Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not even during the winter holidays can Obama catch a break from conservatives

In this increasingly political and ideological divided American landscape, one of the few things we can find common ground in is the decency to leave partisanship to side during the winter holidays, and wish each other a safe and Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukkah if your Jewish), and a Happy New Year, and we'll resume our ongoing clash of ideologies in 2010. Since this year town hall meetings and Addresses to the Congress have become popular venues for people to yell, shout, and bitch without regard for basic forms of respect for other people, one would believe that even the spirit of the holiday season can't get tarred and feathered with partisanship.

Enter conservative columnist Tony Blankley and his piece on the Huffington Post about his hope for the holiday season. And if you think it's the standard peace on earth and goodwill towards man sentiment, you're nuts.

Taking stock this second Christmas after the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, as a conservative Republican (with growing tea-party tendencies) I'm filled with a thrilling, unexpected hopefulness that the president may be well on his way to losing his battle for the hearts and minds of the American people -- tempered by a shocked disbelief that so much long-term damage could have been perpetrated on the American economy, national security and way of life in just 11 months of ill-judged governance.

Mr. Blankley: The same rule that's applied to someone's death should be applied to the holidays - if you don't have anything kind to say about someone, then it's best to keep your thoughts to yourself.

Remarkably, this view could apply equally to the left and to the right. Mr. Obama first thrilled, then disappointed and now enrages the left with his policies of (as they now see it): (1) giving the banks, health insurance companies, drug companies, for-profit hospitals and Washington lobbyists everything they want; (2) doing nothing for middle-class homeowners; and (3) escalating the war in Afghanistan.

Yeah, we're disappointed that for all of the president's talk on creating a public option for the middle class and getting tougher on Wall Street, he has continued down the same path as president's have before him (except in the case of escalating the war in Afghanistan, we should have known Obama would stay true on finishing the job in the Afghan region). But I do recall having Obama say that there would be setbacks and false starts along the way, and no doubt, i'm going to disagree with the president more issues to come. But this is one liberal who isn't going to do what so many pissed-off liberals and progressives are threatening to do or have already done: say 'fuck it, time for a third party candidate in 2012,' which will make us feel better in the short term, but it won't change jack shit in the long haul.

Of course, conservatives are appalled at (among other things) the trillions of dollars in new deficits, the nationalizations, the trillion-dollar partisan slush fund (i.e., stimulus packages), the attempted federal government takeover of the private economy via carbon taxing and regulating, the weakening of our anti-terrorism efforts, the never-ending worldwide apology tour, the undercutting of allies while appeasing enemies, and the ongoing effort to destroy our health care system and replace it with a socialized, rationing Euro-system.

So tell me, exactly where was the conservative outrage when Bush Jr. handed out billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest 1% of Americans? Why didn't the so-called fiscal conservatives call out the Bush administration when they were ballooning the federal deficit to the point where Wall Street almost went under last year?
Also, your fake outrage over the Obama White House's approach to foreign policy is pathetic. Remind me: which party was it that staunchly defended and acted as the pit bull when Bush and Cheney lied an entire nation into a war of choice? Exactly which president thought that tough talk and acting like we were the biggest, baddest bully on the world's playground would help us in winning the War on Terrorism? And while the previous administration presided over torturing enemy combatants, who defended such barbaric, medieval, and illegal techniques vehemently? Oh, that's right: when a Republican president starts an illegal war, tortures enemy combatants, and violates the Constitution, then all that means is that he's protecting the nation from terrorist attacks. When a Democratic president engages in diplomacy to solve foreign affairs, he's weakening national security by not calling in air strikes!

There's a reason why I don't plan on ever voting for your party, Mr. Blankley. The current crop of stuck-in-the-mud Reaganites in Congress, coupled with big business first fiscal conservatism, radical Christian fundamentalists, and the bat-shit simpleton TEA-Party movement further remind me why the GOP cannot be entrusted with political power in this country until they return to some form of functioning normalcy. I just just hope p.o.'d progressives can find that same sentiment again. We can choose to let setback after setback make us stay home on 2010 and 2012 and allow a (shudder) Sarah Palin to run the Oval Office and get her hands on the nuclear codes. Or we can fight for what we believe in and be ready to swallow our pride and make tough compromises when we don't get our way.

President Obama must also understand that although that we are still on his side, that if doesn't dig deep and find a pair of cajones and fight for his base, his eloquent speaking abilities might not sway us in the 2012 Presidential elections. We understand (or at least I hope some liberals do) that in order to bring about meaningful change and reform to America, sometimes you have to pragmatic about what you can get, and what's just a pipe dream at the moment. But Obama must quickly learn that compromise can only go so far until it's just a piece of legislation that looks like it was written by the other side, word for word. He will eventually have to learn to draw a distinct line in the sane and risk pissing people off. Right now, he has to show that he's fighting for his base, and for middle America, and not just bowing to Wall Street and Big Pharma.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen, the AFC West Champions

The San Diego Chargers....if you're keeping score, it's San Diego's fourth consecutive title since Philip Rivers assumed the QB position after releasing Drew Brees to the New Orleans Saints in 2006, the third under Norv Turner, and their fifth title in six years (2004, 2006-2009). After the Bolts got spanked by the Denver Donkeys on Oct. 23, If you would have told any Chargers fan that we'd go on a nine game win streak, win the West, and potentiality fight for the no.2 seed in the AFC playoff picture and the first-round bye week, we all would have had a nice laugh, and continue to sulk. Not Norv, or Philip, or the rest of this Chargers team. Despite injuries to Center Nick Hardwicke, Nose Tackle Jamal Williams, among others, and a mediocre 2-3 start, big props for this team not to hit the panic button and win the games they needed to win to be placed in this position.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The 100 Best Films of the Decade, Part 4

70. Shrek (2001) - Sure, Shrek 2 was flat-out hilarious, and Shrek the Third was a rehash of left-over pop-culture gags and crude jokes, but the original still stays with me. I loved how this sweet and funny-as-hell spoof took every fantasy fable from The Three Pigs to Rapunzel, used every universal, cliched and worn-out trick from said stories and made this kid's story about a isolated ogre and his ever-chattering ass trying to rescue a princess for the short-stature prick of a king, adult friendly as well. Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz bring the funny and touching romance in Shrek and Fiona, but Eddie Murphey is the side-splitting standout of the bunch as Donkey, and is easily the best comic sidekick this decade.

69. Superbad (2007) - It's the moment when Seth (Jonah Hill) is pointed out that the girl he was dancing with at a house party just used his pants leg as a tampon, when I realized what this raunchy high school flick was: my generation's version of American Pie. Two best buds Seth and Evan (Michael Cera) attempt to buy booze and score with their dream girls Jules (Emma Stone) and Becca (Martha MacIssac) on the last night of their high school lives. Add in a nerd even Napoleon Dynamite wouldn't hang with in Fogel (the brilliant Christopher Mintz-Plasse) tagging along as under the now-infamous McLovin', two incompetent cops (Seth Rogen and SNL funnyman Bill Hader), and artful dick drawings, and you get a vulgar, crude, hilarious and honest look at teenage boys being teenage boys.

68. Punch-Drunk Love (2002) - The only thing stranger than this oddball romantic comedy from Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) about a salesman and the Brit executive (the charming Emily Watson) who sees something deeper, past his shy and sometimes pent-up violent nature, is the fact that Adam Sandler shows his acting chops. Yes, the same person who starred in Billy Madison and The Waterboy, brings more than just his regular idiot-boy shtick. Sandler bristles with insecurity, isolation, humor and inconsolable rage - sometimes, all at once in Barry Egan. He's a knockout.

67. Traffic (2000) - Of all the films Steven Soderbergh has done this decade (Erin Brockovich, the Oceans 11 trilogy, The Informant!, Che, to name a few), his no-bull look at the drug war is my favorite from him. Interlocking stories - the segment about the newly-appointed anti-narcotics czar (Michael Douglas) fighting two wars, America's War on Drugs and the one at home with her daughter's decent into freebasing addict status (Erika Christensen in a heart-wrenching performance); the San Diego-based drug lord (Stephen Bauer) and his wife (an excellent Catherine Zeta-Jones), oblivious as to how hubby makes his money; and a Tijuana narc officer (Benicio Del Toro) caught in a trap between his duties and the corrupt officials who work for the drug cartels - all serve their purposes without preaching to anyone, except weaving a story in which the characters affect everyone without meeting face to face.

66. Ray (2004) - Much like with Adam Sandler in P.T. Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love, who here thought comedian Jamie Foxx could give a brilliant performance as the late and great Ray Charles, much less act? Those who didn't raise your hands, look to his breakout role as a cab driver in Collateral, but I digress. Foxx doesn't just play Charles, but so much as nail every nuance and gesture. Watching him struggle through blindness and drug addiction is harrowing and haunting, and Foxx completes the journey with one of the most powerful performances this decade.

65. WALL-E (2008) - Common sense wold dictate that after making animation landmarks with Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille, that Pixar Animation Studios would finally run out of gas and release a mediocre, cliched animation flick. 30 wordless minutes into writer-director Andrew Stanton's WALL-E, in which a robot is programmed to clean up after Earth becomes uninhabitable for human life to continue on living, the wizards at Pixar show no signs of letting up or slowing down anytime soon. WALL-E is a gorgeous, and heartfelt, and haunting picture that stays with you long after the credits roll. Gorgeous, because it's what Pixar does best with their animation; heartfelt, for the romance between WALL-E and EVE (the dance outside the Axiom spaceship is one of the most moving scenes i've seen a film since Maya talking about her love of wine in Sideways); haunting, because of the film's vision of planet Earth as a garbage wasteland after both corporate greed coupled with humanity's ignorance nearly destroying their home.

64. Batman Begins (2005) - In the hands of Christopher Nolan, he breathes life into a franchise that looked like it had nothing left. As haunted, playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne, Christian Bale gives him and his alter ego Batman, the film's grieving heart and battered soul. Nolan doens't head straight for the Batsuit or the Batmobile. We go to the source of Wayne's troubles: his traumatic childhood - from the fall in the well full of bats to the moment he witnesses his parents shot in cold blood - and his search to find justice and himself in the Himalayan mountains.

63. School of Rock (2003) - Probably the coolest, most kick-ass (though fictional) rock band i've seen....and they're only in grade school! The lead singer? A 30-something deadbeat faking it as a teacher for a private school academy for a chance to play in Battle of the Bands. It screams idiocy and borders on near-pedophilia, but kudos to screenwriter Mike White, and director Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise) by keeping the story between the young characters and their teacher, (an off-the-walls comedic performance by Jack Black) about them, and the sick music they play. Rock on, kids.

62. The Last Samurai (2003) - Say what you will about Tom Cruise (an ego-driven dick who's part of a crazy, brainwashing cult), but as Capt. Nathan Algren, an alcoholic soldier ashamed of the sins he's committed against an indigenous tribe, it's his finest hour as an actor. His job now is to wipe out the samurai, led by the rebel Katsumoto (an excellent Ken Wantanabe) in order to modernize Japan with the West, only to become captured and end up joining Katsumoto's cause. Critics say Edward Zwick's moive was nothing more than a romanticizing of federal Japan. That's the point. The Last Samurai is a sweeping, romanticized tale of the waning days of a world we now only remember in history textbooks, and to that regard, it's one powerful period piece with stunning cinematography work and a mesmerizing score by Hans Zimmer.

61. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) - Confession: up to seeing Woody Allen's funny, sexy, and heartbreaking comedy, I have never seen anything by Allen. Afterwords, I snatched up all the work he's done this decade (Match Point, Scoop, Whatever Works, Cassandra's Dream). This is easily my favorite. I love the sexual tension between Scarlet Johannson, Javier Bardem, and Penelope Cruz, and I loved the dialogue between all of Woody Allen's characters. What I loved most of all was Cruz as Maria Elena, who is literally, lightning in a bottle. She's funny, wildly seductive, and quietly heartbreaking.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The 100 Best Films of the Decade, Part 3

80. Chicago (2002) - Confession: I couldn't stand this movie when it was received all the praise that it did. I still think The Pianist (another movie that's on my list) was far superior than this re-telling of Bob Fosse's 1920's hit play. I really didn't like how Queen Latifa got screwed by the Academy by taking Catherine Zeta-Jones over her for Supporting Actress. Years lather, though, this exciting and sassy movie grew on me. I fell in love with the musical no's, including the kick-in-the-jams opener "All That Jazz," the seductiveness of Latifa's "You Be Good to Mamma," and the heartbreaking ballad from John C. Reilly's Amos Hart singing, "Mr. Cellophane." And watching Richard Gere's dynamic performance as Billy Flynn and his tap dance solo, "Razzle Dazzle," is nothing less than fucking magic. I loved how Zeta-Jones' Velma Kelly and Renee Zelwegger's Roxy Hart doe their damned hardest to one-up one another for fame - ironic, considering how their catfights for the limelight would become a metaphor how today's starlets sink to any degrading low for their 15 minutes - and to buy their way out of prison. And I loved the movie's irresistible swagger it displayed. Simply put, it's a grand old time.

79. The Wrestler (2008) - From the moment Mickey Rourke appears on the screen as Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a self-described "broken down piece of meat," wrestler and estranged father, he immediately has our undivided attention. By film's end, it's a harrowing and haunting performance where Rourke, like The Ram, leaves everything - his love for the sport, and his life - in the ring. Rourke's performance is something you won't soon forget. The same goes with Darren Aronofsky's gritty and soul-bearing direction.

78. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) - The best Potter movie since Alfonso Cuaron's Prisoner of Azkaban, the sixth installment of J.K. Rowing's masterful children's literature series, is also the most beautifully shot (cinematographer Bruno Debonnel deserves to have Academy voters singing his praises) and mature of the set. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are all aces, but it's the supporting crew that shocks and wows you, particularly the dynamic Alan Rickman as Snape, who's mere scowls and expressions do more acting than the lines he sinks into; Helena Bonham Carter is sexiness villainy personified as the mad Bellatrix Lestrang; the suprising and haunting Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, Harry's arch-rival given a job by the evil Lord Voldemort that could break his soul in two; and the magnificent Sir Michael Gambon as the clever and wise Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

77. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) - Once a project that the late Stanley Kubrick passed on to Steven Speilberg a few years before his death, Kubrick's vision of a crumbling world in the near future and the story of a android child programmed to love comes to breathtakingly, vivid life in Speilberg's hands. Haley Joel Osmet's touching and haunting performance as David, the young android who wants to be a real boy, proved that his breakout hit as the kid who could see dead people in The Sixth Sense was no fluke.

76. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) - Controversial is an understatement. Michael Moore's blistering, mad-as-hell documentary slamming the Bush administration's actions after the wake of the 9/11 attacks, started a firestorm of debate about the War in Iraq, our approach to the War on Terrorism, and about the Commander-in-Chief himself. Moore fudged facts, divided audiences and made movie history as his documentary became the highest-grossing documentary of all time. A must watch for anyone who wants to capture the intensity of debate dealing with the Iraq War, and the Bush presidency.

75. Chocolat (2000) - Like Chicago, this one eventually grew on me over time. A comic fable about a mother (Juliette Binoche) and her daughter (Victoire Thivisol) who set up the chocolate shop in a small French village and causes a sensual commotion during the forty days of Lent. Maybe I was too young to feel giddy and warm about the film's humorous and sensual nature, but as I grew older, I've come to love this irresistible and delicious fable from director Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules).

74. Open Range (2003) - It's no Unforgiven, but this western is a classic nonetheless, thanks in part to someone who's made this kind of movie before: Kevin Costner shoots the vast, American West with a sweeping passion. Charley (Costner) and Boss Spearman (the great Robert Duvall) are two cowboys seeking justice as one of their on is murdered by a corrupt rancher (Sir Michael Gambon) and his cronies. Of course, there's a love interest (Annette Bening as the town nurse) and there's a climatic standoff (it's a perfectly shot action piece) but the driving force is between Costner and Duvall as two weary cowboys living in a country that has little need for cowboys.

73. Maria Full Of Grace (2004) - Knockout performances don't get any better than watching Catalina Sandino Moreno play Maria Alverz, a 17 year-old from Colombia leaving her job at a rose factory for a life as a drug mule. Watching Moreno's Maria swallow pellets of heroin is just as hard as watching an example of the consequences of what could happen if a pellet should leak out during the flight to New York. Give credit to first-time director Joshua Martson for the no-bull look at the human element of drug traffiking, and the lengths of which Maria - and many immigrants - are willing to undertake to pursue the American Dream.

72. Crash (2005) - Between a film centering around race relations in America and two gay cowboys, Oscar voters went with the safer pick in Paul Haggis' multi-layered drama about the connections several people will share with one another in the span of 36 hrs, which isn't saying much. This movie and it's characters confront their racially-held stereotypes about others, and become victims themselves. All the actors excell, but the standouts are Matt Dillon as a racist cop tending to his ailing father; Sandra Bullock as the wife of a D.A. who's car was hijacked at gunpoint; rapper Ludacris as a car thief who ponders with his partner (Larenz Tate) about race, class and life; and Thandie Newton, the wife of a black TV director (Terrance Howard) who was sexually molested by Matt Dillon's character.

71. Juno (2007) - I can't remember the last time i've seen any actor or actress burst forth with as much biting wit and aching vulnerability than Ellen Page as Juno McGruff. It's a joy to watch Page sink into Juno - a high school student who winds up pregnant to her boyfriend Pauly Pleaker (Michael Cera) who decides to give the baby away to two hopeful parents (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) - and let her rip into some of the best lines i've heard in a while. Of course, the credit also goes into first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody for pouring sharp humor and unflinching honesty into Juno's world - a world that's all to familiar for anyone who remembers growing up in their teenage years.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The 100 Best Films of the Decade, Part 2

90. Casino Royale (2006) - Daniel Craig might not look like 007 in some of the eyes of the fanboys our there, but to me, he is the embodiment of the James Bond psyche: an emotionally detached, arrogant, narcissistic killing machine. Here, in this reboot of the Bond franchise, Craig nails Bond's world to the letter. Let's not forget that after the awful The World Is Not Enough, and the disappointing Die Another Day, Casino Royale is the best-looking - and most exciting - Bond picture since Goldeneye.

89. Thirteen (2003) - If Mean Girls was a satirical look on the pressures of emerging womanhood in high school, Catherine Hardwicke's '03 debut about a straight-lace good girl gone off the deep end bad is the in-your face realism of growing up through the eyes of a teenage girl. Evan Rachel Wood is stunning as Tracy, the protagonist transformed into every parent's nightmare: an out-of-control, drug fueled wild-child that's slowing deteriorating on the inside.

88. Team America: World Police (2004) It's probably the most outrageous puppet film ever made. It figures that South Park bad boys Trey Parker and Matt Stone would somehow take a satirical approach of America's destructive need to police the world after 9/11 and infuse puppet sex, lampoon Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn (among others) for taking themselves way too seriously, and have North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il singing a heartfelt ballad, "I'm So Ronley."

87. Gangs Of New York (2002) - Before watching this stunning period drama from Martin Scorsese, I have never watched any of his films, and I hated Leonardo DiCaprio with a burning passion. Almost three hours later, I walked out as a fan of Scorsese's splendid mastery of his craft, and of DiCaprio's emergence as an actor, and not some pretty-boy hack who gets boned in almost every role he's in. The triumph is in how Marty's vision of the immigrant experience in 19th century America is presented: production designer Dante Feretti, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus,and actors DiCaprio, Daniel-Day Lewis, Cameron Diaz, John C.Reilly, etc) all paint this visually striking and unforgettable story of people carving out their piece of America by whatever means necessary.

86. Ratatouille (2007) - The story of a rat named Remy (voiced by Patton Oswald) with a passion to set the Paris restaurant scene ablaze with his cooking skills sounds like a shitty, cliche-riddled after school special on Playhouse Disney. If you're writer-director Brad Bird and the wizards at Pixar Animation Studios, it's a gorgeous, funny and touching love letter to Paris, France that's sealed with a kiss, and yet one of five movies from the studio that takes it's place upon my list.

85. My Big, Fat Greek Wedding (2002) - The movie that opened my eyes to the independent movie scene. And what a way to do it: Star and screenwriter Nina Vardalos shows us the insanity of a family during the lead up to Toula Portokalos'(Vardalos) wedding to non-Greek vegan Ian Miller (a charming John Corbett). Sure, the jokes are corny and repetitive, but the love between Nina and John's character's is genuinely real and touching.

84. Where The Wild Things Are (2009) - Maurice Sendak's short tale of childhood imagination is a beloved children's story that stays with both parent and child who read it. In director Spike Jonze's hands, its a thrilling and emotional powerhouse story of Max (a hellva performance from 12 year-old Max Records) and his imagination escaping to an island where Wild Things rule without rules of boundaries after a fight with his divorced mother (a terrific Catherine Keener) and new beau (Mark Ruffalo). Jonze, along with co-writer Dave Eggers, and cinematographer Lance Acord capture Max's wild world and the creatures who inhabit it the same as the entire movie: like a boy filled with emotions that he can't explain.

83. Training Day (2001) - For the longest time, I've always seen Denzel Washington as playing the protagonist. Boy was it thrilling to watch Washington play a dirty cop in Alonzo Harris, teeter-totting between training Jake Hoyt (a great Ethan Hawke) and collecting money for the Russian Mafia to pin a murder on someone. The standoff between Hawke and Washington towards the film's end is as explosive as any gunfight director Antoine Fuqua delivers in this tale of crime and consequences, the narc officer who doesn't know up from down, and doesn't much care anymore.

82. 28 Days Later (2003) - In Danny Boyle's post-apocalyptic London, a virus unleashed onto the citizens doesn't make the infected traditionally slow, monotone, and devour brains. These fuckers are fast, they go for the arteries, and make noises like diseased dogs released from hell. Unlike most horror films, 28 Days Later sets a new watermark in taking you on a wild and frighting ride through the end of civilization by pummeling the viewer with danger lurking in ever empty corner and hitting you hard, fast, and often with zombie-shredding violence. Have fun going to sleep afterwords.

81. Spider-Man (2002) - It was the superhero movie that could be campy, but have a soul and a solid storyline also. Kudos to director Sam Rami and screenwriter David Koepp for displaying to everyone how to make an enjoyable summer popcorn film that doesn't sacrifice outstanding action pieces and excellent visual effects for story and character development.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Worst. Vampire. Movie. Ever.

A little story about how tonight was supposed to go: mother and I wanted to go to the local movie theater. What to see?

Up In The Air?, In limited release (L.A., New York, etc.).

Fantastic Mr. Fox? Loved it, didn't start until 7:10. Mom didn't want to wait that long.

Precious? Wasn't playing there, and I'm not in the mood for a downer film at this time of year.

My suggestion to our dilemma? Watch, for the third time, Quentin Tarantino's excellent Inglorious Basterds. Easily one of -- if not -- my favorite film of 2009.

There we are, standing in line, and i'm about to watch Brad Pitt butcher the Italian language in front of the movie's real bastard, Col. Hans "the Jew Hunter" Lander (Christoeph Waltz, in a deliciously evil performance that will earn him a Best Supporting Actor statuette in March)...not to mention, Tarantino's own ultimate butcher job - the outcome of World War 2, where instead of Hitler and his floozy hiding out in a bunker while the Allied troops begin their march on Berlin, du fuhrer gets a hailstorm of bullets to the face (along with the higher-ups in the Nazi high command) while watching a propaganda picture.

"Welcome to the Regal, what movie would you like to see?" says the employee working the box office.

"Two military for New Moon, at 6:35."

I stared at my mother, at a loss for words.

In a heartbeat, she decides to drag me into a two plus hour teen/emo/vampire soap opera that I hated the first go around with Twilight. Now, here I am, again, about to enter a world where vampires glitter in the sunlight, where moping is a national pastime in the sleepy town of Forks, Washington, and where annoying middle-school girls blatantly ignore the commercials that ask the audience to silence their cell phones and scream at the sight of two, wooden Abercrombie & Fitch models as they're about to engage in the movie's many money shots.

Somewhere in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, as Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) goes through the motions of losing her beloved vampire lover Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) - and, when I mean going through the motions, I mean the stuff most normal teenage girls would do when they get dumped: dive off a cliff into the ocean, take a ride home from a slimy biker looking to get some barely teenage pussy, and squeal like a pig that's about to become someone's Christmas dinner - I had a burning desire to stand up and tell the young, female audience the inconvenient truth about Ms. Swan: that's she's a crazy, clingy woman who needs to get some psychiatric help and find better taste in men!

Consider the evidence: In Twilight she dates a 109 year-old vampire who's relatives and beau want to feast on her flesh. In the second installment to Stephanie Meyer's worldwide best selling books, she's hanging out with a pack of werewolves that could take half her face off if she gets them angry! Speaking of getting angry, there's a scene where Taylor Lautner's Jacob Black tells Alice Cullen, (Ashley Greene), in his "serious" tone, "Don't...make me angry!" Somewhere, Lou Ferrigno is wishing he could have gotten copy rights to his signature line on the TV version of The Incredible Hulk.

For all the talk about the Twilight series being the modern-day epic romance about two star-crossed lovers, New Moon is easily one of the most heartless romantic pictures to come along in a while. Take how Ed and Jacob face off towards the end, both ready to fight for Bella's affections. Who does Bella choose to be with? Surely it would be Jacob, the werewolf who brings her back from her severe bout of depression to a brighter form of melancholy, and all-around good chum, over Edward, the immortal 17 year-old vegan vampire who dumped Bella in the forest and left her there in the fetal position crying her eyes out, right?

Another example is how Bella continues to use Jacob like he's her personal tampon. Knowing that Jacob is good with repairing bikes, she brings him a beat-down motorcycle for him to repair. One might see this sequence as the two bonding. In reality, she just used him to see Edward's phantom pop up when she's acting like an adrenaline junkie, believing that seeing him like this is better than nothing at all. Except the new guy who's beginning to take a liking to you. And Meyer's Bella is supposed to be a positive role model for young girls? I'd rather them emulate Sarah Palin.

In the end, New Moon somehow manages to pull a double-whammy: its as boring and lifeless than the last installment, and damn-near reaches the idiot shallows of this summer's atrocious box-office champion, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The only reason this product-placement of a film avoids that dishonor is that it's unintentionally the funniest piece of filmmaking this year since The Hangover.

Did I forget to mention New Moon has made over $230 million at the box office, and the studio is set to release the next chapter of the Twilight franchise, Eclipse, next summer? God help us all.

1/2 stars out of ****

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Week 12 observations in the NFL

* The Saints are the real McCoy. Any team that can fluster Tom Brady and lay out a convincing ass-kicking on national television must be taken seriously. The irony watching this game became profound to me: Had A.J. Smith stuck it out with Drew Brees, instead of dumping him because his arm injury he suffered at the end of the 2005 season, there would be Super Bowls XLI and XLII titles in San Diego...and possibly rival Belichick's Patriots as the team of the decade. Yes, I said XLII, because watching the way Brees played against the Pats when he was a Charger, and how he played them on Monday night, add to it the endless amounts of firepower San Diego has, from LT to Antonio Gates to Vincent Jackson, Brady would have gone down in the Championship game.

* The Patriots will win the AFC East. They'll probably take the 3rd or 4th seed in the playoff picture. They'll probably embarrass whichever Wild-Card team comes to Foxbrough in January. The praise will be on full blast: the team that no one wants to play in the postseason is back and we'll have the Rivalry of the Decade, Part 2 between Manning and Brady. Yada, yada, yada. Guess what? Not gonna happen. Why? The young, inexperienced secondary will be eaten alive by either the tandems of Carson Palmer/Chad "Ochocinco" or Phillip Rivers/whichever 6-foot wide receiver is open down-field in the Divisional round. Unless Belichick can get the Secondary up to snuff, New England will face an early exit from the playoffs.

* As we pick up our collective jaws off the floor with Vince Young's last-minute heroics against the Arizona Cardinals, the team that went from a shocking 0-6 start under Kerry Collins (the same Kerry Collins that took Young's spot last year and led the Titans to a NFL-best 13-3 record and homeland advantage through the playoffs), to an equally shocking 5-game dream run of a winning streak, and with it, talks of being a contender for the 6th seed in the postseason. As much as I love the story of football's comeback kid and his growing maturity we see in each game, Tennessee won't make the playoffs for two reasons: the Indianapolis Colts and the San Diego Chargers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The 100 Best Films of the Decade, Part 1

Here we (almost) are. In 29 days, we're going to celebrate the first passing decade of the new millennium. As I said in September, I am going to part-take in a big endeavor: create my list of the 100 best films of the decade. And I have, with some debate on which movie should be placed where with the top 1-20. Anyways, here's part one of the top 100 films of the decade. Enjoy.

100. Mean Girls (2004) - Before Lindsay Lohan got involved with shots of vodka and blow, she was both a mega-babe and, talented to boot. Probably the best teen satire since Heathers and Clueless, this comedy takes us into the hellish jungle called high school and into the trenches of the warzone between Cady (Lohan), the new girl and the leader of the Plastics, Regina (the deliciously-evil Rachel McAdams). The verbal barbs, confrontations, and catfights bring a whole new meaning to the term, "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." It also helps that SNL alumni Tina Fey penned the script with ferocious wit that hits with pin-point accuracy.

99. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004) - In Kill Bill Vol.1, Quentin Tarantino proved he could make an ultra-violent action epic with amazing style. What would he have in store for this time for The Bride (Uma Thurman) as she carries out her quest to kill the DIVAs (the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad) and head honcho Bill (the late and great David Carradine) who gunned her down and left her for dead? A return to Tarantino's bread-and-butter: wickedly delicious dialogue, outrageous humor, and a moving storyline hidden beneath the director's blood-splattering wake. Tarantino's Vol. 2 hits a new watermark in his amazingly short career of ten years (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Vol.1, and Grindhouse: Death Proof) where he takes ever B-level spaghetti western film, and every 1970's exploitation flick and combines it into one exciting time at the movies.

98. 8 Mile (2002) - When we think of Eminem, we see a controversial white rapper who spits lyrics like a machine gun turret. Fast, ferocious, and shoots everything and anything that dare moves, he's up there with Jay-Z, Tupac, Biggie, and Nas (to name a few) as of the best MC's in rap. Who would have thought we say this about Slim Shady: an acting powerhouse? In 8 Mile, Eminem's Jimmy "Rabbit" Smith holds the screen with the look of a man strapped with explosives, rigged to blow at a moment's notice. The same can be said about this rags-to-riches drama, minus the riches.

97. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - It's Johnny Depp as the willy, charming, and cunning Captain, Captain Jack Sparrow, savy. What more needs to be said?

96. Collateral (2004) - Jamie Foxx wowed audiences as Ray Charles in the biopic, Ray, but in Michael Mann's stylish and fast-paced thriller about a cold, calculating contract killer (Tom Cruise) making five stops in the sleek and haunting Los Angles nightlife, tagging with him an unsuspecting cab driver named Max, Foxx's performance is nothing short of a revelation, matching step-for-step with Cruise's electrifying Vincent. Using mostly digital cameras to film the City of Angels at dusk, Mann shoots it like the devil and his minions are lurking around every dark alley and every light-gleaming street.

95. Pride and Prejudice (2005) - To quote Mr. Darcy himself, "You have bewitched me, body and soul." By the end of this wonderful and soulful Jane Austin adaptation, you'll fall in love with Keria Knightley's strong-willed presence (and her sharper tongue) as Elizabeth Bennet, Matthew MacFadyen's arrogant and longing Mr. Darcy, and director Joe Wright's keen detail to bring 18th century British romance and playful eroticism to a 21st century female audience.

94. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005) - Before Judd Apatow and company took over movie comedy, his claim to fame was the underrated comedy series, Freaks and Geeks. Apatow's Andy Stitzer(the ever-funny Steve Carrel), is a big time geek. He's 40, single, doesn't drink, and has never had intercourse with another woman. His new buddies -- Romney Falco, Paul Rudd, and Seth Rogen make you laugh til it hurts -- spend the rest of the time trying to get him laid, with disastrous results (see a drunken Leslie Mann giving Andy a car-ride from hell). Virgin is drop-dead hilarious and has something few crude guy flicks have: heart and a smart screenplay which fully understands that making a relationship work is much harder that pleasing someone sexually.

93. Doubt (2008) - Watching Oscar winners Philip Seymore Hoffman and Merely Streep trade insults and verbal blows over Sister Aloysius's (Streep) feelings about a song being sung in a school play, to an accusation of Father Flynn (Hoffman) conducting in a suspicious manner with one of the students, is like watching two prize fighters slug it out for 15 rounds without a clear indication of a winner. Without giving the motives of both Flynn and Aloysius away, Doubt leaves you thinking and leaves both characters doubting their own faith.

92. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - If Homer's The Odyssey took place in the 1930's Depression-era South, had three dumb, but earnest criminals led by George Clooney, trying to return home to his wife, Penny (Holly Hunter), included three Southern bells with a knack for attracting traveling men, a Warren hunting em down and always wearing sunglasses, and discovering a amazing treasure (i'll never tell what it is), it would look something like Joel and Ethan Coen's darkly humorous tale of faith, friendship, and endless amounts of Dapper Dan hair products.

91. Star Trek (2009) - Or: How T.V. genius J.J. Abrams (Lost) resurrected a franchise that was picked bone dry by the buzzards. It's hard not to praise all the actors involved, mainly because all of them had a chance to shine, so I'll point out a few: first to Zachary Quinto for being the best damn Spock since Lenord Nimoy donned the pointy ears; Chris Pine for never losing the swagger and my-way-or-the-highway attitude that made James T. Kirk an awesome U.S.S. Enterprise captain; Karl Urban for being the entertaining medical officer Bones; and Simon Pegg for stealing the show as Scotty. The real hero is Abrams, for bringing excitement, feeling, and a sense of endless wonder back to a franchise drifting into the far reaches of space.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week 11 observations in the NFL

* The next time Broncos rookie coach Josh McDaniels spits his game, his team better show up to play. McDaniels walked up to Chargers linebackers Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips and engaged in a little pregame smack-talking, saying, "we own you." Big mistake, as he later found out on the first drive when Phillips forces a strip from QB Chris Simms, only to be recovered by Saftey Steven Greggory, his first of two recovery fumbles on the game. That forced fumble was the beginning of San Diego's ass-whipping of the Broncos, 32-3 (yikes!), and the re-capture of the top spot in the AFC West Division. Another helpful tip for the young Belichick protege: when you lose your starting QB to an ankle injury and your backup hasn't played a full game since 2005, you really shouldn't be talking smack about your opponent.

* A show of hands, who here thought Sunday's most exciting game would come from a pair of 1-8 teams? This week's story wasn't about the power shift in the AFC west division, or how Indy and New Orleans are both 10-0, it was about the shootout at Ford Field between QB's Brady Quinn of the Browns and Matt Stanford of the Lions. Both young OB's threw for a combined 8 touchdowns and passed for a combined 726 passing yards. A few things we've learned in this game:
a.) both Quinn and Stafford have great potential. If these two can come out swinging like this later on down the road (and with the right set of offensive weapons), look out. These two would be scary to face every Sunday.
b.) despite a 2-8 record, Detroit fans finally have something to cheer about. For the first time in a long time, the Lions come out with a dramatic win, instead of coming out with another moral-crushing that will be toked about for months, even years, to come in a city that has become the poster child for how bleak the American economy is right now.
c.) Eric Mangini, for all intensive purposes, is probably the biggest bust to come out of the NFL since Ryan Leaf of my San Diego Chargers.

* Every year, there always seems to be a football team that catches lightning in a bottle and becomes the Cinderella story of the NFL. Last year, it was Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals and their amazing postseason run that got them to Super Bowl XLIII. This year, its the re-emergence of Vince Young and the Titans, a team under backup Kerry Collins, wound up clinching the no.1 spot in the AFC playoff seeding last year, only to star a shocking 0-6 this season. After last night's win over the Houston Texans, Tennessee has won four straight games since Young was re-activated, and could possibly shock everyone and make a playoff push. Can they do the impossible and win out to make it a real horse race in the AFC Wild Card race? Don't bet on it. Next week, they face last year's NFC Champs Arizona (7-3), and the the unbeaten Colts (10-0) the week after. In fact, four of the remaining six games in the regular season, the opposing teams are playoff bound with five wins or more (Cardinals, Colts, Dolphins and Chargers). A tall order to fill for Young and RB Chris Johnson, and one I highly doubt they can overcome.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I guess this was unaviodable...(Redux)

Tonight all across the country, the multiplex will be overun with tweens, high school girls, and mothers who dig vampires and werewolves who are more Calvin Kline-type models than they are, you know - vampires and werewolves. That's right, the next chapter in the Twilight series, New Moon, is set to make some serious box office gold this weekend and nothing I, or any of the critics who say the film flat out tanks, will matter. Much like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, this movie is critic-proof. For two hours and ten minutes, young girls will be staring at studly eye candy (with extra sappy teenage romance/angst and a splash of vampire and werewolf action thrown in).

Am I annoyed about hearing/reading about the relentless parade of movie news and what not? You bet. Do I really give a rat's ass about the rumors of lead actors Kirsten Stewart and teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson dating? Hardly. Am I going to be happy when this franchise joins with Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and High School Musical in the trash bin of flash-in-the-pan pop culture hits of the moment? Hell, I probably won't even remember The Twilight Saga, ten years from now (I hope). To all the Twilight-haters out there (and yes, I am a proud member of that group): Let the sparkling vampires have their moment, and allow all the pubescent tweeners mind-frig themselves silly to Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Later on in life, they'll come to the same conclusion that the rest of us knew right off the bat: 'God, that franchise sucked!'

Late Edit: When teen queen Miley Cyrus thinks the Twilight franchise sucks, you know it's only a matter of time before all the tweeners (i.e. the most fickle demographic on Gods green earth) wake up and get wise to the con job.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In the midst of tragedy, rationality must prevail

The events that unfolded at Ft. Hood in Texas are no doubt, a tragedy. We now know the culprit, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39 year-old Army psychiatrist shot and killed 13 men in uniform and injured over 30 others. We also know that various U.S. government agencies knew this guy was off, but sat on their asses anyway. And just today, President Obama made the trip to talk to and grieve with the families of the Ft. Hood victims. But one huge aspect that, I feel, is being lost in the new cycle, is how some people are desperately trying to, in the face of great loss, quell the backlash the Muslim community is receiving because of one extremist's actions. General George Casey's voice on the subject matter, to me, spoke volumes on Meet The Press.

"I think those concerns are real, and I will tell you, David, that they are fueled based by the speculation based on anecdotal evidence that people are presenting. I think we have to be very careful with that. Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength and as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse."

Days after the shooting, one extremist's actions have ignited fear-mongering and hatred against Muslims in the military and the faith in general.

Let's be mindful of one thing: This man's action's are both deplorable and condemnable, but his violet act does not speak for the vast ethos of the Muslim population and the Islamic faith, nor should it be taken that way in any context. These are sad and mournful times, but we must resist the worse angels of our nature to easily paint the bastard with the same brush of the normal, moderate people who practice the religion of Islam. To do so would only weaken our nation's resolve and creates hostilities between our own citizens.

As Chris Martin sang once before: "Give me love over lies / love over lies."

It's A Brand-New Ballgame In the AFC West

Let's rewind the clocks back to three weeks ago today: Denver just asserted itself as the real McCoy in the AFC by ripping San Diego a new one on Monday Night Football, 34-23. The Broncos were sitting mighty high at 6-0 and under rookie coach Josh McDaniel and red-hot QB Kyle Orton, the message was simple: there's a new, emerging elite unit in the AFC.

The Chargers, on the other hand,were on the outside looking in at 2-3, and thanks to a slew of injuries(an 8-week ankle injury to Pro-Bowl center Nick Hardwick in Week 1 vs OAK, a season-ending injury to nose tackle Jamal Williams among the hardest hit to SD), a lackluster O-line and D-line, and a laughable linebacking corp, looked like they were all but fucked; a team that was in complete disarray, and no answers in sight.

It looked like, once again, Norv Turner would have been in the unemployment line come the end of the season, along with General Manager A.J. Smith, Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera, Shawne Merriman, Antonio Cromarte, and whoever else's heads were waiting on the guillotine. Fans (myself included) were calling for a near-cleansing of the Chargers organization, and for Bill Cower and/or Tony Dungy to come out of retirement.

How quickly the tide can turn in football. In three weeks, you could be the team to beat in the Super Bowl, and five weeks later, the analysts would even question if your team could make the wild-card.

After Monday night's 28-10 ass-kicking from the World-Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver's got a new problem in the form of a three-time, AFC West powerhouse San Diego team, and from the looks of Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles, Antonio Gates, Shawn Phillips, and Eric Weddle, they're ready to take back what is theirs. Did I mention that in the span of three weeks the Chargers have gone 3-0, including finally beating a team with a winning record, and that "Lights Out" Merriman is back?

Should San Diego come out with ferosity against the Philidelphia Eagles on Sunday and win, next week's matchup between the Chargers and Broncos will be a no-holds barred slugfest to decide who will take the AFC West crown on national television.

Three weeks to the day, the AFC race was all but wrapped up. As the saying goes (and it should be applied to footbal, how sad that we fans keep forgetting), "it ain't over, til' it's over."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Daily KOS founder calls out GOP chickenhawk

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the liberal website Daily, and military veteran slams former GOP congressman Tom Tancredo on the Friday edition of "The Ed Show" with David Shuster filling in for Ed Schultz. Both men were brought in to discuss yesterday's Tea Party Rally that was held on the Capital building and some of the over-the-line signs that were used.

The debate became heated when Moulitsas defended health care reform when stating that the U.S. military uses government-run health insurance, with Tancredo stepping in and saying that he knew veterans who don't like their health insurance, and desire to switch to a voucher system and buy into a private insurance plan. Here's the clip:

Tom got mad when Markos called him out as a conservative who talks a big game, but never putting his money where his mouth was when it came to the military, and stormed off in the middle of the interview. Turns out that part was true.

As a Republican student activist, Tancredo spoke out in favor of the Vietnam War. After graduating from the University of Northern Colorado in June 1969, he became eligible to serve in Vietnam. Tancredo said he went for his physical, telling doctors he'd been treated for depression, and eventually got a "1-Y" deferment.

At any rate, great job from Markos for calling on this guy's BS.

It's almost the holidays

For everyone it means it's time to dig into our wallets and spend, spend, spend for our loved ones, make plans for Thanksgiving and X-Mas dinner, etc.

For some, it means getting into the holiday spirit by means of the usual traditions, like ice skating, or going door-to-door singing Christmas carols, or nuzzling by the fire with family, friends, or lovers.

For me, it's the most depressing time of the year.

Depressing, because its hard to get into the spirit of the season, and when I can't, I get even more depressed. I constantly replay, in my head, all the missed opportunities I should have taken if I wasn't so scared; I keep playing the "what if..." game repeatedly, and wonder if this will be the year where i'll have to go on some sort of anti-depressant medication.

For me, attending annual solstice parties result in me isolating myself from everyone else so I don't bring down their jolly good time.

X-Mas songs like "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," are replaced by Radiohead's "How To Disappear Completely," and Weezer's "The World Has Turned And Left Me Here" as carols.

Winter nights where people flock to ice rinks or to other parties to do holiday stuff become me sitting in my room, or in my dad's office, wondering when this mood of feeling like complete shit will pass.

Its the most wonderful time of the year....except for me.

And, like a train that's never late to its destination, it'll be on the platform on the dot, never early never late, but always on the dot.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Compassionate conservatism rearing its ugly head

Some of you may already know about the horrific and shocking tale of Jamie Leigh Jones, but for those who don't, here's a bit of info on her story.

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Yes, you read that right. The act itself, as it turns out, was a warm-up compared to what comes next in the story.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave. Jones described the container as sparely furnished with a bed, table and lamp.

Unfortunately, it gets more insulting. Under the Bush Department (lack) of Justice, her case was largely swept under the rug, and left for one group to settle the matter...Halliburton/KBR.

Jones is now trying to proceed with the case in civil court, but KBR is pushing for it to be heard in “private arbitration,” without a “public record or transcript.” Halliburton has “won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.”

Under a mandatory arbitration clause, if something happens to you - like the sexual abuse of Leigh Jones - under contract, you cannot sue the company for damages. Turns out its not just Halliburton that makes an arbitration clause mandatory in the workplace.
Hooters • Applebee's • KFC • Friendly Ice Cream Corporation • Circuit City • Neiman Marcus • Nordstrom • Hallmark Cards • Merrill Lynch • Citigroup • First usa • Ameriquest • Discover • Blue Cross Blue Shield • Aetna • Kaiser Permanente • AT&T • Ford • Daimler AG • Toyota • Clear Channel • General Electric • Halliburton • Bechtel • Rent-a-Center

Thankfully, last month, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in her favor over Halliburton, stating that her injuries were not covered by the arbitration clause.

Now what does this heartbreaking example of unchecked corporate accountability and another dark example of life under the Bush/Cheney era have to do with 'compassionate conservatism' rearing its ugly head yet again?

Junior Senator Al Franken of Minnesota introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that would make it illegal for defense contractors to stop employees from taking sexual abuse, battery, and harassment up to court, in other words, to make sure that we don't have to hear about another Jamie Leigh Jones in the news. You would beleive in the Senate, that a bill that would stop defense contractors from restricting employees from pressing charges because of rape or assault, would be an instant, no-brainer, unanimous 'yes' vote, right?

The bill did pass a vote of 68-30.

30 Senators basically defended rapists.

And these 30 Senators were, drumrolls please.......

Old, white, Republicans lawmakers. Here's the full list of the Senators who had the audacity to vote no.

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

I'm not one to wish ill will on others, but in this case, I hope there's a special place in Hell for the people who have decided to place corporate interests over those of rape victims.

Jon Stewart does a great job taking these partisan hacks to task on their actions on last night's The Daily Show.

In addition to being the Party of unchecked corporate greed, torture, anti-minorities, obstructionists, and the angry, racist Southern white voter, the GOP can add defender of rape victims to that shameful list.

Again, how the hell can honestly look at these qualities, and still vote Republican?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Homosexuality? A lifestyle choice! Your religious views? You're born with it!

Your skin color. The color of your eyes. Your ethnic background(s). These three things, are among a long list of other traits of things that not one person can change about themselves. What you wear, what you eat, what musical tastes you have, etc. are among an even longer list of things that everyone can change, or changes dramatically, thought the course of a lifetime. In the ever-raging debate on equal rights for the gay/lesbian community, one of the arguments I cannot, for the life of me, understand, is the argument that gay men and women have chosen to be with the same sex.

Really? One chooses to be sexually attracted to the same sex overnight? It's not just a biological wiring that one person might have, but a choice, much like a person switching from Vans to Converse shoes?

This bullshit argument has raised a notch today with House Minority Leader John Boehner of Texas explaining his opposition to hate crime protections for the gay community that's being debated on Capitol Hill, and it's a bigger load of BS than the argument I just mentioned.

Last week, House Republican Leader John Boehner objected to House passage of a bill that would expand hate crime laws and make it a federal crime to assault people on the basis of their sexual orientation.....

In an email, Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said Boehner "supports existing federal protections (based on race, religion, gender, etc) based on immutable characteristics."

It should be noted that the current law does not include gender, though the expanded legislation would cover gender as well as sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.

"He does not support adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes," Smith continued.

Boehner's position, then, appears to be grounded in the notion that immutable characteristics should be protected under hate crimes laws. And while religion is an immutable characteristic, his office suggests, sexual orientation is not.

That's right. The House Minority Leader is convinced that one's religious background is an immutable characteristic, as opposed to being physically attracted to the same sex.

My dad was raised in a Baptist-Christian household, along with my mom. I was raised in the same religious household as my parents were. Because of those two factors, by Bohner's logic, I should be a Christian. Yet, I consider myself to being agnostic. How does Boehner explain that? Furthermore, how does he not think to himself and say aloud, "Well...i'm a 100% dumbass?"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize? Boooooooo!

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 24 hrs., you have already heard the news that President Obama, just nine months into his young presidency, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. With this award, he joins a very select group of former U.S. Presidents (Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, Woodrow Wilson in 1919, and Jimmy Carter in 2002) who have been awarded the Peace Prize.

I've heard the talk about the campfire (I, myself, have ashed the same question):
"What's he done this early on to deserve this award?"
"The nominations for the award end on February 2, Obama had been in office for a week and a half! What gives?"
"There are more people out there who have actually made accomplishments in steering the world towards peace, so why did they get the shaft?"

First, the Nobel Peace Prize is usually awarded, not for one's accomplishments, but for one's actions to bring about peace in the world, and to highlight the causes of the times. For example, take all the many people have won it for trying to bring about peace in the Middle East (Carter, Yasser Arafat, Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat of Egypt etc.), and we're no closer to having Israelis and Palestinians lay down their past grudges and weapons and work together to coexist in the same strip of land they are fighting and dying for.
Second, what ha Obama done to win this award? Here's what the people who give out the award, have to say:

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

In other words, he's not Bush Jr., where his idea of diplomacy could be equated to playing a game of Cowboys and Indians, and his attitude towards human rights were like that of his feeling about the Constitution he swore to uphold and defend - 'who gives a flying fuck, i'm the motherfucking President of the United States bitches, so I can do whatever the fuck I want, so suck on it, you damn foreigners!'

That's why he won the award. And it was well earned.

And one would beleive that everyone would feel a sense of pride that a sitting U.S. President has won this award, and set aside scoring political and partisan points with their respective base and congratulate the President on his achievement, right?

Well, with the Obstructionist Party...uh, I meant the Party of No...whoops, I mean the party that caters to un-Reconstructed Southern crackers...Ok, this isn't coming out right, let's rewind and start over...

It turns out with the Republican party, partisanship doesn't take a vacation (nailed it this time!).

Instead of going into some rant against the GOPricks, I'll just let one of my favorite songs from the British alternative rock band, Radiohead, express what I want to say in song.

I don't know why you bother
Nothing's ever good enough for you.
I was there, it wasn't like that.
You've come here just to start a fight
You had to piss on our parade,
You had to shred our big day
You had to ruin it for all concerned,
In a drunken punch-up at a wedding, yeah!

Hypocrite, opportunist
Don't infect me with your poison
A bully in a china shop
When I turn 'round you stay frozen to the spot
You had the pointless snide remarks
Of hammerheaded sharks
The pot will call the kettle black
It's a drunken punch-up at a wedding, yeah!

For a party that loves to hold claims on putting country first, they're like the kid who's mad that his prom date stood him up, so he pisses in the glass punch bowl to make everyone else's night miserable, because as the saying goes, "misery loves company."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Ones That Mattered:The 100 best films of the decade

This decade brought us historical triumph and unimaginable tragedy. It has brought out two wars in the Middle East, the end of the second-longest dry streak in sports history, the absolute worst in our elected officials, and the hope and dreams of what we can accomplish from others, among other things. We have seen the rise of the New Media from The Huffington Post and social networking sites, and the free-fall of the printing press.

It has also given us an amazing ride at the movies. And I bet a few handfuls of them have moved, shaped, and entertained you in ways that still stay with you. Over the next few months, I'll be engaging a big undertaking: the 100 best films from this decade. Stay tuned....

Friday, September 18, 2009

What's going on in my head?

When's the last time i've posted anything even remotely personal? Shit, even I don't remember. But I guess it can't hurt to start now, right?

I'm five weeks into my sophomore year at Southwestern Community College. After next year, I plan to transfer. Where? I don't know yet.

Wherever I go, the inevitable will occur for me:

Finding a job.

Getting a driver's license.

Living in a dorm.

Learning how to live with myself.

I don't mean to sound like some stereotypical lazy college student kicking it with mom and dad, but I have a bad streak of being the world's biggest procrastinator. Its an annoying habit i'm trying to break out of. I welcome the fact of making my own money and going wherever I want and not being dependent on public transportation, or seeing a new change in scenery other than America's Finest City....It doesn't help that i'm dead scared.

I might as well be trapped in limbo....knowing that I must leave the nest, but too fucking afraid to learn to fly away. It also doesn't help that I'm still carrying baggage from high school....the angst about not fitting in with my peers, the issues of self-confidence....that same old song-and-dance.

Is this normal for any young person to be going through?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I guess this was unavoidable...

Forget Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, or the biopic Amelie starring Hilary Swank gunning for her third Oscar, or even James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar. This fall, the only movie that will have everyone talking isn't a blockbuster holiday film, or a potential'll be The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Come the middle of October til the midnight release across the country, we'll be living in a Twilight-themed pop culture world with debates ranging from comparing the Twilight series to the Harry Potter franchise, to who's a bigger hottie: Robert Pattinson who plays Edward Cullen or Taylor Lautner who plays Jacob Black. Fans (made up of mostly of middle-school girls and high school girls) of the series will make the second installment a smash hit at the box office when it debuts November 20, while the anti-Twilighters will bash this film to no end.

There's no escaping this reality. And since we'll be engulfed in that world, I decided to pop my Twilight cherry and watch the film on You Tube.

That's right. I was a Twilight-virgin. Before watching the first movie, my only knowledge of the Twilight franchise were the following:
A.) Girls loved the books and the movie (it grossed $191 million in 2008).
B.) Guys loathed it.
C.) It was based on the best-selling vampire novels written by Stephanie Meyers.
D.) Pattinson, who's biggest role before playing Edward was Hogwarts co-champion Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire became the object of every American teenage girl's desires afterward.

At some point though the film, when young Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) learns that the mysterious and handsome Edward Cullen (Pattinson) is a vegetarian vampire (instead of feasting on humans, they hunt animal blood; think Bruce and his shark chums in Finding Nemo), and that her scent makes his mouth water for her flesh, Edward utters the words i'm sure every hopelessly romantic girl longs to hear from their Prince Charming (or Edward in this case): "Your like my own personal brand of heroin."

I have never laughed that hard because of a movie line before...and i've watched The 40 Year-Old Virgin, American Pie, and other time capsule comedies. Unknowingly to me, that would be the only time I would get a rise out of Twilight. I fully understand this franchise is nothing more than a pop-culture product of the moment and that this is not supposed to be catered to people like me. But I cannot forgive just how dreadfully boring and shamelessly cliched the film is.

In Twilight, everyone sulks. The kids sulk at school and on the beach. The divorced father sulks while on the job and at the local diner. Even the vampires sulk. Now i've done my share of teenage sulking and angst, but i've found ways to snap out of it and enjoy my imperfect life, but this level of angst and moping was really unbelievable. You debate to yourself who's more alive: the vampires or the townspeople, but I guess when you live in Forks, Washington; sulking is probably the town's pastime. Swan moves to this sleepy town after mom moves with her new minor league playing boyfriend to sunny and lively Florida, after living in Arizona for most of her life (you'd think at least she'd have some sort of a golden tan, right?)

I'm getting bored explaining this movie, so let me fast forward about the grizzly murders the town is witnessing because even that is about as exciting as watching paint dry (I know this a PG-13 movie, but is a showing a little blood and action too much to ask?!) and how Bella has fallen madly in love with Edward even though he wants nothing more than to have her like a fat kid pines for a double fudge chocolate cake, and let me get right to the point: Twilight successfully drags on and on like this for two hours without having one exciting moment that shakes or frightens you. And don't even get me started on the vampires playing a round of baseball.

Director Catherine Hardwicke (brilliant in her 2003 debut, Thirteen) faithfully captures the essence of Meyer's novel of young, forbidden love, which therein lies the problem: there's no spark between Stewart or Pattinson, no sense of desire or sexual want with Bella and Edward. It's just these two, along with the Cullen clan, moping and posing together like Abercrombie & Fitch models.

Go ahead. Let the teenage girls of America pay money to drool and frig themselves in the cinemas to Edward and Jacob. In fifteen years, the Twilight-craze will take its rightful place alongside High School Musical, Camp Rock, the Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, Pokemon, and the emo culture in the trash bin of history; a flash-in-the pan, but with sparkling vampires.

And one other thing: Vampires do not fucking sparkle in daylight!!

* star out of ****

Saturday, September 12, 2009

xxx stars are people, too

You've gotta check out this blog: Becoming Jennie.

Its about an ex-adult film star's road from sex addict to sobriety.

Not much of a point to this blog, but to display an interesting person's daily struggle to walk the straight-and-narrow.

That, and to continually be amazed about how interesting people can be.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"You Lie!" Or: The new low in this country's national discuorse - and how to recapture our naton's sanity

I've gotta give Pres. Obama credit: He's going to stick to coaxing the better angels of America's nature and trust that there are some lawmakers on the other side of the aisle. I personally don't believe that the current batch of Republican lawmakers have any interest in working with him on health care reform, but I have been wrong before, and if this is the road Obama wants to go down on, then i'll trust that he and his administration knows what they're doing.

Having said that, Let me get right to the point of this new post: By now, mostly all of you know who this idiot is on the left: Joe Wilson the representative of South Carolina's 2nd district; also known as the man who shouted out "You lie!" during the middle of the President's Address to Congress.

Two thought were going through my mind when Joe opened his big trap: 1. "This is an Address to Congress, not a fucking town hall meeting!", and 2. "This character's gonna become a martyr for the conservative movement across the nation." And they didn't disappoint.

The reason why Wilson rudely interrupted the President's speech? Obama said in his speech that illegal immigrants would not qualify for credits for the health care plan. And he was right.

The President's seemingly simple statement that "the reforms I am proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally" is not hard to check. In the Senate Finance Committee's working framework for a health plan, which Obama's speech seemed most to mimic, there is the line, "No illegal immigrants will benefit from the health care tax credits." Similarly, the major health-care-reform bill to pass out of committee in the House, H.R. 3200, contains Section 246, which is called "NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS."

So not only did Joe rudely interrupt the Commander-in-Chief, he himself, lied about calling Obama a liar!

But i'm dead certain Joe knew that going in. In the age of Obama and the changing of the nation, facts and well-reasoned debates have taken a backside to which any ignorant relic of the Jim Crow era can grab a soapbox and a bullhorn and yell for all to hear, "OBAMA IS A GOD-DAMN SOCIALIST!" Instead of letting cooler heard prevail, we have a cynical, narcissistic talk show host in Glenn Beck who rises to power by making outrageous and out-of-left-field claims about the events of the day and mis-characterizing events and news-makers to fit Rupert Murdock's - and a party's - agenda; and shameless political opportunists like Sarah Palin, exploiting her youngest child to scare Americans by saying that her down-syndrome baby, Trig, will be at the alter of a group of bureaucrats who'll decide if he lives or dies; and disagreements over policy have turned into shouting matches at town-hall meetings. To put it simply: in this age, down has become the new up.

But as I look upon this sad state of discourse in American politics, and in America itself, I come to remember which matters the most: we have been down this road before. From woman's suffrage, to civil and voting rights; from the formation of unions to the formation of Social Security, we've had spirited debates about these issues, we have fought over the issues, some had shed their own blood to have their ideals realized, and many have tried to delay to make the changes necessary to strengthen our nation and to move our country forward. But, in the end, we passed Social Security, formed the unions, gave minorities and women the right to vote, strengthened anti-discrimination laws in the workplace and in businesses, and we are a better country because we met these challenges head on, despite the opposition, the cynicism, and challenges that threatened to intimidate our citizens.

We have been down this road before. We can (finally) pass health care reform if we allow ourselves to ignore the charlatans and the naysayers, and go forth with a determination that we can, and will reform our broken system for the betterment of our country, and for the next generation not yet born.

Allow me to quote U2 frontman Bono: "We're one, but we're not the same / we've got to carry each other, carry each other."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pres. Obama to address nation's children on the first day of school? Don't tread on our children, you socialist bastard!

Tomorrow, kids all over the nation will be going back to school; grumbling, tired, wishing the summer that was 2009 didn't have to end on Labor Day. Those of us who remember the first day of school might remember the formula: say hi to all the friends who we've missed because they were traveling for the summer, get acquainted with new students, go to our new classrooms, meet our new teachers, watch the 44th President of the United States give an address to us about the importance of an education and persevering in school, learn the classroom rules (which is mostly a waste of time, because the classroom etiquette is the same in pretty much as the classrooms)...Say what now?!

Yes, President Obama will be talking the children, first thing tomorrow morning.

But some believe Obama's speech to the younglings is nothing more than a dastardly plot to force his liberal, Marxist agenda down the throats of America's youth, thus bringing us one step closer to a socialist nation! If this is allowed to happen, we'll be telling our grandchildren what real freedom in America used to be like...if we're still allowed to talk about what freedom used to be at all...

So what are these proud, non-backward thinking, and most certainly non-racist patriots going to do? I'll tell ya what these fine, angry, overweight rednecks won't do! They're not going to try and make a non-controversial act become a polarized spectacle that further embarrasses the political discourse in this country and makes the conservative base of the GOP look like they deserve to be in a mental asylum, rather than a viable political party! Wait a minute...

The public-school systems in both Collier and next-door Lee counties, a conservative pocket in southwest Florida that includes Naples, announced on Thursday, Sept. 3, that their students won't be seeing Obama's speech..."We tend to be very conservative here," says Dean. "This President is extremely liberal, and we worry that he's leading us to socialism."

School districts in at least half a dozen other states have made similar decisions not to air the President's talk. In one of those states, Minnesota, Republican governor and possible 2012 presidential aspirant Tim Pawlenty called the speech "uninvited" and voiced concerns about its "content and motive."

In Oklahoma, state senator Steve Russell rivaled Florida's Greer for hyperbole, calling Obama's talk "something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq."

Nope! No blatant use of exploiting people's misguided fears and intolerance to further divide and make it into another us-vs-them debate! After all, the Republicans are only looking out for the children.
More from the article:

Asked if the Collier school district would have made the same ruling about webcast "logistics" if Obama's Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, had proposed making a similar speech to U.S. students, a spokesman for Thompson told TIME, "exactly." But Dean calls it "a moot question" because "I don't think President Bush would have ever done it. He understood that this sort of thing starts in the home." But when reminded that Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, broadcast a similar speech to the nation's pupils, Dean says, "That was different. It was, if I remember, largely a say-no-to-drugs speech."

See? Pappy Bush was doing it to tell the children to not use drugs, while Obama is indoctrinating the kids the wicked ideas of taking personal responsibility for themselves in school! It's not like the GOP would ever preach that kind of leftist crap onto ordinary American citizens!

This whole episode would be side-splitting hilarious, if it weren't for the fact that the party that loves to stake claims on patriotism, Christianity, and putting country first, from the moment Pres. Obama stepped foot in the Oval Office eight months ago, have been anything but what they claim the GOP is all about. The Republicans are about one thing these days: bringing the president down by any - and all means - necessary, and if that means the country goes down with Barack Obama, so be it. As long it gets them back into power, the ends will always justify the means. Its one thing to be "the loyal opposition." It's another thing altogether to scare the base into doing the party's dirty work.

Shawne Merriman, what the fuck?!

Seriously, dude.

SAN DIEGO (AP)—San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman(notes) was arrested Sunday and accused of choking and restraining his girlfriend, reality TV star Tila Tequila, as she tried to leave his Southern California home.

Tequila, 27, signed a citizen’s arrest warrant, charging Merriman with battery and false imprisonment, San Diego County Sheriff’s Lt. Gary Steadman said.

Deputies responded about 3:45 a.m. to Merriman’s house in Poway, north of San Diego, after a woman called to say she was choked by the player and physically restrained when she had tried to leave, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement.

Merriman, 25, was taken into custody. Authorities declined to say whether he had posted bail or been released, pending an afternoon news conference.

Tequila was taken to a hospital. Her condition was not immediately available.

Tequila, whose real name is Tila Nguyen, is best known for “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila,” which ran for two seasons on MTV. The bisexual dating show featured men and women vying for Tequila’s affections. She has also modeled for Playboy and other men’s magazines.

Scott E. Leemon, an attorney for Tequila, said in a statement that neither she nor her representatives would comment publicly on the incident.

Merriman’s agent, Tom Condon, said he hadn’t heard about the arrest when contacted by The Associated Press.

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Great, just what the Bolts need before heading into Week 1.
I don't know what disgust me more: the fact that #56 put himself, and the team, in a bad situation before the opener, or the fact that the fans are blaming his girlfriend for this mess. Tila Tequila may be some skanky reality TV whore, but ti's never alright say stuff like 'choke that fukkkin ho!' or 'beat that bitch' or whatever. Come on, Charger Nation, we're better than that.