Saturday, January 31, 2009

Movies We'd Like To See...

I like films that tell "the other side of the story". This one would be kewl. I'll probably watch my second movie of 2009 tonight. I'm getting to be a real cineophile.

Friday, January 30, 2009

"You kill people."

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

Sparks Of Ancient Light

Artist : Al Stewart
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

Super Bowl

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

Jason's New Car

A 2002 Saturn. 90,000 miles; $2800. Sweet !!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year !!

Chinese New Year, that is. 2009 is the Year of the Ox. Maybe that means it'll be a bull market on Wall Street. Lord knows, my retirement fund could use that.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More of his Legacy

The Worst ever. Plain and simple.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Am Legend (the movie)

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.
The Verdict...
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

Later that night...

Well I mean, someone did have to do the cleaning up.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twice Upon A Time

Apparently, book titles are not copyrightable. There's at least a dozen different "Twice Upon A Time" selections to choose from at Amazon. One of which I am just finishing reading.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In case you missed it...

...we have a new president. And since none of my family are running for public office right now, I can say...
... for the first time in 8 years, I'm proud to be an American.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The worst 48 hours in a dittohead's life

Today, they have to endure all the Martin Luther King Day activities. Then tomorrow, they have to watch "one of them" take the oath of office.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

RIP - Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth
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

RIP - Patrick McGoohan

Patrick McGoohan
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

Mayan Zits

This is for "Bronx Cheers", who apparently watches and laughs at The History Channel as much as I do.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

So long, a**hole

Nice to see there are others who feel the same way I do. And yes, I skipped his farewell address tonight.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Art Appreciation Wednesday

I'd make this into a "Where in the World" contest, but I have no idea where it is. Eastern Europe maybe? In any event, it's certainly a unique piece of mixed-media art.

Monday, January 12, 2009

NFC Championship

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

RIP - Donald Westlake

Donald Westlake
b. : 12 July 1933
d. : 31 December 2008
Damn, 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

Me Are A English Major

From 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

Excellence in Advertising - 2008

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

The Demise of The Mesa Tribune

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 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

Excellence in Economy - 2008

Don't laugh. Money-in-the-mattress out-performed both the Dow Jones Index and my 401-K (which I now fondly refer to as my "201-K"). True, Colombian drug smuggling probably paid off better, but only if you lived to spend it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Excellence in Architecture - 2008

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


I work with a Topper. Even worse, he's a libertarian.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Such inauspicious timing to Israel's "kill 'em all" war strategy. And no, I'm not letting the Gaza chuckleheads off the hook either. One could predict this would happen when one lobs a bunch of missiles into Israel. Especially newer, longer-range missiles.

Friday, January 02, 2009

What is the greatest movie of all time?

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.