the fringes of the conservative base are for conserving energy, the environment, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Rule of Law, The Geneva Conventions, smaller government, moral values, etc, just what are they trying to conserve?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A brief sample of the Ranch Review

As most of you know, I work for the school newspaper, called The Ranch Review. It is one of my greatest joys working working with other students and put out information that the student body can use. So as a treat, I have videotaped, through my digital camera, what we, the staff do when we have finished all of our assigned stories and we have some downtime for ourselves. Whether or not I do more of these 'diaries', is still up in the air.

This video segment is about a member of the staff, Corey. He talks about his birth defect, the pain of growing up with it, and how he is living with the defect.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ramdon Notes: Part One

Sorry for the cold shoulder for two weeks. I've been busy with school and the Ranch Review (now Opinion Editor!) and I have a lot to talk fact, this will be a two parter so without further ado, part one of my little segment, Random Notes!

Bonds is the new home run king:
Seriously, am I the only one who didn't give a damn when Barry Bonds hit home run #756 to surpass Hank Arron as baseball's home run king? I'm a baseball fan, but I could not congratulate a cheating jackass like Bonds. What's even more pathetic is the phony speech he gave, thanking the fans for being there. Let me translate what Bonds meant to say to his fans:
Translation: 'thanks for putting up with my piss-poor attitude. Thanks for keeping me in San Fran when no other club would pick my ass up because of the fact that they don't want a cheating s.o.b. like me. I've made history, now i'm not going to play the rest of the game. Remember, it's all about me.'
Bonds, take your 30 pieces of silver, and fuck off.

Harry Potter and the Best Movie in the Franchise: Some critics are pissy that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix lacks the charm of the last four films. Fair point. Yes, Daniel Radcliffe isn't the same 11 year-old boy we loved in The Sorcerer's Stone or The Chamber of Secrets. Neither are the last four movies. But I think the filmmaker, David Yates would be doing a disservice to the spirit of the fifth novel in J.K. Rowling's wonderful and rich series. Like all things, there comes a point were childhood must end and the seams of adulthood must rear it's ugly head, among with the darkness and pain it eventually brings. For Harry Potter, that time has come. Hogwarts is no longer a safe haven since the return of the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). The Ministry of Magic and Cornelius Fudge are trying to dismiss Harry's claim that You-Know-Who has returned, even going as far to insert one of their own, Dolores Umbridge (a wonderful and nasty Imelda Staunton) to shut him up, and to keep the students from learning magic. And Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) avoids Potter at every turn. Add to that, Harry's growing teen problems: anger, growing up, and girls. These are the things taking place in this film. And it's by far the best one yet, thanks to some great performances from Radcliffe, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, and Staunton as Umbridge, who is the Dick Cheney of the Harry Potter universe; the amazing set pieces from Stewart Craig; the excellent cinematography; and the great direction from Yates. It all adds up to one of the year's best movies.
***1/2 stars out of ****

Bush claims Executive Privilege over Tillman Death: You heard me right. The administration that couldn't sink any lower have yet again, found a new despicable low: by claiming the privilege over the death of NFL Quarterback/Army ranger, Pat Tillman.

WASHINGTON — The White House has refused to give Congress documents about the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman, with White House counsel Fred Fielding saying that certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting "implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests."

Are you fucking kidding me? That family has gone through hell because of this endless and shameful saga, and now the president is withholding documents about how Tillman really died? It was bad enough that the Army lied about his death and it was sickening to learn that Gen. Stanley McChrystal knew that Tillman died by friendly fire but gave him the Silver Star anyway, but this is just nauseating, the kind of shit that the Bush Administration pulled here. The Tillman family deserves closure and better treatment than this, Mr. Bush, and you damn-well know it. Another fine example of how our commander-in-chief supports our soldiers.

Part 2, I will post later next week. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

My Mad Photoart Skills!

Take a look and be amazed at my mad photoart skills!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

That's all for now, I'll write more sometime this week!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Memo to the Bush Administration

For all the talk we hear of President Bush supporting the troops, it would be apparent that he would follow through.

But of course, this is Bush we're talking about.

The man who said we would find Osama Bin Laden dead or alive days after the tragedy of 9/11, then six months later say that he's not that important.

This frightening report from the Pentagon's Inspector General shows us how Bush's Administration supports our boys in Iraq.

A study completed in late June by the Pentagon's Inspector General concludes that the Department of Defense (DoD) has risked the lives of U.S. troops in Iraq due to malfeasance in awarding and monitoring contracts for badly-needed armored vehicles.

The study, which was requested by Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York, found that since 2000 the DoD has awarded "sole-source" contracts valued at $2.2 billion to just two companies, Force Protection, Inc.(FPI) and Armor Holdings, Inc (AHI).

Inspector General auditors found that the Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) made these two companies the sole providers of armored vehicles and armor kits for troops, despite knowing that other suppliers may have produced the equipment so desperately needed in Iraq substantially faster. Both manufacturers fell far behind delivery schedules, while AHI also produced inadequate and faulty equipment.

"We determined the MCSC justification for awarding the sole-source contracts was questionable because MCSC officials knew that viable competition was available and were aware of significant concerns with FPI’s delivery capability," said the report about the MCSC's rationale for looking at no suppliers other than FPI. "In addition, Marine Corps officials did not pursue competition as contracts continued to be awarded, which raises concerns about the recurring justification for urgency."

That same report goes on to discover this horrifying find:

"The Inspector General found that Armored Holdings sent cracked equipment that had been painted over, and even two left doors for the same vehicle, instead of one right and one left. Furthermore, FPI was unable to meet production deadlines even after the Pentagon paid $6.7 million to build up their capability. It was completely unacceptable.

As shocking as this information is, it's not the first time that the current administration has shown a complete lack or drive in supporting our armed forces.

During the lead-up to the Iraqi War, our former Defense Secretary ignored the recommendation of a Marine General that we needed a huge amount of troops in Iraq.

The troop level for the initial invasion of Iraq was controversial throughout the run-up to the war, particularly among U.S. military personnel. In 1999, then head of United States Central Command Marine General Anthony Zinni (ret.) organised a series of war games known as Desert Crossing in order to assess an invasion aimed at unseating Saddam Hussein. His plan, which predicted much of the violence and instability that followed the actual invasion, called for a force of 400,000 troops.[140] Consistent with the Desert Crossing scenarios, the original U.S. army plan for the invasion of Iraq contemplated troop levels of up to 500,000, but Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared this plan "the product of old thinking and the embodiment of everything that was wrong with the military", and decided on an invasion force of approximately 130,000, bolstered by some 45,000 troops from the U.K. and a handful of troops from other nations. [141] The plan to invade with a smaller force was publicly questioned by then Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, who, during a February 25, 2003 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, suggested that an invasion force would be "on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers."[142] In a November 15, 2006 hearing of the same committee, General John Abizaid, then head of U.S. Central Command, confirmed that "General Shinseki was right that a greater international force contribution, U.S. force contribution and Iraqi force contribution should have been available immediately after major combat operations."[143]

The arrogance of the Bush Administration also stretches to the field of battle as Salon reported of injured soldiers being deployed back into battle.

Last November, Army Spc. Edgar Hernandez, a communications specialist with a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, had surgery on an ankle he had injured during physical training. After the surgery, doctors put his leg in a cast, and he was supposed to start physical therapy when that cast came off six weeks later.

But two days after his cast was removed, Army commanders decided it was more important to send him to a training site in a remote desert rather than let him stay at Fort Benning, Ga., to rehabilitate. In January, Hernandez was shipped to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., where his unit, the 3,900-strong 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, was conducting a month of training in anticipation of leaving for Iraq in March.

Hernandez says he was in no shape to train for war so soon after his injury. "I could not walk," he told Salon in an interview. He said he was amazed when he learned he was being sent to California. "Did they not realize that I'm hurt and I needed this physical therapy?" he remembered thinking. "I was told by my doctor and my physical therapist that this was crazy."

Once Hernandez arrived to California for training, he was not the only one sent to train although injured.

Instead, when he got to California, he was led to a large tent where he would be housed. He was shocked by what he saw inside: There were dozens of other hurt soldiers. Some were on crutches, and others had arms in slings. Some had debilitating back injuries. And nearby was another tent, housing female soldiers with health issues ranging from injuries to pregnancy.

That's right. The Army is now going after female soldiers who are pregnant.

And as reported this year, veterans who have served in Iraq, are being treated like second class citizens, some even having their disabilities being downgraded.

Now tell me, is this anyway to support our boys in the military, Mr. Bush?

Here's an idea, Mr. President - quit using our soldiers as one of your shameless photo-ops and actually support them! That would be the patriotic thing to do for these men who have risked their lives for your bullshit war.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Hellllllllloooooooo Florida!

Big news!
I'll be leaving the Mains, the O/T forums, my blog, and myspace until the 11th for a trip to florida!
I leave in the afternoon, so if you'll be wondering 'where did young Jonathan go off to?', you'll know.

I'll be back soon!

Transformers: or how Michael Bay FINALLY made a decent, toleralble movie

In this corner: director Michael Bay. The 2nd shittiest filmmaker, behind the atrocious Uwe Boll. The man who spawned the awful Armageddon, and two of the worst films of the decade: the insulting Pearl Harbor and the vile Bad Boys II. The egotistical, pompous hack who believes himself to be auteur in the film making world.

And in this corner, the movie critics and haters (I am one of them) who wish nothing more but to run his ass out of town by slamming his mindless action pieces, his laughable dialogue, and his over-the-top and misplaced dramatic moments.

And what better way to start but to bitch-slap his latest offering, Transformers? Like Bay's other shit movies, there's the mindless, big, loud and dumb action pieces between Optimus Prime and the Autobots vs. Megatron and his cronies, the Decepticons. There's the signature crap storyline that goes off with to many characters: High school student Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) buys a dented Camero that turns out to be an autobot, Bumblebee, that helps young Sam team up with hottie Mikaela (Meagan Fox) to find the Allspark, a device that if fallen into the wrong hands, grants unlimited power to that alien robots. The autobots seek it to rebuild their home world of Cybertron, the decepicons want it only to enslave the galaxy. Earlier on, U.S. soldiers stationed in Qatar break into a fight of one one of the deceptions that hacks the U.S. security system, leaving Capt. Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and his friend, Sgt. Epps (Tyrese Gibson) out in the middle of the desert with a decepticon on their trails. And in a post 9/11 world, it wouldn't be anything but appropriate but to place a member of Dubaya's 'Axis of Evil' as a potential threat - North Korea.

Enough to crucify Bay's latest work yet again, right?

Sorry haters, but this time, Bay wins this round by way of knockout.

Bay haters who are reading this are wondering, 'Michael Bay made a good movie? How was this impossible feat accomplished?'

First off, nuts to Bay for doing what he's really bad at: filling in a weak story as an excuse to add in two hours and twenty-four minutes of implausible, mindless, robot-on-robot violence. From the transformations, to the loud, ear-deafening action-sequences, Bay works the excitement that puts Sam Rami's mediocre Spider-Man 3 and Gore Veberinski's bloated Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End to absolute shame.

Second, in hiring Steven Spielberg to co-produce the film instead of world record holder for longest charade of being a one-trick wonder producer, Jerry Bruckheimer. And third, for hiring LeBeouf to play the role of Sam. If Distrubia was his breakout performance, then Transformers is his vehicle to becoming a household name. Plus, he's the lone standout in a movie full of predictable cardboard cutout characters, which probably isn't saying much in a Michael Bay movie.

As predicted, critics are resuming the Michael Bay hate fest. Let em. In a summer full of mediocre sell-outs, Transformenrs will look like one of the few movies this summer that were fucked around with by human hands.

*** stars out of ****

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Day

Today is July 4, our nation's two-hundred and thirty-first birthday.

In 231 years our nation has withstood every obstacle that has been handed.

Each year, I look at the obstacles that have tested our nation's strength and endurance our ability to thrive under change and crisis. From our fight for freedom and the war at home, to the Great Depression and World War II, to the Civil Rights Era to the constitutional crisis that was Watergate, somehow we have come out the other end better and stronger as a nation.

This year, after six years of watching Bush and Cheney showing not only complete disregard for human life in their blood for oil war in Iraq, not only the complete disregard the well being of Americans though their tax breaks for only the wealthiest 1%, but for also our civil rights. In just six years, these two men have all but said that we are the law, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Rule of Law, and Government of the People, for the People, and by the People be damned though the acts of spying on Americans without a warrant or a court order, suspending Habeas Corpus disguised as a bill that will protect the American people, and turning our justice system into a partisan freakshow for an Administration to get away with any crime they have committed, I ask myself: how the fuck did it come to this?

How is it that after 231 years, that our way of life is threated by two businessmen cloaked as the President and the Vice-President who are selling out this country for profit?

How is that we told off King George when he treated our nation like dog shit, but keep silent about the reckless abuse of power coming from the White House?
This Independence Day, I say, we as Americans need to re-examine our history, and our rights as Americans and ask ourselves this question: do we let our elected officials continue to further abuse our laws and our nation, or do we in one united, loud voice reclaim our dignity and our rights and say, 'enough is enough!'?

This is the choice we must make alone.

Good night, and good luck.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

EIS Junior Assistant Program: 6/25 - 6/29

Here again, is a recap of all that went down at the Elementary of Science this week. Enjoy!

Day 6: There's a saying during the summer program at EIS: every Monday feels like the first day of camp. You see, every Monday, we have students returning for another week, students who have left because their weeks at EIS ended, and we have fresh new students entering the program for the first time. Today was orientation day, where the kids got to know their instructors and got to know each other. Most of the instructors are the same (Nicole teaches photography, Una teaches Neuroscience, Ed teaches Engineering, Kelly [a guy's name btw] teaches Computer Science, along with Sarah, Sapha teaches Biology, Heather teaches Natural Science), except one new teacher, Jacob, who now teaches Environmental Science in place of a female teacher who's name has now slipped my mind. Along with the new students and teacher, a new Junior Assistant showed up this week, Ashley. And like the first day of camp, the children were excited to be here, yet they were also noisy and talkative, and we, the JA's had to slap em around to make sure who was boss (us and the instructors). I found out today that i'm stuck doing the 9:00 a.m. shift because of a lack of male supervisors in this hour, which isn't all bad. I also chose to help out Nicole with her classroom for the rest of the time that i'm here, mostly cause we make a good team and i'm a great help in the dark room.

Photography - the kids learned how to take an action photograph using an old-fashioned camera (think 80s - 2004) where you had to wind, then shoot, wind, then shoot. Yeah, that kind.

Computer Science (Sarah) - the kids are learning how to record sound on the computer. I contributed to the fun by clucking like the chicken at the closing credits to "Robot Chicken" on Adult Swim! At the end of the week, they'll be able to make their own CD, complete with computer-made music.

Computer Science (Kelly) - the kids were writing a few sentence in step one of the plan to create their own website and i was called in by Kelly to help the little ones with fonts, colors, size of fonts, etc. Best part of the job that day? I got to go on the internet and screw around and rub it in the kids faces (I both helped Kelly and did some surfing on the web)!

Day 7: This may well be my shortest post on my adventures at the Elementary Institute of Science because it was so boring.
I was in Photography with Nicole an thought her classes with the kids today, it was mostly lectures about how to work in the darkroom, what the chemicals are, and how everything works in a nutshell. The students did get to work in the darkroom, but only on test strips of old camera film. The highlight of my day was introducing myself to some students at Mesa College and I found myself staring at a fine-ass asian chick with a nice body, pretty face, great legs, lovely get the picture - she was smokin hot!!!! Her presence and the thought of her carried me through what was a slow, sluggish day.

Day 8: A priority shift occurred today: I swapped schedules times with another Junior Assistant, Victoria. She got the 9:00 a.m. group of kids and Photography with Nicole, and I got the 10:00 a.m. kids, Computer Science with Kelly, and Engineering with Ed, just to try something different for a day.
I really wish I hadn't around the second group of kids I was helping Kelly with.
Jesus, those sugar-fueled monstrosities our society calls children wore me down all fucking day!!
By lunch Kelly granted me immunity from helping him out, so I helped set up this week's presentation in the conference room on diabetes.
Just another day at the office, I suppose.

Computer Science - groups F and G worked on creating their own web sites, with me running back and forth like a wind-up doll, checking and making sure that they are doing the steps to create their website properly.

Natural Science - really didn't help out the instructor, Heather, just came into her class and helped her clean up the room after an experiment.

Engineering - worked with Ed and group F on an experiment (including water, some rubber bands, window covering, an index card, and a glass cup) that taught the group about surface tension.

Day 9: Remember when Bill Maher said that some children needed to have their asses straightened out? Maher was right, as I had to do in Photography with Ms. Nicole (I went back to my regular time slot that day). Unfortunately, I had my ass straightened out when Nicole caught me getting short and threatening this kid named Charles (from group A) when he was constantly acting up in the darkroom. You see, I this kid was messing around with his fellow group in the dark room and I had already told him to stop. He wouldn't listen, so I have him some tough love: stop fucking around in the dark room and with his teammates of I send him to the office. Charles apparently got the message, but it was my tone that got me in trouble with Nicole. I didn't yell at the kid, but I spoke to him as if I were my dad, and I had really fucked up. I apologized for being short, even though I thought my actions were only to make sure he wasn't screwing around in the dark room, with all the equipment and the chemicals the classes were working with. I liked Charles, but I had to put him back in line.

Photography - the groups were developing their action shots they took on Monday.

Day 10: If you ever get to come down to San Diego, make sure you go to the Carlsbad Strawberry Farm. You get to pick your own strawberries for a small fee, and you get to eat the right off the vine if you wanted to (they use no pesticides or chemicals). Also, visit the Museum of Making Music as well, if you want to tour all the different types of instruments, or if you're a history or music buff. That was the kids field trip on Friday. I was on my A-game, the kids had a blast picking strawberries and learning about the evolution of music, and it was a nice, sunny day in San Diego. What more could you ask for?

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Religious Right and contraception/abortion: Ignorance is bliss

If you want to know just how stupid and ignorant the right-wing Christian zealots (and the Catholic Church) are, check out this discussion on abortion and contraception.

At any rate, we won't set our sights on contraception AFTER we get abortion banned because our sights are ALREADY set on contraception...though we have a lot of work to do among Catholics, first, because after Vatican II it was mistakenly assumed by most Catholics that contraception was no big deal. It is, of course, a big deal and now the Church is starting to re-emphasise that if you don't want children, don't have sex.

First Noonan, abortion is not - I repeat - is not going away for the following reasons:

1st reason: it's noting short of political suicide! Unless the GOP can manage to win an election (without resorting to the tricks they pulled in Ohio in 2004) without the majority of women who support abortion, there is no way you guys will overturn Roe vs. Wade.
2nd reason: God forebid this abortion is outlawed, it will only be a matter of time before the pressure of protesters force govt. to make it legal again.
3rd reason: you're only putting women in more risk to turn to the old days of getting an abortion..........and we really don't want to go down that road.

Second, just telling someone to not to have sex isn't the be-all-end-all treatment against unwanted pregnancy and preventing STD's. People (especially young people) need to be educated about the risks of having sex and they need to hear all the choices that are given to them, not just your own.
And third, Mark, ".......but contraception is wrong........." what bullshit, contraception's the thing that would prevent me from Jonathan Jr. or from having VD, and btw: who the fuck are you to shove your holier-than-thou views onto others, from a man who lives in...........Las Vegas, a place riddled with gambling, prostitution, and sex?
Noonan, just remember: "Judge not, least ye be judged."