Thursday, December 14, 2006

Better Hurry!

How Come You Taste So Good?

I am in the throes of a dilemma: My brown sugar is always harder than AP Physics.

I needed help, so I hit the tubes and went to the websites of two sugar behemoths, figuring they'd know.

From the Domino Sugar website: "Brown sugar should be stored in an airtight container in a cool spot or in the refrigerator."

From the C&H Sugar website: "Store it in a cool, moist area in a covered container... Don’t store brown sugar in the refrigerator."

Airtight and cold? Covered and room temp? My oatmeal awaits your expertise, Nation.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Great Christmas Gift, For Those Whose Timbers Shiver

What a great idea: feety pajamas for adults! has them in flannel, fleece, jersey, and cashmere, in a variety of tasteful designs and colors. You can even opt for a drop-down butt flap, in case you have a... ahem... need for speed. (Though if you get the solid red ones and the butt flap I think it's only fair that you also wear a gray pappy beard and pan for gold.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What She Lacks In Skills, She Makes Up For In Elan

The Big Myth: "There Are So Many Violent Movies!"

People are forever bemoaning violence in movies. I happen to like the kind of movies that are characterized as "violent." Not mindlessly so, and not because of the violence. It's just that some degree of violence is essential to telling some kinds of stories... and those are among the kinds of stories I like.

Let me put it this way: I'll take a Tarantino or a Die Hard over a powdered-wigs-and-corsets movie any day of the week. Does that make me a bad guy? I'll leave that to others to decide.

But as someone who seeks out such movies, I am always amazed when people say there are so many of them. If there are, how come when I'm in the mood, action movies are like cops: there's never one around when I need one?

Yesterday on The View, the viewlociraptors were scrawing and screeching about Apocalypto. And Barbara Walters said one of those Barbara-Waltersy things she likes to say:

"But people love violent movies. Look at all the movies that have opened up now before Christmas. Almost every one of them is a violent movie!"


Then one of the other Flying Monkeys said something about how movies just pander to teenage boys, and I turned the TV off.

Let's look at the top ten movies at the box office this past weekend:

1. Apocalypto
2. The Holiday
3. Happy Feet
4. Casino Royale
5. Blood Diamond
6. Unaccompanied Minors
7. Deja Vu
8. The Nativity Story
9. Deck the Halls
10. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
11. Borat
12. Stranger Than Fiction
13. Turistas
14. The Queen
15. Van Wilder II
16. Flushed Away
17. Bobby
18. The Fountain
19. Babel
20. The Departed

Now to be honest, for a number of reasons I haven't been to a movie in a very long time, so I haven't seen any of these. So my opinion is spectacularly uninformed, being limited to what I've read and heard about them. Still, it seems to me that once you get past Apocalypto, you've got to go all the way to lucky 13 and Turistas to find a movie that would shock and offend someone for its brutality.

Sure, Blood Diamond and Deja Vu may be more violent than I thought, but neither seems like it would have the kind of gratuitous gore that sets Barbara's wig aloft. And perhaps there's something in Casino Royale that makes it somehow more emotionally scarring than the other 20 Bond films, but I doubt it. I mean even at the age of 115, Barbara Walters must have seen a James Bond movie in her life.

And, yeah, The Departed -- which I'm eager to see -- has a lot of violence in it, but WTF? It's Scorsese, ferchrissake. Let the man do that voodoo that he do so well!

But let's give Barbara all of the above. Let's say that those 6 movies are a scourge. Unless I've seriously misjudged The Queen or The Nativity Story, and assuming that Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz aren't spending their Holiday with the Yakuza, I don't see a lot of offenders here.

But out of respect for the sulfurous, let's be fair to Barbara: It's not Christmas yet. So let's see what's opening up in the next two weeks:

Charlotte's Web
Arthur & The Invisibles
The Pursuit of Happyness
We Are Marshall
Night at the Museum
Talking farm animals, Beyonce, and triumphing over adversity? In the words of Count Floyd, "Very scary, kids!"

Breaking and Entering
Perhaps violent, but classy violent.

Matthew Barney: No Restraint
A documentary about a sculptor working with Bjork and 23 tons of Vaseline may be many things, but I doubt "violent" is one of them.

The Painted Veil

Peter O' Toole and Edward Norton fall in love. The kind of movies the bloodthirsty flock to.

The Good German
The Good Shepherd
They're both good, so why the hate? Whether they're violent or not, I doubt A-list movies about the Potsdam Conference and the birth of the CIA are splatterfests aimed at teens.

Probably violent, but does violence against dragons count?

Curse of the Golden Flower
Violence or ballet? Who cares? By all accounts, this is one of the most sumptuous and glorious epics any of us will ever see. Besides, if you're telling the story of one of the most violent periods in human history, it's hard to do it without some lopped heads.

Which brings us to:

Home of the Brave
Letters From Iwo Jima
War is violent, and it should be depicted that way. Perhaps the reason we're in a war now is that our leaders grew up watching movies where, if a soldier got shot, he would clutch his chest, go "Unnnnnh" and fall over... then do a five-minute speech about telling his Mom and his girl he loves them. Let's hope future leaders, having seen realistic violence, will remember that violence is real.

By the way, I didn't forget Rocky Balboa. It's just that the idea of a 60-year-old man climbing into a boxing ring so confuses me that I have to lie down with a wet towel on my forehead. Besides, if someone old has to get punched over and over, why oh why couldn't it be Barbara Walters?

I Finally Remembered Who Tony Snow Always Reminds Me Of!

He's a smugger, less likeable version of Nathan Thurm!

Monday, December 11, 2006

I Wish We Lived in a Society Where I Could Be Free to Wear These and Still Seem Manly

Also, it would help if I lived in a cold climate. From the amazing store

We May Have To Rename Bullshit "Snowshit"

Tony Snow appeared on CNN's Reliable Sources yesterday. Just a few choice passages:

On David Gregory quoting the ISG Report: "He used words that were in the report, but actually did not quote from the report."

Hooo-kay. I'm sure that distinction is key to Snow, even if it's nonsense to the rest of us. You can judge for yourself whether Gregory characterized the report inaccurately:

From the press briefing:

GREGORY: The co-chairs say the following: "'Stay the course' is no longer viable." "The current approach is not working." "The situation is grave and deteriorating."

From the ISG Report:

Page 6 (the first sentence of the report):
The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating.

Page 30
2. Staying the Course: Current U.S. policy is not working, as the level of violence in Iraq is rising and the government is not advancing national reconciliation. Making no changes in policy would simply delay the day of reckoning at a high cost. Nearly 100 Americans are dying every month. The United States is spending $2 billion a week. Our ability to respond to other international crises is constrained. A majority of the American people are soured on the war. This level of expense is not sustainable over an extended period, especially when progress is not being made. The longer the United States remains in Iraq without progress, the more resentment will grow among Iraqis who believe they are subjects of a repressive American occupation. As one U.S. official said to us, “Our leaving would make it worse. . . . The current approach without modification will not make it better.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On whether it was inaccurate or unfair for Gregory to ask whether the report was a "rejection of the president's handling of the war" :

HOWARD KURTZ: [I]n fact, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune called it a "rebuke of the administration policy" and the "Wall Street Journal" called it a "searing critique."

TONY SNOW: Is it "searing critique" that this report says at the beginning of its own segment on actions forward... that it says, and I quote, and this was not something I was asked about, "We agree with the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq as stated by the president."


SNOW: "An Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself."

KURTZ: They also said the
policy is not working.

SNOW: No, what they said is that you need a new policy.

Surprisingly, Kurtz did not do a spit take after this semantic triple axel. Also, refer to the ISG passage above, especially the "the policy is not working" part.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On whether the media is unfairly characterizing us as "losing the war":
SNOW: ...the idea that you sort of do a snapshot of win/lose, rather than taking a look at broader metrics or broader things that are going on. To give you an example--

KURTZ: It was the president's nominee, Roberts Gates, for defense secretary who said, "We're not winning"

SNOW: Well, he also said we're not losing. And Pete Chiarelli, who's the general on the ground, said we are winning militarily.

I feel better already.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On the President and the Rumsfeld firing:

KURTZ: A week before the election, as you know, President Bush told three wire service reporters that Don Rumsfeld would stay on at the Pentagon until the end of his term.

SNOW: Yes.

KURTZ: The day after the election, when Rumsfeld was out, the president said, "I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of the campaign."

SNOW: Yes.

KURTZ: You were asked about this as well.


ANN COMPTON (ABC): Why isn't it less than straightforward to say a week before the election that Secretary Rumsfeld would stay through the remainder of the administration when the president knew that wasn't the case?

SNOW: Well, he didn't "know" it was the case because he didn't have a suitable -- what he considered a suitable replacement, and hadn't had the final conversations with Don Rumsfeld.


KURTZ: You talked about there'd been no final decision and no suitable replacement had been found.

SNOW: Right.

KURTZ: But, can you now acknowledge that the president wanted to duck it and he gave a misleading answer?

SNOW: No. I'm not going to get into characterizing it.

I will. Bush said at the press conference,"And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer." That is the textbook definition of "ducking and misleading."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

KURTZ: After the [Foley] scandal broke, you did an interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien... Soledad O'Brien asked you, "Does the president and does the administration stand by Representative Hastert has far as he has led so far on this issue?"

SNOW: Yes.

KURTZ: And you said, "Again, we have to find out what's going on here. You're trying to create problems. What you are trying to do is pick fights here." It seems to be a recurring theme when journalists press you. You kind of accuse them of being troublemakers.

SNOW: No, I don't think so. I think that that was a fair characterization of what was going on.

KURTZ: But here's the question: "Do you stand by what Representative Hastert has done?"

SNOW: Yes.

KURTZ: How was that picking a fight?

SNOW: No, and then it's, you know, "do you, does the president," and the fact is, it's trying to get the president to render judgment on internal deliberations within the House office, where the president is, as is the normal course of business, is not going to be privy to the internal deliberations in the House office. The House of Representatives and members of Congress are very jealous of their prerogatives, as they ought to be, and what they say is, "White House, thank you very much, but butt out." So, therefore, to be called upon to render judgment on something that, under no circumstance, would we be privy is sort of an attempt to provoke.

This answer appears to have been formed from a random assortment of Refrigerator Poetry magnets. If our civilization is destroyed, and centuries from now aliens come to Earth and find this paragraph, they will conclude, "Ah, so they were only just
beginning to form a rudimentary language."

Besides, no one gets in Soledad's lovely grill if I have anything to say about it.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

KURTZ: Listen to this quote: "President Bush hates responding to the press, hates responding to political enemies. He thinks it's beneath him. He's got a stubborn streak." Who said that?

SNOW: I don't know.

KURTZ: You did, last March on Fox News.

SNOW: Did I? Yes, OK

KURTZ: Does he hate responding to the press?

SNOW: No... he actually likes it.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

AFI Names Best Movies and TV Shows of the Year

From Variety:

The AFI has announced their top 10 movies and television programs of the year.

Films in alphabetical order:

Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan
The Devil Wears Prada
Half Nelson
Happy Feet
Inside Man
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
United 93"

Television programs in alphabetical order:

Battlestar Galactica
Elizabeth I
Friday Night Lights
The Office
South Park
The West Wing
The Wire