Monday, February 28, 2005

And the Oscar goes to...

Well, yet again, the Academy displayed their annual mutual admiration society awards for all to see. And, once again, they didn't disappoint in revealing their mastery of cluelessness, self-absorption, arrogance, and vacuousness.

Let me be upfront here. I've studied film & theater in both the undergraduate and graduate level. I've studied acting at a small, regional but well-respected theater group, and I attended a few screenwriting workshops at an Ivy League institution. I did screenwriting for several years, and I was involved in the music industry for over a decade. I'm someone who was (and in someways, still is) immersed in the arts, and who for awhile dreamed of winning one or more of the "Big 4" awards.

I document this not to toot my own horn, nor as a precursor of picked sour grapes. Instead, I disclose this to show that I have I lot of knowledge, love and respect for the arts. But, I am also able to distance myself (and it gets easier with age) from the hype and hoopla that comes with the territory.

Separate for a moment the arguments on whether one film or acting role is "better" or "more deserving" than another. That's beside the point. Rather, take a look at the types of role and the types of film that get honored (in both the nomination and the winning phases).

I've stated in previous posts that, by far, the best film for 2004 was "The Passion of the Christ." It was bold, it was controversial, it was cinematically breathtaking, it was emotionally wringing, it was truthful, it was successful (despite all that was against it), and it stepped beyond the bounds of typical movie magic and became for most viewers an unforgettable and moving experience.

But, while "The Passion" was practically ignored in the nomination process (only having been nominated in Cinematography, Makeup, and Original Score), and was shut out for even those well-deserved awards, what were the films and roles that "The Academy" chose to honor and admire?

Vera Drake - which glorifies abortion

Million Dollar Baby - which justifies euthanasia

Closer - which takes sexual perversion to an even lower level

Kinsey - which honors a demented pervert

Sideways - (a film that, for the most part, I enjoyed) to a certain extent mocks the institution of marriage

Maria Full Of Grace - which turns the holy and prayerful phrase "Hail Mary Full of Grace" into a film title about a drug "mule"

are the types of films and roles that Hollywood holds up for honor and adulation??? They seem to go out of their way to praise films and roles that either tear apart or mock the family, the faithful, the middle class, the military, the American ideal, the honorable, the virtuous, the religious, the good.

It's a damning testimony, and it's nothing new (American Beauty was "best" picture for 1999???... oh, please).

And they still just don't get it.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The 10 Underreported Stories of 2004

WND posted their annual list of the Top 10 Most Underreported News Stories for 2004. It's an intriguing list, including:

* Sandy Berger's stuffing of classified FBI files in his pants.

* The U.S. border issues.

* The U.N. Oil-for-Fraud... ummm, Food program.

* And the full extent of the on-going Darfur tragedy (a Rwanda redux).

It's definitely worth the read, and there are related links.

Also, in 2003, their #4 underreported story was one that should be in the Top 10 every year:

4. Persecution of Christians worldwide, especially those in countries seen as "friends" of the U.S.

Once again, one of the establishment press' great unreported stories this year has been the extent and brutality of persecution of Christians around the world – even in nations America considers friendly, moderate, "partners" in the war on terror.

As it has in previous years, WorldNetDaily reported during 2003 on the widespread persecution of Christians around the world, in "unfriendly" places, such as:

* The sad story of the Palestinian Christian who was slaughtered by Islamic extremists and his body returned to his Palestinian wife and two small children – in four pieces; and

* The Christian pastor in Sudan who was burned to death, along with his family, by military forces led by that nations' militant Islamist regime. In all, this particular massacre resulted in the deaths of 59 unarmed villagers.

But increasingly on our radar were stories of the persecution, imprisonment and murder of Christians in so-called "friendly" nations. A few examples:

* A 15-year-old Pakistani Christian boy named Zeeshan Gill was kidnapped and taken to a strict Islamic religious school where he was beaten until he converted to Islam. His captors warned if he tried to flee or return to Christianity, they would kill him.

* A Chinese Christian man named Zhang Yi-nan was severely beaten after arriving at a "re-education through labor" camp. Another Chinese Christian, Xiao Bi-guang, charged with "subverting" the Chinese government and "socialist system" was released from prison after publicity from his case elicited the prayers and protests of Christians worldwide. In fact, Xiao attributed his release to reports on the Internet, saying a policeman asked him: "How did you get your story on the Internet?"

* A court in Egypt acquitted nearly all 96 suspects charged with killing atrocities that resulted in the deaths of 21 Christians.

* And in Pakistan, America's "partner" in the terror war, a Pakistani court issued a sentence of life imprisonment to an illiterate Christian man charged with writing defamatory words about Islam's prophet Muhammad. Aslam Masih, a shepherd from the village of Mammun Kanjun in Pakistan's Faisalabad district, had been sentenced under the country's notorious blasphemy law. The 46-year-old Masih was accused of writing blasphemous words about Islam's founder on an amulet tied around the neck of a dog to help it win a dogfight. Ultimately, the court dismissed the life sentence.

Number two for 2003 was:

2. NASA's use of a green-friendly but inferior material on heat shields that broke up prior to the shuttle disaster

One day after last February's tragic re-entry explosion of the Columbia space shuttle, WorldNetDaily revealed in an exclusive report that the irreparable launch-time damage to the external tank's foam insulation, which broke free and slammed into the leading edge of the left wing, was likely due to environmental correctness.

With the help of internal NASA documents, WND showed that for the past six years America's federal space agency has used a more "environmentally friendly" – and inferior – material for foam insulation.

"In other words," WND founder Joseph Farah wrote in July, "human lives and millions of dollars in technology were put at risk because of the environmental fad."

Back in 1997, wrote Farah, during the 87th space shuttle mission, similar tile damage to the Columbia's was experienced during launch when the external tank foam crashed into some tiles during the stress of takeoff. Although the damage in that case was not catastrophic, investigators then noted the damage followed changes in the methods of "foaming" the external tank – changes mandated by concerns about being "environmentally friendly."

Here's what that NASA report said: "During the ... mission, there was a change made on the external tank. Because of NASA's goal to use environmentally friendly products, a new method of 'foaming' the external tank had been used for this mission and the (previous) mission. It is suspected that large amounts of foam separated from the external tank and impacted the orbiter. This caused significant damage to the protective tiles of the orbiter."

Ultimately, NASA's more environmentally friendly "foaming" methods ended in one of the great tragedies of 2003.

In 2002 (following the "environmental" note):

Congressional hearing proves questionable environmental science contributed to World Trade Center towers' early collapse.

WorldNetDaily's Whistleblower magazine reported that the original design for the twin towers stipulated asbestos covering for the steel support beams.

Environmentalists, however, objected to the use of the fire retardant material and New York City enacted a ban on its use during the time of the towers' construction in 1971, as pointed out during a June 2002 congressional hearing. Had it not been for the poorly installed insulation and the lack of asbestos in the upper floors of the towers, scientists testifying before Congress agreed, the towers would have stayed standing longer, undoubtedly saving many lives as occupants would have had time to escape.

"Asbestos was an early victim of junk science and enviro-fear propaganda," said Arthur Robinson, who is also a founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Environmental activists "were joined by opportunistic lawyers and businessmen who reaped large profits from the anti-asbestos program. There was not a shred of evidence that insulating buildings with asbestos was harmful to human health," he added.

Those last two "environmental" stories go under the phrase: "Something I did not know."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Yes... it's been awhile.

Sorry for the long drought of posts. Real life has a tendancy to sneak up on you. I've just been busy with my 9-to-5 job, plus.... other things.

I haven't seen any new movies since "Sideways," so there hasn't been anything for me to review.

The weather here in Southern California has just been plain nasty. For awhile there I was seriously considering building an Ark (if only I knew what a "cubit" was).

I came very close - verrrrrrry close - to posting at length on one of the hot button social issues in today's culture. I was promtped by a recent episode of "ER" (a TV show I only watch because of Maura Tierney, I might add). After a few days had passed, I decided to hold off on making my post. I just felt that I wasn't quite ready yet to take that serious commentary leap. Although, I may do so in the future.

It's basically centered around the false ideal in today's society that some individuals would rather reject love for acceptance... and not acceptance of themselves as persons, but acceptance of their lifestyle - as if that was the sole defining characteristic of themselves as human beings. They'll even go so far as to quote Jesus in the bible, but they always cherry pick their quotes, taking passages out of context. And they always leave out the last few words of Jesus in John 8:11.

But, that detailed and heartfelt commentary will be saved for another day.

Until next time... hang in there. Winter's almost over.

And I promise to push myself to post here more often.