I ran into this film quite by accident on Sunday. I was pressed for time, had to have something to review and I really didn’t want to see another iteration of “The Great Gatsby.” I’ve seen the Robert Redford version, a work of genius about people I don’t give a flip about.
I knew “Home Run” was about baseball, [...]]]>
The FBI press release had it that someone named Buford “Bucky” Rogers had been arrested in a raid on his parent’s trailer home on Friday. The FBI claimed they’d seized lots of guns, including a Romanian AKM assault rifle, Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs.
It’s a bit outside of our coverage area but it seemed serious,
“What are you talking about?” (I hear you say.) “All we do is argue these days. About gun control, abortion, Obamacare…”
No, we don’t argue about these things at all. Or at best, only one side argues.
“What? Doesn’t it take two to argue? Or fight, make up, or tango?”
Let me back up a bit.
I’m using “argument” in the formal sense used in logic. You have a set of statements, one of which is the conclusion. You’re [...]]]>
Yesterday, May 1, I saw a Facebook post by an academic I’ve known for… a long time. He teaches history in an east coast college and advertises himself as a “labor historian.”
He, or somebody, had filched the classic “We can do it! [...]]]>
Not surprising, she used to write for MAD Magazine back when it was still good, and is the author of http://www.stjamesnews.com/article/20130428/BLOGS/304289981/-1/blogs01
Then out spake brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:
“To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods,
“Horatius at the Bridge” by Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay
Don’t worry, [...]]]>
Tamerlan Tsarnaev is dead and his brother Dzhokhar is in custody, which is the way it ought to be by rights. Yet there are people unhappy about it.
The two brothers were from Chechnya, a majority Muslim territory in the Caucasus, occupied but never completely subdued by Russia since 1834. After the breakup of the Soviet Union the Chechens attempted to win back their independence, a rebellion that was broken with Soviet-style brutality. [...]]]>
Darn it! Another case of Celebrities Behaving Badly, and this time with one I kind of liked.
Reese Witherspoon and her husband Jim Toth were arrested and very briefly held in Atlanta, he for alleged DUI and she for allegedly disobeying the police officer’s instruction to remain [...]]]>
According to Entertainment Weekly, “42” made Hollywood history with the highest-grossing premier of any baseball-themed movie. Which is true but almost beside the point. It’s not just about baseball, it’s about honor.
It’s about men doing the right thing at a time when it was unpopular and dangerous to do so.
It’s good for people [...]]]>
There are great movies, good movies, bad movies, and awful movies. Then there’s movies like “The Host” which are just kind of blah.
The movie is based on the book by Stephanie Meyer, a writer of great wealth and surpassing awfulness who makes every writer who can string a coherent set of sentences together wonder why he’s reviewing this swill [...]]]>
The late great science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein once told a crowd at a convention, “Some of you will see a nuclear war within your lifetime.”
The crowd, to say the least, did not want to hear this.
A few years ago when I was the world’s oldest journalism intern in Washington, D.C., I coined the term “no-name nukes,” in the context of the sentence, “We’re living at Ground Zero for the no-name nuke.”
During my three months [...]]]>
Well, we know the rest of that old saying isn’t true. Words hurt. Sometimes a lot, depending on who says them.
In every society children are taught social rules for what kinds of speech are appropriate, when and with whom. Rules backed by sanctions ranging from dirty looks to social ostracism, or in extreme cases an educational beat down.
These days though, speech is policed on many university campuses by speech codes – and [...]]]>
On March 13, the white smoke let the waiting world know the conclave of cardinals had elected a new pope, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February.
The new pope is a Jesuit, which is the first interesting thing about the election. The Jesuits, though technically in subordination to the pope, have throughout history often [...]]]>
Kine die, kin die
And so at last yourself:
But this I know that never dies
How dead men’s deeds are deemed.
- Hávamál: The Words of Odin the High One, from the Elder Edda
“Vikings” is I believe, the first venture of the History Channel into historical [...]]]>
“Jack the Giant Slayer” did not do very well opening weekend, earning only $28 million of the $200 million they need to break even.
On the other hand, nothing else that weekend did either and “Jack” wound up on top anyway. There have been indications it’s been picking up, perhaps due to word of mouth advertising.
I went to see it with [...]]]>
This morning I saw something on Facebook that almost made me lose my breakfast.
It was under a label “Take Back Socialism” and posted by someone I’ve known for 30 years – who I know for a fact has never visited any of the countries he has [...]]]>
“We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who disagree.”
- Frank Meyer
I have a great many friends I do not agree with on a great many issues.
Once upon a time that statement would have been considered banal, and likely met with a “So what?”
Alas, in this day and age we seem to be self-segregating, not according to race or religion, but opinion. And those opinions are [...]]]>
Every now and again a term gets coined and comes into circulation that perfectly describes in shorthand a phenomenon you used to have to use whole sentences, paragraphs, pages or books to describe.
The late psychedelic guru Timothy Leary called these terms “neurologically exact.”
Do you remember the first time you ever heard someone say, “Hey, don’t get uptight”? You didn’t have to ask what they meant, did you? [...]]]>
The first thing you notice in “Beautiful Creatures” is, they’ve got the dialect down. I defy anyone to name the actor who is really from South Carolina, among an Englishman, a Scot, a kiwi, two Californians, a Texan and a New York Yankee.
They got a heck of a dialect coach to teach them how to tawk raht. They even know “Bless your heart” [...]]]>
In my post on recommended reading for anyone whose interest in Cold War history has been piqued by the FX series, http://www.stjamesnews.com/article/20130225/BLOGS/302259990/-1/blogs01
After a slow beginning the reputation of “Argo” as a taut psychological thriller and intelligent action flick is getting around.
“Argo” achieves the most difficult feat for a thriller, keeping you on edge even when you know the outcome [...]]]>
Last week the world learned of a meteor that exploded over the Ural mountains on Friday, shattering windows over a 2,000,000 square foot area and injuring roughly 200 children and 1,000 adults.
The meteor broke up in the atmosphere creating damage through the shock wave, but at least one piece fell to earth and broke through the ice of a local lake.
It could have been worse. In the Tunguska event of June 30, 1908, a meteor [...]]]>
The Die Hard series is one of those movies you have to classify as “guilty pleasures.”
“A Good Day to Die Hard” is the fifth in the Die Hard franchise which began in 1988 (!!!) and follows the adventures of John McLain (Bruce Willis), a New York city cop who improbable stuff just happens to, a running joke in the series.
This is McLain’s [...]]]>
My review of “The Americans” appeared in the print-only TV Guide of The Marshall Independent.
For those wishing to know more about that era, or just want to know if I’m a paranoid [...]]]>
“The Americans” on FX network may be the series that blows open the secret history of the Cold War – the secret that’s been out in the open for some time now, except nobody is looking. If the network suits don’t chicken out.
Created by Joe Weisberg, a former CIA officer, “The Americans” is the [...]]]>
My children and I came back from the Twin Cities this past Sunday after spending a weekend at the Mall of America, a journey that was not without incident.
I had a seminar class to teach in Redwood Falls, and on occasions like this I very often have to bring them along if I can’t find a sitter for my six-year-old. Soooo, I promised them if they were patient and sat around the corridor of a school bored out of their minds for seven hours [...]]]>
During the recent cold snap I wrote a story for my newspaper about workingmen who have to be out in the weather, no matter how cold it gets.
I interviewed a sanitation company worker driving a rear-end loader.
Of course I had to tell him that in my youth I’d spent a total of six years working for a city sanitation department in Oklahoma. And of course just because he was going back out into the bitter cold, I had to rib him about it. [...]]]>
The first Shakespeare play I ever saw when I was a boy, was “The Tragedy of MacBeth,” with Maurice Evans and Dame Judith Anderson (1954). It’s still one of my favorite plays, running neck and neck with Henry V, though I prefer the Roman Polanski version with Jon Finch and Francesca Annis (1971).
Shakespeare, together with the King James Bible, is one of the gems of the modern English language. It’s been [...]]]>
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has announced that women are necessary to our military’s success, that they are willing to fight and die alongside men, and “The time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.”
And of course, the sky is falling.
Opponents have pointed out, quite correctly, that the function of the military is not social engineering, but the defense of the nation. [...]]]>
One of course was one of the biggest media events of the new year. Lance Armstrong went on Oprah, twice, and bit his lip, quivered his chin and confessed how hard it was to tell his 13-year-old son that those things everybody is saying about Daddy are true.
Armstrong is former professional bicycle racer who won the Tour de France seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005. He was disqualified and all honors [...]]]>
Today (Friday) my interview with Matthew Loeslie law enforcement coordinator at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, appeared in the Independent under the title, http://www.stjamesnews.com/article/20130125/BLOGS/301259992/-1/blogs01
Yes it’s pretty good. But if you can’t handle moral ambiguity and the often nasty way the world really works, you’ve got no business seeing it.
“Zero Dark 30” is about the hunt for Osama bin Ladin culminating in his execution by Seal Team Six.
I’d better say something here. I have some strong feelings about this, because I’d heard of [...]]]>
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article [...]]]>
A great many studies have shown the health benefits of even moderate exercise. A 30 minute walk every day, or every other day, walking with a heel-to-toe roll strengthens the calf muscles enough to take a lot of wear and tear off your heart and [...]]]>
I’ve just read a news item about a 16-year-old girl who violated a court order by Tweeting the names of two boys who sexually assaulted her at a party last summer. The boys’ lawyers filed motions that she be held in contempt of court and she could theoretically have faced jail time.
Theoretically, let’s get real. The judge’s gag order would almost certainly have been overturned, if it ever got that far. But she faced them down and the boys’ lawyers [...]]]>
He just shrugged and said, “High society murders are [...]]]>
I will venture a prediction; every single person reading this column has things about them they would rather other people did not know.
If you’re lucky, it’s information that would merely embarrass you. If you’re not, you might have secrets exposure of which would put you at risk of losing your job, your friends, your marriage, or your life.
These need not be shameful secrets. You might not want it generally known that you have something [...]]]>
“Les Misérables” has come a long way from its slow start as a French “sung-through musical” in 1980. I have no idea what the difference between a sung-through musical and an opera is, but it’s an opera to all intents and purposes.
An English-language version was developed and premiered at the Barbican Centre in London, England, on 8 [...]]]>
A couple of weeks ago Google hired Ray Kurzweil to be its new director of engineering.
Google is best-known for its Internet search engine. In fact, the chances are good if you were looking into Kurzweil you might have been sent here by Google.
It’s unclear to me as yet [...]]]>
One day in the early 1930s, an Oxford don, Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, was grading exam papers, when he was inspired to write on a sheet of blank paper, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
The rest of the story is still unfolding.
J.R.R. Tolkien published “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in September, 1937, with a print run of 1,500 copies, [...]]]>
There is much talk on the Internet after Liza Long, an English teacher in a small college in Boise, Idaho, and mother of four, wrote a blog post that went viral.
Her post was originally titled http://www.stjamesnews.com/article/20121217/BLOGS/312179988/-1/blogs01
It’s happened again, this time more horrible than the last.
In Newtown, Connecticut, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother then went on a killing spree in Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 children and six adults. The details are horrifying.
The president called upon the country not to politicize this, and of course everyone did. There are calls for gun bans, or arming teachers, mental health programs, early [...]]]>
“Red Dawn” is Dan Bradley’s remake of John Milius’ 1984 original. So why remake a Cold War action flick after the Cold War is over, and how?
Why is easy. “Red Dawn” (1984) grossed $38 million, the 20th highest grossing film of that year, ahead of “The Terminator.” It made film history as the first U.S. released film rated PG-13, and a [...]]]>
Once upon a time you could assume cartoons were OK for kids to watch and Disney was always a safe bet.
Alas, autres temps – autres moeurs. These days cartoons are definitely not a safe bet if they are on much after dinner. I try, often in vain, to keep my kids away from “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and have [...]]]>
Our local movie theater website says “The Hobbit” will premier in a midnight showing on Thursday, Dec. 13.
Oh boy, for Tolkien junkies this has been a long wait indeed.
It’s hard to believe it’s been about 11 years since the first installment of [...]]]>
However a newspaper group has offered to pick up my blog and I have [...]]]>
Are we getting soft? I sometimes think so about this time of year, before I head off to the gym to toughen up with all the other people who indulged during holiday season.
I wish mental toughness were as easy to come by. [...]]]>
“Skyfall” is the 23rd James Bond film by Eon Productions, released in the 50th year since “Dr. No,” and a pretty serious reboot of the second-longest, second-highest grossing film series in history.
Bond has achieved the status of a generation-spanning cultural icon. The character was born out of the World War II service of [...]]]>
I just came across a fascinating article on a device currently in development that might have kept the New York subway tunnels from flooding. (Well, fascinating for infrastructure geeks like me that is. [...]]]>
The Kissinger Lesson, “That which will be revealed eventually, must be revealed immediately.”
This past week, two weeks before the election, may be remembered as the week it ceased to matter whether a sitting president was re-elected or not.
That was the week the hastily thrown together official story of the attack on [...]]]>
The news is full of two major sports scandals: on October 9, 2012, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years and maximum of 60 years in prison after being convicted of 45 counts relating to child sex abuse.
There’s a lot of other people going [...]]]>
A nice thing about having a movie rental store in town is finding foreign movies you’d rarely find on TV or at the movies.
Looking for something to review while homebound with the grunge, I came across a DVD of German director Uwe Boll’s, “Max Schmeling: Fist of the Reich” (2010.)
Boll is famous for making films of surpassing [...]]]>
Liam Neeson is Hollywood’s gift to all us single fathers who aren’t getting any younger. In “Taken 2” he plays an action hero at age 60, reprising the role he created in “Taken” (2008.)
In “Taken” Neeson played Bryan Mills, a former CIA agent now freelancing in security work. His estranged daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped by white slavers [...]]]>