Last night, I had to run out to the store to pick up a few necessities, and spotted a DVD of the 1995 Roger Corman-produced direct-to-video superhero flick Black Scorpion, starring Joan Severance, for a mere five bucks. I generally enjoy Severance's movies (Criminal Passion, Lake Consequence -- co-starring Billy Zane!) because of their cheerfully unashed low-budget (yet professionally produced) trashiness, so I grabbed this one.
It is the judgment of the Democratic Staff that four distinct patterns of conduct disqualify John Bolton for the post of U.N. ambassador:
(1) Mr. Bolton repeatedly sought the removal of intelligence analysts who disagreed with him; (2) in preparing speeches and testimony, Mr. Bolton repeatedly tried to stretch intelligence to fit his views;
(3) in his relations with colleagues and subordinates in and out of government, Mr. Bolton repeatedly exhibited abusive behavior and intolerance for different views; and
(4) Mr. Bolton repeatedly made misleading, disingenuous or non-responsive statements to the Committee.
Most disappointing to me in this whole sorry episode is the fact that one of my Senators, Republican Dick Lugar -- a man I normally respect for his traditional conservatism -- has seemed willing to be Bush's cabana boy in this process.
Lugar told the panel, "It would be absolutely extraordinary circumstances" for the Senate to not approve the person Bush thought was right for the job.
...meaning, of course, that Senate approval of a President's nominee should be the default, except in "absolutely extraordinary circumstances," and reducing the Senate to a mere rubber stamp.
Memo to Senator Lugar: The Constitution says nothing about the Senate's duty to rubber-stamp the President's nominees on the grounds that he should "pick his team." The operative words are "advise and consent." Your sad concession of Senatorial privilege in the name of so patently unfit a nominee does great harm to your reputation. Shame on you, sir.
Update:Clemons reports that maverick Republican Senator George Voinovich has resistend the Bush Administration's arm-twisting campaign and will oppose Bolton's nomination in the committe vote. Excellent.
...to The Cunning Realist, an honest conservative blogger I've been remiss in not linking before. Why the permalink? This post by TCR says it all:
I don't think anything I've posted here has been "anti-conservative." On the contrary, actually, most of what I've written has been anti-intellectual dishonesty, anti-statism, pro-common sense and pro-Constitutional rights. I've also tried to make the point that there are times when being a conservative does not necessarily mean you are a Republican; since I believe some elements of this Republican Party have morphed into a vehicle for crass opportunism unmoored from both reality and ideological heritage, this is one of those times. The fact that much of the interest in this blog seems to come from traditionally liberal readers tells me that there is far less that separates intelligent, clear-thinking people from the two main political spheres than most suspect and some dogma-blinded nuts on both sides would have you believe. That's encouraging.
Since I've been concentrating on writing reviews rather than blogging over the last few weeks, it undoubtedly hasn't escaped the notice of my regular readers (all three of them) that many of my posts have simply been links to posted reviews.
I'm mildly curious, and so would ask my regular readers (a.t.o.t.): Do y'all click over and read the reviews? If so, have any of the reviews influenced you to check out or avoid a particular film?
Please share your opinion in this post's comment thread.
AP: Have you found it confining to be known primarily as Luke Skywalker?
Hamill: Jackie Gleason had "The Honeymooners" — there are other parallels to people that do things that sort of transcend everything else they've ever done. And you can either get frustrated and focus on the negative aspect of that or you can just let it roll of your back like water off a duck's back, laugh and move on. Because if I didn't believe that the most interesting challenges were ahead of me, I probably would retire. I've invested well, I'm not hurting for money. To me, 'Harrigan 'n Hart' (a musical Hamill starred in for its brief 1985 run) is one of the biggest triumphs of my career, and yet it was not considered a commercial success. But for someone like me who had never done a musical before to hold my own among people that had done 30 musicals, that really felt like an accomplishment to me. The Drama Desk nomination for best actor in a musical was just icing on the cake. Yea, I would have loved to have it run and maybe it would have changed my career because I love theater so much. I think theater has given me the opportunity to show what a character actor I can be.
AP: But when it's all said and done, do you have some pride to have played one of the most famous heroes of all time?
Hamill: You know where it comes from? It's not so much from the industry ... but the 9-year-old kid who looks at you like a cross between Superman and Santa Claus. And you'd have to be a really, really hardened cynic not to be moved by that. Not only that, but just doing the interviews for this animation series, I can't tell you how many people have said, "I got into the business because of that movie." ... I totally understand that because I remember walking out of "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963) and saying, "I don't know how they got those skeletons to fight, but someday I want that to be my job. To make skeletons fight. I never saw myself so much as an actor. I wanted to be a cartoonist like Charles Schulz and create my own world and be able to have a studio at home and not commute and be able to be with my family. I just didn't have the skills to pull that off and so I've gravitated toward theater because I like all of it.
The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says. Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.
His comments at a Washington forum describe spirited debates over terrorist intelligence and provide rare insight into the inner workings of the nation's homeland security apparatus.
Ridge said he wanted to "debunk the myth" that his agency was responsible for repeatedly raising the alert under a color-coded system he unveiled in 2002.
"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' "
Kevin Drum asks the obvious question: "On the Daily Show last week, Ridge was adamant that politics was never, ever involved in raising the alert level. But if it wasn't politics, what was it?"
Using a skull shape determined by hundreds of recent CT scans, three groups of researchers have independently produced busts showing what Egypt's King Tutankhamen probably looked like on the day of his death about 3,300 years ago.
The three images show the 19-year-old boy-king as a rather delicate young man with chubby cheeks, an unusually shaped head and a receding chin.
"In my opinion, the shape of the face and skull are remarkably similar to a famous image of Tutankhamen as a child, where he is shown as the sun god at dawn rising from a lotus blossom," said Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The efforts show that the science and techniques of forensic reconstruction can be a useful tool for constructing the likenesses of people who lived long ago, he said.
The work was based on sophisticated CT scans of the mummy taken Jan. 5 in his tomb at Luxor in the Valley of the Kings. CT scanning, typically used for medical diagnoses, can be used to produce three-dimensional images.
Those scans showed that Tut was a healthy, well-fed young man at the time of his death and yielded no evidence of foul play.
The father of an 8-year-old girl who was slain along with her best friend admitted to authorities that he was the killer, saying he was angry at the girl for breaking curfew, authorities said Wednesday. A judge denied bond Wednesday for Jerry Hobbs after prosecutors described a videotaped interview in court in which he allegedly told investigators he stabbed the girls to death.
Hobbs' 8-year-old daughter, Laura Hobbs, and her friend Krystal Tobias, 9, were found dead Monday in a park in Zion, the day after they vanished.
The father, who had been released from a Texas prison last month, told investigators he was angry at Laura when he tracked her and Krystal in the wooded park, punched her and then killed both girls, prosecutors said.
Hobbs, shackled and in a dark blue jail uniform, stared at the floor as Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Jeff Pavletic described the case against him.
Hobbs led police to their bodies Monday morning, claiming then that he found them while searching for his missing daughter. In videotaped interviews, however, prosecutors say Hobbs told them he killed the girls, stabbing his daughter repeatedly in the neck and eyes, after Laura refused to leave the park when he ordered her to go home.
State's attorney Michael Waller told NBC's Today earlier Wednesday that the father had showed a lack of emotion and that "things didn't add up" in his interviews with police.
The prosecutor said Hobbs went looking for his daughter and that Krystal "just happened to be there," before the father killed both girls.
I've ranted before about idiots leave their kids in a car on hot summer days. This case, though, makes me phisically sick to consider. I've been angry at The Girls before, as is inevitable with any parent, but simply can't imagine how someone could stab his eight-year-old daughter to death.
This morning I donated platelets at the local blood center. As entertainment, I watched a DVD of Hong Kong romantic comedy Good Times, Bed Times that I'd picked up at the local library. I enjoyed the film very much, and I figured my lovely wife would as well, so we watched it together this evening. (Yes, she did enjoy the film.)
I have had a long talk with the Count. I asked him a few questions on Transylvania history, and he warmed up to the subject wonderfully. In his speaking of things and people, and especially of battles, he spoke as if he had been present at them all.This he afterwards explained by saying that to a Boyar the pride of his house and name is his own pride, that their glory is his glory, that their fate is his fate. Whenever he spoke of his house he always said "we", and spoke almost in the plural, like a king speaking. I wish I could put down all he said exactly as he said it, for to me it was most fascinating. It seemed to have in it a whole history of the country. He grew excited as he spoke, and walked about the room pulling his great white moustache and grasping anything on which he laid his hands as though he would crush it by main strength.
I haven't done one of these in a while, but today I nipped off to the store suring lunch, and I picked up a pair of martial arts flicks starring Bolo Yeung -- 1989's Bloodfight (also starring Simon Yam) and 1991's Breathing Fire -- on a single DVD for $2.50. c00L!
While researching links for a movie review I'm working on, I stumbled across LoveHKFilm.com's movie recommendations. It's worth a look, as are many of the films recommedned therein. The webmaster reveals his overwhelming fondness for Chungking Express, which makes me resove -- yet again -- to sit down and watch it again. I ordered it on DVD ages ago, and still have yet to watch it in that medium (although I've seen it several times on videotape).
If you're new to Kong Kong cinema, this list is a decent place to start.
I also notice that, in addition to many other worthy films, the webmaster also gave the Anita Mui/Leslie Cheung ghost story/tragic romance Rouge his "highest possible recommendation."