to the Boy Scouts this morning. Only problem was there wasn't a Boy Scout in sight. Just a lot of white guys in suits.
North's speech had two themes: the capability of our military and the assault on the Boy Scouts from the left.
"The young people who serve in our armed forces are the brightest, best-led and thoroughly-trained of any military force of any country in history."
North shared a most interesting story from his travels in Iraq. He showed a photo of a Navy corpsman carrying an injured individual away from a helicopter downed during a gunfight. But North said look closely at the picture: the injured individual was not a U.S. soldier but a member of the Iraqi Republican guard.
Here's the interesting part, according to North. A news crew was there on the scene and yelled to the corpsman, "Didn't you notice he was an Iraqi?"
"Didn't you notice he was wounded?" the corpsman replied.
"The Boy Scouts are in the crosshairs of a well-funded legal battle here in the United States......Apparently, the patriotism of the Boy Scouts offends many Americans."
....You know by now: Philip Seymour Hoffman wins
the Oscar for Capote
. It just so happens I caught Hoffman's award-winning performance over the weekend.
You know the story: Perry Smith and his buddy Dick Hitchcock blow away the Clutter family when they don't find a safe that doesn't exist. Capote reads about it in N.Y. Times, befriends everyone on all sides of the case, and spends five years researching and writing what would become In Cold Blood
. Capote becomes rich and famous; Perry and Dick are hanged.
While the Clutter murders are well-documented in Capote's nonfiction account as well as a feature-length film and a TV movie, Capote himself, while certainly a character in real life, remained simply the narrator. Now he's a character in the drama that seized Holcomb, Kan.
And what a character. We first hear Capote's voice at a party in New York. Hoffman did it dead-on; as the camera pans through the party you expect to see the wan little fellow instead of the heavier-set Hoffman. The audience is treated to a couple of Capote monologues while hanging out with the crowd.
But most of the movie is set in Kansas, where Capote employs his own brand of journalism. He was there the next day, attended the usual press conferences and got time with officials when available.
Yet you never saw Capote take a note. He bragged about his "94 percent recall" a few times during the movie. Any journalist knows that scribbling notes interferes with really getting to know your subject. Capote's smooth methodology eventually gained him access to all the key players, including lead investigator Alvin Dewey (played by Chris Cooper).
The movie addresses some serious ethical issues that are still prominent in journalism today. In mind, Capote's cozy social relationship with Dewey while the case was still live (they were having dinner at Dewey's house when the call came in that Smith and Hitchcock had been captured) would be viewed with contempt today. If anybody finds out, that is.
But what about Capote's relationship with Smith? It's well-known that Capote was infatuated with Smith (though surprisingly, the movie doesn't explore Smith's sexual confusion). The movie makes the claim that Capote helped get them lawyers for their appeal. He also bribed the prison warden to get unlimited access to both prisoners.
But the strategy backfired. As the appeal wore on, Capote continually had to ward off his publisher. Making matters worse was the fact that Smith balked at talking about the murders. He finally spilled, giving the book and the movie its climax. If you're squeamish, I'll go ahead and tell you the murders in "Capote" are recreated in a quick, camera-darting scene.
Where the movie came up short, in my opinion, was that it didn't really show Capote performing the monumental task of actually writing the book. That's the hardest part, any writer will tell you. I would have liked to have Capote sweating over the keys, pouring over notes, checking facts by phone, tearing up pages.
The movie's well-filmed; it's cold and dark in Kansas, and you feel it. But that said, it will work fine as a rental.
....One week after her tribute
to Don Knotts, the Times' Virginia Heffernan relieves my guilt for spending so much time in front of TVLand's
tribute to Barney Fife:
"Television, after all is the art form reviewed in this newspaper that is also regarded as a public health hazard......Study after anti-television study has failed to pinpoint the exact perils that viewers are prone to, and yet the idea that television is dangerous persists as an article of faith."
True. People seem so proud of themselves when they say "I don't watch television" or "I don't have time to watch television." But I maintain it's an art form like any art form. There's good and there's bad. And to enjoy any art form, whether it's a movie or a photograph or a TV program, do you not have to totally subject yourself to the artist's vision?
Enjoy life. Watch TV.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
More Judge Manning......N&O coverage
via Floyd Stuart
Manning "oversees North Carolina's long-running court case on school quality...directed education leaders to crack down on the schools.....
"Under his latest his directive, principals would be replaced in schools where passing rates on state tests remained at 55 percent or less in all of the past five years, including the 2005-06 school year.
"Those schools would also be required to begin reform plans modeled after the small-school approach promoted by the state's new schools project, supported with a $10 million grant from the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation."
Here's the deal with Smith:
"The smaller high schools can be carved from larger ones and are typically oriented to a particular career theme, such as health sciences or technology."
Sure, the courts' job is to rule on the legality of school policy. But I can't see where a judge has the authority to perform administrative functions such as opening new schools and closing existing schools
......Guilford County commissioners
are getting impatient with the constant money--shuffling by the school board
, to the detriment of the Jamestown Middle School project.
This time, school system CFO Sharon Ozment came before the commissioners asking that $2.8 million in state money be directed toward the purchase of the former Oakwood Homes headquarters so the system can set up up a mini-magnet school for about 300 students at Smith High School.
Interestingly enough, Ozment cited the influence of Wake Superior Court Judge Howard Manning (who made an interesting announcement
yesterday) as the main reason to make this move.
But the issue that upset commissioners most was the "project ordinance revision" that wouls shift $294,000 away from the Jamestown project back into the system's capital outlay fund. The Jamestown project now has less than half of the $29 million earmarked for the project, and school officials admit there's no way it can be completed with the available bond money.
Paul Gibson asked this question:
"If we don't do this, will it in any way speed up the project at Jamestown?"
"No sir," Ozment replied.
So the school system is going to need another bond to complete the Jamestown project. But how does the board think another referendum can pass considering they way it's handled the $300 million bond that passed in 2003?
"The school board sold the Jamestown community this project. They need to do what they say they're going to do. They owe it to them."
"If we continue to do this, I'm afraid we're not going to get another bond passed."
The commissioners ended up voting to table the issue until the school system could provide some more answers about the move, particularly Manning's influence over the project at Smith. Some are curious
about Manning's influence over the state's public education system, period.
Friday, March 03, 2006
.....Caller to Medved
"I'm not calling with one particular political point of view or the other. But I think the impeachment of President Bush should proceed."
.....Krauthammer doesn't mince words
when he says "Syriana" is a bunch of liberal Jack Abramoff:
"Nothing tells you more about Hollywood than what it chooses to honor....But unitl you see 'Syriana,' nominated for best screenplay (and George Clooney, for best supporting actor) you have no idea how self-flagellation and self-loathing pass for complexity and moral seriousness in Hollywood.....
"Most liberalism is angst- and guilt-ridden, seeing moral equivalence everywhere. 'Syriana' is a different species entirely —a pathological variety that burns with the certainty of its malign anti-Americanism. Osama bin Laden could not have scripted this film with more conviction."
Any chance Clooney won't win an Oscar Sunday night?
Thursday, March 02, 2006
...Interesting article on Gov. Easley's opposition
to the sale of federal forest land in North Carolina:
"Forest Service officials say the sales are needed to raise $800 million over the next five years to pay for schools and roads in rural counties hurt by logging cutbacks on federal land."
"We don't like it. We're hoping to acquire more (land) at every opportunity."
But this is a golden opportunity to acquire almost 10,000 acres that's already been set aside for forest land, at "fair market" value:
"North Carolina would get the first crack at buying the land, but Bill Holman executive director of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, said it's unlikely the state would do so. The state's resources are limited because it wants to acquire land this year from International Paper and power companies."
I wonder which is the better deal?
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
.....Atlanta ups the ante
"Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin just took a top seat on the pit box with Governor Perdue by upping the city's original $5 million commitment to a whopping $77 million in support of the NASCAR Hall of Fame bid.
"...Mayor Franklin saw the long-term impact on the city from an economic development standpoint and decided to make this one of the centerpieces of her newly created economic plan throught the Atlanta Development Authority
.Charlotte, you're on the clock