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Category: Movies

Happy Emancipation Day!!

Many Americans were not informed why their tax returns are due Monday, instead of yesterday.

On Friday, the IRS was observing a DC holiday: Emancipation Day, which commemorates President Lincoln signing legislation to free the slaves in the District of Columbia.

A little over a year after the Democrats attacked Fort Sumter in their effort to continue slavery, the Republican Congress and President acted to peacefully rollback slavery through compensation, as had been done in most other places where slavery was ended.

Today, Democrats through arbitrary punitive taxation and regulation seek to impose slavery on all with bureaucratic overseers.  Unfortunately, current Republicans lack the integrity and courage to actually oppose democratic tyranny.

So today, let us celebrate and remember that Americans had acted upon our devotion to individual rights and respected the principle that no one could make a unilateral claim upon another man’s labor and life.

Also, if you have not already, see the Atlas Shrugged movie this weekend to identify the symptoms of today’s political problems; after that, and if you had not already, read the book to emancipate yourself from irrationality, duty, and collectivist lies.

Atlas Shrugged Audience Reactions,  Interviews by Ari Armstrong


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Sub Whoring Key Word Challenge

X71 on YouTube has a humorous series of videos teaching the ‘art’ of subscriber whoring to the masses.  The most recent promo vid is below.


Consistent with the spirit of X71’s vid, I invite you to comment, subscribe to my RSS feed, and link to my posts.  Further, I am challenging myself to see how many of today’s published Hot AOL Searches terms I can incorporate into my posts in an interesting way before the end of the month; I excluded the vacation terms from the list.

Below are the terms, where quoted terms refer to movies or TV shows:

’24’, AIG, Al Jazeera, Alice Waters, ‘American Idol’, ‘Australia’, Beyonce, Blackberry Storm, ‘Biggest Loser’ , Britney Spears, Charlize Theron, Chevrolet, Chris Brown, ‘Coraline’, Credit Cards, ‘Dancing With the Stars’, Dodge, Elton John, Ford, Free Credit Report, ‘Friday the 13th’, Garmin Nuvi , ‘Hannah Montana’, ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ , Honda, Hyundai, iPhone, iPod Touch, Jeep, Jessica Simpson, Joel Osteen, Jonas Brothers, Kate Moss, Kindle, Lance Armstrong, Lindsay Lohan, Lexus, ‘Lost’, Kim Kardashian, MapQuest, Mandy Moore, Martha Stewart, ‘Madea Goes to Jail’, Miley Cyrus, Mortgage Calculator, NASA, NCAA brackets, Nissan, NIT, Oprah, Paula Abdul, Personal Loans, PSP, Rahm Emanuel, Rihanna, Ron Silver, Roth IRA, Samsung Instinct, Saturn, Shah Rukh Khan, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, Stock Market, Stock Quotes, Stocks, Student Loans, ‘Survivor’, ‘Taken’, Taylor Swift, ‘The Bachelor’, ‘The Reader’, ‘The View’, ‘The Wrestler’, ‘Top Chef’, Toyota, Turbo Tax, ‘Watchmen’, Wii, Xbox 360, Zune

I will give myself credit for AIG as I used it earlier today, but not for student loans because my recent related post dropped the last s.  To track, I’ll probably update this post to color the terms used.

Ready, set, go!

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Lessons from Valkyrie

Recently, I saw the movie Valkyrie, an account of the last German assassination plot against Hitler, and came away with several points relevant to recent history.

First, despite official government pronouncements, our enemies are more than one lone man who hijacked his country. The Valkyrie plotters recognized that killing Hitler was not sufficient for ending Nazi power. Overthrowing, capturing, and executing Saddam was not sufficient to end Sunni and Baathist violence in Iraq. Chavez was restored by others after a successful coup. Mugabe was reportedly going to resign after defeat in Zimbabwean elections until ordered by his subordinates to maintain their power. Despite his exile years ago, Aristide supporters still foster instability in Haiti. More than vilifying a single leader, the motivating ideas and those who hold them must be identified and defeated.

Second, dupes make unreliable allies. The Valkyrie plotters leveraged existing military orders to mobilize the loyal Reserve Army to arrest Nazi leaders and SS forces; however, when it became clear that their orders were unauthorized, these loyal forces turned upon the plotters. This reminds me of the loss of support on Iraq related to claims over weapons of mass destruction, which were not precisely true even if they were substantially true. Instead of narrow criminal justice style evidence or the obligations of treaties, making the case for pre-emption needs to be openly asserted based on principle and interests.

Third, although opposition movements exist in enemy nations, they should not be relied upon to overthrow their governments. The Valkyrie plotters were skilled military men with substantial access to resources and targets, but they still failed. Do we really think that unarmed students and civilians in Tehran would be more successful in overthrowing the bloody mullahs? While our government unproductively spends money supporting Iranian opposition, it does so as an ineffectual alternative to actively causing regime change.

Nothing new here, just tying these points back to a telling historical event.

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Barack ‘The Wiz’ Obama

Last February, I posted a YouTube video on one of my favorite movies ‘The Wiz.’

I described how the movie refuted black archetypes from the 70s by rejecting collectivism and advocating individualism.

The Crows represented the Gang, the chorus collective, that enforce group identity.

The Scarecrow represented the Bookworm, the intellectual, who transforms from repeating others’ ideas to interacting with reality and developing his own thoughts.

The Tinman represents the Hustler, who wastes away in the pursuit of false and ephemeral values, but revitalizes once he develops the heart (or I would say head) to truly value.

The Lion represents the Militant, who is hard and brash on the outside but without substance and courage on the inside; through the discovery of his values he learns to act virtuously and with courage.

The Wiz represents the politicians who deliver empty rhetoric instead of the results of Justice.

Dorothy, the teacher, acts as a catalyst to move characters from stereotypes to viable individuals. She represents the promise of education to advance individuals beyond the circumstances of the 70s ghettos and housing projects.


In this video, I make reference to the parallel between Obama and The Wiz. The campaign and his election has only reinforced that link in my mind as his voters believe that if they will follow the yellow brick road to the Obama that they will be able to get their brain, or heart, or courage, or gasoline, or mortgage paid.

For that reason, I rename our president-elect Barack ‘The Wiz’ Obama; the panacea in which his true believers see the fulfillment of their whims by his simply gifting it to them.

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Breakup Songs

My indenture is done with minimal legal process remaining to sanctify the milestone of being relieved of a millstone. The past year I have been totally absorbed in the needs of the girls when not completing the Herculean tasks demanded by my past offense. Oh that Hydra what a task she was.

With the armistice signed and the ebb of hostilities, regret rears its head. Not regret for recent actions taken, but values lost long ago if they had really existed at all.

At the end of a twenty-year relationship, its time for twenty-year old breakup songs. Breakups have an odd time warp effect. It is not as apparent in a short relationship, but one‘s mind resets to before the relationship in many aspects.

I was not looking for breakup songs, at least not consciously, but simply wanted to find a distant memory of a song long lost to me by the band Marillion. The only thing I could firmly remember was a stack of Marshalls in the video. Thanks to YouTube, everything old is new again so I could rediscover “Kayleigh.”Also, I think my hair has time warped as I’m looking a little too like Steve Rothery (the guitarist) in the video.

The lyricsfrom “Kayleigh” really captures well my mood of nostalgia contrasted with the consequence. Thanks Fish…it begins:

Do you remember chalk hearts melting on a playground wall
Do you remember dawn escapes from moon washed college halls
Do you remember the cherry blossom in the market square
Do you remember I thought it was confetti in our hair

By the way didn’t I break your heart?
Please excuse me, I never meant to break your heart
So sorry, I never meant to break your heart
But you broke mine

Another of their later songs that grabbed me in this flushing mood when all is done was named after a traditional English holiday confection, “Sugar Mice.”

I was flicking through the channels on the TV
On a Sunday in Milwaukee in the rain
Trying to piece together conversations
Trying to find out where to lay the blame

But when it comes right down to it there’s no use trying to pretend
For when it gets right down to it there’s no one here that’s left to blame
Blame it on me, you can blame it on me
We’re just sugar mice in the rain

Reminds me of an all too familiar diversion of self-recriminations that is soon to end once the county clerk records the pending termination.

I must confess that I have been irritating Ms. Daisy as too often upon entering the car she finds Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” playing to which she orders, “Get over it!”

Since you been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
but nothing
I said nothing can take away these blues,
‘cos nothing compares
nothing compares to you

But, Ms. Daisy misses the meaning I find from the lyric in the reason that nothing compares to It, and it ain’t good. Assung more recently, “Snap back to reality…” And with that hopefully, I move on from my bout with what I have referred to as a domestic terrorism situation.

Speaking of terrorism and the breakup songs for state sponsors of terrorism, YouTube has an integration of Pat Benatar’s song “Invincible” with 9/11 footage.

This shattered dream you cannot justify
Were gonna scream until were satisfied
What are we running for?
We’ve got the right to be angry
What are we running for?
When there’s no where we can run to anymore

We can’t afford to be innocent
Stand up and face the enemy
It’s a do or die situation
We will be invincible
And with the power of conviction
There is no sacrifice
It’s a do or die situation
We will be invincible

“We’ve got a right!” “Conviction!” “No sacrifice!” “Stand up and face the enemy!“ Billie Jean for President!

Reporter: What do you say to the wives and children of all the terrorists killed when you invaded and conquered Iran, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, and North Korea?
President Billie Jean: Fair is fair!

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Day of Wrath

The movie “Day of Wrath” straight to video release was almost good, but it is most interesting because the setting is a lifeboat situation that makes the depiction of a moral choice impossible.

Christopher Lambert plays a village sheriff Ruy de Mendoza in Inquisition racked Spain. He keeps finding dead bodies of prominent individuals, but the bodies and all the evidence keeps disappearing before others can see it. Further, the widows keep insisting that their husband’s are alive but out of town. In his investigation, everyone, including his mother, is lying to him and covering up a secret.

While the world around him contains characters committed to faith and tradition, Mendoza remains committed to truth and justice. Unfortunately, he ends up as a Levin (Anna Karenina) who gives up those values. At least, Mendoza has the excuse that truth and justice are impossible to achieve in Inquisition Spain, because both will lead to the death of himself and his family.

While I would have wanted to seen a complete condemnation of faith in this movie, it does exhibit the dark consequences of church-state integration. Ultimately, the power of the state expressed through the sheriff is inferior to that of the church through the Inquisitor. Thus, it reflects the modern problem in the Muslim world where open opposition to the Islamic extremists means certain death to self and loved ones.

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The Third Man

I watched “The Third Man” (1949) last night but was disappointed. In fairness to the movie, in my pre-conceived notions, I was looking for an excellent performance by Alida Valli [“Noi vivi” and “Addio Kira” (1942), a.k.a. “We the Living”], unfortunately her character just was not up to my expectations. In fairness to me, I had seen her give an interesting performance in “The Paradine Case” (1942), when I did not make the connection between her and “We the Living.”

Over all the best performance in the film was by Trevor Howard as Major Calloway, a British officer investigating deaths and injuries caused by black market penicillin. Joseph Cotton [“Love Letters” (1945)] played Holly Martins, an American in Vienna investigating the murder of his friend. His performance was often good, but inconsistent characterization of his role in the script made me wish at times that he would fly home so the movie could be over. Orsen Welles plays a potentially vivid character, who is let down by his dialogue. My favorite surprise of the movie was seeing Wilfred Hyde-White [Col. Pickering in “My Fair Lady” (1964)], while his character had little to say I do so enjoy his voice.

As a thriller, it has an excellent twist which at the time might have been very surprising, but almost 60 years later we have seen it before in subsequent works. However, it was still well done.

This should have been a silent movie because it is visually stunning, which would be why it won an Oscar for Best Cinematography – Black & White, and was nominated for Best Director and Best Film Editing. If there was a category for it, it should have been nominated for best chase scene in a sewer (not a pun). The setting of post war Vienna is breathtaking, beautiful art and buildings next to rubble still remaining from the war. Even the actors visual portrayals are excellent. Perhaps I should watch it again with the sound off.

By now it is clear, that my complaint about the movie is the dialogue because I have referenced it frequently enough. There were moments when one of the characters would say something interesting but it was never enough. When these came I would think right there is where this story will really get interesting but the words stopped to abruptly ending before anything significant could be communicated.

If I had not had high expectations going into the film, I might have thought it wonderful. The visuals and the plot are the best aspects of this film. As a valuable take away, it was a reminder to me (for application to Iraq) of post war difficulties.

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Justice Denied

Recently, I watched the HBO produced movie “The Jack Bull” starring John Cusak. About a man who was denied Justice by the legal system and took the law into his own hands, it had some good moments but was completely undermind by Christian principals, all the good characters die while most all of the evil characters remain to suffer on Earth.

As the movie is a Western adaptation based upon Heinrich von Kleist’s novelle Michael Kohlhass (written in 1810 and set in 16th century Germany), I wondered how true these elements were to the original work. While I am still reading, I did come across the following good quote, where Kohlhass explains to his wife why he sold his farm after the courts denied his claim:

    “…I will not go on living in a country where they won’t protect me in my rights. I’d rather be a dog, if people are going to kick me, than a man!” [p. 30]

Update 11/25/2005: I have finished the novella, and found one additional good quote. Kohlhaas has secreted himself into Martin Luther’s chambers so that he can explain himself after Luther’s public condemnation of him. Kohlhaas says:

    “I call that man an outcast who is denied the protection of the laws! For I need this protection if my peaceful calling is to prosper; yes, it is for the protection that its laws afford me and mine that I seek shelter in the community; and whoever denies me it thrusts me out among the beasts of the wilderness; he is the one–how can you deny it?–who puts into my hand the club that I defend myself with.” [p. 55]

While I do not recommend the the novella, it does have several redeeming qualities: (1) as a historical fiction based upon actual events it provides a sense of the times, and (2) its portrail of Luther’s politics is consistent with his writing “Secular Authority: To What Extent It Should be Obeyed“.

As an classroom exercise, a comparison between the novella and the movie could be an interesting assignment.

Another interesting comparison could be made between Kohlhaas and President Bush in the War on Terror. Kohlhaas has an out-of-context idealized sense of Justice that leads to his choice for self-destruction by making war on the state. Like Kohlhaas, President Bush’s appeals to Justice against state sponsors of terrorism have been denied by the United Nations, which is as corrupt because of its relationships as 16th century Germany portrayed by von Kleist. In addition, both Kohlhaas and President Bush have a religious orientation inconsistent with the choices they make to seek Justice. To what extent is the religious aspect an Achilles-heel?

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