Archive for December, 2007

Top 10 Movies of 2007

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

2007 was an unusual year for me–I actually saw a lot of movies. In the past I went to theaters only when something really grabbed my attention, but this year I went on average at least once a week. Even more surprising: most of them were actually good! Granted, I didn’t see all the movies of 2007 by any stretch, but of those I did see, here are my top ten:

10) Mr Bean’s Holiday: I doubt many critics will list this as one of their top movies of 2007, but it is my list! Hilarious from beginning to end and my favorite comedy of the year.

9) In the Shadow of the Moon: Clearly the best documentary of the year, this is an amazing look at the space program featuring many of the astronauts involved, and chronicling mankinds’ greatest achievement.
8) 310 to Yuma: A remake of a classic Western film, 310 is exciting throughout. Whether or not you like Westerns, this is definitely a film worth seeing.

7) Amazing Grace: The true and inspiring story of William Wilberforce, a British MP who led the movement to ban the slave trade in the British Empire.

6) Into the Wild: Based on a book, this is the story of Chris McCandless, a wanderer who forsake his upper-class upbringing to travel alone throughout America, ultimately attempting to live off the land in the Alaskan bush. A powerful epic about friendship, family, adventure, and forgiveness.

5) The Kite Runner: Based on the book of the same name, a story of hope, regret and forgiveness set in pre-Soviet Afghanistan, and chronicling the atrocities of the Communists, and later the Taliban. The unknown Afghan child actors steal the show, making this a moving and fascinating film.

4) Charlie Wilson’s War: Charlie Wilson was a Democratic Congressman from Texas know for his philandering and corruption until he took an interest in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and worked tirelessly to provide arms to the Afghans, thus helping secure defeat for the Soviet Union and ultimately ending the Cold War. A fascinating poltical film with loads of humor and touching scenes mixed in.

3) American Gangster: Based on the real life heroin kingpin Frank Lucas who ruled Harlem in the 1970s and the cop who brought him down, this movie is intense from beginning to end. Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe really shine.

2) Zodiac: An very underrated film based on the real life Zodiac serial killer who terrorized the San Francisco area during the late 1960s and 1970s. Although about a murderer, the film is not a “slasher film” by any means; focusing strongly on the police investigations and the psychological aspects of Zodiac.

1) Breach: Based on the true story of the takedown of Robert Hanssen (brilliantly portrayed by Chris Cooper), FBI agent and traitor who spied for the Soviet Union and Russia for more than two decades.

O Holy Night

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Merry Christmas to you and your kin!

And if you need help getting into the Christmas spirit, this is always worth a read:

EDITOR’S NOTE: Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church, according to the Web site for the Newseum, located in Washington, D.C., has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’

Please tell me the truth – Is there a Santa Claus?

Viriginia O’Hanlon

115 West Ninety-Fifth Street

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.

They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measure by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest man that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

End Illegal Immigration for only $17.95!

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Wearing a cap can solve illegal immigration! So says Newsmax:

The magical cap is available here. But wait, there’s more! The same e-mail also promotes a Newsmax/Dick Morris investment seminar. Ah, Newsmax–your one stop shop for political commentary, shady financial advice and medical quackery!

Philadelphia Fountain

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Philadelphia, PA, November 10, 2007

Media Bias?

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Recent headlines from Yahoo News (all Associated Press articles):

Huckabee plays the woe-is-me card

Some saw Mayor Giuliani as secretive

Paul keeps white supremacist donation

And then there’s this…

Edwards says he’s anti-poverty candidate

Tancrazy Endorses Romney

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

There’s much weeping and gnashing of teeth among Fred Thompson supporters, as Tom Tancredo has dropped out of the presidential race and thrown his 12 supporters to Mitt Romney. Tancredo is now viewed as a “tool” and a “sellout.”

Seriously, why did anyone ever think Tancredo was anything but a tool? He picked an issue that inflames passions and ran with it for all it was worth. It was about getting attention and raising his profile. If illegal immigrants were popular, Tancredo would have cast himself as their greatest defender. Just look at his past activism: term limits. Yeah, Tancredo was all about those too–until his own self imposed term was up, at which time he had a change of heart. Instead he stayed on to fight illegal immigration, because, you know, America couldn’t survive if Tom Tancredo wasn’t in Congress.

In short, Tancredo endorsed Romney because he thinks Romney will win. Does this hurt Fred Thompson? Not much, if at all. Endorsements are usually meaningless (witness Al Gore’s endorsement of Howard Dean in ‘04), and Tancredo didn’t have much backing to begin with. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that regardless of the outcome of the GOP primary, no one is going to point back at the Tancredo endorsement as the decisive moment.

Huckabee and Harriet Miers

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Is Mike Huckabee getting the Harriet Miers treatment?:

A conservative counter-revolution is breaking out in the talk radio universe and on prominent conservative blogs.

The same forces that joined to force the White House to withdraw Harriett Miers’ Supreme Court nomination, a tender by the president that was as explicitly grounded in Miers’ identity as a born again evangelical as Huckabee’s presidential campaign surge is based on his choice of career and religious affiliation.

Huckabee’s rise has come without much help from the GOP establishment, that’s for sure. And now the establishment is gunning for him much as they did Harriet Miers. Most of the conservative intelligentsia is unimpressed with Huckabee because he represents a mirror image of themselves: they tend to be fiscally conservative and socially moderate. Huckabee is just the opposite.

Much of the conservative base is less fiscally conservative than the intelligentsia but more socially conservative. Huckabee also fills the “conservative void” (or, more accurately, the “social conservative void”) that Fred Thompson was supposed to fill. And anyone who has ever heard a Huckabee speech knows he is a brilliant orator. None of these factors impress the intelligentsia, but social conservatives love it.

And of course the establishment feels Huckabee is unelectable, which is a legitimate concern.

It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out. My own hunch is that Huckabee won’t win the GOP nod. His lack of infrastructure and support among fiscal conservatives will catch up with him. He may still be viable as a VP candidate, especially if Romney or Giuliani win the nod, but he may become a victim of his own success. Since becoming a front runner the attacks against him have made him a much more polarizing figure than he previously was.

A Question

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

I’ve been wondering this lately, so I thought I’d ask my readers for their theories. Mitt Romney instituted a government mandated universal healthcare system in Massachusetts. Yet nary a conservative pundit ever mentions this. If it had been, say, Hillary Clinton or Mike Huckabee, we’d never hear the end of it. So why is Romneycare essentially a non-issue? Is it because the establishment is, more or less, supportive of Romney and simply wishes to ignore this? Or is conservatism moving more toward embracing socialized medicine?

3Peat at 3,333 Feet

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Photo by Marie Freeman, who has lots more.

Cross posted at Hillbilly Savants

Debate Reax

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

I saw the GOP debate. Pretty bad, although the presence of Alan Keyes made me appreciate the frontrunners more than I previously thought possible.