Tuesday, June 29, 2004

How to Run a Good Blog

Peoria Pundit has up a list of what he thinks are the 25 most important rules of blogging. It's interesting reading, especially if you are thinking of starting up your own site. Although this post does make me feel a bit guilty, as I've been violating several of these rules (particularly #7, #15, and #20 & #23) as of late.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Going to the movies

Over at Kevin Holtsberry's site, he has up a list of the Top 100 Grossing Movies ever. I saw just about every movie ever made when I was younger, but I have fallen behind the past couple years. That being said, here's my list for your entertainment -- with bold movies being those I saw in the theaters and italicized movies being those I've only seen on the small screen. Kind of an interesting breakdown if you look at it...

1. Titanic (1997) $600,779,824
2. Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431,065,444

5. Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003) $377,019,252
7. Passion of the Christ, The (2004) $370,025,697
8. Jurassic Park (1993) $356,784,000
9. Shrek 2 (2004) $356,211,000
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) $340,478,898
11. Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367

12. Forrest Gump (1994) $329,691,196
13. Lion King, The (1994) $328,423,001

14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $317,557,891
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) $313,837,577
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) $310,675,583
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) $309,125,409
18. Independence Day (1996) $306,124,059

19. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) $305,411,224
20. Sixth Sense, The (1999) $293,501,675
21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) $290,158,751
22. Home Alone (1990) $285,761,243

23. Matrix Reloaded, The (2003) $281,492,479
24. Shrek (2001) $267,652,016
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $261,970,615
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) $260,031,035
27. Jaws (1975) $260,000,000
28. Monsters, Inc. (2001) $255,870,172
29. Batman (1989) $251,188,924
30. Men in Black (1997) $250,147,615
31. Toy Story 2 (1999) $245,823,397

32. Bruce Almighty (2003) $242,589,580
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) $242,374,454

34. Twister (1996) $241,700,000
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) $241,437,427
36. Ghost Busters (1984) $238,600,000
37. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) $234,760,500

38. Cast Away (2000) $233,630,478
39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997) $229,074,524
40. Signs (2002) $227,965,690
41. Rush Hour 2 (2001) $226,138,454
42. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) $219,200,000
43. Ghost (1990) $217,631,306
44. Aladdin (1992) $217,350,219
45. Saving Private Ryan (1998) $216,119,491
46. Mission: Impossible II (2000) $215,397,307
47. X2 (2003) $214,948,780
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) $213,079,163

49. Back to the Future (1985) $210,609,762
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) $205,399,422
51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) $204,843,350

52. Exorcist, The (1973) $204,565,000
53. Mummy Returns, The (2001) $202,007,640
54. Armageddon (1998) $201,573,391
55. Gone with the Wind (1939) $198,655,278
56. Pearl Harbor (2001) $198,539,855

57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) $197,171,806
58. Toy Story (1995) $191,800,000

59. Men in Black II (2002) $190,418,803
60. Gladiator (2000) $187,670,866
61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) $184,925,485
62. Dances with Wolves (1990) $184,208,848
63. Batman Forever (1995) $184,031,112
64. Fugitive, The (1993) $183,875,760

65. Ocean's Eleven (2001) $183,405,771
66. What Women Want (2000) $182,805,123

67. Perfect Storm, The (2000) $182,618,434
68. Liar Liar (1997) $181,395,380
69. Grease (1978) $181,360,000

70. Jurassic Park III (2001) $181,166,115
71. Mission: Impossible (1996) $180,965,237
72. Planet of the Apes (2001) $180,011,740
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) $179,870,271
74. Pretty Woman (1990) $178,406,268
75. Tootsie (1982) $177,200,000
76. Top Gun (1986) $176,781,728

77. There's Something About Mary (1998) $176,483,808
78. Ice Age (2002) $176,387,405
79. Crocodile Dundee (1986) $174,635,000
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) $173,585,516
81. Elf (2003) $173,381,405
82. Air Force One (1997) $172,888,056
83. Rain Man (1988) $172,825,435
84. Apollo 13 (1995) $172,071,312
85. Matrix, The (1999) $171,383,253
86. Beauty and the Beast (1991) $171,301,428
87. Tarzan (1999) $171,085,177
88. Beautiful Mind, A (2001) $170,708,996
89. Chicago (2002) $170,684,505
90. Three Men and a Baby (1987) $167,780,960
91. Meet the Parents (2000) $166,225,040

92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)$165,500,000
93. Hannibal (2001) $165,091,464
94. Catch Me If You Can (2002) $164,435,221
95. Big Daddy (1999) $163,479,795
96. Sound of Music, The (1965) $163,214,286
97. Batman Returns (1992) $162,831,698

98. Bug's Life, A (1998) $162,792,677
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) $161,963,000
100. Waterboy, The (1998) $161,487,252

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Go Cubbies Go

I know I'm running somewhat of a risk by posting this while the game is still underway. However, the game tonight proves St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Bernie Mikalski's point: no one has the Cubs to kick around anymore.
It's time for Cardinals fans to drop the arrogant pose and face up to the truth: you don't have the Cubs to kick around anymore. This is not your father's patsy. You'll need to find another chew toy. You'll need a fresh punch line to finish your Cub jokes. You need to come up with some fresh material instead of constantly referencing 1908.

Read the rest of Michalski's column on why the Cubs deserve respect, from Cardinal fans and all of baseball for that matter.

Updated: So that Cubs went on to lose a heartbreaker that night...it's still true overall.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

And now for some really interesting reading

One thing that I have been meaning to do is read blogs from the Middle East -- those of Iraqis and military troops thereabouts. Liam has made this quite easy with the right-navigation links on his blog, pointing me towards the virtual soapboxes of Iraqis and troops deployed over there. So far, I'm intrigued by most of the sites -- this is my kind of way to get informed about the bulk of what's "really going on" over there.

I have found a couple favorites so far. Iraqi blogs Hammorabi and Nabil's Blog, the outlook of 17 year-old boy in Iraq. It's primarily not political, but fascinating stuff just the same. Line in the Sand offers some great political analysis, with the unique perspective that only someone in the military can have. Stryker Brigade News has up a heartwarming entry about Logan, a 13 year-old Iraqi boy serving as a translator for US troops in Mosul.

Check them out if you have a chance -- you probably won't be sorry.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Technical difficulties

Posting has been and may continue to be sparse for a while. The Illinigirl household is precariously close to being a one computer household at the moment. My Dell Dimension XPS T600, which I affectionately dubbed the "rocket ship" when it arrived in August 1999, seems to be nearing the end of its days. After falling ill early this year, it seemed to go into remission when the husband installed Windows XP on the machine. Installing a new version of Norton Anti-Virus this week though has sent it headfirst into a downward spiral.

To make the long story (somewhat) short, I can't do a darn thing without being faced with the dreaded hourglass. My Internet access is shot, and the service packs aren't installing, even though we have a legit WinXP program. Kind of a messy deal. Then with my husband working from home right now, there's way too much competition for this machine. I'll be around when I can though -- check out all the fabulous links at right in the meantime.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Orange Crush

A storm's a-brewing in Champaign as the University of Illinois is set to make a "compromise recommendation" about Chief Illiniwek's fate tomorrow. The Daily Illini has the scoop. One advocate of retirement, Frances Carroll, and one advocate of retaining the Chief, Marjorie Sodemann, are set to present a compromise resolution on the matter at the Illinois board of Trustees meeting tomorrow.

I don't have a great feeling about this one. Throughout my childhood, Chief Illiniwek symbolized a great deal of what we had to be proud of as Illinois residents: pride in our past, respect for our various cultures, valuing tradition. If I have seen my last Four Three -in-One, I may seriously cry tomorrow. However this article seems to imply that Frances Carroll has backed down from her previous hard-core retirement stance and is supporting "a resolution in the spirit of moving us away from the stalemate and toward a time when we can come back and decide this issue", so I guess we shall see.

In other Illinois news, I did get a kick out of watching Newlyweds season premiere tonight. I was able to relive a bit of this year's March Madness action. Featured front and center was Nich Lachey, practically crying in his beer as the Fighting Illini men's basketball team blew out the Cincinnati Bearcats. Augie and Deron got to be on MTV, what do you know? In another development, Jessica Simpson proved that the person who knows nothing about basketball often ends up winning the March Madness office pool. Her bracket would have destroyed mine!

Updated -- 6/18 because I was way too tired Wednesday night
Spot on

I completely relate to Jonah Goldberg's response in The Corner to a question posted by Andrew Sullivan recently -- ""No president since Johnson has been so supportive of big government as George W. Bush. Why are fiscal conservatives still supporting him?""

The answer is that fiscal conservatives aren't single-issue voters, and I'm kind of astounded that Sullivan thinks they should be. A blog which soared with high-minded rhetoric about how the war on terror is the test for this generation and that Bush was the right man to lead that struggle, now day-after-day tries to whittle away at reasons to support Bush in the fall as if the war on terror were merely another issue which can be trumped by any other issue you happen to feel more passionate about. Maybe "fiscal conservatives" aren't defined by their fiscal conservatism? Or maybe they think this election isn't a choice about a single issue be it the deficit or, say, gay marriage? Maybe the election is about a choice between George W. Bush and the people he would appoint to staff his administration and the judicial branch and John F. Kerry and the people he would appoint and how those respective administrations would govern across a wide array of issues including first and foremost the war on terror? And maybe most conservatives find that a cost-benefit analysis on that question yields a fairly obvious answer. Perhaps conservatives are less afflicted with the identity-politics attitude Andrew seems to be imposing on them?
Gaming survey bleg

A good friend of mine is attempting to finish his masters' thesis at the moment. He's studying different factors that affect an individual's desire to replay video games.

If you are over 18 and happen to play videogames of any sort -- computer or Playstation/Game Cube/XBox -- please consider taking his survey. It's located at http://www.hostedsurvey.com/takesurvey.asp?c=VideoG212554

If you are a blogger visiting my site and think that some of your visitors might take this survey, I'd really appreciate it if you could post a similar appeal on your blog as well. He needs to obtain about 200 responses in the next few weeks, and I thought the blogosphere might be able to help. Thanks!

Monday, June 14, 2004

On the Foxnews.com Redesign

I must admit -- I'm not really a big fan. I know they are trying to stick with the FoxNews branding from TV, but the dark colors everywhere make things difficult to read. Not to mention that the page takes FOREVER to load, especially behind the firewall at work. Some bizarre visual choices have been made. Today I ran across an article there today that was dark red text on a black background. Hello, usability testing? Anyone? Anyone?

Since I've dished out the criticism, I will provide a few accolades. Love the rollover navigation, although I prefer having it with the left navigation as on MSNBC.com. Heck if you want to know how I would like FoxNews.com to look -- just go to MSNBC's site. Now if only MSNBC had the fair and balanced content to go with that sleek package.

In addition, I can't help but chuckle at the Sadaam graphic on the front of FoxNews right now. It looks just like cartoon Sadaam in South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut -- I'm just waiting for Satan to pop in from around the corner.

From the freakin UN

Newflash for those who contend that they only supported the war in Iraq because they were lead to believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. This strikes me as something all the UN-lovers should be buying into.

WorldTribune.com: 'UN inspectors: Saddam shipped out WMD before war and after'

According to the article, these findings were presented to the UN Security Council by the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission sometime last week. Why haven't we heard about it in the mainstream American press? Perhaps because it acknowledges that the Bush administration may well have been correct on this point all along.

Hat tip to Spoons for the link.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Actors for Moore

There are thoughtful liberals I respect out there in public life, there really are. Like say Bono -- I understand his arguments for helping in Africa. Michael J. Fox's arguments for stem cell issues. Various celebrities who take a stand against the death penalty. But I cannot count among the "reasonable liberal celebrities" those who support Michael Moore's incredibly acidic, divisive political commentary/filmmaking.

Actors Martin Sheen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Degeneres, David Duchovny, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Jodie Foster, Drew Barrymore, Chris Rock, Jack Black, Matthew Perry, Diane Lane, Marisa Tomei and Viggo Mortensen all attended the showing at the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences Theater in Los Angeles...

At the screening of the Palme D’Or winning movie, Barrymore enthused, “I never come to premieres, but I’m so here on this one.

“I’m looking forward to this more than anything in the world"...

Actress LeeLee Sobieski admits she cried during the documentary and said it 'should be required for eveyone in America to see as part of their education in high schools.'

If LeeLee Sobieski or anyone else on this list thinks that I am going to be convinced by this man's vitriolic, condescending, fact-twisting filmmaking...then they have another think coming. You are not convincing me that most of these stars are better informed about politics and current events than I am.

So yet again...there's another couple dozen celebrities whose movies I will try my best not to patronize. Sorry condescending actor folks...I'm not buying the argument that just because people can make realistic faces in a movie they are automatically smart, educated, and "know better" than us simple folks in fly-over country as to how the world really works. Chris Rock and Ashton Kutcher? No thanks, I'll stand by my political beliefs. What bothers me about such star-studded political events is that there are people in this country who, while not informed about current events or politics, will value these celebrity endorsements and thoughtlessly buy into such arguments.

Link courtesy of Peoria Pundit, who was expressing his dismay at Drew Barrymore's admiration for said director. Hope Adam Sandler doesn't make more movies with her anytime soon. I suppose this means that 50 First Dates has now been relegated to the list of "only from the public library for a dollar" video rentals.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Why he admires the man

While scheduling difficulties have precluded me from writing a fitting tribute to President Reagan so far this week, a good friend of mine had no such problem. Originally drawn up as an e-mail to Jonah Goldberg in The Corner, I convinced this friend that he should be a guest writer on my blog. So here they are, eloquent thoughts from another member of the Central Illinois chapter of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

There's a lot of writing in remembrance to President Reagan out there right now, I've been thinking why I've regarded him so highly. I mean, I was ten when he took office, what did I know about economics or geopolitics?

From the fourth grade frame of mind, it was scary and well, plain. We were getting pushed around by bullies.

I'd look at a colored map of the world and that big light green blob was huge compared to our pale yellow one. The yellow one, do you think they printed the USA that color on purpose? Because we were scared of the Soviets? They had plenty of jobs. They had a bigger military. They opposed us on every issue. They epitomized their symbol, the bear. Strong, stalking, unstoppable, temperamental.

More bullies, Some creepy old guy in black who looked like Christopher Lee with a beard. Dracula. He took our people and wouldn't let them go. We tried to save them, but our soldiers died, and then we gave up. Our soldiers couldn't beat him. They'd beaten the Japanese, they'd beaten the Germans, but couldn't beat him. Our people looked small and scared, all tied up on the news.

President Reagan took two steps onto the playground and our people came home. Those bullies were cowards, they ran from him. I realized that he stood for us all.

He faced the Soviets, the biggest bullies, the Bear. This was tougher, because they wouldn't run. President Reagan never wavered. Now in the quiet places, away from the chattering, faith in our nation found light and grew again.

I grew older, I understood more. And bullies came at him from the sides and behind. Making fun of him, trying to weaken him, deriding his policies and personally attacking him. I grew furious at Not Necessarily the News. I likened Democrats to the spoiled rich kids who gave out candy, and later the privilege of being associated with them, in order to buy their friends. The political opponents they fielded against the President dripped with insincerity. They failed, miserably, to my relief.

I joined the military that President Reagan rebuilt, before he left office and I was proud. The Soviets had blinked, now they shuffled back, and then they fell flat. He had simply ignored his detractors and his hecklers and at last they dried up and blew away after they were proved wrong. And that's how I learned that simple instinct in courage, patience and faith can win.

I'm saddened that President Reagan didn't realize how great he was in the end, all of the good that he brought, but then he still wouldn't have sat basking in his triumphs, he was humble and above that, as befits a hero.

And now the craven bullies are creeping back, belaboring him again. Tasteless, spineless, rabid little idiots. The old NNTN fury has awakened. They'll be dealt with in November, when I and quiet millions like me will make the difference. We'll simply follow the patient example of a very great man.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1911-2004

I was out-of-town all weekend attending a wedding, so I haven't had much time to write up my reaction to the Gipper's passing until now. Judging by my exhausted state, I doubt I will be able to do justice to my feelings for Ronald Reagan tonight. However, I was fortunate enough to catch Matt Drudge's radio program on my way home last night. In addition to speaking with Peggy Noonan, he played snippets of this incredible speech that Reagan gave in 1984 to a prayer breakfast in Dallas, Texas. It's ever so much more powerful to hear Reagan orate this material, but I offer you a few snippets of this speech until I can put together some fitting commentary.

Today there are those who are fighting to make sure voluntary prayer is not returned to the classrooms. And the frustrating thing for the great majority of Americans who support and understand the special importance of religion in the national life -- the frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom, and openmindedness. Question: Isn't the real truth that they are intolerant of religion? [Applause] They refuse to tolerate its importance in our lives.

If all the children of our country studied together all of the many religions in our country, wouldn't they learn greater tolerance of each other's beliefs? If children prayed together, would they not understand what they have in common, and would this not, indeed, bring them closer, and is this not to be desired? So, I submit to you that those who claim to be fighting for tolerance on this issue may not be tolerant at all.

And later...

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief, to apply moral teaching to public questions.

I submit to you that the tolerant society is open to and encouraging of all religions. And this does not weaken us; it strengthens us, it makes us strong. You know, if we look back through history to all those great civilizations, those great nations that rose up to even world dominance and then deteriorated, declined, and fell, we find they all had one thing in common. One of the significant forerunners of their fall was their turning away from their God or gods.

Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we're mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.

Just some thoughts to ponder. RIP Dutch...you'll be missed by this young lady.