Monday, November 27, 2006

Superman: Man of Steel Plot Speculation

So I just finished watching the DVD for Superman Returns, an alternately thrilling and frustrating--but beautifully made-- film, and my main gripe: the extras suck. There's no commentary. There's a making of, which is kind of interesting, but nothing too special. And there are deleted scenes (all of which are good and would have, all things being equal, enhanced the film--they really seem to have had a helluva time settling on a final cut of this thing).

One bit at the end, when Richard convinces Lois to go visit Superman at the hospital, contains an especially tantalizing bit of exposition: Lex's shake-and-bake continent is "settling into an orbit between Mars & Jupiter, still growing." Apparently, "they're calling it Planet 10," but Perry wants a better name. Lois tells him to call it "New Krypton."

There's no way New Krypton doesn't figure signficantly in the next one (which has a working title, Superman: Man of Steel).

Another interesting tidbit, and one which perhaps points the way forward: the original opening is not among the deleted scenes. This is an expensive--and finished--FX-heavy sequence detailing Kal-El's short return to examine the ruins of Krypton.

That it's not in the deleted scenes pretty much guarantees they're intending to use this sequence in Man of Steel (possibly as the opening).

I assume they're gonna want to alter the sequence to make it relevant to Man of Steel's plot, possibly to help launch the plot. If so, there's really only one way to go: Brainiac, the intergalactic scourge who goes around miniaturizing and stealing alien cities for, ah, study. Yes, Superman has other space based adversaries, but Brainiac is the classic. (Anybody who says Doomsday right now gets smacked.)

So instead of just random Kryptonian ruins, Superman also discovers a Borg-like scene on Krypton ... as though someone scooped a whole city right ouf the ground. The city of Kandor, we would later find out, Krypton's capital.

He has no idea he's being watched, and with kryptonite radiation levels reaching critical, no time to examine the ruins, so he beats a hasty retreat. And Brainiac follows him all the way back to earth, where he decides to add Metropolis to his menagerie. Luthor gets involved, naturally.

And maybe they make their base on New Krypton--where Superman can't get at them.

In the comics, though Brainiac escapes, Superman is able to rescue Kandor and install it in the Fortress. But he's unable to reverse the miniaturization--it remains a city in a bottle--which would be a cool, sad, ending: he saves the last Kryptonian city but he can never go there (again, that is, 'cause he'd probably end up there during Act 2 of the film), and they can never come out. So he's still alone in the universe.

...Unless they give into the temptation to retcon Supergirl into a Kandorian. (She technically came from Argo City, but wouldn't the Kandor plot be more interesting if Kal-El has *family* in that bottled city?)

Anyway, that's what I'm hoping to see as a basic plot for Man of Steel.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Odds & Ends

Akiva Goldsman has been offered a record-breaking $4 million to adapt Dan Brown's Angels & Demons into a sequel to last summer's nauseatingly bad Da Vinci Code, which despite its epic horrible-ness grossed a quarter of a billion dollars at the global box office.


Baz Luhrman's long-gestating "outback epic," inching closer to a March start date for principal photography, now has a name: Austrailia.

Shooting on a budget of a reported $100 million-plus, "Australia" is deep into pre-production, with all variety of script, costume and riding tests scheduled in December in advance of the five-month filming, which will begin in March.

Nicole Kidman will play a British aristocrat in Australia to sell a massive cattle property. She has to enlist an uncouth cattle-driver (Hugh Jackman, stepping in for Russell Crowe) to get the cows across the country. The couple ends up experiencing the bombing of Darwin by Japanese forces.


Talented writer Rick Cleveland (West Wing, Six Feet Under) will write and executive produce the pilot for a series version of Thank You For Smoking. Katie Holmes sold separately.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Altman Dead

LOS ANGELES - Robert Altman, the caustic and irreverent satirist behind "M-A-S-H," "Nashville" and "The Player" who made a career out of bucking Hollywood management and story conventions, died at a Los Angeles Hospital, his Sandcastle 5 Productions Company said Tuesday. He was 81.

The director died Monday night, Joshua Astrachan, a producer at Altman's Sandcastle 5 Productions in New York City, told The Associated Press.

The cause of death wasn't disclosed. A news release was expected later in the day, Astrachan said.

A five-time Academy Award nominee for best director, most recently for 2001's "Gosford Park," he finally won a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2006.

"No other filmmaker has gotten a better shake than I have," Altman said while accepting the award. "I'm very fortunate in my career. I've never had to direct a film I didn't choose or develop. My love for filmmaking has given me an entree to the world and to the human condition."

He will be sorely missed. By some more than others.

Vile OJ Book & Show Cancelled

Don't often get to say this, but good for Rupert Murdoch.
Bowing to intense pressure from both outside and inside the company, the News Corporation yesterday canceled its plans to publish a book and broadcast an interview with O. J. Simpson in which he was to give an account of how he might have murdered his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald L. Goldman.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pelosi's America

...if only...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Partitioning Iraq

There's been a lot of talk about partitioning lately, and while I kind of agree that's our best hope, partitioning Iraq would constitute utter and complete -- unmitigated -- failure of Bush's policy.

There will be no way in which his policy did not fail -- save, perhaps, for having actually removed Saddam Hussein, though history will (I fear) remember that as a cure that was worse than the disease.

The bottom line: Bush came ostensibly to liberate Iraq and will, because of his almost complete ignorance of the facts on the ground, most likely end up wiping it off the map.

We should take a moment to contemplate the monumental, epic failure this represents. We have not begun to understand the consequences of Bush's war--and, as a nation, we will be dealing with them for the rest of all our lives... Possibly our childrens' lives, as well.

BTW, I'm uncomfortable with any argument that ends with a variation on "it's time for the Iraqis to stand up and take responsibility for their own country." We've been hearing a lot of that lately, too. And I don't disagree with it, but let's remember: they didn't ask for this. We forced this catastrophe on them.

Yes, they were under a totalitarian dictatorship (as are hundreds of millions of other people on this planet who we won't even think about "liberating"), but at least they had stability. They had peace. They knew what they were in for when they got up in the morning.

We took that away from them--and now they have no prospect of returning to anything remotely resembling what they had before, let alone something we would recognize as "free."

So, y'know, give them a break, and let's not act like there's something wrong with them for not being able to "get it together" (especially because we can't do it, either).

They didn't have much in the first place -- but what they did have, we took away.

Help Mike Jones

My buddy Joe has started a fund-raising drive for Mike Jones, the hustler-with-a-heart-of-gold who brought down Ted Haggard and may well have helped the Dems retake congress at substantial risk to himself both in the form of criminal prosecution, and by risking the reprisals of those peace-loving Evangelicals, who have issued death threats.

Joe points out that Mike is currently unemployed, and probably unemployable (at least for the moment). He's afraid (justifiably) of continuing to see clients(for happy endings or otherwise).

So he needs (and deserves) some help from those of us who are grateful he spoke up when and how he did. Remember, exit polls indicate conclusively that the "culture of corruption" argument ranked higher even than the Iraq War in terms of voters' concerns... and Haggard certainly qualifies in that regard.

Bottom line (as Joe put it so well): if you saw Mike Jones in a bar, you'd want to buy him a drink, right?

So link to PayPal's payment screen and send some well-earned cash to Jones at:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Internet Addiction

"Internet Addiction," experts say, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Recent research shows that Internet Addiction is just a special case of what might more broadly be called Communication Addiction. Most healthy individuals tend to spend their time doing normal, productive things like eating, sleeping, working, caring for their children, and having sex. But recently, some have started to devote an inordinate amount of time to the clearly far less valuable and more dangerous activity of Communication (and a related behavior, Information Gathering).

Not only does this distract them from other activities, but extended bouts of Communication are often accompanied by other unhealthful behavior, such as consumption of intoxicants and sometimes excessive quantities of food. Addicts have often been known to express regret over the time this disease takes away from much more vital activities (such as sleep), and over behavior -- such as possibly unsafe sexual activity -- that Communication has indirectly facilitated.

Communication Addicts generally find it acutely emotionally painful to quit. Sometimes after only a few days away from their addiction, sufferers begin to feel symptoms that are quite similar to clinical depression. The refusal of others to continue communicating with them has been known to lead to lowered self-esteem, psychological injury, and in extreme cases even suicide.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rumsfeld To Be Prosecuted for War Crimes

When it rains . . .

Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse

A lawsuit in Germany will seek a criminal prosecution of the outgoing Defense Secretary and other U.S. officials for their alleged role in abuses at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo


Just days after his resignation, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The plaintiffs in the case include 11 Iraqis who were prisoners at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the U.S. has identified as the so-called "20th hijacker" and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings. As TIME first reported in June 2005, Qahtani underwent a "special interrogation plan," personally approved by Rumsfeld, which the U.S. says produced valuable intelligence. But to obtain it, according to the log of his interrogation and government reports, Qahtani was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques.
"Other controversial interrogation techniques" = water-boarding. And probably worse.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that one of the witnesses who will testify on their behalf is former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq. Karpinski — who the lawyers say will be in Germany next week to publicly address her accusations in the case — has issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which says, in part: "It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ."
A-ha!! Revenge of the Scapegoat!

Something tells me The Decider ain't gonna have too many more happy days in office...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Why's This Kid Crying?

She's thinking: "Oh, no! This asshole's gonna be around all the time, now!" I feel for ya, kid, but I gotta say: better you than us.

Santorum Family Values (Fester Sold Separately)

Studio 60 Gets Full-Season Pick-Up


I imagine that by the end of the season, this show will be firing on all cylinders instead of just most. Either way, can't say NBC didn't give it a fair chance.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

AP: Rumsfeld Stepping Down

No details yet. I just offer it as a Public Service Announcement.

Hug your children. The long national nightmare is over. (Well... One of em.)

And Say Hello To Majority Leader Clinton???

McCaskill is declaring victory... Talent is conceding.

Montana is looking very, very good.

Webb declared victory a while ago. Allen has NOT conceded. Webb appears to have increased his lead to just over 11,000 votes, which (if it holds) means there will be no automatic recount (paid for by the state). If Allen wants it, he will have to pay for it. (I assume he'll want it.)

Unless something changes in Montana, which is looking very, very good, control of the Senate will hinge on the outcome of the Virginia recount.

Is this really happening?

And if it is, what about this scuttlebut that's been floating around for months: that Harry Reid would be willing to step aside and let *Hillary* ascend to the position of Majority Leader... *If* she affirms that she will not run for President in 2008.

A woman Speaker... and a woman Majority Leader? We could do worse.

The Pelosi Revolution

At this writing, the House tally is as follows (updated 11/8, 2:11PM):

D - 234
R - 201

When the Republicans took the House in the Gingrich Revolution of 1994, the tally was:

R - 230
D - 204

So we have officially surpassed that bellweather. And it's not over yet. The Democratic majority in the House will increase.

This is the Pelosi Revolution. And it didn't come two years into a first term presidency, a wake-up call to an administration teetering on the brink, but with ample time to shape up and get re-hired. Nope -- This comes in a re-elected president's sixth year.

This is no wake up call. This is a bum rush. This is, "Don't let the door hit ya..." Or, y'know: do. Repeatedly.

Should be very interesting to see how the president reacts. I can imagine him trying to be gracious. I can't imagine him succeeding. He should totally get Jenna and Barbara to weep uncontrollably at his side, like Santorum did. Ah--Good times.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Early

and often. Unless, y'know, you're a Republican. In which case, you should stay home.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"The War Ended A Long Time Ago"

Nov. 3, 2006 — An ABC News undercover investigation showed Army recruiters telling students that the war in Iraq was over, in an effort to get them to enlist.

ABC News and New York affiliate WABC equipped students with hidden video cameras before they visited 10 Army recruitment offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

"Nobody is going over to Iraq anymore?" one student asks a recruiter.

"No, we're bringing people back," he replies.

"We're not at war. War ended a long time ago," another recruiter says.

Source: ABC News