::Literate Blather::
Monday, April 30, 2007
The One That Got Away: Part One
The Bombs of the Super Stars

Even A-List actors have bad days – or in this case – really sucky films. An actor can be on an enormous roll – hit after hit, blockbuster after blockbuster – and then WHAM!!!

They star in a flop. It’s one of those films that in a retrospective will completely befuddle everyone. The only question that really needs to be asked is: “Why?”

DaRK PaRTY has come up with our list of the worst movies made by Hollywood’s A-list movie stars. Here’s the first part of our two part series:

Six Days, Seven Nights (1998)

Harrison Ford usually packs a Hollywood wallop – although lately he’s had some sucker punches to the jaw. After a streak of mega-blockbusters – the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies being the most prevalent – he’s been like a punch-drunk fighter. It all stemmed from the decision to team up with Anne Heche for “Six Days, Seven Nights.” No chemistry, no plot, and no character development. “Six Days, Seven Nights” is a disaster – “Survivor” before “Survivor” existed. Two unlikely and unlikable people stranded on a desert island. And then pirates show up. Yeah, it's that kind of movie.

Legends of the Fall (1994)

Brad Pitt stars as the only cowboy in Montana to have a blow drier in 1911. His hair should have been given its own acting credit. “Legends of the Fall” wants to be a macho cowboy movie, but ends up being sort of “Brokeback Mountain"-ish" (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This could have been the movie to derail Pitt, but the movie was embraced by the mallrats of America and actually made $66 million. The worst part of this movie is watching Anthony Hopkins act after his character has suffered a stroke. Wow, bad.

Batman & Robin (1997)

It’s amazing that George Clooney has a career after starring as Batman – with erect nipples on his costume. The movie is so terrible that it came close to destroying the Batman franchise. This movie may be one of the worst made in the decade of the 90s. Clooney stumbles through this film like a freshman pledge who just lost a five-hour quarters tournament. This movie should have imploded his career – yet amazingly he seemed to avoid getting most of the blame for it. In other words, he lucked out.

Hook (1991)

Julia Roberts survived this bloated blockbuster in much the same way – there was so much blame to throw around that not much stuck on her. This film must have sounded great on paper. Robin Williams as Peter Pan! Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook! And Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell! This movie is a cheap stunt. A grotesque manipulation of J.M. Barrie’s classic and director Stephen Spielberg should hide his head in shame. One of the worst roles in it belongs to a joyless Julia Roberts pretending to be a fairy. Oh, what one would do for a fly swapper.

Battlefield Earth (2000)

Finding John Travolta’s bomb is difficult. The man has so many. But then “Battlefield Earth” plopped into theaters like a giant turd from space and it wasn’t so difficult anymore. That’s because “Battlefield Earth” makes getting a beaten with a shovel seem like a better option. We won’t bore you with the details – just miss this movie at all costs (even if it means stepping in front of a bus). Travolta should be called the “Zombie” because no bomb seems strong enough to kill him. He keeps coming back.

The Avengers (1998)

This was supposed to be a break-out movie for Uma Thurman (that had to wait until 2003 and the first “Kill Bill”). “Avengers” wants to be witty and urbane and instead it’s witless and suburban. While Thurman looks groovy in her leather outfits – her acting is as wooden as co-star Ralph Fiennes facial expressions. We have no chemistry here and a total plundering of the successful “Avengers” TV show. Is it any wonder that Uma only had one movie role in the following year? “Avengers” nearly killed her. Hell, it nearly killed everyone who watched it.

The Brothers Grimm (2005)

One or two “Brothers Grimm” in a row could have pushed Matt Damon into Ben Affleck territory (Ben can’t buy a good role). But Damon managed to survive this tiresome, irritating film that insults the collective intelligence of the audience and the filmmakers at the same time. How? Most of the blame landed on director Terry Gilliam (who usually hits it out of the park and should have known better). Matt plays Will Grimm and his usual charm gets beaten like a rug here. He comes across as crass and craven and that’s in first 15 minutes. He’s lucky this film sank fast and he followed it up with stunning roles in “Syriana” (2005) and “The Departed” (2006). Otherwise, he and Ben would be holed up writing "Good Will Hunting: The Second Coming."

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Thursday, April 26, 2007
5 Questions About: Movie Reviews

(Ty Burr has been one of the film critics for the “Boston Globe” since 2002. Before that he worked for Entertainment Weekly for 11 years, covering movies, music and the Internet. As he likes to say: “When an old actor died, I was the guy who had to write the obit.” Ty got his real taste for movies when he worked for Cinemax right out of college. Among his duties – programming late-night T&A movies. “I've had guys in their 30s get down on their knees and thank me for making their adolescence bearable.” Ty is also the author of "The Best Old Movies for Families." DaRK PaRTY talked to him about the art of movies reviews and the state of today’s film industry.)

DaRK PaRTY: I've noticed a more aggressive tone to movie reviews in the media in last few years. Reviewers, you included, often seem to get personal about the actors and directors you're reviewing. Why is this?

Ty: I think popular film criticism (as opposed to academic film writing) has been moving in the direction of more colloquialism for quite a while now. Three key developments: Pauline Kael (whose reviews in “The New Yorker” were punchy and confrontational and hugely influential on the current generation of working critics), the rise of rock criticism from the underground press (written in a more direct voice, it also influenced other critical fields), and the internet (let a million movie reviewers bloom). I see a more aggressive tone in much of the criticism online, for a variety of reasons (youthful bravado, the genres under discussion, the lures of anonymity, general decline of civilized discourse, misdirected anger) and I do think it has carried over to the "mainstream press" -- but only a little. The general run of newspaper and magazine reviewers try to balance wit and depth in their critical voice.

Does that mean we may occasionally say mean things about Angelina Jolie? Yes, but public figures are public figures, and you can't review a movie in a pop-culture vacuum. And critics have always used "getting personal" as a rhetorical device, sometimes for cheap effect, sometimes not. It can backfire: Back in the 1930s, when the novelist Graham Greene was reviewing movies for a British publication, he basically said that if you were a grown male fan of Shirley Temple, you were a pedophile. Temple's studio, 20th Century Fox, sued, won, and drove the publication out of business.

As a movie lover, you must have favorite actors and directors and then those you dislike. How do you prepare yourself to review a new movie and base it only on its merits? Or is that even possible?

Ty: It's not possible, but you have to pretend it is. When I go into a film, I often try to go in "cold," sometimes not reading anything about it or even finding out who's in it. That way, I can gauge the movie against the best movie it's trying to be, which is all one can really hope for. Makes no sense to fault a slasher movie for not being a Jim Jarmusch film, and vice versa. On the other hand, knowing I'm going not a Jarmusch film (or a slasher flick) helps me calibrate my critical settings to the best advantage of a movie.

It's a balance. What I don't do is read up on all the available material before going to the screening, because that's not what an average audience member would do. If there's research to be done and background context to be dug up, I'll do it after the screening and before the writing.

The movie "300" was shot almost entirely in a warehouse -- all the backgrounds and most of the props added by computer later. In an increasing number of films, such as the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the characters are created entirely by computers. Are we rapidly reaching a point where actual settings and actors are unnecessary?

Ty: We're reached -- have already reached -- a point where the movies have split into two. There are the circuses, with their CGI sets and digital critters, and, yeah, settings and actors and storyline become deeply secondary to sheer visual impact. On the other hand, you have more and more realistic dramas or comedies, an outgrowth of Sundance, certainly, but also fed from below by developments in TV (reality programming) and on the internet (YouTube).

So "300" is a harbinger of the future, but so are "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Borat." As the cost of making blockbusters grows more and more outlandish, the cost of just getting out there and making a movie is getting lower. (The distribution/exhibition end of things is still bottlenecked. But not for long.)

My only worry is audiences who think "300" and "LOTR" are the only thing that movies can be, because they've grown up on a zillion crappy CGI family movies.

What are the three worst films that you've ever reviewed and why?

Ty: I hate these questions. Mind goes completely blank. If you ever want to reduce a critic to a drooling moron (not that he isn't halfway there already) ask him what his favorite movie is.

Still: Three worst? Okay. 1. "The Cat in the Hat," with Mike Myers: unbelievably crass culture-rape of the single most subversive kids-book author. 2. "Baby Geniuses": The late Bob Clark digitally animates infants' lips so it looks like they're speaking; you could electrify a dead frog for more entertainment. 3. "Christmas with the Kranks," a movie that despises the commercialization of the holidays before completely caving into it. (Docked extra points for Tim Allen.)

What are the three best films that you've ever reviewed and why?

Ty: Random three from my rotating list of 25-30 favorite movies: "Before Sunset" (Talk + regret x Paris = Bliss); "49 Up" (the only time-lapse study of the human species and thus a unique artifact); “Borat” (How to improvise a cultural critique and still be funny, and no, it's not supposed to be fair or evenhanded).

Ask me tomorrow and get three entirely different movies!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Gerry Ludwig Has a Mental Breakdown in the Express Lane Check-out at Stop & Shop

“Have a nice day!”

“What? What did you just say?”

“Have a nice day!”

“Have a nice day? Have a nice day! Really? You want me to have a nice, fucking day, eh? Is there a more ridiculous request you could make of me? Huh? Look outside, pal, its 87 degrees in New England in April. By August we’re going to be frying like eggs. Global warming! The ice caps are melting, hurricanes are battering our coasts, and the temperatures are heading to Mercury like levels. In the next 10 years, we’re going to be living underwater and swimming to work.

Work! Ha! I work 60 hours a week and most weekends. You think you got it tough behind that register? I've got meetings, emails, reports, more meetings, presentations, deadlines, and more goddamn meetings. I’ve got clients who would just as soon as stick a letter opener through my eye than deign to have lunch with me. But they want more, more, more – faster, faster, faster.

I’ve got a cell phone and a Blackberry and IM and a laptop and Web access. I’ve got more shit on my belt than Batman. I’m working all the time – in taxis, on airplanes, in my kitchen. I’m flipping through emails while I’m taking a shit. I’m always on. They should surgically implant a power chord to my ass like a monkey’s tail. Then I can plug in and recharge all the time. I’ll be a Power Spider Monkey hopping from device to device. I’ll even work for bananas.

And for what? They’re taking away my health insurance. I’m paying like 90 percent of it now and I get to see my doctor on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1:30 and 1:45 on months that begin with the letter “J.” On my last appointment, my doctor stuck his finger up my rectum and had me piss in a jar. Appointment over! Meanwhile, I’m losing my hair, I’ve got chronic diarrhea (I’m spouting off like a Sperm Whale every damn morning!), and my blood pressure is in code red.

I’ve got no dental insurance, I can’t afford to participate in my 401(K), and I’ve got five lousy sick days a year. I need five sick days a month! I could spend five goddamn sick days filling up my toilet bowl. That’s my life! Have a nice day! Have a nice day!

Don’t give me that look, pal. I know, I know, you think I’m a basket case; that I need a little R&R. But I only get two weeks of vacation a year and I don’t even have time to take that. My last vacation was spent in a semi-coma in a mental health institution in New Hampshire that I was forced to pay out of pocket for because I don’t want my company to know that I needed a fucking “rest.” I should have spent it at a bar drinking myself into a real coma. It would have been cheaper.

My wife wants to divorce me. Did I tell you that yet? Who can blame her? Who wants to be married to a failed middle manager with a gut like vanilla pudding and who can’t maintain an erection for more than five minutes? If it wasn’t for internet pornography, I wouldn’t even have a sex life. I’m more intimate with Stephanie the Horny Housewife than with my wife. In fact, I love Stephanie! I adore her for $5.95 a month.

And my kids? They hate me. My 15-year-old daughter thinks I’m a loser. She rolls her eyes so much she may have brain damage. My 13-year-old boy is addicted to PlayStation. I’m not even sure he can speak or walk. All he does is grunt and eat Hot Pockets.

And that’s why I’m here. I’m just here to buy some sausage and pepperoni pizza Hot Pockets. Okay? Is that all right? Can I come in here to buy some fucking food without having a nice, goddamn day? Is that possible?”

“Um, yes, sir.”

“Good. Can I leave now?’

“Yes, sir, and have a nice day.”

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Monday, April 23, 2007
Reading Moby-Dick: Part Five
Chapter Five: Ahab

"Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.
- Moby-Dick


At 11:45 p.m. on Monday, April 22, I finished “Moby-Dick.” With a deep satisfied sigh, I re-read the last sentence and then closed the volume and leaned back into my pillow.

After two previous failed attempts – I had finally done it. After more than two months, I had completed one of the greatest and most challenging reads in American literature.

The monstrous tome had been conquered; harpooned, if you will.

The last 50 pages of the novel were outstanding. It was – by far – the best part of the book. After one of the most agonizing, tedious build-ups I had ever experienced, Melville delivered. The suspense became nearly agonizing and at times I wanted to scream at the heavens like Ahab.

Yet, there are no surprises in “Moby-Dick.” The novel ends just as it should.

That’s why it’s finally time to discuss Ahab. Mystifying, terrifying, and dangerous Ahab.

He is perhaps the most complicated and compelling figures in literature. Ahab is not likable and, in fact, many consider him a villain. His obsession with killing the White Whale borders on the maniacal, but calling him a villain is too simplistic. Ahab is more the misguided, doomed hero. He is defiant, obstinate, and a brilliant sea captain.

He is the great American. He captures the spirit of the United States in Melville’s pre-Civil War era. He could be a grown up Huckleberry Finn who has let his abusive history finally catch up to him.

In fact, literary critic Harold Bloom writes in his book “Genius” that Ahab joins the characters of Walt Whitman in “Leaves of Grass” and Huckleberry Finn as the three most definitive American literary characters.

Bloom goes on to call Ahab the “American King Lear.” It’s a compelling comparison. Both men are aging masters of their universe. Both men are single-minded and ultimately bring about their own doom.

So what is Ahab’s quest? On the surface, it seems a journey for revenge. Forever marred by his first encounter with the White Whale; an encounter that ripped the lower part of his leg off and left him delirious and near dead. But the White Whale isn’t a whale – he is merely a symbol.

Ahab is hunting his fate – his destiny. He is hunting God. “Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me,” Ahab shouts as he tries to lobby his crew to help him stalk Moby-Dick. This is a man who fears nothing – who will risk everything in his defy God.

There’s a reason why most of the crew on the Pequod are named after Biblical figures. There’s a reason why there are few Christians (or white men) on board. Most of the crew is pagans or atheists. And they all die; every one of them.

Except for Ishmael.

But Ishmael knows he has been spared for one reason; to tell the story to others.

In the end, the Christian God prevails. He rolls over and destroys the free-spirits, the defiant, and the bold American characters. How would Melville react to the fundamentalist explosion happening today in the United States? He would nod sagely and point to his novel: which accurately reflects that movement, which like Moby-Dick tries to drown the unbelievers.

“Moby-Dick” is an enormous book. Huge. But ultimately, Melville let it get away from him. The novel is flawed because of the tiresome passages about whaling, whaling history, and whaling anatomy. It nearly brings down the book and wading through some of the chapters is like sinking into quicksand.

You almost need a maniacal determination to finish.

I’m glad I read it. It has been one of my goals as a reader for a long time. But would I recommend it?

Difficult question. For some readers, I would; for other’s I would not. That sounds like a cop out – but it’s the best answer. If you are willing to read the novel slowly and carefully – to absorb it and patiently fight through the difficult sections – then that reader will find it a worthwhile endeavor.

But readers like that are rare these days.

Progress to date: Page 655 of 655.

Reading Moby-Dick: Part Four

Reading Moby-Dick: Part Three

Reading Moby-Dick: Part Two

Reading Moby-Dick: Part One

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Sunday, April 22, 2007
5 Questions About: 007

(DaRK PaRTY wishes we were a spy for the British Secret Service. That’s why we devour Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and have seen every James Bond film – most of them several times. We were so impressed with the latest entry in the series – “Casino Royale” – that we decided it was time to learn more about 007.

So we sought out David Black – who was more difficult to track down that Mr. Bond himself. David is the chairman of the James Bond International Fan Club. Black was born in Scotland in 1968, but lives mostly in York. In 1995, he got bitten by the Bond bug when collecting movie posters from the James Bond films. In 2000, while search for posters, he stumbled upon the fan club, which was in a financial nosedive. After a few meetings, he ended up taking over the club. He is often feature on various radio and TV broadcasts talking about James Bond.)

DaRK PaRTY: Why do you think James Bond is so popular around the world?

David: The Bond films are the most successful and longest running film franchise ever to reach the silver screen. The producers, Eon Productions, must be doing something right!

I think the combination of style and action – attractive men and women, exotic locations, desirable cars, boats, helicopters etc all create a fantasy lifestyle that secretly most of us would like to live. As has been said before – the men want to be Bond and the women want to sleep with Bond.

DP: How did you first get introduced to James Bond and what was the main attraction?

David: Every year at Christmas we were treated to a film at school. The first one I saw was “Live and Let Die” (1973) – it was on the big screen and it had me hooked. The combination of action / adventure, the fight between the suave James Bond and the frightening villains (Tee Hee with his metal hook hand and Baron Samedi charming his snakes in his voodoo rituals) was amazing. The stunts were breathtaking – especially as I was only 10 years old - a double decker bus getting chopped in half under a low bridge – Bond running across the backs of snapping alligators…

As I saw more of the films, the cars and gadgets used in 007’s adventures kept me coming back for more.

Give us a summary of the James Bond International Fan Club -- what does it do? How many members to you have, etc?

David: The James Bond International Fan Club was founded in 1979 and has around 4,000 members at present. We have members from all over the world, particularly the UK, Europe, US, Japan and Australia. We produce the magazine “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” on a quarterly basis with interviews and insights into behind the scenes events from the Bond films.

The club has had conventions in the past at Pinewood Studios and in London – hopefully we will be running more events as membership numbers increase.

In your opinion how does the new James Bond, Daniel Craig, rank among the other actors who have portrayed 007?

David: Many people were skeptical when Daniel was picked as the 6th James Bond. Following the release of “Casino Royale” (2006), I think Daniel has proved a real success – I personally put him right up with Sean Connery as one of the best Bonds of all.

Timothy Dalton was also great – they are all good interpretations of Ian Fleming's literary Bond.

DP: What are your three favorite James Bond films and why?

David: My favorites are “From Russia With Love” (1963), “Goldfinger” (1964) and now “Casino Royale.”
I love the style of the films – action and adventure combined with a good, well thought out story line. Not too many gadgets in any of these but plenty of high-speed action.

I must just add that I love all the Bond films – they all have good points – I can happily sit and watch the Roger Moore films or the Timothy Dalton editions. Hopefully there will be many more still to be produced.

DaRK PaRTY's The Best and Worst of James Bond Films

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Thursday, April 19, 2007
How to be an Office Drone

Send a resume that claims you’re a people person. Then go sit in a corner and wait for retirement.

Required Uniform

Polo Shirts: It’s best to have a wide range of colors such as plum, peach, salmon, turquoise, and black. They should all have the logos of defunct technology start-ups that no one has ever heard of such as Intrudec, iThunk, eVert, and Shout Magic.

Khaki pants: Of various shades – preferably to ankle length to show off your amazing array of brown and black socks.

Sneakers: Tennis and running sneakers are the favorites. Make sure they are shiny and worn with your colored socks.

Required Habits

Coffee: You must be a coffee aficionado and drink at least four or five cups daily. You will be required to fall into one of two tribes – Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks. Everyone is allowed to complain about the single-cup servings available in the office kitchen.

Computer Games: Mastering single shooter and Dungeons & Dragons role-playing games is a must. Be ready to describe the adventures of your half-elf mage/thief to any and all co-workers.

Pornography: This will be your only outlet for sex. Try to be discrete.

Candy: Be prepared to be bombarded with sweets. Eat it all. The sugar rush is the only happiness you will receive most days.

Necessary Skill Set

Screen Reduction: The ability to reduce a window quickly and effortlessly is a necessary skill to hide the fact that you aren’t actually working but posting anti-corporate rants on your blog or in a flame war with DevilDwarf on the Worlds of Warcraft message board.

Complaining: Bitch about everything: your salary, your social life, the commute, the weather, your workload, the new vice president, your cubicle, and your life.

Powerpoint: You must be able to communicate your every thought through bullets.


Office Parks: You will work in flat-roofed office buildings with no functioning windows and overhead fluorescent lighting. The building will be surrounded by a blacktopped parking lot. Sometimes you’ll be close to a strip mall.

Cubicles: You will live in your cubicle. It’s like a monkey cage at the zoo (only there’s nothing to climb on). Be sure to personalize your cube with Dilbert cartoons, toys and balls, vacation photographs, cute animal magnets, a candy dish, various certificates and internal company awards, and graft from the trade shows you’ll be forced to attend.

Conference Rooms: Be sure to pick the most comfortable chair and one with a view of the world outside of the soul-sucking enterprise where you work. Skills to attending long meetings are the abilities to: fart quietly, disguise growling stomachs with coughing, pounce on food first to avoid soggy sandwiches, and to leave the meeting with absolutely no work.

Cafeterias: Most of the cafeteria workers have criminal records and probably spit in the food. They hate you and your relatively fat paycheck.


Chapped Lips/Dry Skin: Offices are drier than deserts. If you don’t drink enough water you will suffer.

Hemorrhoids: Scratching your ass discretely is an acquired skill.

Overweight: You will develop a paunch because you spend all day sitting on your ass and not moving. Wear loose clothing to disguise the fact that you’re a fat, out-of-shape slob.

Attention Deficit Disorder: Email, IM, and cell phones will create an addiction for instant data. You will be unable to focus on one task for long periods of time. You will become impatient with conversations because they take too long. Remember: multi-tasking is just a polite way of saying you have ADD.

Muscle Atrophy: You’ll have strong fingers, but the rest of you will become pale and soft.

Welcome to you new career.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Under God's Right Arm: Pesky Dinosaurs
By: Colson Crosslick

It’s amazing that in this day and age of allegedly enlightened people that there are still large pockets of the population that believe that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. This is one of the grand lies perpetuated by evolutionists who insist on the silly notion that the earth is several hundred million years old and that dinosaurs once ruled a world without human beings.

Obviously, these scientists – and I use the word lightly – have never read the Holy Bible. A careful study of God’s words in the Bible proves that the earth is only a few thousand years old, most likely just 6,000 years old. We’re a young planet!

That means, of course, that dinosaurs walked the earth with human beings. God created all living creatures on the sixth day, according to the Old Testament. The text is quite clear:

“And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:24-25)

It is amazing how scientists have been duped by the mad ramblings of one man -- Charles Darwin -- and his theory (a theory mind you!) about evolution. The entire concept of natural selection is so ludicrous that it’s amazing that anyone takes it seriously. Yet most schools teach evolution and reject the sound science of creationism. In fact, evolution is the foundation of modern biology!

How bizarre given that we possess the greatest scientific manual on the planet – the Holy Bible. The Bible gives us a matter-of-fact, rational, and wholly undisputed explanation directly from God on the how the world was created. It isn’t complicated. God made the world.

I’m a student of intellect (and have several degrees from unaccredited Christian Universities) so this is easy for me. I’ve studied biology, astrology, chemistry and teratology in college. But even a child can understand the simplicity of creationism compared to the overly complicated and unlikely “science” of evolution. What is more rational in your mind?

  1. All the plants and animals in the world were developed through an evolutionary process where individual organisms struggle to survive and those with the best or most favorable characteristics for their environment will be more likely to survive. As a result, those favorable traits will be passed onto their offspring and become the dominant characteristics among organisms.


  1. An omnipotent, omnipresent God designed our universe, planets, plants, animals and human beings in six days.

Most rational thinking people automatically choose “B” because it is easier to understand. Remember the phrase your mother used to tell you when you were a kid? KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid.

Evolutionary scientists stumble all over each other like circus clowns trying to make the concept of creation overly complicated. Let them live in their land of delusions! The enlightened know better.

So let’s return to the subject of dinosaurs. Our evolutionary scientists like to claim that human beings and dinosaurs never walked the earth together. False! How do we know this? The Bible, of course!

“Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron.” (Job 40: 15-18)

What is being described here – the behemoth – is a dinosaur! The word “dragon” is also found in the Old Testament and what is a dragon to the ancients is nothing less than a dinosaur in today’s parlance.

So what happened to these mighty reptiles? Most of them were destroyed when God flooded the earth. Noah saved pairs of animals – dinosaurs among them (I know what you’re thinking – how could dinosaurs fit on the ark? But it’s simple really – Noah took pairs of baby dinosaurs with him).

The flood and the mud that came with it buried the other dinosaurs (this is why we discover their bones as fossils). The survivors from Noah's Ark didn’t fare so well and they died out – probably due to the new conditions of the world after the great flood. Extinction is a fact of life – just ask the Woolly Mammoth and the Dodo Bird!

Oops, you can’t! They’re extinct! Just like the dinosaurs.

Non-believers like to point to dinosaurs as evidence that Creationism is wrong. Now you have the facts to argue against the ridiculous notion that dinosaurs once ruled the planet millions of years ago. You can also tell any non-believers that they’re going to go the route of the dinosaur if they don’t begin to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior.

Maybe if the dinosaurs did so they would be around today.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)

(The Rev. Colson Crosslick is pastor of the Pretty Good Shepherd Church in Ripsaw, Arkansas. In the past, he has called for a boycott of all Barney TV shows and merchandise. He also writes the regularly appearing column Under God's Right Arm for DaRK PaRTY.)

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Get the Led Out

The 9 Best Songs by Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin is the greatest rock n’ roll band of all time. They may not be as influential as the namby-pamby Beatles or as popular as the dinosaurs still stalking the stage and calling themselves the Rolling Stones, but make no bones about it.

Led Zeppelin sits on top of the rock altar.

They had it all – a coolness factor that exceeds both Jim Morrison and Pink Floyd, a heavy-metal, blues-infused sound that has yet to be duplicated, and a rock influence that touches nearly every modern band (from Filter to Pearl Jam). Jimmy Page was one of the best guitarists in rock and who could ever mimic the yowls and vocal range of Robert Plant? And no one could bang drums better than John Bonham or pluck a base like John Paul Jones.

The band has some impressive statistics as well. They’ve sold more than 300 million albums (including more than 110 million in the United States). VH1 ranks them as the best heavy metal band of all time (we’d argue that calling their bluesy, often folksy and funk-induced music “heavy metal” is outrageous). They are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

They also have a damn cool web site. Make sure you have your volume cracked up when you click on the link.

The only sin the band has committed is its stubborn refusal to allow its music catalog to be available online. So you can’t purchase their albums on iTunes or any other music store on the Web. Hopefully, that will change.

Choosing the 9 best songs by Led Zeppelin is a difficult challenge – since you could argue that their 9 worst songs are better than anything topping the charts these days. But we went ahead and tried anyway. Why the number 9? Because they released 8 albums in 10 years – from the self titled debut in 1969 "Through The Out Door" in 1979, but we’re going to include Coda – a collection of B sides and rarities released in 1982 after the death of Bonham in 1980.

That makes 9 albums.

So without further ado – our picks for the 9 Best Songs by Led Zeppelin:

Ramble On (1969)

“Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the
evil one crept up and slipped away with her.”

Yeah, geek alert. The lyrics are inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” Is it any wonder that Plant once admitted he was embarrassed by the Tolkien references? Little did he know that that would be damn cool nearly 30 years later.

The song is actually one of four that reference Tolkien (“Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” “Misty Mountain Hop” and “The Battle of Evermore” are the others). The unique drumming on the song is actually Bonham banging on a plastic bucket.

Dazed and Confused (1968)

This is a cover song originally performed by folk artist Jake Holmes. Many people think it’s about an acid trip gone haywire (probably because Zeppelin’s version sounds like it should be), but, in fact, the song is about a girl. The lyrics are mediocre with the first stanza going like this:

“Been Dazed and Confused for so long it's not true.
Wanted a woman, never bargained for you.
Lots of people talk and few of them know,
soul of a woman was created below.”

Zeppelin never credits Holmes (and Page takes writing credit for the song on Zeppelin’s first album). What makes Zeppelin’s interpretation of the song so good is that Page uses a violin bow on his electric guitar. The result is an eerie, nightmarish sound that makes the song creepy and rocking at the same time. When Zeppelin played the song in concert the middle of it became a monster jam that could last up to 45 minutes.

Nobody’s Fault But Mine (1976)

What is this song about? There are two popular theories:

  1. It’s about Plant’s addiction to drugs
  2. It’s about Led Zeppelin’s deal with the devil

I prefer the latter explanation – because it just adds to the Zeppelin mystique. Regardless, the song rocks (even though it was stolen from American Bluesman Blind Willie Johnson who died in 1945 and wasn’t around to complain about the theft).

The song was a staple of Zeppelin concerts and featured some amazing blues rifts from Page (the original recording is done with a triple-tracked guitar introduction). We also get a dazzling harmonica solo by Plant.

When the Levee Breaks (1970)

This is the best song from the band’s famous Zofo album. In other words it kicks the ass of “Stairway to Heaven.” And (surprise, surprise) it’s another song stolen from long dead bluesmen – this time from duo Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie.

But to Zeppelin’s credit they rework the song considerably and make it their own. It’s about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and the beginning of the song features a booming, thunderous drum beat by Bonham. It was recorded by placing Bonham at the bottom of an empty stairwell.

Plant also has some incredible screeches and screams in this baby.

In My Time of Dying (1974)

Another song ripped-off from Blind Willie Johnson. Poor bastard. It is found on the band’s double album “Physical Graffiti” and holds the distinction of being the longest studio song recorded by Zeppelin (11:06).

Hold on to your ball caps. “In My Time of Dying” is a guitar aficionados dream. Page lets his guitar weep and wail on this one.

Not knowing how to end the song, Plant is heard mumbling “dyin’… dyin’… dyin’” and then someone coughs and Plant ad libs “Cough.” Then you can hear Bonham say: “That’s gonna be the one, hasn’t it?”

The end.

No Quarter (1972)

This song is as lonely and forlorn as a cold wind on a rainy night. For some reason, the song conjures up images from the very spooky short story “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs.

The lyrics drive home the feel:

“Close the door, put out the light.
You know they won't be home tonight.
The snow falls hard and don't you know?
The winds of Thor are blowing cold.”

This song also feels like it could also have been influenced by Tolkien and “Lord of the Rings.” It became the centerpiece of most Zeppelin concerts often accompanied by flashing lights and a fog machine.

In the Light (1975)

Zeppelin never played “In the Light” in concert because the eerie synthesizer introduction played by John Paul Jones could not be replicated in concert. It’s also one of the few songs where Page uses a violin bow on his guitar (this time an acoustic guitar).

To say that “In the Light” is creepy – doesn’t do justice to creepy. If Edgar Allen Poe had been a rock n’ roller – this is the song he would have written. However, many people interpret the song as Zeppelin’s redemption song – that they embrace God and Christianity. Mainly due to lyrics like this:

“And if you feel that you can't go on. And your will's sinkin' low
Just believe and you can't go wrong.
In the light you will find the road. You will find the road.”

But we reject this interpretation because as soon as the song lightens – it then rapidly descends again into gloom and mysticism. “In the Light” feels more like a drug trip than a religious indoctrination.

Kashmir (1975)

In the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” the character Mike Damon tells his buddy Rat that the best way to score with a chick is to play the second side of Zeppelin IV on a date. The movie cuts to Rat and his date in the car with “Kashmir” cracking.

Kashmir” is on the album Physical Graffiti.

The song has a Middle Eastern flair to it and, in fact, Plant wrote the lyrics while driving through the Sahara Desert (why it’s called Kashmir – a mountainous region in India is unknown). But Plant has cited the song as his favorite.

The song was also played at every Zeppelin concert.

In the Evening (1979)

Zeppelin’s last studio album while Bonham was alive, “In Through the Out Door” is the most disjointed and lighter than the typical Zeppelin album. The one exception is “In the Evening,” which was written by Jones.

The ghostly introduction was originally written for the film “Lucifer Rising,” but Zeppelin had a falling out with the movie’s director. “In the Evening” is a straight rocker and the best song on “In Through the Out Door.”

It’s also another song where Page used a violin bow on his guitar.

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