And Lancelot, by the way, is NOT the best of the knights, that was Gawain. Lancelot's just someone the French threw into the cycle to tweak the English.
Work let my people go at 1 this afternoon, and probably should have done so about two hours earlier. The fastest I could go on I-70 was about 30 mph, and the ramps were white knuckle all the way. Apparently I'm looking at a possible accumulation of about 20" of snow through tomorrow afternoon, and a -15' Christmas morning to ensure none of it melts off. The local channels are all having weathergasms, as you might expect.
Regarding the idea that Lincoln didn't get along with Mary Todd because he was gay, please remember that SHE WAS NUTS. You don't have to be gay not to get along with a spouse who's out of his/her mind.
(Thanks to Sheila O'Malley for the new addition to the blogroll. That's all it takes, folks. Make me laugh.)
As a member of said American public, allow me to officially lend my whole-hearted endorsement to the efforts of the military to spread disinformation about their actual plans via the fifth column--er, fourth estate. Terrorists watch CNN too, you know. Better I know too little before the fact than that they know too much.
Although most of the work remains classified, officials say that some of the ongoing efforts include having U.S. military spokesmen play a greater role in psychological operations in Iraq, as well as planting information with sources used by Arabic TV channels such as Al Jazeera to help influence the portrayal of the United States.
Other specific examples were not known, although U.S. national security officials said an emphasis had been placed on influencing how foreign media depict the United States.
These efforts have set off a fight inside the Pentagon over the proper use of information in wartime. Several top officials see a danger of blurring what are supposed to be well-defined lines between the stated mission of military public affairs — disseminating truthful, accurate information to the media and the American public — and psychological and information operations, the use of often-misleading information and propaganda to influence the outcome of a campaign or battle.
Well, of course they did. Brave, brave dissenters.
Several of those officials who oppose the use of misleading information spoke out against the practice on the condition of anonymity.
(Linked by Jonah Goldberg in the Corner.)
And for those who think we went to war in Iraq because we wanted to take over their oil fields, or because the president is seeking petty revenge for an assassination attempt on his father (perhaps if he'd attempted to assassinate Bill Clinton the high dudgeon of the left might have been stirred), or because the current crop of US warmongers just really enjoy blowing the crap out of other cultures, read the following very carefully:
Mr. Annan was at the helm of the U.N. for all but a few days of the Oil-for-Food program, and he must, therefore, be held accountable for the U.N.'s utter failure to detect or stop Saddam's abuses. The consequences of the U.N.'s ineptitude cannot be overstated: Saddam was empowered to withstand the sanctions regime, remain in power, and even rebuild his military. Needless to say, he made the Iraqi people suffer even more by importing substandard food and medicine under the Oil-for-Food program and pawning it off as first-rate humanitarian aid.I'm not saying the US has acted out of pure-minded altruism in Iraq. I am saying it acted out of reasonable self-interest, and that ought to be enough justification for our present labors.
Since it was never likely that the U.N. Security Council, some of whose permanent members were awash in Saddam's favors, would ever call for Saddam's removal, the U.S. and its coalition partners were forced to put troops in harm's way to oust him by force. Today, money swindled from Oil-for-Food may be funding the insurgency against coalition troops in Iraq and other terrorist activities against U.S. interests. Simply put, the troops would probably not have been placed in such danger if the U.N. had done its job in administering sanctions and Oil-for-Food.
--has this been the best November ever, or what? Bush, elected. Arafat, dead. Dead in France, yet. Rather, "retired" with extreme prejudice. And I'm going to add in the Powell resignation, Condi Rice's reassignment to State, and Porter Goss starting the ass-kicking housecleaning in the CIA as big dollops of sweet whipped cream on top.
--the flap over the marine capping the wounded terrorist: the Jacksonian in me can't believe we're even discussing this as a possible Bad Thing. I don't see the point of fighting with our hands tied. In the interest of forestalling potential idiocy: no, the Geneva convention doesn't apply.
--the murder of Theo Van Gogh: Bridget Johnson makes a good point in the WSJ, namely that the Hollywood left, which claims to feel the chill wind of oppression every time a red-stater doesn't buy a Dixie Chicks album, has been strangely silent on the actual brutal butchery of a filmmaker by an Islamic fanatic for expressing his views on the treatment of women under Islam. Being shot, butchered like an animal, and used as a mumblypeg board--that's what fanatical Islam has in store for the decadent forces of Hollywood, and that means you, Sean Penn, no matter how nuancy you may think you are.
--Oliver Stone is about to take it in the shorts, and I can't freakin' wait to see "Alexander". Casting Colin Farrell was bad enough; dying him blond and giving him that 80s Miles-and-Miles-O-Keefe 'do bespeaks a miscalculation on an epic scale. Angela and I will be at the Friday matinee somewhere in Louisville, cackling with evil glee and hurling Dots at the screen. (Just for Bern: "Let us pass; my people are jugglers." Yeah, that's exactly what I'm expecting.)
Second best news: the end of Daschole's career as Obstructionist in Chief.
*I swear I did not steal the paraphrase of this particular phrase from Charles Austin.
It is vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, "Peace, peace!" But there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!If you can read that and still vote for Kerry with a clear conscience, may God have mercy on this country.
CRONKITE: What we just heard. So now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa explosive dump. Right now, that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign.If I may quote PJ O'Rourke, What the fuck? What the fuckin' fuck? Can Walter Cronkite possibly be suggesting that Carl Rove, ergo the White House, is in a position to manipulate Bin Laden at will? That they are, in fact, working together?
Ace is right. This is the kind of shit that leads to political violence. Like lining up all the current and former CBS anchors we can get our hands on and bitchslapping them until they cry like Nancy Kerrigan.
We are presented with two radically different candidates with profound disagreements about how to conduct a historic worldwide war. We should remember that all our victorious past presidents were, at the moments of their crises, deeply unpopular precisely because they chose the difficult, long-term sacrifice for victory over the expedient and convenient pleas for accommodation (if not outright capitulation). We are faced with just such an option today: a choice between a president whose call for patience and sacrifice promises victory, and a pessimist stirring the people with the assurances that we should not have fought, and now cannot win, the present war in Iraq.And there's really nothing more to say. Personally I think the country may have already crossed the line where it can no longer recognize what sacrifice is, much less accede to its necessity.
Now, admittedly, the use of past tense would seem to indicate the plan has been scuttled (though Ace seems to think the plans proceed apace; one would hope even CBS wouldn't push a story that's already been debunked by another network.) But according to the LA Times, the tip was handed to them last Wednesday. And they were planning to sit on it until the 31st. As revealing as that is about their political agenda, and their shamelessness in pursuing same, it also makes them look clownishly incompetent for not knowing the piece was being shopped elsewhere. I mean, come the hell on.
HASSELHOFF TURNS TO RAP Former BAYWATCH hunk-turned-London theatre star DAVID HASSELHOFF is turning his attentions to rap music in a bid to become a chart sensation. The actor, who is a pop superstar in Germany and Switzerland, has teamed up with rapper ICE-T in a bid to become an international music star. Ice-T says, "We are going to show a new side of him. The Hoff will surprise people with his rap skills.""The Hoff". "Rap skills." Consider that shark jumped.
* Link not guaranteed against linkrot. Item found under "Music News" by Angela, who graciously shared.
In the spirit of the Declaration of Independence's pledge to show "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind", we have come up with a unique way for non-Americans to express your views on the policies and candidates in this election to some of the people best placed to decide its outcome. It's not quite a vote, but it's a chance to influence how a very important vote will be cast. Or, at the very least, make a new penpal.Gentlemen of the Guardian, as a registered Clark County, OH, resident, let me advise you to re-think this plan. What's going to happen to some unfortunate if my name comes out of the hopper is that I'm going to post the return address on my blog and invite anyone who stops by to respond with the reasons why, in the immortal words of GW Bush, we don't give a shit what the Europeans think.
It works like this. By typing your email address into the box on this page, you will receive the name and address of a voter in Clark County, Ohio. You may not have heard of it, but it's one of the most marginal areas in one of the most marginal states: at the last election, just 324 votes separated Democrats from Republicans. It's a place where a change of mind among just a few voters could make a real difference.
Writing to a Clark County voter is a chance to explain how US policies effect you personally, and the rest of the world more generally, and who you hope they will send to the White House. It may even persuade someone to use their vote at all.
[...]Probably no American president in all history has been so universally hated abroad as George W Bush:And?
for his bullying unilateralism,30+ country coalition.
his dismissal of international treaties,Just the ones trying to wreck the US economic engine or subject US citizens to the whims of a faceless world bureaucracy.
his reckless indifference to the aspirations of other nations and cultures,As one of the youngest countries in the world (albeit the oldest democracy), it would be unseemly for the US to take the world to raise. Let them see to their own aspirations.
his contempt for institutions of world government,Oil for food. Srebrenica. Darfur. Yeah, I can see how you'd have a whole lot of anything other than contempt for "institutions of world government".
and above all for misusing the cause of anti-terrorism in order to unleash an illegal warCheck with your lawyer. S. Hussein was in violation of the cease-fire terms from the first Gulf War for twelve years, and in violation of numerous resolutions from your precious world body, the UN. I'm pretty sure that makes it legal.
- and now anarchy -War is hell. The aftermath is messy. I hope you don't call yourself a realist.
upon a country that like too many others around the world was suffering under a hideous dictatorship, but had no hand in 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction,They should have mentioned that. Might have bought them some time.
and no record of terrorism except as an ally of the US in a dirty war against Iran.Aside from the established record of aiding terrorists, which Bush specifically said was an outrage up with which we would no longer put. Abu Nidal ring any bells?
Is your president a great war leader because he allowed himself to be manipulated by a handful of deluded ideologues?No, he's a great war leader because he didn't allow himself to be misdirected by a handful of deluded transnational utopian statist ideologues.
Is Tony Blair a great war leader because he committed Britain's troops, foreign policy and domestic security to the same hare-brained adventure?No, he's a great war leader because he stood on principle even though it nearly cost him his base. As much as I despise his domestic policies, the man has grit.
You are voting in November. We will vote next year.Yes, we're both democracies. How nice for us. And now Afghanistand is too! And soon Iraq. Isn't that nice?
Yet the outcome in both countries will in large part depend on the same question: how long can the lies last now that the truth has finally been told?Ask John Kerry. His campaign seems to be unravelling like the sleeve of a cheap suit.
The Iraq war was planned long before 9/11. Osama provided the excuse.Uh huh. And Debbie Gibson is pregnant with your two-headed love child.
Iraq paid the price. American kids paid the price. British kids paid the price. Our politicians lied to us.There's the difference between us: I don't think of the military as a group of big-eyed children in need of milk and cookies.
Wrong on both counts, actually.
While Bush was waging his father's war at your expense, he was also ruining your country. He made your rich richer and your poor and unemployed more numerous.
He robbed your war veterans of their due and reduced your children's access to education. And he deprived more Americans than ever before of healthcare.Meh. Vague and alarmist. To what, specifically, can you possibly be referring?
Now he's busy cooking the books, burying deficits and calling in contingency funds to fight a war that his advisers promised him he could light and put out like a candle.I'm sorry, that's a ridiculous characterization, not only of the war and the leadup to war, but of the way the American government functions. No wonder your novels are impenetrable to me.
Meanwhile, your Patriot Act has swept aside constitutional and civil liberties which took brave Americans 200 years to secure, and were once the envy of a world that now looks on in horror, not just at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, but at what you are doing to yourselves.Look, idiot, I live here. Allow me to assure you McCain-Feingold and the Hatch act have done a fuck of a lot more to restrict my constitutional liberties than the PATRIOT act ever will. This kneejerk reaction to the word "patriot" has got to stop if you expect anyone over here who doesn't live in Berkeley to take your concerns seriously.
But please don't feel isolated from the Europe you twice saved.Bit late to kiss up now.
Give us back the America we loved, and your friends will be waiting for you.Ah, if only you loved us when we weren't on our knees.
And here in Britain, for as long as we have Tony Blair singing the same lies as George Bush, your nightmares will be ours.
"The British they cried and cursed Yorktown,
While the band played "The World's Turned Upside Down". -Jimmy Driftwood, "Soldier's Joy"
As for Kerry: if you mean France, say France.
Sky Captain -- Loved it. Literally slack-jawed in amazement at times. Kept waiting for the evil queen Tika to show up.
Exorcist: the Beginning -- Beginning to wonder how many errors in judgment Stellan Skarsgaard can afford. Opinion of Renny Harlin confirmed.
Hero -- Crouching Pinhead, Hidden Moron. Or maybe I just hate watching the same events unfold four times in different colors.
*I gathered most of my own info regarding memogate via Ace of Spades and Allah, who covered everything exhaustively. It would be pointless for me to reproduce their work, so go thou and do likewise.
Alongside the glass-encased bust is a small Iraqi flag and description of how soldiers captured the statue. The display also includes photographs of the intact statue and tank fire striking it.Sweet.
The bust was first shown for Independence Day at the George S. Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor at Fort Knox, and will return there after the fair.Note to self: add Patton Museum to the tour list, along with the Frazier Arms Museum downtown in Louisville.
Now for the dumb shit:
Francene Cucinello, a Louisville talk-radio host, said a state fair is not the appropriate place for a war relic "that represents so many American and Iraqi deaths in the quest for freedom."Nonsense. Who the hell even knew about the existence of the Patton museum? Bring the story to the people. Let them marvel. Remind them what we're doing over there and that we won the damn war. Reverence is vastly overrated.
"A museum has the reverence that's necessary. It's too important to have on display at a fair," said Cucinello, who said her callers are about evenly split on the issue.
"How would we feel if another country was gloating over its wartime successes? America's too good for that," she said.I'd say that depends on the gloater and the war. If it's Britain gloating over Bonaparte or any of the Allied powers gloating over Germany and Japan, I'm very much on board with that. As for whether America is "too good" to gloat over military successes, perhaps we should stop celebrating Independence Day out of consideration for the feelings of the British.
[From Angela, who saw the item in question today. She recommends the deep-fried Oreos if you're going to the fair.]
The setup: "Jackass Contest", Virginia Beach.
The prize: a trip to Mexico.
The winning strategy:
The winner, who has not been identified, told police that the staples had been applied by the Chicho’s crowd, which had passed around a stapler and shot him at random as he walked through the bar.Well, of course he was. If there's one thing reality tv teaches us, it's that a complete loss of human dignity is a tiny price to pay for a trip you could cover out of pocket if you didn't have to pay your medical bills.
At one point, he told police, his testicles had been stapled to his stomach.
“We didn’t confirm that,” Santos said. “I didn’t want to pursue that part of it.”
The man had several slice marks on his side, which were the result of paper cuts or caning, Santos said.
The man also told police he’d snorted hot sauce and salt, broken a beer bottle over his head and swallowed and vomited up a live goldfish.
Throughout the interview, the man repeatedly apologized for reeking of urine, Santos said.
He said one part of the contest had involved his lying on the men’s bathroom floor and making “snow angels.”
The man also had lost the use of his left arm, which Santos said hung at his chest in a sling fashioned from a pair of women’s underwear.
“He did a back flip off the bar and didn’t make it,” Santos said.
Despite his injuries, the man told police that he was proud that he’d won the trip to Mexico.
[Thanks to Rick, who loves stupidity nearly as much as Bern does. And to MTV, for providing the youth of our fair country with such high quality programming.]
Update: Rick informs me this came from Dave Barry's blog.
Sure, I scorn and fleer; most of the political ideals these people hold dear were fossilized sometime in the Late Cretaceous period (roughly around 1968), haven't been re-examined since, and won't be any time soon. But here's the reason I don't mind them organizing their little pep rallies: the concerts are clearly labelled as political events and are thus easily avoided. Were I to pay upwards of $30 (way upwards, in some cases) to hear any of those artists perform on a regular tour, I'd be livid if they spent stage time blathering about Greenpeace (I'm looking at YOU, Michael Stipe, you pissant) and refusing to play their college radio hits. But here, you know exactly what you're getting.
So let 'em play. I'm curious to see what kind of turnout they get.
Yeah, I know. Big of me to grant permission.
Your CD collection is almost as big as your ego, and you can most likely play an instrument or three. You're a real hit at parties, but you're SO above karaoke.What people love: You're instant entertainment. Unless you play the obo. What people hate: Your tendency to sing louder than the radio and compare everything to a freaking song.
What Kind of Elitist Are You? brought to you by Quizilla
I'd argue if I could.
[Via Farm Accident Digest.]
Patti Davis airing her Daddy issues in public
Ronnie's latest efforts on behalf of stem cell research
[Courtesy of Bernadine and Angela, respectively.]
Probably a whole audience of hired Bush celebrity harassers. "Tossed cocktails into the air." Damn, I miss all the good stuff.
Before singing Desperado for an encore Saturday night, the 58-year-old rocker called Moore a "great American patriot" and "someone who is spreading the truth." She also encouraged everybody to see the documentary about President Bush.
Ronstadt's comments drew loud boos and some of the 4,500 people in attendance stormed out of the theater. People also tore down concert posters and tossed cocktails into the air.
"It was a very ugly scene," Aladdin President Bill Timmins told The Associated Press. "She praised him and all of a sudden all bedlam broke loose."
[Thanks to Angela for the link.]
Elton John has said stars are scared to speak out against war in Iraq because of "bullying tactics" used by the US government to hinder free speech.Name a single instance of the US government actually making anyone shut the fuck up. I can't get away from people like Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, and John himself flapping their gums about how they're not allowed to flap their gums. Who the hell's stopping them? Well, no one, actually. But they're "chilled" by the lack of warmth with which their brave dissent in service of brutal autocracy in the middle east has been met in middle America.
"There's an atmosphere of fear in America right now that is deadly. Everyone is too career-conscious," he told New York magazine, Interview.Give me a name. Cite me a single example of HUAC taking some liberal wank like Camryn Mannheim out in handcuffs in the middle of the night. Then comes the dead giveaway "in MY day" self-centered navel-gazing baby boomer drivel:
"There was a moment about a year ago when you couldn't say a word about anything in this country for fear of your career being shot down by people saying you are un-American," he told the magazine.
The singer said things were different in the 1960s.Yes, they were. The judgment of time has not been kind to their idiotic opinions.
"People like Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, The Beatles and Pete Seeger were constantly writing and talking about what was going on.
"That's not happening now. As of this spring, there have been virtually no anti-war concerts - or anti-war songs that catch on, for that matter," he said.Because you're boring the fuck out of the public, which has already determined that there is a serious problem that requires the attention of serious-minded people, and they don't want to hand you $70 a ticket to hear you bleat about things you have readily demonstrated you're not capable of grasping. The solution, from your perspective? Tell your pinko anti-American friends to write catchier songs.
He voiced concern that it appeared acceptable to speak out if you were pro-Bush, using the example of country singer Toby Keith, but not if you were critical of the President, as in the case of country rock band, the Dixie Chicks.Mighty fuckin' gracious of ya, Elt. Toby Keith gets a free ride on that rather terrible "Red White and Blue" song because people support the sentiment. They share the sentiment. There is a strong feeling in this country that someone needs a military boot up their ass. In the face of that sentiment, the fact that the left can't comprehend that the majority of this country doesn't want to hold hands and sing Kumbaya means they're not going to crack the top 40 with "Ode to Osama". Sorry, dude.
"On the one hand, you have someone like Toby Keith, who has come out and been very supportive of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq - which is OK because America is a democracy and Toby Keith is entitled to say what he thinks and feels.
This kind of hysteria from the guy who sang "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", yet.
"But, on the other hand, the Dixie Chicks got shot down in flames last year for criticising the president. They were treated like they were being un-American, when in fact they have every right to say whatever they want about him because he's freely elected, and therefore accountable."First, their behavior was unAmerican. Or, more properly, anti-American. Second, note by whom they were treated that way. Certainly not the big, scary Bush administration, unless you believe George Bush mandates record sales (and if he does, we're going to have to have a chat about certain acts.) It is a sure sign of ego run amok that entertainers are so sure the entire world revolves around their opinions they think there's an actual organized effort at the top being galvanized to stop people from buying their cds. I have news for you: you're just not that important. Nobody cares what you think. Now shut up and play "Island Girl", you deep thinker, you.
It's hilarious to me that the Democratic party thinks getting one of the sillier Reagans to speak at their convention is supposed to be a political coup of some sort. Why on earth would this be a blow to the Republicans? Little Ronnie's never been *on* the reservation, if it comes to that; it's not like he's wandered off and we're trying to lure him back. Last I'd heard of him before the funeral he was wearing leg warmers and whining about he just wanted to--DANCE!--and I haven't taken him seriously in the twenty years or so since then. It surprises me that anyone would.
Am I supposed to give a flying fuck? Really, is this supposed to be a slam of earthshattering proportions; should I be feeling the foundations of the GOP shudder from this critical blow? Because, frankly, the man's a political idiot, billionaire or no.
"Look at the war in Iraq and the mess that we're in. I would never have handled it that way.Details. I want details on precisely how Donald fucking Trump would have handled Iraq.
Does anybody really believe that Iraq is going to be a wonderful democracy where people are going to run down to the voting box and gently put in their ballot and the winner is happily going to step up to lead the country?," Trump said.By that ridiculous standard, America is not a particularly wonderful democracy. As is bemoaned every four years or so, the percentage of eligible voters who just don't fucking bother is staggering. And yet somehow we manage to muddle through.
"C'mon. Two minutes after we leave, there's going to be a revolution, and the meanest, toughest, smartest, most vicious guy will take over. And he'll have weapons of mass destruction, which Saddam didn't have," Trump said in excerpts of the interview released in advance to Reuters.Right. That's exactly what happened in Germany and Japan. If the short-sighted among us would sit down, shut their cakeholes, and let the adults do their jobs, this wouldn't even be an issue.
Trump would probably have fired Churchill. Fuck him.
Czech Republic president Vaclav Klaus dubbed Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" a communist-style propaganda work after seeing it at a festival in Karlovy Vary. "We were used to such messages in the Communist days," Klaus said. "Everybody has open eyes and can understand that this is propaganda. It was a weak film that tells us nothing new."
[Thanks to Angela for the giggle.]
Addendum: Dean Esmay gleefully links to Lileks with the further observation that anyone who finds Moore even remotely defensible is a scumbag by association. Personally I wouldn't go that far; I prefer to cut the ignorant a certain amount of slack.
1. Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly?
2. The Great Gatsby or The Sun Also Rises?
3. Count Basie or Duke Ellington?
4. Cats or dogs?
5. Matisse or Picasso?
6. Yeats or Eliot?
7. Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin?
8. Flannery O’Connor or John Updike?
9. To Have and Have Not or Casablanca?
10. Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning?
11. The Who or the Stones?
12. Philip Larkin or Sylvia Plath?
13. Trollope or Dickens?
14. Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald?
15. Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy?
16. The Moviegoer or The End of the Affair?
17. George Balanchine or Martha Graham?
18. Hot dogs or hamburgers?
19. Letterman or Leno?
20. Wilco or Cat Power?
21. Verdi or Wagner?
22. Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe?
23. Bill Monroe or Johnny Cash?
24. Kingsley or Martin Amis?
25. Robert Mitchum or Marlon Brando?
26. Mark Morris or Twyla Tharp?
27. Vermeer or Rembrandt?
28. Tchaikovsky or Chopin?
29. Red wine or white?
30. Noël Coward or Oscar Wilde?
31. Grosse Pointe Blank or High Fidelity?
32. Shostakovich or Prokofiev?
33. Mikhail Baryshnikov or Rudolf Nureyev?
34. Constable or Turner?
35. The Searchers or Rio Bravo?
36. Comedy or tragedy?
37. Fall or spring?
38. Manet or Monet?
39. The Sopranos or The Simpsons?
40. Rodgers and Hart or Gershwin and Gershwin?
41. Joseph Conrad or Henry James?
42. Sunset or sunrise?
43. Johnny Mercer or Cole Porter?
44. Mac or PC?
45. New York or Los Angeles?
46. Partisan Review or Horizon?
47. Stax or Motown?
48. Van Gogh or Gauguin?
49. Steely Dan or Elvis Costello?
50. Reading a blog or reading a magazine?
51. John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier?
52. Only the Lonely or Songs for Swingin’ Lovers?
53. Chinatown or Bonnie and Clyde?
54. Ghost World or Election?
55. Minimalism or conceptual art?
56. Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny?
57. Modernism or postmodernism?
58. Batman or Spider-Man?
59. Emmylou Harris or Lucinda Williams?
60. Johnson or Boswell?
61. Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf?
62. The Honeymooners or The Dick Van Dyke Show?
63. An Eames chair or a Noguchi table?
64. Out of the Past or Double Indemnity?
65. The Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni?
66. Blue or green?
67. A Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It?
68. Ballet or opera?
69. Film or live theater?
70. Acoustic or electric?
71. North by Northwest or Vertigo?
72. Sargent or Whistler?
73. V.S. Naipaul or Milan Kundera?
74. The Music Man or Oklahoma?
75. Sushi, yes or no?
76. The New Yorker under Ross or Shawn?
77. Tennessee Williams or Edward Albee?
78. The Portrait of a Lady or The Wings of the Dove?
79. Paul Taylor or Merce Cunningham?
80. Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe?
81. Diana Krall or Norah Jones?
82. Watercolor or pastel?
83. Bus or subway?
84. Stravinsky or Schoenberg?
85. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
86. Willa Cather or Theodore Dreiser?
87. Schubert or Mozart?
88. The Fifties or the Twenties?
89. Huckleberry Finn or Moby-Dick?
90. Thomas Mann or James Joyce?
91. Lester Young or Coleman Hawkins?
92. Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman?
93. Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill?
94. Liz Phair or Aimee Mann?
95. Italian or French cooking?
96. Bach on piano or harpsichord?
97. Anchovies, yes or no?
98. Short novels or long ones?
99. Swing or bebop?
100. "The Last Judgment" or "The Last Supper"?
Total of 91 responses, with 57 in concurrence with Teachout, giving me a TCCI of 62.6.
I really can't imagine choosing the Who over the Stones. The Mercer vs. Porter choice was much harder, as was Steely Dan vs. Elvis Costello. Batman vs. Spiderman is only valid if we're talking about campy 60s Batman; otherwise count that as a non-response. Oh, and I loathe--LOATHE--"Chinatown" with a passion scarcely to be borne within woman's breast.
1/4 tsp. almond extract, orDrain the liquid from a 16 oz. jar of maraschino cherries (without stems) and add the liquid to the cream mixture. Chop the cherries roughly (about 3 seconds in the food processor) and add to the cream. Chill until quite cold, at least 2 hours or overnight, and freeze according to the directions peculiar to your ice cream maker.
1/2 tsp. wild cherry extract, or
2 drops angostura bitters
I think most of the tributes are going to be left-handed, to put it politely. To hell with that. Here's to the talented fat man.
1) What is your favorite type of bookstore?
A. A large chain that is well lit, stuffed full of books, and has a café.
B. A dark, rather dusty, used bookstore full of mysterious and vaguely organized books.
C. A local independent bookstore that has books by local authors and coffee.
B. If I'm looking for a specific book I usually don't bother going to a bookstore, I order it online. If I'm browsing, I'd rather browse in a place that might have out of print stuff.
2) What would excite you more?
A. A brand new book by your favorite author.
B. Finding a classic you've been wanting to read.
C. Receiving a free book from a friend in the mail.
B. Most of my favorite authors are dead.
3) What's your favorite format?
B. Short story
I waver between A and B; my reading stamina is not what it used to be, and a good short story is like a good stiff drink. Then again, sometimes I do like to immerse myself in another world, the deeper the better. Poetry brings up a distant third.
4) Favorite format, part II.
A. Contemporary fiction.
B. Classic novels.
C. Genre (mystery, espionage, etc.)
B, with C close behind.
5) Favorite format, part III (none of the above) Fiction or non?
A. Almost entirely fiction.
B. Almost entirely non-fiction.
C. A mix of both.
6) Does the design and condition of the book matter?
A. Yes, I love a well designed book and keep mine in mint condition.
B. No, the words are what matter.
C. Yes and no, I appreciate good design and treat my books with respect but I am not obsessive about it.
7) On average how many books do you read a month?
A. I am lucky to read one.
B. I am dedicated. I read 4 or 5.
C. I am a fiend. I read 10 or more!
Some months I don't read at all; others I read four or five books simultaneously, keeping them in different rooms and picking them up as the mood strikes. So, um, A to B.
8) Do you prefer to own or borrow?
A. There is a particular joy in owning a book. I have a large library.
B. Why spend money when you can read it for free? I use the public library.
C. Different tools for different job. I do both.
9) Where do you get (the majority) your book news?
I don't really get "book news", per se. D, I guess, in a way.
10) Are books a professional obsession?
A. Yes, I work in the field (writer, reviewer, publisher, teacher, etc.).
B. No, I do it for fun.
C. Kinda, I write the occasional review but have a regular job outside of books.
1. Take five books off your bookshelf.
2. Book No. 1 -- first sentence.
3. Book No. 2 -- last sentence on page fifty.
4. Book No. 3 -- second sentence on page one hundred.
5. Book No. 4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty.
6. Book No. 5 -- final sentence of the book.
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph.
A prince was born to the royal line of England on January 6, 1367, in the abbey of St. Andre at Bordeaux and given the name of Richard. He was allowed only one cup of coffee. He knows more about the Regiment than the Adjutant, and could not make a mistake if he tried. Yet the latter's position was still not as commanding as he wanted it to be. Our story closes here, as the terms on which Richard relinquished his conquests are to be found in every history of the period.
Book titles furnished on request.
Meanwhile, I'm working on what might be a series of posts about the two one-act opera premieres I attended Saturday night in Cincinnati, which will be of particular interest to Bernadine. Four words for you, B: Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks.
Some men are born great, some achieve greatness and some slit the throats of any man that stands between them and the mantle of power. You never met a man you couldn't eviscerate. Not that mindless violence is the only avenue open to you - but why take an avenue when you have complete freeway access? You are the definitive Man of Action. You are James Bond in a blousy shirt and drawstring-fly pants. Your swash was buckled long ago and you have never been so sure of anything in your life as in your ability to bend everyone to your will. You will call anyone out and cut off their head if they show any sign of taking you on or backing down. You cannot be saddled with tedious underlings, but if one of your lieutenants shows an overly developed sense of ambition he may find more suitable accommodations in Davy Jones' locker. That is, of course, IF you notice him. You tend to be self absorbed - a weakness that may keep you from seeing enemies where they are and imagining them where they are not.
What's Yer Inner Pirate?
brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site. Arrrrr!
The Top 100 Grossing Movies (with snide on the side)
1. Titanic - My reactions to this one were a mixed bag; first, most strongly, I wanted to punch that old lady for throwing a diamond of great historical significance into the damn ocean for her own selfish purposes, without a thought for her granddaughter. Thanks for pissing away my college education, Grandma. Second, I found the romance between the principles wildly miscast; DiCaprio seemed in constant danger of being crushed like a lettuce leaf by the robust Ms. Winslet. Third, Cameron lifted the best part of the movie nearly shot for shot from the far superior "A Night To Remember". So when it ended, with me dry-eyed and annoyed, I turned around (front row seats, the theater was packed) and was treated to the sight of an entire theater of weeping females of varying ages. And I laughed.
2. Star Wars
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial - I hated this movie. Every adult in it is evil or clueless, and I resent the hell out of having my buttons pushed in a clumsy manner. This movie lies at the root of my distrust of Spielberg.
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace - Terrible. The kid playing "Annie" kept reminding me of the youngest kid on "Eight is Enough" (that mushroom cap hair cut--agggh), and that's just bad casting when he's supposed to turn into the baddest mofo in the universe two movies hence. Where's Damien when you need him?
5. Spider-Man - Ok, but...come on, Toby McGuire? Or Tobey. However he spells it, he has the speaking voice of a dork.
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
7. Passion of the Christ
8. Jurassic Park
9. Shrek 2
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
11. Finding Nemo*
12. Forrest Gump*
13. Lion King, The - I hate this movie. Just as I hate every Disney attempt at social engineering. And the songs suck ass.
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones - an improvement over Episode I, but not enough. Unfocused plot, and replacing the "Eight is Enough" kid with Hayden Christiansen (or is it Christian Haydensen?) gets us no closer to the badass requirements of the future Darth Vader.
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi - This is where the franchise started to smell, with the planet of the teddy bears. Goddamn, if I wanted to see the Care Bear movie, I would have gone to see it in college.
18. Independence Day
19. Pirates of the Caribbean
20. Sixth Sense, The (1999) - One of my favorite theater moments: maybe halfway through the film, older brother Sean realizes what the plot twist is, and bursts out with, "Well, godDAMN," in an aggrieved tone of voice. Heads whipped around toward him, but he didn't elaborate, and I cracked up. I mean, he wouldn't want to ruin it for everyone.
21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
22. Home Alone* - Words cannot describe how much I loathe this movie. Sadistic slapstick is the lowest form of theater. And no, I don't like f'n Punch'n'Judy, either.
23. Matrix Reloaded, The
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
27. Jaws* - Just gets better every time I see it.
28. Monsters, Inc.
29. Batman - Another franchise I hate; at least I stopped going to these about the time they cast the talentless Chris O'Donnell as Robin (and on a semi-related rant, who the hell thought he'd make a good update for Buster Keaton in "The Bachelor" (a remake of Keaton's hilarious and exhilarating "Seven Chances")? Wouldn't you think remaking a great silent comedy would require someone who was both physical and, I don't know, funny?) Anyway. The whole franchise is too dark. You'd think they were rationing lightbulbs in Gotham City.
30. Men in Black
31. Toy Story 2
32. Bruce Almighty
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
36. Ghost Busters
37. Beverly Hills Cop
38. Cast Away
39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The
41. Rush Hour 2*
42. Mrs. Doubtfire
43. Ghost (1990) - Vomit.
45. Saving Private Ryan* - Thanks to Bern and Scott for making me watch it.
46. Mission: Impossible II
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember*
49. Back to the Future
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
52. Exorcist, The* - Every time I watch this I'm astonished by Linda Blair's performance. And I just love Max von Sydow.
53. Mummy Returns, The - What an utter betrayal by the director. I've never seen a bigger dropoff between two movies in the same series.
55. Gone with the Wind
56. Pearl Harbor
57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
58. Toy Story (1995)
59. Men in Black II*
60. Gladiator - Ridley Scott should stick to sci-fi. He sucks at history, special effects notwithstanding.
61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs*
62. Dances with Wolves - proud to have never subjected myself to this.
63. Batman Forever
64. Fugitive, The
65. Ocean's Eleven - This one sort of puzzled me, though I enjoyed it in a mindless way. What the hell was up with the makeup, wardrobe, and lighting people and their vendetta against Julia Roberts in this movie? She looked like 4 miles of bad road, and everybody else looked great.
66. What Women Want*
67. Perfect Storm, The
68. Liar Liar*
70. Jurassic Park III
71. Mission: Impossible - If you're going to remake an old tv series, here's something: don't make the hero into the villain. Good God, what a piece of crap this was.
72. Planet of the Apes - I have seen the original, but I think this is the remake. Not really clear.
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
74. Pretty Woman*
76. Top Gun
77. There's Something About Mary* - I resisted, but Loraine made me watch it. And I laughed, against my will. I was wrong about this one.
78. Ice Age
79. Crocodile Dundee
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
82. Air Force One
83. Rain Man - I didn't despise it, but I wouldn't sit through it again.
84. Apollo 13
85. Matrix, The
86. Beauty and the Beast
87. Tarzan (1999)
88. Beautiful Mind, A
90. Three Men and a Baby* - Schlock. And schlock with shitty values.
91. Meet the Parents
92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - This is the film I point to when people ask me why I hate Kevin Costner. Any movie with Alan Rickman and Morgan Freeman ought to be watchable. It's not, and it's mostly Costner's fault.
93. Hannibal - Silly.
94. Catch Me If You Can
95. Big Daddy
96. Sound of Music, The*
97. Batman Returns
98. Bug's Life, A*
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
100. Waterboy, The*
Top 100 Grossing Movies adjusted for inflation.
1 Gone With the Wind
2 Star Wars
3 The Sound of Music*
4 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
5 The Ten Commandments*
8 Doctor Zhivago*
9 The Exorcist*
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs*
11 101 Dalmatians
12 The Empire Strikes Back
14 Return of the Jedi
15 The Sting*
16 Raiders of the Lost Ark
17 Jurassic Park
18 The Graduate*
19 The Phantom Menace
21 The Godfather
22 Forrest Gump*
23 Mary Poppins
24 The Lion King
27 The Jungle Book
28 Sleeping Beauty
30 Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid - I don't really know how I've managed to avoid this one, but I have. Probably because my parents never really cared for it, and any western my father doesn't like can't be much of a western.
32 Independence Day
33 Love Story*
34 Beverly Hills Cop
36 Home Alone*
41 American Graffiti*
42 The Robe*
43 Around the World in 80 Days*
44 Blazing Saddles*
46 The Bells of St. Mary's*
47 The Return of the King
48 The Towering Inferno*
49 National Lampoon's Animal House*
50 The Passion of the Christ
51 The Greatest Show on Earth*
52 My Fair Lady*
53 Let's Make Love
54 Back to the Future
55 The Two Towers
57 Smokey and the Bandit
58 The Sixth Sense
59 Finding Nemo
61 Harry Potter / Sorcerer's Stone
62 West Side Story*
63 Lady and the Tramp
64 Close Encounters of the Third Kind
66 Rocky - Never seen any of these. Never plan to.
67 The Best Years of Our Lives*
68 The Fellowship of the Ring
69 The Poseidon Adventure*
70 Men in Black
71 The Bridge on the River Kwai*
72 Its' a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
73 Swiss Family Robinson*
74 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - I tried to watch it once. Just couldn't get into it.
75 M*A*S*H* - Overrated. Wildly.
76 Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom
77 Attack of the Clones
78 Mrs. Doubtfire
81 Duel in the Sun*
82 Pirates of the Caribbean
83 House of Wax*
84 Rear Window*
85 The Lost World: Jurassic Park
86 Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade
87 Terminator 2: Judgment Day
88 How the Grinch Stole Christmas
89 Sergeant York*
90 Toy Story 2
91 Top Gun
93 Crocodile Dundee
94 The Matrix Reloaded
95 Saving Private Ryan*
96 The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
97 Young Frankenstein*
98 Peter Pan - again, it's not clear which version of Peter Pan this is, but I've seen them all.
100 Monsters, Inc.
Saw Riddick with Angela, see below. Saw Troy for the third time with Sean, Greg, and Kate; Sean thought the dialog was corny (which is precisely why Greg and I like it) but liked the fight scenes. His reaction to Paris: "Let's run away! I'm good at that."
Had three migraines, which was a whole new level of annoying for me. Not the painful kind, for which I am suitably grateful, but it was disorienting to round the corner of the back freezer section at Sam's Club and suddenly start seeing a jagged semi-circle of oscillating light in the periphery of my vision. Lasted about 10 minutes, followed by a mild headache. I was going to casually mention it to the doctor the next time I saw him. After driving back to Ohio Sunday night I had two more, one right after the other, with nausea this time, and woke up the next morning with a pounding headache (though not bad enough to get me out of work.) So I scuttled to the doctor Monday morning and am now sitting on a bottle of Imitrex waiting impatiently for another light show to kick off so I don't feel like I wasted my money. [One would think, also, that one's insurance company would accomodate one in the area of migraine medication in that they would not dare to throw up roadblocks in the way of one's acquisition of said medication. One would be wrong, of course.]
Watched as much of the Reagan funeral on Friday as I could between bites of lunch at Nan's*, and then watched the first half again at Angela's via the miracle of digital recording. As Bernadine noted via email last week, he was probably the greatest president we'll see in our lifetimes, and I'm grateful he came along when he did so I didn't have to spend my college years listening to Carter asking the rest of the world for more gruel. He left the country better than he found it; I can't imagine a better legacy.
*Paternal grandmother, last remaining grandparent. Great cook.
He got me. Good, graceful speech.
"America the Beautiful":
Well-sung, but I have an unreasoning dislike of that song.
"Totalitarian towers tumbled"--that's a bit precious, isn't it? I like alliteration in its place, but that just sounded like showing off. Also, third "shining city on a hill" reference by my count. It's a great quote, but not if everybody uses it. Still better than the opener.
Looks unnaturally good, frankly. I almost wish she'd worn red.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the former friend and adviser to Michael Jackson, has attacked the Material Mom, calling her a "slut" and a "vulgarian."The cherry on the cake, the reaction of Madonna's "people":
"I find Rabbi Boteach's comments regarding Madonna frightening," said Liz Rosenberg. "His vile attacks on her character and as an artist are staggering for someone who professes to be a religious person. ... I suggest this man take a look at his own character and what problems he may have that would make him feel that he should make statements about a truly beautiful human being that he does not know in the slightest.""Frightening"? Really? How is calling her a slut and a vulgarian "frightening"? And, by the way, we all "know" Madonna; she's been very insistent about foisting herself on the public at all given opportunities. As Bernadine always used to say, you can't yell "Free Cookies!" at the top of your lungs and then get mad when someone tries to take one.
1/2 cup black walnuts
2 Tbsp. white corn syrup
Scald in a heavy saucepan over medium heat:
1 cup half and half
Stir into hot half and half until dissolved:
1/2 cup sugar
With the food processor running, pour hot half and half mixture into nut puree and process until completely smooth. Pour through a seive into a clean bowl and allow to cool slightly, then stir in:
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. black walnut extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy cream
Refrigerate until very cold (about 4 hours) or overnight. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions, adding 2 Tbsp. of black walnut meats in the last 5 minutes of freezing (or to taste).
And then I read this translation of a German interview with Emmerich in Tim Blair's comments [Note: Today's Bleat does a better job dissecting the interview than I have. Feel free to skip all the following and go read that.]
Q: Will the anti-Bush mood outside of America be conducive to the success of the film?Hold it right there. What a stupid fucking question. No one in the US gives two shits what some German filmmaker thinks about our system of government. No one in the government, no one in the private sector--no one.
A: I had no idea that Bush would get up to all the things he did eventually. During the last election campaign I was already writing the script. I hope America comes to its senses. They have been so lied to by the government. For us Europeans this is crystal clear, but also for a few Americans. However there are still 50% of Americans who want to vote for Bush – this is absolutely inconceivable for me.
Q: Don´t you get into all kinds of trouble when you as a German take such a stand?
A: As I already told my mother, they probably won´t let me back in. (laughs)If only.
Q: But you are not the only one fulminating against Bush. Many filmmakers think the same way.No, it is neither, but neither is it terribly surprising. "New"? We've had all the usual suspects spouting the same tired lefty crap about Bush being Hitler (now, there's critical discourse for you) since he got elected--er, stole the election. It's like you ninnies are all singing from the same hymnal, if you'll pardon the Christian metaphor.
A: That is indeed new and it is good. I admire colleagues who are commited to political awareness and engage in a critical discourse with people.
[Skipping his laughable recap of the last presidential election.]
Q: Are these things really communicated in the open?I love this. This is my favorite quote. Like the US has been behind an Iron Curtain and is just now emerging into the glorious light of liberty for the first time. You know, like when the wall finally came down in East Berlin. In Germany. [polite cough]
A: Yes, for the first time there are now open discussions.
Q: Whereas the infamous Patriot Act has even succeeded in muzzling media.Sadly, the Patriot Act hasn't even dampened their ardor.
A: That is a giant problem. As soon as you criticize something, you are no longer a patriot. What about that?1) Roland--you're not an American. You aren't a patriot, at least in regards to the US, and never were. 2) Regarding those of your acquaintance who are US citizens and feel aggrieved because some of their fellow citizens have expressed displeasure with their opinions--tough. It amuses the hell out of me that leftists always bleat about wanting debate and reasoned discourse, and they're the first ones to shout down a conservative speaker at a rally or a campus lecture, and the first ones to cry that their feelings are hurt when a contrary view is expressed. And you know what? When you actively work against the interests of your own country, you're not a patriot.
America is the oldest democracy in the world. Since then they have totally developed beckwards. Euope was most of the time under monarchic influence [sic], but is today three or four times as democratic as America. I hope this will soon change. I think that will work out.I think what we have here is a confusion in terms. Europe isn't a democracy; the individual countries that comprise Europe may have, to varying degrees, elected governments, but the top EU posts in Brussels are not elected. If Emmerich is happy with that situation, good for him, but that doesn't make it a democracy.
There's more, and it would be hilarious if it wasn't so annoying. The upshot is that I'm not spending a single cent to see any movie Emmerich makes from here on out. It's the least I can do as a patriot.
The film isn't called The Iliad for a reason, and that reason is that it's not a direct adaptation of The Iliad. Homer didn't originate the story of the Trojan war. He wrote the best-known versions of two parts of the saga in the Iliad and the Odyssey, but these are not the only source materials. The choice of Paris (i.e., the selection of the most beautiful among Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite and subsequent awarding of Helen) does not appear in the Iliad. Neither does the abduction of Helen. Neither does the Trojan horse. Neither do the deaths of Achilles, nor Paris, nor Agamemnon. Criticisms based on a supposed lack of fidelity to the Iliad would seem to miss the point in this regard.
For those waxing wroth over the fact that Troy compresses the timeline and doesn't present the story as a ten-year seige: I'm absolutely agog to hear suggestions as to how to keep the narrative on point and cover ten years in a three hour movie. Hell, it took Peter Jackson THREE MOVIES and something like TWELVE HOURS to adequately cover the events of a single year in the Lord of the Rings saga, and even with that much space to spread out in he completely hosed up the pacing in the third film so that it appears to be a 15-minute ride to the Morannon from Minas Tirith, despite the fact that the same journey took Frodo half the length of the film. (Granted, he was walking/staggering.) The narrowing of the scope of the film seems an entirely sensible compromise.
For those further waxing wroth over the absence of the gods: you've got to be joking. Has it really been so long since Clash of the Titans that you're actually prepared to swear you'd treat the movie seriously if you'd seen Paris being wafted away in the middle of his fight with Menelaus on Aphrodite's cloud? Because that's precisely how he escapes being butchered in the text, and I frankly can't imagine not snickering. The film isn't being presented as mythology; it's being presented as a quasi-historical version of events--much as King Arthur is purported to be (the critical drubbing being extended to Troy doesn't bode well for this film. I can already hear the weeping over the abandonment of Mallory's text. Gad.) Besides, apart from the issue of believability, the movie already has a large cast; adding the gods to the script would only further diffuse the focus of the story.
Having seen it twice I find some of the casting criticisms bizarre, but I won't argue with subjective opinion. I think Brad Pitt is just fine as Achilles. Eric Bana is as steady and somber as Hector ought to be. Orlando Bloom is perfectly-cast as Paris (the worst character in Western literature); he's a doe-eyed prettyboy--which is kinda the point--if a bit too much of a thickie as written. As a bonus, he and Bana also actually looked quite a bit like brothers on-screen. Brian Cox is gloriously hammy as Agamemnon; Brendan Gleeson is good as Menelaus (my personal favorite scene in the film is the ass-kicking he gives Paris. He just looks completely nuts from the helmet-cam perspective. Sure, it's cheesy. But it adds an indefinable something.) I'm pleased to say Peter O'Toole brought his screen presence with him, and as an added bonus you get Nigel Terry as his spiritual advisor. All the women are fine in their parts, under-written as they are; even Helen doesn't get a lot of dialog, but the film never purported to be an exploration of her tormented soul, and I'm good with that.
In all, it's not the greatest film I've ever seen and it didn't force me to reevaluate my entire existence, but I don't generally require that of a film. It's just an engrossing story competently written, shot, acted, and directed. I wouldn't think to ask for more.
Addendum: Bill McCabe may never forgive me if I don't point out that the legendary Sean Bean is excellent as Odysseus.
First item: Fifty Million Frenchmen and Fat Fuck Michael Moore can, in fact, be wrong.
Second item: Sean Penn thinks there aren't nearly enough political films. The money quote:
Penn saw his Oscar win as a sign of hope.Is it even remotely possible he thinks audiences vote for the Oscars? Moreover, I don't see how pushing a leftist agenda constitutes "debate". Michael Moore's bullshit documentaries, worshipful biopics of undertalented Stalin-lovin' painter Frida Kahlo, and Ollie Stone mash notes to jackbooted thug Fidel Castro seem to be the only political "art" mainstream Hollywood finds itself capable of producing--and that's not debate. That's propaganda. That is the will of the business Penn works in, and the will of the people be damned.
"I think what it says is that while it's absolutely a real concern that the venue for debate is being diminished, that the tolerance for it is still in the will of the American people, still in the will of the business I work in and evidently in the will of the audience," he said.
Links via Drudge.
Look, it's a popcorn movie. Don't pay full price. Hit the matinee, take some cotton for your ears, sit back and let it wash over you, and don't ask too many questions.
Update: Ok, now the links are fixed, though I'm not quite sure how I did it. Publishing is still a mess, at least on my end.
Beowulf – Verse and prose translations.
Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot – Hell no.
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans – I liked it. I don’t care what Twain says.
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno
de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays – “To be great is to be misunderstood.” Whatever you say, Ralph.
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll’s House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior – The one interesting book in that damned ChickLit course.
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain – the big thing was Death in Venice when I was in college.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick – I liked the technical whaling info. It was Billy Budd that made me want to kill.
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
Morrison, Toni – Beloved - Also The Bluest Eye. Agh.
O’Connor, Flannery - “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
O’Neill, Eugene - Long Day’s Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar – Good God, no.
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales – I’ve read them all.
Proust, Marcel - Swann’s Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver’s Travels
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair – The wittier version of War and Peace.
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son
There’s a strong whiff of multiculturalist revisionism coming off this list (not to mention a dearth of Roman authors); putting Alice Walker on the same level as Jane Austen is a crime against literature. Personal additions (by no means exhaustive):
The Arabian Nights
Aristophanes – Birds, Clouds, Frogs. Take your pick.
Bunyan, John - Pilgrim's Progress
Gogol, Nikolai - The Nose, The Inspector General
Graves, Robert - I, Claudius
Grimm, The Brothers - Grimm's Fairy Tales
Machiavelli, Niccolo - The Prince
Milton, John - Paradise Lost
Mitchell, Margaret - Gone With the Wind
Scott, Sir Walter - Ivanhoe
Shakespeare - Julius Caesar and King Lear
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Tacitus - The Annals and The Histories
Vergil - The Aeneid
Poets: Auden, Dickinson, Donne, Frost, Nash, Pope, Pushkin, Tennyson, Wordsworth.