Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pablo's Pablum

Pablo Juarez commented on Hannity Uses Chicago's Epidemic Of Violence To Hate Monger Against Louis Farrakhan Again 2 hours ago · Flag
Joshua…yes, I was well aware of the cesspool of attitude I was walking into. It is just too easy to rile up the hornets nest with a few facts and questions. Call them out and they go nuts on you. The ironic part of this website is that the people on it don’t realize that how they act is a psychological disorder. If they would in fact read a book (a stretch at times) called “The Liberal Mind” by Dr. Lyle Rossiter, MD they would probably understand their own dysfunctional attitude of hate mongering and name calling. I truly feel sorry for them. Have a great rest of your day!
 Pablo Juarez commented on Hannity Uses Chicago's Epidemic Of Violence To Hate Monger Against Louis Farrakhan Again 3 hours ago · Flag
Joshua, you must be a heartless person to present so many references for people to chew on and think about. ;)
 Pablo Juarez commented on Hannity Uses Chicago's Epidemic Of Violence To Hate Monger Against Louis Farrakhan Again 5 hours ago · Flag
It must feel so good for you to pat yourselves on the back and wallow in your cesspool. Documented…as in MSNBC said so? Would love to see actual facts and not the “gee I was on vacation but since you said so it must be true.” The problem is you cannot produce something tangible let alone credible. The gravity of your ignorance leads to your own liberal demise. The amount of integrity in Sean Hannity’s little toe is more than this entire anger filled site has combined. mlp…as for energized, I appreciate the compliment. As a person of self reliance energized and self motivation are to be admired. Foreign concepts I know. If I’ve raised the IQ or the blood pressure of the fact forgetting members on this site, well then the world is a better place. Enjoy your little hate fest. It must make each of you feel so good!
Pablo Juarez commented on Hannity Uses Chicago's Epidemic Of Violence To Hate Monger Against Louis Farrakhan Again 7 hours ago · Flag
Actually I read quite well. I think the failure to read and your need to explain and defend is obvious. Gee I’m on vacation and do not know what happened, but I am sure of one thing. Really?? As I previously stated, when you don’t know the facts and come to an opinion, you have simply skipped the most important step….critical thinking. It must be awfully dark in that hate filled world you live. Hope you have a better day!
Pablo Juarez commented on Hannity Uses Chicago's Epidemic Of Violence To Hate Monger Against Louis Farrakhan Again 7 hours ago · Flag
Lakeview:……Oh goody, a guessing game. Let me guess….Liberal Lemmings? No? Oh, you meant two words about me. I thought you had two words about yourself for me. Let’s see…..critical thinker…..objective observer….no? Not what you were thinking? Oh, that’s right. I keep forgetting the standing approach of the liberal when facts or critical thinking get in the way of your opinions…you use profanity, name calling and general insults. Bravo Sir.
Pablo Juarez commented on Hannity Uses Chicago's Epidemic Of Violence To Hate Monger Against Louis Farrakhan Again 10 hours ago · Flag
Mlp, spoken as a true Chicagoan….“I don’t know what I’m talking about but I’m certain about my opinion” Ignorance is bliss isn’t it mlp…the world just works for you. Maybe if you read the book by Dr. Lyle Rossiter “The Liberal Mind” you would see what makes yourself tick. Dr. Rossiter is spot on. Farrakhan is not worth my time to comment on.
Pablo Juarez commented on Hannity Uses Chicago's Epidemic Of Violence To Hate Monger Against Louis Farrakhan Again 19 hours ago · Flag
Wow…I think I just felt many brain cells die from reading your blathering. I think you owe me money for my wasted time.

New Trailer for Skyfall Has Arrived!

007 dead? M gone rogue? The return of Q? And a villain that's actually really scary? Here it is, the new trailer for the next Bond adventure, Skyfall!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Dark Knight Trilogy

Tonight at midnight, director Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy comes to an end with the release of The Dark Knight Rises. I'll be there at the midnight show, waiting to see how it all ends, but before that, I'm going to review the first two chapters in Nolan's series, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Batman Begins - Let's go back a few decades. After Tim Burton released the follow-up to 1989's Batman with Batman Returns, Warner Bros demoted Burton to a producing role due to the dark and violent nature of the 1992 sequel, in hopes to make the Caped Crusader more accessible to mainstream viewers (see: more family friendly). Joel Schumacher was hired as director and already, there was issues with the greenlit sequel. First, Schumacher wanted to adapt Frank Miller's graphic novel of the Batman legend, titled Batman: Year One into a prequel of Bruce Wayne's origins and how he became the costumed vigilante. The studio shot the idea down because they wanted a sequel and because they wanted eight and ten year-old boys watching the movies, along with their parents. Second, Michael Keaton - who played Batman in the first two films, decided not to return for the next installment, claiming he was unhappy with the new direction the series was going. A few days later, Val Kilmer was brought on to play Wayne and his alter ego. Lastly was the in-fighting between the actors and Schumacher; most notably between him and Kilmer. Batman Forever was released in the summer of 1995, and to huge success: Forever made $184 million in North America and $152 million overseas, bringing the total to $336 million globally, surpassing Returns and  was the 2nd highest grossing movie in North America in that year (the highest was Pixar's debut feature, Toy Story). Reviews were mixed, as some critics liked the campy, visual look and feel of Batman's world, while others disliked how the series sold out it's dark, harrowing and haunting nature for something that would be more approachable for younger audiences and their families.

Then came Batman and Robin, the movie that (still) puts a shiver down the spine of every comic book fan, and every movie geek out there, and the movie that i'm certain George Clooney would take back, had he know just how badly he and the rest of the cast would damage the Batman name. I'm going to keep this brief because going into a synopsis of this...thing would drive me mad, so here are the bullet points you need to know:

  • First off, you're probably wondering why I mentioned George Clooney and not Val Kilmer? The beef between Kilmer and returning director Schumacher was so bad that Kilmer refused to return for the fourth installment, with Clooney taking his place.
  • Schumacher wanted to pay homage to the camp value of the 1960's television show starring Adam West as Batman, which explains the casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and those terrible ice puns ("What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!").
  • Warner Bros, basking in the success of Batman Forever, demanded that the filmmakers begin immediately on the sequel, which started August of 1996 and ended January of 1997, two weeks ahead of schedule.
  • The fourth installment was released in June of '97, but to abysmal reviews and a very disappointing box office run (it finished with just under $110 million, due to the negative word of mouth after the first week of it's release).
  • Many people involved, including co-star Chris O' Donnell as Robin and the director himself were apologetic for the movie. Clooney himself vowed that he would never play this character again, and for that, we are all very thankful.
After the Batman and Robin fiasco, the studio had been attempting to reboot the series, but with no success. There was plans for a fifth entry, titled Batman Triumphant, but due to the backlash of the fourth, the project was shelved. Had it been green-lit, Clooney, O'Donnell and Schumacher would have been attached to the project (sure dodged a bullet there). Later on, Warner Bros. made another attempt in 2000 with Batman: Year One. the studio hired Darren Aronofsky to write and direct the reboot based on the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller, but just two years later, the studio shelved the project.

This (finally) leads us to Christopher Nolan. In 2003, Warner Bros tried yet again to reboot the franchise and this time, it finally took! Nolan was hired to direct and co-write with David S. Goyer. Their aim was a for a more realistic and darker atmosphere and to take the series down to bare basics: the untold story of Bruce Wayne himself. Nolan wanted the audience to care about Mr. Wayne and his alter-ego, and in 2005, he did just that.

Batman Begins, right from the start, doesn't open with Bruce's alter-ego, fighting crime or watching Gotham at night like a hawk. Nolan wisely catches the young Mr. Wayne (a terrific performance by Christian Bale) in the act of exploring the criminal underworld: what makes him or her tick and why does a criminal commit crimes like theft and/or murder. His journey begins the moment he loses his parents, as they were gunned down by a drifter looking to score some money. His journey takes him far way from the mean, gritty streets of Gotham to a remote location in Asia, where he is brought under the tutelage of Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) and the mysterious League of Shadows, an ancient organization determined to bring about true justice around the world, lead by Ras Al Ghul (Ken Wantanabe). There, Wayne learns how to confront his fear and use it as a weapon to prey on the criminal underworld. Wayne decides to come out of his self-exile and returns to Gotham, a changed man, ready to take on the criminal underworld that has taken over the city. With the assistance of his loyal butler Alfred (a wonderful Michael Cane), the sly hi-tech/gadgets/weapons manufacturer Lucius Fox (a sly Morgan Freeman), the crusading DA assistant and childhood friend Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) and the city's good cop Sargent Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), Bruce becomes The Batman and takes on the head the Falcone crime family (Tom Wilkinson) and Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy) a shrink who isn't on the level with Rachel, the law, or his practice.

I have said before in many reviews that character overload usually dooms a movie, and trust me, this film is filled with characters, especially on the villain side. Yet, Nolan gives time for all the players to have their moment in the sun and their onscreen time has weight and it flows within the story. The pacing is just right, allowing characters to come in and out with just the right amount of time and for the story to evolve with them. The set pieces are extraordinary, in particular, the city of Gotham. On the surface, Gotham has the look and feel of a thriving metropolis, but on the inside, the city is rotting and dying. Mobsters, thugs and corrupt bureaucrats take what they want and terrorize the helpless, and no one says a word out of fear. The wealthy and privileged wine and dine and ignore the plights of others, while the rest are left to fend for themselves. It's a world that feels very much like our own, like Nolan is forcing the audience to stare at a mirror image of what we've become.

Probably the film's downside was Katie Holmes as Dawes. I imagine Dawes as a tough, sassy fighter who doesn't scare easy, not the soft-spoken assistant for the city's justice department which Holmes provides. That and the film's third act, which the action sequence with Batman trying to stop the League from poisoning Gotham's water supply basically turns into the standard, yet thrilling race to stop the madman from destroying the city. It's still a nice climax, but it's shorter than I would have liked. Other than those minor complaints, Batman Begins is a dark, compelling and thoroughly satisfying re-imagining of Batman and his quest to save the city from itself. Simply, this is the Batman movie we've been waiting for and deserved to see realized on the big screen......who knew, though, that this reboot was only just the start of what Nolan would deliver?
***1/2 stars out of ****

The Dark Knight - How do you expand upon what was introduced in 2005 with Batman Begins? How does writer/director Christopher Nolan continue Batman's journey in saving Gotham City from itself? The answer lies in a line of dialogue Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) utters at a dinner between playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne (once again played by Bale) and DA assistant Rachel Dawes (now played by Maggie Gyllenhall): "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain." This  statement alone will test Wayne's commitment to being Gotham's watchful protector, and it eventually paints a weary Wayne who wonders if all his efforts are really moving the city toward a better tomorrow. This statement will also test Gotham's new District Attorney as everything he cares about and it will test Jim Gordon (Oldman) and the deals he's willing to make for the greater good. This statement lies at the heart of Nolan's sprawling and epic crime drama/sequel to his Batman trilogy. A criminal mastermind known only as The Joker (Heath Ledger, in his last completed work before his untimely death in 2008) comes into Gotham, just as Batman, Gordon and Dent are on the cusp of delivering a final blow to the Falcone crime family that has long terrorized the city, by hitting them where it hurts: their pocketbooks. At first, this psychotic clown robs from the mob for kicks, but this, as it turns out, was merely done to get their attention. his ultimate goal is anarchy: complete and total anarchy. He kidnaps and kills Gotham's important citizens, such as the Commissioner, a Judge, etc. and blows up hospitals and he hijacks boats for his own amusement.

Behind his trail of death and madness, there is a method and point behind his vile and sadistic nature. The scene where him and Batman square off in a detention facility is as thrilling as any action sequence Nolan conjures up, and that's including where Wayne and CEO Lucius Fox (Freeman) travel to Hong Kong and pick up a key accountant for the mob who holds all their dirty money due to the fact that the city is beyond Dent's jurisdiction, or the chase sequence in Downtown Gotham that's a total showstopper. Despite the action, which is top-notch, The Dark Knight is hunting bigger game. Nolan is out to expand out themes he laid the groundwork in Batman Begins; he's out to show not only the rotting society that we're becoming, but to show to what ends are we willing to take in order to do to save it or, in this case, to stop a lose cannon like the Joker. All of our characters are caught in moral and ethical traps that there are no escape from, and it leaves the audience with questions on whether they did or are doing the right things. All the characters bring their A-game and no performance is wasted. Aaron Eckhart is the unsung hero in this movie, showing his fall from grace as tragic and downright frighting into the lost, revenge-filled monster he succumbs to. Michael Cane is wonderful as Alfred, trying to serve as a father-figure Bruce never really received as a child, and as his faithful advisor on Wayne's journey. I really can't say enough about Christian Bale as Bruce/Batman, other than he is the character we've been waiting to see: a battle-worn man who's nearing his breaking point.

The actor who triumphs in The Dark Knight is, of course, the late Heath Ledger as the Joker. We've seen him in good to terrific roles before (The Patriot, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale, Brokeback Mountain) but his role as this criminal mastermind is nothing short of astonishing and chilling. His commitment to the role, the way he threw himself into this character - from the voice, to the makeup which made him damn-near unrecognizable, to the bone-chilling cackling laugh - this is a performance that comes around in a blue moon, where an artist leaves everything he has in a performance for all to witness. This is, to me, one of the great performances that I have ever seen in film. The Dark Knight is a movie of the rarest kind: it's a terrific piece of pop entertainment, a haunting and thrilling crime drama that ranks with Scorsese's Mean Streets and Michael Mann's Heat, a thought-provoking social commentary, and a movie that raises every bar - superhero genre, summer film, crime-thriller - and asks every other movie to match it's epic scope. It is simply, a masterpiece.

**** stars out of **** 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rush Doesn't Know Jack About Comics

In January of 1993, comic book writers Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench and Graham Nolan created a new villain for the Batman in Bane: a super villain who is every way his equal in terms of intelligence and brute strength, and in the Knightfall story arc, his stamp was cemented by becoming the villain who "broke the Bat". In the upcoming third and final sequel to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, Bane makes his onscreen appearance, played by British actor Tom Hardy. It took me all but 5-7 minutes to do research on the history of the fictional comic book villain (a good half-hour reading about the back story of this character in reality), and I doubt it would have killed Rush Limbaugh if he actually did before mouthing off that Christopher Nolan purposely made up Bane to make a political statement about presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital.
RUSH: Have you heard this new movie, the Batman movie, what is it, The Dark Knight Lights Up or whatever the name is. That's right, Dark Knight Rises. Lights Up, same thing. Do you know the name of the villain in this movie? Bane. The villain in The Dark Knight Rises is named Bane, B-a-n-e. What is the name of the venture capital firm that Romney ran and around which there's now this make-believe controversy? Bain. The movie has been in the works for a long time. The release date's been known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious fire breathing four eyed whatever it is villain in this movie is named Bane?
That's right, Rush: Screenwriters David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan and his brother, Jonathan knew that Mitt Romney would run for President in 2012, knew that the Occupy Wall Street movement would rise out of nowhere and hold public protests in response to the decades-long policies that favored corporate greed over the common citizen, and created a character that would stick it to Romney in the middle of the 2012 Elections! I wish I were making this up. This is the new crackpot conspiracy theory Rush has thrown out into the ether of right-wing talking points for the brainless followers to latch onto and repeat ad-nauseum, I shit you not.

Jonathan Goes To the Movies: The (Less-Than) Amazing Spider-Man

When a movie series goes stale, or when the filmmakers royally fuck said series up, it is the universal signal that the series has nothing left to give and the studio is going to let it go off into the sunset. Now, in recent years, movie studios have opted to inject life into a fledgling franchise by offering up a re-telling of the origins of our favorite protagonist(s); most notably, director, co-writer and producer Christopher Nolan's re-imagining of Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego, Batman with the Dark Knight trilogy, beginning in 2005 with Batman Begins. This version went down darker avenues than the previous installments and really dove into the psyche of the tormented vigilante. More impressively, the world of Gotham City took on a more noir-type feel, where crime and corruption rot away at a city that's dying from the inside. In short: Nolan breathed life into a franchise that all-but makes up for Batman and Robin.

Another example of a series returning to relevance is Ian Flemming's 007 series. After Pierce Brosnan swung out with The World Is Not Enough in 1999 and ended his Bond run with the equally dismal Die Another Day in 2002, Brosnan walked away from the gig in 2004, leaving speculation as to whom would take the mantle of the MI6 agent who's known for stopping the villain of the week, the wacky inventions Q makes for him, the Aston Martin/BMW he drives, and for fucking anything with a vagina. It wasn't until Universal's success with the Jason Bourne movies, The Bourne Identity in 2002 and The Bourne Supremacy in 2004 and Nolan's reboot of the Batman series in 2005 that made distributors Metro-Golden-Mayor and Sony Pictures scrapped what the audience loved about 007 and took it's cues from Bourne and the new Batman. The end result was actor Daniel Crag winning the gig, hiring Martin Campbell to direct Bond 21 (who previously directed the thrilling Goldeneye in 1995) and Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis (Crash) to write the screenplay. Titled Casino Royale (the first Bond movie to follow Flemming's novels since On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969), the 2006 reboot eliminated the gadgets, the sex, even Bond's drink of choice, in lieu of a more grittier, tougher and vunurable 007 who's just been given a licensed to kill. Critics, audiences and fanboys applauded the job the filmmakers did, and many have hailed Craig as the best Bond since Sean Connery. 

From Batman and Bond, to Marvel Studio's The Incredible Hulk and J.J. Abrams re-telling of James Kirk and his crew aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, reboots now serve the purpose of re-telling a story in new, fresh, and exciting ways, and they prove that taking beloved characters into new realms can make audiences forgive the flaws of past installments. I'm assuming that was the thinking behind Sony and Marvel Entertainment re-booting the Spider-Man franchise after Sam Rami fucked it up with 2007's bloated Spider-Man 3, in which audiences and fanboys revolted in horror and rage on how Rami could screw up Venom and turn Peter Parker from loveable, puppy-eyed superhero to a whiny, pretentious, uncaring douchebag/dork who looks like he should ditch the hero business and go on tour with that equally pretentious douchebag Gerald Way of My Chemical Romance. 

Gone are Maguire, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, and Rami's stylistic and colorful vision of the Webslinger, and in it's place is Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker, Emma Stone (The Help) as Gwen Stacy and Marc Webb, who previously directed the indie-romcom hit (500) Days of Summer taking on the reboot. Right from the beginning, this version goes down darker avenues. In Rami's version, we learn fuck-all about Peter's parents. In the opening scene, we see Parker's mother and father leaving him with Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) with Peter watching them leave in the rain-soaked night. In Garfield's hands, he brings a more emotionally scarred Parker to the table, and his alter ego is more of an arrogant dick than the goody two-shoes attitude we got with Maguire's Spider-Man. Unlike in Rami's version, the audience sees the battle scars on Parker as he becomes the less-than friendly neighborhood arachnid youth crime fighter, and he looks like hell through most of it. It's almost like Webb and screenwriters James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent (who penned the last two Spider-Man movies) and Harry Potter scribe Steve Kloves took the edginess of Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and transferred it into this film. Even the villain, Dr. Curt Conners (Rhys Isfan) is plagued with dark secrets of his own, as it ties to the disappearance of Parker's mother and father.

Having said all this, there is one key ingredient to any re-boot of a franchise: you have to give the audience something new; a unique and engaging vision of where you're taking the series. As stated before, Nolan transformed Gotham City into something that came out of a film noir, and with Batman, a deeply conflicted man caught up in his "monster" alter-ego and dealing with the death of his parents, to which he still feels responsible for after all these years. Abrams, with Star Trek, gave us the origin story of James Kirk, not as captain of the Enterprise, but as this arrogant cadet yearning to prove himself, and Spock; not as second in command of the vessel or as Kirk's trusted friend and confidant, but as his rival, as someone who dislikes his leap without looking philosophy. With The Amazing Spider-Man, the movie plays, almost note for note, Rami's 2002 version of Spider-Man:

Peter is the high school outcast.
He's head over heels for a girl who barely notices him. 
He gets bitten by a radioactive spider, which mutates his DNA and gives him superhuman-like abilities, around the same time when the antagonist has an accident of his own trying to reach the peak of the human physical condition.
Tragedy strikes and Peter loses Uncle Ben, thus vowing vengeance on the man responsible, then comes to an epiphany and begins to use his powers to thwart crime.
Blah, blah, blah.

The tone and feel of The Amazing Spider-Man may be different, but the story is waaaaaay too familiar and it was done better the first time.

** stars out of ****

Monday, July 9, 2012

Caption This

"Well Since Nobody's Here I Wonder If I Can Smoke"
"Why Did I put my name on a book geared towards people who can't read?"
"Did the same person who writes Mom's books write this one as well?"

Friday, July 6, 2012

Being Bained

I realized, just a couple of days ago, why Mitt Romney's lucrative shenanigans at Bain Capital, ever-so-far from being job creation, came as no huge surprise to me. It was because the company I worked for a little over a decade ago had gotten shnookered into a Bain-like vortex of its own, by a similarly predatory company, with devastating results for families and communities across several states.

At the time, I worked for a small, home-grown provider of traffic software for radio stations. No, not the automotive kind: "traffic," in radio, refers to how you schedule a client's advertisements. What segments of the day ("daypart") in which they appear, with what frequency, at what rate, and in sync with whatever sister stations might be on the same system. Like many of our competitors, the company had become a commercial concern after its owners - partners in a small local radio station - wrote a program that met their needs and realized its potential. They were one of our rural town's largest employers and attracted skilled professionals to what was otherwise a fading mill town, boosting both commerce and the tax base.

And then the Bain clone descended in 2000 or thereabouts. Slick New York suits completely out of place on the casual Oregon coast. They had a plan to make themselves plenty of money, and they dangled enough of it in front of the owners - who had heretofore taken a downright paternal and protective (if overly patriarchal, for my taste) attitude toward their employees - that they couldn't say no.

I knew that the new marketing guy they planned to install was clueless about technology marketing from the moment I met him. His idea of effective high-tech PR was to send fruit baskets to editors. It was plain to me that I couldn't work with him and wouldn't be remotely happy or effective if I tried to, so I quit, despite best efforts by the departing management to persuade me to stay.

He wasn't bothered. Because, actually, at the same time, they were in negotiations to also buy out our other U.S. competitors. Initially it was just one, even smaller than us, in Alabama. There were the usual reassurances that it would be business as usual, just two sites coordinating with one another.

Then it was the much larger competitor in Idaho. Alongside a purchase of several radio networks who would be mandated, it seemed, to purchase the new juggernaut's software: profit coming and going for the entity pulling the strings.

And then the positions began to be eliminated…the buildings shuttered…the organization centralized. The 1% rides high, the 2% immediately below who sold out retire and try to hide the shame I hope they have the decency to feel, and the 98% are left in communities with a failing tax base, probably mortgages that are now underwater, and little to no employment available at the skilled level for which they were hired.

About a month after I quit, I ran into one of the owners (the only one not a brother, but a close friend, of the co-owning family) in the market. We chatted in produce, and he told me, "You know, you were right. You saw coming what we all missed."

Let's hope the electorate sees the same in Mittens and keeps this clown a country mile from the White House.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

An Independence Day List. 10 Favorite Things That Have Come From Engand.

It's been 236 mostly wonderful years since we fought and won our independence from our British cousins and in those 236 years we have become practically family again. So to celebrate our 236th birthday I thought I would salute Britain With what I consider the 10 best contributions she's made to the world.

10. Flush Toilet. Go ahead and laugh but can you imagine a world without one? We aren't talking something useless that we don't think we can live with out like a cellphone here. Unless of course you are one who enjoys disposing of your own waste. Thanks in large part to inventions like the flush toilet sanitary conditions that have historically lead to plagues and death no longer occur. Today for most of us the only reminder of how great the flush toilet is the odd tourist park outhouse and lets face it those things aren't place to tell your friends about...or use if you can help it.

9. Matt Monro. You know somebody is a great singer when they sing a jingle about bowling and you want to hear it over and over again. Thanks in part to being saddled with one of the most ludicrous nicknames in the history of the music business (the British Sinatra)  here in the United States Matt Monro was never a star and always regarded as a second rate Sinatra. The Truth is Monro wasn't an anything Sinatra but there weren't many singers in America or anywhere else for that matter, who were in Monro's league either.  Most of Monro's British hits Walk Away, Born Free, Softly As I leave You, etc were covered by American artists and on occasion Monro even got the better of the best of them.  Listen to Monro's versions of Born Free and Softly As I Leave You and then listen to Old Blue Eye's. Even the most ardent Sinatra fan has to admit Monro's versions are Superior. Monro whom is probably best known in the states for singing the theme song to the second James Bond film From Russia With Love deserves to have his music rediscovered in the United States and praised on it's own VERY lofty merits.

8. 70's Sitcoms That Became American Classics. Do the shows Till Death Do Us Part and Steptoe and Son ring a bell? How about All In The Family and Sanford And Son do those sound more familiar? That latter two classic American 70's Sitcoms came into the world as British sitcoms Till Death Do Us Part and Steptoe and Son. The British versions while still being comedy's were more dramatic than their American counterparts but with out British TV we would not have 2 of the best shows in the history of American Television.Of course with out the next invention from Britain on my list we wouldn't have any sitcoms, dramas, action shows, mysteries, or Westerns at least not that we could see with our eyes.

7. Television. OK maybe not as necessary as the flush toilet but life wouldn't be much with out it would it? Even if what's on the TV is in increasing frequency pretty much the same as what's in the Flush Toilet. Again for most of us life with out a TV is unthinkable although I can remember life with say 5 or 6 channels instead 9,765 of them. Unlike the flush toilet the TV has it's down side. We don't read anymore. We're fat asses, our imaginations are shit and we tend to gravitate towards things we either hate, make us mad, or depressed like cable news but even with it's huge downside the Television is our faithful friend always there when we need it and deserves it's rightful place on this list.

6. Peter Sellers/Pink Panther. Much like Matt Monro Peter Sellers left this world much too soon (both were 54) and he was a genius. Sellers had some brilliant movies outside of the Pink Panther Comedies Dr. Strangelove, The Mouse That Roared, Etc but his performance as the inept Inspector Jaques Clouseau would be his most recognizable role. The Pink Panther movies with out Sellers are ordinary to bad (look at how bad they've been since his passing) but with Sellers even the worst is solid entertainment.  A scene in The best (IMHO) Pink Panther film  A Shot In The Dark demonstrated Sellers genius. As a house full of people began to fight with one another Sellers simply turns around and looks at the Camera and it's all but impossible to not bust out laughing.

5. Family. Almost all of us have either family or ancestors who are British. Of course without them there probably wouldn't not have been us. I have an aunt who was born in England. Many of my Mother's people come from Scotland and the UK.

4. Beatles and 60's rock Music. The Impact the Beatles had on music can't be understated. In time even the Sinatras of the world who once mocked the flop tops were singing Yesterday and Something. Hell even Bing got in on the Beatles song book singing Hey Jude.  Of course after the Beatles came Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Dave Clark 5, The Animals, Herman's Hermits and The Rolling Stones. Soon for much of the 60's almost the entire pop charts were British. Of the groups that followed only the Stones would match (and in some cases surpass) the Beatles in terms of hit and staying power but the Beatles were first and the best and they paved the way for the rest.

3. Modesty Blaise. Born in the comic strip section of the London Evening Telegraph in 1963 Modesty  Blaise the brilliant creation of Peter O'Donell was a leader of a criminal gang who had retired rich and was now mostly on the side of good (she really always was) full time. Her sidekick Willie Garvin was a  hard edged man's man who had been a political prisoner but he always referred to Blaise as Princess and left no doubt which of the two was  really in charge. Blaise was smart, independent, she had lovers but belonged to nobody but herself and she could defend herself as well as any man. Modesty Blaise would be at her most popular in a daily comic strip that ran from 1963-2001 mostly in the UK but also in Scotland and a few cities in the US. O'Donell would pen 13 Modesty Blaise adventures that would become popular though not quite as popular as the man she was often compared to James Bond. Unlike Bond Blaise would not conquer the movie world either. There have been 3 attempts to bring her to film and all 3 have been failures. The closest and by default most popular of the three is the 1966 film Modesty Blaise which has it's fans but is mostly regarded by Blaise fans as an abomination. O'Donell who wrote the original script and novelization (  first Blaise novel Modesty Blaise) only to see it almost entirely ignored said it made his nose bleed. Today many people know Modesty Blaise from a scene in the Tarantino film Pulp Fiction. Tarantino a Blaise fan has said he wants to try and finally bring her to the big screen in a proper way. Hopefully he does.

2. James Bond. James Bond came into the world in 1952 the Brain Child of a war hero and journalist Ian Fleming. by 1957 the novel From Russia With Love would rocket him to stardom. By 1958 he would  become a comic strip character and while he was never as brilliant in the comic strip world as Modesty Blaise he would be durable enough to last until 1983. However of course it's the Films that made James Bond a star. Bond would reach full stardom in 1961 when JFK admitted to being a fan and listed From Russia With Love as one of his favorite novels. The first movie Dr. No was made in 1962 and through ups,  downs, 6 actors playing the main role, (officially) and countless lawsuits Bond continues. As an old generation grows up and bemoans the lack of soul in the new Bond films 2 from the new generation replace them. Bond's reached his movie peak in 1965 with Thunderball but he's doing better now than he has done since those spy craze days of the mid 60's and in-spite of the competition he's never really fallen off very far. Every 5 or 10 years a new Bondalike rolls through town and proclaims death to 007 but soon the imposter is all but forgotten and Bond rolls on. 60 years since his birth we are still getting new Bond books and 50 years after his big screen debut we're about to receive movie number 23 or 25 depending on who's counting. Long live 007.

1. American Football. The Greatest sport ever invented, yes even with it's inherent dangers, came from Ivy League college men who brought the game from Britain. In it's early days it was a combination of rugby and soccer but it would become something special. And that something would become the most popular event and social gathering in America. The championship of the game on the professional level is an American holiday. On the college level the game has never been more popular. In some areas of the country The south, southwest and yes  the state of Nebraska it's a part of the very fabric of our being. We live and die with our teams. It effects are health, well being, and even our economy.We ignore the  entire world for 3 to 6 months worth of weekends every year hating and loving every minute of it.  For millions of us it's September not January that we celebrate the new year. The great game is no doubt uniquely American and it grew up to greatness hear however there can be no doubt that the Mother of the great game was Great Britain and for that I and millions of others are eternally grateful.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Anderson Cooper Makes It Official.

Remember back when his ratings were fairly high? Then his private life was his private life even as he was running private phone calls from Alec Baldwin to his daughter for two hours every night. This was I think in between and his war on the nutters in Colorado City AZ and his (and Sean Hannity's) war on stop snitching. Now with his ratings completely in the tank and with himself drawing considerable heat for being a surrogate for the Mitt Romney campaign every night on CNN. The time has come for Anderson to announce what we all already knew. What he spent much of life making excuses about. Anderson Cooper is gay. And now amazingly instead of being hush hush and telling us it's none of our business as he's done for 45 years NOW he's proud of the fact. Would you of made the announcement Anderson if you're viewership hadn't dwindled down to your significant other and a handful of 65+ year old women who think your hot?  Somehow I doubt it. Anyway Good for Anderson he brought his sexual preference out of the closet just about the time that his career was about to go in to one. What a coinicidink.

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