Thursday, December 23, 2010

Woman found dead in home of August Busch IV:
"A law enforcement source told the Post-Dispatch that the death was initially being investigated as a possible overdose.
It's not immediately clear if Busch was at the residence. Frontenac police, who cover Huntleigh, said they would release a statement later today. Local attorney Art Margulis, who is a lawyer for Busch, told the Post-Dispatch: 'I can tell you there is absolutely nothing suspicious about her passing, and it's a tragic and untimely death of a young person. A very kind young person, by the way.'"

Yes let's make sure that we get it out in the press that Busch "might" not have been there at the time this "very kind young person" met her most unkind fate. What a strange thing for a lawyer to say!

Let's see how well the cover up goes. At one time, the Busch's owned St. Louis. Since the sale of the brewery to In-Bev, not so much.
Black Swan (2010)****
A film about the limits of obsession featuring a career-defining performance by Natalie Portman. Darren Aronofsky lets his images do the talking for the most part and the result is very impressive.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"“After I worked with Clint [Eastwood] I went back and said, ‘Look, Clint is having a blast and he’s going to be 80 years old.’ And Steven says back, ‘Yeah, but he’s a storyteller and I’m not,’” Damon recounted. “If you’re an actor or a writer or someone working in film, it’s such a waste. For me, I’m going to spend the next 40 years trying to become a great director and I will never reach what he’s reached. And he’s walking away from it.”"

Agreed. Soderbergh is one of a handful of directors with a half dozen essential films to their credit. And he's still doing great work. The Girlfriend Experience was exceptional.
The latest Jets controversy is the strangest one yet - ProFootballTalk:
"If he didn’t care about it, the comment would be something other than “no comment.” It would be something along the lines of, “See, I told you I was married to a supermodel, too.” The more likely reality is that he simply assumed that no one would be smart enough to connect the dots, and that if anyone ever did he would just ignore it and move on."

Don't get me wrong, I am NOT a fan of Mr. Ryan at all. I don't like his extreme arrogance and big mouth. But, this kind of thing is clearly way out of bounds for reporters and there was a time when they knew that. The only reason they are making a story out of this is because they do not like him. Very petty stuff. I mean, who DOESN'T like a pretty foot every now and then? ;-)
The Last Several Days . . . | The Agonist:
". . . have not been without good news: the repeal of DADT, the passage of the new START treaty and today's Senate vote to actually do something for our 9/11 responders. So, credit where credit is due: Obama, the Senate Democrats and the House Democrats and a few, very few, Republicans willing to tell the party crazies to 'eff off.'"

I've seen this sentiment echoed in various lefty blogs but nobody is connecting the dots: this is the other shoe dropping from giving in to the Republicans on the Bush tax deal. And what did they get? Things that they would have gotten anyway! There is NO WAY START would not get passed. DADT was a matter of time. Even the military was for repeal! And would the Reps let the 9/11 Responders bill go down by the time the 2012 elections came around? I don't think even they are THAT stupid. Yet Obama gave away the store to get these things. And who pays for it? We, the taxpayers do. Color me unimpressed. We already have Obama pulling shit like this and there is all this posturing about cutting Social Security on the near horizon. This guy is still bad news.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Divided FCC adopts rules to protect Web traffic - Yahoo! News:
"At the same time, the two Republicans on the FCC worried that the rules will discourage phone and cable companies from continuing to upgrade their networks by making it difficult for them to earn a healthy return on their investments. They also insist that the regulations are intended to fix a problem that does not exist, as all the major broadband providers have already pledged not to discriminate against Internet traffic on their networks."

ROFLMAO! Ya gotta love those Republicans. In the face of overwhelming, easily verifiable evidence to the contrary, they stick to their guns. So the phone and cable companies are finding it "difficult for them to earn a healthy return on their investments"? Then why are their profits obscenely stratospheric? And the new regs are unnecessary because the providers have "pledged" not to break them? Really? They can't seriously believe that all we need is a pledge from corporations, right?

I haven't read the new regulations and have heard some very conflicting reviews saying all sorts of extremes on both sides so I can't comment on them yet. But clearly there are efforts underway by the major ISP's to restrict, financially at least, internet traffic based upon origin and destination and we need rules to prevent that.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 In Review: Music

**** Apples In Stereo - Travellers In Space and Time
**** Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love
**** Bettie Serveert - Pharmacy of Love
**** Crowded House - Intriguer
**** Elvis Costello - National Ransom
**** Frankie Rose and the Outs
**** KT Tunstall - Tiger Suit
**** New Pornographers - Together
**** Paula Carino - Open On Sunday
**** Shalini - Magnetic North
**** Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
*** Blitzen Trapper- Destroyer of the Void
*** Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM
*** Dum Dum Girls - I Will Be
*** Goldfrapp - Head First
*** Hellogoodbye - Would It Kill You?
*** Joan Armatrading - This Charming Life
*** Like - Release Me
*** Mystery Jets - Serotonin
*** Pernice Brothers - Goodbye, Killer
*** Ringo Starr - Y Not?
*** Shonen Knife - Free Time
*** Teenage Fanclub - Shadows
*** Vampire Weekend - Contra
*** Wavves - King of the Beach
*** We Are Scientists - Barbara
** Annie Lennox - A Christmas Cornucopia
** Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo
** Brian Ferry - Olympia
** Field Music - Measure
** JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys - Fidelity!
** Magic Kids - Memphis
** Spoon - Transference
* Devo - Something For Everybody
* Robyn Hitchcock - Propellor Time
* Various Artists - Electric Cambodia
TRON: Legacy (2010)**
At least the first movie made some logical sense. This one is incoherent. Jeff Bridges does fine work and Olivia Wilde looks cute but that's it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Romeo Is Bleeding (1993)***
Bloody, violent noir with a spectacular, mesmerizing performance by Lena Olin as a brutal and sexy assassin. The rest of the cast is very good, particularly Juliette Lewis.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Al Franken: The Hardest Vote I've Taken:
"And for the Minnesotans truly suffering right now -- men, women, and children on the edge of economic disaster -- the alternative is simply unacceptable. If we let Republicans block unemployment benefits, even temporarily, there will be a lot more pain for working families, a lot more homeless kids spending Christmas in a shelter or a car."

So the only alternative is to immediately acquiesce to ALL Republican demands without a fight at all? This is nothing but extortion and to let the Republicans get away with it, without ANY political damage is just about the stupidest thing I've seen Democrats do and that is saying QUITE a lot. I thought Franken was smarter than this.
Intact Grains vs. Whole Grains | Summer Tomato:
"Lesson 1: Refined grains contribute to nearly every chronic disease in modern civilization.

It is universally agreed in the nutrition community that refined, processed carbohydrates are the worst things to eat on the entire planet. And it is impossible to overstate how remarkable this is. The nutrition community is one of the most disagreeable bunches in all of science. But across the board–from vegans like Colin Campbell to carnivores like Robert Atkins–not a single one of them considers processed carbs to be nutritionally neutral. They all consider them dangerous.

Without question, refined carbohydrates contribute to poor health."

Sensible advice from Ms. Pino. Watch those refined carbs over the holidays!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Night Train to Munich (1940)***
Coolly directed by Carol Reed it nevertheless has a handful of terrific action sequences as Rex Harrison attempts to rescue a lovely Margaret Lockwood and her father from Nazi Germany as Britain enters the war.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Argentina, Uruguay to recognize Palestinian state - Yahoo! News:
"'The Argentine government recognizes Palestine as a free and independent state within the borders defined in 1967,' Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said, reading a letter sent by President Cristina Kirchner to Abbas. Timerman said the recognition reflected a general consensus among members of Mercosur, the South American trade bloc. Uruguay announced soon afterward it will recognize a Palestinian state next year. 'Uruguay will surely follow the same path as Argentina in 2011,' deputy foreign minister Roberto Conde told AFP. 'We are working towards opening a diplomatic representation in Palestine, most likely in Ramallah.' Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay all make up Mercosur. Venezuela's membership is pending."

The tide is shifting...South!

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)***
Fine effort from Terry Gilliam, back in Munchausen territory with an original story about a traveling stage act with an incredible gimmick. Maybe a metaphor for Gilliam's trials in film-making?
Persons Unknown (1996)**
Not quite abysmal, not quite good, yet maintains interest with a top notch cast and decent script. Another heist-gone-bad picture, but not up to Mamet or Coens levels.
Ex-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski: Spokespersons of US Right "In Most Cases Stunningly Ignorant" - SPIEGEL ONLINE
"SPIEGEL: And the American decline. Are Americans aware of that trend or does the fate of Carter await President Barak Obama should he openly address the issue?

Brzezinski: I am very worried that most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition in a country in which foreign policy has to be endorsed by the people if it is to be pursued. And it makes it much more difficult for any president to pursue an intelligent policy that does justice to the complexity of the world.

SPIEGEL: Yet the American right is still convinced of American exceptionalism.

Brzezinski: That is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant."

No argument here.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

I Am Legend (2007)**
For those scoring at home I have now seen all three film versions of the Richard Matheson novel and not one of them could muster more than 2 stars. Each had different flaws though. This one tries to shoehorn some quasi-religious message onto the proceedings and makes the infected humans into cartoon killing machines. Will Smith just does not have the screen presence to overcome the weaknesses.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The MacKintosh Man (1973)***
Nicely done espionage actioner crisply and imaginatively directed by John Huston. Solid cast with Paul Newman and James Mason standouts.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Heartbreaker (2010)*
Has the feel of a French remake of a bad Hollywood rom-com. Mildly amusing. The only saving grace is lovely scenes of Monaco and environs.