Saturday, March 22, 2008

Best Wishes for An Atomic Wedding

Today is a happy day for Atomic Tumor and his Ladyfriend as they are getting hitched.

I echo the thoughts of many when I wish them a most happy day and many, many more happy days to come.

So three cheers and a w00t!! to them.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Camera Obscura: Buffy Reunion; Futurama News; The Hell of High School

Buffy creator Joss Whedon and cast-members of the show were at the Paley Center yesterday for a discussion of the show, an event which had Sarah Michelle Gellar on-stage and talking about the show for the first time. One newish project mentioned is the online musical Whedon is making with Neil Patrick Harris, called "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog". It's a series of 10-minute webisodes about a low-rent villian (Harris) and a superhero (Nathan Fillion, of "Firefly") who keeps beating him up.

The blogger at Futon Critic was at the event and has a good account of what was said which you can read right here. Cast members talked about some of the best episodes, like "Hush" and "The Body", and no, there is no reunion movie project ahead. Plenty of pictures here.


Good news, everyone!

The first of four Futurama movies, "Bender's Big Score" airs Monday on Comedy Central. The 2nd movie, "The Beast With A Billion Backs", arrives on DVD in June. Plenty of details from creator David Cohen here.

And remember - Everyone Loves Hypnotoad!


Benecio del Toro goes Lobo as a Monster-Wearing-Pants in the big budget re-telling of "The Wolfman" Yes there are even more pictures here at the MovieMorlocks blog.

Rick Baker (who else?) is the man creating the makeup for the movie.

So, a question for you -- has there ever, EVER, been a good werewolf movie? I always found some humor and enjoyment in "I Was A Teenage Werewolf", and then there was the Watergate-inspired "The Werewolf of Washington" which made me laugh too.

Comedy was the king in "An American Werewolf in London", too, but that doesn't mean it was a good movie. So, the question - is there such a thing as a good werewolf movie? I say no.


I've recently seen a couple of nightmarish movies about the Hell that is High School and found that both of them are quite good and worth viewing. First up was the long-delayed feature "The Woods" from director Lucky McKee. Lucky scored big with his first feature "May", and though his second feature lay quietly on the shelf for some years, "The Woods" is now available on cable and on DVD.

It's set in 1965 at an all-girls boarding school and McKee relies solely on atmosphere and creepy characters to propel the story along. it has some similarities to "Suspiria" but here we have the added attraction of Bruce Campbell as the poor Dad who reluctantly allows his little girl to leave home and attend a school where the faculty is ... well, no surprises to hide, they are witches.

What makes the movie work is McKee's solid and steady direction. Yes, the story is familiar, but he presents it with great atmosphere and suspense, does not rely on gore or torture porn, and instead makes an excellent old-fashioned horror film. I think most viewers will like it - some who crave more onscreen deviance may not.

Speaking of Bad Things At Boarding Schools, "Evil" is a very disturbing morality tale from Swedish/Danish filmmakers, with the original language title of "Ondskan". The movie was nominated for an Oscar award as Best Foreign language film and is set in post-World War 2 Europe. The movie appears to be simple and straight-forward, but there are layers and layers here, many of which raise far more questions than the movie can answer - but that's the point.

A young man named Erik lives in a household where his step-dad beats him for no reason, and as Erik acts out in violent attacks at school, he is expelled. "You are Evil", says the school principal.

His parents shuffle him off to a boarding school where class systems provide an institutional brutality, and since Erik has vowed to leave his violent ways behind, the challenge from the social/psychological cruelties from upper classmen gets very intense very fast. The movie could have easily been a Z-grade revenge flick, but that is not where this movie is headed.

While Erik tries to remain tough and unresponsive to attack, innocent friends are drawn into the attacks. Should he go on the attack to protect them? Do they want such a defense? No matter how Erik tries to respond (or not respond), the situation becomes worse for those around him. Some major concepts in morality and justice and more are offered here, with no simple solutions. This is a truly complex tale for our very complex times.

I couldn't help but be reminded of another hell-in-high-school movie called "If ...", where violent overthrow of the status quo is presented as a justified response to insane structures. In "Evil," there is a more subtle tale being told.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trouble Sleeping On Easter Weekend?

Then perhaps this illustrates why it matters ....


'Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie' Debuts

Other film festivals may have the fame, but the annual SXSW festival has the cool.

One entry from this year's fest is "Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie", about some folks from Ohio searching for Bigfoot and for the promises of the American Dream. The official site for the movie is here, complete with background and high praise from movie blogs.

The documnetary follows Dallas and Wayne, two men who grapple with Life's big questions and the quest for Bigfoot too. One AICN reviewer says:

Wayne, a big, hulking guy, breaks down emotionally more than once, unable to control his facial expressions. This guy, God love him, bears his soul in an unforgettable way. There’s one phone call with Wayne that was truly gut-wrenching. There’s more real drama in this doc than I can tell without spoiling it. I do hope you take the time to seek out this amazing little real-life nugget. You will never forget Dallas and Wayne’s world."

The Real, The Distorted and the Virus of American Ideals

The fuming, frantic reactions to the speech made by Democrat Barack Obama has had heads wagging and tongues twisted, which makes me think Obama's comments were quite accurate. Racial divisions hold on in America with a ferocious grip.

It was a wide-ranging speech about perceptions and divisions, about media, and about distorted reality, and about the desire he has to move forward on these ideas and not surrender to them. And yes, it has taken some time for me to read his words and ponder on them. No insta-reactions are justified here on this page.

What is certain is that the media will wallow in the speech and ignore another speech which has equal if not greater relevance - the one made yesterday by the President defending his war in Iraq. It isn't just five years since we began the current war, it's almost five years since he made his dramatic "Mission Accomplished" speech about Iraq too. It isn't and wasn't accomplished, but supporters and enablers are far too shy to call him out. It has also been five years of war in Afghanistan, too, with no clear sign of accomplishment there either. This week his view is "no end in sight".

I have seen and read some notable coverage on the ongoing war, but the television is focused on the speech from Obama. For many folks, his speech is rock-solid proof Obama is a Bad Man, for others proof he is a Good Man. As with so much in politics and in war, we each create what we believe and nurture it, no matter the true reality.

Here's a prediction - no matter how intense the presidential race has been, no matter how intense the summer's nominating conventions will be, the late summer and fall will be an ugly, brutal mess which will be an historic and a shock-filled time for most of us.

I watched the new mini-series on HBO this week about John Adams and the early days of the American Revolution and decision to declare independence. In Adams' time, the issue of slavery and it's moral costs were very much a part of the debate about what kind of nation we would be.

Most interesting to me though, was the inter-cutting of scenes about the wrangling for votes for a declaration of independence and scenes of Adams' wife and children being inoculated against smallpox as their doctor took live pox tissues from one patient and cut into their healthy bodies to insert the diseased samples. Not all could survive this self-induced transmission - a controlled infection. I could not help but see the comparisons of the political efforts and the transmission of the virus. The decisions made in that Continental Congress, like that of Abigail Adams, would mean some would be risking death, but that the promise of a better life for many more would thrive.

It's a metaphor that is most instructive in our times, too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Test Your Rock and Roll Lyrics Skills

50 very well known rock tune lyrics are presented - but can you guess which songs they are if the words are listed alphabetically, with no words are repeated no matter how many times they are used in the song? Its a good challenge and will only take a few minutes - maybe much more.

I barely scored a half-decent 31 out of 50, so maybe you can score higher. I blame a low coffee level. Here's the link to the "And Great Lyrics Quiz Rock Roll The By" and a few samples of what you'll find there:

First, an easy one for true rock fans -

a and baby be become can come couldn’t fire funeral get girl hesitate higher i if in is it know liar light lose love mire much my night no now on only our pyre say set that the through time to try untrue wallow was we would yeah you"

Something less easy (or is it??):

a and answer are bring brother brutality but can ’cause conquer crying don’t dying escalate everybody far father find for going got hair hate here i’ll is judge know lines long love loving many me mother need not of on only our picket punish see signs simply so some talk tell the there’s they thinks to today too us war way we we’re we’ve what’s who with wrong you"

Get down with your bad self and see if you can score 50 out of 50.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Liveblogging Guns at the Supreme Court

Most Americans already consider owning a gun as a guaranteed constitutional right. Is it?

That's the center of the debate in the DC v. Heller case begin argued today in the Supreme Court. The best source for info comes from SCOTUSblog, which live-blogged the case and they've also got a host of articles, opinions and history on the 2nd Amendment and gun laws. A sample from an analysis today:

The Supreme Court’s historic argument Tuesday on the meaning of the Constitution’s Second Amendment sent out one quite clear signal: individuals may well wind up with a genuine right to have a gun for self-defense in their home. But what was not similarly clear was what kind of gun that would entail, and thus what kind of limitations government cut put on access or use of a weapon. In an argument that ran 23 minutes beyond the allotted time, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy emerged as a fervent defender of the right of domestic self-defense. At one key point, he suggested that the one Supreme Court precedent that at least hints that gun rights are tied to military not private needs — the 1939 decision in U.S. v. Miller — “may be deficient” in that respect. “Why does any of that have any real relevance to the situation that faces the homeowner today?” Kennedy asked rhetorically."

Whatever the ruling on the case - will it firmly establish or even alter the public perceptions of the laws are or what the 2nd Amendment says?

(photo via)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Deep Thought of the Day

"It's too bad we didn't invest one-third of the Social Security system in the market." (Via)

Goodbye, Volunteer Voters

It's beyond me why WKRN axed one of the best political news blogs in the state. But they did.

ACK's coverage of politics in Tennessee was massive - and his absence affects many. Likewise the once very active WKRN blog Nashville is Talking is silent, too, being converted into a blog aggregator.

As noted before, East TN was and is the blog capital of Tennessee.

5th Anniversary of War in Iraq

When the announcement of a trip to the Middle East by V.P. Cheney was made, reports said it was a push for a peace deal between Israel and Palestine. But the V.P. was there to also say that after 5 years of American-led warfare in Iraq the U.S. and the Iraqis were living in the best of all possible worlds.

Whatever your views the fact remains we are and will remain in the country well into the next year, the next administration and for who knows how long. Casualties, costs both economic and ethical, and more are still to be counted. I mourn for our losses and for the future. Seems all the decisions that led us there and those made in the early days were - at best - full of colossal blunders.

Continuing coverage is here, and here. Attention and knowledge of what's happening is falling away.

Perhaps in 2010 (or beyond) we'll have some effective new policies in place. Perhaps.

In Vermont, something I have never, ever heard of before - two towns have issued "arrest on sight" orders for the President and Vice President, due to war-related issues. Is it worth noting that while the presidential pair have made many trips to Iraq, they won't go to Vermont?