g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Friday, June 30, 2006
22:53 - Maybe in Elbonia
http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2006/06/burning_flags.html

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Scott Adams has one of the most concise and compelling arguments that I've seen against flag-burning legislation of any kind:

I consider myself a highly patriotic guy and I understand how people can get worked up over the flag being burned. I love my flag. But symbols are personal things, and everyone is free to interpret them however they see fit. For me, a flag that I’m NOT allowed to burn is a symbol that the government is too intrusive in my life. And it’s an insult to anyone who died to defend freedom. But that’s just me. You might prefer your symbols of freedom to have as many restrictions as possible.

As a cartoonist, he's naturally sarcastic most of the time, but this is one of those times where he isn't (though he's still funny anyway). I've always liked the way this guy thinks, and all the more so since he started blogging.


17:36 - Mediocreman
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/columns/film_reporter_display.jsp?vnu_content_i

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Now, now. C'mon—I'm sure this comes as a surprise to precisely nobody:

In the latest film incarnation, scribes Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris sought to downplay Superman’s long-standing patriot act. With one brief line uttered by actor Frank Langella, the caped superhero’s mission transformed from “truth, justice and the American way” to “truth, justice and all that stuff.”

“The world has changed. The world is a different place,” Pennsylvania native Harris says. “The truth is he’s an alien. He was sent from another planet. He has landed on the planet Earth, and he is here for everybody. He’s an international superhero.”

In fact, Dougherty and Harris never even considered including “the American way” in their screenplay. After the wunderkind writing duo (”X2: X-Men United“) conceived “Superman’s” story with director Bryan Singer during a Hawaiian vacation, they penned their first draft together and intentionally omitted what they considered to be a loaded and antiquated expression. That decision stood throughout the 140-day shoot in Australia, where the pair remained on-set to provide revisions and tweaks.

“We were always hesitant to include the term ‘American way’ because the meaning of that today is somewhat uncertain,” Ohio native Dougherty explains. “The ideal hasn’t changed. I think when people say ‘American way,’ they’re actually talking about what the ‘American way’ meant back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, which was something more noble and idealistic.”

Don't forget, though, that the Fleischer Studios Superman shorts of the 1940s—the theatrical adventures that really brought the character to life for the first time, and are still widely regarded as the gold standard by which all later efforts ought to be judged—described him as "fighting a never-ending battle for truth and justice."

That's it. No "American Way", not even in wartime. Indeed, I believe that phrase was added to the lexicon later, in the 50s—the McCarthy era, as it happens. Roughly analogous to when "Under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

So it's not as though this change for the sake of the new movie is some huge break with tradition. But that's not to say that the filmmakers' motives are to be lauded. It's not like they were dutifully paying homage to the original Fleischer material or anything. They're doing it wholly out of the "Oh, the American Way? What, you mean oil, oppression, and Jesus?" impulse that gets you laid in Hollywood. Rather than have the archetypal superhero saying something that would be genuinely bracing and edgy in this day and age, they chickened out in the interest of French box office receipts.

But I'm sure I can put all that aside for ninety minutes or so, and pretend it's just another nice apolitical piece of pop entertainment. Because we've had so many of those lately.

Via LGF.

UPDATE: Don't be put off of seeing this movie, by any means: it's great. It's got some plot weaknesses and timing issues here and there, but if you have the slightest appreciation for the visually storytelling art, you will not be disappointed—this is one of the most beautiful, visually rewarding movies I've seen in a long, long time. Every scene, every composition, heck—every frame seemed to have been carefully sculpted with the perfect lighting and balance and color depth such that you could take any random freeze-frame from any point in the movie and make it into a comic book cover or a poster. It's just a stunning treat for the eyes. And that's not even to mention all the little gags and injokes, like the photo of Superman hefting that car over his head à la the old Action Comics debut cover.

The design sense that pervades the movie does the concept perfect justice: you can never quite tell when it's taking place, as there are vintage cars on the streets and Art Deco murals in the Daily Planet building, while at the same time flat-panel TVs hang from every interior column and Lois Lane drives an Audi A3 (great, now everyone's gonna want one). The upshot is that it seems the movie takes place Whenever. Which is perfect.

Kevin Spacey does a better Luthor than Gene Hackman ever did—he's far creepier in his dark humor, even to the point where I'd say he's displaced Nicholson's Joker as the gold standard. His slapsticky henchmen don't quite fit the matter-of-fact, true-to-life texture of this film as they did in the campier earlier ones, but they make it work by laying on just enough of the "We're a little crazy and we know it". I could have done without the dog-eating-the-other-dog bit, though. Bleaugh.

Brandon Routh has a pretty laid-back performance, but he's such a dead ringer for Christopher Reeve—right down to the facial structure, the Everymannish voice, and the shape of his smile—that we can well believe he was consumed more with imitating Reeve's mannerisms than with establishing his own acting language. Perhaps next time he'll put more of himself into it. But for now we can enjoy the performance for what it is, which is to say a return to the form that worked so well back in the day.

And above all, there's no politics to worry about. It's not like Superman is battling against global warming or theocracy, or even nuclear weapons (this movie will wash away all painful memories of the latter). The omission of the "American Way" bit doesn't bug me in the context of the movie—the line is dashed off as a casual aside by a minor character, and it would have sounded out of place and pompous if he'd said the whole thing, whether the filmmakers were Michael Moore fans or Rush Limbaugh listeners. I think it's lame that they had to go on record explaining that they explicitly avoided the line because they found it embarrassing, but let me be clear: it doesn't stand in the way of the enjoyment of a perfectly good, apolitical summer blockbuster.

Thursday, June 29, 2006
15:31 - Wash Me
http://www.autoblog.com/2006/06/29/wash-me-taken-to-a-new-level-the-dust-art-of-scot

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Awesome:



There's more.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
11:51 - So this is what it's like
http://patterico.com/2006/06/27/4785/are-the-nyt-and-lat-editors-starting-to-realize

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This is a police state, is it? This is a fascist dictatorship? This is the reincarnation of Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia?

To think that all this time I hadn't realized that in a police state, the way the government "controlled" the media was by pleading with them not to publish classified information. Or that the media could refuse and publish anyway, because they know they can't be touched.

Sheesh. What were all those wussy Germans and Russians afraid of?

UPDATE: Pwned.

Monday, June 26, 2006
17:27 - I'm sure it's just a "handful of extremists"

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Well, this has sure got me depressed. So all I can do is share the wealth.

Via Doug M.


16:28 - Night at the Train Wrecksbury
http://deluxegames.net/swf/game_325.swf

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The Internet hurts my brain.


13:35 - Hail the conquering hero
http://www.laughingplace.com/News-ID510530.asp

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From the sound of things, John Lasseter is continuing to be every animation and Disney afficionado's dream come true:

Disney officials have now confirmed to me that Lasseter, after reviewing projects currently in development at Feature Animation, singled out at least two works now brewing that could be appropriate for being produced in traditional hand-drawn animation. This wasn’t some strategic move spurred by the synergy or net-present value of anything, but a solid artistic choice made with calm and intelligence and good old common sense. In a town where sense is neither common nor actually sensible, I vote for everyone drinking the same water as John Lasseter.

. . .

Imagine this, a studio creative chief who not only has brought back into the fold the creative team that single handedly revived the art of great storytelling with The Little Mermaid, but gave them free reign to craft the story on their own without bringing in a screenwriter from outside, and then offered them a choice, repeat – a choice of what look they thought was best for their film. At this stage John Lasseter could all but insist on a revival of Snow White in live action starring Demi Moore and he’d still go down in recent history as the greatest visionary leader feature animation has had since Walt!

Of course, this means these first couple of Lasseter-led films had better be great, because the man's got a lot of press to live up to now.

One gripe, though: "free reign". Gaaah! It's free rein. REIN! You know, like a horse's reins. Giving him free rein. Get it? Aaargh! I don't think I have seen anyone use this phrase correctly in the last five years!

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