Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Best Sitcom Since Seinfeld

Which isn't saying all that much. Okay, well the Simpsons is pretty good. But Arrested Development is getting the props it deserves. I'd love to work for this show. This article hits it spot on:
It's very much a post-reality-show sitcom, capitalizing on the influence of
the fledgling genre and translating its conventions into a new kind of
comedy — broadly drawn but presented utterly deadpan.
Right on.

Rushmore and Out of Sight

Re-watched these movies this week. Great stuff. Out of Sight is going to be our template for our 546. Visually awesome, with all the flashbacks having distinct looks and feels. One little tid-bit from the commentary is that Soderbergh shot a bunch of scenes on set that were supposed to be Miami. In order to get away from the set feel, he blasted light through the windows and shot four stops underexposed, blowing out the windows and making it feel hot and sunny outside.

Rushmore is great. For some reason, this movie makes me feel unqualified to make films. I'm not sure why this is...whereas Out of Sight or Pulp Fiction really inspires me to want to make films, Rushmore discourages me by how good it is. I'm not saying Rushmore is better than PF - it isn't, but there is something out it, maybe closer to home or something. Or maybe it's the message or the integrity of the character, or how young it feels. I'm not sure. My favorite part of the movie is when Luke Wilson is with the teacher at Max's play. Max is super confrontational with the guy. When they are out at dinner, Bill Murray has ordered him a drink and he tries to give Luke a hard time:

"Nice nurse uniform."
"These are O.R. scrubs."
"Oh-ARE they?"

Bill Murray giggles. It keeps playing in my head.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Rally Monkey

Angels-Mariners had a good game tonight. Went with the roommate, a Seattle fan, saw Garrett, Vlad, Ichiro, Krod, and Percival. Angels won 6-5. The Angels had these hilarious bits they show when Seattle changed pitchers, one was clips of Spiderman, with all the city folk looking for the Green Goblin...then he finally comes down, and it's the Rally Monkey. The entire crowd goes nuts, and then they show the monkey jumping up and down. It's really funny. Then the next pitching change, they show clips from Signs, as Mel Gibson feels something creepy is going on, and runs around frantically in his corn fields, until he discovers...the Rally Monkey in the middle of a chewed up field. Once again, the clips of the Monkey jumping up and down.

So Garrett Anderson is probably my favorite guy to watch hit. He's got this smooth confidence up and the plate and he just steps up and strokes the ball. I think he was 4 for 4 tonight. Old people always talk about watching Ted Williams hit, that it was this amazing experience, like watching Picasso paint. I, of course, have no idea...but like Will Clark in the 89 championship series against the Cubs, Barry Bonds of the last couple years, Jose Canseco in his 40-40 year, sometimes there are ballplayers who rise way above the rest. I think Garrett is one of those, and oddly, not many people talk about him that way...yet. I grew up loving Don Mattingly, watching Wade Boggs, Canseco, and later on Griffy. Those guys were all dope...but for my money in a one on one dual with Pedro, Koufax, Randy J, whoever, I'd take Garrett right now. Now that's a bold statement
Zarqawi Caught

I really hope this is true, but I doubt it is...

Thursday, July 29, 2004

One More Thing...

The Kerry-Edwards ticket IS exciting, despite Kerry not being the best speechmaker in the world.  He seems to bring a more team-like approach to a campaign, evidenced by picking a strong VP candidate, by trotting out the all-stars to the convention.  The Dems seem to be strongly united behind Kerry.  It seems like the Dems are coming together in a way we never quite did under Clinton or Gore.

The Gore campaign sucked, a combination of smug assurance that a strong economy would lead to an easy victory and underestimating of an opponent Gore (and the rest of the Dems) probably thought would be a cake walk.  The Gore-Liberman ticket was BORING.  The Kerry-Edward ticket, however, seems like a fun ticket, a principaled ticket, a cool ticket.

How this differs from other recent campaigns is that it feels more team-oriented.  It stems from Kerry's (and Edward's) service in the Senate.  The Senate requires working within the parties politics and within the institution of the Senate.  Clinton and Bush both came as governors, bold individualistic leaders, who had their own "people" surrounding them.  Recently, our presidents have been former governors or VPs.  Senators have not fared well, Dukakis, Bob Dole...people seemed to think that being the leader of a state was a better prerequisite for being president.  I think this is true in some cases.  But now, I think the American people might feel more like a team-type leadership, a leadership of deference to others thoughts and opinions, a leadership of inclusion, rather than a Bold leadership.  Clinton, make no mistake, was Bold.  He was a bright, shining star, surrounded by people who loved him and were in awe of him.  This was both his strength and weakness...he appeared great, but those around him did not - see Al Gore.  And see how the country had not only Clinton-fatigue, but Democrat fatigue.  Clinton did not build a strong party apparatus.  He's too big for a party.  Kerry, on the other hand, is not.  He is a worker, within the party, within the system.  It's a different type of leadership and I'm willing to take a gamble and see if it works.  I hope America is too.

The Democratic Convention

I haven't written much because I haven't watched all that much. I mean, honestly, it's a convention...

But I saw a couple of things, the Clinton speech, which I thought was excellent. My favorite thing about Clinton is when he talks about the differences between liberals and conservatives. I like how he lays out the issues and principals: liberals fundamentally believe in reaching out, in inclusion, whereas conservatives fundamentally believe in protecting our own narrow self interest. Conservatives think people are entitled to what they have. Liberals think people are entitled to have equal opportunities. And this fundamental difference extends to tax policies, war policies, foreign policies, and social policies. The question is where YOU as the voter, stand. When put that way, I know where I stand, and I think where most American's stand.

And I watched Kerry tonight. I don't think his strength is public speaking. He fumbled a few words and the speech itself wasn't all that inspiring, nor was the delivery. But I think Kerry-Edwards has a strong message and is a strong ticket. As far as I can tell, the campaign message is this:

1. We are in a unique position to bring our allies together on the Iraq issue, to help share the burden. With respect to the war on terror, we'll be tough and wise, rather than tough and reckless.

2. We'll repeal tax cuts to those we think need them least - the rich.

3. We'll make the economy better because we have a better track record of doing so than the Republicans in the past 12 years.

4. John Edwards is better than Dick Cheney.

I think these are all valid points and are the Dems strengths. I think they have a couple of weaknesses:

1. Bush is more charismatic than Kerry. It's a sad fact, but true, and will be an obstacle to overcome.

2. The policy of preemption. Bush is clearly in favor of it. Kerry hasn't said he's in favor of preemption, he wants to focus on his war record and the mess in Iraq and the need for our allies - the practical versus the ideological. This is a sticky area for Dems, because I think the party is deeply split on the issue, but doesn't want to talk about it. The pragmatists are in favor of preemption as a policy, unhappy with they Bush has used it. Others, the more left wing, do not think preemption is a policy, but a recipe for the extension of an American empire they fear. I'm not sure where Kerry stands on this. I'm not sure he's sure. I know the majority of American people ARE in favor of preemption as a policy. But I also know Kerry doesn't want to alienate his base, which is not in favor of preemption. This is a question of HOW to wage the war on terror. It will probably be the main determinant of the election and be more reflective of America giving Bush the thumbs up or thumbs down.
How to Meet Men

I hear guys complain plenty about how to meet women, so I'm not really sure if this ends up being mostly the guys fault.  I agree with the procrastination thing...I hate it when people try to plan things out, like dinner, or whatever a week in advance (yes, it's almost always a woman)...or plan something else, like an outing, a month in advance.  It's like, who knows what will be happening then, why not just play it by ear.  Why do we need things planned that far in advance?

Annoying quote, but kinda true "Women are constantly telling people how hard it is to meet a good guy, and they would really like to. That's not what men say to each other. That's not what goes on. They either don't talk, or they grunt, or they talk about sports, or they talk about business, but they don't talk about their longing for a strong relationship. That's not men talk."

I love the way he frames it, portraying women as enlightened, mature beings and men as dumb gorillas.'s almost as popular as America-bashing.  Who is this author anyway?  I'm sure he adores his mother and Doris Day. 

More Film School Bashing, Particularly USC

CNTV Event:LITTLE BLACK BOOK SCREENINGAugust 05, 2004 7:00 p.m. - August 05, 2004 Norris TheatreStarring Brittany Murphy, Holly Hunter, and Ron LivingstonSCREENING FOR USC ALUMNI, STAFF AND STUDENTSThursday, August 5th, 2004Norris Theatre, 7:00pmFOLLOWED BY A Q&A WITH Writer Elisa Bell (USC ALUMNA)Producer Jason Shuman (USC ALUMNUS)Producer William Sherak

Got this email.  Why do USC alumni seem to make all the crappy, "You couldn't pay me to see that," movies.

I keep coming back to whether film school is worth it.  My major fears:

1.  Going into debt.  It's freaking expensive.
2.  Getting a 2nd Class education.  Is film really a master's degree?  Is what we are doing really worth studying?  Are we part of the academy or merely paying for industry training?

I can't tell if the proponents of film school are merely hacks trying to profit off our silly dreams or if the critics of film school are simply bitter.  It's honestly hard to tell.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I'm basically just ripping off Instapundit today...

But there's a lot of good stuff.  9/11 not so much a failure of imagination, or intelligence, but rather, EDUCATION.  We weren't and aren't taught about the Jihadist threat, what they think, what they want, their history, etc. 
No News is Good News

You don't hear much about Afghanistan these days, but here's a liberal group doing a poll with pretty hopeful results.
More Proof That...

Arab government are part of the problem and not the solution.

Monday, July 26, 2004

War of Ideas

It's a pretty sorry state that we find ourselves in.  We are losing the war of ideas.  Prior to the Iraq war 75% of Egyptians looked disfavorably upon the United States.  Now 98% of Egyptians look disfavorably on the US.  Egypt receives the 2nd highest amount of US aid in the world.  What, exactly, is all that money buying?

And what's even more pathetic is that we're not losing the war of ideas to a decent alternative.  At least communism, as an idea, has a fairly legitimate appeal to rational people.  Many reasonable people could see it working.  But we're losing the war of ideas to Arab Nationalists and Islamic Terrorists, whose visions, as far as I can tell, involve making the world as miserable as possible for as many people as possible. 

All much of the West can think about is how to get George Bush out office and how to get ourselves out of Iraq.  All the Arab governments think about how can Iraq not explode into chaos, but also not serve as a functioning democracy.  All I hear is what people DON"T want: US troops in Arabia, the US telling people what to do, George Bush as president, bombs blowing up buildings, kidnappings, a puppet Iraqi government, blah, blah.  Nobody wants anything.  They DON"T want everything.

And everyone is bailing.  Led, by of all people, the Philipinnes, case after case of negotiating with these kidnappers has led directly to more and more kidnappings.  Doesn't everyone know how this works already?  You cave and it encourages more.

Egypt makes public statements trying not to piss off the insurgents for fears of reprisals.  Guess what?  That means the insurgents are running things.  I'm ashamed of the world we live in right now, a world too scared to face the threat of Islamic terrorism together, so we break apart and go around blaming each other and the big boogy-man, the US.  It's insanity. 

UPDATE:  Intriguing ideas about the war of Ideas.

"In my view, moderate Muslims today are in a position that is analogous to that of ordinary Germans and Japanese in World War II. Although they may not be personally committed to the rabid ideology that is behind the behavior of the warmongers, they are in awe of it.

For all practical purposes, most of the Muslim world is undecided between Islamism and America. If we adopt a more aggressive approach, some of these Muslims will jump off the fence and onto the other side. But passivity and weakness on our part would be even worse. To regain support of moderate Muslims in the long run, we will have to take steps in the short run that risk upsetting them."

Well, we're certainly doing that. 

Israel was Bought

I don't know the history of this, nor do I have the complete article link, but here's an interesting tidbit.

"Although Palestinians have legitimate grievances, there is absolutely nohistorical basis to their claims - some of which are utterly ridiculous -that Palestine is exclusively theirs and that the Jews "stole" their land.  My family - and Jewish settlers did not, as it is often claimed by Arabs,seize land, but rather they bought it. Critics and foes of Israel should recollect that the state of Israel was established by the Jews on Jewish and legitimately purchased land. And it was blessed by the United Nations and recognized by nations of the world, most notably the United States."


In my book "Israel's War: A History Since 1947," I put it thisway: "The Jews did not...'rob' the Arabs or 'steal' their land, but ratherthey bought it from them. As for the Arab aristocracy of landowners whohad sold the land to the Jews, they did so voluntarily and with open eyes."

If this pertains to You...

It's probably worth long and hard thinking about this.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Liberal Documentaries

If talk-radio is the bastion of popular right wing thought, the documentary is the home-base of left leaning spokespeople.

They're all creating themselves to fit a market and make cash.  I'm working on a doc right now and the writer/director/producer tells me all the time he changes his content so the investors will stay interested.  He freely admits it and shrugs his shoulders...and I think he's right.  It's the nature of the beast and as Instapundit says, Moore is pandering to market no differently than McDonalds.

Ahhh, The Market, the cause of and solution to all the world's problems.  Or is that alcohol?  I always mix metaphors.


Michael Moore being compared to Leni Riefenstahl by a Polish film critic.  It's true, we live in interesting times.

I haven't seen Triumph of the Will, yet, but from what I understand Riefenstahl was quite the Artist (said with accented e at the end), whereas the production value of F9/11 was that of a USC graduate thesis.

Anyhow, today's been crappy and I'm pretty sure the world's going to hell so....

Saturday, July 24, 2004


For some stupid reason I still have hope.
Borne Supremacy

I liked it, especially the style.  I don't know how many cuts were in the film, but I suspect it was about 50% more than a normal movie.  Much of the film was handheld.  I thought it looked great.  It seemed as though they filmed it like a documentary, lots of jump cuts and jittery movement.  The story held up pretty well, there were a few cool scenes and a few surprising scenes.  Not great, but pretty good.

As far as I can tell there are two types of spy movies: the thoughful kind and the action packed kind.  John Le Carre novels turned into films or BBC programs exemplify the thoughful spy movie - the Spy Who Came in From the Cold.  James Bond, of course, exemplifies the other - Goldfinger.  Both excellent movies.  There are a few recent movies which are falling in between, the two Borne movies and Spy Game.  I like these films, but I don't think they are quite as smart as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (the BBC Alec Guiness version), nor as kick-ass fun as some of the better James Bond films - Octopussy, View to a Kill, Goldfinger, the Living Daylights.

One of these days somebody is going to make a GREAT spy film, with the depth of a Le Carre novel/film, with the action of a good Bond movie, and if we get all krazy-eyed killer, the art of a Vittorio Storraro film...I think Borne is headed in the right direction, not quite there yet.  The models would be, what Heat is to a crime film and what Chinatown is to a dective film.  We could use a spy movie like that.  Some day....

Friday, July 23, 2004

10 Best List

I'm a sucker for these things.  I like this one on new technologies.  A great line
on the Net (yeah, it made the list) "but it remains to be seen whether the connections to one another will transform us, or prove that we’ll never change."

I hope both.

The Republicans gave up their "principles" about states rights awhile ago.  The 2000 election decision was the embodiment of allowing politics to sway what any principaled conservative or federalist would have refused to review - the election decision.  And this whole gay marriage Amendment?  A Constitutional Amendment is the epitomy of the national government trumping the rights of the states...but he's got in all in this article.  The bonding with the religious right was a pact with a group that does not come close to sharing the views of a traditional internationalist conservative in the vein of Edmund Burke or Alexander Hamilton and later Barry the article mentions.

But here's the other thing:

"In reality, he insists, "there are no federalists in this debate."  In his view, liberals are just using the federalism argument as a stalling tactic until they can impose a single national policy—namely, allowing same-sex marriage. He's on to something: Principled opponents of centralized power have never been found on the left, and they are vanishing on the right as well. When it comes to federalism, we are all liberals now."

Principles be damned, it's all about positions.   The scary thing to me about positions is that they are inevitably proved wrong over the course of time.  To ensure we are set up to deal with that eventuality, we have a system, a Federalist system, designed with checks and balances on ALL powers - that of the states, that of the national government, that of the legislature, the president, the judiciary, and yes, of popular opinion...

It's hard to make the structural arguments when it is clear that it's only a tactic to push forward an agenda or a position.  It's as if we're all turning into Johnnie Cochran's trying to out-clever the other side, using the law to push forward our own political beliefs.  How un-democratic!

I find this rhetoric on the left a lot with respect to G W Bush.  They often say, "I didn't vote for him, and I disavow his policy or anything he short, he's not MY president."  Now I didn't vote for Bush either, nor imagine I ever could.  But I'm a Democrat (that's a big D) first and foremost, and being a Democrat means subjugating your own personal opinions for those of the majority.  That's the test of a working democracy - if losers are willing to concede to the winners the right to their opinion.  With respect to the 2000 election, most democrats (small D) are pissed about the outcome, not the process.  If the process had been the same and given Gore the victory, well, it would be the Republican's crying foul.   

But maybe that's just human nature.
Flight 93

This account gives me the chills.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Swing of Things

Acting in some classmates film project and it's nice to be doing the hands-on film thang again.  It's been an office and film watching summer, which is  okay, but not nearly as fun as being on set.

Remind to post on a good economist article about the Iraq war I read in the Los Feliz branch of the LA public library today as I waited for my call time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Oh, another thing about I Robot

I saw it at the Grove and of course, prior to the movie, they had Manny the stunt worker up on screen talking about why we shouldn't pirate movies.  I hate that sentimental piece of garbage, and pretty much all pre-movie non-preview fare, in general.  I was in a mood and let out a BOOO when Manny was up there, not so much because I'm in favor of pirating movies, but mostly because I find it completely annoying and condescending.

But something crazy happened, and I don't think it was a reaction to my BOO - when the part which flashes across the screen - "Put an end to movie piracy.  Movies - they're worth it." Some people cheered.  I've never heard people cheer that lousy commerical before.  I was shocked.  So I BOOOed louder.  Some people laughed.

I need to articulate - at another time - why this commerical and general attitude bugs me so much.  I guess it's the idea of movies as product and commodities just to be bought and sold and owned and everything, instead of stories to be told.  In the long run what does it matter that a film makes a google-plex of dollars if the story sucks.  Like I said, more later.
6 More Kidnappings

I just heard on NPR that 6 truck drivers in Iraq were kidnapped with the demand that the companies they work for must leave Iraq or be beheaded.  Apparently the companies are Egyptian and Jordanian.  The companies and families of the truck drivers can thank President Arroyo of the Phillipines.

UPDATE: Actually, the company is a Kuwaiti company, but the individuals are Kenyan, Egyptian, and Kuwaiti.

What do these guys think?  That getting companies and capital to leave Iraq is going to....what?  I've never come across anyone who thought the world would be better off if everyone was super poor and jobless and homeless....but that's sort of what they seem to espouse.  No wonder fundamentalism never caught on amongst the mainstraim.  Once people are given a choice, they choose the same things over and over again, regardless of culture, experience, history - freedom, safety, the ability to reap the rewards of your own labor.

The sad thing about the world these days isn't that the Islamicists have an appeal -  they don't - but rather there is a big divide between folks: those who know something must be done about the Islamicists and those who don't want to think about it.

And it's unfortunate the type of personalities that fall into both camps.  War-mongers, always happy to find a new bad guy, have latched on with great zeal to the war on terror.  They're not always the wisest people, but always ready to fight.  These people tend to be Republicans.  And then there are the people that don't really want to think about it, and I don't blame them, because frankly, the Islamicist message is pretty horrific at its core.  These people tend to call themselves liberal and in the very core of their beliefs is that ALL people are generally well-intentioned and similar and due equal rights and equal opportunities, and given those things, would be good.  They want to believe that somehow the larger world is to blame the problem of terrorism and that if you cure the larger world, the terrorist would go away.

The liberals might be right in a theoretical sense.  Had things been done differently way back when, we might not be in the boat we are in.  It reminds me of soccer players I knew who would always rehash and go over the games we lost and say, man, if we had just done this and that and this and that, and not gotten that bad call, or blah, blah, blah, things would have been different.  Perhaps.  But perhaps it's also a coping mechanism, a way to face something difficult - a loss, or a horror, where you retreat into a shell of self-blame, castigating the "system" for producing these bad outcomes.

To me, that's what so much of this anti-Bush sentiment amounts to - a diversion from talking about the real problems with the world.  If the Celebrities and Michael Moore and Moveon put as much zeal into thinking about the problems and contributing to possible solutions to Islamic terrorism or Sudanese genocides, well, I'm sure they wouldn't be as successful, as powerful, or as well heard...but they might be actually talking about the more relevant issue.

And the irony is that we can't win the war with war-mongers leading the way.  We can only win by fighting a "liberal" war, one in which we appeal the humanity of those fence-sitters and stand-byers in the Arab-Islamic world.  We can't be bossy.  We must inspire.  But all those liberals capable of inspiring choose to inspire bush-bashing, because, well, it's a heck of a lot easier and more lucrative.

UPDATE: And then there's these people, who believe me, are not friends of liberals or conservatives.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Beer Run

You gotta admit - this is pretty awesome.
I, Robot and other things

After watching some heavy movies over the weekend, I reminded myself what a movie can be -instead of this arty-BS and saw I Robot.  It wasn't great, but wasn't terrible.  I was ENTERTAINED.  I will say, though, it needed one massive action scene at the end, when the humans and robots have a huge battle.  It would have awesome, the stage was set for it, but instead the entire end sequence was a bunch of Robots trying to kill Will Smith (the sequence was pretty good and they did some cool shit with the camera, spinning it around in a circles and in all sorts of 3-D space.  They should have used the Star Wars convention, with a big battle interspliced with a small fight.

I think I'm working too hard.  I'm doing this job, this internship, and working on the 546, and I'm not writing at all.  Either somethings gotta give or I have figure out how to squeeze in school next fall.  I'd like to stick around the intership, but I'd also need to stick around the job...and I also need to do the school thang.  Man, I dunno.  Too much to do in too little time.

My friend wrote to me about the Sudan.  I've touched on it before, but don't have much to say.  I don't know why, as a world, we can't stop things like this from happening.  You've got a government encouraging the forced displacement and humiliation of a particular race...the Arabs are lashing out on the Blacks.  It's got all the horrible things you read about in history books and look down up those who lived under such conditions and allowed such things to happen on their watch.  But here we are 2004 and the same horrific shit is happening under our noses and we can't or won't do a damn thing about it. 

And I for one, am overly concerned with seeing the Bourne Identity, trying to a poker game going, and possibly acting in one of my classmates movies.  It's too hard to think that way, though, constantly second guessing and feeling guily about my own position and somehow doesn't feel quite accurate I could save anyone's life or make anything different.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

As Time Goes By
The past two presidential elections have been pretty depressing.  I've found it hard to get behind any of the candidates.  Bush certainly comes in last in my analysis, then Gore, then Kerry. 
It makes me look backwards and think of all the presidents or presidential candidates of my early days would have been better than the ones we have today - Carter, Reagan, Gary Hart, Bush Sr, Clinton, or Dole.  Any of these guys, so it seems to me, are better than either Bush Jr. or Gore, or Kerry.
I'm probably suffering from some nostalgia here, though.  That tends to happen, you look back on people much more fondly than when you know them.
So Lazy
Woke up around noon after a mellow night of a movie and a few beers.  My roommate was watching Kurt and Courtney on TV, which entertained me for an hour.  I ate leftovers and read an article about how Democrats need to organize like the Republicans and appeal to the "un-base" of the Republicans who are generally dissatisfied with Bush's cow-towing to the rich.  I thought about going to a movie.  I did Laundry.  I read some articles about oil consumption.  I cleaned up my room.  I went shopping down the street and was suprised that nice knit shirts were so expensive, 50-70 bucks.  I guess when I was working full time, I could swing that, but these days, that's food for a week - or at least half a week.  I bought brie and soprossata at came home to make a sandwich.  Stole the neighbors NYTimes Sunday they hadn't picked up until 4pm.  After noon the newpapers become fair game.  I thought about working out.  I watched Celebrity poker instead.  Angie Dickenson, Jeff Gordon, dude from Office Space, annoying girl from TV sitcoms, and Penn from Penn and Teller were on.  Talked about going to I Robot or Anchorman.  Decided to write blog entry. 
Lazy Sunday.  I need it after these long weeks....
Last night we watched the Conformist at LACMA.  Bertolluci and Storaro.  Freaking amazing looking film.  It's not out on DVD.  We saw a 35 MM print for $6 with a student discount.  I slept through much of the 2nd half of the movie - it was tough to access.  But an intersting film about this Italian Fascist spy sent to kill an old liberal professor of his exiled in Paris.  Crazy, weird shit going on in this film, I don't even know what to say about it.  The plot, which isn't completely clear to me, wouldn't really explain the film.  Descriptons of memorable shots would do a better job:
1.  Close up of two people becoming intimate in an office.  Zoom back like 200 yards to someone watching them across a huge empty room.
2.  Moving camera that circles around a character as he moves away from his mother's driver and lover into a new space, where the character arrives.  It feels as though the camera circles the character, while the character is moving.  It still doesn't make sense to me how they accomplished this.

3.  Room with venetian blinds.  The entire room is lit through enormous blinds and the women wears a striped dress to match the lighting. 
4.  There are a couple of interior shots with windows in which the color outside changes...especially the train scene. 
5.  The color of the car headlights...a pinkish yellow or something, in the midst of a grey, blue exterior, driving on a foggy road.
More on Cosby
Here's a weird rebuke of Cosby, criticizing him personally.  I'm not sure how I feel about arguments that take this shape - a personality makes a public statement about a public issue and then opens themselves up to personal criticism - "Oh, they're saying this because of this and this," and so on.  Is that being fair?  Or simply a convenient way to dismiss a point?  I mean, we're all human, right?
Who really gives a shit about all of it?  Cosby is OLD.  No one pays attention to him as a public figure anymore.  But he's respectable because he's old, as John Huston says in Chinatown.  I think the best anti-Cosby argument is that he's spouting off because no one is paying attention to him, to get himself in the headlines again. 
But who cares?  He's saying a simple truth about kids bsing around and not working hard and looking at a poor future because parents and teacher and schools and kids themselves are  too lazy to work hard and make opportunities for themselves.  He's right.  Can't we just get over the fact that the world and powers that be don't have complete control over one's own choices...even in more repressive societies than our own, people are people and have certain options.
I dunno, I don't even care enough to write about it anymore.  Criticize away... 

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Movie List
Inspired by Cinema Parlour, I'm keeping an online list of films that I want to see....they will tend to be more obscure films, as those are the ones one needs to "remember" to see, versus the ones that grab your attention at the video store.  Hence, Confessions of A Teenage Drama Queen will not be on the list, despite my affinity for Lindsey Lohan.  Pretentious, yes!  Arrogant, yes!  Remind me again are wrong with those things...
1.  Unman, Wittering, and Zigo (1971) - Directed by John Mackenzie who made one of my favorite films, the Long Good Friday, this film is about a British public school teacher (that's the same as private school in America) who thinks his predecessor was murdered by his students.  1971.  In general, I think British film gets the shaft a little bit - I love those 60s and 70s British gangsta films, the Long Good Friday, Italian Job, Get Carter...
2.  Gimme Shelter (1970) - Alright, it's not really obscure, but I've wanting to see this film for like 10 years and still haven't gotten around to it.  A concert gone horribly wrong and for anyone whose been to a Stones concert - fucking A man, that band rocks!  And the title is probably my favorite Stones song...
3.  The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (1974) - Documentary by Werner Herzog "If Walter Steiner had not existed, Werner Herzog would have had to invent him. Steiner is the quintessential Herzog hero, an obsessed individual, so confident in his own abilities that he transcends the human condition, becoming answerable to no one except possibly God."  Sold.
4.  Before Sunrise (1995)- I admit to never having heard of this film until before Before Sunset came out - but tons of people are coming clean with me and letting me know how freaking awesome this movie is.  Linkletter is going up, up, up in my book of cool filmmakers.  See School of Rock.
5.  Stranger Than Paradise (1983) - I admit to not having loved the Jarmusch movies I've seen thus far, Ghost Dog and Dead Man, but I've seen clips of this film and it looked awesome, so I need to check it out. 
6.  The Wedding Party (1969) - DeNiro's first film, directed by Depalma.  I just saw Sisters and loved it.  Found out Depalma went to a small Quaker school, which is funny cause a lot of my family is Quaker and my 508 was filmed in a Quaker house.
And this list will grow
Recently, I've seen a couple of 70s movies where I've been like, "Holy-Shit -- now that's a movie."  Saw one last night - Sisters, by Brian Depalma, director of Scarface, Carrie, Mission Impossible, etc.  This one he did in his early new york days.  Depalma, to me, is a a little bit younger and cooler than Lucas or Spielberg, almost like Coppola, but less interested in befriending the newbies.  My favorite Brian Depalma story is that when he saw a test screening of Star Wars, he laughed at Lucas and told him how stupid it was.  I think Lucas took away his points in the film (they used to give each other points, so that if the films made money, they all benefited).  I bet Depalma regrets that one...or maybe he doesn't.
If Sisters is any indication, American cinema was going in a different, and I would argue, better direction in the early 1970 than the post-Star Wars era of the blockbuster.  Today, we look around theaters and see mostly HUGE budget movies, costing 100 Mil and making 150 Mil.  There is little to no use for the 5 Million dollar films that makes 8 Million.   It's almost a waste of time for the studios to pay attention to.
I remember my first internship in the industry, during college, an internship that turned me off from filmmaking for 4 years, basically.  I worked at a production company on the Universal lot.  I read a lot of shitty scripts for this young guy, a Pomona grad, hustling his way up in the industry.  (I hear now he's an executive somewhere).  I told him how shitty I though everything was and he asked whether I like ANYTHING.  I said, well, I read this screenplay "Straightman" which was written by Richard Russo and based upon his book that was really good. 
He smiled and was like, "Ehhh.  It's good, yeah, but there's no money there.  Take Nobody's Fool, a nice movie, it made a little money....but what's the point.  It's not going to be a big hit."
To my mind, I thought, "but the whole point to movie-making was to make a GOOD movie, big or small, not a mega-profitable one."
Then he gave me this script called the 6th Sense to read.  It was good.  And as it turned out, huge.
But Sisters was nuts - Depalma does some crazy stuff for 1973, split screens, camera trickery through and back through the television, not to mention a creepy and scary story about separated siamese twins and a murder.  The story starts off on this nice African American protagonist, becomes the story of one of the siamese twins, and then becomes the story of a reporter who witnesses (or thinks she does) a murder.  Scored by the guy who did a bunch of Hitchcock films, it definately was influenced by Psycho, and has a few CLEVER and brilliant moments.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Racial Profiling
I had an experience similar to this woman flying back from Seattle to San Fran over the 4th of July a couple of years ago.  I guess it wasn't to this extent, with FBI running down the hall of SFO to board my flight and herd a group of 14 Middle Eastern men off the plane, but a couple of Egyptian looking me were asked to get off the plane only a few minutes before take-off...during the flight, the guy I ended up sitting next to had legal papers asking for political asylum in the US from Ethiopia.  It was a weird experience that got me thinking.
Is this a case of the Bush administration building fear into our heads and us becoming delusional?  Read this account and I'm positive you'll think differently.
Congressional Black Caucus

Some members are protesting the Sudanese embassy and getting themselves arrested.

Hmmm...why do they expect a government willingly allowing a genocide to occur would give a shit if a couple of folks protesting outside their embassy? I'm down for protesting - I just think it only works with democratic and liberal governments. Autocrats tend to either ignore or destroy protests.

I admire their willingness to voice themselves, but am unsure whether they are naive enough to think it will do any good.

It goes along with an article I was reading today at work about Egypt. It gave a brief history of Islamic radicalism, which was born in Egypt in the 1920s. Nasser suppressed the radicals (killing Qutb, one of intellectual founders of modern day Islamic radicalism). When Sadat came to power he tried to promote a moderate secular state (versus Nasser's Nationalistic agenda)- he allowed for the freedom of religious expression, even for the radicals. And he also wanted peace and to recognize Israel. He did both of these things. What happened? An Islamic radical assassinated him. Doesn't seem fair does it? I wonder where the world would be now had Sadat and Egypt modernized and been a model, like Turkey. Or even, possibly, an Islamic nation that respected the rights of minority groups. Either or, Egypt is the historical leader of the Arab world and carries great weight. Too bad they have a dumb thug, Mubareck, leading them for the past 20 years. I saw him on Larry King and seemed to me to have the IQ of a horse. Bush would kill him in a debate. Now that's saying a lot!

I guess the point is: protesting dictators and allowing freedom of "expression" when expression is defined by violence not only are not useful, but somewhat morally reckless. When in a position of power, ie in the Congress, and you don't use that power to prevent harm to others, I think you are being reckless.

Say someone is being assaulted in an alley. If a policeman watched the assault and started yelling "Hey, stop doing that!" to the attacker, and the attacker didn't stop...I don't think the policeman should continue to shout, "Stop doing that!" Not only is it useless, but irresponsible, and morally wrong.

That last paragraph will give some fodder to those who find it condescending to think of the US as the global police force...those tend to be the same people who complain the first time something bad happens somewhere anywhere and yell, "Why didn't the US do anything!" It's all about the oil.

The other day I posted about how 70s American films tended to depict poorer, working class folks, whereas present day American films tend to depict wealthier people (on a whole, of course there are exceptions both ways).

Well, maybe there's a reason for that: American's are now wealthier!

It just goes to show, money doesn't buy good filmmaking.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Ride Home

Like I've said before, I count myself lucky to be one of the few people to listen to Howard Stern both to and from work.

Today he had Pimp Magic Don Juan as a guest, and man, is that guy funny. Somehow he's able to rhyme nearly everything he says. Some guy called up and asked to be a pimp apprentice. Don Juan cut right to the chase, "You have a girlfriend." "Yeah." "Would you let your buddy sleep with her?" "No, no." "Ah, then, you just failed the pimp test. What's the point of going through all the work, when deep down, you don't have it in you?" genius. Howard asked him whether he's needed to ever beat someone up, a ho or a john, he said that that's what the police are for - he's been paying taxes since 1974. Amazing.

During commercials, I turn over to NPR, and today Joe Horn and Emeka Hutchinson (???? I think I have the names wrong, they are basically black intellectuals, as far as I could tell) and they were talking about Cosby. The Hutchinson guy was criticizing Cosby for not putting qualifiers in his statements and thereby excluding the good accomplishments of African-American kids. Fine, whatever. Could you find a more boring point to make on public radio? It seems pretty much accepted that Cosby's point is legitimate and especially legitimate coming from him.

For me, a young hapa man, what he said just came across as common sense - and calling attention to people taking responsibility for themselves, their children, and their community shouldn't be a shock to anyone. And I find anyone threatened by such a statement reveals themselves as being a subscriber to victim-glorification...a deep form of self-loathing and hatred towards the world by ones own refusal to help themselves.

There's a time when things are wrong and we all, not race-specific, need to stand up to those things, together, and say what's wrong with them. The best example of that in recent history is the Civil Rights movement. Today, this formal issue seems to be what we call "gay marriage," but really isn't about marriage at all. It's simply about gay's having rights to pass along inheritances, share mortgages, jointly pay taxes, and get the general rights afforded to those hetero adults. To construe it into an issue of "marriage" is just cover for those to express their homophobia. And believe, I know, cause I've got some of that myself. But at least I recognize that I shouldn't act on my homophobia and hide my homophobia by pretending I believe in the sanctity of "marriage." That's the biggest crock of all.

It's important to be careful how we look at and treat Muslims in these divisive times. For the most part, I'm pretty proud how the average joe American understands that most Muslims are just like everyone else and that radical segments of their populations give them a bad name. We haven't seen the wave of violence and injustice towards Muslims by Americans, that Muslim governments and far leftists would have predicted. Granted, there may be issues with Guantanimo and undoubtedly, over time, when we are safe and able to reflect on what we did there, some unjust things will come out. But it's no where near the Japanese internment, or the Indian wars, or slavery, or other ugly marks in our countries past.

But there is also a time to hold people to a standard we hold to ourselves. That is part of respecting another as a human being, with autonomy, able to make a choice. Treating someone as a MAN. You know what I mean?

And that's what Cosby is saying - "Quit your bitching and sack up. Read a fricking book. Take the world by the balls. Take your opportunities and use them." These words, like all smart things, aren't just for the immediate audience (in this case blacks folks). All young folks and parents can use the same advice. As can the Arab governments and the would-be terrorists and the parents in the Muslim world. I have not a single problem with Muslims in general. One of closest friends growing up is Muslim. My first boss at work for three years was Muslim. I freaking like Muslims. I hate Muslim fundamentalists and I hate most Arab governments. They're a bunch of fricking assholes. And it has nothing to do with their religion or my biases or anything. When you're a dick - that's it, you're a dick. If a kid is stupid and unmotivated, black, white, asian, latino, muslim, he's stupid and unmotivated. Why is it hard for people to take in? People want to talk about nuance and context and disclaimers and qualifiers, when there's this world out there with potential if you can just open your eyes a little bit and be ready to deal with failures and success.

I hope this whole PC movement is feeling threatened, cause it's gotten way out of hand and we have smart people bashing it - Cosby, Howard Stern, Pimp Magic Don Juan, and much of the blogosphere. Word.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

News Round-Up

There's a descriptive word for this: PUSSIES!

I heard on the radio Chirac harshly criticized the US for not making cheaper AIDS drugs available to poorer countries with AIDS problems. I used to think Chirac may have a point about things, but now I think he's just a demagogue. France is free to develop a cure for AIDs and then get it to everybody for free - oh, I forgot, not only can they not afford to, they don't have the will or the capability. They don't have the brains, heart, or balls. But Chirac sure can criticize.

Here's the thing: AIDs drugs are clearly a big issue. Of course everyone in the world should, ideally, be entitled to the best possible medicines and treatment. But the reality is, you can't develop technology without investment. And you can't get investment without the propect of profit. Who would pay to invest in AIDs drug research? I imagine there are millions of Americans and millions of French who have never donated a penny towards an AIDs foundation - and I'm one of them. If I were a better person, I'd either devote all my free time to coming up with cures for diseases, or making money so I could donate it to people who would...

It's all a matter of resources, and I think persuasion and compromises should be made. There has been an effort for cheap generics to be distributed to poorer countries (i forgot the name of the law). Chirac thinks there needs to be more, with less restrictions. In short he's saying: "US companies and the US government have an obligation to provide these things to the third world, while France is entitled to sit around not contribute, because, the US is richer." I dunno, to me, it doesn't seem to me to be his place to criticize.

Oh, and I guess this is a good thing. He doesn't seem too important, but I'll take any good news I can get when it comes to the war on terror.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Some Things I Miss About San Fran

"Vice cops miffed that D.A. Harris won't prosecute alleged prostitutes. Matier & Ross"

I read the subheadline in SFgate, I knew immediately they were talking about the New Century Theater. They say it's on Larkin St, but I'm nearly positive it's on Polk...
Godard and Lang

There's a great interview with Godard and Lang, two cinema giants on the critereon collection** dvd of contempt.

Godard has a great bit when he talks about what kind of films you can do in france that you can't do in America, England, or Russia...but he also talks about movies that you can do in America that you can't do in France. Some of the interesting things - you can't depict a cop, a general, or anyone in a position of "providing safety," as doing something corrupt, taking a bribe or anything like that. You can't depict a French prime minister. You cannot address the issue of occupation or liberation in WWII. But you can show TITS and ASS! I guess none of us can have it all.

They both talk about cinema being a medium for youth.

Lang, interestingly, like most directors of his generation, saw himself as a worker, not an artist. He attempted to make films that were relevant for his time, not of all time. The extent to which films last, he thinks, is not up to him, but the public.

They discuss their different styles, Godards penchant for improvisation versus Lang's careful planning.

They touch upon what it means to be a director, but more in a negative way - ie, what a director is not. Lang says a director is not a traffic cop, that he arranges a world, but doesn't force people in one direction or another.

Good stuff. I think you could practically get a film school education by watching the CC DVDs.

**one note, in looking at the list of CC DVDs, you notice a very low percentage of films made in the US. I guess I can't really complain about a lack of US representation in movies, but it is telling that the "masters" are widely foreign. I wonder what that's all about. Oh, I know, a contempt for the US within the art community. But seriously, take away John Cassevettes and the US representation in the CC is pretty weak. But as an ardent nationalist and an amatuer film buff - it about balances itself out. To be honest, I don't really care all that much. It was just something I noticed when looking at this big list. But come on, a Howard Hawks film needs to be on the list...and for chrissake, I don't think I saw a John Ford film. And those are just some the obvious ones...we could go on. But I LOVE that the Long Good Friday is on the list.
Why Terror is Such A Problem...

as if it wasn't self evident. But on a rational, logical level, this article about Zarqawi tells an interesting story. Basically, he has no reason to hate the US. In fact, he liked the US growing up.

His hatred stems more from being a retarded thug looking for a role in the world. First, he was a drunk, then a wannabe soldier, then a journalist, then a criminal, then a criminal leader, then a terrorist organizer. He's hardly an great example of someone with a legitimate protest of American hemegony in the world. He's the product of clever advertising. Islamic fundamentalism gained steamed and press in 1998 with Al Queda. Queda became cool amongst criminals. This wayward guy had nothing to do with his life, he was tough, and found himself useful to terrorists.

Islamic Fundamentalism gives cover to thugs and criminals to act out violence the way children fight when frustrated. Toothless Arab governments give cover to Islamic Fundamentalism, allowing it grow and flourish because they cannot provide a better alternative. France gives cover to Arab governments because the money that can be made trading and because they are unfriendly to the US. And so did we, in the past give cover to these groups, but I think it's worth it to change those policies.

The last few days I've had a ton of ideas for a documentary. The one that keeps coming into my head is on Oil. A recent national geographic has an interesting article entitled "The end of cheap oil."

Some of the pictures are, predictably, amazing. Especially the ones of oil fields in california, these massive pumps in the desert. I'd like to find out where those are and go video.

A good documentary, for me, would address the history of oil dependence, how a strategic decision was made around the time of WWI to build petroleum based machines and engines. Our current infrastructure reflects this long-standing relationship with cheap oil and will someday be threatened by shortages.

I would not be interested in a polemic about the Bush family and conspiracy's about oil companies, but would like to address the politics in oil-rich areas, which tend to be militaristic. I'd also like to address our own culpability in the state of affairs, interviewing an owner of a Humvee dealership, talk to someone about the car-culture in America, the fascination with the combustible engine. And then also look at traffic, urban sprawl, alternatives to petroleum, all through the lens of Kant's Categorical Imperative.

I dunno, sounds interesting to me.

Sunday, July 11, 2004


Nice movie to watch on a Criterion Collection DVD. Loved the music, couldn't place where I have heard it before...some other film, I'm sure.

I found the political statement of the film interesting, especially after reading this article about Islamic Fundamentalism having roots in Euro-leftist thought...this film seemed to be an exemplar of that Euro-leftist thought, the arrogant American seducing love away from the emasculated young Frenchman. The corruption of money. The disconnect between the way things are versus the way they could be...and the obession of the left of wishing things were a different way.

And also the final scene, the death of love and America at the hands of an oil truck. Interesting given today's politics.

Was it about the man giving up his wife for the American, for the money...he was aware of it, wasn't he? She fell out of love with him immediately. A nice, generational film. Childish in a way. Full of wishful thinking.

Check out Dan Drezner's post on political pampheteering. Good stuff and he talks a lot about documentaries.

Last night went to the Getty for the first time for a free summer concert series.

It was, how should I say this...AWESOME. Amazing night, beautiful, serene, deep blue sky, wonderful music from Tuscon. Calexico was awesome, this band was like a mix of Ozomatli and Radiohead, brooding latin-infused rock. They played with a mariachi band. Just a COOL evening in every sense.
Amazing Research

First off, here's a great article written by a guy a couple of years ago with the intention of poking holes in the neocon argument for going to war with Iraq. Instead, what he found was that the neocon vision, while being flawed and reckless and often full of half-truths, has been right more often than the foreign policy establishment over the past twenty years. The Iraq war, he concludes would be justified. Interesting, no? It's sort of how I started out...thinking, this is crazy, insane going to Iraq - but the more I read about the region, the issues surrounding rouge states and terrorism, the more I saw the overall logic and how it might work. What is interesting, is the neocon predictions in this article have largely held up in the war itself. The most important ommission has been identification of foreign fighters coming into Iraq and causing a problem. Most people were more concerned with Saddam loyalists fighting it out in the streets of Baghdad. Neocons argued, in typical fashion: "They won't." This irked the establishment (State and Pentagon) who like to say, "But what if? And then, worst case scenario..."

The neocons in this case were right, the war went as smooth as to be expected. No one quite planned for the aftermath, the insurgency, but we've handed over power now and Iraq has sovereignty, albeit with 120,000 American troops lurking around.

Needless to say, the jury is still out...

The other interesting thing that I've found in doing research on newspaper articles over the past 3 years for how Arabs are depicted in the media is that many statements from Bush and Blair and company have turned out to be wrong...the WMDs, etc. The statement from Saddam Hussein, however, have often turned out to be right - we don't have WMDs, we have no ties to Al Queda, etc. It's a little ironic, I think.
Interesting Information

Seymour Hersh gives an interesting run-down on what's going on in Iraq and with the Kurds, Israel, Turkey, and Iran.

It's About Time

Interesting article on the Iraqi resistence opposing the foreign-led fighters, ie Zarqawi. This, I must say, is good news. Let them duke it out.

At the same time, it's worth being careful with any of these groups.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Shaq to Miami

MSNBC is reporting Shaq has approved a trade to Miami for Brian Grant, Lamar Odem, and Caron Butler...which leaves Miami playing Shaq and Eddie Jones vs. whoever...I like their odds.

Laker's are acting pretty stupid, if you ask me. Cow-towing to Kobe's asshole, fascist demeanor takes all the fun out of bball. Shaq has his own problems, but he is the most dominant player in the league. Whatever, I'm bored with all of them.

Go Pistons!
Radical Islam's Roots in Euro-Leftist Thought

Check this. Hey man, when you're right, you're right.

But let's be honest here, the far right is the same as the far left. Postmodernist actors Pol Pot on the far left and Hitler on the far right were both influenced by Heidegger. The political spectrum is a big circle that moves in many dimensions, rotating like a globe, with people shifting along the circle itself.
What the Hell am I Doing

I've been re-reading Jean Pierre's book entitled Film Production Theory. It's a great book for film students, but really frustrating to think about at the time I imagine he wants it to be.

He argues, convincingly, that film school is really just time to hone your talent. Looking at it that way, it's pretty easy to argue that it's a waste of money. What you're buying is time and friends, really, to help you make your films and bounce ideas around.

He also argues to get the hell out of Los Angeles. The sirens song is too sweet here, the allure of money and fame, to join the rat-race is too compelling and at the same time, crippling to the creative spirit. One will be under constant pressue to "show" what they've done, before we are really ready to.

And he argues fiercely against competition. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Film school is fairly competitive and our 507, which JP was one of the teachers, was fairly competitive. It may just be the people, but really, it's the structure set up from day 1 - compete for scholarships, compete for 546. A lot of USC is set up that way on purpose, to prepare for the real world. But what is the real world? According to JP, just another arbitrary way things are structured.

I think his perscription is to live on the cheap, make movies on the cheap, on your own. He argues strongly against going in debt. How else does one pay for school? Does the MFA matter? I feel like the only one who actually cares about getting the MFA. I know it's useless in terms of getting work and meaningless to the world around me...but I'm actually interested in having a Master's degree in film. I'm interested in having gone through a rigorous program....but yeah, it does cost money, what can I say?

The other factor for me right now is this internship. I see what they are doing to make a documentary and I'm like - I could do this right now, if I put my mind towards it. It seems basically like a research paper on film, juiced up to make a little more sexy and exciting. But I feel like I make my research papers sexy and exciting, anyway.

I like LA. I think when JP says get out of LA, he means get out of West LA and the lure of the entertainment industry. That I can understand. But the east-side is a different story, I feel like, cooler, edgier, better. I've done my the best work of my life this past year - the movies, my blog, and my screenplay. So in some sense, I have to be really happy with things. But it cost a lot of money and I'm not sure if it is a sustainable lifestyle. We'll see.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Been Lame

Literally, my computer was infected with too much adware and I had to do a reformat of the hard drive. Don't know if that's the only way to fully get rid of that shit, but it's what I did...

Some interesting news from the last couple of days...

I'm admittedly a snoot about internet dating, but honestly, I think this news will help me get over it.

Women cheating are getting a lot of attention by the press these days. It doesn't surprise reminds me of a funny question I used to ask: who has more sex, men or women? Uhhh, well, it has to be the same, right? (regular hetero, no orgy, sex I mean....errrr, what do you mean, regular....ohhh, you know what I mean, jerk off)

But that's not all, on Howard Stern today, men were going nuts over this book on how to break up with your wife which is not being sold in a lot of bookstores. Remind me, I need to find a link on how to buy it - and then buy it. I'm telling you, the gays got it all wrong wanting this marriage thing...

And we had another cinema parlour last night at Andy's frat house. We watched Scarecrow a 1973 movie with Al Pacino and Gene Hackman, directed by some guy name Jerry Schlozberg or something...some of the folks liked it. It reminded me of the King of Marvin Garden's a Bruce Dern, Jack Nicholson, Robert Towne film that was boring beyond belief. The 70s was a great decade of film in America, but it's worth remembering the bad with the good. For Chinatown, there was the King of Marvin Garden's and for the Dog Day Afternoons and French Connections, there is Scarecrow....

It was boring. Two guys join up together hitchiking from Cali to back Pittsburg. It's mostly about their relationship and their dreams, Al plays this funny-guy (who wasn't really funny) and Gene this tough guy out of prison, with a dream of opening a carwash. It's rather plotless and they try to make it to Pittsburg, travelling like beats twenty years after On the Road. Oh, go on, point out Easy Rider had no plot, 5 Easy Pieces had no plot, but to prove that it was a bad movie. The proof is in the didn't work for me, no big loss. But it does remind me that for how the 70s is romanticized as a "Decade under the Influence," they managed to churn out a lot of cheap crap themselves...crap isn't exclusive to hollywood.

One interesting thing from a cultural perspective, is that during the 70s they depicted more laborers and lower class folks whereas today the majority of films depict professionals of one sort or another. Somebody ought to do an emperical study and hypothesize why that is.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

What I Don't Understand

Why do the "liberals" I know all criticize US Foreign policy so much, as if no other countries ever do any wrong. Like say, France, who hasn't met a dictator or genocide they didn't passively approve of for the past 30 years...

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

My Early Morning Job - DO THAT THANG!

The main reason my job exists is that we have a lot of overseas customers in Asia who order McMaster-Carr supply parts.

Today I had an email from a guy in Vietnam named Do Nhat Thang. I laughed and laughed.
My Early Morning Job - DO THAT THANG!

The main reason my job exists is that we have a lot of overseas customers in Asia who order McMaster-Carr supply parts.

Today I had an email from a guy in Vietnam named Do Nhat Thang. I laughed and laughed.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Honestly not sure how to feel about this. A masked group threatening Zarqawi. An enemies enemy is your friend...but isn't that how this whole Al Queda thing got started anyway - as helping us fight the Soviets.

I'd love to see Zarqawi get it, but there's something about masked guys making death threats on TV that sort of sends chills up my spine and makes me not want to get in bed with them.
The Holocaust Industry

My job and my internship couldn't be more different from one another. The internship is a family like atmosphere, we're squeezed together and forced to share everything, most notably, limited space. At my job, it's completely impersonal and lame, I can sit in my corner all day and not call attention to myself and it makes everyone around me all the happier to not interact. Both have ups and downs - and I'll get into more some other time.

But onto the post...along with this difference is intellectual stimulation. We get into fun discussions at the internship, today Michael made a point about how he started looking at the NY Times Book Review section about 10 years ago and noticing that in every single addition, there was always a book review about the Holocaust. It's a sensitive subject, so I'll try to remain civil, but not nearly as much attention has been paid to the Armenian Genocide or the Rape of Nanjing as the Holocaust. In fact, most people don't know about either one of the aformentioned atrocities, which in comparison to the knowledge of the Holocaust is, well, disproportionate.

He pointed out that for years after WWII that many did not talk about the Holocaust. Many survivors didn't care to. The NY Times was Jewish run in the 40s and 50s and there wasn't a big movement to inundate the world about the Holocaust. Somewhere along the line, however, the Holocaust became propelled into the forefront of 20th century history and it remains there to this day - the ultimate example of wrong being perpetrated against a group of people.

Why is this? Well, clearly the Elders of Zion have been manipulating our media sources and we're all supposed to believe this "holocaust" really happened...okay, that's a bad joke to most people...

Who knows? But we do know certain narratives get pushed to the forefront of people's minds and other narratives are forgotten. Maybe it's on purpose, maybe it's laziness, maybe it's because some narratives are intrinsically more powerful than others.

Michael gave us a good spiel today about making documentaries, that there are so many interesting things out there to tell stories about....for instance, a documentary about WWII from the German perspective. Note: All who haven't read my blog much, now probably thing I'm interning for a Nazi---but in some respects that's exactly his point - why do we shut down intellectually when it comes to certain issues that are undoubtedly complicated simply because it's WRONG? I mean, that never stopped me from trying booze too young or looking at pornography...

Anyhow, the answer is probably because it's too damn hard to get any money. And that's why I'm working at the other job, with the amazing cafe latte machine in the kitchen. Ummmmm.
Edwards and Kerry

Here's an interesting WSJ article on the reaction of big business to the Edwards choice. As far as I can tell, they're just being stupid. Just because Edwards was a trial lawyer, why do they think he'll encourage frivilous lawsuits?

Monday, July 05, 2004

Poker, Poker, Poker

I think we ended up playing for at least 4 hours total last night and then I managed to watch about 2.5 hours today of Celebrity Poker Showdown and the Foxsport championships. Wow, that's embarrassing. But I gotta admit, it's a freaking cool and fun game and I'm always itching to play these days.

I can't believe how popular hold em has become lately - for the longest time, all my friends and I would play blackjack over poker, but now, I can't imagine why we used to do that.

I remember in early high school, we used to sit around and have blackjack games on credit all during break and lunchtime, racking up debts on one another and then once in awhile collecting.

Funny stuff. I ran into an old friend of mine from middle school this weekend who lives up in the bay area and goes to organized poker games. He apparently sees some of my old buddies hanging in those joints these days.

I love gambling, but since when is it legal in California? We have these casino's everywhere, notably the Hustler one outside of LA? What's going on?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Japanese Superiority

Remember the good ole 80s as American shuddered at the thought of Japanese companies taking over America? Well, that proved to be all wrong and instead Japan has come to dominate a different All-American activity - hot dog eating. Weird stuff, man.

They're pretty good at baseball, too.
4th of July Thoughts

In the shower I was thinking about Austin Powers - the scene where he was unfrozen.

"And this is Colonol (some russian name), head of Russian intelligence."

"Russian intelligence, are you MAD?"

"Oh, Austin, the Cold War is over, the Russian's are our friends now."

"Finally, comrades, we'll make those capitalist pigs pay for their crimes!"

"Oh, no, Austin, we won."

"Ohhh. (uncomfortable laugh) Yeah capitalism."

The Egyptian and Sherlock Holmes

I left my internship at around 9pm tonight, started walking towards my car and felt inspired to stop by the Egyptian to see what was playing. The Egyptian is this fantastic theater on Hollywood Blvd a couple blocks west of Wilcox that shows random cool films. Tonight they were showing a Sherlock Holmes double feature. The first was called The Seven Percent Solution, about Dr. Watson tricking Sherlock Holmes into visiting Sigmund Freud to help cure his cocaine habit. Yeah, that's why I went despite being super tired. The movie was awesome and funny, mixing a murder mystery with the unconscience discussions of Sherlock's cocaine habit and motivations. In some respects, a precursor to the Soprano's - with British accents. Robert Duvall played Dr. Watson. Vanessa Redgrave was a German baroness recovering from a cocaine addiction as well. Plus, the best scene of the entire movie was Sigmund Freud playing an anti-semetic Kraut in a game of 1840s style German tennis, which seemed to be a mix of regular tennis and raquetball. Yeah, it was cool.

The second film was Murder By Decree which had some cool visual things going for it, foggy London streets with close up horse drawn carridges at nighttime. But I fell asleep and didn't know what was going on - so I left in the middle.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Psycho-Sexual Spiderman

So these Spiderman movies are pretty good. I'd say the second was better than the first. Doc Oct was cool. How did they do all that shit?

But let's get to the most intriguing element of the movie - when Spiderman loses his web making power...

It seemed to coincide with when MJ is in love with her astronaut boyfriend, when Peter Parker's "girl of his dreams" is off with someone else. He no longer is able to have the fantasy girl and hence loses his ability to shoot white wads of sticky stuff. You get where I'm going with this...Spiderman's power comes from his celibacy, but with the knowledge that his dream girl is out there, available and willing. Hence, he is able to masterbate all he wants, because he is potent but unwilling to "waste" his web on an actual girlfriend.

That is why Spiderman can't have a girlfriend. It's not because he's afraid of her getting hurt - doesn't that seem like a weak excuse anyway? The real reason is he can't waste his jizz on MJ when he needs it for his superpowers.
Congrats to Alana and Gabe

Not sure if either one of them read my blog, but two of my bestest friends both have had great opportunties come their way in the past week...Gabe got a job as a director of a movie and Alana got a job as a junior executive at 20th Century Fox. Both of these guys have worked their asses off in LA since the summer after our 2000 graduation's from college and are now seeing some super legitimate success - monetary, symbolically, and everything.

More than anything, it shows dedication and commitment to something can and will pay off. Of course, it's easier said than done.
Good News for People Who Love Bad News

Okay, so the title isn't all that appropriate, but I just wanted to show how cool I was by making a Modest Mouse reference.

Dancing Saddam dolls....the fact that humor is burgeoning says to me things may be going well. I doubt any terrorists would purchase dancing dolls of Saddam...just my guess.

Since this is a blog with not too many readers, I can make outrageous suggestions or inquiries without regard to decency...did Brando kill himself?

He was on the news just the other day and revealed he was broke. Then this. I know he was old and sick, but it would be consistant with the actors of his generation to do himself in...

it was just the first thought that popped into my head.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Bill Cosby Again

Another tirade. I hope I'm not one of the white people he's talking about...

Bottom line, what he's talking about is taking responsibility for oneself and one's actions. And while some people get the shorter end of the stick, it doesn't help to continuously pout about it. On a personal level, you take what you're born with and born into and you try to take advantage of your opportunities. You'll fuck up sometimes and usually, you'll get more opportunities. Hopefully, you take advantage of some of them. That's how life is. It's a simple truth that has little to do with race or gender.

Sure, some people get more opportunities than others, but how does that stop you from taking advantage of your own?
Pirates of Spiderman

My friend sent me a link asking what I thought about this.

A couple things come to mind: With respect to the 16 year old kid, I feel sort of like Mr. Constanza feels towards George when he's been caught pirating movies in Seinfeld. His gut reaction is to thump him on his forehead with the palm of his hand, "What were you thinking?" I mean, come on, videotaping a movie - that's just embarrassing. So, yeah, he deserves to get punished - and to not get laid very often.

With respect to the movie theater worker wearing night vision goggles I think, damn, that could actually be a pretty cool perk to the job.

With respect to being a movie theater patron with some creepy loser who works at a movie theater watching me like Jame Gumb in Silence of the Lambs, I'm a little freaked out.

And with respect to the studios, I think they can fight these little battles, trying to catch every 16 year old out there with a video camera, but in the long run they can't win that way. To win in the long run, they have to find creative ways to sell their product using new technology to meet customer needs to see their movies cheap and fast.

There's still something very magical about movies and movie theaters. Just because TV and DVDs and as Drew Casper calls them, postage stamp entertainment, predominates, it doesn't mean movies by any stretch are going down the tubes...not that the studio executives cracking down on pirating really care about that, though.

I think looking at it now, it's clear everyone's been hustling the audience - cities overcharging for permits, actors being overpaid, unions bullying crews and the studios, it's all a fabulous racket if you get an edge some way or another. No one gets paid at the bottom, and top feeders make tremendous amounts of money putting out a lot of crap.

But hey, show me a better system and I'm all ears.