Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Was The Message, Again?

Whatever one may think of their views, you gotta give the PETA people props for some of the coolest attention getting demonstrations.

In this latest demonstration, two hotties take a nude shower on a public street in Hollywood, making a statement about how sharing showers with good looking babes saves more water for the animals... or something like that.

Whatever, as long as the chicks are hot, who really cares what they're thinking anyway?


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kill The Irishman

I was intrigued by the title first, then I did little WTH? sleuthing and decided that I had to see this one, even if it did require a 50 mile drive into Orange County.

Kill The Irishman (I love that title) chronicles the rise and fall of crime boss Danny Greene, centering on events leading up to his assassination and subsequent collapse of the Cleveland mafia.
I was a little young to remember details of all this, but I do remember that it happened, and the headlines of the time.

Accordingly, the films characters portray the real life individuals of this drama, but since I have zero knowledge as to the personalities connected to the names and am unable to judge how well the actors lived up to their roles, I'll just call 'em as I saw 'em...
  • Danny Greene: Large and muscular, with a big set of balls. An 'alpha' kind of guy. Men and women are drawn to him out of respect, fear, admiration or a combination of all three. The kind of guy you didn't mess with, but also contained a rare bit of goodness in him. Played by Ray Stevensen. I'd say he pulled this off quite well without over doing it.
  • Shondor Burns: a Jewish loan shark and nightclub operator, played by Christopher Walken. walkien is supposedly a good actor, especially with the gangster/strong man boss roles. Still, every time he opened his mouth all I saw was .... from True Romance, and this scene kept returning to my mind.
  • Joe Manditski: a detective and /acquaintance/friend of Greene, who also serves as narrator. Played by Val Kilmer. Unconvincing, Kilmer is better than this, much better. I guess the role wasn't that meaty to begin with.
  • Joan Madigan: Greene's wife. Loyal yet suspicious, she eventually leaves him in disgust over his activities. Portrayed by Linda Cardellini, who is cute.
  • John Nardi: Union racketeer, loyal ally and jock sniffer of Greene. Portrayed by Vincent D'Onofrio in the wussiest depiction of a mobster I've ever seen. Lame and unconvincing.
  • Ellie O'Hara: Greene's post-wife girlfriend, played by Laura Ramsey. Seems her main purpose here is to appear really cute and flash an impressive rack. She pulls it off with aplomb.
  • Ray Ferritto: Hitman, and first domino that led to the whole Cleveland mob being brought down. Played by Robert Davi doing his type of thing.
Things I liked:
  • Period appropriate architecture and cityscaping: It seems to have been filmed in the Cleveland of the 70's, but it was actually filmed in Detroit. I assume it's because Detroit hasn't built anything or upgraded their city since the 70's. (Still, it would have been nice to have it filmed in the city it is set in, especially when it concerns such recent history. OK, recent to me and you. A lot less recent for Tully, my inactive co-blogger and native Clevelander.)
  • Automotive Porn: A feast for my eyes showcasing lot's and lot's of American made, 60-70's era cars. Of all makes and models. So now you know where my car gene resides: Right here, in this era. I love the look and feel of these machines, and still miss my Gran Torino, my Cordoba, my Rambler and my Maverick and would be thrilled to have any one of them back and sitting in my garage again.
  • Celtic Music: Pipes touch the soul, and nothing accentuates the subtlety of a minor dramatic moment like an appropriately placed skirl in the 'background'.
Criticisms (yeah, here it comes...): Danny Greene fancied himself a Celtic warrior under the protection of the Saints, and wore his Irish pride like a royal robe. If anything, he was a white trash thug wearing a cheap green suit. Any romantic presentation of his life does a disservice to the decent and hard-laboring Irish descendants whom he routinely stole from.
And those Irish who took pride in one of 'their own' and cheered him on disgrace their heritage, their culture, and their Faith.

What's more, this film's release was intentionally scheduled to coincide with St. Patrick's Day in cities with a large Irish presence, in an obvious attempt to cash in on Irish pride as it currently manifests in this country. As a hesitant-to-admit Irish descendant and a Catholic in the Celtic tradition, I find this source of 'pride' to be pathetic, disgraceful, and an offense to everything St. Patrick stood for and taught to the people he dedicated his life to.
My word to some of the Irish: if such a vile man amongts you is estimable, then God bless Cromwell.

In closing...
Though not the best production for the silver screen cause it seems to lack the grandness of vision one would expect for something intended for the theaters, and would be more suitable as a cable production, HBO or something, the direction was tight, the story well told and not once did my mind wander while the screenplay kept my interest.
It's a solidly entertaining movie that I heartily recommend to anybody and everybody with one caveat... it's a limited release that may not be in your market just yet, unless you live among the Irish hordes. If that's the case, don't trip over any drunks passed out in the aisles. And don't wear green, or somebody might think you're one of them.

The View From My Chair

Back in 1984, Walter Mondale began the hopelss quest to unseat Ronald Reagan for the Presidency. Reagan was, for all intents and purposes, bullet-proof, and Mondale needed a hat-trick and a miracle if he was to have any chance at all of not looking like a fool.

Geraldine Ferraro was a respected member of the House of Representives when Mondale tapped her as his running mate, cementing her place in history as a trailblazer for women in politics, and a new feminist icon.

I find this ironic. Mondale only picked Ferraro out of hope that this hat-trick would sway enough women to his ticket. He needed a bold move to go with his miracle. This was it.

This where the irony comes in. Where Ferraro not in possession of female sexual parts upon which to be judged, she would never have been been tied to a politically sucessful man who blazed the trail for feminists to give her credit for.
Feminism can be so silly sometimes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles

It's always Los Angeles or New york isn't it? The aliens never land and do battle in Fort Smith or Poplar Bluff. I wonder why that is... and the aliens always have to pick the most populated places to wage war. You'd think war would look easier with fewer humans to contend with...

Battle: Los Angeles is a lot like some things you've seen before. Alien beings invade large American city, and don't much enjoy the welcome they receive. This time, they are met by a team of United States Marines led by SSgt Michael Nantz.

Nantz and crew are dropped behind enemy lines on a mission to rescue some civilians who have been stranded before the whole sector gets obliterated with air strikes. The combat is mostly house to house, street by street, and filmed kind of like in a documentary style. It's gritty and dirty and up close, and almost beginning to end, save for a small dramatic bullshit scene where a bunch of tough marines show their feelings. Yeah, they could've cut that shit out.

Oh, and I can't forget the frequent references to the U.S. Marines, and their fighting spirit. Much was made of that... so much, that I'm tempted to believe the U.S.M.C. traded technical assistance in exchange for free recruiting soundbites. Could it be? Nah, that's not possible, is it?

In summary: Grab a soda and popcorn and enjoy the show. Nothing artistic or moralizing about this one. Instead, you get a whole lot of whizbangboom for the buck, and much better than the last whizbangerboomer I saw some months ago... what was it? ... yeah, the Expendables, that over-hyped loser with a bunch of geriatric action heroes from the 80's.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I am now getting Facebook requests and personal messages from relatives I've never known existed and living in three different countries. It would be nicer if they'd all write in English...
But it's good to be loved, even if it's by those who don't know me.
(which may explain a lot...)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sriracha... in To Go packets.

The world has just gotten a little bit better.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Now What?

I've already stated that the United States should not be involving itself in the revolutions/upheavals currently taking place in the Arab world.
Still, I find myself rooting for the Libyan rebellion as it seeks to oust it's dictator and while I'm not happy about the 'no-fly' zone as it involves United States resources I will openly admit that I'm less unhappy than I should be.

But what are we to do concerning similar Arab rebellions? Are we now gonna do the consistent thing for the Bahrainis? Syrians? I hear the Palestinians are beginning to become unrestful toward their rulers as well (and then there are the other immediate rulers in Tel Aviv...). How about the Yemenis, the Saudis...?

In my opinion, we've not exactly set a proper course here. It would help if the administration actually had a policy from which to work from, but it doesn't.
I think President Obama doesn't have a firm clue of what direction he wants to go in.
As it is now, this die is cast:
We are in Libya.
What's the endgame? Where is the standard of victory? If Gadhafi still succeeds in crushing the rebellion despite the 'no fly zone', what to do next?
It doesn't seem wise do military engagements without deciding who the loser will be, and by siding to protect a rebellion, you have decided against the regime, and should be committed to it's defeat.
Boots on the ground, maybe, if things don't go 'our' way? If not, why not?

I would feel differently if this was all to get Gadhafi for the slaughter of American civilians over Lockerbie, but that was over twenty year ago. By doing nothing during that time, we've essentially said that it wasn't that big of a deal. I disagree. It should have been a bigger deal than we made it.
(Were I in charge, Gadhafi would have been targeted a long time ago.)
Maybe it's the justice for Lockerbie angle that has me less upset about our involvement at the moment.

One thing I do know, we should be very wary of where the latest spin on the Obama Doctrine is taking us. Or is this just another Bush policy he's adopting after getting elected by criticizing it?
That is, if there is an Obama Doctrine. I have this feeling that he just pulls it out of his ass, reads the smear marks as if tea leaves, and goes from there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Have Nigerian Princes Crossed The Atlantic?

The caller I.D. says 'Jamaica.'
Who could be calling me from Jamaica?

"HELLO, MR. R-!" (His voice is loud, and that funny English, Jamaican sounding...)

What do you want?


What do you want???




Get real.


Uh huh, you gonna drive it from Jamaica?


You are in Jamaica, yes?


California's a big place...


I don't live in Los Angeles.


Dude, I'm done with you. Go fuck with somebody else.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No Nukes

After growing up in the 70's and 80's, fresh from the danger and lies of Three-Mile Island, and later Chernobyl, I thought that I was getting over my fear of nuclear power.
I was starting to believe the claims of some commentators that things are/can be different now. Technology is better, nuke plants are safer... yadda yadda... and all that.

With all this Japan stuff happening now, and I still see attempts at disinformation, incomplete facts, actions not matching the rhetoric...

I've come to the conclusion that it is all bullshit. Nothing as potentially deadly as a nuclear reactor can be assumed 'safe', and anything with this level of potential danger is not, and should not, be considered a viable source of power.

I'm joining the hippies now and coming down fully on the "NO NUKES" side of this debate. I may be wrong. But I'd rather be wrong in opposing nukes than be wrong in supporting them. It's an easy choice for me now.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Go and read Brian's post and check out the video.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nat Geo Keeps It Real

We always had a few chickens in the yard when i was kid. At times, even more than that. Mostly hens for the eggs, but a new rooster every now and again as well.
Generally, we kept bantam roosters or some other less agitated breed that made some noise without being overly aggressive, but there were a few of the bigger breeds as well. The Jungle Fowl rooster was a large beautiful bird, strong plumage and a real strutter. Fun to watch, but mean as all hell.

I still have the memories of being attacked as a kid, and more than one of these roosters ended up in the pot after my dad had got tired of it's shit. Still, he always seemed to end up with another Jungle Fowl eventually. He really liked that breed of rooster.

I'm reminded of this while watching Nat Geo last nite, and a segment about cockfighting in some Asian poverty state, Burma, Thailand, Indo... one of those places.
With Nat Geo, the camera doesn't blink, and the viewer was treated to the actual cockfight footage: blood and death. And not the sanitized version, either.
I found myself attracted to the poetry and grace of these feathered pugilists as they sought to rip the other to shreds.

I can see why people still engage in this sport despite it being illegal most places in this country. So...
What's the big deal? It's just chickens.
If it's perfectly cool to keep chickens penned up in factory farms, for a life span measured in weeks, before getting slaughtered en mass, I would think that keeping and pampering a bird for a couple of years, letting it walk around the yard a bit, before allowing it a fighting chance to cheat death in the ring, the kind and manner of death that nature intended for it, would be far more humane.

I'm suggesting that maybe we need to reconsider our laws as they pertain to this matter.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why Japan Is An Economic Power

See? It's the work ethic.
Instead of running for safety, there they are... still on the job.

At least they saved the liquor shelf!

On a serious note...
The House Of Shreds extends it's prayers and well wishes to the people of Japan who's lives and fortunes have been devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Worst Commercial Ever

So stupid, it had me laughing.

Monday, March 7, 2011

No Fly? No Way.

So, Libya is in turmoil and the dictator is fighting back against the rebels. The government is using air power to bomb civilians and keep the insurrection at bay.

Talk is of a United Nations 'No Fly' zone. The rebels having even been asking for one. Some have suggested that the United States needs to take the lead, unilaterally if need be.

Though it is tempting to drop a few bombs and shoot down some planes if it means the end of another brutal regime, I have some reservations.
I think President Obama is doing the right thing for the most part, with his cautious approach to the regional upheavals, not committing the U.S. to anything more than as a cheerleader.

Let's keep doing what we are doing, which is basically not very much.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Tarnished Tongue

Few can match the gift of gab that has been endowed upon Mike Huckabee. For years, from his time as a leader in the Southern Baptist Church, his entry into GOP politics and leading up to the present day this silver tongued talent has too often had his way with audiences.

The guy is good. Occasionally, even I will tune into his show on FNC, knowing the dude is a charlatan, just to hear his take on a particular political or cultural issue. He has a gifted way with words that I appreciate (gotta give him credit for that) whether I agree with it or not.

More recently, not all has been going well in the Huckster Paradise that has become Huckabee's career. Last week, he had bloviating about President Obama's childhood growing up in Kenya (he attributes this to fatigue) and is now under attack for 'blaming Natalie Portman for sending a bad example' to the nation's breeders.

I don't think The Huck has done a sufficient job of squirming out of the Obama=Kenya stuff, but I'll defend him by saying that his Natalie-Preggo comments have been taken out of context.

The good news in all this: I think these two incidents should be sufficient enough to take him out of any presidential contention in the future. And that is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Thoughts

When it comes to free speech, the right to it was never intended to be a free-for-all, any time, any place type of thing. I believe that there is a time and a place to say certain things, and a time when there isn't.
This goes beyond the proverbial yelling of "Fire!" in crowded theater. I'm sure most would agree that while movies like "Deep Throat" might be protected, child pourne should not be. Likewise, the right to show, or to view "Deep Throat" has it's limitations as to time and place. (Like, maybe not at a drive-in movie theater located within a residential neighborhood?)

Free Speech was intended to allow political/cultural ideas to see the light of day. I whole heartedly defend this concept, and would not want to live in a society where it wasn't. That said...
I think the Phelps' have had their times in the light, and plenty of it, with more to come should they choose it, to deliver the warning message about American faggery. If anything, the one thing that hasn't been violated is their Right to Free Speech.

Still, I can't see where the First Amendment applies to the targeting of a family in their most terrible of moments of grief. Like I said, there are times and places for free speech, and these need to be recognized. Though I believe as strongly as any proper thinking American in this right, somethings... such an an proper/improper time and place, if you ask me, should be respected.

Listening to various commentary the last two days, it appears the me that this case was decided along a rather narrow view, pertaining to the one particular instance as opposed to the overall assholishness of the Phelps clan.
This is probably as it should be, and though I find myself in agreement with the decision itself, I absolutely disagree with who the victors should have been.

Also, it's hard to argue with a near unanimous decision that puts Ginsberg and Scalia in the majority, but I give props to Alito for doing so. And Alito has made a good point or two that are worthy of some reflection.

I don't come to this issue disinterested. You all know that my brother serves, and has done his times in the war zones. He's close enough to the shit to have lost friends. It has entered my mind that there is a chance of myself personally experiencing the abuse of the Phelps family. My dearly departed sister had once ridden with the Patriot Guard for the funeral of an Orange County soldier. She'd told me just how vile these Phelps people (and I use the term loosely) are in person, and how the news footage is no exaggeration.

Given all this, its easy to think that an act of brutal violence committed against the Phelps' would be a good and righteous thing. I'm not so sure I'd be the one to do it, but it sure does piss me off to know that they've gotten away with it all this time, and for the foreseeable future, likely will continue to do so...

My final two-cents: it's a sad day indeed when the rights guaranteed within, and to, a polite society are abused in such a way as to hold that same society hostage by barbarians.