2009 was another strong year for the movie industry with 29 films crossing the magic $100 million domestic gross barrier so far (and Sherlock Holmes almost certain to make it 30 very soon). 2008 had 29 $100M-plus films total, so it looks as if 2009 will be the best of the decade in that respect - despite being an awful year from an economic perspective.
I personally cannot take credit for the Hollywood windfall this year. The list of 2009 movies that I have seen so far is quite small:
That's it. I actually own copies (*) of several more 2009 films but have not had time to watch them yet. Here is the list of 2009 movies that I still plan on seeing at some point:
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
*Monsters vs. Aliens
*Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
*X Men Origins: Wolverine
*Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
A Christmas Carol (Disney)
*Angels and Demons
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Julie and Julia
Where the Wild Things Are
The Princess and the Frog
Men Who Stare at Goats
Up in the Air
Fantastic Mr. Fox
And revisiting my list of 2008 films that I had seen at the end of last year:
*Kung Fu Panda
*Horton Hears A Who
I can add the following:
*Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
*The Dark Knight
*Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
*Journey to the Center of the Earth
*Hell Boy II: The Golden Army
Burn After Reading
Curious Case of Benjamin Button
*The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
The X-Files: I Want To Believe
And 2008 movies that I still intend to see at some point:
Quantum of Solace
*Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
*Body of Lies
*The Day the Earth Stood Still
*The Tale of Despereaux
*The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything
*Fly Me to the Moon
Some interesting and mostly positive local political developments are currently churning.
My State Rep. Frank Corte Jr. has announced that he will step down and not run for re-election.
This is great news since Corte has been a terrible representative for the district. An ideological rightwinger, Corte's only apparent concern in the Legislature has been to try and strip women of their legal rights to abortion and promote "property rights" as the end-all, penultimate answer to every problem.
Now the bad news is that the 122nd District is so full of wingnutty teabaggers that it is unlikely to elect a good government Democrat. And former County Commissioner and failed Republican congressional candidate Scott Larson has already jumped into the race.
My only hope is that he might not be as bad as Corte. Maybe Larson might even support San Antonio Speaker of the House Joe Strauss rather than serving as a lapdog for paleocon rightwinger Tom Craddick.
Here is hoping that a strong Democrat like former City Councilman Art Hall will jump into the race and give the electorate a legitimate choice this fall.
Another positive development is that two of the looniest rightwingers on the Texas Board of Education have drawn strong primary challengers from the moderate wing of the Republican Party. Ken Mercer, who unfortunately represents my district, is being challenged by local attorney Tim Tuggey.
And Don McLeroy, the ousted former chairman of the board is being challenged by Thomas Ratliff.
Unless a good Democrat comes along soon, I am inclined to throw my support to Tuggey just to get the loathsome Ken Mercer off of the board and away from any position of authority where he could continue to screw up my childrens' educational future.
The Big Zero
Yikes! A net decrease in private sector jobs between 1999 and 2009!?!
Those Republican tax cuts and deregulation sure did a bang-up job on our economy this past decade.
From an economic point of view, I’d suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true.
It was a decade with basically zero job creation. O.K., the headline employment number for December 2009 will be slightly higher than that for December 1999, but only slightly. And private-sector employment has actually declined — the first decade on record in which that happened.
It was a decade with zero economic gains for the typical family. Actually, even at the height of the alleged “Bush boom,” in 2007, median household income adjusted for inflation was lower than it had been in 1999. And you know what happened next.
Yeah, everything went straight down the tube. I cannot stress enough how much this should be blamed sqarely on Republican economic policies. Republicans were in control of the federal government for the majority of the past decade, and even when they weren't, managed to use veto threats, filibusters and other obstructionist measures to keep Republican policies in place and prevent any kind of liberal reforms.
We have had 10 years of tax cuts, deregulation, union-busting, and other forms of Republican economic wonkery in place, all with the promise that it would lift the government boot off the neck of the free enterprise system and allow it to grow and expand and create jobs and economic opportunities, blah, blah, blah...
And instead we got NOTHING. Squat! Nada! No growth. No jobs except for those in the public sector. No increase in standard of living for middle America. We have all fallen behind as a result and are struggling more now than we were 10 years ago.
Now, if we can just manage a few more reforms to slip by the Republicans' filibuster-fueled death grip - like health care reform - then maybe, just maybe, things can start to slowly turn around in 2010 before the ignorant masses send another wave of rightwing, America-hating morons back into office to screw everything up all over again.