Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Calgary Sun: Medal-less Miller 'rocks':
"'The expectations were other people's,' Miller said. 'I'm comfortable with what I've accomplished, including at the Olympics. I came in here to race as hard as I could. That was my obligation to myself.' He called his Olympic experience 'awesome,' citing Sestriere's bar scene as one reason. 'My quality of life is the priority. I wanted to have fun here, to enjoy the Olympic experience, not be holed up in a closet.' "

Why is this such a horrible attitude? Aren't the Olympics supposed to be about the joy of sport? The whole medal count and the entire national pride thing is completely the antithesis of the Olympic ideal isn't it? It's supposed to be about INDIVIDUALS coming together to compete. So they try, and they fail, so what? He says he tried his best. But he's not sufficiently broken up about not winning a medal so he's a bad guy to all the sports 'journalists'. And while we are on the subject, how much longer are we going to be subjected to Bob Costas? When he started out in the business broadcasting the Spirits of St. Louis ABA games, he was loose, funny, creative, a pleasure to listen to. Now he is some pretentious automaton thinking that if he reads slowly and monotonically he will sound serious and grave and be taken seriously. And what's with the hair dye?

I watched some short track skating, some curling, some women's hockey, some luge. But it seemed everytime I watched, the focus was some American who was in like 15th place yet we saw each and every run they took. I preferred it when the Olympics were on ABC's Wide World of Sports and they focused on the top athletes regardless of nationality. NBC is just awful. And they still don't get one of the main draws of sports on TV: it's supposed to be LIVE!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

STLtoday - Religion - Controversy follows Marek Bozek from Poland to St. Louis:
"Catholics, said the 31-year-old Bozek, are taught to revere the church's authority and the authority of those in the church hierarchy. Though it is central to the church, he said, 'obedience, thank goodness, is not the highest value. There are three other values that are higher: justice, truth, charity,' he said. 'Authority and obedience need to serve these three values. If any authority demands of you obedience that would be unjust, untruthful, uncharitable, you - as a Catholic - not only can be disobedient, but should be disobedient.'"

This is theologically accurate. But you'll never hear that from a "mainstream" pulpit and I'd wager most Catholics you would talk to would say they've never heard of that. Here is another quote from Fr. Bozek that is exactly right:

"'I would never get involved here if the archbishop had not taken away the sacraments from these people,' he said. 'This is the biggest atrocity in the 21st century in the Catholic church - to use the sacraments as a game. That's a bigger abuse than the abuse of minors, or at least the same gravity, because the sacraments are the most holy thing for Catholics. If you take seriously what the church teaches about sacraments, it's the very presence of the Lord. And how can you use the very presence of God to manipulate someone?'"

Well, he goes overboard a bit on the "atrocity" business, but this is part of Burke's M.O. He threatened to withhold communion from persons who voted for candidates that HE considered pro-choice in the last general election! He quietly rescinded that edict much later but that damage had been done. Now Burke and his minions are mounting a smear campaign against Fr. Bozek. I hope he has the ability to withstand the onslaught and show Archbishop Burke as the weak, pathetic man that he is.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Raging Bull (1980)****
You can pick up the 2-disc collector's edition at Target this week for just $10. Watched it with the Scorsese-Schoonmaker commentary on last night and I was surprised to learn that the amazing fight sequences, which appear to be marvels of the film editor's art, were in fact all planned out in advance. Schoonmaker says "There wasn't much for me to do" in putting the sequences together since Scorsese had already cut it in his head and storyboarded everything. So maybe I was a little hasty in chastising Steven Soderburgh below for editing "Bubble" on the fly? Not so fast. Scorsese says that one of his original cuts had a flashback structure where we would see the older Jake, then a sequence in the past, then the older again, then back to the younger, etc. After watching it though, he said almost looked like there were two characters, two Jakes and it was off-putting. He hit upon the bookend approach and that made all the difference.

Friday, February 10, 2006

"When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look into the reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or our family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change."

Thich Nhat Hahn

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Former Feinstein staffer edited Wikipedia entries / Changes raise questions about reference Web site:
"Wikipedia operates as an 'open source' information site that anyone can add to or edit -- viewed as a strength and a weakness of the site that Hitwise tracked as the second-most visited Internet reference site after The idea is that self-policing in that its users will find and correct inaccuracies, continually improving the content."

Wikipedia has been around quite a while. It's not a secret how it works. It is ONE source. It never claimed to be the all-knowing, 100% accurate, complete source for any question or research topic. I'm getting pretty tired of the sudden outrage over Wikipedia. I think it is wonderful but, like everything in life, caveat emptor.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 - Mummified woman died naturally:
"Investigators learned that Painter took care of Pope's body - trying to preserve it. Owens said Painter put on gloves and removed the maggots from Pope's body daily. He said she used bug spray when they became too numerous to remove by hand. Investigators found 17 cans of bug spray in the house, he said."

17 cans of bug spray. 17 cans. Of bug spray. Absolutely THE weirdest story I have ever read.
STLtoday - Sports - Rams: Martz Takes Lions Job
Hopefully, he got what he wanted and did not settle for something less. Since he will also be coaching the quarterbacks, maybe that allowed them to pay him more than they initially wanted. Good for him. I'm glad he's back in the NFL.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I have this theory: human beings like order. It is comforting to us because our brains are designed to see patterns. So when we can order things or see signs of order, we feel better, safer. This is why human societies tend towards dictatorships. Especially when the society is afraid, the people want order; visible, palable order. When our normal patterns of behavior are threatened, or perceived to be threatened, we want someone ANYONE to tell us and show us that something is being done and it doesn't look like we really care what that something might be.

I say this because I read somewhere (and I really looked for the link for quite a while) that Bob Woodward was writing a new book about something or other and he said something like "I wouldn't count Dick Cheney out for 2008. He's an old warhorse and Republicans love old warhorses." After cleaning up the mess around my keyboard and monitor, I considered the prospect and it occurred to me that if he ran today, I don't really see any reason at all that he would lose. Against anybody else. In my circles at least, and admittedly they may not be stellar circles, and from what I read and see, people are still very much afraid of something. And the devil you know is mighty mighty comforting to folks who live in fear.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Rolling Stones agreed to Super Bowl censorship - Yahoo! News
"The Rolling Stones were aware of our plan which was to simply lower the volume on his microphone at those two appropriate moments," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Reuters. "We had agreed to that plan earlier in the week. The Stones were aware of it and they were fine with it."

The Rolling Stones from their beginning sought, encouraged and cultivated a reputation of raunchy, wild, lewd behavior and songs. And that has been their schtick for over 40 years. When you book The Stones, then, you should KNOW what you are getting. If you don't want that, then why do you book them? Kids don't give a shit about The Stones. There are lots of other aging rockers out there eager for a global audience. My only guess is that The Rolling Stones themselves sought the gig which doesn't surprise me. Mick Jagger has always been a shrewd businessman. The music was never first for him. Once in a while their songs get up into the artistry range but more often than not they're filler.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

U B U W E B :: Marshall McLuhan
"Television is not a pictorial medium. Television is an audile-tactile medium."

Fascinating interview with Marshall McLuhan on the Dick Cavett Show from 1970. Here is the guest list: McLuhan, Truman Capote, Gale Sayers and Al Hirt. Can you imagine ANY contemporary talk show (or any show for that matter) that would book such a lineup of guests? (Thanks to Robot Wisdom.)

Friday, February 03, 2006 News - International - Pope to let hardline group back in Church
"The SSPX, founded by the late French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, rejects many of the liberal reforms of the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council. It sticks to the old Latin Mass and opposes recognising the validity of other religions."

So here we have a group of people who are adamantly opposed to a rather fundamental collection of teachings of The Catholic Church and B16 is considering letting them back in communion. At the same time, you have the good parishioners of St. Stanislaus parish in St. Louis, who are in total agreement with the fundamental teachings of the faith, yet are at odds with the local archbishop because he wants control of their hard-earned assets. One dispute , which The Church seeks to resolve, is about what constitutes Catholicism. The other dispute is about money and ecclesiastical authority and The Church draws a hard line. Interesting.

Thursday, February 02, 2006 - NFL - Martz returns keys to Lions' offense over money: "A source said Martz was seeking a three-year contract that averaged just under $1.5 million a year, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported. Martz's agent, Bob LaMonte, met with Lions officials Thursday afternoon at the Lions' facility in suburban Detroit before talks broke off."

What were the Lions thinking? A 3 year deal for $1.5M/yr sounds EXTREMELY reasonable, almost insulting given what Al Saunders is making in Washington. For a near guaranteed playoff berth you don't want to spend $1.5M/yr? This makes no sense at all.
STLtoday - Sports - Rams
"This afternoon, Martz told Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch that he will not take the job as the Lions' offensive coordinator under new head coach Rod Marinelli."

I need a little quiet time now. I'll be fine. Really.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2046 (2004)**
Nice visuals, some interesting situations, beautiful actresses, yet it didn't add up for me. The thrust of the film was too vague for me to really care.
Martz near deal to join Lions staff - 02/01/06 - The Detroit News
AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME NEWS! I predict that the Lions will at least be in the playoffs next year. Mad Mike is back in the NFL calling plays and driving everyone C-R-A-Z-Y! He's got a dome team with some good young receivers, a good RB, he needs to nail down the QB spot but who better than him to do it? I can't wait for the new season to start. Let;s get that XL thing over with pronto....
Corpse Bride (2005)***
I *really* wish Tim Burton could find some other composer to collaborate with. Danny Elfman just does not do it for me. Aside from that drawback though, the animation is superb, even better than on The Nightmare Before Christmas. Nicely written also.
Bubble (2005)***
Bubble is a good flick. It's too short though. Painfully realistic scenes. Shot on high def digital cameras using non-professional actors, found locations, natural lighting. Soderburgh still manages to get some beautiful images. In the bonus material on the DVD he says he would shoot for a few days then edit for a couple days then shoot again. By the end of the shoot, they were able to watch the completed film. That's just not a normal process and I believe the film might have been better if he had taken his time a bit more. There's a lot of potential here but it doesn't feel totally realized. Still, it is an interesting film and I recommend it.