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Jason Biggs to Appear ‘Full Monty’ in American Reunion

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle
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Seann William Scott who plays high school jock bully turned corporate jerk Steve Stifler in the fourth film in the American Pie franchise:

Mom goes, ‘Is that really his penis?’,” he told Jimmy Fallon. “That was so weird for me, firstly to hear her say ‘penis’. I’ve eaten dog poo in a movie, I’ve been peed on, but for some reason this was the weirdest thing, for my mom to see his penis.”

And the teen sex comedy comes full circle. How’s this for Hollywood progress? None of the female stars of the series ever appeared completely naked. Yet now for the fourth film, we have Jason Biggs in complete glory.

Maybe they have to compete with Hangover Part II‘s full-frontal shemales.

When did the MPAA decide to give the green light on virtually limitless nudity in R-rated movies? With what film did they throw up the white flag on male genitalia? My guess: Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno when a penis speaks.

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How Davy Jones Changed the World

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 - by Ed Driscoll

I still find it hard to believe that Davy Jones, the teen idol star of TV’s The Monkees died today at age 66 of a heart attack. Given that Mick Jagger is still going strong, and while Keith Richards appears to have morphed into Treebeard at some point over the last decade, he recently concluded a tour to promote his best-selling autobiography, 66 isn’t that old for today’s geriatric rock stars – particularly if Jones had stuck with the milk diet implied by the Monkees’ first sponsor, Kellogg’s Cereal.

I wouldn’t go as far as Kathy Shaidle’s claim that they were “better than The Beatles,” but certainly the latter group’s prefab imitators had their moments. In their early days, with Don Kirshner leading their sessions, they had the pick of New York’s Brill Building songwriters, such as Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Gerry Goffin. In their second season, after they fired Kirshner, the hits slowed down, but their quirky attempts at psychedelia were some of their most fascinating songs, along with Mike Nesmith’s proto-country rock experiments, which anticipated ‘70s groups like The Eagles by a good five to ten years. (Nesmith’s experiments in music video in the following decade would be dubbed by some as a direct precursor to ‘80s phenomenon MTV.)

You could make a case that 1966 was a seminal year in boomer pop culture. A young person could turn on the TV and flip through the dial to find:

  • Star Trek
  • Mission: Impossible
  • Batman
  • The Green Hornet
  • I Spy
  • The Avengers
  • The Wild, Wild West
  • And of course, The Monkees

Those shows would be the backbone of syndicated rerun packages for the next quarter century, and most would also be developed into at least one motion picture, and for the first three, entire franchises that continue to this day.

The Monkees’ own picture would arrive first, their infamous 1968 movie Head, featuring a co-writing credit to Jack Nicholson, of all people. As Peter Biskind explored in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, his seminal history of the “New Hollywood” of the late ’60s and seventies, Nicholson was on the staff of RayBert, the company formed by Monkees producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson.  Schneider and Rafelson would use their profits from the TV show they co-created to produce a number of seminal early-‘70s films such as Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces. Schneider would also later be at the center at arguably the nadir of the Academy Awards, when he read aloud at the 1975 Awards (along with co-producer Peter Davis) to a standing ovation, a congratulatory telegram from North Vietnam on Davis and Schneider’s anti-Vietnam War documentary, Hearts and Minds, just three weeks before South Vietnam’s final surrender.

If that’s a long way from “Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkees,” I doubt very much that Jones knew he signing on for a show that would be the spearhead in a cultural revolution in Hollywood, but hey, hey, that’s how it all worked out. For a group dismissed as trite bubblegum, for better or worse, that’s some legacy.

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How To Get Organized in 5 Easy Steps

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 - by John Hawkins

Are you struggling to get all of your work done? Are things falling through the cracks? Feel overwhelmed? Like you have so much to do that you can’t possibly finish? Well, there is hope. You can organize your life, and though it does take a little time and effort, it’s not all that hard to do.

1) Set goals and prioritize. This is the first step and it’s where most people fall down. They don’t know what the hell they’re trying to do in the first place.

Want to be the CEO at your company or is it “just a job” paying the bills while you move on another career? Are you looking to sleep with as many women as possible or get married? Is your top priority a new car or six months’ emergency expenses in savings?

Take a moment to think. Ask important questions. Where do you want to be in five years? If you had an infinite amount of money, what would you be doing with your life? How can you do some of those things now without limitless cash? How is your life shaping up in its important dimensions? How’s your health, love life, career, spirituality, revenue flow, and your friends/family? If you rated yourself on all those dimensions 1 – 10, what would your rating be? Now, how can you improve your life on those dimensions? What values do you put the highest and least priority on? Health, love, security, freedom, passion, success, comfort, etc. Once you put these values in order, your decision-making process changes forever.

With  a clear sense of your goals, dreams, values, and priorities, the organizing process becomes an order of magnitude easier.

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You Are 3 Times As Likely To Die if You Take Sleeping Pills

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

The Atlantic reports on a new study:

RESULTS: Those prescribed fewer than 18 doses of sleeping pills a year were more than 3.5 times as likely to die as those in the control group. Moreover, the risk of death of moderate (18 to 132 doses) and heavy users (132+ doses) were four and five times greater than that of non-users, indicating that the risk level rose in tandem with increasing doses. Heavy users were also at higher risk of developing several types of cancer.

CONCLUSION: Sleeping pills are associated with a more than threefold increase in mortality risk, even if seldom used.

The past few years I’ve grown more and more skeptical of our medical culture.

When you “feel bad” in some way you’re supposed to go to the doctor. Usually they just write you a prescription and then like magic the medicine is supposed to make you better.

Instead what seems to happen instead in most cases is the medicine — if you’re lucky — treats the symptoms while perhaps causing a few side effects of its own. Meanwhile deep down you’re still sick — and the doctor may or may not care. Instead he’s content with you just coming in more than you need to so that he can overcharge your insurance company for a bunch of tests you don’t really need but he has to do in order to cover his butt from malpractice lawsuits.

Meanwhile we supposedly have a crisis in healthcare costs. More like we have a crisis in people thinking that other people should be responsible for maintaining their health and well-being.

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“Why caring for my aging father has me wishing he would die.”

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

These are the words of Sandra Tsing Loh author of Mother on Fire, in an article at the Atlantic where she discusses elder issues and caring for her aging father:

Recently, a colleague at my radio station asked me, in the most cursory way, as we were waiting for the coffee to finish brewing, how I was. To my surprise, in a motion as automatic as the reflex of a mussel being poked, my body bent double and I heard myself screaming:

“I WAAAAAAAANT MY FATHERRRRRR TO DIEEEEE!!!”

Startled, and subtly stepping back to put a bit more distance between us, my co-worker asked what I meant.

“What I mean, Rob, is that even if, while howling like a banshee, I tore my 91-year-old father limb from limb with my own hands in the town square, I believe no jury of my peers would convict me. Indeed, if they knew all the facts, I believe any group of sensible, sane individuals would actually roll up their shirtsleeves and pitch in.”

This “devoted” author/author goes on in detail about the psychological dynamics with her father:

Yes, my history with this man has been checkered: in my childhood, he had been cruelly cheap (no Christmas, no heat); in my teens, he had been unforgivably mean to my mother; in my 20s, I rebelled and fled; in my 30s, I softened and we became wry friends—why not, he couldn’t harm me now; in my 40s, sensing that these were the last days of a fading elder, the memories of whom I would reflect on with increasing nostalgia, the door opened for real affection, even a kind of gratitude. After all, I had benefited professionally from using him as fodder for my writing (as he had benefited financially for years by forging my signature so I ended up paying his taxes—ah, the great circle of life).

Given the way that this author writes and feels about her dad, I would say that she gave as good as she got. She calls the article “Daddy Issues” and with good reason, like so many other women her age and older, she probably had issues with men that went far beyond the way that her father actually treated her and had to do just as much with a sense of entitlement and self-indulgence as it did with anything else. The fact that she wrote an article about an affair she had and her subsequent divorce is a tip-off as are her words: “I am a 47-year-old woman whose commitment to monogamy, at the very end, came unglued. This turn of events was a surprise. I don’t generally even enjoy men; …”

It’s too bad that this author feels so little loyalty towards her dad (or husband for that matter), especially now that he is old and sick. She better hope that when she gets older, her own children or family have more compassion and empathy than she seems capable of.

I realize that it is hard at times to care for elderly parents but a more compassionate approach would be welcome. Did you or do you care for aging parents? Do you cope in a more mature way?

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Product Review: Logitech’s Harmony 900 Universal Remote

Monday, February 27th, 2012 - by Ed Driscoll

While building a home theater stocked with a variety of electronic components is lots of fun, unfortunately, going the do-it-yourself route often ends with, well, not quite the proverbial Tower of Babel but perhaps worse from your significant other’s point of view – the dreaded Coffee Table of Babel. Those remote controls for the TV, A/V receiver, DVD or Blu-Ray player, cable or satellite set-top box, and other electronic equipment all begin to pile up, making for an ugly mess, and making the home theater appear more complex to operate than it otherwise is.

Back in 2004, Logitech acquired Easy Zapper, a Canadian startup specializing in universal remote controls, giving a firm best known for computer accessories such as replacement keyboards and mice a foothold in the home theater industry.

Under their Harmony division’s moniker, Logitech now produces a full range of remotes in a variety of retail price-points from $29 to $349. While their most advanced remote is arguably the tablet-shaped Harmony 1100, after reading a variety of reviews, I decided to avoid the tablet shape and go with the model directly below it, Logitech’s Harmony 900, which as of the time of this review, sells for $240.99 at Amazon.com.

This is a remote geared towards someone who knows his way around both his home theater and to some extent his PC as well, and who’s prepared to tinker a bit to set up the remote. In other words, expect a bit of set-up time, but once complete, it does make for a rather powerful remote.

Programming the Remote

After installing the supplied software on your PC, the first step is to gather all of your existing remotes, and to write down the brand and model numbers of all of your home theater components. Logitech maintains a database of approximately 5,000 brands and 225,000 devices, which the Harmony 900’s PC interface will search in order to set-up your remote. If you have a component that’s not on there, don’t fret – as long as you have its remote, you should be able to manually program its codes into the Harmony 900 while it’s plugged into your computer via its supplied USB cable.

It’s also possible to tweak the remote to add functions not included in the database. For example, since I do just about all of my TV watching with my A/V receiver on for surround sound, I ended up programming the A/V receiver’s volume and mute controls into the various devices controlled by the remote. Depending upon the amount of equipment you own, and the level of control you’re aiming for, early on you may have to do a fair amount of tweaking to customize the remote to your preferences.

While the Harmony 900 allows control over individual components, its first emphasis is on what it calls (on the remote’s GUI) “Activities.” These typically include watching TV, watching a movie, playing a CD, etc. The Harmony 900 will group together tasks so that pressing one button on the remote will automatically do things such as:

  1. Turn on your A/V receiver.
  2. Switch it to the TV input.
  3. Turn on your TV.
  4. Make sure it’s switched whichever input the satellite TV is on.
  5. Turn on the satellite TV digital set-top box.

And so on. A similar activity can be programmed watching a movie, which switch everything on to watch a DVD. For those with a few pieces of home theater gear that need to work together in harmony (if you’ll pardon the pun), this is a pretty convenient way to begin a few hours of television watching.

The Harmony 900 also supports individual components of course, which it calls “Devices.” The remote’s GUI can be toggled back and forth between devices and activities.

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6 Varieties of the Agnostic Experience

Monday, February 27th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

The Huffington Post reported last week that New Atheist firebrand Richard Dawkins conceded that God might exist:

In a 100-minute debate with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins surprised his online and theater audiences by conceding a personal chink of doubt about his conviction that there is no such thing as a creator.

But, to the amusement of the archbishop and others, the evolutionary biologist swiftly added that he was “6.9 out of seven” certain of his long-standing atheist beliefs.

Replying to moderator Anthony Kenny, a noted English philosopher, Dawkins said, “I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing (is) very, very low.”

So we can call Dawkins an “agnostic-atheist” now. Among the varieties of the agnostic experience this one’s the worst — the opposite of my agnostic theism:

1. Agnostic-Atheist-Materialist-Scientist: “God probably doesn’t exist but I won’t say so absolutely because that would reveal that I’m as dogmatic as the Jesus Freaks I live to mock and that I’m using science as a rhetorical device to dupe people into respecting my materialist theology.”

Agnostic-atheism’s logical conclusion? Nihilism. If there’s no God and no afterlife and if eventually all evidence of humanity’s existence disappears when the sun transforms into a red giant engulfing the first four planets of the solar system… then nothing matters. You can lie, defraud, abuse, and intimidate whomever you want — we’re all just space dust anyway. That’s where we came from billions of years ago and that’s where we’re all going to end up again. So I can be an evil person.

For the Agnostic-Atheist no power exists greater than his own intellect. Morality and ethics are well and good for the common, stupid man but meaningless in the long run. He’s more advanced than every believer throughout history. Thus, the agnostic-atheist has no check on his own innate arrogance. He is God.

The next degree of agnostic-atheism improves somewhat but still generates more smoke than light.

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Only Monday & We Have A Headline Of The Week Winner

Monday, February 27th, 2012 - by Stephen Kruiser

I’d go to church just to reduce the probability of spending eternity in Hell with Richard Dawkins

A hallmark of modern atheists is that so many of them seem to be rather, well, evangelical about their disbelief. Dawkins has made a career out of fervently preaching the non-word. Perhaps mellowing with age, he now admits to being agnostic rather than atheist (a label he had no problem with for decades).

Although Dawkins said that the chance of God existing wasn’t a great one, Dr. Stanley decided even that number was a bit high if the risk was any afterlife time with him.

Consider the calculations that a man makes when insuring his house from fire. If the chances of his houses catching fire are just one-in-a-hundred, he might forgo purchasing insurance because he gambles that he’s unlikely to ever need it. Yet all of us would still make the purchase because the consequences of that one-in-a-hundred accident happening are so unbearably dire. A single, improbable spark could destroy everything. Therefore, the man buys the insurance.
If Dawkins is playing the law of averages, then he has to make the same calculation about God. To be sure, he only acknowledges a 1.5 percent chance that the Almighty exists. If his gamble is proven right, then Dawkins will die and suffer no consequences. But if that 1.5 percent chance comes through, the consequences are hugely disproportionate to the stakes. One of the reasons why I go to Church is that I don’t want to run the risk of spending eternity in Hell with Richard Dawkins. Even a 1.5 percent risk isn’t worth running. I’d rather go to Heaven with the androids.

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From PJTV: Vodkapundit’s Week In Blogs

Saturday, February 25th, 2012 - by PJ Lifestyle

Five minutes; five ounces. Coincidence? We think not:

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Here are the links to the items that Steve referenced in his video:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/david-cross-cocaine-white-house-293785

http://www.bob-owens.com/2012/02/confirmed-gen-y-dumb-as-a-box-of-hammers/

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2012/02/price-shock-watch-cost-of-gas-jump-10-cents-during-abcs-world-news-broadcast/

http://www.hannity.com/videos/?uri=channels/400391/1600506

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/02/who-killed-the-jobs.php

http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/santorum-super-pac-backer-back-in-my-days-they

http://yidwithlid.blogspot.com/2012/02/three-cheers-for-msnbc-buchanan-is.html

http://thehill.com/video/house/211215-dem-congresswoman-says-ive-never-met-a-man-that-had-the-need-for-birth-control-

http://patdollard.com/2012/02/police-taze-300-pound-naked-shopper-at-walmart/

http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/19/3438919/claire-mccaskill-digging-in-to.html

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Friday DIY: Drunken Popsicles

Friday, February 24th, 2012 - by Charlie Martin

Duct tape can do anything.

1. Start with an unfrozen popsicle—which is basically a packet of sugar water.
2. Use the syringe to make a hole a the top of the pop and pull out some of the fluid.
3. Use the syringe to inject vodka into the pop.
4. Cover the hole with a bit of duct tape, and shake vigorously (or you’ll end up with a frozen end and a liquid end)
5. Toss into the freezer and leave it overnight.

Presto! Alcoholic popsicles, ready to eat. You just cut the top off and squeeze ‘em right into your mouth. They are surprisingly delicious. Now let’s talk ratios.

From Gizmodo.

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Why Martin Scorsese’s Hugo Should Win Best Picture

Friday, February 24th, 2012 - by Jonathan Sanders
Hugo

When was the last time you looked at a movie with pure wonder?

Heading into Sunday’s Oscar telecast, one category considered a lock is Best Picture. Seven pictures might compete but only one (The Artist) continues to generate serious buzz. That’s a real shame, because the best film I saw this year, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, received a nomination but seems unlikely to score anything beyond technical awards. And while mainstream audiences will find Hugo more accessible than The Artist, they have yet to realize it.

Perhaps we can forgive Academy voters for feeling there’s no reason to pay much attention to Hugo – aside from the double-fistful of nominations the film received. They’ve already handed Scorsese his lifetime achievement award via the Best Director honor he won for The Departed. So any recognition for Hugo comes as mere gravy for a director already lauded as a master. This thinking, however, refuses to judge Hugo on its own merits.

Based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick and set in Paris in 1931, Hugo starts with tragedy: the title character (Asa Butterfield) orphaned when his master clockmaker father dies in a museum fire.

This leaves Hugo to live within the walls and secret passages of the railway station Gare Montparnasse, setting the many clocks and stealing what parts he can to finish building an automaton he and his father began restoring.

Hugo begins as a Dickensian orphan but later emerges as a talented mechanical genius who shares his father’s love for the machines they build together. George Méliès (Ben Kingsley) starts out as a potential villain for Hugo, but develops into a man who lives his life hiding his past as a filmmaker. Hugo discovers a love of film and imparts it to Méliès’ granddaughter Isabelle; the two then show her father how much of an impact his early creations had.

In the relationship between Hugo and Méliès the film shines brighter than any of the others I’ve seen this year. Méliès first sees Hugo as nothing more than a thief, but by the time the credits roll the two develop a deep bond.

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Oscar’s Only Human: The 10 Biggest Academy Awards Blunders

Friday, February 24th, 2012 - by Chris Queen
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Jack Haley, Jr. hit upon a brilliant idea. The producer of the 1979 Oscars telecast devised a special medley of hit songs the Academy never nominated. Steve Lawrence and Sammy Davis, Jr. would perform it at the ceremony. The Academy’s Music Branch protested, but when Haley and host Johnny Carson threatened to walk they relented.

A smash hit, the audience applauded “Oscar’s Only Human” throughout and treated the performers to a prolonged ovation.

****

Oscar is only human, and he’s made some terrible mistakes over the years. From controversial wins to unfortunate slights to sins of showmanship, the Academy Awards have failed time and time again.

In honor of this Sunday’s broadcast, here are my personal picks for Oscar’s ten most egregious screw-ups:

10. Makin’ Whoopi… Into An Oscar Winner

In 1985 Whoopi Goldberg made a big splash. She earned a Grammy for her first comedy album as well as a Golden Globe and an Oscar nod for her film debut in The Color Purple. Five years later, her movie career had faltered, thanks to a series of flops.

But then came the perfect storm that was Ghost. With the makings of the quintessential chick flick — sexy stars in Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore and a supernatural romantic subplot —  Goldberg appears for comic relief as the medium used to communicate beyond the grave.

While a surprise box-office smash,critics didn’t take kindly to Ghost. Julie Salomon of the Wall Street Journal said the film wasn’t “awful enough to be a great trash movie, but it often comes close.” Yet when the Academy Award nominations came out, Ghost scored five, including one for Best Picture.

The big story at the Oscars that year was Kevin Costner’s revisionist Western Dances With Wolves, but Goldberg managed to walk home with the Best Supporting Actress trophy. Considering her competition that year — Lorraine Bracco, Annette Bening, Mary McDonnell, and Diane Ladd, all from dramatic films — it’s curious that Goldberg won for such a comic role.

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“Intelligence minus judgment equals intellect.”

Friday, February 24th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I am reading Thomas Sowell’s new updated and expanded book Intellectuals and Society that includes new chapters on intellectuals and race, and other revisions that make the updated book extremely easy to read and understand. His first chapter on “Intellect and Intellectuals” got me thinking about how we define intellectuals in our society.

Sowell points out that intellect is not wisdom; there can be “unwise intellect:”

Brilliance–even genius–is no guarantee that consequential factors have not been left out or misconceived.   Intelligence minus judgment equals intellect. Wisdom is the rarest quality of all–the ability to combine intellect,  knowledge, experience, and judgment in a way to produce a coherent understanding…Wisdom requires self-discipline and an understanding of the realities of the world, including the limitations of one’s own experience and of reason itself. The opposite of high intellect is dullness or slowness, but the opposite of wisdom is foolishness, which is far more dangerous.

One of the interesting things that Sowell discusses is the tendency for intellectuals to think that because they are brilliant in one area, that they are brilliant in all areas. They make asinine predictions–think global warming etc.–and are ultimately unaccountable to the external world should their ideas be found to be wrong.

If an engineer or surgeon made a similar mistake, there would be hell to pay. For today’s intellectuals, there is a shrug of the shoulders and they continue without repercussions in their ivory towers while being awarded grants and honors. Without consequences, it’s no wonder they rarely think about what they say, or the effect it has on the public.

However, the public has started to discount what they say and with the internet and other technology, has started to understand that without judgment and wisdom, the intellectuals are often not so smart after all. Of course, they are called rubes for their understanding, but the more I hear that word, the more I realize that the masses are waking up to the stupidity of those who mistakenly think of themselves as wise.

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I Am A Navy SEAL

Friday, February 24th, 2012 - by Phyllis Chesler

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I parachuted out of a plane onto the back of a submarine. Then we silently submerged into the sea. I waded under water loaded down with gear in order to “extract” a “package”:  a female CIA agent captured and undergoing torture. I trained in California and Virginia and put my skills to use in South America, the Philippines, Somalia, Chechnya, and the border between Mexico and the United States.

Was I dreaming or was I watching a new kind of action movie that made me feel as if I was actually ”embedded” with Navy SEALs, those valiant and elite commando warriors? It was no dream. I sat fully awake, riveted to my seat for 101 thrilling minutes watching a preview of the new movie Act of Valor.

Yes, Navy SEAL heroes ”got” Osama bin Laden in his posh Pakistani abode. These warriors undertake the most dangerous missions to defend America from enemy combatants and non-state terrorists. And yet, even I, a non-athletic civilian of a certain age, felt as if I were almost ”in their boots and on the ground.”

And so will you.

Psychologically, the movie is in 3-D. It may even constitute a new genre — the scripted reality show in which the real warriors play themselves but in a fictionalized version of what they do. The (unnamed or falsely named ) eight SEALs are the “actors” but they are not exactly acting. With the Navy’s full approval, we see how the SEALs operate, relate and talk to each other — and to their families; we watch them interrogate a suspected terrorist-related smuggler. The  SEALs advised the producer-directors, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh, and the scriptwriter, Kurt Johnstad, as to how their team would actually strategize a given mission — and they then proceeded to do so on camera. 

Remember Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 anti-Vietnam war film Apocalypse Now with the helicopter gunships moving into Vietnam accompanied by Wagner’s massive music for the Ride of The Valkyries, those fabulously fierce female Amazon divinity-warriors on  flying horses? Da-da-da-DA-dum, da-da-da-DA-dum.   

That extraordinary scene now pales in comparison to many of the sequences in Act of Valor – definitely not an anti-war or anti-American film. On the contrary, it emphasizes America’s need for special combat forces to defeat the global Islamist terrorist threats we face both here and abroad. It is a film which valorizes without glamorizing our commandos .

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Wanderlust: The Rise of the Counter-Countercultural Comedy

Friday, February 24th, 2012 - by John Boot

You don’t generally go to bawdy R-rated comedies stuffed with drug abuse, profanity and nudity for political messages, especially conservative ones. So when such a movie comes along and it unashamedly makes the case for monogamy, stability and private property over collectivist ideals, you should pay attention.

The movie is a Jennifer Aniston-Paul Rudd comedy produced by Judd Apatow called Wanderlust. The pair play a married couple who try to find fulfilling work in Manhattan but can’t afford it. (She is a classic artsy but barely employed type who is working on a documentary about penguins with testicular cancer.) George (Rudd) loses his finance job, so he swallows hard and accepts an offer to stay with his well-off but obnoxious brother (Ken Marino) in Atlanta. George and Linda (Aniston) pile their possessions into their tiny car and head South. Along the way, they pull over at what they think is going to be a bed and breakfast, but the establishment turns out to be a hippie free-love commune full of wacky characters such as a bald and chubby little man whose salient characteristics are that he is writing a novel that seems destined never to be finished, he’s always carrying a glass of red wine and he’s always naked.

Having stayed the night at this strange but friendly place, they move on to George’s brother Rick’s house, where things quickly turn unbearable. It turns out Rick’s fortune is in portable toilets, and his personality is as cuddly as his job. He keeps making bad dirty jokes, calling his brother a loser who doesn’t understand the importance of hard work and making his wife (Michaela Watkins) so bored and alienated that she drinks margaritas all day.  Lost for a place to go, George and Linda decide that they at least feel loved at the commune. They move in with the hippies and try to fit in with the ethos of the place, which is led by a furry but charismatic dude named Seth (Justin Theroux) and was co-founded by a crusty old survivor (Alan Alda) of the Flower Power generation.

The expected clash of yuppies and hippies leads to some hilarious moments (as well as some jokes that are repeated too often), but it’s the way the movie allows disillusionment to settle in on George and Linda that gives it meaning. The commune renounces meat eating, capitalism, materialism and individualism while celebrating love, egalitarianism, honesty, openness and drug “experiments.” Each of the latter ideas is gradually shown to be unworkable and flawed as the advantages of the former come to light. For instance, a scene in which the Theroux character commands everyone to sit in a circle and be absolutely forthright with each other leads to bad blood between George and Linda. The compound has no doors, which yields a scene in which George tries to use a toilet and is bewildered to find other residents gathering around him to chat. Drugs are held to be a wonderful way to explore one’s inner self — until Linda climbs into a tree while high on hallucinogens and nearly dies because she thinks she can fly.

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Country Alternatives: 10 Reasons To Change Your Mind About Hating Twang

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 - by Jonathan Sanders
Country Alternatives

No need to fear -- there's more to country than what radio would have you believe.

It’s safe to say country music gets a bad rap. Sure, having grown up in the heartland, there’s the safe argument that this critic is more than a bit biased, but hear me out: there’s a lot more to country music than you’ll ever hear on your local Clear Channel station. And when it comes to contemporary music with its lyrical finger on the pulse of life in America as we see it in 2012, there’s little out there which can rival the honesty of a good country song. You just have to dig for something a little more “alternative” to the mainstream drivel. There’s not a Taylor Swift to be found on this list – rather, the emphasis is on variety, which is both the spice of life and the ultimate ingredient in the best music you’ve spent way too long being afraid to enjoy.

#10 – Middle Brother

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With lead vocals drawing heavily on early Neil Young, this alternative country super-group features members of Deer Tick, Dawes and Delta Spirit. The combination of three top-notch singer songwriters into one group makes for the ultimate headphone fix, and their self-titled debut out last year is one of those keepers you find yourself pulling out time and again when you need country-tinged rock with real soul and grit.

You can’t go wrong with either of their initial bands either, but throw these three together and the result is hard to ignore.

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Is Sleeping 8 Consecutive Hours at Night Unnatural?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 - by Helen Smith

Apparently, we don’t need 8 consecutive hours of sleep a night and lying awake at night might even be good for you acccording to this article in BBC News Magazine:

In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.

It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep….

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria…

So the next time you wake up in the middle of the night, think of your pre-industrial ancestors and relax. Lying awake could be good for you.

I suppose this is good news for those who think waking up at night is a problem.

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Interview with Pop Singer Ava Aston

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 - by Jamie Glazov

Pop/rock recording artist Ava Aston is a conservative trying to make her way in a liberal dominated industry. Her new hit and conservative anthem is We The People. Her song I Carry You With Me deals with grief and loss and is dedicated to the military.

She has performed those two songs, as well as the National Anthem and God Bless America for The Faith & Freedom Coalition events as well as The Tea Party Patriots. I Carry You With Me has been featured in several independent films and took grand prize in a songwriting contest that had over 5,000 entries from across the globe. Her husband is a disabled veteran who was injured on base while serving in a support role for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her mom works as a National Service Officer at the Purple Heart Service Foundation that helps veterans.

The following interview with Ms. Aston was conducted by Jamie Glazov, Editor of FrontPage Magazine.

Glazov: Ava Aston, thanks for taking the time for this interview.

Let’s begin by talking about your background a bit. Tell us about how you got into music and also what makes you a conservative.

Aston: Thanks Jamie.

I started singing about the same time I started to talk. Music has always been a huge part of my life. I was kind of like a little Tina Turner in the movie, singing with the hairbrush in the mirror. As I grew up I started to hear melodies in my head. I did not play an instrument, so I started writing them down the only way I knew how, putting words in notebooks. As the songs came I discovered that as long as I wrote them down on paper they were there forever. I could pick them up at any time and sing them. So I have always just sung my songs to whomever I’m collaborating with – and they play the chords I’m singing either on a guitar or piano. I started taking voice lessons at an early age, and have been told that I have perfect pitch, so it’s easy for me to direct producers/musicians to the melody. I’ve been working on my craft ever since, and working at attaining my dream.

As for being a conservative, it is just how I was raised. My dad came to America from Greece with $20 in his pocket to live the American Dream. He worked hard and became a success. My mom came from a family that worked very hard, and she started working at 11-years-old cleaning houses to help out with the family. It is just something you are either ingrained with or not. Lately we seem to be living in the “Now Generation”. People want things NOW regardless of the consequences to themselves or others. I don’t really “get” a lot of what’s pushed on people as “entertainment”. I see it as nonsense that only encourages the “NOW” epidemic. I’m just a simple girl, I like to sing, write songs, act, love God and my country.  I’m not really sure when it became cool to go on stage in your underpants. I know that being shocking sells, but as a conservative I feel you can be relevant, current, and still keep your clothes on, just saying.

Glazov: Share with us what We The People is about and what inspired you to write it.

Aston:  Basically it came from a simple place.  I saw the country I knew and loved being changed in a way that frightened me. Most of my songs are usually about something I feel or that has happened to me.  I was tired of yelling at my TV screen – so I wrote about it.

My song is for every American, it not about left or right, it is about right and wrong.  It is about that sacred document — the one thing that was meant to guide our country for all time, the Constitution. People have given their lives for the freedoms we have here. There are many people who do not realize the cost of what we have here in America. People get tangled up in rhetoric, fighting and being afraid to say things in order to be PC. If we are afraid to speak up about what really matters, we will lose our Republic. There are individuals who have a very different idea about America and want to fundamentally change it.  If we do not stand up now and stop it now, America will be lost and we might as well be part of the EU.  Trust me, my dad lives there and it’s not pretty.

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Appeasement, Hollywood-Style?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 - by Jehuda

BREAKING: Sacha Baron Cohen Banned From Oscars 2012:

The Dictator is a spoof about the “heroic story of a Middle Eastern dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy never comes to the country he so lovingly oppressed”. Whether the fact that the 84th Academy Awards will be beamed into 200 countries had anything to do with this ban is unclear. But an Oscars spokesperson acknowledged to Deadline yesterday: ”We would hope that every studio knows that this is a bad idea. The Red Carpet is not about stunting.” Oh really? then why did Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park crossdress down the Red Carpet as J-Lo and Gwyneth Paltrow in evening gowns in 2000? Or Ben Stiller appear as an Oscar presenter in full blue Avatar makeup and hair in 2010?

It’s about the right stunting.  Everybody knows the only political leaders you can mock at the Oscars have to be Republican.  And I bet you a trip to Los Angeles that the show’s script on Sunday will include at least one jab at the GOP primary contenders…or at least one mocking reference to tonight’s GOP debate…or both!

UPDATE: Academy denies.

LATEST (Feb. 23, 2012 at 5:26 PM MST): The matter is far from resolved, but it’s starting to be fun.

MORE: (Feb. 24, 2012 at 10:21am MST): General Alladeen addresses the Academy: “I Applaud The Academy For Taking Away My Free Speech”.

(Cross-posted at The Rhetorican)

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Developing The Habit for a Burger Superior to Steak N Shake

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

As a Hoosier who frequented Steak N Shake regularly throughout his adolescence and college years I must salute Stephen Green for his lovely tribute to the restaurant.

And a confession: since relocating to the Golden State almost two years ago, one burger has risen to conquer all others. The Habit’s charburger achieves a heavenly balance of taste and texture with its crisp toppings, melts-in-your-mouth tenderness, and backyard grill flavor.

Does a superior burger exist?

And no one say In-N-Out! The Habit is obviously better!

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God Bless America? Remembering 1993′s Falling Down

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 - by Kathy Shaidle

Foster: I’m the bad guy?

Prendergast: Yeah.

Foster: How did that happen?  I did everything they told me to. Did you know I build missiles? I help to protect America. You should be rewarded for that. Instead, they give it to the plastic surgeon. They lied to me.

Falling Down (1993, screenplay by Ebbe Roe Smith)

***

The red band trailer of Bobcat Goldthwait’s next movie, God Bless America, is now making its way across the net, as the film itself tools around the festival circuit on its way to a May 11 wide-opening.

Judging solely by its trailer, God Bless America looks like a mutation of Kick-Ass, Heathers, Taxi Driver, Paper Moon, Serial Mom and The End (1978).

Diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, the film’s pathetic protagonist (played by Joel Murray) embarks on a killing spree. He and his teenaged sidekick (Tara Lynne Barr) knock off individuals they’ve deemed deserving of death: a bratty reality TV star, talent show contestants, moviegoers who won’t turn off their cell phones, a bunch of Fred Phelps’ followers:

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Based on the trailer alone, I’m not impressed – unlike the folks at certain pop culture sites. (The writer at ScreenJunkies enthused, “The trailer for God Bless America looks like my dream journal!”)

The movie looks awfully derivative (see “mutation” above). Look: I’m 47 years old, I’ve already seen a lot of movies and I can’t undo that. Most new films are either remakes and franchise sequels surfing on stunt-casting fumes, CGI and catchy soundtracks, or Tarantinoesque “homages” to far superior movies I saw when I was 17.

I’m not averse to filmmakers making cinematic references; the movie I’m about to discuss “quotes” Fellini’s 8 ½ in its opening sequence. But quotes are a long way from plagiarism and lazy, sterile regurgitation.

Because every movie today seems to be simply a collection of winking “homages” to other ones, expect to hear God Bless America compared to Falling Down (1993). A lot. I remember when that Joel Schumacher movie was condemned as a sign of the end times, and for better or worse, most of us are still alive. God Bless America will no doubt be condemned too, for its “glorification” of violence (and, I suspect, the weird friendship between a middle-aged man and an adolescent girl).

However, God Bless America’s apparent differences from its revenge-fantasy predecessor demonstrate the distance Hollywood (and society) has traveled in the last 20 years. Not necessarily in the right direction, of course.

“Filmed during the L.A. riots and released on the same day as the World Trade Center bombing and two days before the siege at the Branch Davidian compound (which ended badly), [Falling Down] could be said to be a record of fear and loathing extant in the real world of early ’90s America.”

– Bee Tee Dee, Unwinnable.com

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Is John Carter Going to Be a $250 Million Flop?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

That’s the narrative The Daily Beast pushes today in an article by Chris Lee.

Why the impending doom for the over-budget “vanity project” dogged by a perfectionist director’s reshoots?

Some executives claim the trailers are too confusing:

The sci-fi thriller lands in theaters March 9, and if you’ve seen the billboards or commercials, you’d be forgiven for wondering what it’s about. A hunk in a leather chest harness (Taylor Kitsch of the late, beloved, but little-viewed sports drama Friday Night Lights), identified as “John Carter of Earth,” battles aliens in a coliseum, faces down a stampede of four-armed beasties, and seduces a princess who resembles a va-va-voom version of Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin. Is this Avatar meets Clash of the TitansGladiator meets Cowboys and Aliens? A 22-second “teaser” trailer that aired during the Super Bowl didn’t make things any clearer. “You know it’s gotta be bad when they start breaking up the scenes and doing something conceptual for a Super Bowl spot,” observed a ranking executive at a rival studio. “It’s like, ‘Guys, this is your Hail Mary?’”

Others regard the title change from John Carter of Mars to just John Carter as a fatal move:

Although the character has been known as “John Carter of Mars” and was envisioned as a movie trilogy under that name, Disney marketers dropped the “of Mars” part because of industry-think holding that female movie fans are more likely to be turned off by such overtly sci-fi elements. And after the big-budget failure of last year’s Cowboys & Aliens seemingly confirmed that modern audiences are uninterested in Westerns—or, by extension, vintage Americana—Carter’s Civil War connection has been all but excised from the marketing.

“You take out ‘of Mars,’ you don’t tell where he came from? That’s what makes it unique!” a former Disney executive said. “They choose to ignore that, and the whole campaign ends up meaning nothing. It’s boiled down to something no one wants to see.”

But I’m not worried yet. The unnamed ex-Disney execs and other studio bigwigs got this wrong: “The geek generation isn’t responding. It’s too weird for the family audience. Then it has the Disney brand and PG-13? I’m not sure who it’s for.”

Geek enthusiasm for the film seems high enough with the to-be-expected level of naysayers. Am I wrong?

Previously on John Carter here at PJ Lifestyle:

 John Carter’s Long Road from the Civil War to the Silver Screen

Today’s Two New John Carter Clips Look Very Cool

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Video of Drunken Jerk Pepper-Sprayed At DisneyLand

Monday, February 20th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

Warning, the video includes profanity:

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Here’s the report from ABC:


The Disney security in the video needed medical attention:

“Our security cast member was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for the injuries he sustained and then released. We appreciate the actions of the guests who came to his aid during this uncharacteristic incident,” said Suzi Brown, a spokeswoman for Disney.

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Steak ‘n Shake: It’s a Meal

Monday, February 20th, 2012 - by Stephen Green

It’s President’s Day, so let’s celebrate by talking about something a little less vital than presidential politics, but no less dear to my heart: Steak ‘n Shake.

If you grew up most anywhere in the Midwest or the South in the last sixty years or so, you probably know about Steak ‘n Shake. Growing up in St Louis, the Brentwood Blvd location — it seems to be gone now — was the high-school hangout spot. Good food, reasonable prices, and a staff with saintly patience enough to deal with wall-to-wall hungry, horny teenagers.

Steak ‘n’ Shake exists on a simple concept: a diner that makes “steakburgers” and milkshakes — and a pretty decent cup of chili. The kitchen is open for the world to see. The interior is all black and white tile and gleaming chrome. In fact, the concept is so simple it led to the two simplest (and maybe worst) slogans in restaurant history. “In sight, it must be right,” and “It’s a meal.”

I’m not sure you could possibly say less about a restaurant’s food than, “it’s a meal.” But, man, what a meal.

A triple steakburger with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mustard, with large fries, a cup of chili, and a chocolate shake was nothing less than a way of life for my first 20 years.

But in 1989, I moved to California. From there, to Colorado. It’s been almost a quarter century since I’ve had reliable access to Steak ‘n Shake. Whenever I’d drive back to St. Louis, I’d always stop in KC — even if the tank was full — to grab a steakburger. Visiting North Carolina a couple years ago, I had lunch, then dinner that same night, at one of the restaurants in Charlotte. My order was the same both meals: A triple steakburger with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mustard, with large fries, a cup of chili, and a chocolate shake.

We have a Five Guys. We have an In’n'Out. Both are good. But neither really compare. I’m not fat only because I have an overeager thyroid and no local Steak ‘n Shakes.

Only… that just changed, and I don’t mean my thyroid.

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