Monday, June 21, 2004

One Small Step......

History was made today, yet for some it got lost in reports of Lacy Peterson, the South Korean hostage, and the new Clinton fictional tome "My Life."

It should be no surprise that a USA civilian was the first non-government individual to "slip the surly bonds of Earth, reach out... and touch the face of God."

Think about this for a moment. BEFORE TODAY, only governments (namely The US, USSR, and China) had the resources and ability to break the bonds of gravity and venture into the next great unknown. Even Christopher Columbus required government funding. Yet, in the USA - following in the footsteps of two bicycle builders so many decades ago- INDIVIDUAL ambition, dreams, and yes, financing, brought about what heretofore was only within the grasp of government. This is SO very American!

It's estimated the cost of the project was less than US$50 Million, which would suggest that (although research and development was undoubtedly built upon earlier govn't projects) private enterprise once again can complete a task more efficiently and expediently - Spaceship One conceptually began in April of '96 and developmentally began in May '01- than high priced, over-regulated and overly bureaucratic government programs.

No force is more powerful than the American dreamer and entrepreneur!

I have had a love affair with NASA since my earliest memories, and would never denigrate their integrity, bravery, heroism, or purpose.... now, however, the civilians behind Scaled Composites and Tier One equally hold my admiration and perhaps a tad more. They have ventured into an area that until now had large foreboding signs posted at the edge of our atmosphere that said "WARNING: GOVERNMENTAL PROPERTY. NO CIVILIAN ACCESS! DO NOT PASS!" Those signs now lay in heaps scorched by the flames of a small white bald eagle named Spaceship One.
~~ Charles

PS, Thanks, Valerie, for the "heads up" on this!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Say it ain't so Jo !!!!!

Memo to JK Rowling:

LOSE Al Cuaron !!!!!!! Okay, okay .. so Mike Newell is signed to do the next film (whew!!) So, you don't need to "lose" him as such .. you already have. Good Move!!

There were many things to enjoy about Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban- but....

Okay, good news first.
Certain effects were much, much better than they were in the first two movies (Snape's "throbbing" lumos spell felt more "real." Hagrid finally had a noticeable height difference... effects all around were great) The whomping willow in general (not location- see below) was much more as I imagined it in the book, not just some club-like trunks banging around, but whipping branches and such.

It's always good to reunite with Ron, Harry, and Hermione.. so that's a plus right off the bat.


When did Hagrid (Hogwarts groundskeeper) dig up and re-plant the Whomping willow??? Not to mention tear down his hut, take it across to the other side of the school and reconstruct it there? In the books, Hagrid's hut is down a hill from Hogwarts... not down a crevice or mountain slope. It seemed as if Director Cuaron didn't give a hoot about what had gone before, or what was written in the books, he was going to put Hagrid's hut where HE wanted it and earlier movies be damned. Can you imagine The Homestead on Tattooine suddenly showing up in Jar Jar's swamp? Give me a break!
Did Cuaron even READ the books ????????

Trawlany's classroom is supposed to be DARK and smoky, and UP A LADDER! All of this was thrown out for the third movie! It's ironic, actually, much was made of the first movies' accuracy to the books, and yet the third didn't even follow basic settings or character development. That goes for this teenage angst- love interest between Ron and Hermione as well. In the books, we don't even feel that there is any intrest along those lines until at LEAST book 4 --- why bring this in early?
DUMBLEDORE - Richard Harris' death was a loss, and a change was to be expected, but I'm rethinking my past objections to bringing Ian McKellen (Gandalf) into the character. Michael Gabon (The actor that replaced Harris as Dumbledore) has got to lighten up, whiten and lengthen his beard and basically SOFTEN UP Dumbledore! He seems far too gruff, and not nearly the kind of loving, caring headmaster Albus Dumbledore was written to be.
I hate railing on something I love as much as the Harry Potter series, so I'll end here... let's cross our fingers that Mike Newell will being the movies back where they belong!

Sunday, June 06, 2004

In Memorium

Ronald Wilson Reagan

Those three words, when placed together stir memories, emotions, and contemplations probably more profound and meaningful than any three in our modern times. Millions loved him, millions hated him, and tens-of-millions feared him.

To listen to the commentary of the last couple of days, since President Reagan passed away, each reporter seems to be stumbling over the other to project a self image as "one of the few" who "really got it" in regards to Reagan's long term vision, his humor, and his controversal stands. It's Monday-morning quarterbacking at its best. Everyone seems to have known that Reagan's increased military spending would drive the USSR into bankruptcy. Everyone seems to have known that "Mr. Gorbachov, tear down this wall!" would be a statement for the ages. The Pershing missles in Europe? Well, of course that was the smart and wise move.

As I recall, not one of these expressions came to light in the 80's. Quite the contrary, Reagan was going to get us into a nuclear war with the Soviets, Reagan was a loose cannon, Reagan was a dunderhead with no plan, Reagan's administration was being scripted by others- not the President, Reagan was a gun-toting cowboy firing his six-shooters recklessly.

They say "as Aquarians think, so the world will in 50 years." In the meantime, they are usually viewed as crackpots, wierdos, impractical nincompoops. So it seems with Reagan. Today, everyone sees his "big plan", his "ideals", his "great convictions." At the time, he was the teflon President, the Great Communicator (which more often than not was a deriding comment, not a compliment but rather akin to "He can talk his way out of anything".)

It is such a relief to see that Reagan is finally being praised for the gutsy, innovative, loyal, couragous, committed man that he was! I, myself, felt his loss over the years and Saturday was a bit of a relief. As Mayor Gulianni said, "[Saturday has been] a sad, sad, day... but it's been a sad day for many years" Like 3 of the other Aquarian Presidents we have had (FDR, Wilson and Lincoln), he saw us through very trying times of war, and dreamt of a better future. Might I remind you at this point, that the Cold War was the longest, most expensive, expansive war ever fought by the US with the most horrific of possible outcomes.

His vision went years beyond his two terms in office, always looking to the future and the horizon. His love for the American individual was matched only by a passion of what makes this country the greatest in the world, our dedication to freedom, liberty, and self-determination. He was many things, an actor, a union leader, a lifeguard, a Governor, a horseman, a President... but more than anything else... He was the American.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Why the media is liberal...

It used to amaze me how the double-faced nature of the press was often so blatant and transparent.
A few quick examples ... Right now, we are in an economy that is not so different than the eight years of Clinton... Last year employment rose in 44 of the 50 states, and *unemployment* hovers at or below 5.6% (less than the national averages in the 70's 80's or 90's) There is no mention of this in the mainstream press, nor that the 9/11 attacks directly resulted in 1,000,000 lost jobs.... or that the internet bubble and corporate scandals (which have shaken consumer confidence) all took place *before* January 2001.
Saddam was a worse tyrant than Slobodan Milosevic, and was in fact a far greater threat to the US than Slobie, the UN didn't approve our actions in Kosovo... and yet none of the criticisms thrown at Bush were thrown at Clinton.
The bias is obvious!
But why? Why would the press so often lean left instead of the centrist "objective" path they are ethically supposed to take?

The liberal left and the media have two very "sympatico" traits about them that make them perfect bed fellows:

1) "We have more knowledge than you. We are enlightened. We can't explain to you simpletons in a short news report, a short newspaper column, or in a sound bite all the complexities of these issues, so we graciously give you the pieces we know you need. You need to trust us, and you should.... after all, we are so much smarter and better informed than you."

2)"It is our job to look after you... to take care of you... to baby you and spoon feed you. Knowledge is power, and aren't we the benevolent ones giving you the scraps of knowledge from our table.

With the liberals, it is a sense that power (in the form of entitlements, govn't programs, and "assistance") is bequeathed by them to the "people." They are great Lords sharing the jewels of the realm with the common folk. For the media, they are graciously sharing their infinite knowledge with us simple folk.

In both instances, the "giver" holds an image of a benevolent master giving to the underlings. Along with it comes great condescension, arrogance, and classism. What is given (be it knowledge or power) is limited to what is in the best interests of the giver.

Robert Byrd will be praised for this civil rights move or another, yet will not denounce his deep involvement with the Klu Klux Klan. Kennedy can call Bush a liar, yet has never been held accountable for the 15-minute-long drowning of a 28-year-old-girl in his car. The liberals, and press, shouted sex! sex! sex! when the issues of impeachment were lying to a federal grand jury, perjury, and obstruction of justice... the EXACT same actions that forced Richard Nixon from office!

The problems with "benevolent" givers like the liberals and the press are many. Most particularly that they can choose what to give and what to keep, that they have an innate power that is only deepened by their largesse (the more they give, the more we crave... thereby the more power they have over us). Most importantly, their "giving" creates an image of generosity while in fact they are only giving that which serves their own interests... thay are ANYTHING but generous! When the American citizen is so beholden to a group, he can not be independent, and this is the greatest crime of the media and the Democrats. They seep freedom from the individual while duping him/her into thinking they are actually giving him/her something. What they creat is an environment of dependancy, and that goes against the very nature of the American culture.

The press and the liberals strive to maintain control and power and influence over the simpleton masses, while claiming selfless benevolence. This is the very nature that holds these two groups so closely together.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Shrek 2, or why can't most sequels be this good?

Chaz, my eldest son, and I ventured off this weekend to the movie theatre and enjoyed hours of really, REALLY good fun. Really, Really!
Shrek 2 was clever, witty, held the best parts of Shrek 1 and did a pretty good job of dropping the most crass and sophomoric parts of the first movie that lessened my enthusiasm for it.

At first, I tried to direct Chaz in the direction of Van Helsing, or another movie - somewhat leery of the "let down" potential of a sequel. Honestly, I was concerned that the fart jokes and such would be MORE prevalent after the success of the first Shrek.

Quite to the contrary, Shrek 2 steps away from the "dumb and dumber" simpleton gags and goes for cleaner (I won't venture far enough to say "wholesome") visual/verbal humor. It was a perfect blend of childhood fun and not-so-childish laughs.

Chaz and I are already repeating our favorite lines in normal conversation (a very good sign for any movie.)

The plot: Shrek and Fiona are living happily in Shrek's swamp when they receive an invitation to the land of "Far Far Away" where Fiona's parents are King and Queen. Shrek is typically nonplussed at meeting the in-laws, and he doesn't even know the half of it! The King is set to have Shrek assassinated so Fiona can marry Prince Charming. Donkey tags along because he and his Purple Dragon beloved are "on the rocks." The hired assassin, Puss in Boots, becomes a member of the Shrek-Fiona-Donkey entourage, and adds an even greater dimension of fun to this worthy trio.

If you liked Shrek 1, you're gunna' feel like Shrek 1 was just an hors d`oeuvre to the tasty, filling, and glorious main course that is Shrek 2. If you didn't like Shrek 1, or (gasp!) haven't seen it, then you should still see the sequel... it's that good!

I must interject here; it was SO refreshing to see Eddie Murphy in a quality flick after (what I consider) such a fluff piece of caca that was "The Haunted Mansion." He sorely needed to reclaim his status as a talented movie actor and comedic master... thank heavens for Shrek 2!