#navbar-iframe{opacity:0.0;filter:alpha(Opacity=0)} #navbar-iframe:hover{opacity:1.0;filter:alpha(Opacity=100, FinishedOpacity=100)} Ed's Daily Rant: 08/01/2002 - 09/01/2002

Because face it.
I'm right, and you're wrong.

Friday, August 30, 2002

Site of the day.


A well kept secret in Hollywood is that big name image conscious stars can make oodles of cash doing commercials in Japan, far from the prying eyes of Americans. Imagine Harrison Ford hawking beer, Brad peddling blue jeans,or Leo shilling for a credit card company?

They all do it. My favorite is the absolutely bizarre Shwarzenegger ad's.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

The Bond Project: Thunderball

The fourth film in the series and the one where it became a true phenomenon. The one word to describe it is BIG. It has bigger stunts, bigger spectacles, bigger plot, bigger everything. This was to that date the most successful of the Bond pictures and the one that made Bond an honest to god phenomenon. I recommend renting the DVD for a great documentary on how Bond mania exploded after this film came out.

Interestingly enough, this story has a sad history behind it. It was originally co-written with Fleming by Steve McClory. This subsequently led to a huge court battle over the rights, a battle Fleming not only lost, but it was such a draining experience for him that he suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 56.

The plot is fairly simple. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. steals 2 nuclear weapons and puts them up for ransom against the NATO powers. It’s the biggest thing that has happened to our intrepid hero yet, and the movie treats it that way, with a huge conference with every Double 0 agent in attendance (and we never get to see any of them which kind of annoyed me). Wanna guess which agent ends up saving the day?

Bond gets involved almost accidentally while he is at a spa recovering from the obligatory opening sequence. He's doing what he normally does, relaxing by screwing the head nurse, when he meets a suspicious character named Count Lippe. For some reason Lippe decides to kill Bond because he noticed Lippe has a strange tattoo on his arm. The tattoo is apparently the mark of S.P.E.C.T.R.E (with a plot device that lame, I half expected NATO to pay the ransom in big sacks with dollar bill signs on the side). This starts what has become a tradition in the Bond franchise, weak plot points. Why blow his cover and try and kill Bond? And why try and kill him in the most asinine, let me just turn up his exercise machine and walk away confident knowing he will die, no need to check on him, way? We have to get Bond from point A to B, who cares if it makes sense. But hey its a Bond picture, so just forget about that stuff and enjoy.

After Bond takes care of Lippe, he notices the arrival of a new patient, who is really a dead NATO pilot. S.P.E.C.T.R.E has killed him and substituted a double in order to steal the nuclear bombs. Why send the dead pilot here? Why not just bury him? At this point I just gave up and figured who cares, as long as they get to the Bahamas soon.

And they do. But not before Bond convinces M to follow the leads he picked up at the spa. If he didn't Bond was off to Canada, and we all know how boring that would have been.

And here is where the movie takes off. Bond engages in the usual cat and mouse games with the villain (who wears an eye patch no less), wooing the innocent Bond girl Domino (one of the Bond girls. There’s a record 4 in this one), and all the while trying to track down the whereabouts of the bombs. He does this in a series of extremely entertaining set pieces. The carnival, the shark tank, the underwater reconnaissance mission, etc.. It all leads up to the spectacular finale. And here is where one of the films Achilles heel shows. The climax goes on way too long. The underwater scenes are great but after a while they start to drag. At over 2 hours, this film could have benefited from some judicious editing here and also at the extremely long winded set up scenes at the beginning. The entire spa “Bond girl” subplot could easily have been left on the cutting room floor, as well as Bonds female “assistant”, another equally unnecessary character.

Also we get yet another forgettable Felix Lieter, which at this point has become almost an in joke.

All those things aside however, It's a great, solid adventure that has everything I love about Bond. Exotic locales (I'm a sucker for a Bond adventure in the Caribbean), intriguing story, great action set pieces, and Connery at his best. After From Russia With Love, its my second favorite Connery Bond.

This was sent by a friend. It's one of those chain email jokes, so I don't have the author. I do however think its pretty damn funny. Also, with the Red Sox falling apart yet again, a strike can't come too soon for me.

Please read. We can all make a difference.....
> Since September 11, 2001, Americans have come together as never before in
> our generation. We have banded together to overcome tremendous adversity.
> We have weathered direct attacks on our own soil, wars overseas, corporate
> scandal, layoffs, unemployment, stock price plunges, droughts, fires, and
> a myriad of economic and physical disasters both great and small. But now,
> we must come together once again to overcome our greatest challenge yet.
> Desperate hundreds of Major League Baseball players in our very own nation
> are living at, just below, or in most cases far above the seven-figure
> salary level. And as if that weren't bad enough they could be deprived of
> their life giving pay for several months, possibly longer, as a result of
> the upcoming strike situation. But you can help! For only $20,835 a month,
> about $694.50 a day (that's less than the cost of a large screen
> projection TV) you can help a MLB player remain economically viable during
> his time of need. This contribution by no means solves the problem as it
> barely covers the annual minimum salary, but it's a start, and every
> little bit will help!
> Although $700 may not seem like a lot of money to you, to a baseball
> player it could mean the difference between spending the strike golfing in
> Florida or on a Mediterranean cruise. For you, seven hundred dollars is
> nothing more than a month's rent, half a mortgage payment, or a month of
> medical insurance, but to a baseball player, $700 will partially replace
> his daily salary. Your commitment of less than $700 a day will enable a
> player to buy that home entertainment center, trade in the year-old Lexus
> for a new Ferrari, or enjoy a weekend in Rio.
> Each month, you will receive a complete financial report on the player you
> sponsor. Detailed information about his stocks, bonds, 401(k), real
> estate, and other investment holdings will be mailed to your home. Plus,
> upon signing up for this program, you will receive an unsigned photo of
> the player lounging during the strike on a beach somewhere in the
> Caribbean (for a signed photo, please include an additional $150). Put the
> photo on your refrigerator to remind you of other peoples' suffering.
> Your MLB player will be told that he has a SPECIAL FRIEND who just wants
> to help in a time of need. Although the player won't know your name, he
> will be able to make collect calls to your home via a special operator in
> case additional funds are needed for unforeseen expenses.
> I would like to sponsor a striking MLB player.
> My preference is checked below:
> [ ] Infielder
> [ ] Outfielder
> [ ] Starting Pitcher
> [ ] Ace Pitcher
> [ ] Entire team (Please call our 900 number to ask for the cost of a
> specific team - $10 per minute)
> [ ] Alex Rodriguez (Higher cost: $60,000 per day)
> Please charge the account listed below $694.50 per day for the player for
> the duration of the strike. Please send me a picture of the player I have
> sponsored, along with an Alex Rodriguez 2001 Income Statement and my very
> own Donald Fehr MLB Players Union pin to wear proudly on my hat (include
> $80 for hat).
> Your Name: _______________________
> Telephone Number: _______________________
> Account Number: _______________________ Exp.Date:_______
> [ ] MasterCard [ ] Visa [ ] American Express [ ] Discover
> Signature: _______________________
> Alternate card (when the primary card exceeds its credit limit):
> Account Number: _______________________
> Exp.Date:_______ [ ] MasterCard [ ] Visa [ ] American Express [ ]
> Discover Signature: _______________________
> Mail completed form to MLB Players Union or to enroll by phone simply call
> 1-900-SCREW-THE-FANS now! ($10 per minute).
> Disclaimer: Sponsors are not permitted to contact the player they have
> sponsored, either in person or by other means including, but not limited
> to, telephone calls, letters, e-mail, or third parties. Contributions are
> not tax-deductible.
> Thank You

My brother told me last week that he saw the best bumper sticker ever. It simply said "Hartford. The greatest place on earth."

Trust me, if you live anywhere near Hartford, you will see how funny that is. There is so much wrong with Hartford its impossible to know where to even start. Luckily I grew up in picturesque suburb of Wethersfield and now live West Hartford, which is nothing like Hartford. Its actually a really nice place to live. Great restaurants, bars, parks, the best public school system around and oodles of money. Basically it is everything Hartford isn't.

This recent article in the New York Times shows the brutal truth about Hartford. One excruciating excerpt:

"Hartford, a city with a Buck-Stops-Nowhere reputation, replaced its "strong mayor" form of government in 1946 with one that split accountability between a professional city manager and an elected City Council. The mayor was reduced to a figurehead."

On this I can attest. The former Mayor, Mike Peters is a friend of the family and I heard he tried to get more power for the Mayor, but its almost impossible, because you then get attacked as being power hungry.

But that’s just the beginning of their troubles. Aetna owns the Civic Center arena and wants to demolish it, yet there is aleready a mall. How to get the owners out? Refuse to renew anyone lease. It’s the most depressing mini-mall in the world. For anyone living in Hartford, the article is a must read.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Added a new link to my favorite Links section. Maxspeak. A great, great weblog. Its by a man named Max Sawicky, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. The mans got a Ph.D. in economics and it shows. He's also got a great sense of humor. If you want someone to take on the phony numbers and arguments made by the Bushies (or even sometimes the Democrats), he's your man. But he doesn't stop there. I find him constantly destroying bad fiscal arguments with not just well thought out arguments of his own, but with reams of hard numbers to back him up. To quote Slim Pickens from Blazing saddles "He uses his mouth pertier than a ten dollar whore."

plus a FAQ on the basics of the federal budget poor uneducated Art major like myself find extremely helpful.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

The Bush media white wash continues.

Uggabugga has this side by side comparison of a Bush clip. Here is what he recently said:
BUSH: ... when I say I'm a patient man, I mean I'm a patient man. And that we will look at all options and we will consider - uh, .. uh, .. uh, .. uh - all technologies available to us and diplomacy and intelligence.
CBS aired it unedited. ABC, in order to make the president seem less like the idiot he is, edited the tape:
BUSH: ... when I say I'm a patient man, I mean I'm a patient man. And that we will look at all options and we will consider - uh, all technologies available to us and diplomacy and intelligence.

Listen to the whole thing here.

Think its no big deal? I think it is. The unedited version is embarassing example of the mans utter lack of focus. The man has to stumble around to string a sentence together. The White House does the same thing when Bush makes one of his classic boneheaded verbal screwups, like when he confuses devaluation with deflation and the Yen takes a nosedive, yet the White House alters the official trasncript, changing the fact that Bush doesn't know sh*t about economics.

I miss the old days when you mention an obscure bill to CLinton ina news conference, he will tell you whats in the bill, the name, who's sponsoring it, what effect it will have on the economy, how the bill came to be, what can be done to change the bill, what the writer of the bill had for breakfast.....

Monday, August 26, 2002

The Martha Stewart flap.
Why is such a big deal being made out of a simple insider trading deal that amounts to a piddly $175 thousand dollars, when we have corporations defrauding investors by the billions? Did she engage in insider trading? Who knows, but why make a congresional circus out of it? Aren't there bigger fish to fry? Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, etc...
Because Martha Stewart is famous, and by subpeonaing her, Congressmen can look tough in an election year. Especially after the recent news reports talked about the possibility of Kenny Boy going to jail at about nil. Someone needs to be a scapegoat. Soon we'll see conservatives outraged, simply outraged, at any amount of money that she may have given to Democrats. As if that means anything.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

It's time to play...
Create a caption!

If you can create a wacky caption of the above photo of Bush protestors being beaten by police for daring to protest our good wonderful and benevolent Dicta-- I mean President, you can win a prize!

1st prize is the right to speak to a lawyer if designated an Enemy combatant by our glorious leader!
2nd Prize is an authentic GOP hippie beating stick! (supplies limited)

Saturday, August 24, 2002

The Bond Project: Goldfinger

The third film in the franchise, and the one where the Bond formula as we know it finally came together. The evolution that began with Dr. No and evolved in From Russia With Love, finally gels in this film. The gadgets, the villain, the action, the Bond girl, etc..

After a brief an unrelated opening sequence (another Bond staple now put in place by this film), we see Bond contacted by Felix Lieter (with a decidedly unmemorable performance by Cec Linder, showing how much Jack Lord is missed) while on vacation in Miami to keep an eye on Millionaire Industrialist Auric Goldfinger. Why, he isn't told.

Bond then immediately does something that he does throughout the film, which is the one thing that truly astonished me, he completely screws up. Instead of just observing Goldfinger as he cheats at cards, he interferes, and forces him to lose. As a result he causes the famous death of Jill Masterson, killed by gold paint.

After returning to London he is reminded of his screwup by M, and after a dressing down is allowed to continue on the case. The case, as he soon finds out, is to try and find out how Goldfinger smuggles his gold out of the country illegally in order to sell in countries with higher gold prices. To do so Bond tries to lure him by posing as a man willing to sell lost Nazi Gold, and plant a bug on his car to trace his movements. All of this is one while palying golf, in one of the most memorable scenes of the film. IT is here we meet his henchman Oddjob and his aprtticular talents. Bond tracks Goldfinger to Geneva where he runs into the sister of Jill Masterson out for revenge. A woman who ends up dying due to yet another bond screwup, and dies only minutes after she is introduced into the film! After wards, in another major foul up by Bond (fooled by a mirror?) he is captured and spends the rest of the film captive by Goldfinger as he watches the rest of the plan Goldfinger has devised unfold. That plan is to attack Fort Knox, irradiate the gold thus making it worthless, and thereby increasing his own fortune. Bond is essentially along for the ride. Does he try to get word out to the CIA about the plot? Yes, but he fails. Does Bond save the day and stop the bomb? No, he is pushed aside and someone else does it.

Where I am going with this is that I feel this film is vastly overrated. The locales are uninspiring (the Kentucky countryside, Oooh, how exciting!), the plotting is off, the action scenes either understated or badly done, and a Bond girl that is, quite frankly, over the hill. It also boasts the second worst villain death in the history of the franchise (second only to Mr. Big from Live and Let Die). Bond does nothing but screw up, and the only thing that saves him is his penis ( in an uncomforatably dated and chauvanistic scene in a barn)

Also, as Terminus pointed out, it is full of gaping plot holes. Why would Goldfinger assemble a series of master criminals, fill them in on his plot, and then have them killed? Why does Goldfinger not kill Bond? Just because he says his replacement knows what he knows, Goldfinger still does nothing to let London know Bond is still alive.

After the heights the series reached with From Russia With Love, I felt this film was a disappointment but got back on track in Thunderball. Ultimately it is quite entertaining, and I recommend it, but it is far from the best in the series as seems to be the conventional wisdom.

For another perspective, read Terminus's review.

I have a new comments program up, so unfortunatly all the previous ones are gone. There were only a few anyway. This should help the annoying slow load times and "comments server busy" errors from my other comments program, which shall remain nameless....

OK, it was Enetation, and they sucked.

Friday, August 23, 2002

More on the pregnant 11 year old in Bridgeport. The doctor does not want to be held liable because of the state law regarding minors confidentiality agreements reagarding STD's, abortion, and pregnancies.

It's just amazing. They want to argue the nuances of the law. Yes, she is a minor, but any idiot with a brain can see the difference. a 16 year old girl pregnant by her boyfriend seeking gynecological care, and an 11 year old girl impregnanted by a 75 year old man. An 11 year old girl cannot possibly be able to consent to sex. Plus the law clearly states that if a doctor suspects child abuse, he can report it.

THe 75 year old man says the girl 'enticed' him. They have a special seat in hell all ready for him.

Deputy Assistant State's Attorney Craig P. Nowak had the beast line:
"They had before them an 11-year-old girl who was pregnant. If that's not abuse, I'll turn in my badge and move to Vermont,"

Amen. I love Vermont.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

A Bridgeport doctor was brought before court because he failed to notify authorities about a pregnant 11 year old girl. Doctors are supposed to report all instances of Child abuse and neglect, but Doctor Mukesh Shah didn't because he felt the reporting guidelines were too "vague"

Here's a cheat sheet, dipsh*t:
impregnating an 11 year old girl = child abuse.

It's really not that vague.

Read the sickening story here.

From Media Wores Online quote of the day:
"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."
-Ann Coulter in an interview with the New York Observer.

Obviously this is an attempt at humor, but I really don't think it's that funny.

The Onion. Now THATS funny.

Man I am just breaking all my rules today..

I try to resist commenting on the obviously easy targets such as Ann Coulter, Jesse Jackson and PETA, etc. but sometimes the temptation is too hard to resist. Maxspeak pointed out this article by Peta where they take umbrage with the Military testing weapons and munitions tc, on animals. They even have the unmitigated gall to refer to a bunch of dead Guinea pigs as “Uncounted Casualties” Those PETA people are truly nutso.
My friend’s father trained tank dog’s in Korea. Basically you would raise dog’s and only feed them under a tank. This would teach them to run under a tank in the expectation of food. Then they strap explosives to the dog, and unleash it into the battlefield to run under an enemy tank in search of food, and boom, no more enemy tank. Makes perfect sense to me, but I suppose PETA would be against that too.

I give them credit for one thing though.

Really, really, hot members.

I normally wouldn't post this but I found it to be a real great debate with my Jewish friend on a Yahoo political mailing list regarding my previous post. Therefore I'm going to just paste the individual emails in their order. (Its confusing as its a series of emails reedited with our new responses below, so I apologize if its a mess)

Email 1:
[Dave]This gets the big 'whatever' from me. First, Shmuley (don't you love the
name!) doesn't speak for all Jews. He's merely stating his opinion. It's one
that I happen to agree with, but that's beside the point. Shmuley's merely
exercising his freedom of speech.

Southern Baptists can believe whatever they want, for all I care (and I too am
a Jew). But Jews are also free to believe that anybody who points the finger
at them and says, "yer going to hell" is a spiritual Neanderthal. I don't
think it's much of a leap to say that a religion that teaches its adherents
that Jews are going to hell is a religion that is encouraging its adherents to
be anti-Semitic.

And I'd also say this goes a bit further than simply having another view of
heaven. Saying somebody is going to hell is akin to saying that they are evil,
and that their souls will not be saved. Once you have a view of another person
as evil, it's a fairly easy step to rationalize mistreatment of those you've
branded as evil.

My response (his statements from above edited for space):
. Shmuley's merely exercising his freedom of speech.
[Ed] He’s being baldly hypocritical in my view.

I don't think it's much of a leap to say that
a religion that teaches its adherents that Jews are going to hell is
a religion that is encouraging its adherents to be anti-Semitic.
[Ed] That’s a big leap. You don't believe Jesus is the messiah, does that
make you an anti Christian bigot prone to hate?

Saying somebody is going to hell is akin to saying
that they are evil, and that their souls will not be saved.
[Ed] "evil" is a stretch. The Baptist on the show NEVER
said they viewed Jews as "evil", just not "saved", which is their right.

Email2 (redundancies edited out):
[Ed] He's being baldly hypocritical in my view.

[ David] This raises the old "is it intolerant to point out somebody
else’s intolerance" debate. But, again, religion is rife with hypocrisy.

[Ed]That’s a big leap. You don't believe Jesus is the messiah, does that
make you an anti Christian bigot prone to hate?

[ David] That's right - I don't believe Jesus is the messiah. But I have
no problem with anybody else believing that Jesus *IS* the Messiah. Unlike
Southern Baptists, I don't believe that all non-Jews are going to hell.

[ David] Saying somebody is going to hell is akin to saying
that they are evil, and that their souls will not be saved.
[Ed] "evil" is a stretch. The Baptist on the show NEVER said they viewed
Jews as "evil", just not "saved", which is their right.

[ David] I agree that it is their right to believe what they want to
believe. If you don't like the word "evil," substitute "sinners." I think my
point still holds.
[Ed] Fine. But some Jews believe it’s a sin to eat hot dogs. If that’s true
I'm one heck of a sinner and plan on sinning again around 12:30.

Email 3:
Shmuley's merely exercising his freedom of speech.
> ***********
[Ed] He's being baldly hypocritical in my view.
> [David] This raises the old "is it intolerant to point out
somebody else’s intolerance" debate. But, again, religion is rife
with hypocrisy.

[Ed] He's being baldly hypocritical in my view.

> [, David] This raises the old "is it intolerant to point out
somebody else’s intolerance" debate. But, again, religion is rife
with hypocrisy.
[Ed] True. This debate is different because resides entirely in the
realm of the spiritual. Unless, and as far as I know they haven't,
Southern Baptists actually commit bigoted ad prejudiced ACTS against
Jew's, what’s the issue? Its the Jewish thought police. If shmuley
doesn't think your version of Heaven is up to par, your a
Neanderthal. As a Jew he should know more than anyone about
persecuting someone’s religious BELIEFS, as opposed to his or her actions.
Are Southern Baptists bigots and prone to anti Semitism? I'm sure
some of them are, but attack THAT, and not their underlying belief
structure, which does not preach hate as far as I can tell.

[David] I don't think it's much of a leap to say that
> a religion that teaches its adherents that Jews are going to hell
> a religion that is encouraging its adherents to be anti-Semitic.
> ***************
> That’s a big leap. You don't believe Jesus is the messiah, does that
> make you an anti Christian bigot prone to hate?
> [David] That's right - I don't believe Jesus is the
messiah. But I have no problem with anybody else believing that
Jesus *IS* the Messiah. Unlike Southern Baptists, I don't believe
that all non-Jews are going to hell.
> > And I'd also say this goes a bit further than simply having
> view of heaven. Saying somebody is going to hell is akin to saying
> that they are evil, and that their souls will not be saved.
> ************
[Ed] "Evil" is a stretch. The Baptist on the show NEVER said they viewed
> Jews as "evil", just not "saved", which is their right.
[David] I agree that it is their right to believe what they
want to believe. If you don't like the word "evil,"
substitute "sinners." I think my point still holds.
[Ed] Fine. But some Jews believe it’s a sin to eat hot dogs. If that’s true
I'm one heck of a sinner and plan on sinning again around 12:30.

I saw this on Donahue a few days ago nd found that Phil and his guest Rabbi Shmuley Boteach were being unfair and intolerent of the unfair and intolerent Southern Baptists. Here is the premise. Southern Baptists do not believe people who have not accepted Jesus as their personal savior will get into Heaven. This belief apparently upsets Phil and Shmuley. Excerpts from the transcript:

This just breeds anti-Semitism. I am sorry. You cannot possibly look a person in the eye and say, if you don’t come to Jesus, if you don’t change your faith, you’re not going to heaven. Reeks of prejudice, and also stirs the soul to evil behavior, in my opinion.

And Reverend Mohler, however intelligent of a scholar he may be, he is a spiritual Neanderthal with repulsive, revolting views. Because we know in history that Christian, anti-Judaism has always led to racial anti-Semitism. This is the modern equivalent, Phil, of spiritual terrorism.

No offense, but screw you Shmuley. They are not saying that Jews should not be considered human, or gassed, or discriminated against. They have a different view of Heaven, thats it. It's called religuos freedom. You don't like how Baptsts interpret Heaven, don't become one.
Are the 16 million Southern Baptists breaking any law? If a Christian group called Jews neanderthal because they do not accept Jesus, I'm sure Shmuley would scream to the rooftops about anti-semitism, yet its OK for him to do the same?

I'm amazed this kind of prejudice and intolerence is starting to come out of supposedly tolerent liberal circles.

Of course the only reason I posted this is because I liked to repeatedly type the word Shmuley.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

He's gone.

Bob Barr lost to his lower profile Republican challenger John Linder.
Cynthia McKinney, the idiot who suggested, with no proof mind you, that Bush knew 9/11 was going to happen and did nothing, also lost.

A good day all around.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

You gotta love election years.

Bob Barr, the nutcase hypocrite from Georgia is, thanks to Democratically controlled redistricting, engaged in a tough primary battle for reelection. Barr, the man who allegedly licked whipped cream of a strippers breasts a few years before his holier than thou impeachment days, has made new headlines recently. No, not the one about him suing Clinton for "emotional distress", and no, not the one about him giving speeches to white supremacists groups.

The OTHER headline. The one where Mr. NRA was handling an antique gun at a reception and it went off accidentally.

My favorite quote from the article is by lobbyist Bruce Widener who handed him the gun;"We were handling it safely". No Bruce, if it accidentally goes off, thats the definition of NOT handling it safely (If these guys and Heston are the best spokesmen the NRA can come up with, god help them).

Well, it seems that the supporters of Barr's opponent, John Linder, are taking the story and running with it. They recently sent someone dressed up as Yosemite Sam with a badge calling him the "official gun safety instructor." Pretty innocuous stuff really. Akin to 92 when Clinton supporters showed up dressed as a chicken at Bush rallies because he was avoiding the debates (for good reason, cuz Clinton creamed him, pardon the pun). Well the gun loving, homo hating, under God loving supporters of Barr didn't take to kindly to that, I reckon.

Here is a video of them harassing Yosemite. Pretty funny stuff. Thanks to Joe Conason for this gem.

Monday, August 19, 2002

The Bond Project:

From Russia With Love

Without a doubt, my favorite of the Connery Bond films. It has what I consider the essential elements to a great Bond film; Great villain, beautiful girl, fantastic atmosphere, and a somewhat complex plot.

The film starts with a great introduction to our villain. A ruthless psychopathic killer named Grant kills what we think is Bond. It turns out to be a training decoy, and it adds a great foreshadowing of the dangers to come.

The story starts off simply enough. A beautiful Russian is willing to defect and bring with her a coveted Lektor decoding device. The only catch is that she will only defect to Bond, having fallen for him from his picture. The British sense it is a trap, and as we have been told right from the beginning, it most certainly is. But not a trap set by the Russians. It is a trap set by Bonds archenemy S.P.E.C.T.R.E. as a way to not only get the Lektor themselves, but Kill bond for revenge for Dr. No. Yet the Russian defector Tatiana doesn’t know she is working for S.P.E.C.T.R.E., she thinks she is doing it all for Mother Russia. Her commander, Rosa Klebb, who she believes is still with the Russians, is actually now an agent of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.. If it sounds confusing, it really isn’t if you pay attention.

Essentially the film is about Bond trying to get the Lektor, and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. trying to get it as well, using Bond and Tatiana as pawns, while at the same time escalating tensions between the east and west by framing each side for attacks they haven’t commited.

That’s it. No huge underground fortress full of jumpsuit clad minions, no laser beam pointed at London, no underwater super car to fight the villains. This is what makes it my favorite of the Connery films. It eschews the fantastical elements later injected into the films, and makes it a good old-fashioned Cold War spy thriller.
The film shows much growth from the first, with a bigger budget and more tightly wound plot being the most obvious, but also a gelling of the Formula that would be complete with the next film Goldfinger.

The highlights of the film, for me, is it’s fantastic use of atmosphere and mood rather than over the top stunts and mind boggling set’s. The ancient City of Istanbul, the underground catacombs used to spy on the Russians, the Gypsy camp, and the fantastic scenes aboard the Orient Express, the canals of Venice, The assassination attempt with a curious escape hatch. Etc.. This is Fleming’s bond at his best.

Also top notch is its villains. By Know Rosa Klebb and her poisoned boot has become famous, but I loved Robert Shaws psychopathic killer Grant. He can go from stone faced robotic killer in one second, to friendly fellow British agent the next. These scenes aboard the train is where the opening scenes sense of foreboding pays off.

The only down side I can think of is the small plot holes that seem to crop up in every Bond Film. As Terminus poited out, why does S.P.E.C.T.R.E.’s plan (devise by a chess master who claims to have covered all possibilities of failure) need to escalate the tensions between the two sides? It serves no direct purpose towards getting the Lektor, and puts Bond, who they need to retrieve it, in danger. I myself chalk it up to S.P.E.C.T.R.E.’s creed of promoting chaos, but ultimately it is one small loose plot thread in an otherwise tightly wound film.

Most people insist that Goldfinger is the pinnacle of the Bond films at most, and at least the pinnacle of the Connery films. I disagree. To me, this film is the second best Bond film overall (the best? Wait and see..) and the best Connery installment.

I loved it.
For another perspective, read Terminus's take on the film.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Only the Bushies....

The head of Bush's anti Corporate Corruption force, is being sued for Corporate fraud.

Tomorrow the Bush Administration will announce the new head of UNICEF..

Reverend Paul Shanley!

Score one for the god guys.
I'm amazed that the Bush adminsitration's "Unlawful Combatant" stance is getting so overlooked. The United States Government has declared that the President can have any American citizen sent to jail for as long as he wants, without bringing any charges against him, or giving him access to a lawyer. There is no court review, nothing.

We are no better than Communist Cuba. Yet other than the ABA and some Civil Rights groups, theres nothing in the news on it. Apparently Larry King is more interested in talking to Patrick Duffy than the erosion of one of our basic constitutional rights.

Finally we have a judge who is willing to put a stop to it. Robert J. Doumar.
An excerpt:
In a typical exchange, Doumar asked, "Can the military do anything they want with him, without a tribunal?"

"The present detention is lawful," Garre said.

Doumar asked again, "What restraints are there?" Garre said Hamdi had asked to speak to diplomats from Saudi Arabia, where he was raised.

"Can I beg you to answer my question?" Doumar then said. "If the military sat him in boiling oil, would that be lawful?" Garre said he didn't think anyone had suggested that.

Doumar said it seemed too easy to call someone an unlawful combatant and use it to hold someone indefinitely: "If the man next door to you is an unlawful combatant, maybe Mr. Mobbs could say you're an enemy combatant."

Democrats are fun.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

The Bond Project: Dr. No

The first in the series, although not the first book. (Casino Royale was actually the first book in the series, and one of my favorite of the novels. It introduces Bond to us, and explains why he is the way he is (At the end of the book he falls in love and is then forced to Kill, the woman he loves, thus hardening his heart towards women for the future). But it is probably best that it wasn’t made into a film as the plotting is off (Fleming himself admitted his climax happened too early and consisted entirely of a card game).
Dr. No ranks squarely in the middle in terms of excellence to me. Watching it, the first impression you get is that you’re watching a series find its voice. The second impression is how dated it’s become, which to me isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Being a fan of the Fleming books which took place in the late fifties, I enjoyed the fact that the movie was set squarely in the same period. It gave me a sense of nostalgia.
The plot is refreshingly bare bones. A MI6 agent named Strangways is investigating a lead regarding interference with a planned Cape Canaveral missile launch using radio beams (or at least I think so. More on this later). Assassins murder him and Bond is sent to investigate what he was doing that got him killed, and who killed him.
Along the way he meets some allies. Here we see the first meeting between Bond and his American alter ego CIA agent Felix Leiter (played by the great Jack Lord). Along with the local fisherman Quarrel, they try to find out who the mysteries Dr. No is and what he is doing in Crab Key, all the while dodging various assasination attempts.
Which brings me to my first criticism of the film. There are plot threads that are left dangling throughout. When Bond first arrives on the island there is an attempt on his life. Someone leaked that he was coming. Who? The film never really says. What exactly is Dr. No trying to do? Steal rockets? Blow them up? We never really find out.
The other problem is the blatant chauvinism of the film. I’m not overly PC by any stretch but its kind of absurd today to watch Bond literally just grab a woman who is a complete stranger, kiss her and have her melt in his arms.
The music consists of the famous Bond theme essentially repeated over and over again. The only other recognixzable songs are a raggae 3 Blind Mice and the awful Underneath the Mango Tree.
Despite this, the first half of the film is quite entertaining, and Jamaica is always my favorite Bond location (Fleming wrote all his novels there on his estate Goldeneye). The film starts to fall apart however, once they get to the Crab Key island.
Here Bond meets up with the beautiful, and empty headed, Honey Ryder played by Ursula Andress. A lousy performance by an actress who essentially serves no purpose other than running around in a (at the time) risqué bikini.
What follows is one awkward scene after another including one with a decidedly slow moving and non threatening looking “dragon”, and a climax that essentially consists of Bond thwarting the enemy by turning a dial. Thankfully the climax is over quickly and the heroes are off for the obligatory “we’ve conquered the bad guy now lets do it” scene.
A promising start hampered by a lackluster finish. Thankfully many of the problems evident in the film would be fixed by the next one, From Russia With Love.

And for the inspiration to the whole Bond project, read Terminus's take on Dr. No

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Will Charlton Heston be forced to give up his guns?

Yes, according to Slate.

Now about that "from my cold dead hands" statement there Chuck?
(And how bad is his toupee in that picture?)

Friday, August 09, 2002

Various things.
Paul Krugman, my favorite columnist, has his own website which he updates fairly regulrly. Check it out.

The anti Gore media bias continues.The oh so fair and balanced Fox news issued a story in which "anonymous" sources claimed Tipper and Al tried to get tickets to Springsteens concert, but when they were told that they would have to pay for the tickets, they balked.
The only problem is, the story is completely fictional. Tipper was indeed going with 3 friends (not AL) and paid forthe tickets herself.

Read it here at Salon. Subscription required. But you already have one, don't you?

Bloomberg's off his nut. No way New Yorkers would put up with this.

Chalton Heston has Alzhiemers. very sad. I can't stand the mans politics and always thought he was a pompous ass, but I wouldn't wish alzhiemers on my worst enemy.

OK, maybe Bin Laden and Hitler, but thats it.

The Bond Dialogue. Introduction.

Like every other kid, I grew up watching the Bond movies. Sadly I was reared in the Moore era and it never captured my imagination the way Star Wars did. It wasn’t until I was in High School and my friend Jason, who was a Bond fanatic, introduced me to the original Fleming novels. From there I was hooked. I read them all straight through in one summer at the beach and was a fan from then on out. I read Flemings autobiography, his magazine articles, anything I could get my hands on (even the 50’s Casino Royale TV show, with Peter Lorre as the villain). And of course the movies. So now begins my own personal retrospective of the Bond films in chronological order. Inspired by Terminus (who is doing his own)

For the record my favorite Bonds in order are:

Favorite M’s in order:
Bernard Lee (I miss him, he was everything M should be. A father figure, disciplinarian, and mentor)
Dame Judi Dench
Robert Brown (Awful. He was everything Bernard Lee was not)

Favorite Felix Lieter’s:
Yeah right. There were like 30. No way I’m making that list.

Favorite Villains and favorite films in order I will save until the end. And for the record, 2 films, while supposed "Bond" films, do not make the cut because they are not "Official". Casino Royale, which was a spoof (and a god awful mess to boot), and Never say Never Again, a decent remake of Thunderball with Connery playing an aging Bond.

First up is Dr. No. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Stumbled across a great site regarding the differing fiscal policies of Clinton and Reagan. Has some pretty hard numbers and debunks a lot of phony myths about "Saint" Reagan and the "Evil" Clinton.

Check it out.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Some quotes regarding the recent terrorist Bombings killing 9 in Israel.

Oshrat Amram, 17:
"Suddenly the front of the bus blew up and the bus started going up in flames. I saw soldiers flying out of the bus, I saw soldiers lying on the road, I saw one soldier with pieces of flesh stuck on him and I saw another soldier on the road shouting, 'Am I dead? Am I alive? Tell me!' "

Avraham Sried, 52:
"All around the bus there were bodies and limbs of bodies. The fence near the parking lot was full of limbs and bodies."

George W. Bush(speaking from the first tee at a Kennebunkport golf course, the day before he leaves for his month long vacation):
“For the sake of the Palestinians who suffer, for the sake of the Israelis who are under attack, we must stop the terror. I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killings. Thank you. Now watch this drive.”

Direct Bush quote (courtesy LiberalOasis):

"I will not accept a bill that doesn't allow me to adequately manage people and resources to better protect the homeland."

The country is being run By Colonel Klink.

Bond Update.
Yes, I finally won a copy of Dr No from Ebay. It will be here in a few days at which point I will post my thoughts. In the meantime, read Terminus's review on his site (a great blog regardless). From what I've read, there is a lot I agree with, and a lot I don't, but I'll wait until I get another viewing. In the meantine, I will start with a brief introduction to how I feel about the Series as a whole, and their relation to the novel's. which started my obsession.

(a point counterpoint with Terminus on each Fleming novel? Now thats an interesting idea...)

I urge everyone to add their own comments either here, or on Terminus's site.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

"I yield the rest of my time to Senator Hill".

I like the sound of that.

In a surprise ruling, a Connecticut federal judge has ordered the September primary ballot to be open to anyone who fills out a form and has a valid address. No petitions need to be signed.
I'm going Congress, my friend Woody's got the Governorship, my dog will be Lieutenant Governor.

The truth is it very well might turn this years primary into a complete nightmare. If you thought a butterfly ballot was confusing, try picking from 30 different guys named Michael Hunt.

Bond Update.

Once again, in a fit of capatilistic greed, MGM/UA has discontinued the Bond DVD's. They will be released, again, with much fanfare in October to the new Bond film Die Another Day.

Therefore my grand kickoff off the Bond retrospective will be put on hold until my Dr. No gets delivered in the mail from Ebay.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Time magazine reports that In the waning days of the Clinton administration a plan was devised, in response to the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, to attack Al-Queda. Richard Clarke, the administration point man on terrorism, authored the plan.
During the transition period between administrations, the incoming Bush team, including Condolezza Rice, were briefed on the plan by Clarke. A briefing attended by National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. The reason he went to the briefing was, as Berger said, "to underscore how important I think this subject is."

The aggressive plan included:

The "breakup" of Al-Queda cells
A substantial increase in American support for the Northern Alliance
Planned air strikes against terrorist training camps
Covert special operations inside Afghanistan
Systematically freezing assets, ending funding from fake charities

The plan was ignored by the Bush administration for over 8 months. Only until a week before 9/11 was a meeting held on the plan.

Now will the "It's Clinton's fault" crowd shut up?

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Truth of Katherine Harris's enduring stupidity. I can't even comment on how corrupt she is. It's just jaw droping.

Friday, August 02, 2002

A bill to strip J Edgar Hoover's name off of the FBI building has been introduced by right wing fruitcake Dan Burton. It's about time the crossdressing paranoid, evil freaks name was stripped off that building.

Dan Burton is still a fruitcake though.

Taking a cue (call it a "homage") from Terminus, an excellent Blog, I will add my own counter-point version to his recently announced discussion/reviews of the bond films. Starting in order from Dr. No on down.

I've been a huge Bond fan for years ever since my friend Jason in High school got me into the Fleming novels. I read then all voraciously one summer at the Beach, and was unbelievably depressed when finally got to his last book The Man With the Golden Gun (his weakest novel as it was written while he was sick, and he died after only the first draft). I still proudly own a hardcover first Edition Goldfinger I found at a local used bookshop in South Lyme. I am a master at Bond trivia, and even read Flemings nonfiction travel adventure articles from some 60’s magazines, and of course, Flemings Biography.

So first up is the original Dr. No.

Stay tuned. (And don’t forget to read Terminus’s version on his site.)

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