Friday, November 30, 2007

I can see it now

Here it comes: the inevitable complaint that the New York Times is biased against Rudy Guiliani. The conservative hacks love to hack away at the venerable Paper Of Record, claiming it to be the mouthpice of the liberal elite--never mind the fact that the Times, like most big New York businesses, is totally dependant upon the most conservative institution of the American economy, the New York Stock Exchange and is, in many ways, quite conservative itself in an old school, high brow sort of way. Never mind as well that the New York Sun is totally biased in favor of Mr. Guiliani but doesn't seem to arrouse near as much anger. Although Fred Thompson did recently complain that Rupert Murdoch is trying to damage his campaign (bull. Fox Network News was once treating Thompson as the presumptive nominee).

This morning the Times ran a front page piece about Guiliani's habit of citing false statistics, taking credit for the accomplishments of others, and--most clearly--citing statistics that are either misleading or flat-out wrong. For too long in the national media the former mayor has been getting a free pass. It's good to see people waking up.

We New Yorkers know. We know that there has never been a more divisive mayor in New York history--not even in the days of Tamany Hall. We know that this mayor was not only insensitve to the plights of poor New Yorkers but that he was a bully. We know that he was more harmful to race relations than the Crown Heights Riots. We know that he lost more than a dozen federal 1st ammendment cases in whcih he tried to silence either silence his critics, stifle legal speech, or ban what he considered to be degenerate art. We know that crime was already going down by the time he bacame mayor. We know that the rest of the contry experienced the same drop in violent crime and booming economy that he now takes credit for. We know that he is an aggressive war monger who has no credentials to run this country other than the fact that he lead this city in a time of grief. We know that his administration was an unmitigated disaster until it was rescued by 9-11. Most of all, we know that he is a liar.

And now, finally, the Times is calling him on it. God! I hope the rest of the country listens.

Nobrow New York

Today is a great day to be me! It is one of my favorite times in New York City. It is NASCAR championship week! My redneck brethren are descending upon the Waldorn Astoria Hotel. There is a parade of cars through Times Square. Drivers are popping up everywhere (though not on letterman this year, due to the strike). One year I went and sat in the bar at the Waldorf Astoria the night of the banquet and watched the crowds. It was great. It wasn't the NASCAR suits inside that were amusing so much as the crowds of fans outside in their NASCAR gear and the few (admittedly like me) who managed to get inside. Having the marketing monster that is NASCAR take over the world's most elegant hotel is the height of nobrow. I mean, it's the Waldorf: it was the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. No other place in America can claim to have been the home of a former king of England. (of course it was nobrow without NASCAR: it is also the New York residence of the Hilton Sisters. They own it now. Why not?)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Who'd have thought

When the movie Phone Booth came out the plot revolved around an idea that I thought was preposterous, that there was still one glass enclosed phonebooth left in New York City. I learn from this morning's New York Times that there are in fact two: both are on West End avenue and a block apart, at 100th street and 101st street.

And my mom says the Times is a useless Liberal propaganda rag.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Years and years ago I decided to write a rock opera of Beowulf. I kind of plan ned it out in my head and wrote three really bad rock songs—al in the key of C, since it was the only key I knew—and then moved on to other projects (probably Speed Racer, the Motion Picture) which would never get produced.

But I love Beowulf. Three weeks ago, in anticipation of the new CGI Beowulf movie directed by Robert Zemeckis (now how interesting a choice is that?) I read Seamus Heany’s fantastic translation for the second time (the first time had been as part of a group recitation at Pennsic). So, with no feast to attend, on Thursday for Thanksigiving I took Hanna out to see Beowulf in 3D at the pavilion. It was a lot of fun. I’m really glad we saw it in 3D, because it probably made it a lot better. I had gone expecting it to be total crap and it wasn’t. It was really good. I got a charge out of it the way I usually do from really good action movies. The animation was excellent, the plot was interesting, even the characters had some coolness to them. No, it wasn’t really Beowulf, but it wasn’t not Beowulf either. It was a nice little riff on the poem. Purists know to stay away.

Beowulf has been pretty big recently. About ten years ago there was Michael Chricton’s take on Beowulf, 13th Warrior with Antonio Banderas. This year there was also a live action film called “Beowulf, Prince of the Geats,” the science fiction version with Christopher Lambert from 1999 (don’t really have to count that one, I guess), and there’s a TV version called Grendel also from 2007. The one that got the most press recently was probably Beowulf and Grendel from 2005. I love it, being a big Beowulf fan, but I certainly can’t keep up with all these versions floating around on cable at the same time. From what I heard about it (I haven’t seen it—I just attended three papers on it at last years Medievalism conference at Ohio State) this seems like it is a much better film than Beowulf and Grendel. In that one they tried to search for “the truth behind the myth” like they did in Troy, and ended up with a rather politically correct Beowulf (Beowulf, for crying out loud), in which the heroic myth is shattered and in its place we are left with a much better ideal, that of modern multi-cultural liberalism. Blah!

In this animated Beowulf they stuck with the heroic myth. Yes, they added a lot of stuff to it that didn’t belong there, but that’s ok. I wasn’t expecting a Tolkinean lecture on Beowulf, after all. To me the most interesting thing was that they made all of the characters look like the actors who were voicing/performing them: Hrothgar looked like Anthony Hopkins, the Queen like Robin Wright Penn, the witch queen like Angelina Jolie, (it was all done with motion capture technology), except for Ray Winstone (ok, and Crispin Glover, but you could actually see a bit of his face in Grendel’s). The body they put on big, chubby Ray Winstone was pretty amazing.

The best part was the Grendel section. They stuck as close to the story as you could expect a modern film to. They even included the boasting contest in which Beowulf tells of battling the sea serpent during a swimming race. They showed really well why Grendel attacks Herrorot—that his hearing is so amplified that the singing of the warriors drove him mad. And the fight scene, while more action packed than in the poem, gets the most important parts right: Beowulf fights him without armor or weapons and rips his arm off.

After that it becomes a different kind of Beowulf-like story. It’s still pretty fun, and it still takes some interesting points from the poem and palys with them, and I liked it. They kind of add a Prospero/Caliban element to the whole thing (if you agree with some of the speculative scholarship about the Tempest), which works pretty well. And the actions scenes are marvelous.

If you go expecting Beowulf you will be disappointed. If you go expecting something else you will likely be pleasantly surprised how much of Beowulf you find there.

Check it out.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I thought the Colts would beat New England and lose to the Chargers. They got it half right. What a massacre.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Ok, so I was wrong about the Colts. I didn't expect such a fourth quarter melt down. The Pats are becoming the team to hate in football--which is usually a mark of great success.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Patriots Colts

As I write this Indy is up by ten in the fourth with the Pats threatening. Most people could see that Indy was a better team all year, in spite of the way the Pats have been running up the score. But it is definitely a great game.

Friday, November 02, 2007

COMMUNIST VICTORY: Colbert not allowed to run!

The communist plutocrats in the South Carolina Democratic Party struck a serious blow against democracy yesterda when the party committee voted 13-3 to keep Stephen Colbert off the primary ballot in South Carolina. He had filed his paperwork and paid the filing fee, but aparently following the rules isn't good enough in South Carolina. You have to be approved by The Committee. Does this sound just a bit like Stalinist CCCP to you?

I mean, I wasn't going to vote for him--even if I did live in South Carolina--but he should ahve been allowed to run. It is seriously anti-democratic for them to keep him off the ballot.