Friday, December 31, 2004


From the NYT:
...the greatest problem facing American cinema isn't that its movies are in thrall to violence or in the grip of the accountants. The problem is that not enough American filmmaiers have anything they need to say...Few are engaged in larger conversations abou t the movies and the world: most don't even seem aware that such conversations exist, which may explain why their films lack urgency. Unlike the directors of "The passion of the Christ" and "Fahrenheit 9/11" and those who make their mark at Cannes these filmmakers aren't on a mission.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Long Term Effects of Urban Riots in the 1960s

Interesting little post by Virginia Postrel. Let me get this straight - it's not good for long term economic growth to riot and burn down buildings and businesses. Who woulda thought?
Regarding Stingy-ness

I don't know much about US stingy-ness in general, from what I've heard, we give the most aid money in the world, but are pretty average when it comes in proportion to our GDP or per capita income or GNP or whatever factor you want to balance...This post by Dan Drezner is quite informative, he seems to be an expert on the subject.

I guess the answer is Yes and No.
Fang Bot

has set off a firestorm of controversy on the blogosphere with her satirical commentary on mall culture and the Chinese who would be invading it. Enjoy!
One Book

For those interested in politics and foreign affairs, etc, and you can only read one book on the matter, I suggest Fareed Zakaria's The Future of Freedom. I'm in the middle right now - this book is rich with historical and contemporary information on the world political situation.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


No one I know has money, but if you want to donate to Amazon's relief effort, the link is here and easy. And it's up past $3.5 million dollars.
Films This Year Update

I went through my head over the course of 2004 and films I've watched recently and tried to recollect the films I've seen. Here is the updated list of: Great, Very Worthwhile, Decent, and Bad. I like those categories.
Criterion Collection

This thing was made for film students. Watched Salesman and George Washington last night and today. Excellent films. Saleman was done by the Masyles Brothers and I found their interview from 1969 talking about the film more interesting than the film itself. That's not taking away from the film, it's a documentary on traveling Bible salesman. Funny and sad...although not as funny as I think it might have been way back then. Their interview, however, was fascinating talking about what they are trying to achieve as filmmakers - this idea of "direct cinema" where they are literally a fly on the wall in these people's lives. It's only the two of them - one with a 16mm camera, the other with a tape recorder. Thesedays, we insist that filming something inherently changes behaviour, and editing tells a selective truth. The Masyles insist that their presense does not MATERIALLY change the truth of the situation and the editing reflects their personal truth of the situation. One of the most interesting things Albert says is that this process becomes true because they believe it to be true. Interesting, eh?

George Washington is by itself an argument for film over digital. I'm a digital-phile...but if you show me a Terrence Mallick film or a film like this George Washington and say "that's what I'm after," fuck yeah, there is no place for digital in that type of movie....yet. And maybe ever. This movie was a dream and I loved watching it, but I will never make a movie like it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Why Do We Need to Defend Ourselves?

All over the news is this accusation that the US is stingy with relief efforts. According to this link, alone has raised over $500,000, more than the entire French Government...

The US government is giving $35 million for relief, the budget of a medium movie.

Even with a natural disaster, somehow the discussion finds its way to a discussion of America's role in the world.

I don't know what to say about this. I feel like the easy thing to say is that we should all give more money...that's always the easy answer, isn't it.
True Dat

This is, of course, the fundamental political debate of our time. It is between those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and try to make the world a better place, and those who offer no alternative but prefer to stand on the sidelines and sneer.

The whole post.
New Camera

Below are some sample pictures from my new digital camera, a Pentax Optio S50. Last night, when I was taking these pictures, I was loving it. But looking at the pictures on the computer at my parent's house, they are a little darker than I expected. Some pictures I took last night are too dark to publish.

One has got to admit it's pretty cool that once you buy a computer and camera, you can shoot and publish pictures for no additional cost.

Clift Posted by Hello

Greg Posted by Hello

Karen Posted by Hello
Another Response, This Time From Kevin

I'll try to make it quick this time - I feel EXACERBATION (I misused condescention - but I agree with Chuck on the point, condescention is fine, even good, if used properly) "greg, greg, greg" and "god, greg," like I'm some sort of odd clam with my ideas. Mutual agreement on certain points and assumptions is the beginning of political main point, which Kevin thinks is trite, is that we MISS this fundamental step - or in many cases, don't take it far enough. Sure, we believe in capitalism, but we also believe in workers rights, in corporate responsibility, and the merits of entrepreneurship.

I've had the money discussion before - and yes, Bush favors tax cuts for wealthier people that I do not happen to agree with. But the last time I had this discussion with people - smart people - they did not know that we already have a progessive income tax in the United States. Income under 30s, you pay 28%; 30-60 you pay 32%; 60-100gs you pay 38%; over 100gs you pay 45%; over 1 million you pay 55%...these are made up numbers, but this is the idea. This type of tax structure, to me, is fair, richer people pay a higher percentage of their income. BUT, most people are not rich and most of the tax revenue in this country comes from the 30-60g range because that's where the most people are....if you want more revenue for the Fed Government, you raise the middle group 1% and it translates to billions of dollars. In contrast, you lower the upper group 1% and you only lose millions. Something to keep in mind when talking about money and taxes...
Lots of Interesting Stuff in the Chronicle Today

Toll lanes
for people who want to drive traffic free. We'd all like it to be free, but obviously that isn't working.

52,000 people! That's double the estimates I read yesterday.

Freedom of Expression versus offending a religion. Britain caves to a religious mob. Salmon Rusdie comments. Money quotes:

"We are not against freedom of speech, but there's no right to offend." Actually, there is.

"Maybe 5,000 people would have seen this play over the run. Are you going to upset 600,000 Sikhs in Britain and maybe 20 million outside the U.K. for that?" he said. "Religion is a very sensitive issue and you should be extremely careful."

Well, I think that's precisely the point.
Tired, boring, mildly funny. I heard an NPR interview the other day with the guy who wrote the lemony snickett books. It was from a few years ago and he bemoaned the fact that if they ever tried to make his books into a movie they'd probably cast jim carrey. Well, that's what they did. It's the same Jim Carrey schtick. (haven't we seen him do that dinosaur sound enough??) Tired!

2)THE WOODSMAN - didn't get to stay for the final 30 minutes, but it's a good movie. About a pedophiliac. The first hour is spent making the audience empahtize for this man (kevin bacon). We don't see what he did, we only see him struggling to fit in - and having problems. Mos Def is an exceelent actor. I'd like to know the story of the making of the film as i believe it has a fairly "independent" history.

3)THE LIFE AQUATIC - Triumph!!. I liked it more than Rushmore. Loved watching it. Full of non sequitors, which i love. There's a story, which gets lost (in a good way) because each of the characters is so entertaining. The look and feel of the thing really complimented the story.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Office

Holy Shit! I stayed up super late last night and woke up super early this morning and watched the whole goddamn DVD set. Fricking hilarious. It was shot on DV, documentary style, it's a mock documentary of office life in slough, england. The lead character is soooooo painfully awkward to watch, adjusting his tie, in this nervous, desparate need for acceptence. More painful than even Larry David. Genuis. Deeply sad, especially the Tim character...the most humane of the bunch, the one we identify with. You see in moments his confidence and swagger spiraling downward as he tries to be happy in a dead end shit situation. The romantic angle between him and Dawn is one of the most sadly realistic portrayals of romance I've seen for the under 30 set.

I see the preview for new Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid, Scarlet Johannson movie about young folks and romance and I can tell it's going to be so cheesy and awful and typical Hollywood. He falls in love with her at first sight, she is taken, he is preoccupied with his new job, she turns out to be his co-workers daughter, she likes him because he's different than her other beau, he tries for the romance and it doesn't work for some reason, he spirals downward, she discovers something bad about her current boyfriend and realizes that Topher is a good guy, Topher gets his shit together, they fall in love. Grand.

The whole romantic comedy genre has become super annoying to me because all it fulfils is our notions of romance shaped by previous romantic's a fricking racket. It's like the dentist who gave me braces when I was cost money to spread my teeth out. Then, I'm older and I learn I need gum surgery because my teeth are too spread out. I'm sure when I'm even older, I'm going to need jaw surgery or something because my gums are too large, or some bullshit. Self-fulfilling racket. That's what typical romantic movies are.

Also saw Closer - Clive Owen is a badass. I've got two favorite supporting actors this year - Clive and Thomas Haydon Church from Sideways. Julia Roberts sucks ass. Natalie finally did something different in the first 1/3 of the movie, then resorted back to her old ways of playing a giggling 13 year old. But I appreciated her adjustment. Jude Law gets out-acted by Clive Owen and sucks more and more to me.

Closer is honest and brutal. The middle 1/3 of the film is by far the strongest...the ending, I found, quite lame and unsatisfying.

Cindy drunkenly disputes that Republicans and Democrats have different agendas and I think she has a point. "Agendas" is such a nasty word, though. Maybe I'm a bit off to suggest that Repubs and Dems merely have different strategies for achieving the same goals. I think they can also have different priorities in addition to different strategies.

But I think what gets lost in the way Cindy and the rest of the country views the Republican, Democrat difference is that I think we agree much more than we disagree, yet we allow the political elite to goad us into thinking we are in a culture war, or that our differences are so fundamental there is no reconciling or compromising. This, I think, is the biggest mistake we can make when thinking about political issues. It's all about where we start. Example:

1. Terrorism - We all agree it's a problem. The question is: how do we solve? Dems say, kick Al Queda's ass wherever they are. Repubs say, kick Al Queda's ass wherever they are, but let's also set up a model for democracy in Iraq, so we don't go about creating more Al Queda. Dems say, uhhhhh...we think there are problems with creating a model in Iraq, namely, that the rest of the world will think we're going in for oil and it will raise resentment, etc. And this debate can go on and on. Problem is, we usually start with: War in Iraq - Repubs think we should kick ass, Dems think we shouldn't be there...and then we're at an impasse.

2. Education - We should have better schools. Dems say, let's fund public education more, hold teachers accountable, improve testing standards, etc. Repubs say, we don't need more funding, we need better structure. We need to create competition amongst schools to increase incentives for improvements. ETC.

Cindy suggests that Republicans are more individual oriented and Dems more collectivist. I don't think this is true on a couple of levels. One, data does not suggest it to be was Reagan's idea that to get government smaller and leaner, it needed to be starved and he did so by cutting taxes, ie giving the individual money back versus leaving it to the government to spend. But that leaner government wasn't fully realized until Bill Clinton - who basically bought into Reagan's economic principals. Further, Bill Clinton advocated extending job training and welfare reform not because he believed in a collectivist agenda, but rather, because he thought it was better for individuals - both those who were being trained to enter the workforce AND for the rest of us, who were paying for welfare and training - because it would get more people off welfare and cause less crime and be cheaper in the long run. He did not appeal to the idea of a greater whole, but to the American idea (not Repub or Dem) that what is good for the individual is good for the whole.

Secondly, people, for the most part, don't think about these issues philosophically. People don't become Republicans because they believe in a more individualist versus collectivist agendas. They become Republicans mainly because their parents were Republicans, but then also because of "moral" see: Christian values, or tax benefits, or National Defense strategy. Dems are so because their parents were dems, or they believe the rich should be taxed more than them, or because of the legacy of the Civil Rights movement they view Dems as being the party of extending liberty, and so forth.

All right, Chuck and Cindy have both complained my posts are too long, and then I've done it again.

Sunday, December 26, 2004


As a testament to my laziness, I finally fixed my watch that hasn't worked for over a month - it merely needed a battery. But in doing so, I was forced to the mall - and found myself neck deep in consumer pleasure - those returning their xmas gifts for credit and huge sales. I looked around a little bit and found myself judging stores and brands. I am hostile towards several brands - Polo is the number one right now. I hate Polo and their shirts - overpriced, shitty colors, poorly tailored, and poorly made. I hate how the short arms taper. For a few dollars more, one can purchase shirts with far superior quality - my personal favorite is Faconnable, but I also like Le Tigre and LaCoste for their colors.

I also find myself particularly hating Bananna Republic. To me, this store represents corporate complacency. It is nice enough to look "nice" and professional and expensive, but underneath, it feels oddly desparate - that feeling of trying really hard to be or maintain your status as upper middle class. It costs enough to be respectful - but respectful of what? It is the wardrobe of middle managers in sad professions whose ultimate goal is to own a house in a rich suburbs. Fuck that shit.

I also am oddly attracted to other brands. I like Lucky these days, although I am reluctant to buy anything in their store because I feel like I could get the same thing at an army surplus place for like 1/4 of the price. But I like the style. Levi's are my pants of choice. French Connection, for being somewhat similar to Bananna Republic, is maybe my favorite store. Whoever is behind FCUK had me in mind, because for some reason, the clothes always fit me well - something about my body type doesn't go well with normal men's clothes. I'm too skinny, basically, and don't fill things out well. But FCUK shit always fits me perfectly and has this cool, Euro-soccery thing going, which I'm a sucka for. Kenneth Cole is an old standby, but I rarely buy any stuff from them anymore, even shoes. I actually have a slight affection for GAP - most of their stuff is crap, but every once in awhile GAP busts out some quality item that is a good value....I think that is what I appreciate about GAP - it is a good value, usually even more durable than Bananna.

But the newest brand which I'm falling for is Macintosh. Every time I pass a Mac store, I go in, and sit in front of the dual processer G5 with a 30 inch HD screen and drool over Final Cut Pro. The new IMAC is pretty sweet, too - you could, for 2 G's get a computer with 160 GB of memory, with Final Cut Express, 20 inch screen and a G5 processor. Pretty fucking cool.
Against All Enemies

My mom has piles of unread books on her desk that she obsessively buys - I like perusing them because they are invariably the "hot" non-fiction books - Zakaria's The Future of Freedom, the Master of the Senate, etc...I found Dick Clarke (not new years eve dick clarke, but Richard Clarke, the career civil servant who worked for the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush II White House) and decided to read it as a brief hiatus from Lonesome Dove. He rails against the Bush adminstration for it's neglect of Al Queda prior to 9/11 and the misguided Iraq invasion. I found two things particularly annoying about his book. First, like most civil servants turned authors, he comes across like a know-it-all with the attitude had they only listened to me all of this would have been averted or at least had a better chance of being averted...he wanted to destroy the Republican Guard after Gulf War I. He wanted to eliminate Al Queda after the embassy bombings, he wanted to crush the Taliban on September 12th, he wanted to use the predator spy plane to kill Al Queda and the terrorist camps in Afghanistan before 9/11, and he wanted to beef up domestic security prior to 9/11. He never comes right out and says it, but implies had everyone just listened to him, we might have avoided the whole 9/11 and aftermath altogether. Too bad none of these decisions were his to make.

He thinks the Iraq invasion is hugely misguided. Like many others against the war he points to two facts: An Iraq and Al Queda link was never established and there were no WMD whereas there are in Pakistan and Iran. These were two factors in the Iraq invasion - but NOT the deciding or principal factors to many who supported the war. Never once in this entire book does he discuss the possible merits of a democratic Iraq - the country in the region with the highest level of education, with the best possibility of becoming a democratic model for the region. He discusses the need to win the ideological war, but offers no policies that would do that. Give more money to moderate voices in the Middle East. Yeah, like that's ever worked...He does not discuss what elections in Iraq and now in Palestine will do - what type of debate it has sparked, what type of model it poses for the rest of the region. He negates the elections as democracy at the tip of an America bayonnet - but does not discuss why this type of democracy is worse than say, a secular Fascist Baathist state who willfully scorns the rest of the world and the ramications of such behavior to other with similar attitudes.

But enough of the criticism. This book was a page-turner - I read in like three days or something. And there were some VERY interesting facts that despite having read all about it, I had not heard before.

1. Terry Nichols, the Oklahoma City bomb-maker had spend time in the Philippines - specifically in the city of Cebu. Is has been verified that he was there on the same couple of days as Ramsi Yousef and one of his partners in the first World Trade Center bombing prior to Oklahoma City, but after the first World Trade Center bombing in '93. Yousef is the cousin of Khalid Sheik Mohammed - KSM, the number 3 man in Al Queda, the one who came up with the 9/11 attacks who has subsequently been caught in Pakistan. He is the highest Al Queda guy we have caught. Yousef also was suspected of being an Iraqi intelligence agent and had an Iraqi passport when he bombed the World Trade Center in '93. This, coupled with Mohammed Atta's mysterious Prague meeting are the principal reasons some think Iraq may have been a partner in 9/11. It has NEVER been proven that Yousef was an Iraqi agent - it has been proven, however, that this was the first attack by Al Queda - before we even knew the name of Al Queda.

In any case, Nichols, we know had been trying to build a bomb prior to Oklahoma City but had not been successful. After he came back from the Philippines he was able to build a workable bomb.

No connection has ever been made between Nichols and Yousef - no contact ever established, no record of them ever crossing paths. But the mere fact that both men were in the same small city of Cebu in the Phillipines (both far away from either of their homes) on the same day and both men successfully bombed symbolic targets of the US government is an odd little fact in this era of terrorism.

2. The CIA. Clarke rails against the CIA for being too concerned with their own careers and catastrophes that could occur if they went after Bin Laden prior to 9/11. The CIA had been scorned both by Congress and the public for it's role in the Cold War, trying to assassinate unfriendly leaders in Latin America - Castro, Che, etc. Post Cold War, the CIA took the blame for these "un-American" activities long after the Presidents who ordered such tactics were gone from office. The CIA has been accused of (and probably guilty of), among other things, introducing crack cocaine to the inner city, trying to assassinate foreign leaders, participating in shady arms deals (Iran Contra) and so forth. The American public, ashamed of the dirty work the CIA performed, essentially cut off their balls - calling for a more "humane" spy service. Instead of hard nosed cold war badasses - we got bureacrats who acted safely, trying to not to cause too much trouble, and definately trying not to get their hands dirty. They wanted pensions and to feel like upstanding moral citizens of the world. Sadly, this did not protect Americans. Spying is a dirty, dirty business, done by dirty, oftentimes bad people. We can blame the CIA for failing to protect us prior to 9/11 - but the American public, I think, deserves some of the blame ourselves - for being too hunky-dory about the world...for being too morally relativistic, thinking that we don't have enemies, but misunderstood friends. Not true. We had and have enemies that need to be killed before they kill us. They are not misunderstood nor do they deserve a fair trial. What they deserve is not relevant. It is an issue of survival - how many of us get killed versus what it will cost us to get them to stop. After the Cold War and the ass-kicking-coalition that was Gulf War I, we thought ourselves above having enemies. We were wrong.

It looks like snow tomorrow, so Tuesday might be a good day for hitting up Tahoe. Excellent.
I Love Football, But...

The average life expectancy for pro football players is something like 20 years under the average for the rest of American men. Reggie White, a great pass rusher, died yesterday - at 43. The mixture of taking a beating every Sunday (I heard getting tackled in the NFL is the equivalent of running into a brick wall at 25 mph) and the widespread use of steriods - look at the size of many of these men, spell shorter lives.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


Oh yeah, this issue of political diversity is a major one facing universities and our country in general. We talk of diversity only in terms of race and gender, which is all good and fine, but a rather narrow view. We miss class diversity, which I think is a much bigger factor in the way one views the world. Also, political diversity is without a doubt, missing from universities - mostly, I think, because the right and left see themselves as espousing the truth and justice, whereas what they really are expressing are different strategies to achieve similar values - fairness, equality of opportunity, health and welfare to a maximum number of citizens, education for all children, safety, etc.

What I find particularly interesting recently is the idea that diversity has an intrinsic value or has academic value. Nearly all colleges nowadays subscribe to the idea of diversity as a desired goal up there with academic achievement. But why is this? Are we correcting past wrongs, ie discrimination from the past? If so, how does admitting children into colleges correct past wrongs? Is it enough?

Or, are we expanding equality of opportunity to those children with less advantage? Does race reflect opportunity moreso than other factors, such as class? How do you measure class - income or wealth? How do you measure race? Why is a 1/8 black and 7/8 white considered black?

Or, do we like brochures to have lots of different colors like a Benneton advertisement? Is it a marketing strategy?

Has anyone demonstrated a higher level of academic discourse resulting from "diversity"? Or do we simply want to believe it because we like neopolitian ice cream sandwiches...Chinese food, rap music, and hot Latina chicks?
Hello Greg and All, merry christmas and shit. I am chuck.

I got a great gift, a subscription to Variety! Will this do me any good? Should I get daily or weekly. Every year I get myself a few magazine subscriptions - Atlantic, New Yorker and I usually end up reading them hardly at all. Will Variety be different? It's a hell of a lot more money.

I report - Paris has the most beautiful women in the world. Have you seen what the French eat? How are they all so skinny. The answer - the smoke like chimneys. It's disgusting.

If Democrats outnumber Rebpulicans 7 to 1 in the academic humanitites (professors and the like) are students getting a truly liberal (meaning broad and expansive) education? Hard to imagine a Republican poetry teacher.

But, if these universities, so intent on diversity (racial, sexual, etc,) fail to have diversity of political view aren't they missing a big block of thought? I mean, there are a hell of a lot more Republicans in the US then blacks, hispanics and gays combined, but the universities aren't very intent on evening out that diversity disparity.
Merry Xmas

I ditched Church last night and sat around and read while my family made excuses to the pastor for me...

I got some cool gifts - the office dvds, a digital camera, some cool clothes. I gave few cool gifts, this nice scarf and some cool sisters all pitched in for a Kate Spade purse for my mom, which I kind of feel stupid about getting cause it cost so much for a pink purse - I wonder if she'll ever use it.

Anyhows, today doesn't feel like a good day for polemical blogging...I'm going to watch Shaq crush Kobe.


PS: Kevin and Cindy are blogging up storms...Jared wrote a little something something also. I hope the locals will keep it up.

Here's a good one: Crab Canapes

1 jar pasteurized process sharp cheese spread
1 teaspoon worcestershire
1 tablespoon butter or margerine
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
dash garlic powder
1 cup fresh crab meat
1 egg yolk
42 squares of bread, 2 inches across

Combine the cheese spread, worcestershire, butter, onion powder, and garlic powder: stir over low heat until melted and blended. Remove from heat and add crab and egg yolk. Mix until well blended. Arrange the bread and toast on one side. Flip and add the spread, toast the top side. Sprinkle with paprika.

I make this nearly every year for appetizers on Xmas - they're the best.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Screenply Competitions

Supposedly these are the best ones for writers.
One of Best Things About Winter Break

Is that I actually get to sit down and read for significant chunks of time. It is something I don't get much of during the hectic season of making films...something is sorely missing from our MFA education that we are not forced to read more. I do the bare minimum on my own, I think, but I suspect large numbers of film student rarely read anything of any significance. In fact, I bet more technical literature about fancy cameras and/or the daily bullshit of Hollywood is read more than good literature or academic developments. Are we in trade school?

Anyway, enough pretention for the afternoon, I've been reading Lonesome Dove. Ever since reading From Here to Eternity, the only novels I want to read are this massive male melodramas. Is that weird? But I love it. Completely. The characters are amazing, Gus, this boisterous, competant lazy fellow and his partner, Call, a quiet, keep to himself, man, a work-aholic. All good characters you see in yourself and I see myself in both Gus and Call in different circumstances with different people. And Loreta, the whore whom everyone loves...McMurtry has this fascinating conception of the simple woman who attracts without her consent the love and affections of endless men.

It's one of those books, you read 10 pages from any section and I think it'll hook you. Part of me is like, too bad it's 900 pages - the other part of me wishes it would on even longer.

Sample, from the beginning:

Call had no respect whatsoever for snakes, or for anyone who stood aside for snakes. He treated rattlers like gnats, disposing of them with one stroke of whatever too he had in hand. "A man that slows for snakes might as well walk," he often said, a statement that made about as much sense to an educated man as most of the things Call said.

Augustus held to a more leisurely philosophy. He believed in giving creatures a little time to think, so he stood in the sun a few minutes until the rattler calmed down and crawled into a hole.

Could this be a perscription for liberals versus conservative values, strategies, philosophies...if it is, or even close, it makes me think - these guys are best of friends and partners. But in our current political climate, conservatives and liberals aren't friends and aren't partners, but view themselves an enemies. Shouldn't we be closest with each other - using each other as sounding boards and testing our theories and strategies against one another, under the assumption we are cut from the same cloth...rather than assuming we are so different?

PS - I didn't intend all of that, it just came out of trying to find a cool quote from the book.
Bequething Online Stuff

Well, I must say, this poses some interesting questions. I don't think I'd want my parents rummaging through my emails - something about that is rather creepy. Although, I also know losing a loved one is rough and just re-reading their letters can bring back vivid memories...My blog is being donated to science.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Honda Ad

So it's a honda ad, but pretty damn cool.
For More Traffic

I haven't done this, but blog explosion is supposed to help market your blog so people will come and check it out.
More Blogs!

Under of local interest, Kevin Thompson has started a blog called Arbiter Bibendi...which of course, I have no idea what to make of. It looks to be all "literary" and stuff, with poems and other fruitiness. Excellent.

Life of Brian will mostly be a photo blog by Brian, an avid nature photographer with a keen eye. Should be excellent as well.
Christmas Shopping

I did it all in one day...but a messy day it was. Parking lines, traffic, lines in the stores. I read that retail sales were uber low this year. It made me wonder: why, then, are the lines in stores just as long? Shouldn't the lines be shorter if there are fewer people shopping?

The answer is both simple and complex - retailers have decided the way to compete with online shopping is to offer competitive pricing and the ability to see your purchase before it arrives. To offer the competitive pricing, they are hiring less employees to help out.

One reason people will purchase online is price, but another reason is efficiency. It is much quicker to order from a computer and get a package in the mail than it is to get in your car, drive to the store, buy an item, and bring it home. If you can spare the time waiting for the item to arrive in the mail, you save time spent finding and locating the item.

Soon it will become habit and will become affordable to purchase items online and return them easily if they do not work...the Netflix model, but applied to retail instead of video rentals. You need no more evidence than the vast expansion of's product offerings and the dual facts that retail is down, internet purchasing is up, to validate this hypothesis.

If retail expects to survive, they are going to need to figure out a way to compete by offering something online purchasing cannot. One route is to offer service - good , helpful service, like Nordstroms. Another angle would be expertise - retailers might want to get out of the mindset of being salesmen and act more like consultants...offering objective advice about fashion, style...kind of like a barber or hair stylist. Another option is to make shopping enjoyable. I think Mac stores are awfully fun to visit for all the gadgets and cool stuff. Or nice deli's that offer cheese samples that often encourage people to purchase cheese. It is down this road that retail must go to compete with online shopping. I look forward to it...competition makes things better - Blockbuster got rid of late fees thanks to Netflix. Soon, maybe shopping will become fun for me - although I doubt it.
Good Stuff on Powerline

Here's a quote. Emphasis on the last sentance.

Red-state America - inland, suburban and working-class - represents the future of the US, not the expensive, class-stratified coastal cities like New York, Boston and San Francisco. Conservatives, a minority among American voters, have managed to put together a majority coalition because they have learned to speak the populist language of the vast region between the Appalachians and the Rockies. Liberals can do so as well - but only if they stop sneering at the people they aspire to lead.

I got into it again with my sister today on the way home from Dim Sum...she asked me in a condescending tone: Who did you vote for?

Simply because I'm not a Bush-basher or Bush hater, she thinks me immediately suspect of being, gasp, a conservative or worse, a Republican. I told her: I voted for Kerry, but I don't hate Bush and I think the Democrats are idiots because they can't get it out of their head that Bush isn't the problem with the world. The reason the Dems lost is because they cannot articulate a strategy on how to deal with Islamic Fascism - that their only strategy is saying, "Bush is doing it wrong."

My mom chirps in: Iraq is going to be just like Vietnam...

I respond: Ok, you two brainiacs - offer up one good suggestion about how we make the Middle East more friendly.

My sister: Well, Bush certainly isn't helping...

Me: That's my point! You can't think outside of what Bush is doing - just make one decent suggestion...

Sister: We shouldn't be so one sided on Israel.

Fair enough.

This is unbelievable...I've already started planning for a festivus party next year.

Life imitating art imitating life imitating art...check out This is a new direction for entertainment, one that me likey a lot.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

While Shopping

I came across David Thompson's film encyclopedia organized by individual person and his writings about their contribution to film. Stunning book. I've been looking for someone who can expand my understanding of film through writing - the critics I read for the most part, suck, except now and again the New Yorker or NY Times have decent writing...but this guy is different, both funny and really, really smart. I'd add it to my christmas list, but my family made it clear that I'm not getting anything I add at this point. He's from SF, too.
Good Stuff...

over at a pretentious top 10 movie list and commentary about the different perceptions of Islamic Fundamentalism between Europe and the US. This is the same debate I've been having with my anti-war friends (nearly all my friends, by the way). They view 9/11 like the Europeans, as a "lucky shot," a one time catastrophe that the terrorists slipped past us. My friend over brunch the other day said to me: "We had all the resources lined up to stop the attack, it was just neglected by the Bush administration." Riiiight. My other friend suggested that all the stars aligned perfectly for Bin Laden and he got extraordinarily lucky. Maybe so.

But clearly most Americans, myself included, view 9/11 as both as a lucky shot and the evidence, right in our face of a new global threat - Islamic Fascism - a threat that has been building over the years and will continue to grow unless the freedom-loving nations of the world group together to stop it. Europeans think of Al Queda in the league of the IRA. American's think of Al Queda in the league of the Nazis. Honestly, they're somewhere in between...

One bone of contention I have with the liberal argument that we had all the resources to stop 9/11, it's just our fault we didn't, is that it is always coupled with the conclusion that Iraq is creating more terrorists. These two items seem to me completely separate. Even if we could have stopped 9/11, I think the point is that there are large groups of Muslims interested in attacking the US whenever they can because of our perceived support of dictatorships in the Middle East. Going into Iraq is an attempt to reform the Middle East and hence reform the intentions of the average joe Arab, who, once having a whiff of freedom, would think more about opening his own wig store before becoming a suicide bomber. The only common link I see between the two of them is an anti-Republican, anti-Bush position...which is why I don't think it's been convincing. The liberal democrats I know are still stuck in the mindset that Bush is untrustworthy and therefore all of his policies are suspect. If they started with the policy and then evualated it's pluses and minuses fairly, they might come to the same conclusion: that Bush is untrustworthy, but it would be for the right reasons, not the wrong reasons. I suppose they could also come to the conclusion that Bush is trustworthy - but, gasp, that is impossible to conceive...of course, that's the risk of rational thinking, I suppose.
I've Been Avoiding It

But the time has come to go Christmas shopping. I read in the newspaper that shopping was super low this year, that retailers were suffering. Now, I'm not an anti-capitalist nor do I hope for recession or anything like that, but I must say, I sniggered at the fact that people were doing less shopping - GOOD! I loathe Christmas shopping, the lines, the bullshit items that get passed off as gifts. The sentimental bullshit on the TV for jewelry, clothes, electronics, whatever. It's all such bullshit. But the pleasure of the season is giving - unless of course, you have no money like me, so the pleasure of the season is getting shit you would have bought it you had a job.

Wish me luck!

I busted out a Nelly CD on my way home...random, both that I have a Nelly CD and that I busted it out...but my favorite line, "40 acres and a mule - fuck that - 40 acres and a pool."

Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I Vote for Tony Blair...

For among other things, the most eloquent man alive...if not ever.

Here is one question, along with Blair's eloquent response:

Q: Nick Robinson, ITV News: Can you just give us a sense of your feelings today? You flew here in secrecy under armed protection into what is still a safe zone more than a year and a half after Saddam fell. Can you honestly say to yourself, this is what I meant to bring about when I said that we ought to invade Iraq?

Tony Blair: That's a good question. I'll tell you exactly what I felt coming in. Security is really heavy - you can feel the sense of danger that people live in here.

But what I felt more than anything else was this - the danger that people feel here is coming from terrorists and insurgents who are trying to destroy the possibility of this country becoming a democracy.

Now where do we stand in that fight? We stand on the side of the democrats against the terrorists. And so when people say to me, well look at the difficulties, look at the challenges - I say well what's the source of that challenge - the source of that challenge is a wicked, destructive attempt to stop this man, this lady, all these people from Iraq, who want to decide their own future in a democratic way, having that opportunity.

And where should the rest of the world stand? To say, well that's your problem, go and look after it, or you're better off with Saddam Hussein running the country - as if the only choice they should have in the world is a choice between a brutal dictator killing hundreds of thousands of people or terrorists and insurgents.

There is another choice for Iraq - the choice is democracy, the choice is freedom - and our job is to help them get there because that's what they want. Sometimes when I see some of the reporting of what's happening in Iraq in the rest of the world, I just feel that people should understand how precious what has been created here is. And those people from that electoral commission that I described as the heroes of the new Iraq - every day... a lot of them aren't living in the Green Zone, they've got to travel in from outside - they do not know at any point in time, whether they're going to be subject to brutality or intimidation even death and yet they carry on doing it. Now what a magnificent example of the human spirit - that's the side we should be on.

Hot Damn, talk about putting it in perspective. Here's the link to the entire transcript.
Back In SF

For the holidays...uneventful drive up the 5 other than Another Brick in the Wall and Don't Fear the Reaper were both on the radio multiple times along the drive...which I found weird.

A friend recommends Closer...the second one to do so. I'll be checking it and perhaps Hotel Rwanda this week to review.

Monday, December 20, 2004


To the sidebar, at least. First, I extended my favorite big time blogs to more than the three I had up there, I'm reading a couple more these days. This list could be longer, but I'd like to keep it to a reasonable length...maybe I'll max it out at the top 10 or so, but never more. I think the point of the blogroll, like the blog itself, is to keep it fresh and up-to-date. I can't read more than 10 other blogs a day, anyhow, timewise, so I figure this should be reasonable.

Also, a new section, replacing "Other Interesting Blogs" is "Of Local Interest." These are blogs of people I know personally or sort of personally that would appeal to my community down here in LA. The USC Film blog is run by Helaine Head, a professor at USC whom I've never met, but corresponded over email a little bit. This blog was created for a class, but I'd like to see it take on a more prominant role in the USC student community and perhaps become a source of juicy film school information. It will be my SPO project next semester as a new student worker.

Like a Colon Cleansing is a new blog by my friend Cindy Fang, also known as Fang-bot or Fang-Stein...don't let the name oddly lewd name fool you...Cindy loves colon cleansings...almost at much as Vegas buffets. She also has a great eye, so I expect her blog will include some visually intriguing things as well little pearls of wisdom.

Jared Essig is a friend from college with a deep interest in computer technology, especially in Java and other computer languages and platforms, much of which I do not understand. Jared was the first person whom I knew on a personal level that wanted to get involved with blogging...and his first blog, sadly, went un-updated for over a year. This is his new blog, but the last update was December 7th...the day we will remember in infamy. I hope he continues...we can always expect something interesting and thought-provoking from Jared.

I encourage anyone else thinking of starting a blog to give it a try. I loved writing mine when I knew not a single person was reading it...and I love it even more knowing that people are looking now every day...
Good Comments, By the Way

Thanks for the comments...this one is really smart:

I think we face so much uncertainty about the way we live our lives that we thrive on any evidence of how other people behave. This is, in fact, why I read your blog even though I barely know you.

I do find that we seek evidence of how others act and behave...presumably to learn how we ought to behave...that is the role of story throughout history. The bible, for a long time served as simply a set of stories about how people ought to behave. Nowadays, more people watch films than read and can cite the bible, but the essense is the same - you don't want to be like Reese Witherspoon in Election, right? Or as a corporate boss - you ought to avoid being Lumburg from Office Space. It's similar to not behaving like Cain or Abraham or any other biblical warning.

Also, nice work on the de-Asian factor. We see this with many women, my biggest complaint is Salma Hayak, gorgeous in Desparado, slowly white-i-fied herself, losing her beautiful complexion. Despite it, I still have the hots for Salma. And of course, Michael Jackson...

Good stuff.

A liberal argument for the removal of Kofi - citing the two genocides on his watch, in which he essentially ordered the UN to stand down in the face of atrocities the UN was set up to stop.

We might want to include the Iraq infractions here...not as genocides necessarily, although you can make an argument for Saddam's massacres of the Kurds as such, but moreso as being an impotent organization that wasn't able to make it's members states feel safe - the US, the UN's principal sponsor, did not feel safe entrusting our post 9/11 security to the UN. Neither, apparently, did other member states, who now feel threatened by the United States.

If the point of the UN is to bring peace-loving nations of the world together, it is failing miserably. Of course, the whole assumption is that there are peace-loving nations...

This guy from the SF Chronicle is quickly becoming my least favorite journalist. Does this article make any sense whatsoever?

The title seems to criticize sports for being too brutal...and extends that to how we wage war...but then he goes on to talk about showmanship and Muhammoud Ali and how he wasn't humble like Joe Louis, but how he likes him anyway, but there needs to be some limits to Howard Stern and the Janet Jackson Super Bowl thing, but not the limits that a Republican would suggest, because it's not that big of a deal. What the fuck is this kook talking about? He reminds me of this guy in our film school who will more or less start arguing a point and then get really excited and start arguing the opposite side, and then gets upset - at himself, I guess - for's very odd.
Christmas Under Assault

According to a bunch of white-boys that I's a good Salon letter response.

Bill O'Reilly has taken it upon himself to "save Christmas"? How nice.

Is it too much to ask that everyone -- and I do mean everyone -- just chill out? Church and state are meant to be separate in this country. That means (among many other far more important things) no overtly religious imagery on government property. So no baby Jesus in school or at City Hall. But hey, you know what? That Christmas tree is pretty. And pagan. It's not like Jim Caviezel is nailed to it, suffering. Let it go.

Even the normally awesome Instapundit is whining about Christmas --

Maybe it's just me. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive. But when I wish a store clerk "Merry Christmas!" they often appear stunned and flummoxed for a moment, as if I've just blabbed the plans for the underground's sabotage of the train tracks in front of the secret police. I've said something highly inappropriate for the public square, and I almost expect a security guard to take me aside on the way out. . . .

Actually, it's Likeks...but quoted and agreed on by Instapundit.

Give me a break. There isn't an assault on Christmas...if anything, the over-consumerism to Christmas is the real killer. I don't think the forces of political correctness, while causing problems in many places, are wrecking havoc on Christmas.

And since when does anyone care how a store clerk responds? They see hundreds of customers a day and most likely aren't thinking about PC issues when one of them offers a Merry Christmas. They are probably more concerned about lunch break or getting paid yes, Likeks is being oversensitive.

UPDATE: Virginia Postrel seems to agree with me.

This Hotel Rwanda is getting a lot of press right now. If I was an established filmmaker looking for a big type of project, I think I'd be interested in taking something like this on...someday.

Filmmaking may be therapy. I think the world needs therapy for this type of thing.
Double Feature: The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby

Whoa. After seeing these two films, the parking bill at the Grove was $ hours! All right, we got there early, since the Grove is a nightmare and sat in a bit of Closer - which looked great...especially Clive between the Aviator and Million Dollar Baby.

The Aviator started off strong - it was exciting to watch charming, young, Leo-depicted Howard Hughes trying to buy his way into Hollywood and into the airline industry. He charms the women, charms his coworkers, charms nearly everyone except Louie B. Meyer. But like many biopics, it grows slow and I got rather tired of it during the 3rd Act. The two other major problems were that I couldn't buy Leo as a 40 something year old towards the end...and his whole OCD thing was rather annoying. I felt like shaking him and saying: get over yourself, you kook! This film was Scorcese trying to make a Citizen Kane...too bad for him that film was already made. If he gets an Oscar, it's simply the one they owe him from Raging Bull....which brings us to...

Million Dollar Baby, the film I was more excited about seeing. This movie, much, much smaller in scale, was one of the darkest films I've seen in a long time...both the cinematography and the subject. This movie starts sad and gets sadder. It gets great as Hillary Swank not so much charms Clint into training her, but just insists upon it...finally they get together and we follow this female boxing story, turned into daughter-father tale.

In front of me, a 50 year old man watching the film by himself, was weeping by the end. Clint has something to say the human existence, which he sees as an essential tradegy with outbursts of extreme violence, an existence that cannot be explained through religion and faith, but only through a Kantian-esque ideal of the "categorical imperative," whereby the individual behaves as he thinks the rest of the world ought to. But there is even more than that, something one might want to call the heroic exception - where a single man is asked to go above and beyond his fellow man for a conception of right...maybe more along the lines of the Nietzchean uber man. I'm not sure. I need to brush up on my ethics.

His filmmaking is a bit old fashioned, although I love the cinematography...which is dark, dark, dark...and the single image of silhouetted Clint with Hillary punching the bag beats the shit out of any of Scorcese's crazy camera work and movement, in my humble opinion...Something about the silhouette of Clint, his body, slumping a bit with age, but still solid, with the shape of post-John Wayne maniliness, standing there, me, is extraordinarily powerful.

Lastly, there is Morgan Freeman, perhaps the only living actor to be able to do voice over exactly how they don't teach us in film school...saying exactly what we are seeing and it still is mesmorizing. There is something so digified about Morgan, even as he cleans up toilets, and he might be the only one who can literally share the screen with Clint.

But I didn't love this film. It's not about me. It's about this east coast Irish sensibility, maybe even sentimentality, which I find appealing, but doesn't touch me the way some other films this year have - Sideways and Collateral, to name a couple.

Regardless, I'm glad Clint Eastwood is 75, directing, starring, producing, and composing films.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

So How Does Firefox Make Money?

If all the best things in life are free...Firefox is evidence of the truism.
Riddle Me This

A group of film school friends went to Vegas on Wed and Thurs night to celebrate the completion of a 12 minute film on which we were all crew. I think we all universally agree that the final product was a bit of a disappointment...that we all aspire to make better films than what we ended up making. We took along my little 1-chip consumer DV camera and shot a bunch of stuff while we were up in Vegas. I looked at the nearly 2 hours of video we shot and despite the obviously bad production value, I know we could put together a MORE interesting 12 minutes than our 8 months of working on this other 12 minute film. Why is this? Here are several options:

1. NARCISSISM - I'm a narcissist and simply like watching myself and my friends moreso than a narrative story.

2. BIAS - It would not actually be more compelling than our 12 minute is simply a home video that I have fond memories of versus a project that caused a lot of hard work and heartache and problems.

3. LOOSE- It is more interesting because we were LOOSE - we could essentially shoot as much as we wanted without worries of money, time, pressure...whereas we get this rigid project, with strict time frames and money constraints and a huge crew...and we choke.

4. THE REALITY TV FACTOR - The spontineity and realism that we strive for in narrative projects are difficult to fake...whereas what we shot in Vegas was truly spontaneous and real and impossible not to fake...all we needed to do was turn the camera on and point it in the right direction.

5. FREEDOM - When you have the freedom to fail and not be judged...when you have creative liberty and freedom, one can make magic. There are obvious contraints...mostly, in this version, technical - which contribute in a way to the project. I think constraints need to be embraced and not fought against tooth and nail, as was the case in 546.

I don't know. Maybe it was just a home video....but I think there is something else going on...I think there are bits of dialog and conversation in the film that FAR surpass in sophistication and humor anything we saw in our 546 short film screening. That strikes me as not only important, but vital. It makes me think of how Renior shot some of his films, how Jules and Jim felt while watching, about Curb you Enthusiasm, about the Celebration...there are other ways to shoot and make films - better ways, methinks.
Bringing Back a Contentious Subject

An smart look at racial profiling. With Chuck D out of the country, I don't know if we'll get a debate going...
Every Human Life is a Tragedy

Or so says Shakespeare, right? The man who saved the needs to borrow money to bury his wife. Well, he actually did what many people aspire to...

PS - I found this on Powerline, a blog I don't usually read, but has won "Blog of the Year" by Time Magazine. The blogosphere seems to overwhelmingly approve.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Another One Bites the Dust

And now Mulder is gone. The big 3 is down to the big 1.

This sucks.
Debt and Our Generation

These statistics are bad - and all the film students I know are going to be in it deeper than this.
Plastic Surgery Beauty Queen

Yipes! I'm not really sure how I feel about beauty contests in general - they seem kind of stupid...but the celebration of plastic surgery? I dunno, man, something seems off here.
Kooky Stuff

Anyone interested in Victorian age taxidermy and other weird little animal related's an off-beat website.
The Three Movies I Want to See

Are reviewed here. The Aviator, Million Dollar Baby, and Hotel Rwanda. I don't know why, but reading about Scorcese movies bores me. I've seen nearly all his films, and think that perhaps, I've been over-exposed to him...that he's been overhyped in my mind. Everyone thinks he's the greatest living director and all that crap and I haven't been all that impressed with his work in the past seven years or so. I felt like I had seen all I needed to see by the time I was 18 or 19 and had watched Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, the Last Temptation of Christ, and Raging Bull. After that, I haven't felt much, even in re-watching some of his stuff. I liked tha altera-Scorcese films...King of Comedy and The Last Waltz all right, but nothing to get my panties in a knot about.
New Show: 40 Year Old Virgin

You knew something like this was cuming.
Rwanda, Sudan, and a new Movie

One wonders why we cannot stop things like this from happening. One also wonders why things like this happen in the first place.
Good Stuff

Lots on interesting stuff in this article. This weekend, although we never got the shot, I thought about how easy it would be with a car, cell phones, and digital video camera to organize a long shot from a hotel window that zooms down onto an image overhead of 7 people trying to get into a car. I was sort of planning it in my head, but alas the poker tables and other Vegas festivities got in the way....

Interesting tid-bits from this article:

Not that long ago, in 1989, the world watched demonstrators sit passively in Tiananmen Square and fight the authorities with little more than a papier-mâché Statue of Liberty. Poland's Solidarity movement had to print protest material with homemade ink made from oil because the Communist government confiscated all the printers' ink.

In 2004, in Ukraine's Independence Square, they had cell phones.

Using the phones' SMS messaging technology, demonstrators sent messages to meet to 10 or so friends, who'd each SMS the message to 10 more friends, and so on. It's called "smart-mobbing."


Anyone want to guess the third-most used language on the Web, behind English and Chinese? Farsi. Iran now has about 75,000 individual Web logs. That's because a young, Toronto-based Iranian journalist who publishes as Hoder created tools in Farsi to make it possible. Only 10% of the Iranian blogs could be called political; most discuss music, movies, poetry and Iranian or Western culture. "Iran's most interesting political conversations take place in taxis," said Hoder.

Friday, December 17, 2004

West Africa

I'm sure we will see more battles between Islamic Fundamentalism and democracy in Africa in the years to come...let's hope they stay on this level - cause we can win these battles....whereas in the Middle East, who knows?
Almost Forgot...

In 2-4 poker this weekend, Melissa pulled a straight flush, winning herself a $350 jackpot. Unbelievable.

So upon returning from Vegas, the thought of driving in traffic from East LA to West LA and back to East LA was so undesirable that I convinced Mel to kick it at my house and watch a movie and eat dinner while traffic thinned out on Friday night. We rented Tadpole - a film I had been meaning to see, since it was shot all digitally by Indigent and was supposed to be good...Sundance prizes and all that shit.

Well, it sucked. Royally sucked. The film looked like the scenes I shoot for school - which is essentially what it was. The dialog sucked, the acting sucked, the writing and story sucked, the sound sucked. It just wasn't good. The only thing interesting was the premise and the cast they somehow got. And the film was so damn short. 70 minutes or so. They shot it in 14 days. I would bet that I could make a better film, the only things missing would be the quality of cast.

I like what Indigent is trying to do, still, I just wish they could do it a little better.
Now This Is Depressing

Tim Hudson, my favorite player, was traded to the Braves. This hurts probably more than any other trade of my lifetime - except perhaps Joe Montana. Hudson is one of the best and the most ballsy of all major league pitchers. When he arrived in Oakland, they were a sad franchise, winding down from the Tony LaRussa days of glory...he got called up midyear and went 6-0 or something like that for the rest of the season and gave the team an edge it had lost over the years. That edge, coupled with Zito and Multder, the emergence of Giambi, Tejada, Chavez, and the famous Billy Beane signings - Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, Keith Foulke, etc, etc...led the A's back to the top of the AL, despite one of the lowest payrolls in the league.

Huddy will be sorely missed and I hope he wins the Cy Young one day.

Got back from Vegas a couple ago. :)

I always have similar feelings when I go to Vegas...a period of intense excitement, followed by a period of mellow enjoyment, and finally a mad desparation to leave and never return.

I achieved my principal goal: to play poker at the tables. I lost playing 2-4, a lame game compared to no limit, but much more affordable and more interesting, to me, than blackjack. We managed to do a lot of spontaneous filming of fun little vegas adventures and did a partial re-make of our 546 we had gone to Vegas to celebrate finishing.

Lots of little fun things to report, but as the shirts and advertisements warn us: what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Unless of course, you have it on tape.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Am leaving for Vegas tonight and blogging my be non-existent for a couple days.
Most Interesting Personalities in Film

It would be fun to name off all the young hot-shots, but goddamn, Clint Eastwood is chucking out solid films at a clip rivaling Woody Allen - it seems like one a year these days. In any other hands I wouldn't be looking forward to Million Dollar Baby, but because it's directed by Clint - I'm excited.

This guy is truly 75, he's peaking - directing, acting, and composing. Jesus!

-You said it man, no-body a fucks with a Jesus!
The Wrong Approach

I don't see how counteracting lies with other lies is going to help the US promote ourselves. I'm thinking we should maybe counteract lies with something else....maybe the truth, I dunno? Sounds like a decent just takes a little more work.
More on "Blog"

Word of the year....
An Arab Revolt?

While we sit around and debate why we lost the last election and why the rest of the world hates us - perhaps the Arab world is undergoing a monumental change and reform through elections.
Screening Tonight

8pm, Norris Theatre, four short films. "Having It All" formerly titled "Those Moments" will be the first to screen. I'm is always the case with screening. It's just that this one did not turn out nearly as good as I think it could have. I guess that is also true of all movies...

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Studying Ebert

I've been paying attention to Ebert lately because I can't find any good movie reviewers. He watches and reviews everything and they are easily accessible online. That's enough for me. But I think he's either a hack or too friendly with the filmmakers themselves. He doesn't add anything to discourse, merely articulates exactly what he thinks the rest of America will argee with.

For instance, I looked at his old reviews on Tarantino and found this...which I totally disagreed with on every level.

The same thing applies to his Wes Anderson reviews. 2 stars for Bottle Rocket, 2.5 for Rushmore and 4 for the Royal Tennenbaums. What? Anyone knows Rushmore was the achievement - not Tennenbaums. The difference: it was safe to love Tennenbaums and Rushmore came out of no where. What happened to the tradition of film writing, like Andre Bazin and Pauline Kael?

And then there's this, which is really atrocious...Bridget Jones 2, three stars, higher than Rushmore or Resevior Dogs. Come on...
Films Update - of Films I've Watched This Year


1. Sideways
2. Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens
3. McCabe and Mrs. Miller
4. Collateral
5. The Incredibles
6. Taxidermy Documentary
7. The Office DVDs
8. The Lodger
9. The Great Escstacy of Woodcarver Steiner
10. Rio Bravo
11. 3:10 To Yuma
12. Straw Dogs
13. Hiroshima Mon'Amour
14. The Ice Storm
15. Walkabout
16. Aguirre, Wrath of God
17. Ratcatcher

Very Worthwhile:

1. Shaun of the Dead
2. Eternal Sunshine
3. Million Dollar Baby
4. Closer
5. Blood Simple
6. Life's Aquatic
7. Spiderman 2
8. Friday Night Lights
9. About Schmidt
10. Sid and Nancy
11. Before Surise
12. The Great Silence
13. A Place in the Sun
14. Blackboard Jungle
15. The Counterfeit Traitor
16. Home from the Hill
17. Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid
18. Salesman
19. George Washington
20. Master and Commander
21. Nashville
22. California Split
23. PillowBook
24. To Live and Die in L.A.
25. Lost Highway
26. Manhunter
27. The Insider

Decent Films:

1. Ulzana's Raid
2. The Aviator
3. Team America and more here.
4. Passion of the Christ
5. Bourne Supremacy
6. Fahrenheit 9/11
7. Tetsuo The Iron Man
8. The African Queen
9. Ace in the Hole
10. Kill Bill II
11. Escape from New York
12. Red Dawn
13. I Heart Huckabees
14. In Good Company - actually, this is almost a bad film.
15. Hotel Rwanda - only because of the subject matter is this decent.
16. The Gambler
17. Born into Brothels

Bad Films:

1. Bridget Jones 2
2. Ocean's 12 more comments here.
3. Tadpole
4. Resident Evil: Apocalypse
5. Alfie
6. The Grudge
7. Garden State
8. Scarecrow
9. A Sense of Freedom
10. Hero
11. Junior Bonner
12. Playtime

Films I Should Have Liked More

1. Faster, Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill
2. Toute une nuit
Life Aquatic and Oceans 12 Double Feature

This will not be an in-depth great review. Life Aquatic exceeded expectations and Ocean's 12 went way under...I'm not sure why I was looking forward to O12, I didn't particularly like the first one, although, I must admit it grew on me a bit after seeing it again...and I though Life Aquatic was due to suck after seeing the preview.

I think Life A will get generally panned by critics and people - it doesn't offer anything new from the Bill Murrey in Rushmore or the Anjelica Houston from Royal T. And as my friend's who I saw the movie said, "The first 30 minutes is so BORING."

But despite that, once Team Zizzou decides to steal equipment from his half-gay rival and gets met by pirates the movie picks up and became a pleasure for me to watch. Willem Dafoe is the best part of the film. Also, I thought the animation looked completely stupid in the preview, but somehow it actually worked in the movie - basically, all the animals are these florescent colored drawings.

My college roommate saw the film differently - he says, "They gave Wes Anderson 80 mil or basially a blank check to do whatever he wanted and this is all he could come up with?"

Ocean's 12 is barely worth analyzing...a surprisingly un-fun, yet hip, movie with a totally confusing and lame caper plot. What's really the last good caper film? Honestly, can anyone name a good one? Guy Ritchie makes good ones. That's about it. The original Italian Job...oh, I got it, Thomas Crowne Affair. That was a good one. Please, help me out here.
Thank You, NetFlix!

Blockbuster removes late fees. About frigging time, the assholes.
Not the Worst Idea

So you have to admit, this isn't the worst idea you've ever heard:

New Homeless Initiative To Raise Bottle Deposit To 12 Cents
WASHINGTON, DC—A bipartisan Congressional initiative passed Monday promises that relief, in the form of a national, 12-cent bottle-and-can refund, will soon come to the nation's estimated 600,000 homeless.

Compliments from the Onion.

Another: Now, this is just wrong. But funny.

More and more it seems the far left is putting up a really good challenge to the far right for who can be the most intolerant. And it happens at SFSU again and again.
UPDATE to the below post.

Awesome! Although I don't know how I feel about being called an idiot, I love the smart response by the anonymous reader...I wonder how they found this blog, I suspect they googled "Embarrass and Liberal." That's a joke.

Like the Night Fox, I love a good challenge and so here's the retort:

1. Nuremberg. Fair enough about setting legal precedent...but the point of Nuremberg, historically speaking, is not about the legal framework it set up...the point and lesson to be taken from Nuremberg is that it is not morally responsible to follow immoral orders. In Nuremburg, the issue was concentration camps and the execution of Jews and other minorities - and the defense that "we were just following orders" would not save the Nazi officers. Another, lesser known, component of Nuremberg was the charge of waging an aggressive war. Current anti-war folks will jump upon this element of Nurenberg to decry, "see what America is doing now is similar to what the Nazi's did in World War II." They are drastically wrong.

One cannot argue that comparisons between present day Iraq and Nuremberg are simple legal comparisons. When making such a statement the intent is to equate "Bush's" Iraq war with the aggressive Nazi state and to gain an emotion reaction. Nazi comparisons are meant to stimulate emotions, not to engage in intellectual debate. I can go into the litany of intellectual reasons why Iraq war differs from Hitler invading Poland and the rest of Europe, UN Resolution 1441, the fact that Saddam was in continual violation of UN treaties, that in a post-9/11 rouge regimes pose a greater threat to world security because of the proliferation of WMDs...but these arguments fall upon deaf ears to anti-war folks, who at best, cannot get beyond the US-in-Vietnam narrative, and at worst, the US-as-Nazi narrative.

One may not agree with the US war in Iraq. Many in the United States did not agree with the US involvement in WWI or WWII. That does not make the war illegitimate or immoral. There is a major difference between a difference of strategy with respect to the war on terror and making the moral argument that going into Iraq is morally wrong....if one decides to make the moral arugment, one must argue how standing by and doing nothing in the face of Saddam's atrocities over the years is justified. I certainly can't.

2. I certainly agree that writing is a civilized way of fighting and moving the discussion in a certain direction - note this blog. HOWEVER, the argument he is making is not one to change minds and convince - the argument is an active resistance to the Iraq war - encouraging army members to desert their posts. This is not about discussion or about changing is about resistance. I find this topic interesting, though, and have posted on it before, right here.

3. I agree that I may be an idiot. I think there's at least 75% chance of it being true. But I bet there is an 85-90% chance the writer of the article is a bigger idiot. I'll quote a few sentances, which a smart high schooler could write better:

Quickly now, name a country that harbored the Sept. 11 terrorists! Ah, that was too easy. You got it right away. The answer: the United States of America. That's who sheltered the 19 terrorists before their attacks on Manhattan and Washington. That's where those terrorists worked and played, ate and slept, plotted and rehearsed right up to that tragic day. The U.S. of A.

Perhaps, in our barely civilized world, someone should inform Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld of this travesty.

In the eyes of many, Mr. Bush's war against the people of Iraq is absolutely illegal. When one country attacks another, destroys it, and kills its people, without overt provocation, that constitutes an illegal war.

The Geneva Conventions, of which the United States is a signatory, is absolutely clear on that.

Like I said, he doesn't believe deserters are heroes and the Marines who served in Falluja war criminals. I can't prove it through his prose, but I bet he wouldn't have the balls to say it to a single Marine or single relative of a Marine serving over there. And furthermore, I don't think he would spend a cent of his own money to help encourage young men to desert their posts...nor would he go to jail for encouraging a massive uprising of troops. I bet, if he met a young man who volunteered to go over to Iraq, shared a beer, and talked about the world, he would be both proud and deeply sad...and the last thing he would feel is that this guy is a war criminal.

Monday, December 13, 2004

What an Idiot

If this article doesn't embarrass you as a liberal...then I don't know what to say.

According to "60 Minutes" last week (quoting the Pentagon), more than 5,500 servicemen have deserted since the beginning of Mr. Bush's war.

That's an amazing number. And it offers hope that perhaps not all our young people are locked into caveman mentality. At least 5,500 of them have advanced to the level of thinking demonstrated at Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945.

Nuremberg is where the Nazi war criminals of World War II were tried. Their common defense was that they were just following orders. The court refused that defense, suggesting that soldiers never have an obligation to follow illegal orders.

If he really believes what he says - that the US Army and Bush are equivalent to the Nazi army...he shouldn't be writing about it - he should be fighting tooth and nail against it. But the truth is, he doesn't believe it, and he shouldn't be writing for a newspaper. Thanks for interpreting Nurenmberg for us...jesus, what an idiot.

According to this article, 99.8% of all complaints to the FCC came from a single group - The Parents Television Counsel. It sounds terrible to me that all this hoopla came from a single interest group. But it also gives me hope, that we Americans are not the dumbshits that the people who suppose to speak for us think we are. Who the fuck elected these interest groups? Factions, I tell ya, the founding fathers were some smart mother fuckers.
Not the Next Jordan...

...more and more he looks like the next Mike Tyson. Kobe accuses the mailman of making a pass at his wife? Huh?

According to published reports, the source of the recent feud between Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone is that Kobe is accusing the Mailman of making a pass at his wife, Vanessa, at a Lakers game last month. Kobe told Malone in no uncertain terms that he can't forgive a teammate who makes a pass to anyone other than Kobe.

He single handedly dismantled the Lakers - sending Phil Jackson, the most successful basketball coach since John Wooden, and Shaq, the most influential player in the game, into retirement and the Heat, respectively.

Why would the mailman make a pass at Kobe's wife? The mailman seems a little odd to me, not a big playa or anything like that...or maybe Kobe's wife was making it up? Sound familiar?
More Dude

Another article on the deconstruction of the word dude. I love it. Yesterday, my college roommate, who hails from the East Coast returned to LA from a long trip to Italy. I saw his cell phone number pop up on my phone, I answered, "Dude." His response, "Duuuuuude." Nuff said.
The End of City Lights

Just watched it on TCM and man, Charlie knew what he was doing in terms of setting up comedy that just keeps going and going...all physically. I am missing this from my comic scenes, which tend to have bit after bit, but there's a consistency in Charlie's that is simplier and better. I need to learn this...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Great Documentary

Last night I saw a terrific student film, a documentary about taxidermy. The movie was in a league above the rest of the student films I've watched since at USC. It achieved that thing that great films do - portending to be about a certain subject, in this case, taxidermy, but revealing so much more about the human condition through it's characters....the basic story line followed three subjects, a taxidermist, an older couple that had the "empty nest" syndrome whose dog had died, and a lady who collected 19th century taxidermy....the taxidermist himself was a fairly normal guy, had gotten into taxidermy as a family business. He had a nice quote, "It's what I do, not who I am." The older couple was fascinating. They were about my parents generation, the man was crippled, and emotionally distant. He called the dog, "it," and didn't show emotion for the entire film. The mom, on the other hand, was so starving for an emotional connection, she put all her feeling and unconditional love into the dog. She wrote a poem about the dog and they, of course, had it stuffed. The last part of the film was so touching and simple as she brought the dog up to the place where she planned on keeping him.

The most interesting character was this 19th century taxidermist collector...she came so clean about her relationships within her own family and her consquent pet obsession...she was so humorous and spiteful at the same time, putting a book her mother forced her to read as a little kid in her hands before cremating her...she decribed her father's suicide, her uncle hacking someone to death, and her own sister beating her. But she wasn't sentimental or sad about it - just matter of fact, which made it all the more powerful.

Really great film.

PS. Also watched McCabe and Mrs. Miller this weekend - amazing weekend for films.

Would it be the end of the world if they had the bomb? I got ramped up a couple months ago by an article about how Iran's quest for the bomb was different from nearly all other countries, because it is not a part of an arms race. Because of this fact, it is speculated that the Iranians motives are at best, blackmail, and at worst, to use it against Israel or give to a terrorist group, if they feel threatened.

This article points a pretty bad picture, in that we are fairly stuck with how to deal with them. What about regime change?

Saturday, December 11, 2004


You wonder about different mediums...well here's one that I never thought would move me as much as it did - an interview, with a professor, about reading of all things. The sheer passion for reading and learning is mesmorizing and inspiring. I was going to go home this afternoon, insteady I'm going to read Emerson.
5 Million

There are now 5 million blogs. This is a compelling article as to how the internet is quickly becoming more than simply a reference section - as if we didn't already know it. I'm proud to say, this blog is ranked around 17,500 in visiting popularity....I'm not really sure if that's being sarcastic or not.
Islamicists Versus the Red-Light District

Now that would be an interesting fight...the underworld of gambling and whores and drugs versus the radical Islamic Fascists. I know whose side I'd be on.
Russ Meyer

I had heard of this guy, but never seen any of his films...tonight there was a double-feature, Faster, Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill! and Beneath the Vally of the Ultra-Vixens. Holy shit! Faster, Faster was weird and interesting, but the real treasure was Beneath the Valley - it was basically a soft core pornography movie, with some interesting characters, including a narrator who narrates the story from around parts of the film, a la the Big Lebowski, a sequence in which the main character decides to disguise herself as a Mexican stripper and speak only in Spanish, the male lead being obsessed with anal sex, and an evangelical radio DJ with huge tits whose sermons serve as sexual aides to the little towns in Texas. And the end of the movie even goes more ape-shit - the cinematographer suddenly appears, taking the role of the narrator after the narrator catches his son having sex with his Norweigen step-mom, and asks him to step aside...really, truly unbelievable film.

Friday, December 10, 2004

A Worthy Fight

Although we might be our own worst enemy with respect to our policies in the Middle East - these guys are even worse of their own worst that's a tounge twister.

This reaffirms to me that we are fighting a worthy war. Killing election workers? Now that's symbolic. And it's symbolic of something worth fighting against.

**I guess if you make the argument that WE opened up this can of worms by getting rid of Saddam...this will only reaffirm your position...but then again, think about what you're saying - that Saddam was somehow better for the world. Yipes!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Stop Military Recruiters!

I've seen posters around campus and gotten a few emails from former communist groups that got me on a list after I went to one ANSWER coalition meeting - I knew I shouldn't have given them my info, the freaking cultists.

Anyhow, I think it is quite awful to be protesting against military recruiting...the basic presumption being that the volunteer US Army is one of the larger problems with the world and it somehow manipulates poor, young people into joining it and oppressing other people - becoming part of their favorite catch-phrase, the "military industrial complex." Wooooooo.

I can see being against a draft or generally being a pacifist. But that's not what these people are. They are aggressive, anti-US military activists, who put their faith in NGOs and other interest groups. My question for NGO's: Who the fuck elected you to speak on behalf of anyone? NGOs are interest groups. The founding fathers defined them as factions and thought they were one of the biggest threats to the liberty of people when they constructed the Constitution. NGOs operate outside the government and try to manipulate institutions like the UN to get their agendas passed....they don't have an interest in working within the electoral process in the US because they lose...they don't have popular support and don't need it. They are perfectly happy having a bunch of rabid followers and who oppose various actions by the US government. It's as if their only political tool is a filibuster...the most they can hope to achieve is to halt or stop or disrupt - but they are utterly incapable of providing an alternative or making any progess or actually helping anyone. They are impotent and strive to cut of the balls of other institutions. It seems as if their tactics and goals are to allow tyrants and unelected, illegitimate governments to operate as freely as a government with elected officials and a history of legitimacy...they would say the legitimacy and power of the Sudanese government or a Baathist government should be equal to that of the US government or the British or Australian or Japanese government. Gangstas are equal to elected officials. Off. They're really off.

I know this entry was not organized at went off in a weird direction.
4 hours, 3 beer, and lots of Doritos...

...later, and I've won a pot of about $8 from poker. Quite fun, though, some interesting hands including a flush flop in which I ended up winning because I had a straight flush - the second highest hand in poker and the highest hand I've ever had or seen anyone have in poker. Excellent.