Saturday, September 29, 2007

Filmmakers come home to SLP!

Coen brothers to get 'Serious' in Minnesota

Filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen are bringing their newest production home to St. Louis Park.

By Tim Campbell, Star Tribune
Last update: September 28, 2007 – 11:07 PM

For the first time since their Oscar-winning 1996 film "Fargo" brought duck stamps, wood chippers and "you betcha" into the national consciousness, the Coen brothers are returning to Minnesota to make a movie.

"A Serious Man," set in their hometown of St. Louis Park, will begin shooting in the Twin Cities in March, Lucinda Winter, executive director of the Minnesota Film and TV Board, said Friday.

Joel and Ethan Coen helped scout locations this summer, Winter said. "They looked in Richfield, Brooklyn Center, maybe Hopkins -- neighborhoods that would match the one they grew up in."

The Coen-scripted dark comedy centers on "Larry Gopnik, a Jewish college professor in the Midwest during the 1960s," according to the website FilmJerk. Bedeviled by children who lift his wallet, a wife who wants a divorce, a too-intense grad student and a hot neighbor who sunbathes in the nude, "he starts to question the value of life."

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Coens' parents were college professors.

The Coen brothers could not be reached for comment Friday night. They are in New York City, filming their next feature, "Burn After Reading," which stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand, the "Fargo" star and wife of Joel Coen.

Meanwhile, their critically praised bloody thriller "No Country for Old Men" will open in November.

After a drought in Minnesota film production alleviated only by "North Country" in 2005 and "A Prairie Home Companion" last year, Winter said she was "over the moon."This is a serious production," she said. "They'll be here from January [for preproduction] through June. There'll be jobs for about 100 Minnesotans."

Just as important, she said, it will "jump-start our visibility as a film location. Even now, people come up to me and say, 'Oh, Minnesota -- 'Fargo.'"

Producers also scouted locations in Wisconsin, but opted for the Coens' home state because of its "Snowbate" incentive program. Reinstituted in July 2006, it returns up to 15 percent of film production money spent in Minnesota.

"We're a player again," Winter said.

From Lizzy:
This is the best news I've heard all week. I'm definitely going to try to work on this film somehow. They are filming it in my neighborhood!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It pains me to say this...

I've been blogging for 3 years and 2 months, and I feel that my time here may be coming to an end soon. In the last several months, I've felt extremely abused by our government (BOTH parties), and I'm burned out. I will still continue to fight the good fight, but I'm going to look into other outlets.

If I do decide to let this go, I'll still be around reading and commenting on all of your wonderful posts.

I don't know...maybe I should take an extended break before I make my final decision. If I were to stop blogging, I know something is going to come up to make me think, I should blog about this, and then I'd be mad at myself for shutting this down.

Tom said I should just blog about other things for a while. He has a point.

I also don't like the thought of one less left-wing blogger out there in the world.

It's a tough call.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Petty and Cruel Dictator”

By Cindy Sheehan:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the president of Iran spoke at Columbia University today. I heard that he was invited there because the President of Columbia wanted to foster a “free exchange of ideas.” Even though I am not an Ahmadinejad supporter, I know he was elected in Iran in a knee-jerk and understandable response to the USA’s bloodily unnecessary invasion of Iraq, as many reactionery governments have been elected in that region and all over the world in response to the spreading US corporate and military empire.

Citing such human rights’ violations in the form of imprisonment and executions, the President of Columbia University, very boorishly said that Ahmadinejad appeared to be a “petty and cruel dictator.” First of all, how does one invite someone to your place for a “free exchange of ideas,” and be such a rude American? Did he only invite Ahmadinejad so he could publicly scold him or to become the darling of Fox News?

Secondly, what about our President who appears to be a “petty and cruel dictator?” George Bush presided over a stunning amount of executions when he was Governor of Texas and the US is operating torture prison camps, openly and secretly, all over the world. BushCo has fought the Supreme Court and Congress for the right to hold thousands of humans without their human rights of due process and they have also been strenuously committed to the strategy of torture---or “enhanced interrogation methods” as the Ministry of Truth likes to call it. A Reverend gets beaten down in the halls of Congress; nooses are being hung in the south; students are being tased on campuses and Congress is censuring Freedom of Speech…how much evidence do we need before we decide that something is profoundly wrong in present-day America?

In 2006, China, the leading practitioner of state sanctioned murder in the form of execution, killed 8000 people in this manner. However, the Premier of China is welcomed to the US by George Bush who is probably envious of President Hu Jintao's record. We borrow vast sums from China to wage our wars and China is our major trading partner. Wal-Mart’s cheap and dangerous crap is manufactured by near slaves there, but somehow that is okay? Somehow it is okay to welcome Communist China with open arms, but demonize and disparage a Socialist like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela? America has a very lucrative prison business and is the only country in the Americas that practices execution. A barbarian is a barbarian no matter what color, religion or nationality they are.

George Bush has added signing statements to almost 1000 bills that he has signed into law saying that he doesn’t have to obey those very same laws. We have the Nazi-ist sounding Department of Homeland Security which seems to be obsessed with keeping my un-zip-locked baggied lip-gloss off of flights. The un-Patriot Act and breaking of FISA laws and our 4th Amendment right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure have turned the “Land of the Free” into the “Home of the Slaves.”

To put the cherry on the sundae of the crimes that BushCo have committed, they have sent hundreds of thousands of our own sons and daughters to occupy a country that was no threat to America or its neighbors. Thousands of Americans are dead, wounded or mentally screwed up and millions of Iraqis are dead, wounded, mentally screwed up or displaced from their homes.

Another boorish American, Scott Pelley (of 60 Minutes) hammered Ahmadinejad about sending weapons into Iraq without even once acknowledging the immoral tons of weapons that we rained on the citizens of Iraq during “shocking and awful;” the cluster bombs that look like toys that litter the killing fields of that country and have killed and maimed so many children; the mercenary killers that outnumber our troops and use the people of Iraq for target practice; the thousands of tons of weapons that the US let out of such weapons dumps as al-Qaqaa that were left unguarded while the oil ministry was heavily fortified. Not to mention that America supported Iraq in its eight year long war with Iran that killed an unbelievable amount of people on both sides of the border. The hypocrisy of our system is spectacular and deadly in both ignorance and arrogance.

We here in America are living in a fascist state that regularly puts corporate profits and an insatiable and evil thirst for power above people and their needs. Our supercilious leaders and media are so busy calling the kettle black, they don’t notice or care how dark our pot is. We are supporting Israel in their human rights violations against Palestine, illegally occupying two countries on our own and we have the nerve to claim any kind of moral superiority over anybody?

The fascist, near dictatorship of the Bush regime (a la Nazi Germany) has even intimidated universities to align with their hypocritical murderous rhetoric. Universities should feel free to invite anyone to speak to open much needed dialogue in our country and in the world. And if a person is invited, they should be treated by the person who invited them with a slight modicum of courtesy and then let the rocking and rolling begin with the “Q & A”…which would truly be a free exchange of ideas. I am surprised President Bollinger didn’t have President Ahmadinejad tased.

Peace is going to take all the nations working in cooperation to limit naked aggression and human rights’ violations, not just the ones which the US declare as evil. How many nukes do we have? How many does Pakistan have? How many does India, Israel, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union have? Should the rhetoric be about destroying all weapons of mass destruction and not just prohibiting Iran from obtaining one?

Many countries are committing human rights' violations and sending arms and troops into many parts of the world. America's biggest export is violence and we would do well to call for an end to all occupations and violence by beginning to end our own.

Let’s clean our own filthy house before we criticize someone else for theirs.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Little Bird - RIP

I'm taking a couple days off from blogging. I had to put my budgie, Little Bird, to sleep. She was a good bird, and we will miss her.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm coming out, but it's not what you think

I've been calling myself an agnostic for years. In the back of my mind, I knew I was doing it to "hedge my bets," so to speak, as I'm sure most agnostics do.

I come from a 100% Jewish background. I went to Saturday school at Temple Israel in Minneapolis almost every Saturday until the 10th grade. I lost family members in the Holocaust. I respect my ancestry, heritage, traditions, and the state of Israel.

I will always be considered a Jew, but I am an Atheist.

When I finally let myself say those words, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

I believe in Science, Mother Nature, Animals, Karma, Love & Hate, and even ghosts & UFOs, but I don't believe in god.

On a side note: When I told Tom about my revelation, he said, yeah, I've known that about you for the last 7 years.

Well, there it is.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

John Edwards response to W's TV address

I really like this man. I hope his campaign can gain some traction.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I think we'll be seeing more & more of this

Sent to me by Michelle, best friend extraordinaire:
(Thanks Meesh!)

When moderates feel lost in the GOP

A Missouri state senator abruptly declares himself a Democrat, angrily citing the influence of social conservatives.

By Stephanie Simon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 3, 2007

RAYMORE, MO. -- Talk about a nasty divorce. In an announcement last month that left Missouri politicos agape, state Sen. Chris Koster, a rising Republican star and chairman of the Senate's GOP caucus, abruptly declared himself a Democrat.

Not only did Koster join the marginalized minority party in Missouri, but he did so with a thundering speech that lambasted his former colleagues as ignoring the needs of their constituents and slavishly following the dictates of "religious extremists."

The former prosecutor denounced several Republican positions he had once supported, such as steep cuts in Medicaid coverage and subsidized family-planning programs.

But Koster reserved his harshest criticism for GOP efforts to overturn a voter-approved constitutional amendment that protects embryonic stem-cell research in Missouri.

"The Republican desire is to criminalize early-stage stem-cell research in our state," Koster said in a speech he repeated three times as he hopscotched across the state. "Go to Boston for your Nobel Prize; come to Missouri for your leg irons. And the Missouri Republican Party not only tolerates this lunacy, but embraces it," Koster said.

Days later, one of his staffers updated his website -- by deleting a photo of Koster shaking hands with Vice President Dick Cheney.

Koster's decision stunned Republicans here in his district just south of Kansas City and across this quintessential swing state. "There's no precedent for it in the state of Missouri," said GOP consultant Paul Zemitzsch.

But the move sounded like deja vu just across the state line in Kansas.

Three prominent Kansas Republicans moved into the Democratic column in late 2005 and 2006, voicing similar concerns about the influence of social conservatives. One of those defectors was elected attorney general. Another -- who once chaired the Kansas Republican Party -- now serves as lieutenant governor.

Political analysts don't expect a cascade of party-swappers in Missouri. As political scientist David Webber put it: "I'll be darned surprised if anyone follows [Koster's] example."

But they say the move does point at how effectively social and religious conservatives dominate the Republican Party across several Midwest states -- and how frustrating that can be to self-styled moderates who would prefer to focus on economic issues.

"That's been true for a decade," said Webber, a professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Missouri elder statesman and former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth last year wrote a book on the subject. "Faith in Politics" called on the GOP to shake free of the religious right. Danforth is now trying to translate those words into action by leading a national coalition of GOP moderates called the Republican Leadership Council.

Koster knows that many in Missouri would have preferred it if he, like Danforth, had stayed with the GOP despite his differences. "It's a disappointment to lose him," said former state Sen. Betty Sims, who had her own battles with the religious right but remained Republican.

But after three years of feeling out of sync with his own party, Koster, 42, said he couldn't take it any longer.

The final straw, he said, came this spring when his colleagues overturned a state law requiring public schools to give students comprehensive, medically accurate information on sexually transmitted diseases and birth control. Districts may now focus exclusively on abstinence.

"I knew at that moment," Koster said. "For me, leaving was the right, the moral thing to do."

Skeptics -- and there are plenty -- point out that Koster voted for the abstinence-only provision that he now says is so troubling. (He says that's because the bill included other programs he supports, such as funding to encourage pregnant women to consider adoption instead of abortion.)

These critics see Koster's switch as opportunism, a way to bolster his expected candidacy for state attorney general in 2008 -- a year many pundits expect will be good for Democrats across the board.

"Any time you jump to the other side of the ship to make a gain and leave your friends behind. . . it's hard to respect someone like that," said Tom Circo, 54. A Republican, Circo sells insurance here in Raymore, a town of 16,000 in Koster's western Missouri district, which stretches from the suburbs of Kansas City into farmland.

Koster responds that he jumped from the fourth-ranking GOP position in the state Senate -- with a cushy office and a chance at a still-higher leadership role -- to become the lowest-ranking Democrat in the state Senate. He will face stiff competition in the Democratic primary for attorney general. The governor, a Republican, has urged him to resign his Senate seat.

He's hated by many on the right, distrusted by more than a few on the left. And to top it all off, he has opened himself to charges of flip-flopping not only on party affiliation but on key positions. When he made the switch, he announced he was no longer "pro-life" but would henceforth support legal abortion.

So if he was trying for political gain, Koster jokes, he pretty well botched it.

John Willis, 73, disagrees.

A voter in Koster's district, he said he didn't believe in blind loyalty to either party -- and he was glad to have a state senator who apparently felt the same.

"If he has the guts to do that, he must believe in it," Willis said. "And that's what we want in our politicians, isn't it? People with the guts to stand up for what they believe in."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

News flash! Fox News lied!

These numbers are correct:

33% Paul
18% Huckabee
15% Giuliani
14% McCain
12% Romney
02% Hunter
02% Tancredo
01% Brownback

Ron Paul clips:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Leslie, Rocky and Boris


Being the animal lover that I am, I have been feeding the wild birds and critters in my backyard ever since I was a little girl. I even feed "Boris", the big spider, that lives under the siding of my house.

My father used to get mad at me for feeding the critters because he thought they'd do damage to our house. Now Tom gets mad at me for feeding them because he thinks they'll turn vicious. My sister thinks that if I ever stop feeding them, they'll "come for me." Can you imagine a row of squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, cardinals, Blue Jays, chickadees, and woodpeckers waiting for me at the back door? : )

About a week ago, I noticed large poops on the roof of the pool house. I assumed it was raccoons because they are common around here, but I wasn't sure.

The mystery was solved tonight. It's an opossum! After further research, I learned that they are not dangerous and are actually quite beneficial to have around. They are known as "Nature’s Little Sanitation Engineers."

My sister & I have named him/her "Leslie." (I don't know why.)

Here's a pic of a red raccoon from a couple years ago:


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Cheese curds and politics

I love the Minnesota State Fair. It's a great place for people watching, goat petting, concerts, delicious food (on a stick) and politics.

Last Sunday, Tom & I went to see The Suicide Commandos in the Grandstand. Most of our friends were there, and we saw people we hadn't seen in years. It was like an old punk rockers reunion. We may be a little older & grayer now, but we can still rock with the best of 'em.

I paid a special visit to the Republican booth. It was uneventful.

I went back to the Fair today with my sister, niece, and a friend. Again, I couldn't resist the Republican booth, but this time was different. While my sister & I were having a civil conversation with a young woman there, an older guy in a wheelchair rolled up and started some shit with us. It got a little ugly. He had his talking points, but when confronted with the facts, it only made him angrier. It ended with a shouting match about Iran. He's all gung ho about invading them next. When I asked him who we had left to fight the next war, he had nothing to say. Pure chickenhawk bullshit. You know the story.

Of course I also visited the DFL and Green Party booths. I had a lengthy conversation with Ken Pentel of the Green Party and came away thinking I should join them. They truly represent everything I want in a political party, so it's something I'm going to really consider.

The day ended in the best possible way. I met our next Senator, Al Franken. He had a ton of people around him, but he took a moment to have a conversation with me, as well as anyone else that wanted his time. I told him that I was from St. Louis Park (his home town.) When he asked me where in SLP, and I told him, he said he knew where that was. He was super-nice and had an aura of kindness about him, just like the late Paul Wellstone.

I may go back to the Fair one more time before they close up on Labor Day. Good times.