Discussion of the results of today's hearing
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
THE ENTERTAINMENT CRITIC BOOK REVIEW, BY JAMES MYERS
By Scott McClellan
Published by: Public Affairs Books, a Division of Perseus Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2008
Four Star Rating ****
SCOTT MCCLELLAN SERVED AS WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY FROM 2003 TO 2006, BEFORE THAT HE SERVED AS THE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY AND AS TRAVELING PRESS SECRETARY FOR THE BUSH-CHENEY 2000 CAMPAIGN. EARLIER IN HIS CAREER, MR. MCCLELLAN SERVED AS DEPUTY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR IN THE TEXAS GOVERNOR'S OFFICE AND CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR THREE SUCCESSFUL STATEWIDE CAMPAIGNS. HE IS NOW A SENIOR ADVISER TO A GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY FIRM AND COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST. BORN IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, HE NOW LIVES NEAR WASHINGTON, D.C
“The University of Texas has always been special to my family and me. My grandfather, the late Page Keeton, was the legendary dean who led its law school to national prominence. I was born and reared in Austin, Texas, where it is located, and earned an undergraduate degree from the university.
I am very familiar with the UT Tower, the main building in the center of campus, with words from the Gospel of John carved in stone above its south entrance: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
Those powerful words have always piqued my curiosity, as a person of faith and as an ordinary human being keenly interested in the larger meaning of life. But not until the past few years have I come to truly appreciate their message.
Perhaps God’s greatest gift to us in life is the ability to learn from our experiences, especially our mistakes, and grow into better people. That uniquely human quality is rooted in free will and blossoms in our capacity for knowledge, based on understanding the truth — not as we might imagine or wish it to be, but as it is. And that includes recognizing our faults and accepting responsibility for them. Through contrition we find the truth and the freedom that comes with it, even as we improve ourselves and grow closer to the image that God our Creator has in mind for us to become.
My mother, who began her career in public service as a high school civics and history teacher, likes to say, “It is people, not events, that shape history.” She couldn’t be more right. History is rooted in the choices made by people — ﬂawed, fallible people.
This is a book about the slice of history I witnessed during my years in the White House and about the well-intentioned but ﬂawed human beings — myself included — who shaped that history. I’ve written it not to settle scores or enhance my own role but simply to record what I know and what I learned in hopes that my account will deepen our understanding of contemporary history, particularly the events that followed the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001.
I began the process of writing this book by putting myself under the microscope. In my efforts on behalf of the presidential administration of George W. Bush I fell far short of living up to the kind of public servant I wanted to be. Having accepted the post of White House press secretary at age 35 and possessing scant experience of the Washington power game, I didn’t fully understand what I was getting myself into. Today, I understand it much better. This book records the often painful process by which I gained that understanding.
I frequently stumbled along the way and failed in my duty to myself, to the president I served, and to the American people. I tried to play the Washington game according to the current rules and, at times, didn’t play it very well. Because I didn’t stay true to myself, I couldn’t stay true to others. The mistakes were mine, and I’ve suffered the consequences.
My own story, however, is of small importance in the broad historical picture. More significant is the larger story in which I played a minor role — the story of how the presidency of George W. Bush veered terribly off course.
As press secretary, I spent countless hours defending the administration from the podium in the White House briefing room. Although the things I said then were sincere, I have since come to realize that some of them were badly misguided. In these pages, I’ve tried to come to grips with some of the truths that life inside the White House bubble obscured.
My friends and former colleagues who lived and worked or are still living and working inside that bubble may not be happy with the perspective I present here. Many of them, I’m sure, remain convinced that the Bush administration has been fundamentally correct in its most controversial policy judgments, and that the dis-esteem in which most Americans currently hold it is undeserved. Only time will tell. But I’ve become genuinely convinced otherwise.
The episode that became the jumping-off point for this book was the scandal over the leaking of classified national security information — the so-called Plame affair. It originated in a controversy over the intelligence the Bush administration used to make the case that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq represented a “grave and gathering danger” that needed to be eliminated. When a covert CIA officer's identity was disclosed during the ensuing partisan warfare, turning the controversy into the latest Washington scandal, I was caught up in the deception that followed. It was the defining moment in my time working for the president, and one of the most painful experiences of my life
When words I uttered, believing them to be true, were exposed as false, I was constrained by my duties and loyalty to the president and unable to comment. But I promised reporters and the public that I would someday tell the whole story of what I knew. After leaving the White House, I realized that the story was meaningless without an appreciation of the personal, political, and institutional context in which it took place. So the story grew into a book.
Writing it wasn’t easy. Some of the best advice I received as I began came from a senior editor at a publishing house that expressed interest in my book. He said the hardest challenge for me would be to keep questioning my own beliefs and perceptions throughout the writing process. His advice was prescient. I’ve found myself constantly questioning my own thinking, my assumptions, my interpretations of events. Many of the conclusions I’ve reached are quite different from those I would have embraced at the start of the process. The quest for truth has been a struggle for me, but a rewarding one. I don’t claim a monopoly on truth. But after wrestling with my experiences over the past several months, I’ve come much closer to my truth than ever before.
Many readers will have come to this book out of curiosity about the man who is a leading character in my story, President George W. Bush. You’ll learn about my relationship with him and my experiences as part of his team as you read these pages. For now, let me observe that much of what the general public knows about Bush is true. He is a man of personal charm, wit, and enormous political skill. Like many other people, I was inspired to follow him by his disarming personality and by his record as a popular, bipartisan governor who set a constructive tone and got things done for the people. We all hoped and believed he could do the same for the nation.
Certainly the seeds of greatness seemed to be present in the Bush administration. Although Bush attained the White House only after an extended legal battle over the outcome of the 2000 election, he began his presidency with considerable goodwill. He commanded a rare, extended period of national unity following the unimaginable national tragedy that struck our nation in September 2001.
On paper, the team Bush assembled was impressive. Vice President Dick Cheney was a serious, vastly experienced hand in the top levels of government. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had already enjoyed one successful run at the Pentagon and boasted a résumé listing a string of business and government achievements. Secretary of State Colin Powell, an able and widely respected military leader, was easily the most popular public figure in the country and could well have been the first African American president of the United States had he been interested in the job. Even Bush’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, had a powerful reputation as a brilliant strategic thinker who was helping to make the Republican party the nation’s greatest political force.
I believed in George W. Bush’s leadership and agenda for America, and had confidence in his authenticity, integrity, and judgment. But today the high hopes that accompanied the early days of his presidency have fallen back to earth.
Rumsfeld and Powell are gone, their tenures controversial and disappointing. Vice President Cheney’s role is widely viewed as sinister and destructive of the president’s legacy. And Rove’s reputation for political genius is now matched by his reputation as an operative who places political gain ahead of the national interest.
Through it all, President Bush remains very much the same. He is self-confident, quick-witted, down-to-earth, and stubborn, as leaders sometimes need to be. His manner is authentic, his beliefs sincere. I never knew Lyndon Johnson (another Texan with a stubborn streak whose domestic accomplishments were overshadowed by a controversial war) or Richard Nixon (a president whose historically low poll ratings following Watergate have been rivaled only by Bush’s). But according to historians, both men were consumed with defensiveness, anger, and ultimately anguish as their presidencies unraveled under the pressure of war and scandal, respectively. George W. Bush is different. He is very much the man he always was — though not quite the leader I once imagined him to be.
It was the decision to go to war in Iraq that pushed Bush’s presidency off course. It was a fateful misstep based on a confluence of events (the shock of 9/11 and our surprisingly — and deceptively — quick initial military success in Afghanistan), human nature (ambition, certitude, and self-deceit), and a divinely inspired passion (President Bush’s deeply held belief that all people have a God-given right to live in freedom). For Bush, removing the “grave and gathering danger” that Iraq supposedly posed was primarily a means for achieving the far more grandiose objective of reshaping the Middle East as a region of peaceful democracies.
History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided — that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder. No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.
Waging an unnecessary war is a grave mistake. But in reflecting on all that happened during the Bush administration, I’ve come to believe that an even more fundamental mistake was made — a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.
Most of our elected leaders in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike, are good and decent people. Yet too many of them today have made a practice of shunning truth and the high level of openness and forthrightness required to discover it. Most of it is not willful or conscious. Rather it is part of the modern Washington game that has become the accepted norm.
As I explain in this book, Washington has become the home of the permanent campaign, a game of endless politicking based on the manipulation of shades of truth, partial truths, twisting of the truth, and spin. Governing has become an appendage of politics rather than the other way around, with electoral victory and the control of power as the sole measures of success. That means shaping the narrative before it shapes you. Candor and honesty are pushed to the side in the battle to win the latest news cycle.
Of course, deception in politics is nothing new. What’s new is the degree to which it now permeates our national political discourse.
Much of it is barely noticeable and seemingly harmless, accepted as par for the course. Most of it is done unconsciously or subconsciously with no malicious intent other than to prevail in the increasingly destructive game of power and influence.
Some of it is self-deceit. Those engaging in it convince themselves to believe what they are saying, though deep down they know candor and honesty are lacking. Instead of checking their political maneuvering at the door when the campaign ends, they retain it as part of the way Washington works. The deception it spawns becomes the cancer on our political discourse, greatly damaging the ability of our elected leaders to govern effectively and do what is best for America.
Too many politicians and their followers have become passionately committed to a preconceived, partisan view of reality that allows little room for compromise or cooperation with the other side. The gray nuances of truth are lost in the black-and-white ideologies both parties embrace. Permanent division, gridlock, and a general inability to constructively address the big challenges we all face inevitably follow.
President Bush, I believe, did not consciously set out to engage in these destructive practices. But like others before him, he chose to play the Washington game the way he found it, rather than changing the culture as he vowed to do at the outset of his campaign for the presidency. And like others before him, he has engaged in a degree of self-deception that may be psychologically necessary to justify the tactics needed to win the political game.
The permanent campaign also ensnares the media, who become complicit enablers of its polarizing effects. They emphasize conflict, controversy, and negativity, focusing not on the real-world impact of policies and their larger, underlying truths but on the horse race aspects of politics — who’s winning, who’s losing, and why.
In exploring this syndrome and the way it helped damage at least one administration, I’ve tried to contribute to our understanding of Washington’s culture of deception and how we, the American people, can change it.
Although my time in the Bush White House did not work out as I once hoped, my optimism regarding America has been strengthened. I’ve met many, many people who are eager for positive change and are ready to devote their lives and energies to the future of our country. I still believe, in the words of then-Governor Bush, that it’s possible to show “that politics, after a time of tarnished ideals, can be higher and better.” I’m convinced that, if we take a clear-eyed look at how our system has gone awry and think seriously about how to ﬁx it, there’s nothing we can’t achieve.
This book, I hope, will contribute to that national conversation.”
Scott McClellan, former Press Secretary to President George W. Bush, has written an explosive, new book, What Happened that does not ask the question as much as it supplies the missing pieces of the answer. At the age of 30, he accepted what appeared to bed the job of a lifetime, press spokesman for Texas governor, George W. Bush. Bush was just beginning his candidacy for President. Scott identified with GWB due to his strong record of successful bipartisan leadership, as a compassionate, committed conservative. He was particularly inspired by his promise to restore dignity and honesty to the Office of The President of the United States after the tumultuous years under Bill Clinton’s scandalous and partisan administration.
McClellan served the “W” White House for over 7 years as part of the inner circle of trusted advisors to the President, as well as his Press Secretary. From his position and vantage point, he witness the events of the most challenging and contentious periods in American history. He witnessed the day to day operations of the Bush White House, and observed it veer disastrously and irretrievably off course. In this startlingly, candid book, he shares his provocative story with the American people.
What Happened provides a one of a kind prospective of all of the events, policies, and personalities of the Bush administration, including the Iraq War, 9/11, the Valerie Plame leak scandal, Hurricane Katrina and all of the propaganda and marketing campaigns designed to exculpate the White House and mislead the American people.
What Happened demonstrates what President Bush knew or should have known, how the Bush White House operates, and how the goals and priorities of the Bush Administration were shaped and focused. Scott offers completely unique opinions about the roles and personalities of the top advisors including, Karl Rove, Andy Card, Karen Hughes, Condoleezza Rice, and VP Dick Cheney.
More importantly, this book is a true confession of Scott’s understanding of exactly how our political culture became so toxic and intolerable. His compelling case against ‘politics as usual’ in the process of campaigning, governing, or covering politics for the media is the most unique insights offered into modern politics currently in written form. He has also offered potential solutions to make institutional changes to reform the Washington policies of deception that he feels poisoned the Bush Administration for within. He offers sound advice to the American people concerning the selection of a new leader.
This book blows the lid off of the incredibly secretive and manipulating workings of the Bush administration, and comes at a time when the President is still in office. His writing shows the painful truth that the powers to be were ultimately deceiving themselves. It is an often all too painful acknowledgement of what occurred, and his role in it. This is the most open, vivid and disturbing political book so far this year, giving incredible insight into the upcoming Presidential elections. Don’t miss this one. It is a political fireball of an eye opener.
...way under the bus
Effect of the McClellan book on the current election and John McCain's campaign
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Discussion about how the FLA MI delegate issue may help Hillary take the matter on appeal to the Democratic National Convention in August
Continued problems that John McCain has with Phil Gramm; did he lobby McCain? Will McCain keep Gramm? The solution that McCain has for the housing crisis is discussed as horribly inadequate. UBS has suggested its employees do not come to the USA for fear they may be arrested. There's only a limited portion of McCain's plan for homeowners
On Saturday, when the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee meets to determine the fate of Florida and Michigan's delegations to this summer's convention, it will have some company. A group of Hillary Clinton supporters has announced it will demonstrate outside.
That Clinton has impassioned supporters, many of whom link her candidacy to the feminist cause, hardly qualifies as news. And it's certainly true that along the campaign trail Clinton has encountered some outrageously sexist treatment, just as Barack Obama has been on the receiving end of bigoted treatment. (Obama has even been subjected to anti-Muslim bigotry despite the fact that he's not Muslim.) But somehow, a number of Clinton supporters have come to identify the seating of Michigan and Florida not merely with Clinton's prospects but with the causes of democracy and feminism -- an equation that makes a mockery of democracy and feminism.
Clinton herself is largely responsible for this absurdity. Over the past couple of weeks, she has equated the seating of the two delegations with African Americans' struggle for suffrage in the Jim Crow South, and with the efforts of the democratic forces in Zimbabwe to get a fair count of the votes in their presidential election.
Somehow, I doubt that the activists opposing Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe would appreciate this equation.
But the Clintonistas who have called Saturday's demonstration make it sound as if they'll be marching in Selma in support of a universal right to vote. The DNC, says one of their Web sites, "must honor our core democratic principles and enfranchise the people of Michigan and Florida."
Had Florida and Michigan conducted their primaries the way the other 48 states conducted their own primaries and caucuses -- that is, in accord with the very clear calendar laid down by the DNC well before the primaries began -- then Clinton's marchers would be utterly justified in their claims. But when the two states flouted those rules by moving their primaries outside the prescribed time frame, the DNC, which gave neither state a waiver to do so, decreed that their primaries would not count and enjoined all presidential candidates from campaigning in those states. Obama and John Edwards complied with the DNC's dictates by removing their names from the Michigan ballot. Clinton did not.
Seating Michigan in full would mean the party validates the kind of one-candidate election (well, 1.03, to give Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd and Mike Gravel, who also remained on the ballot, their due) that is more common in autocracies than democracies. It would mean rewarding the one serious candidate who didn't remove her name from the ballot when all her rivals, in deference to the national party rules, did just that.
What's particularly outrageous is that the Clinton campaign supported the calendar, and the sanctions against Michigan and Florida, until Clinton won those states and needed to have their delegations seated. (emphasis added)
Last August, when the DNC Rules Committee voted to strip Florida (and Michigan, if it persisted in clinging to its date) of its delegates, the Clinton delegates on the committee backed those sanctions. All 12 Clinton supporters on the committee supported the penalties. (The only member of the committee to vote against them was an Obama supporter from Florida.) Harold Ickes, a committee member, leading Clinton strategist and acknowledged master of the political game, said, "This committee feels very strongly that the rules ought to be enforced." Patty Solis Doyle, then Clinton's campaign manager, further affirmed the decision. "We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process," she said, referring to the four states that the committee authorized to hold the first contests. "And we believe the DNC's rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role. Thus, we will be signing the pledge to adhere to the DNC-approved nominating calendar."
Not a single Clinton campaign official or DNC Rules Committee member, much less the candidate herself, said at the time that the sanctions imposed on Florida or Michigan were in any way a patriarchal plot or an affront to democratic values. The threat that these rules posed to our fundamental beliefs was discovered only ex post facto -- the facto in question being Clinton's current need to seat the delegations whose seatings she had opposed when she thought she'd cruise to the nomination.
Clinton's supporters have every right to demonstrate on Saturday, of course. But their larger cause is neither democracy nor feminism; it's situational ethics. To insist otherwise is to degrade democracy and turn feminism into the last refuge of scoundrels.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Explosive disclosures from Scott McCollough in his new book concrning the Bush Presidency, including Iraq, Katrina and more
By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, May 27, 2008; Page A13
If this campaign goes on much longer, what will be left of Hillary Clinton?
A woman uniformly described by her close friends as genuine, principled and sane has been reduced to citing the timing of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination as a reason to stay in the race -- an argument that is ungenuine, unprincipled and insane. She vows to keep pushing, perhaps all the way to the convention in August. What manner of disintegration is yet to come?
For anyone who missed it, Clinton was pleading her cause before the editorial board of the Sioux Falls, S.D., Argus Leader on Friday. Rejecting calls to drop out because her chances of winning have become so slight, she said the following: "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don't understand it."
The point isn't whether you take Clinton at her word that she didn't actually mean to suggest that someone -- guess who? -- might be assassinated. The point is: Whoa, where did that come from?
Setting aside for the moment the ugliness of Clinton's remark, just try to make it hold together. Clinton's basic argument is that attempts to push her out of the race are hasty and premature, since the nomination sometimes isn't decided until June. She cites two election years, 1968 and 1992, as evidence -- but neither is relevant to 2008 because the campaign calendar has been changed.
In 1968, the Democratic race kicked off with the New Hampshire primary on March 12; when Robert Kennedy was killed, the campaign was not quite three months old. In 1992, the first contest was the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 10; by the beginning of June, candidates had been battling for about 3 1/2 months -- and it was clear that Bill Clinton would be the nominee, though he hadn't technically wrapped it up.
This year, the Iowa caucuses were held on Jan. 3, the earliest date ever. Other states scrambled to move their contests up in the calendar as well. When June arrives, the candidates will have been slogging through primaries and caucuses for five full months -- a good deal longer than in those earlier campaign cycles.
So Clinton's disturbing remark wasn't wishful thinking -- as far as I know (to quote Clinton herself, when asked earlier this year about false rumors that her opponent Barack Obama is a Muslim). Clearly, it wasn't logical thinking. It can only have been magical thinking, albeit not the happy-magic kind.
Clinton has always claimed to be the cold-eyed realist in the race, and at one point maybe she was. Increasingly, though, her words and actions reflect the kind of thinking that animates myths and fairy tales: Maybe a sudden and powerful storm will scatter my enemy's ships. Maybe a strapping woodsman will come along and save the day.
Clinton has poured more than $11 million of her own money into the campaign, with no guarantee of ever getting it back. She has changed slogans and themes the way Obama changes his ties. She has been the first major-party presidential candidate in memory to tout her appeal to white voters. She has abandoned any pretense of consistency, inventing new rationales for continuing her candidacy and new yardsticks for measuring its success whenever the old rationales and yardsticks begin to favor Obama.
It could be that any presidential campaign requires a measure of blind faith. But there's a difference between having faith in a dream and being lost in a delusion. The former suggests inner strength; the latter, an inner meltdown.
What Clinton's evocation of RFK suggests isn't that she had some tactical reason for speaking the unspeakable but that she and her closest advisers can't stop running and rerunning through their minds the most far-fetched scenarios, no matter how absurd or even obscene. She gives the impression of having spent long nights convincing herself that the stars really might still align for her -- that something can still happen to make the Democratic Party realize how foolish it has been.
Clinton campaigns as if she knows she will leave some Democrats with bad feelings. That's the Clinton way: Ask forgiveness, not permission. But every day, as more superdelegates trickle to Obama's side, it becomes a surer bet that she will not win. She and her family enjoy good health and fabulous wealth. They'll be fine -- unless, while losing this race for the nomination, Hillary Clinton also loses her soul.
The writer will answer questions at 1 p.m. today athttp://www.washingtonpost.com. His e-mail address email@example.com.
Monday, May 26, 2008
The Clintons want your sympathy this weekend after her RFK remarks and her unacceptable apology. Anything to win.....
Current poll in Montana shows Barack is up, 52%-32% over Hillary. What is Bill talking about?
This is Liz Trotter on Fox News talking about Hillary's RFK Assassination statement and making a joke about killing Senator Obama. Please contact Fox and call for her resignation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-369-4762
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
The Entertainment Critic Movie Review
In Theatres Now Review
Opened May 22, 2008
By James Myers
Rating: 7 of 10
David Koepp (screenplay)
George Lucas (story) and
Jeff Nathanson (story)
George Lucas (characters) and
Philip Kaufman (characters)
Cast (in credits order)
Harrison Ford ... Indiana Jones
Cate Blanchett ... Irina Spalko
Karen Allen ... Marion Ravenwood
Shia LaBeouf ... Mutt Williams
Ray Winstone ... 'Mac' George McHale
John Hurt ... Professor 'Ox' Oxley
Jim Broadbent ... Dean Charles Stanforth
Igor Jijikine ... Dovchenko
Dimitri Diatchenko ... Russian Suit #1
Ilia Volokh ... Russian Suit #2 (as Ilia Volok)
Emmanuel Todorov ... Russian Soldier #1
Pavel Lychnikoff ... Russian Soldier (as Pasha D. Lychnikoff)
Andrew Divoff ... Russian Soldier #3
Venya Manzyuk ... Russian Soldier #4 (as Veniamin Manzyuk)
Alan Dale ... General Ross
Joel Stoffer ... Taylor
Neil Flynn ... Smith
V.J. Foster ... Minister
Chet Hanks ... Student in Library
Brian Knutson ... Letterman #1
Dean Grimes ... Letterman #2 (as Dean L. Grimes)
Sasha Spielberg ... Slugger
Nicole Luther ... Diner Waitress
Sophia Stewart ... Malt Shop Teen
Christopher Todd ... College Brawler #1
Dennis Nusbaum ... College Brawler #2
T. Ryan Mooney ... Teenage Boy
Audi Resendez ... Teenage Girl #1
Helena Barrett ... Teenage Girl #2
Carlos Linares ... Fast Speaking Inmate
Gustavo Hernandez ... Shouting Inmate
Maria Luisa Minelli ... Sanitarium Nun
Nito Larioza ... Cemetery Warrior #1
Ernie Reyes Jr.... Cemetery Warrior #2
Jon Valera ... Cave Warrior
Kevin Collins ... M.P. in Guard Hut
Robert Baker ... M.P. Sergeant
The most anticipated film of the early summer season opened May 22, 2008, to sold out crowds of enthusiastic fans, who wanted to see Indiana Jones again after a 19 year hiatus. George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, and Harrison Ford did not disappoint with their latest effort, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull. This fourth installment of Paramount Pictures wildly popular, fun action adventure series lived up to it’s advanced billing, as a vehicle for summer fun in a throw back to the Saturday afternoon serials of the 1950’s. This one pits an older and wiser Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) against agents of the Soviet Union, led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), in the search for a crystal skull. Indy is aided by his former lover Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), the greaser Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), and fellow archaeologist Mac (Ray Winstone). John Hurt and Jim Broadbent also play fellow academics.
The film opens in 1957 with Colonel-Doctor Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) leading a convoy of Communist Russians infiltrating a military base in the Nevada desert called "Hangar 51", where they force Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) to lead them to an object he had previously studied. When the crate holding it is opened, it contains the remains of an extraterrestrial creature that crashed ten years before in Roswell, New Mexico. When Jones attempts to escape, he is foiled by his old partner, George "Mac" McHale (Ray Winstone), who reveals that he is working with the Soviets. Jones then escapes on a rocket-propelled vehicle into the desert, where he stumbles upon a nuclear test town and survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a lead-lined refrigerator. He is brought to a facility where he is debriefed and discovers that because Mac is a Soviet agent, and Jones himself is under investigation by the FBI for his association with him. Jones returns to Marshall College to find that because of the FBI investigation, he is being offered a leave of absence to avoid being fired. As he is leaving, Jones is stopped by Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) and told that his old colleague, Harold Oxley (John Hurt), disappeared after discovering a crystal skull in Peru.
In Peru, Jones and Mutt discover that Oxley was locked in an insane asylum until Soviet soldiers broke him out. In Oxley's former cell, Jones discovers clues to the grave of Francisco de Orellana, a Conquistador who went missing in the 1500s while seeking Akator (also known as El Dorado). Jones finds the crystal skull that Oxley hid in Orellana's grave in the Nazca Lines. The skull is elongated in the shape that indigenous peoples formed their own skulls into. The Soviets capture Indy and Mutt and take them to the camp where they are holding Oxley and Mutt's mother, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). The Soviets believe the skull is from an extraterrestrial life-form, holding great psychic power. The four escape from the camp, but Indiana and Marion become trapped in dry quicksand. Marion reveals that Mutt is Jones's son. (There is a line of jokes that run through the picture concerning Mutt’s education. Before Jones knows he is his son, he tries to tell Marion that Mutt may not be cut out for school, after he finds Mutt is his son, he continually asks her, “How could you let that boy quit school.”) After a lengthy vehicle chase, several Soviet soldiers are killed by army ants, and finally Mutt, Marion, Mac, Oxley, and Jones ride a truck over a cliff and down three waterfalls. The four then find the Temple of Akator. While being choked by Jones, Mac reveals that he is a double agent working against the Soviets and goes into the temple with Jones and the group.
After entering the Temple, Jones uses the skull to open the door to a chamber tomb. Inside, thirteen crystal skeletons are seated on thrones, with one missing its skull. When the Soviets arrive, Mac reveals that he lied about being a double agent. When Spalko places the skull onto the skeleton, it begins communicating to the group through Oxley using an ancient Mayan dialect. Jones translates this to mean that the aliens want to give them a great gift. Spalko demands to know everything, and the skulls begin firing knowledge into her eyes, causing her to shake. As a portal to another dimension appears over the room, Oxley regains his sanity and explains that the aliens are inter-dimensional beings who taught the Maya their advanced technology. Indy, Mutt, Marion, and Oxley escape from the temple, but Mac is sucked into the portal. The skeletons form into a single alien who continues to feed Spalko with knowledge. However, the knowledge overwhelms Spalko, causing her to ignite into flames and disintegrate, with her essence being absorbed into the portal above. The temple crumbles, and a flying saucer rises from the debris and disappears. Back home, Jones is made the Associate Dean and marries Marion. In a scene where the torch appears about to pass, Mutt bends down to pick up Indy’s famous hat, but Jones takes it from him. Nevertheless, rumors persist that there will be a new Indiana Jones film, and that Shia LaBeouf will play the lead role.
My favorite new character in the film is Mutt Williams, a motorcycle greaser with a thing for switchblade knives. He is a great foil in the picture for Jones, and is action personified. He just looks like a guy you want with you in that dark alley when the fight starts. His leaning curve with Jones make for some of the best scenes in the picture. Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko is wonderful in this picture. The blonde haired beauty is disguised as a Russian with a few Order of Lenin to her credit in a Dutch boy, black haired, do that has me fooled from the start. It is impossible to take your eyes off of her when she is on the screen. Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood gives a steady performance. It was great to see her again.
The film is well directed and written. The sets were perfect, the customs were right on, and the special effects at times were breathtaking. There are some lulls in the film, but from the Indy hooks up with Mutt until the conclusion, the action is non-stop. This picture reminds me very much of the other Jones pictures and the serial type films that you used to see on Saturday afternoons in the 50’s when Flash Gordon left you hanging with a cliffhanger every week and keep you coming back to see how it would come out. According to business reports, the film will need to gross at least $400 million to make a profit for Paramount. Unlike other film franchises, they are only the distributor of Indiana Jones, whose copyright is owned by Lucasfilm, and their original deal entailed they would only earn 12.5% of the film's revenue. As the $185 million budget was larger than the original $125 million estimate. Lucas, Spielberg, and Ford turned down large upfront salaries so Paramount could cover the film's costs. Paramount will only see a profit beyond its distribution fee if it grosses over $400 million. At that point Lucas, Spielberg, Ford, and those with smaller profit-sharing deals will also begin to collect their cut. On its opening day in North America, the film grossed around $25 million, the fourth biggest Thursday opening yet. This weekend it will be interesting to see how the film does. Roger Ebert, who gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, said it best, "I can say that if you liked the other Indiana Jones movies, you will like this one, and that if you did not, there is no talking to you.” This film is worthy of its predecessors and is great way to spend a summer evening.
McCain still has a former (?)lobbyist on his staff, Charles Black. Influence over the candidate?
John, I haven't forgotten about you this weekend. Nice of you to give gay persons the right to contract and bring a lawsuit to redress their grieviances. But you do not agree with gay marriage, and the public desrves to know that. These are God-given rights, and things we are guaranteed under our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They don't come from you John. The recognition of these basic rights is long overdue, and the fear based politics of the past is coming to an end.
This is a very good discussion of why the RFK assassination as a reason for Hillary Clinton to stay in the campaign is unacceptable, and why her campaign for President should not continue
Analysis of why the reamrks made by Hillary Clinton indicate it may be time for her campaign to go
Friday, May 23, 2008
Keith Olbermann's special comment on May 23, 2008 concerning Hillary Clinton's remarks about her staying in the campaingn until June and referencing that to the RFK assassination; her remarks were inappropriate and her apology was inadequate
Apologies notwithstanding, there are some things you just do not say in a Presidential campaign. It doesn’t matter how hard you work; how tired you are or what is on your mind. There are some things that demonstrate conclusively that the speech you are engaging in is in bad taste, is improper and at the best can be called poor judgment. The kind of poor judgment that indicates you are not really and truly qualified to be President of The United States.
Hillary Clinton said just such a thing today while in South Dakota, meeting with the Editorial Board of the Argus Leader newspaper, in advance of the June 2d primary in South Dakota. She was defending her position to stay in the race until June, possibly until the time of the convention, when she stated history was on her side as evidence of past nominating time periods not wrapping up until June, “My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary, somewhere in the middle of June, right?" Clinton said in an interview with the Argus Leader newspaper editorial board.
"We all remember, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California, I don't understand it," Clinton said.
The remarks can be read to say that Mrs. Clinton is remaining in the race, just in case someone assassinates Barack Obama, and that history shows that it is possible to obtain the parties nomination as late as June for that reason, even if you are behind. Remarks of this type do not belong in a Presidential campaign. Whether she meant to or not, this sounds like the kind of wishful thinking that has caused our country to lose great men in the past. Whether she meant to or not, this is the kind of statement that can jar the imagination of persons less than stable. This shows bad judgment at a time when we need our political leaders’ best judgment. This raised a question about her fitness to lead, her political judgment, her ability to answer that 3 am call; to be ready to lead on day 1. Or any other day for that matter. This points out why she is called “the most divisive figure in American history”. In this campaign, she has try to divide the country by race, by sex and by class to obtain what she seems to feel is an office that she is entitled to. She has misstated her popular vote figures, her delegate figures, and the actual figures need to win the nomination. There has been a constant threat to drag out the process through the convention, and the Rules Committee to obtain what she wants. There have been made statements from the Clinton camp acting as pressure points to accept her as the Vice Presidential nominee. You cannot help but form the impression that she and her campaign, her husband and Mr. Harold Ickes, will stop at nothing to achieve their objective of moving back into the White House in 2009.
But this time she went too far. The Obama campaign was quick to respond, “"Senator Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign."
This is not the first time she has made similar remarks during this campaign. After the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, she stated, “"Sometimes you gotta calm people down a little bit. But if you look at successful presidential campaigns, my husband did not get the nomination until June of 1992. I remember tragically when Senator Kennedy won California near the end of that process."
In fact, the assassination/nomination idea was first raised in this campaign on January 8, when a Clinton introducer, a retired teacher from New Hampshire, brought it up before Clinton spoke. "If you look back, some people have been comparing one of the other candidates to JFK, and he was a wonderful leader. He gave us a lot of hope," the retired teacher said. "But he was assassinated, and Lyndon Baines Johnson actually did all of his work and got both the Republicans and Democrats to pass those measures."
Do we really want a President or a Vice President who thinks in such terms? All of the angles include succession by assassination, so that why I opposed to people trying to ‘push me out of the race?’
In fairness, Mrs. Clinton did issue an apology, “"I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever. My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to and I'm honored to hold Sen. Kennedy's seat in the United States Senate in the state of New York, and have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family."
This is too little, too late. A small sampling of the response to her remarks by the general public can be found on MSNBC’s website. Here is just an example:
“This is unreal. Hand the nomination to me, even though I can't win, because you know the black guy's going to get shot.The Clintons have done and said enough insulting things throughout this campaign to keep me from ever supporting any member of their family in any political endeavor for the rest of my life. This is abhorrent. The supers need to shove her out of this race, now.”
Or how about this one,
“Every time I think she can't stoop any lower, I am proven wrong. Hillary Clinton is despicable. The Super Delegates new to quit being such cowards and endorse Obama now. If this doesn't shut up all those people claiming an Obama/Hillary ticket is a "dream ticket" then nothing will. It is absolutely disgusting that Hillary would try to use the assassination of RFK to advance her already pathetic arguments, likely requiring a response from the Kennedy family, especially in light of what they are already going through. She is either a truly vile human being, or she needs mental help.”
To use the assassination of man who may have been one of the greatest leaders in American history as an example of a reason to stay in a race, where mathematically, you cannot win is one of the poorest justifications of all time. Another great, insightful man who could bring about badly needed change to our nation is poised to take the nomination. Barack Obama has consistently exercised good judgment, and has demonstrated the intellect and temperament consistent with the office of President. Hillary Clinton is not worthy of your vote, and she is not worthy of holding either the office of President or Vice President. Bill wants her to be one heartbeat away from obtaining the office? Who thinks like this? What conversations has she had with her husband and campaign staff that connects the thoughts, she make a good Vice President and let’s see if he makes it to Denver? Expect the undecided Super Delegates to become Obama supporters very soon. And Hillary, while you are issuing apologies, how about one to Barack and his family? Or didn’t you think that far ahead?
Thursday, May 22, 2008
When I was a little boy, my mother would play board games with me during the day to pass the time, or so I thought. What she was really doing was trying to teach me right from wrong. Before we’d play any game of “Sorry” or “Candy Land”, or “Hooks and Ladders,” she would explain the rules of the game to me. She would explain that we had to agree that the game would be played by these rules, and once the game started, the rules would not be changed. She would tell me to play my best, but more importantly, to be a good sport, so I would learn to work and play well with other children who would play games with me in the future. My mother was spending time with me, it was something to, and so I readily agreed. What I had forgotten about was that my mother was older than me, smarter than me, and she had probably played the game before; maybe with her sister, my Aunt Mary, when they were little girls.
Invariably, about midway through the game, I realized not only was I loosing badly, but that the outcome had been decided and there was no way I could win. I had been shut out, whipped, beaten, demolished, and destroyed. That is unless the rules of the game could be changed, so that I could have an advantage to catch up or even to pass her. I mean after all, I’m 3 years old, I’m just a kid, isn’t she supposed to let me win? Aren’t I entitled to victory? What’s up with this “let’s clobber the little guy” stuff? I tried everything. I protested, pouted, stick my lip out, sobbed, screamed, and in general lobbied as hard as I could for a rule change, a break, something, anything to help me get back into the game. But my mother was a stickler for the rules; “rules are rules” she’d say. The result was the unavoidable, embarrassing loss. The crocodile tears would come and I would answer her, “no fair.” That is what I genuinely felt. I sure did not have an abiding affection for the rules.
She would use a handkerchief, and wipe my tears away, and she lower her face and look at me eyeball to eyeball the way mothers do, and she’d say to me, “Jimmy, nobody likes a poor looser. You agreed to play by the rules. You play by the rules. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe next time you’ll win. I want you to learn to play nice with your friends, and to follow the rules. You do your best. It is not whether you win or loose, but how you play the game. You have to learn to be a good sport.”
It was one of the largest epiphanies of my young life. This was not the end of the world. I’d get another chance, another time. I’m not entitled to win all the time. It’s not whether you win or loose. It really is how you play the game. Doing my best within the rules was really the best I could do. I was not better than anyone else, they could win, too. And that is not only ok, but expected.
On August 31st, 2007, Howard Dean, The Chairman of the Democratic National Committee send a letter to all of the candidates indicating that only 4 states would be permitted to hold their primary elections prior to February 5th, 2008: Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. (Rules). If a state other than the 4 held a primary before that date, the penalty was that the state’s delegates would not be seated, or counted toward the total necessary to nominate the Democratic Party’s nominee. Florida and Michigan did not comply with the rules, and moved their primaries up before that date. The penalty came into effect and they lost all of their delegates.
On September 1, 2007, the Clinton Campaign agreed with the rules spelled out in the letter; Florida and Michigan had moved up their primary. They lost their delegates. Those delegates would not count towards that nominating total for the Democratic nominee. At that time, Senator Clinton was “a prohibitive favorite” thought to be entitled to the nomination simply because she had stuck by Bill Clinton through all his messes while he was President. Bill “owed her.” America “owed her.” It was “her turn.” As you will remember there were a lot of other candidates at the start of the process, including a young, upstart, junior Senator from Illinois who gave a whale of a speech at the last Democratic Convention. Although he was a player in the game, and as I learned as a child, all players start out equal, and anyone can and will win, no one gave Barack Obama much of a chance. But as the game progressed, he played very well and he surprised a lot of people. Suddenly, Mrs. Clinton was the underdog and no longer the favorite. Barack was closing in on victory.
In February of 2008, when the pledge to agree to the rules did not favor Mrs. Clinton any more, she wanted to change the rules in the middle of the game. She now wanted the delegates seated and their votes should count. She was loosing. She was entitled. Rules should not disenfranchise so many voters, particularly when she needs those votes to win. Rules were made to be broken. Michigan and Florida should have a say, even when they broke the rules, even after both the Clinton camps and the Obama camps agreed before the game started to abide by the rules. This is despite the fact that neither camp campaigned in those states and in Michigan, Mr. Obama was not even on the ballot. How can the game be fair if one player follows the rules and on the verge of winning, the other player calls time out and changes the rules? This has nothing to do with race, or sex, or gender, or disenfranchisement. This is not people trying to push Hillary out. Everyone can still vote in the general election. This has to do with playing fairly, and not changing the game, just because you are loosing. This is one of those, “I learned everything I need to know about life when I was in kindergarten” type situations.
I lost my mother a few years ago, but I bet if she was here, she’d take Hillary aside, and she’d tell her, “Hillary, nobody likes a poor looser. You agreed to play by the rules. You play by the rules. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe next time you’ll win. I want you to learn to play nice with your friends, and to follow the rules. You do your best. It is not whether you win or loose, but how you play the game. You have to learn to be a good sport.”
Remember, this was wise advice when I was three because if I did not play by the rules of the game, that was like cheating and then no one else would want to play with me, ever again. Check out this link on MSNBC, (http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/05/21/1049655.aspx) where because of this Florida vote, Hillary is now comparing herself to Al Gore, stating she has won the “popular vote” but due to procedures may be deprived of the nomination. There is blow back against her. Here is an example:
“We in Florida were told that our votes would not count so majority of my friends and neighbors didn't vote. For her to say we didn't count back then and now we do has turned off all of voters here. People have come to realize that she is a farce. Barak has a huge rally on Friday and we will be attending, cause we believe he has a plan for this country. Go Obama 08.”
The permanent loss of credibility whether you are 3 or 53 is a tough thing to face. The Democratic Party will be united and vote as one in November. The people of Florida and Michigan will vote and be counted in the general election, and in all likelihood be seated at the convention in Denver. Will anyone take Hillary Clinton seriously again as their candidate for President? One other thing about this cheating thing my mother taught me; Cheaters never prosper.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
The Entertainment Critic Music Review By James Myers
Release Date: 04/15/2008
Catalog No.: 001027202
Sales Rank: 18
Mariah Carey: Primary Artist, Background Vocals
Crystal Johnson: Background Vocals
Mariah Carey: Producer, Executive Producer
Jermaine Dupri: Producer
Bernie Grundman: Mastering
Benny Medina: Management
James Poyser: Producer
L.A. Reid: Executive Producer
Manuel Seal Jr. Producer
Scott Storch: Producer
Damian "Junior Gong" Marley: Guest Appearance
Kuk Harrell: Engineer
Michael Richardson: Management
Chris "Tricky" Stewart: Producer
Doug Joswick: Package Production
Brian Garten: Engineer
Swizz Beatz: Producer
John Horesco IV: Engineer
Bryan-Michael Cox: Producer
Tor Erik Hermanson: Instrumentation
Mark Sudack: Executive Producer, Management
Kelly "Becky 4 Real" Sheehan: Engineer
Carol Corless: Package Production
Derrick Selby: Engineer
Mikkel S. Eriksen: Engineer, Instrumentation
James "Scrappy" Stassen: Engineer
Nick Banns: Engineer
Bishop Clarence Keaton: Guest Appearance
Gina Rainville: Management
Melissa Ruderman: Management
1 Migrate / T-Pain 4:17
2 Touch My Body 3:24
3 Cruise Control / Damian "Junior Gong" Marley 3:32
4 I Stay in Love 3:32
5 Side Effects / Young Jeezy 4:22
6 I'm That Chick 3:31
7 Love Story 3:56
8 I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time 3:01
9 Last Kiss 3:36
10 Thanx 4 Nothin' 3:05
11 O.O.C. 3:26
12 For the Record 3:26
13 Bye Bye 4:26
14 I Wish You Well 4:35
E=MC² DEBUTED AT NUMBER ONE ON THE BILLBOARD 200 WITH 463,000 COPIES SOLD, MAKING IT THE BIGGEST OPENING WEEK SALES OF HER CAREER. WITH SIX NUMBER ONE ALBUMS, CAREY IS NOW TIED WITH JANET JACKSON IN THE U.S. FOR THE THIRD MOST NUMBER ONE ALBUMS FOR A FEMALE ARTIST, BEHIND MADONNA WITH SEVEN AND BARBRA STREISAND'S EIGHT CHART TOPPERS. IN ITS SECOND WEEK, THE ALBUM TOPPED THE CHART AGAIN WITH 182,000 COPIES SOLD. E=MC² IS CAREY'S FIRST ALBUM TO SPEND TWO STRAIGHT WEEKS AT #1 SINCE 1995'S DAYDREAM. THE ALBUM HAS SOLD 827,000 COPIES TO DATE.
ON THE UK ALBUM CHART, IT DEBUTED AT NUMBER THREE, SELLING 34,800 COPIES. THIS WAS HER HIGHEST PEAK POSITION IN THE UK SINCE BUTTERFLY, WHICH PEAKED AT NUMBER TWO. IT DEBUTED AT THE TOP ON THE UNITED WORLD CHART WITH 617,000 COPIES SOLD AND HELD THE TOP POSITION FOR ANOTHER WEEK, SELLING 1,075,000 UNITS TO DATE.[ IN THE PHILIPPINES, THE ALBUM REACHED GOLD STATUS SELLING OVER 15,000 COPIES IN JUST EIGHT DAYS.
ON APRIL 15, 2008, THE SAME DAY THE ALBUM WAS RELEASED, MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA PROCLAIMED APRIL 15 OFFICIALLY AS "MARIAH CAREY DAY" IN LOS ANGELES. IT WAS IN PART OF CELEBRATING CAREY'S EIGHTEENTH NUMBER ONE SINGLE, "TOUCH MY BODY". ALSO, ON APRIL 25, 2008 THROUGH APRIL 27, 2008; THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING WAS LIT UP IN CAREY'S MOTIF COLORS — LAVENDER, PINK, AND WHITE — IN CELEBRATION OF HER ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE WORLD OF MUSIC. CAREY IS THE FIRST PERSON IN HISTORY TO BE HONORED IN THIS EVENT.
The issue with Mariah Carey has been and always will be the same; is she a great pop artist and singer, or is she a diva with too much pretense and French pastry in her music to be taken seriously? All too frequently in the past, the gifted singer with the 8 octave range has taken us on a joyride, a “need to decorate every damn song with more octaves than Maria Callas,” and very little emotion or substance. Her last album, The Emancipation of Mimi was a near perfect album that featured more of her emotional rather than her vocal range. E=MC2 is a better album, if that is possible, where we see a free and easy Mariah, that has produced a pop album, that is, "equal parts levity and gravity.” If Mimi was her coming out party, than E=MC2 is her coming home party; an artist that is in control and is totally comfortable in her skin. To be blunt, this is one of the year’s best.
E=MC² is the eleventh studio album by American pop and R&B singer Mariah Carey. The album was released on April 15, 2008 in the United States. The album name means "(E) Emancipation (=) equals (MC) Mariah Carey (²) to the second power". It is a play on Einstein's famous mass–energy equivalence formula and is the sequel to her 2005 album, The Emancipation of Mimi.
The album's music appeals to a lot of genres such as Pop, R&B and Hip hop, but some of her songs also include Gospel and Reggae beats. She experiments for the first time with reggae tones on "Cruise Control" and also uses a Jamaican patois during the second verse. On "Side Effects" she speaks about her marriage to Tommy Mottola describing it as a "private hell", the "emotional abuse" she saw during this time and the side effects from which she still suffers. MTV's author Jennifer Vineyard said it's "like a rock power ballad" and compared the music style to that of Bonnie Tyler and Pat Benatar. Two songs from the album sample melodies of other songs: one of them is the Seventies-soul-recalling "I'm That Chick" which samples Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall". The other song is "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time," which samples DeBarge's "Stay with Me" and recalls the melodic riff of the "Hill Street Blues" theme music. Her second single "Bye Bye" is about the loss of her father, Alfred Roy, who died of cancer in 2002, and his absence during her childhood. Although the lyrics of the song mostly seems to be personal, she tries to keep the topic universal, so that everybody "who just lost somebody" can refer to it. The closing track "I Wish You Well" is a piano ballad kept simple with gospel influences. In the song she quotes some parts from the Bible.
Her music has this floating, ethereal quality to it. It is a soothing experience that makes you feel rested, peaceful. A fluttering warbler, this music soars. It is a quiet, reflective, emotional experience that leaves you wanting more. Mariah dresses like a diva, but she sings like an angel; a gift that reminiscent of some of the best female singers of all time. A girls girl, her personality and warmth is reflected in ever single song. Guaranteed to make you imagination drift, this one is like a warm summer breeze. One of a kind, dreamy and romantic, Mariah the singer has finally emerged.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The Entertainment Critic Music Review By James Myers
Release Date: 04/29/2008
Label: WARNER BROS / WEA
Catalog No.: 421372
Sales Rank: 6
Madonna: Primary Artist
Stevie Blacke: Strings
Wendy Melvoin: Guitar
Dan Warner: Guitar
Hannon B. Lane: Keyboards
Timbaland: Drums, DJ
Andrew Coleman: Guitar
Justin Timberlake: Guitar, Background Vocals
Monte Pittman: Guitar
Madonna: Producer, Executive Producer
Chris Gehringer: Mastering
Mark "Spike" Stent: Engineer
Hannon B. Lane: Producer
Andrew Coleman: Engineer
The Neptunes: Producer
Justin Timberlake: Producer
Giovanni Bianco: Art Direction
Ron Taylor: Digital Editing
Alex Dromgoole: Engineer
Marcella "Ms. Lago" Araica: Engineer
Hard Candy’s Tracks
1 Candy Shop 4:15
2 4 Minutes / Justin Timberlake 4:03
3 Give It 2 Me 4:47
4 Heartbeat 4:03
5 Miles Away 4:48
6 She's Not Me 6:04
7 Incredible 6:19
8 Beat Goes on / Kanye West 4:26
9 Dance 2night 5:03
10 Spanish Lesson 3:37
11 Devil Wouldn't Recognize You 5:08
12 Voices 3:39
REGARDED AS "ONE OF THE GREATEST POP ACTS OF ALL TIME", SHE HAS BEEN DUBBED THE "QUEEN OF POP" BY THE MEDIA
BEGINNING WITH THE RELEASE OF HER SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM IN 1983, MADONNA ROSE TO STARDOM PRODUCING THREE CONSECUTIVE NUMBER ONE STUDIO ALBUMS ON THE BILLBOARD 200; LIKE A VIRGIN (1984), TRUE BLUE (1986), AND LIKE A PRAYER (1989). THOUGH THE ENTERTAINER FACED COLDER CRITICAL RECEPTION AND MORE MODEST SALES ON SUBSEQUENT ALBUMS EROTICA (1992) AND BEDTIME STORIES (1994), SHE GARNERED CRITICAL ACCLAIM WITH THE RELEASE OF HER SEVENTH STUDIO ALBUM RAY OF LIGHT (1998), WHICH OPENED AT NUMBER TWO. MADONNA CONTINUED TO REMAIN IN THE FOREFRONT OF POP MUSIC WITH FOUR MORE CONSECUTIVE NUMBER ONE STUDIO ALBUMS; MUSIC (2000) AMERICAN LIFE (2003) CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR (2005) AND HARD CANDY (2008).
MADONNA IS RANKED BY THE RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA AS THE "BEST SELLING FEMALE ROCK ARTIST OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY" AND THE SECOND TOP-SELLING FEMALE ARTIST IN THE UNITED STATES (BEHIND BARBRA STREISAND) WITH 63 MILLION CERTIFIED ALBUMS. ACCORDING TO GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS, SHE IS THE "WORLD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL FEMALE RECORDING ARTIST OF ALL TIME” AND THE TOP EARNING FEMALE SINGER IN THE WORLD WITH AN ESTIMATED NET WORTH OF OVER $400 MILLION, HAVING SOLD OVER 200 MILLION ALBUMS WORLDWIDE. BILLBOARD REPORTED THAT HER 2006 CONFESSIONS TOUR HOLDS THE RECORD FOR THE HIGHEST GROSSING CONCERT TOUR BY A FEMALE ARTIST. ON MARCH 10, 2008, SHE WAS INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME.
MADONNA MADE HER ACTING DEBUT WITH THE LOW-BUDGET FEATURE FILM A CERTAIN SACRIFICE (1979) AND WENT ON TO STAR IN THE 1985 BOX OFFICE HIT DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, HER FIRST STARRING ROLE. SHE THEN STARRED IN THE RELATIVELY UNSUCCESSFUL SHANGHAI SURPRISE (1986), BODY OF EVIDENCE (1993), THE NEXT BEST THING (2000) AND SWEPT AWAY (2002) — IN ADDITION TO NUMEROUS SUPPORTING ROLES AND CAMEO APPEARANCES. SHE ALSO STARRED IN THE BOX OFFICE HITS DICK TRACY (1990), A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992) AND EVITA (1996) — BASED ON THE MUSICAL OF THE SAME NAME, WHICH EARNED HER A GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS - MOTION PICTURE MUSICAL OR COMEDY.
HARD CANDY SOLD 100,000 COPIES IN THE UNITED STATES UPON ITS FIRST DAY OF RELEASE
THIS CD IS THE 7TH WHERE MADONNA HAS DEBUTED AT #1
THE RECORD IS HELD BY BARBARA STREISAND WITH 8 #1 DÉBUTS
THE ALBUM HAS SO FAR DEBUTED AT NUMBER ONE IN 27 COUNTRIES
“Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mindYou just keep on pushing my love over the borderline”
Chorus from Madonna’s “Borderline”
There are 2 distinct phases to Madonna’s career; the first was her wildly popular dance music of the 1980’s when we first meet the free spirit, sexy dresser that revolutionized women’s popular music; the second is the social, modern impressionistic political/religious commentary that many of her older listeners struggled to understand. Her new album, Hard Candy, represents a fusion of the 2 with a return to definite dance music, mixed with deep, searing lyrics that may be best listened to alone at home in the dark. Dance fever meets the urban legend in Hard Candy. This is her last studio album to be released under her contract with Warner Brothers, and last week it debuted at # 1 to an accepting audience that has been waiting for her eventual return to moving dance and pop music.
Not that this album doesn’t have a hip hop feel; it clearly does, but at its heart it is a pop/dance record with “an urban direction.” Her collaborator, Justin Timberlake in a recent interview stated, “It's kinda like 'Holiday' with an R&B groove." He went on to say "It’s an R&B/pop/dance record, but it’s still Madonna... A couple of times I pushed her in a direction where it took a minute before we saw eye to eye. Her approach was, 'Well, I just haven’t done that' and I was like, 'Yeah, that’s why you should do it.' This is why the album has pop/dance music reminding us of her origins and sharp, edgy, pointed lyrics that make you feel ever so slightly uncomfortable. But as a mix, it works and for those old dance music fans, it seems to be close enough.
The album features vocal appearances by Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West along with production credits from Timbaland, Timberlake, The Neptunes, and Nate "Danja" Hills as well as co-production from Madonna. Wendy Melvoin is guest guitarist on "She's Not Me".
My favorite song on the album is "4 Minutes" featuring Justin Timberlake. "4 Minutes" has reached number one in twenty-three countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Greece, Switzerland and Norway and the United World Chart. Madonna holds the record for the artist with the most number one hits worldwide. The beat and production are unmistakably Timberlake, and this one borders on a rocker.
The other great songs on this one are “Candy Shop” and “Give it to me” which will be released as a single in July. “Candy Shop” in particular proves my point. It has a dance number sound that reminds you of songs, “Like A Virgin” and “Material Girl,” but if you listen closely to the lyrics and check out the Madonna the sadist bombshell on the cover, (did you know that she is 49 years old, sure couldn’t tell by that cover), you get the feeling that we are discussing dominatrix behaviors, and thus she has somehow managed to maintain her controversial content. The first time you hear, “Give it to me” it definitely identifies itself right away as a classic Madonna song. Rhythmic, moving and fun, this one sounds like a perfect dance number; one you will be hearing blaring out of car windows all summer long. It has that “let’s play it again,” over and over and over quality to it. I may well be the biggest smash on this CD.
Overall this album is off the hook. You cannot listen to the music and sit still and maybe that’s what her fans want from her. Rolling Stone said it best, “Hard Candy is the work of "a songwriting team of American chart royalty" that help "revisit her roots as an urban-disco queen.” Watch for her new tour to start around August. For all you dance fans, the material girl is back, but she’s leaner and meaner; older and wiser. I think you’re going to like it all the same. This one is a reminder of the original greatness of a uniquely American artist that had young girls all over the country “Going Madonna.” This one is a keeper for a hot, summer day.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
THE ENTERTAINMENT CRITIC BOOK REVIEW, BY JAMES MYERS
By Harlan Coben
Published by: Dutton, a Division of The Penguin Group (USA)
Publication Date: April, 2008
Five Star Rating *****
HARLAN COBEN (BORN JANUARY 4, 1962) IS A JEWISH AMERICAN AUTHOR OF MYSTERY NOVELS. THE PLOTS OF HIS NOVELS OFTEN INVOLVE THE RESURFACING OF UNRESOLVED OR MISINTERPRETED EVENTS IN THE PAST (SUCH AS MURDERS, FATAL ACCIDENTS, ETC.) AND OFTEN HAVE MULTIPLE PLOT TWISTS. BOTH SERIES OF COBEN'S BOOKS ARE SET IN AND AROUND NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, AND SOME OF THE SUPPORTING CHARACTERS IN TWO SERIES OF NOVELS HAVE APPEARED IN BOTH. HIS NOVELS ARE MOST POPULAR IN THE UNITED STATES AND FRANCE
LAST 7 NOVELS HAVE APPEARED AT THE TOP OF ALL MAJOR BEST SELLER LISTS, INCLUDING THE NEW YORK TIMES, BOOK SENSE, THE TIMES (LONDON) LE MONDE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, USA TODAY, & THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
THE WOODS WAS ON THE BEST SELLERS LISTS ACROSS AMERICA AND ALONG WITH PROMISE ME WAS NAMED ONE OF THE BEST THRILLERS OF THE YEAR BY LIBRARY JOURNAL
HIS BOOKS HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED IN 38 LANGUAGES AND OVER 40 MILLION COPIES HAVE BEEN SOLD WORLDWIDE
HOLD TIGHT PUBLISHED IN THE US ON APRIL 15, 2008 QUICKLY ASCENDED TO THE TOP OF THE NY TIMES BEST SELLER LIST THE WEEK OF MAY 1-8, 2008
AWARDS: 2001-TELL NO ONE: NOMINATED FOR EDGAR, ANTHONY, MACAVITY, NERO, BARRY, AUDIE, # 1 HARDCOVER ON BOOK SENSE 76 LIST, MOST DECORATED THRILLER OF 2001
2003-NO SECOND CHANCE FIRST EVER INTERNATIONAL BOOK OF THE MONTH FOR BOOKSPAN
SINCE 1995: WON AN EDGAR, SHAMUS, AND ANTHONY ---FIRST WRITER TO WIN ALL 3
ON THE SHORTLIST FOR THE BRITISH BOOK AWARDS AUTHOR OF THE YEAR (OSCAR OF THE BOOK TRADE). THE 1ST AMERICAN TO MAKE THE LIST
FILMS: TELL NO ONE RELEASED AS A FILM IN FRANCE IN 2006, GROSSED OVER $32 MILLION; TO BE RELEASED IN US IN THE SUMMER OF 2008; VARIETY CALLS THE FILM, “A SHARP, EFFICIENT PACKAGE.”
TELEVISION: FOX TV HAS PURCHASED THE RIGHTS TO THE POPULAR MYRON BOLITAR SERIES FOR A PILOT BY BONES
“The van was white with tinted windows. The back doors were open like a mouth waiting to swallow her whole. And standing there, right by those doors, now taking hold of Marianne and pushing her up inside the van, was the man with the bushy mustache.
Marianne tried to pull up, but it was no use.
Mustache tossed her in as if she was a sack of peat moss. She landed on the van’s floor with a thud. He crawled in, closed the back doors, and stood over her. Marianne rolled into a fetal position. Her stomach still ached, but fear was taking over now.
The man peeled off his mustache and smiled at her. The van started moving. Straw Hair must be driving.
“Hi Marianne,” he said.
She couldn’t move, couldn’t breath. He sat next to her, pulled his fist back, and punched her hard in the stomach.
If the pain had been bad before, it went to another dimension now.
“Where’s the tape? he asked.
And then he began to hurt her for real.”
“HOW MUCH SHOULD PARENTS REALLY WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THEIR KIDS?”---Dutton Publishing
One of the greatest thriller writers in history is back with a provocative new novel, Hold Tight. Harlan Coben weaves of tale that combines intrigue and technology in this incredible page turner. Seemingly divergent plots weave a tale of sex and death in the best edge of your seat story of 2008. Coben has a knack for taking the mundane occurrences in life and turning them upside down into scary thrillers that are among the most compulsive page turners in writing history. He singled handedly has invented what has been referred to as “the family thriller.” The family thriller involves tingling situations where ordinary people are forced to confront modern day fears when they are placed in situations that rapidly become beyond their control. You always have that, “but for the grace of God, there go I,” feeling when you read Coben’s books. His newest effort, Hold Tight is just such a book. Coben boldly expands on the family thriller in this joyride of a book.
Hold Tight asks the simple questions: what would you do to keep your kids safe? Are you willing to spy on your kids to keep them for harm? How far is too far? How far is not far enough? Are there things you do not want to know about your children? In this book, Coben takes unforeseen events and weaves multiple plots into an amazing climax, all the while asking the question: How do you weigh your child’s privacy against the parent’s right to know? Do parents have ‘the right or the duty’ to spy on their children to keep them safe? How can you tell what is normal rebellious teenage behavior from an out of control cry for help? In his 15th novel, Coben addresses these questions and scares the dickens out of us, in this well-crafted thriller.
Tia and Mike Baye have a normal family, (kinda like Ward & June Cleaver) complete with an 11 year old precocious daughter, and a hockey loving teenage son. But sixteen year old Adam suddenly becomes distant and sullen after his best friend, Spencer Hill suddenly commits suicide. The parents become more and more concerned. Finally, out of desperation, they install a spyware program on Adam’s computer, the will appraise them of every e-mail, IM, and text message he sends and receives. When a message comes to their attention, “Just stay quiet and all safe,” they are jolted. Spencer Hill supposedly died alone, but Spencer’s mother, Betsy Hill, discovers that Adam may have been with Spencer the night before his death. Before anyone can get to the bottom of just what Adam knows about Spencer’s death, Adam disappears. Mike Baye, a doctor and Tia Baye, a lawyer, are not the types to just sit around, so action is taken to find Adam. Long hidden secrets in the neighborhood and among its children begin to surface. At the same time, one woman is found dead and another is missing, and somehow the police suspect all of these matters are connected to Dr. Baye and his missing prescription pads. This could cost Dr. Mike everything.
As if Mike Baye isn’t dealing with enough, he also learns that Lucas Loriman, the sweet kid who grew up next door, is in urgent need of a kidney transplant. As the boy’s doctor, Mike suddenly finds himself in possession of an explosive secret that threatens to rip the Loriman family apart.
Eleven year Jill Baye is sticking by her best friend Yasmin after a teacher at school made such a devastating remark to her, that her classmates have teased her to the point where Yasmin and her hard-luck, single parent father are considering moving away. This is something Jill does not want to happen.
Mike’s best hope is to track Adam by using the GPS on his phone. Somehow Adam is connected to a strange teen club in Manhattan and a killer who is on the loose named Nash who takes a little too much pleasure in his work. Randomly, yet selectively killing women in the neighborhood, the police seem to think these women knew each other. “We're not even sure what he's trying to accomplish: just that he's very, very good at it; and very, very scary.” Nash is the scariest character I’ve read so far this year.
This is by far and away Coben’s best book to date. He spins several plotlines that at first seem disconnected and then slowly weaves them into a tale that is frightening, and intriguing at the same time. In this book, we are witnesses to a master storyteller who takes us on a giant thrill ride from start to finish. This is the freshest family thriller of 2008, and Coben is clearly at the top of his game. Don’t let anyone interrupt you when you read this one. There is too much going on to answer the phone. Gripping and thrilling, this one is masterful. Harlan, clear off a few spots on that award shelf at home, you’re about to collect some more hardware. Nearly a perfect book, this one is almost a 6 star effort. The inventor of the family thriller is at the top of his craft, and if you read only one book this summer…