Archive for June, 2011

Random Excellent Item of the Day
June 28, 2011

In commemoration of the 3D rerelease of the best game ever. A dozen years later, even that garrulous fairy retains a certain charm.

Advertisements

This raises two points
June 27, 2011

“…the type of leadership that Mr. Cuomo exercised — setting a lofty goal, refusing to take no for an answer and using every tool at his disposal to achieve it — is reminiscent of the stories sometimes told about with President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had perhaps the most impressive record of legislative accomplishment of any recent president.

It’s also a brand of leadership that many Democrats I speak with feel is lacking in President Obama.”

1. Andrew Cuomo had a real life Jed Bartlet moment – he said, “this is the right thing to do, we’re going to do it for no other reason than because it’s the right thing to do and I’m not going to let up until we do it” and he got it done.

Recently I’ve tried to ease up on Obama, to be more understanding that politicians must often “campaign in poetry and govern in prose” (a maxim that came, appropriately enough, from the first Governor Cuomo.) And I get that Cuomo is the chief executive of New York, a solid blue state with its head mostly screwed on straight, whereas Obama is the chief executive of fifty states, many of which have their heads tightly screwed up their asses. But still, any comparison between the two looks pretty unflattering for the President right now.

2. LBJ was the fucking man and we should acknowledge that more often.

Our long national nightmare is over
June 19, 2011

Five months was too long, Keith. Let’s never be apart again.

Fiscal responsibility party!
June 18, 2011

Fan. Fucking. Tastic.

Pithy Republican Takedown of the Day
June 16, 2011

Conservatives now espouse ideas drawn from abstract principles with little regard to the realities of America’s present or past… They resemble the old Marxists, who refused to look around at actual experience. “I know it works in practice,” the old saw goes, “but does it work in theory?”

– Fareed Zakaria writing in Time magazine

And that’s it, isn’t it? Conservatism has undergone a foundational shift – whereas it once stood for patience, prudence and a thoughtful examination of the practical effects of government policies (in its academic, non-bigoted variant, anyway) it is now strictly the province of close-minded, ignorant fundamentalists, wholly unconcerned with how their ideas play out in reality beyond abstraction. The idea has become an end in itself.

Tax cuts will raise revenues because they will. Deregulation will create jobs because it will. Privatized healthcare is better because it is.

This is not the thought process of a political movement – it is that of a religion:

“Being gay/an atheist/having an abortion/sex before marriage is evil!”
“Why?”
“The Magic Book has always said so!”

There’s your unifying bond between the two otherwise dissimilar groups that make up the Republican Party – those that alternatively worship at the altar of the dollar and those that worship at that of the Lord. The fundamentalist mindset, the ironclad certitude in what they know and damn the external realities that say otherwise: these are the ties that bind. They’re all just birds of a fundie feather.

It was fun while it lasted
June 12, 2011

When you take a “leave of absence” to enter horndog rehab whilst your party’s leadership throws you under the bus the question of resignation is no longer “if” but “when.”

So a preemptive goodbye to Anthony Weiner, who was just about everything a Jew Yorker like myself could’ve wanted in a congressman: a sarcastic, loudmouthed, uncompromising and unapologetic liberal. Whether it was lacerating Republicans for blocking health benefits for the 9/11 first responders or calling the spade of all spades, that the GOP is “a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry,” Weiner was the rare Democrat with the intestinal fortitude to take to the House floor and tell Republicans to sit down, listen and shut the fuck up.

As someone who wholeheartedly embraces northeastern liberal elitism I took particular pride in having a congressional representative who embodied the tradition. Anthony Weiner suffered no fools and countenanced no timidity – he was the rarest of commodities, a representative you could be genuinely proud to have represent you.

If Nancy Pelosi had a dick she’d be Anthony Weiner (there’s a nice mental image for ya.) I can pay the congressman no better compliment. Have a good life, Tony.

Watch This Shit
June 7, 2011

There’s a scene early on in X-Men: First Class where one out mutant defiantly tells a closeted one that they should be “mutant and proud.” The garish aphorism is repeated near the end of the film, and in between we’re treated to a too cute by half reference to the US military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

Aside from these two uncharacteristic slipups, First Class’ execution is damn near perfect, every bit the taut amalgam of pulp social commentary and visceral action that X2 pulled off eight years ago and that the series has struggled to recapture since. That the few on the nose stumbles stick out so much is a testament to how deftly the rest of the movie spins its delightful revisionist take on how a bunch of genetic freaks in spandex helped defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis.

See, it was the X-Men and not President Kennedy that jerked the world back from the brink of nuclear war in 1962, and it wasn’t even really that the Soviets were jonesing for a fight – they were manipulated and bullied by the Mengele-inspired Nazi doctor Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon.) And yes, an alternate take on a Cold War flashpoint with Kevin Bacon gnashing on scenery as the evil puppetmaster behind it all is as totally fucking ridiculous and awesome as it sounds.

Shaw’s a big proponent of mutant superiority, to the point where he wants to wipe out humanity in the fires of war and repopulate the earth exclusively with his own kind. He was also a big proponent of torturing little kids in concentration camps, an activity perhaps not quite so benign when the kid in question can manipulate magnetic fields and is now grown up and hunting down ex-Nazis Mossad-style.

As the future Magneto Michael Fassbender is the gift that keeps on giving stealing every scene he’s a part of. With his single-minded quest for vengeance belied by an inner anguish he makes one wish George Lucas could call for a do-over with his last two Star Wars prequels and cast Fassbender in the Anakin Skywalker role. He would’ve knocked it out of the park.

He’s matched by Jame McAvoy’s Charles Xavier, whose take on Professor X is one we’ve yet to see: sagely, but also impish and filled with idealistic naivete. The simmering Martin Luther King/Malcolm X-esque dynamic essayed by McAvoy and Fassbender does justice to that of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan in the earlier films; both actors disinvite unflattering comparisons by never trying to directly ape their predecessors. Fassbender has Magneto’s rage but not his heartlessness. McAvoy shows Xavier’s compassion but lacks his world-weariness. They play these younger versions of the characters as still in their formative years, recognizable in whom they’ll grow to become but with a ways to go before they get there.

It’s these three actors and two dynamics (Magneto/Xavier and Magneto/Shaw) upon which First Class’ human element thrives. The other mutants, the team’s young guns are all likeable enough, though none save for Beast and Mystique are fleshed out much (though the movie’s weirdly metrosexual take on Riptide is… distinctive.) This is for the best; none of them is all that integral to the plot, and too much exposition would rob it of the same hurtling narrative momentum that was also X2’s hallmark. No, First Class is expertly paced, balancing its set pieces with involving character beats and a genuinely humorous sense of humor (pay attention, Iron Man.)

First Class delivers what every comic book movie should aspire to deliver: engaging characters in a high-stakes adventure with spectacle that’s actually spectacular. If there’s one moment in the film that embodies these qualities above all it comes during the Big End Setpiece, when Magneto rips Shaw’s submarine up from the ocean depths. Not only is the moment visually inspired, it’s emotionally engrossing because it’s earned, set up by an earlier scene where Xavier, seeing his (then) friend struggle to focus his power enough to move a satellite dish helps him to reach an inner calmness somewhere between anger and serenity, between pleasure and pain. He moves the dish.

It’s a wonderful scene. X-Men: First Class is a wonderful movie. It’s fun, funny, smart, self-aware (for the very most part) and recalls its influences without ripping them off (James Bond and The Boys From Brazil most notably.) It’s the rare summer blockbuster that does the genre proud. See it.

Dear Anthony Weiner,
June 6, 2011

You’re an idiot.

I still want you as my congressman.

Don’t resign or tweet dongshots again.

Love,

Me

Americans’ feelings on CONTROVERSIAL things
June 1, 2011

This country’s full of stupid people, and here are our stupid views on things that largely fall under the category of “other peoples’ behavior that’s none of our damn business:”

We’re in decent or better shape (51% or better say it’s acceptable) when it comes to

– sex out of wedlock
– popping out a kid out of wedlock
– divorce
– The Gays
– adultery
– stem cell research
– gambling

We’re in not-so-decent or worse shape when it comes to:

– getting Kevorkianed
– abortion
pawn porn
– capital punishment
– cloning animals

So basically when it comes to sex we get things right (except for this bizarre anti-porno (66% disapproval!) proclivity), but when it comes to death we get everything wrong. It’s wrong to choose to stop a clump of cells from having a full nine month gestational period in your stomach, it’s wrong to have your doctor put you out of your own misery, but it’s right for the government to murder you if twelve random schmucks on a jury decide you deserve it.

America, where the government can kill you but it can’t give you health care. Duh, winning.