A bit about Iraq

Frequent readers / people who know me are probably aware that I have… let’s call them “issues” with the war in Iraq. Specifically, I think it was a horrendous tactical blunder and moreso I don’t see any evidence that the now-targeted “endgame” – i.e. getting a nation overwhelmingly dominated by violent, religion-maddened tribalists to simply “skip” centuries of cultural evolution and go directly from killing one another of who goes to the right church to Jeffersonian Democracy in a few years – can realistically be achieved even if we DO manage to stabilize the day-to-day operations. We should leave, is my opinion, with the recognition that this CANNOT be done all at once and that we’ll probably continue to have bases there same as we still do in Japan and Germany of course… but we should be focused on how to best end the military operation proper.

So far, the war has failed to dominate the presidential race mostly because it’s so much in flux. The only thing you can be sure of is that the war will end SOONER than Republicans say it has to and LATER than Democrats promise it will. In fact, given that the election of a new president doesn’t magically change every single general and officer in the field and at the Pentagon overnight it’s probably going to end around the same time regardless of which side wins. The difference will be the rhetoric: A Democrat president will say that the war ended because Democrats ended it and shame on the Republicans for trying to stop the ending, a Republican will says that it’s able to end because Republicans pushed for us to “surge” long enough to get over the hump and shame on the Democrats for trying to stop THAT.

In any case, I’m generally against prolonging the war without realistic cause. I’m reasonably certain that Barack Obama agrees with me about this, but then again I can’t be sure because for me to know conclusively would require that Obama say something of actual substance and/or definition in his speeches and so far that hasn’t happened yet. (Look guys, I like Barack just fine but the whole tone of his campaign up to this point turns me off completely – “Obamania” comes off more like a self-help religious movement than a political campaign, and that friends is when I check out. Call me back when the actual one-on-one campaign starts, where presumably he’ll have to drop the poetry and make with the policy.) Hillary Clinton also agrees with me, which makes me feel kinda icky inside.

Meanwhile, John McCain most-definately disagrees with me; which is dissapointing but entirely unsurprising and not really enough to make me seriously reconsider my position. No, when Bob takes a political stance generally the only thing that can shake his resolve is to have a beautiful woman try to talk him out of it. I’m proud to say this is only effective about 96% of the time. So, on that note, here’s Angelina Jolie’s Washington Post article, in which the erstwhile star of “Tomb Raider” argues on behalf of extending U.S. Military presence in Iraq:

No, really. Angelina Jolie. And I even checked: Up is still up, and Hell is apparently pretty humid. This DOES help to explain that flying pig from earlier, though.

Now, someone help me out here. I can’t decide which of these three new revelations is more confounding:

A globe-trotting “world citizen” from Hollywood generally seen as an icon of the “decadent liberal culture” so-called conservatives love to hate who’s currently working with the United Nations giving something close to a thumbs-up to the military policy of a Republican president and his potential successor…

The fact that most of the actual full-on U.N. personel usually can’t screw in a lightbulb without touching off a wave of corruption charges, bribery scandals and mismanagement…. but a pregnant lady who kinda does this job part-time in between a dozen other altruistic enterprises and making movies can go into a literal war zone, meet-with and provide a detailed report on every major player in the situation and emerge without even an “oops, I tripped on some rubble” issue…

OR the somewhat worrisome notion that the female lead from “Hackers” here argues this case more compellingly and with infinitely greater detail and reasoning than the President of the United States has been able to for SEVEN YEARS. Again, I’m not saying I’m changing my mind on this, but it IS the first time I’ve heard the opposing point argued this well outside of agenda-driven (and therefore largely untrustworthy) editorial mags.

So… that happened. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a bunker I need to get to before the dogs and cats start living together.

Not dead, Oscars and Hillary Clinton

Yegh. Another week I just kinda forget to post anything. It happens.

Here’s the thing: The bloggers who update constantly tend to either be doing in professionally or have jobs where they’re at their PC most of the day to begin with. Myself? Not so much. Can’t blog from work, not getting paid to do this, so there really are times when I just can’t get up the energy to type up a post. Part of this is also just personal preference; I’d prefer this not to be a “Hi, me again, fed the cat, nothing going on” blog because that leads to page after page of nonsense pushing the more in-depth posts/videos off the page too fast.

So, then… The Oscars happened. Not a lot of surprises. Stewart was great. Ratings down again, unsurprising since the nominees were all smaller-release films for the most part.

What else happened… oh, yeah, this:

I bring this up mainly because watching it I realized that this is the first time in my LIFE I’ve ever actually come close to liking Hillary Clinton. I DON’T like her, I stress. In fact I consider her a fairly reprehensible creature. But in the decade-plus of being aware of her, this bit of business making fun of Barack Obama’s cheezy “yes we can!” stump speeches is the only time I’ve ever nodded along and said “yes, exactly.”

(Full disclosure: I’m a registered Independent, will likely go for John McCain because he’s politically moderate and the most experienced person likely to run. Could never vote for Hillary, as she strikes me as evil. I like Obama, lame student-council-treasurer style speeches excepted, but I’ve already done eight years under a wholly-inexperienced president who coasted in on folksy likability so… no thanks. 4 to 8 years from now when he runs again? Different story. He’ll probably be a formidable political force by then, and maybe he’ll have dropped the starry-eyed tent-revival B.S. too)

Here’s the thing, though: I think the witch is absolutely spot-on right here, but this was a BAD move. You NEVER make fun of a popular speech by your opponent, because what you’re really mocking isn’t him – it’s the people who LIKE him. Now, yeah… I happen to think the kids who’re actually getting legitimately misty and moved over Obama’s grade-school self-esteem-building exercises could USE a little “gimme a break” bop on the noggin… but she needs these them to turn around and vote for HER. Horrible, horrible move and a real sign of desperation.

And yet she’s STILL got a 50% chance of winning, because it’s WHOLLY possible for her and Bill to engineer a good old-fashioned smoky-backroom super-delegate deal at the convention. Yeah, it’ll tear the guts out of the Democrats as a party, inflame American racial tensions in a way not seen since Rodney King and likely disillusion an entire generation of young voters who got swept up in Obamania for ten years or more. It’s the Clintons. You think they WOULDN’T do all that for their own gain?


(Side-note: Happy Birthday to me.)

I was happy enough with the way the first “Game OverThinker” video turned out I dove right into number two, so here it is. Just don’t take this as some indicator of how regularly these will be up… the first two subjects were issues/ideas that I’ve been chewing on for awhile so they were realized pretty quick – if I opt to tackle something that requires more (read: ANY) research or deeper consideration it’ll probably take longer.

In any case, Episode 2 here falls under the needlessly-pretentious title of “Super Mario and The Sacred Feminine.” If you only listen to one 9 minute 55 second clip of a video-game addicted Movie Geek pontificating about post-feminist sexual politics and gender roles in gaming, the notion of neo-pagan Goddess themes in the Mario series plus a brief aside about Japan and how the long shadow it casts on game-culture worldwide to this day makes these academic exercises exponentially more complicated, I humbly ask that you make it this one. Enjoy!

Direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iNs5iG2h34

Last of the Cold Warriors

And just like that, an entire era in the history of the modern world comes to a close: Fidel Castro announces he will resign his post as President of Cuba. http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/02/19/castro/index.html

So departs from the world stage the last grandly important living figure of the Cold War political scene. Castro held on to power through nine U.S. presidents and a punishing American embargo, so the fact that this comes after his recent health issues should tell you the rest: Odds are his outlook isn’t good, and he’s splitting now to avoiding dying in office and thus not having the chance to engineer the trajectory of his successor (likely to be his brother Raoul.)

Castro will unquestionably be remembered as one of the most fascinating political figures of the post-WWII age. His transformation from charismatic Marxist revolutionary to saavy, sabre-rattling leader to murderous dictatorial tyrant is the stuff that legends are made of… even legends of ultimately evil men which I don’t think it can be argued is what Castro finally wound up as even if the innevitability of such may be less certain. Point is, now the legend has an ending.

In other words: Actors of note – particularly those of Latino descent – wishing to win an Oscar about four to five years from now, please start getting chemically-acclimated to aging makeup and beard appliances ASAP.

HEADLINE: Atheism Empirically Proven Incorrect

Here’s a partial list of things I haven’t done lately:

  • I have not saved any infants from burning buildings.
  • I have not retrieved my great-aunt’s cat from a tall tree.
  • I have not helped give soup to the homeless.
  • I have not read “Peter Rabbit” to child cancer patients in the Terminal Ward.
  • I have not air-dropped medical supplies to Darfur.
  • I have not given one red cent to the collection plate of any church anywhere.
  • I have not martyred myself in the Colosseum.
  • I have not slain the Dragon imperiling the local serfdom.
    I have not given up all worldly possessions to walk the Earth proclaiming His Word.

So, then… someone want to explain to me what I did to earn THIS?:

That would be Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson on the red carpet for “The Other Boleyn Girl,” doing something they could previously only be seen doing in my imagination 20-30 times a day. News item here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=515051&in_page_id=1773

Familiar Territory

As you may have heard Steven Kazmierczak, a mentally-ill former student, went on a shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University. 16 wounded, 5 dead plus Kazmierczak himself – who stayed in character and took the coward’s way out denying his victims and their families justice and his own family the chance to ask the simple question of “why?” May he burn in hell.

You already know how Act II goes. Here’s today’s “New York Post”:

Yes, once again so far as the media is concerned the fact that the shooter at one point played a gun-related video game (“Counterstrike,” this time) loosely translates to “case closed.” Jack Thompson has already done his news rounds, expect to hear from Joseph Lieberman, Tipper Gore, Hillary Clinton and maybe L. Brent Bozell and Lynne Cheney if we’re “lucky.” This is, of course, also an election issue because one of the three likely presidential candidates, one Barack Obama, happens to be the Jr. Senator from Illinios.

Lemme spoil the beginning of Act III for ya: You’re probably going to hear about the need to “clamp down” on media/gaming violence from the candidates. Almost-certainly from John McCain, partly because it’s an issue he’s been on the “pro” side of before but more likely because Joe Lieberman is his Robin (Jason Todd version.) Of course, what John McCain thinks on the matter means precisely bupkiss because he’s a Republican and – whatever their other MYRIAD flaws might be – at the end of the day the Republican Party’s default-setting on corporate regulation is to be against it. Republicans grouse and grandstand about it, but at the end of the day it’s Democrats – whatever their other MYRIAD positives might be – tend to be the ones who pull the trigger when it comes to federally “encouraged” censorship/regulation. And everybody already knows where Hillary Clinton stands on the matter – NEXT TO Tipper “Parental Advisory Warning” Gore.

So, then, all eyes on Obama, who here has a REAL chance to show his starry-eyed young disciples some actual substance behind “Hope,” “Change” and the rest of his lovely-sounding but fairly empty “new kind of Democrat” roadshow. Senator? This is YOUR state and a big issue in the country YOU want to lead. What say you? Are you going to be the Democrat who finally says “no” to the pro-censorship whiners… something that would be an ACTUAL “Change?” Or are you going to let all those bright young things at your rallies down and be more of the same.

I’m not holding my breath.

Indiana Jones Teaser (Update!)

I went to bed RIGHT after posting the business about the early “bootleg” trailer, and part of me woke up seriously wondering if I’d dreamed the “big part.” Well, I didn’t. Here’s the real thing. Watch now:


Let’s do this in order (coincidentally, I’m aware that this is the internet so some of you may have been reading spoilers or downloading scripts and may already “know” stuff that looks like setups for intriguing possibilities to me since I HAVEN’T been reading spoilers. I’m not planning to talk about anything outside of what I see IN THIS TRAILER or what I think it might mean given other things WIDELY KNOWN about the film, and I’d ask that any commenters extend the same courtesy to myself and other readers.):

0:01 – I like how the “recap” part between here and 0:50 is sort of trying to toy with expectations what with the kinda generic whoosh-cuts, the cheeseball Michael Bay shot of the slow-motion billowing flag at sunset over a military convoy and the “Children of Dune” score before we get The Hat and the iconic music cue.

0:58 – Settled: They’re not going to try and dance around Ford being noticeably older. Good call in my estimation.

1:00 – That’s more like it.

1:04 – Cate Blanchete as our apparently Soviet villainess. Sweet.

1:06 – Whip-swing!!! Awesome. But wait now… where are we, exactly? Why is Archaeologist Indiana Jones doing his thing in a big warehouse full of crates? Wait…

1:10 – Ha!

1:14 – FREEZE IT right there! The crate (we’re still in the warehouse, apparently) in the truck Indy just commanders has “TOP SECRET ARMY INTEL” printed on it. Indiana Jones. Warehouse full of Military secrets. Like the kind they shelved The Ark of The Covenant in.

1:19 – There’s Shia LeBouf. Kid, you’ve got just as much to appologize for as EVERYONE ELSE involved with “Transformers,” pennance starts HERE.

1:22 – Mezo-American tribal warriors, looks like. Seeming to confirm that the “Crystal Skull” of the title is the Mayan (“Mitchell-Hedges”) one. More on that in just a bit.

1:26 – And the Atom Bomb drops. A metallic, apparently-magnetized box with military-style printing reading “ROSWELL NEW MEXICO – 1947.” Roswell. 1947. The location and date of the famous alleged UFO CRASH in history.

1:27 on – Explosion, airplane, temple, car chase, more tribesmen, Karen Allen, awesome… but NOTHING after it is going to cause as much speculation as that box from Roswell.

So… we have Crystal Skulls in the title, Mayans in a temple, what MIGHT BE the warehouse for the Lost Ark and a box from Roswell dated the year of the crash. I think this points to something, and if I’m CLOSE to right it’s potentially a really big, brave idea. ONCE AGAIN, these is just MY CONJECTURE: If there are in fact spoilers that confirm OR refute any of it, I DON’T want to know about, okay?

Okay… Crystal Skulls (read: human skulls carved from crystal) are a reccuring item in pop-archaeology. Frequently the subject of hoaxes or misinformation, they mostly crop up because similar items are mentioned in various Native American legends. The most famous one is called the “Mitchell-Hedges” Skull, supposedly said to have been found under a Mayan temple (Mayan, Senecca and Cherokee Indians all have Crystal Skulls in their ancient mythology.) This claim is largely believed to be false, but the skull itself is real and it’s actual origins have not been fully identified.

Here’s where it gets interesting: When the Skulls pop up in popular culture, it’s usually in connection to the Indian legend in which the Skulls are brought and/or created by celestial beings (“gods.”) They often enjoyed a ressurgence in popularity whenever Erik von Daniken’s “The Chariots of The Gods” is also ‘big’ again – in the book, von Daniken theorizes that mankinds stories of “divine” encounters were actual Extra-Terrestrial encounters (“God is an astronaut,” in other words.) See where I’m going with this?

If the Crystal Skulls AND Roswell are BOTH in here, I’d say it’s a distinct possibility that some element of “The Ancient Gods were aliens” will be explored here. But MORE intriguingly… if (and I’ll admit, this is a REALLY REALLY big “if”) that’s the warehouse from Raiders… will we also be suggesting that the Judeo-Christian God (as in “I Am Who Am”) Indy has twice semi-encountered in the earlier films might ALSO have actually been Daniken’s “Ancient Astronauts?” Just saying… it could be.

May 22nd can’t get here fast enough.

Indiana Jones

I’ll do a longer bit on this later in the day when the “official” version of this makes itself known online. For now, AICN has a decent-quality bootleg of the first trailer for “Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull” up here: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/35616

Here’s why I’m too amped-up to wait for the full-quality thing to point it out: Take a look at the clip at about (theres no timestamp on the video) 1 minute 22 seconds in, which appears to show Cate Blanchete’s character inspecting a metallic box that’s magnetized for some reason. Take a look at what’s written on it.

Holy shit.

That’s all I’ve got for now.


Yes, it’s been almost a week since the last new post. Wanted to drop a review of some of this weekends new releases… ‘cept I didn’t go see anything and, frankly, do you really need ME to tell you if “Fool’s Gold” is going to be any good?

Truth is, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on something I’ve been working toward for awhile now; and it’s finally in a form I’m reasonably comfortable putting online: I’m paying some big-picture respect to my 2nd great geek-love by joining the ranks of gamer-culture “video bloggers.”

This has been kind of a (relatively) new web phenomenon for awhile now. Apparently it got “decided” at some point that while movies and politics are best commented on through text-reviews, video games would be best served by breathless, minutia-strewn multimedia presentations. To get some idea of what the BEST versions of this look like, well… if you aren’t ALREADY making “Zero Punctuation” (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/zeropunctuation) and “The Angry Video Game Nerd” (http://www.screwattack.com/AngryNerdMain.html) regular visits, you should be.

Now, I’m not even going to pretend that what I’m turning in here is anywhere NEAR the kind of quality you’d see from Mssrs. Croshaw and Rolfe on a regular basis, but I am surprisingly proud of how it turned out. For the record, my baby down there is called “The Game OverThinker;” the general premise being to take broad, seemingly simple questions or “memes” of gamer culture and think way, way, WAY to deeply about them (example: Currently working toward an episode set to be titled “Super Mario and The Sacred Feminine.”) For this opening shot, the subject-proper is the depressing “sameness” about modern-era games and particularly their increasingly-bland lead characters.

I hope you like it, and feedback is GREATLY appreciated. Seriously. If this sucks, I need to know 😉

Devin Faraci is better than you

Dare you to doubt him? CHUD’s erstwhile columnist/malcontent elaborates on his boundless moral, intellectual and clarity-of-vision superiority to all beings ESPECIALLY fellow entertainment journalists here: http://chud.com/articles/articles/13543/1/THE-DEVIN039S-ADVOCATE-THE-DIRTY-DOUBLE-STANDARD/Page1.html

And this was someone who’s work he apparently LIKED – imagine if Ledger had passed-on having at some point contributed to the production of a film based on a toy/cartoon property from the 80s? This’d probably be part-five of a ten-part series…