Saturday, October 24, 2020

Movie Reviews: Drive A Crooked Road

Drive A Crooked Road
directed by Richard Quine

This 1954 film noir wasn't super exciting. It was a little predictable all in all. But it did feature a pretty nice piece of acting from Mickey Rooney. The diminutive Rooney's height was an important part of the story. It was sobering to watch this movie and realize that actors that I only remembered as older or even elderly were young and vital once. 
Time doesn't wait around for anyone. 
I thought that there were some subplots that were either never fully developed or just cut out prematurely. The film is short but somehow manages the dubious feat of simultaneously feeling rushed and ponderous.
But as mentioned, Rooney's acting carries the film. If this film were to be remade today it would likely be more explicit which in this case, would be a good thing. Everything was implied in this film, which might have been why I felt certain portions of it dragged.
Eddie Shannon (Rooney) is an amateur race car driver and professional auto mechanic. Eddie knows all there is to know about cars. When he's behind the wheel of an automobile or tinkering with one, he's self-assured and poised. Otherwise Eddie's a depressed schlub. Eddie's especially shy and reticent around women. 

Ice Cube And The Black Male Vote

The rapper, actor, and filmmaker Ice Cube became the subject of a great deal of agita because of his meeting with some people within the Trump Administration regarding Ice Cube's Contract With Black America (CWBA) plan, which lays out some policies and plans which Ice Cube and some other Black people would like to see adopted. Now I don't have a problem with anyone criticizing the merits of the CWBA. No one is beyond criticism. No one. Never. Ever.

The problem however was that people (and by people I generally mean Black gatekeepers in predominantly white owned media and academia, disproportionately Black women) criticized Ice Cube not for his plan's alleged faults, blind spots or shortcomings, which few of them could delineate in any event, but instead lambasted Ice Cube as a chump, sellout, misogynist, and Trump supporter for having the f*****g audacity even to meet with any Republican without checking first with his Democratic (preferably Black feminist female) overlords. 
Twitter loons, left leaning media and academic favorites, few of whom were heterosexual black men, starting pushing the narrative that heterosexual Black men were the weakest link in the Black community, that Black men as a group were diehard cisgender heteronormative misogynistic patriarchal oppressive dummies who were going to mess everything up, as usual, by voting for Trump. One noted nutcase even said that Black women needed to go on a sex strike against Black men to control the Black male vote. 

Puss Caterpillars

If you are outdoors in the woods taking a walk, taking pictures, walking your dog, or just enjoying the briskness of autumn, you might see a small hairy something on a tree, a bush, or the ground that looks like a slow moving mouse or a small section of a bad toupee.

If you do see this thing, it's probably not a good idea to pick it up or to let it touch you. See this is something called a puss caterpillar, the larval stage of the southern flannel moth. And for some reason God and/or Mother Nature saw fit to grant this two inch long creature toxins which can cause extremely painful reactions in much larger mammals such as humans. I guess that is one way of ensuring that the larva survives to become a moth. 

First, it was murder hornets. Now it’s stinging caterpillars. As if there wasn’t enough to worry about in 2020, foresters in Virginia are warning that if you see a caterpillar that looks like a wig on a tree, don’t touch it. The Virginia Department of Forestry said it had received reports of hairy-looking puss caterpillars in eastern Virginia. Its hairs are attached to a poisonous gland, said Eric Day, of Virginia Tech’s Insect Identification Lab. Touching it could cause a painful reaction, the severity of which can vary, Mr. Day said. Other symptoms can include pain that comes in waves, a rash, fever, muscle cramps or swollen glands, according to the University of Michigan

Jeffrey Toobin: When In Doubt Whip It Out!!

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who can do so are working from home. People keep in touch with co-workers via Zoom or Web-ex meetings, instant messaging, emails, conference calls, and the like. 

Working from home means that you learn a little more about your co-workers' personal lives and quirks. Perhaps you hear or see their children or grandchildren in the background. Maybe you find out what sorts of books or music they enjoy. 

Maybe you find out that your co-worker's relationship with their spouse or significant other is much different than you thought. Maybe you see someone without makeup or with uncombed hair. Maybe a co-worker is less productive because their peers or supervisor can no longer just walk into their office or cubicle to get a hands on update on their status.

Speaking of hands on, however lawyer, blogger, New Yorker magazine contributor, and CNN analyst Jeffery Toobin apparently forgot that there are some activities that shouldn't be shared with anyone else other than perhaps an intimate. 

Music Reviews: Anne Laurie: Since I Fell For You

The song Since I Fell For You is a blues/jazz standard written by jump blues pianist Buddy Johnson. I was really only familiar with the Dinah Washington interpretation. I recently ran across an earlier version sung by Anne Laurie which dated from 1947. It's not as lush as the Washington rendition but I like it just as much. Its sparseness speaks to me. 

Maybe it will to you as well. Supposedly Washington herself listed Laurie as an influence. I wonder how much of today's music will still be relevant sixty or seventy years after it was released. Perhaps the best of it will. There was plenty of crap released in whatever Golden Age of music one cares to reference. Still, it's hard for me to let go of the idea that they don't write songs like this any more. The lyrics are equally applicable to men or women. Listen below.

Michigan: Fall Is Here!

Perhaps people in every region or state think that their area is among the most beautiful. And they could all be correct. I haven't lived anywhere except the South and Midwest, specifically Michigan. And Michigan's fall season is almost always amazing. 

Even amid a seemingly never ending pandemic there is still something special about the fall colors of Michigan. 

If you are fortunate enough to live in a temperate region with lots of deciduous trees, you really ought to take the time to go outside, after putting on your mask of course, and enjoy viewing autumn's vivid colors. Perhaps it's not so fun if you also have to spend a lot of time raking and bagging leaves while getting your home ready for winter's blast, but to me that was always a fair exchange for the beauty on display. Enjoy other fall pictures here.

Judge (Justice) Amy Coney Barrett and Liberal Despair

Judge Amy Coney Barrett moved one step closer to being confirmed as the newest Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee claimed that the entire process was illegitimate and boycotted the final Committee vote. The Democrats argued that Committee rules required at least two members of the minority party to participate in order to have a quorum and conduct business. 

The Republicans said they didn't see it that way and proceeded to vote anyway. The result was that the vote was 12-0 to move Judge Barrett's nomination to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. Barrett could thus be confirmed as soon as Monday, barring some sort of last minute unforeseen stumble. Maybe someone will come out of the woodwork on Saturday or Sunday to claim that in the third grade Judge Barrett kissed him against his will and gave him cooties. That seems to be quite unlikely to say the least.

Barrett's impending confirmation makes the Democrats so mad that they could just spit. They have no way to stop Barrett's confirmation. They have also realized belatedly that the Republicans, frustrated by what they've seen as liberal courts since at least the 60s if not before, have reached what they certainly hope will be the apotheosis of a multi-decade conservative effort to seize control of the courts back from liberal judges.

So, many liberals, angered and frightened by the idea of 6-3 or 5-4 conservative Supreme Court decisions for the forseeable future and in particular the idea of a decision that overturns or further limits Roe v. Wade have floated ideas to limit the power of this reinvigorated conservative court. Some of these are silly or unconstitutional and just won't happen. Others are viable but come with their own risks.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

VP Debate: Pence and Harris

Usually the only point of a VP debate is for the potential or actual Vice-President to show that he (or she this year) can tie his shoes, walk unassisted, and won't immediately collapse into a puddle of goo if something goes wrong and he becomes President. If someone can pass that low bar then they have pretty much fulfilled their patron's expectations. This year is different because Trump and Biden are each so old that there is a real possibility that neither will be around four years from now. I write possibility. Some might say hope.

I have a dislike for both Mike Pence and Kamala Harris.  I think they are both quintessential politicians without much in the way of backbones. Harris' nasal speaking tone and laugh are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Pence gives every indication of being a soulless yes man.  

Harris has a bad record as both prosecutor and district attorney. It is a sign of how desperate the Democrats are to beat Trump that while significant elements of the Democratic political and racial base are expressing disdain for "law and order" as it is currently unfairly applied to Black men and boys, the 2020 Democratic nominee for Vice-President and likely next Vice-President is an empty suit who joked about locking people up for marijuana violations, refused to prosecute dangerous cops, referred to herself as California's "top-cop", and fought to keep prisoners locked up so that they could serve as cheap labor to fight California fires. As others have pointed out Harris was no progressive prosecutor.

But I digress.

Michigan Terrorist Militia Tries to Kidnap Governor Whitmer

So this happened:

A group caught by the FBI plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wanted to take her to a “secure location” in Wisconsin and try her for treason, officials said. 
Federal and state authorities have charged more than a dozen people in connection with a scheme to abduct Whitmer from her vacation home and hold her hostage, according to a criminal complaint.

Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta and Barry Croft were named in the criminal complaint. 
Charges were later announced against Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor, Michael Null, William Null, Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison. Through confidential informants and undercover agents, the FBI monitored the plot for several months, and one of the plans discussed by the group involved what to do with Whitmer after the planned kidnapping, court documents reveal.

On July 27, an FBI informant met with Fox at Fox’s business in Grand Rapids, officials said. The informant was secretly recording audio from the meeting. Fox told the informant that their best opportunity to abduct Whitmer would be as she arrived at or left the vacation home or her official summer residence, authorities said. Both residents are in the Western District of Michigan. “Snatch and grab, man,” Fox said, according to the audio tape. “Grab the f****** governor. Just grab the b****, because at this point, we do that, dude, it’s over.”

LINK

Movie Reviews: 6 Souls

6 Souls
directed by Mans Marland
This older (2010) horror film also known as Shelter had a real movie star attached to it in Julianne Moore but unfortunately was hobbled by bad writing, a little too much of a European sensibility, and a really crappy and predictable ending. 
There are a lot of horror movies that are just excuses to show blood, gore, mammary glands, and special effects budgets. I've mostly grown past those as I've aged but this is a film that might have done better to have some of those things on display.
In other words this was a very low energy film. Low energy is good if you can still manage to deliver some creepiness. This film only did that intermittently before sputtering to a denouement which was cliched even by the often low standards of horror films. 
Still, if you are someone who doesn't like horror movies with geysers of blood or naked horny young people doing incredibly stupid things before being slaughtered in inventive ways you might tolerate small bits of this film. But I can't imagine that you would like it. Dr. Cara Harding (Moore) is a confident non-nonsense psychologist and widow who is both devout and scientific. She's also convinced via her experiences and the scientific evidence available that multiple personality disorder is almost always a con.