Tuesday, July 31

Good news!

It's always nice to report good news:

Conusmer Confidence hits 6-year high

Closer to home, GM posts big Q2 profits. Granted, we still have a ways to go in North America...

The NY Times suddenly thinks we can win the war in Iraq... and Chris Matthews and his panel of liberals suddenly think we need to stick it out in Iraq a little longer. (You should definitely sit down to read the Matthews transcript or risk falling over from the shock)

Friday, July 27

Liberals - They're So Open Minded!

(If you agree with them)

If not, they call you vile names, resort to the most vulgar and profane language, and if they're feeling benign, settle for comparing you to Hitler.

There are many trigger points that set liberals off - global warming being high on the list after using too many squares of toilet paper and driving SUVs, as Marlow Lewis learned:

During a Capitol Hill hearing yesterday, Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, confronted EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson about the strongly-worded letter written July 13 by Michael T. Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) that was sent to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

"It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar," Mr. Eckhart wrote. "If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on."

Well - how's that for free speech!

Saturday, July 21

A Tribute to JK

(This post contains no spoilers.)

I have never read a book in the "fantasy" genre; I didn't even like the Lord of the Rings movies, or Star Wars. They were too unrealistic, rather meaningless. I'd rather read Phillipa Gregory, Ayn Rand, Alexdanre Dumas, Daphne Du Maurier, F. Scott Fitzgerald, a good biography of Alexander Hamilton... I had absolutely no desire to read those Harry Potter childrens' books.

I was Up North (that is how we in New Fallujah refer to northern Michigan) the summer that Order of the Phoenix was released, on the tail end of a vacation with my mom and a close friend. It was cold and rainy for three days and I had finished what books I'd brought with me. My friend had borrowed the first two Harry Potter books and had finished the first. I said -why not see what all the hype's about? There's nothing else to do... and picked up book one.

After finishing this book, I asked for book 2 (still not terribly impressed, mind you, but entertained enough to want to read the second book, seeing as it was still raining and there was little else to do). My friend would not relinquish the finished book 2 until we drove to the store so that she could pick up book 3. My mom picked up book 1... It was all over from there. I've never experienced anything like it. We read - from the moment we got up to the moment we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer. We paused reluctantly only for meals - there was no TV, no radio. Nothing but the magic of those Harry Potter books that kept us enchanted until we had to head home, back to work (though, by that time, each owning our own copy of the newly released 5th Potter book).

True, these books are no Atlas Shrugged or the Count of Monte Cristo, but I have never enjoyed the actual reading of anything as much as I have enjoyed reading the Harry Potter books. I re-read and re-read them, marveling at all of the subtle clues, names dropped, cyrptic references made in the first four books, that you could not realize the significance of until the 5th book (or the full significance, in the 7th). The characters lived, really lived for me. I literally would become lost in these books as I read them, completely under JK's spell.

Children's books? Yes, children enjoy them, but in their innocence cannot fully appreciate them as adults can, cannot fully appreciate the motivations of the characters from the perspective of their young minds. Adults not only relate to Harry, but also to the more intriguing adult characters in the books. Yes, they're children's books and Rowling has written them brilliantly - for those who were around 11 (Harry's age at the time of the first book's release), they have grown up with Harry in the books, each one becoming more complex, just as they were - JK is a master.

But people of all ages can appreciate the book's themes. On the one hand, the HP books are your classic hero's journey, the same general themes that have intrigued humans from the time the first storyteller sat beside a campfire. But they're written now, the contempory Odyssey, set in a magical world written from a realistic perspective, entwined with our own, part of it. The comparison to our history is obvious - Voldemorte as Hitler, in his war against anyone whose blood is not "pure." The books also speak almost on a religious level, definitely with political commentary that cannot be overlooked in light of our current war on terrorism, and certainly on a moral level. They are about good v. evil, right v. wrong, that your actions determine your circumstance, that there are consequences for your actions; about doing what is right v. doing what is easy. They teach that sin - not only the big sins like murder and cruelty, but that other sins that we don't often consider, have consequences, too - there is a price to be paid for pride, and greed, as well - and that it is easy for anyone to succumb to their weaknesses, that it is human nature to do what is easy. (I hope I'm not rambling too much here - I am working off 3 hours sleep after finishing book 7 in less than 24 hours...)

I was talking to another good friend, another HP fan, about the eve of the release of Deathy Hallows, JK's 7th and final book in the Harry Potter series. We likened the event to New Year's Eve - with media coverage of the millions of fans worldwide whom JK Rowling has touched with these books - of the people awaiting the release from China to India to Spain to Israel. They were all most anxiously awaiting the conclusion of these British heros that are profoundly human; a story all those fans of all those different religions and ethnicities and backgrounds in all those different countries around the world relate to - about the power of love and kindness and bravery and doing what is right. If that's not real magic, I don't know what is.

Thursday, July 19

"Treason Times" Strikes Again!

This time they've decided to completely disregard HP fans by publishing an early review of Deathly Hallows. When every news story about the book for the last several months has been about the extreme measures of secrecy the publishers and booksellers are taking to prevent any spoilers, the Times can't claim ignorance. They couldn't have waited 2 more days?? Has to make you wonder which Democrat congressman could have leaked them an advance copy...

JK's reaction:

‘I am staggered that American newspapers have decided to publish purported spoilers in the form of reviews in complete disregard of the wishes of literally millions of readers, particularly children, who wanted to reach Harry’s final destination by themselves, in their own time. I am incredibly grateful to all those newspapers, booksellers and others who have chosen not to attempt to spoil Harry’s last adventure for fans.’

I hope she sues...

Wednesday, July 18

Dem Candidates - Sick Ideas for our "health" care

Edwards (who I'm not really worried about as far as winning anything goes) and Obama (who we may need to start fearing now that Opera's backing him...) both support universal health care. (For description of what we'd have to look forward to with universal healthcare, read the "Sick Movie Review" post below). Both candidates confirmed that their definition of universal healthcare includes universally paying for abortions, of course. I have to wonder what Opera's audience of housewives thinks about this...

Tuesday, July 17

20,000% tax increase???

In a step toward socializing health care (Lord help us), a bill will be up before the Senate to increase the tax on cigarettes from $0.39 to $1 per pack and on cigars from $0.05 to $10 per cigar.

Our government needs to get a grip. Tobacco is a LEGAL substance and people have a right to smoke it without subsidizing another segment of the population. This is so unAmerican it makes me sick. What's next - a $20 tax on French Fries, potato chips and chocolate to pay for teenagers with bad acne?

"I'm not sure in the history of man, since our forefathers founded the country in 1776, that there's ever been a tax increase of 20,000 percent," said Newman, who runs the Tampa [cigar] business founded by grandfather Julius Caesar Newman. "They had the Boston Tea Party for less than this."

Yes, Mr. Newman, we did. In fact, we fought a revolutionary war over unfair taxes. And where is that spirit now? Oh, it's just tobacco, that's so bad for you, I don't smoke you might be saying with self-righteous air. Wake up - do you honestly think if they get away with this they'll stop there? We need to keep the fight for individual rights and freedoms alive - and that should include the right to smoke a cigar, the right to have a drink, the right to eat chocolate, the right to drive an SUV, the right to use whatever damned kind of light bulb we want, etc., etc., etc.

Monday, July 16

Liberal Kook of the Week

This week's honors go to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), America's first Muslim congressman.

[Ellison] compared the 9/11 atrocities to the destruction of the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1933. This was probably burned down by the Nazis in order to justify Hitler's later seizure of emergency powers.

"It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that," Mr Ellison said. "After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted."

To applause from his audience of 300 members of Atheists for Human Rights, Mr Ellison said he would not accuse the Bush administration of planning 9/11 because "you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box - dismiss you".

Really? Then why throw out that comparison, Mr. Ellison? Because you are a "nut-ball" to think that George W. Bush, that incompetent, bumbling idiot as far as your Democratic friends are concerned, masterminded the 9/11 attacks a mere 9 months after coming into office because, apparently, he had dastardly, evil intentions to abuse his power and rule the world from the time he decided to run for office. Do you have any idea how retarded that sounds to Americans with an ounce of common sense???

Sick Movie Review

While we're on movie reviews... Here's a sick (in a good way) review on MTV.com (of all places) of Moore's latest docudebacle. It actually contains a lot of factual information disputing the obvious propeganda in Moore's movie.

Wednesday, July 11

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Movie - A Conservamuggle's Review

I'm an HP nerd, so naturally I had to see the 5th movie at first chance, shortly after 12:00 this morning. I walked around like an inferi most of the day at work, but it was worth it. (Though being a good capitalist, I still managed to have a highly productive day, despite the lack of sleep and longing to write this review all the while...)

It was a good movie. That said, I was disappointed. You can't help it if you love the books because the movies cannot do them justice. Yet I went in with an open mind, trying not to expect it to be anywhere near as good as the book, but still thinking it would be the best of the movies... it wasn't.

The highlights:

Imelda Stauton as Umbridge was awesome - she carried the movie. Could not have done a better job capturing the essence of the character - total evil with a sickly, sweet smile.

Evanna Lynch was a superb Luna and I liked everything they did with her character - not too much Looney Lovegood, but just enough.

Liked the new Tonks and H.B. Carter as Bellatrix (though we didn't see enough of her), and as always, Alan Rickman's Snape and Jason Issac's Lucius were fabulously evil.

The cuts - they did a good job with what they cut out in this movie, with four major exceptions. Overall, everything that happened at Hogwarts was well done.

If you were looking for a good, old, lighthearted Potter flick, you were disappointed. But OofP is not a light-hearted chapter in Harry's life. It's very dark, filled with angst - the growing pains of young teenagers mixed with an increasingly oppressive Ministry, a minister that would have made Neville Chamberlain proud, and the lingering knowledge that all hell's about to break loose in the wizard world. The movie captured the essence of the book well.

The flaws:

They took the longest book and made the shortest movie of it. There were four crucial scenes they did not do justice:

1. Petunia. Just once I would have liked to have seen the Dursleys in some other role than stupid, slapstick, childish attempt at humor. There was no mention of the howler to Petunia reminding her of past correspondence. More importantly, they cut out the part where Petunia acknowledges she knows what dementors are - because she heard "that awful boy telling her" about them. This was a poignant moment in the book, the only time Harry ever feels a connection to his aunt, in that she's the only one in muggleland Little Whinging who knows how awful Voldemort's return is. In light of what JK has told us about Lily being central to the grand finale, I found it egregious to have left this out.

2. Snape's worst memory. We didn't see Lily. Why was that Snape's "worst" memory, after everything he's been through? Another tormenting by his arch-rival James? That was his worst memory? Or was Lily (supposedly very significant in book 7) what made it the worst for him?

3. The duel. In the entire series, this is the one and only time that we get to see the most powerful wizard (Dumbledore) fight the most powerful dark wizard (Voldemort). First we have to start with Bellatrix - she's a prominent character and this would have been a perfect opportunity to have her in the movie a bit more. I would have liked to hear her say to Harry "You have to mean them" after he had attempted the cruciatis curse on her, heard more of their exchange. Enter Dumbledore... which was really the worst part of the movie.

Michael Gambon needs to reread the books a few times, for he abysmally fails to do Dumbledore justice. Granted, the writing and directing had a lot to do with that, as well. . .

Dumbledore is majestic, awe-inspiring, smooth, and powerful. While Voldemort "sends" spells at Dumbledore, Dumbledore merely "flicks" his wand to cast a spell, advancing on Tom confidently, and speaking to him "as lightly as though they were discussing the matter over drinks." It is Voldemort who is frightened of Dumbledore, not the other way around. I would have liked to have heard "your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness."

In the movie, Gambon looked weary, afraid, and weak. In the book, the only time Dumbledore looks alarmed is when Voldemort is possessing Harry, asking him to kill him and end it all. Prior to that, Dumbledore had clearly bested him in the duel. (Consequently, I can't help but wonder if the way Harry repelled Voldemort's possession in the movie is in some way foreshadowing book 7. . .)

4. Dumbledore's confession. Though it irked me not to see Harry furious and hurt and wreaking havoc in Dumbledore's office after the duel, I could have lived with what they did in the movie if they had not omitted so many crucial elements from this scene. The "because I cared about you" line in the movie was shabby, at best. At the very least, we should have had the explanation that Dumbledore heard the prophecy, that there was an eaves-dropper (Snape!) who heard only the first part and that reported it to Voldemort. That the prophecy was why Voldemort killed Harry's parents and tried to kill him. Considering how important the prophecy was, and in light of Snape's subsequent actions, that should have been acknowledged in the movie.

To sum it up- A decent movie that could have been a GREAT movie. Regardless, I still can't wait to see it again - once is not enough for final judgement...

More importantly, we are 9 days and some odd hours away from the illustrious Book Seven...

Friday, July 6

Happy Birthday, Dubya!

Hope your day is one of happiness and rest, sir.

The Conservababes