Benny's World

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Tiny Tim Inspiration

I saw this on Balloon Juice yesterday. Not one of my regular stops on the blogs, but this really hit my funny bone.

Sorry--couldn't the copy and paste to work properly. Go to the video directly. It's worth your while, and if you are a UU, it will definitely resonate with you.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Teh Movie that Shouldn't be Mentioned by Name

On New Year's Eve, Mr. Benny and I went to see the latest Baz Luhrmann film that takes place Down Under. Roger Ebert thought it was a decent movie with romance and sweeping cinematography, even with its flaws. Most of the time I agree with Ebert's opinion and Mr. Benny likes movies, so we thought we'd give it shot since it was New Year's Eve and didn't have other plans. But this is one of the few times we went to see a movie, and walked away wishing we hadn't paid the $8.75 pp. I'm very picky about what movies to pay to see, and I felt as though we got ripped off. My hand expressions throughout the movie told the story: waiting for Godot yet seeing something so predictable with the worst looking computer-generated war scenes in it.

I wish I had read Tom Long's review first. He nailed it by calling the movie a big turkey. And that's what the name of it should have been, A Big Turkey instead of Australia. It was like going to someone's house for Thanksgiving dinner, the meal simply awful because the turkey and dressing either under-or- overcooked and the company was miserable as a result.

Mr. Benny and I went to a restaurant/bar after the movie for a light dinner and we spent the entire time trying to find anything good about it. It was a challenge, but at least at times we were able to laugh about it.

To review, Long's synopsis is this:
"Australia" is a film about the call of the wild, about pioneering spirit, about clashing cultures, the strain between nature and civilization, class systems, racism and, oh yes, it's a love story in which a noblewoman falls for a rough-hewn wrangler.

What's interesting is that the problems of the movie are a cross fertilization of the criticisms lobbed by Ebert and Long. Ebert says that the movie is "a cross between "GWTW" and "Red River," with an infusion of "Rabbit-Proof Fence" (2002) and World War II. Along this same vein, Long says the film was trying to accomplish too much by trying to pack so many themes in. He wrote, "Ultimately, it's about so much that none of it really matters."

Ebert's says that the premise of aborignals possessing powers may have been one of the flaws when he penned,
"The film is filled with problems caused by its acceptance of mystical powers. If Nullah is all-seeing and prescient at times, then why does he turn into a scared little boy who needs rescuing? The climactic events require action sequences as thrilling as they are formulaic, as is the love story. Scarlett and Rhett were products of the same society. Lady Sarah and Drover meet across a divide that separates not only social class but lifestyle, education and geography. Such a gap can be crossed, but not during anything so simple as a moonlit night with "Over the Rainbow" being played on a harmonica."

I'll take this a step further. First, the little boy is the narrator in the film, but often the lens is not through his eyes. It's more through Nicole Kidman's character, which was a big mistake. It's as though they are trying to blur the lenses of Nullah's and Karen Blixen from "Out of Africa", a movie that I think the director was trying to closely emulate rather than GWTW (Gone with the Wind). There is no explanation about aborginal life or why Australians accepted that they did have powers, unless the direction team assumes that one has seen Crocodile Dundee, which actually does a much better job, even for a movie which is supposed to be more comedic. No, readers, the narrative should have come from Drover (Hugh Jackman) who is a widower of an aborginal woman and could have explained the connections, and also point to the boy's grandfather as being wise instead of being the accused murderer of Lady Ashley's husband. Instead, we have bits and pieces, and Jackman is too busy trying to be Denys Hatton. Yes, he's handsome like Redford, but Drover's character is too superficial to believe him. As a result, we cannot find the thread--too many disconnected themes--as a result of a misplaced narrative.

In addition, some technical problems. The diction is terrible thus the film is difficult to hear as well as understand. Sound quality is mediocre. The costumes don't fit the period either because the director is still trying to make a western. While Australia as a continent is probably the last frontier, I still think women would have dressed more like the 30's and 40's. I also disliked that a perfectly wonderful song, "Somewhere over the Rainbow" is repeated and it conflicts with the aboriginal music. An American songbook standard trying to be used as a metaphor of magic or wizards to symbolize the powers of King George or Nullah doesn't work.

I did like Nullah and the aboriginals in the movie, but I have a fondness for them and their culture because I visited Australia in 1987; hence one can see what I am so disappointed in the film.

My title post includes that shouldn't be mentioned by name comes from a line in the movie whereby someone dies, her/her name shouldn't be mentioned again. That's how Mr. Benny and I felt about Australia--it died early on. The romance between characters portrayed by Jackman and Kidman, nor the little boy Brandon Walters (who plays Nullah) whom they sort of adopt, could not save this movie.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

John Edwards Enjoys Basketball Games at Elon College

JRE has been seen at Elon College to watch his niece, Julie Taylor, play some competitive hoops over the holidays, according to the Burlington Times-News.

Burlington is about 45 minutes away from his house.

The Phoenix are not having a good pre-conference so far though.

Here's a link to Julie's pic.

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Diary Round-up from my Blog Roll

Since I've added to my blogroll a list of new sites (and some which I've re-treaded here), I thought I would post selective links to diaries that I think are worthy of reading.

  • At the Daily Kos, former JRE supporter Ellinorianne has posted Talking to Kids about Poverty. It's more on how to explain to kids what is needed in times when children are getting blitzed by marketers. Also at DK NYCEve has posed a provocative diary on Health Insurance companies possibly rationing health care based on credit scores and ability to pay.
  • Taylor Marsh has announced she and Mr. Marsh are moving from Las Vegas to DC this winter. Not surprised as she hinted at it a few months ago and the East Coast is a political bloggers haven if they want to get closer to the action.
  • At Orient-Lodge, Aldon Hynes pens a review of the 2008 Social Networks and Media. Likewise, Robert Scoble points out that you have to use Twitter and Friend Feed to see who else is linking to your site or talking about you.
  • Former JRE supporter Desmoinesdem at Bleedingheartland has an excellent review of 2008 politics in Iowa, including her predictions from the different months. Her impressive number of links may set a record --or even a standard---amongst political bloggers.
  • Based on a recent Pew Poll, Pam Spaulding ponders about what she can do without (a luxury) and what she can't. I tend to agree with her list of "can't do without." Check it out.
  • Johnalive at Open Left republished a primer by Laurence of Cyberia on Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Changes for 2009

Greetings BW readers,

First, I want to say again, Feliz Ano Nuevo, Bonne Année, and Happy New Year in various other languages. I thank you for spending some time over here when there are many good blogs to visit.

Speaking of, I added several more to my blogroll today. I'm finding that I have many favorites to visit and find things worthy of reposting or commenting on here.

The ones I added (or re-loaded) and my reasons:

    Eschaton--it has the best snarks and I'm impressed how many followers Atrios has considering his economy of words. But he's very progressive in his thinking, plus he's an economist. To complement Eschaton, I've also added Paul Krugman's Conscience of a Liberal blog.

    The Daily Kos---I wrote it off for awhile because of the bloggers there savaged every candidate but Obama in the primaries. I tend to visit there to comment on the diaries pertaining to the Republican (or in some instances, Democratic ones) morons, to post pics of my critters, or to offer have a cheer or jeer on Bill in Portland Maine's daily C & J column. I made peace with Markos, although I must say I disagree with him quite a bit.

    Huffington Post and Daily Beast--both supply breaking news and some good commentaries. HuffPo also overglorified Obama until recently, but I find I visit there pretty often. Daily Beast is shaping up to have some moderates as columnists, but I will be following more of the conservatives just to see what they think.

    Yglesias---Matt Y moved over to Think Progress from the Atlantic this year and it appears to be a good fit for him. I find his views to also be very progressive. He tends to run with the Ezra Klein crowd.

    Oliver Willis and Taylor Marsh. Those two were at odds with one another over Hillary Clinton during the primaries, so I didn't have them linked to give them some ad change. But with kumbayah, I think both deserve to get back on the blogroll. Taylor is moving to the DC area, and I think she will have much to offer in foreign policy analysis if she gets access to the State Department and Mrs. Clinton's policy wonks. Oliver will continue to bash my Cowboys, just I will continue to trash his Redskins.

    Juan Cole's Informed Comment--probably the best in covering the Middle East. He tends to side with the Arabs, but he is extremely good in pulling out facts from the Middle East newspapers early in the morning that even the NYT does not in its reporting whenever a crisis arises.

    Prairie State Blue and Capitol Fax blog--good for Illinois politics, especially with all of the pending indictments against Count Blago.

    Pam's House Blend--Pam Spaulding's opinions about LGBT politics and marriage equality. In addition, it was she who helped me understand the medical procedures in putting an animal to sleep as she had to put one of her dogs down not long ago.

    Discover UU --blog about UU issues posted by different pastors, and about those who wish to have leadership positions within the UUA organization. It complements the link to the Tennessee Valley UU Church's podcasts.

    I've Been Mugged--written by fellow blogger and Friend George Jenkins about identity theft and corporate responsibility

I will update this list later as I add more to the blogroll.

I hope to be more consistent in posting something a few times a week, even if the post is brief.

Change you won't see:

This site is still inspired by the democratic vision of John and Elizabeth Edwards. I don't care if John had an affair with Rielle Hunter (other than it hurts his family). I am not of the opinion that he could have "handed the nomination to McCain" when it was blatantly clear that he did not have enough resources to compete for Super Tuesday on Feb 5th, so that argument doesn't hold water, nor do I think he is the biggest loser for the scandal that Ms. Hunter likes to perpetuate through the National Enquirer. I find it more appalling though that media has replaced the narrative of his progressive agenda with a repeating loop about an affair with a spurned woman who is mainly an extortionist opportunist who refuses to go get a real job to support her child.

I will continue to be a scout in locating any speaking engagements and blog posts about their appearances and speeches. The Edwardses have much to still offer in terms of public service, especially speaking out about areas such as health care and poverty, and they were great in bringing progressive minded folks like me together with others. I would be remiss in saying though I think John's days for running for elective office have passed.

Well 2009 has come, ready or not. Should be an interesting year.

Update: Enjoy this video from I can has cheezburger:

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Good for 2008 to be gone and to look forward as we are in 2009.

Will post more later. Spouse and I are having some bubbly as it is 10 past the midnight in Central Illinois.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Ever Happened to Peace, Love and Understanding?

Another heartbreak in the Middle East. Hamas launches junk rockets into Israel, and does it purposely in civilian areas. Israel always retaliates, often at 5 times the excess force. Now nearly 400 are dead and over a thousand wounded in Gaza.

Israel could listen to the UN by complying with a call for a cease-fire. Lorilei Kelly at the Huffington Post went further with an plea of peace and goodwill:

In less than two decades, the measures of national security have gone from being rational, linear and technological, to random, chaotic and very human. Those who want to survive need to modernize their toolkit accordingly: More persuasion, less coercion. More prevention, less reaction. More participation, less exclusion. More people, less machines, More life strategies, less death strategies.

But Israel is turning a deaf ear to such pleas. It believes war is the only alternative. That's like saying that the death penalty deters crime in the US, when we know that hasn't been the case either.

What ever happened to peace, love and understanding? That goes for the Palestinians (and those who are calling for war against Israel) as well as the Israelis.

As usual, our President is siding with the Israelis without much opinion. Taylor Marsh nailed it about George Bush:

But don't expect George W. Bush to ask this [for Israel to cease fire] of our friend. He hasn't been a leader of peace in eight years. He's not going to start now.

Obama, Biden, and Clinton have their hands full of more messes to clean up after Bush is gone.

I'm with Elvis Costello on this one.

(h/t to Taylor Marsh)

: for further analysis, read Glenn Greenwald and Juan Cole.

Second update: Zbigniew Brezinski schools Morning Joe Scarborough in promoting how to help with the peace process.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Memory Lane

See my Kos diary about JRE's campaign. I wrote it a year ago yesterday.

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Feel Good Story

I saw this article from the Detroit Examiner referenced at Skippy's place.

It's about the Lance, Inc company buying Archway in bankruptcy, put twenty percent of the workers back to work, and gave all of the former employees (except the former owners) a 1500 dollar gift card--at Christmas--and promised to put the other laid off workers back to work.

Maybe I will buy some Archway cookies this week, or PB crackers from Lance.

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Not certain what is more embarrassing?

1) Pokes losing in Philadelphia yesterday, 44-6 and thus not getting to the playoffs, let alone they were expected early on to go to the Super Bowl
2) Barack Obama's selection of a homophobic preacher to give the invocation to his inaugural
3) John Edwards' denial of an affair from 2006, then having to admit it and now being called a loser (although it was OK for John McCain's spouse and he both to have affairs)
4) Laura Bush getting on national TV (well, Fixed Noise that is) and sounding a lot more presidential than her spouse
5) John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate

This diary by Daniel Kurtzman at brings it altogether.

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