Mar 24, 2008

10,000 BC: Unifying the Country in Times of Trouble

I just posted this on my Rotten Tomatoes site, but I liked it so I am putting it up here too.

America is a place of conflict. There appears to be a divide on nearly every issue. Left Wing vs Right Wing. Liberal vs. Conservative. Clinton vs. Obama. Evolution vs. Intelligent Design. Religious vs. Non Religious. Movie Fans vs. Casual Moviegoers. Red Sox vs. Yankees. Duke vs. UNC. Star Trek vs. Star Wars. History Lovers vs. Those Doomed to Repeat It. But I am pleased to announce that there is a peacemaker on the horizon. It is something that can bring everyone together in a common cause - hatred of the movie 10,000 BC.

It is a rare movie that is so unifying. I saw the movie with a group of guys of all types and sorts. And it was only a few minutes until everyone was lifting up in chorus, "Huh?" Personally, I am was a History Major in college. And I was just amazed at the complete disregard for history. And that was what made this movie so amazing. It wasn't even entertainingly awful - where it becomes a cult classic due to its idiocy. Instead, it was just dumb. I shouldn't have been surprised, considering it was by the same people who brought us Godzilla and Day After Tomorrow.

So to be an equal-opportunity reviewer, I want to explain why people from several groups would hate the movie before I get into my own quibbles.

THE EVOLUTIONIST: The movie depicts hunter/gatherer humans as building bridges and civilizations. These are not unintelligent pre-humans. They are humans who have not discovered hair care products. (Although they have discovered dental care.) Also, there are several animals shown that are usually classified as pre-human (Mammoth, Saber Tooth Tiger, Big Butt Ostriches That Look Like Feathered Raptors). Plus, all of this is supposed only 12,000 years ago instead of much earlier.

THE CREATIONIST: The movie has all of this happening 12,000 years ago. Most Intelligent Designers believe the Earth is only about 8,000 years old. Also, there has to be some kind of Pangaea going on, what with the bizarre climates portrayed. That probably was decimated by the Flood. Yet the Egyptians civilization is already in full swing, which is long after the Flood.

THE HISTORIAN: When exactly was the massive slave uprising in Egypt? When was the Pharoah killed by a slave? The Egyptians built bridges? And used mammoths to build pyramids? And they were Indian? And the Pharoah was an albino?

THE GEOGRAPHER: The main character went in search of his love. His journey took him through the following climates (in order). Plains - Snowy Plains - Snowy High Mountains - Jungle - Savannah - Arid Grassland - Massive Desert - Desert Next to Great Winding River. How exactly did that happen? Where could he possibly have left from and gone through to go that way? And he ran into natives in each area. Those were, in order: Native American (sort of) - African Tribal - Ancient South American Tribal - More African Tribal - More Egyptian (who looked like they were from India).

THE PHYSICIST: Ignoring all of the ridiculous things about how they moved so fast across an area that was the size of a continent, and the impossibilities of so many other things, the Physicist would have to throw his hands up over the amazing spear-throwing skills of the main character. First, he chucked a spear at a spy on a sand dune. The thing must have flown the length of a football field. Of course, it killed him. Then, later on, he was facing the Pharoah, who was standing at the top of the stairs leading into his massive temple/house. He chucks the spear UP THE STAIRS. It carries the entire length and then nails the dude in the chest. It wasn't and arcing throw or anything. Straight shot that suffered nothing from gravity. Amazing.

THE SELF RESPECTING MOVIE WATCHER (me): I know that some of this seems like harping. And the producers and directors have said that the movie was not meant to be accurate. It was just supposed to be entertaining. Well, they missed on both. There were not incredible action scenes or sweeping battle scenes. A couple things were cool (stampeding mammoths, fleet of boats, wacko makeup). The CG animals (except for the mammoths) were completely unbelievable. The birds and tiger looked so fake. And the logic was just ridiculous. I don't want to be a person that splits hairs and picks apart little details in movies (well, yes I do). But this is one of those cases where the stuff was so unbelievable and crazy that you can't even focus on the story -- especially when the story and the acting and the movie as a whole are not worth that leap. I love superhero movies, where logic is not invited to the party. But the movie itself is cool enough to allow for that allowance. This movie was NOT worth that level of goodwill. Instead, it deserved to be mocked and ridiculed by everyone, everywhere. It takes a true effort to be that bad. Way to GO!

Mar 15, 2008


I was keeping up with the Bay Hill Invitational golfing tourney online to see what Tiger was up to.  Turns out, he was up to his usual tricks.  He was having a "pedestrian" tournament - until today when he made up the deficit and now is tied for first.  Again.  He's won six tournaments in a row - and every event he has entered this year.  It made me think about if he was the best athlete I have ever seen.  

This is not just a collection of ESPN's Sports Century.  These are players I saw play on TV or in person.  So it reflects my bias.  I didn't watch much hockey, so putting Gretzky or Lemieux in there would be me just putting people I knew should be in there.  Also, sports like gymnastics and figure skating are hard because you may have some dominant people, but are this generation's any more amazing than last?  I don't know if you can make the argument that Kristi Yamaguchi is better or worse that Katarina Witt.  Both of them were great, but is one THAT MUCH better?  That's why the only skater on here never won anything of much importance (largely due to racism on the judges part - not even kidding.)

Honorable Mention (6-20, no order)
  • Andre Agassi - Anyone who can intentionally lose a set (6-0, too) of the Wimbledon Finals to conserve energy and win the title deserves some mention.  Especially if they still are in the Semifinals of the US Open at 38.
  • Lawrence Taylor - He was so fast when the league wasn't yet.  His sack of Joe Theisman that shattered his leg demonstrated his ferocity and speed - and was a major gross out moment of my childhood.
  • Surya Bonaly - French ice skater.  Only person who ever completed a flip and landed on one leg.  You should watch her on You Tube.  She skated like a guy and the skating community hated her for it.
  • Lance Armstrong - He was the best mountain racer AND the best sprinter and won seven Tour de Frances in a row.
  • Herschel Walker - People forget how great he was.  From 1980 to 1990 he was a force of nature.  He was the first real workout freak in football.
  • Magic Johnson - Amazing court vision and game knowledge.  Why isn't he coaching?
  • Carl Lewis - He won nine gold medals and one silver over the span of three Olympics - as a sprinter and long jumper.
  • Michael Johnson - This dude was a freak as a runner.  Totally unbelievable and unbeatable.
  • Deion Sanders
  • Steve Young
  • Martina Navratilova
  • Mike Tyson - He won the heavyweight title in 63 seconds.  How do you do something like that?
  • Jerry Rice
  • Julius Erving
  • Barry Bonds - Steroids or not, he was an amazing hitter.
5. Barry Sanders - I remember one game, Barry was racing up the sideline.  The Lions were playing the Steelers.  Rod Woodson was the All-Pro defensive back for Pittsburgh - widely considered best in the NFL.  Sanders came running up and Woodson prepped for the tackle.  Next thing you know, Sanders is on his way to the end zone and Woodson had blown his ACL.  Sanders literally juked him out of his knee.  At least Woodson had an excuse for missing the tackle.  Sanders spent his career making everyone look like an idiot.  He turned a mediocre Lions team into a feared opponent.  His college record for yards in a season still stands - and was set in four less games than whoever breaks it will have played in (over 2600 yards in just 11 games).

4. Larry Bird - I could not STAND Bird.  He was my least favorite player ever.  I thought he was dirty and arrogant.  There would be nothing better to me than leaving him off this list.  But to do so would only highlight my ignorance.  As I read Bill Simmons, I realize even more how amazing Bird was.  I don't remember every detail.  I just remember that game after game that should have been a loss for those blasted Celtics would turn into a victory because Bird hit some shot that shouldn't have gone in.  He could pass, defend, shoot like crazy.  Just not dunk - except for that one All Star Game.

3. Bo Jackson - What could have been.  Jackson could have been the greatest player ever.  If that hip had held up.  He was an All Star in both baseball and football.  He had amazing home run power and then would run right over players in football.  I saw him in college, and hated it when he played Georgia.  Then he spurned football to play baseball.  I always have wondered what would have happened if he had been able to keep playing.  Where would he have ended up?  Probably at the top of this list.

2. Tiger Woods - It is weird saying that a golfer is the greatest athlete or whatever.  They hit a tiny ball around a course.  But he is so dominant.  It is ridiculous.  Some of what he has done is just incredible - from winning major events with an 18 under par to winning by 12 strokes at other majors.  And he is so young.  He's won 66 tournaments (or something like that) and he's 32.  Add to that the sick money ($100 million from Nike alone).  Gooooo.

1. Michael Jordan - It is going to take a supreme effort to ever top this guy.  I have seen him do things that no human should be able to do.  He hung in midair, hustled on both ends of the court, and could stick a dagger in your heart.  The amazing thing was that he was Defensive Player of the Year several times, although he was known as a scorer.  He played one of his finest games when horribly ill with the flu.  I can't even limit his greatest plays to ten.  Anytime he was on the court, Chicago had a chance and you didn't change the station.

Mar 12, 2008

Finally Found Our Man

Some brief housekeeping.  
  • When you leave comments, please affix your name.  I know that people like to remain anonymous and stuff.  But when the comment is personal, and no one signs it, it makes it hard to know who to beat the stuffing out of . . . uh, I mean . . . who to respond to.  This is not a requirement.  If you choose to remain anonymous, you can still respond.  I just will be meaner to  you.  :)
  • To the comment-creator who told me that I would not like the end of The Appeal:  Thanks for that.  The whole time I was worried about what that meant.  In the end, I guess you were right.  I didn't like the events that transpired, I didn't like the outcome, I didn't like decision.  But, it was very realistic and true to life.  Happy endings don't always happen.  And bad guys win - a lot!  I was more disappointed with Grisham's writing.  I would say the book was thought-provoking, but one of his worst outings as far as story, characters, writing, etc.
  • Just to clear up any confusion.  I am now primarily a Jacksonville Jaguars fan and secondarily a Tampa Bay Bucs fan.  That switch was made about 18 months ago.  Also, I am a UCF Knights fan.  That is it.  I like the Georgia Bulldogs, but they are not even in the same class as UCF as far as my affections.  I have no other college paraphernalia being flaunted anywhere.  
And with this post, I complete my political trifecta...

I finally decided who I think should be the President of the United States.  I am tired of all of this wussy campaigning.  Everyone goes out of their way to not insult anyone.  This will often make long segments of debates sound like speed dating.  "I think Senator Obama is a brilliant man."  "Senator Clinton is my friend."  No one wants to seem like a jerk - or be too negative (now).  So it is the Mutual Admiration Society.  And why not?   These people run in the same circles, work in the same building, and basically are just slight variations of each other.

Case in point, the whole Geraldine Ferrarro debacle.  I cannot believe that I would EVER defend that woman for anything.  But all she did was express a sentiment that was not altogether incorrect.  She may have done it in a tactless manner or at an ill-opportuned time.  But it was not complete bunk.  Even Senator Obama knows this - and uses it to his advantage.  She said that if Obama was white, he would not be in this place.  Well, can anyone really see a problem with that?  Part of his appeal is that he is NOT white.  Part of what sets him apart is his race.  He knows that and uses it.  It helps with the whole "outsider coming to fix DC" bit.  He's an outsider because he hasn't been in Washington for too long, and because he is not a "traditional" candidate.  What does that mean, if it doesn't mean race?  Is it because he smokes?  It is because he doesn't have a lot of experience?  

We have gotten so caught up in not offending people that Clinton's people turned on Ferrarro and basically forced her to quit her position in the campaign.  Two different major figures have used the word "lynch" in statements in the last six months.  Both of them turned into huge firestorms, when it was clear neither person had any racial intentions.  I understand that the imagery behind that word is a very negative one - but look at context, people.  It is amazing to me that people have gotten so uptight.

So, I believe that we need to find a candidate who is strong and self-assured.  He needs to be able to not give a rip about big business, but he also needs to have a startling lack of concern for people around him.  He needs to be able to make the tough decisions - even in the face of disaster.  He needs to be tough, unrelenting, and charismatic.  Yet, he needs to be able to fess up to his mistakes - when they are big enough to get him in trouble.

I think our next President should be Eliot Spitzer, outgoing Governor of New York.  Let's look at why:
  • He Is Fearless - He rose to prominence by breaking down organized crime, big business crimes, and prostitution.  And then he goes and gets hooked up with a prostitution ring.  Absolutely brilliant.  You have to have absolutely NO FEAR to do something like that.  I mean, get involved in the same kind of people you made a career out of destroying?  Awesome.  Imagine how having no fear would play out in the Presidency.  Some foreign leader threatening you?  No biggie.  You took down Mafia before, how hard is dealing with Pakistan?  Secret treaties, backdoor bribes.  Whatever it takes.  Drop bombs all over the place and then be their friends.  The possibilities are endless.
  • He is Heartless - The big meeting with him and his, uh, lady friend took place the night before Valentine's Day.  That is just cruel.  Did he then take his wife out for a romantic evening?  Did he do anything?  But, to top it off, he had his wife by his side during his speeches.  How did he pull that off?  As Mike Golic said the other day, "My wife said I would be there with a bloody eye, and she'd have bandages around her bloody hand."  This is a man who will sign a treaty with a country and then bomb them.  We need someone like this, who can look past every entanglement.  If you offend someone, so what?  You're the President! 
  • He is Relentless - Eight times!  It is being reported that he used the ring eight times.  You have to like the audacity to continue to frequent the place.  That's not a one time mistake - it is just relentless arrogance.  That kind of person isn't going to worry if he keeps getting turned down by some wussy group like the UN.  North Korea not letting you search for weapons?  So what, they will.  Keep on asking.  Or bomb the snot out of them.  Eight times.
  • He Knows Quality is Worth the Price - He doesn't care if things are expensive, he'll buy them anyway.  $1500 an hour for a prostitute?  That's fine.  See, THAT'S the kind of President who wouldn't balk at a price tag.  "$2 Trillion for a war?  Go for it!  $80,000 for body armor for soldiers?  Get them two sets each.  $1.5 million on a toilet seat?  Who cares?  Get it!"
  • He Can Apologize When Absolutely Necessary - Get backed in a corner, have everyone questioning you issue a wimpy apology -- for nothing!  Notice, he never said why he was apologizing.  This is even better than the non-apology apology.  "I'm sorry for making poor choices."  That could be buying the wrong cheese.  But he's not afraid to admit mistakes, which the President has to do sometimes when everyone gets all uppity.  Bombing North Korea eight times is bound to tick people off.  "I'm sorry for making bad choices."  See, everything is all better.
THIS is the man we need in Washington.  He'll clean it up good, and then replace the old filth with at new, higher quality of trash.  He'll never let emotion rule the day.  He'll never settle for less than the best.  He'll never stop - even when common sense has long ago stopped crying out because it is a waste of time.  He'll do what needs done, regardless of who it hurts, how much it costs, or how stupid it is.  And he's not above issuing a meaningless apology to ease tensions.  THAT'S COMMITMENT!  THAT'S DEDICATION!?  THAT'S PRESIDENTIAL!!!  Now, if only he hadn't resigned.  That's going to be hard to live down. 

Mar 6, 2008

Democratic Delegates

A couple weeks back I slightly pushed the Political Door open.  Then yesterday I pushed it a little further.  Since I haven't gotten attacked or beaten with rods, I guess I should just go ahead and kick the door in and jump.

There is a huge battle brewing about the Democratic Delegates from Florida and Michigan.  Here's the latest.  The Democratic Party punished Michigan and Florida for moving their Presidential primaries earlier in the election season.  The punishment was the that their primaries would not count, and the delegates would not be seated at the convention.  With the Democratic Party, the delegates are handed out based on the outcome of the state.  Every candidate gets them, and the percentage of votes determines number of delegates.  The candidates all agreed to stay away from those two states.  Well, sort of...

Hillary Clinton put her name on the Michigan ballot, even though she wasn't supposed to.  And she actually did some campaigning in Florida, even though she promised she wouldn't.  So, she won both states.  Now, everyone in those two states want their delegates included.  If I was Obama, I would be furious about this.  You see, I can say all of this, because at this point I don't like ANYONE left in any of the races.  So I don't care about defending one person over another.  But these are the simple facts.
  • The Democrats agreed to stay out of Michigan and Florida.
  • Everyone did that - except Clinton.
  • She won both states - largely because of name recognition.
  • Voters in both states were told repeatedly their votes did not matter.
  • Voters in both states were not given the opportunity to hear both sides.
  • Clinton broke the Party's rules in both states.
So, why exactly should we just allow the delegates to be seated based on the original votes?  Clinton is obviously pushing for this because she is in trouble and knows she would score a bucket load of delegates for winning both states.  But is that fair?  I don't think so.  I think that it is dirty pool.  I mean everyone knew this battle would come up.  I don't know if everyone thought the Democratic race would be so close at this point.  But they knew that Florida and Michigan would want seated.  I'm guessing most pundits didn't think it would matter if they were.  But now it does.  

(And how is it that Florida is always at the center of these election fiascos?  I swear, it is like Florida is the Island from Lost or something.  I'm always expecting to run into Jack whenever I wander near a wooded region.  Think about it.  Bizarre weather patterns . . . Beaches . . . Big abandoned hatches all over (air raid shelters) . . . Lots of foreign people with agendas . . . Shipwrecks . . . Always causing trouble.  I'm making sense, aren't I?) 

I know that in Michigan the rules states that if over 15% of voters in the primary picked "Undecided" then the delegates assigned to that percent could vote however they wanted - allowing the other candidates to pick up some votes.  And it ended up that over 40% voted "Undecided."  But, still, that means that Clinton got 60% for breaking the rules.  

I think that the only fair thing is something that - of all people to come up with a smart thought - Howard Dean (head of the Democratic Party) came up with is to re-vote in Michigan and Florida.  This is the only fair thing!  It is the only way to make sure that a "true" democratic process is observed that is fair to all candidates.  It is the only way to allow both Clinton and Obama a chance to win voters.  And it is the only way to make sure that the Democratic Party is able to choose the person the party really wants.  

If you think this doesn't matter to you because you are a Republican or Independent or Green or whatever, think about this.  There is a very good probability that the person who wins the Democratic nomination will be elected.  They are leading in every poll - regardless of who wins the Party nod.  So, it really comes down to the fact that how Florida and Michigan go will determine the nominee.  If it stays as is and the delegates aren't included, Obama will very likely win.  If they are included based on the messed up election, Clinton will very likely win.  Kind of raises the stakes, doesn't it? 

Mar 5, 2008

There's Something Wrong Here

A couple of housekeeping elements:
  • I forgot one major movie in my last post.  I have never seen The Passion of the Christ.  I have never had the desire.  I didn't need to see something horrific to get saved.  I don't want to watch it now.  It was a good movie with some great ramifications.  But I wasn't there.
  • I had to delete the Mike Huckabee panel, since he dropped out of the race yesterday.  I was proud to back a good man like that.  And I hope that he has a long and illustrious career.  He really showed that there are a lot of people in his party that are not happy.  I hope that didn't fall on deaf ears.
That actually leads me into my post.  I am reading a really good book right now - The Appeal by John Grisham.  It is not ruining anything to outline the plot.  A major chemical company loses a lawsuit and a huge financial award for causing illness through negligence.  They don't want to pay it, largely due to the flood that it would cause.  So they appeal the ruling, and then try to rig the outcome by backing a sympathetic judge in Supreme Court elections.

Then last night I started watching Oscar nominee Michael Clayton.  It is about a law firm that is representing a chemical company that is being sued for negligence which causes illness.  (Popular storyline I guess.)  The thing about both of the stories that bothered me is the role big business plays.  They cut corners, save dollars, hurt people, and then try to outlast the injured parties with repeated appeals.  These companies have lawyers and millions of dollars to use in the battle.  Most people don't have that to fight back.

This is hardly new territory.  Grisham himself visited here with The Rainmaker (which was made into a far inferior movie with Matt Damon and Claire Danes.)  There have been examples for years - from the S&L collapses in the 1980s to Enron and its ilk to the recent sub-prime mortgage fiasco.  Big companies run over the little people, leave a swatch of destruction, and then hurt the little people again when their scheme goes belly up.

So what really bothered me was in the Grisham book, where they were finding this new judge.  He was a devout Christian, and he was paraded in front of Pro Family Groups, Christian Groups, Prayer Groups -- along with Pro Gun Groups, Big Business Guys, Tort Reform Supporters.  And that is where it hit me.  If you are a Conservative Christian, chances are you vote Republican.  And you get tossed in with those other groups.  Basically, you have to support those other causes if you are taking a stand on "moral issues" because there is nowhere else to go.  So, because of that, it is assumed that the following are true (using the vernacular used to describe me by the "other side").
  • I am pro-gun
  • I am pro-war
  • I am pro-big business
  • I am anti-lawyer
  • I am pro-pharma
  • I am pro-insurance company
  • I am anti-gay
  • I am anti-abortion
  • I am pro-death penalty
  • I am anti-poor
  • I am anti-minority
The thing is, when I look at that list, some of those apply.  But a lot of them don't.  I am not pro-war.  I never backed it in the first place.  I just think we have to have an intelligent strategy over there (immediate and total withdrawal is not intelligent).  I hate insurance companies.  I hate pharmaceutical companies.  I hate big business.  And I'm not even a gun fan.  (Can't think of a reason why I should be a gun owner.)  I don't hate minorities or poor people.  But I do support some facets of moral issues.  So that lands me in with these groups.  It is said that politics make strange bedfellows.  But this is ridiculous.

There is not really an option, it would appear.  If you vote one way, you are accused of supporting a complete breakdown of morals in America.  If you vote the other, you are accused of supporting evil corporations and hating poor people.  Honestly, it seems like that it doesn't even make sense how the parties picked their platforms.  

I remember reading an interview with Bono from U2 in Rolling Stone a few years back.  He commented on how ironic it was that so many Christians were Republicans.  He said that many things the Democratic party stood for (helping poor, helping victims) actually were closer to what Jesus taught.  But he pointed out that Democrats rarely even went after those Christian groups because of the big issues (abortion, gay marriage).  It really makes it difficult to vote responsibly.  How can you support one person - when they stand for some things you agree with and for others you don't?  It almost comes down to which issues are the MOST important.

That is one of the reasons we backed Huckabee.  He was called a compassionate conservative - where he actually had some mercy in some of his positions.  Of course, this got him absolutely destroyed by the Republican establishment.  They called him a closet liberal and swore to never support him.  I am very frustrated right now.  I have no idea what to do with my political stance any more.  I cannot in good conscience continue to support candidates just because my party tells me to.  Look at the Republican party the last few years - all the scandals and problems.  It was just like when American backed all those dictators in the 1950s and 1960s to keep the Soviets out.  Instead, twenty and thirty years later, the US is trying to get rid of those dictators because they are killing people and blowing up OUR stuff.

The GOP did the same thing.  "At least this guy isn't liberal."  Instead, he was a total liar, fraud, skeevy pervert.  That's a LOT better.  What are we supposed to do?  Some of you reading this are getting angry - some because I am questioning the Republicans, some because I am a Republican.  Others of you are in the same boat as I am - really trying to figure it all out.  If I let the Bible be my guide as to how I vote, shouldn't I be against some of the very things my Party supports?  And shouldn't I be for some of the things that my "opposition" supports?  How do you rectify that in the voting booth?  I can't believe this is the way things are supposed to keep going.  I have a lot to think about between now and November.