June 28, 2009

The Full Scope of the Tragedy Has Finally Been Revealed

Deepak Chopra informs: Michael Jackson was working on a song about climate change in the days before his death.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)

May 06, 2009

Star Trek

Haven't seen the eleventh Star Trek movie yet, but if the commercials are any indication it looks as though it will be virtually indistinguishable from any of a dozen Jerry Bruckheimer produced movies where lots of things move around really fast with lots of CGI right up to the point where they explode. Apparently some people like that sort of thing, but why it will make Star Trek more popular escapes me.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:12 PM | Comments (2)

September 10, 2008

Paranoia Srikes Deep

I complain a lot about most people know ing squat about history. Hell's bells, most of them can't seem to recall what happened yesterday ...

Seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, there is no consensus outside the United States that Islamist militants from al Qaeda were responsible, according to an international poll published Wednesday.

Remember, these are the same people who overwhelmingly want Senator Obama to be president of the United States. But you really do need to read the whole article to see the depth of lunacy out there:

The U.S. government was to blame, according to 23 percent of Germans and 15 percent of Italians.


Israel was behind the attacks, said 43 percent of people in Egypt, 31 percent in Jordan and 19 percent in the Palestinian Territories. The U.S. government was blamed by 36 percent of Turks and 27 percent of Palestinians.

In Mexico, 30 percent cited the U.S. government and 33 percent named al Qaeda.

How is one supposed to respond to this?

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:12 PM | Comments (1)

July 30, 2008

What a Wonderful World

Richard Simmons is autographing his new DVD at my local Walgreen's. Go ahead and top that if you can.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:50 PM | Comments (1)

June 25, 2008

Your Proposal Is Acceptable

Remember the alien in Men In Black when challenged by the doofus played by Vincent D'Onofrio? That's what comes to mind when hearing this:

"If we all register and vote, we will have the first black president in the history of America," Sean "Diddy" Combs told the crowd Tuesday at the Shrine Auditorium before chanting "Obama or Die"

Disclaimer, I don't want anyone to die. It's a joke. Sorry I had to explain it.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2008

What Is It About Gore?

Not Al, Vidal:

It will take the United States a century to recover from the damage wreaked by President George. W Bush, US writer Gore Vidal said in an interview published on Saturday.

"The president behaved like a virtual criminal but we didn't have the courage to sack him for fear of violating the American constitution," Vidal told the El Mundo newspaper.

The author, a trenchant critic of the US-led invasion of Iraq, said it would take the United States "100 years to repair the damage" caused by Bush.

"We live in a dictatorship. We have a fascist government ...which controls the media," he said.

The good news is that if Iraq was "Vietnam all over again, man," then at least we will be over Vietnam in another 68 years. But, hey, I'd like to know how Mr. Vidal managed to smuggle out his comments from the gulag.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:42 AM | Comments (1)

April 21, 2008

What Could I Possibly Add To This?


Except to note the following from the article:

Rendell appeared to be in his element.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:26 PM | Comments (0)

Virgin Space

I got a rocket in my pocket:

Virgin Galactic boss Sir Richard Branson is planning to set yet another record – by becoming the first man to marry a couple in space. The 58-year-old billionaire intends to conduct a ceremony 70 miles above the Earth on the first Galactic sub-orbital flight next year.

This is no little feat.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2008

Big Click

Meanwhile, in other eco-friendly public relations corporate news, Sergey Brin and Larry Page do not sell their personal Boeing 767:

Google steps up eco-activism, will help flood Capitol switchboard

Because the only thing that says "I care" more than a computer generated phone call is a million computer generated phone calls.

Maybe I should file this as yet another argument for limited government.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

Less Than Zero

When I saw this my first question was whether or not this guy was related to Oswald Mosely:

Formula One's governing body is keeping its distance from sexual allegations in a British tabloid newspaper about its president, Max Mosley.

"This is a matter between Mr. Mosley and the paper in question," an International Automobile Federation (FIA) spokesman said.

"We understand that Mr. Mosley's lawyers are now in contact with that newspaper and the FIA has no comment."

The News of the World reported in a front page story that FIA president Mosley, 67, had taken part in a "sadomasochistic orgy" with five prostitutes that reportedly involved Nazi role-playing.

Ohmigod, he is:

Mosley is the son of the late Oswald Mosley, founder of the pre-war British Union of Fascists.

Sometimes, my free word association football skills amaze me. Extra bonus points if you know where the post title comes from. For you Spleenville fans, Tim Blair is more the go to guy for Formula One.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2008

Masters of the Universe

The same sort of hubris that leads some to think mankind can save the world is what drives others to think mankind can destroy it:

... if two men pursuing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii turn out to be right. They think a giant particle accelerator that will begin smashing protons together outside Geneva this summer might produce a black hole or something else that will spell the end of the Earth — and maybe the universe.

... The world’s physicists have spent 14 years and $8 billion building the Large Hadron Collider, in which the colliding protons will recreate energies and conditions last seen a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Researchers will sift the debris from these primordial recreations for clues to the nature of mass and new forces and symmetries of nature.

... The lawsuit, filed March 21 in Federal District Court, in Honolulu, seeks a temporary restraining order prohibiting CERN from proceeding with the accelerator until it has produced a safety report and an environmental assessment. It names the federal Department of Energy, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and CERN as defendants.

For extra bonus curmudgeon points, read the article and note how the flippant attempt at humor in the first paragraph of the article. Dead, dying, and broke people are such a hoot. This is especially poignant since I'm willing to bet dollars to doughnuts the authors of this piece wouldn't know a Feynman diagram if it bit them in the ass.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:14 PM | Comments (2)

September 10, 2007

Let Me Axe You a Question

Look at this picture carefully and ask youself, can a fawning biopic of Leon Trotsky be far away?


Posted by Charles Austin at 09:56 AM | Comments (1)

September 09, 2007

The iPhones Are Moving Fast

Stocks Drop After Weak Jobs Report

Oh, it's not about Apple after all. Sorry.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:38 AM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2007

Facts Are Hard Things

And by hard, I don't mean hard hard, I mean the soft, malleable hard that comes from words having no real meaning other than what I choose for them to mean at any given moment...

On Thursday, British director and art house favourite Peter Greenaway illuminated some of the many secrets of the Rembrandt masterpiece "The Nightwatch" in his sensuous film "Nightwatching".

The movie explores the three women in Rembrandt's life and the influence of his home life on his painting, while also offering an explanation for the "riches to rags" story of the 17th-century Dutch master of light and shadow.

"I can't prove every single fact, but you can't disprove it either," Greenaway told a news conference.

A perfect postmodern statement of epistomology as we move beyond "fake, but accurate" into a realm of magical realism where factual no longer means objectively true but rather subjectively not disprovable.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

You Like the Kool-Aid -- and Steve Jobs Knows It

Apple screws its iPhone customers by cutting the price of the iPhone from $599 to $399 less than three months after so many of the iDweebs waited overnight in the rain for the privilege of giving money to Mr. Jobs. And after some of them complain, Mr. Jobs offers them a coupon for $100 that can be applied towards purchasing more Apple products.

He's got your number.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:03 AM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2007

I Like Peyton Manning

I really do. He's a decent person and a fantastic football player. But he is already way overexposed, and we're not even two minutes into the second half of the first game of the year.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

You'll Get No Argument From Me

Anybody else get a chuckle at NBC's halftime promo tonight:

Keith Olbermann: The Worst Man In the NFL

DOWNDATE: I didn't see the segment, or the previous one that prompted this one, but I understand that Keith agrees with me. Yes Keith, we get it. It is all about you.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2007

Reason Number 476 to Hate Charter Communications

Because they still haven't reached an agreement to carry the NFL Network while providing over 250 channels of crap every minute of the day. meaning I cannot watch the first game of the NFL season tomorrow night in the comfort of my La-Z-Boy recliner with heat and massage while I graze on Hillshire Farms Little Smokies cooked in my own single malt barbeque sauce.


Posted by Charles Austin at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

Ok Tiki, So You're a Quitter

Thanks for sharing ...

"If Tom Coughlin had not remained as head coach of the Giants, I might still be in a Giants uniform," Barber writes, according to the Daily News.

Wow, you mean you could have led the Giants to another 8-8 season if only Tom Coughlin had left?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:36 PM | Comments (1)

Christopher Hitchens is Brilliant

But you knew that. I'm not sure that there is a cleverer, more erudite, more in command of the facts debater and lecturer alive. Of course, his youthful enthusiasm for Trotsky and utter hostility to religion is kind of weird, but it doubtlessly enhances his book sales. The more I know and read about him the more impressed I am.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2007

It Which Must Not Be Read Before 12:01 AM, July 20

Like many, many other people, I've been preoccupied with a little touch of Harry in the night.

More later.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:00 AM | Comments (2)

July 16, 2007

Movie Review

(Arrgghh matey, there be spoilers ahead.)

The family went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night. I enjoyed it but daughter #1, who expects a full transcription of the book, was disappointed. She feels that if they aren't going to include everything then they shouldn't have bothered. Many plot lines from the book have been discarded or were touched upon ever so briefly that this film more than any previous HP film cannot stand on its own. I tried to explain the difficulties of adapting Mr. Rowling's rambling eight hundred pages into something less than ten hours, but without much success. Well, daughter #1 has viewed the HP films negatively ever since seeing Gary Oldman as Sirius. I will admit that a lot was left out, but how could it not be? Hmm..., the more I think about it, the more I wish they had made at least a 3 hour film. But I digress.

This film is dark, but, then again, so is the arc of the story. Marvelous casting and acting come to the fore and it does seem to end far too quickly. There is very little humor at all and lots of little coming of age epiphanies that mostly emphasize a recognition of the growing complexity of life and the difficult choices that must be made. I'm impressed that the books and films have both managed to avoid a sense of invincibility that most teenagers seem to feel about themselves.

The acts of violence commited against children in this film were quite shocking, though not necessarily in a way you might expect. More than once, the students of Hogwarts are shown coping, or struggling to cope, with the aftereffects of these violent acts. Like I said, this is a dark, yet appropriately so, film. The level of malevolence by Voldemort and his followers is ratcheted noticeably up. It isn't just about power for them but also a perveted, sadistic dominance where it all really adds up to something noticeably less than a zero sum game. Not that those ostensibly there to care for the students of Hogwarts are any bargain either. The willingness of officialdom to use any means necessary to further their own good ends should scare the bejesus out of a lot of folks. To move byond the obvious, think about who Ms. Umbridge choses to use the veritaserum on and why. Hermione's naive, "simple" faith in the responsible adults to do the right thing seems to have been finally shattered.

A few random thoughts ... is the Room of Requirement only for students? Didn't Ms. Umbridge have a need to know where Dumbledore's Army was meeting? And of course, it would have contained exactly what she needed. There are times when I can only admire the job that the administrators and teachers of high school age kids do. Just imagine how much tougher it might be if the kids could also do magic.

Complete aside ... it is funny to me that so many people read and adore the Harry Potter books and films with their rather clear moralizing, pointing out the bad incentives and poor performance of government entities, and the recognition of evil and the necessity of actively fighting it rather than ignoring it or trying to reach an accomodation with it. Yet those lesson somehow never seem to register when it comes to the real world. Oh well.

Now, I anxiously await the final book installment on Friday.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2007

Saving the World Ends Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

You know how to measure the lasting impact of Live Earth? Two days after it happened the only mention of it on The Drudge Report is a story about Madonna faking her guitar playing.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2007

Daddy Would Be So Proud

Offered without further comment ...

"Get rid of all these rotten politicians that we have in Washington, who are nothing more than corporate toadies," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmentalist author, president of Waterkeeper Alliance and Robert F. Kennedy's son, who grew hoarse from shouting. "This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors."

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:17 PM | Comments (1)

I Want to Party With These Folks

I'm a sucker for ukulele band covers of anything by Outkast.

h/t Mark Steyn.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

She'll Be Back

Is it just me or does it look like Katie's head has been tastefully and artistically grafted onto the body of a weightlifter?


Image courtesy of (AP Photo/Seth Wenig).

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:18 PM | Comments (1)

Too Clever by Half

Maybe it's just me, but I find the irony liltingly poetic that anytime I see Michael Moore's face these days the word "Sicko" is almost always visible.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

In Case You Were Still Wondering What a Scotsman Wears Under His Kilt

Evidence from the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Thank goodness he's wearing a sizeable red sash.


Image courtesy of the Daily Mail.

This isn't a caption contest, but leave any that your muse inspires in the comments. Here's one to get you started:

"Pamplona doesnae accept this, if you come tae Pamplona, we'll set about yea."

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:23 PM | Comments (1)

En Fuego

About those front row seats you've always wanted ...

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

Who's Your Mommy Now

Drudge reports her Katiness has gone slap happy :

CBS EVENING NEWS anchor Katie Couric is being accused of slapping an editor -- after he injected a word she detested into a script!

"The stress has caused her to blow up at her staff for small infractions on the set," charges NEW YORK magazine reporter Joe Hagan, in a story set for publication on Monday.

"During the tuberculosis story in June, Couric got angry with news editor Jerry Cipriano for using a word she detested— 'sputum' —and the staff grew tense when she began slapping him 'over and over and over again' on the arm, according to a source familiar with the scene. It had seemed like a joke at first, but it quickly became clear that she wasn’t kidding."

Slapping a soldier almost ended General Patton's career. But that was the army. During a war. We hadn't yet won. And now he's a DWEM. This is different, because, well, you tell me why in the comments.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2007

Paranoia Strikes Deep

Into your heart it will creep, it starts when your always afraid...

"Some who don't understand what is now at stake tried to stop this event on the Mall," the former Democratic presidential candidate said in a thinly veiled hit on members of President George W. Bush's Republican party.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2006

No Doubt

What O.J. meant to say was that the title should have been, "If I Didn't Do It, Here's What I Wouldn't Have Done":

O.J. Simpson's ill-fated "If I Did It" book and TV project was not a confession to the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, and that the title wasn't his idea, he said in a radio interview Wednesday.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2006


In fairy tales, a Green Prince is what is otherwise known as a frog:

Prince Charles has told some of his staff to use bicycles in the fight against global warming. He is even prepared to travel to London by commuter train from a station near Highgrove.

Charles wants to be remembered as the "Green Prince" and is making a personal statement by planning a radical shake-up of his travel plans.

Please note that the words "kiss", "Camilla", "sodding", "mouth" and "shut" were not used in any of the above sentences.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)


If only this headline were true:


Posted by Charles Austin at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2006

Least Funny Movie Ever Made

John Podhoretz thinks it is 2001: A Space Odyssey, not that he could be bothered with a hyperlink.

Off the top of my head, here are a few better choices IMHO:
The Killing Fields (Seriously unfunny stuff)
Triumph of the Will (I hate Nazis)
Paths of Glory (A btter Kubrick choice)
Macbeth (The Roman Polanski version)
The Exorcist (Still the scariest movie ever)

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:31 PM | Comments (2)

May 22, 2006

Ooohhh, There's a Shock

Madonna crucifies herself in L.A. tour opener

I'm reminded of Neil's line in The Young Ones about crucifying yourself, "Rick, that's a really horrible way to kill yourself, man...I've tried, there's no way you can hammer in the last nail."

Perhaps she's just fresh out of unicorn blood:

Madonna launched her first world tour in two years on Sunday, delighting an enthusiastic Los Angeles crowd by hanging herself from a cross, insulting President George W. Bush, and dusting off some of the sexy moves that have sustained her career for more than 20 years.

I'm guessing no one outside the choir is going to be impressed by sexy moves with 20 years of dust on them.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)

To Be Honest, There Is Something Wrong With This

There are many years of therapy behind the denial, self-loathing, and martyr complexes evident here:

Jim McGreevey shockingly admits that before he became governor of New Jersey, he'd have anonymous gay sex at Garden State highway rest stops.
"All I knew was that my behavior was getting crazier and crazier," McGreevey says of his torrid truck-stop trysts in an upcoming book that details his tortured life of lies and sexual repression.

"With each new encounter, I was getting nearer and nearer to being caught - which surely would have generated headlines, especially after I became executive director of the state parole board" in the mid-1980s.

Wonder if he ever ran into Fat Vito?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2006


Sharon Declared Permanently Incapacitated

I thought the headline referred to Sharon Stone after Basic Instinct II.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2006

Hairy Potter

Buck up, Chuck:

The Prince of Wales has given an interview to Men's Health magazine in which he laments his public image as the 'Potty Prince'.

Charles also discussed his views on staying fit and also talked about the influence women can have on male well being.

Well being? I've never heard it called that before.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

Unfortunate Coincidence

If Andrew Sullivan met a nice man but learned that his name was Gilbert, what do you think he would do?

Note: Obscene comments and casino spam will be deleted.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2006

Thanks for Not Sharing

You really have to wonder at what goes through the heads of some folks:

Legendary performer LIZA MINNELLI has declared she is through with sex and just wants to find a partner who is kind and has some integrity.

Have you tried Hollywood? Oh, you have. I hear artists are sensitive, how about one of them? Been there, done that, you say. Hmmm... how about a Broadway performer? Oh my. How about the Upper East Side? Be my guest, you say? Well, I am out of suggestions, so best of luck.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2006

Ford Has a Worser Idea

Don't get cocky, geezer:

HARRISON FORD hates the internet, because it means anyone can spread malicious gossip about him.

Yeah, not just anyone should be able to spread malicious gossip -- only trained professionals.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2006

Is It Coincidence that "Sheen, Ha" Is An Anagram of Sheehan?

It boggles the mind that anyone should care what Charlie Sheen thinks, non sequitur though that may be:

Charlie Sheen, following in the footsteps of his politically outspoken father, Martin Sheen, has joined the chorus of conspiracy theorists who don’t believe the official version of events surrounding 9/11.

The estranged husband of Denise Richards, who is better known for his affinity for prostitutes and gambling than his Homeland Security credentials, told the GCN Radio Network he doesn’t buy the government’s explanation that “19 amateurs with box cutters (took) over four commercial airliners and (hit) 75 percent of their targets.”

Jeez, just imagine how much better they could have done if they were professionals!

The “Two and a Half Men” star, who was shooting his former sitcom “Spin City” the morning the World Trade Center towers fell, said he was immediately suspicious about the official reason given for the buildings’ collapse. After watching in horror as the South Tower was hit, he said to his brother, “call me insane, but did it sorta look like those buildings came down in a controlled demolition?”

Ok, you're insane.

The father of two also questioned whether a plane actually hit the Pentagon and how President George Bush was able to see the first plane hit the north tower, when no live footage of that incident was carried.

“I guess one of the perks of being president is that you get access to TV channels that don’t exist in the known universe,” the actor-turned-pseudo-intellect quipped.

“It is up to us to reveal the truth,” Sheen asserted. “We owe it to everybody’s life who was drastically altered, horrifically that day and forever. We owe it to them to uncover what happened.”

And Charlie has plenty of experience under the covers to get to the bottoms of, well, something.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:07 PM | Comments (2)

March 20, 2006

Reading, Writing, and Watching TV

I couldn't care less whether Katie stays or goes, but this caught my eye:

TV shows are delicate enterprises that can fall apart after only the slightest tremor, and "Today" is no exception. Last spring, its ratings suddenly started to plummet, and ABC's "Good Morning America" came within just 45,000 viewers of beating it. NBC said the show had grown sloppy and brought in new management. "Imagine the trouble that Katie leaving could cause," says Bob Thompson, director of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television.

Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television. Keep that in mind next time you read that tuition costs are rising by another 8% next year.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2006

Didn't Ed Meese Get a Lot of Criticism for This Sort of Thing?

Kid Rock Sues to Stop Sale of Sex Video

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2006

Insulted Lutherans Burn Poughkeepsie to the Ground

Sorry, but John Lennon beat you to the punch on this a long time ago:

Cocky rap star KANYE WEST is calling for a revised edition of THE BIBLE, because he thinks he should be a character in it. The JESUS WALKS hitmaker, who picked up three Grammy Awards last night, feels sure he'd be "a griot" (West African storyteller) in a modern Bible.

He says, "I bring up historical subjects in a way that makes kids want to learn about them. I'm an inspirational speaker. I changed the sound of music more than one time... For all those reasons, I'd be a part of the Bible. I'm definitely in the history books already."

Mr. West used the word "I" five times in those forty-eight quoted words. Someone must have stripped all the parts about humility from his version of the Bible.

DOWNDATE: Anyone think this brave poseur would have the courage to call for a new version of the Koran, because, natch, he thinks he should be a character in it? After all, his lyrics fit a 14th century view of women quite well. I'd quote them here but this is nominally a PG blog.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:19 AM | Comments (2)

February 07, 2006

Adventures in Headline Writing

The Paris Marriott could not be reached for comment:

Paris Hilton ordered to stay away from L.A. man

There's gotta be a Jim Morrison line in here somewhere.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Well, You've Always Said You Can't Get No Satisfaction

Rolling Stones say Super Bowl censors "ridiculous"

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2006

Note to Jimmie Johnson

The "I just rolled out of bed with greasy, uncombed messy hair" looks stupid on 18 year-old men, but at least they have the excuse that they are only 18.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:45 PM | Comments (1)

January 14, 2006

Beyond the Palin

To be fair, he didn't become famous on Monty Python's Bicycling Circus:

MICHAEL PALIN is facing moves to oust him as president of a leading environmental group because of his passion for long-distance air travel. The Times has learnt that senior members of Transport 2000, which campaigns for sustainable travel and against growth in flights, believe that Palin sets a poor example.

He has flown more than a quarter of a million miles in the past 17 years while making his six TV series, which began in 1988 with his attempt to retrace the fictional footsteps of Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days. He has travelled across every continent, visited both poles and, most recently, climbed the Himalayas.

On screen he is seen riding dog sleds, camels, elephants and hot-air balloons. But few viewers will have realised how many air miles he clocked up making the programmes. For the Himalayas series alone, Palin made seven return trips between London and Asia. His share of the carbon dioxide emissions of those flights was 24 tonnes, 12 times more than the average car emits in a year.

Palin recently admitted that he had spent the past 17 years “busy polluting this environment on almost every conceiv- able form of carbon-emitting vehicle”. But he also claimed that his adventures reduced overall greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging people to remain on their sofas.

I would say this is classic Left "do as I say, not as I do" behavior (behaviour?), but the UK's NHS is probably going to sue him now for making Brtions fatter.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2005

When Ya Comin' Back, Slim Shady?

See, there is still good news in the world:

EMINEM has bowed out of public life completely — after suddenly cancelling a string of UK dates. He is giving up his solo career to concentrate on being a dad to daughter Hailie, eight.

And he even seems to be doing it for the right reasons.

DOWNDATE: Whoops. I guess his reasons weren't quite so pure after all.

Eminem is undergoing treatment for dependency to sleep medication, his publicist said Thursday, two days after the Grammy-winning rapper canceled his European tour citing exhaustion.

Get well soon.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2005


I'm the only person who found Anchorman remarkably unfunny, turning it off after only twenty minutes.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:49 PM | Comments (1)

Because Nothing Gives You Street Cred Like...

Chillin' at the club with Lee Iacocca.


Fo shizzle.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

So Will This Help Or Hurt Tourism?

Well, it would explain their driving:

The rivers of Italy are flowing with cocaine, say scientists who have adopted a new approach to measuring the extent of drug misuse.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

I Am Offended By the NCAA

The Fighting Illini have played in their last NCAA Tournament:

The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise.

The NCAA's executive committee decided this week the organization did not have the authority to bar Indian mascots by individual schools, committee chairman Walter Harrison said Friday.

Nicknames or mascots deemed "hostile or abusive" would not be allowed by teams on their uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1, said Harrison, the University of Hartford's president.

"What each institution decides to do is really its own business" outside NCAA championship events, he said.

At least 18 schools have mascots the NCAA would deem "hostile or abusive," including Florida State's Seminole and Illinois' Illini.

Of course, the NCAA in it's infinite stupidity once again misses the point. Chief Illiniwek is a respectful symbol, not a mascot. Perhaps they never noticed but Chief Illiniwek only makes one appearance at any event, leading the crowd in the singing of the Alma Mater and then doing a short traditional dance. The Chief does not prowl the sidelines, interact with opponents in any way, or perform any silly antics. I can only assume that anyone who thinks Chief Illiniwek is disrespectful has never actually witnessed him. Either that, or they are so mind-numbingly blinded with their own peculiar hatred that they are unable to distinguish between acts that honor our shared heritage and acts that demean it.

I certainly will not deny that there are some abusive sports nicknames out there, e.g., the Washington Redskins, but jeez, what does the NCAA have against the Irish, since Notre Dame can apparently keep using and hence reinforcing a vicious, mean-spirited stereotype of Hibernians?

This whole things beggars an analogy to the overreach of our federal judiciary today. Asshole activists can't convince the community to do what they want, so instead they manage to convince a small group of oligarchs to impose their will over the idiot proles. As for a replacement name for my beloved Fighting Illini, may I suggest the Illinois Screwed Yet Again by NCAA Prudes as the team name? My, oh my, I look forward to the halftime shows now.

And for old times sake, here's a few pictures of the Chief in action doing the traditional dance at football and basketball games. Here's a place where you can learn more about the positive attributes of Chief Illiniwek from a source with a firmer grip on reality.

chief1.jpg chief2.jpg chief3.jpg chief4.jpg chief5.jpg

Oh, and not that it matters one bit, but I am part Cherokee.

DOWNDATE: If Illinois and Florida State should both qualify for next year's NCAA Tournament, perhaps they could adopt team names of Thing 1 and Thing 2 for the duration. Let's face it, it could only improve Billy Packer's color commentary.

DOUBLE DOWNDATE: And while they are at it, is the NCAA also going to prohibit the use of state names that might just as well be deemed offensive like Illinois, Iowa, and ... gasp ... Indiana from being used? Anyway, we all know Hoosier is a term of endearment here in the Midwest, don't we?

TRIPLE DOWNDATE: And since the NCAA seems so interested in promoting the self esteem of the hypersensitive, may I also suggest that they stop keeping score? I remember the pain and depression that set in after Illinois lost the National Championship game to North Carolina in April vividly. No one should ever have to experience that. I call upon the NCAA to make us all winners, just like their commercials say.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:26 PM | Comments (3)

June 24, 2005

Alvy Sings

La-de-da, la-de-da:

Nothing pleases my ego more, than to be thought of as a European filmmaker.

No doubt Roman Polanski has similar thoughts, what with his oustanding arrest warrant ford rugging and raping a 14-year old girl and all.

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2005


Apparently the AFI (American Film Institute) adopted the FAG (Film Actors Guild) way of deciding on the best 100 film lines ever. Here's a few of the more egregious choices:

31. After all, tomorrow is another day! (How insightful!)
41. We rob banks. (Because, well, because Warren Beatty just hasn't said many memorable lines, I guess.)
46. Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars. (Whoa! I havne't heard that line since, well, never actually.)
48. Well, nobody's perfect. (How original.)
49. It's alive! It's alive! (Hey, I like Young Frankenstein a lot, but this is a great line?)
55. La-dee-da, la-dee-da. (Marshall McLuhan's line must be trapped in an alternate universe somehwere.)
56. A boy's best friend is his mother. (Great concept, weak line.)
62. What a dump. (???)
65. Elementary, my dear Watson. (Because no one knew about Sherlock Homes before 1929.)
69. They're here! (Yes, this one pops up almost one each century in conversation.)
78. Open the pod bay doors, HAL. (Actually, perhaps the least quoted line from 2001: A Space Oddessey.)
81. Hello, gorgeous. (See 41 above, substitute Shelley Winters, I mean, Barbra Streisand.)
82. Toga! Toga! (Seven years of college, wasted.)
86. Attica! Attica! (This is a line?)
88. Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go! (How to minimize Katherine Hepburn without really trying. Remember, this is AFI's list of America's Greatest Quips, Comebacks and Catchphrases. So which is this entry?)
93. Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death! (Raise your hand if you've seen Auntie Mame.)
95. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary. (One can only assume that the selectors were unfamiliar with the Latin phrase Carpe Diem, more famously uttered over 2,000 years ago by Horace.)
98. Nobody puts Baby in a corner. (I still can't understand why this phrase ever shows up on any llist.)
100. I'm king of the world! (Even at 100, one quote from Titanic is still one too many. Now, if only the selectors had seen the 1932 version of Scarface...)

And not a single line by Shakespeare...

Like all such lists, it suffers from an unclear definition of what they are trying to judge, so everybody brings their own criteria to it. There are numerous other bad choices, and some quotes are wildly overated, IMHO. I really don't think Casablanca should have six of the top one-hundred -- even if they left out "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" -- and The Wizard of Oz certainly should not have three -- unless one of them is "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" -- of the top one-hundred. This is tough to judge though, since perhaps Caddyshack, The Princess Bride, Month Python and the Holy Grail, and Animal House all merit their own sections. Fully one-fifth of all the quotes come from movies in 1939. Jeez, I guess most of the good writers must have got killed in WW II.

For the record, here was my Top 21 (with only one per movie and per actor/actress) in response to another silly list last October:

1. "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." - The Godfather (1972)
2. "Plastics." - The Graduate (1967)
3. "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow." - To Have and Have Not (1944)
4. "Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects." - Casablanca (1942)
5. "May the force be with you." - Star Wars (1977)
6. "What we have here is a failure to communicate." - Cool Hand Luke (1967)
7. "You talkin' to me?" - Taxi Driver (1976)
8. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." - Gone with the Wind (1939)
9. "I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids." - Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
10. "I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking, 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, I've forgotten myself in all this excitement. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?" - Dirty Harry (1971)
11. "My precious." - LOTR (2001, 2002, 2003)
12. "Yippie-ky-yay motherf*****r." - Die Hard (1988)
13. "You'll put your eye out." - A Christmas Story (1983)
14. "What is the problem with Michael Jackson?" - Three Kings (1999)
15. "Is it safe?" - The Marathon Man (1976)
16. "As of now, they're on Double SECRET Probation!" - Animal House (1978)
17. "I'll be back." - The Terminator (1984, 1991, 2003)
18. "I'm gonna get medieval on your ass." - Pulp Fiction (1994)
19. "Rommel, you magnificent bastard. I read your book." - Patton (1970)
20. "We're gonna need a bigger boat." - Jaws (1975)
21. "The name's Bond, James Bond." - Dr No (1962), et al.

And for fun, here's a few more off the top of my head (without the one per movie/actor/actress limitation) that I might have included:

"Fa love Pa." -- Day of the Dolphin
"Princeton can use a man like Joel." -- Risky Business
"Who's da U-boat Commander?" -- Risky Business
"Sometimes you gotta say 'what the f*ck'." -- Risky Business
"Bueller. Bueller. Bueller." -- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
"Charlie doesn't surf!" -- Apocalypse Now
"I don't know, I'll think of something." -- Indiana Jones (I, II, and II)
"Nazis. I hate these guys." -- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
"You take the blue pill, the story ends here, you wake up and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill...and I'll show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes." -- The Matrix
"Deserves got nothin' to do with it." -- Unforgiven
"No!" - Silent Movie
"Earn this." -- Saving Private Ryan
"Remember when I said I was going to kill you last? I lied." -- Commando
"Run Forrest, run!" -- Forrest Gump
"Why no Mr. Bond, I expect you to die." -- Goldfinger
"Lighten up Francis." -- Stripes
"Guns, guns, when do we get guns?" -- Police Academy
"Don't call me stupid!" -- A Fish Called Wanda
"We're on a mission from God." -- The Blues Brothers
"How much for the little girl? How much for the women?" -- The Blues Brothers
"It's show time, folks." -- All That Jazz

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:32 PM | Comments (3)

June 14, 2005

The Thriller

I'd crack wise in eight or nine different ways about this story concerning images of the gloved one's magic johnson, but I really don't want to show up on any of the Google queries for enquiring minds later on.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2005

The Western Omelette

One of the apologies offered for some of the most egregious sins of communism is Lenin's aphorism that, "you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette." If that is accepted as a casus genocidi for an, ahem, Eastern Omelette, then what is the rationale for criticizing all the bad things America did to Native Americans to achieve its current greatness. Or is it that our sins were made worse by breaking the eggs of free range chickens instead of already caged chickens?

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:47 PM | Comments (2)

June 02, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

Spoiler Alert. Bypass if you don't want to know a few details...

Daughter #1 and I went to see Revenge of the Sith last night. I wanted to enjoy it. Really, I did. Alas, while I don't want to rain on the parade of enjoyment that so many have, or perhaps more properly, want to have for this film, it is my considered opinion that ROTS is bad. Ishtar bad. Gigli bad. Perhaps the worst film I have seen in ten years. I guess I better explain why.

Oh, the CGI is visually stunning and the rather complex choreography of the battle scenes is intellectually stimulating, but in a way that does nothing but distract from the actual plot -- when you can find a plot. I can appreciate the intellectual and technical achievment of the thousands upon thousands of airships in what appears to be conventional rush hour traffic the first dozen or so times I see it. After that it gets kind of tiresome to have to watch another fifteen second silent interlude that serves no apparent purpose other than to allow the boys at Industrial Light and Magic show us once again just how technically proficient they are with their toys.

About twenty minutes into the movie my suspension of disbelief started to fade and I mentally began to point out the silliness and impossible physics of what I was watching. Fortunately, I was able to suppress that phase rather quickly, as it wasn't much of a challenge, and I returned to trying to enjoy the movie.

John Williams ponderous score adds nothing and seemed annoying to me during the frequent dialogueless interludes.

Many others have already noted the laughable dialogue in the scenes between Anakin and Padme, but it seems to me that the problem is universal. Hmm..., when Mr. Lucas draws callowly transparent analogies to President Bush and the Liberation of Iraq using Senator Palpatine and the suppression of the Separatist Revolt as a threat to the Senate (and House?), the Republic, and (gasp!) democracy, and when he justifies the Jedi Council killing Senator Palpatine for expediency since he cannot be brought to justice through the usual means and he is far too dangerous to be allowed to live, well, what exactly is Mr. Lucas saying here? And I've seen Mr. Lucas encourage these Iraq allusions on the Charlie Rose show, so I'm not making this up out of a hypersensitivity to illiberal silliness. Moving on...

For a "chosen one", Anakin Skywalker is remarkably dense. If none of the Jedi Masters could sense this, shouldn't Obi Wan have figured it out after spending years with him? Trusting your fate to the hands of someone with the intellectual, emotional, and political sophistication of a 13-year old, no matter how strong the force is in him, would seem to be counterintuitive for those so saturated with midichlorians. FWIW, I found Anakin's conversion entirely unconvincing and his flippantly casual willingness to believe the ends justify the means when it comes to working for the dark side somewhat incongruent, especially since he claimed to find that concept so repulsive when he imagined it practiced by the Jedi.

Too bad General Grievous didn't have that Jedi mind trick in his younger days to shoo away the sleazy death stick vendors. If he had had it, then perhaps we could have been spared a commanding robot with a hacking cough. GG's demise reminded me of the rather anticlimactic ending to Ralph Bakshi's Wizards. There is very little new under the multiple suns.

And can we please dispense with the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon/Matrix/Charlie's Angels fight choreography? That the force can allow one to do superhuman (or super-other species) feats is taken as a given, but why do four forward flips when, say, one would probably suffice?

Finally, what I believe to be the most damaging indictment of ROTS is to imagine this movie with this script made in 1977 when the orginal Star Wars movie was released. Without the CGI, how many thumbs up do you think it might have got? Would you have been anxiously awaiting the sequels?

I've written before that Mr. Lucas' biggest mistake was doing 1, 2 and 3, instead of 7, 8 and 9. The necessity of living within the constraints of a storyline that dictated a certain ending was more than Mr. Lucas could adequately cope with. He is in some ways a victim of the impossible expectations raised by his earlier success. Nevertheless, George Lucas will be fondly remembered and feted for bringing us his tales of a galaxy far, far away for a long, long time. The rather sad second (or first, if you prefer) trilogy tarnishes his star just a little, as the first (or second, if you prefer) trilogy was so very, very good. Mr. Lucas appears to be a spent force creatively, albeit an incredibly wealthy spent force.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:00 PM | Comments (6)

May 16, 2005


Offered without further comment:

Language, history, cooking and support for rival football teams still divide Europe. But when everything else fails, one glue binds the continent together: hatred of the French.

Typically, the French refuse to accept what arrogant, overbearing monsters they are.

But now after the publication of a survey of their neighbours' opinions of them at least they no longer have any excuse for not knowing how unpopular they are.

Why the French are the worst company on the planet, a wry take on France by two of its citizens, dredges up all the usual evidence against them. They are crazy drivers, strangers to customer service, obsessed by sex and food and devoid of a sense of humour.

But it doesn't stop there, boasting a breakdown, nation by nation, of what in the French irritates them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Britons described them as "chauvinists, stubborn, nannied and humourless". However, the French may be more shocked by the views of other nations.

For the Germans, the French are "pretentious, offhand and frivolous". The Dutch describe them as "agitated, talkative and shallow." The Spanish see them as "cold, distant, vain and impolite" and the Portuguese as "preaching". In Italy they comes across as "snobs, arrogant, flesh-loving, righteous and self-obsessed" and the Greeks find them "not very with it, egocentric bons vivants".

Interestingly, the Swedes consider them "disobedient, immoral, disorganised, neo-colonialist and dirty".

But the knockout punch to French pride came in the way the poll was conducted. People were not asked what they hated in the French, just what they thought of them.

"Interviewees were simply asked an open question - what five adjectives sum up the French," said Olivier Clodong, one of the study's two authors and a professor of social and political communication at the Ecole Superieur de Commerce, in Paris. "The answers were overwhelmingly negative."

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:18 PM | Comments (3)

May 09, 2005

They're Comin' Right For Us

Warren Bell asks a stupid question:

If Crunchy Cons fought South Park Cons, who would win?

My money's not on the Scuzzlebutts.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2005

Kinda Fonda Fonda

Because, you know, this sort of thing went over so well in the worker's paradise:

Jane Fonda, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of a prostitute in the 1971 film "Klute," solicited call girls for three-way sex with her husband Roger Vadim, the actress revealed in a television interview.

(The title is an homage to Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks.)

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:12 AM | Comments (0)

I Sing This Song Because I Love the Man

I know that some of you don't understand:

Neil Young was treated for a brain aneurysm this week and remains hospitalized, although doctors expect a full recovery, his publicist said Friday.

Get well soon Neil.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:00 AM | Comments (2)

April 01, 2005

He's a Good Man, But I Can't Resist


The morning was cold and lonely
City lights old and grey
The sun arose trying to smile
Gave it all away
The honky-tonk called a stranger
The stranger couldn't pay the bill
Made a stand, raised his hand
Sang a song, no time to kill

I said, Hey, hey, hey, St. Peter
I've got a tale to tell
I've just been down in New York town
It really feels like hell
It really feels like hell

Billy was out of fashion
Manhattan was years ago
Yesterday he wasted time
Money was kind of slow
Billy had friends of glory
Billy was a friend of fame
Took a chance, raised his hand
Sang a song, now he's back in the game

Hey, St. Peter
Before you ring your bell
Just been down in New York town
Done my time in hell
Done my time in hell

I said, Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, St. Peter
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, St. Peter
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, St. Peter
It really feels like hell
It really feels like hell
It really feels like hell

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2005

I'm Sick, I'm Sick, You Know It

Really now, you need a judge to tell you that Michael Jackson is really sick?

Michael Jackson returned to court Tuesday after a week's delay and the judge assured prospective jurors that the singer really had been ill and there was no plot to put off his child molestation trial.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)

This Is Major Tom to Ground Control...

I'm stepping through the door, and I'm floating in a most peculiar way...

In the upcoming Steven Spielberg remake of War of the Worlds, one family fights for survival when Earth is invaded by Martian war machines. But on the set of the movie, there’s been an invasion of another sort: Scientologists! Tom Cruise, the film’s star and the religion’s most well-known adherent, has set up a Scientology tent with a volunteer minister. “It’s a gift from Tom to the crew,” says Lee Anne De Vette, Cruise’s sister and spokeswoman. “You can receive what’s called an assist there,” a Scientologist practice that, as she describes it, seems to be a glorified mini-massage. “If someone has an injury in a certain part of their body, if their back is killing them, they can come in and get an assist. It’s something that helps the body get in better communication with itself.” Actual Scientology literature is available, too, in case “someone walks in looking for a solution.”

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:41 PM | Comments (2)

December 22, 2004

"Father Christmas, Give Us Some Money"

The Kinks covered this years ago:

A group of French teenagers have mugged Father Christmas, attempting to steal his sack of presents. The man dressed as Santa Claus was handing out sweets in the southern town of Ales when things turned nasty. One of the teenagers demanded extra sweets and, when the red-cloaked Santa refused, he and his friends started kicking and pummelling the man.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)


Streisand Comfortable in 'Fockers' Role

Mindless, obnoxious, rude, ill-informed, but rather vocal nonetheless.

Who knew?

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2004


From the Latin plusquamperfectus, literally, more than perfect.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2004

Duke Blue Devils Rejoice

I always knew that Duke got special treatment, but this is ridiculous:

Pope John Paul on Friday said Sunday should be a day for God, not for secular diversions like entertainment and sports.

I guess Xavier doesn't stand a chance now, as if they did before.

Oh, and I love to be pedantic so shouldn't that be John Paul II?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:41 AM | Comments (3)

March 26, 2004

At the Movies, Or Which Has a Higher Fat Content, Roger Ebert's Head or Roger Ebert's Torso?

Roger Ebert reviews Goodbye, Lenin!:

"Goodbye, Lenin!" is a movie that must have resonated loudly in Germany when it was released; it is no doubt filled with references and in-jokes we do not quite understand. But the central idea travels well: Imagine an American Rip Van Winkle who is told that President Gore has led a United Nations coalition in liberating Afghanistan while cutting taxes for working people, attacking polluters and forcing the drug companies to cut their bloated profits. Sorry, something came over me for a second ...

Just for a second. Uh huh.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:56 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2004

Maybe the Critics Have a Point


A local woman with psychological problems purposely drove her car into the water at A.W. Stanley Quarter Park in an attempt to re-enact a scene from the blockbuster film, "The Passion of the Christ," police said.

There are cars in The Passion of the Christ?

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:58 PM | Comments (1)

February 29, 2004


Updated throughout the night...

Billy Crystal is talented and clever, nice intro. He left one analogy off his list of things that haven't changed in 13 years -- the same lies about the economy being in the tank are still being told.

Maybe they could have saved a lot of time if each presenter didn't have to walk 30 yards to get to the podium.

Can't Peter Jackson afford to get a shirt with a large enough collar?

I've got three teenage girls in the house who shriek every time anything to do with Lord of the Rings pops up. Or Johnny Depp.

My daughter and her friends are making a lot of rude comments about Bill Murray looking really old. I reminded her that she's going to want a car in about 2 years, so stifle it.

Diane Keaton resurrects the Annie Hall look. Ewwww.

I put the over/under on wisecracks about Democratic candidates for president at 2. I've already lost count of the Bush wisecracks.

I'll give Tim Robbins credit for restraining himself. He's awfully big for a hobbit though. I mean, isn't LOTR supposed to win everything?

The Clinton "Kill Bill" crack doesn't count since neither Bill nor Hillary is running -- as far as I know.

Bridget Jones wins! Well, to be fair, it's tough to imagine any women winning much for LOTR.

Rodya is blogging live. He's much wittier than I. Go there. Unless you like reading things top to bottom instead of upside down.

Goodbye Mr. Hope.

Sometimes I wish Ben Stiller and Owen whatshisname were funny.

I'm kind of only watching with one eye, but has anybody not present with a film that won't be up for an award until next year ever been mentioned as often as Mel Gibson has been so far? Oh yeah, Mel's made a huge mistake.

There's your first cue that the orchestra will start to drown you out if you take too long. I know it's only 6:30 PM on the West Coast, but the East Coast doesn't want this thing dragging on until 1:00 Am any more.

I miss Wallace and Gromit.

The girsl ewwwwed Liv Tyler.

First song... sorry, but I've never really cared for Sting all that much. I do like Allison Krause though. Too bad they couldn't have got Mark Knopfler to sing the lead with Sting backing him up again.

Another song... Allison Krause, Elvis Costello, and T-Bone Burnett. Cool. The King is dead. Long live the King.

Third song... I'll bet this one wins the Oscar, because of nostalgia for Annie Lennox as much as anything else. And, of course, it's from LOTR. Too bad it's so dark behind her. I'd like to see Dave Stewart's hair color.

Thanks for the nipple broach mention. Again. And the Pussy Galore joke. The kids love it. Who needs a 5 second delay? It's family entertainment!

Special effects... like, there was a contest?

Jim Carrey is bald. So much for having the power of God. Oh, it's a tribute to Blake Edwards. Watching the clips I'm surprised how long it's been since he'd done anything good. Looks like all the good jokes were used up in the intro. Hey! Jim touched his Oscar.

Makeup... pshaw, there was a contest?

Hmmm, when's the last time an actor thanked Jesus for winning? Or is that just an athletic thing? Hey, I'm just asking. Think anybody will thank Mel tonight?

Sound, um, there was a contest?

Sound editing, what? LOTR's wasn't nominated? Oh, that's why they didn't win.

Speaking of Bill Murray, anybody see the American Express "Caddyshack" commercial with someone besides Bill Murray playing Carl?

Goodbye Ms. Hepburn. Style, wit, and grace. Now we have Julia Roberts.

Ha ha. No one laughed at the joke that said a 4-year old could do their job.

I realize I may be barking at the moon here, but am I alone in not finding Julia Roberts (or Sarah Jessica Parker, for that matter) beautiful? Apparently not, Rodya thinks so too -- at least with respect to Julia Roberts.

Oprah's a hell of a woman. I don't much care for any of her products, but she's been phenomenally successful.

Clip form Mystic River -- looks like type casting for poor Sean Penn again.

Hey, what if John Cusack and Joan Cusack introduced an award, and joked that they were going to get married in San Francisco like Billy and Robin did? How do you think the audience would react? What? There are limits?

Documentary award: The Fog of War and The Weather Underground get the biggets applause. Jeez, these people are so sadly predictable. Oh, yeah, guess who won? Get off the stage, asshole. I guess Billy approves. Sorry Billy, that was the Clinton Adminstration that used the IRS to go after people they didn't like.

Goodbye Mr. Peck.

Didn't we lose Art Carney this year too? Yep. Charles Bronson deserved better. So did Elia Kazan, too bad he named names, huh? Well, he gets to share billing for eternity now with Leni Riefenstahl. And Jack Elam. John Ritter gets the most applause? Well, goodbye to you all.

Hey, they just played the Caddyshack ripoff commercial.

Phil Collins is going to sing? The Oscars have officially jumped the shark. Whew, they are just introducing the award for soundtrack. You know, they are going to have to give something to Finding Nemo to piss off Disney at some point. But not this time, since LOTR continues to win everything it competes in.

Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore are up now. Sean Connery is probably sitting in the audience thinking, "I could kick his ass." Hey, LOTR wins again. What a surprise.

I'm waiting for someone to thank his favorite sheep.

Wow, Jamie Lee Curtis looks a lot like Tony Curtis. Weird. Hey I didn't realize American Pie had a musical munber.

And now we have what sounds like a Django Reinhardt ripoff.

Wait until John Kerry finds out that The Fog of War won!

Did Jack Black pick up Will Farrell to reconstitute Tenacious D? Has anyone seen Jack Black and Curtis Anderson together at the same time?

Ha! I knew it. Sweet dreams are made of this.

Yea, but isn't it weird that LOTR is winning everything this year after not winning a whole lot the last couple of years, outside of a few technical categories?

Charlize ... "What's the frequency Kenneth?" ... Theron gives an award to films that no one has seen. They couldn't even get people to download these illegally. Blame Canada!

Jude Law looks almost lifelike, kinda like some Spielberg robot or something.

Maybe FFC should have advised Sofia not to make a Lost in Translation 3 should she get the chance. Oh hey, look LOTR wins again. Where are they going to find all the steel to build all the vaults to hold all the money Peter Jackson is going to have before this is all over?

Where's Smeagol?

It's the Tim and Susan show! Does Susan have two of those nipple broaches to hold her dress on?

Sofia can write and direct a whole lot better than she can act.

Time to pick up the pace, I want to go to bed.

Allstate runs a commercial that starts off with, "Sombody once said everyone will get 15 minutes in the spotlight." It was Andy Warhol. You know it, I know it, even the rubes your trying to reach out in flyover country know it. So why try to hide from it?

I do like the Jack in the Box commercials.

"Princeton can use a man like Joel."

Jeez, Peter's tie is as bad as his shirt. He did deserve the award though. I'm worried about his health, what with his huffing and puffing after going up about 6 stairs.

It's going to be the Whale Rider girl, since Adrien Brody was the youngest man to win an Oscar last year and she'll be the youngest woman this year. I haven't seen any of the movies, so that's my guess. Then again, she's up against drug users and prostitutes, so who knows. Oh well, Hollywood has a soft spot for drug users, murderers, and actors and actresses that put a lot of weight on for a role -- DeNiro, Zellwegger, and now Theron.

Johnny Depp is studied insouciance incarnate.

Just curious, have you read the previous post?

They should have got Jon Lovitz to do the Diet Pepsi "Acting!" commercial.

Wow, they've managed to make Nicole Kidman unattractive.

Sean Penn wins for playing an angry man. Amazing, they really reached for that one. Maybe we'll get the Iraq lecture now.

Yep. Maybe the president can offer movie criticism next year in the State of the Union address.

Bill Murray just saw his one chance to get a Best Actor Oscar go by the window. Even Billy Crystal picked up on it.

Well, good. LOTR deserved it.

Good night.

(Oh, Billy just made Michele's night.)

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:10 PM | Comments (9)

February 28, 2004

The Passion of the Reviewers

My friend Jon recently asked if I was going to see The Passion of the Christ. Honestly, I don't know. Not because of any pro or con attitude, but merely because I don't get out to see a lot of movies. Last year, the only two movies I saw in a theater were Finding Nemo and The Return of the King. If the opportunity presents itself, I probably will go see it however. But that's not really what this post is all about.

Reading all the reviews and different writer's perceptions about the film has been interesting. Since I haven't seen it yet, my observations are more like an interpretation of the shadows on the wall of Plato's cave. Nonetheless, I hope they may be illuminating. Thus far, there are five primary objections to the movie, in increasing order of seriousness -- too violent, historically inaccurate, emphasizes the wrong message, he's just in it for the money, anti-semitic -- and two primary endorsements -- achievement as art, emotionally powerful retelling of a well-known story. I will try and treat each of these in order.

Clearly, the movie is violent. But complaints about the violence seem somewhat misguided to me. What I believe is really offending or disturbing most people isn't the violence but the suffering. Rather than shoot for easy targets such as Kill Bill: Vol. 1 for the sake of comparison, I don't think it is difficult to make the argument that The Return of the King has as much, if not more violence than The Passion of the Christ. But what The Return of the King lacks are displays of pain and suffering, especially extended "real" instances of blood and guts suffering endured by either the good guys or the bad guys. Certainly, many more blows were struck and many more people and other critters perished, but all the deaths are relatively quick and lack gore or empathetic sufffering. The longest scene of suffering that leads to death I can remember off the top of my head is King Theoden's, and that lasts under a minute. I suppose an argument could be made for Gollum suffering the most and the longest, but that's something of a digression from the point I am trying to make. Overall, it seems eerily reminscent of the aphorism attributed to Stalin, "The death of one man is a tragedy; The death of a million is a statistic." by distributing all the mayhem to so many, it just isn't noticed, or at least felt somuch. But in the case of The Passion of the Christ, the suffering is relentless and, more importantly, it is concentrated on someone with whom many in the audience are automatically and deeply empathetic. The pain and discomfort those in the audience feel is real, but, as others have noted, how they deal with it and how they interpret what they feel depends greatly on the assumptions they held before they entered the theater.

The charge that the film is historically inaccurate seem almost laughable to me. Oh, I have no doubt that this isn't exactly how it happened, but how can it be? Compare more recent attempts at "historical" films like The Reagans or JFK to see how very, very hard it is to reach any consensus on what really happened and why. And we know a whole lot more about the Reagans and the assasination of JFK than we can ever know about Jesus Christ. And I have little doubt that scholars can nitpick aspects of the use of language or customs of the time, but given the incredible artistic and commercial risks associated with using ancient languages, I think you have to be far and offer a little leeway here. It's a film, and lots and lots of editorial decision have to be made about what to include and how to convey information for non-scolars as well as scholars. I am quite certain that The Passion of the Christ is substantially more historically accurate than Braveheart which far too many people seem to accept as historical. I'm not trying to excuse any historical accuracies, but I will note that scholarship is itself always evolving, so the question of how to interpret certain events is necessarily more subjective than is frequently allowed for.

But the complaints about historical accuracy pale in comparison to the silliness of complaints that the film should spend more time emphasizing Jesus' message of love and peace. It's Mel Gibson's film about the Passion of the Christ. It's not Mel Gibson's film about the life of the Christ. If you want to remake The Greatest Story Ever Told, well, have at it. Who knows, maybe Mel will do that next, but criticizing him because he didn't make the movie you would want him to make is the height of presumption in my book.

The charge that Mel Gibson is only doing it for the money, the most noted indirect allusion of this kind was perhaps made by Andy Rooney, is pretty damn repulsive on its face, as well as ludicrous. To make a charge like this is to say that Mel Gibson is exploiting his belief for cash. That's a very strong statement and one that is not justifiable in my mind. If there was any truth to this at all, does anyone really think it wouldn't have been filmed in English? The impression I've had all along was that Mel Gibson -- and everyone else -- expected this to be a financial loser, and that Mel Gibson's sole motivation for this was as an expression of his beliefs, which his vast fortune allowed him to indulge. And I wonder, would this charge be made if Mel Gibson was a Jew?

Which brings us to the charge of anti-semitism. There is no question that parts of this story have been used to condemn and persecute Jews throughout the history of Christianity. That history demands that we be sensitive to the concerns of those who have found themselves on the receiving end of so much unjustified grief and agony. But I believe it is asking a bit much of Mel Gibson, and Christians in general, to ask that they expunge the offending elements from any telling of the stories in the Bible because they have been misused in the past, and no doubt, will continue to be misused in the future to justify heinous acts. The problem is with those who look for and find rationales to justify their rasicm. Frankly, if it wasn't this, they would find something else because the racism is what drives them to look for rationales, not the other way around. The fact that there is some overlap between what Mel Gibson has said and what some racists believe does not in and of itself make Mel Gibson an anti-semite, nor does it make The Passion of the Christ anti-semitic. As I have noted before, I've heard that David Duke likes vanilla ice cream, but that doesn't make everyone who likes vanilla ice cream a racist. Blaming Mel Gibson and The Passion of the Christ for the acts of anti-semites is somewhat akin to blaming the Wachowski brothers for the Columbine massacre. I cannot do that.

Incidentally, I'm not saying that Mel Gibson isn't an anti-semite. I really have no idea whether he is a closet anti-semite or not, but I haven't heard him say anything to lead me to believe that he is. Since I haven't seen the movie, I can't say whether it is anti-semitic or not, but I'm guessing that if I do see it I probably would not pick up on the details that are leading some to call it anti-semitic. If you are looking for anti-semitism I have little doubt that there is some ripe fruit there for the picking, but that doesn't mean Mel is trying to be anti-semitic. Mel Gibson has said repeatedly that the message of The Passion of the Christ is not that the Jews killed the Christ but that we all did in the sense that the Christ died for our sins. Of course, Mel's dad does seem to be a bit of a nutter, and whether Mel is really an anti-semite or not I'm not surprised that he refuses to denounce his father. I guess that what I'm trying to say is that I will keep my mind open for factual evidence that Mel Gibson is an anti-semite or that The Passion of the Christ is anti-semitic, but thus far I have not been convinced of either.

As to the good points, since I haven't seen it it will be tough for me to say much about it as a work of art, but I will take the word of many who think it is powerful and very well done. Many of the criticisms I have read are in fact strong endorsements of the film as an artistic acheivement. It is only because it is so well done that it has inspired strong opinions and fears that it may be used to incite anti-semitism. I am very impressed by the decision to use the ancient languages. That is a real bold risk that seems to have paid off. I wonder if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will nominate it next year for best foreign language film. I really look forward with some sense of schadenfreude to how the Academy deals with this film next year.

As to the emotional impact this film has had, there is no shortage of evidence to suggest that this film has inspired stronger feelings from more people than any film I can remember. On this level, The Passion of the Christ has to be considered a major success. It has got people talking, thinking, rejoicing, complaining, yelling, condemning, and pontificating like no movie I can remember. I certainly remain sensitive to the concerns expressed by those worried about the film sparking a resurgence of anti-semitism, but I am just as sensitive to the casual dismissal of the positive feelings so many Christians have expressed after seeing this film for what seems to be no reason other than that they are, well, Christians. Many Christians are having phenomenal reactions to this film and that has to be taken into account when judging the film's success, intent and impact.

I hope I do get to see it. I promise a shorter review than this pre-review. Here are some links and links to links to different perspectives that I found informative and useful:

Rev. Donald Sensing
Judith Weiss
Roger Ebert
Andrew Sullivan
Kevin Murphy

Unfortunately, it has become difficult to talk about this is some circles. The charge of anti-semitism is a killer from the word go, as is the charge of facism (facism!) by Christopher Hitchens. Personally, I find it strangely worrisome, but also curiously enlightening, that so many of us who share virtually identical feelings about the War on Terrorism still see so many other aspects of the world around us so differently.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:51 PM | Comments (3)

February 19, 2004

It's Only A Movie

I find it curiously amusing that so many people are worked up about the "historical accuracy" of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, especially considering how casually "historical accuracy" was tossed aside in Mr. Gibson's Braveheart and The Patriot for dramatic effect. And don't even get me started on Oliver Stone.

Posted by Charles Austin at 04:52 PM | Comments (5)

DNC's Playhouse

Hi, I'm Kerry the Panderer and I will grant you one wish. But one per day! Think of it real quick, drop your cash into the campaign bucket, and then repeat after me:

Mekka Lekka Hi Mekka Hiney Ho!
Mekka Lekka Hi Mekka Hiney Ho!
Mekka Lekka Hi Mekka Hiney Ho!
Mekka Lekka Hi Mekka Hiney Ho!


(Ed: If this doesn't work for you, then try Jambi instead.)

Posted by Charles Austin at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2004

A Question (Well, Several Actually)

Are men and women different? I mean, really fundamentally different? If so, does that form a basis for defining marriage to be something that unites these two inherently different aspects of humankind in a way that is fundamentally different than uniting two men or two women?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:32 PM | Comments (6)

February 12, 2004

A Modest Proposal

Before anybody else in Big Media writes anything else about John Kerry's medals or George Bush's National Guard Service record, or John Kerry's rumored dalliance with an intern, or Dick Cheney and Halliburton, they must first explain why it is relevant to whether or not they should be elected or reelected. I'm not saying that any of these things aren't relevant, but I cannot exactly figure out why, even if some of them are true, they matter one whit beyond being able to say "See, see!".

Jeez, can't we talk about something important? I'll make exceptions for clever, witty, or funny remarks, but the folks who take this seriously need to get a life.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:26 PM | Comments (6)

Drugs Are Bad, So Don't Do Drugs, 'Cause Drugs Are Bad

Why is John Ashcroft announcing a drug bust for steroids that results in the arrest of four men? Is it possible that this is why steroids made its way into the SOTU address? Kind of cheesy and amateurish if you ask me. I may have to go back and reread the SOTU address to see what other things might be popping up in the headlines soon.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:32 PM | Comments (1)

February 10, 2004

This Is My First, and Hopefully My Last, Post on Scott Peterson

Can we get Mark Geragos disbarred for sheer stupidity?

Defense lawyer Mark Geragos may have a tough time Wednesday convincing a judge in the Scott Peterson double-murder case that Global Positioning System technology is inaccurate and unreliable.

The decades-old technology developed for the military is now used by everyone from airline pilots to wildlife management officials and weekend hikers to Sunday drivers. The latest devices can pinpoint a person's location within a few feet, using signals bounced off satellites.

Geragos said his client was followed -- electronically -- by GPS tracking devices installed in vehicles he owned, borrowed and rented after his wife disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002. He wants all the GPS tracking evidence excluded from the trial.

"The GPS technology has not been generally accepted by the scientific community," Geragos said in court papers filed in October. "GPS has inherent inaccuracies. ... Furthermore, there is no case law establishing that GPS technology has gained general acceptance."

He may be right that there isn't any case law concerning the technology, I have no idea. But if that argument flies, I guess we'll never have any case law since every other lawyer can use that same argument forever to prevent any case law from being established. But if the judge needs any evidence concerning the reliability and accuracy of GPS, may I suggest that he check out Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk which manages to take off, fly its mission which requires it to know with great precision exactly where it is, and land without benefit of a pilot.

Somehow, I think the technology can be scaled down to tracking slower moving cars and people without too much trouble.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:15 PM | Comments (3)

Vive Le Difference!

What the **** is wrong with French people?

A 35-year-old Frenchwoman became both bride and widow when she married her dead boyfriend, in an exchange of vows that required authorisation from the French president.

I kind of assumed that he must have have just passed away and that there was some really good reason for following through, but no:

The deceased groom, a former policeman identified as Eric, was not present at the ceremony. He was killed by a drunk driver in September 2002.

Well, I would think the word former would be redundant, but hey who knows? But lest you think this is some unusual request that Jacque Chirac granted as a one-off:

According to French law, a marriage between a living person and a dead person can take place as long as preliminary civic formalities have been completed that show the couple had planned to marry. Before the ceremony can take place, it must be approved by the French president.

I've heard of gibbeting the dead, but forcing the deceased to marry seems a bit much. Anway, I wish her wedded bliss with their unholy necrimony. Oh jeez, now somebody's going to want gay necrimony.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:12 PM | Comments (1)

February 03, 2004

Stargazy Pie

Piling on... you gotta believe that Madonna is kicking herself for just not going farther at the MTV Video Awards with Britney and Christina. But Justin's hip hop, over the top attempt to bust a move on Janet's bust has to be seen as a bust given all the backpedalling by everyone involved to cover their butts when all they really had to do was cover her bust. Perhaps the glam slam of Jan's mammary was too low to go, especially in slo-mo on Tivo. Hmmm..., I wonder how their passion played in Peoria? Or Oberammergau for that matter -- this is the most watched TV event in the world every year, after all, except perhaps every fourth year when the World Cup Final is on. The race is now on for who will be forever remembered for displaying his or her genitalia first on national TV -- accidentally, of course. As Barney Fife used to say, you'd better nip it in the bud. Wise, or not so wise it may have been, or not been, for these soon to be has-beens. You know, if they had played the Super Bowl in the Astrodome, perhaps it wouldn't have been so nippy.

And now I must apologize for dragging Cornwall into this. But should you get the opportunity, I can highly recommend Cornwall, and especially Mousehole (pronounced Mowzul), where stargazy pie, immortalized in The Mousehole Cat, can still be found.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:47 AM | Comments (2)

February 02, 2004

Star Gazing With Jack Horkheimer

I missed the big event yesterday. Oh, I saw most of the game, but I missed the halftime show. I cannot prove it, but I wondered after seeing a promo in the airport for the game early yesterday if this was the year that they would finally expose a breast for the sheer shock effect. After all, the pop culture sled that's slouching towards Gommorah must have a couple of those AOL 9.0 boxes tied to it. I do have a couple of questions and thoughts though:

Has that star thing shown up on E-bay yet? If not, when?

I've heard that those things can poke your eye out if you aren't careful, but I always thought it was a bad joke. I wonder if Janet has one on the other side as well. Imagine how embarrassing it would have been if Justin had exposed the wrong breast!

Is it just me, or does anyone else think there's a face in the middle of the star?

Was JJ singing her big hit Nasty Boys? You know, "My name's Janet, Miss Jackson if you're nasty..." And we all thought athletes were the ones who refused to retire gracefully.

Was this a crude attempt to make jury selection for Janet's brothers's child molestation trial that much more difficult?

Which was more stupid from young Justin, doing it, or saying afterwards that he didn't intend to do it? Or does Janet wear one (two?) of those things all the time? Ewwww....

Who was more deceitful, CBS for planning the whole damn thing, or the NFL for being shocked, I say, shocked by it? Here's an idea, get rid of the overproduced halftime show and put on the bands from a couple of small black colleges. That would be a hell of lot more entertaining.

The Super Bowl must be the only sporting event that people will purposefully go to the bathroom while the game is on so as not to miss the commercials. No wonder the networks drool over it so much.

Oh, and I am sorry for dragging Jack into this mess. I don't know why I did that.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2004

Art and "Art"

As a younger man, I used to care a lot about the distinction between art and craft. Based upon what I was taught I imagined that craftsmen had superb, finely honed skills, but lacked the imagination or intellectual underpinnings to turn their craft into art. This, of course, implies that all artists must be excellent craftsmen as well.

Somewhere along the line, I had a falling out with the art, and the artists, of the 20th century that continues to this day. I think it has to do with the fact that most artists no longer seem to have mastered any craft that I can discern. The emphasis has shifted entirely to what the artists, and the art critics, consider conceptual and intellectual, whereas the aesthetic appreciation of the craft of making fine art has been lost. Art become "art." I am speaking primarily of visual arts such as painting and sculpting, though I think the disease has spread into music and literature as well.

I suppose I could insert vast hordes of examples here to illustrate, but what's the point. You either understand and sympathize with this thesis by now, or you think that I just don't know what I'm talking about. When you enter a major museum, do you linger in the pre-20th century galleries or head straight for the "art" devoid of any intrinsic meaning other than what you bring to it. Art, for me, got sick in the late 19th century, suffered through a long illness, and finally died somewhere in the mid-20th century. I anxiously await its resurrection to restore my faith in art and rescue it from the seventh circle of Hell where it lies today, since art's death was essentially a suicide by those who lived as part of it.

I've been thinking about this for a long time, but what finally got me to post about it was this story about the vandalism of, using ironic quotes where they are entirely appropriate, "art."

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:23 AM | Comments (11)

December 23, 2003

I'm So Lucky

I just discovered that Johnie Cochran is a new tenant in my building. I understand that Mr. Cochran has sworn off criminal law and is now pursuing ambulances in nine states and the District of Columbia. Well, I have read that the district courts of St. Louis are one of the most popular venues for filing personal injury lawsuits since "sympathetic" juries are virtually guaranteed for personal injury plaintiffs.

Ok Spoons, Professor Reynolds, Dodd, etc..., how does the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct address the practice of jury shopping and systematic abuse of the law of torts? Are ethics only about process, or is there some fundamental ideal of justice behind them? Sorry to be snarky, but as a layman, I don't understand why your profession allows this to go on.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:34 PM | Comments (2)

December 17, 2003

The Wright Stuff

Every once in a while, someone wonders whether, despite all the technological advances made in materials, computer technology, and process, we can replicate the feat achieved in nine short years with 1960's technology of sending a man to the moon again. The answer is apparently no.

One-hundred years after the Wright brothers' first flight, an attempt to re-create the moment failed Wednesday when a replica craft couldn't get off the ground and sputtered into the mud.

There were giants in the Earth in those days...

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2003

Off Topic

If someone should ever decide to do a movie on Laurel and Hardy, Hugh Grant should play Stan Laurel. I saw him from afar on a television without sound today (I work next to an NBC affiliate) and he has the expressions down pat, as well as the long face and tall slender build. I feel certain from his past work he could pull off the comedy without a hitch.

As to who should be Oliver Hardy, that's a tougher one for me. But maybe a good candidate to play the rotund half of this duo could be Michael Moore. Of course, he'd have to shave, bathe, learn to act rationally, and lose a little weight first. Hmmm, maybe Oliver Platt would be a better choice. At least he might be used to being called "Ollie."

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2003

Civics for Utopians

If you have children, please get involved with their schools. Fighting the rot is a daily battle. Take this little item, for instance:

Every time he speaks at a school, Colman McCarthy pulls out a $100 bill and gives students a pop quiz. He offers to give the money to any student who can correctly identify the following six American heroes:

Robert E. Lee, U.S. Grant, Paul Revere, Jeannette Rankin, Dorothy Day and Emily Balch.

Wait a second. I know most of these people and I don't regard them all as heroes. But let's see what Mr. McCarthy has in mind.

McCarthy, a retired Washington Post columnist, has spoken to more than 5,000 high school and college students during the past 20 years. He still has the $100 bill.

So, he's spoken to 250 people a year. Is this supposed to impress me?

"Audiences know the peacebreakers, but not the peacemakers," wrote McCarthy, founder of the Center for Teaching Peace.

Well now, that's something of a contentious point. So, fighting back makes you a peacebreaker? I'm quite certain that U.S. Grant and his side did not initiate the hostilities in the US Civil War. And it was U.S. Grant that did a lot to finally bring an end to the bloodletting and bring about a peace, however imperfect. I always love when the purveyors of peace are able to shed all historical context in favor of their manichean view of peace and non-peace. Perhaps slavery was preferable to non-peace, if I am reading Mr. McCarthy correctly. As far as the American Revolution goes, I doubt that Mr. McCarthy has a clue.

McCarthy's point is that our schools teach our kids plenty about war heroes such as Lee, Grant and Revere, but little to nothing about peace heroes such as Rankin, Day and Balch.

Peace heroes. Aren't they on right after Captain Planet?

"I can report that the young are hungry to learn alternatives to violence," McCarthy wrote.

Right along with their alternatives to freedom.

Some of that hunger will be evident this weekend during PeaceJam Slam at Rhodes College. About 300 high school students from three states will attend to prepare for February's PeaceJam 2004, co-sponsored by BRIDGES INC.

PeaceJam Slam. That sounds kinda, well, violent, doesn't it?

February's visiting professor will be Rigoberta Menchu Tum, the Guatemalan human rights activist.

Another 300 minds of mush are going to learn that truth is a construct of imperialist oppression from a factually challenged Marxist.

"You live in a culture of violence, a world of violence," Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel told teenagers who attended the Mid-South's first PeaceJam in 2002.

Apparently is has necessary to add the "Slam" to get the kids to show up this year.

"In the midst of so much violence and terror and war, is peace really possible? How do you build peace?" First, by teaching peace.

"We are the world, we are the children." Who's going to argue with teaching peace, besides people like me, of course.

By teaching students as much about international cooperation as we do about international conflict.

Lesson number 1: That stuff George Washington said about avoiding entangling alliances, just ignore that.

By teaching them about great diplomatic victories as well as great military victories.

Great diplomatic victories? Name one. I mean name one that didn't rely on the threats or acts of some "peace-breakers."

By teaching them the history of tolerance as well as the history of terror.

Ah, the opposite of tolerance is terror. Got that? At least none of the kids will get sore backs carrying around the volume on the history of tolerance.

By teaching them about peacemakers as well as peacebreakers.

I can only assume that the people at the Center for Teaching Peace will be voting for Dennis Kucinich.

They should know about Emily Balch, a Quaker who inspired Woodrow Wilson and many others to seek international cooperation and conflict resolution.

Seems to me that Woody fought a war didn't he? And his peace initiatives didn't exactly pan out.

And about Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, who inspired Catholic bishops to embrace pacifism and conscientious objector status.

Sorry, but I'm naturally suspicious of any organization with the word "Worker" in the title. And I don't respect liberation theology, pacifism, or other efforts to undermine the ideals of the greatest country on earth.

And about Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, who said, "You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake."

Ms. Rankin didn't feel it was necessary to fight WW II. So this makes her a hero?

Teaching peace would be a seismic shift in education. But who knows? If our kids and their kids studied peace, eventually we might study war no more.

Yes, we can change human nature and mold mankind into what we want him to be. Hmmm..., where have we heard that before?

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:27 AM | Comments (1)

October 28, 2003

Culture Cloture

Ok, here's my entry to David Frum's parlor game to name 10 things from 1950 to 2000 that will still matter two hundred years hence (in no particular order):

1. The Apollo 11 moon landing (what we can do when we really try).
2. The fall of the Berlin Wall (the collapse of communism).
3. The PC/Internet/Mosaic and it's children (the real information revolution).
4. A child not yet 10 years old who will change the world in the next 50 years in ways that are impossible to imagine yet.
5. Global Positioning System technology (many variants already).
6. 9/11 and the aftermath (honestly, the fact that it will still be so prominent two hundred years hence is probably not a good thing).
7. Brown v. Board of Education (a lasting principle for the rest of the world as well).
8. The Super Bowl (it just gets bigger every year).
9. Rock & Roll (a broad category, but all encompassing from Elvis on)
10. The United Nations (Ok, I'm cheating by a few years here, and I won't say whether it is for good or ill). If you make me throw out the United Nations since it was founded in 1947, then I'll go with Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Original link from Tyler Cowen at The Volokh Conspiracy.

DOWNDATE: With just a little more thought, I think mapping the human genome probably belongs on this list. Monty Python seems more than a little frivolous when compared to this. But, for that matter, so does the UN.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:55 PM | Comments (1)

October 23, 2003

Head Like a Hole, Black As Your Soul, I'd Rather Die Than Give You Control

Here's a sentence that never needed to be written:

Courtney Love says she tried to make her recent drugs overdose "fun" for her 11-year-old daughter.

Little Frances has been placed into the custody of her mother-in-law, but Courtney wants her back. After all, Halloween is just around the corner.

Posted by Charles Austin at 07:47 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2003

Cubs vs. Red Sox

At the very least, it would eliminate one cliche from public discourse.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2003

Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

I should be celebrating the Cubs ascent into the rarefied air of the playoffs. Instead, I am cursing the powers that were that ruined my love of Major League Baseball ten years ago.

Sorry, this isn't enough to bring me back, and you never will have my kid's love. Branding can be negative as well as positive.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:38 AM | Comments (6)

September 18, 2003

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

Has anyone else noticed that Jack Skelington from The Nightmare Before Christmas looks an awful lot like the underwater pirate captain in James and the Giant Peach?

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:59 PM | Comments (1)

I'm Confused

Richard Grasso has resigned from the NYSE after accepting a $140M in deferred income and bonuses. Now, like most everyone else, I doubt that the size of this bonus can objectively be justified, but I do not challenge the authority of the NYSE to give it to Mr. Grasso if they choose to do so.

But what I'm confused about is why Mr. Grasso has effectively been forced out for acting rationally in accepting this money, whereas the true malfeasance, if that's what it is, was on the part of the Board of the NYSE who offered these renumerations to Mr. Grasso. Last time I checked, they were all still there.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2003

Fat, Dumb, and Neurotic

Bad news from the decadent society front:

Overweight Americans and Europeans are overfeeding their pets, too -- and putting their health at risk, according to a report issued on Monday.

Gee, I hope we are able to remedy this before the terrorists kill us. No wonder they hate us.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

Reading Michele's lamentations concerning the loss of her bet, I got to wondering about whether Cub fans or Red Sox fans have it worse. I mean, is it better to have played a World Series and lost than never to have played at all?

Based upon their past success and the law of averages, if there were any justice, the Yankee's wouldn't make it back to the World Series for about 120 years. And if we were basing it on the standard the Cubs have established, then the Yankess wouldn't get back to the World Series for about 2,000 years.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)