Friday, June 30, 2006

Camera Obscura - Superdickery, Asian Conflicts and The Silver Surfer

With all the attention being paid to a new "Superman" movie, there are certain notions which most reviewers have abandoned regarding the Caped One which I am happy to provide even if it tarnishes the shine on this American Icon.

It seems most reviews and media praise want to forget how overdone this storyline has become. First, I keep noticing comments that there seems to be overtones of a religious nature - um, folks, isn't that really, really obvious?? - a being with unheard of abilities arrives on Earth; his true nature is withheld during his childhood years until he realizes He Was Sent Here For a Purpose; his real Father urges him to Help Those In Need on Earth; His earthly Mom gives him constant encouragement and his friends don't seem to comprehend his Real Identity; He feels somewhat isolated from the mass populace even though His help is needed; many folks feel compelled to attack and hurt Him, etc etc.

Add to this that the story of this Hero has been on radio, television and in movies for about 60 years or more. Finding new tales to tell is a tall order. Early reviews indicate this newest version is quite entertaining - is this a sign viewers have a need for a Hero who is actually Heroic? Probably.

There has always been a certain cheesy quality to the Man of Steel comics - and one web site (provided to me some time ago by the legendary Cinema Monkey) which is absolutely hilarious - Superman is a Dick defines the aforementioned "cheese". Using only the actual comic book covers from decades past, yeah, ol' Supes has had kind of a mean and tricky side. You'll find much to entertain you at

There are pages and pages of examples on the website, plus a host of many other wildly hilarious comic book covers that leave you wondering just what the heck the publishers and writers were actually trying to say. (click on the image for a larger view)

Some other comic books news for you this Friday -- one that has me hopeful is that one of my favorite characters might finally get his moment in the spotlight. Rumors are flying the next "Fantastic Four" movie will focus on the Intergalactic Surfer Dude - yes, FF 2 will feature none other than the Silver Surfer.

Cinema Monkey was also kind enough to point me to the vast world of comic book blogging via the offerings at Marvel Comics Blogs. Tons of nerd-filled pleasure/debates/news. And I did note with some satisfaction that Marvel's Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada has one titled "Cup Of Blog." I guess he knew "Cup of Joe" was taken, heh heh.

Some sad news to report today too - despite our mutual admiration for Asian Cinema, GoldenAppleCorp at Atomic Tumor took my advice and watched the horror movie "Pulse" (the American remake is out this summer) and GAC says - it was boring and made no sense. Aww, hate to hear that, but in all honesty, about half the people I encouraged to see it said the same, though the other half agreed with me that it was a well-made, disturbing example of the horrors of existential loneliness. (yeah, I know, soooooo many people like stuff like that in a movie).

Maybe my preference simply reveals I live a tenuous existence at the edge of the abyss of Complete Existential Dread with the ghost of Samuel Beckett whispering in my ear.

Using mostly shadows or the offscreen implication of weirdness, I think the movie scored a bullseye on the freaky/disturbing scale. Others say - made no sense, never was scary. I think it's one of those cases where the movie fired up my imagination via minimalistic methods and left others wondering what was the point of all that??

GAC recommended I watch "Volcano High" which I did this week. I liked it okay, especially the way it was filmed and the way images and characters collided in a story (one also kind of hard to decipher) about a new kid at school with amazing powers and the struggle for Power between students and teachers. Now, since this was a movie made in Korea, the plot twist of New Teachers with Super Fighting Abilities arriving to challenge and chastise both students and teachers made me consider the film as a bit of a metaphor for the current political climate in North and South Korea.

But, ya' know GAC, I liked "Pulse" better, as well as "Battle Royale", but still, I did like "Volcano High" - it sort of reminded me of the anime series "Cromartie High School" - a surreal and nearly slapstick action story.

Atomic T. himself expressed much excitement for the 2nd season debut of "The Venture Brothers" on Adult Swim - man was it good. I'll never miss an episode. Newbies can catch-up by getting Season One which is out on DVD. It's just so funny and very imaginative in the ways it plays with the conventions of television cartoons. It's like Jonny Quest meets Mad Magazine. Catch it on Sunday nights on Cartoon Network.

For horror movie news - would ya believe it - more and more horror remakes are ahead, including Rob Zombie's new version of "Halloween," and another take at "Aliens vs Predator," Brad Pitt's planned Zombie movie, plus more Romero zombies on the way and in general a heaping abundance of all things horror movie at

Next week, an exclusive peek at the DVD "The Garden" starring Lance Henricksen from Anchor Bay, AND a book review of "Comfort and Joi, by author Joseph Dougherty, which chronicles the career of the mostly unknown actress Joi Lansing, who was featured in "Singing In The Rain," Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" and grade-Z 1960s horror schlock like "Hillbillys In A Haunted House."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Being Polite

I listened to a professor of language and media this afternoon on Fresh Air on the public radio station attempting to explain the differences and difficulties in today's political discourse. So, to say that sentence again in the way some of you might read it - I was listening to a liberal talking about useless liberal college agendas on a liberal radio network.

He made a fine point that after all these years since American encountered the Bunker family on "All In The Family", our political debate today most often is characterized and shaped by media as an easy-to-follow, endless Archie vs Meathead argument, where the point seems to be focused on outrage at the Left or Right and that most of us hearing or seeing the argument have really already got solid views on whatever topic is being "discussed". Most of us know it's enterainment-based and simplistic. To constantly narrow the views one has thru a limited prism of Left and Right is a ever-limiting and distorting of Reality.

Talk show stars, like Rush or Coulter or Hannity or Boortz or Franken or Carville, are just members of our extended family whose eccentricities are indulged out of politeness on our part; rodeo clowns of distraction who served a limited and defined function.

Here's a fine post today from Huck in Nashville that pretty much explains as well why people who believe in the Church of Rush Limbaugh aren't in the mainstream - or even a sidestream - well, really they are kinda just extreme. Nice one, Huck.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Poor Frist

Poor Senator Frist.

Asked why the public has a low approval rating for the GOP and Congress in general, the Senator blamed CNN. (via TGW and Enclave)

The dang ol' commie media doesn't focus on the Great Works accomplished under his gentle, guiding hand. They don't report the legislation that really matters.

I wonder if he means the Senate resolution he sponsored last week - a daring statement of congratulations for the cities of Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA for existing for 150 years.

It Must Be An Election Year

Score and goal to Volunteer Voters for pointing to a fine quote in reference to the failed attempt to change the Constitution and add flag burning as a Constitutional Crime.

Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."
John Stuart Mill

Kleinheider knows what he's talking about:

This is, quite frankly, a stupid debate."

Not to mention the preferred method for disposing of a flag that has become worn out or damage is burning it. Yeesh.

Inside a Maze of Secrets

Attempting to understand the shuck and jive political game of blaming the media for all ills in America, as well as the dizzying maze of innuendo and accusation flowing from the President and Vice President and their supporters who cry "treason!!" at the drop of a hat is like looking at one of M.C. Escher's surreal staircases.

God only knows why I bother to puzzle the maze out - it seems that Facts are merely blank ciphers formatted to fit the needs of the moment. The hysteria regarding the NYTimes report about U.S. efforts to trace terrorists via banking activity has been prodigious, Facts less so.

Glenn Greenwald points out what many others have as well - there is no clear sign the NYTimes report could be seen as aiding terrorists. Should such proof be presented, I will happily retract any criticisms - in other words, "treason" needs some evidence beyond the reporting of a commonly discussed policy.

... all anyone has to do to realize the sheer falsity of those claims is to compare the "treasonous" articles in question to prior public statements and documents from the Bush administration. Terrorists already knew that we were attempting to eavesdrop on their telephone calls because the Bush administration repeatedly talked about our surveillance programs. And, for the same reason, terrorists already knew that we were monitoring banking transactions -- including specifically those effectuated through SWIFT. And yet we are subjected to an increasingly frenzied lynch mob insisting that reporters have committed treason without their ever really being challenged by the media itself over these factually false claims.

None of this has to do with anger over "helping the terrorists." The articles in question so plainly do nothing of the sort. The anger that is unleashed by the media doing its job is the by-product of a belief that the Bush administration should be able to act in complete secrecy, with no checks or oversight of any kind. "

Others in the press and on TV have likewise wondered just what specifics did the NYTimes story provide that were secret? And the Talking Point Repeaters seldom curse The Wall Street Journal for their coverage - so one wonders if its just anger from the White House aimed at the NYTimes.

Vice President Cheney's comments addressing surveillance programs contained a very revealing comment:

What is doubly disturbing for me is, not only have they gone forward with these stories but they've been rewarded for it, for example in the case of the terrorists surveillance program by being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for outstanding journalism. i think that is a disgrace."

Wait a minute. Is this the NSA program that was at first denied to exist, then denied by phone companies and then argued by Administration officials before courts that lawsuits seeking information about it should be dropped due to the need for secrecy?

Too often in the news business, government officials at every level will respond to certain questions that dig deep with this kind of "trust us" or "without secrecy others can harm us" defense.

Given the emormous and historic level of power now gathered in the office of the president, an outspoken and assertive press is the public's last line of authority which can question and examine the policies and programs and what they mean.

That is not treason - it is a function of a free press.

Al Gore A Streetwise Pimp??

Would anyone have expected Al Gore to present himself as a comedy foil to the robot Bender from "Futurama"? He does just that in this ad to promote his movie "An Inconvenient Truth."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Had Me Laughing All Day

What had me laughing all day?

Was it Rush Limbaugh having to explain to Customs Agents why he had a bottle of Viagra with someone else's name on it as he returned from the Dominican Republic? Was it that the DR is known as a "sex tourism" favorite?

Was it the fact that Tom Cruise couldn't sell his photos of his wee new child for the price he wanted?

Maybe the kinky mix of lingerie and gun holsters? (via Boing Boing)

No, it was this picture, which Brittney posted at NiT. Just what the hell is that logo supposed to represent? Take your time and look, I'll wait.

Now also funny was the ad copy to go with the logo --

First a massive invasion, not at ground level but at pole level, wall level, everywhere: a curious, subtle but definitely amorous message.

Oh, yeah,that had me laughing all day.

Immigration Challenges

Once again a comment left on the previous post has stirred a few thoughts which I think are very pertinent to the concerns about legal and illegal immigration. The comment simply put was "do local bosses profit from illegal immigration?"

I'd say yes, definitely. For example. there are many locations thru Hamblen County, and around the country, where landlords charge the highest amounts possible to legal and illegal immigrants - $100 or $200 per person, and anywhere from 6 to 10 people in a two-bedroom apartment.

For years, many East Tennessee farming operations used what was called "migrant/seasonal" work. But I've not heard that term used much anymore.

Some years back, when the current Koch Foods was Burnett Produce, the facility was raided several times and illegals rounded-up, and perhaps one or two Supervisors were arrested on charges related to providing fake documents to the workers. More recently, Koch employees successfully created their own union at the plant. That has prompted some to predict the company will close it's operations there in the near future.

Under President Bush, the only label that applies to efforts at finding and punishing those who profit from illegal immigration is the label of Failure.

Over the course of five-and-a-half years, the administration has quietly (and, I believe, intentionally) failed to enforce our existing immigration laws. An employer who willfully hired illegals was 19 times more likely to be sanctioned under Bill Clinton than George Bush. Illegal border crossings have increased under Bush, and the value of illegal drug trade across our southern border has risen to a whopping $65 billion dollars in 2005, dwarfing that of oil, Mexico’s largest legitimate industry of $28 billion, and more than tripling the $20 billion Mexicans working in the U.S. sent to their families in Mexico last year."

Read more of this assessment at the National Review Online.

The political profits are being sought as well by candidates for the open Tennessee Senate seat. Former congressman Ed Bryant is front and center on this topic, stating that illegal immigration is the Number One issue on voter's minds.

On illegal immigration, Bryant said he worries that President George W. Bush's plan to put National Guard troops at the Mexico border will not be sufficient. Bryant pledged to try to amend a law that prevents the use of active military people to enforce civilian law."

via Blogging for Bryant.

Since we are hardly a border state, wouldn't local resources be best used to discover and hold accountable those employers and agencies that hire illegals?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Protest Draws Law Enforcement to Hamblen Co.

After checking with a few sources about a local protest against illegal immigrants in Hamblen County, a few details are quite disturbing -

- Armed officers on the Courthouse Roof (reported in the local newspaper print editions)

- Nearly 100 law enforcement officers on site (who pays for that?)

- Videotaping all those in attendance

- Tasering a disabled vet who wanted to bring a flagpole with the American flag onto the site

- A helicopter buzzing the crowd

Like others, I don't think much of the anti-immigration stand, but they did have a permit and this IS still a free nation (isn't it?).

Video footage here and R. Neal has more details here (via KnoxViews)

UPDATE: To clarify the point about armed officers on the roof of the courthouse, it was reported in the Sunday, June 25th edition of the Citizen Tribune, in an article titled "Opponents of Illegal Immigration Rally in Hamblen":

"Everyone was searched, and a THP videographer and still photographer documented the event. Two men equipped with high-powered binoculars - and presumably, hihg-powered rifles - were stationed on top of the courthouse annex."

I don't think the word "sniper" quite fits the armed officers on the roof, and after re-reading the article, I cannot verify they were even there.

Fear Of Fat In Formative Years

I'm so old I can tell you that as an elementary and high school student, we used to walk across the street from school to a soft drink machine daily. It helped remove that nasty slick taste of weird milk from little plastic boxes. Oh and we had phys-ed class at least 3 times a week right thru our senior year. And even then there were kids who were overweight.

By the late 1980s, most schools had soft drinks for sale in the schools and some even had a little McDonald's franchise in the cafeteria. I guess phys-ed died out around the time Big Hair Rock Music came to prominence.

And every boy (and some girls) always had pocketknives but this was all pre-Columbine. Schools are now known as "gun free zones" - which doesn't stop a kid from bringing a gun to school - and police patrol the corridors. I guess I got out just in time.

Now in addition to gun fears we have Fat Fears.

So schools, like the ones in Greene County, are ditching soft drinks and will sell juice and water. I wonder if the "free" water fountains in schools of my youth are also a fading memory?

But along with the Fat Fear there are the Funding Fears:

When the proposed wellness policy came up for discussion, Armstrong said he had been receiving calls about how adoption of the new wellness policy might affect the income the four high schools receive from contracts with soft-drink manufacturers that have been granted exclusive rights to sell their products in the high schools.

He noted that during the school year that just ended, Chuckey-Doak High School alone received $30,068 as its share of proceeds from the sale of Coca-Cola products at C-DHS.

He also noted that C-DHS had received four athletic scoreboards paid for by Coca-Cola. The soft-drink maker, he said, also pays for maintenance of the scoreboards.

Armstrong said school principals were concerned that they might not derive as much income from the sale of juices, flavored-water beverages, and healthful snacks as they had from sales of soft-drinks, candy and other less-healthful snacks from machines.

More can be read in the article here.

And apparently the No Child Left Behind laws require eliminating soft drinks and snack machines. Maybe the kids will have to go back to running to nearby stores and back to get their exercise.

I'm just glad I left the school years behind and I have no kids who have so many fears and fat to contend with. And I don't have to attend Special Committees who meet and empower each other and get to use fantastical words like "wellness." I still have no idea what the heck a "wellness" is, unless it means to have the qualities of a well.

I wonder if the kids in the next generation will have to meet a Fat Quotient to go along with their Grade Points.

The picture below arrives via a web page dedicated to Tales Of Obese Kids Around the World.

Ann Coulter Republicans Part 2

UPDATE: Big thanks to juliepatchouli for providing an eye-opening link to what the legendary internets leader, Betty Bowers, has to say about Coulter's ruthless hatred for the families of the murdered Americans. See Julie's post.

Thanks to an anonymous commenter yesterday I have found a nifty little spot on the internets where neo-cons and Coulter fans gather and talk about how she makes them hot and drooly -- yes, drooly.

"Ann Coulter is smart and good looking, I don't know if she can cook or not, but if she can, as Homer Simpson says, uuhhuuhuuhuuhuuhuuhhh, (droll drool drool)"

I love that one - she is a woman, so her best attributes are being smart, good looking and making food for the Man in her life. Haw! I'm sure she dreams of such a paradise. Maybe her fans desire a posable Action Figure. The li'l oasis for the Coulter fans and neo-cons is here - and by the way, I am glad you found my humble but loveable blog - all readers all welcome as are your comments, though you may be held responsible for what you say.

The ire raised at yesterday's little experiment revealed some of these neo-cons have no grasp of irony or humor, though they have learned to insult like a pro (like Coulter, who is professional insulter) And one of the folks at Tounge Tied made a hilarious observation based on ... well, I have no idea what they based their viewpoint on.

"Oh, that's just Joe Powell and his rantings. He's in a petulant and perpetual snit 'cause the Dems have been on the outside for so long...they're gonna show the evil reactionaries, come this November, damnit!"

I often encounter this perspective from hard core Party Faithful. The truth is I have never been and never will be a member of a political party. It is far more sensible to examine politicos and candidates on their own merits, as both Parties, in my opinion, suffer from too much self-annointed power madness.

And a more-than-casual-reader will find praise given to politicians on both sides of the current system, and more than that, the reader will find a fierce support for independent appraisal and thinking and the rock-solid Truth that government and parties will never solve problems but the individual always will.

What you will not find on this blog is support for the Bush administration and its policies. Prior to 9-11 and after, the administration has charted a course challenging the Constitution at nearly every level, a large amount of cronyism and a willingness to permanently damage anyone who might offer dissent.

And there is the reality that the press and the public have bought into the Big Lie about war in the Mideast.

The reality is
- for 16 years, by air or by ground the U.S. and the U.K. military have been engaged in combat in Iraq. We tend to view it as three wars - the first in 1990 to "defend" Kuwait, the No-Fly Zone patrols which lasted from 1991 til 2003, and the current warfare which began in March of 2003.

The key players have remained the same - Rumsfeld and Cheney and their loyal staff, and of course the Bush family.

Last week PBS aired an episode of "Frontline" which pointed to this tremendous shift in presidential and vice presidential powers.

I know most people already are aware of the shift and change in national policy and they don't like it. Not only are polls revealing that disapproval, the public has an even lower opinion of Congress since they have failed in their jobs of checking and balancing the powers of government.

Also hilarously wrong were the Tounge Tied crew claiming my post yesterday was "vulgar". That's just a lie, but you will find plenty of swearing in the "anonymous" comments. The proposal is that she is a Bad Person, but her views are Gospel Truth. (Does that mean she has Truthiness?) This seems to be a popular mode of thought among neo-cons and the Bush Administration - the ends always justify the means.

Lies and distortion have served the neo-cons well. And truly, I'm happy they have found a common set of talking points and values - big government knows best and all who disagree are, as Coulter has claimed, the creators of "Slander" and "Treason" and are all "Godless". It is mindlessly simplistic to blame every Evil since Eden on the Democrat Party. Read enough Coulter and you'll discover Eve was a Democrat Party Chair and Satan was a Vietnam War Protestor.

Painting every Fear with one Face, Coulter and her supporters have followed in the footsteps of the "Two-Minute Hate" from Orwell's "1984" as she appears on TV wailing against the Evil of Them, the Others, who, though powerless, are constantly creating new Evils to Hate:

Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room. The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically. He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia or Eastasia, since when Oceania was at war with one of these Powers it was generally at peace with the other. But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were - in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Are You An Ann Coulter Republican?

It's time.

You are either for her or against her. Since Ann Coulter has found much money for painting the political world in her two-tone dialectics, then it's time to paint her and her supporters with the same brush.

The question, "Are you an Ann Coulter Republican?" should confront every Republican running for every office in the land, from President to dog catcher. Every Democratic candidate should accuse his or her opponent of being in favor of poisoning Supreme Court Justices and killing Congressmen. At every opportunity, every Republican should be made to answer: "Do you agree with Ann Coulter that the 9/11 widows are witches and harpies?" And George W. Bush, Tony Snow, Dick Cheney, Laura Bush and Barney (the only lapdog with a good excuse) should be confronted with these questions as well."

More of the article here.

No middle ground for those of you who devour her bile as Truth - either you are with her hateful, mindless group or you're opposed to her.


The End.