Sunday, July 27, 2008

Grades for new movies to be released Tuesday on DVD

The Band’s Visit (2008) A remote, Israeli desert town is the setting for this droll, endearing comedy about an accidental cultural exchange that very quietly says some very important things about contemporary Arab-Israeli relations. Grade: A-

Doomsday (2008) Just to shake things up a little, I guess, the creators of the laughably over-the-top films thought it might be fun to turn the survivors of a deadly epidemic, rather than its victims, into maniacal murderers. Grade: C

Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008) The jokes all revolve around weed, stereotypes, and Neil Patrick Harris; the stereotype stuff is by far the funniest. Grade: B-

Never Back Down (2008) The movie speeds up and slows down as though controlled by a director in the grip of competing medications. For those who make it to the final beatdown, however, the only pill worth taking is the one that makes you forget. Grade D+

Shine a Light (2008) This movie is about giving us a privileged glimpse of the Rolling Stones in action. It's a record of an astonishing musical chemistry that has been evolving, with no signs of calcification, for nearly five decades. As a bonus, there are delicious guest appearances by Buddy Guy and Jack White. Grade B+

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

PETA: People Exterminating Tame Animals

Ran across this item today on the Dallas observer's blog and every time I read about "PETA bigwigs" like Debby Leahy telling folks they shouldn't hunt, fish, eat meat or fish, or go to zoos and circuses I'm reminded of PETA members Adria Hinkle and Andrew Cook who were charged awhile back in Norfolk, Va., with 31 counts of animal cruelty and eight counts of illegally disposing of dead animals.

Hinkle and Cook, you see, thought that what's even worse than zoos, circuses and Mexican safari parks were animal shelters. So Hinkle and Cook decided to liberate all the animals from animals shelters in an around Norfolk. They went to the shelters and told the folks there that PETA wanted to give all these animals a good home and that they had come to deliver these animals to the cat and dog version of that elephant nirvana in Tennessee. Only what they actually did was load the animals in the back of their windowless, cage-lined van where they killed them with drugs the PETA pair were not legally authorized or trained to dispense. Then they stuffed the carcuses in garbage bags and tossed them in shopping center dumpsters.

PETA says it will use money collected through their "animal rights" fundraisers to pay for the legal defense of Hinkle and Cook. You see, PETA thinks its OK to slaughter dogs and cats they take under false pretenses from animal shelters but it's criminal for organizations like the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the American Cancer Society to use animals for research designed to save human lives. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk has said repeatedly "Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we would be against it."

So here's hoping that someone -- anyone -- who goes to this PETA sponsored "Save Jenny" rally at the Dallas Zoo Sunday has the gumption to ask the PETA people there about Adria Hinkle and Andrew Cook and then question why they support their extermination and unceremonious dumping of thousands of domestic cats and dogs every year yet have a problem with efforts to help an elephant retire to Mexico.

Concerns about Angela's hunt

Angela Hunt needs to raise her sights. Instead of worrying about whether Jenny, an African elephant now housed in the Dallas zoo should spend her final days in Mexico or in Tennessee, she should be examining policy that enables City of Dallas to be in a business that it might not belong in and probably is not that good at.

Dallas has a council-manager form of government. Essentially that means that an elected city council sets overall governing policy for the city, but it’s left up to the city staff, headed by the city manager, to take care of the day-to-day operations of the city. Former Mayor Laura Miller tried to change this model to give the mayor more say-so over daily operations of the city, but her plan was decisively rejected by voters.

Briefly, here’s the deal. Elephants, so I’ve been told, are much like Bud Abbott or Oliver Hardy – they really need a companion to get through life. Jenny’s companion at the Dallas Zoo, an elephant named Keke, died in early May and since then Jenny hasn’t been doing so hot. Instead of trying to obtain a new companion here, zoo officials looked for a place to move Jenny where she could have proper care as well as the companionship of other pachyderms. They found such a place in Africam Safari Park, a forested wildlife park located 80 miles southeast of Mexico City in the state of Puebla.

Immediately, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals leaped into the discussion. PETA, you see, opposes the idea of zoos, circuses and such, and since the Africam Safari Park is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is must therefore be a zoo. PETA would rather send Jenny to Guantanamo than anything accredited by the AZA. PETA rallied its local supporters who obviously felt they had an ally in Ms. Hunt, the closest resemblance we’ve had to Don Quixote on the city council since, well, perhaps Max Goldblatt. The self-proclaimed protectors of animals were correct: Ms. Hunt galloped down to Mexico where she took some incriminating videos at the Africam Safari Park of elephants swaying (I am told that, unlike yours truly when I’m listening to the Rolling Stones sing “Brown Sugar,” elephants are not supposed to sway). Then she went to what she wants us to believe is the closest thing to elephant paradise in the western hemisphere, a place called The Elephant Sanctuary near Hohenwald, Tenn., which is about 80 miles southwest of Nashville.

Now, I’m not going to get into an argument here about whether Jenny should be spending the rest of her life in Mexico or in Tennessee, but neither should Ms. Hunt. That is not part of her job description. Those are operational decisions made by the city’s staff, just like the city charter mandates. In this case the decision was made, or at least approved, by Gregg Hudson, the executive director of the Dallas Zoo and also of the Aquarium at Fair Park.

Does Angela Hunt have a role in this at all? Yes, she does and it is a far more important one than becoming the Dian Fossey of the local elephant set. As one of 15 individuals elected to set establish city policy, perhaps Ms. Hunt should be devoting her time and energies into studying the question of whether the City of Dallas should even be in the business of operating a zoo. I have maintained for years the city should not be in this business. The city isn’t good at it. In fact, I had a one-on-one discussion on this very subject late one night with former City Manager Teodoro (Ted) Benavides when he was facing a budget crisis similar to one the city is facing today. Now I’m not an expert on zoos, but I have been on numerous occasions to the San Diego Zoo and the Bronx Zoo and, to my untrained eye, those are fine zoos. The San Antonio Zoo, when I lasted visited it 20 or so years ago, while not in a class with San Diego or the Bronx Zoo, seemed to me to be a worthwhile visit. The Dallas Zoo? Not so much. It seems to exist solely because someone decided many years ago that the city needed a zoo – any zoo will do – so we got this one.

Fort Worth, on the other hand, has a much better zoo. I would like Ms. Hunt and the other members of the Dallas City Council to examine the following question: Why shouldn’t Dallas just get rid of it’s zoo and join Fort Worth in marketing that city’s zoo as a regional attraction?

I would rather see the tax money that currently goes into running the Dallas Zoo be used to maintain and upgrade other park facilities around the city that are showing signs of neglect. Now that’s a policy matter and one that I would like to see members of the city council seriously consider. That is their proper role, not second-guessing or overruling the operational decisions of the city’s staff.

I sided with Ms. Hunt on her fight to keep a high-speed roadway out of a city park. I broke ranks with her on her opposition to a Dallas Convention Center Hotel because the preponderance of evidence shows it could be a financial boom for the city (and I was concerned that she was showing too much allegiance to officials from Crow Holdings who have the most to lose, financially, from the construction of such a hotel and thus should never be positioned as objective sources). But her trips to Mexico and Tennessee during the council’s July recess period come across like grandstanding of the highest order. Call me a cynic, but she seems to be playing re-election politics at the expense of a lonely elephant when there are a lot more important policy decisions she should be concerned about.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Grades for new movies to be released tomorrow on DVD

21 (2008) What might have been a complex story dealing with greed and high-stakes betrayal among the young intellectual elite in America’s gaming playground is instead treated as a slick, glossy romp. Grade: C

Duck (2007) Writer-director Nic Bettauer hits upon some important themes, including homelessness, environmentalism and the plight of the elderly, but not enough care has gone into developing the subsidiary characters who merely come across as types. Grade: C

Heartbeat Detector (2008) Here, knowledge and understanding raise more questions than they answer, and the film ends not in closure, but in openness. It is precisely those qualities that give "Heartbeat Detector" its epic sense of humanity. Take them away and you’d be left with a leaner but markedly less compelling workaday workplace thriller: "Michael Clayton" with Nazis instead of lawyers. Grade: B

The Last Winter (2007) Like his "Wendigo," Larry Fessenden’s latest film has a lot of mumbo jumbo about ancient spirits revived and angered by human disrespect — the old Indian-graveyard paradigm, as clunky as ever. But the context is overpoweringly eerie. Grade: B

Towards Darkness (2008) Antonio Negret’s sloppily executed film plays like a car commercial and a military-recruitment promo. Grade: C-

Friday, July 18, 2008

I feel dem ol' catfish blues a-comin' on

After reading this, I feel some kind of blues song is in the works. "Got my pole, got my yarn, goin' down to the catfish farm." No, that's not it.

"Watcha gonna do when the farm runs dry and nobody's got catfish to fry?"

OK, I'll keep working on it.

They're our Mexicans, by gum, and if we want to execute them, we will

This story from today's New York Times begins: "Despite pleas from the White House and the State Department, as well as an international court order to review their cases, Texas will execute five Mexicans on death row ..."

But the illuminating part of the story is here:

"On Wednesday, the International Court of Justice at The Hague ordered a review of five of the Texas cases after Mexico complained that the convicts, all men, had not been allowed a chance to talk to a Mexican consul after their arrests, as required under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. But that argument holds little sway in Texas, a place with a long history of upholding the death penalty and of telling other governments to mind their own business."

Lucky Lupe

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez can consider herself lucky, I guess, that she's not running the Cook County jail. My favorite quote from this New York Times article about conditions in the Chicago hoosegow was this one attributed to U.S. attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald: “You can’t have conditions where people are dying and being amputated.”

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Grades for new movies to be released this Tuesday on DVD

The Bank Job (2008) Jason Statham, possibly the greatest B-movie leading man of this era, stars in a complicated and clever imagining of what might have happened in the mysterious 1971 London bank heist dubbed the "Walkie-Talkie Robbery" - in other words, it was unbelievably high-tech. Grade: B+

College Road Trip (2008) The whole project is a cloying, artificial mess. The slapstick comedy doesn't bite, and the formulaic sentimentality doesn't grip. Grade: D-

Penelope (2008) First-time director Mark Palansky is trying for a deft, hip, modern fairy-tale feel, but the odd material, sprawling story, and complicated tonal balancing act get away from him, and the film winds up as a poorly paced tug-of-war between sweet quirk and sloppy camp. Grade: C+

Shutter (2008) Ostensibly a remake of a Thai film — by a Japanese director with a Hollywood cast — this plays more like a video copy of "The Ring" that’s been so degraded that all the good bits are no longer visible. Grade: D

Step Up 2 the Streets (2008) The reason for all this dull-to-offensive story stuff is, of course, the dancing, which has its moments but overall seems so calculated to impress that it loses all other reason for being. Grade: C-

Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding (2007) Your enjoyment of this film will depend on your tolerance for tasteless behavior, extravagant overacting and a decibel level to rival the unveiling of Oprah’s Favorite Things. Grade: D+

The Year My Parents Went On Vacation (2008) This sweet, yet unsentimental film is about growing up, losing innocence, and longing for a place, and people, to call home. Grade: B+

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wish I had thought of that

My new favorite name for a band: Wes Niles and the Texas Skeeters. They are a cover band (you can find their set list for Saturday night's gig at Enchilada's here) which means their buzz is worse than their bite. It also means I will never go out of my way to see them live, but I really do like that name.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Josh Hamilton's great walk-off

The NBA season is over so I guess it's time to get serious about baseball, although I usually don't get that serious until after Labor Day. But this deserves some recognition and years from now millions -- I mean millions -- will tell you they were in Arlington Stadium tonight and witnessed it up close and personal.

Eat this

Jonny Bowden is the author of a book called "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth" and they include such popular items as purslane and goji berries (don't even bother to ask).

Fortunately, someone from the New York Times asked Bowden to come up with some healthy foods that shoppers could actually find in their neighborhood grocery stores but often never make it to the checkout counter. Here's what he listed:

1. Beets. Bowden says they contain natural red pigments that could fight cancer.
2. Cabbage. Contains a chemical that is believed to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.
3. Swiss chard. Protects aging eyes.
4. Cinnamon: Could help control blood sugar and cholesterol.
5. Pomegranate juice. Lowers blood pressure.
6. Prunes. Contain lots of antioxidants.
7. Pumpkin seeds. Contains lots of magnesium which many believe prevents early deaths.
8. Sardines. They contain loads of vitamins.
9. Turmeric. May contain anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
10. Frozen blueberries. That's right. Not fresh, but frozen. They are associated with improved memory, that is if you remember to thaw them.
11. Canned pumpkin. Who knew the pumpkin was more than just something to carve at Halloween? Lots of vitamin A.

If you would like to learn more, especially some helpful hints on ways to eat all these goodies, chick this out.

Suit claims Dark and Lovely is really Dye and Die

The autopsy's conclusion was quite clear. It said Cornelia Morris of Chicago died of "an anaphylactic reaction to hair dye." So if someone in your family dies this way, what are you going to do? Naturally, you're going to grieve for a few minutes and then sue.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Morris family has sued the Loreal Company saying its Dark and Lovely product was responsible for Cornelia's death. The 10-count suit (the paper didn't elaborate on the various counts) seeks $500,000. It seems Cornelia was dying her hair two years ago when she began having trouble breathing and later died at a hospital.

Loreal issued the pat "We always care deeply about the safety of our products" spiel before slamming the door. I really can't see this going to court, but I would really like to know how much Loreal is willing to shell out to make this go away.

"Dark Knight" already illuminating theater marquees

It's become a clever gimmick. A movie can't open until a certain date but if you want to stage a public relations coup, you say your movie -- one you really want to promote as a blockbuster -- will not wait until the regular showtimes on opening date. It will stage special screenings that begin one second after midnight on the day in question.

George Lucas started this trick with his later "Star Wars" segments. Now Warner Bros. is getting into the act with "The Dark Knight," the latest entry in the Batman franchise.

Here's the deal, though. The last Batman flick, "Batman Begins," directed by Christopher Nolan, was the first film in the series to get it right -- to portray Batman on screen the way he was created in the comics. Not only that, the film was credible on its own. The movie didn't open all that strongly, but positive word-of-mouth carried it to respectable profitability and then DVD sales were phenomenal. Now comes "The Dark Knight," also directed by Nolan, and anticipation is naturally high.

Not only that, word is already out that Heath Ledger's final performance on film as The Joker in "Knight" is a knockout. There's already Oscar talk floating around Ledger. OK, so you might call that hype, but it's working.

How do I know? Well, try and get a ticket to one of the opening midnight showings of "The Dark Knight." For the most part, they are completely gone, sold out. There was such a demand for them the theaters decided to let the demand spill over and they scheduled 3 a.m. showings. Now they have sold out and theaters are selling tickets to 6 a.m. shows. That's right. 6 a.m. And that's in places I've never heard of before. Like Eagan, Minn. Does anyone outside of a 100-mile radius of Minneapolis know where Eagan is or really even care? It certainly doesn't have the reputation as the movie-going capital of the Iron Range, but there you have it -- four hours before the local movie house usually opens for the day, the theater will be having its third showing of "The Dark Knight."

Want to see it in iMax? Lotsa luck. According to the New York Times, all the showings at the Lincoln Center, to cite one example, are sold out for the entire first week of "The Dark Knight"'s run. Well, almost. There's a few seats left for some of those 6 a.m. showings.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grades for new movies to be released this Tuesday on DVD

Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2007) The documentary is a rigorously thorough biography and an impassioned accolade. Director Julien Temple spends as much time on Strummer’s life before and after the Clash as he does charting the band’s powerful musical and political influence. Grade B+

The Ruins (2008) The characters never evolve past mere functionality, and the adherence to certain tried-and-true horror tropes — the good girl who doesn’t want to go but does, the generic naughty kids who get it first — feels workmanlike, robbing the story of any real suspense or surprise. Grade: C-

Sleepwalking (2008) Charlize Theron, Dennis Hopper, Woody Harrelson. As Bill Maher, in his feature directing debut, brings in surreal touches and puts on literary airs, the drama’s grip loosens, and its vernacular turns increasingly wooden. Grade: C-

Stop-Loss (2008) Ryan Philippe. Despite several attempts, I’m still waiting for the drama that convincingly captures the experience of soldiers who’ve fought in Iraq. "Stop-Loss" isn’t that film, but at the very least its efforts are honorable. Grade: B-

Superhero Movie (2008) The gags are consistently weak, though actor Miles Fisher, who, according to the Internet Movie Database, was born right here in Dallas in 1983, turns in a hair-raising impression of Tom Cruise. Grade: D+

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I'm going to tell everyone

I read a lot of mysteries and recently I read a craftily written one from 2001 by Harlan Coben called "Tell No One." It was one of those that lived up to those flyleaf raves such as "You can't put it down" and "a real page turner." In short, it was one of the best thrillers I had read in a long time.

I loaned it to My Hero who not only enjoyed it as well but pointed out to me that the film version of this book was being made by a French production company. I know I scratched my head when she told me this, wondering how Hollywood could let it get away. Now, I'm discovering that it's probably a good thing the Southern California movie moguls didn't grab this one.

The film, directed by one Guillaume Canet, opened this week in Manhattan and received a rave review from Stephen Holden in The New York Times who called it a "delicious contemporary thriller" and compared it to two other mystery films that are favorites of mine, "The Big Sleep" and "Vertigo." Now comes word that the film was won four Cesar Awards, which is the French equivalent of the Oscars, including one for veteran French character actor Francois Cluzet, who won the Cesar for best actor.

I have no idea if and when the movie will play in Dallas. (It opens next weekend on the West Coast.) I checked out the Morning News' Summer Movie Guide and it wasn't listed in there. But, if you're interested in some trailers or clips from the film, you can find them here. I'm hoping there's at least one theater in town that can find a place to squeeze this one in around "Hellboy," "The Dark Knight," "Mamma Mia" and "The X-Files." If not, this city loses all credibility as a sophisticated movie town.

Handicapping Leno

I've never been much of a Jay Leno fan. If I'm watching late night talk show television, I prefer the anarchy of David Letterman to the safety net of Jay Leno, but then I always preferred the Marx Brothers to Laurel & Hardy as well. So there you have it.

But I also realize that, when it comes to ratings, Leno beats the worldwide plants off Letterman, so there's a lot of head scratching going on about Leno's retirement from "The Tonight Show" next year. Of course, retirement may not be exactly the right word for it. It seems the suits at NBC are not-quite-gently shoving Leno aside to make room for Conan O'Brien to move into the hall0wed chair once occupied by the legendary Johnny Carson and, before him, Jack Paar.

So what becomes of Leno? Funny, I should ask because a pair of Chicago Sun-Times reporters speculated on just that question today, listing, in descending order of likelihood, what Jay might do next. I found it an interesting read and, in case you hadn't heard, I've never been much of a Jay Leno fan.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

C'mon Texans -- It's time for another march on Washington

It's looking more and more like the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is the place to be this July Fourth weekend. For one thing, Her Royal Tallness will be headlining a concert at this event Saturday (her opening act will be Guy Clark, for heaven's sake). Then on Sunday she will be hosting (I'm not making any of this up) a 75-minute cooking class (eat your heart out, pardon the expression, Lisa Garza) at 12:15 p.m. followed by more concert performances at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m.

If you missed her during her recent appearance at the Granada Theater you should kick yourself. Not only was I there watching a magnificent concert unfold right before my eyes, but I had the amazing experience of being able to dance with the two most incredibly spectacular and wonderful women in the entire city of Dallas, although, admittedly, one of them was visiting here from a neighboring state.

But I digress. It says that "Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food, and Wine will focus on the great heritage of music, food, and winemaking from every region of the state. ... The National Mall will host demonstrations, performances, and famous Texas talk about the Lone Star State's proud history and its contemporary traditions. Up to a million visitors will hear presentations of Texas blues, swing, conjunto, country and western, gospel, and tejano music; see demonstrations of wine making; enjoy diverse culinary traditions, old and new, from barbeque to Vietnamese soups, from kolach making to chicken fried steak."

All that, and Her Royal Tallness, too. When I say I'm contemplating a trip to the Mall this weekend, I'm not talking about a shopping excursion.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The future is secure

This news means I'll sleep a lot easier tonight. For a minute there, I thought we were in trouble.

The big one busted Madame Marie this time

In the song "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," which gets a lot airplay this time of year in sophisticated radio markets (Dallas not being one, you probably won't hear it here), Bruce Springsteen sings "Did you hear, the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do." The Madame Marie he is referring to is Asbury Park fortune teller Madame Marie Costello, who's been telling fortunes on the Boardwalk since the 1930s.

A memorial service was held for Madame Marie today. She died last Friday, according to her great-granddaughter. She was in her mid-90s.

Not so fast there, XM Satellite and Sirius

Back at the end of March, I wondered how the Justice Department could figure that a merger of the only two satellite radio companies in the entire whole wide world would not constitute a monopoly. At the time I thought I was a majority of one but it turns out there's a handful of senators who are mad as hell about this and are not going to stand it anymore either. At least, they're going to put up a tussle about it. You can read what they are doing here, but it includes forcing the merged company to, among other things, set aside 50 channels for minority and non-commercial informational programming. They also want to require the merged company to include HD-capability in their receivers, which means the devices would carry free, over-the-air signals, as well as satellite broadcasting. Now that would eliminate the monopoly thing, as far as I'm concerned.

If this had happened anyplace else but Pasadena

Fortunately, I didn't spend a lot of time in Pasadena, Texas, but it was enough to tell me I never wanted to go back. I won't go into the whys, but my parents moved a lot when I was growing up and I wound up not staying in any one place very long. The clan landed in Pasadena just in time for me to complete the final semester of my senior year of high school. Upon graduation, I left Pasadena behind for college, only two return twice and then only briefly. My mother wasn't so lucky. Within a year, my father died and my mother never moved again until late in her life. But I'll get to that in a second.

My first return visit to Pasadena -- 20 years after I left -- was to attend a party at Gilley's that followed the Houston grand premier of the movie "Urban Cowboy." I had remembered Gilley's as a comparatively small bar on Shaver Street in Pasadena and I had spent time with a lot-less-famous Mickey Gilley there on many occasions. His mega-club, out on Spencer Highway, was the one spotlighted in the movie and it was actually financed and built 11 years after I left town by local con man Sherwood Cryer.

My second trip back came when I learned my mother had Alzheimer's and was about to be placed in an assisted living center in Pasadena that made St. Elsewhere seem like the Mansion on Turtle Creek. I quickly drove to Pasadena, packed my mother along with much of her clothing and other personals in the Jeep and took her to Austin to place her in a facility that, of course, I couldn't really afford.

But that's not the point of this story either. The point of the story is that Pasadena, at the time I lived there, was the most segregated city I had ever lived in. Not because whites were confined to one part of town and blacks to another. No, it was the most segregated city I had ever lived in because blacks did not live there at all. There was not a single black resident of Pasadena when I lived there, in the entire history of the town before I lived there, and for many years after I left. It was revealed, after a myriad of lawsuits were filed, that all the realtors had an unwritten agreement among themselves that they would not sell any property to African-Americans. Apartments also went along with this policy. Blacks were effectively barred from Pasadena, Texas.

That's why this story about a man in Pasadena getting away with the murder of two immigrants (he thought they were blacks) didn't surprise me when I read it. It made me angry, but it didn't surprise me. I felt as though I should be reassured by some police detective who could pat me on the shoulder and tell me "Forget about it, Jake. It's Pasadena."

Supreme Court gets its facts wrong in child rape decision

The Supreme Court based its argument on banning capital punishment for child rapists on the fact that 30 states that had a death penalty did not impose it for child rape and neither did the federal government. Thus, the court said, the death penalty in these cases is unconstitutional because it is "unusual."

However, it turns out that fact is fiction.

Only two years ago, according to this story, Congress revised the Uniform Code of Military Justice to allow for the death penalty for child rape. However, according to the story, "Anyone in the federal government — or anywhere else, for that matter — who knew about these developments did not tell the court."

I'm not sure the Supreme Court can call a mulligan on a decision. But perhaps now is a good time for the justices to take a closer look at the "cruel" part of this whole "cruel and unusual" argument.

Ordinance? We don't need no stinkin' ordinance

Maybe if Leona Helmsley had owned a hotel around these parts, the Dallas City Council might not have had to act so decisively to sterilize all those furry critters. Maybe the city could have solved its budget deficit and named the proposed convention center hotel the Dallas Helmsley in return for a bone from her estate.

We are the Manchurian Candidate

Yeah. Sure. This is who we should hold up as role models. The Chinese Communists who interrogated American prisoners during the Korean War. Let's pattern our behavior after those guys. You mean we already are?