March 31, 2004

What Show Are You On?

“Step away from the window. If you try to leave the building, I will shoot you”

That’s what Michelle Dessler said to an unidentified virus-infected guest of the hotel on last night’s episode of 24.

“No you won’t.” the man replied.

And this scene just goes to show you that it’s very important to know what television show you’re on. From the sound of it, this guy thought he was on Frasier or Everybody Loves Raymond. If he’d just taken the time to ask around and find out that he was on “24”, he wouldn’t have ended up with a couple of bullets in his back as he tried to leave.

Posted by James at 10:51 AM | Comments (2)

Air America Begins

Today “Air America” begins. I’ll be listening via the internet if I can get a connection. No liberal radio over the airwaves where I live, unfortunately.

Liberal Voices (Some Sharp) Get New Home on Radio Dial

Posted by James at 9:46 AM | Comments (8)

March 30, 2004

Hiding In Plain Sight

In the wild, animals use tricks to survive. Camouflage allows critters to hide in plain sight. Secreting a chemical that makes an animal taste bad discourages predation. Even just looking like you taste bad can get you a reprieve from the food chain.

Anti-theft (aka. “loss prevention”) can benefit from the same concepts. One particular item from the Shomer-Tec catalog caught my eye. It’s a hiding place for money
cleverly disguised as soiled underwear.

When I travel, I use a slightly more conventional method for keeping my money and passport safe. But the skid-mark safe definitely has its advantages.

Among them, imagine what will happen if criminals get wise to this? Suddenly you’ll have crooks sifting through actual soiled laundry looking for loose cash. Anti-theft tech will have to raise the bar. Perhaps a safe that looks like a half-eaten moldy tuna salad sandwich. Tiny coin purses shaped like used condoms. Fake vomit you can pour over your important legal documents to protect them from the prying eyes and pilfering fingers of villains.

While snooping around with Google I came across “A SAFE TRIP ABROAD” — the State Department’s guide to staying safe in other countries. It’s a useful document, but among its lighter moments are:

  • Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.
  • Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments.
  • Avoid scam artists.

With the first two I have to think they’re running counter to the time-honored traditions of the Ugly American. That third recommendation is a good one to keep in mind wherever you are. I’ll be sure to ask everyone I encounter “are you a scam artist?”

Posted by James at 2:15 PM | Comments (3)

Is...This Your Card?

It’s dumb criminal magic.

A German man was arrested for credit card theft after trying to buy 76 euros ($90) worth of beer and cigarettes at a gas station with a stolen card that belonged to the cashier, Berlin police said on Monday.

Posted by James at 12:56 PM

Gay Clarke's New Show!

Is it true that the next attack on Richard Clarke will be that he’s gay?

I guess time will tell. But this gives me a great idea for a new TV show on Bravo!

Counterterrorist Eye for the Iraq-Obsessed Guy!

Basically, you turn Clarke’s book into a TV series. Watch as Clarke tries repeatedly to get Iraq-focused Bushies to put down their Saddam fetish for a moment and consider what had been learned about global terrorism in the past 8 years.

Posted by James at 10:10 AM | Comments (2)

March 29, 2004

Ghost Town

When the work dries up or the resources are depleted, people will often abandon an area completely. In the American west, the forlorn shell of a town where no one lives anymore is known as a “ghost town.”

It’s a spooky name, since it evokes the idea that only ghosts live there now, that it is no longer a place for the living to dwell. But for a place like Chernobyl, the name takes on a bit more significance.

My name is Elena, I run this site and I don’t sell anything in here and to tell the true, I don’t have anything to sell. What I do have is my bike and this absolute freedom to ride it wherever curiosity and speed demon take me to. […]

I travel a lot and my favorite destination lead through so called Chernobyl “dead zone” It is 130kms from my home. Why favourite? because one can ride there for hours and not meet any single car and not to see any single soul. People left and nature is blooming […]

Take a look as Elena, her motorcycle and her camera bring you the sights of Chernobyl. It’s a chilling trip, to be sure. Like some post-apocalyptic sci-fi film, or something out of Stephen King’s “The Stand.”

Bring plenty of gas because, as Elena says “We don’t need to run out of fuel on the middle of some nuclear desert.”

[ UPDATE: The story on that website may not be entirely true. “See here.” Motorcycles apparently aren’t allowed in Chernobyl. ]

Posted by James at 5:04 PM | Comments (4)

What Good Weather?

Well, Spring seems to be showing it’s face today. Big freaking deal. I’m stuck in an office with a tiny window that’s mostly taken up by an air conditioner. I can’t open the damn thing without removing the AC. At least when it’s lousy outside I feel happy to be enjoying heat and shelter here in my tiny workspace.

I need to find a way to get the heck out of the office. I think the fluorescent lights are getting to me.

Posted by James at 3:52 PM

March 28, 2004

Burrito Bomb

When I left the house Saturday morning, I found that someone had hurled a Taco Bell burrito onto my driveway. It was likely ejected from a moving car. It looked almost completely uneaten.

The closest Taco Bell is at the other side of the next town.

While I congratulate the litterer on deciding not to consume the cheesy, beefy mess (which Taco Bell dares to call a burrito) I have to criticise the method of disposal and wonder why they waited so long to jettison the item, wrapper and all. Sometime during the day, most of the burrito was consumed. I presume some anonymous mammalian passerby is now sleeping off the effects somewhere.

Yes, I am looking for any excuse to post about something other than politics.

Posted by James at 3:28 AM

March 26, 2004

Neither Pets Nor Meat

Chuck discusses the case of some rabbits (babies, the size of chicken eggs) who were suffering and dying, put out of their misery by an agricultural science teacher in front of her 15-18 year-old class. (Today’s Lesson — How to Kill Baby Animals)

I heard this story, and it immediately made me think of “Pets or Meat” in Roger and Me.

Anyone remember the rabbit lady? In the middle of the movie, while she’s talking to Moore, she breaks a rabbit’s neck and skins it in seconds. The context is important, of course. Much of what is acceptable in one context becomes outrageous when taken out of context.

As long as she tried to do it in a humane way (i.e. quickly, like beheading them), I don’t fault her much. Did she use bad judgment? I would have liked to have been there to really judge. I think the kids were old enough to understand. If she had made a bigger deal about it by saying “I’m going to do this, but I’m going to do it later while you’re not watching.” I think she would have given more weight to the idea that she was doing something wrong. It?s a tough call.

I once ran over a rabbit hole with a lawn mower and had baby rabbits emerge at an inopportune time. I didn’t know the rabbits were there, and it bothered me. It was completely needless, pointless and gory, but I got over it. These rabbits were spared further suffering. I don’t feel a sense of outrage, just that the situation was unfortunate.

Posted by James at 11:39 AM

Frivolous Friday

Fun stuff now.

Posted by James at 10:33 AM

March 25, 2004

Persistence of God

I had an interesting revelation today in a brief email discussion regarding the current Supreme Court review of the words “under God” appearing in the Pledge of Allegiance.

I’d never heard this opinion expressed before, my correspondent was wondering about the reactions people had when hearing the atheist challenges to “under God” in the pledge, and the appearance of the word “god” in other places. Her point was that it struck her as odd that someone would argue so vehemently against something they believed did not exist.

She thought that onlookers might react by thinking that perhaps it is more likely that God does exist, if the fellow was arguing so persistently.

It struck me as a very odd thing to think. That is, until I thought about it more.

I realized I had seen this idea before - in the converse. And then it made more sense to me.

Looking at the atheist’s action someone might conclude that he is afraid of the idea of god because it challenges his belief system, so he wants to strike it from sight. In short, some people might see the atheist acting out of insecurity.

The analogous converse is the atheist who sees theists putting references to god in numerous places might conclude that the desire to do so stems from some insecurity about the theist belief system. They would see the theists insecure in their belief system and needing reinforcement everywhere possible.

Yes! I have seen this idea before. I think it’s an incorrect conclusion to generalize (both directions).

I shouldn’t be surprised it happens on the other side, too. It stems from misunderstanding on both sides regarding motivations. Although, I can’t say for certain that there aren’t people on both sides acting out of insecurity sometimes. There probably are.

There are complicating factors. Some Christians are evangelical, and so they would like to spread the concept of god not out of insecurity, necessarily, but to fulfill what they believe is god’s command to them. And the familiarity with the idea of evangelical believers can make theists assume that atheists are equally intent on spreading atheism. That’s not the case, as I see it. However, there are probably zealous atheists as well, though I don’t know any.

In any case, this doesn’t bear much on the actual arguments that the Supreme Court is facing, but I think it is important to take note of how the people around us view things, and the generalizations and misconceptions we may have about each other.

Related links:

Posted by James at 5:08 PM

March 24, 2004

Brian - In Theaters - Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ to be re-issued - Mar 24, 2004

Coming back soon to a theater near you — a controversial film about a Jewish guy from Nazareth who is worshiped as the Messiah and crucified by the Romans.

Julie passes along this information about a film that may be an antidote to Mel-hysteria, or it just may be a welcome laugh during a time when a lot of people appear to need it.

“Life of Brian,” stirred an uproar all its own 25 years ago, with some Christians condemning the film as blasphemous. The film only got made when former Beatle George Harrison stepped in to finance the picture after EMI Films withdrew from the project, fearing that it was too controversial.

The movie focused on the fictional Brian of Nazareth, a Jew who is born in the manger next-door to Jesus and grows up to join an anti-Roman separatist group called the Judean People’s Front but ends up being mistaken for the Messiah.

The film’s creators have said it was meant as a spoof on Bible films and intolerance rather than Christianity.

But that distinction was lost on some who were offended by the irreverent flavor of the film, including a scene in which several crucifixion victims sing and whistle the tune “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” while hanging on crosses.

Posted by James at 6:11 PM | Comments (2)

March 23, 2004

Scott McClellan, Liar

Scott McClellan, not too good at spinning, often gets dizzy and falls down.

In this case, he claims Clarke is lying, when a paper trail backs up Clarke. Who is lying? The guy who makes some credible allegations or the people that can only launch character assassination because the facts are not on their side?

Posted by James at 9:56 PM | Comments (3)

Why Clarke Is Right

Please indulge me through another Clarke post.

I have no doubt that Richard Clarke, the former National Security Council official who has launched a broadside against President Bush’s counterterrorism policies, is telling the truth about every single charge. There are three reasons for this confidence.

First, his basic accusations are consistent with tales told by other officials, including some who had no significant dealings with Clarke.

Second, the White House’s attempts at rebuttal have been extremely weak and contradictory. […]

Third, I went to graduate school with Clarke in the late 1970s […] There were good things and dubious things about Clarke, traits that inspired both admiration and leeriness. […] Both sets of traits tell me he’s too shrewd to write or say anything in public that might be decisively refuted.

Dick Clarke Is Telling the Truth: Why he’s right about Bush’s negligence on terrorism. By Fred Kaplan

Posted by James at 9:44 PM

Red Dye #40

It will make you late for work.

Last night I offered myself as a guinnea pig regarding the effects of red dye #40, consuming a dose many times what it considered “normal.” (I drank a bottle of red food coloring)

There were not imeediate effects but after a while, I did notice an itching.

In case of allergic reaction, I took a normal dose of the antihistamine clemastine fumarate. A few ounces of scotch, which makes it much easier to read the news, and improves on an already good “The Daily Show.”

I can report that antihistamine makes you tipsy.

I told Maggie I was itchy, but not to worry.

“I wasn’t worried before. Now I am.” she said.

“I’m OK. I reassured her.

“You’re not OK. she countered.

When I began to explain that the itching was most likely imaginary, I realized that when she said that last bit she had been pointing to her head.

Posted by James at 4:28 PM | Comments (9)

Cheney and Rush and Clarke and Hagel

It’s not going to be so easy to twist the Clarke story into one about selling books.

A senior Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, yesterday described Mr Clarke as “a serious professional”, adding that “the White House is going to have to answer these charges”. (Guardian UK)

Bush screwed up, and continues to do so. Miserable failure? You decide.

I’m in the middle of a flurry of activity here today, so I’ll leave you with these links to ponder and comment on:

Also, there is the specific issue of the Veep. Steve over at Absit Invidia has something to say about Smear & Loathing Neocon style. And there’s even more reading…

Posted by James at 2:04 PM

March 22, 2004

The Ice Cream Taliban

“Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone — a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive.

“I fear I may by this remark lose the sympathy of many readers, people who will condescendingly regard as quaint or even priggish the view that eating in the street is for dogs. […] This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if WE feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior.” - Leon Cass - Chair, President’s Council on Bioethics

People think PETA is weird, but at least they have a point. Ice cream for heaven’s sake. Is there anything more wholesomely uplifting than hanging around the local hand-made ice cream parlor eating ice cream and watching the people and kids around you enjoying that moment when all the world collapses down to the rays of the summer sun, the smell of fresh cut grass, the sound of laughter and the lick of an ice cream cone? Ye gods, what are we fighting the terrorists for anyhow?

Found here and here.

Posted by James at 2:12 AM | Comments (4)

March 21, 2004

Safer With Who Out Of Power?

While watching 60 minutes tonight, all I could do was stare at the screen with my jaw wide open. Bush threw a wrench in the works of an active anti-terrorist program and pursued anti-terror intelligence like a true-believer conducts a psychic investigation. Conclusions before facts; look for corroborating evidence; keep pounding.

There is no way to tell whether 9/11 could have been averted. If I’d have to guess, I’d guess no, but that’s partly because i don’t want to lean too heavily on the incompetence of our president or appear to take blame away from the terrorists themselves. But, as Clarke puts it, “There’s plenty of blame to go around.”

Let’s look at what he said tonight that shocked me the most.

First, let me explain who Richard Clarke is. He worked with Reagan to shape anti-terror policies and later worked with the first President Bush. He was kept by the Clinton administration to become terrorism czar for the nation. Then again he worked for another President Bush when GWB took the White House. Hired by a Republican president, worked for 3 GOP heads of state and Clinton. Ok, onward.

  1. After 9/11, Bush took Richard Clarke aside to ask him for a report on Iraq and possible links to al Qaeda. Clarke describes his manner as “intimidating” on his insistence that this connection should be explored. Trouble is, it had been explored for years and there was no evidence. Bush was informed of this.
    1. There had been no Iraqi terrorism since the Bush I assassination attempt when they blew up Iraqi intelligence as a warning—a warning which killed Iraqi terrorism in its tracks.
    2. Richard Clark agreed to produce yet another investigation which turned up no linking evidence, the report was returned with the message “Wrong Answer.” The efforts of years of intelligence had produced the wrong answer—no link to support what the Bush administration wanted to do. (The actual words on the memo, it turns out, were about reworking and resubmitting the report. It was a report based on years of research that had turned up nothing.)
  2. Immediately following 9/11, Rumsfeld was suggesting we bomb Iraq. The CIA, FBI and Clarke were telling him that al Qaeda was in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld told them “Afghanistan doesn’t have any good targets. Iraq has good targets.”
  3. Clarke describes that a lot of effort went into stopping what he calls “the al Qaeda attack” during the Clinton years.
    1. There were meetings every other day, or every few days with the president. They thwarted attacks such as a plot to blow up LAX. He had proposed a plan to Clinton to kill Osama, but that plan was turned down.
    2. By contrast, when Bush took office, the meetings with the president stopped. Requests for meetings went unanswered. Warnings went unanswered. Information stopped. Information about the known al Qaeda cells didn’t make it to Clarke. He finally got one meeting before 9/11 on the 4th of September, 2001. He presented the plan to kill Osama, but was rebuffed again. We all know what followed.

What strikes me the most is how when Bush took office, they really did put terrorism on the back burner. This shouldn’t surprise us at all, since they gave al Qaeda a breather during the post 9/11 war on terror by waging a separate war on Iraq. The administration’s response is just to say that the suggestion Bush was not hard-hitting on the Taliban and Afghanistan is absurd. It completely glosses over the accusations.

Stephen Hadley, Bush’s National Security Counsel, is unconvincing in his answer to Clarke’s charges. At times, Hadley oversteps the facts. He claims there is no proof of any encounter between Clarke and the president regarding an Iraq report, then stumbles as Lesley Stahl mentions they have independent corroboration of the encounter, including one witness to it. Later, when Hadley intimates that Clarke told him he was happy with Bush’s handling of terrorism when he left his job, Stahl asks him if that’s what Clarke told him. He had to back up again and say it is what he “understood.”

Al Qaeda attacks were thwarted during the Clinton administration. That’s not to say Clinton was the end all and be all of anti-terror. But he had a terrorism czar who was included in cabinet-level meetings—frequently. For whatever reason he was reduced in involvement and his warnings were ignored. After 9/11 he was reduced to the job of fetching information to link Saddam and al Qaeda. As Bush said, “You can’t distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.”

This is huge.

“Are we safer with Saddam out of power?” is yesterday’s question.

Today’s question is “Are we safer with Bush out of power.”

[New Zealand Herald]

[Addendum: Watch the fun as the conservative attack dogs work to discredit Clarke. This fellow came across as honest, credible, and sincerely concerned about the American people. What more do you want in a terrorism czar? In fact, he resembled an older Jack Bristow from Alias. A no-nonsense guy. Regardless, the attacks are, no doubt, already forming.]

Posted by James at 10:46 PM | Comments (12)

Bush Knew

I’ll probably have something to say about this later, but don’t miss this tonight:

“I find it outrageous that the President is running for re-election on the grounds that he’s done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it.” -Richard Clarke, former Bush terrorism advisor.

Found at It’s a Crock.

[ Update: My reaction to the interview is posted here ]

Posted by James at 6:02 PM | Comments (8)

Honest Online

Everyone tells a little white lie now and then. But a Cornell professor recently claimed to have established the truth of a curious proposition: We fib less frequently when we’re online than when we’re talking in person. Essay: The Honesty Virus (NYT)

Basically, paper trails (even electronic ones) keep people more honest. Nowhere is that more evident than in discussion groups. With a weblog, you never really know if the author has gone back to make edits, though one of the unwritten rules of weblogging is to not go back and edit for content. I’ll sometimes go back and add something (a link to a later discussion, for example) but it’s implied that once I post somehting my view at the time is recorded and going back and changing that opinion ex post facto is an unacceptable altering of history.

Some Weblogging ethics references:

Nothing’s hard and fast, and I’m not sure I really buy anyone’s set of weblog etiquette. Which, I guess means I should come up with my own list in a future post.

Where honesty online is concerned, it’s all straightforward. Don’t lie. Try to be sure of your facts before you post. Don’t go back and distort your history. Etc.

Posted by James at 1:56 PM | Comments (1)

How To Get More Comments on Your Blog

Bil writes in a comment:

I really like getting comments on my site. For a while there I was getting a lot of good comments, but lately it’s been awful. Barely anything.

I like getting comments on my site, too. I think it is part of why many of us get into weblogging. My weblog was 1 1/2 years old before I got any regular comments. We all get a lot more hits than comments, and it’s something I’ve devoted some thought to.

I can’t say for sure, but I think people like to see their comment listed up on the main page. That’s why I added that little feature on the main index that lists the latest so-many comments. Your blog layout is a lot more streamlined at the top than mine is. It emphasizes your posted content, which is good, but maybe it doesn’t encourage community as much.

Encouraging “online community” is something I’ve considered for a number of years (ever since I taught an online course about internet communications and then later as I helped moderate some discussion groups and participated in Epinions.1 )

There are things that motivate people to move from being a reader to posting a comment. Nothing is guaranteed, but I have a few observations/suggestions.2

  1. When you comment, people comment. I read Bil’s comment on my weblog and it encouraged me to visit his site and it put me into a mood for discussion.
  2. When you ask questions, it encourages answers, especially when you ask questions that everyone has an opinion about. However, if they have something substantial to say, they may not want to bury it deep in someone else’s comment section. That leads to my next suggestion.
  3. Encourage trackbacks3. There are plug-ins for making trackbacks a little more prominent on your weblog. I haven’t used them, but encouraging trackback is one way to get some feedback. If a person is already invested in blogging, they probably have an interest in posting something interesting for their readers, and getting your readers to notice them. Trackback could be looked at as a way for someone to siphon off your readers, but I prefer to look at it as a way of making connections, when it is used heavily. Encourage trackbacks by making them both more prominent and more readable. It’s another opportunity for someone to see how they can make their mark on your website.
  4. As I mentioned above, your main index (your weblog’s main page) can encourage comments. A list of the most recent comments not only allows people to follow comments, but allows folks who comment to get their name (and their link) on your main page. For another blogger, this is an enticement. You might also use something like CommentLeader to put a list of the most prolific commenter on your main page.4 This is part of building community. People see that they’re part of the weblog’s readership.
  5. Say something really inflammatory, and use popular Google search terms. I include this because it’s true. No, I don’t think it’s the best thing to do to get attention. This is borrowing a page out of shock radio, or AM talk radio. AM talk radio doesn’t work unless people get riled up and call in. So the radio jock is increasingly encouraged to say outrageous things in order to piss people off. Alternately, he’s saying things that some of the callers wish they could say. The callers call in and agree, and this lets them blow off some steam. If you can do this without compromising your opinion, that’s great. Unfortunately, for it to really work, you have to do it often. But it may just be fun to let loose once in a while.
  6. Taunt and challenge people. “I dare you to comment! You’re afraid to comment!” OK, that’s a dud.
  7. Get yourself more links. Be a link whore. Do whatever it takes to raise your hit count. Make entries based on your guesses for good Google search terms. And ruin your weblog in the process. OK, another dud.
  8. Links off your site discourage comments. If you’re posting a link to somewhere else, your readers are more than likely going to go off to that other place and not come back and comment unless they have some really good reason to return. That’s just the way it is. Those people who do return are your regular readers who may already be in a rut of not commenting. The random readers are gone before they have a chance.
  9. Respond to comments, and let comments sometimes feed into new posts. I think people like to know you’re thinking about their comment, so I try to comment back. But they may not see my response if they are not explicitly waiting around checking that entry (another reason for the “recent comments” list). Sometimes you have a comment-response that is too long for the comments. Don’t bury it there. Quote the comment and make it its own entry on the main weblog. Again, it shows people that comments are part of the back-and-forth.
  10. Focus on smaller weblogs with your own reading and commenting. You’re more likely to gain a new reader/commenter if you’re commenting on weblogs that are your level or lower on the weblog ecosphere. Why? Because people really high up in the weblog food chain already get a ton of comments. They won’t notice you. See observation #1 for why this is significant.
  11. Write good, or at least goodish.
  12. Ask/beg for comments. It could work.

Those are a few of my suggestions. I don’t claim to be an expert on getting comments. Top Twelve Reasons was a fluke. I usually get very few comments, but I’m blessed with a high quality readership. Yes, Aces Full of Links is not about quantity of readers, we’re all about quality. And we like to reward our readers who comment by sucking up to them shamelessly.

Some A-list weblogs have tons of readers and don’t get all that many comments. So, don’t feel so bad if you get even fewer.

In any event, I’d be happy to hear anyone’s further suggestions for how to garner more comments.

1 One of these days I’ll have to post an essay about how weblogging is similar to Epinions. It’s been a while since I’ve written there. My last piece was a review of a book on weblogging.

2 Just so that it’s clear, even though I mention Bil and his excellent weblog A Cry For Help, these suggestions are general observations. This is not, in any way, a criticism of A Cry For Help.

3 Trackback is a way of leading people to a continuation of a discussion from one weblog to another. It was created by the folks at Movable Type, but it’s been adopted by some other blog software and is becoming a standard. It’s best used when you’re continuing a discussion, but because of Trackback Auto Detect, often a link is made even if someone is just saying “Look what he said.” That diminishes its usefulness, but I think it’s still worth having for the times when people really are continuing the discussion.

4 CommentLeader is a plug-in for the Movable Type blogging software. There may be other ways to do this in other blogging systems, but I’m not aware of them. My experience is only with MT and Blogger, and Blogger doesn’t support built-in comments at all. (YMMV—It didn’t when I was using it and probably still does not [update: now it does] )

Posted by James at 1:43 AM | Comments (10)

March 20, 2004

Dawn of the Dead (Review)

“There is no safe haven…”

On the heels of the gory The Passion of the Christ comes a bloody film filled with violence, the damned, and resurrection.

How do you judge a zombie film? It doesn’t have to be complicated. You judge it on how shocking it is, the level of gore, the humorous moments, the human tension, and whether it makes you squirm.

Again, I’m talking about the zombie film, not “The Passion.” Just to keep things clear.

Dawn of the Dead(2004) is a remake of the original George Romero1 film from 1978. The practically-unknown-to-IMDB Zach Snyder directs this time around. I could only find a few references to his previous work. Romero is still credited with the screenplay, and this film does follow the basic story that the classic 1978 film covered.

Nurse Ana (Sarah Polley) wakes up one morning to find the world has gone insane. People are ripping each other apart with their teeth, and it’s spreading. From nearly the very beginning of the film, the main characters pursued by scrambling, lurching and, (most disturbingly) running zombies. Our main character encounters a number of frightened people and, like the original film, eventually holes up in a mall. (Ving Rhames is the tough ex-marine cop, Mekhi Phifer is the guy with the pregnant wife, Michael Kelly is the control-freak security guard, etc.)

In a parody of life, the zombies seek out the mall, making it clear that the folks cannot stay where they are. They and you know that things are going to get worse before they get better. Before the TV stations go dead it’s made clear… there is no safe haven.

Unlike many sub-genres of horror film, the Romero-style zombie flick is a movie with no hope. A number of times you look out over the crowd of zombies, or see how fast a person can turn and you realize that this is pretty much “game over.” Near the beginning of the film, wide shots of the area show the destruction that has occurred in just a few hours since the infection began. Life doesn’t end just because the world offers no hope. Living is about sound and fury, and these people are not ready to give that up yet. Action ensues.

Zach Snyder’s direction and cinematography puts us in the action. We don’t necessarily see everything, but we do feel it. You can put many films into the broad category of Dawn of the Dead—films in which the main characters are pursued by a menace. Many recent offerings along these lines have lacked any excitement whatsoever. Stereotypical characters, predictable situations, outrageous behavior, and a focus on the gore alone teamed up to suck the life out of these films. In zombie-movie parlance, they’re “twitchers.”

Zach’s efforts are a disgusting and disturbing move in the right direction for horror fans, breathing some afterlife into the genre with a film that chases you like it really wants to eat your brain. Dawn of the Dead is a respectable remake, and I hope it means we’ll see some innovative films from this director in the future.

1 I met George Romero once. In a mall, too, as it would happen. He was there with Stephen King for the opening of their film Creepshow. My friends and I were avid horror fans, and we made ourselves up as bloody accident victims because we were told this would get us into the movie for free (it did).

When we got close to them in the crowd for an autograph, the two of them looked pretty weirded out by our avid movie-freak efforts to get noticed. We were well-versed in the arts of gore thanks to Fangoria and other genre magazines. We looked bloody and banged-up.

King, for his part just signed our items and moved us along. When my friend Rob presented Romero with a skull to sign complete with a tube out the back, he got curious.

“What’s this?”

“It’s a skull”

“What’s it do?”

“It spits blood.”


At least, that’s the way I remember it.

Posted by James at 1:16 PM

March 19, 2004

Long Week? Try Ants.

Feeling stressed at work? Powerless? Feeling like a cog in the machine, a peon, an ant? Here is a Friday diversion for you. What if you were really big and had a giant magnifying glass on a sunny day…

Posted by James at 9:52 AM | Comments (1)

Matchstick Men (Capsule Review)

Nicolas Cage is twitchingly endearing for a criminal in this con artist genre film. Matchstick Men tells the story of Roy Waller, a man who has lost his way in life, but found his true calling as a fast-talking practitioner of grifting. He’s also found a partner in Frank Mercer (Sam Rockwell), a partner who helps Roy pull himself from obsessive-compulsive hell after he loses his medication.

A series of events leads him to encounter what may have been missing in his life all along, a relationship with his daughter Angela (Alison Lohman).

When we’re unhappy, we can be our own worst con men, convincing ourselves that we can’t change, that we have to be a certain way, and that we’ve got to be miserable for the rest of our lives. Perhaps its a cliché to have the young girl come in and turn Roy’s well-ordered world upside down, but when she wants to learn her father’s business, a wrinkle becomes the possible unraveling of the fabric of his life. You can’t really look to other people to fill the gaps in your life. You have to start with what’s between your ears. When so many of your problems are in your head, sometimes the solution is there too. Even if it comes in the form of a new problem.

Posted by James at 2:21 AM

March 18, 2004


A post on Chuck’s new weblog is entitled Springtime in New England.

One of the clever (but anonymous) commenters declares:

Umm… Chuck, Doesn’t spring start this saturday??

And that got me thinking about spring. And how spring pretty much starts when you want to say it starts. Is there reason to be a stickler about the seasons, and when they begin or end? The short answer is, “No.”

The Heavens

Astronomically, spring is one of 4 seasons that divide the year based on what part of its orbit the Earth is in. The actual effects observed during the seasons is governed by the tilt of the Earth, which can be assumed to be basically constant. As the Earth moves, the tilt causes the place where you live to get the Sun’s rays at varying angles.

In the winter, the angle is very shallow, so the rays become weak and the Sun appears low in the sky. A lower-in-the-sky Sun makes the days shorter because the sun spends more time below your horizon. In the summer, the Sun is high in the sky, days are longer, and the Sun’s rays are shining on us more directly.

OK, that’s all good stuff. But it’s an astronomical definition of “season,” which is not the only definition. In fact, the astronomical definition of spring, while very useful to scientists, is of very little use to you in your everyday life. You can’t really be blamed if you don’t think it’s spring until the snow is long gone.

Varying Definitions

In Ireland, the seasons traditionally change on month boundaries, not in the middle of the month. This makes a lot more sense from a human standpoint because it’s one less thing to keep track of. And your everyday person thinks about the seasons more as a weather-related thing than an astronomical phenomenon.

Then there are holidays that people perennially call “the official start of the summer season” or “the last weekend of the summer” based partly on weather, but also on social calendar events. The beginning of school, the last planned cookout, the first visit to the beach, a strategically-placed 3-day weekend… all these things have an impact on how people perceive the seasons.

We even talk about seasons sometimes being missing completely. Many times here in New England you will hear people complain that we don’t have a spring. We’ll have wintery weather until March, and suddenly the temperature will shoot up to what we expect in our summers. (New Englanders are a lot less ready to jettison autumn. It’s in the blood.)

Extreme Cases

There is, of course, the famous New England year without a summer (Described here briefly and here in some more detail). “Eighteen hundred and froze-to-death,” as it were.

Even in normal years, local weather varies widely across the globe, with some areas more reasonably dividing their seasons based on “dry vs. rainy” or other factors. Of course, the southern hemisphere is experiencing its summer when we northerners have our winter. To their eyes, the subjectivity of the seasons is obvious.

When it comes down to it, there is enough ambiguity that you are well-justified in ignoring all of the conventions of season-change. Choose your own. If you said “Let’s have a cookout this summer” would anyone really reject a date in June just because the solstice had not yet occurred? If so, that person would likely find his cookout invitations diminishing in proportion to how often he clung to his argument.

Do Your Own Thing

Ed King and I have an ongoing jibe about this. He sees the first good weather of the year and declares “Spring is here!” But then I find some silly reason to call it autumn instead, pushing the blurry line to a ridiculous degree. But, in reality, we have agreed that there is not much basis in telling someone it’s not spring if they want to consider it spring, especially anywhere near the traditional spring months.

Wikipedia entry on spring (the season)(season)

Posted by James at 2:43 PM | Comments (4)

March 17, 2004

Shotgun Post

Clearing out some quick items. It’s another shotgun post! I know, it seems like this is a Friday-type thing. But I couldn’t wait.

Posted by James at 8:00 PM

Profound Spinmeister

The girls had gotten up from supper and were starting to mill about. There is often an uneasy last few minutes of a meal during which the girls are wondering about whether they should begin asking for chocolate or some other sweet end-of-meal treat.

Sculpture of SednaIn a last-ditch effort to keep them at the table to finish the meal, Maggie asked Katherine what she knew about the new “planet” that’s been in the news recently. So the conversation took a turn into astronomy. We discussed Sedna1, Quaor, Pluto, stars, planets, the Oort cloud, the Kuiper belt and related stuff. Then Katherine passed along some information about spinning.

“Billy2 says that if you spin around and around, and then stop, you can feel the Earth turning.”

Maggie and I looked at each other, and she replied to Katherine as I shook my head.

“Do you think that’s true?”

“No,” Kit replied. “I think that he’s just feeling that he’s dizzy.”

I couldn’t help but think about Billy and what his imagination was doing under the influence of unusual inner-ear stimulation. On the one hand, it reminded me a bit of hearing the sea in a seashell when you hold it up to your ear. You get some sort of sensory input and you think “I’ll put this into context� it’s a seashell, so I’m hearing the sea!” And, looking at it that way, some friend or relative probably told it to him in the same vein, as a fun little fiction to go along with the natural childhood activity of spinning yourself senseless.

But the stronger image that came to mind was of people I’ve known who have a tendency to get into some altered state of consciousness (via exhaustion, booze, drugs, dreaming, endorphins, really good ice cream, what-have-you) and choose that moment to have what they think is some profound thought or connection to the universe rather than realizing that what’s happened is that they’ve turned off the filter that evaluates their thoughts for whether or not they make any sense whatsoever. The distinction is missed by the vast majority of people.

I wondered if Billy was that sort of person, experiencing the grade-school equivalent of this phenomenon. Only time will tell.

1 Sedna is the most distant object known to be part of our solar system. Other than comets, I assume.

2 Billy’s name changed to protect the innocent.

Posted by James at 9:31 AM | Comments (7)

Slainte Mhath!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

‘Then Mickey Maloney ducked his head
When a noggin of whiskey flew at him,
It missed, and falling on the bed
The liquor scattered over Tim!
The corpse revives! See how he raises!
Timothy rising from the bed,
Says,”Whirl your whiskey around like blazes
Thanum an Dhul! Do you thunk I’m dead?” (Finnegan’s Wake — The Clancy Brothers)

Alternately, my favorite Irish song (though less uplifting) The Foggy Dew. (also as a midi file)

Posted by James at 3:18 AM | Comments (1)

March 16, 2004


Sittin’ here at nearly 1:00 AM. Have the strange urge to write something, but there doesn’t seem to be anything to write about. Can a weblog post write itself?

I guess we’ll find out.

I’m slumped back in my chair. Terrible posture. My bottom is on the edge of the seat, my shoulders are resting in the middle of the chair back. Really, really terrible posture.

There are so many months to go in the political season, yet everything seems to be in a frenzy already. But too much of the news is ridiculous. I was turned off at the idea of another post about the election. Or Bush. Or Kerry. So instead I’m staring at the screen and at these three orange peels on my desk. The peels of three oranges.

In searching for a new email client, I installed PocoMail. It’s nice, but it will stop working at the end of the month unless I cough up the dough. I may jsut go back to Eudora. I can’t remember why I stopped using it. Installing a new email client and a spam filter took all my energy. Now I’m just defiantly awake so I don’t lie down, fall asleep and immediately find myself getting ready for work. Sleeping goes by fast. But perhaps if I did sleep, I’d have an interesting thought about what to write, instead of this lousy near-stream-of-consciousness drivel.

Here’s a tiny gem among the muck. I found this, the ARTFL Project while I was searching for confirmation that “dine” once meant “to go to bed” in American English. I never did find that confirmation, but I stumbled upon the ARTFL form for searching their 1913 Revised Unabridged Dictionary. There are a number of reference works, and other documents to look at. ARTFL stands for “American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language.”

So, can anyone corroborate that archaic meaning for “dine?” I have a card from Altered English that claims the “go to bed” definition is recorded in The American Dialect Dictionary, New York 1944.

Posted by James at 2:29 AM | Comments (2)

March 15, 2004

Bush: Newsmaker

What do you do if you’re Bush and you don’t like the news that’s on TV. Why, you make your own fake news, of course. Complete with fake reporters giving you a standing O for signing a Medicare bill.

Posted by James at 12:04 PM | Comments (11)

The Kool Aid of the Christ

So, I haven’t written anything about Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ. That’s mainly because I can’t write a review of a film I haven’t seen. However, certain things are becoming clear enough that I can at least make a few comments and point you in the direction of some reviews. I’ll contain my criticisms to the level of criticism I would have for other films I haven’t seen, such as House of 1000 Corpses or Dude, Where’s My Car?.

There are a number of criticisms and comments of the film coming from people whose opinion I respect.

Curtis over at TX Reviews focuses his main criticism on the fact that the character of Jesus is underdeveloped in the film. I, myself, wondered why Gibson chose the Passion to the exclusion of other parts of Jesus’ life.

But, perhaps Gibson is not trying to instruct at all, when it comes to Christianity. Perhaps he’s only trying to communicate something he feels very deeply. Ebert makes the observation that:

But “The Passion of the Christ,” more than any other film I can recall, depends upon theological considerations. [�] It is a personal message movie of the most radical kind, attempting to re-create events of personal urgency to Gibson.

I can understand that. This is a film driven by a belief. And, in large, people who share that belief are reacting similarly. The question, what is that belief? is not one I think I can answer without seeing the film. Yes, there’s a religious component to the belief. But also, there is something about violence to it—something about victimization.

I’m steering clear of the anti-semitism aspect partly because it’s lost in subtlety that someone who has not seen the film is not going to be able to work out. But to continue on with the “belief” aspect, I have heard more than one Christian making reference to this as being “their” film, in the sense that there are already many films about oppression and maltreatment of Jews. Do people believe that it is time for Christians to rise up in some sort of perceived victimhood? The Christian victim meme is out there, so much so that it is gaining attention. Perhaps this has something to do with the phenomenon.

One thing that is clear to anyone whose seen clips of the film is the high level of violence. It’s not available online, but this week’s Entertainment Weekly contains an article by Stephen King. He declares it a good film, but switches in mid-article to another concern. A young girl of perhaps 8 is seeing the film with her mother who just instructs her to cover her eyes during the bloody parts.

Alicia hid her face for 15 minutes�but that left another 50 minutes of punishment, torture, cruelty and death to go. And was I ashamed to be in the theater, even though the film Gibson has made is, if taken on its own artistic and religious terms, good—perhaps even great? I was. I feel that same shame heating my skin now, days later. [�]

The child I’ve chosen to call Alicia looked. And looked. And looked. I think she’ll be looking for a long time to come. In her dreams.

It’s worth reading the whole article, because it is the best treatment of the violence aspect I’ve seen from a man who has mad violent films himself. He doesn’t mention the ratings SNAFU, even though the ratings board has been one of his peeves over the years. Ebert makes references to the fact that either the ratings board has no problem with violence (as opposed to sex in films) since they did not award the NC-17, or they were afraid of a backlash because of the subject matter. You decide.

Margaret has had her own reaction to the film’s focus on the violence which ended Jesus’ life. She drew a cartoon to express her opinion regarding both the violence and how the film is being used by some. Here it is, with a little bit of context on Greg’s Peace Passion. And some comments of hers appear on an earlier post on Greg’s weblog.

I have my own reasons for finally making some mention of this film. My reason is that the arrogance bothers me. Not the arrogance of making a religious film, or making a film about Christianity. Or even the arrogance about making a violent film. I respect Mel Gibson’s right to make any sort of film he likes. It’s the arrogance Gibson has about the film, in that he seems to think that there is no interpreting filter. He’s said, famously, that if you have a problem with the film, you have a problem with the gospels. Mel has partaken of The Kool Aid of The Passion—his own Kool Aid. Mel should understand that even if he were there, with Jesus every step of the way, the film would still be a point of view. And how can it be anything but that after 2000 years and through a number of lenses?

What do I care if he’s slipped over the border into self-delusion? Well, for one thing it now makes me feel it’s OK to enjoy the humor (not that I usually hold back, but I certainly feel better about it)

My favorite skewering thus far appeared on SNL this weekend. I hope you caught it. It was “The Passion of the Dumpty” (which I imagine will appear on the internet sometime soon). It was an on-target lampooning of the Diane Sawyer interview.. Robert Smigel replaced cuts from the movie in the original interview with animations of the horrible treatment of H. Dumpty. A shadowy figure pushes him from the wall and is later revealed to be a Jewish caricature, complete with a Star of David. Eventually, a fried egg rises into heaven. The interview was interspersed with parodies of the Bush campaign ads, each one having to change because of objectionable content. The piece was a home run.

The only mention of it on the internet is in this freeper forum, where the predictable reaction is taking place. People objecting to the rising of the fried egg, etc. They feel insulted. What a perfect reaction! Now, the film is Christianity. Parody the film and you’re attacking Christianity. By their same criticisms, Jews should be up in arms over the Jewish caricature in the bit. But its obvious that this parody is attacking the two big controversies of the film—its violent contend (a horse crushed Dumpty’s head at one point) and the anti-semitisim some perceive.

There appears to be little negative reaction from the Christina world toward Gibson for opening the door to this obvious criticism. I’ve seen Catholic criticism attacked by right-wing (conservative protestant) media. That’s to be expected, right?

So, what do I think of the film? I think I’ll see it eventually. Shouldn’t I? It appears to have been thoroughly vetted by Christians. How can I understand Christianity if I ignore a film that has become so important to so many American Christians? When it is out on DVD I will have to rent it, and take in every second of the bloody mess. And I’ll meditate about what it means to be a Christian, something I previously thought had more to do with the teachings of the Christ rather than the every detail of his death.

Posted by James at 10:32 AM

March 14, 2004

Black Ships & Samurai

On July 8, 1853, residents of Uraga on the outskirts of Edo, the sprawling capital of feudal Japan, beheld an astonishing sight. Four foreign warships had entered their harbor under a cloud of black smoke, not a sail visible among them…

Black Ships & Samurai is a fascinating exhibit on the Web, brought to us by some folks at MIT. It chronicles Commodore Perry’s year-long mission, which brought Japan into wider contact with the rest of the world.

Inlcuded in the online exhibit is an amazing representation of the “Black Ship Scroll,” painted by a Japanese artist in 1854. The virtual scroll is supplemented by quicktime movies which provide some translation and allow you to follow the scroll from beginning to end. One interesting bit tells of how Perry himself was perceived by the Japanese as “almost demonic” and a “hairy barbarian” in contrast to the otherwise sympathetic portrayal of the foreigners.

The family and I are frequent visitors at the Newport Black Ships Festival in Newport, RI, which is a yearly celebration of this historic meeting. We skipped it last year (I can’t remember why) but I don’t think we will this year. The dates haven’t been announced, but it’s usually mid-July. Who’s up for the Taiko drum show (and picnic, if they do it the same way they did 2 years ago)? I could be convinced to make sushi for the occasion.

This made me wonder what was going on last year in July. Remember this goofy guy? Phoot!

Posted by James at 12:59 PM

March 12, 2004

12 Reasons Housekeeping

I had to do some housekeeping on the 12 Reasons post and its comments.

It’s creeping ever closer to 200 comments, some of them rivaling Russian novels in length. Every time someone clicked that link in a search engine, they got that whole page whether they wanted to read it or not. Everyone who wanted the latest comment got everything. There was no good automatic way to handle it, so I did some meatball surgery.

The old permalinks will not work because the file location has changed, but you can link into the new “permanent” location.

The links to peoples websites are broken because of the way MT obfuscates weblinks (an anti-spam measure). It was not easily fixable by hand. Enjoy the quicker load time… for now.

[Update: I’ve closed comments on that entry. See here for details.]

Posted by James at 11:35 PM | Comments (5)

3/11 Tragedy

By now, you’ve likely all heard about the terrible terrorist attack in Madrid, Spain. Nearly 200 dead and over 1000 injured. I offer my sympathy to the country of Spain and to the families of the victims.

Posted by James at 3:47 AM | Comments (1)

Ellipsis Fun

A recent Bush campaign press release quotes Kerry thusly:

“In My First Hundred Days In The White House, I Will Roll Back George Bush’s Tax Cut…” (Sen. John Kerry, Remarks In Manchester, N.H., 12/27/03)

What did Kerry actually say?

“In my first hundred days in the White House, I will roll back George Bush’s tax cut for the wealthiest so that we can invest in education and health care.”

(Found at

Your fun assignment for today is to take any Bush quote and have fun with your own creatively-placed ellipsis or ellipses. Submit as many as you like to the comments section. It’s Friday—let loose.

C’mon, you’re smarter than Karl Rove. I’m sure you can come up with something amusing. There’s tons of source material in radio addresses and speeches like the State of the Union or his UN Address.

If you want to go after other members of the administration as well, don’t let me stop you. Don’t be shy.

Posted by James at 3:30 AM | Comments (7)

Bushy Bushie

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, urged Bush to withdraw one of the new ads because it illustrates the section on terrorism with a picture of an olive-skinned man with bushy eyebrows. (ABC News)

I may not have the eyebrows, but I’m middle-eastern-looking. When I grow up, I want to star in a Bush attack ad!

Covered elsewhere [1] [2]

And, please, go directly to this ad parody.

Posted by James at 2:45 AM | Comments (6)

March 11, 2004

Without Faith

Quoting Chuck in comment #171 of that infamous 12 reasons post:

As soon as the discussion leaves faith, progress can begin:

Person A: This is silly, why don’t we find a way to share this land?
Person B: Okay, let’s work it out.

To continue:

Person A: Hey! What’s that over there?
Person B: What? [looks]
Person A: Bang! [takes land]

Posted by James at 3:07 PM | Comments (13)

The Re-Election Will Be Televised

A Hollywood producer says he is set to air a new hybrid reality-fiction TV show glorifying the Department of Homeland Security and President Bush’s counterterrorism efforts this fall, just before the presidential election. […]

The series became an instant conversation topic in Washington yesterday after an E! Online report quoted producers as saying the show had been endorsed by Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, both of whom “contributed sound bites” and offered high-level access extending to the White House itself. […]

Medawar — whose production credits include the 1992 Stephen King film “Sleepwalkers” and 1986’s “Hardbodies 2” — dismissed any suggestion that the show has a political agenda, but said he is a staunch Bush supporter. “I think he’s a great man, and he’s done an unbelievable job for our country. He’s a man of faith. He believes in God.”

One poster for the series uses a picture of Bush and his Cabinet members with their heads bowed in prayer. Medawar said Christianity will be a central element of the show […]

Homeland security meets home theater (

How about a reality show on all the investigations into the Bush administration missteps? To make it clear, I have no problem with any television program having religious content (why would I? Religion and religious references are pervasive on TV in one form or another. Even if you wanted to avoid them, you couldn’t). What amazes me about this show is how blatant the motivation is. Terrorist fighters as good christian soldiers? Are we going to have Bush in the opening credits telling us we’re on a crusade? (Thanks, Jules for sending this along)

Posted by James at 11:09 AM

March 10, 2004

Shotgun Post

I’m feeling a lot better today, but not 100%. I feel good enough to pass along some interesting links to you.

There. Now I’m spent.

Posted by James at 11:47 AM | Comments (5)

March 9, 2004

Word of the Week

It has nothing particular to do with anything, but this word kept popping into my head: wastrel

Posted by James at 12:54 PM | Comments (1)

Virus from Hell

I don’t have much energy to blog today, but I feel the need to record this remarkable night (remarkably bad). Last night was one of the worst in my life. The moment when I realized I couldn’t help Mattie anymore was definitely the nadir. It was a difficult moment as a parent.

Maggie and Mattie had both succumbed to the effects of a violent (is there any other kind?) throw-up bug by dinner time. My throat was sore, I was warm and dizzy but I figured they had something different so I tried to take care of Katherine and read to Maggie and Mattie between their bouts. We were all huddled near the bathroom.

As the hours went by, I was increasingly dizzy, but still functional. By Katherine’s bedtime (to which she willingly went) Maggie was barely moving. Mattie seemed to have some energy. But at about 10:30PM, Maggie suggested I call the doctor on call for Mattie, who we feared must be close to her limit. (She has a number of upsetting symptoms)

The nurse suggested I wait a half hour and then bring her in if she hadn’t stopped. I waited, and then it became obvious she wasn’t stopping. But she was slowing down. I took a shower, and noticed my dizziness was affecting my balance. By the time I was dressed, I felt awful. I got Mattie dressed, began to get the car ready, and realized I couldn’t go anywhere. It was only a matter of time for me. I lay next to Mattie, wondering if I was even going to be able to check up on her when it got bad. I imagined the drive to Providence, the possibility I wouldn’t be able to be with her in the waiting room as I got sick. I felt useless as the nausea marched on.

At midnight, I called my parents. I probably should have thought twice about exposing them, but that’s how desperate I was. And I knew they would come. I needed lucid adults in the house. I quickly found Matite’s insurance card and wrote a note detailing her meds and giving them permission to seek medical attention in my stead.

When my parents arrived I could barely stand up straight. Mattie had stopped vomiting I left it to them to take her in if she didn’t stop or at least keep an eye on her. Defeated, I crawled upstairs to begin my own odyssey, which I will not detail other that to say it was a long and painful night with little sleep.

My father, now exposed, caught the bug. Mattie got rest and improved under my mother’s care. They left sometime after the sun came up, while I was incapacitated. I remember my Mom covering me with a blanket before I passed out on the floor, riding another wave.

Now, we are all mobile for the most part. I’m feverish and dizzy and still dehydrated. I’ve lost 4 lbs and, like Maggie, my ring comes off very easily.

I thank my parents for being there when I couldn’t help Mattie. And I guess getting them on the job as my last lucid moment counts as doing my duty as a parent. But I still feel lousy (physically and emotionally).

I have to go get some sleep and fluids now

Posted by James at 12:49 PM | Comments (5)

March 8, 2004


I have been laid low by some throat infection. Swallowing is fire. The head is swooning.

So I am going back to bed, and will, perhaps blog more later. I’ll leave you with a few random things, though.

  • Firstly, I’ll be adopting an explicit comment guidelines document. Basically, it will let people know what to do if they don’t want their comments deleted. But even before that, I’m going to get more vigilant in deleting comments. Anonymous comments from people who can’t bother to spell 2 words in a row correct while gracing us with their hateful screed will tend to get deleted. Or used as entertainment.
  • Nextly, check out this poor fellow and his odd request to German welfare officials. (sent along by Patti.)
    • “He wanted them to pay for four trips to the brothel a month, eight porn films a month, plus condoms,” said court spokesman Peter Burgdorf. “He also wanted some sort of appliance for self-gratification to use when watching porn.”
  • Are you waiting for Episode III? How about slaking your Star Wars thirst with some fan-films. You know they’ll be better than Lucas’ offerings, don’t you?
  • Jeff Goldbloom is watching you poop. Some things defy explanation.
  • An indication that all the good books have already been written. All that’s left to talk about is the anus.
  • How many of you use syndication feeds? I’m just trying to get an idea. I’m moving towards some better support of feeds for my weblog (RSS and Atom), and I’m just curious. For those of you hwo don’t know what RSS, Atom or weblog syndication is, you probably wouldn’t care. But if you do want to know, look here.

OK, I’m going back to bed now.

Posted by James at 2:04 PM | Comments (10)

March 7, 2004

Everyone Should Be A Critic

Apparently, some people feel that it’s pretty easy to aid and comfort the enemy. F’rinstance, voting for someone who earned medals in Vietnam is apparently aid and comfort.

I’ve got some comfort for you. How about knowing that America is going to waste a bunch of time waging war against Iraq instead of coming after you? That had to be a comforting thought for at least a few people.

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government … Too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think it will give some comfort to the enemy … If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and it will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur. - Sen. Robert Taft, R-Ohio, December 1941

Seems like a good quote. Found here.

George Dudya Bush is our Warped President.

Posted by James at 6:07 PM

Kennedy on Iraq

Over two centuries ago, John Adams spoke eloquently about the need to let facts and evidence guide actions and policies. He said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” Listen to those words again, and you can hear John Adams speaking to us now about Iraq. “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Tragically, in making the decision to go to war in Iraq, the Bush Administration allowed its wishes, its inclinations and its passions to alter the state of facts and the evidence of the threat we faced from Iraq.

While Steve is surprised to find himself agreeing with Sen. Edward Kennedy, I see another eloquent speech on how the Bush Administration betrayed the American people by using us as a tool to achieve its own ends.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy Delivers Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations (on the Senate’s website)

In the march to war, the President exaggerated the threat anyway. It was not subtle. It was not nuanced. It was pure, unadulterated fear-mongering, based on a devious strategy to convince the American people that Saddam’s ability to provide nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda justified immediate war.

Right on, Senator.

Posted by James at 5:47 PM

March 6, 2004

Permalinks for Comments

The date line on every posted comment is now a permanent link to that comment. That means I can copy the URL for the comment where Bob endorses a fictional character for president and link to it here. or link directly to Chuck’s flattering Ode to Aces Full of Links.

It also means that the “Latest Comments” links in the sidebar will take you directly to the comment in question.

This blog is my first work. I hope you would enjoy it.

Posted by James at 2:05 AM | Comments (6)

Pro-Life Waco

A cookie boycott backfires when a Pro-Life activist group wages war on the local Girl Scouts in Crawford Texas. (Yes, the town with the POTUS’ ranch) - Cookie crumbles: Girl Scout sex furor splits Texas town

The furor was started a few weeks ago by the leader of the anti-abortion group Pro-Life Waco, who sent out e-mails and ran ads on a Christian radio station urging people to boycott Girl Scout cookies because of the “cozy relationship” between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood.

Parents were upset to learn that the local Girl Scout organization had given a “woman of distinction award” last year to a Planned Parenthood executive.

Maggie says that “Where Girls Grow Strong” is a motto of the organization. Apparently some parents had a problem with the girls growing smart.

Really, I have no problem with parents deciding that their daughters shouldn’t be in the scouts. But I think the cookie boycott that this bozo tried to organize is positively villainous.

Some 400 to 700 fifth- through ninth-graders attend the half-day Nobody’s Fool conference in Waco each July. The program never mentions abortion, according to Planned Parenthood. The youngsters receive a book with chapters on homosexuality and masturbation, as well as illustrations of couples having sex, people examining their naked bodies and a boy putting on a condom.

Note that the troops do not send the girls to this conference. In fact, the conference has no substantial connection to the GSA. The conference is attended by children whose parents approve of them attending. So, what these people are, in fact, protesting is that some parents approve of educating their kids about their bodies. Ignorance of your body is an effective tool for growing as a person. Witness:

Some Girl Scout mothers called it soft-core porn.

“It embarrassed me to look at it with my husband,” said parent Shannon Donaldson.

I have a feeling these folks have never seen Our Bodies, Ourselves, What’s Happening To Me and Everyone Poops. Time for a memorable The Family Guy quote.

Peter Griffin: I’m looking for some toilet training books.
Salesman: We have the popular Everybody Poops, or the less popular Nobody Poops But You.
Peter Griffin: Well, you see, we’re catholic…
Salesman: Ah, then you’ll want You’re A Naughty, Naughty Boy, And That’s Concentrated Evil Coming Out The Back of You.

(Note, I have no idea whether the folks in the story are Catholic, but the quote is a classic.)

Posted by James at 12:44 AM | Comments (2)

March 5, 2004

Underworld (Review)

The beginning of Underworld tells practically the whole story of whether you will like this movie or not. It’s dark. It’s brooding. There’s a voiceover about vampire history. Kate Beckinsale is wearing your typical not-quite-BDSM black latex but with a cape. Then, she jumps from her perch high atop a building. When she lands, there is a slight knee bend, and a bounce into her first confident step. It’s slick. It’s dark. It’s unbelievable, but confident.

Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a “Death-dealer”—-a vampire driven to fight in the war against Lycans (werewolves) by her memory of what they did to her family. The war reaches back centuries, as does the leadership of the vampire clans. But in the present day, Selene’s coven is under the control of Kraven (Shane Brolly), a young(ish) hothead who sees her as his future bride. Meanwhile, Lucian (Michael Sheen), a powerful lycan long thought dead by the vampires, leads his people toward his mysterious vision of the future. Enter Michael (Scott Speedman), a human whose blood carries a special trait Lucian needs to fulfill his vision of destiny. He’s also a human that Selene takes a special interest in, in contrast to her complete ambivalence toward Kraven.

When I first heard of this film it was described to me as a verison of “Romeo and Juliet.” But it is hardly that. I seriously doubt the writers were looking at Shakespeare when they came up with this.

With the vamps, the lycans, the latex and the intrigue, you might think this is a hokey film. The plot is very much like that of an over-the-top comic book. It would be completely unwatchable if it weren’t for a few things. Firstly, very good production values. There are some very good special effects in this film. The fight scenes are decent, even though some of the wire work is a little unrealistic-looking. Secondly, some of the acting is surprisingly decent for the material. Kate Beckinsale is fun enough to watch and wears the brooding darkness well, but not particularly memorably. But there are a lot of moments where other members of the cast are allowed to act in non-stereotypical ways, and they pull them off well.

In the end, what you have is an entertaining action/scifi/fantasy film with an opening for a sequel. Go ahead and rent it if all you’re looking for is an action film where the screen is tinted blue most of the time and the intrigue is thick, but slightly predictable. I don’t think people who saw the trailer and got interested will be disappointed.

If they do make a sequel to this, I hope they stray even further from stereotypical plots. The filmmakers had some decent ideas, but what we need is a completely whacked-out vampire/werewolf film. Someone needs to watch some David Lynch or drink a bunch of absinthe and revisit the idea. I’m electing you, Kevin Grevioux and Len Wiseman.

Posted by James at 7:14 PM | Comments (1)

March 4, 2004

ATI Rage 128 Pro Sucks

I finally have my Dell working again, by replacing my Rage 128 Pro with a Leadtek WinFast A360 Ultra TDH card. The full name is LeadTek WinFast A360 NVIDIA GeForce4 FX 5700 Ultra GPU AGP 8X

Don’t you just love the names they give video cards? It’s like some obsessive techie version of Tourette’s syndrome where the manufacturers blurt out little acronyms and numbers.

The important thing is, my computer is functional again. I can look at more than 16 colors!!! So, do I need games to go with this?

Posted by James at 2:15 PM | Comments (10)

Sprouts of Lentil-kind

I got this idea from Julie. You take dried lentils, soak them in water overnight, and then drain them. Rinse and drain them every 4 hours or so (or close to that) and soon they sprout! These are brown lentils.

I don’t know how long the sprouts will get, but we’re looking at 2 days worth of sproutage here (click image to see larger view). Julie was experimenting with raw food preparation (perhaps she’ll post a link to the book she is reading).

You can grow all sorts of different sprouts. Even if you don’t plan on eating them, they’re fun for the kids to watch. The lentil sprouts taste a lot like fresh peas. They get slightly sweeter once they’ve sprouted, and I think they’d be great in a salad.

Posted by James at 1:24 PM | Comments (3)

March 3, 2004

Kerry and Campaign Money

Firstly, I voted for Kucinich last night. After a review of his politics, I seemed to agree with him on a lot. Chuck had sent along an interesting link to a graph of the political compass of each candidate based on statements and voting record. A look at that graph makes clear what can also be seen in the statements of these candidates. They are nearly all pretty authoritative, which irks the hell out of me. Also, they’re right-leaning on the fiscal issues as well. (Look - Edwards shows up as to the right and above Joe Lieberman!)

There doesn’t seem to be much balance there, so I represented my views with a vote for Kucinich in the primary. Be that as it may, Kerry is the clear winner now.

Time to support the nominee, folks. Send money if you can. If you really disagree with the direction Bush is taking the country (Do you need reasons? We got reasons) now is the time to start making yourself heard.

Expect lots of attacks on Kerry which paint him as contradicting himself. It’s clear the early Bush surrogate efforts think they have a winner in plastering Kerry with an image of hypocrisy.

Steve (no Bush supporter, he) posts a bit about Kerry taking campaign money from companies like the ones he complains about. (Steve is a conservative, so we’ll disagree a lot down the road. But we bother agree it’s time to boot Bush)

I’d like to address the issue of Kerry taking money for his campaign. A Democratic candidate is at a huge disadvantage monetarily when up against this incumbent Republican president. The president has the power to focus the news to himself any day he likes. He’s got an immense campaign war chest (I’ve seen figures from 100 to 175 million dollars).

Does this put Kerry above criticism? No, it doesn’t. However, the story I refer to above talks about $370,000 coming from companies that have shipped jobs overseas, a practice Kerry has hammered on the campaign trail.

Bush railed against steroids in his State of the Union address. Is it time to hunt down all of the money he’s getting from people who benefit from the use of steroids (individuals, athletes, teams, media conglomerates)? Should he give all that money back?

If someone can come up with a way to do that, let’s go for it. But I think it’s a waste of time. It reminds me of a previous criticism of Kerry that didn’t fly—his acceptance of special interest money. In one context, he’s the greatest recipient of special interest money among the Democratic candidates. In another context he’s the lest recipient among his peers—the Senate. In my mind, he gets credit for criticizing an entrenched system he doesn’t like and trying to minimize its impact on his candidacy.

You’ll probably hear a good deal of criticism of Kerry from me (especially once he gets into office). But these criticisms make me think that “Massachusetts Liberal” is actually going to be an elevation of the debate.

It’s a long, bumpy road to November, folks.

Posted by James at 6:59 PM | Comments (5)

Biological Advantage in Homosexuality? (aka. Another Homo Post)

Here’s yet another post that will lead my readers to believe I am gay.

I think it’s hilarious. In all the vitriol we’ve gotten against a previously posted gay-marriage-related humor piece, it seems that anti-gay folks immediately assume you’re gay if you’re for equal rights for gay people.

But now, a fun story regarding penguins.

Bruce Bagemihl, author of Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, says homosexual behaviour has been noted in more than 450 species and more often in wild animals than captive ones. The question is: why? Some researchers say it helps a species’ survival. By not producing offspring, homosexuals can help to support relatives’ young. ‘That’s a contribution to the gene pool,’ says Professor Marlene Zuk of University of California, Riverside. (Guardian Unlimited)

Won’t it be hilarious if there really is a biological advantage to having gays in society? I expect this will make a head or two explode as yet one more argument of the bigots falls away.

I continue to be completely amazed at the responses to that “12 Reasons Against Gay Marriage” post. But I’d like to talk a little more about the kind of comments I’m getting here.

I’m going to quote one of the more coherent comments in its entirety, from someone calling herself Rachel:

I thought certain things were not true about what you wrote. I am a single mother of a beautiful and above average two year old boy. I am a full time student to better the lives of my son and I. Although I may be young I am still very much capable of raising a child on my own. I also do not agree with saying straight parents raise straight children as do gay parents raise gay children. Tha is absolutely wrong in saying. I am against gay marriage as it is said in the bible that marriage is between a man and a women.

Taking her at her word (that she’s a single mother, and the rest) I feel sorry for her. But I have to wonder what moved her to comment without reading the post. I can understand not reading the immense list of comments on the post, but…

Right in the post I state that I am not the author, yet she comments as if I am. Secondly, she has mistaken the parody for serious argument.

How can you reason faced with that? Especially across this communications gulf of the internet?

But it was the last thing that finally made me want to address this specific post. She is against gay marriage because of what it says in the Bible. My first, snarky instinct is to say “Well if the Bible told you to jump off a bridge, would you do that?” And, in a way, that question is not snarky, but relevant.

(Putting aside for the moment that the Bible does not tell us that we have to keep other people from having gay marriages, and putting aside that the Bible is a book which only a fraction of the population deem holy, and putting aside for the moment that the Bible does not dictate US law, and putting aside the fact that the Bible says plenty of things like not to eat shrimp…)

The Bible is a book. You may consider it a holy book. That’s fine. But at some point, you need to interpret it. And that means you have to think about it. And that means you have to come to some conclusion about it. Your ability to come to a conclusion in interpreting the Bible has to come from somewhere.

For example, you read “Love thy neighbor.” Now, there are different definitions of love. Maybe this means “Sex up your neighbor.” I don’t think so, but who am I to say? I am me, that’s who. I have to come to a conclusion about this. My conclusion is that, for me, having sex with all of my neighbors would not be a good way to conduct my life. So “love thy neighbor” is going to have to mean something different to me.

Do you see how I reached into some place inside to get that interpretation? Some of us just go straight to that place and skip using a Bible. It is partly for this reason that “the Bible says so” doesn’t fly as an argument for most people. Not for arguments, and especially not for laws.

One other thing on this subject. Use the Bible to try to figure out how you should live your life. Don’t use the Bible to try to figure out and dictate how other people should live theirs. You might want to read the part about removing the plank from your eye instead of concentrating on the speck in someone else’s

Rachel, assuming you’re sincere and return here for some reason, I’m glad to hear you’re educating yourself. Let me recommend that you stick to your faith if it gives you strength, but consider that denying the rights of others because of what your religion says is just about as bad as denying two people to marry because they are not members of your religion.

To conclude this post, I’ll link to this item which appeared on Atrios’ weblog. Here he quotes Cameron, an oft-cited source of anti-gay bigotry. Atrios is perfectly correct when he says it reads as an over the top parody, but a quick look at the comments on my weblog will start to make you realize that so many of these folks are guilty of self-parody. Cameron says:

“Marital sex tends toward the boring end,” he points out. “Generally, it doesn’t deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does” So, Cameron believes, within a few generations homosexuality would be come the dominant form of sexual behavior.

Here is a closer-to-original source of the Cameron quote. I’m not pro or against gay sex. But if gay sex becomes dominant (and I don’t mean that in a BDSM way) won’t that help to stretch out what will undoubtedly be increasingly precious natural resources? And the post comes full circle.

Posted by James at 6:17 PM | Comments (21)

Turn Off

I don’t generally watch random TV, and I think that leaves me somewhat sheltered. I don’t have a TiVo—instead I tape the shows I like so that I can watch them while working out and also avoid the commercials.

But I often get exposed to random things then I turn off the VCR at the end of a workout. The TV comes on and suddenly I’m watching some dreck.

Today that dreck was a few minutes of elimiDATE. I can guess what the show is about from the name. They put one person up with a bunch of prospective dates. And after talking for a while, he starts voting people off the island (to use a reference from another show on which I missed the boat).

I was lucky enough to see a reasonably clean-looking fellow introduce himself to three reasonably attractive women with questionable judgment. After hugging each of them, the guy repeatedly commented on how cute they all were and how he had women in all colors (because they were dressed in a variety of hues). He forgot their names almost immediately after and declared that “he’d learn their names if he liked any of them.” A real gentleman, this fellow.

I didn’t stick around long enough to learn much about the women, because I had already eliminated the lot of them. But one woman took the lead by whipping out an issue of Maxim in which she was featured.

I’m not going to use this to predict the downfall of our society, or anything so dramatic as that. But I’m seriously worried that anyone can watch that show all the way through or, worse, on a regular basis. Could their be anything more depressing? It reminds me of being in the waiting room of a hospital or mechanic’s shop, because these are other places where you invariably encounter daytime television. And we all know nothing good ever happens in those places.

Posted by James at 9:40 AM | Comments (35)

March 2, 2004

Mystery Interface

Okay, there are very low consequences for getting this wrong, but this interface still annoys the hell out of me. See the accompanying picture of a gas pump.

Your morning quiz is, Where do you press this thing to start the pump going?

  1. The big, black sticker that says PUSH (because it stands out so much from the rest and is all in uppercase)
  2. The word Here (because it’s Here)
  3. The word To (for no reason)
  4. The word Start (because it’s button-shaped and that’s were the arrow is pointing)
  5. All of the Above
  6. None of the above

The answer is…

The word Here is the actual button. All the rest is distraction.

Am I crazy or is this a such a bad interface that it isn’t funny? Why not have the white rectangle around the word Here? Would that be so hard? And it’s clear that there wasn’t always a sticker there with the word PUSH on it, but did they have to go and make a bad interface worse?

Please feel free to attack or defend this amazing accomplishment in the comments. Really, I want to know if any of you have any idea what these people were thinking.

Posted by James at 2:37 AM | Comments (21)

March 1, 2004

Oscar Pool Results

Here’s a little table summarizing how everyone did:

NamePctrActrActrssDrctrAnimAdptd ScrpOrgnl ScrpSpp ActrSpp ActrssSPFXMusicTotal
James BurkeXXXXX XXXX 9
Ryan R.    X XX XX5
Brian W.XXXXX  XXX 8
Sara D.  XXX X  X 5
Julie L.XX XXXX X 7

Those are all the submissions which adhered to the stated guidelines.

Looks like Ariane J. is the winner, with every category correct! Everyone got the SPFX category correct, and the Best Animated Feature. Overall, the voting was very good. I’ve included all the votes in the extended portion of this entry for those of you who would like to check the votes submitted (last names have been excised, of course).

Ariane J.: If you’d like your prize, email me a shipping address and your choice of prize. Confirm your last name in the email so I know it’s you.

Thanks for playing, everyone. It was fun!

James Burke’s 2004 Oscar Pool Entry
Best Picture: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actor: Sean Penn for Mystic River
Visual Effects: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actress: Charlize Theron for Monster
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins for Mystic River
Best Supporting Actress: Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain
Best Director: Peter Jackson for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Original Score: Cold Mountain by Gabriel Yared
Best Original Screenplay: Lost in Translation
Best Adapted Screenplay: Mystic River

Ryan R.’s 2004 Oscar Pool Entry
Best Picture: Mystic River
Best Actor: Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Visual Effects: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actress: Naomi Watts for 21 Grams
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins for Mystic River
Best Supporting Actress: Marcia Gay Harden for Mystic River
Best Director: Clint Eastwood for Mystic River
Original Score: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by Howard Shore
Best Original Screenplay: Lost in Translation
Best Adapted Screenplay: Mystic River

Bob K.’s 2004 Oscar Pool Entry
Best Picture: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actor: Sean Penn for Mystic River
Visual Effects: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actress: Charlize Theron for Monster
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo
Best Supporting Actor: Djimon Hounsou for In America
Best Supporting Actress: Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain
Best Director: Peter Jackson for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Original Score: Cold Mountain by Gabriel Yared
Best Original Screenplay: In America
Best Adapted Screenplay: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Subject: Brian W’s 2004 Oscar Pool Entry
Best Picture: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actor: Sean Penn for Mystic River
Visual Effects: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actress: Charlize Theron for Monster
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins for Mystic River
Best Supporting Actress: Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain
Best Director: Peter Jackson for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Original Score: Big Fish by Danny Elfman
Best Original Screenplay: In America
Best Adapted Screenplay: American Splendor

Subject: Sara D.’s 2004 Oscar Pool Entry
Best Picture: Mystic River
Best Actor: Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Visual Effects: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actress: Charlize Theron for Monster
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo
Best Supporting Actor: Benicio Del Toro for 21 Grams
Best Supporting Actress: Marcia Gay Harden for Mystic River
Best Director: Peter Jackson for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Original Score: Big Fish by Danny Elfman
Best Original Screenplay: Lost in Translation
Best Adapted Screenplay: American Splendor

Subject: Ariane J’s 2004 Oscar Pool Entry
Best Picture: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actor: Sean Penn for Mystic River
Visual Effects: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actress: Charlize Theron for Monster
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins for Mystic River
Best Supporting Actress: Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain
Best Director: Peter Jackson for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Original Score: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by Howard Shore
Best Original Screenplay: Lost in Translation
Best Adapted Screenplay: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Julie L’s 2004 Oscar Pool Entry:
Best Picture: Seabiscuit
Best Actor: Sean Penn for Mystic River
Visual Effects: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actress: Charlize Theron for Monster
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins for Mystic River
Best Supporting Actress: Holly Hunter for Thirteen
Best Director: Clint Eastwood for Mystic River
Original Score: Finding Nemo by Thomas Newman
Best Original Screenplay: Lost in Translation
Best Adapted Screenplay: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Mike L.’s 2004 Oscar Pool Entry:
Best Picture: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actor: Bill Murray for Lost in Translation
Visual Effects: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actress: Charlize Theron for Monster
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins for Mystic River
Best Supporting Actress: Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain
Best Director: Peter Jackson for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Original Score: Big Fish by Danny Elfman
Best Original Screenplay: Lost in Translation
Best Adapted Screenplay: Mystic River

Posted by James at 1:56 PM

Post Oscar Awards

Posted by James at 1:24 AM | Comments (2)