Wednesday, June 30, 2004

See For Yourself

Having recently commented on the comments (here)I did the right thing and went to see for myself.

I stand by what I said earlier, Hitchens, O'Reilly and Isikoff do a pretty good job of nitpicking the facts and ignoring the truths. Fahrenheit 911 is not perfect. Parts are over the top, parts are a bit slow, parts may hit below the belt. But what is important about this movie is not that Moore peppers the audience with a list of facts, some slightly out of context, and then draws his own conclusions. Some of those conclusions are reasonable, some are fair questions, others are a stretch that border on conspiracy theories.

The important part of the movie comes in the second half of the film when Moore stops drawing conclusions and switches tactics by simply showing the results of war on human beings. This is the stuff that the nightly news ought to be showing us. I grew up during Vietnam and I remember Walter Cronkite, and body bags coming home, and Life Magazine showing a picture of a naked child running in fear and panic. F911, at its best, is in that category. It does not blink or turn away from shattered limbs and shattered lives.

America needs to see this. And if the evening news won't do it, I'm glad Michael Moore will. There are times that war is necessary, and there are just causes that are worth dying for. I don't believe that the Iraq war is one of those, I believe that it is an unjust war fought for the wrong reasons. But even if it were a war of necessity, the American people should be able to see the truth of war. That is the truth that Moore presents.

So who you gonna believe? Me or your own lying eyes. Go see for yourself.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Teachout Nails It

Quoting James Lileks at length, Terry Teachout sums up my own feelings on the subject.
He's all wet and a yard wide about bossa nova, much less so about Groucho. But right or not, who cares? I still wish I could write like that.
On so many subjects I deeply disagree with Lileks, but lordy can the man write.

Taken at the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Jose
Great Quotes in Photography

Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter. ~Ansel Adams

Monday, June 28, 2004

North Coast

Sadly for me, taking a weekday off of work to avoid the crowds doesn't really work during the vacation season. As my trip to Muir Woods last friday proved. But after a bit of snapping in the Woods, we moved on to Point Reyes which had more of the wide open spaces, sans tourists.

Here are some digital snaps, some taken from a moving car.

Tomales Point

The Historic H Ranch (they all have letter names, H, I, J)

Driving by the Ranch

Point Reyes

Elk Grazing at Point Reyes
Spartan Talent

Not everyone can do David Mamet dialog. People, in his movies, don't speak like you or I. They speak in rhythms and use odd syntax and cliches that only Mamet knows.

Val Kilmer is one of those people who should not speak mimetic dialog.

Happily, Ed O'Neill and (of course) William H. Macy are quite suited to the task.

An otherwise entertaining movie, full of mimetic usual twists, albeit some of them a twist too many, and pessimistic worldview. Unfortunately the lead actor was not up to it.


Friday, June 25, 2004

Off to the Woods of Muir

Sounds like a Led Zeppelin song.

I'll be off on Photo Safari today, so light blogging. Be sure to visit our friends, conveniently located in the blogrolls to the right.

And don't forget to visit

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Mooring your boat to a Hitching post

Christopher Hitchen's piece on Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 at Slate (which has garnered comment here and here), following his vivisection of Ronald Reagan, is the perfect attack piece. Finding some flaws in Moore's arguments and by taking those to their extremes, dismissing the rest of the film.

It is not to me to defend Moore. And if the argument is that his methods of stretching a point to bolster his case, actually gives ammo to his opponents and can weaken his argument, well, I agree. I wish Mike would stick to the facts, and nothing but the facts, because he has them on his side. But as SFGate and Salon both show this morning, some of Mike's critics are distorting his claims and using those distortions to brand him a liar.

Referring to the Michael Isikoff piece in Newsweek, Salon writes,
Isikoff also mischaracterizes what Unger says in the film about FBI interviews of the fleeing bin Ladens. This one is easy to check. In the movie, Moore sums up the Saudi evacuation process by saying: "So a little interview, check the passport, what else?" he asks. "Nothing," Unger replied.

Unger tells War Room, "I never say they were not interviewed. What I do say is this: Given that 48 hours earlier, 3,000 people had just been murdered, this was a time for a serious massive criminal investigation to begin and it didn't happen. Instead, relatively speaking, Saudis were given privileges Americans were not allowed."
I mention the Isikoff piece because Hitchens makes the same point about the interviews, but from this quote it appears that Moore indicated that the interviews were cursory, not non-existent. "...a little interview..., what else?"..."nothing".

Hitchen's states, "he makes heavy innuendoes about the flights that took members of the Bin Laden family out of the country after Sept. 11." However the SFGate and Salon pieces seem to present a more nuanced assessment of whether those innuendoes have any grounding in fact.

This is not to say that Moore doesn't draw conclusions that may not always be grounded in reality, but they are questions worth asking, and the truth is often closer to his view than not. One of the things he has been most criticized for was staging the "open a bank account, get a gun" scene in Bowling for Columbine. It is true that he gave the impression that you could walk into the bank, open an account and walk out with a gun, which was not true, and many have used that to discredit the movie and Moore. But the larger point was true. This bank was offering a gun (albeit with the normal waiting periods) to people who opened a bank account.

By all means, call Moore on his inaccuracies, and if you disagree with his argument, so be it. But, be cautious of allowing Hitchens or O'Reilly to be your standard of veracity.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Bryce Canyon

Still recycling vacation shots. Planning a trip to Muir Woods this Friday.
Mmmmm, new fodder.
Great Quotes in Photography

No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. ~Edward Steichen

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Paycheck, or why we should let Philip K. Dick rest in peace

What a mess. Take a Philip K. Dick short story, hand it to John Woo, muddle up the story with a lot of wacky pseudo science and product-placed motorcycle chases, and cast the animatronic acting device known as Ben Afleck in the lead, this is what you get. Paycheck.

The only thing it has going for it is Uma Thurman's uncanny ability to deliver stilted dialog in the most matter of fact way (see Kill Bill). And it is kind of amusing in a "Mystery Science Theater" kind of way.

By the way, I've seen a lot of John Woo movies, and I still don't get the white doves. What's up with that?

Monday, June 21, 2004

Great Quotes in Photography

No place is boring, if you've had a good night's sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film. ~Robert Adams, Darkroom & Creative Camera Techniques
Along the Waterside

Friday, June 18, 2004

Yabba Dabba Doo

This rock in Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah is known as Fred Flintstone Rock.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Nooooobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

Terry Jones, has a Pythonesque take on the torture scandals.

Read This won't hurt much.

[Link via Altercation]

Tony Pierce of Busblog has a list of rules for Bloggers. While most of what Tony writes can be of questionable veracity, his analysis is usually spot on. And this list rocks!

My personal favorite, number 18.
before you hit Save as Draft or Publish Post, select all and copy your masterpiece. you are using a computer and the internet, shit can happen. no need to lose a good post.

I'm sure I break a number of the rules, but of course, that is what rules are for.
Great Quotes in Photography

The camera cannot lie, but it can be an accessory to untruth. ~Harold Evans, "Pictures on a Page"

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Great Quotes in Photography ~ First in a series

Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships. ~Ansel Adams
The Dilithium Crystals Won't Take It, Cap'n

Leaving Politics aside for a moment, Kevin Drum laments Hollywood's unwillingness to provide us with better fake science.
Dr. Zimmerman, to you

Honorary doctorate to the laureate of folk-rock, Bob Dylan.

Read about it here.
He is after all a Professional

Buzzflash chronicles how Drudge and the freepers have taken aim at Hunter S. Thompson. Somehow I doubt he will be intimidated.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Up and Coming

Went to see the new Harry Potter last night, and must concur with most who have seen it that . Alfonso Cuaron's direction adds subtlety and depth, where before it was an enjoyable but pedestrian retelling of the books.

We were treated to an amazing number of trailers, mostly for up and coming Christmas movies. Most were the usual lot, but there were a couple, based on the trailer, might be worthwhile.

A CGI rendering of The Polar Express. I like CGI animation of the Nemo, Shrek variety, but when they do people, it is kind of like watching shop window mannequins act. Not too sure about this one.

Jim Carrey in multiple roles in Lemony Snicket - A Series of Unfortunate Events. I don't know if Tim Burton is involved in this, but if he's not, he should sue for infringement of style.

For the grownup children, the trailer for Catwoman movie. Halle Berry looks great, and I may have to sneak out to see this. Fun trailer, but what did they do with Batman?
[Update: I hear the buzz on this is terrible. Too bad, nice trailer.]

And last of all, we saw the newest Spiderman trailer. A-Mazing!!! A trailer that practically gets you up out of your seat. Even the wife wants to see this one.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Bits and Pieces

After a short stint as a solo blogger, Michael Blowhard has found his own girl in Chicago, the pseudonymous, Vanessa del Blowhard. What is it with these Chicago girls; they just don't seem to like to give up too many personal details.

A very interesting Lileks today. Just get past the Gnat stuff, and there is a fascinating piece about The Black Dahlia murder case of the 1940's.

Some good entertainment consumption this weekend.
Mystic River: Sean Penn is our generations Al Pacino. Make of that what you will.
Ripley's Game: John Malkovitch is perfectly cast as Patricia Highsmith's sociopath anti-hero.
City of God: This will find itself on to my (and I suspect many other's) best movie lists. A must see. Inventively filmed, well written, riveting story.

Currently reading, Bruce Sterling's latest novel, The Zenith Angle.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Mea Culpa

Sorry for the light blogging this week. Paying work calls.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Oh Ye of Little Faith

That would be me, because with about a minute to go in last nights NBA finals game, I turned to the better half and said, "hon, the boys are going down, stick a fork in it, this one is done."

But Kobe's desperation 3-pointer, with seconds remaining, went in, and the Laker D managed to break up the inbound pass out of the time out, sending the game into overtime. And then with both Kobe and Shaq playing with 5 fouls, my Lakes (yes they are my lakes again) dominated the overtime period to win 99-91.

Why should I have ever doubted? I've been watching the Lakers do this sort of thing since Jerry West hit that 60 foot half court prayer shot to send game 3 of the 1970 finals into overtime against the Knicks. Didn't Derek Fisher do it just a couple of weeks ago with four tenths of a second on the clock. Horry did it a couple of years ago. These guys are stone cold killers, and you never have them beat until the clock flashes 0.00.

These guys obviously have a deal with the devil, but give Mr. Scratch his do, they will surprise you every time. And wo unto him who counts them out before the final buzzer.

Yours truly, eating crow, ever faithful. I'm sorry I ever doubted you. I'll never do it again.

Game note: what a fantastic performance by young Luke Walton, son of Bill. Watch out for this kid.

[Update: King Kaufman at Salon has a similar take, comparing the Lakers endless comebacks to Freddy Kreuger, Jason, and Rasputin. (daypass or subscription required)]

Monday, June 07, 2004


Over at BlogCritics, the Duke shares yet another list. This time it's the 13 best Horror Movies Ever. As a lover of both horror movies and lists, I could not resist but adding my own two cents.

Duke deserves props for some excellent inclusions, but clutters a good part of his list with some obscure zombie and cannibal films and relegates some of the best scares to his also rans. So, in my effort to rectify this, I present my best 13, in no particular order.

1. Suspiria - A very young Jessica Harper, a big brute with gingivitis, maggots falling from the ceiling boards (cuz one man's floor is another man's ceiling), and a ton of Italian style, grace Dario Argento's masterpiece.

2. Dementia 13 - Francis Ford Coppola's directorial debut. Lowest of budgets, but really scary.

3. Dawn of the Dead - Romero's follow up to Night of the Living Dead is more social satire than horror, but remains the standard by which all Zombie movies are rated.

4. Carnival of Souls - This one gave me nightmares as a child. Made for close to nothing, it is one of the great mood pieces of all time. Props to the Duke for including it in his list.

5. Dracula - Tod Browning's 1931 classic, starring Bela Lugosi remains the best of all Vampire movies. While not as faithful to Bram Stoker's novel as some versions, the atmosphere and mood are spot on. Lugosi was literally born to play this role.

6. Black Sunday - The film that introduced the great Mario Bavo to American audiences, along with horror maven, Barbara Steele. It is an atmospheric account of a witch who returns from the dead to terrorize the descendants of her executioners.

7. Alien - A classic horror movie - in space.

8. Army of Darkness - Some would pick Evil Dead II if you are a fan of Sam Raimi's trilogy, but Army of Darkness is the one that firmly establishes Ash as the hero he was born to be. Groovy!

9. Rosemary's Baby - Polanski's film of Ira Levin's novel is witty, scary, and intelligent.

10. Carrie - Brian De Palma at his best. The only film version of a Stephen King novel that is better than the book.

11. Poltergeist - Forget all the lousy sequels and try to remember how really scary this one was when it first came out.

12. The Haunting - Robert Wise's tale of psychological terror works because you never see the ghosts. Proving that the horror unseen is so much scarier than the one you can see.

13. The Exorcist - Here is where the Duke and I part company. I know I said that this list is in no particular order, but in this case, I lied. The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever made (so imagine this list is counting down). The slow pace and documentary feel, the normalness of it, makes you feel like this could happen to you. This is the only horror movie that I can honestly say after many repeated viewings, continues to give me chills.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Kill Bill, Reunited Again

QT has put together both volumes of Kill Bill into the coherent movie it should be and screened it for the first time at Cannes.

Here is a review from the UK website, Empire Online...

Kill Bill - complete.

I'm sure Aaron Haspel will hate it.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Weinsteins to the Rescue

While I don't always agree with everything Michael Moore says, I consider him an important voice and an entertaining filmmaker besides. Despite the flap with Disney, Bob and Harvey Weinstein have put down the bucks to insure that it can be seen. Slated for a June 25th release, American audiences will have the chance to see his latest pic, Fahrenheit 911. It has already won top honors at Cannes, and is sure to inspire controversy and debate.

See the trailer here.

[Hate to say it, but the QT link seems a bit flaky, so try the Windows Media Player.]

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Barroom Bards and Bordello Brawlers

Via the Onion AV Club, a review of John Dullaghan's documentary on Charles Bukowski. Sounds like a worthwhile rental when it finds its way onto DVD, though the AV Club takes it to task for its uncritical approach.

Born Into This

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Phlogging Futurballa

As mentioned below there are some new images in the Futurballa Store, but I failed to let you have a peak. For those of you who are not through clickers, here they are in glorious FuturScope.


Narrows at Zion

George Wallace, he of A Fool in the Forest, commented in a previous post that he was curious to hear my assessment of Big Fish.

Never one to walk away from a challenge, I will take the bait and give my review of Tim Burton's Big Fish.

Firstly, I liked it. In some ways it was a return to form for Burton after the nice to look at, but trite Planet of the Apes remake, and the also nice to look at, but somewhat pointless Sleepy Hollow. I admit to having a soft spot for Burton and having enjoyed both of those films, but they definitely weren't up to his best work, such as Edward Scissorhands and my personal favorite, Ed Wood. Big Fish has the look that Burton is famous for, but it also has the heart that makes his best movies stand out.

Watching the film, I got the same sort of nostalgic feeling for small time America of the past that I get from certain other books and movies. This is possibly some sort of archetypical memory that all Americans experience, but having grown up in West Hollywood and being the son and grandson of immigrants it is unlikely to be genetic memory. The Hardy Boys and certain Disney live action movies like Polyanna are good examples of the genre. Even better, it also reminded me of the wonderful George Pal film 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.

More particularly and more interestingly this is the magical world of small town America that Ray Bradbury summons in books like Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Burton also seems to share this connection to the past, and the protagonist of Big Fish, Edward Bloom's fantastical life is an homage to this lost world. I also had the feeling of a man "unstuck in time", as Billy Pilgrim of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, re-lived his life in no particular order, all moments in time being one.

Or perhaps the true inspiration was another Bloom that is famous for his travels.

Billy Crudup mumbles his way through an uninspiring character, and the wonderful Jessica Lange is sadly under-utilized. The film relies a bit too heavily on narration for my taste. But Albert Finney as the elderly Bloom and Ewan McGregor as his younger self are a delight. Along with supporting roles from Danny De Vito, Steve Buscemi and Helena Bonham Carter that are charming and original. The film is fun, nostalgic, and warm without becoming overly sentimental or manipulative. It is a perfect Tim Burton vehicle and well worth a seeing.

Mr. Wallace, the ball is in your court.