Sunday, May 20, 2007

"Flyboys" film

I rented Flyboys, was really disappointed. Very long film, 2 hrs 20 min. the flying scenes were mostly computer generated. only the scenes on the ground were authentic. The plot and characters were predictable. Why did the film cost so much? There were some great sets and costumes, but a large part of the film was computer scenes.

vote for Hillary's campaign song!

This is from her internet site. You can actually vote for her campaign song. There are lots of songs she left off, like my favorite Kinky Friedman song, "Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed..." Great song. Hillary probably doesnt like it! (The song is satire...not serious...supposed to be funny).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My favorite airplane: 1916 Curtis Jenny

I have many favorite airplanes, but this is number one. The picture is of perhaps the only restored Jenny flying today.

Don't Blame me, I voted for Carter!

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Former President Carter says
President Bush's administration is "the worst in history" in international relations, taking aim at the White House's policy of pre-emptive war and its Middle East diplomacy.

The criticism from Carter, which a biographer says is unprecedented for the 39th president, also took aim at Bush's environmental policies and the administration's "quite disturbing" faith-based initiative funding.

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," Carter told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story that appeared in the newspaper's Saturday editions. "The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and
Ronald Reagan and
Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me."

Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo confirmed his comments to The Associated Press on Saturday and declined to elaborate. He spoke while promoting his new audiobook series, "Sunday Mornings in Plains," a collection of weekly Bible lessons from his hometown of Plains, Ga.

"Apparently, Sunday mornings in Plains for former President Carter includes hurling reckless accusations at your fellow man," said Amber Wilkerson,
Republican National Committee spokeswoman. She said it was hard to take Carter seriously because he also "challenged Ronald Reagan's strategy for the Cold War."

Carter came down hard on the
Iraq war.

"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered," he said. "But that's been a radical departure from all previous administration policies."

Carter, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, criticized Bush for having "zero peace talks" in
Israel. Carter also said the administration "abandoned or directly refuted" every negotiated nuclear arms agreement, as well as environmental efforts by other presidents.

Carter also offered a harsh assessment for the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which helped religious charities receive $2.15 billion in federal grants in fiscal year 2005 alone.

"The policy from the White House has been to allocate funds to religious institutions, even those that channel those funds exclusively to their own particular group of believers in a particular religion," Carter said. "As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honored that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one."

Douglas Brinkley, a Tulane University presidential historian and Carter biographer, described Carter's comments as unprecedented.

"This is the most forceful denunciation President Carter has ever made about an American president," Brinkley said. "When you call somebody the worst president, that's volatile. Those are fighting words."

Carter also lashed out Saturday at British prime minister
Tony Blair. Asked how he would judge Blair's support of Bush, the former president said: "Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient."

"And I think the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world," Carter told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Billions of dollars fly by....

Final flight of F 14's before they are mothballed in the Arizona desert. Hard to believe they are no longer needed. I think they are not as fuel efficient as newer jets, and not needed to protect carrier groups as they were during Cold War.

jackie kennedy speaks spanish

Here is Jackie Kennedy speaking spanish during her husband's campaign. Why can't George W. speak spanish like this? (Why can't he speak english?) Jackie was best known for her fluent French.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I'm not necessary.

Great movie, was shown recently on FX cable channel. I think its best to see "Sideways" at least twice. Some viewers complain that its boring, that the humor is too obscure. But the acting is fantastic - the four main characters each give great performances. Miles is a middle school english teacher, in love with his wife, who divorced him, who didnt want to have children with him. He lives in a depressing apartment. His only friend is Jack, his roommate from his freshman year in college (only his freshman year, Jack must have ditched him after that). Miles and Jack go on a roadtrip to wine country in California before Jack's wedding. Miles is an expert on wine: he has nothing else in his life. His knowledge of wine makes up for an unhappy childhood, an unhappy adult life. Jack is superficial, a fraud and fake. At the end, Miles is in class, and a student is reading the end of Finnegan's wake (which I confess I have never read - is this passage from Finnegan's Wake? It mentions Boston? perhaps not) in a monotone voice, and the expression on Jack's face is that his life is passing before him.
"I did not cry then or ever about
Finny. I did not cry even when I
stood watching him being lowered
into his family's straight-laced
burial ground outside of Boston. I
could not escape a feeling that this
was my own funeral, and you do not
cry in that case."

Of course Miles has written the Great American Novel, which no publisher will publish. Miles would like to kill himself, only he has to get published first (he jokes). There is a lot of humor in the movie (Charles Bukowsky was a 1950's beat writer known for his "obscene" writing).

Miles: Well, the world doesn't give a shit what I have to say. I'm not necessary. Had. I'm so insignificant I can't even kill myself.
Jack: Miles, what the hell is that supposed to mean?
Miles Raymond: Come on, man. You know. Hemingway, Sexton, Plath, Woolf. You can't kill yourself before you're even published.
Jack: What about the guy who wrote Confederacy of Dunces? He killed himself before he was published. Look how famous he is.
Miles Raymond: Thanks.
Jack: Just don't give up, alright? You're gonna make it.
Miles Raymond: Half my life is over and I have nothing to show for it. Nothing. I'am thumbprint on the window of a skyscraper. I'm a smudge of excrement on a tissue surging out to sea with a million tons of raw sewage.
Jack: See? Right there. Just what you just said. That is beautiful. 'A smudge of excrement... surging out to sea.'
Miles Raymond: Yeah.
Jack: I could never write that.
Miles Raymond: Neither could I, actually. I think it's Bukowsky.

Anyway great film, sad and beautiful.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pakistanis in Glasgow

"A Fond Kiss" is a movie about a Pakistani man, Casim, in love with one of his sister's scottish friends, Roisin. Casim's father wants the family to remain traditional, but Casim and his younger sister want to be modern, independent. His younger sister wants to go to the University of Edinbourgh, but her father doesn't want her to live outside the house (she is not married! She can leave only when her arranged husband and her wed!) Meanwhile, his other sister wants a traditional marriage, but can't have one, because the family is dishonored by Casim who is living with Roisin. On top of that, Roisin is fired from her job at a Catholic school because her Priest won't sign off on her being a Catholic, because she is "living in sin with a heathen." Then Casim's father tries to arrange a marriage for Casim, his older sister drives Roisin over to watch the surprise meeting of Casim and his "finacee" from Pakistan, and Roisin runs off horrified. In the end, Casim and Roisin stay together, but obviously there is much conflict within the family. Great film - it shows what happens when empires collapse, and the empire refugees immigrate to the colonial country. Millions of people were displaced when England and France ended their overseas empires, and now England/Scotland and France face problems is immigration. In England its mostly Indian and Pakistani immigrants, and France Arab immigrants. Even after a new generation is born in England and France, they are still perceived as foreigners. We also have the same problem, only with Mexico - we created a coast to coast nation at the expense of Mexico, and for generations have treated Mexicans as third class people. Now Mexicans feel that the US is their land - they once owned part of what is now US land, and they helped build the southwest, and are now an indispensible part of our economy. The problem is racism, and the desire by European whites in the US to feel superior to other races (African Americans and Hispanic Latinos). In Scotland, this Pakistani family is foreign and has a difficult (impossible) task of truly integrating into Scottish society.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

This version of the book came out in 2004, and William Hurt and Donald Sutherland play cameo roles. The movie is very accurate to the book by mary shelley. The "monster" is portrayed as a confused being, questioning his existence, learning about the world, and quickly realizing that there is a God. He senses that he is a freak, an abomination, and wants Frankenstein (a young student in this film) to create him a mate, so they can go away and live alone, perhaps have children. The monster ends up killing a child (oops) then turns on his creater (his "father"). The movie starts as a flashback: an ice bound ship in the artic notices two men on dog sleds. One struggles and is rescued - Frankenstein - and he tells the story of how he arrived in the artic - chasing his monster to destroy it. The movie is very long, over 3 hrs, and could have been edited better. Some of the scenes jump as though the editing job was rough. Great sets and period costumes.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Nice hat.

What gets me is the spin the White House puts on the white tie dinner with the Queen - that Laura Bush had to twist George's arm to wear a tuxedo with tails. Its the old "class war" spin from the 2000 and 2004 elections: Bush is a regular down to earth guy, a rancher from Texas, likes bologna and cheese sandwiches on white bread, simple plain talking guy, "I'm not into nuance" he once said.

His opponents are the wealthy, the elite, the guys who look down on blue collar america, the people who eat sushi and dont buy clothes at K-mart.

But Bush led an elite, ivy league life where he got a free pass for everything, from getting admission to Yale (C student), to Harvard (MBA) to getting into Air National Guard in 1968 - to getting loans from his dad's rich friends to start bullshit businesses that always failed, to getting elected Gov of Texas with no campaign issues (Karl Rove made them up - crime is up, delinquents are ruining our state, education is poor - none of that was true), to getting the election rigged in 2000 and 2004. And he is sooo common that his wife has to force him to get dressed up for the Queen.....and the press buys this crap. No reporter challenges it - they report the spin.

And what's with the hats?

"La vie est un naufrage"

"Life is a shipwreck." What an incredible French line. Fascinating french film about a group of eccentric guests at a Parisian boarding house in 1913 (or 1912 and one, as they superstitiously say). Julie leaves her young son and travels to Paris to be a chambermaid at a run down boarding house. She soon has an affair with a German writer, who is complete jerk, gets her pregnant, tells her he can't stand her in order to force her to have an abortion, then runs off with a rich American woman. Its Europe on the edge of WWI - a fascinating time. No one forsees the devastation about to happen. The smugness of the rich, the endurance of the poor, no one connected to one another, the inherent human phoniness - all a backdrop for the impending Great War. Julie is single because....her husband was killed on the Titanic, traveling to America to begin a new life for them. "La vie est un naufrage" she says, "Life is a shipwreck." Qui. I managed to get about 20 foreign films, mostly from France, at church last sunday, someone works at a video store, and they received promotional DVD's for foreign films (which they dont buy). I am watching some great films - set in Glasgow, Barcelona - all over Europe.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson - classic monty python

This is really funny...I am selling my house, so instead of Mark "One Shed" Daniels, I will be Mark "no sheds" daniels....

The classic monty python Hitler sketch

very funny Hitler is disguised as Mr. Hilter, who lives at an english boarding house. "I am not a racialist, but...and this is a big but..." Take off on a right wing british politician who opposed the multicultural immigration policies of the 1970's.

Axe commercial: every man's fantasy!

Here is a great Axe commercial - can't figure out where it ran. I have never seen it on tv.

Republicans who don't believe in evolution

Three of the republican candidates for Pres do not believe in evolution: Brownback (nut case from Kansas) Huckabee (babdist from Arkansas, thats how they pronounce Baptist there) and Tancredo (who?). Just when you thought the dumbest guy in the world is Pres, we find dumber guys who want the job. Americans get the President they deserve....

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Americans' knowledge of the world - an Australian perspective

Here is a Australian video report on Americans' knowledge of the world, forwarded to me by one of my students. Thanks Dan Snyder!