Monday, February 27, 2006

The Pre-Oscars

Oscar is getting the polish and the red carpet is being hauled out of the closet for yet another year of the Academy Awards. It’s time to celebrate the making of film. Of course some argue that the Oscars is no longer about the movies, but about the politics of movies. Maybe so, but I enjoy the celebration none-the--less.

For many years, Kathy and I have had a couple of movie lovers over to see just how things play out. Jon Stewart, host of the very clever fake newscast, The Daily Show, will be main stage for the red carpet ride this year and it should prove to be a very interesting time. His humor is very politically tied, so we will see if he sheds that for more movie-oriented fodder.

Either way, there are a couple of Christian Conservatives and a couple of Liberals who come to my home for Oscar time. So this should be a fireball of the thing to watch. I hope we can, indeed, hear the television.

So to celebrate the season, I have decided to offer you some of the wonderful movie sites out there, broken down by category. If any of you have some movie websites that I need to know of, please let me know.

Roger Ebert website
Rotten Tomatoes
Mike Cullinan’s Blog, Entertain Me

Apple’s Movie Trailers
Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

Netflix (If you haven’t used the free trial, you are insane in the membrane.)

The Moxie
Springfield 8
Campbell 16
The Palace
Springfield Movie Pages

By the way, I really think that Crash should win Best Picture. It is a brave and wonderful film. I suspect, however, that Brokeback Mountain might win. I think that Best Actor is between Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, but I still have not made up my mind on my pick. I saw Murderball at The Moxie and it was a powerful documentary – very well done. I also saw March of the Penguins and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room on DVD at home. God Bless Netflix. They were both fine films, but not, in my opinion, as good as Murderball.

I saw two of the three nominations for Animated Feature: Wallace & Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. I was not able to see Howl’s Moving Castle, although I really like director Hayao Miyazaki’s work. I especially loved Spirited Away. While I like Wallace & Gromit, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride really did it for me, more so than his other animated feature films, so it is my pick for Animated Feature. I have Hustle and Flow at home right now (another Kudos to Netflix) and am hoping to see before Sunday.

Until I see you on the other side of the red carpet, enjoy the popcorn.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Springfield Film Festival To Show My Cousin's Movie

This weekend is a big deal for Springfield movie lovers as the Queen City of the Ozarks is home for the inaugural Show-Me Missouri International Film Festival. It is an especially exciting time for me as one of the 15-minute short films (“Billy”) stars my 10-year-old cousin, Evan Sanders, from Branson. His older brother, Austin, 15, plays a small role in the film as well.

The Sanders’ family is very involved in entertainment. The boys’ father, Terry Sanders, is a long time comedian in Branson and was voted as Branson’s Comedian of the Year this year.

Saturday, February 26, 2006
3:45 pm
Missouri State University’s Plaster Student Union

Kathy and I are very excited for him and we are going to see it on Saturday. He and his family are coming up too, so we will make a whole day of it. It’s especially exciting as he hasn’t seen the film yet.

The entire film festival will start on Friday and go until Sunday. The films will show at various places including MSU, The Moxie (Springfield’s new independent movie theatre), Drury University, and the Creamery Arts Center. There are several different categories for film: college, documentary, feature, animation and short. There will also be some non-competitive films shown.

For information on tickets, visit go to the Show-Me Missouri International Film Festival web site or call 725-8297. According to the article in Sunday’s Springfield News-Leader, a person may purchase several different types of tickets, ranging from a weekend long pass, a daily pass, or a single screening ticket.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS)

“Those of you lucky enough to have your lives, take them with you. However, leave the limbs you've lost. They belong to me now.” – The Bride, from Kill Bill 1

SPRINGFIELD – It was a blood bath today at the Oasis Inn and Convention Center as four females from the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS) strutted in and out of the newly remodeled convention center, leaving behind blood, body parts, and life-long suffering from those unfortunate enough to have stood in their way.

“It was a bloody mess,” said one bystander who begged for anonymity for fear that the DiVAS would seek him out and karate chop him into oblivion.

Greene County Sheriff Jack Merrit, was reduced to tears, barely able to offer a report to the media. Blubbering, he stated: “I have never seen such devastation and destruction. I can’t believe that four women could do such damage. It was such horror … horror.” After which he flopped himself into a heap on the floor.

Women indeed. According to witnesses who cowered for their lives, the DiVAS consisted of one adult woman and three school-aged girls. The were followed by an entourage of wicked vixens who watched with glee as the four littered the floor with human remains.

Some of you may have missed this News-Leader article in Sunday’s paper. They buried it for fear that the DiVAS themselves would hunt them down and make the editors and reporters squeal like a pig. I was the lucky one. I was at the convention center, but had to take a big poop when the DiVAS made it’s appearance. I cracked the door and watched in horror as the four laid waste.

They are, as reported, a Deadly Viper Assassination Squad hell-bent on destruction. I happen to know them all and I do not fear their retribution. In fact, I sleep with the leader and she is a wild mountain cat in the sack. One other is her offspring and is as poisonous as the day is long. The other two live nearby and are apprentice to the head of their clan.


In case you have not figured it out yet, my wife, daughter and two of the other girls in my girl’s karate class went to an open Karate tournament this weekend and did quite well. The other girls in the class came and cheered them on. It is so great to see do so well in such a competitive, male-dominated contact sport.

Kathy (the wife) – 3rd place in kata (forms) out of a group of 6 men and one other woman.
Sophie (the kid) – 4th place in kata (out of 7) and 4th place in sparring (fighting)

Friday, February 24, 2006


We are terribly misguided as a country. We don’t know who we are, but even more importantly, we do not know anything about anyone else. Our country is lost in a washing machine of cynicism, depression and an obsession with someone else’s business. We form our beliefs of others, our world view, using a sound byte measuring stick and media talking heads.

Courtesy used to be a treasured virtue, something taught in school, enforced at home and a valued in the workplace. Little by little, courtesy has turned into a weakness, suffered only by the confused, weak-kneed, and spineless. It has been replaced with power, control and a relentless pursuit of one’s self over all other things. We see this in school children and adults – in sports athletes and politicians.

Today, the spread of information is more important than the information itself, and people who see shades of grey get lost. Nowhere is this more evident than in politics. No longer are we able to define ourselves. That is done for us by those who wish to compartmentalize the world and label those around them. We have so much information available, but we have little time to actually absorb and analyze it. The push to control the party, the public, and the government is so strong that our leaders are no-holds-barred fighters in suits. We are now in a world where Swift-Boating someone is excusable, understandable, and even encouraged.

This leaves little for the individual who can become swallowed by the details and overwhelmed by the corruption. Regardless of the amount of good a person has done, he or she can and will be known for doing or say one thing. It is all about the label. This trickles down to the individual. We are, as the general public, defined by one or two of our many personal beliefs: Republican or Democrat; Conservative or Liberal; God-fearing Christian or Abortion-loving Athiest. This black and white definition is just another form of Swift-boating, that forces people to choose sides. Those sides are becoming more extreme with every election, and that is the goal of those in power and those seeking it. They want the flock to be polarized and partisian, in order to maintain that control.

Yet, I argue that the majority is really none of these. Most people, most I say, have a few viewpoints that may bleed into both groups. Most folks are moderate, leaning more to one side or another. This intolerance to moderation is destroying our confidence in our leaders and creating an ever-decreasing interest in voting one’s conscience. Time and time again, people report that they have no real choice at the voting booth. Indifference and apathy are the new choice, because investigation, understanding and education are just too difficult for us to manage. We just don’t care if we are stupid or not, so long as we have our cable TV, cell phone and iPod.

I am taking a stand, today. I refuse to be labeled by others any longer, and I refuse to be forced to choose one side over another in order to arbitrarily find a place where I fit in. I do not fit in with the extremists any longer. I have defined myself in recent years as a liberal. I am not really a liberal; I sure as Hell not a fundamentalist. I am a complex man who chooses to cross the line from black and white, and come closer to a world with shades of grey.

I am a man, husband and a father.
I am a Christian.
I am a Demublican.
I am flawed.

That is the beginning of the definition of me, and my political standing in this world. It may change as I grow, develop and continue to learn. I reserve the right to be flexible in my beliefs. I do not call that fence-riding or wishy-washy. I call it growth, developed from new life experiences, new understanding, and education.

I notice that many political talk show hosts define themselves by attacking, defining and swift-boating others. While compare and contrast is a staple in critical thinking, these folks fall prey to swift-boat techniques that are not about true critique, but about ratings. (I have much more to say on the politics of media, but that is another blog.)

Well I am choosing to define myself, not through the use of swift-boat tactics, but through introspection and then public display of my current views. In order to do this, I will take typically Democratic or Republican views and then demonstrate my personal views on the issue. I will do this with simple YES or NO responses (and not politic-speak). I understand that this may, in some sense, appear hypocritical in that I am using partisan definitions to define myself. But that is really my point. I am a BLEEDER. That is, I am a moderate with views that bleed into both sides. So I will use conventional definitions to show my particular bias or standing. I believe that they day we start seeing political greys, is the day that we start on a path to higher voter turnout and confidence in our political leaders. So rather than complain, I am defining myself and stating my views outright:

Funding Social Services: Yes
Privatize Social Security: Leaning toward No.
Civil Unions: Yes

Abortion: No (maybe in certain circumstances like rape ... but not likely.)
Gun Control: No
Faith-based initiative: Yes (not if it excludes government programming)
Gay Marriage: No

Stem Cell Research: Undecided (yes, in some circumstances and no in others.)


Welcome to Fat Jack’s Rant. This blog will address a wide range of topics. Some days it will be pertinent to local, state or national incidents. Other times it will be more stream-of-consciousness journal writings regarding my particular journey through life, the things I have learned, frustrations encountered, or an update of the achievement of my goals along the way.

I do not promise to write often, as I refuse to be rushed into taking a stand on a particular subject. I will blog on many things including:

  • Politics
  • Modern day goings-on
  • My thoughts on how to change the world for the better
  • Retorts to other people’s blogs
  • My journey to
    • Earn my Master’s Degree in Elementary Education
    • Teach 4th -5th grade, or middle school English
    • Earn my black belt in Kenpo
    • Earn my black belt in Iaido (ancient art of the drawing of the samurai sword).