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Friday, May 20, 2005

Review: Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

As the final screen wipe came up last night and the now familiar words "written and directed by George Lucas" appeared, I found myself extremely disappointed. I was not disappointed because the movie was bad, in fact it was fantastic. I was and still am disappointed because for all intents and purposes, that was the last time I will ever see a new Star Wars movie.

It was a bittersweet ending. The film ends on a tragically hopeful note, with a poignancy that exists very rarely in the other Star Wars movies. And as pathetic as it sounds, I was really sad to see the franchise that changed so many things draw to a close.

As I mentioned, the movie is wonderful. Recently, I re-watched Episode II to refresh my memory on why the Clone War was going on. Maybe it was the anticipation for the latest film, but I found myself not hating Episode II anymore. In fact, I rather enjoyed. And it also became clear last night that the previous two episodes, despite their many flaws, were neccessary set pieces that lead up to the spectacle that is Episode III.

The movie is admittedly one long, astonishing special effect. Every scene has such life and movement. The only thing lacking life was some of the actors and their dialogue, but it was not nearly as bad as I anticipated. It was certainly no worse than any scene involving Mark Hamill. And in some instances the acting was actually quite good. Hayden Christiansen has either matured significantly as an actor or George Lucas got some help with the writing (which has been rumored).

I did feel that Anakin's transition to the dark side was abrreviated, but that can be forgiven considering the pace of the movie. And with each movie, as she moved farther away from the role as queen, Natalie Portman has become much more believable. Ewan McGregor and Yoda give the best performances, followed closely by Ian Mcdirmid as the emperor. McGregor's Obi Wan Kenobi is almost spot on to the perfomance orginally done by Alec Guiness. After Darth Vader, I think Obi Wan's story is the most compelling. He really does seem to suffer at his apparent failing with Anakin.

The scene after the climactic battle between Anakin and Obi Wan is genuinely moving. As Anakin lays mutilated at the hands of his former master, Obi Wan's pain is wrentching. "You were supposed to be the chosen one!" Obi Wans cries. "You were supposed to bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness." I felt that was the best scene Lucas has ever written.

While the audience knows that Obi Wan's training is succesful in the end, he himself dies before Anakin does bring balance back to the Force in Return of the Jedi. Equally as moving were the scenes of Darth Vader's birth and Padme's death that were brilliantly intercut with one another. Finally, as Yoda and Obi Wan are forced into hiding, a sense of loneliness and sadness are pervasive. Even knowing the overall outcome doesn't change the fact that our heros have, from their persepctive, failed to save the day.

The movie closes with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru holding baby Luke and staring somberly at the dual sunset on Tatooine, a reworking of the same classic scene when Luke must decide his future. At once sweet, sad, tragic and hopeful, the ending - and the entire film - more than makes up for Lucas' stumbling up to this point. It is rare for a franchise to end on such a note of despair, but Revenge of the Sith pulls it off in glorious fashion.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Movin' On Up

It seems I may have been wrong about the lack of vision on the part of the Sacramento city council...or perhaps they changed their tune after reading this blog (not likely). Anyway, it would seem that last night's council meeting dealt primarily with the flood of potential new high-rises here in town.

From previous comments I felt the council was going to impose some kind of ludicrous height restrictions on these phenomenal new buildings. But reports from Tuesday evening suggest the council, and virtually everyone else, is very much in favor of high-rise, high-denisty living. I am hoping that mayor Fargo has gotten over her "need" to consider how high we want to appears she has.

A group of local Sacramentans have formed the Sacramento Citizens' Smart Growth Advocacy. The group's aim appears to be supporting the skyward exapansion of downtown. Their members are culled from a website known as, I hope they put up a website soon so as to reach out to other's who share their views.

The only opposition to these new high-rises seems to be coming from local "preservationists" who demand that the view of capitol dome be unobstructed throughout the city. They argue that these new proposals will block their precious view of the captiol. In my opinion that is simply out-dated thinking...the kind that will keep Sacramento from reaching its potential.

There was also an article in the March issue of the Sacramento Union (for whom I sometimes submit blog entries) that was incredibly short-sighted and dismissive of the high-rise idea. The article, by Susan McLaughlin, states the following:

"In the 21st century Sacramento’s tree-lined distinction will change. Sacramento’s transformation into clusters of “compact developments,” mixing commercial zones with family living spaces, has already begun.

Called “smart growth,” the transformation simply means government-sponsored crowding and control. The goals of smart growth are reducing or eliminating private transportation options, mainly automobiles, and restricting the housing market to high-density, cost-shifted apartments or condominiums."

This is exactly the kind of wrong-headed thinking that continues to keep Sacramento on par with Madison, Wis., Albuquerque, NM., and other second-tier cities. I'm clearly all for

***oops, something happened to the following text...oh well you get the point***

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

No one likes an ugly baby

How often has some joyful parent rushed up to you and demanded you gaze at their hideous looking baby? This happens to me about 8 times a day. If you, like me, are weary of pretending these grosteque babies are cute you can take solace that these monsters will wind up less-loved than their handsome/pretty counterparts.

According to a new study from the University of Alberta, ugly children receive far less attention and love from their parents than would attractive babies. Researchers found "1.2 percent of the homely children were buckled into the shopping cart, compared with 13.3 percent of the prettiest ones. When a man was in charge of shopping, none of the unattractive children were strapped into the carts, while 12.5 percent of the cute children were."

The study also noted that "Less attractive children were also allowed to wander further away and were out of sight of their parents more often."

Clearly this is proof that nobody really likes an ugly baby...least of all the parents. So perhaps the rest of us can finally be spared being put in the uncomfortable position of cooing over babies that are clearly repugnant. At last, these babies will be chained in the attic and be fed a bucket of fish heads so as not to disturb we the attractive.

In the end, it is best for all involved that ugly babies receive no attention or love. We must glorify and honor only the beautiful and shun all that is displeasing to the eye. A world without ugly babies, and thus ugly people, is a utopia indeed. Thank you Canada for this important and timely study.

* you are aware this is satire, right?

Monday, May 02, 2005

This is what will happen to Sacramento

Stern: 'New Jersey blew it'

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- NBA commissioner David Stern blames New Jersey politicians for the Nets' planned move to Brooklyn in either 2007 or 2008.

"New Jersey blew it," Stern said Thursday of the proposed move. Speaking during an informal news conference before the Nets played the Miami Heat in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series on Thursday night, he added: "We practically begged them, and the New Jersey politicians did not step up."

Stern conceded that political leaders did not want state taxpayers saddled with the debt of a new arena.

"That's a fair retort, but you have to make your choice," Stern said.

About five years ago, former Nets owner Ray Chambers wanted to build an arena in Newark to house both the Nets and Devils of the NHL. The proposal was hampered by weak public support, opposition from suburban lawmakers and problematic financing.

Chambers and his partners with the YankeeNets sports conglomerate eventually sold the Nets to real estate developer Bruce Ratner. He has announced plans to move the team to an arena he plans to build in downtown Brooklyn.

Jeff Vanderbeek, the new owner of the Devils, recently reached an agreement with Newark officials to build a $310 million, 18,000-seat arena for his team. The building is scheduled to open in September 2007.

Both the Nets and Devils currently play at Continental Airlines Arena in the Meadowlands sports complex.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Schwarzt Backs Down

Last week I was saddened when our mighty governor turned tail and ran in the face of lunatics like Fabian Nunez and others who, again, tried to dismiss the idea of closing our borders asnothing short of racism.

Nunez may be one of the worst people in American politics. Hi sonly strategy appears to be accusing people of racism if they oppose his agenda of appealing to non-citizens and illegal immigrants.

I'm not going to get into the tired conservative argument "it's illegal, it's in the name!". Obviously we all know what is going on. Arnold said what he said and meant it. He did not misspeak and he does not need to work on his english. He said he want the borders closed because he knows that it is inconceivably stupid and dangerous to leave the situation the way it is.

Yet even the Schwartz wussed out on this one. I do admire him for having the courage to initially state his belief, which is a lot more than I can say for Bush on this issue. In fact, Bush is a downright embarassment when it comes to illegal immigration.

But what is the point? California is F'd. Sadly, the only thing that will ever change the illegal immigrant situation here is another devastating terrorist attack that occurs because of our border policy. Deomcrats and Republicans alike are slaves to the slave-class. Both are heavily invested in the illegals are neither will do anything to fix it. And, if anyone dare try, why then just do what Fabian would do and call them a racist.

Ain't democracy grand?

"By disagreeing with me you have clearly proven yourself to be a racist bastard."
-Fabian Nunez

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Back again

OK, I know it's been a long, pleasant time but I am going to start posting again. Like I mentioned earlier, I will probably not post everyday. But you can once again come here to find my opinions, opinions based on limited fact-checking and spur-of the-moment emotion.

Today I'd like to lash out at the city leaders in Sacramento. For too long they have failed in their roles as leaders in terms of making Sacramento a world-class city. The city's "champion", mayor Fargo, talks the talk know the rest.

Here are the key areas where the city leaders are failing:

First, the arena debacle. Yes, I understand many people in the area don't want to even partially help fund an arena. Too bad for you, I say. As a city leader, your job is to do what is best not only for the people but for the city. A new arena is a must. But Fargo and the city council have caved in to the whining by Sacramento-area residents. Everyone opposed to the arena being publicly funded is living with a second class mentality and show little civic pride. So, the city leaders leave the arena plan to the Sheriff? Pathetic. Show some leadership[ and convince people why a new arean must be built.

Second, the riverfront. For years the promise has been a vibrant riverfront a la San Antonio. What do we have today? A water intake facility. Granted, it is a helluva a nice one, but not a place I'd like to spend an evening. Why the Sacramento river is not lined by retail and residential is a no mystery, it's a tribute to a lack of vision by our leaders.

Third, the city made no effort, even symbolicly, to try and get teh Oakland A's to relocate here. The A's are unhappy in Oakland and the fan base here would be terrific. To be fair, though, many residents would probably complain that it may cost them 10 cents here and there if a stadium were to built. But again, that attitude goes back to our leaders failing to instill pride in area residents.

Lastly, a slew of new high-rises are being proposed in downtown and mayor Fargo actaully said that she wonders how high is too high to build. It is that kind of short sightedness that will forver keep Sacramento in the second-class city category. The city must start approving the projects immediately. The approval process in Sacramento is badly broken and must be reformed. And, screw the historic value of the burnt-out hellholes on K. Street. The city must enact eminant domain and destroy those "historic" bum havens.

That is all for now. If you agree please write your city council member and demand they start bringing more than endless tract housing to Sacramento. If you disagree, you need to re-evaluate why you have no civic pride.

For fun, here are some projects that are proposed for Sacramento.

International Asian trade center:

The Towers on Capitol Mall

A tower by Daniel Libeskind (of the new WTC desing in NY)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Site Update

As you may know, I haven't posted in a while. I have been getting burnt out on posting things everyday so I am taking a hiatus from the site while I figure out how much time I feel like devoting to it. I should have some new stuff in a couple of weeks but it more than likely won't be on the near daily basis I had been doing. Check back in April sometime for more.