Thursday, January 01, 2004

the evil eye, the bowling ball, and the great big spider

Eowyn.jpgWe celebrated the end, at long last, of 2003 by finally going to see LOTR: Return of the King. And I gotta say this--it was great. My favorite character was Eowyn, a warrior woman who actually does something besides look all wistful and pretty (like Liv Tyler's elf). She should've gotten the guy--doesn't seem fair somehow that she didn't. (I don't remember if I had an issue with this when I read the book as it's been so long since I read it, I don't even know if she was actually featured this prominently. Like, it was thirty years ago that I read it, jeez.)

There were some things that didn't quite work, like Orlando Bloom's acrobatics on that elephant thing. And I grew deadly tired of Elijah's (Frodo's) tortured expression. I think his earnest big blue bug eyes will give me nightmares. But I liked just about everything else except the length of time it took to complete things like saving what's-his-name from being burned by his daddy, and the fight with that spider (that really gave me the creeps, especially since I was bitten by a spider a couple of weeks ago, which hurt like hell), and the ending, which lasted, oh, about 45 minutes.

The Orcs and the other creatures in the bad army were extremely interesting. But the beginning of this movie (ROTK, I mean) was pretty confusing--I didn't know what the hell was going on, or where they were or what. A year is too long for me to remember the last scene of a movie (the second one, I mean, whatever that one was called)--I needed a review (though I suspect Stanley did not). I guess I should take more gingko.

The costumes were stunning. Of course, I am partial to Celtic imagery and symbols, so I really liked the clothing and banners. But I especially like the helmets of the good guys. And the swords were very pretty.

I wonder if anyone else thought there were some subplots that could've been dispensed with. I mean, the whole Steward of Gondor thing and the above-mentioned roasting of Son #2. Didn't add anything and it sure didn't explain anything. Or if it did, I missed it. And why did Liv Tyler have to prod Agent Smith into giving Viggio that elf sword, anyway? Would he have let them all perish? And what became of Eowyn? Did she settle for the mad steward's son instead of Viggio? And why did the orb thing have to look like a bowling ball--that kinda wrecked that whole thing for me. I expected to see three holes in it as it rolled across the floor.

It was worth the time to see this movie (nearly 3.5 hours!) And since we saw it at a matine, it worked out to be about less than $2.00 per hour each to be hugely entertained. I'm just very glad I stopped drinking coffee early enough for it not to have been a problem that it was sooo looong. So, before you go, be warned: review at least the ending of Part II so you know what the hell is going on at the beginning, and don't drink anything that will make you need to pee because there really is no good time to take a break.
posted by lee on 01/01/04 at 02:38 AM

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Sunday, December 28, 2003

New Design got a facelift. We rebuilt the site to transform it from a Blogger content management system to a Movable Type site. Miggs Burroughs created a new masthead for the site, and we built and designed the rest of it. is an online newspaper by Gordon Joseloff.

This launch is the first phase, but hopefully the most challenging phase since there were a lot of wrinkles and bugs to be worked out--and still worked out--since we did not want to lose all of the stories posted on the Blogger platform. It always amazes me how many things can go wrong in changing platforms. In this case, there was a maddening bug that caused the browser to crash intermittantly (naturally) when clicking on the "home" link. Turned out it was a bit of javascript found only on the home page that needed to be flavored for xhtml. Now that's done, it appears to be working wonderfully. We still have a few things left on our phase one to-do list, and then we start on phase two, which is making it more robust and expanding the number of sections. It's been extremely interesting so far, despite the maddening aspects.
posted by lee on 12/28/03 at 12:38 AM

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Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas to all

We made it to Natick, MA with no hassle--we left around 7 and despite the rain, there were no accidents to mar the trip. (We saw a bad fender-bender earlier today that's going to ruin at least four Christmases. Sad.) We finished everything we needed to do as far as getting ready, gave the dog a bath (so now she smells like tea tree and jasmine!), Stanley wrapped the last of the presents, packed the car up, and off we went. We started listening to "Skipping Christmas" by John Grisham and it's pretty funny so far.

Christmas will be low key: we'll open presents, cook a great dinner, play Scrabble or Upwords or Triominoes, talk, argue politics, eat, mellow out. Other than getting dragged out of bed at what we consider the crack of dawn by a nephew excited to be opening presents since he suspects he'll get at least one thing he asked for (like PS2), it is shaping up to be a very nice day.

Friday, Boxing Day?, we'll take the kids to the mall to cash in those gift cards and then we're invited to a Hannukah dinner, and at some point may try to get to see LOTR3. We were planning to do that Wednesday, but just didn't make it. And there is some work we need to get finished.

Don't know yet what's on our schedule for Saturday. I just want to go with the flow. I might involve finding a puppy, but I don't know for sure yet.

Adam called Wednesday afternoon to wish us happy holidays, which was really nice. I like talking with him about stuff and don't get the chance to very often.

The only really strange thing is that it's in the mid 50s outside right now, in the middle of a winter night. And it's supposed to get even warmer. Not exactly your typical New England Christmas weather, that's for sure!
posted by lee on 12/25/03 at 07:01 AM

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Sunday, December 21, 2003

Hartford Courant interview with the guy who
lost the election for governor

During the last campaign for governor here in Connecticut, I supported and voted for Bill Curry, the Democrat running against Republican John Rowland. I remember at the time being very frustrated because there was very little media coverage of Curry and that there didn't seem to be much money being spent on his campaign and that our allegedly democratic senator, Joseph Leibermouth (who ran for vice president AND senator and is now spending his days in New Hampshire) didn't make a strong push for Curry.

The Hartford Courant, one of the oldest and most-respected newspaper in the United States, at that time was content not to delve too deeply into the Rowland administration or look at the issues that would actually have an impact on Connecticut citizens. Now, after two years, the newspaper is finally getting around to talking seriously with Curry:

Bill Curry: How Do You Like Me Now?
We've talked about signs of abuse of government, signs you pointed to in your campaign. Why was it hard for the public to see this and why was it hard for the press to pick up on it?

"Among the people upon whom we rely for leadership, Connecticut had slowly lost sight of its own values. It's like the thing about slow-boiling a lobster, it had happened slowly over time. It began with camping equipment and concert tickets. Year after year in which no one really questioned anything led to fundamental failure. The worst change was among the institutions of government, then the journalists and other leaders, and then the least changed was the public's opinion. What happened here, it was as if the state had made a collective decision to stop enforcing its own ethics laws.

"The public understands what happens here. This is Connecticut. We were the Constitution State. We were the home of New England town meeting democracy and now we're Louisiana with foliage. This is the Rowland legacy. And everybody knows it. ...

"In a decade, my state that I live in and love has become the most corrupt state in the nation, and when we said it a year ago it was hard to get a hearing."

Connecticut is a small state with several major newspapers (including, the Courant, the Connecticut Post,, the New Haven Register, and the Stamford Advocate). One would think that with all those journalists hungry for a chance to jump into the major league (or even to the newspaper next door, the New York Times), or even just doing their jobs, that just one of them would have taken a closer look at Rowland and his sleazy administration a long time ago. This, after all, is his third term. But no--even on the state's huge loss due to the Enron fiasco, there was no investigative reporting going on. Laziness? Complacency? Some kind of a deal with the state administration?

Maybe as the tax bills start showing up in mailboxes around the state, people will start to demand some answers.
posted by lee on 12/21/03 at 08:05 PM

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Saturday, December 20, 2003

Pork Watchers Blog Slaps Candyass Kean

The CAGW Waste Blog wrote this yesterday:
The Letdown of the Week Award goes to the chairman of the independent commission investigating 9/11, Thomas Kean, who backed away from statements he made to CBS News concerning bombshell revelations about who was responsible for one of the biggest intelligence failures in the history of the United States. Despite a pattern of ignored warnings and missed opportunities leading to Sept. 11, not a single high-level intelligence or administration official was fired or otherwise held responsible, and the White House maintains that 9/11 could not have been prevented. CBS reported that Kean's earlier comments constituted "pointing fingers inside the administration and laying blame," adding that the attacks "could have and should have been prevented." Now Kean is reversing himself and saying that "nobody in the Clinton or Bush Administration did anything wrong."

We watched Nightline the other night, and were pretty amazed at how Kean managed evade laying any blame on any top-level government official in either the Clinton or the Bush administrations--including the president, the heads of the CIA, the NSA, the FBI. He basically said flunkies screwed up, and those are the people who should have been fired but weren't. It was a pretty sickening half hour.

Aside from Kean's wimpout (how much are we paying him for this?), the Citizens Against Government Waste website is a fascinating collection of pork, both pending and past. I wonder if there's anything comparable at the state level -- bet Rowland would be headline news.

So far, they haven't charged Rowland with anything since, so far, he hasn't broken any laws as far as anyone has found. Mostly he's guilty of colossal stupidity and arrogance and shoddy ethics. Though I have a hunch there's a lot more to this iceberg. It's particularly telling that people in his own party (Republican) are telling him to quit. But he still refuses, as of yesterday.
posted by lee on 12/20/03 at 07:19 PM

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Thursday, December 18, 2003

we don’t forgive you, Johnny boy. Resign.

I watched John Rowland's sorry attempt at an apology last night:
Rowland makes public apology--"I ask the people of Connecticut for their forgiveness, I should have paid more attention to people around me and people that I trusted but I am sorry for my actions and take full responsibility."
So he's saying he was too oblivious to notice the sudden, expensive spruce-up of his cabin on the lake. Just like he didn't think there was anything wrong with paying pennies on the dollar for vacations that should have cost thousands. The maximum dollar amount for any gift received by a government official in Connecticut is $10. So one would think he would think twice about accepting a hot tub. But no--he's guilty of either not paying enough attention or for trusting bad people, he says. I think he's just another slimy crook accepting graft with one hand while slashing funding for the people who need it the most: poor children, the disabled, the working poor.

Rowland is a crook, and he should resign and spare the state the expense of impeachment. He's gutted the coffers of Connecticut enough.

After watching Rowland's piss-poor performance, Stepford wifey Patty steps up to the podium and reads a long rip-off of "The Night Before Christmas" where she whines because the media dares to report things such as her husband is a liar and a crook and her son (from a previous marriage) is a druggie who agreed to rehab to avoid jail.

It's so embarrassing.

Rowland is particularly repugnant because he didn't hesitate to smear former Bridgeport mayor Joe Ganim (who I think is now serving his jail time) for exactly the same thing. Rowland whines about how this cabin thing is overshadowing his nine years of service. That kind of whining just makes me wonder if the cabin and the vacations are only the tip of the iceberg--I don't he all of a sudden became dirty. I suspect when the feds dig further down, they'll find lots more. Whether or not they do, Rowland has effectively destroyed his own political future, so he may as well resign now and maybe the feds will go away so he can avoid becoming Ganim's cellmate.
posted by lee on 12/18/03 at 06:26 PM

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Friday, December 12, 2003

fruits of the occupation

Why the US Occupation of Iraq Must End is a powerful Flash movie created for Dennis Kuchinich's campaign. He is trying to raise the funds to run it on television in Iowa.

The animation was created by Eric Blumrich.

Ed Stephan, a sociologist at Western Washington University, maintains a chart tracking U.S. military deaths during the conquest of Iraq.

Today, there was a story on the wires on the possibility (probability?) that the U.S. would house the U.S. Embassy in Iraq in Saddam's main palace, which somehow escaped being blown to smithereens during the shock and awe bombing. That demonstrates very clearly the lack of sensitivity, or even common sense, exhibited by our gub'mint. Or maybe it symbolizes exactly what the Bushies are up to.

I still check this: IRAQOMETER. But it's so depressing.
posted by lee on 12/12/03 at 11:23 PM

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Sunday, December 07, 2003

writer wannabes: read this now

Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing: and very good rules they are from this grandmaster of dialog.
posted by lee on 12/07/03 at 10:43 PM

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one wonders, “why?”

and then it hits: why not?

I love the design of this site.
posted by lee on 12/07/03 at 07:00 AM

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almost over?

Well, Ginger and I trekked outside to check things out around 11:20 or so. My estimate is about 13 inches of snow, total. In the lower left corner of this picture, you can just see the top of a tin flowerpot, which is 15 inches tall. It's so windy and drifty there is no real level spot to get a ruler reading -- my measurements ranged from 11 inches to "where the hell did the ruler go?" So 13 is about right.


It wasn't snowing much this time, and you could see the almost-full moon through the clouds. The clouds are coming in from the northwest-west now, which means the storm has circled around, it looks like. According to the weatherfolk, maybe two to four more inches by early tomorrow. Allegedly, it's supposed to be over around 11 am-ish.

Ginger had fun jumping through the snow -- it's hard to get a picture of her mid-jump, so this will have to do. It's hard to capture the joy she exudes romping through the snow. It's such a pleasure watching her play I don't mind bundling up to take her out. Much.


Stanley has most of the shoveling done. I just hope the worst of it is really over so he doesn't have to do it again in the morning. I still have no idea if we're going to make it to brunch or not -- won't know until we wake up. I suspect not.
posted by lee on 12/07/03 at 04:55 AM

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