December 9, 2005

While I'm here

Since I'm on the movie jag anyway, I should also mention I saw an advance screening of Syriana earlier this week as well. And contrary to a few other bloggers who wrote about it, I have to be really truthful here... I didn't like it that much. (The rest of this post ventures into spolier territory, so be warned)

Basically the movie was too ridiculous for something meant to suggest real life. Instead of making an actual documentary about the Middle East or doing a realistic adaptation of the true-story book much of the movie was based on, the filmmakers take you on this two-hour fantasy of what would happen if the worst possible thing imaginable in every aspect of Middle East oil politics happened.

The movie was promoed with the idea that "you leave not really knowing who's good or bad." Which is complete BS, because almost every "good guy" is identified by their being killed at some point during the movie. Meanwhile, the corrupt oilmen are stereotypical, and the path of progression of other characters are predictable to a degree that it's painful- for two hours everytime the Arab kid shows up on the screen, I was thinking to myself "Jesus, all right. I gt it. You're going to become a terrorist. Get it over with." And of course, in the end, he's a terrorist.

Syriana tries so hard to beat the audience with the message bat that it doesn't realize the audience is the choir. The facts in the movie are nothing anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman doesn't already know and mostly agree with, yet the movie is fictional enough to allow any right-winger to cast it off as propoganda.

It isn't as much that the movie is bad or good, it's that it's irrelevant. And given what the movie was made for, I don't see how you can pretend that's not a failure.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:52 AM

"I like that it was well-written!"

Apparently, hot lesbian action is destroyed with the incorporation of penis:

It has wowed film festivals, won rave reviews and sparked Oscar buzz, but when "Brokeback Mountain," a.k.a. the gay cowboy movie, begins playing to general audiences on Friday, it faces its toughest challenge yet - wooing mainstream America.

Two of Hollywood's hottest leading men, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, risk alienating fans and sending their stars plummeting if, after watching the pair have sex on screen, audiences cannot see them any other way than gay.

Look, I have no intention of seeing Brokeback Mountain, but if there was a movie featuring Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron having sex with each other, do you believe for a fraction of a second some Hollywood reporter would question if the movie will be able to "woo mainstream America?"

"Could send their stars plummeting?" What a nonsense, bigoted statement. Women, by all means feel free to correct me here, but I would venture that straight women would love to see two attractvie males doing it just as much as men would like to see two women. If anything, Brokeback seems like a wake-up call to Hollywood to appeal to the sexual fantasies of the other half of the country... and it's probably a hell of a lot cheaper since for women you don't need all the car chases and explosions many men desire in Hollywood hard-on flicks.

There is a long-standing history of misogynist tendencies in character development in film- another more common one being the mysterious sexual attraction female actresses always have in movies to actors twenty years older than them. But this "lesbian mystique" one is equally prominent. Seeing an actress play a gay woman and then seeing an actor play a gay man and only thinking the latter will "scar their career" is not a fallacy of the actor, it's a fallacy of the moviegoer.

I sincerely doubt female moviegoers are going to be "alienated" by Heath Ledger playing a gay man, and I know I'm not. At least, no more alienated than I already am from A Knight's Tale. That movie was shit.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:35 AM

December 8, 2005

Alito's America

Alito's America: It's Not Our America.

For those of you wondering why there has been a decline in posts lately, the extra hours devoted to something of incredible significance is the reason. The result is now available for viewing.

Campus Progress and The Center for American Progress just launched www.AlitosAmerica.org, a campaign to alert Americans to the dangers of an America with Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.

Our opening salvo in this battle is an innovative and funny two-minute internet video combining animation and live-action to depict the idea of a future where Alito is calling the shots.

The first 24 hours of a campaign like this are critical- not just in getting people to see it, but to shape the public opinion about the campaign in a positive manner before right-wing groups and pundits try and tear it to shreds. So all you kids with the weblogs they're talking about these days... spread the word. Frankly, I think it goes without saying how important stopping someone like Alito is... so consider our entire site devoted to it a well-documented emphasis on this point.

Unlike some previous controversies, we are not slandering or personally attacking Justice Alito in any way- every point we make is backed in fact and information that we offer readily on our website in fact sheets you can download and distribute to others.

Please take a moment to check out www.AlitosAmerica.org, and spread the word so that we can let the Senate and the country know that Alito's America is not our America.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:50 PM

"I'll probably be popped off by some loony"

One summer when I was still in college I had a summer job at a small web company on West 72nd Street in Manhattan. The subway stop is actually at the corner of Central Park West and 72nd; across the street is the entranceway to The Dakota apartment building.

I imagine, sitting here in an office in DC, that right now getting off at that stop would present a unique sight and a somber experience. It was twenty-five years ago to this day, at that very spot across the street at the entrance to The Dakota apartment building, where John Lennon was shot to death.

I have nothing else to say about this that isn't better covered by Jeralyn, so I highly recommend you read her this morning.

Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people Living life in peace

You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will be as one

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:27 AM

December 7, 2005

Before they were spokesmen

You know, that's great. Just great. I actually woke up this morning and said to myself "Hey, you know what I've never seen? Mike Ditka rapping. That'd be interesting." Well, I'm a damned idiot.

What's ironic about all of this is that Ditka is now a spokesmen for a male potency drug. And yet, having watched this video, I think I may very well never have an erection ever again.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:25 AM

December 6, 2005

There's just something special about a Reverend endorsing money lenders

Rev. Al Sharpton decided that it's about that time again to kick in the head everyone who bothers to take the difficult stance of defending him:

The Rev. Al Sharpton has a new business venture -- TV pitchman for car title loans.

The loans are legal, but CBS 2 Investigates has discovered that the company Sharpton is shilling for has fair lending experts up in arms.

In fact, you can now call him the "Loan" -- as in auto loan -- Ranger.

�When I�m out fighting for the little guy and I need quick cash I find comfort in knowing that LoanMax is here for me,� the Rev. Al says in a new commercial.

It�s Sharpton's latest gig. Doing car title loan ads in Virginia and New Mexico. LoanMax has 200 offices in 20 states.

Asked by CBS 2 about the ad, Sharpton said: �I don�t understand why it�s wrong for the little guy with no credit not to be able to get money.�

Critics charge LoanMax takes advantage of the "little guy."

Keith Corbett, senior vice president of the Center For Responsible Lending in Washington, said, �They charge triple-digit interest rates and the terms are so that the person can't really pay the loans back without doing harm to themselves."

A little background on these loans, which specifically target the "little guy:" they're basically loans in which you put up your car for collateral, including turning over a second set of keys to the loan officer. The interest rates are insane- in some cases, surpassing 350%- and if you miss a single payment you can lose your car in the middle of the night.

This is a program that is legal, but shouldn't be. It's predatory loans that are designed to be almost impossible for the poor and working-class without any savings to pay off, and instead of bankruptcy or federal assistance, they take your car away.

For all the stigmas he carries, Al Sharpton is viewed by huge swaths of minority working-class and poor communities as a leader. The loan people know this and he's taking their money to screw his own people. Historically, Jesus forgave the last guy who did that, but I wouldn't.

This is not, of course, to say that Sharpton and Sharpton alone deserves scorn. Ultimately, this company shouldn't exist in the first place to be able to bribe Sharpton into convincing people to lose everything they have. But the government has no interest in actually regulating predatory lenders- the poor don't have lobbyists. Banks do.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:04 AM

December 5, 2005

Newest comic - "Christmas rights: the battle continues"

I suddenly realized in the twilight of this year that I really, really like doing metaphor strips. I especially like them when I spend three or four days thinking "what the hell, this won't work," and then I draw it anyway and it works. So there you have it. Plus, anything that highlights how much of a douchebag Bill O'Reilly is can't be awful.

Regarding merchandise: a few notes on deadlines for holiday delivery. For the items in the CafePress stores, your orders are beholden to CafePress' deadlines. Anything you want before Dec. 23 without having to pay for FedEx you should order by the end of this week; for super saver shipping you've got three days left.

For the merchandise I ship myself, everything is standard USPS, which is 3-7 business days. Anything ordered usually goes in the mail the next weekday, so with holiday shipping as it is I would say order by Dec. 12 if you want to be 100% sure it's there by Dec. 23.

Also, and I say this with a heavy heart, I suddenly realized this weekend that I'm out of R.C. pins. I plan to order more but there's no way that'll happen this year. As a result, they are off the store page as is the Package of Awesomeness since I can't make a complete one anymore.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:09 AM