Saturday, May 31, 2008

"... there is a lot of sex and nudity in the movie."

It is bizarre to see a review of Sex and the City here, but not entirely unexpected.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"I always have a plan."

Tonight it's my plan to see the finale of the explosive fourth season of Lost, entitled "There's No Place Like Home." The Oceanic Six will come together and leave the island, but what has happened to Locke, Sawyer, Juliet, Bernard, Rose, Jin, Claire, and the other nameless Lostaways that don't make it back to civilization? Why is Claire hanging out in Jacob's cabin with her dead father? Well, we'll find out what the producers want us to find out.

As usual, we've been promised an explosive finale. It's hard to see how they will top last year's "Through the Looking Glass," when we learned that Jack and Kate made it off the island. Since then, we've seen more flashforwards then we have flashbacks. Will there be a new wrinkle to all the flashes, or will it be something else entirely?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

the shot of the scene

Here is an in-depth look at Indy's confrontation with Belloq in a Cairo bar. Spielberg shows his genius.

Really, is there a better dressed and more debonair villain in the cinematic world than René Belloq? Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter tried, but didn't succeed in quite the same way. Speaking of Lecter, I'd much rather bump into him in a dark alley than this guy.

Look at me! I'm blogging!

Some people blog purely to get attention. Can you believe it? I mean, seriously...

Right now I'm watching The Young and The Restless on the the Soap channel. I guess I started watching it way back in high school, because my mother watched it. She watched most of the ones on CBS - Y&R, The Bold and the Beautiful, and As The World Turns. She used to watch Guiding Light, but I don't think she does much these days.

So back to Y&R. Of all the characters I find downright frustrating (paging Brad, the houseboy-turned-executive...), I would have to say Nikki is probably the biggest one. I mean, what is she thinking? She only agreed to elope with David Chow because she learned that her former husband Victor, to whom she's been married at least twice and their love affair is one of the most famous in soapdom, has recently become engaged to Sabrina, a French woman at least one-third his age. He's displaying classic signs of using (his drug of choice is anything he can place a bet on), but she's completely ignoring it. She didn't even have him sign a pre-nup, that's to prove how trusting she is of him. The woman has been through a lot, even for a soap opera character. She should really know better.

Anyway, I thought I'd write that just to put down something random. After all, I haven't blogged for a couple days and I can't just put up a link to something else, you know?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

isn't it a little childish?

Pastor endorses McCain. McCain praises pastor and accepts endorsement. Media brings light to controversial statements made by pastor. After waiting around a bit, McCain un-accepts pastor's endorsement. Pastor then un-endorses McCain.

How silly can you get?

AND: I think Bill is saying stuff like this because he continues to feel guilt for all the women with whom he had relationships that were inappropriate.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

Let's get the whole age thing out of the way, okay? Harrison Ford was 65 years old when he took up the whip and fedora of Indiana Jones, perhaps his most famous screen character, for the fourth time. There has been some concern about how his age would affect his ability to handle - and make believable - all the stuntwork that Indiana Jones movies seem to demand. After all, he had to fight Nazis twice his size and slide in the dirt behind a truck in Raiders.

Rest assured - Indy is more than capable of handling Russians half his age, maybe a third his age. He jumps across the beams of a warehouse ceiling. He leaps from car to car to pummel some bad guys. He figures out the best way to evade a nuclear blast. He still knows how to use his whip for maximum effectiveness. He even takes off his shirt - something he didn't do in Last Crusade, when he was merely 46 years old - to show off a chiseled look.

The plot, revolving around a crystal skull that defininitely does not appear human, is a bit thinner than the three previous movies. There's a lot more exposition this time around, presumably because the audience knows less about crystal skulls than it does about the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant. Without giving away too much, I'll just say that the ending is reminiscent of two previous Spielberg films - if you've seen Crystal Skull already, you know which ones I mean.

The much-discussed return of Marion Ravenwood to the Indy saga is indeed welcome. She's the pluckiest and spunkiest female lead of the entire series, the perfect antidote to the chilliness of Elsa Schneider and the whininess of Willie Scott. Her voice may be less husky than it was in Raiders, but her spirit has certainly remained the same. And, yes, there is certainly a connection between Indy, Marion, and her son Mutt, played by Shia LaBeouf.

If you want a film that's intricately plotted with a firm grounding in reality, I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere. If, however, you are seeking a thrill ride of a film that fits perfectly into the Indiana Jones canon, then Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is for you. If you're not yet convinced, let me offer two final words: giant ants.

an unaskable question (for Christians, that is)

Anne Jackson asked the original question. Josh Claybourn and Mark Byron picked up on it.

Do any of my family members who visit here dare to answer?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones, past and present

Here's the trailer for the original:

See? Got you hooked all over again...

I have a few thoughts about what I expect from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which I'm going to see tonight ---

1. The film usually opens with a mini-adventure for Indy. Raiders had Indy trekking through Peru, searching for a gold idol and ultimately losing it to rival Belloq. Temple of Doom had Indy zooming through the streets of Shanghai. Last Crusade was a flashback to Indy obtaining, and then losing, a golden cross that once belonged to Spanish explorer Cortez; we also saw how Indy acquired his hat, his whip, and his fear of snakes. Will Crystal Skull follow the same formula, or will we see something new?

2. I'm glad, glad, glad to see the return of Marion Ravenwood, and I'm not alone. Although she was constantly in situations that required Indy to save her, she wasn't the stereotypical damsel-in-distress that we have seen in earlier films like this. She was spunky, cool, and totally willing to defend herself ("I don't know what kind of people your used to dealing with, Herr Mac, but nobody tells me what to do in my place.") While I enjoyed Willie Scott when Temple of Doom first came out (give me a break - I was 13 years old), she hasn't held up well over time. She screamed about riding an elephant, she wailed about breaking a nail, and she's an all-around irritant to the movie. Elsa Schneider was the most gorgeous of the three love interests, but she also proved to be selfish and complicit with evil men.

3. I wonder what the fate of Cate Blanchett's character, Irina Spalko, will be. Indy's rivals don't fare well at all. Dietrich and Toht literally melted when exposed to the power of the Ark; Belloq simply exploded. Mola Ram fell off a cliff and was eaten by ferocious crocodiles. Walter Donovan drank from a false Grail, aged 100 years in 10 seconds, and turned into goo. Elsa fell down a pit trying to retrieve the Grail. Will Irina meet an equally disturbing end?

4. Indy has not been able to hold on to the main "Maguffin" of each film. The Ark of the Covenant is packed in a crate, stored in a warehouse filled with seemingly millions of other crates. The Sankara Stone returns to the village from whence it was stolen. The Grail stays in the Canyon of the Crescent Moon. Will Indy get to keep the crystal skull?

Just a few hours more...

Update: Go here for a blog-a-thon of (almost) all things Indy.

every vote to count?

She wants to come off as "Al Gore redux" when she's talking about wanting the votes from Florida and Michigan to "count," but I don't see it as working for her. Was she singing that same tune when the Florida and Michigan Democrats were first told their votes wouldn't be added because they went against the DNC and held early primaries? I don't recall that song at all, and do you know why? She was singing another one, in unison with Obama and Edwards.

If Florida and Michigan had gone Obama's way, she wouldn't care one whit about them. She certainly wouldn't be saying that America = Zimbabwe.

Jonathan Chait writes:
This gambit by Clinton is simply an attempt to steal the nomination. It's obviously not going to work, because Democratic superdelegates don't want to commit suicide. But this episode is very revealing about Clinton's character. I try not to make moralistic characterological judgments about politicians, because all politicians compromise their ideals in the pursuit of power. There are no angels in this business. Clinton's gambit, however, truly is breathtaking.

If she's consciously lying, it's a shockingly cynical move. I don't think she's lying. I think she's so convinced of her own morality and historical importance that she can whip herself into a moralistic fervor to support nearly any position that might benefit her, however crass and sleazy. It's not just that she's convinced herself it's okay to try to steal the nomination, she has also appropriated the most sacred legacies of liberalism for her effort to do so. She is proving herself temperamentally unfit for the presidency.

Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter dies in auto accident

It's hard to think about what God is doing when this kind of thing happens:
The girl, Maria, was hit in the driveway of the family's home Wednesday afternoon by a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by her teenage brother, said Laura McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The brother, whose name and exact age weren't available, apparently did not see the girl, McPherson said. No charges are expected.

"It looks like a tragic accident," she said.

Several family members witnessed the accident, which happened in Williamson County just south of Nashville. The girl died later at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, hospital spokeswoman Laurie Holloway said.

Prayers are for the Chapman family at this time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

yahoo! picks "20 greatest movie creatures"

You have to admit, the list has a pretty wide range, from creatures new (the minotaur from the just released Prince Caspian) and old (the original King Kong). I guess Jabba the Hutt is a fair choice from the Star Wars universe, but I would have chosen Yoda because he's a richer and more complex character and he has a lot more screen time throughout the entire series. I'm pleased to see two Harryhausen creations, the skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts and Medusa from Clash of the Titans, among the others. I suspect that Smaug from the upcoming The Hobbit will replace the dragon from Eragon.

The only creature I find truly frightening is the Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth. See what I mean?

Monday, May 19, 2008

reviews for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

The movie of the summer opens in just a few days. I plan to see it with some friends, and hopefully talk about it here sometime afterwards. Reviews are already pouring in, and although there are some who didn't like it, I don't think negative critiques will make a difference at the box office. Indy is, and always has been, for the fans. Even Raiders was made for fans of the action/adventure genre; it's just that the film was such a quality work that the critics loved - and still love - it.

Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars (out of 4): "I can say that if you liked the other Indiana Jones movies, you will like this one, and that if you did not, there is no talking to you. And I can also say that a critic trying to place it into a heirarchy with the others would probably keep a straight face while recommending the second pound of sausage." You'll have to read the full review to see why Ebert's talking about sausage.

Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave it a B-: "In this revival of the Indiana Jones franchise, everything is new and nothing is new. The movie's legacy may simply be the melee that ensues when Spielberg cracks the whip and moviegoers scurry for tickets."

Jennie Yabroff of Newsweek calls the film's plot "particularly unnecessarily hokey and complex," and "Indy World is a place you can visit again and again, where nothing ever really changes, and, as this latest tour affirms, after two hours you'll be quite ready to go home." Read her full review with care: she reveals the relationship between Indy and new sidekick Mutt, which has been speculated upon for some time.

If Indy IV is a success (and there is no "if", really - it will be successful), Spielberg has said he will probably make more.

the only one with class

Literally. How weird to be the only one in the audience and your governor is speaking to you. Does he maintain eye contact? Does he look out at phantoms?

Victoria Day

Since I'm an American, I had no idea that today is a holiday celebrated by our friends in the North. Tim Challies has the scoop.
It was in 1845 that Canada’s Legislature first declared May 24, Queen Victoria’s birthday, a holiday. After Victoria’s death in 1901, Parliament passed an Act that established a legal holiday on May 24 in each year (or May 25 if May 24 fell on a Sunday) under the name Victoria Day. Since then, the birthday of each of the subsequent kings and queens has been celebrated on or around that same day. A later amendment to the Act of Parliament established the celebration of Victoria Day on the Monday preceding May 25. And this is why we celebrated Victoria Day today, even though it is only the 19th. While the official name of the holiday is Victoria Day, many Canadians refer to it as “May Twenty-Four.” The queen’s birthday has largely been forgotten and instead the day tends to mark the unofficial beginning of the summer season.

The traditional way to celebrate the day (or more often the whole weekend) is to head to a cottage or campground and to drink oneself into oblivion—a fairly popular Canadian pastime. For this reason the holiday has become known colloquially as “May two four.” (A “two four” is a Canadian term for a case of beer that contains, of course, twenty four bottles). For many Canadians it is the weekend they open their cottages after spending a winter away. The long weekend concludes with fireworks displays as soon as it is dark enough to see them. Many people find themselves unwilling or unable to remain awake after dark on Monday night, so it’s not unusual to find firework displays throughout the weekend. Some towns host “official” displays while in others neighbors get together and fire off their own. Victoria Day is one of only two days where Canadians tend to use fireworks (the other being July 1 or Canada Day).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

alien comparisons

I enjoy the writings of film critic Peter Chattaway, almost nearly as much as Roger Ebert's. In this piece, he compares Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to a classic Spielberg film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Friday, May 16, 2008

you've come a long way, Joker baby

The most notorious comic book villain is about to claim his spot in the sun.

Consider how far he has come, from this....

to this...

"Prince Caspian"

Jeffrey Overstreet has a roundup of links for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. It seems the movie is very different from C.S. Lewis' book.

Peter Chattaway reviewed the film for Christianity Today. He concludes:

Prince Caspian is a reasonably enjoyable and diverting bit of entertainment, and it may satisfy people who have been waiting for a worthy successor to the movie version of The Lord of the Rings but felt the previous Narnia movie wasn't quite it. And if it lacks Lewis' message, oh well, with any luck, it will turn people on to the book, which is where the real magic lies.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

maybe he should have ducked for cover...

Senator Obama has his own "Bosnian sniper fire" moment...

Of course, it will be interesting to see if this gets as much play in the MSM as Senator Clinton's "misspeaking" did.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

If you can move the island, where's the steering wheel?

Lost will show the first hour of the three-hour-long season finale "There's No Place Like Home" tomorrow night. So, sometime between now and next Thursday at 11:00 PM EST/10:00 PM CST, we will have learned the following:
  • how the Oceanic Six made it back to civilization
  • how Jack "rescued" Kate
  • why Sawyer chose to stay (if it really was a matter of choice)
  • how Kate decides to take Aaron with her
  • how Jin died (if he really did die)

Patrick Day at LA Times says we need to break out the hankies.

At the end of last week's "Cabin Fever," Locke claims that Christian Shepard told him to move the island. Strange as it may seem, Michio Kaku says it's possible.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Carville thinks Obama will get it

If your most loyal supporter says you ain't gonna get the nomination, do you really have a reason to stay?

Monday, May 12, 2008

the United Countries of Baseball

For the most part, this map seems right. It's hard to tell where central Indiana's loyalty lies. We have a pretty good mix, at least I think we do, of Reds and Cards fans, but I'm not sure we have that many Cubs fans. We have our triple-A Indians, of course, but they are affiliated with the Pirates and I've never met any gung-ho Pittsburgh fans around these parts.

Maybe my fellow Hoosiers who stop by here can offer their thoughts.

Joyce "Dottie" Rambo, 1934-2008

One of the legends of southern gospel music has passed away after a bus accident. Dottie Rambo was 74.
"She was a giant in the gospel music industry," said Beckie Simmons, Rambo's agent. "Dolly Parton recorded some of her songs."

Parton sent condolences to "everyone involved in this terrible tragedy."

"I know Dottie is in heaven in the arms of God right now, but our earth angel will surely be missed," Parton said in a statement. "Dottie was a dear friend, a fellow singer, songwriter and entertainer, and as of late my duet singing partner."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

a Texas wedding

The New York Times has photos of Jenna Bush's nuptials. The president called the wedding "spectacular."

Mad Pride

Persons with mental illnesses come together:
About 5.7 million Americans over 18 have bipolar disorder, which is classified as a mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Another 2.4 million have schizophrenia, which is considered a thought disorder. The small slice of this disparate population who have chosen to share their experiences with the public liken their efforts to those of the gay-rights and similar movements of a generation ago.

Just as gay-rights activists reclaimed the word queer as a badge of honor rather than a slur, these advocates proudly call themselves mad; they say their conditions do not preclude them from productive lives.

Mad pride events, organized by loosely connected groups in at least seven countries including Australia, South Africa and the United States, draw thousands of participants, said David W. Oaks, the director of MindFreedom International, a nonprofit group in Eugene, Ore., that tracks the events and says it has 10,000 members.

My mother

Here she is at age 19. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Happy Mother's Day!

If you don't have any flowers to give to your mom today, I'll let you have some of mine.

Originally uploaded by Good Brownie

Friday, May 9, 2008

Graceland photos from the web

I have more pictures of Elvis Presley's home to put up here, but there are lots of pictures of Graceland to be found in the internet. Though there aren't many, I particularly like the photos here. They have a certain artistic edge to them, which is fitting given the location.

Linky & Dinky have some photos which they claim to be of the closed-off second floor. I guess only Priscilla and Lisa Marie can verify if they are authentic, but they sure are in the same style of the rest of the home.

In July 1999, Rick and Jen Umali visited Graceland and took several photos. They paid $10 to tour the house. Nine years later, the ticket prices has almost tripled.

the grounds of Graceland

Here's another view of the entrance to Graceland. We were some of the last people to take the tour for the day, so fortunately there weren't any tourists around to block the view. As you can see, the shades on the second floor are drawn so no one can see inside. The second floor is blocked off to visitors and workers alike. Supposedly, only a few people, other than Priscilla and Lisa Marie, have seen the upstairs since Elvis' death. The audio tour guide said that the second floor was blocked off because Elvis didn't allow his guests upstairs.

This next photo is of the back portion of the home. I believe this is just outside the "jungle room."

Here is the pool, on the right side of the house (as you're looking at it from the street). My youngest daughter didn't understand why we couldn't let her go swimming.

Elvis apparently loved horses, and enjoyed keeping them on his property. I don't know if these two are related to the ones he kept.

This last photo is of the swingset Elvis bought for his little girl, Lisa Marie. I don't know if she has allowed her own children to come and give it a try.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Iron Man and the Bat Man

what everybody in the Christian blogosphere is (and should be) reading today

The Manifesto.
An Evangelical Manifesto is an open declaration of who Evangelicals are and what they stand for. It has been drafted and published by a representative group of Evangelical leaders who do not claim to speak for all Evangelicals, but who invite all other Evangelicals to stand with them and help clarify what Evangelical means in light of “confusions within and the consternation without” the movement. As the Manifesto states, the signers are not out to attack or exclude anyone, but to rally and to call for reform.

As an open declaration, An Evangelical Manifesto addresses not only Evangelicals and other Christians but other American citizens and people of all other faiths in America, including those who say they have no faith. It therefore stands as an example of how different faith communities may address each other in public life, without any compromise of their own faith but with a clear commitment to the common good of the societies in which we all live together.

For those who are Evangelicals, the deepest purpose of the Manifesto is a serious call to reform—an urgent challenge to reaffirm Evangelical identity, to reform Evangelical behavior, to reposition Evangelicals in public life, and so rededicate ourselves to the high calling of being Evangelical followers of Jesus Christ

primary delusions

The junior senator from New York said, "Full speed on to the White House." If she is referring to herself, she is clearly delusional. I've seen people admitted to the hospital for making these kind of statements. She lost North Carolina in a major way. She narrowly won Indiana with 2 percentage points, which she's calling a "tie" after their splitting of Pennsylvania and North Carolina. (Someone needs to tell her that it's no "tie.") And yet, she's acting like she's had some huge victory. Remember "It's the economy, stupid" slogan from Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign? The slogan for this year is "It's the delegate count, stupid."

Combined votes from Indiana and North Carolina:
  • Hillary Clinton: 1,296,194
  • Barack Obama: 1,506,557

Tim Russert said, "We now know who the nominee is." And he wasn't referring to Clinton. The nominee will not be without problems when he faces McCain in the fall - he will have lingering questions about his "experience" and "friends" like Jeremiah Wright that will demand answers.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

the Indiana Primary

Just like my fellow Hoosiers Doug and Vic, I did my civic duty and voted. I arrived at our voting center, the local elementary school, just before 10:00. There were about 20 cars parked outside the gymnasium door. Several signs for local candidates lined the grass along the pavement, but none were for Clinton or Obama. Two women and a man, perched like vultures just outside the gymnasium, asked me to vote for them for the local school board. I didn't tell them that I didn't really care whether they won or not, because my daughter goes to a private school. No need to be rude on such a fine morning.

'Twas no queue to delay me. I walked quickly to the table where two schoolmarm-ish ladies demanded proof of my identity. Naturally, I showed them my driver's license. They seemed adequately pleased, and I was given a ballot. I walked over to one of five small lecterns and made my choices. I had forgotten the people who wanted my vote for school council, so I did what I always do when I vote for categories I don't really care about: I pick whatever name sounds "the coolest."

Monday, May 5, 2008

let's go Outback/Chili's/Lonestar/Friday's tonight

The NYT has an article on something that must be anathema to the celebrated chefs of NYC: the chain restaurant. We are quite accustomed to them here in Indianapolis, and they've sounded the death knell for many locally-owned restaurants. I must admit, though, I completely enjoy the buffalo chicken sandwich at Max & Erma's.

What about you? Do you celebrate or curse the chains?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

how many Indianas are there?

John Edwards says there are two Americas, but he's got nothing on Monica Davey, who says there are three or four or possibly more Indianas.

Big Brown wins!

The Kentucky Derby, that is. Obviously, he's the one I was rooting for. Eight Belles, the filly, came in second, but was tragically injured and had to be euthanized.

Friday, May 2, 2008

the most exciting 2 minutes

Tomorrow is the first Saturday in May, and that means it's time for the Kentucky Derby. Most of the horses have unusual names - which seemes to be the tradition - but there is one that I especially like. I'll let you look at this list and figure out which one.

One of my goals in life is to attend the Derby, hopefully in the stands one day. We visited Louisville last summer, but we didn't go to Churchill Downs. We did visit the Brown Hotel to eat a "Hot Brown" and drink a mint julep. The drink was a tad bit sweet and I'm not sure if I'll ever order one again, but the julep has its admirers.

Update: If you wish, you can follow the live blog.

the beautiful people?

Pop culture mag People has published it's yearly list of the 100 Most Beautimous Persons Around, or something like that. Lots of "celebrities," natch. It's never been a magazine to focus on really important issues, but I think this kind of thing is a prime example of shallowness. Purely subjective, of course, and completely American. What's beautiful in one culture isn't necessarily beautiful in another. I've seen people who are far more beautiful - including The Wife - than the ones on this list.

Let's see what the Apostle Peter thought of external beauty. He wrote about it in the third chapter of his first letter:
Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
How many of the people on that list would fulfill Peter's standard of beauty?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Beale Street

I didn't just visit Graceland when I went to Memphis. We also spent an evening on Beale Street, a section of Memphis that's rich with African American history. We ate dinner with some of The Wife's relatives at this funky little blues place. I won't give you the name of the place, because it wasn't very good and they weren't going to play any music until several hours after we had left.

Here's another look at that guy in the red zoot suit. I wanted to talk with him about what he was wearing, but I wasn't sure how I would come across.

We did a lot of window shopping. Many of the stores had unusual names and signs.

No, we didn't go into Tater Red's. A little too creepy for the kiddies.

Graceland's kitchen

There is certainly a timeless quality to Graceland, but the most dated room is definitely the kitchen. It really does some that the 1970's pulled open the refrigerator, grabbed some grub, sat down, and just never really left.

I was tempted to pick up this vase, but I controlled myself. Besides, I didn't want to get arrested for trying to boost something from Elvis' place.

The appliances are really what make the room.

the Democratic primary season in 7 minutes

A brief history of the past year.