Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

05/10/2010 (6:56 am)

Iron Man II

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Shelly’s boys took her to see Iron Man II for Mother’s Day (a sound choice, she majorly dug the first Iron Man film) and I tagged along. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a film during its opening week since The Empire Strikes Back. So, you get to hear my random thoughts about the film, which are scattered enough that I won’t dignify them by calling this a review.

First off, I heard that reviewers were panning the film. I’m guessing they were all progressives panning the anti-government theme; they were wrong. The film works. The crises with the super-antagonist were perhaps a little brief and not quite dire enough, but it really doesn’t matter; comic books are morality plays addressing archetypal themes, and the archetypes were clear enough.

It was deeply satisfying to hear Tony Stark tell some bloated Senator that the government could not have his invention. I don’t know if this was deliberate or if it was merely Freudian on my part, but Gary Shandling as Senator Stern from PA looked a helluva lot like Arlen Specter. Drive it right through his heart, Tony. It reminded me of an even more satisfying movie moment, this one based on a real event, when Leo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes completely embarrassed a Senate committee attempting to scold him for wasting government money in The Aviator. Bravo.

Mickey Roarke played a delicious antagonist who actually evoked some sympathy; it was masterful. Scarlett Johansson smolders as a super-heroine, as you might expect, but the costume mistress goofed on her secretary outfit and made her butt look monstrous; I’m just sayin’. I thought Terrence Howard was excellent in the first film as Lt. Col. Rhodes, and I was a little sorry they used Don Cheadle in the role for this film. For a military guy who dons an Iron Man suit, he’s too much of a pencil-necked geek; but it was ok, the suit covered for him. Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury; but then again, Samuel L. Jackson is whoever he plays in any film, he’s usually that good. Sam Rockwell… well…

Ok, lecture time, so all you lefty writers, listen up: I know this is comic book characters, and they’re icons rather than people, but nobody makes it to the top of a major corporation who is that stupid, vain, and ineffective. It just doesn’t happen. Vanity or stupidity occur sometimes, but the guys who rise to the top are effective at their core, and whatever personal weaknesses they possess never completely obliterate the effectiveness, they just season it badly. Likewise, no major corporation ever becomes major by consistently producing stuff that doesn’t work, Microsoft jokes notwithstanding. It just doesn’t happen. They get big by producing things that do work, and maybe they have some models that are problematic. Sam Rockwell, as Justin Hammer, founder and CEO of Hammer Tech, was so vain, stupid, and ineffective that merely to listen to him talk caused me pain. The character does not work. It’s an archetype that represents nothing in reality, and that makes it a waste of time and film. Quit doing that. Oratorio finis.

Dr. Zero, a Green Room poster at Hot Air, correctly identified the comic hero movies as Libertarian Fantasy in a post that’s worth at least skimming, although he really should call them Morality Plays instead. Whatever. Iron Man II is an entertaining descent into fantastic, high-tech, bang-bang shoot-em-up adventure, for which you can switch off your brain safely without having to switch it back on to filter out pernicious leftist crap. Go see it, and enjoy.

02/04/2010 (9:14 am)

Take Your Prozac and Get Back To Your Toll Booth

Here’s a review of James Cameron’s film, Avatar, that’s more worthwhile than the film itself in my humble opinion. It’s 10 minutes long, and it’s just part 1 of 2, but seriously, this is entertaining. Content warning, though; R-rated for language and a few, grisly references to the reviewer’s own, psychopathic crimes. It’s his schtick.

The best spot in the entire review starts at 1:22, with “my answering machine.”

Here’s the link to Part 2.

If you have not discovered RedLetterMedia yet, consider this a long-overdue introduction. This guy postures as some old, creepy, half-educated psychopath who happens to like sci-fi-ish films, but he’s actually a guy who knows the film industry pretty doggone well, and his video editing skills are first-rate. His 7-installment review of Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace was a primer on story and plot construction. If you haven’t seen that yet, I do recommend that you treat yourself, so here’s a link to the first installment. But I’ll warn you: 7 10-minute sessions = 70 minutes of film, and it’s R-rated like this is, for the same reasons. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

As to Avatar, I think I’ll pass. I don’t care how sweet the special effects are, if I listen to one more ball-numbing recitation of how awful white men, industrial society, and greedy corporations are, I may have to go Rambo on Massachusetts. I think my IQ drops 1.3% every time I watch that drivel from another neo-Marxist Hollywood capitalist (how do they manage being both?) Doesn’t it tell these self-righteous Church Ladies something that in order to get a society to swallow their “truth,” they have to de-educate people to the point of not being able to follow the directions on a frakkin’ can of soup????

The title of this post comes from a comment at the end of part 2 of the review that I regard as particularly appropriate: if you’re one of those who are distressed because Pandora is not a real place and you can’t go there, please — take your Prozac, get back to your toll booth, and stop giving those Hollywood snake-oil salesmen your money. I promise you’ll be happier.

01/13/2010 (3:21 pm)

100 Movies, 100 Numbers

This film clip was produced as a parody on the AMI’s Top 100 Films of All Time. It’s lines from movies containing numbers, counting down from 100 to 1. It’s like “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” for movie lovers. I can’t imagine how the filmmaker managed to find quotations for every number, even if he’s a major-league film buff; Shelly observes that he might be autistic. Whatever. I thought it was amusing, so here it is.

And oh, by the way, if you’re wondering what film some clip or other might be from, they’re all listed here.

12/11/2009 (2:12 pm)

…and a Teeny Tiny Award Mention

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My post about the joint, front-page editorial on Monday to open the Copenhagen Climate Change meeting, entitled “56 World Newspapers: ‘Scandal? What Scandal?’” was nominated for a weekly award at Watcher of Weasels by my blog-buddy over at Howling Wolf, whose Wednesday post, “Obama Fails His First Test as Commander-In-Chief,” won their Council Submissions category. I tied for second place among Non-Council Submissions, but it’s never a shame to come in behind Gateway Pundit. Y’all might want to scoot over there and read the winners, ’cause they’re not half bad. Thanks for noticing, Weasel-watchers.

Now, if they can only get the name of the blog right… It’s “plumB bob blog,” and there’s no “the” at the beginning. Criminy…

11/12/2009 (5:05 pm)

The 2009 Weblog Awards

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It’s nomination time for the 2009 Weblog Awards. I’ve nominated Plumb Bob Blog (yes, I’m allowed to do that) in the categories Best Conservative Blog, Best Small Blog (blogs with Technorati ratings between 100 and 200), and Best Religious Blog. However, if you want to give PBB a little boost, feel free to visit those threads and add your approval for this blog, in one of two ways:

1) Visit the category, find the nomination for Plumb Bob Blog, and press the little green plus sign at the bottom of the nomination post. That will increase the score for that nomination.

2) Visit the category, scroll down to the bottom of the list of comments, and leave a comment yourself nominating this blog and specifying the URL here.

Clicking on the links below will take you directly to the three categories. The categories, again, are:

Best Conservative Blog

Best Small Blog
Best Religious Blog

Also, feel free to nominate the blog anywhere else you think it might apply. For that matter, go ahead and use my links to nominate some other blog. I’ll never know.

08/03/2009 (9:00 am)

Note to My Readers

wrybobI’m in the last 2 days of cranking out the first draft of a 10,000-word booklet entitled “Are Miracles Possible?” for CrossExamined.org. Consequently, I’ll not be spending much time reading the news for the next couple of days. I apologize for the lack of relevant posting that has occurred as a result of this project, and we’ve got two more days of it to go.

I will, however, post the first part of the booklet as my next installment in the “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” series. It’s a pretty technical topic, as it turns out, and may be some pretty thick reading, but it’ll have to do for the next couple of days. Enjoy, or ignore, as you prefer.

07/27/2009 (2:57 pm)

August Rush

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Here’s my review of a 2007 film that I watched a couple of nights ago, called August Rush:

The story is a fairy tale, really. A pair of musicians couple and produce a child, then fate separates them. After the mother is injured in an accident, her father deceives her into thinking the child is dead, and puts him up for adoption. The orphan, called Evan (later renamed August Rush), is a musical prodigy, and knows by faith that his music will call his family back together. He escapes the orphanage, lives on the streets in New York City, and follows the music wherever it leads him. The parents wander, search, find themselves, and magically end up at their son’s concert in Central Park.

The story has strong elements of Oliver Twist, with Robin Williams as a musically-minded Fagin. Sadly, though, the first half of the film plays more like a self-important, overly serious version of the 2001 romantic comedy, Seredipity, which wasn’t really good enough to copy. It’s in the second half, when Evan/August picks up a guitar and starts tapping and hammering, that the film takes off. The music soars. It sings. It brings tears to your eyes. The composer, Mark Mancina (who did the music for The Lion King), began by writing August’s Rhapsody, the piece that gets played at the end of the film in a manner that recalls Mr. Holland’s Opus, then merged ordinary street noise with themes from the rhapsody and weaved them into the score throughout the film. We hear the themes more clearly as August’s talent begins to stand out, first in reveries, then in guitar work (the percussive sounds of Kaki King and Heitor Pereira), then in a pipe organ solo in an old church, and eventually when he performs the rhapsody itself with the New York Philharmonic. We’re treated to lots of additional music along the way, from the parents (she plays classical cello, he writes soulful guitar ballads) and August’s acquaintances. All of it works (except Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” which did not fit and should have been cut) to hammer home the movie’s theme: music is everywhere, you just have to listen.

The weakness of the film lies in the direction of Kirsten Sheridan and the script from writers Nick Castle and James Hart. None of these have produced notable work before, and their mediocrity shows. They struggle mightily to achieve profundity, and sacrifice plausibility and coherence in the process. No, I’m not complaining that the Fate theme is too magical; but even a fairy tale needs its characters to make coherent choices, and needs to resolve the conflicts it produces. This film ignores both, frequently, and that makes it downright cheesy at times. If they’d stuck to making it coherent, it would have been profound on its own; just from the story and the sound track, the movie occasionally touches greatness.

Solid, professional performances were turned in by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Bend It Like Beckham), Keri Russell (Waitress), and Robin Williams (what isn’t he in?) Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), the boy playing August, did well enough and had exactly the right look. And keep your eye on Jamia Nash, the tiny black girl who sings; where on earth did that little thing get those pipes?

One more good touch, satisfying a pet peeve of mine: real musicians coached the actors, so they’re actually fingering the notes you’re hearing most of the time. What a relief.

Despite its flaws, if you love music and you’re not a cynic, this film will inspire you. Check your cynicism at the door, and go enjoy the music.

07/09/2009 (10:50 am)

I Love These People

Americans, pay attention.

The photograph below, borrowed from Cubanology Blog, expresses the sentiments of the freedom-loving people of Honduras, who recently accomplished what America did not have the good sense to accomplish in November, 2008, nor the presence of mind to accomplish since: they removed a President who was steering them rapidly down a slope into tyranny.

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Translated precisely, the sign says:

“Honduras is an example to the world. We have no oil or dollars, but we have balls.”

And God bless’em, too.

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin.

06/15/2009 (11:52 pm)

Those Green Jobs

Credit Small Dead Animals with the find: kae’s bloodnut blog, from Down Under, reproduces an actual conversation between Senator Barnaby Joyce (henceforth “SBJ”), the Leader of the Nationals in the Australian Senate, and Meghan Quinn (“MQ”), Manager, Climate Change Modelling Division, Aussie Department of the Treasury, regarding how “green” industries would produce jobs. I suspect that this is the true level of detail at which the Truly Environmentally Correct work. It’s just too incredibly rich…

SBJ: These people want to turn up to work what are they actually doing. What do they look like, are they construction workers, are they electricians, are they accountants.

MQ: The actual electricity supply … the people working in the industries. People who are looking after the production of the actual wind farm, the operation of the wind farm. The construction component would be captured by the construction sector.

SBJ: What is the person who is operating the wind farm? What is he or she doing?

MQ: I am not a technical engineer so I don’t think I can answer that question.

SBJ: Have you been to an actual wind farm lately?

MQ: I’ve seen a wind farm, yes.

SBJ: How many people did you see working there?

MQ: Well there was a person taking me around.

SBJ: Generally no one?

MQ: Well I don’t know. There must be some.

SBJ: Been out to a coal mine lately?

MQ: Not lately.

SBJ: From what you have seen on television does it seem like many people working there?

MQ: There has a been a reduction in the share of people working in the mining industry generally.

She hasn’t got a clue in the world.

There’s more. Read the whole thing.

06/10/2009 (9:52 am)

FYI, on Anti-Abortion Violence

While browsing Political Math at Chris Muir’s implied suggestion, I came across this useful graph of violence perpetrated against abortionists in the US. The President sent federal marshals to protect abortion clinics, on the theory that the wave of violence perpetrated by anti-abortion fanatics endangered them all.

Of course, the same weekend, a Muslim extremist murdered a US Army recruiter. Apparently the violence perpetrated against US military targets by Muslim extremists is not a large enough wave to merit protection, though; no federal marshals appeared to protect recruiting stations.

Here’s a graphical representation of the current wave of anti-abortion violence. Please pay close attention to the scale at the left side of the graph. Clicking on the graphic will take you to the article where I found it.

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That’s it. This was the first shooting of any abortionist in 9 years. And notice that the number never went above 12 in any one year.

How many attempts at violence against civilian targets by Muslim extremists have we heard about in the last few years? How many around the globe? Is there a pattern here?

The stark juxtaposition of the President’s response to two, nearly simultaneous acts of violence suggests that protecting abortion ranks higher on Obama’s personal scale than protecting the nation against Muslim extremists. I dare anybody to rebut that conclusion based on his responses to the murders that occurred a week ago.

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