Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Today's roundup will be short and sweet. Quite frankly, beyond these few brief highlights there isn't too much to recommend out there this week. Next month is a different matter altogether. October will be one of those months where we won't know how to fit everything into one week. September is going out like a lamb. A really scary green lamb with pointy teeth. Killer lambs. You may call me... Tim. In case you didn't get the oblique Monty Python reference, we aren't really talking about sheep (or rabbits for that matter). While the last week of the month will be rather low key as far as releases go, these next few gems definitly deserve the Top Shelf pick.
Top Shelf Pick of the Week!
Dracula and Frankenstein 75th Anniversary editions.
When I was a kid I used to go to a church Halloween Carnival (we did those back in the day) that had a lot of fun things to do as a kid. I was never much for the haunted house, or for anything very gory, but something about the fantasy and imagination about Halloween appealed to me. OK, actually it was the candy, but the imagination and ... you get the idea. Anyway, one year the carnival was offering a movie room where we could go and watch a "kiddie" Halloween movie, usually low on scary and high on the funny. Cartoons, etc. were the standard fare. However, this one year they were showing Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. I had seen A&C movies by that point; my father had made sure of that. I really wanted to see A & C, but the Frankenstein part of the equation made me weary. I didn't care for the horror or scary stuff. I pressed on and watched, for the first time, what is now an all time favorite movie. And a monster movie at that. I loved it. Sure, it was a little scary now and then, but there was something about it (the humor, A &C, the gothic nature of it) that made up for it.
During this same time (in the 70s/80s), monsters were making a bit of a second comeback of sorts on television. Children's television to be exact. Cartoons that featured the classic "monsters" were popular: Groovie Goolies, Drac Pack, Fang Face and more. "Monster" films were shown on late night television.
Years later I watched the original classics: Dracula and Frankenstein and was impressed with not only the storytelling and imagery, but the heart that was in Frankenstein in particular. They were creepy and scary, but charming and entralling at the same time. Not too long ago, Universal released the Monster Legacy Collection series. Each set included the original film, plus several sequels or spin off films and several featurettes. If you own those DVD sets, I see no real pressing need to get these DVDs. These 75th Anniversary DVDs contain only the featured film, some features from the previous release, and an added documentary on the Universal Monsters. You are better off getting the Legacy Collection. So why are these DVDs the Top Shelf pick? Cause it's getting close to Halloween, man! If you don't have them and can't find the Legacy Collection sets (I haven't seen them in stores but Amazon still has 'em), then rush out and get these. And please, watch some A & C Meets Frankenstein also. For me? Thanks.
Tony Bennett: Duets: An American Classic
It's been a trend for a while now. An aging performer gets together with some younger performers or performers outside their genre and plows through their back catalog of material. Most famously, Sinatra did two albums that way. Not to be missed, however, is Tony Bennett. Jazzy, classy, and smooth Tony Bennett will be 80 years young this year. This album is part of a birthday celebration (a television concert follows in November of this year). There are some no brainer guests like Bono, Diana Krall, and kd lang. And then there is George Michael and the Dixie Chicks. Yeah... right. The thing is the Dixie Chicks duet is actually quite good when the Chicks are harmonizing. Surprise, surprise. Nonetheless, treat yourself. This duets album is good, mainly because of Tony. Classy as ever he performs his standards, never trying to overpower his partner, but trying to blend their performances into a nice, neat package. Highlight: The Best is Yet to Come – duet with Diana Krall and The Boulevard of Broken Dreams– duet with Sting. Skip: the George Michael duet. Trust me. Didn't work.
Natalie Cole: Leavin'
I love Natalie Cole. Now that my bias is out on the table, let's get down to brass tacks. That's a good word: brassy. Natalie's new album is definitly brassy. It has soul, pop, and jazz too. If you were expecting an album of standards, you'll be disappointed. But then again, maybe not. I love standards and I wasn't. That's because I knew this was something different. Natalie has taken several songs from other artists and rearranged them with different styles. For example, she took Fiona Apple's Criminal and fueled with some funk and attitude and made it sassy smooth. Aretha Franklin's Day Dreaming gets some added funk and layered hip hop. This is a great album. Highlight: Natalie's original 5 Minutes Away and Criminal. Lowlight: Natalie's reworking of Sting's If I Ever Lose My Faith in You. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as great as the other tracks. As always you can preview Tony and Natalie's latest albums plus more of this week's new releases over at aolmusic.
That's all for today's roundup folks. If today's Monster Mash didn't give you a little taste for Halloween, Wolf has a Halloween Candy review coming soon. Stick around.
Just wanted to throw in an interesting article (found via the folkes over at Digital Bits, thanks!) that was posted on CNN about the recent restoration work done on the new Criterion 3 disc special edition of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samuari (a previous Top Shelf Pick).
Also don't miss Greenbriar Picture Show's post on pop culture fads and their effect on film. It's an excellent example of what we have talked about before: pop culture can influence many areas of human endevor. By attempting to understand it contextually, we can learn more about the past, and in turn ourselves. Enjoy!
I've had this brain for thirty years. It hasn't done me any good!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
You've probably caught it on the news. If you are a YouTuber, you have probably seen the clips from the Clinton interview in which he becomes a little miffed at being asked about his administration's failures. He lit into Chris Wallace (no right winger himself) about doing a "right wing hit piece." He admitted his administration failed to take out Osama Bin Ladin "in 8 years" and accused the Bush administration of doing the same during their first "8 months" in office. Hmmm... 8 years... 8 months. He seemed like a man unhinged, astonished and infuriated that he should be questioned. Chris Wallace has even revealed that sometime ago, Howard Dean complimented him as "tough, but fair" when he interviewed Condi Rice. Of course, when Wallace interviews Clinton, he's doing a "hack job" Keith Olbermann (remember him? the sportscaster guy that got a political show on MSNBC?) has labeled Wallace "a monkey posing as a newscaster." Olberman also labeled Bush's presidency the "worst since James Buchanan", and that everything was being done for him. Uhh, Keith- I know you aren't much of a historian and all, but aren't those big words for a guy who for many years made his living by eloquently shouting things like "He put the biscuit in the basket!" into a microphone? I think there are quite a few other Presidents who take that title easily. Olbermann is , in frank terms, a biased idiot. Who's shilling for who, Mr. Olbermann? His intellectual incompetence, lack of integrity and honesty in favor of attacks and character assassinations, and his vitriolic rhetoric make him out to be more of propagandist that those that he accuses.
Bill Clinton himself is not above reproach. Many things happened in the 8 years Clinton was in office (The attack on The USS Cole, the 1993 attack on the WTC, the incident in Somalia, etc) that emboldened terrorists. Bin Ladin is cited as saying that our lack of resolve and response demonstrated to him that we were a "paper tiger". Clinton repeatedly cited the Richard Clarke book and stated that if he (I'm assuming he meant Chris Wallace) had read it he would see the truth. As Rush Limbaugh reported on his show, this may not be a smart move to make if he was trying to defend himself, as Clarke's book reinforces the notion that Clinton felt he couldn't do more than what little he did without political reprisals. Clarke states "In the absence of a bigger provocation from Al-Qaeda to silence his critics, Clinton thought he couldn't do anymore." In other words, Clinton was more concerned with his own political backside than the increasing threat of terrorism. There are some things that require you to make a stand, one that might be unpopular, but will prove out to be the right thing to do in the long run. Clinton was unable or unwilling to take that position. Now, some may say that it was his advisors or the media, etc. that "pushed" him to not do anything and backed him in a corner. That's fine if they feel that way. To me that just all the more illustrates my point.
However the truth is, terrorism is not Bill Clinton's fault, just as it is not Bush's fault. Terrorism's crimes and atrocities lie at the feet of the terrorists. However, Clinton could have made other choices and made other things a priority other than his own political legacy and agendas. Mr. Clinton's administration and their efforts or lack thereof will continue to be questioned and discussed, and historians will make judgments that they will. The Democrats are touting a very small section of the NIE terrorism report that was recently leaked, and stating it demonstrates that the Iraq war created more terrorism (see Gateway Pundit for more about this). Clinton, the Dems, and Olbermann are all engaged in the ultimate exercise of folly: finger pointing. The finger pointing game is being played for political points. What that means is that the American public, you and I, are being played. They expect several things:
A) Americans are stupid, they will just believe what we tell them.
B) Americans are lazy, they won't research and read things and figure them out.
C) Americans have no focus, they won't pay attention long enough to see if we are wrong.
That means their greatest weapons are
A) Shouting and Hyperbole
Americans are not lazy and stupid. We don't have to lie down and take it. We can, if we will, think for ourselves. For instance, the whole story on this is not being told. The Bush administration is now declassifying this report in total, because it contains a great deal more information than the "leak" provided. The report may demonstrate a much clearer picture that is different from the Democratic leaks. And now, the administration seems to be pushing back. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is now pointing out that Clinton's arguments and claims made during his outburst are "flatly false." In the later weeks there will be reports given very little if any coverage, that the report has much more positive findings. Hidden away in the AM hours and in the deep recesses of the papers you will continue to find reports of progress in the War on Terror. The thing is, we have to pay attention and stay focused and not be blinded by the slight of hand. Yes, Clinton will continue to work overtime in manipulating how his administration is remembered. And yes Olbermann will continue his best Howard Beale-esque imiation and crazed diatribes. And yes, the Harry Reid and other leftist Democrats will continue to cherry pick data and soundbite us into a coma. What can be different is how you respond. Will you just assume it's true because they are on TV, or will you think for yourself and do the research and the reading? Maybe you don't have time. I can understand- but you need to make some time for it- otherwise you do yourself a disservice. Make the time, and don't take everything at face value. Think for yourself.
UPDATE: Bush has declassified the NIE- expect to see more reaction over the next few hours. Thank God that MSNBC has experts like former SNL writer and near bankrupt talk show host Al Franken on hand to tell us what to think.
Also Afghanistan President Karzai appeared with President Bush today and made a statement in response to a question to the press, who were hoping for a great soundbite! They got one, but not the one they hoped for. The reporter is Jennifer Loven of the AP. Here is the question and Pres. Karzai's response:
"Jennifer Loven: And to President Karzai, if I might, what do you think of President Musharraf's comments that you need to get to know your own country better when you're talking about where terror threats and the Taliban threat is coming from?
PRESIDENT KARZAI: Ma'am, before I go to remarks by my brother, President Musharraf, terrorism was hurting us way before Iraq or September 11th. The President mentioned some examples of it. These extremist forces were killing people in Afghanistan and around for years, closing schools, burning mosques, killing children, uprooting vineyards, with vine trees, grapes hanging on them, forcing populations to poverty and misery.
They came to America on September 11th, but they were attacking you before September 11th in other parts of the world. We are a witness in Afghanistan to what they are and how they can hurt. You are a witness in New York. Do you forget people jumping off the 80th floor or 70th floor when the planes hit them? Can you imagine what it will be for a man or a woman to jump off that high? Who did that? And where are they now? And how do we fight them, how do we get rid of them, other than going after them? Should we wait for them to come and kill us again? That's why we need more action around the world, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to get them defeated -- extremism, their allies, terrorists and the like."
Ms. Loven had also asked President Bush a question that got a great answer that you will not see covered on the evening or morning news. The answer is very long and I exerpt it here. Please follow the link above for the entire transcript of the press conference with Pres. Karzai.
"Loven: Even after hearing that one of the major conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate in April was that the Iraq war has fueled terror growth around the world, why have you continued to say that the Iraq war has made this country safer?
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, to suggest that if we weren't in Iraq, we would see a rosier scenario with fewer extremists joining the radical movement requires us to ignore 20 years of experience. We weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th. We weren't in Iraq, and thousands of fighters were trained in terror camps inside your country, Mr. President. We weren't in Iraq when they first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. We weren't in Iraq when they bombed the Cole. We weren't in Iraq when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. My judgment is, if we weren't in Iraq, they'd find some other excuse, because they have ambitions. They kill in order to achieve their objectives.
You know, in the past, Osama bin Laden used Somalia as an excuse for people to join his jihadist movement. In the past, they used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was a convenient way to try to recruit people to their jihadist movement. They've used all kinds of excuses. This government is going to do whatever it takes to protect this homeland. We're not going to let their excuses stop us from staying on the offense. The best way to protect America is defeat these killers overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. We're not going to let lies and propaganda by the enemy dictate how we win this war.
....I want you to read the documents so you don't speculate about what it says. You asked me a question based upon what you thought was in the document, or at least somebody told you was in the document. And so I think, Jennifer, you'll be able to ask a more profound question when you get to look at it yourself ."
You won't see any of that on many of the mainstream news media outlets. Thanks President Karzai and President Bush for your honesty and courage.
Stay tuned. Media roundup tomorrow. Later in the week: Bargain Bin review and our weekly Halloween Candy teaser.
We're not a respectable network. We're a whorehouse network, and we have to take whatever we can get.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Hello there once again. I am very happy. It is getting cooler and there are whistles and yellow flags all around. Yes sir, football is back and men everywhere are making excuses to get out of house work to watch it. I have my top 5 here for you.
5.“Honey, my back hurts and feels much better if I sit here in the chair. Guess I’ll watch the game while I’m here.”
4.“I took care of the diaper already dear”
3.“I’m making a list of all the things I’m going to do in the yard; the game is just background noise.”
2.“I work five out of seven days a week. All I ask is to watch some football on two days and one night.”
1.“Honey you have your Lifetime now leave the remote alone!”
I have sat here long enough and can no longer stay quiet. The Shelf must have some news about football. I mean all the old movies are good, but they continue to forget the classic game. Leave it to me, the weekend man who is trying to escape reality (side note-the 100th show of Dirty Jobs was GREAT!!!!!!) to call the Shelf to repentance. If there is no football, it would be like having no sliced bread. Or luncheon meat.
Where else can men get together and share a hug and a high 5. Where else can we scream at the top of our lungs and feel important about saying it. Football games make us remember our glory days on the grit iron and we feel a need to share these moments with the younger generation. I say it is vital for our freedom men that we unite and make our Saturdays and Sundays days of rest in front of a High Def Plasma with surround sound and learn from wonderful leaders. Leaders like the Bowden, Spurrier, Herbstriet and Lee Corso. These are real men of genius.
Today I am also letting you know about NCAA 07. In front of me right now I have the copy for the PSP. I want to tell you what is important for me. When I go out and drop $40+ for a game, I want to make sure it is a game that I will play. I am very big on sports games and military games. It is my way to escape reality. (No pun intended) I look to see if the graphics are going to be worth it. If it is series, I want to see if they make changes to the game style and game play.
Well in NCAA 07 PSP version they have put their best foot forward. The graphics are very good for a hand held console. They look like PS1 graphics. As the 360 band wagon leaves me behind, I am glad to say that this game came out with more features than the 360 version. (I know that the features for the 360 can be down loaded now so DO NOT WRITE BACK. ALL I WILL SAY IS HANDHELD THANK YOU) you can play as the world famous Tommy Bowden and make your number 1 Clemson Tigers go all the way and win with the dynasty mode.
Also you can play someone better than you across the web. I will say though, you can not always find a game to play each time you log on. However though, when you are on-line, you will be able to get up to date info from ESPN. This comes in handy when you are playing on-line you are always getting the score to your teams outcome. Like I have said before, if you are riding the fence, get off before you get a bad rash and buy this game. If you do not own a PSP, get for the system you do own. It will be well worth it. I would urge you to take time back for yourself this weekend and make football a part of your much needed R&R. Now stop reading this and watch some football.
Posted by A. Baravelli
In this life, you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody but yourself. Am I making myself clear?
Friday, September 22, 2006
We’re going to tell some truth right now. It might be harsh, but it’s time to be real. Sometimes it is all about the package; and sometimes size does matter. I know, I know…you are saying: “Mr. Loophole, why must you be so blunt. It isn’t always true. It’s about what you get out of it!” I’m here to tell you that you are fooling yourself. Sometimes the little stuff just doesn’t do it. So just sit your “Fun Size” self down and listen to me.
Yessir, when it comes to candy, especially Halloween candy what really gets the motor running is about presentation and size. What’s that? What did you think I was talking about? What! Aww, come on. Geesh, get your mind out of the gutter.
Now back to the matter at hand. Usually I hate to start a sentence this way, but when I was a kid trick or treating was sort of like going to a potluck. You never really knew what you were going to get. And that was half the fun. You could get fruit and nuts, you might get some gum, Smarties, candy corn, or even some hardy candy. You always got those small packages of Sweetarts with the three pellets. And maybe, just maybe you would get a full size candy bar. You and your buddies knew where those candy bars were- you knew who the soft touches were. You upped the costume ante just to score that candy bar.
Today we have “Fun Size.” I don’t know- I remember getting some of them. The packaging may have been different, and I remember them being smaller. M&M Mars may have been first out of the gate with the smaller Snickers for Halloween ( I sure remember getting those tiny square 3 Musketeers bars ). Info I’ve seen mark the first Fun Size in 1968. Either way, the full size was the shiznit, and still is.
Problem is that fun size has been associated with Halloween for a long time now. I say it is time to rise up and sneak some full size into a couple bags! It is time to buy a few full size candies and reward that kid with the homemade costume that looks like he or she spent an afternoon or two on making, with mom or dad’s help. Let’s turn some of that Charlie Brown karma around and give those kids with rocks something to crow about.
“I got some gum. What did you get, another rock?”
”Naw, suckerz! I got me some full size candy bars! Holla!”
So for today’s candy post we celebrate full size by taking the most traditional of little candies to school: Smarties. I found at my local pharmacy something that I’ve never seen, but has probably been around for awhile: Giant Smarties! I tried to assemble the panel of three taste testers, but they proved unreliable. Two of them claimed to not like Smarties. I recoiled in horror, as I can get hooked on the stuff. It's like Halloween crack. The third, who says he could take 'em or leave them, agreed to give it a whirl. I have now discovered why the Smarties are left in the Halloween bags after Halloween. And here I though the Halloween fairy just smiled upon me. Nothing like shattering a few simple childish beliefs in the name of science.
But I digress. The regular Smarties were first and then a giant Smartie. I fully expected the conclusion to be that they tasted the same, and yet I was wrong. I am not sure how I will be able to twist the data to fit my previous drawn conclusions. My taste tester stated that it was different. When I asked why, he just shrugged and said "I don't know, it just does." I then concluded that my panel was about as helpful as a Oompa Loompa on a diet. I wonder if Willy Wonka has these problems?
Anyway, the only real difference is that the giant Smarties are harder, kind of like a Sweetart. The taste is pretty much the same. But you have to admit that it will be cool when kids will dump out the regular Smarties out and then the one kid will then lord over them all with his Giant Smarties roll held high aloft, like a beacon in the darkness. Long Live the Smarties! The Giant Smartie rules! Bwa hahahahahaha hah!
Ahem.... Therefore my conclusion is that my panel of taste testers have been thoroughly corrupted. My previously held theories still stand. I believe they have been bought off by the chocolate police who have always held the compacted sugary powder sweet and tart crowd in contempt. I, for one, refuse to bow down to their bullying tactics. Sure, I will continue to buy my Hershey's Miniatures and 3 Musketeers, but I won't enjoy it. No wait... I will enjoy it, but I will sneer to demonstrate my protest against their "Big Chocolate Ways!
After a short rest and as soon as I get down off the sugar high, we will be bringing you a weekend report from correspondent Baravelli, look for another Bargain Bin review from Wolf (will it be another James Stewart film? Will he buck the trend?) and of course more of your regularly scheduled madness from all your friends here, at The Shelf.
In the meantime, this week's Shelf Classic takes us back to last Halloween when we talked about, what else? Halloween Candy. It's a Halloween Candy countdown. What's number one? Well, if you paid attention today, you probably already know. Enjoy.
I got a rock.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Whew! In the past few days there has been a little discussion going on at The Shelf regarding a little post we put up about Wal-Mart last week. Honestly, I don't know what all the fuss is about. We have learned a lot about evidence and etiquette and intelligent discussion on the internet. I am assuming that some of the names I had been called on other forums are actual words that don't need hyphens. I am not sure. Having actually graduated from grad school (in the allotted time, no less!) not too long ago, I thought that I was up on the vocab. Apparently not, but then again, having a real job and not spending my days in class and nights in the basement freebasing cheeto crumbs and chatting in forums might have made me "out of touch." But hey, at least I'm trying to reach out to the peeps. While I am at it, shout out to "cheesedoodleman", "danddplayer152" and "megatronrulz": mad props to ya! Thanks to all those who commented and argued with tact and decorum. We appreciate your views even if we might disagree. We hope you will return. With that we leave the world of madness and straight back into your regularly scheduled programming:
Welcome back to another episode of the media roundup. In the world of college football this might be considered a "bye week" - there is too much important going on out there and what is there is a no brainer as far what gets our top pick in each category: no competition! So let's get started shall we...
Dual Top Shelf Pick of the Week!
Jonny Lang: Turn Around and Diana Krall: From this Moment On
Two different musical styles, I know, but coming from the same roots. Jazz has been frequently cited as the original American music (or even art form), but Jazz, Blues, (real) Country Music, Rock, Gospel, Folk, and other genres can trace roots far back to the spiritual and instrumental sounds along the Mississippi Delta and in the hills of the Appalachian Mountains. These two new offerings by Blues artist Jonny Lang and Jazz artist Diana Krall reflect why a person who loves music can truly appreciate and enjoy two different genres. At their soul, at their center- they both come from the same place.
Lang's new CD incorporates even more musical influences than his standard talented blues guitar. Lang brings a very personal side to this album, talking a lot about redemption, repentance and returning. There is a gospel choir backing him on many tracks and I think the overall tone is really that of a "spiritual blues" album. A colleague, who reviewed Turn Around, stated that Lang brought too much of the spiritual into his album. What he doesn't understand is, at its heart, the Blues is really spiritual music. Many of the early performers of blues and jazz came from church music backgrounds. It is very much apart of the roots of the genres. Turn Around goes from toe tappin' uplift of Thankful and Turn Around to the plaintive Only a Man. In fact, if you only hear one track, you need to hear Only a Man. That is not Top 40 Bubblegum, my friend. That is real music, real emotion, real pain and redemption.
Diana Krall's new CD From this Moment On is an excellent return to what Krall does best: jazz and standards. Her particular take on standards is always enjoyable in its breathy excellence. Her previous albums, a Christmas one and a CD of original efforts, were good in their own right, but her new release goes back to her somehow icy yet smoldering jazzy take on the American Songbook. Highlights: Come Dance with Me and How Insensitive. Both CDs are highly recommended and you can preview both of them as well as other new releases this week on aol music. Go out and purchase or order your copies today. Throw Turn Around in the car and listen while cruising. Then put From this Moment On in the player at home during a rainy fall evening and enjoy while curling up with your favorite book or your significant other- or both if you have the arms for it and they don't mind.
Caesar: Life of a Colossus, by Adrian Goldsworthy
I don't think that we read enough Roman history, or history in general, for that matter. I've discussed some of my favorites and you've seen recent books like Rubicon on our "What's On The Shelf" sidebar. This new biography of Goldsworthy offers yet another glimpse at the controversial, and perhaps best known figure of the later years of the Roman Republic (not Empire- that's another discussion). Although seemingly a bit forgiving of certain aspects of Caesar's life, Goldsworthy offers a more thoroughly complex portrait of a man than we've gotten lately. With all of the Roman hubbub in recent years on film and television, do yourself a favor and check out the real story, you might discover just exactly how "Roman" we still are today.
I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This!, by Bob Newhart
Bob is one funny guy, and completely iconic to my generation. I loved Newhart! Larry, Darryl, and Darryl ruled! The "kids" today only know Newhart from Elf, but that's OK. I think Bob is starting to undergo a "rediscovery" of sorts. This is his first book, set to coincide with the release of the DVD which covers his first recorded "concert" performance. Check Bob out! It even includes transcriptions of some of his early routines.
The Henry Fonda Signature Collection: Four previously released films, Mister Roberts, Advise and Consent, The Wrong Man, and Battle of the Bulge. If you didn't own them before, this is an easy way to nab all four. Especially Mister Roberts, a Shelf favorite.
The Unit: Season One. One of the best shows on television today. (The season premiere was great, by the way.) Dennis Haysbert rocks.
Bob Newhart: Button Down Concert: If you get the book, get this DVD- they go great together like... chocolate and peanut butter. Mmmm... chocolate and peanut butter.
The Boris Karloff Collection: Old school thrillers and fright movies. Not some of Karloff's more widely known stuff, but very entertaining nonetheless. Classic flicks.
The Amazing Race- well, duh! Watch it - you'll be in for even more surprises. Two eliminations in one episode? Child's play! Wait till you see what else is up the sleeve of the Mighty Phil K.
Shelf picks for Turner Classic Movies:
Sept. 20th: William Holden War classics: Stalag 17 (1953), The Bridges At Toko-Ri (1954), The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
Sept. 21st: First chuckle with Red Skelton in Half A Hero (1953). Then settle in for a Film Noir night with Robert Mitchum in The Night Of The Hunter (1955), Cape Fear (1962), Out of the Past (1947), and Thunder Road (1958).
Sept. 22nd : Paul Muni in his classic roles: The Life Of Emile Zola (1937), The Good Earth (1937), and his signature turn in the original Scarface (1932).
Sept. 23rd: It’s the film the brought the Duke to stardom: Stagecoach (1939). Then the Marx Brothers can’t be confined to three rings in At The Circus (1939). Later join Bud and Lou as they have The Time Of Their Lives (1946).
Sept. 24th: It’s the Chairman of the Board in a double feature: The Tender Trap (1955) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962).
Sept. 25th : Don’t miss the lovely June Allyson in Good News (1947). Then stick around for the classic comedy Dinner At Eight (1933).
Sept. 26th : You are in for a treat with some action: Whispering Smith (1948), No Name On The Bullet (1959) and Lonely Are The Brave (1962).
That's all for today Shelfers. We hope some of you Farkers will become regular visitors as well. Remember the rules: no roughhousing, close all the doors behind you (were you raised in a barn?), don't forget to turn the lights out when you leave a room... and most importantly, think for yourself. More Shelf goodness to come this week: Another Halloween Candy teaser, Bargain Bin review and, as promised, Baravelli's Football roundup! Till then...
It just came to me all of a sudden. I was lying on my bunk this morning, thinking. And there wasn't a breath of air. And all of a sudden, a funny thing happened. A little breeze came up, and I took a big, deep breath, and I said to myself: Pulver, boy, there's women on that island!
Monday, September 18, 2006
For a sort of "Intro to The Shelf 101" see our Anniversary "Best of" post for links to an assortment of entries on all sorts of topics. And, by all means, come back. We may disagree with our questions and thoughts about Wal-Mart (personally I'm more of a Target guy anyway), but next week you might be interested in our "It Came From the Bargain Bin" review. Or you might chuckle at a post discussing things from our collective childhood and where it is now. Heck, you might even find something to watch on the weekly roundup (which is tomorrow, by the by).
Thanks for the visit and don't forget your coat on the way out. The first day of autumn is this week, don't ya know.
With men and women, does you think that men should marry only one woman? Does you believe in mahogany?
Friday, September 15, 2006
Here’s a head-scratcher for you: why do liberals hate Wal-Mart? I am not being sarcastic, I truly am curious about this position. Now, I am personally not much of a Wal-Mart shopper. I have some problems with the recent out-sourcing trends, and efforts they have made to score points with liberals. But some things I've discovered about them makes me wonder. Wal-Mart saves American consumers upwards of $200 billion dollars a year in grocery and retail purchases. That’s a better performance record than the Welfare program. It is the country's largest employer, employing 1.3 million Americans alone, with an increasing global market share. An American company with a huge stake in America spread influence throughout the world. Wal-Mart recently announced that by 2010, in its grocery stores “everything the supermarket disposes of at the back of its stores will be recycled, reused or composted instead of being sent to landfill.” It will also look at its packaging in an attempt to reduce potential household waste. Wal-Mart has also agreed to efforts to reduce energy consumption. Wal-Mart’s health plan is among the most affordable among American employers. Heck, I looked at my employer’s “top rated” plan and compared it to Wal-Mart’s plan. No comparison, Wal-Mart’s is better hands down. It has also been rated by several minority business magazines and associates as one of America’s top employers for wages and diversity in hiring both at entry level and corporate positions.
So let’s see that makes Wal-Mart:
- A great boost to the economy of the American worker and consumer.
- A proponent for environmentally better business
- An example in hiring for diversity and providing better jobs for low-income households
- A solid employer with excellent benefits
- It is an excellent global economic performer
Oh… right, because it’s Wal-Mart.
Wait…what? You and I both know that the bottom line for Liberals is that in order for them to exist they need a straw man, a convenient enemy. If it isn’t George Bush, it must be a huge American business. Why not take on Wal-Mart, set it up with false propaganda and hateful rhetoric and work on its demise? Yeah, that will win you votes. Just only from other wackos. For every so-called “study” about the depressing facts and terrible results of Wal-Marts being built in your town, there are several other studies that contend the exact opposite. Most of the “Wal-Mart is evil” studies are commissioned by small-retailer associations or liberal and democratic political think tanks. Don't get me wrong- Wal-Mart has had it's share of PR problems, but there is much that they have been accused of that is undeserved.
Liberals push the issue in regards to how businesses operate. Wal-Mart is a primary example. Liberals are insistent that Wal-Mart is evil and that they must organize under the banner of unions. Lots of money (that could have been donated to worthy causes and accomplish much more good work) has been spilt in funding films, ads and propaganda campaigns all designed to persuade public opinion that Wal-Mart is A) Evil B) Kills small business C) Should not be built in your town D) When they are built they need to be organized. I value action over words. Liberals value words over actions. Liberals don't need for problems to be solved, they need problems to talk about. It gives them political capital and or mileage. Therefore trussing up Wal-Mart politically, despite it's real performance and facts, makes sense politically to liberals. Lately the Democratic party has really been cosumed by its liberal and extremist factions. The support of labor union members, a traditonal Democratic stronghold, has been dropping off. Partly because of Democrats shift away from union issues, and because more middle class Americans are seeing throught the lies and transparent positions. What better way to win back some appeal than by going after a big bad business?
Let’s be clear about something: labor unions have achieved some good in the capitalistic market place. Historically, politicians, journalists, and some unions have changed industry and business practices both for the better and for worse. Safety regulations, child labor, and consistent public health practices have improved not only the quality of life for workers and for the consumer, but when businesses have been smart they have benefited as well. The food industry, for example, has seen rapid success and improvement when they followed health regulations and standards. Some of the smarter and more successful of these companies (Oscar Meyer is one example) set even higher standards and advertised it as such, which won much support and appealed to the general public. These things appeal to the consumer’s desire for safe and clean products.
However, labor unions, politicians, and journalists have also ruined businesses and set up false dichotomies in their zeal to completely control business practices. This happens when leftist ideology takes over and promotes the agenda that the only correct method is to remove the marketplace from the equation. Their typical method is to remove capitalism and replace it with socialism and regulate, supervise, and mandate what must occur. When smart business, capitalism, and the free market are combined with efforts to improve, smart regulations and smarter business and industry standards- we all benefit. When politics, ideology and the need for power take the place of the free market or any of these; we all suffer in one form or another. Yet the liberal and socialistic politics of labor unions has become unbridled in recent decades. Unions have always had some historic connections with leftist politics but not all members, organizers, or leaders have leaned socialist. But the constant need of liberals to control the situation and broker power, consistently places politics ahead of union members and consumers.
George Will’s recent article explains the problem clearly. Wal-Mart refuses to organize and to cow tow to government oversight. The facts that Wal-Mart is one of America’s largest employers, a huge part of our economy, and that it provides not just jobs, but a better choice for “economically disadvantaged” consumers is immaterial to leftists. Any American should balk at complete government intrusion and oversight – it is the very definition of Big Brother. Yet the liberals argue that eavesdropping on our enemies, the jihaddists and terrorists, is wrong, but complete oversight and control of American business is their right. Increasingly, liberals have become more and more like the isolationists of the past in pursuit of their global agenda. It seems ironic and a bit of a contradiction, but it isn’t for them.
It is as we talked about yesterday. Liberals and Cultural Elitist desire power (what politician doesn’t to a least a small degree?), but in that regard their supporters often find themselves in positions where they say things that utterly insane. One recent example is Arianna Huffington stating “So what?” when discussing Sadam’s gassing of Kurds. To them it is about regaining power, which means defeating Bush, which therefore means opposing anything Bush is in favor of or has participated in. I am amazed at how many liberals this close to election time are stating that it would have been better if Sadam were still in power. For who? The American liberal? How about the Iraqi people? I don’t think so. While the blinders on the liberals keep their field of vision narrow, I can’t help but feel glad that we actually did something to help others have a chance at freedom, especially when I talk to American-Iraqis and some Iraqis I have met.
Politics and the pursuit of power makes for strange bedfellows. I think that the pursuit of Liberals by Wal-Mart, and the political ties with labor union mucky-mucks will eventually cause American workers and consumers a great deal more problems than solutions. Blinded by their own sense of entitlement and pursuit of power, union leaders and politicos have even attempted to refuse Wal-Mart to build in Chicago recently, unless they organize. Could organizing Wal-Mart change the business altogether? It will certainly affect the consumer in many obvious ways, but could also possibly result in fewer jobs, fewer stores and fewer opportunities for American workers. Wal-Mart is fighting organization tooth and nail, even closing some stores or refusing to build altogether in the face of possible organization.It is my contention that the thriving of business in America also allows for the thriving of America and Americans. Anyone remember when McDonalds opened up it’s first store in Russia in the late 80s? The late night talk show jokes were about the spread of Democracy and fries around the world. It was kind of funny then, but McDonalds and other American retailers have literally spread around the world. Is it ironic that Wal-Mart which buys products from China, could eventually open in China and sell Chinese made and American made products to the Chinese? Step 3: profit.
I'm not sure what the answers are, nor do I always know which side to believe. I do know through my own research that Wal-Mart is getting the short end of the stick from Liberals and their ilk solely for political purposes and gains. And that ticks me off. My grandfather taught me the truth of the adage, "By their fruits, you will know them." In non-vauge terms it means that you can tell alot about someone or something by their actions or results. And by looking at the work of the Liberals, I sure see a lot of rotton fruit.
Today's Shelf Classic is a discussion on communication- something we all need to improve upon... Also it's a Free For All Friday at Stop the ACLU. Enjoy!
Next: Weekend Correspondent Baravelli returns with a terse look at football...that is if we can pry him away from the game.
I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Let’s just take a quick gut check shall we?
Free Speech is an endangered thing around the world, not just here in the US. I think that there are certain elements among the left that are aggressively pursuing an agenda to fiercely regulate free speech. Their position is that free speech must be rigidly regulated and policed to shut down anyone that offends someone else, takes a position contrary to the leftist agenda (IE: in support of religion, families, opposition politics, etc.), or otherwise uses expression or communication in such a way that is detrimental to their causes. Do I sound a bit paranoid? I’m not… because it is happening now, right before our very eyes. People in positions of power have tried to abuse free speech before, but the left is becoming more aggressive as the days go by.
What is even more mind boggling is that the left will pursue their agenda to regulate and therefore rob you of your right to speak freely without consequence or oppression, by employing deceit, treachery, threats, and scare tactics. The party that prides itself on having been opposed to McCarthy and his tactics (did I mention that the left love to rewrite history? I thought I had) have now become the very people to employ and use those same underhanded tactics and threats. They defend these positions and tactics as necessary and this becomes another glaring example of how they want to be able to speak or act as they wish, but they believe that no one else is entitled to it. In other words “ we should be able to do what we want, others can’t be trusted, so therefore we must be sole possessors of the right and empowered to regulate it to others.”
- The left’s attack on Senator Joe Lieberman
- The latest incident in regard to ABC’s miniseries The Path to 9/11 and the politicos who threatened ABC’s license if the did not edit it the way they wanted.
- Campaign Finance Reform
- Efforts to squash free speech (that disagrees with the left) on the
In truth, free speech is somewhat regulated. Courts decide matters of law regarding the right to free speech, and use standards regarding types of speech. Categories that fall under these standards include obscenity, slander, fraud, certain threats (to the President’s life, for example) and speech that directly leads to lawless behavior (the old “you can’t scream fire in a crowded theater” argument). However, courts are very judicious in regards to the suppression of ideas and political speech (which is at the heart of what the founders meant in drafting the first amendment). If suppression of ideas and expression is at the heart of a suit or court case, it usually doesn’t make it very far.
The history of our country demonstrates that freedom of speech is a much cherished freedom. People have died to protect it. They continue to do so today (thank you!). The Founders believed that freedom of speech was an inalienable human right (those of you playing at home – that means we were born with it, and it was not limited to certain people alone) given by God. If you have a problem with God, then your creator of choice will do, or “born with it” will suffice. Their main contention was that certain freedoms are an innate part of the human existence; that these freedoms are not doled out by a government, but that humanity has these rights. Their contention was that man’s inhumanity to man, its created governments and ruling classes, its created monarchies and despotic systems are what suppresses or oppresses those rights. If you only understand one point in this whole argument it must be this: If we were given these rights by our Creator- if we were born with them- the government, therefore, has no right to abridge them or take them away. The government did not give them to us. It’s not their rights to give or take away at a whim.
The roots of the leftists’ attempt to derail free speech lies in a contention that is antithetical to the founders’ position: Government gives and takes away rights. To control and further bigger government and in an effort to create a more socialist society, those who believe such, operate to systematically weaken the notion that rights are inherent. Do not misunderstand- the leftist that support and seek a more socialist society and larger government believe that a government that governs the most is a better government and that the greatest threat to that end is the individual citizen. They will not necessarily be forthright about it, but that is the position. Thus it is vital to them to achieve the following:
- increase government oversight over private life
- private property must be done away with (imminent domain, anyone?)
- guns and the right to own and possess weapons must be eliminated from private hands
- regulate or restrict free speech and free commerce
- redefine the notion of freedom to worship, by eliminating the element of religious ethics and morals from secular society. In other words, reframe the idea of morality, by creating the false argument that if something is religious or derived from a religious point of view, then it is invalid in a secular society. (IE: moral relativism and setting up the logical fallacy that, because X is bad, X is religious, therefore, religion is bad; which gives them the corresponding fallacy to wit, Religion is bad, X is based in religion, therefore X is bad.)
The separation of church and state is so important and indemical to their position, because it attacks, weakens or destroys the idea of inalienable rights. If they weaken these areas, or eliminate them it is possible to create further dependence on government and remove opposition to it. Make no mistake, leftist liberals have support for some of these things, but usually when it is in opposition to their enemies, NOT on principle.
Still think I am paranoid? I happen to work in two areas where leftists abound: academics and government. While I believe that anecdotal evidence is the weakest kind, it is difficult to disregard the direct conversations to me in which these positions are voiced and held with passion. While I find that most individuals believe in a one cause or another, and are willing to compromise on a freedom or two to achieve an end, I find that there are others still who believe that inherent freedoms are dangerous altogether. Their positions are not logical, and not always based in fact. Most are purely rhetorical and not built upon sound historic or current examples. In fact, the governments that most of these leftist individuals support are either failed governments, or current despots who have succeeded in temporarily suppressing human freedom.
Perhaps I have alienated you. I don’t wish to do that. What I hope is that you will unlock the chains of political correctness, the media, and perhaps your own biases. What I hope is that you will think for yourself and step back and look at the bigger pictureI believe in the promise of the Constitution. I believe in the freedoms that are inherent to all people. I believe that humans are imperfect and therefore, make imperfect choices and decisions. Many leftists point out that the Constitution did not give these rights to several people throughout our history. I contend that the language and intent of the Constitution was clear, and the promises were there. Unfortunately some had to fight to make those promises extend to them, but the Constitution still provided the way to make those changes, so that those same original promises and rights were guaranteed to all citizens. Throwing out the Constitution, because it was drafted by imperfect people doesn’t make any sense. The left tends to degrade into fallacies and unsupported reasons in their arguments and become ridiculous. Ad hoc arguments, reduction to absurdities, etc. (see Maggie’s Farm for great definitions and examples in their Fallacy of the Week feature)
What it boils down to is this: we can’t give ground on our freedoms, if we do, we have learn by previous and sad example how difficult it is to win them back. Call them what you will, the Founders did know this when the crafted the government. A representative democracy isn’t perfect, in fact by Plato’s standards it is a shade away from tyranny. Machiavelli further stated that democracy could lead to anarchy, from which the tyrant prospers and is able to gain control (in fact some leftists argue that Anarchy is the way to go and representative democracy is wrong). However, Plato also argued that as chaos increased, the tyrant will rise. We have seen it throughout history. The tyrant rises up, manipulates the weak and poor, strokes the rich and the powerful until he gets the control he desires by promising to bring the people back up from whatever chaos (real or perceived) in which they find themselves. The truest safeguard, the best defense is to promote and defend our freedoms. As Plato himself stated, “Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens.”
Texas Congressman Ron Paul has given some excellent speeches on free speech and the efforts from the far left and far right to curtail it. I don’t necessarily agree with him on everything (foreign policy and the war, for example), but he is a tireless defender of the Constitution and our liberties, and I respect a lot of his views and efforts in that regard. He said this about those who wish to regulate free speech:
"The solution to decaying moral standards has to be voluntary, through setting examples in our families, churches, and communities- never by government coercion. It just doesn’t work.But the argument is always that the people are in great danger if government does not act by:
-Restricting free expression in advertising;
-Claiming insensitive language hurts people, and political correctness guidelines are needed to protect the weak;
-Arguing that campaign finance reform is needed to hold down government corruption by the special interests;
-Banning indecency on the airways that some believe encourages immoral behavior.
If we accept the principle that these dangers must be prevented through coercive government restrictions on expression, it must logically follow that all dangers must be stamped out, especially those that are even more dangerous than those already dealt with. This principle is adhered to in all totalitarian societies. That means total control of freedom of expression of all political and religious views. This certainly was the case with the Soviets, the Nazis, the Cambodians, and the Chinese communists. And yet these governments literally caused the deaths of hundreds of millions of people throughout the 20th Century. This is the real danger, and if we’re in the business of protecting the people from all danger, this will be the logical next step.
It could easily be argued that this must be done, since political ideas and fanatical religious beliefs are by far the most dangerous ideas known to man. Sadly, we’re moving in that direction, and no matter how well intended the promoters of these limits on the 1st Amendment are, both on the left and the right, they nevertheless endorse the principle of suppressing any expressions of dissent if one chooses to criticize the government.When the direct attack on political and religious views comes, initially it will be on targets that most will ignore, since they will be seen as outside the mainstream and therefore unworthy of defending"
I say it is time for us to check the pulse of freedom in America. Is it still beating? What do you believe? Do we have to lay down and take whatever the leftists, the cultural elites or libs throw at us? No- we can stand up and ring the Liberty Bell. Do you remember the Liberty Bell? The Bell was ordered to be created in 1751 by the Pennsylvania Assembly to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges. Penn's charter, which advocated the freedoms of men, including the freedom of religion, the world over. The inscription on the Bell was the book of Leviticus in the Bible "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." During it's time the Bell was rung to mark special events and occasions, especially during the War for Independence. It was rung to call the citizens of Philadelphia together for the public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Later, it was adopted as a symbol by abolitionists fighting to end slavery.
A powerful symbol, the Liberty Bell needs to be rung again. We must ring it loud to call the citizens together, to remind them of their inalienable rights. We must not accept the words and workings of those who would undermine or eliminate or freedoms. We need to exercise these freedoms, for as with any muscle, they will atrophy without use. Not exercising our freedoms make us weak and susceptable to the efforts of those who seek to destroy them, both at home and abroad. We do not need to be ashamed to be an American, nor is it true that these freedoms are only acceptable to Americans who are used to it. I believe, as did the Founders, that these rights are truly inherent and inalienable. The were given to us by our Creator and not by any government. Therefore it is not the right of any government to take them away. It may not seem so- but freedom does burn within all people around the world. It may have been beaten down out of them by tyrants, it may have been scared down deep inside of them by despots- but it is there. Let us ring the Liberty Bell so that we will not, cannot forget what is ours.
All men are by nature equal, made all of the same earth by one Workman; and however we deceive ourselves, as dear unto God is the poor peasant as the mighty prince.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
As I got older and they disappeared from the shelves, I regretted the loss of a traditional favorite. Brach's is selling 'Dem Bones' once again ,but not in the coffin and with fewer pieces. That's where today's spotlight confection comes in. 'Scary Skeletons' has everything 'Dem Bones' had, only better. As you can see in the photo evidence that I have provided(pardon the blur), 'Scary Skeletons' comes in a coffin. These coffins are two to three times the size of the ones 'Dem Bones' were sold in. Each coffin has a different animated skeleton character on the front and a raised outline of a standard skeleton on the back. This was hard to photograph due to it being the same color as the rest of the coffin. Inside we find the candy bones in a their own plastic bag type container.
The candy bones are much larger than the ones found in the older 'Dem Bones'. Each coffin contains 12 pieces of candy which together make one 3 to 4 inch long skeleton . I had one broken piece in my package but this is to be expected with all of the curious shoppers picking the coffins up and giving them a good shake.
As you can see in the pictures, the pieces are a lot bigger than the candy bones of yore and they actually fit together quite perfectly. As for taste, I give it a six out of ten. The bones taste similar to a less potent sweet tart. They taste just as you would expect them to: not bad , but not enough to slap your mama for. All in all this item is far superior to 'Dem Bones' in my opinion in portions, size, and function. The coffins even come in different colors making your kid pester you to by them all.
I say, buy them for your kids. They are a good candy and fun for them to play with while deciding to eat the head or pelvis first. At $0.99 they are a decent bargain.This product also brings back some of the fun spirit that has been lost from Halloween through horror, gore, and adults trying to take over. My final recommendation is that for nostalgic purposes, the classic 'Dem Bones' is always going to be the grand-daddy. As far as 'Scary Skeletons' go, this child of a once great Halloween icon is bringing respect back to the family.
Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.
“Nothing on Earth is so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.” Steve Almond
Monday, September 11, 2006
The Shelf will return tomorrow with your normally scheduled madness, but let us spend the day as one to remember and respect.
Friday, September 08, 2006
September 8th marks the 1 year anniversary of The Shelf. Yep, a year ago yesterday, we threw the switch here at the master control ...and forgive us if we seem a wee bit excited. It may seem much ado about nothing, but if you've seen some of the blogs around the web you'll know we have reason. There are some that get started and then sputter out. Then you have what amount to family scrapbooks or personal diaries. I think that's a good application of blogs for your friends and family- a way to connect, which is what this is all about. But when you try to do something different, like a blog that is political, cultural, or about entertainment etc., there are many who are out there who are giants and do incredible work. Theennn... you've got the graveyard. You know who I'm talking about; the "posted few and far between", the "this was cool for awhile, but if no one agrees with me I'm outta here", and then the "I hate Bush, therefore I am."
Thanks for all the support and for all of your comments. We love interaction and we love comments and emails. We try to answer, and sometimes we might be sarcastic or firmly plant our tongues in our cheeks, but we will always be honest. We'll always give you what we really think and we'll always try to entertain with what entertains us. We'll share with you what strikes us and the things we think you might need to consider about history, current events and our (yours and mine) place in this crazy blue ball we call planet Earth.
So you'll pardon us if we stand in awe that we are still here and that we have people from around the world who come to visit us for our weekly shenanigans. We are humble that other blogs that we enjoy and respect read us and link to us. We are very grateful and encouraged that perhaps we can continue our madness and perhaps expand in the next year. Will you join us?
Today, in celebration, we would like to share with you some links to some of our favorite posts from the past year. We're not trying to pat ourselves on the back, but these posts represent some of the fun we've had sharing with you movies, or current events and shop talk that we still talk about. Consider this a "Best of" edition of The Shelf. Follow the links and enjoy. If you are a "Shelf newbie" this is a great way to get to know Wolf and myself. So getcha a cold one, sit back and relax and enjoy. And thanks again for stopping by. And always remember the Shelf motto... Think for yourself.
Best of The Shelf, Volume One
We kinda got started right after Katrina and right before September 11th. Heavy stuff. Nonetheless, while we trying to navigate things, the media was throwing us everything they had. Then it just got to ridiculous. Has anything changed in a year? No. That didn't stop us from punting the pundits.
Regular readers know we have an ongoing series on primetime animated specials. We tackled the history of the primetime special, a really special part of our childhood. It’s getting close to Halloween, so maybe this will whet your appetite for some "Great Pumpkin" action. It was our first such article, and I think there is nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.
Still craving some Halloween goodness? We had a candy countdown. Join us down memory lane for some candy corn, chocolate, and gummi bears! oh, my!
In December, Wolf wrote what I think is still one of the best articles to hit the Shelf, and still one of my personal favorites. Think you know George Bailey? Check out this unconventional look at It’s a Wonderful Life. I certainly think it’s a wonderful film.
This week it was announced that A Million Little Pieces author James Frey and his publisher settled in a court case in which readers sued them, stating that he had defrauded them. The readers earned a refund, but more importantly, I think they gave the publishers a tweak of the nose. Deep down people don’t like being had. We mentioned that sometime ago. We know it’s all about the "L".
Regular Shelfers know that we often employ the services of weekend correspondent Baravelli and our faithful assistant Pinky. Pinky doesn’t say much, but Baravelli has no such problem. He does like to enjoy his weekends, always trying to escape reality.
Lastly, (and perhaps more dearly) we recently discussed the promises made to our children and the generations to come. Is it time to give up or see the thing through? We’ve got a job to do, we’ve got promises to keep.
Thanks for sticking around. We hope you'll continue to come back. In the next couple of weeks we'll discuss the anniversary of 9/11, and we'll take the pulse of free speech. We'll also have weekly Halloween teasers until October, then it will be a full onslaught. We'll be discussing our favorite westerns and of course, we'll have the weekley media roundups. You can count on us for your regular dose of all things cynical, satirical, humorous, serious - and eclectic. Stay tuned...
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Remember when newspapers and anchormen brought you the facts and allowed you to form your own opinion? You do? Wow! You must be in your 90s! No offense to our "seasoned" readers, but if you remember that kind of news, you may have also been around to vote for Coolidge. You might smell it coming already, and I'll tell you upfront. I'm about to beat a dead horse for a few paragraphs. I'm going to do it differently, though. Kind of like beating it with a pillowcase filled with quarters as opposed to the conventional bat.
Media. I know I've already written about it in a couple of my first posts here at the shelf, but this will be from a slightly different perspective. There are good journalists, but most are not. I know we've got to get our news somewhere, that's obvious. What stinks is that typically we receive it with a slanted or fully distorted twist to it from both ends of the spectrum, just a lot more on one than the other. The media wouldn't even be a problem if those who consume it would either stop doing so, or filter it properly. Yet, we do have a problem.
The average American is frequently a lazy thinker. We enjoy having our opinions fed to us. We say we don't, but that's what honestly happens a majority of the time with some people. You stand in line at the supermarket waiting to buy your toilet paper, or liquor (depending on how your day has gone) then you casually glance at your local paper and read the headline: "Boys steal more than girls" You rush home and tell your spouse about thieving little boys and back it up by citing the paper. Much to your chagrin, your significant other laughs to tears while explaining that the article was about how male little leaguers tend to steal bases more than female soft-ballers due to testosterone levels and the ever present desire to risk death by a speeding baseball. Now how do you feel? That's just an example of a misleading headline. But! Look at the damage that can cause.
If only headlines were the singular problem we face. The epidemic we face is of misleading stories and sound bites couched in cleverly crafted journalistic opinion. The sources of these diseased articles lure the uneducated, like Homer's sirens to their ultimate destruction. Instead of golden locks and auburn hair, these sirens are wearing 'press' passes. Instead of causing physical destruction, they lead the "thought deficient" to a mental destruction. The unaware subject consumes the infected messages and confidently spouts them to others, but is quickly made a fool, as was the Emperor on parade in his new clothes. The key to defeating these ink stained harpies is to either identify them for what they once you hear them, or ignore them all together.
It is staggering the amount of people I meet that give credence to the baseless ideas presented by these presumptuous pundits. They are oh, so presumptuous. They presume that simple double talk and word play will fool everyone in this country. They have forgotten one thing. Those immortal words of (usually) "honest" Abe: " You can't fool all of the people all of the time".
The first portion of that historical statement which I left off is the hope and truth that reporters live by " you can fool some of the people some of the time". The job of those in the "know" is to keep the balance in this country. Those who are fooled should never outnumber those who are not. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves as to the truth of what we see, hear, and read. We do this through study, pondering, and thinking for ourselves. When we do this, we defeat those who would defraud us of truth, and independent personal perspective.
Our fellow bloggers have done this a time or two. That's how Dan Rather painfully learned the little known portion of Lincoln's quote which precedes the famous statement saying "if you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem". If we do not filter the information given us, and learn our history and the truth of today's news, we shall surely pay the price of ignorance. I heard a great example of this on Monday's Rush Limbaugh's show. (Our friend Laura at Laurasmiscellaneousmusings may have heard this as well as she seems to listen to rush often). As I listened, Rush received a caller who proceeded to go over a litany of topics that she had obviously learned about from the hollow pens of pseudo journalists. First, she asks why we use force instead of negotiations and U.N. assistance with our current enemies. Rush gently advised her of the old adage "peace comes only after victory", before suggesting that she should ask Saddam if sixteen U.N. resolutions brought about his defeat and capture. The caller mentioned how hard it is today to buy gas and put kids through college, although, it was soon discovered that she had neither kids nor car. She mentioned that healthcare is so bad that her neighbor chooses between food and medicine regularly, and no one will help her. When asked what she has done to help, she says that she has gone to the store for her. Rush asks " but have you bought her any food?" To which the caller replies (after stuttering a bit) "well, no". That sounded a little hanky to me. She closes out the call by stating that conservatives rig the poles and prevent democrats from voting. She backs this up by stating that people in Ohio (the caller was from NY by the way) waited in line for six hours to vote early and left due to discouragement. Rush fired back with some form of response. In my head, I thought, if every person who is registered, actually voted, how long would we wait in line then? Giving up due to long lines is not being disenfranchised. I have heard of people who waited longer to buy Springsteen tickets. Yet people can't wait in line long enough to help choose a president. Iraqis got blown up and shot at while waiting many hours to vote. In my opinion, if you waited six hours and left before voting, then if your man loses, you're only allowed to complain about it for six hours. That's it! Six hours out of the next four years. After that, shut up! Sit down! And be prepared for the next one. I have no doubt that the caller got her uninformed opinions from mainstream media outlets or backyard gossip without any investigation of her own.
I don't normally listen to Rush Limbaugh, but my favorite sports commentator, Colin Cowheard, was on commercial break, so I tuned in to pass the time. I am personally not a "Rush" guy. He's okay, but I find that I agree with Colin more about current events and politics. He has the "average Joe" thinking man's perspective and is not afraid to go against the grain if he doesn't agree with the popular opinion. He seems to truly think for himself, as opposed to Rush Limbaugh who seems all too often to just tow his party's proverbial line.
Speaking of sportscasters with an opinion: does anybody ever listen to Keith Olbermann without laughing? He's an idiot, a "useful idiot" for the left-handed thinkers. This man is a prime example of listening to what others say, with no research of his own, and putting it out as fact for all to hear. The only thing this accomplishes is passing his unfounded arguments down the grapevine of the uninformed. Here is a perfect example of his unfounded arguments and general speaking from his rear. There are people in this country who channel-surf through talking heads, and take their word as gospel. They feel that somehow they are stocking up on information nuggets for ammunition to use in a debate. They are actually just piling up "fecal nuggets" until an informed American can smell them a mile away. It's tragic and very common. It's our neighbor, our friends, and our family members. We can't be afraid to discuss politics anymore. That's how we're going to keep the balance in this country. We must be as Orpheus who sang an opposing melody to protect his crew as they passed the sirens. We must learn an opposing melody. Become properly educated in the topics of the day, and share it. Don't shove it down people's throats, but don't be afraid to peaceably discuss your findings. Protect yourself and others from the cursed tune sung by those whose purpose it is to sing us to our destruction. Just remember, in all things, think for yourself.
Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.
All you know about the American scene is what you read in newspapers and magazines. Somebody else's impressions hashed up for lazy people. If you don't feel it yourself, you've learned nothing.