Saturday, July 07, 2007

Poll: Majority Favor Impeaching Bush and Cheney

Just as President Bush was marking his birthday this week, a new poll shows a majority of Americans surveyed favor the start of impeachment against him and his vice-president.

The New Hampshire-based American Research Group released the survey, which revealed these deeply troubling viewpoints for Bush and Cheney.

The breakdown:

Among registered voters - 46% favor the start of impeachment by Congress, 44% are opposed and 10% are undecided.

Cheney scored worse -- 50% favor the start of impeachment, 44% are opposed and 6% are undecided.

Also this week, one news anchor stepped forward and called for both Bush and Cheney to resign. (I know over the last few decades, the final two years of a two-term president brings much talk of impeachment and resignation. Maybe the love just dwindles to hostile familiarity over time.)

Happy Birthday, Mr President. (See also.)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Camera Obscura - Walking Out On A Movie

Brad Pitt trying to remake "Bullitt"? Worst. Idea. Ever. (link)

George Romero says his new "Diary of the Dead" is a whole new take on the zombie epic he has created. I love Romero soooooo much.


Let me ask you, have you ever paid for a movie and left it long before it was over?

I have admitted many times that I will watch almost any movie --- almost. I've even taken a movie which challenged my endurance or shocked me silly to movie parties, seeing how long it would take for the movie to 'clear the room.'

There was an article, which I found here at MetaFilter, about movies that prompted walkouts.

So, some of my own personal 'walkout' stories.

Once, while a student at MTSU during a summer session, I paid 50 cents for a ticket to see "The Sound of Music". I had never seen it and went to the student center to watch it. It was done out of overwhelming boredom and fear of the dorm roommate I had, who carried a gun and drank tequila by the bottle while smoking some weird mixture of pot and prescription sedatives. So I figured what the hey. The movie had to be better. I left after about 15 minutes. I found it excruciating. I ended up sitting in the dark, on a bench outside the dorm, wondering if I would ever get back into my room or if my roommate might shoot me if I came in before he was passed out. Suffice to say I left not only the movie, but MTSU.

When I was around 18, some friends and I paid money to see "Xanadu" with Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly, all rollerblading and disco dancing like mad to the music of Electric Light Orchestra. I get queasy just thinking of the movie and I really think we must have been drunk to even go into to watch this crap. We wanted to leave, but started having too much fun loudly deriding the movie. The theatre sold godawful soybean-ish cheeseburgers and, drunk and hungry, I went to buy one.

For some reason I cannot recall, a scene made me so irritated I actually threw the burger at the screen. It stuck and then slowly slid down Gene Kelly's rollerblading legs. I remain utterly embarrassed by my actions, as I have never been so disrespectful to a movie screen before or since that moment. But in my heart, I still think my impromptu review was accurate.

A few weeks later, a friend and I went to see "Raging Bull". I was mesmerized by it, but for some reason it utterly freaked out my friend. With about a half an hour or less to go, he jumped up and said "We're getting out of here now!!!! NOW!!" and he bolted out the door. I reluctantly followed and he refused to ever talk about what bothered him and I have no idea to this day what dug into my friend. I went back the next night and watched it again, alone.

A few years Later, I took my girlfriend at the time to see "Brazil" when it came out. Again, I was mesmerized and apparently the movie sent her straight to Hell. And again, with less than half and hour to go, she starts loudly weeping and runs out of the theatre. I sat there for a minute NOT wanting to leave this movie for a second, but since she was so freaked, I did leave. But on my way to find her, I realized I liked the movie more than I liked dating her. (I know, I'm evil.) She was sobbing in the lobby and she said the movie reminded her too much of some recurring nightmares she had. I did my best to calm her down for a minute or so, but eventually (again, to my embarrassment) told her to stay put and I went back in to watch the rest of the movie. That was pretty much the end of our relationship.

As a paid movie critic, I never, ever walked out of a movie. A bad review, like a praiseworthy one, can often write itself. But some sure made me squirm like mad. Case in point - "Steel Magnolias". I get hives just thinking about that movie. My nasty reviews of it brought endless hate mail. But I realized hate mail and stalkers were better than that movie. And no, I'm not linking to that movie.

At home, there have been a few really cheesy Grade Z horror or sci-fi knockoffs I have fast forwarded through, but usually if I start it I will finish it. One that failed to keep me to the end recently was called "Seven Swords" by Tsui Hark. I had read some great pre-release press about this epic kung-fu movie, backed by the Weinsteins, and was really looking forward to watching it. So a few weeks ago I got the DVD and reluctantly shut it down after the first hour. It was just so convoluted and boring, despite a big budget and some OK acting. Even the worst of the old Sir Run Run Shaw movies were better.

My favorite walkout story though arrived courtesy of Andy Warhol and his "Flesh For Frankenstein" in 3-D.

This 1973 X-rated (now R-rated) movie showed up in a Morristown theatre in the early 1980s, just after some huge business for the movie theatre from the "Friday The 13th" in 3-D and "Jaws 3-D" movies. I nearly wrecked my car when I saw on the movie marquee: Andy Warhol's Frankenstein in 3-D.

I told some friends we HAD to go watch the movie, if only to see the audience get totally freaked. So we go into the first show on a Friday and the house was packed to the rafters -- including lots of parents and kids. I was almost hysterical with laughter even before the movie started, just imagining what this movie would do to the audience.

Within the first ten minutes, the spooked crowd started leaving, most of them visibly shaken by the Weirdness on the screen. 20 minutes in and the crowd was cut to less than half it's size. The "oh my Gods!" from customers made me wonder if the manager would shut the movie down before it ended. About 40 minutes into the movie, the deranged doctor F. is caught by his assistant, Otto, having sex with a female corpse. The room went deadly silent, and the doc yells at Otto the immortal line: "To know life, Otto, you must f**k death in the gall bladder!"

Boom!! A sonic blast occurred as the crowd fled at high speed, leaving only myself and my two friends behind as we laughed until we cried. We stayed and watched the whole movie, laughing the movie and the terrified crowd. The movie got yanked the next day. Oh, yes, that was much fun.

If you have a movie walkout story to share --- have at it!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Neo-Con Alternative

The conservative alternative to YouTube is ... wait for it ... YouTube!

Much more unveiling of the ugliness and lies of FOX News via (And another tidbit of FOX goofiness via NiT.)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Freedom Day!

I'm glad to see that this Independence Day finds writers like Jack Neely and Elrod agreeing with me and other bloggers, like Brittney and ACK.

A poem lionizing the soldier above all other Americans is also disparaging of all others, as Neely says in his MetroPulse article.

No one "gave" us the Freedoms of American life -- we were all born with them. Yeah, sometimes any of us face situations wherein we can either defend and fight for the continuation of such Freedoms, or bail on our responsibility to ourselves and our country.

Elrod's post on Neely's article is nicely written:

Yes, soldiers dedicate their lives to their nation and for that we should be grateful. But believe it or not, there is a difference between "America" and "freedom." As Neely rightly points out, none of our wars since 1812 have involved foreign adversaries with the capability to destroy our freedoms. Nearly all of our freedoms have been lost because of governmental paranoia in response to these various threats from abroad or from within. For example, it wasn't Osama Bin Laden who suspended habeas corpus rights. It was the US Congress and President Bush who passed a law to do so."

I hope you take time to read these opinions above and consider what they mean.

(NOTE: Both ACK and Brittney got some serious heat after posing doubts about the poem in question a month or so ago -- more info here.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Kentucky Teens Charged With Stealing Monkeys

I had heard some snippets of this story both on television and online and finally got the skinny on the crime via the Daily Times in Maryville, where this picture was published.

Two wee, tiny female marmosets were stolen from a Sevierville pet store and Maryville police captured the suspects and found the wee, tiny marmosets in the suspects' vehicle. The tiny critters are now back at the pet store. And apparently the suspects were attempting to break into another pet store when apprehended.


Why did these teens from Kentucky steal wee, tiny marmosets?

Is there an underground stolen marmoset market in Kentucky? Perhaps they were to be put to slave labor making meth in some nightmare marmoset and meth manufacturing scenario? Were the teens gacked outta their brains on meth and thought the monkeys were some kind of new, fuzzy money?

Was it some crime of passion -- "Honey-bunny, you see them little monkey things? I'm gonna get em fer ya, even if I have to turn to a life of crime just so's I can prove my looooove fer ya"??

Maybe some crazy bet between the two teens - "i bet i kin steal more monkeys 'n you can!"

An idea born of some bizarre interior decorating scheme -- "You know what this duplex needs? Yep, marmosets."

Your theories are welcome.

I for one hope the critters crapped all over the car and peed in the ashtray.

Libby, The Law and The Bush Decision

Is there a fixed and certain standard within the Bush administration regarding the rule of law or is it a hodge-podge pattern of using the law to accomplish some nefarious mission?

Supporters and Critics alike have their own answers, yet so will the public and so far the overwhelming response to the President's decision to derail Scooter Libby's jail sentence is yet more reason to provide lower and lower approval for the 2-term president. I have to think that since the commutation order came within 5 hours of an appeals court ruling which said Libby must begin the jail term while the appeal process continued, then the decision and accompanying press release was made weeks if not months ago.

I do have great trouble in reconciling the Bush edicts that allow for people to be held in secret and non-secret jails without being charged or tried, and the notion that 2 and a half years in jail for obstructing justice and perjury in a national security case is "excessive."

"Excessive" is also the minimum sentence for such cases, and minimum sentencing has been constantly championed by Bush. Going from "excessive" jail time to none?

Clemency, pardons and commutations have never been a part of the Bush technique:

Bush has granted fewer pardons -- 113 -- than any president in the past 100 years, while denying more than 1,000 requests, said Margaret Colgate Love, the Justice Department's pardon attorney from 1990 to 1997.

In addition, Bush has denied more than 4,000 commutation requests, and hundreds of requests for pardons and commutations are still pending, Love said."

There is also the infamous case of Karla Faye Tucker, whose request for a life sentence instead of the death penalty fell on deaf ears -- and included this response from Bush during an interview with Tucker Carlson in 1999:

In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, a number of protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Karla Faye Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them", he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with Tucker, though. He asked her real difficult questions like, 'What would you say to Governor Bush?'" "What was her answer?" I wonder. "'Please,'" Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "'don't kill me.'" I must look shocked — ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel — because he immediately stops smirking."

Your complaints (or your praise) for this action can be sent to your congressional reps, but they have left town for vacation. The media will move on to report about 4th of July cookouts, toy robot movies, the war, the random attack, on to a commercial and back with more on the wrestler who had some steroid rage and a new Harry Potter movie!!!

History (or those who write it, I should say) may find some favor for Bush - no matter the reaction or response to his decisions, he never looked back (or ahead) with a different mind.

Some say the case against Libby should never have reached the courts -- however, what is certain is that the criminal investigation of a national security breach was stopped dead just outside the doors of the Oval Office by Libby's interference.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Summer Scenes 2007

My fine friend Chef Bill up in Chicago earned the award last weekend for Best Use of a Cell Phone. He called me up as he was enjoying the sunshine and summer at Wrigley Field watching his beloved Cubs battle the Brewers. The score, while important to the overall game, is not that important while actually watching the game live. I switched my TV over to WGN to watch as we talked and just about then the crowd began their traditional Take Me Out To The Ballgame singalong and Chef Bill just said "listen" and held the phone aloft while the crowd sang a summer classic.

Chef Bill also just finished his first year in an honest-to-Pete chef school last week, so big congrats for his achievement.

Wrigley Field is just one place I want to visit when I actually make the time and effort for a trip to Chicago. It is a holy place in baseball, built on grounds which were once home to a seminary, and having a hot dog and some beer while watching the Cubs on a summer's day sounds like perfection to me.

Speaking of food and chefs and summer, I must confess here that I have become over the last few summers rather addicted to a "reality show" called Hell's Kitchen which airs on Monday nights. Wannabe chefs compete for actual jobs in five-star restaurants and they compete not with oddball tasks and contests, but by performance in the kitchen. You just can't fake your way through the game, you either perform at your best or you're gone.

Chef Ramsey holds all the power in the contest and curses and swears at the wannabe chefs with a savage intensity and a pinpoint accuracy. Being an excellent cook working despite the failures of teammates and grueling pressure from Chef Ramsey is no task for the timid or the unprepared. So it isn't really a game - it's a real-world scenario in which you must compete at the job you want to have.

An angry Scotsman in the kitchen is always entertaining.

Also this week for the 4th of July, the 91st Annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest will be held at Coney Island and it looks to be one of the best matches ever. American Joey Chestnut will try again to defeat the astonishing Takeru Kobayashi who has won the contest for the last six years in a row, snarfing down nearly 54 hot dogs last year.

The record, until Kobayashi arrived, held steady at around 20 to 25 hot dogs and buns. He blew that away in 2000 by wolfing down 50 hot dogs and buns. In June of this year at a preliminary competition, Chestnut gobbled down 59 hot dogs and buns, so the mark for this week's big event may well top 60 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes.

Legend -- I mean WikiPedia - says:

According to legend, on July 4, 1916 four immigrants had a hot dog eating contest at Nathan's Famous stand in Coney Island to settle an argument about who was the most patriotic. After twelve minutes, James Mullen had eaten thirteen hot dogs and was crowned the victor."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The POOF (Privately Owned Orbital Facility) Is Out There

Bigelow Areospace, based in Nevada, has been quietly working on new ways to haul components into orbit and create a space station. The tech centers on using inflatable and flexible modules and manned projects are planned for the near future

Genesis 2 launched on June 28th, and is the process of expanding it's dimensions and establishing camera connections.

Details of the current project and future plans are all available here.