Friday, March 31, 2006

Inside Inside Man

One of my rules for Great Movies is, if I’m sitting around and randomly think about the movie several days later, and I suddenly realize something I didn’t pick up on immediately after seeing the movie, that’s a great movie. Friends, I’m here to tell you that Inside Man is a GREAT movie.

In this particular instance, I was sitting around on Wednesday and a commercial came on for it. So I started thinking about how much fun I had going to see it. And then, BAM, I realized that the title of the movie has at least 3 meanings that I can think of right now. I’m sure there are more. And the best part, by far, is that the most obvious meaning is probably the least applicable of the 3.

I was talking to my dad today and I mentioned that if he didn’t have plans for the weekend, he should definitely make time to see Inside Man. Turns out he’s already seen it. And he started about talking about stuff that he liked about it that I hadn’t even put in my top 5 favorite things about the movie. Specifically, he commented that he thought it was great that one of the main characters and one of the most serious, in this case Denzel, was also the source to most of the comic relief. See, that’s just cool, I hadn’t thought of that. But most good movies do that.

Plus, him saying that reinforced that fact that there actually are funny aspects to the movie, which bodes well for Jennifer’s eventual enjoyment of it.

The most impressive thing about this movie, which is something that Blair and I did talk about immediately afterward, is that it’s a Spike Lee movie. It’s not that it’s surprising that he could make a good movie. He’s made several great movies over the years. It’s that there’s absolutely no reason this movie wouldn’t have super broad appeal. I’m not sure I would have ever thought that he would make a movie with broad appeal. I’m not saying I didn’t think he could, I’m just saying that I didn’t think he would. I’m also not saying that I always thought he SHOULD. I can’t say that I think that now, even after seeing what a broad appeal Spike Lee Joint looks like. He didn’t have anything to prove to anyone. But I’m glad that he did.

I like seeing great movies. And seeing Inside Man made me very very happy.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Neo-Con exchange

Here's an exchange of e-mails I've had with a neo-con "friend" of my father's. The first reply was his in response to a funny list my dad had forwarded to a short list of people. As you can imagine with e-mail exchanges, you have to start at the bottom (which is the list) and read up. I figured, this would suffice as my ranting for the week. I'm in a very anit-Bush mood. Iv'e formatted it so you can see when the exchanges begin and end.

########## My most recent exchange. I suspect this will be the end.
Gee whiz, I look down at the bottom and I see this written BY YOU to my father: "So tell me as a good Christian and more, you are also in support of the opposition alternative to all that highlighted?" and went on to highlight portions of the e-mail he had sent that don't agree with your agenda. So how is using my father's religion as a weapon against him NOT personal?

I love how you discredit my arguments by simply saying they are rants and instantly *POOF* they are discredited. I do not call you a name. I call your argument narrow minded, pathetic and dismissive. And I then go on to explain why, through a practical example, your rebuttals are exactly those 3 things. If you had a single logical thought behind your argument, then perhaps your arguments wouldn't be dismissive. If you hadn't said that you define people by their organizational allegiances, then perhaps your arguments wouldn't be narrow minded. And it is my opinion that an argument that is both narrow minded and dismissive is pathetic (definition: Arousing or capable of arousing scornful pity).

You'll notice above that I defend my argument with a point by point analysis defending it. I could have just as easily followed your lead and said: "Clearly your reply is the typical neo-con rep style: label someone, create a flimsy straw man that fits that label and discredit them with flimsy platitudes and substanceless and unsupported rejection of the argument." But since my style is typically liberal, I much prefer the substance.

############ Neo-Con
Clearly your reply is the the typical liberal dem style: Revert to name-calling when the argument is lost...
The rest of your epistle borders on little more than mindless banter

Just as an aside; it wasn't me that started lobbing these barbs and besides, its never anything personal unless you make it be

############# ME
Again, that is narrow minded, pathetic and dismissive. I don't doubt that people make evaluations of me as a person on a day to day basis. But I certainly hope they are not concerned about the fact that I am a Steelers fan and then make a judgment about me based on my level of fandom. I am a Steelers fan and that is that. I AM (capitals intended) Paul Leland Britton IV. The fact that I am a Steelers fan should have absolutely nothing to do with how someone like me as a person. The moment I dismiss someone for being a Browns fan is the moment I let my Steelers' fandom define me. Then and only then can other's allow my fandom to define me.

I do not dismiss you because you are a Republican. I dismiss you because you use my father's religion as a weapon against him. I dismiss you because your arguments are faulty and misguided at best and spiteful and hurtful at worst. I dismiss you because you allow the fact that you are Republican to be and excuse to dismiss others for nothing more than the belief that our government should be held accountable for it's actions by the people.

########### Neo-Com
You confuse define with judge: You are judged by your actions; you are defined by your known belief systems and publicly-know alliances
Who are you kidding? We are judged everyday, all day and here again, by compliance with how one has allowed himself to be defined, not to mention cultural and societal mores and laws

############ Me. The Real Hypocite comment is a ref to some ridiculous article he had sent after my dad sent his list.
That is the most ridiculously narrow minded thing I've ever read: "you come to be defined by your publicly demonstrated alliances with organizations". People that I would consider my friends, people I think are worthy of my respect and admiration, people who I would consider honorable, would define me by my actions. The things I do on a day to day basis. The things I say and follow through on. It is far too easy to dismiss people simply because they are Democrats or French or members of Alanon. Oh, you're a Mormon? Then you must not realize that your a member of a cult and you must believe that you'll only get to heaven by having as many kids as humanly possible and your great-grandparents were polygamists. Wow, that's easy. It's absolutely pathetic and dismissive of you to "JUDGE" (your word, not mine) people based on meetings they may attend or votes they may cast. I obviously know a LOT more about being a Christian than you do because I know it is not MY job to be judging ANYONE. That is His.

Who's the Real Hypocrite now?

####### Neo-Con
I am! And proud to I should add
And what do you know about his religion? But yes, you come to be defined by your publicly demonstrated alliances with organizations that have clearly stated, well-known philosophic standards; that said, you tend to be judged by your level of compliance with them

####### My first reply. We had gone down this road before. He called me a devil at one point. That made me very proud.
It's wonderful to see that you're still are a good, card-carrying rep by continuing to use a person's religious beliefs as a weapon against him, should they vary in even the slightest bit as your own. Interesting that only your interpretation of His word is the only valid one.

###### Neo-Con's first reply. He had highlighted several points that might conflict with my father's Catholic beliefs.
Well Mr. Britton, clearly stated by a good, card-carrying dem
So tell me as a good christian and more, you are also in support of the opposition alternative to all that highlighted? Did you really read this before you sent it on?
The rest of it is pure rubbish

What You Need To Believe To Be A Republican:
Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is a impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

Supporting "Executive Privilege" for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born (in perpetuity.)

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Support hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dancing Shoes are on

Here is a little look at who I like in the NCAA tournament:

Atlanta Region: This is the land of Duke and Texas. A lot of people are saying that, if LSU gets by Syracuse, they should be able to beat Duke. I wish that were true. I HATE Duke, but I don’t see them losing that early. I think it will be Duke-Texas in the Elite 8, with Texas winning. I just can’t pick Duke to make the Final Four. It will never happen.

Upsets: I don’t see any that I like. Southern Illinois could beat West Virginia, but I don’t think that will happen. I actually think the Big East will go 8-0 in the first round. The Big East is so much better than every other conference.

Oakland Region: Pitt’s in this one, so you know where my allegiances lie. I’m filling out the bracket to have Pitt make it, but that’s my heart talking. In my head, I actually like Pitt vs UCLA in the Elite 8. UCLA is coached by Pitt’s former head coach, the guy who brought the program back to respectability: Ben Howland. I see him taking that UCLA team into the Final 4. Their half of the draw is kind of weak. A bunch of teams that either peaked early or are only factors at home.

Upsets: San Diego State will probably beat Indiana. They’re playing on all emotion after their coach declared he’s done at the end of the season. I see that emotion back-firing in the tournament.

Washington, D.C. Region: This one is UConn’s for the taking. They’ll face North Carolina in the Elite 8 and win in probably the best game of the whole tournament. This region features the most egregious seeding of the entire bracket and one of the worst seedings of all time with Tennessee as a #2. THEY SUCK! The SEC is totally over rated this year and they weren’t even the best team in that conference.

Upsets: This Region will be upset city. I like Utah St over Washington, George Mason over Michigan State and Seton Hall to beat both Witchita St. and Tennessee.

Minneapolis Region: This region has 2 of the 4 best Big East teams in it: Villanova and Georgetown. One of those 2 will move on to the Final 4 and wind up losing big to UConn. This region also features Florida so….

Upsets: …. I hope South Alabama beats Florida, but it won’t happen, unfortunately. What will happen is Wisconsin/Milwaukee over Oklahoma. Pacific might beat BC, too, but I’m not as sold on that one.

UConn will end up beating UCLA handily for the championship. And that’s OK. My rules for rooting in the NCAA Tournament:
1) For Pitt
2) For double digit seeds
3) Against Duke, Florida, FSU and Penn State
4) For the Big East
5) For the underdog

So according to that logic, if it can’t be Pitt and it can’t be some random 12 seed, as long as it ain’t Florida or Duke, I’ll enjoy the finale to the next 3 weeks.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Insanity is more like it...

This is just a quick warning to those of you that still read this that the next couple blogs will most likely be dedicated to college basketball. During the regular College Basketball season, I am not much more than a casual observer. If a Pitt game is nationally televised, I'll watch as much of it as I can. I'll check the scores every day and the rankings every week. But then, as we reach March, I get an inflicted with a month long malady known as March Madness.

Pitt actually has a real solid team this year, so I might get a slightly worse case than in the past.

Although, back in college, I’d get it so bad that, the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament, I’d find myself laid up in bed missing some classes, stuck watching TV.

Like I said, this is a warning more than anything. Right now, we’re sort of getting the appetizers with the individual conferences having their Championship Tournaments. Pitt has reached the Semifinal of the Big East Tournament. I’m so excited at the prospect of them winning the Big East, I’m not sure what to say. The month of March in college basketball is a genuinely unique and special time of year for sports. With so many dynamics, so many teams involved, so many communities following the proceedings, so many implications with each and every game, I think it’s fair to say there isn’t anything else in sports like this past week and next week. Unfortunately, the best word I can come up with right now is NEAT!

On a side note, the ports deal fell through when the Dubai based company pulled out and said they’d sell the US assets off. Obviously, this saves the President a whole lot of embarrassment as it was becoming more and more likely that there would be legislation passed to block the deal. My feelings on the whole thing are mixed. First, I’d love to know what actually happened behind the scenes. The rubber stamp of the deal in the first place was yet another glaring example of cronyism in this pathetically inept White House. It was grossly negligent and short sighted. But the fact remains that, given a fair shake and handled properly, the deal probably would have been OK’ed. There’s little reason to think that an Arab company, even one owned by an Arab country, wouldn’t be fully capable of managing our ports. They’re not going to let terrorist who just so happened to be from their country sneak in to blow shit up. Make no mistake, Arabs love them some money. And the Arabs in control and with all the money love keeping their money to themselves and making more of it. It definitely serves their interests to have a populace which is uneducated and mad at everybody except for the people actually keeping them uneducated. As a direct result, they passively support their people blowin’ shit up, and quite possible NEED their people to be blowin’ shit up to keep the system propagating itself. However, they don’t want their people blowing THEIR shit up. And they sure don’t want anything they own or actively manage being directly implicated in the blowin’ up of shit anywhere. Therefore, you might actually say that an Arab run port in the US would less likely be entry site of shit used for blowin’ shit up. Don’t get me wrong: some of that money they’re making probably was donated to someone who then donated it to someone who made the shit for blowin’ shit up. But that wasn’t the argument against the deal. The fact is: rejecting the deal is definitely racist. It based entirely on the Fear which this administration has built its reputation on and was the sole reason for its re-election. And I’m against that. On the other hand, anything that makes the Village Idiot look like a bigger idiot, I’m in favor of. So I’m torn. I was happy to see the Idiot twist in the wind but I was sad to see Democrats use the Idiot’s own tactics in criticizing the deal.

And there’s nothing I can do to feel really good or really bad about the whole thing, so I guess I’m just glad it’s over.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Uncle Paul!

My brother's wife had a little baby girl at 2AM today: Trina Elaine Britton. I'm an Uncle!!! Excitement abounds!!!

When I married Jenn, I became a de facto uncle to her niece and nephew. But that feels a lot different then actually being the uncle when the baby is born. I'll be a known entity from the very beginning, and I think that's kinda cool.

This raises a very interesting philosophical debate: what are the responsibilities of The Uncle? There are many types of Uncles. You have the Rich Uncle, the Crazy Uncle, the Fun Uncle, the Boring Uncle, the Quiet Uncle, the Dead-beat Uncle and on and on. I've always wanted to be the Fun Uncle. The Crazy Uncle would be an interesting role, but eventually, in order to be the Crazy Uncle, you have to teach your niece or nephew and important lesson on why it's not always good to be "crazy". And frankly, I don't like the ramifications of ending up in a Jamaican Jail over night. You might not always have as good of stories as the Crazy Uncle, but at least the kids are excited when you come around.

All along, I've held that the Fun Uncle has to be willing to buck authority, in this case, the Parents. That means you do things with the kids that the Parents disapprove of but won't get them into any real trouble. Basically, your goal is to annoy the Parents. That means, early on in the developmental stages, you're buying the kids toys that make a whole lotta noise. You drop the toy off, visit a while, show the kid how to use the toy and leave. What's more fun than that!?!? But Jenn steadfastly refuses to take part in any purchasing of noise making toys. There in lies the dilemma. I now have to completely alter my opinion of what a Fun Uncle does before the kid's old enough to attach things to the dog.

Right now, the only thing I can think of is always coming over cookies and making a huge mess with the kid's toys. The kid HAS to be allowed to have some cookies: they're from Uncle Paul! And leaving a mess in your wake is certainly amusing. The problem is that neither of those things has the lasting affect that a noisy toy has. You can't call on the phone the next day and hear the cacophony from the toy drum set in the background.

Obviously, I could not only help the kids buck authority, but buck authority myself and just get the darn noisy toys. That would get Jenn plenty mad. And remember, the goal is to be the Fun Uncle, NOT the Crazy Uncle.

For the time being, I'm just really excited to be just plain Uncle Paul. I've a few month before I have to start finalizing my plan...