Friday, May 30, 2008

And to the evil for which he stands!



You probably know him as the villain from my all-time favorite comedy, Blazing Saddles. Sadly, he is no longer with us.

Harvey Korman, 1927-2008

Here's one of the classic Korman/Conway bits from The Carol Burnett Show.

- Buck



Read on, faithful few!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Buckshot: Seeing as we haven't updated in a while...

Hey, Buck! Was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as horrible as so many reviews have said?


Buck says: Screw the nay-sayers! While it isn't the second coming of Raiders, it was a fun ride and better than half the crap that gets released each year. I'm not saying I don't have my minor quibbles, but for me the good far outweighed the bad. Maybe Hooper and I can do a tag-team review, since he's seen it as well.

Read on, faithful few!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Buckshot: He must have been "King of the Wicker People!"

This past Saturday Mrs. Buck and I visited the Cleveland Museum of Art to see their special exhibitition, "Arms and Armor from Imperial Austria." The pieces are courtesy of the Landeszeughaus, Europe's only surviving Renaissance armory. It was well worth the price of admission. There's not only armor, but weapons, woodcuts, paintings, and all sorts of interesting pieces. One standout was a soldier atop his horse, both decked out in full armor.



For anyone in the Ohio area thinking about checking it out, you've got until June 1st before the exhibition closes. Sadly, photography is prohibited (the above image is courtesy of the museum's website) or I'd have some great images to share with you. Oh, and don't get too close to the displays, or you set off an electronic eye alarm. I learned that one first-hand.

- Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Buckshot: Scattershot 5/15/08


Once more, I scour the net to bring you random links.


-- Stumbled upon this today, a collection of shipwreck images.

-- Hooper shares my opinion that this is one of the finest items of clothing ever created.

-- Individual grains of sand under a high-res 3-D microscope? It's cooler than you think.

-- Etch-A-Sketch art. Here's my favorite:

-- Some neat Lego creations.

-- The 2008 Foo Fighters tour rider, detailing their requirements at each stop. They confess up front it's not as good as Iggy Pop's (which I didn't read all of). Still, it's hysterical tongue-in-cheek stuff, particularly "Bacon. I call it God's currency. Hell, if it could be breathed, I would."

-- Muxtape is an interesting little site that lets you share "virtual" mp3 mixtapes with your peeps. (Yeah, I said peeps. I have street cred.) I started to create one myself, but it only lets you add .mp3 format right now, and a lot of my music (at least on this computer) is in .wma format. I'll do a follow-up post when I get my playlist created.

-- Vintage pulp novel covers and images:


-- How many weird roadside attractions have you visited?

-- Which is better? The ACME Do-It-Yourself Tornado kit? Or the ACME Jet-Propelled Unicycle? The Illustrated ACME Catalog.

-- As some of you know, I am a loyal FARKer. And one of my favorite parts of the site are the Photoshop contests. The theme for this one was, "Muppet Movie Poster Mash-Up." While this one wasn't the winner, it was definitely my favorite:

See you on the intertubes!

-Buck

Read on, faithful few!

TPH Brief: Edwardian Politics


(A Brief) Political Hoedown

All right, John Edwards has decided. After months of wrangling, he pledged his support to Barack Obama. And the world trembled!

Or so the media would have you think.

It's simple. In the early days of primary contest, a vote for Edwards was equated to one of three things:

1) A vote for change/a progressive vote, akin to Obama's "hope" mantra; a policy vote
2) A vote for John Edwards to be the President
3) A vote against Hillary Clinton, the presumptive (at the time) nominee and representative of the "old way"

The rationale behind the Obama camp's enthusiasm for Edwards' support is two-fold: he's a former VP candidate, and therefore known and (ideally) respected by the Democratic public; he's got a lot of blue-collar, "hard working" (male) whites behind him, being a southerner and, you know...white. Since Obama has had small progress to say the least among the working-class white male, Edwards can act as a missionary to shore up (build) support in that key demographic.

Because you shouldn't be fooled by Obamians who claim that their coalition will win in the fall (Youth, academia, blacks, wealthy liberals). They need Joe Schlubb from the steel mill in November just as much as McCain will. Jesse Jackson, Jr., claimed that the working white male "swing" vote could just as easily be hispanics, women, blacks or any of the other "key demographics" bandied about. The only fallacy there is that those groups have roundly chosen their candidate and aren't budging. The blue collar Joe, largely for Hillary, is still seen as up for grabs.

So will Edwards' endorsement help? Not in the least.

It's too little, too late. If he had wanted to make a difference and block Hillary, he'd have declared before Super Tuesday or stayed in, so he could act as a kingmaker of sorts (we in the punidtry are all sad he decided to bow out, hoping for a cinematic convention where Obamians and Clintonians yell at each other while the necessary delegates to win, controlled by Edwards, waited for the right moment to strike. A missed opportunity). He doesn't help Obama with white men because the majority have already voted.

Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana - they already voted, and for Hillary. How many delegates did Edwards cost Obama by waiting? I'd argue enough to secure the nomination before May 2008.

Long/short of this is don't pay attention to Edwards. He's barely a politician and his meager 22 delegates won before dropping out prove that.

-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

TPH: Why won't she leave?!


The Political Hoedown
West Virginia...mountain mama; Other Voices; Next Up


Hillary Clinton whooped it up all last night, reveling in her 41-point victory over the junior IL senator. It's trite to say these contests are do-or-die for her. Since she won Indiana by only a slim two points (when, to stay viable, it should've been at least five), the media has been loudly nailing her coffin lid down, regardless of if her body is in there.

This is one lady that's going down swinging.

Obama did not give a speech last night, continuing his brilliant mindgames from last week. First, he says it's over without saying it's over for Hillary. Then he says he's looking ahead to the fall, and his staff begins repositioning for the general election (my inside man is out recruiting in Colorado, trying to make red turn blue). Now, pouring a tube (container? round box? Gah!) of Morton's salt on fresh wounds, he ignores entirely her victory. Flat-out silence. Like I said, brilliant.

***

Lessons we can glean from West Virginia and the campaign as it stands? I can see only one.

Other voices.

If this campaign has taught me one thing, it's that people want to be heard. With Obama as the presumptive nominee at the point - and can any of us really see Hillary pulling out the upset? - you'd think the general Democratic party would be realigning towards him and the battle this fall. But they're not.

Instead, around 240k West Virginians cast either protest votes or voiced their opinions of Obama. They did not quietly accept defeat of their candidate. Pundits have been on about how no Democrat since the cavemen have won the Presidency without West Virginia (there are a few states you have to win, it seems like, or else all hope is lost). Doesn't matter. Obama is building a new coalition, he says, that will rewrite party boundaries and change the political map entrenched for several generations.

Still, what does that have to do with "other voices"?

"I am in this race," Hillary said last night, in a speech to her supporters, "because I believe I am the strongest candidate...the choice falls to all of you."

Many of you know me personally, and understand I have ranted about Hillary until no one would listen, like I was reading straight from an Ann Coulter book. But she's doing something here, and I can't object. Despite her staying in the election until we all turn blue, despite her bald political ambition and social climbing, despite despite despite,-- she is letting people speak.

Her staying in this election reminds us that every state, county, ward, precinct, voter should have their say, if they so choose. Is she staying in for the wrong reasons? Yes, to a degree, but she also espouses this belief that the other voices need to be heard, not just the first 2,025 delegates' worth. From wintry beginning to exhausting end, she'll stay here until the last ballot is filled out.

And that's our democratic process, to the dismay of the DNC. The race might look closer - and therefore, more justified for Hillary - if the proportional system was based on the states' raw vote breakdown, instead of some random weighted system that differs per state and also includes the wilds of caucuses. Unfortunately, bureaucracy intrudes. Hillary doesn't deserve the nomination, per se, but at the same time these screams for her to drop out are also largely unfounded. Nominations are not an easy business. In my lifetime, it's been relatively smooth - compared to what came before. But we're entering a new political landscape, with unknown demographics. It's therefore of paramount importance to listen to each voice as it speaks.

Stopping primary season halfway through robs the later states of their right to be heard. Look at Florida and Michigan, moving their dates up to gain relevancy on a national scale, despite being prominent states to begin with. Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are pretty unimportant on a national scale, and to base the nomination of those four purported "bellwether" states is faulty logic. Is it very hard to understand why people are still coming out in droves now to vote, even though the media and many major Democrats (and Republics; there are protest votes lodged against McCain as well) are saying it's over? The other voices, oft-ignored, wish to be heard.

Looking at the drawn out contest, it's an argument for either a national primary day (or month, with a different quadrant voting each week), but all that is at the parties' discretion. Remember, this aspect of our nation's election process is still decided by the 21st century equivalent of Good Old Boys smoking cigars in the back room (trumped-up nerds with lattes in an office park), so until the Republicans and Democrats decide that the current system is broke, expect more tough fights in open years.

***

Though you may not have read it, feel free to peruse last week's Political Hoedown, "It's over! He won Guam!!", for a recap on Indiana, North Carolina, some more on McCain, the media and (of course) numbers.

***

Kentucky and Oregon vote next, followed by Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota. Those first two will go Hillary/Obama, followed by Hillary and then two Obama wins. It's likely Hillary can discount the western wins by saying they're Republican through and through, not worth the effort and expenditure to make "blue," but Kentucky is a solid battleground and proving spot. Puerto Rico for her also backs up her claim of the Hispanic vote.

John McCain recently gave a talk on his first term. See the AP story here. Some of it even Democrats can't argue with. The rest...it'll surely provoke debate. When the Dems decide what they're doing, I'll counterpoint it more with their proposed first term.



-Hooper



Read on, faithful few!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Buckshot: The Great Pizza Riots of '08


For those who don’t know, I live in Akron, OH, so I am thus able to bring you thrilling tales of utter stupidity from the greater Cleveland area. Such as this one.


Apparently while our beloved Cleveland Cavaliers were in Washington D.C. for playoff games against the Wizards, a local D.C. Papa Johns franchise distributed t-shirts emblazoned with "Crybaby 23" after LeBron whined about some vicious fouls on the Wizards' part:

Now, just as you cannot deny the good people of Cleveland their own IKEA, one does not lightly defame the name of our Lord and Savior LeBron James. There was outrage in the streets. “I’ll never eat at Papa Johns again!” one old woman angrily informed a reporter on the news. “That’s hilarious. Where can I get one of those shirts?” I asked to no one in particular. I also took a moment to remember that these people leaping to LeBron's defense were the same ones ready to burn him at the stake for wearing a Yankees cap to a New York/Cleveland MLB playoff game last year.

As a show of solidarity to Clevelanders (and hoping to fight the bad press), Papa Johns locations in our area had a special deal yesterday: A large 1-topping pizza for $0.23, pickup only. People lined up around the block. People stood in line for hours. People missed work. People got arrested for disorderly conduct. For a cheap pizza. Naturally, it was the lead story on every channel last night. “I wish I’d remembered to keep my receipt. I wanted to save the receipt,” said one woman, clearly delusional from waiting four hours in line for a pizza.

Now, I will admit that I tried to take advantage of the promotion as well. Hey, it was borderline-free pizza, so sue me. But my plan was merely to see if I could order one to pick up on the way home. I certainly wasn't going to waste my day standing in line. Well, they must have just taken their phone off the hook, because every time I called it was busy. Finally, Mrs. Buck said, "Screw it, pizza's pizza," and we ordered from Donatos.


~Fin~


-Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

TPH: It's over! He won Guam!!


The Political Hoedown
May 6th's Primaries; the Media, Judging McCain, ...and the beat goes on...


By now you know how things hashed out Tuesday night in North Carolin and Indiana. Barack won NC by about 14% (56% to 42%) and Hillary eked out a victory in IN, 51% to 49%. It took until 12:15 in the freaking morning to find out the latter, due to stonewalling by Lake County Indiana officials, including the Obama-supporing mayor of Gary, Rudolph Clay. Mayor Thomas McDermontt, Jr. of Hammond, a Clinton supporter, got into a conference call argument with Clay Tuesday night on CNN, claiming accurately that the results were all on a computer. No one was going around by hand and counting the votes. Gary's mayor, flustered, just annoyed McDermott by hamfisting an answer about lost of absentee ballots and leprechauns and so forth.

***

The real winner last night was the media. They've been driving this competition since Iowa, building an underdog case for Obama until he topped Hillary after Super Tuesday. Noting that ratings would drop if the Democrats had a clear choice, they muddied the waters by insisting on the "national states" strategy of Clinton, casting her as the underdog and reinforcing that with each win.

What they've given us, the citizens, the voters, is a clear path to dischord. Democrats can't be happy that their primary election is so bitter, not even thinking about the fall. Come September and October, when McCain has the full might of the GOP campaign blitz behind him, will the Dems wither to nothing, as they burned themselves out too soon?

***

Not that Republicans have it easy. Somewhere around 23% of voters last night cast their ballots against McCain and for Paul, Romney and Huckabee. The Senator may've clinched the nomination, but he hasn't sealed the deal with his base. He came out this week saying he wouldn't appoint activist judges to the Supreme Court, hinting at more conservative choices that frankly scare Democrats. Not that Roberts or Alito, Bush's picks, have been bad; I think Justice Roberts will stand, after his - hopefully - decades-long career on the highest bench, as one of the best up there. That is the true legacy of President Bush, a young Chief Justice. (This armchair pundit's personal opinion is that we'll be better off with that some silly legislation overturned in the next Congress.)

Expect more of the same from McCain in the next month: a gentle hush. He knows if he makes waves - news - then the sharks on the DNC will latch on to every word and whittle him down without spending a dime. Best to leave the Dems to put their own house in order, agonizingly, then give them something to distact the media from the potential implosion in their party.

***

Did Barack Obama win the nomination last night? According to many headlines, articles and editorials today, he did. The victory was big enough in NC and the loss miniscule in Indiana (not to mention last week's Guam win). Neither state is especially crucial in the national scheme of things, and when you break down the demographics of the state and how they hashed out for each person, nothing was a surprise. The same blocks voted for the same candidates in roughly the same amounts. These elections showed nothing new.

What they highlighted was Obama's lead. Hillary just can't overcome it. While he isn't breaking into her base, she's having little luck with his. In fact, 11% of the total Indiana vote could've been Republicans masquerading as Dems. That would be the Rush Limbaugh initiative showing its hand. Were that the case, Hillary is dead in the water, for they would all prop her up to keep Obama - the more dangerous candidate in Rush's eyes - off the ticket. But back to Barack's lead, it is nearly insurmountable at this point. Proportionate voting in the primaries will ensure Hillary gets more delegates when she loses Oregon, Montana and South Dakota, keeping her "alive," yet Obama also gets to increase his totals when she undoubtedly wins in West Virginia next week, followed by Kentucky and Puerto Rico.

The phrase "double-edged sword" applies to every victory of hers, because at this entrenched phase they're not enough in themselves to yank her into the lead. Only the Superdelegates can do that...

Obama is already planning his campaign for the fall, a classic psych-out strategy. He's not locked in yet, either.

The staying power of each rival's constituencies is in the news, as exit polling shows a greater proportion of Hillary's supporters will jump ship and vote for McCain or not at all, vs. Obama's numbers.

FYI: she needs ~67% of the remaining delegates overall, which ain't happening. Former presidential (D) candidate George McGovern, orignally for Clinton, has restated his position, claiming Obama has won and Clinton should concede.

***

We're down to the last six contests for the Democrats: West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota. I already told you who I think will win, and that means we'll have more acrimony, more infighting and more media blitzing for the next month than the a primary season has had in most of our lifetimes.

Hello, democracy!


-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Buckshot: Summermoviepalooza

Nothing fancy today, just a rundown of updates for some of the bigger summer movies you might be looking forward to. WARNING: This post contains slight comic book nerditry.



May
*
Iron Man had a heck of an opening weekend, according to early reports. Word is it had the second-largest single-day take for a non-sequel, second only to Spider-Man. I won't be seeing it until next weekend, by which time I'm sure we'll have had an official sequel announcement. So will 2010 bring us Iron Man 2: Armor Wars, or will that be the third film.? Based on a snippet I've seen in commercials of Rhodey (Terrence Howard) glancing at one of the suits of armor, my guess is the next one will be Iron Man 2: War Machine.

* I'll admit it, Speed Racer does look like a visual feast. But I don't have enough love for the original show to pony up the ticket price. I also can't get past Matthew Fox's Racer X speaking every line in a bizarre monotone in every trailer I've seen. Is that how the character talked in the original series?

*While I enjoyed the first Chronicles of Narnia, I wonder if Prince Caspian has what it takes, falling as it does between Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I know I'm one of the ones who will wait to see it on DVD.

* New Indiana Jones trailer! Suffice to say, the film continues to look like a lot of fun.

* Speaking of questionable release dates, is May 30th a good time to release a horror flick, right as the blockbuster season gets rolling? I have no idea, but darned if the latest poster for The Strangers doesn't look pretty good (even if there is something weird going on with Liv Tyler's hands). It's subtle, and I always like a subtle poster that makes you give it more than one glance.


June
* You Don't Mess With the Zohan may have been co-written by Judd Apatow, but at the end of the day, it's an Adam Sandler movie, and his time has passed. Might be worth a rental solely for Apatow's involvement.

* The new trailer for The Incredible Hulk gives me a lot more confidence in the film than the teaser trailer did. I do agree with Russ Fischer of CHUD when he says that the first third or so of the trailer goes for a Bourne trilogy vibe, but I think it works well enough. The plot point for how the Abomination is created is fairly smart too. I was planning on waiting until DVD for this one, but I have to admit I'm a little excited to see it now.

* Get Smart. Are Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway enough to bring in the audience for a big-screen adaptation of a television comedy from the '60s? I loved the show when I saw reruns on Nick at Nite, so I've got a lot of hope for this one. And it's got Alan Arkin, who should have a supporting role in every film.

* Disney's main page has some cute videos starring WALL*E. You can watch him play with a magnet and hula hoop. I know, it doesn't sound like much, but they're funny. Trust me.


July

* The new trailer is finally up for The Dark Knight. There are also some new posters. Rather than make this an image-intensive post, I'll just post a couple here and link you to the film's page at IMP Awards.





* Will Smith's also in the superhero game this summer with Peter Berg's Hancock. There's a new trailer up at Yahoo Movies, and it looks like a great alternative to all the comic book adaptations.

* Not much new info for Hellboy II: The Golden Army today, although the film has started its own viral campaign, which I have yet to investigate in-depth. Visitors to the New York Comic-Con did get a special convention-only poster by artist Drew Struzan. Hopefully we get the final poster soon. This is another one I can't wait for. It looks like Guillermo del Toro pulled out all the stops for this one. And with a ton of practical effects to boot!

* You might not know it from the near-total lack of promotion 20th Century Fox has given it, but there's a new X-Files movie coming out in July, titled The X-Files: I Want To Believe. No teaser or trailer yet, all I can give you is the first poster.


August
* There's also a new Mummy movie on the way, though Stephen Sommers isn't directing this one. (He's busy on the big-screen version of G.I. Joe. See Hooper for opinions on that one.) Series star Brendan Fraser is returning though, with Jet Li playing the undead villain. Here's the first poster for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.


* Another August release I'm looking forward to is Tropic Thunder, directed by Ben Stiller. A group of actors (Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey, Jr. and others) are trying to film a Vietnam War movie when they accidentally end up in a real armed conflict. Except they think it's still a movie. Oh, and Robert Downey, Jr. plays a black man. Should be great.


And that wraps up Buck's summer movie preview. If I stumble upon any good stuff in the next few days, I'll update this post. See you at the multiplex!

-Buck

Read on, faithful few!