November 9, 2007

Roger Ebert reviews "No Country for Old Men"

A Coen brothers film about a ruthless killer, this film has been on my list since I saw the first preview. Haven't seen it yet, but Ebert gives it four stars, and says it's as good as Fargo. Is your interest piqued yet? There is a spoiler warning, though, because of analysis of a possible plot hole, so read carefully.

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August 24, 2007

Jamie Foxx Defends the Indefensible

In an Access Hollywood interview, Jamie Foxx defended Michael Vick's federal dog-fighting and dog-torturing charges by saying,

“It’s a cultural thing, I think. Most brothers didn’t know that, you know. I used to see dogs fighting in the neighborhood all the time. I didn’t know that was Fed time. So, Mike probably just didn’t read his handbook on what not to do as a black star. I know that cruelty to animals is bad, but sometimes people shoot people and kill people and don’t get time. I think in this situation, he really didn’t know the extent of it, so I always give him the benefit of the doubt.”
What I want to know is, since when is extreme cruelty to animals a "cultural thing"? Are Vick and Foxx so lacking in common sense that they don't know that running a dog-fighting operation is morally repugnant? How can you watch dogs rip each other apart, or kill a dog by electrocuting it or slamming its body into the concrete and not "know the extent of it"? How is that acceptable behavior by any human being? If I were a black American, I would take great offense at having that kind of psychopathic behavior attributed to my "culture."

What's really disturbing about Foxx's remarks is that for centuries, white Americans used similar reasoning to excuse their cruel and degrading treatment of black people. "Oh, my granddaddy was taught that black people were only three-fifths of a person, so he just didn't know any better." Or, "The overseer was the one who punished the slaves who didn't work hard enough or tried to run away. My granddaddy didn't know the extent of it." Just because someone else is worse than you are doesn't excuse your bad behavior. Every person has an obligation to educate themselves and pay attention to their moral compass. If you don't have one, then you probably should be in a mental hospital or in jail.

March 13, 2007

Letter about General Pace's Comments

Most of my writing lately seems to be in the form of letters to the editor, so I thought would post some of them. Here's a letter I wrote to the White House concerning Gen. Pace's comment that discrimination against gays in the military was justified because homosexuality is, according to him, "immoral."

In the same way that in the early 20th Century, President Wilson announced that soldiers in WWI were "bringing freedom and democracy" to Europe, while at home women were denied the right the vote, President Bush is claiming that the U.S. is "bringing freedom and democracy" to Iraq, while our armed forces continue a discriminatory policy against gays and lesbians in the service. Our national hypocrisy on this issue cannot stand, and the attitude of General Pace is ignorant and bigoted. No person has the ability to choose their sexual orientation, so morality has nothing to do with it. In an era when people willing to serve are in short supply, we can ill afford to exclude brave men and women on the basis of an irrelevant characteristic. Sexual orientation has no more effect on morale than did race during WWII, and its continuation as a basis for discrimination is equally wrong--morally wrong.

I am heterosexual, and I am not a member of the military, so I do not have a personal agenda, but I feel very strongly that lack of leadership on this issue will be looked back on with contempt by future generations. If "all men are created equal," then we must treat them that way, and not create an underclass based on biologically-determined characteristics. Neither gender nor race nor sexual orientation should keep any American from the pursuit of happiness.

February 18, 2007

Oscar Party 2007

My Oscar Party invitation for 2007.

February 17, 2007

South Beach Views

Here's a short movie I took when I was staying at the Albion Hotel in Miami Beach back in October. I woke up early and the recorded the view from the window at sunrise. I love the way the pastel colors of the buildings are enhanced by the pink light of morning.

February 3, 2007

New Year, High Resolution

So, I didn't go into all the gory details, but suffice it to say that I returned from what was supposed to be a fun holiday trip thoroughly demoralized. Nothing cheers a gal up like hearing that your boyfriend of two months still loves his crazy ex, and then enduring a 9-hour car trip home with him. Anyway, I decided to try to use the abundant pain I was feeling to motivate myself anew to tackle some projects I'd been wanting to address for some time. The confluence of late nights at the office and online bill pay had meant that there were a lot of paper bills and account statements that had been paid or otherwise dealt with, but that never had been filed. These had formed an onerous mountain of paper that needed to be sorted through, but the prospect was daunting. I had tackled it at various times, but only gotten part way each time.

Then along came the January Ice Storm of 2007, when I was stuck inside for three days, along with my visiting mother, who provided immeasurable moral support and advice. I ferreted out all the piles, separated out paper to be recycled and envelopes to be discarded, put everything into folders, and made new folders where needed. The project was 90 percent done after the intitial three-day push, but I still spent January's remaining weekends creating and filling more files with the papers that defied initial categorization, and my mom created a little card and correspondence file for me that helps me remember all the kind things people have done for me over the years.

It's hard to describe the feeling of freedom in knowing that there are no more bags of papers lurking in corners somewhere, waiting to jump out at me just when I think I've got things straight. Now my file drawers are so full that I need to remove some things and create an archive, but at least now I know where everything is. What a great feeling!

January 5, 2007

New Orleans, New Year, Inauspicious Beginning

I received an invitation from my friend Misty to visit her in New Orleans for New Year's, so I decided to drive over for the weekend. The drive over was one of the scariest experiences of my life, since it was raining hard the whole time, and flat out pouring more than 50 percent of the trip. Still, my companion and I made pretty good time for leaving at 6:30 on Friday, and a bit after 3 in the morning, pulled onto Bourbon Street where her apartment is. (She lives on the quiet end of the street, further into the Quarter, needless to say.)

Just driving over the overpasses into town sent chills down my spine, since the last time I had seen them was on television during Katrina, when desperate people were stranded on the highways around the Superdome and bodies were floating in the water. Some houses on Esplanade still bore the tell-tale pie markings, evidence that the house had been searched for survivors, but most had been repainted and repaired, and some were even decorated for the holidays. Still, New Orleans has always been like Venice, a dying city that has borrowed time from the surrounding lagoon, and that has spent its precarious days steeped in vice and hoping for one more sex-and-alcohol-fueled night's reprieve from watery oblivion.

I should have known better than to expect a different outcome when accompanying a heavy drinker to New Orleans for New Year's, but I guess I was in a charitable mood for Christmas. The entire city, with its 24-hour booze cycle and ever-available to-go cups is like a giant enabler for alcoholics. As it turned out, there was rather too much wine-fueled confession for the trip to be very pleasant for me. But I did enjoy seeing the city again, and the way that at least some of the culture had returned--not to mention a lot of the bad behavior.

There's an air of desperation on Bourbon St., with its perpetual smell of stale beer and cigarettes, and the way that pop hits only tangentially connected to the city's native blues and jazz blare from bars advertising "big ass beers" to go. All of mankind's worst faults are on prominent display, while corpulent tourists with decades-old hairstyles stagger from bar to bar, holding fluorescent drink cups filled with over-sweetened ethanol, and wearing vulgar t-shirts loudly proclaiming their shortcomings.

We took the ferry over to Algiers on Saturday, and waited out the rain in a bar for a couple of hours--the way a lot of time is spent in NOLA. Misty and I tried Abita, I think.

I revisited Cafe Du Monde, which was as crowded as ever, and as sticky with powdered sugar residue. We speculated as to how many pounds of sugar they go through every day, seeing as they pour about a quarter pound on every serving of beignets. Still, yum.

We watched the fireworks in Jackson Square, surrounded by a motley assortment of college kids, hippie slackers, young professionals, and millionaires in diamonds and mink coats--a melting pot, indeed.