Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It's Not Easy Being A Chopper Pilot

Hey if you think its simple, you try it. Click here to start.

Mother in Heaven and the Divine Feminine

I am taking a class now on the Goddess as concept, the divine feminine, mythology and associated matters. Thought that I would post some links that may be of interest in an examination of that topic from a Mormon perspective:

Heavenly Mother

Mother in Heaven and statements by orthodox church authorities

Some good stuff from Signature Books

A PDF from Sunstone

From the Deseret News

Year old stuff from The Truth, The Way, The Life

Feminist Mormon Housewives (coming to ABC?)

From Ex-Mormon singer Tal Bachman

The Mormon Goddess

My First (Real) Audio Blog

this is an audio post - click to play


this is an audio post - click to play

"It seems 'bizarre' to me to insist that everyone must world without end, cling to the beliefs of their childhood or to the passions of their young man or womanhood. Thoughtful, intelligent people are entitled to change ideological positions as they grow older and (possibly) wiser. That their former co-religionists will call this "selling out" is a predictable consequence of such changes. So is the fact that new loyalties and friendships will inevitably result from the embrace of radically revised ideological stances. Since we are dealing with human beings, the possibility that a change in belief may be cynically dictated cannot be dismissed. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the equally real possibility that we may also be looking at growth, a coming to maturity." - Richard Schickel

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Some Where Between Memphis and Knoxville There's...

A Movie Review

Just minutes ago I finished Robert Altmans Nashville, a film that I have wanted to see for some time but also viewed in preparation for the upcoming A Prairie Home Companion. Nashville is a sort of War and Peace of country music, a character study film with too many characters. Yet despite the brush confusion of the piece at the beginning, its many storylines fade away to reveil a hard to define whole thats make provocative statements about politics, humanity, and America. I don't know if I'd say this movie is really my thing, I think I'll have to think and reflect on it some more, but I do recognize that its some kind of genius because I hated the first half of it (and this is a 2 hour and 40 minute long movie), but had achieved detente with it by the end. Never-the-less an important film of the 1970's.

I am however a 'supporter' of Altmans Jack Tanner mini-series Tanner 88', and Tanner on Tanner, both of which star Michael Murphy who played a political consultant in Nashville.

Also seen by me today was another of those Canadian produced Goddess films in my summer school class, this one entitled Full Circle takes a look at female spirituality in much the same way as did The Goddess Rememberd.

An Important Public Service Announcement

Click here, because knowing is half the battle.

A Sick, Morbid Game

Here is a link to a sick and morbid game that I actually kind of want to play next year, any takers for a team?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Those Gilmore Girls

A Boxed Set Review

Now this is kind of embarising for me, but I'm coming out, I am a Gilmore Girls fan. I have a long history of flirting with this show (owing largely to its attractive leads and witty banter), wanting to watch it and then recoiling, thinking that somehow it would not be proper. First off the paly relationship between the lead mother and daughter characters of Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) Gilmore seemed kind of creepy to me, I mean didn't the Lewinski's having something similar going on when mother told daughter to 'save that dress.' That creepiness factor was re-enforced by a first season episode of Six Feet Under, which used a clip of the show playing in the background to reinforce the 'not-rightness' of the mother/daughter relationship of some Fisher cousins. However television is a world of suspended belief, and if the writing is good and the characters are interesting, I am willing to bend to their logic. Also I found out that a married friend of mine and his wife watch the program regularly and that made viewing it seem okay. So some time later I started watching some 4th season reruns on ABC Family, this occurred at about the same time that a wave of Gilmore interest swept my household, and its wasn't long before we owned the first two seasons on DVD.

This is my review of the first season, when the show was at the height of its freshness. Now while this program is a 'chick-flick' for television, it is also one of the last refuges of screwball comedy, and has the wittiest TV dialogue this side of Aaron Sorkin. Also it is set in one of those TV small towns that you just want to move to, Stars Hollow, Connecticut. I am a big fan of televisions quirky little municipalities from Evening Shade, Arkansas, to Sicily Alaska, and Twin Peaks, Washington inbetween. Stars Hollow has a large cast of recurring local eccentrics, but its host program is really anchored to its titles namesake the Gilmore Girls, Lorelai and Rory. Lorelai came from an upercrust New England establishment family involved in international business, she had an unhappy childhood with her largely absentee father Richard (Edward Herrmann) and domineering mother Emily (Kelly Bishop). At 16 she got 'with child', and as soon as she was old enough left home with her young daughter and took up both residence and employment at a historic Connecticut inn. The series takes up just under 16 years after Rorys birth (which was apparently in the fall of 1984), with Lorelai now managing the inn, and her daughter just acepted to a prestigious private school called Chilton.

The action of the series starts when Lorelai's parents agree to give their daughter the money she needs to send Rory to Chilton, in exchange for the eventual repayel of the cash and a bigger part in the two girls lives, manifested chiefly in mandatory Friday night dinners together. Aside from the intra-family elements of the program, much time is spent on the lead characters love lives, and with their friends and the wacky towns folks. Melissa McCarthy is Lorelais best friend Sookie, a cook at the inn, while Keiko Agena plays Rorys best friend Lane Kim, a closet rock and roll lover who bristles under the rule of her strict Seventh-day Adventist Korean parents (though we only ever see the mother). Scott Patterson is Luke Danes, Lorelai's apparent soul mate and owner of the local cafe, while Jared Padalecki is Dean Forrester, Rory's first boyfriend. Liza Weil is Rory's sometimes friend, sometimes nemesis Paris Geller, and Yanic Truesdale is Michel Gerard, a stereotypically rude French receptionist at the inn, who left France because he can not stand French people. Liz Torres is Miss Patty, a local dance instructor and one time Broadway star who is the first seasons featured wacky local.

Basically this is just a really fun show with unique sensibilities. It is loaded with obscure references courtesy of head writer and series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who always manages to make her characters well rounded enough to avoid being cliches. Things progress in the series as they do in real life, and you are not returned to square one at the end of every episode. Though in recent years its viewership has fallen off somewhat, and many are unhappy with the direction the program has taken, at least in its early seasons it truly is a treasure and well worth the embarrassment that might come with watching.

Commercial Break

For commercial break click here.

Memorial Weekend Movies Part 2: Memorial Day


  • Night and Day is a white-washed musical biography of composer Cole Porter. As the real life of Mr. Porter was not fit for a mainstream motion picture of the 1940's, the writers obviously took plenty of liberty's in their screenplay. In fact in the more recent and true to life film about Porter, De-Lovely the characters comment about how inaccurate this film was. Having now sat throughout the movie I find yet further evidence to support Irving Berlins claim that with the exception of Yankee Doodle Dandy (and I suppose now Amadeus), every bio-film about a composer stinks. Cary Grant plays homosexual rake Porter as a heterosexual workaholic, and Alexis Smith plays the composite feeling Linda Lee Porter. Monty Woolley and Mary Martin play themselves in the film. Despite a wealth of strong musical material the only memorable production number in the thing is Begin the Beguine. A disappointment.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Weekend Movies


As it's a holiday weekend, and I've managed to free up most of my schedule, I plan on seeing a lot of movies. So to get a head start on my reviewing I've begun this post and will continue updating it throughout the long weekend. So lets get started:

Saturday 5/27:

  1. Lucky Number Slevin. Though the critics have been divided about it, this is the best movie I've seen in the theater this year (granted I've only seen about five movies theatrically in the last five months, and its been a rather weak year for film). I knew next to nothing about the movie when I went into the theater and I think that really helped the experience for me, this is not a film you want explained to you it's one you just have to see to enjoy. To give away as little about the plot as possible while still setting the stage let me just say that it involves a feud between two mob bosses played by Morgan Freemen and Sir. Ben Kingsley, and the legacy of a fixed horse race from 1979. The movie employees unusual story structure and visuals (what's the deal with the wall-paper?), and has a very dry sense of humor in the first half, which gives way as the plot get more intense. Freemen and Kingsly play their parts as embittered eccentrics, with Kingsly portrayal of the Jewish mob-boss bordering on light camp. Lucy Liu, who I've never found particularly attractive is quite appealing in her characterization of a cornier who plays love interest to main character Slevin Kelevra, who is played by Josh Hartnett one of todays few young leading men who I list in my 'do not hate' department. Bruce Willis and Stanley Tucci also star. This is a fun possibly Tarantino inspired caper film that brings the contemporary and 70's elements of the genera together quite enjoyably.
Sunday 5/28:
  1. Elizabethtown
  2. wants to be a deep and meaningful movie populated by lovable characters, however sufficient time, resources, and creativity were not properly devoted in its developmental stages to make that so. Despite two likeable leads (Orlando Bloom, and Kirsten Dunst), and a strong supporting cast (Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, and Bruce McGill), this overly trite film never rises above the ho-hum. Here are some of its failing: Excessive use of songs to set mood. 'Quirky' characters seldom if ever rise above surface development. Every sequence in the film plays far to long. Lackluster and sappy narration by Bloom. The very presence of Jessica Biel (as well as under use of Judy Greer). Elizabethtown tries too hard but with to little thought. Sarandons performance however is deceptively good.

    2. Flightplan stars Jodie Foster in an action heroin role as a recently widowed engineer returning to the U.S. from Germany with the her young daughter and the body of her late husband. Of course she just happens to be flying across the Atlantic on a plane which she knows inside-out, and fall asleep long enough to awake and find that her daughter has disappeared Bunny Lake-like, with no one on board seeming to remember that the little girl was ever on the plane. The rest of the movie proceeds along fairly predictable lines, with Foster and co-star Peter Sarsgaard giving fine if not particularly remarkable performances. A fair to average film. For a better movie about an ex-patriot engineer with a young daughter, and a possible crises aboard a new airplane see the 1951 Jimmy Stewart feature No Highway in the Sky. Lastly computer issues prevent me from posting the poster to this movie, thus foiling the symmetry of the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bogart and the Bear

A Movie Review

Directed by Raoul Walsh and released in 1940 They Drive by Night is a hard to classify film. Starting out as a fairly straight forward drama about the hard life of truckers, by its second half its become almost noirish and the setting completing changed. In the film George Raft and Humphrey Bogart play the Fabrini brothers, freelance truck drivers just scraping by in life. When an accident destroys their truck and coasts Paul (Bogart) his arm, Joe's (Raft) friend Ed J. Carlson (Alan Hale Sr.) offers the less injured brother a job as 'traffic supervisor' (which for some reason requires he wear a white lab coat) at his trucking company.

When Ed dies from exhaust inhalation when passed out drunk in his garage, his widow Lana (Ida Lupino) gets Joe to run the company for her. Joe then gives Paul his old job as traffic supervisor. But it turns out that Lana's crazy and let her husband die so that she would be free to pursue Joe. When she discovers that Joe is getting married to a red-head named Cassie (Ann Sheridan), an enraged Lana cooks up a story about his putting her up to Ed's murder to get a share of the company. It looks like Joe is headed up the river until Lana loses it on the stand during the trial, which is the memorable scene that made Ida Lupino (who would go on to become a pioneering female director) a star. Of course her cries of "the doors made me due it!", was a lame excuse because Jim Morrison hadn't even been born yet. Also worth looking for in the movie is George Tobias in a small ethnic role that is one of the few times I've seen him depart from his standard Brooklyn persona.

The DVD also contains a short staring Fritz Feld as 'Mr. Nitvitch the temperamental director', one of a series he did using that persona.

And now the opening sequence for B.J. and the Bear.

Lloyd Bensten: 1921-2006

In Memory

Lloyd Bensten, former Texas Congressman and Senator, Secretary of the treasurery and 1988 Democratic nominee for Vice-President, has died at the age of 85. One of the last big-name Texas Democrat's Bensten defeated George H. W. Bush in a Senate race in the 1960's, and helped cement the Dan Quayle reputation as a couple crates short of a banana boat during the 1988 vice-presidental debate. Bensten was one of Bill Clintons better known cabinet members during the early years of the laters presidency.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

"You Love Me, Really You Do"

A Movie Review

It was for Morning Glory, only her third theatrical film that Katharine Hepburn won her first Best Actress Academy Award. Her part in the film, that of aspiring actress Eva Lovelace was just perfect for her, and I think that the more you know about Ms. Hepburns personality and early career the more you will agree with that statement. Though her characterization in the film was later much lampooned, "really it was", she sells it well and it works in the context of its time. Adolphe Menjou and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. play Kates two love interests, with Mr. Douglas's acting in this picture being a step up from his performance in the only other of his films I remember seeing, Little Caesar. C. Aubrey Smith plays Eva's mentor and teacher R. H. "Bob" Hedges, the character who offers the metaphor that gives the film its title. Though the film is only 74 minutes in length my biggest complaint with it is that the closing sequence ran to long, was a little corny and not completely satisfying. The film was produced by Merian C. Cooper, and released the same year as his immortal King Kong.

Stephen Colberts Thoughts on the Bartlet Legacy

Click here.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Artificial Flowers

A Movie Review

A long time pet project of director/star Kevin Spacey, Beyond the Sea gives a purposefully non-literal account of the life of singer Bobby Darin. Like a lighter version of All That Jazz its the story of an often narcissistic man that from the first ten minutes is largely grounded in its subjects destined pre-mature death (Darin was only 37 at the time of his passing). While somewhat flamboyant in style the film sets course to follow the now well-worn path of the self-destructive music legend picture. However the events of Bobbys life, particularly those portrayed in the later half of the film, are different enough from the standard storyline as to almost salvage the movie. There is a particularly big twist in Bobby's life story that if I had known it before I had forgotten it, or attributed it to somebody else. It is this twist that really makes the film something different and psychologically interesting.

The performances are all good in the picture, with Spacey's having attracted particular attention because he did all his own singing and dancing (he was in musicals before going into movies). Kate Bosworth acutely does a really good Sandra Dee, capturing the teen queen actresses energy and innocence quite brilliantly in the first half of the film. John Goodman and Bob Hoskins also portray major players in Darins life, with Bob's turn as brother-in-law Charlie Maffia particularly endearing. While the source of Bobbys anxieties is interesting their manifestations are really quite mundane and drawn out, I felt as though a documentary on Darin would communicate most of what I learned in this film without having to sit through scenes such as his writing songs in his trailer or the corny childhood sequences. While a more then watchable picture I would predict that little would come from a second viewing. A craftsman like nobel effort.

"The Religious Left is Back"

Finally they've woken up and got some momentum, read about it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Southernization of America

A Movie Review

Having made its rounds of the film festivals and the big cities, writer/director Kevin Willmontt's 2004 mockumentary CSA: The Confederate States of America has finally arrived in Boise. This flawed and relatively low-budgeted picture is presented as the initial CS broadcast (on a San Francisco station) of a controversial British documentary on the history of the Confederate nation (this format allows for the insert of various fake commercials, my favorite featuring a Martha Stewart-type character). Through this look at an alternate American history the film makers are able to take on issues of American racism, imperialism, commercialism, ect. in a manner more likely to be viewed be audiences who would never otherwise see a Spike Lee 'presented' film. While I think the incredibly short lived Discovery Channel series What If? did a better job on the alternate history, CSA effectively conveys its political message, one that encourages us to examine the often unquestioned assumptions of our American culture.

Also seen by me today (in class): Goddess Remembered, a Canadian produced look at ancient Goddess worship and its effects on the spirituality of some influential contemporary women. Okay for what it is, had some interesting information but really only scratched the surface of its subject matter.

"We have in America a bad tendency that things have to be either serious or fun... <> But the teachers we all remember in high school and college were not the ones who put us to sleep. I don't think any of us should apologize for not being dull."- Louis Rukeyser (1933-2006).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Elizabeth and Essex with a side of Bacon

A Movie Review

Queen Elizabeth loves the Earl of Essex. The Earl loves the Queen. Lady Penelope Gray loves the Earl. Sir Robert Cecil hates the Earl. Francis Bacon wants the Essex to succeed. Sir Walter Raleigh hopes that Essex gets his head chopped off. This pretty much captures the intrigue that abounds in director Michael Curtiz's melodramatic, technocolor, costume spectacle The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Bette Davis is quite theatrical and regal in her portrait of the aging Queen, while Errol Flynn (be prepared for blazing soundtrack from The Adventures of Robin Hood when clicking his link) portays the Earl Robert Devereux as one of his standard action-hero characters. A not particularly engaging film that would have been helped had Davis's original choice for the part of Essex, Sir. Laurence Olivier, been cast instead of the largely static Flynn.

Best Line in Movie- Essex: "And now, may I go? This dying sticks in my mind and makes me poor company."

The Bartlet Record

A West Wing Word

With the dedication of his Presidental library it is time to take a look back at the legacy of our nations 43rd President, Josiah Edward Bartlet and his eight years (1999-2007) in office. Click here

Non-Dogmatic Campbellisims

In class today we watched and episode from the acclaimed PBS series Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. It is basically Bill Moyers talking with the late Joseph Campbell about what he knew best, namely mythology and the human need for arch-types and symbolic structures. Pretty interesting stuff presented in interview format. I've kind of been intrigued by Campbell for awhile, a lot of writers reference him and The Power of Myth series was the source of an esotericlly funny gage on a 4th season episode of Gilmore Girls.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

And Now For Something Completly Different

A Hungarian commerical from the 1980's.

Marija Gimbutas

A Lecture Review?

Well in the intrest of completeness (I pledged to myself to put down at lest a few lines about every new movie I see this year), I present a few words on a lecture I saw in class today (that is technically considered a film). It is entitled The World of the Goddess and is simply a tape of the last filmed lecture of the late Lithuanian born anthropologist and mythology expert Marija Gimbutas. There was some interesting stuff presented in the video, and it made extensive use of photo slides, but it was still a lecture non-the-less. Gimbutas however is an intriguing personality in a Dr. Ruth sense, a little old lady talking about things you don't necessarily expect to hear a little old lady talking about. Her enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject matter combined with her strong accent made her kind of fun to watch. So if your going to watch a video lecture about ancient European Goddess worship, you might as well make it this one.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ghostwood No More

My radio show The Ghostwood Development Project gave its last broadcast on Sunday with a tribute to Mel Torme. It was fun doing the show, thought I often got upset with the equipmnet, but I had always intended to do it for only about a year, which I've now done. This means that Joe's program, The Showcase now goes to an hour. I might still have some involvement with student radio next year if the prime-time talk program they are talking about doing goes forward.

Also the President gave his speech tonight where-in he talked about sending national guard troops to the boarder to help curb illegal immigration. We'll see how that works out.

Finally I started my three-week summer school course today, I thought it was going to be a class where we watched westerns, but I guess I got really confused as its a class about women's images in myth and western civilization and that kind of thing. I'm going to take it because I need the credits, plus it'll probably be interesting thought more reading intensive then I had planned on. So this might effect the length and frequency of my posts for while. But for now that's all I have to report.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Torch Has Been Passed

A West Wing Word

Now I'm not going to write a recap of the final episode, you can get one at TWP in a few days. I do however want to put down just a few final thoughts. There really wasn't to much to this episode in a story sense, just a leisurely paced goodbye. I was kind of disappointed that Toby wasn't in it, but his presences was implied throughout especially in his getting a last minute pardon from the President. There were a few memorable images here as well, the Bartlets alone in the East Room, the switching of the picture of the sitting President, and all the movers coming in and out of the oval office like a swarm of grasshoppers. All in all a low key goodbye that worked but will never be listed as one of the great final episodes of television (the pilot however, that was re aired just before this is certainly one of the best TV pilots with which I am familiar). The West Wing will be missed but I think its time had come, we had four years of greatness followed by three years of pretty-goodness. Here's looking forward to heir-apparent Studio Sixty on the Sunset Strip.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

"Band of Brothers"

Both Jackson and Steve should get a kick out of this. Click here.

Also this clip has been making the rounds of the internet lately.

Friday, May 12, 2006


A Movie Review

In his last two films About A Boy and In Good Company, director Paul Weitz set about creating a style in which he fleshes out characters that you would be prone to make snap judgments about into surprising empathetically figures, this is a trend he continues in his new feature American Dreamz. On the surface it is a rather obvious and thin political satire about a Bush-like president who agrees to be a guest judge on a popular reality talent search program in order to boost his sagging poll numbers, and the terrorist/contestant assigned to kill him when he does. Now I realize that this movie has not been well received with the public in general, but I acutely found it to be a deceptively profound film. Beneath everything it is a movie about people who have become things that they never intended to be, whether that's a shallow person, a political puppet, or a suicide-bomber designate. It is also more obviously about the American dream as continuously elusive concept, no matter what one accomplishes in life.

While lampooning our silly reality TV, celebrity obsessed culture, uninspiring leadership, and ineffective handling of foreign policy, the film blames none of these things for our current state of malaise. Instead Weitz puts the blame for our sorry, sorry world and lives right where it belongs, on us. It is an uncomfortable truth the film conveys in an almost parable like fashion, you can skip over it if your not paying attention, but be moved and struck by if you are. Most of these characters have good hearts, they've just kind of given up and allowed themselves to be trapped by circumstance.

Dennis Quaids President Joe Staton is no mere mockery of George W. Bush, though both can seem a bit slow and simplisticly religious. Staton is a recovering alcoholic who's found Jesus, his mother wanted him to get into politices to prove to his father (himself now a former President) that "any idiot can do it." Having just scored a re-election victory after a long and hard fought campaign, Staton wakes-up the Wednesday after to a crises of identity, 'why me?', 'why did I win?', 'Am I truly good enough?', and sends his butler on the unusual quest to get him a newspaper. Willem Dafoe is Statons Cheney-like Chief of Staff and the true power behind the throne, for years he has been controlling Joe and when the nations chief executive starts exhibiting signs of independence he re-asserts that control and even starts medicating the head of State. But even Dafoe's harsh character is opened up somewhat near the end of the film, when one of Statons actions reminds him of the spark he saw in the man years earlier that made him think he could mold him into a great president. I also loved Marcia Gay Harden as the caring and quietly strong Laura Bush-type First Lady.

Hugh Grant's Martin Tweed is a slightly harsher, much more self-destructive version of Idols Simon Cowell. Self-loathing and often cruel his humanity shows sign of reawakening when he meets a contestant on his top-rated TV show from a small, poor Ohio town who is almost as false as he is. Her name is Sally Kendoo and she is played to perfection by Mandy Moore, an actress I never wanted to like but I'm afraid I do. Kendoo ends up beating out an assortment of other contestants (some appear to have been based on real idol participants, such as Clay Aakin), to end up competing against Omar (the very likeable Sam Golzari) for the grandprize.
That Omar was a misfit, show-tune loving, terror trainee whose superiors had given up on him until under deep cover he landed what was suppose to have been his cousin's gig on American Dreamz, is the storyline that sets up the films potently explosive climax.

While there are a number of other characters in American Dreamz worth exploring, I'm going to end this review now and suggest you see the film in order to get acquainted with them. American Dreamz is not a great film in the traditional sense, but it certainly goes beyond its conventional trappings to create an unusual comedy that is worth thinking about.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Soviet Stuff

Found some cool links to old Russian Communist-type video clips on YouTube that I thought I would share. First a little animated history, then a look at Stalins death. A little "inspiring propaganda" and military parade. A Soviet slide-show and an example of fine quality eastern-block automotive technology. Lots of Lenin, a communist cartoon, and finally, a rocket launch.

Coherent Plot is Missing

The Otto Preminger Centennial

Bunny Lake is Missing is a movie that just didn't work for me. This 1965 film about the disappearance of a four year old girl who might or might not be real, is alternately jarring and proddingly slow. With the exception of Sir. Laurence Olivier and Noel Coward the cast is made up of relative unknowns, the strongest of whom as a performer is Carol Lynley as Ann Lake. I've said before that for me Preminger films usually divide between the great and the horrible, and while Bunny is not the worst thing Preminger did (to me that would be The Man With The Golden Arm, though granted I've not seen any of his ill-reputed later work), it's still something I don't ever care to see again. Here is hopping that the upcomming remake with Reese Witherspoon is better.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Tune In To The Glenn Beck Program

Well Glenn Beck started his new CNN Headline News program tonight, and I thought it was pretty good. I think Glenn still needs to perfect his TV style , and some of his jokes where kind of lame, but his likability translated well to television. They did some interesting things visually as well, both in terms of occasional stylized shoots and some gags about TV news 'boxes'. Glenn even managed to swing an interview with the President. I think the show is just different enough to work, it reminded me a little (ironical of course) of Michael Moores TV Nation, and that programs slyly satirical approach to real issues. Some people are already trying to get Glens show canceled however, as witness this site maintained by people who might be taking some of Mr. Becks comments just a little to seriously.


The People over at Republicans Hate America don't seem to like Glenn either. I am attempting some kind of discourse with them, monitor its progress via this link.

Also Media Matters is keeping taps on absolutely everything it thinks Beck does wrong. Media Matters sets itself up as an objective non-partisan site, but I've scanned their web page and it looks as though they pick their targets based more on politices then on anything else. I may be wrong on this, but can anybody site me an instance where someone who might be considered a liberal received censure from Media Matters?

Also I'm afraid that I don't quite understand what the big deal is about Glenn calling the Saudi government "dirtbags". I mean I find this especially perplexing coming from the political left, the Saudi government doesn't have a great record when it comes to personal freedom, the statues of women, or capital punishment, not to mention that their ties to the Bush family are routinely trotted out as being ominous and compromising. It's a repressive regime why not call its leadership 'dirtbags'? Saudi Arabia is not high on the neocon overthow list, so I don't see how fears of that kind of rhetoric (which when you think about it 'dirtbag' is pretty tame), translates into any substantive geo-political concern. If the hard left doesn't have problems with critiquing our own government with Bush/Hitler comparisons, why is the equation of the Saudi government to 'dirtbags' so offensive? I personally probably wouldn't call the Saudi leadership 'dirtbags' but that's largely because of how much worse their likely alternative government would be.

He's Most Wanted, But Not By The Ladys

Warren Jeffs the prophet/president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been added to the FBI's Most Wanted List. Warren who took over the churchs presidency after the death of 92 year-old Rulon Jeffs four years ago, is a recluse who has been gradually trying to move his faiths center of operations form its Utah/Arizona homeland to Texas. Jeffs is wanted on charges of sex with minors, and the facilitation and propagation of polygamous marriages, many of them of under-aged girls to middle-aged men. The positioning of Jeffs on the FBI's most wanted list is the culmination of an increased crack-down on polygamists by the U. S. government since the late 1990's.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The White House Jobs Program

A West Wing Word

Episode: 'Institutional Memory'

While last weeks episode was set in mid-to-late November, this week we've leapt forward to early January. C. J. and Danny have been seeing each other for some time now and we find them up and getting ready for their day at about 6:30 in the morning. They are going over there schedule for the week and C.J. is breaking most of their plans together because she says she's got a lot left to do at work. Ms. Craig shows up at the White House a short time later only to find that her staff has already started packing up her office, they have less then two weeks left in power.

C.J. starts her work day by bugging everyone about their transition memos, having a fight with some treasury department people about last minute budget changes they need made, and trying to put off more meetings with 'head hunters' who want to offer her cushy corporate jobs. Then Xander Berkley shows up as a cross between Bill Gates and that Virgin Corp guy. His name is Franklin Hollis, he is very rich and wants to start a foundation to chose one major issue in the world that needs fixing and then spend Ten Billion Dollars to fix it. He would like C.J. to chose that problem and head that foundation. C.J. is obvious Very tempted and expresses an interest in improving infrasturcter in Africa, creating a continental highway system that would spur trade and lead to other improvements.

Will goes off to a meeting about a job offer with the DCCC, apparently they want him to be their national campaign director supervising congressional races across the country. During a conversation with his interviewer about intriguing races for the 2008 off-year election, the Oregon Fourth district is brought up. A hard-core Republican named John Heffinger has held that seat for 15 years and the Democrat's would love to unseat him but can't find anybody willing to run against him. Will, who is still undecided about the job, decides to make it his mission for the day to find someone good to run against Heffinger.

C.J. is back in her office when Andrea Wyatt stops by to lobby for a pardon for ex-husband Toby. Since he only leaked the secret shuttle information to save the lives of the astronauts up on the space station, a lot of groups think he's a hero and many people have signed a petition to have him pardoned. Toby has been convicted and is scheduled to start his five year sentence at a minimum security prison in St. Petersburg Florida starting January 26th. The twins would then be nine year old before they could again see their father in anything other then an orange jumpsuit. C.J. doesn't know if she should bring the matter to the President or not, so she askes Charlie to bring her a copy of the list containing all the names of people who have filled for pardons. Charlie is able to tell her that Toby is not on the final draft list, nor was his name included in any of the earlier versions.

Our Ms. Craig is then called over to the OEOB for a meeting requested by President-elect Santos. Will is going out again at the same time so the two walk together for a while. He informs C.J. that a reporter mentioned something to him about a new 50 cent gas tax being included in the Presidents final budget proposal. She says that they are not ready to talk about that yet, but does give Will the names of a few good prospects in his search for somebody to run in Oregon. When C.J. meets with Santos he offers her a job, and not as a nicety either, he basically demands (semi-politely) that she stay on as his special council for two years, to help deal with the Kazick situation that started on her watch. Santos gives her sometime to think about it, but lets her know that as the incoming President he expects her answer to be a yes.

Now back at the White House C.J. asks Kate her opinion about bringing up the matter of a pardon for Toby with the President, Kate thinks Toby deserves his punishment for violating national security protocols, but says its up to C.J. if she wants to mention it to Bartlet or not. At this point Danny arrives and convinces Clauda Jean to go out and grab a hot dog with him. On their way to the hot dog stand C.J. mentions Santos offer and that she's decided she has to take it. This makes Danny mad because he wasn't consulted and the two have a bit of an argument about her always putting off having a serious talk about where they are going with their relationship. Danny ends up getting the impression C.J. hasn't factored him into her future and thusly storms off.

Meanwhile Will and Kate are having a discussion in his office. Kate says that some guy she doesn't get along with named Glen has gotten the job of National Security Advisor to the new President, and that he will probably not offer her a job (Kate is the deputy to current NSA Dr. Nancy McNally). Will mentions his meeting with the DCCC, his desire to find a good candidate for the Oregon 4th & subsequent failure to convince his best prospect for that race to agree to run. Kate comes up with the idea that Will should move to Oregon and run for the office himself, at first he demurs, but Kate is absolutely convinced and adament that it is something Will needs to do, and that he'll win to boot.

Santos stops by C.J.'s office on his way to meeting in the situation room. He has learned about the last minute gas tax spike in the budget proposal and is none to happy about it. C.J. then proceeds to explain that it was her idea, that she convinced the President to plant the tax hike as a macguffen, to make whatever budget proposals the Santos team comes up with look incredibly reasonable and insure there quick passage through congress. Santos still wants it out though thinking it will do more harm then good, but he recognizes her creativity and again emphasizes that he wants her to stay on.

Having been pulled in so many different directions over the course of the day, and Tobys fate weighing heavy on her mind, C.J. goes to visit Mr. Ziegler at his townhouse, it will be the first time they have spoken since he left the White House. The two's conversation is awkward and a little hostel at first, but they start to reconnect after a while. Toby mentions that with all the free time he's had lately he believes he's found a typo in the Constitution and intends to do a paper on it. C.J. talks about all the job offers she's gotten and Toby picks up on the vibe that she's feeling kind of trapped by circumstance. He encourages her to stop bouncing back and forth between things and chose something she wants to do for herself, and not to let her perceived responsibilities get in the way of her relationship with Danny Concannon. C. J. then goes over to Dannys apartment and the two finally have that conversation she's been putting off. In the end it seems they will stay together and C.J. will turn down the Santos offer to head up Frank Hollises foundation.

Hey, Shouldn't You Be Working?

Yes, yes I've got a lot to do today: Three finals to study for and a somewhat taxing essay to complete. But hey, even the most important of people know to take some time out of their day to relax. I think our current president is a great example in this, he never lets being leader of the free world interfere with a little R&R. So take a lesson from the Commander N' Chief, life's to short to be strictly business.


Play free Tetris, click here.


This is the last political cartoon drawn by the late Herbert Block to be published. It ran in the Washington Post on Aug 26th 2001 and is still oddly accurate for today. If only Mr. Block (who was 91 at the time of his passing) had lived another month I'm sure we would have gotten some on target commentary on Sept. 11th out of him.

To see more memorable Herblock cartoons click here.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The 5 Kinds of Mormons

I kind of liked this little artical, enjoy.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Utah War: Mr. Moore Goes to Orem

A Documentary Review:
This Divided State

Director Steven Greenstreet dropped out of college to make this film documenting the controversy surrounding the visit of liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to the UVSC campus just weeks before the 2004 general election. The film does a good job at capturing in microcosm our nations polarization at that time even in the reddest of the red states, providing many examples of the intemperate rhetoric employed by both right and left in regards to the Iraq War, freedom of speech, matters of decorum and of course the 2004 presidential race itself. But perhaps most importantly, at least to me, this film documents the disturbing political intolerance that can be found among a large portion of (largely western) Latter-day Saints. This is a subject that is under-addresed by Mormons in general and we are lucky that Greenstreets documentary contains so many compelling personal narratives to bring that point home to the viewer. I highly recommend this film as a tool for Mormons who would like to further promote discussion on the important issues of faith, politics, tolerance, and decorum.

Click here to watch the trailer

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Speaking Some Truth To Power

I have been intrigued lately by the new book American Theocracy. I guess you could say I've been filtering with it, having read a number of reviews and almost purchasing the audio book the other week at Boarders (instead I got DVD's of Otto Premingers The Cardinal, and The Bad Seed). From what I know of the book the points that author Kevin Phillips (himself a former Republican strategist) makes reflect my growing concerns about the Republican party to which I belong. In the not-so-distant future I'm sure I'll purchase a copy, but for those who would like a taste of what the books about click this link for a roughly 20 minute NPR interview with the author.

Louis Rukeyser Dead at 73.

In Memory

Louis Rukeyser, economist and commentator who hosted PBS's Wall Street Week for 32 years has died of multiple myeloma. Rukeyser whose pun-filled monologues and talent for making complicated economic issues sound simple was perhaps the publics favorite economist for much of his television run. Hitting his popular culture peak in the 1980's Rukeyser was mentioned or shown on the television series Family Ties and the movie Uncle Buck.

Monday, May 01, 2006


A Movie Review

The film United 93 by writer director Paul Greengrass is not a film that can easily be captured in words. To come even close I would suggest somehow getting ahold of Glenn Becks broadcast of last Friday. Sufice it to say a powerful moving film that recaptures much of how you felt that September day nearly five years ago. Benefits greatly from a highly focused scope and meticulous research.

Happy 90th Glenn Ford

Dead Celebrity of the Month, May 2006: Jack Nance

Born in Boston and Raised in Dallas, Marvin John Nance (1943-1996) had an interest in acting from an early age. While in his 20's he traveled around the country appearing in local productions, children's theater, and later experimental films. At one point he was hired to play a 1920's style gangster for a week at a Nevada casino. The rules for him and his co-workers in the gig was that they where to remain in character at all times unless in their hotel rooms. Well Jack remained in character even in his hotel room, and when a reporter for a major magazine attempted to interview him, thinking he would do a major favor for the young actor by giving his name national exposure, Jack threatened him with a gang-land style death for his pestering and refused to give out his real name. Mr. Nance eventually landed a solid gig at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, he stayed there for eight years.

It was while traveling the country that Jack Nance first meet David Lynch while visiting Philadelphia where the later was attending art school. The two bonded over a mutual love of carpentry and eventually reconnected years later when David had a fellowship at the American Film Institute in southern California. Lynch gave Nance the lead role of Henry Spencer in his extremely odd film Eraserhead, a movie which was filmed over the coarse of five years in the back lot of AFI. Eraserhead eventually became a great hit in the mid-night movie circuit of the late 1970's, established Lynchs unique cinematic stylings and in a very real sense made his career. Nance however was not quite so lucky in getting his own film work, though his good friend Lynch did give him a role in every one of his subsequent films made during Jacks life time, with the exception of The Elephant Man which had an English setting.

Nances roles in the Lynch films were always small supporting parts often as henchmen such as in Dune, or crazy people like in Wild at Heart, or crazy henchmen as in Blue Velvet. It was on the set of Blue Velvet that Nance, inspired by actor Dennis Hoopers recent success at the Beatty Ford clinic, agreed to enter his own detoxt program for his crippling alcoholism, an addiction that was largely responsibility for the breakup of his marriage with Catherine Coulson (an actress and production assistant who later played 'the log lady' on Twin Peaks). Nances treatment proved to be a great success and he reentered acting, landing parts in minor films such as Motorama and Meatballs 4, as well as creating his now most famous characterization, that of soft-spoken but resolute lumber mill manager Pete Martell on the Lynch produced TV series Twin Peaks. It was also during this period that Jack meet and later married Kelly Van Dyke, daughter of actor Jerry Van Dyke. Kelly however had many major personal problems and the two had a rocky marriage, when Jack threatened to leave her she told him over the phone that she was going to commit suicide. Before Nance or the police could reach Kellys residence she had hung herself, an event that was emotionally devastating to Nance.

Only a few years after Kellys death Jack was diagnosed with cancer and relapsed into drinking. Having largely withdrawn from the rest of the world Jack hooked up with some mysterious new 'friends'. Then in December of 1996 he apparently got into some kind of a fight at a Winchell's donut shop, when a friend came to check on him the next day he reportedly found the actor dead in his apartment. The mysterious circumstances surrounding Nances death have left its cause in doubt, it can alternately be found listed as a heart attack and as a homicide. Jacks last days are investigated in the 2002 documentary I Don't Know Jack, which also covers the actors life and career. Jack Nances last film role was as an auto mechanic in David Lynchs Lost Highway, a film released after the actors death.