Friday, May 18, 2007

Musing Aloud...

I've often wondered what, if anything, conservatives are in favour of conserving.

Certainly, when it comes to cutting down trees and covering everything with pavement, they're the first ones in line. Yet one clear difference between then and now is surely that then there was more wilderness than there is now.

Similarly, conservatives seem to have little or no regard for our architectural heritage, preferring instead to mow down whole blocks of lovely character homes - which could benefit from conservation - in favour of block after block of soulless apartment buildings. As with our natural environment, the movement to preserve our built environment is spear-headed mainly by lefties.

The only thing conservatives seem to be in favour of conserving is some version of the past (ie: the good old days) that simply never existed. The 1950s, of all decades, is one most right (as in correct) thinking people should wish to see consigned to heaps of memorabilia in museums.

I understand that change brings with it fear, and that some people don't deal well with fear. Conservatism seems to be the worst way of all, because it denies the very real phenomenon that change is inevitable. Rather than accepting that, and growing from it, they seek to suppress and crush it.

The one kind of "growth" conservatives do support is the growth of the economy, and in order to do that it seems increasingly necessary to destroy, whether it's forests or worker's rights or dreams. And as for growing the economy, a willing well-paid workforce is key, and the only such pool of talent remaining appears to be immigrants.

The Bible exhorts all Christians to be "stewards of the Earth"; so how does hating on so-called minorities preserve the planet? Clearcuts cause erosion, not Muslims. Factories and cars cause pollution, not gays and lesbians. As for what causes change, look no further than free will.

I wonder what it'll take to cause conservatives to start conserving things...
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Newsflash: BC Liberals Value Money Over Wildlife

BC's Liberal Government plans to capture the estimated 16 spotted owls remaining in the wild and put them in zoos for purposes of breeding, Environment News Service is reporting.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThis is because the BC government values the destruction of old growth forest over the preservation of either habitat of wildlife stock.

But capturing birds to breed in captivity to then release them back into the wild doesn't seem to be the most reasonable plan when there'll be no more habitat for them to return to. Habitat fragmentation remains unaddressed by government policy, specifically because the Liberals altered the existing policy to disregard it.

The plan has been leaked to the media by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, which is trying to compel the Federal government to use the Species at Risk Act to preserve the owls and their habitat, which should go well. The Tories love wildlife like I love sarcasm.

I wish someone would put the BC Liberal government in captivity, although the thought of them breeding fairly turns my stomach.

[S O U R C E]
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Screened: "The Princess Comes Across" (1936)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhen first we see Carole Lombard in The Princess Comes Across, she is vamping. Hard. "My name iss Princess Olga of Sveeden," she says, staring - nay, glaring - down her nose in the iciest way possibly, sounding for all the world like Great Garbo.

And there's me, in the dark in more ways than one, thinking: "What the F?"

Lombard is a workhorse among comediennes; she keeps up the Garbo shtick throughout most of the first act, so convincingly, in fact, that once the initial shock is worn off you almost start believing her. When finally her ruse is exposed, though, it's a relief; running gags of this nature tend to be a bit tiring for the viewer. Waiting for the other shoe to drop can become stressful, which can erode the whole "comedy" thing.

It is, however, an apt metaphor for the movie as a whole, because nothing (and indeed, no one) in The Princess Comes Across is as they seem.

In addition to the ample surprises to follow (which, for an avid viewer of 30s movies such as myself, well-acquainted with all the formulae inherent therein, is reason enough to watch) there are a handsome leading man (Fred MacMurray) whose lithe frame is fitted out in all manner of yummy suits, a pair of reliable villains (Porter Hall and Douglass Dumbrille), and a veteran character actress (Alison Skipworth), with whom all and sundry may toss around barbs.

There's even an appearance by a future television legend - seen here years before the advent of the device that would bring about his most enduring fame: William Frawley, better known as Fred Mertz of I Love Lucy, is to MacMurray what Skipworth is to Lombard - a cynically wise sidekick.

Naturally, being of its era, the film is stylishly photographed, and though it's set almost entirely onboard a ship the sets are lovely.

The Princess Comes Across is, in many ways, an odd movie, one which doesn't lend itself to a single viewing perhaps. Since it eschews (indeed, thumbs its nose at) convention to a large extent, as well as trying to wring comedy out of murder, it might be uncomfortable for some to watch.

So is it a funny movie with creepy moments, or a thriller with levity? Whether it's both or neither, it is a curiosity nonetheless.
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