Sunday, April 2, 2017

What's wrong with Ghost in the Shell?

ghost in the shell 2017 movie poster

Glad you asked. And since I saw it last night . . .

If you're a fanboy of the original anime like me, you might end up mildly disappointed by this movie. It's not a bad stand alone movie. But if you've watched the hype over this since the decision was made to make the film, you've heard how it was going to be a live-action remake of the classic 1995 anime.

Uhmm . . . yeah, about that . . .

A more accurate description would be that this 2017 version of Ghost in the Shell, is a lush, cgi heavy, sci-fi movie based on the classic 1995 anime of the same name.

We've got a lot of the same characters -- Batou, Togusa, Ishikawa, Saito, and the Chief of Section 9. For no apparent reason, the Chief now has a name -- Aramaki (and is played by well known Asian actor 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano). And the Major's name is also changed to Mira Killian as opposed to the original Motoko Kusinagi from the anime. Though there is a reason for that. And that is where the live action version veers away from the classic anime.

While the original is a story of how a hacking program amassed so much knowledge that it became aware of its own existence, essentially becoming a sentient digital life form referred to as The Puppetmaster but originally created under the code name Project 2501.

In the live action version, the villain, referred to as Kuze, is a failed previous iteration of the human/cyborg hybrid experiment that the Major is the culmination of. His course of action -- hunting down all those responsible for creating him and killing them, is quite different from the Puppetmaster's motivation in the original -- simply to be allowed to exist and be recognized as a new form of life with all the freedom's we afford other sentient life forms on the planet.

And while the 1995 anime is more focused on the profound implications of artificial intelligence and what might happen if/when machines evolve beyond what we've made them to be, the 2017 version is more of an indictment of the capitalist industrial complex and their (supposed) heartless drive to create new product. In this case the melding of a human brain and a cybernetic body. Of course they have to wipe out those pesky memories that might complicate matters, hence the Major's new name of Kira instead of her real name Motoko, something that is revealed in the climactic final sequences of the 2017 film.

The original also had quite a bit of examination of the politics of a new future world where the lines between corporations and governments have become blurred, that are reduced now to simply corporation = bad, government = maybe not bad.

I had previously wondered if any of the changes in the live action version might have been driven by the thought that audiences, particularly mainstream American audiences, would be put off by the talky nature of the original anime. Part of what I like about those flicks is exactly the fact that they have a lot of narrative and exposition in them as they put forward complicated thoughts on whatever subject is driving the film.

But there's also quite a few dialog heavy scenes in this current film where the Major struggles to understand who and what she is and where she came from and what might have happened to her. That sort of surprised me.

The film makers did throw in a handful of iconic scenes from the original, pretty faithfully recreated to please us fanboys -- the opening and closing back dives off skyscrapers by the Major, the cyborg body creation sequence, the water fight with the ghost hacked assassin. The Major's battle with the spider tank was altered a bit, but not in such a way that I was overly disappointed.

All in all, it isn't a bad film. I'm not sure how it will do with audiences that aren't familiar with the original. I think it's a decent stand alone movie, but I myself, couldn't separate my expectations/knowledge of the original from how I was viewing this version. It did make me smile at times. The Chief is sort of a bad ass in this version, that was fun.

So, like I said at the outset . . . what's wrong with Ghost in the Shell?

In two words -- nothing really.

And now a word about whitewashing . . .

All these social justice warriors bitching about Scarlett Johansson playing an Asian character need to shut the f*ck up, put their onesie on, grab their warm milk and go back to their pillow filled safe spaces.

Once you watch the live action version you'll understand why Johansson was a completely valid choice of actress for this part as it was written in the same way that Michael Pitt was okay as Kuze (who's original name was revealed in the movie, but I cannot remember it now).

And I know that I had written a post about Johansson's casting in this part previously and had suggested Asian-American actresses for the role, but that was primarily driven by my exhaustion of Scarlett being cast in every freakin' role that was coming down the pike back then. Watch the original anime in the English dubbed format. If you discard the Asian character names, I defy you to see any of those characters as Asian. That's one of the fetishes of anime -- the westernization of the character features. And it is also part of the underlying narrative of both the original anime and this live action version -- a Japanese woman has her mind/ghost implanted into a generic cyborg body, not a replica of her original human form, but a fully artificial man-made cybernetic body. One that is a prototype for a future lucrative business.

In fact, in the original, part of the Major's angst is that she is not sure how unique she is. She struggles to understand what defines her in the world and society. At one point, she is riding a water taxi and looks up to see someone who looks exactly like her dining at a restaurant. Perhaps if the 2017 film's creators had been able to cast a more unremarkable actress in this role it would have driven that point home with more effectiveness. But they chose ScarJo for the box office. But whitewashing?! Know what you're talking about before you make statements like that dumbasses.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Jeb Bush > Joseph Curl

In a recent article at the Daily Wire, petulant ass clown Joseph Curl referred to the former Florida Governor and Presidential candidate as a "bitter little man" over comments Bush made during a Sunday morning talk show in south Florida recently.

When asked about President Trump's recent ups and downs during the first 100 days of his administration, Jeb replied that "He's a distraction in and of himself... He's got a lot of work to do, and some of these things — the wiretapping and all of this stuff — is a complete distraction that makes it harder to accomplish the things I know he wants to do."

Jeb went on to correctly point out that Trump "...hasn't shifted to being president in the way that people are used to, and I think that's the problem, I would say. The strength is that he's acted in a good way and lifted people's spirits in terms of economic growth and job creation. But he's a distraction in and of himself by creating all of these, through Twitter and..."

Continuing along the same lines that many thoughtful commentators and pundits have taken, Bush advised that Trump "...should stop saying things that aren't true that are distractions from the task at hand." Jeb also pointed out that " whole approach to this is to watch his deeds, not his words. His actions matter in terms of the long-term consequences for people."

Showing more class and deference than candidate Trump ever showed him, the former Governor lauded some of the President's personnel choices so far: "I love the [Neil] Gorsuch pick. I love Betsy DeVos. I think the generals he's picked, which it's pretty extraordinary to have that many generals, but they're all people of great integrity. General [John] Kelly, who lived here, is a patriot. General [James] Mattis, Rex Tillerson — these are all top-notch people, and he's been decisive on the regulatory side, where he has unique control."

Trump and a great many commentators such as Curl here bashed Jeb relentlessly throughout the primaries. But as I said before, those of us who lived in Florida while Jeb was Governor for eight years, knew him to be an excellent administrator and highly competent chief executive for our state.

Imagine the difference in competence and tone if we had Jeb or Marco Rubio in the White House now. I was #NeverTrump for a reason. It wasn't a stance I took lightly. And as we watch Trump and his minions stumble around Washington, lashing out at conservative grass-roots organizations like the Freedom Caucus for properly standing on principle, one has to wonder what's in store for then next four years.

And for the record, Joseph Curl? F*ck you! Let me know when you've done anything other than type at a keyboard and hide behind the internet's anonymity.

I was heartened a bit by the comments below Curl's hit piece, where commenters pointed out that though they didn't care for Jeb as a candidate or even personally, he was right about everything he said.

Melissa Benoist in a bikini = unremarkable

The CW's Supergirl, Melissa Benoist, was spotted by the pap's recently spending a relaxing day at the beach with friends:

melissa benoist bikini

Look, she's adorable, no doubt about that, as one reviewer mentioned -- she's got the most weaponized pout on television. I've watched the show, it's okay, but has production values on a par with a SyFy movie of the week. But it seems the Supergirl costume is hiding some lack of effort on her part to put some super in the hero, so to speak.

melissa benoist bikini
melissa benoist bikini
melissa benoist bikini

I'm not saying she looks bad or anything, but watching commenters on various forums bashing Gal Gadot for not looking like Serena Williams, you'd think perhaps she might want to work on her fitness tone a bit.

just sayin'

By the way, Melissa has done a bit of saucy work in other productions previously. Here's an unexpurgated look at what's under that iconic costume:

melissa benoist topless
melissa benoist topless

Daily Duffster

hillary duff nipples

Hillary Duff was spotted out recently wearing her trademark hat and short shorts accentuating her power-lifter legs and impressive white girl booty, along with a ribbed tank top that wasn't quite cutting it in the modesty department.

No complaints from me

hillary duff nipples
hillary duff ass in shorts
hillary duff ass in shorts
hillary duff ass in shorts

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I'm liking this Gorsuch guy

So the second day on confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch are well under way with Dems coming at him in 30 minute sessions over the next 12 hours.

Seems a bit ridiculous to attack someone in this sort of marathon style, but it is what politics has come to in this country.

Anyway, decrepit "Senator Mam" Dianne Feinstein decided to play her best smug condescending superior role and dared Gorsuch to offer up "one or two cases we may not have heard of" in order to show he's not a biased judge ruling solely for gigantic, heartless corporations at the expense of the little guy Dems always claim they care so much about (but totally ignore during Presidential elections).

Gorsuch delivered this stunning knockout:


Might want to do your homework next time princess. There's a reason why this guy was confirmed by even Democrats for his position 10 years ago. If this is the best attack Dems can come up with, why are they even bothering?

And for some follow up goodness, here's Gorsuch destroying another of the Dems lame talking points about him over an already thoroughly debunked claim by a former student that then professor Gorsuch was telling his female students that employers were put in an unfair position by having to give women maternity leave and so on:

Keep digging knuckleheads, this guy's way too smart and talented to fall for your transparent gotcha questions.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Michelle Rodriguez topless for the trifecta

michelle rodriguez nude topless the assignment

Hollywood tough chick Michelle Rodriguez appears in the altogether in her new movie The Assignment:

michelle rodriguez nude topless the assignment

If I'm understanding the plot of this pic correctly, a hitman is double crossed and is subsequently surgically transformed into a woman by some rogue surgeon played by Sigorney Weaver. The now hitwoman goes on a revenge spree after either those who double crossed her or the surgeon or both.

movie review: the assignment

Details are a bit sketchy on the movie, and like the Kristen Stewart pics in the previous post, mostly all the attention being paid to this movie is over Rodriguez being naked and also the promise of some lesbian action since she's supposed to be a guy underneath, and so on. Don't know if they'll take the opportunity to have some fun with role reversals here, but it would be a great missed opportunity for some insightful humor.

michelle rodriguez nude topless the assignment

If you're casting a movie and are looking for a recognizable female lead who could pass, attitude-wise, for a man, you can't go wrong with MRod. She's been playing the hard-ass girl in movies forever it seems. From her early appearance in Girlfight to SWAT to her appearances in the various Resident Evil installments, the 38 year old Rodriguez has the physical presence to play a convincing fighter/soldier type and enough swagger to pass as a biological man underneath Michelle's own very attractive feminine outward appearance.

michelle rodriguez nude topless the assignment

And assuming there's any sort of girl-on-girl action in the movie, we've already been treated to Michelle's sapphic leanings as she was one of rent-a-lesbian Cara Delevingne's earliest conquests in the movie industry. I'm not thinking we'll be seeing this movie at the Academy Awards next season, most likely a straight-to-video affair, but I've always appreciated MRod's bad ass character portrayals, so I hope the film does well for her.

michelle rodriguez nude topless the assignment
michelle rodriguez nude topless the assignment
michelle rodriguez nude topless the assignment


Home sick for the weekend and doing the corresponding non-standard sleep/wake thing, I rented this movie during the wee hours when I couldn't sleep. What did I think of it?

Glad you asked.

MRod plays a hit man named Frank Kitchen (a fake name as she tells us in the voice over). Made up as a man with a scraggly beard and making her voice more husky than normal, Rodriguez makes the portrayal as close as any woman could manage without massive CGI. There is a full-frontal nude scene early on where they show Frank in all his manliness . . . it's pretty convincing . . . and unsettling.

Anyway, Kitchen is double-crossed and ends up on the operating table of a slightly insane rogue doctor played with perfect God Complex insanity by Sigourney Weaver. Weaver's doctor decides to both punish Kitchen for one of his assassinations and experiment with one of her pet theories. She surgically transforms Kitchen into a woman, delivering the massive psychic shock possible by stripping away his "macho man" persona and lifestyle while simultaneously giving him the opportunity to redeem himself as a woman. The doctor believes that "gender = identity" so without the awful manliness that supports his killer asthetic, he will be able to simply walk away from that lifestyle and live a calm, happy life as a woman.

More than a little far fetched, but the doctor is crazy after all. On a more practical note, in terms of being far fetched, is the film's notion that one can recover from such massive and total gender reassignment surgery in a matter of days without scarring and bruising and debilitating pain and so on. But once we get the basic set-up, the movie then follows a fairly predictable revenge drama format with only one or two mild surprises thrown in.

There's some cleverness to how the movie is laid out with flashback timelines and storytelling, voice over by Rodriguez, and some Sin City style graphic scene cut ins and outs. It's a mash-up of styles, and I don't mean that as a negative. The movie looks good -- nice cinematography, sets and action pieces. Good casting -- along with Rodriguez and Weaver, there's Anthony Lapaglia and Tony Shaloub. They put some effort into this movie, and it shows.

Rodriguez does a good job with the role. Obviously, she can handle the action scenes, but she also conveys the emotion of her situation believably. And writer/director Walter Hill puts in some small bits of nuance -- Kitchen lamenting that the female hormones are softening/weakening his body so that he can't fight like he once could. And spending the night with a nurse he met earlier in the film as a man, he doesn't know if he can please her adequately now. Kitchen finally sort of comes to terms with his situation, at one point using his appearance to his advantage to escape a dire predicament.

Not a bad movie, I doubt you'll hear much about it unless the transgender community gets up in arms over it for some reason. I wouldn't have spent money on it if I wasn't home sick, and I can't recommend you do either. It'll make it's way onto basic cable at some point. Check it out then.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Kristen Stewart is topless too

kristen stewart topless personal shopper

Before she went in for the full butch lesbian look with the short blonde buzz cut hairdo, Kristen Stewart worked on a movie called Personal Shopper. I posted a grainy screencap a while back, and it appears there are more grainy screencaps out now. So here you go:

I found some better quality caps, so I've replaced the grainy stuff with the higher quality images. 'Cause I'm cool like that. Enjoy:

kristen stewart topless personal shopper
kristen stewart topless personal shopper
kristen stewart topless personal shopper
kristen stewart topless personal shopper
kristen stewart topless personal shopper

What's the movie about? Is it any good? Who knows. No one seems to be talking about the movie, only leaking grainy images. Might not be a good sign for the box office. just sayin'

Nicole Kidman is topless

nicole kidman topless pretty little liars

Nicole Kidman is part of the sort-of A-list cast of HBO's new limited run series Pretty Little Liars.

When I saw the cast -- Kidman, Reese (I am an American citizen!) Witherspoon, Shalene Woodley, and Laura Dern, and along with the fact that it was on HBO, I sort of expected there would be some skin involved. And with both Nicole and Shalene having done a bit of partial nudity in film before, I figured it would be one or the other of them to start things off.

I'm not surprised that it's Nicole showing off her amazingly tight 49 year old body, because . . . well . . . she's amazing looking. Amiright?

Anyway, I tried to watch the show, but after the first episode, I gave up on it. The premise is that there's been a murder, and we're looking backward at the events leading up to it to figure out whodunit.

Problem for me came in the initial set up -- new to the upscale beachfront town is Woodley and her introspective 7 year old son. After the first day of orientation, we find out that the spoiled princess daughter of local town bitch, the horribly aged Laura Dern, has marks on her throat and claims someone in class choked her.

The teacher goes full social justice warrior and has the kids in a circle with their mommies behind them and asks little princess who hurt her. Naturally, she points out the awkward new boy. Everyone turns at him in accusatory horror. His mother asks him if he did it, saying it's okay to tell her the truth.


And this is where I started shouting at the television. As a single parent myself, my first question to my son would have been "Did you see who hurt that little girl?" I would never have jumped to the conclusion that he was guilty of anything simply because some other 6 or 7 year old claimed he did. What utter horsesh*t!

I saw the rest of the show through a angry haze and wasn't very impressed. Needless to say, I won't be watching any further episodes. Thankfully, we've got the internet to capture any interesting images like these. And I won't feel the least bit guilty using these pictures without watching the show, because knowing HBO's shameful blatant politics, they deserve to have anything they thought might draw viewers to their latest propaganda broadcast undercut.

nicole kidman topless pretty little liars
nicole kidman topless pretty little liars

And an animated gif of the above images ('cause I'm nice like that):

nicole kidman topless pretty little liars

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mischa Barton in a bikini

mischa barton bikini 138 water

Pics surfaced online this week of my favorite hot mess Mischa Barton in a bikini for a 138Water photoshoot.

I'm assuming these pics are at least 10 years old, because the now 31 year old model/actress/fashion entrepreneur hasn't looked this good in ages.

mischa barton bikini ass 138 water

You may recall that it was only in January of this year that Mischa was videoed hanging over the fence in her back yard, railing about the end of the world and how her mother was a witch and so on. Voluntarily taken to the hospital, she was diagnosed as having consumed the date rape drug GHB, which Mischa claimed her "friends" must have given her at her 31st birthday party.

That's a heck of a circle of friends she's got there. Assuming that's what actually occurred. Mischa has had a long history of problematic behavior, and has a contentious relationship with her mother that I've written about before. I wonder if we'll ever get to see what she's capable of as an artist? Robert Downey Jr. was able to fight off his demons and re-invent himself as a franchise capable and respected actor. Can Mischa do the same or does she even have that talent within her? We may never know.

Though these pics have a clear 'shopped look to them, it's still a decent set of images. I'm not at all surprised that 138Water put these out after the furor of Mischa's last public mess died down. No such thing as bad publicity, I guess.

mischa barton bikini 138 water
mischa barton bikini 138 water
mischa barton bikini ass 138 water
mischa barton bikini 138 water

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Here's the real problem with Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions isn't a racist. It isn't racist to insist that folks produce an ID to vote. Racists don't march with black community leaders to support equal rights and an end to discrimination. Are we ever going to get past this nonsense that every white guy from south of the Mason-Dixon line is a closet Klan member?

And Sessions isn't some sort of Russian agent or colluder or whatever. He met the Russian Ambassador because that's what politicians in Washington do . . . they take meetings . . . all day long . . . with pretty much anyone. Just ask Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

No, the problem with Sessions is that he's been in Government for over 30 years.

So when you go up to Jeff Sessions at high noon on the day of the Summer Solstice and ask him if the sun is shining, he doesn't answer "Yes" or "Of course it is shining" or "Why don't you just look up and see for yourself, dumbass!" you get a twenty minute meandering speech full of equivocations and ambiguities and prevarications and all manner of linguistic legerdemain instead of just getting a straight answer.

Despite what that asshat on Tucker Carlson said last night, there is no "smoke" there with Sessions, there's absolutely no evidence or compelling reason to assign an independent council to investigate Sessions, the dude simply can't bring himself to give you a straight answer to anything.

That doesn't make him crooked, just a typical Washington politician. Of the sort I thought we were going to get rid of under Trump.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Movie review -- Logan

logan movie poster

Huh, check me out . . . another review of a movie out in current release. Who'd a thunk it?

Through the years of my blogging, I've railed long and loud about the horrible job movie studios have done bringing my favorite comic book title to the big screen. And along with that, the ridiculous, neutered version of Wolverine that has appeared in the various films. With Hugh Jackman looking to end his run as the legendary mutant, screenwriters James Mangold and Scott Frank dipped into an alternative reality storyline known as Old Man Logan featuring an aged Wolverine and took bits of that to make this film.

Fyi -- spoilers in this review

In the establishment sequence of the film's opening, we get our first look and sense of just how worn down Logan is from a lifetime of battles. He awakes in his car to the sound of someone banging around outside. A group of Chicanos are attempting to steal the rims off his vehicle. Logan staggers out of the car, his ankles buckling, he's barely able to support his own weight. The thugs aren't impressed and blast him with a shotgun. It takes a minute, but Logan drags himself off the ground and confronts the thugs. Despite unsheathing his claws, Logan gets the sh*t beat out of him -- he's slow and awkward, no longer the deadly fighting machine he once was. But lying on the ground as the thugs literally try to stomp him to death, his berserker rage finally kicks in.

And when it does, we see why this movie got an R rating. He kills them all and in just exactly the way you might imagine someone with unbreakable razor sharp claws would do the job. It's bloody and gorey and a bit cathartically pleasing to long time fans who have tired of watching the comics most feared fighter get his ass kicked regularly in the previous movies.

We learn that the year is 2029. Mutants are all but wiped off the face of the earth, there hasn't been a new mutant born in years. Logan muses that though Professor X had always taught that mutants were God's gift to humanity, perhaps they were simply God's mistake . . . and maybe now that mistake is being rectified. Also of note is that existing mutants are being killed off as well. The reasons for both of these events is revealed later in the movie, and there is nothing divine about who is doing it or why. It is against this background that we see Logan is now living in the southwest under a fake name and trying to earn a living as a gypsy limo driver. We also learn he's trying to save up enough money to buy a yacht. The reasoning is revealed in a trip south of the border to Mexico..

Logan has Charles Xavier/Professor X, and Caliban holed up in an abandoned industrial facility. Xavier, whose mind is considered a weapon of mass destruction by the government, has degenerative brain disease and suffers seizures that cause devastating effects to a large area around him and require him to be constantly medicated. The yacht is for the three(?) of them to hide out on for the remainder of their lives. Somewhere safe for them and somewhere to keep Charles' dangerous mental/psychic outbursts away from innocent people.

Logan's attempt to live under the radar ends though as a mercenary type with a mechanical hand and annoyingly smug attitude accosts him, looking for a woman he claims has something of his. Soon afterward, this woman, a nurse, finds Logan and begs him to take her and her daughter to North Dakota. Logan refuses initially, but relents once she offers him nearly $50,000 for his services.

But it turns out the "daughter" is in fact Laura Kinney and as Logan soon finds out, she is no ordinary child, but rather part of a government experiment to create mutant killers. Her designation code is X-23. Laura is who the mercenary is tracking, and in short order, he and a large group of heavily armed mercs are after Logan, Professor Xavier and Laura.

The film proceeds along this fairly basic track of Logan and company running and the mercs chasing, with a surprising number of amazingly brutal fight sequences worked into the narrative. While Logan is a shadow of his former self (as is Prof. Xavier), Laura is an astonishingly effective weapon. She goes from zero to full berserker in the blink of an eye, and kills more than her share of bad guys along the way.

The X-23 character is supposed to be around 12 years old in the movie, and tiny Dafne Keen is a wonder in the role. She reminds me a bit of Asa Butterfield in Ender's Game, as she has an incredible ability to put on a menacing glare that is in stark contrast to her youthful appearance otherwise. And with her petite size, the filmmakers were able to use more gymnastic type movements in her fight sequences that are truly breathtaking.

I had wondered previously if this movie version of X-23 would include the foot claw seen in the comic version:

X-23 laura kinney

It does. This allows Laura to fight with both hands and feet, making her a blur of mayhem when she fights.

As mentioned, Logan, Laura and Xavier head for North Dakota. Is where they are going real? Or is it just a happy story the nurse told Laura and the other children in the facility to give them hope of a better, free life somewhere else? And can two worn out old men and a little girl make it to their destination with an army of mercenaries bearing down on them along with another, much more powerful mutant weapon, X-24, in their arsenal?

Along the way, we see some warmth between Logan and Xavier, and some instances that show that underneath the gruff and angry Wolverine exterior is still the guy that wants to help and stand up for those who need a hero. Jackman does a great job of playing Logan as a cranky old man, burdened with the memories of friends lost and enemies killed. And the mystery of what happened to the X-Men -- the comic book series has one answer. But when Logan and Charles talk about events at the mansion another more terrible possibility seems to be suggested.

There's also a bit of meta at work as we see that Laura has a bunch of X-Men comics. Logan points out that the comics are bullsh*t . . . but only partly, saying the writers took events that really happened and made them more fantastic for public consumption. I thought that was a nice touch.

This movie is Jackman's farewell tour of Logan. The finale isn't happy and there are a number of unhappy moments throughout the film as it is obvious that the studio is ending more than a couple of character chapters here and opening some others. If you're looking for a feel good ending, you're not going to get it. But if you're looking for a hard driving coda for a ruthlessly underserved comic-to-movie character, I think you'll like this film.

Be advised, this is an R rated film for good reason. Lots of killing and brutal wounds and mayhem. Also a brief flash of female bosom in the early going. Other than that, no sex or nudity, but enough bad language to more than make up for it.

Did you find this review helpful? Check out my other reviews for my thoughts on the flicks and the occasional gallery of hotness that accompanies them:

fyi, there's no post credits scene in Logan, so don't waste your time sitting around in your seat after the film is over unless you really want to check out the credits. There is, however, a pre-feature scene featuring Deadpool that I won't ruin for you. It's pretty funny, but not the laugh riot I've seen some reviewers claim it is.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My thoughts on President Trump's speech tonight

Okay, first off -- man that's a lot of spending the Prez is talking about here. Where's all the money going to come from? It was Bush 43's profligate spending that birthed the Tea Party. All these bloggers that yak at #NeverTrump'ers are going to have a tough time waving off the trillions in spending Trump is suggesting.

I didn't agree with one bit of former President Obama's policies or philosophies, but you had to admit that the man could give a good speech. Trump . . . eh, no so much. The script writer did the best job he could, but Trump's just not the guy for that sort of long, structured speech. Perhaps in the future, write a speech that leaves spaces for him to riff out or be himself for a bit, then come back to the prepared remarks. That might make him seem more comfortable. Let's face it, he needs to be his own man, that's why he was elected. Why not let him put his own stamp on his speeches. As long as he maintains some decorum, I don't see the problem with that.

I know Republicans sat on their hands a lot during Obama's speeches, but that was a pissy looking group of Dems in the chamber tonight. And the way they bolted for the door at the speech's conclusion, so much for putting aside petty differences and working together.

How about that Joe Manchin? He was beaming like a new dad when Trump talked about saving coal miner's jobs. Wonder how long before he's persona non grata among Dems after glad handing Trump?

Nice counter punch by Trump by having that Seal's wife in the gallery and refuting news claims about the worthlessness of the mission that cost him his life. I was surprised that Trump didn't say something about Dream'ers though. Reports said he was going to talk about legalization and such during the speech and that would take away a Dem talking point. Guess someone got the wrong draft of the speech.

And how about Melania Trump? Wowzers! Designers that are refusing to clothe her are missing the boat big time. She and Ivanka are pretty damn knockout.

It'll be interesting to read about all this tomorrow. I wonder if any of the commentary will seem like it's of the same speech I just watched?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Kurt Busch wins the 2017 Daytona 500

kurt busch wins 2017 daytona 500

Congrats to Kurt Busch for winning the 2017 Daytona 500 today. You can see from the pic above that he really had to fight for the win as the race was filled with crashes that took out a number of high profile drivers.

Great work there NASCAR. More on that in a bit.

This is some sweet redemption for Busch as just a few short years ago, he was basically out of work in the racing world. A hot headed asshole, Busch had several very public spats with television announcers, other drivers and pretty much anyone who happened to be in his sightline when he decided to go off. No one doubted his ability behind the wheel, but his personal problems made him pretty much unemployable within the industry.

Then along came Stewart-Haas Racing. Tony Stewart and Gene Haas decided to form their own team. Initially conceived as a three car team, Tony ended up making the hard decision to let his friend Ryan Newman go to allow his best friend Kevin Harvick to escape the hell hole of Richard Childress Racing and join SHR.

While Stewart was laid up with a broken leg, Gene Haas decided he would use his CNC company to sponsor a fourth team and hired Busch personally to drive the car. Busch has flourished at SHR with old time crew chief Tony Gibson and though he has won races with SHR and made the Chase, this is the biggest win for Busch since winning NASCAR's championship in 2004.

With SHR's move to Ford and Robert Yates engines, all four SHR cars qualified in the top of the field, this victory may signal a good year for the still young company.

And now the rest of the story.

Once again, we have a season beginning with NASCAR tweaking things to try and get the racing more racy. Through their maniacally intense efforts to equalize the field, NASCAR has reduced almost every race to a mobile parking lot. It's almost impossible to pass or draft or do anything to keep the action moving. Announcers mentioned that there were only 20 lead changes in last year's 500. Twenty. In a 500 mile race. Does that sound exciting to you? It doesn't to lots of racing fans and they're walking away in droves. So rather than ease up on their tech inspections, they're effing around with the race formats.

I'm not sure, because I haven't looked deeply into it, but it looks like NASCAR will be dividing all the races into sections and allotting points for the top ten cars at the end of each section. I suppose the thinking is that drivers will be less inclined to hang around the back of the pack for most of the race, then try to track advantage their way to the front as the race draws to the end (I'm looking right at you Jimmie Johnson, the guy who is responsible for the playoff format NASCAR currently uses).

Though I'm loathe to admit it, in today's race the plan worked pretty well as the drivers really scrambled at the end of each segment to get points or block others from getting points. Also the crew chiefs had to work out some very different pit strategies to maximize the yellow flags at the end of each segment. Also, we saw what might be some inklings of the first real manufacturers battle since I was a kid as drivers pitted with teammates or other drivers from the same manufacturer.

That wasn't so bad.

What was bad was the block racing that has become so commonplace and is, in my opinion, why NASCAR is playing games with the rules like this. A monster pack of cars roaring around the track at 200 mph, no one can get away from anyone or pass completely, it is a ticking time bomb. And we lost a ton of cars in today's race from accidents that didn't really need to happen. It's bad management on the part of NASCAR.

And I've said this before and I'll say it again -- NASCAR loves the big wrecks. They market them aggressively. In a month, when the field goes to Talledega, you will hear it incessantly -- "We have to worry about the big one" "It's only a matter of time before the big one hits" "Look out for the big one" and on and on. The announcers, the drivers, everyone will hype "The Big One" like it is an inescapable part of the race. It wouldn't be if NASCAR would stop changing the aero package and the engines and allow the mechanics and engineers to evolve the cars to the extent of their abilities.

NASCAR knows it takes an evil miracle for a driver to be seriously hurt in a crash these days. They should be applauded for the vehicle/driver safety developments over the years. But with them being so safe, NASCAR worries less about big pile ups knowing they have YouTube and TV ready clips to use to market their sport. It's a dangerous game they're playing. They lost Dale Jr. for a year due to a concussion and he got in one of the wrecks today. What if the sport's most popular driver had been knocked out for another season? Or permanently? What if he can't recover and get into the Championship Race because of NASCAR's bloodlust for big crashes?

Viewership is down. That's why the rule changes. They keep diluting the product and making it so gimmicky that folks might start looking at it like professional wrestling, and that could be the end of one of the great American institutions. We'll see how the season goes from here. Hopefully I'll be as wrong about this as I was about the Presidential primaries and general election.