Movie Review: The Killing Time (1987)

Hollywood has a tendency to underestimate the intelligence of the American people. This is shown by the plethora of stupid, poorly thought so-called “motion pictures” that Hollywood produces and distributes every year. One such movie is 1987’s The Killing Time.

Kiefer Sutherland stars as a hitchhiker who kills Brian Mars who has just been hired as a deputy sheriff in a coastal county in Louisiana. Sutherland assumes the identity of his victim and arrives in the county seat to become a new deputy sheriff and nobody suspects otherwise. And this despite the fact that Mars was supposed to be a very good friend of the chief deputy sheriff (Beau Bridges) and also despite Sutherland’s tendency to make psycho-type statements such as saying that he likes being a deputy sheriff because he can carry a gun and shove people around.

Perhaps part of the reason why nobody catches on to Sutherland’s deception is that in this particular county, corruption in law enforcement is rampant. The county sheriff, played by Joe Don Baker, is totally corrupt and is planning on moving to Mexico where he will live out his retirement on a huge nest egg created by lavish bribes and kickbacks. Even by the low standards of Hollywood, Baker’s corruption and exaggerated Southern fried sheriff behavior is absurd. If
The Killing Time was a comedy, then it might work. However, in an alleged straight action drama, Baker’s act is screwy.

The chief deputy sheriff is not much better. Despite the fact that his ex-girlfriend is now married to a wealthy San Francisco real estate developer who has a nice estate down in the Louisiana county, he keeps on messing around with her to the point of going to San Francisco to attend parties that both she and her husband attend. This on a salary that Bridges’s character says is a bit short of $20,000. The husband (Wayne Rogers, formerly Trapper John on M*A*S*H*) is understandably concerned about the fact that this Louisiana lawman keeps on hanging around his wife, especially since the wife clearly likes Bridges’s attention.

As it happens, the husband has every reason to be concerned. His wife wants to murder him and marry Bridges and the chief deputy sheriff kind of waffles on the idea. One night, the wife puts a knockout drug in the husband’s drink and invites her boyfriend over to finish him off. Bridges freaks out, telling his galpal that murder is wrong and should never, ever be done. They put the husband in bed and he wakes up the next morning complaining of a hangover.

It is at this point that the movie lurches beyond the limits of believability. Bridges calls his gal and arranges for her to meet him at the abandoned lighthouse. There, he tells her that he’s decided for reasons too sensitive to share with the audience that he’s decided that she’s right, that hubby must die so that they can get married and live happily everyafter. Not only that, but he’s also come up with the neat idea of doing it in such a way that he can use his position to frame Sutherland for the murder. In other words, the chief deputy sheriff has decided in about 24 hours or so that not only is murder ok, its quite acceptable to frame an innocent man for a capital offense in Louisiana, where they take the death penalty very seriously.

Even more unbelievable is the fact that Bridges and his girl make their plans in Very Loud Voices so that Sutherland, who by the stroke of fate is also in the abandoned lighthouse, hears everything. Being a psycho, he plans on killing the husband himself, framing Bridges for the crime, and then blackmailing the girlfriend into marrying him. Of course he talks all this to himself so that the audience will both know his plans and that he is indeed a psycho.

From this point on, the movie becomes a mess of cliches, even messier than the swamps in the Louisiana county. You can predict every subsequent development all the way to the surprisingly dull climax. The movie ends with Bridges and his soon to be wife walking hand in hand down the road to their country estate in the sunset. Evil triumphs over evil and life continues on in the Louisiana county just as it always has.

And some people wonder why folks in Louisiana have nicknamed their state “Lousyana.”

Rockford Lightning in the News

Both News Items from the Rockford Lightning email list:

BOLTS FALL SHORT TO STORM IN OVERTIME

Rockford, IL- The return to the MetroCentre for the Rockford Lightning was a tight battle, but the Bolts dropped an overtime decision to the Great Lakes Storm, 135-130. This is only Rockford’s third home loss of the season, and second straight loss since the All-Star Break.

The recently-signed Jermaine Walker led the scoring for the Bolts, pouring in 30 points in his first game in Rockford. Stais Boseman tallied 13 assists in the loss, and Jermaine Williams and Livan Pyfrom each had seven boards to lead the way for Rockford. The Lightning had six players score in double figures. Brant Bailey had 25 points, Brian Lubeck had 23 points, Stais Boseman had 19 points, Ronnie Fields had 13 points and Marshall Phillips had 11 points to round out the scoring for the Lightning. Leading all scorers for Great Lakes in the win was Jackie Butler, who had 34 points in the contest for the Storm. The Lightning drop to .500 on the year with a record of 14-14, and earned two quarter points in the defeat.

Rockford travels to Bismarck to take on the Western Conference leading Dakota Wizards for their final back-to-back Western Conference trip of the year. Tip off on Friday and Saturday night at Dakota is at 7:05 p.m. Then, the Lightning return for a rare Monday night matchup with the Great Lakes Storm on January 31 at 7:05 p.m. All kids tickets will be half-price, to order your tickets, call the MetroCentre box office at 815-968-5222.
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HENRY LATEST ADDITION TO LIGHTNING ROSTER

Rockford, IL-Pending league approval, the Rockford Lightning announce the signing of Cordell Henry to the roster. Henry played his college ball at Marquette University as a point guard.

During his college career, the 5-10 Henry started in 110 of the 120 games he played in. He finished fifth all-time in assists at Marquette, finishing his stint with 430 assists. He also holds down the No. 1 spot on the school’s career chart for assists in C-USA games with 244. Henry also finished ninth on the career chart in three point field goals (141) and steals (133). While with the Golden Eagles, he scored in double figures in 64 games, including 18 games in which he scored over 20 points or more. The Chicago native was also a four-year starter at Whitney Young High School, leading the Dolphins to the 1998 Illinois High School Association Class AA boys basketball state title.

“Cordell is a pure point guard with great speed and has a knack for finding people and getting everyone involved. We’re looking for him to compliment our up-tempo style of basketball and give us a solid back-up to compliment Stais Boseman,” says Lightning assistant coach Troy Farrow. Henry joins the recently signed Jermaine Walker, who had 30 points in his Lightning debut last night against Great Lakes. To make room on the roster, the Lightning have waived Carson Cunningham and Jermaine Williams.

The Bolts travel to Bismarck, ND this weekend to take on the Dakota Wizards for another back-to-back set. Game time on Friday and Saturday night is at 7:05 p.m. The Lightning then return home for back-to-back home games on Monday, January 31 and Tuesday, February 1. Rockford hosts Great Lakes for another important Eastern Conference showdown on Monday, and then the Bolts take on rival Gary on Tuesday. Tip-off for both of those games is at 7:05 p.m., and all kids tickets are half-price. To order your tickets, call the MetroCentre box office at 815-968-5222.

Minor League Pro Basketball Roundup

From the Rockford Lightning:

Yakima, WA- The Rockford Lightning needed to start off their second half of the season on a good note, and they did with a split of games over Yakima this past Friday and Saturday. Each game was a close affair, with the outcome being decided with a margin of six points.

Rockford opened up the series this past Friday night with a 112-106 victory over the Sun Kings. Brian Lubeck had 21 points in the game for the Lightning, including two clutch three-pointers down the stretch to seal the deal. Keith Closs had a stellar defensive night in that game, with nine blocked shots, and he also led the way with six rebounds. Rockford picked up six quarter points in Friday night’s victory.

On Saturday night, the tables were turned, as Yakima edged out a 97-91 win over the Bolts. In only his second game back from being on the injured reserve list, Brant Bailey led the scoring for Rockford with 21 points. Marshall Phillips had eight rebounds in the contest, and Ronnie Fields tallied three assists. Despite the loss, Rockford picked up two quarter points in that game, winning the first two quarters.

Rockford returns to the MetroCentre Tuesday night, January 25, to square off against conference rival Great Lakes. Tip off between the Lightning and Storm is set for 7:05 p.m. All kids tickets are half-price, and there will be a post game party at JD’s Bar and Grill following Tuesday’s game. To order your tickets, call the MetroCentre box office at 815-968-5222.

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From the Idaho Stampede:

SEVEN GAME HOME STAND STARTS TUESDAY
The CBA-leading Dakota Wizards come to the Idaho Center tomorrow night,
Olden Polynice leads the Michigan Mayhem to town this weekend, and old
friends from the Sioux Falls arrive Monday. And that’s just the beginning
of the seven-games-in-14-days home stand. So choose your favorite energy
drink, grab your tickets, and head to the Idaho Center early and often in
the coming two weeks!

KANIEL DICKENS REJOINS STAMPEDE
Idaho Hosts Dakota Tomorrow Night at Idaho Center
The Idaho Stampede has reactivated forward Kaniel Dickens following his
stint in the NBA, according to Head Coach Joe Wolf. Dickens will be in the
lineup tomorrow night when the Stampede hosts the Dakota Wizards at the
Idaho Center.

CLANCY NAMED CBA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Third Time This Season, Second Time in a Row
Idaho forward Sam Clancy earned his third Player of the Week award this
season, and second in a row, by posting 30 points and 14 rebounds per game
as he led the Stampede to a 1-1 record during the week. He also added 2.5
assists, 2.5 blocked shots and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 58.0
percent (21 of 36) from the floor.

TUESDAY NIGHT — HARD COURT CAFE MENU
Oriental Chicken Salad $7.00
Crispy chicken strips, chow mien noodles, almonds, Asian vegetables,
mandarin oranges and green leaf mix tossed in a sweet Sesame Vinaigrette and
a fortune cookie.

Shrimp Primavera with Garlic Bread $9.00
Sautéed shrimp with primavera vegetables mixed with a rich cream sauce and
poured over pasta. Served with garlic bread.

HALFTIME SHOWS:
Tuesday Night — Boiseco Gasteak Basque Dancers
Friday and Saturday — The Gentlemen Jugglers

STAMPEDE BASKETBALL – DO IT 7 TIMES IN 2 WEEKS!

Movie Review: Jackson County Jail (1976)

There are some movies that are so poorly made, it defies belief that they ever made it to the silver screen. Jackson County Jail produced by the prolific Roger Corman is one such movie. If it were possible to gauge the IQ of the script writer from this movie, it would be pretty close to zero.

Jackson County Jail is just a slapdash effort. It begins in Los Angeles when liberated career woman Dinah Hunter (Yvette Mimieux) quits her job as a producer of commercials after a client pans one of her latest creations. She then goes home and upon observing that her husband has been teaching their teenage daughter how to swim, talks down to him about how he’s unworthy of being married to a great woman like her and how their daughter ought to be placed in a “day care center” when Mom is at work just as if men are automatically unfit to have any role in the raising of the kids. This scene sents a pattern that holds for the rest of the movie: white liberal lady treats everyone around her like dirt or worse and then acts surprised when the other folks resent her poor behavior.

Once done trashing her husband, she then leaves Los Angeles for a new job in New York, intending to drive herself there. She does so without doing any packing or any of the other things that you would expect someone who’s planning on such a long drive to do. One aspect of long distance driving that she is quite clearly incapable of doing is navigation and map reading. Driving from L.A. to N.Y. clearly means going northwards, but she actually drives into the Deep South. On her trip, she humiliates a waitress and picks up a pair of hitch hiking punks who clearly have trouble written all over them. Once she makes it clear to them that she intends on driving north, they hijack the car and rob her.

Now, you would think that now that she is in peril, the California gal would start treating folks like fellow human beings at least long enough to get herself out of trouble. If so, you obviously are not familiar with the work of producer Roger Corman. In Corman’s movies, all women who do not observe traditional values are overbearing, nasty scum who get their comeuppance by getting raped and worse. Likewise, all non-heterosexual characters in Corman movies get themselves killed. Another constant theme of Corman movies is that Southerners are all a bunch of ignorant yahoos with Southern law enforcement officers being the worst of the lot. As we will see, Jackson County Jail is a perfect example of these themes of Roger Corman’s films.

Anyways, back to the movie. After the hijack, Dinah enlists the aid of a restaurant owner who calls the sheriff’s office on her behalf. However, she misjudges the kindness of the restauranteur as being a prelude to a rape attempt or something and she launches into a physical assault upon the poor man right in time for the Deputy Sheriff to walk into the scene and arrest her on the spot. Once at the jail, she is then raped by a different deputy who is apparently the sheriff’s official rapist. In an unbelievably fakey scene, she kills the pervert and frees both herself and another inmate even though the other guy is a braggart of a criminal. They steal a car and on the way to the criminal’s hideout, they get into a goofy chase with the now drunken sheriff. This chase ends when the sheriff gets into a head-on crash with a car that has a pair of transvestites in the front seats. Once at the hideout, where there is a pair of lesbians and other obviously undesirables, Dinah pulls her Mrs. Superior act until the cops show up and a gunfight ensues. Both Dinah and the criminal escape, but not until after we get to see both lesbians die.

This is the point where the movie really gets bad. Dinah gets into a discussion of right and wrong with her hardened criminal buddy and all but calls him a piece of white trash. Apparently all those years in the California sun have dulled Dinah’s mind or something. Her accomplice responds only by saying that she must have lived a sheltered life. Eventually, Dinah is severely injured by gunshots and caught. Her buddy gets himself gunned down right in the middle of a bicentennial parade which continues on despite the fact that police are engaged in a running gunfight with a hardened criminal whose six-shooter never runs out of bullets and several paraders and onlookers get downed by stray bullets. Even by Roger Corman’s standards, this is pretty unreal.

Jackson County Jail is garbage that is only effective as unintentional comedy. Even on those undemanding standards, it is pretty bad. If you want to get your intelligence insulted, then this is the movie for you.

Movie Review: The Affair (1973 TV)

The Affair is a made for TV movie that is about as interesting as watching water boil. Made in 1973, it is one of the few films in which Natalie Wood sings and it is one of the few times that Wood and her real life husband Robert Wagner appeared in the same production. Wood & Wagner may have had tremendous chemistry together in person, however it did not translate that well to the screen, at least not in this movie.

In fact, there really is not much in the way of “chemistry” in this movie, either between Wagner & Wood or between any of the other characters. This may have been reflective of the true state of their marriage. At the time of Wood’s death in an alleged boating accident, there has been an aura of suspicion surrounding husband Wagner with some tabloid TV shows even insinuating that he murdered his wife. Certainly, his behavior after his wife’s death helped to fuel suspicions since Wagner seemed almost hell-bent on engaging in public romances with practically every unmarried actress he could get his hands on. To this day, he has never shown the kind of grief that one would expect to see a husband show over the death of a loved one.

In The Affair, Wagner comes across as a stalker type to Wood’s fluffy singer/songwriter character, practically forcing himself into her life. Wood’s character, legs paralyzed from childhood polio, finally gives into his advances, and before you know it, proclaiming his love for her.

The progression of their relationship is erratically presented and this, coupled with choppy editing, leads the viewer to be less than assured as to what is transpiring, motivation being almost completely ignored in the writing. You never understand just why Wagner’s character is attracted to that of Wood or what she seems in him. One gets the impression that the producer, Aaron Spelling, assumed that since the audience already knew that Wagner & Wood were married in real life, there was no real need to actually portray an actual romance between their characters. Just simply going through the motions was good enough for Spelling, but not for the demands of making a good movie.

The poor plot development is not the only problem with this movie. The quality of the direction is very poor, even by made for TV movie standards. The plot is weak and the characters grossly underdeveloped. This movie has all sorts of 1970’s fashions including bell bottoms, shag carpeting, and Elton John glasses. Wood is supposed to have to use crutches due to her medical condition, but every once in a while, we see her standing up and/or walking without crutches then in the same scene, the crutches magically re-appear on her. Evidently, whilst shooting, someone would notice that Wood was without her crutches and she would then be outfitted with them and the shooting would then recommence. Apparently, the producer thought that we the viewers would be too stupid to notice. Either that or he was too cheap to bother having the crutchless scenes redone.

Speaking of the flick’s budget, you can tell that it was really tight. Too tight to afford a decent script writer. The Affair is loaded with all sorts of abstract, unbelievable, and unnatural dialogue.

Unless you really like dull, pointless movies, this is one flick to avoid like the plague.

Rockford RiverHawks FanFest

From the Rockford RiverHawks email list:

ROCKFORD, Ill., The guest list for the second annual Rockford RiverHawks FanFest continues to grow.

Today, the RiverHawks announced that former Chicago White Sox pitcher Steve Trout and former RiverHawk Rich Austin will attend the event, scheduled to run from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, February 13 at J.D.’s Sports Bar and Grill, 908 W. Riverside Blvd.

Former Chicago Cub Andre Dawson will headline FanFest 2005. Dawson, the 1987 National League Most Valuable Player, will be available to meet fans, sign autographs and take questions from the crowd. Other special guests will include current and former RiverHawks, former Rockford Peaches, members of the coaching staff and Rocko the RiverHawk.

Events include signing sessions with Dawson and the other players, games, silent auctions, an inning-a-minute baseball tournament and prize giveaways.

Tickets for the event are just $6 each, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. Fans will also have the chance to purchase season-ticket packages and guarantee a seat at the June 8 opening of the RiverHawks’ new stadium. Tickets can also be purchased in advance at JD’s by calling 639-9488 or at Johnny O’s Mobile Sports by calling 226-8428 or visiting its location at 1404 20th St.

Children 12 and under who are members of the 2005 Rocko’s Kids Club will receive free admission, whether they register for the club in advance or at the door. Kids Club membership, which includes a club T-shirt and tickets to the RiverHawks’ top 10 promotional nights. Events for the kids at FanFest will include an inflatable moonwalk, clinics and many other exciting activities.

The RiverHawks are the defending champions of the Frontier League, a 12-team independent professional baseball league that will play its 13th season in 2005.

Minor League Pro Basketball in the News

From the Rockford Lightning email list:

DALEO LEADS EAST TO ALL-STAR CLASSIC WIN

Gary, IN- The last time Chris Daleo coached an All-Star team in 2002, he lost. This time, the result was different, as the Eastern Conference All-Stars edged the Western Conference, 114-110.

Rockford’s Marshall Phillips had a strong showing in his first All-Star appearance, scoring 16 points. Phillips was also the leading rebounder for the East, hauling down nine boards in the game. Stais Boseman also helped the cause, scoring seven points, three assists, and six rebounds for the Eastern Conference. The leading scorer for the Eastern Conference was Gary’s David Graves, who scored 20 points, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc.

“It’s good to get a win no matter what the venue. It was a great atmosphere, the Gary Steelheads rolled out the red carpet and really ran a classy show. This experience for fans, players, and CBA personnel, is what All-Star game showcases are all about,” says victorious All-Star Coach Chris Daleo. Idaho’s Sam Clancy walked away with the MVP award, with 25 points and 17 rebounds in the Western Conference’s loss.

The Rockford Lightning board a plane to head out to Yakima to start the second half of the season for back-to-back contests. Friday and Saturday night, the Bolts square off against the SunKings, both games start at 9:05 p.m. Central Time. Rockford does not return to the MetroCentre until Tuesday, January 25th, when they host Eastern Conference rival Great Lakes. Like all weekday games, all kids tickets will be half-price. Enjoy a performance by the Stephen Mack Middle School Dance Team at halftime of the game. Tip off is slated for 7:05 p.m, for tickets, call the MetroCentre box office at 815-968-5222.
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From the Idaho Stampede email list:

OFF TO SEE THE WIZARDS & SKYFORCE
Itinerant Stampede Swing Through Dakotas for Two

The Idaho Stampede squad arrived in snowy Bismarck today after flight
cancellations in Boise, a midnight bus trip to Salt Lake, and an early plane
ride via Denver. The team reassembled 24-hours later than planned and will
reacquaint briefly before facing the CBA’s top team, the Dakota Wizards.

Immediately following tonight’s game, the travel party will board a bus for
the overnight ride to Sioux Falls for a Saturday night date with the
SkyForce.

Both games can be heard live on KFXD 630 AM at 6:05 p.m. (MST). A text-only
play-by-play and statistical webcast occurs live at www.cbahoopsonline.com.

SATURDAY 9:30 A.M. KTIK 1350 AM IS THE TICKET
Stampede Radio Show with Mark Snider, Guests, and Giveaways

Tune in tomorrow morning for the Stampede Radio Show hosted by Mark Snider.
Mark will have Coach Joe Wolf on for a live interview (cell service willing)
and share a prerecorded chat with exciting rookie Alhaji Mohammed. CBA PR
Director Todd Anderson will also join Mark to discuss the recent CBA
All-Star Game and other league activities. Listen and win with ISG Trivia!

7-GAME HOMESTAND STARTS TUESDAY
Help Us Build Attendance with Group Tickets

We have seven straight home games beginning Tuesday, Jan. 25th. Help us
keep the energy level high at the Idaho Center — we need leads for Group
Ticket Sales. The sales staff the Stampede can arrange special pricing,
seating, and recognition for your group. Just call 388-HOOP today!

Movie Review: Black Brigade (1970 TV)

This is a good example of how ignorance by Hollywood types of military history can result in a really bad, not to mention unintentionally funny, movie. This was a 1970 ABC TV movie written by Aaron Spelling.

The movie begins when Captain Carter (Stephen Boyd) is asked to go on a dangerous mission to blow up a Nazi held dam 50 miles behind enemy lines and the unit chosen to accomplish the task is ‘B’ Company which is all black and which is a sanitation unit. The men in this unit do hard physical work including digging latrines, digging graves, dealing with garbage, etc. Despite the fact that soldiers of this type did not receive much combat training and certainly none of the training needed for daring commando type missions, Carter asks their lieutenant in charge for ‘volunteers’, and he picks 6 men.

These black soldiers are nothing like what real black soldiers from the WWII era were really like. These soldiers have attitude and are not afraid to yell and scream at their white commanding officer about the unfairness of life. Also, all the black actors have big afros and a few have mustaches/goatees in keeping with 1970 fashions. Richard Pryor sports a natty red beret throughout the whole movie. In real life, anyone wearing such a beret and sporting afros and the mustaches/goatees would have been in serious trouble.

Now, you’d expect that the soldiers would receive some sort of special training and special advanced planning for their mission. No such thing. You would also expect that the soldiers would be airlifted to somewhere near their target. Once again, no such thing. Instead, the troopers just simply walk down a road in broad daylight. And they manage to penetrate the enemy lines without encountering any Germans, military or civilian and on top of that, they manage to come near the dam 50 miles behind the enemy lines strictly by walking in not more than a day. Unreal.

They stop at a house occupied by a native woman (Susan Oliver) who has zero German accent and there Capt. Carter listens to the radio for his orders. Now, in real life, these orders would have been broadcasted in either code or in such a way that only someone in the know would really know what was going on. Instead, Carter’s commanding officer engages in total disregard for even basic communications security telling him everything in plainspoken English even telling him that on the next day the Third Regiment was going to launch an offensive to gain that dam going the full 50 miles in less than a day and that Capt. Carter and his ludricously small command had to secure the dam for the offensive to succeed. This is interesting since any real life WWII offensive that could have gained 50 miles in a single day would have been considered the Eighth Miracle of the World. And for good reason too: In real life, no single offensive ever gained anywhere near that kind of territory in one day.

Despite the fact that the Germans monitored Allied radio communications and surely picked the unguarded orders, once Capt. Carter’s unit arrives at the dam, they find it guarded only by a couple incompetents who are quickly dispatched. Then, the unit moved on to find four Germans who are fixing on blowing the dam despite the fact that they did not have anywhere near enough dynamite to make a serious dent in the dam, let alone blow it up. These enemy troops are also eliminated with ease. As if on cue, the Third Regiment shows up without showing any signs of ever being in combat and the operation is judged a success and one of the soldiers is notified that he will receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. End of movie.

This is a war action movie without any real suspense nor did it even try to replicate anything even halfway authentic. If anything, it falls into the genre of movies like Where Eagles Dare in which the killing of enemy troops is as easy as pie, prompting viewers to wonder if its so easy for the good guys to kill off the bad guys, then why did WWII last so long?

“White Noise” Receives Low Marks From Ghost Hunters

In the latest issue of the International Ghost Hunters Society newsletter, there is this take on the flick
White Noise
that is currently playing in theaters:

We have some feed back on the White Noise film. So far the bottom line is that the film portrays a negative image of EVP researchers and that white noise/static is the only method for recording ghost voices, which is absolutely false. The film presents the idea that demons will kill any and all EVP researchers. This kind of belief that demons will hunt down EVP researchers reminds me of the over zealous minister pounding on the pulpit threatening the congregation with hell fire and damnation if they get involved with the evils of ghost hunting. Ghost hunting is a safe and enjoyable hobby for people everywhere. Ghosts do not sleep so investigations can be scheduled during the day rather then late at night. We teach the only thing you have to fear in an investigation is the living, not the dead.

The newsletter goies on to insinuate that religious “fundamentalists” are behind what amounts to an attack on ghost hunters and other investigators into the paranormal. However, that notion assumes that religious people have some sort of power and influence in Hollywood, which the ongoing glut of sex and violence laden movies basically disproves.

In any event, White Noise has received
generally poor marks from reviewers
with the result that hopefully the next time Hollowood tackles this subject, it will be done with a greater degree of intelligence.

Cries of “Racism” Used to Squelch Criticism of Unqualified Candidate

The Illinois Leader website has run
an article attempting to portray critics of Secretary of State appointee Condoleeza Rice as “racist.”
This article makes the unsubstantiated claim that a victim of racist violence during the Civil Rights movement in Alabama was a friend of Rice. Even if that were true, that has no bearing on the fact that Rice, who either flagrantly lied or did not care to get her facts straight on the issue of alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

According to the article:

Here’s but a snippet: In his recent comic strip, Doonesbury creator and liberal Democrat Garry Trudeau depicts Dr. Rice as an un-educated idiot, and refers to her as “Brown Sugar.” In his recent cartoon, liberal Democrat and syndicated cartoonist Pat Oliphant characterizes Dr. Rice as a squawking parrot perched upon President Bush’s finger, blindly, mindlessly and dutifully observing his every whim. Her lips are exaggerated in a grossly bulbous and ethnically stereotypical fashion. And, with his recent masterpiece, liberal Democrat and LA Times editorial cartoonist Jeff Danziger reminds us all of the days when the KKK actually had some pull. His cartoon portrays Dr. Rice as, what can only be described as a tattered barefoot slave “mammy” (probably Prissy from Gone with the Wind). She sits in a rocking chair with her legs spread. On her lap she holds an aluminum tube like an infant (ostensibly a tube of the uranium enrichment variety). She attempts to feed the tube with a bottle and then, in the stereotypical vernacular of a “colored,” says, “I knows all about aluminum tubes. Correction. I don’t know nuthin’ about aluminum tubes.”

However, he then fails to link to any of these examples of alleged racism. Why? Is he afraid that the reader upon looking at these allegedly racist images and comparing them to his descriptions, would find that he has attempted to deceive them?

Its bad enough to support the nomination of such a manifestly unqualified candidate whose sole assets for office lies not in her character or accomplishments, but solely in her skin color and her sex. However, to go and invent and/or distort legitimate criticism of such an unqualifed person as being “racist” is completely beyond the pale.

Ronny Fields 10 Years Later

Here’s an interesting story from the Rockford Lightning email list:

Ten years ago, basketball fans who couldn’t afford even the nosebleed seats in the United Center to catch the ever-popular Michael Jordan, were treated to watching his protégé across town at Farragut Academy … until that fateful night on February 26, 1996 …

That’s the night that Farragut Academy senior Ronnie Fields was involved in an automobile accident that would change his life forever. Former Farragut teammate Kevin Garnett, in his first season in the NBA after jumping straight to Minnesota from high school, was dismayed at the news he received upon his arrival into Chicago for their Feb. 27th game versus the Bulls.

Garnett was shaken by the news he received, but “late in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, Timberwolves were headed for their 38th defeat and another loss to the Chicago Bulls. Somewhere in the usual misery for the Wolves, Kevin Garnett found the strength to smile after dunking over Bulls center Luc Longley. Maybe Garnett just wanted to let everyone know he was all right.”

Garnett has gone on to a long and storied career with those same Minnesota Timberwolves while the next big thing to come out of Farragut lay in a hospital, wondering where his once-promising basketball career was going to end up.

Not just as a pro.

You see, this kid was LeBron before there was a LeBron.

2,600 points, 372 dunks.

“Coming out of eighth grade, he was dunking on grown men like they were little kids,” said William Nelson, Fields’ high school coach. “People were talking that he might as well skip high school and go straight to college.”

He was called the ‘King of Hops’ around Chi-town. To this day, a huge mural of Fields adorns the gymnasium in his inner-city Chicago high school, showing him soaring impossibly high above the rim, accompanied by statistics that speak of the spectacular. The mural is nearly three times the size of another across the gym for Garnett, Fields’ former teammate and the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player.

Ronnie was a McDonald’s High School All-American who had plans, if he didn’t get drafted as high as he should have been, to go to DePaul in his hometown of Chicago.

But, thanks to the accident, instead of his Hoop Dreams being lived out in front of him, they stayed in his head … inside another 18″ hoop … a black one, not an orange one. Ronnie Fields was in a halo while he recovered.

Not the angelic kind, but the kind that’s screwed into your skull at six different points.

But Fields was never the kind to give up. Here’s why:

Flash back almost ten years ago, about this time of year. You’re driving along a freeway late at night, had the accident … what went through your mind?

Well, basketball-wise, not hoping or even being able to play no more.

Many felt you could have made the same hop KG and LeBron did … straight to the pros. The next thing everyone saw after the accident was you coming out of the hospital in the halo. How hard was the road back to recovery? Did you think you’d totally lost your career?

Oh, yeah … it was tough. Because you never know when or if you’ll come back from a neck injury. You have to know if you’ll be able to play contact or not, so that situation … it took me a while to get back to being comfortable with what I was doing, back to being aggressive.

How long did it take to getting back to contact drills and such?

It took me almost a year to get my feel back and to really know when I could go out there, ‘cuz at times I rushed it a little, I think. And had a little setback or two, trying to get out there and do some thing … being anxious to get out there and play again, so, yeah … about a year.

You were living with your coach at the time … did he stick with you?

It was a back and forth thing, we’d go out and work out and he’d take me to school and stuff in the morning … but he was there … he stuck with me.

And wasn’t it DePaul you were going to go to?

Yeah, it was DePaul … the situation didn’t unfold like it was planned. It was just one of those years, with the accident and all … I just went overseas. I kind of regret that decision … I should have probably just gone to junior college and went back to DePaul … but you learn from those things.

You went overseas … how many years before you were stateside again?

I went over for a little while, then I came back and (CBA) La Crosse (Catbirds) had my rights and I went to La Crosse, but I wanted to get to Rockford, so the next season I went and played for Rockford.

Any interest from NBA teams at all?

I was up at New Jersey before Byron Scott had got the job, with a coach that liked me a lot. (John) Calipari, after he got fired, the assistant that came in (Don Casey) and there was some concern with (Kerry) Kittles and whether he was going to come back, but it ended up a numbers thing … there was interest from New Jersey again, but Byron came in and all that changed. I’m still having some solid seasons, though. But I’ve learned you’ve got to do more. This year, I’m showing I can do more than just score the basketball. I don’t really look to score as much as I have the past few years. Now I look to push my assists up and a more all-around game. Because that’s the thing … before it was, “Ronnie — score, score, score … ”

But that was you … that was your thing at Farragut, your trademark … you were Baby Jordan in most people’s eyes.

Well, when you get to levels like this, and to the League, you gotta bring a lot more attention to your game other than scoring points. Getting stops, creating shots for others, and finding your teammates is important, because there’s a lot of guys out here who can just go out and score points.

What do the next ten years hold for you?

Well, I don’t know. I’ll finish up this season and we’re just tryin’ to win. Gotta keep our team together. We got some guys banged up and then see where it can go from here. If not, then I’ll go overseas and probably finish up over there. Make a good living, then come back and probably do a little coaching, or radio or something in Chicago. But, I’m just having fun right now. I’m just back for my fifth game after my thumb injury and I’m feeling good.

Wow! Ten years … hard to believe it was that long ago you were wowing high school crowds. You’re gettin’ old, man …

Hopefully I can tell those younger guys that are coming up, that there’s a lot you can learn. I mean, especially if you’ve fought the wars I have. I took a road that most guys … they wouldn’t even think about keeping playing. In this field, for your living, something you wanna do for a job, there’s a lot of energy and effort and work you have to put into it. When I was playing in India overseas, it’s not easy. A lot of guys come out of high school and college and don’t stop to realize, “Okay, what if I DON’T get that opportunity to play at the next level?” Do you give up? Stop playing? Or just go on to something else? And there’s a lot of guys that have done that. A lot of people have asked me, especially about my situation, “Will you stop playing?” No. I love to play … it’s still a challenge for me and I love a challenge …

I get up every day and I look forward to playing this game.

Rgh. Drft. Movie Review: Alexander (2004)

In the last few years, there has been a deluge of historical epic would-be blockbuster movies. One such flick is Oliver Stone’s Alexander (2004). This movie is a festival of risible wiggery. The hair on many of the actors in this film look more like mops than real hair.

It is fitting that someone like Oliver Stone who had butchered recent American history in many of his movies did the same for ancient history in this movie. The major battles in this movie are sloppy, overedited and consumed with CGI. Stone could have studied the Victor Mature films of the 1950s, many of which did the historical epic thing much better and in a more interesting manner than Alexander.

This movie is supposed to make the case that Alexander the Great was a homosexual, but all you see in that direction is just so much silliness. The talents of many actors and actresses are wasted in this dreary movie and its awful script. An example of the alleged dialogue in this movie: “And you, unbreakable Antigonous!”

This is a movie with zero redeeming qualities and as such it should be avoided at all costs.

Movie Review: Nate and Hayes (1983)

Nate and Hayes (1983) is an unjustly obscure movie that is in many ways one of the very best swashbuckling movies ever made. In this movie, we get to see Tommy Lee Jones sporting a beard and a white suit that looks like the sort of thing that a lot of 19th Century planters wore. That choice of outfit is most fitting given the fact that Capt. “Bully” Hayes is, among other things, a slave trader. Michael O’Keefe is a Christian missionary to convert the heathen of the South Pacific and Jenny Seagrove is his wife.

However, the best character in the movie is Capt. Ben Pease (Australian actor Max Phipps). Pease is the real pirate here, dressed in black with a neat looking hat. Pease becomes allied with the German Empire and its ineffectual naval commander in the Pacific in his fight against Capt. Hayes. Another opponent of Hayes is cannibalistic, human-sacrificing South Pacific Islander prince.

The plot is filled with cliffhangers and the characters are robust. Tommy Lee Jones is compelling as the swashbuckling Bully Hayes, and the gorgeous Jenny Seagrove is the kind of “damsel in distress” that we’d all love to rescue from the evil Capt. Pease.

This movie was filmed in the South Pacific and Fiji islands, not some back lot studio in Hollywood. The majority of actors in the film are local natives of the islands were the movie was filmed, which adds to the authenticity of the movie. Also great about this movie, though, was the humor and how it not only comes from the situations, but especially from the characters, who they are and how they react in those situations.

This movie did poor business in theaters, possibly because Nate and Hayes sounds more like a department store than a swashbuckler. The UK title, “Savage Islands”, summed it up much better. There are rousing action sequences and a host of neat touches which suggest a lot of care went into the film. The film’s music is especially good.

Most obscure movies deserve to remain obscure. Nate and Hayes, however, is one obscure flick that you really should check out.

Terrorism in New Jersey

From Power Line about a case in New Jersey that has received precious little attention from the national news media:

Reader Tom Pechinski points out that the ABC television affiliate in New York has reported another possible terrorist connection in the horrifying case of the family of Coptic Christians who had their throats cut after the father argued with Muslims on a web site:

ABC News has learned that a cousin of the slain family has been a translator working for the prosecution in the trial of Lynne Stewart. She is the radical lawyer accused of smuggling messages from imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, to terrorist cell members and associates.
The first report on the murder said that the family’s valuables were found in the home, so that robbery did not appear to be a possible motive. Today’s story, on the other hand, says that no cash or jewelry was found in the home.

A funeral was held for the Armanious family in Jersey City today; more than 2,000 people attended. Scuffles broke out as many in the crowd of mourners blamed Muslim terrorists for the murders. The photo below shows the funeral procession with the caskets of Hossam Armanious, his 37-year-old wife, Amal Garas, and their daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8.

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Movie Review: The Rocketeer (1991)

The Rocketeer is a greatly underrated science fiction action movie set during the late 1930’s when the world was both in the Great Depression & was inching towards World War II. This particular movie was made in 1991 and based on a graphic novel by Dave Stevens.

This movie is of the same flavor of the Republic serials of the 1930s and 1940s and it captures the spirit of the pulp magazines of the time. This is fitting since the original Dave Stevens comics captured the spirit of 1930’s aviation pulps, as well as Doc Savage and Republic Studios. Unfortunately, Doc Savage could not be included in this movie, but Howard Hughes made a great substitution. The film was full of action and humor, cliffhangers and character; just like Stevens’ creation.

The movie opens in the year 1938 when air races were as important to the American people as NASCAR auto racing is today. Heroes were made out of aviators. Airplanes that later became famous as fighters in WWII, Curtis P-40s and the British Spitfires, were originally designed as racers.

Hollywood is at its zenith, and Cliff Secord (Bill Campbell) and his friend/mentor Peevy (Alan Arkin) are getting their newest stunt plane ready for a national flying competition. Meanwhile, Cliff’s girlfriend Jenny (Jennifer Connelly) is a struggling young actress trying to make it in Hollywood, one bit-part at a time. Cliff finds and dons an experimental rocket pack.

Unknown to Cliff, actor/Nazi agent Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton) wants the rocket pack very badly indeed, and when he overhears bit-player Jenny and her boyfriend Cliff talking about the rocket while on the set of his latest film, he immediately sets out to seduce the young actress in an attempt to get to Cliff and his coveted jet-pack.

Although the film does have its credibility gets stretched pretty thin in places (why doesn’t Cliff ever run out of fuel or get his legs burnt off?) the story is solid and enjoyable and the visual effects still hold up quite nicely. The movie also features a neat explanation for how the “HOLLYWOODLAND” sign was shortened to just “HOLLYWOOD”.

The acting is consistently good. Bill Campbell was perfect for Cliff Secord. Alan Arkin made a great Peevy, although he a bit less cantankerous than in the original comic . He was more of a Connecticut Yankee than grouchy mechanic. Timothy Dalton made a great Errol Flynn type and this was the first on screen hint of Flynn’s involvement with the Nazi’s during WWII.Much has been written on the subject, but nobody, until this picture, dared to dramatize it.

This movie has everything: Hollywood in its golden age, German spies, G-men and gangsters, elaborate nightclubs, big band music, and best of all, a hero who flies around like a bat out of hell with a jet-pack strapped to his back. The fact that during his first few times with the rocket he kept crashing into everything made Cliff Secord more believable as the Rocketeer.

The Rocketeer is a “feel-good” movie. It has an All American, Mom, Baseball and Apple Pie feel, to it, and for that quality, I love it. It’s just a very good movie for kids and adults alike. That’s why this movie is great.

Brave New White Sox

Welcome to the 2005 Chicago White Sox.

For the past four seasons, the Sox have tried to win with a mediocre pitching staff and a super slugger lineup, and the end result was that the Sox missed the playoffs for 4 straight years. The Sox would often score ten or more runs one night and zero the next. As a result, the team stayed around .500 in the years following the 2000 AL Central Division championship season.

The Sox led the majors in homers with 242 last year, despite losing both Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas to injuries. Without Carlos Lee, Jose Valentin and Ordonez, that number should go down. . Last season, the slugging Sox were third in runs scored with 865. That number could stay the same or even rise with more judicious hitting.

Given the past history of new Sox Scott Podsednik, he should greatly raise the team’s average & OBP & steal a boatload of bases. Last season while with the Brewers, Podsednik stole 70 while the Sox team stole 78. If Podsednik can teach other Sox players his tricks, the team may become a storm of lightning bolts on the bases next year, which, at the very least, would make them a more potent baserunning threat than in the past.

The most crucial aspect of Williams’ new plan is the revamped starting pitching staff. In previous seasons, the No. #5 starter spot has been an Achilles heel. In 2003, Esteban Loazia turned out to be much more than a scrub, but in 2004 he lost his magic and was traded away.

The Sox have dropped Jon Garland from third to fifth in the rotation, there are new pitchers in Orlando Hernandez and Jose Contreras, to follow the team’s two stars, Mark Buehrle and Freddy Garcia. Clearly, this is the best Sox rotation since 1993.

There is enough pitching talent on hand to overcome the routine injury problems that a MLB team faces every season. Imagine what could happen if both El Duque and Contreras remain healthy for an entire season. Imagine what could happen if Garland matures and Buehrle has a Cy Young campaign. If that happens, the Sox could be on their way to the playoffs, and that’s without considering the improved bullpen. Both of the Sox’s new relievers, Dustin Hermanson & Luis Vizcaino are proven relief pitching stalwarts.

Welcome to the 2005 Chicago White Sox.

The True Colors of A.J. Pierzynski

In light of
this story from the SanFrancisco Chronicle
, White Sox GM Ken Williams surely must be having second thoughts about his new Catcher:

One of those now-it-can-be-told stories the White Sox, A.J. Pierzynski’s new employer, surely haven’t heard: During a Giants exhibition game last spring, Pierzynski took a shot to his, shall we say, private parts. Trainer Stan Conte rushed to the scene, placed his hands on Pierzynski’s shoulders in a reassuring way, and asked how it felt. “Like this,” said Pierzynski, viciously delivering a knee to Conte’s groin. It was a real test of professionalism for the enraged Conte, who vowed to ignore Pierzynski for the rest of the season until Conte realized how that would look. The incident went unreported because all of the beat writers happened to be doing in-game interviews in the clubhouse, but it was corroborated by a half-dozen eyewitnesses who could hardly believe their eyes. Said one source, as reliable as they come: “There is absolutely no doubt that it happened.”

Free Baseball MMORPG Making a Big Hit

Ultimate Baseball Online is a free Massively Multiplayer Online RPG centered around baseball that is making a hit with fans as shown by this post from Soxtalk:

I couldn’t get search working to see if someone has mentioned this game before. Basically, you go online and create a baseball player at some position and play online games with other people. You can create teams or just play pickup games and earn skill points to make your player better. I think it would be neat if we got a team together and joined one of the leagues.

Ball-Wonk’s Letter to Esteban Loaiza

Journeyman Esteban Loaiza has just been given some unsolicited advice to avoid Washington, D.C. like the plague by Ball Wonk. Key quote:

And then there’s the awful, awful life a ballplayer can expect to live. You think you had it tough in Yankee stadium when the fans booed you for posting that 8.50 ERA? That ain’t nothing to what DC has in store. In this town, decorated war heroes who left their limbs on the battlefield or who still carry enemy bullets in their bodies are regularly attacked as cowards and traitors by lesser men. In this town, people will falsely accuse a man of pedophilia just to win a local election, and laugh about it afterwards. No place on earth has less sympathy for a loser than Washington; just ask Al Gore how many parties he gets invited to.

Hmmmm…….

Heard on the radio today that Sean Connery is writing his autobiography. What I’d like to know is just how he’s going to explain his being on the cast of

Zardoz
, which is surely one of the goofiest flicks of all time and certainly one that you would not expect someone like Connery in.