Thursday, March 20, 2003


        Rick Leventhal, another embedded Foxnews reporter is claiming the First Marine Division is entering Iraq. Also rumors of certain commanders of the Republican Guard are interested in surrendering.

1st Marines


        Greg Kelly, an embedded Foxnews reports that the 3rd Infantry Division reports artillery fire. Also more targets of opportunity are being attacked in Baghdad.

3rd Infantry Division


        Antipodean blogger/journalist Tim Blair was listening to talk radio and was surprised by the number of pro-liberation callers ABC. The last call he describes is particularly pertinent.

        The [call] came from an older woman named Jill. Her family had migrated to Australia after WWII. "I wish we'd had politicians in the 1930s with the guts of Tony Blair and John Howard," she said, her voice catching slightly. "Why?" asked the host.

        She answered through a rush of tears. "Because then I'd have a lot more relatives."

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


May G-d bless our Armed Forces and defend them as they liberate Iraq and destroy its totalitarian regime and evil leaders.


(1 point ref)

        One of the nicest things about living in a major metropolitan area are the cultural opportunities that one can just not get in the hinterlands, or even smaller cities: museums, concerts, theater and movies. It is a real pleasure to be able to eschew the lowest common denominator, intelligence insulting, would-be blockbusters soulless mall multiplex to catch interesting flicks at the art house.

        So, Sunday night I went to the 'The Coolidge Corner Theater' to see a presentation of several of the Oscar nominated shorts subjects. I meant it to be a date. However, the lady did not make it and did not inform me until long after.

        I recovered. Don't worry. On to the program. The Academy has three categories for short subjects; animated, live action and documentaries. The program included all the animated shorts, and three of the five live action nominees. The last item was the sole documentary, 'Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks'

        These features are given short shrift by the Academy and ABC. It seems as though they do everything to distract the viewers from seeing the millisecond of clips they show. I know the camera dollies are cool, but do we really need to zoom around as these artists' hard work is playing for a brief moment on the screen. I know the audience is not paying attention. Or maybe they're only interested in the odd choices of announcers for these segments. But, still, these guys deserve respect.

        Frankly, the pre-Oscar hour would be better dedicated to these flicks, rather than Babwa Wawwa's inane celebrity suck-ups.

        Anyhow, here are my reviews:

Animated Shorts.

        Some years I have been known to care more about this field than Best Picture. Past winners in this category have included giants like Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Nick Park and Walt Disney. The past few years CGI has taken over the field. Three of the five entries are computer generated. Interestingly two of the entries are from major studios and are available on DVD.
  • Katedra
    (The Cathedral): Directed by Tomek Baginski. Poland. A wanderer in a wasteland on an alien planet enters a bizarre cathedral like structure, reminiscent of the Mines of Moria designed by H.R. Giger. Based on a story by Jacek Dukaj. The computer animation was gorgeous, but, the story was predictable. I am not sure what statement they were trying to make, but the flick did not, ultimately, have much of an impact.

  • The Chubbchubbs!: Directed by Eric Armstrong. USA. A hapless extraterrestrial janitor at the 'Ale E Inn' (groan) has to shelves his dreams of singing stardom because THE CHUBBCHUBBS ARE COMING! This cartoon is proves my dictum that even a dumb, corny, gag, when well delivered, is hilarious.. The Chubbchubbs! is chock full of goofy SF related sight gags. The computer animation is not as polished as Pixar products, but it's still pretty good
    Available on the Men in Black II DVD.

  • Das Rad (The Wheel): Directed by Chris Stenner, Avrid Uibel and Heidi Wittlinger. Germany. Two rocks watch mankind's progress from their extended perspective. The workmanship was stunning, especially because the animation was stop motion and not computer generated. It was fairly clever and nice change of pace from CGI. But the message was fairly predictable.

  • Mike's New Car: Directed by Peter Docter and Roger Gould. The gruesome twosome from Monsters, Inc. are back as Mike shows off his new car to his friend. Probably the odds on favorite to win the Oscar, but is is not as good either technically, or storywise, as 'For the Birds which earned the Oscar for Pixar last year. Both shorts are available on the Monsters, Inc. DVD.

  • Mt. Head. Directed by Koji Yamamura. Japan. The only traditional cell animated movie of the group, this bizarre flick is definitely not what we would associate with anime. It tells the story of a stingy man who, after eating cherry stones, finds a tree growing from his head. The story veers rapidly from the grubby to the utterly surrealistic. The movie obviously parodies traditional Japanese storytelling, making me regret not being able to get all the jokes. Because of its foreignness, Mt. Head is the darkest of dark horses in a contest adjudicated by the middlebrows of LA-LA land.

Live Action.

        Only three of the five were screened- all from Europe and two from the Axis of Weasel. Interestingly, both of the 'weasel land' films were less than 12 minutes, combined. Both were essentially single punchline tales that drew comedy from miscommunication.
  • J'attendrai le Suivant... (I'll Wait for the Next One): Directed by Philippe Orreindy. France. A young man stands up on a crowded Metro car and announces to a seemingly indifferent world that he is looking for love. A pleasant piece of fluff, this light comedy, while laugh inducing, is utterly forgettable.
  • Der er en Yndig Mand (This Charming Man): Directed by Martin Strange-Hansen. Denmark. Another romantic comedy, but with slightly deeper meditations on identity and ethnicity. Lars Hansen, an unemployed bookkeeper has discovered that Ida, a girl he used to tease back in school, is teaching Danish to immigrants. Unfortunately his ID number has been confused with a Pakistani immigrant named El Hassan. Thoughtful hilarity ensues. My money is on this one of the three I watched. The Academy voted for The Accountant last year, which indicates to me that they like the slightly longer , more complex stories. While the plot device of assumed identity is older than Shakespeare, it still felt fresh and witty in this flick.
  • Fait d`Hiver (Fact of Winter AKA Gridlock): Directed by Dirk Beliën. Belgium. A professional, trapped in traffic during a snowstorm tries his new cellphone to call home. This stripped down, darkly comic flick takes an old gag and runs with it effectively and brutally.

        The last entry was the sole documentary of the evening, Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks, which told the story of the seamstress and activist who helped spark the turning point of the civil rights movement. This retelling used re-enactments, archival footage and narrators (including grandchildren of the participants). Mighty Times has its moments, but the too-clever-by-half style unsubtle style overwhelms and bludgeons its strong subject matter. A sparse, unflashy documentary is more effective. The audience should be regarded as intelligent enough to draw its own conclusions.

        Reportedly, Mighty Times will be shown on HBO. For all its flaws, it is still worth checking out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003


        The amazing Meryl Yourish declared Saturday 'Eat an Animal for Peta Day,' in reaction for the veggie flakes' stunningly tactless and obscenely offensive ad campaign trying to co-opt the Holocaust. She has been collecting menus from that day. So here's mine. Breakfast was egg whites and lox. Lunch, regrettably was vegetarian. (I was on the slopes of Killington and the only Atkins friendly food was a salad... Well, there was something else, but I did not want to spoil dinner.

        Supper was chicken soup, corned beef and home made turkey chili, made by yours truly, with a little prepackaged help.

Monday, March 17, 2003


        I live near an abortion clinic. No, I'm not going into Roe v. Wade. My former girlfriend claimed she wanted to slug me after why I said that decision was bad law. (I am pro choice, as a matter of public policy, but I'd rather the decision be made by appropriate entities- state legislators. I am also a damn hypocrite for getting into the abortion issue after saying I'd avoid it, but that's another matter.)

        Now, this clinic has spray-painted a half-circle eighteen feet around the door. Anti-abortion protesters, who occasionally show up with their gruesome photos and religious tracts, are not allowed inside Every time I see that spray painted fluorescent orange line, I think to myself 'now leaving America,' 'The First Amendment ends here,' or similar uncharitable thoughts. In contrast, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in the case of Benefit v. Cambridge, has ruled that the First Amendment protects beggars pestering people trying to enter Harvard Square convenience stores.

        The reason I bring this up is as an introduction to another telling of Political Correctness AKA Pinko McCarthyism on Campus. The University of Maryland has magnanimously consented to allow free speech in two whole locations on campus. While that seems to make the Terrapins more enlightened than others in academe's bestiary,

        [University spokesman George L.] Cathcart noted that the university allowed students to hold a rally protesting war in Iraq that drew about 500 people to McKeldin Mall yesterday. McKeldin Mall is not one of the two areas reserved for public speech under the university policy being challenged by the ACLU, and Cathcart said he believes the area is regulated under another policy.
        ACLU officials seized on the discrepancy. "The university's willingness to close its eyes when it's a highly public demonstration leads to the inevitable problem of selective enforcement," said staff attorney David Rocah, noting that other student groups, including environmental activists and supporters of former presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., have been prevented from marching or leafleting on the mall.

        Oopsie. Looks like the Free Speech for Me, And Not For Thee mentality remains the order of the day for the American Left and liberalism. For example, some 'peace lovers' in California destroyed a 9-11 memorial. (via LGF Meanwhile, listeners to NPR (AKA National Pinko Radio) are furious when the other side is presented. (Via Andrew Sullivan) How dare they present other views! Don't they know the way it's supposed to be? You present the Palestinians attacking the Jews, then the Israelis who attack their own government.

        Now that I have brought up NPR, I need to mention something I heard on 'Fresh Air' Saturday. No, I did not listen to NPR willingly. I was in the back seat of the car and my Rio Volt's batteries were running low. Anyhow, the commentator was talking about the word 'protest.' Being a NPR chatterer, he could not resist an utterly unnecessary dig at conservatives, who complained about Barry McGuire's song 'Eve of Destruction.' They used the Fairness Doctrine to protest. The commentator, Geoffrey Nunberg, remarked with typical NPR snideness, "This was before they realized they could live without it." Well, the liberals pine for the Fairness Doctrine, because, as usual they can't handle the marketplace. (Which is why NPR is subsidized. But that's a furious rant for another day.)

        It is no secret that the left in the institutions it controls attempts to create a monolithic ideological culture. Some people have made a good career out of exposing it. The reason is why does current liberalism is so intolerant towards those who disagree? I blame the 60s. Yeah. That's my default position on almost anything, but hear me out. First, as David Horowitz would say, the Left snatched the banner of liberalism. Instead of Scoop Jackson liberals, you had Eugene McCarthy times who were far more disposed to empathize with the Warsaw Pact than their own country. The current left retains the totalitarian instincts of its former Soviet mentors/role models.

        The other problem is that, as the terminology of the day went, they made the political personal. They internalize their ideology to such a degree they can not imagine anyone on the opposite side of the aisle being a decent human being. They can not agree to disagree rationally. If you do not hold their views, you are evil. They see their opponents as warmongers, racists, the avaricious and vile. Such monsters have no right to speak, or if they can not be silenced, must not be taken seriously.

        Of course when you make the political so personal, every defeat is all the more painful. Their desperation to MAKE A DIFFERENCE has been driving them over the edge, with promises to commit acts of sabotage and violence. Hysteria rises in proportion to impotence, and the ensuing ugliness ensures irrelevance. So by trying to get others to shut up, they make those who disagree more attractive. The vicious circle continues.

        Thank goodness.


        Bush said what needed to be said with no padding or fuss. Vast improvement over the last press conference. Bush does have a talent to cut through nonsense. Too bad he did not use it this winter while the Axis of Weasel played its delaying game on behalf of their client. Well, no matter. This is endgame for Saddam and the UN. Neither will be missed.

        The most important part of the speech, IMO, was the warnings to the Iraqi soldiers and commanders.