Monday, February 25, 2008

no country for old men?

This year's Oscar ceremony is being reported to be the lowest rated one...ever. That makes me sad. And, I have some opinions about it.

Saturday night, my gf and I decided to go watch one of the Oscar nominated films before the big show. (It's no longer a movie once it gets nominated. It becomes a film.) So, we were at the movie theater (Or, "film complex", since they had more than the usual number of nominated films.) trying to decide what to watch.

Wow. The choices were dismal. Atonement. No Country for Old Men. Juno. Now, we already saw Juno. I confess, I liked it. But, the other choices just looked so depressing! How do you choose between deep depression (Atonement) or sordid disturbing violence (No Country For Old Men)? Reluctantly, we decided to watch No Country For Old Men. Little did we know we were about to see the "Best Picture". Keep in mind, this movie won many of the top honors like Best Director(s), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Picture. So, you would expect this to be an incredible movie that simply blows you away....right? Um...not exactly.

First, the movie ambles along, taking you in one odd direction after another. Certain events happen that have no discernible meaning and no resolution. Sure, there are some tense and/or exciting moments. Yes, the acting is above-par. Yes, it is artfully made. There were a few points when I actually got bored. that NEVER happens to me! I can sit through almost anything. I've seen lots and lots of obscure movies. And this one BORED me at times!

And then...the ending. I won't ruin it for you. But, let me say...what an incredible let-down. I left the theatre thinking "there's NO way this movie is going to win anything." And, it won all the big ones!!! No wonder this year's Oscars didn't connect. No one cares.

I appreciate the movie. I understand that it's based on a good novel. But, this movie isn't even a satisfying one. A nomination? Sure. Best Picture? HA! No way.

But I'm not even done yet. The Coen brothers accepted Best Director(s), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture. WORST and LEAST GRACIOUS Oscar acceptances I've ever seen! (except Michael Moore). I mean, they seemed drunk, or something.

As for the rest of the show, it felt as if everyone was simply going through the motions. Maybe Hollywood is still trying to recover from the strike, and recovering from the untimely death of Heath Ledger. Maybe Hollywood just wasn't in the mood this year. And, it shows.

Oscars official site

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Andrew Jackson

Early in American history, the "people" didn't really decide the Presidency. Washington DC was a self-sustaining political machine that promoted and elected their own. Henry Clay was a powerful political figure in the 1800's. As Speaker of the House, he schmoozed and corroborated with politicians. Clay basically got John Quincy Adams in office. Back then, general concensus was basically ignored in Presidential races.

Enter Andrew Jackson. He was rough. He was headstrong. And, he was somewhat insane. He was a tough military leader who didn't have any formal education. He went down to Florida and basically went on a rampage, killing and executing Brittish soldiers without warrant. he owned slaves, and he was known for being quite savage and cruel to them. So, when Andrew Jackson's name came up as a possible Presidential candidate, the big wigs (literally) in Washington just shook their heads in disgust. They probably even laughed at the idea. But, Jackson's name technically was on the ballot during the election of John Quincy Adams.

When Adams was elected president, the people at large (the American public, made up of gritty rough farmers and hunters), revolted. They were angry that Jackson had been ignored as a viable Presidential candidate. But, Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams hadn't even given that a thought. Andrew Jackson hadn't even managed a general store, much less worked in an office. Much less the highest office in the country. John Quincy Adams was much better equipped (on paper, anyway) because he had so much political experience in Europe. He was a soft, intellectual type who was accustomed to "the good life." He was the polar opposite of Andrew Jackson in many ways.

This was during a time when Napoleon had recently conquered France. So, the well-to-do politicians in Washington feared that Andrew Jackson had enough support from the public and military power to overthrow the American government! it's hard to imagine today, but that's what they feared. Jackson had acrued quite a following over the years.

Low and behold, the people of America stood up for themselves and elected Andrew Jackson to President of the United States. He turned out to be pretty good. His extreme stubborness proved useful in DC. Jackson fired tons of beauracrats on the Fedreal level (some of which had been in their cushy jobs since George Washington was Pres!) He cut the size of the Federal Government and established the Democratic party over the course of his Presidency. He was strong. He had convictions. I want a President like that. He was a man of the people.

Yeah, he was half-crazy. Yeah, he did things that were appauling in today's context. But, it's important to understand where America comes from, ugly or not.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

full spouse

Okay, I admit, I ripped off the title of my blog from a news headline I found on the internet. But, I thought it was funny enough to use.
Remember that dorky little kid "Stephanie" on Full House? Sure. We all do. A couple of days ago, she got married (for the second time). And, she has made it public that she, after Full House, spiraled into a black vortex of drugs and alcohol. Doesn't this sound familiar? For the sake of sparing you, dear reader, I won't list the long and depressing roster of child stars that have fallen into this pit. But, supposedly, Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie Tanner) has emerged, fully recovered.
I was always interested in Jodie Sweetin from the time Full House went off the air. Out of all the cast members, she flew under the radar more than any of the others. The Olsen Twins have been saturated with attention, and all the other cast members already had careers in "The biz" before Full House.
Anyway, I think it's sad. I would like to think that her recovery is full, but somehow I doubt it. Something tells me I'll be hearing more stories in the coming years of Jodie Sweetin's struggles with a wreckless lifestyle.
And underneath it all, I continually ask myself why I care. And, I can't really answer that. I guess most of it deals with the fact that I feel like I know this poor girl personally. I mean, I feel like I've known her for like 15 years, the background, the living room telelvision.

Here is a clip of Jodie Sweetin talking to students at the University of Pittsburgh back in March.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dollywood and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

I finally made it out to Dollywood the other day. The weather was warm, crisp, and the humidity was extremely low. I know this East Tennessee draught is causing some problems, but the weather is fantastic if you want to go to Dollywood! Tiffany and I had a great time.

Also, I finally got to watch my friend Doug's remake of the 1919 film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The new film is written and directed by David Fisher. Certainly, the new movie was made on an independent film budget. However, that doesn't prevent this strange and brooding story from entertaining. It is a fun Halloween film made with great style. And, it's one of my favorite Doug performances. There's a really nice official web site for the movie.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Well, Tiffany and I made it to the Sunsphere on Saturday. It was fairly fun. (and free!) We got a great view of Knoxville from the Observation deck, after riding up the clunky, overcrowded, sweaty industrial elevator.

The set up inside the Sunsphere is really awesome, and newly rennovated. They have a flat screen displaying highlights from the 1982 World's Fair. And, they have information kiosk things that give you history about the Sunsphere. I recommend it to any Knoxville visitor!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

i've got saturday and sunday off from work this weekend. This is not typical in my job. So, I'm planning to enjoy it.

First, today, I'm planning on visitng the Knoxville Sunsphere, which is open to the public (again) after 25 years. It's kind of the main symbol of Knoxville, after the '82 World's Fair. Here's another site about the Sunsphere.

Then, there's a locally owned Produce store (don't remember the name) that's been open since the 1800's. Might go there.

Then, I'm going to Fandango to score tickets to the Transformers movie. That's my saturday, hopefully.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

John Adams, our second President, wrote this to his wife on July 3, 1776:

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

Alright, so the guy was off by a couple of days. Cut him some slack.

Incidentally, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826.

Today, President Bush said:

"Two hundred thirty-one years ago, 56 brave men signed their names to a bold creed of freedom that set the course of our Nation and changed the history of the world. On this anniversary, we remember the great courage and conviction of our Founders, and we celebrate the enduring principles of our Declaration of Independence."

This is how I reflect on this July 4, 2007. Our country reaches farther, and we have to bind together to get through these next few years. We have a rich history in America that I deeply respect. America is the greatest nation on Earth.

You can click one of the thumbnails on the right to watch some fireworks. Yeah, I know. I'm a nerd.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Presidential Race 2008

Hey, loyal blog readers! I've been doing some research on the internet lately, just for this blog post.

Even though the 2008 Presidentail election is over a year away, the media is already buzzing. Candidates are hitting the campaign trail, and the ads have already begun.

YouTube is a great resource for listening to each candidate, and finding several clips of each candidate.

And in THIS corner we have: The DEMOCRATS!

Here are links to the official sites of each major candidate:
Hillary Clinton Official Site
Hillary Clinton's YouTube page

Barack Obama Official Site
Barack Obama's YouTube page

John Edwards Official Site
John Edwards YouTube page

Joe Biden YouTube page
Joe Biden

And in THIS corner we have: The REPUBLICANS!

Rudy Giuliani Official Site
Rudy Giuliana YouTube page

Mitt Romney Official Site
Mitt Romney YouTube page

John McCain Official Site
John McCain YouTube page

Fred Thompson Official Site

You can research all the past Presidents at the official white house site here.

With the advent of the internet, no one has an excuse for being uninformed anymore. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

where do you stand?

In today's politically turbulent climate, it's hard to know where you stand. I found some useful political quizzes online. These quizzes evaluate your personal politics.

This one looks low budget, but the quiz is thorough and accurate.

This one is funnier, with a more entertaining format.

I found both useful in evaluating my personal politics. Everyone should have their own opinions!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day

On national television not too long ago, I heard someone say: extreme Christianity is just as dangrous as extreme Islam.

I also heard a prominant news anchorman, on a prime time news (commentary) show, say how much better the European political system is than the American system.

For the cynics who scorn and mock the heart of this country, I truly grieve. I do not understand how someone could enjoy the fruits of this country while simultaneously tearing it down. The arrogance and ignorance prompts me to ask how anyone could be shortsighted enough to hate the place that gives them life. I have a message for those who reap the benefits of this country, yet they hold vengeful and bitter attitudes about the values of this country: be careful. You are on dangerous ground. As the poison of political correctness continues to seep deeper and deeper into pop culture, America's great voice of character is inevitably being silenced. Through the mediocrity of spiritual and political ignorance, the United States of America is brought to a painful place.

I know many democrats are eager to pull our troops out of Iraq. I do not know the full breadth of their political motivation for wanting to leave the middle east, but I have a message for them: I know this war is tough, and the price is high. I know it hurts to have family overseas, giving their lives. i know it is a costly war, and these terrorists have put us in a terrible position. And I also know that you, as democrats, believe in open dialouge. In the spirit of listening to open dialouge,please hear my plea: Please consider the stakes. Please support this war. These terrorists have to be stopped. They are fueled by evil, and the threat they pose to us is real. Please consider the Gulf War of the early 90's. Please consider the bombings of '93. Listen to their threats. These people are cold-blooded, suicidal killers. And most of all, remember 9-11-01. If given the chance, these horrid terrorists will bring an attack upon this country even worse than the twin tower collapse. Don't degrade our War on Terror into political squabblings. These terrorists haven't gone away, they are just waiting and planning. Take this message for what it's worth.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: America is the greatest country on earth. We enjoy privilege, freedom to worship, great wealth, a rich and fascinating history, and the power to change the world for good. America is founded on principles of optimism and hope. While struggling to solve our own problems, we reach out to other parts of the earth to give a helping hand. In compassion, we strive to rid the world of injustice.

This Memorial Day, I am reminded that thousands have fought (and many died) for our precious freedom. I am thankful for their sacrifice, and reflect on it with respect and gratitude. If it weren't for them, this country could not exist. And, the freedom that we enjoy every day could not be ours. Thank you, men and women of America's military. Because of you, we are the greatest nation on earth.

I know I don't speak in such blunt political terms on my blog very often, but I have been inspired this Memorial Day to speak my mind. Isn't that a freedom we have? I want to exercise that freedom.

The story of America is the story of expanding liberty: an ever-widening circle, constantly growing to reach further and include more. Our nation's founding commitment is still our deepest commitment: In our world, and here at home, we will extend the frontiers of freedom. - President George W. Bush

"The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism.... It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn." -George Washington

Saturday, May 19, 2007

my personal finances

in a meager and desperate attempt to pinch pennies, I've been cutting back on bills lately. I cut my Netflix service down a notch, cut my cell phone plan down a notch, and I made a personal comittment to myself..."I, Evan, will not turn on my thermostat for the entire month of May."

The good news about the thermostat thing is that the month of May is usually a mild month. And, my apartment is on the first floor. So, it's kind of like a cave. It stays 71 degrees all the time.

All month, I've had various temptations to turn on the thermostat. Whenever I feel warm, or cool, I check the temp. It never fails. It's always between 71-73 degrees in my apartment. Absolute perfection. So, I've stuck with my pledge to keep the AC and heat OFF.

Today, I got my electric bill for the last half of April and the first half of May. When I saw the amount, I laughed out loud. 26 dollars. My plan is working!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell

I felt a very strange mix of emotions yesterday when I heard about the death of public figure Jerry Falwell.

As leader of the "Moral Majority", Falwell spearheaded a unique political movement. He had distinct and uncompromising spiritual and political views. These views fueled intense controvery.

When I was in college, I began to question the dogmatic authority of this man. I slowly began to regard his views as narrow, stuffy, and irrelevent. Especially when he blamed gay people for the tragedy of 9/11. (Sounds insane, but it's true. Falwell later retracted that statement, partially.) It was the statement of a bitter man out of touch with society.

But now, in retrospect and upon his death, my view is different. Yes, his views were what I consider ultra-conservative. And yes, he made mistakes. And yes, he had an exterior shell of superficiality, but no more than any other public figure. My view is different now because I see Falwell's torrid and varied legacy as that of a well-meaning, spiritually conscious, passionate man. I imagine that he was headstrong, determined, and deeply emotional about his beliefs.

My most distinct memory of this man was when I met him in high school. I was on a summer church camp with my Baptist youth group. The camp was on the campus of Liberty University. One morning, Falwell spoke to us about how great Liberty U was. Afterward, I went up front and shook his hand. I remember, he seemed fairly pudgy. And, his face looked more elderly and round from up close. Almost scary looking. He signed my dad's Bible. I know, it's weird. But, I felt like I had to have some excuse for going up front to meet him. And, he was signing stuff. So, I had him sign the inside cover of my dad's Bible. Weird.

Through all the controversy, and disagreements I had with the man, I still respect his legacy. And, I respect a man who will stand up in the face of what he perceives as injustice. He was probably a caring man under his stuffy exterior. I'll pray for that campus, and for his family. And I'll pray for future leaders, that they may be able to immulate his courage.

Monday, May 14, 2007

glorious drive-in

My girlfriend Tiffany and I have been going to drive-ins for the last year. We have been to three now, and they are quite wonderful.

Many people associate the drive-in with 50's nostalgia. However, considering that I was not alive in the 50's, I personally associate the drive-ins more with the 1980's. The drive-ins are incredible. The one Tiffany and I went to this last friday featured a Galaga stand-up arcade game, Ms PacMan, and a pinball machine (also from the 80's) called "Heavy Metal Meltdown."

The drive-ins these days are not the romantic getaways for teens to makeout. They no longer have the broken little fuzz speakers that you attach to your driver's side window. Now you tune your radio to an AM channel. No, the drive-in has come a long way.

The reasons I love the drive-in are varied. For one, East Tennessee is incredibly beautiful. The audience is basically in the middle of a field surrounded by woods. This last friday, around sunset, a cool mist settled over the trees. It was about 71 degrees outside, and everything was lush and green. We were in the front row, and sat out on lawn chairs. During the movie, when it got colder, we got in the car.

Another reason I love it is because it's cheap. 5 dollars for a double feature.

The drive-ins here in Tennessee are also a lovely myriad of rednecks. Many have redneck trucks and cigarrettes. They smoke frequently, and have bleached hair. Many of the rednecks have Looney Tunes attire, and drive Chevrolet Camaros. it's a lot of fun.

Click here to see the official web site of the ring of drive-ins here in East Tennessee.

Monday, April 30, 2007

California love

My girlfriend Tiffany and I went to Los Angeles to meet with old friends and feel the California sun. I've posted some pics on my myspace page. And, I've temporarily disabled restricted viewing on my myspace page so that others can look at them.

Click here to see them on my myspace page.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

superbowl commercial part 2

So, I have a new idea for a Superbowl commercial that's going to blow the advertising industry away! the new commercial goes something like this:

The image is black. Slowly, we see a desert scene fade into view. A scruffy bearded "traveler" man in shabby brown clothing staggers into frame. He is carrying a satchel. He opens it, and pulls out a bag of Pampers diapers. He takes in a deep breath and mumbles "The diapers." He begins to stagger, growing faint from the heat. His limp body collapses. When his thin frame hits the ground, it bursts into hundreds of mini basketballs, which scatter and bounce all over the ground.

Our view raises to an arial, and we see the mini basketballs bounce and roll, forming an image of former President Ronald Reagan's face. The face begins to talk, "Get the best rates on the internet time. Have peace time. Find more former time members, and laugh more often."

The brown sandy desert ground fades to black, but the Ronald Reagan face remains. In the black backround, stars form, and we find ourselves in outerspace. The Ronald Reagan face catches on fire and disperses. It forms the image of a flaming hawk, and soars deep into the realms of outer space. We fly past colorful quasars, undiscovered galaxies, and a group of bright red golden retriever puppies floating aimlessly across the face of infinite space.

Then, we see the Pepsi logo.

I think Pepsi would go for it. Of course, it doesn't feature any celebrities except the late President Reagan. I still know it has the potential to be the best.