Wednesday, November 30, 2005

COM: Blogarithmic #66

First, Tangled Bank #42 is up and running at dogged blog. Check out over 40 posts of the finest blogwriting on science topics. Outstanding! And if you have a hankering for bugs, remember that Circus of the Spineless #3 is also up and running.

Well, here's the best news i know today: Highland Park is in the state 4A football final four and will be playing in Denton at the University of North Texas at 2 p.m. on Saturday against several time state champ Stephenville for the chance to be in the state title game. Go William and Ryan!!!

P.s. William had an 18-yard reception last week against Ennis.

And Smithson Valley is now in the 5A final eight and takes on San Antonio Madison at Comalander Stadium at 1 on Saturday with the final four on the line. Go Brad!!!

Two weeks after i noted it here on milkriverblog, the local newspaper has finally picked up on the fact that Ingram Tom Moore's boys basketball team is ranked No. 1 in the state. And that's by three major polls, including the big daddy -- the State Coaches Poll. Nothing like a friendly albatross . . .

When da blues is good . . . the new shade of the suddenly classic Red/Blue States map from Daily Kos.

Signs of the Apocalypse #48229 -- arrested for riding a bus. Rosa would be proud. From

Followed quickly by #48230 -- what appears to be thrill-killing by government license. No civil human could be proud of this. As an American, i am disgusted and ashamed. We are, we have to be, above this. And yes, it's British, but it's our war. When will this nightmare end? Well it has, prematurely, for someone who probably understood better than any of us ever will.

My wonderful anonymous source sent me these pics, forwarded by email, as though these were real trucks. It would be most cool, however because trucks seem to be the same cab, and along the same stretch of road i suspect that these are actually entries in one of the Worth1000 Photoshop contests (like the one above). In any case, radically wonderful photos. If i were an exec at one of these companies i'd be checking these contests all the time for ideas. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Thanks as always to Clicked.

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REV: Obscure Movie Memed

Several days ago i started a movie meme akin to what i did months ago with a book meme -- i'm compiling bloggers' choices of their favorite "great but obscure" movies into one long post -- this one.

I wrote a mass email challenging bloggers i knew and their (and my) readers to post titles of films they have seen that they think are wonderful, that they would watch over and over, but which are obscure enough that the average person probably would not know them by name.

The end result is obvious i hope -- a list of great movies that you can take with you to the rental store to find some things you would otherwise not pick up.

I have compiled these also into a handy word document. If you'd like one just email me and i'll send you the most current version.

Finally, thanks to all the participating blogs!

And although it is not a submission/nomination per se, it was brought to my attention that fellow Texan norbizness at least reviews obscurities on a regular basis here. They're rated so you can decide for yourself which ones fits the companion category of "great." There is a lot of cross-pollination here.

Which reminds me that most of the fun (besides watching the movies) will be in reading the summaries and justifications each of the bloggers has posted at their sites. The link to the blogs below go straight to their movie postings -- so check 'em out, and then spend some time scouting around the rest of their sites.

[Note: i am bumping this for the last time on November 30, because to continue would change the link and wipe out linkage from the various participating sites. I will continue to update however, as long as i am able to find participants.]

The list
I'm linking films here to their IMdB page. Several of the nominating blogs link their movies to other sites, many of them far more extensive and enlightening than IMdB.

Great But Obscure Movies (blogs/posts/commenters nominating)

After Life -- see Wandafuru Raifu

Alien Avengers/Welcome to Planet Earth (US/1996) (Science & Politics)

American Splendor (US/2003) (Words & Pictures)

Antonia/Antonia's Line** (Netherlands/Belgium/UK/1995) (suzannagig-jig/Science and Sarcasm)

Antonio Gaudi** (Japan/1984) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Apple -- see Sib

La Ardilla Roja/The Red Squirrel** (Spain/1993) (Greg A. on Cosmic Variance)

Atanarjuat** (Canada/2001) (The House & other Arctic musings)

Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob/The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob** (France/Italy/1973) (Snail’s Tales)

Badkonake Sefid/The White Balloon** (Iran/1995) (Skookum Talk)

The Bag of Knees (US) (John Farrell on Cosmic Variance)

The Barbarian Brothers (US/Italy/1987) (deniz on Snail’s Tales)

Battleship Potemkin -- see Bronenosets Potyomkin

Belizaire the Cajun (US/1986) (The Corpus Callosum)

Beyond Silence -- see Jenseits der Stille

Bian Lian/The King of Masks** (China/Hong Kong/1996) (Zanthan Gardens)

Black Cat, White Cat -- see Crna Macka, Beli Macor

Blackboards -- see Takhte Siah

Bliss (Australia/1985) (Spyder on Cosmic Variance)

Blue -- see Trois Couleurs:Bleu

Bom Yeoreum Gaeul Gyeoul Geurigo Bom/Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter . . . and Spring** (South Korea/Germany/2003) (suzannagig-jig)

Brazil (UK/1985) (Words & Pictures/ Firefly Forest Blog)

Bronenosets Potyomkin/Battleship Potemkin*** (Russia/1925) (Skookum Talk)

The Business of Fancydancing (US/2002) (milkriverblog/10,000 Birds)

Cane Toads, An Unnatural History (Australia/1988) (Words & Pictures)

Chong Qin Sen Lin/Chungking Express** (Hong Kong/1994) (223 on Cosmic Variance)

Cinema Paradiso – see Nuovo Cinema Paradiso

Cidade de Deus/City of God** (Brazil/France/US/2002) (Hacienda del Gringo)

Cité des Enfants Perdus/City of Lost Children** (France/Germany/Spain/1995) (Skookum Talk)

The Color of Pomegranates -- see Sayat Nova

The Commitments (Ireland/1991) (milkriverblog)

Como Agua para Chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate** (Mexico/1992) (suzannagig-jig)

The Corn is Green (US/1945) (deniz on Snail’s Tales)

The Corporation (Canada/2003) (Thomasburg Walks)

Crna Macka, Beli Macor/Black Cat, White Cat** (France/Germany/Yugoslavia/1998) (points of departure)

Dark City (Australia/US/1998) (points of departure)

The Day I Became a Woman -- see Roozi Ke Zan Shodan

Dead Man (US/Germany/Japan/1995) (WoodSong)

Les Dimanches de Ville d'Avray/Sundays and Cybele** (France/1962) (suzanne via email)

Dirty, Filthy Love (UK/2004) (suzannagig-jig)

Dirty Weekend (UK/1993) (Diane on Musings on story and life)

Diva (France/1981) (Shadan07 on Cosmic Variance/Words & Pictures)

Dongdong de Jiaqi/A Summer at Grandpa’s** (Taiwan/1984) (223 on Cosmic Variance)

Don't Look Now (Italy/UK/1973) (Mike Molloy on Cosmic Variance)

La Double Vie de Veronique/The Double Life of Veronique** (France/Poland/Norway/1991) (223 on Cosmic Variance)

Eat Drink Man Woman -- see Yin Shi Nan Mu

Edwin (UK/1984) (Snail’s Tales)

Escanaba in da Moonlight (US/2001) (Musings on story and life)

El Espiritu de la Colmena/The Spirit of the Beehive** (Spain/1973) (223 on Cosmic Variance)

Être et Avoir** (France/2002) (Words & Pictures)

Everyman (US/2002) (John Farrell on Cosmic Variance)

Faces (US/1968) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

A Family Thing (US/1996) (Skookum Talk)

Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (US/1997) (Thoughts from Kansas/Science & Politics)

The Fisher King (US/1991) (suzannagig-jig)

Fitzcarraldo (Peru/Germany/1982) (Shadan07 on Cosmic Variance/Words & Pictures)

Floating Weeds -- see Ukigusa

The Fog of War (US/2003) (Thoughts from Kansas)

French Twist -- see Gazon Maudit

Funny Ha Ha (US/2003) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Gabbeh** (Iran/France/1997) (Skookum Talk)

Gates of Heaven (US/1980) (Nils on Thoughts from Kansas)

Gazon Maudit/French Twist** (France/1995) (Cosmic Variance/aszter on Cosmic Variance)

Geronimo: An American Legend (US/1993) (Mike the Mad Biologist)

Gertrud** (Denmark/1964) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Die Geschichte vom Weinenden Kamel/The Story of the Weeping Camel** (Germany/Mongolia/2003) (WoodSong)

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (France/Germany/UK/Japan/1999) (Research at a Snail’s Pace)

Les Glaneurs et al Glaneuse/The Gleaners & I** (France/2000) (Skookum Talk)

God of Cookery -- see Sik San

Grateful Dawg (US/2000) (Crows Really Are Wise)

Greaser’s Palace (US/1972) (Shadan07 on Cosmic Variance)

Green Card (Australia/France/US/1990) (Jane Swanson on Musings on story and life)

The Hanging Garden (UK/Canada/1997) (In the Common Hours)

Harold and Maude (US/1971) (10,000 Birds/rosagirl on Musings on story and life/Words & Pictures)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (US/2001) (suzannagig-jig)

Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko/Pom Poko** (Japan/1994) (Skookum Talk)

Himalaya – le Enfance d’un Chef** (France/UK/Switzerland/Nepal/1999) (Research at a Snail’s Pace)

Der Himmel Uber Berlin/Wings of Desire** (Germany/France/1987) (Banana Slug)

The Incredible Shrinking Man (US/1957) (prairie point/Pax Nortona)

Institute Benjamenta (UK/Japan/Germany/1995) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Jenseits der Stille/Beyond Silence** (Germany/1996) (In the Common Hours)

Johnny Stechino** (Italy/1991) (Sheila on Musings on story and life)

Kakushi Toride no san Akunin/Hidden Fortress** (Japan/1958) (Skookum Talk)

Kandahar -- see Safar e Ghandehar

Kelid/The Key** (Iran/1987) (Skookum Talk)

Khane-ye Doust Kodjast?/Where is the Friend's House?** (Iran/1987) (Skookum Talk)

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (US/1976) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

The King of Comedy (US/1983) (betsy on Musings on story and life)

The King of Hearts -- see Le Roi de Coeur

The King of Masks -- see Bian Lian

Koroshi no Rakuin/Branded to Kill** (Japan/1967) (Skookum Talk)

Laws of Gravity (US/1993) (Mike the Mad Biologist)

Liberty Heights (US/1999) (milkriverblog)

The Life of Birds (UK/1998) (10,000 Birds)

Like Water for Chocolate -- see Como Agua para Chocolate

Liquid Sky (US/1982) (serial catowner on Cosmic Variance)

Little Big Man (US/1970) (Rurality)

Little Voice (UK/1998) (Zanthan Gardens)

Lola Rennt/Run Lola Run (Germany/1998) (The House & other Arctic musings/Beth on The House & other Arctic musings)

Lost in La Mancha (UK/US/2002) (evolgen/afarensis)

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (US/2001) (anonymous on afarensis)

Love Streams (US/1984) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob -- see Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob

The Magic Christian (UK/1969) (Words & Pictures)

The Magnetic Monster (US/1953) (afarensis)

The Man in the White Suit (UK/1951) (Snail’s Tales)

El Mariachi** (Mexico/US/1992) (Research at a Snail’s Pace)

Matewan (US/1987) (Levi on Cosmic Variance/Skookum Talk)

Ma Vie en Rose/My Life in Pink** (France/Belgium/UK/1997) (Skookum Talk)

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (US/1971) (suzannagig-jig)

Me, Myself, I (Australia/France/1999) (In the Common Hours)

Messer im Kopf** (Germany/1978) (Words & Pictures)

The Mission (UK/1986) (Court on Musings on story and life)

The Music of Chance (US/1993) (Levi on Cosmic Variance)

Mutual Appreciation (US/2005) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

My Architect (US/2003) (Banana Slug)

My Brilliant Career (Australia/1979) (Zanthan Gardens)

My Dinner With Andre (US/1981) (Crows Really Are Wise/Science & Politics)

My Left Foot (Ireland/UK/1989) (suzannagig-jig)

My Life in Pink -- see Ma Vie en Rose

The Myth of Fingerprints (US/1995) (Science and Sarcasm)

Nueve Reinas** (Argentina/2000) (Hacienda del Gringo)

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso** (Italy/France) (rani on Musings on story and life)

O Brother Where Art Thou? (UK/France/US/2000) (Skookum Talk)

Once Were Warriors (New Zealand/1994) (The House & other Arctic musings/Deirdre on The House & other Arctic musings/suzannagig-jig)

Ordet** (Denmark/1955) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Otesanek** (Czech Republic/UK/Japan/2000) (OutEast on afarensis)

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc*** (France/1928) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

The Phantom from Space (US/1953) (afarensis)

Pom Poko -- see Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko

A Prayer for the Dying (US/1987) (Mike the Mad Biologist)

Prospero’s Books (France/Italy/Netherlands/UK/Japan/1991) (Firefly Forest Blog)

Rabbit-proof Fence (Australia/2002) (suzannagig-jig)

Ravenous (Czech Republic/UK/Mexico/US/Slovakia/1999) (Banana Slug)

The Red Squirrel -- see La Ardilla Roja

The Replacement Killers (US/1998) (Mike the Mad Biologist)

Repulsion (UK/1965) (prairie point)

Richard the Second (US/2001) (John Farrell on Cosmic Variance)

Robin and the 7 Hoods (US/1964) (Shell on Musings on story and life)

Le Roi de Coeur/The King of Hearts** (France/Italy/1966) (Carol Perry via email)

Romero (US/1989) (Mike the Mad Biologist)

Roozi Ke Zan Shodan/The Day I Became a Woman** (Iran/2000) (Skookum Talk)

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (UK/US/1990) (Research at a Snail’s Pace)

Ruben and Ed (UK/1991) (rosagirl on Musings on story and life)

Run Lola Run -- see Lola Rennt

Safar e Ghandehar/Kandahar** (Iran/France/2001) (Skookum Talk)

Salesman (US/1969) (Levi on Cosmic Variance)

Sans Soleil** (France/1983) (Robin on Cosmic Variance)

Sayat Nova/The Color of Pomegranates** (Armenia/1968) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Secondhand Lions (US/2003) (Skookum Talk)

Secrets of the Roan Innish (US/Ireland/1994) (afarensis)

Shadows (US/1959) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors -- see Tini Zabutykh Predkiv

Shall We Dansu?/Shall We Dance? (Japan/1996) (suzannagig-jig)

Sib/Apple** (Iran/France/1998) (Skookum Talk)

Sik San/God of Cookery** (Hong Kong/1996) (Birdchick Blog)

Six Degrees of Separation (US/1993) (Missy on Musings on story and life)

Slacker (US/1991) (Moshe on Cosmic Variance)

Smoke Signals (US/1998) (milkriverblog/10,000 Birds/WoodSong/In the Common Hours)

The Snapper (UK/Ireland/1993) (Research at a Snail’s Pace)

Solomon and Gaenor (UK/1999) (deniz on Snail’s Tales)

Solyaris ** (Russia/1972) (Firefly Forest Blog)

Some Kind of Wonderful (US/1987) (Becca on Musings on story and life)

Sono Otoko, Kiyobo Ni Tsuki/Violent Cop** (Japan/1989) (Banana Slug)

The Spirit of the Beehive -- see El Espiritu de la Colmena

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter . . . and Spring -- see Bom Yeoreum Gaeul Gyeoul Geurigo Bom

Stranger than Paradise (US/Germany/1984) (Levi on Cosmic Variance)

The Story of the Weeping Camel -- see Die Geschichte vom Weinenden Kamel

Street of Crocodiles (UK/1986) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Sullivan's Travels (US/1941) (Banana Slug)

A Summer at Grandpa's -- see Dongdong de Jiaqi

Suna No Onna/Woman in the Dunes** (Japan/1964) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Sundays and Cybele -- see Les Dimanches de Ville d'Avray

Sweet Sixteen* (Scotland/2002) (milkriverblog)

Sympathy for the Devil (UK/1968) (Spyder on Cosmic Variance)

Takhte Siah/Blackboards** (Iran/Italy/Japan/2000) (Skookum Talk)

The Thin Man (US/1934) (Skookum Talk)

Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines (UK/1965) (Erin Curra-Spurger on milkriverblog)

Tini Zabutykh Predkiv/Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors** (Ukraine/1964) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Tokyo Monogatari/Tokyo Story** (Japan/1953) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Tortilla Soup (US/2001) (suzannagig-jig)

Trois Couleurs:Bleu/Blue** (France/Poland/Switerland/UK/1993) (Amara on Cosmic Variance)

Truly, Madly, Deeply (UK/1991) (In the Common Hours/The House & other Arctic musings)

Tully (US/2000) (In the Common Hours)

Twelve Monkeys (US/1995) (Skookum Talk)

Ukigusa/Floating Weeds** (Japan/1959) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Vanya on 42nd Street (UK/US/1994) (Cosmic Variance/Levi on Cosmic Variance)

Vernon, Florida (US/Germany/1981) (Nils on Thoughts from Kansas)

Violent Cop -- see Sono Otoko, Kiyobo Ni Tsuki

Waking Ned Devine (Ireland/UK/France/US/1998) (Musings on story and life)

Walkabout (UK/1971) (prairie point/Zanthan Gardens)

Wandafuru Raifu/After Life** (Japan/1998) (Zanthan Gardens)

Welcome to Planet Earth – see Alien Avengers

Whale Rider* (New Zealand/2002) (milkriverblog/The House & other Arctic musings/Deirdre on The House & other Arctic musings)

Where is the Friend's House? -- see Khane-ye Doust Kodjast?

The White Balloon -- see Badkonake Sefid

The Wicker Man (UK/1973) (prairie point)

Wings of Desire -- see Der Himmel Uber Berlin

Witness for the Prosecution (US/1957) (Zanthan Gardens)

Woman in the Dunes -- see Suna No Onna

The Woman in the Window (US/1945) (Levi on Cosmic Variance)

A Woman Under the Influence (US/1974) (Ijon Tichy on Cosmic Variance)

Yin Shi Nan Mu/Eat Drink Man Woman** (Taiwan/US/1994) (Research at a Snail’s Pace/suzannagig-jig)

Yojimbo (Japan/1961) (Skookum Talk)

Zatoichi** (Japan/2003) (Banana Slug/Science & Politics)

[* These films are in English, but the dialect is so strong that you may need to use the English subtitles]
[**These films are in the language of the home country. Unless you speak that language, you'll need subtitles]
[Languages in these films include: English, German, French, Japanese, Ukrainian, Armenian, Washoe, Inuktitut, Danish, Mongolian, Romany, Serbo-Croatian, Gaelic, Maori, Spanish, Italian, German Sign, Latin, Russian, Spokane, Cantonese, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Polish, Hebrew, Yiddish, Welsh, Tibetan, Mandarin, Shanghainese, Portuguese, Persian, Pashtu, Kurdish, Dutch]

Many thanks to these participating or responding blogs: Words & Pictures, Crows Really Are Wise, Dharma Bums, Snail's Tales, The Corpus Callosum, Cosmic Variance, Banana Slug, Mike the Mad Biologist, Thoughts from Kansas, The House and other Arctic musings, WoodSong, Musings on story and life, 10,000 Birds, Firefly Forest Blog, evolgen, afarensis, In the Common Hours, Science & Politics, Birdchick Blog, Research at a Snail's Pace, 6th International, Hacienda del Gringo, Rurality, Fragments from Floyd, suzannagig-jig, Skookum Talk, Science and Sarcasm, prairie point, Pax Nortona, Zanthan Gardens, and Carol Perry, Erin Curra-Spurger, and all the commenters on the various blogs.

OBT: Wendie Jo Sperber

Wendie Jo Sperber of ‘Bosom Buddies’ dies
Actress, 46, fought breast cancer and became advocate for care
The Associated Press, Updated: 9:55 p.m. ET Nov. 30, 2005

LOS ANGELES - Actress Wendie Jo Sperber, who starred opposite Tom Hanks on TV’s “Bosom Buddies” and who in his words became “a walking inspiration” after she contracted cancer, has died. She was 46.

Sperber died at home Tuesday after an eight-year battle with breast cancer, publicist Jo-Ann Geffen said Wednesday.

A Los Angeles native, Sperber appeared in dozens of television shows and movies, including all three “Back to the Future” films.

Sperber also had roles in Steven Spielberg’s “1941,” Robert Zemeckis’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” and Neal Israel’s “Moving Violations” and “Bachelor Party.” Her television credits include “Murphy Brown,” “Private Benjamin,” “Will & Grace” and “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.”

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, the actress became an advocate for cancer care. In 2001, she founded the weSPARK Cancer Support Center, which provides free emotional support, information and social activities for individuals and families affected by cancer.

Sperber helped unveil and promote a breast cancer stamp for the U.S. Postal Service in 1998, Geffen said.

“The memory of Wendie Jo is that of a walking inspiration,” Hanks said in a statement. “She met the challenges of her illness with love, cheer, joy and altruism. We are going to miss her as surely as we are all better for knowing her.”

Sperber is survived by a son and daughter, her parents, two sisters and a brother.

ENV: Circus of the Spineless #3

It's UP! A toy store of critters, just in time for Christmas! Check it out.

Well it's time for the third edition of Circus of the Spineless which is going up at Urban Dragon Hunters in the next day or so!

I have a couple of other nominated posts, but i've been saving these pictures of mostly unidentified critters that i encountered on my fall trip to west Texas. They have not been featured before so i present them here as a kind of buffet of cool critters.

Solfugid sp. 4
TX: Presidio Co., Chinati Mountains, San Antonio Canyon, overnight at halogen light set
9-10 September 2005

Moth sp. 177
TX: Presidio Co., Chinati Mountains, San Antonio Canyon, overnight at halogen light set
9-10 September 2005

Black Widow sp. 1, Latrodectus sp.
TX: Presidio Co., Chinati Mountains, San Antonio Canyon, overnight under halogen light set
9-10 September 2005
This individual was found completely within the range of the Western Black Widow,
Latrodectus hesperus -- no other Black Widow should naturally occur there. However, its
markings are fully consistent with the Northern Black Widow, Latrodectus variolus,
and since this one was at a bunkhouse, the possibility of introduction by man has to be considered.

Robber Fly sp. 4
with Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui
TX: Presidio Co., Chinati Mountains, San Antonio Canyon
8 September 2005

Tiger Moth sp. 133, Grammia cf. geneura/nevadensis
TX: Presidio Co., Chinati Mountains, San Antonio Canyon, at halogen light set
overnight 8-9 September 2005

Scorpionfly sp. 3
TX: Presidio Co., Chinati Mountains, San Antonio Canyon, at halogen light set
overnight 8-9 September 2005

Moth sp. 134
TX: Presidio Co., Chinati Mountains, San Antonio Canyon, under halogen light set
overnight 8-9 September 2005

False-Yucatan Mitre-Snail, Holospira yucatanensis
on Selaginella (food-plant)
TX: Brewster Co., Big Bend National Park, Rio Grande Tunnel
11 September 2005

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

COM: Blogarithmic #65

You know, some evenings just approach perfection. It was cool tonight after the last few days' winds had died down. Not really cold yet but we're approaching that -- should get down in the mid-20s tonight. But it was perfect for sitting with friends, enjoying hot soup and a bit of literature.

After rehearsal tonight i went to Holly and Roy's where i got to sample the sublime Thanksgiving leftover soup, and how could i resist but also sample the Spanish Bean Soup. Tonight i liked the former better, but tomorrow it could be the other way around.

Then, with Marie, we sat around and read Roy's first cutting of Playing for Time, the Arthur Miller holocaust masterpiece he is planning to do with Ingram's kids for UIL One-Act Play. It's close to ready, which is good since auditions are a week away. This stuff sneaks up fast. As usual, ITM's OAP entry will be a marvel to watch -- that's a prediction i make with some confidence.

Check out Teddy Roosevelt Heller's obituary.

Mike Bergin of 10,000 Birds and the Birding Gear Big Board provided this review of his movie-meme nomination of The Life of Birds.

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COM: Pet Peeves 2916, 3294 & 4754

It's all about movies -- if you aren't into the details skip this. You know by now that i track Biospoilers -- those unnerving moments when filmmakers loop in bird or animal sounds, or use animals that don't fit the geographical location. Sorry, it's a biologists' thing.

Well, i was discussing Secondhand Lions with Holly, Marie and Roy tonight and iwas trying to pinpoint a reason, or some reasons, why i can't really stomach the movie. It has some very nice moments, but all too often it completely takes me out of the movie -- and i hate that. So here is a list of some movie pet peeves (not necessarily, by the way, having anything to do with Secondhand Lions which will get its own post soon).

a) Non-motivated light: The type that makes me most nauseous is that phantom light that spotlights the actors in a car being driven at night. I'd much rather hardly see them with maybe some green dim glow from the meters, than have them bathed in perfectly placed light -- especially for the shotgun rider.

b) Fake labels on cans: This was brought to mind by a scene from The Business of Fancydancing where, with some incredible set-dressing just the right tone is set. Then suddenly there is Mouse making a "bathroom-cleaner sandwich." The problem is the can has a green construction paper wrap on it that looks like, well a last-minute green construction paper wrap. It takes someone no time at all to create a computer mockup of a label that will prevent rights difficulties -- so why not do it. It is the single false note in an otherwise beautiful movie.

c) Overuse of/fake handheld camerawork: It seems rather odd doesn't it that in order to get a handheld camera effect folks don't, voila, hand hold the camera. Instead you get this fluid head camera motion that all too often is so repetitive, cyclical and rhythmic that it creates motion sickness -- i assume it's computer handled, and perhaps is supposed to be random. But it doesn't look handheld -- it looks fake. And i think that's because the computer system has exact frame movement limits. Hands don't have those. Handheld by itself can be overused, but add it to that faux motorized effect and it simply overwhelms -- an example? -- the otherwise outstanding The Bourne Supremacy.

Monday, November 28, 2005

COM: Blogarithmic #64

Well, i'll feel like i've been jetting from one end of the country to the other!

Got back to find that a breaker was knocked out in a storm Friday night (that dropped about an inch and a half of rain here), and it was just restored this morning. So, i'm a bit behind in posting all the wonderful contributions to the Movie Meme, but i hope to have them posted sometime tonight.

Please, if you posted on this and i haven't posted your nominations by late tonight, please drop me a line in comments or by email to let me know. Some truly wonderful posts have been made on this -- i have enjoyed reading everyone's reasons for their nominations. And please if you have some nominees, please post them on your blog and send me a link, or just add them in comments here. The list is growing exponentially, but i hope it becomes a most useful list. I've already targeted several things to get my next time in town.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

BIO: The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

The Bourne Supremacy (2004) (dir. Paul Greengrass)

This is a quite wonderful film. I liked it better than The Bourne Identity, though that too was a fine piece of work. In the end, i think the stories both hold up well, but i liked the physical sequences better in Supremacy. Matt Damon i thought was better at his moves, whereas in the first film, much of it had to be faked with film speed and cut technique -- and the technique itself was obtrusive.

The issue: Only one that i noticed. While running through the streets of Berlin, the filmmakers apparently wanted an ominous predatory sound and what they got (while a flock of pigeons burst from a rooftop) sounds all the world to me like a Goshawk, though it's rendered a bit digitally. A Peregrine might have been believable, but a Goshawk is pretty strictly a forest bird. I can't say that another European Accipiter species was not used, but i suspect that most of the possibilities are also largely forest-dependent birds.

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COM: Meming with Movies

I sometimes get in discussions and get wild ideas for things to foist upon other people. This is one.

A couple months ago, in response to being tagged with a long, involved, personal meme, i hatched a meme-back. It resulted in some interesting answers, but those who answered, being quite memed-out, let it die.

One of the questions, and the one which i was most interested in, was about movies. Namely, what are five movies that are your life. Well, i had something specific in mind, but the question was interpreted differently by several people, which just added to the flavor of the whole thing.

Anyway, today i am starting another meme, although it's a very simple one. And i am doing something a bit different with it -- akin to what i did months ago with a book meme -- i'm compiling the answers into one long post -- this one. My idea is that if you're going to use your valuable time answering these things, there ultimately ought to be a use for the answers.

From a rather huge email list of blog owners that i've accumulated, i have written a mass email challenging everyone to post (at least) one movie title -- a film they have seen, that they think is wonderful, that they would watch over and over, but which is so obscure that the average person would not know it by name.

Now they can name as many as they would like, but i'm asking for only one. They name it in a post, and i'll check all the blogs and collect the nominees and compile a master list here. They also should challenge their readers to post one also, and then notify me so i can add them to the master list.

The end result is obvious i hope -- a list of great movies that you can take with you to the rental store to find some things you would otherwise not pick up.

So, enough talk. I'm going to start this off with several personal favorites.

And thanks to all the participating blogs!

Update: results are starting to come in. I should have mentioned before -- if you are a reader/visitor here -- that most of the fun (besides watching the movies) will be in reading the summaries and justifications each of the bloggers has posted at their sites. The link to the blogs below go straight to their movie postings -- so check 'em out, and then spend some time scouting around the rest of their sites.

Also, i'm linking films here to their IMdB page. Several of the nominating blogs link their movies to other sites, many of them far more extensive and enlightening than IMdB.

I'll be bumping this to the top at least through the weekend for ease of use.

[Update: We lost electricity over the weekend, and it was just restored Monday morning –- i'm working on catching up on a number of great posts on this meme -- i hope to be up to date late tonight sometime . . . and keep 'em coming!]

The final list is being continually updated and moved to the top of the blog . . .

Saturday, November 26, 2005

REV: New Durang

Christopher Durang Explores the Afterlife, Including His Own
By DINITIA SMITH, The New York Times, November 26, 2005

In Christopher Durang's farcical new play, "Miss Witherspoon," the middle-aged woman of the title commits suicide as a delayed reaction to the Skylab space station's falling to earth. She wakes up in the bardo, the place where a soul awaits reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism. The character Veronica (Kristine Nielsen) does not want to be reincarnated: "Why can't I just be left alone to fester and brood in my bodiless spirit state?"

But, says Maryamma (Mahira Kakkar), Veronica's chipper guide to the afterlife, "All souls must keep reincarnating until they reach true wisdom."

This Buddhist eschatology might seem odd coming from Mr. Durang, the author of "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You," the 1981 satire about a demonic Catholic school nun. ("Now, I thought I had explained what happens after death to you already," Sister Mary tells someone dying of a brain tumor. "There is heaven, hell and purgatory. What is the problem?")

However, as Mr. Durang explained recently, he has undergone a spiritual evolution since he was an angry 28-year-old and wrote "Sister Mary Ignatius" (a play that Archbishop John May of St. Louis called "a vile diatribe").

"Miss Witherspoon," now in previews at Playwrights Horizons, comes from a run at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, N.J. That is not far from Bucks County, where Mr. Durang, 56, lives in bourgeois comfort in an 18th-century stone house with his partner of nearly 20 years, John Augustine, an actor and writer, and their Dalmatian, Chief. Among the antiques in the living room is a photograph of an angelic-looking Christopher, hands folded in prayer, a throwback to the days when he was a good Catholic child.

Like many other members of the baby boom generation, Mr. Durang has searched widely for faith, sampling mainstream traditionalism, agnosticism, New Age philosophy, self-help programs and Eastern mysticism along the way.

Nonetheless, with his rosy cheeks, snaggle tooth and vivid blue eyes, he still looks like a Catholic choirboy, though his hair is gray now. Like many people raised in a religious atmosphere, he has never shaken off its influence. He attended a high school run by Benedictine monks, and even wanted to be a monk himself.

"I didn't have a teacher like Sister Mary Ignatius," Mr. Durang said. "But I believed everything my teachers and many in my family said."

It was before Vatican II and the liberalization of church doctrine. "You weren't meant to eat meat on Friday in deference to Christ, who died on Friday. If you did, you went to hell," Mr. Durang remembered. "That way, Hitler would be in hell alongside someone who ate meat on Friday. I thought there was no justice there."

For Mr. Durang, there is always the memory of the silent pain that permeated his childhood home in Montclair, N.J. His father was an architect and an alcoholic. After Christopher's birth, his mother had three stillborn babies, the first when Christopher was 3. "I remember the day they came home, and nothing after that for two years," he said. "My mother told me later she went through a year of not knowing I was alive."

He said he believed that his father did not want more children, but that his mother insisted. In Mr. Durang's autobiographical 1985 play, "The Marriage of Bette and Boo," a woman gives birth to four stillborn babies. The obstetrician drops each one on the floor. "I don't believe that God punishes people for specific things," Matt, her living son, says. "He punishes people in general for no reason."

His parents divorced when he was 19 and, with guilt, he testified against his father in court. His mother suffered a slow death from cancer in 1979.

During the Vietnam War, Mr. Durang attended Harvard. He opposed the war and was disillusioned by the Catholic response. "I thought the Catholic Church at Harvard would be liberal, but it wasn't," he said. "I thought Christ meant for us to be pacifist."

He also realized he was gay then, he said, and that deepened his depression.

At the Yale School of Drama, he wrote, with Albert Innaurato, "The Idiots Karamazov," in which Meryl Streep played the translator Constance Garnett. With another classmate, Wendy Wasserstein, he wrote "When Dinah Shore Ruled the Earth." In 1978, he made it to Broadway with "A History of the American Film," which won him a Tony nomination for best book of a musical.

It wasn't until the late 80's, though, that Mr. Durang's worldview began to shift. He met Mr. Augustine, who had a small role with him in the film "The Secret of My Success."

"I was drawn to his sunny nature," Mr. Durang said of Mr. Augustine. "It opened up positive feelings, possibilities, intuitions. I began to have intuitions that turned out to be right. I thought, 'What is intuition but nonlinear knowledge?' It seemed like a possible entrance into spirituality."

He thought, he said, "there may be a force in the universe that offers guidance."

The couple moved to the country. Mr. Durang was attracted to New Age philosophy and to Transcendentalism, to nature as a path to spirituality.

"I never graduated to being an atheist," he said. "I only graduated to being an agnostic. My biggest problem with organized religion is that God has been imagined as a human being with emotions. I feel if you let go of that, then it's possible to see God as a force, to connect to him or her spiritually."

Mr. Durang also began attending meetings of Al-Anon, for friends and relatives of alcoholics. He liked its 12-step program, adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous, with its assumption of a higher power. "I started to believe there was something intuitively right about it," he said.

Mr. Durang said he had always viewed the afterlife as "prolonged general anesthesia" (as his character Veronica describes the view of some Jews). Still, "I found my mind wandering to reincarnation," he said. "But then, what if you don't want to come back?"

His turning 56, the age at which his mother died, has lately caused him intense anxiety.

"The other day I was very upset by all these hurricanes," he said. "I said, 'If this weather thing keeps up, I don't want to come back in a hundred years.' "

Mr. Augustine interjected, "He thinks ahead."

At the conclusion of "Miss Witherspoon," Veronica finally agrees to be reincarnated, but asks to go back in time. She becomes an abused child who asks her teacher for help, and also a baby mauled by a dog who now cries out, "Get the damn dog outta here!"

"In order to survive, we must find a way to break through the centuries of stressing tribal differences, and evolve to finding tribal and human similarities," Veronica says from her highchair.

In the end, Mr. Durang said, "one can effect a certain outcome by one's choice." "Miss Witherspoon," he said, is "a fable, half-fantasy. I'm intrigued by three-quarters of it. But I don't entirely believe it."

COM: Blogarithmic #63

Some words with power from WoodSong.

You'll see below, if you wander far enough, that both the High School teams i've been following made it past the third weekend of playoffs, and in huge fashion -- Smithson Valley/Go Rangers and Brad, and Highland Park/Go Scots and William and Ryan!

Start here at Invasive Species Weblog for a biological mystery of the worst kind.

Sad today to learn of the deaths of Pat Morita -- okay so Mr. Miyagi was just a character in a few movies, he still epitomized that idealized mentor we'd all like to have. And also the death of George Best, with Pele my first idol in what was to become my game. Sad that his life ended up as it did, though it was a choice he made and knew where he was headed.

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ENV: Valley Whooper

Whooping Crane Spending 2nd Winter Lost
Young Whooping Crane Spending Second Winter Lost, in Company of Sandhill Cranes
By LYNN BREZOSKY, The Associated Press

HARLINGEN, Texas - Wildlife biologists believe a whooping crane that got separated from its parents while learning to migrate is spending a second winter lost and in the company of friendly sandhill cranes.

A bird watcher last week spotted the whooper near Hargill, about 110 miles south of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge where the world's only naturally migrating flock of whooping cranes winters each year.

A U.S. Fish & Wildlife service biologist confirmed the find.

With only about 200 of the endangered species in the flock up from about 15 in 1941 biologists try to keep tabs on the chicks' survival.

Adult whooping cranes usually raise one chick at a time, teaching it the 2,500-mile migration route from summering grounds in Canada's Northwest Territories to Aransas.

During last year's fall migration, however, one juvenile was spotted in some offbeat places, including Colorado, Oklahoma, and finally Bay City, Texas, more than 100 miles from Aransas.

Biologists believe this is the same bird.

"This one particular whooping crane doesn't know where Aransas is. Its parents never showed it," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the Fish & Wildlife Service.

Stehn said the story is not as sad as it may seem.

Unlike the numerous sandhill cranes, whoopers are not particularly social, he said. The juvenile can feed and roost securely with the sandhills, its biological cousins, but that could change in a year or so when it becomes old enough to reproduce, Stehn said.

"It's not into any other whooping cranes right now," Stehn said. "It's by himself and it's fine. When its hormones start kicking into gear, it'll start socializing more and looking for a mate."

Stehn said the bird has no problem getting to Canada and theorized that a future mate might lead it to Aransas.

Friday, November 25, 2005

OBT: Pat Morita

Wax on, wax gone . . .

Pat Morita, 'Karate Kid's' Mr. Miyagi, dies

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Actor Pat Morita, whose portrayal of the wise and dry-witted Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid" earned him an Oscar nomination, has died. He was 73.

Morita died Thursday at his home in Las Vegas of natural causes, said his wife of 12 years, Evelyn. She said in a statement that her husband, who first rose to fame with a role on "Happy Days," had "dedicated his entire life to acting and comedy."

In 1984, he appeared in the role that would define his career and spawn countless affectionate imitations. As Kesuke Miyagi, the mentor to Ralph Macchio's "Daniel-san," he taught karate while trying to catch flies with chopsticks and offering such advice as "wax on, wax off" to guide Daniel through chores to improve his skills.

Morita said in a 1986 interview with The Associated Press he was billed as Noriyuki "Pat" Morita in the film because producer Jerry Weintraub wanted him to sound more ethnic. He said he used the billing because it was "the only name my parents gave me."

He lost the 1984 best supporting actor award to Haing S. Ngor, who appeared in "The Killing Fields." (Watch a profile of Morita -- 2:10)

For years, Morita played small and sometimes demeaning roles in such films as "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and TV series such as "The Odd Couple" and "Green Acres." His first breakthrough came with "Happy Days," and he followed with his own brief series, "Mr. T and Tina."

"The Karate Kid," led to three sequels, the last of which, 1994's "The Next Karate Kid," paired him with a young Hilary Swank.

Morita was prolific outside of the "Karate Kid" series as well, appearing in "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Spy Hard," "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and "The Center of the World." He also provided the voice for a character in the Disney movie "Mulan" in 1998.

Born in northern California on June 28, 1932, the son of migrant fruit pickers, Morita spent most of his early years in the hospital with spinal tuberculosis. He later recovered only to be sent to a Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during World War II.

"One day I was an invalid," he recalled in a 1989 AP interview. "The next day I was public enemy No. 1 being escorted to an internment camp by an FBI agent wearing a piece."

After the war, Morita's family tried to repair their finances by operating a Sacramento restaurant. It was there that Morita first tried his comedy on patrons.

Because prospects for a Japanese-American standup comic seemed poor, Morita found steady work in computers at Aerojet General. But at age 30 he entered show business full time.

"Only in America could you get away with the kind of comedy I did," he commented. "If I tried it in Japan before the war, it would have been considered blasphemy, and I would have ended in leg irons. "

Morita was to be buried at Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife and three daughters from a previous marriage.

ATH: Better than Expected

UT 40 A&M 29

And that's a double entendre . . .

UT plays Colorado for the Big 12 title, then it's off to Pasadena.

Kudos to A&M frosh Stephen McGhee and Jovorski Lane for providing a glimmer of hope for the future.

Also, in the bigger news:

Highland Park 45, Ennis 28 !

Smithson Valley 56, Laredo United 28 !

COM: Respect for Canada

Canada promises $4.3 billion to aid natives
Deal commits funding over next decade to reduce poverty, improve health
The Associated Press, Nov. 25, 2005

KELOWNA, Canada - Canada on Friday pledged $4.3 billion in a landmark deal with Indian and northern Inuit communities to help lift them from the poverty and disease that has plagued their neglected reserves for more than a century.

The agreement commits federal funding over the next decade for widespread improvements in housing, health care, education and economic development for the nearly 1 million aboriginal peoples of the North American nation, namely Indian tribes known as First Nations and Inuits, the aboriginal Canadians of the northeastern and Arctic territories.

Prime Minister Paul Martin and the premiers of Canada's 13 provinces and territories announced the agreement after a two-day summit with five native organizations.

"Aboriginal Canadians have no desire for more rhetoric; they have needs and those needs demand attention. It's as simple as that. We all know that there are serious problems in too many aboriginal communities and it's heartbreaking to hear the stories of lost promise," Martin said after the conclusion of the two-day summit in Kelowna, a western frontier town whose name means grizzly bear in the local Indian tongue.

Canada's native reserves are dramatically short of housing and safe drinking water, their high school graduation rate is just over half the national average, and life expectancy for Indians is five to seven years lower than for non-aboriginals.

The infant mortality rate is 20 percent higher among First Nations, suicide rates are threefold and teen pregnancies are nine times higher than the national average.

Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First nations, praised the agreement and said he would demand that federal officials follow through.

"We will close the gap in the quality of life between our people and other Canadians. That will be our legacy for the coming generations," he said. "We have conquered our own cynicism. We've seen how far we can go in just two days; imagine how far we can go in 10 years."

Earlier in the week, the Canadian government proposed another $1.7 billion in payments for aboriginal victims of sexual and psychological abuse during forced Christian schooling.

Some 100,000 children were required to attend residential schools over the past century in a futile and painful attempt to rid them of their native cultures and languages and integrate them into Canadian society.

The legacy of sexual abuse and isolation among these children has long been cited by Indian leaders as the root cause of epidemic rates of alcoholism and drug addiction on reserves. Among other pledges in Friday's final agreement:

Close the educational gap so that by 2016, the high school graduation rate for aboriginal students is the same as other Canadians.

Change housing policy to improve access to emergency shelters and improve the ability of natives to own homes off their reserves.

Spend $341,000 to provide better safe drinking water on reserves.

Reduce infant mortality, youth suicide, childhood obesity and diabetes by 50 percent in 10 years by doubling the number of aboriginal health care workers, improving delivery and access to provincial health care and establishing preventative health measures on native reserves.

Some worry, however, that any progress made at the conference could vanish as early as Monday, when opposition parties in Parliament are expected to topple Martin's minority government in a no-confidence vote, forced after he refused to call early national elections.

Fontaine insisted, however, that the results of the summit could not be ignored by a future government.

"The commitments that are made are significant and it's going to be very, very difficult for any government to retreat from those commitments here," Fontaine said.

Provincial spending of federal funds earmarked for aboriginal health care remained unresolved on Friday, with the health care blueprint described in the final communique as "a work in progress."

Under Canada's national health care system, there is always a battle over how federal tax dollars will be allocated among the provinces.

Only the premier of British Columbia was willing to sign a deal with the federal government and three provincial native groups saying where the money would go.

"Today we have looked at some of our failings as a country and we have embraced the idea that we can improve, we can be better for all Canadians," said British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell.

ATH: Stephen McGee on the loose

Freshman QB outplays Texas' Young
McGee gives Aggies some hope for the future in loss to No. 2 Texas
The Associated Press, Updated: 8:53 p.m. ET Nov. 25, 2005

COLLEGE STATION - Something surprising emerged for Texas A&M out of another stinging loss to Texas: Hope for the future.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Stephen McGee capably ran the Aggies’ option offense in his first career start Friday, rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns in place of injured senior Reggie McNeal.

The Longhorns won 40-29, but McGee more than held his own against Heisman Trophy candidate Vince Young, who passed for 162 yards and ran for only 19.

McNeal sat out with a sprained left ankle. He became A&M’s all-time leader in passing yardage and total offense this season, but the Aggies still lost their last four games and finished 5-6, their second losing record in three years.

McGee completed only nine of 23 passes, threw an interception and took several hard hits, but he also guided the Aggies to 395 yards against one of the nation’s top defenses.

“Stephen played an outstanding game,” coach Dennis Franchione said. “That’s not the easiest opening start of your college career to have. ... Everybody’s got a glimpse of the future and we’re excited about it.”

Franchione told McGee on Tuesday that he would start, and his teammates showered him with votes of confidence before the game.

“Every one of those guys came up and told me, ’I’m here for you. We’re going to fight for you,”’ McGee said. “As a quarterback, when you know that’s how your team feels about you, you go out there and have fun.”

But McGee also showed he still has a lot to learn.

With the Aggies trailing 37-29, McGee led A&M inside the Texas 20 with under 10 minutes to play.

On third-and-2, he dropped back, holding the ball in one hand on a play-action fake. Texas defensive tackle Rodrique Wright swatted the ball loose and defensive end Brian Orapko recovered.

“I take responsibility for that and that’ll be something I hold dear in my memory about this game,” McGee said.

McGee got his worst pass of the day out of the way early, lofting one straight to Texas linebacker Drew Kelson seven minutes into the game. Henry Melton scored three plays later and the Longhorns led 7-0. The Aggies went three-and-out on their next possession and Texas scored quickly for a 14-0 lead.

On the Aggies’ next play, McGee zipped a 25-yard pass to Jason Carter down the right sideline. He rushed for 18 yards and hit Martellus Bennett for an 11-yard gain to set up Todd Pegram’s 31-yard field goal.

“Obviously at the beginning, I wasn’t setting me feet,” McGee said. “Later on I did, and as the game progressed I felt comfortable. I know I can play football.”

McGee had settled into his new role by halftime, giving his team a pep talk in the locker room.

“I looked them into the eyes and said, ’Hey guys, nobody gave us a chance coming into this game, but now were here with the chance to prove everyone wrong and do something nobody thought we could,”’ he said.

Young fumbled on the third play of the third quarter and McGee scored a minute later, beating a Texas defender to the corner and stretching the ball across the goal line for a 22-21 A&M lead.

He was knocked down on the play, but sprang to his feet as he had done all day. He raised both arms into the air and yelled at the player who hit him.

“That’s part of my game,” McGee said. “I love to go in there and compete. I said to him, ’Hey man, I can get up too.”’

But McGee’s late mistake proved costly.

“There’s been a lot of frustration and disappointment,” McGee said. “People can talk about the future all they want, but the point is, it starts right now. It’s our job to get this football program where it needs to be right now.”