Monday, February 28, 2005

A more substantive posting

Came across the post below from JustOneMinute. There was a fairly lengthy section about the Hive versus the Pack that made me think of the Borg, but believe his best comments addressed what the left side of the blogosphere should be doing:

Now, Kevin Drum frets that hunting media scalps may be a fool's game for the left. Well, if you can't win on the battlefield in front of you, pick a different battlefield!
- promote new Democratic faces. Philip Bredesen is being touted for President; Eliot Spitzer may run for Governor of NY; maybe the Left should talk about Spitzer and Bredesen rather than Guckert/"Gannon". I'm just thinking out loud, here.
- promote Democratic issues. The left blogosphere has done a good job of driving the debate on Social Security. For example, Kevin Drum's "Crisis? What Crisis" theme migrated to the LA Times, and is now the CW.
- promote the Democratic agenda. What do Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid hope to accomplish this legislative session? I don't want to know, but lefty bloggers might be intrigued.
- promote new Democratic ideas. Are there any? Give some oxygen to lefty think tanks, or any university professor, all of whom are lefty - there must be something more interesting to talk about than Jonah Goldberg's paycheck, or the minimum wage.

In full agreement. Going "scalp hunting" to compete with the right wing is small game & being in the minority, we can't afford to be hunting for small game. I'm in full agreement that I have no idea of what Pelosi & Reid hope to accomplish this session outside of blocking any modification to Social Security or ANWR. Also what are the new ideas? As Al Sharpton put it, the Dems are the real conservatives now. Thought I'd post my ideal changes I'd like to see from our federal government & then tomorrow see if I could translate those into workable goals.

Top 2

  1. End foreign aid outside of major disasters like the recent tsunami
  2. Legalize marijuana

Other items in no set order

  1. Revoke Executive Order 13233
  2. End farm subsidies
  3. Kill the F-22 & all of its clones
  4. Only fund ABM $500M/annum - that's max
  5. End the Ex-Im bank
  6. Don't torture or outsource torture
  7. Simplify the tax code
  8. End the "employer matching Social Security"
  9. Report the budget deficit without including Social Security surplus
  10. Medical marijuana legal (realize this is a subset of above)
  11. Support gay marriage
  12. Fully fund Nunn-Lugar

Could probably keep listing, but enough for tonight.

MRI results known

Meniscus tear has been there for awhile. Cyst growing in area. Looking forward to more surgery.

Please continue holding - experiencing Technical difficulties

Guess I can understand why the professional bloggers talk about losing comments or such stuff. For some reason, I could upload the photos of the disappointing cognac, but could not add any comments or i'd receive the infamous "Cannot find server". Not sure why that happens periodically - think this is the 2nd time for me - but must be some weakness with blogspot.

UPDATE: All the postings that would not post are there now so at least 1 redundant post. Just tried to delete - sorry

There were errors.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

OTBN disappointment

It looks better than it tastes

A disappointment after all the anticipation

OTBN disappointment. After all the expectations, the Remy Martin Louis XIII was nothing special & far inferior to the 150th anniversary Grand Marnier

Friday, February 25, 2005

Friday Night Wine Blogging (2$chuck edition)

what i'd expect for the price...actually better than i'd expect for $2, but i wouldn't buy it again. Oh, it's a Shiraz from Charles Shaw.

rose and raspberry on the nose. plum and tobacco on the palette. and a cherry finish. - so spaced the Ginger Haired Yank.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Another pointless remake

No reason for Father of the Bride to be remade. Come to think of it, there was no reason for the Getaway to be remade or Here Comes Mr. Jordan (didn't care for the original or the Warren Beatty remake).

Remakes that were better are few, but do exist. There was Lolita of course - the remake being far far superior to Kubrick's miscue. I've never seen the original A Star is Born, but can't believe that the Judy Garland remake was not superior with Cukor's superior direction.

It is pretty amazing how many derivative, retread or drivel films are produced by Hollywood. You'd think that with 6 billion souls on the planet, there would be a few more talented screen writers out there & dull films like Mr. Jordan would not need to be remade twice in my lifetime.

Maybe the only film that i've enjoyed 3 times was Les Diaboliques - enjoyed both the Tuesday Weld remake and the one with Melissa Gilbert & hubby so guess I should complete the circuit & see the most recent Sharon Stone copy for good measure.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

1 month down - 47 to go

Well that 1st month wasn't that bad was it? The tort reform passed was no hot button for me and would guess that passing some privatized Social Security will be the key battle of Bush's 2nd term - tax reform won't happen.

Thought I'd keep a running odds update of my wagers for the end of Bush's presidency.

Also have a wager that Mark Warner instead of Hillary will win the Dem nomination. Feeling less safe on that one as Hillary is clearly the front runner today, though I've certainly seen Dem front runners destruct far easier than first imagined - Muskie & Dean coming to mind.

I have toyed with finding an on-line wager on political events. Have not lost a political wager, but the stakes have all been quite small. Would think that catching OBL would be a popular wager, but would not imagine the other two being listed.

For my standards to judge Bush's 2nd term:

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

What will they do in 2,000 years?

Have started to wonder whether folks will still be making WWII films centuries from now. Cannot recall a a movie on the War of the Roses, or the 30-years War or the Punic Wars in my lifetime - will guess some fairly obscure films do exist (just found a 1961 version of Mother Courage from East Germany), but overseas war films are generally about WWII & our domestic war films are generally the Civil War or WWII.

Zelary is a far more worthy nominee than Twilight Samurai, but covers very familiar ground & is definitely too long by 45 minutes. Country fellow has to hide escapee from the Germans, and they fall in love though he's a country boy & she's a city girl in part because of the exigencies of the war (brought back memories of Cold Mountain). There are a few subplots floating around with the other characters, so the film does pick up after they move to the country, so a reasonably good film, though I believe the academy made the right choice with The Barbarian Invasions - more imaginative film, or at least less derivative.

I can understand how the war left scars on Europe that have still not healed, but at some point, can we have a moratorium on WWII films? How many more angles are there to cover? How much will folks care in 2,000 years (hat tip to Leon Russell).

Oddly, I've only seen 1 nominee for best documentary (Super-size me) and none of the foreign nominees. It's taken me until now to see 3 of the 5 Foreign Film nominees from last year & 4 of the 5 nominees for best documentary - no date on DVD's for the remaining 3 films. Given that I saw 2 of the documentaries & the winning foreign film last year in theatres, who knows how long it will take me to see the other nominees this time around. OK, I just added the films to Netflix. Of the 9 films that I haven't seen in the 2 categories, 2 are released & 1 has a release date. Will be curious if I can make it up to 7 of 10 by this time next year - guess you'll have to blog in to find out!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Still recovering from too many Pinots

Wisely used 2 of my birthday gift cards from B&N (finish off 1 - start another) to purchase Sideways to read out loud on trip to Santa Ynez. So many funny lines worth reading outloud, so when I'm a little less sideways will post my favourites. Oh, they use "did you D&D" instead of "drink & dial" so a bit less funny. Have read in the WSJ that Drinking & Dialing is getting to be a real problem. Hmmm, a bit less damaging than driving, so an acceptable substitute in my book.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Friday Night Wine Blogging (Power outage edition)

In preparation for tomorrow's Sideways wine junket
Chandon Blanc de Noirs

I smell Pear with Granny Smith apple. Tastes like apple with a little bit of raspberry.

We've lost power 4 times today, so this posting gets sent off quickly before...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Buffy quasi-spinoff

Read that Marti Noxon got a bum rap for the last 2 seasons of Buffy. I agree that the bad guys in the penultimate season were the weakest of the series, but the finale of Willow going all black redeemed the season - a killer 2-part conclusion will do that. The final season was a real pickup "from beneath it devours" & it some ways the most insidious bad guy being able to take the form of dead people & taunt the folks living. Some very nice touches, like having all the bad guys from all seasons morph into each other while talking to Spike in the season opener. Good touch bringing Faith back for the ending when the slayer wannabes turned their back on Buffy.

So how to rate the step-child of Buffy Point Pleasant? Well it's neither Buffy nor Angel, and while i may watch the remaining x of 13 episodes, I am starting to agree with the comments on IMDB that the show will not be around for another season. Too many sideplots about other characters that we can't really care about. It's not like Lost where they keep throwing you enough curves to keep your interest and you are curious about how the characters got there in the pseudo The Bridge of San Luis Rey style. Or Buffy had good bonding amongst the scoobies & usually a good running bad guy - at least in seasons 1-3, 5, & 7 (buffy's biggest weakness being when they had COTW episodes). Here Point Pleasant hasn't pulled off either that chemistry & there's a bit too much soap opera to it.

I'll predict that it won't be renewed by Fox next season.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

It's late & i'm short on ideas

Could post on finally watching the wire last night - it's is pretty neat that we can get entire seasons of show on DVD. This is a time I wish that my Netflix account still was up at 3 at a time. I could be plowing through a ton of episodes probably watching both seasons in a fortnight instead of waiting for each disk to come in - 5 per season. In same post could point out that some folks just have talent - David Simon now responsible for the good good show Homicide: Life on the street, or how it's great the someone at HBO has enough taste to keep putting on fine shows.

Could post on my running argument with jj about the MSM, but think even i'm tired of that, though i wonder how long conservatives will continue to harp given that we now have the blogosphere & talk radio & conservative newspapers & Fox news + wannabes. Guess that sense of belittlement has worked on their ascension so would guess another 5-10 years.

Could post on how job is finally improving just when i passed another phone interview & have in person interview on President's Day.

Could post on how i'm thinking of knee surgery - feet surgery last year/knee this year. Meniscus vs. neuroma.

Could post on looking forward to drinking wine up in Sideways country this weekend. Will have to enjoy as many Pinot Noirs as possible & will finally be able to eat Andersen's vegetarian pea soup.

Well none of them strikes me enough, so will have to head to bed and try posting tomorrow on long delayed construct of a Medical Marijuana study.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

What I would like to see from the MSM

I asked 2 conservatives & 1 liberal for their ideas for topics not covered by the MSM, but only received 2 ungood suggestions. So on my own, my 2 ideas both cover detainees.

I would like to see the MSM compile the stories of all detainees released from both Gitmo & Abu Ghraib.

I've read that 7 detainees released to Afghanistan took up arms against us again - any others? Actually a bit surprised that the right wing has not made a bigger deal out of the 7 foot soldiers returning to battle. Would like to see a full data base created & maintained. Have not seen that from anyone - looking through now - cannot fine what I wanted. Will search a bit more in depth this weekend.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Far superior to the original

A nice surprise after watching a bad remake of Swept Away. This remake is so far superior to the original in every aspect, but to prove how bad the original was, just show anyone its 2 worst scenes:
  1. Janet Leigh meets Frank Sinatra on a train chain smoking & acting weird so gives him her phone number. He stumbles out of the car into the exit portion of the train car - she follows & tells him her address & suggests he stops by sometime.
  2. Laurence Harvey confessionally tells Sinatra about his girlfriend "she was lovely and i..i was lovely..and her father..he was lovely..and the weather was lovely..that summer everything was lovely". Just amazingly bad dialogue.

What stands out is how Condon is unable to write a believable plot. In Prizzi's Honor the female assassin is making $250,000/year and knows that the Charley Partanna will come after her to kill her & won't stop until he does if she rips off the mob, but then she rips off the mob anyway.

In this remake, outside of the base idea & rough outline, the film makers (Nancy Sinatra of all people) wisely reject much of the original and update the film making (great confessional scene with nifty coloured background) & time frame. Superior remakes aren't common, but they do exist and here's another fine entry to the sub-genre.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A legend in need of replacing

Finally visited Pauley pavilion to watch the Cats spank the Bruins. The Cats seemed to toy with the Bruins in the first half & then finally after Lute got pissed went on a 19-0 run & then coasted to victory from there.

Impressions of Pauley?

Incredibly small - far smaller than the 12,681 crowd would seem. Believe there's only 2 bathrooms & 2 inside concession (some concessions outside) & 2 teenie tiny souvenir stands. Hard to believe that so many great Basketball championships came from such a small, almost high schoolish arena. Very small place with plenty of exits for leaving, but limited ability to move around. Incredible the contrast to Rupp Arena built only 10 years later; Rupp seats 23,600 and sits inside a Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Lexington - truly an impressive arena. Amazing the UCLA never updated or enlarged or expanded Pauley during its glory days of the 60-70's. Heard talk a few years back about replacing it, but obviously nothing came of it.

Odd how poor LA is for sports stadiums. Rose Bowl is ancient and uncomfortable - bench type seating with minimal leg room & takes forever to walk up the ramp during the Rose Bowl. Dodger stadium is really showing its age - looked decrepit when we visited last year & what's up with the outer parking not having overhead walkways so you don't have run across two roads of traffic. The Coliseum makes you feel like you're in the next county if you're sitting in the famous end zone. Only Staples can be considered state-of-the-art, and its only been in existence for ~5 years.

On the up side, I can't see the city ever coughing up the big dough that NFL wants & so many other cities have given to the NFL, so maybe having such 2nd & 3rd rate sports facilities is just a sign of LA's confidence in itself & its refusal to kowtow to the various sports leagues.

Still a superb film

timeless, taut & tense film. While the actors may be amateurs, the verisimilitude of using true revolutionaries & filming in the Casbah far far outweighs any weaknesses the film may have.

Bottom lines:

Friday, February 11, 2005

Friday Night Wine Blogging (post-technical difficulties)

Columbia Crest Merlot - 2001

tabacco-peppery taste and it's a Full bodied wine, which is good I like full bodied wine. Full bodied - that just describes viscosity. so sayeth the Ginger-haired Yank

p.s. technical difficulties tonight. "Hello" kept not sending - exited program without realizing it was still active on tool bar. Full re-start & it worked fine. Would have been bummer to have had Friday Night Wine Blogging with no photo.

UPDATE: i liked it better when it was cold. Too much oak & alcohol.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

History Book Club review

another disappointing tome. Of the 4 books I purchased as part of the intro, have now read 3½ & have been disappointed to some degree in all of them. Best has been Punic Wars, but that review will wait for another night.

The problem with this LA Purchase book (& the 6 day war book) is too much background. This book is 16 chapters long, but the first 11 are background or backfill or setting the scene. Only 5 deal with the actual Louisiana Purchase and the aftermath. Most interesting discussion was on the "necessary and proper" and "general welfare" clauses of the Constitution - basic interpretation by Jefferson's progeny has been that anything that they believe provides for the general welfare that is necessary and proper is allowed by the Constitution. Jefferson wanted the discussion of the approval of the Louisiana Purchase to be "sub-silencio" so that the constitution would not be considered a "blank piece of paper". Guess he set the model for others to follow.

Another problem with the book seems to be the jumping back and forth in time amongst the chapters as the authour discusses the Spanish, French, and Americans. Since the book isn't divided into sections, it's disconcerting to be set back in time - hey I thought we already covered that section.

Gives me that much greater appreciation of the Oxford History of the United States - downside is how such fine history spoils me to lessor writers. Can only hope that the 8th volume is truly being released soon.

Still a bit fagged from trip & work, so will have to reread tomorrow to make sure this isn't too incoherent a posting.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Still fagged from trip...

...but up for a mild political post. Given today's discussion of budget, I'm back to my feelings about Bush's 2nd term. He does appear to be trying to do too much: Social Security last week; Deficit reduction this week. Have heard talk of asbestos tort reform & of course there's Iraq.

Decided to make my predictions on deficit reduction:

Fiscal year deficit as % of GDP
2006: 3.4%
2007: 3.3%
2008: 3.2%
2009: 3.1%

Wonder if i can get a wager out of this with any of my conservative

Monday, February 07, 2005

Just back from Mardi Gras revelry

Family Photo - here are 2 of my extended brothers tossing throws to we commoners. Plan to join them next year for fraternal bonding. A bit fagged after 4+ parades in 3 days - yes lite weight I know - so regularly scheduled blogging will continue tomorrow.

Happy Mardi Gras

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Non-live blogging of the SOTU

I'm glad there can only be 3 more of these from Bush

Off to Mardi Gras tomorrow morning

Funny how things can come full circle. Thoroughly enjoyed Mardi Gras back in the 60's - was fully burnt out by the end of high school, barely attending any parades. Now as an adult, I look forward to heading home each year - have only missed 1 out of past 7 (think that's right). Well looking forward to daquiris, go-cups & Dick & Jennie's.

Doubt I'll have a chance to blog while home, but will do best to post any good photos i take.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Blown away Social Security post

Just spent 20 or so minutes only to accidentally blow away my Social Security post. Ticks me off that if you accidentally delete something it's wished away to the corn field. No recovery like in Word. No Ctrl-Z in too many cases.

Quick reprise of personal Social Security experience:

  1. Father at 64 retroactively retires at 62
  2. I receive Social Security while in college
  3. Years later S.S. states that I earned more than some maximum, so owe 50¢ on every $1 of gross for that period - in the 85% tax bracket for awhile.
  4. I send them a check that they lose.
  5. I send them another check, but don't cancel the first.
  6. First check then clears at a really bad time - car repairs on same day as check clears.
  7. I get 2nd check back from them.
  8. They send back first check with some explanation about fiscal vs. calendar years. What a bunch of hooey for nothing.

Long intro to state: why isn't someone looking at excess benefits to children of retirees - no way was Social Security created to give middle class children some extra spending cash while at SMU.

Also had a roommate & step-siblings receive S.S. from dead parent - some means test should be given to children to determine benefit need. Social Security has so grossly exceeded its original charter.

There are 3 things that tick me off about the current debate. From most to least importance:

  1. What difference does reform make if our deficit is still 75% & we're adding $400B/annum?
  2. Stop "hiding" the true annual deficit. It's being masked by the $100M+ extra Social Security funds paid in each year.
  3. Why not get rid of the "hidden" tax of employer matching. Tell employers to transfer it over so we can see how much we're really being taxed.

My general feelings on 'reform'? None of us knows the specifics, but given Bush's record on his Medicare reform - he added tons of potential debt to future budgets - and on NBC weaponry, I don't have a shred of trust for any proposal coming from him, so hope that the Dems stand solid & GOP coalition does break down. Guess we'll find out over next 6-12 months. If nothing major passes by end of fiscal, will figure that there's nothing to worry about.

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