Consevatives, Iraq, Past indiscretions biting you in the ass

I see a new Conservative campaign poster…

If there is any truth to it, there is a certain audacity to the artlessness with which it was employed. Of couse, I speak of the rather compelling video splicing together John Howard’s 2003 “rah rah let’s kick Sadaam’s ass” speech with the identical speech given in a losing effort by then PC leader Stephen Harper in Canada’s House of Commons. The video is all the rage at ProgBlog today, and even among the mucky-mucks in the Liberal campaign apparently. Those that haven’s seen it can watch it here:

Naturally, the Tories don’t want to talk about where the speech came from, saying that it “was given by a person who was leading a party that doesn’t exist anymore”. However, either of the two possibilities, that Harper plagiarized the speech outright or it was issued by someone within the Bush neocon circle to raise support for tragic Iraq folly, are worth considerable investigation.


I have always considered Stephen Harper to be a neocon wolf in moderate clothing, but if the link is this direct, this intimate, I want to know more before we go to the polls. If Harper was PM in 2003, there is a very good chance that we’d be arguing about our involvement in the Iraq war today rather than Afghanistan, or hell, maybe both. Knowing as many in the forces as I do, I shudder to think about that.


Stephen Harper: Autocrat, Neocon, Plagiarist, Puppet.


We need it on a campaign poster to put alongside a picture of him in soft focus in his fucking fuzzy sweater mouthing platitudes about how much he loves his kids. Asshole.


Thou Shalt Not Call. Unless You Are a Political Party. Or a Charity. Or…

So, in the interests of peace and quiet, at least during supper, I went, along with quite a few other Canadians, to the site that lets you register for the “Do-Not-Call” list. Imagine my surprise (maybe not ‘surprise’, maybe… ‘complete expectation’) to discover the site has apparently crashed, at least as of this writing.

Besides the inability to handle what should have been anticipated levels of consumer tube rage, the parameters of the list bother me a bit – how is it fair that a total stranger can’t call me to tell me I’ve won a free trip somewhere, but the Conservative Party can call me to solicit my support for strapping the rat cage to my face?

Seriously, with a little extra work, and a few well-placed bad words to those who can still call you under the swiss-cheese like regulatory regime, we can reclaim the telephone for its intended purpose: communication. It will be nice, won’t it?

Now if only the government can dig deep and discover a clue about public opinion and the demands of technological solutions (Who is their IT guy? Captain Caveman?), we may get a system that works to our advantage.

It’s a Frustrating Flash Fact.


The Greatest Films of All Time?

As another brief respite from serious matters of politics, and as I appear to be in ‘Pop Culture’ mode today…

British entertainment magazine Empire has provided its list of the 500 greatest films of all time. The list was prurportedly put together through interviews with film professionals, critics and readers. The Top Ten, according to the magazine, is as follows:

1 The Godfather (1972)
2 Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
3 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
4 The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
5 Jaws (1975)
6 Goodfellas (1990)
7 Apocalypse Now (1979)
8 Singin’ In The Rain (1952)
9 Pulp Fiction (1994)
10 Fight Club (1999)

Um, yeah. I agree that most of them are great, but this in no way resembles my top ten. I mean, come on, Fight Club?

Seriously. Some of the other 500 films include:

410 – A Hard Day’s Night

397 – Night of the Living Dead

395 – Casino

381 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail

350 – Planet of the Apes (1968)

311 – American History X

296 – All the President’s Men

290 – Rashomon (A. Kurosawa)

283 – Ran (A. Kurosawa)

273 – The Maltese Falcon

263 – Das Boot

235 – Battle Royale (You need to see this – trust me. The most f*cked-up movie watching experience you’re likely to have for a while.)

212 – M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

195 – It’s a Wonderful Life

189 – Ghostbusters

181 – Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (WTF? Piece of trash written by Roger Ebert)

173 – Memento

172 – The Wizard of Oz

166 – Goldfinger

138 – Cool Hand Luke

135 – Duck Soup

133 – Double Indemnity

127 – The Sting (More Paul Newman!)

109 – Touch of Evil (Brilliant and underrated Orson Welles noir)

How some of these flims were rated where they are is a complete mystery to me. The Maltese Falcon at 273? This is only a partial list of the films from 500 to 100 – the rest were not available online yet, but I was annoyed enough by the time I got to 101 anyway. It got me to thinking – what would my top ten be? I think a preliminary list would look like this (in no particular order):

Ghostbusters (1984)- Yeah, seriously. I’ve seen it so many times that I’ve practically memorized all of the dialogue.

The Thin Man (1934) – William Powell and Myrna Loy – the first of six movies in total – absolutely brilliant dialogue and good mysteries as well.

Yojimbo (1961) – It doesn’t get much better than Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune – coincidentally, like The Thin Man, based on a Dashiell Hammett novel.

Metropolis (1927) – Silent Fritz Lang classic – now restored, it is still a visual wonder.

The Man Who Laughs (1928) – Another German silent masterpiece, with Conrad Veidt (the nasty Nazi from Casablanca) as Gwynplaine, who is disfigured in childhood by criminals to have a permanent grin. The film, as the legend goes, inspired Bob Kane to create The Joker.

Casablanca (1942) – Speaking of Conrad Veidt. And Humphrey Bogart. And Claude Rains. And Ingrid Bergman…

Seven Samurai (1954) – Again, another Kurosawa masterpiece.

Citizen Kane (1941) – Well, duh.

War of the Worlds (1953) – Produced by the ever-reliable George Pal, the best of the 1950’s alien invasion genre.

Them! (1954) – The (I think) first and best of the giant monster genre (in this case, ants). Eeny-weeny bit part for Leonard Nimoy, as well.

The Thing (1982) – (Yes, this list goes to 11, so what?) John Carpenter’s incredibly tense remake of the 1950’s film, based on a John W. Campbell short story, Who Goes There? After all this time, and hundreds of viewings, I still jump at one scene in particular (you know the one I mean).

Well, that’s it, although I could have included hundreds of films I love for one reason or another – The Maltese Falcon, Brazil, Gojira, and so on.

If anyone is interested, let’s hear from you – what are your favourites? Let the debate begin! (I hope)

It’s a Flash Fact.


An Icon Silenced

I was quite disturbed to learn this morning of the death of legendary actor Paul Newman at age 83. While not a believer in nor particularly tolerant of celebrity culture, Paul Newman was one of the most honest, real and genuine individuals in show business, even to the point of taking out an ad in Variety to apologize for what he thought was a particularly poor film, 1954’s “The Silver Chalice” (he was probably right, if reviews and synopses are to be trusted). That it was his first film says something for his integrity, not to mention the fact that even though he would go on to be adored by millions worldwide, he never took himself or fame too seriously. His 50-year marriage to Joanne Woodward is one of the legendary few marriages that have lasted that long in the crucible of Hollywood life.

He will be remembered for his charitable work, with his “Newman’s Own” brand of products being responsible for raising over $175 million for charity, but mostly he will be remembered for being one of those actors who, when you saw their names in the credits, would make you think, “this will be good”. I was by no means obsessed or dedicated to collecting his work, but I always enjoyed it. The fact that he was a real individual, reluctant to embrace the spotlight and, through his charitable work, caring about his fellow man, made him worthy of admiration. I wish, in some small way, I could have conveyed my admiration.

But now that he’s gone, I have lost the opportunity, which gives me a chance to quote one of his best-known lines:

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.

(“Cool Hand Luke”, 1967)

A Sad but True Flash Fact.


I Have Mixed Feelings…

On the one hand, Jim Caviezel as “Six”. Meh.

On the other hand, Ian McKellen as “Two”. Yay!

You see where I’m going with this, I’m sure. Check out AMC’s page on their upcoming miniseries: The Prisoner.

It’s a Flash Fact.

Be Seeing You.


The sound of bursting bubbles…

It has long been my feeling that the North American economy never actually paid for the tech bubble of the 90’s, that somehow the bubble just got inflated by cheap money and low interest rates, aided by the deregulation of the financial sector and the production of “banks”. Not banks, but “banks”. Sure, the markets crashed a bit, but it was more of a pause, a recovery. The speculators that built the paper profits on dreams of high-tech futures in the 90’s began to build even greater profits on the illusions, figments, in the financial sector. This was, of course made possible by a toxic combination of deregulation, cheap and easy credit, and greed.


For those of us that are not economists, there are thankfully a few people around the intertubal networks who can explain the complex issues of the day. One such person is billmon, who now blogs over at DailyKos. If you want a quick rundown on why the fiscal problem south of the border is so bad, so international, sit down and read this. It will make you weep, promises.


Those that still believe the free-market lottery that currently controls our lives is beneficial, need to just shut up now.

-kvd out

John McCain, Letterman

Where does Superman go now that there are no phone booths?

I was working late last night, laptop on lap, with Letterman on the tube when one of the funnier political commentaries of this, the silliest of silly seasons began. It all starts with John McCain cancelling his appearance a couple of hours before taping, as he suspended his campaign to save the economy. Over at PuffHo they’ve posted a couple of clips here. It’s worth the watch.

-kvd out