September 30, 2004

Back to Politics

     Sorry, but I have to return to politics once again. The conclusion of the first presidential debate has just taken place, and this narrator saw a Kerry victory. Kerry's ideas and beliefs were put forth in a hard willed manner, while Bush fumbled and stumbled.
     This debate was supposed to be Bush's turf: the war in Iraq. Kerry constantly discredited everything that this administration has done and stood for, whether they were right or wrong, and The President had no rebuttal! Bush did make some points that he stood for, but they were weak, and John Kerry stomped them into the ground with intelligent remarks and "facts." The President told us approximately 1138 times that the war is "hard work." We know that it is hard work. How are you going to use that hard work and get us out of this mess with a victory, and how soon? At least put forth a plan for us. Back up your statements with some facts...please! While Kerry very firmly stated his plans and ideas, President Bush looked worried, stuttered, and stared blankly at the camera for uncomfortable lengths of time while talking about mixed signals again and again.
     The American people (at least us of the undecided) were not sure where exactly John Kerry stood on foreign policy and the situation in Iraq because of his so-called "flip-flopping." But that all changed tonight. I am not going to sit and analyze everything that was said in the discussion; I am only calling it as I see it 15 minutes after the debate ended, and I saw Kerry as the victor. Simply put, he just seemed to be more "on his toes" regarding every question and every rebuttal.
      I have to admit that I was rooting for Bush; mostly because I hate the bleeding heart liberal nay-sayers and hate-mongers that support Kerry, and constantly are trying to impede our progress in Iraq (which I support). But Kerry really showed what he is made of tonight, and I was very impressed with his stature and statements.
     As of tonight, the polls showed anywhere from a 5 to 10 percentage point lead for Bush over Kerry. I think that after tonight that margin will begin to narrow, and we now have a real race on our hands. I know that your humble independent narrator just jumped a couple of pegs to the left tonight.

Cheney vs. Edward

Bush vs. Kerry #2

September 25, 2004

Almost Famous

     Watched Almost Famous again last night. What a fantastic film. Some beautiful shots, and great dialogue. Possibly Cameron Crowe's best film. The scene after the big fight among the band members the next day when they're driving through the country side on their bus is transcendant. When they all start singing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" in unison...fantastic. Everything bad just goes away with a little bit of good music and friends.
     With a wonderful performance from Frances McDormand and Kate Hudson's magical acting, it is a journey to behold. If you haven't seen this film yet, rent it now. If you have seen it, check it out again. It is an experience to say the least.

Back to My Roots

     I'm going to try to get back to more movie talk instead of all this political rant. I'm very interested in current events and the upcoming election, but it's time for me to try and return to my roots. The greatest invention of all time: the moving picture.
There still will be the occasional politician bash, or media upheaval, but I love movies too much to foresake them. I also seem to have forgotten about my Top 10 lists. I will have a new one up soon. Take care, and keep on visiting the movies.

Upcoming films that look like they might be good:
(click to see trailer)

I Love Huckabees
Silver City
The Incredibles
Team America: World Police
Meet the Fockers
The Life Aquatic
Shawn of the Dead

September 23, 2004

Big Bush Interview

     Just a reminder to all of you that Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Bush will begin on Monday, and be the first in a three part series, continuing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Bill O'reilly aires on Fox News Channel at 7pm and 10pm central time. Monday will be questions regarding foreign policy, Tuesday will be domestic policy, and Wednesday will be personal questions.
     Many critics are already waiting for the inevitable "softball" questions O'Reilly tosses to the Commander in Chief. I don't think that they will be that exactly, but it will be interesting to find out how it is handled. Realize of course that although O'Reilly disagrees with Bush on many things, he does generally like Bush, and does respect him, so there won't be an angry debate or so called "bomb-throwing." The President DID NOT pre-screen the questions. So he will have to think on his toes, so to speak (which we all know is not his strong point).
     I am very much looking forward to this interview, and I think the President's responses will be very interesting, although maybe predictable.
     By the way, O'Reilly has invited Sen. John Kerry to have a similar "discussion," and as of yet, Sen. Kerry has not responded. There is a poll at Bill O', asking whether or not you think Kerry will accept the invitation. Check it out.

Relevant Links:

Bill O'Reilly home page
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdock's war on journalism. Does Fox News have a conservative bias?
Fox News home.

September 21, 2004

Star Wars on DVD!

     Finally! I don't know why George Lucas has waited so long to release his masterpiece to the world on the highest quality a/v medium known....D V D. But it has finally happened, and all I can say is, it's about time!! After the Vikings loss Monday night, I drowned my sorrows in the rain, waiting in what had to be an 800 person long line, for Best Buy to open its doors at midnight. It was well worth it. Here is a look at the scene there (through the eyes of my cell phone):

My girlfriend being hassled by security.

The Dark Lord was on hand to "encourage" sales.

The line wrapped around Best Buy and across the parking lot.

     As you can sort of see, it was crazy. Lots of people (nerds), radio sponsored, local news stations, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune were there. Trivia for giveaways, and pleasant conversation.

     Now, onto the DVD itself. This IS NOT the original theatrical release; this was the special edition of the special edition. A few new tweaks, for better or worse I'm not sure. But here are a few examples:

Though these pics are kind of small, you can see clearly here that actor Sebastian Shaw has been replaced with the image of Hayden Christiensen (who plays Anakin in episodes I & 2) for the final scene in Return of the Jedi.

This is something that has always bothered me, and I like the fact that GL fixed it. The correct actor (Ian McDiarmid) now portrays the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back. However, he changed some of the dialogue which I am NOT happy about.

     There are many other small to moderate changes GL made to his films. Here is a site that shows a few more: Star Wars DVD changes

     Of course besides the obvious stuff, the sound has been tweaked into digital 5.1 surround EX, plus THX mastering both aurally and visually (it sounds fantastic if you have a good home theater). There are all of the original trailers from the '77 release (I can't believe anyone went to see the films after seeing these horribly cheesy trailers). Also included is a 2.5 hour documentary on the phenomenon of Star Wars (longer version than was on A&E last week). There is a playable Xbox demo version of Star Wars: Battleground. There is a small preview of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith...which is actually just a short showing the making of the new Darth Vader costume. Lots of other little goodies as well. Do yourself a favor: treat yourself to this experience, and purchase this fantastic DVD box set NOW!!

September 19, 2004

A Busy Monday Night

     Hey ya'll. After an exciting Twins game, and a near division clinch, we have another long exciting night of sports and movies ahead of us...
When Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens connected on three touchdowns for the Eagles in the season-opening weekend, only one other quarterback-receiver duo came close to matching them: the Vikings' Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss, who struck for a pair of TDs. Now two of the top combos in the NFL will be on the same field when the Eagles host the Vikings tonight in Philadelphia. I, and several friends and kin will be at Major's in Bloomington if anyone wants to show up and cheer for the purple team, or to beat me up.
Afterwards, I will be heading to Best Buy in Richfield for the revealing of STAR WARS ON DVD...FINALLY! Everyone should give George Lucas more money and purchase this amazing trilogy of films, with an added 4th disc of crazy bonus features.

Do it.. do it..

Go Twins!!

     Your humble narrator made the TV last night!!! Check out the link to see yours truly and kin supporting our true pick for the leaders of this country....

September 17, 2004

My Support for the Iraq War?

     Six months ago, my support for the war was unwavering. Now it is wavering. As the American death toll in Iraq exceeds 1000, and as more and more troops and innocents are being killed everyday, I'm beginning to wonder if this was all worth it. I hope so. It might be hard to tell a woman who has lost her son in the war that it was worth it, but I still believe that this world is better off without Saddam Hussein and his regime, and I still believe the people of Iraq will have a better life in the long run.
     What is starting to piss me off is that we are the strongest nation in the world; both militarily and economically. We have the technology to literally see through walls, fire missiles accurate enough to hit a cow from 200 miles away, see everything going on in a 10 ft. room from outer space, and yet we are getting hammered by a bunch of rag-tag insurgents in the middle of the desert. I feel like we are the mighty Empire, and the Ewoks are defeating us with large boulders and logs!
     I realize that part of the problem are the liberal special interest groups that won't allow our military to show its might and enter "holy" cities, much less a mosque. We have the French government doing anything they can to make our mission more difficult, and constant in-fighting among our own government.
     But still, the buck stops with Bush. He is the most powerful man in the world (next to Bill Gates), and needs to show it. So there we are, sitting at the edge of a city trying to negotiate with people who don't even know the meaning of the word, unless they have a bomb strapped to his/her body. We sit back and take it while people (and I hesitate to use the word "people") storm a school and kill little children. We allow terrorists to drive up to a building full of innocent civilians and detonate a car bomb. The entire problem is so deep and tangled that I don't even know how to write about it. We need to stop fighting amongst ourselves at home and decide to do one of two things: go in fast and hard and take out the bad guys in one giant swoop, or withdraw completely and let the world deal with itself and see how they like it without the good ol' US of A to protect them. Goodbye.

More Kerry Bashing

     First John Kerry said that the United States went into war all alone without the support of the international community. When it was pointed out that actually over 30 countries have sent troops into Iraq, and many others have pledged their support in other ways, he changed his tune a little. He now says there is a coalition, but it is the coalition of the "coerced and bribed." I'm confused. Which country is it that is coerced and bribed? Britain? Italy? Australia? Japan? France and Germany are the countries who were bribed, and not by us, but by the enemy. Its interesting that we are finding enormous quantities of French-made weapons that were being used by Saddam's regime.
     It is true that President Bush told the international community, "you are either with us, or against us," but I do not think that this could be considered coersion. I do think it is funny however, that (according to one website) Norway has a whopping 10 troops in Iraq.


     First off, can't the media come up with a more original name than Memo-gate? How about How Dan Rather got screwed by someone. Once again, I agree with Bill O'Reilly on this one. Dan got duped. I don't think, as radical right wingers believe, that he truly wanted the documents to be true, and even though he knew they were falsified (if indeed they are fake), he went with the story anyway. I would like to hope that Dan Rather has higher journalistic standards than that, and I think he does. However, I think Dan Rather is going about the aftermath in the wrong way. Sticking by his story is one thing, but to say that he doesn't think an investigation should take place concerning the documents is wrong. CBS' rating have plummetted off the map in the past week because of this, and something needs to be done.
     The story is no longer GW's military service, which as I stated in an earlier blog, most Americans already know about, and don't care (before you liberals freak out about that last statement, I also don't think the average American cares about Kerry's record either, but he is the one who continues to bring it up and base his campaign on). I know I don't care about what either one of them did 30 years ago, I want to know what they are going to do about current problems. Anyway, as I was saying, GW's service is no longer the story. Now it's about who wrote the fake documents, where was CBS' famous investigative journalism, and who approved these documents for Dan Rather to present as the main evidence in his case against Bush?
     What does this say about journalism in America? I think standards are dropping. Especially with the rise of the internet. Independent bloggers now have a huge voice in politics. How do we know that they have standards in their reporting. Rumors flying, anonymous sources, unsubstantiated facts, cunning editing of other reports, accusations.... I think it will eventually spin out of control until we won't know who to believe.

Related links:

CBS Evening News
Article discussing the ins and outs of why the documents are suspected to be fake.
Shattered Glass - a movie about less than honest reporting.
Code of ethics for journalists.

September 13, 2004


     "Cellular" is the story of a woman, Kim Bassinger (Batman, LA Confidential), who is kidnapped by some men, and while they are not looking, able to fix the broken phone just well enough to dial a random number and ask for help. The poor young man who answers (Chris Evans) on his cell phone is thrust into a wild afternoon of car racing, gun shooting, and treachery. Intense action and a fun ride, "Cellular" provides a wild albeit predictable experience. Throughout, the usual annoying problems arise. Unbelieving police, annoyingly stupid people in the way, and of course poor cell phone connections at just the wrong time. On the other hand, there are many convenient outs for the young man. Example: there is one scene where there just happens to be a long construction tube just big enough for a man to fit in, leading from a roof top, that just happens to end in a pile of nice soft foam carpet pieces. Hmm. What could this be used for?
     Although absolutly ridiculous, and I would not recommend spending nine bucks on this one, I still enjoyed myself, and was immersed in the action, and found myself tensing up now and again. Kim Bassinger's performance was well done, however I can't believe she signed on to this one, considering the other actors' status in Hollywood. They aren't nobodies, but they aren't superstars either (save for William H. Macy). Her career must be slowing down a bit. Enough rambling. Wait for the rental some night, when you are bored.
2.5 out of 4

Movies that had similarities to this one:
Panic Room
The Net

September 09, 2004

Political Mudslinging

     This will hopefully be my last political rant for a while. I usually try to keep my political beliefs to myself, but today, I just couldn't help it. What is going on with all the previous war experience mudslinging going on between Senator Kerry and President Bush? My answer is, Who cares? Kerry and Bush both served our country as younger men. Both made some mistakes. Both, I believe, are patriots, and want what io best for our country. The problem is, they continue to focus on the past. I don't care what John Kerry did 35 years ago, and I don't care about Bush's military experience. Let's focus on the current issues, please!

     Here is the problem however. Kerry is campaigning specifically on his past military experience. Almost his entire theme during the Democratic national convention (which I watched almost in its entirety), focused on his Vietnam experience. So, he brought the wrath of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth guys upon himself. Second, he refuses to release his military medical records to the public. Why? If he did such a fantastic job "defending this country in Vietnam," (?) and did nothing wrong, why won't he release his records for all to see unless he has something to hide. This is poor campaigning. I want to believe him (I really do), but what is he hiding?* President Bush released all of his records regarding his National Guard service immediately. He didn't campaign or bring attention to his past military experience. He wants people to vote or not vote for him based on his last four years as commander in chief, not what he did 30 years ago. I think this is smarter campaigning.
     But my whole point is this, let's get away from all this past military experience garbage, and talk about the war in Iraq, the economy, education, and all other important issues facing us today. After all, when I applied for my latest job, the interviewer did not ask me about my experience and behavior when I was in kindergarten.

*There is a fantastic movie starring Jeff Bridges and Joan Allen called The Contender addressing this very issue.

Hilary.... **sigh**

     After making a few valid points, Senator Clinton said that Bush, who campaigned as a "compassionate conservative" in 2000, had taken a "hard-right turn to pursue an extremist agenda," she has also become convinced the Republican administration wants "to undo the New Deal," the Roosevelt-era policies that ushered in Social Security. Really? Well consider this:

     Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, and one of my favorite presidents, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program.
He promised:
1.) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary,

2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program

3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,

4.) That the money the participants put into the independent "Trust Fund" rather than into the General operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and,

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income.
Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month -- and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the Federal government to "put away," you may be interested in the following:

Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent "Trust" fund and put it into the General fund so that Congress could spend it?
A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the democratically controlled House and Senate.

Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?
A: The Democratic Party.

Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?
A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the "tie-breaking" deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the U.S.

Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?
A: That's right! Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive SSI Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!

     After doing all this lying and thieving and violation of the original contract (FICA), the Democrats turn around and tell you that the Republicans want to take your Social Security away! And the worst part about it is, uninformed citizens believe it!

Anti-Bush Protestors Hurt Kerry

     Once again, BIll O'Reilly explains, more eloquently than I, exactly how I feel about political isues. This time, about the NYC protestors during the Republican national convention. Every time the far left open their collective mouths, I feel less and less inclined to vote for Kerry. These are the people who support Kerry? They are insane and have a warped view of the world. It's OK to disagree with policies and actions of the Bush or any administration. But have some facts to back up your beliefs, and hate mongering and name-calling WILL NOT HELP YOUR CAUSE. At least not with me. Here is an excerpt from one of Bill O'Reilly's many smart articles:

      "...The people protesting the Republican Convention also helped Mr. Bush. With more than a thousand arrests, some cops badly injured, and innocent people harassed, the protestors are looked upon as fanatical and irrational by many Americans. And some of them are. A survey by The New York Sun newspaper found protestors favored a socialistic government more than any other. That kind of attitude is not a help to Senator Kerry.

      Increasingly, the visible anti-Bush forces are defining themselves as way out there. A new Zogby poll found that almost half of New York City residents believe some in the Bush administration knew the USA would be attacked on 9/11, and did nothing to stop it. Of course, there's not a shred of verifiable evidence backing up that insane belief. New York City is overwhelmingly anti-Bush, and the rest of country is noticing the caliber of criticism. If I were making a movie about the irrational Bush haters, I would entitle it "Night of Living Dumb."

      The fundamental problem with the anti-Bush zealots is that they desperately want to believe the President is a bad man, and will reject all rational discussion that goes against their thesis. That kind of fanaticism frightens mainstream American voters and creates sympathy for the President. Irrational displays will never win an election. Ask Howard Dean.

      A few months ago, I wrote in this space that John Kerry would not be seen in public with the likes of Michael Moore and the other far left bomb throwers, and that has proven to be true. Mr. Kerry knows he must convince centrist voters to support him if he wants to win, and radicals like Moore alienate the center.

      If you still don't believe me, consider this: Fox News and your humble correspondent have come under horrific attack from the radical left. But every time a smear book or movie comes out defaming us, our ratings go up. My television program "The O'Reilly Factor" easily won its timeslot in the cable news wars during the Democratic Convention, and we beat the opposition three to one during the Republican gathering. The more the crazies tell Americans that I am unfair and unbalanced, the more people tune in. Where do I send the gift?"

      This is not a pro-Bush article by the way, O'Reilly is simply stating that these protestors leave the average tax-paying American wondering, "are these the kind of people that support Kerry? I don't want to 'hang' with these people do I?" Since Kerry seems to be doing a very poor job in clearly explaining his position on various issues, the people are left to only see what the Kerry supporters say; and this is dangerous for the senator.

Add on (2 hours later):
     A conservative radio show I was listening to about a month ago was discussing this very issue: the hate mongering and mean spirit of far leftists. One of the issues being discussed was how cars displaying Bush bumper stickers are being vandalized (sometimes severely), all across the country, while this is never a complaint of car owners bearing the Kerry/Edwards stickers. I took this with a grain of salt as it was a conservative talk show, and most of the callers and listeners were conservative.
     That all changed not 30 minutes ago. I pulled into a local discount store to pick up my girlfriend who was shopping. The police were near the front door with a man in custody. Naturally, out of curiosity, I pulled into a parking spot close enough to hear what was going on. As I pulled into the spot, the police and a young couple began to walk in my direction. They stopped at a huge, very expensive gas guzzling SUV right next to me. The couple pointed out to the police the very large squiggly scratch that extended twice from one end of their automobile to the other. One of the officers examining the damage began to walk around to the other side of the vehicle. As he rounded the rear of the vehicle, he announced, and I quote, "A-ha! Motive established. We never get calls about cars with Kerry stickers, but this happens all the time." He then pointed to the Bush/Cheney sticker adorning the rear window.
     This just re-inforces my belief that ultra-left people who accuse Bush of destroying this country (which may or may not be true) are hypocrites, and have lesser social values than the rest of us. I rest my case.

September 01, 2004


     In comparison to other reviewers, I have realized that I am not so articulate at explaining why I like or don't like a certain feature. Still, people often call me or email me wanting to know about certain films. Have I seen them, will I see them, what did I think, or simply, "what was the name of that movie with that one guy?" Anyway, because of that reason, I will continue to tell you what's good, what's not good, and what you should spend your money on...just like the democrats (sorry, had to get that in there). So here goes...a brand new movie review.
     Saw Hero (aka Ying xiong) last night, and I have to say, it was very good. This will be an easy review to give. The scenery and color contrasts were gorgeous. In fact, it's the shots that make the movie. Watch the trailer to see exactly what I mean. The larger the screen you see this movie on, the better. The martial arts scenes were well choreographed and executed, and the storyline was generally interesting. The entire film was very similar to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. If you liked that film, you will love Hero. Simple as that. I like to try to avoid telling people what the movie is about, and I will continue that tradition here. Different versions of the main storyline are revealed throughout the movie, and at times it is slightly hard to follow, but it progresses smoothly. The entire film is a testament to the ideals held by people, concerning which is more important; the good of the many, or the good of the one.
     Again, I really enjoyed the film. Having said all the good things about it, I would like to state the not-so-good things. I felt that, as beautiful as it was, the director was trying too hard. It was as though he was trying to out-do Crouching Tiger; and by attempting to do so, dismantled the overall storyline a bit. There was also nothing new or refreshing about the movie. The same Matrix-esque style fighting, and Ang-Lee scenery. Basically, although I enjoyed the film very much, and I recommend it to all, I left the theater feeling just unsatisfied. Oh...and one last thing, the film is in Chinese. Therefore, you are forced to read subtitles. I wouldn't let that influence you, but some people are very turned off by subtitles.
     So, out of 5 Chinese throwing stars, I give this film 4 kills and a miss.