Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oh Hell Yeah!

I don't care what the tabloids say about Christian Bale. I love him. And I know nothing about "Watchmen," but I'm going to find out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Apollo Astronaut Says Aliens are Real... and Government Knows it.

I love this story for so many reasons. Personally, I've always believed aliens exist. I have no evidence, just a belief that the universe is too big to only contain us. So you can imagine my delight upon hearing that an American astronaut says yes, there are aliens. I do realize that after the Lisa Nowak diaper incident, astronauts are not impeachable sources of information. But still, this is a fun story. I found an interview with Edgar Mitchell, the astronaut who created all the hubbub with his claims of aliens landing on Earth, on The Discovery Channel Online and thought I'd post it here so you can see for yourselves what Edgar has to say. Do you think this is credible information? Or just an old man who might be coming down with Alzheimer's? Apollo Astronaut Chats About UFO, Alien Belief by Irene Klotz Edgar Mitchell, an Apollo 14 astronaut and moonwalker, says his belief in UFOs and aliens being real is nothing new -- contrary to what tabloid reports might imply. Credit: NASA Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell returned from his mission to the moon a changed man. He has spent the last 35 years trying to use the tools of science to figure out what happened. Along the way, he says that people knowledgeable about an alleged crash of an alien spaceship in Roswell, N.M., shared the information with him. He's been speaking out ever since, most recently on a radio talk show that tripped off an unexpected wave of media attention. In a telephone interview with Irene Klotz, Mitchell sets the record straight -- as he sees it. Irene Klotz: Hi Dr. Mitchell Edgar Mitchell: Just a minute ... I'm sorry. My dog jumped in my lap and knocked over my coffee cup. It's OK. Go ahead. IK: What's your dog's name? EM: Oh, that's Cutie (Q.T.?) IK: Cutie? EM: Yup, I've got two of them and right now they're telling me that it's their suppertime and I must come in and fix their supper ... at least that's what they want. IK: Well first of all thanks very much for making a little time. I wanted to ask you if there was anything about the radio interview you did that was different from what you've said in the past. EM: No, there's nothing different. Several of (the reports of the interview) that I've seen come around have some flaws in them. Some of the reports pushed it or spun it incorrectly. NASA had nothing to do with anything I've done. I wasn't briefed by NASA. There haven't been any sightings as a result of my flight service there, so if that part of it comes out on anything you've seen it is just totally wrong. IK: Yes, I did want to clarify that. EM: My major knowledge comes from what I call the old-timers, people who were at Roswell and subsequent who wanted to clear the things up and tell somebody credible even though they were under severe threats and things -- this was back in the Roswell days. Having gone to the moon and being a local citizen out in the Roswell area some of them thought I would be a safe choice to tell their story to, which they did. Even though the government put real clamps on everybody, it got out anyhow. Subsequent to that, I did take my story to the Pentagon -- not NASA, but the Pentagon -- and asked for a meeting with the Intelligence Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and got it. And told them my story and what I know and eventually had that confirmed by the admiral that I spoke with, that indeed what I was saying was true. IK: You mean what had been told to you was true? EM: Yup, in other words. There was a UFO crash. There was an alien spacecraft. This gentleman tried his damndest to get me in and like so many others in the administration over the last 60 years, since JFK's time, was unable to. He was told 'Admiral, you don't have a need to know, and therefore go get lost,' essentially. IK: Have you ever come out and said who this person was who briefed you? EM: No, I have not. IK: Would you at some point? EM: No, it is out and around but I don't feel like I have the liberty to do that. IK: When did you have your meeting at the Pentagon? EM: It was in the late '90s in Washington when I was there working with The Disclosure Project, trying to get all those opened up with another Naval officer by the name of Will Miller and Steven Greer, who you probably heard of. Steven and I don't really work on this anymore together, but we did at that point and getting to the Pentagon and seeing what we could do there to try to get this opened up. IK: Why do you think the government hasn't acknowledged that there is life outside of Earth? I thought that was sort of the point of NASA. EM: Well most people in government don't know. The government is highly compartmentalized. You could work next door to somebody for 30 years not knowing what they're doing in certain areas. The whole point of all of this ... goes back to World War II. This Roswell incident took place right at the aftermath of World War II when the U.S. Army Air Corps was split off and became the Air Force and the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), which was the intelligence service of World War II, was disbanded and eventually became the CIA. At that point the Cold War was just starting to move under way and we were at odds with the Soviets. The Air Force was brand new and supposedly in control of the skies and didn't know what they were doing, and the CIA didn't know what they were doing, so Pres. Truman was in a big problem here: Here people were telling him there were aliens around and nobody knew if they were hostile or what they were and what was he going to do about it? So he formed a committee, a very high-level military and academic and intelligent people -- politically powerful people -- and said 'You guys work on this.' And that was called ... the MAJIC 12. And they did pass a National Security Act, or so I'm told, under highly classified auspices, that gave this committee virtually unlimited power to deal with this issue, which they have done for the last 60 years, slowly excluding everybody -- including presidents. You may remember that Pres. Clinton tried to send (Webster) Hubbell to find out about this at Wright Patterson. He got rejected. And Barry Goldwater, back in the '60s when he was getting ready to run for the presidency and who was a brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve tried to get information about it. He got rejected. And I'm told that Jerry Ford tried to do some finding out and he got rejected. Jimmy Carter announced his observation of UFOs, but that never went anywhere so obviously he made no progress. Only in recent years has the public interest become acute enough and enough stories leaked out so that people are starting to believe that it's all real. And the fact of the matter is, it is. They're still around and there's a lot of stuff going on. Are you aware of the so-called Phoenix Lights Incident? That wasn't our stuff. IK: I'm sorry. Can you say that again? EM: Lights. Just a few years ago. Three humongous craft flew over Phoenix, very slowly in the middle of the night that clearly were not -- I happened to be on the phone with people out there when that happened and have had pictures of it -- clearly those were not, to those of us who know aviation and spacecraft, clearly those were not local stuff, home-grown stuff. IK: So you're saying the incidences are becoming more prevalent among the general public? People are having their own sightings? EM: Just several weeks ago, this so-called incident at Stephenville, in Stephenville, Texas. Another one. And naturally a lot of discounting and unfortunately the press, the giggle factor got up and the press tended to ignore it, but the fact of the matter is this is the real stuff we're dealing with. We're not alone in the universe. And it has nothing to do with NASA. As far as I know it has to do with what's going on and has been going on for a long time. IK: As a man of science and engineering, how did you make this leap from doing what you needed to do to be an astronaut to what you're doing today? EM: Because I was told by people who were utterly sworn to secrecy under severe penalty if they talked and because I'd been to the moon, because I was a local resident of Roswell when the so-called Roswell incident took place, some of them thought I was a safe person to tell before they passed on so that the knowledge didn't die. There are others like me, people out here who have done an enormous amount of investigation who have seen through the facade and seen through the cover-up and can talk chapter and verse, better than I can. We know it's real. IK: Can you describe what changed you after you were in space? How did that happen? EM: Well I've got a research foundation that has been working on that problem for 37 years. I was coming back from the moon after completing a successful mission on the moon. My job was being responsible for the lunar spacecraft for the lunar surface activities. So on the way home, my successful job had been mostly completed and we were just coming home. We still had experiments and work to do, but the big stuff was done. We were orientated such and rotating in order to keep the thermal balance of the spacecraft so that every two minutes you could see the Earth, the moon, the sun and a 360-degree panorama of the heavens came through the window every two minutes. That's powerful stuff, particularly since it's space. Without the atmosphere to block, the stars don't twinkle, and there's 10 times as many as you could possibly see on Earth because of the lack of interference and it's much closer to what you could see through the Hubble Telescope these days, with those pictures and I hope you've looked at some of those: it's overwhelming -- and I realized as that happened, because I do have a PhD from MIT and I studied astronomy at Harvard and MIT and knew that molecules of matter in my body and in the spacecraft and in my partners' bodies were made in some ancient generation of stars. That's where matter is created. Suddenly I realized that the molecules in my body were created in an ancient generation of stars and suddenly that became personal and visceral, not intellectual and I had never had this experience. It was accompanied by bliss, an ecstasy I had never experienced. Later -- and I'm making this long story short -- with some discovery and some help from scientists at Rice University in Houston, I discovered in ancient transcripts that this type of experience -- a transformational, transcendental experience where you see things as you perceive them but experience them viscerally and emotionally as one, as a part of it -- is called samadhi. In doing more research, I found that it has taken place in every culture on Earth. The political and cultural expression of that turns out to be religion. The experience is the same -- a heady, overwhelming experience. But when it gets politicized, put into the culture, those things get lost on the people who had the experience and it becomes something else. So that's what it was: a deep, deep cultural experience that is in the culture of our civilization in hundreds of places. IK: Is that what the Noetic Institute is for? To bring this consciousness ... EM: I'm trying to use the tools of science to understand precisely these types of knowledge. IK: Wow, that's quite a calling. EM: That's exactly what I've spent the last 35 years doing. IK: What's the tie-in between this pursuit and your experiences with understanding that there are other life forms that have come to Earth? EM: Well it's just an extension of the cosmology of what's this whole universe about and what are we about and coming to the conclusion that we are not alone. That's some of the most important knowledge that we could discover.

In Keeping With My Dark Knight Obsession....

I found some behind-the-scene videos about "The Dark Knight." I haven't had a chance to watch them all yet, but knowing me, I'll kill a few minutes (hours) watching them. You can find the videos HERE if you're a Dark Knight junkie, like me. And if you're really in the mood for some more Dark Knight, go HERE for a Dark Knight computer game. It'll probably be too simple for all you gamers out there, but it's fun for the kids since it's very easy to play (as my kids will tell you since they refuse to give the computer back to me after I showed them the game....)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What Bush and Batman Have in Common

I was sent an email that linked to this op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal. Very interesting stuff. Personally, I dislike getting into politics on my blog. I'll admit it straight up, I'm more conservative than a lot of bloggers I know, so I try to stay away from the arguments. I'm not going to change your ideology and you're not going to change mine. So please, agree to respectfully disagree before flaming someone. That said, I kind of feel compelled to put this article up. It's very rare to see the Bush Administration portrayed in a positive light and to see an opinion piece that not only has good things to say about our current President, but compares Bush to Batman, leaves me feeling as if I woke up in Bizarro world. I don't know if the author of the article is brave or masochistic. I'll let you be the judge. What Bush and Batman Have in Common By ANDREW KLAVAN July 25, 2008; Page A15 A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . . Oh, wait a minute. That's not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a "W." There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past. And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society -- in which people sometimes make the wrong choices -- and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell. "The Dark Knight," then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year's "300," "The Dark Knight" is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans. Conversely, time after time, left-wing films about the war on terror -- films like "In The Valley of Elah," "Rendition" and "Redacted" -- which preach moral equivalence and advocate surrender, that disrespect the military and their mission, that seem unable to distinguish the difference between America and Islamo-fascism, have bombed more spectacularly than Operation Shock and Awe. Why is it then that left-wingers feel free to make their films direct and realistic, whereas Hollywood conservatives have to put on a mask in order to speak what they know to be the truth? Why is it, indeed, that the conservative values that power our defense -- values like morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right -- only appear in fantasy or comic-inspired films like "300," "Lord of the Rings," "Narnia," "Spiderman 3" and now "The Dark Knight"? The moment filmmakers take on the problem of Islamic terrorism in realistic films, suddenly those values vanish. The good guys become indistinguishable from the bad guys, and we end up denigrating the very heroes who defend us. Why should this be? The answers to these questions seem to me to be embedded in the story of "The Dark Knight" itself: Doing what's right is hard, and speaking the truth is dangerous. Many have been abhorred for it, some killed, one crucified. Leftists frequently complain that right-wing morality is simplistic. Morality is relative, they say; nuanced, complex. They're wrong, of course, even on their own terms. Left and right, all Americans know that freedom is better than slavery, that love is better than hate, kindness better than cruelty, tolerance better than bigotry. We don't always know how we know these things, and yet mysteriously we know them nonetheless. The true complexity arises when we must defend these values in a world that does not universally embrace them -- when we reach the place where we must be intolerant in order to defend tolerance, or unkind in order to defend kindness, or hateful in order to defend what we love. When heroes arise who take those difficult duties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve. As Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon says of the hated and hunted Batman, "He has to run away -- because we have to chase him." That's real moral complexity. And when our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes men must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; and that while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be heroes, true heroes often must slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised -- then and only then will we be able to pay President Bush his due and make good and true films about the war on terror. Perhaps that's when Hollywood conservatives will be able to take off their masks and speak plainly in the light of day. Mr. Klavan has won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. His new novel, "Empire of Lies" (An Otto Penzler Book, Harcourt), is about an ordinary man confronting the war on terror.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Quick! P-Dub is giving away $500!

Enter at Pioneer Woman to win a $500 American Express gift certificate -- but you gotta enter soon. She's ending the contest by 12:00 noon Pacific time tomorrow. I want to win. But I'm always happy to get good karma points by letting other people know.......

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Does liking sci-fi mean I'm immature?

I already know I'm a child, that's not even a debatable point. But I wonder if my sci-fi lovin' tendencies have anything to do with it.

For example, I love Sky High. I don't know how many of you have seen it, but gosh darn it, it's the best. It kind of looks like a teenage-angst movie, but I love it enough that whenever it's on T.V. I must watch it. Kind of how my husband is with Adam Sandler movies. If you haven't seen it, it's about a school for kids with super powers who're divided up into groups of "heroes" and "sidekicks," and then taught to use their powers. Okay, that's a simplistic description, but I'm not doing a review here, I'm explaining that even though I'm 38, I still watch movies that feature teenagers-- at least ones that have a sci-fi theme. Is that wrong?

And my obsession with "The Dark Knight" only makes me question my maturity level a little more. It is a great movie-- very few people dispute that. But how many grown women do you suppose want to hunt down graphic novels about Batman after seeing the movie? Probably not many. How many grown women do you suppose went and saw "Hellboy 2" by themselves? I know I'm the only one who would raise their hand in our social circle.

I don't mind being a little childish-- most of the time. But I have to admit, I get a lot of strange looks if I mention my blog. I don't know if it's because I have a blog or it's theme though... I'm constantly surprised by how many people think it's odd that I have a blog in the first place. Sadly, I've learned not to bring it up in conversation because of the strange looks people give me.
But back to the sci-fi thing. After I went and saw "Hellboy" by myself, my husband thought that was quite the story to tell people. I guess he literally walked around telling co-workers about it because he thought it was so funny. Imagine what he'd do if I finally got a chance to go to a convention.

I knew when I was in high school that I was a little different than a lot of the other girls. I was lucky enough not to be an outcast, I blend in well. But none of my girl-friends had the slightest interest in sci-fi books or action packed movies. All they wanted to do was go see movies like "Mama Mia," (shudder). I've even noticed that some of my blog friends have drifted away from here because they don't really like sci-fi, they were just being polite by being good blog-buddies. And I appreciate that, I don't really get into the mommy blogs myself most of the time, so we're even.

But I wonder, just a tiny bit, if I seem a little odd to the other mommies. If I'm a little out-of-synch because I go see "Hellboy" by myself and have no real interest in shopping for designer purses. Is that what grown-ups are supposed to do? Shop for expensive purses?

I hope not.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Psychological Depth of a Bat-Villain

**Note-- I will NOT have Dark Knight spoilers in this post***

Okay, it's official. I am obsessed with "The Dark Knight." I've been trying to think of a new post to put up and I keep going back to TDK. I think the reason the movie is sticking with me is because the characters have such great psychological depth to them. After I saw the movie I found myself wanting to know more about the Joker and Two Face. We already know Batman's back-story but I don't know as much about what makes a Bat-villain tick.

And that's what's so great about the Batman saga. It's more than a comic book, more than a graphic novel and much more than a Hollywood blockbuster. It's the human psyche printed out in graphic-novel form. All the villains represent psychological archetypes that we see in real life; the psychopath (the Joker); the narcissist (the Riddler); the split personality (Two-Face); and the sadist (the Scarecrow). I'm not a psychologist, so I'm not qualified to say whether or not the psychological assessments of the Bat-villains I've listed here are accurate. In fact, I totally stole the diagnosis' from The History Channel. That's right, they had a great special on The Psychology of the Dark Knight. I only caught about half of it, so I have it scheduled on my Tivo for the next showing on Saturday.

But don't you love that The History Channel has a special on the psychology of Batman? I think it's great. I didn't take notes or anything, so I have to kind of paraphrase what I recall from the show. What they did was have a group of psychologists actually analyze Batman and the various villains from the graphic novels and discuss why these characters are so fascinating to us and how they relate to real people who terrify us; like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy.

Because I didn't catch the whole show I missed some of what they had to say about the Joker, which is the main reason I have to catch the whole thing. Before watching TDK I always had the Jack Nicholson version of the Joker in my head. I mentioned in my previous post about TDK that Nicholson's portrayal was more like the story we had seen in graphic novels in which the Joker is disfigured by a fall into a vat of chemicals. What I don't recall about Nicholson's Joker is the complete craziness that Heath Ledger brought to the character. So which portrayal is more true to the character? From what I've been able to glean from the net, and what I saw on The History Channel, is that Ledger was closer to what the original creators of Batman had in mind. According to Wikipedia (accuracy not guaranteed), the Joker first appeared in 1940 and was a mass murderer. But during the 50's and 60's, due to censorship, was turned into a far less menacing character. It wasn't until the 70's and 80's that the Joker was brought back to his sociopathic roots.

The Joker was kind of sidelined during the 50's and 60's when the character lost some of his edge. In fact, he almost disappeared. But I'm glad he came roaring back the way he did. I've been so fascinated by Ledger's performance in TDK that I've been wanting to go hunt down some graphic novels that show the story between Batman and the Joker. Why? I'm not sure. I think it's because the Joker is so inexplicable. You can label him a psychopath or a sociopath, but does that make him any more understandable? One of the psychologists interviewed for The History Channel special said (paraphrasing here) you don't know if the Joker would shoot you or give you a thousand dollar bill. He'd probably shoot you, but you don't really know... And that's what makes him such a great villain. I mean, he's terrifying.

But why is the Joker crazy? That's kind of the ultimate comic-book enigma. According to Wikipedia one comic book says one thing: As he says in The Killing Joke: "Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another... if I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!" While another claims he was an engineer at a chemical plant whose wife and child are kidnapped and killed to force him into committing a crime. But the thing is, there are several different versions of what happened to make the Joker into the madman he is and chances are, we'll never have a definitive explanation.

And then you have a character like Two-Face. I've been scanning the net to see what I can find out about Harvey Dent, and he's quite a bit more developed than the Joker as far as his history is concerned. One rumor I've run into is that the next Batman movie is going to focus more heavily on Two-Face and I kind of hope that is the case. I think TDK did a pretty good job of laying down the foundation for further development of Two-Face's character, but I don't think the depths of his psyche have even begun to show.

One thing that I really find intriguing about what I've seen on the net as far as Two-Face is concerned is how often his character has been compared to Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men. If you haven't seen No Country-- and I won't spoil it for you--, the villain in that movie is fond of flipping a coin to make decisions. I'm surprised at how many people have been accusing the director of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan, of ripping off that idea from No Country for Old Men. I mean, doesn't anyone know their comic book characters anymore? But I suppose the randomness of the coin-toss sticks in people minds. As well it should. Would you like your life and death decisions left to the toss of a coin?

But why does Two-Face flip a coin? I do remember Tommy Lee Jones' portrayal of Two-Face 1995. His Two-Face would flip a coin to decide the fate of his victims (kill or don't kill), but if he didn't like what the coin toss said, he'd keep flipping until he got his desired result. But what I've been able to pick up, both from The History Channel and the net, is that Two-Face is a split personality and he is incapable of making a decision without a coin toss. The radical disfigurement of his face split Harvey Dent's personality in two (good and bad) and he has to flip a coin when faced with a decision because he isn't capable of reconciling his two sides. The old comic books apparently also go into detail about an abusive childhood, bi-polar disorder and a latent split personality. Pretty detailed stuff huh?

Why is any of this important? Why do we care what the motivations of a comic book character are?

I can't answer that for anyone but myself. But I think it's because we can relate to this characters in a strange way. They dress up in crazy costumes and act totally bizarre but they're not that unlike villains who have really existed. When we look into the motivations of people like Adolf Hitler, we want to know what motivates a man to such levels of depravity. Did he do what he did because he wasn't accepted into art school? Was he beaten as a child? We want to know these things because we hope that it isn't random circumstance that creates these monsters. We hope that by being good parents, and not beating our children, we won't raise little psychopaths.

And I think that's why The Dark Knight is still rattling around in my brain a couple of days after I saw it. Somehow, in two-and-a-half -hours, Christopher Nolan caught just enough of the essence of what the creators of Batman had in mind for the Joker and Two-Face to get me thinking about what makes a Bat-villain, or any villain for that matter.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cool. I'm a Badass

Your result for The What Middle Earth race do you belong to Test...


You scored 0% Size & Strength, 82% Morality, 41% Aggression, and 88% Intelligence.

Congratulations, you're one of the Dunedain. You scored high on size & strength, high on morality, low on aggression and high on intelligence. The Dunedain are all that remains of the once great line of men from Numenor. Described as tall, with dark hair and grey eyes, the Dunedain are much greater in stature and spirit than common men. Those of high rank are possessed of enhanced wisdom and occasional prophecy, in addition to just being bigger and stronger. Aragorn himself was described as being 6'6" and was one of only three warriors to come out of the Battle of Pelennor Fields completely unscathed. (Incidentally, only one of the three was not Dunedain). He was also able wrest control of the Palantir from Sauron using just the force of his will. Summary: Dunedain = Bad Ass.

FYI, your polar opposite is the Orc. You know, those nasty little critters you've been beating the living hell out of since you were three. Yeah, those.

Take The What Middle Earth race do you belong to Test at HelloQuizzy

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight

This post marks my 500th post on this site, and I gotta tell you, I can't think of a better topic.

I have just seen what I am sure will go down as the best comic book movie ever. In fact, The Dark Knight will probably become an iconic film along the lines of Star Wars.

It's not just the audience reaction that allows me to say this movie will have incredible staying power-- though the response has been overwhelmingly positive. No. I'd say it's the vision of director Christopher Nolan and the performance by Heath Ledger that will make The Dark Knight linger in our minds well beyond the closing credits.

Let me just start by saying, if you thought Batman Begins was a dark movie, you ain't seen nothin' yet. We've heard all along that Heath Ledger's Joker was menacing and disturbed, and the fact that Ledger's death has been rumored to have been linked to his emotional state after playing the role only strengthened that impression. I was still blown away by Ledger's ability to portray the Joker's sociopathic nature.

The story picks up not long after the end of Batman Begins. I really don't want to offer too many spoilers, but let's just say there hasn't been enough time to build a bat-cave yet. There has been time, however, for Batman to become a real presence in Gotham City. He has brought a bit of hope to the beleaguered city but also galvanized the Joker into bold action. He is both hailed as a hero and derided as a vigilante. Because Batman has brought a flicker of hope to Gotham, the city is all too ready when the idealistic, and tough, District Attorney Harvey Dent comes to town as Gotham's White Knight. Aaron Eckhart's performance deserves mention because he does a fabulous job of capturing the optimism of Harvey Dent as well as his descent into madness as Two-Face. Dent, in many ways, is the linchpin of the story between Batman and the Joker. Like Many people in Gotham, Bruce Wayne has become a true believer in Dent, despite the fact that Dent is romantically involved with Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Wayne, believing that Gotham needs a hero they can see, supports Dent strongly and harbors a hope that Dent will be successful enough to see that Gotham won't need Batman anymore. But Wayne's hope turns out to be naive in the face of the Joker, whose main motivation seems to be chaos.

There isn't really any back-story to the Joker despite the fact that so much of the movie is given to his character. I mostly know the version of the story that claims the Joker fell into a vat of chemicals, leaving him scarred, white faced and with a permanent grin. But Nolan's Joker is a scarred psychopath who paints his face with the trademark red grin. He leers, licks his lips and walks with a hunched, stilted gait and offers more than one explanation for his maimed face; each more disturbing than the last. There are surprising moments of black humor and Ledger captures the hysterical laugh of the Joker with a spine tingling eeriness and an unpredictability that is chilling. This Joker isn't motivated by money but rather the urge to see other men give in to their basest instincts--especially Batman. He terrorizes the city of Gotham beyond what you would believe one man could be capable of doing. He's a man who would go laughing to his death just for the perversity of it. Nolan also increases the tenseness of the scenes featuring the Joker by sometimes taking out the music and all you hear is a sort of low-pitched buzz. Very effective.

The relationship between Batman and the Joker is a long one through comic book history, but sadly it's likely to be all too short in this movie franchise. Ledger nailed the character so well that it would be a travesty to attempt to put anyone in the role in the future. What could have been a melancholy experience for me was saved by the fact that I didn't see Heath Ledger while I was watching the film; only the Joker. There was a momentary sadness when, in one scene, the Joker says to Batman, "I could see us doing this forever." If only that were true.

Everyone has been talking about Ledger. There's has been blog buzz about an Academy Award nomination, though I don't know if that is more than wishful thinking. But the fact remains, The Dark Knight is Ledger's movie. I've said it before, but I think it bears repeating, that the best thing Nolan did for the Batman franchise was to hire a real actor in Christian Bale to portray Batman. He made the same wise decision when he hired Ledger.

If Christian Bale wasn't such a class act I'd feel sorry for him that Ledger's performance has been getting all the attention for this film. I have seen countless interviews and in each one Bale is asked to comment on Ledger's death, but it never seems to bother him. If you have seen any of Bale's other films, like 3:10 to Yuma or The Prestige, you'd know that Bale doesn't mind leaving the flashier performances to his fellow actors. He is known as a man who dedicates himself to the role and not to being the bigger name on the marquee. The Dark Knight is no different.

There really isn't anything I can find to say that is bad about this movie. There have been a few people who have tried, maybe one or two for the sake of notoriety. I even saw one review that claimed we should be ashamed of ourselves for gushing over this movie when people are still dying in Iraq. Worst segue ever. But I think Nolan hit all the right notes with this one. I liked Maggie Gyllenhaal in the role of Rachel Dawes because I think the storyline demanded a level of maturity that Katie Holmes didn't bring to the role. As always, Michael Cain, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman were solid and believable.

But like the movie poster above shows, the triad of Batman, the Joker and Harvey Dent are what this movie is built upon and it's a heck of a solid foundation. The movie is a dark, violent, tense ride of a PG-13 movie and I can't recommend it enough.

Friday, July 18, 2008

10 Years......

Today is my 10-year wedding anniversary. Somehow my husband and I have managed to beat the 50% (give or take) divorce rate and hit 10 years.

You want to know why?

Because my husband understands that I don't want to go out of town for my anniversary or do anything that might make it difficult to catch a showing of "The Dark Knight" this weekend.

I got tickets for Saturday morning. That was the earliest we could get babysitting.

I'm so lucky I have a man that understands me.

I can't wait to see "The Dark Knight." Having the release date on my 10-year anniversary must be a sign that I cannot miss this film.

Yeah. That's it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Free Book Goodness

I just got the heads up that there is a giveaway at MentatJack (a new blog discovery for me...) for 2 sets of T.A. Pratt's Marla Mason series (Blood Engines and Poison Sleep) I haven't read either one of these but I've heard good things about them. Be sure to head on over and enter. The Book Swede has also got a contest going on. He's giving away three signed copies of The Tower of Shadows by Drew Bowling. If you haven't already, be sure to head over to Sci-Fi Chick and enter to win a copy of Dragonforge by James Maxey. She's picking a winner for that tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

**Updated**(Joss Whedon's) Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog Act I

**If anyone tried, but couldn't watch this, I replaced the video. The old one was taken down, so I'm not sure how long this will stay up. The sound tracking is off too. But since I still haven't been able to view this on the official site-- it's never working, this will have to do. ** This is Joss Whedon's new baby. I had a teaser trailer up, but finally found the first installment on Youtube so you can watch it here and see what you think.

Monday, July 14, 2008


There's a site that's been around for awhile called Superdickery and it is one of the funniest sites I have ever been to. If you haven't been there before, you should check it out. It's basically dedicated to pointing out all the times that Superman is a total dick-- though they have branched out into pointing out the absurdities of any and all comic books.

Here's a few examples (the captions are theirs):

Damn, that's cold.

You know, if you're going to step out on your woman becauses he's inexplicably turned into an old woman, seems like the classy thing to do would be to not call attention to it...

I love this. Superboy would rather be pimping outhis ho there than save some little kid falling off a building.

Is this funny stuff or what? Go check out their site for more examples of Superdickery. If you're like me, you'll lose an hour or two.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I didn't expect to see Hellboy II in the movie theatre because no one I know is as into comic book movies as much as I am. I can (and will) drag my husband to see movies like The Dark Knight but I can't seem to get him into the spirit of Hellboy.

But as I was watching the original Hellboy the other day I realized I needed to see Hellboy II on the big screen because you need a venue that large to appreciate the work of director Guillermo del Toro-- anyone who has seen Pan's Labyrinth will know exactly what I am talking about. So I did something I never do-- I went to the movie by myself.

Was it worth it? I'd say definitely.

Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is a creation of Dark Horse comics writer Mike Mignola. He is a demon who fights for the U.S. government (The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense or BERD) to protect America from any kind of supernatural danger. Hellboy was discovered as a child after he was brought through a dimensional portal and raised by an adopted father, Professor Bruttenholm (John Hurt). Hellboy longs to fit in, and tries to hide the fact with a gruff nature, but with his bright red skin, horns and tail, he is forever an outsider-- despite filing down his horns to look more human.

In this second installment (in what I hope is a continuing series) Hellboy is confronted with an enemy who is also an outcast. Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), the Elf Prince of the Underworld, seeks to raise The Golden Army and destroy the human race for what he believes is a broken truce between races. There are several moments between Nuada and Hellboy in which you can almost sense an understanding between the two-- they both know what it is like to be different and alone-- and Nuada is a great cinematic villain in my opinion. The fight scenes are also as beautiful as they are deadly and Goss performs them exceptionally well.

Hellboy II brings back most of the characters we saw in the first movie: Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) as Hellboy's pyrokinetic girlfriend; Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) an aquatic empath who also works for BERD; and Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) as Hellboy's obnoxious and officious boss. Hellboy and Liz's relationship is expanded upon, though not dwelled upon too much in this movie. Abe gets his own love interest this time out and Manning is still trying to get Hellboy to behave--with no luck. All of the film's humor comes from this core cast-- with the addition of Johann Krauss (Seth MacFarlane), a German psychic brought in to try to help control Hellboy. I had several laugh-out-loud moments when the movie focused on this group.

But like any Guillermo del Toro film, the real star of the movie is the visual effects. They are, in a word, stunning. Like the original Star Wars films, del Toro features a lot of unusual creatures; from trolls, goblins, some pretty crazy tooth fairies to the Angel of Death. What I appreciated was that every creature was given amazing detail. If you saw the original Hellboy, you'll know from just seeing the characters of Hellboy and Abe the quality to expect from a del Toro creation. Multiply that by 10 (at least) and you'll have an idea of what to expect here.

As I was watching the movie I couldn't help but think that this was what George Lucas was trying to achieve with his final Star Wars trilogy. Hellboy II has all the special effects you could want from a sci-fi film but still manages to keep its heart. I have read some criticism that Hellboy II doesn't have as much character development as it should but I don't think I agree with that. It is a comic book movie and as such the comic book aspects have to be emphasized, but I don't think the characters suffered for it. I think del Toro did a fine job of weaving the plot among the action and the special effects.

At the end of the day though, I suppose you have to love comic book movies to love Hellboy as much as I do -- I am something of a fangirl in this regard. This movie hit all the right notes with me. It has humor, action and outstanding visuals. I would definitely say this was worth the price of admission.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Feature, Best Posts Revisited: The Future's So Bright I.....Oh Wait

Is it me, or are we as people fairly pessimistic? The reason I ask is that while I was looking for movies that were set in the future I noticed that movie makers generally seem to assume we're heading for trouble.

Avery had a post on her blog that mentioned the movie Logan's Run, which is what got me to thinking about this topic in the first place. I remember seeing this movie when I was a kid. I don't remember if it was particularly good, but I do remember it. If you haven't seen it, the basic idea is that the futuristic society in this movies kills off everyone once they reach the ripe old age of 30. If anyone attempts to escape this fate and become a "runner" then another character called a "sandman" will hunt you down. The main character, Logan-- a sandman in the beginning, becomes a runner, hence the name of the movie.

What's interesting to me about futuristic movies is that there always seems to be assumptions that the planet will either be totally overpopulated, resulting in a need for extreme population control, or that we will be living in a totally post-apocalyptic society in which humanity will be struggling to survive. Well, either that or the machines will take over. But no matter the future depicted, it usually isn't one we would want to live in.

Another movie that follows the overpopulation scenario is Soylent Green. This movie also uses euthanasia as a convenient form of population control, but also explores other problems associated with too many people. The name of the movie refers to a type of food that has been developed to feed a population that does not have the money, or access to regular food. Soylent green is a sort of cracker like wafer that is supposed to be a combination of soy and lentils which are cheap to produce. And though the main "scandal" of the movie is the fact that Soylent Green isn't solely made of soy and lentils, I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it. Like Logan's Run, Soylent Green is pretty dystopian in nature. The Government is run amok and the poor, pathetic populace at large doesn't really know a thing. Hmmm, maybe they're on to something here.

Mad Max, the movie that brought us Mel Gibson (I'll let you make the judgement call on that) is sort of the flip side of dystopian stories like Logan's Run. Set in post apocalyptic Australia, Gibson is a member of the Main Force Patrol, who's job it is to protect the few surviving citizens from violent motorcycle gangs. To be honest, I don't remember this movie that well. It wasn't my taste at the time but I do remember it showed a bleak vision of the future.

I also remember 12 Monkeys as a very bleak, and profoundly weird movie that assumed most of us probably won't survive very long. Like a lot of futuristic movies, 12 Monkeys assumes that time travel will be possible in the future and that it will be used to try to change the past. Unlike the Terminator movies, our fate isn't at the hands of machines who have decided to take over, but rather the result of a man made virus that wiped out most of the population. The virus is so virulent that the survivors are forced to live underground as it is still possible to be killed if one ventures above ground. The movie does end on an open-ended note, with the possibility that humanity will still be able to change the future. But it is one weird ride.

Omega Man is a more old school version of the same theme in 12 Monkeys. I haven't seen this one, but it came up a lot when I was looking at post-apocalyptic movies to include in this post. Charlton Heston stars in this one as the Omega Man, "the last immune and uninfected person on Earth" according to Wikipedia. Those of you who have seen this will have to tell me if it's worth watching. But the thing that is really interesting to me is that most movies and books about viral/bacterial/chemical infections wiping out humanity were written prior to 9/11 and our current worries of chemical/biological weapons after the Anthrax attacks of several years ago. It could be argued that authors like Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain and Stephen King, The Stand were just a little bit prescient on the subject.

I mentioned The Terminator movies previously, and they are kind of the go-to example of films about machines taking over the world with Battlestar Galactica as the television equivalent. Blade Runner examines the idea of sentient machines without the complete takeover of humanity, though the society depicted in this future isn't particularly rosy either. The Matrix assumes sentient machines will use us as batteries and I, Robot shows us where it all might begin.

And I haven't even begun to talk about the aliens-take-over-the-world scenario. But like all my posts, I run the risk of going on and on and you get the idea. If we were to belive most authors/movie-makers/TV shows, we don't have a heck of a lot to look forward to. I don't know if this is the result of a basic study of human nature, or if simply put, it sells. Some of these movies do end on a hopeful note, though as often as not nothing is expected to change. And the funny thing is, we like it. I know I do anyway. I guess I do hope for a happy ending though. A humanity-will-triumph ending-- only time will tell though...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The View Outside My Front Door

Okay, I have to do it. The smoke here has been crazy today. I tried to take some pictures while out driving, but it's hard to drive and take pictures-- and I don't recommend trying. So the picture here is the best I could do. I don't know if you can tell how hazy it is, but let me tell you this. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon when I took the picture and about 103 degrees. We have no clouds in the sky-- just smoke. It kind of looks like a cloudy winter day.

The other picture you see here is right off my front porch. I took it at about 7:30 in the evening. I was hoping to catch a really red sun today, but it wasn't as bright as it has been on other evenings. Normally though, you wouldn't be able to look directly at the sun, especially as it was just going down. But this shot is just as it looked from the naked eye.

I wish blogs came with smell-o-vision so you could smell the smoke too. It smells like I'm directly in the path of a campfire.

I promise. This will be my last smoke related post.

Just pray there are no floods or earthquakes in my future.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


California is smokin' these days, and not in a good way.

I don't know how many people pay attention to the wildfires in California. We get tons of them every year, so I don't blame anyone for not paying attention. I see footage every year of hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, but since I'm so far away they seem abstract to me most of the time. But Mother Nature isn't going to let me overlook the wildfires.

According to The Wall Street Journal there have been over 1,700 fires sparked this summer. I don't know about you, but that seems like an awful lot to me. And for the last two weeks we've been breathing in the smoke from all these fires and my lungs are getting sick of it.  I am very grateful that I don't live in one of the affected areas, though I don't want to take it for granted that we're safe. We were 110 degrees here today and I'm pretty sure just thinking hot thoughts could spark a fire in my backyard. I don't know how we survived the 4th.

But I am also a little worried about sucking in all the smoke in the air. When I lived in L.A. years ago, it took two weeks for my eyes to stop burning because of the smog. This is worse. I'm afraid we may have already gotten a little used to seeing the haze and aren't realizing how hazardous it is. I thought it looked pretty clear on Sunday and took the kids to the pool at the gym and I've been regretting it ever since. I was feeling ambitious that day and swam laps in the lap pool and now it hurts when I breath. I'm not one hundred percent sure it's from the smoke, but I suspect it is.  And that leaves me wondering one thing.

There are people out there who smoke? Voluntarily?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Dude, Where's Your Career?

I was TV today, as usual, and I saw an ad for a movie starring Eddie Murphy called Meet Dave.

Am I the only one who sees this commercial and thinks, who in their right mind is going to pay money for this?

I don't even know what the movie is about, except that it is somehow related to "Men in Black." What I do know is that it stars Eddie Murphy and that usually means stay away in my language.

Am I being too hard on the guy?

All I know, is that when I was a kid Eddie Murphy was hilarious. He was singing "Wookin pa nub" as Buckweat on Saturday Night Live. He made "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Trading Places." All my friends could quote directly from "Raw."

Then, somewhere around the time Murphy made "The Nutty Professor" things went awry. I don't know if it was because Murphy had kids, or because he wanted to play all of the characters himself, but all of a sudden, he was dressing up in all kinds of fatsuits and doing an awful lot of fart jokes.

What the heck happened?

I'd say that I've been subjected to a ton of bad movies since then, but really, I never watch any Murphy movies anymore. I don't recall if it was "Dr. Doolittle" that put the nail in the coffin, but I stopped even considering watching one of his movies a long time ago. I haven't even seen "Dreamgirls." I know some of you might be thinking about "Shrek" right about now, but does that really count? I don't consider "Shrek" to be a movie that is an Eddie Murphy vehicle. Though I think it may be the reason he is still able to make movies.

But the biggest mystery to me is that he still gets starring roles anymore. I could understand if we were talking about someone like Sean Connery, he's made some bad movies but he still has the cool factor. Murphy? Not so much.

And Murphy isn't the only actor that baffles me. Take John Travolta.

I can't claim to be, or ever have been a huge fan of Travolta, but he had a good thing going after "Pulp Fiction" resurrected his career. He hit a slump after "Saturday Night Fever" and "Urban Cowboy" and no one was more surprised than I was to see him turn up in a Quenton Tarantino film; but it worked. The next thing you knew Travolta was all over the place. He was in some movies that did quite well, from "Face Off" to "Primary Colors." But then, like Murphy, I think his ego may have gotten the better of him as he decided to do "Battlefield Earth." I think we all know what a fiasco that was. I also think it's safe to say it's been a downhill slide ever since.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Murphy or Travolta are the best actors around. Not by a long shot. What I am saying is that they had hot careers at one point. They had figured out a formula that got them good roles and good money and then.... I don't know what. I don't know if they stopped listening to their agents or they started believing their own press. But something went wrong.

Hollywood is littered with the careers of such men (and women). I don't know why I was thinking of these two men in particular. I also think of Nicholas Cage as I write this. He's managed to hang on to moderate success with his "National Treasure" movies, but I think he loses ground every time he makes a "Ghost Rider."

I will say this though, at least Murphy, Travolta and Cage haven't hit the reality TV show circuit. Wouldn't that be sad? Every time I see another has-been celebrity in a reality show I cringe. I mean, how many Baldwin brothers have been on reality shows? What is it about fame that leaves people clinging to it so desperately? Celebreality shows are reason enough for me to never, ever want to be famous. I don't want to cling to last vestige of a career while I toss my dignity aside.

I don't know... I don't have any real point to this post. Mostly I'm just thinking out loud-- so to speak.

But what do you think about people like Murphy who make bad movie after bad movie? Are you as baffled as I am that anyone would actually put money into making these things? Is there an audience for this that I am unaware of? Would anyone pay for "Dr. Doolittle 3?" Did anyone pay to see "Norbit?"

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th!

Time to eat, drink and be merry....And light a few fireworks...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I'm in a mood...***Updated***

****New*********************************************** I know you're probably tired of the links. But I am freak when it comes to free stuff. I can't pass up a chance to tell everyone about it.... Author David Louis Edelman has a contest going on in which he's giving away four books, every week for four weeks. The titles are: One copy of the Solaris edition of Infoquake One copy of the Pyr edition of MultiReal One copy of The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two (containing Edelman's story “Mathralon”) One copy of Overlook Press’ new edition of Mervyn Peake’s Titus Alone (containing Edelman's introduction to the book) ****************************************************** And not a blogging mood if you know what I mean. I'm in a funk. I think it's because P'Dub had a contest for a $500 gift certificate this last weekend and I missed it. Oh sure, I wouldn't have won. But dammit, I like to kid myself that I would have had a chance. So I'm going to offer up my normal linkage and hope some of you might have some better luck-- and tell me about it. First, you gotta visit my Book Review Blog, I have two contests listed, both ending on Friday. Then, as always, you've got to visit the Fantasy Book Critic. He has 6 giveaways listed on his left sidebar including, "A Darkness Forged in Fire" by Chris Evans, "The Blood King" by Gail Z. Martin, "Daniel X" by James Patterson, "The Ten Thousand" by Paul Kearney, A set of books by David Webber, "Vicious Circle" and "The Devil You Know" by Mike Carey and "The Tower of Shadows" by Drew Boling. Graeme's Fantasy Book Review has 3 copies of "The Briar King" by Greg Keyes to giveaway. I highly recommend this one... Author Rachel Vincent has several books, by many different authors up on her blog in a contest that ends THURSDAY. The list includes Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry, Shadows on the Soul by Jenna Black, Ashes to Ashes by Jennifer Armintrout, Dark Lies by Vivi Anna, Scions: Insurrection by Patrice Michelle, Dancing with Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas. Sci-fi Chick has a copy of "Codespell" by Kelley McCullough. Very cool series. The Book Swede has a copy of "Eternal Vigilance" by Gabrielle Faust up for grabs. That's all I can find for now. I'll keep you posted if I see more though...