Sunday, September 28, 2008

R.I.P. Paul Newman

Paul Newman, star of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Cool Hand Luke, and The Verdict, passed away yesterday.

He will be missed.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Movie Song of the Week: “Muchacha”

You say you want a revolution? Busby Berkeley's got your revolution right here in the middle of his 1935 movie In Caliente. Of course, it's the Mexican Revolution. Or at least what looks like Hollywood's version of the Mexican Revolution. Dolores del Río's character would have you believe they're just bandits.

Since my paternal grandmother was dispossessed by the Mexican Revolution, I can't help but wonder what she'd think of this number. For that matter, I can't help but wonder what she'd think of those lyrics. And shouldn't the title of this song be “Mujer” and not “Muchacha”? (Mujer means “woman” in Spanish and muchacha means “girl.”)

I was tempted not to post this, but hey, I did post a song last week that made fun of Dolores del Río and it only seems fair to give her a chance in the spotlight.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Movie Quote of the Week

Finance is a gun. Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger.
--Enzo Robutti, The Godfather: Part III (1990)

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Song Quote of the Week

I’ve seen the future, I can’t afford it.
--Martin Fry and Mark White of ABC, “How to Be a Millionaire”

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So Should I Be Upset That This Movie Was Never Released in Local Theatres?

Judging from the reviews I've read online, I doubt it.

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You Say Igor and I Say Eye-Gor

Apparently the Spanish name Eva is very popular in Hollywood this year because it just appeared in yet another recent movie. Unfortunately, this movie -- Igor -- wasn't as good as the last movie in which it appeared, which is too bad since the good folks at Pixar really could use some competition.

As you might guess, the movie Igor is about a hunchback named -- well -- Igor. Poor Igor -- voiced by John Cusack -- lives in a country called Malaria where all hunchbacks are named Igor. Unfortunately, all these hunchbacks are also forced to work as assistants to the local evil scientists -- evil science apparently being one of the few growth industries left in Malaria ever since a nasty weather crisis put paid to the local agriculture.

This being a modern cartoon, Cusack's Igor yearns to be more than just an assistant -- and indeed manages to invent not one but two items in his spare time -- a talking but not terribly intelligent brain and an immortal but not proud of it rabbit. His master manages to kill himself in a nasty lab accident just before the local Evil Science Fair and Igor finds himself in the position of not only being able to take his master's place but being forced by the local king to take his master's place. Unfortunately, the king -- who looks suspiciously like the mayor in The Nightmare Before Christmas -- isn't above hinting that Igor's failure to win the above mentioned Science Fair could mean his death.

So our “hero” sets out to create the most evil thing he can think of: life. Apparently this is not meant to be a pro-life movie. Nor does the movie quite explain why the immortal rabbit and the animated brain aren't seen as potentially useful items. But then what use can an evil scientist possibly have for immortality? Or brains?

Anyway, poor Igor sets out to create the worst monster ever -- interestingly enough, a female -- and then discovers to his horror that it isn't quite as evil as he'd hoped. Attempts to reprogram the creation -- the above mentioned Eva -- in a more diabolical direction go awry and poor Igor is faced with a hideous Bride-of-Frankenstein-ish creature that is more interested in becoming a movie star than a monster. Igor tries to improvise a way out of this mess, a rival scientist finds out about his invention, and then suddenly plot complications occur. (I hate it when that happens.)

So is the movie worth seeing? Well, it isn't that unwatchable, but it's not that good either. If you have seen Shrek or The Iron Giant, you can probably see most plot twists coming from light-years away, and even Eva isn't half as interesting as similar female characters in The Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride.

One minor subplot concerning a female character who likes to disguise herself as something other than what she really is could be seen as a parable of racial/ethnic self-hatred, especially when the character rants quite extensively about the ugliness of a being that shares her real appearance. For that matter, the entire movie can be seen as both a political parable and an allegory of assimilation. But then again the TV show Ugly Betty handles a lot of these same themes a whole lot better so you best not get your hopes up too high before seeing this flick. Even a writer as brilliant as Terry Pratchett isn't always that inspired when he writes about Igors, and the kindest thing one can say about the writer of this movie is that he is no Terry Pratchett.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nonsequential Links III

Still more links of interest. (My comments in parentheses.)

It is hard for many white women - or black women, for that matter - to understand that many Latinas raised in modern America were, in fact, raised with gender bias and discrimination that would have seemed normal in the mainstream 150 or 200 years ago. (Well, my sister wasn't raised that way but then my sister wasn't raised in typical Latin fashion. Even the Anglo girls I knew in high school would often admit to being trained to wait on their brothers hand and foot while my father was more a believer in equal responsibilities for boys and girls. I'd like to think today's generation are raising their kids more like my father did but I don't know...)

“When faced with monsters, we have to be monstrous ourselves.” Well, no, but even if it were so, think one step deeper: What happens when the monsters are merely in your mind?

I'm the last person to deny the depth and irreconcilability of many of our conflicts, but neither do I want to give any credence to those on the left or the right who are determined to make enemies of people who are merely their opponents -- and their fellow Americans. (Yes, it’s tempting to dismiss this last two op-eds as so much conservative hypocrisy but they have a point. As much as I sympathize with the liberal cause, I really despise some of the more hateful things that have been said in the name of liberalism. That’s not what it’s meant to stand for.)

Imagine, for just a moment, that you could travel back in time seven years to the morning of September 11, 2001 - in an armed jet fighter. Say you should happen by Manhattan, around morning rush hour. A passenger jet -- no, two! -- are barreling towards the Twin Towers. (Why there hasn't been an alternative history novel written along these lines, I'll never know.)

Still, Ginger fascinated me. That tart tongue, that supreme self-confidence, the way she took any obstacle from the Depression to a catty costar and rolled right over it. (Yes, I've linked to this before, but hey, in light of my recent Ginger Rogers post, it only seemed appropriate to link to it again.)

The problem with ALL books about the robber-baron era, though, is that there's just no way to make any of these guys sympathetic. (Oddly appropriate this op-ed.)

Our world, crazed and vicious as it is, can't be entirely corrupt, disgusting, and unbearable -- not while it has minds like this in it. (I have always been a fan of Terry Pratchett but Ms. Charnas expresses my opinion of his work far better than I can.)

People should remember the dead for what they mean to them, not for the merchandise to be had after their demise.
(What Scalzi said.)

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. (Had I known David Foster Wallace could write like this, I might have made more of an effort to read his writing while he was still alive. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.)


Excuse Me

Apparently it's no longer $700 billion American taxpayers will be paying to clean up the recent mortgage mess. It's 1.8 trillion.

But of course.

Because we Americans never like to do things the easy way.

I am so glad I don't have a mortgage right now. And I feel more than a little sorry for those folks who still do. Especially those who could barely afford their payments before this whole thing got started.


Monday, September 22, 2008

700 Billion?

700 billion? 700 billion? 700 billion? 700 billion? 700 billion? 700 billion?

And to think so many of my relatives were worried that the Democrats would be making them pay higher taxes. Sigh.

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R.I.P. Jerry Reed

Oh my God! Jerry Reed died on September 2. As a country fan, I should have known better than to not post anything about his death until now.

Reed was best known for playing opposite Burt Reynolds in the Smokey and the Bandit movies and also known for such country songs as “Amos Moses,” “When You're Hot, You're Hot” and “East Bound and Down.”

He will be missed.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Movie Song of the Week: “I Always Get My Man”

From 1937's High Flyers, it's Lupe Velez the original Mexican Spitfire with “I Always Get My Man,” a song in which we don't just get to hear Ms. Velez's own beautiful singing voice but also her imitations of Dolores del Río, Simone Simone and Shirley Temple. I suppose I could have posted a Cheech and Chong song instead but I happen to believe Ms. Velez is a lot easier on the eyes and ears than Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong could ever be.

I hope you all enjoy it:

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Movie Quote of the Week

I like Mexico; it's so... Mexican.
--Eve Arden, Mildred Pierce (1945)

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Not So Quiet Desperation

Cultural conservatives always tend to go on and on about the good old days when Hollywood movies respected flyover country (the land between LA and New York) yet some of the most negative portraits of such country pop up in many an old movie made in the very era they wax nostalgic over.

For example, it’s difficult to watch a film like 1936's The Petrified Forest and not get the feeling that the audience was meant to root for the female lead character (a bookish waitress played by Bette Davis) to leave Arizona and fulfill her dream of traveling to France. The film doesn’t exactly mock America but it doesn’t pretend that Davis’s character -- Gabrielle Maple -- is particularly happy where she’s at and it’s perhaps no coincidence that the character most mocked in this movie is a self-styled patriot while the most respected character describes himself as “an American once removed.”

The Petrified Forest is most famous today for being the movie in which actor Humphrey Bogart first achieved stardom. Bogart plays the heavy, a criminal fugitive named Duke Mantee whose gang hides out in the diner/gas station where Gabrielle Maple works. Also present at the diner are Maple’s grandfather, Maple’s would-be suitor, and a drifter (played by Leslie Howard) who captures Maple’s fancy. Eventually a rich couple and their chauffeur get roped into the mess and although words are exchanged between many a character, the main conflict proves to be a war of words between Howard's character -- Alan Squier -- and Duke Mantee, a conflict which eventually resolves itself in a way that I dare not give away.

Alan Squier -- a former expat who is currently hitchhiking his way across the country -- is most interesting because it’s the type of character one rarely sees in movies anymore: a self-styled intellectual who is self-aware enough to be humble and sensitive enough to be more attractive to a local girl than a local football hero. Yes, it’s tempting to see this character as little more than a lonely screenwriter’s wish-fulfillment fantasy but the dialogue between him and Maple actually proves quite interesting. The subjects Maple and he discuss in their conversation (fate, nature, genetics, etc.) rarely get mentioned in movies nowadays and I for one found it refreshing to hear such people talk on and on without once feeling the need to throw in a pop culture reference so that the average movie-goer won't feel left out.

It’s even more refreshing to see Ms. Davis prove her versatility by playing a character so vastly different than the role she last played with Mr. Howard -- that of the scornful waitress in Of Human Bondage -- though, of course, that movie would not be the last film in which Ms. Davis proved such talent.

Of course, this movie was based on a play, and it might be argued that the movie could afford to be more literate than the average modern movie because it was based on a property that had already proved itself commercially on stage. But it’s still refreshing to see such a movie in existence and it’s a pity one doesn’t see movies like this more often.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Quote of the Week

Mexico is the only Spanish word I know. But it’s the best word.

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Canción de la Semana: “Amor Prohibido”

Just in time for the week of Mexican Independence Day and the first week of National Hispanic Heritage Month, it's one of the most famous singers of Mexican descent: Selena. Granted, the video is not much to speak of but her voice is nice. And “Amor Prohibido” always was one of my favorite tunes.

Besides, I just can't get enough Selena so I might as well post something about her.

Please enjoy:

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Random Thoughts

I never was much of a John Wayne fan but I did admire his taste in women.

If love is the answer, what is the question?

Just exactly where is Suffragette City located?

If a sensitive, intelligent person like Jane Austen couldn’t find love within her lifetime, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

Were they really that prudish in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s day or are the kissing scenes in The Other Side of Paradise an euphemism for acts that the censors of his era would not allow him to describe in detail?

If everything is art, then ultimately nothing is art.

If drag is taken from Shakespeare’s “dressed as girl,” then drab must mean “dressed as boy.”

Love that does not endure in the face of adversity ultimately means nothing.

Living with someone you love is way better than living alone, but even living alone beats living with someone you don’t like.

The most dangerous prejudices of a society are inevitably those that are most fashionable. Why? Because those are the ones which are least likely to be either questioned or opposed.

It is all too often easier to question someone else's prejudices than it is to question one's own.

All groups have their bullies and bigots. The problem is that they’re not always recognized as such.

It doesn’t take a great act of courage to demand a sacrifice from someone else.

The mentality required to get out of poverty is rarely possessed by those who never had to worry about poverty. And if it is, it is all too often actively discouraged.

The strongest efforts towards reform inevitably come from those who are most likely to benefit from such reform. Unfortunately, those who are least likely to benefit from a change in the status quo are inevitably the same ones who have the most power to change it.

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Song Quotes of the Week

Walter Afanasieff, Desmond Child and Draco Rosa, “She Bangs”
Bono, “Bullet the Blue Sky”
Buddy Buie, James Cobb, Harry Middlebrooks Jr. and Mike Shapiro, “Spooky”
Chris Butler, “Christmas Wrapping”
Chris Butler, “Christmas Wrapping”
Chris Butler and The Waitresses, “A Girl's Gotta Do”
Chris Butler and The Waitresses, “Bread and Butter”
Chris Butler and The Waitresses, “They're All Out of Liquor, Let's Find Another Party”
David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison and Tina Weymouth, “Road to Nowhere”
Billy Crystal and Paul Shaffer, “You Look Marvelous”
Sheryl Crow, “Leaving Las Vegas”
Mark Z. Danielewski, Kenneth Burgomaster and Poe, “Hey Pretty {Drive-By 2001 Mix]”
Ray Davies, “Father Christmas”
Donovan, “Sunshine Superman”
Mike Elizondo, John O'Brien and Poe, “Haunted”
Mike Elizondo, John O'Brien and Poe, “Wild”
Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, “Free Your Mind”
Glenn Frey and Don Henley, “Wasted Time”
Martin Fry and Mark White, “How to Be a Millionaire”
Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar and Stan Lynch, “Drivin' with Your Eyes Closed”
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, “Mother's Little Helper”
Billy Joel, “The Stranger”
Mark Knopfler, “Industrial Disease”
Sam M. Lewis, “If I Ever Get a Job Again”
Madonna, “Now I'm Following You (Part 2)”
Don McLean, “American Pie”
Bobby “Boris” Pickett and Leonard L. Capizzi, “Monster Mash”
Bob Seger, “Night Moves”
Selena, A. B. Quintanilla III and Pete Astudillo, “Amor Prohibido”
Steven Severin, “Halloween”
Paul Simon, “I Am a Rock”
Paul Simon, “The Boxer”
Ken Spooner and Kim Williams, “If the Devil Danced in Empty Pockets”
Jim Steinman, “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)”
The Doors, “The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)”
The Doors, “When the Music's Over”

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Dates of Importance

Monday the 15th was the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Though I suppose one can ignore it if one considers oneself Latina/o. Being a person who has always considered the two terms to be interchangeable, I don't really care either way.

Tuesday the 16th was Mexican Independence Day.

Most important of all, Tuesday was also the birthday of my sister's oldest son. Feliz Cumpleaños to mi sobrino.

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Well, Hurricane Ike didn't affect Dallas too much apart from giving us all some rain and a few high winds but it sure had a far greater effect on coastal cities like Houston and Galveston.

Time will tell how long it takes these cities to recover.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

No Song of the Week This Week

I was going to post a song of the week today but between yesterday's 9/11 anniversary and the latest news about Hurricane Ike, I'm just not in the mood. Maybe next week.

In the meanwhile, I'll be praying that Hurricane Ike proves as uneventful as Hurricane Rita did a few years ago. And that all the good people in its path manage to find safety. It seems like it's going to be a long weekend for many folks.

I doubt the hurricane will affect Dallas much but it definitely seems likely to wreak some havoc on the Gulf Coast. So if you're not one for praying, at least be sure to keep your fingers crossed.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's That Day Again...

As shameful as it seems, I didn't stop to think about what happened on this day back in 2001 until just an hour ago.

Oddly enough, I had already written one check this morning and paid a visit to one of the local banks before I was that day.

One of those anniversaries good Americans like me aren't supposed to forget.

It's not that I don't recall what happened that morning seven years ago. I just don't think about it every moment of the day. And yes, if I had lost a loved one on that day, I wouldn't have the luxury of forgetting so easily.

And yet it is in the nature of Man that even the date of some of the biggest catastrophes end up forgotten. Not because we wish to forget them but because we can think of them only so long before sanity encourages us to move on to something else.

Anyway, I did finally remember without any reminder from the newspaper, the TV news, the radio or the Internet.

I hope that next year I can say the same thing.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

All Politics Is Loco, Parte VI

I should have said this last week but I didn't. So I'm saying it now.

When I think about fighting liberals, I think about the type of muckrakers who courageously stand up to corrupt politicos and abusive lawmen. What I don't associate with the term is the type of back fence gossip defined by this post.

The funny thing about that post is that I usually admire Jill and Melina and the political stances they take. I just don't agree with their approach. After all there are a lot of more important issues involved with the candidacy of Governor Sarah Palin than whether or not she gives her kids strange names. (What? Democratic voters don't ever give their kids strange names? Or get ridiculed for it?) Or worse yet, whether she's actually the grandmother of her own child. (What? Democratic voters wouldn't mind the implication that one of their children isn't really their child? And have no problem with self-appointed muckrakers butting into their personal life?) I'd expect such tactics from the likes of Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh but from a liberal blogger? Shesh.

Aren't liberals supposed to be better than that? I realize Sarah Palin is hardly the ideal candidate as far as the average liberal is concerned -- understatement of the year -- but I used to have the notion that certain things just weren't done if you were a liberal. Apparently I was wrong.

And apparently I'm not the only one who's having issues with the way Sarah Palin has been treated. (I'm just the only one who has issues with that Brilliant at Breakfast post.)

Granted, Sarah Palin is a hard person to feel sorry for. But I had the impression that the mentality that said it was okay to do such things because the cause we're fighting for is so important was the very mentality we're fighting against. Apparently not.

I thought the various rumors spread about Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama -- he's not black enough, he's too black, he's a Muslim, he hangs out with terrorists -- were bad enough. But to hear similar garbage coming from the liberal side is just too depressing.

It's going to be a long time until Election Day.

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I Heart Ginger Rogers

Okay, it's obvious. Like all too many people who view YouTube, I'm in love with a dead woman. And the woman in question is actress Ginger Rogers.

I liked her in 42nd Street. I liked her in Gold Diggers of 1933 and I liked her in the Fred Astaire movies. I also liked her in Vivacious Lady, Stage Door, Bachelor Mother and The Major and the Minor but for some reason, I didn't care for her too much in Roxie Hart, Kitty Foyle or I'll Be Seeing You. I guess I like the comic Ginger much more than I like the dramatic Ginger. For that matter, I liked the plebian Ginger better than the patrician Ginger and the blonde Ginger of the 1930s better than the red-headed Ginger (the ginger Ginger?) of the 1940s.

There's something about the expression on her face when she's skating in that "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" number in 1937's Shall We Dance which touches my heart. I don't know if she's actually having as much fun as that expression suggests or whether she's just a really good actress but that scene does tend to sum up Ginger Rogers's basic appeal as the type of woman most people would like to have fun with. Not "fun" in the dubious way fun is normally interpreted by so-called sophisticates but the traditional kind of fun. I love it when she wise-cracks and I love it when she shows she's a good sport. And of course, I love it when she starts singing and dancing.

I don't much care for the movies where she's too obviously the butt of the joke as in the conclusion of Roxie Hart. And I definitely don't care for movies like Kitty Foyle and I'll Be Seeing You. Both of those movies mean well but there's something about the way Ginger Rogers's character in those movies appears to be doing penance for all the "frivolous" musicals she did in her youth that really irritates the hell out of me. I never expected Ginger to make the exact type of movies in the 1940s that she made in the 1930s but I also didn't expect to see her to make movies that were so gloomy.

Oh, well. She won the Oscar and I didn't. As for her most recent work, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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Literary Quote I Like

How easy it is, Doctor, to be a philosopher on paper, and how hard it is in life!
--Konstantin Treplev in Anton Chekhov's The Seagull

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Knife of the Party

It’s a surfer movie.

No, it’s a slasher movie.

No, it’s a surfer move and a slasher movie all rolled up in one.

Better yet, it’s a satire of surfer and slasher movies.

Or maybe it’s just a parody.

Whatever it is, Psycho Beach Party is certainly one of the oddest comedies I’ve seen this year. And I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing.

The movie starts out parodying horror movies of the 1950s and 1960s, only to shift its point-of-view to that of the audience for such films. We see one couple complain about the plot of one such movie -- a movie that doesn’t even pretend to be coherent, even by b-grade creature feature standards -- then shift to yet another couple -- a platonic same-sex couple of friends -- who are analyzing the same movie to death.

Along the way, various characters are introduced and one ends up being fatally stabbed. Who did it? That’s what the big mystery of the movie is allegedly all about, but the filmmakers seem more interested in satirizing the social attitudes of the early 1960s than actually telling a funny story.

Some jokes hit, some miss. Eventually enough jokes hit for me to like this film but it took a second viewing to really win me over. One can tell why the film didn’t exactly get a lot of publicity when it was first released back in 2000. But the film still has a lot of promise in spite of itself.

Anyway, if you’re not interested in jokes, you can get a glimpse of an early Amy Adams, who appears in this film playing a popular surfer girl. If that‘s not enough, you can get a yet longer view of an early Lauren Ambrose, who plays a not-so-popular surfer girl who has a slight mental disorder. Kimberly Davies shows up as a runaway movie star who ends up playing a key role in the plot and Nicholas Brendon of Buffy fame makes an appearance as well. Los Straitjackets provides the soundtrack and it can be argued that their musical contribution is very easily one of the best parts of the movie -- especially at the beginning and end. But then there’s a twist ending that has to be seen to be believed, and, well, there’s not much else I can say without spoiling half the fun.

In the end, Psycho Beach Party isn’t quite the cult classic that it wants to be, but it‘s not for want of trying. And quite frankly, I find it hard to hate a film that manages to reference both Marnie and The Wizard of Oz. It’s not exactly 2000’s answer to The Rocky Horror Picture Show but fortunately, it’s not the 2000 equivalent of Shock Treatment either.

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Thoughts About Sex

1. Is America really a puritanical country or are we a hedonist country in a state of denial?

2. When it comes to one's sexual past, men tend to exaggerate, women tend to downplay.

3. Conservatives always exaggerate the amount of sex in popular culture. Liberals always downplay the amount of sex in popular culture. And yet conservatives tend to produce more children than liberals, either because liberals are more adept in their knowledge of contraceptives or else because conservatives, when dealing with sex, tend to prefer practice over theory while liberals tend to be the exact opposite.

4. No matter how liberal or conservative our culture becomes, the popular culture will never be liberal enough for liberals nor conservative enough for conservatives. At best it will reach a happy medium.

5. Pornography is that which sexually arouses the weirdo down the block. Erotica is what arouses people like you or me.

6. Men find a naked woman to be far sexier than a woman clad in lingerie yet women prefer lingerie over nudity when they have a choice.

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The Difference Between Smart People and Really Smart People

Smart people like to hang out with other smart people in the hope that the intelligence of the other smart people will rub off on them.

Really smart people tend to be able to learn from anyone -- and tend to hang out with anybody who treats them with respect.

Smart people tend to make a big deal about whatever book, record or movie that is currently fashionable.

Really smart people tend to realize that fashions come and go and choose to develop their own tastes in books, records and movies.

Smart people tend to look down upon people who can’t afford the same things that they can -- and pride themselves on being early adaptors.

Really smart people realize that some people can’t always afford the same things that they can -- and take little pride in being early adaptors.

Smart people look scornfully at people who live in certain neighborhoods.

Really smart people know that a person’s character matters a lot more than where he or she lives.

Smart people tend to believe that other smart people ideally look and talk the same way they do.

Really smart people tend to know that smart people can look or sound like anybody. And that only a dumb person makes assumptions about the intelligence of a person they don’t know that well.

Smart people pride themselves on knowing things other people don’t know and tend to tease others about their ignorance.

Really smart people tend to know that everyone is ignorant about something at one time or another and that it does little good to tease other people about their ignorance because such teasing only reveals how insecure one is about one’s own knowledge -- and worse yet, such teasing discourages others from learning.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Happy 11th Anniversary to the Flick Filosopher

One of my favorite webcrits is celebrating her 11th anniversary.

I'm hoping she has the chance to enjoy many more. I don't always agree with her but I can't pretend I haven't enjoyed reading her work all these years.

Congratulations, MaryAnn.

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Movie Quote of the Week

It‘s good to take care of your family. But remember one thing. Everyone’s your family.
--Emily Osment, Spy Kids 3: Game Over (2003)

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Movie Song of the Week: “Let's Call the Whole Thing Off”

I suppose I could post something snarky about the Republicans, but I'd rather post this song instead. From the 1937 movie Shall We Dance, it's Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers doing one of their most famous songs, a tune that can be interpreted as a salute to political diversity if you wish. (At least if you wait until the very end.) Plus we get to see Ginger Rogers on roller skates. Never a bad thing in my opinion.

If you wish a more topical reference, it should be noted that actress Ginger Rogers was famous for being a Republican. And I seem to recall some other Republican woman being in the news as of late...

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy it.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

R.I.P. Bill Meléndez

Wow! According to the good folks at Vivir Latino, the late Bill Meléndez became the first Mexican animator to work for Walt Disney back in 1938. (No, I don't know if he worked on Three Caballeros. At least not at this moment.) He also worked for Warner Brothers on such cartoons as Falling Hare and Bowery Bugs.

In 1965, he produced A Charlie Brown Christmas, a show for which he later won an Emmy and a Peabody Award. In addition, he also provided the voices for Snoopy and Woodstock -- Snoopy was Mexican? Who knew? -- and produced over 70 other Peanuts specials with Charles Schulz. (Wow! There's been that many Peanuts specials? Okay, I'll stop with the wows.)

I wish I had known more about this man while he was still alive. But at least there are many others who are way more familiar with his work and appreciative of it.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Don LaFontaine

In a world where even the most minor celebrity gets loads of attention, I, your humble servant, forgot to mention the recent death of movie trailer voiceover artist Don LaFontaine. Proof, I guess, that there are members of the movie business who get even less attention than screenwriters.

He will be missed.

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Boulevard of Broken Promises

The hottest political controversy in Dallas right now involves the Dallas City Council's Trinity River committee's decision to disregard a survey it took for the renaming of a local street called Industrial Boulevard. The winning entry in said survey? César Chávez.

Some local politicos have tried to argue that the name César Chávez should be given to another local street called Ross Avenue instead. But there's something about the whole "consolation prize" aspect of that deal that doesn't seem quite right. After all, it was the Trinity River committee's decision to have a survey in the first place. And its decision to imply that whatever name won would be the name chosen. Going back on that decision now not only makes the Dallas City Council look bad, it makes the Dallas City Council look hispanophobic to boot.

Somehow I doubt we'd be experiencing the same controversy had the winner been Big Tex, Stephen F. Austin, or even Walker, Texas Ranger. But as I've noted before, there seems to be an inclination in our society to automatically associate anything Hispanic with inferiority. Which, given the fact that Hispanics are not the ones breaking any political promises in this controversy, seems quite ironic.

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Oh, Where Oh Where Can This Movie Be?

I liked actor Zach Braff well enough in the TV show Scrubs -- at least for the first few seasons. But in 2006's The Last Kiss? No way.

On Scrubs, Braff initially came across as an otherwise likable guy. In this film he came across as an egotist. Not content with the prospect of an upcoming marriage to the mother of his future child, Braff’s character Michael sought escape from the horror of impending monogamy and fatherhood by pursuing a relationship with a young female college student -- a student whose romantic interest seemed more a wish fulfillment fantasy than part of a believable relationship.

To be fair, Michael came across as being not all that bad compared to his male friends -- most of whom had little interest in settling down and who all seemed quite eager to run away from even the slightest hint of a monogamous relationship. But even those jerks were honest with themselves in a way that Michael never was. And it is Michael's insistence on playing the role of “nice guy” -- even when he was not a nice guy -- that ultimately diminished my sympathy for his character.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Feliz Cumpleaños, Salma Hayek

According to another site, Mexican actress Salma Hayek -- one of my favorite actresses -- turned 42 years old yesterday.

And she is still quite a looker from what I can tell.

Here's hoping she had a great birthday.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Literary Quotes I Like

Rudolfo Anaya, Zia Summer
Wilton Barnhardt, Gospel
Wilton Barnhardt, Gospel
Anthony Boucher, The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars
Fredric Brown, The Fabulous Clipjoint
Christopher Buckley, Florence of Arabia
Anton Chekhov, The Seagull
Anton Chekhov, The Seagull
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens, Bleak House
Ben Elton, Popcorn
Guy Endore, The Werewolf of Paris
Bernhardt J. Hurwood, My Savage Muse: The Story of My Life: Edgar Allan Poe
Gary Jennings, Aztec
H. A. Keller, Yesterday's Sin
Rudyard Kipling, “Lispeth”
H.P. Lovecraft, “Supernatural Horror in Literature”
Warren Murphy and James Mullaney, The New Destroyer # 1: Guardian Angel
Robert Rodi, Closet Case
Matt Ruff, Bad Monkeys
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Donald Westlake, “Nackles”
Cornell Woolrich, The Bride Wore Black

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Movie Quote of the Week

If all good men wore medals it wouldn’t be so hard to tell the good from the bad.
--Harry Hayden, Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)

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