Saturday, June 8, 2013

2013 Special Election

I'm late and haven't been doing much with this blog, but for tradition's sake I'll post my vote for my own reference.


MECANDIDATEENDORSEMENTS
MULTNOMAH EDUCATION SERVICE DISTRICT
OR SECRETARY OF STATE
[_]Patrick Lasswell NON-PARTISAN
[X]Nels Johnson NON-PARTISANWillamette Week

PORTLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT #1JT
DIRECTOR, ZONE 4
[X]Martin Gonzalez NON-PARTISANWillamette Week, The Oregonian
[_]Steve Buel NON-PARTISAN
DIRECTOR, ZONE 5
[X]Pam Knowles NON-PARTISAN
DIRECTOR, ZONE 6
[X]Tom Koehler NON-PARTISANWillamette Week, The Oregonian
[_]David Morrison NON-PARTISAN
"...Morrison filed a 2011 federal lawsuit, alleging Wi-Fi is a health hazard to students. (As WW has reported, PPS has spent more than $170,000 defending itself against Morrison’s claim.) His campaign is based on his Wi-Fi obsession...." - WILLAMETTE WEEK

CITY OF PORTLAND
MEASURE 26-150: Renew five-year levy to prevent child abuse child hunger.
[X]YesWillamette Week, Portland Mercury, The Oregonian
[_]No
Technically, social services is county responsibility not a city responsibility. However, considering all of the other strange tasks the city takes on (i.e. streetcars, arts education, selling toilets to other cities, etc.), Portlanders don't seem to care about such technicalities. What is more troubling is why do Portlanders have to cover what the county and state should be doing.
MEASURE 26-151: Fluoridation of Portland drinking water supply.
[X]YesWillamette Week, Portland Mercury, The Oregonian
[_]No
"...Among the hundreds of fluoride studies, there is little evidence that fluoridation is harmful. Here’s how the CDC put it: 'The weight of peer-reviewed scientific evidence does not support an association between water fluoridation and any adverse health effect or systemic disorders.'...
...Fluoridation critics cannot produce any nefarious explanation for why government scientists, public health officials and dentists all support fluoridation....
...The fact is, the health benefits of fluoridation would accrue primarily to those who have bad teeth now—disproportionately low-income and minority children."
- WILLAMETTE WEEK

METRO
MEASURE 26-152: Local option levy: Improve natural areas, water quality for fish.
[X]YesWillamette Week, Portland Mercury, Portland Tribune
[_]No The Oregonian

Friday, March 22, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful: C

oz the great and powerful

Scott and I saw Oz The Great and Powerful a couple of weekends ago. I was a little reluctant to see it. While I enjoyed the musical Wicked's jaded retelling of the Wizard of Oz story, I was concerned this retelling of Oz would merely be a pointless CGI update of a classic movie like 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

James Franco's performance as the wizard was more convincing than I expected. While it's hard not to recognize familiar actors, his character seemed plausible. Zach Braff's two characters were basically Zach Braff which I didn't feel fit well. And through no fault of Mila Kunis's performance, I couldn't help but affectionately think "Meg" each time she spoke.

There were little things that annoyed me. The movie tried to pay respect to the original classic, but the effort was weak. The opening title and first scenes were in black & white to reference the 1939 movie. However, instead of actually using 1930s film techniques, the title sequence was merely a CGI rendering -- like the motion picture version of a cheap Instagram retro filter.

What concerned me the most though was that this prequel was setting-up to a Wizard of Oz remake. I know corporate Hollywood now merely regurgitates the same few movie franchises repeatedly, but the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz is practically sacred and timeless. A reboot should be a fully creative reboot -- not retro-looking.

Overall, not a terrible movie, but predictable.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Argo: A

Argo (2012)

Scott and I saw Argo just before the Oscars. It was an enjoyable movie with an interesting story and great cast. I prefer historically-based movies -- even though I always wonder how much of it was true. However, I haven't heard any complaint about the movie's accuracy. It even compared the actors with the real life characters in the end titles.

Zero Dark Thirty: C

Zero Dark Thirty-00

Scott and I saw Zero Dark Thirty about a month ago. I remember it was a compromise selection as there wasn't anything playing that we really wanted to see.

I enjoyed director Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, so I had high hopes for this movie with similar military themes. Like the bomb-defusing scenes of The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty had some intense scenes waiting for a potential explosion. However, the suspense for me waned as we all knew the main character probably wouldn't be killed.

The much discussed interrogation scenes were disturbing and were definitely torture. Is it just me though, but I'm a bit weary of re-opening the torture debate of the last decade. I suspect many of us would prefer to put the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield days behind us and hope that doesn't happen any more -- or at least we won't hear about it.

The movie was well-paced, which I appreciate. The movie's biggest drawback was it basically ended at the completion of the Bin Laden killing mission, which was not very suspenseful considering the details of the raid have been widely reported. Like The Hurt Locker which focused on a soldier's struggle to transition to civilian life, I would have much rather have seen what happened to the characters after the Bin Laden mission ended.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Les Misérables: C (B for musical)

les miserables movie poster.jpg

Scott, ma, and I saw Les Misérables several weeks ago, but I'm just now posting my thoughts before tonight's Oscars. Having never seen the stage version, I didn't know what to expect other than a lot of singing. There was almost no dialogue. The constant singing seemed like a endless medley, but I don't watch many musicals.

One of the promotional clips mentioned that the singing was filmed live with an elaborate system of hidden earpieces and carefully mic'd stages. While live singing would seem to be better than voice over, I can't say it made much difference to me. Other than Anne Hathaway's Oscar-baiting performance [of that Susan Boyle song :)] filmed in a confined space, the sound quality was still fainter and less clear than voice over. And, regardless of the terrific technical efforts, singing dialogue inherently undermines authenticity of any scene.

Weeks later, I recall that Hugh Jackman's performance was good, but I can't recall any songs he sang. Russell Crowe's singing has been widely criticized; however, I thought his less than stellar singing brought made his ill-thinking character more realistic. After all, wouldn't all of us sign imperfectly if thrown into a musical? That said though, I'm not sure what Russell Crowe was thinking.

Overall, an okay musical, but a long dreary story with only a few likable characters. I probably would have appreciated seeing the stage version more.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: A

the-hobbit-movie-poster

Scott, Jay, and I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey today. There's not much to say about this movie. It's as high-quality and well done as any of the prior The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. In fact, I would say it's even better as the story is far less complicated without the confusing multiple storylines and far less Middle Earth jargon.

That said, my only complaint is the same as the LOTR trilogy: How can a three-hour movie with dozens of characters have only one woman? Well, okay there were some female extras doing domestic chores in the background - 'cuz someone's got to do the laundry. If a similar movie was made with a 99% female cast it would be derided as a chick flick, but I have yet to hear anyone call The Hobbit a guy movie. I know, I know, the filmmakers were probably staying true to J. R. R. Tolkien's chauvinist writings and yet the same filmmakers have taken many other liberties such as stretching a book out to three feature movies...

Anyways, my main motivation for the seeing the movie was to see the nine-minute sneak peek at Star Trek Into Darkness. Wow!

Lincoln: A

lincoln-movie-poster

Scott and I saw Lincoln a few weekends ago. I looked forward to seeing this movie ever since I heard a movie about about Lincoln was being made. (I have to admit to some embarrassment when I momentarily mistook this summer's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for the Steven Spielberg movie.)

Lincoln should be subtitled "Politicking The 13th Amendment" although I understand the studio's reason not marketing the movie's emphasis on the legislative process. I do appreciate that the movie didn't rely on any non-linear or flashback gimmick like so many biopics. Instead, the movie assumed the audience already knew the basics about Lincoln's life and revealed more about the obscure details his life as president.

Before seeing Lincoln, my impression was that he fought for the 13th amendment for more pragmatic reasons rather than being an ardent abolitionist. I was a little concerned that Spielberg was glossing over Lincoln's complicated racial politics in the opening scene. The film opens with two African-American soldiers paying tribute to the president as he sits on an elevated covered platform -- much like people today walk-up the Lincoln Monument today. I did wonder how plausible the scene was that African-Americans would be allowed to address the president; however, it doesn't seem impossible either. I'm not a historian and have to rely upon historians such as Doris Kearns Goodwin whose Lincoln biography the movie was inspired from.

Overall, the movie was great. Well-paced with great performances that made the legislative process seem exciting. My only concern is whether or not the movie whitewashed Lincoln's view on race. My understanding is that Lincoln probably didn't believe in racial equality or civil rights as we understand these values today. However, there's no denying that he made considerable sacrifices to pass the 13th amendment which undermines doubts that Lincoln only opposed slavery to reign-in the South.

Skyfall: B

"Skyfall" Teaser Poster #5>
Scott, ma, and I saw Skyfall several weekends ago. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise, so Skyfall was filled with tributes to the first Bond movies which culminated into the final scenes. Daniel Craig's James Bond is so well-established now it's easy to forget that this is only his third Bond movie. Javier Bardem's flirty, campy villain was fun to watch and left me wanting a few more scenes.

Admittedly, the Bond genre has always had a bit of fantasy and, like any movie, audiences are willing to let unbelievable technobabble and coincidences slide for a good story. So, I'm willing to overlook that Bardem's Bond villain can hack into a government spy agency's network and control a building's security system. However, I was a little irked that Bond seemed to act too slow to save innocent bystanders' lives.

Regardless, the movie was great. My only complaint is that in honoring the franchise, the sequel didn't bring much new to the franchise. I appreciate that Daniel Craig did reveal more of Bond's vulnerability (i.e. age) and the story revealed a bit more about Bond's back story.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods: B

Cabin in the Woods Whiteboard>
Scott didn't quite drag me to The Cabin in the Woods a couple of weekends ago. I was a little more willing to see this horror movie because Joss Whedon was involved, so I figured it would not be a typical horror movie and have a little more wit. Like most movie genres, the horror movie formula is so overdone that even the parodies are formulaic. Cabin in the Woods isn't quite a parody, but it still seemed to drag a bit going through the usual horror movie set-up.

Overall, I liked the movie. Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) were great playing their usual characters. It had a good pace and a quick ending.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2012 General Elections Results

We were so relieved Obama won re-election Tuesday night. Although I figured the race was in Obama's favor, I worried throughout the evening that this election would turn into a prolonged mess like 2000. When the east coast results finally started to trickle in, I nervously watched Virginia as the experts had predicted Romney had to win it. However, I became frustrated as no one called Virginia.

At 8:00 PM, I flipped between the local TV channels for the local results and the national coverage for the presidential results. Finally, at around 8:15 PM, I was surprised the decisive result came not from Virginia, but Ohio. Although Facebook did crash during the announcement, this year's re-election was much more anti-climactic than 2008's euphoria.

I was a little frustrated that the local results were so hard to find. There seemed to be a technical problem publishing the Oregon results as KGW's website and broadcast scroll showed "0%" or "12345" results. I also had problems finding updated Washington state results regarding the same-sex marriage referendum.

This seemingly long election cycle is thankfully over and now the analysis has been begun. It was entertaining seeing Oregon GOP leader Allen Alley optimistically predicting his party's statewide victory and then a short time later standing in an abandoned ballroom muttering that he just didn't understand how they lost again. Like the national GOP, it seems he really is out of touch with the new realty that Oregon voters.

Don't take away my donkey membership, but I admit that I like Allen Alley and secretly feared he would have been a far better candidate for governor in 2010 than the political-novice celebrity his party desperately chose. I believe democracies require competitive opposition parties and fear that any party can overreach without serious challenge. It would be great if the Oregon GOP sincerely reinvented itself, embraced gay marriage as a genuine family value, accepted reproduction as a personal health matter, and actually discussed what they want state government to do instead of merely reducing taxes and cutting services.


RACE MERESULTS
US PRESIDENT OBAMA
OBAMA RE-ELECTED 303 E.V. (60.6M)ROMNEY 235 E.V. (57.8M)
OBAMA 60.6MROMNEY 57.8M
US REP 3RD BLUME- NEAUR
BLUMENEAUR RE-ELECTED 220KGREEN 60K
OR SEC OF STATE BROWN
BROWN RE-ELECTED 783KBUEHLER 679K
OR TREASURER WHEELER
WHEELER RE-ELECTED 866KCOX 571K
OR ATTY GEN ROSEN- BLUM
ROSENBLUM ELECTED 831KBUCHAL 598K
OR SEN 21ST ROSEN- BAUM
ROSENBAUM RE-ELECTED 47K
OR REP 42ND BAILEY
BAILEY RE-ELECTED 21K
OR BOLI AVAKIAN
AVAKIAN RE-ELECTED 620KSTARR 562K
OR SUPREME POS 3 COOK
BALDWIN 581KCOOK 556K
OR APPEALS POS 6 VOLPERT
EGAN 638KVOLPERT 444K
PORTLAND MAYOR HALES
HALES ELECTED 127KSMITH 61K
PORTLAND COMMISH POS 1 FRITZ
FRITZ RE-ELECTED 91KNOLAN 65K
EMSWCD
DIR 1
TILL
TILL 38KCALDWELL 27KSWEENEY 22KBAUER 18K
RACE MERESULTS
OR #77 DISASTER PREP YES
YES 870KNO 624K
OR #78 CONSTITUTION
LANGUAGE
YES
YES 1,067KNO 418K
OR #79 TRANSFER TAX BAN NO
YES 902KNO 612K
OR #80 LEGALIZE MARIJUANA YES
NO 860KYES 725K
OR #81 GILNET BAN NO
NO 988KYES 515K
OR #82 CASINO NO
NO 1,122KYES 445K
OR #83 WOOD VILLAGE CASINO NO
NO 1,105KYES 458K
OR #84 LARGE ESTATE TAX BAN NO
NO 830KYES 718K
OR #85 CORP KICKER TO K-12 YES
YES 911KNO 627K
MULTCO #26-143 LIBRARY DIST YES
YES 137KNO 86K
PTLD #26-145 PENSION REFORM YES
YES 125KNO 42K
PTLD #26-146 ARTS TAX NO
YES 111KNO 75K
PTLD #26-144 $482B SCHOOL BOND YES
YES 103KNO 55K