Saturday, May 31, 2008

Camera Obscura: Al Gore's Opera; New Coen Brothers; 'Stuck'; Learn Filmmaking Secrets; A New Futurama Movie

More crackling comedy is ahead from Joel and Ethan Coen in the movie "Burn After Reading", a farce about the CIA and would-be spies starring Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, George Clooney and Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton. A brand new trailer hit the internet this week:

Opening this week is a sort of comedy/thriller/true story called "Stuck", from director Stuart Gordon, whose career stretches from the H.P. Lovecraft cult hit "Re-Animator" to a very shocking adaptation of playwright David Mamet's "Edmond". But for "Stuck", he turns to true crime for the story of a woman who hits a homeless man with her car, embedding him in the windshield and then just decides to drive home and deal with the whole thing later. Yeah, can't make up a tale like that. You've got to see the trailer to catch what's happening here at IGN.

IGN also has a trailer for the Pang Brothers American remake of their thriller, "Bangkok Dangerous", due out soon. The movie is still about the dangers of being a hitman, but the deaf-mute killer in the original is now Nicolas Cage, who is not deaf or mute. The trailer is here.


Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins has his own web site where he gladly dives into forums to talk about every aspect of filmmaking - lighting, using cameras, and much more - which you can explore right here. It's a mini-filmmaking class loaded with insights.


Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" is going to be an opera. No I am not kidding.


The Beast With A Billion Backs is the title of the new movie from "Futurama", the second of four DVD movies, and is out in late June and picks up once again with the gang from Planet Express. Here's a trailer:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Will The 1st District Ever Emerge From The Shadows?

After decades of empty-handed, self-serving Congressmen in the 1st District, I too am wondering if the seat might fall to a Democrat this fall. Randy Neal at TennViews points to some of the elements in this year's race. And as I have been saying for a while, many in the East Tennessee GOP want Rep. Davis to be a one-term federal representative. Randy points to the primary battle underway, as reported in The HIll:

Johnson City Mayor Phil Roe (R) finished fourth in 2006 with 17 percent of the vote, but has quietly become one of the few challengers in the country this year to out-raise an incumbent. He reported collecting $120,000 between January and March, compared to $80,000 for Davis, who still holds a 2-to-1 advantage in total cash.

Davis has signed up Bill Snodgrass as his campaign manager. Snodgrass served as district director for former Rep. Bill Jenkins (R), who served in the seat for five terms before retiring in 2006. Also, Keith Spicer, a co-chairman of Davis’s campaign last cycle, is now an adviser to Roe.

Davis’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University, said it’s generally tough to beat incumbents in the state but that Roe does have an advantage in that the district is focused on a singular media market in the Tri-Cities area of Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport.

“That’s the one district where there is largely one media market, although you might have to do Knoxville as well to hit the whole district,” Oppenheimer said. “So it’s probably an affordable district to campaign against the incumbent.”

Despite the challengers’ enthusiasm, David Wasserman, a House race analyst for the Cook Political Report, said Davis will likely have to do something wrong for the voters to kick him out.

The incumbent has had legendary staying power in the seat over the last 90 years, including being held for three decades by both Reps. B. Carroll Reece (R) and Jimmy Quillen (R) and then by Jenkins."

One would have to be deeply uninvolved to realize that Rep. Davis has had a lousy term. And also worth noting is that the GOP machine, which really runs this district is split over Rep. Davis. I know this area is totally filled with Conservative voters - but they too are angry with their leadership. Our area has been changing quite a bit lately in terms of who is living and working here.

If a GOP challenger or if the Democrats would organize a smart campaign converging on how this section of the state has been allowed to dissipate into the far background instead of a priority for state attention and national concerns, I think that person could win by a landslide. But with precious few media outlets, local control also in the hands of a few party leaders and their crony-filled staff, new ideas and new directions are very hard to market.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Donut Terrorism

Leave it to right-wingnuts like Michelle Malkin to vigorously blend donuts, scarves and Rachel Ray into examples of terrorists taking over America, resulting in a recipe of sheer madness.

That may be one of the most insane sentences I've ever written, and trust me, I have worked hard at times to write some crazy stuff.

Worse, crazier even - the Dunkin' Donuts company was rendered so helpless and fearful by the insane concepts spewed by Malkin, they yanked ads of Rachel Ray wearing the Heinous Scarf.

Says Dunkin' Donuts:

In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design. It was selected by her stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we are no longer using the commercial."

To which Malkin cheered:

It's refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists."

Jihadi donuts????

The Epi-Log on Epicurious writes:

It's probably hard for many people to decide who deserves the lion's share of their wrath: Malkin for ignorant (and, as always, borderline racist) demagoguery, the insipid Rachael Ray for aggressively embracing the role of foodie icon while shamelessly peddling nutritional nightmares, or Dunkin' Donuts for manufacturing said fare in the first place and for backing down in the face of Malkin's toothless swagger."

Donuts, people. And scarves.

The murky historical origin of the donut, or doughnut, obviously hides some nefarious plot ....

And clothing, well, that all started with a fig leaf meant to hide from the shame of Original Sin.

And let's not even talk about the evils of eating ice cream:

Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone --a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In Memory of Fallen Soldiers

I'd like to think most of us have moved past the idea that support and encouragement of our troops - the men and women who volunteer to serve in the military and not the hired contractors who serve to make a profit - does not mean support for the war in Iraq. I have never supported it and still cannot. But make no mistake - I have friends and family who serve now and have served in decades past. I've seen them used and abused and I simply hope for their safe return home and for greater wisdom to direct our armed forces.

I don't sport bumper stickers or yellow ribbons, but I know many who do. Sometimes, they are presented by the wives and husbands and parents and children and brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and more who wait here at home anxious for their loved ones to return home. I tell my elected representatives in government when they've been wise and when they've been unwise when deploying the military.

On this Memorial Weekend, I am grateful for the freedoms we have and enjoy as folks vacation and barbecue with great ease and pleasure, and I know many folks who never really think about how we came to such ease. There are voices at home and abroad who work unselfishly in preserving such freedoms.

Some folks today, however, are grieving for their losses.

I read about one woman, Kristen Nelson, a widow at age 20, who saw her Marine husband return home in a flag-draped coffin one day after their first-year anniversary. Her story and that of her husband, Cpl. Richard Nelson is told with images in this report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

More on the story behind the images is here. A young American widow and her family will be spending this weekend and many more to come marking the loss of Cpl. Nelson. A life-sized cardboard image of the young Marine haunts their home today. And for this Memorial weekend, I hope you take some time to consider the real lives, the real people, whose loss is keen and whose futures are uncertain. (NOTE: I received an email from Cpl. Nelson's brother Dave today, which I appreciated, and he included a link to a website of remembrance for his brother - I encourage you to visit and sign the guestbook there.)

There are so many stories of real people, typical Americans all, which deserve to be recognized. One place to read about them is here, in a continuing series called I Got The News Today.

Don't wait until the events of our time are history to think about what is happening today.