Saturday, June 03, 2006

Frank Miller Run Amok!

If you're a past or present fan of comics, you might find this amusing. deconstructs Frank Miller's (Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns, 300) new "All-Star Batman and Robin" book HERE, and it's pretty hilariously awful.

New drinking game: One shot for every time Miller writes "Dick Grayson. Age Twelve."

And my personal favorite:

I'm loaded already.

Invaders From Mars


As bizarre as it may seem, the sample jars brimming with cloudy, reddish rainwater in Godfrey Louis's laboratory in southern India may hold, well, aliens.

In April, Louis, a solid-state physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University, published a paper in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Astrophysics and Space Science in which he hypothesizes that the samples -- water taken from the mysterious blood-colored showers that fell sporadically across Louis's home state of Kerala in the summer of 2001 -- contain microbes from outer space.

Specifically, Louis has isolated strange, thick-walled, red-tinted cell-like structures about 10 microns in size. Stranger still, dozens of his experiments suggest that the particles may lack DNA yet still reproduce plentifully, even in water superheated to nearly 600 degrees Fahrenheit . (The known upper limit for life in water is about 250 degrees Fahrenheit .)

So how to explain them? Louis speculates that the particles could be extraterrestrial bacteria adapted to the harsh conditions of space and that the microbes hitched a ride on a comet or meteorite that later broke apart in the upper atmosphere and mixed with rain clouds above India.

If his theory proves correct, the cells would be the first confirmed evidence of alien life and, as such, could yield tantalizing new clues to the origins of life on Earth.


Friday, June 02, 2006

The Pleasures Of SiteMeter

Did you know that putting the words "Incredibles Dash incest motherfucker" brings up Codemorse on google in Tokyo?

Neither did we. But thanks to the NTT Communications Corporation, and to whatever truly sick fuck was surfing the net for animated Disney porn, we know that Codemorse continues to reach new and interesting segments of the population.

You'll find no boy-on-Elastigirl action here, people. Move along.

Move along.

Beinart v. Kos

Liberals have grown accustomed to the fact that the Republicans will not be in power forever and have started to ask themselves, ok, what should we do? Kos debates Beinart regarding the same, and it's actually good. Aside from the gems witnessed in this site, it's one of the best signs that intellectual liberalism isn't dead. And that's a very good thing.


This speaks for itself.

Lefties, Start For The Hills Now - The Revolution Begins Shortly

The Hadithas debacle has inspired a lot of chest-puffing and snorting and pawing of the ground on both sides of our democratic divide. As usual, whackos on the Left and on the Right have begun using something that is undeniably tragic to forward their own agendas.

On the Left, the Hadithas incident has people wielding it like a burning sword of damnation pointed at the hearts of all who support the Iraq campaign. They've unfairly extrapolated outward that the actions of the few represent the will of the many. That's as erroneous as it was in Viet Nam.

On the Right, people are behaving just as horribly. Only, as usual, the comments trend toward threats of violence - thinly veiled as warnings to the Left that the day of reckoning for their traitorous liberal beliefs is at hand.

From Instapundit:

Peter Ingemi writes that the antiwar left has made Haditha morally

There is one aspect about Haditha that seems to be ignored by everybody.Our press and the anti-American left both in this country and outside of it has been reporting "Hadithas" over and over again over the last three years. Time and time again our friends have accused us of every possible atrocity that there is to the point that internationally people are already able to believe this or the 9/11 stuff or all the rest. Because of this, internationally it is totally irrelevant if the Marines actually violated the rules of war. Our foes are going to say that we've done things if we do them or not, so the only people that it really matters to will be; the people killed (and family) and the people in our own country who support the military.

The real danger is that we who support the war will reach the point that we say "we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep". At that point the left can celebrate that they have made our military and those who support it the people they claim we are. Once that happens however any compunction about respecting them will be gone, and remember one side is armed and one is not. [emphasis added] That is a fate that I don't wish on any of us.

Glenn Reynolds responds with this:
Some people, judging from my email, are misjudging -- or deliberately misconstruing -- Ingemi's point. Ingemi's point, as I took it, is that crying wolf leads end the end to moral callousness, as people assume that there's no point in behaving morally when they're going to be called monsters anyway. This seems rather uncontroversially obvious to me.

Then you're obviously an idiot, Reynolds.

Ingemi's writings none-too-subtly imply that when the revolution comes, the Left will be on the wrong end of a gun barrel. The "point" that Reynolds refers to, that "there's no point in behaving morally when they're going to be called monsters anyway" is the most extreme and absurb example of moral relativism I've seen in ages. This, from the Right, who love to bandy that phrase about as if the Leftists own the patent on it.

Obviously, they're simply leasing from the Right.

The notion that, by criticizing the Right, the Left will leave Ingemi and his buddies no choice but to become monsters is foul. It's psychotic. And it's anything but uncontroversial.

(link courtesy of This Modern World)

Lady Liberty, Tarnished

Yesterday, we reported on the government's logic-free distribution of anti-terror funds - which have states like Wyoming recieving significant increases, while New York's funds were slashed by 40%.

Further confirming that our country is run by people who don't get out much is the given reason for the cuts:

New York has no national monuments or icons, according to the Department of Homeland Security form obtained by ABC News. That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent--from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006.

The formula did not consider as landmarks or icons: The Empire State Building, The United Nations, The Statue of Liberty and others found on several terror target hit lists. It also left off notable landmarks, such as the New York Public Library, Times Square, City Hall and at least three of the nation's most renowned museums: The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan and The Museum of Natural History....The form ignored that New York City is the capital of the world financial markets and merely stated the city had four significant bank assets.

Seriously. Apparently, the Statue of Liberty is not a landmark. Or an icon.

Which is kind of like saying that Marilyn Monroe was not a movie star.

I may not always love Bloomberg's approach to his Mayoral office, but I admire his candor always. This is no exception:
"I think the facts are clear," Bloomberg said. "What they've really done is taken what was supposed to be threat-based and just started to distribute it as normal pork."

Amen to that, 'berg.
I invite you to explain to me why this makes sense.

Friday Filmatist Roundup

Howdy, buckaroos and buckarettes!

Y'all are prob'ly gettin' ready for the weekend, and who needs a bunch of depressing political news on a muggy, over-baked, perpetually almost-raining day like today?

So here's some fun/interesting film news and info:

Read an interview with M. Night Shyamalan on his new film, "Lady In The Water," right HERE.

Just how many villians is Spider-Man 3 going to have, anyway? Find out HERE.

The Fountain, one of the three films I'm most looking forward to seeing this year, finally has a release date.

Southland Tales, the second of the three films I'm most looking forward to seeing this year, apprently sucks - and Director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) is recutting it in hopes of finding a US distributor. Hearing Kelly speak about his experience is pretty heart-wrenching, no matter the quality of the finished film. This cat's had nothing but trouble from Hollywood.

Avi Arad, outgoing head of Marvel Studios, talks about the future of the X-Men franchise HERE.

Jessica Alba discusses the Fantastic Four sequel HERE, and drops a little knowledge on us regarding the second film's new characters - including, apparently, a giant planet-eating guy in a purple disco outfit.

Joss Whedon may have contacted recent American Idol runner-up Katherine McPhee about a possible acting role. Wonder Woman? Keep in mind that E News also reported (erroneously, it seems) that Firefly might be going back into production at the new CW. So, take with liberal does of salt grains.

Unrelated to any of this, I finally caught Brett Ratner's "Red Dragon," the remake of Michael Mann's Manhunter, on television. Between that and X3, I honestly believe that the much-loathed-on-the-internet Ratner is a pretty gifted director. He's no auteur, but he doesn't need to be. I enjoyed the film far more than I expected to. Having never seen the original probably helped.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Let's Talk About Sex

This just cracks me up.

Courtesy of, here's a trio of posters from a movie theater in Illinois. They're presented as they were shot in the theater, and again, lined up side by side so that you can see them clearly.


Rockin' The Suburbs With John J. Miller

A good afternoon to all!

In one of Codemorse's recent posts, I touched on Michael Long's attempts to identify "Conservative" songs. Frankly, I don't get it. What's the need to identify these things? Can a song not simply be a song, enjoyable without political connotation?

Apparently not, as John J. Miller has released a list of the Top 50 Conservative Songs.

And, as you'd expect, it doesn't make a lick of sense.

At number 15?
I fought The Law, by The Crickets. The original law-and-order classic, made famous in 1965 by The Bobby Fuller Four and covered by just about everyone since then.

How is this a conservative song? In any context? Because the singer goes around robbin' people with his six-gun? Because the Law won? Does Miller understand that the singer in this song is not pleased with having had said-Law win?

At number 18?
Cult of Personality by Living Colour. A hard-rocking critique of state power, whacking Mussolini, Stalin, and even JFK: “I exploit you, still you love me / I tell you one and one makes three / I’m the cult of personality.”

One might be forgiven in thinking that conservative skepticism in the face of the Cult of Personality is fairly ludicrous. Certainly our current Administration works that Personality like an all-day sucker. And isn't it wrong to criticize our President? Aren't the Dixie Chicks pulling a shameless Martyr pose by capitalizing on said-criticism? You'd think so, given some conservative reaction. But you'd only be half-right, because apparently it's okay to criticize someone as long as they're dead.

At number 3?
Sympathy For The Devil, by the Rolling Stones. Don’t be misled by the title; this song is The Screwtape Letters of rock. The devil is a tempter who leans hard on moral relativism — he will try to make you think that “every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints.” What’s more, he is the sinister inspiration for the cruelties of Bolshevism: “I stuck around St. Petersburg /When I saw it was a time for a change / Killed the czar and his ministers /Anastasia screamed in vain.”

This choice is so fundamentally misguided that one could possibly write a book and guest on Jon Stewart, using just this paragraph alone. I'll be mercifully brief. This song is not the Screwtape Letters of rock. Saying so ignores the entire history of the Rolling Stones, the entirety of the lyrics, and the meaning of words. Yes, the meaning of words.

Labeling this song "conservative" is so utterly fakata that it essentially renders Miller's logic meaningless to me in full. What is the criterion for judging a song to be "conservative?" Let's let Miller tell us again:
The lyrics must convey a conservative idea or sentiment, such as skepticism of government or support for traditional values. And, to be sure, it must be a great rock song. We’re biased in favor of songs that are already popular, but have tossed in a few little-known gems. In several cases, the musicians are outspoken liberals. Others are notorious libertines. For the purposes of this list, however, we don’t hold any of this against them.

What does that even mean? We've already discussed how "traditional values" has no viable meaning in this context. We know firsthand that many modern-day conservatives are anything but skeptical of the government and are, in fact, deeply wounded when said-government is criticized. So what's the reasoning?

It appears to be that the reasoning is "It's conservative because I'm conservative and I still like the song." Because otherwise, there's just no making heads or tails of this thing. Yet, here I am, attempting to do just that.

I need more hobbies.

A Third Party?

Peggy Noonan discusses the possibility of a viable third party:

On the ground in America, people worry terribly--really, there are people who actually worry about it every day--about endless, weird, gushing government spending. But in Washington, those in power--Republicans and Democrats--stand arm in arm as they spend and spend. (Part of the reason is that they think they can buy off your unhappiness one way or another. After all, it's worked in the past. A hunch: It's not going to work forever or much longer. They've really run that trick into the ground.)

On the ground in America, regular people worry about the changes wrought by the biggest wave of immigration in our history, much of it illegal and therefore wholly connected to the needs of the immigrant and wholly unconnected to the agreed-upon needs of our nation. Americans worry about the myriad implications of the collapse of the American border. But Washington doesn't. Democrat Ted Kennedy and Republican George W. Bush see things pretty much eye to eye. They are going to educate the American people out of their low concerns.

There is a widespread sense in America--a conviction, actually--that we are not safe in the age of terror. That the port, the local power plant, even the local school, are not protected. Is Washington worried about this? Not so you'd notice. They're only worried about seeming unconcerned.

Your thoughts?

Conservatives, A Display in Diversity

CATO, a conservative think tank, came out (hee hee) against the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Would that some liberals could deviate from the party line.

Creep Out Moment

I just found out the other day that I am exactly one day older than Colin Farrell. Oh God. I can't help but think that he seems older than I do. Oh God.

Not Ready To Make Nice, But Ready To Make Moolah

From the Washington Post:

....the Chicks are on top of the pop and country charts with their first album since publicly criticizing Bush three years ago. They did it without the support of country radio, which largely ignored the Dixie Chicks after lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience in 2003 that the group was ashamed Bush was from their home state of Texas.

The new album, "Taking the Long Way," took the No. 1 spot Wednesday on the country albums chart and the Billboard 200 overall chart which are based on sales rather than radio airplay with 526,000 units sold in its first week.

Congratulations to the Dixie Chicks. You're too talented for mainstream country radio, anyway.

Goreing The Critics

From ThinkProgress:

GORE: ....I’ve been trying to tell this story for thirty years here. And the debate among the scientists is over, there is no more debate. We face a planetary emergency, and the phrase sounds shrill, but it is an accurate description of the climate crisis that we have to confront and solve.

SMITH: But if I look at more elements, the more conservative elements of the press, I would say there is a debate going on because, you know, they say that you’re just trying to create this kind of bogeyman to help slow down the economy and everything else. How do you respond to that?

GORE: Well, I guess in some quarters there’s still a debate over whether the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona or whether the earth is flat instead of round. And there may be some media reports that are constructed in a way that says, “On the one hand, on the other hand.” But really and truly, global warming is in that category – there is no more scientific debate among serious people who’ve looked at the evidence.


Doesn't Gore understand that his opponents don't "believe" in Science? That, to my mind, is the second-greatest obstacle facing us as we attempt to deal with the threat of Global Warming. The greatest threat being our economic reliance on processes and industries that continue to worsen a problem that's already close to being irreversible.

(link courtesy of oliverwillis)

Fifa Fi Fo Fum

I used to think Soccer was for sissies.

Keep in mind, I was a younger man back then. All full of piss and vinegar and Mountain Dew. Also, I've always been more of an American Football fan. My father played when he was young, in high school and college, and I followed in his footsteps. I love the gridiron, and it was something of a joke between myself and my friends at school that I was the only American Football player among a group of Soccer players.

But my attitude changed completely when Jabs, our mutual friend Sebby and I travelled to Europe in the summer of 1998. We spent just under two months backpacking around during the full-on frenzied orgy of World Cup fever, and I learned that Soccer isn't for sissies at all - it's fookin' amazin'.

You have not lived until you've stood in a bar in Barcelona - packed literally beyond capacity - screaming away your voice as grown men and women cry and buy you beers and share their life stories as their favorite team wins gloriously/fails utterly.

We were there in Nice, France for the Cup's final game - sitting in the middle of the city drinking wine out of bottles and puffing stogies as four story television screens broadcast France's victory and Nice erupted into the sort of celebration that makes Times Square at New Year's look like a garden party.

Ah, memories.

The Cup returns this summer, and I'll be haunting NYC bars at 2 in the morning to catch the matches. I'll be sporting my Barthez jersey with pride (even though the man himself seems to have fallen on hard times, he'll always be the guy who truly hooked me on the sport). Feel free to tap me on the shoulder. I'll buy you a drink. In between screaming sessions, of course.

They've been running ads for the World Cup pretty regularly, and the "Sick Days" spot is pretty brilliant. You can check it out HERE - just click the "Sick Days" tab at the bottom of the screen.

Now, everyone: Ole, ole, ole, ole...Ole...Ole...

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

I love the NY Post.

Usually, that would cheekily mean that I not-so-secretly despise the Post (I'm sneaky that way). And really, I do. The NY Post is Manhattan's best-selling tabloid, gussied up to look like a "real" newspaper.

Yet, today (oddly), I find myself courting sincerity.

Why, you ask? Because of this headline, dear readers:


Poetry, thy name is the Post.

But where I'd ordinarily find myself grinning snidely at such bombast, today I find myself sharing the Post's boundless reservoirs of rage/contempt.

Here's some actual information:

The Homeland Security Department announced it was hacking funds distributed to the city by 40 percent compared with last year, while pouring hundreds of millions into unlikely terror targets like Kentucky and Wyoming.

The shocking stinginess from Washington comes just one week after a Pakistani national was convicted of a plot to blow up the Herald Square subway station. New York City will get its vital anti-terror funding chain-sawed from $208 million this year to $124 million next year - even though security experts agree it is vastly more threatened than any other city in the country....

New York City absorbed more than half of the nationwide cut of $119 million in money for urban areas....Even as New York braced for massive cuts, several small-city mayors were poised to bask in a security bonanza. Seven cities that got big increases have populations smaller than Staten Island.

Louisville, Ky. - home to Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who chairs a powerful Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee - got almost $9 million. Memphis, in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist(R-Tenn.), got $4 million....

Of the 46 cities that got special grants, New York City ranks 23rd per capita, getting $16 per person. But residents of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., got $67 per person, and residents of Atlanta got $45.

Of course, the fact the Vice President Cheney's home state is Wyoming has absolutely nothing to do with that state's increase in funding. That, and the reports of Terrorist cells racing around Jackson Hole, tipping cows and scaring skiers.

Does that sound "elitist" and "blue state" of me?

Of course, it wouldn't be the NY Post without some eyebrow-raising commentary:
"As far as I'm concerned, the Department of Homeland Security and the administration have declared war on New York," said Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "It's a knife in the back to New York and I'm going to do everything I can to make them very sorry they made this decision."

Those of you with memories more powerful than goldfish will remember "Anatomy of an Annoying Conservative," an article I wrote last week on the tendency of conservatives to favor 24/7 WAR metaphors (among other things). That particular habit continues unabated. For comparison's sake, let's take a look at Senator Schumer's remarks:

"I don't think the president should come back to New York and stand in solidarity with us without changing this formula," said Schumer (D-N.Y.). "This is unfair. This is wrong. This is an outrage. This is basically abandoning New York."

Notice a difference in approach?

This is not to say that Schumer is better/smarter/righter than Representative King. This is to say, however, that there are real, quantifiable patterns of behavior that potentially draw people to the "left" and "right," patterns which have little to do with politics, and more to do with personality.

Which, I suppose, means that I have the personality of a wishy-washy peacenik Lib.

But I'm comfy with that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Seriously - DeLorean? Anyone?

Hot on the heels of the invisibility cloak story (scroll down or click here) comes news that our troops may soon descend upon our enemies like the fearsome winged monkeys of Oz:

A new military parachute system which fits wings on soldiers could enable them to travel to 200 kilometres (124 miles) after jumping, Jane's Defence Weekly defence magazine said Friday. The system, which involves the development of new modular carbon-fibre wings, will mean that aircraft can drop parachutists from 30,000 feet (9,150 metres) into an area of operations without flying into a danger zone.

That looks Cool as Ice. I want to try.

(link courtesy of

All Your Thoughts On God - Told!

We posted some excerpts from Karen Armstrong's interview on God, faith, and religion the other day (you can read it here, or just scroll down a bit) and its resulted in a passionate, thoughtful, interesting debate. I encourage you to give it a read when you have a little time to spare.

The "Baby-Killers" Strike Back

While this can't wholly-qualify as "good news," it's still reassuring to hear:

Thanks to the hard work of 1,200 volunteers in 138 different cities and towns -- in nine weeks time -- today, we will be filing petitions with the names of nearly 38,000 South Dakotans who are calling for the repeal of the extreme abortion legislation enacted by the South Dakotalegislature and signed into law by Governor Mike Rounds on March 6....

“This abortion ban was pushed by radical groups who want our state to be the center of the national legal battle waged in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade,” said Jan Nicolay, Co-Chair of the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families. “Defending this extreme law, that is clearly unconstitutional, could cost the taxpayers of South Dakota millions of dollars and drag the good people of South Dakota into the center of the national abortion debate,” Nicolay continued.

“When a woman’s health is in danger, all medical options should be available. When a woman is the tragic victim of rape or incest, she deserves compassionate options about her future. Emergency contraception is often not a valid or realistic alternative,”

Amen to that.

MSNBC is reporting that the ban will now be frozen until election time, giving the victims of rape a brief window of respite and opportunity to decide their own fates without the opinions of fat old white men intruding.

Codemorse has been reporting on this issue since February. It's good to see that the people of South Dakota aren't going to let a group of religiously-motivated extremists cut off their right of access to an abortion in the event of rape, incest, or disastrous health complications.

Whether one approves of abortion morally or not (and I can't say that I do), one risks being called a misogynistic, controlling asshole when one decides that personal moral beliefs overrule the safety and health of women.

There are good, viable reasons rooted in religious belief to disapprove of abortion, and I respect those reasons. What I will never respect is the impulse to remake the world in your desired religious image, over the loud and unmistakable protests of your fellow man.

Your Liberal Media

Those of you who feel the media is too liberal can relax a little - apparently, they agree with you:

The Associated Press ran a story yesterday (byline John Solomon) attacking Senator Harry Reid for accepting tickets to a boxing match in Nevada as the guest of the Nevada state government (something that appears totally fine under Senate ethics rules).

AP then comes under
some rather severe criticism from bloggers, this blog included, because the article notes in its second paragraph that rather than doing the bidding of the Nevada boxing folks, Reid was in fact pushing legislation they didn't like - i.e., Reid was not in the pocket of the Nevada boxing folks.Today, Josh Marshall discovered that AP appears to have edited its story and deleted the sentence that makes clear that Harry Reid was pushing legislation the Nevada boxing folks didn't like. I.e., AP just happened to delete the key line of their story that proves that Harry Reid isn't dishonest. And AP happens to delete this line from their story right after we all criticize them, using the line as proof that AP's story doesn't hold water.

This is not the first instance of the AP's Solomon making accusations and insinuations that don't hold up. Now, this is not to say that Harry Reid is honest or dishonest - that's not the point of this article, despite the above line stating that the excluded sentence "proves Harry Reid isn't dishonest."

This is to say that the "liberal" media continues to prove itself as a sort of legendarily-mythical beast; a Chimera, a Minotaur, a Kelpi.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Now Where's My Time Traveling DeLorean?

Hold on to your hats, people:

Using a new design theory, researchers at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering and Imperial College London have developed the blueprint for an invisibility cloak. Once devised, the cloak could have numerous uses, from defense applications to wireless communications, the researchers said....

"There are several possible goals one may have for cloaking an object," said Schurig, a research associate in electrical and computer engineering. "One goal would be to conceal an object from discovery by agents using probing or environmental radiation."
"Another would be to allow electromagnetic fields to essentially pass through a potentially obstructing object," he said. "For example, you may wish to put a cloak over the refinery that is blocking your view of the bay."

Moony, Padfoot and Prongs are going to be stoked about this.

Imagine Living in England

Aside from having some of the most drab weather on the planet, England is also the home to some of the more, how shall one say, colorful, politicians elected to government.

Christopher Hitchens takes a close look at the (not-so) Honorable Mr. George Galloway, the champion of the tyrant, and defender of suicide nihilism.

It's Your Birthday, UH! Happy Birthday, UH!

Codemorse would like to take a minute to wish Jabs, our resident conservative and deep-thinker, a very Happy Birthday! Mr. Jabawacefti has been tossing out impressively-worded posts for Codemorse these past few months, and his influence has been obvious and welcome.

Codemorse would be half the site it is without him, and I'd be sans my best friend.

Happy Birthday, Jabs.

Give It Up For Gleason

Paul Gleason, actor and 80's icon, passed away this weekend of asbestos-related cancer.

You know Mr. Gleason's work, even if you don't recognize his name. Mr. Beeks in Trading Places, Principal Vernon in the Breakfast Club, Jay Le Soto in Morgan Stewart's Coming Home ( the den...of iniquity...quity...quity), Deputy Police Chief Dwayne Robinson in Die Hard, and of course, Jeremitt in Ewoks: The Battle For Endor. Well, they can't all be gems.

Gleason's distinctively anal screen presence will be missed. With his passing, the children of the 80's lose an influential and memorable part of their youth. Rest in peace, sir.

Memorable/favorite Gleason quotes:

You think anyone's gonna believe you? You think anyone gonna take your word over mine? I'm a man of respect around here. They love me. I'm a swell guy. You're a lying sack of monkey shit, and everyone knows about it. Oh, you're a tough guy. Hey c'mon. Get on your feet pal! Let's find out how tough you are. I wanna know how tough you are. Let's go. C'mon man, just take the first shot. I'm begging you, take the first shot. Just take one good swing... [Bender pauses, staring]Yeah, that's what I thought. You're a gutless turd.

Back off! Or I'll rip out your eyes and piss on your brain!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Tell Me All Your Thoughts On God

There's a fascinating interview up on with Karen Armstrong about religion and belief. I recommend it highly. Ms. Armstrong manages to put many of my own thoughts on the practice of religion and the notion of "spirituality" into words that would shame any attempt on my part to convey them.

Here're a few choice tidbits. Click over to Salon for the full piece. You have to sit through a brief ad, but the experience is painless.

....Religion is a search for transcendence. But transcendence isn't necessarily sited in an external god, which can be a very unspiritual, unreligious concept. The sages were all extremely concerned with transcendence, with going beyond the self and discovering a realm, a reality, that could not be defined in words. Buddhists talk about Nirvana in very much the same terms as monotheists describe God.

....Jesus did not spend a great deal of time discoursing about the trinity or original sin or the incarnation, which have preoccupied later Christians. He went around doing good and being compassionate. In the Quran, metaphysical speculation is regarded as self-indulgent guesswork. And it makes people, the Quran says, quarrelsome and stupidly sectarian.

You can't prove these things one way or the other, so why quarrel about it? The Daoists said this kind of speculation where people pompously hold forth about their opinions was egotism. And when you're faced with the ineffable and the indescribable, they would say it's belittling to cut it down to size. Sometimes, I think the way monotheists talk about God is unreligious....people very often talk about him as a kind of acquaintance, whom they can second-guess.

People will say God loves that, God wills that, and God despises the other. And very often, the opinions of the deity are made to coincide exactly with those of the speaker.

....It's really only Christianity and Islam that are obsessed with afterlife in this way.....I think the old scenarios of heaven and hell can be unreligious. People can perform their good deeds in the spirit of putting their installments in their retirement annuities. And there's nothing religious about that. Religion is supposed to be about the loss of the ego, not about its eternal survival.

Stirring stuff, and worthy of thought and discussion.

Are you religious? What do you believe? What do you think of Ms. Armstrong's views?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

X3: The Long Review

You should probably not read this review.

There are multiple reasons for this – first, it proves that I have no real taste. That’s surely enough of a reason to turn away from this and never set eyes upon it again. Second, I’m going to spoil some of the movie’s story as I discuss it. So, unless you’ve already seen the film, or you don’t care about being surprised, it’s best to click on down to the next article. Also, this is long. You know me – I ramble.

Before I started writing, I read a bunch of the X3 reviews on the web. I like to read reviews after I’ve seen the movie, because what I think is interesting about movie reviews tends to center around how their opinion differs or agrees with my own.

And apparently, X3 isn’t a very good movie. How not-very-good it is varies from reviewer to reviewer, but they all seem to agree that the film is a step down from its predecessor.

Me? I loved it - with almost no reservations or caveats. See? No taste.

In the months leading up to this film’s release, the internet’s been thick with proclamations of doom – Brett Ratner, the film’s director, has inspired the sort of verbal shit-slinging festival that one normally reserves for tyrannical dictators and the elderly. Everything about the movie was broken down and dissected by teams of people armed with endlessly snarky put-downs and far too much free time at the office.

Perhaps lowered expectations played a part in my enjoyment of the film. Considering that I’d been warned - literally hundreds of times - that Ratner’s film would steal the souls of my future children and use them to fuel Hollywood’s blood-soaked child labor machine, that’s not an impossible scenario.

But frankly, X3’s a hoot; a big, fun, overstuffed party piñata of a movie that somehow manages to keep the tone and relative intelligence of the first two films.

After two films worth of terrific characterization and quieter moments, X3 pulls the cork outta the bottle and just let’s ‘er rip. And it works. In part, because we’ve gotten to know these characters so well in the first two, we don’t need the emphasis on interaction. Viewed as a trilogy, the X films build to a stirring climax in the third film, and the bigness of it is an asset, not a hindrance.

Ratner does an impressive job overall of using small moments to make large statements about each of the mutants and homo-sapiens we meet, and they’re enough. Callisto’s puzzlingly upset face during her fights, The Multiple Man’s bewilderingly-good casting and cocky, fuck-you attitude, the utterance of a classic Beast line, the way Iceman romances Kitty, Kitty’s undeniably badass takedown of the Juggernaut, the Juggernaut’s gloriously over-the-top reaction, that final, quiet after-the-credits shocker – all these little touches lend a sense of the epic- of scale – to the proceedings.

That bigness takes some of the focus off of Wolverine, and that’s a plus for me. Jackman’s performance is iconic, and it’s not that I don’t enjoy watching him, but after two Wolvy-centric X-films, it’s good to spend some time with other players. What we get this time around is a sense of the X-Men as a team. It isn’t the Wolverine and his Amazing Friends show.

What’s also nice about this approach is how it shifts attention to my all-time favorite character – Hank McCoy. I’m not sure why I loved the Beast so much as a kid. Part of it was his million-dollar vocabulary (something I’ve obviously not attempted to emulate at all), part of it was his agility, part of it was the fact that he was blue and hairy and monstrous, yet still heroic. Most of all, I think, it was his manic, cheerful energy. Everyone in the X-Men seemed to brood constantly, but Beast seemed genuinely jazzed to be a superhero. He was a goofball with a brain and enviable athletic abilities.

It’s been a looooooong time since I’ve read X-Men (not counting Joss Whedon’s run – I’ll read anything that man writes. Pity me), but I retain enormous and obvious affection for the bouncin’ blue Beast, and to my surprise and pleasure, the movie spends a good chunk of time on him.

Better, Kelsey Grammer nails the character almost perfectly. What a genuine, adolescent joy.
It’s through the Beast that we learn of the film’s Cure. It’s through him that we see what the source of it is. He’s front and center for a good portion of the movie, and had Grammer not found Hank McCoy’s distinctively erudite, good humored voice, that would have been deadly to the film. We need to invest in, and care about, the character Grammer inhabits in order to buy into the Cure as a plot device. Certainly, Halle Berry’s “There’s nothin’ wrong with us!” speech doesn’t do the job. Grammer seems immensely comfortable in the role and despite the limitations of his suit and makeup, the Beast is one of the most fully realized characters on the screen.

But everyone acquits themselves fairly well here. James Marsden’s Cyclops, given virtually nothing to do in either of the previous X films, is shuffled off to heavenly Buffalo at X3’s start, and I thought the handling of it was actually fairly chilling. Halle Berry, a source of much grievous shaking-of-fists for me in the first two films, manages to be less-than-horrible here. Hooray for her.

Patrick Stewart believably darkens the character of Xavier a little, adding shades of moral ambiguity lacking in the first two films. Ian McKellan continues to prove that he is Hollywood’s greatest living “genre” actor. His Magneto goes through enormous shifts in the film, and he sells each of those turning points with the gravitas and confidence of a true Movie Star.

Rebecca Romjin has virtually no screen time, but her interrogation scene is great stuff. It’s good action, it’s a great exchange (“I don’t answer to my slave name” is a terrific line, terrifically delivered), and her character’s fate serves as a shocker, and a damning nail in Magneto’s ideological coffin. We see Magneto’s true face in his scene with Romjin, and we see why he is, in his way, as terrible as the Nazis he was imprisoned by.

Not to say that X3 is a perfect film. Did the screenwriters change the story of Dark Phoenix radically? Yes. But then, Singer changed Claremont’s “God Loves, Man Kills” into X2, and frankly, the original graphic novel is superior. Does that make X2 a lesser movie? Not in my eyes.

The changes to the Phoenix plotline don’t make X3 less of a film, either, unless you're the sort of person to cry over these sorts of things. And if you’re a casual fan of the X-Men films, not a former reader of the comics, you won’t know what all the hubbub is about, anyway.

A big complaint seems to have been that after damning the use of the Cure as a weapon; the X-Men go ahead and use it as one. I’d argue that this is not a “plot-hole” or a stupid mistake. It’s a further graying of the moral and ethical world these characters inhabit. And conservatives in particular should enjoy this aspect of the film, because it admits to something they argue often: for all the "Why can't we all just get along" talk, sometimes violence is the answer. Sometimes, to prevent destruction, you have to cross lines you don't want to cross.

There are other faults to be found: The film has so much narrative potential packed into both its storylines that it seems a shame to squander them both at once. It’s got a few groaners for lines. It’s a little less emotionally resonant than the previous films. But again, viewed as the last chapter in a trilogy, it works like gangbusters as far as I’m concerned.

And I’m frankly glad that future X films may share a more colorful tone. I adored Singer’s films. The first X Men was like a 70’s sci-fi film crossed with a drama. The second was a coldly propulsive Empire Strikes Back riff, and still the best modern-day comic book film in my eyes. But that vision for the series to some extent precluded some of the X-Men’s more fantastical adventures and villains. Thanks to Ratner’s film, I can imagine future X-flicks dealing with the Alien-esque threat of the Brood – directed by Guillermo Del Toro. I can see the team encountering the Shi’ar empire – directed by James Cameron. I can see them fighting Apocalypse and his Horsemen, directed by, say, Ridley Scott. I can see the Mutant Massacre storyline, directed by Paul Greengrass.

In short, I was entertained. Verily, I was enthused and entertained and am looking forward to seeing it again.

But if I can make a request, I think we need a solo Beast film, ASAP.

Edit: Ebert liked it, too. His review is much better than mine.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Jaw-Dropping Irony


Top officials at the Justice Department and the FBI were prepared
to resign if President Bush had ordered them to return materials seized from a Congressman's office, two senior administration officials said.

They said the situation reached what one called "the tipping
point" when some in the administration, led by the vice president's office, argued that FBI overreached with its search of the Capitol Hill office of Rep. William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat.

You mean to say that the government overreached in its eagerness to invade your privacy? How violating that must feel! To know that people are potentially peeking in on you without your knowledge....How angry you must be!