Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Council Has Spoken!

This week's results for the Watcher's Council vote are in, they've been posted over at Watcher of Weasels.  The winning council entry for the week was "Obama’s Loving Requiem For A Prominent Communist – And Mine" by Joshuapundit, and the winning non-council entry for the week was Michael Gurfinkiel's post "Great Caesar’s Ghost" over at National Review.  Congrats!

Update:  Last week's winners can be found here.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A new year, a new season of Justified

Happy New Year!  Happy as it can be anyway, considering how awful last year was and how much worse things seem to be getting for us every single day.  Sigh.

At least there's one small part of 2014 that I know I can count on being really awesome:



Season 5 of Justified sure is off to a great start.  It somehow seems to get better every single year.  It's a rare thing to see a show that consistently clicks on all cylinders the way this show does.  In a world where so many awful shows seem to limp along forever, long past the time when they should have been canceled, it's nice to see how great a show can be when the people making it actually give a shit.

Lots of other shows end up trying to use stunt casting to make up for their awful writing, but with Justified you have a terrific cast from top to bottom that's always given terrific material to work from.  Lots of new faces this season.  Michael Rapaport, Alicia Witt, Amy Smart, David Koechner, Will Sasso, Dave Foley, and Xander Berkeley will be appearing this season.  It'll be interesting to see how many of the new faces will survive this season and maybe even be back for the next one.

If you're suffering Breaking Bad withdrawal and haven't given Justified a chance yet for some strange reason, you should definitely consider catching up on the first four seasons.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Incredible Shrinking President

I swear, Barack Obama has to be the pettiest person to ever occupy the White House.  He doesn't have an ounce of humility in his whole body.  He's the sort of person who never once heard the word "no" until he was an adult, and now treats even the slightest disagreement as if it were an act of treason or terrorism.  He's the sort of person who can't handle even the most innocuous criticism, but thinks falsely accusing his opponent of giving a woman cancer is just part of the rough and tumble of politics.  He's the sort of person who would send riot police after veterans to keep them out of their own memorials just to add to the pain he wants to scapegoat Republicans for.

Obama really thought that running for president itself would be the only experience he needed to qualify for the job, just because he's so darned special.  Résumés weren't meant for people like him; those are for the little people.  It worked, though.  He got elected.  Twice.  And after five years of being the least presidential president ever, he's still campaigning.  For what, I don't know.  He can't legally run for a third term in 2016 anyway.  It's almost as if his whole presidency has just been a campaign to get his own show on MSNBC.  Why not?  He seems to get pettier with each passing day, and I don't expect him to be any less petty once he's out of office.  He'd fit right in there.

At what point will people begin to hold Obama accountable for his own failures?  Just how petty and vile does the man have to get before people finally see him for what he really is?

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Council Has Spoken!

This week's results for the Watcher's Council vote are in, they've been posted over at Watcher of Weasels.  The winning council entry for the week was "What The Media Won’t Tell You About What’s Really Going On In Egypt" by Joshuapundit, and the winning non-council entry for the week was Walter Russell Mead's post "Bambi Meets Godzilla in the Middle East" over at The American Interest.  Congrats!

Update: Last week's winners can be found here.

Update: Stupid me, I neglected to notice this great writeup that Joshuapundit did to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Watcher's Council.  Happy belated anniversary!  Man, I feel so old.  :-(

Update: Thanks for the honorable mention!

Enough with the remakes, already!

Hollywood has always loved doing remakes because it's so much easier than coming up with an original idea; however, all the remaking of movies and rebooting of franchises seems to have really gotten out of hand in recent years.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all remakes are bad.  It's just that there have been so many, and the good ones have been so few and far between.

Tim Burton's Batman was great, but Batman Returns was a pretty weak followup.  I like Tim Burton, but he's not someone you want heading up a franchise; his obsession with originality renders him utterly incapable of making two movies that can both exist within the same logical universe.  Tim Burton was then replaced by Joel Shumacher, who decided to turn Gotham City into a gay disco for some reason.  (I'm not just complaining about the nipples on the Batsuit, either.  He turned the Batmobile into a giant glowing dildo on wheels, for crying out loud.)  If there was ever a franchise that needed to make a fresh start, this was it.  With Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan showed us how to do it right.

One bad thing about a remake that gets it so right is that other people who put no thought into how great movies are actually made tend to fool themselves into thinking they could have easily done the same, and then they run out to make half-assed remakes of a hundred other things.

Another part of the problem is that more and more movies are being made based on comic books, and at some point studio execs got the stupid idea into their heads that the movies themselves should be treated more like comic books.  But they aren't the same, not to me.  If DC and Marvel want to keep reinventing their entire universes at the drop of a hat, that's fine, but please leave my movies alone, at least for a reasonable amount of time.  Please let them breathe a while and at least try to figure out what went wrong (and right) with them before you start remaking them.

Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 were both great films, but I have no idea what the hell Sam Raimi was thinking when he made Spider-Man 3.  I also don't understand what Columbia Pictures was thinking when they green-lit The Amazing Spider-Man.  I can understand wanting to start over, but why so soon, and why use a director whose prior experience comes mainly from directing music videos?

A lot of people like to dump on Ang Lee's Hulk; it did have its problems, but it's still a much better movie in my opinion than Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk.  The final confrontation at the end of Ang Lee's film made very little sense, but the rest of it was well done, and the casting was spot on.  Louis Leterrier on the other hand got almost nothing right in his film.  The backstory and exposition were badly bungled, just about every single joke fell flat, and there was no chemistry at all between Edward Norton and Liv Tyler.  (In fairness to Leterrier, some of these problems probably stemmed from Edward Norton's insistence on rewriting the script, but then why not just cast someone less meddlesome, like Eric Bana?  Really, they should have just made a sequel to Hulk that glossed over that film's problems while setting up whatever they needed to set up for The Avengers.)

And now everyone is freaking out about the news that Ben Affleck was chosen to play Batman in the next Superman movie, Batman vs. Superman.  Some of this probably comes from bitterness over Daredevil, but I think a lot of people are just apprehensive about the possibility of seeing Batman get Schumachered again, especially so soon after finally seeing the franchise reach its pinnacle.  People might also be a little leery about the idea of putting Batman in a sequel to a movie that probably shouldn't have been made in the first place.  (I haven't seen Man of Steel for myself yet, but I heard it wasn't very good.)

It'd be nice to see Christopher Nolan take off his executive producer hat for a bit and go back to directing.  I'd love to see him make a Nightwing movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a followup to his Batman trilogy; unfortunately, Nolan has said more than once that he wants his trilogy to remain a trilogy, so a Nightwing movie probably isn't in the cards.  But then why is Nolan attached as executive producer for Batman vs. Superman?  Does it mean they are planning to depart from Nolan's trilogy as much as possible in order to draw some arbitrary distinction?  I hope not, I don't think anything good can come from that.  I'd really hate to see Nolan end up being the worst thing to happen to Batman since Schumacher after having already been the best thing to happen to Batman since Burton.

Update: I'm really not a fan of The Atlantic, but I thought Nicholas Slayton had an interesting take on the potential problems surrounding Batman vs. Superman.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Council Has Spoken!

This week's results for the Watcher's Council vote are in, they've been posted over at Watcher of Weasels.  The winning council entry for the week was "Ropes Of Sand – Why The Latest Round Of MidEast ‘Peace Talks’ Will End In Failure" by Joshuapundit, and the winning non-council entry for the week was Michael Gurfinkiel's post "You Only Live Twice. Is there a future for Jewish communities in Europe?" over at Mosaic Magazine.  Congrats!

Update:  Last week's winners can be found here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A way with words

Sorry that posting has been so light here recently.  I've been reading The Lord of the Rings, which has cut into my blogging time somewhat.  It seems like every time I think about posting something it gets put on the back burner or I just end up snarking about it on Twitter instead.

At some point I'd like to do a writeup comparing what I liked about the books versus what I liked about the Peter Jackson films, but for now I just wanted to mention a passage from The Two Towers that jumped out at me.  I was quite taken with the way Tolkien chose to describe the general awfulness of the Dead Marshes:
It was dreary and wearisome. Cold clammy winter still held sway in this forsaken country. The only green was the scum of the livid weed on the dark greasy surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long-forgotten summers.
It's such a horrible place, a filthy disgusting place, yet the way Tolkien describes it sounds so poetic.  I love that contradiction.

Some people prefer The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings because the pace of The Hobbit was much quicker and it was far less verbose.  I've heard more than one person half-jokingly complain that Tolkien describes every blade of grass seen on the way to Mount Doom.  But when you can write as well as Tolkien writes, I really don't mind you taking a few extra words to describe the scenery.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Where will it end?

It's maddening to watch this vortex of scandals swirl around President Obama month after month without any of it sticking to him in any meaningful way.  The same media that desperately tried to find a scandal in every single word that came out of George Bush's mouth--even if they had to invent a few of his words themselves--can barely be bothered to acknowledge any part of Scandalpalooza.  There would be a cacophony of outrage from them the likes of which the world has never seen if even one of these many scandals had happened under Bush, but now most in the media can't even bring themselves to raise an eyebrow at something as brazen as a Watergate-style break-in.

Impeachment might be too much to hope for after the debacle that was the Clinton impeachment, but I'd like to think Obama has more to worry about here than a decline in his poll numbers; after all, he won't be able to run for a third term anyway.  Still, it would be nice if we could get an investigation into these scandals that goes somewhere other than in circles.  If this were a Coen brothers movie someone would have been run out of town on a rail by now.

And in the meantime, much to Obama's delight, we've all been tearing ourselves apart over immigration reform and freaking out over the Zimmerman trial; not that we should never talk about those things, but when we do they seem to have a way of sucking up all the oxygen and then nothing else gets talked about.

Are we really going to sit here and accept this inept corruptocracy as our new normal?  I hope people wake up.  I hope someday this godawful nightmare will finally be over.  But what will it take?  It seems like we keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it does we just find ourselves waiting for the other other shoe to drop.  I shudder to think how bad things may have to get for America before they finally start to get better again.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

RIP Jean Stapleton

This is how I'll always remember her: