Monthly Archives: December, 2011

Super Heroes Occupy the Summer Box Office

"Okay guys. Drop your weapons. The Avengers isn't until May."

I didn’t see enough films in 2011 to do a proper Top 10, but I did see four out of the five superhero flicks released last year (sorry, Green Lantern,  but as soon as I saw that first terrible trailer, I knew I wasn’t coming anywhere near a theater where you were playing and The Green Hornet starred Seth Rogan. ‘Nuff said.).    Though Super is to superhero flicks what a McNugget is to a piece of fried chicken.

This is what I thought of the 2011 crop of super hero fantasy flicks and each and every one of them will be completely forgotten once The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises open.   Unless they’re bad in which case a billion fanboys will kill themselves but only after running riot and burning down the theater.

"This armor is great. Except when I need to scratch."

THOR starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston.  Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Budget:  $150 million  Gross:  $181,030,624

Verdict:  Three hammers out of five

The first super hero of the summer was potentially the most problematic.  Thor is a big shot in the Marvel Universe, but hardly anyone who has never read the comic book has any idea who he is.  To a layman, Thor is the guy they studied one day when they covered Norse mythology and even then he was some burly redhead, not a blonde surfer hunk.   Thor seemed like a tough sell to me and if director Kenneth Branagh couldn’t pull off the scenes where Thor throws his hammer the possibility of failure seemed imminent.

I shouldn’t have worried.   When the hammer strikes, Thor is pretty bad ass.  Unfortunately, it soars in the scenes in Asgard and snores when Odin (Anthony Hopkins) kicks Thor (Chris Hemsworth) down to earth so he can take off his shirt and make Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) all hot and bothered.

Thor is two movies.  A balls-out action story and a clunky love story with some pretty lame stabs at comedy.   I remember everything about the battle between Thor and the Frost Giants and have forgotten nearly everything  when he’s earthbound.   There’s an okay battle with The Destoryer after Loki (Tom Hiddleston) sends him  to finish off the powerless God of Thunder and a gratuitous cameo by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and a lot of scenes of Hemsworth and Portman sniffing each other’s butts like two dogs in heat.

Okay, not really, but it would be more interesting if they had than all the yakking they do about nothing.  Branagh  made his bones directing Shakespeare stories and I wish he would have cut back some of the dialogue and exposition and pumped up more scenes of Thor hitting things with his hammer.

I liked Thor, but I didn’t love Thor.  Tom Hiddleston made Loki both interesting and surprisingly sympathetic.  I kind of was on his side for a while because Hemsworth played Thor as an arrogant, swaggering prick for most of the movie and was a bit more believable than his “these mortals are worth fighting for” change of heart of the last 30 minutes.    As the battling siblings Hemsworth and Hiddleston are perfectly cast  and Hopkins makes a sufficiently omnipotent Odin.  I didn’t even mind Idris Elba as Heimdall, but if all the clunky scenes on Earth with Thor and Portman were taken out, nothing would be lost by the omission..  Since Marvel had to give Thor a reason to come back to earth to appear in The Avengers, the prospect or a future booty call as motivation.

 

“Hey Peggy. My shirt come back from the cleaners yet?”

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER   Starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley (sigh) Atwell, Stanley Tucci, Samuel L. Jackson.  Directed by Joe Johnston

Budget: $140 million Gross:  $176,654,505

Verdict:  Four shields out of five.

You have to give director Joe Johnston and the screenwriters credit.  They took perhaps the corniest superhero in the world –a dude wrapped in the flag—and told his entire origin in a way that was completely involving.    There’s a lot of set-up with Steve Rogers before you ever get a chance to see Captain America throw his might shield , but I was never bored by the decision to take the time to establish why there was a need for a super solider and how Captain America had to grow into the role.

Chris Evans as the Human Torch was supposedly the best thing about the two Fantastic Four movies I have successfully avoided watching and if this third bite of the apple had tanked his next stop might be in some terrible police procedural  on CBS.  He nails both Rogers and Captain America and like Christopher Reeves as Superman and Clark Kent, it’s very important to get both the super hero and the secret identity right.

Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci add veteran gravitas to the essentially silly concept and Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull is the best he’s been since Agent Smith (and much better than he was hiding behind a Guy Fawkes mask in V For Vendetta).    The introduction of The Howling Commandos (minus Nick Fury as Sgt. Fury) didn’t do much for me and Bucky getting greased so fast was a blink and you’ll miss it moment, but I bet he’ll return for the inevitable sequel.

"^Yoo hoo, Captain. I found your shirt."

The revelation was Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Cap’s soon-to-be-long-lost-love interest.   I’d never seen Atwell in anything prior to Captain America, but every time she’s on the screen is a homina homina homina moment.    She’s the kind of woman that makes me happy to be a straight man.  If DC ever wants to get a Wonder Woman movie made, cast Atwell and I’m there on opening night and I don’t even like Wonder Woman.   Yeah, her British accent is veddy thick, but Warner Brothers should lock her up in a contract and then lock her away in a room to watch a marathon of House until she can conceal her accent as well as Hugh Laurie.

"Did you just see the Golden Gate Bridge go lfying by?"

X-MEN:  1st Class  starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender,  Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne.  Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Budget: $160 million Gross:  $146,408,305

Verdict: Three and ½ “X’s” out of five

This is the Marvel super hero movie that falls outside of the control of the Mighty Marvel Studios, but harkens back to than the preceding X-Men movies and Kick-Ass too (but not Wolverine ‘cause that movie never happened).

Bryan Singer directed the first two X-Men films, abandoned X-Men: The Last Stand to direct Superman Returns, which may be why both underwhelmed me so, but returned to produce 1st Class.  Matthew Vaughn directed it and fresh off of the dark, but hilarious send-up of super heroes, Kick-Ass, turned in a movie with a lot of serious intentions going on.

When the idea was floated for a solo Magneto movie, nobody could conceive how 72-year-old Ian McKellen could carry a movie about a mutant super villain.   After watching Michael Fassbender  do Magneto as a relentless Nazi-hunter, I could totally buy it for two hours in the dark.

James McAvoy is just okay as Charles Xavier.  Nothing more and nothing less.  I can find a dozen more charismatic actors that could have stuck the landing better.   McKellen and Patrick Stewart inhabit the yin-yang of Magneto and Xavier so thoroughly, but McAvoy is pretty drab compared to Fassbender who takes Magneto and turns him into a screen test for the replacement of Daniel Craig when he gets too craggy to play James Bond (any minute now).

Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique is pretty, sexy and more interesting in her scenes with Fassbender than McAvoy (whom the more I think about his performance the more I dislike it).  The rest of the first class of X-Men are mix-and-match, though the guy who plays The Beast is light years ahead of Kelsey Grammer’s  version in The Last Stand.

Hunger games? I can think of some games I'm hungry to play.

The movie is good, but it’s not a lot of fun even with the Hugh Jackman cameo.   It takes itself very seriously in a way a parody like Kick-Ass doesn’t try to be.   I give Vaughn credit for taking things in a completely different direction from his previous movie.   First Class was popular with the critics pulling down a 87percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 79 percent for Captain America and Thor’s 77 percent, but domestically it didn’t recoup its budget, though it did bring in over $355 million worldwide.   I guess  after the American non-comic book audience realized there was no Wolverine and an all-new cast of X-Men, they weren’t feeling the love.

"Come see my movie or I'll beat you to death."

SUPER  starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon: directed by James Gunn

Budget:  $2.5 million Gross:  $324,138

Verdict:  Two and a half pipe wrenches out of five

Super qualifies as a super hero movie in the same way Kick-Ass qualifies as one:  Just barely   Iit’s just as violent and even more graphic as anything in Kick-Ass.  But unlike Matthew Vaughn,  James Gunn doesn’t want anyone to laugh at the sad sack Crimson Bolt because  Rainn Wilson plays him as a disturbed psychopath who is no better than the criminals he’s beating up.

I’m no fan of Wilson.  Never watched The Office, but if he’s as big a creep there as he is here that was the right call.  Wilson plays Frank, a schlub fry cook whose wife (Liv Tyler) is seduced and strung out on heroin by the nefarious Jacques (Kevin Bacon).  Unable to free her by conventional means since the police are always useless in these kind of films, he gets divine inspiration to become a costumed vigilante.

No super powers?  No problem.  As the Crimson Bolt, Frank hunkers down by a dumpster and waits to brain drug dealers and cretins who jump the line at movies with a big honkin’ pipe wrench while screaming his motto, “SHUT UP CRIME!”  It’s not exactly going for realism.

Along the way he picks up an unwanted sidekick, Libby, a comic book geek girl, (Ellen Page) who turns out even more of a hard core crazy than Frank is as she creates her own costume and anoints herself “Boltie.”  Soon she’s sitting next to Frank behind dumpsters waiting to commit acts of ultra-violence and extremely  discomforting sexuality.

How extreme?  Let’s just say if you ever wondered what it would look like if a horny Robin raped Batman, you won’t have to wonder again.  This is quite a rape-y movie.  Wilson’s inspiration to try super-heroing comes via tentacle rape.  Bacon rapes Tyler.  Page rapes Wilson.  Rape. Murder. More rape.  James Gunn likes rape.

This was a hard movie to figure out.  Is it supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek send-up of superheroes, a graphic violent and profane put down of the genre, a gross-out black comedy or none of those things?  It’s hard to tell.  Wilson has limited range as an leading man and Gunn’s script is too muddled to make his point.  Even at 96 minutes, Super feels long . Boltie/Libby is twisted as a pretzel and Page has a lot of fun with the role.  It’s as far as she can get from Inception or Juno which is what probably appealed to her.  That, and the chance to moan, “It’s all gooshy.”

I only wish I could have had as much fun with Super.   It’s got a nasty streak mixed in with the humorous aspects, but even though I like strange cinema as much as the next freak, I can’t totally recommend this one.  It’s worth watching once to judge for yourself, but it’s numerous flaws and scattered story ultimately don’t engage.

Happy New Year.  2012 is going to be a huge year for super heroes if you like that sort of thing.  If you don’t there’s always the second part of Twilight: Breaking Dawn.

Crazy things come in small packages.

The Ron Paul Race War Revolution

The (im)plausible defense of the typical Paulinista when faced with Ron Paul’s racist newsletters is to say, “He didn’t write them. He didn’t even read them. He definitely doesn’t agree with them. He only published them.”

Uh-huh.

The hardcore true believers in St. Paul’s divinity are living life in 3-D: Denial, deflection and dismissal. They see conspiracies everywhere and blame everywhere but where it belongs–with Ron Paul.

Nothing will shake the faith of the faithful in Paul and that is fine by me. I hope he wins Iowa and causes Karl Rove and Sean Hannity’s heads to explode and the GOP establishment to commit ritual seppuku.  That would give me great pleasure and much joy.

Paul’s rap won’t translate far beyond Iowa, but he would throw a severe monkey wrench into the Mitt Romney Coronation. Paul might even be emboldened enough to go the independent route and send GOP hopes of ousting President Obama crashing and burning.

I’d like that.

The New Republic posted excerpts from some of Ron Paul’s newsletters from the Nineties.

Race
A Special Issue on Racial Terrorism” analyzes the Los Angeles riots of 1992: “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began. … What if the checks had never arrived? No doubt the blacks would have fully privatized the welfare state through continued looting. But they were paid off and the violence subsided.”

The November 1990 issue of the Political Report had kind words for David Duke.

This December 1990 newsletter describes Martin Luther King Jr. as “a world-class adulterer” who “seduced underage girls and boys” and “replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration.”

A February 1991 newsletter attacks “The X-Rated Martin Luther King.”

An October 1990 edition of the Political Report ridicules black activists, led by Al Sharpton, for demonstrating at the Statue of Liberty in favor of renaming New York City after Martin Luther King. The newsletter suggests that “Welfaria,” “Zooville,” “Rapetown,” “Dirtburg,”and “Lazyopolis ” would be better alternatives—and says, “Next time, hold that demonstration at a food stamp bureau or a crack house.”

A May 1990 issue of the Ron Paul Political Reportcites Jared Taylor, who six months later would go onto found the eugenicist and white supremacist periodical American Renaissance.

The January 1993 issue of the Survival Report worries about America’s “disappearing white majority.”

The July 1992 Ron Paul Political Reportdeclares, “Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black rage, it seems,” and defends David Duke. The author of the newsletter—presumably Paul—writes, “My youngest son is starting his fourth year in medical school. He tells me there would be no way to persuade his fellow students of the case for economic liberty.”

A March 1993 Survival Reportdescribes Bill Clinton’s supposedly “illegitimate children, black and white: ‘woods colts’ in backwoods slang.”

The further we go into the depths of Paul’s past in peddling prejudice the more examples there emerge indicating perhaps Paul was not as unsympathetic to the sentiments expressed in his newsletters as he says now.

A newly unearthed subscription pitch circa 1993, this time bearing the signature of Paul himself. It reads like a caricature of the conspiratorial, unhinged, early ’90s militia movement, the kind of thing that would make the John Birch Society blush. Written in the first person, it warns of threats from the “demonic fraternity” we know of as Yale’s Skull and Bones society, the Trilateral Commission, the “perverted, pagan” rituals at Bohemian Grove, a global government, “the coming race war,” the Council on Foreign Relation, and FEMA. Paul (or his ghostwriter, at least) carefully explains that you can trust his view that the federal government is behind AIDS, because he’s a doctor:

Paul’s newsletters weren’t just a form of political expression or “educational” (as he bragged in a 1995 C-Span interview)—they were a highly lucrative endeavor. In 1993 alone, Paul’s publishing company brought in a million dollars. The newsletter was published for decades, which suggests that Paul stood to make a lot of money from it. Paul has attempted to laugh that charge away, but that’s a lot different than refuting it. And from the pitch letter sent out under Paul’s name, his was a hard sell, perfectly calibrated to cash in on fears. “[B]ad times offer the greatest profit opportunities,” he writes. The government’s plans will “chill your blood.” “Help me help you survive.” “The holocaust of the underground economy.” “You may not have much time left.” By imparting this information, Paul claimed he might be placing his life at risk: “I’ve been told not to talk, but these stooges don’t scare me.” The letter concludes with these stirring words: “There’s no time to waste. The new money may not come until next year. Or it may be imposed tomorrow. You should subscribe today.”

If the Ron Paul Survival Report wasn’t a sincere expression of the congressman’s views, it was nonetheless a scheme to profit by stirring up the worst fears of a small group of the population. Which is why as long as Paul continues to duck and weave rather than address the very real questions posed by his newsletters, the controversy will not go away.

Remember in 2008 when Obama had to give his speech in Philadelphia distancing himself from Reverend Wright and publicly rebuking him? That’s the sort of speech Ron Paul needs to give. NOW.

It won’t change my mind about him. That ship has sailed. But for  others who like some of Paul’s positions but are troubled by the way the supposed straight shooter keeps changing his explanations and won’t address the matter directly and forthrightly it could be the difference between victory and obscurity.

Paul would have you think he’s not your garden variety Republican. His willingness to pander to racial fears and to profiteer from that fear places him squarely in the GOP mainstream.    He wants Americans to think only he has the moral fiber and courage to be president.

As it stands, he’s just a coward.

Ron Paul Can’t Run From His Racist Roots

Just say no to Dr. No

As a writer and journalist since 1992, I have written hundreds of articles, editorials and essays and thousands of words on hundreds of topics, but the one thing that connects each and every one is I own all those words.  It does not matter if the words are wise, silly, entertaining or dull as a dish rag.

They are all my words and no matter how much distance time puts between me and my words, they’re never too far and never too distant for me to be held accountable for them.

The reality for every writer is we may forget what we’ve written, but as long as it is written down somewhere those words are never truly lost and once found, they are potentially capable of returning to bedevil us anew.

This is a reality Ron Paul would rather not face.

Paul’s appeal to voters isn’t lost on me.  He seems like the perfect anti-politician.  He’s not a pretty boy with polished teeth and a fussed over hairstyle and a meticulously managed media image.  Paul is rumpled, short, not particularly photogenic or worried about tailoring his message to fit a particular focus group or demographic.   What Paul is strong on his message of individual freedom, non-intervention in foreign affairs, not spending money on non-essential frills and pet projects

Paul is also strong on his ties to the racist newsletters published under his name and weak on answering  questions about them.

You can’t blame the Paulinistas for trying to frame the debate on their own terms on the issues they think are winning ones for them. Unfortunately for them (and Paul), he can’t run from his coziness with the racism he permitted to be published under his name.

Pile up enough of Paul’s hostility toward civil rights, his indifference to racist rants on a publication with his name on the title, and his refusal to distance himself from his ties to extremists like the John Birch Society and you can conclude once you get past the kindly, but slightly crazy old uncle act, if Ron Paul isn’t a bigot himself you couldn’t slide a piece of paper between him and those that are.

Claiming he never read the newsletters is an extraordinary admission to Paul’s lack of accountability and responsibility. If Ron Paul can’t be bothered to care about running a raggedy newsletter, why should anyone trust him to run the whole damn country?

Separating Ron Paul’s various explanations over the years about the newsletters is a laborious process, but it comes down to this: if you’re a publisher, you may not read everything that goes into your publication, but it stretches credulity to say you had no idea what was going in it, never read it, didn’t disavow the statements when they originally occurred. don’t know who wrote them and only disagreed with them after you decided to run for president.

Paul’s dilemma is once upon a time he seemed quite aware of what the content of his newsletters were as he explained in 1995 to CSPAN.

Along with that I also put out a political — type of business investment newsletter, sort of covered all these areas. And it covered a lot about what was going on in Washington and financial events, especially some of the monetary events since I had been especially interested in monetary policy, had been on the banking committee, and still very interested in, in that subject. That — this newsletter dealt with that.

That is a completely weak and inadequate explanation of the bigoted content of his newsletters. It’s also a reason to ask—no, DEMAND that Paul explain himself totally, fully and completely.

So far he hasn’t.

WASHINGTON – Rep. Ron Paul has tried since 2001 to disavow racist and incendiary language published in Texas newsletters that bore his name, denying he wrote them and even walking out of an interview on CNN Wednesday. But he vouched for the accuracy of the writings and admitted writing at least some of the passages when first asked about them in an interview in 1996.

Some issues of the newsletters included racist, anti-Israel or anti-gay comments, including a 1992 newsletter in which he said 95% of black men in Washington “are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

Paul told The Dallas Morning News in 1996 that the contents of his newsletters were accurate but needed to be taken in context. Wednesday, he told CNN he didn’t write the newsletters and didn’t know what was in them.

Paul, who leads polls in Iowa leading up to the caucuses there on Jan. 3, published a series of newsletters while he was out of Congress in the 1980s and 1990s called The Ron Paul Political Report, Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report and The Ron Paul Investment Letter.

In 1996, Paul told The Dallas Morning News that his comment about black men in Washington came while writing about a 1992 study by the National Center on Incarceration and Alternatives, a criminal justice think tank in Virginia.

Paul cited the study and wrote: “Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system,“These aren’t my figures,” Paul told the Morning News. “That is the assumption you can gather from the report.” I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

Nor did Paul dispute in 1996 his 1992 newsletter statement that said,”If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be.”

Paul believes the Civil War was unnecessary. A better alternative would have been to buy the slaves instead.

Paul voted for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, but says he would have voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act as he explains at the 4:20 mark during an interview with Chris Matthews.

On July 3, 2004, He cast the only vote against a bill commemorating  the 40th anniversary  of the Act as he explained in remarks from the floor of the House of Representatives.  Taken from his own website, Paul is obviously proud of his opposition.

Ron Paul: Mr. Speaker, I rise to explain my objection to H.Res. 676. I certainly join my colleagues in urging Americans to celebrate the progress this country has made in race relations. However, contrary to the claims of the supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the sponsors of H.Res. 676, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty; it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society. Federal bureaucrats and judges cannot read minds to see if actions are motivated by racism. Therefore, the only way the federal government could ensure an employer was not violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was to ensure that the racial composition of a business’s workforce matched the racial composition of a bureaucrat or judge’s defined body of potential employees.

(snip)

Thus, bureaucrats began forcing employers to hire by racial quota. Racial quotas have not contributed to racial harmony or advanced the goal of a color-blind society. Instead, these quotas encouraged racial balkanization, and fostered racial strife.

Of course, America has made great strides in race relations over the past forty years. However, this progress is due to changes in public attitudes and private efforts. Relations between the races have improved despite, not because of, the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, while I join the sponsors of H.Res. 676 in promoting racial harmony and individual liberty, the fact is the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not accomplish these goals. Instead, this law unconstitutionally expanded federal power, thus reducing liberty. Furthermore, by prompting raced-based quotas, this law undermined efforts to achieve a color-blind society and increased racial strife. Therefore, I must oppose H.Res. 676.

Maybe there is a good explanation for Paul’s out of touch views on race, but I haven’t read or heard a good one yet.  The 1964 Civil Rights Act made life easier for minorities and harder on racists, but Paul considers this to be a bad thing.  I consider this makes him unelectable and unworthy to be seriously considered presidential material.

The Atlantic’s Ta-Neshi Coates isn’t buying the “Ron Paul is the Victim” rap either.

Racism, like all forms of bigotry, is what it claims to oppose–victimology. The bigot is never to blame. Always is he besieged–by gays and their radical agenda, by women and their miniskirts, by fleet-footed blacks. It is an ideology of “not my fault.” It is not Ron Paul’s fault that people with an NAACP view of the world would twist his words. It is not Ron Paul’s fault that his newsletter trafficked in racism. It is not Ron Paul’s fault that he allowed people to author that racism in his name. It is anonymous political aids and writers, who now cowardly refuse to own their words. There’s always someone else to blame–as long as it isn’t Ron Paul, if only because it never was Ron Paul.

Next:  What’s actually in the Ron Paul newsletters and some strange comments from Paul about race.

CUT! Actors that need to take a nice long break.

The only good argument against gay marriage

Merry Christmas, y’all, from The Domino Theory.   What did you get me?

Not a damn thing, huh?  That’s the same thing you get me every year!

Fine.  Be that way then.  If you’re going to be like that, I’m going to hand out a few lumps of coal to some actors I wish would go away.   I don’t want anything bad to happen to them.  Just disappear so I can go back to the multiplex without any of them messing up my movie-going experience.

Adam Sandler: I don’t get why anyone thinks he’s funny.  If  you find bodily functions and kicks to the crotch hilarious, he’s The Man.  Otherwise, the fact such an underwhelming nebbish has any sort of career is worthy of a congressional investigation.

Chris Rock: Brilliant on stage. Bombs on film.  Isn’t it time to record another comedy album?  Pretty please with sugar on top?

Jennifer Aniston: Yes, you’re pretty. No, you can’t act so please just go away…

Katherine Heigl: … and take her with you…

Kevin James: Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

Al Pacino: This hurts, but Al doesn’t even try to act anymore. He just yells, screams, chews up the scenery and says, “where’s my check?”

Didn't we use to be somebody?

Robert DeNiro: Remember when a new DeNiro movie meant something? Bobby D hasn’t made one of those in a looooong time.  There’s always hope DeNiro will stop wasting his talent on films unworthy of it, but if he doesn’t seem to care, I probably shouldn’t either.

Ben Stiller: Can a human being be even less funny than Adam Sandler, but almost as successful?  Yes, and Stiller proves it. The only Ben Stiller movie in my DVD collection is Tropic Thunder where two supposed comedians, Stiller and Jack Black, were shown up by Robert Downey, Jr.  AND Tom Cruise.  That does take some talent and being one of most unfunny actors working has made Stiller a millionaire. Life’s not fair.

"Damn, I'm hot."

Cameron Diaz:  She’s a great actress!  (No, she’s not!)  She’s a raving beauty!  (Only if you’ve never seen a beautiful woman.)  She’s got a killer body!  (If you’re hot for girls built like boys.)  She’s a total mystery to me! (Totally.)

Zoe Saldana:  Something about Zoe bugs me.  It might be that she keeps appearing in action flicks (The Losers, Colombiana), but is so skinny and frail it stretches logic to believe she could regularly punch out grown-ass men.  It could be that I know she’s attractive, but she never comes off as approachable or even someone I want to pull for.  What it might be is every time I see Saldana in a movie no matter what the film is about she’s always–ALWAYS–cast as the Black girlfriend of the non-Black hero (Avatar, The Losers, Death At a Funeral, Takers, Star Trek).  How does she make two movies with Idris Elba and dodge him in both?  Is it written in her contract?

Eddie Murphy: Went soft. Hasn’t been funny for years. He’s chasing checks just like Pacino and DeNiro and there’s no shame in Eddie’s game.  He’ll be the first to admit he’s been cranking out crap like Norbit and Daddy Day Care.  I applaud his candor.  I avoid his movies.

"Kneel before Zod!"

Angelina Jolie: Don’t know why, but I just don’t dig her. Maybe it’s that “Most Beautiful Woman in the World” jive being shoved up my nose?  I also don’t dig bony ass babes whose lips are bigger than their rib cages.  Stop adopting kids from all around the world long enough to pound down a sandwich.  Or two.  Or three.

Shia LaBeouf:  I have a theory the brilliant minds in Hollywood get it in their heads that certain actors/actresses are the greatest thing since sliced bread and if they just keep putting them in movies over and over eventually YOU. WILL. LOVE. THEM.

This is the only reason I can come up for the continued existence of Shia LaBeouf.

Ryan Reynolds:Beefcake gets no duller or dumber than this. Reynolds possess A-list looks sabotaged by his D list talent.  He killed the Blade movies, desecrated Deadpool and Green Lantern is a stone cold, leadpipe lock for one of the worst movies of the year.  Stop this guy before he kills another superhero franchise.

Meryl Streep: Yeah, I said it. Since when is changing accents in every movie considered great acting?   One minute Meryl’s nailed a French accent or an English accent or a Polish accent or a German accent and the next the Academy Awards nominations automatically follow. If Streep rolls over in the morning and cuts a loud fart, there’s a movie critic nearby applauding her authenticity.

"Overrated? Me? Now that is funny."

She is always watchable, but her movies usually aren’t. Streep has had more great performances than great movies.

When Meryl Streep can nail a Black accent and play Madea , I’ll be impressed.

Speaking of Madea…

Tyler Perry was named by Forbes magazine as the biggest moneymaker in Hollywood.  Bigger than Cruise or DiCaprio or Depp.  I supposed I should be impressed the most profitable man in the biz is a Black man from Atlanta.

Porn is profitable. That doesn’t make it good.

The question was actors I wish would go away. I don’t consider Tyler Perry any sort of actor. It takes no acting ability to put on a fat suit, glasses and a wig and turn yourself into a Bible-thumping, gun waving, full of piss and vinegar big Black mama.

All it takes is pandering to stereotypes and the lowest common denominator of your target audience. No acting ability required. All you need to be is a pandering hack.

Perry is very successful at what he does and it’s really kind of sad what he does is make lots of money from making terrible movies.

"I make 'em cheap and they make me rich."

Nuthin’ But Love for the First Lady’s Butt

This is what "consider the source" means.

Here’s what a slow news day looks like.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), known for his cantankerous ways and for not speaking to media unless it’s his idea, was overheard at the Delta Crown lounge at Reagan National Airport today talking on his cellphone about an incident he said occurred three weeks ago while at an Episcopal church auction. Please note, a church auction.

Our source, a Democratic operative who heard the whole thing, said he was “very loud”. Sensenbrenner was overheard saying that after buying all their “crap” (his word) a woman approached him and praised first lady Michelle Obama. He told the woman that Michelle should practice what she preaches — “she lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.”

The representative might have a better case to make about the First Lady’s gluteus maximus if he wasn’t sporting a double wide one himself and probably hasn’t seen his Little Sensenbrenner without a microscope and tweezers in the last twenty years.

If you want to accuse Michelle Obama of being a food and fitness fascist, there might be a credible case to be made for that, though it’s hard to see what’s wrong about anyone advocating eating better and staying active.

But when you have to add stupid remarks about a woman’s figure to make your point, you lose the argument. That’s just plain dumb. It’s rude too.

The First Lady looks good coming or going

Not to be sexist or racist, but all n’ all, my personal experience and observation is in comparison to their Caucasian counterparts, many Black women got it goin’ on with the junk in the trunk.

The First Lady has a nicely shaped posterior (not that I’ve looked).  Based on their belief that everything with the name “Obama” attached to it is wrong, bad, and evil, the First Lady’s crusade to get Americans to take their hands out of the Doritos bag, off the remote and get up and move something has been ridiculed by know-nothings such as Sensenbrenner, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, if you can believe that.

It doesn’t help Sensenbrenner’s case when he’s packing more than a few of extra lbs and a couple of spare chins.  Also, it’s a good thing if you’re not shopping in the Big & Tall section because you’re not particularly tall when you’re cracking on someone’s butt. Porky White guys who can’t see their feet commenting on the build of the Black First Lady who is not just fit, but obviously fitter than the person calling her out, are just asking to be ridiculed.

Or we could just go with the fact it’s sexist. Yeah, that works too.

Let me it  plain for Big Jim:  Michelle Obama is smart, beautiful, elegant and classy.  And she’s kind of hot. These are all the things you are not.   She was blessed with a bountiful boo-tay and if Barack doesn’t have a problem with it,  what’s your beef?

Have the self-awareness not to dog out someone for having a healthy and nicely proportioned butt if your own is unhealthy and spreading rapidly. Stick to wet dreams about a stick figure like Ann Coulter in a bikini, Congressman.

Nobody’s ever had a romantic fantasy about Big Jim Sensenbrenner. Imagine that ass in a thong.

Black women are the most marginalized women of color in the world to my way of thinking and I don’t arrive to that conclusion based upon advanced symptoms of Angry Black Male Syndrome.

The nerve of her! Trying to help kids get in shape!

Whether it is one fat bastard from Wisconsin snapping on the size of the First Lady derriere or Satoshi Kanazawa‘s post on the Psychology Today website, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” or the Dutch fashion magazine that sneered about the singer Rihanna’s “ghetto ass” and dubbed her “the ultimate nigga bitch” a lot of people who are not Black and do not love Black women feel free to dismiss them for not meeting their standards of beauty.

It might be a personality quirk of mine since a Black woman gave birth to me, I married a Black woman and my daughter is a Black woman.  I don’t like hearing Black women being dogged out.  It might be be why I love, protect and defend Black women.

It doesn’t make a dime’s worth of difference to me if it coming from some clueless editors across the pond or a cheap backbencher 99.9 percent of Americans had never previously heard of.   Go after Black women and I’m coming after you.

Permission is not needed.  Agreement is not required.

Here’s the bottom line, so listen up America.  You have a First Lady that has a great ass.   Deal with it.

There’s No Holiday For the Obama Haters

See any monkeys in this picture? Nah, me neither.

Here’s a story that hasn’t received much mainstream media coverage, but Black oriented blogs have picked up the slack:

A rabid Tea Party wannabe politician in California called for the assassination of President Obama and his “monkey children” in a recent Facebook rant – and then defended his right to do so Monday.

Jules Manson, who failed miserably in his 2011 bid for a City Council seat in Carson, Calif., urged the sickening reprisal, saying Obama’s support of a revised military authorization bill last week was an act of “treason” that “eroded” constitutional protections.

“It must be countered with assassinations onto them and their children,” he wrote in the original posting that has since been scrubbed from his Facebook profile.

“Assassinate the fucken nigger and his monkey children,” he prodded, according to a screen grab obtained by YourBlackWorld.com.

An angry backlash quickly ensued, and Manson, 48, toned down the vile rhetoric Monday while defending his right to spew hate.

“Once you have taken the position that anyone should be imprisoned for careless emotionally driven remarks that had no real substance, you deserve what your government has become,” he wrote in the new Facebook post.

“All I can really say is to be careful what you wish for because setting such a precedence can come back to bite you,” he warned.

“I have felt deeply regretful and apologized for my past mistakes. Can you do the same?” he asked his followers.

No one answered a telephone number listed for Manson’s residence in a Carson trailer park Monday.

I’m sure Mr. Manson has a visit from the Secret Service somewhere in his immediate future.

The Tea Party apologists may now begin with distancing themselves from one racist wannabee and shrugging off his threat against the president and his children as an isolated incident that has no reflection upon their goals.

Just wondering how many isolated incidents it takes before it starts become a worrisome trend?

Predictably, some apologists for the Tea Party have claimed Manson isn’t really a member.  It’s not clear he isn’t connected in any way to the Tea Party either. A search of “Jules Manson, Tea Party” sure yields a ton of results.

The dilemma for a movement without any clearly defined leadership, organizational structure or principles is any asshole can hitch a ride and claim to be part of the club.

The same lack of a coherent form and purpose that supposedly makes the Tea Party so formidable also makes it easy to tie them to racists and other fringe mentalities.

Sucks to be them.

Nothing new about racist rantings against the president and his family.  The Internet is full of hateful creeps hang out pouring their venom all over whatever it is they despise.

Manson got a visit from a pair of Secret Service agents about his death wish for President Obama.  He wasn’t arrested, but he can be sure his name goes on some government database watch list as being naughty, not nice.

There should be a special section in hell for punks who single out children for death.  You really have to be a total piece of shit excuse for a human being to have that kind of hatred in your heart for anyone.

It must be a terrible thing for a miserable little piece of trailer trash like Manson to wake up knowing there’s a Black man in the White House and I sincerely hope he’s got four more years of gnashing his teeth, face-palming his head and staying a pissed off, angry White man.

Dying in a Dangerous (and Evil) Age

This is what lunacy looks like.

Elevators. We take them for convenience and we take them for granted.   I once had a job where I worked on the 38th floor of a building. Taking the steps wasn’t an option (and while the views were breathtaking, when the building swayed in high winds I didn’t appreciate it all that much).

Think about how often we step on and off elevators.  Then think about how little thought we give to them until something goes wrong.

We assume they are safe.  We take it on faith they will convey us from one floor to the next without accident or incident.

We don’t expect to die there. We certainly don’t expect to be murdered there.

An ad executive taking the elevator to her Midtown office like any other day was crushed to death in front of two horrified fellow passengers yesterday when the car suddenly shot upward with the doors still open.

Suzanne Hart, 41, a top exec at Young & Rubicam, was halfway aboard an elevator in the ground-floor lobby of 285 Madison Ave. when suddenly it shot upward like a bullet.

Hart fell forward into the car, part of her body inside and part still outside the entryway, said authorities. The elevator — its doors still open — then got stuck between the building’s first and second floors.

Building workers who saw the accident desperately tried to rescue Hart.

Suzanne Hart perished in a grisly accident

Inside the elevator, the man and woman stuck with Hart were forced to look on in horror as she died just inches away — a scene so harrowing that both were left “in severe distress,” said Fire Lt. Glenn Berube, one of the first rescuers on the scene.

The surviving woman “was crying . . . She was so physically shaken, she looked like she was convulsing. It was very traumatic for her,” Berube said.

Though they were not physically hurt, both witnesses were hospitalized for treatment of psychological trauma.

It was hours after the 10 a.m. accident before workers could remove Hart’s body from the scene.

The elevator had been taken out of service in 2003 after Department of Buildings inspectors found a “hazardous safety violation,” a city-government source said. But that unspecified problem was corrected long ago, said the source.

This accident was grisly, horrific and possibly preventable, but it was an accident.  In no way does it lessen Suzanne Hart’s tragic fate, but it’s understandable in a way.  Nobody likes to think they could die trying to go from one floor to another, but we can wrap our heads around it.

What happened three days later was no less grisly and horrific. But what makes it even worse is it was no accident at all, but a premeditated act of unparalleled evil, savagery and cruelty.

There’s nothing understandable in how  Doris Gillespie was ambushed and slaughtered three days later. Bad things happen.  That is random.   Evil occurs and it is methodical and planned.

A woman burned to death in the elevator of her Brooklyn apartment building Saturday after a man ambushed her, sprayed her with liquid and set her afire with a Molotov cocktail, police said.

The unidentified man was waiting for 64-year-old Doris Gillespie, when the elevator doors opened to her floor of the Prospect Heights building. The man sprayed her with an accelerant and set her on fire, New York City police spokesman Paul Browne said.

“It was apparent he knew she was on the elevator,” he said.

The suspect was dressed as an exterminator, The New York Times reported.

The brutal attack happened shortly after 4 p.m., lasted about a minute and was recorded by two video cameras, including one inside the small elevator.

Browne said the video showed the elevator doors opening to the fifth floor where Gillespie’s apartment was located and the assailant stepping in and spraying her.

Gillespie, who had grocery bags in her arms, turned about 180 degrees and then crouched in an attempted to protect herself, he said. But the man sprayed her directly in the face and continued to spray her “sort of methodically” over her head and parts of her body as the bags draped off her arms.

She turned around and retreated to the back of the elevator.

The charred, boarded up elevator where an innocent woman met her death.

At some point, Browne said, the suspect then pulled out a barbecue-style lighter, used it to ignite a rag in a bottle and then waited for a few seconds before using the flames to set her afire, causing smoke to fill the elevator.

The man backed out as she fell to the floor of the elevator, Browne said, and seemed to pause before tossing the bottle inside the elevator and onto her.

The suspect later turned himself into the police, reeking of the smell of gasoline.

In a recovered security video, the woman, Deloris Gillespie, is seen holding several bags of groceries, trying to exit the elevator on the fifth floor of her Prospect Heights apartment building. The time was 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The doors open, and 47-year-old Jerome Isaac, dressed as an exterminator, blocks her way; he then proceeds to spray Gillespie in the face, and then “methodically” over her entire body, in accelerant.

She “turns and cowers, raising her hands, the grocery bags hanging from her wrists,” The New York Times reports.

Isaac then forces Gillespie into the corner, and has some difficulty as he tries to ignite a barbecue lighter. He finally succeeds and sets Gillespie on fire. He then steps back into the hallway, then reappears with a Molotov cocktail (“a wine or Champagne bottle filled with accelerant, with a rag stuffed in its neck”) and tosses it at her. The video cuts out as the elevator car erupts into flame, and Gillespie is burned alive.

A little less than 12 hours later, Isaac wandered into a nearby police station “reeking of gasoline,” according to cops. He then admitted to what he’d done:

    “He confessed to the crime, claiming that the woman owed him money for work he had done in the last year,” said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department. Mr. Isaac did not specify the kind of work he had done, but said he was owed $2,000, Mr. Browne said.

According to Gillespie’s nephew, his aunt had hired Isaac to help her clear out her apartment, but fired him after she’d suspected he’d stolen some items from her, including “a VCR and a large cake pan.” Isaac posted an invoice to her door for $300, which she ignored. Soon after, Gillespie had added locks to her apartment door, according to another relative, and had reported Isaac to the police.

An elderly woman is burned alive in a horrific death as a freak sets her afire over money. Whatever happened to small claims court?

How foolish of me. I’m thinking like a reasonable human being and not a sick ass psychopath.  Logic doesn’t come into play in a horror story like this.   Looking for rationality or even sanity in what is clearly an irrational and insane act is a wasteful pursuit.

It doesn’t matter if Gillespie owed Isaac $2000 over $2 million.  Nobody deserves to die like that.

The many sick and depraved ways human beings treat each other comes at us so fast and furiously we can’t begin to process it.

  • Jorelys Rivera, 7, goes missing from a playground and turns up beaten, raped and dead in a dumpster;
  • At Florida A&M, drum major Robert Champion is beaten to death in a college hazing gone terribly wrong.
  • A father takes his one-year-old son with him to watch a rap video being made.  Gunfire is exchanged between two groups.  Seven people are injured with one fatality.  Hiram Lawrence would have turned 2 on December 28.   He never will.
  • Another father in New Jersey, weighs down his 2-year old daughter’s car seat with a tire iron and throws her into a creek to drown.  Arrested after a nationwide manhunt, Arthur Morgan III says nothing during a hearing where the prosecutor informs the judge, Tierra Morgan-Glover was “awake, alert and helpless” when her father threw her to her death.

Tierra Morgan-Glover was murdered by her own father.

Each and every day there is an all-new atrocity to shock us anew.   How many shocks to the system can a modern American take before they go completely numb?   You almost have to turn off your soul so as not lose your mind in what seems a world full of lunatics and homicidal nuts.  .

You can’t begin to take in all that’s wrong in this world.  If you don’t shut it out you’ll end up as mad as Jerome Isaac.

I never cease to be alternatively shocked and repulsed by how casually cruel and evil human beings can be to each other.   I look for the good in people can’t find it in the presence of all their evil in them.

A Dumb White Guy’s Even Dumber Advice to Poor Black Kids

Fuhgedditaboutit, kid. You're doomed to be a janitor.

It’s never been easy to be a Black teenager in White America.  It gets tougher when you are on the receiving end of unsolicited and unhelpful advice from White men who obviously know little to nothing about how Black teenagers grow up.

Gene Marks, a columnist for Forbes penned a column in response to President Obama’s speech in Kansas addressing economic inequality in America.   For the most part,  Marks agreed with the president’s remarks.   He just took it a little further and narrowed the focus to the plight of urban Black youth in a way that wavers between being condescending and clueless and the worst example of Great White Father paternalism I’ve read in many a moon.

Marks’ column has to be read in full, but among his observations:

I am not a poor black kid.  I am a middle aged white guy who comes from a middle class white background.  So life was easier for me.  But that doesn’t mean that the prospects are impossible for those kids from the inner city.  It doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities for them.   Or that the 1% control the world and the rest of us have to fight over the scraps left behind.  I don’t believe that.  I believe that everyone in this country has a chance to succeed.  Still.  In 2011.  Even a poor black kid in West Philadelphia.

Listen to me, Black kids. I'm White!

Thank you for the news flash, Captain Obvious.  Pray tell, bless us with more of your wisdom.

If I was a poor black kid I would first and most importantly work to make sure I got the best grades possible. I would make it my #1 priority to be able to read sufficiently.   I wouldn’t care if I was a student at the worst public middle school in the worst inner city.  Even the worst have their best.  And the very best students, even at the worst schools, have more opportunities.  Getting good grades is the key to having more options.  With good grades you can choose different, better paths.  If you do poorly in school, particularly in a lousy school, you’re severely limiting the limited opportunities you have.

And I would use the technology available to me as a student.  I know a few school teachers and they tell me that many inner city parents usually have or can afford cheap computers and internet service nowadays.  That because (and sadly) it’s oftentimes a necessary thing to keep their kids safe at home than on the streets.  And libraries and schools have computers available too.  Computers can be purchased cheaply at outlets like TigerDirect and Dell’s Outlet.  Professional organizations like accountants and architects often offer used computers from their members, sometimes at no cost at all.

Hopefully those cheap computers are running software that can use that technology and let’s also hope those students whose schools lack enough books and supplies to go around are attending schools that are wired for Internet access, but I digress with small details.

If I was a poor black kid I would get technical.  I would learn software.  I would learn how to write code.  I would seek out courses in my high school that teaches these skills or figure out where to learn more online.  I would study on my own.  I would make sure my writing and communication skills stay polished.

Because a poor black kid who gets good grades, has a part time job and becomes proficient with a technical skill will go to college.  There is financial aid available.  There are programs available.  And no matter what he or she majors in that person will have opportunities.  They will find jobs in a country of business owners like me who are starved for smart, skilled people. They will succeed.

Honest and for true?  Wowee-zowee, so all those Black working class and professionals need to do is learn how to write computer code and they can be the new Steve Jobs?   Hallelujah!  The

To be young, gifted and Black in America means you are more likely to be unemployed than your White counterpart (close to 50 percent), more likely to be murdered than your White counterpart (according to FBI statistics, in 2007, there were 7,387 Black homicide victims in the U.S, making the homicide rate among Black victims 20.86 per 100,000.  For Whites the rate was 3.11 per 100,000).

More than half of Black males drop out of high school before graduation.  Black and Hispanic women have the highest teen pregnancy rates (126 and 127 per 1,000 women aged 15–19, respectively), though the birth rate for Black women dropped more (45 percent) than the overall teen pregnancy rate (41 percent) between 1990 and 2005.

It’s hard enough to be young and Black in America.   It doesn’t help when people who know nothing about either feel entitled to give advice nobody asked them for.

John Marks says these kids are too ignorant to succeed.

President Obama was right in his speech last week.  The division between rich and poor is a national problem.  But the biggest challenge we face isn’t inequality.   It’s ignorance.  So many kids from West Philadelphia don’t even know these opportunities exist for them.  Many come from single-parent families whose mom or dad (or in many cases their grand mom) is working two jobs to survive and are just (understandably) too plain tired to do anything else in the few short hours they’re home.  Many have teachers who are overburdened and too stressed to find the time to help every kid that needs it.  Many of these kids don’t have the brains to figure this out themselves – like my kids.  Except that my kids are just lucky enough to have parents and a well-funded school system around to push them in the right direction.

Technology can help these kids.  But only if the kids want to be helped.  Yes, there is much inequality.  But the opportunity is still there in this country for those that are smart enough to go for it.

I agree with Marks that ignorance is the biggest challenge we face.  His own ignorance should pose a considerable challenge to him.  Good thing he’s not a middle class White Man instead of a poor Black kid or his dopey suggestions might otherwise be a real disadvantage.  .

That settles it then! Go west, young Black man and woman.  The streets in Silicon Valley are paved with gold and you can overcome your own ignorance and crushing poverty by catching the first thing smoking to California.

Ehhh…maybe not according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News:  …between 2000 and 2008 the number of African Americans and Hispanics working high tech jobs in Silicon Valley decreased from 1.9 percent to 1.4 percent and 5.3 percent to 4.7 percent respectively.  Another such report entitled “Minorities and High Tech Employment”, conducted by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council found that while high tech companies prospered throughout the last decade, the high tech workforce was neither representative of the diversity of the US population nor the consumers they served.

But how can that be?  How could Mr. Marks be so far off the mark?  If working in high-tech isn’t the magic key that unlocks the future then what is?   How could he be so wrong?

Here’s how:  John Marks doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.

Mastering technology and Spark Notes are not enough to save impoverished Black kids.  There is nothing wrong with a kid learning how to write code, but that alone isn’t going to deliver them from poverty and deprivation.  They still need parents that value education and push their children to succeed.  They still need teachers eager to mold and shape eager and impressionable minds.

Marks could have spoken to poor Black kids and asked them what they thought about their goals and how best to meet them.   He could have asked Black parents what their hopes for their children are.

He didn’t do either of those things.   He just sat down and crapped out an amazingly clueless bit of hackery.   Ignorance of the subject apparently is not a disqualifier for Forbes contributors.

If receiving government assistance and a father that made Christmas for five kids on less than $30 dollars qualifies as poor, I guess my family was poor for a time though my parents hid it well from us.   Poor Black kids don’t need the Marks’ pity and they definitely don’t need his worthless and poorly thought out, half-assed advice.

I never thought of myself as a poor Black kid, but if I were, the last thing I’d do is take the advice of some smart-ass White guy who knows little about how people live in poverty and even less about Black people.

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