May 31, 2009

'Dead Rising 2' Trailer

I didn't even play the first 'Dead Rising' - sadly, I have a PS3 and not an XBox - but this game looks crazy. It doesn't have any actual gameplay, I don't think, but it does have a lot of what I do like: zombies doing zombie shit. So there's that.

May 28, 2009

Does That Race Bait Ever Catch Any Fish?

What we are seeing right now is a very sly move on the part of conservative pundits and talking heads - from the incomprehensible and increasingly opaque Mr. Limbaugh to the relatively insubstantial Glen Beck - in their criticisms of Sonia Sotomayor. They call her a "racist" and a "bigot". Limbaugh goes so far as to call her a "hack" and a "reverse racist". I will not say that members of Congress have leveled such a claim upon her, because they have allowed right-wing hatchet men to do that for them. Suddenly, the Republicans have become the spineless Democrats, since their only claims on Sotomayor so far is that her views are "troubling". This sort of nonexistent critique of a potential candidate is "troubling" to me and bad for the country. When all you have is a Party of No in the Republicans and a Party of Whatever in the Democrats, then it does not speak very well of our country's direction.

But I digress.

What makes the right-wing punditry's criticisms of Sotomayor so sly is that the intention is to draw out race-baiting from the side of the Dems to curry favor for the candidate. If the Dems come out in public and say, "Mrs. Sotomayor, who is a Hispanic woman, is being attacked because..." then the other side has the advantage. It turns into an issue of whether or not she is being hoisted up for the Supreme Court for her ethnicity rather than her policies, and that does not bode well for an administration promising change as its main slogan.

The Democrats have begun to take the bait, though probably not with as much vigor as the right would like, and it will be interesting to see just how far the argument about race will go.

What is troubling is that it is the same defense that Limbaugh did give in defending Alberto Gonzales when he was to be confirmed as Attorney General and what, I'm sure, Glen Beck would have said, were he able to say anything. Limbaugh carried Gonzales's ethnicity like a banner when defending him, and it worked, to a certain extent. Democratic members of Congress had to backpedal and insist that their criticisms, which, I admit, were valid, had to do with his policies and not his race, which only muddled the waters and allowed any true criticisms of Mr. Gonzales to be lost in the shuffle.

And the opposite is true. What people like Limbaugh have done is take the race card and play it successfully against those who have historically played it, getting the other side to take the bait and make the debate over matters revolve around race and not the issue. That is an inherent weakness of Democrats. They do not, by the way, take the high road; that is not my implication. They are simply too afraid of offending anyone to not be sucked into the race debate, and that is how they often lose these ostensible PR campaigns.

If the race card can be played to muddy the waters on a person's lack of credentials for an office, it can also be done to muddy the waters when a person is clearly qualified, as Mrs. Sotomayor seems to be. That is what members of the right have discovered, and, though the tactic doesn't always work - I imagine that Sonia Sotomayor will be selected for the Supreme Court - it is a tactic that can almost always be used in the absence of a political smoking gun.

May 22, 2009

Surrogates Trailer

I actually haven't heard much about this graphic novel/Bruce Willis vehicle, but the trailer doesn't look bad. Sort of like 'I, Robot' being intimate with 'Blade Runner' in a teen drama sort of way. Or maybe a middle-aged Nicholas Sparks kind of way. Yep, that makes more sense. Still, I think I like the trailer.

May 21, 2009

Inglorious Basterds - Exclusive Clip - Yahoo Movies

'Inglorious Basterds' has been on the minds of filmgoers - especially those obsessed with Quentin Tarantino's work - for years. The movie, thankfully, has finally come to fruition, and clips of it have slunk onto the internet in drips and drabs. I, personally, cannot wait for the movie to be released, and, while the clip below is nothing special, it is a morsel to tide you over until the movie gets released.

May 19, 2009

One Step Closer...maybe

A 47 million year old fossil discovered sometime in the 1980's has recently been brought of a private collection and put on display in NYC. The specimen, nicknamed 'Ida', is a lemur-like creature that could close the gap in the fossil record between ancient primates and their modern descendants. While most likely not in the direct line of human evolution, she's an important step nonetheless:

"The team concluded that she was not simply another lemur, but a new species. They have called her Darwinius masillae, to celebrate her place of origin and the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin.

Dr Jens Franzen, an expert on the Messel Pit and a member of the team, described Ida as "like the Eighth Wonder of the World", because of the extraordinary completeness of the skeleton.
It was information "palaeontologists can normally only dream of", he said.

In addition, Ida bears "a close resemblance to ourselves" he said, with nails instead of claws, a
grasping hand and an opposable thumb - like humans and some other primates. But he said some aspects of the teeth indicate she is not a direct ancestor - more of an "aunt" than a "grandmother".
"She belongs to the group from which higher primates and human beings developed but my impression is she is not on the direct line."

Others, such as Dr. Chris Beard of the Carnegie Natural History Museum, are less impressed:

"Dr Beard has not yet seen scientific details of the find but said that it would be very nice to have a beautiful new fossil from the Eocene and that Ida would be "a welcome new addition" to the world of early primates.

But he added: "I would be absolutely dumbfounded if it turns out to be a potential ancestor to humans."

Either way, there will be many research papers and even a special documentary concerning Ida in the upcoming months. Perhaps along the way, we can get one step closer to our own mysterious, shared past.

May 18, 2009

No Title

Please take fourteen seconds to watch this. That is all.

'Generation Dead' - Daniel Waters

Normally I don't comment on books until I'm done with them, but I'm bored and don't feel like writing 'fiction', so here goes. Furthermore, I'm only a measly seventy pages from finishing the book, so I feel justified in talking about [some of] it.

Generation Dead has a charming readability to it that I'll credit to Daniel Waters's prose style, which is fluid and somewhat witty, and it does tackle its main theme - social acceptance - quite deftly, so for that it gets a round of applause from me.

I cannot fault the preachiness it exudes, either, because it is YA fiction, and the entire medium has had a history of making everything so bloody melodramatic. I feel British today. The entire novel revolves around how silly people can be in not accepting others as 'human', even if those people are dead and not necessarily 'human'. Okay, let me clarify that thought. The entire conceit of the book seems, to me, to be that, if it seems sort of silly to discredit the undead solely based on whether they breathe or not, then isn't it silly to discredit others for other lifestyles? I can already hear how it would be taught in eighth grade classrooms everywhere.

If you took the words for undead - zombie, differently biotic, etc. - and changed the people from zombies to, let's say, gays, blacks, or middle easterners, then the message remains the same. Which, I guess, doesn't speak well of how the book is constructed. I can say, however, that there are some good zombie-ish moments in there, even if the book isn't drenched in gore and Romero mythology. Overall, it does present some very good points about humanity as a whole and what things actually divide us into our little cabals.

The problem is that it gets too muddled in what I'll call its 'Twilightishness'. SPOILER ALERT: [One of] The main characters falls halfway in love with a zombie, but their love/like situation isn't as transformational or transcendent as it is in Stephanie Meyer's books. It is marred by a type of discouraging real-ness not often found in these kinds of novels, and the main character, Phoebe, rides the fence through the latter third of the book, at a point when she should have either been totally in love or her passive prejudice should have shone through a little more clearly. Instead, we get a half-and-half working of Phoebe and Tommy Williams' relationship...and that's about as far as I've gotten.

Now, Generation Dead is more brain than brawn/lust, so approach with caution. There are a few "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" moments in there, so be prepared to see the soapbox come out and be prominent onstage. Other than that, it's a fairly quick, engaging read. And it has zomb, er, differently biotic people.

May 15, 2009

The Road Trailer

The official trailer for 'The Road' - based on Cormac McCarthy's bleak novel - has been released, and, while I think it's good, I also see that they're marketing it as a little more action-y than it probably will end up being. I don't remember too many big action moments in 'The Road' - or as many gunfights - but I guess I'm sure they were there.

Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat