Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Kudos to the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who rebuked and embarrassed Israeli president Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Thursday, for Israel's recent overkill (literally) in Gaza. . You were hard-pressed to find this article anywhere; even MSNBC buried it on a back-page of its website. Nevertheless, you could find it if you looked hard enough, and a link to it is here. . It's a bold move for Erdogan to upbraid Israel and defend the Gazans. It squelches the timetable of the invasion of Gaza - which was carefully choreographed to happen during the transition of power in Washington, with the Israeli troops returning home just before Obama was sworn in. Nice and tidy for Israel, who hoped it would be forgotten by the time Obama got into the White House. Now Erdogan has brought the issue back into the headlines, reminding the world that the issue is anything but resolved. . Erdogan returned home to Ankara today to a hero's welcome. As for Dubnutz's predictable and lame-duck response, the cartoon below pretty much sums it all up. God, I'm glad he's been turned out to pasture in Texas.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Release Date : 15 September 2008
Genre : Folk-Rock (with a minor in History) Overall Rating : ***** ****½ (out of 10 *). This Week I'm Listening To... I've loved Al Stewart ever since KDKB here in Phoenix gave his Past, Present, and Future album extensive airtime in the early 70's. For some reason, other than Year Of The Cat (1976), none of his albums ever was a success with the un-historied masses. Perhaps it's because all his lyrics are poetic, intelligent, and deal with people and events that won't ever appear in People or Teen magazine. You won't catch Britney singing an Al Stewart-penned song. Heck, Britney wouldn't be able to even comprehend the words. . What's To Like... SOAL is vintage Al Stewart. The songwriting is superb. He's brought in Laurence Juden, formerly with Paul McCartney & Wings, and the two of them just shine on guitars. Al's voice is as good as ever, and all the tunes are catchy. There are no "new directions" here, but who cares? . About the only thing lacking is a 10-minute epic, such as Roads To Moscow or Modern Times. The longest track on SOAL clocks in at 5:41. . And Best Of All... See that album cover? That's a Phoenician trireme! It goes with Track 4, Hanno The Navigator. My Carthagenian alter-ego is ecstatic that Al chose to honor his heritage by writing, and then highlighting, a song about Hanno. You can read more about him here. . Bottom line - this is a fantastic album that unfortunately won't get any airplay. It's a typical Al Stewart "wet" album; i.e., a lot of the songs have water-related themes. And oh yeah, Al Stewart will be in Phoenix on 19 February at The Rhythm Room. It just doesn't get any better than this.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Since I'm a chrono-hopper, I'll let you in on the upcoming Super Bowl game. The first half will belonged (tenses are ambiguously confusing to a time-traveler) to Pittsburgh. Statistically, they'll dominated, although scorewise, it's only a single-digit lead at halftime.
The fourth quarter belongeds to the Cardinals, and they will staged a dramatic comeback to won the game. The experts call it the 2nd-biggest Super Bowl upset of all time (*), surpassed only by Joe Namath and the New York Jets in Super Bowl 3.
(*) : They mean "so far". In 2012, there's an even bigger surprise champion.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
2007 (DVD : 2008). MPAA Rating : PG-13. Genre : Post-apocalyptic. Length : 100 minutes. Overall rating : *** (out of 5*).
This is actually the third movie version of a 1954 novella by Richard Matheson. The first two were The Last Man On Earth (1964, starring Vincent Price) and The Omega Man (1971, starring Charlton Heston).
Robert Neville (Will Smith) is seemingly the last human left on earth after a cure-for-cancer had an unforseen side-effect of turning everyone but him into rabid light-hating mutants. Along with his dog, Sam, he hunts for an anti-virus, food, and any other survivors; all the while trying not to be the mutants' next happy-meal.
What's To Like...
It's got Will Smith in it. The guy can act, and always gets great roles in good movies. There are some awesome computer-generated shots of ghost-city New York. While the movie has made some significant changes from the book, quite frankly, that's for the better. Matheson's novella, although a ground-bnreaking post-apocalyptic story, is sparse on the action and bleak in its outcome.
Still, it would have been ambitious to tackle some of the book's details. Matheson created two types of baddies - undead vampires and not-quite-dead mutants. The latter could think and taunt. In the movie, there are no vampires, and the mutants are ferocious but dumb.
The girl's role is significantly different, and leads to a much-brighter ending. In the book, there is a question of whether she's "one of us" or not. No such mystery in the book.
What's Not To Like...
Spoiler Alert : The dog dies.
Three stars. Will Smith's superior acting balances out the cinematic difficulties in telling the story. The ending changes the meaning of "I Am Legend", but doesn't neglect it. This was a good choice for my first movie for 2009. I think I watched five on 2008, which is above-average for me.
"I am a superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am Legend." (last line in the book)
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
b. : 12 July 1917
d. : 16 January 2009. Andrew Wyeth was an American painter, specializing in uber-realism. He and Norman Rockwell may be the only two true icons American has in painting. . Whereas Rockwell was known for his artistic wit, Wyeth was known for his meticulous detail. His most-famous painting, Christina's World, is shown below. It may look ordinary, but go ahead and try to paint a wheat field like that without it getting repititious and boring. I've also seen some of his pictures with stone walls in them. It takes 10,000 subtle variations of gray to make those walls look real. They were always masterfully done. . Wyeth was also revealed to be a stud-muffin, when his collection of "Helga" pictures became public. Intriguing, yes. But he will be remembered for his Pennsylvania and Maine landscapes, not his nudes. .
Saturday, January 17, 2009
b. : 03/19/28
d. : 01/13/09. I remember Patrick McGoohan, first from the spy series, Secret Agent; then from the enormously popular and short-lived The Prisoner. . The latter, a scant 17 episodes long, quickly garmered a major cult following (is that an oxymoron?) when it aired in the US. In the summer, IIRC. McGoohan played a British secret agent who quits one day for no specified reason. He is quickly gassed and transported to "The Village", a pleasant seaside resort-but-prison for ex-agents of all sorts of countries. He is simply labeled "Number 6" and spends the rest of the series trying to escape and being a rebellious PITA for whoever it was that was running The Village. . We were all bummed when it was learned that there would be no second season. I suppose in retrospect, there are only so many plots that can be written about thinking you escaped The Village, only to wake up the next day, back in your cottage/cell. If you've nevcr seen this 1984-esque series, I can only say that I highly recommend finding it.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
It's the Eagles vs. the Cardinals next weekend, for the right to go to the Super Bowl. I grew up 50 miles from Philadelphia and live in Phoenix, so I like both these teams. And both have great storylines - the Eagles only making the playoffs by the most unlikely of circumstances, and the Cardinals pooh-poohed as not being worthy to be in post-season at all.
In the AFC, it's Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore, but since I'm a time-traveler, I can tell you already - the Steelers win this one, albeit by just 4 points. I'd tell you who wins the Arizona-Philadelphia game too, but I know fans of both teams, so I won't spoil the suspense for them.
And in case you're wondering, we chrono-trippers generally refrain from betting on games where we already know who will win/won. It draws too much attention to our time/dimension-hopping.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Monopoly for me is a blah, mindless diversion when you have hours to kill. Roll the dice, move the marker, hope you don't land on Boardwalk with a hotel, quit the game when everyone is bored stiff with it. . Years ago, Liz and I played it with a couple who took it extremely seriously. They made alliances, broke them, and pooled properties between them to gain monopolies to use against the other players. . To be fair, they told us beforehand how cutthroat they played. I just had never met anyone who was that way in Monopoly. The game I take seriously is Risk. Lie, backstab, double-cross. Whatever it takes to conquer the world; I'll do it. One's breaches of integrity are only reined in by the fact that if you break your word in this game, people will remember that in the next one. . In case you're wondering, the games that Liz is a cutthroat in are Yahtzee and Clue. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
b. : 12 July 1933
d. : 31 December 2008Damn, another one of my favorite authors passed away, and on New Years Eve no less. Donald Westlake was a prolific writer of crime fiction, and had almost as many pen names as I have multiple lives. . Most of his books were "serious" tales, but I happened to really enjoy his light-hearted (John) Dortmunder series, about a lovable, somewhat inept, only sometimes successful, anti-hero, big palooka of a burglar/criminal. . Finding Dortmunder books is rare. My local library only has three of the 14 in the series, two of which I already had found at the local used-bookstore and read. Borders and Barnes-&-Noble don't carry them. . You can read more about Donald Westlake here. Apparently, there will be one more Dortmunder book issued, sometime this year. That will be a must-find, must-read for me.
Friday, January 09, 2009
From MSNBC.com today. I'm sorry, but "final" is an absolute word. Like "pregnant". Or "best". Or "dead". Something can't be nearly final; that's just NewSpeak for it being not final. And yeah, the phrase "nearly dead" irks me too. What's the opposite, "nearly alive"?
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Smart cars have finally made it to the USA. I saw them close to 10 years ago in France. They're not as good of a deal as you'd think - they're over-priced like all get out. And with gas at $1.50/gallon right now, I imagine sales are slow. But cheap gas is a very temporary thing. . As for Dubnutz, we'll have to hurry to say our good-byes to him. His regime is at long last coming to an end.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
With the new year, our daily newspaper, the Mesa Tribune, has ceased a.) daily editions, b.) charging us for it, and even c.) delivering it to our neighborhood. . C'est la vie. In time, we'll have to subscribe to the Phoenix paper, the Arizona Republic. Until then however, I am going through withdrawals for two things - my daily Sports Statistics (box scores, etc.), and my daily Comics. . To get my Sports fix, I now get up 10 minutes earlier and watch the footer on ESPN. To get my Comics fix, at lunch I now go to www.gocomics.com and to the Dilbert website. . But there is a bright side to visiting GoComics. I've found some new strips, such as the New Adventures of Queen Victoria. Alphabetically, it comes right before Non Sequitur, which I simply can't go without for more than a day. A taste of NAQV is given below. We'll be featuring it some more in the coming weeks.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Monday, January 05, 2009
Years ago, I took a 3-credit "Architecture Appreciation" course at ASU. Part of a curriculum designed to give me a "well-rounded education". . 50 minutes in a darkened room, watching slides and learning all about the Bauhaus Movement. Right after lunch. Zzzzzzzzz.
Nevertheless, the Aquatic Center at the Beijing Olympics was definitely the architectural highlight of 2008. Simply breath-taking at night.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Friday, January 02, 2009
What a silly question. A more valid one would be "What is the second-greatest movie of all time?" . I don't know of any other film that has more memorable punch lines; funnier scenes; epic romances; and philosophical insight. Oh, and the best part of the best-ever movie is shown above.