Category Archives: Media

The Ruining of Red Dawn

I’ve been meaning to post this for quite a while, and this lunch I feel the need to write a bit. As some of you may know, the classic 80’s anti-Communist movie Red Dawn was recently remade for a new generation. There was a lot of hype for this movie while it was being made. Lots of ink spilled about how this was going to be a defining pro-American, patriotic movie for kids, like the original was for my generation. Then… nothing. Well, now we know why: MGM got bought out by new interests, and I guess the Chinese market’s pretty important to them. You see, to bring the story line up to date, you can’t have the Russians and the Cubans be the invaders — it’s the Red Chinese that are the bad guys.

I can only paraphrase so much. Go read this and come back; it’s well worth it.

Back now? Good. I heard recently that the movie is set to be distributed next year, and haven’t heard word if it’s still hacked to pieces by bean counters. If it is, I vow not to see the movie. If you don’t understand why this is a Bad Thing, then I’m not sure if I could explain it to you.

By the way, if you feel like multi-national interests have too much control over the major movie industry, and would like to see a revival of American movies (and yes, there are such things as German movies, French movies, Chinese movies — and this isn’t a bad thing for the target audiences), check out Declaration Entertainment. I give regularly.

(Totally) Awesome People Hanging Out Together

Pointed to me by a post on Daring Fireball, this is a Tumblr photo blog that’s just fun to spend some time on. There’s tons of classic, behind the scenes stuff to marvel at here. I love the one of Pee Wee Herman, Rodney Dangerfield, and David Lee Roth. Of another time.

Rube Goldberg to the Max

Wow. Yes, I know I’m probably the last person to scream about this video, but I’m impressed. This is probably the most impressive Rube Goldberg machine that I’ve ever seen. It’s… pretty wonderful. If you haven’t seen it, sit down and watch. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never heard of OK Go before this. I like the song, too, actually.

What’s Real and What’s Not?

Find yourself 4 minutes and watch the video below, from Stargate Studios. My jaw was dropping watching this. It was found via The Anchoress, that remarked that “this video made her sad”. Don’t worry, though — even though I get where’s she’s coming from, I think it causes surprise more than sadness.

So here’s the sadness part: in the past, I thought I could tell what was “real” and what was not on TV shows. It was either stuff that didn’t look real (Shrek) or stuff that was obviously too expensive to do in real life (scenes of major natural disaster). Now? Not so much. So, when do you think they’ll start doing this with people? 10 years? 15?

Getting in Trouble with Your Camera Phone

This story plays into every new Dad’s nightmares: how can I prove this kid is really mine? Well, maybe not every new Dad has this thought, but I remember reading about it when Daughter the Younger was just born. You think about being out with just your kid, and something comes up (that part’s never filled in), and suddenly you’re expected to prove the kid is yours. Not easy. It’s not like I carry around her birth certificate everywhere I go!

So this poor guy takes a snapshot of his son on a mall ride, and boom, he’s being accused of being a perv. I’m glad the guy stood up for himself, and I hope the security guard — at least — gets a good teachin’ about how taking pictures of your kid isn’t weird or dangerous. There’s a difference between some guy sitting all by himself in the park for extended periods of time taking photos of kids that obviously aren’t his and taking a snapshot of one particular kid you’re interacting with. Common sense should be a pretty easy indicator for right and wrong here.

Authority figures in both the United States and Great Britain — but especially Britain — has been progressively been getting more and more touchy with photo taking during this past decade. I think it’s part due to terrorist threats and the stress of living in a creeping panopticon type society that’s tweaking people out. Probably the worst trend in the States has been police trying to stop citizens from taking photographs of them doing their job in public. Instapundit has done a good job of tracking this trend. It’s flat out dangerous. (Who watches the watchers, and all that.) In a creeping surveillance society, it’s actually MORE important that authority itself gets surveilled more aggressively by the public.

Julie & Julia: the Great and Not So Great

My wife and I sat down to the first adult movie we’ve seen in a while last night: Julie & Julia. It’s a year old now, so this isn’t breaking news, but this is how things go when you have kids. Slowly. So, first the good: Meryl Streep is fantastic as Julia Child. I’m not up on all the Oscar movies, but if she won Best Actress, it would be deserved. On the screen, she’s truly a force to be reckoned with. The picture also did a great job of advertising just how wonderful good French cooking can be, with all its decadent and wonderful components. Butter and cream! Sans tarder!

Now, the not so great. OK, so honestly, the Republican bashing wasn’t just annoying, it was weird. In one part of the story, her boss is chewing her out for (he believes) calling in sick just to blog. Out of the blue, he says, “Anyone else would fire you. A Republican would fire you!” OK, weird. It didn’t make me mad, really, but it did take me and my wife completely out of the story for a minute. There’s also a sub-plot with Julia’s husband being recalled to Washington, D.C. for some Senator McCarthy hearings. Now, I have no idea if this story was in the original Child book about her time in France — maybe — but it felt contrived. Hollywood really does have a psychological problem with the McCarthy hearings, in that they just cannot put it behind them. Guys, it was almost 60 years ago. It would be like Hollywood of the 50’s reminding you time and time again about the poor way the Anarchists were treated in the 1890’s. That would be bizarre too, don’t you think?

Earth Abides: My Review

Last week, I finished listening to a book recommended to me as one of the greatest sci-fi books ever: George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides. I say listened, since this was the Audible version of the book, and not the reading version of the book. And yeah, I hate when people refer to listening to a book as “reading”. Confusing!

The story is told from the point of view of one character, named Isherwood Williams, or Ish, and takes place in the last 1940’s. The world has been hit by a virus that dwarfs anything that’s come before, killing 99.9999% of the population. I’m not giving anything away here, since is given up literally in the first page of the book. Only a very small handful of humans are left to roam the world.

First, the good. The book is half-way an intellectual study of how ecologically the Earth would be affected by such a massive and abrupt depopulation. How long do the works of Man remain? How are other creatures affected by our departure? What isn’t affected? If this was the only thrust of the book, while it might be a bit boring, it would also be enjoyable and interesting to some extent. The Earth itself becomes the main character in this case, while the human becomes the passive viewer.

Now the bad part of the book. The author also decided that he would take a stab at what would happen to humanity in these trials, and how civilization would perform and, perhaps, survive. While I won’t give away the ending, let’s just say that unless it’s a complete red herring — and I don’t think it is — the author isn’t very hopeful that such small numbers of humans left would be sufficient. Probably most annoying is the main character, Ish. I believe him to represent the very worst of the intellectual, technocratic thread that ran through Western Civilization during the first half of the 20th century, peaking during the early parts of the FDR administration. To these arrogant “smart” people, most of the population are illiterate, simple, dull creatures that need to be led by the hand to the “right” paths. Only very, very few people have the capacity to plan or to see beyond the end of their nose. So, therefore, the biggest problem with the almost-complete destruction of the human race is that there’s so few of the intellectuals left. Oh, there’s the cattle, but if you believe the main character, out of 20+ kids, only a single one had the capability to learn to read. “If only more people were like himself!”, the Ish moans.

Blather. To believe this nonsense, you’d have to believe that to read, you’d need to have an IQ of 140+, assuming 100 is the average. This is obviously not true, and the only way someone could possibly believe that is if they live in a self-contained bubble of their family and academia where they believe themselves to only be in the presence of the gifted class. Disgusting. It sounds plausible if you only give it a few seconds thought: the world’s problems are caused by the sub-intelligent, careless, and evil of the world, and if we only gave the reins over to the good, enlightened experts, we’d be saved! Unfortunately for this viewpoint, most of the world’s problems are caused by the experts.

So, no, I can’t really recommend this book. By all means, though, go to the Amazon page linked to above and read the reviews. I’m certainly in the minority with this opinion.

Back From a Desert Island… ROCK SUGAR!

This Saturday I think I don’t want to write about anything… serious. At all. Instead I wanted to point you to the next CD that I’ll be buying for my daughters’ continuing rock education: Rock Sugar’s Reimanginator. I mentioned this yesterday on Twitter, but this is worth a little more time to get the word out. More than 144 characters, at least. If you were musically aware in the 1980’s, you need to clear your busy calendar and spend the next six minutes watching this.

Wow, right? I mean, it’s the very opposite of ground breaking, but still fantastic, in a bacon and chocolate kind of way. Maybe not good for you, but so fun to consume. Note that you can listen to a large part of each song on the CD on their site. Thanks to John Scalzi for the link fun.

Public Service Announcement, British Style

The Anchoress over at First Things posted this yesterday, and I wanted to share it. It’s a public service annoucement  from Britain, and an effective one. I showed it to my wife last night, and she was moved. The look on the actors’ faces when things start to go bad is just amazing.

Creepy Audi Super Bowl Commercial

This year’s crop of hyper-expensive Super Bowl commercials was, in this blogger’s opinion, a little underwhelming. A few stood out on the plus side, but man, did one stand out on the minus: the “green” Audi commercial. Yes, I know it was some sort of satire and meant to be taken with tongue firmly in cheek. Still, I just don’t get the impression that the maker’s of this piece of alt-history really got how scary this would be. They offer up this eco-totalitarian world where you can be arrested for all sorts of ridiculous things, but wait! Here’s your way out! The diesel Audi! Is the scenario impossible? Probably, but I’m positive that there are a small minority of people watching it that are nodding inwardly saying, “Well, of course we wouldn’t go through people’s garbage, but really, there oughta be a law about (fill in the blank eco-faux pas)”.

Anyway, watch for yourself. Am I just not seeing the humor in it? Does this help or hurt Audi’s brand?

[Update: 2/8/2010] Jim Geraghty noticed the same issues, and ties it in with Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism.