Thursday, March 30, 2006

Heart Of Fire

A Movie Review

I first became acquainted with the work of the British writer director duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger by watching a documentary on Technicolor. From the clips of their movies I saw I was immediately impressed by what they did with color, the hues and spectrum you'll find in a Powell/Pressburger film is like nothing else you've seen on screen. Last year I managed to find a copy of their Nuns in the Himalayas picture Black Narcissus. An interesting film its narrative didn't entirely work for me but I did get a good sense of the pairs unusual taste in stores and fantastic sets (filmed on a sound stage but a dead ringer for India). The films of theirs I've really wanted to see Stairway to Heaven (it's British title) and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (just released on DVD), were not available so I selected as my next Powell/Pressburger film The Red Shoes from 1948.

Set in London, Paris, and Monte Carlo The Red Shoes follows the rise (and fall) of a prima ballerina and her split allegiance between the love of a young composer (Marius Goring) and loyalty to an old mentor (Anton Walbrook). A kind of cross between Chaplins Limelight and Moulin Rouge with a near Anna Karenina ending, the film seems ahead of its time in that the subtext apears to be about a women's impossible choice between homelife and a career. Acclaimed ballet dancer Moria Shearer (who died earlier this year) was plucked off the London stage to play the lead role of Victoria Page, the first of mere handful of screen appearances for her. Succeeding as a new spin on the old Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale from which it was inspired, The Red Shoes is none-the-less most memorable for its surreal visuals and some of the most elaborate dance numbers ever put on film.

One Size Fits All

A Movie Review

Probably about a year ago I remember seeing a review for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants on Ebert and Roeper, in which the trusted reviewers stated the film was much 'smarter' then the average entry in its genera. So when a rented copy of this movie ended up in my house I consented to see it. The film follows four friends who share an unusually elastic pair of blue jeans over their summer vacation. Lena (Gilmore Girls Alexis Bledel) is spending her summer with her grandparents on a Greek island. Bridget (Blake Lively) whose mother recently committed suicide is at a soccer camp in Mexico. Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) who is staying home in Maryland is working at a Wal-Mart type store and attempting to make a documentary. Finally Carmen (America Ferrera) has traveled to South Carolina to stay with her semi-estranged dad (The West Wing's Bradley Whitford). At the start this film is far to much teenage girl (even given that most of the actresses are underplaying their age), but it does get better and acutely addresses some important issues in a way that is of relevance to its target audience. There are some surprisingly good performances in the film, highlighted by young Jenna Boyd as a leukemia stricken girl who is deceptively wise. So if your ever in a situation where you are asked to sit through some Hillary Duff Schlauk, I'd recommend suggesting this movie instead.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mountain Meadows: Two Conversations

A few weeks ago I happened to have two interesting conversations about the infamous Mountain Meadows massacre'. For those of you who are unfamiliar Mountain Meadows was a location in southern Utah in which a California bound wagon-train from Arkansas was massacred by a group of Mormon settlers and local Indians in 1857. If you take some time to look at this event you'll come to understand that it happened largely as the result of an unusual and unfortunate combination of circumstances that I will not get into at this point. Suffice it to say that Mountain Meadows is one of the most tragic and shameful incidents in LDS history.

Well as I was saying I had a few interesting conversations about this event the other week. The first was with my church history instructor at the local LDS Institute of religion. Our lesson on Mountain Meadows, to which I was looking forward out of curiosity as to how it would be presented, was pushed back a few days and as I wouldn't be there on that new date I talked to the instructor about the event after class. My main compliant was that we hear the story the Hauns Mill massacre multipal times each year, at which only about a dozen or so Mormons were killed, but most of the church membership knows little or nothing about he far worse happens at Mountain Meadows in which well over a hundred were killed. The instructor seemed fairly sympathetic to my concern.

Concurrent to this conversation we'd been having a British gentlemen stand outside our institute building most days attempting to proselyte LDS members out of the church and into evangelical Christianity. Though I hadn't realized he was employing this tactic before, soon after my 1st 'Mtn. Meadows' conversation I learned this man was using that event as a hook to his evangelistic efforts. The tactic apparently being to use this historical event to implant doubt into the mind of the Mormon receiver so as to make them more receptive to the evangelical message. I had a pleasant talk with him and acknowledged how bad the event was but that it was not representational of the LDS faith. With the exceptions of some rather violent disputes within and between polygamous off-shoots, there is no history of Mormon mass violence.

I bring this up because I feel it kind of situates me on the Mormon spectrum, often critical of
Mormon arrogance and understanding but firm with outside antagonists. I would like to use this posting to start up a new series called 'Mormon Questions', just post or email me a question about Mormonism and I will try and answer it in my own style on this blog. Let the discussion begin.


Not having the time or money for a 'real' spring break trip my friend Jackson and I made the three hour jaunt down to Jackpot Nevada. I can not really recommend Jackpot as a vacation destination, unless all you really want to do is gamble. I mean this is one sad town, five casinos on the strip and thats about all. No restaurants out of the casinos, only one gas station, no churchs, I didn't even think the town had a school until I saw one in a satellite image of the community. Worst of all the buffets don't open until 5 pm! Instead I ended up eating a very non-impressive steak, it was cheap but still non-impressive (and the vegetables tasted kind of weird). I spent five dollars and a bag of lose change on the slots, I think the most I made was about twenty cents. I did however have a run of breaking even on a video black-jack machine. All in all it was fun in a low budget kind of way, not counting the work I had to have done on my car in Twin Falls. In the absence of being able to recommend Jackpot the city I will recommend the 1950 comedy film The Jackpot staring Jimmy Stewart.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Caspar Weinberger Dead at 88

In Memory

Caspar Weinberger the unusually named pol who served as Secretary of Defense for most of the Reagan administration has died at the age of 88. You can learn more about Caspers tenure at Defense via this link.

I also would like to give a shout-out to the new centrist Kadima party for their victory in Israeli elections earlier today.

By The light Of The Past

A Movie Review

Based on Jonathan Safran Foer's much praised novel and directed by actor Liev Schreiber, Everything Is Illuminated stars Elijah Wood as a young American Jew searching the Ukraine for the women who saved his grandfathers life during World War II. While American cinema is heavy on holocaust remembrances and sentimental searches for family origins, I don't know if this kind of story has ever been attempted as a sort of quirky comedy-drama. Light in the first hour the movie becomes very serious there after and frankly ends on a disturbing note. Everything Is Illuminated comes across as an awkward translation of what was probably a good book.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Burning Ring of Talent

A Movie Review

Had it not been for the success last year of Ray (a film to which this movie has many similarities), and the unusual number of 'artie' nominees this year, I believe that James Mangolds Walk The Line would have done pretty well at the Academy Awards. Well I guess it didn't do to shabby at that, producing a well earned Oscar for its lead actress. In fact Reese Witherspoon is so sweet and charming in full southern bell mode as June Carter, you just about want to convert to country music.

This Johnny Cash bio-pic focuses on two important strains in the mans life in addition to the music. First we have the substance abuse problem. While an over-arching fondness for music was able to get Johnny through an apparently abusive childhood, the tragic death of his beloved older brother Jake, and the early years of a lackluster first marriage, he eventually turned to drugs while on tour in the mid-50's. The film shows in highly edited form Johnnys long journey with drugs, and while constantly popping pills seemed to have little effect at first it eventually left him in tatters from which he was lucky to recover. The whole recoup thing is perhaps dealt with over-quickly, but then again we did get more then our fair share of those scenes last year with Ray.

But it is Johnnys even longer courtship with singer June Carter that is the heart of the movie and center of his life. The relationship between these two is one of the more fascinating and engaging true love stores ever put to film. As mentioned before Witherspoon is wonderful as June, but Joaquin Phoneix looks and sounds remarkably like the late Mr. Cash and gives quite a performance. So much truth about the inter-relationship between the two lead characters is communicated in song that Walk The Line qualifies as one the best musicals of the decade (we've seen a slight increase in this genre lately so I'm acutely saying something). Solid all the way through and just right at about 2 hours and 15 minutes, Walk The Line is time well spent.

Richard Fleischer: 1916-2006

In Memory

Richard Fleischer, the son of animation pioneer Max Fleischer, who himself became an accomplished director has died at the age of 89. Fleischers credits cover a large variety of genres and include such films as Tora, Tora, Tora, Compulsion, Dr. Doolittle, and Soylent Green. Fleischer also worked for his fathers one time rival Walt Disney in making the classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea which stared James Mason. Richard was also instrumental in fostering a reconciliation between his father and Disney before the latter's death.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

On The Road Again

A West Wing Word

This weeks episode: "Welcome to Wherever You Are" We open on the tarmac of the St. Louis airport at 3:00 am 5 days before the election (the subtitles seem to be using 2005 dates, but I chose to ignore them because it doesn't make any sense). Santos and a small group of his inner circle are returning from a late rally at which Stevie Wonder performed. Once on the plane the crew go over the 'final' draft for the last five days of the campaign schedule. Santos seems to have a slight lead over Vinick but its still to close to call, the Congressman will be hitting the swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, California, and one other that I forget, repeatedly for the duration. While they would like to make one last visit to Florida where Vinick is up by 2 points they simply don't have the time. A decision is eventually made to send Mrs. Santos to Miami to speak before a Latina organization, something she anticipates being quite weird as she is blond, blue-eyed and defiantly not Hispanic.

Most of the episode deals with the stresses and strains of the campaign at T-minus 5 days to the election. Some of the many crises include: Coming up with an appropriate skit for the Congressman to participate in on the Leno show. Mrs. Santos comments in Florida that sound like an endorsement for the universal suffrage of felons (I think Matt said he only favors allowing non-violent offenders to vote). Constant photo ops and interviews with the press, including a well-read blogger. Santos roughly eight year-old son vomiting during a trick or treating photo-opp. A visit from Bon Jovi on a bus trip, and every one suffering from sleep deprivation.

During the course of the day Santos and Josh seem to reach a tenative agreement on nominees for Attorney General ( a Mr. Goodwin) and Secretary of State (Bartlet NSA Dr. Nancy McNally, read Condoleeza Rice). Also their is a lot of talk about the people they have out stumping for the candidate which allows for a lot of fictional name dropping, including Leo, Zoey Bartlet, the President himself, and Vice-President Russell whose help is greatly needed in his home state of Colorado where they are down four points. Current Secretary of State Lewis Berryhill is sick and unable to campaign.

This episode also gives us a look on whats been up with Toby. Mr. Ziegler and his lawyer are brought in for another appointment with US attorney Mr. Blake on Halloween morning. Blake makes the same offer he has made several times before to Toby, who is now so board with the entire thing he is doing a cross-word puzzle in the office. Blake wants Toby to give up the name of the person who leaked the knowledge of the military shuttle to him, in exchange he'll receive a sentence reduction from 6-years to one. Toby of course says no so Mr. Blake "sweetens the deal" by threatening to bring another inditment, this one for obstruction of justice against Mr. Ziegler if he doesn't give up a name. Threatening to subpoena the President, Leo, and C. J. just days before a national election could add enough of an element of scandal into the election to throw the race to Vinick. Toby thinks Blake (a Bartlet appointee) is just bluffing, non-the-less he takes the day to think about it.

Toby goes to visit his ex-wife Maryland Congresswomen Andrea Wyatt (played by Kathleen York) and take their 3-year old twins trick-or-treating. The two have to go separately because they can't risk as photo as Andrea is in her toughest re-election battle in years and ex-husband Tobys scandal is considered the biggest drag on her campaign. After expressing his disapproval that the twins are costumed as her Baltimore Orioles rather then his New York Yankees, Toby explains to Andrea his dilemma. Ms. Wyatt suggests that Toby simply tell the prosecutor that he got his information on the shuttle from his brother David (David Ziegler was a NASA astronaut who killed himself that last February after being diagnosed with cancer). Everybody thinks Toby got his information from David, but Toby hints that it wasn't and says that he will not besmirch his brothers reputation for something he did not do. That night Toby calls his lawyer and the prosecutor together to shame Mr. Blake for threatening to throw a national election, a tactic that seems to work. Thank you writers for giving us some good Toby scenes.

Well next week is the 1st part of the election two-parter and Leo's death, should be quite the show.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Give Two Men Enough Rope and They'll Strangle Their Friend With It.

Hitch Part 4 0f 15

Alfred Hitchcocks Rope was an experiment, an attempt at putting a one set play on film, it is something that Hitch would do again six years later with Dial M for Murder, only then with less rigidity and to more success. Based on Patrick Hamilton's play 'Ropes End' and inspired by the famous Leopold & Loeb case of the 1920's, Rope was both Hitchcocks first color film as well as first of four memorable collaborations with actor James Stewart. This technically innovative dark comedy was staged like a theatrical play, only filmed in 8-minute takes to accommodate the capacity of the cameras. I have seen this movie quite a few times and while it runs 80 minutes I can still only notice about 4-to-5 cuts.

Rope concerns two 'intellectual' young men, Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger, whom Hitch would use again three years later as the lead in Strangers on a Train), who kill their friend David with the titular instrument out of a sense of being superior and to see if they could get away with it. This murder takes place in their apartment just before a party they are hosting which is to be attended by the deceased father, girlfriend and best friend, among others. For added effect Brandon choses to serve their company dinner on top of the old chest in which they are temporally storing Davids body. Stewart enters the picture as the boys boarding school headmaster Rupert Cadell, a disciple of Nietzsche who through his teachings is indirectly responsible for the boys act (this applies to both Nietzsche and Rupert). Starting out as a darkly comic suspense film it gradually shifts into a philosophical detective story as Rupert begins to figure out whats going and to regret the part he played in leading the boys to commit murder.

Not a big success when it first came out Rope is now considered both an oddity and a classic, and is like no other film of its time. In addition to all its technical and performance achievements the films writing is a definite stand-out. While the treatment was by Hume Cronyn and some additional dialogue was provided by the great Ben Hecht, the bulk of the screenplay was written by Arthur Lauvents, who in the companion documentary to the film has his own theories as to why this movie was not originally successful. First off he faults the casting of James Stewart, who although very good in the film is not completely credible as the type of character he is suppose to be playing. Secondly Lauvents says that the films homosexual undertones scared off audiences (insert own Brokeback Mountain joke here). Apparently both the British stage play from which the film was taken, as well as the perpetrators of the original crime that inspired it were fairly blatantly homosexual. This is not something I noticed the first time I viewed the film, being then so caught up in the story, but further viewing has reveled this subtext to be there albeit very subtly. If this was indeed intentionally the case on the part of the screenwriter it should be noted that the gay characters seem much more politically correct then most offered on film today. Indeed the 'gay' charictatur most commonly offered in current media portals of homosexuals is no where near as sophisticated as the portraits offered here, which stand up on their own as characters not merely as token representations of their 'orientation'. Current screen writers should note that ideologically driven portrayals of any group, Gay, Mormon, Black, or what have you are not that interesting. Give us real characters and the audience is much more likely to go further with them then when presented with a cookie-cutter stereotype. Rope was indeed very ahead of its time, in some ways even beyond today.

Lastely I'd just like to add that those who have seen the film before might enjoy the original theatrical trailer included on the DVD. This trailer contains a sort of 'prolog' scene of Janet and Davids last visit together before his death. Here you actually get to hear David talk and gain more of a sense of his character, you also kind of understand why Brandon and Phillip though he was so inferior. Also Ironic is that this film marks the last role for the actor who played David, Dick Hogan.

Manhattan Trust

A Movie Referral

Spike Lee's The Inside Man is one of those movies that you just can't say much about without spoiling it so I'll keep this brief. Basically this a well done, mostly formula heist/hostage picture that I would give three stars. You'll enjoy yourself but not be blown away, however as we are currently in a weak part of the year for motion pictures you probably can't expect much more out of a theater experience.

Worlds Oldest Animal Dies

In Memory

Adwitya, the 250+ year old tortuous who was reportadly the worlds oldest living animal has died at his home in the Kolkata Zoo in India. Taken from his birth place on the Syeychelles Islands in 1875 as a gift for Robert Clive of the East India Company, Adwitya is belived to have been born around 1751. You know why this isn't a bigger story in the mainstream press? Anti-turtle prejudice, pure and simple.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"The Hand" Me Down

A Movie Review

It's a bit of a treat to get to write a Babylon 5 related review as I've already seen just about everything Straczynski's done with that 'universe' save for a couple of episodes of the ill-fated sequel series Crusade. Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers: To Live and Die in Starlight, in addition to being an excessively long title was the 2002 pilot movie for another attempted sequel series to the venerable 90's space opera. Like Crusade which lasted only one season, Rangers would fail at having much of a life span, not even having a single regular episode produced.

The premise of the program was to follow the adventures of Ranger Capitan David Martell (Dylan Neal) and his rag-tag crew aboard the 20-year-old ship the Liandra as they investigate the emergence of a new power on the galactic scene, the mysterious race known only as 'The Hand'. Set in 2264 roughly 2-years after the events of B5's last season and three years before the start of Crusades storyline, if this series had continued it would have been interesting to see how its events might intertwine with those of the Gary Cole helmed series.

The best thing about this slightly better then average Sci-Fi Channel TV movie is the late Andreas Katsulas in his final performance as the wonderful G'Kar. More then a cameo appearance G'Kar does play an important role at a couple points during the film, he even delivers a little speech about death rendered kind of creepy granted the actors recent passing. Legend of the Rangers is best for hard core B5 fans who'd just like to have one last look into Straczynskis fascinating 'universe'.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Karl Malden Is 94!

Just wanted to take a moment and wish a happy 94th birthday to the great Karl Malden. A favorite of director Elia Kazans, Malden started out on broadway and then became a fixture character player in American movies for decades. He also had some great success on television with The Street of San Francisco. Maldens last screen role to date has been as President Bartlets boyhood priest in a 1st season episode of The West Wing.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

He's Been Doing More Then Choreography

A Movie Review

The recent recommendation of All That Jazz by a friend of mine as one of the top 5 musicals of all time, pushed me over the edge to view this film that I have long intended to see. One of the first American films done in the Dennis Potter style, Jazz is director Bob Fosses semi-autobiographical account of the last few months in the life of a self-destructive, sex addicted, drug abusing, death obsessed but brilliant choreographer and director. Roy Scheider plays that director, Joe Gideon, in what is probably the best performance of his career.

Gideon is in the middle of pre-production for a musical set to star his ex-wife Audry Paris (played byLeland Plamer which by-the-way was the name of Ray Wise's character on Twin Peaks), while simultaneously editing a feature film he directed about a stand-up comedian. Despite the busy work-aholic schedule he loves, Joe still manages to find time to sleep with a dancer from his show. His girlfriend Anqelique (Jessica Lang) is none to pleased but sticks with him despite the pattern of unfaithfulness that ruined his first marriage. Joe by the way has a daughter from that first marriage named Michelle (Erzsebet Foldi) whom he adores but neglects because of his work.

Joe Gideon is basically a deceitful person, an unfaithful lair who will say nearly anything to get what he wants, yet he is non-the-less quite charming, very good at what he does, and you understand why people want to be around him. Though actually happy with his current life style and estranged from any real emotion, Gideon is forced to confront his own mortality when a series of minor symptoms turn out to be signs of angina, and his very life might be in danger. This all leads to lavish Broadway style musical hallucinations, acting out, various internal conflicts, and ultimately an odd kind of redemption. Seldom does a musical make you think, let alone reflect upon matters of mortality, but All That Jazz succeeds in doing so. If you start the film be warned that the first half may take awhile to 1) get your interest, and 2) make sense, yet it all does come together nicely in the end (interesting choice of a last shot by the way). Feel free to fast-forward through an awkward musical number in the middle of the film, you'll know it when you see it and its not 100% essential for the plot. While I may not think Jazz is one of the five best musicals of all time it sure is one of the most unusual, and quite reveling about its director. Bob Fosse himself died of heart attack in 1987.

P.S. Did anyone notice my White Christmas reference in this reviews title?

Simple Gifts

A Boxed-set Review

The tune from the old Shaker hymn 'Simple Gifts', as incorporated into Aaron Coplands 'Appalachian Spring' is used as the theme of The Edward R. Murrow Collection. This selection is appropriate not only because it was the theme music for the last news program that Murrow worked on, CBS Reports, but because the phrase 'simple gifts' amply captures the straight forward talents and uncomplecated style that helped make Murrow such a good, and now legendary reporter. This legend has been recently enhanced by George Clooneys solid film Good Night and Good Luck, which is what inspired me to view this boxed-set.

The Edward R. Murrow Collection I viewed is simply the DVD transfer of a mid-90's VHS set of the same title, it consestes of 4 discs. The first Disc is hosted by the late Charles Kuralt and contains a two-part PBS documentary from the early 90's on Murrow and his legacy. This first disc provides good background for the other DVD's but also kind of spoils them as it contains clips of some of their best moments. Disc two hosted by Mike Wallace is the best of See It Now, Murrows groundbreaking 50's evening news program, of special interest on this disc are interviews with Grandma Moses and Louie Armstrong.

Disc Three is the real meat of the set if you where fascinated by the Murrow/McCarthy feud chronicled in Good Night, and Good Luck. Hosted by Walter Cronkiet this disc contains segments from and several complete episodes of See It Now that dealt with the unreputable Joe McCarthy. This includes the Senators lengthy response to Murrows claims and the famed broadcasters rebuttal to McCarthys counter-charges. Interestingly McCarthys speech on the program has the man coming off as ego-centric but not entirely uninformed, Murrow however calmly undoes anything his advisary may have accomplished with his half-hour on air in only a matter of minutes.

The Final disc (hosted by Dan Rather) contains the powerful documentary Harvest of Shame that aired on CBS Reports at Thanksgiving 1960, just a few months before Murrow left the network to head the US Information Agency for the Kennedy Administration. This look at the plight of migrant works still stings as sadly little has changed. On the whole not a set for great entertainment, but informative and enlightening, as well as one of the few chances you'll probably ever get to watch vintage 50's news broadcasts in some detail.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Briefcase

A West Wing Word

For those of you who find the campaign episodes this season to be a little 'talky', you'll find that Two Weeks while no exception to this rule is simultaneously one of the most engaging episodes broadcast this year. Now over his cold Arnie Vinick has just flown in from Florida to Chicago to speak before a small business organization. While working a rope line prior to the event the Senator finds he has shaken so many hands that his own has become rather sore. This hand problem becomes all the more sever when the former Chicago Bears football player who introduces him to the business group, shakes his hand more then just a little to hard. In fact Vinick suffers a hairline fracture and his doctor wants to put him in a cast, but with only two weeks in the campaign remaining and very much not wanting to seem the weak old man, the two settle on a removable cast the Senator will wear while not in public.

The follow up speaker at the Chicago event after Vinick is Congressman Santos, Santos will also be proceeding Vinick at an event that night in Philadelphia so Arnie complains how that "sort of thing has been happening a lot lately." The two candidates are now pretty much tied but Santos seems to have the momentum, and despite the Presidents commitment of troops to Kazackstan all the press really wants to ask the Senator about is his views on nuclear power. The Vinick staff, even with its new GOP-approved campaign manager (this actress name is not listed on the episode guide I use), is still divided on how to proceed. Vinick has already made a lengthy trip through the south and the campaign manager has been on a lot of cable TV shows trumpeting up the Senators opposition to gay-marriage in the hopes of appealing to values voters (while opposed to gay marriage Vinick thinks it is a states issue and is not comfortable campaign on it). Being pulled in one direction to focus soley on the base and in another to try and close the gap among swing voters Arnie comes to the conclusion that the only way to get out of his slump is to return to his 'straight talking ways' (no pun intended) go to California and hold a press conference infront of the San Andreo Nuclear Plant, answering every reporters question until they drop. Only then he thinks can he leave the nuclear question behind him, though both factions of his staff are not so sure that's a good idea.

Its a beehive of activity over at the Santos camp as that campaign tries to use their current media good will to edge out Vinick in the home streach. After appearances in Chicago and Philly, Josh has the congressman scheduled for stops in Ohio and Florida, but Toby who is now advising the campaign under the alias "Bob" (despite his great talent with such things Tobys current legal problems make it impossible for him to advise the campaign publicly, besides which he only now seems to be getting on the Santos bandwagon) advises him to go straight back to California and soak up the free media coverage they would get there for actively competing in there opponent's home state. Josh signs off on this idea and advises Matt to do so just after his Philadelphia speech.

Soon both camps are in California, Vinick in San Andreas and Santos in Fresno, only one camp is missing something and another has gained an item. Both the Santos and Vinick teams used the same prep room back in Pennsylvania, while there Bruno picked up a briefcase he thought belonged to his staff. Because the briefcase had no name on it he opened it up on the plane ride to Cali only to discover it belongs to Santos and contains some interesting personal effects. Santos back with his team seems oddly concerned about the briefcases lose pressuring staffers Otto and Bram to find it, his behavior sets off alarm bells with media strategist Lou Thornton (Janeane Garofalo) who asks Josh on the phone at HQ if the Congressman has anything embarrassing in there, Josh doesn't think so.

After another dispute full meeting of the Vinick team in California Bruno comes to the Senator to explain that he has the Santos briefcase. He explains to the Senator that the information in it could make him President. Vinick says he doesn't want to hear about it and that they should return to case, but none-the-less he listens when Bruno starts to explain. Bruno says that the case contains a day planner that Santos has used as a sort of diary of the campaign, and that it contains some negative comments about the democrates true feelings on the current Vice-President (a major Santo rival in the primaries), and his ill confidence in his own running mate Leo as a campainger. But the real 'treasure' come in the form of an odd check book in the name of "M. Santos" with no address listed. It seems that Mr. Santos has been using that account to make out monthly checks to an Anita Moralus, a never married single mother of a nine year old and a clerk at Houston city hall whom Matt hired when he was mayor there a decade ago. It seems pretty obvious how this information could destroy Santos presidential run, but Vinick has never been much for dirty campaigning and dosen't want to use it, he does however relent to Brunos suggestion that he sleep on it.

The next day Vincik gives his press conference at San Andrea, something so gutsy that it steals away most of Santos free coverage. Arnie stands and answers reporters questions for nearly three hours, exhausting the press-corp, looking like the maverick he used to be and possibly saving his campaign. With renewed confidence that he can win this thing by himself he decides to do what he always wanted to do with the new situation and give the briefcase back to Santos. Before he does however Bruno makes some good points about how that information on Santos is going to get out eventually, and better that it does during the campaign then during a Santos presidency where the nations chief executive could be bogged down in scandal while trying to stop World War Three from starting in central Asia. Vincik arranges a meeting with Santos that night but does not tell him what its about. When he gives the case back to Santos and says that only he and Bruno know about it and they will not use anything they learned from it in the campaign, Santos seems angry and embaresed. Vinick says that while they won't leak the story its Santos duty to give a full discloser about his past to the American people. Santos is indigent about this but eventually tells the Senator that the child belongs to his dead beat brother (a kind of Roger Clinton/Billy Carter figure discussed on earlier episodes) and its a private family matter how they handel it. Santos leaves feeling that Vinick doesn't believe his story, and the final shot is the Senator standing in that little store room and reflecting on all that has transpired. Really good writing!

Next Week: Bon Jovi

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Oleg Cassini Dies

In Memory

Oleg Cassini, fashion icon who once designed costumes in Hollywoods golden age and helped invent Jacqueline Kennedy's look, died yesterday less then one month shy of his 93rd birthday. I bring this up not because I'm any kind of a fashion freak, but because Cassini was once married to actress Gene Tierney whom I had already selected as Aprils dead celebrity of the month. Cassini, a consummate ladys man was also once engaged to Grace Kelly.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Mr. Secretary

Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne has been named by President Bush to replace the outgoing Gale Nortion as the nations Secretary of the Interior. Kempthorne was the mayor of Boise when my family and I moved to town in 1987. In 1992 he was elected to the United States Senate but decided to campaign for the states chief executive slot when Republican Governor Phil Batt chose not to run for a second term in 1998. Governor Kempthorne hosted the President and he wife at a mountain resort this last August when the Bushs made their first trip to the state while the nations first couple. It has been kind of fun watching the political career of Dirk Kempthorne all these years, he seems like a fairly nice person but of only mid-level political skill. When he didn't get a cabinet post when the President was re-elected in 04' I thought his political career was over, but now it looks like he'll have the exact office I thought would be right for him. Former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus served as Secretary of the Interior under President Jimmy Carter.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mike Wallace Retires

Mike Wallace iconic veteran newsman has made the anouncment of his planned retirement. Wallace along with the 60 Minutes television program he helped launch, has been a media institution in this country for decades. Like many of his contemporaries Wallace started out doing odd hosting jobs for his network, including work on various game shows before becoming a newscaster. His late 50's prime time program The Mike Wallace Interview was noted for getting the guest no one else could, a talent its host would continue to demonstrate for nearly fifty years. Wallace become particularly endeared to many Mormons after the 'hard hitting' reporters 1996 interview of Church President Gordon B. Hinckley came across as very fair if not laudatory. Mike Wallace turns 88 years old this May.

The Good, The Evil, and The Freaks

A Boxed-Set Review

season 1: Think of it as Lynch meets Browning by way of Stephen King. Carnivale was like no other show on television in its scale, themes and sensibilities. The brain child of Daniel Knauf, who himself said that of all the things he'd written he never thought it would be produced, Carnivale was suppose to be a 6-year 'serial for television' in much the same way that Babylon 5 was a '5-year novel for television'. Unfortunately Carnivale was cancelled by HBO after its 2nd season due to mounting expenses and declining viewership, what was done of the story however is worth a look for those who can handel its audacity.

The intro to the pilot sets up the basic mythological premise of the show, namely that to each generation of man is born "a creature of light, and a creature of darkness" to act out the old battle between good and evil. It is also stated that the beings of light and darkness who came to a head in the 1930's would be that last such beings to exist, as the explosion of the atomic bomb over Trinity would forever kill that magical element in man that allowed for true faith in the mystical. The series is presented as two sides of a coin, following the parallel rise of a savior and anti-Christ beginning in 1934.

The destined savior is Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl) an escape from an Oklahoma chain-gang who is picked up by a traveling carnivale and brought on as a 'roustabout'. Since his childhood Nick has had a strange ability to heal, even brining a dead kitten back to life as a young boy. Bens religiously fanatical mother convinced her son that this power was of the devil, and he has been hiding and neglecting his talent ever since. The rising anti-Christ comes from a much different and unexpected background, Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown) is a small town California Methodist Minister living alone with his sisiter Iris (Amy Madigan). Justin is a dull but well meaning pastor until he starts having visions and discovers he has magical powers, paramount among these is the ability to force others to relive their most shameful sins, an experience so dramatic that it drives at least one man to suicide. Justin starts out wanting to use his powers for good, but as the season progresses he gets drawn more and more to the darkside, coming to view himself as the Old Testaments 'Left Hand of God' a kind of destroying angel.

In addition to the cosmic battle between good and evil which is the shows primary thematic focus, you also have the more soap-opera style happings of the various carnivale folks. Samson (Michael J. Anderson) is the midget who runs the carnivale, a charming chap he is well liked by the troupe but always keeps his distance. Clayton Jones (Tim DeKay) or "Jonsey" to most people is the chief roustabout and 'John Wayne' figure of the show. Adrine Barbeau is Ruthie the 50ish snake charmer and Brian Turk her son Gabriel, "the strongest man in North America". There is also the whole Dreifuss clan, the family who run the carnivales 'hootchi-kootchi show'. Apparently these 'strip-tease' programs where often done as a family affair in the 30's, thus making the Dreifuses a rather screwed-up but oddly loving family. The break out star of the show in my book is Clea DuVall as Sofie, who through a telepathic link with her comatose mother Apollonia "The Queen of the Gypsy's" (Diane Salinger), is the troupes tarot card reader. The most notable freak is "Gecko" (John Fleck) a human lizard with a multing problem.

The Carnavale travels from town to town in the southern US between California and Texas encountering various other interesting characters along the way, including a 'lobster girl' and a town populated almost entirely by ghosts. Like 24 this show is not afraid to go in interesting directions and I can promises you that 2-3 major characters die in the 12-episode first season alone. The big arc in season one for Ben is his discovery that the father he never knew once worked at the carnaval as "Henry Scudder the Gentleman Geek" (guy who bits live chickens heads off). Nicks father, who is also known as "Hack" (John Savage) keeps appearing in his sons dreams, which often take place either in a corn field or the trenches of World War One where his father fought. It is quite possible that his father was either the being of light or of darkness for 'the lost generation'. "Management" the reclusive owner of the carnivale who never comes out of his trailer has been looking for Hack for years, though most folks think he's dead. While we are never shown what "Management" looks like and only hear him talking from behind the velvet curtain that hides his bed, I'm pretty sure the man is a former German solder who has been badly mauled by a performing bear. If you want to make any sense of that last statement your just going to have to watch the show. Again be warned that Carnavile is TV-M, but quite the show none the less.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


The Otto Preminger Centennial

Director Preminger was always on the look out for projects that were groundbreaking and unusual, and he certainly found one in Oscar Hammersteins all-black adaptation of the opera Carmen. Carman Jones depicts the ill-fated romance between straight-laced corporal Joe (Harry Belafonte) and the temptress Carmen (Dorothy Dandridge). Ms. Dandridge is by far the strongest thing that this film has going for it, an engaging personality who landed an Academy Award nomination for her performance here, she unfortunately never again in life achieved the acclaim and attention this film brought her. Dorthys story is really much more interesting then this film and I would highly recommend the excellent cable movie about her life Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, in which she is played by Halle Berry. Preminger had an affair with Dandridge while making this film but broke it off in part do to racial pressures after the movies release, although he did use her again five years later in the similar Porgy and Bess. Most significant as the first all-black major studio picture Carman Jones is otherwise pretty boring and not a good film for those just starting out on Preminger movies.

Actress Maureen Stapelton Dies

In Memory

Actress Maureen Stapelton passed away yesterday of Chronic Pulmonary diease at the age of 80. Stapelton had a long career in the theater and on film and won an Acadamy Award in 1981 for her performance in the Warren Beatty film Reds. Despite that major achivement Maureen may be best rememberd by most people for her role in the Cocoon films and as Van Heflins long suffering wife in the origanl Airport. Maureen Stapelton is of no relation to All in the Family actress Jean Stapleton, though the two do look somewhat alike.

Monday, March 13, 2006

'Press Your Luck' Host Peter Tomarken Killed in Plane Crash

In Memory

Peter Tomarken host of one of my favorite childhood gameshows Press Your Luck, was killed today when his small plane crashed of the Santa Monica coast. Read more about it via this link.

The Dam Bursts

A West Wing Word

Well the final stretch of The West Wing begins with an episode titled 'The Cold'. Now I have once again been fooled by the false forshadowing as it isn't Santos who gets 'The Cold' in this episode, but rather Senator Vinick who comes down with this title at a particularly inopportune moment. The episode begins with a number of Santos staffers up at five in the morning to get the first post-nuclear crises poll numbers off the internet. The whole gang goes crazy with joy when they discover that The New York Times puts both candidates tied at 44%, the first time Santos hasn't been trailing Vinick in the whole campaign. When the excited Donna goes to tell Josh the news he gets real excited and the two kiss, thus breaking the sexual tension that has been going on between the characters since the series started.

While things are ecstatic at Santos/McGarry land they are the exact opposite at Vinick/Sullivan headquarters where the candidate is in his first real trouble since the primaries. The Senators less then stellar handling of the 'California Nuclear crises' caused a far number of their supporters to ditch, fortunately most of these went into the undecided category rather then aligning with the Santos camp. While the Vinick staff has pretty uniformly decided that it would be a good idea for the Senator to take a couple days swing through the south to shore up the conservative vote, there is some dispute of what to do after that. Bruno and Sheila would like to stick to a modified version of their '50 State Plan' and hold the center hoping to recapture their lost supporters. However a faction headed by Ray Sullivan and the RNC chair want to give up on the moderates and have Vinick focus on 'values issues' to try and get the Republican base out in mass. The RNC chair even brings by a new strategist presumably with the hopes of replacing the liberal Bruno Gianelli (Ron Silver) with a figure more acceptable to evangelicals and cultural conservatives. Vinicks campaign manager Sheila Brooks (Patricia Richardson), believes it would be of value to bring the new girl on the team and that someone on the staff has to take the blame for not having properly courted the parties base now that they really need them..Sheila decides that since she is the most visible face of the Vinick staff that it should her not Bruno who takes the wrap and thusly gives the Senator a letter of resignation, one which he only reluctatnly accepts.

Meanwhile the Santos/McGarry camp is feeling so emboldened that they are preparing for a campaign run through Vinicks home state of California. Josh decides to rename the 'Santos Education Plan' and other such programs as the '21st Century Education Plan' ect., so as to reemphasie Matt as the visionary candidate who "foresaw the dangers of nuclear power", while Arnie Vinick remained mired in the failed policy's of the past. Everyone gets even more excited when they learn that Vinick has got a cold and Bono would like to have lunch with the Congressman. Things don't stay quite this happy however when the President calls both candidates back to Washington to brief them on the increasingly serious Kazick situation.

With the legitimacy of the recent Kazick elections called into question both Chinese and Russian troops have entered the country, fortunately for now they are 600 miles away from each other. Knowing that if the Russians and Chinese come head to head inside the oil rich country World War III could very well start, President Bartlet is forced to take desperate measures. It is decided that the United States will send in a peace-keeping force to enforce a buffer and no-fly zone between the opposing armies in a kind of a Korea meets mid 90's Iraq sort of situation. The long term plan being to get both nations armies to return to their home countries and to establish a peaceful democratic regime in Kazakstan, and all without NATO or UN help. It is this likely possibility that the President has called the candidates to Washington to discuss, as one of them will inherit the mess. Committing US troops so late in the game is a tough call for President Bartlet, who himself was non-to-pleased to inherit a small-scale military commitment in the Philippines from outgoing President Lassiter back at the begining of his administration (read: the Clinton inherited Bush commitment to Somalia of 92'). So while Bartlet is greatly worryed that he is getting the country involved in another Vietnam, the candidates are concerned about how 'Bartlets war' will change the dynamic of the campaign with only three weeks to go before election day. To top it all off we learn in this episode that Kate and Will are now sleeping together.

Important Note: Rob Lowe who played the character Sam Seaborn on seasons 1-4 will be returning to the show for a two episode guest spot at the end of the season. Last we left Sam he was headed for certain defeat in a special congressional election in Orange County against long-time Republican representative Chuck Webb. In the episode in which Jed gives Will Sams job, the President says that should Sam lose the election he could return to work for the administration in the White House Counsels office. Exactly what happened to Sam has yet to be established, though the possibility he has been working in the White House all this time 'just not shown on camera' seems unlikely given the tone of the preview that confirms Sams return to the show. Sam is one of a number of old character who will be returning to the program in the coming weeks.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

My Weekend Movie Trilogy

Movie Reviews

Well I watched three movies this weekend, just thought I'd share my thoughts with you:

Friday: Aliens of the Deep (extended version). James Cameron is a water nut, the director of such high profile H2O heavy features as Titanic and The Abyss continues to explore his obsession with this documentary made for IMAX. Cameron has been concentrating on documentary features for several years now, and had previously made the sunken ship exposes Ghost of the Abyss and Expedition: Bismarck. In Aliens of the Deep the director goes in a slightly different direction with a look at the unusual life forms that dwell so deep in the ocean that they never encounter sunlight. Cameron is fascinated by these creatures and truth be told I find the little buggers a marvel myself. I mean these are animals that as humans we would never have been able to see where it not for relatively recent advances in technology. Some of these creatures look like they shouldn't even exist, such as the flowing doughnut of translucent fabric I call the "Jelly Cloth".

Filmed on a two ocean expedition with Cameron, his brothers, a Russian team, some scientist and a group of grade students who seems to function largely as figures for audience identification, Aliens of the Deep was no small undertaking. The unifying purpose of the expedition was to study how life manages to develop in extreme environments, with the hope that this information might give us some clue as to how alien life might have evolved in similar extreme conditions, like under Europas frozen seas. The sub-team ventures down into the cracks in the Earths crust to view the life the somehow flourishes near the hydro-thermal vents. It is important to note that scientists had not expected to find any life there when they first journyed to study these vents in the late 1970's, their encounter with a thriving ecosphere in the last place anyone would look for life was one of the great knowledge transformations of the 20th century. There are some pretty cool looking creatures in this documentary as well as some CG work of high end Discovery Channel quality. The extended version runs about an hour and forty minutes but the theatrical version is about half that if you don't think you could sit through the whole thing.

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The fourth Harry Potter movie begins with what can best be called a 'terrorist attack' on the Quidich(sp) World Cup. This event marks the re-emergence of the forces of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Finnes) as an active presence in the magical realms. Infact Voldermorts 'specter' is felt more heavily throughout this film then in any of the others, and for good reason as the viewer will see. The lest bound to form of any of the 'Potter movies', Goblet of Fire focus most of its plot time on Harrys involuntary participation in the prestigious though dangerous 'Tri-Wizard Tournament'. The tournament is a compatetion pitting young wizards against various obstacles to prove their superior magical abilities. Harry is one of two participants representing Hogwarts (an unusual occurrence), with the others coming from a visiting French girls school and a boys school in Romania or Bulgaria or some such place.

Radcliffe, Watson and Grint are strong as always in their signature roles as Hogwarts most trouble prone students, but the real standout of this film is a new character. In what is now an established yearly tradition Hogwarts has a new 'defense against the dark arts' teacher, in this case its the gruff Alastor 'MadEye' Moody (Brendan Gleeson), who looks and acts like just like John Wayne in True Grit. Also Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) gets something of a love interest in the form of Madame Olympe Maxime (Frances de la Tour) the dean(et?) of the girls school, who looks like Allison Janney if she where a giant and slightly mutated. With the exception of Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) who is becoming increasingly less mystical, all the usual players on the schools staff have been seemingly reduced to bit parts. Gary Oldman however does enjoy one of the most unusual cameo appearances ever brought to the screen as his Sirius Black character from the 3rd film. Goblet of Fire is probably the best Harry Potter film so far, thought I'd say that Mike Newells direction is not quite as strong as Alfonso Cuarons was on Prisoner of Azkaban. This film stuck with me longer then I thought it would and I find myself incressingly excited for number five.

Sunday: Dune (the extended version). The 'lost footage' from 1984's Dune has been much talked about and sought after by both Lynch and Herbert fans, now that previously cut material has been be re-edited into an extended edition of the cult classic. Unfortunately the extra 40 minutes adds nothing to the over all picture and infact makes this already confused film into more of a long winded mess. I expected as much as Lynch himself has refused to have his name on the credits of this version, billed instead under his occasional fake name of Alan Smithee (that is the correct spelling). However I wanted to see it anyway even if just to confirm that it should have been left on the cutting room floor. This extended version is for fanatics only.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Conan O'Brien: Pro-Finland, Anti-Sweden


Well last night NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien finally aired its 'Finland special' chronicling the hosts recent five-day visit to the Scandinavian nation. Conans trip to Finland and the TV episode that chronicled it are the culmination of a long running joke on the program. You see Finlands current female president Tarja Halonen and Mr. O'Brien enjoy what some would call an 'uncanny' resemblance to each other. When this fact came to the late show host attention he proceeded to milk it for all it was worth. When Halonen was facing a tough re-election battle recently, the folks at Late Night pitched in producing their own Finish language TV commercials for the president. These commercials ran on Finish television and Halonen was re-elected with a 3% plurality.

While one can dispute how much of a factor Mr. O'Brien was in the Finish federal election, President Halonen seems grateful and the two acutely got to meet on his visit. (I acutely missed that part of the TV show but I do remember reading that they had meet while he was over there.) The show last night featured Conan touring the country and generally making a fool of himself in front of the Fins. He even got to appear on several native television shows and received a special award at the Finish version of the Emmys. While Conan is set to take over as host of The Tonight Show in several years I think he might be just as viable as an ambassador, at the very least that might keep yet another celebrity from seeking elective office.

BSU Election Results

Wyatt Park and Molly George won the top executive slots in this years ASBSU election, their victory was announced Friday at a noon-time ceremony. The Park/George victory keeps the student executive in the hands of The Orange Party, which was founded last year by current ASBSU President Joe Holladay. The winning ticket scored only 31 more votes then their closest rival, the Bronco Party ticket of Tim Flaherty and LaTisha Clark, which received 720 votes. The independent Ormond/Holdaway ticket, which I endorsed, came in 3rd with 565 votes according to the Arbiter. Well looks like student political parties are here to stay and thats to bad, I do take some comfort though that Park won out over Flaherty who is currently under investigation for violating a confidentiality agreement, Tim is also in the process of paying back thousands of dollars 'he is said to have' embezzled from the school. Wyatt Parks criminal history consists mostly of drunken fights including "attacking a linen van", which is a story I'd just love to hear in detail.

In other election news all three Senators who abstained from voting for a new veterans memorial on campus, they were the only three in the Senate who didn't vote for it, were not re-elected. This has made my friend Jackson really happy as he's on his way to being an officer and helped write the legislation with Britton and Art. Their proposal calls for the new veterans memorial to be included inside the expanded Student Union building which is now in the early stages of planning. Campuses original veterans memorial was removed to make room for a new building some time ago,the current memorial is small and out of the way. Any new veterans memorial is still years away.

Also the Ormonds had their baby girl Thursday morning, I belive she weighed more then 9 pounds.

His Final Downfall


Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was found dead in his cell today, the victim of an apparent heart attack. The deposed dictator had spent roughly the last five years in The Hague where he has been standing trail on accusations of genocide and other crimes against humanity before the world criminal court. Milosevics heart problems had long delayed the completion of his trial which seemed to drag on endlessly. Slobodan Milosevic will be remembered as one of the most evil figures of the 1990's, to learn more about the man and his dark legacy simply click on this link to a very nicely done page on the subject at the CNN website.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

For The Boys

A Movie Review

Stage Door Canteen
was a 1943 film made (as many films were at that time) as an aide to the war effort. Its goal seemed to be to bring as many stars as possible together in one film to promote a good cause. The cause in question here is the titular 'stage door canteen' a New York City establishment that provided free food, entertainment, and female companionship (in a very chaperoned way), to service men of all branches who were on leave. As a bonus the boys in uniform would often be waited on and entertained by various celebrities, this movie poster contains the names of most of the celebs who appeared in that capacity in the film. The actual plot of the movie (what there is of it) concerns a group of four solders, three of whom spend several nights of leave at the canteen, one of whom possibly finding true love. The movie is mostly comedy sketches and musical numbers with a little drama thrown in, a great example of a type of film that simply doesn't get made anymore. I would recommend this flick as 'video wallpaper' to have on during various veterans holidays.

  • Also seen by me lately: Bio-Dome. I can not say that I saw this movie by choice, because I didn't. Somehow a student convinced an instructor of mine to show this during class, I am still in this class so I'm not going to say much more about it so as to avoid any awkward situations. This is an awful film, though admittedly the second half is better then the first. For your own good stay away from all films staring Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin, you have been warned.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mines and Hearts

A Movie Review

In the tradition of Norma Rae and A Civil Action comes the 2005 film North Country. 'Inspired' by the true story of a Minnesota women's landmark sexual harassment suit against her employer, North Country is a work of fiction in the Law & Order 'ripped from the headlines' tradition. It is a little disappointing that the movie didn't try and tell us the true story of the events in 1980's northern Minnesota from which its plot is loosely taken, but non-the-less what is presented here does work as a film (maybe the real story wouldn't have worked as much and that's why the writers had to spice-it-up beyond the realms of creative license). While a good picture it doesn't do anything that hasn't been done before in other movies of this type, both story and production wise.

The strongest thing about the picture, and what ultimately makes it work as a movie is the performances, which are only so-so at the beginning but stellar by the end. In fact there are so many strong performances in North Country that the usually stand-out Sissy Spacek just seemed to fade into the background. Of course both Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand got acting nominations for their roles here, nods they deserved despite the fact that neither was ever given much of a chance to win in the recently concluded Academy Awards. Six Feet Unders Richard Jenkins gives a very complicated and convincing portrayal as Josey's (Charlize Theron) father and fellow miner Hank Aimes. Ken Bean comes off quite sympathetic as the husband of Glory (Frances McDormand), Josey's best friend at the mine. But to me the most surprising performance came from Woody Harrelson, who as Josey's lawyer (and former high school hockey star) Bill White, is such a normal and well adjusted character that your just amazed that this actor of all people is playing him. North Country is a solid but not altogether great movie, a fine example of the 3 1/2 star film.

Some BSU Happenings

Well I don't typically post things related to my current collage experience at Boise State University, but right now there are a couple of things I thought would be worth noting. The first concerns a friend of mine Brandon Stoker, who is an outspoken conservative activist on campus. Brandon recently had his life threatened (how seriously is not known) and the schools reaction earned this story some national press coverage. The other thing I wanted to mention is that student elections are going on at my school right now and my friends Rob Ormond and Britton Holdaway are running as an independent ticket (yes for some reason BSU has political parties) for the presidency and vp slot respectively. I have been modestly aiding the campaign and am excited to see who wins. Ormond/Holdaway is the only executive ticket running with no criminal record.