Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blog-versation with Utah Policy Daily

Hey, so I'm branching out behind Whitleypedia ... I have the honor of blogging for Utah Policy Daily, which I've been a fan of for the last five or six years. It's the best resource for daily scoops on the Utah political scene, managed by the inimitable LaVarr Webb, who alas does not have a Wikipedia entry that I can link to (yet).

Here's my first entry. It's on Salt Lake Tribune ace reporter Tommy Burr. My favorite part is my use of the term "blog-versation."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Detective Comics Can't Sleuth Its Way Back On Top?

In the summer of 2008, I looked forward to both Iron Man and The Dark Knight with rapt anticipation. Iron Man was a good-sized hit, Dark Knight was super-sized. I preferred the simpler, more cohesive story of Iron Man, and Robert Downey's charismatic Tony Stark certainly eclipsed the more reduced role that Christian Bale was forced to take behind Heath Ledger's jaw-dropping Joker. But Ledger's Joker defined cinema in 2008, and made Jack Nicholson look like Caesar Romero.

But still ... it delights me when a comic book movie can capture both critical and financial success: these films (as well as Hancock, Incredible Hulk, and Hellboy 2) did both last year. It was one of those "it's good to be a geek" years. Ledger quite rightly won the Oscar for best supporting actor, but the Academy (surprise surprise) snubbed Dark Knight with the best picture and best director categories - not even nominating the film in either. (Though TDK did get 8 noms all told, and Downey Jr's nomination for Tropic Thunder had at least as much to do with Iron Man as with Tropic Thunder.)

So it is with sadness in my heart that I read that Batman 3 might not happen at all. It baffles me that a sequel to the second-most successful film _of all time_ is not being hot-lined.

The DC movie war machine is floundering (with a sequel to Superman Returns off the books, nothing for a Wonder Woman film but idle speculation, and Green Lantern shedding light only with fan-made trailers). Detective Comics can't sleuth its way back to the top of the movie heap.

By contrast, the Avengers franchise, which Iron Man kicked off, is plugging along with a momentum it can barely contain. Kenneth Branagh is waxing Nordic on Thor. Samuel L. Jackson, who appeared as Nick Fury for just 15 seconds in Iron Man, has been signed to a NINE PICTURE DEAL with Marvel, and director John Favreau is already appearing on late night TV shows to talk about Iron Man 2 and Tweeting like it's going out of style (which as a Facebook snob, alas, I can say Tweeting has not yet done).

What will turn this around? DC has historically flown circles around Marvel when it comes to multi-media adaptions of its material. Compare, for example, the legacy of the 1960s Batman TV with the legacy of the 1960s Spider-man show. Compare, for further example, the success of the Superman film franchise in the 1970s and 80s, and the Batman franchise of the 1980s and 90s, with Marvel's ... not having any film franchise of note until X-men in 2000.

With a hit like TDK, that made Spider-man wet his tights, how can DC now now drob the web ball?

Riddle me that, Boy Wonder.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Axis of Evil? Hrm....

Hey, so I've noticed in the news lately that Iran is violating any kind of pretense of democracy, and abusing people for standing up for their basic human rights.

Here's a BBC article about it. Here's an Aljazeera one, which says "Hundreds of protesters, politicians and activists have been detained in Iran after mass protests over the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president."

Hrm. Seems pretty darned evil.

Otherwise in the news I see that North Korea is imprisoning journalists. There's an article on Slate about it here. The two reporters have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor because of their efforts to paint the regime as abusive to human rights. (So to protect their sterling-silver reputation, the North Koreans, y'know, abuse their human rights.)

Hrm. Seems pretty darned evil.

Now if only someone had warned us about these evil countries a few years ago, perhaps labeling them across some kind of, oh I don't know, axis. You know. An axis of evil.

Monday, June 15, 2009

White Snow

This is a video clip of my nephew and me sparring with light sabers while my niece sings Coldplay's "Violet Hill." I think it could be a perfect C- or D-grade Internet meme, along with other flash in the pans like the "I like turtles!" boy. Its assets:

  1. it is only 20 seconds long
  2. it pays tribute to three disparate pop culture figures (Star Wars, Coldplay, and The Simpsons - gold coin to whomever can figure where the reference is), expanding the number of people who could be attracted to it
  3. these kids are pretty dang cute
But enough of my yakking, let's boogie:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Deadpool movie? WTF?

So - OK - after a lackluster response to "Xmen Origins: Wolverine," both critically and financially (only $165,354,000 in the US), they're doing a Deadpool movie?!?!

MTV's Splash Page has the story here...

Now, I know that chicks really dig Ryan Reynolds, and doing a boys movie that girls will want to also go see can be a formula for success, but - I'm sorry - can they please just go back to making good movies about the Xmen?


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Domo arigato Sotomayor-o?

OK so in recent weeks/months, I've eschewed blogging about politics in favor of doing more pop culture stuff ... for which I think I can be forgiven, given that we've entered the summer movie season.

But I wanted to at least mention two things about the current Supreme Court nominee fooforaw:

Judge Sotomayor and President Obama

1) The AP (God bless them for the work they do keeping the American public informed) is reporting that "Gingrich backs off 'racist' label for Sotomayor" -- the essential bit is:

"In a letter to supporters, the Georgia Republican said that his words had been "perhaps too strong and direct" last week when he called Sotomayor a reverse "racist," based on a 2001 speech in which she said she hoped the rulings of a "wise Latina" would be better than those of a white male without similar experiences."

Of course our illustrious former Speaker was going to catch hell for opposing any nominee of Obama's, particularly a Latino. (I don't think anyone is pulling punches because she's a woman, though -- both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin got so beaten up so much last year that they proved we are equal opportunity bashers where female politicians are concerned.)

So why is the Speaker backing off of this label? Well ... probably because it's not working particularly well, because he risks coming off as the bad guy, and she as the innocent victim. The slanderous attacks on Judge Alito during his confirmation process only increased his favorability ratings because said attacks were perceived as so ludicrous (which, incidentally, they were). By backing off the "you are a racist" label Gingrich demonstrates humility enough to apologize without really doing so.

Is Judge Sotomayor a racist? Well ... probably. I mean, everybody's at least a little bit racist if they're honest with themselves. It's like a great philosopher said once:

"We humanoids are a product of millions of years of evolution. Our ancestors learned the hard way that what you don't know might kill you. They wouldn't have survived if they hadn't jumped back when they encountered a snake coiled in the muck; and now, millions of years later, that instinct is still there. It's genetic."

I think this video from "Avenue Q" sums it up pretty well:

More than that - culturally - our country, particularly the political left, is pretty tolerant of anti-white sentiment, especially when it is perceived as mostly harmless. (Example: Mayor Nagin's "chocolate city" speech, for review here.)

2) If this Sotomayor's nomination is going to be about identity politics, why do I hear so little mention of religion? She is Catholic -- not that there's anything wrong with that, some of my favorite people are or used to be Catholic -- but her approval would make her the SIXTH Catholic on the bench: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito are all disciples of the Holy Father. Ginsburg and Breyer are Jewish, and only Stevens is Protestant.

Granted, Catholicism is the largest individual religion in the US -- estimated 24% of the population -- but more than half the country is some kind of Protestant. (The Boston Globe did an interesting article on religion in the US here that you could check out.) How about some more Protestants on the bench? How about a Mormon? (1.7% of the population btw) How about (gasp!) an agnostic?

Obviously judicial temperament, intelligence, and experience are more important than identity politics ... but I'm baffled that the religion issue hasn't played out more in the press. USA Today posted an article about it ... shortly after I started writing this blog entry.

Anyway ... there's my 2 cents, which in today's economy is only worth about half a farthing.

For someone whose opinion carries considerably more value, here's what my old boss, Senator Hatch is saying about Judge Sotomayor, fyi.


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