Saturday, July 29, 2006

All Questions Answered For Move Quiz

If you struggled to find the answers to yesterday's quiz on identifying movies, take heart.

Here are the answers (and apolgies to AT for invading his comments yesterday!):

1. Cube
2. Citizen Kane
3. Casablanca
6. Groundhog Day
7. Blood Rayne
8. The Street Fighter
9. Dogma
10. Raiders of the Lost Ark
11. To Kill a Mockingbird
12. Life of Brian
13. Platoon
14. dog day afternoon
15. Taxi (french movie remade in US with Jimmy Fallon
and this one truly had me stumped too!!)
16. Heat
17. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
18. The Insider
19. Total Recall
20. Tom Yum Goong (totally stumped me)
21 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (haven’t seen it but its in my
NetFlix list and also one that stumped me!)
22. Wag the Dog
23. Bulletproof Monk
24 No Man’s Land (never heard of it)
25 Kopps (yeah, never heard of it)
26 Y Tu Mama Tambien
27. Phone Booth
28. Scary Movie 2

You Are Invited

Multi-tasking today as your Cup of Joe is offering a massive re-direct for the weekend. That means you are invited to travel to Nashville Is Talking where I am once again honored to be the guest blogger for the weekend.

If you have ideas or thoughts you think are worth a post, please leave a comment here. Or there.

If you think I'm a weenie for light blogging on this page, leave a comment here or come over to NiT and insult me there.

Big thanks to WKRN and Brittney for the chance to spread my opinions around the state!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Camera Obscura - Monkey Woman Speaks

In my humble opinion, it has taken far too long for the television world to embrace and present the man who has inspired the imaginations of generations of Americans and others around the globe - the one and only Stan Lee, creator of Marvel Comics and the superheroes we all know by name.

(Shameless plug first - be sure and check out Nashville is Talking this weekend as I guest host and talk about some nifty Nashville-related movie news, history and much more. Shameless plug over and back to the post at hand!)

I confess the prospect of a 'reality-series competition show' hosted by Lee sounded so cheesy you could slice it or pour it over tortilla chips. Watching the premiere last night of Who Wants To Be A Superhero was immensely entertaining, not only for the goofy alter-egos of the players, but Stan looms like an Eternal over the proceedings. The quote of the week for me was Stan saying "Thank you, Monkey Woman."

Yes, Monkey Woman - just one of the potential superheroes vying for a chance to have their own movie on the Sci-Fi Channel and a comic book to boot. My favorite of the bunch (heh, a banana joke!) however was Major Victory, who runs and leaps like an honest-to-pete super-guy, whipping his head left and right to survey the potential dangers and hazards of the world around him.

But Monkey Woman shimmied up a tree to change into her costume. So there's that. Plus she has her own web site and her backstory is loopy fun - born to Christian missionaries in the jungle and trained to sing opera - it's just weird enough to keep me laughing.

... she thought about the monkeys and the survival skills they taught her. In her darkest hour, against all odds, she had come through. She knew she had the strength to do anything. She vowed then and there to find out the truth, and to take revenge on the psycho who robbed her of her parents. Maria threw back her head and let out an angry shriek that would forever mark her campaign against evil - the call of the monkeys."

Monkey Woman and Lemuria are interviewed here. The TV show airs Thursday nights and as long as Stan intones somber warnings and hearty "Excelsiors!' to Monkey Woman and the others, I'll keep watching.

One more Monkey Woman quote:

"The bananas are all weapons and tools, disguised to look like ordinary bananas. Along the lines of Batman, where he's got the grappling hook, the grenades and stuff like that. Each banana serves a different function."

Meanwhile across town ....

One savvy movie watcher has discovered the nefarious symbolism of oranges in The Godfather saga. A sampling of these fruity omens:

Right before he was shot, Don Corleone bought 2 oranges!"

When sitting with his father after he returns home from the hospital, Fredo sits next to a fruit basket of oranges. He later betrays the Family and his prayers cannot help him!"

Elsewhere ....

-- Zombies get arrested this week in downtown Minneapolis!

-- Al Gore says we're all going to die soon! (via You Had Me At Idiot)

And finally

Think you know movies? Can you identify a movie just by looking at a picture from the flick? Test your skills and knowledge at this page for the 3rd Movie Quiz. You have 28 movies to identify - some are insanely easy, some are really tough. And yes, I could tell you all the answers, but not until you give it a go.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Whedon on Courage and Equality

I have been on the Joss Whedon bandwagon for years - he simply writes with much humor and insight and his work has inspired many. The following video was featured on Cows and Graveyards and I am happy to offer it here. (yes, I am a diehard Buffy fanatic which I've written in this blog many times.)

Whedon shows in a few moments of a speech why his work is so strong - it's worth watching every moment of this, as he steers you through his thoughts and reflections and his experiences.

FEMA's Brownie: 'Just Bite Me!'

Former FEMA Chief Michael Brown exposes it all in Playboy. All his rage, that is. Some snippets from the Playboy Interview were featured in a column from today's Washington Post:

· On Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), accusing him in a hearing of not comprehending the devastation: "For that little twerp to claim I didn't understand death and suffering -- he can just bite me, for all I care."

· On President Bush saying the levee breaches were unexpected: "He doesn't have an incredible command of the English language."

· On DHS boss Michael Chertoff ordering him out of the field: "I am so mad at myself for not saying 'screw you.' "

· On Bush calling him "Brownie": "It's typical of the president. He's a cheerleader . . . How many people in the world do you think have ever called me Brownie? . . . When he used that nickname, a lot of people in the media went, Is he an insider?"

· On his much-mocked prior job with the International Arabian Horse Association: "Dealing with horses' asses taught me how to deal with the federal government."

You, go, Brownie.

How dare people debate the performance you gave during a national disaster where hundreds of poor people died!!

You had a fax machine and you looked good in your spiffy clothes! Nothing else matters.

Wacky Diplomat Funtime Show

I suppose it's a healthy response to the deadly wars and political upheaval for diplomats to gather and hold wacky talent shows. You know, some down time away from staring into the abyss.

The Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Forum has "become well known for the party which comes near the end of a packed week of talks".

Wars rattle on and on and spread from nation to nation as if it were kudzu. Diplomacy from all quarters is distinguished by ineffective ideas. So what's a diplomatic delegation to do? Play dress up and mock themselves, of course.

Poor Condi Rice, reeling from Middle East battles, the spread of nuclear weapons and technology, and an impossible-to-top performance of Colin Powell dressed as a cowboy and serenading a Japanese Foreign Minister. So she's opting for a somber tone, planning on tickling the ivories with a Brahms recital.

One must wonder if a somber mood at the mocking talent show is another klunky response to expectations of performance.

In the past parties of diplomats-gone-wild, participants offered such skits as:

Previous numbers have included a Russian minister dressed as Star Wars baddie Darth Vader and an Australian attempt to demonstrate beach cricket while singing Beach Boys song Kokomo.

But it is the US that has excelled in the past, and in particular, former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

At the 2001 meeting in Hanoi, he dressed as a cowboy to sing a country and western song about doomed love to then Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, in traditional Vietnamese dress, who ended the song with a kiss for her US counterpart.

The following year, he played a pre-recorded video compilation which showed people including President Bush and his wife begging him not to sing again.

But his star turn came in 2004, when he donned a hard hat and carried a hammer to perform the Village People classic YMCA. He was backed by five US officials in the colourful outfits - including policeman and biker - made famous by the original band."

Rumor has it that "fiddling as Rome burns" is a time-honored tradition.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Prayer Warriors and Patriot Pastors

Sub-groups within political factions are really nothing new - Left-Handers For Liberty, Pet Owners Practicing Political Change, whatever you can imagine, it's already out there.

For some time now in Ohio, for instance, there has been a huge push to create Patriot Pastors by the thousands who will register voters and who use military terminology to whip up the faithful into a political frenzy.

'Sound an alarm!' he boomed. 'A Holy Ghost invasion is taking place. Man your battle stations, ready your weapons, lock and load!' In the course of the performance, Parsley promised that during the next four years his campaign, Reformation Ohio, would bring a hundred thousand Ohioans to Christ, register four hundred thousand new voters, serve the disadvantaged, and guide the state through “a culture-shaking revolutionary revival.'"

More on the players in this political framework, which is facing IRS investigation, is here from the New Yorker.

Yesterday at Nashville is Talking, discussion was fierce over the creation of "Prayer Warriors" who are mustering legions (well, more like dozens, for Jim Bryson's bid for Governor.

Some within the very Southern Baptist faith express grave concern at the co-mingling of politics and religion. Bob Shurden, Director of the Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University, spoke on the topic of religion and politics in Atlanta in June. He tells the Associated Baptist Press:

I am suggesting that some Christian churches in our country have become political temples and that some clergy have embraced willingly the title of 'patriot pastors.' I am suggesting that theocrats have an eye on the machinery of the national and state governments, and they make no apology for it.

As for me - I doubt I'm the only one to notice the catastrophic effects the combination of Belief and Politics has had on parts of the world, say in the Middle East?

Garcia Labor Faces Federal Indictment

A federal 40-count indictment was presented Tuesday for the Morristown, TN and Ohio based Garcia Labor Company, accused of employing 1,000 illegal immigrants for contract work between Dec. 1999 and November 2005.

Also named in the indictment were the company's president Maximino Garcia, his sister Dominga Carroll and H.R. director Gina Luciano, who have all pled not guilty.

According to a report in the Knoxville News Sentinel:

"All are charged with one count of conspiracy to induce illegal aliens to live in the United States, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Garcia faces another 16 counts of inducing illegal aliens to live in the country, and 19 counts of harboring illegal aliens.

Luciano is charged with 14 counts of inducing illegal aliens to live in the country, three counts of transporting illegal aliens, and three counts of harboring illegal aliens.

Each of the immigration charges carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The money laundering charges carry a maximum 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Prosecutors also want Garcia to forfeit $12 million - what the company earned from one year of its contracts with ABX - and property where the workers were housed in Wilmington, 42 miles east of Cincinnati."

The timing on this was most interesting, as I have had some conversations with a Texas-based newspaper reporter about immigration and illegal immigration and the impact it's had on East Tennessee. It's a truly thorny issue as the majority of manufacturing firms here in Morristown are foreign owned, which means the atmosphere in business circles is very friendly to foreign investments and recruting while local residents shutdowns of textile industrial companies which left the US and put thousands out of work.

One constant question has been why firms that recruit and hire illegals aren't prosecuted. In this case, they are - and at the federal level. Are more companies under scrutiny?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Incumbents Breathe Sigh of Relief

While talk often drubs Incumbents, trends in voting show that it's more likely for Incumbents to keep being, well, Incumbent.

From the Washington Monthly blog, statistics show that Incumbents are far more likely now than ever to keep being re-elected, up from a 90 percent chance to a 98 percent chance.


One reason presented is "self-segregation":

That is, liberals tend to move to liberal places and conservatives tend to move to conservative places. This has an obvious self-gerrymandering effect, but also has the less obvious effect of making people more partisan. When you spend time only with people you agree with, your views tend to become more extreme. This is good for incumbents since extreme voters are less likely to defect to the opposition."

I would also add my own reason, which is that voter apathy has been growing due to belief that the voter has less might than ever, that big money contributors have increased their controls and the individual has even less. And it seems that more than ever, politics is a lifetime career and a family legacy as well. Other reasons are put forth in the full post here.

A related post today from VOLuntarily Conservative citing numbers from early voting says voter turnout this year may be one of the lowest ever in a primary. But in addition to a primary, that would also mean voting for local government candidates is also very low.

The lack of participation and the tendency to return Incumbents to office sends a clear message - everything is fine, no reason to change the policies of failure, no reason to restrict the impact of big dollar contributors. Does this also indicate the chatter of bloggers and pundits add to the disinterest?

Monday, July 24, 2006

University Aims To Censor Public Meetings

Efforts to limit public information about government business remains a constant and sadly few local residents even know - a sure sign the plan to restrict access works. Walters State Community College has decided to not only abandon civic duty, their plan to limit airtime for Hamblen County Government meetings also reduces efforts to educate the population on policies and procedures.

The broadcasts of these meetings has zero importance to City Government as well, who have successfully avoided airing their own meetings despite designating a local cable channel for Government and Education in the mid-1990s. They won't expend one penny for responsible government, not one penny for public education on governmental workings, and they insure more roadblocks to an educated community.

Oddly, the city did approve of a nearly $20 million expenditure in a public bond to finance the local electric utility's venture into the cable and internet business.

As for Walters State, they totally control the channel and offer endless self promotion clips and short educational videos from decades long, long past.

The problem is that WSCC will only allow for two hours of air time for a meeting, for a total of four per week. Meanwhile local cable providers consistently offer their services to residents. Comcast Cable will continue to present the meetings uncensored and in their entirety. While Charter Communications worked with county government to provide equipment to record the meetings, the city quietly handed off their control of the channel to WSCC - and WSCC just snips the broadcast off after two hours, whether the meeting is over or not.

If the university only wants to allow for four hours per week for civic broadcasts, then why not place the meetings on a single day, capturing all that happens?

County Commissioner Linda Noe has more info on her blog about the county likewise approving a plan to cut the broadcasts to fit in the time allotted, though they did mention an effort to convince the university to fulfill their obligation to education by not censoring broadcasts.

This unified effort by city officials, who have steadfastly refused to televise their meetings, and by WSCC, has a single result - a poorly educated and informed public. Keeping citizens in the dark, keeping the community's business hidden appears to be the goal.

Their is an opportunity to not only provide civic education, but also provide training for high school or college students who yearn for careers in television broadcasting. Some straightforward communication between the city, the university and the county, as well as the county's education system could benefit everyone.

Limiting access to public information appears to be the pattern officials endorse.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Tesla Roadster Unveiled

The electric car is a reality from Tesla Motors as they unveiled their new sportscar, all electric, this weekend in Santa Monica. The company showed off their new car to press and even Gov. Schwarzenegger took a spin.

Since the auto company take's the Tesla name, it's worth noting the vast achievements of the scientist and inventor, like the creation of created alternating current, making it possible for electricity to travel immense distances and many other enginreering feats like radio transmission. A hefty collection of his work is here.

Tesla Motors homepage has loads of information. Based in the US and in the UK, with affiliations to Lotus, the car should be available for purchase in early 2007. It has a range of 250 miles on a charge and can reach 60 mph in 4 seconds with a top speed of 130. And check out the video for the new car.