Tuesday, May 22, 2007

In Obama we trust

From a month-old NYT article titled "Obama, Gospel and Verse"
Out of the blue I asked, ''Have you ever read Reinhold Niebuhr?''

Obama's tone changed. ''I love him. He's one of my favorite philosophers.''

So I asked, What do you take away from him?

''I take away,'' Obama answered in a rush of words, ''the compelling idea that there's serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn't use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naïve idealism to bitter realism.''

Here's hoping the Senator from Illinois makes it.

And I envy this man for having heard him speak at Selma, Alabama. Or Al-Obama.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

France, pee-pee parts and the Conservatives

I have to agree with Purush. I'm a big fan of Real Time with Bill Maher and I thought episode 101, which aired on 4th May, was one of the best in recent times. So what if it didn't have a single Republican on the panel. There was Gov. Tommy Thomson earlier on in the show, via satellite....man, what kinda excuse is "my hearing-aid battery died", when you're defending your stance in favor of job discrimination against gays?

I loved the last New Rule on the show. Just brilliant. Read on..

And finally, New Rule: Conservatives have to stop rolling their eyes every time they hear the word, "France." Like just calling something "French" is the ultimate argument winner. As if to say, "What can you say about a country that was too stupid to get on board with our wonderfully-conceived and brilliantly-executed war in Iraq?"

And, yet, an American politician could not survive if he uttered the simple, true statement, "France has a better health care system than we do, and we should steal it." Because here, simply dismissing an idea as French passes for an argument. "John Kerry? Couldn't vote for him; he looked French." Yeah, as opposed to the other guy who just looked stupid.

Now, last week, France had an election, and people over there approach an election differently. They vote. Eighty-five percent of them turned out. You couldn't get 85% of Americans to get off the couch if there was an election between "Tits" and "Bigger Tits," and they were handing out free samples!

Now, maybe the high turnout has something to do with the fact that the French candidates are never asked where they stand on evolution, prayer in school, abortion, stem cell research or gay marriage. And if the candidate knows about a character in a book other than Jesus, it's not a drawback.

The electorate doesn't vote for the guy they want to have a croissant with; nor do they care about private lives. In the current race, Ségolène Royal has four kids, but she never got married. And she's a Socialist. In America, if a Democrat even thinks you're calling him "liberal," he grabs an orange vest and a rifle and heads into the woods to kill something!

Madame Royal's opponent is married, but they live apart and lead separate lives. And the people are okay with that for the same reason they're okay with nude beaches; because they're not a nation of six-year-olds who scream and giggle if they see pee-pee parts!

They have weird ideas about privacy. They think it should be private. In France, even the mistresses have mistresses. To not have a lady on the side says to the voters, "I'm no good at multi-tasking."

Now, like any country, France has its faults, like all that ridiculous accordion music. But, their health care is the best in the industrialized world. As is their poverty rate. And they're completely independent of Mid East oil. And they're the greenest country. And they're not fat. And they have public intellectuals in France. We have Dr. Phil!

They invented sex during the day, lingerie and the tongue. Can't we admit we could learn something from them?

So, from now on, all you high-ranking Bush Administration officials, because the French are righter than you on most things, when France comes up in conversation, you are not allowed to roll your eyes. The only time you get to do that is when your hooker from Ms. Julia is blowing you.

For an unedited version of this, do visit Purush's post here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

On super-heroes and Spidey 3

I'm a big Spidey fan. Right from this first version in 1977, (trivia - did you know Nicholas Hammond also starred as that Von Trapp-ing German lad in Sound of Music?) to the 2002 Sam Raimi blockbuster, to his 2004 sequel.

Gotta love Spidey. He's the most human among all the superheroes. That's why I also love Daredevil. I'm not a big Superman fan, he's got it it all too easy. Batman's too rich. I mean come on, the dude's got a huge car, a cave, a mansion and a butler. No way. The Hulk..well, he's huge so he's got size on his side. The Fantastic Four (come on, you're already thinking Jessica Alba) are good, but well, they're four of them including the Thing. I loved the X-Men though. Mutants are cool..and rejects too - which is their whole appeal. Mandrake's a magician plus he's got Lothar and two bikini clad hotties. Phantom never dies (and he's got Devil). And so on and so forth. Wonder Woman?...get outta here. Super hero or childhood fantasy? Uh huh...now you know why they never made a movie on her.

But Spidey, he's human. He carries a past. He's burdened. He's a geek, a loser. He doesn't get the chicks, he doesn't have a career, he's got a loud-mouthed, foul, rude boss. But he still goes about doing his web-slinging. And he's also got a sense of humor. He is believable. And, he's Spider-man. Does whatever a spider can. Spins a web, any size, catches thieves......

I've held these views since I was a kid, as I maintain them now. I'm a pretty simple guy. I believe super heroes are meant to kick ass. That's why they have powers, right? They're supposed to finish the baddies. I root and rah-rah for the super heroes because good wins over evil. It's gotta. I mean these are comics and movies and stuff, right? Gimme a place I can escape to from real life.

So, because I believe in the simpler stories of good overcoming evil, of super heroes killing villains and such like, I was completely disappointed with the new, new Superman in Superman Returns. Man, was he a wuss or what. Big let-down from one of my favorite directors - Bryan Singer (interestingly enough, the same guy behind the first two X-Men movies). Superman's not supposed to have complexes and depressions, he's not supposed to go on sabbaticals, he's not supposed to see his girl with some other man with his kid. No way Jose. What next? Superman on Prozac?

I completely took to Batman Begins because I'm too big a fan of Chris Nolan. More so if he's got Christian Bale. Call me forgiving (yes, I know Katie Holmes starred in the movie too), but that's it. I was never a big fan of the earlier Batman movies, because somehow, I never caught on to Tim Burton's style. For example, in the first Batman movie , I thought it was the Joker playing Jack Nicholson and not the other way round. Too much star power, too many special effects, too little story, too little fun.

For similar reasons, I didn't quite like the new James Bond in Casino Royale. But then this new 007 was such a huge success everywhere, I figured movie-goers now want their heroes to connect with their inner-selves. You know, lose their mojo every once in a while, discover for themselves that, well, life ain't simple, even if you have double oh's after your name.

Suddenly everything's become complex for the hero. The world, the girl next door, the villain. Everything's different. So, the hero needs to introspect, discover his inner strengths. It's not as simple as melting the red wire on the time bomb with your laser beam vision, after hearing the clock tick with the super hearing, after bending the baddie's gun with your bare hands.

But coming back to Spidey and Spidey 3...I'm seeing it tomorrow night. And today, I read, with a heavy-heart that Spidey 3's already getting some negative reviews. Sample the New Yorker review below..
If “Spider-Man 3” is a shambles, that’s because it makes the rules up as it goes along. By the end, for instance, Sandman has become the size of an office block, each swinging fist as big as a truck, his personality reduced to brutishness. I half expected him to come after Spider-Man and Mary Jane carrying a gigantic bucket and spade. By what criterion did he grow so mountainous? Is he like a Transformer, or more like a genie? The fact is that if the fantastical is to flourish it must lay down the conditions of its magic and abide by them; otherwise, we feel cheated. (Tolkien knew this better than anyone.)
And this is just the first para of Manohla Dargis' review at the NYT...
If ever a movie had a case of the blues and the blahs, it’s “Spider-Man 3,” the third and what feels like the end of Sam Raimi’s big-screen comic-book adaptations. (Ready or not, the studio is talking about a fourth.) Aesthetically and conceptually wrung out, fizzled rather than fizzy, this latest installment in the spider-bites-boy adventure story shoots high, swings low and every so often hits the sweet spot, but mostly just plods and plods along, as if its heart were pumping tired radioactive blood.
Now I am aware that the tag line of the film is "The greatest battle lies within" (and man, do I love that line) - which obviously means that Spidey's gonna have a lot of inner turmoil to deal with....but I'm hoping that that black substance covering him (and his new outfit) ain't his inferiority complex or something. I mean I'd forgive Spidey going all bad for some time but please...I don't need him to become a manic depressive, or the Thinker or something. Come on.

Good part is he's also got three villains to deal with, i.e. a lot of mean ass to kick. That's something to look forward to. And so it is, that despite all these trepidations, I'm still looking forward to the movie.

Meanwhile, do you have a favorite super-hero? which one? and why? Love to know..