Hello, Clarice.

hopkins.jpgI realized some years back that the reason we have heroes in movies is really that there are so few of them. We truly do want unbending honesty, and heroic defenders, and powerful people who fight for truth and justice.

But they’re next to impossible to get in real life. Instead we get … George W. Bush. Jesse Jackson. Britney Spears. People who can’t even aspire to be flawed heroes, because though they possess flaws in abundance, they don’t have the required heroism. They’re just people — famous ones, but not very good ones.

The other side of the thing holds true, though, too. Some of the bad people we see in movies are there because there are so few of them.

For instance, when’s the last time you heard of a real Mad Scientist? I’m guessing pretty close to never. They make it into the movies because they almost don’t exist in real life, and so filmmakers feel free to use them as convenient boogeymen.

Continue reading “Hello, Clarice.”

Davey & Goliath

davey.jpgRemember Davey and Goliath?

Wikipedia says:

Davey and Goliath was the title of a 1960s stop-motion animated television series. The programs, produced by the Lutheran Church in America […], were produced by Art Clokey after the success of his Gumby series. / Each 15-minute episode features the adventures of Davey Hansen and his “talking” dog Goliath […] as they learn the love of God through everyday occurrences.”

I just came across a mildly annoying review of the series at Amazon.com, where Prairie Cajun says “Unfortunately, a series such as this would find it hard to be placed on television these days for the simple fact that our society has become so caught up in not offending anyone. How dare you teach Christian morals and values to children! ”

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Notes of a Fanboy

batman.jpgI went to see the 12:01 a.m. screening of the new Batman movie, and … whoa. I’m really torn about saying this, because I love the superheroes with actual superpowers, but this is probably the best “superhero” movie ever made. The acting throughout was stellar — there wasn’t so much as an eyebrow out of place — but the writing, the dialogue, all the rest of it was incredibly good too.

Oscars: Yes, Heath Ledger deserves an Oscar for the chilling, deadly Joker he created. But Michael Caine deserves an Oscar too, for his supporting role. Aaron Eckhart deserves at least a nomination.

Sitting in the theater and looking around at the audience, I didn’t see another person my age in the room. I don’t know whether they had all grown up and left Batman behind, or maybe were just at home in bed at this unreasonable hour. And all the young people sitting around me — how did they come to know and like the Batman? Was it the movies? The hype about THIS movie? The graphic novels?

It’s amazing the stuff you can find inside yourself: At one point I actually looked around and sniffed with disdain at that audience of 20-somethings. None of these people were REAL fans like me, whose life has encompassed most of Batman’s 69-year history, and who has been a reader of comic books since I learned how. 

Get it? I felt SUPERIOR for a moment. Because I’m a better comic book fan.  


Letter to An Administrator

letter-writer.jpgYou may be aware that PZ Myers has come to the attention of the Catholic League (“For Religious and Civil Rights”), for lightheartedly offering to “desecrate” a communion wafer, if someone would send him one.

The shriekers are out in force, apparently, and Dr. Myers has asked for a pushback from the secular community. I encourage every good-hearted person of intelligence to pitch in.

Here’s my effort, a letter to the President of the University of Minnesota: 

President Robert H. Bruininks

202 Morrill Hall

100 Church Street S.E.

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN 55455

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Sauron II: Cheated Dogs

Once more onto the soapbox, dear friends:

sauron-2.jpgI had a friend who had 40 sled dogs. And oh boy, did they ever LOVE pulling those sleds! You could see it in how eager they were to get in harness. They leaped, they wriggled, they screamed to get into harness and start pulling.

I took my own two dogs out for hikes – off leash – in true wilds twice a day, in the woods, along mountain trails, along creeks, and on remote dirt roads.

One summer I started taking one of his sled dogs, my favorite, with us. At first, Walter was afraid of everything on the walks. He shied away from a creek barely a foot wide, and finally crossed it by jumping over it about four feet in the air. He didn’t even know it was water – it was several days before I could get him to drink from the creek. When he finally dipped his muzzle into it, then put a foot into it, he splashed and ran in it like it was the most exciting thing he’d ever seen.

Continue reading “Sauron II: Cheated Dogs”

The Eye of Sauron Looks Down and Sees … Dogs

trick-dog.jpgOkay, that’s it.

I just read a story in the Washington Post about a new CBS TV show, “Greatest American Dog.”

Look, to begin with, I don’t like “reality” TV. I don’t watch it. But I’m okay with it if a bunch of idiots want to go out on national TV and eat cow anuses or climb out on narrow beams above pits of broken glass, all for the remote chance of winning money. Not only do I think they’re more than welcome to do that, I know they don’t even have to care about my opinion. I’m fine with it, seriously. For all I care, as long as they’re adults, and they’re freely choosing to do those stupid things, they can all wind up in wheelchairs. Yeah, it would hurt me to see something like that happen to a fellow human being, but tragedies happen every day and I don’t think I have any right to interfere in other people’s private decisions. Heck, I’m the guy who thinks suicide should be legal. And at least they get a chance at the money, unlike all those people who have crippling injuries while skateboarding or riding motorcycles.

Continue reading “The Eye of Sauron Looks Down and Sees … Dogs”

Carl Buell Rocks. That is all.

titanotylopus_abc.jpgSome pretty neat news (and I hope I have all the details right):

Good friend and paleontological illustrator Carl Buell will have art on ABC Evening News with Charles Gibson on Friday night, July 4th, 6:30 p.m. Eastern time.

The news piece has something to do with American expatriots, and will somehow weave in the fact that the recent diaspora is not the first. It happened as far back as the Oligocene, as long as 33 million years ago, with camels. Originated in North America, moved elsewhere; died out here, succeeded there.

Five of Carl’s paintings of camel ancestors will be featured.

The one shown here is Titanotylopus.