Colossal

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

The first thing I checked out after watching this movie: what genre does IMDB think it's in? Answer: "Action, Comedy, Drama". "Comedy" is stretching things a bit; I'd toss in "Fantasy". It's safe to say that it's not formulaic.

Anne Hathaway portrays Gloria, initially living with Tim (Matthew Crawley himself, Dan Stevens). She's a mess, unemployed, getting drunk nightly, not coming home until dawn's early light, and generally a loser. Tim tells her to move out, and she returns to the small town in which she grew up. (Which is allegedly in New Hampshire, although the movie was actually filmed in British Columbia.)

But as it turns out when Gloria walks through a certain school playground, a huge monster simultaneously appears in Seoul Korea. And apes her every movement, even when that involves destroying buildings, stepping on mass transit vehicles, etc.

In the background (initially) is an old friend from her elementary school days, Oscar. He now runs his family's bar, and he offers Gloria a waitressing job. But (aha!) is there more to their relationship than meets the eye? (Spoiler: yup.)

A very watchable movie, but a little unfocused as far as the plot goes. (What is Oscar's deal, anyway?)

Robicheaux

[Amazon Link]

I see from this interview that James Lee Burke (who is 81 years young, after all) was planning on ending his Dave Robicheaux series with the 20th book, Light of the World, published five years ago. But readers demanded just one more, and JLB had it in him, so…

Spoilers follow, but I think they're the same ones on the dust jacket. As the book opens, Dave has lost his third wife, Molly, a victim of a (apparently) careless pickup truck driver. Which understandably knocks the props out from under him, and he winds up drinking, something he's managed to avoid for a number of previous books, despite the general psychic horrors within.

Worse, the pickup driver turns up dead. And he was killed while Dave was in a alcoholic blackout, and he's unsure about whether he did the deed or not.

The main plot driver, though, is the conflicts that occur over the making of a Civil War movie. It is to be based on the book of a shady writer, an unreformed mob boss wants to produce it, and so does a flashy demagogic politician. And Dave's daughter, Alafair, is thinking about writing the screenplay. Clete Purcel and Helen Soileau are on hand as well.

There are a lot of secondary characters as well: a dirty cop, a simple-minded hit man, various family members, lowlife thugs, … Everyone's complex, most hiding secrets, and there are the usual bizarre physical characteristics. (There need to be a lot of characters in a Robicheaux novel, since so many of them bite the dust during the course of the book.)

JLB has lost none of his writing talents. Consumer note: For some reason, the Kindle version had a lot of typos.

URLs du Jour

2018-01-08

Proverbs 17:28 contains a lesson that I should probably learn:

28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
    and discerning if they hold their tongues.

Are you thinking (as I did) "Oh, yeah. That's pretty much what Abe Lincoln said!"

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

Or maybe Twain? Well, think again, buddy boy:

In conclusion, there is no substantive evidence that this popular adage was coined or employed by Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain. The earliest ascriptions to these famous figures appeared many years post death. [Quote Investigator] thinks that Maurice Switzer is currently the top choice for coiner of the expression though future data may reveal alternative claimants.

The Quote Investigator notes the Proverbial roots, but the modern version "is certainly more humorous." Well, you don't go to the Good Book for chuckles, do you?


@kevinNR has one of his dead-trees National Review articles slip out into web freedom: Scott Pruitt’s Reformation. That would be of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt talks quite a bit about differing philosophies captured in the words "stewardship" and "prohibition".

Stewardship, Pruitt says, is making responsible use of our national blessings, including our natural resources: “Feed the world and fuel the world,” he says, over and over. But the Left — and the EPA, which has long been dominated by it — is not interested in stewardship. It’s interested in prohibition, in a lot of Thou shalt and a whole heck of a lot more Thou shalt not. “You have two different approaches, two different worldviews, two very different sets of assumptions,” Pruitt says.

“One side says we exist to serve creation,” he explains. “The other side says creation is there for us to use and manage to the benefit of mankind. Those are competing ideologies, and they drive decision-making. They drive regulation. If you are of the side that says we exist to serve creation, then you have no trouble putting up a fence and saying Do not use. Even though people may starve, may freeze, though developing countries may never develop their economies. That’s something they’re comfortable doing, and I think that’s wrongheaded.”

As it happens, relevant to the starving/freezing bit: another article at NRO noted the response of the Obama administration's Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, in denying an Alaskan fishing village's request for a one-lane gravel road to be built through a wildlife refuge for purposes of medical evacuation: "I’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals,"

And the animals said no, so that was that.


Reason's Jacob Sullum brings a little sanity to the current pot fight, asking the musical question: Did Jeff Sessions' Marijuana Memo Restore the Rule of Law?

If there is a rule-of-law problem here, it is similar to the one created by alcohol prohibition. The federal government has decided to ban peaceful activities that violate no one's rights, turning millions of otherwise law-abiding people across the country into criminals. The number of offenders is so large that the feds cannot hope to catch and punish a significant percentage of them, even with the cooperation of the states. Almost everyone who violates the law does so with impunity, while the high prevalence of these so-called crimes gives police and prosecutors dangerously broad authority to harass people and deprive them of their freedom. The treatment of the tiny share of offenders who happen to be arrested and prosecuted seems utterly arbitrary and unjust, inviting jury nullification.

The ban on marijuana is even more offensive to the rule of law than alcohol prohibition was, because it was never authorized by a constitutional amendment. The grotesque stretching of the Commerce Clause required to justify a law that applies to every trace of cannabis in America, whether or not it crosses state lines, down to the plant in a cancer patient's closet or the bag of buds in her dresser, is surely a bigger challenge to the rule of law than a weaselly memo suggesting how federal prosecutors should exercise a power they never should have been given.

Man, wouldn't it be cool if Wickard v. Filburn were overturned?


■ The MinuteMan notes Resistance Madness at the New York Times:

The editors of the flailing NY Times have lost the plot and lost their minds. They have now run not one but two stories hailing tax shelters for and tax avoidance by the rich. OK, they hate Trump but really - what has happened to decades of progressive orthodoxy regarding "tax the rich"? weird.

The first example is really weird: states who are trying to enable their relatively well-off citizens to continue to get a tax deduction for their local taxes.


■ At Town Hall, Derek Hunter discovers the obvious: We Live in Stupid Times.

The big story this week was a book written by a guy known for exaggerating about a guy known for exaggerating with the main source being another guy known for exaggerating. And I’m not exaggerating.

A less euphemistic word than "exaggerating" might have been better, but why quibble?

I've been stupid myself recently, engaging in a Facebook debate with a lefty friend from high school who thought Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains was the epitome of good scholarship, instead of the shoddy smear it was.

I should have been content with what I did: asserting that point and pointing to the Reason review as backup evidence. But then he responded, and I responded, and… well, it was on the verge of Getting Personal on my part. (It had already done so on his part.)

Our 50th class reunion is still about a year and a half away, and things might be uncomfortable as a result. Which would suck.

So, a belated New Year's Resolution: Paul, if you must talk about politics in social media, take your best shot, but only one. Do not engage, or debate, or make it personal.