March 28, 2007


Mortality assessment weekend

I haven't posted lately for the simple fact that, as happens to everybody, life got in the way. This time it was by way of that common irony in life - dealing with someone’s death. I learned last week that my eldest sister, all of 57 years old, is stricken with terminal cancer. Her condition was reported to be quite grave, a perfect storm of symptoms that prompted me to travel to my hometown where she and a majority of my immediate family still live, fearfully holding a hope that I could be with her one last time.

The night before I left I was lying in bed with my wife and my newborn son when the fear and grief took hold, and I sobbed harder than I can ever remember, taxing the nearest pillow so as not to frighten the baby. After I calmed, my wife said something that struck me at first as a bit insensitive. “It’s tough being a grown-up, isn’t it?”

What do you expect? I thought in a classic kneejerk that was more from embarrassment than from anger. Quickly I came to know that what she said was no insult. I didn’t immediately reconsider that I’ve made it 41.5 years on this earth without the loss of anything more painful than a favorite pet. I say reconsider because that fact was made apparent a few weeks back when I read a moving post about sibling death that Don wrote. A fellow commentor mentioned that after her older brother died, there was a strange passage, “a particularly odd time,” that she and each of the younger siblings went through when they reached the age of his death. I considered that as the sixth of seven children I was likely to have to go through similar odd times, quite possibly several. I also thought that the first of those would be closer to 20 years from now.

Another commentor, who has lost three siblings, said that losing them "also meant losing my witnesses,” which is particularly poignant in the case of my sister since, in another revelation I had over the weekend, she and my eldest brother (turning 54 next week) were “the family” for 10 years before the baby boom of five latter day siblings that arrived every other year beginning in 1959. As adulthood caught up with each of us and we scattered about the country, phone calls and visits home usually revolved around the here-and-now and the “great to see you,” with only occasional discussion of family history. Thankfully my mother was somewhat diligent and proficient in the media of family journalism, photography and 8mm silent film. Still, that archive leaves much to be related, pardon the pun, given that my rather taciturn father requires Mike Wallace-caliber probing to recall anything and my mother’s spiral into the darkness of Alzheimer’s now sadly precludes her further contribution (visiting her this past trip sped up the emotional see-saw that was already cranking). My sister’s condition has stabilized to the point that she is fully lucid, if quite beleaguered. So with a greater hope of having her with us a while longer, I am committed to my part of chronicling the family reserve.

Beyond that simple task is the decidedly more complicated one of dealing with her imminent passing and the support she and her husband and daughters and granddaughter will need from here on. And then of course that her father, four brothers and two sisters (we’ve decided that it serves no purpose to inform mom) will need to cope with a loved one lost far too soon. But there are myriad others who have dealt with this, and I will as sure as anything be seeking out them and/or their writings in order to bring myself and my family a little comfort and wisdom.

Nora Ephron recently wrote a commentary on John and Elizabeth Edwards’ situation regarding her cancer and Elizabeth’s proclamation that she had two choices: to go on living, or begin dying. Ephron respectfully disagreed with the simplicity of that, offering this jewel that for me settles the mud in the puddle of meaning just a bit more:
“I believe instead that at a certain point in life, whether or not you've been diagnosed with illness, you enter into a conscious, ongoing, unending, eternal, puzzling, confusing negotiation between the two (choices). Some days one of them wins, and some days the other. This negotiation often includes decisions as trivial as whether to eat a second piece of pie, and as important as whether to have medical treatment that may or may not prolong your life.”

And I was reminded recently of the grace, dignity and humor with which musician Warren Zevon faced his terminal diagnosis. His chief nugget of wisdom (the simplicity of which just about brings me to tears every time I think of it)?

“Enjoy every sandwich.”

So the deli of my soul is now open 24/7

And there are more I remember
And more I could mention
Than words I could write in a song
But I feel them watching
And I see them laughing
And I hear them singing along

We're all gonna be here forever
So mama don't you make such a stir
Just put down that camera
And come on and join up
The last of the family reserve

Lyle Lovett

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March 21, 2007


L'esprit du cinema

From Keera via Kos

1. Name a movie you have seen more than 10 times.
Life Of Brian

2. Name a movie you've seen multiple times in the theater.
Grease - I was way hot for the slutty ON-J

3. Name an actor who would make you more inclined to see a movie.
George Clooney

4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to see a movie.
Gilbert Gottfried

5. Name a movie you can and do quote from.
The Holy Grail

6. Name a movie musical in which you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.
Yeah, Grease

7. Name a movie you have been known to sing along with.
Festival Express

8. Name a movie you would recommend everyone see.
Withnail And I (Caution - exceptionally British humour)

9. Name a movie you own.
Animal House

10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.
Tom Waits

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?
Double feature of The Love Bug and Jungle Book

12. Ever made out in a movie?

13. Name a movie you keep meaning to see but you just haven't gotten around to yet.
Several of 'em on the Movie Madness bracket - From Here To Eternity

14. Ever walked out of a movie?
Not that I recall

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.
Saving Private Ryan

16. Popcorn?
Oh yeah - large with buttah!

17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?
Because of the expense, very seldom now. I usually reserve theater trips for the eye candy blockbusters - dramas, comedies and such I can wait for.

18. What's the last movie you saw in the theater?
I wanna say Monster House (which really doesn't fit the above criteria, but it was date night)

19. What's your favorite/preferred genre of movie?
Favorite - dark comedy, but I wouldn't say "preferred"

20. What's the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
The Poseidon Adventure - scared me shitless

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?
Peter Sellers' last film, The Fiendish Plot Of Dr. Fu Manchu, comes to mind, though it might be worth a revisit as it was so long ago.

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

23. What is the scariest movie you've seen?

24. What is the funniest movie you've seen?
Gotta give it to Blazing Saddles


March 20, 2007


Itth a regulur fethtival !

Alles klar, Herr Kommissar? The second round of the 2007 Movie Madness tourneemint was far from a snore, folks, despite the fact that nearly 75 percent of the matches saw the favorites advance. Is that enough to keep the natives calm? Freak no! We’re talkin’ bonafide MADness here, I mean piss-vinegar cocktails heretofore unmixed! “What is it with men and the freaking Godfather?” Nobody in particular piped up after seeing the Kurosawa’s No. 5 seed GFII give No. 4 Schindler’s List the ultimate kiss off. “And I'll need a defense other than ‘I have a penis, it's in its contract,’” Whoooo, saucy stuff. But for all his power, the Kosinator quickly deferred in the face of the Corleones. “You wanna be the one to piss off Vito and Michael? Not me, kiddo. Let 'em fight it out amongst themselves,” was his rather dickless reply.

The rukus of the after party at Boiled Dinner was by far the triumph of the Kurosawa’s sixth-seed Star Wars over No. 3 Wizard of Oz. Immediately after the game, Joe the Troll mused from beneath his upper mezzanine hideout about Star Wars’ success. “I like the film, but it’s fluffy fluffness,” the Troll said. “It may be why we see far more ‘special effects/action sequences’ films than we do films with real character and plot development.”

Fluff or no, the Oz empire could not muster up enough heart, courage or flying monkey shenanigans to take down Wars’ behemoth center Chewbacca, who was hittin’em from the outside all...freakin’...night, baby! It was enough to make the often stoic Kos wax nostalgic. “There isn't a boy who's seen SW that doesn't pick up every stick he finds and say it's a light saber,” he said wiping a few tears away at the buzzer. What a dork.

Debate was all but non-existent regarding the night’s biggest upset, where Atticus Finch and the No. 7 To Kill A Mockingbird crew put the kaibash on humor in the Kurosawa by flunking the popular The Graduate. The Commish earlier noted that TKAM has been picked by three in the tourney to grab all the marbles, which may explain the underdog film’s tacit advance. More than likely it was Benjamin Braddock’s hapless indecision that cost Graduate the game. “He lacked focus all night,” said head coach and two-time Landlord of the Year Norman “Mr. McCleery-Roper” Fell. “The kid just kept muttering shit about plastics and how he wanted his future to be different.”

In the Bergman, dark comedy’s great white hope stayed alive in the person of the irrepressible (if straitjacketable) Randall Patrick McMurphy. The Cuckoo’s squad laid down some wicked medication time on the Marx Bros. and Duck Soup, with hustle, poise and Juicy Fruit. Nobody does an ending like Cuckoo’s Nest. Nuf said.

Ranked sixth in the Godard, Psycho continued its rampage with an upset over Singin’ In The Rain. “Good film, but who the fuck wants a musical in the regionals?” said team proprietor Norman “Mama’s Got Your Ball” Bates.

Well, at least one person. The match brought forth some introspection from Brad of Stab Film fame. “Singin’ makes fun of itself and the genre it is a part of, but also takes every formula, staple, and stereotype very seriously, elevating itself above the typical musical at the time,” he said, delighting and awing a group of pointy-headed cinemaphiles in the corner at Boiled Dinner. Still, he had to give Hitchcock mad props (ooh, sorry). “I wish I could have seen Psycho for the first time in 1960. I wouldn't have slept for days,” said Brad, whose underdogs are licking wounds after dropping from second to fifth overall from a diminished second round of picks. Still, Brad has his most important hound, Mockingbird, still in this hunt, and at just five points back of leaders Looney and O’Tim The Magnificent, he hasn’t got a prayer.

REGIONALS WATCH: Of course the big ratings will likely go to the two Godfathers dukeing it out at Ang Lee Gym. Star Wars v. Mockingbird determines who goes on to meet either Corleone in the Kurosawa title match, and both seem to have big crowds rooting for them.

In the Bergman it’s going to be 3 v. 2 slugfest ‘tween L.A. hoods Chinatown and Sunset Boulevard. Latest line: pick ‘em, but uh, careful with that close-up, eh, kitty cat? Four-gap underdog Cuckoo’s Nest meets perennial list-topper Casablanca at Rossalini Arena (say that five times fast) for the Bergman north title, and the books are not cutting Bogey any slack, with the line currently mute. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of Kos?

Godard’s big matchup is Citizen Kane v. It’s A Wonderful Life, no scurvy spider there at the Belmondo. Kane better stay sharp, or they’ll vote with Potter, mark this reporter’s words. Psycho has to clash with juggernaut and favorite Brando in On The Waterfront, which shows no sign of being less than a contender for the semifinals.

The Fellini has got its 3 v. 2 game in The African Queen taking on Lawrence Of Arabia in a no prisoners clash of the titans. It’s Hepburn’s last chance, but Bogey still has Paris. In the north title game Gone With The Wind takes on first-time underdog Jake La Motta the Raging Bull, and mixed feelings abound on the Vegas line. Many are taking the points and Bull, while the traditional swooners stick with the Civil War classic.


March 18, 2007


We interrupt...

...all this Movie Madness for a gratuitous baby photo posting from Max

"Hugs, y'all."



Movie Madness wrap-up, part 1-B

The Bergman and Fellini regions are off to a start that Der Kommissar Kos surely knew would dust up some debate from the principle players. Each region garnered similar 11th over 6th seed upsets, but the howling didn’t stop there, no siree.

First, in the action from the Bergman contests at the Kodak, the Marx Brothers ran circles around Alec Guiness and the rest of the stiff upper lips from Bridge On The River Kwai in a stunning 13th over 5th seed upset. Duck Soup head coach Rufus T. Firefly said his team was determined to win for the glory of Freedonia and for the substantial Mrs. Teasdale. “Remember, you're fighting for this woman's honour, which is probably more than she ever did,” Firefly reminded his crew.

William Holden held strong at the line for Kwai, and Sessue Hayakawa was an impressive taskmaster to the crew on defense, but it was not enough. Soup’s Chicolinni had the one-two with foil Pinky in three-pointers and rebounds respectively, and it simply wore down the already beleaguered POWs. The proud Chicolinni gave a shout out to his uncle who lives in Dollars, Taxes. Pinky had no comment.

Kwai’s defeat, combined with the loss of Dr. Zhivago to A Clockwork Orange in a close 9 v. 8 matchup, prompted local philm phan Looney to nearly bust a vein ranting to Kos. “A couple more like that and I'm gonna have a hard time taking you seriously. You must have it in for David Lean,” said The Loon, referring to the director of both losing films. His angst was surely heightened by the fact that after the first round he trails the tournament leaders by five points.

The other upset in the Bergman came in the contest between Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid versus All About Eve, with the former, ranked 11 in the region winning a squeaker over the latter. No. 6 Eve, with her sights set firm on acquiring the championship, was startled by the most handsome fugitive duo in (movie) history. “I will regard this great honor not so much as an award for what I have achieved, but a standard to hold against what I have yet to accomplish,” said Eve before being reminded that she did not win.

On to the Fellini, where the big news was undoubtedly No. 12 American Graffiti’s toppling of fifth-ranked Some Like It Hot. Looney again weighed incredulous. “OMFG!!! Grafitti over Some Like it Hot? I don't care what O'Tim says, that's whacked. OMG,” said The Loon, referring to the commentary on AG in the previous post. Waaah. I mean, um, serves him right for misspelling Graffiti, in this reporter’s opinion. In the end Hot, which garnered an Oscar for Costume Design and nominations for Wilder and Lemmon as director and actor respectively, was not able to overcome the angst-humour-nostalgia three play of Graffiti.

No. 11 Rebel Without A Cause defeated No. 6 The Grapes Of Wrath. The Kommissar der Film summed up his decision thusly. It seems Ma Joad's estimation that "We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people. We're the people who live" was just so much trash talk.


The second round in the Bergman is not likely to have many surprises upset-wise, but trusting Kos is not something bookies are wan to do. “We don’t like that shifty bastard,” said one gambler who declined to be identified outside the Lars von Trier Center following the Duck/Kwai viewing.

Bonnie & Clyde take on Sunset Boulevard in the closest ranked match, while it’s the battle of the birds when steep underdog Duck Soup goes up against the insanely strong offense of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Coach Firefly proclaimed he was going to be looking closely at the films of Chief Bromden’s slam dunk routine.

The Fellini also has no matches with less than a five-place gap in rankings, so again no surprises expected, but then how in the fuck could it be a surprise, asshole? Rebel will have its hurdle with third-ranked The African Queen, while the kids from American Graffiti get in the ring with Raging Bull. Watch his left, kids, and don’t fall for that “But it’s SCORSESE, man!” crap from the peanut gallery – you bring the fight to HIM! You got that?! You got that?!

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March 17, 2007


Movie Madness commentary

Why should American Graffiti be Champion?

By O'Tim, special correspondent to Movie Madness

I could be wrong, but with my champion pick heading into the second round against the Scorsese masterwork Raging Bull, it’s likely I will not see one of my lifetime Top 5 films emerge on top for this one. American Graffiti is a picture that is just about the complete opposite of Raging Bull (which I love), but I’m a comedy man, so this one here was my underdog pick of the tournament. Bull is an “important” film, but on the suggested criteria of “which one would you watch if both were on TV?” I’d go with Graffiti. And it’s one that I’d watch again and again.

Kos has without a doubt presented us all with the toughest of contests. It was tough for me to eschew Some Like It Hot, easily in my lifetime Top 10 comedies and deserved of its high ranking in the opening round. But AG has for me that connection to a time, just three years before I was born, of teen frolic, fun, lust and, most of all, angst. In terms of my personal tastes in American culture, I have always felt like I was born about 15-20 years too late, so AG (and its heavy influence on that prepubescent stalwart of my life, Happy Days which, in retrospect “jumped the shark” long before Fonzie actually jumped the shark) really brings home a strong taste of what growing up American was all about. Of course in 1973 I was too young to go see AG in the theater, and I really don’t remember the first time I saw it – it may have been as late as in my college years.

Still, I felt the impact of the film and the way it pieces together several quasi-related situations that its characters face into one coherent experience of humor and uncertainty. Aside from how it relates to me, I think AG is a film that resonates with millions of average American teens who have a good head on their shoulders and play it mostly straight. There are lots of great movies for the serious rebel bound for tragedy, but in AG we see no background of family dysfunction like Rebel Without A Cause or The Outsiders. It ever-so-deftly scratches the surface of peer pressure, rebellion and ill-advised risk, revealing them in the terms of what they are more often than not – something to look back on and laugh about.

The key to AG’s mastery is the chronology. It takes place from sunset to sunrise on the last night of summer vacation - a thoroughbred bolt of teen angst right out of the gate if ever there was one. A then-mostly-unknown ensemble cast glides the film from scene to scene with hilarity and wit. And the characters – oh man, the characters! My favorite has got to be Terry “Toad” Fields, played by the awesome Charles Martin Smith:
Toad (protecting Debbie): Hey now, buddy, look. The lady obviously doesn't want to have...
Tough: Look, creep. You want a knuckle sandwich?
Toad: Um, uhh, no thanks. I'm waiting for a double Chucky Chuck.

The spirit and much of the concept of American Graffiti is aptly duplicated in the 90s-look-back-at-the-70s film Dazed And Confused, another of my top comedies on the again & again list and itself already a classic.

The fact that AG is the work that propelled George Lucas to fame speaks a lot to the overwhelming success of his career beyond it. Of course rubbing shoulders with Lucas was also instrumental to the massive success of Ron Howard’s directorial career. On the acting side, we see great fledgling performances from Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Suzanne Sommers and Mackenzie Phillips. Wolfman Jack as (or not as) himself provides the requisite voice over for the film’s awesome soundtrack, not to mention one of my favorite scenes with him and Curt (Dreyfuss) at the radio station.

American Graffiti won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical/Comedy and was nominated for five (four major category) Oscars - Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress and Film Editing.

So I may lose points for my dedication to this great movie, but that's okay. I told Kos before this began that I am determined to see something besides Casblanca or Citizen Kane take the crown, so here it is. Don't forget that I'm also a Cubs fan.

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Movie Madness wrap-up, part 1-A

Pro gamblers likely fared well last night while those with a penchant for the underdog probably have the ice pack on their fannies as the 2007 Boiled Dinner Movie Madness Blogger’s Extravaganza Tournament of Champions got underway. Only one ranked upset appeared among the first sixteen matches between the Godard and Kurosawa regions, but it was a humdinger that left the fans stunned. The Godard’s fifth-ranked Mr. Smith Goes To Washington came out strong in the first half, showing up it’s Capratic strength as an American underdog tale for the ages. Ironically it was 12th-ranked The Deer Hunter that took Smith down, displaying a palpable increase in hustle in the second half.

“You're kind of contradicting yourself on Fargo vs. Wonderful and Deer Hunter vs. Smith,” was the Rant of the Loon against tournament director and chief projectionist Jeff Kosloski. In the former match Looney is referring to the other Capra classic in the tournament, the Godard’s No. 4 It’s A Wonderful Life and its expected smackdown of No. 13 Fargo in the Belmondo Pavilion across the way. Loon’s contention was that Kos was using “opposite criteria” to come to his conclusion of one for, one against Capra.

But Kos was unwavering. “I don't think I'm contradicting myself,” said Kos, “because I think Wonderful Life is a better movie than Mr. Smith -- if they'd gone head-to-head, I wouldn't have thought twice about the match-up.”

Kos summed up the dispute by saying he did not think Fargo had the impact on audiences or for that matter on society that Deer Hunter did. So there. You have it. Many exiting fans were heard saying a Capra v. Capra, and of course a Stewart v. Stewart, matchup would have been the ultimate game. Alas, twas not to be. The latter is still a remote possibility what with Philadelphia Story and Rear Window still in the running over in the Fellini, but both are underdogs in their contests tomorrow. Deer Hunter faces It’s A Wonderful Life in round two tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Bijou.

Over in the Kurosawa, the match of the night was without a doubt No. 7 To Kill A Mockingbird trying to keep down Scorcese’s lovable little Taxi Driver and its scrappy but batshit insane point guard Travis Bickle. It seems half the house was really pulling for Bickle, who gave Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch a helluva time in the paint, causing the genteel southern counselor to foul out near the end of the second half. In the end it was the irascible Scout, paired up with Boo Radley (equally as scary as Bickle at the line). Little Scout consistently got up in Bickle’s face and innocently asked, “Why, Mr. Travis? Why?” it was more than Bickle could take, and the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel emerged from the Kagemusha Arena victorious. Finch and crew have their work cut out for them in the second round, going up against west coast powerhouse The Graduate tomorrow.

WHAT TO WATCH: For the Godard’s second round action, easy money is on top ranked Citizen Kane to take down the essentially defenseless Dr. Strangelove, though don’t count the good doctor’s explosive offense as completely incapable of providing a fun match to watch. In the Kurosawa, the tight game is undoubtedly going to be the 5 v. 4 matchup of The Godfather II against Schindler’s List. Rich, powerful Dagos take on the oppressed but favored (as well as chosen) Hebes from the ghetto. Should be exciting.



March 16, 2007


Thank you sir, may I have another

The title of today's post is in honor of Kos telling me I'm gonna get my ass whooped in his 2007 Movie Madness Tournament (see previous post). So be it. I stand by my picks, rife with underdog pride as they may be. May the best cinemaphile win that brand new car that Jeff's got waiting at the end of this thing! Good luck, movie geeks!

Click on the bracket to see the larger view

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March 15, 2007


Movie Madness !

There's still time to get over to Boiled Dinner and download the amazing bracket of 64 movies set to duke it out for the Blogger's Greatest American Film 2007 title. You have until this Friday, March 16, at 5 p.m. Eastern (2 p.m. Pacific) to get 'em to the Grand Cellulophile hisself, the Big Kah-slah-skee. For hardcore film buffs/snobs like me, some of the bracket pairings are brutal.

Choose a victor between Midnight Cowboy and The Maltese Falcon? Ouch!

North By Northwest or Psycho (a Hitch divided cannot stand)?

In my many year and a half of blogging I have not experienced anything quite as challenging, fun and creative. WTG Kos !

And you there - do it NOW ! !

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March 12, 2007


The south's collective "my bad"

Since the Virginia legislature has formally passed a resolution apologizing for that state's complicity in the horrors of slavery and the aftermath of a century of Jim Crow, Georgia is now in the sights of the NAACP to put up a similar official recognition of culpability.

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, "By the end of the antebellum era Georgia had more slaves and slaveholders than any state in the Lower South and was second only to Virginia. In 1860, Georgia had 462,198 slaves compared to 505,088 free people, and more than two-thirds of all state legislators were slaveholders."

Astonishing for a colony that was established as anti-slave.

At the outset I considered that all of today's Peach State lawmakers should jump at the chance to pass a resolution that could actually mean something, given that most official resolutions pass through those chambers as cavalierly as gas in the North Anteroom. Instead we get predictable hemming and hee-hawing from the yup, you guessed it, white Republican leaders of the General Ass-endly. Speaker udda House Glen Richardson (R-Crackersburg) said he doesn't see the need to apologize for something that no current legislators had anything to do with.

Strictly on an individual level, I see your point, Mr. Speaker - you weren't there. But is this about you, or about the collective leadership of the body you serve in, and the traditions (and hobgoblins) it has inherited? How many times have the austere portraits that hang about the Capitol been symbolically invoked as representatives of the greatness of the 13th state (and, ironically, how many were slave owners or otherwise racist SOBs)? Perhaps here is a chance to show some real leadership, sir.

In the high-falutin' upper chamber we have Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams (R-Bumfugeejipt) decrying that apologies should be heartfelt and not coerced. So what's the conflict, Senator? "Well," said Williams, "my family never owned slaves, so why should I apologize?"

As AJC columnist Lyle V. Harris notes, "that neatly evades the fact that skin color has conferred benefits on generations of white Americans, like interest-earning assets in a family trust fund."

So with attitudes like those of Richardson and Williams, in the end I have to stand with Harris, an African American, who says he doesn't want or need an apology. I respect his view that the NAACP is missing the mark on this and that his race "must move beyond Million Man Marches and other feel-good movements with little lasting impact."

I solemnly concur with his recognition that "some of our fellow citizens will always fail to grasp how much slavery and its aftermath have robbed from Black America," and I applaud his stance of having no interest in making them feel sorry for it.

"I'm the one who feels sorry for them," he concluded.

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March 05, 2007


The raisin'

Today's thoughts are inspired by another of D-Cup's excellent posts.

Having now my first child (and he will be the last unless we win the mega jackpot - then we'll adopt!) at the age of 41, one of the first things I thought beyond "I love you" was "Boy, I wish we had you 10 years ago."

(I mean, c'mon?)

In my life, avoiding the kid thing for the sake of independence was a fallacy, mostly because I did nary a thing to advance my position in life to make said independence worth the amount that I craved it. Instead of finishing my education, I toiled away in a good-paying job that I hated so much I was glad to finally be laid-off (but not before wasting five years).

I now make about half as much in a job that I really like, but my age has me looking seriously at being a stay-at-home dad for Max. Of course the wife's income being about twice mine puts that in the realm of possibility (with some budgetary sacrifices). Add to that our new tax deduction and, above all, me getting to raise him/him being raised at home - the "pro" column fills up fast. I mean, what's the point of working outside the home to have half my paycheck go to pay someone else to raise my kid more than a third of the time in his early years? I'm looking at what lots of working couples do these days - one stays home and gets him to kindergarten or first grade and then goes back to work. The time at home would also be spent pursuing the few freelance connections I have and cultivating more, an perhaps getting that long postponed sheepskin online.

Cons, anyone? Honesty invited/appreciated.

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March 01, 2007


Is it you or is it hot in here?

I got a kick out of this post by Big Shot Bob in Texas, which begins:
Fresh off his Oscar victory last night for Best Documentary, Al Gore has been stripped of his title by the U.S. Supreme Court. George W. Bush was declared the new winner despite the fact that he had not received a single vote or even watched a movie in the last decade except for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

In the Court's opinion, new Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that he was proud to follow in the steps of his old boss and predecessor, the late William Rehnquist, who helped decide Bush v. Gore in 2000. "You've gotta love lifetime appointments," Roberts said. "We aren't even trying anymore!"
Funny stuff, Bob. But in all seriousness (which seems strange to say considering how ridiculous the following situation is), the Oscar win by An Inconvenient Truth has predictably struck a nerve. Charges of hypocrisy have been off-leveled against the former veep for the energy consumption in his Nashville mansion (read more). Well it's a classic example of the old adage that Lie can get himself halfway around the globe before Truth even gets his shoes tied. How convenient for the Hannitys and the Limbaughs and other comets-will-kill-us-firsters that the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (a "nonpartisan" think tank) is on the scene.

However, David Roberts, staff writer for online environmental magazine, points out that the Tennessee Department of Revenue doesn't even consider the TCPR a legitimate group. They are part of the right's State Policy Network, which according to People For The American Way (which makes no pretense of being nonpartisan, thank you Jesus), "is a national network of state-based right-wing organizations in 37 states as well as prominent nationwide right-wing organizations. Through its network SPN advances the public policy ideas of the expansive right-wing political movement on the state and local level." HuffPo declares TCPR president Drew Johnson comes from the Exxon-funded American Enterprise Institute and the right-wing-funded National Taxpayers Foundation.

"It's run by a long-time right-wing attack hack, and its only registered address is a P.O. box," says Roberts of TCPR. "Why is everyone in the media taking what it says about Gore's electricity use at face value?"

Some other points pondered:
  • I wonder if any Republicans in Gore's neighborhood have outrageous power bills? It's nice to see the conservative media taking the message of conservation and energy efficiency seriously. Hopefully they will hold their own leaders and readers to the same high standards.

  • I find it intriguing that Gore's electricity company has no record of being contacted about his bills.

  • The "average" home electricity use quoted by TCPR is a national average that includes apartments and mobile homes. In Gore's climatic zone, designated East South Central by the U.S. Department of Energy, the average is much higher, thanks to hot, humid summers and cold winters. Within that zone, Gore's usage is three times average, not 20 as the TCPR contends, and his per-square-foot usage is squarely average.

  • The Gores are not an average family. He's an ex-VP with special security arrangements, and has live-in security staff. He and his wife both work on their many business and charitable undertakings out of their house, so they have space for offices and office staff. All that would be tough to cram in an average size house.

  • Gore buys the maximum allowable green electricity from the program offered by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

  • Most of the electricity in Tennessee comes from hydro and nuclear, and so doesn't generate all that much CO2 anyway.
I don't think Gore is going to shrink from this at all. He already responded to Matt Drudge's predictable foaming. I'm a supporter of him getting the Nobel Peace Prize (sure to further chagrin the right and possibly get them to simmer a tad) for his heroic work. I totally agree with David Roberts on a point that doesn't make for good lather in Fox's mouth, but is nonetheless true: "He has prompted more individual and collective action on this issue than anyone else alive. The changes he has wrought outweigh his personal carbon emissions by many orders of magnitude."

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