Penguins & Dogs & Plastics

Carol & I went to see two more movies recently.

Must Love Dogs stars the luminescent Diane Lane and the wonderful John Cusack. I REALLY wanted to love this movie. But you know that a romantic comedy isn’t working when 1) you don’t laugh and 2) you don’t get a sense of chemistry between the two who are “destined to be together, even if they don’t know it yet.” In fact, the only time I really believed them as a potential couple was during the end credits, when in fact, they WERE a couple reflecting back on their courtship. Part of the problem with the laughs was that old story- the best ones show up in the previews.
Other fine actors, including as Christopher Plummer, who plays Lane’s father (and blind date! – this is revealed in the trailer) also appear, but I didn’t much care about any of the characters EXCEPT the Stockard Channing character, who plays one of the Plummer character’s girlfriends. It’s not an AWFUL film, but it is lacklustre.
And the title is SO wrong, since NEITHER character actually owns a dog.

March of the Penguins is a very right title for a very right film. These noble birds that don’t fly go through a tortured year-long process in an attempt to bring their young into the world. I lost count how many 70-mile treks the animals had to make. I couldn’t help but think about two things, though:
1) If humans had to go through so much in order to create babies, we’d have zero population in no time – no, make that negative population growth.
2) How the heck did the filmmaker get such compeling footage under such adverse conditions? We’re talking Antarctic winter, -80 F. And the summer is not a day at the beach, either.

We also rented a video of The Graduate, an iconic movie I admitted to never seeing here. One of the things someone told me is that I might find it dated.
Lessee: Young man has relationship with female friend of his parents, but prefers the company of HER daughter. Gets chewed out by the cuckolded husband. Sounds like the plot of last week’s Jerry Springer show.
Truth is that I LOVED this movie, from Dustin Hoffman’s “what the heck do I do now?” college grad (been there), to the late Anne Bancroft’s sultry seduction (I’ve almost been there) to the Simon & Garfunkel score (I live there) to doing the absolutely irrational for love (boy, have I been THERE). It also features one of my favorite actors, William Daniels from the TV show St. Elsewhere. This was my first viewing, but definitely not my last.

Ramblin’ Mumblings

For some reason, most of these postings are political. Except for one, I didn’t seek them out; they were e-mailed to me, or I tripped over them somehow.

ADVERTISING

Vote for your favorite advertising icon and slogan here in honor of Advertising Week in late September.

BASEBALL

Heard about the legendary eephus pitch?

MUSIC

Apparently, Van Morrison is the third to the last musician in the world with his own website. It contains free live cuts from his forthcoming album. BTW, Van’s birthday is at the end of this month, so listen to lots of his tunes.

POLITICS

Jim Wallis, the editor of Sojourners magazine, and the author of “God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It”, writes a piece for the NY Times op/ed page.

The energy bill that W signed this week has a few good aspects, but also has a lot of corporate welfare, especially if one is from Texas.

My friend Mark writes: “Turn on any ‘Classic Rock’ station and chances are within a few days you will hear two songs by the ’60’s group Steppenwolf: ‘Born to Be Wild’ and ‘Magic Carpet Ride.’ Adrenalin-pumping music to be sure. On the other hand,
you won’t hear songs of social commentary that are as relevant today as they were then. Maybe we should call this in to their request lines: ‘Monster’ by Steppenwolf“.

I love the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq looking for answers from W in Crawford. Cindy Sheehan is being called The Lone Star Iconoclast. She’s obviously struck a nerve, because even the mainstream media have picked up the story.

Quote from the blogisphere: “Besides telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children, and die, the Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our lives.”

And if you live in a strong Republican/conservative district, , don’t give up hope.

Ben Stein does a regular opinion piece on CBS Sunday Morning. A couple weeks ago, he recommended that W stand tough and support Karl Rove. To give in would be give the liberals that taste of blood they want. He’s probably right. But I’ll say it again: Fire Karl Rove.

Read about the campaign to stop genocide in DARFUR, the Sudan, where 200,000 to 400,000 people have been killed. The organizers believe that tactics like petitions, calls and letters are all a part of how W and his advisers are gauging public opinion with regard to the appropriate next steps to stop the atrocites. He “WILL NOT provide the necessary leadership without confidence that public opinion will support an international humanitarian intervention.” And maybe not even then, I fear. This organization is helping the refugee women.

United Methodist Bishops Back Complete Ban on Nuclear Weapons; Church Joins in Prayer for Victims of Hiroshima, Nagasaki Bombings.

WORKING HARD

There’s a scam artist calling himself Arthur DiLorenzo who’s been targeting churches in the Northeast in the past; he has resurfaced. One church received a call from him recently. His story usually involves starting a new job and not being paid yet, or traveling and getting stranded, but his demand is to have money wired to him.
With minor variations, it’s a story that’s been told to pastors up and down the eastern seaboard. Something to be aware of, in case you hear of a similar call.

I got an e-mail with an article that immediately seemed funky. “Worker dead at desk for 5 days” is an urban legend.

Blog Mixed CD Review-Chris2

NAME: Chris Brown
BLOG NAME: LeftyBrown’s Corner 6/20 (2nd)
NAME OF CD: Under Cover, Disc Two
NUMBER OF CUTS: 16
RUNNING TIME: 68:26
COVER ART: Nicely typed
SONG LIST: His post of June 20
SUBSEQUENTLY REVIEWED BY: Gordon on October 6
GENERAL THOUGHTS: If I had heard this independent of the first disc, I’d say it was very good. And it really IS very good. It’s just that the sequencing of the first disc was SO outstanding, and it spoiled me; somehow the flow on this one wasn’t quite there for me as much. Three Leonard Cohen covers are cool, though.
THINGS I PARTICULARLY LOVED: The fact that he listed the original artists. Uptown Girl. Turning Japanese. I Got You Babe. The Nick Cave cut ends the CD well.
ON THE OTHER HAND: Somehow, the Dead’s Queen Jane drags on approximately too long.
OFFICE FRIENDLY: As far as I could tell. (Some guttural pieces are hard to suss.)
ONLY VAGUELY RELATED: I suppose this really is one humungous CD and that I should review the two discs as one entity. But I didn’t. So there.

Blog Mixed Bag CD Review-Chris1

In case you haven’t a clue what a Lefty Brown is.

NAME: Chris “Lefty” Brown
BLOG NAME: LeftyBrown’s Corner
NAME OF CD: Under Cover, Disc One
NUMBER OF CUTS: 19
RUNNING TIME: 76:05
COVER ART: Nicely typed
SONG LIST: His post of June 17
SUBSEQUENTLY REVIEWED BY: Gordon on October 6
GENERAL THOUGHTS: I love this album. I love the fact that the cover versions were intriguing. I love the fact that Chris does the linkages: cover of U2 to cover BY U2 to cover of U2, for example.
THINGS I PARTICULARLY LOVED: The fact that he listed the original artist. “One” by Warren Haynes (I was expecting JR Cash, who shows up later). The Duhks. FRED (yee-haw barbershop). The Stanford Marching Band!
ON THE OTHER HAND: What the heck is FRED? ‘splain, Lefty.
OFFICE FRIENDLY: Except for Rage Against the Machine
ONLY VAGUELY RELATED: When Otis Redding heard Aretha Franklin’s version of “Respect”, he reportedly said, “That girl stole that song from me.” Trent Reznor said the same thing about Johnny Cash re: Hurt. Well, not EXACTLY that, but: “…that song in particular came from a pretty private, personal place. So it seemed, well, like that’s my song… It was a big juxtaposition for me to hear it as someone else’s song now. It instantly became his song after that.”