Friday, June 30, 2006

Superman Returns

In recent years, we have been inundated with very good comic book movies. This one is no different. It excels. It flies.

This trend goes back at least to Batman (the 1989 version). But the recent wave of good comic book movies came with the recent X-Men and Spider-Man. More about how this film ranks with those later.

This movie is visually stunning. Not in the "I can't believe how real this looks" sort of way. We know computers allow them to do all sorts of things now. There is a deep and rich texture here. Director Bryan Singer (Usual Suspects, X-Men) has created a world he can play around in.

But the plot and performances are what are truly important for any movie. Superman Returns is actually a sequel to Superman I and II. It is vague background.

At the end of Superman II, Superman wiped out Lois Lane's memory of his secret identity. That seems to hold here. There are points it seems to diverge. Would Lex Luthor really get out on appeal after breaking out of prison and launching two nuclear missiles?

This is truly interesting, genius, and weird. It is a sequel and not a sequel. Like most comic book movies, it follows the template set out in the original Superman. Introduction of hero. Hero does some cool things after he is introduced. Hero faces big problem. Hero conquers problem.

But this movie is consciously following Superman: the Movie. It steals lines. Shots. A lot. Even elements of the score and introduction is the same. It works and is eerie at the same time.

Batman Begins was excellent, and despite my love and connection for deep personal reasons, I must say it was better than the original. It was a complete reboot after the disaster that was Batman & Robin.

Superman IV was a disaster too. I was 11 and could figure that out. But that was almost twenty years ago. But the idea not to completely reboot and ignore Superman III and IV were ever made was a stroke of genius. No one has ever attempted this before.

How were the performances? Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor is great and superior to Gene Hackman. Not because Gene Hackman was bad, he just plays it less for comedy. There are moments of humor but not as campy.

Kate Bosworth, contrary to published reports, is fine. Does she command the screen like Margot Kidder did? No. But I don't think they wanted her too. Does she look young? Yes. But there's a freaking alien flying around! Go with it people.

Anyway, as for Lois Lane, I'll go with Terri Hatcher as the definitive Lois Lane. Sass and incredibly beauty.

Brandon Routh does a fine job as Superman.

How does it rank as a comic book movie? Very well.

I recall watching Superman in pre-school. I believe, and memory is hazy from those years, we watched it a lot. I mean a lot. Kids can watch things over and over again at that age.

Before I got it on DVD, I think I only watched the film a few times. But I still knew it very well.

I love the hellicopter scene.

I loved the 1989 Batman movie. It was incredibly important to me at that time in my life.

I was never a big Spider-Man fan, but I liked the cartoons on television. Sam Raimi has done an incredible job on the first two films.

That's a long way around the barn to say, I really liked this. I'm not sure if they are better than Raimi's films or the original Superman. But there is only one character like Superman.

He can fly. And he makes me feel like I'm 4 again.

Enjoy the film.

Is Superman a Jesus-Figure?

My humble Superman Returns review to follow.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

$1.5 Million for a South Jersey Liquor License

No wonder bars that cater to craft beer drinkers aren't plentiful here.

Peter Gammons in Surgery for Brian Aneurysm

Prayers for him and his family.

Monday, June 26, 2006

NYT Times Editor Speaks

He apparently got an avalanche of negative mail.

Malkin does a roundup.

We elect people to sort out what should be released. The New York Times editor is unelected.

Friday, June 23, 2006

al Qaeda's Intelligence Agency Revealed: the New York Times

Update: Will he ever have the guts to grant an interview to any critic of his paper's reckless practices?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Chemical Weapons Found in Iraq

Weapons inspectors said we should expect to find things like that. In other words, Saddam had WMD at one point in time. And if he destroyed them, he provided no evidence (as he was required to do) that he had destroyed them.

Here is another article.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

What Bothers Me About the Dixie Chicks

"The reaction was as if Natalie had said 'Death to the President' or something," says violinist and vocalist Maguire.

"It was the bullying and the scare factor," shudders banjo and guitar player Robison. "It was like the McCarthy days, and it was almost like the country was unrecognisable."

I really like their music. And I don't care that they have different political views.

But I don't like the whining. You have the right to say what you want.

And people have the right to react anyway they see fit too, short of the inevitable death threats, etc. (anyone in the public eye should get this).

Bullying? Scare factor?

Look, I take unpopular stands. I involve myself in Jewish evangelism. The people I talk to have the right to disagree with me. I have the right to talk. And they will get upset. Sometimes very upset. And they'll express it.

That doesn't remind me of McCarthy.

Liberal Mainline Churches Are Headed Towards Extinction

I'm reading about the mainline Presybterian convention. The Episcopal Church is having their convention now too.

Theological liberals can't give most people a sufficient reason to go to church instead of watching pre-pre-pre-game shows for the NFL. That is the main crux of their problem.

In an age where going to church isn't a cultural expectation or desire, most people who go actually want to. And most people who want to go actually believe in the faith.

Philadelphia Inqurier Runs Article on Lambics
The only beer that still relies on the haphazard and outmoded method of "spontaneous fermentation," this grandfather of all beers stands out not only for its novelty but also for its unique taste.

Lambics reach a complexity that can make even hard-core wine buffs wonder at the possibility of divine origins, offering a palate of flavors ranging from a sweet bite of cherry to a musty hint of oak.

That's being generous. Lambics are usually described as having barnyard flavors.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Betting on Defeat in Iraq not a Sure Bet
Pundits now daily equivocate in their understandable exasperation at the apparent lack of quantifiable progress. The ranks of public supporters have thinned as final victory seems elusive. It is hard to find any consistent public advocates of the American effort in Iraq other than the editors and writers here at National Review, the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Hitchens, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Steyn, Norman Podhoretz, and a very few principled others.

But for all the despair, note all the problems for those who have triangulated throughout this war.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Tide in Iraq Has Turned

Surprised? If so, you aren't reading the right sources.

Maybe you should read what al Qaeda has to say.
The situation and conditions of the resistance in Iraq have reached a point that requires a review of the events and of the work being done inside Iraq. Such a study is needed in order to show the best means to accomplish the required goals, especially that the forces of the National Guard have succeeded in forming an enormous shield protecting the American forces and have reduced substantially the losses that were solely suffered by the American forces. This is in addition to the role, played by the Shi'a (the leadership and masses) by supporting the occupation, working to defeat the resistance and by informing on its elements.

As an overall picture, time has been an element in affecting negatively the forces of the occupying countries, due to the losses they sustain economically in human lives, which are increasing with time. However, here in Iraq, time is now beginning to be of service to the American forces and harmful to the resistance for the following reasons

1. By allowing the American forces to form the forces of the National Guard, to reinforce them and enable them to undertake military operations against the resistance.

2. By undertaking massive arrest operations, invading regions that have an impact on the resistance, and hence causing the resistance to lose many of its elements.

3. By undertaking a media campaign against the resistance resulting in weakening its influence inside the country and presenting its work as harmful to the population rather than being beneficial to the population.

4. By tightening the resistance's financial outlets, restricting its moral options and by confiscating its ammunition and weapons.

5. By creating a big division among the ranks of the resistance and jeopardizing its attack operations, it has weakened its influence and internal support of its elements, thus resulting in a decline of the resistance's assaults.

6. By allowing an increase in the number of countries and elements supporting the occupation or at least allowing to become neutral in their stand toward us in contrast to their previous stand or refusal of the occupation.

7. By taking advantage of the resistance's mistakes and magnifying them in order to misinform.

And how do the terrorists plan on getting back on track? What was their number one item?
1. To improve the image of the resistance in society, increase the number of supporters who are refusing occupation and show the clash of interest between society and the occupation and its collaborators. To use the media for spreading an effective and creative image of the resistance.

Remember how the press reacted when Bush reminded them that the terrorists were trying to use them to paint a negative picture?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Simpsons on Soccer (Football for you international types)

Perfect for the World Cup.

Compound in Hops May Prevent Prostate Cancer

To Whom Grace Is Given
Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes.
- Martin Luther

Friday, June 09, 2006

Do Not Test the Lord thy God

Especially by jumping into a lion's cage.

So You Had a Bad Day...

My wife was on South Broad Street near Center City Philly yesterday.

A biker got hit by a bus.

Then a homeless man woke up, walked over, began to beat the hit biker, and then took his wallet.

Pitting Liberal Attacks Against Bush Against Themselves
But in order to have balance, there have to be two sides presented. By the end of the day, there were two sides alright – the side that said that Bush was a monster and the side that presented the President as incompetent liar. The latter theme was helped along by a story circulated by NBC News that prior to the war, the Bush Administration “failed” to attack and kill the terrorist mastermind:

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

The story points out that the military had drawn up strike plans 3 different times to take out Zarqawi’s lab but was blocked each time by a White House who believed that any military action would undercut their efforts to build a coalition to take out Saddam’s whole rotten regime.

Still spinning furiously, the left advanced the theory that Bush’s “rush to war” prevented us from killing Zarqawi in 2002. Leaving aside the notion that killing the terrorist at his lab would have been any more successful than President Clinton’s efforts to kill Osama Bin Laden by bombing his training camp in Afghanistan, one notices the flip-flop by the left immediately; if Saddam had no ties to terrorists, how is it possible that we “missed” anyone? And if he did indeed have ties to terrorist groups, doesn’t that justify the invasion and subsequent liberation of Iraq?

If I were you, I wouldn’t say any of that too loudly in the presence of a liberal. His head is likely to explode.

Not to mention the chemicals he was making pre-2003 invasion were chemical weapons.

Willful Blindness About Jihad

From Uncommon Descent.
We live on a doomed continent of ostriches.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police official coined the baneful phrase "broad strata" to describe the segment of Canadian society from whence Qayyum Abdul Jamal and his fellow adult suspects Fahim Ahmad, Zakaria Amara, Asad Ansari, Shareef Abdelhaleen, Mohammed Dirie, Yasim Abdi Mohamed, Jahmaal James, Amin Mohamed Durrani, Abdul Shakur, Ahmad Mustafa Ghany and Saad Khalid came.

"Broad"? I suppose it is so if one defines "broad" to mean more than one spelling variation of Mohammed or Jamal. Or perhaps, as Internet humorist Jim Treacher ( suggests, "broad" refers to the "strata" of the suspects' beard lengths.

Undeterred by the obvious, Toronto police chief Bill Blair assured the public that the Muslim suspects "were motivated by an ideology based on politics, hatred and terrorism, and not on faith. . . . I am not aware of any mosques that these individuals were influenced by." Well, Chief Blindspot, try the Al-Rahman Islamic Center for Islamic Education. That's the Canadian storefront mosque where eldest jihadi suspect Qayyum Abdul Jamal is, according to his own lawyer, a prayer leader and active member -- along with many of the other Muslim males arrested in the sweep.

I'm not sure how we can defeat terrorism if a large segment of the population, in this case Canada's, is not willing to face reality because they don't want to be perceived as racist.

News flash. A lot of people want to kill us. They want to do so on the basis of their religion. Whether that is an accurate take or not on their texts or Muhammad's life shouldn't matter to the state.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

UN Official Blames Rush Limbaugh for Negative Opinion of UN

It may have something to do with things like this.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Heavyweight Brewing Is Closing


Man, I have been out of the loop.

The brewpub they are planning better be in South Jersey.

Chill Out Over Global Warming

Barry Bonds' Integrity on Sale on eBay

Monday, June 05, 2006

Krauthammer Not a Fan of Negotiating with Iran

Summation "stop before I say 'stop' again" is not an effective diplomatic tool.
Entering negotiations carries with it the responsibility to do something if they fail. The E.U. Three understood that when they took on the mullahs a couple of years ago. Bilateral U.S.-Iran talks are the perfect way to get Europe off the hook. They would preempt all the current discussions about sanctions, place all responsibility for success on the negotiations and set America up to take the blame for their inevitable failure.

It is an obvious trap. We should resolutely say no.

Except on one condition. If the allies, rather than shift responsibility for this entire process back to Washington, will reassert their responsibility by pledging support for U.S. and/or coalition military action against Iran in the event that the bilateral talks fail, then we might achieve something.

You want us to talk? Fine. We will go there, but only if you arm us with the largest stick of all: your public support for military action if the talks fail. The mullahs already fear economic sanctions; they will fear European-backed U.S. military action infinitely more. Such negotiations might actually accomplish something.

That's our condition. Otherwise, the entire suggestion of bilateral talks is a ploy that should be rejected with the same contempt with which it was proposed.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Taking Down Elaine Pagels and the Gnostic Gospels

Elaine Pagels wrote an article supporting the Gnostic Gospels and against how the Christian Church "suppressed" them.

I wrote my own letter and I thought it was pretty good (I'll post the text at a later date). A Roman Catholic priest took a similar (but more eloquent) tact and did a great job debunking her:
Elaine Pagels got it all wrong in her May 28 commentary, "What the 'Code' got right: A need to control."

Pagels tries to make it look as though the Gnostic writings favored the humanity of Jesus as well as being pro-women. But any student of Gnosticism knows that it was precisely the humanity of Christ that the Gnostics could not accept. To be human was to be locked in a body that was flesh, which was evil. All material reality was evil. For the Gnostics, Jesus did not really suffer and die. He only appeared to do so.

As regards the Gnostic view of women, consider the following text from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, which is far more typical: "Jesus said [regarding Mary Magdalene], 'I myself shall lead her, in order to make her male. ... For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of heaven.' "

Pagels seems to want to exploit today's strong feelings against male hierarchy by excerpting slivers of Gnostic writings that distort the real history of the early centuries. The emerging faith that privileged the four canonical Gospels represented not a male imposition from above, but a discernment of what was the real faith of the people. It was a faith that stemmed ultimately from personal contact with the Risen Christ, a contact shared by male apostles, by Mary Magdalene and by other women.

Father Francis X. Meehan

Saints Simon and Jude Church

Grand Unified Theory of Lost
For a long time, my favorite theory about mysterioso ABC series Lost was that the island was Atlantis with wanderlust: Disguised by the very magnetic fields that moved it, it traveled over the centuries from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic and then the Pacific, picking up an 19th-century slave ship, the Black Rock, and polar bears on the way.

Now, after the finale, I've come up with my own Grand Scheme: Everything is about Charles Widmore (who's reputedly in cahoots with the Hanso tricksters) trying to cover up something big, probably war crimes. Here's what we know:

As we found out on the last episode, Widmore's a filth-rich industrialist, who didn't want his daughter marrying Desmond Hume, previous failsafe-button-pusher in the Hatch.
Desmond was jailed for some offense committed in the military.
Inman, Desmond's button-pushing Hanso-employee Hatchmate, lost his Armed Services gig after turning the Iraqi Sayid into a torturer during the gulf war. Inman also told Sayid about a massacre involving sarin gas.
Sayid also worked during the war with Sgt. Sam Austen, Kate's stepfather.
Sayid's vanished friend/lady love, Nadia, had her house inspected by John Locke, another strandee and button pusher.
Desmond met Jack after having a talk with Widmore's daughter.
Desmond was given the sailboat that took him to the island by Libby, who was seen at the asylum where Hurley was treated.
Hurley knew the numbers, which some fans believe correspond to the geographical coordinates of the island's secret location. (They numbers were picked up, remember, from a radio transmission.)

See the theory on the website.

The Haditha the Media Won't Tell You About

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