Thursday, July 31, 2014

In Other News: John Boehner is a little bit pregnant

John Boehner wrote a piece in the US Today that argues for suing the President (LINK).  It is political ass-covering or a stupendous type.
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For those of you NOT in the US, a little background.  This has never happened before.  Congress has never sued the President (which is hard to believe in our sue-happy culture, I know).  The reason is because there is a Constitutional solution.  You see, if you really think the President has committed ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’, he can be impeached.  Which makes this statement of Boehner’s asinine, “We are defending the Constitution.”
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You aren’t defending the Constitution.  You are, in fact, violating the Constitution.  Forget the stupidity of the actual suit, Congress is suing Obama for delaying a mandate for two years.  Forget that Congress is suing Obama because he has issued Executive Orders - at a rate slower than Bush 1, Bush 2, Clinton, Eisenhower and Saint Reagan. 
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Here is the thing, if you REALLY believe that Obama has done something so bad he can be sued, then you should impeach him.  What you are saying is “Obama broke the law, but we don’t feel like following our Constitutional duty to impeach him – because we are chicken-shit cowards.”
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But that really isn’t it, is it Mr. Speaker?  What is really behind this is that the 24 hour news cycle, Fox News, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and your own House members have let the rhetoric get out of hand.  They have all deluded themselves so much, that they believe the President is impeachment worthy.  And you, politically, know this is a bad move.  So you are trying a political hit job that is a halfway shot.
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Good luck with that.  Your dyed-in-the-red base won’t be appeased, and everyone else can see through this transparent political ploy.
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Paul Ryan Takes a Half Step Towards Climate Science

Paul Ryan, in a conversation with CNN (LINK), took a half-step towards scientific reality the other day.  And gang, that is no small feat.
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Here’s the thing, in the current state of crazy town, I think he went pretty far out on a limb.  Here is the question and answer.
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On what government can do to fight climate change: "Climate change occurs no matter what. The question is, can and should the federal government do something about it? And I would argue the federal government, with all its tax and regulatory schemes, can't. And all it will do is end up hurting our country, our people, and especially low income individuals."
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Now, it isn’t much, I will give you that.  But compared to the rest of the Republican Party – it is a sprint towards reality.  It’s not that the Republicans – as a party, not as individuals, are moving very slowly towards this.  No, the Republicans have been moving, en mass, away from admitting this.  A few elections ago, they were promoting carbon caps and talking about global warming.  Since Obama’s election, all of that is gone (with their Health Care support, and any other reasonableness).
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So this is a big deal.  And, he is right.  Our federal government, alone, can’t do much about global climate change.  It will take a world-wide effort.
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But what we can do, what his admission opens the door to, is to prepare for climate change.  To pull our ostrich-like heads out of the sand.  In North Carolina, the coastal commission is prohibited from (the Republican state government) from figuring climate change/ sea level rise into any future planning.  The House of Representatives has prohibited the military from including any climate change issues in their future plans.  This after the military has identified that climate impacts in parts of the world (flooding, droughts, and civil wars from food riots) are the #1 known issue that might, in the future, involve the US overseas.
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So bravo for the baby steps here.  Maybe it is all he can take in the current political climate.  But taking, even those steps, endangers him with the party base.  But for me, and people for whom science isn’t a dirty word, it is a big deal.  And I applaud him for it.

Movie of the Day – July 31: Murder by Death

A movie that pretty much makes fun of all the movies I love, and I love it.  It is a spoof of detective stories.  It is written by Neil Simon, so there are some pretty large groaners of jokes.  The deaf/ mute maid (Nancy Walker), bad puns and fart jokes, but that is a minor annoyance.  Murder by Death is a send up of detective genres.  And, as you know if you have been following this week, love detective movies.
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The plot is that a mysterious stranger (Truman Capote in a role he was born to play as mysterious weirdo) calls together the greatest detectives in the world to solve a murder.  David Niven and Maggie Smith play Dick and Dora Charleston, instead of Nick and Nora Charles, from the Thin Man see what I mean about the bad puns.  I mean maybe they had to change the names for legal reasons, but I shall avoid the semi-names from now on.  Anyway, they are the debonair detective couple in love with a intermittently appearing Fox Terrier.
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David Niven, Mryon & Maggie Smith

Elsa Lanchester plays Miss Marple in her frumpy best.  Peter Faulk, does his Colombo / Sam Spade impersonation and Eileen Brennan is his well-traveled secretary.  Peter Sellers does Charlie Chan – which might seem racist, but Charlie Chan was always played by a Caucasian, and so I take this as a commentary.  Plus it was 1976 and people didn’t complain then like they do now.  And  James Coco was Hercule Poirot.  Funny aside, everyone has a sidekick in the movie but neither Miss Marple or Hersule Poirot had one in most movies, so they kind of made one up.  With minimal billing, James Coco’s side kick was James Cromwell – with a horrible French accent.
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The full slate of detectives
The movie is funny, but the more familiar you are with the original characters the funnier the movie is.  These are actors  having a blast at the top of their game.  In some ways, it is like Hudson Hawk, in that they are all having fun.  It is unlike Hudson Hawk in that they follow the script and stay in character.
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Always Amazing Eileen Brennan


I love this movie for a few reasons.  First, it is a great send up.  Second I love Maggie Smith and Eileen Brennan in almost anything.  And finally, if you can’t stand James Coco – this is the movie that will change your mind.  Plus a Fox Terrier is always a plus in a movie.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Movie of the Day – July 30: Hudson Hawk

From the sublime (Laura) to the ridiculous.  Hudson Hawk is the movie for when you are alone one evening and want to be entertained by the fun of a movie without worrying about plot flaws, continuity, believability or Andie MacDowell’s “acting”.
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Rumor has it, they had to digitally add hair in every frame
This is one of those movies, I love, but I have no idea how it got made.  Seriously, it is a mess.  I think it was a Bruce Willis vanity project in the Moonlighting time period, but I could be wrong – and it isn’t worth looking up.
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It flops (like a fish out of water) from New York, to Rome to Florence with nary a pause.  I suppose I should try to tell you what you are getting into.  Here are the high points.
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She's very pretty.
Bruce Willis is Hudson Hawk, a recently paroled thief who wants to go straight (but they keep pulling him back in).  Andie MacDowll plays a pseudo love interest who is, in reality, a undercover spy-nun for the Vatican – and you thought she could barely pull off “girl #4”.
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Danny Aiello (poppa don’t preach) plays Hudson’s sidekick , partner in crime.
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James Coburn essentially wanders into the frame as an older version of Flint, the 690’s swinging spy – and then out after introducing a bunch of kid CIA types.
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Bunny (with 2 extras)
Sandra Bernhard and Richard Grant (and a Fox Terrier named Bunny) chew through scenery with an abandon that is truly admirable.  I mean they are so over the top, they might as well be animated.
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The plot, as it were, centers on Hudson having to steal various models by DaVinci for Sandra Bernhard and Richard Grant.  It all has to do with alchemy and gold and the Mayflowers obsession with sex.  The Mayflowers the bad guys, not the Mayflowers the pilgrims.
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Hudson is bad in a wonderful way.  Unlike some bad movies everyone knows they are in this for a kick and this is no piece of art.  And so the rift off each other and look like they are having a great time.  Along the way, they happened to make an entertaining movie.  Not good, but entertaining.
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Except Andie MacDowell.  She is, as always, out of her depth while acting – but she is better here, where no one is serious – than she usually is..  And, of course, she is gorgeous.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beach Porn?

Is Beach Porn something?  I must have missed this.
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Maybe it is because I am gay, and I am super sensitive about having children wander up, I am pretty anti-public sex.  And, even if I wasn't anti-public sex, I must say, the beach?
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Sand.  Sand and dirty water.  Don't get me wrong, the beach is tres erotic (as the French Surrender Monkeys say).  But more in a cerebral way.  You know, the "aren't they attractive", "spread some lotion on me" kind of way.  But primarily in the "let's move this into the house and a shower" kind of way.
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It only takes sand in your trunks once to realize it is a bad idea.  Maybe enough people haven't grown up close to the beach as I did.

Cathedral of New York A Wander By..

A Dull Facade
This week-end Eddie and I were wandering up from Chinatown to Washington Square (the NYU Bookstore to be exact) - and we passed a church and decided to go in.
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Turns out it is the original New York Catholic Cathedral.  Here is the (fascinating) Wikipedia entry.
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Apparently the "Know Nothings" (a cross between a political movement and a kind of KKK) attacked the church in an anti-catholic / anti-immigrant rage.  The church had to be defended by gunfire.
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Crazy.  Actually the wikipeida entry is interesting.  Now I know Wikipedia isn't always correct, but the inside of the church mentions the incident as well, so I tend to believe it happened.
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Anyway, here are the pictures we took.
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Beautiful Interior
Here is the story from Wikipedia.....
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In 1836, the cathedral was the subject of an attempted sack after tensions between Irish Catholics and anti-Catholic Know-Nothing nativists led to a number of riots and other physical confrontations. The situation worsened when a brain-injured young woman, Maria Monk, wrote a book telling her "true" story – a Protestant girl who converted to Catholicism, and was then forced by nuns to have sex with priests, with the resulting children being baptized then killed horribly. Despite the book being debunked by a mildly anti-Catholic magazine editor, nativist anger at the story resulted in a decision to attack the cathedral.[9] Loopholes were cut in the church's outer walls, which had just recently been built, and the building was defended from the rioters with muskets.[2][9] Afterwards, the Ancient Order of Hibernians established its headquarters across the street from the church

Movie of the Day – July 29: Laura

Laura.
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Dana Andrews in a picture of Laura
I am so infatuated with this movie; I forget that not everyone has seen it.  Laura is perfection.  Noir perfection.
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Gene Tierney and Vincent Price at their most attractive
Laura is (like so many of my choices) a detective story, a mystery and a love story all rolled into one.  It stars the enigmatic Gene Tierney as the title character, Laura Hunt.  Seen in flashback, Laura is the woman murdered.  Gene Tierney has a breathless authenticity as a girl on the knife edge of something unique.  Here gift is exposing that the choice isn’t between opposites, but between two almost opposites.  Sanity vs. crazy-eyes, love vs. obsession, strength vs. lose of control – she teeters between these two items like Melissa McCarthy in stilettos, it works, but you don’t know how. 
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Judith Andersen, Vincent Price, Clifton Webb and Dana Andrews

You might wonder why you don’t hear more of the amazing Gene Tierney.  If you have the DVD, there might be a biography episode on her.  If not, well, it is a sad story.  She did amazing work (nominated twice for Best Actress) but had a breakdown after a failed marriage Oleg Cassini, the birth of a downs syndrome child and several failed love affairs.
Clifton Webb and a stunning Gene Tierney
But I get ahead of myself.  In the movie, Laura is seen in flashback, because the movie opens with a detective (Dana Andrews at his laconic best) investigating her murder.  What he finds is a love triangle with Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb in his first movie) and Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price when he was at his romantic lead best – before the zombie blood phase).  Laura’s Aunt, Ann Treadwell, is played by Judith Andersen (later Dame Judith Andresen).  She is also in love with Shelby.
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Otto Preminger directed produced and helped with the adaptation for this movie.  It is wonderful.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Movie of the Day – July 28: A Place In The Sun

Doomed Love.  You have to be in the mood for doomed young love.  A time when every emotion is amplified, every breath is sensual and every feelings is the most intense of your life.  When you are ready to visit that, A Place In The Sun is the movie to see.
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Montgomery Clift is a handsome young man from the wrong side of the tracks.  He visits a distance relative and gets a low level job in his factory.  During this time, he falls for Shelly Winters.  A nice, plain jane of a co-worker.  They settled into what is, for Clift, a workable, pleasant dated relationship.  And for Shelly is the great love of her life.  The asymmetric interest is no problem.  Until.
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Until…  Clift’s boss , the rich uncle, happy with his work, brings him closer into his home.  There he meets a society girl, Elizabeth Taylor, and falls desperately in love.  Desperate is the right word.
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Clift has already broken the prime rule of work (don’t get involved with the girls) – and he now has a love sick (and pregnant) Shelly Winters on his hands.
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Things don’t get better.
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It is amazingly shot in black and white, and Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift never looked better.  This movie, unfortunately, seemed to consign Shelly Winters to a roles where she wasn’t the glamorous woman anymore. All three, Taylor, Clift and Winters, went on to bigger roles, more accolades and many many awards.  But this movie was the first that showed me what all the fuss was about.  I get how men fell for Elizabeth Taylor (and Montgomery Clift – who was both sexy and pretty in this role).  Women saw Monty as the bad boy with a heart – following it where it leads.  Which, if you see or saw the movie – provides the shock of what happens.  And no, it is 1951, so nothing gory and no rape.
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Watch and relive what your first crush – your soul saving love of your life – what it was like.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Decker Building

ON my wanders, I occasionally take pictures of amazing buildings to fine out if there is anything surprising aobu tthem that matches my interst in them.
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This the "Decker Building" off Union Square.
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Eddie and I saw it a bright, sunny Saturday, and I tried to find otu about it.  It isn't in my 1001 buildings of New York, but then I ran it down via Wikipedia - first through Union Square buildings, then it's own entry.
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Turns out - a big history.
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It is 33 feet wide and 138 feet deep.  It was built for the Decker Piano company.  Build in 1869, it is in the style of Venetian and Islamic buildings (then called Oriental - in the Ottoman Empire style).
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From 1968 - 1973, Andy Warhol's studios were on the 6th floor - which finally explains to me why the Andy Warhol statue was on Broadway and 16th for that year.
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Anyway, it is lovely.

The Left Supports Putin?

This article confused - and actually angered me a little this morning.
There is no justifying Putin right now.
If you hear the random liberal or crazy leftie try to justify Putin's actions in Ukraine, you have my permission to ignore them because they are idiots.  Don't argue with them - if the are spouting this there is no way they will listen to reason.
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What Putin is doing in Ukraine is killing innocent people in a foreign country to boost his internal polling numbers.  He is annexing land and he does it because Russia is powerful and he can.
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It is possible to suggest that there are cases in the past where the US has done something similar.  But arguing in that manner (we did it too) is an argument of the US was in the wrong at certain times, not an agreement that Putin is in the right this time.