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A Disclaimer

October 20, 2010 1 comment

Say no to the Oxford comma!

Cocktail Fodder does not support or condone use of the OXFORD COMMA. We do not work for the Department of Redundancy Department and we will not use an utterly useless piece of punctuation.

As Vampire Weekend succinctly put it, “Who gives a f*ck about an Oxford comma?”

Cocktails with the Captain

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Art inspiring vice or vice inspiring art?

There’s nothing quite like loading up on some whiskey and then making big decisions. When trying to decide the content for this edition of Cocktails with the Captain, I took a couple pulls of my favorite whiskey out of the ole hip flask, sat down at the keyboard and let the words flow. After all, as the legend John Barrymore once said of his work, “There are lots of methods. Mine involves a lot of talent, a glass and some cracked ice.” Sure enough, a few moments later, fire went from the back of my throat, down to my belly and then shot out of my fingertips in a blaze of literary genius. You’re welcome.

John Barrymore and I are in good company: Earnest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hunter S. Thompson, John Cheever, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack Kerouac, William Faulkner, (My editor hates that I just put a comma here and I love to push his buttons so I use it every time. Suck it editor!) and James Joyce were all known to drink for and because of artistic inspiration. You can’t deny the genius in any of them… or me. Obviously, I find myself fascinated with the relationship between art and vice and art inspired by vice. So, in this week’s Cocktails with the Captain, rather than laying out some recipes, I ultimately decided to highlight a gallery of some amazing alcohol inspired artwork.

Glenfiddich Scotch Whiskey, one of the World’s most famous Scotch Whiskies since 1887, sponsors a “barrel art” competition each year that has produced some fantastic sculptures. In 2008, Glenfiddich Whisky approached Michael Johnson, of the London-based design consultancy group Johnson Banks, to interpret the length of time it takes for Glenfiddich single malt whisky to mature in barrels. Currently, Glenfiddich is bottled at ages of 12, 15, 18, 21 and 30 years old. Johnson focused on the ‘jobs’ that each part of the barrel have to do over the different lengths of time the company’s five different whiskies take to mature. I hope you find his results in these whiskey inspired galleries to be as amazing as I did. Enjoy.

http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/10/view/4606/glenfiddich-barrel-art-by-johnson-banks.html

And one more…

http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/johnson-banks-glenfiddich-barrel-art

Helping Things Get Better

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Life will get better.

Most of my posts on the Fodder’s domestic issues are borderline rambling and have to do with recent Congressional bills, political happenings or a hot-button issue that has taken control of the most recent news cycle. Today will be different. It will be short and to the point. Today, all I want is to draw your attention to a YouTube initiative started by author, activist and media pundit Dan Savage:  The “It Gets Better Project

Founded before the nationally covered, tragic suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, It Gets Better is a forum for happy, openly gay adults to post their own stories of bully-filled, persecuted childhoods (not that all LGBT childhood are by any means) and to deliver one message: “It gets better.” Life gets better. Narrow, close-minded, spiteful people will try to wear you down; but do no, do not,t let them take away your spirit. It gets better. In a time where suicides in the LGBT communities are increasingly prevalent, the testimonials on the itgetsbetterproject channel are touching, powerful and necessary.

In ways, it’s a shame that Mr. Savage and his fellow contributors had to turn to an internet/social media campaign, circumventing the “traditional” media sources, to bring a message to a population of vulnerable teenagers. In other ways, it is a fitting venue considering some in this society would still consider this a “subversive” message.  Either way, all I ask of you is to log on to YouTube and watch a video or two or three. You will be so happy you did.

Listen to a NPR interview with Mr. Savage here.

To add some star-power (so I can tag it an increase some hits!), watch Project Runway’s Tim Gunn‘s testimonial here.

Finally, please “like” the project on Facebook!

SAVE THE DATE!

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Cocktail Fodder is back. But a little different. Photo by Hector Garcia.

Cocktail Fodder is back! Save the date! One week from today, on October 11th, your favorite conversation-starting, fun-fact generating, snarktastic blog will be back, producing new content.

Yes, the Fodder has been on hiatus for a little longer than expected. Yes, we’re officially down a founding member. Yes, we’ll have to slim down content for the time being before we find a bright young mind to join the cause. Yes, Captain Adam is still churning out the good ole alcohol related humor. No, we will not waver from our goal or stop rocking your world with brain-stimulating, morally challenging opinions and espresso machine fodder tidbits. No, you won’t get those 30 minutes back each day you spend on Cocktail Fodder. Sorry.

So mark you calendar. Put it in your Blackberry. Throw it in your iCal on your iPad or iPhone. Do what you need to do. Just remember, we’re back and better than ever. Get ready.

The Week in Fodder

July 30, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s Friday… and what’s this… a Week in Fodder posted on the correct day?!!! WEIRD. Well, we did it, got it out in time. A lot of good stuff in this week’s edition… Hezbollah and Lebanon, Catalonian independence, the ESB, Warren Jeffs, mandatory minimums, alcohol and arthritis, crazy Philly fans and SO much more. Enjoy!

World Views:

Hezbollah: Creating tension in Lebanon.

Pakistan Air Blue Crash: Early Wednesday morning an Air Blue flight from Karachi to Islamabad crashed in the hills of Northern Pakistan just minutes before landing. Sadly, all 146 passengers along with 6 crew members perished in the accident. In a remote area, the crash site is near unreachable due to a lack of any form or roads and rough jungle terrain. Rescue workers immediately found a flight recorder; officials are hoping that the recorder will provide insight into the cause of the crash; beyond the weather that was the most likely cause.

Favela Makeover: On Tuesday, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes announced that slums (favelas) surrounding the city will be receiving a facelift before the 2016 Summer Olympics. Affecting over 200,000 households, the renovations and clearing of the favelas will cost over $4.5 billion. With over 600 communities receiving the “facelift,” the action-plan is audacious. The 13,000 families from the 123 communities that will be displaced by the actual destruction of the most decrepit areas will be relocated. This is the latest move in the ongoing struggle between the Brazilian government and the favela residents. After deadly landslides killed over 200 in April, the Rio government signed a decree into law that would allow the forcible eviction of favela residents. In May, a report by a non-governmental group found the official justification to be standing on shaky legal ground. The bottom line is that the Rio government sees the favelas as a hinderance to modernization for a handful of different reasons. The Olympics provide the municipal powers with the perfect rationalization to make a significant change. It all smacks, disturbingly, of Beijing’s attitude and tactics in the days and months leading up to the 2008 Games.

KGB Redux?: Thursday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed into law a bill that will expand the powers of the ESB; the descendant of the Soviet KGB. The bill passed both houses of Parliament but sparked major debate. In a country where dissent in relation to the Kremlin’s preferred policies is – let’s say – frowned upon, the fact this bill has been so strongly opposed raises red flags about the danger of the new law. The controversy revolves around specific language in the new law. ESB agents will now have the power to “warn officially an individual about the inadmissibility of actions that create the conditions for the commission of crimes.” That is terribly vague and dangerously usable language. In country where freedoms are shrinking, opposition journalists are murdered and Vladimir Putin casts a ever-present shadow, the ESB’s new powers are a disturbing development.

Bullfighting Ban: The Parliament of Catalonia, the semi-autonomous southern region of Spain, voted to ban bullfighting this week. With the vote, Catalonia becomes the first region of Spain to outlaw the historic national pastime. The measure made it to Parliament on the back of a petition signed by over 180,000 persons. While the decision can be seen within the scope of an animal rights campaign, many Spanish political experts believe that this was a power move by Catalonian nationalists to separate themselves from the rest of Spain; proof of a different historical identity. If it was, it was tactfully done. Keep an eye on this story.

Lebanese Tension: After a round of groundbreaking talk between Lebanese, Saudi and Syrian officials in Beirut, there has been a united call for maintained stability and piece in the volatile Mediterranean country. There are signs of a renewed conflict within its borders. After years of turmoil following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the withdrawal of Syrian troops in 2005, a unity government was finally formed in 2008. This, of course, included the politically powerful Hezbollah. As the UN investigation into Mr. Hariri’s death wraps up and it becomes more and more likely that it will condemn Hezbollah members, tension is rising. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, stated in a television interview this week that he would not stand for the defamation of his organization; a warning shot across the bow of the UN. After the 2006 War with Israel, Lebanon cannot handle another step backwards. Keep an eye on this story when the UN report comes out.

American Matters:

As his followers stay true, Warren Jeffs gets a new trial in Utah.

SB 1070 Blocked: On Wednesday, Federal District Court Judge Susan Bolton struck down some of the most controversial aspects – the ability of police officers to detain persons the believe to be “removable,” the pressing of all officers to determine immigration status in any kind of routine encounter with citizens and the requirement for all legal and illegal residents to carry proof of residency/legal immigration – of Arizona’s hot-button immigration law. Issuing an injunction against those facets, Judge Bolton cited the laws usurpation of the Federal Government’s sole right to make immigration law in the United States. Arizona immediately launched an appeal. Reaction has been varied. (Here is a little sampling.) SB 1070 is undoubtedly on a fast-track to the Supreme Court.

Jeffs’ Verdict Overturned: The 2007 conviction of Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophetical leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints*** (FLDS), was overturned this week by the Utah Supreme Court. Found guilty of facilitating the rape of a 14 year old FLDS member, Mr. Jeffs was sentenced to two concurrent 5 to life terms in prison. Citing a misrepresentation of legal facts by the judge in the 2007 case, a unanimous decision by the Utah Supreme Court means that further legal action against Mr. Jeffs in Utah is highly unlikely. Luckily, there are charges pending in Texas and on the Federal level against the FLDS leader. Mr. Jeffs ideology and church are immoral, dangerous and unacceptable in our modern United States; I only hope that he stays in prison where he belongs.

***This link is to the FLDS website run by the FLDS. Take it for what you will. OR, as they say, with a grain of salt.

Mandatory Minimum Victory: On Wednesday, after almost 25 years of injustice, Congress finally passed legislation to change the disparity in crack cocaine-powder cocaine mandatory sentencing on a national level. Since 1986, in the midst of the crack scare, Congress passed a law that put the mandatory minimum sentence of a first time crack cocaine offense at a level of 100 to 1 to the same first time offense of powder cocaine. Because of the cheapness of crack compared to powder, the issue quickly became socioeconomic; this inevitably led to a racial disparity. I won’t get into a lecture here. All I will say is this: it’s about damn time Congress.

Blago Trial: Illinois is officially on verdict watch in the Rod Blagojevich trial. After a controversy over Mr. Blagojevich’s lawyer’s closing argument, the jury started deliberation on Thursday. Facing over 20 criminal charges, Mr. Blagojevich is in the midst of one of the most prolific political corruption trial in recent memory. As in all high profile cases, the jury will most likely pontificate for a longer period of time before returning a verdict. Look for one early next week. Until then, however, you can place your bets on when they will come back, here, on Chicagoist.com.

Arlington Controversy: Earlier this year, John Melzer – the former superintendent of the Arlington National Cemetery – was forced to retire over a scandal involving the mislabeling and lack of labeling of at least 600 graves in the national resting place. Yesterday, Mr. Melzer and his right-hand man, Thurman Higginbotham, testified to a hostile Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), citing her own investigation, stated that the errors in labeling, in reality, affected somewhere between 4,000-7,000 graves. Senators on both sides of the aisle attacked Mr. Melzer and Mr. Higginbotham’s handling of the situation. The latter ended up pleading the 5th in response to a myriad of questions; the former blamed most of the errors on his staff. Let’s hope this unfortunate disrespect of our nation’s heros can be fixed sooner rather than later.

Off the Beaten Path:

Feeling arthritic? Drink it down, baby.

Alcohol and Arthritis: A study by the University of Sheffield released this week has found a direct link between drinking alcohol and rheumatoid arthritis relief. The study concludes, using two different test groups, that people who frequently drink alcohol, on whole, have less joint pain and swelling. It’s a victory for all college students, winos and arthritis suffers all over the world. I can already see it. A cop walks up to a car in a suspected DUI stop… “Have you been drinking tonight?” “Sory ociffer, my artritis was flaring up today…(insert hiccup).”

Paul the Octopus… the Great Satan Incarnate?: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave Islamist groups everywhere another reason to hate the West this week: Paul the Octopus. Claiming the octopus represents “decadence” and “decay” among his Western enemies, Ahmadinejad stated that people who believed in soothsaying octopi could not possibly aspire to the “human perfection” that the Islamic Republic does. Let’s call a spade a spade here… Ahmadinejad is a hater. Pure Haterade. He’s just jealous Paulie Boy didn’t pick Iran to win the World Cup. I’ll raise a drink to Paul the Octopus tonight. Will anyone else join me?

Apache on Main Street: This week, an Apache helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing on a street in Kershaw, S.C. due to mechanical problems. The Apache landed on the nearest, safest road when the crew decided it was too dangerous to continue on. The Army left it parked on the street overnight until it could send a truck to pick it up. I can only imagine that AAA call. “What kind of car is it?”…. “It’s actually a $56.25 million Apache…” “You know we only cover the first 20 miles of towing… right?”

The Northwest Passage: Over 150 years ago, the HMS Investigator traveled toward the Arctic searching for the legendary Northwest Passage and a quick link to the Indian silk routes. After getting marooned on the Arctic ice, the crew abandoned the ship. This week, an archaeological team found the ship’s remains. There may be some controversy over this discovery, however. Since the Investigator was found in Canada’s Western Arctic, there will probably be a turf war between Canadian and British authorities as to where the ship’s final resting place will be. I, personally, think it should stay where it is. It’s a testament to the explorers that opened this world for the rest of us; let it sit!

Vomit and the Phillies: Anyone who knows sports knows that Philadelphia fans are a special breed; intense, passionate and mostly crazy. Well this story – and what a story it is – would only happen at a Phillies game. Last Friday, Matthew Clemmens – a native of the Dirty Jerz, that’s a whole different story – intentionally vomited on a spectator and his daughter as the Phillies played the Washington Nationals. That spectator was actually an off-duty police officer; talk about karma. Anyway, Clemmens was sentenced to three months in jail and two years of probation. I mean, are we serious here? When was the last time you went to a sporting even, heckled the person in front of you for an hour and then pulled the trigger and puked on them? Oh right, never. Get better Matthew Clemmens.

Oh, and here’s some Phillies fan action for you…

Quotes of the Week:

LOVING the yacht controversy...

“If you guys think that John Kerry doesn’t have enough sense of either propriety or common sense, that I’m going to be sailing my boat around Massachusetts where I’m highly recognizable but it’s going to somehow stay in Rhode Island and I’m going to avoid a tax . . . I’d be crazy to think that I’m going to be doing that, and that was never our long-term intention here.’’ – Sen. John Kerry in a Boston Globe interview concerning the controversy surrounding his new yacht. New $7 million yacht and referring to himself in the third person? NBD.

“I’m working every day to clear this black mark from me and my family. Give me the opportunity to show you who I am and not who I was that one afternoon.” – Matthew Clemmens at his sentencing. Good luck with that, kid.

Idiom of the Week: To be a bundle of nerves.

This week’s Idiom of the Week describes someone who is nervous and uptight.

Example #1: John was quite a bundle of nerves when his name was called on to read a passage of Hamlet aloud in front of the class.

Example #2: John Kerry was a bundle of nerves when he realized he didn’t pay taxes on his new yacht.

Song of the Week:

This week’s Song of the Week comes from the New Jersey band Real Estate. It’s a great chill, summer tune to put on in the background. Enjoy!

That concludes our Week in Fodder. Hope you got something for your weekend shenanigans. Thanks for tuning in. Until next week, keep living the good life!

Irish Update

July 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Irish Pride

Hello again, and welcome (or should I say fáilte?) to the Fodar. Ireland has been having quite the summer, but I’m quickly realizing that not everyone keeps the Irish Times on their RSS like I do. So I’ve taken it upon myself to brief you all on the goings on of this tiny, yet thunderous nation. Sheep may outnumber people 2:1 over there, but they are certainly not a nation of followers. I’ve interspersed some highly significant moments with a few lighter pieces to give you a taste of Irish summer – hmm, maybe the Captain can come up with an “Irish Summer” themed shot to share with y’all. But I digress — Big things are happening in my favorite little country, so let’s get craic-in’.

British Prime Minister Apologizes for Bloody Sunday Massacre

On June 15th, while thousands gathered in Guildhall Square, Derry, British Prime Minister David Cameron publicly apologized for the massacre that took place 38 years prior. On January 30, 1972, British paratroopers opened fire on a civil rights demonstration, killing fourteen civilians in what came to be known as Bloody Sunday. “On behalf of our country,” said Cameron, “I am deeply sorry.”

The newly published Saville Report officially recognizes, for the first time, that British forces fired the first shot and that the killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable.” The 5,000 page report was welcomed by Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen:

“From this day forth, history will record what the families have always known to be true . . . 14 innocent people died on the streets of Derry on January 30th, 1972. There is no doubt, there are no ambiguities. In truth, there never were. They were innocent. May they rest in peace.” (Source: Irish Times)

This was a day of reconciliation for both Ireland and the UK, a monumental moment in the long and often bloody history between them.

Bono Blogs about Bloody Sunday

In a guest op-ed for the New York Times, U2 front man Bono checks his agenda and offers us a more personal perspective on the findings of the Saville Report and Cameron’s apology. He did write the song, after all – this is definitely worth a read.

Jay-Z Owns the Oxygen Festival

Reigning king of the Empire State has expanded his domain to Dublin, opening for Ireland’s largest music festival this summer. “He came, he saw, he conquered,” he “stole the show,” and was quickly dubbed “the festival’s undisputed heavyweight champion.” His performance may have “sidestepped hip-hop’s usual clichés,” but he seems to have inspired nothing but from reviewers at the Irish Times.

Milk 2010

Ireland’s first-ever outdoor LGBT music festival will kick off August 14th. How can you go wrong with a line-up featuring Bananarama and Right Said Fred? But really, this is about a growing culture of openness and acceptance in country still grappling (as so many of us are) with its conservative Catholic upbringing. Milk welcomes “anyone from any community encouraging a culture of inclusiveness, acceptance, diversity and celebration” – which brings us to our next story…

Seanad Passes Partnership Bill.

This is huge. While Massachusetts was busy declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the Seanad Éireann was engaged in a 23 hour long debate, eventually passing a Partnership Bill granting “marriage-like benefits to gay and lesbian couples in the areas of property, social welfare, succession, maintenance, pensions and tax[KG1] .” The bill was passed 48-4 with no abstentions after it was eventually guillotined by Seanad Leader Donnie Cassidy. While same-sex marriage is still not recognized, the new civil registrations will carry comparable legal benefits. This is an enormous step forward for Ireland, a country struggling to find its own identity amid 21st century convention and a steep Catholic tradition. When you consider that divorce was not legal until 1996 and abortion is not legal in the Republic of Ireland, except when necessary to save the mother’s life, the Partnership Bill speaks volumes about the willingness of modern Ireland to compromise its Catholic roots and adapt to a more contemporary set of values.

Irish Gay Rights take a step forward.

Derry Crowned City of Culture

Derry, Londonderry, Doire Colmcille – the city has many names, and now a chance to showcase its oft misunderstood history as the first-ever UK City of Culture for 2013. Beloved Irish rockers Snow Patrol lead the campaign, urging the panel to “Just Say Yes” to Derry – I’m not sure which bit I’m happier about, the fact that this fabulous city is getting its due, or that a Snow Patrol song is finally being used to promote something other than the latest mediocre rom-com. I kept it in the Irish theme with that one, but seriously – take a peek at their soundtrack track record. Not good.

Whales in Dublin?

The first whale sighting off the Dublin coast in more than 20 years. He may not be as cool as this guy, but let’s give him some credit.

Ireland’s Credit Rating Drops

I feel you on this one, Eire. Happens to the best of us.

Citing the government’s “gradual but significant loss of financial strength, as reflected by its deteriorating debt affordability,” Moody’s has downgraded Ireland from Aa2 to Aa1 and changed its outlook on ratings from stable to negative. Bloomberg quotes Dietmar Hornung, Moody’s lead analyst for Ireland, as saying “It’s a gradual, significant deterioration, but not a sudden, dramatic shift.” But this is not a portent of doom, nor an irreparable mark on Ireland’s economy. The days of the Celtic Tiger are long gone – with an unemployment rate of 13% and emigration rates once again on the rise, this isn’t really surprising so much as signifying of Ireland’s acute struggle in Europe’s recent economic decline.

So there you have it – the financial and political woes, social struggles and civil and cultural landmarks Ireland has seen of late. With so much going on, such highs and lows wrestling in the headlines, it’s hard to say what shape the rest of the summer will take.

Sláinte!

Kelly

Cocktailfodder.com

July 22, 2010 Leave a comment

cocktailfodder.com!!!

We are now at cocktailfodder.com! That’s right, we made the jump.

That is all.

The Movie Maven: INCEPTION

July 22, 2010 2 comments

You know they really wanted to call this movie "Conception" but then just really couldn't.

In the spirit of our new content expansion, we wanted to start you off right with our new resident film critic… The Movie Maven. She’s the harshest, smartest and most analytical movie watcher we know and she jumped at the opportunity to start a column on the Fodder. She’ll review new, old and different movies… bringing a fresh and snarktastic viewpoint to all of them. What better movie to start with than Inception…

Greetings, homies! I’m sure this whole film-reviewing thing will take its own shape in time, but I can say with conviction that I will always include a part at the end (The Good, The Bad) and if I think the film at hand is worth the exorbitant amount that movies cost nowadays. This means my feelings won’t be shattered if you decide to skip to the end. Who are we are kidding? We all have the attention spans of toddlers. But on with the show…

Here is what I have to say about Inception: go see it before everyone talks it to death. If you haven’t seen it, don’t read this review. Seriously. Though there really aren’t any spoilers (And even if you heard them, they would not make the least bit of sense, thus rendering them spoiler-less. Unspoiled?), it is worth going into this movie with an unsullied mind. Everyone is allowed to have a unique opinion about Inception because the subject matter is, of course, relatable. Everyone dreams.

But not everyone dreams like this and no movie that I’ve ever seen has tackled the dream-state in quite this fashion. No one flies in this movie, and there are no ‘trippy’ elements to the cinematography. Don’t get me wrong, reality is defied at every turn, but just not in the way you would think. This dream world is not magical, but rather a world that very rigidly adheres to its own systems of logic. It is extremely dangerous, for both the subject and the – let’s call them ‘invaders’ – placing the moviegoer in a constant state of anxiety; although one that is not altogether unpleasant.

Inception could fall into the classic post-apocalyptic sci-fi film category (sigh, maybe my favorite sub-genre…) but it feels fresh. It is your standard: “In the not so distant future, the military/government/rebel scientists/people with too much money discover shared dreaming/artificial intelligence/artificial intelligence/artificial intelligence. Man cannot control the power he’s unleashed and all is nearly destroyed. But wait, there’s hope!–” but yet not really. Not really at all.

While I struggle to pinpoint what it is about Inception that makes it feel like new territory (when it really isn’t), I find the bottom line to be this: the movie is very, very good. To shout out KSchwed, (who I’ve seen this with twice, and who has, herself, seen it thrice), the best way to determine if you’d like this movie is to ask yourself the following: did you like The Matrix? Great, me too. Were you disturbed by and also blown away by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Samesies. Does the sound of those two titles in tandem make you see dollar signs? Then you agree with Warner Bros, because that was very likely the pitch for this movie.

Similarities methinks.

For those of you who don’t have the IMDB app at your fingertips – and care about other things besides the fact that the guy who plays Eames in this movie is also the guy from Layer CakeChris Nolan, the movie’s director, is the writer/director of Memento and The Prestige, but you probably know him best for the fact that he not only saved the Batman franchise from B-movie obscurity, but made it, well, ridiculously awesome. In a nutshell, Chris Nolan likes to entertain you and fuck with your head at the same time. He is a very skilled filmmaker. (I wish he’d gotten to Superman before Bryan Singer made that drivel, but I digress.)

Ah, reality. The reality Inception presents us with is, itself, ambiguous. After watching the movie, you’ll see that there are multiple (and solid) arguments for multiple interpretations. Like any well-crafted novel, different analytic readings will result in new thought-provoking possibilities. I have one that I prefer to put my stake in, but no argument is completely secure, because Chris Nolan wants the themes of the film (reality and our perception of it) to be reflected in the nature of the movie going experience itself. Isn’t reality just something we collectively agree upon? Try playing the game of “Is the blue you see the same as the blue I see?” It is this lack of any “answer” that makes this movie smart.

What makes this movie entertaining… aka The Good:

It is a wholly absorbing experience, for all types of movie-goers.

  • From the visuals to the sensory-depriving-yet-still-hauntingly-beautiful score by Hans Zimmer to the excellent action sequences and their prevalent but not obvious use of water (rain, lake, ocean, even bathtub). The plot is multi-layered but not, in my opinion, convoluted because the universal themes of love, guilt, redemption and duty run a current of simplicity through it all. You won’t be trying to figure out who has ulterior motives, or what isn’t as it seems. It’s all a dream, we already know that.

There are plenty of nice things to look at/ really solid acting

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, of course, is a great leading man, though Cobb reminds me far too much of his character in the awful mess that was Shutter Island and I have a theory that Leo has an accent in almost all his movies because his voice is, well, weird, but that’s another story for another day.
  • Marion Cotillard is just plain stunning and brings a lot of skill to a role that could have easily been a one-dimensional romantic figure. Cotillard’s Mal is perplexing, alluring and terrifying all wrapped up in one hot French package.
  • Michael Caine is Michael Caine, though we get him for maybe three minutes.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt channeling Neo with his stiff, jerky movement and stoic yet sexy visage is hysterical at times.
  • Cillian Murphy is just plain good in any character he plays. Also, I’m pretty sure Danny Boyle and Chris Nolan have joint custody.

The Bad

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt channeling Neo with his stiff, jerky movement and stoic yet sexy visage is hysterical at times.
  • Ellen Page. She plays Ariadne (REALLY? No, it’s ok, we’ll name a character after the woman from Greek Mythology who leads Theseus through the LABYRINTH to escape the minotaur), a character who exists SOLELY to ask questions so that the audience knows what’s going on, and doesn’t do it with any finesse. And guess what her totem is? Yup, a PAWN. Subtle, guys.
  • Certain moments of heavy-handedness. (See above) There are times when you may laugh at how strongly the movie believes in itself. One example comes within the first 10 minutes, Leo: “You’re asking me for Inception. I hope you do understand the gravity of that request.” DUN DUN DUN. We get, we get it. Inception, whatever it is, is a big deal. It’s the title of the movie.
  • Just watch the cuts of the van in free fall. We’ll talk after. (Thanks again KSchwed, for noticing this one.)

Is this movie worth it?

As I said, I’ve seen it twice. And I’m both a tough critic and very, very poor. You do the math.

If you want to read a hysterical thunderous verbal attack of the movie by someone who clearly missed the point, read Rex Reed’s New York Observer post.

LeBron to Miami: A Team-First Tale

July 22, 2010 1 comment

LeBron risked all the grief in the world for this.

Another day, another guest blogger. Today, we present to you, the one and only, Chazzerific. A maverick of the sporting world, Chazzerific’s first post will give you a new take (YES, a new one!!) on the LeBron James free agency fiasco. He will be helping out, from time to time, in the sports section to keep our voice fresh and sharp. So, without further explanation…

Since LeBron James announced his decision to “take his talents” to South Beach, to team up with Dwayne Wade and the newly acquired Chris Bosh, he’s been called a disappointment, selfish, even cowardly. Critics say the King shied away from his chance to be “the man;”  that he gave up his chance to be considered among the greatest players of all time and failed to fulfill his destiny as the second coming of Michael Jordan. At first, I pretty much agreed with these assessments. Then I realized something. LeBron isn’t Michael. There are similarities for sure: in Cleveland he wore number 23 and he can jump out of the gym just like Mike. However, according to NBA scouts, what really set LeBron apart, even in high school, was his playmaking ability, his on-court vision, passing and unselfish play. In contrast, Michael was a scorer. He is the only player to lead the NBA in scoring during a Championship season and he did it six times. The more I think about it, the more I realize that his move to Miami represents an old school, team-first basketball attitude in a new school, big market NBA. The clash between those two worlds has made LeBron one of the most polarizing figures in sports and overall it has given him a bad rap.

No player, even the players we all know on a first name basis – Michael, Kobe, Larry, Magic, and so on – has ever won an NBA Championship by himself. They were all surrounded by talented teammates. In fact, they all had at least one teammate that, like them, that can be identified by a single name. Michael had Scottie. Kobe had Shaq and then Pau. Larry and Magic were lucky enough to have a couple guys each. Larry had Ainge and McHale. Magic had Kareem and Worthy; you’ve heard of them right? In signing with the Heat, LeBron has succeeded in doing for himself what the Cavs, despite their best efforts, failed to do for him. He surrounded himself with great teammates; a group of players that will highlight his strengths as a passer and a play maker and emphasize team-first basketball.

I know what you’re thinking… if LeBron is such a team-first guy, why in the world did he keep the spotlight so singularly on himself during his free agency? I am not about to try and defend the spectacle that was “The Decision.” As mentioned in a previous Fodder posting, everything about that press conference – from the day-long build up on ESPN to the location from which it was broadcast – was a microcosm of everything that is wrong in professional sports today. So you will not find a defense of “The Decision” here.

The new "Showtime?"

But I digress… critics say that LeBron’s move to Miami is selfish, I would argue the exact opposite. Other teams offered him the Sun and the Moon, but he took less money in order to play for the Heat. Wade and Bosh have done the same. It brings to mind something Bill Russell said in a conversation with KG during the Celtics 2008 Championship run: “You may have to put your arms around a couple guys and take them with you, but you can’t drag them. You’ve got to put your arms around them and take them with you.” A look at the Miami’s revamped roster shows that LeBron, Dwayne and Chris won’t have to drag anyone with them. The team-first, self-second attitude has become contagious. The new additions did cost them some young talent, namely Michael Beasley, who was sent to Toronto as part of the Chris Bosh sign and trade. On the flip-side, however, Miami has been able to retain the services of some young talent in both Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem. Haslem, in particular, will provide a hard-nosed defender and another big body down low during particularly physical contests. While talks with NBA Finals regular Derek Fisher fell through, Miami found veteran role players from other places in the form of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard and Mike Miller; all of whom have played at least 10 seasons in the NBA. Alongside D Wayde, LeBron and Chris Bosh, these salty vets will play a key role in helping to mold rookies Dexter Pittman, Da’Sean Butler and Jarvis Varnado.

Critics say that by joining the Heat, “King” James will never be anything more than a “Prince” in the court of His Majesty Dwayne Wade; is that really such a bad thing though? Magic orchestrated Showtime by distributing more often than scoring yet he is still considered among the greats. Isn’t Lebron capable of similar feats? It’s true that LeBron probably won’t score as many points while playing with two other top ten NBA superstars, but they will play extremely entertaining basketball. Aggressive defense will lead to a fast and loose type of offense with James and Wade exchanging high altitude finishes. In teaming up with D-Wade and Chris Bosh, LeBron may not be “the man” but he will undoubtedly be one of “the men” on what might prove to be one of the most talented teams the NBA has seen in recent memory.  Even if you put all that aside, let’s face it, the guy gets to do something we should all be fortunate enough to do at some point in our lives… work with his best friends. I mean c’mon, who are you kidding? You would jump at the chance to get paid to hang out with best friends at work all day, especially if it meant you might get to win an NBA Championship (or several) and you know it.

Reinventing the Metaphorical Wheel

July 22, 2010 1 comment

Ch-ch-ch-changesss.

Alright, maybe what we’re about to tell you isn’t that drastic. Well, come to think of it, it’s not even close…. but things are changing at the Fodder. When we posted A Feel for Cocktail Fodder, we mentioned that this blog would be filled with trial and error along the way; our goal was to seek out what works and what doesn’t, what people like and don’t like, etc. So in that vein, we’ve decided to reformat our Thursday content. Of course, we’ll still give you AWC’s brilliant footie posts, but we feel like we need to expand. There are too many other interesting areas of life we need to cover.

Not Your Average Sports” Thursdays are morphing into a sports/pop culture/entertainment/fashion Thursdays; we admittedly haven’t thought of a catchy name yet. This change opens us up to a whole new world of Fodder. We’ll introduce you to our resident movie critic, AWC will enlighten everyone with his fashion passions, the Captain will give you his take on pop culture absurdity and I’ll lambast a few celebrities. Fun had by all. Hopefully it will bring you a whole new palate of Fodder. Enjoy!