But I Want To Kennel With Zoe

It’s been pretty hot in Memphis lately — 100 degrees Fahrenheit today, but with the humidity it felt closer to 105. Often, I’ll leave the dogs outside while I’m at work, but in this heat that’s dangerous (even though they quickly retire to the much-cooler under-the-deck climate).

So for the first time in a couple of weeks, I ordered them to kennel before leaving for work. “Dogs! Kennel!” Zoe, being the good one, went to kennel straight away. Wendy, being clever and diggy and generally more naughty (although still very cute) slowed her way between the bedroom and the foyer, not wanting to go into my home office (where the kennels are). After repeated “Wendy, no! Wendy, kennel! … Kennnnellll… No! Kennel!” for about two minutes, she slouched into the office … and into Zoe’s kennel with Zoe.

Zoe & Wendy In Kennel

(Wendy is the one sitting up, patiently waiting for me to close the kennel door.)

Aw — she didn’t want to be separated from her sister for the day. How adorable. (Not allowed, of course, but adorable nonetheless. 🙂

Property Rights Lose, 5-4

The Supreme Court has just ruled that governments can seize private property under eminent domain and give that property to other private holders.

The case in question was about a developer who claimed he could generate more tax revenue for local government with a particular piece of land, except the landholder wasn’t selling. The Supreme Court has effectively ruled that increased tax revenue is a legitimate point of “public interest”; as such, governments can take your property and give it to other people who promise to pay more taxes than you do.

I’m so mad I can’t see straight.

UPDATE: Here’s a link with a good overview from AP News MyWay.

UPDATE: Another overview from the NY Times.

Batman Begins

Not only is Batman Begins the best film/TV Batman, it’s one of the best action superhero films ever, on par with the first Superman, Spider-Man 1 and 2, and Unbreakable. Genuinely moving and powerful. I give it my highest rating: worth full evening price, twice. In fact, you will enjoy it even more on second viewing, because once you know the plot, you can concentrate on all the beautiful little details.

Please note the PG-13 rating; parts of Batman Begins are far too disturbing for little children (almost too disturbing for adults approaching middle age).

This film is exceptionally good: strong characters, solid storyline, mostly believable technology, moving soundtrack, and great performances (but for Katie Holmes, who pretty but bland and kind of weak). When Scarecrow puts the Fear on people, you get to see what they see, and it is nightmarish. The supporting cast really are “supporting” — they’re all strong in they’re own right, but they know they are there to help Batman when he needs it. Brilliant writing.

And the soundtrack! It has the distinction of being the work of two distinctly different composers: James Newton Howard (e.g. Unbreakable) and Hans Zimmer (e.g. various action films and Rain Man). You can hear their different styles come through in different places, but sometimes you don’t know which is which. Frankly, I never thought a two-note theme could *be* a theme … but it is, at least when you have the underlying foundation of the rest of the composition. The first note builds, and builds, and then breaks to the second note just as an important scene element tips on-screen; it’s a very powerful element, even though you may not always notice it on first viewing.

For those of us who care about this kind of thing, there are plenty of nods to Jung, and to the Sodom-and-Gomorrah story. The storyline is almost point-for-point in line with the Joseph Campbell heroic monomyth.

If you want to hear more about it, read on, but be warned: there are spoilers below.

Continue reading “Batman Begins”

Madagascar

I went to see the DreamWorks movie Madagascar this weekend. I’d been looking forward to it for some time, if only because I like good computer animation. Unfortunately, the storyline in Madagascar is not that great; while fun for the family, it’ll be more-so for the the kids than the adults. (The work put out by Pixar is much better, both technically and story-wise, and it’s just as much fun for the parents as the children.)

In fact, there’s one point where the zebra, voiced by Chris Rock (read into that what you wish ;-), cries out “Motherf-” and then is cut off by other conversation mid-word. While it’s funny because we know Chris Rock, I found it shocking and unexpected to hear that in a kid’s movie.

I’m not going to review the movie here (the IMDB link above has a fine one), but I did want to point out that my favorite parts of the film had nothing at all to do with the main characters. For example, there are these four penguins staging a break for Antarctica, and they’re a lot of fun; think mobsters crossed with Special Forces. The two British monkeys, one of whom speaks only in sign language, don’t get anywhere near enough screen time. The real laugh-out-loud bits come from the half-insane King Julien of the lemurs (voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen) who is by far the funniest character in the picture . Julien doesn’t show up until the second half of the movie, but when he’s on screen you’re laughing the whole time.

In all, I’d say Madagascar is worth the matinee price, but probably more-worth it if you see it with some kids.