Saturday, December 31, 2005

What was wrong with them was...

From 11 to 1:

I didn't like Wedding Crashers because apart from Will Ferrell's uncredited cameo, it wasn't as funny as it thought it was (see also Starsky & Hutch). It was also way too long, way too crude, and imagine if Vince Vaughn raped Isla Fisher's body double instead of vice versa - still laughing? Basically Meet the Parents/Meet the Fockers without the charm and appealing characters; always nice to see Rebecca DeMornay, however. (As opposed to Jane Seymour, but that's another story.)

I didn't like The Interpreter because it took an intriguing premise and buried it under loads of speech-making instead of building suspense, because it was turtle-paced, and because of Nicole Kidman's wandering South African accent. It might have helped if the cue on the soundtrack album titled "Silvia Showers" had actually underscored one of Nicole's ever-welcome nude scenes, but sadly no.

I didn't like Mr. and Mrs. Smith because it didn't do anything that The War of the Roses and True Lies didn't do better, because neither its action nor its comedy worked, and because it was another loser on producer Akiva Goldsman's CV (Cinderella Man notwithstanding). Also, Brad and Angelina leave me cold. Unlike Adam Brody, who really was good.

I didn't like National Treasure because it was dull and stupid from beginning to end, because Nicolas Cage refused to take it seriously for a moment, and because Diane Kruger was just as useless as she was in Troy. Sahara was much more fun.

I didn't like The Amityville Horror because it had more corporate logos than scares. And because, like the original movie, it was shit.

I didn't like xXx: State of the Union because Ice Cube was no action star, because it was just as moronic as the first one, and because it was badly written (by Simon Kinberg, who did Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and directed (by the man who did Die Another Day). And because the truly hot Masuimi Max wasn't credited.

I didn't like White Noise because it was boring and senseless. On to the next.

I didn't like The Brothers Grimm because it pissed away all its potential, because it played like panto writ large, and because there wasn't nearly enough Monica Bellucci.

I didn't like Boogeyman for much the same reasons as White Noise, only more so. At least Blade Trinity had Jessica Biel; this had the wrong 7th Heaven graduate (i.e. almost anyone else).

I didn't like Bewitched because it was a complete bastardization of the much-beloved sitcom, and because it demonstrated again that Nicole Kidman (who, like Will Ferrell and Simon Kinberg, has two entries here) is no good at comedy.

And as for Son of the Mask, just go here because I don't want to go over this one again.

Friday, December 30, 2005

If everyone else can do it...

I posted this on Guardian Unlimited, but I'll leave it here as well. My picks for the ten worst movies I went to see this year:

1. Son Of The Mask
2. Bewitched
3. Boogeyman

4. The Brothers Grimm
5. White Noise
6. xXx: The Next Level (changed from State of the Union for non-US audiences)
7. The Amityville Horror
8. National Treasure
9. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
10. The Interpreter

While it's unfortunate that Nicole Kidman should have two entries, she does spare Rachel McAdams some non-nip-slip-related blushes - Wedding Crashers was No. 11.

Cindylover and MuffinMan's BabeIndex 2005

And without further so-called ado, but with apologies to Hayden Panettiere (sadly ineligible until 2007), Tia Carrere, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Raven-Symone, Brenda Song (I should spend more time watching the Disney Channel - ineligible until next year, anyway), Alyson Michalka (ditto - and like Hayden, ineligible until 2007), and most of the female cast of The L Word, here it is. Some of them, like Cindy and Heather, are perennials, others (like the representatives of Veronica Mars and My Name Is Earl) are newcomers, but all are hot. MuffinMan's are in italics, and I'm too lazy to furnish picture links...

Paula Abdul
Jessica Alba
Sophie Anderton
Devon Aoki
Rosanna Arquette
Drew Barrymore
Mischa Barton
Kim Basinger

Kristen Bell
Monica Bellucci
Halle Berry
Jessica Biel
Rachel Bilson
Alexis Bledel
Edith Bowman
Buffie the Body
Brooke Burke
Erica Campbell
Mariah Carey
Charisma Carpenter
Laetitia Casta
Melinda Clarke
Kelly Clarkson
Holly Marie Combs
Jennifer Connelly
Cindy Crawford
Marcia Cross
Elisha Cuthbert
Rosario Dawson
Emilie de Ravin
Cameron Diaz
Hilary Duff
Kirsten Dunst
Eliza Dushku
Tina Fey
Jennifer Garner
Maggie Grace
Lauren Graham
Vida Guerra
Teri Hatcher
Salma Hayek
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Paris Hilton
Nicky Hilton
Katie Holmes
Kelly Hu
Elizabeth Hurley
Scarlett Johansson
Angelina Jolie
Catherine Zeta Jones
Stacy Keibler
Catherine Keener
Nicole Kidman
Heidi Klum
Keira Knightley
Beyonce Knowles
Diane Lane
Evangeline Lilly
Heather Locklear
Lindsay Lohan
Eva Longoria
Elle Macpherson
Josie Maran
Vanessa Marcil
Rachel McAdams
Rose McGowan
Eva Mendes
Maria Menounos
Kelly Monaco
Julianne Moore
Brittany Murphy
Gwyneth Paltrow
Lucy Pinder
Amy Poehler
Natalie Portman
Monita Rajpal
Amanda Righetti
Rebecca Romijn
Nicole Scherzinger
Maria Sharapova
Nicollette Sheridan
Sarah Silverman
Britney Spears
Gwen Stefani
Charlize Theron
Uma Thurman
Leeann Tweeden
Aisha Tyler
Liv Tyler
Gabrielle Union
Nadine Velazquez
Sofia Vergara
Dita von Teese
Sela Ward
Estella Warren
Naomi Watts
Rachel Weisz
Kate Winslet

What a nice night that would be...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

And onto the final 10...

To add to Cindy Crawford, Jessica Alba, Monica Bellucci, Hilary Duff, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, Nicole Kidman, Laetitia Casta, Britney Spears, Rosanna Arquette, Nicollette Sheridan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Liv Tyler, Shakira, Jessica Biel, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, Lindsay Lohan, Devon Aoki, Monita Rajpal, Erica Campbell, Sophie Anderton, Rihanna, Holly Marie Combs, Alexis Bledel, Brittany Murphy, Beyonce Knowles, Emilie de Ravin, Maggie Grace, Gabrielle Union, Kristen Bell, Maria Sharapova, Kelly Monaco, Vida Guerra, Lucy Pinder, Nicky Hilton, Melinda Clarke, Rachel Bilson and Drew Barrymore...
Edith Bowman. It's the accent.
Mischa Barton. Even if she can't act and is by all accounts a right little madam.
Brooke Burke. If I had known she was up for grabs she'd have come higher.
Buffie the Body. Sadly, Buffie the Face lets her down a bit.
Katie Holmes. Only because MuffinMan bagged Uma Thurman.
Vanessa Marcil. Because while I may have slipped in my Las Vegas watching, it wasn't her fault.
Amanda Righetti. If Trouble can show Summerland, they can show North Shore, right?
Kelly Clarkson. Because I can't fucking believe I forgot her.
Paris Hilton. With apologies to Jen, but better Paris and Nicky than Ashlee and Jessica. You could also, in a pinch, throw in their mother (Kathy, not Tina). But now we're getting gross.
Dita von Teese. Because I can't bring myself to include the likes of Abi Titmuss or Keeley Hazell.

The full alphabetical list to follow....

Sunday, December 25, 2005

She don't know me very well, do she? A Cindylover Christmas continued.

1:00. Open up presents. Swag:

A comfy fleece from Mum.
Fantastic Four on DVD from Zeta.
Thermal socks and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - The Complete Recordings from Sharon.
A multi-region DVD player from my sisters. With the instructions in four languages, none of them English, and no SCART cables (to connect the thing properly, KS), but hey.
Billie Holiday and James Brown CDs from one of my aunts. She's the one who's misguided.

Now all I have to do is wait for The Simpsons and for Jen, and...

A Cindylover Christmas 1.

7:30. Wake up, having been kept up longer than planned by the waiting for Sharon, Zeta and Mum to get back from Auntie Joanie's. And presumably having therefore missed a window to say howdy to Jen. Call Dad and wish him Merry Christmas.

8:00 or thereabouts. Go online. Talk to KS. Have a look at what's on TV (old stuff, yes!).

9:00 or also thereabouts. Have breakfast, made by Mum. Endure slight nagging because she does it out of love.

11:00. Go over to my pad to pick up a few more clothes, and accompany Sharon to her daughter's grave. Hope that the lowlife who keeps defiling said infant's resting place is dealt with...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Some f***ing Yuletide, huh?

On the upside, I can finally do some actual Christmas shopping.

On the downside, Sarah "Scrooge" Woollcott decided, in the latest of many bad worker-relations moves, not to give us a Christmas bonus. Paid us early, but no bonus. And I paid my cable bill through Barclays, only for the fellow at ntl to inform me that I'm not likely to get it back on until it's credited. Which takes about 7 working days. And this is Christmas.

So now I'm back to feeling like shit again. I hate needing money (about £100 would be nice). And I hate not having cable at home (no, I do NOT want to watch Shrek and Doctor Fucking Who actually). And I hate the thought that the only women I'll be with over the holidays are ones related to me. Not that I don't love them, but I need to be with people who I can talk to and relax with.

Anti-depressants, anyone? More reasons to beg for something of an upper variety:
"Fairytale of New York" becoming the first song by Kirsty MacColl (RIP) that I do not want to hear again ever thanks to rampant overplaying.

Irena's insistence on playing the same stuff over and over again.
Almost everyone else sharing her pissant taste in offensively bland crap that really makes you appreciate John Denver.
No snow.

Hope you're happier than I am. I bet you are.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Reasons to be cheerful. For me, not necessarily you.

1. My mum coming over for Christmas.
2. Said mum, with Sharon, being introduced to my co-workers and charming the pants of the lot of them.
3. Mum being the brother of the Premier of Nevis (the island she came from), and thereby trumping my boss's mum, who's a Conservative Councillor.
4. Being informed we're getting paid on Friday the very day I find the cable disconnected, thus enabling me to pay the bill and have it back in time for the next episodes of Lost and Gilmore girls. I can go without it for a couple of days, since a lot of my shows are either off for the period or repeated or both, and the only things on this week I watch are Family Guy and American Dad! on terrestrial.
5. And, of course, also being able to do Christmas shopping.
6. Alba being sexier with piles of clothing on than Denise Richards is in a bikini.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Second Annual Cindys.

But first, two more Vanessas -
The Black Eyed Peas. For reaching a new low with "My Humps," which is ironic considering the video has Stacy at her most attractive.

Okay, now let's try and be positive...
My family. For standing by me.
Seth MacFarlane. For being allowed to resurrect Family Guy and for launching
American Dad!
Jessica Alba.
For reasons no one needs to explain.
The border between Harrow and Brent. For being narrow enough that I can live in Harrow and still not need to get a new doctor.
Cindy Sheehan. For services towards pissing He Who Should Be Impeached Please off.
Rachel McAdams. For making up for Wedding Crashers by being a more convincing heroine than Jodie Foster.
Lukas Kendall and everyone at Film Score Monthly. For keeping it going online. And for the music, especially the U.N.C.L.E. discs.
Hayden Panetierre. For being one sexy little thing, even if she's ineligible for the Cindylover/MuffinMan list until 2007. And even if her last name keeps being misspelled by me.
The UK government. For making same-sex unions legal.
Record buyers. For purchasing more records by Hilary Duff than Lindsay Lohan.
ABC. For cancelling My Wife and Kids. (As opposed to Alias.)
Eva Longoria. For choosing me in that dream I had last night where the cast of Desperate Housewives chose who they wanted to go out with.
The Guardian. For bringing back Doonesbury after so many complaints in the space of a week after its removal.
All my fellow bloggers and friends on and offline. For being there.
Michael Giacchino, Marco Beltrami, John Debney, James Newton Howard, John Ottman, Danny Elfman and John Williams. For the music.
And, of course, all my favourite ladies. Blessings to you all.

And onto the D-listers...

To add to Cindy Crawford, Jessica Alba, Monica Bellucci, Hilary Duff, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, Nicole Kidman, Laetitia Casta, Britney Spears, Rosanna Arquette, Nicollette Sheridan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Liv Tyler, Shakira, Jessica Biel, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, Lindsay Lohan, Devon Aoki, Monita Rajpal, Erica Campbell, Sophie Anderton, Rihanna, Holly Marie Combs, Alexis Bledel, Brittany Murphy, Beyonce Knowles, Emilie de Ravin and Maggie Grace...

Gabrielle Union. See, MuffinMan, I am keeping her. Unlike ABC.
Kristen Bell. The star of the most underrated US import of the year. She should have won Emmy Idol, not Karen and The Donald. Plus she owns up to being tiny, unlike Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Maria Sharapova. No need to explain, surely.
Kelly Monaco. Couldn't the BBC have brought her and Mr. Peterman over for their Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing With The Stars crossover instead of Rachel Hunter? So what if Kelly's less known; she's hotter. And her Playboy spread was far better than Stacy's Mom's was.

Vida Guerra. So much cuter than Buffie The Body.
Lucy Pinder. Would be higher if she didn't seem to fancy herself somewhat. Anyway.
Nicky Hilton. The less conceited, more attractive Hilton sister.
Melinda Clarke. One half of TV's current most ideal mother-daughter combo.
Rachel Bilson. The real main hottie on The O.C.
Drew Barrymore. She can't really be left out.

The other half of TV's current most ideal mother-daughter combo and the aforementioned Buffie will be in the E-list. Who'll join 'em?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Vanessas.

Named in honour of loathsome British TV and radio "personality" Vanessa Feltz, and only because I don't want to keep typing "Oprah." Anyway, this year's go to:
The BBC. Although thankfully Sharon finally broke it off with him over the weekend, he's been such a pain in my ample rear for the past few years that he has to be here. Goodbye and good riddance.

The real BBC. For refusing to give Monk and Medium decent slots, for never shutting up about Doctor Fucking Who, and for its self-congratulation. And for Steve Wright. Still.
Abbey National. For outrageous penalties, and for refusing to register debit card withdrawals the second they're made so I can incur more of the damn things.
NTL. For being crap.The only reason I don't switch to Sky is that it's too much hassle.
Everyone whose fame, 15 minutes or otherwise, is due to reality TV. Except for Kelly Clarkson.
Madonna. For obvious reasons.
The editor of the Sunday People. For that loathsome post-Katrina editorial that I blogged about earlier.
Paris Hilton. For always being on E!, it seems like.
Angelina Jolie. Ditto, plus for the whole Brad Pitt thing (sorry Jen, but I'm very much on Team Aniston). And for Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Akiva Goldsman. For being associated with a whole load of crap for years (Cinderella Man is an exception) and yet still getting gainful employment.
Zoo and Nuts. For robbing me of dignity and brain cells each time I leaf through them. And for going through most of the same models nearly every week.
My new boss. For too many reasons to list.
The Bush administration. See Madonna.
LivingTV. For giving us Most Haunted, America's Next Top Model, Grey's Anatomy and Extreme Makeover up the ying-yang but burning off Veronica Mars weekdays at 6pm. At least they also gave us Charmed.
Kate Moss. For... oh, just go away.
Firefly fans. For being deeply obnoxious in the run-up to and in the aftermath of Serenity. (Did you see the box office returns? You can't stop the signal my ass.)
E4. For inflicting Point Pleasant on us, and for showing the five episodes Fox never aired. And showing them three times. In one night. Each.
Point Pleasant, Revelations and Threshold. Between them those three shows make up my ten worst TV experiences of the year, with Threshold coming last only because I bailed on said crapfest after three showings.
David S. Goyer. For Blade:Trinity (which at least had Jessica Biel's ass) and Threshold. This man must die. Now.

The Cindys to follow. We need something to cheer us up.

Oh, and Ben Affleck's penis. For trying to sabotage Jennifer Garner's career.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Moving onto the C-listers...

To add to Cindy Crawford, Jessica Alba, Monica Bellucci, Hilary Duff, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, Nicole Kidman, Laetitia Casta, Britney Spears, Rosanna Arquette, Nicollette Sheridan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Liv Tyler, Shakira, Jessica Biel, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, Lindsay Lohan and Devon Aoki:

Monita Rajpal. Every man with an interest in women has his favourite anchor. Miss "Those are the headlines, this is CNN Today" is mine.
Erica Campbell. Playboy's Model of the Year, and as they used to bill compact discs, small (except in the chest area) but perfectly formed.
Sophie Anderton. Not seen very often, but always welcome.
Rihanna. Really more of a D-lister, but being almost the only relatively famous female to come from Barbados I'll give her a lift. Plus she's tasty.
Holly Marie Combs. Still my favourite Charmed One.
Alexis Bledel. For Sin City.
Brittany Murphy. Ditto.
Beyonce Knowles. It's been fun.
Emilie de Ravin. The most fanciable of those Lost passengers.
Maggie Grace. The second most fanciable, with apologies to Evangeline Lilly (who will not be on my list because, frankly, I don't like her name).

Lucy Pinder, Kristen Bell and Kelly Monaco will almost certainly be on the D-list. Who'll join them?

Monday, December 05, 2005

21 worrying days until Christmas.

This sucks. Rent is due on the 15th (though actually being paid the 16th on account of it being payday), but unless I get very lucky post-wise or get a lovely bonus from, as Ashurst is called now - or even manage to get paid in advance on account of the last biweekly payday coming while the place is closed, I'm looking at either having one big amount of overdrawing or the nice lady at Borders or HMV or wherever I choose to buy Sharon the complete fourth season of Charmed telling me that the debit card's been declined.
Wish me luck, all of you.

And no, the above is not what I'm really getting the big sister - while I'm pretty sure no one related to me reads this, why go and tell anyone here? Plus the sister doesn't like Charmed. Or Gilmore girls. (And yet she likes I Want To Be A Hilton. Go figure.)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

So if Jen and Rachel are ever in the UK...

This was in today's Observer by Stonewall's Ben Summerskill. I thought about linking, but I decided to let her and the missus (and other enlightened folks) read the whole thing. Still a long way to go, but it's definitely in the right direction. US Government and most of the rest of the world (except, of course, the countries that did it before this one) take note.

For four million gay people in Britain, Christmas comes early this year. From tomorrow, they'll be able to give notice that they intend to register their partnerships at town halls across the country. Then in a fortnight's time, lesbian and gay couples will be exchanging 'I dos' for the first time, not just in register offices but - in happy harmony with the way we live now - in the stately homes of down-at-heel aristocrats and below deck on HMS Belfast, too.
For inhabitants of the Westminster beltway, life for gay people might appear to have changed completely in recent years. Since the summer of 2003, four major gay legislative demands have secured passage through a doggedly gay-sceptic House of Lords. The legislative hurly-burly of the past two years is certainly in stark contrast to the one change - on lesbian and gay adoption - that peers had previously grudgingly conceded since 1997.
Civil partnership itself, for which Stonewall and others campaigned so hard, is transformative. It will offer gay people every single right, and responsibility, invested in marriage. Even the Slaughterhouse Act 1974 has been assiduously amended by owlish civil servants so that a lesbian might bequeath a slaughterhouse licence to her partner.
This time next year gay people will no longer risk resentful families preventing them attending a hospital bedside. And hundreds of thousands of public sector workers will be entitled to leave a survivor pension to their partner, something they've been disgracefully forced to fund in the past without having the opportunity to pass on the benefit.
The Economist acknowledges that civil partnership will be dubbed 'gay marriage'. In practical terms, it will mean 'Elton and David get wed' headlines and Auntie Maureen and Uncle Fred attending their gay nephew's wedding reception.
It will also represent a world-class challenge to the 'hetero-normativity' bemoaned plaintively by sociologists for 30 years. For while Britain's wider population might have disobligingly resisted academic entreaties to challenge their own 'hetero-normativity', they do fully understand that if their cousin, son, auntie or schoolmate wants to have a wedding list at Debenhams and a honeymoon in the Maldives, it makes them pretty much the same as everyone else. Most important of all, introduction of civil partnership gives a message to a generation of young lesbians and gay men, and generations to come, that one day they will be entitled to the same respect and fair treatment as their heterosexual counterparts.
A stark corrective to the idea popular among some liberal intelligentsia that Britain has completely changed for the better as far as 'gay stuff' goes was the killing of Jody Dobrowski on Clapham Common six weeks ago. Too shy and embarrassed even to visit a gay bar, the 24-year-old was kicked to a slow death to reported chants of homophobic abuse.
Campaigners at Stonewall are only too aware that changing the law, tough though it might be, is really just the easy part. Changing the world is tougher still. And if you remain unconvinced that there's still a problem, just visit any school playground in Britain. The insult 'gay' is in common usage, even in primary schools. Lesbian and gay 16-year-olds with good GCSE results are more likely to leave school at 16 than their heterosexual counterparts, compromising their life chances. And confidence that the bullying which causes this will be addressed is scarcely enhanced by the knowledge that Ruth Kelly, cabinet minister in charge of our schools, voted against equality for gay people in the last parliament.
In the media too, lesbians and gay men remain almost invisible. And when they do crop up, as EastEnders demonstrated only last week, it is as lurid stereotypes. The BBC1 soap might have made ground-breaking history almost two decades ago when Colin pecked Barry on the cheek. But sensible Sonia's innocent peck from Naomi last Monday night apparently left Sonia so traumatised that she instantly jumped into bed with her virtually estranged vegetable of a husband. It would warm the cockles of prudish Lord Reith's heart.
He would undoubtedly also take comfort from the noisy opposition to gay equality still coming from some parts of the British establishment. Friday's
Daily Telegraph
duly featured a bitter polemic against civil partnership from 'Why-oh-Why' columnist Ferdinand Mount. Ferdie's principal complaint seemed to be that the Islington Council registrar who will soon host a ceremony between Sir Anthony Sher and his partner is exactly the same one who recently married Ferdie's beloved daughter.
Standing shoulder to shoulder alongside Mr Mount is the
Daily Mail's
Melanie Phillips, one of the trenchant campaigners for 'family values' who seem - distressingly for so many - to have lost the argument. The Office of National Statistics reported recently that it expected the number of unmarried people in Britain to outnumber the married for the first time by 2030.
Not that heterosexuals necessarily make a good advert for marriage. As a tabloid journalist, Melanie might be acquainted with the personal excitements of pop singer Britney Spears. Britney was for years a pin-up of neo-cons worldwide as an exemplar of their beloved abstinence before marriage. Even George Bush cited the singer as a role model for American youth.
Last year the star - who had actually been having intimate relations with fellow popster Justin Timberlake while being feted against her will as a teen-virgin - did demonstrate devotion of a sort to marriage, by getting heroically drunk one night and marrying a casual acquaintance - not Mr Timberlake - in a Las Vegas wedding chapel. Britney demonstrated an equally heroic penitence by getting divorced the next morning.
The columnists may bark, but the caravan of 21st-century Britain moves on. Perhaps one happy outcome of Stonewall's campaign for civil partnership has been the message it's given to a government all too often over-anxious about social reform. The roof has not fallen in, politically or socially. And it won't fall in tomorrow morning either.
For while politicians and so-called faith leaders might fret about an orgiastic decline in traditional values, this weekend, Auntie Maureen and Uncle Fred are cheerily awaiting an entirely unforeseen, and much welcome, postal delivery from their distant relatives. A clutch of wedding invitations.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I told them to call her Tracy...

...but Jennifer Garner and the man I'm surrogate father for insisted that they choose what my child should be called.

Still, take good care of her. :)

How true. How very, very true.

From yesterday's New York Times.

We've seen it before: an embattled president so swathed in his inner circle that he completely loses touch with the public and wanders around among small knots of people who agree with him. There was Lyndon Johnson in the 1960's, Richard Nixon in the 1970's, and George H. W. Bush in the 1990's. Now it's his son's turn.
It has been obvious for months that Americans don't believe the war is going just fine, and they needed to hear that President Bush gets that. They wanted to see that he had learned from his mistakes and adjusted his course, and that he had a measurable and realistic plan for making Iraq safe enough to withdraw United States troops. Americans didn't need to be convinced of Mr. Bush's commitment to his idealized version of the war. They needed to be reassured that he recognized the reality of the war.
Instead, Mr. Bush traveled 32 miles from the White House to the Naval Academy and spoke to yet another of the well-behaved, uniformed audiences that have screened him from the rest of America lately. If you do not happen to be a midshipman, you'd have to have been watching cable news at midmorning on a weekday to catch him.
The address was accompanied by a voluminous handout entitled "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq," which the White House grandly calls the newly declassified version of the plan that has been driving the war. If there was something secret about that plan, we can't figure out what it was. The document, and Mr. Bush's speech, were almost entirely a rehash of the same tired argument that everything's going just fine. Mr. Bush also offered the usual false choice between sticking to his policy and beating a hasty and cowardly retreat.
On the critical question of the progress of the Iraqi military, the president was particularly optimistic, and misleading. He said, for instance, that Iraqi security forces control major areas, including the northern and southern provinces and cities like Najaf. That's true if you believe a nation can be built out of a change of clothing: these forces are based on party and sectarian militias that have controlled many of these same areas since the fall of Saddam Hussein but now wear Iraqi Army uniforms. In other regions, the most powerful Iraqi security forces are rogue militias that refuse to disarm and have on occasion turned their guns against American troops, like Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.
Mr. Bush's vision of the next big step is equally troubling: training Iraqi forces well enough to free American forces for more of the bloody and ineffective search-and-destroy sweeps that accomplish little beyond alienating the populace.
What Americans wanted to hear was a genuine counterinsurgency plan, perhaps like one proposed by Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., a leading writer on military strategy: find the most secure areas with capable Iraqi forces. Embed American trainers with those forces and make the region safe enough to spend money on reconstruction, thus making friends and draining the insurgency. Then slowly expand those zones and withdraw American forces.
Americans have been clamoring for believable goals in Iraq, but Mr. Bush stuck to his notion of staying until "total victory." His strategy document defines that as an Iraq that "has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency"; is "peaceful, united, stable, democratic and secure"; and is a partner in the war on terror, an integral part of the international community, and "an engine for regional economic growth and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region."
That may be the most grandiose set of ambitions for the region since the vision of Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar, who saw the hand writing on the wall. Mr. Bush hates comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. But after watching the president, we couldn't resist reading Richard Nixon's 1969 Vietnamization speech. Substitute the Iraqi constitutional process for the Paris peace talks, and Mr. Bush's ideas about the Iraqi Army are not much different from Nixon's plans - except Nixon admitted the war was going very badly (which was easier for him to do because he didn't start it), and he was very clear about the risks and huge sacrifices ahead.
A president who seems less in touch with reality than Richard Nixon needs to get out more.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cindy Crawford: now that's a woman! (With apologies to Hollywood Tuna...)

...who redeemed themselves for their Alba comments by using the above headline (non-brackets section) when talking about Cindy in Maxim.
And if Earl of Grey is reading this, a) drop dead and b) here are some more images to remind you what a supermodel looks like. Note the lack of resemblance to the egocrazed freak of nature that is Janice Dickinson.

They're from C magazine, which along with Singapore Harper's Bazaar is something I must get hold of. Somehow.
Adrienne Curry and Tyra Banks, meets America's Permanent Top Model.