June 28, 2004

Life outside the diamond is a wrench

I saw two solid flicks this weekend. And it's a close call but, I'm giving Dodgeball the nod over Fahrenheit 9/11.

Partly, it has to do with crowds. 9/11 was showing at cramped, underlit Metreon with a riled up hoard of liberals who were very agitated about proper line etiquette. Also, seriously, thanks SF Lefties for taking the time to make neat anti-Bush fliers and dress up like Condi Rice, but you kinda get on my nerves after awhile. Especially when you refuse to pass out your own pamphlets.

"Take one and pass it down" does not a movement make.

Dodgeball on the other hand was at the spacious Coronet. (Incidentally, I called 411 to find out the theater's number and they gave me the movie times! Who knew.) And while it is solely a broad physical comedy with a Ski School-inspired plot, man, is it funny.

With respect to 9/11, I agree with Matt's comments about how there're some good Morrisean touches, especially the soundtrack. However, I was a little bothered by the amount of time spent on Carlyle Group stuff and the now-revised Bin Laden Airlift business. Also, there's no denying the relevance or power of the story of the mom who lost her son, but, gosh, he really left her up there to bleed for us.

It was only slightly harder to watch than the Senate footage of Al Gore certifying the 2000 election results. That's got to be the single most agonizing professional experience of all time.

June 25, 2004

Wooden pickle

I've heard lots of speculation as of late about what wacky tactic the GOP will whip out to turn the tide. Not listed among those at October Surprise are the following:

  • Instead of dropping balloons at the GOP convention, Osama bin Laden will be lowered from the rafters in a cage

  • The GOP will launch a "John Kerry blows goats" smear campaign (courtesy Dave)

  • Bush announces a new reality show: "Who Wants to be King of Iraq?" (Johnny B's vote)

  • Cheney is dropped from the ticket and is replaced by Colin Powell

The last is pretty scary, don'cha think?

June 23, 2004


Ralph Nader tried to explain to the Congressional Black Caucus what the hell he's doing in the presidential race ... and it didn't go so well.

Apparently, his explanation is that "he will help elect presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry in November by splitting the conservative vote and siphoning support from President Bush."

In what world does that make sense? Which conservatives are gonna say, "You know I was gonna vote for Bush because I'm a pro-life supporter of the war in Iraq, but now that Nader's involved I just gotta make sure that whacko liberal doesn't get elected. Count me in John Kerry!"

Ralph Nader, I invite you to explain yourself at your earliest convenience.

June 22, 2004


Today, Bush said: "They are trying to get us to withdraw from the world so that they can impose their dark vision on people."

Impose their dark vision ... so that's like when the Emperor shoots Force Bolts at Luke in order to get him to submit to the Dark Side, right?

I have to say, this is a powerful phrase. I think whoever wrote probably saw Lord of the Rings the night before. You can just picture the forces of Good being beaten back by marauding hordes of barbaric beheaders.

June 21, 2004

Double Down Weekend

Moderation, I know ye not.

On Saturday, I took a double dip of Mission-style BBQ action. Final poultry-fruit sausage count: 3.

But that was just the opener to yesterday's showcase of intemperance. By way of background, I've recently been having a Netflix-based crisis of conscious in which I only rent really bad movies. For example, Deep Impact followed up by Gods & Generals. (The latter being Ted Turner's 4 hour paean to the muscular piety Stonewall Jackson.)

It's hard to say why I watch these movies. Partly, I believe you can sometimes find a kernel of beauty in the dungheap of mediocrity. Mostly, it's trainwreck curiosity.

Anyway, I went to see Chronicles of Riddick yesterday. That's the epic, far-future sci-fi movie that's gonna end Judi Dench's career. I had such low expectations, that I was quite pleasantly surprised.

In the minus column you've got cringeworthy dialogue and downright goofy action editing. But it is a legitimately good story with awesome production design. Three Headed Staff of Evil = KickAss! And Colm Feore's supervillian is Evil from Time Bandits with badass superpowers and a penchant for inlavafying planets.

Inspired by Riddick, I decided to go back-to-back and catch the Harry Potter flick as well. Here's a case where the collective opinion is right on; it is the strongest of the three, partly because it is more 'mature' i.e. the kids are older and some of that stuff's downright scary.

And, like, the scenes with the hippogriff were pleasantly reminiscent of Spirited Away.

All-in-all a fun, supersized weekend.

June 17, 2004

Coke is it! (It is Coke.)

And the winner for Best Tautological Argument in Defense of an Unjust War ... George Bush!

"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda."

June 16, 2004


This month, Ronald Glasser writes the quintessential closing lines to a Harper's article:

We have grown so foolish and so incompetent that perhaps we do not deserve to survive. Perhaps it is simply time to die.

In this case, doom is coming in the form of super charged diseases. Diseases to which we are particularly susceptible because of a lack of a coherent public health policy.

Incidentally, back in the heyday of high school debate, Matt was running a killer opp based on the rise of supertuberculosis due to health care mismanagement and the over-prescription of antibiotics. I remember well the card which declared "Hospitals are the Temples of Death and Doctors their High Priests!"

Good times.

June 07, 2004

You're talking about memories!

So, yeah, Ronald Reagan's dead.

In 1984, we had an elementary school mock election. I knew that my mom was going to vote for Mondale, but that all my friends (and, it turns out, everyone else) were going to vote for Reagan. I stood in the voting booth for 10 minutes and changed my vote 3 times before finally going with the herd.

I've been dreading Reagan's demise for awhile. Now, it's only a matter of time until Mt. Rushmore and the $5 are remade in his likeness.

However, like Christmas, it seems that by living in San Francisco and avoiding TV you can escape almost any mass marketed phenomenon.

I did see some CNN today. It was Anderson Cooper but without sound. The banner graphic at the bottom read as follows: "Ronald Reagan Remembered - What to Remember."

It's nice that TV wants to be so helpful.

June 04, 2004


Previously, when I wrote about the documentary Control Room, I was particularly struck by Lt. Josh Rushing's struggle to make sense of the war and his role in it.

Rushing, now a Marine captain, talked to the Village Voice about the depiction of war:

"I think it should all be shown, the dead on both sides ... In America war isn't hell — we don't see blood, we don't see suffering. All we see is patriotism, and we support the troops. It's almost like war has some brand marketing here.

"Al Jazeera shows it all ... It turns your stomach, and you remember there's something wrong with war."

Today, Salon is reporting that Rushing is leaving the military having been ordered to keep quiet. His wife is quoted as saying:

"Everything that my husband represents in the military - the defense of freedom, and hopefully the expansion of freedom throughout the world - that's what a soldier is supposed to be, one would think. But it seems that he's denied some of those basic freedoms."


June 03, 2004

Take Two

Despite it being a favorite of friends far and wide, I've never known anyone who saw Donnie Darko in the theater.

Turns out it made $500K when it was initially released in 2001. On opening weekend it was only ever on 58 screens - by the fourth weekend only 6 theaters carried it.

By way of contrast, I did see Congo in the theaters - a movie featuring laser-armed grey apes. It made $81M.

I also saw The Next Karate Kid (starring Hilary Swank in the title role) on opening night no less. It managed to make $9M domestically.

Fortunately, Donnie Darko's being given a second shot this summer. Even if it's only in 50 theaters again, I'm betting that 5 will be in SF and that opening night will be completely sold out.