Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Drudgieness For Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New McCain attack ad of the Obama campaign released. I found it to be a rather interesting ad. It is interesting to see how much Obama is this celebrity and almost a global celebrity. I think the President of the United States often has been, probably especially since the days of FDR. Frankly the American President is a global hero of sorts, or at least was at one point (I guess that's kind of a changed story for a large part, but there was always Bushie's trip to Albania). So I don't know what sort of take to look to for this. We'll see how it plays out in the near future. I noticed this was a hot topic on Fox News this evening as I was waiting for my flight. Obama's campaign has spoken out against it rather strongly, but frankly as far as attacks go, this doesn't seem the most malicious. Things were a lot nastier between him and Hillary than this so I don't know why they're acting so appalled all of the sudden, especially because I can imagine they have their salvo's in reserve ready to fire right back. Also, given the sad state of America today, this might almost pander more to the American public rather than drive them away. America is so celebrity crazy it only makes sense to have "the biggest celebrity of them all" to be the President.

More to the note of the Celebrity Presidential Candidate, rapper Ludacris has come out with a song devoted to the Obama campaign. Maybe it's just me, but I want a man of high moral character and fiber as President, and so I don't know what a 50-something year old man is doing running around with Luda on his iPod and saying its on heavy rotation. I would hope Obama would want black people to rise above much of the ills sometime associated with the whole rap culture, not eschewing it. I mean just because he listens to it doesn't mean he's a supporter necessarily, but I don't know that it's helping the cause. Apparently the Obama Campaign has spoken out against these lyrics. But for supposedly being against such lyrics, yet again I ask, why even associate yourself with the filth in the first place?

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign.

Obama's biggest foe may be his own hubris.

Drug found to halt the effects of Alzheimer's.

Boo to the IOC, okay's China's censorship of the internet for the Olympics.

Speculations on the candidates' running mates.

McCain extends gracious words for Pelosi and Gore.

The UN takes on global warming by raising the temperature.

L.A. puts a moratorium on new fast food restaurants in the poorer areas. Good thing we have a nanny state.

Revelation: Obama tells Congress Israel will attack Iran if sanctions do not stop their enriching of uranium. Good thing he went all over the world to learn this one. It's not like Israel has done this before or anything...

Illegal Immigration Solution: Do you want to leave? We'll let you! Okay, maybe it's just me but this seems ridiculous. First of all, why wasn't this already an option basically. And two, do they really expect it to be all that successful? I mean they're here for a reason, I can't imagine most are too anxious to leave.

Obama wants the U.S. to apologize for anything and everything its ever done wrong. All right, so he isn't quite that extreme, but I mean where do we draw the lines as far as apologies and does the country really have that much of an ability to apologize, especially for crimes committed by a nation composed of entirely different people? It's an interesting discussion to say the least. Of course the government did just finally apologize for slavery and Jim Crowe laws. I do think that is an appropriate thing to apologize for, as is probably the treatment of the Native Americans that Obama seeks, but why now?

New York Governor considers selling bridges to alleviate the state budget deficit.

School decides to make students dress like prisoners for violations of dress code. I guess that really makes school feel like a prison.

Ahmadinejad accuses America of creating AIDS.

Mike Allen's Playbook not written by Mike Allen. Always an enjoyable read and interesting not having Mike Allen writing it.

North Korea experiences the joys of Communism.

Dunkin Donuts goes healthy, sort of.

The House holds Karl Rove in contempt. Congress is still doing great things...

Castro enjoys a resurgence of power and prominence.

U.S. troop deaths in Iraq drops lower than since the beginning of the invasion.

Tiger cubs find a new mom.

Another Earnhardt on the way.

CIA shows ties between Pakistani spies and militants.

Windows down or A/C on, which will save you more gas? The debate continues.

Bush administration sought cronies. I thought news was supposed to reveal something new?

Sports News
Donaghy gets 15 months. Really doesn't seem like too bad of a rap to me.

National Champion's new life as a small time loser.

Some love for my good friend Amanda's blog. Rather brief post today, but I enjoyed the poem that she linked to (and I have a tough time appreciating poetry).

Michael Powers explores the gym. If you look at it for nothing else, at least check out the sweet picture of the hamster weight lifting.

A good article about CEO's aversion to Facebook. That's right, Bill Gates fears Facebook. Kudos Jeff.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Drudgieness For Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The McCain rumor mill is churning big with talk of his potential running mate. Could it be Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty or former Massachusetts' Governor Mitt Romney? I can't help but laugh at the quote from the person allegedly close to Mitt saying he is "near the top of a very short list." Isn't that what a short list is? I mean I can't imagine it having much more than 5 people and to be "near the top" suggests being no lower than #3, la-di-frickin-dah.

Figure I'll mention Dolly briefly. Having been through a few hurricanes, I'm not too terribly concerned, I don't think the damage will be too bad. It's only a Cat 2, but it has slowed a bit so that does pose some concerns. My favorite quote from the article though, "With Dolly's stubborn movement, severe beach erosion is becoming a major concern." Wow thank goodness we're not going to lose any homes or anything...

A bank in Florida is allegedly giving out counterfeit money. As if the economy isn't already struggling enough.

Bob Novak hits a pedestrian with his car. Interesting the fuss that gets created about this, I mean it's a bad thing, but it seems like a bit too much. Hopefully it's because he is a rather high profile figure and not because of his political affiliations.

Batman accused of beating his mother and sister. This story broke a couple of days ago, but since it is high profile news I thought I'd throw it in there. Plus I hate how society idealizes and glamorizes these celebrities. Hopefully the accusations aren't true, but either way, something bad is going on and so hopefully society isn't still thinking of him as "the golden boy."

People fear a "John McCain war with Iran" but don't be too certain Obama won't start one either. Obama said he would take "no options off the table" to help prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. I'll be honest, I'm not OK with the idea of Iran having nukes either, but I really don't think the world is going to collapse for it. Frankly, I think we're making way too big of a fuss about it and I don't think we need to even lightly suggest a nuclear strike against Iran to prevent them from having nukes (no options off the table, right?). Besides, I think when they get close enough, I think Israel will probably take care of things themselves.

Video interview of McCain with CBS's Katie Couric.  
Some of the more interesting quotes: Speaking of Obama, McCain states, "He would rather lose a war than lose a campaign," "Obama does not understand the challenges we face," "He just is wrong and has been wrong about the issues."

China seeks to repress freedom of speech as much as possible shortly before the Olympic Games. They are arresting "internet dissidents" (people that are probably not unlike the average blogger). I love the fact that Ben Blanchard of Reuters says in their article that China is doing it "to ensure the Games go smoothly." I don't know what about throwing people in jail and restricting freedom of speech encourages a smooth running of the games, but apparently Reuters feels like it does. Also, China is cracking down on the types of advertising it's allowing. I can't deny I like the fact they're trying to take out a lot of the smut and filth that is advertising, but yet again, that whole freedom of speech thing still lingers (not that that even remotely exists in China).

Man arrested for taking 42 cents from a mall fountain.

Man from environmental group Plane Stupid (very appropriate name) attempts to superglue himself to the British PM.

Wireless HD in the works. This should be pretty cool.

Economists feel like the stock market would do better under McCain than Obama.

Carson Palmer alienates his fan base. I respect Palmer for his loyalty and hatred of a team that is somewhat of a rival for USC, however, I can't deny the fact that this was a moronic thing to do. I saw them talk about the interview on ESPN and couldn't believe how much he spoke out against Ohio State when he knows that his fans are Ohio State fans. Sometimes when you're in positions like that, you can let yourself be known, but you gotta be a little PC about it.

Woman attacked by bear gets away and drives to the fire department.

Is Anti-Catholicism Dead? This article explores it. Seems like a kind of hokey  question to me because I'd say mainstream they really are, but there are still some people out there with these kinds of sentiments.

Good work Mayor Bloomberg and Mr. Gates, hopefully you can help stop the world from smoking. Of course, not to sound unappreciative, but $500 million between the two of these moguls sure doesn't seem like much.

Some quick blurbs about the Facebook conference in San Fran.

David Zucker is creating a right leaning political satire to combat against Michael Moore.

Jeff Nielson's Just Watch the Fireworks: Jeff takes a closer look at Hancock and it ain't pretty.

Ian McConaughey's Satire Report: Ian talks about a prank he played on his brother and friend. I thought it was funny. If you don't, then click on the Strongbad link he posted and you should find that funny.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm Batman

Well or at least I kind of feel like I am. It's almost an enabling sense of power I have having been one of the early one's to see the midnight showing of The Dark Knight. So I have been having about a bizillion people ask me what I thought, so I submit for you, my imaginary reading public, my review of Batman (of course maybe some of my friends might actually read this blog post because I'm not going to tell everybody and their grandfather what I thought of the movie, just reference them to this).

Ok so for those of you who are ADHD and can't stand to read my in depth blog analysis or are concerned that I might some how ruin the movie for you, I'll give you a quick one over on my quick impressions of it. It's an amazing movie. I can't see hardly anybody not enjoying it, although portions of it are certainly not for the faint of heart. I did really appreciate the fact that while it does deal with some rather gruesome, adult, mutilations it didn't really show any of that and you still very much got the point. I think my conversation with my roommate Matt this morning pretty much sums it up as far as my outlook on the movie.

Matt: "So how many stars would you give it?"
Me: "Out of how many?"
Matt: "Ummmm, 7. No, 100. Lets do it like Rotten Tomatoes."
Me: "That's pretty hard to say because it was such a movie that I really need to see it again to fully be able to rate it."
Matt: "Yeah, like you need to resee it to fully appreciate and grasp everything about it?"
Me: "No, just there's certain things that I would have to review to see just how great it is or may not be. But on as a whole, I'd probably give it a 92."
Matt: "Wow, that good, huh?"
Me: "It's probably now a top 5 movie for me."

So there you have it, that's the abbreviated version. And if you're interested in more of what I have to say, please do read on, I'd love to hear from those of you who have viewed it and get comments as well. I'm going to do my best not to put any spoilers in there and I'm pretty confident I won't. If you read it and feel like I spoiled something for you, then by all means I'm sorry. That being said, if you're that concerned about having something spoiled for you, don't read the rest of this blog please. But if you're interested in my critical analysis of the movie and what to expect, I give you my in depth analysis of The Dark Knight.

Basically I give mad props to Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan. Their vision of what this movie could be is phenomenal. I've seen nothing like it. To be able to have the vision and ideas that created this is incredible. Now I don't know completely where the founding for all of this came, so I guess I should also give props to David S. Goyer who is credited as writing the story along with Christopher Nolan. And what exactly is the crux that this story rides upon? The vision that is The Joker. Now I must say The Joker is a bit different of a character than I've typically envisioned or seen him played as. He obviously would be an incredibly deranged individual and I think Jack Nicholson definitely did that in the Tim Burton Batman. And maybe Nicholson's Joker has just been entrenched in my mind. I'd definitely say Nicholson reminded me more of what The Joker was like in the cartoon. The Joker that they brought to life in Ledger is more like Osama Bin Laden meets a serial killer. It's down right disturbing and amazingly maniacal. In other words, the overall vision of what this movie is and the plot is hard to beat.

As far as characters, this is top notch as well. Obviously this was largely a repeat cast. Christian Bale returns as Batman. And of course the job he does is yet again fantastic. He plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne and Batman wonderfully. So often much of the real acting ability is found in his character Bruce rather than as the great Dark Knight. Bruce allows him to express his emotion and we see the public veil, or "mask" as described in the first movie, he wears for much of his public persona. Now, I do still have two complaints that arose originally in the first movie that are still displayed here. First, I think Bruce Wayne is portrayed too much as a playboy rather than a mature socialite. I guess there may be some argument that he is still developing into the grandiose public figure that Wayne eventually becomes, so I can live with it. Certainly we see a great maturing of Wayne in this roll not only since the first movie, but also as the movie progresses. He starts understanding more of his role in the world and how the Batman fits in as well. Second, the return of the "Batman voice." Look I understand realistically he's a guy who wants to hide his identity and such so it makes logical sense that he would somewhat hide his voice, plus there's the fact that he wants to sound rough and tough, but my goodness does this sound stupid! I was able to deal with it a lot better in this movie than in the first, but it really just still sounds rather ridiculous and I wish they'd give it up or figure out something better. I guess it beats Halle Berry in the first X-Men movie. All I have to say is I don't know where that accent came from, but it certainly wasn't Africa. Overall though, the acting by Bale is superb and the creation of the character that is Batman and Wayne is top notch.

Now for the Joker. Now a lot of what I have to say about him I mentioned earlier. He is what makes the story more than anything else. He's cunning, maniacal, disturbing, and brilliant. Now I'm going to say something that I'm sure is going to upset many, but I feel rather strongly about. I don't feel like this was a brilliant performance for Ledger and so he definitely does not deserve the Oscar that he most assuredly will receive. Don't get me wrong, I by no means think it was a bad performance. I just don't know that it was anything especially over the top and unique mostly because I feel like the real genius of the Joker was found more in the script and the crazy actions he takes. I had a friend mention all of the fine little twitches or licking of lips that he does, but frankly that just didn't add much to the character for me. It was the genius plans, lines, and insane actions that really made him who he was for me and not the little fine points. Which brings up another thing I loved about the Joker: he was an amazing foil against Batman. The only thing I can even compare that to is Shakespeare's The First Part of King Henry IV in the comparison between Prince Hal and Hotspur. The Joker's motivation is completely driven by the existence of the Batman and his only motivation is to go step for step against the Batman. Without the Batman, the Joker recognizes he has no need for existence and thus the Batman really completes him. It's phenomenal the way this is drawn into the script and the profound truths spoken by the Joker relative to this concept. This is truly a magnificent character that is so amazingly unique to any movie I've ever seen. It's a shame Ledger is no longer alive because it would be fascinating to see a repeat performance in a later movie, even though that maybe would be unlikely.

Michael Caine returns with his role as the loyal butler Alfred. I don't know that I have much to say here. Michael Caine is a brilliant, versatile actor and so of course he comes through with another great performance. He still has his quick little one liners that have the sharp wit we're used to from the first movie and he brings back a lot of the great ability he demonstrated then.

Rachel Dawes role was taken over by Maggie Gyllenhaal. If there is one real weakness to the movie, I would say it is found here in Gyllenhaal. I didn't feel like she did a good job with the roll. She is a character so devoid of emotion and feeling it was really rather pathetic. How could this character that is supposed to have such a great love for Bruce be so stoic at almost all times? Also, Gyllenhaal looked awful. I by no means intend to discount her beauty or anything of the sort, but throughout the movie she seemed to lack any sort of attractiveness and she looked like she hadn't slept in weeks. She frankly just did not look very flattering at all. I don't find Katie Holmes to be a particularly attractive woman, but at least I can say as Rachel Dawes she looked quite lovely. I understand the ability of makeup artists and such and it just surprises me that they made (or maybe allowed) Gyllenhaal to look so grisly rather than making her out to be an absolutely beautiful woman.

Gary Oldman returns for his role as Lt. James Gordon. I really have to give Oldman props. They made Gordon a much more major character in this movie and I feel like he really comes through in his performance. We see a bit more of the real ability he has as Gordon shows a rather varied amount of emotion and he's displayed as a bit more intelligent and torn character than he was in the first. In the first movie, he was almost a nuisance and didn't seem to add a ton to the movie. However, he is a quite useful ally in Batman's war on crime in this movie and just kind of a clever character in general.

Morgan Freeman also returns as Lucius Fox. As far as this, I almost think it's kind of like Michael Caine. Morgan Freeman is a phenomenal actor. I don't think much beats his role in The Shawshank Redemption which certainly shows off much of his ability. Fox has a bit more of a role in this movie than the last, but really I don't know that we see much of anything too different from the last movie. Freeman does a great job and the character has a nice return.

Finally, there is Harvey Dent played by Aaron Eckhart. I really think Eckhart stole the show as far as a supporting character. You see such a wide scale of emotion and such an interesting character. Also, as far as many of the "heros" go in the movie, Dent has some of the greatest lines to share. Dent is a fantastic character that represents so much of the good and truth that Batman seeks to bring about in Gotham. Eckhart does a fantastic job of making you really believe the passion that drives Dent to clean up the streets and make Gotham a better place. I suppose to save any sort of spoiler I won't delve into the torn character that Dent really is, but certainly it is amazing how Eckhart is able to show some of that dark side that lies deep inside Dent.

The cinematography is phenomenal. Nolan has such a wonderful ability with the camera and the lighting to really see into the souls of the individuals he films and immerse you in the storyline and action. Also, it really is such a beautiful cinematic experience. I wish I could explain more about this, but frankly I'm not even remotely an expert on this kind of thing and I think this is something you learn to notice and appreciate with additional viewings.

So yes, overall, a phenomenal movie. I think one of the most interesting things about the movie overall was its sharing of profound truths. Many of the superhero/comic book movies have much to share as far as the profound truths shared with or by the hero. That is one of the biggest reasons I love the Spiderman movies, they probably set the standard as far as that and I don't know that anyone else has quite matched it. I must say that was one of the strongest things I liked about Batman Begins was the sharing of those great, profound, inspirational truths. Dark Knight definitely returns the salvo as far as that goes, but certainly with a dark twist. I really didn't find hardly any inspirational, profound truths that were shared in this movie, however, that's not to say it was devoid of those profound truths. On the contrary, the villians seemed to share the majority of those profound truths, however, they were obviously a lot more dark, cynical, and sinspirational. And I think that really captures so much of what this movie is comparatively. While Dark Knight has often been a title applied to Batman, it really is such an apt name for this movie due to its comparatively dark nature complexities. If you're looking for a happy joyful movie, this movie is certainly not it. However, there is enough of a hope given through the character that is Batman and the way he rallies much of the city so as to give it that finalistic happy ending that really doesn't leave you feeling the emptiness and depravity that is found in the core of the many villains.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

News For July 16, 2008

So I've really been neglecting my blog and haven't done much of anything in for forever, so I figured I'd try to get back into it. I figured there was no better place to start as far as that than a return to my Drudgieness. Without further ado, here's my interesting news picks for July 16th:

The city of Denver seeks to ameliorate their homeless problem by sending them to the movies. Too bad I don't think they had quite the same idea the mayor of Chattanooga did when The Pursuit of Happyness was released.

Democrats seek censorship in the House of Representatives and the Republicans are pro-Freedom of Speech? Only in the bizarre blogosphere.

Hate spam? This spammer certainly paid for his emails.

Mike Allen's Playbook. Always an interesting read.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund takes their shots at John McCain. -  I don't usually add much personal commentary to most of what I post, but this one I couldn't resist. I couldn't believe the irresponsibility of an add such as this. Frankly, as the video shows, he admits it's something that he doesn't have much of an opinion about. And why should he? Is it really such a tremendous issue that a candidate for President of the United States of America should be overly concerned about whether or not insurance companies pick up the tab on birth control? I think the President and the Federal Government has bigger issues to deal with than something as insignificant as this. Really this seems like some anti-McCain people taking their cheap shots at him to keep him out of the White House (and no, that is not me saying I endorse John McCain).

Schism amongst the Anglicans over gay clergy.

Obama proclaims his presidency will protect the nation against the dangers of "fighting the last war".  -  This one I couldn't help but resist speaking a little bit about as well. Frankly, the idea of any major nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons threat is so tremendously remote that it is not something a president needs to be overly focused on. The military, intelligence agencies, and FBI all already go to great lengths to prevent this kind of thing (which is highly unlikely to occur anyway) so why do we need the President to worry about it too? I don't think he has any decisions that are crucial to be made concerning this. Obviously it's something to be aware of and to try to prevent, but what does Obama hope to do? He acts like he's in such a hurry to get our troops home I can't picture him using military action to prevent anything like this. So what, is he going to beg them not to use these kinds of weapons against us? The fact of the matter is, the people who are crazy enough to use this kind of stuff won't get this kind of stuff and the people who have this kind of stuff aren't crazy enough to use it on the U.S., so relax. It will be okay.

Sad murder-suicide in Missouri.

The best of the best when it comes to diets.

A pretty smart 11 year old fights speeders.

I haven't posted anybody's blogs on here before, but I had some interesting posts from some of my friends that I thought I'd share (also some humorous ones). I hope you enjoy.

opinuendo* by Jack Jared Waters
Ghost Ride the Whip -  I wasn't familiar with this until I read this post and boy was I pleased I did. It's hysterical and I hope you enjoy.

Space Cadet Glow by Jack Jared Waters and his friend Jenn
Kind of a goofy post about Phantom Texts. I thought it was entertaining and something I could relate to.

Satire Report by "Michael Powers" (that's actually a pseudonym)
Interesting post on Obama's inflammatory comments about his grandmother. There has been some excellent discussion in the comments section relative to it as well, although I feel like a lot of it turned into more of a case of attacking and getting off the topic at hand. But still informative and worth the read.

Exploration of the ideas of power and confidence.

Funny post about Peter Pan.

Anyway, feel free to post comments about any of this or just tell me what you enjoyed.