Archive for June, 2005

Phony War

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Becky and I just got back from seeing War of the Worlds, and I gotta say, I was quite disappointed. But before I explain why, I have to ask… after all the talk about supposed political allegories in Star Wars Episode III, why haven’t I heard more about the line in this movie where Tim Robbins’s character says, “Occupations never work, ten thousand years of history has taught us that!“ Nothing in Star Wars was that blatant! (Of course, Tim Robbins’s character is kind of crazy, so I don’t know if his saying that line conveys an anti-war or pro-war message. I’m sure Robbins enjoyed saying it, though, loony liberal that he is. :)

Anyway… like I said, the movie was disappointing. [WARNING: Spoilers ahead!] There were definitely a number of absolutely brilliant scenes, some of which were big CGI spectacles (like the burning train) while others were more intimate (like Dakota Fanning’s character stumbling upon dozens of bodies floating down the river). Steven Spielberg really knows how to shoot a movie, and there are many moments — sweeping, epic scenes and fleeting camera angles alike — where it definitely shows. But ultimately, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t make myself like War of the Worlds. In addition to a number of bothersome plot holes (why did that one guy’s video camera still work?!?) and a massively anticlimactic ending, what this movie suffers from most is a failure of the human element: War of the Worlds does not adequately or accurately portray how people would actually act in a situation like this.

An awful lot of the human reactions to the unfolding crisis are just totally unrealistic, IMHO. For example, is there really anyone on Earth stupid enough to stand out in the yard while what looks like a super-cell thunderstorm that could produce a tornado at any moment spins in the sky almost directly overhead? Even I’m not that crazy, yet in the movie, everybody just stands there and stares at the storm (which, of course, turns out to be even more sinister than a super-cell). Similarly, when the alien-induced “earthquake” devastates the intersection where “lightning” had struck 26 times a few minutes earlier, people keep inexplicably standing around and watching, in some cases backing up a few feet and then turning around and watching some more, when anybody in their right mind would, oh I don’t know, RUN FOR THEIR LIVES!


Fly, you fools!!!

Later, as people realize what is happening and actually do start fleeing from the horror, Spielberg fails to capture the nuanced emotional state that tends to take hold in a situation like that. I’d call it “controlled panic”: when the world is falling apart, e.g. on 9/11, yes there are some people who totally lose it, and yes there are some who become totally numb, but many, many people fall in between these two extremes, barely holding themselves together, looking wild-eyed and panicky but doing what they think they have to do to survive. In Spielberg’s world, however, everyone seems to toggle back and forth between total numbness and total panic. When nothing bad is happening, the fleeing refugees look almost bored; then when something bad happens, they all totally panic. And then they go back to looking bored afterwards. Sorry, but I just don’t buy it. That’s not how people are. (And while we’re on the subject of “how people are,” where was religion in this movie? Wouldn’t an awful lot of people, even in New York, react to an alien attack by reaching out to God? Shouldn’t there at least be an obligatory Christian who gets zapped by a heat ray while kneeling in the street doing a rosary?)

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An Indiana-Illinois border war

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Now this is just classic. Some residents of a wealthy neighborhood in western Hammond, Indiana want to build a six-inch-high curb — “with no breaks to allow turns onto side streets” — on the grassy median in the middle of State Line Road, which demarcates the border with a less wealthy neighborhood of Calumet City, Illinois.

The Hammondites have “noticed a spike in thefts and too many cars speeding through their oasis of stately homes to avoid lights on busier streets,” so they have sent their curb proposal — which the Chicago Tribune calls the “Great Curb of Hammond” — to their city’s wonderfully named mayor, Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush.

The proposal has caused a considerable amount of consternation, and even allegations of class warfare. Money quote:

“Hammond thinks we’re the riffraff over here,” said Calumet City resident Carolyn Bryan, who complained that the barrier would force her to drive several minutes out of her way to get to her daughter’s house in Indiana. “Hammond still has their criminals too,” Bryan said.

LOL!

It seems the Great Curb proposal is turning brother against brother, father against son… or, at the very least, neighbor against neighbor: “Along the divide, neighbors who favor the curb have begun avoiding neighbors who oppose it,” the Tribune reports. Pro-curb Hammond resident Kent Gurley says the barrier “has nothing to do with class warfare and everything to do with the ‘urban terror’ being waged against residents on his side of the state line.” Anti-curb Hammondite Jean Burns responds, “I’ve never experienced urban or suburban terror here,” and adds, “I thought we lived in America, not in Iran.” And then there’s this guy:

“I have to live next door to these people,” one pro-curb resident of Hammond said on condition of anonymity, referring to his neighbors. “I don’t really want them to know I’m for the curb.”

Again… LOL!

Jean Burns is wrong about one thing: this sort of thing would never happen in Iran, or anywhere else. Only in America. God bless America. :)

Quote of the day

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

“Do you want to help give Cheney his heart attack?”

Looney LaRouchie trying to accost random passer by outside the University Bookstore.

Wowzers at Wimbledon

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Be careful lady, it looks like this guy is trying to sling-shot you outta the tournament.

Hippity hop

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

There’s a kangaroo on the loose in South Bend! (Hat tip: Peppi.)

A girl named Maria

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

ESPN The Magazine cover girl, Canon PowerShot model and major tennis hottie — oh, and, uh, defending Wimbledon champion and #2 seed — Maria Sharapova lost to #14-seed Venus Williams in a Wimbledon semifinal upset today.

That minor technicality, however, is not going to stop me from acceding to popular demand:

Maria… :)

Her title defense at Wimbledon may be over, but she can still wimble my don anytime. (I have no idea what that means…)

THIS JUST IN!

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Spain passed nationwide approval of gay marriage today, beating out Canada as the third country in the world to approve it!! Sorry Canucks, you’re shooting for #4.

Arrrrrrr, ye scurvy wags

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Pirates ahoy! Tsunami relief booty was siezed off the coast of Nairobi.

Drown em like puppies!

The hills of Phoenix are burning

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Arizona’s second largest wildfire has turned away from the northern tip of the valley and is threatening the tiny communities of Pine and Strawberry. My parents mentioned that as my brother was driving to town from Los Angeles two nights ago, he could see the flames from the fire from more than 60 miles away. My parents also mentioned that there’s another wildfire in the Superstitions, much closer to their home. They sent us a picture of the smoke a few days ago, which I’m sure Brendan will add to this post when he wakes up (POKE POKE).

In other Phoenician news, if you are going to drive drunk, don’t T-bone a police car.

UPDATE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Here’s that photo:

And on an unrelated note, here’s another photo from Becky’s parents, showing a rattlesnake on their swimming pool cover:

Uh, can they do that?

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Rhode Island legislators voted 33-1 to legalize medical marijuana, despite the recent SCOTUS ruling stipulating that such laws were unconstitutional.

A pay raise worth complaining about

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Although some believe that teachers are being greedy with their requests for pay raises (cost of living raises really), the real outrage should come from the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives just agreed to a $3,100 “cost of living” pay raise. Under the current law, each house has to vote to decline the yearly raise, although individual members can (and some do) turn it down. The current base salary of congressmen is $158,100 per year. This is almost 3.4 times the average teacher’s salary.

In addition, leadership positions earn even more. Majority and Minority leaders make $175,600 in both houses, and the Speaker of the House makes a whopping $203,000 a year.

Congressmen who serve at least 20 years are also eligible for the federal pension plan.

Those crazy congressmen…

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Having solved the bigger problems of our struggling economy, the war on terrorism, world hunger, etc., some congressmen are thinking of revoking MLB’s anti-trust exemption because liberal financier George Soros is considering a bid to purchase the Washington Nationals. (NOTE: Scroll down; it’s the third story on the page.)

Will you join in our crusade?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

FREE GARDEN GNOMES! Screw Gitmo prisoners.

SCOTUS gossip: Rehnquist out next week, Luttig to replace him?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

The Supremes are always unpredictable when it comes to announcing their retirements, but RedState.org contributor Erick Erickson, a Georgia attorney and political consultant, has a source (or so he says) who is telling him some juicy Supreme Court gossip:

Rehnquist is out. It’ll happen on or about July 5. … POTUS [Bush] is leaning toward [Michael] Luttig.

If, however, O’Connor beats CJ to the White House (though POTUS & Co., Inc. does not expect her till Labor Day), we go with [Emilio] Garza first and Luttig second.

Hat tip: Alex Talcott, who points out that Garza is a Double Domer; he got his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Notre Dame.

More after the jump.

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A very late lunch-break update

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

As noted below, I got a little side-tracked from my plan to post a lunch-break update this afternoon. Here are some of the things I would have blogged about:

  • France to attempt nuclear fusion; surrender expected imminently. (Hat tip: Mike.)

  • New York legislator sends out email calling constituents “idiots,” then sends out second email apologizing. Which one do you think was more genuine? :)

  • Tom Cruise doesn’t believe in chemical imbalances (even though he appears to have one), but he does believe in aliens. [Hey, wait a minute… that could also explain it… -ed.]

  • New York officials announce new design for WTC “Freedom Tower”; security-proofed to be the “safest skyscraper in the world.”

  • Civil War historian Shelby Foote, made famous by Ken Burns’s PBS The Civil War series (which is something of a cult classic in the Loomer-Loy household), has died at age 88. Mary Chestnut could not be reached for comment.

  • Super Bowl Champion Vladimir Putin? (Fark headline: “So this is how World War III begins, with the Russian President stealing a Super Bowl ring, just as the oracle had fortold.”)

  • Tropical Storm Bret hits Mexico.

  • Heat wave bakes Illinois, Indiana.

  • Shark washes up on beach in New York City. Jets unable to be reached for comment.

  • Utah’s Andrew Bogut goes #1 in the NBA Draft, making Utah the first school ever to have top picks in both the NBA and NFL drafts in the same year. (Fark headline: “School celebrates by planning on losing to University of Kentucky next NCAA tourney.”)

  • Supreme Court to decide abortion-protest case next term. (Hat tip: Briandot.)

  • The Brits had nukes with them when they invaded the Faulklands in 1982. “Sovereignty, sir. Ours.”

  • Worst American Idol contestant ever, William Hung, to collaborate on new album with Achy Breaky Heart singer Billy Ray Cyrus. (Fark headline: “Scientists fear collision of two self-parody media footnotes could create black hole of suckage so strong, it could destroy the universe.”)

  • And, last but not least… Joe Loy has been called to appear for jury duty at New Britain Superior Court on August 19. A suggestion, Dad: if you want to avoid getting picked, just bring along a printout from pretty much any comment-thread on the blog and show it to the judge. :)

Okay, that’s it. But be honest: who got the Sharks/Jets reference and double entendre?