Fargo: Lenny gave me his juice.
It was intended for popsicle making.
Having no "popsicle makers," per se... I sought other uses.
Fargo: First, I poured it into pancake dough for breakfast.
Fargo: I wouldn't call the results so much, "Cherry Pancakes," as I would, "cherry-COLORED pancakes that nonetheless taste like ordinary ones." I wouldn't call it a failure, but rather a successful experiment that yielded negligible results. Like the shuttle program. But for breakfasts.
Fargo: But now, once the box of juice was opened, it was to go bad in three days. The clock was ticking. I owed it to Lenny to somehow freeze and consume the sourcherry juice, as was his intent.
After all, it looks like he procured the stuff in Russia. I can only assume it was smuggled out, presumably via train.
Hellchick: He had to trade 1500 rubles for that stuff!
Fargo: Yet, I lacked any sort of container even RESEMBLING a popsicle shell. Despite having plenty of sticks. Then I noted the wineglasses. My first thought was, "I can't just pour it into a wineglass and freeze it. I'll have a solid chuck of cherry juice and no conceivable way of eating it."
My second thought was that I had spent far too long thinking about this problem -- "wasting too many cycles," as my brother would say. Because I was at an impasse, I filled up two wineglasses with cherry juice and placed them into my freezer. I figured I'd stir them intermittently, develop a slush, and spoon it out delicious spoonful by delicious spoonful.
...but then I forgot about them.
Hellchick: uh Oh.
Fargo: The next morning I had -- as I predicted -- two solid cherry chunks imprisoned in very nice, very thin stemware.
Hellchick: Oh no...
Fargo: But nonetheless I took a fork and scraped off some shavings from one glass and IT WAS REALLY GOOD!
But I obviously couldn't start jabbing a fork in there. So I put one in the fridge, hoping to allow it to melt a little into the venerated slushy state I has originally intended.
...but then I forgot about it, as well.
Fargo: Until today. Fortunately, it had not all melted. It retained a slushy core.
I chopped it up with a spoon and ate a spoonful ... IT WAS FROZEN JOY. I think I'm on to something.
But the rest was melted, so I put that half-wineglass in the freezer and took the full wineglass and put it inot the fridge. Unfortunately, now Crystal is home and demands some sort of explanation. It's a very long story.
But I'm near some sort of breakthrough. I may need to involve the blender -- but I'm close!
Hellchick: You're a mad cherry scientist.
Fargo: I think the solution is in freezing the cherry stuff in an ice cube tray, then dropping it into a blender, pulverizing it, and pouring it into a wineglass.
I prefer ... WILD cherry scientist.
I consider myself to be politically fairly center. Most people will snicker at that, because who is really truly moderate? And the problem with being moderate is that you can never find a political figure that embodies everything you believe in. And whenever you disagree with someone -- and you will, because you're moderate -- you will always be accused of being either a pinko liberal or a Bush-loving neocon. It's a lose-lose situation.
So that said, I went and saw Fahrenheit 9/11 today. I walked in with a bias against Moore from the get-go. From his previous work, I've come to see him as a propagandist. He is to the left, in my mind, what Limbaugh is to the right. The only difference is that the message he's trying to get out these days largely fits my own political beliefs on Bush, his administration, and our foreign policy (which is to say that I think Bush is a dangerous president who absolutely needs to be voted out this November). I dislike Moore's tactics, because I feel that he twists his presentation to elicit a response that might be "right" depending which side of the fence you're on. But when those responses are achieved with slight omissions over several different facts or emotional twists that don't quite tell the whole story, I believe those responses are based on a dishonest foundation, and that's bad.
I've come away from the movie with a whole spectrum of thoughts and feelings, more than I thought I would. I'm surprised at how I feel about it, and surprised that the moments I've read so much about where I thought there was a lot of obivous bias are in fact not as biased as I thought they were, and that some moments that few have highlighted (whether for or against Moore's movie) I felt were really biased.
I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, for the most part. I rolled my eyes a few more times than others have said they did, and I found myself finding much more to like than I thought I would. The middle third had me struggling to maintain interest for reasons I'll get into. The movie mirrored beliefs and feelings I've had about the Bush administration since before I was ever even aware of Moore. I felt it was really powerful in spots, and it was definitely entertaining. And even in enjoying the movie I still stand by my feeling that Moore is a propagandist and that this movie is also propaganda. It just happens to be entertaining and informative propaganda that mirrors my own beliefs and is doing the excellent job of getting information in front of people that should be seen, questioned (on both sides of the issue), and discussed. It's well-filmed, interesting, entertaining, and completely slanted and biased, more than I'm comfortable with, but informative enough that I will continue to enjoy discussing what the film says. I don't feel this was a documentary in the true sense of the word, because it's too biased to fit the traditional sense of the word. I feel it's an informative, entertaining op/ed film.
I wish I'd been able to take notes during the movie because there were specific things about it I know I'm going to forget that I wanted to talk about.
First, the 1.4 billion dollars number. There's been a lot of discussion in numerous articles that say Moore is being deceitful in claiming that the Carlyle group received $1.4 billion dollars from investors, and that you have to know the whole story about the investments. Now I can say that I think Moore used the number in an acceptable way. All he says is this: "when the American people pay you $400,000 a year to do your job, and the Saudis pay you $1.4 billion over a number of years, who are you going to like more?" I think that in saying "$1.4 billion over a number of years" Moore isn't trying to lead the viewer into any erroneous assumptions here. That said, I still think it's good that people are discussing the details involved in this number. All it does is uncover more information that people should know about and discuss. But I now disagree with the articles that claim he used this number in a misleading, deliberately or not, way.
In saying "when Bush was governor of Texas" in regards to the Unocal pipeline, Moore is subtly manipulating the connections in the audience's mind in his favor to create a direct association that is not that direct. It may seem small, but as I've said and as I still believe, done enough times these things add up to a conclusion that was achieved dishonestly.
The movie is at its best when it lets the footage or the people in the footage speak for itself. Even with a healthy dose of "can this sound byte be taken out of context?" when you view it, the way Moore contrasts some of the comments made by the administration with other footage or the reactions of average Americans in situations that come about from those sound bytes, it's good stuff.
Some of my favorite parts of the movie:
The footage of Bush reading in the classroom when he heard about the attack. You can believe that Bush was immobile because he didn't have someone to lead him around, as Moore suggests, or you can believe that the man was in shock, or you can believe that when his eyes are scanning the room and he's nodding his head slightly, he's thinking really hard about what to do next, because his next action is going to be one of the most important damn actions in the modern history of the US and he'd better think really hard about what he's going to do. No matter what your interpretation, it's fairly powerful footage. But I didn't completely buy into Moore's talkover leading me down the path of believing that Bush was a dullard who didn't know how to react until someone told him to. I think it's a combination of all the possible reactions above. In this case, I think people can watch the footage and come to their own conclusion rather than just buy Moore's talkover.
The opening of the movie. I went to see this on the 4th of July with a pretty full theater. During the 9/11 footage there were plenty of sniffles, and it was hard to not be moved by this myself, not just because of the footage and remembering what it was like on that day to watch what happened, but to be in a theater full of others who saw this, too. Seeing this on the big screen with tons of other people...there are times when an emotional scene in a movie will move people, but this was real, and watching it on the screen with all of these other people who were surely remembering it along with me felt really powerful.
The Oregon trooper. Again, Moore let the footage speak for itself here, and it was good stuff. He didn't talk over it and hold my hand and lead me to the conclusion he was trying to elicit from me, as he did during the Bush-classroom footage. I loved it when he said, "no one's sent me a manual on how to catch a terrorist. I'd read it if someone would send me one."
There were other good small bits in the movie I enjoyed. Moore has a knack for entertaining.
Some parts of the movie had me wondering if the audience was laughing appropriately, and I think they weren't because I think Moore was off-target in the way he filmed it vs. the reaction he was going for. The small town of Tappahanock scene. The audience was laughing, but I never once got the sense that they were laughing at the ludicrous idea that the FBI would pin this small area as being a terrorist target. I felt that they were pointing and laughing at the hicks that Moore chose to put on screen. I guess Moore can't control the response here, really, but I felt like he was mis-directing the audience's response here to something that was distracting from the original intent of the scene.
I got another sense of this when he was highlighting the Fresno peace group. "They eat cookies. Sometimes, they have two." The audience seemed to be laughing at the fat rural hicks. But we're not supposed to be laughing at them. The point is to laugh at how stupid it is that the Sheriff's dept. would send someone to infiltrate this group. I felt like there were a few awkward juxtapositions in this movie like that that released the laugh tension before we were supposed to, just in time to actually miss the scene's point, which was unfortunate. It's a small detail, I know.
Now for the main problem I had with the movie...the entire middle third, from the point at which he begins talking about the poor and undereducated being the true victims here, and culminating with the scene of the mother who reads the letter from her dead soldier son.
At this point, Moore swerves wildly -- at least to me -- from a really strong and noble focus on the problem of the rich and powerful controlling the world for fun and profit to highlighting how the war affects the poor. Then this segues into a Vietnam-era-like polemic about how war is bad. Eventually, near the end, the movie comes back around to its original focus of why the Administration needs to be kicked out of office because they're unethical and they're toying with foreign policy on the backs of ignorant citizens for profit.
Near the end of the movie, Moore says something akin to, "The majority of people that sign up for the military are poor and uneducated. They sign up to fight so that we don't have to. And all they ask of us that we only make them risk their lives when it's absolutely necessary."
Obviously, that's a statement that's easy to agree with. But when Moore starts into the segment of the movie devoted to the poor and uneducated signing up for the military, this is where I couldn't help rolling my eyes sometimes. Now, I'm not a heartless bitch; at least, I like to think I'm not.
The problem here is that he makes this statement at the end after he spends a significant amount of time showing us that it is always the poor and undereducated that get the shaft from the military, when all they wanted when they signed up was to go to college. Moore is basically telling us the obvious here, but he does it in such a way that I get the feeling from the film that he expects a medal for removing the ignorance from our eyes. I'm sorry, but ever since there has been a military, it has been the job choice of the poor and undereducated. This isn't exactly new information and has always been fairly obvious to most people. But he spends a huge portion of the movie, the entire third to almost the second half of it, telling us, "war hurts the poor." Well, no kidding. Did we really need that much time spent on it?
Not only that, but did he really need to spend the emotional drama on it? This is where the movie excels at being propaganda, because with this film he is deliberately linking the Iraq war to the plight of the poor common American, and to things like the unscrupulous behavior of Marine recruiters. Recruiters have always been as unscrupulous as car salesman. Back when I was going to join the Army in 1990, before the first Gulf War and during a time of peace in the country, my recruiter was doing everything he possibly could to get me to sign those papers. (It was only after a few months of working with him to get ready physically for basic training that I learned the MOS I was signing up for wasn't guaranteed and nearly everything he told me about the job I could get in the military was a lie, so I stopped the process.) Recruiters acting like this is absolutely nothing new, but Moore creates a connection in this film between Bush, the war, and a deliberate campaign to kill the poor by enlisting them. I find that intellectually dishonest.
You're going to call me a heartless bitch over this, I know. And that's fine. But my opinion on the scene where the mother who's lost her son in Iraq and is reading a letter is just the culmination of this portion of the film where I rolled my eyes. Not at her -- my heart absolutely went out to her -- but at Moore's use of her. And I felt bad, because the audience was sniffling and crying, and all I could think was, "this is a dirty tactic, Moore."
Yes, it's an emotionally moving scene because we're witnessing the personal loss of a child. But in the context of the point he's trying to make with this movie, it seems out of place, because he's having us focus so much on her individual grief for so long. The brief moment where she gets to the portion of her son's letter where he asks what Bush is doing is the key point here, but Moore spends so much time on her grief outside of that moment that it absolutely exceeds the confines of the movie.
His time spent on her says, "war is bad, m'kay?" We know this already. I feel insulted as a viewer that he felt he needed to take the time to preach that to me, as if I didn't already know it.
Now, the moment where she's in front of the White House...that to me was more powerful than the time in her living room. Where she confronts the woman who says this is all staged...my God. talk about a powerful scene. I don't know how she didn't lunge at that woman. I wanted to slap the woman who told her that. And when the mother breaks down emotionally in front of the White House, with its barricades that weren't there before the terrorist attacks, it brings the point Moore is trying to make in this segment of the movie into the sharp focus for a brief moment that I felt was lacking in the earlier scenes with her (although obviously we needed a bit of those scenes to set this up for us).
But in the end, the point that Moore was trying to make here mainly frustrated me more than made me empathize with anything. Because the fact is, there was a terrorist attack that put those barriers there, and there was and is action that needed and needs to be taken, and there were problems with our foreign policy and the administrations action or inaction that caused her son to be sent to Iraq...and instead of coming away with this strong feeling in my heart from this scene that said, "this needs to be stopped!", the feeling I got the sense that Moore wanted me to feel, I felt, "this is so damn complicated, and all I feel is frustrated that there is nothing clear cut that points to her son dying for a good cause." Maybe in the end that's the same thing.
This segued into my second major problem with the movie: the portrayal of the Iraq War as a completely black and white issue: the war is bad and that is that. Before you roll your eyes too much, hear me out.
I'm against the war. I feel that Bush went to war for all the wrong reasons. I feel he misled or outright lied to the country and that there is strong indication that oil and money has played a huge part in this, and I want Bush out for those reasons.
However, Moore's side of the war doesn't even attempt to take into account the atrocities that Saddam committed on his own people. Even within the constraints of his bias, if he'd just even attempted to address that issue at all, I would feel less like this movie was propaganda. Obviously the eradication of Saddam doesn't come close to justifying the war. But I almost get the sense here that Moore would apply this same lens to WWII, because he wants you to believe that war is only ever bad, even when a more powerful country attempts to liberate a country that can't help itself from the clutches of a dictator that gasses his own people. Again, it absolutely doesn't justify the decision process that Bush appeared to use to go to war, but Moore doesn't even address it, as if the issue of Saddam's actions on his people just don't exist when they should at least be discussed. I feel that his film would have been less propagandist if he'd at least addressed the issue.
In the end, I liked the movie and I'm glad that I saw it. Moore pulls some emotional strings here and there to get a gut reaction that is less documentary and more propaganda, but the movie was entertaining and informative, and more importantly, it's getting people to talk about things with this administration that absolutely need to be discussed. All in all, I'm glad to have seen it and just like any form of biased media, I hope people do see it and think about the things that Moore suggests and lays out.