...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

March 30, 2007

Modern Liberalism Explained

Two weekends ago I turned you on to a fabulous 75 minute YouTube on global warming. This weekend, I only need you to set aside 48 minutes.

This speech, by a guy named Evan Sayet, is pure brilliance. I don't know why I've never heard of him before. For years I've been looking for a "grand unified theory" of why liberals are so fucked up, and this dude came up with a real contender. He presents his thesis within the first couple of minutes, and when I heard it I was like, "whoa, that's amazing, I've never thought of it like that before."

h/t to Shelly and Rodger.

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Key Quotes From VDH Column

Here are two key quotes from today's Victor Davis Hanson column at NRO.

Confrontation can be avoided through capitulation, and no Western nation is willing to insist that Iran adhere to any norms of behavior.

. . .

Why put European ships or planes outside of European territorial waters when that will only guarantee a crisis in which Europeans are kidnapped and held as hostages or used as bargaining chips to force political concessions?

Indeed. Why do the Europeans bother pretending that they have any spine at all?

Royal Marines don't apologize. Not willingly. But so what? They don't need to, eventually their government apologizes for them.

What we need here is not "de-escalation" rhetoric. The Iranians are playing the same hand they played in '79, because they know it works. Somebody needs to look them in the eye and say "not this time." But nobody is willing to do it. And so if nobody has the guts, why bother pretending? They should all just go home.

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March 29, 2007

McCain Was Almost A Democrat?

Who knows if this story is true? The source is two former Democratic lawmakers, who say that McCain's chief of staff approached them in 2001 about McCain switching parties. The chief of staff denies it, although he's now a Democrat himself, which is bad enough for McCain. Of course in these types of things, it doesn't really matter if the story is true, all that matters is that the story is out there, and it fits the narrative.

McCain may be done.

My prediction for the next big Republican drama: H. Ross Thompson. Will he or won't he? (Fuck everything up, that is.)

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March 24, 2007

Bronco Bomber Polling

Is it racist for a liberal to say "I like Obama, but I'm supporting Hillary because America's not ready to elect a black president?"*

Whether or not it's racist, that kind of attitude betrays a characteristic pessimism and contempt for America that many liberals hold but won't admit. The psychological term is called "projection," where a person attributes one’s own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts and emotions onto another. Liberals are famous for projecting their own faults, so it wouldn't surprise me if there were a few closet racists in the Democratic party.

I know it's early, but Hillary still isn't beating Giuliani in head-to-head matchups, and I can't understand why Obama isn't gaining traction with Democrats. In almost every aspect, he's a better candidate for the liberals. Consistent on the war (despite the latest Clinton lie, he never flip-flopped), more likeable, a better speaker, less political baggage, got more integrity, etc., etc. And because he's from a new generation, nominating Obama over Hillary represents a step forward, not a step back.

Plus, if Giuliani gets the Republican nomination, I think Obama is the tougher matchup. Let's look at the polling.

The RealClearPolitics average has Obama losing to Giuliani by only 2.2%, whereas Queen Hillary loses to the Mayor by 4.5%. Those numbers seem close, but remember they're averages of about 4 or 5 different polls. The key is that Obama wins two of the five polls averaged in the Giuliani/Obama matchup, with Giuliani winning the other three. By contrast all four polls in the hypothetical Giuliani/Clinton matchup swing for Giuliani.

Both Hillary and Obama run neck-and-neck against McCain, but I'd give Obama the edge. RealClearPolitics has Obama beating John McCain by 1%, while Hillary loses to McCain by 1.6%. I know, I know, margin of error. But in McCain vs. Obama, McCain has the same problems as Hillary. There's a large swath of people who will never vote for the man (myself included), and his generation represents a step back, not forward.

In other matchups, while Clinton beats Romney convincingly, Obama beats Romney going away. Obama's average lead over Romney is almost 20%, and is 7.1 points higher than Hillary's lead. Actually, even John Edwards polls better against Romney than Hillary does. There's no chance that Romney could ever beat any Democrat in the general election.

Things are changing on the Democratic side, however. In the west and the south, Obama has apparently pulled dead even with Hillary. She still retains a two to one lead in the northeast. With the new über-Tuesday election giving more weight to the big states, it's going to be anybody's race, especially if Obama can take California. Even though I'm voting Republican, I'd so love to see Obama beat Hillary. I hate coronations.

* I realize I'm vulnerable to the same criticism, since I have always scoffed at the Romney candidacy. But the reason I don't think Romney can win is not because he's a Mormon. It's because he's a nobody, he looks plastic, and the country is in the middle of an anti-conservative backlash right now. Romney's been marketed as the conservative's conservative, and that's not going to go over well in the general. By contrast, Giuliani has crossover appeal because he's the anti-conservative conservative. His liberal social views make him more acceptable to the average general election voter, who fancies him or herself more "tolerant" than the typical primary voter.

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March 22, 2007

Paraphrased Quote Of The Day

Is by Frank J, paraphrased by me:

[Al Gore] got Cs in Yale in political science -- a type of science -- [yet he's] angry at the world [for] not submitting unquestioningly to his wisdom.
True and funny.

Posted by annika at 09:56 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

March 21, 2007

Breaking News



I have discovered amazing evidence that Global Warming is real, that it is caused by human activity, and that we are quickly approaching the end of the world.

I looked at my TTLB stats tonight, and the graph for average daily visits to my blog looked frighteningly familiar. By consulting my scientific sources (i.e. I googled it) I was able to find a graph showing the recent increase in average global temperatures.

Sure enough, when I superimposed the two graphs, an inconvenient truth emerged!


The debate is over, the science is in: My blog is at fault for global warming.

Well, as soon as I realized this, my first thought was, "how embarrassing." My second thought was, "If I am to blame, what can I do to save the planet?"

So now you know why, in sixty days time, I will retire this blog. Sorry about that.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 74


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March 20, 2007

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 73


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No Brainer


Cliff filling in for Big Pussy.

I guess when Ratzenberger got the call from ABC, it was a short conversation.

"So what you're sayin' is, I get to dry grind with the hottest body on the show, who's basically wearing a bikini and heels, but you can only pay me scale? Umm— I just have one question, can I borrow your pen?"

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March 19, 2007

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 72


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March 18, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

Watch the whole thing, spread the word.

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My mom gave me a gift subscription to Time Magazine last year. I've tried, I've really tried to read it every week, but it's damn near impossible. It's like they deliberately try to insult me every week. I know it's the thought that counts, but I think I'm going to have to cancel my free subscription.

The problem is that Time is a liberal op-ed magazine, masquerading as a non-partisan news source. I could respect them, and even read it occasionally, if they would just admit the truth. But to do so might reduce the effectiveness of the subliminal propaganda they spit out each week. There's no way to avoid it, unless you stop grocery shopping and visiting the dentist.

If I read something in the Village Voice, or Mother Jones, or the LA Weekly, saying "all conservatives are evil" I can take it with a grain of salt, it's no big deal. But when Time Magazine, in a "news" cover story starts out like this, I get mad.

George Bush's sense of humor has always run more to frat-house gag than art-house irony, so he may not have appreciated the poetic justice any more than the legal justice on display in the Libby verdict.

Or, to be more precise, the Cheney verdict.

In a mere 46 words, Time managed to call the president of the United States a lowbrow, call him stupid, then pronounce the Libby verdict as "justice" when it's actually 180° the opposite of justice. Then to top it all off, Time proclaims that Cheney was somehow convicted by the Libby jury. And that's just the first 46 words.

You know, there's a lot of folks in this country who voted for the President, and like the President. There's a lot of folks who really like Dick Cheney, and we're not stupid. We understand that there are people who don't think so, but it's insulting to read a supposedly unbiased news magazine calling the Vice President a criminal, as if I'm supposed to agree. Like saying the Dow was at 11000, or the temperature in Minneapolis yesterday was 53°.

A few weeks ago I tossed the magazine with the pro-abortion cover in the trash without even opening it. I didn't open the one that asked "Does sending more soldiers to Iraq make any sense?" either. I knew the answer to that question. I also knew their answer, and that it was different from mine. But next week's cover really takes the cake: Ronald Reagan crying. First of all, they have no right to touch, let alone re-touch that great man's picture. Second, I simply don't trust them to write about conservative discontent without it being a 3000 word essay on schadenfreude.

And it's not even well written, or well reported. Lately they've taken to using introductory phrases like "here's how..." and "here's why..." As in "With the U.S. tied down in Iraq, a new superpower has arrived. Here's how to deal with it." Or, "The Iraq Study Group says it's time for an exit strategy, Why Bush will listen." Of course, when the President rightly ignores the ISG's report, Time ignores its faulty prediction. But that doesn't stop them from continuing to use that annoying phraseology. Another example: "As the U.S. strikes al-Qaeda, a new government tries to restore order. Here's what it will take."

That phrase bugs me so much because it's like they're assuming some sort of know-it-all status, without ever demonstrating to me that they know anything. When you're wrong as often as Time's writers are, they shouldn't be so presumptuous.

The Time story intro has become so formulaic, I could probably write a script for it if I knew how to write code. All you do is take some story that is happening, insert some anti-Republican or anti-war spin, then promise the reader that you'll have all the answers in the article by saying "here's how."

Here are some examples, just off the top of my head:

A story about JetBlue delays might be introduced like this:

While JetBlue executives struggle to regain passengers' confidence in the wake of storm caused delays, experts say global warming could damage airline stocks even further? Here's how you can protect your portfolio.
A story about Valerie Plame's testimony?
With the U.S. bogged down in Iraq, new questions surround pre-war intelligence as Valerie Plame wows Congress. Here's why her testimony will doom the Bush admistration.
Nintendo's Wii?
Millions of Americans have fallen in love with the new Wii gaming platform. Here's how Alberto Gonzales intends to ruin their fun.
It's easy, you try it.

Posted by annika at 10:56 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

March 17, 2007

March Madness


Is it me, or does Greg Oden look like he's about a thousand years old?

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March 16, 2007

The Big Issue For Election 2008...

If anyone is smart enough to capitalize on it, the big issue that may decide the next presidential election is not the war. It's the mortgage crisis. I say this because it's a pocketbook issue that will affect every voter regardless of whether they rent, own, or live with their parents. The combination of balooning payments and falling house values has a wide ranging effect on business as well as ordinary people. It could hurt all of us because the long awaited housing crash just might bring on another recession.

And guess what, we've known it was coming for at least five years but like with the dot coms, nobody wanted to say anything because too many people were making money. Everybody and their brother wanted to get in on the housing boom, and lenders were all too happy to throw cash at them. Realtors weren't going to say anything. They were like, "don't worry man, you're equity is going to skyrocket." And the lenders just said, "hey, when the adjustable hits, you can always refinance."

But as I watched this all unfold from the sidelines, I always predicted that it couldn't go on forever. Didn't the 1929 crash happen because of easy credit? And there's no way people should be spending 50% of their take home pay on a mortgage. I thought the rule of thumb was 25%, one third tops. How is your average Californian supposed to afford $450,000 for a first home? Just because some crooked lender will give you the loan with no money down, doesn't mean you should take it. But people do, because everybody's doing it.

Sacramento is a prime example. I read somewhere that this city was second only to Palm Beach, Florida in overblown housing prices. My boyfriend, God bless him, did everything wrong. When we first started going out, he was in the process of dumping a house that he had bought at the very top of the market, when properties were selling almost the day they got listed. He put it up for sale a year later, just after everything slowed down. There were about six houses with his exact same floor plan for sale within a radius of a couple of blocks. Luckily, after four months of waiting, and hardly any lookers, he sold to an investment buyer who ended up renting the house. Christopher bought at the crest and sold at the trough. Thus ended his foray into the "get rich through home ownership" scheme.

If my boyfriend hadn't sold when he did, the value of his house was in danger of falling below the amount of his mortgage. He ended up with a tiny profit, but lots of people aren't going to be so lucky. When the adjustable rate goes through the roof, and people aren't able to sell because of falling prices, look out. A lot of folks are going to get hurt.

(I also wondered what was going to happen to all those Gulf Coast homeowners, especially in New Orleans. I imagine there are going to be a lot of foreclosures down there, if there haven't already been. What if you got screwed by the insurance company, the bank still wants their money, and they don't care if you're living out of a trailer (or not) and you still haven't got your job at the liquor store back because that place went out of business too?)

Maybe I'm being too pessimistic, but I think the mortgage crisis is going to be a real problem. Hillary thinks so too, and savvy politician that she is, she's already made it a campaign issue. This is exactly the type of issue that Democrats win elections on because the conservative response is usually to let the free market sort itself out. People don't want to hear that. If things get really bad, Hillary will score points being the first one to call for a homeowner's bail-out. Predictably, she faults Bush for doing nothing while sub-prime lenders dug us into this hole. And you know what, I can't say she's wrong about that.

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Bronco Bomber On Rims?

You thought my nickname for him was silly? No, this is silly.

Posted by annika at 01:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 15, 2007



Please please let Edwards win the nomination.

Posted by annika at 02:18 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

March 09, 2007

Hey Gingrich Lovers...

You know who you are.

Look, I like Newt. Don't get me wrong. But you know what I like more? A Republican in the White House.

In the latest Gallup poll, which of the top candidates from both parties is the only one whose unfavorable rating is higher than their favorable rating. I'll give you a hint. It's not Hillary.


Okay, well maybe Newt hasn't been out in public enough. He should write some books. Check. He should go on Fox News. Check. He should call Hannity's show. Oh, check.

Okay, well at least there's twenty months between now and election day. That's plenty of time for Newt to change people's minds, right?

Oh, well, except that he's decided to save money by waiting until September before he gets in the race. And with a bunch of big states moving their primaries up to February 5th, that gives Newt only five months to change his image.

Okay, well maybe Newt can use the time between now and September to ramp up his public image. Do a full court press on the public. Show everybody what a great guy he is. He should start today. Give an interview with Dobson or somebody.

Oh, he did? Ouch. That's not exactly moving in the right direction, but it's a start, I guess.

Sorry Newt lovers. Stick a fork in the salamander, he's done.

h/t Hot Air

Posted by annika at 09:59 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Parker v. District of Columbia

In case you haven't heard, the big news today is that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right.

I know, it's a shock.

The language of the decision is so out of step with the type of wishy-washy "living document" bullshit theory of Constitutional interpretation I've become resigned to, I want someone to pinch me to make sure I'm not dreaming.

We start by considering the competing claims about the meaning of the Second Amendment’s operative clause: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” Appellants contend that “the right of the people” clearly contemplates an individual right and that “keep and bear Arms” necessarily implies private use and ownership. The District’s primary argument is that “keep and bear Arms” is best read in a military sense, and, as a consequence, the entire operative clause should be understood as granting only a collective right. The District also argues that “the right of the people” is ambiguous as to whether the right protects civic or private ownership and use of weapons.

In determining whether the Second Amendment’s guarantee is an individual one, or some sort of collective right, the most important word is the one the drafters chose to describe the holders of the right — “the people.” That term is found in the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments. It has never been doubted that these provisions were designed to protect the interests of individuals against government intrusion, interference, or usurpation. We also note that the Tenth Amendment — “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people” — indicates that the authors of the Bill of Rights were perfectly capable of distinguishing between “the people,” on the one hand, and “the states,” on the other. The natural reading of “the right of the people” in the Second Amendment would accord with usage elsewhere in the Bill of Rights.

The District’s argument, on the other hand, asks us to read “the people” to mean some subset of individuals such as “the organized militia” or “the people who are engaged in militia service,” or perhaps not any individuals at all — e.g., “the states.” . . . These strained interpretations of “the people” simply cannot be squared with the uniform construction of our other Bill of Rights provisions. Indeed, the Supreme Court has recently endorsed a uniform reading of “the people” across the Bill of Rights. . . .

. . .

It seems unlikely that the Supreme Court would have lumped these provisions together without comment if it were of the view that the Second Amendment protects only a collective right. The Court’s discussion certainly indicates — if it does not definitively determine — that we should not regard “the people” in the Second Amendment as somehow restricted to a small subset of “the people” meriting protection under the other Amendments’ use of that same term.

In sum, the phrase “the right of the people,” when read intratextually and in light of Supreme Court precedent, leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual.

Parker v. District of Columbia at 18-19.

But here's the best part:
The wording of the operative clause also indicates that the right to keep and bear arms was not created by government, but rather preserved by it. . . . Hence, the Amendment acknowledges “the right . . . to keep and bear Arms,” a right that pre-existed the Constitution like “the freedom of speech.” Because the right to arms existed prior to the formation of the new government . . . the Second Amendment only guarantees that the right “shall not be infringed.”

Id at 20-21.

That's just beautiful. Our rights "pre-existed the formation of the new government," because they came from God, not from the government. It's so easy to forget that in this age when the mere mention of the word "God" can label you as some sort of fanatic. But you don't have to believe in God to marvel at the reasoning of the Court. All you need to know is that there's a difference between the government and your rights, and in a free society, government must bow to those rights, which preceded government itself.

"People" means people, people. That's what originalism is all about. First you determine what the Constitution says (not what you wish it said), then you determine if the law in question departs from the Constitution. If it does, then there is a mechanism for changing the Constitution, specified within the Constitution. You don't simply disregard the Founding Document and make up a lie about what it really means.

This decision will make its way to the Supreme Court, and thank George W. Bush, we'll have Roberts and Alito on our side hopefully.

Posted by annika at 08:37 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Democrats Are Wimps

Why are the Democrats so afraid of Fox News? It's a live debate, what do they think will happen? It's not like Fox News might superimpose an X over John Edwards' face while she's talking. Nobody would do that.

Posted by annika at 07:55 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 08, 2007

"Wooo, Dropped Wide Open..."

Sundance and Jared are such nice guys, and Sabrina was my favorite.

So like everybody, I guess, I'm floored by the upsets on American Idol tonight.

But Cal beat UCLA, hooooyah!!!

Posted by annika at 10:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Way To Win, 1.0

People are making a big deal about Bronco Bomber's recent surge in the polls against Hillary, most notably among black voters. Hillary made a fool of herself in Selma, and Bomber is clearly making her scramble earlier than anyone thought she would. But she'll survive that embarrassment.

I still don't see Bronco's insurgent campaign winning the nomination in the long run. I like Bronco Bomber, I'm reading his book. I don't like his politics, but for me, he represents the end of the baby boomer stranglehold on American political leadership, which can only be a good thing. Too bad he's going up against the Clinton machine.

I'm sure that Hillary and her staff have been behind the growing list of thinly veiled attacks on the Bronco Bomber campaign. The list includes:

Clinton and her/his allies are denying that they were behind the steady drip drip of opposition research against Bronco. Clinton supporters have already tried to blame Republicans for these well timed attacks against a Democratic challenger who's still polling well behind the presumptive nominee.

That's just crazy. Republicans need Bronco Bomber to mount a strong campaign. It doesn't make sense to knock him down. Every serious political observer knows that Bronco won't win the nomination unless something catastrophic happens between now and the beginning of next year. Given a choice between an establishment front-runner and a populist challenger, Democrats will always nominate the establishment candidate. I think the only modern exception to that rule was McGovern, so you can see why they wouldn't want to make that mistake again.

From my long range vantage point — almost 20 months from election day — I'm beggining to see two general strategies that each party should use to ensure victory.

For the Democrats, it's easy. Hillary will be the nominee, and she will have a fight on her hands if she goes against Giuliani. That's because she won't be able to take the big blue states for granted. But Giuliani's weakness among social conservatives can be Hillary's secret weapon if she practices a bit of political judo. All she needs is a far right third party candidate, and she will cruise back into the White House. Some say the Republicans were behind Ralph Nader's candidacy back in 2000. I don't know, but it's obvious that Gore would have been president if he'd had Nader's 2% in Florida. I think a Republican Nader, like Pat Buchanan or someone of his ilk, would be just what the doctor ordered for Hillary's ailing campaign. She needs to stop worrying about Bronco and start looking for a social conservative to funnel money to.

For the Republicans, the key is in preparing the general election battlefield by defining Hillary now. She's giving them all the help they need, as she stupidly attacks Bronco through her surrogates. Every time another sneaky negative story appears in the New York Times or some other pro-Clinton organ, the Republicans should take note and tie it to her campaign. The key is to define Hillary as a female Nixon. Devious, sneaky, mean, and unlikeable. You want people thinking these things when the general election comes around.

She'll do anything to win.

That Obama guy seemed nice, and look what she did to him.

You don't want to cross her.

She has an enemies list, just like Nixon.

Her past history fits in well with this narrative. Remember Travelgate?

I had thought that Hillary's left flank might be her undoing, but now I don't think so. Other than a few scattered hecklers, I haven't seen the unhinged protesters that I expected to follow her around. I think even the true believers know that she's their best chance if they want to avoid repeating the humiliations of 2000 and 2004. That may change as Bronco gets stronger, though. Another reason why I'd like to see him continue the charge.

Posted by annika at 04:54 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Irony On Top Of Irony On Top Of Irony

A USC free speech group was fined by the university for posting flyers outside USC's free speech zone, which say "This is not a free speech zone."

Story at LAist.

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Flaming Pianos

Things you can do when you have a country estate:

"Pretty unimpressive," he says? Now there's a dude with ambition.

Via Maximum Leader

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March 07, 2007

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

I thought this one was interesting. I was looking for poems about hamburgers, because I just ate one.

Burger King

by Henry Burt Stevens

"At Burger King, Midday Sunday, Ft Myers, Florida"

Moving slowly not
to spoil their raiment

moving calmly
still otherworldly,

they do not see any of us
white, brown, or black

sitting with our families
eating burgers and fries,

though they smile gently
to one another.

We know who we are
and why we are not seen.

If it happens while
we're all together

we'll see them taken up
leaving us behind

but for now the saved
have joined with us for lunch.

Posted by annika at 02:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 05, 2007

Annika's Journal Film Festival: Elizabeth Taylor, Part 3

A happy belated birthday to Elizabeth Taylor, who was born February 27, 1932, in Hampstead, London, England.

Today's movie needs no introduction.


Cleopatra, 1963

This is the big one. Cleopatra is the most expensive American film ever made. Adjusted for inflation, it cost more to make than either Waterworld or Titanic. Only the Russian made War And Peace from 1968 cost more. The 44 million Cleopatra's producers spent by 1963 translates to over 285 million dollars today.

Cleopatra almost destroyed 20th Century Fox. For a time, it was the only movie in production from the studio. It's an example of how not to make a movie, if you want to save money. First, they completely rolled over for Elizabeth Taylor. Not only did they pay her million dollar asking price, with no counter-offer, they agreed to all her other demands including that it be made outside the U.S. When all was said and done (including a lawsuit filed by 20th Century Fox against Taylor and Burton) she ended up taking home 7 million.

Twentieth Century Fox originally started filming at Pinewood Studios in London, constructing a huge outdoor set of Alexandria. Taylor got sick (she almost died from pneumonia) and the production sat idle while she recuperated. They couldn't film because she was in mostly every scene. England's weather wouldn't cooperate either. It seems Rome and Alexandria in the fog just wasn't convincing enough for a big budget epic, so they finally destroyed the set and moved the production to Italy. By the time they were finished with it, cameras had rolled in England, Italy, Egypt and Spain.

Because of the delays, they also had to replace the original director and their two male leads, who got sick of waiting around doing nothing. Meanwhile, the script was written as the filming was going on, which required the production schedule to follow the script. That's not the most efficient use of sets and personnel because it requires that everybody stick around collecting paychecks, whether or not they're going to be used that day.

And the sets were extravagant. If you look at the details in the background, you can see they spared no expense. The gold leaf was real gold. Even the props were beautifully hand crafted. One minor actor had a sceptre made for him, which cost a shitload of money. After one rehearsal he said to director Joseph Mankiewicz "Joe, do I need this stick?" Mankiewicz said, "No, get rid of it." The actor later grumbled, "That's the trouble with this picture. It's full of such sticks." Another example — one of Elizabeth Taylor's 65 costumes was made out of spun gold.

Producer Walter Wanger (who did four months in jail for shooting a guy in the dick) seemed like the perfect guy to handle an iconic female biopic, since he made Queen Christina with Greta Garbo back in 1933. He wasn't up to the task. After Cleopatra, he never made another movie. Studio head Spyros Skouras was accused of cooking the books to hide the runaway spending from Fox's shareholders. When one accountant refused to cooperate, Skouras fired him and got one who would.

The scene in the YouTube video below is one of my favorites from the movie. Here Queen Cleopatra makes her triumphant entry into Rome with Caesarion at her side. It's a pretty good example of how the filmmakers spared absolutely no expense on this picture. There's no CG animation of course. So when you see Queen Cleopatra riding on a 50 foot sphinx being pulled by a hundred men through the Arch of Titus, she's really riding on a 50 foot sphinx being pulled by a hundred men through the Arch of Titus.* When they originally started filming this scene the shadows were unacceptable to DP Leon Shamroy, so they had to wait another six months before trying again.

Cleopatra is an incredible motion picture, as befitting an incredible woman, Cleopatra VII, the last Pharoah of Egypt. It's over four hours long (cut down from the original six hours) and even I couldn't watch it in one sitting. Its strengths include the spectacular pageantry, costumes and majestic score, which you can see and hear in the above YouTube clip. The battle scenes are great, and some of the matte paintings are indistinguishable from reality. The movie's weaknesses include the plodding script, which never seems to get into the character of its main subject. We learn a lot about what Cleopatra did, but we never really seem to get to know her.

By contrast, we learn that Marc Antony was kind of a loser, while Gaius Julius Caesar was a real winner. Rex Harrison (pre-Henry Higgins) was surprisingly convincing as the Dictator of Rome. Richard Burton, on the other hand, played Marc Antony as if he had just graduated from the William Shatner school of acting. For some reason, Burton's Roman skirt is about six inches too short throughout the movie. It looks silly, and his legs weren't that great.

In this next scene you can see the assassination of Julius Caesar through Cleopatra's eyes. Yes, that's Carol O'Connor sticking the first dagger in. (How fitting that Casca would be played by Archie Bunker.)

There are some great scenes that unfortunately I couldn't find on YouTube, including the one where Cleopatra has a public spat with Marc Antony, who comes to her seeking grain and an alliance.

Cleopatra: Without a treaty of alliance with Egypt, you could not hold the territories under your command. True?

Antony: Possibly.

Cleopatra: Then Lord Antony, you come before me as a suppliant.

Antony: If you choose to regard me as such.

Cleopatra: I do. You will therefore assume the position of a suppliant before this throne. You will kneel.

Antony: (incredulous) I will what?

Cleopatra: On... your... knees.

Antony: You dare ask the proconsul of the Roman Empire...

Cleopatra: (pissed) I asked it of Julius Caesar. I demand it of you.

Oh, he kneels.

Elizabeth Taylor's performance did not earn her an Oscar nomination, as Rex Harrison's did. She was inconsistent and seemed lost with such a big script. Some of this might not be her fault, of course. After she saw the film, Taylor complained that her best work had been edited out when Daryl Zanuck insisted that it be cut down to a manageable four hours.

When the real Cleopatra first met Caesar, after sneaking into his room in a rolled up carpet, she was only nineteen years old. She died at age 39, legend says from a self inflicted asp bite. Yet, Elizabeth Taylor never seems to grow in the film. Her nineteen year old Queen acts the same as her 39 year old Queen. Only the costumes are different.

The most fantastic scene for me was the depiction of the Battle of Actium. Roman history buffs know this was the naval battle off the coast of Greece between the forces of Octavian and the forces of Marc Antony, which ended the Roman Civil War and signaled the end of the Roman Republic. Watching the movie, I knew the ships were all models, but it's such an unfamiliar scene I found it believable.


I gave Cleopatra four Netflix stars (really liked it). I did really like it, even while I wished it could have been better. It's just so big, it's an accomplishment getting through the whole thing. And I feel like all the effort they put into such an epic does count for something, although it is ultimately unsatisfying. I suspect that if they ever find and restore all that lost footage, the original six hour version will probably be a lot better.

* Never mind that the Arch of Titus was built a hundred years after Cleopatra's death.

Posted by annika at 07:43 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Hansbrough's Nose Is Broke

We all went to bed last night thinking Tyler Hansbrough's nose was bloody but unbroken. However, x-rays today confirm a non-displaced hairline fracture, which is surely painful but not as bad as it could have been.

I've watched the replay of the flagrant foul several times and it's really hard to decide what to think. Looking at the camera angle from behind the basket, Henderson's elbow easily looks intentional, and flagrant. From that viewpoint the way he twists his body appears unnecessary, unless he were trying to throw the elbow. It also looks almost like he's got a closed fist too. But when I look at the replay with the camera angle from the left of the key, it looks totally accidental. From that angle, Henderson's hand is open, and it does appear that his mid-air twist was an attempt to maintain his balance as he came down from his jump.

What do you think?

Posted by annika at 03:23 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 04, 2007

Annika's Journal Now Selling Carbon Offsets

[What the hell is a carbon offset?]



Buy carbon offsets from me.

Even though I don't know what a carbon offset is, I know a moneymaker when I see one.

You, guilt ridden Annika's Journal reader that you are, can save the world! One book at a time. One DVD at a time. One moderately priced cheese sampler at a time.

First, a description of the problem.

All scientists agree that:

  1. The Earth is warming.

  2. It's your fault.

  3. You can do something about it.

  4. If you don't do something about it, the animals will die.

  5. If you don't do something about it, the good rich people will have to move away from Malibu, Palm Beach and the Upper East Side.

  6. Doing something about it should somehow involve penalizing the bad rich people like those evil corporation men.

  7. Doing something about it will make you feel good, even if the world ends up getting destroyed anyway. Or not.
[N.B. Anyone who disagrees with any of the above propositions statements of incontrovertible fact will be immediately banned from this site, and your comments removed. This is not an example of censorship. No not at all. Its just that there are certain prerequisites of intelligence and knowledge that all commenters to this blog should possess. It's what my readers expect, after all. By disagreeing with what I say is incontrovertible fact, you are demonstrating that you do not possess the minimum intelligence and knowledge required, and therefore in order to maintain the credibility of this weblog — you must be smacked down sucka!!!]

Now that you understand the problem (animals dying, good people moving), I'm sure you want to know how to help. After all, Al Gore recently said that all we need in order to solve the problem is in our very own hands, except for the will to act, which we also have. Which means that we have everything we need.

But although we have everything we need, we don't have everything we want. This might seem unrelated at first but if you keep reading you'll see that the two points are very related.

When I say we don't have everything we want, what I really mean is I don't have everything I want. For instance, I don't have:

  • Hawaii Five-0 - The Complete First Season. I love this show, and I've been waiting for the DVD set to come out for years! Coincidentally, Hawaii is another place that will probably be destroyed because of you and your decadent lifestyle.

  • A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. I've been working my way through Martin's "Song of Fire and Ice" series, and I'm halfway through it. This is the next book in the series and I want it. By the way, a song of fire and ice is what you'll be singing if you don't get off your ass and do something to stop global warming.

  • Two pounds of Spanish cheese. This item doesn't necessarily have anything to do with global warming, but who doesn't love Manchego cheese? I know I do. It's great with just a sprinkle of olive oil on it. Of course, if we don't stop global warming, all the olive trees will die.
There are plenty of other things I want too. You can find them here.

To sum up what I'm trying to say, we have everything we need to stop global warming but I don't have everything I want.

So here's the deal. You can save the world and help stop global warming by buying me shit. Your purchases will help pay for carbon offsets that I will do, or make, or whatever. For every dollar you spend on me, I promise to reduce the carbon footprint of my apartment by turning off all non-essential electrical devices for one hour.* This could add up to some serious non-electrical usage depending on how many offsets you buy.


So save the planet — buy me stuff. If they knew how much you cared, I'm sure the polar bears would thank you. (Assuming they could talk, and wouldn't eat you first, which they probably would, but you get my point — it's for the animals.)

* Up to a maximum of 8 hours per day, weekends excluded. Non-essential electrical devices does not include refrigerators, clock radios, and any device that uses a clock or would be a hassle to unplug like my cable box.

Posted by annika at 03:01 PM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

Annika Rocks!

Yes, I do.


Thanks, Mike.

Posted by annika at 02:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 01, 2007

Amendment To Earlier Pledge

I have already publicly pledged that I will not vote for John McCain in the unlikely event that he gets the Republican nomination. I stand by that pledge, but I'm adding this addendum: If the Republican Party is stupid enough to nominate McCain, I plan to write in "Preston Taylor Holmes."

Posted by annika at 12:49 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Travel Tips 2.0

I thought they had a phone in the john, but when I picked it up it blew hot air at me.

Posted by annika at 08:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack