Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CBS's Jericho - A bleak future

Eh, this show's making me feel icky. The war between Jericho and New Bern was one thing, but an entire military fascist government set up in Cheyenne that is just this instant Nazi-like dictatorship is not a fun show to watch each week. If they're so evil so quickly, it'd be easier to swallow if they were aliens, like in V. But I think there are too many good people and freedom-loving people in the US to just put up with something like this, especially guys in the military. "Follow an unelected leader who's a puppet for a black-hearted corporation? Yes sir!" Not buying it.

I recognize it's a metaphor. They're basically saying in nuclear war, Halliburton and Blackwater now rule the western U.S. D.B. Sweeney is doing a good job of being evil. I hate his character and can't wait for him to die.

Obama wins again

I watched most of the debate, and when Hillary tried to snipe at Obama by quoting Saturday Night Live and asking if he wanted an extra pillow, the silent awkwardness screamed that she'd lost the debate and had lost the 2008 campaign to be the Democratic nominee. I can't even see Hillary engaging in the scorched-Earth mechaninations that would be required for her to steal the nomination. Hillary and Huckabee are now equally relevant. Both can only hope for a brokered convention and riots to have a prayer of squeaking it out now.

So the real question is, "Who will be the vice-presidential picks for McCain and Obama?"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Acad Award Results

BEST PICTURE - No Country for Old Men
BEST DIRECTOR - The Coens, No Country for Old Men
BEST ACTOR - Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
BEST ACTRESS - Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM - Taxi to the Dark Side
BEST FOREIGN FILM - The Counterfeiters (Austria)
BEST COSTUMES - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
BEST MAKE-UP - La Vie En Rose
BEST ORIGINAL SONG - "Falling Slowly", Once
BEST FILM EDITING - The Bourne Ultimatum
BEST SOUND MIXING - The Bourne Ultimatum
BEST SOUND EDITING - The Bourne Ultimatum
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS - The Golden Compass
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT - Le Mozart Des Pickpockets
BEST ANIMATED SHORT - Peter & the Wolf

Friday, February 22, 2008

My Acad Award Odds

Ranking them in order of the chance I think they have of winning.

1-No Country for Old Men
3-There Will Be Blood
5-Michael Clayton

1-Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
2-Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
3-Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell & the Butterfly
4-Jason Reitman, Juno
5-Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton

1-Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
2-Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
3-Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
4-Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
5-George Clooney, Michael Clayton

1-Julie Christie, Away from Her
2-Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose
3-Ellen Page, Juno
4-Laura Linney, The Savages
5-Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

1-Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
2-Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
3-Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James BTCRF
4-Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
5-Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War

1-Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
2-Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
3-Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
4-Ruby Dee, American Gangster
5-Saoirse Ronan, Atonement

3-Michael Clayton
4-The Savages
5-Lars & the Real Girl

1-No Country for Old Men
2-The Diving Bell & the Butterfly
4-There Will Be Blood
5-Away from Her

1-No End in Sight
4-Taxi to the Dark Side
5-Operation Homecoming

3-Surf's Up

NBA Playoff Predictions

This season has been so unpredictable, but I'm going to go out on a limb anyway.

Playoffs: Boston, Detroit, Orlando, Cleveland, Toronto, Washington, Philadelphia, New Jersey
Barely missing: Atlanta, Chicago
Bottom five: Charlotte, Indiana, Miami, Milwaukee, New York

1. Boston
8. New Jersey

Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson, Sean Williams, DeSagna Diop, Stromile Swift and company wind up being a fairly decent team, and they actually make some of these games competitive. But KG, Ray and Pierce are men on a mission.
Winner: Boston in 5

4. Cleveland
5. Toronto

This is up in the air, as we need to see how the chemistry will be in LeBron-land with the new additions, but since LeBron is the best player in the East, I'm sure he can put them on his back in the playoffs. I think Ben Wallace will play with renewed motivation, on his healthy days Wally will be a good floor-spreading outside threat, and Delonte West will fit right in. Joe Smith may not be as good as Drew Gooden but his maturity makes up for it. Salary-cap wise, Cleveland may not be too happy next year, but for now, they've loaded up to go deep back into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, while the Raptors keep improving, I still don't see them strong enough to get past the first round. Another year of experience, and they eke that much closer.
Winner: Cleveland in 5

2. Detroit
7. Philadelphia

The playoff experience will be invaluable to Andre Iguodala. But...
Winner: Detroit in 4

3. Orlando
6. Washington

This could be a tight one. I'm guessing Caron Butler's return has an immediate positive impact on the Wizards and that Agent Zero makes it back as well. So Orlando will have its hands full. They still don't have that star point guard. Jameer Nelson's good, but not a point guard of an elite playoff team.
Winner: Orlando in 7

Boston beats Cleveland in 6
Detroit beats Orlando in 5

Playoffs: LA Lakers, New Orleans, Utah, San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Golden State
Barely missing: Denver, Portland
Bottom five: LA Clippers, Memphis, Minnesota, Sacramento, Seattle

1. LA Lakers
8. Golden State

Either Golden State or Denver will miss the playoffs, and my hunch is by one game, at 50-32 to Denver's 49-33, Golden State will squeak in. And the 8th seed will not pull off the upset they did last year. Kobe Bryant will win the regular season MVP and he will not fold like Dirk. Bynum will be back and healthy.
Winner: LA Lakers in 4

4. San Antonio
5. Phoenix

I think the Spurs will steadily keep winning 3 out of 4 while the Suns are going to stumble a couple of games with Shaq in there. This will be an intense playoff series. Phoenix will boo Robert Horry any time he's allowed on the floor. Ginobili will give Phoenix fits. This will feel like the Conference Finals.
Winner: San Antonio in 6

2. New Orleans
7. Houston

I think this is where experience will matter. Houston's seen the first round before, but not New Orleans, plus the Hornets have shown home-court isn't that much of an advantage for them. Each team has mismatches they can exploit, but I think this will be the year T-Mac finally gets the monkey off his back.
Winner: Houston in 7

3. Utah
6. Dallas

Another intense first-round match-up. I see Utah finishing third because they've won 20 of their last 23 games (assuming they beat the Clippers tonight). The key here is that Dallas got smaller and slower with Jason Kidd. Kidd's still good, Kidd's still a winner, but Deron Williams is quicker and a better shooter. Dirk will play outside more, leaving who to guard Boozer? And what does Dallas do if Dampier gets in foul trouble?
Winner: Utah in 6

LA Lakers beat San Antonio in 6
Utah beats Houston in 6

I think as long as San Antonio and Detroit aren't in the NBA Finals, the NBA head office will be happy. Lakers vs. Celtics is their dream, and it's looking like the most likely scenario.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Margot at the Wedding - DVD Review

MARGOT AT THE WEDDING (**) - Starring Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black, Zane Pais, John Turturro, Ciaran Hinds, Flora Cross and Halley Feiffer.
Directed by Noah Baumbach.

Intellectually I recognize there was some great acting going on here. Actors love playing flawed, dysfunctional characters, and this movie is full of them. But they are so flawed and dysfunctional and selfish and mean and immature that I didn't want to be around them anymore.

Kidman plays Margot, an older sister coming to visit her sister Pauline (Leigh) in Vermont the week of her wedding. Pauline's fiance is this oddball schlub Malcolm (Black) whom Margot instantly dislikes and spends the week passive-aggressively trying to get her sister to dump this guy, her delicate conidition thanks to him notwithstanding.

Baumbach's The Squid & the Whale was a painfully funny comedy-drama about two selfish, dysfunctional parents, and he one-ups himself here in the painful part. Great acting though.

The McCain "scandal"

I'm confused about this story on a few levels. The New York Times made it front page news that two former (re: disgruntled) aides in the McCain campaign felt like he was getting too close to a female lobbyist in 2000. The story doesn't accuse anythong untoward or illegal or unethical happened. It just drops innuendoes and quotes anonymous stories.

Why would the Times publish this story now? Why would they publish such a flimsy one at that? On one hand, maybe they have a lot more evidence they're sitting on. On the other hand, why not keep sitting on the story until you can really deliver one with meat, rather than this...thing?
I watched the press conference where Sen. McCain responded to the story and answered questions about it. He struck me as straight-forward. He answered reporters' questions until they were done. He pretty much accused these anonymous sources of lying, and now the burden of proof is on the Times to justify their story.

Why now? They'd been sitting on it for a couple months, non-story that it is. It probably would've helped Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee had it come out before South Carolina and Florida. So once McCain looked like he had the GOP nomination locked, this comes out. It just seems widly irresponsible for the paper known for making Jayson Blair a household name and plays into conservative conspiracy-theorists' hands about the Liberal Media.

Jazz on 19-3 run; West v. East

The Utah Jazz continued their domination of the Golden State Warriors, and Tuesday night's game was reminiscent of the playoffs. High scoring, fast running, and the Jazz were able to make some defensive stops when the Warriors couldn't.

Deron Williams continues to show why he should have been an All-Star this year. After setting a new record in the Skills challenge, he had 29 points, 12 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He's the real MVP of the team. Carlos Boozer's great, but when he's injured, Paul Millsap can step in the starting line-up and have an 18-point 10-board night. If the Jazz had to strictly rely on Ronnie Price and Jason Hart for PG production, they'd have a much tougher road. I think AK would play point-forward for chunks of that.

The Jazz's trouble is that they play in the ten-team West, where every loss is costly, where there's less than five games difference between 1st and 9th place, and 9th place could end the season with 50 wins.

My Western Power Rankings:
1. LA Lakers
2. Utah
3. San Antonio
4. Phoenix
5. Dallas
6. Houston
7. New Orleans
8. Denver
9. Golden State
10. Portland
11. Sacramento
12. Minnesota
13. LA Clippers
14. Seattle
15. Memphis

Despite Kobe's pinky injury, I see the Lakers as the most dangerous team in the playoffs. Pau Gasol's integration has been seamless, and Bynum's coming back soon from injury. A front-court of Fisher, Bryant, Odom, Gasol and Bynum is formidable, and Farmar & Walton are the second-unit sparks. Plus Phil Jackson is a master at working playoff referees.

Second is Utah due to them being 19-3 since the Korver trade.

Third is San Antonio because they're defending champs, and despite their regular season struggles, they are Old Faithful in the playoffs.

Fourth is Phoenix. Shaq is a major wild card, but the Suns were the best team in the NBA before the trade. Barely.

Fifth is Dallas. I don't necessarily believe Kidd makes them better talent-wise, but he probably makes them mentally tougher. He can soothe Dirk's fragile psyche by saying "Follow me. I've been to the Finals twice."

Next is Houston due to their winning nine straight.

Next is New Orleans due to their record and the dynamic duo of Paul and West. Their thin bench makes me doubt how far they could go in the playoffs.

Next is Denver. They need a trade if they want to get out of the second round. Artest is the main rumor, but I can't imagine a locker room with AI, Melo, Kenyon, JR Smith and Artest. Too many egos, and George Karl isn't known for managing egos.

I believe the seventh and eighth spots will come down to three teams - Houston, Denver and Golden State, and I see GS as the loser, finishing 49-33, which is tragic. They'd be the third seed in the East with that record.

Portland had a nice run there, and they will be a force next year with Greg Oden and another lottery pick in the line-up. They'll be a force for the next decade. But not this year. They need San Antonio and Phoenix and Dallas to get a year or two older.

Sacramento is throwing in the towel and starting over. Artest is being shopped. Trade deadline's in a few hours.

The LA Clippers need to make a move. Corey Maggette should have been traded last year. Granted, Elton Brand's been out all year, but their other weaknesses have truly been exposed without him.

Minnesota, Seattle and Memphis are rebuilding, and the latter two may move to different cities in the next couple years. The NBA should really retract a team, but they'll never do that.

Meanwhile in the East, there's Boston and Detroit who will play in the Eastern Conference finals, and then Orlando and Toronto and Cleveland are nice, and then there's a bunch of teams who'd rather go to the lottery, but someone has to fill those other seeds. Atlanta made the move they needed to and traded to get Mike Bibby. Should be good enough to get them in, even if they finish 38-44. Philly's hanging on to Andre Miller because they see they might get in.

Why is Isiah Thomas still employed? Even Spike Lee drank the Zach Randolph Kool-Aid. Honestly though, I think a good coach could get that very roster to the playoffs.

New Jersey is actually better off in the long run now that they have Devin Harris and some draft picks to play with. If they can get rid of Vince Carter, they'll be on their way.

LeBron's blood has to boiling that the West has made all these moves, and Boston beefed up over the summer, and management can't get him any help.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Obama a lock?

If Barack Obama wins Wisconsin today, I don't see how Hillary can win the nomination legitimately at this point. Obama will get another bump and is polling even with her in Texas. With Texas still weeks away, I can see him getting his numbers up and squeaking out a win. If they split Texas and Ohio, Obama is still going be ahead in delegates and popular vote and he keeps winning the smaller states. He's won twice as many primaries/caucuses as she has.

Now there's this flat-out childish accusation by Team Clinton that Obama is plagiarizing. Well, when I heard the offending line-trade, it sounded no more plagiarized to me than when she stole his "Are you fired up? Let's go to work!" call.

It still wouldn't surprise me if Hillary gets the nomination. The Clintons are masters of scorched-earth, Machiavellian politics, and whether it's suing to get the shouldn't-have-counted votes of Florida and Michigan counted, or strong-arming some superdelegates, she will not give up until Obama has the 2025 delegates. And party-unity-be-damned, I wonder what Team Clinton still has up their sleeve.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dancing with the Stars cast


Twelve celebrities - six men and six women -- attempt to outshine one another on a sixth season of the hit series "Dancing with the Stars," which returns Monday, March 17 (8:00-9:30 p.m., ET) on ABC. The Season Six cast includes some of our most lauded stars yet: an Academy Award winner, a Tony Award winner, an Olympic Gold medalist, a nine-time Grand Slam tennis champion and the NFL's current Man of the Year. Six teams will strut their stuff on Monday night, while the other six teams will show off their moves on Tuesday, March 18 (9:00-10:30 p.m., ET). All twelve couples will perform a second routine the following week on Monday, March 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), before the first elimination, Tuesday, March 25 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on "Dancing with the Stars the Results Show," where for the first time in the show's history, two couples' fates will be determined in a dramatic double elimination. In alphabetical order, the twelve stars making their ballroom dancing debut are:

Adam Carolla (partner Julianne Hough) - Television and radio personality Adam Carolla is host of the Los Angeles based and nationally syndicated morning radio program, "The Adam Carolla Show." The actor/comedian has his first starring film role in the soon to be released in "The Hammer" (in theaters March 21), which he co-wrote and co-produced. Carolla was also one of the creators and hosts of Comedy Central's "The Man Show" (alongside Jimmy Kimmel) and the MTV and long-running syndicated radio program, "Loveline," with Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Cristián de la Fuente (partner Cheryl Burke) - Having started his acting career in his native Chile, the international film and television star's Spanish language projects include Univisión's miniseries "Como ama una mujer" and Sony television's "Reyes y Rey," which aired on Telemundo. He gained recognition in the U.S. as a series regular on "Family Law" and "CSI: Miami." Recent TV guest roles include "Ugly Betty" and "Psych." He stars in the upcoming USA Network series "In Plain Sight." Other film work includes "Driven" and "Basic." Cristián is a First Lieutenant in the Chilean Air Force Reserve and a member of "Halcones," the high aerobatics team. People Magazine named him one of their "50 Most Beautiful," and he was the first man ever to grace the cover of Cosmopolitan en Español.

Shannon Elizabeth (partner Derek Hough) - Actress/model Shannon Elizabeth starred in the box office hits "American Pie" and "Scary Movie." Some of her other credits include "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," "Love Actually," "Cuts" and "That 70s Show." Shannon is also an accomplished poker player, taking third out of sixty-four invited professionals at the 2007 National Heads-Up Poker Championship.

Steve Guttenberg (partner Anna Trebunskaya) - Actor Steve Guttenberg has starred in blockbusters such as "Police Academy," "Three Men and a Baby," "Short Circuit" and "Cocoon," as well as such acclaimed dramatic hits as "Diner" and "The Boys from Brazil." Guttenberg has starred in a dozen films, each of which earned in excess of $100,000,000 at the American box office. His television credits include one of the highest-rated telefilms of all time, "The Day After." Guttenberg runs The Guttenhouse Project, which houses selected children who are phased out of foster care programs.

Mario (partner Karina Smirnoff) - Twenty-one year-old, multi-platinum selling R&B/Pop singer and actor Mario is known for such hit singles as "Just a Friend (2002)" and "Let Me Love You." He was the recipient of Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Single of the Year in 2005 for "Let Me Love You," and has been nominated for a Grammy, BET Award, Vibe Award, MOBO Award and Soul Train Music Award. His latest album, "Go," is in stores now. Mario has also appeared in the feature films "Step Up" and "Freedom Writers."

Marlee Matlin (partner Fabian Sanchez) - Marlee Matlin received worldwide critical acclaim for her film debut in "Children of a Lesser God," for which she received the Academy Award for Best Actress. At 21 she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar and only one of four actresses to receive the honor for her film debut. In addition to the Oscar, Marlee received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama. She has since appeared on a number of hit television programs, including "The West Wing," "The L-Word," "Nip/Tuck" and "Desperate Housewives." In Spring 2008, she will star opposite Jeff Daniels in the telefilm "Sweet Nothing in My Ear."

Penn Jillette (partner Kym Johnson) - Penn Jillette is one-half of the famous illusionist team Penn & Teller. Penn & Teller have been performing together for thirty years and are currently headlining in their own theater at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. They've received 11 Emmy nominations for their television series, "Penn & Teller: Bulls**t," and created several TV projects together. The duo has also written three best-selling books. In 2005 Penn produced and co-created the critically acclaimed documentary "The Aristocrats."

Priscilla Presley (partner Louis van Amstel) - Actress, producer and entrepreneur Priscilla Presley starred in the "Naked Gun" films and the internationally popular television series "Dallas," as well as guest-starred on TV's "Touched by an Angel," "Spin City" and "Melrose Place." Founder of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Priscilla has also served as executive producer on the feature film "Finding Graceland" and the television version of her autobiography, "Elvis and Me." Presley was married to music icon Elvis Presley.

Monica Seles (partner Jonathan Roberts) - Tennis champ Monica Seles is the holder of nine grand slam singles titles and was the top-ranked player in the world. She turned pro in 1988 at the age of 14 and won her first grand slam championship, the French Open, just two years later. After a two-year absence from the tour in 1993 and 1994, Seles rose above adversity and returned to capture her final grand slam crown in 1996, winning the Australian Open. She holds an outstanding career win-loss singles record of 595-122 and was ranked the13th greatest player of all time by "Tennis Magazine." Her accomplishments also extend beyond the tennis court as Goodwill Ambassador for the Laures Sports Foundation and the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Microalgae Spirulina Against Malnutrition (IIMSAM).

Jason Taylor (partner Edyta Sliwinska) - This year's NFL Man of the Year Award winner and last year's NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Taylor has played defensive end for the Miami Dolphins for over a decade. The six-time All Pro formed the Jason Taylor Foundation in 2004 and continues to be heavily involved throughout the South Florida community. Taylor holds the NFL record for touchdowns by a defensive lineman (7) and is the Dolphins' all-time leader in quarterback sacks (117) and consecutive games played (130). Jason is married to Katina, and the couple reside in Weston, Fla., with their two sons, Isaiah Paul and Mason Paul, and daughter Zoe Grace.

Marissa Jaret Winokur (partner Tony Dovolani) - Marissa Jaret Winokur is best known for creating the role of "Tracy Turnblad" in the hit Broadway musical "Hairspray," a performance for which she won a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress. Winokur has since been seen in the Farrelly Brothers film "Fever Pitch" and the television series "Stacked." She just finished filming the series lead in a new pilot entitled "Fugly" for 20th Century Fox and CBS, and is currently working as one of the leads in the Lifetime movie "Betrayals."

Kristi Yamaguchi (partner Mark Ballas) - An Olympic Gold medalist and World Champion, Kristi Yamaguchi is one of the most popular and successful figure skaters of our time. Since winning the 1992 Winter Olympics, Yamaguchi retired from competitive skating, performing in numerous television specials and traveling the globe on "Stars on Ice" tour. Along with her many awards and accomplishments, she is a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. In 1996 she founded the Always Dream Foundation dedicated to fundraising and supporting children's charities. Yamaguchi is married to Stanley Cup champion and Carolina Hurricanes star Bret Hedican. Together they have two young daughters.

It's a diverse group, and the first time I've heard of all twelve participants. Smart of them not to cast any models, as they tend to be the first to go.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kyrgyzstan on the US election

What does a local guy there think?

Across the Universe - DVD Review

Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther McCoy, Bono, Eddie Izzard and Salma Hayek. Directed by Julie Taymor.

I had high hopes, which was my first mistake. Taymor's visual innovations are prominent, but in an attempt to make a musical out of Beatles tunes, they've weaved into a story that uses every cliche in the book regarding hippie restlessness, the Vietnam war, and peace, love and grooviness in general.

I was with the movie for the first half or so, but eventually it too often felt like something I'd seen dozens of times before. I did like the Uncle Sam poster coming alive singing "I Want You" and Bono's bizarre cameo singing "I Am the Walrus." Jim Sturgess has a nice singing voice and functions well as the protagonist Jude (yes, "Hey Jude" gets sung). Ultimately it's a series of cool music videos loosely linked by an unoriginal narrative.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age - DVD Review

Starring Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Rhys Ifans, Jordi Molla, Abbie Cornish, Samantha Morton and Tom Hollander. Directed by Shekhar Kapur.

I really enjoyed the first Elizabeth. This sequel has poor timing though. It hasn't been a year since HBO aired Elizabeth I starring Helen Mirren, and the first half of that show covered similar ground that this is here, and that miniseries feels restrained compared to the bombastic approach Kapur has decided to take here.

At the center is Cate Blanchett, one of our best actresses working today, and it's a credit to her that she could get a Best Actress nomination twice for the same role a decade apart. Cate's one of those people where I will see anything she does, because she usually chooses well and is good in it. Heck, I even liked Bandits.

Clive Owen is a guy I enjoy watching, and he does his dashing thing as Sir Walter Raleigh, the pirate who nearly stole her heart after stealing her kingdom some precious Spaniard booty. The movie deals with the era when Spain was itching for war, and she felt pressure to have her cousin Mary Queen of Scots killed to squash any ideas of rebellion.

Too often the movie swings from engaging costume drama to camp. Rhys Ifans tends to do the same blank-stare psychopathic character whenever he's a bad guy (he had the same gaze in Hannibal Rising). Geoffrey Rush, a near Iago-like advisor in the first movie, is just another lackey here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hillary finds FoxNews more fair than MSNBC

Maybe they're "fair and balanced" after all. Of course, Keith Olbermann says more vile things than David Shuster pretty much every night but that's neither here nor there.

RIP - Roy Scheider

The man who told Jaws to smile has passed on. Looks like of the merry trio, only Hooper is still with us.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Huckabee on Meet the Press

Watching Huckster squirm under Tim Russert's very polite questions, it occurs to me that he hasn't really had anyone challenge him yet all year. Except Romney's contrast ads and one paragraph of "liberal" accusation from Fred Thompson in a debate. Which is one reason why he disliked Romney. He did make clear he's going to stay in the race until McCain gets the 1181 delegates or they get to convention, hoping "something happens." Like what? McCain has to drop out for health reasons?

Maybe Huck will stick to shows like The Colbert Report and The Tyra Banks Show where he doesn't have to answer for his flip-flops and mixed messages until convention.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mitt Romney drops out

"For the good of the party." But Huckabee vowed to keep going.

*sigh* As long as McCain doesn't make Huck his VP nominee...

Who could it be? McCain/Rice? McCain/Thompson? McCain/Romney? McCain/Gingrich?

Barack Obama is Bob the Builder

Think about it. Have you ever seen them in the same place at the same time? Both of them get crowds to chant "Yes we can!" This bears investigating.

NBA Trades, Power Rankings

Two trades have shifted the balance of power in the West.

The first trade is Memphis sending Pau Gasol to the Lakers in exchange for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittendon, Aaron McKie, two first-rounds picks and the rights to Marc Gasol. This makes the Garnett-to-Boston trade look downright fair. What was Memphis thinking? Are they telling me the Bulls, Kings and Bobcats refused to offer better packages than Kwame freakin' Brown? And why keep Pau in the West?

What they've done is made the Lakers a favorite to win the West. The Lakeshow, once everyone's healthy, will boast a starting line-up of Fisher, Bryant, Odom, Gasol and Bynum. Those are big bodies that should be handle the likes of San Antonio and Dallas, and make mincemeat of lesser teams like Houston and Portland. Who'd have thunk over the summer that the Lakers and Celtics would be so likely to be the NBA Finals teams in 2008?

The other trade is Phoenix sending Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to Miami for Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq turns 36 next month; he's breaking down faster than a '79 Gremlin on a dirt road. This makes no sense at all for Phoenix. Sure, they need to improve their defense, but why do they think Shaq's the one to do it? He's having career-low numbers across the board. He's not much better than a Collins brother on D, and on offense, he'll barely make it to half-court by the time a Sun has already jacked up a shot. The Suns will need to get used to more half-court sets to accommodate Shaq. Less running will not make them a better team.

Not only does it hurt them this year, but it mortgages their future. Shaq's making $20 million a year until 2010. How does this help a team dying to get out from under the luxury tax, a team that's given away about five first-round picks in the past three years, a team with a thin bench as is? Nash isn't getting younger (yes, he is still playing at an All-Star level, but how many more years are left in his tank?) Amare Stoudamire and Grant Hill are injury-prone. For the rest of the West, I think they're thrilled Phoenix is doing this.

Three rhetorical questions:
1. Why is Isiah Thomas still employed?
2. With teams like Memphis, New Orleans and Seattle doing so poorly, would the NBA ever consider retracting a team?
3. Jason Kidd wants out of New Jersey, but is there a deal out there that would make sense for Jersey to take? Are you telling me the Stromile Swift-for-Jason Collins trade wasn't enough to placate Kidd?


My Power Rankings by Conference

1. Boston - It's all about the Big Three.
2. Detroit - Hindsight says it was good to let Big Ben walk away when he did.
3. Orlando - Reality's setting in, but Dwight remains an inside force.
4. Cleveland - LBJ can't do it all by himself, but he can do a lot.
5. Washington - Gee, how good will they be with Agent Zero back in the line-up?
6. Toronto - The Bosh/Bargnani show still needs more attitude.
7. Chicago - Was Skiles really the problem?
8. New Jersey - It's almost like they'd rather not make the playoffs, but too many other Eastern teams suck too much to let that happen.
9. Atlanta - Slooowly coming together. They could've learned something from Portland's rebuilding process.
10. Charlotte - MJ should hang out there more.
11. Milwaukee - Mo, Redd, Bogut, Yi... why aren't they better?
12. New York - Ahem. Isiah is still employed... why?
13. Indiana - Where will Jermaine O'Neal go before Feb. 21?
14. Philadelphia - Where will Andre Miller go before Feb. 21?
15. Miami - The Matrix will make them better. A little bit. And then he'll opt out this summer.

1. LA Lakers - I can't believe they got Pau Gasol for nothing...
2. San Antonio - Despite their recent woes, does anyone doubt they won't be ready in April?
3. Utah - Deron Williams is making it his mission to embarass anyone who made the All-Star team ahead of him. Just ask CP3.
4. Dallas - Not ready to be counted out. Dirk and Josh are quite the lethal duo.
5. Phoenix - If they get rid of the Matrix in favor of Shaq, they're going to drop.
6. New Orleans - Great starting five, not much bench.
7. Denver - How much better would A.I., Melo and Camby be under a different coach? I mean, I like George Karl, but he's not exactly consistent.
8. Portland - The kids are coming down to Earth a bit.
9. Golden State - If their record was better, maybe Baron Davis would have made the All-Star team.
10. Houston - Adelman finds himself in the same boat JVG was - the S.S. Underachieving.
11. Sacramento - They should make a move. Arco Arena's great when they have a team to root for. The Bibby-Artest-Miller combo should have been blown up a year ago. It's K-Mart's team. Ironically they'd be in the playoffs in the East.
12. LA Clippers - With Brand out, they're back to their old habits of perennial lottery attendance.
13. Seattle - Kevin Durant doesn't have much help. Maybe he'll find it in Oklahoma.
14. Minnesota - Al Jefferson doesn't have much help. Maybe he'll find it once Kevin McHale is fired.
15. Memphis - What free agent are they going to get this summer better than Pau Gasol? This may be a team on the move.

The Eye - Movie Review

THE EYE (**) - Starring Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey and Rachel Ticotin.

It's not a good film, it's not really a bad film, it's just another J-horror flick that doesn't provide any thrills or do much beyond sit there. Jessica Alba is pretty to look at, but her performance leans more toward Camilla Belle's bland turn in When A Stranger Calls than Naomi Watts in The Ring when it comes to pulling me into the character's plight.

Alba plays a woman blinded as a child who gets her sight back with a cornea transplant. Trouble is, she also sees ghosts with her new sight.

There are these dark creatures that represent death, and they're mean and scary regardless if the person is good or bad. Some faiths say angels will meet you; these guys are poorly-postured screechers.

Naturally there is a mystery tied to the original owner of her eyes, where Alba must learn the ghost's desire. I've noticed most ghost stories these days boil down to that. The ending's anti-climactic with the big reveal.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday results

McCain won nine states.
Romney won seven states.
Huckabee won five states.

Going deeper, McCain won the big states - California, Illinois, New York.
Romney won a lot of small states - Montana, North Dakota, Utah.
Huckabee only won southern states - Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia.

Mac now has twice as many delegates as Romney, and while Huck is still in third and has no chance of winning the nomination, it's clear he could still win another southern state or two and will hand the nomination to McCain by staying in. In three states, Ron Paul beat Huckabee.

The Republican party is divided, and no matter who wins, they will not unite the party. Look at turnout. The Democrats doubled the turnout of Republicans last night. It doesn't matter who wins the GOP nomination; he will lose in November.

Clinton won eight states.
Obama won thirteen states.

Hillary won California and New York, so she still remains ahead in the delegate count, but Obama's coming on strong and I believe he will overtake her and win the Democratic nomination.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Into the Wild - $1 Movie Review

INTO THE WILD (***3/4) - Starring Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Hal Holbrook, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener and Kristen Stewart.
Directed by Sean Penn.

This movie probably wouldn't make my top ten, but definitely in the second ten for 2007.

My wife and I caught this at the $1 theater. One of the problems with the $1 theater is they don't care that much about quality. Once the previews were over, the frame wnetoff the screen and tocuhed the wall. The sound disappeared and we started geting chunks of the pre-previews soundtrack, like ten seconds of Dr. Who, followed by ten seconds of an eye-exam ad. Words are coming up on the screen, and there's a shot of Marcia Gay Harden crying, and everyone in the audience is going, "Is no one up there?"

I went out and found a worker and told him to fix the sound and framing. He said someone was already on it. After another two minutes of nonsense, I stormed out the theater doors and yelled into the lobby, "Can someone fix the sound please?!" I saw a worker who replied, "Is it still not working?" "No! We're over four minutes into the movie and the framing is all wrong and the sound is gone and we're getting Dr. Who playing."

The sound was fixed thirty seconds later. They never did fix the framing.

It's based on the true story of a young man named Chris McCandless who wanted to reconnect with nature. Sean Penn has gorgeous shots throughout, where part of me understood this kid's desire to just leave society and live an unencumbered life for a while.

At the same time, even though Penn frames Chris as an angelic creature, he's really pretty selfish. He leaves his parents and sister without warning and never communicates to them where he is or if he's okay.

Chris goes from location to location, all across American and Mexico and winding up in Alaska. Along the way he runs into several different characters, each acting as a mini-surrogate family, most trying to talk him out of his hobo ways and get in touch with his real family.

It's a mild tragedy, a kid with no much potential, who realizes when it's too late where true happiness comes from. It's a beautifully filmed project, and probably Penn's best film to date.

Acting-wise, Emile Hirsch is great as Chris, and Hal Holbrook very much earns his Best Supporting Actor nomination as an old man who can't convince this idealist to behave wisely.

Super Tuesday

I voted today for Ron Paul. Why? I like some of his ideas and I want him to come in second in Utah.

In Utah, to vote in the Republican primary, you have to be registered, or unaffiliated and then register that day. Same thing in the Democratic primary. If you are affiliated in one party and wanted to vote in the other primary, you have to change your affiliation 30 days prior to Super Tuesday. I learned this a few days ago and was disappointed, as I would have rather voted in the Democratic primary for Barack Obama.

While I was there, there were those who'd shown up that day who'd hoped to vote Democrat but could not due to previous party affiliation. There were more who showed up unaffiliated who switched to Republican so they could vote, and every one I overheard doing that was doing so to vote Mitt Romney.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Political Wackiness

Mike Huckabee tried floating the rumor that the reason Sean Hannity endorsed Mitt Romney might be because Bain Capital, Romney's former company, owns ClearChannel, which owns Sean Hannity's show. Except Bain doesn't currently own ClearChannel, and regardless, ClearChannel doesn't own Hannity's show. Just another passive-aggressive whisper-campaign conspiracy-lie from the Huckster.

I like what Mary Matalin said on Meet the Press. Huck has a mancrush on John McCain and is staying in to siphon votes from Romney so McCain can win. If McCain wins the GOP nomination and picks Huck as his VP, I don't think I could vote for him. I don't want a guy like Huck to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. There's something about Arkansas governors and the truth; they just don't get together much.


Michelle Obama is in Utah today campaigning for her husband Barack. She declined an interview on KSL radio, which was a mistake. Doug Wright is nice to every guest he has, regardless of their views. I saw a flash poll somewhere that had Utah as 60/40 for Hillary, which shocked me. of the people I know voting in the Democratic primary, I know very few looking to vote for Hillary. I called a few days ago to see if I could vote in the primary, but I had to have been a Democrat or independent seven days before Feb. 5, and this was five days before.

In the Utah GOP primary, the report I heard was Romney has 84%. I may vote for Ron Paul just so he can take second in another state.


Another reason I think we're going to get a Democratic president in 2008 is the Dem side is more about who you're for. Are you for the first woman president or the first black president? On the GOP side, it's who you're against. "Washington is broken" isn't exactly an optimistic message. Many votes for McCain seem to be about beating the Democrat in November more than because they love McCain. Romney's positioned himself as the anti-McCain candidate. Huck's the anti-rich, anti-Romney candidate. The only one with real, tangible inspired followers is Ron Paul, and they're a passionate 5% in every state.

I was thrilled with McCain's resurgence a couple months ago. One, because I wanted to vote for him in 2000 and I think it's fairly obvious at this point the country and the party would have been better off under McCain than Dubya. Two, because the thought Giuliani was disturbing and Huckabee downright blood-curdling. I wrote Romney off several months ago due to his stance on stem-cell research. With new medical breakthroughs making that a moot point, I've given him another look. I believe Romney would be good in office, but I don't think he has the love to get there. Too many members of the Republican political machine just don't like him. Many other members of the machine are getting behind him because they dislike McCain more.


When did torture become a conservative principle?


I'm for reducing pollution. I'm not sold on global warming. It's the environmental buzzword of the decade. In the 1990's it was El Nino. In the 1980's it was all about the hole in the ozone layer. According to Gore's PowerPoint presentation, Manhattan should be underwater in, what, about nine years? Stay tuned.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Reagan v. Clinton,0,1621249.story

Michael Kinsley asks: "Strictly on the issues, were they really that different?"

I loved Reagan, he being my president from my age of 7 to 15. He was an optimist and he ended the Cold War. Clinton was my president from my age of 19 to 27. He presided over the dot-com boom, but his serial lying made him easy to loathe.