Sunday, July 30, 2006

Great message for the FCC!

Okay folks, a Brutally Honest visitor just sent me this link to a good (and clean) video that rightly slams the FCC.

And if you like it, then visit their website to get the FULL version of the song in the video.

By all means check it out, and thanks to the folks at for letting me know about it.

Quick Movie Review: Miami Vice

Just came back from watching the new Miami Vice movie, and the one thing I can say about it right off the bat is that this is the TV series taken to the next level.

Director Michael Mann, who ran the original pop TV series that helped define mid-1980’s culture, takes us back into the world of neon and drugs and sick-money (as in so much money it will make you sick). But we don’t just ease on in followed by a glitzy tour of Miami to show off the film titles with a Jan Hammer beat. No sir, the minute we see "Sonny" and "Rico" at work, we’re in it for the whole ride. And believe me, this is one hell of a roller coaster ride.

Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell do a great job of picking up where Philip Michael Thomas and Don Johnson left off two decades ago. But what makes the movie really good is that it’s not just about these two on the screen. They’re the box office name and draw, but the other actors also get their chance to flesh out the movie. And yes, that includes the steamy scene between Foxx and Naomie Harris, who plays Trudy in a way that the FCC would throw fits in if it was on TV.

Basic story: Sonny and Rico get a call from one of their former informants of a federal investigation gone bad. They get brought in by the FBI to find out who the players are and why they have so much information. In the process, Sonny ends up getting the attention of the female "businesswoman" and renegotiating their arrangements, and Rico is pumping the cartel lieutenant for technical details. They play the role of criminals so well that you have to wonder right up to the last third of the movie if they even know, as Rico says it, "which way is up".

But make no mistake, this IS an R-rated movie, and rightly so! There’s plenty of sex and violence to go around, which are all there to flesh out the realism of the story. Don’t bring your kids thinking that you’re in TV Land all over again. This is "Miami Vice" the way that Michael Mann WANTED to do it.

There is only one thing that I wish they could have brought over from the original TV show, though… and that would be Edward James Olmos to reprise his role as Lieutenant Castillo. Barry Shabaka Henley does a good job of playing the soft-spoken commanding officer who can get things done, but with Olmos you had that feeling that the character COULD bring the wrath of God on you if you didn’t listen to him.

If you remember the TV series, you should have no problem figuring out the key characters. If you’ve never seen the show (and remember it’s BEEN twenty years) just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Brutally Honest Rant - 07/26/06

Brutally Honest Audio Rant: Faith Versus Reason
Audio Transcripts

[Start Program]

(Computer – Introduction)
(Music intro – "American Idiot Remix" – by Green Day and David Matthews 2)

Good evening, and welcome to this week’s Brutally Honest Rant. I’m David Matthews 2, writer of the weekly online column Brutally Honest.

Suppose I were to tell you that I know THE ANSWER to all of the questions you may have about life, the universe, and everything! You don’t have to wonder anymore about the mysteries of life, because I HAVE THE ANSWER!

And the answer is… FORTY-TWO!

Now if you’ve read some of the best-selling books by Douglas Adams then you’d know how I came up with that number. But that provides another challenge… if the ultimate answer to the mysteries of life is forty-two, then what is the ultimate question?

Well let’s suppose that I were to tell you that you could ONLY ask me a question where the answer is 42. No matter what it is, not matter what you really want to know, you can ONLY ask me a question in such a way that it would match with my answer of 42. You’d think I was insane, wouldn’t you? You’d think I was a pompous, arrogant jerk making that kind of unrealistic demand on the world. HOW DARE I DEMAND that the world only ask a question in a way so it would conform to MY answer!

Well let’s go ahead and add some heat to this issue. Let’s suppose I were to have some very influential friends who agree with me and also agree in my ultimate answer. They LOVE having the idea of things being nice and neat and simple like that! No muss, no fuss… we know what the answer is, now you just have to come up with the question to match it. So my influential friends use their power to put pressure on YOU to ask the question "correctly". They hype it up in the public. They support my books and the talk show appearances to hype up the ultimate answer. They’ll publicly question and challenge your patriotism, your faith, your belief system, your morals, and even your sanity. They use the government to deprive you of funding if you don’t ask that question "correctly". Hell, they may even have you thrown in PRISON if you don’t ask the question "correctly". And if by some miracle my ultimate answer doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, then my influential friends will do everything possible to make sure it is still on everyone’s minds. They’ll push for people to "discuss the controversy"… which of course would be completely fabricated, but it would still allow for my ultimate answer to be discussed.

Doesn’t seem right, does it?

Well THAT, my friends, is at the heart of the ongoing and endless pissing contest between faith and reason.

Once upon a time, religious leaders had ALL of the answers to life’s little questions. They supposedly KNEW how we all got here, why we’re here, and what happens when we’re not here. They codified it, they wrote it up in books and scrolls and tomes and then let the system canonize it. And they didn’t have to prove a damn thing either! They just let circumstances happen as they may and then say it was all part of some divine plan.

And then people started to figure out that those answers weren’t quite right. This little thing called SCIENCE started to question those so-called "absolute answers". Maybe the whole universe WASN’T created in six human-defined days. Maybe there were creatures that existed BEFORE humans. Maybe civilization didn’t get started EXACTLY like we were told it did. All of those hard questions, and they didn’t fit the pre-determined answer of the religious leaders.

And rather than make some MODEST tweaks to the dogma to adapt to these new discoveries, religious leaders declared their answers to be the ONLY ones, they accused anyone who questioned those answers to be heretics, and they used their influential friends in positions of power to persecute, prosecute, and even EXECUTE anyone who DARED speak out in support of these new discoveries.

THIS is our history, people! And scientists like Galileo and Copernicus WERE persecuted for DARING to use SCIENCE to come up with answers that conflicted with the ESTABLISHED answers provided by the religious leaders. This is FACT!

And we’re not even talking about speculative theory here. Copernicus and Galileo and others like them were persecuted and prosecuted for looking into a telescope and realizing that the Earth wasn’t the center of the solar system! Their eyes saw what the closed minds refused to acknowledge. And unfortunately for people like Galileo, the side with the closed minds are usually also the ones with the thugs with the weapons and the self-righteous justification to KILL anything they find offensive.

But then again, that’s the basic problem between faith and reason. Simply put, they don’t play well together. They never have; and, by their very natures, they probably never will.

REASON implies a logical course of action. There’s a THOUGHT process involved with reason. You actually have to fire up some brain cells. You need to explain your course of action. You need to justify your course of action. Why is something the way that it is? How does it work? Why doesn’t it work some other way? CAN it work some other way?

FAITH, on the other hand, doesn’t require any kind of thought process at all! It’s simply a matter of obedience. You don’t have to justify anything! You don’t have to explain a single thing when it comes to your beliefs. The old redneck saying of "The Bible says it, I believe it, CASE CLOSED" is the perfect example of this. It’s basically your mom or your dad telling you in that deep booming voice that scar children for life "BECAUSE *I* SAID SO!"

And therein lies the real gulf between FAITH and REASON. REASON is flexible. It is subject to reexamination and correction if new information comes in. There is room to be wrong when it comes to a rational thought process. If A plus B does not equal C, then you find out what it DOES equal to and THAT becomes the new answer.

But you can’t do that with FAITH! FAITH is rigid and absolute. You’re not supposed to challenge it. You’re not supposed to question it. You’re not supposed to do ANYTHING to cause doubt. It cannot afford to be wrong even by the smallest amount! It’s zero-sum. You’re either all-in or you’re all-out… with us or against us. It doesn’t matter what A plus B equals, the answer will ALWAYS be forty-two and we will FORCE A and B to change UNTIL it equals forty-two!

Of course this explains why some of the world’s most notorious tyrants in human history use religion to advance their cause.

Now some folks have TRIED to bridge the gap between faith and reason, but all too often they fail. Blaise Pascal quickly comes to mind. He tried to offer what he called a "wager" to rationally justify religious beliefs, but he realized that he couldn’t really do it. He fudged the conclusion and said that it was a "sure bet" to believe.

The fault, my friends, is that those who put their stock in pure faith market it as THE end-all-be-all in the universe! You don’t need anything else. You don’t need food or water or shelter or sex or money or friendship or anything else in this world… that you just need to BELIEVE and you’ll be fine! They have no problem with reason as long as reason only serves to support their beliefs.

And those who advocate nothing but reason aren’t helping matters either. The most polite cop-out that I ever heard came from a TV miniseries about the end of the world, where a wheelchair-bound astronomer was teaching a college class about the nature of the universe, and some student asked "but where is God in all of this discussion" in that condescending tone that you normally see on religious channels. The professor gives a haughty spiel about "oh, if only he were to make himself known" instead of giving the correct answer to that kind of question. (And by the way, I’ll give you the correct answer to that kind of question later.)

That kind of exchange pretty much reflects the conflict between faith and reason. Those who believe demand complete complicity, and those who use reason simply brush even the moderates off with an equal amount of arrogance.

Now you’re probably wondering why the hell I’m even discussing this, right? I mean, we have some SERIOUS issues to deal with, and here I am waxing philosophy and theology!

Well let’s get brutally honest here… this conflict between faith and reason is evident in just about every conflict, both violent and non-violent, in the world today!

You’ve got the obvious ones: the current military combat going on between Israel and Lebanon. The acts of international terrorism being committed by Islamic extremists. The quest of countries like Iran to get nuclear weapons.

Then we’ve got the subtle ones… like the ongoing and endless power-grab that is the Bush Imperium. Whether it is the PATRIOT Act, spying on Americans, the continued call for CENSORSHIP of broadcast media, the egregious abuse of presidential signing statements, or the recent veto of embryonic stem cell research, the White House under George W. Bush has gone out of its way to cater to religious forces in this country. They have taken the inflexible and dictatorial tone with the rest of the world and have demanded that everyone OBEY their will, without question and without challenge. And then we have the ongoing crusade by conservatives and neo-conservatives and theo-conservatives on a LOCAL level to subvert church-state separations and incorporate religious beliefs and religious symbols into society through laws and forced displays.

All of these things are a reflection of the ongoing conflict between FAITH and REASON, with those on the side of FAITH waging an endless war to SUBVERT all intellectual processes for their own purposes.

And yet… it doesn’t really have to be this way!

Listen, folks, we are in SORRY need of a new human renaissance movement. A reformation of both man and society the likes of which would make the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century pale in comparison! And we need this to happen SOON, because right now we’re spiraling towards self-imposed extinction if we don’t get our act together!

Now I happen to believe that both faith and reason have their places in life, and that neither should EVER be allowed to subvert or to usurp the other. They are both important in their own unique ways. Faith, no matter WHAT specifically you believe in, is what keeps us going. Reason is what justifies and explains our actions. You keep those two things in their proper place and in the proper balance and guess what? No hassles! No drama! No extremism! And certainly no excuses for dictatorial power-grabs, either subtly or blatantly.

I think that last benefit, in and of itself, would be worth the hassle of bringing this renaissance about.

(Computer – some timely clips)
(Fade Music In – "Mythodea" by Vangelis)

Okay, and now to wrap up this week’s rant, I want to give you the correct answer to that fictional astronomer’s question. This was when the TV show professor was giving his lecture about the nature of the universe and how our sun would eventually burn itself out and destroy the world with it, and then a cocky student asked where God’s place was in this study of stars and the cosmos.

So here’s my answer: If you happen to believe in God, then you’ll never find him or her in even the most powerful of telescopes. If you truly believe that there is an all-powerful being that created all that you can see and hear and taste and touch, then asking for God’s place and God’s position in that creation is like an amoebae asking about the existence of a blue whale while sitting in its belly. Studying the stars neither confirms nor denies the existence of God. All it really does is to enlighten the inquisitive mind and to make the ignorant mind feel that much more insignificant in comparison.


Brutally Honest is a Get Brutal production, all opinions expressed are those of the commentator, and may or may not be shared by the online provider. This is David Matthews 2 saying good night, and I’ll speak with you soon!

(Fade out)
(Computer – Ending/"End of Recording")

[End of program]

Quick thoughts on Israel/Lebanon "War"

Okay, folks, I’m getting ready to do my weekly audio rant, but I had to get a few quick words in about this very violent pissing contest between Israel and Lebanon.

First: Lebanon, you’ve got a problem. That problem is Hezbollah, or Hizbollah, or whatever you want to call them, but they’re basically Ebola as far as I’m concerned. They’re the ones that are launching missiles into Israel. They’re the ones carrying out blatant acts of terrorism against Israel. They’re the ones taking hostages and then running back into Lebanon and flipping the bird at Israel. Did you ACTUALLY THINK that Israel would simply allow these ACTS OF WAR go unchallenged?

I don’t care how many acts of charity Hezbollah puts in… they’re still terrorists! And their terrorist acts, being committed in Lebanon against a neighboring country, are considered an ACT OF WAR by Lebanon! I don’t care if Hezbollah refuses to recognize the existence of Israel! I don’t care if every citizen in Lebanon refuses to recognize the existence of Israel! The people of ISRAEL know that they exist and they will do everything in their power to stop the acts of war made against them!

Remember Afghanistan? Remember what happened after the Taliban took over and they allowed a certain terrorist organization to run wild there? Because the Taliban aided and abetted al Qaeda in their terrorist activities, the United States went to WAR on the whole country!

Well guess what, people of Lebanon? You’re the new Afghanistan, and Hezbollah is the new al Qaeda! You want the bombs to stop? Give up Hezbollah. You want the tanks to leave? Give up Hezbollah. You want to stop pissing away what you spent all of this time trying to rebuild after DECADES of violence? Give up Hezbollah. It’s that simple. Whether or not you want to make it that simple is up to you.

Second: I am appalled…. APPALLED… that ANY country would even ASK that the United States step in to stop the fighting! Seriously!

I’ll break it down for you… Israel is exercising the same right of self-defense that the United States used in 2001 against Afghanistan, and again in 2003 to go into Iraq. Whether or not you agree with the reasons given or the information provided to justify going into Iraq is irrelevant! It happened! It got used! And now Israel is using it to defend their northern border.

So the United States is NOT IN ANY POSITION WHATSOEVER to tell any other nation how to act in this kind of situation! We quite simply no longer have the moral high ground. It got pissed away by all of that "with us or against us" rhetoric. Sorry Saudi Arabia, you can hold Junior’s hand and sing him the Mockingbird lullaby all you want to, but it won’t change a single thing.

Third: Why the hell is the United Nations bitching and crying about their outposts getting bombed? YOU’RE IN A WAR ZONE, IDIOTS! You know… the very thing that you were sent there back in 1978 to PREVENT? You haven’t really done a good job of it, have you?

Tell you what, why don’t you do yourselves a favor and go home until the bombing stops? Pack your little baby blue piss pots…pack your little baby blue vests… and go home to mommy and daddy. Then you can sneak on back afterwards and pat yourselves on the back and continue to claim that you’re doing a good job at keeping the peace. I promise, nobody will ever know the difference if you’re there or not!

If the United Nations really wanted to do something about this problem to keep the peace, then THEY should have stepped in to put an end to this Hezbollah crap from DAY ONE! They’re already there, they already have the lay of the land, and they have guns! Why didn’t they act?

But then again, that would show initiative, wouldn’t it? That’s a quality that the UN apparently doesn’t have. The United Nations today is spineless, brainless, dickless, dishonorable, disgusting, corrupt, and - more than anything else - USELESS!

Fourth: ANY attempt to bring a peace to that area without first eliminating Hezbollah is useless! All you’re doing is delaying the inevitable, which is what Hezbollah wants, which is what Iran and Syria want, and which is what Islamic terrorists all around the Middle East want… which is an all-out holy war against Israel. Given the stakes, I seriously doubt that Israel will be willing to put an end to that conflict without first getting back their soldiers and then eliminating Hezbollah once and for all.

Fifth: Okay folks, let’s get ready for higher gas prices again! You know it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time. They’ve already been creeping up these past few days, and it’s not going to stop.

Well that’s it… time to get back to doing the audio rant. As always, your comments are appreciated, whether you agree with me or not.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Brutally Honest Rant - 07/19/06

Brutally Honest Audio Rant: Junior’s Veto Virginity
Audio Transcripts

[Start Program]

(Computer – Introduction)
(Music intro – "American Idiot Remix" – by Green Day and David Matthews 2)

Good evening, and welcome to this week’s Brutally Honest Rant. I’m David Matthews 2, writer of the weekly online column Brutally Honest.

There’s a first time for everything… or so the old saying goes… and my friends, we are witnessing a first time right now!

President Bush has done something that everyone had HOPED he would do a long time ago… he BROKE his veto virginity!

Yeah, you didn’t realize it didn’t you? George W. Bush, the self-professed "uniter" and the self-described "decider" and the man that just about every conservative and theocrat believes is the closest thing to the second coming of Jesus Christ as you can get, had NEVER EVER ISSUED A SINGLE VETO until today! Never did it. Never had to. He’s always signed anything put before him right into law. Questioned some of the stuff? A few of them. But he always signed them nonetheless. Even the bills that he didn’t like, he still signed them.

Well NO MORE, my friends. Apparently the king of Cowboy Diplomacy has found the ONE SINGLE BILL that he absolutely WILL NOT SIGN! Not only did he NOT sign it into law, but he actually BROKE his VETO VIRGINITY to do it!

Now you’d think that this must be a PRETTY SERIOUS ISSUE, right? Something that must THREATEN the stability of the nation, right? Maybe something to do with keeping Congress in check when it comes to their reckless spending, right?


You want to know what that issue is? STEM CELL RESEARCH!

The bill that Bush Junior broke his Veto Virginity on was about allowing federal funds to be used for stem cell research using embryos from fertility clinics that are ALREADY SLATED to be destroyed!

For those of you who truly think that Sean Hannity is the "baby Jesus", here’s a really simple explanation of the issue, and I’ll use simple words so it won’t tax your brains.

A man and a woman go to a clinic because they can’t make a baby by themselves. So the man gives up a little bit of his man-stuff, and the woman gives up a little bit of her woman-stuff, and the doctor takes these little bits and puts them together to make a whole bunch of little embryos. Those aren’t babies, mind you! Not yet anyway. Those little embryos get frozen and put in storage because they can’t survive all by themselves. They won’t become babies unless and until they’re put in the woman. The doctor puts one of the embryos into the woman, makes sure that it works, and then they wait nine months for it to become an actual baby.

So what happens with the rest of the embryos? You can’t keep them in storage forever. And we’re not talking maybe one or two. No, we’re talking about A DOZEN of embryos per couple. The doctors NEED that many embryos to make sure that it all works. So guess what happens? After the first or second or third embryo attempt succeeds, you really don’t need the rest of them. So you can either keep the rest on ice, or you toss them in with the rest of the biological waste. You wanna pay for the liquid nitrogen to keep them on ice indefinitely? The stuff is NOT cheap!

Are you with me so far? Remember, I’m using simple language that even someone from Numbnuts Alabama would follow.

So here comes this idea: if researchers are looking for stem cells for their research, why not get them from the embryos that are ALREADY slated to be destroyed? It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Well, you couldn’t do it… because President Bush issued an executive order back in 2001 that forbid the use of federal funds for any research that does it. Why? Because a collection of conservative and theocratic extremists told him to, that’s why!

THAT, my friends, is what OUR PRESIDENT broke his veto cherry on!

Now I’m glad that our Dufus-In-Chief has decided to exercise his veto power at SOME point in his two terms in office. He’s only been threatening to exercise it for the past few years, but he’s always wimped out.

So you’d think that of ALL of the issues that are put before his desk that he could break his veto cherry on that the first one would be something of serious importance to the whole country! That, my friends, is what really bothers me!

We’ve had a whole bunch of spending bills go before the White House where BILLIONS were tacked on to them in pure PORK programs. Junior would tell Congress not to do it, Congress did it anyway, and the Dufus-In-Chief simply put his DUBYA on each and every one of them! Where was his resolve? Where was that "fiscal responsibility" that conservatives LOVE to brag about? Where was that… dare I say it… AMERICAN VALUE? Or doesn’t fiscal responsibility count as a value to the conservatives anymore?

We’ve had bills go before the White House that were questionable. Bills that even the White House didn’t want passed. But Junior signed them anyway. Where were his PRINCIPLES then?

And yet, here we have the self-appointed "uniter" FINALLY exercising his veto power, and it’s done ONLY to appease the extremist religious and ultra-conservative zealots! Even anti-abortion CONSERVATIVES were scratching their heads over this act of blatant political PANDERING and wondering why the hell they backed this redneck!

Let’s get brutally honest here… if there was ever a consensus decision that could be made about this issue, this was it… and George W. Bush just PISSED IT AWAY so just he can appease his extremist friends.

Let’s think about this for a minute… frozen embryos that will not be used are going to get destroyed. That is a bitter REALITY. There is opportunity to use those embryos that ARE slated for destruction for research that COULD produce something GOOD. Even some anti-abortion protesters think that this is something that they can work with.

Now if Junior wants to cling to this MYTH of his that every frozen embryo can find a home, he’s more than welcome to believe it. But the REALITY of the matter is that you’re not going to find enough homes for the task. Those discarded frozen embryos will still go WASTED… all just to satisfy his dwindling group of supporters and to satisfy his egotistical delusion of always being right.

(Computer – some timely Bushisms)
(Fade Music In – "Mythodea" by Vangelis)

I’ve got news for the White House… THERE WILL be political CONSEQUENCES for this matter! The Dufus-In-Chief doesn’t realize it yet but this decision to PANDER to his elitist friends is already being tallied up not just against him, but against Republicans in general. Remember: the President is more than just the country’s leader, but he’s also the biggest symbol for his political party. When he shines, the party shines. When he screws up, the party screws up.

If the Democrats ever needed a campaign for their November campaign, all they have to do is point at the White House and tell the American people that THEY would keep Junior honest! And whether or not the Democrats actually could do it (and it’s doubtful given the current crop of players) really doesn’t matter at this point. The president’s actions will be remembered this November, and this action alone could very easily cost the GOP their control of Congress in November!

I hope Junior can sleep soundly tonight… because this fall, he may be facing a lot of sleepless nights over the things he’s done.


Brutally Honest is a Get Brutal production, all opinions expressed are those of the commentator, and may or may not be shared by the online provider. This is David Matthews 2 saying good night, and I’ll speak with you soon!

(Fade out)
(Computer – Ending/"End of Recording")

[End of program]

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest

Okay, so my parents call me up on Thursday night with an interesting idea. "Why don’t you go over to our place on Saturday, have a nice Caribbean meal, and then go watch the ‘Pirates’ movie?"

Now when they say "the ‘Pirates’ movie", they mean the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie starring Johnny Depp. You know, the one that broke box office records and trashed any possible success streak of "Superman Returns", which was a movie that I REALLY liked.

Okay, so I make the trek across to my parents’ place, where we had a GREAT dinner consisting of steamed clams, shrimp, and fresh fruit. The only thing missing was the rum. That was okay, though, because I had been taking some OTC medication this past week and I didn’t want to screw it up.

Then we went to see the movie. It was just after 6, so I told my father we wanted to see the 6:45 show, not the 6:15 show. You see, we have this bad habit of getting the movie that starts in five minutes, then spending fifteen minutes waiting in the refreshments line for the popcorn, soda, and of course the special run for the locked-up bag of Twizzlers. (And why is it that the Twizzlers are ALWAYS locked up in the back? They're not made of gold! What putz of a manager came up with THAT policy?) Then, when we do get into the theater, the lights are out, the movie’s about to start (or it already has started), and there’s no good seating for three without getting so close to the screen that you can see and count nose-hairs.

So I told my father 6:45, not 6:15. I go with him to make sure he says "three adults for the 6:45 show", which he does.

We get the tickets, they say 6:15.


No refreshments, no soda, no Twizzlers, just get there and thankfully there were three seats ready just far away from the screen to enjoy the movie without looking up noses. And, it turned out, thankfully so.

Now I’m wishing we had the rum.

The story starts out with the attempted wedding of Elizabeth Swan and William Turner being ruined by the march of British Redcoats. (The Redcoats are coming! The Redcoats are coming!) Turns out they’re both wanted for their association with and assistance to the infamous CAPT’N Jack Sparrow. BUT the new "lord" and representative of the East India Trading Company will let them both free if Will can get a certain compass from Sparrow.

It turns out, though, that Sparrow and the crew of the Black Pearl have some problems all their own. Seems Sparrow made a deal with Davy Jones for his command of the Pearl. 13 years of service as captain of the Pearl, then he’s to join Davy Jones and his crew of the Flying Dutchman, just like Will’s father, "Bootstrap" Turner, did. (Yeah, I know, he’s dead… long story.) Sparrow only got to enjoy two years as captain before getting kicked out by a mutiny (which was where the first movie came in), but that doesn’t matter to Davy Jones. A deal’s a deal.

So now we have Sparrow running to dry ground and looking for a certain "key" to open a certain "chest" that contains a certain "treasure". We have Will looking for Sparrow. We have Elizabeth dressing up as a boy and looking for Will and Sparrow. (Not hard to imagine… Keira Knightley wasn’t exactly blessed with too many curves.) And we even have the former British bad-guy from the first movie looking for revenge. Why? Well it's also part of the story.

And yet… I’m sorry, but I wasn’t that impressed by this movie.

Yes, there were some good comedic scenes. There was some action. Yes, there were some moments when you would wonder just what the hell would happen next. But it was still way too long and drawn out. There was a lot about fish guts and blood and death and being undead with a ship full of people who rot away and become half-oceanic. And this in a fully-credited DISNEY movie? (A few parents who foolishly brought their tax deductions with them were wondering about that as well.)

I liked the first "Pirates" movie. I really did. The banter between Will Turner and Jack Sparrow - not to mention the outrageous performance of the actors - was what kept that movie going. But that banter didn’t carry over to this sequel. This movie was way too long and you were praying for the credits.

Now, let’s compare that to "Superman Returns". When the end credits started rolling for "Superman Returns", the audience actually APPLAUDED! Now I don’t get to see too many movies, but I do know that when the audience applauds, it’s a good thing.

When the end credits rolled for "Pirates", there was no applause. There was a sense of relief that it was over and several audience members actually said, "I didn’t get it."

And yet "Pirates" will go down in the record books as "trouncing Superman".

THAT is an unforgivable injustice as far as this commentator is concerned.

So if you’re going to go see this movie, I only have one recommendation: bring rum. Lots of it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Brutally Honest Rant - 07/12/06

Brutally Honest Audio Rant: The Coulter Trap
Audio Transcripts

[Start Program]

(Computer – Introduction)
(Music intro – "American Idiot Remix" – by Green Day and David Matthews 2)

Good evening, and welcome to this week’s Brutally Honest Rant. I’m David Matthews 2, writer of the weekly online column Brutally Honest.

And I hope you will forgive my voice… as you may tell, I’m sort of under the weather this week, so I hope you’ll understand if my rant comes off a little soft-spoken and shorter than usual.

I don’t know what it is, folks… maybe it’s because I’m a libertarian, maybe it’s because I don’t play by the same rules as the liberals and conservatives do, but I’m just wondering why the hell liberals are falling right into the trap of conservatives.

You see, there’s been a lot of talk about the latest book by conservative columnist Ann Coulter called "Godless: The Church of Liberalism".

Look, you don’t have to get the book to guess what it is about. It’s about trashing liberals. All of her books are that way. They’re all about trashing liberalism.

But there is one section of that book that apparently really pissed people off, and that section had to do with the so-called "Jersey girls"… four women who lost their husbands in the September 11th terrorist attacks. These four women helped push for the 9/11 Commission and they have been critical of our security measures since then. And they have every right to be critical! The system let them down! But apparently Ann Coulter feels that they don’t have a right to do that because they’re liberal women living under a Republican-monopolized government.

AND… I’m going to stop right there… because THAT is the trap.

There is a REASON why that little passage came out the way that it did, and why Ann Coulter further antagonized the situation in the media afterwards. Actually there are TWO reasons… one is financial, and the other is intellectual. And once you realize what they are, you’ll understand why this issue is a trap.

First, the financial reason. One of the best ways to generate sales is to leak some of the most scandalous elements of that material out early.

Here’s a great example… in 1999, when Columbia Pictures wanted to promote their movie "Cruel Intentions", they let the wager of the two main conniving participants slip out. The wager was for the male character to seduce a prim and proper virgin to demonstrate just how good of a Casanova he really is. If he can’t do it, then he loses his most valued possession, which is an antique roadster. If he can pull it off, then he gets to have sex with the conniving female character… who happens to be his half-sister.

Now if you ever saw the movie "Dangerous Liaisons" or any of the other variations of the original French story, then you’d pretty much know how the story will turn out. And the studio executives KNEW this. So they leaked out the racy incestuous banter early, hoping that people will be drawn in on the hope of seeing actress Sarah Michelle Gellar getting laid.

It was, of course, a trap. Not just the story, but also the movie. If you saw it, then you’d know that it didn’t happen. It was all just a trick to get people to see the movie. And, if memory serves, it was a somewhat successful trick in terms of box office attention.

Well let’s get brutally honest here… that is EXACTLY what this whole "Jersey girls" controversy was about. It was about SALES!

I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret about publishers and authors… they LOVE controversy over a book! They love OUTRAGE! They love SCANDAL! You know why? Because it gets them FREE MEDIA COVERAGE, and that helps to sell even more books!

Leaking out the whole "Jersey Girls" segment complete with her comments in the media that further antagonized the issue was a stroke of pure marketing GENIUS! That guaranteed that every radio station and every talk program would be talking about the book, even IF they don’t ask for her to appear! That certainly beats BEGGING and PLEADING for some time to promote the book. And the more that is discussed about the book, the more people will want to buy it and read it for themselves. Whether or not they agree with what she has to say is irrelevant, of course. It’s the actual SALES that matter, and this kind of tactic is a sure-fire winner.

Which brings us to the second reason why this is a trap. This, my friends, is a logic trap. And it’s a sneaky little logic trap. This is along the same lines as asking someone if they’ve stopped beating their spouse.

Let’s think about this for a minute… the whole "Jersey Girls" attack is really a part of a larger section of Ann Coulter’s book where she argues that liberals (or "progressives" or whatever you want to call them) hold certain people and certain groups and even certain ideas above reproach and above question. What better way to prove that argument than to bring out the most vocal victims of 9/11 and then intentionally question and sullen the connection to their lost loved ones? She KNOWS that the liberals will come out of the woodwork to defend these women and to try to crucify her in the media! And they did just that! And, in doing so, they validated her argument.

Think about it: simply by coming out and speaking out against Ann Coulter, liberals actually PROVED her argument for her! She didn’t have to do a single thing to validate it. They did all the dirty work for her!

That’s the trap, folks! And every liberal and liberal-leaning person who took time and effort and energy AWAY from discussing the real, substantive issues of the time to debate this fell right into that trap!

Ann Coulter is a paid antagonist. She’s a very successful agitator. That’s all that she is and that’s all she’s ever good at doing. That’s why newspapers pick up her columns. That’s why her books sell. She pisses people off and she gets paid quite well to do it. She’s the kind of person that would argue that the Earth is cube-shaped if it would advance the conservative cause, keep Republicans in positions of power, give liberals aneurysms, and give herself a nice hefty royalty check to top it all off.

Now given all of that, why would you want to play HER game under HER rules? It’s like betting in Las Vegas. You’re really not going to win. You’re not even going to break even in the exchange. All you’re going to do is validate her arguments and make yourself look stupid. And it’s just plain foolish, especially since there are plenty of REAL issues to discuss that are getting diverted… which, of course, also works to the benefit of the conservatives.

Besides, hey, we’re talking about 9/11 widows from NEW JERSEY! They can take care of themselves quite well against a bony peroxide hellmouth.

(Computer – something timely)
(Fade Music In – "Mythodea" by Vangelis)

The interesting thing about the Coulter trap that I’m surprised so many people fell for was the fact that Ann Coulter was really preaching from a stance of pure hypocrisy. Here is a woman representing a political faction that LOVES to talk about the sanctity of marriage, openly questioning the marital status of other women who lost their husbands. Here is a woman representing a political faction that has profited HEAVILY from 9/11, daring to accuse other women of becoming celebrities off their misery. These should have been serious red flags for people! I mean… the whole thing REEKED of a trap! You couldn’t have a bigger indicator of it than if she changed the title of her book from "Godless" to "BAIT".

Now the smart person doesn’t immediately take the bait and let the trap be sprung. The smart person takes the trap and uses it as his own weapon. If you are offended by Ann Coulter’s use of bait, then you use the information to YOUR advantage and build a case on the overall hypocrisy of the conservative cause. THIS is what Coulter and others like her are selling as conservatism. THIS is what they are selling under the banner of "family values" and "the sanctity of marriage". All of the rhetoric that they spew during election time and when they want certain laws passed means absolutely NOTHING if they can’t even practice what they preach!

And by the way, guess what happens when people don’t respond to the bait of the Coulter Trap? It loses its appeal. Her book sales plummet and the number of newspapers that carry her column will slowly disappear. And then all she has left are a bunch of online fans… and you can’t really make any coin off them at that point.

Remember folks… paid agitators don’t get paid if they can’t agitate anyone.


Brutally Honest is a Get Brutal production, all opinions expressed are those of the commentator, and may or may not be shared by the online provider. This is David Matthews 2 saying good night, and I’ll speak with you soon!

(Fade out)
(Computer – Ending/"End of Recording")

[End of program]

Friday, July 07, 2006

Ken Lay: Justice Denied

Ken Lay is dead.

Ken Lay died in his cushy retreat in Colorado while waiting for his sentencing hearing for his multiple convictions.

Ken Lay died too damned soon!

Ken Lay started up, ran, and then destroyed Enron. This company got fat and powerful, supporting pretty much every politician in and from Texas. It manufactured an energy crisis in California that cost residents and businesses there BILLIONS in higher bills. It was partly responsible for provoking the incompetence of California’s governor of the time, Gray Davis, and led to his unceremonious ouster at the hands of the voters.

Ken Lay ran the company that destroyed lives and livelihoods when it went under. Back then it was called “business as usual”. Today it’s called a federal offense.

Ken Lay went to trial for his role in that gross destruction. He claimed that he was ignorant of the destruction and proved it by buying his wife a new yacht even though he was in the hole by two million dollars… no doubt using the same accounting methods that hid Enron’s financial black hole. The jury obviously didn’t buy it.

Now Ken Lay is dead, before he could even set one foot inside a prison cell. He made the ultimate escape from any kind of accountability this world could require.

Once again, justice has been denied.

Some people are speculating that Ken Lay’s death was orchestrated, or that he simply faked his death. Maybe he’s really sitting on an island over in the Bahamas, laughing at the pathetic peons as he sits on his uncounted billions sipping a rare cognac and smoking cigars made of $100 bills.

I’m sorry but I don’t buy it.

First of all, corporate criminals don’t fake their deaths when facing prison. They buy better lawyers and get their convictions overturned on appeal.

Remember Charles Keating? He ran Lincoln Savings & Loan until it went under in 1989. He was convicted and sent to prison. Did he fake his death? No. He hired better lawyers and got his conviction overturned.

If the Bush Imperium wanted to help their “good buddy” Ken Lay out, they would have quietly manipulated the system so that his sentencing would be delayed pending an appeal, or that any sentence given would also be delayed pending that appeal. The appeal process would be painstakingly long, taking several years to run its course up the legal system. Then in January of 2009, on the eve of his departure from the White House, President Bush would sign the papers to pardon “Kenny-boy” for any and all crimes he may have committed.

THAT, my friends, is how the Imperium would have handled this problem. They wouldn’t have to resort to mystery drugs or faking someone’s death. They have all the tools they need to at their disposal right in front of them, and they would be able to use that to help not only their “good buddy” Ken Lay, but also Jeff Skilling and any other Enron executive facing prison time.

No, my friends, if there really WAS a conspiracy to take Ken Lay’s life, it would be by Ken Lay himself. It’s very easy to fake optimism in front of friends and loved ones, and then quietly contemplate one’s own death. Remember, he started out with nothing. He certainly wouldn’t want to end his life with nothing as well.

Of course Ken Lay’s death doesn’t bode well for Jeff Skilling. Any kind of leniency that could be given to him is gone. After all, Lay was the big dog in charge; Skilling was just an underling. Now that Ken Lay has forever avoided justice, Skilling will get the brunt of the rage and fury over it.

Still, it’s hard to feel sorry for either person over that. I feel sorry for the thousands of people who will not get the feeling of satisfaction for the injustice foisted on them. The system didn’t let them down… the whole damned universe did.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Brutally Honest Rant - 07/05/06

Brutally Honest Audio Rant: He Who Controls The Language…
Audio Transcripts

[Start Program]

(Computer – Introduction)
(Music intro – "American Idiot Remix" – by Green Day and David Matthews 2)

Good evening, and welcome to this week’s Brutally Honest Rant. I’m David Matthews 2, writer of the weekly online column Brutally Honest.

They say that history is written by the conqueror. Well apparently it’s not the only thing that is.

In fact, there’s a pattern of how viewpoints are controlled by those in charge. "To the victor goes the spoils." You’ve probably heard that one a couple of times.

I heard someone say that he who controls the language controls the culture, and I happen to think that he’s right in that regard. Take a look at the abortion issue. Those who support abortion see the battle as being between "pro-choice" and "anti-choice", while those who are against abortion see it as "pro-life" versus "pro-death". Now when you see it between those two perspectives, you can understand why there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground on this matter. And you can also see why the opponents of abortion seem to be on the LOSING side of the argument, because "pro-life" versus "pro-death" sounds very extreme as opposed to "pro-choice" versus "anti-choice".

Liberals have successfully managed to morph the words "tax cuts" into "tax cuts for the rich", and that was pretty much done all through the eight years of the Bill Clinton regime. And the liberals made sure that the message was conveyed over and over and over again thanks to their friends in the air-fluffed, ego-driven alphabet soup media. So today, you can’t even SAY the words "tax cut" in Washington without everyone and their ugly twin brother exclaiming "TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH" in a way that would make Pavlov proud.

Conservatives then one-upped the liberals by turning the very word "liberal" into an obscenity. Nice trick, huh? They can’t even call themselves "liberals" anymore… now they have to call themselves "progressives". Conservatives, meanwhile, are still considered "conservatives"… although now there are a couple of new factions to the category that the conservatives REFUSE to admit even exist. I’ll get back to those in a minute.

With that in mind, I thought I’d spend tonight going over a few of these new definitions for you, just in case any of you might be confused about what they mean.

And let’s just go ahead and start off with the word "progressive". Now the word "progressive" means forward-looking. You’re looking AHEAD, as opposed to conservatives and their tendency to look to the past. And I find that somewhat hypocritical since "progressives" have their own fixations on the past, which they ALSO look to with rose-colored lenses. They think that Bill Clinton was the greatest president that ever held the office. They think that the country prospered specifically BECAUSE of him. And they believe that HE was the one who PERSONALLY balanced the federal budget when in fact the budget surplus of the late 1990’s caught EVEYRONE by surprise, including the White House!

Let’s put it this way: if "progressives" are really as "forward-looking" as they claim to be, then WHY do they keep on putting Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd back in office??? These are two of the most BACKWARD-looking people you can find in politics, and yet you couldn’t get them out of those senate seats with a firehose!

That brings us to the previous word for "progressive"… namely "liberal". What is a "liberal" in the 21st century?

Well let’s get brutally honest here… a liberal is an ugly slur uttered by conservatives and other like-minded people to denigrate anyone who doesn’t agree with their position or with their way of thinking.

It goes something like this: "Oh, you don’t agree with me? Well then you must be one of those filthy LIBERALS! You must hate GOD and JESUS and AMERICA! YOUR KIND doesn’t belong in this country!"

And don’t think that this kind of hatred and loathing is just an over-exaggeration! I’ve seen this kind of rhetoric in the online discussion boards. And they WILL use that arrogant, pompous tone when they say "your kind"! It’s the same tone that Germans used to have when referring to anyone they considered to be inferior.

Now let’s look at the conservatives. Since they were able to transform the word "liberal" into a social obscenity, they believe that they can also get us to accept that certain words just do not exist. Like the word "neo-con".

Conservatives and their allies, like Neal Boortz, believe that the word "neo-con" just does not exist! And they will exercise the theory of a certain infamous Austrian that says if you tell a lie enough times, people will believe it to be true. But the truth is that THERE IS such a thing as a neo-conservative in America! They DO exist!

A neo-conservative, or a "neo-con", is someone who believes in a free market, but also believes in big government. They liked the idea of going back to the past, but only if that past was the repressive McCarthyist 1950’s, or perhaps Dick Nixon’s early 1970’s. They believe that government can solve EVERY problem, and they have no problem with big business doing whatever they like as long as that business doesn’t go anywhere near sex!

There’s also such a thing as a "theo-con", which is a theocratic conservative. You know how I talk about theocrats running roughshod in America? Those are the people I’m talking about. They may not want the all-out theocracy like we see in Iran, but they want as much of it as they can get for their own religious beliefs. Again, these folks DO exist, no matter how many times people like Boortz continue to deny their existence. Then again these are the same people who refuse to see certain words in the US Constitution, so it’s pretty much par for the course that these folks have a hard time with reality.

Let’s put it this way, if the "progressive" side can be broken down into its various factions, such as the feminists and the environmentalists, then the conservative side can also be broken down into its own factions. You can’t have it both ways, people! That fits another word that I like to throw out there called "hypocrisy"!

Don’t worry, I’m not done yet! There are a few more new post-9/11 definitions out there to talk about!

Definitions like "necessary tools". I’m sure that you’ve heard THAT one uttered a few times by the Bush Imperium! Basically it’s a phrase that the Imperium uses to excuse any and all abuses of power. Circumventing constitutional rights, torture, detaining people without providing any cause, it can all be excused as a "necessary tool in the war on bad guys."

So if we applied the Bush White House definition of that term "necessary tools" to history, then raping and pillaging were "necessary tools" for Genghis Khan. Burning people at the stake was a "necessary tool" for the Salem Witch Trials. Drowning people and ripping out their fingernails were "necessary tools" for Torquamada during the Spanish Inquisition. The guillotine was a "necessary tool" for the French Revolution. Concentration camps and Zylon gas were "necessary tools" for Nazi Germany. The use of nerve gas on Kurds was a "necessary tool" for Saddam Hussein. Oh, and let’s not forget the multiple missile launches of North Korea these past few days. That too is a "necessary tool" for Kim Jong Lawntroll.

Speaking of the "war on bad guys", we have the unofficial White House definition of "terrorism", which is any kind of terrorist act – OR POSSIBLE ACT – that involves Muslims.

Now in December of 2001, after 9/11 and during the height of the anthrax attacks, President Bush declared that sending anthrax in the mail was terrorism, and so was anyone who send anthrax hoaxes in the mail. Then it was discovered that the person sending the fake anthrax in the mail was a fundamentalist Christian, so all of a sudden THAT definition had to be scrapped. And then there was Eric Robert Rudolph, who set off bombs in various places, including the 1996 Olympics. HE would be considered a terrorist too… except that he was apprehended AFTER 9/11… and, oh yeah, he’s also a CHRISTIAN! So all of a sudden he’s no longer a TERRORIST… just "a bomber". Yeah, tell you what, why don’t you go tell his victims that. Why don’t you tell the City of Atlanta that the man that ruined that city’s proudest moment isn’t really a terrorist? Yeah, I’m sure they’ll buy it.

Point is… if they’re Christian and they actually commit acts of terrorism, then they’re NOT considered terrorists. They’re considered bombers or gunmen or any other number of other crimes they may be guilty of. But if they’re Muslim and if they even THINK about doing anything even REMOTELY illegal, then they’re terrorists!

You know, I’ve got a real problem with this kind of religious bigotry. Seriously. It really ruins the government’s credibility in dealing with the problem of international terrorism. I’m not saying that Muslims aren’t guilty of the terrorist acts they commit or encourage, but they’re not the only group that uses religion to justify hate and carnage! If you want to go after Muslim terrorists, then you also have to go after the Christian terrorists. You can’t just sit back and let religious discrimination go on unchallenged in this situation. Again, that falls under the definition of the word "hypocrisy".

Of course we have the other favorite word of the conservatives… "Judicial Activism".

So what is it? Basically it’s any kind of court decision that is ruled AGAINST the government or against a popular opinion. THAT is how an "ACTIVIST judiciary" is being defined today.

You see, if you disagree with a court decision, you don’t have to come up with a legitimate reason for your disagreement. You don’t have to question how the law or the US Constitution was interpreted. You don’t have to question how the law was written or the legal arguments presented to justify it. No, you can just blame it all on the judge and call him or her "an ACTIVIST". You can question that judge’s patriotism, or question that judge’s mental competence. You can call that judge a renegade; a radical extremist carrying out his or her own personal agenda for destroying the country. You can call for a government investigation and try to have the judge removed from office for DARING to pose an opinion that YOU disagree with!

And in the process, of course, you will demonstrate the very mentality that justifies that decision. But that’s okay… you can blame it on the judge too, because don’t you have a right to not be OFFENDED? Yeah, it’s right there in the Constitution next to the promise of a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.

Okay, I got one more here tonight, and this one goes back to the liberals.

What is a "liar"?

A liar is someone who tells you something he or she knows is not true. Bill Clinton is a liar. He claimed he never had sexual relations and that was proven to be false.

Of course, what is required is that the person KNOWS that the information isn’t true before he or she can be called a liar, and that little codicil doesn’t work well when it comes to politics. Proof is something that is so damned slippery in politics. So liberals had to change the definition a bit. Now someone is called a liar simply because the information is false, no matter if the person knew it or not.

So you think, no big deal, right?

For CENTURES, mankind believed that the Earth was FLAT. That if you were to travel too far out, you’d fall right off the edge of the planet! That belief, of course, was later found to be false. But under the LIBERAL interpretation, every person who believed that the Earth was flat was guilty of LYING.

Now imagine applying that to a few religious beliefs. Would you be willing to accuse every follower of being a LIAR if what they believe turns out to be false? Probably not.

It’s not exactly a definition that you would want to be flippant about using.

(Computer – an interesting mix of stuff)
(Fade Music In – "In Amber Clad" by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori)

We need to be mindful of the definitions we use when it comes to presenting an argument. Part of our credibility rests on not just the message but how it is presented. Morphing words to suit your stance and changing their meaning does not make your stance valid, no matter how many times you present it.

Eventually words like "liberal" WILL come back into social acceptance. Conservatives won’t be able to hide their own factions for long. And even now the excuses used to justify abuses of power are falling apart. The definitions they twisted and manipulated for their own use are not holding.

Look at the arguments used during World War II. Listen to the excuses and the justifications of the time. A lot of the evil that happened was sold to the masses as a way to maintain order and to create a perfect society. But in time, those arguments, those excuses, turned out to be empty.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he said, "Put the argument into a concrete shape, into an image, some hard phrase, round and solid as a ball, which they can see and handle and carry home with them, and the cause is half won." That certainly does not apply to the definitions of our time.

So that makes me wonder… in fifty or a hundred years from now, when we look back at the arguments of this time to explain our actions and our stances, will future generations look at us and wonder if we’ve taken a leave of our senses? I would suspect that would be the case.


Brutally Honest is a Get Brutal production, all opinions expressed are those of the commentator, and may or may not be shared by the online provider. This is David Matthews 2 saying good night, and I’ll speak with you soon!

(Fade out)
(Computer – Ending/"End of Recording")

[End of program]

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July – here’s the biggest Roman candle we can shoot off!

Happy 4th of July folks!

And yes, from the tone in the subject line, I’m talking about the SUCCESSFUL launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery!

And it’s about frigging TIME!

The timing of this launch was just about right. Here’s the biggest rocket we can fire off for the day, and for once we HOPE that it doesn’tEXPLODE. Thankfully it didn’t.

And yes, even though I’m a Libertarian, I do believe that space travel is one of the FEW legitimate government interests that we should be spending money on. Private interests in space travel should be encouraged as well, but let’s face it, we NEED to get out there! If the Earth really is as fragile as the liberals claim it to be, then it is in our collective best interests to spend money on getting our asses offthis planet and spreading our seeds around the cosmos.

NASA, though, has been dragging its collective ass when it comes to the shuttle ever since the aged shuttle Columbia burned up. They weren’t just erring on the side of cowardice, but under the previous pencil-pushing administrator, NASA had pretty much given up on manned flights! Now, of course, with a different guy in charge, they’re backto putting the shuttle up.

The really interesting part about watching this launch was they actually let us watch the launch from the perspective of the camera mounted on the solid fuel tank and actually follow the shuttle up out of theatmosphere and watch it detach. That was really a great view to take in.

Of course, there was a moment when it looked like NASA was going to cave back in when they heard about a 5-inch crack in the foam on the main tank. And of course there were the two weather delays. Thankfully the NASA administrators listened to the experts when they said that the crack was negligible and it was back to getting the shuttle off theground. And they've even said such in the follow-up press briefing!

So congrats to NASA for starting to act like they have some testosterone again. It’s about time they got back off the mat and getting back todoing what we’ve been paying them to do.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Movie Review: Superman Returns

Well I just got home from the movies, watching the one movie I waited YEARS to see...

"Superman Returns"


Okay, if you don't know, I'm a LONGTIME fan of the Man of Steel. Yes, longer than Playboy, longer than libertarianism, and ALMOST longer than Star Trek. Almost. (Hey, I was watching Star Trek fresh from the cradle... you can't top that!)

I was absolutely AWESTRUCK when the first movie came out in 1978. Before that I was reading the comics, watching the cartoons, and on rare occasion watching the old George Reeves series. But it was the late Christopher Reeve that brought the Man of Steel out of the comic books and into as much of the real world as could be possible thanks to Hollywood magic.

Then Warner Brothers released Superman II, and while it had some very good effects, I found it somewhat campy. Then there was Superman III, which was SUPER-campy, and then Superman IV, which had some good elements but once again got killed by the comic book kryptonite called CAMP.

A few years later, Warner Brothers wanted to try it again. Interest came back after Superman was killed by Doomsday in the comic books, followed by Superman's resurrection and his eventual marriage to Lois Lane. The TV show "Lois and Clark" was a hit, and even the animated series was a big hit. Then the success of "Smallville" and "Justice League" helped propel the drive for a new Superman movie.

But the idea hit several snags. The movie went through several re-writes, several directors, and several possible stars for key roles, including Chris Rock as Jimmy Olson, Jenny McCarthy as Supergirl, and Nicholas Cage as a brooding Superman. THANKFULLY that idea got shot down faster than a speeding bullet! (Don't worry folks, Cage will be appearing as another superhero of sorts in 2007... as Ghost Rider. At least they cast well for that character.)

Then Bryan Singer picked up the director's role.

That's why I can thankfully say... this movie is WORTH THE WAIT!

Okay, I'm promising myself to not give anything major away. The key story is something that you've probably already seen and heard about in past few weeks and months leading up to the release. Superman goes away for five years and then comes back, only to find the world moved on without him, including the love of his life. Lois has a child and a future husband (James Marsden, whom you may remember as Cyclops in Singer's other hero flicks "X-Men" and "X2: X-Men United"). But Lex Luthor also has a new lease on life, and he has a plan.

The good thing about Singer's direction of the story is that it completely eliminates the third and fourth movie. (I wish we all could do that.) There's a lot of references to the first movie, and the occasional mention of the second one. The original music by John Williams is still there, but there's also plenty of original score to move the story along as well. The special effects are literally out-of-this-world! Not only do they remind us that "a man can fly", but they make it look a hell of a lot more realistic than they could do twenty years ago.

The casting is also top-notch. Kevin Spacey is no Gene Hackman, but then again Hackman himself admitted that he couldn't play a villain. Hackman's portrayal of Lex Luthor as sort of a villainous buffoon helped bring too much camp into the original movies. Spacey's Luthor is certainly nobody's buffoon. The casting of Parker Posey as Luthor's henchwoman Kitty was a little weak, but then again she had to pick up where Valerie Perrine and Ned Beatty left off. Frank Langalla picked up the role of Perry White quite well, although he wasn't the first choice for Singer. (Hugh Laurie of TV's "House MD" was originally slated for the job but had to back out due to scheduling conflicts.) Still, he did well.

The late Marlon Brando makes an appearance as Jor-El... albeit using material from the original movie. And it was used quite well in this movie. There are some other Superman veterans that also make an appearance, but you have to have a really good eye - and ear - to catch one of them.

Even Kate Bosworth, sporting brown hair instead of her usual bottle blond, does a good job as Lois Lane. While not coming off as flaky as, say, Margot Kidder or Terri Hatcher, she's just cute and perky enough to get away with the nosy reporter role.

Then there's Brandon Routh... the man behind the blue tights and the nerdy glasses. Brandon not only inherited the late Christopher Reeve's title, but he also bears a striking resemblance to the late actor. He does a GREAT job playing both Superman AND Clark Kent.

Now Singer has promised a couple of actual changes to the Superman mythos that he hopes will carry through to the comics and beyond. One has been speculated online to some extent (and is part of the story). The other makes its appearance in the first few minutes of the movie... and believe me, it will blow your mind!

Oh, two more things. I wasn't able to view it in IMAX format like I wanted to, because the theater was literally SOLD OUT for the whole day, but it would certainly be worth viewing it in 3D if you wanted to. Plus, one of the trailers aired before the start of Superman Returns was for "Hollywoodland"... which delves into the suicide of George Reeves. I found that rather interesting... and timely, but I find it hard to see Ben Affleck wearing the blue-and-red Superman outfit. Daredevil, yes. Superman, no.

Bryan Singer's Superman is certainly not campy or cartoonish. This movie actually takes the first two movies to the next level, and while it MAY seem a bit long, there's just enough storyline and action to keep it interesting. If you're hesitant about it being lame, don't be, because it's not. But I should also point out that it's rated PG-13 for a reason, which means keep the little kids at home for this one, but this is definitely one for the big kids to enjoy.