Pre-Christmas Weekend

This Sunday – watched Alvin and the Chipmunks the movie with the siblings, at the Cobble Hill theater. Aww. I did say that I thought it seemed cute, and, although I felt a little silly seeing it, it was cute. I mean, if you’re going to do a live-action movie, you might as well make the Chipmunks as chipmunk-looking as you can go with the CGI (as opposed to how it was done for a long time – a little cartoony and kind of scary to think that they were more kid-like than chipmunk; nonetheless, the official Chipmunk website looks cute). The movie came off well enough.

Jason Lee as Dave Seville, the Chipmunks’ dad/manager, pulled it off decently as the struggling songwriter and reluctant dad; nothing groundbreaking (clearly he did the movie to at least take his own kids to see something of his work; but oh well). “The Christmas Song” as entertaining as ever, and the meaning of Christmas… it is about family, isn’t it? Actor/Comedian David Cross as the vile Ian, music producer, was entertaining in that villain kind of way. Kind of eerie seeing actress Cameron Richardson as Dave Seville’s love interest, because she was the actress who played the scary patient on “House” last season (the pissed-off adrogynous model). But, altogether nice relaxing fun, and the Chipmunk music is as good as ever (ok, actually, I’m still dubious about “The Witch Doctor” song as hip-hop, but so it goes). The Chipmunks are still their amusing selves (Alvin as egotistical as ever; Theodore as sweet as ever; and Simon as the smart one). But, as Dave says, they’re just kids… (kids since 1958, but so it goes).

Sweet movie to take your kids or your inner kid. Just don’t come in expecting too much, or else you’ll start thinking “Why am I not watching the soon-to-be-Oscar-nominated movie in the next theater?”

A look at a Brooklyn landmark: NY Times on Fulton Mall.

City Council approved the plans for Alma Mater. Here’s hoping things will get better. Maybe.

Read one of Joseph J. Ellis’ books on the Founding Fathers in the past; interesting article here he wrote (in the Washington Post) about what would George Washington do about Iraq:

What would George Washington do about Iraq? An op-ed editor (not at The Washington Post, I should add) recently asked me to write an article answering that question, presumably because I had once written a biography of Washington and have just published another book on the founding generation. But, as I tried to explain, Washington would not be able to find Iraq on a map. Nor would he know about weapons of mass destruction, Islamic fundamentalism, Humvees, cellphones, CNN or Saddam Hussein.

The historically correct answer, then, is that Washington would not have a clue. It’s tempting to believe that the political wisdom of our Founding Fathers can travel across the centuries in a time capsule, land among us intact, then release its insights into our atmosphere — and as we breathed in that enriched air, our perspective on Iraq, global warming, immigration and the other hot-button issues of the day would be informed by what we might call “founders’ genius.” (Come to think of it, at least two Supreme Court justices who embrace the literal version of “original intent” believe that this is possible.) But there are no time capsules, except in science fiction. The gap between the founders’ time and ours is non-negotiable, and any direct linkage between them and now is intellectually problematic.

This conclusion is not just irrefutable; it’s also unacceptable to many of us, because it suggests that the past is an eternally lost world that has nothing to teach us. And if history has nothing to teach us, why in heaven’s name should we study it?

One answer, I suppose, is for the sheer satisfaction of understanding those who have preceded us on this earthly trail. In that sense, history, like virtue, really is its own reward. But that answer doesn’t really work for me. [….]

Suppose, then, that we rephrase the question. It is not “What would George Washington do about Iraq?” Rather, it is “How are your own views of Iraq affected by your study of Washington’s experience leading a rebellion against a British military occupation?” The answer on this score is pretty clear. Washington eventually realized — and it took him three years to have this epiphany — that the only way he could lose the Revolutionary War was to try to win it. The British army and navy could win all the major battles, and with a few exceptions they did; but they faced the intractable problem of trying to establish control over a vast continent whose population resented and resisted military occupation. As the old counterinsurgency mantra goes, Washington won by not losing, and the British lost by not winning. Our dilemma in Iraq is analogous to the British dilemma in North America — and is likely to yield the same outcome. [….]

What would Washington do? Well, he did speak of a prospective American empire, though he was thinking primarily of our eventual domination of the North American continent, not the globe. On a few occasions, he seemed to suggest that if we played our cards right in the 19th century, the United States might replace Britain as the dominant power in the 20th. That indeed happened. But would he have endorsed a hegemonic U.S. foreign policy based on military power? Probably not. But that’s my opinion, not necessarily Washington’s.

Queen Elizabeth II is going to go on YouTube to do her annual Christmas speech. I heard that she e-mails; should I be surprised that she’ll go on YouTube?

The planet Mars is extra red and shiny this Christmas. Ooh.