Serenity

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Not to be confused with the 2005 Joss Whedon space movie with Nathan Fillion et. al.. And it may not be your cup of tea, as it was not the cup of tea with IMDB raters (see above). Also with a dismal Metacritic score. (But Richard Roeper says its "one of the most entertaining thrillers in recent years", right on the DVD box. So, it may be your cup of tea.)

And there's a lot of talent involved. Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, for example. And I see they were nominated for this movie too: for "Worst Actor" and "Worst Actress Razzies.

It starts out as a pretty standard film noir in fact. Lots of booze, cigarettes, and hard-boiled dialog. Baker Dill (McConaughey) is a charter fishing boat captain obsessed with catching a specific tuna. His Ahab-like behavior is putting him in dire financial straits, but out of the blue comes ex-wife Karen (Hathaway) with one of those simple propositions: my new husband is brutalizing me and your son, he'll kill us if we try to leave him, could you please murder him, I'll give you $10 million.

As I said, it starts out in that honorable tradition. But things take an odd turn. Odd enough so that I'm not even tempted to spoil them. I'll say this though: the IMDB genre classification is "Drama, Mystery, Thriller", but a more honest description would add at least one more.

[OK, if you really want to know what's going on, click here.]

And here's an interesting coincidence: actor Djimon Hounsou is in this, and he was also in the 2005 Serenity! Producers, if you want to get Djimon in your movie, you know what you have to title it.

Sometimes Always Never

[2.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This might be a decent movie. But the DVD has an inexcusable flaw: no subtitling.

I hate to be a cranky old fart. But my hearing is not what it used to be. And my TV's sound system is … well, there's a reason that there's a decent market for soundbars. We don't have one, though.

And it's a Brit movie, with everyone talking with an accent of varying degrees of thickness. And sometimes they are whispering. Blimey.

But what I got was not bad. It's funny in a lot of places. The main character, Alan, is played by Bill Nighy, and he's excellent. I'm sure that if I'd heard a lot more dialog…

Anyway: Alan and his son Peter are on a grim mission: a corpse has been found, and they are asked to check to see if it's Michael, Alan's "prodigal" son who ditched the family over a Scabble dispute years ago. They meet up with another couple, Arthur and Margaret, who are performing the same task (for the same body). And Alan reveals himself as a Scrabble hustler. Causing strife between Arthur and Margaret.

Well, it's not Michael. But Margaret and Alan wind up having a fling…

Margaret is played by Jenny Agutter, by the way. Any red-blooded young man who watched An American Werewolf in London has had fantasies about being taken home by a sexy nurse looking like Ms. Agutter. Minus all the gore of course.

The Phony Campaign

2020-09-20 Update

Welp, old Joe Biden opened up another 0.3 percentage points in his betting market advantage. Good for him; in comparison, back on September 25, 2016, the previous iteration of this feature, I reported:

As I type, PredictWise puts Hillary at a 70% chance of winning in November, down 2 (two) percentage points from last week. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight puts her probability significantly lower (58.1%, 57.5%, or 56.0%, depending on which methodology you like); that's down a few percentage points from last week.

(The PredictWise link has gone stale, perhaps out of embarrassment.)

But, back here in 2020, Our President still has a commanding phony-hit lead:

Candidate WinProb Change
Since
9/13
Phony
Results
Change
Since
9/13
Donald Trump 43.6% -0.1% 2,040,000 +110,000
Joe Biden 53.7% +0.2% 732,000 0
Jo Jorgensen 0.0% unch 120,000 +1,000
Howie Hawkins 0.0% unch 24,700 +6,300

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • At American Consequences, P. J. O'Rourke muses on Trump's 2nd Term Agenda.

    When it comes to choosing between presidential campaign platforms, what should be a matter of principle can turn into a matter of taste… How do you like your lies prepared and served?

    Oops, did I say “lies”?… Excuse me, I meant “promises.” Do you want an all-you-can-eat campaign platform buffet with its promises well-done to the point where even the romaine lettuce in the salad bar is burned to a crisp? In that case, I’m sure you found the Joe Biden platform delicious and filling.

    As I described in last month’s Letter From the Editor, Biden’s platform bill of fare is 564 pages long with every entrée so over-cooked that it seems as though Joe has accidentally left his mental oven on at 450 degrees since 1988.

    Or do you prefer a “tasting menu,” with little dibs of this and dabs of that, each dished up rare, not to say as raw as pork tartar and chicken sushi? If so, you’ll smack your lips over the four-page Donald Trump campaign platform with its 54 bite-sized promises. Never mind that some of what’s on offer contains nothing that could be considered an intellectual calorie.

    What follows is P. J.'s version of fisking, quoting Trump's platform with interspersed pin-in-balloon comments.


  • The Hill reports a Kinsley Gaffe from the Donald:

    President Trump defended his assertion that the novel coronavirus would “disappear” with or without a vaccine on Tuesday, saying the United States would develop what he called “herd mentality.”

    Don't all (non-libertarian) politicians wish for the populace to develop a herd mentality? I mean, how can you be called a leader, if you don't have a docile group of followers?

    We could wish for politicians as witty as Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, who probably didn't say:

    There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.

    ("Why are some of my best quotes apocryphal?" -- Thomas Jefferson)


  • [Amazon Link]
    The late, great, William Goldman entitled one of his memoirs (Amazon link at your right) Which Lie Did I Tell?

    I'm not sure what brought that to mind, but…

    The Free Beacon reports this as if it were some kind of record, but I bet it's not: Biden Repeats Two Falsehoods in Less Than a Minute.

    Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden repeated two falsehoods in less than one minute Thursday night, first that he would be the first president that didn't go to an Ivy League school and then that he was the first person in his family to go to college.

    Neither of the claims are true—Ronald Reagan was the most recent U.S. president who did not attend an Ivy League university, but there were many others, including Harry Truman, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. Biden also admitted to the New York Times back in 1987 that there were members of his mother's family who had attended college before him.

    Yes, you read that right. He was caught lying about this in 1987, part of the reason his presidential campaign crashed and burned. So is that Goldman title going through his mind? Which lie did I tell?


  • NRPlus members are entitled to view David Harsanyi's essay on The Secret Life of Joe Biden. Example of Joe's Mittyesque fantasies:

    It wasn’t long ago that Biden was telling a rapt audience at Dartmouth the story of a brave Navy captain who had rappelled down a steep ravine in the mountains of Kunar province in an unsuccessful bid to rescue his comrade. An unnamed general had implored the then-vice president to fly to Afghanistan and personally pin the Silver Star on this captain.

    “And everybody got concerned a vice president going up in the middle of this,” a fearless Biden recalled, “but we can lose a vice president; we can’t lose many more of these kids, not a joke.”

    Now, don’t fret. Biden is no stranger to peril. During a presidential primary debate in 2007, he told viewers about the time he had been “shot at” during a trip to the Green Zone in Iraq.

    In any event, the naval officer in question would not let Biden pin the medal on him. “God’s truth, my word as a Biden,” the former senator said. “He stood at attention, I went to pin him, he said: ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing. Do not pin it on me sir, please. Do not do that. He died. He died.’”

    The only problem with this moving tale was that Biden never visited Kunar province as vice president nor did he ever pin a silver star on any Navy captain, much less one who refused to accept the honor. Nor, incidentally, had Biden ever been “shot at” by anyone.

    Joe makes Hillary look like George Washington. The Parson Weems version.


  • In our "Can't We Blame the Russians For This" Department, Slashdot says: A Bug In Joe Biden's Campaign App Gave Anyone Access To Millions of Voter Files. Quoting a TechCrunch report:

    A privacy bug in Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s official campaign app allowed anyone to look up sensitive voter information on millions of Americans, a security researcher has found.

    The campaign app, Vote Joe, allows Biden supporters to encourage friends and family members to vote in the upcoming U.S. presidential election by uploading their phone’s contact lists to see if their friends and family members are registered to vote. The app uploads and matches the user’s contacts with voter data supplied from TargetSmart, a political marketing firm that claims to have files on more than 191 million Americans.

    Nobody affiliated with the campain was quoted as saying: "Oops, we were hoping we could get away with that."


  • And if you're interested in this stuff at all, you should be reading Geraghty's Morning Jolt. Nestled near the bottom of the linked article from Thursday:

    Have you noticed that to certain media voices, whatever traits the Democratic nominee has just happen to be what the country needs that year? In 2004, John Kerry’s military service was considered a great argument in favor of his election, but by 2008, John McCain’s service was nothing special. Remember how youth and being an outsider to Washington were considered really important when Barack Obama was running, but suddenly didn’t seem so important when Hillary Clinton was nominated — and they sure as heck aren’t seen as valuable traits now?

    Janan Ganesh of the Financial Times makes an accurate but convenient point: No one is all that excited about Joe Biden, and that’s something of a relief after dealing with the Obama messiah cult and the worship of Trump by the MAGA-cap-wearing diehard fans. The headline? “The welcome lack of enthusiasm for Joe Biden.

    “The US has had two consecutive presidents with messianic followings, and it is worse off for the 12-year surge of emotion,” Ganesh writes. “No democracy is riper for a period of tepid leadership.”

    The thing is, it took a Republican president with an impassioned fanbase and a Democratic nominee who’s pretty boring and cookie-cutter to see any public defense of boring national leaders.

    Still, I think it would make for a refreshingly honest slogan: “Joe Biden 2020: He’s pretty tepid as a leader.”

    Tepid leadership from a tepid IQ!